Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Best of 2015

The year 2015 has flown away, and like every year I feel..oh really so fast !


The year began with lot of hustle and bustle , the BM 50 celebrations were in March and we all were excited and preparing for this meet. The tickets had been booked long back , but a constant excitement prevailed among the group and lot of messages, mails were exchanged everyday. This was a landmark event, organized by the Chennai friends, which seems like a sweet dream now.



Right after the meet we had our April mega marathon,which was named Fire up your Oven. This marathon was all about baking and a beautiful experience where I have maximum bookmarks. A couple of bookmarks have been cleared but most of them have to be done. This was one marathon which gave me jitters as we have hardly any sweet lovers in the house. All the same it was one big hit marathon where I posted each and every day including Sunday's, which was officially a holiday.

When ever I cook something new I normally like to capture it and so normally I do have a rich draft section, that is always a boon for my regular marathons. I some how manage , though at times I do cook specially for the theme.

This year I haven't been very regular with the Indian Cooking Challenge...life sometimes does become hectic and which makes it difficult to cope up.

Time flies and knowing my hectic schedules I stared working on the September mega BM. Fortunately I was done with all my post much before the scheduled time , we called this as Buffet on Table , a marathon where I did do some elaborate cooking, and enjoyed it too.


While all this has been going on I have had a couple of trips , where I have explored the different state cuisines. It truly is a learning experience.

Diwali is a time where I make lot of chocolates and sweets , but unfortunately we lost my brother in law , so there were no celebrations. We took a small vacation and on the last day broke my wrist which resulted in immense pain and surgery. But life moves on , right?

With December setting in I automatically cheer up as it is the time for my girls and grand kids to visit me. Somehow even though I did have about 10 posts done I did not participate for the bakeathon, which is an annual event at Valli's space every December.

With lot of cheer, enthusiasm the December month comes to an end and with that the year...but we look forward to a bright and happy 2016!

Wishing all my viewers and friends a very happy new year.
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Aaloo Daal Pakora


BM # 57
Week : 4 , Day: 3
Theme: Book Marked Recipes
Uttarkhand Cuisine

This is the last post for the month of October and I have one more recipe from Thali Spreads. For today it is Aaloo Daal Pakora which is served as a snack and is one of the favorite snacks of the locality of the Kumaon. It is served with chutney or tomato ketchup. 

The Aaloo Daal Pakora was very similar to the Delhi Aaloo tikki, the stuffing is similar, but this is a very mild snack, and If I were to make again I would use some more spice.  Adding some chilly would definitely make it much more delicious. Let the kids enjoy it as it is.

Aaloo Daal Pakora

Ingredients
4 boiled potatoes, mashed
1 cup mix dal ( Moong and udad)
1 tsp onion
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp garlic
1 tbsp green chilly, chopped
Coriander leaves
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
2-3 tbsp cornflour mixed with water to form a batter.
Bread crumbs to coat 
Oil to deep fry

Method
Peel and mash potatoes add salt and half of lemon. 
Chop onions, ginger, chilies and coriander leaves. Mix it with dal. Add lemon juice 
Flatten the potatoes and stuff the dal mixture. 
Make a cylindrical role and dip in corn flour batter.
Coat it with breadcrumbs, deep fry in oil. 




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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Rajasthani Mirchi Vada


BM # 57
Week : 4 , Day: 2
Theme: Book Marked Recipes
Rajasthani Cuisine

The Rajasthani Mirchi Vada has two versions, one where we use the big chilly and stuff it with potato , dip in gram flour batter and deep fry. The other version is where you make a mock chilly from potatoes and stuff a marinated green chilly inside, dip in batter and deep fry. For today I have made the second version.

Some people use a raw green chilly inside, but that becomes very hot, so I normally marinate the chilly with salt and lemon juice . This cuts down the spice and you have a nice tangy , spicy chilly to bite in. The potato coating over the chilly has to be done rather artistically, you have to have the stem out and coat the chilly, so after frying you have a nice big Mirchi Vada.

I made these for the Jodhpuri Thali for The BM Buffet.

Rajasthani Mirchi Vada

Ingredients
1 cup besan (chick-pea flour)
1 tsp salt
Water (to make the batter)
Oil for deep-frying

Marinated chilly
6 regular green chilly
Salt
Lemon juice
Wash and wipe the chillies and slit them.
Discard the seeds.
Fill in salt and drizzle lemon juice .
Leave it for 15 - 20 minutes.

The Potato Masala
500 gm potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida
2 tsp saunf (fennel seeds), crushed
Salt to taste

Method
Heat oil.
Add a pinch of asafoetida.
Mix together the potatoes, salt, chilli powder, amchoor, turmeric powder, fennel ,green chillies


Assembling the Mirchi Wada
Take the lemon drizzled chilly.
Coat it lavishly with potato mixture, making sure the stalk of the chilly is out.
This will appear like a big fat chilly.
Dip in gram batter and deep fry till golden.






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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Vazhakkai Bajji


BM # 57
Week : 4 , Day: 3
Theme: Book Marked Recipes
Tamil Spread

We are a great fan of pakoras, but since they are deep fried we hardly make them. The air fryer surely is a boon, because one can make these in them. The pakoras that we make are normally with chick pea flour, but the South Indian version also has some. rice flour , and are called Bhajji. I had never made or tasted a banana bhajji , I wondered how the family would react to these ,as these were totally new .

Anyway since these were a part of the Tamil Spread I was not really worried, as everyone had many dishes to eat. All the same everyone ate these and quite liked them, they were a nice change from the normal pakoras that I make. These were nice and crisp, I guess the rice flour does the trick.

Vazhakkai Bajji

Ingredients
2 raw green plantains, peeled and sliced
1/ 2 cup gram flour
1 tsp rice flour
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
Pinch asafoetida
1/2 tsp ghee
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method
Combine all ingredients for batter in a bowl.
Gradually add water and make a smooth, thick batter of pouring consistency.
Heat oil to a smoking point.
Lower the heat to moderate .
Dip the banana slices in the batter and slide them into the oil.
Fry the Bajjis till golden, adjusting the flame .




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Monday, October 19, 2015

Meetha Bhaat from Uttarkhand


BM # 57
Week :3 , Day: 3
Theme: Indian Sweets
Uttarkhand Cuisine

While cooking the Thali from Uttarkhand I wanted to make a traditional sweet for the Thali. Since the inspiration to the thali was Chef Virender, I took his suggestion which was Meetha Bhaat. Meetha Bhaat is very traditional and is always a part of Uttarkhand spread.

The rice used for the Meetha Bhaat is the local rice available in the hills. These look like brown rice and have a dusky complexion. The grains are broken but the Meetha Bhaat tasted amazing. I used mollasses to sweeten the rice.

Meetha Bhaat
Recipe Source: Chef Virender

Ingredients
3/4 cup rice
60 gms or to taste jaggery
1  tbsp ghee / oil
2 cardamoms, crushed
Pistachio for garnish

Method
Wash and soak the rice for 15 minutes.
Drain the water after 15 minutes.
Heat ghee in a pan.
Add the rice and saute for 3-4 minutes.
Add cardamom and double the water of rice.
Cook on full flame till 90 percent of the water is absorbed.
Add grated jaggery , mix gently and simmer the gas.
Let cook on slow fire till the rice is done.
This should take another 5-7 minutes.

Notes: 
Always grate the jaggery or used powdered jaggery for even cooking.

If the rice is not done after all the moisture from jaggery has dried up, you could add some water .

While the rice is being simmered, cover the pan and put something heavy on the lid, this will help the rice to cook on dum.













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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Rawa Kesari / Semolina Cake with Saffron


BM # 57
Week :3 , Day: 2
Theme: Indian Sweets
Tamil Spread


Rawa kesari is the sweet which I decided to make for my Tamil Spread.
Rawa is semolina , and kesari refers to the orange colour of this sweet. Kesari also refers to the saffron used in this delicious sweet.

The same kesari is made in North India and is called Sooji ka Halwa. In fact we have a Sooji ka Halwa in Gujarat also. Well may be after this marathon I will make sooji halwas from different regions, it is very interesting to read about the different versions of this sweet.

The Kesari turned out very nice, but I cut down the ghee, the taste was good but I was not happy with its appearance. Also I made a blunder by adding the powdered cardamon which had a few peels. But all in all the Kesari was a hit.( probably because everyone prefers less ghee.)

Coming to the recipe
Rawa Kesari
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1/2 cup semolina
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp ghee
11/4 cups water
2-3 strands saffron
1 tbsp milk
nuts and raisins

Method
Soak the saffron in luke warm milk. Keep aside.
After 5-7 minutes crush the saffron and you will see the milk turning to a beautiful orange.
Heat 1 tbsp ghee and roast the nuts and raisins.
Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
Using the same pan roast semolina till pink , it should lend a nice aroma.
Keep this aside too.
Heat water in a pan.
Slowly start adding semolina in the boiling water, stirring constantly, so no lumps are formed.
Add a little orange food color and the dissolved saffron .
Add the sugar and rest of the ghee and Cardamon powder.
Add nuts reserving some for garnish.
While adding all these make sure you keep stirring the semolina every now and then.
Cook till ghee comes out and you see a vibrant glossy Halwa.
Transfer to a bowl and garnish.

Notes
Ghee is very important in a Kesari and you could increase the quantity of it.
You could minus the Cardamon and saffron and use pineapple instead to make Pineapple Halwa.



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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Caramel Rice Payasam


BM # 57
Week :3 , Day: 1
Theme: Indian Sweets


You all know my love for Kheers,and a Payasam is a different name to a kheer. While discussing dishes from Tamil Spread ,Valli told me about this caramel payasam, I wondered if it was authentic! Valli quickly cleared me on that and I decided to make this delicious payasam for my Tamil Spread. I served it chilled and wished the caramel was more prominent , but all the same everyone simply loved it.

Caramel Rice Payasam
Serves 2-4
Recipe Source ; Spice Your Life

Ingredients
1/4 cup rice
1/2 lt milk
1/4 + 2 tsp sugar

Method
Wash and soak the rice for 10 mins.
Add 2 tsp sugar to a pressure cooker and place it on slow fire.
Keep stirring till the sugar has completely melted and comes to a pale brown color.
Switch off the gas and remove the cooker from the gas.
After 2-3 minutes add 2 cups milk to the cooker and place it back on the fire.
Keep stirring and now the flame can be on full.
Let the milk boil and mix with the caramel.
The milk will turn to a pale brown.
Add rice and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
Let the pressure release.
Open the cooker and add sugar.
Mix well.
Add the rest of the milk , let simmer for a while. Till you get the perfect consistency of the Kheer.
Remove and add nuts. Chill and serve.




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Monday, October 12, 2015

Roat , a sweet flat bread from Uttarkhand


BM # 57
Week :2 , Day: 3
Theme: Flat Breads and Pancakes
Uttarkhand Cuisine

Roat is a sweet flat bread from uttarkhand .
During weddings and other family or religious functions certain traditional Garhwali dishes are prepared, the most important among them are Roat and Arsa. Roat is made of wheat flour and is quite rich.

The traditional Roat is thick and round and quite big, but I made bite sized triangles, so each family member could eat one .
While making these Roats I realized its similarity with Sindhi Mitho Lolo. They are prepared on similar lines.

Roat
Recipe Source : Uttaranchal Recipes

Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cold milk
150 gms clarified butter / ghee
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp aniseed, lightly pounded
11/2 cups jaggery
1 cup water

Method
Heat the water and dissolve the jaggery in it. 
Sieve the jaggery solution through a muslin cloth. Set aside, and allow the solution to cool.
Mix thoroughly the wheat flour with the milk along with two-tbsp. ghee. 
Add Ani seeds and Cardamom powder and mix well. 
Add the jaggery solution to the prepared wheat flour, gradually kneading it.
Continue adding the jaggery solution and kneading the flour till it turns into a stiff dough.
Make thick roats like roties out of the dough , I made small triangles  out of it.
Place an iron griddle on a slow flame. 
Cook the roat on the griddle.
Turn the roat upside down and add ghee lavishly .
Cook each roat till it becomes brown. Remove the roat from the griddle 
Serve it when cool.



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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lesu, a falt bread from Uttarkhand


 BM # 57
Week : 2 , Day: 2
Theme: Flat Breads and Pancakes
State : Uttarkhand

Lesu is a flat bread from Garhwal which is prepared by stuffing Mandua dough into Wheat flour dough and eaten with ghee. I had made mandua ki roti the last time I made a meal from Uttarkhand, but stuffing it to wheat dough was new to me. I do remember my friends posting the Lesu. I wanted to give it another twist by adding some spices and herbs, but I omitted as traditionally they do not add any spice to Mandua. It has to be eaten simply with ghee .

Lesu is also a very popular breakfast in the hilly region. This flat bread is a part of my Uttarkhand Thali.

Lesu
Ingredients
2 cups wheat flour
3/4 cup mandua flour
1/8 tsp carom seeds
Salt to taste

Method
Knead wheat flour and keep aside.
Mix carom seeds and salt to mandua flour and knead. (Keep it aside)
Take wheat flour dough and stuff with mandua flour dough.
Roll into chappati and cook on a griddle.



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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Chol Roti from Uttarkhand


BM # 57
Week : 2 , Day: 1
Theme: Flat Breads and Pancakes
 State : Uttarkhand

We are working on Flat breads and pancakes this week and for today I have Chol Roti.

Chol Roti is a flat bread from Uttarkhand. Actually I would call it pancake, even though the name says roti. We need to make a batter with wheat flour, instead of making dough. While we were in Mussoorie, Chef Vireder treated us to these rotis. On tasting them I felt they belonged to a Sindhi Cuisine. Yes we have the same roti which is called Chilla, since it is made from wheat flour it is called Aate jo Chillo. aato is wheat flour, and Chillo is pancake in Sindhi. Surprisingly, there is so much similarity in most cuisines, the difference is only of names.

The dough for Chol Roti is made with whole wheat flour and finely chopped spring onions, green chilly and mint leaves are added. One does not need to ferment this batter.

Chol Roti
Recipe Source : Chef Vireder
Makes ;2-3  Pancakes


Ingredients

1 cup wheat flour
2 green chilly, finely chopped
1 stem spring onion, finely chopped
Few mint leaves finely chopped
Salt to taste
Water to make dough

Method
In a mixing bowl, add flour and rest of the ingredients.
Mix well.
Gradually add water and go on mixing to make a smooth batter.
The batter consistency should be like a pancake.
Heat a griddle and smear it with oil.
Take a small ladle ful of this batter.
Pour the batter, rotating gently in circular motion to get the desired size of the roti.
Simmer the gas and let cook.
Flip over after the first side is done.
Drizzle oil and cook the other side.
Serve with side dishes or chutney or even as it is .

I served this as a bread for Uttarkhand Thali with Buffet on the Table.



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Monday, October 5, 2015

Vendakkai Puli Kuzhambu / Okra curry in Tamarind Sauce


BM # 54
Week :1 , Day: 3
Theme: Curries and Side Dishes
Tamil Spread

Vendakkai Puli Kuzhambu ! I have to repeat this name at least ten times to remember.Seriously Vendakkai is quite tough to pronounce, but I am trying to get a hang of it. I better do !. Well this dish from the Tamil Spread was nominated as the best dish. My son loved it and so did my DIL ! I had never made a Kuzhambu before and I knew that this dish would be a hit the minute I finished cooking. The aroma of the Kuzhambu filled the house. 

The dish is served with rice and my friend Valli tells me that we can make a variety of these!May be next time.

Vendakkai Puli Kuzhambu is a part of the Tamil Spread I made for The BM Buffet and my Day 3 post under Curries and Side Dishes.


Vendakkai Puli Kuzhambu
Serves 2- 4
Recipe Source : Valli

Ingredients
6-8 shallots
100 gms lady finger
1 medium tomato
2-3 tbsp tamarind pulp
Few curry leaves
3-4 cloves garlic
1-2 tsp red chilly powder
1-2 tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste

Method

Heat oil.
Add lady fingers, saute.
Remove the lady fingers and keep aside.
In the same oil , Add mustard seeds , as soon as they pop, add curry leaves.
Add chopped garlic.
Add the onion shallots and saute.
Add chopped tomatoes and saute till mushy.
Add the spices.
Add tamarind pulp, ladyfingers and mix well.
Add a cup of water and pressure cook for just one whistle.
After 2-3 minutes,Gently release the pressure , and serve hot.






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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Potato Kurma from Tamil Nadu


BM # 57
Week :1 , Day: 2
Theme: Curries and Side Dishes
Tamil Spread

Among the Thali's I served for Buffet on the Table, Tamil Spread had maximum dishes and they fit so well with our theme of curries and side dishes this month. So here is a Potato Kurma ! I could call this an award winning recipe as everyone loved it.

Kurma or Korma is a vegetable curry which can be either curd based or tomato based. I had only heard on Navratan Korma ,and the Vegetable Qorma that I made for the alphabet "Q" while we did Cooking with Alphabets. When I had to make my Tamil Spread Valli suggested a Yam Kurma. I am not a yam person, in fact no one really cares for it so wanted to play safe. Potatoes are always the safest, so I decided on Potato Kurma, and I am glad I did . This is on our daily menu now.


Potato Kurma
Serves  2
Recipe Source : Cooking for all Seasons

Ingredients
2 onions, small, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, medium, finely chopped
2 cloves
1" piece cinnamon
1 green cardamon
3/4 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 medium potatoes, peeled , cut into slightly bigger cubes
1 tbsp coconut paste
1/2 tsp fennel seed powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Pinch turmeric
1-2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste

Method
Heat oil.
Add whole spices.
Add onion, saute till pink.
Add ginger garlic paste, saute.
Add tomatoes, let cook till mushy.
Add coconut paste, fennel powder and the rest of dry spices.
Add potatoes.
Mix well.
Add 1 cup water and pressure cook for 2 whistles, simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Let the pressure release, check if potatoes are done, serve hot.




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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Masala Beans Poriyal


BM # 57
Week :1 , Day: 1
Theme: Curries and Side Dishes
Tamil Spread


October begins and with this we begin with our regular three day marathons. September is a busy month with Mega Marathon running for the complete month. This time we had Buffet on the Table and it sure was one of the most interesting marathons, leaving us with many bookmarks. At the same time, I have some posts which could not be published during September,..well I would have gladly published , but this time we had a clause of max 4 posts a day ! I have plenty of drafts, and I am so happy that Valli decided to announce themes which helped us to post the unpublished posts.

So for Day 1 I have a Masala Beans Poriyal, which was a part of the Tamil Spread I served for Buffet on the Table.


Poriyal is a Tamil word used for a dry saute vegetable. This is a side dish along with Sambar ,Rasam and rice. Poriyals could be classified under comfort food. These are light and quick to prepare. A tempering of mustard seeds and some lentils is a must .Curry leaves naturally are a must in South Indian Cuisine.

There are many variations with Poriyal and the most common ones are with Potato, Mix vegetable and Beans. For the Tamil Spread I made two Poriyals, since it was a spread. Both the Poriyals are very different from each other. For the beans Poriyal, I made a spice powder, which made the dish absolutely exotic. I am sure I can put it under my party menu. Everyone simply loved this Poriyal. 

Masala Beans Poriyal
Serves 4 - 6
Recipe Source : Chandra Padmnabham

Ingredients
Spice paste
2 tsp oil
3 tbsp split Bengal gram
1 tbsp black gram
2 tbsp coriander seeds
4 dried red chilly
1/ 2 tsp asafoetida
4 tbsp fresh coconut
A marble sized tamarind ball, without seeds or strings
1-2 tsp salt

Beans
500 gms French beans, trimmed and chopped fine
Salt to taste

Tempering
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black gram
1 tsp Bengal gram
1-2 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chilly, halved
1 sprig curry leaves

Method
Heat oil for spice paste in a frying pan.
Add all the ingredients under spice paste, except coconut, tamarind and salt.
Fry over low. Heat, tossing gently, till the daals turn golden and the spices lend a wonderful aroma.
Add coconut, tamarind and salt.
Grind to a thick , fine consistency, adding 1-2 tbsp water.
Keep aside.

Place beans in the same pan with salt and 1 cup water.
Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes or till the beans are tender and have absorbed all the water.
Remove beans from the pan and keep aside.

Heat oil for tempering.
Add all tempering ingredients in the  order mentioned.
Mix in the spice paste and fry over low heat for 5-6 minutes.
The mix should be dry and crisp.
Add the beans and cook for 2-3 minutes or till well blended.



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Friday, October 2, 2015

Recap - Buffet on Table


The month of September is a hectic month where we post a recipe everyday. We work with themes which are mutually decided by our blogging group. This mega marathon has some or the other kind of twist or challenge, which makes it interesting to go about.
Here is a recap!

We decided to name it Buffet on Table and had five themes. We decided to make Combos for the first week . The combos had to be from different countries. A very interesting theme where foods that pair with each other were cooked . There is a vast variety of these , here is what I chose for Combo theme.







For the second week we focused on Indian States. India is a land of diversity. Cuisine differs across different regions as a result of variation in local culture, geographical location and economics. It also varies according to the season . During the Indian Food Odyssey we travelled through all Indian states and presented their special cuisine , but for this marathon I cooked from six selected states . I made complete spreads , check out for yourself.









Next in the series are condiments across countries. This is one of the most interesting themes, and since this was a Mega Marathon , I wanted to make special condiments , these can be used to enhance your dishes.









Breakfast is an important meal of the day . Each country has their own special breakfast and it is rather interesting to see how different countries serve their breakfast. I did make a couple of breakfast spreads during our Around the World in 30 days, but the quest to learn more is always there, so with Breakfast across countries as the week 3 theme here are a few more spreads from different countries. I have a spread from our own country India too where I have breakfast from all the four regions .








The last weeks theme is the most interesting. Bloggers choice where we choose to blog just about anything. Since I love traveling , I have shared my travel and food experiences in the last week.





With this we come to the end of this recap of Buffet on Table !Hope you enjoyed it.
A big word of thanks to Srivalli, my fellow bloggers, my family , these marathons cant be complete without them !







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