Monday, 29 December 2014

Gajar Halwa using condensed milk

I have already posted the traditional method of making Gajar halwa using khoya before : Gajar ka halwa . This time, i made the recipe using condensed milk (Milkmaid). Not only did it make the halwa quicker, but the thick consistency and texture was perfect! I saw this recipe on a food show on television and decided to try it out, since i wanted to make a quick dessert for guests coming over.

Yes, grating the carrots is no quick thing, and requires tremendous efforts and patience if you are making the halwa in bulk quantity. But one spoonful of the halwa melts in your mouth, and all the efforts seem worth it :) And when better to make it than this season!!! The carrots these days are so red and juicy, that we are eating it as a salad with almost every meal! 


Adding milkmaid already makes the halwa sweet, so there is no need to add extra sugar (we like it a bit less sweet), but if you like it very sweet, then do add more milkmaid or some extra sugar on top. Adding kesar is totally optional, but i somehow love it.

Ingredients:

Carrots - 1/2 kg
Ghee - 3 tbsp
Milkmaid - A little less than 1/2 tin
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Nuts - Almonds, cashews, raisins - add any of your choice. I crushed almonds and cashews coarsely in a mortar and pestle. Keep some aside to garnish.
Kesar - a few strands
Milk - 1 tbsp


Recipe:

Wash, peel and grate the carrots.

Warm the milk and add the kesar strands to it and keep aside.

Heat ghee in a pan and add the carrots. Saute them till they are cooked. They will change a bit of colour and leave water. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning.

Now add the condensed milk. Stir well and then add the cardamom powder.

Always keep the flame low. Keep stirring to let the halwa cook. You will know it's cooked when it dries up and starts forming a ball.

Check the taste if you need to add more milkmaid or sugar.

Now add the kesar and nuts and mix it all well.

Garnish with some nuts and tastes best when served warm in this season.



You can store it in air-tight container and refrigerate. The halwa stays good for almost a week.

Happy Cooking :)))

Friday, 26 December 2014

Nankhatai

Nankhatai's are basically Indian cookies or shortbreads, majorly made with Maida or All-purpose flour. They are a popular tea-time snack and serve as a nice pop-in-the-mouth sweet when you have those midnight cravings ;) They are made with ghee instead of butter and hence the aroma of these nankhatai's when they are baked is enigmatic. Nankhatai's are found in different flavours/versions and popularly available in local bakeries all over India. 

Here i am posting a recipe of Nankhatai that i saw recently on a blog which was made from Atta (Wheat flour). I decided to try them for Christmas, since i wanted to bake some cookies anyway. And they turned out absolutely great. The addition of rava made the nankhatai's more crispy and i am surely going to make them again with a little additions and twist.


Note: The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup sugar, but i would advise putting a little less than half, as mine turned out a little too sweet with 1/2 cup (For our taste). It is according to personal liking, but at first try making it with a little less than half cup. 

Recipe adapted from : My Cooking Journey


Ingredients:

Wheat flour (Atta) - 3/4 cup
Maida - 1/4 cup
Rava (Sooji) - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1/2 cup (melted) - Might require more or less
Baking powder - 1/4 tsp
Sugar - 1/2 cup (Please read the 'note' above)
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Chopped almonds and cashews to garnish (Any nuts of your choice)

Recipe:

Grind the sugar to powder in a mixer/grinder.

Grease a baking tray and keep aside.

In a mixing bowl, take the flours, rava, baking powder, powdered sugar and cardamom powder. Mix it all well.

Now slowly, add the ghee and knead it into a crumbly dough. It shouldn't be too soft or too stiff, hence add ghee little by little and knead.

Keep the dough covered for 10 minutes or wrap in a cling foil and set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degree celcius.

Make small round balls of the dough after 10 minutes (original recipe says 18, but i made 16) and flatten them a little. Line them on the greased baking tray.

Now bake them at 180 degree C for about 15 minutes. (You will come to know it's done when they change colour a bit to brown)

Let them cool (They become stiff and crunchy after they cool)



Now, isn't your home smelling of some real good aroma?

Happy Cooking :))

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Sabudana Khichdi

As much as the health experts say to control eating the 5 white things in kitchen - Sugar, Sabudana, Rice, Salt and Maida - we can't keep ourselves away from any of it ;) Rice is one ingredient that we don't make too often as compared to rotis, but both of us love Sabudana. So, this recipe is a fixed once-a-week breakfast menu on our list. Hubby loves it so much, that whenever (i really mean, whenever) i ask what should i make for breakfast, Sabudana Khichdi is his reply! :)

Well, it tastes best when served warm and is a hassle-free recipe, if you have your things ready, especially the peanut powder. We Maharashtrians normally stock the "Danyacha kut" (Roasted Peanut powder) as we call it, and use it in various curries, sabzis or even chutneys. Danyacha kut is basically a coarse powder of peanuts which are dry roasted and skin removed.



The recipe varies from place to place. Some people add crushed roasted peanuts instead of powder, some add red chilli powder instead of green chillies, some add onions instead of potatoes or both, some don't add sugar but only salt. I make it in different ways each time, just to give a different taste. But this one is the way my mom used to make it and it absolutely tastes delicious!!

The key to make a good khichdi is to soak the sabudana in proper quantity of water. It shouldn't be a lot, as we soak our sprouts in, niether too less that the sabudana doesn't remains raw. Also, we normally leave it to soak overnight, so a minimum of 7-8 hours of soak is good.





Ingredients:

Sabudana - 3/4 cup
Green chillies - 2 (chopped finely)
Boiled potato - 1 (chopped)
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Peanut powder (Danyacha kut) - Just enough to marinate the sabudana well, so add little by little and see how much is required
Oil - 2 tbsp + ghee 1 tbsp (This is the way to get a great taste out of the khichdi, you can make it in only oil or only ghee, but we prefer mixing both)
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (i added green chilli and red chilli powder both, as we like it little spicy)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp (optional)
Lime juice - on top (optional but gives a nice tangy taste)
Corriander leaves - to garnish (optional)

Recipe:

Wash the sabudana well in cold water 2-3 times and then soak it in water overnight. The water level should be just a little above the sabudana.

Heat oil + ghee in a pan, and add cumin seeds. Once they crackle, add the green chillies and then boiled potato and fry till the potatoes are little golden brown.

Now, marinate the sabudana well with peanut powder, sugar, salt, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder. Add peanut powder little by little, just enough to coat the sabudanas well.

Now add this to the pan and fry well till the sabudana gets cooked. It should take about 4-5 minutes. Make sure to keep stirring, so it doesn't get sticky or stick to the pan.

I normally cook uncovered, that way it doesn't become sticky. 
You will know when it's cooked when it starts changing colour. Also taste for salt and add more if required.

Serve hot and garnish with corriander leaves if you want and put some lemon juice on top.


Isn't it absolutely tempting?

Happy Cooking!!! :)

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Appe from Readymade Idli Batter

Appe as it is called in Maharashtrian or Konkani language, this is a popular breakfast recipe is South India known as Paddu. They are made of various ingredients - Sometimes with rice, sometimes adding Poha, and at times only with lentils (majorly Urad daal). 

These days, we get readymade Dosa/Idli batter in the market. I have sourced one amazing south indian guy who makes this fresh and sells it near to our home. So, one packet of this in fridge and i can make varied breakfast of idli, dosa, uttapas and at times Appe. My aunt gifted me this special "Appe Tava" that is required to make these. It is a non-stick tava, so naturally makes for a healthy breakfast with less oil. You can make it with no oil too, but i prefer brushing a little oil, just to get a nice brown colour and also to make sure the batter doesn't stick to the tava (as the batter varies from place to place).




Ingredients:

Idli batter - as required 
French beans - a few (chopped finely)
Onions - Half for about 1/4 kg batter (chopped finely)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water - little
Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup chopped
Oil - to brush the tava

You can also add pepper for a different taste and replace/add vegetables of your choice like cauliflower, carrots or even peas.

Recipe:

In the appe tava, brush little oil and place it on the stove.

Mix turmeric powder, salt, beans, onions, corriander leaves with the dosa batter and add little water if the batter is too thick. Don't make it too thin like a dosa batter. It should just have the consistency to pour easily.

Once the tava is hot, put small amounts in each mould (about a spoonful), cover the tava with a lid and let it steam-cook till the outer sides become brown. 

Now turn over the appe's, so the other side is cooked. This time don't cover the tava.

Serve hot along with coconut chutney or tastes great with any chutney :)

Happy Cooking!!! :)

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Peanut butter squares

It's always my worry on a weekday night, of what different breakfast to pack in tiffin for hubby the next morning. I guess each of the ladies with kids or working husbands would have this worry before going off to bed. Not only different, but something that can be made quick and is easy, yet, healthy and tasty. Now to get all these adjectives in one recipe is really a task. There are times when i make the ever-green poha, Upma , Bread poha or Sabudana Khichdi. And at times when i am extremely sleepy or bred, i would even pack away a simple bread-butter toast or a cheese and tomato sandwich. But there are times, when i have time at hand, and i am all excited to make something new. So, those are the times, i make recipes such as today's post.



Peanut squares are basically peanut butter sandwiches with a twist. You can just apply the peanut butter on bread and eat it like that, (I love it this way!!!), or toast the bread and apply the peanut butter or make it this way. I also added mayonnaise in a few bread pieces to make it interesting and believe me, this makes for an awesome breakfast recipe. A little sweet but absolutely delicious!!!


Ingredients:

Bread slices - 4
Peanut butter - to apply on the bread (as per needed or by choice) - Can be replaced with Mayonnaise.
Egg - 1
Cream (I used Amul fresh cream, but you can use homemade cream or even skip this) - 1 tbsp
Milk - 2 tbsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Butter - 1-2 tbsp to toast the bread


Note: If you don't want a sweeter taste, skip the sugar and add salt. Or add little of both for a neutral taste.


Recipe:

Apply peanut butter on the bread slices. I have kept the sides of the bread, so it gives a crispy feel after toasting. But you can cut the sides, if you don't like them.

In a bowl, break the egg and whisk it. Now add milk, cream, and sugar (or salt) and whisk it all well.

In a pan, heat butter.
Keep one slice of bread on top of the other and dip in in the egg mixture and immediately put it on the heated pan. Let it toast till brown and crispy. Now flip it to the other side and toast till brown.

Remove it and cut the bread into squares.

Have it with a warm cuppa milk or chai. Some great winter mornings are like this: 


Happy Cooking!! :)

Monday, 22 December 2014

Winter special : Tomato soup

Before i start writing about today's recipe, i wanted to share a very funny photograph that i clicked recently at one of the wholesale markets selling masalas and spices. People do make spelling errors always, and some of them are so funny that they are worth capturing :) Here is one example:


Meet the "Meet" Masala :)

Well coming back to the post, Soups are easy to make, soups are healthy, soups are appetizing! Well...errr...No...At least that doesn't hold true with me and hubby. Infact, we feel soup almost fills you up and since we both like to eat something "solid" always, most of the time we skip having soup when we go out. Even at home, i would make a soup very rarely. But since winters are here, feels nice to dig into that warm bowl and hence i made a simple tomato soup along with Matar Bhaat (i will post that recipe next). Tomato soup, Matar rice and papad is how my hubby has been eating it all these years. I don't really know if it's a Vidarban way of eating, but it surely tastes awesome.



Everyone knows the recipe of a tomato soup. Yes, it's the most easy and most common soup. But i wanted to post the recipe, just because it came out very well and this time, i had cream at hand. So, the soup tasted even better :) Tomato soups taste different at different places. Sweet, sour, tangy, creamy, the variations are immense. You can make it thick or make it to a thinner consistency. The taste also varies according to how the tomato is - Red, ripe, soft, raw, fresh, yellowish etc. 

Recipe adapted from : Dassana 


Ingredients:

Tomatoes - (Preferably red and ripe) 4
Butter - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1 small (chopped)
Garlic - 3 (crush to a paste in mortar and pestle)
Cream - to garnish
Salt- to taste
Pepper - to taste
Maida - 1 tbsp (optional)
Water - 1 1/4 cup or as required according to choice to maintain consistency


Recipe:

Boil enough water in a pan, that the tomatoes get completely immersed in water. Once the water comes to boil, add tomatoes, let it boil for another 2 minutes and then put lid. Close off the gas and let it stand for 15-20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, you will see the skin of the tomatoes peeling off naturally. Take out the skin.

Now make a puree of the tomatoes. Heat butter in a pan, add garlic. Once they turn brown, add onions. Fry them well.
Now add the tomato puree. Let it come to a boil and then add the maida. It will become a thick puree. Now add water as the consistency required and let it simmer for a while.

Mix in salt and pepper according to taste. Garnish with cream or butter as per liking.

Note: You can also add a bay leaf to the butter (just to enhance the taste)

If you have bread croutons or soup sticks, nothing like it. 




Enjoy this warm easy soup anytime in winters :)

Happy Cooking! :)


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Chicken Curry

People always say that it becomes difficult when you marry a person with different food habits. Just as, i am a vegetarian (egg-etarian) and my husband is a non-vegetarian. Well, i guess it doesn't remain an "issue" when you take food as food (and don't really categorize it), and respect what the other person likes or dislikes. Like our day-today meals are vegetarian, but i make sure i make one non-vegetarian dish on weekend, just to satisfy hubby's cravings. At times, when we go out, i insist that he eats chicken or meat and i love it when he enjoys it. So, we maintain a balance of our habits and things become simpler.

Last weekend, i made Chicken curry. I don't really like to give names to a curry as the basic ingredients are always the same - onions, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. What differs is the spices (masalas) that you add. It brings out a different taste and flavour to the onion-tomato paste. The last time, i had posted Kaala Masala Chicken curry recipe, this time i kept it quite simple and didn't add any special masalas but the regular kitchen masalas that we have. Guess keeping minimalistic is always the key ;)



Ingredients:

Chicken pieces - 250 gms
Onions - 3 medium
Tomatoes - 2 medium
Garlic - 8-10 pieces
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece
Red chillies - 2 (optional). 
Salt - to taste
Oil - 3 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Corriander powder - 2 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Water - as required
Asafoetida - a pinch

To marinate :
Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
salt - a pinch

Recipe:

Wash the chicken pieces and marinate it with ginger garlic paste, lemon juice and salt and keep aside for an hour. You can cover it with a cling foil and refrigerate or just keep it aside till you make your masalas.

Roughly chop the onions and heat little oil on tava and fry the onions till they turn golden brown. Make sure the onions don't burn.

In a mortal and pestle, crush the ginger and garlic together.

Burn the whole tomatoes directly on flame (As we burn brinjal while making Baingan Bharta). This way, the tomatoes get a burnt/smoked flavour. Remove the skin if it has already come out, or use it as it is. Chop the tomatoes roughly when cooled.

Let the onions cool down and make a paste of it in mixer grinder (Add little water only if needed, or else avoid).

In a kadhai, heat 3 tbsp oil, add the red chillies and asafoetida. Now add the onion paste and fry till it becomes more brown. 

Meanwhile, make a paste of tomatoes in mixer-grinder. The paste should be smooth.

Now, add the crushed ginger-garlic to the onions and fry for about a minute.

Then add the tomato paste and mix well.

Now add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, corriander powder and some salt. Mix it all well and keep frying the masala till oil starts leaving the sides (takes about 20-25 minutes). Keep adding water little by little (from the sides, and not in the middle) when the masala starts to thicken and become sticky. 
Don't add a lot of water at a time, as the masala would lose the colour and look.

Now add the chicken pieces, and mix well so that the pieces are quoted well with the masala.

Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Now, add garam masala and adjust salt.

Add water to the desired consistency (from the sides) and cook uncovered till the chicken is done.

I served it alongwith Bhaakri (the traditional Maharashtrian bread), but it can be eaten with chapati/paratha or even rice as per your choice.


Enjoy this simple chicken curry :)

Happy Cooking :)



Friday, 28 November 2014

Bread Poha

I love making leftover recipes. That's when creativity is best put to use, and it's fun when hubby enjoys the final product not knowing what's gone inside as ingredients ;) Like making parathas of leftover daal, or adding palak to it and giving tadka to make it daal palak, or mixing leftover aloo sabzi with a new fresh vegetable, or making tadka rice with leftover rice!!! It's always a new better dish that comes out of the leftover than throwing it away. Just the same, when you are done with eating bread as toast, with omelettes, in sandwiches and it becomes 3-4 day old or is excess lying in the refrigerator, this recipe comes as a best option.

Some people even call it bread upma and add vegetables (carrots, beans, corn etc) as used in the regular Upma. Some add potatoes (as used in poha) but i always make it with only onions and tomatoes. There are even different ways of cutting/chopping the bread. At times, i remove the sides or i use them and chop the bread in small pieces, and sometimes i absolutely chop it like a loose powder (always by hand). The choice is yours.


So this makes for a perfect breakfast recipe or a tiffin recipe. You can have it as it is or alongwith some chutney or pickle or even dahi(curd). I prefer having it as it is with my morning cup of coffee.

Ingredients:

Bread slices - 6 to 8
Onion - 1 (finely chopped)
Tomato - 1(finely chopped) Addition of more tomatoes will make the dish soggy, so stick to less tomatoes as possible.
Green chilli - 1 big finely chopped
Oil - 2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Corriander  powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few (optional)
Corriander leaves - chopped (to garnish)
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Lemon juice - on top (optional)

Recipe:

Chop the bread pieces or crush them roughly with hand.

Heat oil in a kadhai/pan. Add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Then add the curry leaves and onions.

Fry onions till transluscent. Don't over fry and burn them. Then add the green chillies and saute for about a minute.

Add in the tomatoes and cook uncovered till the tomatoes turn soft (not like a paste, but just soft). Keep stirring in between. Add some salt, so that it cooks faster.

Then add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and corriander powder.

Saute till all the spices mix well with the onions and tomatoes. Now add in the bread, and mix it all well. I normally keep mixing and cook for about 3-4 minutes uncovered, but you can cover it too (though there might be a chance of the dish becoming soggy, but if you like it that way and are in a hurry, cover for about 2 minutes or so).

Adjust salt. Mix it corriander leaves and sprinkle some lemon juice on top (just before serving) for that tangy flavour.


Delicious and quick breakfast recipe is ready :)

Happy Cooking :)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The one month!!!

It's almost a month i wrote my last post (my 1st Blog-versary), and that's taking too much time to writing back again!!! I have been busy and lazy, both! I wanted to write only when i felt like, and not because i had to! After all, that's what the fun of a blog is about, right? You write your heart out, and not just type words!!! This remains as a memory in the web world for us to see years later of what we did/felt today.

Ahh, am i getting too sentimental here? Well, leaving that apart, i decided to let you all know of what i have been upto in the last month (apart from lazying around, playing games, reading lot of books and spending a lot of time with myself). Not that the kitchen was out-of-order... Infact i have been cooking a lot, but just the daily stuff! So, after my Blog-versary, i started with the Diwali cleaning spree of home, some shopping of the usual rangoli-diyas-lights and of course making sweets! This year i didn't make our traditional Faraal (The snacks and sweets we normally make for Diwali - Chakli, ladoo, Chiwda, sev, Shankarpale etc) and instead made methi puris, nankhatais and kuchu nimki. I had been wanting to take pictures of them to post recipes later, but for some reason i didn't.. so, i will make them again and do so.
A pic of  Diwali celebrations from back home
And then, we went home for 10 days!!! I was so looking forward to this vacation as this time we were going to visit my husband's hometown-Akola for the very first time after marraige. And i was really happy that i got a chance to meet my extended in-laws family and get all the blessings and love from them. Traditionally, our homes had "Aangan" (kind of courtyard) and there would always be a Tulsi tree in between. And retaining the culture, i saw just that, with the lady of the home doing Pooja (Lighting a diya in evening along with incense stick and putting water and drawing rangoli each morning) of the tree. These small traditions imbibe a lot of virtues inside oneself.

Tulsi tree with rangoli in our aangan at Akola
We also got to visit the "almost-calculated" 100 year old home of my husband's where his great-grandfather grew up. Lots of trees, and the home surrounded with dogs and cats, it looked liked just the place for our vacation from the concrete jungles. 

The 100 year old home of hubby's great-grandfather

I also learnt a lot of traditional Vidarban recipes, of which some i am definitely going to try soon. Majorly from my hubby's Uncle who runs a catering business with his wife succesfully in Akola, and is himself a great cook. (I can vouch for it, as i lip-smacked curries made by him) My bag back home was full of gifts and most of it, the masalas that i carried back :)

Hubby's uncle making Karela-curry

This time the Pune visit was all about spending time with the family, so we didn't venture eating-out much. But we surely satisfied our sandwich cravings, the still-feel-the-taste-in-my-mouth Dabeli, and of course the ever famous Good luck cafe which we visited even last time for their famous Bun-maska Chai. The iranian cafe has a different charm to it, and just going to that place makes you walk back in time. 


The famous dabeli


This time, we also visited the "Konkan express", as husband wanted to gorge on some sea-food. The malvani-konkani style food was fingerliscious. Me, being a vegetarian ordered their green thali (the veg xacuti and solkadhi being the speciality) and i almost finished the whole thali alone :) Fairly priced, this place is must visit in Kothrud area of Pune for sea-food. 

At the Konkan express relishing sea-food

One thing which i would specially like to mention in the post is the Diwali fort making by children, where miniature versions of actual forts are made by kids with the help of mud, stones, and some readily available accessories. India has a lot of forts, and especially the Deccan region has a major of them being built by Shivaji Maharaj. Since decades, children make forts of mud in an open space outside their homes or colonies which acts as a source of learning for them in their Diwali-vacations. A lot of workshops and competitions are arranged these days and awards are given to the best fort built. We visited 2 of such exhibitions of which i am posting pictures. 
Note: Sorry for the quality of images, as all pictures are taken by phone and in low-light.







Beautiful, ain't they? 

Back home and got back to work (Pet-sitting) wherein i am sitting one handsome Tom-cat these days. Odin, as he is called, he communicates with his meows and loves jumping all over!!




Meanwhile, a friend came over to eat "mere-haath-ka-khana" and gave a pat on my back after relishing all the food i cooked for 3 days! Feels really great when someone really licks a plate clean even if you have made a simple "Varan-bhaat" (Daal-chawal).

Winters have started here and now all i have to do is cosy-up-in-the-bed with a warm cup of coffee or green tea! So hopefully i will do more of writing now :)

Happy winters everyone :)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

1st Blog-versary!!!!

It's already a year for my blog!!! Can't believe it! So, actually i have consistently been doing cooking for a year? wow... that was so not me a few years back!! :)
But all for good, i have loved my journey... 

From making my first "Sheera" at in-laws place after marriage (1 and half years back) :



... To standing next to a renowned Italian Chef Luca of Grand Hyatt Regency and attending a Masterclass:




Just to recall the first few lines from my first post :

I was wondering, there are soooooo many food blogs on the internet! You need to find a recipe? There is always one on google! I need not write a blog to make it stand out amongst rest. I  just want to contribute as much as my fellow home-maker chefs have done till now. I myself have borrowed recipes from Internet a lot of times and they have turned out super yummy. So my sincere Thanks to all those who take efforts to cook, click pictures and write about them, so it helps fellow cooks like us :) 


You can read it here : Cook... Click... Eat

There are a few times i read my old posts and feel i should edit them or sometimes feel silly at the way i have written things, but i want to keep it as it is, only to see myself years later of how i have grown and improved... not only in my cooking, but also in my writing.

And this ongoing journey wouldnt have been possible without mom and mom-in-law who keep giving helpful tips to me now and then.

Guess who's who? ;)

Also my best critic, my hubby who tries all the dishes i experiment, with immense patience and pats my back when they turn out good. A true-mate in all ways...



80 posts and 16700+ views....A big thank you to all of you readers, fellow bloggers, and friends who have given me all the support, read my posts, left comments and even tried some of the recipes...You make the whole purpose of starting this blog complete... A big heartfelt thank you...


Happy Blogging all of you!!!

Naralaachi Chutney : Coconut chutney

Coconut is something that i don't find commonly here in Delhi, and back home we use coconut in almost everything (even curries and everyday sabzis). So, when i go to the weekly market here, i make sure i stack the coconuts and scrape them and keep them in air tight container in refrigerator. Lasts me for a week, till i get my next buy. 

I had made Coconut Barfis for Dusshera and had some fresh coconut left in the fridge. So, i thought of making this coconut chutney and all i had to bring home was some idli/dosa batter. One scrumptuous meal was ready for dinner :) This chutney is very easy to make and goes well with anything. You can also serve this with tomato omlette or just spread it on a bread slice and eat it (i do that at times for breakfast and it's so yummy).


Ingredients:

Fresh coconut (Grated) - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 1 (adjust according to taste)
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1/4 tsp
Fresh curry leaves - a few

I didn't have corriander leaves at hand which gives a nice green colour to the coconut chutney, so my chutney is white. It doesn't change the taste though. If you have corriander leaves, do add them.

Recipe:

Put the coconut, green chillies, corriander leaves, salt, sugar and lemon juice in a mixer and make a nice paste.

If you want the chutney thin or runny, add a little of water or curd. Curd also gives a nice taste to the chutney but make sure to increase the quantity of green chillies then to balance the spice flavour. Or you can also add red chillies in the tadka later on.

Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Then add the fresh curry leaves and mix this well with the chutney.

Chutney is ready in less than 10 minutes :)

Happy Cooking!!! :)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Kojagiri day: Special menu

I had already posted about the kojagiri special Masala Milk in my last year's post (Masala Milk), so this is kind-of a repost walking down the memory lane since yesterday was Kojagiri Pournima too. As the tradition goes, we kept the milk in the balcony for sometime for the moon rays to fall on it and then consumed it.

So, my kitchen menu for dinner was some hot Batata Vadas and the masala milk. But i added a twist to both the dishes yesterday and hence wanted to write about my new additions.


My masala milk recipe was as follows:

I have purposely reduced the milk to half and added more of the dry fruits (You will know why in my next post, as i had some other plans in mind to try too ;) If the trial turns out well, i will post it in my next post!!!
So, this version turns out a bit thicker. This thick version is of drinking consistency, but if you want it more thinner, what you can do is, either add milk to the thick mixture later on (It doesn't change the taste) or else reduce the milk to only 3/4th (or more) and follow the rest of the procedure.

Ingredients:

Milk - 1 litre
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Nutmeg powder - 1 tbsp (I basically grated the nutmeg)
Almonds, cashews, pistachios - 1 1/4 cup
Saffron - few strands

Recipe:

Boil 1 litre milk and then reduce the milk to almost 1/2 of the original quantity stirring in between, scraping the cream from the sides of the vessel.
Keep the flame low throughout.

Dry roast the dry fruits. Now, grind them to a fine powder. Mix in saffron, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder.

After the milk has reduced to 1/2, add sugar and let it boil till sugar dissolves completely. Adjust sugar according to taste.

Now mix in the dry fruit mixture and turn off the heat.


You can have it warm or cold.


I also did a new version of batata vada from my last post, for the mere fact that i didn't have a few ingredients at hand. :) 

Ingredients:

Potatoes - 4 boiled
Urad daal - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves - a few (I had the dried ones and not fresh. You can add any)
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (I didn't have green chillies, so i added chilli powder. You can either add both or one of these according to taste)
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp

For the batter : 
Besan (Gram flour) - 1 cup
Water - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Baking soda - a pinch (I tried this for the first time, and i was happy that the vadas turned quite crispy from outside)

Recipe:

Mash the potatoes and keep aside.
In a pan, heat oil, and add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Then add the curry leaves and turmeric powder. Next add in the ginger garlic paste and saute for 15-20 seconds. Next, add the urad daal and saute till the daal becomes reddish.

Now add in the mashed potatoes and salt. Mix it all well and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Let the mixture cool and then make equal portions round balls.

Meanwhile, make the batter using all the ingredients mentioned. Add water little by little as the batter should not become too thin.

Dip the potato balls in the batter and deep fry in hot oil.

Crispy Batata vadas are ready :))) They were super delicious, with the addition of urad daal.


If your batter is left, after frying the vadas, don't throw it away. Add sliced onions to it, and make kanda bhajis :))

Happy Cooking!!! :)

Friday, 3 October 2014

Dusshera special : Naralachya vadya

Naralachya vadya or coconut barfi is an easy to make sweet and is usually offered as a "Prashad" (offering) to God on auspicious days. Today being Dusshera (Dasra as we call it in Marathi), i made these and some kheer as prashad and thought of sharing it with you all. So here's wishing everyone reading this a very Happy Dasra!!!!



The significance of Dasra is not just burning the Ravana idols, but removing the evil from within. This is the day we start fresh and new removing all impurities from ourselves. Dasha Hara is a Sanskrit word which means removal of ten bad qualities within us:

Kama Vasana (Lust)
Krodha (Anger)
Moha (Attachment)
Lobha (Greed)
Mada (Over pride)
Matsara (Jealousy)
Swartha (Selfishness)
Anyaaya (Injustice)
Amanavta (Cruelty)
Ahankara (Ego)

This day is also known as Vijaydashmi which literally means "Vijay" (victory) over all these 10 bad qualities. In mythology, it is victory over 10 heads of Ravana from the Ramayana. Mythology is really interesting, if you add real-life meanings to each verse/poetry or story.

So, while introspecting myself and deciding to start meditation from today religiously, i made these sweets. After all, cooking is also meditating right? :)




Ingredients:

Fresh grated/scraped coconut - 1 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup ( If you like it too sweet, add 3/4 cup)
Alternatively you can also add jaggery, it fives a very nice texture and taste to the vadis. About 3/4 jaggery for a cup of coconut will be good.
Milk - 2 tbsp ( I read somewhere that this little amount of milk adds richness and white colour to the vadis)
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Sliced almonds - Garnishing
Ghee - to grease a plate

Recipe :

Grease a small plate with ghee and keep aside. This quantity of ingredients made about 12-14 vadis for me, so choose your plate accordingly.

In a non stick pan, put the coconut, sugar and milk and mix well. 

Keep the flame low, and stirring in between let the mixture cook.

The sugar will dissolve and the mixture will get watery...After some time, it will start leaving sides and form a lump of mixture.

Once the lump is formed, switch off the heat. If u overcook, the vadis will still taste great but will turn out to be little hard.

Now mix in the cardamom powder.

Put this mixture on the greased plate and with the help of spatula or the back of a small katori, spread it even.

Let it rest about 15 minutes and then cut the desired shapes and garnish with the almonds.

It stays well for 3-4 days without refrigerating, but i put them in the fridge since it's too hot here. 

Remove the vadis from the plate only after they are well cooled down.


Happy Cooking :)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Experiences at Kasauli : Part 3 (Food!!!)

Now comes the most interesting part, isn't it ;) Hehehe... 

Well, i want to be honest and frank here that Kasauli is not a food-place but every hill station adds their own taste to the even-so-common dishes! Guess as they say, the ingredients, climate, water everything adds to the taste of food and it hence differs from place to place.


The chana chaat
So a normal chana daal chaat with just onions, green chillies, chaat masala and lime juice would also taste so flavourful that you wouldn't want to stop at one serving! 

Street food is what i love to gorge on when on a trip keeping all the hygiene issues at bay! And kasauli gave a lot of food sights for the same. Everywhere on the highway, we could see "thelas" of Chole-kulche on the way from Kalka railway station to Dharmpur (a centre hub for buses and taxis). 


A typical thela(cart) selling Chole-Kulche

There were also the famous "Meat-chawal" dhabas, selling meat gravy with rice. Hubby wanted to try it, but everytime we crossed passed any dhaba, we had already finished our meal :) 


A Meat-chawal dhaba popular in hills


We mostly dined at the awesome Rooftop restaurant in our Hotel-Hangout... But when we went for a walk during the day, we didn't miss eating the much-recommended Burger on the show HOMP (Highway on my plate, which comes on television, which we used to follow regularly until now) from the shop Better Deals right before the Christ Church on the mall road. When i spoke to the owner, he mentioned that this is the 5th generation since the shop has started and is running successfully due to their natural homemade stuff like chutneys and pickles. Reminiscing the past, he mentioned that those good old days were great as compared to the tourism now, since he felt things are getting commercialized now.


The paneer and chicken burger...Yumm is the word!

Up north, indianised sandwiches (with heaps of mayonnaise ;)) are quite popular. So, to say, they add stuffing/filling in between the breads and serve (and it does taste awesome!). So when we went to the Heritage market, we tried the spicy bun samosa from Narinder sweet house. Their gulab jamuns and jalebis are also famous, but we didn't have a sweet craving that time, hence gave it a skip. Everything at his shop looked so delicious...


Narinder sweet house at Heritagemarket
The Bun-samosa
And while strolling down the mall road, we also tasted momos, that the place is famous for, due to a lot of Tibetan population residing there. Couldn't click pictures as it was already dark and was a small little stall. Then we met a very interesting local old man who runs a small tea shop. He had stories to tell about his good old days, and we sat listening to them all over a cup of a nice strong aromatic coffee he made for us. 



We also dropped in at the very famous "Giani da dhaba", and felt guilty for not listening to one of the friends to avoid it. This was one of our wishlist places and with high hopes, we wanted to eat there just to put a tickmark on our "Been there, done that" places, but the food was quite dissapointing and the service pathetic (too rude i must say). There is just nothing to write about the kadhai chicken and paneer that we ordered. 




We also tried their famous local fruit beer - Apple beer which was too sweet for our taste. 



Himachal Pradesh has booming fruit wine industry and the excise laws there are very liberal as compared to other states in India. Retaining the original fruit flavours, there were almost 14 different types of wines apart from the regular red wine. These wines have to be consumed young, as thy don't age as grape wine. The Cherry wine makes for a perfect desert wine, the Rhodo wine is made of a local flower considered good for heart. We loved the Peach and plum wine too which we got a bottle of each back home! 



And how can we not come back home with a bag of goodies... I always love to carry some local food back home! So, as the place was known for, we got some herbal green teas, some homemade chutneys and pickles (which are very unique and tasty), and some bottles of wine! :)



And so, a wonderful trip ended ! Cookininpajamas team definitely wants to visit this place again :)

Hope you all enjoyed reading my 3 part-kasauli trip!