Monday, September 29, 2008

Trying my hand at Badane Ennegai


This was fun to do. Since I discovered this Tried &Tasted event of the beautiful Zlamushka (I guess she needs no introduction..) with her wonderful blog Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen the last time, I was on the look out for the next event too.
And again, she features a wonderful blog this month "Monsoon Spice" with an amazing collection of very original and very tasty vegetarian Indian recipes by Sia. I went through Sia's blog and couldn't decide on any particular recipe as each was better than other and each more tempting than the other. But, then when the desire for a good recipe with aubergines arose, it solved my problems. I knew where to go, and I found this lovely recipe, where , I think, for the first time I really had everything I needed, well....as perfectly as possible :). And I even had the tamarind paste, which i used for the very first time. Until now I always used the pulp with its seeds, and got a bit too over-excited and used a wee bit too much, that I had to add a pinch of sugar to optimise its taste, but it tasted just wonderful! It will surely go into my recipe book of "tried, tasted and passed" recipes!

I did have to substitute the baby brinjals with the regular large elongated aubergines, the only kinds I get here. And as you see it wasn't as easy to handle them. I had to use a number of thoothpicks to hold them together, and turned them while cooking wasn't as easy either. But, once they were done , I just took out the toothpicks and let it simmer for a few minutes.
And because of allergies (my son's, I've just go to know of it) I had to replace the peanuts with cashews. And at the very end, I couldn't resist adding two small tomatoes from my very own kitchen garden. :)
The recipe is just the kinds I thought it would be. I am so happy to have tried it, as this was the firt of its kind that I have made, with dessicated coconut. And infact, since I had a lot of it left for the next day, I simply added some water to it and cooked it again to make a curry out of it. Sia, I hope I'm not making you tear your hair out with this experiment, but it tasted so good!












So, here goes my entry to Zlamushka's T&T Event!
And this one also goes to a wonderful Event: Sas Bahu aur Sensax Contest at Edible Garden.

Wholewheat bread, another trial


...and it was the most successful one I have had so far. The bread was soft inside, just the way it should be, but the crust was a bit too hard. But, this was surely one time where the results, partly expected, were so good that you actually almost enjoyed the crust in the thinly sliced bread sandwitches I made, or when eaten with my home made jams. Yes, it was so thoroughly enjoyable.
It was partly expected, because I used equal amount of type 550 to the whole wheat unlike in my previous efforts, like here, any many others which I haven't posted here (waiting for the prefection to take place...!) where the amount of wholegrain flour or the type number was much higher.
But, still this was surely not bad at all. I just have to figure out how to prevent the crust from getting too hard. I think I baked it for too long. Or was it the temperature?....Or did I brush too much of milk on it?.... does that make the dough hard?....... No idea. But, next time I'll be more watchfull of the time I keep the bread in the oven. And the temperature too!
But, as I said, we enjoyed eating a healthy bread whose pleasure was added by the wonderful garnishings of jams, cheeses and once the corn-potato pattie -sandwitch which I made. The Rucola (Arugula in English) leaves and the red onion (not so matter-of-factly available here, but in season now) in the corn-potato patties sandwitch made it taste superb! Now, I'm sorry for not posting a picture of these, these were gobbled up so fast that I just didn't get theopportunity to take pictures. Infact, I was happy that at least I could take one picture with my home made jams, whose recipes I'll be posting soon.
Now, this recipe is actually a mixture of different recipes from my cookbook. Though I'm beginning to feel that I need to buy a good book on bread baking.
Ingredients:

Starter:
100 ml leuke warm water
1 packet (1 cube; 42 g) fresh yeast
1 tsp sugar

400 g whole wheat flour
400 g Type 550 flour
1 cup shredded flax seeds
2 tbsp salt (amount can also be reduced to make it not too salty)

400-650 ml leuke warm water
milk to brush the surface of bread once in the baking pan

Method:
  • crumble the yeast in a bowl and mix with the sugar and add the water to it to mix gently and keep asie for 15 minutes.
  • mix together the flours and flax in a deep bowl
  • make a well and add the starter in the middle and adding small quantities of the remaining water knead to make a soft dough. Be careful not to addd too much especially at the end.
  • Let it proof, covered, in a warm place (* see note below) untill it has almost become double the size - about 2 hours.
  • Punch it down after that and divide into two portions and put one in a bread pan and with another just form a round or oval loaf on the baking try and let both the loafs proof (rise) again for 45 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 220 °C (I did it with convection, therefore at 200°C), and bake the breads: the loaf in the pan for 50 minutes and the one on the tray for 35 to 40 minutes
I used my bread pan and one small pan which I bought for my son, as I prepared it with him together, and with the rest I made a round loaf. So, now you know why the bread slices on top look so small, as they are the ones from my son's pan. They looked really cute! And I finished off my breakfast with these cute and heavely slices of bread with two different mango pineapple jams (recipe will follow soon!)

*Note: For those living in cold climates, to let the dough rise at a "warm place "I usually switch on the oven at 50 °C, the minimum temperature possible, and switch it off after 10 minutes or so, before I put the dough inside. Cover the dough in the bowl with a kitchen towel.

Now this recipe goes to the WBB event: Grains in my Breakfast , an event initiated by Nandita of Saffron Trail and being hosted this month by Aparna at My Diverse Kitchen.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rheinish Apple tart

I was doing my regular shopping at the local drugstore Budnikowsky and found this rack of books donated by people living locally for a good cause. These books are given away for 1 Euro each as a donation and the money goes to Budnianer Hilfe e.V., helping children and their families of the socially and economically unprivileged.
Usually I do like to have a glance over them. This time one book lying in the front attracted my attention and I just couldn't resist not looking into this book with an old but attractive cover. After glancing through it I found a number of interesting recipes and a number of tempting photos. It was a cookbook from the early 70's in quite a good condition. It was a hard bound book with a nice cover photo of a grape tart and, on opening it, I found, though a bit pale, but really thick and strong pages with a number of photos in between.
While going through the book, I came across this delicious and tempting picture of a traditional Rheinish apple tart I liked immediately after seeing the simple recipe. Coming from a historical region Rheinland , earlier a Prussian Province during 1822 till 1946, and is still more or less a defined region which is now a part of the German state North Rhein-Westphalia (in German: Nordrhein-Westfalen) and includes some famous cities like Cologne and Bonn or the historic city of Aachen, to mention just a few.
The whole region including its neighbouring regions are well known for their historical and natural beauty and the castles found apparently on almost every hill there.
Rheinland also happens to be the birthplace of many famous people. To name a few, Beethovan (does he need introduction?!), Adenauer - the first Chancellor of Germany, Heinrich Böll - a Nobel price winning writer, and the more recent ones which many of you might know: Michael Schumacher (Formula 1? Ferrari? For more details, go here) and Heidi Klum!

So, it is not surprising that the region is well known for its culinary specialities as well. One of them being this simple, yet delicate, recipe of an apple tart I found in this book. It is called Rheinische Apfeltorte in German and "Appeltaat" in the region of its origin - Rheinland.

Servings : 12
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Baking time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

Shortcrust pastry:
300 g all purpose flour
100 g sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar ( or 1 tsp vanilla essence)
1 pinch salt
1 egg
200 g butter or margerine, cold and cut into small cubes
flour to roll out the pastry

Filling:
100 g currents
750 g tart apples (I used james grieves)
3 tbsp sugar (60 g)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I left it out)
















Method:

  • add the flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients
  • knead the ingredients of the pastry together into a ball and keep in the refrigerator covered for 30 minutes
  • in the mean time prepare the filling: cover the currents in boiling water and soak for 5 minutes in a bowl and drain
  • peel, core and slice the apples, cover with sugar and cinnamon mixture (I simply mixed sugar with the apples)
  • roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 1 cm thick pastry
  • line the bottom and sides of the spring form with the shortcrust pastry
  • put the currents in a layer over the pastry , leaving out a small portion to mix with the apples
  • arrange the apples on top either in circles or in parallel rows or as per liking
  • bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 200°C
  • take it out of oven, once done, and let it cool down a bit beofre cutting into pieces
  • serve warm or cold, which tastes equally good.
I had a small portion of the pastry left which I sprinkled on top of the fruits.

See Rheinish Apple Tart on Key Ingredient.


We ate the first round of the tart immidiately after taking it out of the oven. I have no words to describe how good it was. The apples just melted in the mouth. It is a wonderful variety of tart apples especially good for baking, but that it was that good was totally unexpected for me. The currents rounded up the taste of the apples so well. I was happy later that I had just the right amount left, as I don't always have them at home. But a much better choice than raisins. And equally good was my decision to soak them properly till they became softer.

This tart eaten cold tasted as good. And my verdict: It was hea.........venly!

The details of the Book:
"Backen leicht gemacht"
Kochkunst Bibliothek
(Sonderausgabe)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Chicken makkhan..... and an Award!

Chicken, as many of you might know, I make quite often. So, this time I started with a whim, I felt like using fenugreek and then slowly the dish took its form in my mind until I knew I was going to make chicken makkhan, also called butter chicken in English.
Since I have made this dish a couple of times I really don't need a recipe book, but still I went through many different versions online, to make sure I was going to make it as true to its name, but at the end it has to be MY recipe, isn't it?
Since I was in the mood of fenugreek leaves, I didn't hesitate to add a nice portion of it into the dish, and it tasted delicious. Usually I also add some heavy cream, but this time I didn't have any (purposefully! need I explain why? the name itself says it all: HEAVY cream). I have found that even though I plan to add a little bit of butter and only a little bit of cream, ultimately things get out of hand, and though the dish turns our good, but you are worried about those calories. But then to do justice to this dish , the name of this dish, I had to make sure to add enough butter, not that i wouldn't have done it otherwise. And as you see I just couldn't resist adding some chopped carrots either. It does the dish full justice.

For the recipe, read on...

Ingredients:

400 g chicken fillet (boneless and skin less), washed, pat dried and cubed

Marinade:
mix together
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp oil

Onion paste:
1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 garlic, chopped coarsely
1 onion, chopped coarsely

whole spices:
1 tsp cumin
10 peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 star anis
1 two inch piece of cinnamon

3 tomatoes, pureed
2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
1 large carrot, chopped
2 heaped tablespoons, ground almonds
2 heaped tbsp cold butter
1 tbsp oil
salt, to taste

Method:
  • Marinate chicken pieces for 15 to 30 minutes with the spices in the refrigerator covered, or until required
  • Prepare the onion paste by grinding the ingredients together in a blender
  • heat oil in a saute pan, fry the chicken on medium to high heat and take out and set aside
  • roast the whole spices in 1 tbsp butter
  • add the onion paste and 1 more tbsp butter and fry on medium heat till golden brown
  • add carrots fry for short and then add the tomato puree and some salt, cook till it thickens
  • add the ground almonds and fenugreek leaves
  • return the chicken into the sauce
  • cook further till done, adjust salt to taste
  • take out the whole cinnamon, bay leaves and star anise, if desired
  • serve warm with plain basmati rice or rotis (indian bread)
This was a total pleasure to have made this dish, which we all enjoyed eating equally well. The flavours of the wonderful spices each of which blended together in this dish to give it a wonderful, harmonious and rich taste. The best way to eat it is either with hot Indian rotis or simply with plain basmati rice which compliment its flavours wonderfully.

This recipe goes to the Event Think Spice, think Fenugreek at Kittens in the Kitchen.

And, it also goes to Srilekha's Event "Chicken" taking place this month and the following month of Oktober.

******************************************************

Now, about something very very special. Something which has made me so very happy. I have got this award from the lovely and smart Aparna Inguva of Three Mangoes. This is my very first at this blog, which has grown from a my simple effort to just collect my tried and tested recipes to a new passion. Thank you so much Aparna!
I would like to pass on this award to :

Aparna of Sumi's weblog
Ivy of Kopiaste
Sunshine mom of Tongueticklers
RC of Redchillies
Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen

If I could I would make an "Excellent " out of it.
Gals, you deserve it!


Friday, September 19, 2008

Arugula Tomato Raita (stirred yoghurt with arugula and tomatoes)


...with home grown tomatoes!

Now this is such a simple dish that you might wonder why I'm posting it here.
Well, for two reasons. First of all it contains my very first ever home grown pesticide-free organically manured garden tomatoes. Secondly, because I just love this creation of mine, however simple it may be.
Now, if you have eaten arugula, then you know what I'm talking about. If not, these are a wonderful variety of salad leaves with a wonderfully pleasant pungent and spicy flavour, similar, but only similar, to that of radish beans (beans of the radish plants), if you have eaten them.
Although since my visit to Italy last year I know arugola is not always arugola. I knew about the difference between the varieties available in the US, which were much milder in taste than those available here in Germany, but after having eaten those wildly growing spicy and pungent arugola leaves and flowers in a village near Bari, I was so overwhelmed by its rich flavours that I needed time to get adjusted to these varieties available in the markets back here which almost tasted bland in comparison to those I ate in Italy last September.
And that brings me back to the second reason of my writing this post. These arugola leaves I bought this time tasted the nearest to those from Italy and since I love this green salad I had just chopped some leaves into the yoghurt and added one tomato from my garden into my Raita and I had a delicious side to the paranthas in no time.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
serves 2-4 people

Ingredients:

300 -450 g probiotic Yoghurt
1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
1/4 tsp black salt (available in Indian and Asian shops)
1/4 tsp table salt (regular salt), or to taste
1 pinch chilli powder (or even more; optional)
1 nice bunch of Arugola leaves, chopped coarsely into large pieces
1 large tomato, chopped


Method:
  • Stir yoghurt throughly along with the salt and roasted cumin
  • just before serving, add the chopped leaves and tomatoes and stir gently
  • eat it plain, as it is, or served with other Indian savourys like paranthas or rotis or even rice (check previous post for it too!)

Rice Pilaf in my rustic way...













Rustic, because it is not one of those delicate preparations of a typical rice pilaf, but a quick fix for a simple dinner. However, despite my rice getting clumpy, the end result was just wonderful! In fact, quite good, if you don't mind the clumpyness of the rice, to which I had added too much of water so that by the time it cooled down it had become clumpy.

Before I continue further, I have to mention that I am a 'nutty' kind of person. No..no.. not the nutty you are thinking! It is just that I love using nuts and seeds at any opportunity I get, be it cooking savoury food or baking some sweet dishes or just eating them like that (If only they were not so rich -those calories....!). Hubby had brought a large packet of peanuts from the Chinese shop at walking distance from his office. And I was quite enthusiastic about using them in all kinds of dishes I prepared. So, a bunch of them came into use here as well.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for about 10-15 minutes
a few tbsp oil, for frying
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into large and thin slices and rinsed quickly in some water
1 tbsp coriander seeds, ground - divided
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp peanuts, skinned
2-3 spring onion, chopped
8 peppercorns
2 medium carrots, cut into thin round slices
2 cups beans, chopped
10-12 crimini mushrooms, quartered or halved
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 pinch red chili powder (optional)
1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
salt to taste
a few sprigs mint leaves, washed thoroughly and chopped (optional)










Method:
  • cook rice in about the same quantity of water (1 1/2 - 2 cups) on high heat till it starts to boil. Reduce heat to the lowest and simmer till the rice is done and the water is all absorbed. Remove from heat and keep warm
  • In the meantime, fry the potato slices in some oil along with turmeric and 1/2 tbsp ground coriander seeds in a fry pan on medium heat till done and keep warm
  • heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and let cumin seeds splutter, reduce heat to medium and immediately add while stirring peanuts, sesame seeds (be careful! they will splutter and fly! - keep a lid handy to cover), black peppercorns and spring onions and fry till the onions are golden in colour. Take out and mix with the potatoes and keep warm
  • add the beans and carrots to the pan and fry on medium heat till done and mix with the potatoes and keep warm
  • now fry the mushrooms in some oil on high heat, add the zucchini, fry further and add remaining 1/2 tbsp ground coriander seeds, stir further for a minute
  • put all the fried vegetables back to the pan along with chili powder and salt to taste and stir once
  • crumble the rice before adding to the vegetables and mix carefully.
  • Serve garnished with roasted cumin powder and mint leaves (optional) along with Raita as a side (yoghurt stirred with salt and roasted cumin powder)
Note:
As you see, my rice has become sticky. Due to these reasons that I know:
  1. I added too much water - Basmati requires little water and little time to cook - and I cooked it for too long
  2. I didn't take it out of the pan immediately after it was done - I wasn't done with cooking the vegetables - would have made the rice go cold
  3. I could have added some butter to the rice after it was done, stirring it in gently - I didn't want that.
  • To make it remain fluffy and single grained one needs to avoid the above two points and a lot of feeling is required for the amount of water required. If not sure, use lesser amount and check in between and add more water, if required. Switch off heat five minutes before the rice is completely done and let stand on the stove till done.
  • Another option would be to use natural (brown) or parboiled rice. It is a better option than polished rice because it is not so sticky like polished rice and it is healthier too!
But we enjoyed the meal despite the clumpyness. Hubby did complain about the slightly burnt (oops!) peanuts - he does not like even a single black spot on food. He does not like peanuts in rice in any case (and I love them with rice), but otherwise, I felt, the rice tasted actually very good as it was, still warm and made a very good combination with the potatoes and vegetables, the peanuts and sesame seeds, and the roasted cumin gave the final touch to it.
Later on I was thinking that I could have added some fresh mint leaves from my garden, but the pilaf was already so rich in flavours that we didn't really miss anything and enjoyed this simple, wholesome and delicious meal.
After writing this post, I feel I have to try it with brown rice too.
Yes, I'll do that............ :)

I'm sending this over to Srivalli's Rice Mela!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Polish Apple cake....













.....with apples from HOME!

I had a huge batch of apples (James Grieve) from my own garden.












These are a lovely variety of apples for baking or in any form as a dessert, but as good for eating fresh or in a salad, for example. They are quite rich in flavour and have a nice tartness which I feel is a must for an apple to taste good. I don't like those sweet varieties of apples which just taste sweet and don't seem to have any other flavour.
So, to my happiness this is a wonderful variety of an apple tree I have at home, which was there before we moved into this house. It is still a young plant, maybe 10 years or so, but had been strongly cut really short as it was growing against a wall and we moved the poor plant to a place where it got enough room to grow properly. And it is growing really fast now. I am learning to take care of these garden plants, which I don't find as easy always and this time I learned a few basic things about taking care of apple trees. I always find pruning a difficult task. You need not only some experience , but also some good guidelines to do it. Let's see How I manage this time.
So, two small buckets full of nice looking apples was more than I had expected. It was a weekend and hubby took out his ladder and did this job for me. We ate a couple of them just like that and enjoyed it a lot. It was still a bit early for them, but that is how I like them, whe they are still crispy and juicy!













And the next day I baked the cake with the recipe I have made a couple of times of a Polish apple cake from my cookbook I own almost since I came to Germany and which not only taught me how to bake, but also learn German! I have have gone through many baking adventures with it, mostly successfully!
I made some changes to the last time. I didn't use any rum for the raisins 'cause of my son, and neither milk - just some hot water to soak them. I didn't use any currents either. This time I also used ground almonds instead of slivered or chopped ones. And made the cake on a baking try this time.
I also didn't add any cinnamon or cardamom to the cake this time on my hubbys request. And for the same reason added raisins to only half of the cake and the remaining without them. He prefers the cake without them. And since my 3 year old son wasn't sure if he wanted them or not - "yes, I want them..uhhh....no, no, I don't....Ok I want...."... "OK, Rishab, you'll get whatever you want, once the cake is done". I like them in the cake, by the way. :)

And the cake was a dream! I love this thin layer of "Baiser" (Meringue, in English) as the call it here on top of the cake. Nothing can beat this flavour. And with it you also don't require any whipped cream, as the Baiser takes care of that. It is a complete dessert, as it is. It rounded up our weekend meal very nicely. One cake I can only highly recommend.















This one goes to the Andrea's Grow Your Own event being hosted by Denise of Chez Us this time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Uttapam, my very first ever!

Uttapams are one of a wide variety of savoury pancakes made from a fermented thick batter of rice and skinned black gram originating from the southernmost part of India, the state of Tamilnadu.

It is my very first ever trial at making uttapams and I think I wasn't bad at all. It is a very good option for a healthy meal 'cause of a higher protein content through the use of skinned black gram.

Now, what I like so much more about uttapam, just like idlis and dosas for example, is the fermentaion process which to my belief makes them so healthy and tastier too. The process of fermentation not only increases the flavours in the food manyfold, but also helps remove so many different phytotoxins through microbial action. And we all know the positive effects of these 'good' bacteria on our digestive tract. And, now after reading this at Wikipedia, I realised the importance of fermentation to preserve the foods in the earlier times when there weren't any refrigerators. And I believe, despite that the health aspects of these foods remain the same even today, if not even more with our lifestyles.
I always use every chance to try out different fermented products. One of the newest being Tempeh, which an Indonesian colleague and friend of mine used to bring to the Institute, while I was working there. It was delicious! Tempeh is also on my list of things to try once again on my own, as a few years ago my efforts to cook tempeh was a disaster! I believe that the tempeh wasn't fresh anymore.
Coming back to uttapam...
Now I admit that this picture does not show the best Uttapam I made and that I took the picture a day later, so it also looks a bit dry, but I still relished it to the full the next day as my usual "leftovers - lunch", as I call it, as I am usually alone at home to eat it.
The inspiration for this recipe came completely from my sister, who posted a simple and easy basic recipe of Uttapams on Healthy and Tasty! which gave me enough confidence to try out this recipe. And I was surprised how easy it really was, even though it requires a bit of planning when making them.
I was a bit afraid when I started pouring the first laddle of batter on my French cast iron pan I especially bought to use for such Indian pancakes and breads. By the second round I was already more confident. I had to add a litttle more water to the batter, as it seemed a bit too thick. But, I was very careful so as not to add too much to make the batter too thin. But all went right and we ate a lovely meal of Uttapams on that day with sambhar, a variety of podi and freshly made coconut-peanut chutney, which turned a bit brown this time as I could not remove the peels from the peanuts completely, even though I had roasted them for long. But, it did not disturb the good taste of the chutney, to my relief! As I love coconut chutney. And also the gun powder, which really wasn't as much a gun powder as I cannot add much chillies to it because of my son, but it tasted so good that both of us just kept licking it with our fingers, me and my son!

And not only that, I even made my very own Sambhar powder, YESSSS!!
I don't know if I sound like a braggart, but I was so happy that I finally actually did something which I had been thinking of since long now - to make my own sambhar powder, as every time I used this packed one from the market, hubby would complain as he did not like the taste of the sambhar and it was always too hot for my son to enjoy it and I could take the amount of chilli I wanted so as not to make it too hot. So, it was all worth the effort. Now I have enough for a couple of next rounds too. The recipe , after searching for a number of them, I found this wonderful recipe from this great mother-daughter blog many of you might know - Aayis Recipes. The only difference to the recipe is that I reduced the amount of chillies a lot, for my son.
Now, to those who don't know what is on the plate, clockwise from bottom: uttapam (fermented pancake), coconut-peanut chutney, gun powder - a not so hot version - therefore so yellowish brown in colour (I've added a bit too much of sunflower oil, bad estimation- but still very enjoyable!), and sambhar in th bowl. All of it made at home!
The recipes for the gun powder and chutney are from my older post, here.

So, here are the recipes:


Uttapam:

Soaking time: 4-5 hours
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Fermentation: overnight (8 -12 hours)
Baking time: 2 - 5 minutes per uttapam

Ingredients:

2/3 rd cup skinned black gram (Urd)
1/3 rd cup brown rice

3 cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/8th tsp Asafoetida, ground coarsely
1 tsp salt

1 cup vegetables of choice, required at the time of baking the uttapams:
1/2 cup finely chopped zucchini
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell peppers or paprika, as per choice
some grated fresh cocnut (didn't have it this time)

Method:
  • Wash and soak the urd-rice mixture in a deep bowl for 4-5 hours or overnight.
  • Wash with water in betweeen or the next day and drain before grinding
  • Add the remaning ingredients to the bowl and grind everything in a blender to a paste, adding a few tablespoons of water, if required
  • Let it ferment, covered, overnight
  • On the next day, add some water to make a thick batter which is good to spread on a tava or griddle, being slightly thicker than the batter of a pancake
  • Add the chopped vegetables and stir
  • heat a griddle and pour a laddle of the batter on the hot griddle and spread in slow circular movements, moving outwards to form a circular pancake
  • cook on this side until the upper side is no more fluid and the lower side is not burnt or too brown
  • For this, keep the griddle temperature at around medium or a little more, and turn the uttapam with the help of a spatula and cook until done and shows brown spots on other side as well
  • Serve warm with coconut chutney, some podis, sambhar (see below) or any other Indian curry

Sambhar:

Ingredients:

1 cup Arhar (Toor) daal, washed and soaked for 2 hours or longer in water
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup aubergine, diced
1 tsp Sambhar powder
1 -2 tsp tamarind paste (I left it out, as I didn't have any)
Tadka:

2 tbsp oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 large pinch asafoetida
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 inch piece ginger, grated or finely julliened
1 large clove garlic, crushed or grated
1/2 cup large thinly sliced coconut flakes
1 pinch red chilli powder
a few curry leaves
1/2 tsp Sambhar Powder
1-2 large tomatos, finely chopped

1 tbsp lemonjuice (to replace tamarind paste)

Method:
  • soak daal for two hours or longer and change water in between
  • cook daal with the cut vegetables in 1 1/2 cups water in a pressure cooker or a deep pan with lid until done
  • prepare tadke by heating oil / ghee in a frypan, add mustard seeds and let splutter
  • adding the remaning ingredients in the given order, stirring each time on high heat without letting them burn, reduce heat if required.
  • after the tomatoes are done, add to the daal and stir, add the lemon juice and serve warm with sides like rice, dosa, idli or uttapam. Rotis also make a wonderful combination.
Typically tamarind is also used in a good sambhar recipe, but since I did not have any, I had to do with tomatoes and lemon juice. But, the whole combination with coconut-peanut chutney, gun powder and sambhar along with the yummy uttapams made a wholesome meal which we all enjoyed a lot. Rishab, like so often did not want to eat daal (sambhar), but munched on the
uttapams along with the gun powder. But, I made him eat some sambhar telling him that I didn't make it so hot just so that he could eat it. That made him agree to eat a few teaspoons of it atleast. Now this was a successful experiment for me. And everyone who hasn't tired making uttapams must try once!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

cashews and chicken!


Isn't that a lovely combination. I saw this recipe of cahew chicken once at the wonderful blog Rasa Malaysia and the very sight of it told me that I had to try it. It took me long until I finally made it, but all the time, I had been looking for an opportunity for it. And I got it that weekend.
But, before I could prepare this chicken, I had to get the ingredients, for the recipe, as this is a style of cooking which is very new to me and I didn't want to take any risks of spoiling something so nice.
I have tried to stay as true to the recipe as possible, except for a few small things like replacing white pepper with chilli powder, as I don't like white pepper, and adding more soya sauce, and also adding more vegetables, as I was not going to serve any other sides to it except for rice.


Ingredients:

400 g Chicken, washed, pat dried and cut into small chunks or stripes
1 large carrot, peeled, and julliened
1 large green bellpepper, cut into small squares
3 spring onions/ scallions, chopped into rings
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2 cm thick rings
ginger, julliened
3/4 cup cashew nuts
cooking oil (I used sunflower oil)

1st marinade:
1 tsp soda

2nd marinade: 1 heaped tsp cornstarch
1 tsp rice wine

Sauce:

1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soyasauce
3 dashes of white pepper powder (I used a dash of chilli powder)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp rice wine
1/4 tsp sesame oil
5 tablespoons of water

Method:

  • wash and clean the chicken, pat dry and cut into small pieces
  • marinate with baking soda for 15-20 minutes
  • wash away the soda thoroughly from the chicken, pat dry and marinate with cornstarch and rice wine for another 15-20 minutes
  • mix the ingredients of the sauce together in a bowl and set aside
  • cut the vegetables
  • fry chicken in a wok or sauté pan on high heat stirrring in between, reduce heat to medium and fry till it gets cooked on the outside, but still not cooked through. Take out and set aside.
  • Fry the ginger and julliened carrots in some oil and stir fry till they are more than half done
  • then add the spring onions and green bell peppers and stir fry further till they have become slightly tender, but are still crisp and green. Take out and set aside
  • Add the cashew nuts and roast for a minute on medium heat, take out and sert aside
  • stir fry the zucchini rings till they get tender, but still have a crispy texture
  • mix everything back into the wok along with the sauce and cook for two minutes, uncovered
  • serve warm with warm steamed rice.
The first time I read the recipe I was surprised at the use of soda, as I had never heard of it before, but I wanted to try it out. And I was amazed that it held its promise. The chicken was different. Much softer and tender than otherwise. This is a wonderful recipe, one from so many others I plan to try out from Rasa malaysia.

Hubby and Rishab, both look forward to my chicken dishes. Hubby is especially fond of chinese food, the reason why I have been wanting to try out this recipe. We all enjoyed it thoroughly. But, the best part of it was the wows I heard from hubby without my having to ask him, how it tasted. Yes, he was amazed and impressed. So, I think this experiment was a big success. :)

Update:
I have already made this recipe once again and hubby still wants to eat it again! I also think that this is one great recipe which all chicken lovers would enjoy.

This is my entry to Srilekha's monthy Event "Chicken" for the month of September, which has been now extended upto the month of Oktober.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Yummy Soya nuggets Curry!


I loved soya nuggets as a child. These munchy chewy chunks of soya and the flavour of the spicy curry coming out of it evey time you bit onto the chunks. It was thorough pleasure. It was one of my favorites. I had made them here before, but the only soya nuggets I always found were these no-name packets from the chinese shops, which never turned out good somehow. They would very often remain hard in the middle despite my frying them before. And hubby disliked them totally. But, then I recently discovered organic soya nuggets here which were much better. Though smaller and irregular shaped, but much softer in texture after cooking. I still didn't make them so often, as hubby did not appreciate them so much despite that.
Recently I was going through a new blog I came upon : Tongueticklers with lovely photos and lovely recipes. And I found a recipe with soya nuggets there, which looked so good that I had to try it once. As I personally feel soya nuggets are a good way of compensating for the needed proteins. And I rahter have a vegetarian option than always having to cook chicken for that.

So, here is how I made it:

Serves 3-4 people

Ingredients:

1 cup green beans
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

Ground to a paste:
1 large garlic, chopped coarsely
1 inch piece of ginger, chopped coarsely
1 red onion, chopped coarsely

2 large tomatoes, pureed

2 generous handfuls soya nuggets (about a cup and a half)
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch crushed asafoetida
1/2 tsp each ground corinader and cumin seeds
3/4th tsp turmeric
1 pinch red chilli powder

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (optional)

Method:
  • Clean and cut the begetables
  • Prepare the onion-garlic-ginger paste and the tomato puree
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large sauce pan (I used a pressure cooker) and roast the soyanuggets on medium heat till the take a light brown colour, stirring with a wooden paddle in between
  • Take out the soya nuggets and set aside
  • Heat 2 more tbsp oil into the pan and add the spices : cumin seeds, and asafoetida, stir once and add the rest of the ground spices. stir
  • Add quickly the onion-garlic ginger paste, stir on medium heat till the moisture reduces and it starts to turn brown
  • Add the chopped beans and potatoes, stir for short on medium heat
  • add the soya nuggets and the tomato puree, stir
  • add water and salt, stir
  • If using the pressure cooker (European), then close the lid and wait till the whistle comes and reduce heat to little less than medium (on a ceramic cooktop) and switch off the gas after 5 minutes
  • If using a regular pan, then cook till the potatoes are tender and the green beans are soft and no more green (otherwise they are toxic), stirring in between
  • Serve garnished with chopped coriander leaves along with bread or warm rice
Now, you might ask, what did hubby say. No, he didn't complain and infact said that it tasted very good. And that is a very very very good compliment! :D And my son enjoyed it too, which isn't always the case now a days. He is getting finikier by the day. And since I had pureed the onions, he enjoyed it even more.
So, sunshinemon, thanks a lot for this wonderful recipe!

Note: Typically this is eaten with Indian flatbreads, like roti, paranthas or puri, or warm basmati rice, but tastes excellent with Oriental or Turkish flat breads and as good with just any of the different varieties of different European breads, toasted or plain, like baugette or brown and black breads or the typical British breads.