April 20, 2009

Samosa Chaat, Baby Butter Beans-Potato-Cilantro Kurma, Menasina Saaru/Pepper Soup

I am on blog break, see you all as soon as I can! :)

Samosa Chaat, goes to Pallavi's "Sunday Snacks-Chaats/Indian street food" event.

Baby Butter Beans-Potato-Cilantro Kurma, goes to Cilantro's "JFI-Cilantro", an event started by Indira.

Samosa Chaat and Menasina Saaru, both go to Mahimaa's "15 minute cooking". If you have store bought Samosas and sauces already, it takes literally 10mins to whip up this delicious Chaat and Soup is the easiest to make as well.

Menasina Saaru/Pepper soup, goes to Trupti's "Comfort Food for illness" event.

Thanks to all of you, enjoy! :)

Samosa Chaat:
Who doesn't love to eat Samosas dipped in sweet and spicy chutney? Why not make the yummy Samosas into yummier Chaat? I know most of you have tried this Samosa chaat and posted it too. I had some leftover Aloo masala, so I thought of making quick Samosas and turn this into Chaat. Loved it. Since I had visited Indian store last weekend, I had all the goodies needed like Farsan/sev, bottled sweet and hot chutney, Chaat masala packet etc to go with it.
I make Samosas with Tortillas or Egg roll wrappers, sometimes I make the traditional samosa dough with atta. I have linked few sites for you to watch how to make or fold Samosas and chutney recipes to save me some time from typing those too! ;D

To make Samosa: (or use store bought Samosas and sauces for quicker Chaat!)
Take 3 large cooked Potatoes, mash it well. Add salt, chilli pd, 1 tbsp coriander pd, 2 tsp cumin seeds pd, 2 tbsp minced onion, 2 tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp garam Masala, 2 tsp Lemon juice, mix well and keep aside. Watch this video to see how to make Samosas.
Take atta dough (wheat flour, salt and 2 tbsp oil, knead with water to a firm dough) (I used Egg or Spring roll wrapper), roll out and cut into half moon shape, make a cone and stuff few tbsps of Potato masala, cover and secure the edges with plain flour+water paste to seal the Samosas. Deep fry these until golden and drain them on paper towel.
To make Chaat with Samosas:
You need to chop 1 large tomato, 1 sweet Onion, 4 tbsp Cilantro, 1/4 cup each of Sweet Tamarind chutney and hot green chutney and Plain Yogurt, some Chaat masala and Sev (thin chickpea flour fried snacks) and keep them ready.
To serve:
Break 1 or 2(if they are small size) Samosas into may be 4 to 5 big pieces and place them on a plate. Sprinkle some Tomato pieces, Onion pieces, as much green chutney and sweet chutney and yogurt as you want, some chopped Cilantro, 1/2 tsp Chaat masala and finally some thin Sev on top of the Samosas.
Serve immediately. I could eat 2 plates of those in one go! ;D

Baby Lima or Butter beans,potato and Cilantro Kurma:

You need:
2-3 cups of baby Lima or Butter beans, (I used frozen pack), 1 Potato, peeled and cubed, Salt, 1 tsp butter (optional, tastes great if you add it).
1 tbsp oil, 1 small onion, minced.
To grind:
2 garlic, 1" ginger, 4 tbsp fresh or dry Coconut, 2 tsp Poppy seeds, 2 tbsp Yogurt, 3 cloves, 1" Cinnamon, 1/2 cup packed Cilantro leaves (don't use it's stem which has powerful flavor and aroma, bit too much for this dish), few curry leaves, 2 or more green chillies.

To make Kurma:
1. Thaw the beans and cook with cubed potatoes with half a cup of water in the microwave for about 7mins, set aside.
2. Grind the masala until smooth with very little water.
3. Heat oil in a non-stick pan, add and fry minced onion until soft. Add the ground masala and yogurt, saute until raw smell goes and it leaves the side of the pan.
4. Now, add the cooked beans and potato, mix well. Simmer for 3 mins.

Add a dab of butter if you like, mix and serve with Parathas. Tastes better the next day!
My grandma's comforting cold remedy, Menasina Saaru/Pepper soup!
Trupti is not feeling well, suffering from flu and cold. So she is asked us to send her few comfort food to her which we can cook quickly and helps to feel us better. I don't know or make many home remedies like my grand mother makes at her home but this Menasina saaru seems to be the only one I like to make when I have cold, love it. Freshly crushed pepper seems to open your blocked sinuses quicker than (although temporarily) any Vicks Vaporub!:D

Another remedial drink I vaguely remember that she used to make is ginger and honey juice for Stomach ache or for something like that, I am not sure. I had seen my grandfather drinking it often whenever we visit them during Summer holidays. Anyway, here is my fave dadima's Nushka, Karnataka style! ;D

You need these to make the soup:
1. Heat 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp ghee in a deep pan. Add 2-4 garlic finely chopped and few curry leaves to it.
2. Crush 1 tsp Cumin seeds and 2 tsp Pepper corns coarsely and add to this oil. Let them all sizzle gently. Don't let the garlic burn but very slightly golden on the edges.
3. Mix 1 1/2 tsp (or more if you want it very tangy) Tamarind paste (I use Laxmi brand natural Tamarind concentrate which has nice reddish color which I love than darker Tam paste and paste easy to use too) in 2-3 cups of water well.
4. Add this to the pan with salt, bring it to rolling boil for 2 mins or until the raw smell of Tamarind goes and soup smell good. Adjust the salt and add more crushed pepper if you want.
5. Drink this when you have cold, you feel the relief immediately to make you feel better although it doesn't cure your cold. Tastes great with rice too or just as a warm drink on a cold day.
You can add some cilantro to it too, always optional. That's it for this week.

Feel better soon Trupti, hugs to you.

We had a wonderful weekend, very hot weather. Have a great Summer, see you all later in the Fall! :)

April 13, 2009

Spring Onion, Bacon and Cheddar Bread, Kasutera-Japanese Honey Cake

Spring onion, Bacon and Cheddar bread, goes to Cindystar who is guest hosting "Bread baking Day #19-Spring Country bread", an event started by Zorra.

Kasutera, a Japanese Honey cake,
goes to Lavanya's "A.W.E.D.-Japan", an event started by DK.

Thanks to all of you ladies, enjoy hosting.

Cheesy Scallion Bacon bread, a savory loaf makes an excellent addition to any picnic or get together at home. Sliced and toasted bread is great for breakfast or to serve as colorful appetizers like finger food topped with Tapenade or cream cheese. With green onions, Bacon, Cheddar and chilli flakes added, it gives little zest to the bread and makes it festive as well.

Vegetarians can skip the Bacon and bake it with Spring onion, grated carrots, Bell peppers etc along with any cheese you like.
Just make sure that veggies you use don't get watery when baked, roast the veggies before adding.

Spring Onion, Bacon and Cheddar Cheese bread, ready for picnic, got a basket?!

This recipe adapted by 'Totally Teabreads" by Albright and Weiner. Hope you try it!

You need:

Large loaf pan 9" by 5" by 3", brushed with butter or sprayed with no-stick oil inside.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

To saute:
1/2 cup Butter, 1 cup Green onion/Scallions, finely chopped including tender green and white parts. 4-5 Bacon finely chopped or you can use 3 tbsp bottled real Bacon bits.
Dry ingredients:
2 3/4 cup Plain flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp Baking powder, 1/2 tsp Baking soda, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp of Pepper or red chilli flakes, 1 tsp Garlic powder, 1/4 tsp mixed herbs, mix all these first. Then add 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese and stir in to mix.
Liquid ingredients:
1 cup Buttermilk, 1/2 cup water, 2 large eggs. Beat these two and keep aside.
To top:
1 tbsp Bacon bits to sprinkle on top of the batter.

To bake:
1. Add butter to the pan, heat and add green onions and Bacon, saute until just soft for 2-3 mins. Take off the heat.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients, add butter-onion-Bacon to this, mix well. Add liquid ingredients, mix well again until you don't see any white flour. You can use the lowest speed beater to mix in the stand mixer as well.

3. Scrape the thick batter to the loaf pan, tap it gently to release the air and sprinkle 1 tbsp reserved bacon bits on top of the batter. Put it in the oven.
4. Bake for 50 to 60 mins or until the cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Take out of the oven, let it cool in the pan for 6-7 mins and then invert it on the rack to cool.
4. Slice and serve warm or toasted with butter or on the side with soup or pack the slices for picnic! Enjoy! :)

Kasutera is a spongy, eggy Japanese Honey cake which is not very sweet or naturally sweet with honey, hence do not need icing. Without adding any kind of essence, it has a wonderful aroma of honey and with just a dusting of confectioner's sugar on top, not too sweet either which is how I like my desserts!
This recipe is adapted from a 'Learn to cook' book series called "Japanese Homestyle Dishes". Usually, I don't cook any Japanese food at home or interested in trying either. I ran...well...drove to the library, borrowed this book. Kasutera sounded and looked good, so glad I tried it! I read that it's a popular dessert cake in Nagasaki, Japan, originally brought to Japan by Portuguese.

You Need:
5 large Eggs, 2/3rd cup Powdered sugar, 1/4 cup Honey, 1 tsp Baking powder, 1 cup All purpose flour or Cake flour. (9" by 9" cake pan, lined with parchment paper and sprayed with no-stick oil or butter.
(You can add 1 tsp of essence of your choice like Orange or Lemon, but recipe didn't say and I didn't add any either, loved the natural honey taste and aroma!)

For dusting: 1/4 cup extra powdered sugar for dusting the cake on top. You can even dust it with cocoa powder for contrast.

To bake the cake:

Preheat the oven at 350F.

1. In a mixer with whisk attachment, add 5 Eggs and beat until frothy.
2. Add in the Honey and powdered sugar, beat this mix for 10 to 12 mins, until it's thick, pale in color and beater leaves a ribbon when lifted.

(This 2nd step is very important to keep the cake fluffy and bake high, so do beat well until you see the trail of ribbon with the batter before adding the flour etc)

3. Now, add the baking powder and flour gradually, mix and fold or beat on low speed gently just until flour is well incorporated.
4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 mins or until skewer when tested in the center of the cake comes out clean. Don't bake too much.
5. Invert on a cooler, peel off the parchment paper.
6. When completely cooled, dust the top with powdered sugar and cut into slices to serve.

Enjoy and see you all later! :)

April 6, 2009

Clicking Spring Mint and Garlic Chives, Egg Jalfrezi, Brown Rice and Besan Uttappa

My Spring Mint and Garlic Chives, goes to Bee and Jai's "Click-Spring/Autumn" event.

Egg Jalfrezi, goes to Sudeshna's "Eggs" event who is celebrating her first blog anniversary.

Brown Rice, Besan/Chickpea flour and Carrot Uttappa, goes to Trupti who is guest hosting "Cooking for Kids-Rice" event, which is started by Sharmi.

Thanks to all of you ladies, enjoy my 150th post at Aroma! :)

Spring Mint and Garlic Chives from my backyard!
Mint and Garlic Chives

Camera: Sony Cyber-Shot 8.1pxl in Macro mode.

Beautiful Spring Tulips which I clicked without the home owner's permission while driving to the next city! I saw these Tulips in their front yard, one of my favorite flowers of all, stopped the car, took the photo and ran back to the car with a lightening speed!! :D

Spring Tulips
About Jalfrezi:
Wikipedia says "The jalfrezi dates from the times of the British Raj when it was created as a way of using leftover meat; the chillies helped to disguise any disagreeable taste. The name comes indirectly from Bengali jhāl, spicy food, and Urdu parhezī, suitable for a diet"

Egg Jalfrezi:

Jalfrezi is a tasty sweet and spicy concoction of Bell Peppers, Tomato and Onion. You can add any vegetable of your choice or mixed veggies, meat or hard boiled Eggs into this thickish gravy.
There are many ways to make the Jalfrezi, here is my milder version since my kids like milder and sweeter sauce than spicy. You can add green chillies if you like, gives it a nice heat. I added red bell peppers for sweetness and color.

How to make Egg Jalfrezi my way!
Hard boil 6 eggs in water for 15mins, take off the heat, pour out the hot water and add cold water. This makes the Egg shells peel easy after they are cold. Peel the shells, cut the eggs 1/2 way to the center but do not cut it thru' to split them into half.

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil + 2 tsp Butter, add 1tsp Cumin seeds. When they turn reddish, add 1" grated fresh Ginger, saute for 2 mins.
2. Add 2 medium sized thinly sliced onions, saute for 3 mins, until they are soft. Add 2 large red Bell peppers, sliced into the sauce, stir fry for 3 mins, until they wilt a bit and soften.
2. Now, add 2-3 Plum Tomatoes, sliced to the pan, stir again and let it cook and oil shows on top a little, sauce leaves the sides of the pan.
3. Now, add enough salt, 1/4 or more tsp Chilli pd or Paprika (you can add green chillies too), 1/2 tsp Sugar, 1 1/2 tsp Coriander powder, 1/2 tsp good quality Garam masala pd, homemade is better. Mix well and add 3/4 cup water and 1 tbsp cream or full cream milk (optional). Simmer for 5 mins.
4. Take off the heat, adjust the salt and chilli pd. Sprinkle 3 tbsp chopped Cilantro.

Serve with Lemon slices and cooked Basmati rice.

In Karnataka or in Kannada, we call Uttappam as Uttappa, although method of making these is always the same. You use the usual Dosa or Idli batter, soured overnight to use the next day and adding onion, Tomato, chillies etc on top to make Uttappa like this recipe I posted long time ago at my Foodie's Hope blog. They are usually served with chutney or Sambhar, a thick dal dip.

For this event which we are cooking for kids, I came up with these trying to make it little healthier adding Brown rice, Carrots and Besan. Since we are mixing protein packed Besan which is Chickpea flour to finely ground rice, there is no need to ferment this Uttappa batter, go ahead and make them after few hrs of grinding rice.

Quick to make and kids love them too if you add Carrots and green peppers to make them colorful. Instead of chutney, added ghee and sprinkled my homemade Chutney pudi which is a coarsely ground mixed dal powder with spices. My chutney pudi is not very spicy but adds great color and nutrition to Uttappa. Here is my version of Uttappa, enjoy! :)

Brown Rice, Besan and Carrot masala Uttappa, topped with ghee and chutney pudi:
Looks like Pizza, isn't it? Great to serve to kids and adults alike. Brown rice has lot of fiber retained than the regular white rice and Besan and Carrots gives this pancake a pinkish hue which kids usually dig! :)

To make Uttappa:
1. Soak 1 1/2 cup Brown rice overnight or for at least for 3-4 hrs in water. Drain the water, add to a mixer. Grind it with 2 cups of water until it's smooth to touch or finely ground. Add 3 tbsp Besan to the rice batter, blend just until well mixed.
2. Take the batter in to a bowl, add enough salt, 1/2 cup finely grated Carrots, 2 tbsp chopped Cilantro, few chopped curry leaves, 1/2" grated Ginger, 1 tsp Cumin seeds powder, 1/4 tsp chilli pd or green chillies chopped (Skip both if your kids can't handle the heat), finely chopped 4 tbsp onion, mix well. Keep it aside for 15mins.
3. Heat a non-stick griddle, pour a ladleful of batter, drizzle few drops of oil on top. Let it cook until the bottom is golden, flip it to cook the other side.
4. As soon as you take the pancake or Uttappa on to plate, brush some ghee on top, sprinkle a tsp of Chutney pudi on top evenly and serve immediately.

There you are! Nutritious and tasty South Indian Pancake/Crepe/Uttappa! :)

March 30, 2009

Batata Vada/Alu Bonda, Tomato and mixed Vegetable Avarekalu Uppittu/Upma

Batata vada, goes to Harini's "Recipes for rest of us-Starters" event which is started by Ramki.

Mixed vegetable and Tomato Uppittu, goes to Sahaja's "Single serving Recipes" event.

Thanks ladies, enjoy! :)

Who doesn't like Batata Vada or Alugedde bonda as we call it in Kannada? Here is my quick version I made just for this event. No measurement required for the dishes we send to this event and it should be so easy that even a 10yr old can cook it as per this event's rules. Well... most 10yr old kids can make these I guess, although letting them deep fry without supervision is not recommended.

Want to make Batata Vadas sophisticated enough for grand cocktail party? Make large Marble sized vadas and stick a few colorful Toothpicks on each like finger foods to serve with Ketchup or thinner chutney as dip. You can do the same with mini Chana dal round vadas too. Enjoy! :)

Batata vada or Alu bonda with coconut chutney:

To make Aloo stuffing:

1. Boil 2 large Potatoes until soft, peel and mash. Heat a bit of oil, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chilli flakes, chopped curry and cilantro leaves.
2. Add Potatoes, salt, lemon juice and mix well. Cool and make about 2" balls and keep aside.
To make batter:
1. Mix 1 portion of Besan/Chickpea flour, few tbsps of rice flour, pinch of bakind soda, enough salt, chilli pd and water to make a thickish batter. Rest it for 10 mins.
To make Bondas:
1. Heat oil to 375F or hot to deep fry. Dip Potato balls in the batter and deep fry until golden.
2. Serve with spicy Chutney; Grind Coconut, green chillies, tamarind or yogurt, ginger, salt with enough water to make chutney. Temper with Mustard seeds. Voila!! :D

Mixed Vegetable and Lilva/Avarekalu Uppittu:

Well... Sahaja wanted a one dish meal and here is my simple yet nutritious one dish Uppittu/Upma I make when I am in a hurry or don't have any left overs to eat. Usually I throw in a frozen mixed vegetable pack here to make veg Uppittu. I love Avarekalu/Lilva/Field beans in Uppittu but fresh beans is not always available to me, so I soak dry ones and cook them to add to dishes or use frozen Lilva. For tanginess, I add Lemon juice at the end or one fresh sliced Tomato.

To make Mixed veg Uppittu:
1. Heat 1 tsp ghee in a non-stick pan. Add 1 cup Semolina/Rava and roast until Rava is golden on a medium heat and spread it on paper to cool.
2. Add 2 tbsp oil to the same pan, add 1/2 Mustard seeds, 1 tsp Cumin seeds, few curry leaves, (Cashews are optional), 2 tsp each Chana dal and Urad dal, 1 onion, finely chopped, 2-3 green chillies and fry them until soft.
3. Add 2 1/2 cups of water, enough salt, few cilantro. Add 1 cup of pre cooked (Microwave them with little water) mixed veggies like Beans, Carrots, peas, Lilva beans, one Tomato sliced. Let it boil for 5 mins.
4. Taste for salt and turn down the heat to simmer. Slowly add Rava in a stream and stir all the while to prevent clumping. Stri well, cover and let it simmer for 4-5 mins.
5. It's ready to eat. serve with crunchy Sev, Boondi and plain yogurt.

Tomato,Peas and Carrot Uppittu:
Tomato, Peas and Carrot Uppittu is another of my favorite combo to add to make Uppittu. I chop baby Carrots in to rounds. They are very sweet, adds a sweetish flavor to spicy Uppittu and for to balance the hot and sweet, I add some Tomatoes or Tomato sauce to this. Adding 1 tsp of MTR Vangibhath powder or Rasam powder to this adds a excellent flavor as well.
Photo didn't come well for this Uppittu, bear with me. I have too many huge windows in every room, bright and sunny rooms don't help me in photographing anything properly these days.

To make Tomato Uppittu:
1. Follow the same method as above until step 2 and add 2 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 cup frozen Green peas, 1/2 cup Tomato sauce or 2-3 Tomato chopped, 2 Carrots chopped or coarsely grated, 1 tsp spice powder of your choice (optional), let it boil.
2. Follow the rest of the method like the above recipe and you will have fragrant, colorful and tasty Uppittu!

Have a great week, see you all later! :)

March 23, 2009

Clicking Wooden Rice Mould/Mold, Roasted veg and Artichoke Pasta, Mac and Cheese Casserole with Italian sausage.

My Japanese wooden Rice Mold, goes to Jugalbadi's ever popular visual candy event "CLICK-WOOD".

Pasta with roasted Bell pepper, Artichoke hearts and Tomato,
goes to Soma of "ecurry" who is guest hosting "Hay Hay, it's Donna's day #26" event. Roma has chosen Donna Hay's this recipe for us to try. This event's original host is Bron Marshall.

Mac and cheese with Italian sausage,
goes to Srivalli of "Cooking for 4 all seasons", who is guest hosting "Monthly Mingle" this month with "Kids lunches" as a theme and Meeta started this MM event. Thanks to all hosts, enjoy! :)

Macaroni and cheese with Italian sausage casserole,
also goes to Aquadaze of "Served with love", who is guest hosting this month's "Presto Pasta Nights #106", an event started by Ruth of "Once upon a feast".

Japanese Rice mould/mold:

Any kind of "mould" in India is called "Mold" here in USA, just like "colour" and "color" etc, just a little clarification about the spelling! :D

This beautiful Japanese rice mold is specially designed to pour and serve the sauce in the center. Spoon the cooked rice into the mold, press gently to fill the gaps, place on a serving plate and tap gently to release the rice. Pour any sauce into the middle of the rice and serve. I had made Egg butter masala, placed an egg in the center of the mold.

Japanese Rice Mould/Mold

Another "clear" look:

Sony Cyber-Shot: 8.1pxl, Macro mode.

Chicken and Capsicum Pasta recipe is the choice of Soma's who is hosting "Hay Hay, it's Donna's day" from Donna Hay's blog. Although I followed the original recipe mostly, I had to make this with Artichoke Hearts with lots of fresh herbs from my herb pots since I made Butter chicken for kids few days ago and ran out of Chicken! So here is my chicken less version;

Artichoke Hearts and roasted Bell Peppers Farfalle Pasta!

Another look:

Here is how I made it:
1. Cooked Butterfly/Farfalle Pasta al-Dente, drained and added to a bowl.
2. Roasted green and red Bell peppers, few Tomato slices, drained canned Artichoke Hearts, cooled them for 10mins.
3. Mixed Pasta, roasted veggies, 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, few slices of bottled Vinegary Jalapenos, 2 tbsp mixed fresh herbs like Basil, Oregano, Thyme and Parsley along with Donna's dressing and VOILA!!
Beautiful Pasta is ready to dig in. Enjoy! :)

Everybody's favorite food, Macaroni and cheese with sweet Italian Sausage:
My kids always like to have Mac and cheese whenever my husband doesn't come home for dinner and I don't feel like cooking! Usually kids like to add add chopped up Hot dogs for a quick version, I had some Italian sausage this time to add to this Nac and Cheese. You can make plain Mac and cheese without adding anything or may be some veggies to make it healthier. I made a Casserole of Mac and cheese with crunchy Panko breadcrumbs on top!

Macaroni and Cheese with Italian sausage Casserole:

Here is how to make Mac and cheese Casserole:

Preheat the oven at 350F to bake this casserole for 30-40mins.

Boil water, add 2 cups of dry Elbow Macaroni with some salt and 1 tsp oil until almost done, drain and pour it in a casserole dish.
Cut up Hot dog if you using those or take out and crumble Italian sausage links out of it's skin and saute the sausage for a while in a pan until light brown and set aside to add this to the sauce later)
For cheese sauce:
1. Heat a non-stick pan, add 2tbsp olive oil or butter, add 2 tbsp plain flour, stir fry until slightly golden or until flour is cooked. Now pour in about 2 1/4 cups of milk, gently heat.
2. When sauce is hot, grate a Nutmeg to add few pinches, sausage and take the sauce off of the heat. Add 1 tsp yellow ground Mustard, 1 cup of grated Cheddar cheese and stir gently and quickly until cheese dissolves. Add some pepper and salt if needed. I added 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp each of mixed spices and herbs.
3. Pour this sauce over the Macaroni, sprinkle some Parmesan and 1/4 cup seasoned Panko (or Italian) breadcrumbs on top and bake for 30 to 40mins until sauce is thickish.
Sauce thickens as the caserrole cools, so don't bake until Pasta and sauce is very dry. To get some color on the breadcrumbs, I broiled/grilled for 5 mins or just until crumbs get golden. DO NOT burn the crumbs!
You can Microwave this dish too to make it faster, bread crumbs will be whitish but it's quite tasty to eat anyway.

Enjoy, see you next time! :)

February 27, 2009

Jamaican Festival (Fried Bread)

My Jamaican festival bread goes to Meeta of "What's for lunch, honey" blog for her "Monthly Mingle" event. She has chosen "Caribbean cooking" as a theme for this month. Thanks for hosting, Meeta! :)

(A quick note to all event hosts before I start:
I will be taking a short break from cooking for events at "Aroma" blog probably until the last week of March or so, really need some time to read few books! My weekly blog posts at "Foodie's Hope" will go on as usual every Wednesday over there!)


"The Caribbean region is mainly a chain of islands surrounding the Caribbean Sea.All islands at some point were, and a few still are, colonies of European nations; a few are overseas or dependent territories. The geography and climate in the Caribbean region varies from one place to another. Some islands in the region have relatively flat terrain of non-volcanic origin. Such islands include Aruba (possessing only minor volcanic features), Barbados, Bonaire, the Cayman Islands or Antigua. Others possess rugged towering mountain-ranges like the islands of Cuba, Dominica, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saba, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent, Guadeloupe, and Trinidad & Tobago. The region sits in the line of several major shipping routes with the man-made Panama Canal connecting the western Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean." Info from WIKIPEDIA.

"Jamaica is the third largest Caribbean island. It's indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water", or the "Land of Springs". Formerly a Spanish possession known as Santiago, it later became the British Crown colony of Jamaica and later became independent in 1962. It is the third most populous anglophone country in North America, after the United States and Canada. It remains a Commonwealth realm. Its traditions of reggae, rastafarianism and Jamaican art mingle with cosmopolitan culture makes Jamaica an attractive destination for tourists. The natural beauty of the island also offers many amazing rivers, waterfalls, rain forests, coral reefs and sandy white beaches!"

I chose to make Jamaican festival, which are fried bread, either can be less sugary bread served with Fried Fish, Jamaican Jerk Chicken and rice and peas or sweet Festival bread as dessert. I found this recipe in one of the Jamaican travel websites. They are delicious as dessert sprinkled with powdered sugar, don't retain much oil even though they are deep fried. Hope you try!

Jamaican Festival:
Festival are oval shaped, somewhat thin, slightly sweet, crispy flour and cornmeal fritters. Why do they do call it Festival? May be because eating them is like having a festival in your mouth, as one of the theories go! :D

You need:
1 1/2 cups plain flour,
3 tbsp cornmeal,
about 1 cup of water,(you may need less, do not add all at once),
1/2 tsp salt,
3 tbsp sugar, less for savory festival and more if you like them very sweet,
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence.

How to make them:
1. Sift the plain flour in to a bowl and stir in the cornmeal, salt, sugar and baking powder.
2. Add Vanilla and mix. Add water tbsps at first and then as much as you need to get a very firm dough like Poori dough. Do not make them sticky and soft dough. You can add more flour if it becomes sticky which could make the bread hard, so do try not to add too much water to the dough to begin with.
3. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15-20mins. Divide into 8 or 10 pieces and without handling the dough too much, make shapes like elongated ovals or as you see in the photo, keep them aside.
4. Heat oil to 365F and deep fry the Festivals until golden, drain on the paper towel.
5. After they are cooled, sprinkle powdered sugar on top to serve or just plain with Jerk Chicken or fried Fish.

That's it! Beautiful Festivals are ready to eat. Have fun eating them! :)

February 23, 2009

Sour Cream Potato Loaf and a Tomato Garlic soup

Sour cream and Potato bread
is my contribution to "Bread Baking Day #17" event which is started by Zorra of "kochtopf". For the month of February, Lien of "notitievanlien" blog is guest hosting this event, with her choice of "Bread and Potato" for us.
Thanks to both of you, enjoy hosting and I can't wait to see the round up and salivate at all the Potato filled Breads!! :)

Bread made with tangy Sour cream, Potato flakes and spices like garlic etc makes this loaf a delectable snack to have any time of the day. It's texture is very soft inside and bit crusty outside since we add a bit a baking soda along with yeast. It bakes to a gorgeous golden color speckled with herbs and spices, toasted thick cut slices are delicious to eat. Tastes better the next day, keep it wrapped in a gallon size Zip-lock bag.
You can use wheat flour and Oat flour to replace Potato to make it healthier and skip the spices to make it plain. Add 1-2 tbsp more sugar to make it a sweet bread. Choices are unlimited when you use the basic recipe and get creative! :))

Sour Cream and Potato spiced up loaf:

A super delicious slice for you, I can't tell you how aromatic this bread is!!

Here are the ingredients:
1/2 cup Sour cream,
1/2 cup Water (warm 80F)

3 tsp dry active Yeast to add to warm water and sour cream mix.

1/2 cup dry plain Potato flakes, (Flavored potato flakes has salt etc, will make the bread salty)
1/3 cup Milk (warm).

1 tbsp sugar,
1/4 cup softened butter,
3 cups white or wheat Bread four,
1 tsp Salt,
1/2 tsp Baking soda,
1/2 tsp garlic powder,
1 tsp dry Parsley,
1 tsp Chicago Steak seasoning for grilling, (you see in the collage which has mixture of dry onion flakes, red chilli pepper, pepper, crushed coriander and cumin seeds, mixed herbs etc. or you can use any spice mix you like)

To bake:
1. Mix sour cream and water well, heat for 40seconds in the microwave. When it's warm, add yeast and set aside for 5 mins to get foam or bubbles on top.
2. Add 1/3 cup warm milk to dry potato, mix well.
3. Add all the dry ingredients to a mixer with flat beater attachment, mix well. Add in the yeast mix and potato+milk mix and beat well.
4. Change to kneader attachment, knead this dough for 4 mins until you get soft and non-sticky dough. If the dough is too dry, add a tbsp of water at a time until you get the soft dough but do not make the dough sticky.
5. Take out the dough, put it in a non-stick loaf pan, cover and let it proof in a warm place until double, no second rising is needed.
6. Pre heat the oven to 375F. Uncover the dough, slice 1/2" deep gash on the top of the loaf and sprinkle some spice mix on top if you like.
7. Bake in the middle rack for 25 to 35 mins depending on your oven or bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped.
8. Cool on a rack and slice when cooled.

Serve this toasted thick slice for breakfast with butter or on the side with any soup. Also makes an excellent snack with cream cheese!
You can also divide this dough into 12-16 rolls instead of one big loaf to make smaller dinner rolls as well.
Enjoy! :)


Neha of "Tasty recipes' Blog is guest hosting "SWC-Soups" event this month. SWC event is started by Lakshmi of "Taste of Mysore" blog. Neha has chosen "healthy soups with fresh vegetables" as a theme. Thanks to both of you. Here is my healthy and tasty Tomato Garlic soup with a Sour cream-Potato slice to dip! :))

Tomato-Garlic-Basil soup:

To make the soup:

1. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a deep pan, add 3 finely chopped garlic, saute for few seconds. Now 2 tsp plain flour and mix well and cook until it becomes golden in color to make a Roux. Add 1 or 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock, whisk well.
2. Add 3-4 cups chopped fresh Tomatoes (cut and squeeze out the seeds to avoid tanginess), 2 slices of onion, 1 tbsp or more sugar, enough salt and pepper to taste, boil it until they are all soft and cooked.
3. Let the soup cool a bit, then put the whole thing in a blender. When you get a smooth soup, pour it thru' a strainer to get all the tomato skins and any solid parts left.
4. Put it back on the stove, heat it thru' or you can use the Microwave too. When done, add 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh Basil (or Thyme or Oregano) on top and a 1 tbsp fat free heavy cream or 1 tsp of Parmesan cheese or both! Garnish with a sprig of fresh Parsley.

Note: You can use 1 cup of canned Tomato sauce to replace the fresh Tomatoes if you like.

Serve the Tomato Garlic soup drizzled with fat free cream and Croutons or slice of toasted Sour cream and garlic bread I have posted above. Enjoy! :)

February 20, 2009

ULTRA Grind and Pride: the softest Idlis, Dosas and Vadas!

ULTRA Grind:
This wet grinder post has nothing to do with any event at all, unless there is a gadget event is going on! :D

Some of my readers wanted to know how I liked it and whether it works as it promises. So I thought I would try grinding something first and then post some pics about it. I made idli batter with this, came out so soft and fluffy, I regret waiting all these yrs to buy one! Only thing I thought was that I should have bought the smaller 1.2L ULTRA Pride wet grinder since we are just 4 in the family and don't make a large quantity of batter usually, do not make ildis and dosas often.

Both of these grinders comes with Atta kneader attachment. I tried it once for making chapati dough, it works okay. Kneader struggles a bit for kneading once it formsthe atta into dough. I still prefer my KitchenAid professional stand mixer for kneading dough anyday.
Coconut grater attachment is not recommended by Inno Concepts for some reason, I didn't buy it. Sumeet will do a great job for powdering dry ingredients and small amount of chutney etc.

I bought this ULTRA GRIND here at Inno Concepts, Inc. which is in Atlanta, GA. They ship within a week and are very helpful if you have any questions. Here is the demo video.

I wanted to buy this for the longest time. But after I saw so many sizes and types, I wasn't sure which one to buy. Few weeks ago, I finally decided to buy the 2L wet grinder. Here are some pics and tips for those who want to buy. I will link this post at FH too, so everybody who visits there can look at it and decide for themselves. It is very useful if you make dosas and idlis often and in large quantities.

All in all, I love this gadget, makes softest idlis and dosas. When I make dosas and Urad dal vada batter with this grinder, I will post the photos here. I also ground a 1 1/2 cups coconut masala in this. We are supposed to use only the grated coconut in this. But I chopped the fresh coconut very finely and added it. It does grind, but with some scraping is needed in between. Again Sumeet mixe is far better for small amounts.

ULTRA GRIND as it is just out of the box!

Inside, two granite slanted cone grinders with plastic scraper on the side:

You get atta kneader and a purple lid with the grinder but spatula is mine which is a must to push the batter off of the stones without using your hand!

Grinding rice for Idli:
At first, I added the soaked rice directly inside there but grinders didn't work ie stopped moving. I scraped all out and added 1/3 cup water first, started the machine and then added rice. Worked fine after that! I should have read the manual first! :D

Then the soaked and drained Urad dal and Methi seeds:
It took about 20mins to get the softest batter ever; So light that if you drop a glob of batter in water, it floats.That will never happen when you grind it in Sumeet blender, although it grinds to smooth batter!

This is how it looked right after grinding, already fluffy!

This is after fermenting overnight, almost spilled over.

Ready to steam:

TADA! Soft idlies and also made some Thatte Idlis in Dhokla stand and Katori idlis with leftover idli batter.

Thick Urad dal batter getting ready for Urad dal Vadas:

Fluffy airy Urad dal vadas! Thank you ULTRA Grind! :D

Spongy Dosa batter, getting ready, use the rubber spatula to push the batter down, never use metal spatulas:

Fermented dosa batter! I never had this much of fermentation in Winter ever! :D

Spongy golden dosa!

Late addition: I was so happy with ULTRA Grind, I decided to buy the smaller 1.2L ULTRA Pride as well, it's so cute! Yes, you can call me Craaazzzyy! ;D
This one came with a little cheap looking plastic spatula too, along with a atta kneader.

I ground Coconut masala in the smaller Pride, it works well but doesn't grind very smooth unless you add a bit of hot water to it. ULTRA Grind does a better job grinding the masala smooth but you need to grind a large amount like 2 cups or so.

Add 1/3 cup of cold water first when you are grinding rice and Urad dal and 1/3 cup of hot water when you are grinding masala with coconut. Coconut tends to get thick if you add cold water and makes it hard to grind, hot water thins the coconut. Little things I learnt after grinding both. You have use the spatula to push the masala in a bit but it's easier to do since the top of the grinder is open unlike the mixer where you have to stop and then push it down and start again.

Dill masala Paratha dough kneaded with atta kneader attachment in the smaller ULTRA Pride, took less than 2 minutes! It gathers the flour etc quickly to a ball but kneading the dough is a bit tricky, machine stops once the ball is formed.
For kneading bread dough for baking, I still need to use my Kitchenaid kneader hook!

Enjoy the weekend! :)