January 30, 2009

Caribbean Chicken Fricassee and a Blackeyed peas Rice

My healthy and low fat Caribbean Chicken Fricassee goes to Meeta's "Monthly Mingle" event. Michelle of "What's cooking?" is guest hosting MM event this month with a theme of "Healthy family dinners". Thanks to both of you, enjoy my slightly spicy, healthy and tasty Fricassee! :))

Here is a tasty and healthy fricassee of chicken with typical Caribbean flavors added like Allspice, Thyme, and not to forget Scotch Bonnet peppers if you can handle it! Well...I can't handle it, so I chickened out and used half of a Jalapeno which is more my style! :D

There are various recipes for the Fricassee of chicken and here I chose to make a Caribbean style Chicken Fricassee. Allspice is a unique berry (click
here to see the photo and info, allspice is not Garam masala!) which has a distinctive aroma and taste, which is used in savory and in desserts as well. Since Caribbean cuisine has a little bit of Indian influence too, this would be a perfectly healthy brunch or dinner for any family, specially fit for a Winter meal with a little warmth of Jalapenos and peppers in the throat. Here is my version, hope you enjoy it too! :))

Caribbean Chicken Fricassee:
I used my own fresh herbs from my herb pot for this dish, which I moved into my garage when the Winter chill started. They have survived beautifully although garage is pretty cold place too! Nothing like the aroma of fresh herbs when it hits the heat but you can use dry herbs as well. You can also add carrots and celery to it, I didn't. Make it with thicker sauce for noodles or thinner sauce like I did here to serve with rice, it's up to you.

You need:
1 tbsp olive oil or Canola oil,

1 tbsp butter,

2 lbs of chicken,
white and dark meats,cut into big chunks,

1 tbsp plain flour,

1-2 cup chicken stock,

salt to taste,
1 small onion, minced,

2 garlic, minced,
1" ginger, minced,
1/2 Jalapeno, sliced,

1/2 cup Tomato sauce,

2 tsp Vinegar, malt or cider vinegar or any you have, even Worcestershire sauce,
1/2 tsp Paprika,

1 tbsp fresh Thyme or 1/2 tsp dry Thyme,

1/2 tsp Oregano,
few sprigs of Parsley,
2 tsp minced fresh Mint,

1 tsp Allspice powder,

1/2 tsp coarse black pepper.

Save some more herbs and 1/4 tsp Allspice pd to add at the end of cooking.

How to:

1. Take a pressure cooker or a deep dish, add 1 tbsp oil and heat. Then add chicken and stir fry until whitish. Sprinkle the flour on top, mix well to coat, stir for a minute and take the chicken out into a plate.

2. Add 1 tbsp butter, fry onion until translucent, add Jalapenos, ginger and garlic, stir for a minute. Add tomato sauce, saute for a minute. Now add all the spices, vinegar and chicken stock to the pan, mix well.

3. Add in the chicken, and pressure cook gently on low heat for mins or cover and cook in the pan until chicken is cooked through, doesn't take much time.

4. Open the lid, add all the saved herbs and pepper and allspice, simmer for 2 mins. Adjust the thinness as you desire adding water or stock and adjust the salt. Tastes better the next day.

Serve with either Blackeyed peas rice or Noodles. Serving this on a bed of mashed potatoes will surely please the kids! ;D

Blackeyed peas rice/Pulao goes to Sudeshna of "Bengali Cuisine" blog's "Harvest-The festival of Rice" event. Thanks for hosting Sudeshna, have fun. Looking forward to the yummy rice round up! :))

Blackeyed peas are my favorite beans, specially those brown ones. Any rice dish made with these beans are extra healthy and tasty, a mild tasting dish for kids too who don't like spicy food. This Pulao goes well with either vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes and is very easy and quick recipe to make if you use a microwave and canned Blackeyed peas, enjoy! :)

Blackeyed Peas rice/Pulao: Usually when I open any can of beans, I drain all the water and rinse the beans once before adding it to the dish. But here, I used all the water which comes with canned Blackeyed peas to make the Pulao more flavorful, delicious and it also gives a earthy color to this rice dish too.


First, open a 8 or 12 oz can of Blackeyed peas, drain the juice and save the juice another bowl. Add enough water of stock to this bowl to make 3 1/2 cups of liquid and keep aside. We use this to cook rice later. Keep the drained Blackeyed peas aside for later too.

Keep these handy:
2 tsp oil and 1 tsp butter,
1" ginger and 2 garlic, minced, ground or grated,
2 cloves and 1 Bay leaf,
1 tsp Cumin seeds powder,
1 tsp or more salt,
1 tsp crushed peper,

2 cups long grain rice,
3 1/2 cups of liquid (stock or water combined with beans juice),
1/2 tsp dry mixed herbs or 1/2 tsp each of dry Thyme and Parsley,
Drained Blackeyed peas.

To make Pulao:

1. In a microwavable bowl, add 2 tsp oil and 1 tsp butter, heat it for a minute or 2 until hot.
2. Add 2 cloves, 1 Bay leaf, 2 garlic and 1" ginger paste to it, stir well and MW for 2 more mins.
3. Add 1 tsp cumin seeds powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp crushed pepper, 2 cups long grain rice, mix well to coat with oil and butter mixture.
4. Now, add 3 1/2 cups (this is my rice to water proportion, rice you use might have different proportion of water) water or vegetable stock or Chicken stock, including the drained Blackeyed peas water, dry herbs and mix well.
5. Microwave uncovered for 16 mins on high (100%). Now, add Blackeyed peas to it, mix well.
6. Cover the bowl with a plate this time and microwave at 50% for 6 mins.
6. Take out and fluff the rice with a fork to mix beans well, adjust the salt and pepper. Cover and serve when needed.

Enjoy the Super Bowl Sunday, see you all next week! :))

January 26, 2009

No-Bake creamy cookies and super fast Microwave Brownies

No-bake creamy cookies go to Priyanka of "Asan Khana" blog who is asking us to "Cook and Create with Luv for Luv" for Valentine's day with this event. Made a heart with full of sweet sugar for you, enjoy!

Happy Valentine's day in advance to all you! :))

Super fast Microwave Brownies go to Srilekha of "Me and my kitchen" blog, whose theme for this month is "EFM-Microwave dishes". Here are my yummy Brownies, microwaved ( in regular Microwave baking method,) for you!

Thanks girls, enjoy these sweet dishes. Enough sugar for me to last a life time, let me tell ya but kids loved them all! ;D

No-bake Cookies first!
Really! Absolutely no baking or cooking at all to make these cookies!! If you like eating sweet...I mean sweeeet..desserts and love Ice cream, these are for you. It's creamy and melt in the mouth cookies with loads of sugar. So go easy on them but wonderful to eat a small amount after dinner. Must keep them in the fridge.
PS: Since we use only cream cheese and powdered sugar to make the cookies, they do get warm, sticky and soft when kept on the counter top for too long. It's best to store in the fridge at all times, take out few as you need. When chilled, it tastes like little balls of Vanilla Ice Cream!

Creamy no-bake cookies:
I made a very small quantity just to show you and made heart shaped pink ones for Valentine's day but traditionally made of small Key Lime sized balls and pressed the top with fork tines to make designs or you can press the top with any design too.
Variation: Add mint extract and green color to make mints!!

Here is how; You need:
2 oz or 1/4 cup or 4 tbsp Cream cheese, low-fat will do too,
1/4 tsp Vanilla essence,
2 drops of red food color to make it pink,
3 cups (keep 1/2 cup extra sugar if you need it) powdered sugar.

1. Take a bowl, add the cream cheese, food color and essence and beat well with hand held electric beater until well mixed for a minute.
2. On low speed, gradually add 3 cups of powdered sugar, keep mixing until you get a firm dough. Add more sugar if you need to. It took me a bit less than 3 cups, so it's up to you.
3. Spread some powdered sugar on the counter, add a key lime size dough and make a ball quickly and press the top with fork to make ridges. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
4. Place them in a covered dish and refrigerate immediately. Take them out as you need them. They must be kept chilled or they will soften and loose shape. They freeze well too!

I rolled a ball of dough and cut out a heart shape just for this event, you don't need to do that. If you find it hard to roll the dough to make balls, chill the dough for 30 mins and it will be very easy shape them.

Enjoy! :))

Yummy and super fast within 8 mins Brownies!!
What more could you want, right? It's really easy and delicious although they might not taste like the best Brownies you ever had which are baked in the oven! But not bad at all for a quick chocolate fix when you are craving for something sweet to eat, for unexpected guests or for kids' after school snack, can be done from start to finish within 7-8 mins!!
Here it is, hope you give it a try and eat quickly within a day or two and keep them in the airtight Ziplock bags when you are eating them! :D

Check out this
Microwaved Orange cake!!

Microwaved Brownies:

You need: 1/4 cup each butter and oil, Canola is what I use,
1 cup sugar, brown or white sugar,

2 eggs (replace with 4 tbsp Apple sauce for vegetarians),

1 tsp Vanilla,

3/4 cup plain flour,

1/2 cup good quality Cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli cocoa, Hershey will do too)

1/2 tsp salt,

1/2 cup (less or more) chopped nuts or white or dark chocolate chips.

mix flour, cocoa powder, salt together in a plate or bowl with a fork and keep aside.

To bake:
1. Add sugar, oil and butter in a big bowl, heat in the MW for a minute. Mix well with hand held electric mixer for a minute until mix is creamish and let it cool before you add the eggs or sauce.
2. Once cooled a bit, add eggs and vanilla to the mix, beat again to a smooth batter.

3. Add the flour mixture gradually to this and mix well. Do not beat too much, just until everything looks like a smooth thick batter. It's almost done!

4. Add nuts or chips now, mix well with a spatula gently or sprinkle on top just before you bake.
I didn't add nuts, kids don't like them but sprinkled the white chocolate chips on top of the batter.
5. Now, spray a round or square 8" microwavable dish with non-stick oil or brush some butter, pour the above batter into it. Smoothen the top and spread evenly with the back of a wet spoon.

6. Put it in the microwave and bake for 3 mins on 100% power. Turn the bowl once halfway and MW again for another 2 mins. Check the center, if it looks a bit shiny but not soggy, it's done.

7. If not, MW one more minute. Never over bake it, it will be hard like a rock and crumbly. It's okay to leave little damp in the middle. As it cools, it will cook and get firm.
Cool and cut into pieces. keep it covered to store, do not leave it in the fridge.

Every Microwave has different power capacity, so use your judgment when baking.
You can sprinkle some milk on top to moisten if you bake too much but I do recommend to bake less mins than repairing it later.

Have a fun Monday, see you all later! :))

January 23, 2009

Jalapeño Bajji, Onion Pakoras and a homemade masala (Saarina pudi) powder

Hot and spicy Jalapeno Bajjis goes to Pallavi of "All things yummy" blog's event "Sunday snacks-Hot and spicy" . Bonus Onion Pakoras go to her too!

A versatile Saarina pudi/Sambhar powder
taken from my mom's recipe book goes to Smitha of "Kadumanga" blog's event "Colors of taste-Sambhar, Rasam Powders". I can't wait for this 'Powders' round up, just think of so many masala powders in one place! YAY!

Thanks to both of you, enjoy hosting! :))

Jalapeño Bajji:

Here is a quick fix for all those boring cold winter weekends with nowhere to go and nothing to do expect to sit next to the fireplace and watch TV! :D

How to make them:
1. You need about 6-8 Jalapenos, cut into 2" pieces, scoop out the seeds and mix them all in 2 tsp lemon juice and salt. Let it soak for 15 mins and take out the Jalapeno pieces on a paper towel.
2. Make to batter:
Mix 1/2 cup Besan/Chickpea flour, 1/4 cup rice flour, pinch of turmeric, pinch of baking soda, enough chilli pd, salt, 1/2 tsp each of cumin seeds pd and coriander seeds pd, 1/4 tsp Ajwain seeds, crushed(optional) and 1 tbsp hot oil. Add enough water to make a thickish batter like pancake batter so batter sticks to Jalapenos when dipped. Let it rest for 10mins.

3. Heat enough oil to deep fry about 360F. When ready, dip Jalapenos and drop carefully in the oil. Fry until golden and crisp. Drain on the paper towel.

Since Jalapenos are hot and spicy enough, you might want to serve them with Ketchup or yogurt dip or just as they are.

Onion Pakodas/Pakoras:

More munchies! I love these than those hot and spicy Jalapeno bajjis!!
If there is any of the above batter left after using the chillies, which I always have some left,
I add chopped onion, grated ginger, chilli flakes or green chillies minced, some cilantro, crushed coriander seeds, curry leaves, sometimes potato pieces or any veggies I can get my hands on to the batter and deep fry until golden, dropping them in small portions with a spoon or using your finger tips into the oil. These Pakodas can be served with coconut chutney. Enjoy! :))


Sambhar/Saarina pudi/versatile masala powder to add to any gravy:

My mother gets a big jarful of saaru/Sambhar powder from her MIL (my Mysore ajji) every year, which is made once a year in large quantity and distributed to all her sons' and daughters' homes. This powder is used to make everyday Saaru/Sambhar and usually added to veggie side dishes as well.
And then, on top of that powder, my mother makes this simple Sambhar powder which I am giving you here. It's versatile, can be added to any vegetarian dishes which makes the gravy thicker (which is the way my kids like Sambhars, no thin rasam for them! :D) since it has dals, along with some other spice pd if you like. I make some of these every 3 mnts or so and keep it in my pantry. Here it goes!

Saarina Pudi/Sambhar powder:

To make Sambhar powder:
This makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of powder and it will last about 2 mnts if you keep it in the airtight bottle in the dry cool pantry, can last for more mnts if kept in the fridge. Keeping it in the plastic jars are not recommended.

Roast each of these separately until crisp and cool them before grinding:
1 cup Coriander seeds,
5 tbsps Channa dal,
2 1/2 tbsps Urad dal,
3 tbsp Cumin seeds,
10 dry red chilles,
5" Cinnamon stick (Dalchini),
1/4 cup dry dessicated grated coconut. Roast until reddish, cool. Do not burn it.
(Do not use fresh coconut)
Add 1 tsp Turmeric powder and 1 tsp Paprika for color just before you grind the above ingredients, do not roast the Turmeric pd unless you are using a dry piece of root Turmeric.

Grind these to smooth powder after they are cooled completely

Tendli masala/Tondekai sambhar, thicker version:
I wanted to show you how I use this powder in making this dish, using Tendlis/Tondekai in Kannada. You can use this powder in any vegetable side dish as well, tastes great.

How to:
1. In a pressure cooker, add 1 tbsp oil and heat. Add in 1 tbsp Chana dal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, curry leaves, 1 dry red chilli, 1 small onion, finely chopped, 1 garlic.

2. When they are reddish in color, add chopped Tendlis and stir fry for 1 minute. Add 2 cups of water, 1/2 cup Tuar dal, close the lid, pressure cook on low heat for 2 mins. Cool the cooker and open the lid.
3. Add 1/2 tsp tamarind paste, salt, 1 tbsp (or more to your taste) masala pd shown above, simmer gently. Adjust the water if it's too thick, and adjust salt and chilli pd.
4. When the gravy is thickish, add 1 tsp of ghee and chopped cilantro.

It's ready to eat. I always make any Indian gravy dish a day early and keep it in the fridge, so the flavors will mingle overnight. Serve this sambhar with rice, parathas or Dosas.

That's it. Have a great weekend, see you all on Monday!!:))

January 19, 2009

Easy Oatmeal Rava Dosa, Roasted Coconut chutney and a MW Paneer Chole Makhani

Easy Oatmeal Rava dosa goes to EC of "Simple Indian Food" blog who guest hosting "MBP-Easy breakfast" event this month, which is started by Coffee of "The spice Cafe". I chose this dish from Vibaas of "Delectable Vegetarian recipes" blog.

Roasted coconut, onion and chana dal chutney goes to Ramya of "Mane Adige" blog, who just launched an event called "Chutney/Dip Mania".

Microwaved Paneer dish
goes to Raks of "Rak's kitchen" who is guest hosting for her"MEC-Paneer" event which is launched by Srivalli of "cooking4allseason" blog.

Paneer chole Makhani,
cooked in the Microwave goes to MS of "Food Travails" blog who is guest hosting "JFI-Chickpeas" and event is launched by Indira of "Mahanandi" blog.

My thanks to all of you for hosting and for the time you devote to do the round ups! :))

asy breezy, delicious and nutritious breakfast or lunch or dinner!
I went "monthly blog patrolling" aka MBP for easy breakfast dishes and found this at
Vibaas of "Delectable Vegetarian recipes" blog's "Protein packed Oatmeal Rava dosa. Click here to see the original recipe and her yummy Oat-Rava dosa photo too! Thanks Vibaas, we enjoyed these Oats dosa with red hot chutney! :))

Roasted coconut-chana dal-onion chutney:
This red hot chutney goes well with any dosa, idli or Parathas too. It's a bit different from the usual coconut chutney I make. Inspired by Kerala Chammanthi I made for Kerala RCI cuisine, I improvised a bit on that adding chana dal. I love the taste roasted fresh coconut, gives it a smoky aroma! Whenever I buy fresh coconuts, I separate the shell from pulp inside and cut them into small pieces and freeze them in a ziplock bags. I take out some out and thaw whenever I need them. I do not use store bought dessicated coconut in any chutney at all. Use that for sprinkling on Rasam or making spice powder to add when cooking gravies etc.

You need to roast these first each separately until reddish in a bit of oil and cool: 1/2 cup fresh coconut pieces (or grated), 1/4 cup Chana dal, 1/4 of a large onion, sliced, 2-3 dry red chillies, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds. Grind the above with these ingredients until smooth and thick with very less water: 1" ginger, 1/2 tsp or less tamarind paste (I use SWAD paste from the jar), enough salt, 1/4 tsp Paprika for color, pinch of hing. Adjust the salt. Season with these and add to the chutney: Heat 2 tbsp oil, add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1-2 dry red chillies, few curry leaves until they pop, take off the heat and cool it down a bit and add to chutney to mix. That's it! :)

******************************************************************************************************************* Now comes the yummy dish I cooked completely in the Microwave!! It came out so well and it was so fast to make that I don't want to do this chole on the stove top ever again! :D My daughter loves cheese, period!! Indian cheese as she calls it, Paneer is her favorite added Indian dishes. This dish is also mild tasting, which makes the kids happy. They won't touch the above spicy coconut chutney at all but they would eat this with a piece toast gladly!! I served this dish with layered triangular parathas.

Paneer Chole Makhani, Microwaved!!
Photo didn't come out well since it was very bright in the kitchen that day but somehow I managed to save this one out of 20+ others! :D

For Paneer Chole Makhani, I used store bought Paneer which are firmer than homemade cheese and I found few cans of organic Chickpeas to add. Organic chickpeas are bit more expensive but smaller and very flavorful unlike those gigantic plump regular canned Garbanzo we get, I like the organic Garbanzo better. Enjoy the low fat dish, not much fat although it is "makhani"(with butter sauce), considering it serves 4 people.

Look at the size of this Microwave! Doesn't it look like a college student's dorm room or may be a high school auditorium?! Hahaha!! Just kidding. It's a convection oven too, so it's pretty spacious to fit a regular size baking sheet. anyway, each Microwave has different power, so use your eyes and nose to judge how long each step takes when microwaving. I am giving you how I exactly I cooked this dish in my MW.

How to make Paneer chole Makhani in the MW:
Get all these in one place first and start microwaving as given below;
2 tbsp oil,
1 cumin seeds,
1 bay leaf,
1 medium onion, finely minced or ground, 1" ginger
+ 2 garlic (grind these both),
1/2 cup Tomato sauce,
spice powders; 2 tbsp
plain yogurt, 1 tsp coriander seeds powder, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds powder, 1/4 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp chilli pd or paprika, 1 tsp Chole masala or Kitchen King masala pd.
1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup 2% or half fat Milk,
4 tbsp minced cilantro, 1 12oz can Organic Garbanzo/Chickpeas, drained of water, rinsed, 1 tsp sugar, enough salt,
1/2 pack of Paneer, cubed to bite sized pieces, 1 tbsp Butter.
Here is how:
1. Add oil to a deep glass dish, heat for 2 mins until hot. (Keep the bowl uncovered)
2. Add cumin seeds and 1 bay leaf, heat for 1 minute.
3. Add minced/ground onion, cook for 3 to 5 mins, keep stirring in between to prevent burning the onion, it must be slightly reddish, not brown.
4. Add ginger-garlic paste, cook for 1 minute, add tomato sauce and cover the bowl and cook for 2 mins.
5. Add yogurt, spice powders, mix well and cook for 1 minute.
6. Now mix in water and milk, cook again without the cover this time for 3-5 mins until oil shows up a bit, keep stirring often.
7. Add cilantro, enough salt, sugar (I always add sugar whenever I use tomatoes in the dishes to cut the acidity) and chole/chickpeas, cook again for 5 mins until the sauce is thick and shiny.
8. Lastly, add Paneer cubes and mix well. Just heat about 2 mins and adjust the spices to your taste.

Your delicious Paneer Chole Makhani is ready to eat! :))

January 16, 2009

Thai spicy salad and a Persimmon pudding to cool you down!

Spicy Thai salad is my contribution to "A.W.E.D.-Thailand" (vegetarian) event which is hosted by DK of "Culinary Bazaar". Thanks for hosting, dear Ms. DK! :))
As DK and I were talking about weight, gaining and losing and all that beautiful things (Mine mostly! :D) last week, I thought I will make a light and spicy dish rather than usual Thai curries specially for DK for her event and went on to search and research to come up with this salad. Then I find this event "Just for you" hosted by Alka of "Sindhi Rasoi" who asks us to cook for a friend, family members etc. So, this salad which I specially picked and made for DK fits perfectly to Alka's event as well! :)
LG of "cooking station" is hosting a "SWC-salads under 15mins" event too, just found out. Here it is for you too LG, enjoy!
Then came this wonderful "AFAM-Persimmon" event, originally conceived by Maheswari and Trupti of "recipecenterforall" is guest hosting this month with her choice of fruit. Persimmon Pudding goes to her.
Since this pudding is baked with fruit, low fat milk and excellent for kids as well as adults, I am sending this to "Cooking for kids-Milk, milk products" event which is started by Sharmi of "Neivedyam" blog and Preety of "Preety's Kitchen" is guest hosting this month.

Thanks for all of you for taking time to host and round up, enjoy the spicy Thai salad and cool it down with delicious and easy to make Persimmon Pudding!! :)

Hot and spicy salad from Thailand:
Well.. I don't know whether Thai people eat this salad in their land (like Taco Bell is authentic "Mexican food", "Curry" is Indian! :D) but in US restaurants, this spicy salad is quite popular as an appetizer. Yes, I have eaten it and loved it, that's where the inspiration comes from for me to recreate this salad.
There is a Thai Beef salad called "Yam Neua", similar to this dish except served topped with grilled Beef. I have adapted this vegetarian recipe with some additions of my own from the Naked chef "Jamie Oliver".

All I can say is, this salad is deliciously spicy and can make a great light lunch as well. Loaded with fresh vegetables, peanuts, Almonds, green chillies, crunchy noodles and topped with sesame seeds oil, ginger, garlic. lemon juice etc in the dressing, it makes a satisfying and low fat appetizer or lunch. Enjoy.

Spicy Thai salad 1

You need these:

Bunch of Romaine lettuce, Iceberg Lettuce, fresh Tomato, Cucumber slices, baby red radishes, green, red and orange bell peppers slices, 1/4 minced Jalapeno, bean sprouts if you have it, snow peas, grated carrots, green onions, purple cabbage slices, red onion slices, toasted sesame seeds, toasted Almond slivers, toasted or salted peanuts, store bought crispy flour noodles (Asian "Sev"), fresh Cilantro, few Mint leaves or Thai Basil if you have it. Any fresh veggies you can get your hands will do.

On a salad plate or bowl, add lettuce first to create a bed, add all the other veggies mentioned above one by one and pile up. Sprinkle roasted nuts, crunchy noodles and herbs on top, garnish with green onion. Serve with hot and spicy dressing on the side and just before you serve or eat, sprinkle the dressing on top. Don't mix dressing before hand, fresh veggies and nuts get soggy and soft. Remember, dressing is spicy!

Thai style HOT dressing! Slurp!! :D

For Thai dressing, mix all these well in a bowl and let it rest for an hour or so in the fridge:
3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp canola oil, 1 tbsp sesame seed oil, 2 tsp Soy sauce, 1 tsp brown sugar or honey, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 garlic, grated, 1 tsp red chilli sauce (I added Sriracha hot sauce, and 1/2 tsp of peanut butter too!), few cilantro. Shake these well in a bottle, pour into a bowl and chill for few mins before serving. Stick a few lemon slices and cilantro to garnish. Adjust the salt, chilli etc to your taste. It should spicy, sweet and tangy, all in one. Sounds good, huh? Enjoy! :))

I am happy to give you this delicious and easy to bake recipe. I had neverbought Persimmon before since I didn't know how it tasted. Thanks to Trupti's AFAM, I went and bought 4 Japanese "Fuyus" Persimmon which look like ripe yellow Tomatoes. It smelled so delicious and tasted like Lychees. They say that other kind of Persimmon, which is heart shaped tangy "Hachiya" should be used to cook, and Fuyus should be eaten fresh. But I did use the Fuyus and trust me, they baked perfectly even with a thick sweet syrup under the pudding!! My son ate half of it alone with cream! :D
Hope you try and bake this yummy pudding. It's low in fat and not too sweet, great for kids and grown ups alike, almost a diet dessert if you skip the cream!!

Persimmon Pudding:
This recipe is adapted from "Allrecipes" websites but I did a change a lot, specially cut down the sugar etc. If you don't like the Egg, you can skip it. Pudding is scoopable, not like cake. So it's quite okay to skip the egg, egg makes it fluffy though. Baking time varies too acc. to your oven.

To bake Persimmon Pudding, you need these:
4 ripe Fuyu persimmons, peeled and roughly chopped or squeeze out into chunks,
1/3 cup white sugar, or more if you like it really sweet,
1 egg, beaten, (skip the egg if you like but pudding will be less fluffy)
1 cup all-purpose flour,
1/4 tsp baking soda,
1 tsp baking powder.

1/2 teaspoon ground sweet cinnamon,
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract,
1/2 pinch salt,
3/4 cup 2% milk,
2 tbsp melted butter.

To bake Pudding:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Lightly butter or spray a 9" round deep baking dish.

1. In a mixing bowl, mix persimmon pulp, baking soda, sugar and egg and beat until well mixed.
2. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla essence, salt, milk and melted butter to the bowl with fruit etc, mix well again.
3. Pour into baking pan and bake for 50-65 minutes or until needle inserted comes clean. Do not over bake,it's okay if it's little soft in the center, it will firm up as it cools.

(You don't have to do this step but do it if you can. After 20mins of baking, open the oven door and with a fork, stir the middle of the pudding few times and let it bake. It makes the pudding fluffier! Don't open the oven door again)

4. Pudding will rise in the oven and puff but will fall in after cooling, which is normal. Cool the pudding.
5. Serve with creamy whipped cream if you like.
You can use any ripe fruit with pulp in the same recipe instaed of Persimmons. Oven baking times may vary, use your judgment.

Have a great weekend, see you on Monday! :))

January 12, 2009

Urad dal masala vada with spicy dal dip....my savory yellow legume winter treat!

Alrighty! Here is my favorite winter snack "Urad dal masala vada with spicy dal dip" , which goes to all these events. If anybody (event hosts I mean) do not want it, let me know!! :D

I am sending this to Srivalli of "cooking4allseasons", who is guest hosting the event "My Legume love affair-7th helping" , which is started by Susan of "Well seasoned cook".
This is also my second entry for Sunshinemom of "Tongueticklers", who is hosting a event with a theme "Yellow-Food in colors" .
This savory also goes to Srilekha of "Srishkitchen" for her event "EFM-Savories" as well.
Just came to know about these events called "Sunday Snacks-Hot and Spicy" being hosted by Pallavi of "All things yummy" blog and "Chutney/dip Mania" from Ramya of "Mane Adige" blog. Here is my hot one and a dip!

Thanks to all of you for hosting these events. Hope you like my contribution! :))

Urad dal masala vada with spicy dal dip:
I am sure most Indians know about this yummy snack. Uddina Vade, as they are called in Kannada, are the most popular snack or breakfast in Karnataka served in every restaurant with either Sambhar or Rasam and also with Idlis.
I usually make these during cold days of Winter which are great to munch on while watching a movie or two on lazy Sundays!! Then they become "Mosaru vade" (ie Urad dumplings dunked in chilled spicy yogurt) in lazy Summer Sundays! :))

Urad vada with dal dip2

You need:
1 cup Urad dal, soaked in water for 2-3 hrs,
1 tbsp rice, soaked with Urad dal, (makes it crisp)
a big pinch of baking soda,
enough salt to taste.
Chop these very finely:
1/2 big onion,
few curry leaves,
1 small Jalapeno,
3-4 tbsp chopped Cilantro.
Few slivers of fresh coconut will add taste but optional.

Oil to deep fry.

How to make the vadas:
1. Drain the water from the soaked dal, add to the mixer (Sumeet is best if you have it) along with salt and blend until smooth, fluffy without adding water if you can manage that. If you have to add water, keep it to minimum amount. If batter is watery, it's impossble to shape them like doughnuts, you will end up with round dumplings.
2. Take out in a bowl, mix all the chopped ingredients mentioned above, beat well to get the air in the batter which makes them fluffy when fried.
3. Heat enough oil to deep fry in a wok/Kadai/electric deepfryer to 360F.
4. Now, here is how I do the doughnut shape. I wet my left hand palm with water, take a lump of batter with my right hand,put it on the left palmand with my right index finger, I make a big wide hole.
5. Then quickly slide in the Vada into the hot oil, wash the laft palm quickly and get to the next vada doughnut making like machine! :D
6. Deep fry them until golden and take them out on the paper towel to drain. Keep them in the warm oven until the time to serve comes around.

In India, sometimes oiled or wet banana leaves are used to make vadas which makes it easy slide off the vadas to the oil. You could try using foil too but I find good old palms are the best tool for making these.
Batter must be as thick as you can get or else it won't form a doughnut shape. If not thick, you can also just drop them with a spoon into the oil as round balls, tastes the same but looks nontraditional shaped urad vadas.
Beating the batter to incorporate air into it is one of the tricks to make fluffy light vadas which is not easy but experience is the key. Don't worry if you don't always get perfect doughnut shapes either, it's not easy and doesn't change the taste in any way! :)

Now, how I make spicy dal as a dip to these crunchy vadas!!

Spicy dal dip:
You need these first:
1/4 cup each of chana dal, Masoor dal, Moong dal,
2 cups of water to cook the dals,
1/4 cup tomato sauce,
2 tsp coriander seeds powder,
1/2 tsp cumin seeds powder,
1/2 tsp chilli powder,
1/2 tsp Garam masala (optional).
To temper:

1 tbsp butter+ 1 tsp oil,
pinch of Hing,
2 red dry chillies, broken,
1 tsp Cumin seeds,
1/4 cup chopped onion,
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced,
1 tsp ginger, grated.

How to make the dal:
1. Cook all 3 dals with water in the Microwave or in te pressure cooker until soft, mix well and keep aside.
2. Take a pan, add cooked dal, Tomato sauce, masala powders (spices), salt and simmer gently until tomato sauce is cooked and raw smell goes. Adjust the salt and spices. Add cilantro and turn off the heat.Sauce should be thicker than the usual to use as a dip.
3. Heat oil and butter in a pan, add the tempering ingredients one by one to the oil, fry until the onions and garlic are reddish.
4. Add the tempering to dal amd mix well to serve with Urad dal Vadas.

There is my snack combo or sometimes Sunday dinner too if I eat too many! Have a wonderful week ahead, see you later! :D

January 9, 2009

Spinach and Feta cheese bread

Spinach and Feta cheese bread is my contribution to "Bread Baking day #16" which is being hosted by Temperance of "High on the Hog" blog, with a theme of Bread with cheese. Thanks for hosting the first bread event for 2009, Temperance and my thanks to Zorra for starting this event. I am sure you all will enjoy this event as much as I did baking this bread! :))

When my kitchen was being remodeled last December, I couldn't cook at all for 5 weeks and that is the first time I just sat idle not being able to cook at all in 22 yrs after I got married! Did I enjoy the freedom? Not at all!! I just missed the cooking, baking and the aromas so much. When the construction was done, first thing I wanted to do is to bake a good bread in my brand new convection oven. I went on searching for a good bread recipe and I found this spinach-Feta bread recipe in a website which reminded me of Greek Spanakopita. Spinach, Rye and Feta sounded perfect for me and here it is, my first bread baked in my brand new kitchen and oven! What a perfect bread baking with cheese event to show it off too! :)

I tried this wonderful bread recipe from this beautiful cooking bread classes site. Check this out for step by step pictures. I have typed the bread recipe for my future reference here. My sincere thanks to this wonderful site for educating us all with such a clear cut instructions and for this super Spinach healthy and wonderful tasty, slightly tangy Feta bread.

Spinach-Feta cheese bread:
I followed the recipe mostly as it is except few changes and I also used the frozen Spinach instead of fresh Spinach. I didn't have the fresh greens at hand at the time but I don't think it took away much in the taste. Do use fresh Spinach if you can.

Spinach and Feta Bread 1

You need to do this the night before baking; Mix all these, cover and let it ferment overnight:
3/4 cup bread flour,
1/2 cup lukewarm water,
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast.

Next morning, gather all these in one place before you start the dough:
2 cups chopped fresh spinach or frozen, thawed and squeezed dry spinach,
1 tsp or butter to saute the Spinach,
Pinch of salt.

1 1/4 cup lukewarm water,
1/2 cup dark rye,
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour,
1/2 tsp instant yeast,
1 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp crushed pepper or dry chilli flakes,
2 cups bread flour,1 cup crumbled feta cheese.

First step:
Heat 1 tsp oil or butter in a pan, add salt, Spinach and saute until wilted and there is no liquid left. I microwaved the thawed spinach until the water evaporated, checking it often taking care not to burn the greens. Take it out, separate the clumps if any and let it cool.
1. Take a big bowl (or if you are using the KitchenAid to knead like I did, use that bowl),add "night before" fermented mix and lukewarm water, mix gently.
2. Add salt, pepper or chilli flakes, yeast, and both Rye and whole wheat flour, mix again. Leave it for 5-10 mins to rise a bit.
3. Add the bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time until you use all the flour until you get a very slightly sticky dough. You might need more or less bread flour than 2 cups, use your judgment. Knead well by hand or in the machine until you get a good smooth dough. Cover and let it rest for 5 mins.
4. Now, add spinach and Feta cheese on the dough, fold and knead gently until evenly mixed with the dough. In the machine, add spinach first, let it mix gently on low speed. Once well mixed, add Feta and mix on the lowest speed just until mixed.
5. Brush some oil on the dough, cover and let it rise and double in a warm place or warm oven for about 2hrs. Divide into two and make round dough. Place on the baking sheet, brush some flour on the top. Cover with a towel and let them rise again for an hour.

Preheat the oven at 400F (Yes, I used 25F less than what the recipe says).
Once the oven is heated, uncover the dough and place the sheet inside. Since mine is a brand new Convection oven, I didn't use the water as it says at the cooking bread site but do follow that method if you like. Bake these bread loaves for 30-40mins or until they sound hollow when tapped at the bottom of the bread.
Again, use your judgment according to your own oven, times and temperature may vary. Do not overbake. I also used a double layered insulated cookie sheet to bake these bread, which doesn't give you a very dark bottom. You could use Pizza stone to bake the loaves and you could place a pan with water on the bottom rack for steam while baking. It's up to you.

I gave the second loaf to my neighbor who is a breast cancer survivor. She was so happy to receive such a healthy and tasty bread. However, as soon as she saw the bread, she was excited thinking that I brought her a Indian style bread but was equally happy to know that it had Greek ingredients instead! :D

Slice 1

So, that's it for today. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. We are looking forward to see the movie "Gran Torino"tomorrow! :))