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! :)

February 16, 2009

Aloo Biryani with Cucumber Raita, Chole-Dill Chaat, Rice Cake Flower

Siri of "Siri's corner" is guest hosting "Recipes for rest of us-Dinner" event, which is started by Ramki. My Aloo Biryani with Cucumber Raita goes to Siri.

Rachana of "The Gourmet Launchpad"
blog is asking for "A Heathy Bite" for her healthy and tasty party appetizers event. I am sending her my healthy and tangy "Chole-Dill Chaat".

Chitra amma of "Chitra amma's kitchen"
is hosting a cute event to celebrate her first blog birthday called "Kitchen Masterpieces" and asking us to create anything we fancy with food we eat. I took a hint from her own dosa art and made a Plate idli flower for her, hope she likes it!

Thanks to all of you, enjoy hosting! :)

Aloo Biryani with Cucumber Raita:
I made this Aloo Biryani the easy way. Instead of cooking and layering like the usual Biryani is done, I mixed the masala to already cooked rice and sauteed Potatoes like Pulao. Instead of Aloos, you can also add mixed veggies or meat to this Biryani masala too.

Also I am not supposed to use exact measures as per the rules of this event and recipe should be easy enough for a 10yr old to make this dish, so I threw in some "this and that" to make this Biryani. I cooked, peeled and sauteed the Potato cubes with a bit of salt in little oil first to make it easy to cook. Have fun!

Aloo Biryani:

1. Cook rice with pinch of salt, some lemon juice and bit of ghee, spread on a plate to cool. Prepare the Potatoes as above and set aside.
2. Heat oil, add few raisins, few cashews, few cloves, cinnamon pieces, crushed Cardamom pods.
3. Add about 2 handfuls of minced onion, fry until golden. Add ginger and garlic paste, saute for a minute.
4. Sprinkle coriander seeds powder, Cumin seeds powder, pepper powder, chill pd, pinches of turmeric, bit of garam masala, salt stir for a minute. Add some milk mixed with a pinch of saffron and Rose water, simmer until thickish paste. Ground poppy seeds added to Biryani will give a special taste.
5. Add potato cubes and rice and mix everything well. Adjust the spices and salt. You can garnish the Biryani with toasted Almond slivers if you like. Serve with Cucumber raita.

Cucumber Raita:
Mix enough yogurt, few pinches of salt, pepper pd, few cilantro and mint minced and cumin seeds powder and peeled and cubed cucumber pieces. Let it rest for a while before serving.

Serve with Biryani and enjoy! :)


Chole-Dill Chaat:
This is a simple Chaat you can serve in a small bowl and a spoon in any Indian party. It's fairly dry, flavorful and nutritious too. If you don't like Dill leaves (Suwa bhaji), you could replace it with baby Spinach or Fenugreek leaves or skip the greens all together and use just Chickpeas.

Here is how I made it:
1. Heat 2 tsp oil, saute 1" grated ginger until slightly golden. Add 1/2 a bunch of chopped Dill leaves, pinch of salt and 1 tbsp water, stir fry for 2-3 mins.
2. Now 1 can of drained and rinsed Organic Chickpeas, enough salt and add 1-2 tsp or more chaat masala. Mix well and heat it through. It should wet but without gravy, not very dry either.
Since canned chickpeas are already cooked and soft, you just need to mix with spices and heat it.
3. To serve, squeeze some Lemon juice on top, mix and serve in a small bowl. You can sprinkle red onion chopped and sliced green chillies if you can handle it but not necessary.

Chaat masala:
1 tsp Coriander seeds powder, 1 tsp Cumin seeds powder, 1 tsp Amchoor/dry Mango powder, 1/4 tsp chilli pd, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp black salt (Kala Namak) and 1/4 tsp coarse pepper powder. Mix all these and use as much as you need in the above Chole chaat or Aloo chaat or any Chaat!

Rice cake/Thatte Idli Flower:
I used one Rice Pancake aka Thatte Idli or Idli steamed in Dhokla stand plates, cut a flower with a pancake flower mould, filled the middle with Zucchini chutney and stuck a carrot pickle there. Sprinkled some coarsely ground pepper powder around the idli and garnished the corners with some chutney powder! I know! It's a very juvenile art from me but then I am not artistic enough to make anything else! Hahaha!!
Thanks to Chitra amma, I enjoyed being a kid again for few minutes! :))

Enjoy the rest of the week, see you all later! :)

February 13, 2009

Italian vegan grilled Grapefruit-Zucchini, Panko Mozzarella sticks

Grilled Grapefruit-Zucchini salad is my entry to "Fresh produce of the month", an event is started by Marta of "Italian in US" blog and Simona of "Briciole" is guest hosting this month with a theme of "Citrus fruits except Oranges and Lemons".

I am also sending this Italian Vegan grilled Zucchini salad to Vaishali of "Earth Vegan" blog who is hosting a event this month called "It's a Vegan World-Italian".

MBP event details are below, Trupti is guest hosting this month.

Thanks to all of you for hosting, hope you like my version of salad! :)

This recipe is adapted from this Italian Vegan site and instead of Lemon, I used Florida pink Grapefruit which I happen to have at home and added more zesty spices. Grapefruit juice made a wonderful citrusy dressing for this grilled Zucchini salad.
The grapefruit is a subtropical citrus tree grown for its bitter fruit which was originally named the "forbidden fruit" of Barbados! For more info about the goodness of Grapefruit, please click here. This Grapefruit photo you see below is from Wikipedia too. Enjoy! :)

Italian Vegan grilled Grapefruit-Zucchini salad with grapefruit-herb dressing:

Here is the simple recipe to make the salad:
Click on the collage to see larger pictures. I used these:
2 Zucchinis,
1 medium size pink Grapefruit,
enough and salt and pepper,
1 tsp mixed dry Italian herb seasoning (Basil, Oregano etc),
1 tsp dry spice mix like steak seasoning or chicken seasoning which has dried onion flakes, chili flakes etc. You can sprinkle any dry spices you like as well, 1/4 tsp dry Parsley or mint.
1-2 tsp Olive oil,
2 Garlic, minced to saute.
Marinate and grill these:
1. Wash, dry and cut the top and tail of Zucchinis. Slice Zucchinis lengthwise about 1/16" thick (not too thin or not too thick) with the skin on and arrange them on a plate. Squeeze all the juice from 1 Grapefruit on to the slices.
2. Now, sprinkle all the herbs, salt, pepper and spices on top.

Heat Olive oil, saute minced garlic and few chill flakes until soft and add to the top of the slices, mix gently.

3. I covered this and let it marinate for 1 or 2 hours. Marinate overnight if you have time!

4. Turn on the broiler or grill, grill the Zucchinis with the marinade for 2-4 mins, just until Zucchinis are a bit soft but not brown. Do not grill until spices get burnt!!
5. Take the plate out, pour off the juice into a serving dish, and arrange the slices on a plate to serve. Serve the dressing in a small individual bowls on the side to dip with few slices of Zucchinis in salad plates.

To eat this salad, cut a slice into half, roll the slice with a fork and pick up , dip in the dressing and eat. This is the most delicious salad I have eaten! Slightly bitter and tangy Grapefruit and soft pulpy Zucchini slices with herbs and spices taste fabulous together.
Thanks to the Vegan Italian site with this recipe and also these two wonderful events, I found a delicious salad recipe which is keeper for me.

Hope you try! :)

MBP is an event in which we pick a dish from other bloggers to post is started by Coffee and this month, Trupti of "Recipe Center" is guest hosting the MBP event with a theme of "Kids food". My kids love Mozzarella sticks, specially my daughter who is a cheese monster, so I chose to make these from Priya of "easy and tasty recipes" blog. I made few changes which I have written below and here is the Priya's Mozzarella cheese sticks.
Thanks Priya, we loved them! :)

Panko coated Mozzarella sticks:

Panko is Japanese bread crumbs which is very crunchy, sticks to cheese or any snack easily and stays very crisp even when cooled after frying or baking or grilling.

Here is how I adapted Trupti's recipe with my slight twist! :)
1. I bought few Mozzarella string cheese you get it in the cheese section at the grocery store wrapped in individual packs. They are about 5" long, 1/2" thick and sticks are sturdier than the fresh Mozzarella like finger food. My kids eat them just out of the wrap when they come back from school.
2. I rolled them in 1 egg+1tsp milk+pinch of salt mixture and rolled in the seasoned Panko bread crumbs. Add salt and pepper or any dry spices you like to Panko, mix well.
3. I let the sticks rest in the fridge or freezer for 15-30 mins so they firm up, don't fall off and melt when fried.
4. Deep fry in hot oil (375F) quickly just until the outside is golden. Drain and serve with ketchup or any sauce you like.

One more look!
That's it for this week, have a great weekend! :)

February 9, 2009

Vegetable Gratin, MW Savory Vegetable Pudding, Clicked!

Vegetable Gratin, topped with
savory breadcrumbs, dripping with delicious Bechamel sauce and Parmesan cheese is my contribution to Bee of Jugalbandi's "CLICK-The photo event-Cheese/Tofu" event this month. Thanks Jugs!

Well..I am supposed to say something about the photo I am posting here for the event. All I can say is, Bee threatened me that she would break all North Carolina Panthers' legs so they can never play football (or win the Super Bowl) ever again if I didn't send her a photo for her event. So, a selfless self- sacrificing woman that I am, sending this photo to her event so I can save NC Panthers' many many many pairs of those strong handsome manly legs!!!
Sigh...the things I have to do for my people of NC!! Bee, you win!!! Please spare them their legs......!!!! Waaaah...!!!!

Vegetable Gratin:
Baked mixed vegetable Gratin, topped with Bechamel sauce, savory bread crumbs and sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese.


Gratin with mixed vegetables and Bechamel sauce is my second dish for DK of "Culinary Bazaar"'s event "A.W.E.D.- France" this month. My first entry to her is savory "Pain Perdu", a French toast. Thank you DK, have fun in France!

Mixed vegetable Gratin:
"Gratin is a widely-used culinary technique of food preparation in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using bread crumbs and butter. Gratins are also frequently sprinkled with grated cheese. Gratin originated in French cuisine and is prepared using a casserole. A gratin is baked or broiled to form a golden crust on top and served in it's oval shaped baking dish.The etymology of gratin is from the French language in which the word "gratter" meaning to "to scrape" as of the "scrapings" of bread or cheese, and gratiné, from the transitive verb form of the word for crust. Gratin dish refers to the shallow oven-proof container used to prepare gratins." Info from WIKIPEDIA.

While making the savory Pudding (see below) for Sunday lunch, I saved half a bag of frozen veggies just to make this Gratin to show you here. Kids loved this dish more than the savory veg and bread pudding! :)

To make Gratin, you need:
1. I used 1/2 a bag frozen mixed veggies; Cauliflower, Broccoli, Water Chestnuts, Endamame, carrots etc. Put all these into a dish with a tsp of butter and pinch of salt and pepper, microwave for 10 mins until cooked or saute in butter until golden.
2. Add these veggies to a bakeable Gratin dish and keep aside.
3. Take about half a cup of garlic Croutons and coarsely powder it, keep aside.
4. Now, pour the prepared Bechamel sauce (recipe below) over the veggies, sprinkle bread crumbs to cover the sauce.
5. Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 mins, since veggies are already cooked, it doesn't take much time to bake or if you use a microwavable Gratin dish, you can microwave this in a jiffy too!
6. Lastly, as soon as you take out the dish out of the oven, sprinkle grated fresh Parmesan cheese on top. If you add cheese and bake in the oven, cheese might burn sometimes and tastes bitter, so I add it at the end. You can bake 5 mins more after you add the Parmesan cheese if you like.
To make Béchamel sauce:
Bechamel is basic white sauce and it becomes "Mornay" sauce if you add cheese to the sauce.
1. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a non-stick pan, add 1 tbsp plain flour, pinch of salt and pepper. Stir for a while or until slightly golden, turn down the heat and add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of half and half or milk, simmer. (Optionally, you add 2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese and whisk well).
2. Keep whisking to avoid the lumps. After few mins, Bechamel sauce thickens slightly. Then, grate 1/8 tsp of fresh Nutmeg pd over it, mix and take the pan off the heat. Pour it on the veggies when it cools a bit and bake the gratin.

Delicious Gratin is ready, it smells so good! :)
"Cauliflower" is the choice for JFI, which is being hosted by Mythreyee of "Paajaka" blog, an event which is started by Indira of "Mahanandi" blog. My mixed vegetable including Cauliflower, savory Pudding goes to Mythreyee for her event.

Jayasree of "experiments in Kailas kitchen" blog is guest hosting "MEC-Microwaved Puddings" this month. MEC event is originally Srivalli of "cooking for all seasons" idea. I cooked this savory vegetable pudding in the microwave, so this is for you too, Jaya.
Thanks to all of you girls, enjoy! :))

Microwaved mixed vegetable including Cauliflower savory Pudding:
Puddings usually have egg and milk mixture poured into and baked with vegetables and bread pieces. Since both of event entries need to be strictly vegetarian, I have replaced eggs with cornstarch and baked in the microwave.
If eggs are okay with you, add 2-3 eggs to milk along with herbs to get fluffy, spongy pudding. I had baked a sweet Persimmon pudding few weeks ago, so I went for savory pudding this time, can't handle too much sweet again. Hope you like it! :))

Microwaved savory mixed vegetable and bread pudding:
"Pudding most often refers to a dessert, but can also be a savory dish. The word pudding probably comes from the French boudin, originally from the Latin botellus, meaning "small sausage," referring to encased meats used in Medieval European puddings. In the United Kingdom and in some countries, pudding is a common term for any dessert". Info from WIKIPEDIA.

To make the savory pudding: Click on the collage to see the ingredients.
I used 2 1/2 small bags frozen mixed vegetables including Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrots, Celery, Endamame, Water chestnuts, peas etc.
10 oz pack of all natural chunky and savory garlic and herb Croutons. You can use bread slices too but ready herbed garlic croutons are better.
For the sauce: take 2-3 cups of milk, (enough to drown the bread and veggies!), 2 tsp Cornstarch, 1 tsp dry herbs, 1/2 tsp Garlic pd, 1/2 tsp onion powder, salt, red chilli flakes and pepper to taste. Mix all these well.
(If adding eggs which is used in making traditional pudding, add 2 eggs and beat this mixture)

To bake or microwave:
1. If you are baking this pudding in the oven, you can saute all the veggies in 1 tbsp butter until halfway cooked and golden.
Since I microwaved it, I added 1 tbsp butter to a dish with frozen vegetables, few pinches of salt, covered and microwaved it for 10-15mins on high or until veggies are fork tender.
2. Drain any water remaining, let the veggies cool a bit. Mix the sauce again and keep it ready.
3. In a microwaveable dish, add half of the Croutons on the bottom, spread all the veggies on top and cover with Croutons again.
4. Slowly pour the liquid sauce on the bread and veggies. Then press the top gently until Croutons are wet and soaked.
If you are baking this, bake at 350F for 30 mins or so, until crust is golden.
5. Now, put this dish in the Microwave, heat this on 100% power for 10 to 20 mins ot until you don't see liquid anymore on the bottom. Cornstarch and soaked bread makes the sauce thick and pudding is scoopbale once it's done.
Do not add too much milk which can overflow in the MW, pause the MW if you see the liquid come up and start again. Serve the pudding while it's warm with a salad.

Enjoy all the yummy vegetable dishes, see you all on Friday here again! :)

February 6, 2009

Panchratani Palak Dal, Raw Jackfruit and Chana Ghashi

My Panchratani Palak dal and raw Jackfruit-Chana Ghashi, both go to Susan of "the well seasoned cook" blog who is hosting a wonderful, protein packed event called "My Legume love affair-8th helping".

My raw Jackfruit-Chana Ghashi goes to Lakshmi G of Taste of Mysore" blog who is guest hosting "AFAM-Jackfruit" event this month, which is originally launched by Maheswari.

Thanks to all of you for hosting and taking time to organize these yummy round ups too! :))

Gravy with five gems and Popeye's favorite!! ;D
This protein packed dish comes from Punjab (Punj=five, aab=River), a state with five rivers flowing through it in India, which is well known for it's earthy cuisine, robust people and their generosity to guests. Panch in Hindi is five and Ratan means gems. In this case, it means a dish made of five different dals or legumes, which makes it a nutritional powerhouse. I have posted a Panchmel dal before at my Foodie's Hope blog, which is little different from this dish.
Palak is my addition to this traditional Punjabi dish, which is Spinach providing loads of iron to us. With aromatic ginger, garlic and spices, there is no better way to enjoy this dal with some Cumin flavored rice or with Bajri rotis or soft, layered Parathas!

Panchratani Palak Dal:

You need:
1/4 cup Tuar/Toor dal,

1/4 cup Chana dal,
1/4 cup Moong dal,
1/4 cup Masoor dal,
1/4 cup Urad dal.

or any five of your favorite dal, whole or split will do too! Just five dals remember, for "Panchratan"! You add one more dal to this dish and I will hunt you down! Hahaha!!

Need these too:
1 8 oz frozen Spinach or 2-4 cups of fresh Spinach, finely chopped,
1 tbsp oil,
1/2 large onion, finely chopped,
1 heaped tbsp of Coriander seeds powder,
1/4 tsp Turmeric,
1 large Tomato, chopped or 1/4 cup canned Tomato sauce,
2 tbsp sour cream or cream, beaten well,
enough salt and chilli pd to taste.

For the final seasoning to top the dal:
3 tbsp butter or ghee (to be authentic but can use less oil),
1 tsp regular cumin seeds or shah jeera if you have it,
1/2 onion, sliced finely,(fry until golden, then add ginger-garlic)
2" grated ginger,
2 garlic, minced,
1/2 tsp chilli powder or paprika, just for color.

To garnish:
4 tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped.
1 tsp good quality Garam Masala or homemade Punjabi Garam masala.

Five dals to use:
Click to see the larger photo with names on each dal. It's helpful for somebody who is a novice in Indian cooking and helps to visually see the five dals I have used.

To make the dal:
1. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and add chopped onion and fry until soft. Add all the dals and saute for a minute. Add Tomato or Tomato sauce, stir for a while until thick.
2. Add turmeric, salt, coriander seeds powder and Chilli powder and add Spinach along with 3 cups of water.
3. Cover the lid and pressure for 1 or 2 whistles with weight on or until dal is cooked well. Open the lid when pressure is gone, stir to mix. Adjust spices, add beaten sour cream or cream to mix and simmer very gently for a while.
Gravy should be thick enough to scoop with a spoon but not too thin like soup or very thick or lumpy. Turn off the heat.
4. Finally, heat butter and add all the seasoning ingredients one by one in that order, fry until oil shows up on top. Do not burn any ingredient.
5. Add this to the dal and mix well. Garnish with Cilantro and garam masala. Mix again.

Dal tastes better the next day, excellent with rice or layered Parathas or Bajri roti.

Raw Jackfruit(Halasina kayi) and Brown Chana Ghashi:

My mother always called this Ghasi rather than Ghashi, don't know why but I want to play safe here and call it Ghashi too as Konkanis call it, as this is originally a Konkan dish (coastal people of Karnataka and from few other states in India).
Here is my..err..my mom's version of Ghasi/Ghashi with canned raw Jackfruit (I know, I know! But hey, don't blame me! I live in US of A! Don't have any Jackfruit tree in my backyard here like my grandparents have in India! :D) and brown Chana, both my favorites. Enjoy! :))

You need:
2 cans of raw Jackfruit pieces,drained and cut into smaller pieces,
1 cup red/brown Chana, soaked overnight and pressure cooked until soft with 2-3 cups of water,
enough salt.
Masala to be ground: (roast these spices first, without oil)
1 tbsp Coriander seeds,
few peppercorns,
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds,
2-4 dry red chillies,
1 tsp Cumin seeds.
Grind the above spices with these with some water:
1/4 cup fresh coconut,
few curry leaves,
1/2 tsp thick paste of Tamarind,
1/4 tsp Turmeric.
until very smooth and keep aside.

For seasoning:
2 tbsp oil+ghee,
1/2 tsp mustard seeds,
few curry leaves,
1 small onion, chopped finely,
2-3 garlic, chopped, (optional but for a pakka Lingayat, it's a must! :P).

To make Ghashi:
1. Heat oil+ghee in a deep dish, add mustard, curry leaves and onion. When the onion is reddish, add garlic and stir for a minute.
2. Add cooked chana with it's water (don't make it too thin), and drained Jackfruit. Cook on medium heat for 6-10 mins. Canned Jackfruit is already soft, so it just have cook a little to make the raw taste go away. Adjust the salt.
3. After cooking for a while, turn down the heat to simmer, let the gravy cool a bit so when ground coconut is added, it doesn't split to make the gravy thin.
4. When it's cooler, add ground masala to this gravy, stir well to mix it all and let it simmer for 10 mons or so or until raw coconut smell goes and you see the it 's bubbling slowly.

That's it, beautiful tasting Ghasi/Ghashi is ready. As usual, it always tastes better the next day!

PS: What I do with the everyday gravy or Sambhar normally is after it's cooked completely on the stove top, I will let it cool down. Then, I will transfer the gravy to a microwaveable dish and reheat the gravy for 10 mins or more on high or 100% power. That makes the gravy thicker and the oil shows on top quicker than the stove top cooking for hrs and also I don't have to fear that ground masala with coconut or yogurt is going to split if it gets too hot. Somehow it works for me this way!

Have a great weekend! :))

February 3, 2009

Carrot-Fennel-Walnut Cake with Orange cream cheese frosting

My Carrot cake flavored with Orange juice, Fennel seeds and Walnuts goes to Ivy of "Kopiaste" blog who is guest hosting the event "Think Spice..Think..Twice", which is started by Sunita of "Sunita's World". Ivy has given 2 choices to us this month; Mastic Gum and Fennel, I have chosen the aromatic Fennel seeds in my cake.

Orange flavored Carrot cake also goes to Aparna of "My diverse Kitchen" blog who is guest hosting Harini of "Tongue Ticklers" blog's "Food in Colors-Orange" event.

Carrot cake studded with Walnuts goes to Aqua Daze of "Served with Love" blog's event "Let's go Nuts: Walnuts or Pecans" with my choice of Walnuts.

Made a Heart out of my Carrot cake, so this will go to Bindiya of "In love with food" blog's event "My favorite things-Love is in the air (Heart shaped food)".

Enjoy the cake and I thank all of you for taking time to host and rounding up all the yummy goodies! :))

Well.. Let's see how it all started! I always loved Carrot cake and I made a quick bread Carrot cake before which is delicious but not as moist as "made in the bakery" kind. So I surfed the web and came across a recipe from my kids' and my favorite scientific, educational and very entertaining Food Network chef Alton Brown's Carrot Cake which I adapted here for the most part but made some changes, which is why I posting the recipe the way I made it instead of just linking the original recipe. Instead of Allspice and Cinnamon in his recipe, I added freshly ground Fennel seeds, added some Walnuts and Raisins since I love the nutty crunch and yogurt is replaced by Orange juice. It came out moist and delicious!

A slice of Carrot Cake with Orange juice, Fennel and Walnuts:

Carrot Cake:

Here is how to bake Carrot cake:
For the cake, you need:
One 9" square pan, buttered or no-stick sprayed inside and the bottom of the pan lined with wax or parchment paper.

Sift all these dry ingredients together:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or wheat flour if you prefer,
1 tsp baking soda,
2 or 3 tsp freshly ground Fennel seeds,
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg,
1 tsp baking powder,
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Then add these to the above flour mix and mix gently until these are coated with flour:
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots, about 3 large,
1/4 cup chopped Walnuts,
3 tbsp Raisins.

Blend these liquid ingredients to cream first:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar,
2 large eggs, (or 4 tbsp Apple sauce)
1 cup white sugar,
1/2 cup vegetable oil,
1/4 cup Orange juice.

For Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8 oz package of Cream Cheese, softend at room tempature,
1 to 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, (or as sweet as you want),
2-4 tbsp Orange juice,
1/2 tsp Vanilla essence or Orange essence,
few drops of Orange color(Optional).

Beat all the above frosting ingredients together well until creamy and chill in the fridge for 10 mins or so, keep aside for later use.

To bake:

Preheat the oven for 350F.

1. In a blender bowl with flat beater attached, add eggs, sugar, oil, Orange juice and blend until creamy.
2. Add dry ingredients sifted together with Carrots etc and run the blender very gently until they are all just mixed without lumps or flour showing. Do not mix too much.
3. Scrape and pour in to the prepared baking pan, tap the pan on the counter gently to release the bubbles.
4. Bake in the oven for 35-45 mins or until the center is cooked ie when tested with a wooden skewer, it comes out clean.
5. Cool on a rack for 10 mins, invert on a plate and frost as you like it. Make sure you wait until the cake is cooled completely. Garnish with grated carrots and walnuts.

Tastes better the next day. You can keep it chilled in the fridge to serve or at room temperature.

One more look of a delicious slice:

You can make Carrot cake Heart for your Valentine too. Happy Valentine's day to all of you!! :)

Have a fun week! :))