Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blogging Break

Taking a small break.
Will be back in a couple of weeks with recipes from my Aai's kitchen in Pune and SIL's kitchen in Jharkhand.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sunshine Salad (aka Yellow Beet Salad)

The moment I saw these yellow beets, I knew my 'Y' was taken care of.
That is my entry for 'Y is for ...' of Nupur's A-Z of Indian Vegetables .
The red/purple colour of beets is due to a combination of betacyanin (a purple pigment)and called betaxanthin (a yellow pigment). The yellow beet have more betaxanthin and less of betacyanin.
Besides being slightly sweet, the best thing about yellow beets is that they don't bleed any colour like the red beets. They taste much like regular beets; maybe just a tad sweeter.

2-3 cooked yellow beets, cubed (I microwaved the beets, which turned out to be a bad idea as they started blackening in a while. Next time I'll be cooking them in the pressure cooker.)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
handful of chopped cilantro
1 (or more) jalapeno, finely chopped
¼ cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
salt, to taste
juice of ½ lemon (or more)

Mix all ingredients.
Adjust the salt and lemon juice as per your taste.
Cover and let it rest for about an hour.

Serve as a salad to accompany your usual meal or mix with a couple of cups of cooked pasta to make a wonderful summery one-dish meal.

This is my entry for Nupur's A-Z of Indian Vegetables food blog event.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Homemade Granola

If you like granola but hate the expensive, sweet, preservative laden grocery store varieties, read on.
This granola is based on a recipe I found online but I've tweaked it so much that it bears no resemblance to the original.

I started making this granola around the time I started reading food labels and started worrying about preservatives, trans fats, corn syrup etc being in the foods we consumed. I figured at least I know exactly what went into our breakfast.

Though this granola doesn't have any preservatives and not much fat, it is fairly high in calories. What with all the nuts and dried fruits.

This granola is supposed to have a shelf life of about two weeks but it is gone within a week. So I have never been able to verify that claim.

Variations: Too many to list.
By just changing the nuts and dried fruits and the proportions in which they are used, you can create so many versions of this granola.
Substitute the honey with maple syrup for a completely different taste.
Use nutmeg instead of cinnamon for an interesting twist.

Though we usually have this granola for breakfast, the kids like to munch on it as a snack, or use it as a topping for ice-cream.

6 cups rolled oats
1.5 cups chopped nuts (I usually use almonds and walnuts)
1 cup dried fruit ( I like to add black raisins, golden raisins, cranberries, and apricots)
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup honey (1 cup to make it extra sweet)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup wheat germ
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp flax seeds or flax seed meal (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine the oats, nuts, cinnamon, salt, and wheat germ. Mix well.
In a large wok or pot, heat the oil over low heat and add the honey. Mix well.
Add the oat mixture and toss well making sure the oil-honey mixture coats as much of the oat mixture as possible.
Divide the mixture onto two baking sheets. Spread well.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, stirring the oats every 7-8 minutes. If you prefer a lighter coloured granola, reduce the baking time by about 5-6 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir in the dried fruit and flax seeds (if using).
Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

This is my entry for WeekendBreakfastBlogging#13: Oats, hosted this month by Madhuli of My Foodcourt.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Me-Me & a Divine Flower

My first me-me (clap-clap). I was beyond thrilled when Richa tagged me. But when I started thinking about random facts about myself, I hit a huge speed breaker.

Anyway, here are some random facts about me:
1. I don't like ice-cream. Don't hate it but don't enjoy it much either.
At times, I'll taste an unusual flavour but rarely will I have an entire serving or scoop.
2. I can have bhel-puri for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
3. Once while riding my bike to school (8th grade) I met with an accident. Nothing major, no broken bones etc. but the doctor did mention that for a split-second my 'brain had moved'! My family has been milking this ever since.
4. My kitchen is my domain. I just hate hate hate anyone intruding. My mother and MIL are the only ones to whom I've handed over my kitchen.
5. My husband describes my dress sense (style?) as mix & mis-match (instead of mix & match). He exaggerates, just slightly. It is true that I can't wear salwar-kameez where the dupatta matches the kurta which matches the salwar...ugh. Boring.
Even though all the three pieces don't have to be in the same colour, texture, or all goes together in my mis-matched it is not. Fabindia rocks!
6. I very regularly wear mismatched earrings. Not to make a statement (stylistic or otherwise), but because I feel like it.
7. I've always wanted to take pottery classes. A few months ago, I finally did. Only to realise that it is not for me. At least I got one item ticked-off from my to-do list. Check out some mementos from my class here and here.
I'd like to tag Dhana, Dr. Bhat, and Evolving Tastes. Though you don't have to play along, I sincerely hope you do.

Divine Flower
Now on to the divine flower. Last week, a bud of my mother's favourite flower, Bramha Kamal (Epiphylum Oxypetallum) was ready to bloom. This flower starts blooming in the late evening and blooms fully at midnight. A few hours after midnight it virtually collapses back into a bud-like state.
Here are some pictures I took. Let me warn you that the pictures do no justice to the beauty of this flower. Also don't pay any attention to the timestamp on the photos; the kids were playing with the date and time settings. Grr.

This photo was taken around 10pm.

This photo was taken around midnight.

Monday, July 16, 2007

X = Lamb's Quarters

Lamb's quarters a.k.a goosefoot, pigweed, and fat hen. So many names and each one more glamorous and appetising than the previous one. As if this wasn't enough, this edible weed thrives on muck.
But since I was on the look out for something unusual, something I hadn't used before for Nupur's A-Z event, I wasn't going to let anything get in the way of trying this green.
More on this weed here and here.

Lamb's quarters can be eaten raw, but the taste and rough texture just did not appeal to me.
They had to be cooked. I could've taken the easy way out and used them to make daal. Nah, too boring and predictable.
Since I am in a major bread making phase, it didn't take me long to figure out how I'd use the lamb's quarters: whole wheat buns stuffed with seasoned lamb's quarters!
On a whim I used pav bhaaji masala instead of garam masala. So glad I did that. The pav bhaaji masala worked really well here.
The buns were delicious, just delicious!
I like the idea of making such stuffed buns, the possibilities are endless.

whole wheat bread dough, divided into 12 pieces
4 cups lamb's quarters, finely chopped
1 carrot, shredded (optional. I used this only for the colour contrast.)
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbps pav bhaaji masala
1 tbsp oil
salt and lemon juice, to taste

Make the filling:
Heat the oil, first add the pav bhaaji masala and then the lamb's quarters.
Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the salt, lemon juice, carrots, and cilantro and mix well. Turn off the heat.
After the mixture cools slightly, taste it and adjust the salt and lemon accordingly.

Make the buns:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Roll each piece of dough into a roughly circular shape, the size of your palm.
Put about 2 tbsp of the filling on the dough and fold the edges to cover the dough and press slightly.
Place the bun, fold side down in a 13x9 pan.
Prepare the rest of the buns in the same manner.
Cover the buns with a moist kitchen towel. Let them rest for 10-15 minutes.
Brush the buns with a bit of melted butter.
Bake the buns on a pizza stone or in the pan, about 15 minutes.

This is my entry for Nupur's A-Z of Indian Vegetables food blog event.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wild Arugula-Batata Bhaaji

Wild arugula has a much stronger flavour than regular arugula.
Regular arugula is pretty bitter to begin with and even for most adults, it is an acquired taste.
In other words, there was no way the kids would've eaten it as-is.
To reduce the bitterness I combined equal parts of spinach and wild arugula to make this bhaaji.
It was delicious!
The bitterness was noted, acknowledged, and (surprisingly) appreciated by all.
I'm definitely going to make this again, and again....

The potatoes play a supporting role in this dish, the wild arugula is the real star.

2 cups wild arugula, washed & chopped
2 cups spinach, washed & chopped
10-15 small potatoes (Halve the smaller ones and quarter the slightly larger ones)
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
4-5 heads of spring onions (or 1 small onion), thinly sliced
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste (optional)
1 jalapeno, minced
salt, to taste
lemon juice

Heat oil, add the mustard seeds and when they start spluttering add the jalapeno and onions.
Saute on low heat till the onions start browning.
Add the ginger-garlic paste, if using.
Add the potatoes and give them a good stir.
Put the lid on and let them cook. If they start to stick to the pan, add a bit of water.
When the potatoes are almost cooked, add the wild arugula, spinach, salt, and the lime juice. Stir well.
Continue cooking till the arugula and spinach wilt.
Adjust the salt as required.

Serve with phulkas/ rotis/chapatis/pita or rice.

This is my entry for Nupur's A-Z of Indian Vegetables food blog event.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Whole-Wheat Flour & Vital Wheat Gluten

A recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine had a recipe for whole wheat pizza dough that used vital wheat gluten. The recipe called for only whole wheat flour (wwf). Usually I substitute part of wwf with either all purpose flour, bread flour, or even pastry flour.
Without these substitutions, the bread turns out rather dense; though it taste great.
So the idea of using only wwf with wheat gluten was something I just had to try.

I added the gluten to my usual recipe for flat bread.
The outcome was outstanding!
The texture was just amazing; soft and spongy similar to the bread made using all purpose flour.
I'm totally sold on the idea of using wheat gluten with wwf.

Whole Wheat Flat Bread
You can also use this versatile dough to make pizza dough, buns, or foccacia-style bread.

3 cups 100% whole wheat flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 packet active yeast
3 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1 - 1.5 cups warm water (about 100F)

Into a food processor bowl add all the dry ingredients.
With the motor running, first add the oil and then the water. It helps if you add the water in small amounts, literally let it trickle in.
You may need to push down any ingredients that may stick to the sides of a bowl.
Run the food processor till the dough all comes together and moves around as one entity.

Now comes the fun part. (Though I try not to dwell on the manipulative p/a characters in my life, this is one occasion where thinking of them is actually beneficial.) Transfer the dough to a work area and for the next couple of minutes, think of the *%$#@ personalities while kneading the dough! Yeah! Keep kneading till you get a soft and smooth dough.

This kneading achieves a dual purpose; first it distributes the yeast while incorporating air into the dough which improves the texture of the bread and second, it cleanses your mind by providing a wonderful egress channel for any suppressed (-)ve thought(s).

Transfer the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a wet towel and place it in a warm place.

The dough will double in about 2-3 hours.
At this point you could punch down the dough and let it rise once more, but I'm usually so impatient that I skip this step.

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Gently knead the dough once more. Spread the dough in a lightly oiled 13x9 pan. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle some salt.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes (time will vary for each oven) till the bread is brownish-reddish.

Remove from the oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes.

We enjoyed this bread with some soup.
The next day, we split the bread and used it for sandwiches.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Guchhi Te Paneer & Punjabi Lobhia

Surili's (Musical) guchhi te paneer di sabzi has been on my must-try list for sometime now. Last week I finally got around to making it.
I followed her recipe (using fresh button mushrooms) without any changes or substitutions.
The paneer dish turned out finger-lickin good. In spite of the many spices that went into making it, the result was a dish that had a clean honest taste to it. All the spices blended in perfect harmony. Loved it!

Next, I made Punjabi style black-eyed peas (lobhia) based on a recipe from Madhur Jaffery's A Taste Of India.
To this recipe, I made several substitutions. One significant change was that I added a couple of handfuls of chopped spinach. I was out of garlic cloves but had freshly made ginger-garlic paste, that was used instead. Used amchur instead of yogurt.
This dish seemed hearty to begin with, but the addition of spinach made it heartier!
It was delicious, simply delicious!

We enjoyed the paneer and black-eyed peas with fresh phulkas and a simple salad of sliced tomatoes sprinkled with kala-namak (black salt).

Here is the recipe for punjabi black-eyed peas with my modifications

2 cups black-eyed peas (lobhia), soaked in water for a couple of hours
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp oil (or ghee
1 tsp cumin-coriander powder
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tbsp amchur
1 tsp (or more)chili powder
salt, to taste
4-5 stalks cilantro, finely chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped

Cook the beans in a pressure cooker (one whistle only).
Heat oil, add the onions and fry them till they start turning brown.
Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for another minute.
Add the cumin-coriander powder, cook for another minute.
Add the tomatoes, cook till they turn soft, 2-3 minutes.
Add the amchur, beans (with the liquid), chili powder, spinach, and salt.
Mix well and let it simmer over low heat for 6-7 minutes.
Taste and adjust the salt and amchur accordingly.
Sprinkle the cilantro before serving.

This is my entry for Regional Cuisines of India-June: Punjabi Food event hosted by Richa.
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