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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shrikhand (Sweet Yogurt)

A wonderful dessert and simple to make too! Shrikhand is a yogurt dessert. It has minimal ingredients and requires no cooking. It can be made well in advance. In fact it tastes much better when the flavors have had a chance to marry. This is a popular dessert made in Western India, specially in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The recipe that follows is the basic Shrikhand recipe. You can very easily change an ingredient to make this into Amrakhand.




Ingredients
2 - 3 cups of yogurt
1 cup powdered sugar
4-5 strands of saffron
1-1.5 tbsp mix  of sliced blanched almond and pistachio
1 pinch of powdered cardamom
1/8 tsp water or milk




Method
Tie up the yogurt in a fine cotton cloth/cheese cloth and hang it overnight or about 6-8 hours to drain the liquid part of the yogurt.  The yogurt should be as dry as possible so that it doesnt become runny when you add the sugar. Once all the water is drained, it will come together in a ball. The resultant yogurt volume will be about 1 to 1.5 cups of drained yogurt. To this add the sugar.  The sugar will get assimilated immediately. Soak the strands of saffron in about 1/8th tsp of milk and add this to the yogurt sugar mix. Add the nuts and cardamom powder. Stir everything together and refrigerate. Serve cold. Enjoy with chapati/puri or just on its own.

Tips
There is a lot of water in yogurt and you should be prepared that the remaining volume will be half of what you started out with. So be careful with your estimations. Use powdered sugar so that a lot of heat is not generated when you mix the it together with the yogurt. The powdered sugar will melt into the yogurt immediately. If granulated sugar is used, it will take a while to dissolve the sugar and will make the shrikhand runny or watery.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monthly Mingle

My First Monthly Mingle Submission!

This is my first entry to a monthly mingle. Looking forward to participating. I am going to submit my Sol Kadhi recipe. I think it fits the brunch theme very well.

I am not sure how it works, but as they say, there's a first time to everything!! And it sure sounds like a lot of fun.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sol Kadhi

"A Konkani delicacy", is how I was introduced to this dish. This is made in the Kokan region of Maharashtra in India. It has ingredients found in the region, namely coconut. Traditionally the coconut is scraped and then milk is extracted from the coconut. Since that it quite a tedious process, the dish is not frequently made and earns the title of a delicacy. I actually drank it only once in India and had not liked it then. It was store bought and very likely stale.
The first time I had it in the US, I loved it. It has a slightly sour taste and the creaminess of the milk balances this perfectly. The garlic pieces and chilles add the perfect bite to this. Now it may be a tedious dish to make from scratch, but if you can buy canned coconut milk, this is a great appetizer which can be made in under 30 minutes.







Ingredients
1 can coconut milk
3-4 kokan/amsul pieces
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 tsps clarified butter
4-5 curry leaves (kadhi patta)
1/8 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1-2 green chillies to taste
salt to taste
approximately 2 cups water


Method
Soak the amsul/kokam in 1 cup of warm water. Keep it aside. In a pot pour the coconut milk. Add 1 cup of water to the coconut milk, and stir. To this add the kokam extract water. In another small pan, heat ghee. To this add the cumin seeds. Once they start to pop, add the curry leaves, garlic and chillies. Take it off the heat once the garlic is golden brown. Cool the ghee mixture to room temperature. Add this to the coconut milk with the kokam. Stir. Add salt to taste. Heat this till it boils. Serve warm or cold per your taste. Makes a great soup and an appetizer.

Tips
Cut the garlic into small pieces that you would like to chew on while drinking the soup/kadhi. Make sure that the ghee has cooled down else the solids and water will separate. Do not substitute ghee with oil.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My other passion

I have started a new blog to pen down my other passion - Jewelry. Hope you enjoy reading it as well.

http://thejewellerydesigner.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 28, 2009

Refreshing and cool Jicama salad

When I was in Grad school, I used to take the bus from the campus back home. While waiting at the bus stop, I used to frequently enjoy a "fruit plate". There was a road side stall and the vendor used to cut up different fruits and vegetables like mango, melons, pineapple, cucumber and an interesting tasting white color melon like fruit/vegetable. The fruit that intrigued me the most was this white color fruit. It was later while watching a cooking show that I realised that the white color fruit was Jicama. Now this has a crunchy texture and reminds me of a potato, but it is not like a potato. It doesn't have a specific taste and may taste a bit starchy. It seems to have a good water content, not sure if this is the case but it seems like a cross between a melon and a potato. I decided to use it in a salad which reminded me of the good old grad school days.



Ingredients
For the Salad
1 small Jicama, peeled and chopped into thin strips about 1 inch long
half head of an Iceberg lettuce, roughly chooped into similar strips
half a red onion chopped length wise into half moon shaped slices.

For the dressing
1 tsp Olive oil (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp cilantro leaves finely chopped
salt to taste
pepper to taste
a little cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1/4 tsp cumin powder



Method
Mix the salad ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl mix all the ingredients listed under dressing and mix it thoroughly. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it together.
Let it sit for half and hour in the refrigerator so that the flavors are absorbed by the vegetables.
Enjoy with some soup or as a side dish.

Tips
Olive oil creates an emulsion and helps the salad to stick to the salad.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Modak

This year for Ganesh Chaturthi, I thought that I would try "Ukadiche modak". This is a steamed dumpling made with sweet coconut stuffing inside it. It turned out quite well. I didn't have fresh coconut, but my family enjoyed it a lot. It is a Maharashtrian delicacy and you make 21 modaks as an offering to Lord Ganesha.





Ingredients
For the outer cover/dough
2 cups rice flour
2 cups water
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 pinch saffron (optional) - this will give a nice light yellow color to the dough

For the stuffing
2 cups coconut (fresh/ dry)
1 cup jaggery - powdered/grated




Method

The stuffing
Make the stuffing first, so that it can cool down while you work on the dough. Heat the coconut and jaggery, till the jaggery melts and the mixture comes together. When you roll it it should not fall apart. Do not over cook it and dry it out.



The outer cover
Bring the water to a rolling boil. To this add salt, ghee and saffron. Stir in the rice flour. Turn off the heat and cover. Keep this covered for 4-5 minutes. Let this mixture sit till it is warm enough to handle and knead it to smooth out any lumps till the mixture starts to look glossy.



To assemble the modak
Take about a 2X2 inch piece of the rice dough. Roll it into a ball. Then using your hands, start flattening it out evenly into a round disk. Try to make it as thin as possible withot breaking it. The disk should be about 1/4 -1/2 centimeter thick and will be about 3 inches in diameter. Place a heaped teaspoon of the stuffing. Shape your palm like a cup to ensure that the stuffing doesnt spread. Start gathering the ends of the disk and bring them all togehter in a point. See the photo above for the final shape of this dumpling. This takes a little practice, so don't be disheartened if you don't get it right the first time.
Make a batch of 5-10 modaks (depending on the size of your pressure cooker/steamer) and steam them for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy the modak with a dollop of ghee.




Tips
You can omit the saffron to retain the white color of the cover. Use a food processor to knead the hot mixture. If you live in a dry climate cover the dough with a wet cloth and also the modak while you create your batch before steaming. The dough is sticky and you should apply a little oil or ghee to your hand as you make the modak, so that the dough doesn't stick to your hand.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Collard Greens

Its been a while since I posted a new recipe. I have been busy and a bit lazy too. Well I have been searching for different leafy green vegetable recipes since currently I can only think of spinach as an option other than lettuce. I remembered enjoying the collard green dish at an Ethiopian restaurant and I decided to recreate that dish. The result came pretty close to the original, and I was very happy with the result.



Ingredients

1 bunch- Collard greens, remove the thick woody stems and veins - chiffonade cut (roll up the leaves together and then slice thinly to get ribbons)
1 inch - cinnamon stick
2-3 cloves
2-3 green cardamom pods
1-2 red chillies
2 garlic cloves - finely diced
1/2 inch ginger - finely grated
1 yellow onion - diced
1/2 tomato - diced
1 tbsp - canola oil
1-2 tbsp water
salt to taste

Method
Heat the oil. To this add the cloves, cardamom, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and red chillies. Fry this for a couple of minutes. Then to this add the onion. Fry this till it is transparent and then add the tomato. Let the tomato cook for 5-6 minutes. Stir the mixture while it cooks. Once the tomato looks cooked, add the collard greens, stir it and add the water. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Collard greens is a tough vegetable and takes a while to cook through.

Tips
I use the taste test to determine if it is cooked through. The texture should not be chewy. The final dish looks wilted and tastes great. I made Uttapa to eat it with and it is as close I can get to the Ethiopian restaurant experience without the "Injera" bread. Great to eat as a side dish or enjoy with some hot chapatis.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tofu Stir Fry

This is a complete dish in itself, proteins, vegetables and with a side of brown rice, healthy carbs. I like this a lot. Its quick, easy and if you have been following my blog, then quick and easy is a theme in most of my posts. I try to find a variety of dishes which I can cook during the week which are flavorful but quick to make. I end up making tofu stir fry at least once in 10 days if not once a week and always keep a packet of tofu in my fridge.


I experiment with different ingredients for sauces, here's one of the versions. Its a spicy sauce.



Ingredients
For the sauce
2 tsp oil - canola or vegetable or sesame
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1 tbsp corn flour
3/4 - 1 cup water
red chilli flakes - to taste
1 tsp vinegar (white/ rice)
1/2 cup orange juice or alternately 1 freshly squeezed orange

For the stir fry
2 tsp oil to fry tofu
2 tsp oil for the stir fry
1 packet extra firm tofu - chop this into bite sized cubes
5-6 scallions - diced, use the onion and the greens
1/2 red/yellow/orange bell pepper (capsicum) - finely diced
1 shredded carrot
1 cup spinach leaves
1 cup diced celery
ground peanuts for garnish



Method
For the sauce, make a slurry of the corn flour and water. To this add the soy sauce and vinegar. Heat the oil, to this add garlic. Cook the garlic without burning it. This process generally takes a few seconds depending on how hot the oil is. Add the slurry prepared earlier to this and stir. Add the orange juice and the red chilli flakes. My husband prefers a spicy sauce, so I generally add a generous amount of flakes. Cook this for a few minutes till the sauce becomes transparent. This is the indication that the sauce is cooked through.

In another pan, heat the oil. To this add the tofu. Stir this around and let the tofu sides brown a little. Cook it depending on how you like your tofu. See tips for suggestions. Remove the tofu and set aside. Heat the oil reserved for the stir fry. Turn the heat to high. To this add the celery, let it cook for a couple of minutes. To this add the carrots and bell peppers. Cook this for another couple of minutes. Add the scallions, cook for another minute and add the spinach. Cook the spinach till the leaves wilt. Finally add the tofu to this vegetable mixture. Add this to the sauce you cooked previously. Or pour the sauce into this mixture. Let the stir fry cook with the sauce for a minute and serve. Garnish with the ground peanuts. You have a healthy, tasty meal ready to eat.

Tips
If you are working with tofu for the first time and like its soft texture, let it turn golden brown. If you are not fond of soft textures, then you can let the sides cook for a longer time. This will make the tofu slightly chewy. Serve with a brown rice. You can use 3/4 cup to 1 cup water depending on the quantity of sauce you want. If you want a drier stir fry, use less water. Sesame oil has a strong flavor and smell. If you haven't cooked with it earlier, it takes a while getting used to it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Almond Biscotti

I have been making biscottis quite often these days. These just seemed to me to be a healthier alternative to the cookie and a good snack. The only difficult part is to have enough patience to complete the double baking process. Biscotti is Italian for cookie/biscuit.




Ingredients
Dry ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sliced blanched almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Wet ingredients
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence/ pure vanilla extract



Method
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix together. In another bowl break the 3 eggs and whisk them. Add the vanilla essence and mix. Add this egg mixture to the dry ingredients slowly and mix. Once you have added half the egg mixture, add the almonds. The resultant dough is a bit sticky.

Shape the dough into 2 logs approximately 10 x 3 inches long. Bake these two logs at 350° F for about 40 minutes. The logs will be light brown in color. Take these out onto a cooling rack and let it cool down for 10 minutes. Once the logs have cooled down sufficiently to handle, cut these into biscottis to the desired size. Generally about 1 X 3 inches in size. Place these back onto your baking sheet and bake them for about 10-20 minutes in the oven at 350° F.
Let the biscottis cool and enjoy!

Tips
Don't overmix the dough. Mix it just enough so that all the ingredients come together. Coat your hands with a little flour to work with the sticky dough to avoid getting your hands messy. The longer you bake the biscotti during the second baking, the harder it will get. Cut the logs into biscottis using a serrated knife to minimize crumbling and resultant crumbs.
These taste great with a cup of milk or coffee.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Instant Rava Dosa

We enjoy South Indian food. I do find it tedious to have to pre-plan if I want to make Dosa though. I came back from work, and decided to make some sambhar. An idea struck and I thought why not try to make some kind of a Dosa. Of course I didn't have the time to soak urid dal and rice. So I decided to use some rice flour instead. To balance the stickiness of the rice, I added rava/sooji. This surprisingly tasted very similar to the authentic rava dosa.



Ingredients
2 cups - Rice Flour
1/2 cup - fine rava/sooji
1/4 cup - yogurt
salt to taste
1-2 green chillies - cut finely to taste
water to make the batter
oil to make the dosa

Method
Mix all the ingredients together except the water and mix. Slowly add water to this mixture till you get a water consistency. It should flow easily when you pour it. Heat a griddle. Add some oil to the griddle once its hot. Pour a ladle of batter and spread it around. Cover the dosa, and let it cook. After cooking it for 2-3 minutes, test to see if the dosa will come off the pan easily. Once it has cooked sufficiently and is golden brown, flip it over. Cook it for another minute or so, add a little oil around the edges of the dosa. Serve with sambhar and chutney.


Tips
I generally tilt the pan or the griddle and move it around to spread the batter. This batter has a tendency to be sticky till it is cooked through, so its easier to spread by tilting the pan. The watery batter with the rava added to it creates a net pattern typical of a rava dosa.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

I love experimenting and trying out new foods. Ever since I saw couscous at my local farmer's market, I have been wanting to try it out. I finally bought all the ingredients and made the salad a couple of weeks ago. It turned out to be delightfully tasty, filling and was definitely a light fare. This is one recipe that I will definitely be making quite often.

Ingredients

For the couscous
2 cups of couscous
4 cups boiling water
salt to taste

For the dressing
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon - juice
1 lemon - zest
parsley - handful, finely chopped
salt to taste
pepper to taste

For the salad
Handful of Kalamata olives - cut vertically along the length and pitted.
1 tbsp capers
5 scallions/green onions - finely chopped - include the onion and the leaf
1 roasted bell pepper - red/orange/yellow - diced into small pieces
Feta cheese to taste
parsley leaves for garnish
Method
Cook the couscous according to package instructions. In the absence of such, use 1:2 (couscous:water) ratio. Boil the water, pour over the couscous, so that it is covered with water, cover the vessel. Let it stand for at least 15 minutes before uncovering. The water will be completely absorbed by the couscous. Add the salt and fluff the couscous with a fork, if there is some water, drain it.

To make the dressing, add all the ingredients listed and whisk them together to form an emulsion.

Add the chopped vegetables, feta cheese to the couscous, pour the dressing (to taste) over this mixture and fluff togehter. Serve and garnish with parsley leaves, feta cheese and an olive

Tips
Note that you are adding salt to the couscous as well as the dressing. Feta cheese, olives and capers also have a briny flavor and are quite salty. Adjust quantities to avoid making the dish salty. Use a fork and fluff the coucous while mixing it, so that you don't turn it to mush.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tricolor Chowmein

I have been meaning to put this recipe up for the past couple of weeks. Finally found the time to post it. This is an easy stir fry recipe and a real appetizing option for the busy days when you don't have much time to cook.


Ingredients
1 Onion - sliced finely
1 Carrot - shredded
1/2 Green chillies - finely diced
1 tbsp - oil
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
1 packet chinese noodles - cooked per the instructions on the packet
salt to taste

Method
Heat the oil in a wok. Add garlic to it, fry it for a minute. Add the chopped chillies and give it a quick fry. Add the onions. Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes. They should look a little transparent, but you dont want it to become soft. Also, make sure that you are cooking on high heat. To this add the shredded carrots. Again stir fry it for a couple of minutes. To this add the noodles and stir fry it. Add salt to your stir fry. Cook the dish for 3-4 minutes and serve. Add soy sauce to your liking and chili sauce if you want to make it spicier.




This is a great dish in itself. You can experiment with different vegetables. Cabbage, scallions, green beans also give it a great taste. You can make this dish with as few or as many veggies you like. A great side to this is scrambled eggs or a simple omlette.

Tips
The trick to making a stir fry is to cook the food as quickly as possible. So, keep the heat at a high temperature so that the cooking time is reduced. This keeps the vegetables crispy and also retains the colors of the vegetables.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Grilled Paneer Skewers

This is always a hit at our house. A great appetizer and a main course dish with a side of rice.



Ingredients:
For the marinade
2 teaspoons - ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon - corriander powder
to taste - red chilli powder
1/2 cup - yogurt
1/8 teaspoon - turmeric powder
to taste - salt
For the skewers
Paneer cut into cubes. Cut vegetables you want to grill into cubes similar in shape to the paneer.
Suggested veggies - Onions, bell pepper (red, yellow, orange, green). You can also use potatoes. However I would suggest that you cook the potato till it is 3/4th done and then cut into the cubes.

Method
Mix all the marinade ingredients. To this add the vegetables and the paneer to the marinade. Let it marinate for a couple of hours. The more time the better it will taste.
Soak the skewers in water for an hour. Arrange the vegetables and paneer on the skewer and proceed to grill. It takes about 5-7 minutes on each side. Keep moving the skewer to get an even golden color. Take care to not burn the paneer.
Tips
Spray some oil on the grill before arranging the skewers on the grill to avoid sticking and breaking of the paneer. Serve as an appetizer or serve with a side of rice pilaf and raita.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My First Post

I enjoy cooking and its a great way to relax and unwind. I am starting this site to share some of my recipes and tips. Hope you enjoy cooking them.

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