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Monday, August 31, 2009


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.

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


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.

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.


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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.