February 4, 2018

Inji Kara kuzhambu

How to make Inji Kara Kuzhambu (ginger in spicy tamarind sauce)


         On a cold rainy day, many of us crave for some spicy comfort food. This morning for us, started with snowflakes, later changed into sleet & then rain. So, I decided to make this recipe from my recipe diary ( a recipe noted from a TV show years ago). The lady mentioned that the recipe was originally from Pondicherry(Puducherry), located in the southern part of India.

        Serve it with hot steamed rice, and appalam/papad or chips and you have a zesty meal to make you feel warm & fuzzy on any given day. It is a spicy dish, so go easy & drizzle some sesame oil on your rice to make it even tastier.





Ingredients:

Servings: about 4

nalla ennai/sesame oil - 2 tbsp
poondu/garlic - 5 pods
perungayam/asafoetida powder- 1/4 Tsp
manja thool/turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Puli/Tamarind - 1" sized ball soaked in water & strained with minimum amount of water
vengaya vadagam - 1 tbsp
karivepilai/curry leaves - 1 sprig
salt to taste
vellam/jaggery - 1 tbsp, powdered (optional)
coriander leaves - optional


Ingredients for the masala:

nalla ennai/sesame oil - 2 Tsp

Group 1
milagu/black pepper - 1tsp
Jeerakam/cumin seeds - 1 tsp
milagai/dry red chilies - 5 no:s

Group 2
poondu/garlic - 5 pods
inji/ginger - about 2 inches, sliced

Stovetop method:

For the masala - 

  • Heat a pan/kadai with a tsp of sesame oil, add group one ingredients & saute in oil until crisp & aromatic. Transfer contents to the mixie/blender jar & let cool for a couple of minutes.
  • Reheat the pan, add group 2 ingredients & saute on medium-low heat until well roasted & soft.
  • Powder roasted group 1 ingredients finely & then add sauteed group 2 ingredients & run the mixer/blender for a couple of seconds to make a coarse paste.

To make the kuzhambu -

  • Heat oil in a kadai/pan, add asafoetida powder, vengaya vadagam & let it fry until crisp. Add few curry leaves & garlic pods - saute until garlic is golden brown & cooked soft.
  • Using a little water, wash the mixie/blender & add the ground masala to the kadai, pour the strained tamarind water, add turmeric powder, salt & jaggery(if using). Let simmer for a few minutes on low heat.

  • Check seasoning, drizzle some sesame oil on top and turn off the heat.
  • Serve with steamed rice & papad/chips. Can also be eaten with paruppu podi or Karivepillai podi.
Sharing this tangy recipe with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC Feb #53 -- Week 1.




December 24, 2017

Sugar Cookies

How to bake Sugar Cookies


             Sugar cookies are very appealing to the eye as it is the perfect base for frosting, sprinkles and other sweet decorations. Kids go for it anytime like their other all-time favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies Sugar cookies can be made with a cookie press or may be rolled and cut into shapes moreover, it is fun to decorate with kids either with icing or sparkling sugar. I have only used colored sugar here, you can also do some icing & decorations on top like I did on my Lime shortbread trees. The point is to have fun with your baking, this holiday season. Happy Holidays!!







Makes about 130 small cookies
(I only made half the quantity)

Ingredients:

3 & 2/3rd cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (I used white sugar)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Decorating Sugars

Optional Gadget - Cookie Press
(can also be made without the cookie press)








Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Put the flour, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon into a small mixing bowl, whisk to combine; set aside.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter & sugar. Using an electric beater, mix until light & fluffy. Mix in the vanilla & then the eggs, one at a time, until completely combined. Add the reserved dry ingredients & mix on low speed, until just combined.

  • At this point, you can divide the dough into two parts & add desired food color.

  • (OPTIONAL STEP) ONLY FOR COOKIE PRESS USERS - Assemble the cookie press with the desired disc. Load the cookie dough, just until the max fill line. Press cookie dough out onto a greased baking pan about 1 inch apart. You can add sparkling sugar sprinkles if you like at this point.

OR

  • FOR USERS NOT USING A COOKIE PRESS - Since the dough is made a little softer than usual, we need to dust it with some more flour to get the right consistency. Wrap in plastic & refrigerate for 3 hours. Lightly dust your work surface & roll out your dough about 1/4" thick & use your cookie cutters to cut out your favorite shapes. Lift the cut-out cookies using small spatulas or nylon spreaders and assemble on the baking sheet about 1" apart. You can add sparkling sugar sprinkles if you like at this point.

  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.

  • Cool cookies before removing from the pan & transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Important Notes:

  • For non-cookie press users - It is important that you dust it with some more flour to get the right manageable consistency. Wrap in plastic & refrigerate for a few hours before you work with the dough.


Sharing this recipe from my cookie press booklet with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC #52 December Week 4.




December 17, 2017

White Chocolate Shortbread (Eggless)

How to bake White Chocolate Shortbread



         Shortbread is supposed to be mild tasting and so tasty on its own is even more delicious with add-ins like chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips. You can also add chewy dried cranberries, but I had to skip cranberries upon request from my kids. Adding dried cranberries will enhance the sweetness in the recipe too. Glad to share this recipe (from a magazine clipping )with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC #52 December Week 3.







Makes about 35 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour (maida)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups confectioner's (icing) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4th cup, chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
OPTIONAL - 1/2 cup(75g) dried cranberries, coarsely chopped (I chose to skip this ingredient)




Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 F (170 C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift the flour, salt & cocoa powder into a bowl.
  • Beat the butter, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale & creamy. Stir in the flour mixture, cranberries (if using) & chocolate chips.
  • Use a spatula to mix all the ingredients in, until it forms a ball of cookie dough. Cover tightly & refrigerate for about 20 to 30 minutes until the butter hardens & the dough becomes easy to handle.
  • Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Use a fork to flatten slightly, & make an impression on the top. 
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through for even baking. Remove from oven  & let cool completely on the baking sheets & transfer to a wire rack.


Important Notes;

  • To achieve, a browner shortbread, add a total of 4 tbsp of cocoa powder instead of two. And you get a double chocolate shortbread.
  • The chilling of the dough prior to baking is a very important step so the dough will be less sticky & easier to handle.
  • After sharing a batch with a friend, I could only save (hide) it for a week, to check for freshness. My shortbreads stayed fresh for a week, in my pantry.

December 10, 2017

All-Time Favorite Cookies

All-Time Favorite Cookies 


 Here is a quick look at some favorite cookie recipes, all in one place just for you.





November 26, 2017

(Fresh) Methi Chaman Pulao

How to make restaurant style Methi Paneer Pulao


                This is one of chef Venkatesh Bhat's recipe that was aired maybe last year. I was so tempted by this recipe, I tried it within a few days & was amazed that it truly tasted like a fine dining restaurant dish. It is definitely a party/pot lock recipe with its richness & aromatic flavors. If you want to cut down on ghee, you can do so & still enjoy this pulao with all its flavors. But, please do try it out as mentioned in this recipe at least the first time, before you make changes to it in order to enjoy its full flavor. Sharing this with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC# 51: November Week 4. Do share your comments on how your family liked the pulao. 




Ingredients :

A) basmati rice (uncooked) - 1.5 cups
     methi / Fenugreek leaves (leaves only) 1 cup, tightly packed.
     onion 1 medium, sliced
     ghee - 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp
     oil - 2 tbsp
     saffron - 1 big pinch
     milk - 1/2 cup
     ginger-garlic paste - 2 tsp
     Salt to taste
     1 inch, ginger - julienned 
     fried onions - 2 tbsp

B )   To fry/saute in oil

      cloves - 4no:s
      cinnamon 1 whole
      cardamom pods - 4 no:s
      black cardamom - 2 no:s
      bay leaf 1
      black peppercorns - 8 or 10 no:s
      halved green chilies - 2 no:s

C )  For the Marinade: 

      Mix all the ingredients listed below & add the paneer as the final ingredient & fold gently. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

      fresh curd/yogurt - 1/2 cup
      ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
      salt for the paneer
      green chilies 3
      turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
      coriander/dhaniya powder - 1 tsp
      chili powder - 1/2 tsp
      dry roasted jeera powder - 1/2 tsp
      garam masala powder -1/2 tsp
      cubed paneer - 1 cup



Stovetop method:

  • Wash and cook the rice until it's almost cooked (3/4th done).
  • Wash thoroughly and chop the methi leaves (discard the stems). Before adding to the pan, squeeze the chopped methi leaves to remove some of its bitterness, if you desire.
  • In a large deep pan heat oil and add whole garam masalas ( listed under ingredient list B), fry until aromatic & lastly add green chilies. Saute for a minute and add sliced onions, let it turn translucent add ginger garlic paste and, julienned ginger. Let saute until the raw smell is gone and then add the chopped methi leaves & saute until the leaves are cooked.
  • Now add the marinated paneer ( listed under ingredient list C ) add salt & 2 tbsp of ghee, stir gently & cook for a few minutes until the raw smell of the marinade disappears.
  • Pour warm milk into a cup & add the saffron & give it a stir.
  • Layer the cooked rice on top of the paneer-methi mixture, drizzle 2 tbsp of ghee & sprinkle the saffron-milk mixture on top of the rice. 
  • Cover the pan with a lid. Place the covered pan on top of a tava/griddle & cook on medium heat until rice is completely cooked. Top with fried onions & then turn down the heat to the lowest setting for 'dum' cooking for a few more minutes & turn off the heat when the rice grains are fluffy & separate.

November 19, 2017

Quick Sunflower seeds Ladoo

How to make Sunflower seeds Ladoo


      Sunflower seeds are loaded with antioxidants.They are a good source of selenium, a proven enemy of cancer. They contain bone-healthy minerals and also contain Vitamin E, which helps ease arthritic pain. The Vitamin E in them brings a glow to your skin. A quarter cup of sunflower seeds a day can keep heart troubles away. With their crunchy, nutty taste, sunflower seeds can easily become a regular part of your daily diet and prevent food cravings. You can also sprinkle them on your salads, and stir-fries. I chew down on a handful of these seeds, during snack time to cut down on other cravings and to keep me satiated until meal time. I wrote down this recipe in my recipe diary, as I was making it so I could use up some of the sunflower seeds in my pantry.



Ingredients for about 15 ladoos:

1 cup of  roasted (unsalted) sunflower seeds
1 cup of powdered jaggery
1/2 cup of pottukadalai/roasted channa dal
1/2 tsp, cardamom/elaichi powder
1/4 cup of ghee
1/4 to 1/2 cup of raisins



Stovetop method:

  • If you have raw sunflower seeds, dry roast them on low heat until crisp, and aromatic. Let cool.
  • Dry grind in a food processor to desired coarseness. Transfer to a heat-resistant bowl.
  • Grind/powder crumbled jaggery to a fine powder; transfer to the bowl.
  • Powder the chutney dal finely & add to the rest of the powders. Add the cardamom powder & give it a stir.
  • Heat a small pan with the ghee & fry the raisins until plump. Add raisins to the powdered mixture & mix it in.

  • Continue to keep the ghee on very low heat. Add one ladle/spoon of hot ghee to one small portion of the sunflower seed, jaggery, chutney dal mixture. Blend the ghee with the nutty mixture & make firm balls with your fist. NOTE: Use only a small quantity of the powdered mixture to add ghee - make balls. These ladoos should not require much ghee as the sunflower seeds are oily in the first place.
  • Repeat the process until you have turned all of the powder into balls of your desired size.
  • Store in an air-tight container at room temperature & enjoy.

NOTES:

  • Roasted sunflower seeds are readily available in specialty food stores, if not in regular grocery stores.
Sharing this recipe with my fellow bloggers at Sri Valli's CCC# 51: November Week 3.


October 29, 2017

Devilish Delights (Cookies)

How to bake Devilish Delights (Cookies)



          The first time I set my eyes on these scrumptious cookies, (in a betty crocker cookbook) I knew it was a trap. I couldn't, not bake these insanely chocolatey cookies. I hope I have done justice to these cookies with my amateur photography skills and brought out the real texture of these beauties. These chocolatey devilish delights get their kick from freshly brewed coffee. Sharing this recipe with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC#50 Oct Week #4








MAKES: ABOUT 36 COOKIES
BAKE: 8 MINS at 350°F

Ingredients

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 tablespoons coffee liqueur or strong brewed espresso
2 teaspoons vanilla
10 ounces espresso-flavor chocolate baking bar or bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
12 ounces dark chocolate baking bar, chopped



Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, coffee liqueur, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined; set aside.
  • In a heavy medium saucepan, heat chopped espresso chocolate and butter over medium-low heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk melted chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chopped dark chocolate baking bar.
  • Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until tops appear dry and centers remain soft. Cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes about 36 cookies.

Storage:

  • Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Notes:

  • I used strong brewed coffee instead of chocolate liqueur and used bitter-sweet chocolate bar instead of dark chocolate in the recipe.
Sharing this recipe with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC#50 Oct Week #4.

October 15, 2017

Coconut Meeta/Sweet Paan Ladoo

How to make Coconut Meeta Paan Ladoo

    
      From using it in religious ceremonies to eating it in the form of a 'paan'; betel leaves contain many curative and healing health benefits. My mom & grandma used to grow it in our home and these aromatic leaves were readily available to reap the health benefits from the same. Betel leaves are supposed to heal wounds when applied over a wound and bandaged. If you are suffering from a severe headache, my grandma used to ask us to use 'vetrilai pathu' The leaves have cooling properties which provide instant relief from the ache when applied externally.

         Benefits aside, I have always been a fan of the meeta paan for the sweet filling in it.  So, here is a recipe that skips the slaked lime (sunnambu) & areca nuts/supari (pakku), but has all the yummy ingredients like coconut, elaichi, gulkund, nuts & cloves. You can pick & choose your favorite filler ingredients.


Coconut Meeta/Sweet Paan Ladoo




Ingredients for about 30 ladoos:

2 cups fresh/frozen grated coconut (do not use the brown part)
8 to 10 vetrilai/paan/betel leaves
1 cup condensed milk
about 1/2 cup, dry desiccated coconut (for rolling)
1/2 tsp, cardamom/elaichi powder
1/2 to 3/4 cup of gulkund (rose petal preserve)
1/2 tsp, saunf/fennel seeds
whole cloves, for garnishing
green food color, optional
chopped nuts, optional (I used almonds)



Method:

  • To a food processor, add the grated coconut & grind dry until fine. Transfer to a bowl. 
  • Wash, remove the stem & the bottommost tip of all paan leaves. Add tore paan leaves, pulse until fine add condensed milk & grind till both are well combined. Add few drops of green food color, if desired. 

  • Heat a pan on medium heat, add the coconut and roast for a couple of minutes on medium-low heat. Add the condensed milk - paan mixture and stir to combine. You can add the elaichi powder & fennel seeds at this point.
  • Cook for a few minutes on low heat, until the mixture, thickens & forms into one solid mass. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool down a bit.

  • Grease your hands with ghee if needed, take a small portion from the coconut mixture, flatten it and add ½-1 teaspoon of gulkund and chopped nuts in the center. Bring the edges together and roll to form a ladoo. Roll the prepared ladoos in desiccated coconut. Repeat the same process with the remaining ladoos.

  • Garnish with cloves, if desired. Refrigerate the ladoos & enjoy as a digestive/mouth freshener.

This recipe was inspired by another paan recipe from a tv show. You may add supari to the filling if you desire. Sharing this delicious recipe with my friends at SriValli's  CCC#50 Oct week 3.

September 23, 2017

Easy Rawa Kesari

How to make easy Rawa Kesari 


              It just dawned upon me that there are many basic easy recipes that are missing from my blog like the humble Kesari. So here goes an easy method that doesn't require technical stirring & standing next to it for a long time for the dish to be complete. This recipe was inspired by the Rawa Pongal recipe by Mrs. Revathi Shanmugam. The technique is a little different here though. One important thing to note - If the rawa & the sugar water are not piping hot while mixing, it might get sticky & lumpy. My recipe makes a mildly sweet Kesari. You can increase the sugar to 1 cup if you like it sweeter. So here's a quick recipe for you to try this Navrathri season or just any time of the year.






Ingredients for about 6 servings:


          For the sugar syrup


·  3/4 cup sugar
·  1.5 cups water
·  1/8 tsp, cardamom/elaichi powder
·  a pinch of salt
  

  For roasting the rava

·  1/4 cup or 4 tbsp ghee
·  1/2 cup rawa /sooji
·  8-10 cashew-nuts, broken
.  1 tbsp, raisins (optional)


Easy Rawa Kesari

Stovetop method:

  • Take a heavy bottom pan or a pressure cooker and add the water, sugar, cardamom powder, and a pinch of salt. You can add saffron or food coloring if desired. Light the stove & let it heat. 
  • Set another pan on the stove over medium heat. Add in the ghee, cashew-nuts and the rawa and fry until golden & aromatic. The ghee will initially bubble up on the sides of the pan during roasting. Keep stirring and take care not to let it burn.

  • We will be working simultaneously using two stoves - when the sugar mixture comes to a rolling boil, the rawa will also be roasted. If the sugar mixture starts boiling before the rawa is roasted, just put the sugar mixture on simmer.
  • When the sugar mixture comes to a rolling boil, we are ready to add in the rawa. Carefully add in the roasted hot rawa slowly into the boiling sugar water mixture, taking care not to let the hot liquid splash on you. Immediately after adding rawa, mix well and cover the pan/cooker with the lid and switch off the heat. (If there are any vents on the lid, make sure you cover them with a kitchen towel or use the weight if using a pressure cooker – so we do not let the steam escape. 

  • Keep it covered tightly for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, open and mix the Kesari well. The rawa would have absorbed all the moisture and swelled up, glistening with ghee and totally lump free.
  • The Kesari is best served warm or at room temperature. You can store the Kesari in the fridge for up to a week.
Sharing this recipe from my diary with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC #49 Sep Week 4.

September 17, 2017

Murungai Keerai Pori Arisi Poriyal

How to make Moringa/Drumstick leaves stir fry


           While I was making this authentic keerai poriyal today, it brought back memories from my high school days. I was living with my grandparents for a few years... when all of a sudden, I was asked to fly solo for the very first time, with no time to prep. One fine day, my grandma had to attend a gathering and could not finish her cooking in time for grandpa. That Sunday, the responsibility of making this dish fell upon me. Having never made it myself; nobody to help me; no cookbooks or the internet (Gosh! I don't know how we lived back then) it took me a long long time & multiple attempts to get it right. 

            You probably wouldn't understand what the big fuss was all about - since you haven't met my grandpa a.k.a the food critique of the family, who also happened to be short tempered. Him being an ardent fan of the greens was definitely not working in my favor either, if I messed up the dish. I was sure that he would be able to pinpoint exactly what was missing in my cooking. To sum it all up, my first product was plain steamed greens with salt....Yikes!! Then I added the grated coconut, gave it a stir and turned off the stove again (second end product). Only to realize it was still missing something. After closing my eyes to imagine what a keerai poriyal looked like the last time I ate it, I made a tempering with mustard, urad dal & chillies and added to the cooked greens. 

            



               Although I wanted to be nowhere near the critique to hear his review, It was a situation that I was inescapable from. You see, in those days it was tradition to stand beside the person eating & serve them the food until they were done with the four (or six) course meal. After some nail-biting and heart palpitations, grandpa finally said that he liked it and ate all of it. I was surprised that he liked it and I was curious to taste it to see what was good with the overcooked keerai. He was not to be blamed for eating all of it, cos' between cooking, cooking & re-cooking, I ended up tasting so many times that there was barely any keerai poriyal for thatha to eat. LOL!!! Anyways, I was just glad that the stressful ordeal was finally over and I had learned how to make the keerai poriyal. 

            Hope you guys enjoyed reading about my very first cooking failure (turned) success. Note: This recipe can also be made without the roasted rice powder, but adding it, gives your final product a good texture & some crunchiness while eating. So, here you go - a very old recipe from my recipe diary. Sharing this story & recipe with my fellow bloggers at Sri Valli's CCC #48 Sep Week 3




Ingredients for 2 to 3 servings:


2 cups of drumstick leaves - picked, washed & drained
1/2 an onion, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp, grated coconut
1/2 tbsp, oil
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp, mustard seeds
1 tsp, broken urad dal
1 dry red chilli, broken

To fry & powder coarsely:

1 tbsp, raw rice, pacha arisi
1/2 tbsp, bengal gram dal/kadalai paruppu
1/2 tsp, black peppercorns (if you like it hot)
1/2 tsp, oil







Stovetop method:

  • Pick the drumstick leaves, without any thick stems. Rinse & wash a couple of times and let drain.

  • Heat a mini pan/kadai, add 1/2 tsp of oil and add all the ingredients to fry & powder coarsely. Let cool & powder. Do not powder finely.

  • Heat 1/2 tbsp of oil in a kadai/wok, add the mustard seeds, broken urad dal, and broken red chilli. When they are all fried, add onions & saute with a little salt for quick cooking. 
  • When onions are translucent, add the washed greens and salt, give it a stirring, cover & cook on low to medium heat for about three minutes.

  • When the leaves are cooked, add grated coconut and the powdered ingredients - mix, let sit for another minute and turn off the heat.
  • Serve with any south Indian meal platter. (We had it with raw mango sambhar & steamed rice.)



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