Saturday, September 29, 2007

MBP- BREAD: Cheese Parathas.

I'm LATE... so what's new, huh? But I couldn't miss MBP!!! The darned right thumb delayed me! Anyway, now that we are firmly ensconced in our new apartment, which to my delight has a regular gas (like India) and NO Coil stove, I couldn't be happier! Food tastes better and cooks faster than the dreadful coil (M claims it is all my fancy... Men! I tell ya, they are weird!)
For MBP- BREAD I found so many varieties of Breads in our blogosphere, but I finally decided in favour of Cheese Parathas

Like Musical, parathas have always been my favourite type of bread too! Parathas hold a special place in my heart! They are a constant reminder to me of my BEST Friend who is from Delhi and the YUM! parathas I have eaten at home!

In fact, I still vividly recall my first instruction in making a paratha.. (it was not the stuffed variety) and inexperienced as I was in making Parathas, I rolled one all nice and round and .... thin! like a Fulka!! Oh boy!! did I feel like an ostrich? I sure did!!! Just wanted to bury my head in some soil and hang in there till eternity!

Around that time, I also learned that parathas need not be round (or as thin as fulkas!!) and when I found Musical's Recipe, after chuckling awhile, decided 'this' is it!

I followed her recipe, copy pasted in here for convenience, with a couple of variations...

Thanx Musical! Loved the parathas!!

MUSICAL'S RECIPE :

We need:
Whole wheat flour, water, a pinch of salt, ajwain and grated cheese of your favorite variety (i used five cheese Italian blend).Sift the flour, add salt, ajwain, knead into a smooth dough with water. The essence of any good Indian bread is a good dough, so knead, knead, knead :). The dough should be flexible. Set aside for a few minutes. Heat the tava/griddle and roll a nice chapati as shown in the picture. Heap some grated cheese and fold into a square (or a triangle if you like). Dust with some flour and roll this square. Fry it with lil' oil/ghee on the tava-the cheese melts and makes this ordinary bread into something extraordinary :).
Variations I made :

Used Mozzarella Cheese

Added 1/2 very finely chopped onion

Used Olive oil spray


..... My favourite smells in the kitchen....

- Daal (Varan) and Basmati Rice and the lingering smell of an incense stick ( something one encounters in a typical Maharashtrian Brahmin kitchen!!)!!

- Tadkas (tempering) (with or without ginger-garlic paste)!!

-Cake baking in the oven!! ( I am going to try my hand at baking proper bread soon, so I'm sure that will be another to this list!

Thank You , Coffee, for this wonderful theme and Okaying my late entry!!

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ganesh Chaturthi and RCI-Karnataka!

What happens when you apparently fall asleep? What happens when you wake up, but just gaze dreamily at the ceiling, thinking of nothing particular? What happens is..... a good friend comes along and nudges you out of the semi- comatose state!!
I was a bit lazy ... okay... okay, going in reverse gear, where blogging was concerned.. but so much was happening.. we are moving to a new apartment this weekend, so in a fit of high enthusiasm M and I packed stuff last weekend and in that very fit, I dunno what I did, but messed up my right thumb, which to date, is throbbing!

But, keeping in mind the RCI-Karnataka event, hosted this month by our very own superwoman, ASHA .I decided to make 'Kadabu'. My memories of Karnataka cuisine are linked to the small village of Badami in Karnataka. We would go to the Banshankari Temple (Kuldevi) and would stay there for a couple of days. My Mother's friend is of the Pujari family and so we always had a very pleasant time there (along with the privilege of sometimes helping in the kitchen! but the rules were SUPER orthodox and I always lived in the fear of royally messing up the whole thing and thereby incurring the wrath of the Goddess and the pujari family!)Thursday was the day of the Goddess and as usual there was a GRAND feast prepared and the rows and rows of devotees would await their turn to enter the great hall and feast!

Kadabu ( or simply put, puran - karanji) was a regular along with Chitranna, Holgi (puran poli) , Palya ( vegetable) , kousambri, and buttermilk. Thus satiated everyone would feel very happy and content and friendly with the world!! The evenings (after the sumptuous food) was my favourite time of the day, way back when I visited the temple, there was no electricity inside the Temple (they had everything in their homes) but the temple would glow in the soft light of the oil lamps. The wonderful smell of camphor, flowers would linger in the air and a flock of the womenfolk would gather in the space and sit making tiny packets of 'haldi-kumkum' and singing songs glorifying the Goddess and other dieties. These would be sung in Kannada (which I only partially understand) and full of devotion which would stir the heart and make even the most restless person feel at peace and one with the Almighty!

So this time for Ganesh Chaturthi, I decided to make Kadabu along with 'Ukadiche Modak' , Sheera and Pal payasam.



Kadabu Recipe

For the filling:



1 cup chana daal

1 cup Jaggery (or 1/2 cup jaggery & 1/2 cup sugar)

1/4 tsp Cardamom Powder

For the cover:

1 cup Wheat flour (atta)

1 tbsp oil

Water to bind the dough

OIL to deep fry the kadabu

Bind the dough for the cover, like roti dough, just a little stiff.
Wash the daal in 2-3 changes of water and put it to boil with about 3 cups water.
Cook the daal until it is soft. Drain and reserve the water, this can be used to make Katachi aamti
In a heavy bottom pan combine the daal and the jaggery and cook till it becomes a homogenous mixture. leave it to cool ,then add the cardamom powder. If you want to make the stuffing amooth, run it through the blender, I left it chunky as I do not have what is called as the 'puran yantra.Take a small lemon size ball of the dough and roll it out like a puri. Spoon 1-2 tbsp. (depending upon the size of the puri) of the filling and fold it over, pressing the edges together to seal it. Heat oil in a kadhai and deep fry the kadabu till golden brown.When serving, add a dollop of pure ghee and serve.



Ukadiche Modak :

For the filing

1 cup fresh grated coconut

1 cup jaggery

1 cardamom powdered

1 tbsp Poppy seeds (khus-khus) (optional)

For the Cover:

1 cup rice flour

1 cup +3-4 tbsp Water

2 pinches salt

2 tbsp Oil

In a kadhai, add the coconut and jaggery and cook till it is a homogenous mixture. Take care not to overcook.

Boil water in a saucepan, add the salt and oil to it. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add the rice flour and mix well so that there are no major lumps. Cover and cook for a minute. Remove cover and mix again, cover and switch off the heat/ flame.

After a while (2-3 mins) take out the mixture and knead it into a soft pliable dough. Divide into lemon size balls and carefully using palms and fingers flatten the dough into a puri like shape, spoon the coconut-jaggery mixture into the rice dough . Carefully squeeze the sides to form petals and bring them together at the top. Do this for all of the rice dough. Cover the ready modak by a damp cloth to prevent drying. The modak now need to be steamed. I used the regular pressure cooker (without the weight/whistle)

Arrange the modak carefully and steam them for approx 15 mins.

When serving serve with a dolop of pure ghee! YUM!!

Pal Payasam (I made limited quantity)

4 tbsp Basmati Rice

2 cups Milk

5 tbsp Brown Sugar ( add extra sugar if u like it sweet)

A few threads saffron

1 cardamom powdered

1 tsp ghee

Few Raisins, Almonds and Cahews

Wash the rice and drain all water, set it aside

Heat ghee in a saucepan, lightly fry the almond and cashews, add the rice and then the raisins and saffron ( I usually add raisins at this stage for the simple reason that on a few occasions they were burnt beyond recognition and I had to chuck the whole thing) Once all the rice grains are well coated with ghee and the raisins are plump, add the milk.

Here you have 2 options, the quick way to make Pal Payasam is to put it in the pressure cooker and cook for 3-4 whistles of let it slow cook in the stove till rice is completely cooked. I used the pressure cooker. After removing the vessel from the pressure cooker, add sugar and bring to a boil, let it thicken a little, lastly add the cardamom powder.

I made Sheera like I always do , but one thing is for sure, Sheera made for prasad tastes a whole lot tastier than the regular sheera!! Don't ask me how!! It just does!!

My prasad thali

Chitranna

1 cup rice

1 tsp Urad Daal

1tsp chana daal

1 green Chilli

1 Dry red chilli

Few curry leaves

1-2 tbsp Oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2-3 tbsp. Roasated peanuts

1/4 tsp Asafetida

1/2 tsp Turmeric

Salt to taste

Juice of one med. size Lemon

1/2 tsp sugar (optional)

5-6 cashews (optional)

Cilantro (minced) to Garnish
Wash rice in 3-4 changes of water and keep aside for 20 mins. Cook rice. Once rice is cooked, spread it ona plate and allow it to cool.

Heat oil in a kadhai. Add chana and urad daal and let them turn a light brown, add mustard seeds, once they pop, add the asafetida, green and red chilli ,curry leaves, turmeric and peanuts. Saute a while.

Add the Rice, mix thoroughtly, cover and cook for 2 mins. on medium flame. Uncover add salt and sugar, mix and cove and cook for another 3-4 mins. Afte r the heat is turned off, add the lemon juice. Garnish with Cilantro before serving.


We now come to one amazing Fruitzi the Pineapple Kairas! The unusual combination of pineapple chunks with spices creating an explosion of taste in every mouthful is difficult for me to describe!! Every year during the month of Shravan, the Kannada Community in Navi Mumbai (or New Bombay as I call it) have the Raghavendra Swami Ashtotarra and SatyaNarayan pooja. They have this caterer ( who was also caters to most of our family functions) who makes the MOST AMAZING Food and his pineapple kairas is to die for, so are the Jalebis, and the sambar and the rasam and ... (stop calling me a greedy p**, what I am stating is the absolute Truth!!)

So since I have missed the food for 2 years in a row, I mean the pooja .. pooja... ahem.. yes.... I got my Mom to somehow procure the recipe... which she did from her friend, Mrs. B !

Pineapple Kairas

1 cup Pineapple chunks ( I used a can of chunks)

1 lump Jaggery

Marble size Tamarind Pulp

Salt to taste

Masala

1 tsp White sesame seeds/ til

1/4 tsp Fenugreek/ Methi seeds

1/2 tsp Urid dal

1 spoon Corriander seeds/ Dhane

2-3 Bedagi chilli

1/2 cup fresh coconut grated

Few Curryleaves

1 tbsp oil for frying masala

Heat a kadhai , add the sesame to it and dry roast till they turn a light brown.Remove and keep it aside.

Heat 1 tsp oil, add the urad daal and methi seeds and saute for about 20 seconds. Add the corriander seeds, saute. Add the Byedgi chilly and curry leaves, by now the urid daal has turned light brown, add the grated coconut and mix and cook for acouple of mins.

Grind to a paste in the blender/ chutney attachment 9 do not add too much water0

In the same kadhai, add the Pineapple pieces , tamarind pulp, jaggery and salt. Mix these 4 items together and cook for a minute Mix the masala paste in the cooked pineapple mixture and boil for 2 minutes or till the pineapple softens (time may vary if you use fresh pineapple).Your pineapple kairas is ready to serve.

If ALL that ain't enough, finish off your meal with soothing Yogurt Rice!

You need: (no measures for this!! I just did this mechanically! So used to it since my childhood!)

Cooked rice

Fresh yogurt

Milk

Salt to taste

For tempering

2 tsp oil

1 spn mustard seeds

1/4 tsp pinches asafetida

Some grated ginger (1/2 tsp, if you like ginger)

1/2 spoon chana daal + urad daal

5 curry leaves

1 dry red chilli broken into 2-3 pieces / 1 green chilly chopped

Fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

Mix the yogurt and milk in the rice, add salt .. mix well Heat oil, add chana and urad daal, mustard seeds, once the daal is nice and brown (by this time the mustard will crackle) add asafetida, ginger, chilly and curry leaves. Add the tempering to the yogurt rice, garnish with cilantro if u wish….and complete your meal!

Thank you Asha for being our hostess for RCI this month!!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Kheer (Semiya) for Janmashtami

Pic courtesy: Google search

Childhood stories tell us that Lord Krishna was partial towards milk, so befitting this occasion, I made kheer. But are there any guidelines for making ‘prasad’? Oh! Everyone knows what NOT to use, but who actually decided that He likes x,y,z dish? God embraces everything and every act of devotion be it ever so humble. So kheer it is!
Take a moment to consider this, does one need a reason to make Kheer? Any occasion, festival day, birthday.. or or the matter guests for dinner ! Kheer can me made from vermicelli, farina, sago, rice, carrots... if there are any more variations, I am not aware of them.

Janmashtami, in childhood meant NO school and Dahi Handi !!! We (my gang of friends) would run thru our colony where we stayed to check which building had the ‘handi’ at the highest level/ floor and who would break it. We would also sing ‘ mach gaya shor saari nagari re, aya Biraj ka banka, sambhal teri gagri re’ Gazing in wonder at the human pyramid trying to reach the ‘handi’ on the fourth floor level, we would go ‘oooohaaaahhhhhh’ and laughing uproariously when they fell and yell, ‘areyyyyy Govinda padla rey!!!!
I have also had my share of breaking a ‘handi’ when I was in a day care and the lady in charge had a small ‘handi’ set up for us and waaaaaaaaaaaaay back then, I was wiry and somewhat of a monkey so I had the chance to sprint up everyone’s backs and try to break the handi!!! ~sigh~ small and wiry!!! That’s the way I wanted to be all my life!!! But we are digress from the topic.. this ~ahem~ can be taken up at a later date…
Growing up, I never tasted kheer.. reason... a marked dislike for the 'malai' in the kheer! It is only recently that I have started making and eating it, of course, without the 'malai' dangling in every spoonful!

Here's how I make it:


~6 tbsp Semiya /vermicelli (I have used the Bambino variety , which is a bit thick)

3 Cups Milk

1/2 tsp Ghee

6 tbsp Sugar ( +/- on how sweet you like it, the sugar I have is not as sweet so I have used 6 tbsp, otherwise 5 tbsp is good enough)

1 cardamom powdered

Pinch saffron

6-7 Cashews

4-5 Almonds sliced thin/ slivered

7-8 Raisins


Heat the ghee in a wok. On medium heat , frythe semiya, nuts and raisins till they turn a nice light golden brown. Add in the milk and saffron. Bring this to a boil (this is where I keep a watch like a hawk for the malai and remove it!). Cook till the semiya is soft and the milk thickens a little. Once cooled, the semiya will further thicken it, so over cooking/ boiling will result in a thick mass that needs extra milk to make it look like kheer (and then tasting to check if sugar is ok... )
Once almost cooled, add sugar and cardamom powder.Serve!
Now isn't that the easiest thing!!!??!!
Sending this off to The Yum Blog as my entry for the Janmashtami event.

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