Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Snacky- snacky!!!

It has been a surprising winter for us in L.A.. we had lots of rain!! While others are snow bound, we L.A'ites have none of that winter wonderland, so once in a while when it rains and the temperatures dip, we make the most of it!

If there is one thing I miss here, it is the monsoon season.. the gentle pitter-patter of rain, the rumbling thunder, that brilliant flash of lightening and yes, the occasional flooding which brings life to a stand still!

The happiest days of my child hood were when it rained cats and dogs, the streets would flood and those were the days I was VERY keen on going to school!! Wild horses could not keep me away! To traipse in the water logged streets, tear pages out of the Math notebook and float boats, squeal with laughter when a bicycle went by splashing water and finally find the school gates closed! Going back home to a hot Dettol bath and warm food and then spend the day watching the rain come down with a plate of snacks and a heap of comics ... Utopia!


Of course the favourite snack was pakodas, but when you are not old enough to be trusted with handling match-sticks, you have to be content with a bag of chips and everything else that you can lay your hands on! Even as a child I was very fond of 'kela wafer' or plantain chips and loved to munch on these when curled up with a book.

So when rain lashed the window pane , the flood of memories also brought a craving for plantain chips. It was a matter of minutes , I had one large plantain which I rapidly peeled and sliced thin on the mandolin. While this was happening, heat oil in a kadhai/ wok. Once the oil is hot, deep fry the chips to a crisp. Remove onto a paper towel to absorb excess oil, lightly sprinkle and toss with salt . Grab a plateful , open the book , read and munch!!

After having munched and munched on the chips, we really did not have too much space for a proper dinner, something light and not too much fuss seemed to be the solution. Glancing thru the snacks section of Chandra Padmanabhan's Dakshin, I came across this 'Potato Dosa' , this was an instant dosa and that always is a hit with me! No fermentation!

For the Dosa:

2 Large Potatoes
1 cup Rice Flour
1/2 cup Yogurt
1-2 Green chillies minced
fistful of finely chopped Cilantro
Salt to taste
Oil to make Dosa

Cook the potatoes ( pressure cook or microwave them). Peel and mash them. Add all the remaining ingredients, mix thoroughly using sufficient water to make a regular dosa batter. Heat a tawa/ skillet. Make dosas !!! Serve hot with chutney .

Though this dosa makes a nice snack, the only difficulty I had with it was flipping it.. some broke / tore halfway, not that I am complaining!

To end on a sweet note, I made this dessert on Sunday. Basically anything that requires the oven, is frankly intimidating to me. Where the Daring Bakers turn out these WONDERFUL things, all I can do is gape! I was looking for something minimalistic and manageable. Now when I am bracing myself for an adventure like this, I like to read a few recipes which sound simple but more importantly have portions that are small too, small enough to experiment. Googling for a Caramel Custard recipe I came across Nupur's version and she made it sound like I could do it! It sounded soooooo good!

Can I? Can't I?? You see, there was this one time, my cousin and I in a fit of enthusiasm and ignorance, tried making this dessert, but that was with a ready pack with simple sounding instructions, so simple that we thought it was idiot-proof! To cut a long story short, the caramel custard looked as bad as it tasted and when set on a plate expired there with a 'glooop', needless to say, we had a hushed up funeral for it and later dug noisily into cartons of ice-cream, scraping the bottom with the wodden scoops.
So this time around, when the husband was in the office (on a weekend, mark you, it is so annoying when all problems crop up on a saturday and the boss calls you in for an hour or two), I tackled this recipe. I followed every word and every step...right down to even taking the picture the way Nupur did, I was that nervous! One wrong step and it would go 'glooop' was a warning that buzzed my ears! But... but!!!! check it out folks!!!


Yes, Yes, Yes!!! Ta-Dah!! I did it!! Jai ho!! Nupur ki jai ho!!!! This is one recipe I am going to hang on to!!! Perhaps the caramel could have been a shade darker, but as the recipe warned, there is a thin line between caramel and charcoal, I was very careful!

M loved the caramel custard!! Not too sweet, just how he likes it!! In fact this was all that was left for the photograph! I cannot wait to try it again!!

On a more serious note: Thank U all for your concern over my previous post. Looks like honesty is not the 'in' thing these days.. sadly the thief in concern has not removed my picture, she first claimed that her son was unwell, so she was busy, but since them she has had time to make a few more videos. It is sad that a woman should 'use' her small son to shield her dishonesty. Don't know what the world is coming to, I no longer feel so bad about the stolen picture, but more so for her son and the wrong ideas he will grow up with.

That's it for now!! Take care you all! Keep warm and SMILE!!!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

And so it happened to me!! A copycat stalked on my blog....

I never thought it would happen to me!! I saw it happen with the others, I was sorry and angry about it.. but I guess when it really happens to you, that's when one feels the real pinch!
Let me explain what I am rambling about, I am a member on Orkut which has a large number of 'communities' which discuss various topics of interest. Among these I found one community with a cooking video on making Til Wadi (Sesame Bars) and out of interest clicked on it. To my surprise I saw a picture stolen from my post staring up at me!

I blinked.. I rubbed my eyes.. re-re checked to make sure I was not hallucinating.. NO, it was definitely my picture!
So I set about leaving a polite message for the lady, asking her to remove my picture which she, no doubt must have laboriously hunted and copied, but the poor sap did not realise that not only is it wrong to copy/ steal and take credit for some body's work, but .. that the recipe calls for slightly different ingredients too!
Not that the picture is that good (indeed, I have always maintained that my pictures are probably the most amateurish ones in blogosphere) but be that as it may, it is still is my work and I am not happy about it being casually pinched! I work hard to keep my blog up and running and naturally feel possessive about my posts and the pictures in it.
So far she has not responded nor co-operated.. needless to say by this time I was vexed.. I went ahead and left another message on youtube.com (in the hope that it might awaken / jolt her slumbering conscience) requesting her to take off my picture.
If you all have any suggestions, please do let me know.
Please support me in fighting one more war against plagiarism.
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Monday, January 14, 2008

Tomato Rice- The Best I have ever Eaten!!

Of late M and I reminisce a lot about our brief stay in Bangalore.. and of course we end up talking of the awesome food we ate there! M always boasted to me about the AWESOME food one could eat only in Bangalore .
After just a few meals I was convinced! There was something so heartening about the meals I ate! The taste ! The aroma!
Growing up, pulav, biryani were regulars at home and also our choice when dining out. It was not until Sanjeev Kapoor made Tomato Rice on his famous show Khana Khazana that this rice dish got any recognition (with us). The hastily scribbled recipe was then shoved in some book and labelled as 'try later' ..
We did experiment with a few recipes, each one was 'good', but there was nothing exceptional about it. Let me go so far as saying, there was nothing really noteworthy about those recipes.. just like one of those Hindi movies, a strictly one-watch.. NO more!
Then last week, prowling thru the cookbook aisle in the library, I spied 'Dakshin' by Chandra Padmanabhan... flipping thru the pages I drooled over the recipes and the pictures. THIS was what I was looking for!
What can I say about the book? For those who have tried recipes from this book need no recommendation and for those ( late comers like me) I have just one thing to say... GO GET IT!!!
The first recipe I tried was the Tomato Rice, one look at the ingredients list had me thoroughly convinced that 'this' was the 'exceptional' recipe I was looking for!!
I followed the recipe to the T. The result was this AMAZING tasting rice, we overate, nothing else was even glanced at!
The best part was a happy and beaming M giving me a thumbs up and declaring this as 'the best' and declaring that my (the adapted recipe, that is) recipe was LOADS better than even Bangalore! Now, for me, that is a HUGE compliment! M is a devotee of Bangalore food, swears by it! So his compliments are my treasure!
The taste left a lingering memory which compelled me to try it again within a week and this time I made sure we had enough for our lunch box too!
A keeper, this one... as most from the book! I cannot wait to try some more from this treasure trove!!
You need:

1 cup Long grain Rice
4 large Tomatoes , Chopped

2 Med. Onions chopped
2 Green chilies finely chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Turmeric


MASALA

2 tsp Oil

6 Red Chilies (less if you prefer it mild)
2 tsp. Coriander Seeds
1/4 tsp. Fenugreek seeds
3 tsp. Channa daal (Bengal gram)
1 tsp. Urad daal (washed black gram)
1/2 tsp Asafetida
2 tblsp Flaked Coconut


TEMPERING
2 tblsp Oil
2 tblsp Ghee
1 tsp Mustard seeds
2 tblsp Raw peanuts
Few curry leaves

Cook the rice, spread on a platter to cool
Blend the tomatoes in a lender, strain the juice an set aside
For the Masala: Hat 2 t oil, add red chillies, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, chana daal, urad daal, asafetida and coconut. Saute for 2-3 mins. Blend to a fine paste ( I sauteed the masala using just a few drops of oil and ground it in my spice blender and then mixed a bit of water in it to make a paste).
To a heavy saucepan add the tomato juice, salt to taste and turmeric. simmer till the mixture thickens, add the masala paste, mix thoroughly . Set aside
Heat 2 t oil & 2 t ghee, add the mustard seeds, raw peanuts and curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds splutter add the green chillies and onions. Saute till golden in color. Add tomato juice and rice. Mix thoroughly. Serve hot with the usual accompaniment of papad.
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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Starting the new year with a good amount of Vegetables!! And Indo- Chinese food!

I first drooled over these and then she tempted me !!! I hadn't heard of these.. though I do love Indo- Chinese-made-in-Mumbai food.. the closest I could relate these to was Momos!! But they looked sooooo good!!! And the ladies praised them so much and honestly, they looked like they were so easy to make (and they are!!!) !!!!

Plus, what a great way to eat vegetables (especially when you are as fussy as me!)..

These pot stickers are a HIT with me and I will definitely keep making them! Maybe the next time I will plain steam them, bet those will taste just as good!

I followed Suganya's recipe and for the next round it will be Nupur's! Any suggestions what I can substitute for mushrooms?

I rounded up the usual suspects for stuffing! Just chopping these vegetables made me feel 'healthy'.. no I an not exaggerating! There are evenings, when I come home from work, tired and cranky, and all I can rustle up is a pot of sambar and rice.. and if I am not cranky, I also make fulkas with a vegetable! But that was until last year.. this year I have resolved to eat as many veges as I can ( and dare to sample some new varieties as well).


I followed the recipe, link here



And just as a reference:

Ingredients
Cabbage – 2 cups,

Shredded Carrot – 1 cup,

Shredded Bell pepper – 1 big,

Shredded Green chilli – 1,

Minced Ginger – 1 inch,

Grated Lemon grass – 1 tbsp,

Soy sauce – 2 tbsp

Salt

Pepper

Sesame oil – 1 tbsp

Wonton wrappers – 1 packet


Method
Reserve some shredded cabbage, carrots and bell pepper for plating. Put a wok on high heat. Add oil and quickly stir fry carrot, bell pepper with green chilli, ginger and lemon grass, for about a minute. Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper. Switch off the flame and mix the shredded cabbage. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
Take 6 wonton wrappers at a time and form an assembly line. Brush the edges with water, place a tbsp of filling in the center, and fold as a square or a triangle. Pinch the edges and transfer the finished wontons onto a baking sheet and keep them covered with a kitchen towel. Proceed to finish the rest.
Take a flat pan with lid and put it under medium heat. Spray the pan with a tsp of oil and place 5 or 6 filled wontons without crowding the pan. Don’t disturb the potstickers for a whole minute. After they have crisped on one side, gently pour ¼ cup of water in the pan and close the lid. The steam from the evaporating water will cook the potstickers. When all the water has dried and the wonton wrappers are transparent, they are done. Gently transfer onto a platter prepared with the reserved vegetables and serve immediately with your favourite
dipping sauce.

I would like to try another dipping sauce, I somehow did not take to the soy sauce (dipping sauce), so if you all have any other suggestions, please do let me know!



I also made Fried Rice and Sweet and Sour Vegetable.


I used the same vegetables ( carrots, cabbage, spring onion, green bell pepper)


You need:


3 cups Mixed Vegetables ( I chopped veges in to cubes and carrots in rounds)

1/2 Onion, chopped (cook separately)

1 1/2 cup Vegetable stock*


3 tblspn Tomato sauce


2 tblsp Vinegar


2tblsp Sugar


1 1/4 tblsp Cornflour


Salt to taste


1 tblsp Butter


Combine all ingredients from Tomato sauce up to salt. Boil the vegetables in water until just cooked. Reserve the water (vegetable stock). Heat butter in a pan, add the onion and cook till translucent, add the sauce and boil . Add the boiled vegetables, mix well. Boil and let the sauce thicken. Serve with Fried rice!! This meal is light and tasty but at the same time,not at all spicy!
Have a great weekend!!!!

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Tum chalo to Hindustan chale..!!

Happy New Year to all readers!! God Bless!!!

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