Sunday, June 30, 2013

Red Lentil Curry for MLLA (My Legume Love Affair)-60


I was about to miss MLAA-60. Well thank goodness for a Quick curry ( and bad pictures).

Summer has set in (and how!) so contrary to what most people say, I huddle indoors, blinds drawn and the air conditioning ON.

Cooking  an elaborate meal is out of the question. And so, making something that matches well with rice and fulkas is perfect. 

I am sharing with you a recipe I found on Pinterest. There are just So many things on pinterest that are absolutely fantastic! And the food related pins, oh my! 
I log in and spend happy minutes checking  recipes, tips and tricks, crafty stuff ( at which I really suck, but  a vain hope struggles in my heart, that one day I may be able to make something that is not an epic failure), gardening tips ( again a lost cause where I am concerned).  Needless to say, the recipe pins are many. I particularly like to check recipes that are Indian but with a twist ( tried by non-Indians), it gives me a fresh perspective. 

I found one one such recipe and bookmarked it immediately. It read well and I knew I wanted to try it.
I have tried it a couple of times and like many lentil curries, this one is a keeper.
I made slight modifications.
Check the link above for the original recipe.



For the Curry: ( serves 6)

1 1/2 cups Lentils ( sabut Masoor)
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
1 heaping tsp. Curry powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon  grated ginger
1 tsp red chili powder ( adjust according to taste)
4 large Tomatoes pureed ( or use 1 can tomato puree*)
¼ cup coconut milk
2-3 Tbsp. Butter
cilantro for garnishing

Wash and cook 1 1/2 Cups of Lentils ( Sabut Masoor)
While the Lentils are cooking, heat butter in a pan and saute the onions in it till cooked on medium high heat.
Add the spices, ginger, garlic, turmeric, garam masala, curry powder, red chili powder, salt and sugar and stir for about 30 seconds ( be careful, do not burn the spices)
Add the tomato puree and cook until the spices are well incorporated in the puree and the sauce starts looking smooth.
Add the coconut milk and mix.
Add the lentils, mix and simmer for 10-15 mins and allow all the spices to combine.
Serve hot with rice or fulkas.
Tastes better the next day.

*NOTES: 
-The original recipe uses Red Curry Paste. I have made this curry with and without the Red curry paste.I prefer to use very little or skip it. If you want to use the paste, add 11/2 to 2 Tbsp. In that case reduce the Garam masala to 1/2 T only.

- I prefer to use home made tomato puree and less than 1 can. I find that canned puree is too tart for my taste and therefore make my own. 


dashing off this recipe to Nupur as my entry for MLLA-60, an event started by Susan and now run by Lisa
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Polya ki Chapatya? I prefer Fulkas!

* Disclaimer: This post is written for entertainment and not for any discussion, please treat it as such.

Years ago, I was sitting in the cafeteria, after a late shift and sharing my lunch ( in this case dinner) box with a friend. 
We were both super hungry and ate fast and talked fast too. As we were finishing I asked, "shevatchi chapati, you want?" ( last flat bread, you want?) and he just stopped eating... just stared at me, all wide eyed and shocked. I was surprised, I was not speaking with my mouth full, did not spit out a crumb, so what just happened? 
He  bent towards me and in a sibilant whisper said, "aga, chapati kay? apan POLI mhanto"(hey, we do not say chapati,  we say poli)
I tut-tutted and said, "eat... forget the distinction, same ingredients, different name".

That was about 8 years or so ago. I forgot about that incident until very recently.

Let me side track you all a bit. While I am not a big fan of TV serials, there are a few that I do watch and like. I do not subscribe to any Desi channels (what's the use? all we do is watch cartoons) and so I catch my share of Marathi TV Serials on apalimarathi.com.
It all started when my Mom told me (last year) about this nice family worthy serial, 'Eka lagnachi dusri goshta' and M and I were hooked!
And now, there is another serial I watch, ' Tuja majha jamena' which revolves around lives of typical 'Marathi- Brahman (ko'bra and de'bra)' families and there are scenarios (and digs) that many of us are familiar with.
It was in one of the serials that I came across the 'poli/ chapati' debate again.
It is a cultural thing. In a typical Marathi Brahmin home, the everyday humble flat bread is referred to as Poli and in a non-brahmin home it is chapati (poli is strictly- puranpoli), as you have guessed by now.
I put this question on my FB Page too. check it out!

I don't care what it is called, but I do have a preference. I like fulkas more than poli or chapati.
So what is the difference? Well, here are my 2 c. When I make a poli /chapati, I roll a bit of the dough into a small disc, brush with some oil and fold it into a triangle, dust with flour and roll into a round flat bread ( yep, roll the triangle into a round disc- and yes, it is possible, with a bit of practice) and roast it on a hot tawa, one can drizzle a few drops of oil while roasting the flat-bread or brush with home made ghee once it is done.

Whereas a fulka, is the simpler (and healthier) version, just roll a lime sized ball of dough into a round disc and roast on a hot tawa and then flame toast it. A slight variation in the cooking technique as compared to the regular poli / chapati.

The ingredients are the same, wheat flour, water, salt and oil- being optional, whether you make poli / chapati or a fulka.

Here is what you need:
* I have watched my Mother and Grandmother make these for so many years that I do not have exact measurement. The trick is to make a supple dough. Add water slowly and mix as you do. Knead, knead and knead some more, the dough should be soft and smooth ( like a baby's bottom)

(this proportion should make about 8-10 fulkas. This also depends on the size of the dough ball, I am giving an estimate)

2 Cups Wheat Flour ( I prefer Aashirwaad Brand)
Water
2 hefty pinches salt
A Drizzle of oil ( optional)

In a  mixing bowl add the wheat flour and salt and mix.
Slowly add water ( Make a well in the middle and add water) and mix flour and water to knead  the mix into a soft and pliable dough.

At first the dough is very sticky and seems un-manageable. Relax, and knead. The more you knead, the softer and smoother it will get. I dust my hands with flour and remove all the bits of dough clinging to my fingers and knead it into the big dough ball. No wastage.

Alternatively, use your food processor. Add the flour and salt and pulse. With the food processor still running, slowly add water.
This takes a bit of getting used to and getting the quantity of water right. I found that I do not estimate it well and end up using too much water and then  had to add flour, all in all ended up with twice and a bit more times the dough I wanted! but once you have the quantities in place,  it is a breeze to use !

Once the dough is ready, cover and keep it aside for at least 10-15 mins.

When you are ready to make fulkas, keep everything you need at hand.
The rolling pin ( latna) , Rolling board ( polpaat), Griddle (tawa), and if like me, you have a stove ( coil), you might want to buy 'fulka/ papad roaster' it is like a grill ( picture below). Wheat flour for dusting.

To begin, make small (lime sized) balls of the dough and keep them in the mixing bowl.
Set the griddle on medium - high

Dredge one dough ball in flour and place it on the rolling board ( see picture below)

Applying even pressure, start rolling the dough. Dust with additional flour as required to keep the dough ball from sticking to the rolling board. Since the dough ball is small, the fulka will be  a small one, 5-6" only. Ideally, the fulka should be paper thin. This is not easily manageable in the initial attempts, but it gets easier with practice.


Carefully transfer the fulka on to the hot skillet. Cook on the first side for about 20 seconds, you will see the dough bubble up ever so slightly and the fulka will be dry on the slightly cooked side ( picture below). At this point, flip it over and cook the second side. Cook this, 2nd. side, well ( until warm brown  spots appear) 

At this point, when the second side is well cooked place it- the 20 second side cooked down- on the grill and let it puff up ( if that sounds confusing, check out the picture below)


Hang on, it still has capacity to balloon up!


THERE!  This is how you want your fulka! All puffed up and balloon like!

Remove from the grill / roaster and smear with ghee (calorie conscious people will tut-tut, but I assure you, that smidgen of ghee takes the fulka to a new high and also keeps it soft, longer) and serve with a vegetable side of our choice or even sweet.


* Notes:
Roll the flat bread using even and gentle pressure

Toast on medium high ( I use number 7 or 8 on my stove)

Adding salt to the flour is optional, but I always do, IMO, it enhances the taste.

I keep the fulkas wrapped in tissue paper, this absorbs the steam and keeps the fulkas soft, longer. Alternatively, use cheesecloth or an old but washed handkerchief.

To re-heat any left over fulkas, pat a tissue paper / handkerchief with water and make it damp. Place the fulkas in it and close on all sides and nuke it in the microwave for 20-25 seconds. 
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mommy, I want a Cheese Burger Cake!

I have questioned, I have doubted, I have spent sleepless nights, shed tears  and laughed out loud, loved with all my heart and soul... for 5 years, I  have been up and down this roller coaster, every day and loved it.

The young 'un turned 5, so very quickly. From butter ball to a smart and handsome boy with a merry twinkle in his eye.

We celebrated his birthday in a quiet way at home as it was a weekday and the poor baby was unwell, a day earlier, he had 'water and sand day' in school and he caught the bug there. The nurse called me  from her office saying that he had thrown up and was running a temperature. I rushed to school, full of anxiety, he was sleeping in the nurse's office, curled up, looking tiny and his backpack on his shoulders and a paper crown on his head ( he distributed treat bags on that day as it was a holiday on his birthday and the teacher fitted him with the usual paper birthday boy crown and everyone sang the birthday song). 
I felt a stab of pain, looking at him, laying down on his side, the nurse could have had some sense and taken his backpack off his back! I gently lifted him in my arms and he hugged me  and lay his hot, fevered brow  against my neck and said,  "it was the Popsicles Mommy, they made me eku (throw up)".

A day later, on his birthday, he was better, but weak and no appetite. but he wanted to cut a cake! 
So when he was napping, I made a small cake, no fuss, and quick (we had planned a party over the weekend with his little friends and their families)



This was a simple layered Vanilla cake layered with whipped and cream cheese frosting and strawberry jam/ jelly, the chocolate words were made by melting candy melts, putting the melted chocolate in a piping bag and tracing the letters.

By the day of the party, he was fine and up to his usual antics! For once, I did not complain, well, not too much and only once threatened to 'cancel the party if you do not stop jumping from chair to sofa'. What can I say in my defense? I had a lot on my hands, with his illness, the party planning, prepping....

This year, he wanted a Cheese Burger Cake. Unlike most 5 year olds, who want a super hero cake, my sonny boy had cheese burger on his mind. we took inspiration from youtube- Rosanna Pansino, a video that my son watched, repeatedly, fascinated, first because of the cat and later for the cake.

The idea of the cheese burger had taken firm hold. I was happy, this is an easy cake to make!
Here is a look at the cake, just as I finished it, right in time for the party (minutes before the party, actually!)


I used 2 Butter cake (box) mixes.

The bottom of the 'bun' was baked in a 9 inch round pan as was the brownie 'meat patty'
The top of the Burger bun posed a challenge, the 2 quart Pyrex bowl was not big enough, so I used a 'Kadhai'(Indian wok) that I have. It was a perfect fit (whew!)

The cakes and the brownie patty were cooled. The cakes had to be leveled. The Frosting was my usual,whipped and cream cheese frosting.
The frosting is perfect for us, it has slight tanginess that is not unwelcome, it is mildly sweet and light and airy, unlike butter cream frosting that uses a high ratio of butter to sugar ratio (1:4), yikes!
The cream cheese gives it sturdiness and the frosting did not melt or misbehave in any way, despite the heat.

I used Wilton's Brown color and added it slowly to the cream to get a tan shade to resemble a bun.
I skipped the 'sesame seeds' on the bun as I could not find any candy coated sunflower seeds and felt no inclination to make any at home.

The 'lettuce, tomato and cheese' slices were fruit roll ups ( found in any grocery store), I used a leaf pattern cutter (from my Wilton kit) and pulled the leaf a bit to give it a lettuce-y look and round cutter (use any cookie cutter) to cut out the tomato slices.

Notes:

  1. Bake the cakes and brownie a day ahead. chill in the fridge and then level. this reduces the crumbs
  2. Brush the cakes (leveled side) with a simple sugar-water mix, to seal in the crumbs and keep the cake moist. don't overdo it.
  3. Chill the mixer bowl and beaters in the freezer until you are ready to frost.
  4. Pull out the heavy cream and cream cheese at the last moment.
  5. Frost the round cake ( bottom part of the burger bun)  and place the brownie 'patty' on top. make sure the patty and cake are aligned perfectly.
  6. Gently, place the 'lettuce leaves' under the brownie patty .
  7. Alternate the 'tomato' and 'cheese' on the brownie and press the corners to make them stick ( they will stick as the fruit roll ups are - well, sticky)
  8. Frost the top Bun, separately and use a big, flat spatula ( pancake spatula) to pick up the bun and VERY carefully place it on the brownie patty, aligning it perfectly, you get one chance to get it right! 
  9. Top with candy coated sunflower seeds, this is optional.



The cake was a hit and most importantly, the Birthday Boy was thrilled! His eyes reflected the  happiness and I felt like I had won a billion dollar lottery!

Our guests made the party really special with their wholehearted participation and the love and good wishes they showered on the birthday boy (and the generous gifts they gave made him one happy boy!)

Here are a few pictures of the party I'd like to share with you all and a small flashback ( thanks to my Mom!)
The Venue ( left) and our little guests ready to play games (right)

Flashback! 
Enjoy the rest of the week! See you soon.
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