Friday, January 31, 2014

Ragi Masala Dosa

My kitchen has been seeing a lot of activity in January, the blog not so much. I am still in limbo about getting a new camera. Till then I am relying on my iPhone. 
And then I also realized something more this month, when I was reading Nupur's OHS, I have been reading only cookbooks or about baking. I haven't gone through the regular fiction at all, picked up books from a rack and enjoyed reading it at all. 
I have read cook books ( and I do love reading those, no complaints) and getting hooked to Netflix and watching some good and some senseless stuff. 
And I don't want that anymore. I'm going back to good ol' reading. Go back to reading page after page, chapter after chapter an turning pages , smelling the book... okay, that dd not come out right... creepy! 
But, you get the point.

This month I also experimented with baking an egg less cake and I am thrilled that it was a success! I am overcoming that hurdle too. It feels great. 

And after a long time, I made dosas. I really did. We love dosas but the grinding  daal and rice on a small mixie jar is no fun. I take shortcuts, a small one. I soak and grind the daal and just add flour to the daal paste. 
This time around, I used Ragi (Finger Millet) flour. The dosas are perfect. 


You need
1 cup skinned Urad Daal
2 cups Ragi flour ( easily available at the Indian store)
1 tsp Fennugreek seeds
Water as needed
Salt, to taste

Wash thoroughly and soak the Urad Daal, add the fenugreek seeds in plenty of water for 8 hours.
Drain the water and grind the daal to a smooth paste (to ensure a smooth paste, add fresh water as required).
Add the Ragi Flour and mix, adding water as required to get a pancake like batter.
At this stage, those who prefer to add salt to the batter, stir it in, mix well and leave the batter to ferment in a warm place.

If you haven't added salt tot he batter, add it at this stage and give the batter a quick stir, to incorporate. Do not stir too much.
To make dosa, heat a non stick griddle / tawa on medium high.
Take a ladle of batter and pour it in the middle of the tawa.
Applying gentle pressure, from the center, spread the batter in a large circle, to make a thin and even crepe.
Drizzle a scant tsp of oil, butter or ghee around the dosa and let it cook till crisp and brown (in this case, the shade in the picture above, the nutella like shade). Flip and cook on the other side for a minute ( I like my dosa well made- cooked on both sides)

If you are making masala dosa, flip the dosa over again ( because we have cooked it on both sides) add masala bhaji in the middle and roll into a log. If you prefer serving masala on the side, make a triangle ( or a cone- I can never do that) with the dosa and serve with chutney ( or this one or this ) and sambar.


For the MASALA: ( and you can eyeball the ingredients here)

1 large Russet Potato or 3-4 medium Red Potatoes , boiled, peeled and roughly mashed
1 medium Red Onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 fresh Green Chile
1 dry Red Chile, broken into two
1 tsp. each, Chana Daal and Urad daal
Few Curry Leaves
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Asafetida/ Hing
1 tsp Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Cilantro, finely chopped to garnish
A few Cashew nuts (optional)
1/4 cup frozen Green peas, thawed ( optional)

Heat oil in a pan.
Add mustard seeds, Chana and Urad daal.
As the mustard pops and the daals turn a golden brown, add cashew - if using and let it turn a light honey color.
Add the asafetida, chilies, curry leaves and turmeric powder. Add the sliced onion. Mix and cover until the onion is well cooked. adding a dash of salt when cooking the onion will speed up the cooking time. 
Once the onion is cooked, add the green peas and mashed potato. Add salt.
Mix well, cover and let cook for a couple of minutes. 
Take off the heat and garnish with cilantro.
The masala is ready to be stuffed ( or serve on the side) with the dosa.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

A baking adventure and Butter Cream Icing Recipe.

So! How is the new year treating you all? We are already in the third week of January and here I am.. a little late to be sure, but back, where I love being.
The weather has been good (though a little confused, I guess! I mean, this is Winter but, Dallas seems to think it's Spring already). We don't mind. 

It's too late for me to do a re-cap on 2013, so I will let that be, but I to want to highlight one thing.
2013 saw me baking and trying to decorate cakes. It started with a baby shower cake for an acquaintance who was expecting a little Princess and wanted a cake with flowers, almost like a bed of flowers with Mom and Baby in it.
Royal icing , gum paste decorations, flooding technique

I made the cake with 5 layers and with whipped and cream cheese frosting and a ton of royal icing flowers I made a cake topper ( The Mom and Baby in the stroller) out of gum paste and used flood icing  technique to color the cake topper.
The second cake was also a baby shower cake for a close friend who was due in September and was expecting a little Prince.
This was a layered chocolate cake with whipped cream in the layers and Whipped cream and cream cheese frosting. The cake was designed just like her baby shower invitation. I carefully cut the animal silhouette and traced it on parchment paper and then used it to make the animals. These were decorated using royal icing flooding technique. 

Royal icing , gum paste decorations, flooding technique

And in addition, a few more birthday cakes for friends or their spouses.I enjoyed that and in some remote corner of my mind, I started day-dreaming. Day-dreaming of doing this kind of thing often.
Then one day, I saw Sandra Lee do a show on some bake sale. Of course I day-dreamed of participating in one. Of course, I realized that it would not be as glamorous as hers, but that idea had taken root in my head.

Months passed, things happened and I fretted and fumed and cursed (a good bit) and life went on... school, homework, cooking and cleaning and some song-and-dance practice sessions thrown in between. Yes, you read right, song-and-dance, but for the son. It was a group performance for the DFW Maharashtra Mandal Sankrant Festival.
That was last Sunday.


But what made everything just, like.... like a dream come true was, an email I got from one of the Mom's in the group, she encouraged me to set up or participate in setting up a 'cupcake stall'. I was jumping around and biting my nails, all at once. After a bit of back and forth with her ( and constantly whatsapping M at work) I agreed.
I made my trusty vanilla and butter cupcakes. This time around, I made butter cream frosting (recipe below), which though on the sweeter side is a dream to decorate with and guess what? Everyone loved the frosting! 
I made regular cupcakes and then, as an experiment, I made 'cone cakes'. I made these using flat base ice-cream cones and filling them with the cake batter and baking them. They were a hit! They were sold out in minutes and  a few children were disappointed that they did not get any. (note to self: next time, whenever that is, make more 'cone cakes')


The regular cupcakes had a rose swirled on them (using the Wilton 1M tip) and then Sujata and I had made some pink butter cream roses, the night earlier, which were added on top.These were a hit with the little misses. 


My friend, Sonali, was a big help in coming to my aid on the day of the bake-sale, she helped me pack and sort and kept me motivated. 
M helped me haul everything to the venue and help set up and my Li'll S was my cashier. He was just perfect! A little over enthusiastic, maybe, but perfectly charming! 
He demanded tokens for the cupcakes people were just looking at, as I was decorating them, LOL! 

Overall, I am just so happy that everything went off so smoothly and was such a success. This little adventure has given me a bit of confidence in my abilities and that I can do something.
It has been a while since I felt like that. I have Smita, the mom from the group, to thank for it. I am glad she encouraged me to get into this.

I am looking forward to some more adventures like this! 

BUTTER CREAM FROSTING

2 sticks Unsalted Butter (at room temp.)
1 lb. Powdered Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 Tbsp Milk / Water

In a deep bowl or in the stand mixer bowl, add the butter sticks  and  beat on medium speed until the butter is soft and smooth.
With the beaters still going, slowly add the powdered sugar and combine.
Increase the speed a little and add the vanilla extract add milk / water (1 T at a time)
I sometimes add a hefty pinch of salt when I am making the icing. 
Beat until the whole thing comes together and looks smooth.
This icing has stiff consistency, perfect to pipe roses or other decorative flowers.

By adding water (a few drops at a time) you can change the consistency to medium which makes it perfect for swirling roses on top of the cupcake directly ( the white icing on the cupcakes in the picture above) or piping borders on cakes.

To make a thin consistency icing, add few drops of water, this is perfect to write on top of the cake.

That's it for this week and for my first post in 2014. Stay tuned for more, take care and keep smiling! 
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