Thursday, September 23, 2010

A peep in to my world- My Kitchen

If you ask M about my whereabouts, his reply would be, " she's in the kitchen". If I am not running around S, I am in the kitchen. 
So when Nupur let us peep into her kitchen and invited us to reveal our kitchens, it was an invitation I could not pass up. 
When I moved to this new apartment, I had swapped it for a galley kitchen, slightly larger than the current one, a  fridge in the apartment and most importantly, a gas stove.
I was lucky that a friend was moving to India and she sold me her fridge just as I moved in.
So here I am , with a new kitchen with an electric stove, and  still loving it all (much to my surprise- I mean about the stove)
My kitchen at a glance

The counter space I have available is just around the stove 

I also want to take this chance to show off to you guys my NEW  SUMEET MIXIE!! My Parents gifted me this 'must have' on my recent trip to India. My parents are the GREATEST! 
I try to keep the counter tops uncluttered, but since I have very little space, I have to place a few things within easy reach. So right next to the stove is my 'Masala Dabba/ Spice Box' and a small plastic container with  wheat flour(used for dusting when rolling chapatis), underneath the rack is a packet of wet wipes to clean up the space after I am done cooking and next to it is an orange tub, I use that when I am chopping up something to discard stems, covers, peels etc. 

Now with a small kitchen and tiny counter tops, you might wonder how I make  rotis/ chapatis.. well, I have  this small rolling island, which doubles up as a medium to roll the rotis and  storage, I keep some cook books  and my electric rice cooker on it and I roll into the tiny kitchen when I want to make rotis,

Like so... 

One thing that was  in favor of this kitchen was the dishwasher, it may surprise many  of you however, this is my first kitchen with a dishwasher.
The storage near the stove is  full of the usual grocery items, pots and pans, crockery. I do have a narrow pantry, but it is useless as it is has no shelves, just one big cavity. I am planning to get the manager to put in a couple of shelves, if he will..

I can look into the living room from the kitchen and keep an eye on S as he plays  or chat with M as he works or relaxes.
What I love about my kitchen is that I have trimmed some stuff and I have also firmly decided  that I will not buy something unless I REALLY need it and in the process, I will try to throw out / donate something old and  unwanted , before I bring in the new item. I will try and maintain the balance and the manageability.

So here we are, at the end of the tour.  Have you clicked to join Nupur's party?
I am looking forward to all the entries. A peep into  your kitchen, to see where all the fantastic recipes are churned out!
See you all soon at the link party! Have a great weekend! Pin It

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dudhi Kofta Curry

I was in the mood to cook (as always) but the weekend was different, we have this cloudy days with a slight mist rolling in, in the evenings weather and that makes it perfect for eating something warm, comforting and deep fried! Making fritters was not on my mind however, I had mentally bookmarked 'Doodhi Kofta Curry' a few months ago and finally got down to making it this weekend.  After I had gotten over my 'Aloo Palak' and 'Chana Masala' ordering days I was open to most vegetables(except baingan anything) and then came the 'kofta' phase. I fell in love with vegetable balls, as I called them, covered with a tomato-ey gravy. A kofta disguises the vegetables so cleverly.. makes it a bhajji /fritter I used to tell myself, so who wouldn't want to eat  something as yummy as this? But this does not get made at home much. it does involve a lot of work and most importantly a lot of deep frying, which all of us tend to shy away from.

I have recently moved to a new apartment and  while there are good things with this apartment, the only minus was , it has an electric stove. I had given up my gas stove and settled for this vastly inferior coil stove. Oh well, you win some .....  yada, yada.
I have now learnt to use it well ( pat myself on the back) and find that I need not grumble over it as much, except  on those occasions when the tea boils over and spatters over the surface and smells like the California wildfires and emits as much smoke. I feel justified in using a few of the juiciest and choicest swear words and mopping up the remains and getting on with it.

To move on to the star feature of this post... Dudhi/Lauki / Bottle gourd/Opo squash takes on a completely different avatar in this curry and transforms into crisp dumplings which absorb the flavors of the gravy and make every bite a delight and leave you (and your guests, if you make this when you invite some one over) wanting more and asking for the exact recipe. I know my friends did! 

For the Dumplings:

2 lbs. Bottle Gourd / Doodhi
2 tsp.  kosher /sea salt
1 small Red Onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs, raw Cashew nuts
4 large cloves Garlic
4 lengthwise slices , Fresh Ginger (2" l x1" W x 1/2 " t)
4 fresh Green Thai  or Serrano chiles
1/4 cup Chickpea Flour / Besan
2 Tbs. Rice Flour
2 Tbs. finely chopped Cilantro
Oil, to deep fry

For the Sauce:
2 Tbs. Ghee or Canola oil
1 tsp. Cumin / Jeera seeds
1 small Red Onion, coarsely chopped
4 fresh Green Thai  or Serrano chiles
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes
2 Tbs. EACH Raw cashew nuts and Golden Raisins
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Turmeric
1/2 cup Half and Half
1 tsp. Punjabi Garam Masala
2 Tbs. Finely chopped Fresh Cilantro

To make the dumplings: cut and discard the stem and heel ends of the  squash. Peel the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the  seeds and spongy mass leaving being firm pale green 'boats'.
Shred the squash using a food processor or box grater. collect the shreds in a medium size bowl and mix in the salt. Allow the squash mixture yo stand for about 30 minutes to release its liquid.

Meanwhile, place the onion, cashews, garlic, ginger and chiles in a food processor and pulse to form a slightly chunky blend

Grab a handful of the shredded squash and squeeze tightly between the palms of your hand to drain the liquid completely. Transfer the squeezed squash to another bowl and  repeat this for the remaining squash. Discard the drained liquid.
At this stage I usually start with heating the oil ( on medium eat) to deep fry the dumplings. 

Add the minced onion mixture and sprinkle in the two flours and cilantro.Combine quickly to make a slightly wet batter. Take a Tbsp. of the batter and  condense it in the palm of your hand to form balls. You should get about 25 rounds. (the longer you let the batter rest the more liquid the squash will continue to leach making it impossible to handle. If you add more flour, it will make it manageable but also will make the dumplings dense).

Line a cookie sheet with  3-4 sheets of paper towels. Once the oil is ready, gently slide in the dumplings into the wok, without over crowding the pan. 
Fry turning occasionally until they are honey brown and crisp. Remove them with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on the paper towels. Repeat for the remaining dumplings

To make the sauce: Heat Ghee in a large sauce pan / wok over medium - high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle. Immediately add the onions, cashews, chiles and raisins. Stir-fry until the onions are dark brown, the chiles pungent and the cashews have turned honey brown and the raisins have swelled and darkened, about 5 mins. 
Add the Tomatoes, salt and turmeric to the sauce, stirring once or twice.
Then transfer the mixture to a blender jar and puree, scraping the inside of the jar as needed to make a smooth and spicy red sauce,Pour this back into the wok / pan. Pour 1/2 cup of water in the blender jar and swish it around to wash it out.  Add this to the pan. Stir in the half and half and garam masala.

Gently add the dumplings to the sauce, making sure they do not break apart. Heat the curry over medium- high  until the sauce starts to bubble. Then lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer until the dumplings are warmed through and have absorbed some of the sauce, about 5 mins. 
Do NOT stir the sauce, for fear of breaking the dumplings) Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

*The koftas and the sauce can be made a day in advance and kept separate. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Heat the sauce  over med- high heat and  then add dumplings as in the step above, to serve.
*Zucchini can be used in place of bottle gourd. it does not need peeling or seed removal, just cut the stem and heel and grate.
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Masala Paav

I am back home in Los Angeles. Oh how glad I am! While I liked Peoria (IL) where we had temporarily re-located, I missed all the conveniences of home, like walking to the stores ( Indian stores at a stones throw, it don't get better than this) , meeting friends, going to the park with S, going for a drive and cooking in a regular kitchen.
We are more or less settled in the new apartment, less... of furniture,that is. Just before our India trip, we donated all our furniture, save the bed. The apartment as of now is a blank canvas. I kept  the kitchen stuff as is, I am NOT parting with that! Moreover, in this new apartment, I have a stove [:(] as opposed to the gas in the previous apartment. Well, you win some and you lose some.
Now that I am back home, I feel like cooking and hunger pangs in the evening, on weekends, assert themselves. I crave Mumbai junk food. While I am wary of deep frying, I am not opposed to the array of other snacks that have been a part of growing up in Mumbai. One such snack is Masala Paav. 
Those who are fond of Paav - Bhaji (who isn't?) are familiar with Masala Paav. Masala paav is basically a paav with pav bhaji masala (sans the  potato, cauliflower and peas) stuffed in the middle. where paav-bhaji is filling, masala paav makes a not-so-stuffy snack.
I remember eating Masala paav at DP's (Durga Parmeshwari's - Matunga, Mumbai) opposite my college. A dwindling pocket money scenario made this snack all the more tempting. Specially in the monsoon season.
Sometimes I feel sunny weather is wasted on me. I LOVE rainy days. I like waking up and looking at overcast skies and hoping for rain. 
Heavy rains, masala paav and steaming cup of masala chai = Happiness!  Add a book in one hand, couldn't ask for more! 

I use these mini buns  for making Masala Paav, when I can get them easily at the store. Otherwise the regular Burger bun works fine too, except that the filling is sufficient for 4 burger buns.

You need:
4 Burger buns ( about 6 mini buns)
2 Tbs. Butter

For the filling / stuffing:
1 large Onion, finely chopped
2 large Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
2 fat cloves, Garlic
1/2 tsp. Red chili powder 
Pinch Turmeric
3/4 tsp Pav-bhaji masala ( I used Everest Brand)
2 Tbs. Oil or Butter
Salt to taste
2-3 tbs. Cilantro finely chopped

Heat oil/butter in a kadhai/ wok on med-high
Add onion and bell pepper and sauté till onion is transparent and the bell pepper is soft
Add the chopped garlic and sauté till the garlic turns golden brown and the raw smell disappears
Add the tomatoes and cook till they are are soft and mushy
Add the red chili powder ,turmeric salt
Mix well and cook for a minute
Now add the Paav-bhaji masala and mix well and cook till the mixture will comes together
The mixture should not be runny (from the juice of the tomatoes)
Add the cilantro and turn off the heat.

Heat a skillet and butter the buns on the inside and brush a bit of the butter on the top and bottom of the bun
lay the buns on the hot skillet and toast them to a light golden brown on the inside and just briefly on the outside
Scoop a portion of the filling onto the bottom bun and cover with the top. Press down lightly.Serve hot with lime wedges ( optional for those who want the extra tang)

*Verdict: These make a lovely evening snack but rather on the mild side and even little ones can try, as you can see. Next time I will try increasing the  paav-bhaji masala to 1 tsp. and red chili powder to 3/4 tsp. 
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