Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Upma : Dabba Recipe

Recipe for Beginners : For those who haven't entered the kitchen, this recipe is a saviour when you are put in the situation ! Upma is a common breakfast dish in south India. Less oil, less time, less preparation !!!! It tastes great just as it is, or you can even serve it with pickle ( especially lime) or even with corriander or coconut chutney. Some even add sev or bhujia to it, just to add the taste ! Upma is a hot favourite as it can be eaten even as a snack, it surely fills you for long hours.

Fire in the Kitchen : Indian cooking = Onions !!! Onion adds taste to every dish we make :) Every curry, sabzi or daal does require onion as an ingredient. With the rising onion prices in India, poor cooks/chefs/mothers have to think of alternative recipes that can be cooked without onions. Onion is also an important ingredient in breakfast recipes including upma. I always made upma with onions and tomatoes, and sometimes adding 1 or 2 vegetable for nutritional benefits. Now that i have to pack breakfast tiffin everyday for my husband, i have to think of alternate recipes too without using onions! Managing monthly budget is hell of a task!!!!!!! So, here's Upma( cooked without onions ), a hot cup of coffee ( served in my favourite mug) and Newspaper.... A Lovely Morning is here :)

Ingredients :

Rava ( Suji ) - 1 cup ( dry roasted. You can even dry roast in bulk and store in air tight container and use as and when required )
Green chillies - 2/3 ( chopped finely )
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Ginger - 1 inch piece (grated or chopped finely )
Peanuts - 2 tbsp ( roast and remove skin)
Carrot - 1 ( peeled and grated )
Green peas - 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste
Ghee- 1 tbsp
Water - 2 cups
Coconut - 1 tsp ( grated ) Optional. To garnish
Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup ( this adds freshness and aroma to the dish ) to garnish
You can even add curry leaves, cumin seeds, split urad daal or split chana daal if u wish.

Recipe :

Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the green chillies. (If adding curry leaves, and the daal, add now and saute till brown ). Saute for 30 secs and then add the peanuts.
Saute for a minute.
Add green peas and grated carrots and fry for 2-3 minutes.
Now add the water to the pan and let it come to a boil on high flame.
Reduce the flame to minimum and slowly add rava. Stir so that no lumps are found.
Keep stirring till the mixture thickens.

Garnish with grated coconut and corriander leaves. Always serve hot.. It doesn't taste great when cold.

Happy Cooking :)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Vada Paav : Amchi Mumbai Street Food

Bollywood Fever : "Bollywood runs in your veins" That's how i am known as!!!:) Just as life is always shown as a fairy-tale in the movies, i take life as the same ! Its fun, when u sing and dance to a situation, rather than just think and crib about it ! Life is bollywood, you have all the emotions - humour, happiness, joy, thrill, fear- the list goes on !! After all, movies are inspired from real life and situations, right?

I always love to associate a situation with a song. Like just when i think of vada paav, what comes to my mind is the funniest song and dance Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dikshit danced to, in the film Hifazat. "Bata-ta Va-da"... Thats the song!!! I am sure not many know of the song, but its hilarious watching both the actors ( now superstars) dancing some real funny steps in some real funny costumes, and i wonder how they associated Batata Vada with romancing. As the lyrics go, " Dil nahi dena tha, Dena pada....Pyaar nahi karna tha, karna pada "... A must watch !!! Here is the link....

Batata Vada is a popular snack in Maharashtra. In south of India, it is is also called Potato Bonda. Batata means Potato in Maharashtrian language spoken across Maharashtra. The stuffing varies from place to place, and the vada tastes different even in different parts of Maharashtra. 

 Is it "The Indian Burger" :  Vada paav is commonly known as "The Indian Burger",but i don't like to associate Vada Paav with the burger. I feel, both taste very different. And being a true mumbaiite, i am biased towards "Vada Paav". It has such a distinct flavour, taste, and colour. It nowhere matches the burger! A few differences to state :
First and foremost, the paav and the burger buns taste so different. I think, that's what makes it unique. The stuffing is different too. Vadas have a distinct flavour of potatoes and ginger/garlic, while burgers taste more like a "patty" or a cutlet. 
The outer covering is different too. Potatoes dipped in gram flour batter and deep fried gives them a thick covering, while in burgers, the patty is shallow fried or sometimes even baked/grilled and doesn't have any extra coating.
I truly vote for not calling it "The Indian Burger". How about you?

Missing Mumbai : Every state/ region/ city have their own share of famous food and especially the street food. From the time i have shifted to New Delhi, i enjoy having the "Bunta" and the "Aloo tikki chaat", "Moong daal vada plate served with green chutney and onions ", The "MOMOS served with spicy red chutney". Each of it sounds yummyliscious...But i still miss our mumbai street food of "Paav Bhaaji", "Vada Paav" and "Daabeli". Getting vada paav in Delhi is quite rare. To add to that, the paav taste like sweet buns! Paav taste just the way they are, only in western India. So, during my visit to mumbai twice in a year, the first thing i did when i landed was to have a vada paav :)
And then, I had a chance to have it in Delhi !!! Recently, i became a member of a Food Forum and a friend from there travelling back home to Delhi from Mumbai, got me some "paav". So i decided to make "Batata vadas" right away and enjoy our Mumbai street food right here at our Delhi home :)
So, here's a special thanks to my friend Rajiv Iyer and also to hubby dearest who went and picked "The Laadi Paav" from Rajiv :)))

Ingredients :

Potatoes - 2 medium ( Boiled )
Ginger  - 1 /2 inch chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves
Green chillies - 2 (chopped finely)
Oil - 1 tsp + for frying
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves - a few
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp (optional)
Urad daal - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp + 1/4 tsp ( Batter)
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Besan ( Gram flour) - 3/4 cup

Recipe :

Skin the boiled potatoes and mash them.
Pound the chopped green chilli, ginger and garlic using a mortar and pestle.

Add 1 tsp oil to a pan, add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the asafoetida and curry leaves. Add the urad daal and saute for a minute till it becomes brown.
Then add chilli-ginger-garlic paste and saute for another minute.
Add the mashed potatoes, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and salt.
Mix it all well, and cook till the mixture becomes a thick ball.
Let it cool. Apply little oil on your palms and make 4 round balls of the mixture.

Meanwhile, combine the Besan , 1/4 tsp turmeric, salt (to taste) and add water to make it a smooth thick mixture. Make sure the mixture doesn't get too thin, so add water little by little. The mixture should be thick enough to form a nice coating to the potato balls.

Heat oil in a kadhai for deep frying the vadas. Dip the potato balls into the batter and fry them in the kadhai till light brown.

Slice a paav into half and you can add any chutney of your liking to the paav. ( Green corriander mint chutney, dry garlic chutney, coconut chutney, tomato sauce...) Place the vada in between like a sandwich.

Enjoy the vada paav along with fried green chillies for a super spicy combination.

Happy Cooking :)

Friday, 22 November 2013

Stuffed Cabbage Roll : Something "Exotic"?

Honey, Make something Exotic : When i keep watching some cookery show program on TV, or some food channel, my husband always asks me to make something "Exotic" like they show on the TV...There were a few recipes that i tried after noting them down, but the presentation shown on television is somehow always better than the one we make at home... The same way, i had always wondered why home cooked food doesn't taste like the ones served in restaurants. There is always a taste difference...No doubt, that home cooked food is always healthier and delicious, we still love to eat out, for the change of taste and for the excitement of trying something new and "exotic" ! Exotic literally means "Out of ordinary" or something "different". Exotic in cooking would mean, making something which we don't eat everyday or cooking something with ingredients not commonly found. And yes, i always wanted to make something like that....

Inspired by Little MasterChef : The show on one of the leading Indian television channel is a hit with all the foodies and the Mommy's. With cute little kids posing as chefs and cooking a given dish, putting in their creativity and managing to make something different everytime in a given period of time is fun to watch! Kids really add a different taste to the whole show. On one such show, i saw the kids making red cabbage rolls with prawn filling. And though, they don't show the recipe anytime, i just put "2 and 2" together and thought of trying it at home with my version of vegetables. And not only did it taste good, it looked "Exotic" too :) That's something that made my husband happy :)

We are not much of a "Cabbage sabzi" fans, so when we buy cabbage, we normally make Cabbage Parathas or this dish now. Red cabbage is hard to find here, so i tried it with the green cabbage. This is like a complete dish in itself ( when served with sauce ) and filling too, or you can serve it as a starter( without the sauce), or as a dish to be eaten with Rotis or Parathas. Stuffed Cabbage rolls is a common dish in eastern Europe and the stuffing varies from region to region, with the dominant ingredient being meat. You can also add chicken or any other vegetable of your choice to the stuffing. Be as creative as you can :) 

Ingredients :

Potatoes - 3 medium sized ( boiled and chopped )
Carrots - 1 small ( chopped into dices and boiled )
Cauliflower florets - 1 cup ( boiled )
Green peas ( 1/2 cup boiled ) - optional.
Onion - 2 medium size ( chopped finely )
Garlic - 5 ( chopped finely )
Milk - 1/2 cup
Butter - 1 tbsp
Nutmeg - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp ( you can alternatively add green chillies chopped finely )
Cabbage leaves - 6 big ones ( make sure when you take out those leaves, they are not torn and stiff)
Cream - 1/2 cup
Tomato paste/Ketchup - 1/2 cup
Corriander leaves - to garnish
Thread - to tie the leaves
Salt - to taste
And of course Pepper.... It makes any dish yummy :) Add according to taste

Recipe :

When you boil the vegetables, save the vegetable stock. We would require it later ( around 1/2- 3/4 cup).
Heat Butter in a pan, add milk to it. Add the boiled potatoes and mash it well. Cover and cook it for 2 minutes. 
Then add the boiled cauliflower and carrots ( and/or any other vegetable of your choice) and mix it all well. Let it cook covered for another 2 minutes. 
Then add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Mix it all well and then add the chopped garlic and half of the chopped onions. Let it cook till everything mixes well. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool.

Boil water in a big bowl, and put the cabbage leaves in it.( Make sure the leaves are entirely immersed in water). Allow it to cook till the leaves soften ( takes around 10-12 minutes )... don't boil the leaves too soft, otherwise it would be difficult to make a roll later on. The leaves start changing colour, that's when you see that they are cooked.
Take them out and place them under cold water for a minute.

Now, as shown, take the cabbage leaf and put around 1-2 tbsp of stuffing in the center.

Fold the side leaf from both sides into center, so the stuffing is packed inside well. Make sure you do it carefully without tearing the leaf apart.

Now wrap the cabbage roll with a thread in the middle and around the sides.

Once you make all the rolls ready, heat a pan with 1 tbsp oil or butter and place the rolls into the pan, fry one side till it gets golden brown colour and turn and fry on the other side well till it gets the same colour. Remove the rolls when done.

In the same pan, add half of the onions kept aside. Add around 1/2- 3/4 cup veg stock, and the tomato paste. Let it come to a boil. Then add the cream and some salt and pepper. Cook till it becomes a nice creamy thick sauce.

Place the rolls in a plate and put the sauce on top. Garnish with some Corriander leaves :)

Your "Exotic" dish is ready!!!!

Happy Cooking :)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Homemade Tea Masala : Ek Garam Chai Ki Pyali Ho...

Being a non tea drinker, the only thing that that tea (or chai as it is commonly known as worldwide now) reminds me of, is watching the Bollywood actor Salman Khan slurping a cup of tea and then dancing showing off his muscular body, along with a bunch of girls wearing beachwear on some remote beach!!! I used to enjoy this song " Ek garam chai ki pyali ho" as a child, but never really understood the connection between a beach and tea..Maybe what they wanted to convey was " hotness" and that's why they had those hot girls dancing in beachwear!!! Nevertheless, Salman Khan songs and movies are always a stress-buster and full of entertainment, one need not scratch the brains finding a "meaning" behind it all. 

Chocolate tea, kid? : Coming from a family of tea-drinkers at literally any time of the day... yes, there is no "morning" tea funda in our home. All my family members, including my extended family and relatives, love tea and i was always the odd one out ! I have never tasted tea... i always had milk as a child and then slowly, i developed the taste for coffee. I remember, when once our family, a group of almost 28 people, had gone for a holiday to Ooty, it was winter time! Everyone relished the different types of flavoured teas available there ( there was clove, fennel seeds, ginger, cinnamom, bay leaves.. the list went on ). Knowing i was the only one not liking tea, the shopkeeper had proposed to offer me "chocolate tea" ( i was a kid back then, so he thought i would of course love chocolate flavour ). I was adamant till the end and didn't taste even a sip of it !!!

Post my marraige, i learnt that, at my in-laws' place, they always had tea with freshly grated ginger. I also remember my mother adding ginger, or sometimes elaichi ( cardamom ) to the tea to add flavour. My mother-in-law gave me a homemade tea masala and also its recipe when i was coming to Delhi. She mentioned, it tastes great even with coffee. Though i have never tasted it with coffee, my husband ( he loves drinking tea 2-3 times a day when he's home) loves this masala. I have had this once with warm milk when i was feeling "under the weather". And i truly vouch for this one! So this one is dedicated to my "Mother- in -law" :)

Me, The "Chaiwaali " : I made this masala chai for one of my husband's friend who visited us one morning and he loved it so much, that he has placed an order to make it in bulk and give him !!!!
I think i should seriously think of it as a business idea and market myself as the "Chaiwaali"...:)

Ingredients :

You can either mix all the powders ( readily available in market ) or use the whole spices and grind them yourself in a grinder. I prefer grinding it myself.

Dried ginger powder - 5 tbsp ( Its easy if you buy this in powder form )
Cardamom seeds - 2 tbsp ( you can even add the few shell covers for taste,i did )
Nutmeg - 1 tsp grated ( Nutmeg loses its aroma very fast when its ground, so always grind the whole nutmeg when needed instead of buying the powder form )
Cloves - 1 tsp
Whole black pepper - 3 tbsp ( This really gives a kick to the tea, so adjust the spice according to taste)
Cinnamon - 3 tsp
Saffron - a few strands 

Recipe :

Grind the whole black pepper, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom seeds to a fine powder. Make sure the powder is really fine.
Then add the dried ginger powder, saffron strands and nutmeg powder and mix it well together.
Winters are here...and what better way to start your day with a hot cup of aromatic chai with this spicy masala served as bed tea when you are still tucked in the blanket :) You can experiment adding honey or jaggery instead of sugar if u like, or just add a teaspoonful to the boiling tea or when the tea is ready. It is in powdered form, so it mixes well with the tea. Also making your masala at home ensures quality, and morever you get a "chai latte" or "masala chai" at the most reasonable price than all the coffee shops :)
Happy Cooking :)

Friday, 15 November 2013

Gulkand Chocolates

Being a Home-Science student, i had learnt to bake cakes and pastries in my college. But i had never tried my hand at chocolates  Chocolate making always seemed tough to me, until i tried making them a couple of days back for our biggest festival, Diwali. We often make chaklis, chiwda, sev and ladoos and karanjis as sweets in Diwali. That's the traditional "Faraal" as we call it ! This time, i left all the "Faraal- making" to my mother, and i thought of making something different! Gulkand chocolates were one of it ! I remember seeing one of my elder cousin Anu Tai making chocolates at home, but i never really asked her the recipe ever. I was too young that time anyway and remember, Kitchen was a NO-NO for me ????!!!

This recipe was given to me by another cousin, who apparently took it  from her friend or internet ( i am not aware of it !)...she keeps sending me recipes to try out and this one was really mouth watering , as it has my favourite Gulkand in it :) Normally Gulkand is eaten in summer time as it has a cooling effect on the body. But as much a Gulkand fan that i am, i can eat Gulkand any time of the year. It anyways, has lots of benefits according to Ayurveda. Gulkand is basically a preserve of rose petals. Sugar and rose petals are arranged in layers and kept in sunlight for a particular number of days! So, Gulkand and chocolate surely seems a terrific combination that can be eaten anytime of the year :)

The Gulkand story : When i decided to make these, i first asked around my local shops if they keep Gulkand and i was told that i wont get it anywhere nearby and would have to travel almost an hour to buy it. I was literally this crazy "Gulkand searching Mumbaiite" going from shop to shop with my husband. In Mumbai, we get it in almost all neighborhood shops or even in Medical shops. It was strange for me that people don't eat Gulkand here in New Delhi ( where climates are extremes), or maybe it was just because of the season... Its beginning of winters and not many eat Gulkand in winters. A friend told me, i will get it at local "Paanwala" shop, but i was sure he would not give me the quantity that i require, and if at all he agrees, he will sell it at real high cost ! Plus i was not too sure of the quality that they use. 
I came home and searched online... some mentioned "Out of Stock", some "Delivery in 7 days " ( Didnt have that much time, as had to travel to Mumbai ) and in some websites, it was mandatory to order in Huge bulk quantities ( i even gave my husband the idea of starting Gulkand business... hehehe )
I had finally decided, that if i don't get Gulkand, i will substitute it with something else but luck was upon me ! I had to travel to meet a friend from San Francisco in an area which is the Center of Delhi (almost an hour from where i stay) and has lot of shops around, and just after our meeting, i asked in a shop there if they had Gulkand?? I was guided to a local small grocery store named "Kashmir Store" and Voila !!! They had only 2 bottles left!!! I immediately bought both of them...( though i have used only 1/2 bottle from it)...I was as happy that day as if i had discovered some hidden treasure !!!!

Finally, i was ready with all the ingredients to make these yummyliscious delicious chocolate khoya rolls stuffed with Gulkand  :)))

Ingredients :

Gulkand : 200 gms
Khoya / Mawa ( Fresh is always preferred...i luckily found a nice shop who make homemade mawa but you can use the packet one too) - 2 cups
Chocolate (Morde or any other compound chocolate ) - 3/4 cup ( grated). Its easy to grate compound chocolate when its taken just out of the fridge.
Powdered sugar - Just little to sprinkle
Cellophane paper or cling foil - to roll

Recipe  :

Saute Khoya in a non stick pan till it becomes soft. Only saute for 4-5 minutes. Do not let it melt. It should become soft.
Let it cool down and add 1/2 cup grated chocolate to it. Mix well.
Take a cellophane paper or a cling foil and sprinkle some powdered sugar and around 1/4 cup of grated chocolate ( or according to taste) on it. Spread the khoya mixture on it and keep the shape into a square. You can press the mixture with hands or with a spatula.Make sure there are no cracks in the mixture. Join them by hands if there are any.
Put Gulkand on the mixture evenly.
Now gently roll the Khoya with the cellophane paper first and then with hands, join all the sides. Its like a sandwich with Gulkand filling. Make sure the mixture is rolled tightly.
Refrigerate the roll for 3-4 hours or till firm.
Cut into pieces and your chocolates are ready :))

You can either make a big roll with all the mixture or you can make 2-3 rolls with small quantities of mixture. I made 3 small rolls with this quantity of ingredients. Its easier to refrigerate and to cut.

Happy Cooking :)