Friday, 31 January 2014

Vegetable Pasta Bake

Olive Oil : During our visit to a renowned exhibition in Delhi, ( India International Trade Fair that is held every year) we took some real good information about Olive Oil, the uses of it and how it can be incorporated in Indian cooking from a chef who was at one of the food stalls. Olive oil surely does have a lot of health benefits. No doubt, it is costlier than our normal vegetable cooking oil, but the nutrients and health value is way at par. 

Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin E... so it can also be applied to skin and hair for enrichment. Consumption of Olive oil in food helps boost immune system and also helps fight diseases such as Cancer, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Obesity , Osteoporosis etc.

As told by the chef,
Olive Oil comes in 3 types :
Olive Pomace oil : Used for Indian cooking
Olive Virgin oil : Used for Italian and other dishes where cooking(heating) is involved
Extra Virgin Olive oil : This oil should not be heated and can be added to salads, pastas, as a dressing.

We got enthusiastic and bought a bottle of each and regularly use olive oil in our salads, sandwiches or Italian dishes.

One such yummy dish i made with Olive oil was the Baked Pasta. Husband is not much of a fan of Pasta, but i love it. I love all the Italian dishes - Risotto being my favourite ( Yes, i am going to learn to make it soon :)) But when i made this dish, and gave as a lunch tiffin to hubby, he loved it !!! It tastes just so yummy with all the herbs and cheese...

A must- try for all the Pasta Lovers...


Virgin Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Garlic - 1 tbsp ( chopped )
Onions ( can use spring onions too ) - 2 ( Sliced round and not too thin )
Tomatoes - 2 big  ( Boil a little, remove the skin and cut each into 4 parts )
Carrot - 1 ( chopped )
Mushroom - 3-4 ( cut into halves )
Corn - 1/4 cup ( cut into 3-4 pieces each ) ( You can also use baby corn instead of corn, around 3-4 )
Brinjal ( Optional ) - 1 ( Chopped into big pieces )
Cauliflower florets - 4-5 florets ( You can also use Broccoli instead of Cauliflower or both... Choice of vegetables is up to you... You can be as creative and even use Zucchini, Bell Peppers or any other vegetable )
Capsicum - 1-2 ( chopped )
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Bay leaf - 1
Mozzarella cheese - 4 tbsp ( Or as much as you want !!! Cheesy is yummm)
Tomato puree - 1/2 cup
Pasta ( Use any of your choice...) - 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste
Pepper :))) - To taste
Tulsi leaves - for Garnishing
Olives - for Garnishing
Oregano - To taste
Red chilli flakes - to taste
Extra Virgin Olive oil - to sprinkle on top

For the white sauce :
Butter - 1 tbsp
Maida ( All purpose flour ) - 1 tbsp
Milk - 1 cup
Garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Pepper - 1/2 tsp

Recipe :

Boil Pasta in 2.5 cups of water. Add little ( 1 tbsp) olive oil and salt to it while boiling. Once done, Drain and set aside. 

To make the white sauce, heat butter in a kadhai. Add the garlic paste and maida to it and saute for a minute. Now add the milk. Make sure there are no lumps formed of maida, when you add the milk, so stir while you add and add slowly. Now put the flame on high and cook it until it thickens and becomes like a sauce. Add salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a kadhai/ pan and add the chopped garlic. After about 30 secs, add the round sliced onions and saute it on high flame for about 1 minute. Now add the Mushroom and Carrots and stir fry it for another 3-4 minutes.

Now add the Cauliflower, Corn, Brinjal, Bay leaf, Tomatoes and mix it all well. Cook it ( covered ) for about 5 minutes.

Add the capsicum and tomato puree. Let it cook for another minute or two.

Now add the sugar, salt and pepper.

Lastly, add the boiled pasta into this vegetable mixture.

Grease a baking dish with olive oil.

Add the Pasta mixture to it.

Now add the white sauce.

Garnish with Tulsi leaves ( You can even use basil, or any other herb leaves ).Add the grated mozarella cheese.

Now add the oregano, red chilli flakes and sprinkle a few drops of Olive oil on top.

Preheat oven to 200 degree Celcius. Bake for 10-15 minutes. 

Yummy Baked veg Pasta is ready :))

Happy Cooking :)


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Basundi : Sweetened Milk

Anytime Dessert : Usually Basundi is made during festive time, but since hubby dearest is a big fan of this dessert, this has become an "Anytime Dessert" for us. We usually make it once a month ! It is made by reducing the milk to half. Basundi is a typical Maharashtrian dessert, and also made in some parts of Gujrat. In North India, the milk is further reduced and thickened and is served as Rabdi. Both Basundi and Rabdi taste delicious, the only difference being Basundi is a drink-based dessert and Rabdi has to be eaten with a spoon. 

The best taste of Basundi comes out when you make it with Full cream milk. Skimmed milk won't give you that better a taste, but if you have no option but to use skim milk, then add a little bit of cream ( Saay - the thick layer of cream on top of milk ) on top. 

This dessert does require a lot of time and patience to make, as the process is really slow. You have to reduce the milk to half on low flame. This takes about 45 minutes to an hour. And make sure you stir the milk in between, so it doesn't stick to the bottom or sides. 

Ingredients :

Full cream/ Whole Milk - 2 Litres
Sugar - Add according to taste, add little by little, taste and add more if required. We use around 1/2- 3/4 cup
Milkmaid - ( Optional )... you can put around 50 gms of Milkmaid to thicken it more and add sweetness. If adding Milkmaid, put only 1/2 cup sugar
Sliced almonds - For garnishing ( You can also add sliced pistachios )
Charoli - a few ( These are added traditionally, but if you don't have them, add any dry fruits or fruits of your choice - grapes,custard apple etc )
Kesar ( Saffron ) - a few strands ( This is also optional to get the colour )
Cardamom Powder - a pinch ( Optional )

Recipe :

Bring milk to boil in a non stick pan. Now reduce the heat to sim, and keep stirring it in between and reduce the milk to half. It will start thickening, and changing colour.
Now add the sugar. Keep stirring till the sugar dissolves in the milk.
Now add the saffron ( keep the strands soaked in warm milk beforehand )
If adding Milkmaid, add now and stir well and boil for some more time. If not, add the charoli and cardamom powder ( if adding ).

Basundi can be served warm or cold. Garnish with sliced almonds or Pitachios or both.

Easy to make, but require lot of time for the milk thickening. Slurp it up :))

Happy Cooking :)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Tilgul : Sesame jaggery ladoos

"Tilgul Ghya Goad Goad bola " : In my last post of GulPoli, i had mentioned about the Tilgul. These are also made on account of Makar Sankranti and are given to each other saying the phrase "Tilgul ghya goad goad bola" Meaning " Take this Til-gud ( The ladoo), and speak sweet". I don't know where this tradition of speaking such a phrase arrived from... If anyone knows, please let me know. As kids, saying the phrase and taking blessings from elders was just a formality...The eyes were glued to the ladoo in the other's hand..:)

No one can eat just one !!! : Its such a tempting ladoo, that you pop it in your mouth and you want to have more and more.... Its healthy during winters, ( because of sesame ), and jaggery adds to it...Much better than sugar!!! Our Mom used to hide the stacked Dabba from us, as we used to munch it throughout the day :)

Kutaache ladoo : This is my Mother's speciality. Normally, people make ladoos with whole sesame. But Mom makes this grinding the sesame to a fine powder and then adding jaggery and other ingredients. This one tastes toooo yummmy..And they are sooo simple to make...This is how she makes it :

Ingredients :

( Makes 30-35 ladoos )

Sesame powder : 4 cups ( Dry roast the sesame seeds and make it into a fine powder in mixer grinder )
Peanut powder - 3/4 cup ( Dry roast the peanuts, remove the skin and then grind it to a powder in mixer grinder )
Dry coconut powder - 1/2 cup ( Grate dry-coconut, dry roast it and make it into a fine powder in mixer grinder ) 
Jaggery - 1 n half cup ( Adjust according to taste how sweet you want it )
Ghee - 1/4 cup

Recipe :

Mix all the above mentioned ingredients well and make into small ladoos. Make sure the jaggery is fine and there are no chunks in it. You can even powder it or use ready-made powdered jaggery.

And these are the commonly made ladoos in every household. They are crunchy and have a very different taste than the "Kutaache ladoo"

Ingredients :

Chikki Jaggery ( This is another form of jaggery which is more sticky ) - 250 gms
Ghee - 1 tsp
Sesame seeds ( Til ) - 250 gms
Dry coconut ( Grated ) - 1/2 cup
Peanuts - 1/4 cup ( Dry roasted )

Recipe :

Heat 1 tsp ghee in a Kadhai. Add the jaggery and keep stirring it till it becomes of thinner consistency. Make all the procedure on low heat.
Now add the grated dry coconut and the peanuts ( skin removed )
Now slowly add the til ( sesame seeds ) while stirring in between. Adjust the til quantity according to how much fits into the jaggery. It shouldn't get too sticky, niether remain too dry. 
Mix everything well.
Now make the ladoos when the mixture is warm/hot. Apply ghee on your palm while making the ladoos ( This helps the jaggery not to stick to your palm and prevent it from burning )
If the mixture becomes cold, then warm the mixture again on the stove and again make the ladoos when hot. ( Yessss, Its tough to make this when hot, but trust me it's all worth it when you pop one in your mouth !!! :)))

Your yumyliscious Tilgul is ready.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Gulpoli : Maharashtrian delicacy

Makar Sankranti special : Makar Sankranti is a traditional festival celebrated in India which marks the transition of the Sun into the Makar Rashi ( Capricorn sign). For maximum years, it is celebrated on 14th of January... but rarely it also occurs on the 15th of January. It depends on when the sun changes its celestial path. It is also celebrated as the harvest festival.

Childhood memories : My memory of Makar Sankranti is only the " Til-gud" and "Gul-Poli" made by my mother. I love the gul-poli, simply because its crispy, and can be eaten for a week after it's made. Alternatively, you can also make the filling and store it and make it as and when needed. The dough stays in the fridge for almost a week too. I have never tried my hand at Gul-poli, as the process seems too tough and tedious for me. But this time, i carefully observed my mother making it and decided to note down all the small tit-bits she uses to make it just perfect!!! And its not that tough at all, so i am going to make it soon for sure !!! Its such a delight watching Mom cook :) 

Gul-Poli is usually found in all Maharashtrian homes during Sankranti. It is basically a roti ( bread) made of jaggery. Jaggery provides heat to the body, and hence it is eaten during this season of winter. The til-gud ( sesame -jaggery ) ladoos are also eaten during this time to provide heat and energy to the body during winters. I will post a different recipe for the 2 types of Til-gud ladoos that my mom makes. Meanwhile, here is the Gul-Poli recipe :

Ingredients :

( Makes around 20 )

For the filling :

Gul ( Jaggery ) - 1/2 kg
Besan ( Gram flour ) - 2 tbsp
Til powder ( Sesame powder ) - 1/2 cup ( Dry roast white sesame and grind them to a fine powder in the mixer-grinder )
Dry coconut powder - 1 tbsp ( Dry roast the dry-coconut and grind to a powder - turns little brown )
Ghee or Oil - 1 tbsp

For the dough :

Besan ( Gram Flour ) - 1 cup
Wheat Flour ( Atta ) - 4 cup
Maida ( All purpose flour ) - 1 n half cup
Oil - 2 tbsp

Recipe :

Grate the Gul (jaggery). It should be fine, there should be no chunks in it.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, and roast the besan ( Gram flour ) till it turns light brown.

Mix the grated jaggery, sesame powder, dry coconut powder and besan well. It forms like a ball. Keep it aside.

Next, mix the Besan, wheat flour and maida together. Heat the 2 tbsp oil and add it to the mix-flour. This is called Mohan. Now knead it into a soft dough. Add water little by little. Keep the dough aside for 30 minutes.

Roll a small ball from the dough to a small chapati, and add the filling. ( You can divide the dough and filling in equal quantities beforehand. )
Now cover it from all sides and close the ball neatly.
Roll this ball again into a thin chapati ( Flat bread) ...You can dust it with flour if it sticks.
The idea is to roll it carefully , so the filling doesn't come out.

Now heat a pan ( Tava ). Place the poli on the tava. Do not add any oil or ghee on top. Roast till done or till light brown.

Mom's Tips :
1. Always roast the Polis on tava on low flame
2. If the filling comes out of the Poli, then you can add a pinch of Lime ( Chuna which is used in Paan )to the filling.
3. Never stack the Polis on top of each other when hot. Spread them on a newspaper till they get cold and then stack them at room temperature.

Happy Cooking :)