Monthly Archives: July 2012

Rasgulla (Cheese balls in sugar syrup)

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Yes, I made Rasgullas… much against my long held belief that Rasgullas were extremely difficult and best left to be made by the sweet-makers at K.C. Das. Last Friday was Varamahalakshmi festival and holds quite a prominent place in many tam households, and rightfully calls for the preparation of some sweets. Sadly both the H and I aren’t big fans of payasam, except pal-payasam. But what we both are, is big fans of bengali sweets (Who isn’t, right? :)) Anyway, this was the perfect opportunity for me to make Rasgullas. Well, I must thank Swarna for finding this super easy recipe for rasmalai at superveggiedelight. Once we found this, I knew I had to share this secret with all of you. This was the second time I was making the rasgullas and I have tuned it down to suit my tastes, especially by reducing the sugar. The good thing about rasgullas is that it is not extremely unhealthy. It is made mainly from milk solids and not much else, so its like eating a lot of paneer. Plus this doesn’t take too long to make. So go ahead and make some mouth watering rasgullas in your very own kitchen and break the myth that rasgullas can’t be made at home. ūüôā

Rasgullas – flavored with saffron and cardamom

Rasgulla – and here’s a close up. ūüôā

The Recipe:

Source- Bhavna Patel

Preparation time – 30 minutes

Cooking time – 15 minutes

Makes – 20 -25 rasgullas

What you’ll need:

  • 0.5 – 0.75 litres fresh milk
  • 1 medium sized lemon
  • 4-5 tbsp sugar (you may need more if you like things very sweet)
  • Cheese cloth or a muslin cloth
  • 1/2 tsp chapathi flour/all purpose flour

For garnishing and flavor (optional)

  • a few strands of saffron
  • a pod of cardamom crushed

How to make it:

Making the Paneer –

  1. The first part of making rasgullas is making paneer. If you’re already used to making paneer at home then you’ll be familiar with this step. So start by heating the milk in a heavy bottomed pan at medium heat to avoid charring it at the base. While it heats up, squeeze the lemon juice into a cup and dilute with water. Once the milk begins to rise up or boil, add the lemon juice little by little, stirring it all along. Stop adding the lemon juice when the milk begins to curdle and the fat (white particles) separate from the water.
  2. Once the milk has completely curdled, layer a strainer with the muslin cloth and pour the curdled milk into it and separate the water. Then bunch up the muslin cloth and tie it up letting the milk solids sit in a small pouch below. In order to strain the remaining water from it, place the cloth pouch you just made on a pan turned upside down. Take a heavy bottomed pan (probably the one you just used to heat the milk) and place it on the pouch. The idea is it to create some weight on top of the cloth to squeeze out the water quickly. So try your own contraption.

Making the Rasgullas –

  1. After 15-20 minutes the water should have sufficiently drained out. Make sure that the water has drained out and bring the milk solids onto a plate or a board. Sprinkle very little flour on it and knead the mixture with your hand until it becomes a smooth dough (like chapathi dough). You’ll probably need to knead it for a couple of minutes.
  2. The next steps are the make the ‘gullas’ or the balls and the ‘ras’ which is the sweet syrup. Take a medium sized pressure cooker and add 3 cups of water. Add sugar to it and heat it on medium flame. While this is heating, work quickly and start rolling the balls. The balls need to be tiny, around the size of kabuli channa or slightly larger. Don’t worry, they will swell once they boil in the water.
  3. Stir the syrup occasionally. Once you have the balls ready, add them carefully to the boiling syrup. Make sure that the syrup is sufficiently watery. Cover the lid, add the weight and continue heating in medium-high flame. Let the cooker whistle 3-4 times and then turn off the stove. Let it cool and then open it. You will see that the rasgullas have grown in size. You are almost done! ūüôā Taste the gulla and the sugar syrup. If it is not sweet enough, then remove the rasgullas alone carefully into a bowl leaving behind most of the liquid in the cooker. Add a couple of more spoons of sugar, based on your taste and heat once more. Add in the saffron and cardamom and bring to a boil. Turn off the flame and pour the liquid into the bowl waiting with the rasgullas and you’re done!
  4. Serve hot or refrigerate. It tastes great eitherways. ūüôā

Note:

  1. It is suggested to dilute the lemon before mixing into the milk so that it mixes evenly in the milk. Also add the juice little by little and stir as you do so because the lesser juice you add the lesser lemon flavor you introduce into your final cheese.
  2. Try rolling out the rasgullas as quickly and smoothly as possible, to avoid drying and cracks from developing on the surface. Smoothen out any cracks that may form to prevent rasgullas from breaking while cooking.
  3. Very little flour is added to help bind the rasgullas. Don’t overdo it though, since the paneer already binds very well.
  4. I tried to use as little sugar as possible. But considering that any amount of refined sugar is still dead calories providing no other nutrients, I am considering using honey, jaggery or palm sugar next time. Have you tried any desserts with alternative healthy sweeteners?

Lettuce wraps (Vegetarian)

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I was introduced to this tasty, crunchy snack at a friend’s party and ever since I’d been meaning to try making them at home. Thanks to Lekha requesting a recipe with Lettuce, I decided to get down to business and make them. I found this authentic and elaborate recipe which makes lettuce wraps like P.F. Chang’s here. I borrowed some elements, but finally made a much simpler version at home. This dish¬†makes a great evening snack/salad and¬†it also works well when entertaining people at home, since it can be left as a DIY dish.¬†Here’s a picture that was once again snapped on my phone.

Lettuce wraps filled with stir fried tofu

The Recipe:

Source: Based on P.F Chang’s recipe

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes: 5-6 wraps

Here’s what I used:

  • Iceberg lettuce, use the inner hearts preferably
  • 1 cup of medium firm tofu (paneer may also be used)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 inch of ginger (thinly sliced)
  • 2-3 sprigs of coriander (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • salt to taste
  • soy sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)

How to make it:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and stir fry the onions, ginger and garlic, until the onions are translucent or just brown. Add the chilli powder and soy sauce.
  2. Add the firm tofu, crushing it with your hands as you drop it in. Use a fork and break the tofu in bits, like you’d scramble an egg.
  3. Add in the salt and sugar and mix well and let it cook a little until most of the water from the tofu evaporates (may be 5 – 7 minutes).
  4. Peel the required number of lettuce leaves, wash and dry them. Add  a couple of spoons of the tofu mixture on to the lettuce wraps. Sprinkle the chopped coriander and your lettuce wraps are ready to be eaten.

Note:¬†¬†Super easy huh? I know! ūüôā And the best part is they’re healthy too. You can get creative and add all sorts of fillings. Just replace tofu with egg or paneer. Add some other vegetables like capsicum or¬†mushrooms. May be even¬†use corn and cheese for a¬†filling. The possibilities seem to be endless and are tickling my stomach¬†just as¬†I type this out. So enjoy and let me know if you have other filling ideas. ūüôā

N.B:¬† My mini marathon of blogging has taken a back seat as a result of my new found love of hiking in the weekends. The summer is great time to spend outdoors and I’m trying to do just that. I will try to post recipes as often as I can, but I’m calling of the marathon for now, so that I don’t compromise on the quality of my posts. ūüôā

Chivda (Beaten rice snack)

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Week 2, Recipe 2

Well, I’m¬† now making up for what was supposed to be a post last week with a healthy and tasty snack. Wow, I sound like an advertisement for Maggi. ūüėõ Anyway, moving on to today’s recipe, I present to you a version of the Chivda! Chivda (Maharashtrian) or Chivdo (Gujarathi) is a light and crunchy making it ideal¬†and ideal nibble food.¬†My gujju aunt used to¬†send¬† freezer bags¬†full of fresh homemade chivda while I did my bachelor’s away from home, becoming my favorite snack to quell my late night hunger pangs. I’ve modified her recipe and converted it into an very efficient oven recipe, that I borrowed from Bhavna’s kitchen.

Chivda

The Recipe:

Source – Son chickamma (my aunt)

Active cooking time – 5 minutes

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 500 gms or 3-4 cups¬†of thin beaten rice (poha/avalakki/aval)
  • 3 tbsp peanuts
  • 3 tbsp roasted bengal gram
  • 2 tbsp sliced dry coconut
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 4-5¬†chillies slit along the length
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • a generous pinch of turmeric
  • 2¬†tsp sugar (powdered)
  • Salt to taste

How to make it:

  1. If you’re following the oven method then, preheat the oven to 100 deg celsius. Keep the beaten rice ready in a¬† large flat pyrex glass¬†or a baking tray.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan. Once its smoking, add the mustard and let it crackle. Lower the temperature to sim andadd the coconut bits, the peanuts and the bengral gram and stir carefully until golden brown. Add the chillies and the curry leaves and turn of the heat. Add the turmeric and salt.
  3. Pour it over the beaten rice, mix well for a minute and place it in the preheated oven. Let it is stay in the oven for an hour, and mix the beaten rice once every 20 mins.
  4. If you’re not using the oven, then add the beaten rice to the pan and mix well. Keep mixing on slow flame for 25-30 minutes or until crisp.
  5. When it turns crisp, add the powdered sugar, mix well and continue the heating for another 5-10 mins.

Note: Using the oven recipe, reduces the actual cooking time and effort while making chivda. Don’t increase the oven temperature and then all you need to do is check on it once in a while and carry on with your other chores.

Pavê (Brazilian dessert)

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Week 2, Recipe 1

If you’re wondering what this unfamiliar sounding dessert is, let me introduce you¬†to a¬†delicious Brazilian dessert, that I learnt from a close friend a couple of years ago. Pav√™ (pronounced Paa-vey)¬†is a popular brazilian dessert, comparable to the Italian tiramisu. It is a layered dessert filled with biscuits, chocolate, different creams and fruits. I’m sharing a classic version with you. The original recipe uses italian lady finger biscuits as a base ingredient but since that might not be easily available I’ve come up with a suggestion below.

This dessert is filled with thickened condensed milk and whipped cream as layers between biscuits soaked in chocolate milk. A lot of brazilian desserts incorporate condensed milk and/or caramel and toffee, making them irresistable for a caramel lover like me. The original recipe contains egg, which unlike the tiramisu is cooked here. But that can be skipped without altering the taste much. Apologies for the photo which I quickly snapped on the phone before we dug right into it.

Pavê Рwith loads of condensed milk, whipped cream and chocolate, this dessert is one of our favorites

Pavê Рtried to capture a side view of the layers

The Recipe:

Source – a close friend, Paula

Active preparation time –¬†25 mins

Inactive time Рatleast 2 Р3 hours

Serves – 6

Here’s what you’ll need:

                                                 (OR)

  • 1 pound of plain sponge cake or pound cake
  • 1 can of sweetened¬†condensed milk (preferably Nestle)
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)
  • 0.5 litre¬†chocolate milk (either readymade or using 2 tbsp cocoa powder/bournvita in 0.5 litre milk)
  • 200 – 250¬†ml of heavy cream/whipping cream (I used around 250 gms of readily available whipped cream)
  • 2-3¬†tbsp icing sugar/fine sugar
  • 1 tbsp Cocoa powder/ chocolate sprinkles/ chocolate shavings for topping

How to make it:

  1. This step is necessary if you are using sponge cake/pound cake instead of the biscuits. Preheat the oven to¬†100 deg C. Cut the sponge cake into finger sized slices (lxbxh = 8x2x2 cms¬†approximately, or if you’re not one for precise measurements like the former, just¬†keep it to the size of¬†your index and middle finger held together). Once they’re all sliced up, line it in a baking tray neatly and stick into the oven for an hour, until it becomes slightly crisp. Flip the slices around once in between, making sure they’re even baked.
  2. Pour the can of condensed milk into a heavy bottomed pan. Add the egg yolk and turn the stove on to low-medium heat. Keep a cautious watch over it and continue stirring continually. It is ready when you run a line on the pan with the ladle and can see the base of the pan. It takes approzimately 10-15 mins while using 1 can of condensed milk. Let this cool.
  3. Once the biscuits and the condensed milk mixture are cooled, whip the cream into a light and fluffy mixture along with the icing sugar, using a electric beater. Make sure the biscuits, chocolate milk and condensed milk are ready before the cream is whipped otherwise it will lose its fluff and become watery.
  4. Divide the biscuits into the number of layers you want to make. I made mine with 2 layers. Pour the chocolate milk into a flat dish to make it easy to dip the biscuits. Dip each biscuit for around 2-3 seconds until fully covered by milk and immediately arrange it on a flat bottomed glass dish/ plastic container. Next spread half the condensed milk mixture onto the biscuits. Follow up with half the whipped cream and lightly spread it all around. Repeat the same steps with the next layer, starting with soaking the biscuits in chocolate milk and finishing up with the whipped cream.
  5. Decorate the top with cocoa powder dusted on it using a sieve. You can also get creative and use chocolate shavings, and maybe some fruits as well.
  6. Refrigerate for atleast 2 hours before serving.

Note:

I made my Pav√™ this time using sponge cake and followed step 1 and it tasted perfectly good. But its important to be patient and not¬†overheat the oven since the slices might burn/brown. All you want them to do is loose their moisture. Keeping the oven temperature low, let’s you forget about them and carry on with your chores, so no stress there.

– The egg yolk adds a golden and silky texture to the condensed milk and once cooked it doesn’t smell eggy at all.¬†I’ve skipped it when I made it for my family sometime ago and it came out just as fine.

– While dipping the biscuits in the milk, be careful not to oversoak them, which I normally have a tendency to do. Otherwise your end result will be too runny and not cake-like. Letting it sit for 2 hours will make it nice and soft. For best results make it the night before you have guests giving it a enough and more time to sit and soak up all the liquids.

Try it and I’m sure you’ll love it. ūüôā

Puliyogare (Tamarind rice)

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Week 1, Recipe 3

So here comes the final recipe for this week, just in the nick of time, Puliyogare! ūüôā This dish has become a easy fix choice when the H and I are both hungry and we want something quick and without too much effort. You can have this ready in approximately 15 minutes and the result is a rice that is delicious, homely, and tastes so much better than the store bought ready-mixes. So why not try it one day? ūüôā

Puliyogare served with yogurt and cucumber

The Recipe:

Source – Mum

Cooking time – 15 minutes

Serves – 2

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp peanuts (shelled)
  • 1/2 tbsp channa dal (bengal gram dal)
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1 green chilli (slit along its length)
  • 5-7 curry leaves (torn into bits)
  • 1 tbsp dried coconut grated (or freshly grated coconut)
  • 1 heaped tbsp rasam powder
  • 1 lemon sized ball tamarind (diluted in 1 cup of warm water)
  • 1/2 tbsp jaggery
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds (roasted and powdered)
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi) (roasted and powdered)
  • 1 generous pinch of asafoetida
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil (optional: could use sesame oil)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup rice

How to make it:

  1. Cook the rice with 1 tsp oil in an open pot. I used the microwave so that I could check on the rice regularly and make sure it wasn’t mushy. If you’re using the pressure cooker be careful not to add too much water or overcook by letting it whistle too many times.
  2. While the rice is cooking, we need to aim to get the puliyogare gojju ready. So heat the oil in a pan and add the peanuts. Roast them for a minute and throw in the channa dal. Continue roasting until both of them just begin to turn light brown. At this stage, add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the Urad dal. Lower the flame and roast until the dal just turns dark brown. Be carfeul not to burn them.
  3. Once they’re ready, throw in the chilli and the curry leaves. Then add the grated coconut and stir well. It’s recommended to use dry coconut if you want to store it for a longer time or carry it with you while traveling etc. But fresh coconut tastes great too, which I used while making this today.
  4. Add the rasam powder, give it a good stir quickly and add the diluted tamarind pulp. To soften and dilute the tamarind faster, I normally put it in a bowl, add some water and stick it into the microwave for 30 seconds and then squeeze out the pulp. Add the jaggery and salt and boil until it thickens into a paste. When its almost ready, add the sesame seeds powder and methi powder and mix well. Give it a taste check to reach the right level of saltiness, sourness and sweetiness you want. ūüôā
  5. The rice should be ready by this time. Add the mixture to the rice and fold it in lightly, without mashing the rice too much. Drizzling a little oil while mixing would be handy as well. Make sure to taste the rice one more time to ensure you’re good on the salt front.
  6. Serve warm with curd and urad dal papad.

Note: There would be hundreds of recipes out there on how to make to most authentic/best puliyogare in Iyengar style, each being tuned to the tastes of the individual. I don’t make any claims, I offer you one possible recipe handed down from my mum. Feel free to alter it according to your tastes. The best part about this dish is that it is so robust that you can alter some ingredients and probably skip some that you don’t have in your pantry and still be happy with the end product. No wonder this dish used to be/is a no-fail last resort when maamis have last minute guests for dinner. ūüôā

Majjige Huli (Morkozhambu)

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Week 1, Recipe 2

OK folks, so here’s the second recipe as part of the mini marathon this month. Majjige huli in Kannada or Morkozhambu in Tamil is a curd based sambar most famous for its appearance during weddings and the festive season. It is often served along with other types of sambar like hulthove in kannadiga weddings. This can be made with different types of vegetables and the popular ones are ash-gourd, ladies finger, drumstick. My mum also makes it with the leaves and stem from amaranth (known as dhantina soppu in kannada). This time I’ve made it with drumstick. Anyway, let’s get started with the recipe under the spotlight, Drumstick Majjige Huli.

Majjige Huli / Morkozhambu

The Recipe:

Source – Mum

Preparation time – 15 minutes

Cooking time – 15 minutes

Serves – 3-4

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 drumsticks (chopped) (or 1 big cup of veggies like ash-gourd or bhindi chopped into thumb sized pieces)
  • 2 tbsp channa dal (Bengal gram dal)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds (Dhania)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 green chillies
  • 4 heaped tbsp coconut (grated)
  • 3-4 strands fresh coriander leaves)
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • a generous pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 2 cups curd (preferably slightly sour)
  • 2 – 3 tbsp freshly squeezed tamarind pulp (optional)
  • salt to taste

For the seasoning:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • a generous pinch of hing
  • a few curry leaves

How to make it:

  1. Soak the channa dal in warm water for 2-3 hours.
  2. Take 1.5 cups of water in a vessel and boil the chopped vegetable (drumstick in this case). If you’re using bhindi, first saute it in a pan with a little oil and then boil it in water. Add a small pinch of turmeric and salt to it.
  3. While the veggies are cooking, grind the dal along with the dhania seeds, jeera, red chillies and green chillies, coconut, coriander, and hing. Make sure to grind it into a fairly smooth paste.
  4. Add the mixture to the boiling vegetable. Add one cup of water and continue boiling for another 10 minutes until the mixture is cooked.
  5. Once ready, add the curd. Using tamarind is a good trick if you want achieve the right level of sourness when you don’t have sour curd. If you’re using the readymade concentrated tamarind, then 1 tsp should be sufficient.
  6. Upon adding the curd boil for a maximum of 2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook at this stage since the the curd will begin to break away leaving behind water. Give it a quick taste check and its almost ready.
  7. Last step, seasoning. Heat the pan with oil. Add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Turn off the stove and add the hing and curry leaves and the dish is ready to be served piping hot with rice.

Note: In case you want to make this dish in advance and you’re not serving it right away, then hold off step 6 and 7. Keep everything ready and add the curd and boil for a couple of minutes just before serving.

My recipe is kind of a cross between the kannadiga and tamilian versions. Ash-gourd, drumstick and bhindi are the most popular veggies used. Have you ever eaten majjige huli/morkozhambu made of other vegetables? I’d love to try them. ūüôā

Adai (South Indian Lentil Pancake)

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After a short lull, I’m back to the blogosphere with renewed energies and one thing I’m learning along the way is that blogging everyday regularly requires discipline. Having made that reflection, my aim in the coming days is to get at least 3 posts out every week. My test period is the month of July and by the end of 4 weeks I aim to have posted 12 good quality recipes. This might not seem like much, after the super-hit film, ‘Julie and Julia’, which I loved by the way. But I have decided to start with baby steps. ūüôā

So here goes, Week 1, Recipe 1.

I’m really excited to share with you a recipe for Adai, a scrumptious, wholesome dosa-like pancake! Adai is a mixture of different lentils, rice and spices ground together into a coarse batter and is popular evening snack in Tamil households. I’ve borrowed this no-fail formula for my mum, who got it from my Paati. The recipe below produces enough batter to make around 10-12 palm-sized Adais. This is actually quite a filling snack (could even be my dinner) so you can’t eat too many together. It would be too heavy on your stomach as well. I normally make this batter and store it in the refrigerator for almost 2 weeks and it tastes perfectly fine (just follow the tip at the end of the post). Just a pointer, though very easy to make it requires the dals and rice to be soaked in water for at least 5 hours, so you need to plan for this a day in advance. Try it and let me know how it turned out. ūüôā

Adai served with mint chutney and curd

The Recipe:
Source – Mum
Makes 10 – 12 palm sized Adai
Here’s what you’ll need:
For the batter
  • 1 1/4 cup rice
  • 1/4 cup Chana dal (dal from bengal gram)
  • 1/4 cup Toor dal
  • 1/4 Moong dal
  • slightly less than 1/4 cup Urad dal
  • 3 – 4 dried red chillies
  • a generous pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • salt to taste

While making the Adai

  • 1 big onion (chopped)
  • 3 heaped tbsp coconut (grated)
  • 4-5 curry leaves (chopped)
  • a few strands of coriander (chopped)
  • Oil (around 2-3 tsp for each adai)

How to make it:

  1. Soak the rice and dals together in sufficient water overnight. If you are running a little short of time, you could use soak them for 4 – 5 hours in hot water.
  2. After the dals have been allowed to bathe and swell wash them thoroughly. Put them in a liquidizer, add the dried chillies, hing, salt and 1/2 a cup of water and grind into a slightly coarse batter. The consistency of the batter should be much thicker than dosa batter. And be sure not to grind it completely smooth like you would with the batter for dosa or idli. The coarseness of the batter adds the characteristic taste integral to the Adai. Let the batter sit for 2 hours at least, before you make the first one.
  3. Add the chopped onions, coconut, coriander and curry leaves to the batter and mix well. Give it a quick taste check to make sure the salt is just fine.
  4. Take a flat pan (tawa) and heat on high flame. Add a little oil on the pan. When the pan is sufficiently hot, scoop 2 ladlefuls of the batter on the pan. Spread it out and make a small coin sized hole (around 1/2 an inch) in the centre of the adai. Drizzle a little oil around the edges and in the hole you just made. Now reduce the flame to medium high and cover with a lid for around a minute. Once it seems done on one side, flip it over and let the other side cook under slow to medium flame, just to make sure that the adai is completely cooked inside. Wait until it is golden brown or as crisp as you like it and then its ready to be served.
  5. Serve hot with curd. The adai tastes great plain or with curd, chutney, pickle etc. I served it with pudina chutney and cold curd out of the fridge. Delicious!

A couple of ideas:

  • As I said at the beginning of the post, I make the batter using these proportions and it serves the Husband and me for 3- 4 times over 2 weeks. So what I normally do is refrigerate the batter and pour out as much required into a separate bowl and add the onions etc. just while I make them. That way the batter stays fresh long.
  • You could try adding some chopped green chillies or pudina to flavor it up a notch further.

So how do you make your Adai? Have you tried any variations to the classic?