Category Archives: Recipes

Recipes

Vietnamese fresh spring rolls (Vegetarian)

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Today’s Writing 101 exercise is to write about three important songs in my life and to be spontaneous and free-write. I found it hard to combine both these aspects and write about a food recipe that I had recently made. So, I planned to use the first part of the exercise and write spontaneously about a recipe I was most excited to share with you all – Vietnamese fresh rolls! Vietnamese cuisine is considered to be one of the healthiest foods in the world since they include a lot of fresh and leafy vegetables in their diet. The H and I would sure love to visit Vietnam some day. When I think of Vietnam, I think about this song Ding Ding Dong – Waipod Phetsuphan. Turns out that the song is actually Thai, but I like it anyway and can’t take the Vietnamese connection out of it, thanks to this wonderful Vietnamese coffee video that I watched a long time back (…and there’s my segway into the prompt for today – to link it to a song :P)

Yesterday, a couple of my friends and I had a picnic at a nearby park. One of my friend’s brought these rolls and they were an instant hit with all of us. Cool, light and refreshing, they were ideal to carry to a picnic. They can be prepared in advance when you have guests over or they can be made as an instant snack, once you have the basic ingredients, such as rice paper and rice noodles. These rolls traditionally use pork slices and shrimp but I’ve made the veggie version. You can get creative and stuff different kinds of veggies and sprouts and when you serve this along with a spicy peanut sauce, you will surely see happy faces. I made this today with whatever vegetables I had at home, so you might notice lettuce missing from them.

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The recipe:

Source – My friend, Shishira

Preparation time – 15 minutes

Assembly time – 2 minutes

Makes 4 rolls

Here’s what I used:

For the peanut sauce:

  • 3 tbsp peanuts
  • 1 tbsp red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • A few drops of lemon juice

 For the rolls:

  • A quarter portion of cucumber
  • 1 small carrot
  • A few strands of coriander/cilantro
  • A few mint leaves
  • A quarter portion of green bell pepper
  • A small block of tofu (I used paneer since I don’t like tofu)
  • A handful of rice vermicelli noodles
  • Rice paper sheets as required
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

How to make it

Peanut sauce:

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  1. In a small pan, a tsp of sesame oil and lightly roast the chopped garlic (You can skip this step if you like the flavor of raw garlic).
  2. Once the roasted garlic has cooled down, add all the ingredients together and blend until smooth adding a few tbsp of water to thin it to a dipping consistency.
  3. Taste the sauce and add honey, soy sauce or chili powder based your preference.

 

Fresh rolls:

Vietnamesefreshrolls

  1. Slice tofu/paneer into thick juliennes and sauté in a pan with a few drops of sesame oil.
  2. Take a pot and heat 1-2 cups of water. Once it is boiling, add the rice noodles and a pinch of salt and let it sit for 3-4 minutes or as instructed on the back of your pack of noodles. Strain the noodles and save the hot water.
  3. While the tofu/paneer is getting roasted, cut the cucumbers, carrots and bell peppers into juliennes, as shown in the picture.
  4. Wash and dry the cilantro and mint leaves.
  5. When the tofu/paneer is sufficiently roasted (3-4 minute), add a splash of soy sauce and remove from heat.
  6. Now, for the assembly. Pour the warm water left from the rice noodles into a wide-mouthed vessel. Remove a sheet of rice paper, dip it for 2-3 secs in the warm water and place the smooth side  down on your working surface. I used my cutting board.
  7. Place the cucumber followed by the rice noodles on top it, about 2 inches away from the edge of the rice paper. Follow this with the tofu, bell peppers and finally the carrots and the herbs.
  8. Roll tightly starting from the cucumber side and once you have rolled it in a couple of time, fold in the edges of the rice paper. Be gentle but firm with rice paper, otherwise it might tear apart or be too loose. Roll it all the way to the end until the other edge of the rice paper folds over the roll. I couldn’t take a picture as I did this. I was apprehensive, since this was my first time. But there are many great videos on YouTube, where you can learn from expert vietnamese cooks. 🙂 I liked this one.
  9. Cut the rolls in half before serving and serve with spicy peanut sauce. Yum!

Additional notes:

– Most peanut sauce recipes use hoisin sauce and store bought peanut butter, but I eliminated both of them and preferred to make something from scratch.

– Veggies that are normally used in these rolls include butter lettuce, mung sprouts and garlic chives. Authentic vietnamese rolls have a a few strands of fresh chive popping out right at the end of the roll. I would like to attempt that the next time I make these.

Undiyu (Gujarati mixed vegetable curry)

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As part of Writing 101, our prompt today is to choose a place that we would like to be transported to. This could either be some place in the past or a place I would like to one-day visit in the future. I decided to pick a recipe from childhood, probably because nostalgia is such a strong thing. The recipe I’m sharing today is called Undhiyu. It’s a Gujarati vegetable curry consisting of interesting winter veggies from India. This dish is usually made during the winter months since it is quite a hearty dish or on special occasions (read guests coming over). I’ve always eaten Undhiyu when we used to visit my aunt’s family, who are Gujarati. My aunt’s mother used to make delicious Undhiyu, and serve it thali style, accompanied with thin and fluffy phulkas (a kind of Indian bread) and thick mango juice in a cup beside the bread. As I write this recipe, I think back about the fun afternoons we shared at my aunt’s, enjoying delicious food, playing in the park with my cousins and finishing it up with some fun card games. This recipe is requires some preparation, especially procuring different veggies that lend a unique take to this dish. Also, the traditional recipe is time consuming but I made pressure cooker version that helped cut down my cooking time. This was the first time I tried making this dish and I was very happy with the result. The H approached it gingerly, as he would with any unfamiliar dish, but he liked it as well, so I was happy with the experiment and the effort.

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The recipe:

Source – Bhavna Patel + my aunt

Preparation time – 30 minutes

Cooking time – 15 minutes

Serves – 4

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the muthiyas

  • 1 cup methi (fenugreek) leaves
  • ½ cup wheat flour
  • ¼ cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • A pinch of fruit salt
  • Salt to taste
  • A few tbsp oil to fry

For the masala

  • ½ cup chopped coriander
  • 6 green chillies
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 inch piece ginger
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ cup crushed peanuts
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp crushed jaggery or sugar
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

Veggies

  • 1 cup tender Indian beans (surti papdi in Hindi, avarekalu in Kannada and mochaika in Tamil)
  • 1 cup cubed yams (I used purple yam like they traditionally do in Gujarat)
  • 6 baby eggplants
  • 2 baby potatoes
  • 1 cup green peas

For tempering

  • 1 tsp carom seeds
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

How to make it

Undhiyu

Muthiyas

  1. Mix all the ingredients listed under ‘muthiyas’ above, using a little water if required to form a stiff dough.
  2. Break small balls and shape them into cylinders as shown in the picture.
  3. Shallow fry on medium flame until golden brown on the outside. Make sure not to have the oil too hot, to ensure the inside is cooked as well. Remove from the oil and pat dry on a paper towel.

Making the masala

  1. Grind the chillies, ginger and garlic into a coarse paste.
  2. Add it to the chopped coriander. Mix with all the other ingredients listed under ‘For the masala’.

Preparing the veggies

  1. Slit all the baby eggplants from the side up, keeping the top in tact. Do the same with the baby potatoes
  2. Now take some of the masala which you’ve just prepared, add a tbsp. besan to this and mix well.
  3. Use this to stuff the baby eggplants and potatoes and keep aside.
  4. Wash and peel most of the Indian beans. If using very tender Indian beans, you can add them in whole like I did.

Making the curry

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pressure cooker. Once hot, add carom seeds and reduce the heat.
  2. Add the masala paste followed by the stuffed baby eggplants and baby potatoes
  3. Add the rest of the veggies and stir gently, making sure not to disturb the stuffed veggies.
  4. Add the fried muthiyas, which were prepared earlier.
  5. Add a cup or water and close the pressure cooker. Cook until you hear 3 whistles on medium heat (the Indian beans might take a little time to cook until tender).
  6. Open the cooker once it is cool. Mix everything together and give it a taste test.
  7. Serve hot with rotis or steamed rice. Garnish with chopped coriander.

Additional notes:

  1. My recipe is not traditional, since I did not use all the veggies that this dish normally calls for. Other veggies that can be added include sweet potatoes, regular yams, fresh tuvar beans and plantain and fresh garlic leaves.
  2. Undhiyu is traditionally served with cut pieces of ripe banana on top of the curry. But I’m not a big fan of banana, especially in savory dishes; hence I’ve eliminated this.
  3. This was my first attempt at Undhiyu and I did not want to stray too far away from the recipe and hence I fried the muthiyas. But I’ve been reading that it’s also possible to steam them. So the next time I will try that technique.
  4. I used frozen Indian beans and purple yams due to lack of fresh counterparts. But this helped to cut my preparation time. 🙂 If you area using fresh veggies, preparing and dicing some of the veggies might take slightly longer.

Maavinakaai Chitranna (Raw mango rice)

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Maavinakai chitranna

Maavinakai chitranna

Sharing a recipe after a hiatus of almost a year! Breaking the no-post bad spell with an authentic kannadiga recipe which I love. I made this today and shared it with a friend. Her son liked it so much that she decided to try it too. So for her benefit and hopefully others too, here’s the recipe.

The recipe:
Source – Mum
Cooking time – 20 mins
Serves – 2 – 3

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 medium sized raw mango (grated)
  • 4 tablespoon coconut (grated)
  • 3-4 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 pinch of turmeric
  • 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • salt to taste

For seasoning

  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp channa dal
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 dried red chilli (broken into bits)
  • 1 strand of curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp oil

How to make it:
1. Pressure cook rice with a pinch of salt and a few drops of oil. Use a little lesser water than you would normally so that the rice is not too mushy and soft.
2. While the rice is cooking, grind the coconut, dried chillies, mustard seeds, hing and turmeric into a fine paste with as little water as necessary.
3. Now, we need to prepare the seasoning – For this, to a heated pan, add 1 tbsp oil. Once it’s hot, reduce the flame to medium and add the mustard seeds; let it crackle. Then add the channa dal and let it turn reddish color. As it’s getting roasted add the urad dal, dried chili bits. Finally let the curry leaves in and let them splutter.
4. Pour in the ground mixture to the pan and stir it until the raw smell disappears (or around 5 minutes). Add salt to taste and turn of the stove.
5. As you wait for the mixture to get cooked, peel and grate the raw mango.
6. Add the raw mango to the mixture after turning off the stove. Add rice and mix well. Check for salt before serving.

Note:
– Fluff the rice a bit by cooling it on a plate or a wide bowl before mixing to ensure the rice doesn’t break or get mushy.
– If the raw mango isn’t very sour, you can add a bit of tamarind pulp water into the mixture as it cooks.
– You can make this rice with a variation using onions instead of raw mango – Thinly slice the onions and add to the ground mixture as it cooks in the pan and add tamarind water from a small lime sized ball of tamarind. Cook until most of the water evaporates.

Mishti Doi (Bengali firm yogurt dessert)

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Last week I tried 2 new dishes to celebrate Gokulashtami/ Janmashtami. The first was the Thatai, for a savory snack and then I decided to accompany it with a sweet dish. I know, Mishti Doi is is not a conventional gokulashtami preparation, but it is a great dessert nevertheless. 🙂 It is one of the flagship Bengali desserts from and my must-have-favorites at K.C. Das. What makes this a great dessert is that it can be easily made with commonly available ingredients, almost like making regular curd/yogurt at home. I started out with the recipe (version 2) from Dishesfrommykitchen, a very beautiful food blog. But I replaced most of the sugar with honey and made a couple of changes. And as you can see from the pictures below, the H and I have been trying to get a little creative before we dug into the cups. I was really happy with the outcome of this dessert, both the taste and our presentation, hence proudly presenting to you, the Mishti Doi.

Mishti Doi – sweet yogurt dessert

The Recipe:

Source- inspired from Dishesfrommykitchen
Active cooking time – 20 minutes
Wait time – at least 6 hours
Serves – 2

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups milk (I used low fat)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup fresh yogurt/curd
  • Saffron for decoration (optional)

How to make it:

  1. Boil the milk in a heavy bottomed pot, until it reduces in quantity (to almost half its initial volume).
  2. As the milk boils, heat a flat pan and add the sugar into it. Keeping stirring in medium flame until the sugar caramelizes (turns golden brown with a distinct aroma). It should be done in around 5 minutes.
  3. Once milk has reduced in volume, add the caramelized sugar and honey and mix well, and turn off the heat. Taste check the milk for sweetness.
  4. Let the milk cool down a little. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 deg F.
  5. Once the milk is warm, not hot, add the curd into it and stir the milk well. Pour it into your little serving cups.
  6. Place the cups in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, not longer. Then immediately turn off the oven, and let the cups bake in the warmth of the oven for at least 6 hours. I left the light in the oven turned on after the oven was turned off.
  7. After the waiting time, check if the yogurt has set and then refrigerate until you serve them. Decorate and serve.

Additional notes:

1. The amount of yogurt you add into the milk can be modulated based on how quickly you want the dessert ready. The quantity of yogurt I have mentioned in this recipe is great to get the mishti doi set in 5-6 hours. If you’re not in a hurry, or live in a very hot place then you can slightly lesser yogurt.

2. I mentioned right in the beginning that I used low fat milk, mainly because that was what I had in my refrigerator. I was afraid it wouldn’t set well or be as creamy as whole milk, but it turned out firm, smooth and creamy.

3. I used honey in the recipe to make it a little more healthy. I also used organic raw sugar which was caramelized. Both together added that hue of caramel color to the doi in the pictures.

4. The slightly uneven bubbly edge in the pictures is due to the air bubbles while pouring the milk into the cups. Pour the milk slowly and carefully to avoid the formation of air bubbles.

5. I would have loved to make the mishti doi in earthen-ware, but I had to be resourceful with my kitchen so I used regular chai-cups and they were pretty and presentable as well. 🙂

Baked Thatai/Nippatu

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I’ve been waiting with eagerness the whole of last week to share this recipe as a ‘gokulashtami’ / ‘janmashtami’ special and here goes! I love savory crunchy tidbits synonymous to the festival season in India. But what I don’t like is the fact that most often they are all deep fried. Thatai in Tamil or Nippatu in Kannada is a snack made from rice flour and some spices and shaped like flat little plates, and hence the name in Tamil. Now that I have started expanding my cooking capabilities, I decided to be a little adventurous and tried a healthy baked version of the traditional Thatai. Of course I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to ruin it. But it turns out that baked Thatai is really simple to make. It doesn’t use too much oil and can be just as crispy and crunchy as the deep fried version.

For the first time, I made sure to take snapshots of all the steps. So this post has step by step illustration of the recipe. 🙂

Crunchy baked Thatai

The recipe:
Source – my Paati (maternal grandmother)
Preparation time – 20 minutes
Baking time – 20 minutes
Makes around 20 mid sized Thatai

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 cup rice flour
2 tbsp Urad dal (roasted and ground into a flour)
3 tbsp grated coconut
2 tbsp Channa dal (soaked in water for 30 minutes)
2 tbsp peanuts (roasted and crushed into big bits)
1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
2 tbsp oil (to mix into the dough)
A few chopped curry leaves
Salt to taste

2-3 tbsp oil for baking

How to make it:

1. Lightly roast the urad dal for a couple of minutes. Let it cool and then grind it into a smooth flour.

Lightly roasted urad dal, waiting to be ground

2. Mix all the ingredients together.

All the ingredients, ready to be mixed

3. Add a little water and knead it into a workable dough.

The Thatai dough

4. Let the oven preheat to 350 deg F and grease the baking tray with 1 tbsp of oil.

5. Now to flatten out the thatais, break lime sized balls from the dough, roll it into a smooth ball. Add a drop of oil on your palm and start flattening the ball. This step can be a little tricky and the thatai might start sticking to your hand. If it does so flatten it out on your palm just a little, then transfer it to the baking tray and then flatten it out further. (I moved them from the plate to the tray just before baking it.)

Thatai – before baking

6. Fill out the baking tray neatly and place it into the preheated oven. After 10 minutes, take them out and flip them over and continue to bake them for 10-15 more minutes, until reddish brown in color. (You can reduce the temperature to 300 F after the first 10 minutes.)

7. Let them cool over some paper towels and then store in an airtight container.

Additional notes:

  1. By adjusting the level of urad dal flour, you can play the level of crispness vs. brittleness. We like it slightly brittle at home, giving our teeth something to work on. So I used a tad lesser urad dal flour.
  2. I had a little trouble getting the edges of the thatai to be neat and circular. My mother explained that this could be because the rice flour wasn’t smooth enough. So it might be useful to seive the flour if its not too smooth.
  3. I was worried about the thatai sticking to the tray while baking, but it was so easy to remove, thanks to the lack of any gluten in the mixture. 🙂

Palak Thambuli (Spiced Spinach Yogurt Purée)

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For those of you not familiar with dishes from Karnataka, presenting to you the humble thambuli. This is a kind of raita containing a ground mixture of peppercorns, cumin seeds and some greens or roots like ginger. It is a staple in many homes in coastal Karnataka and regions in the western ghats, forming the first course of the meal. We were introduced to this dish at a very young age from my aunt who hails from Sirsi and from then it became my favorite, so my mum made it very often. This is usually eaten with rice right at the beginning of the meal and it’s known to help in digestion and has other medicinal values based on the type of thambuli. I’m posting this recipe following a request from a close friend, Shri. 🙂

Now that we’re done with my history with thambuli and other trivia, let’s move on to the recipe. 🙂 I made Spinach thambuli this time.

Spinach Thambuli

The Recipe:

Source – My aunt (Dodamma)
Cooking time – 10 mins

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup or a handful of spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh coconut, grated
  • 1 cup fresh curd (preferably cold from the fridge)
  • 4-5 peppercorns, or 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 1 tsp ghee or butter (you can use oil if you don’t have or don’t like ghee)
  • salt to taste

For the seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp ghee or oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • A few curry leaves

How to make it:

  1. Heat the ghee in a small pan and add the whole peppercorns, cumin seeds, and dried chili.
  2. Once the chili is roasted, add the chopped spinach and cook for around 3-5 minutes until the spinach is done. Let this mixture cool.
  3. Once slightly cool, blend it along with the coconut until it turns into an almost fine pulp.
  4. Now pour in the curd and add salt and give it one whizz, just sufficient to mix it.
  5. Heat a little more ghee in the same pan used earlier, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add the curry leaves bits and hing and season the thambuli. Serve chilled along with rice right in the beginning of lunch.

Additional thoughts:

  1. It is suggested to use ghee or butter because that adds a special aroma that becomes characteristic to this dish, so try using it and you will notice a nice waft in the air and in your thambuli. 🙂
  2. A variety of thambuli can be made by substituting spinach with other ingredients like ginger, Brahmi (a herb supposedly good for the brain), doddapatre (another commonly grown herb in south India, known as omavalli in Tamil. I’ve  linked it to its closest cousin on wikipedia), and kachisoppu (another garden herb with berries, for which I couldn’t find a link). If you’ve come across other types, please share them with me. I’ll be happy to try it sometime.
  3. By the way, thambuli is pronounced as <thumb>(like the finger) and <uLi> (touching the tongue to your upper palette when you say the ‘L’ sound). 🙂
  4. Lastly, the picture shows some spring onions in the background. They are only present to beautify the photo and are not actually used in this recipe. 😛

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. 🙂

Rasgullas – flavored with saffron and cardamom

Rasgulla – and here’s a close up. 🙂

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! 🙂 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. 🙂

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! 🙂 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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 😛 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. Pavê (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 – with loads of condensed milk, whipped cream and chocolate, this dessert is one of our favorites

Pavê – tried to capture a side view of the layers

The Recipe:

Source – a close friend, Paula

Active preparation time – 25 mins

Inactive time – atleast 2 – 3 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 Pavê 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. 🙂