Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas !!

Dear Foodies,

I finally managed to make a full fledged Eggless Fruit Cake !!! yaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy now I am going to enjoy the cake for Christmas !! You take care and have loads of fun and come back to blogging with all your wonderful stories after the weekend :-)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Majjiga Pulusu/Mor Kuzhambu

Dear Foodies,

After a very long time I am posting a recipe from my mom. She sent me a few recipes with pictures quiet a few months back, but I never got around to putting it up. She had made Aratipoola pappu podi ( also known as patoli or usili) and majjiga pulusu for lunch at home. I was going to put in both of them in this post but realized there was a lot more I wanted to write about the plantain flowers, so thats again going to be a post some time hopefully in the near future !! For today I'll be serving some cool and extremely comforting pulusu made with buttermilk.

This one is called 'majjiga(buttermilk) pulusu' in Telugu and 'Mor Kozhambu' in Tamil. It is similar to the North Indian 'Kadi'. You can add veggies like okra, brinjal, white pumpkin or bottle gourd or some spinach or collard greens to it, or when your fridge is empty you can add lil fried besan bajji's or steamed chana dal-toor dal dumplings. I generally end up making this when we have loads of buttermilk nearing its expiry date !! hehe

  • 3 cups - Buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup - Coconut (freshly grated/dessicated)
  • 2 tsp - Chana dal
  • 1 tsp - Toor dal
  • 2 tsp - Rice
  • 2-3 nos - Green chillies/dry red ones if thats all you have !
  • 1 tsp - Cumin seeds
  • Pinch of turmeric (optional)
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 tsp -Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • A sprig of curry leaves and coriander leaves for garnish.
  1. Soak the chana dal, toor dal and rice in some warm water for 15-20 mins. I generally toss in the dessicated coconut, cumin seeds and the chillies in the water too, just to make it easier to grind in my very delicate blender.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan and saute the veggies and reserve or blanch some spinach or collard greens.
  3. Grind the soaked ingredients to a coarse paste by adding sufficient water.
  4. Add this to the buttermilk along with some salt and the veggies or greens or the steamed dal dumplings/besan bajjis and heat the whole thing on medium heat.
  5. Don't let it boil, but just until it raises up and then turn off the heat.
  6. Season it by spluttering some mustard seeds, and curry leaves in coconut oil.
Sit back and enjoy every morsel of rice had along with this extremely delightful and soothing dish !! Pair it with this for a absolutely wonderful combo and you can use the same steamed dal as dumplings for the pulusu :-)

Steamed, coarsely pulsed chana dal, toor dal and red chilli dumplings. recipe??

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wanna Puff ???

Dear Foodies,

Any body interested in a Veggie Puff ???


I have always liked vegetable puffs more than samosas, though it was the samosa that was considered the Badshah of snacks !! And more the people around me raved about them, so much more my love for puffs increased ! I have no reasoning for it, probably a kiddish emotion, but it has stuck to me until now. I miss eating them can somehow manage to get samosa's in restaurants or the frozen sections of Indian grocery stores...but the puffs somehow chose to stay away from it all, they were happy sitting on the local bakery shelves hot out of the rustic ovens :-(

A few months back the craving for these beauties sky-rocketed, I guess due to their appearances in the blogs and also because it was so damn simple to make them if you had the pastry sheets !! But finding those sheets turned out to be the most difficult part for me. I looked and looked and looked ... for them in the grocery stores near my apartment and surprisingly none of them stocked those sheets, either they never had it on their list, or just stopped ordering them :-(( Finally last weekend, on my trip to Meijer's I found something similar, I was actually looking for Pepperidge puff pastry sheets, as that was what all the bloggers had mentioned, but Meijer's chose to stock only the shells !! Luckily they had this other brand which was for phyllo sheets and I blindly grabbed two boxes of those. I had no idea what they were meant for and chose to experiment with them.

The phyllo sheets are really really thin white sheets of flour dough, about 2 rolls of 8-10 stacked sheets in each box. They reminded me of the famous Andhra sweet, putharekhulu or paper sweet as I call it. Since they were that thin, I cut the long sheets into 3" rectangles and used 6 of those for each puff.

For the stuffing, I drew a blank. It felt like ages since I had a veggie puff and I totally forgot what the stuffing was. I knew it had to have potatoes and onions. After a lil consultation with my mom, I added in some green peas and carrots. It wasn't the perfect stuffing, but was surely good enough.

I made another stuffing too :-) I have been wanting to make Saffron's Paneer Burji for a looooonggg time now and since I had a near half gallon of milk close to its expiry date in the refridgerator, it was just puurrrrfect :-) hahaha

So well, here goes the recipes

Click on image to enlarge
Potato filling:


microwave till cooked:
2 nos - Potatoes; 1/2 cup - Green Peas; 1/2 cup - Carrots, grated; the last two were from the from frozen packs.

2 Tbsp - Oil; 1 tsp - mustard seeds; 1 tsp - Cumin seeds; 1 tsp - Saunf(optional); 1 inch - ginger piece, julienned; 2 nos - Green chillies, finely chopped; 1 nos - Onion, finely chopped; 1 tsp - Turmeric powder; 1 tsp - Coriander powder;

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and toss in the mustard seeds, once they start popping add the cumin seeds, saunf, ginger and green chillies, fry for a min and add the chopped onions, turmeric powder and coriander powder.
  2. Once the onions turn translucent add the boiled and peeled potatoes. Mash the potatoes with the back of the spoon or a potato masher. Add some salt and water(if needed) and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Next add the carrots and peas and cook till the spices blend in.
  4. Garnish with coriander leaves and some lemon juice.
* You can add tomatoes too after step 1 and cook for awhile before adding the potatoes :-)

Paneer stuffing:

For the Paneer Burji I followed Saffron's recipe, with the addition of tomatoes and some coriander powder instead of pepper.

Getting the Puffs ready:
  1. Thaw the pastry sheets by moving them from the freezer to the refrigerators main section.
  2. Things to have ready at hand before getting the pastry sheets out:
    • Have your stuffings ready (and photographed ;-)
    • Pre-heat the oven to about 250C
    • Clean your counter top and dust it with some flour to get rid of moisture.
    • Melt some butter and have a brush by the side if you have one
    • Have two moist tissues or a cloth ready to cover the sheets that you won't be working on immediately and a plastic wrap, cut to the length of your pastry sheets.
    • Finally, dry your hands, as any water will spoil the sheets :-)
  3. Doing all the above is really important and I learnt after loosing 1-2 sheets. On exposure to air these sheets get really brittle and cannot be shaped or used !!
  4. The pastry roll has about 8 sheets in it, un-roll and take out 4 sheets first and roll up the rest and send them into the refrigerator again.
  5. Spread out the 4 sheets and cut into 3 equal portions along the length.
  6. Place the plastic wrap over 2 of these portions and cover with a moist cloth/tissue. Placing the cloth directly will make the sheets too sticky and dough like and render them unusable !!
  7. Now carefully separate the 4 sheets of the 1st portion and brush a little butter on each and stack them up again. This is to ensure that you get your layers. You have to be really fast in all this, notice the sheets getting brittle and cracking in the pic below !!
  8. Spoon a little filling into the center or the sheets and then fold the corners onto it so as to completely cover the filling.
  9. Seal the edges by pressing them together and applying some more butter or a lil water.
  10. Brush a little butter on the top of the puff and place it on a greased and flour dusted baking tray. Immediately send the tray into the oven and bake for about 15-20 mins or till you see a uniform golden crust.
  11. As and when you have your puffs stuffed send them into the oven, keeping them out for even for a minute will make the outer sheets brittle !!
  12. Once done try to hold yourself till the puffs cool down a bit as the stuffing will be extremely hot. I had some Maggie Hot n Sweet sauce which is my favorite and it was just the perfect sauce for the puffs.
Click on image to enlarge
I initially made separate puffs for each filling, but slowly added a layer of both into each puff. You can see that in the picture above showing the stuffing on the sheets. They taste really really gooood and the ketchup was just amazing !! I finally got to eat puffs here in the US and I am sure that I will be making them more often.

You can also use sliced hard boiled eggs to make some egg puffs or use a meat filling too.

If you get the Pepperidge puff pastry sheets I would suggest you use them to make puffs. I think they are sheets of thickly stacked layers and all you will have to do is flatten them a bit, stuff them, brush a little butter on the outside and bake them. You will not have to take the trouble of buttering each sheet and seeing that they don't dry etc etc

Once you have these little wonders ready with some yummy ketchup, set yourself on the couch with some hot chai as Chandrika & Anupama have suggested in the comments and enjoy the gloomy weather outside :-)

And now, the these two veggie puffs are off to Pooja's Potato week :-), have your cup of tea ready Pooja !

Monday, December 11, 2006

Oven Roasted Potatoes

Dear Foodies,

Click on image to enlarge
Since the time I discovered that we had ovens in our kitchens, I have been trying to use it when ever I can. Well, I think I'll have to explain a bit, though its common knowledge to many of you that almost all US kitchens come with a oven by default, me n my roomies never realized that for many months. Through the first year of a our stay, we used it as a rack for storing vessels !!! And I guess it wasn't in working conditions either, and well we weren't in the mood to explore the kitchen while there was a whole new world outside to explore !! :-) Only after we moved to a bigger apt, implying a one bedroom apt with an an extra dining room added to the kitchen-living-bedroom apt we had before, and should I mention 3 gals share it !! :-), did we start using the oven for purposes other than storage !! And need I also mention we were barely cooking the first few months, and trying hard to cook the basic dals and curries that go with rice, so you can imagine that we never found the need to look for a oven in the first place, we were blissfully happy to find a neat storage place though :-D !!

Well, so lately, I have used it for making guiltless chips out of green plantains, bitter gourd and potatoes. When I saw Nabeela's roast potatoes that she made along with her chicken, I wanted to try making it separately too. She also has a separate recipe for it here.

Click on image to enlarge
I used a different mix of spices, I basically added those that I had with me. I cubed 2 potatoes, tossed them in some oil, a mix of olive oil and vegetable oil, roughly 1 tsp of each. Added some salt, red chilli powder, corinder powder and turmeric. I baked them in the oven, pre-heated to 350F, for about 20 mins, then increased the temp to about 400F-450F for another 10-15mins till they turned golden crisp. Instead of being part of our meal, we finished it off as a snack :-P ..hehe

The best part of using the oven for making this dish or the chips is, I found them to stay crisp for a longer time when compared to frying them in oil on a stove-top. This way of cooking also reduces the amount of oil drastically and there are no hassles of bubbling hot oil in the kitchen, just leave them in the oven and peacefully forget about them for awhile !!

I am going to send this platter to Pooja, for her 'Vegetable of the Week' event !!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

One Pot Meals - Capsicum Rice

Dear Foodies,

I saw a whole lot of recipes for Capsicum rice in Indian food blogs but never attempted making it myself, as I am a little moody when it comes to eating them. They do'nt spontaneously get into my 'most-liked' veggies. I pick and choose what dishes I can eat them in. My roommate makes a wonderful dish with capsicums cooked in a peanut based gravy, I like it a lot, but then I will only eat the gravy and not the peppers !! And sometimes I cut and chop them myself and use them in sambar as I like the flavor they add to it !! :-D

So, on one such 'I-like-capsicums' day I started out making a pulao using capsicums. I used a my own simple style and set out chopping the capsicum, and then I heard my roomie asking me to add potatoes, so I washed a few potatoes too. When I opened the refrigerator to get some coriander leaves I saw a can of chickpeas staring at me and the next moment I was washing a bowl of them. To accompany then I added some roasted peanuts too :-) And slowly my capsicum rice transformed into something totally different but still pleasing to the taste buds.

  • 2 nos - Green Capsicum/bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 nos - a big Potato, cubed
  • 1 nos - Onion, cubed
  • 1 cup - Chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup - Peanuts
  • 2 nos - Green Chillies
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, julienned
  • 2 nos - Garlic cloves, julienned
  • few sprigs of Coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp - Shahjeera
  • 3 nos - Green Cardamom/Elaichi
  • 5-6 nos - Cloves/Laung
  • 2 nos - Cinnamon, 1 inch sticks
  • 1 tsp - Mint leaves, dried ( optional)
  • 1 tsp - Coriander/Dhania powder (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp - Oil / ghee
  • 3 cups - Rice, I use Sona Masoori
  1. Wash and soak the rice till the veggies get done.
  2. Heat oil in a wide pan, once hot add the shahjeera, you can also use normal Cumin seeds/jeera. As they start to brown, add the rest of the ingredients in the spice list through to the mint leaves and toast them for a few seconds.
  3. Next add the peanuts and roast them well.
  4. Now add the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute before you add the onions. After the onions turn translucent add the capsicum. I don't like to cook them until tender at this stage and allow them to retain some crunch. Next add the chickpeas and saute till they start getting a crisp at the outer skin.
  5. Toss in the cubed potatoes now, peeling them is left to your choice. Also add some salt sufficient for the veggies and some dhania powder. Cover and cook for a few minutes till the potatoes get a little tender. Add half the coriander leaves too.
  6. Now drain and add the rice and mix well. I saute it till the little water left in the drained rice evaporates and the grains get coated with the oil and look glossy, this will take just 2-3 minutes if the rice is drained well.
  7. Transfer it all to the electric cooker, add the required amount of water and salt and cook to perfection !!
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with raita or any gravy of your choice. Will post my recipe for 'bagara baingan with a twist' in my next post which goes perfectly with this dish :-)
  • You can choose your own mix of vegetables for this dish.
  • A ground paste of mint, coriander leaves and green chillies could be added for a variation.
  • Instead of using all water for cooking the rice, you can add a cup of coconut milk and reduce the amount of water accordingly.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Munakkaya Pulusu - Drumstick cooked with Tamarind

Dear Foodies,

I only recently realized that our Indian store stocks frozen drumsticks, and from then on I get a pack of these every time we go grocery shopping. We use it in Sambar and Pulusu, this one above is Munakkaya Pulusu. The difference between Sambar and Pulusu, is that the latter either has no dal in it or very little dal unlike Sambar.

Will be back with the recipe in awhile :-)

I wanted to write about the different tamarind based dishes that we make in our house, but I haven't been able to manage time for that. So I am going to directly jump to the recipe and reserve that thought for another post. This pulusu is extremely easy to make, you will know once you see the ingredients list itself !! I myself was a bit stunned while writing it down and tried hard to see if I missed something ..hehe. All it needs is some tamarind extract, a veggie and some sambar powder. Just leave it to boil to all its glory and its ready to serve :-)

  • 5-6 nos - Drumstick pieces, 3" in size
  • Golf ball sized Tamarind, pulp extracted or 2 Tbsp - Tamarind Extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp - Sambar Powder
  • 1 tsp - Turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-4 cups - Water
  • 1 tsp - Oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1-2 nos - Dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp - Rice flour
  1. Microwave the tamarind in a cup of water and extract the pulp.
  2. In a vessel, take 2 cups of water and add the tamarind extract and allow it to boil. Also add salt, sambar powder and turmeric powder. If using fresh drumsticks add them to the water and cook. Since I used frozen ones which turn soft when thawed, I added them after the tamarind water came to a boil.
  3. Once the tamarind has lost its raw smell check to see if the tangyness of the pulusu is to your taste and add water accordingly.
  4. To make the pulusu thick, mix a spoon of rice flour in 2 Tbsp of water and add to the tamarind water and allow to boil.
  5. Do the popu/tadka by heating the oil, add the mustard seeds, once they pop add the red chillies and turn off the heat.
  6. Add this to the Pulusu and serve hot with rice or chapatis !!
  • You can use okra, pearl onions, bottlegourd and make a similar pulusu. The okra and onions will have to be sauted in oil before adding the tamarind water.

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