Saturday, August 18, 2007

Party with Puri

Dear Foodies,

The day after Anita beckoned on us to party, we did just that ! Puri's definitely need no special festive occasion to find their way into our plates. My mom made them may be once in a month or so when we were kids. Like many have mentioned on their blogs, I loved to poke into the puffed up puri's well aware that the steam is going to hurt my hand ! I always ordered chole-bhatura at the chat places, the huge bhatura's with the tangy chole was too enticing to pass up. Even if I attempted to try something else seeing a plate of these beauties on the next table would be enough to change my mind :) I have made puri's a couple of times here and it surely is not too labor intensive. Infact a lot more easier than making chapati's and paratha's dosa's even. And there is the added bonus of frying up some papads and other sun-dried delicacies just so the oil is not wasted ;)

At my place my mother mostly paired puri with Bombay chutney. And before you think chutney !! let me clarify, its a potato gravy, neither from bombay and definitely not a chutney ! Why the name stuck I have no idea, its probably a common pairing in Bombay, but the chutney I have never understood. Its a simple but heavenly combo. And going by the other posts I have read through the week its a universal choice. Whats in a name, I say !

For the puri, I use just wheat flour, salt to taste, a little oil and required amount of water to make a stiff dough. My mom never allows the dough to sit for a long time as it absorbs more oil that way. So make the dough only when you are all ready to flatten it and fry. I follow no particular method, but blindly flatten them out into thin circular rounds. While frying them, keep pouring oil over the top surface with the slotted spoon and gently press the puri surface coaxing it to the puff up. It have always worked for me.

Bombay Chutney:
  • 3 nos - Potatoes, medium size
  • 2 nos - Green chillies, slit
  • 1 nos - Red Onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp - Ginger, finely chopped or a 1" piece crushed
  • 2 tsp - Besan/Gram flour
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp - Oil
  • 2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 2-3 tsp - Chana dal
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • Coriander leaves/cilantro for garnish
  • Lime juice for a final touch
  1. Scrub the potatoes and pressure cook them in water and salt until soft but not mushy. You can do this in the microwave too by adding a few spoons of water, salt and cook for a 8 mins covered. Once cooked peel and cut into cubes or simply crumble into chunks with your hands.
  2. In a pan heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Next add the channa dal, as it turns golden add the curry leaves, a pinch of turmeric and green chillies.
  3. Saute for a min and add the onions. As they turn translucent, mix in the ginger and potatoes. Add 1 cup of water, salt if needed, cover and cook for 8-10 mins until the flavors blend well.
  4. Taste to check for the seasonings and add the besan mixed in a Tbsp of water. Let it come to boil and thicken.
  5. Garnish with cilantro and lime juice. Serve hot with puri, chapati or dosa. It does not pair so well with rice though.
It was wonderful as always. Ginger and green chilli is the main flavor to the dish. No garam masala or any other added embellishments to this one. The dash of lime juice in the end enlivens the whole dish, so don't skip that. We made it last weekend with two other friends visiting us. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon brunch. All of us loved it. Puri, has a lot of nostalgia attached to each one of us and can never ever get lost from our menu anytime soon.

We had half a gallon of milk lying the fridge nearing its death and so we decided to relieve it of its pain. I made Rasgulla's as they are one of the easiest sweets you can do out of the chenna. They did not fluff up as much this time but were just as good. With these juicy lil mouthfuls and some sweet and slightly sour Shrikand the brunch was super satisfying. Food plays such an important roles in our lives that we fail to take notice of it. Nourishment is just a side effect, its the nostalgia, the peace that it fills you with and the way it connects you to people building relations to cherish all through our lives that puts it in the spotlight (not to forget it becoming the center of most conversations :D)

Thank you Anita for getting all of us to pamper ourselves and our friends with this dish. And a huge thank you to my roomie who actually prepared this, I just blurted out the my mom's recipe and she got it to perfection !

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Three Cheers to the 60yr old !

Dear Foodies,

India has completed 60 golden years today and we are definitely growing in leaps and bounds. Good luck to our nation and to us ! Happy Independence day to all you proud Indians out there.

Our National Anthem

A few interesting Independence day special bites from other bloggers:
Cinnamon Trail
Saffron Trail
The 'yum' blog
La Gourmet Chef

Anita placed an order not many can deny, so this weekend we went the extra mile..or two :)) and made Poori-Aloo, Rasgulla and Shrikand, one of these was store bought ;)

Swaatantra Dina Subhakankshalu !
Iniya Sudhandhira Dina Vazhthukkal !
Swatantratha Divas Mubarak ho !

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Veggie Burgers

Dear Foodies,

Inspired and motivated by the posts from Nandita and Bee, I finally got things together to make my own burgers. I loved the idea of using beans as the base for the burgers and Bee's pic was the final push I needed. Being a vegetarian I hardly have any choices in any of the huge fast food chains. Wendy's is the only place I can get a veggie burger and fortunately for me I like it (I do throw away the cheese slice though !) I also have a problem with the frozen patties we get in the stores. They are so full of cheese and lately I have a bad reaction to certain kinds of mushrooms and so avoid them as much as I can, I love them and so miss them though :(( With such a narrowed down list I hardly get a chance to enjoy a burger. The only burger patty I truly loved was the Indian burger patty from Trader Joe's. It was super delicious. It had a potato base and the blend of spices was just perfect. So when I decided to make a burger I knew I had to try and replicate that flavor somehow.

I tried two different flavor combinations and liked both of them. I used a variety of flavors and tried to make them a little different from each other by using different bases. The first is a Kidney bean & Corn burger, the second is a Potato & Paneer burger. To make them low-fat and also to avoid standing by the oil pan/tava cooking them, I choose to use the oven. I also froze the finished burger patties by simply wrapping the room temperature patties in aluminum foil. They have lasted upto a month now !! I store the sliced veggies in plastic containers in the fridge and so a nice snack or lite meal is just a few minutes away :)

Kidney bean & Corn Burger

Ingredients :
  • 1 can - Kidney beans/Rajma
  • 1/2 cup - Potato, boiled and mashed
  • 1 nos - fresh Corn on the cob or 2 cups frozen corn
  • 3 nos - Green chillies
  • 2 tsp - Ginger, finely chopped
  • Cilantro
  • Salt, Red Chilli powder, Amchur, Cumin powder and Dhania powder - As per taste
  • 1/2 cup - powdered roasted Almonds
  • 1/2 cup -Sesame seeds
  • Oil to coat the burgers
  1. Prep Work: Wash and halve a medium sized potato. Place it in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle with water and salt, cover and cook in the microwave for about 4-5 mins until soft. Peel the skin.
    ~Thaw the frozen corn. If using fresh corn you can either broil it in the oven with some oil brushed on it or use it raw like I did. Cut the kernels off the cob and reserve.
    ~Drain and wash one can of kidney beans. Pat dry with a paper towel to get rid of the moisture.
    ~Spread a handful of Almonds on a microwave safe plate and zap for 30-45 seconds. They will turn a slight golden color. Allow to cool and rough chop them or use a spice grinder to get a coarse powder.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400deg C
  3. In a huge bowl place the kidney beans, corn & boiled potato(when slightly warm) and mash with a fork or potato masher.
  4. Place the green chillies, ginger and cilantro together and mince together to get a near fine paste.
  5. Add this to the burger base and continue to add salt and rest of the spices. Amchur adds the tangyness without the addition of liquid through lime. Cumin adds a smoky flavor and dhania and red chilli powder add extra heat. I used approximately 2-3 tsp of each. I kept tasting it to adjust the flavors to my liking.
  6. Add the almond powder and combine well to get a dough like mixture.
  7. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and brush it with oil uniformly to avoid sticking of the burgers.
  8. Spread the sesame seeds on a plate, shape the burger into a patty of desired thickness and shape, dip into the seeds so they stick well and place on the baking sheet.
  9. Drizzle oil(I used olive oil) to coat all the burgers and place in the oven. I cooked them for the initial 6-7 mins on 400, then 3-4 mins on 450 and then once the edges were turning crisp I changed the setting to broil and cooked for 3-4 mins. Adjust the timings as per your oven temperatures and experience.
Potato-Paneer Burger
  • 2 nos - medium sized Potatoes
  • 1/2 cup - crumbled Paneer
  • 1 Tbsp - Besan
  • 5-6 nos - Pudina leaves
  • 3 nos - Green chillies
  • 2 tsp - Ginger, finely chopped
  • Salt, Red Chilli powder, Amchur, Cumin powder and Pav Bhaji/Garam masala - As per taste
  • Oil to coat the burgers
  1. Prep Work:Wash and halve the potatoes. Place them in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle with water and salt, cover and cook in the microwave for about 4-5 mins until soft.
    ~Place the pudina leaves, chillies and ginger together and mince well.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400deg C
  3. Peel and mash the potatoes when warm. Add the crumbled paneer and the pudina-chilli-ginger paste to it.
  4. Add the rest of the spices and salt, starting with 1 tsp of each first and then taste and adjust the flavors as you go ahead.
  5. Mash the ingredients together and add besan to get a dough like mixture.
  6. Follow steps from 10 to make the rest of the burger.
To assemble the burger:
2 slices of your favorite Bread - I used whole wheat
Lettuce leaves
Sliced Cucumber & Tomatoes
Sliced red onions, soaked in balsamic vinegar
Ketchup & Mint chutney
~Spread ketchup on one of the slices of bread and mint chutney on another. Place a leaf of lettuce on one and on it the burger patty. Pile on the veggies and top with the second slice of bread. Toasting the bread is optional. Combine the sandwich with fresh fruits, juice and chips to have a perfect little meal for yourself

This was the perfect bite of burger I have had in a very long time. Since I made the patty to suit my taste the final burger was just fabulous. The Kidney bean burger had everything in the right flavors. The crunch from the corn and the texture of the beans and not to forget the nutty crunch of the almonds. I absolutely loved it. The best part is the choice of topping too...luscious cucumbers instead of pickles and the mellowed flavor of red onions instead of the white onions, fresh leaves of lettuce, juicy tomatoes....there was absolutely nothing to not love in this one. You can just not go wrong with home made burger patties. I will try them next time with roasted fresh corn.

The potato burger was my favorite of the two. It came extremely close to the Trader Joe's patty and may be even better than that :) I loved the flavors in this one with the more dominant mint here rather than the cilantro in the bean burger. I left the potatoes and paneer a little chunky and loved the tang from the amchur and pav bhaji masala. I was just waiting for meal times so I could make myself a guilt free, flavor loaded burger. Having all the veggies pre-cut and stored in boxes and pairing it with orange juice and fresh fruits made it a ultra satisfying meal :)

I strongly recommend all of you to try making your own burgers. You need no strict recipes, just a basic idea and you will be all set. And like I already mentioned, these store really well, nearly more than a month when frozen. Just pull one out, microwave for 30 secs and toast on the pan if you want it crisp. Thats is all !! So get set and GO !

As Nandita has rightly suggested in the comments, I'm going to pack a couple of burgers for Anupama's Fun in the Sun event :) These burgers can surely be made on the picnic site if you have a grill or you can make them at home and carry them in an ice box.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Decked up Maggi noodles

Dear Foodies,

You might be thinking why a recipe and an entire post for Maggi ! Everyone loves it and surely make it at home. Its a newbies comfort food that they whip up with confidence. Well, the reason is until I ate Maggi made by someone other than I mom, I din't realize that cooking Maggi wasn't the same for everyone. It is a universal dish but with a uniqueness added by each one. In my home the first time we had it was when my uncle introduced it to us. Maggi as I know always has onions, carrots and tomatoes with peas paying an occasional visit, just the way the picture on the packet shows it. Maggi cooked plainly in the the masala was unimaginable to me and still is :)) A friend of mine makes a Maggi upma similar in style to the usual Rava Upma. I'll tell you about that in a little while.

Once you see how well are Maggi noodles can be decked up, I am sure you will not think of the plain maggi masala one :) On to my recipe now,

Thats my new Faberware Santoku knife, absolutely love it

For one pack of Maggi,
  • 1/2 cup - Red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup - Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup - Carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 cup - Green peas
  • 1 nos - Green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp - Turmeric powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • Coriander leaves for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp - Oil
For extra zing: One or more of
  • 1 tsp - Chilli powder
  • 2 tsp - Maggi Hot n Sweet ketchup
  • 2 tsp - masala from your favorite pickle (Tomato/Mango/Red chilli)
  • 1 Tbsp -Roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp - Ginger-garlic paste
  1. Heat oil in a pan and roast the peanuts first if using them. Then add the green chillies and onions. Add turmeric and saute till the onions turn translucent (add the ginger-garlic paste if using )
  2. Add the tomatoes and carrots next. Cook until the tomatoes turn mushy and the carrots become tender.
  3. Next add the masala that comes with the noodles, salt and 2 1/4 cups of water(or as indicated + 1/4 cups for the veggies) and cover with a lid.
  4. Once the water comes to a boil add the peas and Maggi noodles and cook until all the water evaporates or gets absorbed by the noodles. Add the ketchup or the pickle masala when half the water has evaporated. The noodles should be soft must smash easily when pressed between your fingers.
  5. Turn off the stove when you can still see a little water like a gravy coating the noodles if you like to slurp your noodles. Garnish with coriander leaves &/or Lime juice and enjoy your bowl of comfort :)

This is my favorite way of eating Maggi, there is flavor bursting out of every noodle strand, not to mention all the memories stuck to it. The veggies add a lot of flavor and color making it a lot more appetizing. The volume of dish also gets doubled making the more number of servings per packet. The ketchup and pickle addition gives the maggi soo much flavor and its also deliciously spicy :) If you have not tried this version do try are sure to love it.

And as I mentioned earlier my dear friend makes her Maggi - Upma style, including the initial roasting part. In a pan dry roast the Maggi noodles my breaking them lengthwise and browning them on all sides. They burn easily so keep a careful watch. Once that is done, transfer them to a plate, heat some oil and make a tadka of Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, Chana dal, Green chillies and curry leaves next add water, Maggi masala and let the water come to a boil. Add the roasted Maggi noodles and cook until done. This is such a wonderful variation of cooking Maggi. The browning of the noodles adds a lot of flavor to the final dish. Do try this version too.

So there you go, two of my versions for our dear 2 minute Maggi its your turn to tell me yours :)

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