Friday, July 31, 2009

ICC - Dhokla

Dear foodies,

I'm sure you guys have already seen many dhokla filled posts coming up on many blogs today, and here is another to add to that list. Srivalli initiated the Indian cooking challenge a month back and this is the first official outcome of the event. She picked Dhokla's for this round and gave us a tried and tested recipe to recreate at home, thank you! I've made Dhokla before but it was never a full-fledged effort. The right tempering on the dhokla's and the fixings on the sides add a lot to its taste. On it own it does not create the same magic for your taste buds.

Dhokla - Steamed lentil cakes
  • Besan – 1½ cups
  • Curd – ½ cup (not sour)
  • Water – ½ cup
  • Cooking soda – ½tsp
Seasoning for the batter:
  • Oil – 1tbsp
  • Turmeric – a pinch
  • Green chili – 2, coarsely crushed
  • Sugar – 1tsp
  • Citric Acid – ¼ tsp
  • Eno – 1tsp
  • Mustard Seeds – 1tsp
  • Coriander leaves – 2tbsp
  • Curry leaves – 6
  1. In a bowl, mix curd & water. To this add the besan and mix well to get a lump less batter, the consistency should be of idli batter, more of dropping not pouring consistency. Slowly add more water if needed. Add soda and keep it aside to rise for 1 hour.
  2. Add the seasonings - citric acid, oil, salt, sugar, green chili paste and turmeric powder - and mix well. Heat water in a pressure cooker. When it comes to a boil, add eno to the batter, sprinkling some on the steaming dish & immediately transfer to the cooker. The batter should be filled to only 1/2 as it will rise up. After adding eno the batter should not rest. Amount of sugar can be increased on preference. Steam for 5-7mins.
  3. After 5 -7 minutes, remove the lid and proof it using toothpick or knife. If the knife comes out clean and does not have any batter sticking, then its done. Cover back and let it remain on flame for 1 min and switch off the gas and allow it for 5 minutes. Note: Dhokla can also be steamed in kadai filled with water and a plated titled over it.
  4. In a bowl, mix 3 tsp of water along with a tsp of oil. Remove the plate from the pan, pour the water and oil mix over the top.
  5. For seasoning, heat a pan with oil, add curry leaves, sesame seeds, mustard seeds and finely chopped green chilies. When mustard starts popping, remove and pour over the dhokla
Green chutney
  • Coriander - 1 bunch
  • Mint leaves - 2-3 sprigs
  • Green chili - 4-5 no
  • Coconut - 4- 5 pieces
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • juice of 1 Lime
  • Salt to taste
Blend all the ingredients except coriander & lime juice in a food processor. Grind to a smooth paste. Finally add the coriander and again grind. Remove to a bowl, add the remaining lime and serve with Dhoklas.
I made a make shift arrangement for the steamer dish. I did not have one that would fit into my pressure cooker and so I wrapped two layers of heavy (thick) aluminum foil around a stainless steel lid and created a ~3" edge with it.

These came out really well, and the best part for me was the tempering. It gives it the perfect taste that you get from the good store bought ones. I also made the green chutney and had some store-bought sweet tamarind chutney. Was too eager to eat these that I forgot to get a shot of the dhokla's with the chutney's :) Go make your own now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

HHDD - Summer Salads

Dear foodies,

Lime & Mint noodle salad
A few months back Soma was playing host to the 26th edition of HHDD – Hay Hay its Donna Day. It is an event created to celebrate the wonderful recipes by Donna Hay. The recipes are simple, straight-forward and satisfying. She made a enticing roasted vegetables pasta dish and invited us to re-create a version of the dish. I sent in my pasta recipe to her event and was pleasantly surprised to be picked the winner. The event was placed on hold the past few months and that's when Denise of Chez Us stepped in and took over the reins for this lovely event from Bron. Read more about the event here & here.

I got stuck with a bad bout of cold and haven’t been able to share the event announcement with all of you earlier. It being summer, I choose salads as the theme and Donna Hay has many easy, refreshing salad recipes. I was browsing through part of her collection and the Lime & Mint noodle salad looked really good. The salad was bursting with fresh summery flavors – crisp beans and potent herbs like mint & cilantro, jazzed up with lime juice. (The overgrown mint plant in my patio did not have any influence on my selection ) I had some bean thread noodles left over from the fresh spring rolls I made earlier and the salad was ready in about 15mins!

Here is the recipe I used. I used regular cucumber instead of the Lebanese ones and used low-sodium Tamari instead of the fish sauce (make sure to taste and add more salt). I also was generous in adding the crushed peanuts, love them :D The salad can be served cold or at room temperature and is ready to be eaten immediately. I made it for dinner last night and had the leftovers for lunch today and it tasted even better with the noodles soaking up all the flavorful dressing.The mint, lime and cilantro create magic for your tastebuds. It’s a really flavorful salad and the bean noodles make it filling. Its a perfect vehicle to savor the fresh vegetables in the market, and did I say it has no oil! And if you use the microwave to cook the beans and warm water for the noodles, you don't have to turn on the stove.

So now it’s your turn to toss up a Summer salad, here are a few rules for you - slightly modified from what Denise has on her page.

Hay Hay it’s Donna Day is open to all food and wine bloggers.
  1. Entries submitted for HHDD must be made specifically for the current round of this event, although photos may be submitted to photo competitions such as “Does My Blog Look Good In This.”
  2. I've chosen Summer Salads as the theme this month. Participants may make that exact same recipe as is, or put their own spin on the recipe by altering the ingredients whilst remaining with the theme. Or if they prefer participants may share a well loved recipe within the same theme.
  3. Entrants must include a link to this announcement page and to Denise, the facilitator in their entry post.
  4. Entries can be made at any time once the event has been announced, but must be posted and emailed to the host by the closing date - August 15th, 2009.
At the end of the event, I will create a round up of the recipes and they will be open for VOTING. The winner will get to host the next edition of HHDD on their blog :)
A few more pointers:
  • Use a salad recipe given by Donna Hay, you will find some very good ones HERE. Try to stay close to the basic recipe, but feel free to add you own twist and personalize it.
  • It needs to be a light salad using fresh seasonal produce - could be vegetables or fruits. Even better if you can use something you grow in your garden.
  • I’d prefer if you make it a vegetarian dish (no-meat), but if you have to, it would be nice if you could suggest a vegetarian alternative :)

So there, I'm done with the rules, now have fun with salads in the next few weeks and come back to share them with me. I'll be waiting to hear from you :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Breakfast time

Dear foodies,
Divya asked us all to show her what we have for breakfast. Breakfast is my undoing, I know I've said it before, but no matter how hard I try, things haven't changed. Weekdays I try to squeeze in a bowl of oatmeal or cereals or toasted bread with jam (which I eat in the car :D) From my trip to the farmers market last week, I got some freshly baked whole wheat bread, cucumbers, tomatoes and a lot of cilantro. I had the green chutney I made for the ragda patties

world's best sandwich
This is my dad's recipe, he uses the soft milk bread we get in India, but any soft bread will do. Slather each slice with softened butter, and then a layer of green chutney. Add slices of cucumber and juicy tomatoes on one and top with the other piece of bread. Thats it...thats all you need for the perfect breakfast ( or lunch or dinner :-P) For an Italian twist, skip the cucumber and top the tomatoes with fresh basil leaves instead.
This is the real deal, made by dad with mom's special pudina chutney.

Other breakfast options that I've cooked in the past are here. What are your quick weekday breakfast options ?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Cabbage and peas curry

Dear foodies,

Hope you guys are having a great weekend. I surely am having fun, cooking up a storm from the bags of fresh veggies and fruits I bought at the farmers market here. The one I visited this time is the largest I've ever been too, and it was overwhelming to see the abundance of fresh produce and deli items in one place. Here are a few photos from the trip. And as expected I bought more than I planned too. I went to one of the fruit stalls to get a basket of strawberries and ended up buying a huge pineapple :-P The guy at the stall force fed me a piece of pineapple and after tasting the juicy fruit I could not resist, and the story repeated itself for the pound of plums and nectarines that I have sitting on the kitchen counter...and oh, the bag of cherries too :) I made a yogurt & berry cake for breakfast y'day and a second batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam to accompany the whole wheat bread that I also bought at the market.

Today, I slow-roasted a pound of tomatoes for trying out Nupur's pasta salad recipe, pan roasted colored baby carrots with a herb-balsamic glaze and made some super yummy tomatillo salsa :D Hopefully that will all make it to the blog, and to you, before the summer fades off. I am loving the long days of summer. Though it has completely messed up my sleep routine, I am enjoying the long hours of sunlight that allow me to take photos of the food I cook for dinner. I'm still not sure if I am cooking so much because the photos turn out good, or if its the fresh produce from the market thats more tempting.

After reading Shaheen's beautiful Malabar food post on Sailu's blog, I was carving some cabbage thoran. Luckily, I had a beautiful head of cabbage & fresh green peas in the fridge and I set out making the curry and roti's for dinner that night. I made it the way my mom makes it, which is only slightly different from the way Shaheen explained. My mother also substitutes the coconut with soaked moong dal sometimes, this time though I stuck to the former.
Cabbage & Green Peas curry
  • 1/2 head of Cabbage (~ 3.5 cups, shredded)
  • 1/2 cup - fresh, Green peas (or frozen)
  • 4 Tbsp - freshly grated Coconut (or frozen)
  • 2-3 - Green chillies, slit lengthwise (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp - Jeera/Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp - Channa dal
  • a sprig of Curry leaves (~ 6-8 leaves)
  • 1 Tbsp - Oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. Peel the outer layers of the cabbage, and halve it. Discard the thick core and shred/cut it in thin long strips.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard & jeera seeds, as they start to splutter add the channa dal. When the dal starts to change color add the slit green chillies, roughly torn curry leaves and saute for a few seconds.
  3. Toss in the shredded cabbage along with some salt, cover with a lid and cook for 3-4 mins. The salt releases the inherent water in the cabbage which should be sufficient to cook it in.
  4. Finally add the grated (thawed, if frozen) coconut, mix well and cook for a additional 2-3 mins to allow of the flavors to mingle. Fresh cabbage hardly takes time to soften, so check to see if its tender. The cabbage should retain a bit of crunch when done.
  5. Turn off the heat, add the fresh peas, cover and let the curry rest for 5-7mins before serving with warm roti's or rice.
* You could also soak soy granules (eg: nutrela brand) in some warm water for 10 mins, squeeze out the water and add it to the curry in step 4, instead of coconut ~ Mom's update.
This a dish that gets done in minutes and blows you away with its simplicity. No overpowering spices, just a basic tadka and the flavors of the veggies that come together harmoniously. I made some chapati's to go along with it, but it pairs really well with rice and sambar too. My fav combu though it with rice & buttermilk. The mild cabbage along with the juicy peas is a delight to eat. If using moong dal, pre-soak it in water for 15-20 mins and add it along with the cabbage. Since it has a short cooking time, it will be done along with the cabbage. In this case, you can skip the coconut. I occasionally add slivers of ginger to the initial tadka, which lends some spice to the cabbage and a variation of taste. Sodhi is another interesting dish that I use cabbage in or this raw salad.

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