November 7, 2013

Thinking out-of-the-box with baby eggplants ~ Achari Baingan~


Our Sunday morning visits to the local farmer's market have become a weekly ritual that I really look forward to these days. Heading out to pick veggies for the week, brings about an innate sense of responsibility and satisfaction of going the extra mile to take care of the self. The soothing sight of fresh and vibrant produce complement the hustle and bustle of the accompanying frenzy and bring back pleasant memories of visiting a busy Indian vegetable market (much more cleaner and organized though!). 

If given an option, I would just about buy everything that looks fresh and appetizing. It's really that tempting! But one of the challenges that I often face when I am back home, is to step out of my thinking box and try something new especially when on a time crunch. The biggest criteria being - it has to be appetizing as well as healthy and easy to cook for a regular day to day meal.  Personally, I try to experiment as much as I can by trying out altogether different recipes or on some days shake up things by making small changes in my cooking style (adding jeera as opposed to mustard seeds and so on).

Quite often, some vegetables have such constricted uses that I shudder at the thought of having to make them the regular way. One such veggie is the baby eggplants. I am sure there must be several ways of preparing them, but one dish that distinctly flashes the most is “Bharwa Baigan”. But last Sunday when I picked a dozen of those from the farmer’s market, I mentally swore that I would make anything other than the usual bharva baigan. It's is indeed very delicious, but it is also quite tedious and time consuming. So as I let my imagination play with these glossy baby eggplants, my main aim was to come up with a recipe that was simple to cook in a time crunch along with being excellent in taste.

So here’s the recipe from my experiment with these baby eggplants.

~Achari Baingan~ 







Melt-in-the-mouth baby eggplants and thinly sliced onions seep in the spicy and tangy tomato-yogurt base to make a quick and easy achari (pickle-like) side dish. Perfect for serving up a grand meal at a short notice. 

Ingredients: (Makes 3-4 servings)
12 nos. Baby eggplants
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp chilli powder

3 T Mustard oil (You can use any oil for this).
Pinch of asafetida powder (Hing) (Optional)
1 Medium onion Sliced thinly

Mix together the following:
Two medium tomatoes pureed
3 tsp Sambar powder
1 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp sugar
Salt to taste

2 T yogurt
½ tsp garam masala
Chopped cilantro to garnish.

Method:

1. Make two perpendicular cuts in the form of a cross at the base of the eggplants. Sprinkle salt, turmeric powder and chili powder and massage the insides of the eggplants. Keep aside for 10-15 mins.

2. Over medium heat, add 2 T oil into the pan and once its heated, add in the marinated eggplants. Stir fry for about 3-4 minutes till the eggplants are charred slightly on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. In the same pan, add 1 T of oil to the remaining oil. Once it’s heated up, add in the hing and sliced onions. Sauté till the onions soften and are pink in color (~ 1-2 mins).

4. Now, mix in the dry masala with the tomato puree and add to the oil. Add ½ C of water and let it boil for about 3-4 minutes till oil floats on the top.

5. Once the oil floats on the top, add in the sautéed eggplants into the masala and sauté till the eggplants are soft.

6. Now add in the yogurt, mix well and sprinkle in the garam masala and cook for 1-2 mins. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Notes:
1. To quicken the process further, add a little bit of oil to the marinating eggplants and place in the microwave on high for 4 minutes. This softens the eggplants and reduces cooking time on the stove.

2. To make this dish fancier, you can add a tadka of mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves at the end. It adds a touch of sophistication to the dish and yes the extra love too.

3. I use mustard oil to make it typically achari (pickle-like), you can use any oil that you may want.

Having experimented with these charming eggplants, I was immensely satisfied with the result. It was all the more gratifying that I finally chose to do something with these gorgeous eggplants other than the usual Bharwa baigan. Serve it with plain rice and dal or some fancy pulao, this is a must-make vegetarian dish for all us eggplant lovers.

Don't be afraid to play around with the recipe.Have fun experimenting! :)

Love,
J

P.s: I am sending this recipe to:
- "Diwali Bash-2013" hosted by Vardhini from Cook's joy
"Let's Cook with yoghurt" hosted by Nayna

October 17, 2013

Vegetarian croquette from modern Odia cuisine & the Cuttacki street-food ~ "Vegetable Chop"


There’s never been a cold, rainy day when I haven’t yearned to cuddle up in my cozy comforter gazing out of the window while sipping on a cup of chai generously laced with ginger and munching on crispy home-made pakodas. Although quite a rare occurrence these days, especially with our busy schedules and untimely rain, I considered myself extremely lucky to be home on one such afternoon when it rained generously to my heart’s desire. Just like rain does to every romantic’s heart, it brought out the poetic, creative side of me very willing to experiment.

So on that occasional rainy afternoon, in a quest to celebrate the downpour as I raided my refrigerator to cook up something delish, I came across this half-a-piece of beet lingering in the forgotten corner of my fridge drawer. As I stared at it for a brief moment, the only thing that popped up distinctly was the "vegetable chop". While I am at it, I must confess that I have always had a love-hate relationship with beet.The very few times I had the courage to experiment, it turned out to be a messy, bright magenta blob that tasted a bit too earthy for my taste. So yes! I am guilty of using this vegetable minimally and the only recipe that really motivates me to use it is in its transformed version i.e. in a vegetable chop.In the vegetable chop something really  magical happens and that very beet I detest turns out to be the star.

Now having mentioned the term “vegetable chop” so many times, it would be unfair if I don’t introduce it to you soon. Well, vegetable chop (as we Cuttackis’ call it) is actually a vegetable croquette, distinctly characterized by the presence of bright colored beet in the melee of vegetables within. On an unrelated note, we Cuttackis' for that matter should really think about copyrighting the word “Chop” since it seems very native to Cuttack and I am meted with a blank stare the moment I mention it to any non-Cuttacki. So to simplify, in an average Cuttacki's vocabulary, the word “Chop” is very generally used to refer to any battered and fried vegetable stuffed eatable – be it the Aloo chop or the Vegetable chop.

So here’s the recipe for the famous “Vegetable Chop”


Vegetable Chop



These crispy rolls, made of sautéed veggies wrapped in spiced potato mixture, bread- crumbed and deep fried till golden brown, get their additional punch from the occasional sweetness of the raisin and the freshness of mint. Most aptly described as the Odia version of the dainty croquette.

Ingredients:

1-2 Cloves of thinly sliced garlic
2 T Beet (Thinly sliced)
½ C Carrot (Thinly sliced)
½ C Beans (Thinly sliced)
1 C Onions (Thinly sliced)
2 C Cabbage (Thinly sliced)
3-4 Chilies (Thinly sliced)
1 T Raisins (Optional)
1 T Mint leaves (Chopped)
Tomato Ketchup
Red Chilli powder
Black Pepper powder
Pinch of garam masala (Optional)
Salt to taste.

4 Boiled Medium Sized Potatoes
1 T Cornstarch
1 tsp Black Pepper
½ tsp Amchur (Dried Mango powder)
Salt to taste

1 C Bread crumbs for coating
Oil for frying
  
Method:

For the filling:
1. In a pan over medium-high heat, add oil and let it heat up. Add the garlic and stir till fragrant. Now add in the raisins, beets, carrots, beans, chilies, onions and cabbage in that order.
2. In a separate bowl, mix in the tomato sauce with one tablespoon of water along with red chili powder, pepper powder and salt. Mix well to form a smooth paste.
3. Sauté the vegetable mixture for about 3-4 minutes and then add in the sauce.
4. Keep stirring till the vegetable filling looks glossy. Taste and adjust if necessary. Add the mint leaves and garam masala while the filling is hot still and keep aside.

For the outer covering:
Mash the cooled, boiled potatoes to a smooth paste along with cornstarch, red chili powder, black pepper powder, amchur and salt. Taste and adjust if necessary.

Making the croquettes:
1. Make equal sized balls of the potato mixture. I used the ¼ C scoop measure to measure out equal amounts.
2. Flatten the potato ball and add in 1 T of the filling in the middle. Gather the potato mixture from the sides and form an oblong shaped croquette. You can keep it round too if you like. I preferred it oblong since that's how its originally made.
3. Now, roll the prepared croquettes in seasoned bread crumbs till well coated.
Optional: After this stage, these can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hrs in advance. I keep them at least for about 1/2 hour to make them bind well.
4. Heat up oil in a pan and fry till golden brown.

Notes:
1. The croquettes can be formed almost a day in advance and kept well covered in the fridge. Fry it up the moment when you want to serve them.
2. Tip: I suggest preparing the croquettes and keeping them in the fridge at least half an hour before frying. This binds the balls better and they do not break up while frying.

While it takes time to fry up, don’t forget to put your teapot to work too. There’s nothing more surreal than the heavenly combination of vegetable chop and ginger tea. Once you make it, chai and pakodas might seem a little bit outdated to you.  Don't forget to thank me later when you are done enjoying the bliss.

Love,
J

Submitting this recipe to:
- "Navratri recipes" hosted by Nupur.
- "Diwali Special" by Gayatri
- "Diwali Bash-2013" hosted by Vardhini from Cook's joy
- "Anniversary Celebrations" by Cook,Click and Devour
- " Kid friendly dishes" hosted by Vardhini of Cook's joy.

August 26, 2013

The simple Odia classic - "Chingudi Dahi Besara"/ Steamed yogurt and mustard shrimp curry

Before I begin, I must admit that this post is sure going to have a counter for the word “simple” and might even break the records - the only reason being that this recipe is truly-that-SIMPLE. Being an iconic Odia dish, time and again this preparation would accompany a few more curried dishes on our lunch/dinner table but still manage to hold its place impressively well. Fresh shrimp marinated with yogurt-mustard paste and steamed till the shrimp is melt-in-the-mouth tender does indeed sound like a very good proposition. While “good” shrimp and fish curries are relatively easy to find at the restaurants, rarely have I seen this preparation on any of the restaurant menus here at all and that makes me very sad every time.

Time and again my Ma would prepare this shrimp curry and I would be blown away every single time. Honestly I have been craving for this recipe for a long while now and what better opportunity than to learn from the in-home chef a.k.a my Ma when she was visiting me. So it was quite predictable that I would make fervent demands of this mouth- watering shrimp preparation time and again, while my Ma was more than happy to oblige. But as lazy as I got when she was around, I did manage to learn and demonstrate it to her that all these days apart from being a lazy couch potato, I have indeed been a very good student J.

Quite often in simple preparations like this, it’s not the recipe, but the other simple ways and nuances of its preparation that really counts. Fresh cleaned and deveined shrimp forms the perfect canvass for the distinct mustard flavor and the creaminess of the yogurt to come through. The pungency of the mustard paste mellows down during the steaming and blends in with the accompanying condiments. I have had several versions of this preparation but I am sure to be biased when I say that my Ma’s recipe always tastes the best. The mustard paste and the mustard oil add a distinctive punch to this creamy dish tempered with curry leaves and yet again some more mustard seeds. Now without much ado, here’s our home-style creamy and yes very simple “Chingudi dahi besara”.  

"Chingudi Dahi Besara" a.k.a Steamed yogurt and mustard shrimp curry

This classic Odia steamed shrimp preparation combines the creaminess & tartness of the yogurt with distinctly sharp homemade mustard marinade. This melt-in-your-mouth shrimp curry jumps up a notch with the tempering of curry leaves, slivered garlic and of course some more mustard seeds. "Besara" refers to the mustard paste along with the condiments.

Ingredients:
1 lb Cleaned and deveined shrimp
2 T Mustard seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds/ Jeera
4-5 Cloves of garlic
½ Onion
2-3 Green chillies
3 T Yogurt
2 T Mustard oil
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar.

For the tempering:
½ T mustard oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
2 Cloves Garlic (Slivered)
2-3 Green chillies slit
4-5 Curry leaves

Method:
1. Wash and drain the shrimp and keep aside.
2. Grind the mustard and the cumin to a fine powder.
3. Then add in the garlic, onion and green chillies and make a smooth paste.
4. Pour the paste out in a bowl and mix in the yogurt and the mustard oil along with the washed shrimp.
5. Let it marinate for about an hour.
6. Prepare a steamer. It can be prepared two of the following ways:
i. Pour water in a deep bottomed vessel and place a rack at the top such that the water does not touch the vessel when its kept on the rack. Cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes.
ii. Add water to a pressure cooker then place the vessel containing the fish inside the cooker. Cook for about 1-2 whistles.
7.Temper the prepared dish with a tempering of mustard oil, mustard seeds , green chillies and curry leaves.
8.Boil the curry for 1-2 mins and serve hot with rice.

Try this out and you too can vouch that this dish indeed very simple!!

Until next time,

Love,

J

I am submitting this recipe to:
- "Taste of tropics" hosted by Nandoo's Kitchen and Chef Mirelle.
- "Side dish mela" hosted by Valli
- "Let's Cook with yoghurt" hosted by Nayna

July 23, 2013

The quintessential Cuttacki fare - Dahi Vada Aloo Dum aau Guguni Chaat aka "Dahi Bara Aloo Dum"

The name itself conjures up thousands of memories and for anyone who’s ever
been to Cuttack or hails from the same, needs no intro to this legendary street food – Dahi Bara Aloo Dum and Guguni, mostly known as “Dahi Bara Aloo Dum”. But for the uninitiated, this lip-smacking street food is the combination of Dahi Vada topped with aloo dum and guguni (yellow peas curry), served generously garnished with cut onions, coriander leaves and sev. The savory tartness of the dahi vada perfectly complements the spicy aloo dum and guguni and all of it wonderfully comes together with the crunchiness of the onions and the sev. It’s truly a wonder how all three distinctly different dishes with strong flavor character of their own can meld together in this unique, indescribable way.

But despite its iconic status within the state, it’s a pity that outside Odisha hardly many people know about it. In my past one year of blogging, I must admit that I have never shared anything as authentic and true to Cuttack than this. Every nook and corner of Cuttack beams with a Dahi Bara (a short name for the trio) vendor these days and despite the growing fervor for “westernized” fast food, I can very gladly say that little has changed as far as its popularity goes. Quite aptly put, it’s the “Vada Pav” of Cuttack in the nature of which it has its way into people’s hearts and their everyday lives. I have known people eating this street food for all three meals for several days together. But unlike the Pav Bhaji or the Vada Pav, it really hasn’t received the limelight it rightly deserves. But I am sure....absolutely sure that all this needs is a little bit of promotion and there’s no doubt it can stand tall or even exceed many iconic street foods in their lovability quotient.

Now, having grown up in Cuttack, my love for this street delicacy has been truly innate and absolutely justifiable. For me, it represents festivity and all such happy times when as kids we would savor every bite of the street food we were occasionally allowed to eat. It conjures up memories of joyous occasions and brings back cheerful childhood memories of springing towards the gate as soon as the vendor rang his cycle bell and drummed the container to attract attention. It was difficult to contain the excitement of holding the “thola” (the container made leaves) in our hands. Yes, sometimes managing the thola in our tiny hands did get difficult, but that never discouraged us from gulping it all down and not to forget the last desperate plea for some more dahi paani (“tike dahi debe bhaina”) or some crunchy seu.

So just like every other delicacy we have loved, my Ma has tried her hand many a times at making this dish and well, after a few failures got it right for us. Now with my Ma around I had the privilege and the luxury of her teaching me this iconic, street food. We had a total blast making this and yes a memorable time eating it too. I am sure this is going to be made on many such occasions when I feel the need to go back to Cuttack in an instant. My own quick time travel you see :) 

(Clockwise from the left) Guguni, Dahi Bara, Aloo Dum, Plate of chopped onions, cilantro and sev and the final "Dahi Bara Aloo Dum" plate. 

  Dahi Vada (Dahi Bara)




Dahi Bara (Dahi Vada)
Savory and tangy fried lentil donuts soaked in a thin yogurt base forms the heart of this street food. Light and fluffy, it forms the perfect neutral base the to complement the spicy additions.

Ingredients
(Makes ~ 12 medium sized vadas)

1 C Whole Urad Dal
¾ C Rice flour
1 tsp baking soda
Oil for frying

For the dahi
½ C Yogurt
¼ C Water
Salt to taste
Black salt to taste.
Cumin and red chili powder (Optional)

For the tempering
1 T Oil
½ tsp Mustard seeds
2 nos. Dry red chillies.

Method:
1. Soak the whole urad dal overnight in luke warm water (6-8 hrs).
2. After the dal is perfectly soaked (it will feel light and puffed up), grind to a smooth batter. Keep it aside for ~4-5 hrs for fermentation in a dark, warm place.
3. The batter rises up and the surface has many small bubbles. Now slowly mix in the rice flour and baking soda. Keep it aside overnight.
4. For the dahi: In a small vessel,thin out the dahi with some water. Add salt to taste, black salt and jeera powder.
5. Heat up the oil. Wet your palms and make a donut shaped batter. Slowly slide the donut shaped batter into the oil. Fry till golden brown.
6. In another bowl, add some salt to iced water and keep aside.
7. Soak the fried vadas in the salted water till soft and fully soaked.
8. After the vada becomes soft, gently squeeze out the water and place it in the dahi.
9. For the tadka: Add oil into a pan, splatter some mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Then, pour the tadka on the dahi vada.

   
Guguni and Aloo Dum

Guguni (Left) and Aloo Dum (Right)

Aloo dum
Spiced potatoes in a thick tomato gravy provides the necessary spice for this chaat. Can also be eaten by itself with poori or even with rotis.

Ingredients
½ lb Small potatoes (Regular sized potatoes will also work)
2 T Oil
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
½ C Onion and ginger garlic paste
½ C Tomato puree
¼ tsp Red Chilli powder
1 tsp Curry powder
¼ tsp Garam Masala powder
¼ tsp Sugar
1 C Water
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro leaves to garnish.

Method:
1. Boil potatoes. Peel and keep aside.
2. In a separate pan over medium heat, lightly sauté the boiled potatoes with salt and turmeric powder. Take it out of the pan and keep aside.
3. In the same pan, add the onion, ginger and garlic paste to oil. Add in salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.
4. Then, add in tomato puree little at a time and sauté the masala till the oil floats.
5. Now add in curry powder, sugar, garam masala powder and the potatoes. Add in the water and bring it to a boil till oil separates. When oil floats at the top, it is done.
6. Sprinkle chopped coriander and keep aside.

Guguni
Spiced yellow peas curry is the necessary add on to this dish. This also can be eaten just by itself along with rotis or pooris.

Ingredients
¼ lb Yellow peas
2 T Oil
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
½ C Onion and ginger garlic paste
½ C Tomato puree
¼ tsp Red Chilli powder
1 tsp Sambhar powder
¼ tsp Garam Masala powder
¼ tsp Sugar
2 C Water
Salt to taste

1. Soak the yellow peas overnight in lukewarm water.
2. Boil the soaked peas in a pressure cooker with a pinch of salt and turmeric powder. Take it off the stove after a whistle from the pressure cooker.
3. In a separate pan over medium heat, add in the onion, ginger and garlic paste to the heated oil. Mix in salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.
4. Then, add in tomato puree little at a time and sauté the masala till the oil floats.
5. Now add in sambhar powder, sugar, garam masala powder and the boiled yellow peas. Add in the water and bring it to a boil till oil separates. When oil floats at the top, it is done.

For the garnish
Chopped Onions
Chopped Cilantro
Chopped Mint (Optional)
Sev

Assembling the Dahi Bara Aloo Dum and Guguni.

In a bowl, place 2-3 dahi vadas and a little bit of dahi. Then scoop in some aloo dum and guguni. Then add in some more dahi and sprinkle some black salt and cumin red chilli powder. Garnish the dish with cut onions, coriander leaves and sev. Now dig into it and savor every bite!

Like they say, there's nothing more effective than food and music to conjure up happy memories of time well spent. 

Here's to more such happy times!
Love,
J

I am submitting this recipe to:
- "Monsoon temptations" hosted by Manasi
- "Walk through memory lane" hosted by Manju and Gayatri
- "Chaat and Chutneys" hosted by Cooks Joy
- "Diwali Bash-2013" hosted by Vardhini from Cook's joy
- "Anniversary Celebrations" by Cook,Click and Devour
- "Let's Cook with yoghurt" hosted by Nayna
Monsoon Temptations - Food Blog EventChaat and Chutneys

June 19, 2013

A vegetarian's delight - Quick Paneer Biryani



So…here I am back again! 

     After almost three months and several days of incessant thesis writing and dealing with the nitty-gritty of graduate school, I am finally back to my haven – writing and reliving every bite I have loved to make and savor. Almost after every hiatus – laden with feelings of guilt and anxiety, as I sit to start penning down my thoughts, the familiarity of this blog and its comfort, suddenly makes it all seem ok. Back to my very own safe nook, where everything feels the same regardless of how fast things might have changed in the past few months.

     Regardless of all that, this long hiatus from the blog, has been one heck of a remarkable journey through a dream I have always had but never really imagined it happening. Sharing my graduation with my parents and loved ones was one of the most fulfilling experiences even though it remained equally paired with the hustle and the craziness that’s a part and parcel of submitting one’s thesis. While that’s another chapter altogether, for now let's just focus on the better aspects of life – more specifically on the delights of having my Maa here with me, feeding me to my limits and teaching me some handy tricks-of-the-trade. Utter bliss :)

     After months of eating quick-to-make familiar recipes to sail through the rough dissertation-seas, I had the great opportunity of having my Maa here with me to teach me some easy-to-make yet delightfully scrumptious meals in no time. Thankful is the word I am looking for here when I manage to cook up exotic meals in truly minimal time...truly a life saver :)

     To begin with, let’s start with a brief description of this dish. Most aptly described, I would say that it is an ideal hybrid between the royal biryani and a pulao. Pulao in the sense that all its components – such as the paneer and the rice are cooked together in a single pot unlike the biryani, but its flavors and richness match that of its exotic Mughlai cousin. Delete the time consuming part of the biryani process and pair it up with the easy pulao process and here you have a winner. This dish for sure is an absolute keeper for times when you need that one recipe to wow your family or maybe even your guests within no time.

Quick Paneer Biryani

An exotic paneer pilaf made fragrant by the sweetness of lightly fried onions & raisins along with the crunchiness of fried cashews and the aroma of refreshing mint. A delish time saving hybrid between a pulao and a biryani.

Ingredients

For the marination
½ lb Paneer (cut in ½ inch cubes)
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp Chilli powder
½ tsp Lemon juice
¼ tsp salt

3 T Oil
½ inch Cinnamon
1 Star anise (Ful chakri)
1 Large whole cardamom (Badi Elaichi)
2 Cloves
4-5 Whole peppercorns
1 Bay leaf

2 tsp Ginger garlic paste
½ tsp Turmeric powder
½ tsp Chilli powder
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar

1 C Basmati rice (Soaked for atleast 15 mins)

2 C boiling water

1 Large onion (Finely sliced)
1 tsp Raisins
1 tsp Cashews

2-3 T Chopped mint leaves
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg and cardamom powder

Optional
1 T Ghee
¼ tsp rose water
Pinch of saffron soaked in warm milk

Method
0. Marinate the paneer with salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder and lemon juice and set aside.

1. Heat up the oil in a vessel over medium heat.Add in the whole spices and stir until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.

2. Then add in the ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and sugar to the oil. Stir constantly until the oil floats in the top (~ 3-4 mins).

3. Now mix in the soaked and drained basmati rice into the masala mix along with the marinated paneer cubes. Stir well till everything is coated with the masala (2-3 mins).

4. After the rice is well mixed, add in the boiling water to the pot. Let it then come to a boil and then simmer over low heat for about 10-15 minutes till done. Check in between to test the doneness of the rice.

5. While the rice is cooking, in a separate pan, fry up the sliced onions till light brown. Also sauté the raisins and cashews till fragrant.

6. Once the rice is done, fold in (aka mix lightly) the fried onions, raisins, cashews and mint leaves along with the ghee.

7. Sprinkle the nutmeg and cardamom powder and cover it for at least half an hour and then serve warm with raita or curry of your choice.

8. Optional: After the rice is done, lightly sprinkle some rose water and saffron soaked in milk before covering it up for half an hour.

Another quick variation:
Using a pressure cooker for the rice fastens the process further. Just follow the step 1-3 as given in a pressure cooker. Add the boiling water and then wait for one whistle. Turn off the stove after the first whistle and wait for pressure to release.

Here's hoping that this dish fascinates you to try your hand at it.

Have a great week ahead :)
J

P.S: I am submitting this recipe to:
- "Know your Dairy - Paneer" hosted by Amrita and Jagruti
-  "Kid's delight" hosted by Kalyani and Valli
- "Monsoon temptations" hosted by Manasi
- "Walk through memory lane" hosted by Manju and Gayatri
- "Kid's Delight event" hosted by Jayanthi and Srivalli.
- " Kid friendly dishes" hosted by Vardhini of Cook's joy.

Monsoon Temptations - Food Blog Event

March 17, 2013

Candid reflections of the past year ~ Happy Birthday "The Turmeric Kitchen" :)



Yes! its been a year...already! :) A splendid, immensely satisfying year filled with excitement and gratification, to say the very least.

I am so overwhelmed with emotions reflecting back on how truly remarkable this journey has been. An exciting ride into the deepest, yet unexplored realms of bliss, the self exploratory path to finding myself and the things I was capable of..and all this on a marvelous, open medium to express my views about the subject closest to my heart. No expectations, no compulsions..only a honest, pure-hearted effort, backed by sincere blessings and heartfelt good wishes of my family and friends, has made everything all worth while. So much positivity and brightness is the very least I can be very very thankful for.

But as I reflect back on this past year, I feel nothing holds more true than this quote by Martha Beck Whatever you deeply yearn for has already been given to you.” and all we really need is to realize that deep seated potential and harness it. This has echoed clearly in this journey with food. It has so truly been within me all along..right from the innocent, pure happiness I gained by role-playing a TV chef with the ingredients laid out right in front (at about 5-6 years of age) to the excitement of de-veining a fresh prawn. I get goose bumps when it sinks in that the events in my life have all led me to this point and I really didn't have to look very far to seek the deep sense of satisfaction I had been seeking for a long time. All I genuinely had to do, is to just find a way to express it.

So it actually all started after a potluck at a close friend's place for Holi, for which I had made Gulab Jamuns. The gulab jamuns turned out great and apart from satisfying the hungry souls, they somehow nudged me towards an auspicious beginning into this virtual world. It didn't ever stop at that...one thing led to another and here I am, looking back at the satisfying year gone by.

Naming "The Turmeric Kitchen"

At the time I started my blog..the first & the most challenging step was to finalise on a name that truly fitted in with my ideology, background and style of cooking. To start with, I knew that it had to be named after a spice and the only most obvious choice was the-dark yellow-hued-auspicious, ever so subtle spice- turmeric. At that point, it just seemed right and all came together as "The Turmeric Kitchen". Little did I know that as time passed, I would peel the several layers of relevance that name had for me.

- Firstly, yellow has been my favorite color since the day I can remember and my Ma can vouch for my unexplained obsession about it.
- Secondly, turmeric stands as my most favorite spice because of its understated, musky and subtle quality where it always leaves a bright hue and a distinct taste to any dish. It has its own way of teaching us the basic rules of modesty and inner strength in every situation possible.
- Finally, the therapeutic use of turmeric has been around for ages and it's great to represent some part of the age old wisdom with this creation.

Thus, to commemorate this eventful occasion of my journey with my beloved "The Turmeric Kitchen", I hosted a small party with few of my close friends for which I baked the very first cake that I had ever tried my hand with, almost about 3 years back for a friend's birthday. This cake had also marked my first unsuccessful attempt at blogging. But, as they say - nothing quite happens before it is really destined to happen..."The Turmeric Kitchen" took birth at the best possible time I could think of. So I wanted to mark this event with this cake that had given me the confidence and propelled me towards this exciting venture. A true tribute to my first combined attempt at baking and blogging :)

Credits: This cake is adapted from One Hot Stove, one of the first few blogs that I was following at that time. It seemed easy on the first read and quite different from the tons of recipes which can be particularly intimidating for a novice like me. So here it is..my adaptation of the classic chocolate cake from One hot stove.

Chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache frosting 
Adapted from this recipe from One Hot Stove

This decadent, simple to make chocolate cake is perfectly sweet, balanced in richness, frosted with a easy chocolate ganache and dressed with fresh strawberries and raspberries. Perfect for any celebration, be it a birthday party or the celebration of a blog birthday ;)

Ingredients

Sift together the following and keep aside
2 C cake flour (see notes to preparing your own cake flour)
6 T heaped cocoa powder
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 T instant coffee granules

To be kept at room temperature
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 C sugar
2 t vanilla extract
3 large eggs
4 oz Semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 C buttermilk

1 1/4 C boiling water

For the frosting:
12 oz Semi sweet chocolate chips
12 oz whipping cream.

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350oF .Line the 9" cake pans with parchment paper and lightly grease the pans (with oil/butter) and dust with cocoa powder or flour.
2. Melt the chocolate chips either in the microwave or on a water bath. It took me three 20 sec bursts to melt them.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy and add in sugar and vanilla. Then mix it very well for 5-10 minutes until light and fluffy.
4. Break in the eggs, one at a time and beat till fluffy and light in color.
5. Then, lightly fold in the melted chocolate and half of the dry mixture.
6. Then, fold in the buttermilk and rest of the dry cake mixture.
7. Slowly, stir in the boiling water until it is just incorporated to have a smooth looking batter.  
8. Pour the batter onto the prepared pans and bake for  approx. 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

The frosting: 
The original recipe calls for a single layer of chocolate ganache as frosting. Although the first time I tried making exactly the same way, I loved it thoroughly. But this time I wanted a slightly thicker forsting and used the chocolate ganache two ways. More of chocolate is mostly always a good decision.

Firstly for sealing the two layers, I evenly spread out store bought raspberry preserves (as used in the original recipe).

For the chocolate ganache, bring the whipping cream to boil and pour it over the chocolate chips. Mix well to get a smooth, glossy mixture.

For the first layer of frosting, keep separate roughly half of the ganache, and whip it up to a light, airy consistency. I poured the remaining, un-whipped ganache to coat the cake to achieve the final glossy look. Finally, I decorated with slices of strawberry and raspberry and to top it off..candles to light up the delight.

Notes: For making your own cake flour, for every 1 C of all purpose flour used, scoop out 1 T and replace it with 1 T of cornstarch instead. Sift them together atleast 4-5 times to ensure that its well mixed.

This cake exceeeded my expectations all over again and became a part of my first anniversary celebration. A part of beautiful, beautiful memories. As I end this post, I would like to end it with a heartfelt thank you to the numerous well wishers, supporters, cheer leaders I have earned along the way. Thank you so much everyone for all your love and support!

Cheers to many such celebrations!
Love,
J

I am sending this entry to :
- "Bake Fest # 17" hosted by Sayantani from A Homemaker's diary and Vardhini from Cook's Joy.

January 27, 2013

Royally simple yet simply royal ~Mughlai Paratha~



Of all the numerous culinary impressions I have formed while growing up, one particular dish that has always stood out has been this fluffy yet crunchy, simple yet with-an-impressionable-bite - "Indian-egg stuffed-flour tortillas". These evoke such strong and beautiful memories of all the Wednesday evenings (I will elaborate in a second the relevance) growing up that when I made this I literally got transported to my very happy place. Its really that simple to be in your happy place..Easy isn’t it?

Well here’s a confession - as much blessed as I am to have grown up with my wonderful siblings – I am equally if not more delighted to have grown up with this unique culinary combination formed out of a desire to ease the process of eating an omelet and a “roti” separately, which leads to the birth of this piece of  magic called the Mughlai paratha or more phonetically correct “Moghlai Paratta” in Odia. The story goes back to our usual “non-vegetarian” days (the selected days of a week all of us were allowed to have non –veg due to religious restrictions), Wednesday was just the perfect break in the middle of a humdrum week with classes and homework. That was the day all of us kids were allowed to make demands of our Ma as to what we yearned to eat and gladly for all us, most of the times we would all vote for “Moghlai Paratta”. As I look back, I get really amazed by my Ma’s ability to innovate, learn and execute such recipes which I am sure she never grew up eating. And to our absolute pleasure, there were a lot of those.

It’s quite fascinating how a simple combination of paratha and eggs with a few aromatic herbs and spices to bridge their gap, can provide a semblance of "royal" times. Honestly speaking I won’t be able to date out the origins of this “royal” dish but as far my memory goes- I remember savoring it ever since my taste buds had the slightest ability to discern complexly pleasant delicacies. So if I had to describe this in a few words – it had to be fluffy, incredible flavorful, cheese-free distant cousin of Mexican delicacy “quesadilla”- elevated to a different plane by simple additions of onions, chillies, and of course the real star of this dish – some fragrant mint leaves.

~Mughlai Paratha~


Simple Indian flatbread a.k.a paratha stuffed with an egg mixture made aromatic with fragrant mint, red bell peppers, spring onions and spicy chillies. Savored just by itself or along side a flavorful chilli garlic yogurt dip, it is fit to serve a king - albeit a modern & health conscious one ;).

Ingredients: (For one paratha)

1 Uncooked Flour Tortilla/ Paratha
(Use the cooked flour tortillas if you don’t the ones I did)

For the filling:
-      1 no. Egg
-      1 T chopped spring onions (Use regular onions, it works fine too)
-      ½ tsp finely chopped chillies
-      1 T finely chopped red bell pepper
-      ½ T Finely chopped mint
-      Salt to taste
-      Pinch of black pepper

-      Oil to shallow fry the parathas (quantity can be adjusted as per requirement)

Method:
-      In a small bowl, break the egg and whisk it with all the ingredients for the filling (Finely chopped - onions, bell pepper, mint, salt and pepper)
-      Place a flat griddle (tava) over medium heat. Once its hot, place the tortilla (or a maida roti- see below) on the dry tava (no oil added yet) and semi-cook it till just lightly done on both sides (~ 1 min)
-      Once the tortilla is semi-cooked on both sides, pour the egg mixture on the tortilla and fold it lightly to form a semi-circle.
-      At this point, add 1 T oil on the sides and over medium low heat, cover the griddle and let it cook (~ 1 min). Turn the paratha to the other side and let it cook for another minute covered.
-      Uncover the paratha and lightly press to make sure the egg is cooked through. If it oozes out, the paratha still needs to be cooked a little bit more.
-      Tip: I sliced the paratha in half on the tava itself to make it cook more evenly.
-      Once done, serve the paratha with any chutney and make sure to savor it without any disturbance ;)


Some handy notes:
-      These tortillas (Mexican culinary term for a flat bread like our roti) can be made easily at home.Just that I was not industrious enough to go through the kneading-rolling part, so I chose the easy route. Those of you who would prefer to make it from scratch, go straight ahead and make maida (all-purpose flour rotis. To my surprise, this easy route tasted as good as the fresh one and a great time saver.
-      Cooking time for these parathas will vary depending on the size of the rotis, heat used etc etc. but just make sure to cook it thoroughly so that the eggs are cooked straight through.

Well really that’s all to it but the flavor is so utterly divine that I wonder how simple things can quite literally provide the greatest pleasures. I served these with a simple Chilli garlic curd dip with fresh cilantro and well, it was perfect.

~ Chili garlic yogurt dip~
In 1/2 C smoothly mixed yogurt, mix in 1T chili garlic paste (easily available in any Asian market-the red variety) alongwith 1/4 tsp very finely minced garlic and 1T chopped cilantro. Adjust it for salt and a pinch of sugar. There you go- an easy dip ready to go.

Hope these have convinced you to make these for your kids and gift them with some very precious memories to cherish for ever.

Here's to the eternal bond between food & memories.
Love,
J 

I am submitting this to:
- "Breakfast Club" hosted by Farmersgirll Kitchen & Fuss free flavours
- "Let's cook/bake for Valentine" hosted by Simply sensational food.
- "Monsoon temptations" hosted by Manasi
- "Walk through memory lane" hosted by Manju and Gayatri
- Breakfast Recipes hosted by Nandoo's Kitchen and Priya's.
- "Kid's Delight event" hosted by Jayanthi and Srivalli.
Monsoon Temptations - Food Blog Event