Friday, 18 December 2009

Common Cold & Ginger Chai (Tea)

Common cold is so annoying. One sneezes, goes around with a runny nose, headache, fatigue and yet, one cannot be called technically ill. A day off from office requires a graver reason than “just” common cold!
And to think that science has still not been able to discover a cure for it. Hmph! Like my Dad says “Zukaam ho gaya hai? Dawa loge to 7 din mein theek ho jaayega, nahi to ek hafte mein”. (You have caught a cold? If you take medication, you will be fit in 7 days, else it will take a week).

So as you would have got the hint, I have “caught” a cold. And am not sure what medication to take. But what I did have in the morning, before leaving for work, was “Adrak wali Chai”Ginger Chai (Tea). And trust me, it is really soothing.

Ginger is such a multi faceted tuber. Apart from enhancing the flavor of recipes, it has a high medicinal value as well. Wikipedia tells me that it is used in the treatment of diarrhea and nausea. And in several countries, including India, ginger is used for providing relief in common cold and sore throat.
So, what I am sharing today is a simple and age old recipe. Nothing creative, no experimentation whatsoever. But a sure way to keep warm in the cold weather.




Ingredients (For 1 cup):
Water: ¾ cup
Milk: ¼ cup
Ginger: ½ inch piece
Tea leaves: ¾ - 1 tsp or 1 tea bag
Sugar: To taste

Method:
- Wash the ginger piece and grate it with the peel on
- In a pan, add the water and grated ginger. Bring to a boil.
- When the water starts boiling, add the tea leaves / tea bag.
- Let it simmer for around half a minute so that color of the leaves seeps in
- Add the milk and bring the concoction to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for another 30 – 45 seconds
- Remove the tea bag / strain and pour it in a cup. Add sugar to taste.
- Serve hot and consume while still warm.



Note: Ginger may not be suited for people suffering from ulcers.

This tea makes its way to Weekend Herb Blogging # 214, the event started by Kalyn and now nurtured by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything Atleast Once. This week's edition is being hosted by Haalo herself.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Review: Chilly Q at The Yellow Chilli Restaurant, Pune

Let me clarify at the outset. I am a Sanjeev Kapoor fan. Have been since I started watching “Khana Khazana” more than a decade and half ago. I vividly remember how our entire family would be seated in front of the television every Sunday noon to watch his show.
But the viewings were discontinued once I moved out for higher studies and access to television was not much. Even now, Sundays are spent mostly in household chores / reading books / crafting / cooking, with hardly any time or inclination for switching on the TV. But I have still managed to keep in touch with his recipes thru his
portal.
My husband made a dinner reservation at the celebrity chef's restaurant - The Yellow Chili to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. It was such a pleasant surprise that hubby dear automatically earned numerous brownie points which shall not be easily forgotten. We were also accompanied by dear friend & brother S.
Coming back to the review, let me share the experiences we had and my unbiased views on the same. I forgot to take pics of the food – realized it only when we were ending the meal with Churan and Supari!

The Place
The restaurant is located inside the compound of Sanskruti Lifestyle in Koregaon Park. The main restaurant is quite hidden from the main road, and we were able to reach there because of the chance sighting of the notice board which reads “The Yellow Chilli” and is displayed unobtrusively at the end of the compound wall.
We parked our car in the lane, and walked for around 3 - 4 minutes to enter the compound and reach the restaurant gate. It was then that we realized that the restaurant also has a parking.

Ambience and Options
The restaurant has two seating arrangements – an outside seating which is for the barbeque buffet “Chilly Q”. The inside seating is reserved for a la carte.
The outside space was cozy and is still not cramped. It had the barbeque / tandoor at one end. The place was quite empty even though we arrived there at around 9 pm, and I am assuming it was because we had gone on a Wednesday. There were only 2 other tables which were occupied.
Food
The concept of “Chilly Q” is that the servings are served at the table. One doesnot need to move to the counter to fill in the plates. The servings are not too large, and if you like something, you can order it again, and again, till you are full.

Look at the spread and the balance between vegetarian and non vegetarian options:



And yes, the price is correct. All this was available for just Rs 399 (plus taxes). It was quite a deal.

We began with the Masala Chaas which was served as a welcome drink. We also ordered mocktails, which on a later thought, could have been skipped – not because of the taste, but because there was too much to eat. I ordered a Mango Colada – the mango version of the pineapple drink (A tall glass priced at Rs 100).
Another interesting drink which was served was the Masala Shikanjavi (Spicy lemonade). It reminded me of the roadside lemonade which is sold during summers on the streets of North India.
We skipped the soup and went straight for the starters. They came in batches of 3, and my hubby ordered a refill of the chicken kebabs. My pick would be the Lasooni Mushrooms and the
Aloo Peas Roll.
By the time the starters were over, I was already quite full and opted for a small portion of the chicken curry. I did not have the Dal Makhani which my hubby later said was one the best he had tasted in Pune. We both decided not to opt for rice / biryani, and ended the luxurious dinner with Rice Kheer, served warm.


Supari and Churan to end the meal
Service
The service was excellent. I am not sure if it was because there weren’t too many customers, but we felt welcomed and well fed. I never saw any of the waiters without a smile on their face.
The waiters insisted that we try each and every dish, even if it was a single bite. They looked quite disappointed when we refused the Biryani, or when I refused their special Dal Makhani. Once when they had erroneously announced the Papdi Chaat as Aloo Chaat, they apologized profusely.

Value for Money
Yes, very much so, though I am not sure whether the same rates are applicable during weekends or they vary from one city to another. Also, the rates may be different for the a la carte.

What could have been better?
Food: The Tandoori Aloo were a tad too spicy for my taste. Also, S expressed that he has had better Seekh kebabs and Mutton curry. The chaat could have been served independently – the papdi / puri became a bit soggy till the time we realized they were there – so immersed we were in hogging the kebabs.
Ergonomics: The tables were closed from all sides – like a cube (though not the exact shape) – and my legs were tired after a while.
Aesthetics: The menu was written on a white board with marker pens, and it made me feel that I was looking at the office cafeteria menu!

Another visit?
Yeah, sure. This time round, I may opt for the well lit seating arrangement inside the restaurant and have a go at what the menu has in store.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Weekend Brunch: Healthy Vegetable Wraps

This was an impromptu preparation for a Saturday brunch. Quick, healthy and tasty, and not to forget, quite filling.

I used whole wheat parathas, prepared with minimal oil. I made them in advance, and lightly heated them in a microwave before serving.
For the filling, I used whatever veggies I had at hand. You can add more variety based on your choice.



Ingredients:

For the filling:
Cabbage, finely shredded (I used half of a small sized cabbage)
Capsicum: 1 medium, cut in thin strips
Carrot: 1 medium, sliced in 1 inch strips
Onion: 1 medium, sliced
Salt, pepper: to taste
Mixed Italian herbs: 1/2 tsp (approx)
Oil (Olive or Vegetable): 1 - 2 tbsp

For the wraps / rolls:
Tortillas / whole wheat parathas: 4 - 6

Method:
- Heat oil in a pan. Add onions and saute on high heat for a minute
- Add the cabbage and carrots. Reduce the heat to medium and stir fry for around 3 - 5 minutes. Do not cook the veggies completely or else they will lose the crunchiness
- Add the capsicum and saute for another 2 minutes
- Add the salt, pepper and Italian herbs. Mix well

To Serve:
- Take a paratha / tortilla. Heat it slightly in a microwave / tawa / pan
- Place the filling in the center (or slightly away from it)
- Roll it and secure it with a toothpick
- Enjoy it with your favourite chutney / ketchup



Note: I also used the leftover filling to prepare grilled sandwich. It tasted great too. Too bad that I could not take any pictures.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Green & Pink: Coriander Mint Rice and Pomegranate Raita

Yes! I have finally returned after my more than a month long break from the blogging world. Well not the blogging world – because I have started a new blog. Making My Day Brighter is my hobby blog and it would be great if you could visit it sometime. Your views are welcome.
Coming back to the break from this blog – the reasons are several. My hubby was / is on a restricted diet due to health reasons and a few changes at the workplace were keeping me occupied as well.
But since November is ending today, I did not really want to have a complete month of inactivity – technically speaking. Plus I did cook something exciting yesterday which I surely want to share with the world! And with D of
India Shoes.

But before we come to the actual recipe, here are a few (abridged and approximate) snippets of conversation:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Time: Sunday noon. On phone with D.
Me: I am hungry. I want to have Pudina Pulao
D: Pudina Pulao? Why? I have never had it before. And then why don’t you go ahead and make it?
Me: Because there is a power cut since morning. Which means I cannot use the Mixer to grind the leaves.
D: (Laughing) Why don’t you use the old fashioned Imam Dasta (traditional mortar and pestle)?
Me: Humph! #%#@%

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Time: Sunday evening. Returning with Hubby after grocery shopping.
Me: I want to have Pudina Pulao.
Hubby: I have been hearing you say this since morning. What’s stopped you?
Me: The power cut
Hubby: Now that the electricity is restored, why don’t you go ahead and make it?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Time: Sunday Night. On phone with Mom.
Me: What is the recipe for the pudina pulao you used to prepare?
Mom: I never used Pudina!
Me: Then what was the green pulao?
Mom: That’s coriander pulao.
Me: (Disappointed) Oh! What’s the recipe?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, even though the recipe called only for coriander, I went ahead and used mint. Generously. After all, the craving had to be satisfied. Even though it called for modifying my Mom’s recipe – a bit.
I served it with Pomegranate Raita. It is adapted from
Nigella Lawson’s recipe which was telecast on one of her shows last year, sometime during Christmas.


For the Coriander Mint Rice:
Ingredients:
Rice (Basmati or any other variety): 1 Cup
Coriander & Mint: a small bunch each, cleaned and washed
Green Chili: 1 – 2 (Optional)
Onion: 1 medium, sliced
Peanuts: ¼ - ½ cup, roasted and coarsely ground
Cumin Seeds: ½ tsp
Bayleaf: 1
Juice of half a lemon
Oil: 2 tbsp
Salt: To taste
Method:
- In a blender, ground the coriander and mint leaves, and the green chilies, to a smooth paste. Add a tsp or 2 of water if required.
- Heat Oil in a heavy bottomed pan / pressure cooker
- Add the cumin seeds and the bay leaf. Once the seeds begin to splutter, add the onions. Sauté on low heat till the onions turn golden brown.
- Add the rice and the coriander – mint paste. Mix well. Add salt to taste.
- If cooking in a pressure cooker: Add 1 ¾ cups of water. Cook on high heat for 2 subsequent “whistles” plus around a minute on low heat. Turn off heat. Let the steam subside before opening the lid.
- If cooking without a pressure cooker: Add 2 cups of water. Cover and cook on low heat till the rice is cooked. Add more water if required.
- Once the rice is cooked add the juice of half a lemon. Mix.
- Add the peanuts before serving.
Verdict: The flavor enhancer is undoubtedly the lemon juice. It complements the coriander and mint flavor beautifully. The peanuts add a nice crunch to each bite.

Pomegranate Raita

- Whisk around 2 cups of curd / yoghurt.
- Add the seeds of half pomegranate. Mix well
- You can add a bit of sugar / salt as per your taste. I did not add any seasoning which worked very well with the pulao.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Minestrone Soup

What is on the top of your list when you proceed on a vacation? Packing, you say? Ummm, that's on my list too. But what comes as a close second is clearing the refrigerator. And what a task it is. Advance planning really tires me, and hence i find this chore a bit intimidating. Making sure that milk is not purchased on the day before traveling, the fresh veggies are consumed and leftovers are dealth with saps me out of my energy.

This Diwali, we visited our parents for a few days, and the task of cleaning the refrigerator loomed ahead. What I encountered was this: boiled kidney beans (leftover from the Rajma Masala prepared a couple of days back), one boiled potato, a few tomatoes, and an assortment of veggies. What finally resulted was this filling Minestrone Soup.


Apparently, there is no fixed recipe for Minestrone Soup and can be made with any vegetables at hand. The method I have used is based more on my experimentation rather than any fixed source.

Ingredients:
Boiled kidney beans / Rajma: 3/4 cup
Pasta of your choice: 3/4 cup
Mixed Vegetables (potatoes, peas, carrots, beans, corn kernels, capsicum, cauliflower florets), chopped: 3/4 - 1 cup
Tomatoes: 2 medium, one chopped and one pureed
Onion: 1 small, finely chopped
Garlic: 2 small cloves, finely chopped
Oil: 1 - 2 tbsp
Salt, pepper: to taste
Water / Vegetable Stock: 4 - 6 cups

Method:
- Boil the pasta as per the instruction on the pack. Drain and wash with cold water. Keep aside. I used Macaroni since that was the only pasta I had in store.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add the chopped garlic and onions. Saute till the onions turn translucent
- Add the chopped and pureed tomatoes. Cook on medium heatfor 3 - 4 minutes. I prefer a more tangy flavour and hence used 1/2 a tomato more. You may adjust the quantity to suit your taste.
- Add the chopped vegetables and saute for another 2 - 3 minutes
- Add the kidney beans, pasta. Add water / stock and salt to taste. Bring to a boil.
- Cover and cook on low heat till the vegetables are cooked, but still a little crunchy. Add more water if required to achieve the desired consistency.
- Adjust salt, and pepper
- Serve hot

Note: You can also add grated cheese to enhance the flavor.


This soup is my contribution to JFI: Rajma, the event created by Indira of Mahanandi, and hosted this month by Divya of Dil Se.

It also makes its way to Presto Pasta Night # 137, created by Ruth from Once Upon a Feast, and hosted this week by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At least Once.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Amla ki Chutney

Amla, or Indian Gooseberry, is a spherical fruit widely known for its medicinal properties.

Appearance: Light green in color with longitudinal stripes, it is smooth and hard in texture. It is usually the size of a table tennis ball, but may be larger. It has a seed in the center which is removed when the fruit is eaten / used for cooking
Taste: The primary taste is sour and bitter. The fruit leaves a sweet tinge on the tongue when swallowed.
Properties and benefits: Amla is a rich source of vitamin C and is a widely used ingredient in Ayurvedic and Unani medicine. It is known to benefit digestion, cough and cold, diabetes and blood pressure. It also increases immunity and reduces hair fall. Some benefits of amla for common ailments are listed here.
Recipes and preparations: Though fresh amla is available in autumn, it is usually dried or pickled to be used throughout the year. Fresh amla is used in chutneys and preparation of side dishes. Another common recipe is "Amla ka Murabba" - whole amla pickled with sugar - which can be preserved for a long time.

As for me, I am completely hooked on to this wonderful Amla ki Chutney. I got the recipe from my Mother - in - law, and she had prepared it when we were home for Diwali.


Ingredients:
Amla: 6 - 8
Coriander leaves: a small bunch
Green Chillies: 2, or as per taste
Salt: To taste

Method:
- Wash the amla, and cut it in small pieces. Remove the seed.
- Clean and wash the coriander
- Finely grind the amla, coriander leaves, green chilies and salt in a blender. Add a few table spoons of water while grinding.
- The consistency should be smooth and not too dry. Adjust salt and add some more water if required.
- Serve it as an accompaniment with snacks or curries.
- The chutney can be refrigerated, and lasts for around 7 - 10 days


This chutney heads to the
Weekend Herb Blogging # 206, the event presided over by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything Atleast Once, and hosted this week by Yasmeen from Healthnut. The weekly event was originally started by Kalyn.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Methi and Besan ka Cheela

Weekend is here again. This weekend is an extra busy one - with Diwali being just a week away (October 17th to be precise). Apart from the several Diwali customs (eating and preparation of sweets, bursting firecrackers, lighting up the house, Lakshmi Puja, meeting friends and relatives), there is one which takes special significance (at least in North India) - cleaning the house before Diwali.
It is said that Goddess Lakshmi (the Hindu Goddess of Wealth) visits homes on Diwali night, and showers her blessings. Hence it is important to keep the house "ready" to welcome her. Mythology and religion aside, the tradition does ensure that you throw out your laziness at least for once, and wear the cleaner's hat.

Decades earlier, it was customary to get your house "white-washed" (painted) before Diwali. This ensured that the house was uncluttered and freed of any junk you may have collected over the year. These days, with the introduction of acrylic and longer lasting paints, painting the house has taken a backseat. But one does put in an effort to clean those nooks and corners which may have been neglected so far.

So my husband and I picked up the cleaning brushes and mops this morning, and attacked those areas with full vigour which our daily maid overlooks. But before that we had a heavy breakfast for extra energy - the breakfast being Besan ka Cheela, with a twist.


There was some Methi (Fenugreek leaves) in the fridge and I used it to give a wonderful flavour to the savoury crepes.
The cheelas had a hint of bitterness - which one would expect from Methi. You may reduce the quantity of leaves in case you prefer less flavor.

Ingredients:
Methi Leaves, cleaned: a handful
Besan / Gramflour: 1 cup
Ginger Paste: 1/2 tsp
Salt: To taste
Red chili Powder: 1/4 - 1/2 tsp
Green Chili, finely chopped (optional)
Oil

Method:
- Wash the Methi leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt. Chop finely
- Mix besan, salt, chili powder and methi leaves.
- Add water to make the batter of a thick pouring consistency (as you would do for dosas / pancakes). Mix well to ensure that there are no lumps
- Heat a tawa / pan, and lightly grease it with oil
- Pour around 2 ladles of the batter and spread it in a circle, moving from the center to the outer edges in a circular format
- Pour a teaspoon of oil along the sides, and let it cook on medium heat. Lift the side slightly to check if the color has changed
- Flip and cook on the other side, adding oil on the sides
- Take care not to cook it on slow heat or else the cheela will become too crusty. Similarly if the heat is high, the cheela will change color too soon and it will remain uncooked inside
- Serve hot with your favourite chutney / ketchup

This goes to Weekend Herb Blogging # 204, hosted this week by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. The event started by Kalyn, is now in the nurturing hands of Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything Atleast Once.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Chhole Tikki: Chickpeas served with Potato Cutlets

Indian Street food is versatile in taste and preparation. It varies as you move from one state to the other. The ingredients remain the same, in most cases, but the flavor changes by addition / deletion of spices and garnish.
Take the
Bhel puri for example. It’s popularly called so in Maharashtra and the western part of India. But in North India, it transforms to Laiya Chana, and in the east as Jhal Muri.
Jhal muri is characterized by the addition of uncooked mustard oil and coconut among other things. It does not use tamarind chutney.
Bhel puri on the other hand can be sukha (dry) or geela (wet) depending on what kind of chutney is used to flavor it. And no, it does not use mustard oil.
Laiya chana is also similar to bhel puri, but is more savory, and does not imbibe the sweetness of Bhel puri (at least that has been my experience in north India).
And all this while, the base for all the above remains the same – puffed rice.

Other similarities that I have observed are:
-
Pesarattu in Andhra Pradesh, and
Moong ki Dal ka Cheela in North India
-
Golgappa / Paani ke Batashe / Gup Chup / Pani Puri / Phuchka (the difference being the stuffing and how the water has been flavored)
-
Ragda Pattice in the West and Chhole Tikki
in the North

Am sure there are many more varieties which can be included, but the above is more limited to my experiences and travels across the country. Do feel free to add to the same.

Coming back to cooking, this weekend was made special when both my husband and I entered the kitchen together, and prepared Chhole Tikki – the north Indian street food – for a heavy snack on a lazy Sunday evening.
The idea is to prepare the chhole (flavored chickpeas) and
Alu Tikkis (Potato Cutlets) and serve them together. The Alu Tikkis were prepared by him, while the Chhole by me.




I know there are a hundred (or more) ways to prepare chhole, as well as Tikki, but sharing with you our version. My chhole recipe is an amalgamation of various sources, and has been adapted from different recipes in cookbooks as well as on the internet.

For the Chhole



Ingredients:
Chickpeas / Chhole: 1 Cup, soaked overnight
1 tsp Tea Leaves tied in a muslin cloth / 1 Tea Bag
Onion, sliced: 2 medium
Tomato, chopped: 1
Ginger Paste: ½ tsp
Bay leaf: 1
Cinnamon Stick: 1
Cumin Seeds: ½ tsp
Anardana Powder: 1 ½ tsp
Cumin Powder: 1 tsp
Coriander Powder: 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder: ½ tsp
Oil: 3 tbsp
Salt: To taste

Method:
- Boil the chickpeas with around 3 - 3 1/2 cups water, tea leaves / tea bag, Bay Leaf, Cinnamon Stick and salt. If using a pressure cooker, which is preferable, it will take around 20 minutes (on low heat) for the chickpeas to become soft. Alternately, one can also use the canned version.
- Once cooked, remove the tea bag, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Keep the chickpeas aside, donot drain the water.
- Heat oil in a kadhai / pan, and add cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to splutter, add the onions and stir on medium heat till they begin to change color
- Add the tomatoes, ginger paste and the ground spices. Sauté on medium heat till the tomatoes turn soft and the oil begins to separate
- Add the chick peas along with the water in which they were cooked.
- Bring to a boil, and let it simmer for 5 – 7 minutes, till the gravy becomes thick. Adjust salt as per taste.


For the Alu Tikki (as made by my husband)





Ingredients: (Makes approx 6 tikkis)
Potatoes, boiled: 4 medium
Peas, boiled: a handful
Green Chilli, finely chopped: 2
Fresh coriander, chopped
Black Pepper powder: to season
Cumin Powder: 2/3 tsp

Red Chili Powder: 1/4 tsp or as per taste
Black Salt / Rock Salt: 1/4 tsp
Chaat Masala (optional): 1/4 tsp
Juice of half a lemon
Salt: To taste
Oil: To shallow fry

Method:

- Peel and grate the potatoes. Ensure that the potatoes are at room temperature before you grate them
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
- Grease your hands with a few drops of oil.
- Take a portion of the mixture, and shape it in a ball. Press it lightly between your palms to flatten it.
- Shallow fry on low heat till both sides are crispy and golden brown


To Serve Chhole Tikki:
- Take a tikki (or two) in a bowl
- Add a ladle of chhole on top (more if you desire)
- Garnish with finely chopped onion, tomatoes, coriander and green chilies
- You can also add whipped yoghurt and tamarind chutney on top


This recipe goes to Meeta’s Monthly Mingle: High Tea Treats, hosted this month by Aparna.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Alu Parwal: Potatoes cooked with Pointed Gourd

Someone once asked me, “What is the English name for Parwal?” I did not know the answer then, but today, after a Google search, and a wiki research, I feel enlightened. It’s “Pointed Gourd”. Not “Snake Gourd” as the first search told me.
Pointed Gourd, or Parwal / Potol as it is commonly known in India, is botanically termed as
Trichosanthes dioica. Snake Gourd, on the other hand, is Trichosanthes cucumerina.

Parwal is a popular vegetable in India and is commonly cooked along with Potatoes. Alu Parwal or Alu Potol, whether dry or with gravy is a side dish eaten with rice or chapattis. Another variation is a dessert – Khoye ke Parwal – where the parwal is made hollow from inside, steamed, filled with sweetened khoya and dry fruits, and dipped in sweet syrup.

The tricky part for me when I first made Parwal was – how to peel it. One needs to scrape off the skin with a knife rather than peeling it completely with a peeler, cut off both the ends, and slice it length wise.
If the gourd is fresh, the seeds will be soft and it is not important to remove the same. If it has ripened, the seeds tend to be hard with a blackish / brownish tinge. I prefer removing the seeds in the latter case.

Sharing my recipe for a very simple Alu Parwal Dry, flavoured with only cumin and turmeric. It works best with Dal – Rice, or with Roti.



Ingredients:
Parwal: 5 – 6
Potato: 1 medium
Mustard Oil: 2 - 3 tbsp
Turmeric: ½ - ¾ tsp
Jeera / Cumin Seeds: ½ tsp
Salt
Red Chili Powder (optional)

Method:
- Scrape the skin off the Parwals, and cut off the ends. Wash it and slice it lengthwise
- Wash the potato well, and cut it length wise, with the skin on
- Heat the oil in a pan / kadhai.
- Add jeera / cumin. When the seeds begin to splutter, add the turmeric, sliced parwal, potatoes and salt.
- Mix well, cover and cook on low heat till the vegetables are soft.
- Keep stirring in between to ensure that the vegetables donot stick to the bottom. You may add little water if the oil seems to be less
- Serve hot as an accompaniment to dal – rice and / or chapattis.

This is also my entry to
Weekend Herb Blogging # 203, the event started by Kalyn, adopted by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything Atleast Once, and hosted this week by Marija.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Moong ki Dal ka Cheela … On Bread

Chilla / Cheela are savoury crepes served for breakfast, or even as snacks. They are prepared either with Besan (gram flour) or with Moong (lentils).
Moong dal cheela is something my Mom used to make quite often for breakfast, and I developed a taste for them only recently. They are a great option for Sunday breakfasts.
I also experimented with the leftover batter by dipping pieces of bread and shallow frying them for evening snacks.


Ingredients:

Dhuli Moong ki dal (De-husked split moong dal): 1 cup
Ginger: 1 inch piece
Green Chili, chopped: 1
Salt: To taste
Fresh Coriander, finely chopped
Oil

Method (For the Batter)

- Wash and soak the moong dal in warm water for around 2 hours.
- Grind the dal, green chili and ginger to a smooth paste. Add water if required.
- Add salt and chopped coriander
- Add water to make the batter of a thick pouring consistency (as you would do for dosas / pancakes). Mix well


For the Cheela / Chilla

- Heat a tawa / pan, and lightly grease it with oil
- Pour around 2 ladles of the batter and spread it in a circle, moving from the center to the outer edges in a circular format
- Pour a teaspoon of oil along the sides, and let it cook on medium heat. Lift the side slightly to check if the color has changed
- Flip and cook on the other side, adding oil on the sides
- Take care not to cook it on slow heat or else the cheela will become too crusty. Similarly if the heat is high, the cheela will change color too soon and it will remain uncooked inside
- Serve hot with your favourite chutney / ketchup


For the Moong Dal Bread Snack

- Cut bread slice in quarters
- Dip the bread in batter, coating the pieces evenly on both sides
- Heat a tawa / pan, and lightly grease it with oil
- Gently place the pieces on the hot pan, and pur drops of oil on the sides
- Cook on low heat, and flip when the colour changes to golden brown
- Add a few more drops of oil and cook the other side as well
- You may want to repeat the above two steps for a more crusty top
- Serve hot with your favourite chutney / ketchup

The Moong Dal Cheela goes to Susan’s My Legume Love Affair - 15th Helping, hosted this time by Sia of Monsoon Spice.

The Moong Dal Bread Snack goes to Sunday Snacks Event – Snacks with Bread hosted by Priya.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Maggi Noodle Soup: A dedication to the 2 – minute Noodles

As Nestle “Maggi Noodles” celebrates its 25 years of association with India, I do feel nostalgic. The “2 minute” noodles were introduced in India in the early 80’s, and Nestle had really tried hard to sell it to the Indian Market. They realized it would be easier to please the children, rather than their parents. I remember schemes like getting a toy car (Zoomie!) if you buy 10 packs together, or being part of Maggi Clubs if you could send 3 empty wrappers. We even had the Nestle folks in school, distributing hot noodles to the children (for free)!
And I must say that they were quite successful in making an impact. Our generation (and the ones after ours) definitely associates with the product – instant, for the bachelors, a meal when you are in no mood to cook are phrases which are linked with it. Statements like “I – cannot – cook – anything –except – tea – and – Maggi” have been heard quite often.



My memories with Maggi are so many. Sitting with friends on the terrace during winters, with plates of steaming Maggi, and hot cups of coffee is by far the favorite.
Another is in the early 90’s, when my brother and I were going thru my Mom’s recipe collection and we found this old pamphlet which had been distributed by Maggi at some point of time – it had recipes you could prepare using the noodles. The pamphlet was surely an old one because it featured flavors which had long been discontinued – “Capsica” and “Sweet and Sour”. It had one recipe which we tried and it became an instant favorite. It was the Maggi Noodle Soup using the “Masala Tastemaker”.

I still make it, even after so many years, and so does my brother. Though my brother claims that I have forgotten the “original version”, it still tastes yummy!

Ingredients (Serves 2):
1 packet Maggi Noodles with Masala Tastemaker
One small onion, sliced
One medium tomato, chopped roughly
A handful of spring onion greens, chopped
2 tsp oil
3 cups water
Salt to taste

Method:
- Heat oil in a pan. Add the onions and sauté till translucent
- Add the tomatoes and stir fry till they are cooked, and the oil begins to separate
- Add the spring onions and cook for another minute
- Add the water and the tastemaker, and bring to a boil
- Add the noodles, and cook till they are soft
- Adjust salt to taste
- Serve hot!



This recipe also goes to the Soup 'N' Juice Event, hosted by Sireesha.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Apple Iced Tea

This is one of the most refreshing drinks I have had. The first time I tasted it was during a Sunday brunch at Marriott Courtyard. And I have been hooked on to it ever since.


Ingredients (To make 2 glasses):
Water: 1 glass
Tea Leaves: 1 tsp or 1 tea bag
Apple Juice: ½ glass
Sugar: To taste
Ice Cubes: Lots

Method:
- Bring water to boil in a pan. Add the tea leaves / tea bag, and let it boil for a few seconds. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let it sit for a 4 – 5 minutes
- Sieve the brew and let it cool
- Add the apple juice. Add sugar as per taste.
- Pour it in individual glasses, add ice cubes and enjoy!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Dry Fruit Kheer

Posting this recipe took some research. Not that the recipe itself is complicated, but because I wasn’t very sure of the English / popular terms used for two of the ingredients - “Makhana” and “Chiraunji”.
Wikipedia refers to Makhana as Fox nut or Eurale Fox. While a Google told me that it is also referred to as Popped / puffed Lotus Seeds.
Chiraunji was simpler.
Google / Wikipedia tell me that the alternate name is Chiroli.
They both are categorized as dry fruits, and are used in Indian dishes. While Chironji is popularly used as garnish to flavor desserts, makhana forms a key ingredient in desserts as well as savoury preparations. Makhana is also used to prepare snacks which can be consumed during religious fasting in Hindu festivals.


Makhana Kheer has always been one of my favourites. As a kid, I remember it being prepared on festivals like Janmashtami or Shivratri.

This year on Janmashtami, we had purchased a large packet of makhanas, and I had made up my mind then to prepare this dessert. It’s simple and I made it richer by adding an assortment of dry fruits which were available.
This recipe is dedicated to my Mom, who gave me the idea for the preparation.



Ingredients:
Milk: 750 ml
Makhana (Puffed Lotus seeds / Fox nut), cut in halves: 2 cups
Almonds: 15 – 20, finely chopped
Cashew nuts: 15 – 20, finely chopped
Chironji / Chiraunji / Chiroli: 2 tbsp
Cardamom / Ilaichi powder: 1 tsp
Saffron threads: a few, soaked in 2 tsp of warm milk
Condensed milk: ¼ cup, or Sugar: 3 tbsp (Can be adjusted as per taste)

Method:
- Heat milk in a heavy bottomed pan. When it comes to a boil, add the makhana, cashew, almonds and chironji
- Let it cook on low heat, stirring occasionally
- When the milk thickens and reduces to almost half the original quantity, add the condensed milk / sugar, saffron threads and cardamom powder
- Keep stirring till the sugar / condensed milk is mixed completely. Let it cook for another 3 – 4 minutes
- Serve hot or chilled


This recipe goes to FIL – Milk, the event hosted by Sanghi.




This recipe also goes to WYF: Festive Treat Event at Simple Indian Food

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Vegetarian Keema Matar – made with Soya Granules

This was something I have wanted to make for a long time, and got the opportunity yesterday. A great recipe if you are a vegetarian, or are having vegetarian friends over.
I used Meat Masala, which is readily available in the market, as the key spice. However, if you are averse to using it, or if it is not readily available, you can substitute it with other spices as mentioned below.



Ingredients:
Soya Granules: 1 cup
Shelled peas: ½ cup
Onion: 1 medium, blended to a paste
Tomato: 1 medium, pureed
Ginger garlic paste: 1 ½ tsp
Meat Masala: 1 ½ tsp
Or
Ground cumin (Jeera Powder): ½ tsp, Coriander Powder: 1tsp, Garam Masala: ¾ - 1 tsp
Salt: To Taste
Oil: 3 tbs
Method:
- Add the soya granules along with ½ tsp salt to 2 cups of water, and microwave it for 2 minutes. Let it remain in the water for another 2 minutes. Drain the water and lightly squeeze the granules so that they are dry. Keep aside
- Heat the oil in a pan / kadhai. Add the onion paste and stir it on low heat till it becomes translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and stir it till it becomes golden brown.
- Add the tomato puree and the spices. Let it cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, till the oil separates
- Add the soya granules, peas, salt and ¼ cup water. Mix well, cover and cook till the peas are soft
- In case there is water left in the pan, stir it on high heat till dry
- Serve hot with chapattis / parathas.