March 31, 2010

Baked Vazhaipoo Vadai

Dishes made out of banana flower is famous especially in Southern part of India. Its always better to choose a tender flower. To know if its tender or not, peel one or two bracts and check if the florets are pale pink or white.
Banana flower reminds me of artichoke,but the flower bracts are not edible like in artichoke. Its often avoided become of the amount of time spent in cleaning. But today, I was totally skeptical about frying them so I was all set to venture this dish by baking them. Here is my version of vazhaipoo vadi with kaal channa!!

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
Serves 4

1 medium size banana flower
1/4cup buttermilk
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
3 cloves
3 cardamom (only the seeds)
2 tbsp oil
2 green chili
1 tbsp garlic chopped
1/4 cup coriander leaves
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup black chickpea (kaala channa), cooked and mashed
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Peeling Banana flower:
1.Remove the bracts(petals) one at a time.You will find a bunch of florets in between each bract, remove them till you reach the core. You will know its a core when you find it hard to peel.
2. Remove the round headed string which is in the middle of each floret and also the small plastic like outer white cover.
3. Soak all these florets in a bowl of buttermilk with enough water and chop along with the core into tiny bits.
For the masala:
1. Dry fry cumin seeds,fennel seeds,coriander seeds,clove and cardamom for 2-3 minutes .
2. Grind green chili,garlic,coriander leaves and the fried ingredients with little water to paste.

1. Heat oil in a wok and add chopped banana flower mix. Cook for about 10-15 minutes along with turmeric powder and chili powder.
2. Add the masala paste and cook for 5 minutes.

3.Add cooked kaala channa and cook for another 5 minutes and turn off the heat. The batter should be thick enough to shape them.
4. Divide the batter into equal medium size balls. Flatten each ball in between your palm and coat it with bread crumbs.
5. Bake them for 10 minutes and broil for 5 minutes at 350F.
6. Serve hot with mint or coconut chutney.
VARIATION: You can substitute kaal channa with any other dal too.
NOTE: Your fingers will turn dark while peeling the banana flower. Apply oil and wash the hands with soap after you are done chopped them.

March 30, 2010

Rajma Masala

Rajma curry is a popular dish in Northern part of India especially Punjab. However it is not of Indian origin. It is native to Central Mexico and sailors carried these beans to Africa and Asia. These beans are high in protein and was a staple food of the tribes. They are also valuable source of minerals like iron.
Soaking the beans overnight is an healthy practice because it destroys lectin,a toxin and gives a buttery texture when pressure cooked. A thick and a dark gravy with perfectly cooked red beans will be an all time hit with chappati or steamed rice.

Preparation time:15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

1 cup kidney beans, soaked in water over night
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1'inch cardamom
3 cloves
3 cinnamon pods
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp ginger,crushed
1/2 cup onions
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup coriander leaves for garnish

1. Pressure cook the kidney beans along with 3 cups of water,turmeric and a pinch of salt for 3 whistles. It should be tender such that you will be able to mash it with a spoon.
2. Dry fry cumin seeds,fennel seeds, cardamom, clove and cinnamon pods for about 3 minutes. Grind it to powder.

3. In a wok heat oil and add cumin seeds and bay leaf. Saute for 2 minutes and add ginger and 1/4 cup of chopped onions. Fry till they turn golden. Don't over cook.
4. Then add tomato puree,chili powder and the grind powder. Cook till oil separates. This will take about 15-20 minutes on medium heat.
5. Add the cooked kidney beans along with 2 cup of water fin which it was cooked. Mash some rajma in the wok.
6. Cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add butter.
7. Garnish with the rest of the chopped onions and coriander leaves.
8. Serve along with Chappati or Jeera Rice.

NOTE1: I prefer to grind my spices to powder. If you don't, then skip the grinding part.
NOTE2: Rinse the rajma couple of times before soaking over night.
VARIATION: You can always substitute canned beans if you don't have the dry beans.
HINT: Adding butter just before serving wont hurt. It gives a wonderful aroma to the curry.

March 28, 2010

Ridge Gourd Chutney

2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 cup shallot, chopped
3 green chillies, chopped
2 cups tender ridge gourd, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp tamarind paste
Salt to taste

For tempering:
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp Urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
5 curry leaves
1 red chilli

1.Heat oil in a pan and add coriander seeds, shallots,chillies and ridge gourd. Fry until they are cooked. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

2. After its cooled, grind to paste.
3. For tempering, heat oil in a small pan and once its warm add all the tempering ingredients and garnish over the chutney. Serve as a side dish for idly, dosa or even steamed rice.

March 27, 2010

Chocolate treats

What do you do with leftover chocolate frosting? Chocolate treats of course !! This was made out of the remaining frosting that I made for my Chocolate cake.


3oz bittersweet chocolate
4tbsp butter softened
3 tbsp confectioners sugar
1 tbsp marsala
15-20 whole pistachios
1/4 cup coconut powder

1.Melt the chocolate over a double boiler of barely simmering water.
2.Beat butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl at a medium speed until creamy.
3.Add the melted chocolate;mix until glossy and smooth.Set aside to cool.
4.Make mini chocolate balls with the chocolate-mix with 1 pistachio. Let it dry for 5-10 minutes.
5.Roll the chocolate over the coconut powder and places it on a baking paper.

6.Store it in a sealed container.

HINT: Work with dry hands.

March 26, 2010

Chicken Chalna

This dish needs no introduction. Its a watery gravy which can also be made out of left over cooked chicken. It is often served as a side dish with Parotta,Kal dosa or Briyani. Its famous all over Tamil Nadu. This dish is mostly prepared with chicken or mutton. Its very simple and made fast with pressure cooker. I like to prepare the masala just before cooking so that it gives a fresh flavor. Alternate it with vegetables like carrot,peas for veggie version. I love the aroma of chalna, especially when you dip every piece of parotta in the thin gravy. Its a sure spicy delight !!!!

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time:15 minutes


Ingredients: For marinate:
1/2 lb chicken pieces, cut 1" thick ( I used chicken thighs)
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp salt
For Masala powder:
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 inch Cinnamon stick
1 tsp coriander seeds
4 red chillies
For Gravy:
5 tbsp oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger
1/2 cup onion,chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup coriander leaves

1. Marinate the chicken along with the spices mentioned 30 minutes before cooking.
2. Dry roast peppercorns, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, chilies, cinnamon, coriander seeds in a pan and grind it to powder. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Dry roast coconut pieces in the same pan and grind it to paste along with some water and set aside.
4. Heat the same pan with oil and fry onion,garlic and ginger until they turn golden. Then add chopped tomatoes fry for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add the masala powder, coconut paste and salt if required. Transfer this mixture to a cooker along with 1-2 cups of water and pressure cook for 1 whistle. Finally add coriander leaves for garnish. Serve hot with parotta,idly or dosa.
HINT: If you don't like to transfer to a cooker in the middle. Start cooking in a cooker from first.
NOTE: Pressure cooking this dish is the easy and fast way. The gravy will retain its flavor and watery consistence.
VARIATION: Substitute vegetables like carrot,peas instead of chicken for vegetarian version.

March 25, 2010

Andhra Style Fish Curry

1 lb fish, cleaned and cut into slices
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1/4 cup oil
12 curry leaves
1/4 cup coriander leaves,chopped
1 tbsp fresh garlic,chopped
2 inch fresh ginger,chopped
1 onion,chopped
2 cardamom pods
2 cloves
1 tbsp coriander seeds
4 tbsp tamarind extract

1. Mix chili powder, turmeric powder and salt. Add this mixture to the fish and keep it aside.

2. Heat oil in a skillet on a medium heat. Add curry leaves and coriander leaves and fry for 2 minutes. Add fish pieces and fry for 5-10 minutes.
3.Cook on both sides. Remove and keep it aside.
4.Grind onion, garlic,ginger,cardamom pods,clove,coriander seeds to paste.
5. Add the grind paste in the same wok used for frying fish. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until oil separates.
6. Add tamarind extract and 1 cup of water. Let it come to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook until the sauce thickens.
7. Arrange the fish in a serving bowl and pour this sauce on top. Serve hot with white rice.

NOTE: Avoid breaking the fish while frying. Don't flip frequently.

March 23, 2010

Wheat flour cookies

Whole wheat flour is different from plain flour. They are high in protein content and there is 14grams of fiber in every 1 cup of whole wheat flour. We can substitute whole wheat flour for 1/4 to 1/3 of all-purpose flour in recipes like cookies, muffins, pancakes where usually all purpose flour is used. By replacing the wheat flour the original taste is not affected and at the same time we are benefited with increased fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Baking time:20 minutes
Makes: 36 cookies

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sliced almonds and cranberries
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp milk

1. Pre heat the oven to 360F. In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and add almond,cranberries and butter.
2. When you get a crumble texture, add milk and to make a soft dough.

3. Make mable size balls and press slightly in between your palm.
4. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet about inch a part.

5. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before storing in the jar.

VARIATION: Use any nuts or dry fruits of your choice.
NOTE: Brown sugar give an extra taste to the cookie. If you dont have them in stock, then go for normal sugar.

March 22, 2010

Baked Fish Kofta Curry

In Northern India, a special occasion is never complete without a dish made of Kofta. The most famous one would be Malai Kofta where minced meat or vegetables are deep fried and soaked in rich creamy sauce. Sounds fatty isn't !!! Now, to make this dish without a hint of guilt from the amount of fat used I tweeked the actual recipe, which was an inspiration from a book called AMMA'S COOBOOK with a little Pedhakka's touch. I baked the fish kofta instead of deep frying them and did not use cream for the gravy. I enjoyed making and eating it without a concern on the fat calories.

I love this dish and is always a hit during any gathering. The koftas can be served without the gravy , which would make a great appetizer.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes
Baking time:30 minutes

For Kofta:
1lb boneless fish fillets,cooked
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup boiled and mashed potatoes
1 tsp pepper powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
salt to taste
1/4 cup coriander leaves

For Gravy:
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp raw rice
1 tbsp poppy seeds
3 cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 aniseed
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp garlic,crushed
1/2 tbsp ginger,crushed
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tsp chill powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tomato puree
1 1/2 cup water

1. Mix mashed potatoes,steamed fish,chopped onions,pepper,salt,turmeric,breadcrumbs and coriander leaves in a bowl. Mix well to form a dough.
2. Make walnut-sized balls and gently flatten each ball between your palm, to form the kofta.
3. Grease the baking sheet with oil and arrange the kofta.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes and turn the kofta once. Before switching off broil it for 5 minutes,this will help in making the outer layer crispy.

For the Gravy:
5. Dry fry the coriander seeds, rice, poppy seeds, cloves, cardamom pods and aniseed into a fine powder.
6. Heat oil in a wok,add garlic and ginger paste along with onions. Fry till they turn transparent.
7. Add the powdered mixture along with sugar and chili powder. Fry it for 2-3 minutes.

8. Add the tomato puree and water. Cover and cook on a medium heat until the gravy is thick and oil separates. Remove from heat.
9. Transfer the gravy to a serving bowl and place the kofta on top. Serve hot with plain rice or paratha.

NOTE: Heat a shallow pan with fish fillets and 1/2 cup water.Steam the fish until tender.Takes about 5-10 minutes.
HINT: The fish kofta makes a yummy appetizer too.

March 20, 2010

Sesame Rice

Sesame rice reminds me of Puliyodharai( Tamarind rice). It more or less follows the same method. This rice is a time saver while packing for long trips. I read this recipe from Swapna's Blog. I changed few steps according to my taste and the result was amazing.

Ingredients :
2 cups cooked rice (I used sona masoori)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
3 dry red chilies
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste

For Tempering:
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp channa dal
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
4 curry leaves
1/4 cup ground nuts and cashew nuts
1/4 tsp asofetedia
2 green chilies
coriander leaves for garnish

Method :
1. Dry roast the sesame seeds,cumin seeds and red chilies. It takes about 5-10 minutes on medium heat. Cool and grind it to powder along with salt and turmeric powder. Set aside.

2. Heat a wok with oil. Once its warm add all the tempering ingredients and saute until they turn light golden, then add the masala powder and fry it for 2-3 minutes until combine.
3. Add the cooked rice to the mixture in the wok and mix well and cooked for 2 minutes.
4.Turn off the heat, garnish with coriander leaves and serve warm.

HINT: I pressure cooked 1 cup of raw rice with 2 cups of water for 1 whistle. After it was cooked I transferred it to another vessel and let it cool completely so that its not sticky. From the cooked rice, I used only 2 cups. That was sufficient for this masala.

March 19, 2010

Bottle gourd masala

Sorakkai or Sorakaya, a very common vegetable in South Indian dishes, is widely used in sambar, gravy or stir-fry. It has a nutty flavor and adds a crunchy texture to the curry in which it is used. This bottle gourd recipe made a great combination with chappati.

2 tsp oil
2 garlic cloves,chopped
1 green chili
1 onion, chopped
500gms bottle gourd peeled and cubed
1/4 tsp tumeric powder
salt to taste
coriander leaves for garnishing

For masala:
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp gram dal
5 dry red chillies
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 tsp aniseed
1/4 cup groundnuts roasted and ground coarsely

1. Dry fry the ingredients for masala. Cool and grind it to powder. Keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a wok along with onions,green chili and garlic. Cook until it turns golden brown.
3. Add in the cubed bottle gourd, turmeric powder and 1 cup of water. Boil until the pieces are cooked, but retain shape.
4. Add the masala powder. It will absorb the remaining liquid.
5. Then add groundnut powder.
6. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot as a side dish with rice or chappati.
HINT: Add or sprinkle water if the gravy is too dry.

March 18, 2010

Tomato Bath with Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced as keen-wah) is not a grain; its a seed related to the spinach family which was originally from South America. It was a regular Incas diet. It is a delicious whole grain thats easy to digest and an excellent replacement for rice. Some of the nutritional fact about Quinoa are; they are high in amino acids, protein and calcium. It is found to be more satiating than wheat or rice, so helps in weight loss.
The coating of the saponin on the seeds gives it a bitter taste, so it needs to be washed before cooking. Basic method to cook is to boil 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water for 15 minutes. It absorbs all the water and the size of the seed will increase, with a tender and springy texture. Quinoa can be enjoyed as porridge for breakfast or salad with vegetable and many other items.
For those who love quinoa and want to try something different with it, have to try this. Its an Indian twist. Tomato bath, which is an instant favorite in most of the houses. A simple and quick dish which is a sure hit. I followed the same procedure as in making tomato bath with rice, but replaced rice with quinoa.

1 cup Quinoa
2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil,or oil of your choice
3 cloves
3 cardamon
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp ginger-garlic,crushed
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/3 cup peas
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup coriander leaves,chopped
1/2 lemon

1.Boil Quinoa with water. This takes about 10-15 minutes
2. Crush the cloves and cardamon into powder using mortar and pestle.
3.Heat oil in a wok. Add the powdered spice and bay leaf. Then add ginger-garlic and onions. Cook until the onions turns transparent,then add chopped tomatoes.

4. Saute tomatoes for 2 minutes and add turmeric,chili and cumin powder.
5. Cook until oil separates and the raw smell of tomato is gone. Then add peas and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
6. Add the cooked quinoa ,salt and garam masala. Cook for 5 minutes.
7. Finally add coriander leaves and squeeze the lemon. Turn off the heat and serve hot along with raita or plain yogurt.
NOTE: Cook Quinoa simultaneously when you are making the gravy. Its easy to mix the hot cooked quinoa in the finally stage.
STORAGE TIME: Was able to eat it the next day by reheating it.
HINT: Tastes like Khichdi