Monthly Archives: May 2014

Tamarind Rice ( Puliyodharai)

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I love authentic, traditional recipes. Agreed that sometimes they can be very involved and time consuming but I feel the taste after all that effort is unbelievable. Some of the old methods of cooking or prep work may look tedious, but those also have a great way of bringing people together. Imagine making raviolis together, or making papad in summer, or making pickles together, when you are working together teh work does not seem boring.  So i love collecting recipes that are authentic, passed down from generation to generation, this is my way  of preserving my culture and heritage, hoping to pass it to the future generation.

Today’s recipe is something I learnt from my friend Usha, who had leant it from her Ammamma( grandma).

Tamarind rice is very popular in Andhra Pradesh as well as Tamilnadu. This version I feel has both Andhra and Tamil influence on it. It is a typical brahmin recipe, and is used as Naivadyam on many auspicious ceremonies. I had eaten this the very first time in the famous Tirupati temple, so anytime I make it invokes the same feelings.

Although the recipe may look complicated it is not, it is complex. I will try to simplify the instructions as much as possible.

Tamarind Rice

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There are four steps to the recipe.

Step 1:

Make a tamarind chutney – This chutney is pretty much jam like consistency.

Part A ( tempering 1)

2 tbsp oil

2 tsp mustard seeds

6 red chilies

Few curry leaves

Part B   (Wet ingredients)

1 handful dry tamarind, cleaned and soaked in  2 cups of hot water

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp jaggery ( gud), you can substitute dark brown sugar as well.

Extract the tamarind pulp and discard any seeds or hard shells. Mix jaggery and turmeric in it.

Part A & Part C

Wet ingredients & Tempering 1 (Part A & B)

Part C ( Dry powder)

1/2 cup coriander seeds

6 dry red chilies ( or more if you like it spicy)

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp cumin(jeera) seeds

1 tsp fenugreek( methi) seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp chana daal

1 tbsp urid daal ( skinless)

Few curry leaves

1/2 tsp asafoetida( hing)

Dry Masala Powder

Dry Masala Powder ( Part C)

 

Dry roast the these and grind it in a coffee grinder( or a blender) to make a fine powder. Make sure you add fenugreek seeds and hing towards the end else it will burn and give bitter taste

To make chutney:

Tamarind chutney

Heat the oil for tempering, add the red chilies until they are nicely browned. Add the remaining things and saute till the mustard seeds splutter( Part A). Now add the tamarind-jaggery mixture( Part B). Cook this on a low flame until you get a nice jam like consistency.  Add the dry masala powder ( Part C) and mix well.  Keep it aside.

Step 2:  

1 .5 cups of rice

1 tsp oil

1/2 tsp turmeric

Cook rice with salt and set aside to cool. Once cooled add a  tsp oil and turmeric and mix well.

Step 3: Make  tempering 2

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Ingredients:

1 tbsp oil

1 handful ( or two) peanuts

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp urid daal

1 tbsp chana daal

1/2 tsp asafoetida

A few curry leaves

Roast/fry the peanut in oil on a low-medium heat. Add mustard seeds, urid and chana daal and saute well. Now add curry leaves.

 

Step 4: Mix it together

Mix the cooked rice with a few tbsp of the prepared Tamarind chutney. Typically 4-5 tbsp chutney is enough for 1 cup raw rice cooked.

Add Tempering 2. Mix well.

Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

You are done. Enjoy the authentic Pulliodarai

 

Notes:

This tamarind chutney lasts a while even outside and if you refrigerate it, it can last upto a couple of months.

 

 

 

 

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Spiced puffed lotus seeds…chatpate mahane

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Making healthy and nutritional snacks without compromising the taste is always challenging to me. This recipe fits the bill very well.
Makhane are popped ‘lotus seeds’, considered to have many medicinal properries as per the ancient Chinese medicine science. It is loaded with potassium, calcium and iron, it is a great alternative for popcorn.
The aroma of the tiny yet divine ghee or coconut oil in this recipe is very tempting and smoked paprika for sure adds a nice flavor.

Spiced lotus seeds

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It is a very simple recipe, slowly dry roasting is the key to get a lot of crunch without a lot of fat

Recipe-
2 cups makhane( popped lotus seeds)
1/2 tsp ghee( clarified butter) or coconut oil

Spices-
1/2 tsp Smoked paprika
1/4 tsp Turmeric (leave it out if making for Vrat)
3/4 tsp Chaat masala( it is a mixture of rock salt, cumin powder, pink salt & some black pepper..all ground to a fine powder)
1/4 tsp Black pepper powder
1/4 tsp Amchoor( dried mango powder)

Dry roast the makhane on low flame till they start getting crisp. Add the ghee( or coconut oil) and coat the makhane well. Add all the spices and toss well.
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For those who are curious, here is the nutritional information for the dry puffed lotus seeds.
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Savory waffles.. traditional buttermilk waffles with an Indian twist

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When I came to this country one of the many thing that I found interesting is the choices for breakfast. All the option available are on the sweet side. Pancakes, cereal, donut, pastry, oatmeal, cereal bars and the list goes on. When we started making healthier food choices, the goal was to incorporate whole grains and clean foods in the diet. One such ingredient is ‘Oats’, however all the options in the market are sweet in taste. So I decide to put an Indian twist to a traditional oats waffle recipe where oats are a main ingredient.

Savory Oats Waffles

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Ingredients

Dry ingredients
2.5 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
salt to taste

Wet ingredients at room temp:
2 cups thick buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tbsp melted butter or oil

Adders
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 tsp chopped cilantro
1 green chili chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds crushed

1 tbsp grated coconut ( optional)
turmeric

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Procedure:
Dry roast the oats and grind them once cooled.

Mix the toasted oat flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

Whisk the eggs and melted butter together in another bowl, then add the buttermilk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined.

Add all the adders like onion, chili etc. You can add any vegetable of your choice.

Rest the batter for 5 minutes, this is important so the buttermilk and baking powder can talk to each other.  

Pour the waffle batter into the hot iron. Close the iron top and cook until the waffle is golden on both sides.

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Note:

I mix the dry ingredients and keep them on hand, which makes it very easy to make it in the morning

I also have made a large batch and the waffles freeze very well.

 

Biryani Frittata

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As a family we are trying to eat healthy. A big part of eating healthy depends on eating a good lunch and hence I have been working on some ideas for lunch. It has to be wholesome, easy to carry and pack , tasty and should taste good even when it gets cold. Yesterday I made a ‘frittata‘ for the lunch box. This dish is not an innovation but I really enjoyed  it due to the Indian twist. Kids loved it as well.

Biryani is a classic indian dish made with some kind of meat ( most commonly chicken or lamb) and seasoned flavorful rice. I love making chicken biryani and pack it for lunch many times. I did not have time to marinate and make chicken biryani for lunch so I decided to put a Biryani Twist on the frittata.

Biryani Frittata

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Ingredients

1 strip of bacon

1/2 chopped onion

1 chopped summer squash

1/2 chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped beet root leaves

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

5 eggs

2 tbsp  shaved parmesan cheese

1 cup cooked brown rice

2 tbsp oil

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp biryani masala

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Method

First cook bacon in a heavy skillet. Once cooked let it cool.

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Saute in oil  chopped onion, bell pepper, squash until nice and brown.

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While the vegetables are cooking, whisk together the eggs, biryani masala, salt and red chilli powder.

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Add cooked rice and saute well.

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Add chopped beet leaves.

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Now pour the egg mixture over the rice and vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese & chopped bacon.

Biryani Frittata

Cover and cook  until almost firm.

Set the over to broil. Broil it for 3-4 mins till the cheese crisps up.

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I packed it with a side of salad. Romaine lettuce with cilantro yogurt dressing.

 

 

मख्खन or Cultured Butter..it is all about the nostalgia!

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Nostalgia is defined as  pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again. When I moved to the US I realized there are so many such things that make me nostalgic and funnily a lot of them were related to food. Food that was made for festivals, a dish mom prepared specially for my birthday, a visit to the farm and eating something farm fresh and the list goes on.  One such dish is the ‘White Butter’ or मख्खन as we call it in Hindi.  This is how butter was made in India before we started getting Amul which is an equivalent of the salted butter we get here in the US. It is one of those things that makes everything better in life. Serve it on a hot Jowar (Sorgum) bhakri, or eat it on a piece of toast, it just makes everything tastes better, and I think that is why it is the favorite of  Lord Krishna. He was fondly called a butter thief (मख्खन  चोर ). He would steal it and distribute it among the cowherds who would tend to the cows.

Fresh home made cultured butter

Fresh home made cultured butter

Since we do not get White butter here in the US, I decided to make it at home. I haven been making it for the last 2 years and loving it.

Ingredients:

1 quart Best quality heavy cream 3 tbsp yogurt with live bacteria

Method:

Heat the cream to 110 F. Let it cool down to 100F, do not let the temperature fall below that. Add the yogurt and mix well. Now you want to keep this mixture in a warm place so the bacteria get to work and the cream sets well. Once you have the set cream, it is time to churn till you get the butter. The butter will float on top and you would have buttermilk that is equally yummy. There are a couple of  tips I would like to share: 1. It helps adding a few ice cubes to help to butter to start forming a ball. 2. You can also strain the mixture to get all the buttermilk out of the butter. My mom also ‘washes’ the butter with cold water to remove any tart buttermilk from it. You want to wash it till you get pretty much clear water. white makkhan collage I love eating fresh butter with a whole grain unleavened bread, Bhakri.  Growing up Bhakri was the bread for dinner each night. Made from whole ground sorghum, it is my most favorite bread on this earth. I will write a post on it soon. Incidentally I came across an article in Food Wine on this very topic, here is the link to it.

Update:

I always make Makkhan the old fashioned way, culture the cream and then churn it with ‘mathani’. Since today I had to make it on a large scale I used Vitamix, and it was so easy. The jury is still out if the texture of the makkhan is the same but it sure took 1/10th of the time to make.

Makkhan in Vitamix

Wasabi Crusted Paneer steaks with a ginger broth!

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Wasabi Crusted Paneer steaks with a ginger broth!

Although I am a purist when it comes to making traditional recipes, I love to create new dishes using the same ingredients. So I was very happy when one of the facebook groups I follow had an interesting cook-off, ‘same but different’. One of the weeks the challenge was to create a recipe using the ingredients of the classic Indian dish ‘Matar-Paneer'( cottage cheese with peas). So I set of to create a dish with peas & cottage cheese.

The result of a few hours of thinking was the dish I am presenting today

Matar-paneer goes to Japan

Wasabi Crusted paneer in a spiced ginger broth

Wasabi Crusted paneer in a spiced ginger broth

My family is crazy about wasabi flavor and I always have wasabi paste in my pantry. I also have roasted peas in my pantry but for this I decided to make my own wasabi peas, but you can use the readymade peas that you get in the market. I will post the recipe for my ‘wasabi peas’ soon.

Wasabi peas

Wasabi peas

Next came paneer. Although I used Panner for the cook-off as per the rule, I have made this with Extra Firm Tofu later on and turns out just as good .

I like to season at each step along the way. So the first seasoning for the paneer was some wasabi paste, sambal paste and some soy sauce.

Paneer Steaks

Ingredients

1 lb Paneer cut in thick pieces

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp soy sauce

1/2 sambal paste

1/2 tsp wasabi paste

Marinated Paneer

Marinated Paneer

Let the paneer marinate for 30 mins. While the paneer is marinating, you can work on the broth. The broth I made is very gingery and I feel it goes well with the wasabi.

Broth:

Ingredients-

1 quart veg broth

1 inch ginger piece sliced thin

1/4 -1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 tsp sambal paste ( I add more since I like it very spicy)

1 pinch of sugar

1/2 tsp parika

1 handful of rice noodles

Method-

Combine all the ingredients for the broth and let it simmer for 15 mins. Add the rice noodles and continue cooking till the noodles are cooked.

 

While the broth is simmering you can now prepare the vegetables that go in the broth. Here keeping with the mustardy taste and flavor, I have used Chinese broccoli.

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Chinese Broccoli

 

Vegetables-

Ingredients-

2-3 cloves of garlic chopped

rough chopped Chinese Broccoli

Oil

Saute garlic in heated oil. Add the broccoli and saute for a couple of minutes. Do not let it cook completely. I feel that it should have a nice bite to it, which tastes great in the broth.

Now back to our paneer. Paneer will get pan fried.  Let us take the wasabi peas and crush them to a coarse powder. Now take the marinated paneer and dip it in the pea powder.

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Paneer with the crushed wasabi peas

Now in an omelette  pan shallow fry the paneer pieces till brown on either sides. You only want to turn these once so the coating stays on the paneer.

Pan frying paneer

Pan frying paneer

Now the fun part. We are ready to serve the dish.

Pour the aromatic, spicy  hot broth in a bowl. Add the sauted vegetables and top it with the paneer pieces.

Wasabi crusted paneer steaks

Wasabi crusted paneer steaks

 

Note:

You can easily substitute extra firm tofu for paneer in this dish and make a completely vegan dish

The broth is similar to what Tayler Florence had shared in one of this programs

Sprouted fenugreek seeds curry

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When you think of Fenugreek seeds, you think of its bitter taste. It is amazing how different the same seeds taste once sprouted. I have another post on Methi Sprouts. Today we will be making a curry with these sprouts. My recipe is based on an old cook book.

Sprouted Methi Usal

Sprouted Methi Usal

Ingredients:

2 cups sprouted Methi seeds

1 onion chopped

2 tomatoes finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh coconut

2-3 tbsp of roasted peanut powder

1/2 tbsp jaggery

1/2 tsp goda masala( or any other subji masala)

1/2 tsp red chili powder

oil for tempering

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric

pinch of asafoetida

salt to taste

chopped cilantro

Ingredients for Sprouted Methi Usal

 

Method:

Heat oil in the pan. When the oil is hot add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and turmeric. Once the mustard seeds pop, add asafoetida. Add chopped onions and saute until brown. Add tomatoes and cook a little more. Now add the masala and red chili powder. Add the sprouts and 1/2 cup warm water. Cover and cook till the sprouts are done. It takes about 5-7 minutes. Now add jaggery, coconut, peanut powder and cook a little longer. Add salt to taste. Add cilantro and serve.

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It is ready to be served with fresh roti or rice.

Note: The sprouts do have a bit bitter taste which gets less intense if you let the sprouts grow  for a little longer time.

 

Fenugreek (Methi) Sprouts

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In the recent years fenugreek has been getting popular in the western world. I have seen GNC selling Fenugreek tablets. According to the ancient Indian tradition, fenugreek is given to postpartum women as it is known to have a positive effect on the milk production. It is also known to help those who are diabetic and with high cholesterol problem.

Indian cuisine offers many ways to cook Methi ( Fenugreek). We saute the leaves, cook it with lentils and many more. What I am sharing here today is a not a very commonly known way of eating Fenugreek.

Sprouted Fenugreek Seeds

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Soak the fenugreek seeds in water for at least overnight.  Drain it in the morning and tie it up in a thin cloth and keep it until these are sprouted.

Methi seeds in a bag

You can see that they more than double in the size. You can keep them in the cloth a little longer and you can start seeing small leaves.

Methi seeds raw and sprouted

Now the sprouts are ready to be used. Today I am making a traditional Maharashtrain curry with these sprouts.

Methya chi usal ( Fenugreek sprout curry)

 

Kolhapuri Masala

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Kolhapuri Masala

I come from Maharashtra, a state in Western India. It shares its border with other states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, and Gujarat. Needless to say, you can see the influence of different states on the local cuisine in the cities on the border. Kolhapur, a town which is closer to Karnataka, is famous for four things: Goddess Mahalakshmi Temple, handmade leather shoes, beautiful Maharashtrian jewelry  and its fiery cuisine.

Today, I am sharing a recipe for making a masala (a mixture of spices) that is used to make famous Kolhapuri Mutton. You can also use it for vegetarian dishes such as Kolhapuri Misal( I will post my recipe for this soon) and Veg Kolhapuri.

This is my Mom’s recipe, I think she is the best cook in the world.

Kolhapuri Masala

 

 

Ingredients

 

Ingredients

 

 

 

Dry Masala

 

1 cup coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1/2 cup shredded dry coconut

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1/2 tbsp black peppercorns

1/2 inch cinnamon stick

1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

 

 

 

Wet Masala

1/2 cup onions, roughly chopped

8-10 garlic cloves

1 cup cilantro leaves chopped

2 tbsp oil

 

1 cup red chilli powder

 

Method:

 

1. Toast all the dry masala in a dry pan. Let it cool.

Dry Masala

 

2 Saute onion & garlic in oil till nicely browned. Add cilantro and turn off the heat.

Wet Masala

 

3. Grind the dry roasted spices to a fine powder (I use a coffee grinder)

 

4. Grind the wet masala separately. Now mix the wet and dry masalas with the red chili powder.

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5. Once cooled, keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

 

This mixture should be used within 7 days. If you would like to keep it  for longer, use deep fried or dried onion and leave out the cilantro.

 

Welcome to ‘The Saffron Touch’ !

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From the very first moments of my life I have been fortunate enough to have parents who introduced me to a wide range of cuisines starting. Even though I grew up in a small town in India, since my parents are well traveled I knew about many dishes even before they were popular in India. Also, my mom is a magnificent cook and makes some scrumptious dishes. When I moved to the US, I missed my home cooked food terribly. I realized two things: first, I love to eat good food, and second, if I want to eat it I should know how to cook it. Thus began my journey towards culinary adventures. It has grown to the point where I thoroughly enjoy cooking and find it almost therapeutic.

I am so happy to have landed in a place where I have the opportunity to taste the world cuisine.After being here for more than a decade I realized that Indian cuisine, which is so diverse, is a hidden gem in the culinary world. There are amazing dishes other than Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan in the Indian cuisine, which doesn’t seem to be apparent to many people from countries across the planet. Different parts of India use entirely different spices, so knowing ‘Curry’ is not enough! I would love to share our medley of delicacies here on my blog which can be spread around the world for everyone to see.

With my blog, I hope to bring a bit of India into recipes from cuisines around the world.

Read on, and let me paint your life with ‘The Saffron Touch!”