Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Green Tea Noodles / Cha Soba

There are some days you want something simple, yet that you want to feel indulged ... here is a very simple spread that brings loads of flavor, you will be surprised how filling it is. Today I have used Cha soba, or Green tea noodles, that has a very delicate flavor and aroma.  I like Cha noodles as is without is being soaked in some kind of sauce that basically overwhelms the unique flavor of the noodles. So here, I have some perfect side dishes..

Ingredients :

Cha Soba / Green Tea Noodles - 1/2 pkt
Firm Tofu  - 6 sliced 1" wide
Carrots - 1 cup  Julienne cut
Zucchini - 1 cup  Julienne cut
Ginger - 1 tsp Julienne cut
Red Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp
Toasted Sesame Seeds -  1 tbsp
Soya Sauce

White Rice Vinegar

In a small bowl mix 2 tbsp of soya sauce, 1 tbsp of  rice vinegar and the red chili powder. In this mixture soak the  tofu piece and keep aside.
Follow the directions on the package to make the soba, once done remove to a colander, add some ice cubes to the noodles and let it sit until you are ready to serve. Do add salt to the water when cooking the soba.
In a saute pan add 1/2 tsp of oil and add the carrots and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes.In a small bowl add about 3 tbsp of mirin. Remove the Carrots and put in the bowl with the mirin. Drain the mirin before moving the carrots to a serving dish.
In the same saute pan after the carrots are removed, add 1/2 tsp of oil and then add the ginger. Saute for a minute and then add the zucchini, and a pinch of salt. Stir fry 3 to 4 minutes, add 1 tsp of rice vinegar, Remove from heat once the vinegar evaporates. You won't need to add salt because of the vinegar but if you feel you want to, just add a pinch.  Remove from heat to a serving dish.
In a saute pan heat about 2 tsp of oil, once the oil heats up gently place the soaked tofu, turn every 3  to 4 minutes until all the sides are a nice brown. Remove from heat to a serving dish.

Now that all the side dishes are ready, place the drained cold noodles to a serving bowl. 
Now get all your sides  next to it - the Tofu, the Ginger- zucchini Stir fry, Stir Fried Carrots, a small bowl of toasted Sesame seeds, a small bowl of soya sauce, (optional) Roasted Nori - crumbled or small stripes.

To plate it, drizzle very little soya sauce on the noodles, topped with the toasted sesame seeds  and Nori. Serve the sides and enjoy!

I used Hakubaku Organic Cha Noodles that I received it as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program.
Read about some of the ingredients I used:
White Rice Vinegar

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bread Halwa

A very simple yet filling dessert- this bread halwa (sweet confection), is surprisingly tasty. In this recipe I have used a three seed Oatnut bread (any brand will do) ,  traditionally, plain sweet white bread is used, but I like the texture , and flavor the seeds and nuts bring. Please feel free to substitute and try with any other bread of  your liking. This here is for 1 serving or if you share , and don't have a very sweet tooth will serve two. So you might want to increase the quantity according to your requirement.


Three seed Oatnut Bread - 2 slices
Whole Milk - 1 cup
Sugar - 3 to 4 tbsp
Honey - 2 tsp
Slivered Almonds - 1tsp
Chopped Cashews - 1 tsp
Golden Raisins - 1 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp

Crumble the bread in a mixer/ grinder (I find that crumbling them,  rather than just breaking to pieces / or just soaking them milk before hand, gives a better texture to the halwa). Heat the Ghee in a saute pan. Add the almonds and cashews and fry for a few seconds until golden brown.  Remove from heat and keep aside. Then to the same pan add the bread crumbs and fry in the remaining ghee for a minute or two until you see it changing color. Then add the milk and sugar, and continue to boil the milk on simmer until the milk is almost evaporated and the mixture starts to leave the side of the pan, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add  1/2 the almonds, cashews, all of the raisins, and 1 tsp of honey to the mixture and stir well. Remove from heat to serving bowl, garnish with the remaining dry fruits and honey. You can serve this warm or cold.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Spinach & Cabbage Pakoras / Fritters

When I was kid/ teenager/ adult (before marriage), every evening I would fervently wait for the evening snack, that my mother would make, hoping against hope that it would be pakoras, I really didn't care which type, as long as they were fried to that delicious golden hue. While pakoras are a common Indian snack, expecting it to be made every evening might be pushing it a bit far. But still I never gave up hope, and if perchance a miracle happens and pakoras are in front of us, you can be sure it would be wiped clean without a crumb left on the plate.These days of course pakoras are a rarity in my home, being health conscious and all. The good news is now when I go back home every couple of years, I find my niece and nephews also take after me, I am ashamed to say but looks like I haven't changed much,and we still manage to clean the plate off to a shine....
Every now and then my eyes do light up at the very thought...So now for some delicious piping hot pakoras

Spinach - 3 cups washed, drained and chopped well
Cabbage - 1 1/2 cup chopped small, washed and drained
Onion - 1/2 cup finely chopped
Besan - 2 cups
Cilantro leaves - 1/4  cup chopped.
Red Chili powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric Power - 1/2 tsp
Oil for Batter - 2 tsp
Salt to Taste

Oil  for deep frying

Mix all the ingredients except the oil meant to deep fry.  Use the oil as the binding medium for the mixture. The moisture in the washed spinach and cabbage along with the oil should make a thick batter.  Adjust salt and chili powder according to taste.
 Heat oil for deep frying the fritters, once the oil is hot, drop a little bit of batter , if it rises immediately the oil is ready, lower the heat to medium and drop in spoonful of batter, 6 - 8 nos. at a time, depending on the size of the pan , quantity of oil used to fry. Turn after 3-4 minutes and cook both sides until they are golden brown. Remove from the frying an and place them onto a absorbent napkin/paper. Serve hot with just tea or ketchup/ mint chutney.

You can also add one slice of bread that has been crumbled to the batter, but you would need to adjust the salt, chili powder and oil.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Mango Salad

Depending on how much time you have to make this salad - you can serve it as a warm salad or a cold salad. Here I have made the cold salad. On hot summer days go for the cold version of this salad and for those cool winters evenings try the warm salad. Either way this salad gains high points for the taste factor.


Ripe Mango - 1 1/2 cup  small cubes
Pearl Onions / Red Onion - 1/2 cup finely chopped
Lemon Juice - 1 tsp
Chili Powder - to season (according to taste)
Cilantro - To garnish
Olive Oil - 1/2 tsp
Salt - a pinch

For the cold salad, gently combine all the ingredients and serve chill.  Do make with a mango which is fully ripe and sweet yet holds it shape when cut. Other wise you might find the salad a bit mushy with all the juice oozing out of the mango.

For the  warm salad, Instead of cutting the mangoes in small cubes make larger chunks,  then grill the mango cubes, turning them often for 3 to 5 minutes. The grilling process helps heighten the flavors and caramelizes the sugars. If you can't grill, you can saute the cubes  in a pan on high heat and and once you see the mangoes browning,  remove from heat.  Gently combine with the other ingredients and serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Avocado - Aloo Paratha

 So, recently the tune that keeps playing in my head is Elvis's Devil in Disguise. ..As it replays I  keep shaking my head smiling,  but then I remind myself sternly should I even be smiling; but that's just it ... I do keep smiling and trying my best to figure out how to get the better of my (sweet?) little one rather than the other way round. And yet if it was a tug of war I would fail miserably, so we play along and we move in sync, one step forward, two steps back, a tickle and we move some steps sideways too, but we are always moving and I am always trying.

And so a very healthy twist on the regular aloo paratha, and I can assure you it will be a hit with the kids. I am perpetually looking for ways make healthy yet tasty dishes so as to entice a very picky 17 month old, and this one works!!! This is the adult version of the recipe, you might want to tone down on the chili and ginger-garlic paste if you are planning to serve it to above mentioned age group.

For the Dough  
Atta / Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Avacado - 1 
Milk - 2 tsp (if needed - I did not need it)
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 tsp
Oil - 1/2 tsp

For the Filling:
Potatoes - 2 large or 5 to 6 small or 3 medium sized
Cumin Seed - 1/2 tsp
Green Chili - 3 chopped
Coriander Leaves / Cilantro - A small fistful chopped
Lemon Juice - 1/2 tsp
Salt to Taste

Boil the potatoes with the skin on. Pierce holes to allow the steam to be released. If possible steam the potatoes rather than boiling it in water. I did it in a pressure cooker for up to 2 whistles on medium heat by placing the potatoes in a bowl and the pouring water around the bowl. The reason for this is you want the potatoes to be cooked and be nice and soft but retain very little water.
You can also use the microwave to achieve the same result, by having one bowl of water and placing another bowl inside it with potatoes. Cover the big bowl with a wrap and pierce the wrap to allow the steam to be released. Cook according to the size of the potatoes from 6 minutes to 10 minutes. Let it cool.

While the potatoes are being cooked, in a mixing bowl add the Atta, avocado, salt, ginger-garlic paste and knead the mixture into a soft dough. You want the dough to be soft to touch without any lumps, in case you find that the dough is still hard ...wet you fingers in a little milk and knead. Spread 1/2 tsp of oil all around the dough and let the dough sit for 15 minutes.

By this time the potatoes would be cool enough to handle, so remove the skin and mash the potatoes in another mixing bowl. Add the Green Chili, Cumin Seeds, Cilantro, lemon juice and salt. Combine the ingredients well and then divide the mixture and make balls the size of golf balls.

Now divide the dough into equal number of balls. Dust each with a little flour, and roll out into small disc about 3 to 3 1/2 inches, enough for you to place one potato stuffing and cover it with the dough like a dumpling by crimping and sealing the top to form a ball again. Pat the ball gently into a disc again and dust with flour and keep aside. Finish stuffing and dusting all the dough in this fashion before rolling out the parathas. Now gently roll out the parathas as thin as you can without breaking the parathas, you most probably won't need to dust again.Now cook on a tava, allow one side to cook for a minute,  then turn, drizzle a drop of oil, turn again, drizzle oil again, and then using a spatula, spread the oil, wait for a minute and turn again for other side, remove after a minute after both sides are evenly cooked. If your paratha is thin enough and is not broken, you will even see it puff up too. Serve hot with yogurt and punjabi achar.Because of the creaminess of the avocado this paratha is very soft.

You can also make rotis with the dough without any stuffing, if you want to do away with the potatoes.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Olan - Ash Gourd in Coconut Milk

A very traditional dish, the Olan is a standard in any feast in Kerala. Part of the sadya spread this is delicate dish is made in coconut milk, and has a very mild taste. Normally you would find vanpayar or black eyed beans in pod also added to this recipe.  But, we make it using just ash gourd at home, so here too I have omitted the beans.


Ash Gourd / White Pumpkin  - 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced
Coconut Milk - Fresh 1
Green Chili - 2
Curry Leaves - 2 stems
Coconut Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

If you are using fresh coconut , you need to take the second milk of the coconut,  else if using canned then use 1/2 the can mixed with 1 1/2 cups of water.   In a sauce pan cook the vegetables, sliced green chili in the coconut milk for about 10 - 12 minutes on low heat. Once the vegetables are cooked almost dry, add salt. Remove from heat and add the rest of the coconut milk or the first milk of the coconut. Garnish with the  curry leaves and coconut oil, stir and leave covered for few minutes.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vegetable Kurma Without Coconut

This version of the kurma is without coconut - while adding coconut give the kurma a distinct flavor, I have changed it as I keep trying to reduce the amount of coconut I use while cooking. Even without the coconut you will be able to distinguish the South Indian flavor of this kurma. While adding vegetables are optional, you can add just one or combine couple of veggies to make this kurma. This kurma is very aromatic and the subtle blend of spices combined with cashews, make a very flavorful and rich gravy.

Vegetable  1 1/2 cups (cauliflower, carrot, potatoes, peas)
Poppy Seeds - 2 tsp
Cashew nuts - 2 tsp
Red Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder
Cilantro leaves - a few
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

To Paste:
Onion - 3/4 cup
Tomato - 1 chopped
Ginger - 1" piece
Green chili - 1
Saunf - 1/2 tsp
Garlic - 1 pod
Mint leaf - 2 to 3
Cardamom - 1
Clove - 2
Cinnamon - 1/2 " piece

Cut Cauliflower, carrots and potatoes in small pieces and keep aside. Now powder the poppy seeds followed by the cashew nuts , now add the rest of the ingredients listed under 'To Paste:' to a smooth paste. Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add the paste , turmeric power, red chili powder, coriander powder and cook until the oil separates, make sure to stir occasionally so that the gravy doesn't burn.  Once you notice the oil separate and the gravy is a golden hue add the vegetables and 2 1/2 cups of water.  Cover and cook on simmer until two whistles.  Remove from heat and cool. Once all the steam  has been let off, remove and move to a serving bowl. Garnish with Cilantro leaves.
This dish goes very well with piping hot rotis, appams & dosai.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ennai kathrikai /Eggplant in Oil

A lot of people either love eggplants/aubergine or hate them, while it is a very commonly used vegetable in many cuisines, somehow people end up making their minds either way. I should confess that not far back in the past I belonged to the later group. It is surprising how our palate changes with the years, how dark or green colored veggies no longer make you run. I can't count the number of excuses I have made to get away without consuming these beauties. Well times change and so did my, lets say, aversion. Today, I would be the first person to try out a dish that includes eggplants.
So, this is one dish you can try if you are trying out Eggplants and you like medium to spicy food. This will be an instant hit to those who already love eggplants in any form. The method for Ennai Kathrikai various from place to place in South India, there is gravy version (kuzhambu), a drier gravy version, a poriyal (stir fry) version, each has a very distinct taste and feel, but include the same main ingredients. Today I am presenting the drier version of the dish, this extremely flavorful recipe is perfect as a side for rice/ biryani. It is surprising how complex flavor belies the simplicity and easy of making of this dish.


Indian Eggplant/ aubergine - 12 , small rounds ones that you can get in Indian stores.

Red Onion - 1 cup chopped
Whole Black Pepper - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds- 1 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tbsp
Red Chili powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp

Sesame seed Oil/ Gingelly Oil - 2 tbsp

Wash and cut crosswise the small aubergines bottom up leaving it still attached to the stem. Cut the tall length of the stem to closer to the head of the eggplant. Place these in a bowl full of water. Make a medium smooth paste of the the rest of the ingredients except the oil. Now fill each aubergine slit with the gravy you just made and keep aside.
In a wide saute pan heat the oil, once the oil is hot carefully place each eggplant next to each other. If you have any remaining gravy pour over the eggplants. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the eggplants over and then cover, and cook for another 10 minutes until both the sides are soft and the aubergines are fully cooked. As we are using little oil, make sure that you scrape the gravy off when you turn the eggplants over. Once you notice the oil leaving the sides of the gravy you can turn off the heat and transfer to a serving bowl. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Walnut, Pistachio and Raisin Mini loaf

For a dessert that doubles as an energy bar, this Walnut, Pistachio and Raisin Mini loaf is ridiculously quick and easy. Serve these out instead of those heavy desserts we normally dish out for parties and festivals, it's a sure party pleaser.

Sesame Seeds - 1/2 cup
Almonds - 1/2 cup
Brown Sugar - 2 tsp
Unsalted Walnuts - 1/4 cup
Unsalted Pistachios nuts - 1/4 cup
Raisins - 1/4 cup
Honey - 2 tbsp
Salt - a pinch

Finely chop the walnuts and pistachio. Toast sesame seeds until it is a deep golden brown, keep aside. Then toast the almonds for 5 - 6 minutes. Grind the sesame seeds, almonds,sugar and salt to a powder. Put the powder in a mixing bowl along with the rest of the ingredients and knead to form a stiff dough/batter. Shape the dough into a rectangular loaf about 1'' high and 1" wide, it will almost look like a stick of butter. Refrigerate for 1/2 hr before slicing and serving. You can also mix in other nuts & seeds and try different combinations of dried fruits that have been finely chopped.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Date Rolls

It has been a very long time since I blogged. The months have simply flown and finally I get down to posting. I having been so pampered all these months along with my little one by her grandmothers, that honestly , I hardly saw the kitchen during their stay. But now they have left and I am back in the kitchen; polishing on the kitchen skills that were getting rusty to say the least, to begin with. But all this time I have been collecting the pearls of wisdom that has been passed  to me over the various dishes and recipes they were making, I will be slowing posting the very many recipes I got from them, soon after I perfect them in my own way, sharing them with you in the process.

So today I thought I will start with something sweet! Date Rolls is one simple and nutritious dessert that every one would love.

California Dates - 2 cups
Milk - 1 1/ cups
Walnuts - 1/4 cup chopped
Almonds - 1/4th cup chopped
Sesame Seeds - 1/4th cup
Canola Oil or Ghee - 1 1/2  tsp
Salt a pinch

Grind the dates and 3/4th cup of milk until they make a thick smooth paste.In a saute pan dry roast the walnut, almonds and semsame seeds seperately and keep aside.  To the pan add 1 tsp of ghee and once the ghee heats up add the paste, rest of the milk and salt  and cook on simmer until the paste becomes darker and start to leave the sides of the pan and starts to become a thick mass. This should take  about 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure to stir often. If you want at this point you can integrate the dry ingredients (walnuts, almonds and 1/2 of the sesame seeds) or you can wait until later. Remove the mixture from the heat and spread it on a alumnium foil that has been oiled and let it cool. Once cooled you can add the dry ingredients as a layer above the dates and then fold the auminum foil to create a large sandwich of dates with the walnuts, almonds and sesame seeds in between. Refrigerate for 2 hrs. Remove the top part of the foil and sprinkle some of the sesame seeds, turn over onto a plate and sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds. At this point you can cut it in any shape you want or you can cut unto thin stripes then again until the rolls are of desired lengths and make rolls by rolling it until it is smooth.
Just so you know this IS a sticky dessert, albeit a very tasty one.