Thursday, February 26, 2015

Eggless Yogurt Loaf With Lemon Glaze


Last year, around January we were hit with the Polar Vortex and we got to experience some gelid temperatures for 3 to 4 days with no school.  This year I was relieved by the notion that we won't be experiencing that weather again since Polar Vortex is not experienced very often by all regions.  But to our surprise, nature expended all the cold on us with lavish dumps of snow so that houses in our development resembled igloos and gave us the intuition of living in Alaska for weeks without even a chance to get melted by the sun.  Kids' school was closed for longer than last year.  The other day I happened to clean up the snow from the drive way with my kids and the snow pile seemed to get bigger day by day like a huge white monster without compromising to melt by the occasional sun rays.  It is still taller than me.  Our mailbox is literally dunked in snow.  Somehow the mailman finds the opening of the mailbox and puts the mails there.



Even if it's gloomy on snowy days outside, I like to bake or make something for my family to keep me motivated and stay away from laziness that this weather offers.  I took a day off from work and wanted to spend time with kids.  It was a perfect day to bake this yogurt loaf with lemon glaze as the sun was shining bright even though the weather was in the negatives.


It is always a challenge for me to bake something sweet during the great Lent which is observed for 50 days till Easter.  During this time we omit non vegetarian food.  So baking without egg may not always result in the anticipated result.  My kids like to see a homemade piece of treat in their lunch box, so I always like to pack them something I bake.  Recently I was trying to use up the yogurt I made and tried a plain yogurt loaf with Vanilla flavor.  I would say it came out OK, but there was nothing unique or distinct about the loaf which would trigger the wow fact and make me try it again.  So I wanted to modify my trial with few twists and I discussed the idea of using lemon in my next trial with my daughter and she was really eager to see the results than me. The citrus punch really did the magic in this yogurt loaf and I was very pleased with the results and texture of the loaf.  It was soft and moist and had the perfect balance of tanginess and sweetness.


Go ahead and make this egg-less treat for your family or friends.  The best thing about this recipe is that  it uses the basic ingredients that you can find at home most of the time.



Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup - All purpose flour
1 cup - sugar
1 cup - plain yogurt
1 1/4 tsp. - baking powder
1/2 tsp. - baking soda
1/2 cup - oil
1 tbsp. - lemon juice
1 tsp. - lemon zest

Lemon Glaze
1/4 tsp. - lemon zest
1/2 tbsp. - lemon juice
4 - 5 tbsp. - powdered sugar


Directions:
  • Pre heat oven to 350°F.
  • In a mixing bowl of stand mixer or regular mixing bowl, beat the plain yogurt and sugar well so that there are no lumps.  Now add the baking powder and baking soda by sifting them into the mix and mix well and keep it aside for 10 minutes.
  • Sift the all purpose flour once and keep it aside. 
  • After 10 minutes the yogurt mix will start to bubble.  Add 1/2 cup of oil, 1 tbsp. of lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well.  Now incorporate the flour and beat on high speed for 30 seconds.
  • Grease a 9'' x 5'' loaf pan (refer notes) and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 - 50 minutes till the top gets golden brown and a skewer when tested at the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Keep it aside to cool completely.
Lemon Glaze
  • Mix the lemon juice, lemon zest and 4 to 5 tbsp. of powdered sugar well without any lumps to form a thick glaze.  Taste and add more powdered sugar if needed.
Assemble
  • Take the cooled yogurt loaf out of the pan and place on a serving plate.  Pour the glaze over the yogurt loaf and give few minutes to set.  Make sure to completely cool down the cake before slicing to get the perfect slices.
Notes:
  • I used a dark non stick loaf pan to bake the loaf, so it took me 45 - 50 minutes to get the loaf done.  If using aluminum pans, the cooking time may reduce.  In that case you can set the timer for 30 minutes first and add 5 minutes interval till the cake is done.  Once done, the loaf will show a golden brown top.  Opening the oven in between to check the readiness will result in a cracked top which is not a big deal as we will be covering the top with the glaze.
  • Please adjust the sugar of the batter and glaze per your taste.  I used fresh lemon juice and homemade yogurt in the loaf, so I had to use the amount of sugar specified in the recipe for the batter and glaze to balance the sourness from the yogurt and lemon.
  • I highly recommend the lemon glaze for this yogurt loaf.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Keema - Spicy Indian Ground Turkey With Mixed Vegetables



Keema is an Indian dish that uses ground meat with vegetables cooked in a blend of spices.  Most of the time mutton/goat meat is used in this dish with peas.  Traditionally, the first step was to cook the meat with pepper and salt and its minced and slowly cooked with spices and vegetables.  But this dish has evolved and attained a easy reliable label over the years due to the availability of ground meat in the market.  You can use ground beef, lamb, veal, turkey, chicken etc to make this dish with your favorite vegetables.  I make Keema with turkey meat and mixed vegetables.


Making Keema is not that hard.  You can serve them with Roti (Indian flat bead) or rice and yogurt.


Keema is so versatile.  They can be used as fillings in Quesadilla or in savory treats those are made with puff pastry or Filo sheets.

My photo setup :)

This is how I make Keema that fits my family's palate.

Ingredients:
4 lbs - lean ground turkey/chicken/beef/mutton
1 tbsp - ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp - ground pepper
1/2 tsp - turmeric powder
2 tsp - oil
salt to taste

3/4 cup - cut vegetables including potatoes, carrots, peas (refer notes)
1 cup - small onion sliced
1/2 tsp - garam masala
1 tsp - chili powder
1/2 tsp - coriander powder
1/4 tsp - asafoetida powder/hing (optional)
1/2 cup - water
1/2 cup - finely chopped tomatoes (refer notes)
2 tsp - oil
Salt to taste

Tadka
1/2 tsp - mustard seeds
1/44 cup - shallots/red onion thinly sliced
1 sprig - curry leaves
1/2 tsp - freshly crushed black pepper
2 tsp - oil

Directions:

  • The first step is to make Tadka.  We will be using the same pan for rest of the cooking.  In a medium non stick deep pan, heat 2 tsp of oil.  Splutter the mustard seeds and add sliced shallots and freshly crushed black pepper.  Saute till the shallots/onions get light golden yellow. Turn off the flame and add the curry leaves. Transfer the tadka to a small bowl.
  • In the same pan add 2 tsp of oil and cook the ginger garlic paste till the raw smell goes.  Now add the ground pepper and turmeric powder and cook for 20 seconds.  Add ground meat and salt and stir well.  Cover and cook till there is no meat and all the water is evaporated.  You can stir in between to crumble the meat or you can crumble it once it is cooked well.  Transfer the cooked meat in to a bowl.
  • Wipe the pan with a paper towel.  Saute the chopped onions with salt in 2 tsp of oil.  Add chili powder, coriander powder, asafoetida (if using) and garam masala and cook till the raw smell is gone.  Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for another minute.  Now add the mixed vegetables;saute; and cook it covered for 5 minutes with 1/2 cup water.   Its time to add the cooked meat to the vegetable mix and adjust the salt.  Mix everything well and cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Mix the tadka to the prepared Keema and turn off the flame.  Serve the Keema with Roti or Rice and yogurt.
Notes:
  • You can use any vegetables or frozen mixed vegetables.  I usually use potatoes, carrots and peas.  If using fresh vegetables make sure that they are cut into same size for even cooking.
  • You can use 1 tbsp of tomato paste instead of chopped tomatoes in this dish.
  • Adjust the amount of spice according to your taste.
  • Left overs can be refrigerated or you can freeze the Keema to use as a stuffing in puff pastry or Quesadillas.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks


 Carb free diet...not my cup of tea.  I don't think that I can imagine a carb free diet.  I can go on salads for lunch time, which still got the major share of carb, but I need some carb from grains to subside the hunger that starts crawling in my tummy around 7:00 pm every day, the dinner time.  Even when I skip rice, I do incorporate some form of grain like Quinoa, buck wheat etc. in our meals.  Grain free diet is not something that I am brought up with, so it’s true that old habits die hard :).  But I am sure that grains/breads or any form of carb will provide the needed amount of sugar and fiber for your body. 



Super bowl is the special occasion when I looked forward to make some lip smacking appetizers.  Breads served in the restaurants are the weakness of my kids.  I remember one incident when on a Friday evening we decided to dine out at an Italian restaurant.  Friday night at a popular Italian place was not the best choice for the hungry tummies, but we decided to pursue with our choice.  It took a good amount of time for us to move from the lobby to the dining tables.  Once we settled down, there came the waiter with a freshly baked basketful of breads which was the huge relief to those hungry tummies.  Within minutes, the bread disappeared.  Since the place was crowded and the orders were in line, the waiter appeared again with another basket of freshly baked breads.  We feasted on them too.  Later when the real dinner came, we were all full with the carb and we had to pack our dinner home.  Since then I literally have to move away the bread basket from the kids and hubby in order to avoid them filling up their tummy with all the carb before the dinner is served.  But one cannot simply deny those oven fresh breads.  What if we can make these cheesy garlic bread sticks at home?  It’s simply amazing to enjoy these cheesy warm garlic sticks with some Marinara sauce or a bowl of hot Creamy Tomato Carrot Soup.



Ingredients:
3 cups - all purpose flour
1 tsp - sugar
1/2 tsp - active dry yeast
1 cup + 2 tbsp - luke warm water
1/2 tsp - salt
1/2 tsp - dry basil
1 tbsp - extra virgin olive oil

Topping
1/2 Cup - Shredded Mozerella cheese
2 tbsp - parmesean cheese
1 1/2 tbsp - melted butter
1/2 tsp or 1 big clove - freshly grated garlic
1/2 tsp - dry basil
salt to taste

Directions:
  • Mix 1 tsp of sugar with 1 cup + 2 tbsp of warm water and add active dry yeast.  Keep it aside for 5-10 minutes to get activated and become frothy.
  • Mix flour, salt and dry basil in stand mixer's mixing bowl.  Add the activated yeast to it.  Using a hook attachment knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes and add 1 tbsp of olive oil and knead for another 30 seconds.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 1 hr to rise.  
  • Mean while mix the grated garlic with melted butter in bowl and keep it aside.
  • Pre heat oven to 425 F and dust a baking sheet with flour.
  • Punch down the air and roll the dough on a floured surface to a 1/2 inch thick circle or rectangle to fit the baking sheet.
  • Transfer the rolled dough to the baking sheet and brush the garlic butter on top of it.  Sprinkle the mozerella cheese, parmesean and basil one after another evenly on the dough.  Sprinkle little bit of salt on the sides of the crust where there are no toppings.  Using a pizza cutter cut the dough into strips of desired size.  This doesn't have to cut all the way through the bottom.
  • Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or till the cheese starts to melt and gets golden brown. Run the pizza cutter through the previously marked cuttings to separate them and enjoy them with your favorite tomato sauce or soup.
Notes:
  • The dough may not poof up dramatically as we are adding a small amount of yeast.  But the bread will be soft.
  • Increase the amount of cheese if you like the bread to be on very cheesy side.
  • Left over bread  can be refrigerated.  To use them just plop them in the microwave for few seconds or bake in the toaster oven or conventional oven at 350 F for 5 - 6 minutes.
  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Kerala Style Prawns In Spicy Creamy Coconut Gravy


National weather channel forecasted snow accumulation and gelid weather over the North East since last week, we were not lucky enough to elude from the winter storm, but kids had the best time building an igloo in our backyard.  This frigid weather persuades me to prepare something spicy and hot to keep us warm and sustain the energy to withstand the cold.  So I had to do some digging in for something special....


Yes, I made it sure; it’s not there, nowhere in my drafts or even in any of my cheat sheets.  Hmm...How did I miss it?  I was looking for my Prawns Curry recipe I used to make.  In fact it was one of the first fish/shell fish curries I made by following my Mom's direction.  I never liked the taste of fish when I was young.  There were only few I liked and prawns were one among them.  When I started cooking, I knew that the easy peel shrimp you get here is the one to go for.  My first attempt of prawns curry was not a success.  I don't think I remember the count of failures, but later on I managed to get it hit the spot and I used to serve this for any get together in my house.

The interesting thing about this recipe is that I never made a note of this anywhere and I haven't made this curry for a while now....I am talking about years here.  Last weekend my parents came back from India after their vacation and their elaborate stories of food they enjoyed there was overwhelming for a foodie in me and it reminded me of this delicious curry and I was determined to make this curry.  But my search for this recipe in my folders was vain.  I had to dust up my memory to make it again.  It was all coming back.  I felt like I found a long lost friend of mine after making it!!
Please don't get intimidated by the ingredient list, it's not that complicated to make the curry. 

Ingredients:
30 - 40 - medium size shrimp/prawns deveined and cleaned
3 - big slices Kerala tamarind used for fish curry (refer notes)
1/2 cup - warm water to soak tamarind
1 cup - water
1/2 cup - thick coconut milk
1/2 tsp. - black mustard seeds
1/4 cup - fresh/frozen coconut slices
1 tbsp. - oil

Masala
1 tsp. - Chili powder
1/2 tsp - turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp. - kashmiri chili powder
1/4 tsp. - asafoetida/hing
1/4 tsp. - roasted fenugreek powder/Uluva powder
1 tsp - oil

2 sprigs - fresh curry leaves
1 tsp - pure coconut oil (optional)

To grind
8 - small size shallots sliced
1 tbsp. - garlic paste
1 tbsp. - ginger paste
1/4 cup - water
1 1/2 tbsp. - oil
1/2 tsp. - salt

Directions:
  • Wash the Tamarind and soak them in 1/2 cup warm water and keep it aside.
  • Wash the prawns/shrimp in cold water and keep it aside.  I use either turmeric water or lemon juice to wash the fish to remove the fishy smell.
  • In a pan heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil and sauté shallots, ginger & garlic paste with salt till they are light golden brown color.  Keep it aside to cool. Grind this mixture into a smooth paste with 1/4 cup water.
  • In the same pan, add 1 tsp of oil and roast the chili powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek and asafoetida on low flame till the raw smell is gone.  Now add the ginger garlic shallot paste and cook for 2 minutes till the gravy gets into a thick paste.  Turn off the flame.
  • Take a earthen ware or non stick pan to cook the curry.  Add 1 tbsp. of oil and splutter the mustard seeds.  Add the cooked masala to the pan, followed by tamarind plus the water in which it was soaked.  Add 1 cup of water and adjust the salt.  Now add the shrimp/prawns and coconut slices to the pan.  Add the curry leaves and close the lid of the pan.  Cook the shrimp on low to medium heat till the gravy starts to thicken a bit.  Now add the coconut milk and cook for another 2 minute on low flame.  Add 1 tsp. coconut oil on top of the curry and turn off the flame.  Garnish with some fresh curry leaves.
  • Let the curry sit for 10 - 15 minutes before serving.  As it cools the gravy will become thick.  Serve the Spicy Kerala Style Prawns with plain steamed rice.
Notes:
  • Fish Tamarind is something you can get from Indian stores.  Adding the regular tamarind paste can ruin the color of the curry.  Even though I highly recommend Fish Tamarind for this curry to get the authentic taste, you can substitute it with 4 to 5 tbsp. of thick tomato paste.
  • You can increase/decrease the amount of water depending on how you want your gravy to be.
  • You can increase/decrease the amount of coconut milk.  I like fish curry to be spicy, so I didn't add more coconut milk.  Adding more coconut milk will bring down the heat of the curry.
  • You can also adjust the amount of chili powder and Fish tamarind per your taste.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Multi Lentil Crispy Crepes / Multi Dal Dosa




There are certain things in everyone's life that will sustain forever in the corners of their minds.  No matter how long back the impression was made into the memory or how fading the memory gets, you try to rejuvenate it like chewing the cud once in a while to keep it lively behind the foggy cloud of clutters in your mind.  Let it be good or bad, some memories never perish especially your childhood memories on your favorite food.



I am pretty sure that we all brag about our Mom's handmade food.  Honestly, that might not be the best food, but we like to mention it as the world's best food because the love and care she puts into each meal she prepares uplifts a simple meal to another level.  The best part is that when you are away from your home, you feel like everything you eat is useless and tasteless and you will even crave for your least favorite food that your Mom used to make at home.  Isn't that a crazy feeling?





Years ago when I was expecting my first baby, I had this crazy craving for some Masala Dosa and there was no way that I was capable of making anything close to it and it was getting late in the evening.  I had to get these dosas somehow.  The restaurant was almost half hr away from where we used to live and my hubby was perplexed by my uneasiness.  He might have thought that I would have the baby right away if I don't eat dosas.  Anyway we went to the restaurant and I still remember how I ate that most precious dosa within minutes while giving an impression to my hubby and people who noticed me like if I had not eaten for days.  Masala dosa was one of my childhood favorite and I literally craved throughout my pregnancies for these dosas.  Now my kids love them too :).  Thanks to my cravings!! 




Today I am posting a recipe of the dosa which I found on 'Chef At Large' group on facebook and I was so excited to try it and it yielded the best results.  This dosa tastes little bit different than the regular dosa.  This dosa has more dal/lentil taste than the rice based dosa which underlines the fact that they are healthier.  The highlight about these dosas are that they turn out to be very crispy and crunchy just like how you get from the restaurants  and you don't feel much of a difference in the taste when served with chutney or sambar unless you got some super active taste buds like my kids who can quickly sense the difference.  But we all enjoyed these dosas with our favorite Tomato Cilantro Chutney for our weekend breakfast.  The left over batter was used to make dinner on the weekday.






Yields - 20  or more thin dosas depending on the size

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups - Moong dal without skin
1 cup - Moong Dal/green gram with skin
1/2 cup - urad dal/black lentil without skin
1/2 cup - basmati rice
3 1/2 cups - Luke warm water

Directions:
  • Soak dals and rice separately for at least 8 hrs. or overnight.
  • Grind dal mix with 3 cups of water into a very smooth batter.  Then grind rice with 1/2 cup of water.  It is important to grind the lentils and rice to a very smooth batter to get the crispy thin dosa.  Turn the oven light on and keep the batter covered in the oven and set the timer for 3 hrs.  This batter don't need fermentation.  Add salt to taste just before making the dosas.
  • Heat a flat non stick or cast iron pan on medium heat.  Once the pan is hot lower the flame little bit.  Cut a small shallot at the bottom and dip in oil and rub it on the surface of a hot pan.   If using a big pan, pour 3 ( 2 for smaller pans) medium size ladle of batter at the center of the pan and start spreading the batter with the flat surface of the ladle by moving your arm starting from center to outside in concentric circular pattern.  Please refer to the image in the second last picture in this post.  Drizzle few drops of melted butter or ghee on top of the dosa and let it cook on low flame.   If you are using a big pan, you may have to move the pan around to get enough heat on all sides.  When it starts to get light golden brown on the thinner part of the dosa, it is ready to roll into ghee roast style dosa.   Or when all the sides are evenly cooked, it is ready.  There is no need to flip the dosa on the other side.  You can use a spatula and a fork to start rolling the dosa to form a hollow log as shown in the picture.
  • The rest of the batter can be used to make dosas as needed.  The left over batter can be refrigerated up to 2 days.  You can enjoy these crispy dosas with Tomato Cilantro Chutney or  Avocado Chutney or Sambar/Curried mix of vegetables and lentil.
Notes:
  • The key in making a very thin crispy dosa is the way you move fast to spread the batter on the hot pan without leaving the time for the batter to cook right away before you spread it.  So its important to keep the flame on low to medium heat.  It will take some practice to make perfect round dosas.  Like I mentioned in the directions the batter should be very smooth too.
  • I used a big flat cast iron pan to make these dosas and they turned out to be very crunchy. 
  • You can get all these different kinds of dal/lentils from any Indian stores.
  • You can very well half the recipe to adjust for the number of dosas you need.
  • Like any other dosas, its better to enjoy them warm out of the pan, which will keep them crunchy.  If you like soft dosas, you can use the same batter and all you have to do is not spread the batter too much while making them.  Basically make it thicker than ghee roasts, which will result in soft dosas.
  • You can grind 1 tbsp. of chopped ginger with the batter to give a flavor.  You can certainly flavor the dosa with sauteed onions, cilantro, green chili or curry leaves.  But I have not tested it with these options to see if they will turn out to be crispy.  You may have to grind them to smooth paste for even spreading of the batter to make the dosa which is the key to make these crispy dosas.