Monday, December 29, 2014

Corn Flake Cookies



Today I have an easy recipe for you that yields a delicious treat for your family and friends during this Christmas time.  I have been baking these cookies since last year when one of my blogger friend who posted this on her blog.  I couldn't resist baking these cookies right away and it turned out to be a keeper.  Last year I made some edible gifts with these cookies.  This cookie is my little one's favorite.  I am sure you will love it too.





I want to keep this post short and sweet.    Bake this yummy treats and enjoy.  Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!!


Recipe adapted from here
Yields - 12 - 15 cookies depending on the size you roll them

Ingredients 
1 1/4 cup - all purpose flour
2 tbsp. - Corn flour
1/4 tsp. - Baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) - Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup - Sugar
1 - egg
1/4 tsp. - vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup - Plain Corn flakes  ( crushed )

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Sift flour, corn flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl and stir until combined.
  • Cream butter and Sugar for few minutes until fluffy in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer using paddle attachment or using an electric hand mixer.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well till creamy.
  • Add the flour mixture to it and beat till combined.  The dough will be slightly sticky.  If it is hard to handle, cover it with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 - 20 minutes to set.
  • Make balls using 1 tbsp. of the dough for each cookie and gently press them between your palms to flatten.  Roll them in crushed corn flakes.
  • Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper with enough spacing so that they get room for expansion.  Bake them for 25 - 30 minutes.
  • Cool them on wire rack and store it in air tight container.  These cookies will stay fresh for 2 weeks at room temperature in air tight containers.
Notes:
  • I bake them for 30 minutes, so that they turn out little crunchy and crispy and this helps to keep them longer.  If you are making small cookies, 25 minutes of baking will be enough.  Depending upon your oven and the size of the cookies, the time may vary.  So keep an eye on the cookies after 20 minutes.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Eggless CutOut Shortbread Cookies



Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
'Tis the season to be jolly
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

Looking outside through my family room window I can still see the yard full of Christmas decorations and lights in one of the houses in our development.  We barely did any decorations outside this time.  Our outside decoration was limited to a Christmas wreath on the door.    Boxes full of icicle lights are still sitting in the basement untouched.  There are so many things going on around this time that we are hardly finding time to do all these decorations this year.  Kids were excited to put the Christmas tree up, so it happened a week ago.  Yes I know it was late too!!!  Anyway, I didn't want to miss the baking spree I always enjoy during this time of the year.  Honestly speaking last few days, I was busy baking batches of cookies for the Christmas Carolers.  Our Church has a tradition of going to houses with most of the church members including kids and sing carols.  It's a fun filled whole day process.



Here is a recipe for eggless Shortbread Cookies that you can make with your kids or even by yourself.  My kids were excited to cut out different shapes with the cookie cutter.  They look so cute and you can decorate as you wish.  I simply used some melted chocolate to do the final touch of decorations rather than sugar coated icing.  You can use Vanilla or Coconut or Almond flavoring for these cookies.  I prefer pure Vanilla extract flavor for these cookies.  This is one of those simple recipes that use the ingredients you can find in your pantry all the time.  If you don't have a cookie cutter, you can even use a serrated knife to cut out the cookies in rectangles, squares or in triangles.  You can even use a floured Mason jar lid to make some round cookies. 



Recipe adapted from here

Yields - 15 - 20 cookies (number will vary with the size, shape and thickness)

Ingredients:

2 cups - all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp.. - salt
1 cup / 2 sticks - unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup - powdered sugar
1 tsp. - pure Vanilla extract


To Decorate

1/2 cup - semisweet dark chocolate / milk chocolate pieces

Directions:
  • Beat the butter to achieve a smooth and creamy texture in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer using paddle attachment or using a electric hand mixer or a rubber spatula.
  • Add the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla.  Beat well on low speed for 30 seconds.  Now add the flour and mix well till the dough is all crumbly and wet and holds together.
  • Transfer the dough to the center of a plastic wrap sheet.  Cover the dough with another long piece of plastic wrap.   Now use your hands to smooth up the dough little bit to form a ball with the plastic wrap on.  Using a rolling pin roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick circle with the plastic wrap on.  Transfer the rolled dough to a flat plate and make sure all the edges are covered with the plastic wrap. 
  • Keep the plate with the plastic wrapped dough into the freezer to set for 5 - 6 minutes.  If the dough is very sticky keep it for 10 minutes.
  • Pre heat oven to 350 F.
  • Now the dough is ready to be cut out into shapes.  Using your favorite cookie cutter cut out some shapes.  Try to cut out maximum number of cookies from the first batch.
  • Bake the cookies on  a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 8 - 10 minutes or till the sides of the cookies starts to get very light golden brown.  You have to make sure that the cookies are not over baked.  Cookies should have white color.
  • Repeat the rolling, freezing, cutting out process till all the dough is used up.  Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack.
To decorate
  • Using a double boiler method melt the 1/2 cup of chocolate pieces or microwave 4 cups of water in a microwave safe bowl  for 4 minutes.  Place the chocolate pieces in a smaller heat proof bowl and place over the bowl with hot water.  Use a spoon to stir the chocolate, it will melt completely.    I used 2 measuring cups of different sizes to do this.  You can either dip a part of the cookie into the melted chocolate to decorate it and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper to cool.  Or you can use a piping bag with writing tip to make some designs.  Let the chocolate  designs harden completely before transferring to an air tight container.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kerala Plum Cake/Christmas Fruit Cake



Kerala Plum Cake or Christmas fruit cake is a rich, dense and moist cake famous in the Southern part of India (Kerala) which is traditionally served during Christmas time.  There are few popular brands of these cakes available in Kerala which people religiously buy during Christmas time.  Local Bakeries bake tons of plum cakes during Christmas and New Year time and this is exigent with some red wine during the Christmas feast in typical Central Travancore Christian families.  The authentic Kerala Plum cake is made with loads of dry fruits soaked in either Rum/Brandy with a blend of spice mix.  The aged soaked fruits and caramel syrup gives the flavor and dark color for the traditional Kerala Cake.  The labyrinth steps and longer list of ingredients coerce one to rely on the Plum cake from local bakers.  Now days there are several variations to these cakes with fewer ingredients and less alcohol or no alcohol. 


I have been making this cake for the past couple of years and it’s a no fail cake and my family and friends love it.  To be honest, I was never a fan of Kerala Plum cake till my marriage.  It was a boozy and spicy cake for me.  My attitude towards the Plum cake changed when I found out that my hubby was a big fan of Kerala Plum cake.  He used to make sure to get a cake whenever he visits my parents where Kerala stores stack these cakes on the front desk.  I remember once when my son's baby sitter who offered me a small loaf of rum cake which was dark, fruity and full of flavor.  It was an amazing cake, just like the Jamaican dark rum cake.  If you go for cruise to the Caribbean islands, make sure to get one of the dark rum cakes, they are so addictive and tastes similar to the Kerala Plum cake.  Since my hubby is a diehard fan of Plum cake, I was forced to give it a try in my kitchen.



My first attempt was a flop.  It turned out to be a very hard cake even though the taste was awesome.  I never gave up my experiment with Plum cake.  The next attempt was a success with a bang.  Since then, I follow this recipe word by word which I came up by tweaking few recipes from our family and my friends.  I highly recommend you to read the recipe and notes to the end before you start baking the cake.  If you strictly follow the recipe without improvising, I can guarantee you that you will get a most flavorful Kerala Plum Cake.  Once you are confident with the first trial, you can certainly improvise the recipe in the next attempts.  I am warning you because I learnt it in a hard way by ruining the cake in my first attempt and you don’t want to waste all the dry fruits and the amount of effort you took to make it.



I had made the Plum cake using red wine which equally imparts the flavor as the Rum/brandy version.  Once you start making your own Plum cake, you would never like to buy one from the bakery.  The homemade Plum cake is less sweet and more flavorful than the store bought Plum cake.  This recipe yields a soft yet dense cake which is very moist and goes well with a glass of red wine or Masala Chai/Tea.  The aroma of the freshly baked Plum Cake is so tempting that you cannot wait to cut the cake soon after baking.  But hold your horses and let the cake mature in flavor.  Trust me the fruit of patience is rewarding and you will thank me for waiting.  I usually bake the cake beginning of December and have it wrapped and sit till Christmas for cutting, which helps to develop the right flavor. 



I usually soak a big jar of dry fruits and make several 6 inch cakes and share with family during Christmas season.  You can make these and wrap in nice Christmas themed boxes and give to your family and friends as a Christmas gift with other edible homemade goodies. 





This is my trusted no fail Kerala Plum cake recipe that yields the best Plum cake that suits my family's taste each time when I bake it.

The recipe is using US measurement standards.  Here is the conversion chart you can use to convert it to Metric measurement equivalents.

Yields - a 9'' round or Bundt cake

Ingredients:

To Soak the Fruits
3 cups - chopped dry fruits   (Black &Golden raisins,Black Currants,Prunes,Dates,cranberries, cherries, Pineapple, Apricot, Cashews, almonds)
1 1/2 - 2 cups - red wine  or use enough to soak the fruits

Caramel Syrup
1 1/4 cup - granulated Sugar
3/4 cup - hot water

Fruit Cake
1 cup or 2 sticks -  butter at room temperature
2 1/4 cups - powdered sugar
4 - eggs yolks
  
2 ½ cups - All purpose flour
2 tsp - baking powder
1 tsp - baking soda
1/2 tsp - salt
1/2 tsp - Cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp - Clove powder
1/2 tsp - Cardamom powder
1/4 tsp - Nutmeg powder
1 tsp - Vanilla Extract
Caramel Syrup
1/4 cup - hot water
3 cups - dry fruits soaked in wine


 To Whip
4 - egg whites
2 tbsp -  powdered sugar


Directions:

For Soaking the fruits
  •  Soak the fruits in the red wine at least 3-4 weeks in advance.  Keep them in an airtight container; once a week stir the mix with a clean dry spoon to make sure the fruits are getting soaked well.
Caramel Syrup
  • Take a heavy bottom pan and melt 1 1/4 cup sugar on low flame.  When it started to get light brown color, use a long wooden spoon to mix the sugar well.  The sugar needs to get brown in color without burning.  Lower the flame and add the hot water to the melted sugar.  Be careful, as the melted sugar is very hot and starts to splutter.  The melted sugar will start to crystallize.  Increase the flame to medium heat and let the syrup boil.  This will help the crystallized sugar to melt again.  Once all the sugar is melted.  Turn off the flame and let the syrup cool.
For the Fruit Cake
  •  Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  •  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices twice and keep aside.
  •  Beat the butter with powdered sugar till smooth and creamy using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer.  Add the egg yolks one at a time until the mix is creamy and fluffy. Add the Vanilla essence and Caramel syrup and smoothly combine everything together.
  • Add 1/4 cup of hot water to the pan where the caramel syrup was made and bring to boil to dissolve any left over caramel.  Let this liquid cool for 5 - 6 minutes.  Add this light liquid to egg butter mix and beat for 30 seconds.
  • Now add the dry ingredients slowly and beat to mix well.
  •  Strain the wine soaked fruits and reserve the wine.  Fold in the fruits into the batter.
  •  Beat the Egg Whites and 2 tbsp. of powdered sugar in a separate clean mixing bowl until soft peaks are formed.  If using a stand mixer, attach the whipping whisk for this step.  Gently fold in the whipped egg whites into the cake batter without deflating much of the whipped egg whites.
  •  Pour the cake batter into greased cake pan and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hr or until a tooth pick/ wooden skewer comes out clean when tested on the center of the cake.
  •  Take the cake out from the oven and drizzle 2-3 tbsp. of the reserved wine over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan.
  •  Transfer the cake from pan to a wire rack and brush the reserved wine over the cake.
  •  Wrap the cake with plastic wrap and cover with an aluminum foil and keep in cold dry place.  In between you can brush the cake with left over wine for more flavor till ready to use.
Notes:
  • The dark color of the cake comes from the caramel syrup.  Make sure that the syrup is not burned but has the right color.  A burned syrup can ruin the flavor of the cake.  The color of the caramel syrup should look similar to the dark vanilla extract.
  •  It is very important to whip the egg whites separate and fold them into the batter at the end, otherwise the cake will turn out to be hard.
  • Make sure that the butter is at room temperature but not melted.  The butter, egg yolks and powdered sugar when beaten together should yield a creamy yellow fluffy mix.  Any lumps of butter can ruin the texture of the cake.  I usually leave the butter 15/20 minutes outside at room temperature before starting to make the batter.  While the butter gets to room temperature, you can get all other ingredients ready.  The butter should be retaining the shape of the finger when pressed, that is the right consistency to start with.
  •  I used a dark metallic bundt pan to bake the cake.  The cooking time varies from light aluminum pan to dark metallic pans.  Light metals uses less time than dark metallic pans and glass baking dishes.
  • The longer you soak the fruits, the more flavorful the cake will be.  If you don't have enough time, just soak the fruits is warm wine and bake the cake.
  • The dry fruits should be cut into smaller pieces so that they won't sink to the bottom of the cake.  You can mix 1-2 tbsp of flour to the fruits before mixing into the batter.  This helps to the fruits from sinking to the bottom.
  • I usually bake this cake during winter time, so keeping them in a dark cold place keeps the cake stay longer without spoiling the cake.  If you are not sure how to store it, keep it refrigerated.
  • Since its a butter based cake and has lots of flavor from wine and spice mix, I prefer to warm up the cake for 10 - 20 seconds before serving.  This enhances the flavor of the cake.
  • This is not a soft fluffy cake, it has a dense texture with lots of fruits and nuts.  Due to this texture, it has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Make sure that you use a non stick pan or grease the pan well or use parchment paper for easy release.
  • Over baking the cake makes the cake hard.  Under cooking the cake will result in sticky cake.  So it is important to bake the cake to at least 1 hr if using dark metallic pan.  Opening the oven door in between can cause cracks and a dip in the center of the cake, so wait for at least 50 - 55 minutes before checking the readiness of the cake.
  • If you are planning to store the cake for long time, make sure you use the same amount of sugar in the recipe, otherwise the cake will spoil fast.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baked MeatBalls With Cranberry Orange Glaze



'I am not ready for this yet'.  Each winter, you hear this.  Seriously, I don't think that I ever thought that way till last weekend when the first snow showered on us.  I always wished for more Sunlight and longer daytime though.  Nature seemed to be not ready yet as the trees were still bearing the colorful leaves while the gusts of chilling snowflakes were dumped over these leaves.  I was not expecting the snow to be this early; it looks more like January when piles of snow appear on the sides of the roads.  Boots, jackets, scarves, gloves...there goes the list.  All are out now and I love it!!!



Thanksgiving is around the corner and I bet you all are ready to go on a baking spree.  Did you pick the bird to bake?  Did you sort out the menu for the Thanksgiving dinner?  Here is a perfect lip smacking appetizer that you can serve for Thanksgiving.  These meatballs got the zing that makes you go for more.



 The picky eater in my house was well impressed by the taste and he didn't even care when I told him that I made it with turkey meat which he dislikes.  It was a big hit in my house and I even packed some in thermos for their lunch.  I think I said enough about the meatballs.  Let’s dig into the recipe.



Yields - approximately 45 - 50 meatballs

Ingredients:

3 lb. - ground Beef/Chicken/Turkey
4 slices -  bread pulsed in food processor/chopper
2 - eggs
1 tsp. - pepper powder
1/2 tsp. - garlic powder
1 tsp. - salt
1/2 tsp. - red chili flakes

For the Sauce
1 cup - fresh/frozen cranberries
4 tbsp. - brown sugar
1 cup - freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cups - barbecue sauce of your choice
1/2 tsp. - red chili flakes

Directions:
  • Pre heat oven to 400°F.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together and roll them into balls with 1 tbsp. of the mix for each ball.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Apply cooking spray and bake the meatballs for 30 minutes or till the center is no longer pink.  You may have to do this in 2/3 batches.
  • Meanwhile the meatballs are baking, you can make the sauce.  In a sauce pan add the cranberries and 4 tbsp. of brown sugar, cook on low heat.  The cranberries starts to pop.  Use a wooden spoon to mash the cranberries and cook on low for 15 minutes.  Add the orange juice, chili flakes and barbecue sauce and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.  The sauce starts to thicken.  Turn off the flame.
  • Place the meatballs in a heat proof bowl that can hold all of them.  Pour the sauce over the meatballs.  Gently shake the bowl to coat the sauce on the meatballs.  Let the meatballs cool for 5 minutes.  The sauce will stick to the meatballs forming the glaze.  Enjoy them while they are warm.
  • The left overs can be refrigerated up to a week in air tight container or they can be stored in the freezer for later use.
Notes:
  • Like the recipe suggests, you can use any ground meat of your choice.
  • You can use Cranberry Jelly if you don't have fresh/frozen cranberries.  You may have to adjust the amount of sugar as the cranberry jelly is already sweet.  The fresh cranberry imparts a nice taste and I liked biting into the skin of cranberry along with the meatballs.
  • Adjust the amount of seasoning per your taste. 
  • Frozen meatballs can be either heated in microwave or in the oven.  Pre heat the oven to 350 F, line them on a greased baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes or till done.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Best Chocolate Cupcake With Nutella Swiss Meringue Frosting - A Dynamite CupCake









I can never say enough about the Swiss Meringue Frosting.  It’s my favorite frosting next to the whipped Cream frosting.  The beauty about Swiss Meringue frosting is that it is so light and fluffy and can be confused with whipped frosting.  Swiss meringue frosting is a short cut way of making the famous Italian Meringue frosting which involves intricate steps. 


 I highly recommend this frosting; it’s worth all the effort and pipes so well.  They are ideal for decorating layered cakes and regular cupcakes.  I always like to try this frosting with different flavor.  I made these cupcakes for a potluck at my work and I got raving comments like 'Killer Cupcakes, Dynamite Cupcakes' from my coworkers about these cupcakes.



 I believe it was the combination of the black magic chocolate cake and the Nutella Swiss meringue frosting that made them the exquisite chocolate cupcakes.  This experimental combination turned out to be the best chocolate cupcake I ever made.



 If you are planning to make any chocolate cake in the future, I insist to try this recipe for the best moist chocolaty cake you can have and top them with this fluffy silky smooth Nutella Meringue frosting.  It's a luscious combination that you cannot resist.




Yields - 36 cupcakes

Ingredients
Cupcakes - recipe from here

Frosting
5 - large egg whites (refer notes)
2/3 cup - sugar
2 cups /4 sticks - cold butter
2/3 cup -  powdered sugar
2 tsp. - vanilla extract
6 tbsp. - Nutella

Directions:
 Cupcakes
  • Use 1 batch + 1/2 batch  of the black magic chocolate cake recipe to make 36 cupcakes.  Make sure that you fill only 3/4 of the cupcake liner with the batter, so that the cake batter won't ooze out while baking.  Bake the cupcake at 350 F for 25 minutes or till a tooth pick comes out clean when tested in the center of the cupcake.  I made them in batches to avoid burning.  Let the cupcake cool completely before decorating.
Frosting
  • Double boiler Method - Fill half of a sauce pan with water and let it simmer over a stop top.  Place 5 egg whites and 2/3 cup of sugar into the heat proof bowl that can fit on top of the sauce pan without touching the water.  Using a wire whisk, stir the egg sugar mixture continuously till you don't feel any sugar crystals when rubbing the mixture between your fingers.  At this point you can notice that the egg sugar mixture is clear with light pale color.   If you have a candy thermometer, it should read  160°F which makes the egg whites safe to use. Turn off the flame. 
  • Transfer the egg white mixture into the standing mix bowl.  Make sure that the steam from the bottom of the bowl don't get into the mixture while transferring.   Use the whipping paddle and whip till the egg whites are silky white and forms soft peaks.
  • Now add the cold butter pieces one at a time and whip till the butter is mixed well with the egg white.  This needs good 10 minutes of whipping.  At this point you will notice that the frosting looks lumpy and soupy, you will also notice little wetness in the frosting.  Don't panic, this is part of the process.  Just keep beating.  It will start to come along.  Add the powdered sugar in batches to the butter mixture at this point and keep beating.
  • The frosting will come along as a smooth fluffy frosting within 2 -3 minutes.  Now add 6 tbsp. of Nutella and vanilla extract.  Whip it on high for 1 - 2 minutes or till the frosting forms sharp peaks.
  • Place the frosting into piping bags  and decorate the cupcakes.  I used Wilton 1M and 2D tips to decorate the cupcakes.
Notes:
  • If this recipe yields more frosting than what you need, just half the recipe.  You can use 3 small egg whites and half the amount for rest of the ingredients to make half batch.  Please note that  my recipes follow the US Standard measurements.
  • You can add more Nutella.  Just keep in mind that the sweetness of the frosting will increase, or else you can adjust the amount of powdered sugar to keep the balance.
  • Left over frosting can be stored in air tight container in the refrigerator.  To reuse the refrigerated frosting,  keep the frosting at room temperature for 15 - 20 minutes; whip the frosting again before decorating the cake.
  • If the temperature is higher outside, the decorated cupcakes can be kept in the refrigerator which helps to hold the frosting intact.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Easy Breakfast Frittata



Last couple of days, the sun seldom showed up through the clouds.  I had no mood to cook anything and post.  I woke up a bit earlier on the weekend when I heard the TV downstairs turned on by my little one.  I went down to tell him that it was too early, but he pointed to the window 'Mommy look at the sun, its not early!!'.  The sunlight straining through the blinds lit the spark in me.  The sun is out today, I have to do something!!!  It was matter of minutes to rejuvenate the blogger in me.  I knew exactly what to make for the breakfast.  I got my camera and started taking pictures of the eggs.  Soon I had to comprehend the fact that the sunlight was not going to last longer after moving my props and the board several times from patio window to another window to get the glimpse of the precious sunlight.  Few trips to the basement to get the boards and running back and forth from kitchen to get the ingredients woke the rest of family :).  So all the hungry tummies were wandering around me to finish the photo shoot.  Somehow I managed to take few pictures of the frittata before it got dim again.  I made 2 sets, one in a smaller 6 inch pan and the other in 10 inch grilled cast iron pan (ideal for making grilled sandwiches and grilling vegetables & meat) with more eggs.



Breakfast frittata is something I make very frequently for my kids during weekdays for their breakfast.  I even pack them for lunch and they love it.  All you need is some eggs, veggies, cheese, some seasoning and a cast iron pan.  You can chop all the veggies the night before.  Mix all of them together and bake in the morning.



A freshly baked protein rich breakfast is ready within 20 minutes which will keep your body fueled till lunch!!



Serves - 2  to 3
Ingredients:

4 - Eggs
2 tbsp - milk
1/4 cup - chopped onion
1/4 cup - red bell peppers chopped
1/4 cup - spinach / Swiss chard /broccoli chopped
1/4 cup - Cheddar / Mexican Cheese blend
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
  • Pre heat oven to 400°F.
  • Using a wire whisk beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper well till everything is blended well.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix well.
  • Apply oil or non stick oil to a 6 inch cast iron pan.  Pour the mix and cook it uncovered for 20 minutes.
  • Cut the frittata into pieces and serve warm with ketchup or your favorite hot sauce.
Notes:
  • If you don't have a cast iron pan, you can use a oven proof baking dish or glass dish.  Cast iron provides the uniform heat to bake the frittata and helps it to puff up to the top without burning.  If you are using a baking dish or glassware the cooking time may vary.  Please check the readiness of the frittata using a tooth pick after 20 minutes.
  • I used to make them on stove top in regular non-stick skillet, but the base used to get burned.  So for better results bake them in a cast iron pan in oven.
  • You can add meat sausage and any vegetables and cheese of your choice.





Monday, October 27, 2014

Honey Oats Bread





We - yes that's appropriate since there are 2 of us.  Since the day when we were thrown into the dark corner we have been awaiting for your warmth touch.  Days, weeks and months passed by like light years.  Why did you neglect us?  We deserved better place than the dark corners.  We eagerly waited to be picked up when the footsteps got closer to us each time.  Even though you were a finger tip close to us several times, you ignored us for long.   What changed your mind now?  All long waited moment has come...a ticklish shiver of joy passed through us when you picked us with care and ran the silky strands though us.  Yes, this is the place we belong to. Don't you agree that we look much prettier here than in the dark cold corner? -  She viewed herself in the mirror.   Yes it looks much prettier now.  With great contentment she adored the 2 buttons she sewed on to her jacket that was lost last winter!!



Do you procrastinate?  Have you thought of being more organized?  Have you wished that you never waited long to get things done?  Sometimes it will be a simple task and need only 5 minutes of your time, but why do we neglect those and push aside? Time to ponder...



A homemade bread recipe is a must in the repertoire of a blogger.  I am not sure why it took so long for me to post one.  I baked this beautiful bread on the weekend that made my entire house smell like a bakery.  And speaking of which, who doesn't like fresh baked homemade bread?   My blissful face proclaimed that something good was happening in the kitchen to my hubby's curiosity.  The freshly baked aroma of the bread was irresistible in the first place;  hubby and kids came to see if they could get a slice; but I had to guard the bread like a 'chicken protecting her chicks' from eagle for the pictures.   I had to wait for the bread to cool completely, but it was too good to resist.  Finally I did the ceremony of cutting the bread. We enjoyed the warm slices of the bread with homemade mixed berry jam and some milk.  Its a lightly sweet hard crust bread with a soft texture.




Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients
3 cups - all purpose flour
1/2 cup - whole wheat flour
1 cup - rolled oats / old fashioned oats
1/3 cup - dry milk powder
1 1/2 tsp. - salt

1 packet / 7g/ 2 1/4 tsp. - active dry yeast
1 tsp. - sugar
1 1/3 cup - luke-warm water
3 tbsp. - melted butter
1/4 cup - honey
1 tsp. - oil ( to coat the dough)

To sprinkle
1 1/2 tbsp. - rolled oats
1 1/2 tbsp. - warm honey

Directions:
  • Add 1 tsp. of sugar and  2 1/4 tsp. yeast to 11/3 cup of luke warm and mix gently and leave it to get activated for 5 - 10 minutes.
  • Mean time in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer or regular mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.  Add the frothy yeast mix, melted butter and honey to the dry ingredients.
  • Attach the dough hook and knead for 2 to 3 minutes till everything is mixed well.  If you are not using a stand mixture, just knead it till everything is mixed.  The dough will be sticky.  Apply 1 tsp. of oil on the dough and cover with a kitchen towel and keep it in warm place to rise for at least 1 hour or till the dough rise and attains double its volume.
  • Grease a standard 9'' x 5'' loaf pan.
  • Take the proofed dough out the bowl and place on a floured surface or clean kitchen counter.  Flatten with your hand to form a  thick circle.  Roll the dough once into a log shape.  Pinch together the seem sides and the ends.  Place the rolled dough into the loaf pan with pinched sides down.  Cover the dough with kitchen towel and let it rise for another hour.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Brush the top of the proofed bread shaped dough with warm honey and sprinkle the oats over it.  Bake the bread for 40 minutes in the middle rack till the top gets light brown color.
  • Transfer the break to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting.
  • Wrap the bread in aluminum foil and store outside for 2 days.  If planning to store more than 2 days, keep it wrapped in refrigerator.
Notes:
  • You can use instant oats instead of rolled oats.
  • While baking, if you notice the top of the bread is getting browned fast, keep it covered with aluminum foil for first 20 minutes and remove the foil and finish baking.
  • Wait till the bread is completely cooled before cutting, otherwise the slices will not come out good.  Use a serrated knife to cut the bread.
  • You can make sandwiches and French toast with this bread.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Eggless Cardamom Butter Cookies / Nan Khatai




Diwali (Indian festival of lights) is coming up and bloggers are busy posting all the delightful treats on their blogs and Indian stores are crowded with people doing last minute shopping for sweets, clay lamps and groceries.  The stores advertise grocery items on sale and there is usually a big crowd in the Indian store where I get my Indian groceries.  So going there on Diwali season during my lunch time from work is a risk, since I won't be able to return on time even though the store is close by.   So I rely on homemade sweets during Diwali.  Trust me, they tastes much better than the store bought sweets.


For this Diwali, we are indulging on this melt in mouth Cardamom Butter Cookies aka 'Nan Khatai'.  Like I said, it’s like a piece of white cloud that will melt in your mouth.  The texture is close to short bread cookies, but it is very delicate and the touch of cardamom uplifts the whole butter cookie to another level.  There are several variations to this recipe, but here I used the simple ingredients to make this yummy treat and I topped it with a piece of cranberry to give an appealing contrasting look.  If you have never tried making these treats, I insist that you should give this a try.  You will definitely enjoy this treat!!


Yields - 30 cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups - All purpose flour
1/4 tsp. - salt
1/2 tsp. - baking powder
1/2 tsp. - green cardamom powder (refer notes)
1 cup (2 sticks) - unsalted butter and room temperature
1 cup - powdered sugar

Directions:
  •  Pre heat oven to 300°F.
  • Combine powdered sugar and butter in a mixing bowl till creamy using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon.
  • Sift all purpose flour, salt and baking powder into the creamed butter.  Using your hand knead it to a soft dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 - 20 minutes.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Take roughly 1 table spoon of the dough of each cookie and roll into smooth ball, press the ball slightly between your palms and press a piece of cranberry on top of it. 
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes on the middle rack.  The cookie should be still white in color.
  •  Cool the cookies on wire rack and store in air tight container.
Notes:
  • You can get green cardamoms from Indian stores or online .  The seeds inside the pods should be powdered and used for flavoring.  It has a strong flavor. Adjust the amount per your taste.
  •  Make sure to cream the butter and sugar well, so that there are no lump of butter left, which can deflate the cookies.  The mix should not be runny.
  • If the dough is not rolled into smooth balls, cracks will appear on the cookie while baking.
  • If the dough seems to be sticky, don't panic, cover it with a plastic wrap and plop it into the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes so that it hardens a bit and is easy to work with.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Creamy Strawberry Dressing





Cooking elaborate meals on weekdays is impossible for me after work.  I usually do quick fixes for dinner.  For that I need to plan ahead and make some dishes on the weekend or get the chopping part done so that my job gets easier on the weekdays.  Roasted vegetables with a drizzle of Olive Oil and a dash of spices & herbs are welcomed by even the youngest member of my family.  To be honest he prefers raw vegetables; adding spices sometimes make it too spicy for the lil guy.   We have 2 extreme sets of taste buds in our household.  The eldest one wants everything spicy.  So its a dilemma for me to make things with a perfect balance that appeases both palates.  I love the roasted version of salads.  So I usually roast veggies on the weekend to pack it for lunch during the weekdays.  Along with I either make the dressing ahead and kept it handy, which makes my life easier.



Store bought salad dressings are easy to use.  But have you noticed the ingredient list on the back of the bottle?  Its hard to find the conventional brand without MSG.  Otherwise you have to get the organic version of the dressing.  Here is a simple guilt free salad dressing that you can use on roasted or raw salad vegetables that tastes delicious and is healthy too.  You can very well adjust the quantity to make half the amount of the recipe.



Yields - approximately 2 cups

Ingredients:

3/4 cup - extra virgin Olive oil
1/4 cup - Apple Cider vinegar
1/2 cup - fresh/frozen strawberries
2 tbsp. - honey
1/2 tsp. - sea salt
1/2 tsp. - dried basil leaves

Directions:
  • Add all the ingredients into the jar of a blender.  Blend it for 30 seconds.
  • Transfer to a mason jar with airtight lid and store it in the refrigerator.
  • Enjoy your favorite salad with creamy strawberry dressing.
Notes
  • The left over can be stored up to one week in the refrigerator.
  • You can use regular vinegar instead of Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • You can substitute regular table salt for sea salt.
  • If you need to jazz up the dressing, add some pepper powder and red chili flakes to it.







Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Homemade Chunky Apple Sauce With Cinnamon




Trees are painting their leaves
Birds are traversing seas
Are you ready for the Autumn breeze?

Like an artist, nature started to paint the surroundings with the yellow and orange hue.  The array of trees with yellow leaves on my way to home brings out the aesthetic of autumn which rejuvenates the energy in me after a long day.  I see kids playing in their yard and making use of the last bit of day light before dusk comes with its relentless cold arms.  Scare crows and Halloween decorations are popping up in the front yards of almost all houses.  Markets are filled with all size and shapes of melons, squash and gourds.  Yes, fall is officially here.  I wish the days were longer and the sun shined brighter!!


Its the season of apple picking and if you have tons of apple picked and don't know how to use it, here is a way you can devour the apples.  I started making the apple sauce when my kids started to bring the packed apples home untouched.  Kids like variety in their food, so we cannot blame them even if its easy for us to throw an apple in their lunch box.  My kids absolutely love the chunky version of apple sauce which is seasoned with cinnamon.  The aroma that fills in the house while making the apple sauce is really pleasant and you really wish it stays like that forever instead of spending money on air refreshers.  If you had done some heavy cooking with spices, try making the cinnamon flavored apple sauce after that, which will neutralize the spiced smell that lingers in the house.



This is a simple recipe and your kids are going to thank you for making this.  If you don't have kids, make it for yourself, I am sure you are going to thank me for it :).   They tastes perfect while they are warm.



Ingredients:
6 cups - peeled and cubed apples
1/4 cup - brown sugar
1/2 tsp. - ground cinnamon

Directions:
  • Take a heavy bottom sauce pan.  Add apples and brown sugar to the pan.  Cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.  The apple starts to cook in the steam and starts to get mushy.  Mix well and set the timer for another 10 minutes and cook on low heat. 
  • Use a potato masher to carefully mash the soft apple, leaving some chunks.  Cover and cook on low heat for another 10 minutes.
  • Add Cinnamon powder and mix well and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Enjoy the warm cinnamon flavored chunky applesauce after it cools down a bit or you can transfer the sauce to a clean/sterilized jar and refrigerate for later use.
Notes:
  • Adjust the amount of sugar if you are using tart apples.
  • Warm apple sauce brings out the flavors better when compared to the cold sauce.  So even if you have refrigerated the sauce, just warm it for 10-15 seconds in the microwave before having it.
  • You can keep it refrigerated for one week.
  • I usually make a batch and pack it as a dessert in the snapware containers for kids lunch.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Baked Chipotle Flavored Quinoa Veggie Balls





Blogging - Why do someone blog?  Is it really necessary?  Is that a means to show off? These sort of inquisitiveness and disparage sometimes pricks the zeal of a blogger.  This little space is like my fourth kid I would say :) who never complains even when I ignore it.   Cooking and taking pictures of what I make is my passion and I love what I am doing.  I strongly believe that it might have benefited someone in some way.  For me it’s a way to keep my recipes organized and inspire myself to look at the collection and cook them again.  I love to share the successful recipes with you all, so that I am not just cooking it for myself but if anyone can benefit from this, I am more than happy to do so.   





Baking always stir up the fervor; let it be savory dish or sweet decadent desserts.  Quinoa is a staple in my pantry for last couple of years and I love to experiment with these tiny pearls which are packed with lots of goodness.



Health benefits of Quinoa
  • Quinoa contains antioxidant phytonutrients and flavonoids which are anti-inflammatory.
  • It has a higher fat content that provides heart healthy mono saturated fat when compared to wheat.
  • It is a best source of vegetarian protein.
  •  Quinoa is a very good source of manganese. It is also a good source of phosphorus, copper, magnesium, dietary fiber, folate, and zinc.
  • Quinoa is a gluten-free grain.



 
This recipe was developed when I was pondering to make an appetizer with some leftover cooked quinoa and some veggies those were sitting in my refrigerator for long.  I make these Quinoa veggie balls and serves as a snack.  You can serve this as an appetizer for parties.  I usually make a big batch and freeze them and warm them up in microwave or bake it in the oven to fix a quick after school snack.


Yields - roughly 25 - 30 veggie balls
Ingredients:

1 cup - cooked quinoa
1/4 cup - rolled oats
1 cup - boiled and mashed potatoes
2 cups - shredded/ grated vegetables like cabbage, carrots, spinach, chard, broccoli (refer notes)
1 - Chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce chopped
1 - 2 tsp - sauce from chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce (refer notes)
1 tsp - chili garlic sauce
1/2 cup - onions chopped
2 - garlic cloves finely chopped
1 tsp - oil
salt to taste

1/2 cup - shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/4 cup- chopped  fresh Cilantro
1 1/2 cup - salt & pepper seasoned bread crumbs
1 tbsp - oil

Directions:
  • In a non stick pan roast the chopped garlic in 1 tsp of oil.  Add chopped onions with salt and cook till golden brown.  Now add the chopped veggies, mix well.  Add the rolled oats, quinoa, chipotle pepper and the sauces.  Cover and cook for 1 minute.  Turn of the burner.
  • When the mix cools down little bit, add it to the potato mix and mix well.  If needed add more chipotle sauce per your spice level.  Adjust the salt.  Add the chopped cilantro leaves and shredded cheese and mix well.
  • Make small balls (1 1/2 tbsp of mix for each ball) and roll them in seasoned bread crumbs.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wide  frying pan.  Place the balls gently into the pan, rotate the sides of the balls to get light brown color evenly on all sides.  Its takes 5 -7 minutes.
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 ° F.
  • Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the balls on the baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes or till golden brown.
  • Set the oven to broil and bake for 5 more minutes to get the light brown color.
  • Enjoy the Quinoa Veggie balls while they are warm.  You can serve them with ketchup or with your favorite dip.
Notes:
  • You can use any vegetable of your choice to make this snack.  Make sure you grate or  finely chop the vegetable for even cooking.
  • Wash the quinoa thoroughly in cold water before cooking according to the packet direction to avoid the bitterness.
  • You can increase the amount of cheese for more cheesy snack.
  • Chipotle pepper is hot and the sauce gives the kick to the snack.  Feel free to adjust the amount per your taste.  It gives the smoky flavor which is the highlight of the snack.  You can find it any grocery store on international/Mexican aisle.  If you cannot find Chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce at your local grocery sauce, use chili flakes and Sriracha sauce to spice it up.
  • You can either microwave for 20-30 seconds to warm up the snack or if frozen, pre-heat oven to 350 F and bake for 15- 20 minutes on a parchment paper or aluminum foil lined baking sheet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Black Magic Cake With Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting - 100th post and 2nd year Blog Anniversary Celebration



Yes, it's been 2 years since I started my blog where my passion for cooking meets the culinary journey of experiencing and experimenting different cuisines in my kitchen.  I thank all my wonderful readers for the awe inspiring comments and regular visits.  Hope you will hang in there with me at times when I am inconsistent in posting recipes.  I am really surprised at myself that I have it for 2 years.





Baking something sweet was more apt to celebrate the 3 special occasions.  I am also happy to announce that this is my 100th post, a milestone to celebrate along with the blog anniversary.  Last week was Nathan's birthday too.  His only demand was to bake a chocoholic cake.  Luckily it all worked out well and I got a recipe to post for my blog anniversary and 100th post.  I had a family and friends gathering on his birthday, so I made sure to bake the cake couple of days ago.  On his birthday, I frosted the cake with chocolate butter cream frosting, which I thought was better than the regular butter cream frosting.  I am not a huge fan of butter cream frosting, but I thought to make it for him as he wanted a sweet chocolate frosting.  As usual, I didn't like my cake styling when done is hurry.  But I had to click few snaps here and there.  The best part of this cake was the dark, soft, moist chocolate cake which is not over sweet and the frosting really balanced the sweetness with the dark chocolate cake.  I barely got to save a piece to click a picture of the inside of the cake the next day in the natural light.  Even the bits and crumbs left over on the cake stand were wiped out and gobbled by my kids.  It was the best dark chocolate cake I had ever tasted.  My hubby asked me to bake this cake again; 'a tiny one for us' he said :).



Recipe adapted from here

Ingredients

2 cups - sugar
1-3/4 cups - all-purpose flour
3/4 cup - Hershey's unsweetened Cocoa powder
2 tbsp. - Hershey's Special dark cocoa
2 tsp. - baking soda
1 tsp. - baking powder
1 tsp. - salt
2 - eggs
1 cup - buttermilk or sour milk*
1 cup - strong black coffee OR 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee plus 1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup - vegetable oil
2 tsp. - vanilla extract

Butter cream Frosting
1 1/2 cup - unsalted butter at room temperature (3 sticks)
3 cups - powdered sugar
3/4 cup - cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. - salt
2 tsp. - pure vanilla extract
4 tbsp. - heavy cream/milk

Directions:

Cake
  • Pre heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 8 inch round baking pans.
  • Sift together flour, cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl.
    Add eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl of the stand mixer and beat well.  Now add buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pan.
  • Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen cake from side of pan and remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 
Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting
  • Sift together powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt and keep aside.
  • Cream the butter on stand mixture.  Add the sifted sugar and cocoa powder mixture 1/4 cup at a time and mix.  The mixture will initially crumble, but it will all come together with the consistency of the frosting.  Now add vanilla and cream and whip on high for 30 seconds and turn off the mixture.  If the frosting is not used right away, keep it refrigerated.  If refrigerated, keep it outside to thaw little bit so that frosting /piping can be done with ease.
Assembling the cake
  • Cut any bulged  (the cake will not bulge that much) top of the cake.  Apply some frosting on the cake stand and place the first cake.  Apply a dollop of frosting on the top of the cake and spread.  Place the second cake and crumb coat the cake with the frosting.  Then frost the cake as you desire.  I used the tips Wilton 104 to make ruffles and 2D to make swirls and edible white pearls to decorate the cake.
Notes:
  • To sour milk: Use 1 tbsp. white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.
  • If you are not serving the cake the same day as you are frosting, then I recommend to refrigerate the cake. 





Sunday, September 14, 2014

Spicy Stuffed Eggplants / Bharwa Baingan



It was a hot Sunny day.  The school bell rang for the break.  The first graders lined up behind the line leader.  They went outside under the shades of the trees to have their brunch/snack.  She opened her lunch box, saw the jelly sandwich, had couple of bites and put it back into the lunch box, drank her water from the pink pony water bottle that she fancied.  She was interested in chit chatting with her friends than eating her sandwich and sipping the water as a relieving thirst quencher on the scorching hot day.   One hour of recess didn't seem to be good enough for her, the giggling, whispering, kids running around were abruptly ceased when the bell rang again to get back to the class.  She made sure her navy blue pinafore was clean, grabbed the lunch bag and her fancy pony water bottle and went back to the class.  After another hour or so she heard the bell for dismissal.  She ran to her pre schooler brother's class room and he was all ready to join his sister way back home.  She grabbed his hand and told him not to run way back to home which was just the next block.  Her little brother was kind of running to get back to home with his water bottle string running across his chest and back pack on his back.  She tried her best to keep up with the pace by juggling her chart paper of drawings she made in the art class, pony water bottle and the back pack, but he made it to the home before her and pretended as the winner.  She was eager to complain to her Mom about him for not paying attention while crossing the road.   They saw their Mom waiting at the door with a smile.  As soon as she entered the home, she got the aroma of the home made Rotis and her favorite stuffed vegetable dish. She forgot about what she wanted to tell her Mom.  Mom got the bags and water bottles and asked them to change and wash hands to sit down for lunch.  As a picky eater, she never preferred non-vegetarian, so when the Mom served her favorite ghee slathered Rotis with the spicy gravy stuffed vegetable dish, she enjoyed each and every bit of it since she was hungry and was waiting for the warm homemade food that her Mom made with Love. .....Aww that was one typical day of my childhood elementary school days.


Since my childhood days in North India I never had the stuffed vegetable dish once we moved to Kerala.  My Mom's cooking style changed drastically.  She prepared more south Indian food.  Whenever I visit her now, I remind her of the stuffed Okra, stuffed bitter guard and stuffed eggplant she used to make.  But for some reason she never made it for me again.  It was last year, I got to taste the stuffed eggplant after so many years at one of the friends gathering, I was totally thrilled to experience my childhood taste and I even bragged my hubby about it and wanted to recreate it.  So I kept hunting for the recipe desperately and finally with couple of tries I made them to the fit our palate.  Couple of months ago my Mom and Dad visited us and I made this dish and surprised them.   This recipe may not be the authentic version, but this is how I make it and my hubby loves it to the core. 


Please read the recipe to the end and the notes before you start.  Please follow the steps as mentioned in the recipe to get a consistently cooked eggplant that tastes delicious and have the look.

Ingredients:
10 - small Indian eggplants(refer notes)
2 tbsp. - oil

Stuffing
1/2 tsp. - cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. - fennel seeds
1/4 tsp.  - turmeric powder
1/3 cup - caramelized onion paste
1 1/2 tsp. - ginger garlic paste
1 tsp. - kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp. - coriander powder
1/2 tsp. - garam masala
1 tbsp. - dry mango powder/Aamchur (refer notes)
1 1/2 tbsp. - oil
salt to taste
chopped Cilantro to garnish


Directions:
  • Wash and pat dry the eggplant and leave it open in the air to remove any moisture.
  • Meanwhile you can prepare the stuffing.  Add 1 1/2 tsp. oil in a cast iron pan/non stick pan.  Splutter the fennel seeds and cumin seeds on low heat.  Now add the ginger garlic paste and cook till raw  smell is gone.  Add the caramelized onion paste and mix well.  Add the rest of the ingredients from the stuffing list and cook till the raw smell is gone.  Adjust the salt.  Turn off the flame and let it cool.
  • While the stuffing is cooling, make slits in the eggplant by cutting the eggplant from the bottom into 4 quarters without cutting the stem and top part.  You should be able to gently separate the 4 pieces with the stem intact. 
  • Using a butter knife apply the stuffing in the inside of the cut eggplant.  Make sure that it should not be over stuffed, just enough to coat the insides.  There should be some left over of the masala/stuffing.  Reserve it in the pan.
  • Take another cast iron pan (refer notes) and heat 2 tbsp. of oil.   Place the eggplant in the pan without over crowding.  They should be touching the bottom of the pan.  Cover and cook on very low heat for 10 minutes.  Now open the lid and turn the eggplant on other side, and cook it covered for 10 minutes.  You have to repeat this turning sides and cooking on low heat for 10 minutes on each side.  So it takes approximately 40 minutes to get the eggplant cooked completely.  After 30 minutes of cooking, add the reserved stuffing into the pan and cook along with the eggplants.  The dish is ready when the eggplant is very soft and delicate, but still retains the shape.  Turn off the burner.
  • Garnish the stuffed eggplants with chopped Cilantro and serve with steamed rice or Indian flat breads.
Notes:
  • Pick the fresh and the smallest eggplant from the stores.  You can find them in Asian stores or Indian stores.
  • Dry Mango powder also know an AamChur is available at Indian stores.  This ingredient is not recommended to skip.  It gives the tangy flavor and dark color to the dish.
  • A wide Cast iron pan is highly recommended to cook the eggplant which helps in even cooking.  My trials with non stick pan resulted in half cooked  eggplants and burned stuffing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tempered Yogurt With Tomatoes, DrumSticks and DrumStick Leaves / Muringa Ella Morru Curry





Onam is around the corner!!!  Yes, it’s a festival of Kerala (South India) that each Malayali takes pride in and celebrate it where ever they are.  Last year we had a family Onam Sadhya (feast) hosted at our house.  We dressed up in Kerala attire and had our vegetarian feast on banana leaves (of course the fake one). If we had planned ahead, we could have got hold of some fresh banana leaves.  Oh well, it really doesn't matter, all that matters is the fun you have when you feast together as a family or with friends. 





When I spotted the fresh drumstick and drum stick leaves at the Indian store the other day, I don't know what my emotion was.  It’s hard to explain, I am pretty sure that my face was blushing due to excitement when I confirmed that it was drum stick leaves with the store manager.  The next thing in my mind was to cook up something with it.  The specialty of Malayalis is that they can make anything and everything with a vegetable.  Just name a vegetable and you can come up with tons of recipes with that.  If you are a Malayali, you know exactly what I meant.  So with this in my mind I called up my Mom to get the recipe with 'Muringa Ella' and reminded her of the small ziplock bag of leaves I got from the store.  She recommended this curry and I still had the taste of this curry lingering in my mouth from last India visit.  So all I had to do was to recreate the traditional Keralite taste which was apt for the Onam post. 



Ingredients:
1 - onion sliced
2 cloves - garlic sliced
3 - green chili splits
3 - medium tomatoes cubed
1/2 tsp. - turmeric powder
10 - pieces of drumsticks
1 tsp. - oil
salt to taste

To grind
1/2 cup - grated coconut
1/4 tsp. - turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. - cumin seeds/jeera
2 - small shallots sliced
1/3 cup - water

 For Tempering/Tadka
1/2 tsp. - black mustard seeds
2 - dry red chili
1/4 tsp. - roasted cumin/jerra powder
1/4 tsp. - roasted fenugreek/methi seeds powder
1 tbsp. - thinly sliced shallots
1 cup - tightly packed clean drumstick leaves
1 sprig - curry leaves
1 tbsp. - oil
2 cups - thick yogurt

Directions:
  • In a non stick or heavy bottom sauce pan heat 1 tsp. of oil and add the onions, green chilies, garlic and turmeric powder.  Saut√© for 1 minute.  Add the drumsticks, mix well, cover and cook for 5 - 6 minutes on low to medium heat.  Open the lid and add cubed tomatoes and mix well.  Lower the flame and cook for another 5 minutes or till the drumstick is well cooked, but still have the shape.  Turn off the burner.
  • While the drumstick is cooking you can grind all the ingredients from the list into a smooth paste.
  • Add the ground mix to the cooked drumstick mix.  Add additional 1/4 cup water if needed and let the mix come to boil and cook for another minute and turn off the flame.
  • Use the same blender jar and add the 2 cups of yogurt and blend it; pour into the cooked drumstick mix and stir well.  Make sure that the flame is turned off at this step.
  • Prepare the tadka by heating 1 tbsp. oil in a non stick pan and splutter the mustard seeds.  Then add sliced shallots.  Once the shallots starts to turn golden brown, add cumin/jeera powder, fenugreek powder, dry chili.  Lower the flame and add the curry leaves and drumstick leaves.  Mix well. Turn off the flame.
  • Pour the tadka over the spiced yogurt curry.
  • Enjoy it with steamed Kerala brown rice.
Notes:
  • You can make this curry even without drumstick and drumstick leaves, it will be the tomato yogurt curry.
  • Make sure that you turn off the stove before you add the blended yogurt, otherwise it will curdle.

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