Monday, February 29, 2016

Broccoli Potatoes And Peas In Spicy Almond Gravy




This year began with lots of nostalgic memories for me.  I was able to connect to my friends and many family members whom I knew well during my childhood.  It was after my wedding, I lost connection with everyone and they moved to different parts of the world.  It was amazing to find them and see all the changes that each one of them had gone through. Thanks to facebook for bringing back and knitting the relationship together like a golden strand that carefully connects all the precious beads of memories in your life. 


Few weeks ago I got a phone number from my parents; it was the phone number of my friend who is a little sister to me and also my Dad's cousin's daughter .   They asked me to call her and informed me that she moved to US with her family.   We were connected through Orkut and later lost touch.  It took 16 years for us to get back in touch.  The first call to her was exciting and thrilling as seeing her in person. 

We talked for more than 2 hrs over the phone.  We shared lots of college memories together.  She used to give me ride on her bike and kinetic honda (a scooter) during college days.  I was her local guardian when we went to two different professional colleges at the same place.  I used to visit her and we sometimes had the train journey together back home.  She was good at cooking and experimented Biriyani once and invited me to have lunch with her.  Since we were also neighbors back home, I used to hang out with her in the weekends.  She was probably few among the ones I used to talk as I was very picky and choosy making friends.  I am so happy to be connected back to my little sister and friend.


It’s the Great Lent season, so all my focus is on vegetarian dish that is appealing to the eyes of my kids.  My kids are not too bad in eating veggies.  My youngest one is a veggie lover; he will eat veggies in their raw form or steamed form.  Hope he continues the good habit as he grows up.  The change in eating habits is noticed during the Teenage years.  I hear most of the parents say that kids prefer meat over vegetables during this period.  Broccoli is well received in my family by everyone.  So I decided to give a nice North Indian touch to broccoli this time.  This is my second experiment and I did put an effort to click some pictures to post the recipe.  Everyone loved the dish and I served it with Chapathi.  You can substitute cauliflower for broccoli if you like.  The lightly spicy and tangy thick gravy holds the north Indian flavors well and complements the cruciferous vegetable like broccoli or cauliflower.


 Ingredients:
3 cups - Broccoli florets
2 cup - potatoes cubed
2 - tomatoes pureed
1 cup - green peas
25 - almonds
2 - green chili splits
1 tsp - Kashmiri chili powder
2 tsp - coriander powder
1/2 tsp - turmeric powder
1/2 tsp - dry mango powder
1 - red onion finely chopped
1 tbsp - ginger garlic paste
1 1/2 cup - water
1/4 cup - cream/milk

4 tbsp. - oil

Whole spices
1 - bay leaf
1/2 - star anise
1 - small piece of cinnamon
4 - cloves
1/4 tsp - cumin seeds
1/4 tsp - fennel seeds


Garnish
1 tbsp - chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp - dry fenugreek leaves/Methi leaves



Directions:
  • Blanch the almonds by microwaving the almonds with 1/2 cup of water for 1 minute.  Let the water cool and remove the skin by just slipping the almond between your fingers.  Make a paste out of the blanched almonds by grinding with 1/4 cup of water.
  • Take a non-stick pan and fry the potatoes with 1 tbsp of oil and a pinch of turmeric powder and salt to taste.  Cook them till they are well done and attains a golden yellow color; remove from pan.  Like wise fry broccoli for 2 minutes with a closed lid and remove.  Now cook the green peas for a minute and remove from the pan.
  • In the same pan, add 1 tbsp of oil and splutter fennel and cumin seeds.  Lower the flame and add the whole spices and roast for 1 minute.  Add the chopped onions, ginger garlic paste and salt and cook till well sauteed.  Add all the powders and cook for another 2 minutes.  Now add the tomato puree and cook till the raw taste goes away.  Its time to add the almond paste and water.  Adjust the salt and cover with a lid and let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Add half of the vegetables into the gravy and mix well.  Cover and cook for 1 minute.  Turn off the flame and add cream/milk, chopped cilantro and mix well.  Top the curry with rest of the vegetables .  Rub some dry methi leaves between your palms and add it to the curry.  Enjoy it with any Indian flat breads.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Avocado Dark Chocolate Pistachio Egg-less Brownies




Our eldest son is a chocoholic; he can eat Nutella sandwich everyday starting from breakfast.  I cannot imagine starting a day with that much of sugar.  My oats will have only a dash of brown sugar or a drizzle of honey.  He has got the sweet tooth in my family.  Since the boys are very active, I don't mind giving them some sweets as they burn it fast opposed to me.  Since it’s the great lent period my son asked if I could make some chocolaty dessert without the use of eggs.  I tried my hands on this egg-less Brownies. 

 I am an ardent fan of avocados and I can have them raw or in my salads.  So Avocados are always found in my refrigerator.  Avocado was the best substitute I could come up with for eggs.  After checking few online vegan brownie recipes, I thought to make it with what I have in my pantry rather than buying all the things I won't use otherwise.  My first attempt was with all purpose flour and the texture was too fudgy.  In my second trial, I used wheat flour and it gave me the texture I was looking for.


The soft and moist texture of the brownies with the bite into dark chocolate bits and nutty pistachios is a delectable guilt free dessert to indulge into when you are craving for chocolate dessert.  The dark chocolate flavor over powers the avocado in this brownie.  So my son didn't complain about the taste at all.  You can substitute water with some strong espresso if you are not too fond of avocado flavor.  Hope you will give this recipe a try.





We got a good share of snow in mid February.  I have no complains this year as the winter was very mild when compared to last year.   I am eagerly waiting for some sunshine so that we can get out and have some outdoor activities.  Kids are so ready to jump out without their jackets and boots.  Hope the warmth and sunshine is waiting at the door steps to invade the cloudy and cold days. 


Ingredients:
Dry Ingredients
3/4 cup - cocoa powder
1/2 cup - wheat flour
1/4 tsp - baking soda
1 1/2 cup - brown sugar
1/4 tsp - salt

Wet Ingredients
4 tbsp - melted butter
2 tsp - vanilla extract
2 tbsp - water
3 tbsp - plain yogurt/sour cream
1 - ripe avocado mashed
1/3 cup - chopped dark semisweet chocolate
3 tbsp - chopped pistachios

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to oven to 350°F.  Line a 8 x 8 square baking pan with aluminum foil with some overhang and grease it.
  • Sift the dry ingredient together and keep it aside.
  • Mix all the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon to get a smooth mix.  Now add the dry ingredients and mix till everything is incorporated well.  Fold in the chopped chocolate pieces and 1 tbsp of chopped pistachios into the batter and fold them well.  Pour and spread the batter into the prepared pan evenly.  Sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top of the batter and press gently using the back of a spoon.
  • Bake the brownies for 30-35 minutes in the middle rack or till a wooden skewer comes out clean when tested in the center.
  • Allow the brownie to cool completely on a wire rack.  Cut them into desired shapes and enjoy the fudgy yummy brownies with a glass of milk.
Notes:
  • The left over can be kept outside for 2 days and if storing for more than 2 days, keep them refrigerated in an air tight container.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake With Chocolate Base


My daughter's birthday was last month and I made a strawberry swirl cheese cake for our church per her request.  We had her friends come over and had a girls’ birthday lunch party.  It was really fun to watch them play together.  They took turns on her new pedicure spa, board games and her new bow and arrow game.  Since it was just girls’ party my boys were busy playing their own games.  I served them a spread of kid friendly meal which was suggested by my daughter and they watched a movie together at home and had some hot cocoa with a side of homemade popcorn.  This was the first time I had the kids only party.  I had fun making goodie bags with my daughter and it seemed like they all loved it.  After the party my little one asked if he could have a boys’ only party for his friends on his birthday..lol!!  I guess I have to do it for him now.

I made this cake just for my family.  So its a small cake just enough for us.

You can make this cheesecake for Valentines Day too!!  Here are other Cheesecake recipes you can find on my blog:

Easy Egg-less No Bake Mango Cheesecake
Cheesecake With Berry Topping
Yields - 7'' round cake/6'' cake plus 5 cup cakes
Ingredients:
2 (8 oz) - cream cheese blocks at room temperature
1/2 cup - granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. - all purpose flour
2 - eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup - sour cream
1/2 tsp. - vanilla extract
1 tsp. - lemon zest

Cheesecake base
1 1/2 cup - chocolate graham crackers crumbs/chocolate Belvita
1/4 cup - melted butter

For the swirls
4 - medium size strawberries
1 tsp - sugar
1 tsp - water


Directions:


  • Take a 7 inch spring form pan, line it with parchment paper and grease the sides using butter.  
  • In a separate bowl, combine graham crackers crumbs and melted butter, so that the crumbs are all coated with melted butter and wet.  Press the wet crumbs with your hands on to the bottom and to the sides of the spring form pan leaving one inch space from the top of the pan.  Cover it with a plastic wrap and refrigerate till you are ready with the filling.
  • Prepare the filling in the meantime by mixing the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer or regular hand mixer.  Mix it till it becomes were smooth.  Add 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp. of all purpose flour to the cream cheese and mix well for 30 seconds on low speed.
  • Now add 1/4 cup of sour cream and mix till combined.  Scrape the sides in between for uniform mixing.
  • Add one egg at a time and mix well on low speed.  The mix will be little loose at this point.
  • Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix for 20 seconds.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Take the spring form pan out of the refrigerator and pour the cream cheese mix into the spring form pan that has the graham cracker base.  Tap the pan few times to remove any air bubbles.
  • Blend the topping ingredients in a blender or food processor till you get a smooth sauce like consistency. Drop small dots of the sauce in 2 concentric circles with one inch apart on top of the batter.  Use a skewer to run through the dots to form marbled effect or swirls. 
  • Set the timer for 15 minutes and place the pan in the middle rack.  Cook for 15 minutes.
  • Now lower the temperature to 250°F and set the timer for 30 minutes and cook till its done.
  • Take the pan out of the oven, it may look little bulged at the top and the center will be wobbly.  Turn off the oven and return the cheesecake back into the middle rack and let it sit inside the oven and cool for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes take the pan out and let the cheesecake cool completely inside the pan.
  • Once the sauce is cooled, pour it over the cheesecake and spread on the top by leaving the edges.  Cover the spring form pan with a plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
  • The chilled cheesecake can be easily released from the spring form pan and transferred to a cake stand.  Slice them and enjoy!

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