Sunday, November 8, 2020

Instant Jilebi



North Indian style hot crispy Jilebis are my favorite.  Its Diwali time and what else is better than Jilebis!  The other day when my husband told me that he had a craving for Jilebis, I wanted to make it for him.  I checked with my Mom as she used to make it a lot when we were in North India.  But she was not sure about the measurements.  So I checked online few recipes and thought to try my own with what I had in hand.

Since I had only the gel color, I was not sure how would it end up if I add it into the batter and fry.  So I tried it in the sugar syrup and it worked well.  The first batch I made didn't even make to the photo session.  They were gone in minutes.  Long story short, I made Jilebis 3 times already in last few days.



Its actually very simple to make.  Just we have to remember 3 key points, like the batter consistency, temperature of the oil and sugar syrup consistency.  If you get these 3 somewhat right, you will get a decent batch of Jilebis.  Please read the directions and notes carefully before you start.  Don't be disappointed if the first few Jilebis turns out to be weird shaped.  You can still get it right.  Justr be patient.

Disclaimer: These Jilebis are addictive.  They are not super sweet as compared to the store bought ones.  They are crispy and not that heavy.

I have put a detailed recipe so that it will help you to avoid the mistakes I made.  Hope you will try this recipe and let me know how it turned out for you. 


Items needs:

Flat frying pan

Couple of wooden skewers

Slotted spoon

Squeeze bottle/clean ketchup bottle

Bowl to mix

Fork to beat the batter

Flat pyrex container lined with parchment paper to keep the hot jilebis

Ingredients:

Batter

1 cup - all purpose flour

4 tbsp - corn flour/corn starch

1/4 tsp - baking soda

pinch of salt

4 tbsp - plain yogurt

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp - water

Sugar Syrup

1.5 cups - sugar

3/4 cup - water

2 tsp - lemon juice

4 - green cardamom pods

6-8 drops - orange/yellow color (refer notes)

Refined Oil to fry 

Directions:

  • Add all purpose flour, salt, baking soda & corn flour in a mixing bowl and mix well with a fork.
  • Add yogurt and mix well.  Slowly add 1/2 cup of water in batches and mix well with the fork.  Mix well till there are no lumps.  If the batter forms a ribbon consistency, you are good.  If not, add the additional tablespoon of water and mix well.  The batter should not be too thin and too thick.  Cover it and let it sit till you make the sugar syrup.
  • Take a small saucepan that has some height.  Add the sugar, water, lemon juice, color and cardamom pods to it.  Let it boil and all the sugar dissolve.  Boil it for another 5-6 minutes till the syrup is lightly sticky.  No need to boil till 1 string consistency.
  • Pour the batter into the squeeze bottle with the help of a cup with spout.  Close the lid and test the flow of the batter into the bowl with batter.
  • Heat the frying pan with 1 inch of oil on medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, lower the flame to somewhere between low and medium.
  • Squeeze the bottle into the hot oil to form Jilebis starting from the center going in concentric circles.  I went with 3 circles and the ends were brought back into the center again.
  • Once the lower side starts to crisp, flip them carefully with a wooden skewer.  Cook both side till light golden yellow.
  • Take the hot jilebi using the skewer and drop in the sugar syrup.  Use another skewer and a slotted spoon to keep it dunked in for 10 seconds on each side.  Remove them using the slotted spoon into the prepared pyrex pan.
  • Repeat the process of frying the jilebi and dunking is syrup till all the batter is used.  You can garnish them with sliced pistachios.
  • Enjoy the hot jilebis.  Left over can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for a day or 2.
Notes:
  • Keep everything ready by your side before you start frying the jilebis.
  • I used gel colors for cake in the syrup.  I mixed 4 drops of red and 4 drops of yellow to get the orange color.  If using powdered food color, you can add 1/4 tsp of the color to sugar syrup.
  • Don't use a deep pan with lot of oil for frying.  It will mess up the shape of the jilebi.
  • I found the squeeze bottle easier to handle and mess free than a piping bag.
  • If the oil is too hot, the batter will puff up into bubbles and mess up the shape of jilebi.  If the oil is not hot enough, the jilebi will be too flat and it will not absorb any syrup.  
  • The first jilebi can be the trial to check the batter and temperature of the oil.  If the batter is too loose, add 1 - 2 tsp of all purpose flour and mix it well.  The batter should not break when piping into the oil.
  • Keep the sugar syrup hot all the time, so that hot jilebis when dropped into the syrup absorbs the syrup faster and keeps it still crispy.
  • I kept frying 3 jilebis at a time and dropped them right away into the syrup and drained.  Start with 1 jilebi at a time and once you get the hang of it, you can fry more and dunk it into sugar syrup.  If you get a helping hand, its much easier.  One person can fry the Jilebis and drop into the syrup.  The other person can then dunk them in the syrup well and remove it to the pan.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Concord Grape Jam




 

We missed lot of get togethers this year due to Corona.  We missed our family vacation too.  Being home bound needed some sanity and fresh air for everyone.  So a bunch of our friends decided to drive an hour away and visit a vineyard to pick some fresh concord grapes.



The scenic view of acres of vineyards and other fruit orchards were appeasing to our eyes.  The dark bluish purple plump concord grapes studded on every 5 to 10 inches on the vine were so tempting.  



The friendly owners of the vineyard provided clippers and carts to pick the grapes.  Kids went with their cart to one side and adults went into another direction.  Within 30 minutes everyone came back with carts full of grapes.  We were not sure what to do with all these grapes.  We ended up buying 69 lbs of grapes.



On the way back, we enjoyed the aroma of the ripe concord grapes in the car.  There was no space for us to keep all the grapes in the refrigerator.  So we had to keep them in our garage.  Our garage had the sweet aroma of ripe concord grapes for more than a week.  These concord grapes were the sweetest concord grapes I ever had.  Since they were ripened on the grape vine and freshly picked, they were really flavorful and sweet.  These were the sweetest and delicious concord grapes I ever had.   The trip really rejuvenated our spirits.



We enjoyed these sweet grapes in the fresh form.  Since there were a lot and all were ripe, I made jam, grape syrup and wine out of them.  Rest of them were washed and kept in the freezer to make jam once this batch finishes.  The jam came out really delicious and flavorful.  Hope you can give this recipe a try, if you get some concord grapes.

Yields - 1 pint jar

Ingredients

6 cups - Fresh Concord Grapes

3/4 cup - sugar

1 tbsp - lemon juice

1 cup - water

Directions:

  • Wash concord grapes thoroughly under running water and separate them from the stem.
  • Squish few of them and collect the skin and the white part of the grapes without seeds.  Save up to 1/2 cup.
  • Blend rest of the grapes on low speed in a blender.  Strain the pulp with 1 cup of water so that all the juice is strained well. 
  • Transfer the juice, the skin and the white pulp that was collected into a sauce pan.
  • Add sugar and lemon juice to it and let it come to a boil.
  • Lower the flame and let it cook for 20 minutes or till it thickens slightly.
  • You can test the consistency by pouring a spoon full of the jam on a cold plate.  Let it cool for a minute.  Run your finger through the middle of the jam on the plate.  The jam should stay separated.
  • Turn the flame off and transfer the hot jam into a sterilized bottle.  
  • Once the jam cools off completely, you can store it in the refrigerator.
  • Enjoy them with bread, waffles, pancakes, yogurt etc.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Moong Daal Laddoo



North Indian sweets are my favorite among Indian sweets.  My childhood memories always linger around the carnivals and festivals we attended in North India.  The stores on the carnival ground stacked up with freshly made Jilebis, Laddoos, Pedas, Gulab Jamuns and all those goodies was the main reason why we kids used to go.  The aroma of freshly made street food and sweets still makes my mind wander around like a kid on the memory lane.



These Moong Daal laddoos are so easy to make and tastes so delicious.  Try this recipe and let me know how it turns out for you.

Yields - 20 small laddoos

Ingredients:

1.5 cups - Moong Daal (yellow split moong daal)

1/3 cup - cashew nuts

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp - powdered sugar

1/2 tsp - cardamom powder

6 tbsp - ghee

Directions:

  • Dry roast the Moong Daal in a non stick pan till light golden brown and let it cool.
  • Dry roast the cashew pieces for 2-3 minutes on low flame and let it cool.
  • Grind the Moong daal into a fine powder in a coffee grinder or the dry jar of your blender.
  • Grind the roasted cashew pieces into a coarse powder with few bite size pieces.
  • Melt the ghee in the same pan; Lower the flame; add the moog daal powder to it and combine well.
  • Add the coarse cashew powder, followed by the powdered sugar and cardamom powder.  Mix it well and turn the flame off.
  • Let the mix cool for 5-10 minutes till it is manageable to handle.  Roll them into equal size small or medium balls.  You can use a table spoon  full of the mix to get the same size of laddoo.
  • They can be stored in a container with tight lid at room temperature.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

No Bake Nutella Cheese Cake




 

Last week we had 2 birthday's in my family and one was our first born's.  He is a chocolate lover, so I never have to think much what to bake for him.  He can literally eat Nutella sandwich everyday.  I guess all kids love that chocolate hazelnut goodness.  I accidentally picked up a family pack of oreos with double cream on my last visit to the grocery store and it was too sweet for our kids' palate.  So I was thinking a way to use them.  A cheesecake with Oreo crust and Nutella filling was the perfect fit for the occasion.



We celebrated the birthdays with a shrimp biriyani for lunch and everyone was waiting for the cake after that.  I had to make them wait till evening as I had to click some shots at the golden hour of the day.    My kids now know that they have to wait to taste till mom takes the pictures...lol.





At dinner time, my daughter decided to play this game of picking each person and all have to point out their positives and negatives.  It was really good to hear from your kids your negatives and positives.  We thoroughly enjoyed each moment going around the table and talking about each one.  It was good to hear your negatives from your family as they are the ones close to you and know you well.  There were definitely surprising positives which made me emotional too.  




This unprecedented time has definitely changed everyone's life in a positive way to some extend.   I am not ignoring the negative impacts it had made on our lives, but I am trying to focus on the bright side here. I get more time to spend with my family and chase my passion for cooking and photography.  What is that have changed positively for you?  

Yields - 8'' or 9'' cheesecake

Ingredients

Crust

20 - oreo cookies

5 tbsp - melted butter

Layer 1 filling

3/4 cup - unsweetened cold whipping/heavy cream 

2 tbsp - powdered sugar

1 (8 oz) - cream cheese at room temperature

6 tbsp - powdered sugar

5 tbsp - Nutella

1 tbsp - unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tbsp - unflavored gelatin powder

2 tbsp - water

Layer 2 filling

3/4 cup - unsweetened cold whipping/heavy cream

2 tbsp - powdered sugar

1 (8oz) - cream cheese at room temperature

6 tbsp - powdered sugar

1 tbsp - unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tbsp - Nutella

1/2 tbsp - unflavored gelatin powder

2 tbsp - water

Ganache Layer
1/2 cup - semi sweet/milk chocolate pieces
1/4 cup - unsweetened whipping/heavy cream
Ferrero Rocher candy for decoration
Roasted hazelnut/peanut pieces for garnish

Directions:

To make the crust
  • Line a 8'' or 9'' spring form pan with a parchment paper just at the bottom.  This is an optional step.  This helps you to transfer the cake to a cake stand easily.
  • Remove the cream from the oreo cookies and pulse them in the dry jar of a blender/coffee grinder/food processor to a fine powder.  Add melted butter into the powdered oreos and mix well.
  • Press this mixture into the bottom of the springform pan using the bottom of a measuring cup to form the crust.  Cover with a plastic wrap and keep it refrigerated.
Filling for first layer
  • Take 2 tbsp of water in a small bowl.  Add 1/2 tbsp of unflavored gelatin to it.  Let it sit for few minutes to bloom.  The gelatin should look wet and soaked up.
  • In a mixing bowl of stand mixer, whip the whipping/heavy cream with 2 tbsp of powdered sugar till soft peaks using the whipping attachment.  Alternatively you can use an electric hand mixer to whip the cream.  Transfer the whipped cream from the mixing bowl into a separate bowl and keep the whipped cream aside.
  • Add the softened cream cheese, 6 tbsp powdered sugar, 1 tbsp cocoa powder into a mixing bowl and mix well using the paddle attachment of the stand mixture till everything is folded well.  Now add 5 tbsps of Nutella to this and mix till the filling is smooth.
  • Boil some water in microwave in a bowl.  Place the bowl with bloomed gelatin over the hot water and mix well using a spoon.  The gelatin should melt completely.
  • Add this melted gelatin to the cream cheese Nutella filling and fold in well using a rubber spatula.
  • Fold in the whipped cream into the Nutella filling gently till everything is combined well.  Make sure not to deflate the whipped cream.
  • Pour this mix on top of the oreo crust layer into the spring form pan and level it using the rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge till the next layer is prepared.
Filling for second Layer
  • Repeat all the above steps mentioned in the preparation of layer 1 with the ingredients provided in the Layer 2 filling list.  Spread layer 2 filling on top of the first layer and smooth the top using a spatula.  This layer has less Nutella and the color of this layer should look lighter than the first layer.
  • Refrigerate the cake covered for overnight.
Top layer of Ganache
  • Carefully release the cake from spring form pan.  Transfer the cake to a cake stand using a wide spatula.  If you have lined a parchment paper at the bottom, it will help to transfer well.  This step is optional.
  • Boil some water in microwave in a bowl.  Take 1/4 cup of whipping cream and 1/2 cup of chocolate pieces in a bowl and place it over the hot water.  Mix the chocolate & whipping cream using a spoon till all the chocolate melts completely. Let it cool slightly.
  • Pour this melted chocolate over the second layer.  Use a frosting spatula to level it so that some oozes out through the sides to give that dripping effect.  Now decorate with Ferrero Rocher candy and Hazelnut/peanut pieces as you wish.
Notes:
  • The smaller the diameter of the spring form pan, better will be the visibility of the layers of the cake.  
  • Adjust the amount of Nutella per your taste.  The amount I used in each layer was good enough per my family's taste.
  • The left over cake cake can be refrigerated up to a week or can be stored in the freezer in a sealed container.  If frozen, make sure to thaw it in the fridge for at least couple of hours before serving.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Apple Bran Muffins


Kids started their school online and everyone is busy here.  Monday thru Friday, the common scene in our house is like 'Everyone in front of a laptop/Chromebook'.  I like the fact that they now have a schedule just like a school day and have to stay connected online throughout the entire class except for recess and breaks.  I feel like my kids are home schooling now.


Everyone starts at different time and they have recess at different time.  Hence I have to plan ahead for their meals.  During summer vacation, they would make something simple for their lunch, if both of us were busy with work.  But now they don't have time for a quick meal preparation.  Make ahead breakfasts like orange blueberry muffins, Mediterranean Morning Glory Muffinswaffles etc are so handy in the morning for a quick breakfast.



Bran Apple muffins is one among them and I had been making this for years now.  I have tried several recipes and they are either over sweet or too greasy or dry like cardboard for our liking.  After many trails, I have settled on this recipe and have been using it for years now.  If you are looking for a breakfast muffin that is not over sweet and non greasy but moist enough and filling, this recipe is for you.  If you try this recipe, please do tag me on instagram at FlavzCorner.

Yields - 12 medium size muffins

US measurement standards are used in my recipes

Ingredients

1/2 cup - whole wheat flour

1/2 cup - all purpose flour

1.5 tsp - baking powder

1/2 tsp - baking soda

1/4 tsp - salt

1/2 tsp - cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp - nutmeg powder

1.5 cup - bran cereal flakes

1/2 cup - brown sugar

Wet Ingredients

1 - egg

1/2 cup - plain yogurt

1/2 cup - water

4 tbsp - oil

Additional ingredients

1 cup - peeled & chopped Granny Smith/ any apples

1/4 cup - pecans chopped

1/4 cup - raisins

Few pecans for toppings

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat egg, yogurt, water and oil using a fork/whisk.
  • Add the bran cereal to the wet ingredients.  Mix well and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • In the meantime, sift wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon & nutmeg powders together into a separate bowl.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients gently using a rubber spatula till no lumps of dry flour is found.  The batter will be thick.  Don't over mix the batter.
  • Add the chopped apples, raisins and pecans to the batter.
  • Line a muffin tin with cupcake/muffin liners.
  • Scoop the batter using an ice cream/cookie dough scoop and fill the muffin tin up to 3/4th the volume.  Place a pecan on top of each muffin batter.
  • Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes or till the center of one of the muffins is cooked well when tested with a skewer/tooth pick.
  • Let the muffins cool completely.  Enjoy them.
Notes:
  • I prefer granny smith apple in this recipe because it bakes well and does not make the muffins over sweet.
  • Left overs can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 2-3 days.  Before using, remove the muffin liner and microwave them for 10/15 seconds.
  • You can adjust the sugar per your taste.  These muffins are not over sweet.
  • You can substitute pecan with walnuts.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Zucchini Daal Fry



This year I experimented with growing Zucchini and yellow squash in containers.  I planted the black hybrid beauty variety of zucchini in a 10 gallon container.  Many of you might have seen my video on instagram where I was harvesting from that plant.  The black beauty variety is a good variety and produces well.  The container gardening was a success.   But we got a week of low temperatures at night in Mid August and it killed my plant.  Luckily I had a back up zucchini on my vegetable bed on the ground and it survived the cold.  The nights are getting cooler now and slowly these plants are going to stop producing.  I liked container gardening because it gave me more room to plant more vegetables and it was easy to move them around per their growth.



I have been using the tender zucchinis from my garden in all possible ways I could.   I use them in Keralite dishes too.   Recently I have been adding them to daal fry and they came out delicious.  Hence sharing this recipe with you.  It pairs really well with plain basmati rice and roti.  You can adjust the amount of water per your desired consistency.  I like thick daal fry, so I have used only 2-3 cups of water all together.  Give this simple recipe a try and see if you like it.



Serves - 8

Ingredients

1/2 cup - Toor daal

1/2 cup - Masoor daal

2 cups - water

1/4 tsp - turmeric powder

salt to taste

Other Ingredients

1 cup - fresh zucchini cubed

1 cup - onion chopped

1 tsp - garlic chopped

1/2 tsp - ginger chopped

3 - green chili splits

1/2 cup - chopped ripe tomatoes (a small tomato)

1/2 tsp - chili powder

1 tsp - coriander powder

1/2 tsp - turmeric powder

1/2 tsp - cumin seeds

1/2 tsp - Kasoori Methi (dry fenugreek leaves) 

2 tbsp - oil

Tadka

1/2 tsp - garlic chopped

1/2 tsp - black mustard seeds

1/4 tsp - asafoetida powder

2 - dry red chili broken into pieces

1/4 cup - chopped Cilantro

2 tbsp - oil/ghee

Directions:

  • Wash the Toor and Masoor daals few times till the water is clear.
  • Add the daal, 2 cups of water, salt and turmeric powder into a pressure cooker and cook till 2 whistle blows.  Let the pressure subside completely.  Alternatively you can cook the daal in a saucepan for 20-30 minutes till the daal is soft.  
  • In a separate pan, splutter cumin seeds in 2 tbsp of oil.  Add the chopped garlic & ginger and cook till golden yellow color.  Add the chopped onions, turmeric powder, salt and green chili to it and cook on low to medium heat till its sauteed well.
  • Lower the flame; add chili powder & coriander powder and cook for a minute.
  • Add the cubed zucchini pieces and saute for a minute.  Cover the lid and cook for couple of minutes till zucchini is cooked and slightly soft.
  • Once the zucchini is cooked, add the chopped tomatoes and cook till its soft.
  • Add the cooked daal to this.  Mix well and add 1/2 - 1 cup of water as per your desired consistency.  Let the daal zucchini mix boil for good 2 minutes.  Adjust the salt.   Rub the kasoori methi between your palms and add it to the daal.  Cook it for 30 seconds and turn off the flame.
  • In a small pan prepare the tadka by spluttering mustard seeds in 2 tbsp oil/ghee.  Add the chopped garlic and cook till its golden brown.  Lower the flame; add dry chili pieces and asafoetida powder and cook for 30 seconds.  Turn off the flame and pour the tadka over the Zucchini daal   Garnish with fresh chopped Cilantro.
  • Serve the Zucchini Daal fry with plain white Basmati rice or Roti/Chapathi.

Notes

  • You can use either Masoor daal or Toor daal per the availability instead of taking half and half proportions.
  • You can get Asafoetida powder at Indian stores.
  • Don't miss to add the tadka (fried garnish) and Kasoori Methi (dry fenugreek leaves) to the daal fry.  This adds the extra flavor to the dish.


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Mango Salsa

Mangoes are in season and we are enjoying them well till it lasts.  We Indian use green to ripe mangoes in different curries.  In fact I have mentioned my nostalgic memories about mangoes in my last post.  This is yet another simple mango recipe, but not Indian.  I make this salsa every year during summer when we throw BBQ parties for our friends.  The jalapenos, tomatoes and the cilantro from my garden are put into good use during summer.


This is a simple yet no recipe kind of recipe.  You just eye ball items and add everything as per you wish to make this salsa.  If you prefer more of any ingredient, you add more of it.  Just for the sake of recording purpose, I am making a post.  Feel free to adjust per your taste.

Serves - 4 to 5 people

Ingredients:

1 cup - peeled and chopped ripe mango

2 cups - chopped tomatoes

1 cup - chopped red onions

1 - medium size jalapeno chopped

1/2 cup - chopped red pepper

1/4 cup - freshly chopped Cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

salt to taste


Directions:

  • Mix all this ingredient except salt.
  • Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  • Add salt just before serving and mix well.  Serve with your favorite variety of corn chips.




Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Dry Mango Dates Pickle




I think I have mentioned in one of my old posts that my grandparents used to have couple of mango trees in the front yard.  One used to bare lot of sweet mangoes.  But the other mango tree was prone to diseases and yielded only few sour mangoes.  They were mostly used as green mangoes.  Some of the green mangoes from that tree was used to make the salted dry mango.  They were cut into small pieces with the skin;salted with rock salt and sun dried for weeks to get the dry mango called 'Unnakka Manga'.  These dry mango pieces are the tangy nuggets  that comes handy during off season.  It goes into many curries when you need to give some mango tang to the dish.  A small bit goes a long way.



I remember my grandma used to store it in big earthen pots called 'Bharani'.  She used to open the lid with great care to avoid any mold or fungus growth.  Drying mangoes on the special mat made out of Pandanus leaves was a regular scene in most of the house during those days.  Enjoying the bountiful sweet mangoes and playing on  the swing tied to the mango tree are some sweet nostalgic memories I still cherish.




I always make sure to get a small bag of dry mangoes from India during my visits.  I keep them safe in cold dry place and use them like a rare luxury item.   They store well in the sealed containers. 




The most favorite thing I make out of it is this Dry Mango Dates Pickle.  The hot, sweet and tangy Dry Mango Dates Pickle pairs well with Biriyani.  There are some recipes, you just eye ball and don't bother to write down the measurements.  Its back in your head kind of thing.  I thought it was about time to write it down and share it on the blog so that it will be useful for everyone.   And when its on the blog, its easy to share.  Hope you can give this recipe a try.  Please do tag me on instagram or facebook if you are making it.  I would love to hear from you.


Yields - 16 oz bottle of pickle

Ingredients:
1.5 cups - dry mango pieces
4 cups - water
1 cup - pitted dates cut into long slices (4 pieces)
20 cloves - garlic cut into thin slices
1.5 inch - ginger chopped/cut into thin slices

Pickle mix
1.5 tsp - hot chili powder (heaped tsp)
3 tsp - kashmiri chili powder (heaped tsp)
1/4 tsp - fenugreek powder
1/4 tsp - asafoetida powder
1/2 tsp - turmeric powder
2 -3 - dry red chili
1/2 tsp - black mustard seeds

2 tbsp - vinegar
1 tbsp - brown sugar/grated jaggery
4 tbsp - oil/sesame oil
2-3 sprigs - fresh curry leaves
salt to taste

Directions:
  • Wash the dry mango to remove any impurities.
  • Soak it in 4 cups of water for at least 2-4 hrs or overnight.
  • Drain the soaked mango and reserve 1.5 - 2 cups of water.
  • Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a kadai/pan and add the mustard seeds to it.  Wait till the mustard seeds splutters.
  • Add garlic and cook for a minute.  Add the ginger pieces and dry chili.  Saute till the garlic and ginger turns light golden yellow color.
  • Add the sliced dates pieces and saute for a minute.
  • Its time to add the powders now.  Add turmeric, chili powders, fenugreek powder and asafoetida powder.  Make sure the flame is on low.  Cook till the raw smell goes away.
  • Add the drained mango pieces and mix well.  Add salt to taste.
  • Add 1.5 cups of water to it.  Give it a good mix; cover with a lid and cook on low to medium heat for 10 minutes till the dry mango gets softened.
  • Open the lid and check the consistency of the pickle.  If needed, you can add more of the mango water to it.  Make sure to cook it well.
  • Add 2 tbsp of vinegar, 1 tbsp of brown sugar/jaggery and curry leaves to the pickle.  Mix well and let it cook for another minute.  Turn off the flame and let it cool completely.
  • Transfer the pickle to a clean dry jar with a tight lid.
  • Store the pickle in the refrigerator.  You can enjoy it with Biriyani, rice or even Indian flat breads.

Notes:
  • Make sure to wash the dry mangoes well to remove excess salt and any impurities.
  • Make sure to check the salt after adding the mango and mango water.  Sometimes the dried mangoes are too salty that you don't need to add extra salt in the pickle.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Greek Chicken Souvlaki With Tzatziki Sauce And Rice Pilaf



Summer is short where we live, so we made best out of it every year.  June, July months are the months of food festivals and carnivals in our area.  Many churches and cities throw their food festival around this time and we attend them with a bunch of our friends every year.  Its a good time to enjoy some good food with friends along with the outdoor activities most of the festivals provide.



There is a Greek Orthodox church close to our house and their food festival is around this time of the year.  We enjoy their Chicken Souvlaki and their yellow pilaf very much.  The good food, music and the traditional dance performed by their youngsters are the highlights of their food festival.  We miss all the food festivals this year.  So on July 4th weekend, I decided to make the Souvlaki and rice and surprise the kids.  It was a hit and kids loved it and they agreed that it was juicy, tender and packed with flavors just like how we get it at the festival.  



Souvlaki means meat on skewers.  Its similar to the kabobs.  The flavors are just to the point that you would like.  The overnight marination makes the chicken breast juicy and tender.  The recipe is simple and has only few ingredients.  The buttery rice pilaf is the perfect combo for the Chicken Souvlaki.   The Tzatziki sauce is a perfect dip for fresh cut vegetables.  We enjoyed it with some cucumbers.  Hope you will give these recipes a try.

Chicken Souvlaki
yields - 12 Souvlaki

Ingredients:
4 - chicken breast
2 big gloves - garlic minced/grated
1 tsp - salt
1 tsp - dry oregano
1.5 tsp - freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp - olive oil
Juice of 1 medium size lemon

Directions:
  • Trim the fat from the chicken breast; wash & pat dry with paper towel.
  • Cut the chicken breast into 1 inch cubes.
  • Add the chicken pieces, grated garlic, salt, ground pepper, oregano, olive oil and lemon juice into a stainless steel/glass bowl and mix well till everything is coated well on the chicken pieces.
  • Cover the bowl and let it sit for at least 4 hrs or overnight.
  • If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 1 hr.
  • Thread the chicken pieces on the prepared skewers.
  • Set the indoor/outdoor grill on medium heat and cook the chicken on each side (4 sides) for 5 minutes.  It will take up to 20 minutes or till the outside is lightly browned and inside is no longer pink.
  • If preparing the skewers on a stove top, use the grilled cast iron pan for better results. Use a low to medium heat for cast iron pan. Rotate the skewers every 5 minutes till all the sides are cooked and lightly browned and the grill marks appear.
Rice Pilaf
Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients:
2 cups - long grain rice (I used Uncle Ben's long grain rice)
4 cups - chicken broth (I used Orrington Farms Broth base $ seasoning)
1 tsp - lemon juice
3 tbsp - butter
use salt to taste if the broth is sodium free
1/2  tsp - freshly chopped oregano

Directions:
  • Add all the above ingredients except oregano in a sauce pan and cook till it starts to boil.  
  • Lower the flame and cover it with a lid.
  • Cook till all the water evaporates.  Fluff it with a fork.  
  • Garnish with fresh oregano leaves.
Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients:
1 cup - Greek yogurt/hung yogurt
1/2 - English cucumber
1/2 clove - grated garlic
1 tbsp - chopped mint leaves
1 tbsp - olive oil
salt to taste

Directions:
  • Peel the half English cucumber and grate it.  Add a pinch of salt to the grated cucumber and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Squeeze the excess water that oozes out from the cucumber.
  • Mix the cucumber with yogurt, grated garlic and chopped mint.  Add salt to taste.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hr before using it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Kerala Style Mango Carrot Pickle / Vella Manga Carrot Achar




Things have changed a lot since my last blog post.  At this juncture, we have started to accept the new norm of working from home, home schooling, wearing masks & gloves, wiping and cleaning groceries, hand sanitation and the list goes on.  Hope this is the case with you too.  I feel we have evolved so much since this micro organism has invaded the world.  



I have been cooking a lot since kids are home schooling and we both are working from home.  Things I haven't tried for ages from my own blog are been tried.  Lot of DIY projects, gardening and yard work is getting done these days. The basic things that we used to get from the store suddenly became rare luxurious commodities. I spent lot of time trying the basic recipes to make them from scratch, and found it better when compared to store bought items.  Going to the basics reminded me of our roots and traditions.  It is exciting as well as refreshing for me to learn the old techniques of making food.  



Here is one such simple basic Kerala pickle that I got to taste when I visited India couple of years ago.  It was my cousin's wedding and with every meal, we were served with this delicious spicy tangy crunchy Mango Carrot pickle. The addition of carrot was new to me and it gave this extra crunch and taste to this mango pickle.  The heat in this pickle comes from the birds eye chili (Kanthari).  This recipe calls for lots of garlic and trust me it adds tons of flavor to this pickle.  Please do try this recipe and let me know how it turns out for you.


Ingredients:

1 - mango peeled and cut into thin long pieces 
2 - medium size carrots, peeled and cut into thin long pieces
1/2 tsp - salt

20 cloves - garlic sliced (2 pods)
1.5 inch ginger - peeled and cut into thin long pieces 
5 - dry red chili (I used Kashmiri chili)
10 - birds eye chili / Thai Chili / Kanthari splits (refer notes)
1/4 tsp - asaphoetida powder/hing powder
1/2 tsp - fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp - mustard seeds
3 tbsp - oil (sesame oil or any vegetable oil)
3-4 sprigs - fresh curry leaves
1 cup - water boiled and cooled
2 tbsp - vinegar
salt to taste


Directions:
  • Add 1/2 tsp of salt to the cut mangoes and carrots.  Mix well and keep it for 15 minutes.
  • Heat a non-stick pan or wok and add 3 tbsp of oil.  Splutter mustard seeds in the oil.
  • Add the fenugreek seeds; lower the flame and let it get golden brown color.
  • Now add the sliced garlic and ginger pieces and cook on medium heat till it is slightly cooked and a nice aroma comes.  The garlic and ginger pieces should not turn brown.
  • Break the dry chili into half and add to the oil, followed by green chili/Kanthari.  Let it cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the asaphoetida powder.
  • Its time to add the salted Mango and carrots to the pan.  Toss it good till everything is mixed well.
  • Add 1 cup of water (boiled and cooled) followed by 2 tbsp of vinegar.
  • Adjust the salt at this point.  Add the curry leaves.  Let it simmer for a minute.  
  • Turn off the flame and let it cool completely.   Transfer to a sterilized glass jar with lid.
  • This pickle is ready to use right away after preparation.
Notes:
  • You can substitute green chili for birds eye chili/Kanthari.  You may need to adjust the amount per the heat of the green chili.
  • The mango I used in this recipe gave me 3 cups of cut mango.  The amount of mango should be higher than the amount of carrots in this recipe.
  • Store the pickle in the refrigerator and always remember to use a dry spoon.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Kerala Style Beets Stir Fry / Beetroot Thoran







We started the great lent and we follow a vegetarian diet at home for 50 days.  I was checking my blog for vegetarian dishes and was surprised to not find the beets stir fry recipe on the blog, which is a common side dish at Thomas's residence. 


Today I am sharing my grandma's Beets Thoran recipe, which is one of my favorites of hers.  When I made it years ago for the first time, my husband was surprised by the tangy taste in beets stir fry.  I had to disclose the special ingredient used in the recipe.  My grandma alternatively used green mango or Brindleberry (Malabar tamarind/Kudam puli) in this recipe.  Green mango is not easily available here, so I usually go with the tamarind.



I love picking up the beets that comes with leaves from the grocery store.  Back in India we used to get only the tuber part without the leaves.  I follow my grandma's recipe to make this stir fry.   She used to prepare it in earthen pot (Chatti) to give it a more earthy rustic taste and finally garnishes it with fried rice to give it a crunch.




The tamarind in this recipe balances the sweetness of the beets.   In this preparation  I use the leaves, beets and a good amount of shredded coconut.  This dish is spicy, tangy and slightly sweet and pairs well with steamed rice and plain yogurt.



Ingredients:

3 - beets with leaves
1 small - chopped onion
1.5 cups - shredded fresh/frozen coconut
3 - 4 - green chili
1 clove - garlic
1/2 tsp - turmeric powder
2 tbsp - oil
1 small piece - Brindleberry/Malabar Tamarind/Kudam Puli
1/4 cup - hot water
salt to taste

Tadka
1/2 tsp - black mustard seeds
2 small - thinly sliced shallots
1 sprig - fresh curry leaves
1/2 tsp - uncooked dry rice
1 tbsp - coconut oil

Directions:

  • Wash the tamarind well and soak in 1/4 cup of hot water.
  • Cut the leaves from the beets and wash them well and drain in a colander.
  • Peel the beets; wash them well and cut into small pieces.
  • Process them in a food processor till its shredded well.  Alternatively you can use a box grater and grate it.  Transfer the shredded beets in to bowl.
  • In the same food processor, pulse the grated coconut, garlic, green chili and turmeric powder.  They may turn dark pink/purple, but don't worry.  We are going to add them to beets anyway.  You can also use a motor and pestle to do this step.
  • Chop the leaves.
  • Take an earthen pot (Chatti) or a wide open pan.  Heat 2 tbsp of oil in it.  Add the onions and salt and cook till it starts to become translucent.  
  • Add the shredded beets to it and mix well.  Now add the tamarind with water to it.  Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chopped leaves and mix well.  Make a well in the middle and add the coconut mix.  Cover the coconut mix with the beets and leaves mix.  Cover the pan with a lid and cook for another 2-3 minutes on low heat till all the water is evaporated.  Adjust the salt and cook till beets are cooked well.  Turn off the flame.
  • In a separate small pan, heat 1 tbsp oil.  Splutter the mustard seeds.  Add the rice and cook on low heat till all the rice are puffed up.  Add the sliced shallots and cook till golden brown.  Turn off the flame and add the curry leaves to it.
  • Pour the tadka over the beets stir fry.
  • Enjoy the stir fry with steamed rice, plain yogurt and a side of pickle.
Notes:
  • You can half the recipe if preparing for 2 people.
  • You can use beets by itself without leaves in this recipe.
  • You can substitute tamarind with 1/2 cup chopped green mango.  If using green mango, cook it with the chopped/shredded beets.
  • Adjust the green chili per your heat tolerance. 
  • If preparing the stir fry in earthen pot on a stove top, use the low flame.  Otherwise the pot will start to smoke and will burn the stir fry.




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