Thursday, June 24, 2010

Green Peas pulao

A very simple and mildly spiced pulao made as an alternative to the usual plain rice.

I make this green peas pulav as a quick dish for hubby's lunch pack. It won't consume much time or demand a great skill during the peak hour.



Ingredients:
Green peas (frozen or fresh) - 3/4 cup
(Don't use dry ones for this recipe)
Basmathi rice / raw rice (pacharise) - 1 cup
ghee - 1 tbsp
ginger - 1 inch
garlic - 2 pearls
green chillies - 2
onion (sliced thinly lengthwise) - 1/2 cup
lemon juice - 2 tbsp
cilantro + mint leaf (chopped) - 1/4 cup
bay leaf - 1
cloves (lavangam) - 2
cinnamon (pattai) - 1 inch
cashews - 10
salt - to taste

Method:
Wash and clean the rice. Soak it for 30 minutes.
Defreeze the peas by putting them in some water.
Grind the chillies, ginger, garlic together to a fine paste.

In the mean time, heat ghee in a wok. Fry the cashews to golden color and keep aside.
In the same wok add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and fry for a few seconds.
Immediately add the sliced onion . Saute it till the onion wilts.
Now put the masala paste and fry till oil separates. Put the green peas and saute a little. Add salt to taste.

Add the soaked rice (remove the excess water by a colander) and fry for a minute. Pour water just enough to immerse the rice. Add the lemon juice (lemon and ghee keeps rice grains separate). Cover and cook in very low flame till done.(We can cook the rice separately and add at the end also). Remove from heat while the rice is almost cooked (but stiff) and serve hot.

Garnish with fried cashews and minced cilantro + mint leaf.

Green peas pulav is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serves 2 people.
Pair this flavorful peas pulav with any spicy curry like Gobi manchurian or simply a mint chutney + raitha and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Plain Vanilla cake

Nearly a month ago I wanted to make a plain vanilla cake. Though very long back I tried some method (before the blogging era) , I was not pleased with the outcome.So after a lot of googling and blog hopping, I got a solid idea and some confidence to make it from scratch. There were many recipes and I chose to try Cham's infallible Plain vanilla cake recipe and the result was amazing.

Thank you Cham!

The below recipe is from Cham of Spice club. I have halved the quantity to make one 8x8 inch cake. Click to see the original version.



Plain vanilla cake baked and allowed to cool before slicing.



Plain vanilla cake sliced and arranged.


Ingredients: 
(To make one 8x8 square cake)
All purpose flour (maida) -  1 cup
sugar- 3/4 cup
egg - 3 (medium size eggs)
butter (unsalted) - 1 stick (8 tbsp / 113 gms)
Salt - 1/8 tsp
Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

Method:
Bring the eggs and butter to room temperature , by keeping them outside the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Grease the baking pan with 1/4 tsp butter.

Mix the dry ingredients like maida, baking soda, baking powder by sieving twice.
(This makes the cake spongy).

Add the egg, butter, sugar, vanilla essence , salt to a blender / mixie and beat till it turns fluffy.

Add the dry ingredients and beat well. we can mix the dry ingredients by using a fork / spatula also.

Pour the cake batter in to the greased pan and shake / tap it to release the air.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
(Test the quality of baking by inserting a skewer and see if it comes out clear).

Plain vanilla cake is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as dessert or tea time snack. Icing is optional.

Calorie calculation: (from main ingredients)
AP flour 1 cup = 400 kcal.
Sugar 3/4 cup = (1 tbsp = 45) = 45 x 12 = 540 Kcal
butter 1 stick = 100 x 8 tbsp = 800 Kcal
egg 3 = 70 x 3 = 210 Kcal
Total calories (approx) in this plain vanilla cake = 1950 kcal

(data courtesy : Livestrong.com)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vengaya sambar

Vengayam (Naattu vengayam, ulli, chinna vengayam) - shallot / baby onion; Saambar - A dhal based curry served over plain rice.

Sambars are generally named after the vegetables added and by the variation in masala. e.g., Arachi vitta sambar, murungakkai sambar etc.
The most famous and easy to prepare is the onion sambar.

Though I make many varieties of sambar, this one is my family's  most favorite. Almost all my Fridays will begin with this flavorful sambar along with the potato curry . Moreover I never forget to save some sambar for the night to serve along with crispy paper roast dosas and we never get bored of that menu:)

I am narrating my mom's recipe, which I am following for years.


vengaya sambar served in a bowl.

Ingredients:

To pressure cook:
Toor dhal/red gram lentil - 1/2 cup (100 gms)
water- 2 cups
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
asafoetida - 1 pinch
sesame oil- 1 drop
Wash and clean the lentil. Pressure cook the dhal with the above said ingredients for a whistle. Then reduce flame and cook for 10 minutes. Let it cool. Open the lid and add some fresh cumin seeds .Mash well using a spatula. Keep aside.
(we can cook the dhal in stove top also. But we may need to soak it first for 30 minutes or more and cook for 30 minutes).

Other ingredients:
Shallot (sambar vengayam) - 15
(choose small variety. Remove the skin, wash and clean. Don't chop).
Tomato - 1
Tamarind - amla (gooseberry /  nellikkai) size ball
cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
cooking oil / ghee - 2 tbsp
(Try to use ghee, as it renders more taste to the sambar).
curry leaves- 1 sprig
cilantro/ coriander leaves (chopped)- 1 tbsp
mustard seeds-1/2 tsp
fenugreek -1/2 tsp
jaggery- 1 tsp (optional)
salt - to taste
Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
coriander powder - 2 tsp
Sambar powder - 1/2 tsp

Method:
Soak the tamarind in 2 cups of hot water and extract the juice by squeezing.
Add the red chilly powder, coriander powder, salt and bring it to a boil. Let it boil till the raw smell vanishes.

In the same time heat oil or ghee in a separate wok. Add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and let the mustard splutter. Before they get black, immediately add the shallots, curry leaf and saute well. Continue frying till the shallot starts getting a golden color (not red). Then add the finely chopped tomato and saute till oil separates.

Pour this hot mixture over the boiling tamarind paste. Add the mashed dhal, sambar powder and bring it to a boil. As it starts boiling, put the crushed jaggery, chopped cilantro and switch off.

Vengaya sambar is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot over plain cooked rice.
The best side dish would be a spicy potato curry and appalam (pappad).
Reserve some sambar for dinner and serve along with paper roast dosas.

Thengai saatham

Thengai - coconut ; saatham - rice.
Kalantha saatham (variety rice or rice mixed with some spices/ masala) is an indispensable one in any South Indian home. The best part in kalantha saatham is that they would be prepared to accompany any long journey and they should withstand the time. For example in olden days they packed the tamarind rice or lemon rice in such a hygienic way that they last for at least 3 days.

But this coconut rice should be consumed within 12 hours because of the addition of coconut. Anyways this rice is loved by all for its nice flavor and taste.



Thengai saatham served with masala egg and bottle-gourd dhal curry.

Ingredients:
Rice (pacharisi / Basmathi) - 1 cup
Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
moong dhal (split green gram lentil / paasi paruppu) - 2 tsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
cilantro - a handful (chopped)
dry red chilly - 2
oil - 1 tsp

cooking the rice:
(I prefer stove top method for pulao and 'variety rices'. we can microwave also. But the pressure cooker method makes the rice mushy. Rice cooker can also be used to prepare the rice).

Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes or lesser.
Bring to boil some 3 cups of water along with 1/2 tsp salt.
Add the soaked , drained rice and reduce heat. Cook covered till almost done.
Switch off and pour it over a colander and remove the water completely.
Keep the rice open to maintain it as separate grains. Let it cool for sometime.

Method:
Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok and add mustard seeds. As they start to crackle, slide in the moong dhal, red chillies (cut into small pieces), curry leaf, shredded coconut , chopped cilantro, in the same order and fry till the coconut starts smelling great. Switch off immediately before they get red (maintain the white color of coconut).
Add some salt to taste (little only). Switch off heat.

Gently mix the rice with the prepared coconut mixture without breaking the rice grains.

Coconut rice is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Good for a quick packed lunch.
It can also be served as starter rice before serving the sambar over plain rice in an elaborate lunch.
Serve with paruppu thogaiyal (fried dhal chutbney), potato chips etc.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bisibelebath

Bisibelebath means Hot lentil rice. It is very famous in Karnataka, India and has become the favorite of all others too.

This is my most favorite lentil rice and I always look for an opportunity to insert it in our menu:) Narrating this one for you all and especially for my friend Pushpa. Enjoy!





Ingredients:
Rice - 3/4 cup
Red gram (Thuvar dhal) - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
salt - to taste
Bisibelebath powder - 3 tsp

Vegetables: (Usual combination)
Beans - 20
carrot - 1
fresh green peas - 1/2 cup
potato - 1
Tomato - 1 (optional)
(I added some cherry tomatoes for fun, but the authentic recipe does not call for tomatoes)
Lemon - 1/4 (or) tamarind extract - from 2 inch tamarind

Tempering:
ghee - 3 tbsp
mustard (kadugu) - 1/2 tsp
finelly chopped onion - 1 tbsp (optional)
curry leaf - 1 sprig
channa dhal - 1 tsp
Asafoetida (hing / perungaayam) - a pinch

Method:
Wash and soak the dhal for at least 10 minutes. In the mean time chop the vegetables into small pieces.

Start cooking the dhal with a drop of oil, turmeric and 3 cups of water. I prefer doing it 'stove top' to get the native touch. We can pressure cook also.

When the dhal is 75% done add the rice and cook almost completely.

Now add the chopped vegetables and continue cooking. Add water now and then accordingly. The final product should be of very loose consistency, otherwise the bisibelebath gets solidified after cooling.

When the whole mixture is well cooked (almost 45 minutes), take 3 tsp of the bisibelebath powder, mix with a 1/4 cup of water and add to the rice. Bring it to a boil.

Mean while, heat the ghee in a wok and splutter the mustard seeds. Immediately add channa dhal, curry leaf, onion and saute well.

Pour this over the prepared bisibelebath and take off heat. Add lime juice and serve very hot.

Serving suggestions:
The above said quantity would be enoug for 2 adults and a child.
Always use 3 tsp of the bisibelebath powder for the above said quantity.
Always serve BBB very hot with lots of ghee.
Boondhi raitha or potato chips or pappad are best combinations with BBB.
Some people strew some karaa boondhi over the bisibelebath and enjoy.
I usually prepare Arbi yam (seppan kilangu) fry along with this.

Bisibelebath powder

This is the masala powder used  in  preparing Bisibelebath.




Ingredients
Bengal gram (channa dhal / kadalai paruppu) - 3 tsp
Black gram (urad dhal) - 3 tsp
Poppy seed - 1 tsp
fenugreek (methi seed) - 5 seeds
dry coconut (kopparai thengai) - 3 tbsp
Dry red chilly - 5
Whole black pepper - 10
cumin - 1/2 tsp
coriander seed - 3 tsp
cloves, caradamon - 2
cinnamon - 2 inch piece

Method:
Dry roast the dhals separately (if in large quantity) and keep them aside. Put all the other items together and dry roast till the coconut smells good. Let it cool.
Grind them together to a fine powder. Keep the powder in freezer for further use. We can use this powder for making bisbelebath as well as vangi bath.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Banana Walnut cake

Hi friends!
Happy to meet you all after a gap.Thanks for all your encouraging comments and mails that keep me going. Sorry, I missed many of your delicious posts and trying to catch up now:) The summer and the vacations made me quite busy and tired. The heat is horrible here, but couldn't stop us from roaming around and swimming (Don't imagine me with a lot of swimming skills, I am a learner for a long time).Moreover I tried a lot of recipes and waiting to share them with you all.

Let's start with something sweet. Here is a version of a very moist, spongy banana walnut cake. I got the recipe from this website. It is a very successful one and the best cake I have ever tasted. Try and let me know:)

Cake batter prepared without any lumps.




The Banana walnut cake is baked.


Banana walnut cake sliced and served.

Ingredients:
All purpose flour - 2 1/2 cup
Baking soda - 1 tbsp
salt - 1/8 tsp
butter - 1/2 cup (8 tbsp or 1 stick)
(don't use oil here, as I am calculating the moisture from butter too. Otherwise we may need to add some water also)
White sugar - 1 cup
Brown sugar - 3/4 cup
egg - 2
Ripe banana - 4 (long ones)
butter milk - 2/3 cup
(2/3 cup milk + 1 tsp vinegar can be substituted here)
walnut (chopped)- 1/2 cup
vanilla essence - 1 tsp

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F (175 deg C). Grease two (8"x8" square) cake pans with 1/4 tsp butter (each).

Chop the walnuts into small pieces and mix a tsp of all purpose flour with it.

Add the egg, butter, both sugars,salt,vanilla essence, buttermilk to a mixer / blender and beat till it turns fluffy.

Pour it to a broad mixing bowl.

Then put the bananas in the mixer and slightly mash them (two or three pulse is enough). Add it to the mixing bowl. Mix well.

Now sift the flour with baking soda twice (to make the cake fluffy) and put it in the mixing bowl. Beat and mix the batter very well using a fork or whisk (not a blender, as the bananas will get over mushy).
In between, if you see some lumps, then leave the batter for a 5 minutes and then start beating. This helps in soaking and a smooth batter without any lumps.

Stir in half the chopped nuts.

Pour the prepared batter in the pans for two inches height and spread the walnuts over the batter. Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Insert a skewer to check if the cake is completely baked.

Take out and place on a damp towel to cool (This generates much steam and makes the cake moist). Then carefully remove from the pan and cool completely (for an hour or more).

Then slice and serve with or without frosting.

Tips:
Don't open the oven for the first 35 minutes.
The cake will be fluffy as soon as we take out of the oven, but after a few minutes it will loose the bump in the top.Don't panic, this will not affect the texture of the cake.
Always use the well ripened (skin turned black) banana for making a cake.
We can freeze and store the bananas that turn black and of no further use. Remove the skin and store them in zip lock covers in freezer. Just bring them to room temperature and blend in the liquid that oozes out also.
Cream cheese frosting is the usual one.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Its award time!

Two lovely bloggers, Gayathri of Heaven on a spoon and Suja of Kitchen corner have passed me the following awards.

Gayathri has a very nice space with interesting articles, anecdotes and I like the energy in her words. I am attracted a lot by her simple sweets and elaborate recipes.

Suja's recipes from Kerala are very authentic.Don't miss her sea food section and I am addicted to it:) Thank you friends! You both made my day.

Visit these enthusiastic bloggers and have a great time.



The rule of the award is to post some of our favorite pictures. The list is endless and here are two of them to enjoy:)


Photo courtesy: ICD parish.

This is the Immaculate Conception church in O'Fallon,Missouri, which we used to attend regularly on Sundays. O'Fallon is a very small town in mid west part of USA. It is full of woods and beautiful rivers. I associate this place with so many pleasant memories and it is my most favorite place to live. I wish to live again in O'Fallon , Missouri forever, if Xavier gets a job there. (Anyways I love my NJ also very much).What a thought..huh!
No wonder, the pictures from there fascinates me very much).

The next one is from St.Louis,MO.



St.Louis Arch in St.Louis. Other names of St.Louis are 'The gateway of the west or Rome of the West'.

Wish you all a beautiful month ahead!