Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ginger garlic chilly pickle

Some months ago, I saw a lot of peeled garlic in sale in an Indian grocery store near our house. Getting peeled garlic is like a jackpot for me, as I started imagining ginger garlic paste, garlic pickle and garlic kulambu as soon as I saw this heap. Then I bought a good amount of garlic and some ginger. After coming home I thought of making a different pickle than my usual garlic pickle, as hubby likes green chillies in his pickle very much. The same night I started making a bottle of this ginger garlic pickle and it tastes incredible. I am keeping this pickle in fridge, as it couldn't be sun dried here. But keeping / warming in sunlight for the first 2 or 3 days will make it more stable in room temperature too.
Ginger garlic chilly pickle

Inji poondu milagai oorugai

Ingredients:
Whole garlic - 4
Green chilly - 6
ginger (chopped) - 1/2 cup
tamarind - 1 lemon size
jaggery (brown sugar) - 2 tbsp
white vinegar - 4 tbsp  + 1 tbsp
red chilly powder - 2 tsp
sea salt -  3 tbsp
To temper:
whole red chilly - 2
mustard - 1 tsp
channa dal - 1 tbsp
hing (asafoetida) - 1/4 tsp
sesame oil - 1/2 cup
To fry and powder:
fenugreek / methi seed - 1 tsp
mustard - 1 tsp
(hing - small bit , if not used for tempering)
oil - 1 drop

Method:
Peel the garlic, ginger and rinse in water. Remove the stem in  green chilly, rinse in water + 1 tbsp vinegar solution.
Drain water and pat dry using a dry cloth / kitchen paper towel. Keep it in a plate or paper towel to dry in room temperature (under fan) for 4 - 5 hours.
Take 1/4 th portion of garlic, ginger and grind to a fine paste using a mixie.
Chop the remaining ginger, green chilly finely. Slice all the garlic into two.
Extract thick tamarind juice using 1/2 cup of BOILING water and keep side.

Heat 1 drop of oil in a wok, fry the mustard, fenugreek and powder them.

In the same wok, heat 1/2 cup oil . Add mustard, channa dal. After the mustard starts crackling, add bits of red chilly, hing powder.
Immediately add the chopped ginger, garlic, green chilly and saute till it seems semi cooked.
Then add the ginger garlic paste, tamarind extract and cook in low heat till raw smell goes.
Add required salt, jaggery, red chilly powder and bring to a boil.
Before switching off, add the prepared mustard, fenugreek powder.
Let this cool completely.
Mix the vinegar and stir well using a dry spoon.
Store in clean dry bottles.
Ginger garlic chilly pickle is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with rice or chapati.

Note:
This pickle is good for digestion.
Vinegar can be replaced by juice of 2 lemons (but vinegar increases the shelf life of any pickle in all climates).
Using solid hing will make the pickles more flavorful (I have used a small bit of LG compounded asafoetida / hing).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Broccoli cauliflower peas curry

One day I had a few pieces of left out broccoli after making usili, little cauliflower florets and frozen peas. I wanted to use them together before buying groceries. Then I made a simple Indian curry and it tasted very good. The broccoli got the goodness of cauliflower and peas, which made it more delectable. I am sure you all will enjoy this curry just like us:)
Ingredients:
Cauliflower - 1 cup (chopped)
broccoli - 1 cup (chopped)
green peas - 1/2 cup
oil / butter - 1 tbsp
fennel seeds - 1 tsp
cinnamon - 1 inch
cilantro , mint - few leaves
garam masala powder - 1 tsp
thick plain Indian yogurt - 3 tbsp
cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
salt - to taste

To mince coarsely:
onion - 1/2
garlic - 4 cloves
green chilly - 3

Method:
Heat oil in a wok. Add fennel, cinnamon and as fennel gets red, add minced items. Saute for a minute.
Then add chopped cauliflower, broccoli, peas, turmeric powder, salt, garam masala powder.
Cook covered till everything gets tender crisp.
Then add cumin powder, yogurt and stir well to get a thick curry.
Switch off. Garnish with chopped cilantro and mint.

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with rice or roti.
Tastes good with naan, flour tortilla etc.

Note:
Yogurt can be replaced by coconut milk and lemon juice at the end. Don't heat after adding lemon juice.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Microwave potato chips

Many years ago, I have seen my mom , chithi and grandma (Tuticorin) making deep fried potato chips and plantain chips in bulk during our holidays. Mom would store them all in a big yellow container and serve it along with variety rice like lemon rice , tamarind rice etc during our picnics. After that I had never cared much for chips till marriage. On seeing hubby's eager to have crispy chips, I started making them in Chennai, as buying a pack of air for a large money was not in my budget:). I used to fry the potato chips and give him as side dish for his lunch box. But US living has shown me how easy it is to buy a bag of chips in an affordable price:) So whenever we go to the grocery store Aldi, one of our biggest challenge is passing across that potato chips aisle:). That too summer time curd rice and chips lunch is a favorite in my house:) . But I control myself , as nowadays I refrain ourselves from packaged foods and would console us that I would make better fresh chips at home. Deep frying during summer is a very tough job for me, so I started making potato chips in microwave oven and conventional oven. Preparing homemade chips either baked or fried, gives us a lot of satisfaction, healthy chips, oil less or fresh oil chips, extremely economical , a new post for my blog and that is the only way our parents had enjoyed fresh foods. Do this and enjoy a easy less calorie spicy snack:)
Microwave potato chips

Ingredients:
Potato - 2
olive oil - 2 tbsp
salt - 1/2 tsp
red chilly powder - a pinch

We will need:
A microwave
2 or 3 microwaveable plates
a vegetable grater / mandolin / peeler

Method:
Wash the potatoes, scrub and remove skin. 
Slice the potato to very thin slices using a mandolin (very thin wafer chips) or vegetable peeler or knife (for thick chips).
I used the slicer / cabbage shredder portion in the 4 side  vegetable grater.
Put the slices in cold water for few minutes to remove starch. Squeeze them and let it air dry for few minutes.
Mix with salt and oil. Arrange the slices in single layer in the plate.
Microwave for 2 minutes on one side. Peel, flip and microwave for 30 seconds - 1 minute without browning them.

Take out and let it cool. The chips turn very crispy after few minutes (immediately after cooling).
Repeat for all the slices arranged in other plates.
Sprinkle red chilly powder and enjoy!
Microwave potato chips is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack or side dish.
This chips stays fresh and crispy till next day. I didn't count after that, as we had finished it then:)

Note:
The microwave I have used is a GE brand. 1.58 Kw capacity. Normally the microwave ovens in USA are mostly made for reheating and defrost purpose only (unlike Indian microwaves with built-in grill mode). 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Banana flower egg podimass

I prepare a scrambled egg (podimass / podimas) with banana blossom and wanted to share it with you all !
Ingredients:
Banana flower - 1 small
egg - 2
onion - 1
green chilly - 4
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
salt - to taste
coconut oil - 1 tbsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
black pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
cumin - 1 tsp

Method:
Clean the banana flower (see: How to clean the banana flower?).
Take out the edible portions as suggested. Place them all in water with few tbsp of buttermilk to prevent oxidation (color change) till we are about to cook it.
Squeeze the chopped banana blossoms to remove the liquid and chop them finely. 
Chop the onion, chilly, curry leaves finely.
Heat oil in a wok. Let the mustard splutter. Then add chopped onion, chilly, curry leaves and saute till onion gets soft. Add chopped banana flower to wok and saute for a minute. Cook covered in low heat for 3 minutes.
Remove lid and check if it is cooked. Add required salt, turmeric, pepper. Stir in low heat to get a dry stir fry.
Break 2 eggs and add to the stir fry.
Fry till eggs get cooked, then add shredded coconut, cumin and switch off.
Banana blossom scrambled egg is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with rasam rice or sambar rice.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Indian green chutney

Indian chaat foods are generously garnished with this cilantro chutney, popularly known as green chutney. I make this chutney whenever I buy cilantro and keep handy. This is the best way to preserve the cilantro and mint leaves for me. I use this chutney as side dish with chaat items and also as cilantro mint paste in my curry preparations.
Preserve the cilantro, mint leaves as chutney and it stays good for more time.
Ingredients:
Cilantro - a bunch
mint leaf - 20 stems (leaf only)
green chilly - 4
ginger - 2 inch
cumin - 1 tsp
oil - 1 tbsp
white vinegar - 2 tbsp (optional)
lemon - 1/2
salt - to taste

Method:
Select a big bunch of cilantro. Discard the roots and bigger stem. Wash and clean in a big bowl to remove any dirt or sand.
Take the leaves of the mint leaves and wash. Peel the ginger.
Grind together everything to a fine paste. If needed add few tbsp of water.
Adding vinegar is optional, but the chutney stays good in refrigerator for a long time.
Store in fridge for a week or freeze as cubes for longevity.
This chutney can be prepared with or without mint leaves.
Some people would add little sugar to it.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish or garnish with any chaat , dhokla, samosa.
I use this as a spread in bread omelette also.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Besan Dhokla

Dhokla is one of the snacks I learned from my neighborhood aunty from Gujarat.  Last week we were busy celebrating their daughter's engagement party and I think I should publish this recipe at least now. My hearty wishes and congrats to the couple!

Every evening I would crave for something spicy, easy to make and light as air. Having some dhokla in fridge is my comfort zone, so sometimes I make it in a batch and keep in fridge for a week. Hubby presented me this dhokla stand (plates) almost 6 months back during New year, on seeing me making dhokla in cake pans. Since then it became my pet among my vessels.

Dhokla is a less oily, protein rich , spicy snack popular among Gujarat people. We can see this Indian snack in many restaurants, grocery stores etc. This would resemble the idly of Tamilnadu in texture, but spicy and easy to prepare. Though people make it authentically by fermentation like idly batter, I was suggested to use a fruit salt called ENO fruit salt. Try this and enjoy!
Instant Besan flour dhokla.

My dhokla stand:)

This is the fruit salt I got for dhokla.
For making 2 plates of dhokla:

Main ingredient:
Besan flour (kadalai mavu) - 1 1/2 cup
sooji (ravai) - 2 tsp
water - 1/4 cup
curd - 1/2 cup
turmeric - 1/4 tsp
sugar - 1 tsp
salt - 1/2 tsp
green chilly -2
ginger - 1 inch
ENO fruit salt - 1 1/2 tsp
baking soda - 1/4 tsp

Tempering:
oil - 2 tbsp
hing - a pinch
mustard - 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
green chilly - 1 (finely chopped)

Topping:
lemon - 1/4
sugar - 2 tsp
salt - a pinch
water - 1/2 cup
coconut - 2 tbsp
cilantro - few

Method:
Grind green chilly and ginger to a coarse mixture.
Put everything under main ingredients in a mixing bowl except ENO.
Grease the dhokla plates with oil.
Mix ENO to the besan mixture and mix gently without lumps.
We  can see the batter rising immediately.
Immediately pour the mixture to the plates till half way (as dhokla will rise like idly).
Keep this arrangement inside an idly cooker or ordinary cooker without weight or in a closed vessel with some water. Steam cook the dhokla for 15 minutes or till an inserted tooth-pick comes clean.
Let it cool for a while, cut into desired shapes while it is in the plates itself.

Heat oil in a separate vessel, add mustard and after it crackles add hing, curry leaves, finely chopped chilly and pour over the dhoklas.

In the same tempering vessel, now add 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil. Switch off. Add sugar, salt, lemon. Mix well and pour over the dhoklas. Some people pour this to the tray on which we are going to arrange the dhoklas. But I pour it over.
Sprinkle finely chopped cilantro and shredded dried  coconut.

Besan dhokla is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve warm as tea time snack with Indian green chutney.

Note:
We can see instant dhokla mixes in Indian grocery stores, which would be great for starters. But making it from scratch is economical and free of any preservatives.
Also readymade dhoklas are also available in freezer sections of Indian stores.
I would suggest making it from scratch.
Homemade dhoklas stays good for a week in airtight containers in fridge. We can microwave the required pieces as per need.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Beetroot juice

Beetroot is one of my most favorite vegetables.I look for many ways to include it in our meal. I got this recipe long back from my dad's dietician. Hope you all enjoy this beetroot juice !
Beetroot juice along with bread omelet.

Freshly picked mint leaves.

Ingredients:
Beetroot - 1 large
brown sugar - 2 tsp
water - 1 1/2 cup
lemon - 1/4 fruit
ginger - 1 inch
fresh turmeric - 1/8 inch (optional)
mint leaf - few

Method:
Peel the beetroot and chop it coarsely.
In a blender / mixie grind it with 1/2 cup water, sugar, ginger, mint and thin slice of turmeric.
Extract juice by pouring over a colander. Squeeze, add more water to pulp and extract as much juice as possible.
Mix with fresh lemon juice.
Serve immediately.

Serving suggestions:
This is a heavy side of juice and so consume it during day time.
Makes a nice drink along with breakfast.
Use this juice immediately to ensure the freshness or  safer within 2 days (inside fridge).

Note:
The left over pulp after extracting the juice can be dried and used in making desserts and glue art works :)
Fresh turmeric looks like ginger and available in any Indian or Asian vegetable market.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sweet potato chips

Whenever we go to the nearby beach, the first thing we would do is buy some funnel cake and sweet potato fries, stand in the boardwalk and devour the snacks till the twilight comes. That enormous energy is definitely necessary to enjoy the rest of the day in the shore :) Though we buy fried sweet potato chips for fun, I like baked versions as they are less oily and won't be stuffy, if we are serving this at home:) Hope you all try this and enjoy!
Baked sweet potato fries.

Sweet potato in a bag and thin strips of it.
Beach snacks: Funnel cake and sweet potato fries. Hubby clicked this snap for me, as I forgot to do it and was about to eat:)

Ingredients:
Sweet potato - 2
salt - 3/4 tsp
red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil - 2 to 3 tbsp

Method:
Scrub and peel the sweet potatoes. Rinse and wash thoroughly to remove any dirt.
Cut it into  thick strips (thinner ones get brown and charred easily).
Add all the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix well.
Then put the sweet potato wedges and mix well.
Spread them on a cookie sheet without touching each other. I needed 2 trays.
Heat oven to  350 deg and bake for 20 minutes. Take out, check , toss using a spoon and bake again for nearly 10 minutes. Broil for 1 minute.
Be careful throughout the process, as the sugar in sweet potato makes it char quickly.
Take out.
Baked sweet potato fries is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve with tomato ketchup as snack or side dish.

Note:
Sweet potato fries or baked fries would never taste like potato French fries.  So don't set the expectations like that.
This is a softer version of chips, tastes unique, sweeter and good.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Crab kulambu

For a long time I was looking for a homely recipe for crab curry that is made in ordinary households of Tamil Nadu. I grew up eating this simple kulambu made by my mom, but eventually we all got used to restaurant versions and totally got diverted from the homely nandu kulambu. However good I make my crab curry I had always felt nostalgic for this mom's recipe. The main features of this curry is that it is a soupy version of crab curry, more watery, less spicy still flavorful and easy to make. Then one day while talking with my mom's sister, my J chithi, I got some non veg recipes of Tuticorin ..... I tried this and I could definitely say that I got my mom's recipe back. Thanks Chithi:)
Fish for hubby and crab for me:)




Ingredients:
Crab - 4
Onion - 1
oil - 1 tbsp
tomato - 2
curry leaf - 2 sprig
green chilly - 2 slit
mustard - 1 tsp
fennel - 1 tsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
coriander powder - 3 tsp
sea salt - to taste

Masala to grind:
shredded coconut - 1 cup
cumin - 1 tsp
garlic - 1 whole
shallot - 4

Method:
Heat oil in a deep wok.
Add mustard, fennel.
After mustard gets cracked, add finely chopped onion.
After sauteing it for a minute, add chopped tomato and saute till it gets mushy.
Cook this closed with 1/4 cup water.
Peel the garlic, shallot and grind the masala together to a fine paste.
Add chilly powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder,salt, prepared masala, green chilly, curry leaf and bring it to a boil.
Then add crab, cook covered in low heat for 10 - 15 minutes, switch off.
Nandu kulambu is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve this curry over rice as main course.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ulunthu Payasam

Whole urad dal / ulunthu payaru kheer (payasam) is one more delicacy from Tamilnadu. This payasam is not a modern day food but the ingredients will tell the heritage of Indian cooking. Hope it is liked by all!
Ingredients:
Whole urad dal - 1/2 cup
raw rice - 2 tbsp
garlic - 4 cloves
dry ginger powder - 1 tsp
jaggery (Indian brown sugar) - 1/2 cup
To grind:
coconut - 3 tbsp
cardamom - 3

Method:
Soak urad dal overnight. Pressure cook the soaked dal with rice and peeled garlic (wait for 1 whistle, reduce flame and cook in low heat for 10 minutes). Mash it gently without breaking too much.
Dissolve jaggery in boiling water, remove any sediments.
Bring to boil the mashed urid dal with jaggery solution.
Coarsely grind coconut with cardamom and add it to the boiling kheer.
Put the dry ginger powder and switch off.
Uluntham payasam is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve warm as dessert or breakfast.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence day !

image courtesy: click here

Fruits for July 4 th, Happy Independence day !
We have planned to celebrate our July 4 th weekend in and around our city as hubby has some work, calls and schedules to meet. But he wants to make the holidays happy for us by taking me to my favorite places around.I have made some beetroot halwa for him as a surprise dessert, though I wanted to stick with healthy choices more:) To begin with, on July 3 rd (yesterday night) hubby took me to Apple-bee's restaurant (our favorite place) . The serving portions are very generous there and so we ordered one platter of appetizer, main course and dessert, so that we could share. We had onion rings,diet Pepsi, 4 cheese grille sandwich,Tomato basil soup, Apple Chimicheesecake with ice cream. The people there were partying for July 4 th and we could see the happy faces awaiting to celebrate the Independence day. we enjoyed the atmosphere very much:) Hoping to tell you all more :) Happy Independence day!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Chicken Shish kebab

Grilled foods like kebabs are popular in Middle East countries. Among them, Shish kebab is very easy to make and cherished by people of America also. My first authentic kebab tasting experience happened after coming to US only. I started making them after tasting the kebabs of  New york street vendors, which is one of the most sought experiences one should have there. Middle East kebab made in NYC would be served as 'chicken over rice' or as kebab stuffed flat breads with a creamy white sauce.  According to my knowledge, this shish kebab is a colorful kebab with many vegetables likes bellpepper, tomato, onion , pineapple etc skewered together with meat pieces and grilled.
I made this Shish kebab with boneless chicken thigh , green bellpeper and onion and Indian touch. Instead of grilling I baked and broiled them (which is also equally delicious). Any Halal shop can cut this kind of pieces if requested.  I am narrating a baked kebab version with Indian spices and a juicy marination method which I learned through foodnetwork channel.
Enjoy the Independence day with these healthy colorful kebabs !
Baked chicken shish kebab

Kebab before baking.
Ingredients:
Chicken - 1.5 lb
ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
turmeric - 1 tsp
red chilly powder - 2 tsp
black pepper powder - 1 tsp
cumin powder - 1 tsp
curry masala powder - 1 tsp
vinegar - 1/4 cup
Indian yogurt - 1/4 cup
Extra virgin olive oil / butter - 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp
all purpose flour - 1 tbsp
salt - to taste ( 2 tsp)
Vegetables like mushroom, bell pepper, pineapple, cherry tomato, onion, zucchini can be skewered along with meat.
lemon - 1 (to garnish)

Method:
Rinse the meat and cut it into 2 inch size cubes (approx).
Mix salt 1 tsp, red chilly powder, 1 cup water and vinegar and marinate the  chicken pieces in this solution overnight or 2 - 6 hours inside refrigerator. This step makes the chicken juicy and tender and a must if using chicken breast (white meat).
Take out the chicken pieces by draining the marination completely. Pat dry if possible.
In a mixing bowl add ginger garlic paste, curd (yogurt), red chilly powder 1 tsp,  salt , pepper powder, curry masala powder, cumin powder, oil / butter and All purpose flour. Mix this into a thick paste and marinate the chicken pieces for 1 hour in this paste or longer inside fridge. (we can prepare this paste ahead and save it in fridge till marination).
In the mean time soak the skewers in water.
Thread the chicken pieces in the skewer in the following fashion or any thing as we wish....chicken piece ..1/2 inch gap... chicken piece 1 ..gap.... bell pepper square ...gap...2 chicken pieces... gap ...onion wedge ...gap...2 chicken pieces ....like this.
The 1/2 inch gap is necessary to save the kebab from getting soggy.
Heat oven to 350 deg . Line a  baking tray with Aluminum foil. Coat it with 1 tbsp oil / butter.
Arrange the skewers without touching each other.
Bake for 20 minutes on one side, flip and bake for 10 minutes the other side.
Broil for 2 minutes. Take out and enjoy!
(The above can be made in a  grill also).
Chicken shish kebab is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Squeeze lemon above ( if needed) before serving.
Serve over any rice like briyani or ghee rice.
Serve as appetizer or main course.

Note:
Here is one more marination recipe with Americanized kebab flavor, which is easy to follow and an alternative to Indian marination.
Do the first marination if using white meat and use the below for marination for 1 hour:. or simply marinate in the below for 1-2 hours before grilling.
chicken - 1 lb,  salt - as per need, pepper powder - 1/2 tsp, turmeric - 1/2 tsp, cumin - 1/2 tsp, dry powdered oregano - 1 tsp, basil powder - 1/2 tsp,  dry garlic powder - 1 tsp, cayenne pepper - 1/2 tsp, vinegar - 2 tsp, butter / EVOO - 2 tbsp
Serve with white sauce or ranch dressing.