Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Beautiful words !

I saw this image in a link 'clipart kid' and found it beautiful .
It is a Bible verse and love the way the elephant smiles :)
I wish everyone gets good rainfall and enough water !
We all need such beautiful words always !

Viki Xavier

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Onion uthappam

Uthappam / oothappam is a typical Tamil dish, but celebrated all over India. I have seen many people eagerly buying this batter in Indian grocery stores. These batters come as 'ready to make' oothappam mix in dry form or wet batter (fridge isle). That is a very good idea too. But traditionally most of us make it using a few days old dosa batter. Baking soda is added to the dosa batter, just minutes before cooking. It makes the oothappam more porous and soft, just like the way it should be. If we are more concerned we can add 'enos fruit salt' also. The secret to any good idli, dosa, oothapam is bringing the batter to room temperature by leaving it in kitchen counter for few hours (say 2 - 3 hours in cold countries).  If our batter is very good, there won't be any need to add baking soda or fruit salt.  We can find out the fineness of the batter while making the first oothapam :) Click to see my vegetable uthappam too.

'Camp chef' brand cast iron 14 "pizza pan from ebay is the best tawa for dosa too.

Dosa / idly batter - 2 cup
baking soda - 2 pinch
ghee - 2 tsp (or smart balance butterlike product)
sesame oil - 2 tbsp
onion - a handful for 1 dosa
green chilly - 1 finely chopped 
idly podi - 2 tbsp
curry leaf , cilantro - a handful

Take required quantity of sour idly batter from fridge. Add baking soda and mix the batter briskly for few times. Let it sit for 1 - 3 hours to bring to room temperature. 
Heat a dosa tawa. Coat the tawa with 2 drops of sesame oil . Sprinkle little water over it.
Using a clean cloth wipe the tawa.
Take a ladle of batter and pour it gently over the tawa and let it spread to a thick but small dosa (6 inch dia. approximately). Reduce the flame to medium heat.
Spread the finely chopped onion, chilly, curry leaf, cilantro over the uthappam. Pour some sesame oil + ghee around and over the dosa.
Strew a tsp idly milagai podi over the uthappam.
(Place a dome shaped lid to cover it. The uthappam should be cooked in that steam to get a spongy texture inside. This step is optional, but I prefer this)

// If needed ,  flip the uthappam and let it cook the other side for less than 30 seconds. Mostly it is not necessary to flip oothappam, as it gets cooked by that cover and steam//. Take out the dosa Again increase the flame, apply oil and repeat the above process to make as many uthappam as we need.

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot with Coconut chutney and sambar.
Once we start making the uthappam, we have to serve it immediately to get that true taste. 

Batter : Add a tbsp of besan flour for  every cup of dosa batter to get a golden red uthappam.
Sour dosa batter can only give a delicious uthappam. If its not so, then add some desi yogurt/ buttermilk and leave for a few hours or start preparing immediately.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Apple capsicum chicken

We started liking brown rice after having it prepared by our friend Uma. After that I too bought a pack of brown rice and trying some new recipes. Brown rice cooked with rice is served as a  side in this recipe.  This chicken recipe is my very own creation. This is a less spicy version of chicken. The green apple makes the dish more tangy and delicious. Feel free to make this with any apple and vary the spice level as per taste.
Apple capsicum chicken with quinoa brown rice and broccoli 

Sautéed apple capsicum 

Baked chicken with apples and capsicum

enjoy !

To marinate:
Chicken (white meat) - 1 lb
salt - to taste (1 tsp)
pepper powder - 1 tsp
cumin powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
curry masala powder - 1/2 tsp
lemon juice - 1/2 fruit
olive oil - 1 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste (ginger -  2 inch + peeled garlic - 6 )

Cut the chicken white meat into small pieces.
Marinate with everything above for 1 - 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 F for 10 minutes.
Coat a baking tray with olive oil and spread the marinated pieces.
Bake for 15 minutes., check if its cooked (by slicing). Reduce heat to 350 and bake again for 5 minutes to get a golden red color.
Switch off, keep the baked chicken in an airtight container or just fold the aluminum foil to keep the moisture of the chicken (otherwise it gets dry).

Red capsicum - 1
green capsicum - 1
green apple - 1
olive oil - 1 tbsp
salt - to taste
lemon juce - 1/2 fruit
cilantro (chopped) - handful

Chop the apple and capsicums to small cubes.
Heat oil in a wok.
Gently sautée everything together along with salt and lemon juice for 2 minutes.
Mix this with the baked chicken, cilantro.
Bake again for 5 minutes at 350.

Apple capsicum chicken is ready!

Serve along with any sides like rice , vegetables .

Saturday, April 15, 2017

More books .....

On the other day, I was discussing about books with one of my friends. We were talking how books are forgotten and replaced these days. Anything can be read in internet, but the feel of a paper book is different. Though it is bulky, it has limited browsing effects, it needs more physical space, I love collecting books. When talking about cook books, some think that blogs are replacing cook books. But I will never say so. Recipe blogs can never replace a well trusted generation old cook book. Books give us a nostalgic feel, they take us to our happy places. So I encourage buying books as much as reading a blog. 
These are the dollar store gems I got recently. I am yet to finish reading them.  But the topics seemed interesting to me. They are sitting just next to me, while I am trying to find better ways to create good foods, better than my previous. 
Happy Easter ! Happy Tamil New year ! Happy Vishu !

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Crispy chickpeas in airfryer

One of my recent innovations is airfried channa. One day, I was about to make some sundal (chickpea salad) out of the soaked channa and suddenly got an idea and tried a bowl of this. Though its crispy , it wouldn't be hard like the store bought uppu kadalai.

Chickpeas (channa / kondai kadalai) - 1 cup
olive oil / or any cooking oil - 1 tbsp
rice flour - 1 tbsp (optional)
pink Himalayan salt / salt - to taste (1 tsp)
turmeric powder - 1 tsp
red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
curry masala powder - 1/2 tsp

Rinse and soak the white channa for 6-8 hours or overnight.
Drain the water.
Mix all other items given (salt, turmeric powder, rice flour, chili powder, oil, curry powder) using a spoon.
Preheat the airfryer to 400 F for 5 minutes (I do this while mixing the ingredients). Set the timer to  15 minutes.
My airfryer can handle 1 cup (presoaked quantity) of channa. So do it in batches, if needed.
Start the frying process. Airfry it for 5 minutes in maximum heat. Then reduce it to 375 and toss it and repeat for another 5 minutes. Take out , toss and repeat till it gets crispy.
Always keep watching after 10 minutes as it gets brown and hard if not tossed in between.

Take out. Spread over a broad plate and let cool. Then store it in airtight container.
Airfried channa is ready to snack on!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snow day lunch

Snow days are expected eagerly by school kids and office goers, and we all know the reason...yes ! That's like another state holiday and people I know welcome it , track it.... get prepared for it ..... do a lot of snack shopping for it ,  get a lot of selfies in snow and totally enjoy it .....if there is power, water and heat and TV snow days become fun for all :)  Snow shoveling is another story and I don't wanna talk about it :)
Yesterday was a snow day for us . So I did some grocery shopping on the previous day just like all those who buy bread and milk just before snow :) 
 I made kingfish curry and fry along with rice and spinach while he was working. He saw me clicking pictures of that and to add fun, he posted that picture in his whatsapp and his friends too started sharing their platters and we enjoyed every moment of it :) Some had already finished lunch and couldn't get their pics here.  His friend Rahul had corn and peas salad, Cletus had crispy dosa, Sunish had traditional fish curry .... all look totally yummy ! Kudos all ! 
Here are a few platters for us all to enjoy !
Crispy Dosai and Sambar from Cletus ...looks yummy !

Fish curry from Sunish ...wow. I wonder how they brought this beautiful terracota pot here . looks delicious!

Here is our fish curry wih fish fry and spinach :)
 I guess next time we should plan ahead and get pics from all of our friends like a roundup :)
Have a beautiful day you all !

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday Lunch

This is the meal I prepared today for our lunch, while hubby is working in laptop.  Love the way it turned out colorful and very glad to see him exclaiming on seeing this.
Menu : White rice, paruppu kulambu, beans poriyal, jackfruit seed fry, beetroot raitha, appalam along with lemon pickle.

Amma's Kitchen

Ammas Kitchen is a restaurant in Iselin, NJ. We  came to know of this through one of his friends in office. So we decided to have dinner there on a weekend and we were surprised to see JJ's photos there. Almost all the items in the menu seems reasonably priced (one dollar idli, vadai ...wow) and looked yummy.
This is a typical SouthIndian / Tamil cuisine place. Amma's kitchen is situated inside the 'The Mall' in oak tree road. It seems like they have branches in 2 more locations in NJ.
I tried egg kothu parotta  and hubby got freshly made veechu parotta. Both were delicious and were of the same price (say $7), but still I feel that egg kothu parotta is worth the price as veechu parotta was very thin like a wafer and won't be enough for an adult  (so he had to buy two of them :) ).
I am sure it is worth a visit and will definitely satisfy the foodies of SouthIndia.
Here are some pics to enjoy !
Amma's Kitchen in NJ

My favorite egg kothu parotta

Hubby's choice ....freshly made veechu parotta.

Once in a while....

On a Netflix marathon Saturday, a pizza lunch from Dominos....Our favorite pineapple jalapeno pizza with chicken wings :) .

I found this mango habanero sauce as more appetizing than any other sauce we usually buy.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cooked rice Vadagam (leftover) in dehydrator

In Tamilnadu, the leftover rice would be preserved by soaking it in water and served as next day's breakfast along with pickle (not my favorite till now and hence I used to carry a pack of biscuits in my handbag years ago and sometimes I would accept that  too if served with love.....Anything tastes better if given with love :) ).  Some people would cook the old rice with fresh rice the next day and the whole rice will get the old rice flavor, and it is not ok. Some would put the rice in fridge and would give it a . makeover to give lemon rice or puli rice the next day (that's a better idea, as food stays safer). But I won't recommend it for lunch packs in hot regions (we can have it home).  In colder countries it is not a major issue. The old rice stays good for at least 3 days in fridge (why 3 days? ...because it is the food blogger's way of telling it. But I know some people who would cook rice one day and use it the whole week. It tastes good too. Everything depends on the weather).
Leftover rice vadagam was not my mother's idea either. But I started making this kind of vadagam occasionally, using leftover rice  and my hubby likes all kinds of vadagam. But here in US, there won't be much leftovers as we all cook precisely for a tiny family. Then also, I got some leftovers the other day and prepared vadagam (fryums / fritters) using dehydrator. So if anyone is totally in love with vadagams, then they should cook one more cup of  rice and try my recipe. It tastes just like koozh vadagam.
Here is my recipe for 'spicy leftover rice vadagam'. Here I have used a dehydrator and it took just 12 hours to dry. Sundrying is a better way too.
Blend together cooked rice , shallot, green chili, cumin,, curry leaf,  hing, salt .
My idiyappam squeezer 
Squeeze it on a plate of dehydrator (over a cloth)

Switch on in high mode.

It would be ready in 10 - 12 hours. 

Put them in a dry plate and let air dry for 1 more day.

Store in ziplock bags

Vadagam after frying in oil

Cooked rice - 2 cups
shallot - 2
green chili - 2
salt - 1/2 tsp
hing - a pinch
cumin - 1/2 tsp
curry leaf - few

If there is leftover rice, keep it in fridge or start making the recipe immediately.  Do not soak it in water or keep in room temperature (for making vadagam).
Using a blender, finely grind all the above.
Fit a star mould in  a murukku squeezer (idiyappam maker) .
Spread a clean cloth on dehydrator plates. Squeeze the vadagam batter (see photo).
Close the lid and set it in high.
It may take 12 hours to dry.
Spray little water in the back of the cloth and peel the dried vadagams.
Keep on a clean dry plate and air dry for a day or continue drying in a dehydrator for another 6 hours.
Remove and store in airtight containers.

Serving suggestion:
Before serving, heat required oil in a wok. Deep fry the vadagams in small batches.
It fries very quickly. Take out and place on kitchen paper towels.
Serve as side dish (like papads / appalam) along with sambar rice or any rice.
The fries are served as snack also.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Chicken noodle soup

Recently I bought this cookery book, "From Mama's table to mine"  by Mr. Bobby Deen in a nearby dollar store. He is the son of my beloved celebrity chef, Ms. Paula Deen. The original price was $39 but it was on sale that day and I consider myself lucky to get it for a dollar. I love the way the recipes are modified for reduced calorie consumption with added nutrition. His recipes are focused on healthy foods without changing the taste.
This is one of the best books I have ever bought and one day I tried Bobby's chicken noodle soup. My version is a little more spicy and Indianized. But for more accuracy and his ingenious tips , one must definitely buy this book. I prepared this chicken noodle soup using the ingredients I had at hand. I love the way it turned out. To my surprise my hubby too likes it very much and asked me to keep a portion for his lunch box too. I am glad that I have learned something new and good.
Try this and let me know !

Chicken with bones - 1/2 lb (200 gm)
noodle - Top ramen 1 pack
chicken stock - 2 cups
olive oil - 1 tbsp
butter - 1 tbsp
bay leaf - 2
turmeric - 1/2 tsp
whole black pepper - 1 tbsp
cumin - 1 tsp
sea salt - to taste
red onion - 1
green chili - 2
garlic - 5 cloves
carrot - 1 (100 gm)
celery - 2 sticks
spring onion (scallion) - 2
cilantro - handful
tomato - 1 (100 gm)

Chop the carrot, celery , onion , garlic to small cubes. (I used Vidalia onion chopper for this step).
Mince the green chilies, cilantro, green onion.  Keep them all aside.
Chop the chicken to small cubes (1 inch size). I requested the butcher to chop the chicken for soup and got it absolutely right.

Heat oil + butter in a pressure cooker (3 liter or bigger).
Add bay leaf. Then goes the onion, garlic together. Saute in medium heat for 1 minute.
Then add all the chopped vegetables.
Saute till onion turns soft. Then add the chicken pieces, minced spring onion, cilantro, green chili.
Add crushed pepper + cumin , turmeric,  salt and saute everything together for 3 more minutes.
Add finely chopped tomato.
Pour the chicken stock (store bought). Bring to a boil.
Close the lid. Put on the pressure valve.
Cook for 5 whistles and switch off.
After the pressure reduces, open the lid.
Keep the flame at low.
Break a pack of noodles and add to the boiling soup.
Cook for 3 minutes or till noodles get cooked.
Switch off.
Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Chicken noodle soup is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Makes 4 to 5 servings.
Serve along with croutons or bread.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

How to make raisin from grapes ?

Homemade raisins and dry fruits are made possible by using an equipment called dehydrator. Dehydrators come handy when sun-drying process becomes almost impossible in some places. Also this method is more hygienic (no dust) and convenient too. In India, sundried foods are prepared during summer and it is like a family event in many homes :) Still I remember how I used to enjoy making vadagams (papad), vatral etc along with my amma and her friends. I will make a separate post for that soon. Sundried papads made in open terraces in India are really hygienic (as people handle it with utmost care), environment friendly and lot of fun to prepare too.  But many of us in the cold countries have to trust a dehydrator to preserve the homegrown vegetables, herbs and fruits. The power consumption of dehydrators should not discourage anyone from using it. Because the absence of chemicals in manufacturing process justifies that cost and also the power cost is negligible. Here is an interesting page on cost of dehydrated food.
Though I was amazed at the possibilities of using a dehydrator at home, I never thought of buying one, till I saw it on sale in ALDI last year. I got this for less than $ 14 and I am delighted with that purchase, because I have used this many times to make delicious raisins, vadagams and dried vegetables (vatral) .

The dehydrator from ALDI and the raisin I made in that.
Homemade cloth base for dehydrator plates
Raisins made in dehydrator

store it in airtight container at room temperature.

Kesari made using homemade raisin

Seedless grapes - 1 kg

The dehydrator is an equipment (see photo), that would have a heating coil at the base and some plates with holes stacked above it. The center hole and the holes in the plate facilitates the hot air circulation.
I covered the plates using a new thin cotton cloth and cut out the center holes for aeration. But that is not necessary, if the grapes are larger.
First rinse the grapes thoroughly (thrice or more times). Remove the stems.
Pat dry using a clean cloth.
Place on all the plates of the dehydrator (evenly spaced).
Arrange the plates over the coil.
Switch on at maximum heat.
It may take nearly 2 to 3 days for drying the grapes to a hard stage.
I always run the dehydrator when I am at home and switch it off while sleeping. But many people run it continuously and it gets dried in 24 hours for them.
Finally place all the dried raisins in a single plate and continue drying for 6 more hours if needed.
Dry it till it turns more harder than store bought to ensure longevity (as we are not adding any chemicals to preserve them).

Before we use it any recipe (raw) we can soak a handful of raisin in few tsp of water and puff them in microwave. It will get the same softness like store bought.
I use this in many desserts, oats and fruit cake.
Making raisins is a good way to turn sour grapes to sweeter ones.
Buy the organic grapes (optional) during season at a lesser price and enjoy perfect raisins throughout the year.
yields : 2 cups raisins