Thursday, July 30, 2015

Vegetable Puffs

Puffs is a spicy pastry snack of India. The pastry sheets stuffed with various kinds of masala and named after the stuffing.

In my hometown , veg puffs is one of the most popular snack that can be bought only from bakeries. Though vadai, bajji and many other snacks are sold during the evening time by the street vendors, those bakeries would always be crowded with an affluent group of customers, who used to buy the best snacks for their kids (though the simple homemade vada is good for all, who listens...hi hi).  At that time, ovens were not this much prevalent in India. So buying a few puffs in the evening would be more handy and classy, if some guests had arrived. In my childhood, a bakery called 'Queens' in our neighborhood was very popular for their onion puffs, veg puffs, sweet puffs etc.

This is my younger brother's favorite and at one point of time, while returning from my job,  I used to get down one stop ahead in our NGO colony to buy these puffs to see his smile :)

Recently one day,I  bought a pack of these pastry sheets from Indian grocery stores and made these steaming hot along with ginger tea on a weekend. My hubby dear loves this absolutely very much and tells me to repeat every weekend :)

So try this and see a big smile on your love's faces!
Vegetable puffs - after baking !

Preparing the vegetable stuffing.

This is the puff pastry I bought

For calorie facts...Yes !

Thawing instructions.

Pastry sheets with stuffing

Fold the pastry squares into rectangles or triangles ....teach geometry to kids by this fun way too :)

Press the edges using a fork.

Puffs after baking ....

serve the piping hot veg puffs to your loved ones along with tea !

Pastry sheets - 4
red onion - 1
ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
oil - 2 tsp
fennel (sombu) -  1 tsp
tomato - 1
lemon juice - few drops (if needed only)
carrot , beans, peas - handful
salt - to taste
garam masala powder - 1 tsp
red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
green chilly - 1
minced cilantro, mint leaf - 1 tbsp

Thaw the pastry sheets as per direction.
I thawed them by leaving the pack in kitchen counter after lunch and it stayed there for almost 2 1/2 hours (as it was little cool on that day). But other than that follow the directions in the pack.

Heat oil in a wok. Add fennel and let it get red. Then add onion and saute till it get red. Then add the ginger garlic paste and saute. Then goes the finely chopped tomato. Let it wilt.
Put all the chopped vegetables, green chilly. Add the masala powders, salt.
Sprinkle a handful of water and cook covered. Then put the chopped mint and cilantro leaves. After it gets cooked, if necessary add lime juice. switch off. The stuffing is ready !

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F (10 mins).
Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and coat it with tsp of oil.
Keep the pastry sheets flat.
Put 2 tbsp filling (not too much) and fold as per taste.
Then using a fork, press the edges so that they close.
Coat the top with little butter or milk.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 400 deg F.
Take out when the upper crust seems mild red.
Vegetable puffs is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as tea time snack.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sapota Milkshake (low fat version)

Chikoo / sapota in Tamil / sapodilla is a  very commonly available and one of the beloved fruits in India. They will be in market since Jan till July. At that time this fruit will be available less expensive. The shopkeepers in my hometown will give the customers more than they pays for, as they would like to sell these quick ripening fruits quickly. In my childhood days, my mom's aunt (Rajathiraviyam aachi , my mom's father's sister and my dad's mom's sister), who lived in our neighborhood used to send us this sapota fruits in big baskets. That grandma's traditional house had two big sapota trees in the front yard. Those trees would bloom and give fruits at the same time, in very large quantity. So we would get a call from her around a weekend , when she had planned to arrange for a person to pick the fruits. That grandma adores girl children very much. She used to be very much attached to me and me to her :)  It was one of my most favorite places, as she would pet and would make my holidays the best.
After holidays, she and her friend (cum maid, another grandma we say) would make a big gift basket filled with eggs and cleaned whole chicken from her poultry farm and these yummy chikoo fruits. Whenever I buy some sapota fruit, I always remember my grandma and those sweet days :)

In US, I buy frozen sapota from Indian grocery stores. Here the fresh sapota is rare.  Even if I get fresh sapotas, they would take many days to ripen because of weather.

Here is a very delicious milkshake (low fat version), I make. This is my hubby dear's one of the most favorite drinks and he religiously reminds me to buy this frozen sapota fruits, on my grocery days.

Sapota fruit - 2 (medium size)
skimmed milk (or) any milk - 2 cups.
brown sugar - 2 tsp
cardamom powder - a pinch
crushed ice - as per need (2 tbsp heaped)

Boil the milk and let it cool completely. keep it cooler in fridge.
(In US, we can straightly use the cold milk from the can).
Remove the skin and seeds of sapota fruit.
In a mixie jar, add the fruit, sugar  cardamom powder and grind to a smooth paste.
Add the cold milk and run the mixie few seconds.
Add crushed ice and whisk a little.
Pour in your favorite juice glass and enjoy !

Serving suggestion:
Milkshakes are a great way to include more milk.
Serve milkshakes as fresh as possible.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Paruppu keerai / Spinach dal

'Spinach of any variety cooked with Thoor dal and tempered' is the one line recipe for today's post. I would like to share this for my readers who are in the beginning stages of cooking.
Here are some ways to make this recipe more simple.
1. South Indians always cook dal for sambar. So while pressure-cooking the dal for sambar , add a handful of more lentils (thuvaram paruppu) and save that cooked dal for this spinach.
2. Cooked dal can be kept in fridge upto 24 hours.
3. Thoor dal can be replaced with green gram lentil (pasi paruppu)

Paruppu keerai

Thoor dal (thuvaram paruppu) - 1/4 cup
(or) cooked dal - 1 cup
spinach - 1 bunch
oil / ghee - 1 tsp
mustard seed -  1/2 tsp
urid dal - 1/2 tsp
dry red chilly - 1
curry leaves - few
salt - as per taste.
shallot - 2 
cumin - 1/2 tsp

Pressure cook the dal with 1 cup water, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and hing a pinch.
(To cook the dal : Soak the dal in warm water for 10 minutes. In a pressure cooker , add these and wait for 1 whistle. After that reduce flame to minimum and cook for 8 minutes).
Clean the spinach and rinse well. Chop finely.
Heat oil / ghee in a wok. Add mustard, urid dal and let the mustard pop. Then add the finely chopped shallot, red chilly pieces, curry leaf and saute for a few seconds. Then add the chopped spinach.
Cook without closing. Add few tsp of water and add salt after the spinach has cooked completely.
Then add the cooked dal,  cumin and bring to a boil.
Switch off.
Spinach dal is ready!

Serving suggestion:
serve as side dish with any rice, chapati or as curry over rice with some ghee.

Menu suggestion:
If you have planned a menu on making paruppu rasam, ketti paruppu and this paruppu keerai along with rice, then  just pressure cook the thuvar dal and use the dal to make ketti paruppu and this spinach. While we can use the excess water in cooked dal to make rasam. By this way we can plan a simple and delicious quick meal. Try preparing potato fry along with this and make your family happier :)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dryfish fry (Karuvadu varuval)

Karuvadu - dry fish. This is one of my most favorites and I am sure anyone who likes this dry fish is going to love my recipe :)
Dried fish, which is a much less expensive food in Tamilnadu, is a very expensive one in USA. We can get it in any Asian / Chinese grocery stores. That too, dried sardine is the rare commodity here and it is devoured for its unique taste.
I grew up enjoying this dry fish thokku, along with paruppu kulambu (less spicy sambar) and rice. My mom used to make this on weekday dinners, if the veggie side dish she had made got over by lunch itself :) She used to make some egg podimas (scrambled egg) also along with this karuvadu thokku, as this is the favorite of few of us only, and this karuvadu would sound like feast to me !

dry fish thokku
Dry fish (sardine) - 6 or any dry fish - 150 gms
red onion - 1 big
green chilly -3
curry leaf - 2 sprigs
oil - 2 tbsp
salt - as per need
red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp

Clean the dry fish by removing any scales or fins. Soak in water and rinse well to remove any sand or impurities. Keep aside.
Chop red onion, curry leaf, chillies finely.
Heat oil in a wok (kadai) and put the dry fish, before the oil gets hot.
Then add the chopped items, as if it covers the dry fish completely. By this way, we can cook the dry fish without letting out the strong smell.
Reduce flame and sprinkle a handful of water.  Cook covered.
After 5 minutes, the fish would have got cooked. Now mix everything in wok, add salt, chilly powder , 2 tbsp water and cook covered for 5- 10 minutes in low flame, till the fish gets cooked completely.
Karuvadu thokku is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as sidedish or like pickle with sambar rice, rasam rice or curd rice.

Vazhaikkai Poriyal (Plantain stir fry)

This vazhaikai poriyal was a staple in our house as we had some (lot) of banana trees in our backyard. I have seen amma running there to pic...