Thursday, December 27, 2018

Merry Christmas

Wishing all a Merry Christmas !

Click to view my Christmas video

Christmas tree and Christmas village with Nativity scene in our house

Chicken briyani with fish fry for Christmas lunch

click to see my Fruit cake  recipe.

After baking first cake for this year Christmas 

Cake offering to Holy Family !

Santa 's visit 

Nativity scene I put together

Cake for Santa , fruits and veggies for Reindeers. ...on the Christmas eve.

Setting up Baby Jesus inside Nativity scene before going to Christmas mass.

My hubby's gifts to me : Corelle 6oz dessert bowl set and Pioneer Woman electric kettle , my favorites ! Love !

Christmas Tree and Nativity scene

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sweet n spicy Milagai bajji

Milagai - green chili (any variety) ; Bajji - pakora / fried spicy snack of India.

In USA , most us cannot get the real Indian bajji milagai (a bigger version of green chili without any hot chili taste, but smells like one). So we use Jalapeno peppers to prepare pakora / bajji.  Jalapenos are really HOT when compared to Indian bajji peppers.
Nowadays I am seeing these lesser spicy peppers - Cubanelle peppers, in the nearby Asian grocery store. So I prepared a sweet and hot bajji as a variation and we love it very much. My mom used to put some tomato ketchup inside the bajji milagai before dipping it in besan batter, as I was not a fan of spicy foods in my early ages. So I always crave for that sweet touch to spicy dishes till now.
Here I have used a 'Thai sweet chili sauce' instead of ketchup and in my view the chili flavor in that sauce enhances the taste of the bajji.

Try this and I am sure everyone will like it.

Ingredients : 
Non spicy long peppers (Bajji milagai) - 8
Besan flour (kadalai mavu) - 3/4 cup
dosa batter - 1/4 cup
(or) rice flour - 2 tbsp
salt - to taste
red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
hing (asafoetida)- 1/8 tsp
baking soda - 1/2 tsp
garlic - 2 pieces (finely ground)
ajwain (omam / bishop weed) - 1/4 tsp 

oil - to deep fry (250 ml)
Thai chili sauce - 1 tsp per chili
Cubanelle pepper tastes just like Indian Bajji milagai (not spicy).
Ingredients for bajji
I used Sweet chilli sauce from Asian store.
Remove seeds after slitting the pepper.
Apply a little sweet chilli sauce inside the peppers.
Dip them one by one in bajji batter
Fry them in medium heat, both sides.
Take out, drain oil by placing over a kitchen paper towel.
Fried capsicum bajji is ready ! Serve hot !
Cut them into 2 or 3 slices before serving (optional).

Rinse the peppers. Slit the bottom of the pepper carefully (without cutting it in half) and remove all the seeds.  
Scoop a tsp of 'sweet chili sauce' inside the peppers.

Grind the garlic and ajwain to a fine paste with 1 tsp water. Mix all the above (except oil, sauce) along with 1/4 cup water to a thick batter. Add more water if needed, but keep the batter like thick idly batter ,otherwise the bajjis will absorb more oil. 

Heat oil in a wok. Before it gets smoky hot, reduce flame and keep in medium flame.

Dip the Chili peppers in the batter and put it on the hot oil.  Do not clutter. Flip and fry both sides. Drain oil and take out.

Sweet Milagai bajji / fritter is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Cut these big fried bajji into two or three pieces and serve (easy to bite).
Serve hot as snack along with hot coffee or tea during rainy / winter season.
Tomato ketchup is a good side dish

*It is always a good idea to make onion bajji or some other bajji along with capsicum bajji , for guests, as everyone can't accept the spiciest bajjis.
 *Instead of stuffing the bajji with 'Thai sweet chili sauce' before frying, we can scoop some after frying too. Thereby we can avoid soggy bajjis, if served after some time.
*The batter should be prepared fresh to avoid excess oil absorption (that means leaving it in room temperature will make it sour soon). Refrigeration for same day use is ok.

Enjoy my other bajjis also:) 
Sweet bajji
Vazhaikkai (plantain) bajji
Potato bajji
Cauliflower bajji
Onion bajji
Kathirikkai bajji
Check out my authentic milagai bajji recipe.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Happy Dussara !

Happy Pooja celebrations and Dussarah !

WOW ! I love this cute bouquet along with our indoor plants !

Our wedding anniversary:  My hubby's gifts for me : Carrot cake and flowers

multi color channa sundal

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sweet coconut Mothagam (using steamer basket)

kolukattai - Indian rice dumplings , usually stuffed with sweet stuffings. The kolukattai goes by the name of the stuffing inside. Jaggery (Indian brown sugar) mixed with either channa dal or shredded coconut or dry fruits or any other creative ingredient is called pooranam (core). The outer layer is made of one ingredient , the rice flour. But the outer layer preparation needs little more skill, experience and dedication (LOL).  After many experimentations I have found the fool-proof way to prepare the rice flour and that's nothing but the old way, and I have given it below.

The thengai kolukattai (coconut stuffing), is the most common and easy one.

I usually steam cook the kolukattai using a idli steaming vessel. But this time I used my rice cooker's steamer basket and got better results. The kolukattais steamed in an electric rice cooker are more softer, they could hold the shape very nicely (without cracks).  The uniform release of steam has made that possible, I guess.

Anyways try this and enjoy a yummy snack.

Kolukattai prepared using rice cooker's steam basket

(For 15 mothagam)
Pooranam (sweet stuffing):
shredded coconut - 3/4 cup
besan flour - 2 tbsp (optional)
crushed jaggery - 3/4 cup
cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Outer layer for mothagam:
rice flour - 1 1/2 cup
water - 3 cup
salt - 1/2 tsp
coconut oil - 1 tbsp

Step 1. Outer layer:
Take the rice flour in a pan.
Dry roast it in a dry pan to loose all the moisture.
Add water, oil , salt to the flour so that it becomes like a thick dosa batter.
Now heat the mixture in very low flame and stir continuously, till we get a thick transparent rice dough.
Take off heat and let it cool.

Step 2: Pooranam preparation:
Shred a coconut and keep it handy (3/4 cup shredded coconut). I used frozen shredded coconut, which I had bought from Indian grocery store.
Add 1/4 cup water to the crushed jaggery and heat it, so that the jaggery dissolves completely. (I use soft North Indian style jaggery).
Using a strainer, filter the jaggery solution leaving behind the sediments.
Add the jaggery solution to the shredded coconut and start heating it with frequent stirring.
Stir the sweet mixture till it becomes manageable.
Add besan flour and cardamom. Stir till it becomes thick.
(Adding besan flour is optional, but it makes the job easy).
Sweet coconut Pooranam is ready.

Step 3:
Now take a small ball of rice dough, flatten it on an oiled / wet  plastic sheet.
Put one scoop of sweet pooranam over the rice disc. Fold and make it like a ball.  
(Fold it to semi circle shape if we are using a somas mould). 
Place it inside a kolukattai mold and press to get required shape.
Arrange them all inside the steamer basket (or idli plates if using idli vessel).

Step 4:
Using steamer basket for mothagam preparation:
Switch ON the rice cooker with 2 cups of water.
Set it to steam cooking mode. Place the steamer basket as per instruction.
Arrange the mothagams and cook in steam for 15 minutes.
Let cool for few minutes, take out and enjoy !

Coconut mothagam is ready!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Caramelized peach

If you love extremely quick processes, then this 'quick dessert' is going to be in your good books forever.
I made this for a simple dinner when our Amalraj anna visited us. Summer is the peach season after 'mango time' here. It comes around 99 cents/lb - $ 2.99 / lb  depending upon the store. I wanted to make some dessert with seasonal fruits on that day. So I bought some 3 medium size peaches from stop and shop. Preparation is the key to any dinner. So I had cut the fruit and kept it handy  in fridge and started cooking while serving the dinner.  I made this in low heat in my cast iron skillet (which is my new favorite toy) . I got it from camping section of Walmart (3 various sized skillet set for $9 in their roll back savings offer price). I felt very happy to see how much anna love it. The hot caramelized peach served with homemade mango ice cream and store bought hagen dazs caramel ice cream became the center of attraction on that day.  
Saute' the peach slices in butter.

Cooking the peach slices with butter , brown sugar, cinnamon powder.

Cook in low heat till caramelized (say 10 mins).

My lil menu planning board 

Mint Lemon juice, onion uthappam, coconut chutney, sambar, Poori, kilangu, caramel peach with icecream.

Caramelized peach with mango ice cream and hagen dazs caramel ice cream.

Peach (ripe) - 2
Brown sugar - 4 tbsp
butter - 2 tbsp
cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp

Wash and slice the peaches into long wedges.
Discard the seed.
Heat butter in a thick bottom skillet or vessel.
Arrange all the peach pieces and cook for 5 minutes in low heat.
Turn over. Spread the brown sugar, cinnamon powder and cook till the sugar gets caramelized (flavorful and brown color). 
Caramelized peach is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Serve HOT along with any ice cream of your choice.

This dessert can be traditionally prepared in oven too. But the above said method is quicker.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Kadaai chukka paneer

Stir fried paneer (Indian cheese) with capsicum and peas.

Most of us wish for something extra special for a Friday dinner and this recipe would definitely fit the bill. This Friday I made my own version of kadaai paneer, which is one of the most favorites for hubby and myself. In my view, this dish should take very less time to prepare, but would give a gorgeous look. 

Kadaai paneer came in to our kitchen, only after we tasted it in a restaurant (Data Udipi hotel) in Chennai after our marriage. As we both are from typical south Tamilnadu, our foods wouldn't have much of garam masala or strong spices. Sambar, dal , chutney, idli, dosa, vada are our specialties along with occasional non veg.  So these kind of flavorful north Indian dishes became more appetizing for us (especially when it comes to vegetarian foods). I started preparing them as close to the restaurant version after that.
Nowadays kadaai paneer takes a more liquid form, while in those days it resembled like a chukka fry (dry curry). So here is my own version of early style kadaai paneer.

Ingredients: (for 2 generous servings)
Paneer - 150 gm (cubed into small pieces)
red onion - 1 small (chopped)
red / green capsicum - half (sliced)
green peas - handful
tomato - 1 (vine tomato / country variety)
peanut oil - 2 tbsp
fennel - 1 tsp
butter 1 tbsp
salt - to taste
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
coriander powder - 1 tbsp
garam masala - 1 tsp
ginger - 1 inch , garlic - cloves (crushed together)
To garnish:
chopped cilantro - 2 tbsp
finely chopped green chili - 2
Special vessel needed :
A thick iron kadaai (or) wok (or) any heavy bottom pan.

Heat oil in a heavy bottom vessel.
Add fennel, after it gets red, add chopped onion.
Stir fry it till it gets soft (not red).
Pound the ginger garlic together in a mixer or hand mortar & pestle.
Add the crushed ginger garlic mixture and stir fry for few seconds to remove raw smell.
Then add finely chopped tomato , pinch of salt.
Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, cumin powder, salt. 
Cook covered in low heat.
Cook this till oil separates.
Microwave and cook the green peas with a tbsp of water.
Then add sliced capsicum, cooked green peas. Saute well. 
Meanwhile heat butter in a tempering wok (kadaai).
Cube the paneer.
Saute the paneer pieces all at once , till they turn soft and golden.
Pour this to the prepared masala. Stir well and bring it to a dry curry consistency.
Switch off , garnish with chopped green chili, cilantro and serve hot.
Kadaai sukka paneer is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with any kind of roti, chapati, naan.
Also goes well with cumin rice, brinji rice or plain ghee rice.

Calorie calculation:
30 gm paneer (5 big pieces) - 90 cal.
This is a calorie rich dish.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Zucchini pasta

Zucchini noodles or zoodles has become a favorite for many people nowadays. I started thinking about it a lot after my sweet friend Raji told me that it tastes great and that's a low calorie food. I said to myself, 'if she says that, then that's correct'.
Then last year during the Thanksgiving sales, I got a cuisinart food processor as gift from my hubby and this spiralizing  attachment came along with that. Cuisinart's sprilaizing attachment is more user friendly (but expensive). I got it along with  13 cup food processor for $99 + free shipping from costco,  while the original price on other days is over $149.
When it comes to zoodles, I would say that it is as much satisfying as a flour based noodle. Pasta is not my childhood food, so my taste buds agree more with this plant based pasta. Hubby and myself like this very much. Whenever I prepare this, I would prepare some chicken kebab too and that's our favorite.
Hope you all like it too !

Zucchini - 2
garlic - 3 cloves
Extra virgin olive oil - 2 tbsp
salt - to taste
crushed red chili pepper - 1/2 tsp
Ragu sauce (old world style) or any pasta sauce - 1/4 cup

Spiralize the zucchini into spaghetti shape noodles. I used Cuisinart food processor's spiralizing attachment. (If the zucchini is longer, cut it into two pieces and it would be easier to spiralize in cuisinart).
Heat olive oil in a wok.
Add crushed garlic, saut'e for few seconds to remove raw smell.
Then add the zucchini noodles.
Sautee it till it is semi cooked. Add required salt, crushed chili, tomato sauce / Ragu sauce.
Mix well.
Zucchini noodles / pasta is ready !

Serving suggestions:
Serve as dinner or lunch with side dish.
I made baked chicken kofta kebab along with this.

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...