Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kolhapuri Dalicha ZuNka

Although, this recipe from Kolhapur may remind you of Gujarati Amiri Khaman and Marathi MokLi/Vatli DaaL, this Kolhapuri specialty still tastes different.

Kolhapuri DaaLicha ZuNka
को ल्हा पु री   डा ळी चा   झु ण का
Chana Daal Mash from Kolhapur
1 cup chana daal (Soak for 4 hours)
salt to taste

5-7 Garlic cloves
3-4 Green Chilies
 A pinch of salt

1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 sprigs curry leaves, torn

1. Drain the chana daal. Grind coarsely adding salt. Set aside. Remember not to grind it too finely.
2. Grind chilies, garlic and salt to a coarse paste.
3. Heat oil in a nonstic kadai/wok.
4. Add the ingredients for tempering.
5. As the mustard seeds splutter, add chili-garlic paste. Saute for 2 minutes on medium heat.
6. Now add ground daal. Keep on sauteing sprinkling water from time to time.
7. Cover and let it cook,  making sure that daal does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle more water if needed.
8. After the daal is cooked, switch the gas off. Cover and let it stand for at least 10 minutes.
9. Serve as an accompaniment with chapati as a part of a meal.

Note -
1. I have reduced the amount of oil. So I have to sprinkle water from time to time to prevent daal from sticking. If you add more oil, this step may not be required.
2. Since this ZuNka tends to get dry after cooked, make sure to include some yogurt based salad/koshimbeer with the meal.
3. I use the leftovers to make Daal ke Kababs/Burger.
4. This ZuNka has a distinct garlicky flavor. If you do not like it, reduce the amount of garlic.
5. Generally, green chilies and garlic are pounded using a stone mortar and pestle.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Strawberry Plant

Our very first strawberry!

Gudiya wanted to plant strawberries this year. So here it is. :-D

Never knew that juicy red strawberries would have white flowers! "That's so weird!!" - Gudiya says. Well, these days, that's her expression for pretty much everything!!;-D

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Banana Chips/wafers - my way

I think I created microwave potato chips after flipping through the pages of a health magazine. (don't remember exactly which one but could be cooking light or Prevention?) Ever since, this is how I make potato chips to be served with my burger. Last time when I used Yukon gold potato, it had a nice yellow hue. Gudiya thought that they were banana chips. and hearing that I thought to myself, why not try to make banana chips in the microwave?

So here's what I did that worked for us.

Banana Chips/Wafers
1 raw plantain, peeled & cut into uniformly thin slices
Cooking spray such as Pam

Salt to taste

1. Peel and cut plantain into thin slices. Uniformly thin slices is they key to achive the desired result.
2. Spray the cooking spray over microwaveable round plate.
3. Place the plantain chips around the circumference of the plate. Spray again over the chips

4. Microwave for 3 minutes.
5. Check that the chips are not getting burnt. Microwave again for 2 more minutes total - by adding 30 seconds gradually. (that means increment cooking time every 30 seconds 4 times)

6. Check for doneness. Let it stand in the microwave for 1 minute.
7. Place in a container. Sprinkle salt and shake.
8. Keep aside for 2 minutes and serve the crispy snack.

Note -
1. Do not keep the raw plantain chips at the center of the plate as they will get burnt fast.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tarbuj Rose Sharbat (1)

I got introduced to this Watermelon-Rose syrup combo after my marriage. My MIL makes two types of these watermelon-rose drinks especially on the hot, sweltering summer days in India.

Tarbuj Rose Sharbat (1)
Watermelon-Rose Syrup Drink
A small chunk of watermelon, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tsp rose syrup per glass
Ice-cold water

1. Place bite sized watermelon pieces in tall serving glasses.
2. Pour Rose syrup per glass.
3. Pour ice cold water and stir.
4. Serve immediately with a tall spoon and a straw.

Note -
1. Garnish with mint if desired.
2. You can use a melon scooper to make small watermelon balls.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kirby Cucumber Plant

Kirby Cucumber

Gudiya loves to feel those rough bumps on the newly harvested cucumbers. When we harvested our cute kirbies last weekend, they were really very sweet to taste. When I read the Wiki for this plant, I came to know that cucumbers originated in India. I learn something new every day!

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Chives Daal

Once I had gone with my friend to visit her grandmother. My friend's aaji's house was near Pune. For lunch, aaji had made delicious daalichi amti. One unique thing that I noticed immediately was that the aamti was flavored with olya kaandyachi paat or spring onion greens. It was so different and delicious. Aaji had a little garden in her backyard and she shared that she would add the fresh herbs to the daily daal and each herb added its own unique flavor.

My friend's aaji's Daal was my inspiration when I decided to add chives from my backyard to my daily daal. Chives has a mild flavor - kind of a cross between garlic and onion. So it worked perfectly with my daal.

Chives Daal
Daily Daal with Chives
3/4 cup toor daal
1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
1 tsp jaggery
salt to taste

2 tsp oil
4-5 fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp minced chives greens
1/2 tbsp goda masala
1/2 tsp paprika
1. Pressure cook toor daal and keep aside
2. Heat oil in a saucepan.
3. Add all the seeds. Add garlic cloves and chives greens. Saute for few minutes. Now add goda masala and paprika. Saute again for 1 minute.
4. Add  cooked & mashed toor daal & water as needed to adjust the desired consistency.
5. Now add salt, tamarind and jaggery. Bring to boil.
6. Switch gas to low and let it simmer - stirring in between - for at least 10 minutes.
7. Garnish with more chives greens if you like.

1. Do not make this daal watery.
2. Similar daal can be made using garlic greens or onion greens.
3. As a variation, you can add mixed daals instead of using just toor daal.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Origami Dosa? - Mysore Masala Dosa

Mysore Masala Dosa with Tomato Methamba, Garlic Curry Hummus, Green Chutney & Sambar

This is my husband's most favorite dosa. I like to call it "Origami Dosa" as you gently fold the crisp dosa right on the tawa. Generally green or red chutney (depending on the restaurant you visit) is smeared inside. A dollop of potato masala is added. If you want a special touch, you can fry the dosa using ghee to make sumptuous "Ghee Mysore Masala Dosa".

Since I wanted to take a picture for my blog, I went a little overboard and served my Mysore masala dosa with four accompaniments. However, I must confess that, generally I serve it with just sambar and green chutney.

Mysore Masala Dosa
South Indian Crepe with Potato Mash - Mysore style
1 recipe Dosa Batter
1 recipe Potato Masala/masala doshyachi bhaaji
1 recipe any chutney of your choice

Oil or Ghee/clarified butter to toast

Suggested Accompaniments
Hotel Sambar

1. Heat nonstick pan/tawa.
2. Add a ladleful of batter and spread it quickly to make a big circle.
3. Drizzle some oil or ghee - if using around the dosa edges. Cover. Let it cook on the medium heat.
4. Lift the cover. If the dosa seems to be cooked, smear the green chutney all over.
5. Add a dollop of potato masala in the center.
6. By now the edges of the dosa around the circumference should be crisp and almost curling up.
7. This is the indicator that the dosa is ready to be folded.
8. With a wooden spatula, fold all the three sides - one at a time - to form a perfect triangle.
9. Serve it on the serving plate so the folds are not visible.
10. Serve with sambar and chutney of your choice.

Note -
1. You can also smear ghee/clarified butter before smearing chutney to make it richer in taste.
2. After dosa is made, I always clean the nonstick pan with a clean towel to get rid of all the crumbs or marks.
3. Sometimes instead of smearing any wet chutney, I smear Molgapodi, pudi chutney or any dry chutney of your choice. Just make sure that the chutney is not too watery.
4. These days, instead of using coconut in the chutneys, I have started using garbanzo beans from the can.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Boriya re Boriya re!!

Boriya re...

If you are thinking that I am going to start singing in the tune of "Goriya re..." song, you are actually right!!:-D

I am in the mood of celebration after my boriya plant got these cute little babies. I just threw some seeds from the boriya chilies from my pantry. Many of my friends mistook them for the Mexican habanero peppers. But they are our very own boriya chilies.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Kolhapuri Suke Chicken - Dry Chicken Curry

I was blessed to eat this wonderful chicken preparation made my friend's mother in law.

Serve this regional delicacy with Ghadichya Polya.

Kolhapuri Suka Chicken
Chicken Dry Curry
1.1 lb or 1/2 kg boneless, skinless chicken, cut into pieces
salt to taste

Grind to paste
2" Ginger, Peeled & chopped
4 - 6 cloves garlic, peeled
2-3 green chilies (more or less per heat)

Grind to paste
*18 cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours

Mix together
*Cashew paste from soaked & drained cashews
2 tbsp heavy cream/malai/saay

2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped tomato
1 tbsp Kolhapuri Masala/chutney (Add more or less based on your preference)

1 tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped

Suggested Accompaniment
Ghadichya Polya
Lemon & onion wedges

1. Marinate chicken with ginger-green chili-garlic paste. Mix and refrigerate till ready to use.
2. Whisk cashew paste with cream and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a kadai. Add turmeric powder and onion. Saute till onion is soft.
4. Add tomatoes. Saute till they are pulpy.
5. Now add Kolhapuri masala. Saute for 5 minutes.
6. Now add marinated chicken. Saute adding sprinkles of water from time to time till the chicken is cooked.
7. Add salt to taste, cashew and cream mixture.
8. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Switch off the gas and cover with a lid till ready to use.
9. Garnish with cilantro just before serving.

Note -
1. Check if Kolhapuri masala has salt in it and adjust salt accordingly.
2. If you do not have Kolhapuri masala, use 1 1/2 tsp garam masala and 1 tsp paparika and 1/2 tsp spicy chili powder.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bell Peppers Plant

Bell Peppers from Summer 2012

I had planted "baby" bell peppers variety in 2009 to get baby bell peppers to make my mom's bharli mirchi/stuffed bell peppers. This time, I have planted regular variety of bell peppers. We got freshest and juiceist bell peppers from our garden patch. Gudiya wanted to sink her teeth in those beauties like we would eat crunchy apples.  After all, bell peppers are her most favorite veggies. :-D

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tomatillo Plant

 Tomatillo plant with 3 tomatillos

I remember picking tomatillo thinking them as green tomatoes from my grocery stores, many years ago. I had never seen green tomatoes on the plant before. So I assumed that they come in this papery covers! After coming home, I had realized that they were not green tomatoes. I had used them in making chutneys and saar.

Now, I do know how they can be used. So this year I planted them in my veggie patch. Frankly, I am little worried because I think I can see hundreds (I am not exaggerating!) yellow flowers. I am not sure what I will do when they all bear fruit? I think I will make roasted tomatillo salsa and distribute to everyone I know!!:-D

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Chives Plant

Chives Plant with its beautiful bloom

I always wanted to plant the seeds in my own vegetable patch. After doing the container gardening for ages, finally, last year I found two neglected patches under two of our windows. I decided to use them for my veggie garden. So I used one patch (the patches are really tiny!) for the herbs garden and the other for vegetable garden. I grew snake gourds, okra, bitter gourds last year. For my herb garden, I planted chives, Italian Oregano, Turmeric leaves, Lemon grass, basil and chilies.

Well, as summer turned to fall and fall to winter, I had to bid goodbye to my veggie patch. Both the patches were covered with snow in the winter and as spring arrived again, I saw lots of weeds and grass. So one spring morning, I set out to clean up those weeds. After cleaning up those, I was shocked to see that there were chives, basil , oregano and few shoots of turmeric leaves. I didn't know that they all would be back again. I felt like meeting my long lost friends. It was a pleasant surprise indeed.

I am still doing the container gardening. But I have planted Japanese eggplants, tomatoes, White eggplants, bell pepper and tomatillo in my veggie patch. Along with the immortal herbs that came back, I have also planted some fennel and chilies. I will share my gardening escapades with you all.

I am sharing my chives plant today.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Vegan Shevyachi Kheer

My Vegan co-worker wants to learn some Indian cooking with me. So I am trying to veganize some of my recipes. Before we actually cook together, I would like to make those dishes, taste them, take notes and be confident that they would work for my friend. So this is my first attempt at making a Vegan dessert by replacing milk with non-dairy milk.

When thinking about Vegan Indian desserts - without tweaking anything - I can think of Puran PoLi and Ukadiche Modak which are totally vegan. Of course they are served with clarified butter/toop/ghee, but if you hold that off, these are vegan desserts. But I don't think that we have that much time to make Puran PoLi or Modak. So I thought of tweaking my Shevyachi Kheer recipe.

I went to the Whole Foods to check out the "non-dairy" milk. There were plenty of options which made me dizzy. Rice Milk, Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Hemp Milk, Oats Milk. Finally I decided to use "Almond Milk" thinking we use almond slivers in many Indian desserts so it may work ok.

When I tried the recipe, I was pleasantly surprised to see the result. I was feeling a bit adventurous that day so instead of sugar, I used "Agave Nectar".

Vegan Shevyachi Kheer
Vegan Vermicelli Pudding
1/2 cup roasted vermicelli
3 cups almond milk
2 tbsp agave nectar (or sugar if you desire)

Crush to powder
3-4 Green Cardamoms, peeled

1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, roast vermicelli lightly on a low flame.
2. Add almond milk. Bring to boil while stirring continuously.
3. Add agave nectar or sugar and crushed cardamom powder.
4. Simmer for few minutes.
5. Serve warm.

Note -
1. If made too much in advance, vermicelli may soak up all the almond milk. In that case, add some more almond milk and adjust agave nectar/sugar accordingly.
2. You can use more agave/sugar if you want your kheer to be sweeter.
3. I like to keep some liquid in my kheer. But if you want you can decrease the amount of almond milk and make thick pudding.
4. If you like, you can also add some raisins and almond slivers. Roast them before roasting sevya and let them plump up in the almond milk.
5. 1 tsp sugar =  1 1/4 tsp Agave Nectar. So use it accordingly.
6. For making Indian desserts, I buy vermicelli from the local Indian stores.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Annakoot Food Truck, Berkeley

Paratha Wrap, Pakora Boat and Annakoot Menu Card

We had spent our day at Golden Gate Park. We visited serene Japanese Tea Garden. We went to see D' Young Museum. We went on their observatory desk to see the view of the beautiful San Fransisco. California Academy of Sciences was next on the list. As we came out, we saw a group of people doing their Tai Chi exercises. All of a sudden, true to San Francisco weather, there was a light drizzle. The weather was getting chillier. After walking so much, we were getting hungry. "This weather calls for a cup of Masala Chai and Onion bhujiyas....but....that's impossible" - I said to my husband. "or is it?" - He pointed to an Indian Food Truck - Annakoot which was parked right there under the Eucalyptus trees.

I couldn't believe our good fortune. We had not had our lunch. so it was a perfect time. They really had a unique menu. I was surprised to see  even "Konkani Shrimp Curry". My husband encouraged me to try it but I didn't want to eat something that I can eat all the time. So we ordered Pakora boat and Paratha Wrap with masala chai. Pakoras were made with potatoes, onions, spinach, methi and cauliflower. They were crispy and crunchy. They were served in a little paper basket, drizzled with sweet-sour tamarind chutney and spicy green chutney. They were just perfect for this weather. Paratha wrap was Indianized burrito with rice, chicken tikka, salad, chutneys all wrapped inside a paratha. We loved this food. I have happily crowned San Francisco as the food capital of the United States.

Berkeley, CA

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kamut Chiwda

Due to my zany ways of cooking, I sometimes find myself picking different ingredients even without thinking. I figure out later how to use them later. When I picked "Kamut Cereal" from the Whole Foods, I had no idea that they will turn into Chiwda. Well, I imagine myself on the "Chopped" show and let the ingredients be my guide.

Kamut Chiwda
Kamut Trail Mix
1 pkt Kamut Cereal
salt to taste
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp MetkooT

1/4 cup oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 sprig curry leaves, torn
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup puffed chana daal/Pandharpuri DaLe
2 tbsp raisins

1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
2. Add mustard seeds, turmeric powder, asafoetida and curry leaves.
3. As they sizzle, add peanuts, daaLe and raisins along with chili powder.
4. Fry till they appear crisp. Add metkooT and fry for 1 minute.
5. Stir in Kamut, salt and sugar.
6. Fry on low flame till the kamut is coated with masala.
7. Let it cool down. Store in an airtight container.

Note -
1. I generally use less oil than the recipe requires. Even though 1/4 cup oil is more than my usual spoonful of oil, it is needed so the masala coats the cereal. If you want, you can spread some paper napkins on a big plate and pour cooked chiwda on it to absorb extra oil before adding to the airtight container.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rainbow Chard Bhaaji

I use Rainbow Chard regularly in my American kitchen. It's easily available at the supermarket. It is very beautiful to look at as each leaf has a different color. and most importantly, this leafy greens does not have any strong, unique flavor or rough texture. So it can be used in any recipe without any issue. I was planning to make bhaaji very similar to Shepu chi bhaaji that I had blogged earlier. However, as all homecooks know, we change, twist, tweak the recipes based on the ingredients available in the pantry. So I changed this recipe very slightly. You can follow exactly same recipe as Shepu chi bhaaji for a variation.

Rainbow Chard chi Bhaaji
1 bunch rainbow chard, rinsed, chopped
1/4 cup yellow moong daal, soaked for 2-3 hours
salt to taste
2 tbsp roasted unsalted peanuts powder/daaNyache kooT
1 tbsp roasted sesame powder (Optional)

2 tsp oil
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1. Soak moong daal for 2-3 hours. Drain.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan/kadai. Add garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add onion and turmeric powder. Saute till onion is soft.
3. Now add drained moong daal. Saute for 2 minutes.
4. Add chopped chard. Stir fry. Sprinkle some water drops.
5. Cover with a lid. Pour water on the lid. Let it cook. Check from time to time to make sure that the bhaaji is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle few drops of water if needed to prevent burning or sticking.
6. When bhaaji is cooked and wilted, add peanut powder, salt and sesame powder if using.
7. Saute till there is no water. Serve hot with chapati or bhakri.

Note -
1. Every moong daal grain should be seen and it should not be a mush.
2. Regular red or green chard can also be used. I prefer rainbow chard since it has many colors.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cilantro Hummus

I love hummus but I wanted a recipe without adding too much tahini. So I used to make hummus without adding tahini but it used to be thick and dryish. This issue was resolved when I came across Rip Esselstyn's Engine 2 Diet recipe for hummus. [ I watched it on a DVD]  Rip advises of using a can of garbanzo beans along with its liquid and grind it to make hummus. I followed that method and added my own twists to make this Cilantro Hummus. [ I have also made Curry Hummus, Roasted Bell Pepper Hummus, Sun-Dried tomato hummus using the same method]

This hummus also goes well with sliced bread to make sandwiches or even with dosa and idli if you like.

Cilantro Hummus
Inspired by Rip Esselstyn's Hummus Recipe
1 can organic garbanzo beans
salt to taste
1 cup cilantro
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, freshly squeezed or as needed
2 green chilies (optional)

1. Grind all the ingredients together.
2. Serve as an accompaniment with pita or as a spread/dip with dosa, idli, sliced bread etc.

Note -
1. You can use the same basic recipe and instead of cilantro, add mint, roasted bell pepper, curry powder, sun dried tomato etc to make variations.

Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ruta Kahate's Quick-Fix Indian - A Book Review

When Barbara @Andrews McMeal Publications asked me if I would like to review a new Indian book "Quick-Fix Indian: Easy, Exotic Dishes in 30 Minutes or Less by Ruta Kahate, I accepted the offer very happily. After all, I love to read cookbooks like storybooks. They are even my own bedtime books. So I was happy to receive a new book. In a few weeks, I received the book by mail.

Ms. Ruta Kahate is a best selling author of "5 spices, 50 dishes". She ran a cooking school in california. She loved to make everything from scratch. But when her two daughters were born , she wanted to tweak the recipes and make them simpler. That's when she discovered her own shortcuts and convenient techniques.  Ruta provides a shopping list for a well stocked pantry for a busy homecook.

All the recipes of this book are quick and easy to follow (Instant Biryani, anyone?) Of course Ruta admits that this isn't 2 minute Biryani recipe but the overall time is substantially reduced and hence it's relatively "instant".

I tried her pickled cucumber recipe which we enjoyed.

If you ask me what I had wished more from this book? then my answer would be some colored photographs would have made this book more vibrant.

Pickled Cucumber Salad
From Quick Fix Indian - Easy, Exotic dishes in 30 minutes or less by Ruta Kahate
2 medium cucumbers, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 medium green Serrano chilies, deseeded, chopped into thin rounds
1 tbsp minced cilantro
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp sugar

1. Slice cucumbers and carrots in thin rounds
2. Mix all the ingredients using your fingers.
3. Let it sit in the refrigerator at least for 10 minutes before serving.

Quick Fix Indian - Easy, Exotic dishes in 30 minutes or les by Ruta Kahate
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