Friday, November 21, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese with Tricolor Cauliflower

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

Sunday November 16, 2014 was a memorable day for me because of Niv (Panfusine), Siri (Cooking with Siri) and Radhika (Food for Seven Stages of Life).   We met at Niv's place on a cold, crisp, gorgeous afternoon.  I have met Niv once before and Radhika many time.  But I was super thrilled and excited to meet Siri.  Loved her bubbly and enthusiastic personality.  We had so much fun chatting and eating Mexican food.  Thank you gals for the wonderful time.

Now coming to the recipe, who needs introduction to this rich, cheesy, creamy and tasty any day comfort food.  Its super yummy and great for a Thanksgiving gathering.  I found some gorgeous purple and orange cauliflower at my local farmers market.  After using it in another dish, I tossed some left over florets in this recipe.  You can add any vegetable as you like.  Here is Siri's Mac and Cheese recipe.

Elbow macaroni - 2 cups, 16oz
Butter - 3 tbsp
All purpose flour - 3 tbsp
Milk - 3 cups, whole or 2 %
Grated sharp cheddar cheese - 2 cups
Grated Parmesan cheese - 1/4 cup
Ground black pepper - 1 tsp
Ground ginger - 1 tsp
Ground nutmeg - 1/2 tsp
Cauliflower florets - 2 cups, white, purple and orange, steam cooked
Salt - 1/2 tsp

For the crust topping:
Panko bread crumbs - 3/4 cup
Dried basil - 1 tsp
Dried oregano - 1 tsp
Cayenne pepper - 1/2 tsp
Butter - 1 tbsp, room temperature

  1. Wash and steam cook the cauliflower florets until tender.
  2. Boil the pasta according to package instructions.  Reduce two minutes of cooking time as it will cook further while baking.  Drain and keep t aside.
  3. Combine all the ingredients for the crust topping and keep it aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  5. Melt 3 tbsp butter in a large sauce pan over low heat.  Add 3 tbsp AP flour, ground ginger, nutmeg, black pepper and salt.
  6. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Remove from heat.
  7. Add milk and put it back on heat. Bring it to boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  8. Remove from heat.  Add the cheeses and whisk until the cheese melts.  Add the cauliflower and mix well.
  9. Add the cooked pasta in cheese sauce and gently mix.
  10. Pour the mixture into a baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove the foil and spread the bread crumbs topping evenly over the pasta.  Put it back in the oven and broil until golden brown.
  12. Serve hot.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Omapodi - Ajwain Sev

 Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 -5 cups

Gram flour / Besan / Kadalai maavu - 2 cups
Rice flour - 1 cup
Ajwain / Omam / Carom seed - 2 tbsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Ghee or butter - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - for deep frying

  1. Clean and soak ajwain / omam in water for 30 minutes. Grind it with the soaked water to and grind until smooth.  Strain the ground paste with a tea strainer.  Save the water.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine gram flour, rice flour, red chili powder, asafoetida and salt.  Mix well. Add the ghee and ajwain / omam water.  Mix well.
  3. Add water little at a time and make dough that is pliable.  
  4. Heat oil in a pan.  Attach the Om podi disc to the murukku maker.  Fill the murukku maker with some dough.
  5. Reduce the heat of the oil to medium.  Place the top of the murukku maker over the dough and press it over the hot oil in a circular motion.
  6. Fry until it turns bright yellow in color and bubbles subsides.  Turn to the other and fry for few seconds. Remove and drain on a paper towel.  Repeat the process with rest of the dough.
  7. Store in a air tight container.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Boondi Ladoo / Laddu

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Yields: 25

Besan / Gram flour / Chickpea flour - 1 1/2 cups
Rice flour - 1 tbsp
Baking soda - a pinch
Sugar - 3 cups
Cashews - 10, broken into halves
Raisins - 20
Cloves - 5, slightly crushed
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Nutmeg - 1/2 tsp
Saffron - few strands
Ghee - 2 tsp
Oil - for deep frying
Boondi ladle or big slotted spoon - for making boondi

  1. Heat ghee in a small skillet and fry the cashew and raisins until golden brown.  Add the crushed cloves.  Keep aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift besan / gram flour, rice flour and baking soda.  Add water and mix using a whisk into a smooth and thick paste.  Add more water and mix until it forms a flowing thin batter.
  3. Heat oil in a pan.  To check the batter consistency, drop a little batter using a back of the spoon into the oil.  If it forms a round shape your are good.  If it forms like a tail, you need to make the batter little thinner.
  4. Hold the slotted ladle right above the oil, near the edge of the skillet.  Pour some batter on the ladle. The batter will start to flow down.  You can use a spoon to spread the batter.  If you hold the ladle too close to the oil, you will get tail shape.
  5. Cook the boondi while constantly turning.  Once the bubbles cease drain on paper towel.  The boondi has to be soft to touch.  
  6. Wipe the slotted spoon after each use and repeat the process.
  7. For the sugar syrup:  In a skillet, place the sugar and add enough water to cover the sugar.
  8. Boil until one string consistency.  To check this, place a spoon in the syrup and lift it.  Wait for couple for seconds and touch with your index finger.  Press your thumb and index finger together and pull it back.  If the syrup forms a single thread then its ready.  If using candy thermometer it should read 220 to 222 degree F.  
  9. Once this stage reached, turn off the stove.  Add the saffron, cardamom powder, fried boondi, cashews and raisins to the syrup.  Mix well to coat.  Let it sit for 10 minutes to cool.  
  10. While the boodi is still warm, take a handful of mixture and press to form a lemon size balls.
  11. Cool completely and store in a airtight container.