Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vazhaikkai Podi / Spicy Plantain Powder Mix












Some of the traditional recipes calls for a very few ingredients and they are very easy to prepare. Vazhaikai / Plantain podi / powder is one such traditional and rare recipe prepared in tambram households.  I remember my mom used to roast the plantains in a charcoal barbecue stove called Kumiti back in India.  This powder tastes heavenly when mixed with hot steamed rice along with mor kuzhambu as a side dish.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yields: 2 cups
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ingredients:
Plantain / Vazhaikkai / Raw banana - 3
Toor dal - 2 tbsp
Urad dal - 2 tbsp
Chana dal - 1 tbsp
Red chillies - 4
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 4
Sesame oil - 2 tsp
Salt - to taste



Method:
  1. Rub plantains with 1 tsp of oil.
  2. Roast the plantains on open flame until it turns black and soft on all the sides.  Alternatively you can also broil the plantains in an oven until soft.  Allow it to cool and peel.  Crumble the plantain.
  3. Roast toor dal, urad dal, chana dal and red chillies in a skillet with 1 tsp oil till golden brown. Remove from heat. Roast the curry leaves and asafoetida while the skillet is still hot. Let it cool completely.
  4. Place the roasted dals in a blender and grind to a coarse powder.  Add the crumbled plantain and salt.
  5. Pulse until combined.
  6. To serve:  Mix the powder in steamed rice with a dollop of ghee or sesame oil.  


Monday, November 24, 2014

Sheermal (Saffron Flavored Flat Bread) ~ We Knead to Bake #22


For this month's We Knead to bake Challenge,  Aparna chose Sheermal.  Sheermal is a Naan-like milk bread, apparently of Persian origins, and it is suggested that the name comes from the Persian word for milk which is "sheer".  In India, this "milk" bread is predominantly found in Muslim neighborhoods of Kashmir, Lucknow and Hyderabad.

Sheermal is traditionally served for breakfast with tea, or served as a meal with rich mutton curry called Nihari.  It can also be served with vegetable korma.   Though the original recipe calls for an egg to add in the dough, I skipped using egg.  Still the bread turned out super soft.  As for the flavoring, again I skipped kevra or rose water and used orange blossom water instead.

Ingredients:
Active dry yeast - 1 tsp
Sugar - 2 tsp
Luke warm water - 1/4 cup
All-purpose flour - 2 1/4 cup
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Egg - 1, lightly beaten ( I skipped)
Ghee - 1/4 cup
Milk - 1/2 cup (or more, as required for kneading)
Orange blossom water or rose water- 1 tsp
A few strands of saffron soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
Melted butter, for brushing

Method:
  1. Mix the yeast in warm water with sugar and set it aside for 5 to 10 minutes until frothy.
  2. You may knead by hand or in a food processor.  Put the flour and salt in a bowl.  Add the yeast mixture and the beaten egg (if you are using) and run the processor a couple of time to mix well.
  3. Then add the ghee gradually and pulse until it forms fine crumbs.  Add the orange blossom water.
  4. Add the milk as much as needed.  Knead until the dough comes together and forms a soft and slightly sticky dough.
  5. Transfer the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a moist towel.  Let it rise until the dough is doubled in volume for about 1 to 2 hours.
  6. Remove the towel and knead once more. Shape into a ball and lightly coat with ghee.  Cover with moist towel and let it rest for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
  8. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and using your finger, press each portion into a round disc (approximately 4" diameter and 1/8' thick).
  9. Place the rounds on a parchment lined or lightly greased baking tray.  Using a fork, dock (prick holes) the whole surface of the disc.
  10. Brush with saffron milk all over the disc.  Bake for about 10 o 15 minutes until the top turns golden brown.
  11. Take it out and immediately brush the bread with melted butter or ghee.  Serve warm.
  12. I served it with pineapple - habanero sauce.

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.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ingredients:
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



Method:
  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.