Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cranberry - Habanero Jam

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yields: 1 standard Jar

Recipe inspiration from: This Silly Girl's Life

Fresh Cranberries - 12 oz bag
Sugar - 2 cups
Habanero pepper - 1/8 to 1/4 tsp, minced  (This is one of the hottest peppers in the world.  1/4 tsp goes a long way and just gives enough heat to the jam).
Water - 1/4 cup

  1. In a large sauce pan,  add all the ingredients and bring it to a boil.  Cook over medium high heat until cranberries pop and turns soft, for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from heat and blend the cranberry mixture using a blender or a hand blender until smooth.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the sauce pan and cook over medium low heat until thickens for about 10 minutes.  Keep stirring.
  4. Jam is ready when it coats back of the spoon with out running.  Remove and let it cool slightly.
  5. Fill the jam in sterilized jars and seal.  Refrigerate and enjoy.

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

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

  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.

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

  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

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 an introduction to this rich, cheesy, creamy and tasty any day comfort food.  It is 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 leftover florets in this recipe.  You can add any vegetable as you like.  Here is Siri's Mac and Cheese recipe.

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

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.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Karuveppilai Sevai / Rice Vermicelli Spiced with curry Leaves ~ Navarathri Recipe

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4
Rice Sevai - 1 Packet or 1/2 packet is using Rice sticks
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Split urad dal - 2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Enough water to boil the rice sticks

For the Powder / Podi:
Curry Leaves - 2 cups, packed
Urad dal - 1 cup
Channa dal - 1/4 cup
Dry red chilies - 10
Black pepper - 1 tsp
Tamarind - a small marble sized
Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sesame oil - 2 tsp

  1. Wash curry leaves and squeeze the water out.  Salad spinner works best to remove excess water.
  2. Place the leaves on a clean cloth and pat dry.  Spread the leaves to air dry.
  3. Once dried completely, place it in a skillet and roast until crisp.  Keep it side.
  4. In the same skillet add 2 tsp oil and add urad dal, channa dal, black pepper, red chillies and tamarind.
  5. Roast until golden brown on a low flame.  Remove from heat and add asafoetida and mix well.  Let it cool completely.
  6. In a blender, add red chillies  roasted curry leaves, tamarind and asafoetida.  Grind to a fine powder.
  7. Then add the roasted dals and grind to a coarse powder.

How to make the Sevai / Rice sticks

  1. Boil enough water for the sevai. Once boiled, switch off the stove. 
  2. Place the sevai / rice sticks in the hot water and cover.  Let it stand for 5 minutes.  Don't keep it for more than 5 minutes, the rice sticks will become mushy.
  3. Drain the cooked rice sticks.  
  4. Heat 2 tsp of sesame oil in a skillet.  Splutter mustard seeds. Add urad dal and fry until golden brown.  Add asafoetida. Switch off the flame.
  5. Add the drained rice sticks and enough salt just for the rice sticks.  Mix well.  Let it cool down for 2 minutes.
  6. Now add the desired amount of curry leaves powder and mix well to coat.  It is best to use your hand to mix the rice sticks.  
  7. Serve hot.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Coconut Rava Ladoo with Chia Seeds - Navarathri Recipe

Preparation time - 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 12 to 15

Note: Adding chia seeds is totally optional,  but it is an excellent way to sneak in some extra nutrients. 

Rava / Semolina - 1 cup
Freshly grated or frozen coconut - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Ghee / Clarified butter - 2 tbsp
Chia seeds - 1 tbsp
Cashews - 10
Raisins - 10
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Saffron - few threads
Water - 1/2 cup

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine rava, coconut and chia seeds..  Mix well and keep it aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Add sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat ghee in a skillet and fry the cashews and raisins on low flame.
  4. Add the rava mixture and roast on low flame until aromatic.  
  5. Add the saffron and cardamom powder.  Mix well.
  6. Add the sugar syrup and mix until everything comes together.
  7. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  8. While the mixture is still warm, form a golf sized ladoos / balls out of it.
  9. Let it cool completely and store in a air tight container.
  10. Consume within 5 days or refrigerate for a week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Karamani / Black Eyed Peas Sundal - Navarathri Recipe

Preparation time: 10 minutes + 3 hours soaking time
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 3

White Karamani / Black Eyed Peas - 1 cup
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal -1 tsp
Dry red chilies - 2, broken
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Grated coconut - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - few
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsp

For the spice powder: 
Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
Chana dal - 1 tbsp
Red chilies - 2
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp

  1. Wash and soak the black eyed peas in enough water for 3 hours.
  2. After soaking,  pressure cook the peas with 2 cups of water (just enough to cover the peas) until soft, but not mushy (about 6 whistles).
  3. Meanwhile, dry roast the ingredients for the spice powder until golden brown.  Let it cool and grind to a fine powder.
  4. Drain the cooked peas.
  5. Heat oil in a skillet.  Splutter mustard seeds.  Add urad dal and red chillies.  Fry until golden brown.
  6. Add curry leaves and asafoetida.  Add the cooked peas, salt and turmeric powder.
  7. Mix well and saute for 2 minutes.  Add 2 tsp of  ground spice powder and mix well.  
  8. Saute for 30 seconds and add the grated coconut and mix well.  Remove from the heat.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hayagreeva ~ Chana Dal Sweetend with Jaggery ~ Navarathri Recipies

Hayagreeva is a horse headed avatar of Vishnu and the God of knowledge and wisdom.  This popular Karnataka dish is offered as a Nivedhyam to lord Hayagreeva.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Chana dal / Kadalai Paruppu - 1 cup
Powdered Jaggery - 1 cup
Dry or Fresh coconut (shredded or pieces) - 1/8 cup
Poppy seeds / Khus Khus - 1 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Cashew nuts - 5
Raisins - 2 tbsp
Ghee / Clarified butter - 2 to 3 tbsp
Water - 2 cups

  1. Wash chana dal and pressure cook with 2 cups water until soft (about 5 whistles).
  2. In the meanwhile.  dry roast poppy seeds in a skillet until it starts popping.
  3. In the same skillet fry the cashews and raisins in 1 tbsp of ghee.  Keep it aside and wipe the skillet.
  4. Once the dal is cooked, drain out the water.  Mash the dal slightly.
  5. Place jaggery in the skillet and add 2 tbsp of the drained dal water.  Melt the jaggery and strain to remove impurities.
  6. Place the jaggery syrup back in the skillet and add the coconut pieces.  Bring it to a boil.
  7. Add the chana dal and 2 tbsp ghee cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously.  
  8. Add the remaining ghee and the fried cashews and raisins.  Mix well and switch off the flame.
  9. Finally mix in the cardamom powder.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beetroot Cutlet / Tikki

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20  minutes
Serves: 4

Shredded Beetroot - 2 cups
Boiled Potatoes - 3, large
Onion - 1, small, chopped
Green Chilies - 2, finely chopped
Ginger and Garlic - 1 Tbsp, freshly grated
Fennel Seeds - 1 Tbsp
Cumin Powder - 2 tsp
Dry Mango Powder / Amchoor - 2 tsp
Chat Masala Powder - 2 tsp
Coriander Leaves / Cilantro - 3 Tbsp, chopped
Salt - to taste
Oil - for shallow frying

For the coating:
Panko Bread Crumbs - as needed
Kasoori Methi - 2 Tbsp
Fennel Powder - 2 tsp
All-purpose Flour - 2 Tbsp
Water - 1/4 cup


  1. Add little salt to the shredded beetroot and set it aside for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, add the mashed potatoes, chopped onion, green chilies, chat masala, dry mango powder, fennel seeds, cumin powder, ginger, garlic, cilantro and salt.  Mix well.
  3. Squeeze out the juice from the beetroot and add the beetroot to the potato mixture.  Mix thoroughly.
  4. Save the beet juice and use it to make other curries or soup.
  5. Shape the mixture into lemon sized balls and flatten them into small discs.  You can also roll them round or any other shape you like.  
  6. Place the bread crumbs in a plate.  Add the kasoori methi and fennel powder.  Mix well.
  7. In a small bowl, add the flour and water.  Mix well to make a paste.
  8. Dip the prepared discs / tikkis in the flour mixture and place it in the bread crumb to coat all sides. Arrange the tikkis in a large plate.
  9. Repeat with rest of the tikkis.  Refrigerate the tikkis for about an hour.
  10. Heat oil in a skillet.  Place about 3 to 4 tikkis at a time and fry for a minute on each side on medium high.
  11. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
  12. Serve hot with your choice of chutney or ketchup.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vella Kozhukattai (Sweet Modakam) with Video

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Dough for the cover
Rice flour - 1 cup
Water - 1 to 1/4 cup
Pinch of salt
Sesame oil - 1/2 tsp

For the coconut pooranam (filling)
Freshly grated coconut - 1 cup
Jaggery - 3/4 to 1 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Water - 2 Tbsp

  1. Add water and jaggery together in a skillet.  Let the jaggery melt and add the coconut.
  2. Saute the mixture on a low heat until thickens.  You need to have some moisture left in the mixture. Other wise when it cools the filling becomes hard.
  3. Add the ghee and cardamom powder.  Mix well and transfer it to a bowl.
  4. While its still warm, grease your palms with ghee and make a small marble sized balls.
  5. To make the dough, combine water, oil and salt in a skillet and let it come to a boil.  Reduce the heat and add rice flour little at a time.  Stir until all the water is absorbed,  Turn off the heat and transfer the dough into a bowl.
  6. Cover the dough with wet paper towel or cloth.  Let it stand for 2 minutes.
  7. While it is still hot, grease your hand with ghee or oil and knead the dough until smooth.  If it is too hot to handle, you can use a potato masher and mash until smooth.  Cover with wet towel.
  8. There are tow ways to make kozhukkatai.  One is the traditional shaping method using your hand and the other method is by using the mold. I used the mold to prepare my modakam.
  9. Hand method:  Grease your palms with oil and take a small amount of dough and make a ball.
  10. Pinch the dough along the edges with both hands in a circle and make a small bowl shape.  Place the jaggery filling in the center and close the dough to form a cone shape.  Repeat with the rest of the dough and keep it aside.
  11. Mold method:  Grease the inside of the mold and close it.  Take a small amount of dough and press gently around the inside wall of the mold.  Now put the filling in the middle and cover with some more dough.  Gently press the mold and remove excess dough.  Open the mold and remove the shaped modakam.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  12. Steam cook the modakams for 10 minutes.

Here is my video on how to use the mold

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rava Masala Poori / Puri

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 people

Whole wheat / Chapati flour - 2 cups ( I used Ashirvad multi grain flour)
Rava / Sooji / Cream of wheat - 1/2 cup
Gram / Chickpea flour - 1/2 cup
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Nutmeg - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water - as needed
Oil - for deep frying

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine wheat flour, rava, gram flour, salt and all the spices along with 2 tsp oil.  Mix thoroughly..
  2. Add water little at a time to make a soft dough.  Knead for 5 to 7 minutes until soft and pliable dough Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in a deep pan/ skillet on medium high.
  4. Meanwhile, make small balls out of a golf sized dough.  Roll each ball into circles of medium thickness.  If it is too thin, poori will not puff up and it will become crispy.
  5. Slide the rolled poori in hot oil.  As the poori cooks and slowly comes to surface, gently ladle some hot oil on top of the poori with a slotted spoon.  This will help the poori to puff up.
  6. Flip the poori and cook the other side until golden brown.  Remove and drain on paper towel.
  7. Repeat the process with rest of the dough.
  8. Serve hot with potato masala or dish of your choice.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Chana Pulao / Chickpeas Rice

Preparation time: 1h 15min (including rice soaking )
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Basmati Rice - 2 cups
Chana / Chickpeas - 2 cans, rinsed
Onion - 1, thinly sliced
Carrot - 2, shredded
Bay leaves - 2
Black cumin seeds / kala jeera - 1 tsp
Ginger and Garlic - 1 tsp each, minced
Green chilies - 2, slit
Red chili powder - 1/2 to 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Yogurt - 1 cup
Light Coconut milk - 2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Ghee + Oil - 2 tbsp each
Mint - 1/2 cup, chopped
Fresh coriander / Cilantro - 1/2 cup, chopped
Salt - to taste

For the garam masala powder:
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
Cloves - 3
Cardamom - 1
Black pepper - 5
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 2 tsp

  1. Rinse and soak the rice in 2 cups of water for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  After soaking, cook the rice along with 2 cups of coconut milk in a pressure cooker until soft ( 3 to 4 whistles).
  2. Dry roast the ingredients listed in the garam masala powder for 45 seconds on low flame.  Let it cool and grind into coarse powder.
  3. In a small mixing bowl,  mix in the yogurt, ground masala powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and red chili powder.  Whisk well and keep it aside.
  4. Heat oil and ghee in large deep skillet.  Add bay leaves, black cumin seeds.  Fry for 20 seconds.
  5. Add the sliced onion, ginger, garlic and slit green chilies.  Fry until the onions are soft and transparent.
  6. Add the shredded carrots, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and saute for 2 minutes.
  7. Mix in the yogurt mixture, chana and salt.  Cook for 5 minutes on low flame.
  8. Switch off the flame and add the chopped mint and coriander.  Mix well.
  9. Spread the cooked rice on top of the chana and let it cool for 5 minutes.  Gently mix the rice to coat with all the spices.  Let the rice sit for 10 minutes to soak in all the flavors.
  10. Serve with your favorite raita.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gibassier (A French Anise & Orange Flavored Loaf) ~ We Knead to Bake #19

Recipe and content source copied from My Diverse Kitchen

For this month's We Knead to Bake group, Aparna chose a French breakfast pastry/ bread called Gibassier (pronounced zee-bah-see-ay) from the Provence region. Incidentally, Gibassier is also the name for large cookie from Lourmarin in particular that’s about a foot long, is made with olive oil and oval shaped like a leaf.
So what is a Gibassier?
The Gibassier is a buttery textured French breakfast bread that is flavoured with candied orange peel, orange blossom water and aniseed, and topped with a sprinkling of plain or vanilla sugar. It is shaped somewhat the way one shapes a fougasse and delightfully soft and delicious. Gibassier can be shaped and made as one big round loaf, or larger or smaller single serve breads. Whatever size they come in, they are slashed/ snipped decoratively before they’re baked and this makes them even more irresistible.

It is thought that the Gibassier is named after a mountain peak in the Luberon Mountains, called Le Gibas. Others suggest that the name comes from the “gibacier” which referred to a flat bag that was used to carry game, somewhat similar to the shape of the pastry.

Gibassier is one of the 13 traditional French Christmas desserts that are traditionally served after Midnight Mass to signify Christ and his 12 apostles at the Last Supper. Many people refer to the Gibassier as Pompe à Huile (French olive oil bread) while others insist the two are not the same. The Gibassier is somewhat like an Italian Panettone, and it is believed that it must apparently be torn apart with the hands when served to bring good luck in the New Year.

Making Gibassier is not very difficult but it takes a little time as the process involves starting with a “Biga” or pre-ferment which is made the previous night of the baking of this bread. There are recipes which do away with the use of the pre-ferment and the bread is made all on the same day. But I personally find that where there is traditionally the use of a pre-ferment for a bread, that it is better to use it because this adds to the flavour and texture of the finished bread.

There are some aspects of the Gibassier which are important because they define this bread.
The use of Orange Blossom Water is important as it gives the Gibassier a distinct flavour that is difficult to replicate with any substitute. So leave it out if you can’t find Orange Blossom Water, or maybe try one of the substitutes mentioned in the recipe section of this post.

Gibassier (A French Anise & Orange Flavored Loaf)
  (Copied from My Diverse Kitchen)

For the Pre-ferment (Biga):
1 1/2 cups bread flour          
1/2 cup milk
1/16 tsp instant yeast ( a pinch)

For the Dough:
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup orange blossom water*
1/8 cup warm water (or orange juice) **
3 1/4 cups bread flour
All the pre-ferment/ Biga from above
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp instant yeast
75 gm butter, slightly soft***
1 1/2 to 2 tsp anise seeds
1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel (I used dried apricots) ****
1 tsp orange zest (use 2 tsp if using dried apricot)

For Glazing and Dusting the Gibassier
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup clarified butter (ghee) *****
Vanilla sugar or castor sugar

*What gives this bread its signature aroma is the orange flavor and orange blossom water makes all the difference. It is difficult to replicate with substitutions, so if you cannot find it, you may leave it out altogether. In this recipe since orange is an important flavour, you can can use 1/2 tsp orange extract instead, if you have it. Otherwise you can substitute the 1/8 cup water with unsweetened orange juice.
**If you are using apricots instead of candies orange peel, replace the 1/8 cup water with warm unsweetened orange juice.
***It is important to use butter that is just beginning to soften. The butter should be somewhat cold but just soft enough for you to press down with your finger. If your butter is too soft you might have greasy Gibassier.
If you don’t like candied peel, you can substitute it with chopped dried apricots. But then remember to use warm orange juice instead of warm water for a stronger orange flavor.
*****If you don’t have ghee, you can make your own clarified butter. Just put unsalted butter in a pan and melt it. Let it boil and bubble on medium heat until it turns golden. Strain out the solids and you have clarified butter/ ghee. Store in a glass jar.
You can use melted butter instead of clarified butter but you will not get the same flavor.
You can make your own vanilla sugar at home, by steeping slit vanilla pods (whole or those from which you have removed the seeds) in a jar of granulated or castor sugar. Let it sit for about a week or two and your vanilla sugar is ready for use.

The Process:
  • The pre-ferment has to be made the night before the Gibassier are baked. So the previous night, mix together the ingredients for the pre-ferment into a slightly stiff but smooth dough. Add a little more milk if your dough is too stiff.
  • Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and cover loosely. Let it stand, at room temperature, for about 14 to 16 hours. At the end of this time, the dough would have risen and have a fermented look.
  • The next morning, make the dough for the Gibassier. You can do this by hand, but it will require some effort as the dough can get a bit sticky. Using a kitchen machine or a food processor will make things easier.
  • Put the eggs, olive oil and Orange Blossom Water in the processor bowl and run a couple of times to mix well. Then add the warm water and mix. If the water is too hot, the mixture will curdle because of the eggs!
  • Now add the pre-ferment (tear it up into chunks first so it will mix easily), bread flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and knead until the dough is smooth. Now add the butter in chunks (3 or four times) and knead until the butter is incorporated into the dough before adding the next chunk. Knead well until the dough is soft and supple.
  • Add the chopped candied orange (or apricots), aniseed and the zest and knead till incorporated. Shape the dough into a round and place in a well-oiled bowl turning it to coat well. Cover loosely and allow the dough to double in volume. This should take about 2 hours.
  • When done, turn the dough out onto your working surface. Divide it into 12 equal portions, shape each into a round and let the dough rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then shape and flatten each round into a semi-circle or oval.  Make three cuts in the semi-circle, one in the center and two on either side of this cut from the straight edge to the arch of the semi-circle (see photographs), by pushing your implement straight into the dough. Making sure the cuts open up into neat slits. Then using scissors, make 4 snips along the arched side at equal distance.
  • Lift the Gibassier dough and transfer it to a parchment lined baking sheet making sure to stretch it a little so the cuts open up well and the slits also spread a bit. Repeat with all the balls of dough, and let the shaped dough rise for about 30 to 45 minutes till a little puffy.
  • Then bake them at 180C (350F) for about 10 to 15 minutes till they turn a golden brown on top.
  • Take the Gibassier out of the oven and brush them while still hot, with clarified butter/ ghee. Immediately press the brushed side down lightly (or sprinkle with sugar instead) into vanilla sugar or castor sugar. Then let them cool on a rack.
  • Serve them slightly warm or at room temperature with coffee or tea. This recipe makes 12 large Gibassier.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fennel - Apple - Chickpeas Salad with Mint Yogurt Dressing

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Fennel Bulb - 1, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
Green Apple - 1, julienned
Small Purple Radish - 4, thinly sliced
Fennel Bulb
Cucumber - 1, small, julienned
Cubanelle or green pepper - 1, thinly sliced
Shredded carrot - 1/4 cup
Chick peas / Garbanzo beans - 1 can, rinsed and drained
Lettuce or greens of your choice - chopped

For the salad dressing:
Greek or thick plain yogurt - 1/2 cup
Fresh mint - 1/4 cup
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Thai green chili - 1, small
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place mint, lemon juice and green chili in blender and grind to a smooth paste.
  2. Add the yogurt and pulse of couple of times.  Transfer to a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a large bowl, add all the salad ingredients and mix.  
  4. Drizzle the yogurt dressing, toss well and serve.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Avalakki / Poha ~ Savory Flattened Rice Snack

Avalakki, also called poha (Aval in tamil)  is a breakfast dish from Karnataka.  It can also be served as a quick snack.  I first tasted Avalakki at my friend Rashmi's home and instantly it has become one my favorite snack.  Thank you Rashmi for this wonderful and simple recipe.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 3
Thin Aval / Poha - 1 cup, white or brown ( I used brown poha)
Onion - 1, medium, finely chopped
Peanuts - 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Green chilies - 1, finely chopped
Asafoetida - a pinch
Red chili powder - 3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Brown sugar - 2 tbsp
Shredded coconut - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves - few, finely chopped
Oil - 2 tbsp

  1. Place poha in a large bowl.  Sprinkle little water and moisten the poha.  Make sure not the pour the water and make it mushy.  It has to retain the crispiness.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet.  Add mustard seeds and let it splutter.
  3. Add the peanuts, coriander and cumin seeds.  Fry for 2 minuted.
  4. Add the chopped onion, green chili, asafoetida and curry leaves.  Fry until golden brown.
  5. Remove from heat and add the turmeric and red chilie powder.
  6. Add this mixture to poha along with brown sugar, coconut and salt.
  7. Mix thoroughly with hand or spatula.  Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
  8. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving to absorb all the flavors.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Komaj (Persian Date Bread with turmeric and Cumin) ~ We Knead to Bake #18

For this month's We Knead to Bake project,  we made Komaj, a Persian bread spiced with turmeric and cumin, stuffed with buttery date filling.  For my filling, I used both dates and dried apricots. Aparna has adopted this recipe from Saraban - A Chef's Journey Through Persia by Greg and Lucy Malouf.

Active dry yeast - 1 tsp
Warm water - 1/8 cup
Bread flour - 3 3/4 cups
Cumin seeds - 2 1/2 tsp, toasted and lightly crushed
Sugar - 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Egg - 1 (optional), I didn't use it.
Warm milk - 2/3 cup , since I skipped the egg, I added 2 to 3 tbsp extra milk
Olive oil -  1 1/2 tbsp

For the filling:
Dried and pitted dates - 8, chopped (15 if apricots are not used)
Dried apricots - 8, chopped (optional)
Unsalted butter - 2 tbsp, at room temperature
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp

Milk / cream for brushing the dough
Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

  1. Dissolve the yeast in war water and keep aside for 10 minutes or until it becomes frothy
  2. Put the flour, 2 tsp of the crushed cumin seeds, sugar, turmeric powder and salt in the food processor and pulse it for couple of time to mix.
  3. Then add the yeast mixture and the egg if you are using.  Pulse until incorporated.
  4. Now add the milk (2/3 cup + 2 tbsp) and olive oil, and knead until it forms a smooth and pliable dough that is not sticky.  
  5. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well oiled bowl.  Turn to coat the dough and cover loosely.  let it rise until it has doubled (about and hour or so).
  6. When the dough has risen, deflate it and then shape into a ball.  Put it back in the bowl for a second rise (about an hour).
  7. In the meanwhile, prepare the filling by mixing together the chopped dates, apricots, soft butter and cardamom.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degree F.
  9. Divide the dough in to 4 equal portions, and divide again to get 8 portions.  Working with one portion at a time, roll each one out into a rectangle that is about between 1/4" and 1/8" thick.
  10. Choose a cookie cutter that s about 8 cm wide.  Press it down lightly in one half of the rectangle to guide you to put the filling.
  11. Brush a little water over the entire surface to make sure the dough would stick well when folded. Then place about 1 tsp of the filling in the center of the cookie outline and then fold the other half of the rectangle over the filling.  Using the same cookie cutter cut out the bun, making sure the sides are neat and well sealed.
  12. Repeat with the remaining portions of the dough.  Then re roll the scraps and you should be able to make two more buns.  Place the buns on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Leave some space between the buns.  Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  13. Brush the buns with milk and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp of crushed cumin on top and press it lightly.  Bake the Komaj at 400 degree F. for about 8 to 10 minutes..  
  14. Let them cool on a rack.  Dust with icing sugar.  Serve warm with tea or coffee.  These are best eaten the day they are made.  Leftovers can be reheated and eaten the net day.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate - Chip Muffins

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time; 20 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins

Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson with slight modification.

All-purpose flour - 1 3/4 cups
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Semisweet chocolate chips - 3/4 cup, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
Milk - 1 cup
Yogurt - 3 tbsp
Vegetable oil - 3 tbsp
Egg - 1 ( for egg-less version, mix 3 tbsp flax seed powder in 1 tbsp water, let it sit for 5 minutes)
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

  1. Line muffin pan with liners.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, sugar and 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips into a large bowl.
  4. Mix all the wet ingredients in a small bowl.  whisk to combine.
  5. Gently mix the wet and dry ingredients together.  Do not over mix the batter.  Lumpy batter makes the best muffins.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin cups 3/4 full.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Aam Ka Panna / Spiced Raw Mango Juice

 Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

Raw Green Mango - 1, medium sized, washed
Jaggery or Sugar- 3 to 4 tbsp, adjust accordingly (I used jaggery)
Roasted cumin seeds powder - 1 tsp
Black salt - 1 tsp
Chaat masala powder - 1 tsp
Water - 2 1/2 cups
Mint leaves - for garnishing
Few ice cubes

  1. Pressure cook the mango with 1 cup of water until mushy.   Alternatively, you can also cook the mango on stove top.
  2. Once cooled, scoop out all the pulp from the skin and pit.  
  3. Add all the spices,jaggery or sugar, mango pulp and 1 1/2 cups of water in a blender jar.  Blend until very smooth.
  4. Check for the consistency and add more water accordingly. 
  5. Place some ice cubes in a serving glass and pour the drink.  Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Watermelon Rind Kootu (Lentil Stew) with Sprouted Mung Beans

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Water melon rind - 1 cup, chopped (white part with skin removed)
Sprouted mung beans - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder -
Salt - to taste

To grind:
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Green chilies - 2, small
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece

For tempering:
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Few Curry leaves

  1. Place all the ingredients in the to grind list in blender.  Add enough water and grind to a smooth paste.
  2. Pressure cook the  sprouted mung beans and water melon rind along with turmeric powder and 1/2 cup water until soft (about 3 to 4 whistles).
  3. Once done, add the ground paste and salt.  Cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Heat oil in a small skillet, add mustard seeds and let it splutter.  Add urad dal and fry until golden brown.  Add the curry leaves and asafoetida.  
  5. Pour the tempering over the kootu and mix well.
  6. Serve hot with rice or roti.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Mango Kesari - Mango Flavored Semolina / Cream of Wheat Pudding

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Rava / Sooji / Semolina - 1/2 cup
Mango Pulp - 1/2 cup, fresh or canned
Sugar - 3/4 to 1  cup
Water - 3/4 cup
Milk - 1/4 cup
Ghee / Clarified butter - 1/4 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Broken cashews and raisins - 1 tbsp each
Pinch of saffron

  1. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a skillet and roast the cashews and raisins until the cashews are golden brown and the raisins puff up.
  2. Remove and set it aside.
  3. In the same skillet, roast the semolina in 3 tbsp ghee until aromatic.  Meanwhile, boil water and milk in a saucepan.  Add saffron.
  4. Add the liquid slowly to the semolina.  Keep string to avoid lumps.
  5. Once the semolina is cooked add the sugar and mango pulp.
  6. Keep stirring until sugar melts and becomes like a pudding consistency.
  7. Now add the fried cashews, raisins and cardamom powder.  Mix well.
  8. Serve warm.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Petit Pains au Lait (French Milk Bread / Rolls ~ We Knead to Bake #17

This simple and very easy to make French milk bread, is Aparna's choice for this month's We Knead bake challenge.   These lightly sweet and soft rolls were absolutely delicious.

Adapted from: Gourmet by Kat

Warm milk - 2/3 cup ( you might need a little more)
Instant yeast - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1/4 cup
All-purpose flour - 1 2/3 cup
Bread flour - 3/4 cup
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Butter - 4 tbsp or 60gms, at room temperature
Extra milk for brushing
Pearl sugar or granulated sugar for topping ( optional)

  1. You an knead by hand or food processor.
  2. Put warm milk, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse couple of times to mix.  Then add all the flour and the salt and run the processor until it looks crumbly.  Add the butter and knead until you have a soft, smooth and elastic dough that is not sticky.  Add little more milk ( in teaspoonful at a time), if you dough is dry, until you have the required consistency of dough. 
  3. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, turning it over to coat with oil.  Cover loosely and set aside to rise until double in volume.  This should take about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Turn the dough out onto your working surface. You shouldn't need any flour, but if you feel the need, just lightly dust your palms with it.  Deflate the dough gently, and divide it into 10 equal pieces.  Let them rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Roll out each piece of dough, one at a time, into a circle about 4" in diameter.  Slowly roll up the circle from one end, Swiss roll / jelly roll style into a cylinder.  Pinch the seam close neatly, and place them on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet with the seam side facing down.  Cover loosely and let them rise for an hour or so till almost double in size.
  6. Brush them lightly with milk and using a pair of sharp scissors, make diagonal cuts (not too deep) on the top of the rolls.  Sprinkle pearl sugar / granulated sugar.
  7. Bake them at 400 degree F (220C) for bout 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let them cook on a rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
  8. This recipe makes 10 Petit Pains au Lait.  They are best eaten the same day, though you could warm them up and serve the next day.