Thursday, January 30, 2014

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa / Salsa Verde for Super Bowl

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Tomatillos - 1 lb, outer skin removed
Serrano peppers - 4 or to taste
Onion - 1, medium, roughly chopped
Garlic - 3 cloves, with skin
Cilantro - 1/4 cup, chopped
Salt - to taste

  1. Wash tomatillos in warm water to remove stickiness.  Wipe to dry.
  2. Place all the ingredients (except salt and cilantro) in a baking tray lined with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake at 400 degree F for 15 minutes, turning half way through.  Let it cool.
  4. Remove the skin from the garlic and top portion from the peppers.
  5. Place them in a food processor along with cilantro and salt. Pulse until smooth.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Paneer Pakora

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 Minutes
Serves: 5 to 6

Thick Paneer Slices - 15 to 20
Green chutney - for stuffing the paneer (I used the store bought one)

For the batter:
Gram flour (Besan) - 1 cup
Rice flour - 1/4 cup
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Baking soda - 1/8 tsp
Ajwain (Bishop's weed) - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Salt - to taste

Water - for mixing the batter
Oil - for deep frying

  1. Slit the paneer half way through, leaving one edge intact for stuffing.  Spread green chutney inside of all the paneer pieces.  Keep it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add all the ingredients for the batter and mix well.
  3. Add water little at a time and prepare a thick batter of a coating consistency.
  4. Heat oil in a pan / kadai, dip each stuffed paneer slices in the batter and drop it in oil.
  5. Deep fry on medium heat till crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
  6. Serve hot with spicy chutney of your choice.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Focaccia Caprese - We Knead to Bake #13

(Adapted from The Kitchen Whisperer  

This flavorful and addictive focaccia bread, is this months pick by Aparna, for the group We Knead to bake.  Have fun baking and be creative.
For the Dough:
Instant yeast - 2 tsp
Sugar - 1 1/2 TBSP
Bread flour* - 3 1/2 cups
Salt - 1 tsp
Olive oil - 1/4 cup
Warm water - 1 to 1/2 cups
A little more olive oil for brushing the dough
For the Topping:
Cherry tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella slices
Fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
For the Herbed Oil:
Olive oil - 1/4 cup
Freshly chopped Sage leaves - 2 TBSP
Dried oregano - 1 tsp
Dried basil - 1 tsp
Red chili flakes - 1/2 tsp
Finely minced garlic/ paste - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste 
Fresh basil leaves for garnishing 
Sea salt to sprinkle on the baked bread (optional)
* If you cannot find bread flour, you can add 1 tbsp of Vital Wheat Gluten to 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and mix together well. Otherwise just use 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
**If you can't find fresh mozzarella where you live, use any “melty/ stringy” kind of cheese you can find.
  • First make the herbed oil. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. Keep aside till required.
  • Then make the dough. The dough can be mixed and kneaded by hand or machine. Put the yeast, sugar flour, salt and oil in the bowl of the processor and pulse a couple of times to mix well. Then add 1 cup of warm water (and as much more as you need) and knead until you have a soft elastic dough that is just short of sticky.
  • Remove the dough from the processor bowl, shape into a round and place in a well oiled bowl turning the dough around so it is coated. Cover and let it rise till almost double in volume. This should take about an hour.
  • You can make this as 2 medium sized Focaccia or 4 smaller ones. For the rectangular Focaccia, take two rectangular pans/ jelly or Swiss roll pans (I used an 11" by 7" tins) and oil them well. Then divide the dough into two equal portions and lightly roll them (or press out) out into approximately 11” by 7”. If making 4 Focaccia, then divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion out (or press out) evenly into approximately 5” by 7”. It's alright if it’s an odd shape because Focaccia is really a “rustic” bread.
  • Transfer the dough to the baking tins. The dough will shrink a little. Use your fingers and push it out a bit making sure it’s evenly thick throughout. Let it rise for 20 minutes. Lightly oil your finger tips and press into the dough creating evenly spaced “dimples” in it. Generously brush the surface with oil.
  • Bake at 210C (410F) for about 18 to 20 minutes till it is almost done and is beginning to turn golden brown. Take the Focaccia out and turn up the heat of your oven to 230C (450F).
  • Lightly drizzle some of the Herbed Oil over the Focaccia and then evenly arrange some slices of mozzarella over the bread, leaving very little space between them. Arrange the tomato slices over this and a little sprinkle the chopped basil over this. The topping should cover most of the surface of the bread.
  • Drizzle some more Herbed Oil over the topping and return the bread to the oven. Bake the Focaccia for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cheese has just melted. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
  • Cut the Focaccia into slices and serve while it is still hot. This recipe should serve 4 if served alone or 6 if served with a side.

This post has been yeast spotted.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Arachuvitta Vengaya Sambar / Onion Sambar with Ground Spicies

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Toor dal / Thvaram Paruppu - 1/2 cup
Small / pearl onions / Shallots - 15 -20, peeled
Tamarind extract - 3/4 cup or 2 TBSP tamarind paste
Sambar powder - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - few springs
Salt - to taste
To grind:
Coriander seeds / Dhania - 2 TBSP
Channa dal / Kadalai Paruppu - 1 TBSP
Dry red chillies - 2
Black pepper - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Shredded coconut - 2 TBSP
Shallots - 2
Oil - 1 tsp

  1. Wash toor dal and pressure cook with 1 1/2 cups of water til soft.
  2. Fry the ingredients listed in to grind (except coconut and shallots) list till golden brown.  Turn off the heat and add coconut and shallots. Mix well.  Let it cool and grind to a smooth paste.
  3. Heat oil in a saucepan.  Add mustard seeds and let it splutter.
  4. Add shallots,curry leaves and asafoetida.  Fry till golden brown.
  5. Add the tamarind extract.  If using paste, add the paste and 1cup of water.
  6. Mix in sambar powder, turmeric powder and salt.  Boil for 10 minutes on medium heat.
  7. Add the ground mixture along with 1/2 cup water.  Mix well and boil for 2 minutes.
  8. Add the cooked dal and mix thoroughly.  The consistency should be little thicker than a soup.  So adjust the water accordingly. Reduce the heat to low and cook for a minute. 
  9. Serve hot with rice with a dollop of ghee and spicy potato roast.
Here are some of my recipes for potato roast.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Kalkandu Pongal / Sugar Candy Rice Pudding

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 5 to 6
Raw rice - 1 cup
Moong dal - 2 TBSP (optional)
Kalkandu / Small Sugar candy - 1 1/4 cup
Water - 1 1/2 cup
Milk - 1 1/2 cup
Ghee / Clarified butter - 2 TBSP
Broken Cashew nuts - 1 TBSP
Raisins - 1 TBSP
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp

  1. Wash rice and moong dal (if using) thoroughly.
  2. Add water and milk and pressure cook for 4 to 5 whistles.
  3. Once the pressure goes down, and add kalkandu (sugar candy).
  4. On a low to medium heat, cook till the kalkandu melts, stirring constantly.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a small skillet.  Add the raisins and cashews.  Fry until golden brown.
  6. Add it to the rice mixture along with the remaining ghee and cardamom powder.  Mix well.  
  7. Serve warm.
Here are some of my other Pongal recipes:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tomato Soup

Tomatoes - 5, large
Carrot - 1, shredded
Onion - 1, medium, chopped
Garlic - 1 clove
Black pepper - 1 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp (optional)
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece
Bay leaves - 2
1% milk - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste
Olive oil - 1 TBSP
Freshly crushed black pepper - for garnishing

  1. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for five minutes.
  2. Once cooked, place them in a bowl with some ice and water.  Remove the skin and roughly chop.
  3. Heat oil in a sauce pan.  Add bay leaves, fennel seeds and black peppers.  Fry for few seconds and add the onion, ginger and garlic.
  4. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add the shredded carrots and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt.  Mix well and cook until soft.
  6. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves.
  7. Transfer the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.  Strain the mixture.
  8. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water and boil the soup for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and add 1/4 cup of milk and mix well.
  10. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper before serving.
  11. Serve hot.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Beetroot Halva

Shredded Beetroot - 3 cups
Almond milk - 2 cups
Raw (turbinado) or granulated sugar - 1 cup
Currants or Black raisins - 1/2 cup
Roasted sliced almonds - 2 TBSP
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Ghee / clarified butter - 2 TBSP

 Notes:  Adding currants or raisins give natural sweetness to the dish. You can adjust the sugar level                            according to your taste.
             You can add any nuts of your choice.
  1. Heat 1 TBSP ghee in a wide bottom skillet.  Add the shredded beetroot and saute for 3 minutes.
  2. Add 2 cups of almond milk and cook the beetroot for 10 minutes on low flame.  Stir every now and then for even cooking.
  3. Add the currants or raisins and cook until all the milk evaporates.  Keep stirring.
  4. Now add the sugar and mix well.  Cook on medium flame.  Stir constantly until the halva becomes thick.  
  5. Add 1 tbsp ghee and roasted almonds.  Mix well.
  6. Serve warm.