November 16, 2012

Multi-grain Adai

Packed with lot of flavors & loads of protein, multi-grain adai is my take on Navadhanya adai. Navadhanya adai is a healthy variety of dosa made from nine lentils/grains including rice. Though traditional navadhanya adai could possibly use different set of grains, I gave it a shot with the grains available in my pantry. Nevertheless, adai came out perfectly delicious and tasted heaven with aviyal on the side.

Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 3-4 hrs
Cook time - 30 mins - 1 hr
Serves - 25 - 30 nos (approximately)

You can store the unused batter in refrigerator for upto 2 days.

Toor dal - 1/4 cup
Channa dal - 1/4 cup
Moong dal - 1/4 cup
Masoor dal - 1/4 cup
Black Channa - 1/4 cup
Rajma (Kidney beans) - 1/4 cup
Red Choli (karamani) - 1/4 cup
Whole green moong - 1/4 cup
Rice - 1/2 cup
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Salt - to taste
Red chillies - 5-6 nos
Green chillies - 2-3 nos
Hing - 1 tsp

Soak all the dals together in water for about 2-3 hrs. Soak rice separately in water for the same amount of time.

Grind all of the soaked dals, rice and other ingredients together into a coarse and slightly thicker batter.

Heat a flat griddle on medium-high. When hot, spoon a couple of ladles of the batter on to the griddle and spread it in a circular motion. Add 1/2 tsp of sesame oil around the adai.

Once cooked, flip it to the other side and drizzle 1/2 tsp of oil around the adai. After both the sides are cooked, remove from heat and serve it hot with favorite side of yours!

November 13, 2012

Chipotle-style Burrito

Here is the recipe to make your own Chipotle-style veggie burrito at home! Do I need to say more? I think the name Chipotle speaks volume for itself!!

Moving on to the recipe...

Basic Info
Complexity - Lengthy but Simple
Prep time - 30 - 45 mins
Cook/Assemble time - 20 - 30 mins
Serves - 3

Red Onion - 1/2 no (medium sized, very finely chopped)
Ripe roma tomatoes - 3 nos (chopped into small pieces)
Black beans - 1 cup
Red Onion - 1/2 no (medium sized, sliced into thin vertical pieces)
Green Bell pepper - 1/2 no (medium sized, sliced into thin vertical pieces)
Jalapeno pepper - 1/2 no (small sized, finely minced)
Cilantro - 1 bunch (medium sized, finely chopped)
Avocados - 2 nos (medium sized, pitted & scooped)
Corn on the cob - 1 no
Cooked rice - 1.5 - 2 cups (cooked & fluffed up into separate grains, I used sona-masoori)
Lemon juice - from 3 ripe limes
Salt - to taste
Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
Paprika - 1/4 tsp
Olive oil - 2-3 tsp
Cheese - Jack & mild cheddar cheese blend.
Sour cream

Believe me, the taste was very close to the burrito you get in Chipotle, except for the beans that I mushed up a little. Try it and you are sure in for a surprise!

Cilantro-Lime rice
Mix rice with required amount of salt, lime juice from 1 lime, a tsp of jalapeno, a little more than a handful of chopped cilantro. Do not break the rice grains while mixing. Keep it aside.

Fajita vegetables
Saute sliced red onion & green bell peppers with salt in a touch of olive oil until bright and slightly crisp.

Drain and rinse the can of beans. Add beans, salt, cumin powder, and little water to a sauce pan. Simmer & slow cook for about 15 mins until beans are tender but slightly al-dente (Actuallymine got a li 'l mushy, you could also use raw black-beans). Stir occasionally.

Tomato salsa - mild
Mix tomatoes with 1-2 tbsp of red onions, 1 tsp of jalapeño peppers, 1-2 tbsp of cilantro, 1 tsp of lime juice, salt for a mildly tangy and refreshing taste. Set it aside atleast for 1/2 hour for tomatoes to get soft & release all its juices.

Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa
Roast jalapeno peppers (poblano chillies are recommended) on stove-top/grill and let them cool. Remove corn off the cob and boil them in water until soft & cooked. Dice roasted jalapenos into small pieces. Mix corn, roasted & diced jalapenos/poblanos, salt, cilantro.

In a large bowl, mash avocado pulp with a ladle/fingers. To this, add a tbsp of cilantro, 1-2 tbsp of red onions, 1 tsp of jalapeno peppers, lime juice from 1 lime, salt and mix well until silky & delicious. Store it in refrigerator until use.

I got 2 very small blocks of jack & mild cheddar cheese and grated them using a grater. Alternatively, you can buy the grated cheese blend too.

Now, get a bowl and layer the bottom with cilantro-lime rice. Add a second layer on top with fajita veggies/beans/salsa(tomatoes & chili-corn). Top it with guacamole, sour cream, and sprinkle some cheese. Voila, burrito bowl is ready!

Warm up a tortilla in a pan and layer the burrito with all of your favorite toppings! Roll it up and enjoy! Easy as a snap!

Though making a burrito seem to be long and involves lot of components, it is actually very simple & fairly quick to make. Here are some tips to make it even more easier:
  • Juice the limes, chop tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro and keep them ready.
  • The salsas and guacamole can be made several hours before and stored in the fridge.
Once you are ready with all the components, let your family layer their own bowls and what else, just dig in!

November 9, 2012

Pepper Aval Upma

Are you in a fix to put up a hearty & healthy breakfast in a very less time?! Well, you are at the right post! 

Pepper Aval Upma is one of the easiest breakfast that you can cook in no time. The flavor & aroma from cumin & pepper is truly droolworthy. I love the touch of heat from pepper especially during cold mornings.

Basic Info
Complexity - Easy
Prep time - 15 - 20 mins
Cook time - 15 - 20 mins
Serves - 2

Aval (or) Poha - 2 cups
Cumin seeds - 1.5 tsp
Pepper corns - 1.5 tsp
Salt to taste
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Red chillies - 1 no
Urad dal & Channa dal - 1/2 tsp each
Curry leaves - few
Ghee - 1-2 tsp
Oil - 1-2 tsp

In about 3 cups of water, soak aval/poha for about 15-20 mins.

Coarsely powder cumin & pepper together in a mixer.

Heat oil in a large skillet, and splutter mustard seeds. Next, fry urad dal & channal dal until red & crispy. Add red chillies & curry leaves and saute for a min. Add cumin+pepper powder and give it a stir for less than a min. Add completely drained poha/aval, salt and give it a good mix for cumin/pepper powder to evenly coat each & every poha. Finally, add a touch of ghee and remove from heat. Serve hot.

If you do not soak poha for enough, it will turn rubbery/chewy when cold.

Channa Masala

Spicy Channa Masala is the second best-known Indian-fame to a foreigner, next to Taj Mahal! Every restaurant has a signature channa masala recipe of their own, and so does every house-hold! In short, channa masala is a popular spicy-tangy-aromatic masala curry cooked in a tomato based gravy that can be easily paired up with roti/rice. Of all, my personal favorite is Channa Batura, an unbeatable pair.

Last week, I made this as a side for my Tofu stuffed parathas!

Basic Info
Complexity - Easy
Prep time - 8 - 12 hrs (including the soaking time)
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 3-4

Garbanzo beans / Chickpeas - 1 cup
Onion - 1 no (Large sized, finely chopped)
Tomatoes - 4 nos (Medium sized, finely chopped)
Green chillies - 2 nos (vertically slit)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Garlic - 2 pods (minced)
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Corainder powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Channa masala - 1 tsp (used MTR brand)
Salt - to taste
Vegetable oil - 2 tbsp
Lime juice from 1/2 lime.
Cilantro - a handful, chopped

Soak garbanzo beans in cold water overnight or for atleast 6-8 hrs. 

Drain and pressure cook the beans (with little salt) for upto 2 whistles (or) until cooked but not mashed.

Heat oil in a large skillet. When hot, add cumin seeds and let it sizzle. Then, add onion, green chillies, garlic, ginger and sauté for about 5 mins over medium heat until onion turns translucent. Turn heat down to medium-low and add coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and channa masala powder to it. Saute for a minute or two, and then add chopped tomatoes and simmer for upto 10 mins until onion & tomatoes are completely cooked with spices and oil starts to ooze out on the sides. Now, add chickpeas & water (as required). Adjust salt and let it simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat & add cilantro, lemon juice.

Serve hot with roti/rice.

I used two 15 oz cans of garbanzo beans and black beans each, as I forgot to soak garbanzo beans the previous night. So, you could also use canned garbanzo beans instead of raw ones. Use two 15 oz cans for a cup of raw garbanzo. Having said that, fresh is always the best without a doubt. So, I strongly encourage the use of raw beans unless & until you are really in a hurry and you don't have time. 

November 8, 2012

Eggless Pancakes

Have you ever had a chance to watch Alton Brown's "Good Eats" on food network?! I am a great of his shows and love him not only for his quirkiness & sense of humor, but also for his ability to teach & inspire. "Good Eats" is not the usual "look-into-the-camera-talk-and-cook" stereotyped shows. It takes you on an amusing, witty & entertaining journey of history, culture, and science associated with the ingredients, latest cooking gadgets & equipments, do's & dont's and a lot of other great insights about the food in a very easy, interesting & understandable manner.

Couple of days ago, I watched his episode on how to make the "most softest, fluffiest, yummiest pancakes". Topped with some fruits & nuts, it is definitely THE best way to start your day! This particular episode had the potential to drive anybody, almost instantly, into the kitchen to make some pancakes. Oh btw, ignore me! it took a couple of days for this-lazy-bum to actually try this amazing recipe! 

So.... what are you waiting for?!!!!

For those who do not mind eggs, add 1 egg in place of a tbsp of flaxseed powder. Although Mr. Brown clearly hates replacements, flaxseed powder is my take on eggless version. Nevertheless, it tasted soooo goody good!!!!

Basic Info
Complexity - Easy
Prep time - 15 - 20 mins
Cook time - 20 - 30 mins
Serves - 6-8 pancakes

All purpose flour - 1 cup
Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)

Melted butter - 2 tbsp
Buttermilk - 1 cup (+ 2 tbsp, only if required)
Ground flaxseed powder - 1 tbsp

Ripe Banana - 1 no (thinly sliced)
Almonds & Walnuts - about 2-3 tbsp (finely chopped)
Pure Maple syrup - as needed

Add 3 tbsp of water to 1 tbsp of flaxseed powder. Mix well and set aside for 10 mins.

Mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Take a flat wide bottomed pan and heat it upto 350 deg F. To check if the pan is hot enough, just sprinkle few drops of water and you should see the water droplets skitter, move and bunch up into small ball upon contact with the pan. This is the right time to start making your pancake mix.

First, mix all the wet ingredients together. Make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour over the wet ingredients. Using a whisk, mix the dry & wet ingredients together. Do not overmix. To be really precise, use the whisk to gently fold in the mixture for just 10 times (Yeah, keep a count). It is perfectly fine if the mixture is of thicker consistency and has lumps here and there.

Take a ladleful (about 1/4 cup) of the pancake mixture and pour it gently over the hot pan. Do not attempt to spread the mixture with your ladle. Just leave the batter alone and see how beautifully the pancake rises. 

When it starts to bubble up, flip it to the other side. Once both the sides are browned, remove from heat.

Serve it hot with your favorite fruits, nuts & maple syrup.

November 7, 2012

Tofu stuffed paratha

Here's to a healthy, fabulous, protein-packed, tastier version of stuffed paratha - Tofu Stuffed Paratha! If you 'd read my post on Tofu Tikka Masala, you would know how much I dislike tofu and how intrigued I could get when used in place of paneer. Surprisingly, I found tofu stuffed parathas to be downright delicious especially with channa masala on the side. I wasn't bothered, not even a bit about tofu in the stuffing. Parathas were also soft, tasty & really very filling. A must try recipe!

Tofu haters - Try & see how this recipe changes your perspective on tofu, in a good way ofcourse!!!
Tofu lovers - Try & see how versatile tofu could get and your love for tofu is gonna grow more & more, without a doubt!!!

Basic Info:
Complexity - difficult
Prep time - 1 - 2 hrs (includes draining tofu & mixing dough for paratha)
Cook time - 1 - 1.5 hrs
Serves - 12 - 15 parathas

For dough:
Whole wheat flour - 3 cups
Salt - 1 tsp
Oil - 2-3 tsp
Buttermilk - 2-3 tbsp
Warm water - 1 cup or as needed

For Stuffing:
Extra Firm tofu - 1 block (about 15 oz)
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Fresh Cilantro - handful (finely chopped)
Onion - 1/2 cup (finely chopped)

How to prepare dough
Mix all the dry ingredients under 'For dough' in a big bowl. Add buttermilk and mix it well. Now sprinkle warm water little by little and keep mixing the dough until everything comes together. Sprinkle little water and knead the dough until it becomes soft & pliable. Cover it with a wet kitchen towel/cloth and let it rest for about an hour.

Now, let's prepare the stuffing. The secret to good & effective stuffing is to drain as much water as possible from the tofu block. If you miss this step, it will be very difficult to roll the paratha.

How to drain water out of tofu
Lay 3-4 paper towels (one on top of another) on kitchen countertop. Place tofu in the center of the topmost paper towel. Now wrap the paper towels firmly and gently over the tofu. On top of this, place a flat object like a wide plate. Now place some heavy objects (upto 3 lbs) on top of the plate. Adjust their positioning so that the weight of the objects are well balanced over the tofu. (I used couple of 2 lbs packets of lentils from my pantry). Let it sit for about an hour or so (longer won't hurt).

How to prepare stuffing
Scramble tofu using hands, and mix all the other ingredients under 'For stuffing'.

Make small balls out of this tofu mixture.

Also, make equal number of (slightly bigger) balls from the kneaded dough.

Now, take a ball (of wheat dough) and press it with your palm for about 2-3 inches wide. Brush it with little oil and place a tofu ball in the centre.

Now, cover the tofu ball from all the sides.

Carefully roll out this stuffed ball to desired thickness.

Make sure that the griddle is hot enough and place the paratha in the centre of the pan. When the color of the paratha is slightly changed, flip it to the other side and brush it with a dash of ghee on top. When it starts to bubble up, flip it to the other side and brush it with a dash of ghee. Wait until the paratha bubbles up completely and remove from heat.

Enjoy this healthy & delicious tofu stuffed paratha with your favorite curry.

November 5, 2012

Paruppu urundai Kuzhambu

Paruppu urundai kuzhambu (steamed lentil koftas in tamarind based stew) is a protein-rich traditional south-Indian recipe - carried over for generations. I remember tasting this recipe from my great grand-mom 's kitchen. I don 't remember my mom/grand-mom making this, but my mom-in-law makes this every now and then, especially when her fridge runs out of vegetables. 

This is one of VJ's absolute favorite and it had been a while since I made this kuzhambu. Last week I decided to give him a little surprise by making this kuzhambu for dinner. I gave a little twist to the traditional recipe though, by adding onions to the gravy. Nevertheless, we loved the taste & flavor of onion in the gravy. Initially, I was a little skeptical that the flavor of onion might be over-powering, but I was wrong! Incase you are planning to go the traditional way, just skip adding onions to urundai (or) gravy. It tastes just as good as the other version.

This kuzhambu doesn't need curry/side of any sort. Hot rice & sutta appalam with 2-3 balls and couple of ladleful of kuzhambu is so filling & soul-gratifying.

Basic Info
Complexity - difficult
Prep time - 1 hr
Cook time - 1.5 - 2 hrs
Serves - 3

For paruppu urundai / koftas:
Toor dal - 1/2 cup
Channa Dal - 1/2 cup
Red chillies - 4 nos
Cabbage - 2-3 tbsp (finely chopped). You can also use chopped onion (2-3 tbsp) instead of cabbage.
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves - few

For kuzhambu / gravy:
Oil - 2 tsp
Onion - 1 large size (chopped)
Tomato - 2 nos (chopped)
Tamarind - 1 small gooseberry size (soak in a cup of warm water for 15 mins and extract juice from it)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Sambar powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

For Seasoning:
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Dry red chillies - 2 nos
Cilantro - 1-2 tbsp

For paruppu urundai / koftas:
Soak channa dal & toor dal in water for about an hour. After an hour, drain the water and grind it into a fine paste with red chillies, cumin seeds, salt, turmeric powder, curry leaves, asafoetida. Add finely chopped cabbage/onion with this and mix well.

Make golf sized balls and microwave them for upto 4 mins on high turning the balls in-between exactly after 2 mins. 

Alternatively, you can also steam them in an idly maker for upto 10 minutes. Lentil balls are ready, keep them aside.

For Kuzhambu / gravy: 
Heat about 2 tsp of oil and add chopped onion. Saute till onions turns translucent. Add tomatoes and continue sauteing until tomatoes are soft & mushy. Let it cool and grind it into a fine paste. Sprinkle little water only if required.

Heat about 2 tsp of oil. When hot, add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add fenugreek seeds, dry red chillies and roast them until fenugreek seeds turn reddish-brown. Don't let fenugreek seeds to over-roast as it gives a bitter taste to kuzhambu. Add tamarind water, salt, turmeric powder, sambar powder and let them boil until raw smell of tamarind water / sambar powder goes off. When the gravy starts to thicken carefully add all the lentil balls.

Keep the flame low and let it boil for 5 more minutes. Turn off heat and add chopped cilantro.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

November 1, 2012

Baingan Bhartha

For those who are following my blog will know that my day-to-day menu is rice-based. But last week, I was on a roti-making spree! With pizzas, theplas & rotis, my week was so vibrant and full of flavors! 

Me & VJ are great roti lovers, yet roti shows up only once in a week or two. Somehow, I always feel that making chapathi/roti takes a longer time compared to rice-based dishes. I can whip up a 3 course rice-based meal in no time where as I will be exerting forever to make rotis especially the rolling out part!!! Could it be the lack of skills or just the way I am tuned during all these years?

Things aside, I made this spicy baingan bhartha using fresh smaller variety of Indian eggplants. It’s a spicy Indian food (semi-gravy) at it’s best and should be served alongside soft rotis to enjoy the full flavor of roasted eggplant goodness. Try it next time and you will not be sorry, I promise!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 30 - 45 mins
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 3

Brinjal - 20 nos (smaller variety) / 2 nos (medium sized, bigger variety)
Green chillies - 2 nos (slit vertically)
Onion - 2 nos (Medium sized, Chopped)
Tomato - 2 nos (Medium sized, Chopped)
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Dry methi leaves - 1/2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp
Cilantro - 3 tbsp (finely chopped)

Roast eggplants in the oven in 'broil' mode at 500 degrees F for about 10-15 mins until skin on the eggplant is charred and the inner flesh is very soft. Let the eggplants cool completely and then peel off and discard the charred skin. Coarsely mash the flesh with your hands / a masher and keep aside. I got about 1 3/4 cups of mashed eggplant.

Heat a pan with 2 tbsp of oil. When hot, add the cumin seeds and let it sizzle. Add ginger, green chillies and sauté for a minute. Add onions and sauté until soft and translucent. Then, add tomato and sauté for couple of minutes until tomatoes turns soft & mushy. Now, add all the powdered spices, including garam masala (I used tandoori masala), stir well and cook for 3-5 minutes or until oil separates from the mixture. Keep an eye so that the spices doesn't stick to bottom of the pan. Sprinkle little water if needed.

Now add the mashed eggplant, chopped cilantro, crushed methi leaves and mix well. Cook for a minute or so and turn off the heat. Serve hot with rotis.