Thursday, December 30, 2010

Papadam Curry (Papad ki Sabzi)

What I used:

Large papads : 3 (Masala papads taste best, but could use any type of papads)
Plain yogurt : 1 tbsp
Green chillies : 2 (slit lengthwise)
Red chilli powder : 1/2 tsp
Chopped coriander : 1 to 2 tbsp (chopped)
Cumin seeds : 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds : 1/4 tsp
Fennel seeds : 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds : 1 tsp
Turmeric : one big pinch
Aesofoetida : one big pinch
Coriander powder : 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala : 1/4 tsp
Ghee : 1 tbsp
Salt : as required
Water : 1 cup

How I did:
  • Break the papads into approximately 1" pieces and keep the aside.
  • Heat ghee in a sauce pan on medium heat, add aesofoetida, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric powder, green chillies, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds.
  • When the seeds splutter, add red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala and yogurt.
  • When the yogurt is well mixed with other ingredients and nicely browned, add a cup of water and salt.
  • Bring it a boil and add the papad pieces.
  • Cook for 2 minutes or until the papads are soft and all the water is almost evaporated.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with any roti.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Masala Chai

What I used:

Tea Leaves : 2 tsp
Cinnamon Stick : 1" piece
Cloves : 4 nos.
Cardamom : 4 nos.
Ground ginger : 1/2 tsp (or can use fresh grated ginger)
Fennel seeds : 1 to 2 tsp
Water : 1/2 cup
Milk : 1 1/2 cup
Sugar : as required

How I did:
  • Using a mixer grinder, grind all the spices except tea leaves to a coarse powder. This powder can be made in large quantities and stored for future use.
  • Bring water to boil in a saucepan,  add the spice powder, tea leaves and sugar to taste and lower the flame. Allow it to simmer for about 2 minutes and strain.
  • Serve hot.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kattu Pongali (Rice Pongal)

What I used:

Rice : 1 cup
Split green gram dal : 1/2 cup
Cashews : 2 to 3 tbsp
Ginger : 1/2 inch (finely chopped)
Pepper corns : 1 tsp
Cumin seeds : 1/2 tsp
Mustard Seeds: 1/2 tsp
Ground pepper : 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves : a few (I didn't put them, 'cause I didn't have them)
Salt : as required
Ghee : 2 tbsp

How I did:
  • Wash rice and dal together and keep aside.
  • Heat two tbsp of ghee in a pressure cooker, add cashews, pepper corns, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, chopped ginger and curry leaves.
  • Saute till the seeds splutter and cashews are nicely browned.
  • Pour 4 cups of water and add salt and ground pepper.
  • When the water comes to boil, add rice and dal and put the lid on with the whistle.
  • Cook for upto three whistles and switch off the stove.
  • Wait for ten minutes, open the lid and mix thoroughly.
  • Serve hot with Sambar or Split yellow dal chutney.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ravva Palakura Garelu (Sooji and Spinach Fritters)

What I used:

Bombai Ravva (Sooji) : 1 cup
Urad dal : 1/2 cup
Spinach leaves : a handful (chopped)
Baking soda : 1/4 tsp
Salt : as required
Oil : for deep frying

How I did:
  • Soak urad dal for 2 hours or more and grind into a smooth paste.  This doesn't have to be tight as we do for normal garelu, so add little water while grinding, 
  • Mix ravva to urad dal batter and let rest for half-hour.  Add salt, baking soda and chopped spinach and mix thoroughly.
  • Apply little water to your palms, take a big lemon sized batter, shape it in the form of donut, make a hole in the center and deep fry.
  • When they turn golden brown on both sides transfer them to paper napkin which absorbs excess oil. 
  • Serve hot with any chutney.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Egg Chettinad

What I used:

Hard boiled eggs : 4
Plain yogurt : 1/4 cup
Tomato : 1 (chopped)
Pepper corns : 1/4 tsp
Garlic cloves : 2 to 3 (chopped)
Pepper powder : 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder : 1 pinch
Salt : as required
Chopped coriander : 1 tsp
Oil : 1 tbsp

How I did:

  • Cut the boiled eggs into 6 to 8 pieces each.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan, add chopped garlic cloves and pepper corns.
  • Saute till garlic is nicely browned and add egg pieces and chopped tomatoes.
  • Stir fry till tomatoes are cooked and add yogurt, salt, turmeric powder and pepper powder.
  • Cook till the mixture comes together and egg pieces are coated well with yogurt and spices.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve hot with rice or roti.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gingerbread House and Merry Christmas

We had a play date for kids and I've planned Gingerbread house activity for them.  Everybody had fun assembling their own houses and decorating them.  I got a gingerbread mix from Michaels but I could make only three houses out of that mix.  I had to bake a total of 7 houses and so again I made the cookies from scratch.  I found this recipe in Joy of Baking but substituted molasses with honey and completely omitted nutmeg 'cause I didn't have it.  When I mixed the dough I felt it is too liquidy to roll out immediately, so mixed a little flour and refrigerated for an hour. I made paper cuttings of walls and roof proportionately for a house and used those as stencils for the cookies.  After I've finished with the houses, I made a few Snowmen and Gingerbread Men with the remaining dough.

What I used:

For the Gingerbread House:

All purpose flour : 3 cups (an extra 2 tbs if its too loose)
White granulated sugar : 1/2 cup
Butter : 1/2 cup
Honey : 2/3 cup
Egg : 1
Ground ginger : 2 tsp
Ground cinnamon : 1 tsp
Ground cloves : 1/4 tsp
Salt : 1/4 tsp
Baking soda : 3/4 tsp

For the Frosting:

Powdered sugar : 2 1/4 cups
Egg whites : 3 eggs
Cream of Tarter : 1 tsp

For the Decoration:

M & Ms
Candy canes
Jelly Beans

How I did:

Gingerbread House:
  • Sift together the flour, spices, salt and baking soda and keep it aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy with an hand mixer or electric mixer.
  • Add honey and egg and beat until blended. 
  • Add the flour mixture gradually and beat until the dough comes together.  Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.
  • Preheat oven to 400 deg F.  
  • Directly roll out the dough on the back of the cookies sheet, which makes it easier.  Use a damp towel underneath the cookie sheet which holds the sheet in place while rolling. Lightly flour a cookie sheet from the bottom, unwrap the dough from the wrap, take a big ball sized dough and roll out on the floured cookie sheet to 1/8 inch thickness.
  • Place the paper templates on the rolled dough and cut the shapes with a pizza cutter or you could even use a knife.
  • Carefully remove all the extra dough from the cookie sheet.  This can be used again.
  • Put the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges turn to brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest for about 10 minutes and then transfer to another surface to cool completely.
  • Combine the powdered sugar, egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for about 4 to 5 minutes till stiff peaks form.
Use the frosting as the glue and assemble the house and decorate it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Coffee Fizzle

What I used :

Vanilla Ice cream : 2 scoops
Black coffee : 1/4 cup (Mix some instant coffee powder in warm water and add sugar if desired)
Sprite or plain soda : 1/2 cup
Chocolate syrup : 1 tbsp

How I did:
  • Blend vanilla ice cream, black coffee and chocolate syrup together.
  • Transfer to a serving glass or cup and pour chilled soda or sprite.

Crispy Sesame Cookies

What I used:

All purpose flour : 1 1/4 cups 
Egg : 1
Butter : 1 stick (1/2 cup)
White granulated sugar : 1/2 cup
Brown sugar : 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds : 1 cup
Vanilla extract : 1 tsp
Salt : 1/4 tsp
Baking powder : 1/2 tsp

How I did:

  • Heat a pan on medium heat and roast the sesame seeds until lightly brown.   Keep them aside to cool.
  • Heat the oven to 350 deg F.  
  • Sift all purpose flour, baking powder and salt and keep aside.
  • Take butter, white sugar and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and cream them together for about 2 minutes.
  • Add egg and vanilla extract and beat till combined.  
  • Add the flour mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Fold in 1/3 cup of roasted sesame seeds.
  • Take a tea spoon sized dough, shape into a ball and roll in the sesame seeds to coat.  Similarly make the remaining cookies and place them on a greased cookie sheet leaving 1 inch space between each cookie. Slightly press the balls with a spatula to flatten.
  • Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or edges turn golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring from the cookie sheet.
  • Let cool completely before storage.
  • Makes about 80 cookies.
Sending this to Dr. Sameena's Cookies and Cakes for X-Mas Event

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Challa Pindi

    This is a type of upma made with rice flour and sour curds. Mom prepares this for breakfast whenever curd is leftover at home. Challa Pindi doesn't taste good if the curds are not sour enough.  Here in US usually the curds won't turn that sour because we keep it in the refrigerator . Even if we leave it outside, it won't turn sour because of the cool weather.  As usual I add little lemon juice to fill up that sourness.

    What I used:

    Rice flour : 1 cup
    Sour curd : 1 cups (well whisked)
    Water : 1 cup
    Green chillies : 4 to 5 (slit lengthwise)
    Onions : 1/2 (chopped)
    Mustard seeds : 1/ 2 tsp 
    Bengal gram : 1 tbsp
    Urad dal : 1/2 tsp 
    Cumin : 1/2 tsp 
    Turmeric : a big pinch 
    Curry leaves : a few
    Red Chilli : 1 (broken) 
    Lemon juice : 1 tsp or as required (optional)
    Salt : as required
    Cooking Oil : 1 tbsp

    How I did:
    • To 1 cup of curd add 1 cup of water and whisk well. To this mix rice flour, salt and turmeric powder and keep it aside.
    • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds, bengal gram, urad dal, cumin and red chilli pieces.
    • When the seeds start spluttering, add slit green chillies and curry leaves.
    • Saute for a while and add chopped onions.  Cook till they turn translucent.
    • While stirring, add the rice flour mixture slowly and keep stirring till it starts bubbling. Adjust the salt if any and switch off the stove when the rice flour is cooked.  Add lemon juice and mix.
    • Serve hot as breakfast.

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    My Son's Birthday Cake

    Recently we've celebrated our little son's 2nd birthday at Chuck E Cheese and I made this two layered cake for the celebration. He's very fond of Barney and from the beginning I've been planning for a Barney cake. I worked out on various options to create figurines of Barney, BJ and Baby Bop and finally sticked to marshmallow fondant (MMF). But never wanted to cover the entire cake with fondant, and planned to use whipped cream as a frosting. And for the cake, I used chocolate cake for one layer and sour cream cake for another. 

    But by the time the cake is cut, the fondant circles which I used to decorate the sides of the cake started to slide down slowly. The combination of whipped cream frosting and marshmallow fondant didn't work as I expected (a lesson learnt). Except that, the cake was a hit on the big day.

    Barney and Friends figurines with Marshmallow Fondant:

    16 oz packate of Mini Marshmallows
    2 lbs Confectioner's Sugar 
    Vegetable Shortening as required
    Purple (Red + Blue), Yellow and Green colors (of course edible)
    • First step is to melt marshmallows in a microwave. Grease a microwave safe bowl well with generous amount of vegetable shortening, place the marshmallows in the bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Take the bowl out and stir once and microwave for another 30 seconds more, continue doing this until all the marshmallows are melted. You should even grease the spoon you are using to stir the marshmallows.
    • Sprinkle 3/4 of the powdered sugar into the melted marshmallows and mix with spoon.
    • Now grease your hands then heavily grease the counter you will be using to knead the fondant.  Transfer the fondant mixture to the greased counter and start kneading it.  
    • At this stage it would be real sticky.  Keep kneading by adding confectioner's sugar until you feel it won't accept any more sugar into it.
    • As I've used this fondant to make figurines and not to cover the cake, I wanted this to be much stiffer than normal fondant.  Because when I made figurines with regular fondant recipe, the figures fell flat.
    • For that, when you think it won't accept any more sugar, microwave the dough for about 10 to 15 secs.  It will melt the dough and more sugar can be added to it.  Apply shortening in between to you palms and knead into a smooth dough.
    • Double wrap the entire fondant in cling wrap, and let rest overnight.
    • The next day, divide the dough into portions you like for each color.  Take an individual portion, melt in microwave for 10 seconds and knead the color into it.  Dark colors darken when the fondant sits for a night.   I knew this by experience.  I kneaded red and blue colors to get exact purple color of barney, but by the next day the fondant turned to much darker shade.
    • If you have any excess fondant, double wrap it, put in a ziploc and refrigerate.  Stays good for almost a month.

    One advantage with this marshmallow fondant is that this can be made ahead almost a month earlier. I made the figures four days before the party and this way there is enough time for them to dry.  I shaped all the parts of the figures separately and glued them with betty crocker decorating gel.  I mixed all the colors except black, as I didn't have it handy.  I  have these ready to stick eyes which are generally used on dolls and I used them instead of running to the store to buy black food coloring.

    Chocolate Cake:

    This recipe is from my friend Sridevi who always bakes yummy cakes. 

    2 cups all purpose flour
    2 cups sugar
    2 sticks butter
    8 eggs
    2/3 cup chocolate syrup - Hershey or anything (if you don't have chocolate syrup you can use same amt of milk with cocoa powder of 12 table spoons)
    2/3 cup cocoa powder 
    4 tsp baking powder
    • Sift all purpose flour and baking powder together.
    • Beat butter and sugar till fluffy.
    • Add an egg at a time and keep mixing till frothy and well mixed.
    • Add chocolate syrup and cocoa and mix for another 2 minutes.
    • Then fold in the dry ingredients.
    • Grease and dust a  13x9 inch baking pan 
    • Pour the batter and bake at 350 deg F for around 45 to 50 mins or until tooth pic inserted comes out clean.

    Sour Cream Cake: 

    I found this recipe on Cake Central which calls for almond extract.  But I've added vanilla extract instead of almond in my cake. 

    1 box white cake mix (Betty crocker or pillsbury)
    1 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cups granulated sugar
    3/4 tsp salt
    4 egg whites
    1 1/3 cups water
    2 Tbls. vegetable oil
    1 cup sour cream
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    • This recipes makes a 13x9 " cake.
    • Grease the cake pan and preheat oven to 325 deg F.
    • Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together with a wire whisk.  Add the remaining wet ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
    • Pour into greased pan a little over half full. Tap the pan on the counter to level and to remove any air bubbles.
    • Bake in the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes or till a tooth pic inserted comes out clean.

    Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting:

    6 cups Heavy whipping cream
    4 tsps Unflavored Gelatin
    1 cup of water
    1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
    3 tsps vanilla extract
    • Chill the mixing bowl and the whisk atleast for half an hour before you start whipping.  The cake should be chilled too. 
    • Take a cup of water and sprinkle the gelatin on the top.  Let it rest and dissolve for 5 minutes.  Put it in the microwave to warm just or 10 secs.  Stir and microwave again or 10 more secs.  Let the gelatin cool down at room temperature or 10 minutes.
    • Take the heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in the mixing bowl and start whisking at low speed for 5 minutes or until soft peak forms.   Pour in the cooled gelatin and whisk until firm peaks are formed.  
    • Use immediately to frost the cake as desired but refrigerate until used.

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Ridge gourd Dip

    What I used:

    1/2 cup chopped Ridge gourd with skin
    1 chopped Tomato
    2 cloves Garlic
    3 tbsp Sesame seeds
    1 to 1 1/2 cups Sour Cream
    Salt to taste
    4 to 5 chopped Green chillies
    1 tbsp Cumin seeds
    1 tbsp Coriander seeds
    1 tbsp Cooking Oil

    How I did:

    • On a medium flame, heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds, coriander seeds and sesame seeds to it.
    • When sesame seeds start spluttering, puff up and lightly browned, add chopped ridge gourd and cook uncovered for about 2 minutes.
    • Add chopped tomato, little salt and cook it covered till the vegetables are completely cooked.
    • When cooled grind all the cooked mixture along with garlic pods into a smooth paste adding required amount of salt.  Finally add sour cream and run on pulse till combined.
    • Serve chilled with any chips.

    Semiya Payasam

    What I used:

    Vermicelli : 1 1/2 cup
    Milk : 3 cups
    Water : 2 cups
    Condensed Milk : 1/2 can
    Sugar : 1/3 cup or as required
    Nuts : as you wish (I used cashews, almonds, raisins)
    Ghee : 1 tbsp

    How I did:
    • Take a sauce pan and boil 2 cups of water in it on medium high flame.
    • Reduce the flame to medium and add vermicelli to it.  You can also use roasted vermicelli if you wish.
    • Cook for about two minutes and pour 3 cups of milk.
    • Once the milk comes to boil add condensed milk and sugar.
    • Switch off the stove once it comes to boil and leave it on the same stove for 10 minutes.
    • Heat ghee in another pan, add all the nuts and fry till nicely browned.
    • Pour into the payasam.
    • Serve warm as a dessert.
    Note:  When the stove is switched off, the payasam will be in liquid consistency and thickens after 10 to 15 minutes.


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