Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tamarind and carom seed Stuffed Jalapeno Fritters



I know. I know. I am giving you an over dose of chilies. First there was habanero chili salsa. Now there is jalapeño fritters. I think I am going through a phase where I am not able to stop eating peppers. Be it habanero, jalapeños or the Bhavnagari. I seem to love them all.



The chili fritters or the mirapakaya bajji always makes me nostalgic. Since these fritters are a very common street food in my home town, savoring these spicy fritters was almost an everyday affair. Hundreds have been the evenings where we enjoyed these batter coated chili fritters with steaming cup of tea. Strangely though, these fritters were never made at home. It was always brought from the push cart vendor from street corner. I vaguely remember the chili fritters that he made was way different from what I have for you today. His fritters were stuffed. But then the stuffing was mostly a mixture of the humble cumin seed powder and red chili powder. The stuffing was simple. But then, it transformed the plain chili into something aromatic and exotic. I remember we couldn't get enough of these crisp, batter coated peppers.



Despite all the nostalgia and the fond memories, I never thought of making these fritters at home. When I found these fresh jalapeños during one of my shopping trips, the memories came flooding back and I knew I had to make these at home. This recipe for the hyderabadi style mirapakaya bajjis were given to me by a neighbor and dear friend. I made a few changes to the recipe to suit our taste buds and outcome was delicious. The fritters were over even before I knew it. Do give this recipe a try and let me know if you like it.



Stuffed Jalapeno Fritters recipe:
Preparation time- 25min
Cooking time- 20min
Makes- 10 fritters

Ingredients:
Jalapeno chilies- 10, washed and pat dried
For the stuffing:
Tamarind- Size of a small lime
Jaggery- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Ajwain or carom seeds- 1tsp
Saunf or fennel seeds- a pinch
Grated dry coconut- 2tbsp
Gram flour- 1tsp
For the Batter:
Gram flour or besan- 6tbsp
Rice flour- 1-1/2tbsp
Salt- 1tsp
Asafetida- a pinch
Paprika powder- 1/2 tsp
Water as needed
Other ingredients:
Oil to deep fry


Method:
  • Make a 3" vertical slit in the green chilies and scoop out the ribs and seeds from the chilies and keep aside. You can choose to leave the seeds if you prefer your fritters extra hot.
For the filling:
  • Soak the tamarind in quarter cup of water for 15mins. Extract the pulp and mix it with jaggery and salt.
  • Transfer the tamarind mixture to a thick bottomed vessel and boil the mixture on low heat till the water is evaporated and a thick paste is formed. Take off the heat and set it aside.
  • Dry roast the carom seeds and fennel seeds till fragrant (it doesn't have to turn brown) and set aside to cool.
  • Dry roast the desiccated coconut for a few seconds and keep aside.
  • Grind the toasted seeds and the grated coconut to a powder in blender till fine. Mix the gram flour and pulse till well combined.
  • Add the ground mixture along to the tamarind pulp and mix to form a thick paste.

For the batter:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the gram flour, rice flour, salt, paprika powder and asafetida and mix well. Add water gradually to make a thick batter and keep aside.
To Proceed:
  • Stuff each chili with a tea spoon of the stuffing mixture and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok. To check if the oil is hot enough, drop a little batter into the oil. If the batter rises to the top slowly, then the oil is hot enough.
  • At this stage, add two tea spoons of the hot oil to the prepared batter and mix it carefully.
  • Dip the stuffed peppers in the batter to coat completely and place it in the pre heated oil and fry till the fritter turns golden in color. 
  • Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the stuffed peppers. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with a dip of your choice.




Thursday, February 26, 2015

Stir fried paneer and mushroom


Todays recipe is an easy and a fun side dish that can be put together in just 15mins. And, it tastes absolutely delicious. I wish all recipes were like this.



Mushroom is one vegetable that rarely makes an appearance on the dining table. The reason for this is, S never eats them. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get my husband to like mushrooms. "It's a tasteless fungi. How can you eat them?" he says. So I cook mushrooms for Purvi and for myself. Whenever, S is not in town, I make this easy stir fry. This is one of the quickest ways to turn the "tasteless fungi" into a robust and an exciting ingredient. It's amazing what you can do with just a few ingredients. 


This recipe is one of my favorites because it is so vibrant with an interesting blend of textures and flavors. This dish is a medley of vegetables and soft paneer, which I feel is a winning combo. One bite of this simple stir fry and I am sure you will agree with me. 


Stir fried paneer and mushroom recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 10mins
Serves- 4


Ingredients:
Sesame oil or any other oil- 2tbsp
Sesame seeds- 1-1/2 tsp
Garlic- 2cloves, crushed
Spring onions- 4, whites and greens separated
Red chili flakes- 1/2tsp
Freshly ground black pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Dark soya sauce- 1tsp
Mushrooms- 200gms, cleaned and cut into quarters
A mixture of red, green and yellow bell peppers- 1/2 cup, sliced length wise
Salt- to taste
Paneer- 300gms, cut into cubes

Method:
  • Heat oil in a large wok on medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and salute till they turn brown. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds. Do not allow the garlic to turn brown.
  • Stir in the spring onion whites and fry for a minute. Add the quarter mushrooms, bell peppers and salt and fry for 5-8 minutes till the most of the water has evaporated.
  • Add the pepper powder, chili flakes and soya sauce and fry for 2minutes more. Add the Paneer cubes and mix the paneer along with the vegetables. Remove from heat and serve hot with rice or noodles.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Roasted tomato habanero salsa


Today I am blogging about one of my favorite condiments. Yes. The Salsa happens to be one my favorite condiments these days. I just love the versatility that this dip has to offer. Among the other possibilities, I like salsa in my sandwiches, pizzas, rice and along side corn chips. The versa;city of the Mexican salsa is limit less.


Over the past few months, I have developed a special liking to the Mexican cuisine. This liking could be because the mexican cuisine is very similar to the Indian cuisine. There is a similar use of spices like chilies and cumin. The tortillas bear a close resemblance to our humble rotis. I have even noticed that the Mexican rice dishes are very much like the Indian Pulao. While the Mexican cuisine depends heavily on rice, corn and beans, Indian cuisine is never really complete with out rice and Dal. 


Coming to this Salsa, let me give you a small warning. For this condiment is not for faint hearted. It would be an understatement if I say that this salsa is spicy. It is fiery hot. Despite the heat, this salsa is oddly addictive. So addictive, that I find myself heating it straight from the spoon. All I need is some tortilla chips and a perfect snack is at my disposal.


Roasted tomato habanero salsa recipe:
Preparation time: 10mins+20mins grilling time
Cooking time- nil
Makes- Approximately 400gms

Ingredients:
Tomatoes- 6 large, halved
Habanero chilies- 2, deseeded
Red Bell peppers- 2 med, halved and deseeded
Onion- 1 med, peeled and cut into quarters
Carrot- 1med, peeled and cut into pieces
Garlic cloves- 3, peeled
Lemon juice- 1-1/2 tbsp
Orange juice- 1tbsp
Dried oregano-1tsp
Taco seasoning mix- 1tsp
Sugar- 1tsp
Salt- to taste
Olive oil- 2-1/2+1tbsp for roasting
Coriander leaves- 4tbsp, finely chopped


Method:
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C. Grease a shallow baking dish with 2tspns olive oil. Place the tomatoes, onions, chilies, bell peppers cut side down.
  • Also place the garlic cloves and carrot pieces in the dish. Brush the remaining olive oil over all the vegetables and sprinkle 1/2 a tsp of salt.
  • Broil in the preheated oven in the top shelf for 15-20mins until slightly charred.
  • Allow the vegetables to cool completely before transferring to a blender jar. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the coriander leaves and blend till slightly chunky. 
  • Add the coriander leaves and pulse for a couple of times.
  • Transfer the salsa to a clean jar and allow the salsa to stand in the refrigerator for at least three to four hours or over night for the flavors to enhance.

Notes:

  • If you feel the habanero chilies are too spicy for you then simply substitute them with 2-3 jalapeño chilies.
  • I felt the orange juice gave a pleasant sweetness to the salsa. You can omit orange juice if you want to.
  • The taco seasoning mix can be substituted with a teaspoon of cumin seed powder and half a teaspoon of paprika powder.
  • The you do not like your salsa chunky, then simply blend the ingredients for a few more minutes till the desired consistency has reached.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Carrot coriander soup



I am back with a recipe for a simple yet heart warming soup. I love this soup. Simply because it is one of those soups which can be made with a handful of ingredients that are readily available in the pantry and with a minimal fuss. Carrots, onion and potato for the base which is spiced with coriander leaves, stalks, and coriander seeds. Once pureed, you can flavor it with whatever toppings you have on hand. This is one soup that I am asked to make often and I was asked to make this soup since we have all been under the wether since the past week. We were all down with flu and we ate a lot of this soup during those days. 


This creamy carrot soup is an absolute dream!! Even if I may say so myself. It is perfectly sweet, healthy, comforting, flavor packed and tastes very rich even with out too much butter or cream. Can a recipe get any better than that? 



This hearty and flavor packed soup turns the humble carrots into something special. The cumin and coriander seed powder gives depth where as the fresh coriander leaves lends a delicate flavor to the soup. 


The recipe can easily be halved if you want to make two large portions. You could also top it with with cream and pumpkin seeds if you like your soup rich. I served this soup with some home made garlic croutons. But you could serve any crusty bread of your choice. This soup can either be a part of the meal or it can be served as an elegant appetizer. Either ways, it will taste just as delicious. 


Carrot coriander soup recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 10min
Serves- 6-8

Ingredients:
Butter- 1-1/2tbsp
10 small carrots- peeled and cut into 1" long pieces
Potato- 1 small, peeled and cubed
Onion- 1 med, peeled and chopped
Coriander leaves and stalks- 3tbsp, chopped fine
Salt- 1tsp or to taste
Coriander seed powder- 1tsp
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Pepper- 1/2tsp
Water- 4cups
Milk- 1 cup
Coriander leaves for garnish


Method:
  • Melt butter in a thick bottomed pan. Add the carrots, potato, onion and salute for five mins.
  • Stir in the coriander leaves and stalk, salt, coriander powder, and pepper powder and sauté for a two more mins.
  • Add water and cook covered till the vegetables are completely cooked.
  • Allow the mixture to cool completely before transferring to a food processor or liquidizer to make a puree.
  • Return the puree to a pan and bring the mixture to a boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat add milk. Mix and return the pan to heat but do not allow the mixture to boil.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with croutons or bread of your choice.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Banana Chocolate bread


This bread is our current obsession. We just don't seem to get enough of this sweet tea loaf. Purvi has been asking me to bake something with chocolate in it. Besides that, the oven had been cold for quite a while. It was high time, I baked something. 


This recipe is adapted from a book called Vegetarian Kitchen by Gita Balsekar. I had purchased this book a long time ago and just forgotten about it. I found the book when I was cleaning up the cupboard. I scanned through the contents of the book and I found some pretty interesting recipes. Among those recipes, this Banana bread caught my attention. After admonishing myself for ignoring the book for so long, I started baking this bread immediately.

What makes this recipe unique is that, it uses fresh bread crumbs along with the flour. Something that I had never come across before. I was a little apprehensive in the beginning. But one bite of the bread set all my doubts to rest. The bread was not only quick and easy to prepare, but it was utterly delicious without being overtly sweet. Texture wise, it was moist without being too dense. Even S who is not a big fan of sweet breads gave a thumbs up. I couldn't ask for anything more. Could I?


Although the recipe was perfect, I couldn't help but make a few changes. Some changes, I made were that, I reduced the quantity of butter and sugar, I made some changes in the quantities of the raising agents. But despite the reduction of butter and sugar, the bread turned out just perfect. I suggest you give this recipe a try. This bread makes a perfect tea time snack or an after school snack if you have kids around. 

Banana chocolate bread recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Baking time- 30-40min
Makes one 9X5 loaf

Ingredients:
All purpose flour- 240gms, measured after sifting thrice
Baking powder- 1/2tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Fresh bread crumbs- 240gms, loosely packed (2 bread slices will yield 240gms of crumbs)
Butter- 6tbsp, softened
Icing sugar- 1/2cup or 120gms+2tbsp
Vanilla essence- 1/2tsp
Over ripe Bananas- 3large
Lemon juice- 1tbsp
Milk- 2tbsps
Chocolate sprinkles- 1/3 cup


Method:

  • Grease and dust a 9X5 loaf pan with butter and flour, Line it with baking paper and set aside.
  • Puree the bananas along with the lemon juice and set aside.
  • Sift the flour along with the baking powder and baking soda. Combine the fresh bread crumbs along with the flour mixture and keep aside.
  • In a large bowl, Beat the softened butter along with icing sugar till soft peaks are formed. Add the vanilla essence and beat some more.
  • Stir in the pureed bananas and milk and mix till we combined.
  • Add the flour-bread crumb mixture gradually and mix using the mix and fold method. Do not over mix.
  • Stir in the chocolate sprinkles and mix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 30-40 mins or till a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow the bread to cool slightly in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  • Serve warm with a cup of coffee or milk.
Notes:
  • You can vary the recipe by replacing the chocolate sprinkles with 1/4 cup of raisins and 1/3 cup of walnuts.
  • You can also spice up the bread by adding 1/2 a tsp of cinnamon
  • The icing sugar can be replaced with castor sugar.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ellu Bella for Shankranti



The last time I checked, it was the beginning of the new year. And blink!!! a good two weeks has whizzed past and Shankranti is already here!!! A very happy Shankranti to all my friends and readers.

Makar Shankranti is one festival that is celebrated all across India in different styles and forms. This is a major Hindu festival that signifies the beginning of Spring. Shankranti is a harvest festival that is known to fall on the same date every year.


In Kannadiga homes, it is mandatory to prepare the mixture of Ellu bella (Ellu- meaning Sesame seeds and Bella meaning Jaggery). The Ellu bella is nothing but a trail mix of Jaggery, Sesame seeds, Peanuts, Dried coconut and Roasted gram. It is an amalgamation of simple and wholesome ingredients and anybody can make it. But what makes this mix really special is that, it is never made by handful or spoonful. Despite the hard work of chopping and roasting and cleaning, the Ellu bella is always made in quantities that is large enough to be shared with atleast ten houses.

Well at least that's how it used to be.


Since the ellu bella was not sold in shops back then, I remember, my mom would start preparing the ellu bella mixture a good ten days before Shankranti. She would start the process by gently grating the outer brown skin. She would carefully dice the coconut into small equal pieces. It was then followed by chopping the cubes of jaggery into small cubes. She would then toast the sesame seeds and the Roasted gram on low heat. She would then take up the messy job of roasting and cleaning the peanuts. After all this was done, she would mix up the ingredients and store it in a huge container that was as big as a bucket. 


If you think the preparation would end here, then you are wrong. My mom would stitch tiny potlis (small bags with a thread lock) to give away the ellu bella mixture in them. 

It was less of a preparation really and more about customs and rituals.


Although I live in the contemporary times, I firmly believe in keeping the tradition alive. I think deep down inside me, there still dwells an old fashioned woman.

So this time, I decided to make ellu bella from the scratch just like my mother. I could have brought the ready made mix from Bangalore. But making it from the scratch was somehow satisfying. When we started the auspicious day by consuming this home made ellu bella, I was filled with a feeling of achievement.

The highlight of Shankranti, has to be the ritual of Ellu birodu. The ritual where, young girls and married women, dressed in all finery, visit near and dear ones with the customary Shankranti offering. The shankranti Potpourri normally consists of Ellu Bella, Fresh Sugar cane, Sugar candy moulds (sakkare acchu in kannada), Bananas, Berries, flowers and turmeric-vermilion. There is a saying in Kannada "ellu Bella thindu olle maatadi" which translates to "eat the mixture of sesame and Jaggery and speak good words". In some parts of Karnataka, it is customary for newly wedded woman to give away Bananas for a period of five years to other married women from the first year of marriage. But the quantity of bananas are increased by multiples of five with each passing year. 


It was hard work and it took me a long time to make this this traditional trail mix. But the fact that I am acting as a link to the next generation is reason enough to learn and make it. For I know, that there is a small chance that Purvi will continue to learn and enjoy the traditions as much as I do.

Happy Shankranti People. May this year be filled with fun, food, peace and prosperity.

Ellu Bella recipe:
Preparation time: 3hrs
Makes- approximately 1-1/4kg

Ingredients:
Dark Jaggery cubes or acchu bella- 300gms
Peanuts- 300gms
Whole dried coconut or copra- about 2 or 300gms
Roasted gram or hurigadale- 300gms
White Sesame seeds- 60gms

Method:

  • Dice the Jaggery cubes into small pieces and keep aside.
  • Gently grate the outer brown skin of the coconut and cut them into small pieces and keep aside.
  • Gently toast the roasted gram on low heat and set aside.
  • In the same pan, toast the sesame seeds till pale brown and keep aside. DO NOT wait for it to crackle.
  • To clean the Peanuts, roast the peanuts in a pre heated pan by sautéing continuously till they crackle. Take off the heat and allow the peanuts to cool completely.
  • Spread a tea towel on the kitchen counter and place a hand full of peanuts on the towel and bring the edges together. Using your hands, rub the peanuts between the towel and work surface so that the friction created, loosens the skin.
  • The skin will not fall off instantly. Separate the ones which have lost the skin and continue the same procedure with the rest. The peanuts should be pale brown in color without any burnt spots.
  • Take all the prepared ingredients in a large bowl and toss them well and store in airtight containers.
Notes:
  • Do not throw away the grated brown skin of the coconut. It can be used in any recipe that calls for grated dry coconut.
  • Do not fry the roasted gram till brown. It should be warmed on low heat.
  • I found that using a ridged kitchen towel creates more friction and makes the peanut skins come off faster.
  • If you are not fond of consuming ellu bella in the mix form, then just pulse them in a blender to a fine powder, shape them into laddus and enjoy!!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Coconut caramel ice cream


Hello friends!!! Do you still remember me? This time I have not only been absent from blogging but also from all the social networking sites in general. It's not that I don't have anything to share. On the contrary, I have quite a few posts lined up in my drafts.


This absence was quite unexpected actually. We had planned our annual vacation to Bangalore during the last week of November. But Purvi's Passport renewal got delayed and all of a sudden, we didn't know if we would be traveling. But somehow things got sorted out and Purvi's passport got renewed sooner than we expected. So we just decided to pack our bags and travel on the scheduled date. Instead of traveling straight to Bangalore, we decided to make brief stop over in Dubai to celebrate our wedding Anniversary. We managed to see all the important places in just two days. It was a little tiring but it was also a whole lot of fun. I just couldn't get enough of clicking the Burj Khalifa, the fountain and the fishes in the aquarium. The only thing that was better than all  the shopping and the sights were the wishes that we got from family and friends on FB. Your wishes and blessing came as an icing on the cake.  A big thank you for all of you for making my anniversary extra special.

After I landed in Bangalore, I got swept away with all the shopping, visiting and pampering. So you see, updating the blog, invariably took a back seat. I know it's more than a week since my wedding anniversary, But it's never too late for an ice cream treat is it? So I would like to treat you all with this coconut caramel ice cream for my anniversary. 


This magical, delicious and soft ice cream recipe came about when I decided to experiment with some left over caramel sauce and a tin of coconut cream. This experiment was a huge success and ice cream turned out to be extremely rich and delicious. The self proclaimed connoisseur of good food said it tasted like condensed milk with a tropical twist. And he couldn't stop eating it. To me, that is nothing short of a rave review. So if you are looking for new ice cream flavour, then I suggest, you give this recipe a try. I assure you, you will not be disappointed.


Coconut caramel ice cream recipe
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time- 25min
Freezing time- 6-7hrs

Ingredients:
Coconut cream- 625ml
Cream- 250ml
Corn starch- 2 tsp
Milk-  2tbsp
Caramel sauce- 1/2 cup
For the caramel:
Condensed milk- 1/2 tin
Butter- 1/4 cup
Sugar- 1/4 cup
Golden syrup- 2tbsp


Method:
To make the caramel sauce:
  • Combine the Condensed milk, butter, Sugar and golden syrup in a thick bottomed pan and mix well. 
  • Allow the mixture to simmer over medium heat till the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved.
  • Increase the heat and allow the mixture to bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to bubble for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously so that it does not burn. Remove the mixture and set aside.
For the ice cream:
  • Make a slurry by mixing the corn starch and milk and set aside.
  • Combine the coconut cream and cream in a thick bottomed pan and allow the mixture to simmer over medium heat.
  • Once the mixture comes to a gentle boil, stir in the slurry and the caramel and mix well.
  • Allow the mixture to simmer for 10-15minutes more or until the mixture is thick enough to cover the back of the spoon.
  • Transfer the mixture to a freezer safe bowl and set aside to cool completely.
  • Cover the ice cream with a cling film touching the top and then secure it with an air tight lid.
  • Freeze the ice cream for 4hrs or overnight and Enjoy!!!
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