Monday, February 8, 2016

Kashmiri dum aloo

Potatoes are something I reach out to when I am stuck with the question of "what should I cook?" These tubers are so versatile that there are so many ways to make them. And all of them are sure to turn out delicious. You can either make a simple stir fry out of them or you can turn it into a scrumptious and rich yogurt based side dish like this one.



The Kashmiri Dum aloo is perhaps one of the best and most favored dish from the Indian state of Kashmir. The dum aloo that are served in the restaurants, most of the times, are not authentic. For the authentic dum aloo, is not cooked in tomato and cashew paste. Traditionally, Kashmiri dum aloo is made by simmering deep fried potatoes in spice infused yogurt. This dish is slow cooked on a very low heat in a vessel that has it;s lid tightly sealed. This

process of cooking is called as dum cooking. During the cooking process, the spice infused yogurt is absorbed by potatoes making them almost dry. The most important step in making the dum aloo is to prick the potatoes with a skewer or a tooth pick. This ensures that the spices and flavors are completely absorbed by potatoes.

The spices used in this recipe depends on the individual taste and varies from recipe to recipe. In this version I have used dry ginger powder, kashmiri red chili powder, fennel seed powder, cumin-coriander seed powder and a pinch of garam masala. The deep, roasted flavors of the spices is balanced by the sweet yogurt and the hint of cream. Also, do not hold back on the clarified butter (ghee). For it helps in taking the flavor quotient up by a notch.


The Kashmiri Dum aloo is a great recipe if you are looking for a great recipe to satisfy your hungry stomach and tickle your taste buds. But I believe that this sweet and spicy curry does something more than that. It satiates your soul.

Kashmiri dum aloo recipe:
Preparation time: 25min
Cooking time: 15min
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
Baby Potatoes- 12
Ghee or clarified butter- 2tbsp+1tbsp
Asafetida- A large pinch
Thick yogurt- 300ml
Dry ginger powder- 1tsp
Saunf or fennel seed powder- 1/2tsp
Kashmiri red chili powder- 1tsp
Cumin seed powder- 1/2tsp
Coriander seed powder- 1/2tsp
Turmeric- 1/4tsp
Salt- to taste
Sugar- 1/2tsp
Cumin seeds
Garam masala- 1/2tsp
Cream- 2tbspns (optional)
Coriander leaves to garnish.

Method:
  • Boil the baby potatoes in enough water till fork tender. Drain and allow the potatoes to cool. Peel the cooled potatoes, prick them with a tooth pick and set aside.
  • In a bowl, whisk the yogurt along with the ginger powder, fennel seed powder, cumin-coriander seed powder, red chili powder, turmeric, salt and sugar and set aside.
  • Heat two table spoons of ghee in a thick bottomed pan. Add the boiled potatoes and fry till they turn golden in color. Take off the heat and set aside.
  • Add another table spoon of ghee to the same pan and add the cumin seeds. Once they turn brown, add the asafetida and fry for a few seconds.
  • Stir in the cooked fried potatoes and the yogurt mixture and cook covered for on low heat for 15-20 mins.
  • Add the garam masala and the cream. Mix well and take off the heat. 
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis, parathas or rice.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The best Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookies


I think a recipe for a good chocolate chip cookie is a must in any Baker's recipe repertoire. Whether it is for a crispy one or a soft chewy one, almost everyone I have known has their own chocolate chip cookie recipe.


This chocolate studded cookie is i think a favorite in most of the households. To me, it is a dessert staple, a timeless classic, an amazing snack that can be had warm, cold or dunked in milk. It can be had either as a dough, as or along with ice cream. It can be had in a hundred different ways. But the chocolate chip cookie cannot be resisted by anybody.


I have been baking these cookies for quite sometime now. Since I have two compulsive chocolate addicts at home, these cookies are most sought after. Purvi and S like these cookies so much that I bake these atleast once in a fortnight.


This recipe or the delightful chocolate chip cookie is adapted from Anna Olsen's book, Back to baking. In this recipe, the basic brown sugar cookie dough is used as a base for the chocolate chip cookie. I have made a few modifications to make the cookies a little crisp as We love our cookies to have a bit of a crunch. 


The changes I have made are, I have substituted the half cup of brown sugar with the icing sugar and the quarter cup of white sugar with the brown sugar. The egg was substituted with milk. These little changes made the cookies light and crispy. This recipe is something that I will treasure.


So if you are looking for the perfect Eggless Chocolate chip cookie, then look no further. This recipe is just perfect. It is a simple recipe of a brown sugar cookie dough with lots of chocolate chips. Can it get any home spun than this?? I guess not.


Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe:
Preparation time: 15min+chilling time
Baking time: 10-12mins
Makes- 24-28cookies

Ingredients:
Unsalted butter- 8tbsp, at room temperature
Icing sugar- 1/2 cup
Brown sugar- 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract- 1tsp
Milk- 1-1/2tbsp
All purpose flour- 1-1/4 cup or 320ml (measured after sifting thrice)
Corn starch- 2tbsp
Baking soda- 1/2tsp
Salt- a large pinch
Semi sweet Chocolate chips- 3/4 cup

Method:
  • Cream the butter, icing sugar and brown sugar till fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and milk and whisk some more and keep aside.
  • Sift the all purpose flour along with the corn starch, baking soda and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips and mix till well combined.
  • Wrap the dough in a cling film and chill in  the refrigerator for 30min.
  • Scoop a table spoons of the chilled dough and shape them into balls. Flatten them slightly between your palms and place them 2 inches apart on to the parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 10-12 or till the undersides are brown.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • These cookies can be stored in air tight containers for upto two weeks. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Aloogadde bajji- Potato Fritters


It has been raining incessantly in my part of the world. The earth seems to be covered with fog and mist and one can hear the pitter patter of rain drops for most part of the day. About two days ago, I woke up to the sound of the rain. There was something magical about that the way the rain was hitting the glass pane. I stood by the window and watched the rain for a long time. At that point of time, I felt that the world was at peaceful and vibrant. Everything seemed Rain kissed and spectacular.




I am not sure if it is just me, but the monsoons always makes me crave for  deep fried snacks. Bajjis to be precise. The mere thought of bajjis or fritters with a piping hot cup of tea or coffee can make you feel pampered.



The crispy, golden and light bajjis is very versatile. Since these fritters can be made with any vegetable that you can lay your hands on, it is a clever  way to sneak vegetables into your diet. Especially if you have fussy kids at home.


The aloogadde bajji is so delicious on t's own that it is difficult to stop at one. But pair it with chutney, ketchup or dip of your choice and these fritters is surely a winner. So jump in my friends. Make these wonderful fritters the next time it rains (or not rains) and enjoy with your family and friends!!!


Aloogadde bajji recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 20min
Serves- 4-6 people

Ingredients:
Potato- 1 large
Gram flour or besan- 2 cups or 150gms
Rice flour- 4 heaped tbsp
Salt to taste
Red chili powder- 1/2tsp
Asafetida- a large pinch.
Oil to deep fry

Method:
  • Wash the potato well and pat it dry. Cut the potato into thin slices and immerse the slices in a bowl of water till it is ready to use.
  • Combine the gram flour, rice flour, salt, red chili powder and asafetida in a large bowl and mix well. Divide the flour mixture into two portions and set one portion aside.
  • Add water gradually to one portion and make a batter that neither too thick or too thin. The batter should resemble thick dosa batter.
  • Heat oil a wok. To check if the oil is hot enough, drop a drop of batter into the oil, if the oil is ready, then the batter will rise to the surface almost immediately.
  • Drain the potato slices and pat dry with a cloth. Dip each potato slice in the prepared batter in such way that the batter coats the slice on both sides. 
  • Drop the batter coated potato slice gently into the oil. You can fry four to five fritters at a time. Do not overcrowd the oil. 
  • Take the fritters out of the oil with a slotted spoon and drain the fritters on paper towels and serve them tomato ketchup or chutney of your choice.
  • Make the batter with the rest of the flour mixture and repeat the procedure with the rest of the potato slices.

Notes:
  • These fritters can be made with sliced onions, ridge gourd, cauliflower florets or raw bananas.
  • You can add a pinch of baking soda to make the fritters more crispy.
  • You can make double the quantity of the flour mixture and store them in airtight containers and use as required.
  • I made the batter in batches because the batter tends to become runny after a few minutes and the fritters will not turn out crisp.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sakkare Acchu- Molded Sugar figurines for Shankaranti


A very Happy Makara Shankaranti to all the readers of Paaka-Shaale!!!

The sun has already entered the Constellation of capricorn Marking the season of harvest for Indians. It is also believed to be the beginning of the Spring. The festival of Shankaranti is especially important to farmers as it is the harvesting festival. During this time one can see women and little girls dressed in their newest of clothes exchanging Ellu Bella, Bananas, Sugar cane and Sakkare Acchu.


The Sakkare Acchu is nothing but sugar figurines made out of purified sugar syrup. Making Sakkare Acchu is an art from in itself. It requires a lot of patience, time and a diligent eye to get it right. And the final outcome can make you dance with euphoria. 


This is not my first attempt at making Sakkare Acchu. I had tried making these beauties almost eight years ago. The outcome was not very encouraging. Even the word "disastrous" would sound very mild. It was a wasted effort and it left me in tears. 


As a child I never liked Sakkare Acchu. I couldn't (and still can't) understand how one can eat something as sugary as this. My opinion about the Acchu hasn't changed after all these years. I cannot bring myself to taste even a small bite of the Acchu. But the only reason, I decided to try making these beauties again was because I wanted Purvi to be exposed to the wonderful customs and traditions that our ancestors used to follow. 


This time however, I did not embark on the Sakkare Acchu making mission blindly. I watched some youtube videos from here and here. I must say that these videos are just brilliant. They have explained all the nuances of making the Acchus in great detail. I suggest you watch these videos if want to make Sakkare Acchu for the first time.


Wish you all a very happy Sahnkaranti!! May your year be filled with an abundance of peace, love, joy, good and prosperity!!

Sakkare Acchu recipe:
Preparation time: 20min+soaking time
cooking time- 60 min
Makes- 2-1/2 to 3 dozen Figurines

Ingredients:
Sugar-2 cups
Water - 1cup
Milk-2 tbsp+2tbsp
Curds-2 tbsp
Other:
Two thick bottomed pans
Traditional wooden or metallic chocolate molds
A white cloth for straining the syrup


Method:

  • Soak the sugar  and water for a couple of hours. Mix well and put the sugar solution on low heat and bring it to a gentle boil.
  • Line the scond pan with the cloth and keep aside. Add 2tbsp of milk to the boiling sugar solution and mix well. You will see the scum floating on the surface. Take the syrup off the heat and pour it into the cloth lined pan and strain the scum.
  • Put the strained solution back on heat and bring it to a boil. Add Curds to the syrup and strain again.
  • Bring the syrup to a boil once again, add the remaining milk and strain again.
  • Divide the strained syrup into four portions and bring one portion of the syrup to a boil on a low flame. Continue boiling for two minutes. Take off the heat and beat the syrup vigorously for a few seconds.
  • Put the syrup back on the flame and bring to a boil again. Remove from heat beat again for a few seconds.
  • Continue the process of boiling and beating for at least seven to ten times. After which  the syrup turns white and translucent and the consistency itself becomes thick, like castor oil.
  • To check if the syrup is ready, drop a small drop of syrup in a bowl of water. If the syrup stays at the bottom with getting dissolved and forms a soft ball when removed from water, then the syrup is ready.
  • Take the syrup off the heat and immediate spoon the syrup into prepared molds. Make sure you act fast as the syrup solidifies almost very fast. Allow the syrup to set and solidify in the mold for 10-15mins.
  • Remove the figurines carefully from the molds with the help of a sharp knife or a tooth pick. Arrange them on a platter for a couple of minutes more before storing them in airtight container.
  • Repeat the procedure with the second half of the syrup.
Notes:
  • The soaking of sugar is not mandatory. But then, the soaking does make the sugar dissolve faster.
  • In case you are using the traditional wooden molds, then make sure they are washed and soaked overnight. Wipe and dry them well before use.
  • The color of the acchus depends on the sugar that is used. The sugar that I used was slightly pale brown in color. That is the reason my acchus did not come out white.
  • If the figurines breaks by any chance, then do not waste them. Put the broken pieces back on the heat along with a few table spoons of filtered sugar syrup and melt it and repeat the procedure.
  • A few drops of lemon juice can be added to give a hint of citrus to the caches.
  • Since I did not have the traditional wooden molds, I used metallic candy/chocolate molds to make the Acchus. You can also use silicone molds. But I am not comfortable with the idea of hot syrup being poured into plastic/silicone

Monday, January 11, 2016

Green Tomato Pachadi


I am back with my first post of the year. This also happens to be the first savory post after a long time!! There I was wishing everyone a "Happy new year" and blink!! We are almost in the mid week of January. Time sure does fly.


I have been trying to post this recipe sine the past week. But I couldn't publish it due to some reason or the other. I am not exaggerating when I say that I completed this post by typing one paragraph a day. 

If you walk into our house at any given time, you are sure to find a jar of chutney powder, two to three jars of pickles and a jar of chutney or pachadi. S always says that a good condiment can turn a dull meal into a good one and good meal into a fabulous one. I really enjoy making condiments and I am always making one thing or the other. So this time it was this green tomato Pacahdi.


This green tomato relish is slightly different from the other tomato relishes that I have tasted. Here, the green tomatoes are roughly chopped and slow cooked in it's own juices. It is then ground along with toasted sesame seeds and cumin seeds. These seeds, apart from lending volume and body to the relish, also imparts a nutty flavor. It is then seasoned with mustard seeds and black gram that lends a crunchy bite to the chutney.


This relish is a handy thing to have around the house. It can be clubbed with almost anything. It goes great with idlies, dosas, rotis, rice and/or as a dipping sauce. This delicious pachadi is easy to prepare, has a long shelf life and simply sensational. This recipe is surely a keeper.


Green Tomato Pachadi Recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 15min
Makes- 2 cups

Ingredients:
Sesame seeds- 3tbsp
Cumin seeds- 1tbsp
Oil- 1tbsp
Fenugreek seeds- a pinch
Green chili- 2, finely chopped
Green tomatoes- 6, medium sized, Finely chopped
Tamarind pulp- 1tbsp* (see notes)
Turmeric powder- 1/4tsp
Jaggery or brown sugar- 1-1/2tsp
Salt to taste
For the seasoning:
Peanut oil or any other oil- 2tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2tspn
Ural dal- 1/2tspn
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Red chili flakes- 1/2tsp
Asafetida- A large pinch


Method:
  • Dry roast the sesame seeds and the cumin seeds separately and set aside
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the fenugreek seeds, once they turn brown add the green chili and chopped tomatoes and fry for a min.
  • Add turmeric, salt and jaggery and tamarind pulp and cook covered for 10-12min or till the water is completely evaporated. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Blend the roasted sesame seeds and the cumin seeds to a fine powder in a blender jar. Add the cooked tomato mixture to the powdered sesame seed mixture and blend to a fine paste.
  • Transfer the contents from the blender jar to a clean bowl and set aside. 
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they sputter add the urad dal and fry till they turn brown.
  • Add the curry leaves, red chili flakes and fry till the curry leaves turn crisp. Stir in the asafetida and take off the heat.
  • Add the seasoning mixture to the prepared pachadi serve immediately.
Notes:
  • The tamarind pulp can be skipped if the tomatoes you are using, are sour.
  • The red chili flakes can be substituted with red chili.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Tea fruit cake

"Christmas, Children, is not a date. But a state of mind"
  -Mary Ellen Chase


Finally!! Christmas is here. Over the years, I have come to love the holiday season!! There is a feeling of joy and hope everywhere!! Everyone seems to have a perpetual smile on their faces. And everyone, including me, is in the holiday mood. I seem to go around with a warm fuzzy feeling with a spring in my step and joy in my heart!!



Every year, we celebrate Christmas with our family in Bangalore. I used to bake loads of cookies, cakes and Panforte. But this year, we decided to visit Bangalore in the month of October. So this time, Christmas in our house is a subdued affair. I did bake the Ginger Bread cookies as Purvi wanted it. But I didn't bake the Panforte that I have been baking since past two years. I just didn't seem to have the energy to do all the cutting and chopping. However, a week back, I suddenly started having second thoughts. I felt that christmas would be incomplete without the traditional fruit cake. So I decided to bake this quick fruit cake that tastes almost like the real fruit cake.


This tea cake combines brewed tea along with mixed dried fruit and brown sugar to make this delicious cake. This dried fruits loaded cake gets the extra flavor and the moistness from the brewed tea. And the chai masala enhances the flavor of the cake to a large extent. Although this cake doesn't involve lot of preparation, it does involve overnight soaking of dry fruits. But that only helps to fuse the flavors better. 




This is not a hard and fast recipe. You can alter the recipe in many ways, to match your tastebuds.  You can use any dried fruit and tea of your choice. The chai masala can be replaced with all spice or a mixture cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. So if you are looking for a recipe that is quick, easy and adaptable then this recipe is just for you. It has sugar, spice and all those nice things that go into making the traditional fruit cake. These pretty cakes stay fresh for upto a week. So they can make great edible gifts as well!!
Merry Christmas Everyone!!!


Fruity tea cake:
Preparation time: 20min+soaking time
Baking time: 50-55min
Serves- 8

Ingredients:
Mixed dry fruits: 300gms (I used dates, dark raisins, golden raisins, mixed peel and some tutti fruity)
Brewed tea- 250ml* (see notes)
Dark brown sugar- 200gms
Chai or tea masala- 2tspns
Butter- 125gm
All purpose flour- 240ml
Baking powder- 1-1/2tspn
Salt- a pinch


Method:
  • Place the mixed dried fruit, Sugar, butter, tea and tea masala in a sauce pan. Cover and heat gently until the butter has melted, Stirring occasionally. 
  • Increase the heat and boil the mixture for a minute. Remove the pan from the heat set aside to cool. Cover and leave the mixture overnight at room temperature.
  • Sift the flour twice along with the salt and baking powder and set aside.
  • Fold the sifted flour into the fruit mixture. Spoon the chunky dough into a greased baking pan and level the surface with the back of the spoon. 
  • Bake the mixture for 50-55 in a pre-heated oven at 180C or until golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Remove the cake from the oven, then leave to cool completely in the pan. Turn out and serve in slices, spread with butter or honey, if you like.
Notes:
  • To make the brewed tea, boil 1-1/2tspn of tea leaves in 250ml of water. Strain and use accordingly.
  • You can use any dried fruits of your choice for this recipe
  • For a scented flavor, you can use equal quantities of earl grey or Lady grey tea.
  • If mixed peel is not available, you can replace it with a dried fruit of you choice and add grated zest of one orange.
  • The chai masala can be replaced with equal quantity of allspice.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Gingerbread cookies


Nothing screams Happy Holidays better than ginger bread cookies. There is something about these Spiced cookies. They simply fill the house and heart with festive spirits.


Purvi wanted me to bake the cookies since the time we brought these  cookie cutters. She not only wanted to bake them, but she wanted to decorate them with icing as well. I was touched by her enthusiasm but I wish I could share her spirit. It is simply because I am not very good with icing. My hands, that are so steady during other times tend to shake when I squeeze the piping bag. Straight lines end up crooked and curves end up looking lopsided. I simply don't understand how people can decorate cookies and cakes with those beautiful designs and patterns. My designs look more like a small child's irregular drawings. I prefer my cookies without any icing or decorations. It's simple fast and satisfies my sweet tooth perfectly!!!



But then, Purvi wanted her gingerbread cookies to be decorated. So I set aside a date for this ardrous task promised Purvi that we would bake and decorate ginger bread cookies on that day. I had bookmarked the eggless cookie recipe from allrecipes.com. However, as luck would have it, molasses, that was almost always available wasn't there when I needed it. Why are things always abound when you don't need them and when you do need them they are nowhere to be seen. I tried explaining to Purvi that ginger bread cookies couldn't be baked without molasses and that we would bake them on a later day. But she wouldn't hear any of it. "But you promised" she said with a crest fallen face.

I really wanted to bake the cookies but then how would I do it without molasses? I was thinking about it when I was suddenly hit by the idea of using jaggery syrup as a substitute for molasses. And within no time, we were baking gingerbread cookies.
I don't know about you, but we like our cookies a little crispy. Not rock hard. But I like them to have a crunch when you bite them. But if you are one of those who prefer your ginger bread cookies a little chewy, then you can bake them for a shorter duration.


In the end, Purvi and I had an absolute ball baking and decorating gingerbread cookies. Purvi helped me roll and cut the cookies with the cookies cutters and I ended up icing them. I struggled with it in the beginning but gradually got into the groove. Most of them weren't half as bad. And for someone with shaky hands, I must say that it was fairly satisfactory. 

Purvi said that the cookies tasted very good and she had the best day of her life. My girl is easy to please isn't she?

Gingerbread cookies recipe:
Preparation time: 40min
Baking time: 10-12min
Makes- approximately 5dozen cookies

Ingredients:
Grated Palm jaggery- 1cup
Water- 1/2cup
Butter- 1 cup or 16tbsp at room temperature
Icing sigar- 1 cup icing sugar
Salt- 1/2tsp
Baking soda- 1-1/2tsp
Baking Powder- 1/2tsp
Cinnamon powder- 1tsp
Ginger powder- 1tsp
Chai masala- 1/2tsp
All purpose flour- 4 cups (measured after sifting 3 thrice)
Milk- 2 tbsp

For the icing:
Icing Sugar- 6tbsp
Water- 1tbsp

Method:
  • Mix the palm jaggery and water in the thick bottomed sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil on low heat. 
  • Once the jaggery dissolves and reaches single thread consistency, take off the heat and set aside to cool completely.
  • Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk till light and fluffy. Stir in the salt, cooled jaggery syrup and whisk some more.
  • Add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon powder, dry ginger powder and the chai masala all purpose flour and the milk mix well with a spatula.
  • Divide the dough into four equal portions. Place one portion of the dough between two sheets of baking paper roll out into 1/4 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into desired shapes and place them on a cookie sheet. Leave a gap of atlas two inches between them.
  • Collect the frills and shape them into a ball and reroll and repeat cutting out until all the dough is used up.
  • Chill the cut dough in the refrigerator for 10-15mins before baking in a preheated oven at 180C for 10min or until the undersides are golden brown.
  • Leave on the rack for 10min before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat the procedure with the rest of the dough.
For the icing:
  • Mix the icing sugar and water in a bowl and whisk till well blended.
  • Transfer the icing into a ziplock bag and cut a small hole in the corner. Pipe the icing over the cookies to decorate. Allow the icing to set for 20mins before storing the cookies in air tight containers.
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