Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mediterranean Pizza


I am back with a recipe for pizza this time. But this recipe is not for a pizza that is made with refined flour and a sauce that is high in sodium. This pizza breaks all rules by using whole wheat pita bread for the base and hummus for the spread. In short, this recipe is just perfect for a light summer meal.



This mediterranean Pizza is a fun way to enjoy new flavors. If you have some Pita bread and hummus stocked, then this Pizza can be put together in minutes. 


After making this pizza, I have become a huge fan of mediterranean flavors. Combining hummus with the sweet bell peppers, olives, sun dried tomatoes and tangy feta cheese creates a wholesome mix of colors and flavors.


This is one of those recipes that is kid friendly. My Pizza obsessed Purvi tasted this and said it was the best Pizza she had ever tasted. The only sinful ingredient in this pizza is the mozzarella cheese. Other than that, the pizza is really nutritious and delicious!!


Mediterranean Pizza recipe:
Preparation time: 30min
Baking time: 10mins
Serves- 4-6

Ingredients:
6"Pita breads- 4
Olive oil to brush the Pita breads
Hummus- 3/4 cup
Sliced yellow, red and green bell pepper- 1 cup
Sliced Olives- 1/4cup
Sun dried tomato- 1/4 cup
Feta cheese- 100gms
Mozzarella cheese- 100gms
Salt and pepper to taste
To serve
Chili flakes and dried Oregano


Method:
  • Brush the Pita loaves with some olive oil and toast them in the oven till they are warm. 
  • Remove and spread 1-1/2 to 2tbsp of hummus evenly on each bread. 
  • Scatter the sliced bell peppers, olives, sundries tomatoes all over. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the vegetables.
  • Mix both kinds of cheese and spread evenly over each loaf.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C and Bake the prepared pizzas for 4-5 mins or till the cheese melts.
  • Cut the pizza into wedges and serve with chili flakes and herbs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spicy Tomato Orange juice


Tomato juice was a favorite beverage of ours during my teenage years. During the scorching summers in my home town, my sister and I would drink gallons of tomato juice. We would just dunk six or seven tomatoes in the blender jar. Add water, just pour sugar straight of the container, gave the blender a whirr and whipped a mean sugar loaded tomato juice. We would pour the juice in tall glasses and drink it up to the last drop and then smack our lips with delight. Gosh!! This juice always manages transport me back to my teenage days.



After I moved out of my home town, I somehow stopped drinking tomato juice. With time, I even forgot about this beverage. But thanks to S, I started drinking this juice all over again. It was during our flight to India. I saw S request the air hostess for tomato juice with salt and pepper. When I heard his request, I saw him with a quizzical look. "How does it taste?" I asked him. "Haven't you tasted tomato juice with salt and pepper?" he asked back. When I said I hadn't he asked the hostess to give another glass of tomato juice with salt and pepper. I took a reluctant sip and boom!!! It had the most amazing flavors. It was salty, spicy, tart, and a tad sweet. It was like falling in love with the tomato juice all over again. After that, I stared making spiced tomato juice from time to time. 


A few days back, I decided to experiment and include some citrus flavors into this drink. The inclusion of orange and lemon juices, gives a subtle citrus flavor to the drink. It does enhance the taste but doesn't over power it. I also added some cumin seed powder and some paprika powder for some smoky flavor. And I was pretty impressed with the outcome. Even if I may say so myself. 


What I like most about this drink is that, it can be had anytime of the day. It makes a perfect drink to be served during a brunch or as an aperitif. But I think this can be an ultimate drink for a healthy breakfast. The vibrant colors and flavors are sure to wake up every cell of your body.


Spicy Tomato Orange juice Recipe:
Preparation time: 30min
Cooking time- 10min
Serves- 6-8

Ingredients:
Tomatoes- 1Kg
Oranges- 3
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Sugar- 1tbsp
Salt toaste
Paprika powder- 1tsp
Pepper powder- 1/2tsp
Roasted cumin seed powder- 1/2tsp
Mint leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Blanch the tomatoes in hot water for 5mins or till the skin splits open.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a large vessel containing cold water. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skin and chop them in half.
  • Blend the peeled and halved tomatoes along with 3/4-1 cup of water in a blender till the mixture is smooth. Strain the juice and set aside.
  • Extract juice from the oranges and set aside.
  • Combine the orange, tomato and lime juices in a large pitcher. Stir in the salt, pepper, sugar, cumin and paprika powders and mix well. Chill the juice for at least an hour.
  • Pour the juice into individual glasses. Garnish with mint leaves and serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hummus


In Arabic, The hummus literally translates to Chick peas. And It makes sense. Doesn't it? For this humble dip has chick peas or the Garbanzo beans as the main ingredient. What I have for you today is a recipe for the basic hummus. It has some everyday ingredients like lemon juice, Garlic, herbs and  salt. And it tastes amazing just like that. This wonder dip/ Spread is like a blank canvas. It can flavored or dressed with all kinds of herbs and spices. Or, the chick pea itself can be replaced with other beans or vegetables. So the variations with which this dip can be made is endless.



Hummus is my new found love. Until a few days back, I used to think that hummus was a flavorless, bland dip. I am not sure why I thought this. But sadly, I did. I tasted this dip at a friends place a few weeks ago and I was shocked by how delicious it was. A few days after that, I made a small batch of this dip and had it with my sandwiches consistently for a week. That's how obsessed I was. 


After I began making this dip, I realized that hummus is a power packed dip. The health benefits is mostly because of the chick peas which is the main ingredient. Apart from being protein rich, the garbanzo beans are rich in fiber as well. They calorie count is relatively low and they are known to reduce cholesterol levels. The Tahini which is nothing but ground sesame seeds is a rich source of calcium. It is filled with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that is vital for brain development. So you see. Hummus is much more than a tasty dip it is a condiment with numerous health benefits. 


So dip it, spread it and top it. What I have given you is a basic recipe for the hummus. Do you have any other version for this condiment? Do share them with me. For I would love to give your version a try

Hummus Recipe:
Preparation time: 25min+soaking time
Cooking time:nil
Makes- 2cups

Chick peas-250gms
Tahini paste- 3tbsp
Lemon juice- 3-4tbsp
Cumin seed powder- 1/2tspn
Salt to taste
Garlic- 3 cloves
Coriander leaves- 1tbsp, finely chopped
Olive oil and Chili flakes to garnish



Method:

  • Soak chick peas in enough water for 6hrs or overnight.
  • Pressure cook the soaked chick peas for 5-6 whistles or very soft. Drain and cool. Reserve the drained water.
  • Place the chick peas in a blender or food processor with the tahini paste, salt, Lemon juice, Garlic, and coriander leaves and blend till the hummus is coarsely pureed. 
  • Add 3-4 tbsp of the reserved water and blend till smooth. 
  • Transfer the ground paste to a serving bowl and adjust the salt and lemon juice.
  • Pour olive oil over the prepared hummus and sprinkle chili flakes. Serve at room temperature with Pita bread.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Strawberry Fool for mother's day


I am not sure what is foolish about this elegant and super simple strawberry dessert. Except maybe, for the name. The fool is a very popular and common english dessert. The word fool is was originated in the 16th century to describe pureed fruit with custard or cream. The most popular fruits that were used were apples and Rhubarb.


In my version of the fool, Fresh strawberry compote is folded with whipped cream. And then there is also the custard that is prepared separately. The custard and the whipped cream are then spooned in layers in a clear glass tumbler or flute so that the pretty bands of red and white are seen through. 


I had made this dessert a couple of weeks back and the recipe has been in my drafts since then. Since mother's day is round the corner, I think this is a perfect time to share the recipe. 


It's a perfect dessert that is a breeze to make and yet makes you feel incredibly pampered. The strawberry fool is fluffy, fruity and bursting with berries. It's a lovely light dessert that can be had after a meal. Or when you craving for a dessert that is not overtly sweet.


Strawberry fool recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 15min
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
For the custard:
Milk- 250ml+2tbsp
Custard powder- 2tbsp
Sugar- 3tbsp
For the strawberry compote:
Strawberries- 200gms, hulled and sliced
Sugar- 2tbsp
Other ingredients:
Whipping cream- 250ml
Icing sugar- 2tbsp
Strawberries- 3-4, for garnish


Method:
For the custard:

  • In a bowl, mix the 2tbsp of milk with the custard powder to form a smooth paste and set aside.
  • In a pan, Bring 250ml of milk to a boil. Add the custard mixture and sugar and allow the mixture to simmer on low heat. Keep stirring the mixture till the mixture has thickened. 
  • Remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool.
For the strawberry compote:
  • Place the strawberries and sugar in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat till the strawberries release their juices and the mixtures turns pulpy. Continue to cook until the juice turns into syrup and the strawberries break down. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
To assemble the Fool:
  • Whip the whipping cream and icing sugar till soft peaks form. Gently Fold in 3tbsp of the compote and mix leaving it partially swirled.
  • Spoon 2tsps of strawberry compote in four wide mouthed tumbler or dessert glass. Top the compote with 2-3tbsps of custard. Drizzle a tspn of compote over the custard and top it with 2-3tbsp of the whipping cream.
  • Allow the fool to chill for an hour or two. Garnish with sliced strawberries and serve immediately
Notes:

  • If the whipping cream that you are using is sweetened then you can omit the sugar.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jade and Ruby in Ginger sauce



I am back with another Pan-Asian recipe. This recipe has been in drafts for a long time now. As the kiddo had her easter break, hitting the "publish" button somehow took a back seat. Now that her school has reopened, I have started working on all the back logs.


As you may all know about my love for broccoli from this post. I love broccoli and I try to include this healthy vegetable in my meal atlas once a week. Whenever I come home with a broccoli head, it is mostly taken for granted that I would be oven roasting it. While the oven roasted broccoli is still a favorite, I have to give in to the fact that variety is the spice of life. And since I seem to be having a Chinese food kick lately, I thought of preparing broccoli in such a way that it would complement the noodles and the fried rice that I have been making.



In this recipe, the broccoli florets are stir fried along with the gorgeous red bell peppers and garlic. The ginger sauce is prepared separately and then poured over the cooked veggies. This cooking technique works best with the broccoli florets. The vegetables retain the crunch and the color, making them look like jade and rubies. Isn't that beautiful? Although this recipe is great as it is, you might want to add more chili flakes or pepper powder if you prefer your curries extra hot!!


Jade and Ruby in Ginger sauce recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time- 15min
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
Broccoli florets- 250gms, Blanched
Red bell pepper- 1 large, deseeded and cubed
Sesame oil- 1tbsp
Garlic- 1/2 tbsp, crushed
Red chili flakes- 1/2tsp
Vegetable stock or water- 3tbsp
Salt to taste
For the Ginger sauce:
Corn flour- 1tbsp
Water- 3tbsp
Oil- 1tbsp
Ginger- 1tbsp, finely chopped
Tomatoes- 2med, blanched and pureed
Vegetable stock- 1/2cup
Soy sauce- 1tsp
Vinegar- 1tsp
Sugar- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Pepper- 1/2tsp
Other Ingredients:
Spring onion greens to garnish

Method:
  • Heat the sesame oil in a wok and fry the garlic till it turns brown. Add the chili flakes and fry for a few seconds more. 
  • Add the broccoli florets and the red bell pepper and fry for two mins. Add the stock and salt and cook until the vegetables are tender yet crisp.
For the ginger sauce:
  • Mix the corn flour along with the water to make a paste and set aside.
  • Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan, add the chopped ginger and fry for a min. 
  • Add the pureed tomatoes, the vegetable stock, soy sauce and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Stir in the corn flour mixture, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and cook till the mixture thickens.
To proceed:
  • Pour the sauce over the cooked vegetables. garnish with spring onion greens and serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Methi nu thepla- Fenugreek flat bread


The thepla is a quintessential Gujarati dish. This flat bread can be a part of the regular meal or a snack. The theplas are great for lunch boxes or for picnics as well. Now aren't theplas versatile?


Unlike the Parathas, the theplas are not thick and they don't come with a stuffing. In methi nu thepla, The fenugreek leaves and the spices are mixed along with flours to make a firm dough. The use of the robust herbs and the spices makes this flat bread extremely flavorful and aromatic. 



The recipe of thepla has many versions. But this recipe was given to me by a Gujarati lady who owns a sweet shop. Apart from the mind boggling varieties of sweets she also sells savory snacks like dhoklas, kachoris and theplas. Although I love the kaju katlis and dhoklas she has to offer, it is the theplas that I am slightly partial to. The theplas she makes are barely 4" in diameter but they are soft and melts in the mouth. They are so delicious that I couldn't help but ask her for the recipe. And she gave it out. Just like that. Isn't that sweet? 



These aromatic flat breads are a favorite with Both S and Purvi and that in itself makes me happy. Since these flat breads are filled with nutrient rich ingredients, I can be assured of wholesome goodness on my table.


Methi nu thepla recipe:
Preparation time: 10min+resting time
Cooking time- 15mins
Makes- approximately 8-10 theplas

Ingredients:
Whole wheat flour- 2cups+more for dusting
Gram flour or besan- 1tbsp*(see notes)
Finely chopped Fenugreek leaves- 1/2 cup
Finely chopped coriander leaves- 1tbsp (optional)
Yogurt- 2tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4tsp
Red chili powder- 1/2tsp
Salt to taste
Asafetida- a large pinch
Oil for the dough- 2tbsp
Ghee or oil to shallow fry the thepla- as required

Method:

  • In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients from whole wheat flour to asafetida and mix well.
  • Add water little by little knead into a firm dough. Smear the 2tbsps of oil over the dough. Cover and set aside to rest for 30min.
  • Divide the dough into 8-10 portions and roll each portion into 6-7" diameter circle using wheat flour for dusting.
  • Heat a girdle and place it on the girdle. After a few seconds, you will see small bulges appear on the thepla. At this point, Smear some ghee or oil and flip the thepla using a spatula. Smear some ghee or oil on the flipped side and cook till brown spots appear on both sides.
  • Repeat the process with the rest of the dough. These theplas can be enjoyed as is or it can be served with mango pickle and curds. 
Note:
  • The consistency of the dough should be a little firmer than the phulka or chapati dough.
  • I have used the gram flour in the recipe. But you can exclude the same if you are not consuming the theplas right away.
  • Using ghee to shallow fry increases the tastes as well the shelf life of the theplas.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Restaurant style Chili paneer


If there is one thing that we order every time we eat out, it is the chili paneer. This is one dish that is a favorite with both adults and children alike. A fusion, Indo-chinese dish that can be made dry or with gravy. The dry version can be had as a starter or appetizer. The gravy version however, is more of a side dish. And it goes exceptionally well with fried rice and noodles.



A couple of years back, I used to make chili paneer during every weekend. But after Purvi's birth, I somehow stopped making it. Maybe, it was because we were so used to eating the lip smacking chili paneer in our favorite restaurant. Who would want to toil in front of the stove when your favorite dish is just a phone call away. But off late, I have become wary of chili paneer from the restaurant. I am not saying that it doesn't taste good anymore. It tastes just as great. However, it leaves us feeling bloated and uncomfortably heavy. I am not sure if it was the saturated fat that is used or the ajinomoto. Both of which are extremely harmful. As a mother, I couldn't watch Purvi eat her favorite chili Paneer which was filled with unhealthy stuff. That was when I decided to start making the chili Paneer at home again.


My version of chili paneer tastes just like one that is served in restaurants, but it was way healthier. I decided to shallow fry the paneer in sesame oil as shallow frying provided the same texture. I also skipped the Ajinomoto. The sesame oil lends a nutty and authentic chinese flavor to the dish and it made the chili paneer absolutely delectable. 


I served this chili paneer to Purvi and her best friend and both girls absolutely loved it. It was heart warming to see them gulp down the dish with exclamations of YUM!!! in-between.


Chili Paneer recipe:
Preparation time: 20min+marination time
Cooking time: 20min
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
All purpose flour- 2tbsp
Corn flour- 2tbsp
Salt- 1/2tsp
Freshly ground black pepper powder- 1/2tsp
Paneer- 400gms, cubed
Sesame oil or any other oil- 2tsbp+more for shallow frying
Butter- 1tbsp
Garlic- 3cloves, chopped fine
Salt to taste
Shallots- 6-8, peeled and quartered
Green chilies- 4-5, chopped fine
Green bell pepper- 1 med sized, deseeded and cubed
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder- 1/2tsp
Sugar- 1/2tsp
Soya sauce- 1tbsp
Rice vinegar- 1tsp
Water- 2tbsp
Spring onion greens- 1tbsp to garnish

Method:
  • Mix the plain flour, corn flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add a few tbsps of water to make a thick paste. Dunk the cubed paneer in the batter and let it stand for 30mins. 
  • Shallow fry the marinated paneer in oil till the paneer is crisp and brown and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil and butter in a separate pan and add the chopped garlic and fry for a min. 
  • Stir In  the chopped shallots, green chilies and bell pepper and fry for 2-3mins. 
  • Add the salt, pepper, soya sauce and vinegar and fry for a min. 
  • Add 2 tbsp of water and the fried paneer, mix well and simmer for couple of minutes. Garnish with spring onion greens and serve immediately.
Notes:
  • The sesame oil can be replaced with any other oil. But sesame oil lends a unique nutty flavor to the dish.
  • The paneer can be replaced with equal quantity of hard tofu for a vegan version.
  • If you like your chili paneer to be more gravy like, then add one-third cup of water or stock. And add a paste one tbsp of corn flour mixed with two tbsp of water to thicken the gravy.
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