Monday, March 16, 2015

Chilled avocado mint soup


I know most parts of the world are experiencing extended winters right now. But it is quite the other way round in Africa. Summer should have ended a almost a month ago and it should have been raining cats and dogs by now. I have been trying to cool off by drinking loads of fresh fruit juices, lassis and stuff. Apart from these, I have also been eating a lot salads and a lot of this soup. I first tasted this soup at a friends place in Dar. This soup was refreshing, cool and filling without weighing too much. It was just perfect for the warm humid climate of Dar.



I have made this soup quite a few times since then and each time, I have fallen in love with this soup all over again. This soup is elegant, rich, creamy and insanely easy to prepare. Just mix all the ingredients in a blender, blend and eat. Can a soup get any easier than that? 


The surprising this thing about this soup is that, it does not contain any cream. It does have butter milk but the rich, velvety texture, mostly comes from the avocados. The blending, fills the mixture with air making the soup light and airy.  I suggest adding more stock if you prefer a thinner consistency. You could top it with cream or sour cream and tomatoes if you prefer a richer soup. But then soup is tastes delicious on it's own


Chilled avocado mint soup recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: nil
Serves- 4

Ingredients:

Avocados- 2
Juice of one lemon
Spring onions- 2, finely chopped
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp
Mint leaves- 2tbsp
Green chilies- 1, finely chopped
Vegetable stock- 1-1/2 cups
Chilled butter milk- 1-1/2 cups
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder- to taste
Chili flakes and mint leaves to garnish

Method:
  • Peel and dice the avocado only before making the soup. Drizzle lemon juice all over the avocado while cutting.
  • Place all the ingredients in the blender jar and process till well blended.
  • Pour into a bowl and refrigerate till ready to serve.
  • Garnish with chili flakes and mint leaves and serve.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Mexican rice with Salsa


I think I have already confessed about my love for the Mexican cuisine and Salsa in this post. So in this post, I am actually taking this love one step further by making Mexican rice with salsa. 



I have another confession to make. I am a sucker for easy and quick fix recipes. I do enjoy making dishes which involves elaborate cooking techniques. But that is once in a while. Most of the times, I prefer dishes that is quick to prepare and yet taste delicious and wholesome. Recipes like these come to my rescue when I don't have enough time to cook. Or, when I have to pack S's lunch box in 30min.


I made this rice today for my lunch. And it was made without a thought. I had some leftover rice and some habanero salsa in the fridge. There was also some cooked Rajma in the freezer, so I decided to combine all of them to make this flavorful rice. I couldn't believe, a spontaneous preparation could taste this good. Even if I may say so myself. The best part about this recipe is, it can be customized to your taste and availability of the ingredients. You can substitute the kidney beans and corn with vegetables with carrot and french beans. The basmati rice can be replaced with brown rice to make it more nutritious. If you prefer you rice less spicy, then just substitute the habanero salsa with red salsa and you are good to go. 


Mexican rice with Salsa recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time- 10mins
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
Cooked long grained rice- 4cups or 500gms
Butter- 1tbsp, melted
Oil- 2tbsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2tsp
Onion- 1small, finely chopped
Frozen corn- 1/2 cup
Red kidney beans- 1/2 cup, boiled and drained
Finely chopped Red or orange bell pepper- 2tbsp
Sugar- 1/2tsp
Coriander leaves to garnish- 2tbsp


Method:

  • Toss the cooked rice along with the melted butter and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok and add the cumin seeds. Once they turn brown, add the chopped onions and fry till they turn pink.
  • Add the frozen corn and the kidney beans and fry for 3-4mins. Stir in the chopped bell peppers and fry for 2-3mins more.
  • Add the sugar and the salsa and mix well. Stir in the rice and toss well with the mixture. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with tortilla chips and sour cream on the side.



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.
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