Saturday, July 30, 2011

Celebrating First blog anniversary with Mysore Pak

It has been exactly one year and a few hours since I wrote my first post for Potato and onion sambar and shared the recipe with all of you. I can't believe that my Paaka-shaale is a year old now. Time, sure has flown. A lot has changed since I started this blog. This virtual kitchen of mine has introduced me to a whole new world of cooking and photography. I had no clue that I would meet so many creative and talented friends. I had never thought food blogging would be so enriching.
It may sound unbelievable. But even though I wanted to blog, starting a food blog was the last thing on my mind. Yes. It is true. Even though I was always interested in photography, I always thought that I did not have the patience to capture food. Come on, why would you wanna see that yummy dish through the lens when you are all hungry and drooling? Paaka-shaale was born shortly after someone asked me what I did in my spare time. "I cook" I had told her. It was then that I realized that I could just start a food blog. It was only after that did started being patient and started looking at food through my lens. I started learning the basics of the dSLR that S had just purchased. I stared pouring over the manual. I even read (and i still do) a lot of articles on photography online and offline. After a few weeks of toying around, I completely fell in love with food photography . These days, I hate to eat anything without photographing ;)

One of the most important and fantastic things that this past year has brought me are all my blog readers and friends. I am completely amazed by the support and encouragement that I have received from you guys This blog would not have come this far without you. A mere but a huge thank you to all of you.
This long post would be incomplete if I went without thanking a few others. Am I sounding too filmy?? But yeah I have got to do it. Firstly it's my mom and sis for their constant egging and encouragement. My darling S for being my worst critic and also encouraging me to follow my passion all the time. And my little purvi for just being there.
I had started this blog with a Karnata style Sambar. I thought of posting another Karnataka delicacy for the anniversary. It is Mysore Pak, Karnataka's Royal sweet. It is a simple medley of Gram flour, lots of ghee and sugar. This delicious fudge might look crumbly and grainy. But it actually melts in your mouth.

Mysore pak recipe
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time- 15min+cooling time
Makes- 15-20 pieces

Besan or gram flour- 1 cup
Ghee- 2cups
Sugar- 2 cups, powdered
Nutmeg powder- a pinch

  • Break the lumps and sift the gram flour twice
  • In a thick bottomed pan, roast the gram flour along with a tbsp of ghee till slightly brown and fragrant and keep aside.
  • Grease a tray with a tsp of ghee and set aside
  • Preheat the ghee and keep it hot.
  • In a thick bottomed pan, mix sugar along with quarter cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer till the syrup is of one string consistency
  • Add 1/2 a cup of pure ghee to the syrup and mix
  • Add the gram flour mixture gradually, stirring all the while to prevent lump formation.
  • Add the nutmeg powder and keep mixing till the mixture starts bubbling. 
  • Add 1/2 a cup of ghee from time to time. The mixture should sizzle and froth with each addition.
  • Continue this process till all the ghee is used up.
  • Take off the heat when the mixture starts leaving the sides and looks dried out (kind of frothy)
  • Tip the contents to the greased tray and allow the mixture to cool for 10-12 min.
  • Cut into desired shapes and serve.
P.S: Keep the ghee hot throughout the cooking time
       I suggest you melt the ghee before measuring because the volume of the ghee increases once melted.

This Mysore pak of mine will go straight to Indian mitahi mela event which is hosted by Kalyani 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Black and white wednesday- Brown and white rice

This photograph is my contribution to Susan's Black and white Wednesday event

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Makai palak paratha- Spinach and Corn stuffed flat bread

Spinach and corn is a match made in heaven. No matter in what form they are cooked, they always make a deadly combo. In this recipe, the flavours are further enhanced with the use of some simple spices. This paratha becomes even more enticing when it is laced with cheese.
This recipe is inspired  from I say "inspired" because, I have made quite a few changes to the original recipe. The recipe actually was more kid friendly. I tweaked it suit the adult as well as my kiddo's palate as well. Try making this paratha once and I am sure you will love it as much as I did.

Makai Palak Paratha recipe 
Preparation time- 25min
Cooking time- 10min
Makes- 6Parathas


For the outer covering:
Whole wheat flour- 2 cups
Salt- 1/2tsp
Oil- 1 tsp
Oil or ghee to shallow fry
Extra flour for dusting
For the filling:
Spinach- 2 cups, washed chopped fine
Fresh or frozen corn- 1-1/2 cup, coarsely  ground in a blender
Potato- 1 small, boiled and mashed
Oil- 1tbsp
Jeera or cumin seeds- 1/2tsp
Turmeric or haldi- 1/4tsp
Coriander seed powder- 1/2tsp
Green chillies- 1, finely chopped
Paprika powder- 1/4tsp
Grated mozzarella cheese- 3tbsp
Salt to taste

  • Take the flour, oil and salt in a large bowl and knead in to a soft smooth dough using water as required. Keep aside for 15min
  • For the filling, Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. 
  • Once they sputter, add the coarsely ground corn and saute for two min
  • Add the chopped spinach, green chillies and salt and fry for 2-3min
  • Add the mashed potato, Turmeric, coriander powder, paprika powder and fry for 3-4 min till all the ingredients combine well and form a mass.
  • Add the grated cheese and mix well. Take off the heat and cool the mixture completely
  • To proceed, Divide the dough and the filling into 6-7 equal portions.
  • Take a portion of the dough and roll into a circle of 3" in diameter.
  • Take a portion of the filling and place it in the middle of the circle.
  • Brush the edges of the dough with some water and gather all the sides and bring them to the center and seal tightly.
  • Roll out again into a circle of 6" in diameter with the help of a little flour.
  • Shallow fry the rolled paratha on hot tawa or girdle using some oil or ghee until brown spots appear on both sides.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough and stuffing to make the remaining parathas.
  • Serve hot with yogurt and Pickle
These parathas are my contribution to Aipi and Priya's bookmarked recipes event
And to WWC- corn which was started by Sanjeeta and now hosted by Reva

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekend Delight- Channa masala or chick pea curry

I know this is not the first time that this recipe has been blogged about. And I also know this is will not be the last time as this is a favourite dish with many people. This is a protein rich recipe with heady flavours that can make your senses tickle. I have tried many chana masla recipes but this one has always been a hit. It's almost 5years since I got this recipe and each time I have made this, it is a hit. I would love to mention and thank the source from which this recipe has been adapted from. But then I don't remember the blog from which I got this lovely recipe. I even googled for the source. But alas, I did not find it. However, that will not stop me from thanking that person for this lovely recipe. 

What makes the recipe so special is the use of myriad spices. Even though the key player of this dish is the chick peas, the tea leaves are used to give the chick peas the unique flavour and the much needed colour. Don't let the long list of ingredients intimidate you for these are easily available in all the kitchens. Go ahead and try the recipe and I am sure you will not have channa masala any other way.

Chana masala recipe
Preparation time- 20min+ soaking time
Cooking time- 30min
Serves- 4

Kabuli channa or Garbanzo beans- 1 cup, soaked overnight
Onion- 2, med size
Tomato- 1, big
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp
Ginger-garlic paste- 1tsp
Coriander leaves- 2tbsp
Tea leaves- 1tsp
Green chilli- 1 slit
Bay leaves- 2
Sugar- 1 tsp
Cumin or jeera- 1tsp
Oil- 2tbsp
Ghee- 1tbsp
Turmeric- 1/4tsp
Garam masala- 1/4tsp
Cinnamon-clove powder- 1/2tsp
Red chilli powder- 1/2tsp
Freshly ground pepper powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Juice of half a lime and coriander leaves to garnish

  • Bring half a cup of water to a boil, add the tea leaves and strain the decoction.
  • Drain the soaked chick peas. Add the tea decoction and a little salt and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or till done. 
  • In a blender, grind together, one onion, half the tomato, 5tbsp of the cooled channa and coriander leaves to a fine paste and keep aside.Chop the remaining onion and tomato fine.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the bay leaves and cumin seeds.
  • Once the cumin seeds turn brown, add the chopped onion and fry till the onion turn pink.
  • Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 2mins
  • Stir in the ground paste and fry for 3-4mins more
  • Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt, sugar, and pepper powder and fry till the oil separates
  • Drain the channa and add to the onion-tomato mixture and mix well.
  • Add the garam masala and 2cups of water that was drained from the chana and bring the mixture to a boil for 7-8min and take off the heat.
  • Heat ghee in a small pan and add the slit green chilli and cinnnamon-clove powder and fry till fragrant and pour hot over the channa.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and lime juice and serve hot with roti or puri
This delectable curry is my contribution to My legume love affair started by susan

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ANZAC Biscuits

The ANZAC biscuit. I am sure that every Australian would identify with these biscuits. The word ANZAC is actually an abbreviation for Australia and New Zeland Army corps. It is said that the wives and mothers of the soldiers baked these biscuits and sent them to the soldiers in Turkey. It is interesting to note that these cookies did not contain any eggs or dairy products as they were very difficult to come by during the first wold war.Also, without the egg and butter the biscuits lasted longer.Therefore, these biscuits were the perfect thing to send to the soldiers on the long voyage to Turkey where they were fighting. These Anzac biscuits later became a symbol of the work carried out by the Australian women to keep the Soldiers' morale high. Is'nt this a wonderful legend? 
After reading so much about these biscuits, I could not wait to bake these myself. I googled for the recipe and I found one on I have made some changes by reducing the content of butter and by adding milk. I was very pleased with the result. These biscuits can either be made thin and crisp or thick and chewy. Either ways, I assure you they will taste as good.

ANZAC Biscuits recipe:
Preparation time: 20mins
Baking time- 12-15min
Makes- 20 biscuits

Unsalted butter- 6tbsp
All purpose flour or maida- 1 cup
Oats- 1 cup
Brown sugar- 1 cup
Golden syrup- 2tbsp
Milk- 2tbsp
Unsweetened desiccated coconut- 1 cup
Baking soda- 1tsp
Salt- 1/4tsp

  • Melt the butter in a pan and add the golden syrup and baking soda to the butter and mix well. Take off the heat and keep asid
  • In a mixing bowl, mix together, flour, oats, salt and the desiccated coconut.
  • Add the melted butter mixture and the milk to the oats and flour mixture and mix well with a wooden spatula.
  • Heat the oven and 350F or 180C and line a baking tray with Parchment paper
  • Roll about a table spoon of the dough into small balls and flatten them between the palms of your hands.
  • Place the flattened dough on the baking tray 4cm apart so that there is room for spreading
  • Bake the biscuits for 10-12 min or until golden brow
  • Remove the biscuits from the oven and allow them to cool in the baking tray for 5min
  • Remove the biscuits from the tray and cool them on a wire rack before storing them in airtight container.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chinese fried rice with Hong Kong style vegetable

The credit to my expertise in making Chinese fried rice goes solely to S. No, no!! Please don't be under the misconception that S can cook. The maximum he can cook is rasam and potato stir fry. However, I can't take his lack of practical culinary knowledge for granted and serve just about anything. His interest in food goes beyond the taste. It is amazing to see how he discerns the textures and the ingredients of the dish. This is something that I will never be able to do. I am happy as long as the dish served is even moderately good and is edible. Maybe that is one of the reasons behind me taking almost 3 years to perfect this simple and straight forward dish called fried rice. I must have tried making this rice at least a 100 times before coming to this recipe. Each time S had found fault with it. It was either too spicy, or too bland. Or at other times, the flavour of the rice was lost. Sometimes, the colour of the rice was not white but brown. No my dear friends. This is not an exaggeration. I have endured and put up with each of comments till today. Yes. Today S told me that the fried rice was "good" and it tasted excellent with the Hong Kong style Curry. My joy knew no bounds when he told me this. I immediately decided to share this recipe with you all.
As for the Hong Kong Style vegetable curry, this recipe is from Tarla dalal's website. I have made a few changes to the original recipe. But it tasted great none the less. I strongly recommend you to try this. The curry and the rice really does make a deadly combo.

Chinese fried rice recipe:
Preparation time: 20mins
Cooking time- 5min
Serves- 4

Basmati rice- 1-1/2 cup
Carrot- 1, diced
Green beans- 4-5 diced
Capsicum- 1 med, chopped fine
Spring onion- 1, the whites and greens separated and chopped fine
Soy sauce- 1tbsp
Oil- 1tbsp
Chilli sauce- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar- a pinch

  • Wash and pressure cook the rice with 1-1/2 cups of water and a tsp of oil for one whistle
  • Spread the cooked rice on a plate and allow the rice to cool completely
  • One the rice is cooled, refrigerate for 30min or freeze for 10min
  • Heat oil in pan and add the spring onion white and fry on  ahigh heat for a min
  • Add the carrot and beans and fry for 2 min till the vegetables are tender
  • Add the capsicum and fry for a min more
  • Add the cooled rice, soy sauce, chilli sauce, salt and sugar and fry for a min.
  • Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot.
Vegetable hong Kong style recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 5min
Serves- 4

Carrot- 1big, sliced and par boiled
French beans- chopped into 1" long pieces and par boiled
Cauliflower florets- 8-10, blanched
Capsicum- 1 med, chopped into big pieces
Ginger- garlic paste- 1tsp
Vegetable stock- 1-1/2 cups
Corn flour- 1 tbsp
Spring onion- 1, whites and greens separated and chopped fine 
Chilli sauce- 1/2tsp
Soy sauce- 1tbsp
Paprika powder- 1/4tsp
salt to taste
Sugar- a pinch

  • Heat oil in wok and add the ginger- garlic paste and saute for a min
  • Add the spring onion whites and fry for  amin
  • Add the par boiled vegetables and capsicum fry for a min
  • Add the chilli sauce, soy sauce, salt, paprika powder and sugar and mix well
  • Make a paste of the cornflour by mixing it with 1/4cup of water.
  • Add the vegetable stock and the cornflour paste and allow the mixture to simmer for 2min till the sauce thickens
  • Garnish with Spring onion greens and Serve hot with fried rice.
The Hong Kong Style curry is my contribution to Aipi and Priya's Tuesday bookmarked recipe event.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My adventures of hosting two Birthday parties and some lessons learnt.

I know you all must be wondering as to where I had disappeared. In fact, I am beginning to think that I am becoming quite good at the disappearing act. I have been busy planning and executing two parties for the past two weeks. Even though I cooked  a variety of dishes, I did not have the time or the energy to photograph them. As I could not post any recipe today, I decided to post about some of the adventures I had during hosting these parties. I wish that there were some pictures that would go along this write up. I was either too busy or panicky or tired to take any. So friends, Brace your selves :)

It all started, during the mid week of June. Since Purvi's birthday was on the 27th of June. Yup my little one is now the terrible two!!!We decided to host a high tea for all the kids and mothers on the 27th and another party for all of S's friends and colleagues on the 2nd of Jul. So me and S started out on all the planning and preparation. The guest list, the menu, the decorations and the Works. We spent hours talking and arguing about all of these things. I know it is hard to believe. But we even argued about what Purvi would wear for her birthday Party. We spent hours shopping for her clothes, matching shoes, and presents. Do I need to mention what fun we had?

For the first party, I decided to make Puri with chole and potato sabzi, Vermicelli Kheer, Pizza in bread cups. I had brought Kaju Katli and there was Purvi's Dora cake of course. I even wanted to bake the birthday cake. However, I backed out because I felt that baking a cake for a strength of 20 odd people was a little too risky. Except for a few set backs like the late delivery of the cake, the party went very smoothly. All the kids and mothers (and a few fathers who joined at the last min) alike had lot of fun.

Coming to the second dinner party, this was again for a strength of around 18 people (including me and S). This time I decided to make channa dal fritters (ambode) for starters, main course had chapati (which was out sourced), Kadhai paneer, vegetable Jalfrezie, and Dal makhani, for the sides and Ghee rice with Korma and raita. There was also Plain rice, rasam and yoghurt. For desserts, I had made carrot halwa and chocolate mousse cake.

As a habit, I always make the desserts on the previous day. So on the first of Jul, I decided to make the halwa and the cake. I thought of making the mousse the next day. The halwa turned out perfect. The chocolate cake was a different story all together. I decided to double the chocolate cake recipe from here. The batter was prepared and was poured into the pans. There was a little batter that was remaining so I just added that to the second pan and baked the cakes. The first caked turned out perfect. When I inserted the skewer in the second one, It came out clean. I removed the cake and kept it out to cool. It was only  when I split the cake into halves, did I notice that the inside of the second cake was not baked at all. I was horror struck. How was that possible when the first one turned out so perfect??? I guess it was the extra batter that was added on the top of already set batter. My first instinct was to just throw the cake away. But then I remembered reading somewhere that an underbaked cake could be salvaged if it was wrapped in a  parchment paper and baked again for some more time. I did that and thankfully, the cake came out fine. So here was the first lesson learnt. NEVER tamper with the cake batter when it is already set in the pan.

The next day, I woke up early to so that I could start cooking for the dinner. Apart from cooking, I made sure that the gen set was filled with fuel in case there was a power cut. I also made sure that the over head tank was filled up. I just wanted the evening to be flawless. The guest were supposed to arrive at 7PM and by 5PM the table was set. With so much of planning and executing, nothing should go wrong right? Wrong. At 6:30PM, I went to the sink to wash my hands when I discovered that there was no water coming out of the tap. At first I thought there was some mistake because the tank was filled. Like an Idiot I waited for 5min with my hands under the tap, waiting for the water to pour out. When the water did not come out of the tap even after 5min. I panicked. I was walking all over the house checking all the taps like a mad woman. There was not a single drop of water in the whole house. I did not want this kind of an emergency and that too at a time when guests were going to arrive at any moment. S asked me to relax. He went down and arranged for a few buckets of water through our watchman. Only when I saw the water coming in did I breath properly. The second lesson I learnt was, even the best laid plans can go wrong when they have to. Just do what ever you can and enjoy the moment. Guess I am sounding like a saint with this one. am I not?

Everyone at the party (including me) had a gala time. They said that they were so full that they could not do complete justice to the food. The chocolate mousse cake was a complete hit. It was 12:00 in the midnight when everyone left. And it was 1:30Am when I dozed off to sleep tired, yet Satiated.
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