Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hakka Noodles

Hakka noodles is perhaps one of the most popular Indo-Chinese creation. A wholesome and nutritious street food that was created by the Hakka immigrants in Kolkata. Hakka noodles is also called as chow mein which literally means, stir fried. This noodle dish, delicious one pot meal that is simple yet gratifying.
As I have mentioned in my earlier posts, Chinese food is S's favourite. He just can't get enough of this cuisine. If it wasn't for S, I would never have leant to cook Chinese the authentic way. Apart from fried rice and cauliflower Manchurian, Hakka noodles is something that I prepare from time to time. It is a simple recipe, with very little cooking time involved. Once the vegetables are chopped, it hardly takes any time to cook this cup. Filled with the goodness of vegetables and whole wheat, this is my go to recipe whenever I have to fix something fast.
This noodle preparation can be cooked either with a variety of vegetables, or bean sprouts or tofu or meat. A colourful and exciting dish, that is perfect for children who shy away from vegetables.
Hakka Noodles recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 10min
Serves- 4

Noodles- 200gm
Sesame oil- 2tbsp
Ginger- 1" piece finely chopped
Garlic- 3-4 cloves, finely chopped
Spring onion- 2, whites and greens separated
Carrot- 1 med, cut into thin strips
Green Beans- 6-7, diagonally sliced
Capsicum- 1 small, cut into thin strips
Shredded Cabbage- 3 tbsp.
Light Soya sauce- 1-1/2 tbsp.
Vinegar- 1tsp
Vegetable stock- 1/4cup
Freshly ground black pepper powder- 3/4tsp
Salt to taste
MSG- 1/4tsp (optional)
  • Heat plenty of water in a large vessel. When the water comes to a boil, add oil and salt and mix.
  • Add the noodles and allow the noodles to cook for 3-4min. When the noodles are almost cooked (al Dante), drain and refresh in cold water.
  • Drizzle a tsp of oil and mix well to coat the noodles and keep aside until further use.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a large wok or skillet and add the chopped ginger and garlic. Fry till the raw smell goes.
  • Add the chopped spring onion white and fry for min.
  • Stir in the carrot and beans and fry on high heat for 2-3 min
  • Add the shredded cabbage and bell pepper and fry for another two mins.
  • Add the soya sauce, vinegar, vegetable stock, MSG, salt and pepper and mix well.
  • Stir in the cooked noodles and mix well. Toss for a minute or two and serve hot.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Curried butternut squash and lentil soup

This may come as a shock to you!! But I have never been a big fan of pumpkin and butter nut squash. If you had presented me with a pumpkin or squash a few years back, I would have just turned up my nose and made a sorry face. But off late, things have changed for the better. I have developed a strong liking to these gourds. So much so that, I keep thinking of new ways to use this vegetable.
I wouldn't have thought of making this soup if the gardener/watchman of our apartment building got these two small butternut squashes. They grow on a small patch in our complex. At first I didn't know what to make out of the squashes. I let them lie in refrigerator for almost a week before coming up with this recipe.
I have come to believe that the combo butternut squash and lentils is a match made in heaven. And if these  ingredients are flavored with the humble curry powder, then the soup is taken to a different dimension all together.
This version of the butternut squash soup is fairly simple to make. All it takes is a handful of ingredients and a few minutes to whip up this delicious and rich soup. The addition of curry powder, along with the minced garlic, makes the soup spicy and hearty. The cream gives body and texture and on the whole this is a very filling soup. One bowl of this soup along with some fresh croutons can make a filling dinner for me. Try serving this soup with some Indian breads like naan or Paratha. Or just ladle this soup over a bowl of Basmati rice to make your meal more substantial.
Curried butternut squash and lentil soup recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 15min

Butternut squash-1 med, peeled, deseeded and diced
Masoor dal or orange lentils- 1/3 cup
Curry powder- 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Vegetable stock- 4 cups
Cream- 2 tbsp. for garnish
Bay leaf-1
Garlic- 2 cloves, minced
Olive oil- 1 tbsp.
Pepper- 1/2 tsp
Croutons to serve

•Pressure cook the lentils for 3-4 whistles or till completely cooked and keep aside
•Heat the olive oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the bay leaf and the minced garlic and fry till the raw smell goes.
•Add the diced butter nut squash and fry for two mins. Add the salt, curry powder and the vegetable stock, mix well and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down and allow the squash to cook covered for 15-20mins till tender.
•Discard the bay leaf and tip in the cooked lentils and mix well. Using a hand blender or food processer blitz the mixture until smooth.
•Season with pepper and serve garnished with cream and some croutons on the side.

•This soup is extremely versatile. You can add more vegetables like carrots, sweet potato or turnips along with the squash.
•To make this soup low cal, you can use thick coconut milk to garnish instead of cream.
•If you feel the mixture is thick after blending, then add more water to make the soup thin and reheat it.
•I have used the curry powder sparingly. Increase the quantity if you want to make your soup more spicy.
•This soup can also be had along side naan or any other Indian bread

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy Deepavali and a recipe for Jalebi

Happy Diwali everyone!!!Hope all you wonderful people are having a fun filled Diwali.
Jalebis. I think this spiral dessert is undoubtedly a hot favorite with most of the people. And I am no exception. This sweet brings back a lot of childhood memories. This dessert takes me back to the  times when me and my baby sister would accompany my mother to the market for the monthly  provision shopping. After doing all the shopping, me and my sis would pester my mom enough to make sure we stopped by this tiny Haryanvi shop that made and sold the most amazing jalebis. We as girls, would be wonderstruck when we used to see this "uncle" swirling the batter into hot oil in coils or pretzel like shapes. To us, it was an absolute treat to watch the uncle convert the white batter to something yellow, crispy, juicy and not to mention sweet within a matter of a few minutes. He would then wrap a dozen Jalebis in a sheet of news paper and pass it on to us. I remember we used to be so impatient that we would eat up all the jalebis even before we could reach home. I think this is one of those sweet dishes that is delicious and habit forming.
Jalebis are best eaten warm as they tend to turn undesirably soft once the sugar syrup is completely absorbed by the crispy fried batter. Jalebi can either be eaten as is or it can be dipped in warm milk or in chilled rabdi for an extra special treat.
Jalebi recipe:
Preparation time: 20min+standing time
Cooking time: 20min
Makes approximately two dozen Jalebis
For the jalebis:
All purpose flour- 1-1/2 cups
Rice flour- 1 cup
Corn flour- 1 tsp (optional)
Sour curds- 1 cup
Warm water- 1/2 cup
Baking powder- 1/2tsp (optional)
Yellow food colour-  a small pinch
For the syrup:
Water- 2-1/2 cups
sugar- 2-1/2 cups
Saffron- 1/2tsp
Yellow food colour- A pinch
Ghee- 1tbsp
Oil for deep frying
  • In a large bowl, combine the all purpose flour, rice flour, corn flour, baking powder, curds, food colour and enough warm water to make a thick and smooth batter. The consistency of the batter should be like vada batter.
  • Cover the bowl and set aside to ferment overnight. You will know when the batter is ready when bubbles begin to appear on the surface
  • Make the syrup by mixing the sugar, water and saffron and bring the mixture to a boil for 10-15min or until is one string consistency is reached. Add the food colour and set aside
  • Heat the ghee and oil in a wok. Do not allow the oil to get too hot. Keep the flame low.
  • Beat the batter again. It should have the same dropping consistency as the pan cake batter. If the batter is too thin then add some more all purpose flour.
  • Using a small holed cloth or a zip lock pouch, or a plastic oil dispenser and make coils of 3-5inches across in the ghee
  • Fry, turning once, until crisp and brown on both sides. Remove with slotted spoon and drain the excess oil.
  • Transfer the jalebis to warm syrup to soak for no more than a minute so that they remain crisp.
  • Drain the syrup and serve warm with milk or chilled rabdi.
  • The temperature of the oil is extremely  important when making Jalebis. If the oil is too hot then the Jalebis will fall apart, if the oil is not hot enough then the jalebis tend to droop and turn mushy So keep the flame at medium to medium low.
  • Deep f ry the jalebis in shallow oil or ghee (about 5-7cm) to ensure that the coils don't droop.
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