Friday, March 29, 2013

A holiday to Zanzibar and food photography challenge

I know. I did it again. I have been absconding for more than a week now. This time the reason for my absence is not Harry Potter though. Since the past few days I have been busy with the Purvi's term ending program. There were some meetings, trainings, reports, and the kiddos class party. Although I have been cooking like crazy, I barely had any time to shoot or post them. All the juggling between the school and home made me crave for a break. And as if reading my mind, S declared that we would be spending the Easter weekend in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is a semi autonomous state of Tanzania and it is located 25-30kms off the coast of the mainland. Zanzibar is famous for it's pristine beaches, aquatic life and spices. Zanzibar is so well known for it's spices that it is often called as the spice islands. Spices like cinnamon, pepper, vanilla, nutmeg and mace are  some of the many spices that grow in Zanzibar. So you can imagine my excitement for this holiday. I am hoping to visit the spice market for some on location food photography.
Speaking of on location food photography, it is this month's theme for the monthly photo challenge that happens on Simone's jungle frog cooking. If you are not familiar with her blog, then I suggest that you head right over to her wonderful space. She is one of the most amazing photographers that I have come across. Apart from the lovely recipes, she holds these monthly photo challenges that is very exciting. Even though I was all aware of these challenges, I somehow managed to miss them. But this month, when Simone announced that the theme for the challenge was on location photography I knew I wanted to be a part of it. But as luck would have it, we never visited a restaurant or a market place all through this month. Thanks to the heavy rains. I had almost given up on participating when I spotted this photograph on my Flickr photo stream. So I decided to take part after all.
This photograph was taken almost a year and a Half  back. It was during my trip to India. Me and my sister had been to a restaurant called my tea house and I had shot quite a few pictures there. This picture of my sister pouring honey into the white tea is my favourite.  So I just thought of posting the picture.
 

I will be spending the weekend in Zanzibar and I am praying that the trip will be as exciting as I am hoping it would be. I will be posting the pictures as on my return. Till then have a great Easter holiday.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Black and White Wednesday- Spring onion bulb

Spring onion bulb

 
This photograph is my contribution to Black and white Wednesday#75. A  culinary photo event that was created by Susan of the well seasoned cook, now organized by Cinzia of Cindystar, which is now hosted by Lynne of Café LynnyLu.
 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pumpkin juice

 
This space has been quite for a little more than a week now. I couldn't help it. For I was completely immersed in the harry potter series. Although I have been reading the book for perhaps the third time, the book still grips me like it did the first time. I can't help but loose myself in the world of witches, wizards and Hogwarts.
 
When I had started reading the Harry potter novels, I had simply assumed that pumpkin juice was a figment of J. K. Rowling's imagination. I mean, who can imagine drinking pumpkin juice for breakfast? But as I began to read the other parts of the series, I realized that pumpkin juice was mentioned too many times to be assumed as fictitious. Pumpkin juice is not only a part of the Hogwarts breakfasts or celebrations, But it is also a part of threats and plots. There is a part where Professor Snape threatens Harry that he would slip veritaserum in Harry's Pumpkin juice. There is also a part where Ron assumes that Harry had mixed Felix Felices in his pumpkin juice. So you see, Pumpkin juice was mentioned too many times for me to ignore any longer. So there I was searching for the "Magical" Pumpkin juice recipe on google.
 
 
 
 
I found the recipe for this magical concoction on muggle.net. But I have made quite a few changes to suit my taste and pantry requirements. How did it taste you ask?? If I have to put it simply, it was "delicious" and rich. Despite being sweet and rich this drink is very low in calories. Ayurveda says that pumpkin is one of the best vegetables to reduce blood pressure. It is also known as one of the best foods to clean the bladder and surrounding organs.
 
 
This drink is one of the best ways to sneak in vegetables into a fussy child's diet. I am sure that the idea of drinking Harry Potter's favorite drink will definitely appeal to them.
 
 
Pumpkin juice recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Serves- 4
 
Ingredients:
Cubed Pumpkin pieces- 2 cups
Cinnamon- 1" stick
Star anise- 1
Cloves-3
Apple juice- 250ml
Orange juice- 150ml
Honey- 1-1/2tbsp
Sugar- 2tbsp
Cinnamon powder- 1/2tsp for garnish
 
 
 
Method:
  • In a thick bottomed vessel, combine the pumpkin pieces along with cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. Add one cup of water and cook on low flame till completely tender. Take off the heat, discard the spices and set aside to cool completely.
  • In a blender jar, combine the cooked pumpkin, along with the apple juice, orange juice, honey and sugar and blend till completely smooth.
  • Pour the juice in individual glasses, sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon powder on top and serve immediately.
Note:
I personally like this drink with a thick smoothie like consistency. But if you prefer the juice to be a little thinner, then you can increase the quantity of the apple juice or orange juice
 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nasi goreng- Malaysian/ Indonasian fried rice

 
Nasi Goreng literally means "fried rice" in Indonesian. This rice preparation is indigenous to Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines. Traditionally, Nasi Goreng is made with left over rice and is flavored with Soyasauce, lime or tamarind, meat, fish or vegetables and is topped with fried egg. There are many versions to this rice dish. And this my vegetarian version has, peas, coconut, corn and a variety of toppings.
 
 
This version is inspired from Asha Khatau's "exciting vegetarian cuisines of the world". I say "inspired" because, I have made so many changes to the recipe that I am not even sure if there is any ingredient that remains unchanged. Despite all the changes, I must say that this rice tasted just awesome and it made our meal hearty and gratifying.
This dish is extremely versatile. The vegetables and the toppings can be changed to suit your tastes and the heat of the chili can be adjusted to your liking as well.
 
 
 
 
Nasi goreng recipe
preparation time: 15mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
Long grained rice- 1 cup
Sesame Oil- 2tbsp
onion- 1 large, chopped fine
Garlic- 2 cloves
Kashmiri red chilis- 3, deseeded
Ginger- 1" piece
Fresh or frozen peas-1/4 cup
Fresh or frozen corn kernels-1/4 cup
Grated fresh coconut-2tbsp+2tbsp
Light soya sauce-1-1/2 tbsp
Sugar- 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Lemon juice- 2tsp
Freshly ground Pepper powder to taste
To garnish:
Chopped  and toasted cashews, spring onions and chopped tomatoes
 
 

Method:
 
  • Cook rice in 1-1/2 cup of water and set aside.
  • Grind the red chilies, ginger garlic,onion, along with 2 tbsp of coconut and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the peas and fry for 2-3 min.
  • Add the corn and fry for a min more. Stir in the ground mixture and keep sautéing the mixture for 5 more min or till most of the water is evaporated.
  • Stir in the remaining coconut, rice, salt soya sauce, sugar and pepper and mix till the rice is coated with the spice mixture.
  • Transfer the rice to a serving dish. And garnish with chopped and toasted cashews, spring onion greens and chopped tomatoes
Note:
  • You can substitute the cashews with roasted and crushed peanuts
  • You can substitute the corn kernels with equal quantity of peas.
 
 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Idli- Steamed rice and lentil cakes, Vegan and gluten free

 
Idli is perhaps on of the most famous and staple and of south India. Being a true blue South Indian, I have great love for this dish. I mean, I love this dish so much that I can have it at anytime of the day without complaining. To me Idli is one of those safe foods. As idlies are steamed, anytime, i.e. even when you are sick or anywhere. Yes. Even on the pavement. Now you tell me. What is not to love about this dish.
According to me, my grand mother makes the best Idlies in the whole world. I remember carefully taking down the recipe from her before moving to Dar. I also remember pestering her with all sort of silly questions about fermentation, measurements, etc. Now with all the information, one should be able to conjure perfect idlies right??? Well it as different story all together. There I was trying to impress my husband of few months, with idlies for breakfast and what do I see? No it was definitely not idli. It was just batter that had turned rock hard. I was so disappointed and crestfallen that I was on the verge of tears. I couldn't understand where I had gone wrong.


After that, my quest for that "perfect" idli recipe started. I tried every recipe that I could find on the  net or in books. But each time it turned out bad. I almost gave up making Idlies thinking that, one had to have either a wet grinder or a hand like my grandmother's to make those super soft idlies. It  was at that point that I got this recipe. I was invited for a Tulsi pooja at my friend P's place and she had served Idlies for snacks. They had the same soft, melt in the mouth texture. They tasted just like my grandmother's. I remember asking her if she had a wet grinder and I was pleasantly surprised when she said that she didn't. I asked her for the recipe and she was sweet enough to share it. I had tried it the following weekend and it was a huge hit. From then on, this recipe is keeper. So if you are one of those who is struggling with idlies, then I suggest you give this a try. Chances are, it could be a keeper recipe for you as well.


 
 
 
 
Idli recipe
Preparation time- almost a day
Cooking time- 20min
Makes- 2-1/2 to 3 dozen idlies

Ingredients:
Sona masoori Rice- 300gm or two cups+ 2tbsp
Urad dal or black lentils- 1 cup
Poha or beaten rice- 2tbsp
Salt as per taste
Oil to grease the idli molds or plates

   
Method:
  • Mix the rice along with the poha and the Urad dal with 2 tbsp. of rice and soak the rice and lentils separately in enough water for 4-6hrs.
  • In a grinder or a blender, grind the rice to a coarse paste. The consistency of the ground rice should like fine semolina .
  • Transfer the ground rice from the blender jar to a vessel and keep aside.
  • Next, in the same blender grind the urad dal and rice mixture to a fine paste.
  • Tip the ground lentil paste to the vessel containing the rice mixture and mix well with hand or with a whisk till light and airy.
  • Cover the vessel and set aside in a warm place to ferment for 5-6hrs or overnight.
  • The next morning, add salt to the fermented batter and mix well.
  • Grease the idli plates with some oil and fill the plates with the batter till 3/4th full.
  • Place the idli holder in a pressure cooker and steam bake the idlies for 10-15min or till done.
  • Allow the idlies to cool in the plates for 5min before removing the idlies.
  • Serve hot with ghee, chutney and sambar.
 
 
Notes:
  • Do not place the weight in on the pressure cooker when steam baking the idlies.
  • The consistency of the fermented batter should be such that, that it should thickly coat the back of the spoon. If you feel the batter is thick, then add more water to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Avoid using chlorinated water when soaking the rice and lentils. It retards the fermentation process.
  • If you do not have the idli holder, then you can use small cups as idli molds.
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