Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chow chow bath

A classic breakfast eats that is a perfect combination of savoury & sweet satisfies the palette for eyes & taste buds. Chow chow bath is  a must have for all uppitu & sheera  lovers  all over Karnataka.


Sheera/ kesri bath
1 cup Rava/ Sooji
1 cup Sugar  
4 Tbsp Ghee
Water 2 cups
Saffron strands 1 pinch
cardamom powder  1 pinch
cashews 10
raisins, 10


In a hot thick bottomed pan pour ghee and roast rava, raisins & cashew nuts on a medium heat till aromatic. Add sugar, cardomom powder and  saffron strands mix .
Pour in hot water, stir, cover & cook for few minutes (about 7-10) and turn off the heat.
A well done sheera leaves the sides of the pan without sticking to the bottom & has ghee holding together as a whole.

 Upittu/ khara bath
1 cup Rava
1Onion, chopped
4 green Chilies, chopped
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/8 tsp Mustard seeds
1/4 tsp Urad Dal
1/4 tsp chana dal
1tsp peanuts
1 pinch turmeric powder
1 sprig curry leaves


Roast the rava a teaspoon of oil till a slight change in color & aromatic. keep it a side.

Heat the pan with oil add mustard , cumin seeds, curry leaves, urad dal, chana dal and allow them to splutter. Add peanuts & onion and fry till translucent. Add a pinch of turmeric powder, 2 cups of water & salt and bring to boil. Once water is boiling add roasted rava and stir continously till most of the moisture has evaporated.  Garnish with cilantro, cover & turn off the heat.

Serve a cupful of both with sev mixture on the side.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Roasted tomato soup

What would winter be without soups to warm us up.  A perfect soup according to me, is one that does not have corn flour for thickening, no color added  to beautify and simply unmessed with.
This one is one such kind.

With January being a national soup month &   with the icy weather we've been having,  its a perfect time to make some soul warming hot & savoury soup. A simple comfort in a bowl & (the roasted aroma of tomatoes should be a good enough reason)  saves me from camping out next to the stove to cook a big amchi meal on this lazy  Friday eve.

This pureed soup doesn't require any recipe to be followed. Ingredients are vaguely mesured and is pretty much of roast, puree, water down to right consistency, season to your taste kind. This one's off  of a magazine read  a while ago which I mentally promised to make it, as it had just a handful ingredients that gets all tossed in an oven, pureed in a hand blender, a sprinkle of paprika, done!
I wish I had the info handy to give the rightful credit for this quick to whip goodness. Here goes!

4 tomatoes (I had plum on hand), quartered
1 small onion, quartered
3 garlic clove, peeled
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp paprika or pepper
2 shallots, finely chopped
Salad croutons and cilantro, optional

Line the sheet pans with parchment. Place the tomatoes, onion and garlic in the  baking pan.

 Drizzle with 1 tsp oil (reserve the other tsp of oil for seasoning). Sprinkle salt and  toss to coat. Bake at 350° for 1 hr. Turn sheet pan halfway once. Cool slightly.


In a stock pot, heat 1 tbsp oil, saute shallots

 add in the roasted tomatoes and a cup of water to puree in the hand blender.

 Add enough water to bring it to desired consistency ( I added 2 cups) and bring it to a boil.

chunky rich soup

Serve the soup with a dash of pepper, a piece of toasted baguette/croutons, romano cheese, pepper as much as you can take (mine's laced with pepper, just the way I like it) and cilantro.  Slurp away!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gujarati Dal

 1 cup Tuvar dal
1 tomato, diced
 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1" stick ginger, crushed
3-5 green chilli, slit
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp jeera powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp hing
2 tsp lemon juice
 curry leaves
coriander leaves

Pressure cook dal  with a tablespoon of oil & salt. Pour into a saucepan with 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil.  Simmer on low flame for 5 minutes.

Temper with heating oil in a pan,  add mustard seeds, hing , garlic, curry leaves, splutter for a minute add  tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chilli powder , ginger & all other spice powder and sauté until the tomatoes are soft. Add the tempering to the cooked dal. Squeeze lemon juice & garnish with chopped cilantro.

Chicken Ghee Roast

A  sense of pride drapes over me on getting positive results from this visually pleasing, tastebud tantalizing hot chicken recipe that I was holding back, unsure of the authenticity. As a recent convert to flexitarianism,  meat wasnt someting that I truly enjoyed eating. My meat consumption is strictly dependant if there is no vegetarian option available to me.  This dish is an exception, though! I relished this for the first time at my latest trip back to homeland. I for one never order chicken dishes for myself at any restaurant but the perfect blend of heat & spices had me hooked on it.

The three ladies who have cooked this exclusively for me  after hearing me gloat about the ghee roast I  ate, made it with three different sets of ingredients, leaving me with more doubts than before. After playing around a few different times, experimenting with addition & omission of dhaniya jeera powder, having more freedom to tweak the measurements  in my own kitchen to the family's taste gave  rise to a perfect dish.
Happy, happy joy, joy!

 On a slightly different note:  A dearest cousin shared her precious 'ghee roast powder' too. Precious, I say since you realise the value only when you are outside India, that she graciously parted with. I believe her's was S.R.R brand which is awesome in itself. I attempted making my own powder coming close with comparison and was sort of pleased.  YAY! Win-win.
Recipe will be up soon.

Here's a keeper recipe that is going to be prepared more often due to the simplicity of the method & ratings given by the family.

Chicken,  1 lbs
 Red chillies about 30 ( mine was a mix of byadi for color & habenero for heat)

Tamarind paste 1/2 tsp
Cashew nuts 5, soaked in warm water
yogurt 1/2 cup
Garlic gloves 6
Lime  juice- 1 tbs
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Coriander Seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds - ½ tsp
Methi Seeds - ½ tsp
Ghee- 1/4 cup
 Garnish options; sliced onions, green chillies,Coriander leaves, lemon wedges


Marinate chicken with lime juice, yogurt, salt  & turmeric.

 Dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds & methi on low heat till aromatic. Grind it with red chillies,  cashew nuts, garlic & tamarind to a thick paste.

In the heavy bottomed pan, heat ghee and the ground masala.  Saute the masala stirring every few minutes till the masala separates from the ghee and the pungency from the garlic disappears .  Add chicken. Once the dish comes to a boil  simmer on low heat till the chicken is cooked thoroughly .

At this point the masala  has reduced  making the masal stick to the sides of the chicken leaving the ghee seperated from the dish. Perfect! Transfer to serving dish, garnish with sliced onion & green chilies.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lady fingers/ Savoiardi

The  couple days of break from school for kids, the cabin fever & us snowed in from the blizzard has been good for me baking wise. I finally got to crossing off more from my 'to-do's' as well as making savoiardi. And why not, it takes only basic ingredients + it is fun to pipe them in neat rows & the kids love to sprinkle sugar & watch them dissappear. I now wonder why I waited so long to make these delicate fingers.

In the past, I have spent a lot of time at the bread isle & the bakery section looking for lady fingers at every trip at the grocery. If I did get my hands on them, they looked very flat & underbaked. Making them sounded  much simpler than going in search of these.

I followed the trustworthy The Cordon Bleu At Home . 
Makes about 36 fingers

Eggs, 3 separated
Granulated Sugar, 6 tbs
Cake Flour, sifted, 3/4 c
Confectioner's Sugar, 6 tbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then brush 2 baking sheets with softened butter and line with parchment paper.

Beat the egg whites with a whisk or electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form again; the meringue will be glossy and smooth..
Lightly beat the egg yolks till you see ribbons like above. Gently fold into the meringue with a wooden spoon.  Don't overfold or the batter will deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Sift the flour over the mixture and fold in gently.

Pipe the ladyfingers: Fit the pastry bag with the large plain tip and fill with the ladyfinger batter.
 Pipe strips of batter 5 in. long and 3/4 in. wide diagonally onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 to 2 in. between each strip.

 Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers; wait 5 minutes and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
 Holding the parchment paper in place with your thumb, lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess confectioner's sugar. I skipped this step so as to not disturb my perfect looking biscuits; besides they didn't effect my final product.

Bake  for 10 min (without opening the oven door). Then, rotate the baking sheet so the ladyfingers color evenly, bake another 5 minutes.

Remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and let cool on a rack.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Clementine muffins

The abundance of clementine, this season & my love for these sweet delicious plump citrus is making its way in my kitchen in muffin forms. A perfect moist muffin with a light citrus glaze...what's not to love?! This is absolutely a must on my menu for when I have my girls over for some tea in the near future. All the more  craving for making this with navel oranges with dried cranberries, meyer lemon with poppy, tangerines... it sure got the creative juces flowing, allright!

 Ingredients:                                          glaze:
3 cups AP flour                                        1/2 cup confectioners sugar
3 clementines                                            2 tbs clementine juice
2 cups Sugar                                            mix together.
2 Eggs
2 sticks butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Yields around 12 muffins.

Preheat oven to 350F
Peel (also de-seed if you have the seeded kind) clementines &  chop ( roughly) all segments. Reserve juice. Ignore the pith for 2 reasons: one being that it will eventually blend in; second being that its natural fiber.
Beat   butter & sugar  till the sugars have somewhat dissolved & light & fluffy.  Add in eggs & mix just till blended.You will see a change in color. Mix in  vanilla & clementines with its juice. Add the flour &  baking powder and mix  just enough to wet the dry ingredients (but make sure not to overwork the batter). Pour into a paper lined muffin pan.
 Bake  for 15-20 minutes, until you insert a knife in the middle and it comes out clean.

Glaze them with the recipe above (or a mixture of lemon juice and powdered sugar) by pouring a  couple spoonful & letting it drizzle the sides for a fancy effect or eat them  just plain.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mascarpone & the culinary resolution

This year the one thing that I really want to achieve in my 'cooking life' is mastering a few cooking techniques that I have been letting crust on the back burner. I have this weird habit of trying to re-create dishes I love eating out, more so if I expect a dish to turn out a certain way especially the look, the taste, the texture; let's say the whole works has ruined the good mood that was set before the meal. So, if it doesn't turn out good; there's a problem - I have to make it to see what could go wrong. If if does turn out good; I want to be able to make it just the way it is. Either way, The love of food wins over my will.

This eve, my love for tiramisu won over & here I am, making the mascarpone that will be ready to be used to go with the sponge.

Here are a few things  to attempt:
 Mysore paak
lady finger sponge
pastillage flowers
tomato sauce
rumali roti
graham crackers
tomato soup(yeah, pathetic!)
and so on...

Here's a few more that were a failure in the past:
yogurt ( to be a desi & not know this...gasp!)
a perfect tiramisu

chicken makhni
scala loaf

Source: Giuliano Bugialli's Mascarpone
from his book "Giuliano Bugialli's Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking"

1 quart fresh heavy cream
1/4 tsp. tartaric acid (available from pharmacies and some grocers)

Place cream in a glass casserole or bowl, and place casserole into a larger pan.
Add cold water to a larger pan. Place the pan over medium heat and bring the cream to a temp of 180 degrees (75-80 Celsius). Use a candy thermometer, stirring every so often with a wooden spoon.
As soon as the cream reaches the EXACT temperature, remove from the heat, add tartaric acid, and stir with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds.
Remove glass casserole or bowl from the larger pan, and stir another 2 minutes.
Line a fine-mesh basket or strainer with thick cheesecloth and pour in cream mixture.
Allow to stand for 12 hours in a cool place or on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
Prepare four 9-inch squares of cheesecloth.
Divide mascarpone in four.
Place a quarter of it on each square of cheesecloth and fold like a package, without tying it.
Place packages on a plate and refrigerate for another 12 hours before using.

How To Substitute For Mascarpone

Sometimes, it's a lot easier just to substitute. Tiramisu creators have used ricotta or cottage cheese as successful substitutes by whipping the cheese until it is smooth.

Other sources have created their own substitutions. In the Epicurean Chef's Forum, "Kim" posted the following: "I found a substitution that worked okay is 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, plus 3 tablespoons of sour cream, plus 2 tablespoons of heavy cream (liquid, not whipped).

In "The Cook's Thesaurus," the following are suggested:
(1) Blend 8 ounces softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup whipping cream, or
(2) blend 8 ounces softened cream cheese with 1 tablespoon cream or butter or milk,
(3) Blend 6 ounces softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup cream
Use within one week

Avro Saar-upkari/ kulitha saar-upkari

 In my house, the easiest way to get my family to eat healthy is to bowl them over is with a soup that is pretty much a simple but forgotten saaru's :  tomato saaru, limbiye saaru, rasam & saar upkaris. So here are a couple of the most nutritious of them all - kulithu/ horsegram  saar upkari & avro saaru upkari.  Prep for all saar upkari's are the same except that avro/ navy bean cooks much faster and doesn't require as much soaking like the horsegram.
Avre saar upkari (pic 1) Kultha saar upkari (pic2)

Kulithu/ horsegram 2 cups
red chillies 3
garlic 3 cloves
oil 1 tbsp

 Soak the  gram overnight. Pressure cook kulithu with  about 3 times as much water for about 10 minutes.( 5-8 whistles).  When the pressure is off,  add salt to the gram  and simmer to thicken the stock. Thickening this enhances the flavour. ( At this point, we can remove kuluthu to make seperate upkari or for koddel or leave it as is and season it,  Some also remove the kulithu by straining and continue with the further reduction of liquid to make it kattu saaru which is tasty in itself without any additional seasoning). 
Temper by heating a tbsp of oil, crushed garlic & red chillies.  When the garlic have been roasted, add it to the saaru & turn off heat.