Life..a miracle

Life..a miracle

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Comfort food - Part 2

Yes, its that time again, when I am all alone..for about 2 weeks! :(
With my fiance off to Paris, its been boring week. My work has taken most of the time  and cooking really wasn't on my priority list. But every girl has her needs and I definitely needed some good old comfort food.
So today's blog is going to be listing some of my favorite recipes:
(I apologize for the bad quality of pictures. The good camera is travelling I have to resort to my poor phone camera)

So the first one is a true pleasure food for me..of course it comes with its own package of guilt..but thats not to be considered for now. :P

Batata Kacharya (Indian-style potato fries)
Kacharya is a Marathi word which means cutting thin slices, in this case potato slices. Its a real simple recipe where in you just saute the slices in a oil which is flavored using basic Indian spices. Here is the recipe,

2-3 medium size potatoes (I usually use white/yukon gold, easy to use with skin)
1 medium onion thinly sliced
4-5 curry leaves
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
1 - 11/2 tbsp red chilli powder
salt to taste

  • Wash and clean the potatoes properly, I use them with skin, but you can peel them if you want. Cut potato into two halves and cut each half into thin slices uniformly. The slices have to be really thin so as to cook them without need of water. Place the slices in a bowlful of water until ready to cook.
  • Heat oil in a wok. Add mustard seeds. As they splutter, add asafoetida and turmeric powder, followed by curry leaves.
  • Add the sliced onion and let it saute well. Add the red chili powder, makes it easier to get it uniformly spread.
  • Now add the potatoes and mix them to cover each piece with oil. Fry the potatoes on medium-high flame for 7-8 min continuously making sure that they don't stick to the bottom of pan. Cover for 5 minutes or until the potato pieces are just tender. Remove the lid and add salt.
  • Turn the heat to high and keep stirring the potatoes until almost crisp. Serve with chapati or phulka. I usually accompany this with a salad/raita to waive off the guilt. :)
The next one is something that I have learned to use in anything and everything. I absolutely love mint chutney. I have made recipes which incorporate this chutney with rice, potatoes, chapati, bread and of course Indian chaat. I usually make this chutney in batches and use it all throughout the month. 
Back in India, I would spread it on chapati and toast this to a crisp texture. It was such a simple yet healthy snack for those evening cravings!
But this week, I was dreaming of a devilish grilled cheese sandwich! So right at the beginning of the week I made this chutney and have been making this simple sandwich all week. :) 
Mint chutney is a well-known recipe amongst Indians and has its own variations created throughout different households. Here is my version,

Mint chutney-grilled cheese sandwich
For the chutney:
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
2-3 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger
4-5 green chillies (vary them based on your choice) 
1 tbsp lime juice
salt to taste

For the sandwich:
2 slices of bread
shredded cheese of your choice
  • Grind the leaves,ginger,garlic and chillies to a smooth paste. Add little bit of water if required to help in grinding and adjust consistency. Add the lime juice and salt and adjust to taste.
  • Store it in a air tight container and refrigerate.
  • Now to make the sandwich spread a spoonful of the chutney on each slice. Add the cheese and toast the sandwich until the cheese melts. Enjoy!

I have to work over the weekend but hopefully it will be all worth by the end of the upcoming week. I finally go on a mini vacation after almost 1.5 years! Yes I cant believe it too! I will report back with all the updates! :)
Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An old favorite..

The reason for reposting this recipe is two-fold, firstly because I made it again as promised in my original post here and this time I have pictures!
This recipe truly reminds me of life back in Mumbai. My mom first got this recipe from her best friend and since then it has been my all-time favorite. It makes for a complete meal and you dont really need anything else with it. I have tried the same recipe with different types of legumes like whole brown lentils as well as different types of chickpeas.

And secondly..
When I came across a blogger event through Snehal@Foodlicious, I jumped on it and thought it would be a good idea to participate and get to know other fellow bloggers. When I found out that the event was about legumes, I had to submit this recipe. This is the MLLA event hosted by Preeti this month. This event is initiated by Susan and is hosted monthly by different bloggers. Instead of going the usual experimental way, I decided to present you with the original recipe that I learnt from my mom. So here goes..

Masoor Pulao (Lentil Rice)

1 cups Basmati Rice
3/4 cup - 1cup Whole Brown Lentils (Masoor) (soak them for about 2-3 hrs)
1 medium onion sliced
1 large potato diced
4-5 cloves garlic chopped
1-1.5 inch piece ginger chopped
2-3 green chilies
4-5 cardamoms
8-10 cloves
2 small pieces cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp red chili powder (or amount based on your liking)
1.5 tbsp garam masala powder or biryani masala or any other curry mix usually works.
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp oil
  • Grind/mince the ginger,garlic and the chillies in your processor (I prefer the old way of using mortar and pestle.)
  • I usually make this in a pressure cooker but you can make this in a stew pot too. Start with adding some oil to the pot and once it heats up add the cumin seeds,turmeric, followed by the ginger,garlic and chili paste. Saute them for a minute and add in the onions.
  • Once the onions turn transparent,add the potatoes and saute for about 8-10mins to get a color. Add the lentils and let them saute for a few minutes. Add in the spices and let them cook for a few minutes. Finally add the rice and let it saute. Add 2 cups of water ( i.e. twice the amount of rice) and bring it to a boil.
  • Once it starts boiling add salt to taste and keep it on the saltier side so that once its cooked it will be the right proportion.Place the lid and allow about 2-3 whistles or on a stew pot you can check to see if the rice is cooked. Serve hot with a spoonful of ghee (clarified butter) or a side salad/raita.

Legumes have been an important part of our diet through my childhood..and a true favorite..I always chose them over all the vegetables I didn't like.. :) this event is just another excuse for me to try and use them in all possible ways. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Calm down o weather..calm down o me!

Alright this has turned out to be a real long one! But this is a simple effort to make up for the sporadic posts in the last few weeks.
The past week was a real mixed one for me.. I started off the week with a fiasco in making something..n I guess that trend lasted a few more days.. the weather wasn't rewarding either! I was hardly making progress at work..n to top it off we had a small tiff at home.. truly the heat got to me. So to cool things down at home as well as in me I had to come up with something light..quick n still delicious..
I had ample of arugula at home because of an earlier fiasco I mentioned and had to consume it, so I decided to make something I had eaten at an organic food truck in Del Mar. It was a arugula pesto sandwich which was really light and delicious. Usually a pesto is made with pine nuts but since arugula has a strong flavor, I decided to pair it with walnuts and it surely was a good idea.

Arugula pesto-avocado sandwich

For the pesto:
2 cups packed baby arugula leaves
1 cup walnuts roasted
6 cloves garlic (roasted with skin on)
1 clove garlic peeled and chopped
4-5 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon

For the sandwich:
2 avocados
4 slices provolone cheese
8 slices whole wheat bread
1 cup walnuts roasted
Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Brown 6 garlic cloves with their peels on in a skillet over medium high heat until the garlic is lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan, cool, and remove the skins.
  • Combine the arugula, walnuts, roasted and raw garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Remove the mixture from the processor into a bowl. Squeeze in some lemon juice and season with salt. (NOTE:Because the pesto is so dependent on the individual ingredients, and the strength of the ingredients depends on the season or variety, test it and add more of the ingredients to taste.)
  • Now to make the sandwich just spread the pesto graciously onto each slice.Place a cheese slice on half of the slices and toast them in a skillet on medium heat. Once the cheese has started to melt, place avocado slices and season with salt and pepper. Top it off with the another slice and toast the sandwich well on both sides. Serve hot with a side salad or just as it is!

Now the peacemaking process didn't just end there.. I was a depressed baker since my first try at macarons was a sheer failure and had to bake something right. Knowing that my fiance loves biscotti and on reading Deeba's blog about these lovely biscottis, I had to conjure up a version of my own and here it goes..

It was again a first time for me to bake these goodies and after some research I decided to make my version of this one. I actually loved the suggested combo.. dried cranberries..n pistachios..yum! But I decided to stick with ingredients readily available at home..n had a huge batch of almonds lying had to use them.

Note: Since it was my first time, I laid easy on going too healthy..still I managed to use wheat flour for 50% of the flour requirement..and it came out really well..n no effects on texture,crunch or color (means me doing the dance around my kitchen :P) Next time I am trying 100% whole wheat flour and brown sugar.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

1 cup All-purpose flour
3/4 cup Whole wheat flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. I finally bought a Silpat mat for myself, at least this is going to save me all the parchment paper I use up.
  • In the bowl, beat the sugar and eggs rigorously to get a thick, pale, and fluffy texture (about 5 minutes). (When you slowly raise the beater the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) At this point beat in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined. Fold in the chopped almonds and cranberries.
  • Transfer the dough to your lined baking sheet and form into a log, about 12 inches (30 cm) long and 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) wide. You may have to dampen your hands to form the log as the dough is quite sticky. Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Transfer the log to a cutting board and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices, on the diagonal. Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 12-16 biscotti. Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee!

So with my week set right, my weekend had to be a good one and passed by like a flash of light.

For this week, I have a few things planned and hope its a more fulfilling week than the last one..fingers crossed!
Have a good week everyone!