Raw Bananas / Kaccha Kela/ Vazhakkai/ Plantains are a great source of Potassium , Magnesium , Vitamins and more. Infact these are a staple in the tropical parts of the worlds. Make no mistake, this very much different from the unripe green bananas and dessert bananas. Their skin is tough to peel and you need to use a peeler or knife . They also contain less sugar than the dessert bananas as well. The are often treated akin to potatoes in their usage. Often a staple in many south indian households, there are quite a few preparations of this. Kababs, Podimas, Cutlets, kola vadai . stews and so many more to tease your tease buds!
Quick to cook, versatile in its prep , chock full of nutrients and economically available – no wonder it is quite popular.
This particular preparation will yield particularly crispy plantain fry without a heavy dose of oil and has an awesome crunch and flavor on the surface and tender texture inside. This dish is really good paired with steaming rice and a stew or with hot phulkas and a dal. Or simple fry it to an extra few minutes and pick it and eat it as such. Told you, it is that good ! (I have added preparation methods for barbecue and grilling as well. Do check out the notes section)
Prep time : 10 min Marinating time : 15 min Cooking time : 15 min Serves : 4-6
Raw Bananas : 5-6, medium to large in size
For the Marinade:
Chickpea flour/ Besan : 1 .5 Tbsp.
Rice flour : 1 Tbsp.
Sambar powder : 1 tsp + extra as required for spice
Kashmiri Chili powder : 1 tsp.
Ginger : 1 inch, skinned and grated
Water / Yoghurt : 1 Tbsp. + 1 more if required
Salt : 1 tsp . + adjusted to taste
Seasoning and Skillet Frying :
Oil : 1 Tbsp. ( you can add more if you think you can take it)
Curry leaves : 6-8 ( washed very well )
Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
Hing/ Asafoetida : A generous pinch
Fill a bowl with enough water so it can accommodate the sliced bananas.
Trim the ends of the Raw bananas and slice/ peel the skin . Slice it in 1/4 inch thick slices and immerse in water immediately. Why ? Well if you don’t, it will start to blacken very soon.
In a separate mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients listed under the marinade. This will not be watery or thick gooey marinade . It will resemble a wet rub more.
Drain the slices and add these to the marinade. Toss it gently so each and every slice gets coated very well. The moisture from the slices will now make the rub more wet and help in the coating . Take care to not add too much water / yoghurt in the initial marinade rub please!
Let it sit for about 15 min or so. Once marinated it is ready to get pan-fried.
In a wide flat bottomed skillet ( preferably nonstick or well seasoned cast iron will work wonders too ) add a tbsp. of oil ( you can add one more if you would like to) and on heating add the seasonings. Let it splutter and then add the marinated raw banana slices in a single layer as much as possible. You will need to cook this on medium high heat and let it brown evenly on one side and flip to the other side to cook it nice and brown again. I initially covered it and cooked it for a couple of minutes to hasten the process and then cooked It uncovered so I could retain the crunch.
Gently toss it please, if not you are more likely to split the thinner sliced ones. In about 15 minutes or so you will have nice and crisp fried sliced of raw banana . Check and adjust for salt if required.
Serve it hot with rice or phulkas and a stew !
Want to add a twist? Add a dash of tamarind paste , some saunf or fennel seeds and some garam masala and a whole new burst of flavors happens.
Want to grill this? It would be awesome. Make thicker slices, poke some holes to facilitate the marination and let it sit for about a couple of hours and then proceed to grill.
You can add a thick gooey marinade paste as well made of yoghurt and tandoori masala and skewer barbeque it. It would be really good.
Add some mint and cilantro fine ground to this as well. Totally lip smacking !!
Strawberries – so lush and vibrant and gorgeous. Spring is an awesome time to indulge in these berries and these sweet juicy ones never disappoint you. I could never understand why these were relegated to the month of love ( February ) . My little rule book says, use them when they are in season. Eat them, add them in smoothies, make a nice jam out of these, freeze them .. They are so versatile! While They are amazing as such, add a dash of whipped cream and they are so delectable. Want to take it tp another whole new level ? Dip them in melted chocolate wafers .. OOOH yes ! While my personal preference is dark chocolate, these white dippers were my choice for a spring chilling out party. The clincher – it took about 15 -20 minutes for a whole big box of strawberries. Chilled it for an hour and it lasted just a few minutes as part of the dessert entourage ! That good if I may say so myself!
Luscious sweet berries dipped in white chocolate and drizzled with some milk chocolate drizzlers.. Celebrations anytime!
Ghirardelli Candy Making & Dipping White Melting Wafers : 1/2 – 3/4 cup
Strawberries : 25-30 pieces
Toothpicks : 25-30
Milk chocolate : 6-10 wafers
Microwave safe bowl
Large baking tray lined with parchment paper
Wash the strawberries very well, pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible. ( Water droplets and chocolates are not a good combination)
Trim the leaves of the strawberries if that is your preference. I left it in to add the visual of green pop of color and also because I knew we would be finishing it in a few hours.
Skewer the strawberries with a tooth pick ( use a strong one ) vertically. Line them all ready for dipping.
In a microwave safe bowl, add a portion of the candy chips and melt on medium power with intermittent stirring. *This step is very crucial. Intermittent stirring is essential if not you will burn the chocolate and will have a lump. You need a smooth creamy mix.
Using the toothpick, dip the strawberries one by one, swirl to cover the are desired. Remove and lay it gently on the lined baking tray. Repeat for the rest , melting chocolate wafers as required.
Cool at room temperature initially. Because we use candy dipping wafers , these will cool very fast.
Drizzle melted milk chocolate or dark chocolate to add contrast.
A trip to any grocery store invariably ends up in me looking for fresh beets. And if it is usually packed with leaves, then the fresher the better naturally. The gorgeous color and crispness of the leaves is a natural draw for me. Actually I am a sucker when it comes to all kinds of fresh leafy greens (Make it most of the veggies ). Can never resist the siren’s call !!!
So there was this lushest pack of beets beckoning to me in the produce section of HT. Gorgeous bright green leaves with veins of deep red and big fat beets clustered to it. I just had to pick it up! Don’t judge me please, I can always rationalize it as how one can never have too many veggies. So in any case, these gorgeous beauties came home and I was itching to make something out of it. Usually the leaves can be sautéed and made with a bit of soaked dal to yield a side accompaniment. But I want something else.. I wanted to make this relish that my mom and grandma could practically whip out of any vegetable. The basic recipe remains the same but the varieties it yields with it as the base is amazing. This is great as a spread, a side dish or to simply use it up mixed with rice and veggies as well.
Beet leaves sautéed and fine ground with roasted urad dal, tamarind, red chilies, whole black pepper to yield a slightly spicy, a bit tangy and wonderful earthy relish/ spread/thogayal. Chockfull of nutrients in a bowl!
Prep time : 10 min Cook time : 10 min Yields : 8 -10 servings
Shelf life : 1 week refrigerated.
Beet leaves – trim stem, chop roughly to yield 2 cups
Skinned, split Urad Dal : 1/2 cup
Wet tamarind : 1 inch piece
Whole black pepper : 1/4 Tbsp.
Red chilies ( mix mild to high heat) – 4-6 or lower according to spice level
Oil : 2 tsp.
Salt : 1 tsp + to taste
Water : 1/3 cup – add as required to grind
Optional : Seasoning ( but highly recommended)
Oil : 1 tsp.
Curry leaves : 4-6
Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
Hing : a generous pinch
In a skillet add initially 1 tsp. of oil and on heating add chilies and whole black peppers,
Add washed,skinned, split urad dal and roast till it is a nice brown in color. Drain and set aside to cool.
In the same skillet , add another tsp. of oil and now add the thoroughly washed and cut beet leaves and sauté till it is tender. Say about 5 minutes. Add the piece of tamarind. Turn off the flame and scoop it side in another plate to cool.
On cooling , grind the dal and chili and pepper mix initially along with salt to a rough grind.
Add the leaves and tamarind and a couple of tablespoons of water and grind till you reach your desired consistency. Add more water if desired. A smoother relish will be easier to handle but will have lower shelf life if you add too much water.
Optional Seasoning but highly recommended:
Heat oil in skillet, add hing and when it sizzles add mustard seeds which will splutter in the heat and then add curry leaves.
Turn off the flame and pour it over the relish and mix it well.
This is a great way to temper the spices as well enhance the taste if the relish along with increasing the shelf life a bit.
Enjoy with hot steamed rice, phulkas , dal and even a slice of toast!
Disclaimer : This post had been sitting in the drafts for quite sometime . Why ? No clue but it surely deserves its place in the sun. I hope you too would enjoy making it.
Back to Basics:
Some days you just want to reach deep down and go all the traditional style.. More like listening to call from your soul and indulge int the food you grew up on.. At least partially for me. While I was certainly exposed to a wide range, but a few just stick by you. Take this dish made out of raw banana for example. I have just about made anything from kabab to koftas from it, but this simple steamed version with just a hint of tanginess is so easy to make. Huge plus, it uses just a couple of tbsp. of oil for about 5-6 of those plantains and uses lime/ lemon for the tart effect. Fresh taste that simply lingers in your mouth ! So when I do talk about the raw banana it is not the banana which u peel and eat. This is the tropical version or plantains which gets cooked.
If you are familiar with the southern part of India, two particular states enjoy these – Kerala and Tamill Nadu. They each have their variations and I suppose each family would have their own spin of it. Well this is mine 🙂
Cook time : 25-30 min Serves : 4-6
Vazhakkai/Raw Banana – 5-6 medium numbers
Ginger – skinned, 1 inch, grated
Turmeric Powder/ Haldi : 1 tsp
Asafoetida/ Hing : A pinch
Salt : 1 tsp. + to taste
Dry Red chillies ( medium spice ) : 4 , split in half
Mustard Seeds – 1.5 tsp.
Split, de husked Urad Dal : 1.5 Tbsp.
Curry Leaves : 8-10
Oil – 1.5 – 2 Tbsp.
Juice of lime / lemon – 1 -2 Tbsp. depending on the sourness level
Take a huge stock pot and fill it nearly 2/3 with water. The idea being to immerse all the cut pieces of the raw banana in it. Therefore give enough room for it.
Trim the ends of the raw banana and cut it into 2-3 pieces depending on the length of it. You are looking for about 3-4 inches of it in length.
Add a pinch of salt and bring it boil for a about 5 minutes or so. DO NOT OVERCOOK IT. You just want it a tad tender. A prick in the center of the banana will tell you if you cooked al dente.
Strain the water, cool & peel the thick outer layer. If done properly, these would just peel off . Cool well and grate.
Heat a wok, stir fry pan or kadai with oil.
Add the Hing, turmeric powder then mustard seeds and once it splutters add grated ginger, and the add the split red chilies and then urad dal and fry till golden brown . Stir it for another 30 seconds.
Add curry leaves, and the grated plantains stir once.
Add salt to taste and toss gently. You want to retain the individual grate texture and not mushy it .
Cook this on low heat for about 5 minutes or so. Stir it a couple of times gently to ensure the spices are coated well.
Turn off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
Add the juice of limes and toss it once and serve with hot rice and any stew of your choice.
Substitute the red chilies for 3-4 green chillies and 1/4 cup of fresh grated coconut.
Do not add the red chilies and ginger during the tadka stage , but add the dry grind mix of green chilies, ginger and coconut at the penultimate step.
Cook, cool and then add the juice of lime. Tastes really good !
My oldest tyke turned 15. A year shy of the quintessential mark of a rebel.. But hey I don’t think a particular year turns the page.
I sometimes think this boy was born as an old soul in a young body. Sigh !
Or maybe just maybe the single liners or the dry remarks are just a genetic influence that has been passed on … Ahem Ahem !
But this child still has the glint in his eyes when looks forward to certain favorites. This being one of those on his list.. Happy Birthday A1 and may you be blessed with the best of health and happiness always ..
An awesome spicy and tangy gravy of Paneer and bell peppers and onions served with flat bread ( rotis or Naans) or fried puffed breads ( Pooris) and piping hot Jeera rice.
Cooking time : 30-40 min Serves : 6
16 oz paneer : Cut in 1.5 inches lengthwise
Bell peppers ( green , colored mix) : 3-4 cut in thick strips
Red onion : 1 big, cut in big fat strips
Ginger garlic paste : 1 tsp.
Roma tomatoes : 8-9 , pureed
Cumin (Jeera seeds) : 1 tsp.
Garam Masala : 1 tsp.
Kasuri methi leaves (dry) : 1 tsp, crushed
Melted butter : 3 Tbsp.
2 to 3 tbsp oil or ghee or butter
Fresh Coriander leaves : chopped fine , 1/4 cup
Salt : 1 tsp + to taste
Kadai masala: Dry roast, cool and fine grind
Coriander seeds : 1/4 cup
Dry red Kashmiri chilies ( low – medium heat) : 6
Kashmiri chili powder : 1 tsp.
In a big wok or Kadai and add 3 Tbsp. of butter or ghee ( clarified butter ) if using and heat it.
Add in the Cumin seeds and let it sputter.
Add the ginger garlic paste , fry it for a minute or two.
Now add in the cut onions and sauté till translucent.
Add the Garam masala, fine ground Kadai masala and Kashmiri chili powder ( if using) and stir for a min or two. Essentially cooking the masala combination.
Now add in the pureed tomatoes , stir well , cover and let it boil for about 7-10 min. By now the gravy will acquire deep red hue from the combination of Kashmiri chilies and the chili powder if using and the tomato puree. That is the color you would typically look out for.
The butter would separate and you would see it glistening on the sides, plus there would be a reduction in the gravy volume as well.
Add in 1 tsp. or so of salt and about half a cup of water only if you think the gravy is too thick.
Add in the chopped bell peppers and simmer in this for another 5 minutes or so.
Add in the crushed Kasuri Methi leaves and the Paneer strips and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.
Adding the red Kashmiri Chili powder is not necessary but it gives the beautiful hue to the gravy.
Don’t feel like making the Kadhai masala fresh? Go ahead and substitute with just Kashmiri Chili powder and 3 -4 tsp of dry dhania powder and adjust the masala to taste. It should be close enough, but if you could take an extra 5 to make the masala fresh.
The bell peppers need to retain the part crunch , hence they are added a bit later in the prep.
This recipe uses a lot of tomatoes. Don’t have any on hand? Just substitute with canned as per the directions on it.
This was a part of the lovely birthday dinner served along with pooris , Peas and Carrot simple Pulav , Mixed Masala Dal and Baingan Bartha.
Guavas – these gorgeous tropical fruits ! I can never resist them and if I do see them in the grocery aisle , a a pound or two is bound to sneak home. Eat them raw with salt and chili powder . Eat them ripe just like that. Red or white , it does not matter , but if I see them they come home :-)..
While this season though the hunt for it is yet to begin ( I hunt in the grocery aisles .. Please !) and I don’t’ seem to have ventured out on the weekends to the farmer markets, a trip to the regular grocery store got me this – frozen guava pulp. Simple pleasure of life. Plus it was unsweetened. Gorgeous and begging to be made into something exotic or rather something that reminds me of my mom’s creations..
Delicious Guava Ice cream with just three ingredients that makes it super creamy without eggs and can be made in a jiffy. And also no ice cream maker. I have not been impressed enough to justify plonking 50 bucks for the occasional treat ..
Before whipping the cream ensure the contents as well as the mixing bowl is well chilled . This will get you to whipped creamy stage faster and also hold it firmer.
If using the KA stand mixer, ensure the wire whisk and the bowl is chilled well for a couple of hours.
In the bowl of your stand mixer if using ( or a regular hand mixer can be used ) attach the wire whisk and proceed to whip the heavy cream to nearly stiff creamy peaks. Start on slow speed and bring it to higher speed for about 4-7 minutes. By now you should have very creamy and stiff peaks formed. Take care not to harden it and create the sweet cream whipped butter from it . You do not want it.
Add in the condensed milk and thawed guava pulp.
Change to flat beater and mix it again for about 3 minutes until they are mixed well. You will see a thick creamy mass. It is fine.
Scrape the sides of the bowls and pour into a freezer safe bowl. Close tightly to prevent any crystallization.
Should set in about 4-6 hrs.
Thick, luscious creamy guava ice cream is ready to be indulged in !
You can use whipped cream in place of the heavy whipping cream if you are pressed for time.
Guava combines with some great flavors as well. Try it as a combination of mango – guava ice cream too.
Want a dash of chocolate? Just add your favorite flavoring on the top.
But as for me – and A1.2.3.. This is just perfect ..as it is !
Well, this is going to be a fairly short write up to the post. A pretty hot spring day . And not a great day for yard work as discovered in the mid day sun. As also discovered the penchant for white noise in the background while got down to the list of things that had to be done. A broken Netflix connection did not bode well when I had a gazillion things to catch up on and so missed my badly translated movies. So while things were happening simultaneously and also struggling with a setting on the camera ( I hate to read the manual – and it’s an oxymoronic nature of mine which rouses it head on certain things), this was done to welcome the kids back from school. And add a watermelon cool slushie to this, you have a winner and a filling one at the least.
Have extra filling? Make a great sandwich filler or Quesadilla filler for you.
Don’t want potatoes? Well add anything you want – Paneer, cheese, mixed veggies , corn etc. Any and all of these will work.
Don’t have white whole wheat flour, use your regular atta or roti flour?
Masala : just mix and match what calls your fancy on that day.!
On to the actual works now 🙂
Ingredients: Makes 12 fairly large buns.
For the buns:
White whole wheat flour : 1.5 cups
All-purpose flour – unbleached and unbromated : 1.5 cups
Milk + water : 1 cup ( 3/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup water , very warm)
Sprinkling topping :
Sesame seeds: 1 tbsp.
Spray oil – Misto or Pam
Dried Parsley leaves or fresh cilantro if using : 2 Tbsp.’
For the filling :-
Boiled potatoes : 2 medium, mashed a bit
Peas and Carrots : 1/2 cup frozen, thawed out
Red onion : 1 medium, diced finely
Jalapeno peppers : 2 chopped finely
Cumin seeds: 1/4 tsp.
Garam Masala : 1 tsp.
Pav Bhaji masala : 1 tsp.
Salt : 1 tsp. adjusted to taste
Oil : 2 tbsp.
Fresh chopped cilantro : 1/4 cup
Notes: The masalas are optional. You can always add red chili powder only or add another masala of your choice.
Making the dough:
In the bowl of your stand mixer or your mixing bowl, add the flours, the salt and sugar and whisk very well. Add in the Ajwain/ Carrom seeds and dried fenugreek leaves ( kasuri methi) and instant yeast and mix well.
Add in the oil and mix well.
Now add in the very warm water and milk mixture and knead to a very smooth dough.
Cover and let it rest for about an hour or until it doubles in volume.
Meanwhile make the filling.
Filling/ Stuffing for the Buns:
Pressure cook/ steam 2 medium or large potatoes and cool and mash them.
In a wok or fry pan, add in the 2 tbsp. of oil and when it warms up add in the cumin seeds. These will sizzle and sputter.
Add in the diced green chilies or jalapeno peppers and sauté them well.
Add in the chopped red onions and sauté till tender .
Meanwhile defrost the frozen peas and carrots and add it to this and stir in well till semi cooked.
Add the salt and the masalas and the mashed potatoes as well.
Mix and cook until the spices are distributed thoroughly. You do not want a mushy mix, but just enough till they can hold to the stuffing.
Toss in some chopped cilantro.
Optional : Add a dash of lime juice for a slight tangy flavor.
On cooling, make about 2-3 inches globes of these.
Making the Buns:
Once the dough has sufficiently risen, gently deflate it and roll it out and portion 12 globes out of these. These will be fairly on the larger size. You can always go smaller but just ensure you have equally proportioned the fillings to it.
Cover it with a cloth and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Take one of the dough balls out and roll it out on a slightly floured surface to a thick circle. Keep the filling in the center and wrap it with the dough. Pinch the seams so there is no gaps. Repeat for the rest.
Let it rise on a greased baking tray for another 20 minutes.
Meanwhile pre heat to 375 deg F.
After 20 minutes when the stuffed dough balls have slightly risen, spray the oil mist or pam on the surface of the globes, sprinkle the sesame seeds and herbs.Bake for about 20 minutes till golden brown.
These were totally amazing. The were a beautiful brown and perfectly baked. Gorgeous on the outside and soft crumb holding the filling.
I think I just might have the “pracrastibaking” affliction seriously. You know the kind, when you have to do a ton of work but actually end up miraculously baking .. Yep that very kind. I had a laundry list of things to do, along with the laundry. A1 was back from his trip, DH back from his . A2 had a ton of things that had to get sorted and washed and somehow ended up debating the merits of washing in cold water and electricity with me. Yes, I know we are like that. A3 could not find his one sock. Nope, we did put both for washing but somehow ended up having only one.Yikes ! We have a sock eating monster in the house. And it eats only one from each pair. Why not both? Beats me! I often thought I had only real live monsters that gobble up the food I put on the table. Actually 3 very much discerning ones ( Bitter gourd gets a bit of persuasion from me to eat) and one with a tail that can eat anything. Plastic, paper, cloth and her food. I suppose puppy phase and all!
So while waiting for the A/C repair man to show up and the stuff to finish up in the laundry, I was doodling around when some thing struck me. We had no bread in the house.Disaster.
Since, I was pretty much stuck at home and waiting for things to happen, ended up having a mental dialogue with my kitchen aid.. The shiny green thing seemed to speak to me. Either that or I was having caffeine withdrawal !
Well whatever , but the urgent need for bread in the house cannot be dispensed with, especially since I having a talk with the Kitchen Aid!
This is such a simple and basic recipe.. You can dress it up, pair it up with cheese , stuff it with potatoes , make a cream cheese swirl or so much more..
Basic Bread Ingredients:
White whole wheat flour : 2 cups
Bread flour / All purpose flour : 1 + 0.5 cup added as needed
Milk 1% or 2 % : 1 cup
Butter / olive oil : 1/3 cup
Brown Sugar : 1.5 Tbsp.
Salt : 1 tsp.
Instant Yeast : 1 packet /2.25 tsp.
Fresh lime/lemon juice : 1 Tbsp.
Herbs and Spices:
Fresh chopped cilantro : 1/4 cup
Fresh chopped Mint : 1/4 cup
Cumin seeds : 1 tsp.
Ajwain/ Carrom seeds : 1 tsp.
Red chili flakes : 1/2 tsp.
In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer or any mixing bowl, add the flours , sugar, yeast, salt and dry spices and whisk it very well until it is thoroughly distributed.
Add the fresh herbs as well now and whisk it in .
Add the chopped butter if using to the cup of milk and microwave till it is very warm. Usually a minute or so. The milk is very very warm but not boiling hot.
Add the juice of fresh lime usually one half of it or about a tbsp. of it. And let it stand for a minute or two. Do not worry when the milk protein separates.
Add the milk and knead it very well till the dough is smooth.
Let it rise undisturbed for an hour until it doubles.
Once it doubles in volume, take the dough out gently deflate it and roll it to form a log.
Pinch the seams and place it seam side down in a greased 9 by 5 loaf pan.
Cover and let it rise for another 20 minutes or so.
Slash the top of the bread with a very sharp knife or a pair of scissors. About an inch deep and 2 inches in length. This accomplishes 2 things – aesthetic is one and the other is these gashes will let the steam out while bread is being baked. It will prevent the loaf from splitting on the sides
Pre heat the oven to 375 deg F.
Bake for about 35 -39 minutes. The bread should sound hollow when tapped.
Cool before slicing. You should have an awesome crust and a tender crumb.
Toast or simply eat it warmed with a dollop of butter.