New year and new beginnings? Nah , more like everyday is a clean slate to make something out of yourself. It’s what I keep telling myself . There is joy in small things. It’s the small things that build it up for the grand finale – life . Calvin and Hobbes sum it up the best in a beautiful snippet on watching the stars and losing yourself in it its infinity.. Sometimes it’s good to be lost.
So all the while, NC gets about a few inches of snow and ice and we get snowed in at home – School is far far away in another land. Tee hee.. The joy of skipping school – even my high schooler fell prey to its charm and exhibited an uncharacteristic elation.
So while mom and kids lazed around and spent quality time and lost themselves in snowmen and hot cocoa, DH was stranded trying to make his way back amongst the sea of travelers and some 8500 canceled flights. Over night layover and a really bizarre circumnavigation apart, a welcome face pops in after nearly couple of days of journey. Home sweet home !
Welcome home – with a hot cup of tea and wonderful tandoori bites…
When fresh veggies were not exactly ruling the roost in this part of the country, I usually have a stock of fresh frozen (if I can manage the non GMO kind, then definitely ) of vegetables in my freezer. Cauliflower florets – a favorite here. I used this to make the tandoori bites. It was a full head of fairly medium – big sized cauliflower that I had cut in florets and frozen. I would say about a pound of it.
Baked Cauliflower Tandoori Bites:
Prep time : 5-10 min Marination time : 5 hours to over night
Baking time : 15 -20 min
Cauliflower florets – A head of cauliflower cut into bite sized florets or frozen 16 oz. bag
For the Marinade:
Thick plain yogurt : 1/4 cup
Plain chili powder / Kashmiri powder : 1 tbsp. ( use your judgment for the heat)
Defrost the cauliflower florets or if using fresh ones, either nuke it in the microwave for a couple of minutes or quick blanch it. Let it come to room temperature.
Whisk all the ingredients listed under marinade. Taste test if desired so.
Pour the marinade on the cauliflower pieces and mix it to ensure all of it is coated thoroughly. Keep it covered in the refrigerator for minimum of 4-5 hours , but can be left overnight for best results as well.
Pre heat oven to 400 F.
Layer a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray oil if desired so on them so the pieces do not stick.
Spread the cauliflower florets so they are in single layer on the sheet.
Bake for 15-20 min or so. Keep an eye after about 12 minutes of baking. A lot depends on the tenderness of the cauliflower and your oven.
HUGE TIP : In the 8- 10 min interval, flip the cauliflower florets and rotate the pans to ensure even baking. If not you run the risk of burning the smaller sized ones.
You should get crisp but tender cauliflower florets bursting with flavor.
An absolutely packed schedule just before the winter break sets in. There are days and then there is today …
So while the going gets crazy , the crazy get going ??
The breakfast was bit of a dud ..Cold winter morning , not freezing but still cold enough for you to want to pull in the blankets closer. You might want to reach out for the warm toasted bread and dab of butter. Or a warm cinnamon roll. But not a single loaf of bread was baked and we were all out bread, cinnamon rolls, hot and tasty dosa or anything nice – according to the kids.
It was the second last day of school before winter break sets them free. And the kiddos are to be out for a long time and were fed fig bars(tsk tsk ) for break fast – all natural very good ,stone ground wheat and natural fig in it .But it was not exactly a cold morning choice ! Sigh ! Even the apple oat smoothie did not soften the wounded eyes of A2 ( A1 was more preoccupied with his gazillion tests in school today ) . And mom decided to make an after school treat.( Sucker for those wounded eyes , me thinks! )
A1 and A2 are a huge fan of samosas ! I mean honestly what’s not like about it – there’s all sorts of spiced laden veggies in a pastry dough which is usually fried. And mom kind of relented( guilty of momism) and made a quick batch of – samosas . With whole wheat partially ( I cheated ) and BAKED it ! Corn and potatoes and carrots and so much more bring the burst of flavors and fresh mint/ coriander chutney – I need chai now !
Not very labor intensive. It was done pretty fast.
Time for prep : 30 min Resting time for dough : 30 min Shaping and filling : 15 – 20 min
Baking 25-30 min Yields : 12 -14 pieces
For the stuffing:
Large potatoes : 3 nos.( boiled and mashed roughly )
Onion : 1 , diced fine
Sweet corn : boiled : 1/4 cup
Mix of peas and carrots : 1/4 cup
Oil : 1 tbsp.
Red chili powder : 1/2 tsp.
Garam masala : 1 tsp.
Chaat masala : 1/2 tsp.
Cilantro : chopped : 1/4 cup
Salt : 1 tsp + as required
Cumin seeds : 1 tsp.
For the dough:
White whole wheat flour : 1 cup
All purpose flour : 1 cup
Ajwain/ Carrom seeds : 1 Tbsp.
Oil : 3 Tbsp.
Water : as required
Baking powder : 1/4 tsp.
Salt : 1/2 tsp.
For the dough :
In a wide bowl. Mix all the dry ingredients first and whisk well to ensure even distribution of salt and baking powder.
Add the oil and mix thoroughly so the dough now resembles fine crumbs.
Now sprinkle water ( DO NOT ADD EXCESS WATER. SPRINKLE LITTLE BY LITTLE ) and bring the dough together to form a very tight dough. It has to be tight dough. Do not knead it excessively. We do not want to form gluten in the dough and then you will have stretchy outer covering instead of a flaky one.
As soon as the dough comes together to form a ball, keep it covered for about 30 min. It is important to rest the dough.
For the filling:
In a wide skillet or fry pan, add the oil and add the cumin / jeera seeds and let it sputter. Add the onions and fry well. Subsequently add the boiled and mashed potatoes, boiled corn and peas and carrots . I microwaved the frozen peas and carrots and then corn for a couple of min each to aid the cooking process.
Add the salt and then spice powders listed and mix well. Do not mash it too much
Add the fresh chopped cilantro, stir once and take it out to cool.
After cooling divide it into 12 – 14 portions depending on the number of dough pieces.
If you have excess left , then it makes a great sandwich filler.
Making the samosa:
Pre heat the oven to 350 deg F
Fill a small cup with water and keep aside.
After the dough has rested for 30 min, knead it once to get a smoother one. Divide it into about 6-7 portions.
Roll out each portion into a big circle. Try to keep it on the thinner side.
Slice it in the middle to form 2 semi circles.
Now using the tips of your finger wet the edges of the semi-circle.
Bring the edges together so it overlaps to form an open cone and seal the edges .
Fill the cone with your stuffing and seal the third side as well by wetting the line edge of the dough.
Repeat for the rest.
Baking the samosa:
Arrange the triangular pastries on a single layer on parchment lined baking sheet.
Brush with a dab of cooking oil on the surface.
Bake for about 15 minutes in the pre heated oven.
The increase the heat to 375 F and bake another 10-12 minutes.
You will have flaky and crisp shell with spiced filling inside.
I apologize for the delay in the post. A1 had some work done for the braces and a forgotten appointment we had to rush to. Stoic as he normally would be with everything, the pressure and pain of the lower wire in the brace is not a pleasant experience for anyone and can quickly get on one’s nerves. In the case of A1, it usually leads to monosyllables . In good days it would be a sentence.
And then M ( my slightly nutty and neurotic lab), decides to chase the squirrel up the tree – not happening . Sore and bruised leg and ego later, she wanted to sleep on mum’s lap. Oh well ! They never grow up. You would not be very far off thinking there is three ring circus at home. Well most of the days the juggler is awesome and peace reigns..
A2 on the other hand has grown a sweet tooth ( a few gazillion teeth more likely )and seems to hover around the kitchen a bit more interested in the goodies of the day. A3 has devoted his life to building Legos , Legos and more Legos. And when we take a break, we build a city out of Legos .. Again.
My faithful blender of 10 years goes kaput and the newly ordered and delivered Vitamix stares back at me from the counter giving me the come hither look . More carrot smoothies I say ! Or Morning glory muffins! I will take both. So how has your day been so far?
In this recipe we have a slightly adapted version of the Morning glory muffins from King Arthurs domain and Earthbound farms original recipe.
Plump raisins , crunch of almonds and walnuts, hint of cinnamon and ginger, grated carrot and apple and added dash of flax meal. I mean what’s not to love about this. And btw who says it just has to be for breakfast . It’s a great after school snack as well. And in the car. And after soccer. You get the picture.
Hand one to your growing and bouncing of the walls active kid with a glass of milk and they are good on the hunger front !
Prep time : 15 min Bake time : 22- 25 min Makes : 16 muffins
Whole wheat flour : 1 cup
All purpose flour : 1 cup
Brown sugar : 3/4 cup
Melted butter + lite olive oil : 2/3 cup ( in total)
Large eggs : 3
Baking powder : 1 tsp.
Baking soda : 2 tsp.
Flax seed meal : 3 Tbsp.
Vanilla extract : 2 tsp.
Dry ground ginger : 1/2 tsp.
Cinnamon powder : 2 tsp.
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Peeled ,fine grated carrots : 2 cups
1 Large apple grated ( tart or sweet ) : 1/2 cup approx.
Slivered almonds or chopped walnuts : 1/2 cup
Pre heat oven to 375 F
Line the muffins trays with paper cups.
Pour 1/2 a cup of very hot water over the raisins to plump it up before use.
In a large mixing bowl add both the flours, flaxseed meal ,baking soda and baking powder and whisk very well. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, add the butter and oil combination and sugar and whisk well.
Add the cinnamon and dry ginger spice mix , vanilla extract and then add the eggs one by one and whisk well.
Add the flour and gently fold it.
Add the grated carrots and apples next and fold gently once again. Do not whisk vigorously.
Drain the water from the raisins . Then gently stir it in the along with chopped nuts.
The batter would be very thick .
Drop in heapfuls to fill up about 3/4 the muffin well.
Bake till a tooth pick inserted comes out clean and the muffins springs back slightly when touched.
Cool in the pan for a couple of minutes and then remove and cool on a wire rack very well.
They stay fresh at room temperature very well.
Serve warm with a a dab of cream cheese if preferred and with a tall glass of milk.
The sun peeked out after days of bleh weather here. An appointment got rescheduled. Multiple loads of laundry got done and dust bunnies were chased away. The sun shining on the deck enticed Maya ( my gorgeous and slightly nutty black lab) and she acutely made me aware why I probably needed to invest in a doggie door. The girl wanted to be in multiple places at once.. And there you have it, I think I influenced the dog !
And did I tell you about this week. We usually have nice weeks , crazy weeks and – I – can’t – find – my head weeks.. This week was mercifully though just toggling between the first two kinds. The next week would be headless chicken week. I guess the cookies fortify me for those. DH traveling and school, afterschool and after-after school schedules run amok. The kids had it more packed and A1’s schedule honestly made my high school one look easy peasy.
So in any case, felt the kids would enjoy this and a cup of milk as an afterschool treat.
And then again mom could sneak in one with a cup of coffee. After all when one bakes cookies, quality control and all .. Absolutely mandatory to test one. Fresh and warm out of the oven makes it even better. Oh and what a treat it was, crisp on the edges, gooey chocolate chip , coffee shining through and bit of delicate fudgy center.
This is a take on the traditional toll house recipe 🙂
I also was made aware of a National cookie day. Well a happy coincidence it seems.
Prep time : 10 min Bake time : 10-12 min Yields : About 24 cookies
Unbleached and Unbromated APF : 1 cup
Salt : 1/4 tsp
Baking powder : 3/4 tsp.
Baking soda: 1/4 tsp.
Butter : 1/2 cup at room temperature
Granulated cane sugar : 3/4 cup
Large egg : 1
Pure Vanilla extract : 1 tsp.
Unsweetened cocoa powder : 1/4 cup
Instant coffee or espresso powder : 3 Tbsp.
Mini semi sweet chocolate chips : 3/4 cup ( reserve 1 Tbsp. to sprinkle on top if desired)
Before you begin the baking process, please ensure all the ingredients are at room temperature.
Pre heat your oven to 350 F.
Line a couple of cookie sheets/ baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, first measure out the flour and whisk together with salt , baking powder and soda. Do not add more than what is called for.
In the bowl of your stand mixer if using or any big mixing bowl – add the room temperature butter and sugar and cream till it is smooth and light in color. Mine took about 3 -4 minutes.
Now add the egg and whisk till incorporated.
Then add in the cocoa powder, instant coffee or espresso powder, vanilla extract and whisk once again.
Add the flour gradually and fold till you do not see any dry flour remaining. Do not over mix.
Fold in the mini choco chips and reserving a tbsp. if desired so to sprinkle on the top of cookies before baking.
Scoop out using a cookie scoop ( usually a tablespoon of it or a bit more ) and drop onto the prepared baking sheets. Space them apart to allow room for expansion.
Bake for about 10 min, the cookies will remain soft but set.
Cool them in the tray for about 5 minutes and then gently using a spatula, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
These are firm and tender, crispy yet fudgy in the center.
A staple in most tambram households, ours was no different and this was a relished dish back home. The process is a multistep one and is not at all labor intensive to be feared. You can entirely cut down the process by a step when you use Rice Rava or Idli Rava. Please note this is entirely different from sooji/ wheat rava .
The idea that this being rice based, is more easier on the stomach for digestion unlike the sooji which is more stripped of its fiber content.
If you would like to make the rava at home, then you will simply have to coarsely powder the raw rice to a granular stage. Sieve it to get rid of the flour , so you have only the granular stage of rice with you.
There are 2 ways to make this
—— Take 2 cups of raw rice ( basmati, sona masoori ) and run it through your food processor/ blender to get the coarse stage.
—— In a wide wok, heat 2 -3 Tbsp. of Tuvar dal, 1 Tbsp. of channa dal and 1/2 tbsp of whole black pepper. Slightly warm it to get the flavors crackling and coarsely pound it along with the raw rice. This option has a more fiery outcome but is simply delicious .
For my preparation, I used the store bought Idli rice rava. I believe this would be the parboiled variety, but it works well too.
Serves : 6
Prep time :
Stage 1 : Making the upma : 10-15 min
Stage 2 : Cooling time 10 min
Stage 3 : Making the globes : 15 min
Stage 4 : Steaming : 12- 15 min
Makes about 18-24 ( depending on the size of the globe )
You will need a heavy bottomed or good non stick kadai or saucepan for this with a well fitting lid.
Heat the kadai/ sauce pan with the oil and temper with asafoetida, mustard seeds and jeera. Once the seeds crackle add the channa dal and urad dal and on golden -browning ( it is a term, I made it up ), add the split red chilies and curry leaves and ginger and black peppercorns.
Add the 5 cups of water and when it reached a slight boil , add in the grated coconut and salt. Stir to ensure distribution of salt. Let it come to a full boil now.
Once it reaches the full boil, lower the heat to medium and add the rice rava ( idli rava) and stir well.
Cover with the lid and let it cook on low for about 7-8 minutes.
The water would be completely absorbed when you open the lid after this time and you can turn off the flame now. Stir once again very well and let it cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile get a steamer ready. You can use pressure cooker vessel with idli stand. It works perfect or I just used a colander over a pot of boiling water to steam it.
Dip you hands in cold water or if you can handle the heat just go ahead, make big lemon or golf sized balls with cooked upma. I particularly like the round globes, but my grandma would make the oblong ones.
Steam it for about 12 – 15 minutes.
Let it stand for a couple of minutes and then serve hot with chutney and sambar.
Usually the Idli rava / rice rava cooking ratio is 1 cup : 2 cups of water. But the brand I seem to use yields a very dry mix. Hence I increased the rava : water ratio. Use what works for you.
I would not omit the grated coconut. It adds to tenderness of the upma outcome. It is worth it.
If you do not have red chilies, use green chilies.
Another variation would be to pulse the coconut along with few sprigs of cilantro. It yields a good flavor too.
Reminiscent of those Sunday meals where quick but delicious food was the norm and we had a gaggle of family and friends gathered around for one of those inimitable “quality times” at home. The aroma of fresh sambar and potato spicy podimas with a generous dose of onions and spiced just perfect with green chilies . Asafoetida wafting through the siren’s call of hot, steaming, fresh cooked food and aided by a perfect combination of melted ghee and vadams.
A typical south Indian brunch followed very shortly by filter kaapi – the mother of all Starbucks lattes and espresso, in my opinion. Those were the simpler times. Be it an impromptu weekend brunch or any of those big family gatherings, it was a given that house would be bursting at seams with folks. There was always a smile for everyone and room for one more ..
This dish dates back to those days. Clean flavors with minimal cooking but bang on the target for taste. Fresh curry leaves were always used – just taken of the tree in the backyard. Cilantro? the kitchen garden had it. Want mint ? Running out of something? Just peek into your neighbors’ backyard and give a shout out. Have a huge lot of veggies you harvested? Neighbors took them and nothing goes waste. Community living at its finest, sometimes.
This was a favorite prep back home. Infact you can make a ton of it and use it as a stuffing for masala dosa. Or be creative and stuff it into a bun or paratha, make a grilled sandwich. Possibilities ? Endless!
Prep time : 20 -30 min Cook time : 15 min
This serves about 6-8 people and goes great with samabar or simple rasam and rice.
Potatoes : 8-10
Onions : 2 , medium-sized
Ginger : skinned, a big 1 inch piece
Curry leaves : 6-8
Asafoetida : 1 generous pinch
Turmeric powder : 1 tsp.
Salt : 1.5 tsp.
Green chilies : 6 ( I used very spicy ones )
Cilantro : 1/4 cup, chopped finely
Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
Split, washed urad dal : 1 Tbsp.
Oil : 2 Tbsp.
Boil the potatoes ( or pressure cook them ) well, peel and mash them roughly ( retain small chunks, don’t make it a gooey mess) and set aside.
Chop ginger and chilies finely or coarsely as per preference and set aside.
Finely slice onions and set aside. I used 2 golf ball sized red onions. You can increase or decrease the quantity based on personal preference.
In a wide bottom heavy skillet ( use a heavy cast iron or nonstick if available ) add the oil and heat it. Add in the Asafoetida when the oil gets hot. Now add in the tempering of mustard seeds ( which will splutter) and urad dal. Once the urad dal is light brown in color , add the curry leaves, chopped ginger and chilies. Sauté for about 30-45 seconds and then add the turmeric powder and the sliced onions.
Sauté the onions till well brown.
Now add the mashed potatoes and salt and gently stir fry in the skillet until the spices are well coated and potatoes are evenly salted as well.
Remove from heat, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.
I had sorry looking bananas on the table. These were nearly on their way to the graveyard and dangerously on the edge to attract fruit flies – in November. In any case there were four of these and I swear they were brought in from the store not long enough. Usually , I do not have left over bananas. Between the kids and a perpetually hungry labrador, nothing much gets wasted . Maya , my black lab practically salivates when she sees bananas. I still cannot understand her fascination for the fruit. In any case, these 4 escaped the regular crowd at home and their rapid progression from green to yellow to near black was a lesson on natural advancement.
My first thought was my very favorite – the banana cake one. Light airy, porus. But I was faced with a near empty pantry…No eggs or self rising flour. No condensed milk. Barely few scrapings of APF. You get the picture…
But I did have white whole wheat flour. Oh how I love these. So here we go a quick and easy recipe for banana bread. It can yield 2 loaves or you can do what I did – bake it in a Bundt pan. I used the 10 cups one.
White whole wheat flour : 2 cups
All purpose flour ( APF, unbleached and unbromated) : 1 cup
Ripe bananas : 4-5
Brown sugar : 1.75 cups ( you can make it 2 if you would like )
Unsalted butter / Canola oil : 1/2 cup
Baking soda: 2 tsp.
Buttermilk : 1 cup
Pure Vanilla extract : 1 Tbsp.
Salt : 1 tsp.
Chocolate chips : 1/2 cup – your choice. Mini, caramel, dark , toffee, cinnamon etc.
Walnuts : Optional : 1/4 cup, chopped roughly
Pre heat your oven to 350F.
Dry Flour Mix: In a separate bowl, add 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of APF and whisk it very well. Add 2 tsp. of baking soda and 1 tsp. of salt and whisk it very well again. You want to ensure thorough distribution of the baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the paddle attachment mush the bananas. I should have measured it , but I suppose would yield atleast 1.5 cups of smushed bananas.
Melt the butter or you can use canola oil , add it to the banana mix. Add in the brown sugar as well and 1 Tbsp. of vanilla extract.
Add the butter milk next and paddle whisk it lightly.
Now add the dry flour mix to this and mix until just combined.
Add the chocolate chips and nuts if using and mix once. Do not over mix.
Grease and parchment paper line a couple of 9 by 5 loaf tins and distribute the batter evenly. Or grease a Bundt pan and distribute batter in it.
Bake for about 40 min ( +/- 3 min ) . Tooth pick inserted in should come out clean.
If baking in a Bundt pan, let it cool in the Bundt pan for about 15 minutes , before you invert it to cool on a cooling rack.
Slice when completely cool .
Optional : dust with some powdered sugar before serving.
This bread will be of a slightly denser texture owing to nearly completely portion of whole wheat flour. Using APF entirely will make it light and airy .
You can substitute the chocolate chips to just nuts or use in combination.
You can also add 1/3 cup of dark cocoa for chocolate bread.
Adding cinnamon would be awesome too.
Instead of dusting it with powdered sugar, you can opt for a sugar glaze as well.
If you do not have butter milk, you can make your ow. To one cup of milk add a tsp. of white vinegar. Just let it stand for about a 3-4 minutes and you can use it.
You can also use sour cream/ greek yogurt in combination with milk instead of 1 cup of butter milk.
Folks, I would like to introduce a new series of guest bloggers who absolutely are fabulous at what they do and are a pleasure to interact with. Beginning with a bang is Sreelatha – the first in the firecracker series of new age food bloggers. She marries the traditional cuisine to new age approach and bring in a wealth of those treasured recipes.
Sree and I met while we interacted as a part of a food forum and a group we were passionate about. The love of good food and her awesome photography skills prompted me to write a few lines to her. And thus began nearly a year of interactions when it struck me – Gasp ! I really should have her write a post for me. After months of messages, kiddie emergencies, summer, navarathri – we finally made it. Presenting to you Sreelatha Shenoy, awesome food blogger and photographer . While you are here, please do visit her blog for more of those framed recipes !
In her own words ….
“I am Sreelatha and I blog at Framed Recipes. I met Jay through a FB food group called Euphoric Delights. The love of food and blogging helped us keep in touch outside of the food group. I was immensely happy when jay asked me to guest author a post for her .Its been a while since I agreed andshe was very patient all this while. Thanks for your understanding Jay.I am happy to share a recipe that my grandmother used to make when I was a little kid. It is a Konkani dish called the Chana Ghashi. Chana is black garbanzo beans and this gravy dish, served with rice, uses soaked and cooked black garbanzo beans, simmered in tangy-spicy coconut gravy. Along with the garbanzo beans, we also add vegetables like Suran (yam) or Kadgi/Kathal (tender jack fruit. Back in India, tender jackfruit was seasonal, but here in the US, a visit to an East Asian store gives me tons of canned tender jack fruit. Of course,it is not the real deal, but simmering it coconut gravy does make it better. :). I like the soft and juicy tender jackfruit in chana ghashi. So, I use a whole can. If you want few pieces of jackfruit, you can definitely reduce this quantity and use according to your taste.I have served this aromatic dish with steamed basmati rice and some pan roasted butternut squash.”
1/2 cup Chana/Black Garbanzo Beans; soaked overnight
1 can Tender Jackfruit in water; washed and drained (See Recipe Notes)
1 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen and thawed)
2-3 whole red chillies (adjust to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
4-5 Methi Seeds
1 teaspoon Tamarind Pulp (See Recipe Notes)
Few drops of oil
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
10-12 Curry Leaves
Pressure cook the soaked chana.
Cut the tender jackfruit into bite sized pieces.
Heat oil in a small pan and splutter the mustard seeds. When it starts spluttering, add the methi seeds and
whole red chillies. Remove from when the methi seeds and red chillies change color and the mix becomes
Grind coconut with this mix along with tamarind pulp with a little water.
Add the tender jack fruit pieces and salt to the cooked chana and bring to a boil.
Add the ground coconut masala with the chana. Bring to boil.
Adjust the consistency, salt and other seasonings.
Prepare the tempering – heat the oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds and when it splutters, add the curry
leaves. Pour the seasoned oil along with the mustard seeds and curry leaves to the curry.
1 can of tender jackfruit contains about 250g of jackfruit pieces. You can use fresh tender jackfruit instead of the canned ones. If using fresh, cook the jackfruit pieces separately before adding it to the chana.
Instead of tamarind pulp, you use whole tamarind. For this recipe, use about a gooseberry sized tamarind and soak in some warm water to soften it up.
75 years of experience all bundled in a 5 feet petite frame. Hands that have worked a gazillion times to feed much of the family, friends of the family, extended family and friends of the extended family. And not necessarily gone by the book. She does not need measuring cups and tools. Her weathered hands just scoops and scores. Nothing fancy about it , but the taste is always impeccable.
A bit of this and bit of that, and much love added as well. The age has definitely slowed down the bundle of activity a lot and I am witness to it . And just as to defy it, she clears the fridge out of 3 bundles of cilantro – fresh and not so fresh ones and makes her spice mix . Oh and what a hit it is at home. The flavor and aroma of it is simply outstanding and is a great accompaniment to everything from Idli’s and Dosai’s to a great topping on buttered toasts and sprinkled over fresh plain yogurt…Just eat it plain, with oil, swirled in yogurt or as you wish…Whatever you do , do not miss out on this one !
A great way to finish up large bunches of abundant cilantro or coriander leaves, a great substitute for regular coconut or tomato chutney and molagaipodi, a wonderful spice flavoring for rice and an awesome way to eat up large quantities of green. A finger licking concoction from the hands of a culinary expert , my MIL .
Prep time : 10-15 min + over night drying time for washed coriander leaves
Active time : 15 min
Shelf life : 1 month , best stored in refrigerator to prevent loss of flavor
Fresh coriander bunches, trimmed : 3 -4, large bunches
Channa Dal : 1/2 cup
Split, de husked Urad dal : 1/2 cup
Dry red chilies – 10 ( spicy kind)
Dry Bydagi or kashmiri chilies – 4 ( non spicy, but adds vibrant hue)
Sesame Oil/ Saffola oil/ canola oil : 2 Tbsp.
Asafoetida : A generous pinch ( 1 tsp.)
Salt : 1.5 tsp. + adjusted to taste
Dry tamarind : 3-6 inches
Powdered Jaggery : 1/2 tsp.
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.
Preparation of the coriander leaves:
Trim the ends of the large bunches. I simply twisted out about 3 inches from the bottom to remove the stems. Wash in cold water very well. At least 3-4 times to remove the impurities.
Spread out on a paper towel or napkin, in a cool dry place to dry in shade. I usually do this very late in the evening and it dries overnight on the counter.
Preparation of the dry chutney mix:
In a wide skillet add half a tbsp. of the oil of choice and roast dry chilies and dry tamarind and set aside to cool.
Add in additional 1 Tbsp. of oil and roast the channa dal and urad dal sequentially to yield brown roasted lentils. Do not speed up this process. You will have burnt lentils on your hand. Medium high is the way to go. Also do not roast both the lentils together. Channa dal takes time to roast and split urad dal will brown faster. So take it step by step. Remove and set aside to cool.
Add in the remaining half tbsp. of oil and add the washed, dried cilantro with turmeric and half a tsp. of salt and wilt the cilantro. I believe this will also preserve the green color of the leaves. Remove and set aside to cool
In a blender, add the red chilies and roasted tamarind and blend to a coarse mix and set aside in a mixing bowl.
Add in the dals and jaggery and salt and whiz to a very coarse mix and empty out in the same mixing bowl.
Add in the wilted cilantro and whiz a couple of times to shred it, add in the dal- chili mix to give a final couple of spins to yield a very coarse, granular, dry mix.
Remove , taste test for salt and spices and store in cool dry place. As in my case, these were transferred to mason jars and stored in the refrigerator.
Notes: Do not over blend , you will be left with a thick paste. Pulsing is the way to go. Your aim is to have a coarse powdery mix of cilantro and lentils. You will notice the natural flavor and texture of cilantro this way. Another option is to roughly chop the cilantro after drying it and before wilting it in the skillet. This way you will have more even mix rather than rustic texture. Either way you cannot go wrong with it.
Pic ref : If you are wondering above the tag on Manirathnam on one of my pictures it refers to a maverick and extremely talented director of Indian cinema – who made movies using the diffused and dark light effect. When I shot this picture, I thought of him 🙂
This post has sat in drafts for a very long time. I have no clue why it took that long but all is well… Been a bit scatter brained , but that’s not unusual either. The usual activities of soccer and gymnastics and the seasonal prep of FRC begins. Maya, on the other hand has been the most unburdened of the lot as she explores the backyard like a new-found babe – after days of rain and blah weather , the sun gods decide to shine on us . You could see this gorgeous streak of black, shiny fur dashing about as she chases squirrels that have peeped our after a couple of weeks. And she makes the most of it. Streaking about or snoozing in the sun. She does make me en her sometimes ! Abundant energy and abundant love .. always .
Gorgeous day and I realize, I have about a dozen drafts – nope, honest not kidding, atleast a dozen drafts sitting in the folder waiting for their turn in the sun. And I shall oblige to the best of my ability.
Been to Panera bread? It’s like this secret joint for all bread lovers to unite . Much before the active baking bug bit me ( quite honestly it has not been too long, but lets just say for timeframe sake barely 18 months or so) their neatly arranges loaves of bread and near tumbling brown fresh-baked ones from the basket were so inviting and tempting for me. Almost irresistible that I would inevitably come home with a couple at least. Well they are now too, albeit now, I use my discretionary powers and bring a couple more of the new ones as well to try their flavors. LOL! One of their creations would be this Jalapeño cheese focaccia bread – a tiny piece of marvel with generous pepping of fresh jalapeño peppers. Yum – O ! It’s like a sirens call for A1. He could never resist it and could polish a couple if not for mom’s “look”.
Been wanting to try something akin to that one for sometime , and also wanted to incorporate fresh garden grown herbs in it. While I believe this was originally baked way back in early 2014 when I was starting out to look at yeast and not turn the other way ( been in the drafts folder too long ), baked it a couple quite a few times after that with ever pleasing results !
And here we go….
Prep time : 20 min
Dough resting time : 60 – 75 min + additional 25 min
Bake time : 25-30 min
White whole wheat flour : 2 cups
All purpose flour : 1 and 1/4 cups
Brown sugar : 1 and 1/2 tsp.
Salt : 1 and 1/4 tsp.
Garlic salt : 1/4 tsp. ( optional, but recommended)
Instant yeast : 2.25 teaspoon/ 1 sachet
Olive oil : 2 Tbsp.
Very warm water : 1 and 1/4 cup
Fresh garlic cloves : 8-10
Fresh mint : About 1/4 cup of leaves
Fresh Cilantro : 1/4 cup of cilantro
Jalapeño Peppers, green fresh : 2 – 3 big
Red chili flakes : 1 and 1/4 tsp.
Olive oil : 3 Tbsp.
Preparing the Dough:
If using a stand mixer, I initially like to attach the paddle attachment and mix everything and then switch to the dough hook for kneading.
Add both the flours, salt and sugar and whisk well. Add the dry instant yeast (Since we are using the dry instant kind, we do not need to activate it. However if you are unsure, then proof the yeast in the warm water with sugar.)
Add the 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, then the very warm water and mix it well.
Switch to the dough hook and now knead it very well till you get a smooth dough. The dough is very soft and smooth. Not overtly sticky. If required add a tbsp. or so of extra APF to bring it to the desired smooth consistency.
Oil/ Grease a container . Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place until it doubles in size ( 60-75 min). I simply spray the container of my mixing bowl and let it rise in it.
(Tip : During winter times/ colder weather , turn on the oven initially for a few min. When it hits a temp of say 150 F, turn it off. Once you knead the dough, place it in the warm oven for about an hour. It will help in making the dough rise faster.)
Preparing the Herb, Jalapeno Pepper & Garlic Spread:
In a toaster oven, line a baking tray with aluminum foil . Arrange the cloves of garlic and jalapeño and drizzle about a 1 Tbsp. of oil and roast it on high. Mine hit the maximum at 450 F, so I used that setting for about 8 min or so.
You want these roasted well and not blackened, so do keep an eye out and prep according to the toaster oven.
Let this cool for a bit. Add these along with the fresh herb mix and remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil, pulverize in a food processor / blender to from a coarse paste.
Add the chili flakes, mix, scoop and set aside. This will form the top layering for the bread.
Prep and Baking:
In about 60 min or so, the dough would have doubled in size. Gently deflate it.
Prepare a heavy baking tray by lining it with baking sheet or parchment paper. Generously mist/ spray/layer it with olive oil.
Dump the deflated dough onto it. Using your hands work it to form a nice rectangle / oval, about an inch or so in thickness.
Cover it so it is prepped for the second rise where it will rise a bit more for about 25 – 30 minutes to yield a slightly puffy look.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 F.
Once the dough is ready, using 2 fingers gently poke all over the surface of the bread. You are forming indentations and not tearing the bread dough apart.
Using a pastry brush if desired, spread the herb, and spicy pepper mix on the surface.
Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until it is nice golden brown on the top. Do not over bake please.
Serve warm bread with a drizzle of olive oil /herb oil. Best eaten warm.
Go ahead, the focaccia bread is warm , inviting and I bet it’s a siren’s call for you too.