Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread (with chocolate chunks)

A.. La.. One more Banana bread for the files. The bout of flu was pretty bad which meant I spent nearly a week and half playing nurse maid for the kiddos. The got sick in a cascade fashion.The weather here in NC was the most undecided – switching between “spring weather welcoming new life” to “hibernating winter chilly weather”. And Flu viruses had a field day and found  new victims at my place, I suppose.  Which naturally resulted in a lot of fruits getting underutilized. No smoothies as well as soups ruled the day. So, there I had 6 forlorn bananas looking at me. Like, asking when they would be put to good use.  And I had a whole box of mismatched chocolate chips – ranging from big old chocolate chunks to mini chocolate chips. All the way from Super dark with 85 % cacao to semi sweet 65% cacao. Nearly 2 cups worth. But then again what’s a little bit more to cheer up my kids. And since I had some lovely neighbors who helped me out during the mad rush of the last 10 days, they got some nice chunky slices too. All in all , 6 bananas , 2 loaves and quarter of one left .

Some would say I was procrastinating or rather procrastibaking. A million jobs, but I had to bake ! Whoever came up with the word, was a sheer genius who understood the therapeutic aspect of baking. And online ordering of groceries. And the magical power of 10 min power naps. But if someone could still let my nutty lab know that flying leaves in the wind, trash trucks, delivery trucks, people working in the yard, AT and T servicemen yada, yada, yada are not threatening and there is absolutely no need to warn or bark her head off to keep me out of harm’s way. Or you cannot play with everyone coming your way. That works as well. It would be wonderful if she doesn’t go bonkers, but then again it would not be Maya.

Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread ( with chocolate chunks)

The recipe itself is pretty simple. I just about emptied the contents of the fridge to make this and you can never really go wrong with Banana Bread. It is  quite simple. You can dress it up or keep it earthy. Indulge with cream cheese or simply warm it and have it with a cup of tea. Or coffee. Or Milk. Have it for breakfast or as dessert. You get the point, it is absolutely versatile.I doubled this recipe and made 2 loaves. I had a few thankful friends who rewarded me with a thumbs up for this .The vegan and other options are listed as well in the notes and through the recipe.

Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread ( with chocolate chunks)

Ingredients:

  • Bananas : 3 , mashed to yield roughly 1 cup or a bit more. It does not have to be perfect!
  • Sugar : ½ – ¾ cup ( I used Turbinado sugar. Use the ¾ option if you like your bread a bit sweeter )
  • Eggs : Large,2.(Use flax substitute for vegan option . See notes)
  • Greek Yogurt : ½ cup  ( Vegan option : Use silken tofu. See notes)
  • Vegetable or Olive oil : ¼ cup ( You can use melted butter for richer taste)
  • Whole Wheat Pastry Flour : 1 and ¾ cup .( See notes for options )
  • Baking powder : ½ tsp.
  • Baking Soda : ½ tsp.
  • Salt : ½ tsp.
  • Cinnamon : a pinch ( optional )
  • Nutmeg : a pinch ( optional )
  • Chocolate chips : ½ cup
  • Toasted ,broken Walnuts : ½ cup ( optional )
  • Pure Vanilla Extract : 2 Tsp.

Method :

  1. Pre heat oven to 350 F . 
  2. Grease and  keep aside the pan of choice.I used an 9 by 5 inch loaf pan as this works well as a loaf bread.
  3. Mash the bananas with a fork and keep aside. A few chunks of the bananas is what makes this bread a bit rustic. Do not pulverize the bananas. Or alternately using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer mash the bananas.
  4. Add the eggs or flax egg substitute, vanilla extract and whisk well. Add the Greek yogurt or its substitute, sugar, melted butter if using or oil , cinnamon and nutmeg if using .
  5. In another mixing bowl measure out the flour and add the salt, baking soda and  baking powder and whisk it well.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet one and mix only until incorporated. Do NOT OVERMIX.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips and reserve some to garnish on top and stir in the nuts if using reserving some likewise to garnish the surface.
  8. Bake  at 350 F for about 45 min- 60 min or until a skewer inserted in comes out clean.Keep checking after 38 min.
  9. Let it cool in the pan for about 10 min and slide out gently to finish cooling on the rack.
  10. Slice thick chunky slices . Eat plain, with cream cheese , or anyway you want .

Notes :

  • Egg substitute: 1 Tbsp. flax seed + 3 Tbsps. of water –  pulverized well will yield a homogenous mass equivalent to 1 large egg.
  • Greek Yogurt substitute: 1: 1 switch of blended silken tofu + a dash of lemon juice to give the tartness.
  • Butter substitute: Canola oil / olive oil. 1 :1 substitution works perfect.
  • Granulated sugar switch : Raw Turbinado sugar or jiggery
  • Flour : whole wheat pastry flour is the best substitute for All purpose flour.  If you do not have it and have only normal whole wheat flour, I would use 1 and ½ cups instead. It is quite dense.  Or you can alternate 1 cup of whole wheat flour and ¾ cup of all-purpose flour.
  • If you think your bread is browning too quickly and the middle is still squiggly and squishy, cover it with aluminum foil and return to baking.
  • Can I make muffins out of this ? Certainly. Should yield 12-14 muffins, baked for about 16 min or so.

 

Have I baked using these substitutes ?

The short answer would be an unequivalent “Yes”.  My observations though :

  • Using jaggery has given me a more denser and squishy loaf because of its wet nature.  Also I had better results with using store bought jaggery powder as 1 : 1 switch then pulverizing my own. I would assume that the commercially powdered jaggery was a bit more dry and hence worked better.
  • Olive oil worked just fine as a substitute.
  • Silken tofu also worked fine. Add in a Tbsp. or so of lemon juice to add in the tartness of yogurt. But I personally would look and choose the non GMO version of it. Make sure you blend it well before adding. You will not be able to blend it after adding it. Though unconventional, applesauce has work in a cinch too. The texture would be different a bit though.
    Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread ( with chocolate chunks)

 

Lime Chili Peanuts – With a touch of honey and oven toasted!

Disclaimer : A super quick post. Still have not gotten around to using my cannon after the vacation. Inertia , I suppose.. So smartphone shots it is !

Well the Masala Peanuts lasted but a few precious hours in the house .. There was still some awesome raw peanuts left and I wanted something with enough spice and zing in it . And I did make it 🙂

Crunchy, and perfectly spiced  with tanginess of lemon with chili flavor in it and just a kiss of honey. Oh this would be totally addictive in the snacking department . Whip up a bowl in minutes and prepare to be amazed..

Lime Chili Peanuts - With a touch of honey and oven toasted!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2.5 cups of raw skinned peanuts
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice : 2-3 Tbsp.
  • Oil of your choice : 2 tsp ( can increase up to 1 Tbsp. if you prefer)
  • Honey :  1.5  Tbsp.
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp.
  • Red Chili Powder : 2 tsp.
  • Garam Masala : 1/2 tsp. ( optional)
  • Hing : A generous pinch
  • Optional : dried mint flakes

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F .
  2. In a large mixing  bowl, combine all the ingredients except the peanuts. Whisk it well. The honey especially needs to be homogeneously distributed in the spice mixture.
  3. Add the raw skinned peanuts and toss it well in this so it well coated. Let it sit for about 5 minutes so the flavors and spice have a chance to adhere to the  peanuts.
  4. Line a baking sheet  or tray with parchment paper or  non stick sheet.
  5. Scoop the peanuts allowing the  excess spice mix if any to drain off ( I did not have  to really drain  it or so) and spread them out on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake them for about 15-17 minutes ( oven times may vary so keep an eye)
  7. Let it cool before you dive in.

Options , Variables and Notes:

  • This is one of the most basic recipe. Feel free to add in some flavors and experiment. 
  • Add dried Oregano leaves  or some Italian seasoning mix, Red chili flakes and season for a different take on flavor.
  • Add dried mint leaves, garam masala and season and you would be pleasantly surprised by the Indian twist!
  • Add just honey, asafoetida and Oil along with a hint of ground black pepper and you will be amazed..
  • Always keep an eye out while toasting nuts in the oven. They go from perfectly crisp to burnt very fast.

Lime Chili Peanuts - With a touch of honey and oven toasted!

Vazhakkai Podimas – Steamed & Shredded Raw Banana Stir Fry

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.

Vazhakkai Podimas - Steamed & Shredded Raw Banana Stir Fry

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

 Method:

  • 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.

Vazhakkai Podimas - Steamed & Shredded Raw Banana Stir Fry

 Notes:

  • 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 !

Corn, Potato & Peanut Stuffed Fritters – Low guilt kind…

Corn Potato Peanut Stuffed Fritters – Low guilt kind… Succulent and meant to be had piping hot, finger licking & smacking of yumminess!

It’s Wednesday.. Do you know what that means ? Yep Just 2 more days of school madness until weekend hits. Then we have a new kind of madness. The weekend kind.. Is it just us or are most families do the crazy loopy loony tunes dance. Just before you go and prescribe anything, I just want to state on record. It’s the happy crazy kind. Cause busy is always better than keeping your mind idle! Shudder!

It’s such a beautiful day today that I did not even mind the constant din of the construction crew. Does estrogen high leads to such things? Who knows? Maybe yes and maybe a no? In any case there I had made all the prep for my kids favorite baingan bhartha ( recipe up pretty soon ) when on foraging in the pantry, inspiration struck. 

This particular kind is a mix of this and mix of that – If you have read through my blog posts , you would know that inspiration strikes me at the strangest of the times and places. So a combination of bhajji, bonda, pakora or hush puppies – in this Kuzhipaniyaram or appe pan.

This recipe yields enough to satisfy the after -school craving, of course ably supplemented by a cup of milk and a fruit. And if A1 comes from particularly grueling day, then a slice of banana bread too !

Pick one!
Pick one!

Yield : About 24 pieces   Serves: 2, 4 depending on the hunger level!  

Prep time : 20 min        Cooking time : 20 min

Ingredients :

For the stuffing mix

  • Potatoes : 2 -3 , Medium sized, Boiled and mashed
  • Onion : 1 – small size or replace with scallions – optional : finely chopped
  • Fresh or frozen Corn Kernels : 1.5 cups. I used the frozen one and microwaved it for about 2-3 minutes, so they were tender
  • De skinned Raw peanuts : 1/4 -1/2 cup, roasted and pounded very very coarsely
  • Kasuri Methi : 1/4 tsp. Finely crush and then add to the mix.
  • Turmeric powder : 1/4 tsp.
  • Amchur : 1/4 tsp
  • Jeera – Dhania powder : 1/4 tsp
  • Chilli powder : 1/4 tsp ( completely dependant on your spice levels )
  • Mix of cilantro and mint fresh herbs : chopped finely : 1/4 cup
  • Salt : 1 tsp, adjust to taste

 Batter mix :

  • Besan or Chickpea flour : 1 cup
  • Rice flour : 1/4 cup
  • Kashmiri chilli powder : 1 tsp
  • Ajwain seeds : 1/4 tsp
  • Baking soda : a very tiny pinch ( 1/8 of a tsp). Optional
  • Water : 1/2 cup ( to be added in stages )

Method:

Vegetable stuffing :

  • In a large mixing bowl, mash the potatoes , preferably the yield is with very little lumps.
  • Add in the chopped fine onions or scallions if using.
  • Roughly pound or crush the tender corn . The idea is it is slightly smashed but whole kernels of some of it is visible. YOU DO NOT want to make it a paste.
  • Add in the rough pounded peanuts ( again optional).
  • Add in all the dry spices , salt and fresh herbs.
  • Mix it well . Taste test it for spice and salt levels and adjust if needed.
  • Make small 1.5- 2 inch balls out of it. The idea is these get coated in the batter and get pan fried in the appe pan. So the size of it completely depends on the scoop of your pan. 

Batter cover:

  • In a smaller mixing bowl, add in all the dry ingredients of the batter mix and mix it well.
  • Add water in stages so you have a very thick consistency. Preferably the pancake batter consistency.
  • Too watery and it will not coat well, too thick and it would be too dry for the fritter.
  • You might need more or less of the water , depending on the flour quality.

Cooking :

  • Heat the appe pan and either spray mist it or add a tsp of oil to each of the scoops.
  • Take a ball of stuffing mix, dip in batter cover and gently drop it in the appe pan.
  • It should sizzle and cook on medium-high heat.
  • Using a bamboo skewer , flip it to the other side in about 2-3 minutes.
  • Make sure they are nice and even brown when you take it out.
  • Patience Patience, do not make this in high heat, You will simply ruin it!

Serve with mint coriander chutney, hot and sweet sauce or just eat them plain.

Want to make it the traditional way : just deep fry them !

Have it with a cup of garam chai or cold coffee.. Either way you cannot go wrong!

 

[yumprint-recipe id=’21’] 

 

 

 

 

Tadka Pasta – Spiced, Indian version of an Italian favorite

Tadka Pasta – Spiced, Indian version of an Italian favorite

Yesterday was one of those whiny gripey days where you simply could not put your finger on the reason, but the general snarl quotient in our house was pretty high… Long day followed by driving kids around for classes, dentist appointment, project help, homework and more. So nothing unusual, but hey we all can have our off days right? But all of us on the same day is a bit of a mystery. Could be the advent of fall and shorter days, could be I stepped on the scale in the morning, could be a snarky conversation, could be a stubbed toe, could be a dropped glass mason jar, could be a drooping tomato plant, could be a missing credit card and a forgotten appointment. What an eventful day !

We all needed something different, not the usual. Borne out of necessity is this adaptation.. A fantastic fusion of cuisines for your palette.. A must try!

Cooking time : 15-25 min Serves : 4

Ingredients :

  • Whole wheat Organic pasta of your choice : 3 cups, cooked al dente
  • Olive oil : 2 tsp
  • Fennel seeds : 1 tsp
  • Onion: 1 , sliced in slivers
  • Tomato: 1-2 , chopped roughly
  • Mix of sweet peppers : sliced finely, 1 cup
  • Organic baby Spinach : Roughly chopped, 1/4 cup
  • Yellow squash : 1 , sliced thinly
  • Fresh herbs of your choice : Chopped , 1/4 cup
  • Garam masala : 1-2 tsp
  • Dried Italian Herbs mix : 1 tsp
  • Chilli Flakes : 1/4 tsp
  • Salt : to taste

Method:

  • Boil the pasta till just tender and set aside to cool.
  • In a wide skillet/ wok / fry pan of your choice, heat the olive oil and add in the fennel seeds.
  • Add in the onions and sauté till tender .
  • Add in the squash and the tomatos and the sweet peppers sequentially.
  • Salt this veggie mix so you have crisp but tender cooked veggies.
  • Add in the spices and dried herbs and toss it well.
  • Finally add in the cooked pasta and toss well.
  • Add in the fresh herbs, stir once and serve
  • Pile it on a plate and dig it in!