Vanilla Button Wafer Cookies – Eggless, Simple and Irresistible

It was good to get a breather . Don’t remember the last time I had a weekend where I could actually have a cup of tea and sneak in a few moments that did not involve schedules and lists – of any kind . DH and yours truly are Yin and yang when it  comes to tea – a dash of sugar in one and absolutely none in the other one . Ginger shining through in one and no thanks on the other. Cardamom with a heavy hand on one and not so fast on the other hand. But for the 30 minutes, it was middle ground for tea and absolute serenity. Accompanied by absolutely ” melt in the mouth vanilla button wafer cookies”. Oh these were so good . Had to try this out because I wanted to make something for a dear old soul who would not eat anything with eggs in it.

These were buttery, crispy , absolutely melt in your mouth with vanilla not overpowering and keeping the flavor subtle but classy. I like those kind .  And I suppose now that these were such a hit , I would be experimenting a bit more – on the flavors .

INGREDIENTS:

  • Unsalted Butter: 1/2 cup 
  • Fine All Purpose flour : 1 and  1/4 cups
  • Powdered / Confectioner’s sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Fine Granulated Sugar: 1/4 cup
  • Salt: 1/4 tsp.
  • Milk : 1/4 cup
  • Pure Vanilla Extract : 1 Tbsp.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer cream the butter and sugar till you get a light fluffy mix. It should take about 4-5 minutes. Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl so all is incorporated and you do not have butter stuck high on the paddle.
  4. Add the quarter cup of milk and vanilla extra extract and make sure it is whipped in well.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl sift the flour and salt together.
  6. Add the flour to the creamed mix and fold  gently. Only till incorporated. DO NOT OVER MIX.
  7. Fit a pastry or piping bag with a large round piping tip. The dough is very very soft and pliable . Almost like very sturdy buttercream. So you should be able to pipe it out easily.
  8. Pipe about an inch diameter circles onto the baking sheets. These do not spread very much so an inch space between then should do.
  9. Bake for 16-18 minutes. You are looking for golden brown on the bottoms and around the edges. It is very easy to over bake, so keep an eye.
  10. Let it cool on the pan for about a couple of minutes (the cookies set further on the baking sheet ) and then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely and store it in air tight container.
  11. This makes about 60-65 one inch button cookies. Lasted about a couple of days  hours at my place.

NOTES:

  • Creaming is absolutely essential otherwise you will not get the desired consistency. If you think your white granulated sugar is a little big on the crystal size, pulverize it once before creaming. I would not use brown sugar here, because the molasses content in the brown sugar will make these soft.
  • Over mixing will produce tough cookies. The texture is crispy, absolutely melt in the mouth because of the high butter content. There is a fraction of caramelization as well and you can feel it in the taste.
  • Are these sweet? Yes. Overpowering? No. Could you reduce the sugar content? Possibly. I would probably experiment the next time by increasing the flour content and adding a couple of tablespoons of milk to ease out for the texture, keeping the butter and sugar content the same.
  • I honestly felt the vanilla extract was just perfect. You need the taste subtle not overpowering and this will make it a wonderful addition to a pudding or in ice cream. Would this work with wheat flour? Possibly but you will need fine milled whole wheat pastry flour for this. And definitely work on the ratios to get the texture.

 

 

Baby Corn Masala (Gravy style)

It was supposed to be a small remodeling of the kitchen but it put mine out of commission for nearly a couple of months. What’s that saying about humans making plans and the gods laughing on it?  

Sprinkle  in extra chaos of spring break – before , during and after, some 4 year old chores and AP exams and prep for A1 . Then add in some gymnastics meet schedules for A2 and spring soccer for A3 – complete with game schedules, make ups , thunderstorms and more( we won the last game – yay!), I just think we were lucky to just have plain simple fare to fill the bellies.

Add to it a missing contractor. Just when we thought we should put out an APB ( I did contemplate it for a whole min – I promise !) for this chap , he shows up . Yippee ! Now that work is almost done, I can get back  some of the sanity that was in short supply during these couple of months  !!! . And therefore on an impoverished day , canned baby corn come to the rescue. This was got in the hope that some day it would inspire me to make MSG – less version of it from a popular Indo- Chinese fusion restaurant that draws in hoardes near my place.

Baby Corn Masala (Gravy)

This is such a simple and delicious fare that you can add your own twist to it and it still works out handy. A friend of mine sampled it on the day it was made and had nothing but good things to say. Serve it with a wedge of lime, add a dash of cream to make it extra special. Serve it with basmati pilaf, hot phulkas, laccha parathas or fried rice. You just cannot go wrong with this.

Baby Corn Masala (Gravy)
Baby Corn Masala (Gravy)

Of course the main reason why this could be made in 15 -20 min or so is because we pan cook the tomatoes and onions before grinding them to a paste. And also we use readily available dry masala powder to shorten the process time.

Prep time : 5-8 min  Cook time : 8 -10 min Total time 15 -20 min

Ingredients :

  • Canned baby corn : 2
  • Onions : 2 ( diced)
  • Tomatoes : 2 ( diced)
  • Green bell pepper : 1 ( chopped into big pieces)
  • Cashew/ Almonds : 10 ( broken if possible)
  • Cumin seeds : 1 tsp
  • Crushed Kasuri Methi : 1 tbsp.
  • Chopped fresh Cilantro : 1/4 cup
  • Garam Masala : 1 tsp.
  • Kitchen king Masala : 1 tsp.
  • Kashmiri Mirch powder : 1 tsp.
  • Red chili powder ( spicy ) : 1/4 tsp. + adjusted to spice tolerance
  • Optional : 3 Tbsp. light cream, for serving
  • Flavorless oil : 2 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp.
  • Salt : to taste
  • Water : 1/2 – 3/4 cup

Method :

  • Drain the baby corn of the liquid in the can , wash well with cold water , cut into smaller pieces about an inch long or so and keep it drained in a colander. The idea is to get rid of the brine as much as possible.
  • In a heavy sauce pan or wok, on dry heat roast the cashew or almonds until very warm or slight brown and set aside.
  • In the same wok add the 2 Tbsp. of oil and  fry the onions and then the tomatoes in sequential order for about 5 -6 min so you are left with a very thick stew. The purpose is two fold – one is to cook the onions and tomatoes so the raw edge of the veggies are wiped out and the second purpose is to hasten the cooking process of the gravy. Remove and set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil in the wok and add in the cumin seeds and once it sputters add in the chopped bell peppers and sauté till it retains the texture but almost cooked. Say about 3 min or so.
  • Now add in the chopped baby corn and stir it in.
  • Add in the Garam Masala. Kitchen King masala and chili powders and a tsp. of salt and stir for about a min or so.
  • Grind the roasted cashews / almonds and then the sautéed onions and tomatoes with about 1/2 a cup of water till you get a thick gravy. It was about a min in my Vitamix.
  • Add this to the vegetables and let it boil for about 5 min or so. You will see the change in the color a tad bit . Taste for salt. Add in the crushed Kasuri  Methi , stir again.
  • You will have a very thick stew with slightly crunchy bell peppers and tender baby corn !
  • Serve hot garnished with fresh cilantro ! Add a dash of lime or drizzle in some heavy cream and your kids will lick their finger tips !!
Baby Corn Masala (Gravy)
Baby Corn Masala (Gravy) served hot with steaming peas pulav!

FAQ:

  • Can I use frozen baby corn? 

I wish I got those here  in these parts of the world. Definitely would be my preferred choice over canned ones. Follow the instructions on the pack for cooking directions or if there are none, I would thaw and then dunk in boiling water for about a min.

  • What if I do not have the Kitchen King Masala or Garam Masala on hand?

Simply adjust the quantity of one for the other  or use whole masala in their place. Of course it requires additional time of roasting and grinding.

  • Why do you need both the chili powders?

One is of low heat and gives a vibrant color and  the other adds the heat.

Chunky Milk Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

How would you like some big – fat – wholesome – crunchy and crispy on the edge and chewy in the middle wheat – oats  and toasted nut – Chocolate chip cookies? Drooling ?

Fresh cookies baked with hint of cinnamon and some milk chocolate as well . And did I day they have reduced sugar. Definitely a worthy contender to the list of wholesome options. And not to mention the kitchen smelled heavenly . Definitely christmassy in spring theme , I say !

This was to have been published a couple of weeks ago. But let’s just say my Macbook decided not to cooperate and a whole bunch of my photos just poofed up in thin air !

Chunky Milk Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Lots of adventures aside, this recipe needs to be up as the cookies are long gone  and kids are clamoring for more. And I would love for you all to try it as well.

 

IMG_0722_edited-1HChunky Milk Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Gorgeous, big fat near bakery style cookies with crunch of nuts, hint of cinnamon and sweetness of milk chocolate balanced by semi sweet chips. Crispy, yet chewy oatmeal wheat cookies – served with a glass of milk and a big smile !

 

Prep time : 20 min

Baking time :  10-12 min

Cookies about : 24 -36

 

Ingredients:

Sift and Mix :

  • White whole wheat flour : 3/4 cup
  • Unbleached All purpose flour : 3/4 cup
  • Baking powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Baking soda : 1/2 tsp.
  • Cinnamon ground : 1 tsp.
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp.
  • Quick cooking oats : 1 cup

To cream :  ( Ingredients at room temperature)

  • Unsalted butter  : 1 and 1/2 sticks or  12 Tbsp.
  • Granulated sugar : 1/4 cup
  • Packed dark brown sugar : 2/3 cup
  • Pure Vanilla extract : 1 Tbsp.
  • Almond extract : 1 tsp. ( optional)
  • Large , cage free egg : 1
  • 2 % milk : 2 Tbsp.

Additions for the final cookie base :

  • Milk chocolate chips : 1 and 1/4 cups
  • Semi sweet chips : 1/4 cups
  • Toasted and chopped walnuts and almonds : 1 cup

Instructions:

  • Pre heat oven to 375 F.
  • Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Clean up would be a breeze.
  • Sift and mix all the ingredients listed under order. Add the quick cooking oats  at the very final stage and then given a thorough mix.
  • Cream the butter well initially. Say for about 3 minutes.Then add in the sugars and cream for another couple of minutes to yield a fluffy creamy mass.
  • Add the whole egg and mix it in thoroughly and then add the vanilla and almond extracts and the couple of tablespoons of milk and mix till blended again.
  • Now add in the flour-oats combination mix. Just mix until no streaks remain . Do not over mix.
  • Finally fold in the chocolate chips and nuts for even distribution.  Fold it in please. Again DO NOT over mix please.
  • Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon scoop, scoop out portions of the cookie dough and place about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake at 375 F for about 10-12 min so edges are browned crisp , but centers remain chewy. Or if you prefer you can make it crisp entirely too. I made a combination of both.
  • Remove and cook on baking sheets for about 5 min. Remember they do continue to cook on the sheets, so change them out to wire racks after that to cool down.

Chunky Milk Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Recipe is a minor adaptation of the original one from  Nestle site.

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

It is a gorgeous day and looks like winter is on its last legs in NC.  Who wants to do a boatload (make it loads) of laundry, check things off the work checklist, shop, cook and drive around for a gazillion pickups and drop offs.. Right ! We sure can dream on, can’t we?.

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

Meanwhile reality sinks in and work beckons and just for the lark of it , I think this week calls for something special. Why so, you may ask ? Why not ? I reason . It’s special cause we want it to be , cause we feel like it and cause I am singing Pharell Williams “Happy” song.  A3 theorizes that un-birthday , birthday celebrations are cool. Therefore , mom has been summarily hinted and pleaded alternatively, to pretty please plan and throw  a “surprise” one. No amount of  A1 and A2’s reasoning that one cannot really plan for one’s “surprise” party holds water. A3 promises to promptly forget he asked for one as long as he is promised his special day. LOL. I love this kid’s reasoning !

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

I kind of agree. I guess if you really want it, then you should go for it. While the event still  has a few more weeks ( atleast 12 weeks ) to go into, I am pretty sure A1,2 and 3 will be thrilled to have a slice of this freshly baked cinnamon swirled bread . Hand it over with a tall glass of milk and wholesome fruit  to go with it. Yum ! After a long day of school and before the gym practice and meet, this is a welcome treat for them.

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread: 

A welcome treat, especially after a grueling day for the kids. Flecks of cinnamon in the batter will greet you along with a ribbon of cinnamon sugar smack in the middle. Vanilla enhances the flavor subtly and you have a moist crumb when you slice the bread. If only you can wait until its cool enough to slice !

Prep time : 15 – 20 min   Cook time : 45-50 min   Serves about 10 thick slices.

Ingredients:

For making the batter base :

  • Unbleached All purpose  flour : 1 cup
  • White Whole wheat flour : 1 cup
  • Salt : 1/4 tsp.
  • Baking Soda : 1 tsp.
  • Cinnamon powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Unsalted Butter : 8 Tbsp. / 1/2 cup
  • Packed Brown sugar : 1/4 cup
  • Granulated Sugar : 3/4 cup
  • Egg, large, cage free : 1
  • Pure vanilla extract : 1 tbsp.
  • Buttermilk  : 1 cup or Milk , 2 % : 1 cup + 1 Tbsp. of Vinegar or lemon juice

For the Sugar swirl : ( whisk ingredients till combined well )

  • Granulated sugar : 1/4 cup
  • Cinnamon Powder : 2 tsp.

Method:

Note: please bring all the ingredients to room temperature before baking. The only exception for me is the vanilla extract which I take it out just when I start creaming the butter and sugar.

  • Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 by 5 inch bread loaf pan and set aside.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, scoop out  the 2 cups of flour and add salt and baking soda along with cinnamon and whisk very well to ensure thorough distribution. Alternatively sift it all together in a bowl.
  • Cream the butter and sugar in your stand / hand mixer till pale and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and whisk it till well combined.
  • Add the vanilla extract and whisk again.
  • Add the buttermilk if using or if not add the vinegar to room temperature milk and set aside for a couple of minutes and use.
  • Whisk well till combined thoroughly.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix till combined.
  • The batter would be thick and fluffy.  Optional : you can add cinnamon chips now in the batter if using. 

Layering the batter and baking :

  • Add half of the batter to the  prepped pan and smooth it.
  • Now add 3/4 of the sugar – cinnamon mix as a layer and gently pat a couple of times to get it to stick to the batter.
  • Now add the rest of the batter as dropfuls and smoothen it to get a layer like a sandwich. The reason to add as dropfuls and not add in one heapful is because this is such a thick batter , if you drop them in spoonfuls distributed along the pan length , then it is simply a matter of joining the dots.
  • Now add the reserved 1/4  of the sugar cinnamon mix on the top and pat down to let it stick.
  • Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or so or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove, cool and then slice.
  • Serve warm !

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

 

 

 

Adapted from redflycreations and allrecipes.

Chunky Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Cookie

Would you like some whole wheat flour and thick rolled oats cookies with goodies which are tart, sweet and crunchy in it ? Oatmeal raisin is an all american classic cookie, but not exactly a favorite here at home. I really wanted to use up the tin of thick,rolled oats that found its way home after a shopping trip in November. Well you cannot really use it all up, but this is a great start and DH can swim in oatmeal whereas A1, 2 and 3 run away at the sight of it. It’s all about the compromise folks..Life is peaceful and oat battleground is calm again. What is it like in your place? do you guys love it? hate it? necessary evil it?

Chunky Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Cookie

Why mess around with the basics eh? But we do what we got to do. And we bake the classic cookies with a minor twist. And who would not like to be done in 30 min flat ( apart from getting the butter and egg to RT ) ? 
And pick one while warm and flip it hand to hand so you can take a bite ? A 3 has just about perfected a neat technique he practices when the cookies are right out of the oven and cooling off on a tray. And we just absolutely would die if it cannot be picked up 🙂

Chunky Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Cookie

Let’s get a rundown on this ..

  • Whole wheat flour : check 
  • Rolled oats : check
  • Brown sugar : check 
  • Goodies : check 
  • Under 30 min : check !!
  • Chunky, Crunchy ,Crispy, Chewy : check 

Prep time : 15 min

Baking time : 16 minutes  

Yield : about 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • White whole wheat flour : 3/4 cup
  • Thick, rolled oats ( not instant) : 1 and 1/4 cups
  • Dark brown sugar : 1/2 cup ( packed)
  • Granulated sugar : 1/4 cup
  • Unsalted butter , room temperature: 7 Tbsp.
  • Large, cage free egg : 1
  • Cinnamon , ground : 1/4 tsp ( optional)
  • salt : 1/2 tsp.
  • Baking powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Chopped, toasted walnuts : 1/4 cup
  • Dried Cranberries : 1/2 cup
  • Chopped Semi sweet or dark chocolate : 1/4 cup
  • Pure Vanilla extract : 1 Tbsp.

Method:

  • Pre that the oven to 350 F
  • Line two baking trays with parchment paper or silpat.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk very well. Add the rolled oats and whisk again.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer ( or if using a hand mixer) cream the butter initially for a couple of minutes and then add the sugars and cream for another 2 minutes. Smooth texture is all that we need
  • Add the egg and whisk till incorporated. Do not over beat.
  • Add the vanilla extract and cinnamon powder and whisk once again.
  • Add the flour and oats mix and fold it in.
  • Add the chocolate bits, cranberries and toasted walnuts and fold again. Note: Fold, not beat it in. Simple gently fold in so they are distributed. Do do not beat th check out of it. You will have tough cookie and not a tender one then.
  • Place spoonfuls ( about 1.5 inch balls/ globes / scoops) about a couple of inches apart  on the lined baking tray. Tip : taller scoops will yield chunkier , puffier cookies.
  • Bake for about 14-17 minutes, till edges turn brown and tops are a pale brown.
  • Let it cool in the baking tray for about 5-8 minutes before transferring to a wired cookie sheet to finish off the cooling process.

Enjoy with a tall glass of cold/ warm milk. Or perfect with a robust tea.

Chunky Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Cookie

 

Gasp ! this is a breakfast cookie 🙂

 

 

 

Espresso/ Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

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.

Espresso/ Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

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.

Espresso/ Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep time : 10 min  Bake time : 10-12 min  Yields : About 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Procedure

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.
  • Best with a tall cup of milk

Espresso/ Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kothamalli Podi – Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder (Dry)

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 !

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

 

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 .

 

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

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

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Method:

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.

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

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.

 

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

 

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 🙂

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti with dark chocolate drizzle !! Perfectly crisp and delicious!

Gosh ! Don’t you just love  Biscotti ? Well I do ! Atleast now. Twice baked goodies of perfection originated in Italy and as American as apple pie, these  find their way into my pantry now more often.

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti With dark chocolate drizzle

There was time it was viewed as dry dust by me. More like saw dust. Hard as rock and bone dry, I was puzzled by it’s universal love. Maybe I had just got a bad batch, I reasoned. But nope after a couple of tries just nodded my head pleasantly and fixed a smile on my face whenever I was offered one, all the while thinking perhaps it was an acquired taste and how not choke on it!  I mean how much can one love those hard as rock, dry as saw dust cookies…. even when dipped into espresso?

Then, I chanced upon these glorious home made treats from a fellow worker. Moist but yet crispy with tons of flavor !  ( Yes, I do realize its quite oxymoronic in its description). She was generous enough to bake me some for Christmas. Rather her mom was a sweetheart ! And then over the years I developed tender feelings towards it. That’s just me, sort of need to crack the science in it.

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti With dark chocolate drizzle

And another version at TJ’s marketed as the soft biscotti caught my fancy. Rather DH bought a tub and we I indulged in it a bit too much over the weeks. Whatever the case, I fell in love. Oh!, not that dewy, butterflies in the stomach kind , my lips are are truthful, but the OMG I can bake this at home kind.

So after much wheedling for the recipe and a few pointers and misfires, this recipe from a friend and mish mashed with the one on Allrecipes site works perfectly!

Crispy and crunchy and perfectly dippable but eminently eatable as a standalone cookie,with a generous combination of lemon and pistachios and with a touch of softness so you enjoy the cookie ! Add a tiny, tiny touch of wow with the gorgeous drizzle of dark chocolate ! C’mon now, what’s your excuse for not reaching out for one ?

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti With dark chocolate drizzle

  • Baking temp : 375F
  • Baking time : About  25 minutes + 10 minutes 
  • Prep time : 15-20 minutes
  • Yield : 24-48 cookies

 Ingredients

  • All purpose flour / APF : 3 1/4 cups/ ( I use unbleached and unbromated one)
  • Canola/Vegetable/Sunflower oil : 1/2 cup
  • Sugar : 1 cup ( 1/2 white + 1/2 brown or all white granulated)
  • Large Eggs : 3 ( at room temperature)
  • Baking powder : 1 Tablespoon
  • Lemon extract : 1 Tablespoon
  • Grated zest of lemon : 2 tsp.
  • Chopped raw pistachios : 1/3 cup ( chopped roughly)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. This recipe absolutely needs parchment/ baking paper. Greasing the sheets with oil or dusting with flour might not really produce the same kind of success.
  3. In a separate bowl mix 3 and 1/4 cups of flour and baking powder and whisk well to ensure they are mixed. While measuring out the flour, just scoop and level the flour. DO NOT make it a packed cup.
  4. In  the bowl of your stand mixer or the large mixing bowl you are going to use, break open  3 eggs and beat together with oil and sugar and lemon extract and lemon zest. Just a couple of minutes will do. You are aiming for a homogeneous mix of all.
  5. Add the flour to this egg- oil -sugar and flavor mix in stages until all incorporated. The dough will be heavy and sticky. DO NOT add any more flour than what is called  for.
  6. Scoop out the dough onto the 2 prepared  cookie sheets by dividing it as equally as possible.
  7. Flour your hands well. Yep I prefer flouring my hands rather than flouring the sheet or the dough. Just dip your hands or dust it well with the flour. Now pat each dough to about 1/2 inch thickness and the length of your cookie sheet. I kept the width of the dough to about 9 inches ( ala the starbucks kind) so it did not extend all the way to the end. But if you keep the width to about 4 – 5 inches then you can form a neat rectangle that extends to the length of the cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes. DO NOT wait too long then the cookie log will harden to a point beyond usability. Using a pizza cutter or a very sharp serrated knife, make 1/2 inches to 1 inch slices thickness.
  10.  Place the slices cut side up back onto the baking sheet. Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes on one side.
  11. Then flip it and back for another 3 minutes or so on the other side. Please do keep an eye out. You want these toasted golden brown and not burn to crisp.
  12. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
  13. Once cooled very well, melt some dipping dark chocolate and drizzle to create a lovely pattern.
  14. Let the drizzle set and enjoy the fresh baked biscotti with a cup of espresso, latte or like in my case a good cup of tea!

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti With dark chocolate drizzle

Samai Idli – Steamed, Little Millet Cakes

Millets the natural food from the arid areas of southern India found their way into my cuisine over a period of time. This particular one has been used and tried and tested many times. If you are looking for a great way to substitute the rice out of your routine , little millets or Samai or Vrat ka chawal is a great alternative. With a lower  GI than rice, this is a welcome indulgence on breakfast mornings..

Soft fluffy Idlis served with piping hot mixed vegetable sambar ( recipe will be updated for this later )  , coconut mint chutney  and Idli chili  powder ( also known as Molagai podi or chutney powder). True weekend indulgence without alarming calories .

Samai Idli - Steamed, Little Millet Cakes

Ingredients:

  • Samai arisi / little millet / Kutki  : 2 Cups
  • Urad dal / whole or split without skin : 1/2 cup
  • Red poha : 1/4 cup
  • Methi seeds : 1 tsp
  • Toor dal : 1 tsp.
  • Salt : 1.5 tsp + as required
  • Water as required to grind

Pre-Prep:

  • Soaking the millets and pre prep : Soak for 6 hrs – overnight:
  • Wash the millets very well and soak in copius amount of water. Enough for it to be absorbed.
  • Wash the urad dal as well and  soak along with fenugreek or methi seeds and toor dal.
  • Soak the Poha about 20 minutes before you grind the batter. Infact you can soak it just as you start grinding the urad dal.

 Grinding the batter & fermentation: 1 hr + fermentation time

  • Grind the urad dal  and methi seeds and toordal  in your mixer grinder or wet grinder until pale and fluffy. Add water in small quantities while you grind.
  • Scoop out the fluffy dal mix in a wide and deep mixing bowl.
  • Next add the soaked poha and samai millet and grind to a fine grain mix. There is no need to to grind it to a super fine paste. A little grainy structure would yield a preferable texture for the Idlis. So add water as and  when required while grinding.
  • Mix this along with the urad dal batter and add salt . Ensure salt is homogeneously mixed.
  • The consistency of batter is neither too thick or watery.
  • Cover and keep in a warm place .
  • Fermented batter will swell in volume so make sure your mixing bowl can handle the volume.
  • Hot humid weather will  speed up the fermentation process. So it might take anywhere from 7 hrs to overnight for your batter to reach the desired stage of fermentation.

Steaming the Idlis:

  • Grease Idli moulds and keep aside.
  • Using the steamer/ cooker of your choice add the water and heat it well.
  • Stir the batter well scoop ladlefuls on to the prepped idli moulds.
  • Steam for about 7-10 minutes.
  • Turn of the flame, rest it for a minute or two. You should be able to demould it now.

Serve hot accompanied with chutney, sambar and chutney/ Molagai podi.

Notes:

  • This batter makes awesome dosas well. I tried it out and it was really good.
  • Makes about 32-40 Idlis depending on the size of the idli mould. 
  • Fermentation of the batter is essential to maximize the nutritional value of the millet.

Coconut Mint Chutney

An eternal favorite at home this simple chutney made of fresh or frozen grated coconut , roasted channa dal or dalia and flavored with fresh mint is a notch above the usual. The entire assembly is done in minutes literally and you will have one of the best tasting accompaniments ever for dosa or idlis.. Well aware of moderation being the key, this coconut  chutney is perfect when you do not over indulge.

Fresh ingredients bring to the table the flavor that is best described lip smacking !

Grated coconut  ground with fresh mint, chili and ginger and seasoned with crackled mustard seeds and split urad dal.. Now how can you resist it?

Coconut Mint Chutney

Ingredients:

For chutney:

  • Fresh or frozen grated coconut : 1/3 cup
  • Roasted Channa dal or Dalia : 1/4 cup
  • Fresh green chilies – 4-5 ( please adjust according to spice level)
  • Ginger : skinned, 1 inch piece
  • Fresh mint leaves : 10-12
  • Salt : 1 tsp.+ adjusted to taste
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of water

Seasoning :

  • Oil : 1 tsp.
  • Mustard seeds : 1/2 tsp.
  • Split white Urad Dal : /2 tsp.
  • Asafoetida : a generous pinch
  • Curry leaves : 4-6 , torn in halves ( I was out of these)

Method:

  • If using frozen coconut , do bring it to room temp before grinding. Alternatively nuke it in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds.
  • Initially coarse blends the ingredients listed under chutney without adding water. Then add the required amount of water to smoothen out the consistency and to bring it to required thickness.Smooth grinding is essential otherwise flavor is lost.
  • To season it, heat a tsp. of oil in a skillet or fry pan and add the mustard seeds and hing. The seeds will crackle and you can subsequently add the  split urad dal and curry leaves. Allow the dal to brown a bit and scoop everything out and add to the chutney.
  • That’s it . Ready to serve with piping hot idlis or dosa.

You might want to try it with these as well.

Coconut Mint Chutney

Varaitions:

  • You can substitute coriander leaves or cilantro for mint. It would give you a different dimension.
  • Squeezing half a lime will impart tanginess and would be awesome as well.