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.

Upma Kozhukattai/Pidi Kozhukattai

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 .

Upma Kozhukattai/Pidi Kozhukattai

 

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 )             

Ingredients :

Base Ingredients:

  • Idli rava or Rice Rava – 2 cup
  • Fresh or frozen grated coconut  – 1/2 cup
  • Water – 5 cup
  • Salt  : 1.5 tsp. ( adjusted to taste)

Tempering/ Tadka :

  • Flavorless oil / coconut oil / Gingelly oil : 2.5 Tbsp.
  • Jeera : 1.25 tsp.
  • Mustard Seeds :1.25 tsp.
  • Channa dal : 1.5  Tbsp.
  • Split urad dal ( de husked ) : 1 Tbsp.
  • Hing/ Asafoetida : a huge/ generous pinch
  • Red chilies : 4 -5, split in 2 pieces each
  • Black whole pepper : 6-8. slightly crushed
  • Ginger : skinned, 1 inch , grated.
  • Curry Leaves  – 12

Method:

  • 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.

Upma Kozhukattai/Pidi Kozhukattai

Notes :

  • 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.

 

Kothamalli Thogayal/ Coriander leaves Chutney

Don’t you just love greens??…We love it here too. Love green chutneys and sandwich spreads.. but this one is special.. It indulges your senses with the tanginess of tamarind and the freshness of the coriander leaves sautéed, oh but just for a minute.

Kothamalli Thogayal/ Coriander leaves Chutney

Thickened by browned urad dal and black pepper it is a culinary sensation when you let your self indulge in it when mixed with hot steaming rice and ghee ( if you are really really brave) or with gingelly oil . Goes great as well with puffed up phulkas and Molagaootal. C’mon now the last one cannot surprise you.. for anyone with a remote connection to Palakkad will understand one’s love for it. In my household the love for Molagootal can sometimes rival familial bonds of affection 🙂

 

Kothamalli Thogayal/ Coriander leaves Chutney

A quick and easy prep and takes about 15 – 20 minutes;

Prep time : 5-8 minutes  Cook  time : 5-7 minutes   Serves – 6-8

Ingredients:

  • Split , Skinned Urad Dal : 1/2 cup
  • Tamarind piece : 1 inch ( alternate : use 1 tsp. of tamarind paste)
  • Red chilies : 4 ( adjust to spice level)
  • Black peppercorns : 1 tsp.
  • Salt  : 1 tsp.
  • Oil of choice : 1.5 – 2 tsp.
  • Water : 1 tbsp. to aid in grinding
  • Coriander leaves : 1.5 – 2 cups , chopped roughly

Method:

  1. Warm a non stick or cast iron skillet or kadhai and add the oil in it.
  2. Add the red chilies and urad dal and black pepper corns and roast it until the dal attains a  golden brown color and the black pepper corns start to sputter. Add the tamarind piece if using and sauté for another min or so.
  3. Drain and set aside to cool.
  4. Turn of the flame and in the remnants of the oil with sustained heat, add the chopped fresh coriander leaves and sauté for a min or two. The idea is to take the raw edge of the coriander leaves but retain the natural color and freshness  of it.
  5. Remove and set aside to cool.
  6. Once sufficiently cooled, in an efficient blender grind the sautéed dal and spices first. You will get a coarse powder . Add the salt and the slightly wilted coriander leaves next and grind it with the aid of a tablespoon or so of water.
  7. Note : if you are using tamarind paste, you will add it along with the leaves to be ground.
  8. The consistency of this chutney or relish  is not very smooth or find ground. It is not meant to be. The coarseness of it will lend a very earthy and rustic flavor.
  9. There is not need to add any extra seasoning to this. But if it becomes too spicy to handle then definitely season it with mustard seeds spluttered in a tsp. of hot oil . It will bring down the spice level a couple of notches.

Enjoy!!!

Bitter gourd/ Karela/ Pavakkai Crispy Skillet fry – Spiced just right & healthy!

Bitter gourd. The name usually sends shivers down the spine of many . Nope not the scary kind but the Yikes! So bitter kind that I do not want to attempt it at home kind !

 Sources quote that ” Momordica charantia” known as bitter melonbitter gourdbitter squash or balsam-pear in English, has number of uses that are thought to be beneficial treatment of diabetes, fever and infections. Widely grown in the Indian sub continent, it is believed to have made it way to China from there. But we love it here at home here. I know 🙂 Cooked the right way it is delectable one, I say . Back in the golden days of my youth it was a staple part of the diet for us when we grew up. I make it a gazillion ways , but this particular one is popular as well as it could be simply rolled up in the flat bread of your choice.

Bitter gourd/ Karela/ Pavakkai Crispy Skillet fry - Spiced just right & healthy!

There are a couple of ways to reduce the bitterness if one would like to do so. Scraping the skin helps as well as salting the cut slices and removing the water extruded . I have chosen to retain the natural flavor  and the bitterness as I also believe it retains the maximum health benefits that way.

Bitter gourd/ Karela/ Pavakkai Crispy Skillet fry - Spiced just right & healthy!

Near crispy slices of bitter gourd skillet cooked to retain its natural flavor with a mélange of dry spices and mix. The result  is truly delectable. A perfect accompaniment for soft rotis and mild dal fry and steaming bowl of rice.

Bitter gourd/ Karela/ Pavakkai Crispy Skillet fry - Spiced just right & healthy!

Prep time : 10 minutes   Cooking time : 20 min    Serves : 4-6

Ingredients:

  • Bittergourd or Bitter melon : 5-6
  • Turmeric Powder / Haldi : 1 tsp.
  • Amchur or Dried Mango Powder : 1-1.5 tsp.
  • Jeera/ Cumin powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Dhania/ Coriander seeds powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Garam Masala : 1.5 tsp.
  • Red chili powder : 1- 1.5 tsp. – Depends n your spice level
  • Besan / Chickpea flour : 1 Tbsp.
  • Powdered Jaggery/ Brown sugar: 1 tsp. ( optional)
  • Mustard seeds : 1/2 tsp.
  • Split Urad Dal : 1 tsp.
  • Hing / Asafoetida: A generous pinch
  • Curry leaves : 5-6 . Washed well, patted dry and in pieces.
  • Oil of your choice : 1 Tbsp.
  • Salt : 1 tsp. + extra if needed.
  • Fresh Chopped Cilantro for garnish.

Method:

Preparing the Karela/ Pavakkai/Melon:

  1. Wash the vegetable very well and pat dry to remove the moisture from the skin. Trim the ends.
  2. Slice down the center and remove the spongy seed center mass.
  3. Slice each half further into thin strips or you can choose to retain the crescent shape .
  4. Thinly slice the strips to yield half-inch pieces.
  5. Keep aside to be cooked next.

Cooking:

  1. In a big flat skillet ( preferably well seasoned cast iron or non stick ) add the tablespoon of oil and let it heat up. You do not want this smoking so it should only take a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the Asafoetida, it should sizzle and then add the mustard seeds. These will splutter. Add the Split Urad dal next and let it brown for a minute or so.
  3. Add the haldi or turmeric powder next.
  4. Now add the bitter gourd pieces and toss it so the oil is coated evenly. Let it cook for about 6-8 min. You should see them browning about .
  5. Add in the salt now and cook for another 2-3 minutes. You will see hints of moisture and possibly some more because salt will cause to extrude water from the vegetable.
  6. Add the amchur powder, garam masala, dhania powder, jeera powder and chili powder. Toss the vegetables so they coat it evenly and cook for another 5 minutes or so. At this stage if you check the vegetable, a piece would nearly split in half as it should be cooked to near doneness.
  7. Add the sugar if using at this stage and toss it one more time.
  8. Finally sprinkle the besan over the vegetable and cook for another 4 -5 minutes.
  9. The final stage will ensure you do not taste the raw nature of chickpea flour.
  10. Taste for spices and salt and then finally garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice, rotis and dal.

Bitter gourd/ Karela/ Pavakkai Crispy Skillet fry - Spiced just right & healthy!

Notes:

If the bitterness of the melon makes it an unpalatable and unpopular choice in your household perhaps  you can adopt one of the 2 methods cooking it so you can definitely introduce it in your weekly cuisine.

  • Scraping the skin and removing the seeds from the center definitely reduces bitterness quotient for sure. 
  • The other method popularly used is to salt the raw cut pieces of karela and set aside for about 15 minutes or so. This  will cause the water to extrude out and you can squeeze out the pieces party dry and use for cooking. 

Substitutions:

  • No Amchur powder?  : Alternatively a tsp. of tamarind paste dissolved in a about a Tbsp.of water can be used.
  • No Garam Masala? :  Try using Sambar powder instead.

 

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 !

Kadai Paneer – Indian cottage cheese in tangy, spicy tomato gravy

My oldest tyke turned 15. A year shy of the quintessential mark of a rebel.. But hey I don’t think a particular year turns the page.

I sometimes think this boy was born as an old soul in a young body. Sigh !

Or maybe just maybe the single liners or the dry remarks are just a genetic influence that has been passed on … Ahem Ahem !

 But this child still has the glint in his eyes when looks forward to certain favorites. This being one of those on his list.. Happy Birthday A1 and may you be blessed with the best of health and happiness always ..

An awesome spicy and tangy gravy of Paneer and bell peppers and onions served with flat bread  ( rotis or Naans) or fried puffed breads ( Pooris) and piping hot Jeera rice.

Kadai Paneer - Indian cottage cheese in tangy, spicy tomato gravy

Cooking time : 30-40 min  Serves : 6

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz paneer : Cut in 1.5 inches lengthwise
  • Bell peppers  ( green , colored mix) : 3-4 cut in thick strips
  • Red onion : 1 big, cut in big fat strips
  • Ginger garlic paste : 1 tsp.
  • Roma tomatoes : 8-9 , pureed
  • Cumin (Jeera seeds) : 1 tsp.
  • Garam Masala : 1 tsp.
  • Kasuri methi leaves (dry) : 1 tsp, crushed
  • Melted butter : 3 Tbsp.
  • 2 to 3 tbsp oil or ghee or butter
  • Fresh Coriander leaves : chopped fine , 1/4 cup
  • Salt : 1 tsp + to taste

 Kadai masala: Dry roast, cool and fine grind

  • Coriander seeds : 1/4 cup
  • Dry red Kashmiri chilies ( low – medium heat) : 6

Optional :

  • Kashmiri chili powder : 1 tsp.

Method:

  • In a big wok or Kadai and add 3 Tbsp. of butter or ghee ( clarified butter ) if using and heat it.
  • Add in the Cumin seeds and let it sputter.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste , fry it for a minute or two.
  • Now add in the cut onions and sauté till translucent.
  • Add the Garam masala, fine ground Kadai masala and Kashmiri chili powder ( if using) and stir for a min or two. Essentially cooking the masala combination.
  • Now add in the pureed tomatoes , stir well , cover and let it boil for about 7-10 min. By now the gravy will acquire  deep red hue from the combination of Kashmiri chilies and the chili powder if using and the tomato puree. That is the color you would typically look out for.
  • The butter would separate and you would see it glistening on the sides, plus there would be a reduction in the gravy volume as well.
  • Add in 1 tsp. or so of salt and about half a cup of water only if you think the gravy is too thick.
  • Add in the chopped bell peppers  and simmer in this for another 5 minutes or so.
  • Add in the crushed Kasuri Methi leaves and the Paneer strips and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.

 Notes :

  • Adding the red Kashmiri Chili powder is not necessary but it gives the beautiful hue to the gravy.
  • Don’t feel like making the Kadhai masala fresh?  Go ahead and  substitute with just Kashmiri Chili powder  and 3 -4 tsp of dry dhania powder and adjust the masala to taste. It should be close enough, but if you could take an extra 5 to make the masala fresh.
  • The bell peppers need to retain the part crunch , hence they are added a bit later in the prep.
  • This recipe uses a lot of tomatoes. Don’t have any on hand? Just substitute with canned as per the directions on it.

Kadai Paneer - Indian cottage cheese in tangy, spicy tomato gravy

 This was a part of the lovely birthday dinner served along with pooris , Peas and Carrot simple Pulav , Mixed  Masala Dal and Baingan Bartha.

Enjoy!

And dessert of course was the super delish Guava Ice cream!

Cinnamon and Chai Spice (masala) Eggless Mini Muffins

Most people tend to procrastinate. I tend to procrastibake ! Sheez, I had  a  pile of things to take care of and the weather gods finally smile on us to make way for a ray of sunshine. My list for spring cleaning was just getting into the groove when I realized, I tend to make too many lists ( I need a checklist for lists..) and felt I could use a Mary Poppins gene – maybe it’s hidden somewhere . I just know it is there, I need to find it .. That’s all, seek and you shall find!

 Well so begins the pantry cleaning which ends up in these moist bite perfect mini muffins. Don’t ask me for the connection, it just happened! These are absolutely delicious. Made in about 15 minutes – start to finish!  These mini sized super moist muffins are so so good,  I am  not kidding. These are perfect for the after school snack. Get  your kids a couple of these paired with fruits and milk and there you go, all is well now right? Cinnamon, Vanilla and chai spice – oh what more do you need – Maybe just a bit of cinnamon sugar sprinkle on the top. Life is perfect with a book, a steaming cuppa and a couple of these!

Spotlight!
Spotlight!

Recipe adapted from here.

 Prep time : 8-10 min   Baking time : 6-9 min   Yield : 36-42 mini muffins

Ingredients:

  • Self rising flour : 2 cups
  • Sugar ( brown or white) : 2/3 of a cup
  • Melted butter : 1/3 cup
  • Room temperature milk : 1 cup
  • Baking soda : 1/2 tsp.
  • Cinnamon ground : 1 tsp.
  • Chai Masala  : 1 – 1.5  tsp.
  • Pure vanilla extract : 1/2 tsp.

 For the topping:

  • Fine sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Cinnamon ground : 3/4 tsp.
  • Melted butter : 3 Tbsp.

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 deg F and spray a 36 mini muffin pan and keep aside.
  • In a mixing bowl add in the self rising flour, baking soda , chai spice mix, cinnamon powder and whisk it well.
  • Add in the melted butter and milk and stir it in well.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and stir it well too.
  • Scoop out about a tbsp. or so of the muffin batter and add it to the pans . Do not over fill . About half the well or so to be filled.
  • Bake it for about 6-8 minutes and do the skewer test so you know it’s completely baked.( the edges would turn a tad bit brown)
  • Remove from the oven and cool for about 5 min or so.

Topping:

  • In a bowl, whisk the fine sugar and cinnamon and keep aside.
  • Using a pastry brush , brush the tops of the muffins with melted butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the top. Alternatively, remove each muffin and gently dip in the melted butter and dip into the sugar cinnamon mix to coat the tops.
  • Want the entire muffin sugar sweet? just roll the whole muffins in the sugar mix to coat it well.

Cinnamon and Chai Spice (masala) Eggless Mini Muffins

Notes:

Chai Masala: ( you can use your spice mix or you can use this basic one too)

  • Black peppercorns : 1 Tbsp.
  • Whole green cardamom : 12 – 14 pods
  • Cinnamon bark : 2 inches
  • Dried ginger powder : 1 Tbsp.
  • Black cloves : 3- 4

Warm the spices  for a minute or two on a skillet . Cool and dry grind it in a spice grinder.

 Variation :

This would work will with thandai masala or as cinnamon banana mini muffins too or as in choco cinnamon mini muffins.

 

 

Chocolate Nut and Berry Clusters

Cleaning up the pantry sometimes yields surprise finds. So take this for instance.. I had a couple of bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Honestly when I did find these , my thought was to fall back into baking a nice banana chocolate bread. But then again, surprise…surprise .. You  really cannot do the banana bread without bananas.. Ahem! Okay so off they went on the counter while I foraged more. The search yielded cashews, almonds, walnuts and then some dried berries. You see where I am going with this right? Aha.. Not really a tough one is it? Out of the finds of the pantry, I give thee .. Absolutely amazing choco berry nut clusters! Ta-Da!

Measured out choco chips
Measured out choco chips

Decadent melt in the mouth, chocolate nut and berry clusters! All you need is a microwave safe bowl and this is ready in  minutes. 3-4 minutes to melt the chocolate and a few to chop the nuts if desired. Takes about an hour or two for the clusters to set at the room temperature. Now that I think about this , I feel this is a throwback to the Cadbury’s dairy milk fruit and nut – a luxurious treat of the yonder years when I grew up in India. And also incidentally the only kind DH would indulge in. I on the other hand love dark chocolates. I would to love to make this in the dark chocolate combination. But that again is the beauty and versatility of this particular nibble. Your mind is the only recipe book you need to refer to..

You really cannot go wrong with this of course!

Nuts and Berries of your choice
Nuts and Berries of your choice

INGREDIENTS

  1. 2 cups of semi sweet white and dark choco chips mixed.
  2. 2 cups of raw almonds, walnuts, cashews and dried cranberries and blueberries. Measure and chop roughly if desired or you can make it with whole nuts too.
  3. A pinch of salt to bring out the chocolate. Sea salt is better of course. 

METHOD

  1. Take a couple of cookie sheets or baking trays and line it with parchment paper or baking sheet.
  2. In a pyrex glass bowl or any microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips and melt it in high for 3 minutes in 1 minute intervals. Stir it in after each 1 minute interval. The end result is a creamy smooth mass of melted chocolate.
  3. Add the chopped nuts and dried berries to the melted chocolate and stir it in. Add the pinch of salt and stir it in. Give it one more stir to ensure there is as much even distribution of the nut berry mix with melted chocolate.
  4. Using a tablespoon, measure out scoops of these on the parchment paper lined trays.
  5. Cool these completely before storing them ( about 1-2 hrs. depending on the room temperature). Need it in a rush? Stick these in the freezer or chiller tray of your fridge.
  6. Serve these with decadent mounds of vanilla ice cream or just eat them plain.
  7. Best stored in the refrigerator.
Pick me!
Pick me!

Quick Toss Pasta and Garlic Bread

There’s only so much a girl can do on a winter day! If it is not the winter blues then it is the winter blues imagined! Cold, dreary, icy wind across the country and I one of the luckier citizens should not rightfully complain.. NC is still a wee bit in the south and we experience the lower double digits mostly at night. We never have to go through it during the day! Brr….If only I could hibernate.. I would gladly do so. So today was one of the days, I spotted gray in the clouds and a bit in my mane. Sigh! Vanity takes a severe blow and suddenly certain things become more lucid…Grey or no Grey, dinner time remains!

Ravaging into the pantry yielded many things, but I gleefully pounced on my container of Pasta ( whole grain one ). It also yielded a french load bread …A quick makeover with a dash of fresh herbed garlic butter and I would be set to go.

Quick toss pasta and Garlic bread

This is a minor variation from the earlier post– the spiced pasta one.

Ingredients :

  • Cooked Pasta : 3 cups ( cooked al dente)
  • Sliced sweet peppers : 2 cups
  • Onion , thin sliced : 1
  • Vine Ripe tomatoes : thin sliced : 2
  • Crushed Garlic : 2 -3 cloves
  • Red pepper flakes : 1 tsp ( optional)
  • Italian herbs mix – dried kind : 1-2 tsp
  • Dried parsley : 1 tsp.
  • Garam Masala : 1 -2 tsp
  • Curry powder : 1 tsp.
  • Oil of your choice : 3-4 tsp.
  • lemon juice : 1 -2 tsp.
  • salt : per taste

Procedure:

  • Cook the Pasta of your choice in a pot of boiling water and as per the instructions.
  • In a wide skillet, add in the oil of your choice and heat it up and toss in the crushed garlic, dried herbs, red chili flakes .
  • Add in the slivered onions, cook them and then toss in the bell peppers and tomatoes.
  • Toss them in gently, and salt this mix so you have crisp but tender veggies .
  • Add in all the seasoning and masala mixes you are using. Give it a thorough stir.
  • Now add in the pasta and toss it with veggies. 
  • In about 5 minutes or so, you should have nice and awesome mix of pasta and veggies.Perfectly seasoned!
  • Pile it on a plate, add a dash of lemon juice  and eat with a side of garlic bread !
Quick toss pasta with bread
Quick toss pasta with bread

Garlic Bread:

  • French bread : 1 loaf
  • 4 Tbsp of butter
  • Minced garlic : 4 -6 cloves
  • Dried herb mix : 2 tsp.
  • Dried black pepper powder : A huge pinch

Procedure:

  • Mix room temp or softened butter with minced garlic, herbs and a dash of black pepper.
  • Slather it on the slit french loaf of your choice, cut in thick wedges , bake/ toast in a toaster oven for about 4-6 minutes at 375 deg F or until slightly brown but crisp.

Dig in!

 

Quick toss pasta with bread
Quick toss pasta with bread

Ricotta Cheese stuffed Parathas – Whole wheat flatbreads stuffed with cheese , potatoes and spices!

I had a whole tub of Ricotta cheese sitting in the Fridge. This is not one measly tub , mind you! One whole big tub of this equals to nearly 3 cups of cheese… Sigh ! Costco shopping can be quite dangerous to me. And to the Fridge ! And to the waistline.. I mean there is only so much kalakkand and caramel cheese fudge I can make..

So there I was staring at the fridge and literally looking at the tub of Ricotta cheese and thinking – I did not buy that ! But you do what you have to do. And dinner was calling in a couple of hours . And necessity is the mother of invention ! With a little help because of the near bare contents of the fridge and little chemistry and more of if-you-are-hungry-you-can-eat-anything-, this one was made.

In any case , this one thing I created on the whim became a huge – I mean it guys… HUGE, HUMONGOUS hit at home !

Ricotta cheese is a bit like the modeling clay you can get in your hands. A blank slate to create what strikes your fancy. This time the tub of cheese became wonderful stuffed Parathas.

This one was awesome and the recipe is a sure shot keeper…

Prep time : 30-45 min   Dough resting time: 1 hr       Cooking time : 45 min      Serves :6- 8

Ingredients:

For the Stuffing:

  • Ricotta cheese : 3 cups cheese,
  • Boiled Potato : 2-3
  • Grated ginger : 1 tsp
  • Turmeric : 1 tsp
  • Salt : 1-1.5 tsp
  • Green Chillies or Chilli powder : Added to taste and spice level
  • Coriander – Jeera powder : 1.5 tsp
  • Garam masala (Optional) : 1.5 tsp.
  • Kasuri Methi : 1 tsp. Crushed well.

For the Dough:

  • Whole wheat flour: 3.5 cups
  • Ajwain : 1 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder / Haldi : 1/2 tsp
  • Kashmiri Chilli pwder : 1/2 tsp
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp.
  • Oil : 1-2 Tsp.
  • Very warm water : 1.5 cup + as required

Prep work :

For the stuffing:

  • The ricotta cheese I used, was very very moist and there fore I emptied it out on a wide Corelle bowl, whisked it well and microwaved it for about 7 min initially. The idea is to get rid of the moisture in it, if not we will have a soggy mess on our hands. Since the quantity was nearly 3 cups to begin with, it took me an additional 7 min in intervals to achieve the granular structure of cheese. Now remember , you don’t want it turn brown at all. So keep an eye on it and cook it in stages. Soon you will have very soft and granular cheese. Objective achieved!
  • Boil or pressure cook the potato.
  • Mash them all together with the spices and make 16-18 round big lemon sized balls/globes out of these. 

For the Dough:

  • Knead the flour to get a nice soft pliable dough. Oil the surface of the dough and rest it for atleast an hour.
  • Make about 16-18 sized big globes out of these and keep them covered.
Ricotta Cheese stuffed Parathas - Whole wheat flatbreads stuffed with cheese , potatoes and spices!
Ricotta Cheese stuffed Parathas – Whole wheat flatbreads stuffed with cheese , potatoes and spices!

 

Making the stuffed Parathas:

  • Roll out the dough globe ( by dipping it into the flour if required . Usually dusting the surface of the workspace does the trick ) to a about 5 inches in size or so.
  • Place the smaller globe of stuffing mix in it and cover it . The idea is to tent it beautifully and seams need to be overlapping .
  • Roll it out gently to get a nice big sized disc of about 10-12 inches of size.
  • Heat a flat griddle, and shallow fry it with a tsp of oil on both sides.
  • Serve the sizzling hot brown flat bread stuffed with yummy goodness of cheese, potatoes and spices with a dollop of butter, a side of yoghurt and some delish mixed veg pickle.
  • Pack on the yummy power!
Ricotta Cheese stuffed Parathas - Whole wheat flatbreads stuffed with cheese , potatoes and spices!
Ricotta Cheese stuffed Parathas – Whole wheat flatbreads stuffed with cheese , potatoes and spices!