Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai

This is going to be a super quick post from me. It’s been a  long day and I sure hope to wind down soon. The last week’s trip to the grocery store made sure I  got a good pound + or so of these fresh Ivy gourds. They were tender and heaped out in mounds in the produce aisle. Naturally they had to make their way home. We love these cute little veggies at home and my daughter calls these mini cucumbers Doppelganger, but of course you could not eat them raw. We do cook a lot of these at home and they make delicious stir fry as well a part of mixed veggie masala rice.  I have  another recipe up on the  blog  with cashewnuts and black channa. That was awesome as well. You should definitely try it . This time though I  did want to try something a tad different with these. The best part about these veggies are they are pretty much a blank slate waiting to be gourmet-fied :-)..  This is super good as an accompaniment with a light dal tadka and phulkas. Oh my !

Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai - Dry spices mix
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai – Dry spices mix

The prep would definitely consume a bit more of your time , but since it uses dry spices , this is an awesome make ahead dish as well.  And also the end justifies the tiny bit of labor you would have to do..

Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai - split into quarter
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai – split into quarters
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai - filling it with spices
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai – filling it with spices

 

Delicious and absolutely tender cooked ivy gourd stuffed with dry spices and cooked in minimal oil in a covered skillet. Easy, vegan and absolutely lip smacking!!

 

Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai - ready to be cooked
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai – ready to be cooked

Prep time : 30 – 40 min  Cook time : 15 – 20 min  Serves : 4

Ingredients:

Vegetable:

  • Tender Ivy gourd/ Tondli/ Kovakkai : 1 Lb. approximately

Dry spices:

  • Cumin seeds : 1 tsp.

Dry spice powders:

  • Amchur powder / Dry mango powder : 1  tsp.
  • Red Chili powder : 1 tsp.
  • Dhania  powder  : 1 tsp.
  • Garam masala : 1.5 tsp.
  • Sambar powder : 1 tsp. ( optional )
  • Haldi / Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt : 1 tsp + more if required

Water:

  • 2 Tbsp. required for cooking

Oil :

  • Oil of your choice : 1.5 – 2 Tbsp.

Garnish :

  • Finely chopped cilantro

Method:

  1. In a bowl add all the ingredients listed in the dry spice powders mix and mix it thoroughly so the salt and spices are evenly distributed.
  2. Wash the vegetables very well, trim the ends and discard any ripe ones if you discover ( they are usually red on the inside).
  3. Slit the gourd/ tondli/ kovakkai vertically into 4 ( like an open flower) without slitting it all the way through. The idea is to create a pocket to retain the spices.
  4. Now stuff the dry spice mix in all of these. This does require you to employ a bit of patience.
  5. Once done , heat a flat bottom cast iron or non stick skillet with a bit of  depth on its side.  Add the oil and the cumin seeds which will sputter on contact with the hot oil.
  6. Slide the stuffed vegetables gently and arrange so they are in a single layer.
  7. If you have left over of the dry spice masala filling you can either store it to be used later or sprinkle all over these .
  8. Add a couple of tablespoons of water by sprinkling all over it and cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  9. Once they are nearly done, remove the cover and let it roast uncovered in the pan. Gently flip the vegetables over to ensure even cooking.
  10. Remove when completely cooked  and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.
  11. Serve hot as an accompaniment with soft rotis, dal and steaming hot rice.
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai - Garnish with cilantro and serve
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai – Garnish with cilantro and serve

Spiced Herbed Bread – Whole wheat with fresh herbs and spices!

I think I just might have the “pracrastibaking”  affliction seriously. You know the kind, when you have to do a ton of work but actually end up miraculously baking .. Yep that very kind. I had a laundry list of things to do, along with the laundry. A1 was back from his trip, DH back from his . A2 had a ton of things that had to get sorted and washed and somehow ended up debating the merits of washing in cold water and electricity with me. Yes, I know we are like that. A3 could not find his one sock. Nope, we did put both for washing but somehow ended up having only one.Yikes ! We have a sock eating monster in the house. And it eats only one from each pair. Why not both? Beats me! I often thought I had only real live monsters that gobble up the food I put on the table. Actually 3 very much discerning ones ( Bitter gourd gets a bit of persuasion from me to eat)  and one with a tail that can eat anything. Plastic, paper, cloth and her food. I suppose puppy phase and all!

Spiced Fresh Herbs Whole Wheat Bread 

So while waiting for the  A/C repair man to show up and the stuff to finish up in the laundry, I was doodling around when some thing struck me. We had no bread in the house.Disaster.

Since, I was pretty much stuck at home and waiting for things to happen, ended up having a mental dialogue with my kitchen aid.. The shiny green thing seemed to speak to me. Either that or I was having caffeine withdrawal !

Dough ready to be baked !
Dough ready to be baked !

 Well whatever , but the urgent need for bread in the house cannot be dispensed with, especially since I having a talk with the Kitchen Aid!

Isn't that a pretty loaf?
Isn’t that a pretty loaf?

 This is such a simple and basic recipe.. You can dress it up, pair it up with cheese , stuff it with potatoes , make a cream cheese swirl or so much more..

Ingredients:

Basic Bread Ingredients:

  • White whole wheat flour : 2 cups
  • Bread flour / All purpose flour : 1 + 0.5 cup added as needed
  • Milk 1% or 2 % : 1 cup
  • Butter / olive oil : 1/3 cup
  • Brown Sugar : 1.5 Tbsp.
  • Salt : 1 tsp.
  • Instant Yeast : 1 packet /2.25 tsp.
  • Fresh lime/lemon juice : 1 Tbsp.

Herbs and Spices:

  • Fresh chopped cilantro : 1/4 cup
  • Fresh chopped Mint : 1/4 cup
  • Cumin seeds : 1 tsp.
  • Ajwain/ Carrom seeds : 1 tsp.
  • Red chili flakes : 1/2 tsp.

 Method:

  • In the  mixing bowl of your stand mixer or any mixing bowl,  add the flours , sugar, yeast, salt and dry spices and whisk it very well until it is thoroughly distributed.
  • Add the fresh herbs as well now and whisk it in .
  • Add the chopped butter if using to the cup of milk and microwave till it is very warm. Usually a minute or so. The milk is very very warm but not boiling hot.
  • Add the juice of fresh lime usually one half of it or about a tbsp. of it. And let it stand for a minute or two. Do not worry when the milk protein separates.
  • Add the milk and knead it very well till the dough is smooth.
  • Let it rise undisturbed for an hour until it doubles.
  • Once it doubles in volume, take the dough out gently deflate it and roll it to form a log.
  • Pinch the seams and place it seam side down in a greased 9 by 5 loaf pan.
  • Cover and let it rise for another 20 minutes or so.
  • Slash the top of the bread with  a very sharp knife or a pair of scissors. About an inch deep and 2 inches in length. This accomplishes 2 things – aesthetic is one and the other is these gashes will let the steam out while bread is being baked. It will prevent the loaf from splitting on the sides
  • Pre heat the oven to 375 deg F.
  • Bake for about 35 -39 minutes. The bread should sound hollow when tapped.
  • Cool before slicing. You should have an awesome crust and a tender crumb.
  • Toast or simply eat it warmed with a dollop of butter.
sliced and diced !
sliced and diced !

Quick Herb Sandwich Bread – One hour bread!

When the going get’s tough, the tough get going!

When we run out of bread at 6 Am, we bake to have a fresh loaf by 7.30 AM … So espoused the sleep deprived brain of mine!

 Now most people do not claim to be sane at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, but hey I never claimed that part of my brain – you know the part when the saner actions originate from, that part was particularly alive and kicking generally.  My four legged addition to the family, a particularly feisty puppy of 5 months old decided 5.40 AM WAS THE PERFECT TIME TO CATCH UP ON THE BARKING OF AN ENTIRE DAY! YIPPE, YIPPE , YAY YAY! Let’s wake up the entire neighborhood ! Now before sleeping tykes get rudely roused ( though I have told them to just put a pillow on their heads and get back to sleep, training the puppy at work and all ) I was up in any case at 5.30 ( blame the body clock!), so keeping me company when I embarked on this madcap adventure  of a bit of this and bit of that , yielding in a successful kitchen experiment was M, my furry companion!  I so totally envy her, after all the rabble rousing bark and her business attended to, she was happily curled up near the vent of the heater, just occasionally raising her head to see to what’s happening and most of the time though happily content to be! Just be.

So here it is, my version of a quick sandwich loaf with minimal ingredients and really yum results.

This is a super quick and equally delicious sandwich bread made in about 60 minutes flat! Yep, that’s right 60 minutes including the rising time and you have it ready to make a thick delicious grilled sandwich or an equally  yum grilled cheese one or just a plain fare of toast with a dab of creamy salted butter!

Please do note, the use of Instant dry yeast is what leads to the quick rising of bread and thereby eliminating the need for a second rise.

Quick bread : check  

Easy loaf : check  

No eggs : check  

Not too much oil or sugar : check  

One rise : check  

Perfect : check   

 

1,2,3
1,2,3
Sliced to perfection!
Sliced to perfection!

Ingredients:

  • Bread flour : 2.5 cups + 0.5 cup as needed
  • Water : very warm, 1 cup
  • Sugar : 1 Tbsp.
  • Olive Oil : 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp to grease the bowl
  • Salt : 1 tsp.
  • Red chili flakes : 1/2 Tbsp. ( optional)
  • Fresh and died herbs  of choice: 1/4 cup
  • Instant Active dry yeast : 1 packet  ( 1/4 ounce)

Notes : Do not have Bread flour? Have only All purpose flour? works fine too. Want to try whole wheat? Try mixing the flours half and half and give it a shot! Please do try and use unbromated, unbleached flour. If you end up using unbromated flour, then do knead a bit more.

Method:

  • In a wide mixing bowl or you stand kneader’s bowl add in 2.5 cups of flour, the herbs mix, the salt, sugar  and the instant dry yeast and using a paddle attachment or a whisk make sure they are thoroughly stirred and distributed.
  • Add in the 2 Tbsp. of Olive oil and stir it well too.
  • Replace the paddle to the dough hook and add in the very warm water and knead it well. Once the dough gathers, decide if you need to add a bit more . If so because the dough is too shaggy and sticky, add the extra half cup of flour in stages of 2 tsp. or so and bring it all together and knead very well for about 4- 5 minutes. The end result would be a very soft pliable dough, but definitely not tearing apart. A bit sticky is fine. Not adding too much flour and kneading it very well for about 4 minutes will definitely help the texture of the bread by yielding a light loaf.
  • Grease the bowl with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and shape the dough in a ball and place it in it and cover with your kitchen towel and let it rest in a warm dark place for about 20 minutes or until the dough is doubled in volume so. Make sure you have nice warm dark place to let your bread rise. If you think you are unsure about where to put it ordinate have a free draft free zone, preheat your oven to about 100 F or so. And turn it off.  The  residual heat in the oven can serve as a nice environment to let your bread rise.
  • After about 20 minutes, gently punch the dough to deflate it and shape it into a free loaf or shape it in your 9 by 5 bread pan. I used the  bread pan and greased it before placing the dough in it and flat patted it. No log formation , nothing. Just a free ball rolled up and then deflated and patted gently to fit the base of the 9 by 5 pan evenly.
  • UPDATE: Slash the top layer of the dough , 1/4 of an inch – make about 2 -3 of these atleast. this will help the steam escape and prevent your bread from splitting on the top.

Baking:

  • In the lowermost rack of your baking oven, fill a baking tray with very very hot tap water and place it.
  • Place your bread pan in the middle rack of your oven.
  • Now set the oven temp to 400 deg F and cook time to 40 minutes and start. Yes, you start with a cold oven !
  • In about 40-42 minutes, you will have a beautiful golden brown loaf with perfect crust.
  • When you tap the sides of the bread and it sounds hollow – you are good  to take it out and cool it.

Remove , let it cool and slice it thick for perfect toast, sandwiches, grilled cheese and more!

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!