Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread (with chocolate chunks)

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

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

Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread ( with chocolate chunks)

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

Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread ( with chocolate chunks)

Ingredients:

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

Method :

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

Notes :

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

 

Have I baked using these substitutes ?

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

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

 

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.

Kale and Spinach Masala Vada(i)

What’s your indulgence on a cold miserable day? NC brought out in full spate some miserable and grumpy days to the boot. Nagging cold weather accompanied by some rain and a weather that could not decide between holding onto winter and hopping aboard the spring train. Yikes !

Now imagine a day where the sun refused to peek out and the bare branches of the trees formed a sticky silhouette to temper the gray dull skies. The weather even managed to incite my boisterous and slightly neurotic lab to snooze . And quite a vent hugger she was. The warm draft of air from the heater vent provided the perfect huggable carpet spot for her and I could hear her stretching and yawning.

Kale and Spinach Masala (Vadai)

I would have loved to take out that raggedy brown blanket, stretch out on the recliner with a hot cuppa and indulge in a book. Any book. But since kids would arrive from school and look forward to something that could perk them up.

Kale and Spinach Masala (Vadai)

 

So a hot steaming cup of chai it is and a plate piled with piping hot and steaming baby kale and baby spinach masala vada(i). Chockful of these and the lentils provide much of the protein and flavors of fennel and ginger and garlic. Seriously folks, you would be missing out if you do not make these.

Kale and Spinach Masala ( Vadai)

A   plate piled high with piping hot, crispy, golden brown masala vada(i).. packed with kale and spinach and spiced with those flavors that make it extra special – protein packed indulgence and hot steaming cuppa to  make it even more better. It’s ok to indulge once in a while and it sure calls for it today !

Now what’s your excuse and what’s your indulgence?

Soaking time : 3 hrs   Prep time : 15 min   Cooking time : 25-30 min  Pieces : about 30 

Serves a hungry lot !

Ingredients:

Pulses and Cereals: Soaked for about 3 hrs or so.

  • Dry split Channa dal : 3/4 cup
  • Dry Toor Dal : 1/4 cup
  • Flax seeds : 2 Tbsp
  • Rice : brown/ white : 2 Tbsp.

Vegetables/Herbs

  • Baby Spinach : 1 cup : chopped
  • Baby Kale : 1 cup chopped
  • Onion : 1 medium size : chopped fine
  • Garlic cloves: 3 : chopped fine
  • Cilantro : 1/4 cup, chopped fine
  • Mint leaves : 8-10, chopped fine
  • Green chilies : 8-10. chopped fine ( adjusted to spice level)
  • Ginger : peeled, 1 inch , chopped fine

Dry Spices: ( preference can dictate the kind of spices added)

  • Fennel seeds / Saunf : 1 Tbsp
  • Salt : 1.5 tsp , adjusted to taste.

Frying:

  • Deep frying in peanut/ canola/vegetable /saffola oil of your choice.

Method:

  • Grind to a thick and coarse consistency the soaked ingredients listed under pulses/ cereals
  • The batter should not be extra fine or smooth but be ground enough to show occasional whole soaked dals with coarse consistency and done so just the little amount of water required. Do not make it too watery or mush, then the vada(i)s will soak up extra oil.
  • Add in all the ingredients listed in spices and mix well.
  • Add in the ingredients listed in vegetables and herbs and mix well.
  • Let the batter rest for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile heat the oil on medium high heat.
  • Test the temperature of oil by putting in a tiny dropful of batter. If it floats immediately to the top and is sizzling, you can begin the process of making vada(i)s.

Shaping, Frying the Vada(i)s

  • You can use the flat side of a ziploc bag, dab it with oil and drop 2 Tbsp. of coarse batter, flatten to get a round disc and gently slide it the  oil.
  • Or the method I prefer, is to use my fingers and palms to shape the flattened discs and slide them gently in oil.
  • Fry in medium high heat about 6-8  in batch or so.  The discs are about 2-3 inches in diameter.
  • Fry these in medium high heat to a nice even brown. Do not fry in very high heat. If you do so, the outer layer will get cooked faster than the inner one and it is not something you will relish!
  • Enjoy with a hot cup of tea and the mush awaited book of your choice!

Baked Mixed Vegetable Samosa

An absolutely  packed schedule just before the winter break sets in. There are days and then there is today 

So while the going gets crazy , the crazy get going ??

The breakfast was bit of a dud ..Cold winter morning , not freezing but still cold enough for you to want to pull in the blankets closer. You might want to reach out for the warm toasted bread and dab of butter. Or a warm cinnamon roll. But not a single loaf of bread was baked and we were all out bread, cinnamon rolls, hot and tasty dosa or anything nice – according to the kids.

Baked Mixed Vegetable Samosa

It was the second last day of school before winter break sets them free. And the kiddos are to be out for a long time and were fed fig bars(tsk tsk ) for break fast – all natural very good ,stone ground wheat and natural fig in it .But it was not exactly a cold morning choice ! Sigh ! Even the apple oat smoothie did not soften the wounded eyes of A2 ( A1 was more preoccupied with his gazillion tests in school today ) . And mom decided to make an after school treat.( Sucker for those wounded eyes , me thinks! )

A1 and A2 are a huge fan of samosas ! I mean honestly what’s not like about it – there’s all sorts of spiced laden veggies in a pastry dough which is usually fried.  And mom kind of relented( guilty of momism) and made a quick batch of – samosas . With whole wheat partially ( I cheated ) and BAKED it ! Corn and potatoes and carrots and so much more bring the burst of flavors and fresh mint/ coriander chutney – I need chai now !

Not very labor intensive. It was done pretty fast.

Baked Mixed Vegetable Samosa

 

Time for prep : 30 min      Resting time for dough : 30 min  Shaping and filling : 15 – 20 min

Baking 25-30 min        Yields : 12 -14 pieces

 Ingredients :

For the stuffing:

  • Large potatoes : 3 nos.( boiled and mashed roughly )
  • Onion : 1 , diced fine
  • Sweet corn : boiled : 1/4 cup
  • Mix of peas and carrots : 1/4 cup
  • Oil : 1 tbsp.
  • Red chili powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Garam masala : 1 tsp.
  • Chaat masala : 1/2 tsp.
  • Cilantro : chopped : 1/4 cup
  • Salt : 1 tsp + as required
  • Cumin seeds : 1 tsp.

For the dough:

  • White whole wheat flour  : 1 cup
  • All  purpose flour : 1 cup
  • Ajwain/ Carrom seeds : 1 Tbsp.
  • Oil : 3 Tbsp.
  • Water : as required
  • Baking powder : 1/4 tsp.
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp.

Method :

For the dough :

  • In a wide bowl. Mix all the dry ingredients first and whisk well to ensure even distribution of salt and baking powder.
  • Add the oil and mix thoroughly so the dough now resembles fine crumbs.
  • Now sprinkle water ( DO NOT ADD EXCESS WATER. SPRINKLE LITTLE BY LITTLE ) and bring the dough together to form a very tight dough. It has to be tight dough. Do not knead it excessively. We do not  want to form gluten in the dough and then you will have stretchy outer covering instead of a flaky one.
  • As soon as the dough comes together to form a ball, keep it covered for about 30 min. It is important to rest the dough.

For the filling:

  • In a wide skillet or fry pan, add the oil and add the cumin / jeera seeds and let it sputter. Add the onions and fry well. Subsequently add the  boiled and mashed potatoes, boiled corn and peas and carrots . I microwaved the frozen peas and carrots and then corn for a couple of min each to aid the cooking process.
  • Add the salt and then spice powders  listed and mix well. Do not mash it too much
  • Add the fresh chopped cilantro, stir once and take it out to cool.
  • After cooling divide it into 12 – 14 portions depending on the number of dough pieces.
  • If you have excess left , then it makes a great sandwich filler.

Making the samosa:

  • Pre heat the oven to 350 deg F
  • Fill a small cup with water and keep aside.
  • After the dough has rested for 30 min, knead it once to get a smoother one. Divide it into about 6-7 portions.
  • Roll out each portion into a big circle. Try to keep it on the thinner side.
  • Slice it in the middle to form 2 semi circles.
  • Now using the tips of your finger wet the  edges of the semi-circle.
  • Bring the edges together so it overlaps to form an open cone and seal the edges .
  • Fill the cone with your stuffing and seal the third side as well by wetting the line edge of the dough.
  • Repeat for the rest.

Baking the samosa:

  • Arrange the triangular pastries on a single layer on  parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Brush with a dab of cooking oil on the surface.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes in the pre heated oven.
  • The increase the heat to 375 F and bake another 10-12 minutes.
  • You will have flaky and crisp shell with spiced filling inside.
  • Serve hot with chai and green chutney.

 

Baked Mixed Vegetable Samosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Spicy Potato / Urulaikizhangu Masala Podimas

Reminiscent of those Sunday meals where quick but delicious food was the norm and we had a gaggle of family and friends gathered around for one of those inimitable “quality times” at home. The aroma of fresh sambar and potato spicy podimas with a generous dose of onions and spiced just perfect with green chilies . Asafoetida wafting through the siren’s call of hot, steaming, fresh cooked food and aided by a perfect combination of melted ghee and vadams.

Spicy Potato / Urulaikizhangu Masala Podimas ( Spicy potato fry)

A typical south Indian brunch followed very shortly by filter kaapi – the mother of all Starbucks lattes and espresso, in my opinion. Those were the simpler times. Be it an impromptu weekend brunch or any of those big family gatherings, it was a given that house would be bursting at seams with folks.  There was always a smile for everyone and room for one more ..

yin and yang of seasoning
yin and yang of seasoning

This dish dates back to those days. Clean flavors with minimal cooking but bang on the target for taste. Fresh curry leaves were always used – just taken of the tree in the backyard. Cilantro? the kitchen garden had it. Want mint ? Running out of something? Just peek into your neighbors’ backyard and give a shout out. Have a huge lot of veggies you harvested? Neighbors took them and nothing goes waste. Community living at its finest, sometimes.

Spicy Potato / Urulaikizhangu Masala Podimas ( Spicy potato fry)

This was a favorite prep back home. Infact you can make a ton of it and use it  as a stuffing for masala dosa. Or be creative and stuff it into a bun or paratha, make a grilled sandwich. Possibilities ? Endless!

Prep time : 20 -30 min  Cook time : 15 min

This serves about 6-8 people and goes great with samabar or simple rasam  and rice.

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes : 8-10
  • Onions : 2 , medium-sized
  • Ginger : skinned, a big 1 inch piece
  • Curry leaves : 6-8
  • Asafoetida : 1 generous pinch
  • Turmeric powder : 1 tsp.
  • Salt : 1.5 tsp.
  • Green chilies : 6 ( I used very spicy ones )
  • Cilantro :  1/4 cup, chopped finely
  • Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
  • Split, washed urad dal : 1 Tbsp.
  • Oil : 2 Tbsp.

Method:

  • Boil the potatoes ( or pressure cook them ) well, peel and mash them roughly ( retain small chunks, don’t make it a gooey mess) and set aside.
  • Chop ginger and chilies finely or coarsely as per preference and set aside.
  • Finely slice onions and set aside. I used 2 golf ball sized red onions. You can increase or decrease the quantity based on personal preference.
  • In a wide bottom  heavy skillet ( use a heavy cast iron or nonstick if available ) add the  oil and heat it. Add in the Asafoetida when the oil gets hot.  Now add in the tempering of mustard seeds ( which will splutter) and urad dal. Once the urad dal is light brown in color , add the curry leaves, chopped ginger and chilies. Sauté for about 30-45 seconds and then add the turmeric powder and  the sliced onions.
  • Sauté the onions till well brown.
  • Now add the mashed potatoes and salt and gently stir fry in the skillet until the spices are well coated and potatoes are evenly salted as well.
  • Remove from heat, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Spicy Potato / Urulaikizhangu Masala Podimas ( Spicy potato fry)

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 🙂

Roasted Garlic, Jalapeño & Herb Focaccia Bread (Wheat)

Roasted Garlic, Jalapeño & Herb Focaccia Bread ( Wheat)

This post has sat in drafts for a very long time. I have no clue why it took that long but all is well… Been  a bit scatter brained , but that’s not unusual either. The usual activities of soccer and gymnastics and the seasonal prep of FRC begins. Maya, on the other hand has been the most unburdened of the lot as she explores the backyard like a new-found babe – after days of rain and blah weather , the sun gods decide to shine on us . You could see this gorgeous streak of black, shiny fur dashing about as she chases squirrels that have peeped our after a couple of weeks. And she makes the most of it. Streaking about or snoozing in the sun. She does make me en her sometimes ! Abundant energy and abundant love .. always .

Gorgeous day and I realize, I have about a dozen drafts – nope, honest not kidding, atleast a dozen drafts sitting in the folder waiting for their turn in the sun. And I shall oblige to the best of my ability.

Been to Panera bread? It’s like this secret joint for all bread lovers to unite . Much before the active baking bug bit me ( quite honestly it has not been too long, but lets just say for timeframe sake barely 18 months or so)  their neatly arranges loaves of bread and near tumbling brown fresh-baked ones from the basket were so inviting and tempting for me. Almost irresistible that I would inevitably come home with a couple at least. Well they are now too, albeit now, I use my discretionary powers and bring a couple more of the new ones as well to try their flavors. LOL! One of their creations would be this Jalapeño cheese focaccia bread – a tiny piece of marvel with generous pepping of fresh jalapeño peppers. Yum –  O ! It’s like a sirens call for A1. He could never resist it and could polish a couple if not for mom’s “look”.Roasted Garlic, Jalapeño & Herb Focaccia Bread ( Wheat)

Been wanting to try something akin to that one for sometime , and also wanted to incorporate fresh garden grown herbs in it. While I believe this was originally baked way back in early 2014 when I was starting out to look at yeast and not turn the other way ( been in the drafts folder too long ), baked it a couple quite a few times after that with ever pleasing results !

Roasted Garlic, Jalapeño & Herb Focaccia Bread ( Wheat)

And here we go….

Prep time : 20 min 

Dough resting time : 60 – 75 min  + additional 25 min

Bake time : 25-30 min

Ingredients

Bread:

  • White whole wheat flour : 2 cups
  • All purpose flour : 1 and 1/4 cups
  • Brown sugar : 1 and 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt : 1 and 1/4 tsp.
  • Garlic salt : 1/4 tsp.  ( optional, but recommended)
  • Instant yeast : 2.25 teaspoon/ 1 sachet
  • Olive oil : 2 Tbsp.
  • Very warm water : 1 and 1/4 cup

Topping:

  • Fresh garlic cloves : 8-10
  • Fresh mint : About 1/4 cup of leaves
  • Fresh Cilantro : 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • Jalapeño Peppers, green fresh : 2 – 3 big
  • Red chili flakes : 1 and 1/4 tsp.
  • Olive oil : 3 Tbsp.

Directions:

Preparing the Dough:

  • If using a stand mixer, I initially like to attach the paddle attachment and mix everything and then switch to the dough hook for kneading.
  • Add both the flours, salt and sugar and whisk well. Add the dry instant yeast (Since we are using the dry instant kind, we do not need to activate it. However if you are unsure, then proof the yeast in the warm water with sugar.)
  • Add the  2 Tbsp. of olive oil, then the very warm water and mix it well.
  • Switch to the dough hook and now knead it very well till you get a smooth dough. The dough is very soft and smooth. Not overtly sticky. If required add a tbsp. or so of extra APF to bring it to the desired smooth consistency.
  • Oil/ Grease a container . Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place until it doubles in size ( 60-75 min). I simply spray the container of my mixing bowl and let it rise in it.

(Tip : During winter times/ colder weather , turn on the oven initially for a few min. When it hits a temp of say 150 F, turn it off. Once you knead the dough, place it in the warm oven for about an hour. It will help in making the dough rise faster.)

Preparing the Herb, Jalapeno Pepper & Garlic Spread:

  • In a toaster oven, line a baking tray with aluminum foil . Arrange the  cloves of garlic and jalapeño and drizzle about a 1 Tbsp. of oil and roast it on high. Mine hit the maximum at 450 F, so I used that setting for about 8 min or so.
  • You want these roasted well and not blackened, so do keep an eye out and prep according to the toaster oven.
  • Let this cool for a bit. Add these along with the fresh herb mix  and remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil, pulverize in a food processor / blender to from a coarse paste.
  • Add the chili flakes, mix, scoop and set aside. This will form the top layering for the bread.

Prep and Baking:

  • In about 60 min or so, the dough would have doubled in size. Gently deflate it.
  • Prepare a heavy baking tray by lining it with baking sheet or parchment paper. Generously  mist/ spray/layer it with olive oil.
  • Dump the deflated dough onto it. Using your hands work it to form a nice rectangle / oval, about an inch or so in thickness.
  • Cover it so it is prepped for the second rise where it will rise a bit more for about 25 – 30 minutes to yield a slightly puffy look.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Once the dough is ready, using 2 fingers gently poke all over the surface of the bread. You are forming indentations and not tearing the bread dough apart.
  • Using a pastry brush if desired, spread the herb, and spicy pepper mix on the surface.
  • Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until it is nice golden brown on the top. Do not over bake please.

Roasted Garlic, Jalapeño & Herb Focaccia Bread ( Wheat)

To serve:

  • Serve warm bread with a drizzle of olive oil /herb oil. Best eaten warm.

Go ahead, the focaccia bread is warm , inviting and I bet it’s a siren’s call for you too.

Roasted Garlic, Jalapeño & Herb Focaccia Bread ( Wheat)

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

This is so not the case of life giving you way too many bananas . This is the case where I sort of threatened mock mutilation to the loving members of my family  because I wanted those two bananas to get over ripe to use for this recipe. I have secret minor addiction to pretty pictures on Pinterest ( ok not so secret any more ) but hey I can enjoy a good one now and then . While I do admire them, I so seriously need to invest some more time in understanding the mechanics of good photos…When I found this on Pinterest, the one bowl ideology spoke to me – after all who like messy kitchens? And I seem to have had a bit of a downer mood today. So in a minor adaptation of that recipe we hit jackpot on this muffin. I know it says breakfast muffin , but kids are getting it for an afterschool snack — with a warm glass of milk. Edited verdict: Kids simply loved it !

Unlike the recent past, bananas do not get a chance to go over ripe here at home. Between the kids and M, hardly any gets left over. So yours truly had to get a fresh bag of ones to let 2 stragglers from the previous batch put to good use. Nearly had a sign out to not eat/ or even think of eating/ feeding maya, the ones that were on its way to get ripened or over ripened. And they were put to amazingly good use. These gorgeous muffins are so calling out your name! C’mon grab a bowl, make these and let me know how it turned out !!!

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

Notes: Using whole wheat pastry flour will  produce more soft muffins. My local grocery store does not stock it and my only option was to order in bulk . Using APF of course will yield you possibly more fluffier ones. While the original recipe calls for baking with honey, I am hesitant to heat up honey based on Ayurveda principles and would gladly use brown sugar in its stead. You can also use jaggery as well. If you do use jaggery you definitely would be adding to the nutritional quotient as it is chockfull of minerals and Iron too.  Would you like to make it vegan? Use apple sauce and cutback on yogurt , or use almond milk and use flax seed  ground and beaten in water as substitute for egg. It would yield a slightly more denser muffin though. But all in all this recipe is definitely a keeper. Oh yes! The one bowl adaptation of it would definitely work as well. When you reach step 4 in the instructions add the dry ingredients sequentially in the mixing bowl.Fold in the chocolate chips gently and reserve to sprinkle on top. Perfecto!

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

Prep time : 10 min               Baking time : 16-18 min          Yield 12 muffins

Recipe source : http://www.joyfulhealthyeats.com. This is a near faithful adaptation of the recipe .

Ingredients

  • White whole wheat flour : 1 +2/3 cups
  • Bananas : 2 – 3  over ripe and spotted ( mashed would equal a cup or so)
  • Brown sugar : 2 – 3  large
  • Vanilla Extract : 1/2 Tbsp. 
  • Thick  plain yogurt : 1/3  cup of it ( used home made)
  • coconut oil (melted ) : 1/3 cup 
  • Large Brown egg : 1
  • Dark Cocoa powder : 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt : ½  tsp.
  • Baking soda:1 tsp.
  • Dark chocolate chips : 1/2 cup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper cups.
  3. In a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, add the bananas and mash it. Add sugar, vanilla extract, yogurt, oil and egg and whip it till combined.
  4. In a separate bowl measure out white whole wheat flour, add the 2 Tbsp. of dark cocoa , baking soda and salt and mix it/ whisk it very well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix until combined.
  6. Add in the chocolate chips and reserve some to top it on the muffins .Fill each muffin tin  to ¾ of its well.
  7. Bake for 16-18 minutes.
  8. Serve warm / cold with a tall glass of milk, hot chocolate or coffee !

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

Ennai Kathirikai/ Stuffed Aubergine ( eggplant)/ Bharwan baingan

Ennai Kathirikai/ Stuffed Aubergine ( eggplant)/ Bharwan baingan

Joaquin, the category 4 hurricane mercifully spared the inner city areas of NC while it unleashed a torrential outpour in outer lying areas and SC and submerged quite a few as well . We, in the heart of the city were subjected to cold and drafty weather and incessant rain. The entire week was under its onslaught and to add to its mix a housebound active Labrador , what do you get?  You might just have some America’s Funniest Videos happening right here ( unintentional of course !)…

Maybe I should send in a couple so I can finally hit the jack pot . M alternated between hyper playing in the basement and moping at the front door. Add to drinking copious amounts of water, it was quite funny to watch this one who would not hesitate to roll in pack of slimy mud ( mud bath anyone? Au natural therapy for shiny skin)  to recoil on wet grass. Wet grass really ? Go figure!!

So with soccer games and classes cancelled ( Really the fields were marshes. I could imagine a LOTR scenario. Frodo….step back !)  and a conscious cancelling ( is that even a term ?) of Sunday classes for the rest, it was a day or rather morning of respite. M got to have her bath – A2 and A3  gave her one  and joined in the soapy shower  and I could hear them laughing away like loonies. Yours truly got a bit sappy and sort of Brady Brunch kind and made this for a Sunday afternoon lunch !

Tender Baby eggplants are stuffed with a special blend of spices, lentils and one secret ingredient ( ha ha ha). Trimmed and cut to be filled ( or rather stuffed) with this special dry mix powder/ stuffing , they are then gently slid on to a wide skillet with seasoning and covered and cooked with minimal oil. Yep! You heard me right , reduced quantity of oil and yet these baby beauties pack a punch when had – with a bowl of steaming hot rice and accompanying sambar or with hot phulkas and tadka moong dal.

Prep time : 20 min    Cooking time 15-25 min       Serves : 3-4

Ingredients:

Vegetable:

  • 12 baby purple eggplants

Seasoning:

  • 1.5 Tbsp. of  oil
  • 1/4 tsp. of mustard seeds
  • A generous pinch of Asafoetida
  • 4-5 fresh green curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp of split, washed, de husked Urad dal

Stuffing: to be roasted  and ground to yield coarse mix

  • Oil : 1 tsp.
  • Channa Dal : 1/4 cup
  • Coriander seeds / Dhania : 1/4 cup
  • Sesame seeds/ Til : 2 Tbsp.
  • Split urad dal : 2 Tbsp.
  • Dry red chilies : 8 ( adjust to spice level)
  • Bydagi or Kashmiri chili : 2 ( optional, yield rich red color without heat)
  • Dry tamarind : 1 inch piece
  • Peanuts w or w/o skin: 2 tsp.
  • 1 tsp. of salt. – to be added to the final mix

1

Method:

Preparing the Stuffing mix:

  • In a wide bottomed , thick non stick or cast iron skillet heat a tsp of oil and roast/fry the dry red chilies initially. Drain and set aside. In the seasoned skillet with remnants of oil add in the peanuts and tamarind piece, roast well and set aside.
  • Now sequentially roast the ingredients listed. You do not want these to be roasted all together as the sesame seeds are quick to burn by the time the lentils/dal are done. Trust me it takes only a few minutes , so do it sequentially. Worth it .
  • Set it aside to cool well.  Once cooled very well, grind to a granulated state aka coarse powder.  Add a tsp. of salt and mix well.
  • Use as much as required for the stuffing and a tbsp. or so to sprinkle some on the top. Reserve the rest of it, if any, as seasoning or topping for  other vegetables. Makes an awesome one for potatoes as well. And for tondli too. 

Trimming, slicing and stuffing the eggplant:

  • I personally do not like to retain the tails of the eggplants, hence I trim them out . And quarter them so they open like a flower ( take care not to slice them completely ). 
  • In a wide saucepan fill it with water and dunk these eggplants in them.  Why? Well if you do not you will black oxidized ones on your hands. Very unappealing:-(
  • Once the prep for all these eggplants are done, drain them out one by one and  fill them with dry stuffing mix you have prepared.
  • They should be gently pried apart and stuffed with dry mix. Because they were dunked in water, the moisture will help the dry stuffing mix to adhere to the eggplants.

Cooking the stuffed aubergines:

  • In a wide bottomed skillet ( use the one you previously used for roasting the stuffing), add the 1.5 Tbsp of oil.
  • On heating add the generous pinch of Asafoetida , curry leaves, mustard seeds and urad dal. Let them crackle and the lentils brown.
  • Now gently slide and arrange each stuffed eggplant in a single layer. Reduce the flame to medium high and sprinkle some water – about a couple of tablespoons worth at the most and cover. Let it cook / steam/braise for about 7-10 minutes or so. If they are really tender eggplants they would be cooked near through now.
  • Remove the lid and with aid of tongs, gently flip it so now it roasts on the other side. If the eggplants are completely cooked, you can leave it uncovered at this stage. If not cover it and let it cook again for another 5 minutes.
  • Finish the cooking process with uncovered cooking  for about 5 -7 minutes to aid in removing any sogginess left and to crisp up the eggplants a bit.
  • Note: add a dash of salt if you think you might need a bit more.

 

Serve hot with steaming hot rice with a dollop of ghee and fresh Sambar. Ambrosia !

2