Sunday, 7 October 2012

POTATO AND CELERY SOUP WITH BLUE POTATO CRISPS

What luck!!
I was enjoying a laid-back morning with a cup of African Ruby tea, my favourite, sitting in my balcony trying to read a book that I had been putting off for sometime.

The beautiful morning breeze, the water-snake along the water edge too scared to swim in the middle of the stream, the beautiful blue-brown kingfisher with its sharp beak swooping down and catching that unsuspecting prey, a baby monitor lizard slithering in the tall grass, two koi fish playing right under my balcony  and two turtles who appeared to be playing the game of hide-n-seek with me, did not want me to know they were just two. They were going in and out of water and for a long while I could not make out if they were two or more, and finally an ugly dark grey stork-like bird that has been around for many years all lonely, deep in thought.

The tiny little brown-yellow bird, sitting between my beautiful pink Malti flowers, chirping in my ear, telling me to put off reading that book for another day.

And just as I was taking in all this beauty, my phone rang.
"Want to come? I am going shopping and leaving in five minutes", my friend said.
Tearing myself away from such a beautiful scene I made it to the car-park in ten.

Hoping I would get something that would compensate, I looked around and found these beautiful blue potatoes right here in Singapore. I stealthily scratched the skin of one potato and was relieved to find that it was blue all the way inside.

Yes!! What luck!!
My day had started beautifully. I came home with two bags of blue potato, not knowing what I would do with them.
So I thought I would start with a potato soup.


potato and celery soup with blue potato crisps

Potatoes as I have mentioned in my previous posts Zingy Potato Upma, Herbed Potato Medley are very healthy. Frying them adds the fat that makes them the dreaded calorie-bomb. Being tastier after frying, they tend to make couch potatoes of simple beings like me who love to eat them while watching the favourite television show.
Freezing them makes them unhealthy as mentioned in my earlier posts.

POTATO AND CELERY SOUP WITH BLUE POTATO CRISPS
makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
For the soup:
.Potato..........................................................3 cups, finely chopped
.Yellow onion..............................................1 cup, finely chopped
.Celery stick.................................................1 cup, finely chopped
.Butter..........................................................1 Tbsp.
.Garlic..........................................................1 tsp., finely chopped
.Green chili(bird's eye)................................1 tsp., finely chopped
.Bay leaf.......................................................1
.Thyme, fresh leaves.....................................1 tsp. lightly crushed
.Water ..........................................................2 cups
.Salt...............................................................to taste

.Milk..............................................................2 cups
.Water............................................................1 cup

 For the topping:
.Blue potato...................................................1/2 cup, finely chopped
.Blue potato................................................... 1/2 cup, grated thickly
.Carrot...........................................................1/2 cup, finely chopped
.Celery stick..................................................1/4th cup, finely chopped
.Red bell peppers..........................................1/2 cup, finely chopped
.Black pepper powder...................................to taste
.Lime juice.....................................................2 tsp.
.Olive oil/ butter............................................1 Tbsp.

For the garnish
. Pea shoots for garnish...................................a few
potato and celery soup with blue potato crisps and cream
.Blue potato chips............................................freshly deep fried
.Cream(optional).............................................1 Tbsp.
.Parmesan cheese.............................................2 Tbsp. grated or shavings
.Oil...................................................................for frying the chips

Method:
.In a pressure cooker, heat the butter.
.Add onions and saute till translucent. Add the potatoes and saute` for 2  minutes.
.Add in the chopped celery stick, garlic, green chili, bay leaf and thyme.
.Saute` further for 2 to 3 minutes.
.Add water and salt to taste.
.Pressure cook for 5 to 7 minutes or two whistle sounds.
.Take off the heat and wait till the pressure in the Pressure cooker is self-released.
.Remove the bay leaf.
.Using a hand-held blender blend the soup into a near smooth paste.
.Add 1 cup water and bring to a rolling boil.
.Add milk up to 2 cups to get the desired consistency.
.Add Black pepper powder and simmer.
.Add the lemon juice and mix well.
.Taste and adjust the seasonings.


For the topping:
.Heat olive oil/butter in a pan.
.Add the red bell pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside.
.Add the carrot in the same pan. Sprinkle a little salt( a few grains)cook for 1 minute(should not
 caramelise). Remove from pan and set aside.
.Add the celery in the same pan and cook for 30 seconds or less. Remove from pan and set aside.
.Add the blue potato(chopped) in the same pan. Add a little salt(a few grains)and cook while stirring
 continuously for 1 to 2 minutes or until cooked.
.In the same pan spread out the grated potato in a single layer(preferably), sprinkle a little salt and cook
 till crisp. Flip and cook on the other side till crisp. Sprinkle a little black pepper powder.
.Deep fry a few blue potato chips just before serving.

How to assemble:
.In a soup bowl, ladle a few spoons of the soup.
.Gently sprinkle a little red bell pepper, carrot, celery and chopped blue potato, so that they float.
.Garnish with the crispy grated blue potato and a few pea shoots, the blue potato chips, a tiny bit of
 cream and cheese gratings or shavings and serve piping hot with buttered bread, cheesy bread,
 bruschetta or burger(as I did).

Note:
.Drain the vegetables well before taking them out of the pan thus leaving the oil/butter for reuse(for the
 remaining vegetables).
.The cheese gratings melt in the hot soup.
.This soups thickens on cooling. Add a little boiling hot water to achieve the desired consistency and
 bring it  to a simmer before serving.
blue potatoes

Monday, 24 September 2012

MUSHROOM TIKKA STYLE

As you know I have been totally smitten by the lovely gigantic button mushrooms that my vegetable vendor snuck under my nose and enticed me into buying. Those lovely mushrooms that my family and I have been enjoying over the week.
I wondered if I should divulge my secret recipe now or keep it for until later.
But my excitement over my new creation just wouldn't let me wait.

It would have been blasphemy to cut up these mushrooms to make a soup or a casserole or a curry or any other dish that would require cutting or chopping of my beauties. So naturally they had to be made whole.


mushroom tikka style
Mushrooms are low in calories, fat and carbohydrate and contain no vitamin C and sodium. They are a good source of the B vitamins niacin, pantothenic acid and riboflavin and essential minerals such as potassium, selenium and copper. Vitamin D2 is produced in them when exposed to ultraviolet rays. More about mushrooms in my previous posts Mushroom on Toast, Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms in Capsicum Coulis, Chili Mushroom, Mushroom with Greens-Tapas.


I love to combine my mushrooms with yogurt so yet again I started to think of yogurt as my base.
Here's what I came up with.

MUSHROOM TIKKA STYLE

Ingredients:
.Large sized white button mushroom.............16
.Red bell pepper...........................................1 large, cut into large sized dice
.Yellow bell pepper.....................................1 large, cut into large sized dice
.Japanese cucumer........................................1. halved vertically and cuy into large chunks
.Baby corn....................................................12, halved
.Olive oil......................................................2 Tbsp.

For the marinade:
.Yogurt..........................................................2 cups
.Red onion.....................................................1 large or 1 cup finely chopped
.Garlic...........................................................3 large cloves
.Ginger..........................................................2 tsp., finely chopped
.Red chili(bird's eye)....................................2 to 3 finely chopped(adjust to taste, but add all if you like
.Red chili powder.........................................2 tsp.
.Garam masala powder.................................3/4th tsp.
.Roasted cumin seed powder........................1 tsp.
.Turmeric powder.........................................3/4th tsp.
.Dry raw mango powder(amchur).................1 tsp.
.Pav bhaji masala..........................................1 tsp.*
.Dry oregano leaves......................................1/2 tsp.
.Carom seeds................................................1/2 tsp.
.Salt..............................................................to taste
.White vinegar..............................................1/8th cup
.Black salt....................................................1 dash
.Black pepper powder.................................1 dash
mushroom tikka style

Method:
Preparing the vegetables:
.Gently rinse the dirt off the mushrooms, peel them and gently rinse again, taking care not to get the gills
 water logged.(I prefer this step though you can choose to avoid it.)
.De-stem them if you like.
.Cut the baby corn into crosswise halves.
.Cut the bell peppers into 1 to 1.5inch dices.
.Cut the Japanese cucumber vertically into half and then cut into 1 inch thick pieces.
For the marinade:
.In a mortar and pestle, pound together onion, ginger, garlic and red chili to a rough paste.
.You can adjust the bird's eye chili according to your own taste, but add all(in the recipe) if you like it
 hot and spicy like I love.
.In a large bowl beat the yogurt to a smooth texture.
.Add to it all the ingredients of the marinade.
.Add the onion paste and mix well.
.Mix together all the prepared vegetables and the marinade till all the vegetables are well coated.
.Refrigerate for 6 to 7 hours or upto 24 hours.

How to proceed:
.Heat oven on grill setting .
.In a baking tray spread out the marinated vegetables and sprinkle the olive oil and grill till the
 vegetables start to colour.
.Here the vegetables will be seen cooking in the marinade and the juices from the vegetables. It
 may appear to be a little runny while being cooked.
.Flip all the vegetables using tongs or a spatula.
.Grill till the vegetables start to colour and appear a little charred at the tips and the liquid has almost
 dried up.

How to serve:
.Serve as a starter.
.Skewer them if you like.
   or
.Use it as a filling in a wrap.
   or
.Pasta it with Durum wheat Penne pasta. Do not let all the liquid of the marinade dry up.
 Mix it with the al dente pasta. Grill for 5  to 7 minutes until light charred marks begin to appear.
 Serve hot.

Note:
*You can get Pav Bhaji Masala at an Indian store. It is a blend of spices that I put in my rice, in my
 vegetables, in my kebabs and I always have it in my freezer (I keep it there to maintain maximum
 flavour as I do with my other blends like Garam masala).
.Grilling the yellow and red bell peppers makes them sweet. Green bell peppers do not grill well.



Wednesday, 19 September 2012

MUSHROOM WITH GREENS- TAPAS

A wee-bit late and all I could buy was a kilo of huge button mushrooms that my usual vegetable vendor, at the wholesale market where I pick up my fresh vegetables, enticed me with. There were 29 of these beautiful but huge button mushrooms. Well, I could not pass them by. I just had to buy them especially when they were only 1/3rd of the price at the local vegetable stores.

So I had to cook mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms through the week, not that my family and I were complaining. I had no choice anyway with these beauties having a life of just 3 days before the gills opened up.
They looked so beautiful that for once I did not want to share my mushrooms with anybody.  I showed them off to my friends but never once offered to make a party of it, for I was absolutely at my greedy best.

So over the week I created three new recipes.
mushroom with greens

Mushrooms are  very nutritious and adding greens to them adds to their nutritive value and fiber content.
I have talked about mushrooms in my previous posts Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms In Capsicum Coulis and Chili Mushroom.

Fenugreek leaves add a little bitter taste and loads of flavour to the dish, while spinach balances the bitterness from the fenugreek leaves.

Spinach leaves, as discussed in my earlier posts Spinach Chutney and Spinached brocolli, okra and bell pepper, contain a good amount of niacin, dietary fiber, vitamin A, C , E, K, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, zinc, magnesium and copper. However, spinach has a high sodium content. It is very low in cholesterol and low in saturated fat.

Fenugreek leaves are bitter in taste but are packed with flavour and Iron, vitamin K and all the goodies that come with the greens and are known to be helpful in regulating the insulin levels in the blood. They are also known to help solve anaemia as they have a high Iron content. So a glass of juice of this fragrant leaf is what I like to have twice a week on an empty stomach, when in season, which is during winters.
Fenugreek seeds too have medicinal uses but I will talk about them in my later posts.


MUSHROOM WITH GREENS
serves 4

Ingredients:
.Large button mushrooms..............8 or 250 g.
.Fenugreek leaves.........................50g. or 1.5 cups, finely chopped
.Spinach leaves............................50g. or 1.5 cups, finely chopped
.Coriander leaves.........................2 Tbsp. finely chopped
.Olive oil.....................................1 Tbsp
.Ginger.........................................1 tsp
.cumin seeds................................1 tsp.
.Green chilies..............................1/2 tsp. finely chopped
.Coriander powder......................2 tsp.
.Red chili powder.......................1/2 tsp.
.Turmeric powder.......................1/2 tsp.
.Thick yogurt...............................4 tbsp.
.Salt.............................................to taste

Method:

mushroom with greens

.De-stem and peel the mushrooms. Gently wash them taking care that the gills don't get water logged.
.Place them gill-side down to drain all water from the gills.
.Meanwhile heat olive oil in a skillet.
.Place the mushrooms gill-side down and cook till well browned.
.Flip each mushroom and further cook till browned on the other side as well.
.Remove and set aside.
.In the same pan (in the remaining oil) add cumin seeds, ginger green chili and stir fry for 1 minute or
 till the cumin seeds are well toasted.
.Add the coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder and cook for 1 minute.
.Stir in well-beaten yogurt and cook further for 2 to 3 minutes.
.Add the finely chopped fenugreek leaves, spinach leaves and coriander leaves and mix well.
.Cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
.Add the prepared mushrooms and mix well.
.Cook further for 4 to 5 minutes.
.Serve hot.

Note:
.This preparation can be served as Tapas. Just fill in the prepared greens in the mushroom cavity and
 serve hot.
.Mushrooms will lose a lot of moisture before it starts getting brown. Keeping it gill-side down will
 ensure that any moisture filled in the gills while washing will be drained out.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

TULIKA'S COLOURFUL CANAPÉS

As I said in my previous post that I created these canape`s to serve my Tangy Corn Salad, I thought I should share it with all now than later. I got really excited at the outcome and created Spinach flavoured and plain ones too. So beautiful did these canape`s look that all gobbled them excitedly.


Forgotten was my resolve to get at the men folk in my family with this dish (which I did eventually).
I even forgot to tell them that they had to eat it all in one single bite.

Though not for long.

I filled it with a tangy mouth-watering liquid preparation, Jaljira that I poured on my corn salad(without the yogurt). In one single bite these are tough to eat, especially if you make them slightly larger than the usual ones.

These lovely, colourful, light and crunchy canape`s, inspired by the Indian street food Pani Puri/ Golgappa/Puchhkaa, can be used for many other stuffings.


colourful beetroot, spinach and plain canape`s


COLOURFUL CANAPE`S (PANI PURI PURIS)
Ingredients:
For the maroon canape`s:
.Plain flour........................1/2 cup
.Whole wheat flour...........1/2 cup
.Semolina..........................1/4th cup
.Salt...................................1 smidgen
.Soda bi carbonate............1 dash(1/6th of a tsp.)
.Beetroot Puree.................6 Tbsp.

For the green canape`s:
.Plain flour........................1/2 cup
.Whole wheat flour...........1/2 cup
.Semolina..........................1/4th cup
.Salt...................................1 smidgen
.Soda bi carbonate............1 dash
.Spinach Chutney ..............6 Tbsp.

For the brown canape`s:
.Plain flour........................1/2 cup
.Whole wheat flour...........1/2 cup
.Semolina..........................1/4th cup
.Salt...................................3 pinches
.Soda bi carbonate............1 dash
.Water...............................6 Tbsp.

Method:
. Mix together all the dry ingredients.
.Add the liquid ingredient (beetroot puree/spinach chutney/water) and  bring together to make a dough.
.Cover with cling film and set aside for 1 hour.

.Frying these small canape`s can be tricky.

How to proceed:
.Knead the dough again for 1 minute.
.If using the canape`s to serve the salad you can take a Kidney bean sized ball of dough and roll it
 between your palms till there are no creases or cracks on the surface.
.Using a rolling pin roll out each dough ball into a thin circle about 2.5 inches in diameter.
.Roll 4 to 5 at a time and set aside.
colourful beetroot, spinach and plain canape`s

How to fry:
.Heat oil in a deep pan.
.Drop  little piece of the dough to check. If the piece comes up immediately the oil is ready.
.With the heat on high add one prepared dough circle at a time into the oil.
.IMMEDIATELY lower the heat to minimum while pressing down on the dough circle with a
 slotted spoon.
.It will fluff up into a ball in about 10-15 seconds.
.Immediately flip it over.
.Continue to flip over while cooking. This will ensure that it gets crisp and hard without burning.
.Press with thumb lightly. It should not give in to pressure(can crack but not dent).
.Remove and drain on a kitchen absorbant paper.
.Repeat with the remaining circles.

To fill the stuffing/filling:
.Gently tap on one of the sides to crack the canape`(usually on the thinner side).
.Make the hole large enough to fill in the filling.
.Fill it with the stuffing(salad) and serve immediately.

To store them:
.When cooled completely gently fill them in a large airtight jar or in a zip-locked plastic bag.
.They remain fresh upto 20 days.

Refresh them later:
.Heat the oven to 200 degree C.
.Lay the canape`s gently on a baking tray in a single layer and heat them in the oven for upto 10 minutes.
.It is very important to keep checking to see if they are crisp and hard and do not change colour.


Note:
.These are very delicate and can break easily.
.You can play around with the size if serving the salad alone but if serving a liquid along you need to
 size it according to ease of eating.(1.5 inches  for liquid stuffing).
tangy corn salad in beetroot canape`



Friday, 31 August 2012

TANGY CORN SALAD

Reading through loads of material on the right foods to combine for maximum absorption of nutrients, I got inspired to create this colorful salad.

And then, looking for something snazzy to serve it in, so that a bite is a big mouthful especially for the small-mouthed men in my family who dare to try to prove a point to the women-folk-  a crinkly-eyed, devilish and creative me wracked my brain till I came up with my beetroot canape`s.

Oh! The power of a woman home-cook.

I could imagine the fun my daughter and I would have at their expense.



tangy corn salad in beetroot canape`s
Well, so as I created beetroot canape`s to serve my corn salad in, I got more and more excited about them. They were nutritious and had that fun element (recipe to follow). They also added the required amount of oil to the greens for absorption of vitamin K present in them. I have talked about this in my previous post Spinached broccoli, okra and bell pepper.

Food combining is a very important aspect of healthy eating. Proteins take the longest to be digested while fruits remain for the shortest duration in our guts. They require different enzymes, acids etc. for digestion.

Keeping together similar foods is sensible, but not always possible. I tried my best to combine the right foods but gave in to the taste buds and added a little wheat flour in the form of the canape`s. It adds texture and taste.
You can serve it on corn crisps instead.
Serve this salad in canape`s at a cocktail party or as a starter at a dinner party or just munch at it while watching your favourite TV show.


tangy corn salad in spinach and beetroot canape`s.



Yellow corn contains high concentrations of the antioxidant carotenoids especially zeaxanthin and lutein.
Corn is a good source of fiber with insoluble fibre more than the soluble fiber thereby needing more chewing. Corn can support the growth of friendly bacteria in our large intestines which transforms it into SCFAs which are short chain fatty acids. This process helps in supplying energy to the intestinal lining cells and keeps them healthy.

TANGY CORN SALAD

Ingredients:
.Corn kernels.............................1 cup
.Water.......................................1 cup
.Salt...........................................1 tsp.

.Lettuce.....................................1/4th cup, finely shredded
.Coriander leaves.......................2 Tbsp., tightly packed, finely chopped
.Mint leaves...............................1 Tbsp., tightly packed, finely chopped
.Chinese celery leaves................2 Tbsp., lightly packed, finely chopped
.Carrot......................................2 Tbsp., finely chopped
.Celery stick..............................2 Tbsp., finely chopped
.Red bell pepper........................2 Tbsp., finely chopped
.Yellow bell pepper....................1 Tbsp., finely chopped
.Onion.......................................1/4th cup, finely chopped
.Cucumber.................................2 Tbsp., finely chopped
.Beetroot....................................2 Tbsp. boiled and finely chopped
.Fresh red chili............................1/4th tsp. very finely chopped
.Yogurt(optional)........................1/4th cup. well beaten

For the dressing:
.Spicy coriander dip....................1 Tbsp.
.Honey(optional).........................1 tsp.
.Lemon juice...............................2 tsp.
.Black salt...................................1 pinch
.Roasted cumin seed powder.......1 tsp.
.Black pepper powder.................1/8th tsp.

tangy corn salad

.Salt.............................................to taste

Method:
.Boil together corn, water and salt.
.Drain and rinse. Drain thoroughly.
.In a bowl add the corn and all the chopped vegetables and leaves.
.Mix well.

For the dressing:
.Mix together all the ingredients. Add honey if liked.

How to proceed:
.Add the dressing to the salad mixture and serve as is.

 OR

.Serve in beetroot canapes layered with well-beaten yogurt.

Note:
.If serving in canape`s, put them in just before serving or else the
 canape`s will get soggy.
.I have used bird's eye chili for this recipe which makes it tangy but addition of yogurt cools the heat
 down. You can use a milder red chili to suit your tastebuds.
 Read more about chili in my post Sago Crusted Stuffed Chili Croquettes.


Monday, 13 August 2012

SPINACHED BROCCOLI, OKRA AND BELL PEPPER

Green with Envy? A wasted emotion!
Green with Chlorophyll? A requirement!

I would rather put all the green in my food.
And that is just what I did for my Raksha-Bandhan lunch party that I have been talking about.
I put all the goodness in a bowl for my family on this festive occasion celebrating the brother-sister bond.
Just like chlorophyll energises a plant, meeting up often with family and friends energises the framilial bond.

spinached broccoli, okra and bell pepper

All green foods contain chlorophyll, the life giver in plants.
It is an extremely useful component of our meal as it contains high concentrations of magnesium that is required for keeping our bones and muscles strong.
It also helps in maintaining a normal blood pressure by helping the blood in the blood vessels to flow properly.

Chlorophyll works as an antioxidant and interferes in the absorption during digestion of hydrocarbons, such as those produced by smoking tobacco.
Green leafy vegetables give us a good supply of vitamin K1 that helps in blood clotting.

Vitamin K1 like all K vitamins are fat soluble and require some dietary fat in the guts at the same time to enhance its absorption, so when eating salads it is a good idea to add some nuts or a dressing that contains a little olive oil.

SPINACHED BROCCOLI, OKRA AND BELL PEPPER


Ingredients:
serves 4
.Broccoli............................1 cup, tightly packed, cut in 1 inch pieces
.Green bell pepper.............1 cup, tightly packed, 1 inch dices
.Okra..................................1 cup, tightly packed, 1 inch pieces
.Spinach.............................2 cups, tightly packed, finely chopped
.Onion(optional)*..............1/2 cup, tightly packed, roughly chopped
.Ginger...............................1/2 tsp., grated
.Garlic................................1/2 tsp., finely chopped
.Green chili........................1/2 tsp., finely chopped
.Cumin seeds......................1/2 tsp.
.Fennel seed powder..........1 tsp.
.Red chili powder..............1/4th tsp.
.Tava fry masala*...............1 tsp.
.Coriander seed powder.....1 1/2 tsp.
.Salt....................................to taste(approximately1/2 tsp.)
.Lime juice..........................1 tsp.
.Oil......................................1 tsp.


spinached broccoli, okra and bell peppers

Method:
.Wash all vegetables thoroughly before cutting.
.Wash and wipe dry okra before trimming and cutting.
.Cut into required size pieces and set aside.
.Heat oil in a pan.
.Add cumin seeds and saute for 30 seconds.
.Add ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
.Add onion and saute till translucent.
.Add the broccoli and okra and stir fry on high heat for 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
.Add the bell pepper and green chili and saute for 1 minute.
.Add fennel seed powder, coriander seed powder, tava fry masala, red chili powder and salt to taste.
.Mix well.
.Add chopped spinach leaves and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until all vegetables are cooked yet crunchy.
.Add lime juice.
.Serve hot.

Tava fry masala:
Ingredients:
.Coriander powder.....................1 tsp.
.Dry mango powder....................1/2 tsp.
.Cumin seed powder...................1/2 tsp.
.Black salt...................................1/4th tsp.
.Red chili powder.......................1/2 tsp.
.Mustard seeds............................1/8th tsp.
.Fenugreek seed powder.............1/8th tsp.,
.Garam masala powder................1/2 tsp.
.Dry ginger powder......................1/4th tsp.
.Fennel seeds...............................1/2 tsp., coarsely powdered
.Black pepper powder.................1/4th tsp.
.Kasoori methi leaves..................1/2 tsp., dry roasted and crushed
.Salt..............................................to taste

Method:
.Mix together all the ingredients and store in a glass jar.


Note:
*I skip the onions when feeling lazy, though onion in the recipe does add its lovely sweet flavour and
 crunch.
*Tava fry masala is a combination of spices. It can be easily combined at home and stored
 in an airtight jar or you can buy it off the shelf at Indian grocery stores.
.Tava fry masala works well in a variety of preparations, as you will find in this blog.
.Cooking in induction pans helps cook the food quickly and evenly.

Friday, 10 August 2012

HERBED POTATO MEDLEY

Potatoes!!
Yes, potatoes are one single most popular vegetable all over the world. They are eaten by the rich, the poor, the young and the old, the famous, the infamous, by people living in the northern, southern, eastern and the western hemispheres of the world. May it be any race, any culture potatoes are loved by one and all.
It is a world-staple.
Some love potatoes so much that they even turn themselves into potatoes- couch potatoes.
Oh! that was surely a lame joke but I know I turn into just that everytime I open a bag of potato chips or fry some freshly cut potatoes, or make a spicy version of mashed potatoes. I plonk myself on the sofa with my legs up on its arm, and head nestled in the comfortable corner, propped up on pillows, the potatoes on my lap and the tv remote in my hand. Blissful!!

I always have a long list of things, for family, friends and foes alike, to buy for me when they travel.
This time it was purple potatoes.

Wanting the purple colour to be very prominent in my preparation I made this very simple dish for my lunch party to celebrate Raksha Bandhan, an Indian festival to celebrate a brother-sister love and commitment towards each other.


herbed potato medley
Purple potatoes contain Anthocyanin, an antioxidant, apart from all the other goodness.
Red-skinned potatoes are rich in minerals such as copper, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and have smaller amounts of calcium, iron, sodium, zinc and selenium.
They are rich in  vitamins B6, folate, niacin, thiamin, vitamin C, and contain trace amounts of vitamin K, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.

I have talked more about the nutrition in potatoes in my earlier post Zingy Potato Upma.
However, I would like to talk about green potatoes and why they should not be consumed.

Green potatoes contain toxic substances called glycoalkaloids.
28mg/kg of body weight is considered harmful to human body. They affect the nervous system causing weakness and confusion.
These toxins are present in high concentrations in the leaves, stems, sprouts and the fruits. When exposed to light, or physical damage, or when aged this toxin content increases within the potato.
Bitter taste or burning in mouth and throat on eating the tuber raw is an indication that this toxin is present.

HERBED POTATO MEDLEY
serves 4 to 6
Ingredients:
.Baby purple potatoes............................10
.Baby red potatoes.................................10
.Ginger...................................................1 tsp., grated
.Garlic...................................................1 tsp., finely chopped
.Green chili............................................1 tsp., finely chopped
.Cumin seeds.........................................1 tsp.
.Black pepper powder...........................1/2 tsp., freshly milled
.Salt.......................................................to taste
.Mint leaves...........................................1/4th cup, finely chopped
.Coriander leaves..................................1 Tbsp., finely chopped
.Lime juice.............................................1 tsp.
.Olive oil................................................1/2 Tbsp.
.Butter.....................................................1/2 Tbsp.
.Red chili flakes(optional)......................1/4th tsp.


herbed potato medley

Method:
.Wash and boil potatoes with skin, taking care not to break the skin.
.Cut into halves lengthwise and set aside.
.Heat olive oil and butter in a wide pan.
.Add cumin seeds. When toasted add ginger, garlic and green chillies and saute for 30-40 seconds.
.Add the mint and coriander leaves and saute further for 2 minutes on medium heat.
.Add the halved potatoes cut-side down.
.Add salt and pepper and cook for 5-7 minutes or until they start to crisp and colour lightly.
.Gently flip each piece and cook further for 2-3 minutes.
.Sprinkle lime juice and toss.
.Serve hot as a side dish or as a starter.

Note:
.The herbs should be crisp and crunchy.



Tuesday, 24 July 2012

STUFFED-IDLI PAKORA

I have another crazy snack up my sleeve, the one I created about 8 years ago for another one of my 'after-dinner birthday surprises' I had planned for my husband. Not only did I have to hide the fact that at 10.30pm. that night our house was going to be full of friends, I also had to tell him that I was too tired to go out. And for that the wanna-be actress in me had to be woken up. I had to bring in all my acting skills to the fore. Well, I surely would have embarked on a flourishing acting career had there been a film personality at the party. Sigh!!
Well, it was quite a task stopping my husband from eating all those lovely melt-in-the-mouth Idli-Pakoras that I had made 'for a late dinner'.
Fortunately, our friends barged into the room on time and saved the rest from being devoured.
Stuffed Idli Pakora

This is a complete protein dish to which vegetables have been added giving some roughage and macro nutrients. The idlis contain rice and pulses and the batter for the outer covering is made up of powdered pulses, thereby making this dish a complete protein.

DEEP-FRYING at an optimum temperature and for an optimum duration makes oil a cooking medium rather than an ingredient. During the process of deep-frying the moisture in the food-to-be-fried gushes out in the form of steam and prevents oil from entering it, thus limiting the oil as cooking medium.

However, this oil can quickly turn into an ingredient :
.If the temperature of the oil is too high, as this dries out the moisture quickly and allows oil to enter.
 The food item will also remain undercooked.
.If the temperature of oil is not hot enough, as the resultant steam is not gushing out from the food item.
.If deep-fried for a long time, as this dries out the food item and there is no steam left to block the entry
 of oil.
.Oil absorption also seems to be affected by the surface texture. A smoother texture seems to absorb
 less oil.
 Breaded fried foods absorb more oil as the hot oil comes in contact with the dry bread crumbs which
 give out no steam. Also, the oil gets trapped in the uneven surface, between the crumbs.

Shallow frying of food makes the oil an ingredient.
So between the two choices, I would settle for a deep fried smooth textured food item.

STUFFED IDLI PAKORA

Ingredients:
makes 24
.Steamed Kidney Bean And Rice Cakes (Idli) or plain idli...........12, halved

For the stuffing:
.Peas..........................................................1/4th cup
.Carrot.......................................................1/4th cup, finely chopped
.Broccoli....................................................1/4th cup, finely chopped
.Potato.......................................................1/4th cup, finely chopped
.Green capsicum/Bell pepper......................1/4th cup, finely chopped
.Onion........................................................1/4th cup, finely chopped
.Mint chutney.............................................2 Tbsp.
.Salt...........................................................1 1/2 tsp. or to taste
.Garlic........................................................1/2 tsp., finely chopped
.Green chili.................................................1 tsp. finely chopped
.Coriander leaves.......................................1 Tbsp., finely chopped
.Red chili powder.......................................1 tsp.
.Fennel seed powder..................................1 tsp.
.Roasted cumin seed powder......................1/2 tsp.
.Lime juice.................................................1 tsp.

For the outer covering:
.Chickpea flour(besan)...............................2 cups
.Rice flour..................................................3 Tbsp.
.Green chili................................................2 tsp.,finely chopped
.Ginger......................................................1/2 tsp.,grated
.Coriander leaves.......................................3 Tbsp.,finely chopped
.Red chili powder......................................2 tsp.
.Fennel seed powder.................................2 tsp.
.Soda-bi-carbonate...................................1/4th tsp.
.Yogurt(thick)............................................2 Tbsp.
.Water.......................................................1 1/2 cup

making idli pockets
Method:
Preparing the Idlis for stuffing:
.Cut the round idli discs into halves.
.Using a sharp paring knife cut out pockets as shown in the picture.
.Scoop out the cut-outs and set aside.
.Repeat with remaining idli halves.

For the stuffing:
.Crumble the scooped-out idli. Set aside.
.Boil together, peas, carrot, broccoli and potato with a little salt.
.Mash roughly. Add chopped onions, bell pepper, mint chutney, garlic,
 green chili, coriander leaves, red chili  powder, fennel seed powder,
 roasted cumin seed powder, scooped-out idli crumble, salt and lime juice.
 Mix well. 
.Set aside.

For the outer covering:
.Mix together all the ingredients and whisk till smooth and light. Aerating
 the mixture adds lightness to the batter.
stuffed idli pockets


How to proceed:
.Fill the stuffing gently into the idli pockets.
.Heat oil. Drop a little test batter into the oil to check the temperature.
 It has reached optimum temperature when the drop of test batter rises
 to the top immediately but does not change colour or burn.
.Dip each stuffed idli into the batter and coat evenly on all sides.
.Drop it gently into the hot oil. Add a few more and deep fry till
 golden.
.Drain well on a kitchen absorbent paper.
.Serve hot with Mint Chutney.
Note:
.You can get Idli from an Indian restaurant that serves South-Indian
 fare, to skip making them yourself. Though those will be plain ones.
.Use 12-24 hrs. old idli for this dish.
.This dish is quite pungent. Reduce the amount of chili to make it milder.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

NUTTY PANEER BITES (COTTAGE CHEESE)

Many years ago I created this starter for a surprise party that I was throwing for my husband.
No it wasn't any of those landmark birthdays but just one between them. Everybody throws landmark ones but the fun is in those in-between ones, and in those 'No-Reason Parties'.
As for every party, I need to create something new, I made these Nutty Paneer Bites and rolled them inside strips of grilled red and yellow capsicum/bell peppers and tied them together with beautiful chives and grilled them in the oven till light spots appeared. Sadly, this is the one recipe I mentioned in my earlier post Cheesy Potato And Chive Scones that almost labelled me a copy-cat without being one.


nutty paneer bites with mint chutney
Adding nuts to this dish packs it with the micronutrients, macronutrients and antioxidants that we need for an healthy life.
Cashews contain a high level of oleic acid, present in olive oil and other monounsaturated fats, that is good for the cardiovascular health.
Just 1/4th cup of cashews everyday :
.Can give you approx 35 to 40% of the daily requirement of copper which helps in absorption of iron
 in the body and is known to reduce colon related illnesses, osteoporosis and has many more benefits.
.Can give approx. 25% of the daily Magnesium requirement that helps to balance the calcium and
 regulates nerve and muscle tone.
.Though, they do contain oxalates which are known to interfere with calcium absorption if the oxalates
 become concentrated in the body fluids, a good amount of chewing and relaxation can help in calcium
 absorption.

Almonds contain vitamin E and are also known for keeping the blood sugar under control.
Almond skins contain flavonoids. Both together increase the resistance of the low density lipo-proteins(LDL) to oxidation. They also contain magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, vitamin B2 and many other nutrients.

Ingredients:
.Paneer(cottage cheese) slab........400g

For the marinade:
.Cashew nuts.................................3Tbsp., chopped
.Almonds.......................................3Tbsp., chopped
.Pistachio nuts...............................3Tbsp., chopped
.Green chili....................................1/2tsp., finely chopped
.Coriander leaves...........................2Tbsp., finely chopped
.Garlic............................................1/2 tsp., finely chopped
.White vinegar................................2Tbsp.
.Salt................................................1 tsp.
.Red chili powder..........................1/2 tsp.
.Garam masala powder..................1/2 tsp.
.Dry raw mango powder................2 tsp.

Method:
.Rinse a store bought slab of fresh cottage cheese.

For the marinade:
.Mix the ingredients for the marinade.
.Cover the slab with this marinade so that all the paneer slab is well coated from all sides by the nuts.
.Marinate in the refrigerator for 7 to 8 hours or overnight.

How to proceed:
.Heat a griddle or a non-stick flat pan. Add 1 tsp. of oil.
.Gently place the paneer slab on the hot griddle.
.Cook on low to medium heat till the nuts are toasted.
.Repeat on all 6 sides.
.Remove on a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
.Cut into 1x2inch pieces and serve hot with mint chutney or set aside for use in other recipes(to follow).

nutty paneer bites
Note: .These nutty paneer bites can be used in a vegetable curry preparation or added to the fried rice or
 just eaten with a dip as a starter. It can be added to sandwiches and salads too.
.Wrap them in strips of roasted red bell pepper and tie it up together with chives and grill in a hot oven
 till brown spots start to appear.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

SAGO CRUSTED STUFFED CHILI CROQUETTES

I love sago-wada and I also love stuffed spicy chili.
So I decided to put them together into one preparation for one of my after-dinner parties. These parties are great when you don't feel like cooking an entire meal and yet want to have friends over and this snack just fits the bill. It is spicy just like the spicy conversation that continues through the night into the early hours of the morning. Or is perfect for a ladies-only party or at a tea party.

Sago wada is one of my favourites and is one dish that has to be included in my friend Meenal's menu if she is inviting me. I really don't care if I have eaten it just a few days ago or even on the same day. She makes the most fabulous ones. Like me she loves long beautiful spicy chilies. This dish has been created especially for her by me.

sago crusted stuffed chili croquettes
Sago is prepared from the starch extracted from the center of the tropical palm stems.
It is very high in Carbohydrate but other nutrients are almost negligible. It is used in puddings, papads, khichdi, croquettes and is used as a thickener.
Combining it with peanuts and other nuts and seeds, adds to it some nutritive value. However, when fried, like most starchy foods it tastes great.

Sago is used in the texile industry to size the fibre.

Chili on the other hand is rich in Vitamin C. Red chili which is the ripe fruit contains more Vitamin C and carotene than green and yellow chilies. They contain  most of  the B vitamins especially Vitamin B6 and are very rich sources of potassium, magnesium and iron. Adding chilies to the food not only adds the punch but also helps the digestive system to absorb the non-heme iron from beans and grains in the meal.

SAGO CRUSTED STUFFED CHILI CROQUETTES
Ingredients:
makes 6
.Long green chili...................3 slit and de-seeded
.Long red chili......................3 slit and de-seeded
                                       or
.Jalapeno or Pasilla or Anaheim or Fresno Pepper.........6 slit and de-seeded

For the stuffing in the chili:
.Potato................................100g or 1/2 cup, boiled and mashed
.Cottage cheese(paneer)......90-100g. approximately 1/2 cup, grated and tightly packed
.Peanuts...............................2 Tbsp. roasted and coarsely crushed
.Sesame seeds.....................1 Tbsp. toasted
.Coriander leaves.................2 Tbsp. finely chopped
.Green chili..........................1/2 tsp. finely chopped
.Ginger................................1/2 tsp. grated
.Dry raw mango powder......2 tsp.
.Red chili powder.................1 tsp.
.Garam masala powder.........1/4th tsp.
.Asafoetida powder..............1 smidgen (optional)
.Salt......................................to taste
.Lime juice............................1 tsp.

For the sago crust:
.Sago pearls..........................3 cups, small sized
.Potato..................................200g, boiled and mashed
.Peanuts................................6 Tbsp. roasted and coarsely crushed
.Sesame seeds.......................3Tbsp. toasted
.Coriander leaves..................1/4th cup, finely chopped and tightly packed
.Green chli............................1 tsp.
.Ginger.................................1 tsp. grated
.Red chili powder..................1 1/2 tsp.
.Garam masala powder.........1/2 tsp.
.Dry raw mango powder.......1 1/2 tsp.
.Salt......................................to taste, approximately 1 to 1 1/4th tsp.
.Spicy Coriander Dip............3 Tbsp.
Sago Crusted Stuffed Chili Croquettes

Method:
Getting ready for the recipe:
.Wash and soak sago pearls in luke warm water for atleast 5 to 6 hours to overnight or until double in
 size and crushes easily between fingers.
.Drain well and marinate 1 1/2 cup of the soaked sago pearls in the Spicy Coriander Dip for 15
 minutes.
.Set aside the remaining sago pearls in a plate for crusting the stuffed chili.
.Wash and boil the potatoes with skin in a pressure cooker.
.Mash, but do not mash into a mushy mix.
.Dry roast 1 cup skinless peanuts and coarsely powder them when cooled. Store in an airtight container
 until further use.
.Toast the sesame seeds required for the recipe.
.Prepare the Spicy Coriander Dip and store in the refrigerator until further use.
.If using homemade fresh Cottage cheese(paneer), prepare it ahead or grate the ready store bought
 cottage cheese and set aside.
.Chop the green chili and coriander leaves and grate the ginger and set aside.

 For the stuffing in the chili:
.Mix all the ingredients for the stuffing in a bowl and stuff into the slit chilies and set aside.

 stuffed chili croquettes(without sago crusting)
.For the outer covering:
.Put together in a large bowl, the boiled potato, marinated sago pearls, peanuts, sesame seeds,
 coriander leaves, green chilies, ginger, red chili powder garam masala powder, dry raw mango
 powder and salt to taste.
.Mix well and set aside.

How to proceed:
.Divide the potato mixture evenly and with wet palms spread the potato mixture for the outer covering
 onto the chili to cover it evenly from all sides, leaving the stem visible.
.Repeat with all the stuffed chilies and set aside in a plate for 10 minutes to air-dry.*

.Spread the remaining soaked sago pearls in a plate preferably in a single layer.
.Roll the stuffed and layered chili in the sago pearls to evenly crust them on all sides.
.Press lightly to fix the sago pearls onto the potato.

.Heat oil in a pan.
.Add a small piece of the mixture to check for temperature. The oil is ready when the piece rises to the
 top immediately but does not turn brown right away.
.Add one chili at a time or at the most 2*.
.Do not stir for 2 minutes. When it starts colouring flip* and cook on the other side, flipping often, till
 golden.
.Drain on a kitchen absorbent paper.
.Serve hot with Spicy Coriander Dip or Quick Red Hot Salsa or use my home made sour cream recipe
 that I use in my Burrito With Vegetable Filling.

Note:
*At this point the croquettes can be deep fried without the sago crusting if you like.
 Crusting with sago gives a very crisp crust that stays crisp longer than the uncrusted version.
*While adding the chili to the hot oil, dip the slotted ladle(preferably a flat one) in cold oil(to prevent
 the uncooked croquette from sticking to the ladle).
. Place the stuffed, crusted chili onto it and gently lower it into the oil. This prevents the splattering of
 oil and protects you. One at a time prevents the chilies from coming in each other's way while flipping.
*Flip often to get a crisp evenly coloured coating.
.Lower the heat while adding the chili to the hot oil.
.After adding the chili to the oil increase the heat to bring it back to the required temperature.
.Once the oil has reached the required frying temperature lower the heat to an even medium to hot
 range.
.If the oil is cold, the fried product will absorb a lot of oil.

Caution while using Chilies
Hands:
.When handling chilies try to wear gloves. If like me you too prefer bare hands be careful not to touch
 your face or eyes.
.In case while handling chilies, you do experience the fire in your hands DO NOT WASH them as
 water spreads the fire. Capsaicin, the fiery compound is not soluble in water so the best way to handle
 it is by turning it into a salt. In a bowl add 1 part of bleach to 5 parts of water and dip your hands
 quickly into it. .Do not keep for long as it may irritate the skin.
.Another solution that I often use is soaking my hands in a bowl of luke warm water to which I add 1
 Tbsp. of salt. My hands do burn for about 2 minutes but the burning subsides very quickly after that.

Mouth:
.Fats found in the dairy products are good for dissolving the Capsaicin compound and prevents some of
 the capsaicin molecules from finding the pain receptors on the tongue. It is the fat in the dairy products
 that is the magic ingredient, so do not use low-fat sour cream or low-fat yogurt as it will not help.