Creating a blog was out of the question for a long time for me, as measuring everything in the kitchen was like biting into an eggshell. I enjoy cooking and don’t want to waste even a slightest bit of enjoyment in that small world of mine. But little did I know that everything will change, when my husband came home with the Oscar nominated film ‘Julie and Julia’( a real life story) where Julie Powell (part played by Amy Adams) challenged herself to make all the 524 recipes from Julia Child's cook book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ and blogging all her experiences (The Julie/Julia Project). It was an inspiring movie. A few days later when we were discussing this casually with a friend of ours over tea…everything changed dramatically…..” How about you making at least half of it in one year? Not French but your own. 262 recipes that will inspire others and present it as a blog?” For a minute my mind traveled faster than light… With an experience as a helper in my mother in laws kitchen for 6 years followed by a three year everyday struggle to satisfy the palate of my foodie husband, if I cannot do it then why should I cook? But on the other side with an experience in English literature extending no more than expanding outline stories in English grammar class when I was 18 and two small kids that come in handy at times, will a commitment for the next one year work? Anyway my ‘cook's ego’ didn’t allow me to say no...

So my friends …here I am opening my recipe book, trying to perfect and present 262 recipes in the coming 365 days….A Challenge that will of course tastes good. Come.. Have a walk with me along my journey.. Cheering and inspiring….Forgiving and tolerating…Testing and tasting….for ‘A Tasty Challenge’

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cheese Puffs

Recipe No: 249
Visit to a Brazilian restaurant is something that I will never forget… with 13 different types of meat all grilled…all savory… and all with distinct flavors, carved in front of you... just for you...as much as you want... But before having this ‘Meat extravaganza’, one can eat anything from the salad bar which is bigger than the biggest buffet that I had ever seen and among them was this special Cheese Puffs. When most of the Cheese Puffs have Cheese in the batter, this one was special in the fact that the Cheese was inside the Puffs as a filling. We all enjoyed that delicious Cheese Puffs which encouraged me to recreate.
Ingredients                                          Makes 12
To make the Puffs
  • Milk……………………..............1/4 Cup
  • Salt………………………............1/8 Teaspoon (reduce the amount if using salted butter)
  • Pepper Powder……..............1/8 Teaspoon
  • Unsalted Butter………..........2 Tablespoons
  • All Purpose Flour/ Maida….1/4 Cup
  • Egg…………………………......….1
To make the Cheese filling
  • Cream……………………….........1/4 Cup
  • Grated Cheese………………......1/3 Cup (Use Cheese that melts like Mozzarella, Cheddar etc: I used Cheddar)
Method of Preparation
  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F/ 204˚C.
  2. Heat together Milk, Salt, Pepper Powder and Butter together in a sauce pan on medium low heat until the Butter is melted.
  3. Once melted, crank up the heat and let the mixture boil.
  4. Once boiled, add the Flour all at once and mix really well as fast as possible. Continue this until the Flour comes together as one mass.
  5. Transfer this to a food processor and pulse it together with an Egg until really smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor use an egg beater, or you can do this with a hand whisk, but it is a bit tedious.)
  6. Transfer the mixture to a small Zip Lock bag.
  7. Cut one corner of the Zip Lock bag and pipe the mixture (in circular motion) as a mount onto an oiled baking tray. Press the tip slightly with a wet finger to make it flat. (or the tip will burn in the oven.)
  8. Bake it in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes (Don’t peak during this time.)  or until it is all puffed up and golden brown on top. 
  9. Switch off the oven and let the puffs sit in the oven for 3 minutes. These puffs will be hollow inside.
  10. Once out, fill it with the Cheese mixture.
To make the Cheese filling
  1. Heat Cream and Cheese until the Cheese is melted thoroughly. Add Salt and Pepper if you prefer. Transfer this to a sauce bottle.
To fill the Puffs
  1. With the tip of the sauce bottle make a small incision on one side of the Puffs and squeeze the bottle to fill the inner hollow part with some of the sauce.
  2. Repeat this process with the rest of the Puffs and serve it warm with a cup of Tea.
Notes:
  • Once the Flour is added to the Milk mixture, do mix it immediately to combine without lumps.
  • It is very important to maintain the temperature while the Puffs are baking. So don’t peak at all. Sudden changes in the temperature will lead the Puffs to fall. If you want to see the Puffs, do switch on the light and take a peek through the glass door (if possible) or wait for at least 17 minutes to open the door (slightly) to peak. Letting the puffs sit in the hot oven itself, after baking, for sometime will avoid the Puffs from falling.
  • While making Cheese sauce, you can substitute Cream with Milk and a pinch of Corn Starch/Corn Flour.
  • You can make the Puffs in advance, but do fill it just before serving. But don’t forget to reheat the Puffs by keeping in the hot oven for a few minutes before filling and serving.
 


Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…

Friday, April 29, 2011

Baked Chicken Parcels

Recipe No: 248
This is one of the best ways to use left over Keema. It is a very easy to make snack and the pastry/ covering, even though very different from Puff pastry, resembles it a lot being on the flaky side…
Ingredients                                        Makes 10
To make the covering
  • All Purpose Flour/ Maida……2 Cups
  • Baking Powder…………………..1 Teaspoon
  • Salt……………………………….....1/4 Teaspoon
  • Egg…………………………………..1 beaten (Reserve 1 Tablespoon from this to brush the top of the parcels.)
  • Luke warm Water as needed
  • Soft Butter…………………….....2 Tablespoons
For the Filling
Method of Preparation
  1. Mix together Flour, Baking Powder and Salt really well.
  2. Add the Egg (don't forget to reserve a tablespoon) and make a soft dough using enough Luke warm Water. The dough should be smooth and soft.
  3. Cover it with a damp towel and keep aside for 15 minutes. By this time the dough will be softer.
  4. Roll it out into a 14 inch square.
  5. Apply the Butter on top of the dough and roll it up tightly into a cylinder.
  6. Wrap this rolled up dough in a plastic sheet or Aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes. (This will solidify the Butter)
  7. Preheat the oven to 350˚F/ 180˚C.
  8. Cut the chilled dough into 10 equal portions.
  9. Press one portion of the dough slightly and roll it out into 5-5 ½ inch circle. The outer portions of the dough should be thin otherwise the underside of the Parcels , where all the dough from the sides meet, will be thick.
  10. Place a big Tablespoon of filling (Chicken Keema) in the middle, leaving some space along the sides.
  11. Fold the outer edges and pinch them together so that the filling is secured inside. (Take care not to gather up a lot of dough from the sides, which can make that  portion very thick.)
  12. Place this parcels seam side down and press slightly to make a 3 – 3 ½ inch circle. Repeat with all the other portions.
  13. Place this, seam side down, on an oiled baking tray; brush the leftover Egg on top evenly and bake for about 25- 30 minutes or till the parcels are golden brown.
  14. Serve hot with ketchup.
Notes:
  • Chilling the dough is very essential as it will solidify the Butter and the solid Butter when hits the hot oven releases vapor making the pastry flaky. (Solid butter pieces can be seen while rolling the chilled dough.)
  • The dough can be made earlier and refrigerated for about a day or two. You can just roll it out and make the snack when ever needed, making it good for parties.
  • You can use the filling of your choice to make this snack. If you are using left over Chicken Keema remove the big Potato pieces before using.







Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and
serve it to your family with love…

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kuzhalappam

Recipe No: 247
This is one of those ever loving snack my Mother used to make. I  just have no idea how many times me and my brothers fought over it when my Mother accidentally gave one or two more to the other person. So to avoid this ‘war’ she used to count when she served them… but still me being the youngest and the only daughter who was born 9 and 10 years younger to my brothers, my Father always had a soft corner to me (well, only in restricted number of things and food being one of them!!) and exploiting the situation, I used to ask him for more and get it from him… I am not forgetting the immense amount of teasing that I received from my brothers on behalf of the same… but who cares when it is for this delicious Kuzhalappam.

After all these years, now at my home things are not a lot different… My effort for 3 hours will be over in less than 30 minutes if my daughter and husband see this Kuzhalappam sitting ‘ideally’ somewhere!! So making Kuzhalappam always improved my skills to hide stuffs around home... well this time I was making sure that I got a good click of that Kuzhalappam in my computer when the contents of that bowl simply disappeared...with those two lurking around!!!
Ingredients
  • Rice Flour………………….…1 ½ Cup (I used ready made)
  • Sesame Seeds…………….…3/4 Teaspoon
  • Boiling water as needed
  • Salt as needed
  • Oil for deep frying
To Grind
  • Grated Coconut…………….1/4 Cup (I used desiccated, which is grated very small)
  • Shallots……………………….4
  • Garlic………………………….1 big clove
  • Cumin Seeds………………..1/4 Teaspoon
Method of Preparation
  1. Grind all the ingredients in the ‘to grind’ section into a smooth paste using enough Water to make the blender run. (Well Cumin, Shallots and Garlic have to be smooth but the presence of very small Coconut grains is okay.) Do rinse the blender jar and get all the goodness out. (I used ½ Cup Water including the Water I used to rinse the jar.)
  2. In a pan on medium low heat fry the Rice Flour for 4-5 minutes or till it is nicely toasted. (To a Puttupodi consistency)
  3. Add the ground Shallot Coconut mixture together with the liquid (that we got by rinsing); mix well and let it heat through for 30 -45 seconds before switching it off.
  4. Once  the heat is off, mix in Sesame Seeds and enough Salt.
  5. Add enough boiling Water and mix with a spatula. (Don’t use too much Water at this stage as too much Water will make it hard to work with and we can add more Water  later if needed.)
  6. Once this Rice mixture is cold enough to handle, knead it really well (use more Water if needed) into a soft dough. To know whether the dough is soft enough, take a small amount of dough; roll into a ball and press to flatten it. If it cracks too much along the edges it is not soft enough.
  7. Now make small balls with a size of a marble out of the dough. Work in small quantities as the balls will dry off pretty fast. Cover it with a damp paper towel.
  8. Place a ball in between two lightly oiled plastic sheets (cut all the 4 sides of a Zip Lock bag for plastic sheets or use oiled Plantain leaf pieces instead) on a flat surface and press with another flat surface (flat bottoms of two plates will work).
  9. Remove the flattened Rice sheet from the plastic wrap and shape it into a Kuzhalappam with the help of a rod (at home my mom uses small round Papaya stems) or your lightly oiled finger. Do take care to press and seal the edges properly or it will open up in the hot Oil.
  10. Arrange this in a plate till ready to be fried.
  11. Heat Oil in a pan on medium heat till hot; drop the prepared Kuzhalappam and fry till crispy. Do stir in between to fry them evenly.
  12. Once crispy, take them out of the oil and drain the excess Oil on a Paper towel.
  13. Store in airtight containers and serve at room temperature.
Notes:
  • I used the regular store bought Rice flour that is usually finely ground,  which is essential for Kuzhalappam (Coarsely ground Flour is not good); it doesn’t have to be any particular brand.
  • It is very uncomfortable to grind Shallots, Garlic and Cumin alone due to the unpleasant fumes from the Shallots and hence I add the Coconut too (the presence of Coconut will reduce the uncomfortable fumes). If it is possible for you to grate Coconut very finely, then you can add it just like that. But if you have doubt that there are big pieces, do grind it like in the recipe.
  • I used unsweetened dry desiccated Coconut, but that worked very well.
  • Once the dough is made, always keep it covered with a damp paper towel until it reaches the hot Oil to prevent from drying.
  • While working in batches keep the remaining dough covered in a damp towel and don't forget to give it a quick knead before using it.
  • Don’t keep the shaped Kuzhalappam like that for long; do fry them as soon as possible. You can always work side by side. I fry 10-15 of them while I shape the next 10-15. But if you cannot work like that, do make and fry them in batches.
  • Don’t crank up the heat as it will make the Kuzhalappam brown fast without making it crispy.
  • Please don't overcrowd the pan while frying Kuzhalappams. 
  • Kuzhalappams, like most of the other fried snacks will slowly loose its crispiness if kept open (like when we serve it to guests) for a long time. So if there are leftovers from plating, keep them in another container and don't keep it back in the original container with the bulk of the Kuzhalappam. This will help the bulk of it  to stay fresh and crispy.






Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and
serve it to your family with love…

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kerala Churuttu (Thin Flour Sheets with sweetened Rice filling)

Recipe No: 246
 This is a traditional Christian snack/ dessert common in the Kottayam region of Kerala and happened to be one of my favorites. When I came to Thiruvananthapuram after marriage this was one snack that I missed a lot. The filling is sweetened Avalose Podi but the trickier part is the skin, also called ‘Mandaka’, (funny name but I don’t know its origin) which is a very thin sheet made with Maida/ All purpose Flour. If the skin is not thin then you won’t get the almost transparent effect which is very characteristic of Churuttu. Let me try to explain to the best of my ability how this ‘endangered’ traditional sweet is made.
To make the filling
  • Avalose Podi……………...1 1/4 Cup (For recipe click here)
  • Sugar……………………….1 Cup
  • Water………………………1/3 Cup
  • Lemon/ Lime Juice..….1 Teaspoon
  • Cardamom Powder…..1/8 Teaspoon
To make the Covering/ Mandaka
  • Maida……………………....1/2 Cup
  • Salt a pinch
  • Water as needed
  • Oil and Flour as needed
To make the Sugar syrup
  • Sugar……………………….1/3 Cup
  • Water………………………3 Tablespoons
Method of Preparation
To make the Filling
  1. Heat 1 cup Sugar with 1/3 Cup Water to a one thread consistency.
  2. Add the Lemon juice and mix well.
  3. Add Avalose Podi and the Cardamom Powder; mix well; switch off the heat and keep aside till it cools a bit.
To make the Sugar Syrup
  1. Mix 1/3 Cup Sugar and 3 Tablespoons of Water; boil till it attains a one thread consistency. Keep aside till ready to be used. (This will give the stickiness and moisture to the Covering/ Mandaka while assembling the Churuttu)
To make the Covering/ Mandaka
  1. Mix Flour and Salt and make a very soft dough using enough Water. (This should be softer than Puri dough.)
  2. Let it rest for 30 minutes. By this time the dough will become more soft and stretchy.
  3. Take two balls which are a bit bigger in size as that of a marble and roll out into 3 inch circles.
  4. Spread some Oil evenly on top of one piece of rolled dough; sprinkle some Flour on top and cover with the second piece of dough.
  5. Roll out this layered dough as thin as possible and keep aside till you finish doing the rest.
  6. Cut out circles as big as possible from the rolled out dough, taking care to avoid the edges where the dough may not be overlapped, as those portion tends to be thick. (You can use the leftover dough to make more of these covering.)
  7. Heat a thawa/ flat pan on medium low heat and partially cook the rolled out dough on both sides. (Don’t let it brown.) Once cooked, it will bubble up revealing the two layers.
  8. At this point take it out and separate the two layers. This will give you the thinnest possible Covering/ Mandaka to make Churuttu. (This is only partially cooked, but we will cook it again later.)
  9. Once all the dough coverings are semi cooked and separated, place the semicooked Flour sheets one by one  on the hot pan and cook on both sides again. This will slightly toast the Mandaka, which will later make the covering of Churuttu crispy.
  10. Once cooked, cut it into two so that you get two semicircles out of one sheet. (You can make all of them and then start assembling the Churuttu, but I prefer to do it side by side as the Covering/ Mandaka had a tendency to become crispy after the second cooking. If it becomes crispy before making the Churuttu, it may crack when you make the cone.)
To make the Churuttu
  1. Pour the prepared Sugar Syrup in a plate.
  2. Dip one side of Mandaka in the Syrup and let the extra syrup drip off.
  3. Make a cone by overlapping the two halves of the straight side of the semicircle.
  4. Stuff the cone with some of the prepared filling (Don’t overfill) and press the edges together using three fingers so that the signature three spiked pattern is formed. (The edges will stick together due to the presence of the Sugar Syrup. Please refer the pictures to understand more.)
  5. Repeat the same process with the rest and serve at room temperature.
Notes:
  • To know whether the Sugar Syrup reached a one thread consistency, touch the Syrup and press it between the index finger and the thumb. If it forms one thread without breaking fast, then that is a one thread consistency.
  • Lemon Juice will prevent the crystallization of Sugar which is very important in this dish.
  • The covering should be as thin as possible so that it will slightly crisp up once made. This will also help the Sugar Syrup penetrate the skin making it moist.
  • It is easier to make Churuttu if  Mandaka and the Syrup are still warm.
  • Churuttu tastes the best after two or more days.
  • It will stay good for at least two weeks at room temperature. Don't refrigerate Churuttu as it  crystallizes the Sugar, destroying its texture.




Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and
serve it to your family with love…

Monday, April 25, 2011

Plum Cake

Recipe No: 245
I have mentioned about ‘Ann’s Bakery’ many times in my posts. It is the only bakery in my neighborhood that sells both Fruit and Plum Cakes. Usually those two names are used as synonyms, but Ann’s Fruit and Plum Cakes are very different. I like their concept of using all type of Fruits for Fruit Cakes but only Plums for Plum Cakes. The taste and texture of both of these are different. As per my recipes, Fruit Cakes have to sit and age for perfection as it uses Brandy, this doesn’t need that treatment. (I don't use Brandy for this, but if you want, you can too). Even though this is good to go on the day of baking itself, it is better from the 2nd day onwards.
Ingredients                                  Makes 2, 6 inch cakes
To make the Plum Puree
  • Dried Plums………………………..12
  • Water…………………………………1/2 Cup
To make the Caramel
  • Sugar………………………………….1/2 Cup
  • Hot Water…………………………..1/4 Cup
To make the Cake
  • All Purpose Flour………………….1 ¼ Cups
  • Baking Powder…………………….3/4 Teaspoon
  • Baking Soda…………………………1/2 Teaspoon
  • Salt……………………………………..1/4 Teaspoon (Avoid if you are using salted Butter)
  • Dry Ginger/ Chukku Powder...1/4 Teaspoon
  • Cardamom Powder…………….…1/4 Teaspoon
  • Cloves Powder………………………1/4 Teaspoon
  • Cinnamon Powder………………..1/4 Teaspoon
  • Nutmeg Powder…………………...1/4 Teaspoon
  • Caraway Seeds/ Cake Jeera…..1/2 Teaspoon
  • Unsalted Butter…………………...1/2 Cup/ 1 stick
  • Vegetable Oil……………………….3 Tablespoons
  • Sugar………………………………....3/4 Cup
  • Eggs………………………………...…3
  • Vanilla Extract……………….......1 Teaspoon
  • Dried Plums Chopped..………...1 Cup
  • Toasted Cashew Nuts……........1/2 Cup (chopped)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of Flour to coat the Plums and Cashew Nuts
Method of Preparation
To make the Plum Puree
  1. Boil 12 Plums in ½ Cup Water. Once boiled, reduce the heat to low and let it cook for 3 minutes. Switch off the heat and let it cool.
  2. Once cooled, blend the Plums together with the cooking liquid in a blender to a very smooth consistency. (Use 2-3 Tablespoons of Brandy if you want while pureeing.) Keep it aside till ready to be used.
To make the Caramel Syrup
  1. Heat Sugar with a Tablespoon of Water in a thick bottomed sauce pan on medium low heat till it become amber colored Caramel.
  2. Add boiled Water and let the Sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and let it cool down completely before using.
To make the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F/ 180˚C.
  2. Put a parchment paper and apply a thin layer of Butter on two 6 inch cake pans and spread some Flour. Do dust the extra Flour off. Instead of this you can use cooking spray.
  3. Sift together Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Dry Ginger Powder, Cardamom Powder, Cloves Powder, Cinnamon Powder, Nutmeg Powder and Salt really well. Once sifted, mix in the Caraway Seeds. Keep aside till ready to be used.
  4. Beat together Butter, Oil, Sugar and Vanilla Essence till light and fluffy.
  5. Add Eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
  6. Mix in the Plum Puree and the prepared Carmel to the Butter - Egg mixture. (At this point the batter may look all curdled; but believe me it will be fine.)
  7. Stop beating and fold/ gently mix in the Flour mixture to the Batter. (Don’t over mix.)
  8. Toss the chopped Plum and Cashew nuts with 1 ½ Tablespoons of Flour thoroughly and mix them with the Cake batter.
  9. Divide and pour them equally among the two prepared Cake pans and level the top off.
  10. Bake them in the middle of the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted in the middle of the Cake comes out clean.
  11. Let it cool down for 10 minutes before taking out of the pan.
  12. Cut and serve at room temperature. Store the Cake covered with Aluminum foil.
Notes:
  • You can use Canola Oil instead of Vegetable Oil; the addition of the Oil will make the Cake moist.
  • Don’t avoid Cashew Nuts as the crunch is really good in this recipe.
  • If you don't have spice powders, please grind  whole spices and use.
  • Don't avoid Caraway seeds as it gives a signature flavor to Fruit and Plum Cakes.
  • While making the Caramel, don’t stir the Sugar, as stirring makes the Caramel gritty. But do swirl the pan often. Once the Sugar is caramelized, you can stir.
  • Adding hot Water to the Caramel will dissolve the Sugar fast. If it is cold Water, the Caramel will solidify and it will take a long time to dissolve.
  • Adding Water (hot or cold) to the Caramel results in bubbling up of the hot liquid. (It is very hot as Caramel  is formed only at high temperatures.) So do take care while doing this.
  • Over mixing the batter after the addition of Flour will develop  Gluten in the Flour which in turn makes the Cake tough.
  • Tossing Plums and Nuts with the Flour will separate the otherwise sticky Plums and prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the Cake.
  • Do chop the Plums small or it may sink to the bottom due to their weight.
  • Don’t open the oven while the cake is baking because sudden temperature changes may lead to the falling of the Cakes. (sinking in the middle)
  • Do insert a toothpick only if the top of the cake feels cooked. If you do it before it  is almost cooked,  the Cake may fall in that area.
  • This Cake will stay good at room temperature for a few days; so please don’t refrigerate. But on the other hand it freezes well too. But once thawed, don’t refreeze or  refrigerate.
  • If you want to use Brandy, add 2-3 Tablespoons while grinding the cooked Plums. Also drizzle 2-3 Tablespoons when the Cake is out of the oven and still warm. In this case the Cake will be good after a week or so.
 



Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…

Friday, April 22, 2011

Achingapayar/ String Beans, Kizhangu/ Potato Mezhukkupuratti

Recipe No: 244
This is one of my favorite combinations… why? Well, being crazy about Potatoes, my kids  will eat the Beans while trying to get more Potatoes… This is a combo that I saw during a fellowship in our Church and was amazed to see how kids were enjoying it. It became very frequent in my household ever since. It is very simple, but I want to show the combination and if it make your kids eat Beans well, that’s a bonus too…
Ingredients                                         Serves 6-8
  • Achingapayar/ String Beans….350 grams (cut into 1 ½ inch pieces; about 3 cups)
  • Potato…………………………………250 grams/ 2 small ones (cut into 1 ½ inch pieces)
  • Turmeric Powder…………………1/2 Teaspoon
  • Crushed Dry Red Chilly……....1/2 - 1 Teaspoon (alternatively use ¼ Teaspoon Red Chilly Powder)
  • Oil……………………………………..2-3 Tablespoons
  • Mustard Seeds.......................1/2 Teaspoon
  • Shallots crushed………………...1/2 Cup
  • Garlic crushed………………..….6 Big cloves
  • Curry Leaves...…………….……..2 sprigs
  • Salt as needed
Method of Preparation
  1. Mix together Beans, Potato, Turmeric Powder, Red Chilly Powder/ Crushed Red Chilly and Salt together with ½ cup Water and cook on a medium flame in a wide pan till everything is cooked and the Water has evaporated. Switch off the heat (let them cool completely.) and keep aside till ready to be used.
  2. Heat Oil in another wide pan and splutter the Mustard Seeds.
  3. Saute crushed Shallots, Garlic and Curry Leaves until wilted and add the precooked Beans and Potato.
  4. Mix well gently and over a medium flame let it fry to a desired level. Don’t stir too much, but do turn it over once in a while to ensure even browning. If you know how to toss (without stirring) that will keep the Potatoes intact.
  5. Serve hot/ warm with rice.
Notes:
  • Cooking the Beans and Potatoes in a wide pan will ensure even cooking, without breaking the Potatoes. (If using a deep pan you will have to stir more to get everything cooked which may break the Potatoes.)
  • Don’t overcook the Beans and Potatoes or the Potatoes will break very easily while frying and will make the stir fry mushy.
  • Don't use a very high flame to fry; it will burn the Potatoes and Beans without evenly frying them.
  • Use more Oil if necessary, but if using a good non stick pan or a seasoned wok that won’t be necessary.
  • You can store the cooked Beans and Potatoes in the refrigerator and fry them only when necessary.
  • Potatoes will withstand breaking more if you fry them after cooling. (So frying it after refrigeration is better.)







Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…

Pal Kanji (Rice Gruel/ Conjee with Coconut Milk)

Recipe No: 243
Kanji, Payar (Green Gram stir fried with Coconut), Pappadam and Achar (Pickle) is the usual Good Friday lunch, that is mostly served in the Church itself, after the long Good Friday service. But in some churches they put freshly grated Coconut into the Kanji and sometimes even Coconut Milk. My Mother used to make Pal Kanji at times with either regular Cow’s Milk or with Coconut Milk and I am a great fan of the later. So here is Pal Kanji…. It’s delicious all by itself, great with a side of Pappadam, excellent with the addition of Payar and awesome if Chammanthi is included… It doesn’t have to be Good Friday… just any day is fine for this….
Ingredients                                                Serves 3
  • Matta Rice……………………1/2 Cup (Red Parboiled Rice)
  • Water…………………………..4 Cups
  • Freshly grated Coconut…1/2 Cup (Frozen is okay, but don’t use desiccated)
  • Thick Coconut Milk……...1 ½ Cup (Dilute with some Water if you are using really thick Milk from a can)
  • Salt as needed
Method of Preparation
  1. Wash the Rice thoroughly and cook it together with the Water in a Pressure cooker till done. (It took 3 whistles in my cooker.)
  2. Once the Pressure is gone, open the lid and let it boil on medium heat. (If there is no Water remaining at all, do add ½ cup Water.)
  3. Add Salt, grated Coconut and Coconut Milk; let it boil on medium low heat, stirring often, for 5-8 minutes or till it is reduced to a consistency you need.
  4. Add more Salt if needed; switch off the heat and let it sit covered for 10 minutes before serving it hot or warm with desired sides.
Notes:
  • You can use any Rice that you make regular Kanji, for this too. (White Par boiled Rice is fine.) But adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  • Don't cook the Rice to a mushy consistency in the cooker; the extend you cook the Rice to make regular boiled Rice is what we are looking for. It will finish cooking in the Coconut Milk.
  • Do give the resting period for Pal Kanji as mentioned in the recipe, for it is essential to cook the Rice to a 'Kanji' consistency.
  • Pal Kanji has a tendency to thicken as it sits. So if it becomes too thick by the time you serve, do add some hot Water to make it into the consistency you like.
  • The amount of Salt should be enough so that the Pal Kanji can be eaten as such without any sides.
 




Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Date and Nut Pastry

Recipe No: 242
I consider this as a cookie, but the way the dough is made closely resembles a pastry and hence the name. The Rose Essence in the recipe is what makes this so special and I have to say that this is one good cookie to eat with a glass of Black Coffee after a heavy dinner. With the tempting taste of Dates and Pistachios together with the lightly sweetened rose flavored pastry makes it a… well... in this case… you have to eat it to get what I am trying to describe...
Ingredients                                            Makes 18
To make the Pastry dough
  • All Purpose Flour/ Maida……1 Cup
  • Cold Butter…………………….….6 Tablespoons (unsweetened; cubed)
  • Sugar……………………………..…1/4 Cup
  • Baking Soda…………………….…1/8 Teaspoon
  • Salt……………………………….…..a pinch (Avoid if you are using salted Butter)
  • Rose Essence…………………..….1/3 Teaspoon (optional)
  • Cold Water…………………………3-4 Tablespoons
For the filling
  • Dates Chopped…………………..1 Cup
  • Water………………………….……1/4 Cup
  • Sugar……………………...……….3 Tablespoons
  • Toasted Pistachios……………..1/4 Cup (chopped)
Method of Preparation
To make the Covering/ Pastry
  1. In a Food Processor pulse together Flour, Sugar, Salt, Baking Soda, Rose Essence and Butter (cubed) for a few times till the Flour resembles wet sand or bread crumbs. (Don’t make it very fine; there should be small pieces of Butter left in the Flour.) Alternatively you can mix Butter into the Flour using your fingertips just like you would moisten the Flour for Puttu.
  2. Add 3-4 tablespoons of Water into the mixture to make a very crumbly dough. (At this stage the Flour will stick together if pressed but very crumbly.)
  3. Dump the dough onto a floured board/ work surface and pat all the dough mixture together into one mass; cover with a plastic or Aluminum foil and keep in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or till the filling is ready.
To make the Filling
  1. Heat chopped Dates, Sugar and Water or medium heat till the Sugar is melted and the Water is absorbed. Don’t make it too dry as this mixture will continue to tighten up as it cools.
  2. Mix in the chopped toasted Pistachios and let the mixture cool down thoroughly before filling the pastry.
To make and bake the Dates filled Pastry
  1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F/ 163˚C.
  2. Roll out the pastry into 1/8 inch thickness and with a round cookie cutter (use a lid of some bottle if you don’t have a cutter) make 18, 2 ½ inch circles.
  3. Divide the filling between these 18 round pastries taking care to place them in the lower half of the Pastry rounds.
  4. Take the rounds with the filling in your palms, and fold the pastry over the filling to cover it, by slightly pushing the filling inside and letting the tips of the dough touch each other. Seal the ends properly by pressing so that the filling is secure inside.
  5. Place it on a baking tray and continue with the rest.
  6. Bake the filled Pastry in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes. (The pastry should be slightly crispy, but not brown.)
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature with a glass of Black Coffee or Green Tea as a snack or as a dessert after dinner.
Notes:
  • While mixing Butter into the Flour, there should be small pieces of Butter left and don’t knead this dough too much as it will melt the Butter. Just pat the dough together and roll it out with a rolling pin. In a hot oven the small pieces of Butter will melt creating steam that will help the dough rise making it flaky, which is very essential for these type of pastries.
  • Apply Flour on the board/ work surface and the rolling pin to avoid the dough from sticking.
  • You can make this pastry without Rose Essence, but its addition gives a very special taste.
  • If in case the Date mixture is too tight when cold, do add a tablespoon or two of Water and heat again to loosen. Don’t make it very wet or it will be make the pastry  soggy when cooked.
  • Even though I used Pistachio, you can substitute it with  Almonds or Cashews (Don't use Peanuts) depending on the availability.
  • Let the Date mixture cool completely before filling the Pastry or the heat from the filling will melt the Butter in the pastry.
  • The size of the pastry rounds shouldn't have to be 2 1/2 inches; make it as big or as small as you want.
  • There is no need to use Water or any sticking agent to seal the pastry, as the pastry dough is sticky and will stick together just by pressing.
  • The low temperature setting of the oven will crisp up the pastry without browning  it too much.
  • Store the leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature. Don’t refrigerate.
 





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Monday, April 18, 2011

Paneer Masala

Recipe No: 241
Ingredients                                                   Serves 3
  • Paneer……………….............4 oz/ 200 grams
  • Oil…………………….............2 Tablespoons
  • Turmeric Powder…..........1/4 Teaspoon
  • Red Chilly Powder…........1 Teaspoon
  • Coriander Powder…........1 ½ Teaspoons
  • Garam Masala Powder….1/2 Teaspoon
  • Heavy Cream…………….…1/2 Cup
  • Kasoori Methi……………...1 Teaspoon
  • Coriander leaves………….2 Tablespoons chopped
  • Salt as needed
To blend
  • Shallots sliced………..........1/2 Cup
  • Ginger Garlic paste….......1 Teaspoon
  • Almonds…………………......15
  • Tomato chopped……........1/2 cup (I don’t use the seeds; it will increase the sourness)
Method of Preparation
  1. Blend all the ingredients given in the ‘to blend’ section into a smooth paste using ¼ cup Water and keep aside till ready to be used.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of Oil in a pan on medium high heat and fry the Paneer;  take them out; drain the excess Oil on a paper towel and keep them aside till ready to be used.
  3. Add the rest of the Oil to the pan and saute the ground ingredients together with Turmeric Powder, Red Chilly Powder, Coriander Powder and Garam Masala Powder till Oil oozes out. (As we are not using too much Oil we can see only small droplets of Oil here and there.) Do stir continuously once the Masala starts to stick to the bottom.
  4. Add 1 ½ Cups Water and Salt; let it boil thoroughly before adding the fried Paneer. Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes or till the gravy is reduced considerably. (Oil will float on top of the gravy when it is ready.)
  5. Add Cream, Kasoori Methi (Do crush it between your palms) and Coriander Leaves. Add more Salt if necessary.
  6. Mix well and let it start to simmer along the edges before switching it off.
  7. Serve hot/ warm with Rice or any Indian style Flat breads.
Notes:
  • It will be easy to grind the Almonds if you soak them in Warm Water. So I add Water together with the Almonds in the blender 10 minutes before adding all the other ingredients for grinding.
  • Paneer will absorb only less Oil if fried in slabs rather than in cubes.
  • Frying the Masala till the Oil oozes out is very important as it eliminates the raw taste and also gives a good flavor to the Curry.
  • This curry tends to become thick as it sits. Keep that in mind while you adjust the level of the gravy. If in case it becomes thick add some hot Water to loosen it.
  • Don’t avoid Kasoori Methi as it gives a special flavor that compliments Paneer very well  and are available in most of the Indian stores.
  • In this recipe, I don't take skin off the Almonds as (I think) it adds to the color of the gravy.
 





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Soya Chunks Roast

Recipe No: 240
Soy Chunks are one of the best protein substitutes for vegetarians. This is a byproduct from the extraction of Soy Bean Oil and hence a fat free substance. The trick in making delicious Soya chunks is to get rid of the processed flavor by soaking in boiling Water and squeezing them thoroughly.
Ingredients                                     Serves 3
  • Dry Soya Chunks…………3/4 Cup
To Grind
  • Shallots……………………….3 big sliced
  • Ginger Garlic Paste………1 Teaspoon
  • Red Chilly Powder….…….1/2 Teaspoon
  • Coriander Powder……...…1 Teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder………….1/4 Teaspoon
  • Pepper Powder……………..1/4 Teaspoon
  • Garam Masala Powder….1/2 Teaspoon
  • Vinegar………………….…….1 Teaspoon
  • Salt as needed
To Saute
  • Coconut Oil………………….2 Tablespoons
  • Ghee…………………………...1 Teaspoon
  • Onion sliced thin…….…….1 cup
  • Curry Leaves……………….2 Sprigs
  • Coconut Milk…….…………3 Tablespoons
  • ½ teaspoon Coconut Oil, ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder and a sprig of Curry Leaf to sprinkle on top.
Method of Preparation
  1. Heat 6 Cups of Water in a pan. When boiled, add the dry Soya Chunks and let it boil for about 3 minutes. Off the heat and let it stay closed for ½ hour.
  2. Drain the Soya Chunks and wash them in cold Water. Squeeze thoroughly and repeat this washing in cold Water and squeezing the Water out for at least 3 times. Keep the washed and squeezed Soy chunks aside till ready to be used.
  3. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in the ‘to grind’ section into a smooth paste.
  4. Marinate the prepared Soy Chunks with half of the ground paste. Keep the rest for later use.
  5. Heat a tablespoon of Oil in a pan on medium high heat and shallow fry the marinated Soy Chunks for about 5 minutes or till it starts to brown here and there. (This will take some time as the Water in the Soy Chunks will ooze out before getting brown.)
  6. Take the Soy Chunks out of the pan and add the rest of the Oil and Ghee.
  7. Add Onion and Curry Leaves; saute till the Onion is slightly browned.
  8. Add the left over ground mixture and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes stirring constantly. (This step will decide the color of the Roast.)
  9. Add ½ Cup Water and the fried Soy Chunks and stir continuously till all the Water is absorbed. Add more Salt if needed at this stage.
  10. Add Coconut Milk and continue sauteing till the liquid part is all absorbed and the roast is kind of dry.
  11. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon Coconut Oil, ¼ Teaspoon Garam Masala Powder and a sprig of Curry Leaf on top of the roast; switch off the heat and let it sit covered for 20 minutes before serving it warm with Rice or Chappathi.
Notes:
  • Soy Chunk is like a sponge and hence you have to squeeze the Water out of the Chunks thoroughly in order for them to absorb the flavors from the recipe.
  • Don’t add more than a tablespoon of Oil when you fry the marinated Soy Chunks as it will absorb almost all the Oil no matter how much you put.
  • Frying the Soy Chunks first will take away most of the Water out so that it can absorb the flavors from the gravy; so don't avoid the shallow frying step.
  • Fried Coconut pieces will be a great addition in this recipe.
  • Some brands of Soy Chucks  are really big; in that case, do cut them into two.
     


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    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Pacha Theenga Aracha Meen Curry (Fish in ground Coconut Sauce)

    Recipe No: 239
    Ingredients                                        Serves 4
    • Fish……………………………..1/2 Kg (Cleaned and cut into pieces)
    • Coconut Oil………………....2 Tablespoons
    • Onion sliced thin…………..1 Cup
    • Ginger sliced thin…………2 Tablespoons
    • Indian Green Chilly……..4; slit into two
    • Curry Leaves……………….2 Sprigs
    • Turmeric Powder…………1/4 Teaspoon
    • Red Chilly Powder……….2 Teaspoons
    • Coriander Powder……….2 ½ Teaspoons
    • Tomato……………………….1 small sliced
    • Tamarind…………………...1 small piece
    • Salt as needed
    • 1 teaspoon of Coconut Oil and a sprig of Curry Leaves to sprinkle on top
    To grind into a paste
    • Grated Coconut…………….3/4 Cup (unsweetened)
    • Garlic………………………….2 Big pieces
    • Ginger…………………………1 small piece
    • Shallots…………………….…2 big ones
    • Cumin Powder………….… 1/3 Teaspoon
    • Turmeric Powder…….…..1/2 Teaspoon
    Method of Preparation
    1. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in the ‘to grind’ section into a smooth consistency using minimum Water (up to 1 cup is fine in a blender) and keep aside till ready to be used.
    2. Heat Coconut Oil in a Chatti (an earthen cooking vessel)/ pan on medium heat and saute Onion, Ginger, Green Chilly and Curry Leaves till translucent.
    3. Add Turmeric Powder, Red Chilly Powder and Coriander Powder and saute till the raw smell is gone for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
    4. Add Tomato followed by Salt and 1 ½ cups Water; close the pan and let it Boil on high heat.
    5. Once boiled, add the Fish and let it cook on medium heat till half done.
    6. Add the ground Coconut paste and let it finish cooking and the gravy becomes thick and reduced to a desired consistency. (Oil will start to float on top at this stage.)
    7. Squeeze Tamarind in ¼ cup Water and add its juice into the cooked fish. (Discard the undissolved portions of the Tamarind.)
    8. Swirl the pan to mix and do a taste test. Add more Salt if needed.
    9. Switch off the heat; pour some Coconut Oil on top followed by some torn Curry Leaves; close the pan and let it sit for 20 minutes before serving.
    Notes:
    • Instead of using Tamarind you can use Kokum/ Kudampuli too. It gives a very unique flavor to the curry. (I tasted it from a friend of mine and it tasted awesome. Now at times I make this curry with Kokum too.)  I should say this same Curry made with Tamarind and Kokum tastes different. Kokum is available in most of the Indian stores.
    • If you are using Kokum instead of Tamarind, add 2-3 pieces of Kokum into the Curry before adding the Fish.
    • Don’t add  the Tamarind Juice all at once. Do add bit by bit and adjust the sourness according to your taste.
    • Don’t stir the Curry after adding the Fish; but swirl the pan at times to avoid the Fish from sticking to the bottom.
    • This curry tends to become thick as it sits; keep this in mind when you adjust the level of gravy.
    • The resting period at the end is important as the elders call it 'Pathrapakam' meaning the time the dish should sit in its cooking vessel for maximum taste.
    • This Curry tastes the best if you use grated Coconut from a fresh Coconut.
     




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    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Palpayasam and Boli

    Recipe No: 238
    Palpayasam
    This is a very easy Pressure Cooker version of Palpayasam, with dominating Milk flavor. The emphasis should be on the color and consistency of the Milk portion that is slightly pink, which is attained when Milk is reduced slowly. There is no Ghee or fried fruits or Nuts in this version, but still extremely tasty. Traditionally during Sadhya this is served over Boli.
    Ingredients                                         Serves 8
    • White Rice……...1/3 Cup (Pachari/ White long grain Rice)
    • Sugar…………….1 Cup
    • Milk……………...1 Liter (4 ½ Cups)
    • Cardamom…….6 whole pods cracked open (No need to powder)
    Method of Preparation
    1. Put all the ingredients together in a clean pressure cooker; stir well (yes, it is important to stir or the bottom of the Cooker will be a mess when you open.) and put on medium high heat.
    2. Just before the first whistle (at the time when pressure starts to escape slightly with a small noise) lower the temperature to the possible minimum and cook for 45 minutes.
    3. After 45 minutes, off the pressure cooker and let it stay closed for 30-40 minutes.
    4. Open it and serve the Palpayasam hot, warm or cold.
    Notes:
    • One very important thing to be mentioned here is the cleanliness of the Pressure Cooker, especially if you use the same cooker to cook everything. Slightest presence of Salt or other debris from the last cooking will curdle the Milk. So the safest way  is to use the cooker to make Rice before making Palpayasam, which will clean the cooker. If you don’t use Rice that has to be cooked in a cooker, please cook Rice without putting the weight or at least boil some Water to get the cooker clean.
    • The thickness of the Milk deserves mentioning. In US the Milk is thicker than in India. So I used 500 ml regular Milk and 500 ml. low fat/2% Milk. If you don’t have 2% Milk take out ½ cup Milk form the quantity mentioned and add Water (1/2 cup) instead.
    • If your Pressure cooker is new with its maximum power, do open the Pressure cooker as soon as the pressure is gone. By this time if the Milk is still very runny do boil it to reduce the liquid portion. Otherwise the Rice will be overcooked to a mushy consistency.
    • If in case  the consistency of the Milk is a bit loose when you open the cooker, do let it boil some more to attain the consistency you need, stirring constantly. (Don’t let the skin form on top.)  But take into consideration that the Palpayasam will thicken as it sits.
    • Don't let the pressure cooker whistle if possible; but by chance if it does once or twice that will not be a problem.
    • Do try to use fresh Milk as possible to reduce the chances of curdling.
    • Light Pink color is a characteristic of this Palpayasam and even though the pictures are not so good, do take a look at the Payasam plated on a white plate to see the color difference.
    • My favorite way to serve this is with Boli .
       





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        Boli
        This recipe is a modified version of what Dr. Lekshmi Nair presented in her show ‘Magic Oven’. As the amount given there was too much, I reduced it a lot and converted it into standard cup measurements. Here are the amounts and please follow the link to know the method of Preparation.



        Ingredients                                    Makes 12-15
        For the filling
        • Channa Dal…………………......1 Cup
        • Sugar………………………….......3/4 Cup
        • Nutmeg Powder………...........1/8 Teaspoon
        • Cardamom Powder…….........1/4 Teaspoon
        • Yellow Food Color……….......a pinch or a few drops
        For Making Bolis
        • All Purpose Flour/ Maida….3/4 Cup
        • Yellow Food Color…………….a pinch or a few drops
        • Oil……………………………………3 Tablespoons
        • Salt a pinch
        • Water as needed
        • Ghee as needed
        • Rice Flour as needed
        Method of Preparation
        To make the Filling
        1. Wash Channa Dal and cook it with 3 cups of Water in a pressure cooker. (Cook on high till one whistle; then lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes and then crank up the heat till one whistle.)
        2. Once the pressure is gone, drain the excess Water in the Dal thoroughly.
        3. Cook the Dal together with the Sugar and Yellow food color on medium heat till the melted Sugar (the Sugar will melt when it hits the heat) is all dried up.
        4. Add Nutmeg Powder and Cardamom Powder; mix well and switch off the heat.
        5. Let it cool down completely before grinding it thoroughly without any pieces in a food processor. Keep it aside till ready to be used.
        To make the dough for the covering
        1. Mix together Flour, Salt and Yellow Food Color and make a soft dough using enough Water. (The dough should be really soft; softer than a Poori dough)
        2. Keep it in a bowl and cover it with Oil (3 Tablespoons will be enough). The dough should be covered completely with the Oil. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
        To make the Bolis
        1. Divide the filling into 12-15 equally sized balls. (Lemon sized)
        2. Take a small portion (the size of a marble) of the dough; flatten it in your palm; place a Dal filling in the middle and cover it with the dough.
        3. Flatten the balls and keep it aside on Rice flour and repeat with all the other portions.
        4. Roll out each Dal filled dough into 7 inch circles with the help of Rice flour to avoid sticking.
        5. Heat a thawa/ flat pan on medium heat and cook the Boli on both sides till it starts to change the color here and there. Do brush a small amount of Ghee on both sides while cooking.
        6. Serve with Palpayasam.
        Notes:
        • While Pressure cooking Dal it not be mashed as it absorbs more Water when mashed. Water content is an enemy in this dish.
        • The prepared dough should be covered in Oil. This together with the resting time gives elasticity to the dough which is very essential.
        • The original recipe calls for Nallenna/ Sesame Oil to soak the dough in, but I used Vegetable Oil which didn't make much difference from the original.
        • This Boli is only very lightly sweetened and when it combines with sweet Palpayasam, both of them  compliments each other.
        • The Bolis will stay good at room temperature for 2-4 days.




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        Cheese Rings

        Recipe No: 237
        This is a bread dough based recipe flavored with Cheese and it is great as a snack with some soft Cheese or as a Bread component for dinner.
        Ingredients                                    Makes 16
        • All Purpose Flour/ Maida….2 Cups + more for rolling
        • Salt…………………………………1/3 Teaspoon
        • Sugar……………………………..2 Tablespoons
        • Egg…………………………………1; Beaten
        • Butter……………………….……2 Tablespoons; melted
        • Warm Milk………………….….1/3 Cup + 2 Tablespoons for brushing
        • Instant Yeast…………..………1 Teaspoon
        • Warm Water……………….....1/4 Cup
        • Grated Cheese………............3 Tablespoons + 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling on top
        Method of Preparation
        1. Dissolve Yeast in lukewarm Water and keep aside, covered, for 5 minutes or till frothy.
        2. Mix Flour, Salt and Sugar well and knead it after adding frothy Yeast mixture, 1/3 cup Milk, Egg and Melted Butter into a very soft dough.
        3. If you are using a stand mixer, knead for 3-5 minutes into a smooth but very sticky dough. If it is too sticky, do add a maximum of 2 Tablespoons more of Flour. If you are kneading by hand, dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead  for 5-7 minutes using just enough Flour to make a smooth, soft yet manageable dough.
        4. Keep the kneaded dough in a big container; cover with a damp cloth and keep in a warm place for about 1 ½ - 2 hours or until doubled in volume.
        5. Once doubled, knead in 3 Tablespoons of grated Cheese either by hand or using a mixer.
        6. Dump it into a floured surface and divide  into 16 equal portions.
        7. Roll each portion into a 10 inch rope and press the two ends together to make a ring. Do roll the dough gently where the two ends meet to make the thickness even.
        8. Place the rings on a baking tray and keep them in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
        9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚F/ 200˚C.
        10. Brush the rings with Milk and sprinkle a tablespoon of Cheese evenly on top of the rings.
        11. Bake it in the middle of the oven for 8-12 minutes or till the rings are lightly browned on top or the internal temperature (in the middle of the rings) is 165˚F/ 74˚C.
        12. Serve hot or warm either with Cheese or as a side.
        Notes:
        • The doubling time for the dough will depend on the power of the Yeast and the temperature of the surroundings. So please wait until the dough doubles in your cooking conditions.
        • I used active dried Yeast in this recipe. You can use the regular Yeast which will take more time to become active, which is shown by the frothy nature of the Water.
        • The temperature of the Water to which we put the Yeast should be lukewarm. That temperature will activate the Yeast, but on the other side, high temperature may kill them. So after dissolving the Yeast in Water give it a few minutes to become active, that is shown by the bubbling of the dissolved Water. If it doesn't show a bubbling action, either you have killed the Yeast or the Yeast is of poor quality (happens when it is very old). In both cases, start over again with fresh Yeast.
        • It is essential to use warm Milk in order to get the texture right.
        • Using too much Flour for kneading, will make the rings hard.
        • Do allow the rings to rise after shaping. This second rising period (also called proofing time) is important for the texture of the rings.
        • Please don’t over bake the rings as it will dry them up.
         






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        Wednesday, April 13, 2011

        Whole Fish Broiled in Thandoori Style Marinade/ Thandoori Fish

        Recipe No: 236
        This is something that I remember from my last visit to Kerala. We ate Thandoori Fish from a seaside restaurant in Fort Kochi which tasted so amazing and here is the result of my efforts to re-create that taste.
        Ingredients                                         Serves 3
        • Fish………………….................1 Whole; cleaned (around 600-700 grams after cleaning. I used a whole Tilapia)
        For the Marinade
        • Curd……………………............2 Tablespoons
        • Salt………………………...........1 1/4 Teaspoons
        • Turmeric Powder….............1/4 Teaspoon
        • Red Chilly Powder…...........1/2 Teaspoon (depending on your taste use up to 1 teaspoon)
        • Coriander Powder…….........1/2 Teaspoon
        • Roasted Cumin Powder…...1/2 Teaspoon
        • Garam Masala Powder…….1/4 Teaspoon
        • Kasoori Methi………………....1 Teaspoon (Press and roll  between your palms to powder it.)
        • Black Pepper Powder………..1/4 Teaspoon
        • Fenugreek Powder……………1/8 Teaspoon (Uluva Podi)
        • Lemon Juice…………………….2 Teaspoons
        • Oil…………………………………..1 ½ Tablespoons
        Method of Preparation
        1. Clean the Fish by taking out scales (if any), gills and the intestine (I retained the head for  presentation). Wash and dry thoroughly.
        2. Score the Fish in two directions so as to make some slits which will allow the Flesh to absorb the marinade. (This step is very important if you are using Tilapia as it doesn't have a strong taste.)
        3. Mix all the ingredients mentioned in the ‘to marinade’ section into a paste.
        4. Apply the marinade all over the Fish taking care to push it into all the slits and the stomach cavity.  Cover the Fish and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours, even though overnight is preferred.
        5. Preheat the oven on  broil high mode for 5 minutes.
        6. Place the Fish in a lightly oiled broiler pan  and place it either on the first or the second rack from the top.
        7. Let it cook for around 12 minutes on each side or till the Fish is cooked thoroughly and slightly darkened here and there.
        8. Serve hot with preferred side dishes.
        Notes:
        • To make roasted Cumin powder, either fry Cumin Powder in a dry pan on medium low heat till fragrant and slightly brown or powder whole Cumin Seeds which is dry roasted (without Oil) in a pan on medium low heat till fragrant and slightly brown.
        • Washing Fish in Salt or Lemon Juice will help reduce its fishy smell and sliminess.
        • Refrigerate the marinated Fish in the broiling pan itself so that you don’t have to transfer it to another pan for broiling.
        • Lining the broiler pan with an Aluminum foil will make cleaning easy. (Don't forget to Oil the foil.)
        • Let the Fish come to a room temperature before broiling to ensure even cooking.
        • Usually glass pans are not used for broiling. So please use an oven safe metal pan.
        • In a broiler mode only one coil/ burner of the oven works; usually the top one. So placing the food near the coil  will help in getting as much heat as possible mimicking the ‘Thandoor’ effect. The distance of the racks from the top coil varies from oven to oven. For this particular dish, place the Fish in the rack that is 4-5 inches below the coil.
        • Even though this dish can be made with Fish pieces, I never tried it. I love to use whole Fish in this recipe.
        • Even though I used Tilapia, you can use any fish with thickness in flesh and no bones running through the flesh.
        • Use a bit of red color if you want that signature red color of Thandoori Fish.







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