Monday, February 28, 2011

Aloo Paranthas!

Whenever I make Aloo Paranthas, I always remember the first time I made them. The first year at University of Florida, Aloo Paranthas were a treat and two of my roommates had invited friends over after bragging about our parantha making skills. The catch was ofcourse that we had parantha eating skills and not making skills. Yet kneading the dough and making the filling went well. Debate was how to stuff the paranthas. I claimed previous knowledge of observation and attempted to make a few fish shaped ones. As you read the post, you will know what I mean. But they were a hit and here comes the recipe. Different from the first time and all the more tastier. A word about the ingredients - I use a paste of chili and ginger. For 10-12 chilies, a large root of ginger about 3 inches by 1 inch. You can change proportion according to the spice level you like. 

Ingredients:

For the filling

2 pounds / 1 kilo potatoes
1 cup peas, semi mashed
1 large onion, finely diced 
3-4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon chili-ginger paste
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander
1 heaping teaspoon dhania-jeera powder (cumin-coriander) 
1 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Salt

For dough

2 1/2 cups flour
2-3 tablespoons oil 
Water

Oil / Ghee for cooking

Take the flour and make a well in the center. Add water and start combining. Keep adding water to flour till it forms a soft dough, like for roti's. Add the oil and knead well for 3-4 minutes. This makes the roti's very soft. 

For the filling, boil the potatoes. Try to use small potatoes with skin intact. This lessens seepage of water in the potatoes and keeps them firmer. Peel and mash. A few uneven pieces are fine. Do not over mash, else it will become sticky. You can also grate the potatoes for an even mash. Add all the spices and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning. Put all the seasonings at the same time to avoid overworking the filling. 

To assemble:
Take dough and roll out a 5 inch diameter and 2 mm thick roti. Place about 2-3 heaping tablespoons of the filling on one half as shown in the picture. Fold the other half over it and pinch seal it. With the help of some flour, start rolling out the paratha. The first few ones may be fish shaped but eventually they will be round. 

Heat a tava and when hot, spread about half teaspoon of oil. Put the parantha on the tava and apply a few drops of oil along the edges. Apply a little oil on the surface and flip. Cook till golden brown on both sides.

Serve with side of fresh curds, chutney and pickle! A dollop of fresh butter or Amul butter on top tastes great too.

PS: I am doing a guest post for Nithu @ http://www.nithubala.com/2011/02/guest-post-52-todays-guest-cooking.html  The post is out on today. Be sure to check it out! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vermicelli Upma

Vermicelli is a very versatile product. It becomes savory and sweet and tastes great as both. Vermicelli kheer or sevaiyya is a favorite of mine and this upma is another favored one. It usually gets upstaged by poha on weekends as my husband has it ready before I even wake up. So I made it today as an evening snack. Its filling and goes great with tea or coffee. I only added peppers but you can add peas and carrots too. 

Ingredients:

2 cups raw vermicelli
1 cup chopped mixed peppers (I used red, yellow and green)
1 onion (1/2 cup) chopped 
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 inch knob ginger, minced
2 green chilies halved
5-6 curry leaves
Pinch hing (asafoetida)
1/3 teaspoon raee (mustard seeds)
1/3 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
Salt
2 tablespoons coriander chopped
Heat a non stick deep pan and add the vermicelli to it. Roast it to light brown stirring constantly. Some strands will be darker than others, but that is fine. Keep aside. In the same pan, heat the oil. Add the hing, raee and jeera. When they splutter, add the onions, curry leaves, ginger and chilies. Saute till the onions are translucent about 2-3 minutes. Then add the peppers and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the roasted vermicelli and mix well. Add about a cup of water along with the salt and cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir and check if the vermicelli is cooked. Else add a little more water and cook more. When done, remove from heat, add the coriander and stir lightly. Serve hot!

PS: I am doing a guest post for Nithu @ http://www.nithubala.com/  The post will be out on Monday. Be sure to check it out!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Aloo Puffs

Golden, flaky, spicy and perfect with tea! That is the dish in a nutshell. It brings back great memories, Christmas parties at school, birthdays with friends and more recently, evening teas with husband... And there are tell tale signs of having eaten some, a trail of crumbs on your clothes!
Puff pastry is readily available in most American supermarkets. In India you can try local bakeries, they sometimes sell these. It can be made at home as well but requires some effort. The size we are looking at is about 10x10 or 12x12. The ones below are a large size. If you want you can also make 6 smaller ones from one sheet.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 - 2 cups basic potato stuffing
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 tablespoon melted butter (optional)
Water to seal the pastry

Thaw the puff pastry in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the pastry sheet into 4 pieces. Place about 1/3-1/2 cup of the filling in the center of one puff pastry piece. Wet the edge with water and press to seal completely. Place a parchment paper on the baking tray and place the 4 puffs keeping 1 inch space between each of the pieces. Brush the melted butter on the surface to give it an even more golden hue (the ones in the photo above are without butter). Bake for 15 minutes or till the puffs are puffed and golden on the outside. Serve hot with a cup of tea and some ketchup on the side!    

Friday, February 18, 2011

Methi na Gota / Fenugreek Pakoras

One of the more typical Gujarati pakodas, methi na gota are small spicy nuggets of bitter, spicy and a hint of sweet. Fresh methi leaves (fenugreek) are mixed with gram flour (besan) and spices to make a dough which is then deep fried. These also go into Undhiyu, the famous Gujarati mixed vegetable dish. Peanut oil is the best frying oil but any other oil you have in the house is fine too.

Ingredients:

1 bunch fresh methi about 1 cup after plucking leaves
3/4 cup besan (gramflour)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin - coriander powder (dhania-jeera)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Oil to fry
Water to bind
Salt

Wash the methi leaves well to remove all dirt and debris. Add besan, salt, sugar and spices along with water to make a batter. The consistency of this batter is not as tight as kanda bhaji but not as loose as childa. Heat oil in a wok and add some of this hot oil to the batter. This makes the gotas light and spongy without the need for baking soda. To check if the oil is the right temperature to cook, add a small amount of batter in oil. If it bubbles up and rises to surface in the oil, the oil is ready to cook. This also helps check the seasoning in the gota, taste the cooked gota and adjust spice and salt as needed. 

Put few small spoonfuls of batter in the oil at a time. Do not crowd the wok. Too many gotas at a time will bring down the temperature of oil and gotas will absorb oil. Cook the gotas on medium heat so they cook thoroughly from the inside. Increase heat if the oil starts to cool. Cook till the gotas are golden brown on the outside.

Serve the hot gota's with coriander chutney, tamarind chutney or enjoy them just as they are!   

Monday, February 14, 2011

Vegetable Manchurian with Gravy

This is a Indo-Chinese staple, a totally Indian invention, a dish that would be a surprise to any Chinese in Beijing or Shanghai. Soft on the inside and a crispy coating outside, these balls melt in your mouth.
Manchurian was a mystery to me for the longest time. I had no idea how the vegetable and dough balls were made. Browsing thru blogosphere I found a few recipes and combined what I like to come up with a final recipe. And the results were great. This proportion makes about 20-22 vegetable balls. Leftover gravy will tend to thicken in the fridge. Just heat and the gravy will be flowing again. Here is the recipe...

Ingredients:

For the Manchurian balls

2 cups finely chopped cabbage
2 cups very finely chopped mix of carrots, cauliflower, green peppers (I had some broccoli and red/yellow peppers so I used them)
4 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (maida)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
Dash of chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Salt
Oil to fry

For the gravy

3 cups water
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/2 cup chopped green onions with stalks
6-7 cloves garlic
1 inch knob of ginger grated
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
2-3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon red chili sauce
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Dash of sugar
1 tablespoon Oil

In a bowl mix all the ingredients to form the manchurian balls. It should be a little damp to touch and should form a ball when pressed in hand. Take a fistful and bind tightly to shape the mixture into 1 inch balls. If the mixture is too dry to bind, add an additional teaspoon of water. 
Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the balls on low- medium heat till they are golden brown. These balls can be eaten as a snack with a side of ketchup or sweet and sour sauce. 

In another wok, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add the onions (keep aside some greens for garnish), garlic and ginger and sauté on high heat. Add the spices, sauces and water and bring to a boil. Check for salt and add as necessary as the soy sauce will also add salt to the dish.

Just before serving, take 2 tablespoons of water and dissolve the cornflour in it. Add to the gravy and bring to a boil while stirring. Heat till the gravy has a shine to it.

Then add the balls to the the gravy and garnish with the onion greens.

Serve hot with Chinese Fried Rice or steamed rice.

To make a dry manchurian, reduce the quantity of water to 3/4 cup, corn flour to 1/2 tablespoon and then proceed as above.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine Day Menu's

If last week belonged to testosterone, loud screaming with nachos and beer, this week is definitely for estrogen, sweet nothings and candlelit dinners. Even though my husband is anti V-day he always loves a good meal so our V-day is definitely food centric. Last year it was an elaborate Indian Feast, this year it's Chinese. 
Below are some menus to help you plan your day - foodwise. Try and keep cooking to the minimum (it's your day too), take help from the grocery store to whip up a feast. Have a romantic table layout with candles and let the ambience set the mood for the evening. Most of the dishes have recipe links, let me know if any doesn't work right. 


To start off...


Drinks:


Mudslide
Appletini
Olive Martini
Red Wine / White Wine


Desserts:


Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Coulis
Fruit Cream
Chocolate Pudding
Strawberry Trifle
Flourless Chocolate Cakes
Cupcakes
Chocolates


Main Course:


Indian:


Potato Cutlets (substitute half the potatoes with beetroot for a red color)
Paneer Butter Masala / Mutter Methi Malai
Peas and Cauliflower Pulao
Raita
Tava Naan / Parathas


Chinese:


Spring Rolls
Gobi Manchurian Dry
Vegetable Noodles / Vegetable Fried Rice
Vegetable Manchurian with gravy


Italian:


Bruschetta
Eggplant Parmesan / Spaghetti and meatballs / Lasagna
Pasta of Choice
Garlic Bread


Mediterranean / Greek:


Red Pepper Hummus with Pita Chips
Greek Salad
Falafel with tzaziki, pita and simple salad / Vegetarian Moussaka


Thai:


Vegetable Rolls in Rice Paper / Mushroom Satay with Peanut Sauce
Green Curry / Red Curry / Yellow Curry with Rice
Pad Thai / Thai Fried Rice / Basil Fried Rice


American:


Mini - Quiche / Wonton Cups / Puff pastry spirals
Triple Bean Burgers with French Fries / Pizza / Baked Vegetable in White Sauce with fresh baked bread and butter

Mexican:


7 Layer dip / Guacamole with Chips
Quesadilla
Fajitas / Enchiladas
Mexican Rice


Mumbaiya:


Kanda bhaji
Pav bhaji / Vada pav
Bhel / Sev puri

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Superbowl menus

With Steelers ready to take on Packers on 6th, food bloggers (and others) are busy coming up with their Superbowl spreads. While the time tested Nachos will be present on every table here are a few other non-traditional items which score a touchdown!

Snacking:


 








 




 












Guacamole Nachos (they are healthier)

















Assorted Chips Varieties
Mini Muffins

Main Course:










Desserts:









Ice cream

Drinks:

Beer
Wine
Orange Punch
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