Sunday, July 31, 2011

Indonesian Corn Fritters

Monsoons bring a tasty crop of corn to town. There are endless stalls selling fresh roasted corn smeared with a mix of lime juice, salt and chili powder. As much as I love those, there is always room for trying something new to make with corn. I had jotted down the recipe for these fritters a long time ago (I think from food network) and made some alterations to it. They are crisp golden nuggets studded with sweet corn and peppers. The original recipe called for eggs but I omitted the egg. 

Ingredients:

1 cup shelled sweet corn
3/4 cup chopped red and green peppers
1/2 cup flour (or more as needed to bind the batter)
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 green chili, very finely chopped (for some heat)
Oil to fry (Peanut oil is preferred)
Water to bind the batter
Salt 
Black pepper

Mix all the ingredients except the flour, oil and water. Add the flour and mix again. Next add the water by the spoonful and stir to bind. The batter should be thick and of droppable consistency similar to these bhaji batter.
Heat oil in wok and test fry a small portion of batter to check if the oil is hot enough to cook. If the batter comes up bubbling the oil is ready. Make one fritter first, taste it and adjust the batter for seasonings. Cook first on low heat and then on high to ensure the fritter cooks inside and out. 
Serve hot with some ketchup or cheese dip!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Makai Palak / Corn Palak / Corn Spinach

After years of eating palak paired with just paneer this was love at first bite! This version of spinach has the fragrant and pungently spiced spinach paired with the sweet juicy corn. I was introduced to the dish by my mother-in-law who tells me this is a big hit in the kitty party and marriage menus. Well I wouldn't miss it on either occasions. 
You can add frozen or fresh corn, just microwave it for 5 (3 for fresh) minutes on high to soften the corn. 

Ingredients: 


3 bunches fresh spinach or 3 cups frozen spinach
3/4 cup corn, cooked (see above)
1 medium onion (125 grams)
2 tomatoes
3-4 green chilies
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
Pinch hing (asafoetida)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon dhania-jeera powder (cumin coriander)
1 teaspoon corn flour mixed in water
Salt


Wash the spinach well and cut the stems from the leaves. Sprinkle some water on the spinach and microwave for about 5 minutes on high power, stirring once, till it is wilted and partly cooked. Set aside to cool. Alternatively pressure cook with 1/2 cup water for one whistle. Blend to make a smooth puree. (if using frozen spinach, microwave and puree). Make a puree of onions, tomato and chilies. 

Heat a wok and add the oil to it. When heated, add the hing and cumin seeds and when they start to crackle, add the onion paste. Saute on low heat till the liquid has evaporated and the oil starts to leave the masala. Add the spinach puree and the spices. Bring to a boil. Continue to cook and add the corn and salt at this time. Also add the corn flour paste. This will thicken the puree and make it smoother. Check for salt and spices and adjust. Corn Palak is ready!

Serve hot with parathas or naans!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pineapple Fried Rice / Hawaiian Fried Rice

The rains have made the city cooler and it makes me crave spicy fried food. I had my share of pakoras and today it was Pineapple fried rice. We used to have it a lot at my favorite Asian restaurant in Dallas and it brings back happy memories.
This dish can be a little on the sweet side. To counter that I used a little more chili than I normally would in fried rice. The resulting dish was a forkful of fragrant spicy rice followed by caramelized pineapple. I have used fresh pineapple as canned ones tend to be more sweeter. If using canned, drain and rinse the pieces to remove all the syrup. Day old rice is the best as it loses moisture and fries easily without clumping. If using freshly made rice, make sure you cool the rice completely before using.

Ingredients:

4 cups cooked rice
2 cups vegetables, julienned (red pepper, green pepper, carrot, cabbage)
2 medium onions, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and diced
4 thick slices pineapple
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon green chili paste
1 tablespoon red / green chili sauce
1/2 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Salt
Peel the skin and remove the center core of the pineapple leaving clean yellow flesh. Cut into 8 pieces each. Keep aside. 
Heat a large wok (its easier to fry in this) and add the oil. Next add the green chili paste, ginger, garlic and onions. Saute till the onions are translucent about 3-4 minutes. Next add the vegetables and quickly saute for 1 minute on high heat. The vegetables should retain crunchiness. Next add the pepper and the sauces. Mix well. Remove from heat. Add in the rice and mix well. Make sure there are no clumps. Next add the pineapple and salt (soy sauce is salty  and mix well. Adjust for spice and salt. Return to heat and cook for 3-4 minutes on high heat stirring continuously with a light hand. The rice is done!
Serve hot and enjoy...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad

I had this salad in mind for a long time. This weekend we got very fragrant and pungent mint from my father-in-laws farm and I had to make this. The cool watermelon, the pungent mint and the salty feta make it a combo to savor. You can also try variations by adding some balsamic vinegar and maybe some finely diced red onion. It tastes best when cold, so make sure the watermelon is chilled. 

Ingredients:

3 cups cubed and deseeded watermelon
2 tablespoons crumbled feta
2 tablespoons chopped mint

For the dressing

Juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt 
Fresh ground black pepper

Mix the ingredients for the dressing and add half the feta and all the mint in it. Whisk well. Add this to the watermelon and toss well so all the watermelon is covered with the dressing. 
Remove on to a serving plate and spread the remaining feta on top. Enjoy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ice cream Sandwich with Triple Chocolate Cookies and Vanilla Ice Cream

The name says it all. I have had plenty of Klondike bars but making my own was a different pleasure. And its not as easy as eating it is :) the first attempt was a gooey mess. I softened the ice cream and upon sandwiching it it melted all over the cookie... This time around, I didn't soften the ice cream, froze the cookies and the result was oh la la. That being said, its better if this 'wich is made in winter and frozen for summer. The ice cream just doesn't stop melting. 

Ingredients:

2 cookies of choice - I used these Triple chocolate cookies
1 scoop ice cream of choice - I used Vanilla
Chocolate shavings

Freeze the cookies and keep the ice cream frozen as well. To assemble, slice out small portions of the ice cream and layer on top of the flat side of the cookie. Leave a little space around the edges. Put the second cookie flat side on the ice cream and press a little to make sure the ice cream spreads all over the cookie. Fill gaps with small dollops of ice cream. Return to freezer. When frozen, roll over the chocolate shavings. Eat it before it melts. Yummmm...

The flavor combinations can be:
Chocolate cookie and vanilla / chocolate / chocolate chip / coffee ice cream
Vanilla cookie and chocolate / almond praline / caramel / mint / strawberry / mango ice cream
Oatmeal Raisin cookie with vanilla ice cream

Tell me what flavor combination you like...

I am sending this to Srivalli's Sandwich Mela...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baked Vegetable in White Sauce

This is an elegant side dish is slowly becoming more mainstream in traditional Indian dinner menus. It is easy to make and can be assembled a day in advance, wrapped in cling film and baked on the day of the dinner. This can also be made region specific by altering the spices. If you add oregano, roasted vegetables and feta cheese, this becomes a Mediterranean dish. Basil, Italian seasoning with mozzarella and Parmesan make it Italian. And a seasoning of chili-ginger paste makes it Indian. If you like it to have a sweetish hint, add pineapple chunks as well without microwaving. 

Ingredients:

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed small or thin slices
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup mixed carrots, French beans, small dice (peas and corn optional)
8-10 mushrooms, quartered
3 cups thin white sauce
2 tablespoons grated cheese to mix in sauce
1/2 cup grated cheese to sprinkle on top (I used Amul)
Salt
Pepper

In a bowl, put all the vegetables except mushrooms and microwave them for about 7-8 minutes. Keep aside.
Pour about 1/2 cup white sauce on the bottom of a 9x9 glass baking pan. Then layer the cauliflowers on it. Pour 1/2 cup sauce, sprinkle salt and pepper followed by mushrooms, then carrots, french beans and finally potatoes. Pour 1/2 cup sauce after every layer sprinkling salt and pepper. Pour all remaining sauce on top and sprinkle cheese. 
In a preheated oven at 400 F or 200 C, bake for 30-40 minutes or till the cheese is melted and has golden spots.
Serve hot with side of toasted baguette or garlic bread.      

I am sending this to Pari's event Only baked hosted by Tamalapaku

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Shreya's Blue Mist

I am fortunate that all my friends have married gorgeous and accomplished women. Vishal is a friend from grad school and his wife Shreya is a skilled jewellery designer and also a domestic goddess. We recently went for dinner at their place and she had laid out lots of tasty food and this delightful drink. Its as refreshing as it is simple. As soon as I was home I tried it out and it really was as good as I remembered. The proportions are for one glass but make a pitcher and adjust to taste. So here it is... and thanks so much Shreya!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons blue curacao (lime and citrus cordial)
1 cup sprite
2 ice cubes

Pour the curacao in a glass, add the sprite and top with the ice cubes... Ready to sip...

Note: You can also make this into a cocktail by adding a shot of vodka. 
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