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Mixed Vegetable & Tofu Stew

Mixed Vegetable & Tofu Stew

Stew is typically slow-cooked, with chunky vegetables which steeps in the flavor. The last few weeks, stews/soups/salads have kept me company as I strive to eat more vegetables and limit grains. Stew comes particularly handy, if you are cooking for crowd with varying preference as it can be eaten like a soup, with or without a bread on the side or over rice or chappathi/roti. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Desi Chinese, Thai

 

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Dahi Bhalla


First off, wish you all a very good new year. I don’t think I can think of a better first post/recipe than the amazing Dahi bhalla. I am not sure how many of you have heard of Dahi bhalla, but I didn’t know of its existence till the new year’s eve of 2012 🙂 A few friends planned to meet and decided on a chaat-themed potluck. Pav-Bhaaji and Pani-Puri were taken and I was wondering what to make; was trying to decide between Aloo tiki-chole and Bhel puri when Google led me to Dahi vada and then, *drumroll*, Dahi bhalla. Now, I know Dahi vada, hindi for Thayir vadai (as far as I know). But, Dahi bhalla? Well, Google again came to my rescue – turns out that the main difference between the two is in the dahi; while for Dahi vada the curd is, well, just sour with some spices for Dahi bhalla the curd is sweet, almost like a lassi. I followed the recipe at Vahrehvah with some minor modifications and result was lip-smacking.

The first step in the preparation of Dahi bhallas is making the Bhallas. Making Bhalla is similar to making Vadai.

Urad dhal 1 cup
Green Chillies 1
Salt 1 tsp (more or less based on your taste)
Potato 1 (medium-size)
Cashew 30-40 broken pieces
Raisins 30-40 pieces
Cooking Oil

Soak urad dhal and green chillies in about 1.5 to 2 cups of water for a few hours (overnight is best, but I soaked it only for ~4 hrs and it did not notice any difference). Grind this to a thick paste adding as little water as possible. Add salt to this mix and beat this mix well with a spoon to aerate the mixture. I picked this tip from the Vahrehvah chef and the Vadas (or Bhallas :)) turned out soft and fluffy.

Boil potato; peel the skin and mash it well. Mix this with the aerated urad dhal mixture. This is the dough for Dahi bhalla.

Note: Instead of deep-frying the Bhallas, I used my Appam pan (looks similar to this). I picked this tip from the jugalbandits a while back; in addition to other benefits listed in the post, I noticed that it was less messy and resulted in uniform Bhallas.

To make the Bhallas, take a bit of the dough in your hand and make a rough ball with it. Now with your thumb, make a shallow hole. Place a piece of cashew and raisin in this hole and close it. Stuffing the Bhallas with cashew & raisin is purely optional, but I would highly recommend this as biting into a cashew/raisin as you are eating the Bhallas takes the taste and the experience to another level.

Add oil to the pan, about a tsp or so in each hole, Place the bhallas and cook both sides by turning them.

Use up all the dough and finish making the bhallas. The yield for 1 cup of urad dhal was about 60 and I guess the number depends on the size/shape of the Bhallas that you make.

If you are not a dahi (curd) fan, you can stop at this point and enjoy the Bhallas with a cup of tea and/or mint & tamarind chutney. K can vouch for that 🙂 Of course, to kick it up a notch, you need to turn them into awesome Dahi bhallas.

Dahi (curd) 3 cups
Sugar 1/2 cup
Cumin powder 2 tsp
Coriander powder 2 tsp
Chaat masala 2 tsp
Sev couple of handful
boondi couple of handful
Coriander 2 tsp (for garnish)
Water few cups

Add water to a deep pan and bring it to a boil. Add the Bhallas in batches to the boiling water, leaving it in for a couple of minutes; take it out and with a napkin press on it gently to squeeze out as much water as you can. Once soaked in hot water the Bhallas become soft and absorbs dahi faster.

Whisk the curd with sugar (add a little water if it is too thick) and keep it ready.

In a wide bottomed container, make a bed with boondi. Place the Bhallas (soaked and squeezed) over this as a single layer. Now pour the sweetened curd and make sure to cover the Bhallas. Use more curd, if need be.

Sprinkle the coriander, cumin powders on top as well as the chaat masala. Complete the garnish with sev and coriander leaves.

May be a little bit more coriander…


Now, it is truly ready…

Dig in and enjoy!

 
15 Comments

Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Desi

 

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Spicy Indonesian Peanut Soup

For the longest time, soups (and salads for that matter too) were synonymous with diet food, to me.  I never truly enjoyed them and didn’t care much for them.  I could never have them for a meal; I tolerated them enough to have them soups as an appetizer before a big buffet lunch.  I could have never foreseen that I would be making soups regularly at home for dinner and ENJOY eating them.  Oh!  how we all change with time 🙂

When I was perusing the cooking section @ my local library, this book – Love Soup – seemed interesting enough to pick.  I glanced through this book and found quite  a few interesting recipes – some old, some new and some wild.  I have earmarked quite a few of them to try and this was the first one that I made.  If I can make a judgment call on 160 recipes based  on just 1, then this book is a keeper.  There are some recipes that sounds really exotic but you know it won’t work for various reasons and some that sounds exotic and plausible but doesn’t turn out as good.  This one sounds exotic (the soup is named “Indonesian”, for crying out loud 🙂 ), downright practical, comes together in a jiffy and tastes delicious.  So, now tell me, whats not to like about this soup and this book?

I picked this soup out of the scores of others that I had earmarked as I had all the ingredients needed for this soup handy – yes, I am cheap and lazy 🙂  But don’t ask me, why I bought parsnip, for the first time, during my previous grocery run – I have no clue either.  It was there, sitting fresh and pretty in a parsnip-y way and I couldn’t resist buying it.  Most often, I buy things out of a whim and scurry around for a recipe to use them but this time somehow, everything came together ever so correctly.

Not sure how many of you out there are true recipe followers but I am not.  Almost always, I cannot stay 100% true to a recipe, I always add a little something of my own to it, and in a weird way, feel that it completes my cooking experience.  The little twist that I added to the recipe makes it mine and personal.  This recipe has my twist as well and I have made a note of it, so that you can omit it, if you are not upto it.

Spicy Indonesian Peanut Soup

1 Parsnip – peeled & cubed
2 Sweet potato – peeled & cubed
1 Carrot – peeled & cubed
1/2 radish – peeled & cubed (this is my addition, omit it if you are not a radish fan)
1 onion – chopped finely
4-5 Garlic cloves – chopped finely
3-4″ ginger piece – chopped finely
2 green chillies
1 Tbsp – Tamarind paste
1 tsp coriander-cumin-red chillies powder (original recipe called for curry powder, and I don’t use this, just like most Indians)
A handful of curry leaves (original recipe called for coriander, since I didn’t have it @ home, substituted with curry leaves)
2 tsp – Peanut Butter
2 Tbsp – Lemon Juice

In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients except peanut butter & lemon juice, add sufficient quantity of water, close the lid and let it cook for about 30 mins.  Alternatively, you can pressure cook this too.  (Note:  as per the original recipe, you have to boil the vegetables & saute onion, garlic, ginger, tamarind & the curry powder and then add the sauteed mixture to the vegetables.  I just boiled everything together so I can make it in a single pot.)

Once the veggies are fork tender, blend them well, preferably using a hand-blender.

Now add the peanut butter & lemon juice and let it simmer for about 5-10 mins. Believe it or not, that’s it and the soup is ready to devour!

Optionally, you can toast some peanuts and use it for garnishing the soup.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on November 15, 2010 in Cooking, One-pot Dish, Soup

 

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Fall Soup

We are well into November and there is no doubt that Fall has arrived unlike the hide-and-seek that Summer played, at least in this part of the world. The evenings are dark and gloomy, especially so after the time change. It is so cold, even inside the house, that I don’t feel like spending long hours in the kitchen to cook. Time for one pot dishes (are you listening?) and more specifically, soups. Nothing feels more comfortable than snuggling over a warm bowl of soup and to make it more luxurious, some garlic bread.

Fall is the season for squashes and melon, and my local produce store has an abundance of these. These beauties look very tempting; it takes a lot of self-control to not splurge and buy lot more than the two of us can possibly consume. Over the years, I have devised a system whereby I don’t buy more than one variety of squash every week, lest I end up wasting them. Anyway, it was time to buy butternut squash last week, which, to me, is easily the best among equals. They have a vibrant orange color with a deep nutty, sweet taste that is amplified when roasted. I have made pasta with these occasionally but the soups are easily the best.

Roasted Butternut Squash – Apple Soup

1/2 Butter nut squash (cut vertically)
1 Apple – cored and cubed
1/2 Onion – chopped coarsely
1 Tomato – quartered
2 Green Chillies – split length-wise
1/2 cup Black (kala) Channa – soaked for about 8 hrs
Seeds from 1 Pomegranate
1 Tbsp Almond Butter
1 Tsp Tamarind paste
1 Tsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt (more or less, based on your taste buds)
1 Tbsp – roasted and powedered coriander, cumin & redchillies
2 Tsp Oil

Chop the butternut squash into 4 big pieces, brush them with oil and roast them till they are fork-tender. Scoop the roasted squash using a spoon, while leaving the skin intact. Alternatively, you can peel the skin before roasting the squash.

In a thick-bottomed vessel or a cast iron pot, add a tsp of oil, followed by onion, tomato, green chillies, apple and salt; close the lid and let it sweat for a while.

After about 10 minutes, add the roasted squash, kala channa, tamarind and the coriander-cumin-red chilly powder. Let this cook for another 10-15 minutes. Do *not* add any water.

Add a cup of water and puree this concoction either in a blender or using a hand-held blender. Add the almond butter and pomegrante seeds, not before saving a couple of spoonfuls for garnishing, and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Ladle it into soup bowls, garnish with the reserved seeds and serve. Perfect meal for Fall evenings.

For those of you who are wondering at the unconventional list of ingredients: I did not follow any recipe for this soup, that I made yesterday and improvised as I went along. I craved for something that is spicy but sweet, nutty and tangy, which resulted in this soup. So, be creative and feel free to add or omit ingredients that you prefer (or not) and believe me, you will not go wrong 🙂

More Thursday Challenge pictures.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2010 in Cooking, General, Soup

 

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Peppery Cauliflower

I was introduced to the world of blogs a few years back, when the blogs were few and far between and it was easy to follow the handful of blogs. Then, the blogs proliferated and much as I would have liked to keep myself abreast, it is just not possible to read all the blogs that pique my interest. That’s where Google Reader came to my rescue and whenever I found a blog that I liked, I followed it by adding it to my reader (*hint hint* add my blog to your reader, if you haven’t done so already 🙂 ). Anyway, my friends and I share and exchange notes on the blogs that we follow and I have come across quite a few new blogs through them.  One such gem is Mriganayani, oh I love the name, introduced by my dear friend, Arch.  I scanned through her blog and the one recipe that caught my interest was Cauliflower Pepper Fry.  I love pepper (so much that I add it to my chai, for kicks!) and the combination looked like a match made in heaven.

I followed her recipe to the T with few minor changes and made it dry, as I was going to have it with rice.  This goes perfectly with rice as well as rotis and may make an awesome sandwich filling too.

1Tsp Black pepper
1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
2 red chillies
1 Tsp ghee
1 Onion – cubed
1 onion – chopped
1 caulilfower – cut into florets
1 Tsp – Turmeric
1 Tsp -salt (more or less based on your taste buds)
1 Tbsp – Almond Butter

For Thalippu (Tempering)

1 Tsp – Mustard
Few curry leaves
1 Tsp  – Oil (Vegetable or Sesame or Coconut)

Saute the cubed onion with the spices (Black pepper, cumin & red chillies) in ghee and grind them to a paste.

In a deep dish, add the ingredients for tempering and wait till the mustard finishes it dance and cools down.  Now, add the chopped onions, wait till turns semi-translucent and then add the cauliflower, turmeric and salt.  Close the dish and let it cook till the cauliflower is almost done.  I like my cauliflower cooked but crunchy, so I just cooked for about 7-8 minutes, if you want it well done, cook for a little longer.

Add the ground paste at this point along with the almond butter and cook it for a few more minutes.   At this point, if you find it a little spicy, you can tone it down by adding another tsp of ghee or almond butter.

Eat with rice & dhal / yoghurt or with rotis or just as is, as a little snack.  It is perfect, any which way!

If you do not have access to almond butter, just follow the original recipe and add a handful of cashews (or almonds) when you grind the ingredients.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Cooking, Desi

 

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Bisi Bele Bath Powder

I have already posted about Bisi Bele Bath as I learnt from my mom. Bisi Bele Bath is a Kannadiga dish, fairly obvious given the Kannada name (Bisi = hot, bele = dhal/lentils). This is a different take on the same recipe, given by a true-blood Kannadiga and gets as authentic as it can. This post is in response to Mag of MagCreations request for this recipe, and what better time to post it than the eve of Ugadi. Happy Ugadi to all of you!
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Posted by on March 11, 2010 in Cooking, Desi, Traditional cooking

 

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Garlicky Peppery Delicious… Rasam

The weather has definitely gone cold here and I can feel Winter fast approaching. Well, with the way temperatures have gone south, it already feels like Winter. These days, it is almost like we have only 2 seasons these days – summer and winter, whatever happened to spring and fall, I wonder! All I want to do these days is to snuggle on the couch with a throw thrown over me and vegetate like a couch potato. For a Wintery day, what is better than having lip-smacking good, peppery rasam!

Rasam is a light lentil-tamarind-tomato based South Indian dish that can be eaten as is like a soup or with rice accompanied with pappadum or a dry veggie side-dish. Rasam is usually a sour dish and its sourness mainly comes from tomato with a little help from tamarind or lemon. Rasam is the go-to dish when you are under a bout of cold or fever, as it is not as lentil-heavy as sambhar and very soothing for the throat.

Pepper Rasam

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Posted by on November 5, 2008 in Cooking, Desi, Traditional cooking

 

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