Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hara-Bhara Kabab

I’ve always loved Hara Bhara Kababs at restaurants. Love their soft inner and crispy outer texture, the taste bursting with flavors, the color, all of it. I’m missing eating out in North Indian restaurants here ;) There are a few, but not good for an Indian foodie, I’ve heard. So for me, it is better to try out the European restaurants rather than bad Indian ones!

To compensate for what I am missing, I made these at home, when we had called over guests. And it came out very good, satiating my Indian taste buds :D. it was well relished by our Swedish guests too, as I had made it with very little chilies. Next time I’ve got to make it with lots of them!

Here’s the recipe…

Hara Bhara Kabab

Preparation Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: ~5 min per batch
Makes:  ~ 18 kababs
Source: The chef and her kitchen

Potatoes - 2 medium, boiled
Green peas - 1/2 cup, boiled
Fresh spinach - 1 small bunch, washed
Green chillies - 2-3
Ginger - 2", chopped
Besan /Gram flour - 1/4 cup
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Dhania powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala / Chat masala -1 tsp
Coriander - 2-3 tbsp finely chopped
Salt to taste
Cashew nuts - 10-12, split
Oil - 2-3 Tbsp

  • Dry roast besan until aromatic and keep aside.
  • Blanch spinach in hot water for 5 mins. Refresh in cold water, drain excess water from it.
  • Grind the blanched spinach with ginger and green chilies to a coarse paste without adding any water.
  • Add boiled green peas to it and grind in pulse mode until thick coarse paste.
  • Grate the boiled potato or mash if fine and add the ground mixture
  • Add roasted besan and all the spice powders, chopped coriander, salt and mix well.
  • Grease your hand and make small balls and press a cashew gently into it, flattening it. Repeat with the remaining kababs.
  • Place them in refrigerator for about 1 hr to set well.
  • Shallow fry in oil on medium flame for 2-3 min until cooked. It takes very little oil if using a non stick pan
  • Serve hot with Green chutney or Ketchup.
  • Instead of blanching the spinach, it can also be sautéed on medium flame for a couple of minutes.
  • These kababs can be prepared ahead without shallow frying and refrigerated for up to a day and can be shallow fried just before serving.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Column in Vijay Karnataka!!

Happy to share my recipes on a Food column in Vijay Karnataka, a Kannada Daily! Here is the first one... A very wonderful moment for a blogger to see her work in print media :))
Thank you VK!
A big Thank you Sheela.

Online version here...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Of late, I’m on the look-out for baking recipes that will not add too many calories to my diet and will last long, that will serve as our tea time / between meal snack. If it stays long, I don’t have to repeat the snack every day till it gets over! Rather alternate it between something else so it is not boring.

Biscotti fit quite well into this - they are not loaded with fat / sugar, nuts if added, make you feel full, last long and quite easy to make.

Biscotti are Italian originated, twice baked biscuits. They are oblong-shaped, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking, and baked again to make crispy.

This biscotti is loaded with almonds, chocolate chunks and makes it a hearty snack with tea/coffee. It yields quite a big batch - lasted us for more than two weeks, in spite of sending away some for D’s colleagues. But stays fresh all the while, though, so can relish it for longer!

Here’s the recipe…

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Preparation Time: 15 min
Baking Time: 25 min + ~20 min
Makes:  ~ 25-30 Biscottis
Source: Joy of Baking

Blanched whole almonds - 3/4 cup (110 grams) See Notes for blanching almonds
White sugar -2/3 cup (135 grams)
Eggs - 2 large
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Baking Powder - 1tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
All purpose flour /Maida - 1 3/4 cups (230 grams)
Semi-sweet or Bittersweet chocolate - 2/3 cup, chopped into bite-sized chunks (can use chocolate chips)

For the dough
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).
  • Toast almonds for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely. Set aside.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the sugar and eggs on high speed until thick, pale, and fluffy (about 5 minutes). And beat in the vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined.
  • Fold in the chopped almonds and chocolate.
First Bake
  • Transfer the dough to a well floured counter and roll into a log shape, about 12 inches (30 cm) long and 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) wide.
  • You may have to flour your hands to form the log as the dough is quite sticky.
  • Place on your baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
Second Bake
  • Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).  Transfer the log to a cutting board and cut into about 1/2 inch (1.25  cm) slices, on the diagonal.
  • Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container. 
  • Store bought Blanched Almonds can be used or regular almonds can be blanched at home like this.
  • Blanching almonds: Place almonds in boiling water for about 1 minute. Drain and place in ice water to stop further cooking of the almonds. Peel the skin off with your fingers. Bake them in a 350 degree F (180 degree C) oven for about 5-10 minutes, or until almonds are dry, but have no color.

(These lovely pics are courtesy D)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pineapple and Capsicum Salad

Here’s one simple salad with pineapple and green capsicum. The juicy, sweet and sour pineapple chunks and crunchy capsicum go very well together. I also like to throw in a chopped apple to my fruit-veggie salads, as it adds volume and blends with almost everything and balances the taste well.

Gets done in a jiffy, especially if using canned pineapples and tastes awesome. Can be made ahead and chilled for parties too.

Here’s how to make it…

Pineapple and Capsicum Salad

Preparation time        : 10 min
Cooking time               : Nil
Serves              :  4

Pineapple - Peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks- 1 Cup
Apple - 1, cored and chopped
Green Capsicum - 1 big, deseeded and chopped
Walnuts- a handful, chopped, optional

For dressing:
Vinegar - 2 tsp, optional. Use only if the pineapple is too sweet
Pineapple juice - 3-4 Tbsp
Olive Oil - 1 Tbsp
Italian dried herbs - Thyme/Oregano - 1 tsp
Salt                  - ¼ tsp or as per taste
Black pepper powder - ½ tsp or as per taste

  • Peel and chop pineapple into bite sized chunks
  • Core and chop apples; Deseed and chop capsicum. You may roast it in a tsp of oil if you wish. Tastes good even without roasting.
  • Crush the walnuts into small pieces
  • Mix everything in a large bowl
  • Add vinegar, salt, pepper, herbs and olive oil
  • Give a good shake, to mix well and serve
  • I mostly like to chop all the veggies/fruits used in a salad uniformly. That makes the distribution even and looks good too.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chatni Pudi - The Authentic South Karnataka Style

Chatni Pudi is a highly essential condiment in any South Indian kitchen. It is like a tomato ketchup in western homes. It can be an awesome side dish to various breakfast items ranging from dosas to idlies to upmas and even pohas. And not to forget its contribution to lunch and dinner - mixing a spoonful of chatni pudi with a generous serving of rice with ghee/oil fills in for any lack of side dish on days. Or just use it as a pickle with some curd rice. And even with enough side dishes, chatni pudi will always have its scope to make it to almost all meals!

There is a different charm and a character in home-made spice powders, if you ask me. Even with the recipe being the same, spice powders of each house will have a signature of that household. The store bought ones do manage to help when there is a time crisis, but homemade is always homemade! And I’ve always been used to homemade powders, be it mom or MIL.

One of the many advantages I had of staying with in-laws was that I never had to bother about Spice powders! Even before I’d notice that one of the many spice powders was running out, it’d be filled up one evening when I returned home! And if at all I was around when MIL was making them, she’d send me out of the kitchen as she felt I was too young and couldn’t take the strong smell and dust of roasting and powdering chilies…

So as expected, when we moved here, our bags were stuffed with jars/packs of various powders - rasam powder, sambhar powder/huLi pudi, menthyada hittu and of course chatni pudi, from both our moms. How long can a jar of tasty, colorful, flavorful chatni pudi last, especially in a foreign land when two foodies are missing our dear Bangalore? Of course it ended sooner than it would back home! And I knew it was something I had to make, at least to overcome the ‘missing-home’ feeling for a while!

So a call to mom and one to MIL, (they both have slightly different process), and how can yours truly not add her own signature to it? Well, the jar is already seeing the bottom, in just about a month’s time since I made it, so that explains it :) Here it is, my version, adapted from both of them and it came out wonderfully well.

Chatni Pudi - The Authentic South Karnataka Style 

Cooking time: 15 min
Preparation time: ~30 min
Makes about 3-4 cups
Lasts for a few months when stored in airtight container, i.e., if you let it last that long!

Bengal Gram dal/Chana dal/kadale bele - 1 cup
Black gram dal / Urad dal/ uddina bele - 1 cup
Dry red chilies - about 20; I use a mix of byadagi and guntoor
Curry leaves - 1 bunch with a handful of sprigs
Asafetida - one big generous pinch
Dry coconut - 1 cup; I used desiccated coconut 
Tamarind - a small lime sized ball
Jaggery  - 1-2 tsp, crushed
Salt - ~2 tsp

Oil - 2 Tbsp
Curry leaves - a couple of sprigs
Asafetida - a big pinch
Dry coconut - ½ cup; optional; If using here, reduce the quantity of coconut above

  • In a large skillet, dry roast chana dal and urad dal separately till it starts changing color and raw smell disappears
  • Transfer to a big platter on one side
  • In the same skillet, roast the red chilies, curry leaves and asafetida till aromatic; transfer to another side of the same platter
  • Next, roast the dry coconut till light golden brown; if using dry coconut, slice it into thick pieces and roast; it will get powdered later
  • Break the tamarind into small pieces and roast it on low flame for a couple of minutes, and transfer
  • Allow all these to cool down for about 15-20 minutes
  • When cool, start grinding the ingredients one by one. Start with the dals and powder them coarsely.
  • Make sure not to make it into fine powder, keeping it a little coarse adds to the texture
  • Transfer to a big bowl
  • Next powder the red chili, curry leaves mixture and transfer to the same bowl
  • Similarly powder the tamarind and salt next, make this as fine as possible so that it gets mixed well
  • Finally mixie the jaggery and coconut together and transfer to the same bowl
  • Now, mix all the ground ingredients with hand in the bowl. The mixture now looks very pale, with a dull color.
  • Taste it and if you feel it needs something, add it now - salt or more jaggery. It should have a balanced taste of all four elements
  • Once done, transfer the mixture again to the mixie jar in parts and run it for a few seconds each, till it is well mixed. This step gives the chatni pudi that awesome attractive color and look
Tempering: optional
  • Heat oil in a small pan, add mustard and allow to splutter
  • Add the asafetida and curry leaves and fry till crisp
  • Add a pinch of turmeric
  • You can add some more grated coconut here, but it is optional
  • Add it to the chatni pudi and give it a good mix
  • Allow it to cool for an hour or so, and then store it in an air tight jar. It stays fresh for a few months
  • Using byadagi red chilies gives it a beautiful color and guntoor variety gives heat; we use a combination of both
  • In mom’s version there is no tempering at the end, and full coconut and curry leaves are added while grinding whereas in my MIL’s version, they are added along with tempering as well

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

White Bread - One Easy-breezy Loaf

This is one easy breezy loaf of white bread. I can call it a no knead bread, but it does require some amount of mixing, though not kneading. Putting together the dough takes a few minutes of time and then you just need to wait for it to rise twice. And the result is one good nice loaf of home baked bread and the house smelling like a bakery!

When I baked it here, D came home in the evening and had a slice, and didn’t comment. Later in the evening I told him I baked that bread and he said he had thought I had bought it from the store!! While he apologized for not recognizing home baked bread, I was glad that it made him think it was a store bought one!

Back in India with a full time job, I always had difficulty in baking breads. Mainly because of the time it consumed - from mixing, waiting for it to rise, deflating and again waiting for a second rise, and baking and then cooling. Even if all the steps didn’t involve much effort, time was definitely needed. I mean, you had to stick around for at least 3-4 hours, which I hardly had on weekdays and weekends had other things to look at like traveling, socializing, going out or just taking some rest! And now, doing other things at home, I can always bake what I want, when I want!

Here’s how you make it… trust me it is one easy loaf to bake. I’ve taken it from Suma’s Cakes and More, originally from AllRecipes. I’ve adjusted salt and sugar to my needs and made it by hand, while she has used an electric mixer. Thank you Suma.

White Bread - One Easy-breezy Loaf

All Purpose Flour, sifted - 3 cups( 375 grams) Sifted and measured
Instant Yeast - 2 ¼ Tsp
Oil - 2 Tbsp
Sugar - 1 ½ Tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Warm water - 1 ¼  Cups

1Tbsp oil + 1 Tbsp milk for brushing the top before baking - optional
Melted butter for brushing after baking - optional

  • Mix together the oil, sugar, salt, yeast and 1 ½ cup of flour in a large bowl.  Add warm water and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Suma says the other option is 300 strokes with your hand, and trust me I did it! The batter here (with just half of the flour) is very loose almost like dosa batter consistency, and it is not difficult to beat it with hands. It took some 4 minutes of playing with the batter.
  • Add the remaining flour and mix well till you get a smooth dough. The dough will be sticky, but not very loose.
  • Coat the dough it a couple of tsps of oil and cover and let the dough rise till double in volume. The time for this depends on the outside temperature and could take anywhere between 30 minutes to 1.5 hrs. So keep an eye.
  • Grease a 9'' * 5'' loaf tin.
  • Once the dough doubles, gently deflate and transfer it to the greased loaf pan. You can oil your hands to pat the dough into shape.
  • Cover with a greased aluminum foil and let rise again till double in volume.
  • When the dough has almost doubled, pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C or 375 degrees F.
  • Brush the top with oil and milk mixture to get a brown crust and bake.
  • I was baking in a ceramic pan and baked for 37 minutes, but felt I should have kept it a couple of minutes longer. 40 minutes should be fine.
  • The bottom crust must sound hollow when tapped. Or the reading on your instant read thermometer must be between 200F to 210 F, if you are lucky to have one.
  • Brush the top with melted butter and allow the bread to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove it from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack. Slice when it comes to room temperature.
  • This bread is much easier than the other breads which require kneading. Even if made by hand, the effort is too little and is a child’s play.
  • The recipe requires the flour to be sifted first and then measured