Monday, July 30, 2012

Strawberry Preserve

It’s been raining strawberries here. The season’s last lot are here now and everywhere there is a stall selling these bright red luscious fruit. We too got tempted by it many a time and indulged in them quite a bit. And then we even went picking strawberries in a farm. This was the first time for us to see strawberry farms and we were pretty excited by the fresh, big and bright strawberries. We picked to big boxes and returned home happily!

I made milkshakes/smoothies almost every other day, had them in Corner House style ‘Fresh strawberries with Ice cream and Whipped cream’, one of my favorites, ate them as is. I also made a strawberry gateau which did taste amazing, but didn’t look that amazing. So it’ll not make to the blog this time. D has made another item out of it, which actually still in the making. If it’s a success, you’ll get a guest post by him here :D. Any guesses?

And after all these, there was still left and I had to preserve them for the later, apparently dull grey days. It’s my first winter out of India, so not really sure how grey is actually the described grey! Will have to wait and see :)

So here’s how to make it…

Strawberry Preserve 

Preparation Time: 10 min plus standing time
Cooking Time: ~40 min
Makes :One small jar
Source: eCurry

Strawberries - ½ kg, washed, & hulled
White Sugar - 1 Cup
Juice of half Lemon

  • Wash and hull strawberries. Combine berries with sugar in a large stainless steel/non reactive bowl; let stand for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Bring strawberries to a boil slowly, for about 6-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  •  Add lemon juice. Cook rapidly till it comes to a full boil, & then reduce heat to medium
  • Gently boil until strawberry mixture is clear/glassy and mixture is thick & mounds on a spoon, about 15-20 minutes. Mine took almost 25 min.
  • Since my strawberries were large sized ones, I mashed them a bit when boiling with a potato masher
  • I’ve reduced the quantity of sugar given in source since I didn’t want the preserve to be overly sweet. It is just about sweet and is fine.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kosambari - Lentils and Cucumber Salad

The month of Shravana has just begun as per the hindu lunar calendar. And this month signifies various festivals, vrathas and poojas every other day. Back home, this month would be so fully packed with all these and there will be ladies of the neighborhood invited for arishin-kunkuma-tamboola- a custom where married women are invited and offered haldi-kunkum along with some fruits/coconut with beetle leaves. Along with this there will be an additional item as well, like tambittu or chigali or sometimes kosambari.

Lentils are soaked in water for a couple of hours and are offered to the god/goddess as neivedya. And later this is tempered with some spices and optionally mixed with some chopped cucumber or grated carrots. These are put into small cups, traditionally something made of fresh/dried leaves, but of late these are replaced by paper/plastic cups and are offered to the visiting ladies.

Has a nice cooling taste and if the tempering is added just before serving it adds to the crunchiness and tasted great. I made this for the Jyothir-Bhimeshvara-vrata / Bhimana Amavasye last week and here it is…

Kosambari - Lentils and Cucumber Salad

Preparation time        : 5 min + soaking time of 3-4 hrs
Cooking time               : 2 min
Serves              :  4

Chana dal - ½ cup
Yellow Moong dal - ½ cup
Cucumber       - ½ medium sized
Cooking oil      - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds            - 1 tsp
Urad dal          - 1 tsp
Curry leaves    - 2 sprigs
Green chilies   - 2-3
Coriander        - 2 tsp, finely chopped
Coconut           - 2 Tbsp, grated
Salt                  - ¼ tsp or as per taste

  • Soak the lentils for 3-4 hours
  • Drain completely and wash it a couple of times thoroughly. Soaked dals have a strong smell and washing is very important
  • Chop cucumber into very small chops. You might want to peel it first if the peel is too thick. I prefer not peeling it to have some crunchiness and not to lose out on nutrients.
  • Heat oil in a small skillet, add mustard seeds and allow to splutter
  • Add Urad dal and roast till golden color
  • Add slit green chilies and curry leaves and sauté for a minute
  • Mix the chopped cucumber to the lentils, mix the tadka prepared above, salt and grated coconut
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve

  • The best way to chop cucumber is to hold it up vertically with your left hand, and go on hitting it with a knife in right hand, simultaneously turning the cucumber around so that there are slits in all directions for about an inch thickness. Then place it horizontally on the board, and cut out the slit portion into very small bits. This way, very small chops can be got easily.
  • Can use only chana dal or only moon dal or a combination of both in any proportion
  • I again stress on washing the soaked dals thoroughly

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes

Some quick chocolate cup cakes! It’s a very simple recipe, easy to put together, and tastes great. Made these for a small dinner party and served it with chocolate sauce and a scoop of ice cream. Sent the remaining to D’s office. Everyone loved it. I didn't frost it as it would become heavy and make us heavier too :P

Here’s the recipe…

Chocolate Cupcakes

Preparation Time: 10 min
Baking Time: 20-25 min
Makes: 12

All purpose flour - 1 ¼ cups
Unsweetened cocoa - ¼ cup
Baking Soda - ½ tsp
Salt - ¼ tsp
Sugar - 1 cup
Vegetable Oil - ½ cup
Egg - 1 Large
Vanilla extract - 2 tsp
Hot water - ¾ cup
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with liners.
  • In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, cocoa and sift a couple of times
  • In another bowl, combine vegetable oil and egg. Whisk to combine.
  • Add vanilla extract and stir.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients to the wet part by part followed by adding the hot water and mix well.
  • This batter is very thin and is of pourable consistency.
  • Pour into the paper lines cups, filling almost till the top.
  • Bake for 22 - 25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean
  • I got about 16 cup cakes. Since I don’t have a muffin tray here, I used stronger paper cups as is. And was afraid if the cups will deform too much if filled full, so filled about 3/4th and they baked fine.
  • They were done in about 22 min. May take slightly longer if filling full
 Source: Versatile Kitchen, again!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Eerulli Gojju / No Grind, Tangy Onion Gravy

Here’s one simple and quick side dish with onions that requires no more than a few ingredients, and does not need grinding. It is a traditional recipe, I suppose, for I’ve picked it from mom and mil, both. It requires a readymade rasam powder; we use a home made version, but any store bought one like MTR works too.

Just chop a couple of onions fine, sauté it, add the other ingredients and boil. Add a tempering just before serving for that crispy lentil touch! How easy is that!
And the result is one tangy, spicy gravy, that goes well with rice, dosas, rottis, etc. Perfect one when your taste buds need a tickle, but you don’t have much time to spare!

Eerulli Gojju - No grind, tangy onion gravy

Preparation time       : 5 min
Cooking time             : 10 min
Serves                         :  4 -5

Red Onion - 2 medium sized, chopped fine
Oil - 1 Tbsp
Rasam powder - 2 tsp
Tamarind pulp - 3-4 Tbsp
Jaggery - about 2 tsp when powdered; Can use sugar/brown sugar instead
Salt                  - ¾ tsp or as per taste

For tempering
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Chana dal - ½ tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - from one or two sprigs
Green chilies - 1-2, depending on the extra heat needed

  • Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a heavy pan
  • Add the chopped onions and sauté till translucent  
  • When done, add tamarind pulp, rasam powder, jiggery and salt and mix well
  • Adjust the consistency with more water and bring to a boil; check for the taste and add more of rasam powder, sugar or salt to balance the tartness of tamarind
  • Boil for a couple of minutes and keep aside
  • In a small pan, make the tempering by heating oil and adding mustard seeds
  • Once they sputter, add the dals, curry leaves
  • In case you want an extra spicy version, add 1-2 finely chopped green chilies and sauté   
  • Mix in the tempering just before serving so that it adds a crispy touch to the gravy
  • Can be had as a side dish to rice, mixed with a spoon of oil/ ghee, for rottis, dosas, etc

  • This gravy when boiled well, stays fresh for about 4-5 days in refrigerator

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Spicy Biscotti

So with a full sized oven and lot of time to spare, there is no surprise that I feel like baking every now and then. But unfortunately, it’s just the two of us here, and even if I send a portion of what I make to his office for his colleagues, the remaining part itself is too much for us! So as to make sure not to bloat up with all the calories that goes in, I consciously look for some low calories bakes, and also small sized portions. Got this apt recipe from Champa’s Versatile Kitchen, and adapted it so as to be in lines of our Khara biscuit, but with a lesser fat content.

The quantity of this batch is also small, makes about 10 small sized biscottis, perfect for my conditions! And it tasted good, as a tea time snack or simply to munch in between meals.

Spicy Biscotti

Preparation Time: 10 min
Baking Time: 30+20 min
Makes: 10 medium sized biscottis

All purpose flour - ¾ cup (I used ½ APF + ¼ WWF)
Rice flour - 2 Tbsp (the original says corn flour; I replaced with rice flour)
Egg - 1
Olive oil - 2 Tbsp (Can use vegetable or canola oil)
Sugar - 1 Tbsp (I skimped on this but felt it’d have tasted better with 1 Tbsp)
Salt - ½ tsp, or to taste
Baking Powder - ½ tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Green chilies - 2, or to taste
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 2-3 sprigs

  • Preheat the oven to 160 deg C.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Run the cumin seeds, green chilies, coriander and curry leaves in a blender without water to get a coarse mixture
  • Mix egg, oil and the ground spices in a bowl and whisk together.
  • In a bigger bowl take all the dry ingredients. Whisk them to combine.
  • Add the egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix with your hand, to get a dry dough.
  • Shape into a log and press so that it is half an inch thick.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, till the sides are slightly brown
  • Let it cool for 10 - 15 minutes.
  • When cool enough to slice the log, slice the log to ½" - ¾” thick pieces.
  • Keep them on the cookie sheet, standing on their bottom edges and bake for 20 minutes at 140 deg C, till dry.
  • Let them cool on wire rack.
  • Store in an air tight container when completely cool.

  • These do stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for more than a week. Champa says these freeze well too.
  • To make it eggless, use ¼ cup of yogurt in place of egg, as does she
  • The same can be done with Italian herbs and chili flakes or ground pepper, in place of the Indian spices, to get a different flavor

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Baked Aloo Tikki with Green Chutney

I’ve made aloo tikkis a couple of times before, but not the baked version. Back home, while cooking for a sizeable party, shallow frying the tikkis felt too elaborate; esp with all the other items to be taken care of alongside. Though the idea of baking would cross my mind, with the small oven that I had, baking them would mean more time consuming, so never bothered to try.
Now that I have a big oven here, wanted to try out the baked version. Also because I need to keep a check on the calories! With all the cooking experiments I’m making, I’m afraid we’ll both bloat up by the time we return to India!! Of course potatoes are a high-cal food, but I felt baking does reduce the amount of oil that went in and also saves time.

I’ve not used bread crumb to coat, instead used chickpea flour in the mixture for binding.
Here’s the recipe…

Baked Aloo Matar Tikkis

Potatoes – 4 medium sized
Green Peas – ¾ cup
Green chilies – 2, chopped
Garlic - 1 tsp, chopped
Ginger - 1 tsp, chopped
Coriander leaves – 2 Tbsp, chopped
1 tsp chat masala (or garam masala)
Gram flour – 2 Tbsp
Salt to taste
Olive oil – to brush the patties (or any other oil)

  • Boil the potatoes. Cool, peel the skin and mash them well
  • Boil green peas till tender and drain out the water
  • Mix potatoes, peas and add the rest of the ingredients and mix well
  • If the mixture feels very sticky add a bit more of the gram flour
  • Line the baking tray with foil. Grease slightly with oil.
  • Make small balls out of the potato mixture and flatten them over the prepared baking sheet
  • Keep it in fridge for a few minutes to set well
  • Preheat the oven to 220C
  • Bake it for 15 - 20 min, or until the crust turns golden
  • Serve hot with Green chutney

Green Chutney

Almost all the north Indian starters like tikkis, kababs, etc taste good only with this green chutney! I’m not much of a ketchup person for Indian snacks; I’d rather prefer a chutney that’ll go well with the dish.

With a huge bunch of mint and coriander bought from the local market, I needed no excuse to make this chutney for the aloo tikkis :)

Mint leaves – ½ cup
Coriander leaves – ½ cup
Green chilies – 2 or to taste
Thick Curd – 2-3 Tbsp
Lime juice – 1 tsp
Salt to taste

  • Take all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth
  • Do not add water, the curds should facilitate the blades
  • Adjust the consistency with more curd if required
  • Serve with any north Indian starter/snack or chats