Monday, January 30, 2012

Power brunch with moong and khakra

This is a rustic and filling breakfast/brunch dish. The whole moong dal is full of protein and fills you up and the thin khakra (crispy flat bread) topped with some ghee and the jeeradu powder (it is like chaat masala with hing, black salt, turmeric, roasted cumin powder, ginger powder etc.) is delicious just by itself. But when eaten together with a light salad of cucumber, raw onions and green mango it is a meal by itself. On a cold day a cup of tea would be perfect with it and during summer a chilled glass of spiced buttermilk.

Ingredients for making moong

1 cup whole moong (soaked in water overnight)
1tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp hing
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp coriander cumin powder
1-2 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
pinch of sugar (optional)
juice of a lemon
oil for cooking

Heat a little oil in a pot and quickly drop in the mustard and cumin seeds along with the hing. Mix all the dry masalas and add some water to make a smooth paste. Add that in along with the moong that had been soaked.. (Drain the water from it). Mix well and add fresh water, enough to cover the moong. Cook till it is soft and done. The water should be soaked up. Add the lemon juice and serve along with plain khakara smeared with ghee and jeeradu, some peanut chutney and salad.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kashmiri paneer


I love anything and everything cooked in mustard oil. But I know that it is not something that everyone would like easily. It has a strong and pungent flavor and tastes wonderful in Indian pickles. I love to use it when I make parathas (Indian flat breads), especially the stuffed ones, or even with vegetables like cauliflower or potatoes. This is one dish that can only be made with mustard oil. The recipe was given to me by a Kashmiri friend. And this is my version of what I remember.  I had tasted this the very first time several years ago on my visit to Kashmir and had fallen in love with the taste. It is different and wonderful. The gravy is almost like a thin milky broth but it is highly flavorful. I remember eating this with plain rice and haak (which is a green leafy vegetable that tastes somewhat like collard greens and I believe is local to  Kashmir). I tried to recreate that meal by using kale to go along with the plain rice and paneer.

Ingredients for paneer 

250 gms fresh paneer (it should be around 1 cup when cubed)
1 cup water (or just enough to cover the paneer cubes)
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1/2 tsp good quality asafoetida (hing)
1 tsp dry ginger powder (saunth)
1/2 tsp fennel seed powder
3-4 cloves
1tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black pepper
2-3 green chillies
2-3 dry red chillies
3/4 cup whole milk


Shallow fry the paneer cubes in mustard oil till they are golden brown. (The original recipes calls for deep frying but I was quite happy with the shallow fried taste). Take water in a pot and bring it to a boil along with fennel seeds powder, ginger powder, cloves, asafoetida and turmeric. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Now add the fried paneer in this water. I did not drain the oil I used for shallow frying as it was not too much and it  adds to the flavor of the dish. Cover and let it simmer for at least 5 minutes. Add salt according to taste. Now pour the milk in it. Crush the raw cumin seeds and add to it along with cracked black pepper, sliced green chillies and whole red chillies. Simmer for another 1-2 minutes.

For the greens. Trim the stems of the kale leaves  and give a rough chop to it. Take a deep heavy bottom pan or pressure cooker. Heat enough  mustard oil  and once it is smoking hot add asafoetida and plenty of dry red chillies. I like the flavor of garlic so I added whole garlic cloves in it and let them caramelize.  Now add the kale leaves, salt and some water. Cover it with the lid and let it cook till the leaves wilt. It is that simple but very flavorful when served along with steaming hot rice with a dollop of ghee and the peela paneer (yellow paneer). It was the ultimate comfort food for me.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rosemary and cheese sweet potato hash browns with sour cream dip

I wanted to make sweet potato pancakes, something like potato latkes or even hash browns. I like the ones that are crispy and bite sized. I grated the sweet potatoes added some jalapenos to it and I was amazed by how delicious these turned out to be. I used the  appe pan or this skillet.

For hash brown
3 medium sweet potatoes
5-6 slices pickled jalapenos
1 tbsp corn flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp rosemary
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Any fruit preserve to serve (I used fig and orange)

For the dip
1/4 cup sour cream
1tbsp chopped jalapenos
1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp grated garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Grate the sweet potatoes and add the corn flour, salt, pepper, jalapenos, rosemary and 1 tbsp olive oil to it. Mix well and keep aside. Mix the rest of the olive oil and rosemary in a bowl. Heat the skillet and  brush it with the olive oil and rosemary. Fill the molds with the sweet potato mix. Top with grated Parmesan  cheese, cover  and  cook on  medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Keep checking to see that it doesn't burn. Slide them out out with a tooth pick or a sharp knife and serve with the dip and some fruit preserve.

For the dip mix all the ingredients listed and serve along with the hash brown.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rainbow cupcakes


These pretty rainbow cupcakes filled with cream are deceptively easy to make. Although I do not use food colors in my cooking, I made an exception for this one, as these were irresistibly cute and fun to make and I guess it can't hurt using it just once. I came across the idea in Family Fun magazine and I had to try it. 
1 pack store bought white cake/cupcake mix with filling
Food colors
1 tbsp. ground flax seeds
1 cup vanilla soy milk

I followed the directions in the cake box but instead of 1 egg I used the flaxseed and soy milk mixture. I tried this for the first time and was surprised how well it worked. The cupcakes were moist and fluffy and tasted just as good. 
So to make the cupcakes prepare the batter as per directions and divide the batter equally in a few bowls, depending on the number of colors you are using. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and add a spoonful of cake batter layering it with different colors. If using the cake mix with filling, then squeeze the cream filling in before the final two layers. Bake as per instructions.