Kadhi (Spicy Yogurt Soup)

September 7, 2008

Last week for me has been hectic at work preparing for an upcoming conference, and working on a few other projects. Though I love my work and enjoy most days, there are times when it gets frustrating, and tiring. When you just long a vacation. I am sure everyone has those days once in a while. At the end of those days, all I want to do is curl up on my couch and read a book. And believe me, I did just that on Friday night. Ahh..and that is what I needed.

Kadhi

Next week promises to be even more busy with me spending pretty much most of my time at the conference. So this weekend, all I wanted to do was relax, read book, watch some TV and enjoy some light but delicious meals. What better than khichdi and kadhi for a light meal on Saturday night. It had been a while since I had khichdi and spicy yet soothing kadhi. I say soothing, because something about kadhi comforts me..makes me feel relaxed. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and continued with our reading session.

I hope you all had a great weekend and continue to have a wonderful week. I’ll see you all in a few days :-)

Ta

Kadhi

Recipe: Kadhi
(Serves 2)

Ingredients

1 cup yogurt
3/4 cup water
3 green chillies (chopped)
small piece of ginger (finely chopped)
1 tsp gram flour (besan)
1-1/2 tsp jaggery
salt per taste

For tempering

1 tsp ghee
1 tsp oil
3 cloves
small piece of cinnamon
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin
pinch of asafoetida
3 curry leaves

Method

In a bowl, whisk together yogurt, water, and besan in a smooth mix. Add chopped green chilli and ginger, salt and jaggery. Pour the yogurt mixture in a pan and cook for 5 mins on a low-medium heat. Be careful not to cook on high heat as the yogurt may curdle. In a tempering pan, heat the ghee and oil. Once hot, add cloves and cinnamon stick. Add the mustard seeds. After the mustard seeds crackle, add cumin, asafoetida and curry leaves. Add the tempering mixture to the yogurt mix and cook it for another 10 mins. Serve it hot with khichadi or roti!


Tomato Soup with Gujju Twist

September 4, 2008

Last weekend, J and I went to visit our family. It was a fun time, especially seeing our nieces. But one of the dinner table discussion was VP candidate Sarah Palin for Republican party. Of course such a discussion in our family is an intense one because of the differing opinions. And it seems impossible for us to respect each other’s opinions…it has to be my way or highway! Don’t get me wrong..I love each and everyone of them, but they sure know how to test my love! ;-)

But I digress. I did want to talk about Ms. Palin. Has GOP lost its mind? Do they really believe that Hillary Clinton followers will vote for McCain just because of Palin’s gender? None of Hillary’s beliefs will matter just as long as you put a skirt clad figure in front of the public? Especially a female who does not know what a VP does everyday! Huh! that is very interesting. Don’t you think? If you get a chance do see this video from the late night shows. They are hilarious. I am sure you have to take everything with a grain of salt, but this is one huge rock, that you just cannot ignore!

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Anyways, I digress again. After all the eating out and heavy foods, we were just craving something light and hot and fresh. We made the tomato soup that both of us love. As far as tomato soups go, I rarely like the creamier/thicker version. I assume that’s because the soup mom made and the one I have been having for the past 15 years has been of thinner consistency and I could (I think I can but have never tried it!) have bowls and bowls of it. The soup for sure does have a gujju twist to it but I love it and I made J (staunch vegetable hater, especially tomatoes) fall in love with it too. A grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of hot tomato soup = bliss!:-D

Ta

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Recipe: Tomato Soup
(Serves 4)

Ingredients

4 tomatoes
1 cup water
1 green chilli (chopped)
1 small ginger (chopped)
1 tsp jaggery
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt per taste
cilantro for garnish

For tempering
1/2 tsp ghee
1/2 tsp oil
2 cloves
1 small stick of cinnamon
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin
3 curry leaves

Method

Score the base of the tomatoes and boil them for approx. 20 mins. or for as long as they are cooked and the skin peel off. Let the tomatoes cool and then puree them using a blender or mixer. Sieve the tomato puree to remove any uncooked parts or skin. Add water to the sieved mix and cook it on medium heat. Add all the ingredients of the soup to it. For tempering, in a small pan, heat ghee and oil together. Once hot, add cloves and cinnamon. Then add the mustard seeds. Once they start crackling, add asafoetida, and other ingredients for tempering. Add the tempering mix to the soup. Be careful as the it will spatter all over. Let the soup cook for another 5-7 mins. Serve it hot with grilled cheese sandwich.


Sev ni Biranj (Sweet Vermicelli/Sevai)

September 3, 2008

Sev biranj is a dessert that was made often at our home back in India. Biranj being one of my favorite desserts, everytime I visited India, the relatives would invite me for lunch/dinner and the dessert would be biranj. I am not trying to be rude, but none of those would taste near as delicious as the way mom made it. I guess that is how everyone feels about the dishes cooked by moms.

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Anyway, I was craving it last week after thinking about it for weeks. One call to mom on skype and I had the recipe. It is so simple and yet beyond delicious. You can either make it with milk or water. Also any dry fruits would work in this dish. especially toasted almonds. I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I do :-)

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Recipe: Sev Biranj (Sweet Vermicelli/Sevai)
(Serves 2)

Ingredients

1 cup Sev (I used wheat vermicelli)
3/4 cup boiling milk/water (+/-)
1/4 cup sugar (or per your taste)
3 cardamom pods (seeds crushed)
1 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

Method

Heat ghee in a pan and once hot add vermicelli to it. Roast the vermicelli till it becomes brownish. You’ll know when its roasted from the aroma. While it is roasting, boil milk (or water) in a saucepan. Once the vermicelli is roasted add the boiled milk (or water) to it. Be careful, there will be some splatters. Reduce the heat to low-medium and let vermicelli cook. When the milk (or water) is completely evaporated, add sugar to it while continuously mixing it. Once sugar melts, add crushed cardamom or any other dry fruits you would prefer. Serve it immediately.


Sizzling Fajita Whole Wheat Pita

August 29, 2008

The wheat flour I bought to bake whole wheat focaccia earlier was still lying around on my kitchen counter. Wanting to use it again, I started looking for recipes and I ended up here. I’ve been a silent reader on Jugalbandits’ blog for over a year. Theirs in one of the blogs I visit everyday. Their writing is witty, funny, sarcastic (I love it!), lively and really inspiring. Their enthusiasm for living a healthy life is remarkable. I don’t know if I can find any more adjectives for them..am kinda running out. :-) However, Bee and Jai, I do want to say thank you for your blog and I really do appreciate it!

Whole wheat pita

Now I made the pitas, but did not know what to eat them with. Don’t get me wrong, they were really tasty, however I wanted it to be complete healthy meal. When I opened the refrigerator to see what all I had, I had nothing substantial. J and I are going out of town for the long weekend and I have been avoiding going to the grocery store till after the trip. All I found were frozen Morningstar products, marinated onions that I keep on hand for sandwiches, etc., and cheese. J and I whipped this dish out and it was quite tasty for not using any fresh vegetables. It may seem like a lot of work, but trust me, it just took us 40 mins to prepare the meal..including 30 mins. of marinating time. However, there was a lot of cleaning after the everything was done, but J took care of it :-D

Ta

PS: I marinate one onion at a time and it stays good for at least 10 days in the refrigerator.

fajita pita

Recipe: Sizzling Fajita Whole Wheat Pita
(Serves 3, Makes 8 pitas)

Ingredients

For Whole Wheat Pita

2 cups Whole wheat flour
2 tsp dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water

For Vegan Steak Fajita

1 packet Morningstar Steak strips
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp dried garlic (you can use fresh..I was just lazy to use the fresh one)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp brown sugar
salt
pepper

For marinated onions (Can be made few days ahead)

1 red onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper

For Yogurt-Feta Sauce

2/3 cups yogurt
1/3 cup feta cheese (I used mediterranean herb feta cheese)
1/2 tsp dried garlic
salt
pepper

Method

For pita bread

Knead all the ingredients together into a soft dough. The dough should be smooth and it may be slightly sticky. Add olive oil, just enough to coat the dough and let it sit covered in a warm place for 1.5 hrs. Deflate the dough and knead for one min. Divide the dough into eight equal parts and roll them into balls. Place the balls in a baking sheet and cover them with a towel to prevent them from drying. Place a baking stone (if you are using a baking sheet, place it inside the oven when you are ready to bake pitas) and preheat the oven to 500 degree F. Take one ball and roll it out so that it is 3/16 of an inch thick, sprinkle semolina/cornmeal if using baking sheet, and place it in the oven. Bake it for 4 mins. approx. If it starts browning, take itout immediately even if not puffed up. Once done (does not smell yeasty), take it out of the oven and let it cool on wire rack. Repeat till all dough is used up. Once cooled, wrap the pitas in aluminum foil.

whole wheat pita

For marinated onions

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Slice the onion into thin rings. One trick I have learned for slicing/chopping onions is that put the onion in the freezer for 15 mins. Take it out and then chop/slcie to avoid “crying” over the onions. When kept in the freezer, the gas that gets released while chopping an onion also freezes. So no more crying! Line a baking sheet with foil and lay the onion slices on the sheet. Bake the onions for 30 mins. While the onions are getting baked, in a bowl mix balsamic vinegar, oil, brown sugar, herbs and salt and pepper. Once onions are baked, cool them and add them to the balsamic mix. Store them in an air tight container for a later use.

For fajitas, mix all the ingredients other than the morningstar vegan steak in a bowl. Add herbs or anything else you might want to add per your taste. Pour the marinade in a ziploc bag. Add frozen vegan steak to the ziplock bag and shake it to coat all the pieces. Let them sit for at least 30 mins. Heat a skillet on medium heat and cook the steak pieces for about 5 mins.

For yogurt-feta sauce, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Refrigerator it, until you are ready for assembling the pitas.

For assembly, spread about 1.5 Tbsp of the yogurt-feta sauce on the pita. Add pew pieces of vegan steak and onions. Fold it and tada..its ready to serve. You can also do the same in a pita pocket.

This goes to Zlamushka’s Spicy Kitchen for the Tried & Tasted event featuring Jugalbandhi for the month of August and to Sia of Monsoon Spice hosting the JFI – Soya blog event.


100% Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread

August 26, 2008

Focaccia bread is one of my favorite breads. Actually, now that I think about it, each and every bread is my favorite! Focaccia bread is similar to pizza, the main difference being focaccia having a thicker crust than pizza. I had so much fun baking my first focaccia that I had to make a whole wheat version of it.

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After reading a lot of posts on whole wheat breads from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads, I had to buy the book. I am an avid baker, but not by any chance a pro. So this book was a big help in understanding the science behind baking using whole grains. If you are really interested in whole grain bread baking, this book is definitely for you.

I adapted the focaccia recipe from the book. The book calls for a 17 x 12 inch focaccia. However, this being my first time with whole grains, I halved the recipe. The final product was a crunchy yet chewy warm focaccia. J had his with some asiago cheese spread whereas I was quite content with the plain focaccia dipped in olive oil!

Ta

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Recipe: 100% Whole Wheat Focaccia
(Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads)
(Makes 13 x 9 inch focaccia)

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour (preferably fine grind)
1/2 + 1/8 tsp salt
1/2 + 1/8 tsp dry yeast
1 cup + 1 Tbsp water (room temperature)
3/4 tsp agave nectar
3/4 Tbsp olive oil

For Olive oil topping

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp sea salt

Method

In a bowl, mix flour, salt, yeast, water and agave nectar for about 2 mins.The dough will be sticky, but smooth. Add olive oil to the dough and mix for another 15 sec. Let the dough rest, uncovered for 5 mins and then mix again for 2 mins. If the dough is too wet, add a small amount of flour.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and add 1/2 Tbsp olive oil to grease the parchment paper including the side walls. Place the dough on the sheet pan. Rub the top of the dough with 1 tsp of olive oil. Flatten the dough using the palms of your hands. The dough might not cover the entire pan. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.

The next day remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit out for 4 hours. While the dough is resting, pour 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pan. Add all the dried herbs mentioned in the ingredients. Heat the oil for 3 mins. Let the oil sit at room temperature.

Remove the plastic wrap covering the dough and drizzle 1 tsp of olive over it. Using your fingertips, starting in the middle, press the dough so as to fill out the pan. The pressed dough may still not fill the pan. Loosely cover the pan and let it sit for 20 mins. Repeat this procedure again. The third time, pour the herbed oil and using your fingertips again press the dough. You will see air pockets as you press. This time the dough should fill most of the pan. Cover the pan and let the dough sit for 2 hours.

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Preheat the oven at 500 degrees F. Add sea salt on top of the dough and place it in the oven. Reduce the oven temperatutre to 450 degrees F and bake for 15 mins. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and let it bake for another 11 mins.

Remove it from the oven and let focaccia cool on a wire rack. After 10 mins. slice it and serve with some olive oil.

This bread goes to Bread Baking Day # 13: 100% Whole Grains hosted by Jude of Apple Pie, Patis, & Pate.


Tikhi Bhakri (Spicy Wheat Flatbread)

August 25, 2008

Bhakri is a crispy unleavened wheat flatbread. I say spicy in the title, but it is not really spicy at all. It does include a small amount of red chili powder..thus the name spicy I guess. However, bhakri dough is very stiff..stiffer than parathas’ dough. I think making bhakris is an arm workout in itself…the main reason I think twice before making them ;-)

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Tikhi bhakri has been my favorite breakfast ever since I can remember. When we were kids, mom made this for us every Sunday morning. We used to so look forward to it. Hot bhakris with a dollop (I know..but I loved it!) of ghee on top of it and some godkeri (a gujju pickle) and lasan chutney on side with hot cup of tea! It was purely heaven. Both my sister and me would stuff ourselves up with bhakris and tea and then skip lunch. Even now, whenever I visit India, mom makes this every single morning of my visit.

When J and I visited India about 2 years ago for our second wedding ceremony (We got married once here in the US and my family couldn’t get here due to late visa appointments and a second time in India), it was his first time there and naturally he was quite nervous about meeting my family, relatives, indian food, etc. It was during this trip that I realized that in India (at least in our home), we have so many varieties of foods, gujarati, maharashtrian, north indian, south indian, street food..the list can go on. But all this is still Indian food..with Indian spices, curries, etc. unlike here in US where we cook/eat italian, indian, mexican, middle eastern, etc. cuisines. It was very difficult for J because first he had to be a vegetarian for two weeks..which he could manage (barely! ;-) ) and second he couldn’t take indian food for 3 times a day for two straight weeks. We had to go to restaurants for italian food and pizzas so that he could get a break. But one thing that he loved and begged my mom to make it, was tikhi bhari. He pretty much had it 3 times a day on some occasions. It is a prefect breakfast for us now…i.e. when I am ready for an arm workout!

Ta

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Recipe: Tikhi Bhakri
(Makes 6 bhakris)

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups wheat flour (atta)
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp oil
Salt per taste
Warm water for kneading


Method

In a plate with sides, mix flour, red chili powder, turmeric, salt and oil. Pour warm water in the mix and knead till you get a stiff dough. Make six equal pieces of dough. Roll each piece of dough into a round disc..about 1/4″ thick.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Place one rolled disc onto the skillet. When you see bubbles forming on the top side of the disc, turn it to cook the other side. With a clean kitchen towel press on the top of bhakri. Turn it to the other side and repeat pressing it down with the kitchen towel. This makes the bhakri crsipy. Once cooked on both sides, place the bhakri on a plate and pour a small amount of ghee on it. Repeat till all bhakris are cooked. Enjoy it with a cup of tea!

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Strawberry Mascarpone Crepes topped with Baked Strawberries

August 22, 2008

With end of summer nearing, I am grabbing all the berries I can. Especially strawberries and blueberries. So of course I end up with a huge quantity of berries…more than I can handle. Same thing happened last week and I had to find some way to use them before they spoiled. Trying to find some ideas, I came across this recipe at A Life (Time) of Cooking. The recipe is so simple and yet so delicious. If you have not tried it yet, please please do try it.

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I baked the strawberries and stored them in the refrigerator for next day’s breakfast. The crepes filled with strawberry mascarpone were cheesy, sweet and just yummy!

This entry goes to:
1. MBP – Fruit Fare hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. MBP is the brain child of Coffee of The Spice Cafe.

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2. WBB – Combi Breakfasts hosted by Latha of Masala Magic. WBB was originally started by Nandita of Saffron Trail.

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Ta

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Recipe: Strawberry Mascarpone Crepes topped with Baked Strawberries
(Serves 2, Makes 4 crepes)

Ingredients

Baked Strawberries

1-1/2 cup strawberries
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod

Crepes

3/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
3/8 cup milk (I used 2%)
1.5 tsp sugar
3 tsp butter (melted)
a pinch of salt

Filling

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp baked strawberries


Method

For Baked Strawberries, preheat the oven at 350 degrees F, hull the strawberries and place them in a baking dish. Add agave nectar, crushed cardamom seeds, and cinnamon stick to the baking dish. Mix the ingredients in the baking dish and bake for 30 mins.

For strawberry-mascarpone filling, add 1 Tbsp of baked strawberries and agave nectar to mascarpone. Mix till you get a smooth mixture.

For crepes, whisk flour, egg, milk, sugar, salt, and butter together to form a smooth batter. Refrigerate the mix for 30 mins. Heat a skillet and brush some butter in the skillet. Pour a small portion (1/8 cup) of batter into the pan. Tilt the pan till you get a thin layer of batter in the pan. Cook until brown on the bottom, approx. 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the crepe over and cook on the other side for about 30 secs. Transfer to a plate and repeat till all batter is used up.

For assembling the crepes, add a small amount of (about 2 Tbsp) of strawberry mascarpone to the crepe and roll it. Top off the crepes with remaining baked strawberries. Serve immediately.


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