Simple Meal – Thepla

July 30, 2008

Have you had one of those lazy days when you just want to sleep on the couch and do nothing? Well, that was today for me. Not that I could sleep on the couch..I had to go to work.  :-( But even at work I just didn’t have any energy. I so wanted the day to get over so I can go home, lie down on my comfortable couch, get my blanky and watch “So You Think You Can Dance” (OMG..I love that show!) :-D

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J and I coincidentally work in the same building (I know how lucky is that!) so I kept bugging him the entire day by calls and even met up with him twice to chit chat. Every time we talked we discussed what we would have for dinner. We tossed quite a few ideas, but seeing how really energetic I was (uh huh!) we decided to just do either pizza or Chinese delivery. And to tell you the truth, I couldn’t have been more excited! But once home, I felt guilty about eating unhealthy food once again (we had pizza hut pizza yesterday! :-? ). So I rolled up my sleeves (metaphorically speaking..with sleeveless t-shirt it didn’t work ;) ) and decided to have some thepla. My mom recently had sent some home made gujju pickles (murabo, chundo, godkeri, methi, etc.) all the way from India (Thank you thank you mom!!!). And what better to go with thepla…..chundo (sweet, tangy, spicy mango pickle) and MASALA TEA! Yes, tea..this is one of my comfort meals. I know tea probably sounds weird for dinner, but I love the whole combination. In fact, J who never had thepla before, loved them as well. He chowed them down with murabo (sweet, cardamom, saffron mango pickle) and tea. :-)

Ta

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Recipe: Thepla
(Makes 12 medium sized)

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups atta (wheat flour) + some for rolling theplas
3 Tbsp oil + oil for cooking
1 tsp turmeric
1-1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
salt per taste
water for kneading dough


Method

Mix flour, oil, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, and salt. Knead a little bit with the oil that was added to the flour so all the spices and salt gets mixed. Now add water and knead the dough. The dough should not be too tough or too soggy. It should have a medium consistency. Cover the dough and let it sit for 15 mins or so. (Time to get the tea ready ;-) ) Break the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each ball of dough into a thin disc (Not too thin as roti). I usually roll out each of the 12 dics and then start cooking them as I do not have speed nor can I multi task. Once you have rolled the theplas, heat a pan on medium-high heat (you don’t want to cook on too low heat, as it will result in rubbery thepla). Place one of the theplas on the pan. Cook on one side till you see bubbles forming on the underside. Turn the thepla over and smear the cooked side with oil. Turn it over again and smear the other side with oil. Cook both sides till they are done (brown spots start to appear). Continue till you have cooked all 12 theplas and enjoy with some masala tea!


Meeta’s Chocoholics’ Cake and Manhattan

July 29, 2008

I was very excited when Zlamushka of Spicy Kitchen chose Meeta’s What’s For Lunch, Honey? blog for the Tried and Tasted Blog event.

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Meeta’s blog is one of my favorite blogs. Her blog is full of delicious recipes, amazing photos, mouth watering desserts (some of them I had never heard of :-) ). Her passion and love for cooking is an inspiration to me. Though I am a regular visitor to her site, I had never made an attempt to cook any of her recipes. Her recipes looked so good and beautiful that I really don’t know why I didn’t try her recipes earlier.

I had J look at Meeta’s blog and select something that is vegetarian and something he would like to eat. And guess what he picked! His first choice was the Manhattan drink and then the Chocoholics’ Cake. J loved his Manhattan. In fact, I had to make a second one for him. I tried it too, but it was a little too strong for me. Both of us had never had bitters in a drink, and I do have to say it did bring a nice flavor to the drink. However, it took me a while to convert Meeta’s metric measures..but the end product was worth every bit of time :)

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The Chocoholics’ Cake was also out of this world. The addition of the blackberry spread to the cake is genius. It kept the cake moist and gave rich color to the cake. I followed Meeta’s recipe for cake exactly. However, I did double the recipe of the chocolate frosting..it was too good to not make a little bit more :-)

Ta

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Chocoholics’ Cake Recipe
(Adapted from Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey?)

Ingredients

For Cake:

1-1/2 cups of All purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1 cup milk at room temperature
1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup seedless blackberry fruit
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

For Chocolate Frosting

1 Ghirardelli Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate Bar (113 gm) – Chopped
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp butter
6 tsp heavy whipping cream


Method

In a bowl, add both the granulated and confectioner’s sugar with butter and mix with an electric mixer until the mixture becomes creamy. Break an egg, mix for a min. and then add another egg. Mix for another min. Add vanilla essence and blackberry seedless fruit and mix well. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and milk and mix till you obtain a smooth batter. Preheat the oven at 350 degree F. Butter an 8 inch x 8 inch pan. Pour the cake batter into the pan. Bake the cake in the oven for 45 mins.

For Chocolate frosting, heat the chopped chocolate, butter, whipping cream and sugar in a pot over gentle heat till you get a smooth mixture.

Once the cake is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool. Once the cake has cooled down, apply the chocolate frosting evenly over the top of the cake. Let it set for 15-20 mins and then cut a piece and enjoy!


Soft Orange Scented Brioches

July 27, 2008

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Of late I think I have caught the baking bug. I never thought baking would be fun and oh my gosh, I totally love it! I first started by baking the Focaccia Bread, which turned out pretty good than what I had imagine it would be. I had some blackberries and raspberries left over from the Baked French Toast I had made for Sia’s WBB-Breakfast Blog Event. So I tried to bake some raspberry and blackberry muffins. The recipe called for 2 tsp of baking soda. Now to confess to everyone, I did not know what the difference between baking powder and baking soda was. I know that is terrible, but I had never baked before. All I had at home was baking soda and thought about substituting baking soda for powder. I researched online about the difference between the two and realized that I could not substitute baking soda for baking powder. But I had already mixed the dough and the other ingredients and didn’t feel like going to the store to buy baking powder. So I used 1 tsp of baking soda instead and boy o boy, was that a big mistake! The muffins just didn’t taste right..there seemed to be something missing in the muffins. And I learned from my mistake to never take baking lightly and NEVER substitute baking soda with baking powder or vice verse.

After the muffin disaster, I couldn’t keep my mind off baking and decided to make Nicky of Delicious Days’ Orange Scented Brioches. I had vowed to myself not to screw this one up. So the night before we were supposed to leave for our family vacation to Arkansas, I got my bowls, ingredients and my Kitchenaid mixer ready and set out baking. In the beginning, Nicky’s recipe calls for adding flour, milk, sugar and yeast and to stir it once or twice and let it sit for 15 mins. And for me to not make a mistake was not at all possible. For some reason I thought the recipe called out for 1/3 cup of milk and while I was mixing I thought something was wrong because the dough seemed dry. So I check the recipe again and find out that I had messed up my metric to US (cup) conversion. It was supposed to be 1 cup of milk. I added the remaining amount of milk and mixed it again. By then I had mixed the flour far more times than the recipe called for. And after 15 mins of letting the covered dough rise, I did not see any bubbles on the surface as the recipe says it should. That scared me and I was not sure how the brioches would taste. But you have got to trust Nicky’s recipes..they are AWESOME! My screw up did not make that big of a difference in taste (at least that’s what I like to think ;)) When I took the brioches out of the oven, the kitchen was filled with orange scent and though it was 10 pm I could not resist having one with some strawberry preserves.

The only thing I can say about them is that you have to try some in order to explain the rich, sweet texture of the brioche. We took the brioches to Arkansas the next day and the whole family had them for breakfast. They all loved them. My nieces thought I had added some orange juice to them, LOL!

Ta

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Orange Scented Brioches (Adapted from: Delicious Days)

Ingredients:

1 cup warm milk
1 packet of dry yeast
2-1/2 cups All purpose flour (I had to add more flour than the original recipe calls for)
1 tsp of sugar for initial dough
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter + extra to brush the brioches once done
zest of one orange


Method

Mix flour, 1 tsp sugar, milk and yeast in a bowl and stir a couple of times. Cover the bowl and let it sit a warm spot for 15 mins. Add remaining sugar, egg, orange zest, salt, melted butter to the bowl and knead the dough. I used mixer to knead the dough but you can knead it with your hands as well. If the dough seems sticky (dough should be able to come off of the sides of the bowl easily), add more flour. Cover the bowl again and let it sit for 45 mins in a warm place (I placed it in the turned off oven). Place the dough on a floured board and knead one more time. Preheat the oven at 390 F. Divide the dough into 12 equal dough balls. Prepare the muffin tray by placing paper muffin cups in the tray (or you can butter the tray). Place the dough balls in each muffin holder on the tray. Place the muffin tray in the oven and bake the brioches for 17 mins. Remove the brioches from the oven and brush them with the remaining melted butter. After the last step, DO NOT just pop one in your mouth, though the taste will be fantastic, I do not guarantee that your mouth will not be burnt. ;)

This bread would be perfect for Bread Baking Day #12 blog event hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. Hope you all enjoy it! :-)

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Focaccia Bread

July 21, 2008

Ever since I started cooking, I have always wanted to bake. But I was and still really am scared of handling yeast and flour together. Finally, I decided I had to make an attempt at baking bread in order to conquer my fear. There were so many recipes that I came across for my first ever baking effort and I just did not know which one I should follow. I read quite a lot on what should the first time bakers do. One of the things I read was the discussion on use of dry yeast versus fresh yeast. Of course fresh yeast is much better to use because of the fluffiness it gives to the bread. But for the first time I did not dare to try fresh yeast..and to say the truth I don’t even know what it looks like.

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After a lot of browsing around for recipes and what bread to bake, I decided on Focaccia Bread especially after seeing the focaccia bread recipes at Vegan YumYum and Delicious Days. Both looked delicious, but I chose the Delicious Days recipe as it was quicker and involved less steps. :-)

This being my first baking experience I did not want to wander even a step away from the recipe. However, instead of adding olives I just added dried rosemary leaves. Baking was quite an experience..I think I enjoyed playing with dough more than anything. It was relaxing as well. I just kept digging my fingers in the sticky dough..probably a bit too much than I should have. But hey I was having fun..isn’t that important ;-)

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The only problem I had with the dough was that I couldn’t stretch it much. I was scared that if I stretched the dough too much in the pan it would tear. I don’t know if this is normal? Or am I just supposed to stretch the dough even though it seems that it would tear? Also, I don’t think I used the right pan for the bread. I used a smaller pan than what it should have been. That might have been also the reason why the bread was like a loaf instead of flat focaccia bread. All said and done, the bread was wonderful. The saltiness of the crust and the soft insides was a great combination. As the bread was baking, the rosemary aroma filled the kitchen and both J and I couldn’t keep our hands off the bread :-D Thanks Nicky!!

As the ingredients for the bread were: Flour + Yeast + Olive Oil + Water + Rosemary ..just 5 ingredients, I thought this would be a perfect entry for Nupur’s MBP: Less is More (originally initiated by Coffee)

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Ta


Creme Brulee French Toast

July 20, 2008

I had seen recipe for Creme Brulee French Toast on Epicurious a long time ago, but had never tried it. When I saw that Sia of Monsoon Spice is guest hosting WBB-Weekend Breakfast with the theme being to cook a breakfast/brunch dish with summer vegetables or fruits, I was ecstatic. Now I had a reason to make this amazing dish.

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Off I went to Central Market (I don’t have a farmers’s market closeby), where I saw different varieties of fresh berries and cherries. I realized how perfect using these summer fruits would be for Sia’s WBB-Weekend Breakfast blog event. Berries are very good for you as they are rich in antioxidants..You can find how good the berries are for you here. Making the french toast was super easy because I did the major work (which was hardly major!) the night before. The following morning all I had to do was mix all the berries and diced bananas in a bowl so that all the fruits marinate in their juices for a while and bake the french toast! I served it with the rasberries, strawberries, blackberries and bananas.

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I did make a few changes in the recipe. I did not add the corn syrup (as the brown sugar was quite enough) and instead of grand marnier I used Triple Sec (that’s what I had). The result, was rich, creamy, french toast. J did not enjoy it as much as it was super rich and mushy. I liked it but would probably make it once a year ..may be Christmas morning!?! I would probably add some nuts to it and also would flip the french toast once it is cooked and cook it further in the oven for another 10 mins for crispy crust. Overall though, it was amazing! Now off it goes to WBB-Weekend Breakfast event :-D

Ta

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Molasses Cookies

July 17, 2008

The other day, J asked me if I could make some molasses cookies. Being such a cooking enthusiast of recent, I totally jumped on it. I have never ever baked in my life so making cookies from scratch was kind of a daunting task. I googled a lot for a good recipe and found tons. I especially liked this and this.

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I wasn’t sure which one to follow, so I went with the first recipe I found which was from Epicurious. Making cookies was so easy and fun! The only difficult part was cleaning up after making them! I followed the recipe exactly for most parts. The only thing different I did was to add fresh grated ginger instead of ground ginger. The cookies turned out very good I received so many rave reviews about the cookies from family members and J’s coworkers. This has encouraged me to bake some more..hopefully soon :)

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Ta


Less is More: Simply “Delicious” Okra

July 16, 2008

The other day I went to Central Market (I LOVE this place) and was browsing around in the produce section when I saw her…there she was, lazing around in the corner.  Okra looked so dainty and tender (which is unusual as I have not come across fresh/tender okra very often) that I greedily stuffed my bag with some and continued on my stroll around the fruits and vegetables at CM.

Once home, I was not sure how to cook it. In the past, I have tried it stuffed, stir fried, with yogurt gravy, etc. But this time around I was looking for a quick and easy way to make it. While browsing around the other blogs, I found just the type of recipe I was looking for. Suganya of Tasty Palettes has an amazing, mouthwatering collection of recipes. The one that caught my eye for the moment was her Simply Okra dish. I followed the recipe to the T and result was tender, spicy (but not overly) and crispy okra. J, who hates okra, LOVED it!!! I had forced him to try just one tinny bit with the thought that he’ll try and would make his “don’t like this” face. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. After the first bite, he gave me this sly smile and said “I actually like this!”..and soon he had the bowl in his hands and was enjoying every bit of okra..I was so surprised that I literally stared at him open mouthed :)

Because of this okra dish, I get to participate in one of the blog events, MBP, started by Coffee for the first time. For the month of July, Nupur of One Hot Stove is guest hosting MBP: Less is More and the okra dish would be just perfect! :D

I served okra with mom’s recipe of Khatta mag (Green moong in spicy yogurt) and rice.

Ta


Recipe: Moong in Yogurt
(Serves 3)

Ingredients
1 cup cooked green moong (I boil it in pressure cooker with water)
1-1/2 cup of yogurt
1tbsp besan
1 tbsp lasan chutney (ground garlic, red chili powder and salt. You can also just add mashed garlic and red chili powder instead of lasan chutney)
2 green chilies
small piece of ginger
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
2-3 curry leaves
pinch of asafoetida
1 tbsp of oil
salt per taste


Method
In a large bowl, mix yogurt, ginger, green chili, lasan chutney, besan, salt and little bit of water (you can use the water from boiled moong if any left over). Make sure to not thin the yogurt out a lot.
Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add asafoetida, mustard and cumin and curry leaves. Add the yogurt mixture and cook for few minutes. Add boiled moong to the yogurt mixture and cook for another 5-10 mins. Serve hot with rice or roti.


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