Archive for September, 2006

Fabulous Food Finds 3

I’ve been busy blogging about sourdough, but of course one can’t eat sourdough starter for supper. I have been doing plenty of other cooking too — making a dent in my list of must-try recipes from the blog world.

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Every time I land at Masala Magic, I go looking for dosas. Latha’s dosas look so light and crispy; whenever I see one on her blog I want to pick it up and eat right here at my desk! I finally got to try these Simple and Easy Rava Dosas. As you can see, my dosa techinque needs a little perfecting. However, they tasted great, and the peanut chutney was *exquisite*. It was my first time to make a chutney and it definitely won’t be the last. A good excuse to practice making dosas!

latha's rava dosa with peanut chutney
latha’s easy rava dosa with addictive peanut chutney
(and overgrown cilantro sprig!)

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This Okra Kadi is courtesy of Mandira and her mother-in-law. Mandira has alot of interesting food at her blog, Ahaar, and this one really appealed. I didn’t have the main ingredient, but that never stopped me before… I used a long asian eggplant and some cauliflower.
I think mine came out thicker than it was supposed to be — but it was very creamy and delicous over rice.
I will definitely try it again when I have the proper vegetable at hand πŸ˜‰

mandira's kadi with eggplant and cauliflower
mandira’s okra kadi (with veggie substitutions)

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ingredients for jackfruit curry
ingredients for jackfruit curry

Jackfruit has intrigued me since I first read about it. I have not been able to find it frozen yet, but I finally found some canned and decided to give it a try. I soaked it overnight in plain water, but I’m sure it would taste different without that citric acid. I found this recipe for jackfruit curry at Delicious India. It smelled fantastic cooking — possibly because of the black cardamom? I had never used that spice before, and I really enjoyed the taste of this curry. I would like to try it again with a different vegetable, or even with eggs.

I modified the recipe only slightly, substituting dried red chile for green, and cumin-coriander powder for plain coriander.

pot of jackfruit curry
simmering jackfruit curry

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I was all ready to post this Food Finds 3 when Inji Pennu came back from her vacation/break and started making magic in her kitchen again. Tonight she posted a recipe for Drumstick with Toordal that sounded so good, I had to make it immediately. I told you I’d put it right on my plate, Inji! πŸ˜‰

If you’ve read this far, I’ll share a little story about this dish.

My drumsticks were frozen, so I didn’t take out the pressure cooker, but cooked the toor dal on the stove. I set the pots on and went off to other things. Shortly thereafter, the most delicious aroma wafted from the kitchen and I followed it back. It wasn’t the drumsticks — though I love them. It was the toor dal, simmering away in salted water with a pinch of turmeric added. I took up a spoon and sipped the broth, and in that one moment, it was as if I was transported back in time.

Last winter when I got hooked on Indian home cooking, I made alot of things with toor dal. Then I got even more interested, and wanting to experiment and try all the new and sometimes complicated things I saw.
It’s been awhile since I cooked the plain toor dal. I had forgotten just how good that dal is — simple and satisfying. In a very odd way, tasting that broth was a bit like coming home — back to basics. I’m glad I gave in to the impulse to make this tonight.

The coconut with garlic and chiles just added to the goodness — so run, don’t walk, to Ginger and Mango for a taste of this delicious dish. I didn’t even wait for the rice; it was perfect all by itself.

inji pennu's drumstick with toordal
earthy and comforting ~ inji pennu’s drumstick with toordal

Many thanks to Latha, Mandira, Inji Pennu and Delicious India for these great recipes.

Comments (3)

Sourdough Biscuits

sourdough biscuits
sourdough biscuits with creamed honey ~ the second batch

On Sunday night I baked the first batch of biscuits from the sourdough starter
I made. The biscuits weren’t *awful*; but I rolled them out far too thin, and they didn’t rise much. I was not satisfied. Tonight I finally got free to try them again. They are not difficult to make, but takes a little time to warm the starter and ‘extend’ it for baking. Sourdough starter’s leavening power increases with age,
so I hoped this second attempt would give better results.

sourdough starter

Here is what the starter looks like about ten days after beginning. I’m finding it very difficult to get clear photos of this; hopefully the general appearance is visible.

Here is one thing you can do with a working sourdough starter.
I also plan to try hot cakes (pancakes), and eventually, bread.

This recipe is very slightly adapted from The Little House Cookbook
by Barbara M. Walker
. This is a great cookbook if you’re interested in late 19th century American cooking, and/or have children who want to help in the kitchen πŸ™‚

The original recipe calls for letting the biscuits rise 30 minutes “if you have the time”. It also calls for pan-frying them. I did neither.

Sourdough Biscuits
makes 10-12 good-sized biscuits
remove bowl of sourdough starter from fridge 1-2 hrs prior to beginning!

1/2 c room temperature sourdough starter
(don’t forget to take the whole bowl of starter from the fridge
1-2 hours prior to beginning!)
1 c warm water
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour, unbleached
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

flour for dusting and rolling
butter, oil, or Pam for greasing the pan

Preheat oven to 150 F, and immediately turn it off. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 c sourdough starter, 1 1/4 c flour, and 1 c warm water (between 80-100 degrees F is good). Mix well and set the bowl in the warmed oven. After 15 minutes or so, begin checking the bowl. When the batter begins to bubble and foam up, remove the batter bowl from the oven.

batter after resting in oven

batter after resting in the warm oven about 30-40 minutes

Now preheat oven to 375 F. Remove 1/2 c of the bubbling batter back to the original bowl of starter. Cover the original bowl of starter and return it to the fridge.

Sift the remaining cup of flour with salt and baking soda, and add to the batter bowl. Don’t skip sifting — the baking soda must be thoroughly incorporated, and sifting is the easiest way to ensure this. Stir everything together until well blended. The dough will be quite moist.

mixed biscuit dough
biscuit dough, mixed and turned out onto floured board

Flour your bread board well. Sprinkle flour over the biscuit dough and take it out onto the floured board. Gently pat it into a circle. The recipe calls for rolling this circle out to about 1/2 inch thickness. However, this is a very soft dough; I found I only needed one or two passes with the rolling pin, and largely used my hands.

Using a floured biscuit cutter (or an upturned glass), cut as many biscuits as you can. Place them onto a greased baking pan. Any leftover scraps of biscuit dough may be added to the bowl of starter in the fridge. Over a couple of days they will sort of melt into the mixture.

cutting biscuits
cutting the biscuits – they are very soft

Bake in preheated oven 10 min or so, until biscuits sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and serve hot with butter, jam, jelly, or honey.

These were definitely an improvement over the first batch. Another time I might try brushing the tops with a little melted butter to get rid of the floury look. Other than greasing the pan, there is no fat used in the biscuits so that is a plus. They were fluffy inside and tasty to boot. Overall I’m thrilled with the outcome. I’ll send a few out to Vaishali and Tanuja for their travels. And of course many thanks to my sourdough benefactor – a special friend indeed! πŸ˜‰

Crash Course in Sourdough

crash course in sourdough

Comments (10)

Beets and Greens Pachadi

yum

Please allow me to begin by saying that I hope that dear RP will forgive me for completely destroying her fantastic beetroot pachadi πŸ™‚ The color was so lovely, I could not resist wanting to try. All week long I looked forward to the weekend when I would have the time to spend, uninterrupted, to cook the fresh beets.

beautiful beets
beautiful fresh beets

The problem was, I was feeling a little dismayed tonight, and was powerless to change it. I was full of excess energy. When that happens, I turn to the kitchen — usually to my own devices and often with disastrous results. This time I had a great recipe to begin with. I do not know what one could call the finished dish, but the inspiration was all from you, RP! πŸ™‚

Fresh beets in the local market are sold in bunches of four. I bought one bunch — half for pachadi, half for pickles. I cooked all the beets together, even though RP’s recipe called for peeling and dicing before cooking. I didn’t think turmeric would hurt the pickle I planned to make, so I cooked all four beets in boiling water with turmeric and salt. Cooled them quickly under running cold water, then peeled — skins slip right off. The tip I read here was to leave one inch of beet greens attached to the root, to prevent color bleeding. I did this but the beets bled some nonetheless. Not a problem as long as you peel over the sink.

peeling beets
skins slip right off the cooked beets

So enough of my nonsense talk… on with a recipe already.
I can’t believe I have the nerve to call it…

Beets and Greens Pachadi
a la RP

2 medium fresh beets
greens from one bunch of beets
1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp oil or ghee
1 small red onion, diced fine
2-3 green chiles, slit

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 c coconut milk
1 c yogurt
salt to taste

for tadka:

1 tsp oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
5-6 curry leaves
2-3 dried red chiles

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Scrub beets well under cool running water. Trim the tops one inch above roots. Boil roots with turmeric and pinch salt in water to cover. Test after 20 min, and every 5 min thereafter — especially if the beets are varying in size. We don’t want mushy beets for pachadi or pickle. Beets are cooked when they can be pierced with a fork with small resistance.

While beets are cooking, wash beet greens thoroughly and slice thin. Reserve.

Remove cooked beets to cool water bath, or rinse immediately under cold water to stop the cooking action. Leave 5-10 min, or until cool enough to handle.

When cool, remove tops and tiny root portion and slip the skins off. Dice beets and set aside. I did this on a plate to save my cutting board from staining.

In medium saucepan, heat 1 tsp oil or ghee over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook until wilted and fragrant. Add green chiles and cook a further 3-4 minutes. Add cumin seeds and sliced beet greens. Raise heat to med-high, cover the pan and cook 5 min or so, till leaves have wilted and give off moisture. Stir if necessary to get uncooked greens to bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium, add coconut milk and cook 5-10 minutes. Add cubed beets and cook a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in yogurt.

In a small pan do the tadka and pour over the beets and greens.
Serve hot with rice or, if you are a beet lover like me… just a spoon πŸ™‚

beets and greens pachadi a la RP

Thanks RP, for inspiring me to try fresh beets at last!

Please see RP’s Beetroot Pachadi here

Comments (9)

Spinach-less Blues ~ Garlic Dal with Rice and Cilantro

spicy green goodness
spicy green goodness

You can’t buy fresh spinach anywhere. An e. coli outbreak has taken it off the shelves, and while I’m glad for safety’s sake, I never realised how often I use spinach! I eat it fresh in salads. I cook it plain, with garlic, with dal, with rice, with mushrooms… well, you get the picture. To say I have been craving spinach would be an understatement. This afternoon at the market, my eyes joyfully lit upon some beeeeautiful bunches of cilantro. O lovely tender greens!

Of course I brought home several bunches. I quickly ground some with my handy Kitchen-Aid grinder, and this is what I made:

Garlic Dal with Rice and Cilantro

fresh garlic and cilantro
fresh garlic and cilantro

For dal/rice:

1/4 c. rice (I used sona masuri)
3/4 c masoor dal, divided
1/2 tsp turmeric
sufficient water to cook
salt to taste

For paste:

1 c fresh cilantro, stems and leaves, tightly packed
1 small whole green chile
2-3 big cloves garlic (can be reduced or omitted – but add extra chiles)
salt to taste

Small bit of ghee for serving

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Rinse rice and set aside.

Wash cilantro thoroughly and grind to a paste with whole green chile and garlic, using as little water as possible.

Rinse dal and cook 1/2 c (reserve the other 1/4 c) in sufficient water with the turmeric and a little salt.

cilantro paste in dal
adding fresh garlic-chile-cilantro paste to nearly finished dal

When dal is nearly soft, stir in the cilantro paste, reserved 1/4 c dal, and rice. Use your judgement and add just enough water to cook the rice. I used about 3/4 c. Cover and cook till the rice is done.

Serve hot with a little dollop of ghee.

garlic dal with rice and cilantro
curing the spinach-less blues… spicy-green garlic dal with cilantro

Comments (7)

hmmm… sourdough!

No, it was not oatmeal, nor crumbled paneer, though those are good guesses!
I thought it looked a little like crushed saltines, too.
It is dried sourdough starter.

This summer I was lucky enough to taste *real* sourdough pancakes made by a pro who was also kind enough to give me some starter. The whole concept and process reminded me of fermenting a batter for dosas.

dried sourdough starter
dried sourdough starter

sourdough starter and food - warm water, flour, and sugar
dried sourdough starter and food – warm water, flour, and sugar

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So Nabeela guessed it, and Maneka did too, for by definition, sourdough is “a leaven consisting of dough in which fermentation is active” — it uses wild yeast from the air. The use of sourdough as rising agent is old, but this was a new experiment for me.

On Sunday, the dried starter was mixed with about half-cup of warm water,
1 TB flour and 1/2 tsp sugar.

sourdough starter mixed
sourdough starter mixed with warm water, flour, and sugar

It was covered and left to rest in a warm place, then each day for three days
I fed it a little more flour — about 1/4 cup at a time.
Today, the third full day, it finally seems to be cooking.

sourdough day 3

I added flour once more, and gave it all a good stir.
Now the “sponge” seems to be taking off nicely.

sourdough day 3
the sourdough “sponge” is really bubbling now

This goes into the fridge for a few days. It will be removed daily, and fed more flour and warm water if necessary.
Hopefully, by the weekend, it will be ready for sourdough pancakes and biscuits. Then perhaps I will tackle a real loaf of bread!

Comments (17)

Take Two ~ Shilpa’s Moong Dal Chaklis

ingredients for moong dal chaklis
ingredients for Shilpa’s Moong Dal Chaklis

chakli dough
dough ready for the press

Thanks to everyone who told me how you’re *really* supposed to make the lovely spiral shaped chaklis… I followed the advice!

spirals ready to fry

I tried again with Shilpa’s recipe for Moong Dal Chaklis.
This time they came out great – thanks for the fabulous recipe, Shilpa!

shilpa's moong dal chaklis
more crispy chaklis

A couple of notes on this — Shilpa’s recipe called for cumin seeds — I used cumin powder as the first time, I think I burned the seeds. I also added a little chili powder. I steamed the flour in untreated coffee filters — that worked really well and no mess to clean up!

Comments (10)

Five Things To Eat Before You Die

And I don’t wish for anyone to die either — before *or* after eating. Thanks to my talented cooking teacher Vaishali, for tagging me to this most interesting survey; which was started at The Traveler’s Lunchbox.

Very difficult to choose only five!!

What I’d like to see is the list of five things you want to *try* before you die…

1. My mom’s thumbprint cookies. I could live without cookies and cakes… being weak when it comes to savory treats more than any other. These shortbread-like cookies, barely sweet, baked to golden, crumbly perfection, are the exception. A little dab of apricot jam graces the center “thumbprint”, and powdered sugar is dusted over all. Neatly arranged on her black laquer tray, they are an essential part of our family gatherings.

2. Cafe au lait and beignets from Cafe du Monde, on Decatur Street in the French Quarter, New Orleans. Half rich, dark, chicory-laced coffee and half hot milk (not steamed milk as in lattes, just hot hot hot), cafe au lait is served in old-fashioned, thick restaurantware cups and paired with a plate of fresh, hot beignets sprinkled with powdered sugar (hmm… more powdered sugar… perhaps I’m developing a sweet tooth after all?). Cafe du Monde is open 24 hours a day for a little taste of heaven on the Mississippi River.

3. Fresh sweet cherries from northern Michigan. Buy them warm from the sun at a farm stand along the road. They taste best when eaten out of hand in the car, while en route to the upper peninsula πŸ˜‰

4. Apple cider donuts from any one of a number of apple orchards in New England. Spend a crisp autumn day picking apples with your kids… then wander inside for a few of these hot-out-of-the-fryer goodies.

5. Real cheddar cheese from Harman’s in Sugar Hill, NH and the Farm Country Cheese House in Lakeview, MI. Both are carefully aged, sinfully rich and delicious. Add some fresh crusty bread, a glass of chilled chardonnay, and that special someone, and you have a perfect sunset picnic.

I tag Arjuna … and Ingi Pennu/LG when she returns πŸ™‚

Comments (3)

Murukulu/Chakli ~ First Try

I’ve been trying to avoid fried food… but tonight,
Shilpa’s picture pushed me over the edge… I had to try…

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deep-frying murukulu
deep-frying the murukulu

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These were made using Indira’s recipe, minus the sesame seeds. They don’t call it “first try” for nothing — but finally toward the end, I got a few of the circular shapes.

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murukulu - half a pound!
crunchy murukulu – half a pound!

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I think I made the dough a little too soft, and I chickened out and didn’t add all the chili powder called for, but all in all I was fairly pleased with the attempt.

Comments (9)

Staving Off a Craving ~ Lower Fat Chaat

“MMmmm… I could really go for some dahi papri chaat from India Castle today…”

“You don’t need to spend $6.50 on a little bowl of potatoes and yogurt”.

“But it’s not just potatoes and yogurt! There are chick peas!”.

“You have chick peas at home, you lazy…”

“But this has that wonderful tamarind sauce… and the little fried…”!

“That’s it — no fried anything for you”!

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That’s the argument I had with myself at work this afternoon. While my better side won out, I was still craving that chaat. I didn’t want to cave in and buy anything fried; after all, I had won the battle with my conscience. I did, however, buy a jar of Swad Delhi Ki Chat sauce, and tried to emulate the dish.

I don’t know how authentic it was, but it satisfied my craving tonight.

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Lower Fat Chaat

1/2 c cooked potato, diced
1/4 c cooked chick peas
2-3 small pappadums, microwaved

1/2 c yogurt
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/4 c Delhi Ki Chat sauce

Mix chaat masala with yogurt, thin with water if necessary. On a plate, arrange the potatoes and chick peas with papad pieces around. Top with spiced yogurt and bottled sauce.

Voila! Lower fat chaat in five minutes or less πŸ˜‰

lower-fat chaat
lower-fat chaat, a quick-fix for my craving

And if you want to try the Real Thing:

Asha’s Salsa Bhelpuri

Indianadoc’s Sweet Corn Chaat

Lera’s Masala Puri Chaat

Sailu’s Dahi Vada

Shilpa’s Chaat Collection:
Bhel
Alu Papad Chaat
Sweet Chutney

Vineela’s Fenugreek Poori in Dahi Chaat

Comments (5)

All About Me Meme

Thoughtful Maneka tagged me to play this “me” meme.
Be sure to check out her spicy vegetable kurma!

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I am thinking about: making a pot of bean soup for this cool weather

I said: I’d better put the beans to soak!

I want to: see my children follow their dreams and be successful, but more importantly content and happy in the lives they lead

I wish: for a little log home in the woods of northern Michigan… with birdfeeders!

I regret: not finishing college when I had the opportunity

I hear: the cats having their nightly chase-game

I am: strong outwardly, a chronic worrier inside

I dance: in the kitchen, with joy and abandon, to Song Of The Lakes, among others…

I sing: decently, but some would say too often!

I cry: silently, when I see my children struggling or suffering

I am: just a kid at heart

I am not: a soccer mom

I write: with much more clarity than I speak, as a rule

I confuse: hunger and boredom πŸ™‚

I need: to learn to relax and not worry so much

And finally…I tag: Karthi, and anyone else who would like to join in.

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I wish I may, I wish I might...

Comments (1)

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