Thursday, December 31, 2009

mocha matar ....forget about keema matar


Kele ka phool or the banana heart is the bright pink colored tip of the banana inflorescence, this delectable vegetable ( flower ) is cooked into many countries , not only in different parts of India ....that too in many many ways and one thing is sure that all of those recipes must be wonderful.......the reason is , after cleaning those tiny flowers with clinical precision and chopping them like you are handling your own fingers , you will surely do something special with them.... they taste really great when treated nicely.

Some people par boil the flowers and discard the water as the flowers are slightly alkaline , i never do that for alkaline food is good for us ..... many useful minerals are also lost during parboiling and straining the flowers...they are so rich in potassium and iron n B-complex Vitamins ( all water soluble )....

To make them less alkaline to the palate , tomatoes or curds or both can be added for curries ( like this one) , addition of a few drops of lemon juice would be good too....One more trick to make them less alkaline to the palate is cooking them with legumes ...with green mung or with green peas it tastes great , other legumes can also be tried as the possibilities are endless...adding grated coconut also helps in neutralizing the taste...

I had cleaned the florets and kept them for making a kabab with it , the plan got changed and i made a
shallow fried pakoda using the inner heart , while the outer flowers were used for this mocha matar ....made almost like keema matar and is a good vegetarian alternative....here is a picture of chopped up flowers of banana...


Cleaning and chopping the tiny florets is a bit time consuming but it is well worth the hard work....there are many write ups on how to clean these florets on the net so i did not bother to take the pictures and come straight to the recipe.....kele ke phool aur matar ki subzi.....

 ingredients...
cleaned and chopped banana florets 1.5 cups
green peas 1 cup
chopped red onions 1/2 cup
ginger 1 inch piece, 5-6 garlic cloves n 5 green chillies made into a paste
chopped tomatoes 1 cup
coriander greens with stem chopped and kept separately , a cup of both
mint leaves chopped 1 tbsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
everyday curry masala 2 tsp
special garam masala 1 tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 2 tbsp
cumin whole 1 tsp
cloves 2
procedure...

Dissolve turmeric powder and both the masala powders in 1/4 cup of water n keep aside.

Heat oil in a kadai and throw in the cumin and cloves ...wait till they splutter...i love adding a whole dry red chilly too at this point but did not use this time as Arvind had instructed me to cook less hot this time..


Add the chopped onions and let them get lightly browned , add the masala paste and fry till it sticks to the base of kadai , scrape and fry till aromatic...


Add the green peas and sallt , sprinkle some water , mix well and cook covered for 5 minutes..or till the peas are 3/4 done...


Open the lid and add the banana florets along with the coriander stems in the kadai.....


Mix well and stir fry without covering for a couple of minutes ....till the banana flowers look wilted and soft...


Add the chopped tomatoes , mint leaves and the coriander leaves , mix well and cover to cook till everything is well blended , tomato puree can be used if fresh tomatoes are not available or you don't want those red specks into the curry , taste the curry by dipping your fingertip into it at this point....if it still feels alkaline to the palate , add 1/4 cup of thick curds and cook to blend well........


This is a very rich looking curry and you can add ghee on top before serving .......we like it as it is .....the pictures of the cooked curry are not very good as it was steaming hot when i clicked it..........


The curry becomes better the next day , all the spices and the mint n heavy dose of coriander greens make it a curry bursting with flavors.....it becomes very rich in fiber owing to the coriander stems ...the mocha is high on fiber itself too.....all the goodness with great taste...

Monday, December 28, 2009

last minute Christmas cakes : a carrot orange cake and a zucchini and lemon cake, all in a day...


After seeing so many cakes and cookies, truffles and ginger breads all over the blogosphere , I was like ...to be or not to be........I rarely bake a cake or a cookie these days as both of us are off the desserts for some time....that is just one reason, the other reasons being plain procrastination. This recipe proves that cakes are not as high on calories always.


I know every reason for not making cakes will just be a lame excuse. I did not soak my dry fruits in rum in advance so no choice to make a proper fruit cake bursting with goodness of rich dry fruits and mixed peels. Then I thought of making an orange cake and even kept two large oranges on the kitchen platform to remind me of turning them to a cake. And guess what, even they could not prompt me to bake a cake. In the meanwhile I had to tell over telephone the exact measurements and recipes of different cakes to friends who were baking . Several calls followed to tell me the chocolate cake was yummy and that orange cake was an instant hit and that last minute addition of rum worked well...........that was the moment I could not resist.....



I had carrots and I had those oranges, mandarins actually which are called kinnoo in this part of the world. Two large kinnoos were actually waiting for the cake to happen as I told you.....overripe and the skin wrinkled and semi dried ....perfect for this cake as this peel is going to give a texture and taste similar to mixed peels .........and heyIi had a large tender zucchini and lots of lemons too.........


Forgive me for poor photography but it is to show you the dry leathery peels being chopped as one of the friends could not do it just by telephonic instructions...... hey S , this is for you.......I chopped them once more cross wise to make them even finer ........let's see how it was made ...a frugal cake with a rich taste........

ingredients....
mandarin peel chopped finely 1 heaped tbsp ( or more )
( i used peel of two mandarins )
finely and neatly grated carrots 2 cups
all purpose flour 2 cups
sugar 3/4 cup
vegetable oil 3/4 cup
eggs 3
baking powder 3/4 tbsp
baking soda 1/4 tsp
juice of one mandarin orange ( a little more if the batter is too thick)
the juice from the mandarin i used was less but very concentrated as it was an overripe n dried one


procedure...

Mix the grated carrots and orange juice and keep aside..

In a large dry bowl sieve the flour , baking soda and baking powder  twice to allow proper mixing , keep aside...

In another deep bowl whisk the eggs , oil and sugar together till creamy n fluffy , pop in the chopped orange peel , whisk once again and add the grated carrots with juice , whisk till combined ...




Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture in three batches while folding it nicely to incorporate.......do not whisk vigorously .......it's ready to be baked now...adjust consistency by adding more juice if the batter is not in thick flowing consistency. It will be thick due to grated carrots and not flowing freely but it should be a thick but flowing batter...ribbon consistency will not be achieved here......the picture will make it clear...it is with zucchini and lemon which i made just after this cake n took the picture for showing the consistency.......


Pour in a greased and dusted pyrex dish and microwave for 7 minutes on high ( 900 W) , check by inserting a needle , put back into the MW preheat while the cake is still inside the oven ...after two minutes open the door and quickly place the cake dish over the high wire rack to be browned nicely by the hot grill........3 minutes is enough.......i kept it for 4 minutes and it browned a little too much......but the brown part was the yummiest..........see the top and the side......


As I said , after baking this cake I made another with zucchini and lemon using the same recipe ...replacing carrots with zucchini and mandarins with lemons....using two lemons for half of this quantity.......this cake was yummy too and the color is just so beautiful....


The cakes vanished quickly as I sent half of it to a friend too....... and then I made another .....a loaf this time .....


This cake ages well and becomes more rich in taste after a couple of days...that is the reason why I baked the loaf ...it is sitting in the fridge and a fat slice appears on the table everyday........today was the second day by the way..........for the loaf....

The grated carrots provide a nice fruity texture while the flavors are brought by the rich mandarin peel , I could have added a few nuts to enhance the richness but the orange flavor would have been masked by nuttiness ......moist fruity bits in a fluffy yet dense cake , that is how the carrot and orange cake was.

Zucchini provides softness to the cake and the much loved color to enhance the lemon feel.....lemons are to be used liberally to get a fairly lemony zing ...i used the grated zest of two of my garden fresh large lemons for half the above recipe..........zucchini does nothing to the taste though , but the softness n color it provides to the cake is just so fit for the lemon flavored cake...........

Truly a frugal recipe for great tasting cakes.......


Wishing all my readers for a wonderful year ahead.......

Thursday, December 24, 2009

drumstick curry in mustard gravy


 What do you do when you have a glut of drumsticks ??

My regular readers know that i have a giant tree of drumsticks in my front garden , they are bursting with their best flavors right now and the sight of those branches heavy with fruit are forcing me to pluck them , wash them , peel n cut and ..........

Needless to say , i have been using the flowers and the sticks for different types of curries considering it is so healthy....see the health benefits of drumsticks here.....i must add that i see that this fruit ( or vegetable) is a favorite of parrots ....i see large flocks of beautiful parrots come to the tree , perch just above the fruit , bow down and peck their beaks into the fruit to eat the flesh ..... when the fruit will be mature n seeds will develop inside  , the parrots beautifully slide down the drumsticks to pick the seeds from the splitting pods........i can spend hours watching them doing this ..... earlier , i have seen parrots perching on mature sunflowers in my garden to pick the seeds to snack on..........they know instinctively what is good for them.......

I use this vegetable in sambars mostly , this curry is a traditional eastern UP preparation and this season somehow i have made this particular curry many times ....both of us are loving it with hot steaming rice...it is fun to chew the pieces of drumstick which are quite fibrous n hard , the flavorful flesh lies in the middle of the stick which has to be either scraped out or you chew the stick to eat the flesh and then discard the fiber....this mustard gravy make it differently flavorful n it's real fun to chew on these flavors......this time when i made the curry , the sticks are young and soft and the flesh is less chewable :)

I do not peel the drumsticks , as these are so fresh n home grown.... just some of the stringy fiber is pulled off and then it is chopped in 2 inch long pieces.......


ingredients....

a dozen of soft baby drumsticks or 6-7 mature drumsticks
2-3 potatoes peeled and cut in wedges
3 large tomatoes cut lengthwise
my everyday curry powder 2 tsp or 1/2 tsp each of coriander, cumin n pepper powders
turmeric powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 2 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
coriander greens a handful

to be made into a fine paste
2 tbsp of yellow mustard seeds ( if using black mustard seeds , pass the paste through a sieve to remove the skin)
4-5 green chillies
6 garlic cloves

procedure...

Heat oil in a thick base kadai and pop in the cumin seeds and wait till they splutter..

Throw in the potato wedges , stir fry for a couple of minutes and then add the drumstick pieces too , stir fry lightly till the potatoes are slightly brown n the drumsticks are glossy...


Sprinkle the everyday curry powder , turmeric powder , salt and add the chopped tomatoes to it...


Stir fry the mixture for a couple of minutes and then pour the mustard paste , add water to make a curry of desired consistency , and let it boil covered for about 10 minutes , the tomatoes get mushy , the potatoes soft and the drumsticks yield to pressure.......


Add the coriander greens , add some lemon juice if you like ,cover and put off the flame and let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving ....


 Serve hot over a bed of hot fluffy rice....


This is a curry which my grandmother used to make and till date i remember her fondly whenever i cook this curry.....she passed away 10 years back and she was 100 + of age then .........she could travel alone at that age , a straight walking slim woman , having salt n pepper hair ( not silver)...believe me , she loved to chew ganne ki pori ( peeled sugar cane pieces) and she loved to chew on these drumsticks too...............

Am i talking too much ??

Hey i have a request for all of you , if you have a recipe using drumsticks on you blog or otherwise please link that recipe to the comments section , i want to cook this veggie in as many ways i can.....will you please ??

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

prawns in a nigella n green chilly sauce


This prawn recipe is just so simple , apt for a quick meal ...especially for people like us, who need just one dish to go with our roti ...i am so into just one dish for a meal that i feel i have excelled into making short cut one dish meals fashionable in my own home at least ...either one pot meals or rolling out 3-4 rotis and a bowl of a dryish curry........just that....but hey , i make the curry spicy n hot and no one is complaining...........

just 6 ingredients....... 

prawns 250 gm
nigella seeds 1 tsp
green chillies split 10-12 ( more if you wish )
turmeric powder 1 heaped tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 1 tbsp


procedure...
 
heat mustard oil in a kadai and pop in the nigella seeds wait for a couple of seconds and throw in the slit chillies , turmeric powder and the prawns in that order ...toss and stir for a couple of minutes and add the salt ....keep stiring or tossing the pan to cook the prawns ...do not overcook to avoid the prawns from getting chewy ....it will take about 4-5 minutes only if the prawns were on room temperature add a splash of water to mix and coat the sauce and serve hot with anything of your choice........we need our multigrain roti with everything  ........

Can anything be simpler than this for a hot dinner date ???

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

gajar ka murabba.....made in microwave..



Here comes a dessert which is very very healthy and is a traditional dessert i must say.....murabba is a sweet preserve of a fruit and is Indian version of jam , the murabba can be made to look like a candy when it is made with higher amount of sugar , or it may be made like a chunky jam . Many fruits are traditionally preserved to make murabba , amle ka murabba is the most common i have seen personally ( my dad used to force us to eat the murabba , made in huge quantities every year ) , seb ka murabba , karonde ka murabba , bel ka murabba ( my dad could not succeed in his attempts to make us eat this one ) , ananas ka murabba and so on ....basically any fruit can be preserved like a murabba ( some of them having huge health benefits like amla n bel ka murabba )....some murabbas like this aam ka chhunda is used like a sweet chutny or a spread...


Carrots is a less likely choice to be made into a murabba , but it is considered very healthy ( toning food ), it is best to be made in season i think , and i always prefer making it in jaggery to get maximum flavors  and to make it differently flavored than gajar ka halwa , as we mostly have it with a topping of malai.....it can be served without cream too.....

Carrot murabba is considered very healthy and healing food when taken with milk for breakfast ( some cereal can be conveniently added to it for good reasons ) ...here i have made it like a dessert , different from gajar ka halwa.....

Traditionally , whole carrots are peeled , forked and cooked in jaggery or sugar syrup till the syrup becomes frothy with bubble sand the carrots look shiny and glazed nicely ( 600-700gm sugar / jaggery per kilo of carrots ) ...after cooling the carrot murabba is kept in airtight jars , the murabba can be spiced according to your choice....


 In my instant version , carrot slices are microwaved with crumbled jaggery to make a murabba and then it is served with a topping of homemade malai , i still prefer home made malai because it is fresh and you get more flavor for traditional preparations , of course you can use fresh cream from a tetra pack if you don't get home made malai but i strongly recommend malai for this ...just once you try n you'll know what i mean....

ingredients...
 ( for two servings )

2 large carrots sliced obliquely to get large slices
1/2 cup of crumbled jaggery ( more or less according to choice )
fresh cream or malai to serve 2 tbsp
chopped nuts a handful
candied ginger ( optional ) one slice

procedure...

Place the carrot slices in a large ceramic bowl , cover with the crushed jaggery and microwave for 2 minutes, it gets syrupy as the water from carrot slices is drawn out  , stir and microwave again for 1-2 minutes....the jaggery syrup should froth into bubbles when you see it cooking ....at this stage the carrot slices become almost candied and leathery , giving a nice bite ...


 If you want them softer , you can cook just for 2 minutes and serve after cooling ...but if cooked for longer and till the syrup is frothy n the carrots are leathery , it can be preserved and is more flavorful....as is seen in the right side picture.......

Cool and serve with a topping of malai n chopped nuts .....i had some wonderful candied ginger , so that was also chopped and topped onto it :)


The carrots slices get a good bite after being cooked in a thick syrup ( as no water is added and the syrup is formed from the water released by carrots )..... the  jaggery gives it a depth in flavor , the cream makes it so melt in the mouth when you are biting into the carrot slices , nuts give it additional texture and the candied ginger bits lend a burst of another deep flavor to it....

I got this wonderful candied ginger from a Uttarakhand stall at trade fair this season , it's so good i can't stop using it in my cooking.... in the picture it is below the packet of black currants , those white roundels....


Apart from these candied ginger i bought a lot of goodies from trade fair , from stalls of different state... ....black currants , banana chips , methi khakhra , walnuts , cashews with skin on ( not in the picture ) and that place mat made of palm wood which i have been using since then for my photos....

Delhi international trade fair is a great place to go to when you want to buy authentic stuff form the artisans themselves , apart from these food items i bought a lot of kantha work kurtas , some kalamkari n ikat fabric etc. etc. It is a great place to be if you are interested in the traditional arts n crafts of India and some other participating countries . I get my green tea , filter coffee . coconut milk powder from Tea , coffee n coconut board of India stalls respectively....getting the real stuff is so easy there...and you can get all types of fruit preserves , achars , spices and murabba too....but not this murabba.....:-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

matar ki ghugni lasun wali



 Talk about tender peas and any banarasi person will instantly jump to either chuda matar (a peas and pohe recipe , essentially a banaras specialty ) or matar ki ghugni .......tender peas cannot taste better any other way.  Hara lasun is another winter green , available for a short period of time and with this combination it's like hara lasun gets moksha in banaras.........hara lasun is also called sagga lasun ( as spring onions are also called sagga piyaz ) and as soon as see it here in Delhi , i just grab it and my lasun sagga saga begins ....i used it for a green mishmash and for this ghugni............wonderfully flavorful dish , generally a breakfast dish but we can have it any time of the day , with anything as accompaniment or as it is........simply yummy..

ingredients...

tender green peas 2.5 cups
potato (naye alu) 1 no. chopped in small bits (here I used about a cup of cubed new potatoes)
garlic greens (shoots) n bulb 2 nos.
coriander greens 10-12 stalks
green chillies 3 nos.
salt n pepper to taste
turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
mustard oil 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp


procedure...

pound the garlic greens , coriander greens and green chillies together in a mortar n pestle or make a coarse paste in mixie..

 heat oil in a kadai and tip in cumin seeds into it , wait till they splutter and then tip in the chopped potatoes and salt , cook covered for 2 minutes and then add the green peas ,turmeric powder , pepper and the green paste...mix well, add 2 tbsp of water and cook covered till it gets dry......the peas will be cooked quickly as they are tender...mature peas may take some more time...

crush most of the the potatoes after cooking so that the green mixture with mushed up potatoes clings to the green peas beautifully , making it more yummy ........

the ratio of peas to potato can be changed depending on what you want that particular day, here I have added more potatoes than usual.



serve hot as you wish .....as a side dish , as a stand alone breakfast or a standalone anytime meal , a stuffing in grilled sandwich.........just don't make any changes if you make it for the first time and you will see that it has become a favorite in no time.........

this time it was a weekend brunch in the garden for us. Masala chai and this garlicky alu matar ki ghugni, weekends mean the simplest of foods in my home, flavors not to be compromised. And it's not difficult when you choose the season's best ingredients.

Friday, December 11, 2009

hari tahiri akhrot ki chutny ke saath


Tahiri or teheri is a rice preparation made with vegetables , a perfect one pot meal which is usually served with raita ....it is cooked like a pulav but addition of a lot of vegetables make it healthier , it has been a childhood favorite for me n my husband both but the flavors we like in a tahiri are different ( unfortunately )...he likes it a little bland , with potatoes n peas essentially and smelling of ghee , while i like it very spicy with lots of vegetables into it....needless to say i have to make it somewhat in between , not too spicy not to bland and  i find it very easy to sneak in a lot of veggies into it by adding vegetables of different types , like here the potatoes and cauliflower pieces retain their shape while the spinach and dill greens get wilted n mixed up with rice to give it a nice green color.....this kind of a preparation is a good way to make anybody ( especially children) eat a lot of vegetables without even realizing.......it is actually a great way of eating a lot of vegetables with small quantity of rice...........


This time we enjoyed it with akhrot ki chutny which is a kashmiri specialty....i used to love it at one of my aunt's place where it was served with biryanis and dry roasts....later on i made many versions of this akhrot ki chutny adding ginger n green chillies to it because i did not remember exactly how my aunt used to make it....recently i found this recipe by Gaurav and it tasted exactly like that one i had been craving for.........and it's much simpler too.........it is a regular chutny at my place this season ( we eat more walnuts in winters out of habit ).........

ingredients for the tahiri ...
basmati rice 1/2 cup
cauliflower florets 10-12 nos.
potatoes cubed 2 nos.
green chillies chopped 2 tbsp
ginger julienne 2 tbsp
spinach leaves chopped finely ( or processed ) 3 cups
dill leaves chopped 1 cup
shahi jeera 1/2 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
black pepper corns crushed coarsely 1 tbsp
star anise 1 flower
cinnamon stick 1 no.
cloves 4 nos.
black cardamom crushed lightly 1 no.
salt to taste
oil or ghee 1 tbsp
everyday curry powder ( or a mix of coriander , cumin , black pepper n bay leaf  in 4:2:2:1 ratio powdered together ) 2 tsp

procedure for tahiri...

heat oil in a pan ..... i use a special pan meant for biryanis which is a flat base aluminium pan with tight fitting lid ....throw in all the whole spices and the cut vegetables together and stir fry till the aroma of whole spices comes through n the veggies look slightly translucent ..


add the green chillies , ginger julienne and the rice and stirfry till the rice gets fragrant ...about 2-3 minutes ...add the powder spices , mix well and turn a couple of times and then tip in the chopped greens......mix well and let the greens wilt and mixed up...


add salt and a cup of boiling water ( double the quantity of rice ) , mix well and cover ...let it cook on lowest possible heat for 10 minutes or till cooked....let it rest for another 5 minutes and serve hot with a raita or salad and chutny...


ingredients for akhrot ki chutny...
walnuts 100 gm
curds 150 gm
salt to taste
red chilly powder 1-2 tsp as per taste 
water if required to adjust the consistency

to make the chutny... just powder the walnuts in a mixie first , them mix all the other ingredients and give it a quick mix...it's ready to be savored with a tahiri , a biryani or any kind of tandoori tikka etc...addition of grated radish to this chutny tastes yummy but it should be added at the time of serving as it can not be stored in the fridge....without adding radish the chutny can stay fresh for a couple of days in fridge.....

enjoy a simple and healthy tahiri with a decadent chutny....