Sunday, September 26, 2010

khade masale wala kaddu ...pumpkin curry tempered with whole spices...

Here i am with another vegetarian recipe , a Banaras special again . There can be nothing more Banarasi than a poori - kaddu ki subzi platter ... Jalebi is missing here but that has been a long forgotten promise i made to someone. I will come back to the spirals of jalebi as soon as i come out of the concentric spirals called life...


Back to the kaddu ki subzi . There are many kaddu or pumpking subzi recipes on this blog and this one is another mushy gooyi warmth to dunk your crisp poori in , sans onion garlic this time .

ingredients...
 For two generous helpings

Kaddu ( pumpkin ) 250 gm
 ripe yellow fleshed pumpkin is more suited for this subzi , the hard skin removed
whole red chillies 5 nos. or according to the heat level you want
cinnamon stick 1 inch long
green cardamom 1 no.
black cardamom 1 small pod
cloves 2-3
star anise 4-5 petals
black pepper corns 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
asafoetida a pinch
turmeric powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 2 tsp

procedure...

Chop the pumpkin in batons or cubes after peeling the hard skin.

Crush the green and black cardamoms just so it remains within the skin and yet the seeds are crushed.

Heat oil in a pressure cooker , add asafoetida and as soon as the asafoetida fluffs up add all the other whole spices . Wait till the whole spices are popping , dunk in the pumpkin pieces salt and turmeric powder . Toss to mix properly.

Add half a cup of water , cover and cook under pressure for 2 minutes. If using a regular pan it needs to be covered and cooked for about 10 minutes till soft and mushy.

A little amchoor powder can be added if so desired . I do not add any souring agent with whole spices here , but it is optional . Also i used a lot of dried red chillies but did not break them open , it adds a nice earthy flavor to the curry when the chillies are browned in the oil and there is not much heat as the seeds are not exposed to the cooking liquids. If you need a hotter curry you can break open the chillies in your bowl and mix.


Tastes heavenly with hot and crisp pooris , usually a sunday brunch at our place . I like this subzi with chapatis too and it makes a nice low fat meal with any flat bread.

After a piece of Banaras in this platter i will tell you about the uttar pradesh festival going on in Dilli Haat these days . We enjoyed the food of Banaras and Lucknow in the open air stalls there and it was a great experience . The authentic UP taste of chaats and the non veg kormas and kebaabs is so different from anything available here , even in the old lanes of purani Dilli .

Kashi Chaat bhandar from Banaras has put up a stall there and we enjoyed the golgappe and tamatar ki chaat . I have promised someone this tamatar ki chaat for a long time and i intend to come with that in my next post and i hope i do not procrastinate this time .... I find a lot of contentment when friends and readers have that kind of faith to try my recipes and tell me how it became a family favorite ....that gives me the drive to start again with my pots n pans and the camera ... you know what ..i do this part very enthusiastically , that is cooking has been my interest for a long time ......but when it comes to posting , i am a little neck withdrawn turtle...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

sarson wala baingan fry .....

Baingan is eggplant or brinjal as it is commonly called in the north of India . I find this vegetable very very versatile and especially i love the way Italians treat this mushy lovely vegetable . I have tried brinjals with mozarella and that's a combination so weird ( for us Indians at least ) and yet so yummy ... but i am not talking about a cheesy baingan .

I am here with a desi recipe today , with unknown origin though it could be a bengali dish considering the mustard . May be it is , but for me it comes from a laborer's  family . Surprised ???

Yes it's true that i keep prying into the kitchens of just anybody to see how they cook . I keep asking my maids how do they cook a particular thing and if they include a particular healthy ingredient or use a healthy oil . What milk they consume and what kind of spices they use and yada yada yada......


This recipe was first spotted by a teenage Sangeeta when her father's house was being constructed and a few  labourers were living in the half constructed areas of the house .. I used to observe how they used to cook in the open and what , they were muslim labourers from somewhere in Bihar and i noticed that they used to cook their dinner like a small feast with all the small little details ... daal , a sookhi subzi or a fry , a curry , raita , chutny , rice and thick rotis made in lakdi ka chulha .....they used to fire the wood scrap from the ongoing woodwork . I used to watch them wide eyed as after a hard day's work they were so happy to cook a tasty nutritious meal for themselves . I liked their moti roti the most and we often requested them to make rotis for us and just 2 moti rotis were enough for the whole family of us 5 siblings and parents ....nobody could eat more than a quarter of that roti....i still make that roti with baingan ka chokha and a thick peeli daal but it lacks the smoky flavor of fire wood...

This baingan fry was a dish they often used to make and my mom learnt it from them . A curry made with mustard paste and brinjal was already a favorite family recipe and this fry became an instant hit . It is a simple fry made with the round large variety of brinjals , large brinjals are used because their pulp is softer and more flavorful for such a fry. Also because they make larger slices .

ingredients...
( serves two as a side )

 One large round shaped brinjal
black mustard seeds 1.5 tbsp
white rice 2 tsp
green chillies 3-4 nos.
garlic cloves 6-8 or more
turmeric powder 1 tsp
amchoor powder 2 tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil to shallow fry .... about 2 tbsp

Procedure...

 Make a paste of all the ingredients except the brinjal...


Slice the brinjal into 1.5 - 2 cm thick roundels .

Heat a skillet or kadai with a little mustard oil .

Dip the brinjal slices into the paste and shallow fry them both sides till brown and crisp on the surface ....the slices will remain mushy inside .  The browning can be a little blackening by my standards but it will be tastier if it's a bit blackish at a few spots...


Repeat with all the slices and serve hot as a side dish with any meal of the day ....scrape any masala sticking to the skillet as this crumb tastes yummy and you will end up picking every single bit of it...


The rice in the masala paste makes it crisp on the surface while it remains mushy inside , a very interesting texture when served hot . A hot , tangy and slightly tingling taste of mustard makes it a very interesting dish , you will see it disappearing from the platter very fast , even baingan haters would take second helpings ( if they are not allergic to brinjals and mustard oil like two of my extended family members ) and you'd see yourself smiling.

They are great for kathi rolls and i do that very often with the leftovers ( although leftovers is a rare incident with these)........ with very thin slices of onion it tastes yummy inside an instant kathi roll.

Enjoy...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

nenua ki subzi ......sponge gaurd cooked in the eastern UP way

Sponge guard is called nenua in eastern UP and turai in the western parts of UP ..... tori is the punjabi name and there must be at least 20 names in other Indian languages ..... I named this post nenua ki subzi because it is made in a traditional eastern UP way......a simple curry bursting with all the flavors of this humble vegetable taking center stage , so if you don't like the taste of this veggie this is not the curry for you .......and if you like the taste of tori...this is the curry you'd love the most .........


Almost like a soup , a sweetish taste because of onions and a hot kick imparted by the green chillies ....... this is a family favorite and one of the light curries which is loved by one n all........

There is nothing fancy in the ingredient list and it takes about 10 minutes to cook if it is for 2-3 people . It can be a side dish but you will be surprised that it's always a main ( only ) subzi with our roti subzi dinner which always ends with a .... Waah...mazaa aa gaya !  ( enjoyed-the-meal-thoroughly-statement ) . And i love to hear those words ..

 I have done nothing to make this humble vegetable tasty this way , it is a traditional dish and is made the same way all around Eastern UP and many of my friends from other places have loved it . Many people like this curry with rice too , it's a favorite combo meal for many people of my mom's age ( including her ) who prefer light meals. other variants of this curry are loved more with rice and those recipes will be coming on this space soon.

ingredients...
( serves two )
sponge guard 300 gm
onions medium sized 2 nos.
green chillies 2-3 nos. ( or more if you like it hot , it's a mild hot curry otherwise )
cumin seeds 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
mustard oil 2 tsp
salt to taste

preparation...

Slit the green chillies lengthwise , cut the onion in half vertically and then make slices , peel the sponge guard and slice them in coin shaped slices.

Heat oil in a kadai and throw in the cumin seeds and wait till they crackle. Throw in the slit chillies taking care to protect your face if it splutters hard.

Add the sliced onions and stir fry till they become translucent and a few of them start turning pink.

Throw in the turmeric powder , stir a bit and throw in all the sliced nenua slices ... mix well , add salt and cover and cook at low heat . The sponge guard releases it's own sap and gets cooked into it's own juices . It releases so much water ( especially if the guards are a bit large ) that it become soupy . You may want to reduce the watery curry to make it almost dry or a little watery , i like mine a bit watery like this...


It takes about 5 minutes to cook and further some time if you want to reduce the juices. This subzi requires no garnishing , any ways i do not believe in garnishing my food as i like it straight out of the pan into my plate . Well , almost all the time....

Serve this curry hot with rotis or with anything you fancy . I know this curry is a major craving for many Eastern UP people who do not get this sponge guard in other places. Try making this curry with zucchini instead and the flavors will be a bit similar if not absolutely the same. Do not replace green chillies with red chillies though , it makes a difference in such a simple flavored curry .... sweetish with the flavors of nenua and pyaaz and a hint of sharp heat of green chillies .... to sum up this curry.

Call it nenua ki subzi , tori ki subi , turai ki tari wali subzi or sponge guard soup ...... just think of the traditional ways of healthy eating...

enjoy...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

tea party for the two of us ......... yeasted savory paneer scones with masala chai


 I like my cup of tea as I like it 'at the moment' and I don't want any disturbances. The morning cuppa is a light brew of darjeeling tea, a large kettle full lying between us when we read the newspapers, huge mugs full of the golden brew filled twice.....no disturbance tolerated...:)

A couple of mugs of green tea during the day and the evening tea is definitely masala chai, the masala being different in different seasons .... and the tea time snack is mostly prepared fresh if we are not having jhaal muri or roasted chana masala .... it can be the crunchy sabudana vadas or rolled up khandvi or a fluffy dhokla . If we feel like having something fried it can be cabbage fritters or daal ke pakode or homemade samose .

 Sometimes I make some snacks which can be stored in the fridge and just warmed or stir fried with our evening tea, like that soft  fara or the patodas or basan ki katli . Cakes and cookies have become very rare although I remember I was on a cakes and cookies land just after our marriage, that explains the weight gain. Thank god I came back to healthy eating, now a days I bake cakes n cookies only if I am expecting kids at home or for gifting somebody.

I saw a pretty scone somewhere and was tempted to make one myself . I wanted a savory scone , I make one with spinach and ricotta but this time it had to be something different. I wanted fresh herbs but all the fresh herbs in my garden have succumbed to the heavy rain after a scorching summer, only a celery plant surviving though it looks battered by the bullets of raindrops ( it is really that forceful sometimes in this season ) ...


I used some dry rosemary and lots of peppercorns , the scones are yeast scones made without butter or baking powder . I like them better because I am more of a bread person than a cakes and cookies lover. 

ingredients...

yeasted bread dough (using whole wheat and APF in 1:1 ratio )

make the dough by rising the yeast in warm water with sugar , adding 1 teacup each of APF and wheat flour with a tsp of salt and kneading to make a soft elastic dough , rise the dough in a warm place till it doubles , knead again with oiled hands and it's ready to use

whole milk paneer 150 gm
celery leaves and thin stalks roughly chopped 1 cup
dry rosemary 1 tsp
black pepper corns 1 tbsp
black pepper powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
a little butter for brushing

preparation...

Pulse the chopped celery and black pepper corns in the chopper , now cut paneer in chunks and dunk it into the chopper too. Pulse for a minute so it becomes a coarse granular mixture. I wanted bits of paneer into the scones. Paneer can be grated and the celery finely chopped , most of the black pepper corns will remain whole and a few will be crushed. Add salt and pepper into it and then empty the contents into a mixing bowl.

Now place the yeasted bread dough over the paneer mixture and press to flatten . Fold the flattened dough with paneer side in and press it again on the paneer mixture . Keep pressing and folding till all the paneer mixture is incorporated into the layers of bread dough . Bits of paneer keep sticking to the surface of the dough and a few celery leaves can be sprinkled over the surface too.

Flatten the dough over a chopping board or any other surface , about 2-3 cm thick , and cut in squares or triangles.Place the pieces on a greased baking surface and let them rise till they double in thickness.

Bake in a preheated oven at 250 degree C for 12-15 minutes , or till cooked with a golden brown crust and feels light weight .





Brush the surface with butter and cool on wire rack . Best consumed warm, gorgeously buttery taste even though it does not have any butter in it . Paneer makes it soft and brushing with butter makes it even more fragrant ..


Celery is not the most favorite herbs of mine but it tasted really good with hot peppers and paneer , rosemary was a slight hint as it was not fresh . The scones are light with a gorgeous crust and soft pillowy interior , bits of paneer and celery are yummy.... perfect for any kind of milky tea ..


I made the scones in the late afternoon when it was still day light and the pictures are nice . But tea got very late in the evening so the tea pics are dark , but i still like the pictures with tea ...


The rustic look of these square shaped scones i like , if it is a bit too peppery for you , the quantity of whole pepper corns can be halved . And some more paneer can be added if you want it rich .


I saw scones at this tea party and wanted to have some instantly , made my savory version and now this tea is going to The mad tea party . Take a look what she has to say about freedom  .... I agree absolutely ..

I wanted to include a bunch or lovely pink Gomphrenas but the picture got really dark, blame the husband being very late from office...

Never mind , the tea and the scones are great. Have a good time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

khoya matar paneer : Banaras special..

Khoya matar is a special curry and we were exposed to this exotic sounding curry when we shifted to Banaras after my dad's transfer from Chandigarh . This curry was great , creamy in a different way and sweetish spicy, so much different from the usual punjabi curries we had grown accustomed to. I am not sure if this curry belongs to Banaras but that was the place we had it for the first time n till date i have never tasted it anywhere else............if not Banaras , it is essentially a UP curry .


The reason why I believe this curry belongs to Banaras is that the people of this city are obsessed with khoya , there is a whole market dedicated to khoya named khoya gali near chowk area , and that's not all , there is one kachori gali too and you know how famous is banarasi kachori ....

Like many other banaras special curries , khoya matar does not use any onion garlic n can be a fasting curry too during navratras , will post a navratra version of this curry sometime.....

Coming back to the recipe , this curry is a creamy rich looking special kinda curry , but surprisingly it is not high on fat like those those shahi sounding creamy buttery curries . Yes , milk powder has very low fat content if you use skimmed milk powder and this khoya is made from that . Also as i have used paneer for this recipe that too has fat in it but overall this curry is lower on fat than the other creamy buttery paneer curries. Nevertheless, this curry is medium rich when fat level is considered although i find it topping the yumminess scale....:)

ingredients....

khoya 1 teacup loosely packed ( i used home made khoya )
green peas ( i used frozen this time ) 1 cup ( 2.5 cups when not using paneer )
paneer chopped into small cubes 1 cup ( optional as the original recipe is khoya matar )
tomato puree 1 cup ( i used from a tetra pack but home made will be just fine )
bay leaf 1 no.
salt to taste
ghee 1 tbsp
milk 1 cup ( optional , i used water instead )
  
to be made into a paste...
ginger 1 inch piece
green cardamoms 2 nos.
black cardamom 1 no.
cinnamon 1 inch piece
cloves 4 nos.
cumin seeds 1 tsp
black pepper corns 1 tsp
red chilly powder 1-2 tsp

preparation....

Make a paste of the ingredients listed for paste with little water..

Pour ghee in a kadai and add the tomato puree , bay leaf , the masala paste n salt to taste . Now heat the mixture over medium flame and stir to bhuno it a bit....ghee will be separated within a couple of minutes.

Now add the khoya in it . In the meantime I microwaved the peas for 2 minutes , they can be boiled on gas stove too.


Bhuno is the process of dry rosting such a mixture especially a masala paste ..........so bhuno again till the khoya masala mix bubbles a bit...


Add a cup of water or milk ( adding milk will result in a whiter curry but a bit more rich ) or water , the cooked peas and cubes paneer ...


and let it boil covered till the ghee floats on top...the whole cooking process takes less than 10 minutes...


Serve hot with naan or chapati ........the curry is creamy in a different way , the granular texture of khoya makes a surprising gravy , a little sweet and a little spicy and it tastes very good with any plain roti , naan , rumali roti or kulcha.....


Enjoy this quick yet rich curry and think of the ghats of Banaras.....

Monday, September 6, 2010

home made khoya in microwave


 Khoya or khoa is thickened milk till it gets dry , almost like a ball of evaporated unsweetened milk . It is normally used to make sweets like peda and burfi and many more sweets or mithais as we call them . I miss getting fresh khoya off the counter for making my gujias most and always end up reducing the milk for hours on end in a thick base kadai . But that i do when i have to make gujias for holi n khoya is needed in large amounts . Sometimes just a 100 gm or 50 gm khoya is needed and reducing it the traditional way is not at all practical . Milk powder comes handy for this purpose and that is a must have item in my pantry , milk powder or dairy creamer whatever you call it , it can give you khoya instantly without messing up with you kitchen and utensils.........yes in a glass or ceramic bowl and a couple of minutes in front of the microwave.............that's all you need to do .

making khoya using milk powder ...

A teacup of milk powder goes into a 500 ml capacity bowl .


Add a tbsp of water to make a loose paste....


Cover with a plastic lid loosely and microwave for a minute on high....the mixture will push the lid up as it heats up . Take it out and check , it looks like this....


Cover again and heat for another minute , this time the mixture will push up the lid after every 5 seconds or so , stop for 2 seconds every time and repeat for 3-4 times .After 10 seconds and pausing twice it looks like this....

 Another go in the microwave and it dries up and becomes crumbly , daanedar as we call it ........
........daanedar khoya minton me taiyyar ..........it took less than two minute (1 minute 25 second to be precise ) for this quantity and you get a tea cup of loosely packed khoya .


This khoya tastes similar to the one we get in khoya gali of Banaras n i suspect the traders make it with powder milk themselves. The khoya available in delhi is spurious and i never buy that after just one trial..

Home made khoya by reducing the milk in a kadai for hours tastes different and certainly better than this . This khoya wins hands down because of it's quick availability. I made it to make a special curry , khoya matar , a specialty of Banaras apparently , though i ended up adding paneer to the curry and it was a khoya matar paneer ....recipe coming up next , stay tuned ....