Friday, October 31, 2014

Tawa Bhendi Fry ( Pan-fried okra)





Couple of weeks ago, I had the previlege of writing a guest post for Jhuls from the wonderful blog the not so creative cook. The title of her blog is a misnomer as she is an extremely creative cook with a great bubbly personality. She is so full of life and her blog has very nice recipes! She is my friend from the blogging world. I met her at Angie's Fiesta Friday.



 When Jhuls invited fellow bloggers for guest posts, I jumped at the chance. I was honored when she accepted my post and later featured it in her blog.This recipe is a super-easy, quick and delicious one! To get the recipe for Tawa Bhendi Fry recipe, please visit  the not co creative cook. I promise you that you will come with many more other recipes!


Halloween special: Messy sausage mummy!



I didn't know what Halloween was until I came to this country! I used to read about it in books and wonder what kind of celebration/ festival is this?? Well, I still don't know! Why is Halloween celebrated?? Do you know?? Hence, it is hard for me to generate the required enthusiasm for this particular celebration. Why? I don't see a point to it! But I do do a little something because of the kids! I am the kind who runs around the last minute! Then again, I have no Halloween party to go to, my daughter's school doesn't allow them to come to school in their costume and my son is too little to know anything!! Ok, ok, I am not a party spoiler! That is why I dressed my daughter in her favorite Princess Aurora costume and my son as his favorite character Winnie the Pooh! Awww.. They looked so adorable & soo happy! That is why I even came up with a Halloween- themed snack! Sausage mummies!! I came across this by chance at work on tv!! I liked the idea of it and decided to make them! It looked super-easy to make! You can find the original recipe here. But by the time I made it ( after trick-a-treating and in between laundry), it seemed like a Herculean task! I just didn't have the patience to make long ropes and patiently wrap it up! I was wayyyy too tired. I just wrapped them and baked them! That is why I named them messy mummy! Someday, when I have patience I will make it again and post better pictures!.



Here is the step-by-step of my version of the recipe!

I am bringing these messy mummies to Angie's Fiesta Friday! I am so excited to share the concept of it with all my friends there! Happy Fiesta Friday and Happy Halloween everyone! This week Jhuls and Margy are co-hosting.

Servings: 5 ( two per person)( nobody can eat just one!


Ingredients:


Turkey sausages: 1  package of 10 sausages.( any sausage can be used; we don't eat meat, hence turkey)
Pillsbury biscuit: 1 package ( makes 10 biscuits)
Mustard : as needed to make eyes.

Method:


Take a single sausage . At the junction of the upper 1/3 and lower 2/3 cut the sides of the sausage to make arms, as shown in the picture.


No make a slit in the bottom of the sausage to make legs. Leave the upper 1/3 for the head.



Take a single biscuit dough and divide it into three parts; two big equal ones for the arms and the legs and the small one for the head.



Roll the pieces into 2 long ropes and one short rope.

Using the small one, wrap the head portion of the mummy. Using one of the larger ropes, wrap one arm and leg on one side, starting from the leg working your way up. Now do the other arm and leg starting from the bottom, making the shoulder and then working your way down the arm.


Line up the mummies on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake the mummies for 10-12 minutes or until they are golden brown.


Take them out and let them cool down slightly. Once cooled, make the eyes and mouth using the mustard.

Serve with ketchup or your favorite dip!



Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


Clean-up after baking becomes a chore especially when there is drippings or the pans are burnt. You can prevent this headache by lining your baking pans/ sheets with aluminum foil. When done, all you have to do is take the foil out, gently wash the pans, dry and put them away! You can even use the foil to wrap leftover baked goodies!

Tip for healthy living:


Truthfully, even though, sausage tastes great on the tongue, I know it is not healthy. It is not good for you. You really don't know what is in a sausage!Most often, sausage is made from the scraps of leftover meat! It is also high in nitrites and sodium which is bad for the body!

Food for thought:


Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that's no reason not to give it. Agatha Christie

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Quick Raja Phanna Upkari ( Mackeral cooked in spicy onion tempered sauce)



Any Mangalorean GSB is familiar with Raja  Phanna upkari. This is mackerel curried in a fiery red and equally spicy sauce is traditionally made with a paste of ground dried red chillies and roasted coriander seeds that has then been tempered with fried onions. While it is commonly made with  Mackerel, it can also be made using sardines and shrimp. It is absolutely delicious. I do not do any grinding. I have a cheat trick for it. By now, I am sure you all know that I like everything quick and easy! :)




Servings: 3-4


Ingredients :


Mackeral : 1 large cut into medium slices.
Onion: 1 medium, chopped fine
Kashmiri Red chilli powder: 1 1/2- 2 tsp ( adjust based on your spice level)
Coriander powder: 1 heaped tsp
Haldi powder: 1/2 tsp
Coconut oil: 1 tsp + 1 tbsp
Tamarind pulp: 1/2 tsp
Water: 1/2 + 1 1/2 cups
Salt: to taste

Method:


Clean the fish thoroughly, marinate with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside for 15-20 minutes.

Dissolve tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup of water and keep aside.


Heat coconut oil in a small pot on medium heat. Add coriander powder, chilli powder and sauté for few seconds.Add the tamarind pulp, 1 1/2 cups water, quarter of the chopped onions, salt and bring it to a boil.

Now add the marinated fish slices to the sauce, cover and cook until the fish is tender ( around 10 minutes). You can adjust the time based on how cooked you want the fish to be.


In a small frying pan heat 1 tbsp of coconut and fry the rest of the chopped onions until golden brown.




Add these onions to the above pot.







Serve hot with steamed white or brown rice.

Yum! Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


Mackerel can at times be smelly. Any fish that is fresh should not smell! However, if you are like me who loves fish but does not like "fishy" smell on the dishes, hands etc then the best way to clean your fish and get rid of this leftover fishy smell is to clean the fish with a little lemon juice and salt. This is a sure way of getting rid of the lingering "fishy" smell. You can also wash using a diluted solution of vinegar.

Tip for healthy living:


Eating fish on a regular basis is a great way to keep healthy. Fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that play an important anti-inflammatory role in the body.


Food for thought:


Any truth is better than infinite doubt. Arthur Conan Doyle



Monday, October 27, 2014

Methi Pulao ( Pulao made with fresh fenugreek leaves), Meatless Monday



This week is my husband's birthday. Hence, all week I am making his favorite dishes! He could eat pulao everyday instead of plain rice! He likes all kinds of pulaos.Methi pulao is by far one of my favorite pulaos too. I like it not only because of the delicious distinctive aroma of the fenugreek but also because of the immense health benefits of fenugreek leaves. I make it even more healthier by adding dry soy chunks and fresh tender green peas.Mmmm yummy! Pair it with fresh cucumber raita, it is heaven on earth. Here is a fine meal for you.




Serving: 6-8


Ingredients :


Basmati rice: 3 cups
Fresh Methi leaves (Fenugreek leaves): 1 cup ( from 1 medium bunch), washed and cleaned.
Soya chunks: 1 cup
Green peas: 1 cup ( I used frozen)
Ghee: 2 tbsp
Coconut oil: 2 tbsp
Clove: 3-4 nos
Cinnamon: 2 inch stick
Bay leaf: 1 big
Cardamom pods: 3-4
Cashewnut halves: 1 tbsp
Onion: 1 large,chopped lengthwise.
Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Green chillies: 4-6( depending on your spice level),chopped fine
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
Tomato: 1 medium, chopped
Salt : to taste
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp chopped fine ( for garnishing)
Hot Water: 2 cups + 6 cups


Method:


Rinse the basmati rice thoroughly until all the starch is removed. Soak basmati rice in water for 30 mins. Drain the water and let it dry for 20-30 minutes.

Soak the soy chunks for 15 mins in 2 cups hot water with 1/8 th spoon salt added to it. Squeeze the soya chunks out of the water and keep aside.

Heat oil/ ghee mixture in a kadai/ sauté pan/ pressure cooker. Add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, cashew halves and the onions. Sauté until the onions turn transparent.


Add ginger-garlic paste, chopped green chillies and sauté for few seconds.

Now add the turmeric powder and the chopped tomatoes. Saute until the tomatoes wilt.Add in the soy chunks.Add the methi leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes.



Add in the garam masala powder.



Add the drained rice and sauté for 2-4 minutes. 



Add in the hot water, salt, sugar, green peas and bring it to a boil. 



Cover, reduce the flame to low and cook for 15 minutes. If you are using a pressure cooker/ pan, do not use the whistle/ weight.



When done, fluff with a fork/ spoon.

Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with a raita/salad of your choice or by itself.



Enjoy!


Cooking made easy:


The rice texture in any kind of pulao is one of the most important factors for making it a good pulao. Rice should neither be overcooked or undercooked.Each grain of rice should be distinctive, but cooked to perfection. This can be easily achieved if one pays attention to the following factors:
1. Soak the rice for 30 minutes so that the grain elongates.
2. Drain and dry for 30 minutes so that it is not easily broken upon sautéing.
3. Use hot water so that it can cook quickly.
4. It takes exactly 15 minutes to cook on medium-low flame. Do not open immediately. Let it sit for 15 more minutes after switching off the flame and before fluffing the rice.
5. Do not overmix the rice once cooked. Over mixing causes the rice grains to break.

Tip for healthy living:


Fenugreek has immense health benefits. It is potent in small amounts. It is not only a blood purifier but is also known to influence hormones in women. Lactating women benefit from the consumption of methi to increase the yield of milk.

Food for thought:


It's always too early to quit. Norman Vincent Peale

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Choconanas ( Vegan Chocolate-banana cookies)



This Diwali, I wanted to make something that my kids would eat. My kids are very picky! They don't like anything too sweet, nothing with too much texture..so on  and so forth... the list goes on! In fact, I can never tell what they will eat! 


 Whoever came up with this original recipe has to be applauded.When I first came across the recipe here, I was dubious, then decided to try them. I made a small batch. I was a little apprehensive as to the outcome and taste as I made it but was surprisingly pleased and amazed with the outcome. My "tasters" ( 4 little kids from ages 8 to 2) all approved of it. Hence, I figure it is good. I loved the ease of making it. It is made of whole wheat flour, is eggless, butter less and has bananas in it. It has a little something for everyone. For kids it has the temptation of chocolates while they also get the wholesomeness of the wheat flour and the bananas. For people with nut-allergies, it is completely nut- free. For the health-conscious & calorie-conscious it is butter-less and It is a great treat for vegetarians and vegans! Hmm the only thing left is to try and make it gluten-free. I have to soon try my hand at that!

I am bringing this for Angie for her birthday gala at Fiesta Friday!  Suzanne @apuginthekitchen & Sue @Birgerbird are helping with the patry to celebrate Angie's birthday.

Servings: ( makes 32 small-sized cookies)


Ingredients:


Wheat flour: 1 cup+ 2 tbsp
Baking powder: 1 tsp
Salt: 1/8 tsp
Cocoa powder: 1/2 cup
Sugar: 3/4 cup
Powdered sugar: 1 cup
Oil: 1/4 cup. I used olive oil, any cooking oil can be used.
Mashed Bananas :1/2 cup
Vanilla essence: 1 tsp

Method:


In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.Mix well.


In another bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, cocoa powder, oil an vanilla essence. Use a whisk or electric mixer to mix. Mix until smooth. Do not overmix.


Now slowly add the flour into the wet mixture little by little and mix with a spoon until well blended. Do not overmix!

Cover the dough with a cling film and freeze the batter in the freezer for atleast an hour. I froze mine overnight. Freezing makes it easier to handle the dough.




Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep aside.

Grease your hand with a little oil and using a melon baller or a spoon, take little dough at a time and make small balls. Line it up on the parchment paper.




Roll the balls in the bowl containing the powdered sugar, one at a time until coated thoroughly.


Line it up again on the parchment paper with 2 inch space in between.

Place it on the middle rack of the oven and bake it for 15 minutes at 350 deg F.


The cookies will crack. You can insert a toothpick in the center of the cookie to check for doneness. If it comes out clean, then the cookie is done.





Let it cool on a cooling sheet for 15 mins.

Store them in an airtight container once cooled.




Enjoy!


Cooking made easy:


The type and color of the pan used significantly affects how much the cookie/ cake  browns in a given baking time. Light pans turn-out cookies and cakes that are lighter whereas dark pans tend to brown them faster and more. Depending on the type of pan being used and the desired amount of browning that is required for that particular recipe, modify your baking time. 
References:
http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2013/07/10/the-secret-to-perfectly-browned-cookies/
http://lancaster.unl.edu/food/ciq-pans.htm
http://www.livestrong.com/article/426128-light-baking-pan-vs-dark-baking-pan/

Tip for healthy living:


Drink atleast 8-10 glasses of water daily, unless you have a medical condition and your doctor has advised you to limit the water intake.
Drinking water has several benefits. It keeps you hydrated and feeling fresh. It improves the quality of your skin making it soft, pliable and wrinkle-free. It not only makes you feel less hungry, it also helps prevent constipation and bloating. Water naturally detoxifies the body. Sometimes when you feel hungry, you could actually be just thirsty!

Food for thought:


Absences are good influence in love and keep it bright and delicate. Robert Louis Stevenson


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Diwali Special: Laayi pitte undo ( Popped paddy sweet balls)








Diwali or Deepavali means row of lights. It is also known as the "festival of lights worldwide. It is celebrated on the New Moon day of the month of Kartik. Deepavali is spread over 4 days starting with the 13th day of Krishna Paksha or second or dark fortnight of the month. It is associated with many episodes from the Hindu holy books like Ramayana and Mahabharata.All four days are celebrated by making a variety to sweets and savories, exchanging it with friends and family, lighting rows of oil and wick lamps and bursting firecrackers.

We Mangalorean konkanis ( GSB) celebrate it for 4 days:

Day 1- 21 st October 2014: Dhana-trayodahsi, Jala pooje( water pooja), thaila bhanga:
Homes are cleaned, with special emphasis on the bathrooms where the "bhana" ( the huge copper pot in which bathing water is heated) is cleaned, decorated with rangoli designs and flowers. Little boys ( male kids)are given oil massage and bath and interestingly fish dishes ( both fried and curried) are cooked for dinner.

Day 2 -22 nd October,2014: Naraka Chaturdashi : This is the day prior to Deepavali is called Naraka chaturdashi.This is in commemoration of Lord Krishna along with Satyabhama killing a wicked Asura by name Narakasura on the eve of Diwali.On this day grown men are given oil massage and bath and the traditional offering to God, godu phovu is made.

Day 3- 23rd October,2014: Diwali and Dhanalakshmi Pooja:
The Deepawali Day is celebrated with Dhanalakshmi Puja. People who own gold shops perform puja in the shops.
The Deepawali Day is believed to be the day on which Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya from Lanka. Being dark night (Amavasya or No moon day), the night before new moon day) they were greeted by lighting hundreds of clay lamps. This gives the festival the name of Deepawali. 

Laxmi Puja is also celebrated on this and reflects the fact that this is a time of harvest. Traditionally, the time of harvest is a time of prosperity. According to myth, Laxmi Puja is performed on the day when Goddess Laxmi emerged from Kshira Sagara while the churning of Amrutha Madhanam.

Day 4- 24th October, 2014: Govardhan Puja / Angadi Pooja/ Balindra puja.

The day after Deepawali is celebrated as Govardhana Puja and Angadi Pooja. The shopkeepers celebrate this with a puja in their shop, inviting people over and giving out goodies.

The day after Deepawali is also celebrated as Govardhana Puja. The sacred hill of Govardhan, near Mathura and Kamadhenu (the cosmic cow) which are connected with Lord Krishna are worshipped. Krishna lifted up the Govardhan mountain and held it like an umbrella, under which people and animals took shelter from the relentless rain. Once the rain subdued, the people gathered around the hill and had a great feast. This festival is especially popular among the devotees of Bala Krishna.


One of my favorite laddoos made during festivals is the laayi undo. This is made using popped paddy powder.


 Just like you have popped corn, you have popped paddy. The powdered version of this is used to make this laddoo. It is very tasty, light and versatile enough to be modified to individual tastes; for eg: you could add crunch and protein be adding bits of nuts like peanuts and cashewnuts. You can even add shev( fried crispy noodle pieces). It is simple and easy to make and tasty to eat! I am bringing this to Angie's Fiesta Friday! It is her birthday and you cannot go to someone's birthday party empty-handed!



Servings: makes 10- 15 medium-sized laddoos ( balls).


Ingredients:


Sticky Jaggery( anta god): 1cup
Laayi pitto ( popped paddy powder): 2 cups
Peanut halves: 2 tbsp,
Cashewnut pieces: 1 tbsp,
Cardamom powder: 1/4 tsp
Water:  4 tbsp
Ghee/ butter: for greasing the palms

Method:


Heat jaggery and water in a pot until the jaggery is completely melted and liquid. Now turn off the heat, let it settle for  5 mins. Gently pour the molten jaggery into a thick-bottomed  pot, leaving behind any sandy residue.


Dry roast the cashew nut pieces and peanuts and keep aside.

Heat the molten jaggery on medium flame until it thickens and is sticky when attempting to pick to pour from a spoon. We call it the "string" consistency, which means if you take a drop between your index finger and thumb, you should be able to see a string of jaggery when you pull your fingers away from each other.




Now mix in the laayi pitto ( popped paddy powder), the nuts and cardamom powder. Mix well .



Grease your palms with butter/ghee. Take  a tablespoonful of the hot jaggery-popped paddy mixture and shape it into balls of desired size.
If the mixture cools down, you will not be able to shape it into balls. Do not squeeze the balls hard as they will get even harder upon cooling down, making it difficult to eat!


Store in an air-tight container.
Stays fresh at room-temperature for upto a month.

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


Most often jaggery has sand/ dirt residues in it. Melting it, letting it settle down and then transferring the jaggery to another pot helps get rid of this sand.

Ensure that the jaggery is cooked on a thick-bottomed vessel on a low flame as it is very easy to burn the jaggery!

Tip for healthy living:


Having a oil massage on the head not only helps rejuvenate hair and help it grow, it is also a great stress-buster and calms the body.

Food for thought:


Happy are those who dare courageously to defend what they love. Ovid

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Technical issues

I would like to thank all my followers/readers for their continued support. Currently I am going through some technical issues which I am working very hard to fix. Because of this you may not be able to see some of the pictures. This problem has been going on for a week and a half now. I shall do everything to rectify this at the earliest possible! Until then enjoy the festive season of Diwali!

Happy Diwali to all of you!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Purple Cabbage Slaw with Chia seed dressing; Meatless Monday.





I am always on the lookout for including healthier food items into the everyday food for my family and me. I also try to make salads more interesting. Chia seeds is something I eat daily as part of my oatmeal. Recently on Dr. Oz I came across cabbage slaw using chia seed dressing. I tweaked the recipe a little and made purple cabbage slaw to go with my fish tacos! What a delicious meal I had. Everyone at home was happy! You can find the original recipe here. I am bringing this to Super Simple Tuesdays at Hun whats for dinner?




Servings: 4


Ingredients:


Shredded Purple cabbage: 2 cups
Shredded Carrot: 1/4 cup
Onion: 1 small, sliced lengthwise

For the dressing:


Chia seeds: 1 tsp
Honey: 1 tsp
Rice Vinegar:2 tsp
Lemon juice: 2 tsp
Olive oil: 2 tbsp
Garlic: 1 small clove, minced
Salt: to taste
Black pepper: 1/4 tsp

Method:


In a bowl take the shredded cabbage, carrot and the sliced onions. Keep aside.

In a small glass bottle take all the ingredients listed under " dressing". Keep aside for 30 minutes for the chia seeds to absorb the fluid. Shake the bottle well.




Add the dressing to the above bowl as per taste. I use a lot if it.Toss well.



Serve chilled as a side with chicken/ fish/ rice or with tacos!


Cooking made easy:


You could double the dressing ingredients and make a big batch and keep it in the fridge to be used as needed. It should last for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Tip for healthy living:

Chia seeds are a superfood that is extremely good for our health. They are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, calcium, antioxidants and dietary fiber. Chia seeds therfore have heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory benefit. It not only helps with satiety, also helps keep the bowel regular.They are also easily digestible.

References:
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-chia
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/06/03/chia-seed-benefits-_n_3379831.html


Food for thought:

Friendship is one mind in two bodies. Mencius