Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shahi Tukre - Indian Bread Pudding

Shahi tukre (Shahi tukday) is a rich bread pudding spiced with cardamom. Bread pieces are deep fried in ghee/clarified butter and then served dipped in thick creamy rich milk cream or Rabri. Its is a gourmets delight but a weight watchers nightmare. I have gone for a low fat recipe where in I have shallow fried the bread pieces and made a low fat cashew rabri. I have used Nita Mehta's Shahi tukre recipe from her book, Perfect Vegetarian Cookery where she has gone for the traditional recipe - deep fry bread in  ghee,soak in creamy thick rabri. I had barely 4 slices of bread and so I had gone for minimum quantity of ingredients. The dish originally belongs to Mughlai cuisine and is also a regular in the Pakisthani cuisine. Double ka Meetha is a similar pudding found in Hyderabadi cuisine.

Ingredients:
Bread Slices: atleast 4 which have been cut into rounds using a cookie cutter.
Milk: few tbsp
Sugar: as per taste
Ghee: 1-2 tsp

Rabri/Thick creamy spiced sweet milk:
Milk: 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp
Cashew powder: 2 tsp
Arrowroot powder: 1/2tsp
Sugar: 2 tbsp+ as per taste
Saffron: few strands
Cardamom: powder: 1/4 tsp +

Garnish:
Nuts chopped,Silver paper (Varaq),seasonal fruits chopped/sliced

Preparation:
Using a cookie cutter cut rounded pieces from the bread. Traditionally you diagonally cut the bread slice into two triangles.I had ragi walnut bread which I have used here.

Heat ghee in a shallowfry pan,allow it to spread,then shallow fry or toast the bread in this ghee,adding little sugar (to get  the brown colour) and also little milk (to make it a bit soft) on each side. Turn and toast the other side lightly as well. The bread should not be too crispy or soggy. If too crispy or dry then soak it in little milk for a few seconds and keep aside.

Rabri:
In a thick bottomed pan,bring to boil half cup of milk to which sugar,saffron and cardamom has been added. Reduce and let it simmer for few minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the powdered cashew and arrowroot n the remaining two tbsp of milk and add it to the simmering milk. Stir well with a spoon and let it cook for a few more minutes until it starts thickening into a pale yellow(due to saffron) liquid. The consistency should be like that of condensed milk. Mine took barely 7 minutes,but will be more for higher quantities of milk. Remove from heat and keep aside.



Shahi Tukre:
Traditionally,fried bread slices(rounds/triangles) are arranged in a plate and the rabri is poured over it. It is then topped with chopped nuts and silver paper.

Here I have gone for a fruity and layered version. I spread little rabri in a serving plate,kept a bread slice,topped it with chopped nuts and sliced strawberries,topped it with another bread slice followed by nuts, poured the rabri on top of it and then topped with sliced berries. I went for strawberries as they add more colour to the dish. You can go for mango/pineapple or any choice of fruits.

The rich shahi tukre are made more healthy and colourful and overall more appealing.You can make your own choice while plating. You can also serve the bread pieces with little rabri on top and serve additional rabri in a bowl. Simple,delectable and perfect dessert.

I had arrowroot powder with me which I used as a thickener. Normally you add khoya/mawa/ thick solidified milk to the regular milk while making rabri. I have used the nuts for richness and thickening along with  arrowroot.You can go for the regular corn flour paste or even use bread crumbs for thickening. 

I had cashew nuts in my freezer a few tbsp of which I pulsed to a powder in a blender. Go for short bursts for this else the cashewnuts may release the fat/oil and may become a paste than powder.

The healthy bread pudding is also going to AWED:Indian at Taste of Pearl City, an event by DK.





Easy Chana Chaat -Black Chickpeas in an Indian Style Salad

This is a simple and easy chana chaat or Black Chickpeas Salad Indian Style. Chaat is a street food and is a favourite of mine. There are different versions of chaat with varying ingredients and condiments like chutneys,spices, chaat masala etc. This one with chana or black chickpeas is something that I toss together quickly and is definitely not the authentic or the traditional one. It is like a spiced chickpeas salad but equally hearty,healthy and is filling teatime snack.

Ingredients: 
Black Chickpeas: atleast 1/2cup presoaked and cooked adding salt.
Potato: atleast 1 boiled,peeled and chopped into pieces
Tomatoes,Onions,Raw mangoes: chopped into pieces

Roasted Cumin Powder
Black Salt
Chilli Powder
White Pepper Powder
Amchur Powder (voidif using raw mangoes)


Salt :as per taste
Coriander Leaves: 1-2 tbsp + more for garnish
Lemon Juice
Sev,Chaat masala : for garnish

Preparation:
Presoak and cook chickpeas adding salt and till done. I used a pressure cooker for this. You can do it on stove top as well. Drain out the water and keep aside the chickpeas. You can use the water as a stock or other purposes like kneading the roti dough etc. Only thing is to remember that the water is salty.

Chop all the other ingredients into small pieces.Boil,peel and chop the  potatoes. While the chickpeas is still warm add in the chopped veggies and potatoes and toss in the masala powders -cumin,chili,white pepper and black salt as well.Adjust the regular salt as well. At the time of serving, fold in chopped cilantro,add more cilantro for garnish.Also garnish with sev and a dash of lemon juice or even a quick sprinkle of store bought chaat masala.Serve with masala pappads or lemon wedges or more onions or whatever way you like.



This is just a mix and match chaat. I have seen versions where people who do not like the raw onions,add it after sauteeing. The amount of powders is as per your liking, but I make sure I add more black salt and roasted cumin powder and just a pinch of white pepper and not black pepper.Optionally go for the store bought chaat masala instead or in addition to spices Fold in the cilantro at last so that the freshness is retained where as fold in the onion and tomatoes while the chickpeas is still warm so that the rawness cannot be tasted (thats my assumption). Since raw mangoes were available, I added them chopped into pieces.Otherwise I would be adding amchur or dried mango powder. You can add bell peppers,blanched sweetcorn etc but make sure chickpeas is the king ingredient.

Other interesting chana chaats I have seen: Soma's Chola MixMeera's Chana Chaat etc.

Hope this is acceptable at AWED:Indian at Taste of Pearl City,an event by DK.


Tava Pulao

This is a hearty and spicy rice dish and is a popular street food. Basically it is rice and veggies spiced with pav bhaji masala and I presume it is the pav bhaji vendor who sells it along with the pav bhaji. I have tried and tasted this rice from other finger licking bloggers but the current post is adapted from Tarla Dalal's Mumbai's Roadside Snacks book which is equally hearty. Like the bhaji recipe it is also prepared in a tava or a griddle and served hot with raitha and/or pappad. I am posting the original recipe though I changed the quantity and spice proportions as per taste.

Ingredients:
Butter: 3 tbsp
Cumin Seeds: 2 tsp
Chilli -Garlic Paste: 1.5 tbsp (below)

Onions: finely chopped 1/2cup
Capsicum/ Green Bell Pepper: finely chopped 1/2 cup
Tomatoes: finely chopped 1and1/4 cup
Salt : as per taste

Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp
Chilli Powder: 2tsp
Pav Bhaji Masala : 4 tsp

Basmathi Rice: Cooked 2.5 cups
Green Peas : boiled:1/4 cup
Cilantro: 1 tbsp finely chopped

Chilli-Garlic Paste(makes 1/2 cup):
Kashmiri dry Red Chillies /Any less spicy dried red chillies: 10-12 deseeded
Garlic: 8-10 medium cloves roughly chopped.

Prepartion:
Finely chop onions,tomatoes and capsicum. If using fresh shelled peas, then cook it or steam/microwave it. If using frozen peas you can add it along with veggies and cook it for a few minutes.Cook rice and keep aside.You can cook rice till just done as we will be sauteeing it for few minutes at the end.

Prepare the chilli -garlic paste: Soak the whole red chillies in enough warm water for atleast an hour. Drain them,addto a blender and blend along with garlic cloves adding little/enough water. This quantity gives you half cup.Use as needed and store remaining in an air tight container in the freezer.

 Any less spicy chilly will work instead of Kashmiri ones. I have used byadgi chillies which I soaked in little hot water for just 15 minutes. The Kashmiri chillies will impart more colour to the rice dish while the byadgi ones are orangey compared to the former. Atleast that's my assumption.

Heat butter in a rimmed pan/skillet on a large tawa/tava/griddle.Add the cumin seeds and saute on a medium flame till crackle.Add the required amount of chilli-garlic paste and onions,mix well and saute for 3-4 minutes on medium.

Add capsicum,tomatoes,salt,turmeric powder,chilli powder, pav bhaji masala and 1/4cup of water.Mix well,and cook on medium flame for about 5 minutes till the butter separates,stirring once in between,
If using frozen peas,add it now and allow it to cook as well.

Add the cooked rice,cooked peas (if not already added) and chopped cilantro/coriander,toss gently (so as not to break the grains) and cook for another minute. You can use tender stems of cilantro along with the leaves as they impart more flavour to the dish. 

Serve immediately with raita and pappads optionally garnishing with more cilantro.


The dish is hearty and comforting. The plus point of this recipe is that it uses pre cooked /leftover rice and quickly comes together. The chilli paste can be made a day earlier as well. The dish can also be made as a one pot meal and these are the finger lickingly good recipes that I have tried and tasted: Tawa Pulao from Chef In You and Tava Pulao : Mumbai Special from Vegetable Platter. 

This  delectable rice is also on way to AWED:Indian at Taste of Pearl City, an event by DK.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Strawberry Fool

A Fruit Fool is a simple English dessert where the fruit puree is mixed with whipped cream,sugar and optionally rosewater. I made a simple strawberry fool and here it is in all its pink splendour.I have referenced several recipes for the fool and have used this one as my base. It is nothing but whip cream,fold in the puree,chill and serve.

Ingredients:
Strawberries: atleast 1/2 cup washed,hulled and sliced/chopped.
Sugar: as needed

Cream: 1 cup or so
Icing Sugar/ Confectioners Sugar/Powdered Sugar: as needed to whip cream and as per taste
Vanilla : optional

Garnish:
Strawberry slices ,chocolate shavings etc

Preparation:
Puree the strawberries adding sugar and keep aside. You can strain/sieve the puree optionally.I did not.

Whip the cream adding icing sugar and vanilla till soft peaks form. Mix in the puree adding more puree if needed to get a pink cream. Pour in dessert bowls and chill till set -for atleast 2 hours.

Garnish with sliced strawberres and serve.



Mine was not completely set.Its was a bit wobbly at the centre but was creamy enough to hold the garnish without sinking them to the bottom. I had used the cream available here which is low in fat than the required double cream. But still the dessert was perfect for hot afternoons and can easily be reproduced with pther fruits as well.
The pretty pink dessert is visiting MM:Think Pink at MaisonCupcake, an event by Meeta



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strawberry Pannacotta with Strawberry Coulis& Toasted Nuts

'Tis just the beginning of summer and already I feel I am living inside a boiler. 'Tis the season of  vacations, picnics, and cool desserts. The king of fruits mango is starting his grand and expensive entry whereas the queen berry from foreign shores is quietly saying her goodbye (Tears).

I always make plans for freezing strawberry,but they remain what they are -just plans. This time more than baking/cooking I enjoyed berries as such,but one doomsday warning from Simran who has started freezing them, sort of pushed me into a strawberry overdrive and you can see few pink dishes here. This pannacotta which I tried with agar flakes is very lightly pink though.  I had barely 3 gms of  agar flakes and I had to adjust the ingredients accordingly.Here's my version of strawberry pannacotta. 

Ingredients:
Strawberries: atleast 1/2 cup chopped and pureed with 2 tbsp+ regular sugar

Agar flakes: 3 gms or little less than half of 10gms packet available here.
Water: 1/2 cup

Milk: 1/2 cup+ 2 tbsp
Cream : 1/2 cup (I used the available Amul cream which is low fat)
Sugar: 2 tbsp + as per taste

Garnish:
Toasted Nuts:chopped
Strawberries: chopped and tossed with sugar
Strawberry Juice

Preparation:

Wash the agar flakes and coarsely chop them and soak them for atleast 15 minutes in water.

Puree the strawberries with sugar and keep aside.You can use powdered sugar as well for pureeing them.

Heat 1/2 cup of milk in a pan and add in the softened agar flakes squeezing out the water.Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.Stir well and continue cooking till the agar flakes dissolve completely.

This will take about 10 minutes or more.But still some flakes may remain. So  remove from heat and immediately strain the mixture to remove the remaining flakes. Keep aside.

In another pan,bring to boil 1/2 cup cream and remaining 2 tbsp of milk adding just enough sugar. You will be folding in the sweetened strawberry puree into this and so add sugar accordingly.Once boiled,remove the cream -milk-sugar mix from heat and mix in the agar mixture.Fold in about 2 tbsp or more of the strawberry puree into this cream -agar mix.I went in for 2 tbsp but mine turned just light pink only.So use more puree if you want a pink pannacotta. Pour into cups or lightly greased molds and let it cool for sometime after which chill in the fridge for atleast 2 hours or overnight.

Actually agar sets in room temperature itself unlike the gelatin which takes atleast 2 hours or more. But just to make sure it sets and since it is served as a cold dessert chill till dessert time.

Serve topped with a layer of remaining strawberry coulis/puree and toasted nuts or chocolate shavings and more strawberries.


I actually got this idea of garnish and using remaining puree  from Meeta's Pannacotta post. She is an excellent photographer as well as a divine cook.I have just used toasted walnuts and honey roasted almonds which I had with me.


Or you can unmold it and serve it. I had some strawberries that were sliced and tossed in sugar and sitting for sometime. So I unmolded the small bowl of pannacotta,and topped it with sliced berries and poured the strawberry juice collected in the dish as well.TG, it unmolded well but thanks to the heat was disintegrating fast.




Friday, March 18, 2011

Cold Roasted Mung Broth - Uppa Hesaru

This is gain a simple recipe from the book "How the Banana goes to Heaven" by Ratna Rajaiah. The author, who is from Karnataka, talks of this recipe as a variation of the normal traditional dal. The recipe and the style are very new to me. I have made Kenyan style mung stew but this one from my adopted state stumped me. The mung bean is roasted and then cooked and mashed and seasoned and is preferably served cold -a perfect soup for summer or a warm gravy with rice on chilly nights. Hesaru is what mung bean is known in Kannada. I googled for a similar recipe,but could not find any.I have scaled down the original recipe to suit my requirements.

Ingredients:
Mung beans (whole green gram): 1 cup cleaned,washed and drained.
Tamarind paste: 2 tsp or more as per taste
Garlic : 3-4 small cloves unpeeled
Green Chillies: 2-3 as per taste
Fresh coriander Leaves/ Cilantro: 1 tbsp finely chopped (I omitted this)

Tempering:
Oil: 2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/4 tsp
Dried Red Chilli: 1 small broken into pieces
CurryLeaves: few
Hing/ asafoetida: a pinch

Lemon Juice: (optional): for more tartness

Preparation:
Pick wash and drain mung. Sry roast the bean in  a thick pan,until it starts to turn brown and gives off a nice aroma.Cool down and cook till soft adding enough water.You can see the difference between between raw mung and washed and roasted mung from this pic.


Roast the green chillies and the unpeeled garlic cloves separately till the skin starts to char. Peel the roasted garlic .

Grind together the cooked mung and roasted chillies to a thick coarse paste. Add in the peeled soft garlic cloves,salt and tamaring paste/juice and give it a final blend. Add water -preferably cold in case you are going for a soup - to get the consistency or thickness of your choice.

Instead of blending the ingredients,you can simply mash them with a ladle or use as much.I actually blended  few table spoons of cooked mung,little salt,tamarind paste,roasted chillies and roasted garlic together coarsely and mixed with the remaining cooked mung and adjusted the salt.

Add the finely chopped cilantro and mix well.This adds a fresh flavour to the gravy/broth which has a smoky taste what with all the roasted ingredients. I did not have cilantro- after making chutney 2-3 times,my cilantro bunch was gone- so  I did not add any.But the flavour went well for me.

Heat the oil for tempering,add the mustard seeds and dried red chilli. When the mustard stops spluttering,add curry leaves and hing.Remove from heat and add it to the mung broth saving few for garnish. Adjust the salt and increase the tartness by adding lemon juice.

Serve warm as a side with rotis/bread toast/rice. Else chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes and serve  as a cold soup for summery nights.



I tried it warm as well as cold. It excelled well in its two roles.Mung has a cooling effect on stomach basically. Other  mung bean dishes I normally try out are Konkani style upkari and humman and the Kenyan style .Just like peanuts, mung is a family favourite and this stew was comforting and I can see this becoming a regular.

This goes to AWED:Indian at Taste of Pearl City ,an event by DK and also to NCR:Mung Beans at Lisa's.



Peanuts & Cilantro Chutney (Spread)

As I have written in a previous peanut post,I am no lover of peanuts.Only recently I have started using them in the normal daily cooking as my family loves it. After the hit sundal this is a simple chutney I have tried with peanuts and coriander/cilantro. This is a simple variation of the traditional coconut and cilantro chutney and can also be used as a sandwich spread. The recipe is adapted from " How the banana goes to heaven & other secrets of health from the Indian Kitchen " by Ratna Rajaiah. I am writing the original recipe here though I adjusted the quantities as per taste

Ingredients:
Fresh Coriander Leaves: 1 cup, cleaned,washed and coarsely chopped.
Peanuts: 1 cup,fresh roasted
Green Chillies: 1-2 as per taste
Lemon Juice: 1/2 tsp + as per taste
Cumin Seeds: 1/4 tsp (I added roasted powdered cumin)
Jaggery : grated 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt: as per taste

Preparation:
Grind together all the ingredients adding enough water and adding the cumin last,when the chutney is fully ground.Serve with anything- as a chutney with dosas /idlis, spread on sliced bread to make a chutney sandwich or mix with curd to make a dip for your chips/fritters.



I used roasted cumin powder instead of the normal cumin seeds. Jaggery syrup also works fine as well as brownsugar. You can roast the peanuts in the dry pan till the skin blackens. Oven also works fine.Optionally remove the skins and you can use this link as a reference for an innovative and easy method for removing the skins.

There goes my simple first entry to AWED:Indian at the Taste of Pearl City,an event by DK





Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Barley Breakfast Cereal

This is a simple cereal or porridge that I made using barley,milk and apples. Its just like an oatmeal breakfast except that oats is replaced with the more healthier barley.

Normally I am not a barley person and barley always brings to my mind the barley water my mother makes. I have used barley flour in baking as cookies and muffins but never like this. But this way is easier and tastier as you just have to cook it,mix it and have it for a healthy start to your day.


Ingredients:
Barley: 4 tbsp

Apple: chopped
Warm Milk: as needed
Toasted Sweetened Nuts: handful (I used almonds)
Sweetner - honey/sugar/ brownsugar/low cal sweetner/jaggery syrup etc

Garnish: chocolate vermicelli/shavings

Preparation:
 Cook barley either on stovetop or pressure cooker. I used the latter as it was easier for me. You need to add more water -almost 3-4 times than the amount of barley- while cooking it.The volume of barley doubles after cooking.

Mix with all other ingredients and garnish with chocolate shavings. You can also add in your favourite spices or toppings.


This can be taken for breakfast instead of the regular oatmeal porridge. This can also be served as a dessert as well. On sitting it thickens a little and the barley soaks up the liquid. You can go for more milk in such case. Chocolate milk and even vegan milks works wonders as well. You can add in your favourite or seasonal fruits or spices and dryfruits as well which makes this more hearty.

Barley is richer in protein than oats. But it has a higher calorie content than oats and also takes time to cook. It is these factors that seems to have worked against barley. But a little planning and you can include the grain during your meal times especially breakfast.

I have used the barley available here which I suppose is the hulled barley and it definitely is not the pearl barley. The former is high in nutrients and fibre which are important at the beginning of the day.So this goes to Wholesome Wholegrain Cooking -Barley for Breakfast at Priya's ,an event by Sanjeeta.  


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Zucchini Yoghurt Salad -Turkish style Raitha

The heat during day time is so intense that we need cold raithas or desserts.Rather than spring I feel summer is fast approaching.So rather than going for elaborate meals raithas are more preferable for me.Ofcourse I make other sides for rice/breads but end up eating the raithas more. This is a simple zucchini raitha Turkish style (also known as Yo─čurtlu Kabak Salatas─▒ ) from AlmostTurkish. I had one zucchini and I used the recipe accordingly.

Ingredients:
Zucchini: 1 :optionally peeled and coarsely grated.
Thick yoghurt: 1/2 -1 cup depending on taste
Olive oil: 1-2 tsp
Garlic: 1 small clove grated/minced
Walnuts: handful: chopped/crushed/halved
Fresh/Frozen Dill: 1-2 tbsp as per taste
Fresh /Dried mint: 1tbsp :as per taste and adjust with dill.
Salt & Pepper: as per taste

Preparation:
Optioally peel zucchini (I did,very lighly)and grate it in  a bowl.Squeeze and remove the excess juice.
Heat olive oil in a pan,add the squeezed zucchini and cook till tender stirring occassionally. This takes few minutes only. Remove  from heat and allow to cool.

In a big bowl,mix well grated garlic and yoghurt. To this garlicky yoghurt,stir in the cooled zucchini,herbs,walnuts and salt & pepper.

Mix well and serve chilled.


A simple and fuss free raitha. You can adjust the herbs as per taste. I had used frozen dill and fresh mint and I prefered mint more. You can also adjust the quantity or thickness of the curd and use it as a spread or topping. This is a saviour during hot summer and a bit different from the regular no-cook raithas we normally use.


And it vanished in minutes.......................



Friday, March 11, 2011

Apple Dumplings

Last month the book club chose Tender at the Bone ,another book by Ruth Reichl after Garlic and Sapphires. Having missed the latter I wanted to do this and was intrigued to know that this one was the story or an account of the author's childhood. We get to know her depressive mother  or the Queen of mold -she even consumed moldy foods and also falls for the bargain trap  and had an iron stomach to combat the illnesses, the French school in Canada where her mother sent her,the friend's father who introduced her to exotic foods,the grand moms and the maid who made excellent food and the various cooks that went through her house and life who taught her the basics of cooking.  The book also tells us how she became a critic and the chefs she met.
The author has an excellent eye for food -no wonder she is critic- and describes the related details excellently.As I have said earlier, telling a story is an art.Foodwise, the book has its own set of recipes. I loved the apple dumplings by Alice served along with hard sauce. Alice was he Afro-American maid who worked for her grandmother or rather one of the three grannies.Now, me being me, I went for 1/4th of the recipe and made dumplings using apple halves.Here's my version of dumplings.

Ingredients:
Apple: atleast 1 peeled and halved

Pastry:
All Purpose Flour: 1/2 cup
Salt: a pinch
Shortening: 3 tbsp
Ice Cold Water:4 tsp

Filling:
Brown Sugar + Cinnamon: Mix together
 Butter.

Preparation:
Peel and halve the apple.Remove the seeds and fill them with a mix of sugar and cinnamon.Top with a 1-2 tsp of butter.This is optional,but it makes the already buttery dumpling more buttery!.

Mix together salt and flour. Cut in the cold butter and ice water and stir to form a crumbly dough.Divide the dough into two. Place each half  in between sheets  of plastic and roll out each to get a square- not too thinner nor too thick,just big enough to cover the apple half.Place the apple half on the centre of the square.

Cover the apple,by bringing the corners together on top of the apple and crimp the edges. Mine was just correctly rolled out TG.It came upto the top of the apple half. 

Also give cuts on top of the pastry,to vent the air out.Optionally sprinkle the top with more sugar,cinnamon.Cover with a plastic rap and chill for atleast half n hour in the fridge.
Take out the chilled pastry and remove the wrap and place in a lightly greased baking sheet.Bake in a preheated  oven at 350F for 25 -30 minutes or more until the apple gets cooked and the juices start to bubble and the pastry edges start to brown.

Serve with hard sauce or whipped cream or ice cream as a warm dessert. I went for the latter.Too lazy to try out the hard sauce and also could not wait to eat the apple.

A simple fuss free recipe yet very classic.I first tried with the whole  apples but it looked gross though tasty.So I went for apple halves.It is like eating apple pie in a pouch. Soft buttery and spiced apples and crumbly crunchy pastry.You can go for apple pie spices or the simple cinnamon or make the changes accordingly. The apple excels as a hero as in all the dishes it is used in.

Do check the BookClub for what others have cooked for Ruth Reichl.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweet Potato Chili

These days the weather is such that you feel like putting your  head in the fridge in the afternoon,but come night,its chilly weather. Such fluctuations does call for soups -they can be cooked fast or atleast I feel so and  provide warmth dduring the night. Chili does com in th category of stew and can be used as a side dish as well as a hearty soup. I normally stick to the vegetarian chili I had posted previously,but these days I am trying out different chili recipe like this Vegetarian Chili from Jamie Oliver which he made using roasted sweet potato. I could never think of such innovations. The recipe was super simple and only changes I made was the use of three types of beans,and regular green peppers available with me.

Ingredients:
Sweet Potato: 1 atleast :  or peeled and cubed.1-1.5 cups

Cayenne Pepper/ Chilli Powder: 1/2 tsp+ more for sprinkling
Cumin Powder : 1/2  heaped tsp + more for sprinkling
Cinnamon Ground: 1/2 tsp + more for sprinkling
Olive Oil ,Salt & Pepper: as per taste

Onion: 1 chopped fine :around 1/4 cup +
Green Pepper: 1 big: cubed
Fresh Red Chilli: 1 small
Fresh Green Chilli: 1 small or as per taste
Garlic: 2 -3 small cloves

Red Kidney Beans: 1/2 cup
Pinto Beans: 1/2 cup

Tomatoes: Peeled & chopped : 3 ripe
Tomato Puree: 4  tbsp +

Fresh Cilantro: 1 small bunch

Preparation:
Peel,and cube sweet potato. Sprinkle with salt,pepper,cinnamon,chilli powder and cumin.Drizzle with olive oil and toss well to coat. Layer in a lined baking sheet and roast in a preheated oven at 400F for 20+ minutes or until browned.

You can also go for 450F and lesser roasting time.Take out the roasted potatoes and keep aside. I actually had few pieces one they cooled a bit just to see whether they were seasoned properly. :) You can go for just salt and pepper roasting and optionally add the spices when they are out of the oven and are still hot. Or ust add the spices in the chili. I went for salt and pepper roasting and then added the spices in the chili.

Presoak and cook the beans till done. Chop the onion roughly into small pieces.Mince/crush the garlic.Cube the bell pepper.Blanch,peel and chop the tomatoes. You can also use tomato paste instead of tomatoes + puree. Separate the cilantro leaves from the stalk and chop and keep aside each separately.Here we are using the cilantro stem for additional flavour.

Heat Olive oil in a deep pan,add onion,peppers and garlic and cook till the onion changes colour and the peppers start to cook for about 5 minutes.

Add coriander stalks/stem ,slit chillies and spices (cumin,coriander and  cinnamon).Cook for few more minutes.
Add the cooked beans along with little water in which they are cooked,salt, tomatoes chopped and the tomato puree and mix well. You can add little coriander leaves as well. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer,cover and cook for 15-20 minutes more when the required consistency is reached. If too thick add more water.

Just before taking off the heat,stir in the roasted sweet potatoes. Heat through. You can mash a few pieces of sweet potatoes and beans to make it look thick. On sitting it thickens a bit as well. Taste and adjust the spices and salt.

Serve as a side dish or dip with tortillas/breads/rice.

I loved it both as a side as well as a thick soup.Mine had thickened more than needed and the pic shows a very thick chili. I topped crackers with this and enjoyed it. A warm,comforting and hearty dish.A sure shot winner as well.





Thursday, March 3, 2011

Simple Guacamole with Potato Pancakes

Guacamole is a simple avocado based dip from Mexico. You mash avocado in a mortar and pestle with little salt and lemonjuice along with optional additions like chillies,tomato etc. There are several versions with different ingredients, and this is a simple one which I have been making based on the recipe by chef Rick Bayless. Normally it is served as a dip with tortilla chips,but can also used as a spread  with a pancakes as well.Chef Bayless serves it with a simple potato pancake which makes the dish all the more hearty.



Ingredients:
Ripe Avocado: atleast 1

Garlic: 1 small clove,finely grated.
Salt

To make it more herby:
Cilantro : finely chopped 1 tbsp
Lemon Juice: 1-2 tsp

Additions:
Fresh Green Chilli: Jalapeno or serrano :1finely chopped
Onion: 2-3 tbsp : finely chopped : preferably white,but I used red
Tomato: finely diced: 2-3 tbsp :seeds removed



Preparation:
Make sure your avocado is ripe. To check for ripenness,try gently squeezing the avocado. IT should be firm,but must give in a little under pressure. Rock hard avocado is not ripe and if you have one,wrap it in brownpaper cover/bag and let it sit outside for atleast 1-2 days.It will be ripe enough to be mashed into guacamole. Unripe avaocado must not be used for guacamole .

Cut the avocado into half,running the knife around the pit from stem to end and back again.Twist the two halves in opposite direction to free the pits and pull the halves apart.

With a spoon ,scoop out the flesh in a bowl.Adding little lemon juice (to prevent discolouration of avocado) and salt mash it finely.Add in finely grated garlic and other ingredients and mash well to get guacamole.Adjust the salt if needed.

The raw garlic will be overpowering and hence keep it to the the bare minimum.If using onions,rinse the finely chopped onions,squeeze them to remove the water and then add to the avocado.This is done to remove the excess onion flavour it may lend to the dip.You can do the entire process in a mortar and pestle.

If not using immediately,plastic wrap the dip -with the wrap pressed directly on the surface of the dip- and chill in the fridge where it may stay for a few hours.

As per the source recipe ,I served it with potato pancakes.


Potato Pancakes:
Peel and grate 2-3 medium sized potatos.Squeeze out the excess moisture with your hands.Heat a skillet on medium heat.Lightly spray with oil.Take handfuls of potato mix,squeeze again,shape into pancakes and put on the skillet.Sprinkle with salt and pepper.Press flat with a spatula.When browned,turn over and brown the other side too. Serve with guacamole.


A simple appetizer or breakfast,depending on how you serve this.Else you can also serve the guacamole as a dip for chips/fritters/veggies.





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