p Box o' Spices: January 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fruit Custard

In an attempt to eat healthy and feed our little daughter healthy food we ended up with a fridge full of fruits. Now you have to be really focussed on healthy eating to follow through or all you will have is a fridge full of healthy food and a stomach full of not-so-healthy food. So I decided that noone can say no to sugar coated (once) healthy foods... so I chopped up some of the fruits we had (apple, banana, black grapes). I like the grapes cut in two. Made some custard using the Brown and Polsen Vanilla Custard powder, poured the custard from the stove over the fruits. Let it cool and refrigerated it. Now who can say no to a bowl of fruit custard. I think I will have to make it again so I can clear up the fridge. I will try making it with splenda next time and let you know how it turns out.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Lemon Idiappam

Idiappam is a south indian dish traditionally made with rice flour mixed with boiling water and pressed through tiny holes to give very thin noodles which are steamed. Then the noodles are used to make either a sweet dish with coconut or a spicy one with lemon or tomatoes. Some people alsos eat idiappam with kurma or even chicken curry.
Idiappam used to be a "special" breakfast at home growing up. When we had guests over for breakfast my mom would be in the kitchen for 3 hours making idiappam. We would have 3 kinds of idiappam sweet, lemon and tomato. Even though I loved idiappam I always thought that it was not worth the time and effort it took to make. Now we get such good "instant rice sevai" which tasted almost the same as the real 3-hour one that it doesnt makes sense to me not to use it.
Tomato idiappam used to be my most favorite and is the spiciest one of the three. I will post the recipe for that another day. Last night I wanted to make something very quick and light for dinner. I had bought a small packet of rice sevai (Concord brand) to try out. It was actually very good. In the US I have used rice noodles from Chinese stores to get similar results. But if rice sevai is available it is definitely better.

Instant Rice sevai: 1 small packet (100 grams)
Juice of 1 lemon
ginger: 1 small piece. grated
Cashewnuts. Broken. 1 tbsp. (optional)
Green chilies: 1 or according to taste
turmeric powder
Jeera, mustard, broken urad dal: 1/4 tsp each
Curry and coriander leaves

Boil some water and add the rice sevai to it. Turn the stove off after a minute. Leave for another 2-3 minutes until cooked and drain. You can run some cold water over it to make it non-sticky. (The brand of sevai didnt seem to need it).
Heat some oil, add seasoning, cashewnute, curry leaves and ginger and green chilies. Mix the lemon juice in equal amount of water, a pich of turmeric powder and salt to taste. Add to the pan, reduce heat and after a minute add the sevai. Mix well, allow to cook for a couple of minutes and add choppedd coriander leaves.

P.S. Do not cook the lemon jiuce for a long time. It may turn bitter. Just a few seconds may be enough before you add the sevai.

Technorati tags: ,

Friday, January 26, 2007

Onion-tomato chutney

Dosa - chutney is the ultimate South Indian breakfast. Actually idli and chutney used to be the standard breakfast every week day during my childhood. When you have the batter made it's one less meal to plan. This is my favorite chutney and I make it quite often. DH loves his peanut chutney... no surprise for an Andhra guy I guess. But onion-tomato chutney is slowly becoming one of his favorites too.

Onions: 2 medium. coarsely chopped
Tomato: 1. coarsely chopped
Red chilies: 3-4 (or according to taste)
pinch of tamarind
Mustard, split urad dal, curry leaves for seasoning

Heat some oil and add the onions and chilies. Fry for a couple of minutes and add the tomatoes. Fry until soft. Remove from heat. You can wait for it to cool a bit before grinding. Add salt, tamarind and grind until smooth. Do not add any water. Heat some oil and splutter mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves and add to chutney. Serve with hot idlis or dosa.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Peerkangai Curry

Peerkangai (Tamil), Beerakai (Telugu), Heerekai (Kannada), Turia (Hindi), Ridge Gourd (English) One of the tastiest vegetables in my opinion. No matter how much you try to overpower the dish with spices this vegetable still retains its taste. It's one with a tough exterior but once peeled you find hidden such a delicate, tender, tasty vegetable. The sooner you cook ridge gourd the better. Invariably I tend to keep it for over a week and find that it becomes a bit mature and seedy (if that's a word).

Ridge Gourd: 3 small ones or about 1/2 kg. peeled and chopped into 1 cm squares
Onions: 2 medium. chopped fine
Tomatoes: 1. chopped fine
Garlic: 2-3 pods
Sambar powder: 1 tsp
Black pepper pwd: 1/4 tsp
Idli podi (optional): 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder: a pinch

Heat some oil and add jeera, curry leaves, green chili, garlic.
Then add onions and fry till brown. Add the tomato and cook for few minutes.
Add the sambar, turmeric and pepper powders and salt. Then add the ridge gourd. Add 1 cup of water and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the idli podi (I just added this to thicken the dish once and really liked the taste). Add chopped coriander leaves. Serve with hot white rice.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Chilli Paneer

This is our favorite Indian-Chinese appetizer. After seeing the Chilli Paneer from Meenakshi of Hooked on Heat I was tempted to try the dish. A slightly different dry version... It turned out good except that the paneer was a bit hard. Guess I had fried it for too long. If anyone has any suggestions pls feel free.

Paneer: 200 grams cut into thin 1 inch squares
Corn flour: 1 tbsp
Paprika: 1/4 tsp
Onion:1 large
Green pepper: 1
Fresh copped ginger and garlic. 1 tsp each
Green chilies: 3 slices thin.
Spring onions. chopped. 1 cup
Soy sauce (I use lilte soy sauce)

Make a paste of corn flour, paprika, salt and water. Coat the paneer with this and marinate for 10 min. Meanwhile heat some oil and add the ginger, garlic, green choilies, onions and peppers. Fry till onion turns brown and capsicum is cooked. Add some salt and soy sauce. Sprinkle some corn flour if you want the dish to be very dry. While the onions are cooking, fry the paneer on a tawa for about 2 minutes on each side. Add the fried paneer and mix. Remove from heat after a couple of minutes.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Spinach Poriyal

Every morning I wake up to the sound of a man yelling "Aaku kooreeey" which means Leafy greens in Telugu. He comes on a bicycle carrying some 10 big bags each filled with the freshest greens like spinach, coriander, curry leaves, mint, methi and some others which i don't recognize. The first time I took my wallet and went down to buy some spinach and mint. After paying 2$ a bunch in the US I just was taken aback when he said it was Rs.2 for 4 bunches. They were smaller bunches, but still... 2 rupees. and its almost door delivered. everyday. Now I don't think we can come up with any excuse not to eat them regularly. This is one dish I started making and seems to be quite popular around here.

Spinach: 4 small bunches - bottom half of stem removed and rest chopped fine. (you could also use frozen chopped spinach)
Onion: 1 medium sliced thin
Garlic: few cloves sliced thin
Green chilies: according to taste. chopped fine
Jeera, curry leaves
lemon juice: few drops

Wash the spinach well, and chop.
Heat some oil, add jeera, curry leaves, garlic and green chilies and fry for a minute.
Add the onions and fry until brown.
Add the spinach and salt and cook until soft. Add very little water if necessary.
Finally add some lemon juice and revove from the stove.
Serve as side dish with rice and dal/sambar.