p Box o' Spices: February 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Aloo Kathi Roll

There are times when you want to open the fridge and whip out a decent meal in a minute. Until recently I would always have a stock of frozen dishes either store bought or home made, veggie burgers, an array of sauces and dressings, cheese slices, chicken sausages, etc. And we would come up with different sandwiches, rolls, paninis in ever possible combination. Whenever we had a lot of people staying over, I would make this aloo stuffing in advance. We would make sanwiches in the sandwich maker with buttered bread or bread and a slice of cheese and the aloo stuffing. This also tastes good as a kathi roll or frankie stuffing. You can also make it a bit watery and serve as a side with pooris. Or even in a dosa and you have your favorite (special) masala dosa.

Large potatoes: 2
Cauliflower, chopped to 1/2 inch pieces: 2 cups
Peas: 1/2 cup
Onions: 2 large
Ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp
Garam masala: 1/4 tsp
Sambar powder: 1 tsp
Red chili powder: 1 tsp
Curry and coriander leaves. chopped.
Some cloves and cinnamon
Jeera: 1 tsp

Boil the aloo and mash roughly.
Sprinkle some water on the cauliflower and peas and microwave for about 5 minutes or until cooked.
Heat some oil and add the jeera. Then add the cloves and cinnamon. If you dont like chewing on the spices by accident, skip this and increase the garam masala to 1/2 tsp. Then add the ginger garlic paste, curry leaves and chopped onions and fry well till brown. Now add the vegetables, salt, sambar powder, red chili powder, garam masala 1/2 cup of water and mix well. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add chopped coriander leaves.

To assemble the kathi rolls:
Take a roti or chapati, spread some spicy sauce, add some chopped onions and spread the potato masala in a line down the middle. Roll and serve with more sauce of your choice.

This is my entry to Vaishali's JFI - Potato

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Vazhakai Poriyal

Vazhakai is raw plantain or banana. A poriyal (dry curry) or Podimas (dry curry made with mashed plantain) made from this is one of the staples at any wedding lunch. It is a very simple dishto make but somehow I have never made it. This was my first attempt and a made up recipe remembering the taste from years ago.

Raw banana: 2
Mustard seeds, urad dal, jeera: 1/2 tsp each (i add more urad dal for extra crunch)
Curry leaves
Sambar powder: 1 tsp or according to spice level

Peel and slit the banana lebgthwise into two. Then slice into 1/2 cm thich slices.
Boil in salted water until soft or pressure cook. I add some turmeric powder in the water too, but this is optional. (I think pressure cooking for 1-2 whistles should be suffecient, I did for 3 whistles, and it became a but mushy. would have been perfect for podimas. But i liked the end result a lot)

Heat some oil and add the rest of the ingredients. When they splutter, add the dry banana and sambar powder. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occationally and gently. Serve as a side with rice and sambar.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Our new find

I know this is diverting from the theme of the blog, but I had to share it with you guys. We went to a furniture exhibition on Sunday just to take a look. We ended up buying this beautiful coffee table. It's an antique and over 100 years old. The guy who sold it to us could not give us too much information about it, except that it was a side door in a palace. He said it was from the Kapurthala. It was converted into a coffee table and just needed a glass top over it. Some of the details were a bit blue, and I'm not an expert at this, but I think it is because those parts were copper and got oxidized. Anyway we are so excited. I have added some pitures, but I dont think they do justice.

I have to figure out what to do with our current coffee table. Hmmm....


Friday, February 23, 2007

Basic chocolate cake

I have always been very interested in baking but never took the effort to experiment. I would always use the cake mixes and brownie mixes. After seeing Sudha's chocolate cake I've been wanting to bake a chocolate cake from scratch. I even went and bought all the ingredients. I wish I had a big oven like the ones we had in the US. I just have a toaster oven here, and was a bit doubtful about whether it would work the same. There are some people in my family who don't eat egg and so I searched for an eggless cake recipe. Judging from the pictures I settled for one from Chowtimes. The recipe uses a 9x13 pan, but my toaster oven would only fit a smaller one. So I made half the qty in a 8 inch square pan. And shortened the baking time to 30 minutes. The result was awesome. It felt a but crusty on top, but within an hour or two turned very soft and moist. And everyone was happy.


Set 1:
Flour: 1.5 cups
Baking soda: 1 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Cocoa powder: 3 tbsp

Set 2:
Water: 1 cup
Sugar: 1 cup
Vanilla extract: 1/2 tbsp
Lemon juice: 1 tbsp
Oil: 1/4 cup
Some mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Sift the ingredients in Set 1.
Mix the ingredients in set 2 until sugar has dissolved.
Mix together both sets.
Pour into a greased and floured pan (about 8-9 inch pan) and sprinkle some chocolate chips on top.
Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool and cut into squares.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mor Kozhambu and Keerai Masiyal

I make fresh yogurt now unlike the jars of yogurt that we buy in the US. They sell yogurt here too and is quite tasty, but milk gets delivered to the door. We hardly drink any milk even in our coffee but have to have milk so that other people can drink chai/coffee.... I would have never understood this when in the US, but am sure those living in India would relate to it. Anyway, excess milk leads to excess yogurt. That's taken care of thanks to the 'finish-off' dishes as I call them. Mor kozhambu or Majjige Pulusu to finish off curd/yogurt like fruit custard to finish off fruits. and uttapam to finish of dosa batter. and others like bread upma, idli upma, lemon rice... wow and who said Indians dont recycle.

Mor Kozhambu:

Dudhi: 1 medium sized (or any "water" vegetable like pumkin, chayote)
Onions: 1 large. sliced thin
Tomato: 1 medium
Curd: 1 cup. beaten
Curry and coriander leaves
For the masala:
Green chilies: 4
Ginger: 1 inch
Coriander seeds: 1 tbsp
Jeera: 1 tsp
Roasted chana dal (dalia): 1 tbsp
Grated coconut: 1 tbsp

Fry chilies, ginger, coriander seeds in a little oil and grind with the rest of the masala ingredients.
Peel the dudhi and discard the seeds. Cut it into 1 inch squares and boil in salted water until tender. (Do not overcook as it will turn mushy). Drain and reserve the water for the curry.
Heat some oil, season with mustard and curry leaves and then fry the onions and then add the tomatoes. When soft, add the masala paste and some water and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the dudhi and the curd. Boil for about 5 more minutes. Add chopped coriander leaves and serve with hot steamed rice.

One of the wholesome dishes that I remember my mom making often is Keerai Masiyal, although then we just called it Mulai keerai as my mom made Mulai keerai only that way. Now in Hyderabad I dont know if Mulai keerai is available. They have Thota Koora and am not sure what the Tamil equivalent is. We wanted to try some greens other than spinach so I got a lot (Rs.4) of Thota Koora. My mom uses only the leaves for this dish and the stems are chopped up and made into a Poriyal which has a very distinctive and delicious taste and was very special because there was always very little of it. I will post a picture of the stems dish (Keerai thandu as we call it).

Keerai Masiyal:

Thota koora: 4 bunches. leaves removed. save the stems
Garlic: 3-4 pods
Green chilies: to taste
small bit of tamarind or tamarind paste

Boil the leaves along with garlic and green chilies in very little water in a covered vessel until leaves are cooked. It actually gets steamed rather than boiled, so you need not add a whole lot of water. Grind this to a paste with tamarind. Make a tadka with mustard, urad dal and broken dried chilies and add to the keerai.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mushroom and Peas Kurma

Hope everyone had a great Valentine's day!! It was amazing to see the elaborate menu most of you had for V day. We just went out for a nice dinner. I like going out on special occasions. I try to research and find a good place that we have never been to. I know all the gourmet chefs out there must be thinking "How can you not cook the special meal". I get too tensed and worked up if I want to make something special and I feel you enjoy the meal better if someone else cooks it for you. So I save my experiments and adventures for regular days. Maybe next Birthday I will make a special meal and brag... sorry blog about it.

We were passing by the local farmers market and decided to get some fresh produce. Now they definitely have the best vegetables and some at unreasonably low (or so it seemed to me) prices. For example I got 1/4 kg of tiny baby potatoes for 1 rupee (If anyone has a good Dum aloo recipe please send me the link). And just the other day we were thinking we cannot get anything for one rupee these days. And right away we were proven wrong. I couldnt buy too many vegetables even though they were so good and cheap because we had to buy in large quatities. And also because I'm so used to picking the quantity I want at supermarkets that I was taking forever to decide what I wanted and how much. Guess I had become too urbanised in this aspect. They also had fresh button mushrooms (prepackaged and easy on my brain) so I picked a packet of those. They ended up being some of the tastiest mushrooms that I have ever eaten. Fresh wins over processed anytime. I guess I will have to make another trip to the Rythu bazaar, this time better prepared.

Mushroom and peas kurma

Button mushrooms: 200 grams - sliced to small pieces.
Peas: a handful
Onions: 2 medium. chopped fine
Tomato: 1 small
Garlic: 2-3 cloves
Cloves, Cinnamon, Jeera
Curry and coriander leaves

For masala paste:
Grated coconut: 2 tbsp
Ginger: 1/2 inch piece
Tomato: 1 small chopped
Onion: 1 small chopped
Khus Khus and saunf: 1/2 tsp each
Green chilies: 2-3
Roasted chana dal (dalia) (optional.. for thickening): 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder: a pinch

Make a paste of the above

Heat some oil and add the jeera, cloves and cinnamon. The add the chopped garlic and curry leaves. After they splutter add the onions and fry till brown. The add the chopped tomatoes. In a minute add the masala paste and salt and cook for about 5 minutes till the raw smell of onions and tomatoes subsides. Then add the mushrooms and peas and some water. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add coriander leaves and serve with chapati or parathas.