Vegetarian Concoctions

July 5, 2007

Khasta Kachori

I have’nt been blogging for over a month now. No particular reason. I did make some interesting crunchies and munchies, but did not bother to take photographs. My husband even asked me if I was feeling well when I let him eat the spring rolls without capturing some shots for records. Photographing the food, for me, takes more time than cooking it. I do have a good camera, with the macro mode(which is quite a feature for photographing food!) capability, but my kitchen is not open to natural light. I have to take pictures during the day, with the lights on. Most times, I just cannot manage a decent shot indoors.

My typical photography sessions are filled with activity. I carry the food, the garnish, a cloth to spread on the ground and the camera to the patio. A pair of curious eyes watches me with interest. I spread the cloth and place the serving bowl on it. A pair of energetic legs jumps into action. I wipe the bowl for any unwanted traces of food, garnish it and switch on the camera. A pair of meddling hands is what I see through the viewer. Then I do a little pleading and screaming. More often than not, this just increases the levels of curiosity and activity. I threaten a ‘time out’ session and that doesn’t work either. I wonder how the father manages this dialogue so effectively. Finally, I turn to my saviour – ‘Barney’. He has came to my rescue more times than I can count. Works like a charm. With the little monkey safely watching the dino, I get back to work. After a couple shots I can see the head turn towards me again. I quickly take another shot and clear everything out before hurricane Ananya decides to change path.

Now you see why I am not really fond of the picture displaying part of the recipe writing process. Anyway, this is a picture sequence I had taken a few months ago and completely forgotton about. When I chanced to see it in my camera waiting to be uploaded, I didnt lose much time compiling this post.

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Khasta kachori is a recipe I learnt from a friend’s mom. She made the most amazing kachoris. This is what you need.

All-purpose flour (maida) – 2 cups

Ghee/butter – 1/3 cup

Moong dal – 3/4 cup

Saunf(fennel seeds) – 2 tsp

Dhania (Corriander seeds) – 1 tbsp

Jeera (Cumin seeds) – 2 tsp

Red chilli pwd – 2 tsp (or less)

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Hing – a pinch

Garam masala – 1/2 tsp

Oil for deep frying

Soak the moong dal overnight or for at least 3-4 hours. Mix the maida and ghee with hand to a crumbly texture. Add water little by little to make a stiff dough. Let rest for 1/2 hr. Dry grind the jeera, saunf and dhaniya. Add oil to a pan and add the soaked moong dal.(Alternatively you can grind the soaked moong dal coarsely with minimum water and then roast it in a little oil till the water evaporates and it forms a crumb-like texture. Add the masalas and the dry powders and saute for a few minutes. Let this cool. Fill it in the dough (do not overfill) and flatten it out a bit. Deep fry till golden brown and serve with chutney or ketchup.

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March 8, 2007

Pesarattu (Moong dal adai)

Filed under: Ginger, Whole moong dal — Hema @ 12:45 pm

The mere mention of Pesarettu, adai or dosai takes me on a joy ride down memory lane back home in India. Our kitchen springs up in front of my eyes. I see a girl, wearing a white and navy blue school uniform with her long hair oiled and plated up with a red ribbon, sitting on the kitchen counter watching her mother prepare dosais. A little boy comes in looking unkempt and points at his growling stomach. Both kids are instructed to wash their hands, legs and face, change their clothes and then come back with their tiffin plates. They frown and drag themselves into their respective rooms and come out after a while looking pretty much the same.

A plate is hurriedly rinsed and they sit on the kitchen floor with the plate in front of them in great anticipation. A bottle of til oil and a box full of molagai podi (gun powder) are given to them for self-service. Dosais are tossed endlessly into the plate one by one freshly prepared, right out of the tava.They gobble up the thin, white discs in no time and fight for the crisp outer circle. The mother shakes her head disapprovingly and asks them to get another plate, so they will stop fighting over every dosai and they refuse. They just like to eat from one plate…‘is se pyar badhta hai’…they announce, brilliantly quoting Aamir khan’s famous dialogue in Andaaz apna apna. After about 20 minutes of tossing and gobbling, the kids seem satisfied.

‘So, what’s for tomorrow’s tiffin’ asks the little boy.
‘I’m thinking adai’ says the mother
He lets out a happy squeal and sticks his tongue out at his sister.
The girl looks dissapointed.
‘And pesarettu for you’ says the mother looking lovingly at her daughter.
Its the sister’s turn to stick out the tongue at her little brother.

Ah! happy memories:) This is how my amma made pesarattus:

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Whole green moong dal – 4 cups

Raw rice – 1 cup

Ginger – a 1 X 1 inch piece

Green Chillies – 4-5 nos

Salt to taste

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Soak the dal and rice for 3-4 hours in warm water. Grind with ginger and chillies and little water to make a thick batter. Add salt to taste. I like to grind it course, so there is a crunch when you bite into it. I like to add some mint or cilantro leaves into it. Ladle some batter on the tava and spread it out by patting it with the back of the ladle. Pour a few drops of oil and turn it over after one side is browned and crisp. Serve it with molagai podi, white butter or any pickle of your choice.

February 27, 2007

Potato and Leek soup

Filed under: Barley, Celery, JFI, Leeks, Mixed Veggies, Orzo, Parsley, Potato, Soup's on, Soups — Hema @ 4:43 pm

It is crunch time!  I did’nt realize February has but 28 days. It has been a busy month and I have missed out on posting a strawberry treat for AFAM. Reading my previous post on hot and sour soup, Asha suggested that I send my soup for Alanna’s “Soup’s on” event. I sent in the link to Alanna without even mentioning the event in my post:) hehe…stupid me. That, obviously is not acceptable. So, here is another soup that I brewed up keeping in mind the deadlines for two events: the “Soup’s on” and ……..yeah, you got that right “JFI-Potato“. This time, it is my chance to say ‘Ek pathar se do shikaar‘(two prays with one stone). I mixed and matched ingredients from 4 different recipes in 3 different books (Potato, leek and pea soup, Spinach and orzo soup, spring soup with barley and leak and carrot soup). Hence, the recipe is very versatile and additions and deletion can be made according to taste…just make sure you use the potatoes and leeks though, if you want to retain the name on it. Potato gives the soup its texture and leek its fabulous flavor. Here is what you need:

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Potatoes – 2 nos medium sized

Leek – 1 no

Bay leaves – 2 nos

Red onions – 1/2 medium sized

Garlic – 2 cloves

Parsley – 1/2 bunch

Celery – 1 stem

Barley – 2 tbsp uncooked

Orzo – 2 tbsp uncooked

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Water – 5-6 cups

Chop up the potatoes, leeks and celery to 1/2 inch pieces. Heat up olive oil and saute the onions till they are translucent. Add the garlic and bay leaves and saute for a minute. Add all the veggies and cover it up with water. Add salt and let this simmer away till the veggies are cooked well. Take half the soup out, let it cool down and then puree it. To the other half that is on the stove, add uncooked orzo, barley and chopped parsley. Continue cooking till the pasta is done. Dilute it further if required. Now add the pureed half and add salt and pepper according to taste. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

January 31, 2007

Poli

Filed under: Indian, Jaggery, Pongal, Sweets and Desserts, Tamilnadu, Toor Dal — Hema @ 10:41 am

I had made poli on bhogi, the first day of pongal. A good friend read out the recipe from her Samaithu paar (cook and see) part I by Meenakshi ammal. I have made poli before, but I always had problems working with the maida. Hoping to get a better result this time, I heeded the book’s advice of adding all that oil that it recommended to make it more workable. The dough worked well but the filling was not upto the expectations. Why?  because, the recipe suggested that the chana dal be cooked well and then the excess water removed. Smart that I thought I was, I cooked the dal in minimum water and didnt realize that some portions of the dal though cooked, remained hard until it was too late to go back and correct it.

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For the filling:

Uncooked chana dal – 1 cup

Jaggery – 1 cup (I used less since we prefer  it that way)

Cardamom – 1 tsp

Ghee – 2 tsp (The recipe did not list ghee. Just my choice)

For the dough:

Maida – 2 cups

Salt – 1/2 tsp

Turmeric – a pinch

Sesame oil – almost 1/3 cup

Water enough to make a soft dough

The method is same as what you would find here or here.

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Filling cooked to the right consistency (Click to expand)

The verdict: The poli was actually pretty good since the grinder did a good job of hiding my stupidity. The next time, I will try adding some atta alongwith the maida.

September 28, 2006

Black Bean – corn salsa

Filed under: Black beans, Corn, Mexican, Salads and Raita, Snacks and Appetizers — Hema @ 4:59 pm

Last night just before calling it a day, I remembered that we had a potluck arranged at work today to celebrate a colleague’s birthday. The theme was tacos. I had promised to make something too. I had plans of making enchiladas, but I certainly didn’t have that sort of time or energy or for that matter, ingredients. I conversed with myself for the next couple minutes.

‘I’ll just buy a pack of taco shells from the grocery store on the way to work’

‘but come on, someone would have thought of that! Its a taco party afterall. How lame.’

‘How about some chips?’

‘So, what was Tanya getting? Didnt she mention buying chips? Wish I could remember’

‘I wonder if anybody is getting anything vegetarian. I should have peeked into the sign up sheet.’

‘How about buying a cake on the way to work? Dessert need not be Mexican.’

‘Maria bakes one everytime we have a  potluck. No one is going to touch the cake bought from the store when there is a home-made one around. Actually, I hope she gets her cake. It has been a while since I have had her’s.’

‘How about making bean salsa? I think I have everything I need in my pantry. Let me check.’

As, I hurried downstairs, hubby enquired what the deal was

‘Have a taco party at work tomorrow. Going down to see what I can make’.

‘Make? Now? Are you crazy? I just cleaned up the stovetop and you want to mess it up again? Why dont you just buy some tacos on the way to work tomorrow?’

‘Really? Thanks. I wont touch the stove…I promise’

Bean and corn salsa is a recipe I got from one of my husband’s colleagues. The first time I had it at her place, I could’nt believe how good it tasted. I just had to have the recipe and she was kind enough to email it to me the very next day. Since then, I usually keep a couple cans of black beans and corn handy. The recipe called for 2 cans of black beans and one can of whole kernal corn. I had the corn, but just one can of black bean.

‘I’ll make do and work with what I have. It is too late to start another conversation with myself.’

With that, I got to work. Pulled out my food processor and the ingredients:

Black beans – 2 cans (I used just one for the lack of supplies)

Whole corn Kernals – 1 can (You can use fresh corn, but it tastes the same)

Red onion – 1 large

Cilantro – 1/2 bunch (about 1/2 cup chopped)

Cherry tomatoes – 2  cups ( I used 2  medium roma tomatoes. Didn’t have cherry tomatoes)

Jalapeno pepper slices – 1/3 cup for Indian spice (I used less than 1/4 cup , considering the American crowd at work)

Key limes – 4-5 nos.

Drain the corn and put it directly into your serving bowl. Add the Black bean as it is. Do not drain it out. Finely chop onions  and add it to the bean-corn mix. Put the jalapenos, cilantro and tomatoes into the food processor and chop them up coarsely. Add this to the bowl. Finally squeeze in at least 4 -5 limes (about 1/4 cup). Mix all this together and the salsa is ready. Extra salt will not be needed since the bean and corn are already salted. Add if required. The flavour of lime may seem overpowering at first, but it softens down after a while. Serve with lime flavoured tortilla chips.  It was a big hit at our potluck today and everone thought it could be called a salsa that was also a salad. 

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