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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April 24, 2007

Yelai Vadam

Filed under: Microwave, RCI, Rice, Snacks and Appetizers, South Indian, Tamilnadu — Hema @ 9:52 am

Yelai is leaf in tamil and vadams are rice crisps. The name is yelai vadam, because they are traditionally made using banana leaves. Basically vadams are like rice dosas that are dried and can be stored for a long time. Every time you feel the need to accessorise your menu or simply munch something, fry them or even microwave them to instantly satisfy your taste-buds. This is my entry for the first RCI – Tamilnadu hosted by LakshmiK at Veggie cuisine.

My amma used to make a huge stock of vadams for the year and she dedicated a couple days in a year to fill up the big box in her pantry. My brother and I always made sure we were around when she made vadams. The best part of the process was eating the freshly steamed vadam right out of the leaf. My mom used to let us eat the vadams that tore out while talking them off the leaf and both of us used to greedily sit there waiting for vadams to tear up.

I always bring these vadams from India, but by the time we reach our destination, they crumble up into tiny pieces during the transit. Though they are almost weightless, they occupy a lot of space in the luggage. Making these vadams is a time consuming process and only half of what you make ends up on the drying plate – the other half consumed as soon as they are made.

Last year we used up the last of our vadam stock and I had put it up on the list of things to be brought from India during our next trip. Then, one day my mother-in-law, who was visiting us, dressed the dining table with these beautiful, white, fried vadams and we were surprised as to how she got them! She had made vadams while we were at work and secretly dried them. What a pleasent surprise it was! So, the next thing on my agenda was to learn how she made them and then make them myself. Here is what I learnt:

Soak 1 cup rice overnight and grind it into a very fine paste. The best way to do it is to soak an extra cup when you grind rice for dosa. Add a little bit of salt (about 1/2 tsp) and keep it covered for 3-4 days. Open the lid and if someone in the living room says ‘where is that sour smell coming from?’ it is enough indication that the batter is ready to be steamed. Without disturbing the liquid inside, carefully pour out the top yellow layer into the drain. Add a pinch of hing, Salt to taste (remember, you have already added some 4 days back!) and 1 1/2 tsp jeera. Also, add a tbsp of sago soaked for about 2 hours. 

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Get 3 stainless steel plates out of your cabinet and rub some ghee on each of them. (the plates we use as lids are perfect). Oh! did I mention, we will be making thattu(plate in tamil) vadams instead? yeah. I can never find banana leaves here and this works just as well. Infact, MIL says she will continue making them in plates when she gets back to India. Ok, to start with, you will need a steaming set-up. Here’s mine.  A pan filled with water to about an inch depth. A circular rim placed in the pan to hold the plates at height and a glass lid that covers the whole pan. Make sure the water is boiling before you start steaming vadams.

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Pour a spoonfull of batter onto plate 1 and with a circular/spiral motion spread out the batter as thin as possible – just as you would make a dosa.

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Place plate-1 in the pan and close the lid. Steam for about 2-3 minutes till the batter is cooked and gets transparent. In the meanwhile spread out some batter onto plate-2. Remove plate-1, place plate-2 in the pan and spread batter on plate-3.

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Let plate-1 stay out for a while to cool down. Use a knife to peel off one edge and using both hands peel the vadam from the plate. Repeat this process with the 3 plates. After 2 -3 cycles you get into the rhythm.

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This is the stage where you make an important decision. You could either pop it into your mouth or place it on a flat surface for drying. I recommend tasting the first one for salt. For drying, I usually spread a thick plastic sheet in my patio and place the vadams as close as possible to accomodate as many as I can. Do not overlap. I do not have an open deck and never get direct sunlight. So, if you are like me, worry not! The vadams do not require direct sunlight or too much heat. Even your dining table or a spare room is fine. make sure it gets some breeze to dry itself up. It may take about 4-5 days to completely dry in such cases. For those of you who have decks/terrace and lots of sunlight, you’ll will be ready to fry them in a day or two! Store the dry vadams in an airtight container.

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They go well with all the rice preparations – pulihorai, tomato rice, mint rice…you get the idea. They taste best when deep fried, but for the health conscious – rub a few drops of oil on the dry vadam and microwave on high for about 30-40 seconds.

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Here’s my fried yalai vadam with celery thokku rice. Celery thokku?….did you ask??? Yeah and that’s coming up next for JFI-Greens!!

March 29, 2007

Bread sticks

Filed under: Basil, Breads, Cheese, Garlic, Snacks and Appetizers — Hema @ 11:04 am

Horrible horrible week. The past week was sick….literally. First the kiddo, then me and then H. The only silver lining was that all of us did not fall sick at the same time. Getting better was no fun either. Disinfecting three whole baskets of laundry and cleaning up the mess we called our home took up another 3 days. I was dragging myself to work in the morning. Getting back home in the evening was worse…just thinking of all the work that lay waiting. If this was not enough, TEAM-INDIA added to our misery*. We played against Sri Lanka and the rest is history that I hope will never be repeated again. It took me quite some time to digest the fact that we did’nt even make it to the top eight teams. Half way through our innings I switched off the TV. What a shame!

What better way to vent out my anger and frustration than cooking?…and thats what I did. Baking, actually. Since my sourdough bread success story, I have been tempted to experiment with various breads and bread sticks seemed to be the simplest to start off with. I had made some a week earlier and they turned out soft and delicious. Here is my second attempt captured for records:

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What you need:

All-purpose flour – 2 1/2 – 3 cups

White unsalted butter – 1/2 stick (4 tablespoon)

Commercial yeast – 2 tsp

sugar – 1 tsp

Salt – about 1 1/2 tsp

Water – as required

Cheese sticks:
Cheddar cheese – 1/2 cup

Garlic sticks:
Garlic – 1 clove
Garlic salt and dried basil to garnish

Combine sugar and yeast in warm water and let rest for about 10 mts till bubbly. Add the flour, salt and butter. The butter should be at room temperature and softned when added. Incorporate the butter into the flour with your hands and then add enough water to get a soft and workable dough but not sticking to your hands while kneading(see tip 1 below). Add extra flour if needed. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes while pushing the dough away from you with your palms. Brush some olive oil on it and let this rise for about 1 1/2 – 2 hrs in a warm place till it doubles in size (tip 2). Punch back the dough and now add your flavourings (tip 3). I made two kinds: cheese and garlic. To half the dough I added shedded cheddar cheese and to the other half minced garlic. Then I shaped them into sticks and garnished the garlic one with garlic salt and dried basil. You can really get creative with the flavors and shapes here. I placed the sticks on baking trays 3-4 inches apart and let the dough rise one last time – about 1 – 1 1/2 hrs (tip 4). This went into a 375 degrees preheated oven for about 25 minutes till the crust is golden brown. Brush some butter on the crust as soon as they come out of the oven (tip 5) and serve with your favourite soup or marinara sauce.

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With the few tips I learnt about bread making from an expert bread-maker, I guess I should send it to Sushma’s Monthly cooking tipology:

1. After the rise, the bread gets softer and hence stickier. So, the dough should not be too soft when you knead it in the first place.

2. If you don’t have a pilot lamp or a light in your oven or a warm corner in your kitchen to help rise your dough, you could place the dough in a small enclosure close to a saucepan with boiling water. This also helps in keeping the crust soft.

3. Some herbs and spices seem to inhibit growth of yeast. Hence, it is best to incorporate the flavors in the bread during the last rise.

4. The more number of times you punch back your bread and let it rise again, the finer will be the pores in your bread. If you want your bread to have big pores, just let the dough rise once and bake.

5. If you want a soft crust, like our bread sticks here, always brush the crust with molten butter as soon as they come out of the oven. If you want the crust to be hard/crisp, like in sourdough bread, skip the butter on the crust.

*CRICKET – the sport. The ICC world cup games are on in West Indies.

February 6, 2007

Aamla (Gooseberries) in brine

Filed under: Gooseberries (Aamla), Snacks and Appetizers — Hema @ 11:11 am

Yesterday, I spotted a bag of frozen aamlas at the Indian store and grabbed it greedily. This was the first time I had laid eyes on amlas in the 5 years that I have lived in the USA. Well, I should say, this was the first time I noticed. Last month when I spoke to amma, she said aamlas were available for Rs.10 a Kg. What I bought was maybe a 200g bag of frozen aamlas for $1.99 (quick and rounded calculation – Rs.100). I could have bought 10 kgs of amla for the same price! 

It has been a while since I did such calculations. New to this country as a student, back in 2001, it was my regular habit to convert dollars to rupees for every purchase and go ‘Rs.2000 for a week’s worth of grocery?’ or ‘Rs.150  for a cup of coffee at starbucks?’. But now, when I  go to India, I do the calculations other way around and feel happy about how much I saved. I still can’t tune my brain to work in miles, faranheit and pounds though. Why the US doesn’t follow the metric system still beats me. The ‘think metric’ photo at  Mythili’s blog really made me smile.

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Anyway, back to aamlas. The best way I like to eat them is by soaking them in brine for a few days, which is what I did right after getting back home. You need a glass bottle with a leakproof lid. Make brine with water and required amount of salt. I would say about a tablespoon for every cup of water. Add some turmeric and drop in the aamlas. Make sure you give the bottle a good shake once in two days. In about 4-5 days they will soak up the salt and swell up with flavour. Enjoy!

January 24, 2007

Banana chaat

Filed under: Banana, Chaat, Fruits and nuts, Snacks and Appetizers — Hema @ 11:10 pm

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Bananas have long been man’s favourite fruit. How long? Well, the picture above says it all! Bananas are a great source of fiber, Vitamin C and potassium. They also contain all the eight amino acids that our body cannot produce itself.  And guess what? There is a whole site dedicated to this wonderful fruit! So, go ahead and check it out.

To be honest, I am not a big fan of bananas. In my defense, I did say man’s favourite fruit – not woman’s! But again, I didn’t want to miss the first fruit at the  AFAM event hosted by Maheshwari. So, here’s one of the few ways I love to eat bananas. This is a quick, easy and a tasty recipe I learnt from my aunt.

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What you need:

Bananas – 2 nos.

Jeera – 1 tbsp

Red chili pwd – 1 tsp

Rock salt – 1/8 tsp or to taste

Lime juice – 1 1/2 tsp

Mint leaves or cilantro for the garnish

Dry roast the jeera (cumin) and dry grind. You could use cumin pwd bought at the store, but the fresh roasted powder is a lot more fragrant. Make sure the bananas used are not very ripe. Cut the bananas into slices. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well making sure not to mash up the bananas. You are done!

The monkey-banana photo source:http://www.thegoldenlink.org

October 29, 2006

Gol Gappa

Filed under: Chaat, Indian, North Indian, Snacks and Appetizers — Hema @ 2:23 pm

Gol gappa if you are in Delhi or Pani poori elsewhere. That’s what it was (previous post). Nothing to do with the diwali treats as many of you guessed. I was trying to make my own pooris. At first, I decided to call amma, who BTW makes amazing pani pooris,  but it was 3 a.m in India and it has been ages since I called amma at that hour (yes, have done this numerous times during my school days). Did’nt want to scare her this time. I found all these recipes online, but was not sure which one would work best. So, I just decided to try all of them and made dough enough for 3-4 pooris for each recipe. Having tried all these recipes, the winner was…..actually none. Most of them did not puff up. If they did, they did’nt stay crisp. I was disappointed and finally had to call 911(U-Know-who). This is what was instructed to me:

Soak 1 cup sooji in water just enough to wet all the grains well. Let it soak up for 10 minutes. Once the grains turn soft, knead the sooji well by rubbing the dough to the vessel with your palm. It turns to a creamy while color. Add 1 cup maida, 2 tbsp atta and 1 tbsp rice pwd and salt. Add enough water to make a stiff dough. Roll into small round bite-sized pooris and deep fry them in medium – low heat for about 7-8 minutes, 3-4 minutes on each side. If none of the poories in the 1st batch puff up, add little more water to the dough and soften it up. Most of my poories puffed up and stayed crisp. Needless to say – I was elated!

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Pani:

Mint leaves – 2 bunches

Cilantro – 1/2 bunch

Green chillies – about 6 (reduce the amount if needed. I like it spicccccy)

Dry ginger powder – 1 tsp

Black pepper powder – 1 tsp

Hing – A pinch

Salt – 1 tsp

Black salt to taste

Cold Water – 4-5 cups

lime juice – 2 tbsp

Grind the leaves and chillis in a blender with water. Strain out and add the dry ingredients. Add about 5 cups of water, salt it up with kala namak / black salt and add lime juice. Taste it and add water or salt as required. Intead of the dry ingredients, you could also add a couple spoons of pani poori masala. Pani should be served cold. Refrigerate before-hand or add ice for immediate use.

Khatta meetha chutney: There are two ways of making this:

Method 1:

Tamarind- 1/4 cup

Jaggery – 1/2 cup

Chilli pwd – 2 tsp (again, reduce heat if you cant take spice)

salt – 1 tsp

black salt – 1 tsp

jeera pwd – 2 tsp

Boil Tamarind and Jaggery in water till the raw smell goes. Add the dry spices and strain it. I like the chutney a little thick. Add more salt or water if needed. I like to make extra chutney and store it in an empty ketchup bottle for later use. This goes well with samosas, puffs, bread rolls, cutlets etc.

Method 2: This is healthier and tastes just as good

Dates – 1/2 cup

Tamarind – 1/2 lime sized ball

Aamchur pwd – 2 tbsp

Chilli pwd – 2 tsp

salt – 1 tsp

black salt – 1 tsp

jeera pwd – 2 tsp

Boil the Dates and tamarind. Add the dry ingredients and strain.

Potato-chickpea filling:

Potatoes – 2

Chickpea soaked and boiled in salted water – 1/4 cup

Cut potatoes to small pieces and boil in salted water till done.  Drain and mix it with the chick-pea. Add salt and chilli pwd to taste.

To assemble: Break the thinner side of the poori with your thumb. Fill 3-4 pieces of the potato mixture. Pour a little khatta-meetha chutney. Dip it into the pani and fill it up to the brim. Put it into your mouth as it is without biting. Enjoy!

So? what is the curd is doing in the photograph? It is an answer to another question. What do we do with the poories that did not puff up? First, we start by changing their name to papdi and then make a quick papdi chat. Dip 5-6 papdis into the pani and arrange it on a plate. On each papdi place some of the potatoes. then pour some salted, churned curd. Drizzle the khatta-meetha chutney on top. Garnish with little chilli pwd, jeera pwd and chopped cilantro (Sorry, no photographs here).

October 26, 2006

Diwali treats Part II

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Mixture: This was the most time consuming. It has 7 parts to it: oomapodi, boondi, maida biscuits, aval, curry leaves, peanuts and seasoning

1. Oomapodi
besan 1 cup
salt to taste
oomam (ajwain) – 1 1/2 tsp
turmeric – 1 pinch
oil for frying
Mix all the ingredients to make a soft dough. Transfer it to the achchhu and fry in batches

2. Boondi:
Besan – 1 cup
salt to taste
chilli pwd – 2 tsp
turmeric – a  pinch
hing – a pinch
Soda-bi-carb – a pinch
Make a batter using water with the above ingredients. You can use a boondi karandi (a big flat ladel with holes) or a plate/colander if you dont have one. th eholes should be about 2-3 mm in diameter. Hold it over the hot oil and pour a spoonful of batter on it. Now spread the batter on the karandi as if making a dosa and the drops that fall down should fry up into nice round boondis. For checking the consistancy, test fry with little batter first. If the boondis turn out pear shaped, then more water needs to be added and if they are too big and stuck together, you may need to add more besan. Trial and error is the way to go

3. Maida biscuit:
I am not sure if it has any other name, but that’s what we call this at our place. This is the best part of mixture in my opinion
Maida – 1 cup
rice pwd – 2 tbsp
salt – to taste
Oil for frying
Make a soft dough with the roti dough consistency and roll it out to the thickness of a thin roti. You do not have to be precise about the shape here. Use a knife or a pizza cutter and cut out diamond shapes. Deep fry the biscuits and make sure they are crisp before removing them from the oil
Deep fry (4) 2 cups of Poha, (5)1/2 cup of curry leaves and (6) 1 cup peanuts. Crumble the oomapodi and add together items 1 through 6.  Heat up 1 tbsp oil. Mix salt, chilli pwd and hing on a plate and pour the hot oil over it. Now, add this to the mixture and season it uniformly.
Thattai: I was not around whan MIL made these, but got the recipe from her.

Rice pwd – 1 cup
Udad pwd – 1 tbsp
Chilli pwd – 2 tsp
Til – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Butter – ¼ cup
Mix the Rice and Udad pwd. Add softened butter and mix it well with you hands till you get a crumbly mix. Add the chilli pwd, til and salt and make a soft dough with water. Heat up the oil for frying and make small flat discs with the dough. The best way to do it is to use a thick plastic sheet or cloth. Deep fry in batches of 5-6 and store in an airtight container.

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Gulab jamun – used the GITS mix

Ribbon pakoda: My achchhu did not have the perfect ribbon making option, so I decided to go with a plain, thin slot.
Besan – 1 cup
Rice pwd – 1 tbsp
turmeric – 1/4 tsp
chilli pwd – 1 tbsp
salt to taste
Oil to fry
Make a dough with all the above ingredients using water. Transfer to achchhu and deep fry

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Thenguzhal:
Rice Flour – 1 cup
Udad flour – 1/2 cup
Jeera – 2 tsp
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Hing – 1/4 tsp
Oil for frying
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Heat up the ghee and add it to the flour and mix it up with your hands. Add enough water to make a soft dough. The consistancy: should be tight enough to retain a depression made with your fingers and soft enough to let the dough pass easily through the achchhu (I will post a picture for those of you who do not know what it is – its like a pasta press). Transfer the dought the achchhu. Heat up oil and fry up the thenguzhal in batches till done.

Gajar Halwa:
Carnation condensed milk (or any other brand) – 1 can
Carrots – 1 lb 
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Cardamom pwd – 1 tsp
Almonds, raisins, cashews – 2 tbsp each or according to taste
Grate the carrots using a medium sized grater. In a pressure cooker (or any thick bottomed skillet), add a tablespoon of ghee or butter. Put in the condensed milk and grated carrots. And stir it till all the water content evaporates. This may take about an hour. Keep stirring it so that it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom. Once done, heat up some ghee in a small pan. Add sliced almonds, raisins and halved cashews. Fry them for a bit till the raisins puff up and the nuts turn a little brown. Put it into the halva. Add cardamom pwd to the halva and stir it up well. Though I have never tried, my guess is this should work well in a microwave as well. It will take a lot less time. Just make sure you use a big glass container

and, last but not the least! My latest creation for my little one for Diwali….

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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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September 21, 2006

Khaman

GUJARAT. The place. The beauty. The people. The language. The festivals. The food. What can I say? I can never get enough of it. I spent most of my growing years in Ahmedabad and Baroda. This place has a rustic charm that you learn to love. The simplicity, straightforwardness and hospitality of the people you learn to respect. The language in its various forms is beautiful. The colors of the festivals especially garba during Navratri is enchanting and the food….oh I am lost for words now. A lot of people from other places do not like the sweet that goes into every food item that is prepared, but the taste grows on you slowly and it stays. In fact a lot of times, preparations do not taste as good without a little bit of the sweet ingredient – Sugar!

Khaman, is one of my favourite Guju preparations – more commonly and wrongly called dhokla in other parts of the nation. Dhokla is very different from khaman and I will blog about it some other time. But for now, here is an easy khaman recipe that I hope you will all make and enjoy. I got this recipe from Tarla dalal’s site and modified it a little bit.

Besan (Chickpea flour)        1 cup

Rava (Sooji)                      1 1/2 tbsp

Citric acid crystals               1/2 tsp

Ginger, chilli paste               1 tbsp

Salt                                   1 tsp

Sugar                                2 1/2 tsp

Baking soda                       1 1/4 tsp

For the garnish

Oil                                     1 1/2 tbsp

Mustard seeds (rai)             2 tsp

Hing                                  a pinch

Green chillies                       2-3 nos

Coriander leaves (cilantro)     2-3 tbsp

Grated coconut (optional)     2 tsp

Seasme seeds (til) (optional) 1 tsp

Water                                  1 cup

Mix all the ingredients except the baking soda. Add about 3/4 cup of water. I usually grind about a tsp of ginger and 1 chilli in 3/4 cup of water since I never buy ginger-chilli paste. The batter should be about the consistancy of dosa batter. Add little more water if required. There are two ways of preparing the khaman, steaming or microwaving. Microwaving is easier but khaman tends to become too dry and rubbery if you keep it out long (2-3 hrs). I would recommend microwaving only if you want to eat it up as soon as you prepare it.

Steaming: Apply some oil to a deep, flat bottomed stainless steel vessel (like a cake pan) that fits into your pressure cooker. Pour some water into the cooker and let it boil up. Once the water boils, add the baking soda to the batter and whip it up. It should froth up. Pour it into the prepared vessel to half the height (about 3/4 inch). Remember, the batter is going to rise up further and it needs some space. If you think the amount of batter is too much for your vessel’s capacity, just do it in batches and make sure you add the baking soda just before steaming each batch. Place it into the cooker at an elevated level making sure no water gets into it from the sides. Close the cooker and let it steam for about 10 minutes. Do not put the weight on the cooker. (This is done just like idlis).

Microwaving: Use a plastic/glass container that has a flat bottom and apply oil it. Add the baking soda to the batter and half-fill the container. Microwave for 4 minutes.

After steaming/microwaving, do the needle test and make sure it comes out clean. Let the khaman cool down and then transfer it to a plate and cut it into large squares. The original recipe by tarla dalal called for 1 1/2 tsp of eno fruit salt instead of salt and soda. Again, if you use eno, add it right before steaming or microwaving.If you have microwaved it, sprinkle some water on the khaman. For the garnish, heat up some oil and add mustard seeds. After they splutter, add hing and chillies and then pour it over the prepared khaman. Decorate with cilantro, coconut and til and you are done.

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September 13, 2006

Idlis – The easy way out!

Filed under: Rice Flour, Snacks and Appetizers, South Indian, Udad flour — Hema @ 12:09 pm

I am a working mom and there are days when I get back from work just to start another 8 hour shift. There will be more than a few of you who can relate to my schedule. Apart from weekends, I usually indulge in short-cuts to cook up a supper that is both nutritious and easy to put together. Hailing from the south, we usually had either idli or dosai batter at home on any given day and my mom, who was a working mom herself, found it convenient to get a stock of batter ready for the week lest her kids should come home from school rubbing their tummies. I am sure all of you would agree with me that the best batter is delivered by the wet grinder. I was devoid of this precious commodity until last year when my in-laws gifted me one. Before then, I made idlis the ‘no-grinding’ way. Though, it was not the perfect idli, it was very close and definitely better and economical than the ready to make idli mixes. The ingredients are available at any indian store.

Rice pwd                1 cup

Udad pwd               1 cup

Idli rava                  1 cup

Fast rising yeast      1 1/2 tsp

salt to taste

Just mix these ingredients in warm water to the idli batter consistancy. Place it in the oven or any warm place overnight to rise and thats that! Its that easy. Though I dont make Idlis this way any more since i have graduated and have been awarded the ultra grinder, I thought this recipe could be useful to some of you who are yet to graduate.

Updated: 09/27

One of my friends complained that the idli she made using this recipe smelt of yeast, though the taste and texture was just perfect. I would recommend reducing the amount of yeast to about 1/2 tsp in that case. Varieties differ and some yeast may just be more active than the others!

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