Monday, July 30, 2007

Blueberry Ice cream

DD has been asking to go to the Berry picking farm for quiet some time now. We had gone to pick Strawberries summer before last, this year the stawberry season was over even before we realized it. I have been having ice creams on my mind after the mouth watering displays on blogs recenttly and ofcourse DD has been pestering for some too. On my visit Lancaster Dutch Market for my weekly grocery items I also grabbed 2 Pints of Heavy Cream (that was a lot of cream that has now become ice cream). All that remained was a to decide on a fruit. I was craving for some Roasted Banana Ice cream but where are those over ripe bananas when you want them most.

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We gave in to DDs pestering a had decided on visiting the Farm to pick Blueberries well I had my ice cream reason too, be ready for the addiction that comes over you when you start picking the berries, we were 5 of us with addiction and we picked enough to last a year or more. We had ride in a tractor to reach the Blueberry orchard and the kids absolutely loved ite. The rows and rows of blueberry bushes was simply amazing. They also had Blackberries and rasberries but since we had more than enough berries we skiped that. Now that I had the fruit for the ice cream things progressed quickly . We had no patience to wait till the ice cream had completely set, so we all had our share of bowl fulls of slightly watery ice cream and realized once again that nothing compares to the taste of home made ice cream. May be an investment in an ice cream maker is not a bad idea. Followed the tips from a recipe I found on this website.

Recipe Source: Mary Ellen's Blueberry Ice cream

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1. 6 Cups Blueberries
2. 1 1/2 Cups Sugar (of which 1/2 a cup was Raw Sugar)
3. 1 Cup Milk
4. 4 Cups Heavy Cream


1. In a sauce pan combine the sugar and Blueberries and bring it to a boil mashing the blueberries with the back of the spoon and set aside to cool. Took me about 15 minutes.

2. When cooled to room temperature puree in a blener till smooth and combine the cup of milk.

3.Now add the cream and run it in the blender to combine.

Pour into a plastic container and leave it in the freezer. After about 2 hours get the mixture and run it through the blender again. It was 11.00PM by then so left it to freeze overnight and blended it again in the morning.

By afternoon it had not completely set but we could not wait any longer for a taste. It tasted slightly sorbetish but still very very good. Gorgeour color too. My friend came for a chat with my mother and I offered her some. She said that it was the best ice cream she had tasted in a long time. Needeless to say I was overjoyed.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pavakkai Kuzhambu

Cooking 101
DD's school has an auction every year as a fundraiser. Families contribute items, whatever they deem buyable which are then auctioned off on Auction Day. Couple of parents in DDs class who are Vegetarians suggested I offer Indian Cooking 101 as an auction item. According to them Indian Cuisine offers a wide variety of dishes for Vegetarians compared to any other which I agree to without any arguments. I auctioned 2 classes at $20 a piece. They were 2 people who bought the tickets and another Parent who wanted to join too. We fixed on a day to do the class, the kids had a play date while the moms learned to cook. We made Channa Masala, Palak Paneer and Chapatis. But having to take care of the kids while trying to cook was not a bright idea and in the end though my students(?!) were happy with the dishes we cooked I was tired at the end of it and having to clean up after that was not fun either.

The second class was the more challenging one, this family was purely Vegetarian and moving towards being Vegans. They were also into auyurvedic cooking and trying to cook with those principles in mind. She wanted to learn to cook dishes without any onion and garlic and without chilli peppers because she was allergic to them and also to make it palatable for the kids though her husband liked to eat spicy food. I have never cooked without onions and garlic atleast not consciously anyway and without any chilli peppers was another story altogether. She picked a few dishes that she would like to learm - Chickpeas and Spinach. She was a very attentive student taking copious notes. We made Channa Masala without onion and garlic and I was surprised to find that it tasted great without the ingredients that I am so used to adding that I hardly even think about them. I did add some red chili powder for the portion we were going to eat. It was gone before I could take any pictures but I want to try it again soon. Now on to the recipe...

The bitter gourd plants are starting to bear fruit. So it is atleast one bitter gourd dish a week. I cannot but contrast the fresh tasting ones with the limp sad looking ones that we usually get in the grocery stores.

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Pavakkai Kuzhambu
1. 4-5 Bitter Gourds Cut into about 1" rounds. Once cut remove the seeds
2. 1/4 Red Onion chopped
3. 1 Tomato chopped
4. 4 Garlic Pods chopped
5. seasonings: mustard, methi seeds and Curry leaves
6. 1/4 Cup tamarind juice
7. 2 tsp jaggery (adjust to taste)

For the Paste
1. 2 tbsp Corriander Seeds
2. 1 tsp Cumin seeds
3. 1/2 tsp Pepper
4. 3 Red Chilies
5. 12 Pearl onions
6. 2 Tbsp roasted Moong Dal (or 2 tbsp grated Coconut)

In a pan heat 1/2 tsp of oil and roast 1-4, to this add the onions and when they are translucent add the moong dal and give it a swirl. Blend this to a smooth paste with a little bit of water.

1. In a pan heat a 1/2 tsp oil and saute the bitter gourd pieces and set aside.
2. Add another 1/2 tsp of oil and when hot add the seasonings.
3. Add the onions and saute till translucent
4. Add the garlic followed by the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are soft.
5. Now add the bitter gourd pieces and the ground masala and about 1/2 cup of water and let it cook till the bitter gourd is soft.
6. Now add the tamarind juice, sugar and salt and cook till desired consistency is reached.

Serve with Rice and Dal.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Guess and Kathrikkai Kuzhambu

Well the city is Toronto. Tee got it right. Do you live in Toronto? If so have you eaten at Anjappar Chettinad restaurant. The food was excellent and much like home cooked food. We had Kathrikkai Kuzhambu and this is my attempt at recreating it. Toronto residents chime in if you have been to this restaurant and what you think of it. Kay?

Can you guess which city this is ?

One more picture to help!

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Kathrikkai Kuzhambu inspired by a visit to a restaurant in this city. My dear neighbor shared her bounty of eggplants with me (it is great to have such good loving neighbors don't you think). These were the long green variety and also the first time I have cooked with them. I have usually cooked and seen only the long purple variety. The dish works best with small purple brinjals. DD is away in New York with my camera so had to make do with the cell phone camera. Not that I take excellent pictures even with the digital camera but the looks should not take away from the taste of the Kuzhambu. It tasted really good.

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Kathirikkai Kuzhambu
1. 3 long Green Brinjals sliced in 2 inches rounds OR 8-10 Small Purple brinjals slit
2. 1 Medium Red Onion Chopped fine.
3. 3 Medium sized juicy tomatoes
4. 1 tbsp Canned chopped tomatoes for a bright red color
5. 3 Green Chillies slit
6. 1/2 tbsp corriander powder
7. 1 tsp cumin powder
8. 1/2 tbsp red chilli powder
9. 3 tbsp tamarind juice from a cherry tomato sized tamrind ball
10. Seasonings: Curry leaves, cumin, mustard seeds, 2 tsp whole pepper corns.
11. 1 tsp oil
12. 1 tsp jaggery (optional)

1. Heat oil add the cumin, pepper corns, curry leaves and mustard and when the mustard seeds starts to pop.
2. Add the onions and saute till translucent, add the powders and mix well.
3. Now add the tomatoes and saute till they are mushy
4. In a a separate pan heat a teeny weeny bit of oil and saute the brinjals(this step is required especially if the using the small whole brinjals)
5. Now add the brinjals and cover them with the tomatoes.
6. Add the tamarind juice and salt and the jaggery, jaggery brings out the sour taste of the tamarind really well. If needed a 1/4 cup of water.
7. Cover and cook till the brinjals are soft

Serve with rice and pappad.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Niagara Falls and Indians / Cantaloupe Juice

Yes! I am talking about the Asian kind though the American kind has a lot to do with the place too. I cannot exactly put my finger on this affinity of Indians for the Niagara Falls, though I should know I have visited this place 4 times already. Maybe the Legend of Lelawala has something to do with it. Here is my mother's reasoning "only if you come from a place where drought is usually only one rainfall away will you appreciate the true magnificance of Niagara Falls" I have no arguement with that kind of wisdom. Every parent who visits their son or daughter in the US never goes back home without paying homage to the Niagara Falls. My mom and DH's aunt absoultely loved the waterfalls, contrast this with folks who have grown up with Niagara Falls practically in their backyard and have never visited the Falls. Why is the pull so irresistible for the Indians?

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From my first visit to the most recent one the Indian Crowd has steadily increased so much so that every second face that I saw was Indian, we even ran into an Tamil actor and his son who I hear is also an up and coming actor. During our first visit we had to drive through half the town to find an Indian restaurant and now I counted atleast 5 of them within 5 minute driving distance from the Niagara Falls State Park. There was one practically on the doorstep of the State Park. After a full day of walking around admiring the falls and being drenched both by the rain and the falls we were starved so we walked into the closest one. A glance at the Buffet and by the looks of it my taste buds were not tingling but I saw rotis and paranthas flying off the grills so we orderd some with kadhi pakode and some pickle on the side it turned out to be a good choice.

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If you want to be really close to the water the American Side has the best views and tours, the one called Wind in the Caves should let you really really close to the falls. For a Panoramic view of the Falls the view from the Canadian side works best.

Cantaloupe Juice

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For the hot muggy days some refreshing Cantaloupe Juice. Remove the outer skin, cut in small piece blend and enjoy. Refreshingly Coooool.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pound Cake with Whole Wheat Flour

Nature Deficit Disorder
Not so long ago the biggest worry Parents had over the summer was to keep kids from getting too much sun on their heads. Summer was for lazing in the sun exploring the interesting things around the house and looking in nook and cranies or if you were like most kids the exploration happened at your grandparents house where all semblance of rules or regulations were thrown to the wind. Meals times were for special foods that you craved for. Bolt! Clap! Thunder.... Well I was day dreaming there for a while or maybe it was the sound from DDs computer game. What parents worry about today is that kids these days are having less and less of unstructured time. No spontaneous games or role playing so much so that kids left in the playground to play by themselves or not able to do so, they need rules and regulations. Well I won't go on and on, this topic is HOT as it is.

What as parents can we do keep to bring this deficit down? My favorite season to work on it is during the summer. There is no excuse of bad weather to keep cooped indoors in front of the many electronic equipments we can't live without. Though DD suggested the idea of summer camp, I begged my mother to come and stay with us for the summer so DDs can have a relaxing, carefree time without worrying about too many planned activities. What this has done to their time is,

They wake up at their own covenience, eat a slow breakfast, take long walks, catch some butterflies, with a fish net they fished from the basement, figure out if the butterfly will survive if it is kept in a closed box and should the holes for them to breathe be big or small. This amazingly keeps them occupied for hours together which no video game has the power to do. Rarely have I heard the the oh so familiar whine "I am bored". Eat a relaxing lunch, laze around in the afternoon and then some bicycling in the evening followed by catching lightning bugs as the sun goes down, do some research about the creatures living under rocks, though all of the activities do not happen on the same day it keeps them occupied for most of the day. Being outdoors so much makes them notice things, I was delighted when I heard DD analyze the different colors of purple found in nature, as luck would have it purple is her favorite color and even if I buy flower bulbs of differnt colors and shades they are the only ones that bloom and recently she happened to see a brinjal flower. But this fun is different then the ones we had, we roamed around the whole village just stepping into the house during meal times.

A crow cawing on a bright sunny morning and usually happens when I am driving out to work, brings on a longing for those summer days of my childhood in my grandparents' house and a guilt that DDs don't get to have that experience of swimming in the rivers, swimming in wells, fishing in the ponds, climbing on mango trees and being bitten by ants. Sometimes the trees we climbed on and the wells we jumped into belonged to people who did not want us there and we got chased by these angry people with a stick in hand which was a game in itself. I have no recollection of ever being caught by these angry people though.

With my mom here, DH's aunt visiting us for this week and DD's friend here during the day we have a full house and it is such a joy and this is what I miss the most about India the PEOPLE.

I was listening to the Diane Rehm show on WAMU when I heard author Richard Louv talk about his book Last Child in the Woods and it struck a chord but that was a long time ago but what brought about this bout of introspection was the news of Lady Bird Johnson and reading and about her tireless work for conservation and love of wild flowers.

Some Veggie Flower Pictures

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Pound Cake
If you are still interested in the Pound Cake here is the recipe. I tried it with Whole Wheat Flour and used Maple Syrup for half of the sugar. But for the slighty rougher texture I like this cake better than the one with the all purpose flour. The Maple Syrup gave the cake a lovely aroma, next time around probably add 1 Cup of Maple Syrup and only about 1/4 Cup Sugar.

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1. 2 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Pasry Flour
2. 2 Sticks of Butter (8 oz)
3. 4 Eggs
4. 3/4 Cup Sugar
5. 3/4 Cup Maple Syrup
6. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
7. 2 Tbsp slight Coarse powdered Almonds

1. Butter a Cake pan on the sides and heat the oven to 350F
Using an electric beater
2.Beat the Eggs so this increases in volume by a third
3. In a separate bowl,beat the butter and add in the sugar
4. Start adding the flour a little by little and when it starts to get dry start adding the eggs in between the flour additions
5. Add the Maple Syrup and Vanilla
6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
7.Bake in the preheated oven for 40 miunutes or till a fork inserted comes out clean.

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Serve with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

I will catch you all next week. Enjoy your Summer.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Paniyaram and Thakkali Kuzhambu (Spicy Tomato Curry)

The Next best breakfast in the world

I had blogged about the Breakfast that DD considers the Best in the whole world and there is another one that came close. With kids when they like something only superlatives are used to describe them. Though Paniyarams are really easy to make, every time they are presented at breakfast it is considered special. A simple dish elevated to special status. Paniyarams and Coconut chutney go hand in hand but I did not have enough coconut so I suggested we make Tomato chutney but my mom recommended Thakkali Kuzhambu, this is a speciality in my ammayi's house and they taste great with Dosais. The Kuzhambu taste equally fantastic with Paniyarams and if I were to judge the taste by how fast DD devored them.

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1. 2 Large Juicy tomatoes(chop the tomatoes bigger if you like to bite into them or fine if they should blended into the kuzhambu)
2. 1/4 Red onion chopped (or 15 Pearl onions sliced)
3. Seasonings: Curry leaves, mustard seeds
4. Corriander Leaves few sprigs

To Blend

1. 2 Tbsp Corriander Seeds
2. 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
3. 2 Red Chillies
4. 2 Tsp Channa Dal (Bengal Gram Dal)
5. 1 Tbsp Coconut
6. 1/4 Cup Red Onions Chopped (or small red onions)

1. Heat 1/2 tsp of oil and fry 1-4 one by one, setting them aside as they are done
2. Add the Onions and saute till they start to turn brown.
3. Add the coconut and mix with the onions

Transfer to a blender and blend to a smooth paste

1. In a Kadai take about a tsp of oil and when it is hot add the seasonings,
mustard seeds followed by the curry leaves.
2. Add the onions and saute till translucent
3. Add in the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes
4. Add the blended paste and about 1 cup of water
5. Let the mixture boil till it reaches the consistency you desire.
6. Add salt and corriander leaves and switch off the heat after a minute.

I like it a little watery to eat with dosais or paniyarams.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Bell Pepper Stir Fry

Visiting Farmers Market is always a pleasure and the eggplants and the bell peppers are what attractive me with their vibrant color. I wish we had a Farmer's Market close to home or atleast in our town. We have to travel to our neighboring towns or my favorite the Dupont Circle Farmers Market is a plan ahead 1/2 day visit. On my recent trip to the Farmers Market I picked up a few Bell Peppers Red and Green. The smell of fresh Bell Peppers is amazing, the ones at the grocery stores by comparision are like plastic no smell whatsoever.

This is a simple stir fry which brings out the fresh cruchy taste of the Bell Peppers.

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1. 3-4 Medium Sized Bell Peppers (seeds and stems removed) and cut into long strips
2. 1/2 tsp oil
3. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

To Powder
1. 1 tsp Cumin
2. ½ tsp Pepper Corns
3. 2 Red Chillies deseeded
4. 1 Tbsp Peanuts
5. 1 tsp salt (or as required)

Powder all the above wtth 3-4 peanuts to a fine powder.

The rest of the peanuts should be ground coarsely.

1. In a pan heat oil, add mustard seeds when they start to pop add the bell peppers and saute till they are ¾ cooked.
2. Add the masala powder and mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes
3. When you are ready to remove from the heat add the coarsely ground peanut powder.

Serve with any rice dish.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Paal Poori

Like I have confessed I very rarely deep fry stuff but that does not mean the house members don't crave for them. DD begs to go to Indian restaurants,so she can have her beloved pooris and Tamarind Chutney(sauce). Love of pooris does not stop with her, everybody else in the house loves it too. Come 4th of July it is time for barbecuing and fireworks but a small glitch, fireworks are illegal in our county and we were not in a mood for barbecue, so the next best thing is to deep fry in the patio.

What better breakfast than Poori and Potato Masaal on a holiday morning? Just before the sun became too hot we had our share of Poori Masaal. The next best thing after a satisfying meal Poori Masaal is to make Paal Poori with the left over Pooris for an evening snack or dinner.

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1. 2 Cups Wheat Flour
2. 1 tsp Salt (or to taste)
3. 2 tbsp of Rava (Cream of Wheat)
4. Water

5. 2 Cups Milk
6. Sugar
7. 10-12 Pooris

1. In a Wide mouth vessel add the Wheat flour, salt and cream of wheat, add water to this mixture and make a stiff dough, knead as you add the water. There should not be any extra moisture just enough to knead the dough, too much moisture makes the poori absorb a lot of oil. Cover and keep till ready to use.
2. Make small balls aobut 1/2 inch in diameter with the dough and roll them out into small rounds, I use the Wrap Master to press the dough (convenient when we are cooking in the patio)
3. Heat Oil about 1 1/2 cups
4. Add the rolled out dough and press lightly on top to make them puff up. Remove from the oil when they turn slightly brown.
5. Drain on paper towels.

1. Warm up the milk, add sugar and mix well.
2. Soak the pooris in the milk

Serve with a dash of sugar on top. You can get creative with the topping, add coconut and brown sugar.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower) with Wadis

John Grisham as we all know usually writes thrillers with lawyers, but his latest book "The Innocent Man" is also about lawyers and Court room drama but this time he is not writing fiction but a real story about what happened in a small rural town in Middle America. I read the book in one sitting not because it was that interesting but because it was scary. To imagine in America, where the law is built with so many safeguards and checks and balances it was almost like childs play for an overzealous prosecutor and a few cops to send innocent people to death row. What has this got to to do with Aloo Gobi? Well ...

Doesn't Aloo Gobi and Rotis make a terrific combination? Since my first Wadi dish, Wadis have also become a favorite, hence adding Wadis to Cauliflower and Potatoes happened sooner than later! The dish turned out be lot tastier than I had expected. Added jaggery because the dish was a little spicy, and the jaggery made the dish tangy with a slight sweet taste.

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1. 4-5 Wadis crushed
2. 10 Baby Potatoes cut in four
3. 1 Cauliflower
4. 1/2 Red Onion Chopped
5. 2 Tomatoes chopped
6. 3 garlic cloves chopped
7. ¼ inch ginger grated
8. 1/4 Cup Tamarind pulp
9. 1/2 tbsp Corriander powder
10. 1 tsp Cumin powder
11. 1/2 tbsp chilli powder or Sambhar Powder
12. 1 Tbsp Jaggery
13. Oil

1. In a pan heat oil, add the Wadis and fry till they turn brown and
2. Add the onions and saute till they are translucent
3. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a few more minutes
4. Add the tomatoes and saute for a few more minutes
5. Add all the powders and mix well
6. Add the Potatoes and saute for a minute or two.
7. Add a tbsp of the tamarind pulp and cook for a few minutes, keep adding the tamarind pulp little by little as the potatoes dry out.
8. When the potatoes are 1/2 cooked add the cauliflower and the rest of the tamrind pulp, and a half cup of water and salt.
9. Cover and cook till the cauliflower and potatoes are cooked through.
10. Remove the lid add the sugar and saute till all the liquid has evaporated.

Serve with rotis.