Monday, March 31, 2008

Simple Lunches - 11 Potatoes with Spinach and Masala Chapathi

What is the difference between chapatis and parathas? Have had this question in minds for a while now. It was probably while in college when I first tasted a paratha. This is a doubt well justified don't you think? Here is my take on them, the plain ones are usually called chapatis, ones stuffed with something, potatoes as in potato paratha or mixed into the dough like beetroot or pumpkin are called parathas and a bit more oil is used for them. I chose to call the masala ones masala chapatis because it was cooked the same way as chapati but masala paratha works too. Enlighten me if there is a different way to differentiate these two.

I usually have some frozen store bought masala parathas - with some rice yogurt and pickles they make for a quick meal. The store bought ones have crushed coriander and cumin seeds I did not add them. The basic recipe is from here.

Before we move on to the recipe here is a Quiz
Whose quote was this and about what?
"I thought it would be tough. I didn't think it would be this tough."


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masala chapati, spinach potatoes and yogurt with some strawberries


Potatoes with Spinach
1. 8-10 small potatoes boiled and skin peeled and cut into cubes
2. 3 Cups Fresh Spinach leaves washed and chopped roughly
3. 4 garlic cloves crushed
4. 1 tsp cumin seeds
5. 2 -3 tsp sambhar powder
6. 1 tsp turmeric powder
7. 2 tsp oil

Method
1. Heat oil in a pan and season with mustard seeds, add
2. the garlic and fry till soft add
3. the spinach leaves and cook till they are wilted
4. add the potatoes and the turmeric and the sambhar powder and mix well.
5. Continue to saute till the potates are well coated.


Masala Chapati
1. 2 Cups Wheat Flour
2. 1/2 tbsp chili powder
3. 2 tsp cumin powder
4. 1/2 tsp chicken masala powder (garam masala powder)
5. salt to taste
6. 2 tsp oil
7. 1 tbsp curd

Mix the powders and yogurt into the whole wheat flour and knead into a dough, set it aside for an hour or so

Method
1. Make small balls with the dough and roll them out into the desired thickness and fry them on a heated griddle with a light cooking spray if required.


Novel Reading:The Pig Did It By Joseph Caldwell

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Couscous with Black Eyed Peas and grilled Tomatoes for Arusuvai

The Arusuvai Friendship Chain has stretched a long distance this time from the West coast to East Coast. Dear Sig from Live To Eat offered this warm hard of friendship which landed in the Northern Hemisphere through Latha of Masala Magic . Sig mailed me four ingredients, one of which smelled amazing but I had no clue what it was, for two of them I was in the ballpark and the last one had the name on the box.

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I absolutely love the beautiful scent that emanates from Epazote it. It truly was the mystery ingredient and just the right one given my love for and the profusion of beany dishes that come out of my kitchen. I am still thinking of a perfect bean dish ;). Kombu and Chile Salt - Chile infused salt with pieces of bell pepper, were the other two for which again I am dreaming up reicpes. The Moroccon Spice Rub I put to use immediately. Thanks much Sig I am absolutely having fun with these ingredients.

The moroccon Spice Rub smells amazing while it is cooking, I used it for the couscous and the grilled tomatoes

Coucous with Black Eyed Peas

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1. 1 Cup Couscous + water as per direction
2. 1/4 Medium size red onion sliced lengthwise and chopped in half
3. 2 garlic cloves crushed
4. 1/2 a tomato finely chopped
5. 2 -3 tsp Moroccon spice rub
6. salt to taste
7. 3/4 Cup frozen Black Eyed Peas rinsed out
8. 1 tsp oil + 1 tsp ghee or butter

Grilled Tomatoes
1. 20 -25 Cheery tomatoes split in two
2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a bit of the Moroccon spice rub
3. Set it broil for about 8-10 minutes till soft.

Method
1. Set a sauce pan of water seasoned with salt to boil and add the black eyed peas and cook till soft.
2. I another sauce pan heat a combination of oil and ghee(butter) and when hot add
3. garlic and onion and cook till soft, add the tomatoes and cook till it is really soft
4. Add the moroccon spice rub and mix well
5. Add the water half a cup more than what is in the directions (mine said 1 1/4 so I added about 2 cups of water) check for salt and seasoning and when boiling
6. add the couscous, mix in the water, turn of the heat
7. Let stand covered for about 5 minutes

Serve with the grilled tomatoes on top.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Blog Header

If you are looking at my new arty blog header and wondering if I turned artistic overnight you are heading down the wrong road :)

Dear Sandeepa, over at Bong Mom's Cookbook was kind enough to make me one. It came as a surprise in my mailbox this morning and made my day. Thanks Sandeepa.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Potato Peas Kurma

Did you have a good Holi celebration? My bus friend was a little sad that Holi celebration is just not the same here as it back home, though we do not celebrate Holi I do understand how she feels. Holi is not that popular a celebration around my parts in TamilNadu. It symbolifies the start of spring and the rejuvenation it brings with it. Though the calendar shows that it is spring the weather outside is saying quiet another story. The days are getting longer, trees are budding and the flowers are blooming, Spring in the air for sure.

Spring break has given a few days of relaxed mornings where there is no rush to get ready and rush off. Ofcourse there is always the weekends to sleep in and eat breakfast late. Potato Peas Kurma is perfect for breakfast for just such days a hearty side that can be served with dosai, idli or chapatis.


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Ingredients
1. 6 Small Potatoes or 2 Medium sized potatoes cleaned and cut into 1" cubes
2. 1 Cup of Green Peas
3. 1/2 Onion or 4 shallots chopped fine
4. seasonings: cumin, fennel seeds and curry leaves
5. Salt to taste

For the Paste
1. handful small onions
2. 2 tbsp grated coconut
3. 2 tsp poppy seeds soaked in a tbsp of water
4. 2 Red Chilies or green chilies
5. 1/2 cup coriander leaves
6. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
7. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Saute the onions and when slightly brown add the coriander leaves and set aside. Next saute the coriander, cumin and red chilies, towards the end add the coconut and saute. Cool transfer to blender along with the soaked poppy seeds and blend to a paste.


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Whole Wheat Dosai with Potato Peas Kurma


Method
1. In a pressure cooker, heat oil add the seasonings and when brown
2. saute the onions when translucent add
3. the potatoes and peas and saute for a minute or two
4. add the blended paste and about 3 cups of water, check for salt
5. Cover the lid and cook for one whistle.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tacos de Huevos - Tacos with Eggs and Sweet Potatoes with Tomato Salsa

Eggs and Kids make a happy pair, so any recipe that uses eggs alwasy piques my interest. Of late we have taken a liking to Sweet Potatoes especially the roasted one with just a bit of seasoning. So a recipe which uses Sweet Potatoes and Eggs have to be given a try. The recipe is from the Food Section of this week's Washington Post. This is a perfect brunch or a lunch dish. As for the family absence of rice is a major cause for celebration. There is no comparision to home made fresh tasting Salsa.


Recipe Source: Tacos de Huevos

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Pickled Onions


Pickled Onions
1. 3/4 Red Onion sliced thin
2. Kosher Salt
3. 1 tsp of crushed cumin
4. Water
5. 1 tbsp of distilled white Vinegar + Apple Cider Vinegar
6. Pepper
7. Coriander leaves (I did not use them)

Method
1. In a sauce pan heat about 2 cups of water. When it comes to a boil
2. add the salt and the sliced onions
3. add the Vinegar and let it boil for about 5-8 minutes and
4. Drain the onions and rinse with cold water
5. Toss with the cumin and pepper



Salsa and Tacos de Huevos


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Assembled Taco with egg and sweet potato slices


Ingredients
1. 2 Sweet Potatoes washed and sliced and tossed with a bit of seasoning ( I used sambhar powder and salt) and spread them out on a baking sheet sprayed with oil
2. 4 Eggs
3. 4 Whole Wheat Tortillas
4. Shredded Asiago Cheese (optional)
5. Salt and Pepper
6. Pickled Onions


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Salsa


Salsa
1. 1 1/2 Cups Cherry tomatoes
2. 2 Jalapenos slit and the seeds and stems removed
3. 5 cloves of garlic
4. 4 heads of shallots peeled and cut in half
Spread the Veggies on baking sheet with just a spray of oil
5. Salt

Method
1. Broil the Veggies, the salsa veggies on the top rack and the Sweet Potatoes on the rack below for about 15 -20 minutes till the tomatoes, shallots and peppers are blackened on top.
2. Transfer the salsa ingredients to a food processor with some salt and blend leaving them slightly chunky
3. Heat a skillet and heat a tortilla, transfer to a serving plate.
4. Heat a second skillet, brush with a bit of oil or butter and break an egg, leave the egg yolk undisturbed or can be broken (as per preferance), season with salt and pepper, cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes till desired texture.
5. Place the egg on the tortilla.
6. Spread few of the roasted sweet potatoes, top with the salsa, pickled onions.
7. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese and finely chopped coriander if using.




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Sprinkled with Shredded Cheese



Enjoy folded like a taco or a rolled like a burrito

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Quick Meal - Spicy Brinjal and Bean Rice

It is good to have a few one pot quick meals in your repertoire if you are pressed for time but would still like a good wholesome meal. Dinner times are tricky because there is numerous things to take care of in the evening and there is only so much time at your disposal. It does not have to be the same old meal all the time, fancy rice dishes are possible, steaming hot and ready when you get home exhausted. Hanging around the soccer field or the swimming pool for the various activities to end is not exactly fun when your mind is busy wondering what to whip up for dinner when you get home. The electric Rice Cooker is a life saver in these situtations. Do the sauteing ahead of time and when ready transfer the contents with rice and water over to the electric cooker. Quick fluffy hot meal is ready when you get back. I used Seeraga Samba rice and love the unique taste and texture. The rice was even more tastier the day after packed in my lunch box.


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Spicy Brinjal Kidney Bean Rice
Ingredients

1. 5-6 Small Purple Brinjals
2. 3/4 Cup of soaked Kidney Beans (any bean will work)
3. 1 Cup Seeraga Samba Rice (Basmati Rice)
4. 1/2 Onion Sliced thin lengthwise
5. 1 tbsp tomato paste
6. 4-5 garlic cloves chopped fine
7. 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
8. few mint leaves and a fist full of coriander leaves (methi leaves if available)
9. seasonings - cumin, curry leaves and fennel seeds
10. 1 tbsp yougurt
11. 1 tbsp of spice powder of choice (Linda, sambhar powder could be used :)
12. oil + ghee as per requirement

Spice Powder
1. 3 Red Chilies
2. 2 tsp coriander seeds
3. 1 tsp cumin seeds
4. a few methi seeds
5. a few peppercorns
Dry roast the above and powder using a spice blender

Method
1. In a pan heat a bit of oil and bit of ghee and when hot add the seasonings - cumin, curry leaves and fennel seeds
2.add the onion and fry till translucent, add the garlic and ginger and fry a bit more
3. add the mint and coriander leaves and saute till the leaves wilt
4. add the cut brinjal and saute till it changes color slightly
5. add the soaked bean and mix
6. add the tomato paste and mix thoroughly, add the yogurt and the spiced powder, salt and mix it well

Switch off the heat and when ready add required amount of water and the rice, check for salt.
7. Transfer the contents over to Electric Cooker.

Now you are free to leave the house for a spin or to take care of other business. When you get back hot and aromatic brinjal bean rice is ready to be served with a Raita of choice.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sunny Side Up on a Dosai

Sunny Breakfast Joy
"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day", no one has any arguments with that statement. The arguments come in when we decide what to eat for breakfast. There is only so many possibilities with limited time on a weekday. Some breakfasts take up very little time and is loved by all and there is nary a protest. A small quantity of dosai batter, eggs and a cup of fruit - a well balanced breakfast that might even put a smile or two on the face. The egg on the dosai is cooked sunny side up, the gooey yellow serves as the dip. No Chutney or sambhar required. It was a favorite when I was a kid, a bulls eye and toasted bread was a favorite Sunday breakfast in college and it has become a kids favorite now, no surprises there.

This is a welcome break from the sugary breakfast cereals they seem to prefer. Cereal is limited to once a week and so other appealing and well liked breakfasts are always welcome.

Eggs On a Roll a timely article in the Health Section of the Washington Post.



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Ingredients
1. 1 Cup of Dosai batter (or even pancake batter works)
2. 1 Egg
3. Black Pepper and Salt for seasoning - No sambhar powder here :)


Method
1. Heat a dosai pan ( a griddle)
2. Pour a laddle of batter and spread in a circular motion to form a dosai (crepe)
3. Break an egg on top (keep the yellow intact)
4. Cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes (the time depends on how hard you want the yellow)
5. Sprinkle salt and black pepper powder on top.

Serve with a bowl of fresh fruit for a well Balanced Breakfast.

This goes to Mansi at Fun and Food - WBB#20 Balanced Breakfast Meals

Update: Srivalli over at Cooking 4 all Seasons is having a Dosai Mela and this is going over there. Thanks Srivalli, Dosai is one thing I cannot survive without, it helps in a pinch and it satisfies many a cravings and makes you feel right at home.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kongu Foods 3 - Coconut (opputtu)

If pulses and cereals are the mainstay in a Kongu meal, coconut is a very important supporting member. Coconut makes it appearance once a day in either breakfast, lunch or dinner if not all of them. It would be very rare and probably traumatic ;) for a Kongu family to be too far away from a coconut source if not a tree or two in their own backyard.


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Coconut is the most important of the palms in the tropics and the kernel of the fruit, finds a whole range of uses in cooking besides being used to extract oil. Every part of the coconut tree finds use in one form or the other and hence occupies a very important place in not only the life of a Kongu but people in almost all of South India. The coconut meat is considered high in fat content but of the kind that is easily digestible and utilized by the body. The oil resembles butter in physical and chemical properties and is high in saturated fats hence medical opinion is against cooking with coconut oil, Kongus are not known to cook with coconut oil. The protein content in coconut is high providing all of the amino acids and providing essential minerals like potassium, magnesium and sulphur. Coconut has been used for generations in cooking so the recent scare about its health benefits may well be unfounded, provided one leads an active life. Kongus never lead a sedentary life being busy from dawn to dusk in the farm or fields and energy was very important to sustain an active life.

One of the sought after drinks after the strenuous fun in the sun activities during the summer time was the tender coconut water and the kernels. No ice cream or smoothie can be that refreshing! The tender coconut water is considered a perfect for children because of all the minerals and nutrients it provides.

Rightly called Kalpa vrisksha or Kalpa tharu coconut rightly gets its due by occupying a prominent place place in any auspicious event in a Kongu home. Important activities always include breaking a coconut to bring good luck and prosperity.

In the village coconut trees provide natural air conditioning along with mind soothing symphonies when they sway elegantly forming a lovely silhouette against the skyline. For me a home can never be too far from a coconut tree.

Coconut in everyday food of a Kongu

During breakfast coconut make its appearance often as coconut chutney the delicious side for any popular breakfast dish like idli, dosai, paniyaram or upma.

Sweet Coconut milk with appam or sandhavi for special breakfast occasions. And my favorite Paal Curry Kuzhambu a spicy side made with coconut milk.

Traditional Kongu Lunch has sambhar or paruppu, rasam and poriyal. Poriyal or stir fry is almost always seasoned with grated fresh coconut. Araicha Kozhambus (curries with blend of chilies, corriander and onion) include addition of coconut milk in the end to add a sweet and rich taste. Some dishes include addition of grated coconut in the spice paste for the special taste like the Kongus very own Thatta Payar Kozhambu.

Dinner time most commonly includes one of the several tasty thugayals with rasam and appalam. Most Thugayals require addition of fresh grated coconut like this common paruppu thugayal or this milaguthakkali chutney.

Desserts cannot be far behind in the use of coconuts with tasty delicacies made using them like thengai barfi, opputtu and paasi paruppu payasam. Any festive occasion at my grandparents house included making of opputtu, flour covered sweet filling known by the common name puran poli. Coconut is roasted in ghee mixed with jaggery and seasoned with cardamom powder. The flour covering was made with maida (all purpose flour), kneaded into a dough, made into balls, placed on a well oiled banana leaf, patted flat with the tips of the fingers, the filling placed in the middle, the edges pulled over and covered and then patted flat out again. This chapathi is then roasted in ghee. I took the whole wheat flour route because it is easy to roll out, I also saw Bee's post last week on Puran Poli and I knew I was on track.


Opputtu (Coconut jaggery filling)
Make 6-7 Opputtus
Ingredients
1. 1 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat flour (chapati flour)
2. 2 tsp of ghee
3. 1 cup warm milk

Make a soft pliable dough

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Sweet Filling
1. 1 Cup grated fresh coconut
2. 4 tbsp jaggery (or to taste)
3. 1 tsp cardamom powder
4. 1 tbsp ghee

Method
1. Heat the ghee in a pan and add the coconut and saute. The heat should be just below medium
2. Add the jaggery and cardamom powder and continue to saute till the moisture is gone and the coconut flakes sort of separate
3. Cool and make small lemon sized balls

4.Take a small ball of dough and roll out into circles of about 4". Place the coconut ball inside, pinch the edges on top, and roll it out again. (for those familiar with making aloo parathas or any stuffed parathas this should be a breeze)

5. Heat a tava, brush oil and place one rolled out opputtu, add ghee along the edges and fry on both sides

Serve Warm. This dish serves as a heart warming reminder of kongu hospitality and warmth.


In this series
Kongu Foods 1 - Cereals
Kongu Foods 2 - Pulses

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Simple Lunches - 10 Beetroot leaves Paruppu (dal)

We had our health checkups a couple of weeks ago at the office which usually means a flurry of diet and exercise consciousness brought on by the news of high cholesterol. Some blame it on the shrimp they ate a couple of days and take the news in stride, a few others try to make changes to their diet. One was going on a meatless diet and being fond of Indian food asked me the recipe for lentils - Ameri speak for dal. I gave him the standard onion, garlic, green chilies with seasoning of mustard and cumin but he informed me yesterday that he liked the dal a whole lot better with ginger in it. I rarely ever add ginger to dal or sambhar.

I am consumed with guilt if I buy beets and end up throwing away the green parts because they don't look too good after sitting in the fridge for quiet some time. These days I plan(!) the purchase of beets much better. The greens acutally are quiet versatile and fit into a lot of dishes. The quickest surest way to use them ofcourse is in dal. The dal serves as a perfect partner for my favorite sunday meal,
chapatis with aloo gobi. This menu make its appearance once in two weeks or so.


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Ingredients
1. Bunch of beet greens washed and chopped fine, the soft stem part can be used also
2. 1/4 Cup of Toor Dal washed
3. 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
4. 1 tsp of sambhar powder
5. seasonings: cumin, mustard, curry leaves, asfoetida, few pepper corns
6. Salt

Method
1. Pressure cook the greens and dal with about 1 cup of water, turmeric powder and few drops of sesame oil, cool, mix and mash slightly
2. In a another pan heat a little bit of oil, add the seasonings and when they start to turn color and the mustard pops
3. Pour over the dal and cook for a minute or two, add a bit of ghee on top.

Perfect side for chapatis alongside Aloo Gobi.

Puttu Maker
A new easy to use puttu maker caught my eyes in the stores during the India visit. Looked similar to a idli pan and could be used in the pressure cooker. The tumblers had holes on the bottom for easy steaming :)

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Eggplant, Zucchini and Broccoli Lasagna

Love at first sight happens only with a very few things ,it happened with Lasagna I first tasted at a catered lunch at work one day. The silky smooth eggplant flavored with tomatoes and garlic mingled with the taste of pasta appealing even to my tongue used to spicy hot food. Recreating this dish at home has been long time pending.

Making the sauce adds a bit of time to the whole process but well worth the effort for the fresh taste. The amount of cheese added can be controlled so the final product does not look oily and unappealing.

The vegetables were grilled with a just a bit of seasoning. If you are regular reader of this column you would immediately understand that talk of seasoning would definitely involve using sambhar powder :) Baked/broiled the veggies, Zucchini and Eggplant after slicing them thin and slightly seasoning with sambhar powder.

Recipe Consulted: One Hot Stove - Roasted Squash Onion Lasagna


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Ingredients
1. 1 Round White Eggplant Slice and sprinkle with salt and let them rest
2. 1 Zucchini sliced
3. 1 small head of broccoli big thicker stems removed and boiled in slightly salted water, remove and lightly pull them apart
4. 4 Roma tomatoes
5. 1 tbsp of tomato paste
6. 5 cloves of garlic chopped fine
7. 3/4 cup of pepper jack cheese + 1 tbsp of shredded cheddar cheese
8. 8 - sheets of no boil Lasagna pasta


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Vegetable Layer



Method
Tomato Sauce
1. Heat a sauce pan with water, add the whole tomatoes and boil for a few minutes,
cool remove the skin and crush them and set aside. (Preserve the water in which they were boiled to add to the sauce if required)
2. In a pan heat a tsp of oil and when hot add the garlic and saute till soft (careful to not let them burn)
3.Now add the crushed tomatoes and about 1/4 cup of preserved water
4. Add salt (just a bit, lots of salt comes from the cheese), black pepper and red chili pepper and let boil till desired consistency of sauce is reached no too thick slightly pouring consistency about 10-15 minutes. Set Aside


Grilling Veggies
1. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray, spread the veggies, sprinkle the seasoning and bake/ broil till soft.



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Ready for the oven


Lasagna Assembly
1. Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray and pour some sauce on the bottom.
2. Now layer the pasta (dip the pasta in water before layering) add a layer of veggies, pour some sauce.
3. Layer with cheese, repeat, finish with pasta and some sauce and shredded cheese on top.
Cover lid with foil.
4. Preheat oven to 350F and bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and cook for another 10 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.



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Hot from the oven


Well worth the time and effort. Serve hot.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Chicken Fry

This is a recipe that has been perfected after a quiet bit of trial and error. Either I am lazy and make a 2 in 1 dish and the fry ends up as a gravy, good to be eaten with rice or chapatis but it is not a fry for sure. For best results use chicken thighs as opposed to the breast, breast meat is usually tougher and more fibrous.


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Ingredients
1. 1 1/2 boneless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
2. 1 Cup of Onions sliced and then chopped (preferably combination of shallots and onions)
3. seasoning: Curry leaves, mustard seeds and cumin
4. 1 tbsp tomato paste
5. 2 tsp oil

For the Paste
1. 6-8 garlic cloves
2. 1 inch piece of ginger
3. 2 tsp coriander seeds
4. a few pepper corns
5. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
6. 2 red chilies
7. 1 tbsp grated coconut

Saute the above in a bit of oil and saute 3-6 and when they change color and give a nice aroma, remove from the heat, add the garlic and ginger and saute for a few minutes and finally saute the coconut. Cool and blend to a paste

Marinate
1. Marinate the chicken with salt, 1 tsp of red chili powder, lemon juice for atleast 1/2 hour


Method
1. Heat a wok, heat oil and add the curry leaves, cumin seeds and mustard seeds,
2. when the mustard pops add the onion and saute and just as they start to get translucent
3. add the chicken pieces and saute, this usually lets some moisture, let it cook till the water is mostly gone and the chicken is cooked
4. add the blended paste, salt and saute for a few minutes till all the chicken pieces get coated well.
5. Now add the tomate paste and keep frying till the oil starts to separate and the chicken does not stick to the pan.

Perfect as a side dish.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Chicken Biryani II with Seeraga Samba

When does a simple lunch become a special Lunch? when there is Biryani on the menu ofcourse.




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Seeraga Samba Rice






Back home Biryanis, Pulavs, flavored rice were all cooked with table rice or seeraga samba rice a tiny grain that grows to thrice its size when cooked. Biryani cooked with seeraga samba according to me taste way better than that cooked with Basmati rice. Chicken Biryani with Thayir Pachadi, heaven on a plate on a sunday afternoon :)






Ingredients
1. 1 lb Chicken preferably with bones cut into pieces
2. 1 1/2 Raw Seeraga Samba rice clenaed and soaked for atleast 1/2 hour (Rice:Water 1: 2 1/2)
3. 1 Cup Green Peas
4. 1 1/2 Medium Red Onion sliced thin
5. 10 garlic cloves and 2 inch piece of ginger chopped fine in a food processor
6. 2 Red tomatoes chopped fine
7. 6 Green chilies split
8. Whole Spices - bay leaf, star anise, 3-4 cloves a small piece of cinnamon, fennel seeds and curry leaves
9. 1/2 Cup Mint leaves
10. 1/2 Cup coriander leaves
11. 1 tsp chicken masala powder (optional)
12. 1 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
13. 2 tsp oil + 1 tsp ghee

Method
1. Heat oil + ghee in a pressure cooker and when hot add all the whole spices and when they turn color add the green chilies saute for a minute
1a. If not using pressure cooker set the rice to cook in a separate pot and let it cook about 3/4 and set a heavy bottomed pan and follow step 1
2. Add the onions and saute till translucent.
3. Add the garlic ginger and saute till raw smell goes
4. Add the powders if using follwed by the mint and coriander leaves and saute till they wilt
5. Now add the chicken, salt and saute for about 3-4 minutes
6. Add the chopped tomatoes and saute and let everything cool till the tomato turns mushy.
7. Add the peas followed by the rice and mix well with the spices (proceed to step 7b if using cooked rice)
8. Now add the required amount of water and let it come to a boil, now set the heat to just below medium and wait for the rice to cook to about 3/4th of the way, mix add a dab of ghee
9.Close the lid and put the weight on and cook for about 8 minutes and switch off the heat

7b. Alternately if using the cooked rice, add the peas saute till for 3-4 minutes then the rice, add it to the pot mix well, add a dab of ghee on top and set in a preheated 350F oven and cook for 10 minutes, take out mix and cook for 5 more minutes and remove from oven.

Serve with raita of choice.


Biryani recipes
Chicken Biryani with Basmati
Shrimp Biryani


Samba Rice on FoodistaSamba Rice

Novel Reading:
In Cold Pursuit - Sarah Andrews
One of the best mystery books in recent times.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Baked French Fries (Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes)

What is it with French Fries especially those that come from the Golden Arch? I confess I am not immune to them either. DD came with straight A's on her report card last week and we offered to take her for a treat but did not explicitly say she could choose a place to go eat. It never occured to me that she'd choose something over a place to go eat :( She wanted to go buy a game for her Game Boy which was turned down by her dad (she has way too many and too little time). It goes without saying that her first choice for eating out was McD. The French Fries from there are truly addictivedipping them in Spicy Mustard sauce and Ketchup. We don't eat there often usually once a month is the limit set for DD and DD2.


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Spray Painting!


I offered to help DD's teacher with some spray painting for a project they were doing for their Artist in Residence program. Well I did not realize how hard that could me for someone who is not very artistic and has never used spray paints before. I had bitten more than I can chew, being cold outside I decided to do it indooors - bad idea, the whole house smelled of toxic fumes so had to carry the whole setup to the garage and do it there and then spend about an hour cleaning up the mess inside the house. Phew... "Alls well that Ends Well" to quote Shakespeare so when everything was finished a celebration was called for, so we decided to bake some French Fries. The kids jumped on the idea and generally made themselves helpful!! The Kids gave the final results a thumbs up! Seasoned with just salt and some sambhar powder, even French Fries can become a healthy snack :)

For crispier fries, broil first on one side flip and broil on the other. I got tired of the "is it done yet" and did not broil on both sides.

Ingredients
1. 2 Russet Potatoes
2. 1 Sweet Potato
3. 2 tsp sambhar powder
4. Salt to taste
5. 1/2 - 1 Tbsp of Canola oil (optional)


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Method
1. Peel and Cut the potatoes to strips of the size desired
2. Toss the potatoes in the oil (this step can be left out if no oil is used)
3. Line a baking sheet and spray with a cooking spray
4. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer and spray a bit more cooking spray on them (if not tossed in oil)
5. Bake in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes
6. Remove and sprinkle the seasoning and broil for about 5 minutes more.

Enjoy with some ketchup or mustard sauce.