Thursday, November 17, 2016

Basil Pesto with Pecans and Jalapenos

Sick of the news coverage? Afraid that this is going to be our lives for the next four years? An ugly reality TV show that will never end? Maybe this is a good time for us to turn off the idiot box and spend more time in the kitchen and outdoors and perhaps improve our health.

If you are curious, I am not completely torn up about the elections because the status quo was not working and everybody needed a jolt. But I had visions of mobs chasing us from our homes. All of us probably have to step out of our comfort zones and stop thinking that our views are superior to everybody else's. Didn't someone say "In a democracy we get the government we deserve"? So it is our fate to be part of the reality TV show for the next four years or God forbid more!! I have standing bet in my house that the reality TV star is going to resign in 1 or 2 years. Let's see. Kidding aside let's hope for all of our sakes saner heads will prevail and everybody will behave like adults.

Let's move on to some pleasant things like growing Basil and making your own pesto. Basil plants are easy to grow in pots. They are perfectly happy near a sunny window. DD2 decided to grow a few basil plants. Sitting outside during the summer they produced an amazing amount of leaves. Basil Pesto was what came to my mind. If you bring the plants inside you are sure to get some more leaves for a couple more months at least.

I also had some home grown jalapeno on hand which worked beautifully in this recipe. If you don't want the heat leave the peppers out.

The basil pesto can be added to pasta, noodles or even dumplings.

Wash basil leaves and take them in a blender along with the jalapeno and add the pecans.
Blend to a smooth paste along with some olive oil.

Basil Pesto with Pecans and Jalapenos
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
  1. 3 cups Basil loosely packed washed and patted dry
  2. 5-6 Jalapenos de-seeded and roughly chopped
  3. 3/4 cup pecans
  4. 1/2 cup olive oil
  5. salt to taste
  6. Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup (optional, I did not add any)

  1. Take the basil leaves, chopped jalapeno peppers, the pecans, salt and the olive oil in a blender.
  2. Add in the Parmesan cheese if using.
  3. Blend to a smooth paste. Remove to a container. Add some more olive oil on top to avoid discoloration.
  4. Cook the pasta as per the cooking directions. Add in the basil pesto and mix it in, add a bit more olive oil and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Multigrain flour and Moongdal Murukku - Multigrain savory crackers

Anytime I come across multigrain anything I tend to buy it and give it a try. This time it was multigrain flour gluten free. I bought it for the purposes of making rotis. But using gluten free flour to make rotis requires lots of patience. No gluten means there is nothing to hold it together to make a shape out of it by rolling. You might be far more successful patting them into round shapes. On the other hand, the rotis made with this flour is very tasty.

So we had to find other ways of using it. They make excellent dosai by themselves or mixed with a tiny bit of regular dosai batter. I make roits by using half multigrain flour and the other half regular chapathi flour. They are easy to roll this way. When it came time to make some Deepavali snack I wanted to give this multigrain murukku a try. They did not disappoint. I also added some roasted moongdal flour along with the multigrain flour.

Combine together rice, multigrain and moongdal flour and whisk them together. Add chili powder, salt, asfoetida.
Add cumin seeds and sesame seeds and mix them in. Start sprinkling water and making the dough.
Continue sprinkling just enough water to bring together to form a stiff dough.
In a wide mouthed pan or kadai heat the oil for deep frying. Use the murukku maker to make the murukku shape on the back of a laddle or on a small plate.
Drop the presses murukku into the oil. Initially there will be a lot of bubbles which will slowly start to subside when the murukku is cooked completely. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Multigrain flour and Moongdal Murukku
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hours
  1. 2 cups rice flour
  2. 1 cup multigrain flour
  3. 1 cup moongdal flour
  4. 1/2 tbsp chili powder (or to taste)
  5. 1/4 tsp asfoetida
  6. salt to taste
  7. 1 tsp sesame seeds
  8. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  9. 1 tbsp butter melted
  10. Oil for deep frying

  1. Whisk together the rice flour, multigrain flour and moongdal flour. Add in the butter, chili powder, asfoetida and salt and mix together with sesame seeds and cumin seeds.
  2. Sprinkle water a little at a time and bring the dough together till it smooth. Do not add too much water.
  3. In a wide mouthed pan or kadai heat oil.
  4. Take the dough in the murukku press and press out the shapes.
  5. Keep the heat in medium once the oil has reached the required temperature. To check if the oil has reached the desired temperature add a tiny bit of dough and see if it comes to the top and bubbling.
  6. Keep the dough covered by a wet towel so it does not dry out.
  7. Once the oil is hot add in the pressed murukku and let it cook. Initially there will be a lot of bubbles which will slowly die down and the murukku will change color to golden brown.
  8. Remove the cooked murukku with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  9. Repeat the process till all the dough is done.
  10. Note:If the dough is too wet it will absorb too much oil. If there is too little it will be hard to press and the murukku won't hold its shape. I had the dough slightly stiff so it was not easy to make shapes but worked for our us.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Gongura Chicken with Bell Pepper

Gardening like everything else is an addiction. Once you have experienced the pleasure of growing something the heady feeling is something you can't let go. I have never heard of Gongura till about 10 years ago and then my neighbor who had it growing and offered me some and I was hooked. So this summer I attempted to grow them. Un-fussy and easy to grow with production all summer long if you harvest them the right way to encourage leaf growth.

While the usual staples have been to make chutney - which is by far our favorite, I have used it in sambhar or dal. I have also added them to Gongura Egg curry like you would mint or coriander leaves. With an abundance of fresh Gongura leaves wanted to give something different a go and tried this Gongura chicken which was very tasty.

Wash, cut into bite sizes cubes and clean the chicken and marinate in some yogurt and salt. Chop the vegetables and keep ready.
Saute the ingredients for the masala, cool and blend to a smooth paste.
Heat a thick bottomed pan and heat oil and add the seasonings. Add in the onions and saute till they start to slightly turn brown. Add the tomatoes and saute till it gets mushy.
Add in the chicken and saute till it starts to get a little pink. Add in the bell pepper and saute for a minute or two.
Add in the blended paste, chili powder and about 1 cup of water. Let it cook on medium heat till the gravy thickens.

Depending on the amount of gravy required reduce or increase the amount of water added.

Gongura Chicken with Bell Pepper
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
  1. 1 1/2 lb chicken (I used thighs with bones cut into bite sized pieces)
  2. 1/2 cup of finely minced onion
  3. 1 cup of finely chopped tomatoes
  4. 2 cups (or more) of bell pepper cut into bite sized pieces
  5. 1 Potato sliced (optional, I did not add it
  6. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder
  7. salt to taste
  8. 2 tsp oil
  9. seasonings: curry leaves, cumin seeds and fennel seeds - 1/4 tsp each, few cloves, small stick of cinnamon
  10. 3 tsp turmeric powder
  11. For Masala Paste
  12. 3/4 cup of onion chopped
  13. 3-4 garlic cloves
  14. 1 inch of ginger
  15. about 2 handful Gongura leaves
  16. about 1 handful coriander leaves
  17. 1 tbsp of grated fresh or frozen coconut
  18. 3-6 green chilies (as per taste)

  1. Marinate the washed and cut chicken in yogurt and salt.
  2. To prepare the masala paste heat a saute pan with oil and add the onions and saute till the onions becomes translucent. Add the garlic,green chilies and ginger and saute for a minute more.
  3. Add the gongura and coriander leaves and saute till they wilt.
  4. Add in the coconut and saute for a minute.
  5. Transfer to a blender and blend to a paste and set aside.
  6. In a wide mouthed pan add oil and add the seasonings followed by the onions and saute till they start to brown.
  7. Add in the tomatoes and saute till they become mushy.
  8. Add in the chicken and saute till they start to get pink. Add in the bell pepper and saute for a minute more.
  9. Add in the blended paste, chili powder along with a cup of water and salt and cook for another 10-12 minutes or till the gravy thickens and the chicken is fully cooked.

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