May 28, 2010

Spring Salad

This is a simple salad with simple ingredients yet bursts with flavor. I used whatever ingredients I had on hand and dressed it up with some balsamic vinaigrette. Makes a great accompaniment to any cuisine or meal. The unique ingredient in this salad is the grapenut cereal. I got this idea from the cereal carton. It makes a great salad topping because it gives a crunch to the salad and also a nutty flavor and it is nutritious as well.

Raisins/Dried Cranberries
Grapenut cereal - 1 tablespoon
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Prepare all the ingredients. Dice the tomatoes, avocado and cucumber. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients and add the vinaigrette and toss well.

Serve chilled.

May 26, 2010

Layered Mexican Dip

This is an easy party appetizer and can be made in a matter of minutes. Tastes great when served with any type of chips. I served this along with some tortilla chips. This recipe is semi-homemade since I used mostly storebought ingredients and just assembled them before serving. Looks beautiful and colorful when served in a glass bowl.

Ingredients (Makes several servings)

Refried beans / Any cooked and mashed beans - 1 cup
Sour cream - 2 tablespoon
Shredded cheese (any variety) - 2 spoons
Salsa - 2 tablespoons
Avocado - 1 deseeded and diced
Tomato - 1 medium sized ripe one
Olives - a few sliced
Lemon Juice - 1 spoon
Salt to taste

Prepare all the above ingredients. If you are cooking your own beans make sure it is cooked really well, add salt and mash it into a smooth paste. If using canned refried beans, microwave the beans for a minute and mash it well.

In a glass bowl, take the bean and spread the cheese over it. Microwave for a few seconds until the cheese melts. Top it off with the sour cream, salsa, diced avocado, tomatoes and olives. Season with salt and drizzle with lemon juice.

Serve immediately. Assemble the dip only before serving because the avocado tends to oxidize soon and change color. This is a very forgiving recipe, you can add more or less of any of the ingredients according to your tastes.

Serve with chips.

Sending this to 20 - 20 event hosted by Niloufer

May 24, 2010

Idly - A typical South Indian Breakfast

I was browsing through the recipes in my blog and found that I had very less South Indian breakfast recipes! Hailing from South India, Idlies are a staple at every home. Idlies reserved their position in the breakfast menu atleast once a week. The only big chore is preparing the batter and the rest is a breeze. You have breakfast ready in minutes - just pour the batter in moulds and steam it. The batter could be used in the following days to make dosas after a little more fermentation. These idlies also found its place in lunch boxes occasionally with spiced powder.

Every South Indian makes sure during their first trip to the US that they bring the grinder along with them. It is available in the US these days though. I however prepare my batter in the mixer in the largest jar and it equally turns of great. The key to making idlies is the fermentation process, which results soft, fluffy idlies.

Now onto the recipe...

Par Boiled rice/ Idly Rice - 3 cups
Urad dal (Skinned black gram/lentils) - 1 cup
Cooked rice/ Poha - 2 tablespoons (optional)
Fenugreek seeds - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

The parboiled rice and the urad dal should be used in the 3:1 ratio. You could double the quantity for more batter.

Soak the urad dal and rice seperately along with the fenugreek seeds for atleast 4 to 5 hours.

Strain the water and grind the rice, fenugreek seeds, cooked rice together and the urad dhal separately to a smooth consistency adding water if needed. Add very little water while grinding the urad dhal.

Combine everything together along with the required amount of salt and with your hands incorporate the batter well. it is very important to use your hands for mixing the batter as it is believed that the body heat aids in better fermentation of the batter.

Allow the batter to ferment overnight or at least for 12 hours. The batter rises well. So pour batter in a vessel only 3/4 the height of the vessel. It might overflow otherwise.

Tips for fermenting the batter during cold weather:
Preheat the oven to about 150F and then switch it off. the oven should be slightly warm by this time. Place the batter inside the oven overnight and the slight heat helps the fermentation process. I usually place a plate below the vessel containing the batter just in case the batter overflows and spoils the oven. Reduces the cleaning process!

To make the idlies:
Equipment needed
Pressure cooker
Idly moulds

Grease the idly moulds with little ghee/oil or non-stick cooking spray (PAM) and pour a ladle of batter in each mould. The batter rise a little. So take care to not pour too much of batter.

Take a little water in the pressure cooker about half an inch. Place the idly mould in the cooker and steam for about 15 minutes without the weights. Allow it to sit for five minutes and remove the idlies with a spoon. You can check if the idlies are done using a toothpick . The idlies are done if an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Serve warm with any accompaniment of your choice. Goes well with any variety of chutnies, sambar, thakkali kuzhambu or the humble spice powder!

Sending this to MLLA: 23rd helping hosted by Susan.

May 20, 2010

Idiyappam/ Sevai / Rice Noodles

Idiyappam is a south-indian breakfast. It takes a while to prepare this using the idiyappam press and requires some energy to make this ;) This is one of the authentic methods to prepare Idiyappam. Rice flour is prepared and dried and then made into a dough which is then steamed.

However nowadays, it is generally prepared using a press which is easier to squeeze out the flour and also using ready-made rice flour, or ready-made idiyappam.

I used store bought rice flour to prepare this idiyappam. This idiyappam tastes great with any type of stew and also with grated coconut and sugar :)

Rice flour - 2 cups
Warm water
Salt - 1 teaspoon

  • Add the salt to the flour and mix well.
  • Slowly add the warm water and knead to make a smooth dough.
  • Grease the idly plates for steaming. Take some dough in the idiyappam press and slowly squeze little by little on the idly plates.
  • Steam for about 7 to 8 minutes.
Serve warm with some grated coconut or sugar.
Makes a light and delicious breakfast.

Some other variations using the idiyappam/rice noodles in my blog
Ragi idiyapaam/sevai
Tomato sevai

May 18, 2010

Global Kadai Roundup

Burritos and wraps are easy to make with any sort of filling and they are so handy and convenient. They are versatile and can be filled with practically any filling. Here is the roundup of the Global Kadai event, which is an event started by Cilantro wherein you make an indianized version of the global recipe chosen for the month. Burritos/wraps was the theme chosen for last month. Thanks to all my fellow bloggers who came in with wonderful versions of burritos.

Cilantro - Chicken Burrito
Muskaan - Veg Baja Gordita

Muskaan - Easy Veggie Wrap
Muskaan - Mediteraanean Vegetable Wraps

Madhavi - Paneer Potato Frankie
Denny - Mushroom masala burrito

Usha Rao - Egg Roll
Kanchan - Egg wrap/Frankie

Sonal Agarwal - Paneer Tikka Wraps
Az - Chicken Wrap/Roll

Priya - Soya Chunks and Potato Masala Wraps
Simply Food - Bean burritos with an indianized touch

Jyoti - Chilli Paneer Wraps
Priya - Capsicum and Tofu Zunka Wraps

Kalai - Bean Enchiladas
Premalatha Aravindhan - Bean Burritos

Nisha - Beef Burritos with refried beans and Indian spices
LK -Paneer Burrito with Mango-Avocado Guacamole
Sonal Agarwal - Rajma wraps

PS - Basic Bean and Rice Burrito
Priya Srinivasan - Homemade Tortilla veggie Wraps

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal - Indian Flavored Burrito
Roopam Garg - Paneer and spinach wrap

Niloufer Riyaz - Reshmi Paneer Tortilla Wrap
Niloufer Riyaz - Tandoori Chicken tortilla Wrap

Divya Vikram - Bottlegourd Wraps
Sanyukhta Gour - Stuffed Moong dal Burrito

May 14, 2010

Rasmalai for Indian Cooking Challenge

I was excited to hear about April's Indian Cooking Challenge at the same time I was afraid to try Rasamalai for the first time. I have always enjoyed rasagulla and rasamalai and have never even thought of making it from scratch at home. I have seen various versions using ricotta cheese but this time I decided to make it from scratch. For the first time I made paneer at home. It was so delightful and satisfying to make your own paneer. Gives the same feeling when I bake my own bread :)
This recipe is adapted from Lavi's recipe. Thanks Valli for the challenge.

Milk - 3 litres or 3/4 gallon( 2 litres for making paneer and 1 litre for making Rasa/Milk syrup)
Vinegar/Lime juice- 3 tablespoons
Water-5 cups
Sugar- 16 tablespoons( 8 for Sugar Syrup and 8 for Rasa/Milk Syrup)
Saffron- 8 pieces
Pistachios-10 finely chopped
All Purpose Flour/Maida - 1 teaspoon
Cardamon-2 (crushed)

Preparation of rasamalai takes place in the following steps:
Check out the first step of preparation of paneer here.
Once the paneer is ready, add the maida/allpurpose flour and knead the paneer thoroughly. Make small sized balls. Once the balls get cooked in the sugar syrup they almost double in size. So try making small balls. 2 litres of milk should give 14 to 15 balls.

Preparation of sugar syrup
In a pressure-cooker, add three cups of water and eight tablespoons of sugar and bring it to a boil. Slowly, add the paneer ball's one by one to the sugar syrup. If the paneer is kneaded well, it should not break at this point. Pressure cook for 10 minutes in low flame or for about 2 whistles.
Once the pressure and steam is released, open the cooker. The paneer balls should have doubled in size. Slightly press each ball with a back of spoon to take out the excess sugar syrup.

Preparation of rasa/milk syrup for rasamalai
When the sugar syrup gets done, start making the milk syrup side by side. In a heavy bottomed vessel, bring one liter of milk to a boil and on medium flame allow it to reduce to half the volume. Add 8 tablespoons of sugar, cardamom powder and saffron strands and mix well.

Add the cooked paneer balls slowly to this milk mixture and cook on low flame for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow it cool.
Refrigerate and serve with crushed pistachios on top.

May 12, 2010

Bulgur Khichdi

I am always looking for recipes with whole grains. This is a simple, quick and easy breakfast recipe made with bulgur/dahlia. I usually make a simple upma with bulgur, but this time I decided to make a khichdi using some lentils. Next time I am planning to try the recipe by adding some vegetables. This gets done in less than 15 minutes and tastes great on its own or along with some chutney.
Ingredients (Makes 2 servings)
Bulgur/Dahlia/Broken wheat - 1 cup
Split yellow gram (Yellow moong dal) - 1/2 cup (soaked in water for atleast 5-10 minutes)
Oil - 1 teaspoon
Mustard - 1/2 teaspoon
Urad dal - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - few
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Green chilly - 1 slit lengthwise
Ginger-garlic paste - 1/4 teaspoon
Onion - 1/4 cup chopped
Green peas - 1/4 cup

In a saucepan, heat the oil and do the tempering with mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves and asafoeida. Add the ginger-garlic paste ad green chillies and fry for a minute. Add the chopped onions and saute till translucent.

Add the soaked yellow moong dal and the green peas and saute for a minute. Add 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Add the bulgur and cover and cook for 2 minutes on a medium flame.

Remove from heat, mix well and serve warm. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve with chutney..

Sending this to Twenty-20 event..

May 10, 2010

Homemade Paneer

This is the first time I made paneer at home. I have always used store bought paneer for my paneer dishes. I had some milk leftover and I had to finish it soon before the expiry date. I ventured making paneer and I found that it is so easy to make paneer and I will never return to the store bought ones again. It needs no special skills to make paneer. I got a block of soft and tender paneer from half a gallon of whole milk. I plan to try it with reduced fat milk sometime again.
Paneer can be used in make a variety of delicious curries, parathas and several Indian sweets.

Whole milk - 1/2 gallon or 2 litres
Vinegar/lemon juice - 2 tablespoon

In a heavy bottomed vessel, take the milk and bring it to a boil. Keep stirring in between, because the milk tends to stick to the bottom of the vessel.

Once the milk boils, reduce the heat and slowly add the vinegar or lemon juice to the boiled milk.

After a minute or two, the milk separates into the whey and paneer and forms a cloudy texture on top. Keep stirring occasionally. In about five minutes, the milk should be completely seperated into whey and paneer. Switch off the heat and leave it to sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Place a wet muslin cloth/ thin,clean cotton handkerchief/ thick paper cloth over a big bowl.
Slowly pour the whey-paneer mixture and strain the paneer. Take care because it should be really hot.
Squeeze out the excess water from the paneer. Store the whey and use it for kneading chapati dough, in soups and stews because it is very healthy. You could refrigerate/freeze it and use later.
Make a knot in the cloth with the paneer and hang it for about an hour so that the whey water completely strains out. Alternatively you could place the cloth wrapped paneer in a plate and place some heavy object on top for about an hour so that the water gets squeezed out.
Paneer is ready. You can slice the paneer and use it in various dishes. Refrigerate the paneer immediately.
Storing paneer:
Place the paneer in a container filled with water if refrigerated. it should be stored in water similar to tofu.

Some dishes with paneer:
Paneer Paratha
Simla Mirch Paneer/Cottage Cheese in a bell pepper gravy
Paneer Butter Masala
Mutter Paneer/Paneer Peas Curry
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