Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Turnip With Tadka

Thanksgiving week as arrived. Winter or not in San Diego, there are winter vegetables galore in my house. This is the first time my parents are truly experiencing all the winter foods. I've made stuffed acorn (which I plan to make again for our Thanksgiving feast), apple-fennel salad, pumpkin-leek soup, roasted sweet potatoes etc. for them so far. They've all been hit with the parents. Winter produce is not new to my mom, but she has rarely tried the non-Indian recipes. I am so glad that my parents are open to trying new foods, and that they actually like it! As I mentioned before, mom had experimented with different ingredients when she lived in the US for a few years. In order to incorporate the local produce into our daily meals, she had Indianized many ingredients; like this cranberry pickle. This simple turnip sabji is one of them. Mom makes turnips with just cumin-coriander, and chili powder for flavor. A simple tempering and little use of spices makes this a soulful dish.

Indian Style Turnip/ Turnip Sabji

3 Medium turnips
2 Teaspoons oil
1/2 Teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 Teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 Teaspoon turmeric powder
1 Teaspoon cumin-coriander powder
1 Teaspoon red chili powder
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro for garnishing
  • Wash, peel, and cut turnips into 1/4 inch cubes. 
  • Heat oil in a pan, and add mustard seeds. 
  • Add asafoetida and turmeric powder once mustard seeds splutter, and add turnip. 
  • Add cumin-coriander, chili powder, salt, and mix well. 
  • Cover the pan and let turnip cook in its own moisture, adding 2-3 tablespoons water if necessary. Stir occasionally. 
  • Turn off heat once turnips are fork tender. Garnish with cilantro, and serve with rotis. 

We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with the family of one of my friends. I'm looking forward to our big meal.

What are you doing this Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Welcoming Fall With Cranberry Pickle

I say this often around this time of the year, but time is zooming by faster than ever! My daughter is growing up way too fast for my liking, and I want to hang on to every precious moment. Perhaps that is why I haven't felt the urge to post all the wonderful recipes I tried during the festival season. October was an exciting month with lots of firsts for my baby girl. We celebrated her first Diwali, and how! My whole family, including mom, dad, sister, and brother-in-law were with us. Really, it is no celebration without the company of your near and dear ones! My sister and I prepared faraal with mom, she instructing us on the exact measurements and just the right method for making everything. No matter how much I learn to do things on my own, having mom inspecting everything for accuracy makes everything better. We all woke up bright and early on Diwali day, dressed up, and enjoyed faraal with some garam-garam chai.

Shreya has now started eating some solids and loves to grab everything from our plates. Diwali was the perfect time to celebrate her embarking on the solid food journey. We did her Ushtavan or Anna Prashan (literally meaning Consuming Food) the day after Diwali. It's a ceremony performed in many Indian states to mark baby's solid eating. Maharashtrians host this ceremony when the baby is between 7-9 months of age. The baby sits on her mama's (maternal uncle) lap, and gets fed all sorts of mushy goodness by the family members. I had some of Shreya's favorite foods - rice, daal, mashed sweet potato, peas, and squash. She looked a little confused by the number of people feeding her, but enjoyed the food anyway.

The month ended with an impromptu trip to Vegas! The long drive made me nervous at first, but my daughter was a complete darling and didn't fuss even once. As lame as it sounds, the best part of the trip was getting out of the messy house and not having to clean the room :D. I think Shreya caught the Vegas fever, and refused to sleep or nurse. She was looking around wide-eyed, with a big grin on her face!

We came back from the Vegas heat to a much cooler and breezy San Diego. The weather had turned around just in days. This pleasantly cool weather is a welcome change, and has given way to winter cooking. I bought fresh cranberries from the market the other day and mom made her favorite, gorgeous colored Indian style pickle. My mom sure is one to try new things in the kitchen and had picked up this recipe a decade back when we lived in NY. It's a quick fix, as long as you have pickle masala on hand. If not, you can use this recipe; it's made with usual ingredients on your spice rack. The pickle is a little bit of each - spicy, sweet, and sour. And look at that beautiful color! Cranberry pickle tastes much like raw Karvand/Karonda pickle.  Slather it on a slice of bread, or eat it with daal-rice or yogurt-rice, it is a picker-upper for any meal, and goes with Non-Indian dishes just as well. We made another batch today, and had it with quinoa pulao. You may even add it to your Thanksgiving menu!

Indian Style Cranberry Pickle

2 1/2 Cups fresh cranberries
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 Teaspoon mustard seeds
3/4 Teaspoon asafoetida (this may seem a lot, but is required)
1/2 Teaspoon turmeric powder
4 Teaspoons Pickle Masala (available at Indian grocery stores)
3 Teaspoons red chili powder
2-3 Tablespoons grated jaggery (adjust per your liking)
Salt to taste
1/2 Cup water

  • Heat oil in a sauce pan and add mustard seeds. 
  • Once the mustard seeds splutter, add asafoetida and turmeric. Add cleaned cranberries to the pot. 
  • Add a little water, cover the pot, and cook the cranberries until soft. Stir in between. 
  • Add pickle masala, red chili powder, jaggery, and salt, and mix well. Cook this down until most of the water evaporates, leaving a chunky pickle. The cranberries should soften completely.
  • Taste, and adjust the ingredients to your liking. 

Cool the pickle completely, and it's ready to enjoy! As with any pickle, it tastes much better the next day. Keep it in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks. I bet you'll finish it way before that :).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Diwali Faraal - Khajachi Karanji or Satyachi karanji

Diwali is just around the corner. And Fall has finally arrived in San Diego. What a glorious time it is to be frying lots of things and using ghee abundantly. Despite the hot afternoons, dense morning fog and crisp evening air convinces me of the changing season and the approaching festive times. I started my Diwali preps over the weekend on a sweet note with flaky, melt in the mouth pastry called Khajachi Karanji or Satyachi Karanji.

 Karanji is a fried pastry, much like empanadas, made with all purpose flour cover and some sort of sweet stuffing. Our traditional recipe has grated fresh coconut filling. My husband's side of the family makes a more fancy version of it. The cover is made by layering multiple rolled dough rotis with ghee in between. When fried, the layers separate, must like puff pastry, creating wonderfully flaky and crispy karanji. It's called Khajachi karanji for the layers resembling another sweet called Khaja. It also gets its other name, Satyachi Karanji or Karanji made with Sate, from the ghee-corn starch spread used to create layers. The spread is called Sate. This Karanji is stuffed with a fine dried coconut filling which adds to the melt-in-the-mouth quality. Some make the karanji cover using very fine rava or semolina. It needs to be pounded and requires more work. I took the easier route.

Husband specially asked me to make Karanji 'their style' since I'm making everything else using my mom's recipes. I am always up for trying something new, especially when it involves a sweet ;). I called up my mother-in-law, and got detailed instructions from her. My skills were at test, and I decided to post the recipe when husband gave me two thumbs up!

The recipe is a little tricky. And the instructions are long. But the picture tutorial should help in understanding how it's made. This elaborate preparation is worth every delicious bite!

**This recipe makes ~12 karanjis.

Khajachi Karanji/Satyachi Karanji

1 Cup all purpose flour
2 Teaspoons melted hot ghee - must be absolutely hot, not warm
Couple of pinches salt
Water as needed
1 pinch saffron and 1 Tablespoon milk Or food color of choice (optional)
A little milk to seal karanji

2 Tablespoons corn starch
~ 2 Tablespoons ghee (or as much needed to create a smooth paste)

1/2 Cup dry grated coconut. If you grate an entire coconut, scrape off the black part.
2/3 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons almonds
1/2 Teaspoon cardamom powder

To prepare the dough:

  • Mix all purpose flour, salt, and hot ghee. The ghee helps make the dough light. 
  • Add just enough water to prepare a stiff dough. It is important not to make the dough soft
  • Cover the dough under a damp cloth and let it sit for a couple of hours. 
  • If you want to make a two-colored karanji, you can use food color. Separate 1/3 and 2/3 flour. Add one color to 1/3 of the flour, and either keep the rest white or add another color. No one in my house is a big fan of artificial food color. So I added saffron to 1/3 of the dough. I added saffron to warm milk and crushed it until the color oozed out. Then added this milk to the dough. 

To prepare sate:
  • Mix corn starch and enough ghee to make a smooth paste in a small plate/bowl. Whisk this by fingers until it's mixed well and looks creamy. 

To prepare the filling:

  • Roast coconut on low flame until toasty (~5 mins). If you have sliced coconut, roast it and then grind it to a coarse powder. You don't want pieces of coconut poking through the dough. 
  • Grind sugar and almonds to a powder. 
  • Mix coconut, almond, cardamom powder, and sugar. Adjust the amount of sugar to your liking. Remember that frying tones the flavors down. Make sure the aroma of cardamom powder is prominent. Mix the filling well by hand. 

To make karanji:

  • Knead the dough well before making karanji. Make three parts of the dough.
  • Roll out each part into a roti. Keep the dough covered under damp cloth while working on each roti to ensure it doesn't dry out. 
  • Take one roti, spread the corn starch mixture or sata by hand to create a thick coat all around. Place the second roti on top of it. Apply more sata and layer the third roti. Press gently by hand. 
  • Now create a tight roll, like a Swiss roll. Pinch off the ends to close. 
  • Cut the roll in half at an angle (as shown in the pic above). Cut each piece in half again. Now cut all 4 pieces in thirds - a total of 12 pieces. Keep them covered under damp cloth. 
  • Press each of the dough pieces by hand to flatten out. You want to flatten it from the side that shows the layers. Since they are at an angle, the layers will seal when pressed. 
  • Gently roll the dough ball using corn starch or all purpose flour so it doesn't stick. Don't roll too hard or else the layers will separate before frying - this will break the karanji while frying, spilling out the filling into the oil. You want to roll the dough like a puri - not too thick not too thin. This cover is called a paari.
  • Place a large spoonful of the filling at the center of the paari. You want a decent amount of filling since the karanji will puff up after frying. Apply a little milk all around the edge of the pari, fold it in half and seal of the edges to create a boat shaped karanji. Press the ends well so that karanji doesn't open while frying. Don't leave any air iside. You can cut the excess ends using a karanji cutter, or a knife. 
  • Heat oil in a kadhai. Drop a small piece of dough. If the oil bubbles rapidly and the dough floats to the top right away, the oil is ready for frying. Lower the heat to medium and fry each karanji until golden. Don't turn the karanji too many times else it'll break. The layers in the paari should separate while frying. 
  • Take out the karanjis on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Let them cool completely before storing. You don't want any steam remaining, else the karanjis will turn soft. 
  • Store in an airtight container once cooled. They can be stored for up to 2 weeks. 

This is one of the many sweets and snacks I plan to prepare this year. Let me know what you're making for Diwali!

Submitting this recipe to the Dish it Out - Diwali Bash event @ Cook's Joy

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Healthy Start - Rava and Oats Uttappam For Breakfast

Preparing meals has become a joint venture in my house lately. Between prepping, cooking, cleaning after, and most importantly looking after the baby, we all need to rotate the roles every so often. I've been able to prepare some elaborate meals lately, such as our Dashera feast. But most of the times I let others help out as much as they can. Cooking with the family is the best way to spend some quality time with them. It's amazing what topics, stories, and helpful tips come out of 'cooperative cooking'. That is when we create memories to cherish for life.

Our Sunday brunch was no different. I made this healthy uttappa/uttappam made with rava and oats. Mom roasted rava and oats, I cut the veggies for the topping and chutney, dad helped grind the chutney, while husband kept the girl entertained. This easy uttappa doesn't require pre-planning, soaking, fermenting etc., much like this instant idli. We got almost two meals out of the batter for the four of us. I was going to make simple rava uttappa, but mom suggested adding oats. It has become a common ingredient in many of her diabetic friendly recipes. Not only that, oats made the uttappas light, and prevented them from sticking to the pan. The great thing about uttappas is that you can top them with a variety of veggies to suit your taste. I added grated carrot along with tomato-onion-cilantro topping. Beetroot, bell peppers, spinach, corn, cheese can be some other options. You are only limited by your imagination. To go with the uttappas, I made a tomato-onion chutney, which has become a favorite of mine lately, and has replaced the usual coconut-cilantro chutney.

Rava-Oats Uttappa/Uttappam

2 Cups rava/semolina
1 Cup old fashioned oats
1 1/2 Cup yogurt
Salt to taste
Water as needed

Mixture of finely chopped onion, tomato, green chili, chilantro, and grated carrot

  • Roast rava on medium heat until fragrant and just starts to change color. 
  • Roast oats until toasty and fragrant, and grind them to a coarse powder. 
  • Mix roasted rava, oats powder, yogurt, salt, and add enough water to make a pancake like consistency batter. Let the batter soak for about an hour, or hour and a half. 
  • To prepare uttappas, heat a pan on medium-high. Make sure the pan is hot before you make the first uttappa, else it'll stick to the pan, and the rest of them won't come out well either. 
  • Pour a ladleful of batter on the pan and gently spread it in a circular fashion. 
  • Add the topping. 
  • Once the uttappa starts to separate from the pan, and you can see that it's golden brown on one side, turn and cook on the other side. 

South Indian Style Tomato-Onion Chutney

2 Medium tomatoes - diced
1 Small or 1/2 Large onion - diced
2 Garlic cloves - chopped
7-8 Curry leaves
Handful of cilantro sprigs (optional)
2 Red chilies/1 Teaspoon red chili powder
1 Tablespoon chana daal
1 Tablespoon urad daal
1/2 Teaspoon mustard seeds
Pinch asafoetida
1/2 Teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 Tablespoon oil for tempering

  • Heat oil in a pan, and add mustard seeds. 
  • Once the mustard seeds splutter, add asafoetida, turmeric powder, curry leaves, garlic, chana daal, urad daal, red chilies, and chopped onion. Roast until the onion is translucent and the two daals turn a red hue. 
  • If you are using red chili powder, add it with the tomatoes. 
  • Add tomatoes, and salt to taste, and roast until tomatoes are cooked (~3-4 mins). 
  • Once the above is cool enough to put into a grinder along with cilantro, grind it chunky or smooth  - however you like your chutney. 

Enjoy hot uttappas with the chutney!

What is your 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bataa Bhaji With Yogurt

It seems I only get to post from one major festival to another these days. There is no time to eat food peacefully, much less take pictures and blog about it. But I'm thoroughly content spending time with and watching my baby girl grow. She turns 7 months today according to the Hindu calendar, and what a fun little thing she is to play with! We also have a full house with my parents visiting us currently - which is why we prepared a feast for Dashera on Friday. Such a bliss being with your near and dear ones on festivals! I meant to post about it right away, but here we are into Kojagiri Pournima and I already have something new cooking in the kitchen. Expect more posts during this festival season.

For us Maharashtrians, Shrikhand-puri is must for the Dashera feast. I made Shrikhand using my Grandma's foolproof recipe. I don't strain the 'chakka' if it's not too lumpy - I like that slightly grainy texture it leaves. There were other traditional dishes on the menu - Batata bhaji/aalu sabji, green beans stir fry/sabji, carrot koshimbir/Maharashtrian style salad, cucumber kayras , masoor amati, and rice. The kayras recipe I posted in the past was taken from somewhere else. Now that mom is here, I made it under her guidance, and it was just how I like it. Her recipe is easier as well. I'll repost it now.

Below is the picture of everything I prepared - how a traditional Maharashtrian thali is served. Of course, you don't expect a square plate,  but I did the best using available resources :D.

Batata bhaji goes really well with shrikhand-puri. Our traditional recipe has a tempering of green chilies and curry leaves. Mom suggested trying something different this time. She taught me a really simple and absolutely delicious recipe for Batata Bhaji in Yogurt. Like everything my mom makes, I loved the preparation. The yogurt taste is not too prominent, but it adds a slight tang and creaminess, and helps in bringing all the flavors together. The recipe below is for a dry sabji, but you can make a thinner gravy by adding more yogurt and adjusting the spices accordingly. There's one more potato recipe added to my repertoire now.

Dahyatali Bhatata Bhaji/Aalu Sabji with Yogurt

3 Large or 4 medium white/golden potatoes.
1/2 Cup yogurt
1 Teaspoon Garam Masala
1 1/2 Teaspoons cumin-coriander powder
1 Teaspoon green reen chili powder/ to taste
Salt to taste
Water if needed.

1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 Teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 Teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 Teaspoon turmeric powder.

  • Boil potatoes till fork tender. Peel and cut into 3/4'' cubes. Keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add asafoetida, turmeric, and yogurt and let cook for about a minute.
  • Add potatoes, garam masala, cumin-coriander powder, green chili powder, and salt. Mix everything well. If the potatoes seem too dry, add a little water.
  • Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Garnish sabji with chopped cilantro. Done!

With Diwali just around the corner, we're getting ready to make Faraal. What's happening on your side?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Naralachi Vadi for Baal Ganesh

My most favorite time of the year is here - Ganpati Bappa arrived in our house yesterday on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, and will stay with us the next 4 days. Oh, so much joy and good eats this festival brings!

I celebrate Ganesh chaturthi with much enthusiasm and glee, while trying to stay as eco-friendly as possible. See this hand-made clay idol and decor with used cardboard boxes from last year? The celebration this year is low-key, as I hardly have time to do anything with a baby and work. But my baby's first big festival needed something to make it memorable. Keeping the tradition, I made the idol at home. As a quick and simple alternative to clay, I thought of using play dough - the perfect medium to make idol for my baby's first Ganpati! Thanks to Pinterest, I knew I could make play dough at home. I used the no-cook play dough recipe on this site, with only half the measurements. I skipped cream of tartar (used for elasticity) and glycerin (used for shine). The preparation of making the dough with all purpose flour, salt, oil, and water took  10 mins all together. The key to getting good play dough is kneading it really well. Making the idol was equally quick as I skipped adding too many details. Our Bappa looks like Baal Ganesha (Baby Ganesha), and I was quite happy with it.

Husband asked for Modak for Naivedya. But it was too elaborate a process. I went for simple Naralachi Vadi (Coconut Barfi) instead, using one of the main ingredients from Modak. I was never a big fan of Naralachi Vadi until I tried it at one of my dad's friends' place. His wife had made the best vadi I had tried, and her secret ingredient was - potato! Who would've though?! Mashed potato gave the vadi a nice bite and chewiness. I don't like too hard, sugary and crumbly vadi, and potato added just the right texture to it. When I told the husband I was adding potato to the vadi, he thought I was joking! But he ended up loving the product, and I think Ganpati Bappa liked it too :).

Olya Naralachi Vadi/ Coconut Barfi

1 Packed cup fresh/frozen grated coconut
1 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup milk
1 Small potato (~ golf ball sized) - boiled and mashed
1/2 Teaspoon cardamom powder
1 Tablespoon ghee
Dry fruits for decoration - I used Charoli. Almonds or cashews would be great.

  • Heat a pan on low flame, add ghee and grated coconut and cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Add sugar, milk, and mashed potato. Cook this mixture while stirring every so often. Make sure you take out all the lumps from the potato so that it's smooth. 
  • Cook the mixture down until all the sugar has dissolved and the moisture has evaporated. It should stop sticking to the pan and come together in a ball. 
  • Add cardamom powder and mix well. 
  • Grease a flat surface (plate/tray etc.) and spread the coconut mixture with a spatula into a 1/4'' cake. Sprinkle chopped dry fruits and pat gently on the cake. 
  • Once cooled slightly, cut the cake into desired sized diamonds. Let them cool completely before separating the barfi. 
Hope those of you who celebrate this festival are having a wonderful, modak-filled, celebration!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Shravan Special - Puran Kadabu

I loved the auspicious month of Shravan as a kid for various reasons. Apart from all the holidays we got, food was certainly one of the highlights. Many women in Maharashtra observe the Jivati Vrata on Shravan Fridays by worshiping Goddess Jiviti for the health and longevity of their children. I didn't know of this vrata by its particular name, but I looked forward to eating Puran-Poli on the first Friday of the month. My mom performed 'ovalane' or 'aarati utarana', for which there is no translation in English! It's a ritual performed by offerning oil lamps to a deity/person as means of worshiping or offering respect. Details apart, mom made diyas out of Puran, the sweet split chickpea/chana daal stuffing that goes into Puran-Poli, to perform the ritual. Then we got to feast on delicious polis.

This year I got to pay it forward by praying for my daughter's well-being and long life. Of course, there was puran involved. Instead of making poli though, I prepared Kadabu - Indian style whole wheat empanadas stuffed with sweet Puran. Kadabu/Kadubu are better known in South India, although the preparation is different. While puran kadabu are made with wheat flour, other versions are either made with all purpose flour or rice flour, and the stuffing is often made of grated coconut instead of chana daal. Puran Kadabu are not very well known; for that matter my husband had never eaten them. But I am quite a fan. The good thing is you don't have to strain puran through food mill to make it smooth. In fact, coarse puran with a bite tastes really good in kadabu.

I saved the chana daal broth and some daal itself to make Katachi Amati which was served with rice, ghee, sweet lime pickle, and yogurt - yes, all home made! I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am to be making fresh yogurt at home every day since last week. Our nanny got us the starter and I couldn't have been more pleased with the results. Anyway, that may warrant its own post.

Puran Kadabu/Indian Sweet Split Chickpea-filled Empanada

1 Cup split chickpea/chana daal
3/4 Cup grated jaggery
1 Teaspoon cardamom powder
Couple of pinches salt

2 Cups whole wheat flour
1 Teaspoon oil
1/4 Teaspoon salt
Water as needed

Oil for frying

  • Knead the dough by combining whole wheat flour, oil, salt, and enough water to form a stiff, firm dough. Cover and keep aside.
  • One the side, pressure cook chana daal until cooked well (4-5 whistles).
  • Once the daal is cooked, remove excess water (you can save the broth to make katachi amati). Add jaggery to the daal and start cooking until most of the water evaporates, and the mixture stops sticking to the pot. Add salt and cardamom powder and mix well. Puran or the stuffing is done.

To make kadabu:

  • Make large marble sized dough ball and roll it out thinly just like you would a puri. 
  • Take a decent amount of puran, approximately a golf ball size, so that you have a handsomely stuffed kadabu. Place it one one side of the round puri and press to form a half moon. 
  • Fold the other side of puri over and press two sides gently to seal. Make sure the kadabu is sealed properly otherwise frying oil will get inside and burn puran. 
  • To make the kadabu look pretty, gently press the tip of a fork into the sealed edges, and cut any uneven ends with a knife. Alternatively, you can use a Karanji Cutter if you have one. 
  • Fry on medium heat until golden brown. Kadabu will puff up when fried. It will soften once cooled. 

Pour some warn ghee on kadabu while serving, and enjoy!


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