Friday, 31 July 2009

Tried making Onion Cookies / Crackers .... and loved them

Yippee! I baked these!

These extremely tasty and so very,very easy to make Onion Crackers come "Straight from Supriya's Red Chillies to Soma's eCurry" to Kichu Khon.

I loved this line by Soma so much ... made me think of the pass-it-on game .... that I just had to use it .... and the good lady said yes, I can! Thanks Soma! :-)

It was a very rainy day last Saturday. I was bored the afternoon through ... thought of rustling up something spicy and interesting. And then remembered these and decided to give them a try.

I went through both the recipes. For a change I curbed my experimentive side ... cannot say I was too inclined to too ... as this concerns baking, which gives me cold feet by default anyway.

Supriya has given a very good description and background for these. And yes, do heed to her warning ... these are really addictive. Soma echoes this too.
And I found it out for myself. And how! :-)

These are the easiest things that I have baked so far! I have omitted out a few things .... but they were way too tasty still.

I do not like sesame seeds .... so never have them at home.
I usually never have baking soda at home ... so again did not add it.
I did not add the cilantro / coriander leaves as I cannot eat them .... so almost never have them at home.
And I could not add the butter for the simple reason that I had run out of it ... and this decision to make these was impromptu.

Instead I threw in a few crushed Kasuri Methi into the dough. The awesome smell that fills the house when these start to bake has to be experienced to be really known.

Do go through both the recipes at Red Chillies and eCurry!

Here I am putting down the way I made them. Considering that they turned out so yummy inspite of my omitting so many ingredients, just imagine how they would be with the original recipe.

Need : Maida, chopped onions, chopped green chillies, some crushed Kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves, cooking oil, salt to taste and a little warm water.

How to : Mix together everything with a good amount of cooking oil. Use warm water to make a dough.

Take medium sized balls from the dough and roll them out like a thick roti. I used a little oil and dry flour alternately to roll out.

Prick with a fork all over.
Cut into small pieces with a cookie cutter or any small sized round thing ... I used a small jam bottle cover.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F ... that comes to 162.777777.... degrees C. So I stuck to my favorite oven temperature ... between 150 to 160 degrees C.

Do keep an eye on the cookie batch when baking though ... they will be done even though they still look whitish ... and a few more extra minutes will brown them too much.

Grease a baking tray . Place the cut cookies on it and bake at the same temperature for around 20 minutes.

These little munchies are way too delicious! And if eaten warm, right when you bring them out from the oven .... you won't feel like stopping .... ever. :-)

I surprised hubby with these after his afternoon snooze .... and this was the perfect snack for a rainy evening!

We had them with my very favourite  Onion and Tomato chutney. And washed them down with some hot ginger tea later. :-)

Too good! Am going to make these again ... the best part about this recipe is it is totally hassle free! :-)

Believe me folks .... if you have not tried these out yet ... in this monsoon ... you are missing out on something!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Roasted Corn on the Cob

Ok ... come on with the brickbats ... you are most welcome to. :-)
I know this is a food blog ... am supposed to post food ... good food. Am supposed to be sweating it out in the kitchen ... dishing up goodies ... clicking snaps .... wracking my brains for a decent write .... and post it. And wait for the bouquets.

But what can I do? Am doing nothing of the sort. Am cooking the minimum ... sometimes crispy, crunchy and lip smacking deep fried stuff .... that too is devoured as soon as it is off the heat .... I don't feel like doing anything more than read and eat ..... read some more and eat .... and for a change .... eat ... and then read.
Ok ok ... maybe am exaggerating a little ... but then you do get the point, don't you? ;-)

And now .... cheating at its height .... am posting ... of all things .... a roasted corn! So c'mon all you good souls ... am ready for the brickbats.

But I really can't help it. This one thing has been my constant friend .... considering my laziness these days and my inclination to munch on something .... anything .... when with a book .... and the wet and dark weather outside making staying sane so difficult. I am having this as lunch, evening snack ... and at odd times in the weekends too. So thought of posting it. :-)

Not to mention that I can get away by writing only a little ... I really can't concentrate on anythign else when Ghulam Ali is belting out such soulful numbers. Got to give the great man some attention. ;-)

I love the sweet corn boiled and steaming hot .... with a huge dollop of butter on it. But most of the times I just roast it on an open flame .... since it is so sweet and is bursting with juices ... I do not overdo it ... just sear and char to get that burnt flavour ....
... and then rub it with a slice of lemon, sprinkle some salt and chilli powder and it is ready to be scrunched on ! :-)

So .... grab that bhutta (corn) now ... and go stand near the window or balcony and feel the cool freshness of the life giving rain on your face. And don't forget to thank god a little .... for ... well .... everything. :-)

See ya all soon ... with some very good stuff ... I promise. :-)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Whole Wheat Buns

The rains are here to stay. It has been drizzling steadily for the past two days ... and has been very very windy. Not to mention the cold. While the family in Delhi is complaining about the heat and humidity and the lack of rains ... we are snuggling into warm woollens and throws and blankets.

The trees outside are having tough time holding on to themselves and their branches ... the way they are being shaken and thrashed by the wind.

Inside the house, all the windows have come to life. How do these huge glass panes rattle so much ... I wonder.
Not satisfied with the ear jarring rattling, they sometimes moan and groan, making the strangest of noises ... enough to spook the living daylights out of any living being.

The whole day there is this noise ... can be easily called a lift from any Ramsay branded stuff .... while one window is rattling with tremendous urgency in one room, another starts a low moan that slowly climbs in pitch and octave ... until it turns so bone chillingly shrill that one has to leave the room.

Anyway, it was early in the weekend and I was at my wits end as to what to make for brunch nee breakfast. And finally zeroed in on aloo parathas ... the quickest breakfast I can make ... thanks to my aloo mash mix.

But as I was taking out the atta / wheat flour listlessly, I decided to try my hand at baking bread again. That put the spring in my step as I set off to try something that I usually run away from ... baking bread.

Since I was not expecting a success, I did not keep track of the exact measurements. I usually do not follow measurements for any recipe ... so realised that it was all those careful measurements that really scare me away from baking bread. So just went by my instincts this time ... and I got some real good bread! :-)

Of course, I must mention that going through the recipes of all the wonderful blogs out there has given me some good info on baking bread.

So I made these Whole Wheat Buns. :-)
Buns because I don't have any baking tray to bake a loaf ... yet. I did use yeast ... and am happy I did. The next time am going to keep the dough overnight and see what happens.
Since the weather is too cold these days, am not too sure though.

Am trying to give the measurements ... but dear baking experts ... please don't hold me against anything .

Need : 1 cup atta / whole wheat flour , a little less than 1/2 cup maida / APF, 1 small cube of butter ( I cannot give the exact proportion ... maybe the size of an Amul cheese cube ) , dry active yeast (around 1 tbsp), 1 tsp sugar and less than 1 tsp salt, warm water to make dough.

How to : Warm water. Mix the two flours in a biggish bowl .
In a cup pour in a little warm water and add the sugar and the yeast.

Cover and keep for a while till the yeast dissolves ... you can see it froth. After a while add it to the flours along with the butter and salt. Knead with more warm water into a soft dough.

Cover and keep it for a while ( I kept it for around half an hour).

Meanwhile preheat oven ( I did at 150 degrees C ). Grease a baking tray.

Make small balls out of the dough. Make two cuts across the surface.

Arrange them on the tray and bake at 180 degrees till the buns are done ( check by inserting a knife or toothpick ).

These buns were done very quickly ... but the top was still very light in colour. So I grilled them for a few minutes and got the perfect colour.

See the air holes? :-)
The crust was not too hard ... and I got the brown I wanted ... and the inside was so soft !

I slathered them with butter and my Mango Jam.
Delicious! :-)

Friday, 17 July 2009

Beguni / Batter Fried Eggplants

"Aur bolo..." .... persisted the pest for the nth time. The husband gives a pained smile for the nth time. I look away.

How I hate it when people have nothing to talk about and try to satisfy their curiosity under the garb of making conversations. And how I hate going to such gatherings.

"Aur kya chal raha hai ...." ... and then not to give up .... " Who sits next to you in office these days? " ... "What happened to so and so? Heard such and such happened to him/her! Is it true? " .... and then after a pause when there was no satisfactory reply .... " Aur bolo ...."

Ugghhhh! But no ... pests are pests.
Suddenly finds out that yours truly exists. So turns to me. "Aur aapka kaisa chal raha hai ..." I give my politest smile and thank him. "Aaj kal kya kar rahi ho? "
" Pura din ghar mein kya karte ho? .... come over to our place sometime ... my wife is also doing nothing ... just sitting at home".

Another polite smile .... I even show my two twisted teeth that is so typical of Bengali girls .... see ... am smiling still. Hubby can't call me ill mannered.

Let me mention that inspite of most people knowing that I work from home most of the time .... I face this question a lot. Unless a person has an "office" or "company" name as a tag, s/he is not considered as a proffessional. Infuriates me to no end.

So I have started being gleefully adamant at not providing an answer to this particular question at all . :-)
They stare at me after asking ... I smile back at them. Just love to see them squirm. ;-)

The ladies are not that subtle. " Ghar mein pura din reh kar pagal nahi ho jati kya? " One of them even suggested once that I sell off the huge number of books that are all over in my house .... so that I can buy new books ..... just to pass time.

Well ... I am usually very tolerant .... but the books here of here are my collections of the condensed classic novels selection by the Reader's Digest ... that I have so painstakingly collected over the years. :-(

I really don't understand what troubles them more .... the fact that am happy in my home ... or that I don't join them for their gossip sessions or their kitty parties ... or the fact that the both of us are so comfortable with each other that we don't need to tolerate insolent company just for the sake of having company.

When I was young, I would make friends based upon what and how much a person can converse on. Most could not go beyond movies. After I grew up, I have come across worse people .... and really missed the ones who just discussed movies.

Well .... maybe I am expecting too much. Or am I ?

A friend had once declared that if we want to have a huge self confidence or a permanent feeling of superiority, the easiest thing to do is to surround ourselves with morons and idiots.
I had wanted to choke him then.
And I want to choke him still.

As for the aforementioned pest .... I was getting so sick of him that I really had to shut him up. Which I did ... with a look.

Just widened my big eyes bigger with a shocked look at his plate .... you see ... he is a glutton and weighs maybe 120 kgs. Disappeared with an inaudible mumble. ;-) Hee hee.

My recipe today is deep fried ... I know, I know .... deep fried stuff is bad ... unhealthy ... etc. etc.
But what with the weather turning so beautiful with the rains and a nip in the air ... I just have to have something crispy, spicy ... and well ... a little deep fried. :-)

Most of my regular friends here know how simple and healthy my recipes are. But I too indulge once in a while.
And nothing can beat the feel of moist cold on myself when am standing in my balcony or near a window .... and an occasional cloud passes by.
Oooohh .... awesome! Some hot crispy fried stuff then .... and I am in heaven!

Need : Fresh eggplant / brinjal, cut into roundels ( if it is too big, you can halve the roundels), 5 tbsp besan / gram flour, 2 tbsp rice flour, chilli powder, chaat masala [optional], salt to taste, water and cooking oil ( I used mustard oil as it is absorbed less ).

How to : Make a thick batter with the besan, salt, chilli powder and water. Heat enough oil in a kadhai or wok.

Dip a roundel in the batter and coat it well on both sides. When the oil is hot enough, gently slide them in one by one .... leaving enough space between them so that they don't stick to each other.

Fry on slow heat till they are brown on both sides.

Serve hot with some chilli powder and chaat masala sprinkled on them.
Enjoy with some hot tea !!

This is also a great accompaniment to the much loved Khichuri.
And is almost always served with the Bengali Bhog er Khichuri or the Prasad ki khichdi.

Have a great weekend all!
C'ya again soon ! :-)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Mango Jam

This is my 150th post !! :-)

My tryst with mangoes this year was sweet .... yet was about to end on a bad note. The final batches that are making their appearence are tasteless ... and sometimes gone bad.
Most have been picked in a hurry ... and even if we have to make do with those that have definitely not ripened on the trees ... some turned out to be too raw ... especially those that looked too bright and yellow. :-(

So the last batch that I got was salvaged with much pain ... I finally mashed up the stuff that looked woefully back at me as I at it.

Wondering what to do with the gooey bowlful, I decided to cook it. After all, what can go wrong that has sugar dumped into it by the spoonfuls. ;-)

I got this wonderful jam .... all mildly sweet and perfect.
The other half did his bit by bringing me down to earth with a thud by calling it "aampak" or "murabba" .... and then spreading it on a hot roti, rolling it up and devouring it promptly.

I still insist on calling it a 'jam' .... and will have it with bread ... thank you very much. :-)

Need :
Ripe mango pulp ( I just ran a hand blender for a while ... did not make a smooth paste ), sugar, lime juice ( I used just a little for the colour to hold ... not to make it tart ), a few drops of vanilla essence.

How to : Pour the pulp into a non stick pan and heat it.
Once it starts to boil, add some vanilla essence and lime juice. Keep boiling till it is cooked and the raw flavour is gone.

Add sugar and cook for some more time .... till it thickens well.
Remove and cool.
I stored it in a bottle in the fridge .... today it is already half way gone.

I tried to click the clouds on the hill tops .... but they are too far away ... there is too less light ... they are too many in the range to be caught in a single frame .... and there are far too many buildings around.
Back to my glorious golden, I had it for breakfast on fresh bread and with elaichi / cardamom flavoured milk and some dry fruits. :-)

This shot of my breakast goes to Divya's event "Show me your breakfast" ... that's on till July 10th.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Quick Pakodas with Leftovers

The rains have finally arrived. Finally! Well ... the sky has been overcast for two whole days at a stretch .... it has been windy ... there has been a light spray of water the whole of yesterday ... and it actually drizzled today. So hopefully I can say .... finally the monsoon has arrived.

Unlike the rains that I am used to on the coast back home .... heavy and relentless, pelting down ever so heavily ... with thunder , lightning and a wild wind as a bonus ... this hilly little city gets a very calm and quiet monsoon. The whole day there will be a quiet rain ... you won't hear anything and will realise it's raining only when you look out.

The hilltops are already covered with clouds .... and the hills have turned a bluish green ... well ... or a greenish blue ... whatever .... but they look beautiful after looking so drab and brown the whole year through.

And it turns cold in the monsoons here .... no siree ... not the damp, heavy and humid monsoons here. It turns cool and then cold ... enough to get out light woollens and blankets. I soooo loooove this weather. :-)

So this evening I felt like having something spicy,hot and quick to celebrate the monsoons... I love watching the rains on the hill and trees from the wide bay windows. The husband called to say he would be home early .... declined his offer to get something to eat .... and set off to make some bhajjis.

Then seeing a lot of stuff in the fridge ... thought of making something different .... not to mention I really did not feel like spending a lot of part of the beautiful evening standing in the kitchen and shedding tears on onions.

I found some leftover dal and bread .... you can use any leftover curries too ... chopped up some onions and green chillies and mashed them all together. I had some sweet corn kernels ... so threw in some ... and am glad I did. And oh yes .... had some leftover fried rice ... so threw in a fistful of that too ... the beans and carrots in the snaps are from that.

The best part with leftovers is you need not add any masala or spice ... they have their own. Just adjust the salt .... due to the bread.
And deep fry them .... that's all. C'mon .... don't give me that look ...

.... you enjoy the begining of monsoon only once ... or twice ... or thrice. ;-) Am sure in a few weeks we will be complaining about the dull weather and rain and water logging etc. etc. So enjoy some fried stuff while you can.

Need : Whatever leftover dry sabzi / curry you have in the fridge, some leftover dal ( better than plain bland water ), chopped onions, chopped green chillies, some cornflour, salt to taste and oil for deep frying.

How to : Mash everything together. Shape into small balls . Heat oil and deep fry them till golden brown.
Done! :-)
This turned out to be the quickest thing I have ever cooked. :-)

Want a bite? Dig in. :-)
Great with some ketchup and steaming hot tea !

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Instant Kathal Biryani (Raw Jackfruit Biryani) ... and a few thoughts

( If you are unable to get raw jackfruit, this can be made with a lot of other things like leftover cauliflower / potatoes/ paneer/ chicken / mutton curries too. )

Updated : I have never had absolutely any problems with any 'COMMENTS on my blog(s) ... as many of you have assumed in a hurry to leave nice lines for me. I guess you just skimmed the first few lines ... which too are not on what is being assumed.. I clarify here that my post is on something very different ... and I did not 'experience' or 'go thru' anything traumatic to shake me off the face of earth.
Please either read the whole post before writing anything ... or just jump to the recipe. :-)

Ever since I visited a few food blogs that are a little over around 2- 3 years old, I have been thinking. I am so touched by the courteousness and light humour in them as well as the comments they have got. Such graceful ladies ... and such friendliness. In one blog, when one commentator mentioned that she too was about to post a similar recipe, the blog owner actually expressed regret at not knowing ... else she would have waited. Such character and endearing quality!

And so much different from what we are getting these days ... foul words and expletives peppered dangerously all around. I wonder what force compels. Is it insecurity ... or this desire to be the centre of attention? I find it very juvenile .... but whatever it may be .... it defines a lack of depth and education.

Because nobody is taught to use foul language. So it is a self decided activity. I believe the true self of a person is displayed when life puts a test in front of him/her, out of the blue. It is how you tackle any given situation with how much quiet, grace, humour and dignity that shows what kind of a person you are. It may be total joy, sorrow, fear or a loss.

I do not think using foul words proves somebody to be more educated or gutsy than others ... and neither does it prove the person's hold on vocabulary ... rather I believe it proves the lack of it.
Our blogs are our own places ... and I akin my blog to my home. Just as I would keep my home clean and pure for myself and my visitors, so would I want to keep my blog pages clean and wholesome for my visitors and friends here. Who would want to visit a place or spend a while there if it is known to store rotten garbage with enthusiasm ?
Who would want to appreciate my home or my page if it is full of filth ... words or otherwise ?

More the reason if it is a food blog. We associate food with God. The food we cook and serve is offered as prasad to the gods too ... not to mention that it nourishes us on the whole. Who would want to have a look at any food .... no matter how beautifully presented .... leave alone eat it ... if they knew that the house owner places garbage in the same plate?

Then how can someone use horrid dirty words and then smile and display a recipe at the same go?!
Beats me. All I know is we are what our thoughts make us ... mind, body and soul.

My recipe today is again a quick dish that I often make ... usually with whatever leftover curry and rice I have. The magic in this dish is the flavour biryani masala and the onion fried in ghee. Of course, it helps if the curry you are using is slightly spicy with lots of masala.

I had made a spicy curry with the raw Kathal / Jackfruit .... that had lots of onion & ginger & garlic paste and garam masala.

Need : Leftover Kathal curry ( or any spicy curry of say cauliflower / potatoes/ paneer/ chicken / mutton), cooked white rice ( better if it has stayed in the fridge for at least a night ) ,
a lot of sliced onion, ghee / clarified butter, bay leaves, dry whole red chillies, whole spices ( green cardamom, cinamom, cloves ), Biryani Masala Powder ( I use Everest Biryani Masala ), a few fresh mint leaves.

How to : Heat ghee in a heavy kadhai / wok. Add the whole spices, the bay leaves, the chillies and then the onions. Fry on low heat till the onions slowly turn brown.
( Do not try to add sugar to hasten the process .... the onions will not cook from the inside and will burn from the outside).
Remove the onions to a plate.
Arrange a layer of rice in the same kadhai ... or you can take another flat bottomed pan. Then arrange a layer of the leftover curry. Sprinkle a pinch of Biryani masala powder on it and then spread a few fried onions on it. And some mint leaves. Cover with another layer of rice.

You can make multiple layers if you have enough rice and curry. Spread the final batch of the onions on top. Drizzle some ghee generously. Cover tightly and let it sit on low heat for around 15 mins.
Remove and serve hot with curd or raita.

And oh yeah ... I finally got to finish this top { updated : for myself :-) } I'd started a coupla months back. :-)

I'll try to be a little more regular than the past week ... till then take care all ... and hugs to all of you who enquired after me about my well being. Am just fine. Much thanks! :-)

Enjoy !!