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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gujjuben na Dhokla (White Dhokla)

This is essentially a Gujarati dish, unheard of to many. When you say Dhokla, it is automatically assumed we are talking about “Khaman” which is a more popular product of the Dhokla clan and is yellow in color.

The white Dhokla also known as Khatta (sour) Dhokla differs in taste and color form the Khaman, needs a little more prep work and is easier to digest!

Rice – 2 cups
Split black gram lentils (Urad dal) half a cup
Sour yogurt – half a cup    
Warm water – half a cup
Asafetida – 2 pinches
Oil – 2 tsp
Salt, pepper and red chili powder

Soak the rice and urad dal overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. Grind them to a fine paste. Blend in the sour yogurt and warm water and mix well. Leave it covered for 12 hours or so for fermentation.

Add salt and asafetida after the mixture is nicely fermented and ready for use . In a small pan heat 2 tsp of oil and equal amount of water. Bring it to a boil and add it to the mixture. Stir well and rigorously. Grease appropriate plates with oil for steaming the Dhokla. Pour the mixture in to 4 such plates distributing it equally. Sprinkle red chili powder or pepper as per preference. Steam them for about 12 minutes in a steamer or a big vessel with water in it and covered. Take out the plates carefully and cut out the contents into squares. Dhokla is ready to be served with Oil, Green chutney or Ketchup. A more delicious way of serving the Dhokla is by tempering it with mustard seeds, sesame seeds, curry leaves, cilantro leaves and green chili pieces heated in 2 tsp oil. Forgive me for omitting the mouth-watering garnish as the intention was to implement the recipe with as little oil as possible.

White Dhokla will bowl you over with its Idli like simplicity fair and square! Till then, food and more food…

*Half a spoon of baking soda can be added right before steaming the mixture to make the
 Dhokla more soft and fluffy
*If you prefer it spicy, a paste of green chilli and ginger can be added to the Dhokla mixture

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Food glossary English to Hindi

Stumbled on this website while looking for a certain ingredient. Very informative and enlightening, made me realise I am really poor at Hindi as far as food is concerned ! Some of the words even made me laugh out loud, who would have thought that "sage" is "Kamarkas", Oats is "Vilaiti Jaun"or that "Avocado" is translated as "Makhanphal"!!

Check it out and save it for a good laugh or future reference.

Till then, food and more food....

Friday, January 28, 2011

Baingan Bhartha aka The Angry Eggplant

Not everyone likes eggplant. And yet there are people who will relish Baingan Bhartha and ordinarily never eat anything with eggplant in it. The credit according to me goes to the onions and garlic and the spices which cleverly hide the pitfalls of the eggplant.

Funnily enough a website actually states this recipe under “Angry Eggplant” obviously a resultant translation of “Bhartha” meaning mashed (A north Indian slang used to threaten someone when you are angry with that person) and “Baingan” meaning eggplant.  It is worth a mention here that 'The Anger of Aubergines' a collection of short stories by Bulbul Sharma on Indian cuisines and culinary traditions may have been an inspiration! The book is definitely on my ‘next to read’ list.

Eggplant – two large
Oil – 2 tsp
Diced Red onion – half a cup
Diced green onion – half a cup
Diced tomato – half a cup
Minced garlic – 1 tsp
Dried red chili – 2 large
Cumin – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – half tsp
Turmeric powder – half tsp
Cilantro powder – half tsp
Dry mango powder – quarter of a tsp
Black Peppercorns – 1 tsp
Cinnamon stick – 1 small
Yogurt – half a cup (optional)
Water – half a cup

Combine dried red chili, cumin, turmeric – cilantro- dry mango and red chili powders, peppercorns and cinnamon stick in a grinder. Make a fine powder of these spices to use later.

Wash and wipe the eggplants clean. Poke them evenly with a fork. Rub them with oil all over. Cook them on the stove changing sides till the eggplants are cooked inside out. An indication would be the smell of roasting and the skin starting to peel off on its own. Alternatively, broil them in the oven for about an hour or so flipping sides half way through. Let the eggplant cool once done. Peel off the skin and dice them into small pieces.

In a deep pan, heat oil and sauté red onion for two minutes. Add green onions and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add tomato and the spice powder. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add the diced eggplant, salt and water. Mash everything together roughly. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. The water will be fully absorbed by then, if not cook on high flame uncovered while constantly stirring for another 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and add the yogurt (optional). Give the yogurt at least half an hour to blend in before serving. 

Sorry, no pictures of this one. In what can be termed as a rare occurrence I was tempted to eat first and take pictures thereafter. Bad idea! Till then, food and more food…

*Peel the skin off the eggplant, dice it and cook it in pressure cooker if the options of a broiler
 or cooking on stove top are not available..
*You can use any Garam Masala in place of the fresh spice mixture.
*More yogurts can be used in place of tomatoes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cauliflower Au Gratin

You can smell calories on this one well before you eat it. Didn’t stop me from eating it nevertheless!

Cauliflower cut into small florets – 2 cups
Water – 4 cups
Milk – 2 cups
Butter – 2 tsp
All purpose flour – 2 tsp
Bread crumbs – half a cup
Chopped parsley – 2 tsp
Red chili flakes – half a tsp
Grated cheddar cheese – half a cup
Grated Swiss and mozzarella cheese – half a cup
Salt and pepper

In a deep cooking vessel boil water, add salt and pepper. Cook the cauliflower florets in the water for 7-8 minutes till they are done. Drain and keep aside. In a saucepan heat butter and add flour. Stir briskly for a minute or so till the flour changes color. Whisk in milk slowly. Add the spices and cheddar cheese and turn the heat off. Stir continuously making sure the cheese melts and a thick sauce is formed. Grease a baking casserole and cover it with half the sauce. Layer the cauliflower florets and the remaining sauce again on the florets. Top it with bread crumbs and grated Swiss and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 F for about 15- 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

This recipe is a lighter derivation (if there can be one with cheese in it) of a very comforting, rich classic. Double the cheese and butter to enjoy it in its true avatar. Till then, food and more food….

*All purpose flour can be substituted with wheat flour.
*Any kind of cheese can be used in place of Swiss and mozzarella.
*Broccoli can be combined with cauliflower in this dish

Monday, January 24, 2011

Purple and Green Salad with Pear and Gorgonzola dressing

Ever heard of planning your dinner over a salad dressing? This is precisely what has happened today. A trip to the local grocery store got me wandering in an aisle (as is usually the case) examining bottles and packages I had no need for. Never a salad- eater, I was literally lost in the sea of salad dressings, all the time thinking no wonder people love salads, with a million yummy dressings to choose from, who wouldn’t.

After a lot of internal deliberation as to whether the 4 dollars to be spent on what looked like a bottle of mushy oil with bits of cheese floating was warranted or not, my curiosity got the better of me. Soon enough I returned home with a bottle of “Pear and Gorgonzola” dressing.  Here goes the small list of some colorful veggies I put together, a bright absorbent for this very exotic salad dressing.  

Penne Pasta – half a cup
Water – 4 cups
Purple cabbage roughly chopped – 1 cup
Lettuce roughly chopped – 1 cup
Tomatoes chopped in big pieces – 2 large
Carrots cut in thick strips – 1 medium
Pear and Gorgonzola dressing – half a cup
Dry Parmesan cheese – for garnish (optional)
Olive oil – 1 tsp
Salt and pepper

Boil water and add salt, pepper and olive oil. Add in pasta and cook till tender. Drain and transfer to a salad bowl. Add the dressing while the pasta is warm, mix well and cover the bowl. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Add the cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, some salt and pepper and mix again. This time around put it away in the fridge for half an hour. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top before serving.  I decided to skip the garnish as I had oodles of cheese waiting for me in the cauliflower au gratin tucked in the oven.

For those of you who want to make this dressing at home, it is really simple to put together like most dressings. And I definitely intend to, the next time around. All you will need is a can of pear halves, salt, pepper, 1 tsp of olive oil, 1 tsp vinegar, 2 tsp lemon juice and some crumbled gorgonzola cheese. Drain the pear and puree them with all the other ingredients in the food processor except for the cheese. Add the cheese once the dressing is smooth. Refrigerate to store for a couple of days. Till then, food and more food....

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Meatless Red Chili

Last year, the community I stayed in hosted a big chili cookout. Till then, the only green and red chilies I knew where the ones from the grocery store. A click on Google revealed that the chili they were talking about was supposed to be a spicy stew. Now that seemed very convenient because a stew can be a combination of any vegetables and any meat, perfect for hiding one’s cooking blunders!

What ultimately made me take part in the competition was not my love for cooking but the prize of 300 dollars off in next month’s rent. As I ventured into the unknown territory of cooking a chili (that too a meatless version) it was like entering a fascinating world of colors and aroma. For one it takes ages to cook, the slower the better and so the flavors and the smell just float around you for hours while it cooks until you can’t wait to eat it. However the highlight of a chili is the use of so many complex ingredients to create this one simple dish. You keep adding and adding and adding ingredients only to create a solitary dish where all of them blend in beautifully together.

Red onion diced – 1 large
Minced garlic – 4 cloves
Red bell pepper diced – 1 medium
Orange bell pepper diced – 1 medium
Crumbled tofu – half a cup
Diced tomato – 1 can (28 oz)
Tomato ketchup – 1 tsp
Dark red kidney beans – half a can (14 oz)
Light red kidney beans – 1 can
Vegetable broth – 1 can
Corn kernels – 1 can
Cooking oil – 2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Red chili flakes – half tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Water – 4 cups
Salt and pepper
Thinly sliced green bell pepper – for garnish as needed
Grated carrot – for garnish as needed
Grated cheese – for garnish as needed

Heat oil in a deep cooking vessel and sauté onions till cooked. Add  garlic, red and orange bell peppers, tofu, corn and cook for 5 minutes while stirring. Crush the dark red kidney beans into a thick chunky paste and add to the vegetables already being cooked. Add the remaining kidney beans, diced tomato, spices, salt, pepper, water and vegetable broth. Now let it cook on low heat for 2 hours. Alternatively, transfer the whole thing into a slow cooker and let it simmer away for 6 – 8 hours. At the end of the cooking time the dish should have a stew like thick consistency. Add tomato ketchup and mix as you turn the heat off.  Garnish with green bell pepper, carrot and cheese before serving. Till then, food and more food..

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chat on Toast

On any ordinary evening, dinner can be a solemn affair or a dynamo, depending on what is on the table. This particular evening I was looking to satisfy my sweet and sour taste buds without taking much effort. Checked the fridge and found some chutneys lying idle on the shelf. Label on the bread said expires tomorrow. And this way everything fell in place for “Chat on Toast

Wheat bread -  4 slices
Butter – as desired
Boiled and mashed potatoes – 2 medium
Ginger garlic paste – half tsp
Green, sweet and garlic chutneys – as tolerated
Garam masala – half tsp
Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – half tsp
Cilantro finely chopped – half a cup
Onion chopped finely – half a cup          
Tomato chopped finely – half a cup
Sev – half a cup

Heat oil and mustard seeds in a small pan. Add ginger garlic paste and cilantro as the seeds start to crackle. Stir and add garam masala. Turn the heat off and mix the contents of the pan with the boiled and mashed potatoes. Add salt and mix further. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Toast the bread in butter until brown and crispy. Spread the potato mixture evenly on the bread. Add the chutneys, onion and tomato. Garnish with sev and it is ready to devour. Till then, food and more food…

Some serving suggestions
*Drizzling rain
*Hot cup of tea

Monday, January 17, 2011

Verde Arroz

Green is my favorite color and rice is my favorite ingredient to cook with. For those looking for something global, let me clarify that the name can be misleading for it is a mere translation of “green rice”. Combining rice with one of the most nutritious plants on this earth and a whole lot of other fresh ingredients, here’s my “greener” version of the popular recipe cooked in a measly half a spoon of oil.

Long grain rice – 2 cups
Fresh/frozen spinach – 3 cups
Peas – 1 cup
Red onion – 1 medium
Tomato – 1 medium
Green chilies – 3
Ginger – 1 small piece
Garlic – 2 cloves
Oil – half tsp
Cumin seeds – half tsp
Pulav/garam masala – 3 tsp
Cinnamon powder – 1 pinch
Cardamom powder – 1 pinch
Salt and pepper
Water – 4 cups

Cook the rice in water adding little salt. Set aside to cool. In a medium pan boil spinach, ginger, green chilies and tomato for five minutes. Make a puree out of it. In a large non stick pan add oil and cumin seeds. Put in thinly slice red onion once the cumin seeds crackle. Stir and cook till the onions are done. Add finely chopped garlic and peas and cook for another minute or so. Add the spinach puree, cinnamon and cardamom powders, pulav masala ,salt and pepper.  Close the lid and let the mixture cook slowly for twelve minutes. Now is the time to finish the dish. Lower the heat and add cooked rice, stirring and mixing it as softly as possible. Turn the heat off and let the whole thing rest. Extra liquid if any will be soaked away in no time. Serve it warm with a cool raita and papad. If both are missing, plain yogurt and some vegetable chips always work for me. Till then, food and more food…

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Garlicky Cheesy Potatoes

If you decide to serve these potatoes as an appetizer, let me warn you, there will be no room for dinner. For one they are filling and two it’s almost impossible to stop at a half or two.

Red potatoes – five
Readymade garlic spread – 6 tsp
Garlic butter – 2 tsp
Salt and pepper
Grated cheddar/mozzarella cheese – half a cup

Cut the potatoes into halves and cook them either in the microwave or the stove top. Let them cool. Dig out the potato pulp from each half leaving just a thin border around the skin and place it in a separate bowl. Add garlic spread, salt and pepper. Mix well. Now brush the outside of all the potatoes with garlic butter (see earlier recipe on the blog) and fill each of them with the mixture from the bowl. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of each half and bake them in the oven at 350 F for 20-25 minutes until the cheese melts. Garnish with more grated cheese if you aren’t counting calories and serve. Till then, food and more food..
*You can use any kind of potatoes
*Garlic spread can be made at home using garlic, cheese, herbs and mayonnaise
*Can be made lighter by cutting down on the quantity of cheese in the recipe
*This is a very convenient recipe for large groups as you can prep the
  Potatoes beforehand and simply bake them when the guests arrive.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wholesome Tomato soup

Once in a while I feel like having just soup for dinner but invariably at midnight hunger strikes and at that time I wish I had cooked something to eat too. So this time around I made a trio of wholesome tomato soup, garlicky cheesy potatoes and a veggie sandwich. Needless to say, it was a bit too much and the sandwich was carried forward to breakfast the next day.

Let me start with the soup first, combination of fresh, frozen and canned ingredients, the result – appetizing.

Butter – half a spoon
Frozen mixed vegetables – one cup
(corn, carrots, beans, peas)
Broccoli florets – half a cup
Diced Zucchini – half a cup
Italian seasoning – one tsp
Pinch of cinnamon powder
One bay leaf
Small can of tomato sauce
Three cups of water
Salt and pepper

Heat butter and add the frozen vegetables and bay leaf. Cook for a couple of minutes and add the remaining vegetables. Add salt and pepper and mix well. Add water and all other ingredients except tomato sauce. Put the lid on and let everything cook together for 15 minutes. Add tomato sauce and cook for another 15 minutes or so. Sprinkle some pepper right before serving.

Go ahead and make a pot full of this one, tastes even better the next day. Till then, food and more food…

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pleasantly surprised to see Chef Maneet Chauhan on the Judges’ table of “Chopped” yesterday. Those who do not follow the recent cooking shows on food network probably haven’t heard of Maneet Chauhan. She was one of the aspiring candidates on the “Next Iron Chef” show. Before that she had actually competed on an Iron chef episode challenging Chef Morimoto. Unfortunately, she wasn’t successful in either of them. Personally I think she is a very talented chef, pretty bold in her culinary attitude. What probably works against her is most of the food she cooks has the Indian/Asian influence. Watching her as a judge and not a participant in “Chopped” makes me feel happy; she is finally getting her due. 

FYI – Maneet Chauhan is an executive chef at VERMILION which has branches in Chicago and New York. (And no I wasn’t paid to write about her!) till then, food and more food….

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mushrooms in a Jiffy

Vegetarians like me can have their share of meat by way of mushrooms. They take little time to cook and absorb the essence of all the ingredients real nice. But I love them because they taste sooo good!

White mushrooms thinly sliced – 8 to 10
Carrot thinly sliced – 1
Garlic diced finely – 2 cloves
Salt – to taste                                                            
Pepper -1 tsp
Dried parsley – half a tsp
Red chili flakes – as tolerated
Cooking oil – 2 tsp

Heat oil in a non stick pan and add the sliced carrots. Cook on high flame for two minutes. Add the remaining ingredients along with the mushrooms and keep cooking on high flame for five minutes or so stirring in between. Turn off the heat and serve hot.

·         Never wash mushrooms, clean them with a damp towel
·         Never over cook mushrooms, they turn soggy and chewy

Some serving suggestions
*Make a “Mushroom on toast” for breakfast with this recipe; toast some bread to go with it
*Serve it as a side along your pasta
*Use it as a filling for your veggie wrap
*top it on an open sandwich with some sprinkled cheese.

Ready to eat, all in 10 minutes from start to finish, can’t get any faster than this for today, till next time, food and more food…..

Monday, January 10, 2011


If I had to choose between pasta and paratha, my answer would be “can I have both?”

Both the “P”s are obviously not meant to be together, but there a common link running through them which is designed to melt (hearts) literally !! Yeah, butter.

As I share some of my colorful ideas for pepping up the good ole butter, I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. 

Let me start with an important tip before you venture into the world of flavored butter, ALWAYS keep it at ROOM TEMPERATURE for mixing. Then refrigerate so that the flavors can blend in.

Garlic butter
Simplest form of addition with mouth watering results. Add half a spoon of minced garlic, a little salt and pepper to one stick of butter. Mix well and refrigerate. This delicious butter goes extremely well with a Mediterranean sandwich or…. to make a garlic bread, what else!!

Green butter
Add half a cup cilantro and mint, finely chopped, a little salt and a little ground cumin to the butter. Green butter is best used for cooking Indian dishes or other recipes cooked with spices. It adds a lot of flavor on hot Parathas of any variety.

Red butter
My all time favorite, brightens up any dish both in color and taste. Take half a spoon or even less of dried red chili flakes and toss them with some salt into your butter. The red should be prominent and so should be the heat.

Italian butter
The use of Italian herbs in recipes brings out a different kind of aroma altogether, and if the butter is Italian too, all you got to do is start eating! Combine dried parsley, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper to butter. Mix well and use it for your pasta.

Sweeter butter
Ok, I admit this idea is not really mine. Once while making a banana sandwich for my daughter, she questioned “why can’t everything on this bread be sweet?” So all you need to do is whip up some brown sugar (since we are already adding sugar, try and make it healthier by adding brown instead of white) with the butter. It goes very well with bananas and even green apples. But what I found best about it was that it is a good look alike for peanut butter for kids who are allergic.

So I end today on an inspired (ugh..pirated) note. Till then, food and more food…