Cook's Hideout: December 2009

December 31, 2009

New Year Wishes with Carrot-Sooji Halwa

Wish you all a very Happy & Prosperous New Year 2010. Hope the new year brings you lots of happiness & luck in all ways always.

I want to end this year on a sweet note. This recipe is from my mom. It is quick and simple to make, but looks rich and tastes awesome.

Sooji – ¼ cup
Carrot – 2 small, grated
Dry fruits & nuts – ¼ cup all together ( I used cashews, almonds & raisins)
Sugar – 1/3 cup (or more as per taste)
Milk – 2 cups (I used 1 cup each of whole & 1%)
Ground Cardamom – ¼ tsp
Saffron – pinch, mixed in 2tbsp warm milk

  • Heat 1tbsp ghee in a pan; fry the nuts & raisins until golden and keep aside.
  • In the same pan; add 1tbsp ghee and sooji; cook till sooji changes color and smells fragrant. Remove and set aside.
  • In the same pan; sauté carrot till it doesn’t smell raw anymore. Set aside.
  • Bring milk to a simmer and add sugar. After sugar dissolves, add sooji & carrot and cook on low flame until slightly thick, about 5-7 minutes. Finally add elaichi & saffron. Serve hot, cold or at room temp.

This recipe is off to Nupur's Recipe Marathon - Day 7 series. I thoroughly enjoyed posting everyday for the past one week and going through the yummy dishes fellow marathoners have been making. Thanks Nupur for coming up with this idea and doing a fantastic job of compiling the recipes everyday.
I've bookmarked a ton of them already, I made Sheetal's Vangi-Pohe for lunch and I absolutely loved it. Thanks Sheetal for sharing such a yummy dish.

December 30, 2009

Whole Wheat Walnut Bread

Recipe Marathon - Day 6

This is yet another bread that I made from Whole Grains baking book by King Arthur Flour. I borrowed the book from the library and I’m totally in love with it. There are a ton of recipes that I’ve already bookmarked to make. I’m planning to buy it from Amazon because there’s no way I can make all my bookmarked dishes before the time runs out on the book.
This is probably the first yeast bread that I baked, not including pizza crusts & naan breads. We really liked the soft bread with the slightly crunchy crust. It is not too sweet nor too savory which makes it ideal for both sweet & savory additions. We had it for breakfast with nutella, butter & jelly and for lunch with egg salad.

Recipe from Whole Grains Baking Book.
Whole Wheat flour – 3 cups (Recipe called for traditional, I used white ww)
Instant Yeast – 2½ tsp
Walnuts – ¾ cup
Light or Dark Brown sugar – 2tbsp, firmly packed
Vegetable Oil – 2tbsp
Orange Juice - 3tbsp
Lukewarm water - 1 cup

  • Combine all the ingredients, and mix & knead them until you have a soft, smooth dough. I used by hands, but you can use a stand mixer or bread machine to do this. Cover and allow the dough to rise until its puffy and nearly doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
  • Lightly grease an 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pan. Gently deflate the dough, and shape into a 8" log. Place in the prepared pan. Cover it gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise till it's crowned about 1" over the rim of the pan, 1½ to 2½ hours.
  • Near the end of the bread's rising time, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  • Uncover and bake the bread for about 40 minutes., tenting it with foil after 15minutes.
  • The bread is done when it is golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190ºF. (I don't have any such fancy equipment in my kitcehn but the bread was definitely done and delicious.)
  • Remove it from the oven, after a minute or so turn it out onto a rack.
  • Brush with melted butter (I brushed some earth balance), if desired; to keep the crust soft.
  • Cool the bread 30 minutes before slicing.

December 29, 2009

Kaddu ki Dalcha (Sorakaya Masala Kura)

Recipe Marathon - Day 5

I saw the recipe for this dalcha in Eenadu which is a telugu newspaper. Recipe was actually for a pumpkin dalcha, but I used regular kaddu (sorakaya/ bottle gourd) instead. Also I have to admit that I didn’t know dalcha is a Hyderabadi dish (I AM from Hyderabad.. just so you know) and I thought it could be either a Bengali or Rajasthani dish until I googled and found out.
Dalcha has cooked & liquidized chana dal base which is seasoned with spices and the main ingredient could either be a veggie or meat.

Kaddu (Sorakaya/ Bottle gourd) – 1 medium, diced (about 3-4 cups)
Chana dal – 2/3 cup
Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Tomato – 2 medium, chopped
Tamarind paste – 2tsp
Ginger + garlic paste – 1tsp
Mustard & Cumin seeds – 1tsp
Red chili powder – 1tsp
Turmeric – a pinch
Ground cinnamon – ½ tsp
Ground Cardamom (Elaichi powder) – ½ tsp
Jaggery (Bellam) or Brown Sugar – 2tsp
Green chilies – 4, slit vertically

  • Pressure cook dal until soft (the more the whistles, the better). Blend it with tamarind paste and 1 cup of water. Keep aside.
  • Heat 2tbsp oil in a large pan; add mustard seeds & cumin seeds and once they start to splutter add onions and sauté till translucent.
  • Add g+g paste and sauté for another minute. Next add chopped bottle gourd; cover and cook till the veggie is tender, about 12-15minutes.
  • Then add tomatoes, red chili powder, turmeric, cover and cook till tomatoes turn mushy.
  • Add the chana dal, ground cinnamon, cardamom (elaichi), jiggery, green chilies, salt and 1 cup water. Simmer the mixture for 5-10 minutes so all the flavors mingle together.
Serve with rice or roti. It tasted much better the next day.

December 28, 2009

Pumpkin (& Banana) Bread

Recipe Marathon: Day 4

After half baking my first pumpkin bread and making this yummy bread pudding I wanted to try it again this weekend. I realized I didn’t have enough pumpkin puree and my ever resourceful husband suggested adding mashed banana along with pumpkin and it turned out pretty good. This is quite spicy bread (not hot spicy.. but spice spicy), from my previous experience I used only half of the ground cloves.

Recipe is from Wholegrains Baking by King Arthur Flour.
White Whole wheat Flour – 2 cups
Baking powder – ½tsp
Baking Soda – 1tsp
Salt – ½tsp
Ground cinnamon – ½tsp
Ground Cloves – ½tsp (I used only ¼tsp)
Ground nutmeg – ¼tsp
Eggs – 3 large
Butter – ½cup (1 stick) at room temperature
Light brown sugar – 1cup
Granulated sugar – ¼ cup
Pumpkin puree – 1 cup (I had about 2/3 cup, I used a ripe banana for rest of pumpkin)
Vanilla extract – 1tsp
Chopped nuts – ¾ cup (I used walnuts) Raisins, Cranberries or chocolate chips – ¾ cup (I added raisins)
  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9”x5” loaf pan.
  • Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium mixing bowl.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
  • Add one egg at a time and mix until well incorporated. Add vanilla and pumpkin puree; mix thoroughly. Next add the flour mixture and mix until combined; make sure to scrape the bowl. Add the nuts & raisins and mix till well distributed.
  • Pour into prepared pan; bake for an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the CENTER comes out clean.
I baked for about 63-65 minutes, the bread was baked perfectly around the edges but there was a little spot in the middle that took longer to bake. I was persistent this time and poked into the cake in different spots to make sure that it is baked. This makes for a great breakfast or a filling afternoon snack.

December 27, 2009

Bittergourd in Spicy Kolhapuri gravy

Recipe Marathon: Day 3

Kolhapuri Misal has been on my list to make ever since I saw Sia’s detailed recipe and droolworthy pictures. It took me all this time to get around making it. I made it way less spicy than Sia’s version since I was making for a 2 year old also. We enjoyed it a lot even though the dish has quite a few components that need to be made. I don’t have the pictures of the misal itself since we ate it right away.

But today’s recipe is not the misal but another dish I made with “Kat” or the Spicy curry that is one of the components of Misal.
I had about a cup of leftover kat that needed to be used and since I didn’t have any sprouted moth beans, I used it as gravy in this buttergourd curry and it was awesome. We really enjoyed the spiciness of kat with the bitterness of the veggie.

Here’s the recipe for Kat from Sia’s post (adapted from Chakli's recipe).

Once you have the Kolhapuri masala & Kat ready this dish is a snap to make.
Bittergourd – 4 medium, chopped into half moons
Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Kat – 1 cup
Tamarind paste – 2tbsp
Salt – to taste
Mustard & cumin seeds – 1tsp each
Curry leaves – 6-8

  • Place the bittergourd pieces along with tamarind, pinch of turmeric, ½ tsp of salt and ½ cup water in a microwave safe bowl. Nuke for 6-8 minutes or until the gourd is ¾th cooked. Drain and rinse under cold water; wring all the water out and set aside until ready to use.
  • Heat 1tbsp oil in a pan, add the seeds & curry leaves, once the seeds start to splutter add onions and sauté until lightly browned around the edges.
  • Add bittergourd and sauté on medium-high heat until they start to form a crust, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Reduce the flame to low and add Kat and ½ cup water; simmer for another 8-10 minutes. Check for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
My gravy was spicy enough, so I just had to adjust the salt. But if you want it spicy add some Kolhapuri masala. This spicy dish is great for a chilly night dinner, warms you up inside-out.

December 26, 2009

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Recipe Marathon - Day 2
So what do you do when you bake a bread and after its cooled you realize its not completely baked in the center?? Let me know what you folks do, but I decided to make a bread pudding with the 2/3rds baked bread.
This is how the whole unbaked bread pudding came about: I had to bake bread for my colleague’s b’day and decided to make pumpkin bread from King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grains Cookbook. Recipe called to bake it for one WHOLE hour. It was a weekday and I didn’t think that the bread needs to be baked for one WHOLE hour (based on what?? I don’t know!!!). So I decided to take it out around 52 minutes, please note that I checked the doneness with my cake tester and it came out clean (psst.. just so you know I did not test the center though, did the checking somewhere along the edges). After taking it out, I noticed there was a ridge on the top, didn’t think much about it and went about doing my clean up and getting the kitchen ready for the next day. After about an hour when I came back to see if it was cool enough to cut, I noticed that the ridge has now sunken and collapsed. OK—when I cut in the center, it was still a little gooey but not too bad, so cut around it and took it to work. Just for the record, nobody realized that some part of that bread was unbaked and everybody liked it.
So now I had a container of unbaked scraps which went into this yummy bread pudding this weekend. My googling for pumpkin bread pudding brought back results with regular bread and pumpkin added to the custard. But due to the circumstances I was in I had to do a role reversal and use pumpkin bread & simple custard. I cut down on the sugar used for the custard since there is enough sugar in the bread itself. I left the bread uncovered for almost half a day to dry them a little bit. I liked so much that may be next time I’ll bake the bread just to make this pudding.

Pumpkin bread – 2 cups, chopped
Egg – 1
Soymilk (Cream or half-n-half or milk) – 1½ cups
Sugar – 2-3tsp

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Whisk milk, sugar & egg in a small bowl.
  • Grease a baking dish and add chopped bread. Pour the prepared custard and let the bread soak for 10-15 minutes. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a tester inserted in the CENTER comes out clean. Enjoy warm.
P.S.: Recipe for Pumpkin bread coming up soon.

December 25, 2009

Andhra Meal on Christmas Eve

Wish you all a very Happy Christmas.

I made a traditional Andhra meal for our Christmas eve dinner. I just wanted to try some recipes from "Cooking at Home with Pedatha" and since I had the time and ingredients, I made three recipes last night.
Since I'm a eggplant fanatic, I made 2 types of Vankaya pachadlu (eggplant chutneys) and to keep us warm in this freezing temps, I made theeyati charu(Sweet Rasam). Very delicious meal, I have to say. Here's the picture of my plate:

Clockwise: Rice, Potato-Carrot Curry, Version1 Eggplant Chutney, Version 2 Eggplant Chutney, Rasam & Onion Pakoras

Eggplant Chutney - 2 ways

Version 1: This is a tangy, spicy chutney with tamarind, green & red chillies. I baked one large eggplant in 400F oven for 35-40 minutes and used half of the eggplant for each of the chutneys.

Eggplant - 1 large
Tamarind pulp - 2tbsp
Salt - to taste

For Tempering:
Urad dal (Minapappu) - 1tbsp
Mustard Seeds - 2tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Red chillies - 3
Green chillies - 3
Curry leaves - 10-12 (I didn't have these on hand)
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup chopped (didn't have these)
Asafoetida powder (hing) - 1tsp

  • Roast the eggplant directly on low flame till the skin turns black and starts cracking. Alternately bake it in the oven until well cooked through. Scrape the skin and mash well with a fork and set aside.
  • In a small sauce pan, heat 2tsp oil; add dal and as it turns golden, add the mustard and then the fenugreek seeds. Switch off the flame and with the browning of the fenugreek, add the red chillies. As they turn bright red, stir in the remaining ingredients for tempring.
  • Let this cool a bit and grind along with the tamarind pulp and salt into a coarse paste. Do not add water while grinding.
  • Add this paste to the eggplant pulp and mix well.
Serve with steamed rice and a dollop of ghee.
Version 2: Milky Eggplant Chutney (Iguru Pachadi)
This version has milk in it and is very mild and delicious.
Eggplant - 1 large
Milk - 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste

For Tempering
Urad dal (Minapappu) - 3/4tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Green chilies - 3, slit
Ginger - 1/2 tsp, grated
Coriander leaves - 1tbsp, chopped fine
Curry leaves - 6-7

  • Roast the eggplant; mash well and keep aside.
  • When the pulp has cooled, ad the milk and mix well.
  • In a small sauce pan; heat 1tbsp oil; add dal; as it turns golden, pop the mustard. Switch off the flame and add remaining ingredients for tempering.
  • Mis this tempering into the pulp. Add salt just before serving so that the milk does not curdle.
Serve with steamed rice.

Theeyati Charu (Sweet Rasam)
Toor dal (Kandi pappu) - 2tbsp
Tamarind - medium lemon sized ball
Jaggery - 2tbsp
Turmeric - 1/2tsp
Ginger - 2" piece, crushed
Garlic - 3 cloves, crushed
Ground coriander - 1/2tbsp
Ground Pepper - 1/2tbsp
Ground Cumin - 1/2tbsp
Rasam powder - 1tsp (optional, I used Ambika brand Rasam pd)
Salt - to taste

For Tempering:
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida powder (Hing) - 1/2 tsp

  • Grind toor dal into a fine powder.
  • In a medium sauce pan, add all the ingredients along with ground dal and 4-5 cups of water. Bring to boil. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Heat 1tbsp ghee in a small sauce pan; add tempering ingredients and once the seeds start to splutter, pour the tempering into the charu. Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve hot with steamed rice or enjoy as a soup.
This post is part of Recipe Marathon that kicks off a countdown to the new year. Nupur @ One Hot Stove has gathered 29 bloggers to participate in the marathon. This week is going to be packed with yummy recipes in the blogosphere.
As a bonus I gave you 3 recipes instead of one today :-) Hope you enjoy these Andhra dishes as much as we did.

December 18, 2009

Eggplant Potato fry

One of the advantages of living in New Jersey is the access to a large number of Indian groceries which carry Indian vegetables. But the problem I have is the Indian groceries that we have very close to us (only about 15 minutes away) are not up to my husband’s and my standards. The whole street is filled with Indian groceries, fast food centers, restaurants and what not. It reminds me of Koti or Sultan Bazaar in Hyderabad both it terms of shopping and the traffic. People walk at their own sweet little pace in the middle of the street and you will undoubtedly see at least one cocky guy trying to Parallel Park holding up the traffic both sides. My husband hates driving in that street and I dislike the condition of the groceries. So in the end we prefer to drive 30 miles south every 2 months to get to the Indian store we like. Eggplant is the first veggie I look for on these trips.
On our recent visit I found the long lean green eggplants and I bought 4 of them. My mom used to make this simple curry with potato and we had it tucked in a potato roll and it tasted pretty good even as a sandwich filling.

Eggplant – 4 (I used green skinny ones, you can Japanese eggplant instead)
Potatoes – 2 medium, diced
Onion – 1 medium, chopped fine
Green chilies – 2, slit in half
Curry powder – 1tsp (I used homemade curry powder)
Salt – to tatse

For tempering:
Chana dal – 1tsp
Urad dal – 1tsp
Mustard & Cumin seeds – 1tsp each
Curry leaves – 8-10

  • Heat 2tbsp oil in a sauté pan; add the tempering ingredients and once the seeds start to splutter add onions and green chilies, sauté till onions turn translucent.
  • Add eggplant and potato pieces; cover and cook on medium-low flame; stirring occasionally; until the veggies are cooked through, takes about 10-12 minutes.
  • Season with salt and chili powder, cook for another 2 minutes. Serve with rice or as a yummy sandwich filling.

December 15, 2009

Chegodilu for ICC

For this month’s Indian Cooking Challenge Srivalli chose Chegodi which is a yummy fried Andhra snack that I’ve never made at home before. I don’t recall my mom making them either, but I know it is a time consuming process and never dared to try it myself. But when Srivalli picked it for this month’s ICC, I was excited to make, so we can have freshly made home-made chegodilu. They turned out crunchy and delicious.

Here’s the recipe from Valli that I used:

Rice Flour - 1 cup
Water - 1 cup
Split Yellow Moong dal / Pesara pappu / Mung Dal / Pasiparuppu - 1 1/2tbsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Sesame Seeds - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Ghee or oil - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

  • To make the dough: Soak moong dal in water for half hour to 1 hour. In a deep bottom pan, boil water, then add salt, ghee and moong dal. Bring it to boil, simmer and slowly add the rice flour. Mix the flour with water by stirring it well. When the flour is mixed and done, turn off the heat immediately. Cover with lid and keep aside for 10 to 15 mins.
  • Once the dough is cool, add chilli powder, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and mix well. Knead till you get a smooth dough. Adjust the salt and spice depending on your preference.
  • Frying the Chegodi: Heat a pan with oil, enough to fry 3 -4 at time,temperature should not be smoking hot.
  • Grease your fingers with oil and pinch out a small lemon size ball and roll between your palms to form a thick rope. Bring the two ends to together and press to form a rope. Ensure the ends are firmed pressed as not to give out during frying.
  • Continue with the rest of the dough until you are done with the entire batch. You can either cover it with a plate or a cloth to prevent the dough from getting dried.
  • Check if the oil is in the correct temperature, by dropping a tiny bit into the oil. Then gently slide the rings or the chegodis in batches of 4 -5. The flame has to be on high until the chegodis come up to the surface, then lower the flame to medium and cook till you get a golden color on the chegodis.
  • When the chegodis are golden all over, using a slotted ladle, remove to a kitchen towel and cool. Store in an air tight container for longer shelf life.
Notes: Remember to turn the heat to medium to high and high to medium for getting the chegodis to golden color and also to be cooked evenly. Only this way you get crispy chegodis. These should not be cooked on low flame as they will absorb more oil and can turn soggy also at times.

December 11, 2009

Zucchini Soup

Did you ever have to fight with your 2 year old for anything? I did, this morning with my 2 year old to have him put on a heavier winter jacket, but he wanted his lightweight hoodie. I was pleading, begging, coercing, even threatening him to wear the jacket, but he did not budge, he was crying but he wouldn’t do it.. At the end of it I was totally exhausted and upset and wasn’t sure how and when he got this stubborn. I guess its part of growing up. After getting to work, I was talking to my manager about what happened and she mentioned about her 12 year old son who wears only sweat shirts to school and doesn’t want to wear a jacket. I thought to myself this fight is going to go on for a very long time – though in different ways, I guess I’ve to start getting used to it.
Coming to today’s recipe, I had zucchini soup in a restaurant called Crisp in NYC and really loved it. It’s a very simple dish with just zucchini, onion, herbs & broth-very flavorful and healthy too. I used sage to flavor the soup, but feel free to use any herb you have on hand.

Zucchini – 2 medium, peeled and chopped
Onion -1 small, chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Vegetable broth – 2 cups
Milk – ¼cup (optional)
Sage – 2tbsp, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper – to taste

  • Heat 1tbsp oil in a saucepan; add garlic & onions and cook till the onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Add zucchini; cover and cook for 5 minutes till they are slightly tender.
  • Add sage & broth; bring to a boil; lower the heat and simmer till the veggie is completely cooked, this shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
  • You can add milk and simmer for another 3 minutes at this stage to make the soup a little creamy, I added 2% milk.
  • Use an immersion blender and puree the soup to the consistency of your liking, I left it a little chunky (or use the blender instead). Serve hot with some bread and salad.
I served with spinach-pepper quiche & crescent rolls (Pillsbury brand-love the dough boy). This soup is of to Harini (Sunshinemom) @ Tumyum Treats who’s hosting this month’s Monthly Mingle-Soups, an event started by Meeta @ Whats for Lunch Honey.

December 08, 2009

Quinoa Pulihora (Lemon Quinoa)

After seeing a huge number of Indianized recipes made with Quinoa by the talented chefs at A2Zvegetariancuisine. I thought of making this nimmakaya pulihora or lemon quinoa. I’m extremely happy to say that the end result was awesome. I enjoyed it thoroughly for lunch, it’s a very filling and yummy dish.
Pic updated March 2013.
Quinoa – 1 cup
Roasted peanuts – 2tbsp
Chana dal – 1tsp
Urad dal – 1tsp
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Hing – ¼tsp
Curry leaves – 6-8
Dry Red Chilies – 2
Green chilies – 2, slit vertically
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Lemon/ Lime juice – 2tbsp or more to taste
Salt – to taste

  • Cook quinoa according to package directions; 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water. Add turmeric, 1tsp oil & salt to cooked quinoa, gently toss and set aside to cool.
  • In a small saucepan, heat 2tsp oil and add the tempering ingredients: chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, red chilies, hing and curry leaves. Once the seeds start to splutter add the roasted peanuts and green chilies, sauté for a minute and add this to cooked quinoa.
  • Squeeze the lemon juice and gently mix to combine all the ingredients, make sure not to make quinoa mushy. Enjoy with a dollop of yogurt.


December 03, 2009

Masala Naan Pizza

I usually keep store-bought naans for impromptu guests and lazy weeknight dinners. All I need to make is a curry and dinner is served. But these naans are also great as pizza bases and also to make paninis. So with the masala naans I had on hand, I made these pizzas, very quick and filling.

Naans – 2
Pizza sauce – ¼ cup, homemade or store- bought, I used Bertolli Tomato-Basil pasta sauce
For the topping:
Onion – 2 tbsp chopped
Peppers – ¼ cup chopped
Frozen chopped Spinach – ¼ cup thawed
Mozzarella cheese & Feta Cheese

  • Toppings can be placed raw and baked for a crunchy pizza or can be sautéed in 2tsp oil till cooked through and then baked on the pizza. I did the latter, I sautéed all my toppings with 1 minced garlic clove.
  • To make the pizza: Place naans on a foil lined baking pan; spread the tomato sauce; add the toppings and mozzarella cheese & feta cheese. Bake in a 400°F oven for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. I made another pizza with just the tomato sauce, mozzarella & feta cheeses.



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