Saturday, August 29, 2009

a balanced three course meal..truly desivideshi

There are loads of soup and breakfast recipes on this blog of mine but there are very few complete meal recipes. I believe in one pot meals absolutely and with my kind of life I find them workable too. So no three course meals for us unless entertaining guests. I actually need to work around more meals under 30 minutes considering my routine.

healthy 3 course meal under 30 minutes

I never eat my desserts with the meal. Desserts are mostly fruits or yogurt based simple things. So when the three course meal challenge from Yasmeen came, I had to actually plan a meal so that it does not cause overeating. In our country meals are served as a spread, a thali having numerous katoris which does not confirm the norm of courses.

We are small eaters and a starter, a main course and a dessert is never finished at a time (or may be a routine of one pot meals has left me with a habit of serving large portions) so I planned a meal which has small servings of a starter and a dessert with a normal serving of chapati and sabzi.

Also, I wanted the meal to be a true 'desivideshi' meal.

Ohh and the meal is not to be an elaborate work in the kitchen. I just can't afford that right now.

Tomato grilled with mozzarella and basil as a starter

Methi matar malai and chapatis for the main course

Jaggery fudge with flax, sesame and coconut as a dessert which is a completely desi dessert

the starter was a simple tomato, mozzarella, basil (insalata caprese) served in a different way.

warm insalata caprese

To make this, cut the tomato in 2 halves and scoop out the flesh n seeds, rub the insides with a little salt and pepper and fill it with a few scrapings of mozzarella cheese, about the size of a lemon in each half.

Mince a clove of garlic and stash it in between the cheese shavings, dividing equally between the two halves of tomato, it made two small servings.

Tear two leaves of fresh basil, and stash the bits into the cheese. 

Pour a little extra virgin olive oil into each half tomato ( 1/4 tsp each).

Sprinkle a little red chilly flakes on top of it and microwave for two minutes or till the cheese melts and bubbles for the first time.

The tomato gets mushy and the cheese inside become full of flavor, very aromatic and pleasing to the senses.

The astringent tomato prepares your palate for the meal.

main course was methi matar malai with some sweet corn thrown in, made low fat and served with chapati made with whole wheat and soya solids ( leftovers after making soy milk)...

for methi matar malai I used frozen fenugreek leaves, minced, one cup
boiled green peas half cup and sweet corns half a cup too
apart from these
ghee 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
fresh cream 2 tbsp ( I use home made malai)
coarse onion paste 1/2 cup
ginger, garlic and green chilly paste 2 tbsp
fresh tomato paste 1/2 cup
everyday curry powder 2 tsp
garam masala powder 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
whole milk 1/2 cup
salt to taste

low fat methi matar malai recipe

To proceed heat ghee in a kadhai and throw in the cumin seeds, wait till they crackle and add the onion paste and salt and stir fry till translucent, add the ginger garlic green chili paste and stir till the mixture gets cooked.

Throw in the everyday curry powder, turmeric powder and garam masala powder with a dash of water to allow even roasting of the masala as it is being fried in very less amount of ghee.

When the spice mix gets aromatic, mix in the fenugreek and dill mince. Stir and add the tomato paste too and keep cooking till the mixture gets homogenized and a cooked through aroma emanates.

Throw in the peas and corn, 1/2 cup of whole milk, mix and cook covered till little ghee droplets appear on top.

Add the malai, mix well and cook covered for a minute. Ttake off the heat and keep covered for about 5 minutes..

Serve hot with chapatis, naan or any flat bread. This methi matar malai is very aromatic and flavorful...

low fat methi matar malai recipe

And this much quantity was enough for six servings, so do not worry about the cream and ghee, divide by 6 and be happy..

For chapatis click here for a detailed chapati tutorial...

now comes the dessert..

I like everything made with jaggery and my mother and grandmother used to make many types of laddoos and barfis using jaggery and sesame, flax seeds, and coconut. I made the recipe simpler but the taste is essentially the same. So this is a quick jaggery fudge which is my own invention to satiate my cravings without toiling in the kitchen.......

See what I did..

4 tbsp of grated jaggery (to make two servings)
2 tsp each of whole flax seeds and sesame seeds
a few shavings of dry coconut (just a few)
4-6 long thin slivers of fresh ginger root
a tsp of lemon juice

Place everything in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high till it bubbles. Serve hot. It becomes liquid when ready but it becomes thick and gooey till you finish your meal and is just perfect in the end. Warm and fudgy, a melting pot of flavors and textures.

quick jaggery fudge with seeds and ginger

Tell me if you don't like it, or otherwise too.

I am so glad I could send this to the Healthnut challenge hosted by Yasmeen of Healthnut as I find it very difficult to participate in events. First I forget which blog is hosting what, then I forget the dates and finally I find it too much of a hard work to mail all the links etc.

The daily chores as a caregiver and a full time nurse to my daughter doesn't leave me with much enthusiasm but it makes me happy if I am able to take part in these blog challenges.

My photographs may be awfully ugly but the food is truly a simple nutritious meal which anyone can afford to cook and serve at home with love..

Thursday, August 27, 2009

sweet corn n basil soup

this is one delicious soup which is so refreshing you will discard the bread pieces served with it........yes even i did that......the flax seed bread ( which is tasty otherwise of course) which i clicked with the soup and intended to eat with it, were kept aside for later use ......

just the hot soup which is sweet , with a fresh aroma of basil from my garden and an occasional kick from the green chillies......i am happy with this soup for one more reason though.

my husband, who otherwise doesn't like soup for dinner , is a complete sucker for this has corn in it and he likes corn in any form.......i am yet to post my various corn adventures here ....this soup i made almost a month back and i am thinking if i am a lazy bum to delay posting recipes many of them are waiting in my drafts as i make all meals at home and photograph at least two of them daily......clicking them has now become a routine as do not bother much about the right lighting and background etc. and i am enjoying doing so........but they do not translate to this blog somehow...........the reasons seem to be like lame excuses ( to myself ) but the current happenings in my life keep me so occupied that i am happy and contented with just feeding my family good food........all of that will surely come to this space and that is my promise to myself.......

writing like this seems like i do not care about my readers , of course i do......i am tremendously encouraged and motivated by all the people who come here and comment , but i'll be honest in admitting that whatever i post here is completely for my own pleasure......i find pleasure here even though there are lots of pains surrounding it's worth all the more. seems posting about this soup is going to refresh me by unclogging my thoughts......I told you na!!'s worth......

the soup is simple.......a cup of sweet corn kernels, 2 cloves of garlic and a small piece of ginger are processed in a blender, until coarsely ground,and then mixed with 2 cups of water in a pan and simmered on medium flame .......stirring constantly.....add salt n pepper to taste during cooking ( will take about 5 minutes to cook completely) and just when it is half done throw in some torn fresh basil leaves and chopped green chillies much as you want.........i use the bigger green chillies which are less hot n provide a chilly flavor...............let the flavors seep in and pour in you soup bowls to enjoy.........finish with a tsp of fresh cream..stir and enjoy...........i actually kept those bread slices aside ...dint feel like having them...the soup is a standalone enjoyment.........absolutely.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

stirfried baby corns with caremalised onions

corns of any shape size and form are A's favorite , and whenever i see baby corns i can't stop myself from buying it.......i like it in soups, with pasta dishes , pakode and tempura and what has immense possibilities...
this stirfry is simple and yum....if you like caramelized onions , then it'll become your favorite style of stirfrying is suitable for all veggies which remain firm and crunchy after broccoli and cauliflowers and even cabbage if you don't overcook it.


baby corns chopped in slanted slices ( to absorb more flavors) 1.5 cup
onions chopped in slices 3/4 cup
garlic and ginger chopped in julienne 1 tbsp each
green chillies slit 2 nos.
salt and pepper to taste
dark soya sauce 1 tsp
oil 1 tsp


heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and throw in the chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies and then the onions...add salt at this stage to allow the onions to get browned faster......let the onions get lightly browned , till then the garlic n ginger also release their flavors in the mixture ...

after this add the chopped baby corns n pepper ....mix well and cook covered if the baby corns are a bit mature ( like i used here) ...if the BC's are tender , they just need 2 minutes of further cooking.........

finish with soya sauce...mix well before turning the heat off.....

we had it with multigrain roti......will be good with noodles or brown rice too.

roti or chapati is a staple at our place and we can have any kind of veggie preparation with them.....try rolling this inside a chapati or tortilla .....and tell me..

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ghee fried peppery okra / bhindi

Baby okra or all the okra or bhindi that we grow in the garden which is tender always, should be cooked in minimum possible seasoning. Once you have the freshest of vegetables you would not want to drown them into spices and seasonings. It is better to retain the natural bite and flavours so you get the taste of the vegetables better.

ghee fried peppery baby okra

So tender baby okra is always cooked quickly in my kitchen. This ghee fried peppery okra is the most common and is cooked almost everyday when there is okra growing in the garden. And yet we don;t get bored of it.

We like with either chapatis or daal chawal. It is just fried quickly in ghee, without any tempering on low flame and once the okra pieces look translucent you add the salt and pepper, toss a little bit and serve right away.

Recipe of this ghee fried peppery okra is the quickest...

1 tbsp of ghee for 500 gm bhindi is all cooking fat you need. 
Frying on low flame ensures better frying if using less ghee.
You can always use more ghee and fry quickly on high flame.
Just as the okra gets lightly browned or half cooked, add salt and lots of pepper.
Give it a good toss and it is ready..

I believe some of the best recipes are the most simple ones where the essence and flavor of the main ingredient is preserved. Here it is enhanced by ghee. Try it I am sure you'd love it.

In most north Indian homes bhindi is fried till completely browned. It is not the right way to cook bhindi. The mucilage in okra is good for the digestive gut and should not be destroyed by overcooking it.

Cooking it quickly over high flame with a bit more ghee or on low flame slowly with very little ghee ensures the mucilage is not destroyed and the okra stays good for health, or is not killed by over cooking as I say.

You can use baby okra whole for this ghee fried peppery okra. Just remove the cap and give it a slit if you wish, or chop the okra in small bits if you have long but tender okra. 

Saturday, August 8, 2009

tofu with lemon n basil

after using my garden fresh lemons in the lemon chicken successfully, the next step was to use it with other ingredients......jackie suggested lemongrass by showing me this and i came up with tofu with my lemons...lemon grass is so costly n i regret i don't have it in my garden....have to get it now....i had made a large block of tofu at home to try a recipe by another blogger friend, which i made later( coming very soon) and could not wait to try the lemon n basil with was fresh , tangy and just perfect to enlighten you......i need that sometimes....most of the times...:) :)

the recipe is simple and as i always say ...quick.......for the first time i was using fried tofu n was very very on...

( for 2 servings)

basil about 20 leaves
black peppercorns about 20 nos.
fat garlic cloves 4 nos.
(make a coarse paste of these three ingredients n keep aside)
tofu cut in strips 1 cup ( about 200 gm)
zest of 2 lemons ( green colored lemons are good for this, other wise use lemongrass)
juice of one lemon
one inch piece of ginger cut in thin Julienne
longer variety of green chillies ( mild ones) 4-5 nos. chopped( or jalapeno)
salt to taste
oil 1 tbsp + 1 tsp ( i used sunflower oil)

the recipe is simple yet make it low fat i shallow fried the tofu strips in a non stick pan.....i rarely use my nonstick pan but i thought tofu will absorb a lot of oil when deep fried, had never fried tofu before ..........shallow frying worked very well and it was done in just 1 tbsp of oil tossing n turning the pieces once in a while to make it pinkish brown all over......

as soon as the tofu gets browned , remove from heat and sprinkle half of the lemon zest and half the ginger juliennes to it, toss and let the flavors infuse till you proceed with the sauce..........

meanwhile, make a coarse paste of basil leaves , black peppercorns and garlic cloves by blitzing them in the grinder for a minute........

heat the remaining 1 tsp of oil in a pan and throw in the chopped chillies and remaining ginger juliennes .......fry for a minute and then dunk in the coarsely ground basil mix......stir for a minute with salt and add water mixed with lemon juice ( a tsp of sugar can be added if you like it a bit sweet...but i like the hot n sour flavor better )...

let it boil and dunk in the tofu strips..........another boil and cover the pan , take off the heat and keep covered for 5 minutes to soak in the can add dissolved cornflour to make a glaze but i avoid cornflour...your choice.....the recipe was a bit juicy........n tangy......

the thing i learnt after frying tofu is that fried tofu absorbs the flavors well ...unlike paneer...

the amount of lemon zest and juice can be adjusted according to taste and variety of lemon.........

we enjoyed it with chapatis but it can be good with fried rice too...........or a sandwich filling if made dry....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

whole wheat breads, buns and challah ; the way I bake them in microwave

making absolutely healthy and maida free bread at home is very much possible and those who have tasted my breads have either tried making them or have been asking for the recipes.....i had posted about breads earlier , but i promised them to post about easy fuss free bread making, but before that i wanted to share an interesting thing with you all..........

recently, i received a compliment on my cooking and blogging about my easy fuss free of my friend's who follows me up to date and tries my recipes , said that ...what Baba Ramdev has done to yoga in India , you have done to healthy cooking for a lot of people was well recognized and practiced in the west but the common man of India started practicing it after the saffron clad guru made it simple to understand even for a layman( i agree that the baba has popularized pranayama in our country like nobody else but i do not agree to most of his antics....)...this is what she is a huge complement for me , and coming from a 50 plus aged lady from a well known literary family...this complement comes as a booster dose to my enthusiasm..............

baking has not been a traditional method of cooking in India and the cakes, cookies and the breads are here due to British influence.....more like a global influence in the recent times though.....most people of middle age, especially the home cooks are unaware that a good loaf of bread can be baked at home.......i find people my age and even younger ask me again n again if i really bake a bread........they find it unbelievable.........also people think that you need some special equipment or pans to bake breads at home..........i wanted to tell few of my real life friends that you need not buy expensive pans or tins to make a other words i want to tell all my friends , how good nutritious breads can be made at home with just a microwave or a conventional oven....or even on a gas stove........many of my friends and family members have requested me about this and though i have posted about bread making before on this blog....i want to simplify the procedure even more.............hope you all like it.............

i just wanted to justify the huge complement...that comparison to Baba Ramdev....:D:D..

BTW, today i watched the baba being interviewed by koel purie ( i think this is how she spells her name) was a big put off.......koel was asking about sex...why baba has been advocating celibacy or bramhacharya and why sex is a character killing activity ...these words are mine though...:D:D..........koel looked absolutely idiotic ...giggling while asking about sex......and for baba, saks ( ie. sex) should be done once or twice in life just to continue the progeny........i switched off the TV....

coming back to the bread....should i be happy being compared to baba.........yes i am, it's about making the things uncomplicated and simple....talking about them in a simple language.........
so dear , as soon as you decide to bake a bread , get yourself some our country, at least the places i've been in getting fresh yeast is have to find a good bakery n ask them for it.....they will give you the whole 500 gm pack( which lasts 3 months if i bake bread on a weekly basis, i revive the yeast after some time, that i'll share how...).

buy fresh yeast only when you plan to bake breads regularly, otherwise dry yeast is available comparatively easily and in small packets which is economical for occasional bread baking........fresh yeast looks like this.....

you just take a tbsp of this crumbly yeast, dissolve it in 1/4 cup of lukewarm water n 1 tbsp of sugar...keep in a warm place n wait till it becomes frothy...go ahead to prepare the dough after this ( this is called proofing the yeast).

mix the yeast with a cup of soaked daliya ( overnight) , or grind the daliya in mixie, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, a tbsp of sugar and a tsp of salt, coarsely powdered flaxseeds and sesame seeds are optional , but they make the bread more nutritious n tasty ...add 2 tbsp of each if using....and make a soft dough using lukewarm water or milk.......( rolled oats and soybean flour also can be added to the bread dough but take care to maintain a ratio of 50% whole wheat flour and the other flours making the other 50% of the dough).......... knead it to make the dough a bit elastic, cover and wait till double in takes 10 minutes to rise in Indian summers and around 1/2 hour in winters when you keep it over a warm water bath........the whole procedure takes about an hour, may be more if you are baking many loaves at a time..........................

in the picture below you can see whole wheat flour, soybean paste leftover after making soymilk, soaked daliya, flax and sesame seed powders being mixed to make bread dough........

ghee,oil , or butter can be added during kneading the dough but i don't add any fat.....the only fat i add to the dough is when i knead it the second time after doubling in size.........smear your palms with ghee( i use ghee) or oil and knead the dough again...this time the dough is sticky and you need to apply ghee on your palms a few times before making the dough smooth.....

also, the bread made this way...that is, without butter and gluten it's not very soft.......but it is fluffy and medium soft...try it and then tell me, i think for an Indian household it's the best bread.....

now if you want to make bread without a bread pan....just make small round buns and place then in a baking tray for conventional oven and a glass or ceramic plate for a microwave.....the buns will become double or triple in size so keep space between them....wait till they increase in size and then proceed to bake them...........grease the buns with ghee before baking to keep them soft....another round of greasing the buns is advisable just after baking the buns on a wire rack or on a sieve..........

in conventional oven you have to bake them till they brown on medium heat ( check with a skewer) and in a microwave they take about 5 minutes on high for a batch of 10 buns at high....after this preheat the grill and allow the bun tops to brown under it............though the buns can be consumed without browning too n taste the same....

here i have used flaxseeds and sesame seeds for garnish the buns which is optional.( i think it is better to powder them because they are better metabolized by the system that way) the next pic the buns have powdered seeds n it's visible.......also the buns are shaped bigger and oblong, you can see three buns can be accommodated in a full plate ......and baked similarly.....

slice the buns obliquely or longitudinally to get slices of desired size........

after slicing they look like this...see how fluffy and airy the bread is.........

see the bread being served with fried eggs...for a quick healthy breakfast....don't get scared of my huge chai..( being served in bear mugs).

warm the buns in microwave or toast them and enjoy just with's never appreciate a store bought bread after you taste this......

and now you can make even a zopf bread which is nothing but a breaded bread( traditionally made in Switzerland) like a choti....see this........all indian women can make breads in a bread....

this breaded bread is made of daliya , whole wheat n ground seeds , that's why the texture of the bread is not smooth.....when you make this kind of bread with only all purpose flour or maida get a perfectly smooth zopf bread......

tell me now if you still need a bread pan or a baking loaf tin???

and even if you don't have a oven or a microwave, make pita breads or kulchas.....on the tawa ..
just make thick roundels and bake on the tawa both side on low heat till in the fridge for a week and enjoy........

i think i have explained it well and if you have some more queries you can ask me over the phone ( yeah, the people who come n comment here are all good bakers and i have seen exotic breads on their blogs.....i need a word of encouragement from them too.... the people who need my advice are the ones whom i talk to n they are welcome over phone..)...

waiting for the responses ...i am tired of typing n uploading pics now.........enjoy the breads n tell me...