Sunday, November 28, 2010

grapefruit and tomato chutny...fresh and simple...

I have a grapefruit tree in my garden and it rewards me with at least a dozen fruits every season . This might have been a huge tree if the branches were not lopped off periodically . A dozen grapefruits are plenty if you have seen Indian grapefruits ( i haven't seen them from other countries ) but the good thing is , they ripen up one by one . Well almost a couple of them is ready at a time and i get a continuous supply of great tasting grapefruits for almost 5 months . A few of the fruits are gifted away whenever someone seems interested in this tough to peel fruit . It is a bit tough to peel off the white pith surrounding the segments in the variety growing in my garden .

Two of the grapefruits of this season are still on the tree , yellow and ripe for plucking , or they will fall off and get damaged . Someone on my other blog wanted to see the pictures of the grapefruit and i was reminded of this recipe waiting in my drafts .


 These are the pretty and pink juicy placenta ( edible parts of citrus family ) ...great for my fruit salads and now this wonderful chutney ...


The chutney is not a cooked recipe and as my other chutneys it is a quick accompaniment to my dosas and poodas for weekend breakfasts . Here it is served with a besan pooda which is made healthier by adding some rolled oats to the batter .

Talking about the chutney , a cup of chopped tomatoes , two cups of these separated segments of grapefruit , 5-6 cloves of garlic , 4-5 green chillies , salt to taste and a quick blitz in my trusted mixie ... that's it .
The chutney is a wonderfully fresh tangy juicy dip for a crisp dosa or this leathery pooda made using minimal ghee for cooking .



 Orange segments can be a great substitute for this chutney and the color will depend on the fruit used of course . The bright red grapefruits of the temperate countries will make a nice crimson chutney ...

Cheers ...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

potato salad with dill and mustard dressing...

I know you would say there is too much dill into this potato salad . It is not a salad for you if you do not like dill but if you love the freshness of dill you would be repeating this salad all through the dill season ....


Dill season here in India is the time when new potatoes start appearing into the markets , that is , the onset of winters . Baby new potatoes are so good for this fresh green salad ... yes , potatoes for a green salad .

Okay you have to love the spring onions too to like this salad ...

The dressing ...

English mustard 2 tbsp
lemon juice 1 tbsp 
chopped green chillies 1 tbsp
finely chopped garlic 1 tsp
salt n pepper to taste
mustard oil or toasted sesame oil 2 tsp

salad ingredients...

boiled and sliced baby potatoes 3 cups
sliced spring onions  lower halves only 1 cup
chopped dill leaves 3/4 cup or as much you like

procedure...

Mix the dressing ingredients and give a good shake .

Throw in the dill leaves and mix well , leave for a good ten minutes .

Toss in the spring onions and sliced potatoes , adjust seasonings and serve immediately .


The salad can be a great lunch option with some chips or crackers ( healthy ones of course ) , a great stuffing for pita pockets and as a side dish with an Indian lunch . With roasted papads they are great conversation food....keep on breaking bits of papads and scooping up the potato salad .....


  A small bite for you...


Cheers....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

broccoli and tofu in a hot , sweet n sour sauce .....

Who doesn't like color on the dining table ??
Choosing healthy colorful vegetables for a saucy indo-chinese vegetable dish is such a bright idea . Lowering the corn flour and eliminating the MSG ( soy sauce also has some MSG though ) doesn't make the dish bland and boring as many of us think . This dish was made for dinner and the night time pictures are so bright and shiny you can imagine how a little corn flour for glaze goes a long way if you choose brightly colored vegetables and cook them rightly..... 



ingredients...
( for 3-4 servings )

broccoli florets 12-15 nos.
slivered broccoli stalks 1 cup
tofu 100 gm cubed
spring onions 3 nos ( bulbs and lower halves only )
baby tomatoes 4 nos.
pineapple juice 200 ml ( i used from tetra pack )
white vinegar ( or any other of your choice ) 1 tbsp
tomato ketchup 1 tbsp
dark soy sauce 1 tsp
corn flour 1 tsp
black pepper powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
ginger finely chopped 1 tbsp
garlic finely chopped 1 tbsp
green chillies finely chopped 1 tbsp ( or to taste )
whole dry red chilly 1-2 nos.
sesame or extra virgin olive oil 2 tsp + 2 tsp + 2 tsp


procedure...

Quarter the tomatoes . Slice the spring onions . Blanch the broccoli and keep everything aside.

Dissolve the corn flour with 2 tbsp of water , vinegar ,the soy sauce and tomato ketchup , add salt n pepper, keep aside.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a shallow pan and arrange the tofu pieces in a single layer to fry them , flip and fry on the other side too . It will absorb all the oil and get porous and spongy . This way tofu absorbs all the flavor of the soup or sauce . Deep frying is optional but i do this more often to minimize oil in the recipe.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a deep pan and throw in the broccoli stems first . I like the stems thoroughly cooked but if you like them crunchy you can add them later. After the broccoli stems start sweating add the chopped spring onions and toss to cook .Take care not to make them mushy as they need to remain firm textured . Add the blanched broccoli and toss and stir to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the quartered tomatoes , toss to mix and transfer the contents to a bowl.

In the same pan add the remaining 2 tsp of oil and throw in the broken red chillies first , wait for a second and then add the chopped green chilies , ginger and garlic . Wait till everything is fried well , then add the dissolved cornflour and the sauces ( stir it well before adding it to the pan as the corn flour tends to settle down )..

Let the mixture come to a boil , add the pine apple juice and all the fried vegetables ( cubed fresh pine apple pieces taste great with it too ) , mix well and let them come to a quick boil . Empty into the serving bowl and garnish with green coriander leaves if you must . I did not bother with it this time and it was a yummy dinner with some warm garlic bread .


Fried tofu is extremely spongy and soaks up the flavors very well , good news for tofu haters . Broccoli was crunchy and the tomatoes a bit squishy but undercooked and fresh inside . Spring onions and broccoli stems are well done and make a kind of base to this soupy saucy dish . Make it thinner and have it as a soup as we do it many times . Another variation is using just a lot of fresh cubed pineapples instead of the juice and making the dish dryish .... we love it any which way ........interesting textures dipped and wrapped in a yummy hot-sweet-sour sauce ...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

herbed chicken with cashew nuts

I have been posting so many vegetarian recipes that my blog looks like a vegetarian blog now.... There are a few chicken and fish recipe in my drafts but I like vegetables so much that every time I decide to post something I choose a vegetarian dish invariably .


This chicken stir fry is high on greens too as usual , i am so obsessed with including greens in all my meals . Here i used three herbs of my choice , sweet basil , mint and coriander greens ...a fresh aromatic dish with interesting textures .....

ingredients...

chicken 500 gm ( any portions , on bone or boneless )
mint leaves 1 cup
basil leaves chopped 3/4 cup
coriander leaves with stalks and roots 1 cup
green chillies 5 nos. or more if you wish
ginger garlic paste 2 tbsp
black pepper powder 1 tsp
fresh curds 1/2 cup
salt to taste
ghee 1 tbsp
toasted cashew nuts chopped 2 tbsp



procedure...

Make a paste of the herbs and green chillies together , keep aside .

Mix together the curds , ginger garlic paste , salt n pepper and add chicken to coat the pieces . Keep covered for 15 minutes .

Heat ghee in a pan and pour the chicken pieces along with the marinade into it , stir fry keeping the mixture moist all the time . Sprinkle water if it gets dry . Cook covered , tossing once in a while and adding water if needed ... the chicken should be 3/4th done before adding the green paste.

Add the green paste and mix well ... adjust salt and keep tossing and cooking till the flavors of the herbs are absorbed into the chicken . The herb paste is added after almost cooking the chicken because more heating will destroy the freshness of the herbs ( the aromatic essential oils will escape the pan ) ..

Add the chopped cashew nuts in the last to finish the dish , adjust water if you need some saucy gravy or keep it dry like this...


Apart from the aroma and flavors of the herbs , this chicken has a nice tangy taste imparted by the curds , you can use lemon too and i have used lemon juice and zest with great flavors many times ....... whatever you feel like . Heat is low this time as i wanted the herbs to shine through although i add whole black peppers sometimes with great result ...try that you would love it .

I made the dish for dinner that day and the pictures look dark but be assured for the flavors it has . A simple quick recipe for instant gratification .... some roomali roti to go with it .... or any thin chapatis you can manage ... if you are using boneless chicken , it's a great filling for sandwiches or kathi rolls ...

cheers !!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

sweet potatoes and water chestnut salad

Here is a salad recipe with two oft neglected seasonal vegetables . Sweet potatoes and singhara , while sweet potatoes will be available for some more time this season , singhara is going to vanish very soon.

Water Chestnut or Water Caltrop in english , paniphal in bengali , singhara in hindi , also called as Bull Nut or Singhara Nut , it is a common fasting food in the North of India . Sweet potato is another fasting food and this salad can be a great option for the navratri fasting for Hindus . Sweet potato or shakarkand , as it called in hindi , is considered very healthy and nutritious food worldwide but remains neglected by most of us . This salad is so yummy that it makes you forget that you are eating a fat free and yet very filling , nutrition packed meal .


Sweet potatoes are boiled with skin and sliced to make this yummy sweet and sour salad , Singhara is used uncooked as it was very tender . It is important to note that Singhara nut should not be boiled if it is tender .The use of Singhara nut is optional here and can be replaced with boiled baby potatoes with excellent results . Baby potatoes and sweet potatoes will absorb the flavors more readily and will be transformed with the dressing , while Singhara pieces are not as absorbent if used uncooked . If the Singharas are mature it is best to boil them and that will be another story for this kind of salad , so if you are lucky to get mature Singharas for this salad , boil them under pressure for a couple of minutes , peel the outer skin and use for best results.

For my salad i microwaved the sweet potatoes and kept the Singharas uncooked .


the dressing ...
 (For two servings using 2 cups each of singhara and sweet potatoes )

lemon juice 1 tbsp
freshly crushed black pepper corns 1 tsp
rock salt to taste
finely chopped green chillies to taste
sugar 1/2 tsp
chopped coriander leaves 1-2 tbsp

Mix the dressing ingredients together and toss the sliced sweet potatoes and singhara pieces and serve immediately . Coriander leaves can be replaced with dill leaves or both the herbs can be used if you like .


This is a really yummy salad and you will see it vanishing in no time.... crushed roasted peanuts or almonds are a great addition if you are having this salad as a standalone meal....


Here is the version of the same salad with boiled new baby potatoes , boiled singhara nuts and a few crushed peanuts . I like the sweet potato version more and will have it any day for a healthy lunch .

Children would love it i know , it's so much like a chaat for them ..... i have seen the street vendors in Delhi selling a shakarkand chaat but i have never gathered the courage to have that , have heard many people liking it .... i would like that too if that is better than this one ..anybody here who has tasted that dilli wali shakarkandi chaat ???

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

amla chutney | mashed Indian gooseberry with mustard and turmeric



Amla (Indian gooseberry) is in season and I have started making fresh chutneys with it. Amla chutney is my way to supplement my winter meals with more oomph and some Vitamin C. This amla chutney was something my grandmother used to make almost twice every week and we used to have it on every possible bread or cracker we could lay our hands on.

Full of Vitamins C, Carotenoids, Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron and many more health benefits, amla is supposed to be a great antioxidant food good for kaya kalpa (rejuvenation), it helps cleansing the system and tones the GI tract as per Naturopathy practitioners. No wonder this is an essential ingredient in many kitchens all over India including mine, in some or the other form. I used to add an amla to my daughters khichdi every day. Adding an amla to your daals (or lentil soups) is a great idea to incorporate some seasonal goodness to your meals...


I make this chutney every year and use it as a side subzi in fact (like a bharta). This is my grandmother's recipe and she used to make large quantities of this, although it used to last only a couple of days sometimes. Recipe is simple but the end product is very versatile in it's use.
Read on...


ingredients...
amla (Indian gooseberries) 250 gm
yellow mustard seeds 1.5 tbsp
ginger chopped 2 tbsp
garlic cloves 15 or more
green chillies 10 or more
salt to taste
turmeric powder 1.5 tbsp (preferably organic)
mustard oil 2 tsp

procedure ....

Boil the amla using a cup of water till they are soft and yield to touch. The segments of amla should get disintegrated when pressed. Reserve the water.


Make a powder of mustard seeds, add all the other ingredients except mustard oil into the mixie jar and make a fine paste, adding the amla water.

Add the boiled amla segments and make a paste with it, add the mustard oil and the mash/chutney is ready.

It tastes better the next day but it can be consumed right away, we like the chutney with any meal that we have planned for the day. The day I photographed it we had Bathua parathas with it. Just smear the mash over the parathas like you spread butter on bread, roll up and enjoy.

Or have with methi paratha and some stir fry vegetables like this..


Or if you are like me, wrap the chutney smeared parathas around a slaw salad. Here I have used slivers of radish and spring onions dressed in English mustard as a filling .... yummy...


I get many requests for lunch box ideas and this combo can be a great option for that. This wrap can be assembled at the time of consumption and the chutney and salad can be packed separately if packing for a lunch box.

This amla chutney has survived all the dips, ketchups and sauces that have invaded the markets and we love it till the amla season lasts here in the north of India. The true amla chutney that has passed the test of time as well as competition from the modern convenient packaged stuff. It is useful for cleansing the body, improving immunity, toning up the GI tract and is packed with antioxidants and anti inflammatory properties. Please let me know whenever you try this one.

Cheers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

multi grain khichdi ....... making a simple dish exciting...

I have been puzzled for long about why khichdi is considered a sick man's food . This is my comfort food and my comfortable zone in the khichri land is when khichri is just about to turn into a soup . The only problem in my adult life has been my husband's strict aversion to this wonderful food . Now he is a convert thankfully and i am so happy and relieved to see him asking for second helpings . He was initiated into the land of khichri by first introducing new types of tahiri , then the tahiri started including some bean sprouts and even daals , i have a lot of tahiris in my drafts and will share them soon . So the tahiri became a bhuni khichri and then gradually he has started appreciating a good khichri , so much so that this multi grain khichri with a few coarse grains became a favorite with him . Now you know how to convert a khichri snob into a khichri lover....


This soupy version of khichdi has been my favorite since childhood and even during the sick days the soupy mung khichdi with nimbu ka achar ( lemon pickled with salt ) used to be the only respite from the smelly tonics and tablets . I remember clearly how i did not like the bourbon biscuit and preferred khichdi to revive my taste buds during sickness . A hot clear chicken soup comes a close second for the purpose but during those days i was a staunch vegetarian....

Recently both of us were not well and a khichri was an easy and convenient option to cook .......... it is so sensible to call it a sick man's food i understand now :) ...... the husband even requested for this khichri and when i showed her the ingredients he was surprised to know how the coarse grains can be so yummy.... the trick to make a good khichri with unconventional grains is in choosing the right daal for the specific mix of the grains . The seasonings should depend upon the season the mood and the kind of sickness if you choose to have khichri for that purpose. Accompaniments of the khichri can be as frugal as a salt pickled lemon or an array of bhartas , raitas , pickles , papads and ghee ........

This khichri and the sides are healthy and hearty .......truly a soul food.

ingredients....

red rice 1 tbsp
brown rice 1 tbsp
pearl barley 1.5 tbsp
white basmati rice 1 tbsp
red lentils 1 tbsp
mung daal 1.5 tbsp
chana daal ( split chickpeas ) 1tbsp
garlic chopped 1 tbsp
red chill powder 1 tsp
cumin powder 2 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
asafoetida a pinch
salt to taste
ghee 1 tbsp
whole cumin seeds 2 tsp

procedure..........

 Mix all the grains and the lentils , add a liter of water , salt to taste and turmeric powder . Cook in  a pressure cooker for 3 minutes after the first whistle . Or cook in a stock pot for about 45 minutes skimming the frothy scum . Adjust the amount of water after cooking according to the required consistency . I add a bit more water to make it thinner....

Heat the ghee in a pan and throw in the asafoetida , cumin seeds and chopped garlic . Wait till the garlic becomes pink , take the pan off heat and add the cumin powder and the red chilly powder .Let he powders sizzle for a second and then pour the ghee and the tempering into the khichdi . Mix well and cover immediately to improve the flavor further.

Serve hot with the choice of sides . I served it with baingan-tamatar ka chokha and kheera pyaz boondi ka raita ......

for baingan tamatar ka bharta .......

Roasted a medium sized egg plant over gas flame till the skin is charred and the flesh is cooked . Similarly two tomatoes were roasted over gas flame . The charred skins were peeled off from the eggplant and the tomatoes and the flesh was mashed . To this was added generous amounts of finely chopped ginger garlic green chillies and some onions , a dash of mustard oil and salt to taste and mixed to serve warm or cold .

for kheera pyaz boondi ka raita .....

finely chopped ( not grated ) cucumber and onions were mixed together with thick fresh curds . Sprinkled some roasted cumin and asafoetida powder , salt and pepper , some boondi and mixed together to serve cold .
One thing is missing from the pictures and that is the papad . We had papad with the meal and it was roasted in the microwave instantly , i clicked the pics while roasting the papads actually ...

A complete meal , healthy and yummy .........