Monday, December 16, 2013

paneer, oats and coriander greens croquettes with sesame coating

paneer, oats and coriander greens croquettes with sesame coating. Does paneer also make croquettes? Why not?

Paneer is such an convenient ingredient when it comes to quick recipes most of the times. Especially if you are not making the paneer from scratch that needs an extra 20 minutes or so. I find it easy to rustle up into a quick salad meal if in a hurry but I had never made a 'fried' snack with paneer apart from paneer pakoda which is not the quickest things to do. Although we are brought up on such pakods and rains somehow become synonymous with paneer and vegetable pakodas for us north Indians. No it's not a pakoda recipe, it's a croquette that is not deep fried in a pan full of oil. It is 'air fried'.

I had agreed to try out the air fryer by Philips few weeks ago, and I did a few trials with chicken wings, beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes etc and found the gadget quite useful. But it had limited space in it's 'frying basket' and if there are more than 2 people in the family, you will be doing multiple batches of air frying. For some snacks and side dishes it will be good for a family of 4 too I feel. I found it particularly good for potatoes, sweet potatoes, chicken and fish apart from paneer recipe I tried. I will be sharing a few more recipes I did in the air fryer.

This paneer and oats croquettes recipe is something I associate with convenience. A tasty snack that gets ready in a hurry and the frying is done without oil. Note that you can always shallow fry these croquettes in little oil or ghee, or bake them till browned, with or without a smearing of oil.

(about 16 croquettes)
paneer 150 gm or one cup crumbled
oats scant 1/2 cup
chopped coriander greens 1 cup (loosely packed)
green peas 1/4 cup
green chilly 1-2 or to taste
grated ginger 2 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
lime juice 1 tsp
sesame seeds 1/2 cup


Blitz everything except sesame in the mixie or food processor till smooth and green. The mixture will be just right to be rolled neatly in small cylinders. Add a bit of milk if you feel it's too wet or a little oats if you feel it's too sticky.

Adjust seasoning at this point. Roll the cylinders in sesame seeds and arrange inside the air fryer basket. Air fry for 10 minutes on 180 C.

 The sesame get nicely toasted and the crumb gets nice and soft. Full of fresh coriander greens flavours.

I had some green chutney to have with it but we finished it on it's own. The croquettes make a nice finger snack with a dip or chutney on the side. I would love it with some cheese dip, a tomato based sauce or an evergreen coriander-mint chutney.

Even some chopped tomatoes, some onions, some salad greens and these croquettes will make a nice lovely vegetarian meal if tossed together. You have multiple options when you have a device that 'fries without oil :-)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

savoury lentil cookies with sundried tomatoes and pimento stuffed olives : baking cookies for a cause and getting loads of good vibes from all over

Savoury lentil cookies with sun dried tomatoes, pimento stuffed olives, sesame, mung, rosemary, basil and goodness of unprocessed real ingredients. Something that I would like to munch on myself. Gluten free goodness. Generally speaking, we are not a cookie eating family but I do bake some healthy cookies that last us quite a long time as we don't have more than one at a time. One cookie is always enough to be a good accompaniment to our tea or coffee and we both hate overly sweet cookies whenever we have sweet ones.

So when Charis introduced a few of us bloggers to the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap I did not feel very enthusiastic initially because I was sick of baking cookies all the time. Yes, I have been baking cookies for test trials, been developing cookie and granola bar recipes for a healthy snacks brand SmartEats for some time now. So baking some more cookies felt like overwhelming work. But I went ahead with it thinking I would get to write a new cookie recipe for the blog too. I have been getting requests to post some cookies that can be enjoyed by weight watchers and this lentil cookie was on my mind for a long time. Ever since I had tried the fried and baked versions of this Thattai. My ideas build up like that, this cookie is a nice foil to home made sun dried tomatoes, home grown rosemary and basil and a few more things including a topping of sliced pimento stuffed olives.

I had saved a day for baking these lovely cookies and yet there was so much work to be done, I felt like a fool who invited some more work on herself. But then baking is a stress reliever when I do it alone, it got better and better as I test baked 2 cookies first to get the flavors right and later I started mixing the flours and baking the cookies, batch after batch. I baked 4 batches of these, gifted some, parceled some and some are still there in a jar for ourselves. I remembered Charis all day that day, it was just because of her that I had taken this up and was enjoying every bit of it. Slicing olives, pressing them on the cookies, baking them till fragrant and then cooling them all in my wicker baskets. Yes, I use wicker baskets mostly instead of wire rack when I bake larger amount of cookies.

I packed the cookies the next day. It was a tough decision to pack them in glass jars but the tins I had ordered had not been delivered on time and there was no other choice. Some DIY to pretty up the jars and all those crafty things I did, utterly enjoyed every moment.

ingredients for the lentil cookies
(makes about 5 dozen cookies and a few more)
rice flour 350 gm
black bean flour (urad daal flour) 320 gm
butter 300 gm
sesame seeds 90 gm
dehydrated onion flakes 90 gm
garlic powder 8 gm
chilly flakes 8 gm
chopped basil 25 gm
dry rosemary crushed 3 gm
haldiram mung namkeen 100 gm
sun dried cherry tomatoes 30 gm
salt 10 gm
pimento stuffed olives about 20 (or half a jar of olives)
water 1/4 cup to sprinkle while making the dough


Chop the basil finely. Chop the dry cherry tomatoes nicely in small bits so you get only a hint of tart tomatoes in one bite.

Mix the rice flour and urad daal flour, cube the cold butter and rub it into the flour mix thoroughly till the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

Mix all the other ingredients, rub everything together to mix well. sprinkle water and gather the mixture together to form a ball of firm dough. Pinch off small portions of about 20 gm and shape cookies, making a thumb impression in the center so the sliced olive can be placed there.

Press the sliced olive and arrange all cookies over a baking sheet.

Bake at 180 C for 30 minutes or till the cookies turn pinkish and olives look dehydrated.

Cool them all on wore rack or wicker baskets as I did and pack them in airtight jars once cool.

 Since I had to pack a dozen cookies for each blogger I was swapping cookies with, I wanted nice tins and ordered online, they were never delivered. Now I was in a dilemma how to ship them in lightweight unbreakable containers. Could not get anything nice and then decided to go for glass jars. I knew it would involve careful packaging but that did not deter me. You see I was enjoying the process thoroughly. Even did a wee bit of DIY to make the jars pretty.

Here are the ready jars to be packaged with bubble wraps and paper etc.

Luckily I received 2 parcels the very next day I shipped mine. These were from my talented friend Deeba and another talented baker blogger Roshni.

Deeba sent her pretty as a bunny gingerbread man and chocolate pretzels and Roshni sent Lavender crisps, the crisps broke a bit during the long travel and I was more worried about my cookies reaching safely..

Himanshu is a dear friend who bakes lovely things on weekends and I have tasted his cheesecakes and crackers etc. These candied ginger cookies were so yummy even I could not resist having one whole cookie. And it was a huge cookie to make a breakfast with milk and an apple for me...and I don't like sweet breakfasts :-) That kind of yummy cookies these were.

I sent cookies to Deeba, Roshni and Riddhi. While Deeba's were delivered just the next day, Roshni also got them in 3 days but it was Riddhi's parcel that reached so late I was contemplating sending another package for her. Fervent tracking of the courier I found out that they were delivered 2 weeks later. Was such a relief.

This food bloggers cookie swap program was partnered with Cookies for Kids Cancer and all participating bloggers donated a small amount to the cause of finding new effective treatment for pediatric cancer.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

broccoli and spring onion soup with cheddar and fresh cream | warm comforting winter dinners

Spring onions are in season and lush green broccoli keep begging to be picked up these days. I just pick up all seasonal produce, whatever looks fresh and at it's prime stage of growth, the best way to buy your vegetables and fruits in my opinion. So the crux of the matter is, I never plan my meals in terms of flavors or cuisines or the type of vegetables or meats used, but most of the times I create my combinations while buying my vegetables. The lush green onion leaves and broccoli together in the basket, just fell in love in this instance. The resultant soup was very very soul satisfying types, along with cheddar and a dash of nutmeg and pepper.

The soup has been repeated a few times already, been recommended to friends and has received rave reviews. Some like it with bread, some with a lentil cake and some like it as it is. I had it with polenta sticks one day making it a gluten free meal, and a ragi, amaranth whole wheat bread sticks the other day, a minimal gluten meal.

Yummy any which way you like it.

Not much of a recipe, just put things together to pressure cook, puree using a hand blender and simmer again with some cheese, little milk and a little fresh cream, a hint of nutmeg and pepper to round off the flavors.

(2-3 large soup meals)
one head of broccoli (about 350 gm)
chopped spring onion greens 3 cups packed (about 200 gm)
3 fat cloves of garlic peeled
water 2 cups
milk 1 cup
cheddar cheese chopped roughly 1/2 cup
fresh cream 2 tbsp
salt to taste
pinch of nutmeg powder
1/2 tsp pepper powder or to taste
I sometimes add yellow chilly powder as well


Pressure cook the broccoli, spring onion greens and garlic cloves along with salt and water. You can cook them in a stockpot till soft.

Blend the cooked vegetables with the help of a hand blender or in food processor (when the cooked mixture is slightly cold) and simmer the pureed mix along with milk, cheese, cream and nutmeg and pepper, till the cheese melts and the soup turns fragrant. Adjust consistency by adding some more milk or water as you desire.

This soup makes a full meal on it's own, you can have a bread stick for texture and crunch.

Very cheesy, peppery and rich flavors of broccoli and spring onions together. The soup keeps well in the fridge and even now I have the leftovers I made yesterday for the third time in 2 weeks. Just reheat in microwave and get set for a nice warming dinner.

My idea of a quick yet comforting dinner in winters, especially when I have to work till late in the night. I might have 2-3 cups of kahva or lemongrass tea after an hour or so while on work.

Warm liquids brace us against cold exposure even if we are not wearing enough warm clothing, which we sometimes don't feel like when the cold seems pleasant but has a sting that can render us sick. An infusion of ajwain is the best way to cure cold exposure which normally results in stomach upset these days. Few of my friends suffered such cold exposure too and ajwain infusion worked like a charm.

More liquid type nourishing meals like this soup helps get better quickly.
Keep hydrated this winter. Keep sipping something nourishing.