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28 October 2006

Fortified Poha for WBB # 6


Batata Poha is my all time favourite tiffin. Once you get the poha-soaking technique right, the rest of it is very easy. The only problem that batata poha or potatoes with beaten rice is that it is an out and out carbohydrate breakfast.

I prefer to start my day with a good mix of vegetables, proteins and carbs. For this reason, my recipe for fortified poha fits in perfectly as a well- balanced breakfast. The protein bit comes from soya granules. Nutrela is a well-known Soy products brand in India.

I mainly stock the soy nuggets and the soy granules. The nuggets make curries chunkier and protein rich. I have been told by my meat eating friends that cooked soy nuggets almost come close to the chewy texture of meat. The granules are used liberally in my kitchen, whenever I want to up the protein content in any recipe. Be it curries, gravies, anything. They blend in well, adding greatly to the nutrition quotient without making a difference to the original taste of the dish.

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Fortified Poha
Serves 3
Time taken - around 30 minutes including prep time
Category - Breakfast, tiffin, snack, fortified food
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Ingredients

1 cup heaped poha / beaten rice (thick variety - jada poha)
1/4 cup soy granules
Pinch of turmeric powder
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
1 tsp - mustard seeds and cumin seeds
2 green chillies
1 sprig curry leaves
1 onion - halved and sliced
1/2 cup diced carrots and frozen peas mixed
1 tomato - deseeded and chopped
1 lemon and 1 tbsp fresh grated coconut for garnish (optional)





Poha-soya softened

Prep work:
Wash the poha and soy granules under running water in a bowl. Drain the water from the bowl completely. Add a pinch of turmeric, salt and chopped coriander to the poha-soya mix. Let this sit in the same bowl for about 10 minutes.

Method:

1.Heat the oil in a wok. Add the cumin-mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the curry leaves and chopped green chillies. Stir them a bit.

2. Put in the sliced onions and carrots. If using frozen peas add them towards the end. Add a few grains of salt to sweat out and cook the vegetables. This will take 5-7 minutes.

3. Once they are soft, add the peas and tomatoes, stir for 3-4 minutes. Now it is time to add the poha-soya granules mix which should have gotten soft by now. (Each flake of poha will be separate and fluffy if you have drained out the water completely in the prep stage.)
Stir well with a light hand so that the spices, vegetables and the poha come together. Check for salt. Garnish with grated coconut.

4. Serve hot with a wedge of lime and freshly chopped coriander.

This is my entry to WBB-6 - Twist in the plate. Deadline for receiving entries is 31st October. Email your entries at saffrontrail@gmail.com

Tip:

For those of you who don't eat eggs, try making egg curry with soy nuggets. You'll be delighted at the results. The spongy nuggets soak up the flavours and it tastes super!



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26 October 2006

Potato-Rosemary Focaccia Pugliese

WBB 6- Twist in the plate Update!
Guys (sorry gals), looks like I've made it too much of a challenge or too much of a bore...I'm sad to admit but I've got only 4 entries so far, including mine that is. The deadline is pushed to 31st of this month, so if you do manage to make something for the event, email me at saffrontrail@gmail.com.



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Focaccia bread



It is easy to get inspired by fellow bloggers. When i saw Haalo's lovely Focaccia bread, I knew that I had to bake one too. And then I totally forgot about it, until I saw a whole feature on Baking your own bread in one of the older issues of Femina. Each recipe was so doable and so inspiring that I had to roll up my sleeves right away.

Just then we were invited to a friend's Diwali Party. Sometimes you just don't know a person's taste well enough to buy a gift and what better gift at this point that some home baked goodies. The potato focassia pugliese sounded and looked exotic enough to make an excellent gift as well as to give me that high of baking my own. Looks like I'm on a bread making spree now. Last night, I baked a yum-yum (someone tell me how to put the twang on the 'n' there) Jalapeno Wheat Bread to go with soup and it was super. Shall post the recipe soon....Here's the one for the focaccia.


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Potato Rosemary Focaccia Pugliese
Serves 8
Time required - One hour plus proving time
Category - Bread, Italian recipe
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500 g plain flour
7 g yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
300 ml water
2 tbsp olive oil and some more
1 tsp dried rosemary* and some more to sprinkle on the top
1/2 tsp Italian herb mix to sprinkle on the top
3 small potatoes, thinly sliced

Yeast: Take some just-warm water - around 100F, mix in the yeast and the sugar. Stir and let it stay in a warm place until it gets frothy at the top.

Kneading:In a large bowl, take the flour, salt, crushed dried rosemary. Mix the ingredients together. Make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture and the water. Bring it together adding 2 tbsp of olive oil into a smooth dough.

Rising: You can either do it outside in a well oiled bowl, kept covered for an hour or overnight in the refrigerator. The dough should come to double its original size.

Knock back and mould: After the dough has risen to double its size, punch it down. Knead well till smooth. On a large baking sheet, spread a non-stick foil and spread the dough with your hands till about 3/4 of an inch thick.



before baking

Before sending it into the oven

Decorating and proving : Drizzle some olive oil and poke holes all of the spread dough. Stick in the potato slices, sprikle some more herbs and let it rise for an hour.

Baking: Preheat the oven to 210 C. After the dough has risen, sprinkle some sea salt on the dough. Bake it for around 30 minutes, until the top is golden, potatoes are cooked and the bottom when tapped gives a hollow sound.

Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Pack in cling film and gift away. Or you can always make chunky slices, dip it in your favourite soup and eat away. If you don't have a rosemary candle, bake this bread and you wont miss the aromatic candles. If you live in the colder climes, this is a perfect autumn baking project.

*In India, Fabindia sells some excellent Blue Mountain Rosemary.
This is my long pending entry for Weekend Herb Blogging of Kalyn's Kitchen hosted this time by Fiber of 28 cooks.

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20 October 2006

Teratti Paal - Mother of all Tambram sweets in Diwali Blogging - III

Continued from Diwali Blogging- I and II.....



It's not like I've been going crazy cleaning and cooking. Nankhatais were made almost 10 days ago. Khajas were made last Sunday. Then there was a big break. My domestic help fell ill and I managed whatever cleaning I could do by myself...I can see all my friends in the US say- No maids here! But the kind of dust that settles on everything that has stayed in one place for more than 5 minutes, is so typically BOMBAY. I often tell DH, if I didn't move for a couple of hours, I'd be covered with dust myself.

The baked Karanjis took shape 3 days ago and then it was only today that I decided to make the stuff for the finale. Since I'd bought some extra milk for the day, I wanted to make a milk based sweet. I thought - why not Teratti Paal? For all those who aren't familiar with this one - this recipe has only two ingredients - Milk and Sugar. Milk is boiled and boiled some more (read as atleast 40 minutes per Litre) - to obtain a semi solid consistency after which sugar is mixed in until it melts and the milk and sugar come together as one. Weddings, auspicious occasions, poojas, nothing in my family is complete without this one sweet. Since its got this 'auspicious' tag attached to it, I'm always wary of making such stuff and causing some goof up. But today, I had to try this. As usual, called up mom, made a mental note of the process and emptied the milk into my huge non stick wok. Stir, stir, stir, add the sugar, and teratti paal is ready! You really want me to write the 'recipe' for you?





Ingredients
1.5 L Whole cow's milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ghee

Directions
Take an absolutely clean kadai / wok. Non stick variety is better. Pour the milk. Bring it to a boil and then keep the flame on minimum. Let the milk simmer for around 25-30 minutes. You cna leave a wooden ladle into the wok, so that the milk does not overflow.
Please keep stirring off and on, so that as the milk thickens, it does not stick to the bottom.
After around 25 minutes, you notice that the milk has thickened to a thready consistency. At this point add the sugar and keep stirring. It will take another 15 minutes or so, until the sugar and milk have turned into a semi solid consistency with no liquid floating around.
Turn off the flame. Mix in a tsp of ghee into the teratti paal and remove it into a bowl / plate.
The subtle taste of this one is to be experienced. But I shall try and explain. Its rough, granular, mildly fragrant from the milk and sweet of course.

Also made a quickie dudhi halwa (bottlegourd fudge) and Gulab Jamun from the Gits pack according to pack instructions. I must tell you that this is the first time ever I tried my hands at these . The balls almost seems like seedai. Or may be like marbles. A quick phone call to my aunt rescued the situation and the jamuns turned out nice and fluffy, floating happily in a saffron-cardamom flavour infused syrup. See them there, and you'll agree with me :)

Recipe for Dudhi Halwa is here....

Dudhi Halwa
1 tsp ghee
3 cups grated dudhi (Used 3/4 of a bottle gourd)
1 tbsp grated beetroot (for colour - optional)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
100 gms Khoya (solidified milk)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Directions
In a pan, take a tsp of ghee. Put in the grated dudhi and beetroot. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add the sugar and the milk to the dudhi. Boil them together for around 10 minutes until the dudhi is soft and cooked.
Put in the khoya, grated nutmeg and keep stirring vigourously until all the water / milk has evaporated. This will take atleast 15 minutes. The fudge will be a pale pink colour and will collect into a ball in the corner of the pan. Take it off the flame.
Remove it into a deep dish. Flatten well with spatula. Once it has cooled a bit, chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Remove and cut into desired shapes.
This is a very quick and yummy, all Indian dessert. If you don't get Khoya, condensed milk should work fine too. Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla icecream and your guests will be licking the spoon (and the bowl) clean!


Here's the list of Diwali goodies - 2006
Sweet and Savoury Nankhatai
Spicy Khajas
Baked Karanjis
Teratti Paal
Dudhi Halwa
Gulab Jamun

Wishing you and your families a wonderfully JOYOUS DIWALI with good health and prosperity.


Baked Karanjis in Diwali Blogging - II

Yeah yeah - I know! Diwali is not the time for thinking 'healthy' or doing kanjoosi with ghee, sugar and oil. But when I think of the 500 crunches I am made to do each morn, I automatically say - thanks but no thanks. And luckily I have no sweet tooth. For all the ghee-sugar lovers, there are more goodies coming in the final Diwali Blogging - III. I know you'll love them. But think of the diabetics, people struggling to lose weight and yet doing their bit to enjoy Diwali - and you'll love these baked Karanjis too. It's not my brainwave. It's Sanjeev Kapoor's. Atleast it was telecast in his program Khana Khazana - one of the longest running series in the history of Indian television.

This recipe allows a lot of variation. While the original was stuffed with pistachios, cashews, figs and dates - I used only dried figs, dates and raisins sprinkled with cardamom powder. This is a no sugar recipe but there is plenty of natural sugar to keep you happy.

I have pasted the recipe from the source - i.e. http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com.
Pictures are mine though :)


Baked Karanjis
Type: Modified Indian dessert, Sugar-free dessert, Diabetic recipe
Time taken: Around one hour - when made without mould
Makes 10 pieces



Ingredients
For outer layer
1 cup Refined flour (maida)
2 tbsps Semolina (rawa)
2 tbsps Ghee
1/4 cup Milk
For stuffing
3/4 cup Seedless dates (chopped)
3/4 cup Dried figs, (anjeer) (chopped)
15-20 Cashewnuts (crushed)
15-20 Pistachios (crushed)
1 tsp Green Cardamom Powder
1 tbsp Roasted poppy seeds (khus khus)
2 tbsps Milk
2 tbsps Ghee (melted)

Method:

1. Take refined flour in a bowl. Add semolina, ghee and milk and knead into a semi soft dough. Divide into equal portions and shape them into pedas. Keep them covered with a damp cloth.

2. Preheat oven to 180°C.

3. To make the stuffing take dates and figs in a bowl. Add crushed cashewnuts, pistachios, green cardamom powder, roasted poppy seeds and mix. Mash lightly with fingers and add a little milk.

4. Roll out a dough peda. Place it in the karanji mould. Put a small portion of the prepared filling in the hollow. Apply a little water on edges, close the mould and press firmly.Remove the excess dough and use again. Similarly make the remaining karanjis.

5. These can be made without the mould too.Place the karanjis on a greased baking tray. Brush them with a little ghee and bake at 180°C for twenty to twenty five minutes. Cool, store in an airtight container.

Modifications:
I added a pinch of baking powder to the dough. Also omitted the nuts and the poppy seeds.

I wont try to convince you that these were as good as the fried ones. But considering that the ingredients are relatively healthy and so is the baking process, the karanjis tasted good enough. Filling tasted quite sweet. Guess I should have baked them for a lesser time as the cover was quite hard.


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See what my friends have made this Diwali -

Shankarpalas at Vaishali's

Shankari has made a whole lot of goodies too.

Saffron has made Rava ladoos


15 October 2006

Spicy Khajas & Nankhatai in Diwali Blogging - Part I

Festival of lights
Continuing from here....
Cleaning is half-way through and home is already looking beautiful. For most Hindus, Diwali is a wonderful excuse to spruce up the house, discard old unused stuff, bring in new little ideas and ofcourse make delicious food to share with loved ones.
I truly believe that old unused stuff brings in a stagnant negative energy. Simply getting a few new things and throwing away all the junk can makeover your home and bring in the positive energy. Gone are the days of whitewashing each Diwali - thanks to the expenditures involved and 'who-has-the-time'! For starters - just hanging up new curtains over the gleaming panes is making my bedroom look brand new and spacious. Here's what I've been upto...

Improvised side-table Livening up the indoors Festive thoran

- Panes have been scrubbed clean, enough for accident-prone me to walk into them

- Organised the kitchen cabinets well enough to find the right pots and pans in a jiffy

- Gave away stuff that we haven't used in the last 6 months

- Bought nice earthern lamps painted red and a red thoran to hang outside our door

- Also improvised on a boring, black side-table to make it colourful and bigger (Read as hold more junk)

- Brought in my favourite areca nut palm plant indoors to liven up the living space

Cut to our favourite topic - FOOD

I've been wanting to try Nankhatai - our goold ol' Indian cookie for quite some time. Doing a blog search on the same lead me to some blogger recipes for this cookie. Here are the recipes for the same:

Jyotsna's Nankhatais from Pune

Krithika making Nankhatais Jyotsna's style

Manasi's Plain Jane cookies - A cook @ heart

Vaishali's Narayan Kataar Naankhatai

After a great deal of blog hopping, I finally settled for Manasi's recipe with a bit of modification in technique.

I rolled the dough in cling film, chilled them and cut them into slices instead of rolling them into balls. I actually reduced the sugar to 1/4th cup and added a pinch of salt with coarsely powdered fennel seeds. It was a salty sweet version that will appeal to the sweet-lover as well as the savoury-lover.



Spicy Khajas (Recipe adapted from bawarchi.com)

Deep fried savoury crisps

Type - Festival Food, Indian Snack

Time taken - Around one hour including drying time



Ingredients:

1 cup gram flour (besan)

1/4 cup all purpose flour (maida)

1 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp carom seeds and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds - roasted and crushed

Salt to taste - roughly 3/4 tsp

1 tbsp oil

Oil for frying ( Iused Saffola losorb)

Method:

1. Mix the flours with salt and spices.

2. Add water little by little to make a smooth and pliable dough. Knead with one tbsp oil into a smooth ball.

3. Divide into 4 big balls. Spread each ball into a big round (less than 1/2 cm thin). You can cut this into desired shapes. Prick both sides of all pieces with a fork.

4. Dry out the cut out pieces on a clean kitchen towel. Repeat the same process for the other 3 balls. Dry out the pieces for 20 minutes or so on the towel like shown in the picture below.

5. Heat about 1.5 cups of oil in a kadai. (use the one you prefer for deep frying)

Dried and ready to be fried

6. You can decide if the oil is hot enough by putting a small piece of dough. If it rises to the top immediately, the oil is ready.

7. Put the cut out pieces in batches and fry till golden brown on a medium flame. Drain excess oil on kitchen tissues. Store in airtight container.

This is my entry for the Special Edition Jihva hosted by Vee of Past, Present, Me.

Note:

You can add any of your favourite spices like black pepper, sesame seeds etc. to the dough. The original recipe asked for the dough to be rolled into small puris, but I found my method more practical.

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Just reminding you about Weekend Breakfast Blogging - the theme for this month is Twist in the Plate. Did you jazz up an ordinary breakfast for Diwali? Did you try your favourite blogger's recipe with your own twist? Did you turn a sweet one into a savoury one?

Come on, share it with us. You have time till 29th of this month to send me your entries. WBB turns monthly and theme-based this month onwards. Read more about it here.

Back after a break and some cooking from blogs



Diwali is just round the corner and I've been busy spring (It's ALWAYS summer in Bombay) cleaning. There's tons to be done. I have come to believe in the fact that one work leads to many. For eg. if I start cleaning my wardrobe, I find a dozen things in it that have no business to be in there and then I have to hunt for a place for each. I have also vowed not to buy one single thing - artefacts, clothes, kitchen gadgets - unless I pass it through my 10 point checklist to decide if it is absolutely necessary(which I will formulate and share with you in case you want to see it). Yeah, not even if that earthern bowl is going to look good on the blog. Not as long as I move into a bigger house with a bigger kitchen and an EVEN BIGGER store-room :)

Meanwhile, I have been doing the basic cooking, trying some new stuff and have made two Diwali recipes so far - Spicy Khajas from bawarchi.com and 2 types of Nankhatais learnt from various bloggers. I shall tell you about them in my next entry.

I must say thanks to my blog-o-buddies who were wondering about my absence from the blogging scene. Feels good to be remembered and missed a bit :)

Let me fill you up on what I've been upto the past two weeks ...


See this card. See something familiar? Well, if you read Meeta's blog, you'd know that she'd been to Peloponnese recently. I was so happy to see a card from my dear blog pal. I just saw the front of the card and I knew it was her. Obviously this was the first time I'd heard about this place on her blog and to get a bit of her holiday in my mailbox was a great surprise. Well, that's Meeta for you. She sure knows how to make friends happy.

Last Sunday, I also received a call from Vaishali (Happy Burp) who's reached Pune, safe and sound. I've been so terribly busy whole of last week for the same reasons I stayed away from the blog that I am yet to call her again and ask if she's settled down. But I'll do that as soon as I'm done with this post.

Here, let me share with you some of the stuff that I've cooked from fellow bloggers' recipes....

Anita from Mad Tea Party does all things so exotic that it'll drive you 'mad' - if you don't make them, that is. She made these steamed bottle gourd koftas that can be frozen and dunked into a gravy when required. I tried them and quite liked them. No pics of those though.



But I did take pics of her Lemon Marmalade that I made last night when mom was around. I've never been after citrus fruit seeds the way I was yesterday. I told my mom a dozen times not to miss a single seed as she was peeling the sweet limes for our dinner time fruit. Nah - Pip collecting is not my newfound hobby nor am I a little crazy. The marmalade required to boil citrus pips for quite a while to make up for the absence of pectin. The liquid in which the pips had boiled for over 30 minutes hadn't turned significantly thick (especially as compared to Anita's description) - so I added a pinch of gelatin dissolved in water. Now the marmalade bottles can safely sit upside down without the fear of any leakage...haha. This was my first 'jamming' experience and I quite liked it.

The marm' is quite bitter as of now. I don't know if that's how it is supposed to be. I'd like to hope that the bitterness will go away in a few weeks, as like it does in a lime pickle.




And that one is Nic's Lime loaf. Baking Sheet has become my only needed baking resource in the last few months. I subtituted the half the plain flour with wheat flour and some wheat bran. The loaf was kinda rough and dense, but we quite like it that way. DH absolutely loved the lemony aroma and taste.

Wait, it's not over yet. Two weeks ago, our friends were over from Bangalore. Their dear boy was off egg for a while and hence Saffron Hut's Eggless Banana Muffins were the perfect treat. They all loved it and I packed the rest of it for them to take back home.


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Just reminding you about Weekend Breakfast Blogging - the theme for this month is Twist in the Plate. Did you jazz up an ordinary breakfast for Diwali? Did you try your favourite blogger's recipe with your own twist? Did you turn a sweet one into a savoury one? Come on, tell me about it. You have time till 29th of this month to send me your entries. WBB turns monthly and theme-based this month onwards. Read more about it here.

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