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31 January 2007

Black Eyed Peas Burgers - KBC & SRK

Food news from India
We are finally seeing some quality food shows on the Indian tele scene. Madhur Jaffrey's flavours of India is fun to watch. Kylie Kwong on Discovery Travel & Living provides us that touch of exotica with her two shows - Cooking with heart and soul and Simply Magic. Now, the 'hostess with the mostess' - Nigella Lawson is finally on Indian tellies with her show Nigella Feasts, Mondays 8.30 pm.






Ever since I tried making burgers with the leftover dried Kaala Chana (brown chick peas) a few weeks ago, we make sure we have a Rachael Ray-esque burger night atleast once a week. Since we are vegetarians, I must say we have a WIDE variety of options to try out. Veggie-burgers, lentil burgers, soy burgers, I can go on and on and on.

The Kaala Chana burgers tasted excellent. Hubby loved them when stuffed between two slices of whole grain bread and grilled on my newly acquired grill pan with a dab of Olivio. This bunch, made with black eyed peas, looked similar but tasted totally different. The process is simple. Soak the beans, pressure cook/ cook, drain, mash. Then add any spices and flavours you fancy, shape them into good sized hunks, bake or grill them and you are good to go.



There are many ways to use them too-
  • Make a simple salad with pickled onions, tomato, carrots. Scoop it on a slice of bread, place the burger, drizzle your favourite sauces, cover with another slice and dinner is ready.
  • You can even deep fry smaller sized balls to make yummy finger food.
  • You can do a bean salad with these, by cutting the burgers into strips and tossing them with chopped peppers, onions, tomato and a light dressing of lemon juice, salt and pepper.


Black eyed peas burgers
Category: Dinner, Snack, Vegetarian burgers, TV Dinners
Prep time: Soaking time for peas - 6 hrs or overnight
Cooking time: 1 hr
Makes 12 medium sized burgers



ingredients
1.5 cups of black eyed peas - soaked overnight
3-4 tbsp of coriander leaves - chopped
1-2 tsp of cayenne pepper powder (as per your taste)
1-2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cumin powder
5 cloves garlic finely chopped
1-2 tbsp of roasted sesame seeds
oil to brush on the burgers

for assembly
slices of bran or whole wheat bread / burger buns
a cup of onion slices pickled in vinegar and salt
a cup of sliced tomatoes
a cup of grated carrots / cabbage
coriander chutney (optional)
sauces of your choice - I used the Mexican chilli sauce (Medium hot salsa picanta) and the green Salsa Habanera (made from the hottest chillies in the world)

directions

Pressure cook the soaked peas in 4 cups of water for 2 whistles. Keep at sim for 5 min. Switch off cooker. Cool and drain well.
OR
Cook them in boiling water for 35-40 minutes until soft but not fully mashed.

Preheat the oven at 200 C or heat your grill pan.

Place the drained peas with the other ingredients for the burgers except oil in a bowl. Mash gently with a fork mixing all ingredients well. Taste for salt and spice.

Shape into burgers 2" in diameter. Place on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with oil and bake for 15 minutes. You could grill them on a stove top pan or a grill, as per your convenience.

Assemble each burger between two slices of bread and the salad with a choice of sauces. Enjoy warm with a cold drink of your choice. If you use the hot sauces I did, then trust me, you'll need it.

Serve it on a tray - and hey don't forget the remote. With ShahRukh Khan hosting Kaun Banega Crorepati (Indian version of Who wants to be millionaire?) TV dinners are here again.

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28 January 2007

A memory test and the ultimate carrot cake

Carrot cake

My favourite passtime is getting into a bookstore like Crossword or Landmark and spending hours browsing around. No marks for guessing which my favourite section is. Nowadays bookstore chains in India encourage to you to browse, sit down, relax, read as much as you want, without anyone bugging you. The Oxford bookstore at Churchgate (downtown Bombay) has a Cha Bar in the store, where you can order from an impressive variety of teas and the all time favourite potato wedges or fries (they serve fries as rings). They don't even mind you taking their books to your table and eating over a good read as most of us like to do at home. How they manage the 'greasy' situations in the event of ketchup or chai or just oil getting on their pages is something I haven't figured out.


Last week, I was loafing around at the Crossword bookstore. This 'big fat' book of 'low-fat' baking (what an irony!) by Linda Fraser, caught my eye. Linda Fraser has this other very popular book on Vegetarian cooking.
Coming to this book, the size of it prohibited me from buying as cooking from a really huge book can be pretty cumbersome. One either has to copy out the recipe on the page or occupy half your counter space. While flipping through the pages, I saw this must-try carrot cake recipe. Memorising the ingredients and process seemed to be a good way to give my memory some exercise.


After reaching home, I tried to pull out the list of ingredients from my memory. The result of the memory test would be out only after we had tasted the cake. With my mom's help, all the necessaries were laid out, assembled and baked into a truly yummy carrot cake. The only effort was in using my rusted memorising skills and ofcourse beating the eggwhites into stiff peaks. The rest of it was a breeze to make and delicious to eat. As Anupama put it, it is a 'homely' kind of cake. Oh, and i did pass the test.




Low Fat Carrot CakePreparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes
Makes 16 slices
Category: Cake, Low fat, Healthy baking
Recipe source: Low Fat Baking by Linda Fraser



1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder (it is 3 tsp, no mistake here)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp all - spice powder (Optional, but if you have it, use it)
2 medium carrots - grated (to make roughly 2 cups)
Handful of raisins
4 tbsp cooking oil
4 tbsp milk
4 tbsp orange juice ( I used 8 tbsp milk as I didn't have orange juice)
3/4 cup sugar or more depending on sweetness of carrots
2 eggs - separated
Pinch of salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a 9" round pan with oil.
Microwave the grated carrot for 2 minutes and cool. (Optional)
Sift the two flours with the baking powder, salt and spice powders.
In a large bowl, beat the sugar with the yolks, oil, milk and orange juice until well blended.
Mix in the grated carrots and raisins. Gently mix in the dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
Whisk the egg whites with a tiny pinch of salt for 4-5 minutes, until you get stiff peaks.
With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites gently into the flour mixture, such that all the air in the egg whites is incorporated into the cake. If you don't fold with a light hand, you will let all the air out, and the cake may not be as soft as it can be.
Empty the mixture into the greased cake tin, smoothen with the spatula and bake for around 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool for atleast 15 minutes. Unmould and cut into slices of desired thickness. Serve warm with a glass of milk!

This is not a very fluffy cake. The carrots and raisins do make it dense but the baking powder and egg whites give it the springy texture. The spices balance out the bland sweetness of the carrots. I would recommend using orange juice for that slight tart taste.




Technorati tags: Carrot cake, healthy baking, low fat cake

23 January 2007

Red Soup



One look at the soup bubbling in the saucepan and I said 'Red Sea'. It was literally a bubbling red sea, not the dark orange colour of a good tomato soup. Or you could call it the anti-oxidant rich soup. Made with ingredients that are three different shades of red, this is as much fun as mixing colours and filling a canvas.

I've been on a diet and exercise regimen for the last few weeks that is showing great results, which is why I haven't been posting much off late ( besides some serious writing deadlines). I know this is a sensitive spot, my dear friends, but would you care to share with me, how many of you have gained weight since you started food blogging?

Frantic bookmarks here and there, discovering one beauty of a blog after the other
all spell doom for those who are trying to shed some. ( I've discovered Chocolate & Zucchini - one of the earliest blogs around and man - it is addicting, and then there is Humble Pie - our new member at Daily Tiffin with her homely blog) But I can't deny that 2006 has been a most memorable year other than 2004 ofcourse. The year of food blogging, where I discovered a whole new world, new foods, new friends and offering food to the camera first.



Back to the soup -this healthy recipe is low fat, low cal and filled with the right kind of calories. Try it and you'll agree that it doesn't taste lowcal at all.


Red soup with basil freshly harvested from my kitchen garden


Red soup
Category: Soup, Low cal, Fast and healthy
Time taken: Under 30 minutes
Recipe source: My own
Makes 3 large bowls

Ingredients

3 large tomatoes - roughly diced
2 large carrots - scrubbed and sliced
1/2 medium beet- peeled and sliced
4-5 cloves of garlic - peeled
1 tsp dried basil
1 green chilli / Jalapeno pepper chopped (optional)
4 cups water
1 tbsp chick pea flour / wheat flour / corn flour
1 tsp olive oil / cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves to garnish

In a pressure cooker / pan, heat 1 tsp of oil. Throw in the garlic cloves. After a few seconds, transfer in all chopped vegetables along with dried basil and chopped green chilli.
Saute this mix for a minute or so. Add 2 cups water and a tsp of salt. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles and then keep the flame on Sim for 3-4 minutes. Idea is, to cook it to a mush. (In case you don't have a pressure cooker, you can microwave this or boil it for 30-45 minutes to achieve the mushed up consistency)
Once the cooker has cooled, drain the contents through a colander. Reserve the liquid. Put in the vegetable mush into a blender with some water to make a very fine puree.
Empty the puree into a saucepan, add the reserved liquid and remaining 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
Dissolve the flour used in a few tbsp of fresh water and pour it into the boiling soup to thicken it further.
After simmering for a couple of minutes, remove the saucepan from heat. Check for salt. Season with some freshly ground black pepper and garnish with fresh basil leaves from your kitchen garden. I did my first little basil harvest for this soup. It is a wonderful feeling.
Serve with a salad or a slice of nice crusty bread for a light dinner.

The sweetness of the carrots and beet finely balances the tartness from the tomatoes. Garlic and basil add their respective characters to make a wonderfully nourishing soup, just right to enjoy the bit of winter we are experiencing in this part of the world.

Ideas from the morning after:
Sitting in the fridge, this one thickens a bit and I realise I can actually use it as a sauce to roll in some spaghetti or use it as a spread on a slice of bread. If it doesn't come across as that thick to you, by all means thicken it up a bit by boiling it with some more flour and you have a wonderful red sauce on hand. Then, let your imagination take over...



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18 January 2007

Cauliflower with fenugreek greens in spicy peanut gravy

It's nearing end Jan and finally we winter-starved Bombayites are finally feeling some cool. Afternoons are still hot. The tiled flooring does turn cold though. The cold water in the wash-basin gives me a little jolt as I sleepily open it early in the morning, reminding me that - Hey girl, enjoy this while it lasts.

I love all spices. Especially so, at this time of the year, when our body yearns for it. I've gone all out with my spices in this recipe, dressed up the benign cauliflower in flavours it didn't know existed. It's like turning an ice maiden Aishwarya Rai into a hot sizzling Mallika Sherawat! If you don't know who these babes are, don't worry. I'm sure you got the idea though. The peanuts were added on second thoughts, to make the gravy a little milder and creamier without adding any dairy cream. It turned out good. Real good. In fact, the day I made this, DH had an unusually long day at work. I for once didn't complain as I dug into the whole darn bowl myself. Yeah! That good. Try out and you'll know I'm sticking by my new year resolutions :D

And hey friends, I haven't forgotten about the WBB 8 round up. I just got some respite from work and I wasn't in the mood for some more serious work like battling with blogger to do a round up. It'll come up soon with a new theme as well.


Cauliflower in spicy peanut gravy

Category: Vegetables, side, Indian curry, Spicy food, Winter food
Cooking time: About 20 minutes
Serves 3
Recipe source: My own




2 cups cauliflower florets - largish
1 cup finely chopped fenugreek leaves

For the masala

3-4 red chillies
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 small stick cinnamon
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
5-6 black peppers
1 sprig curry leaves
3-4 cloves garlic
2 medium onions - sliced
1 tsp salt or to taste

1/4 cup or handful of roasted peanuts
Salt to taste

Wash the florets in plenty of salted water. Drain and keep aside.

For the masala, on a low flame, roast all ingredients except the onions and garlic. Roast till aromatic. Remove from the kadai onto a dish and let it cool. Meanwhile, take a tsp of oil in the same kadai, put in the sliced onions and garlic with tsp of salt. Saute till translucent. Remove from the kadai and cool.

In a mixer, grind the roasted spices, onion-garlic and the peanuts into a very fine paste, adding upto half cup of water.

In a cooker or a pressure pan, heat a tsp of oil. Splutter some cumin seeds and then pour the masala paste. Stir around for a good 5 minutes or so. We wont wait for any oil to separate here because we didn't use much oil to start with. Throw in the cleaned cauliflower florets and the greens. Add upto a cup of water and let the florets simmer in the paste for around 3-5 minutes before closing the lid of the cooker.

Allow just one whistle to escape. Switch off the gas and take the cooker off the burner immediately. The remaining pressure in the cooker is enough to cook the florets just enough without turning them into a mash. Another reason why they wont turn to a mash is because we keep the florets big enough not to cook too soon. If you want to try this in a saucepan (no cooker scenario), then by all means break the cauli into smaller florets for faster cooking.

After 10-15 minutes, the cooker would have cooled. Open the lid carefully. Check for salt. Serve hot with any Indian bread or plain steamed rice. A cold salad on the side will complement the heat of this curry beautifully.

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17 January 2007

Welcome home!


A few weeks ago when I saw Ilva (Lucilian delights) asking bloggers to share their kitchen pics, I was sure it would be fun to peek into friends' kitchens. A little bit of voyeurism can't hurt! While I did peek into the ones who dared / cared to show, being neck-deep in work, I didn't have the time to post these pics.

See, I'm such a nice-mannered girl! Especially after taking those new year resolutions. And Jan is too early to break them. So, being the nice girl that I am, I'm showing you glimpses of my kitchen. Haven't bothered to tidy counters or any such thing, because sticking to truth at all times, is another of my resolutions! Ha ha ha, so is not letting go of a single chance to laugh out loud.


Since, this is a leased apartment, I make do with whatever shelves / cabinets my kind landlady has made for us. I did manage to nail in a couple of IKEA racks to hold the tea, sugar and smaller spice bottles. Using the space to the MAX, I have stacked the spice bottles on top of the hanging rod! That's the resourceful Indian in me :)

Our kitchen is a long rectangle with two counters, one on each of the lengths, a sink in the corner of one of them. At one end it opens into the balcony (read as loads of sunlight through the day) and at the other end into the dining space. No windows here, but I generally keep the balcony door open, while I cook, so that I can let in the fresh air and tantalise the crows and pigeons with my delicious food aromas.

This parallel counter is mostly taken up by the microwave and the oven, which if placed on a rack above would have given me loads of counter space. But then again, I don't like to make too many demands on my landlady! The tub is loaded with freshly washed utensils. The counters are yet to be cleaned.



I love cleaning up the kitchen thoroughly before sleeping at night so that when I get in the next morning to make my cuppa, I am to a fresh start. It is also fun to lay out stuff for the next morning breakfast, ingredients etc. so that one doesn't need to plan / scratch their head thinking of what to do next.



That's my kitchen for you. I've spotted another event that reads - Behind the apron. This is about revealing yourself (nothing naughty) - the person behind the blog. Come on, show yourself off, folks.



Dear readers and friends, sorry for being erratic with posts. It's time I got back into the groove.








8 January 2007

Breakfast pancakes

Breakfast pancakes


Since my last post, I've been in Pondicherry, Chennai and then Goa. It was a wonderful last week of 2006 and ushering the new year in Goa was some experience. The hustle bustle and the excitement along with the calmness of the sea is something that must be experienced to be understood.

The past week I've been busy settling down at home (read-dealing with the laundry-I'm sure you are familiar with that one). I wanted to make pancakes for breakfast this Sunday, especially since I had some lovely liquidised Plum-star anise jam left over. But I didn't have eggs on hand and none of us were in a mood to get out of home. I just made up a mix with available ingredients and I must say eggless pancakes taste superb too.


Breakfast Pancakes
Time taken - Under 20 minutes
Category - Breakfast, Kid-friendly




Ingredients

1/3 cup cornmeal or Maize meal (makke ka aata)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (aata)

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp sugar or sugar substitute
1 tbsp oil

Oil to cook pancakes
Honey, maple syrup or thinned out jam of choice

Method

Mix all the ingredients with a whisk in a large bowl. Check for consistency of batter.

Heat a non stick pan. Smear a thin layer of oil / butter.

Pour ladleful of batter at a time, slowly and don't spread it out. Keeping the flame on medium, flip the pancake and cook till golden.

Serve with honey, maple syrup or thinned out jam and a choice of berries.

Note

Generally pancakes are made with all purpose flour. Using whole wheat flour and cornmeal greatly increases the fibre quotient without compromising on the taste. The baking soda and oil in the batter make up for lack of eggs, the pancakes will turn out tender and spongy, without the eggy smell.

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