31 July 2007

Chargrilled Eggplant in Yoghurt

Update: Do check out the WBB # 13 - Oats for breakfast round up at Madhuli's Foodcourt for 20 delicious ways to make your breakfast healthier!
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Kathrikkai Pacchidi

Chargrill an eggplant and you have a whole host of options. I can list 4 right away.

i. Prepare a gravy with onions, tomatoes, ginger garlic paste and spice powders like red chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric and you can make a delicious Baingan ka Bharta.

ii. Blend it with some garlic, tahini, yoghurt and it turns into Baba Gannoush

iii. Blend it with some sauteed onions, flavour with saffron strands and pine nuts and it turns into a Badenjan dip

iv. Whisk in some fresh yogurt and do a traditional South Indian tadka and what you get is a Sutta Kathrikkai Pacchidi

This is a traditional South Indian Pacchidi (Raita). You could use small green chillies to make it fierier and garnish with fresh coriander. The eggplant pacchidi goes well with most South Indian rice preparations like lemon rice, coconut rice or even tamarind rice.



Kathrikkai Pacchidi
Category: Side, accompaniment, Low Carb
Time Taken: Under 15 minutes
Serves: 2 -3 people


Ingredients

1 medium sized eggplant
1 1/2 cups natural yoghurt
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vegetable oil or olive oil
2 dried red chillies ( I use Kashmiri red chillies), snipped into pieces
1 tsp udad dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves

Directions

1. Char grill the eggplant on a flame, rotating it every minute or so, until the entire surface is blistered and charred, and the eggplant is cooked right till its center. A medium sized eggplant will take not more than 7-8 minutes. You can also do this over a grill or in the oven. Place this in a bowl and place a lid over it until it is cool enough to handle and peel.

2. Discard the peels and large chunks of seeds (if any). In a bowl, mash the eggplant pulp till soft with fingers or a whisk. You can even make it into a paste in the blender, but I like the rustic, uneven texture.

3. Beat in the yoghurt with salt.

4. In a small pan, heat the oil. Put in the mustard seeds. Once they pop, add the snipped red chillies, udad dal, curry leaves. Wait until the dal turns golden brown. The Kashmiri chillies colour the oil red and gives it a smoky, mildly spicy flavour. Transfer the content of the pan over the eggplant-yoghurt mix, give it a stir. Serve chilled.

Health note

If you want to cut calories you can use fat-free yoghurt, but make sure you use homemade Indian style or Greek yoghurt that is fresh. Since this recipe has only two main ingredients, both need to be of the best quality.

For a vegetarian low-carber, eggplant is a great choice. Yoghurt provides the proteins and probiotics that play a great role in many aspects of well being.

30 July 2007

KL trip pictures and JFI event reminder

We are back from our trip to Kualalumpur. It was my first time in Malaysia and I was impressed by the way the entire country is so geared up for tourism. It is no surprise that we find tourists from almost every place in the world, in the landmark Petronas Towers. The Tourism Malaysia festival being on currently, almost everything is on SALE, and the amount of 'mall-walking' we did could easily make up for one week of abstainance from the gym!

I would highly recommend The hop-on hop-off bus tour, the KL Bird Park, the Orchid Garden, and ofcourse you cannot go to KL and not get onto the Skybridge of the Petronas. We also managed a day trip to Genting and another to Cameron Highlands, which is another must visit for its scenic charm and beauty. The Aquaria is sure to be a hit with kids. Though Petaling Street (China Town) and Central Market were high on our agenda, the rains spoilt our plans. The Bintang Walk, Sungei Wang Plaza, Lot 10 and KLCC Suria Mall will satisfy the highest degree of shopoholics. Here are some of the pictures.

The pride of KL, the Petronas Twin Towers with the Skybridge, view from the KLCC park

Atop the Petronas Skybridge

At the Aquaria, KL

Over a pot of tea at the Tea Plantation at Cameron Highlands, overlooking the terraced tea gardens

A bunch of large, sweet smelling roses at the Rose Center, Cameron Highlands

Lady Shoe - One of the exotic plants at the Rose Center, Cameron Highland, Penang

A flock of noisy parrots in KL Bird park

Mangosteen, a fruit with a not-so-great appearance and a sweet, tart juicy interior, that will make you fall in love with it! Appearances are deceptive after all!


If you ever smell a durian fruit, you'll never forget it in your life! I did not dare to taste this one though...

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JFI Reminder
We just got back home yesterday after being away for over 10 days. I was checking mail for keeping track of JFI - Chillies entries, from the WiFi spots in KL. Today, it was found that 9 of the entries were sitting in the spam folder.

This is a reminder for all those who are interested in participating in the Jihva for Ingredients - Chillies that entries will have to be sent in as per instructions before Midnight 2nd August Indian Standard Time ( GMT + 5:30 hours ). In case you are unable to post and send your entry by the last date, you may link up your post to the round-up, so that readers will be able to view your entry in the links.






18 July 2007

Oats and Mango - Breakfast in a Glass : WBB # 13

When Madhuli asked me how I felt about Oats as a theme for Weekend Breakfast Blogging, I thought, wow, she's a girl after my own heart. According to me, the simpler and blander an ingredient, the more you can dress it up, the more creative you can get. It's like working on a blank canvas. Oats for me is one such blank canvas, it is just there to absorb any flavours you might care too add. This Oats and Mango- Breakfast in a glass is a two minute breakfast. With something as fast and healthy as this one on hand, you have no excuses for skipping the most important meal of the day.





Oats and Mango - Breakfast in a glass
Category: Breakfast drink
Time taken: Under 10 minutes
Makes 2 glasses

Ingredients:
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups water
1 ripe mango, peeled and cubed
1 cup skimmed milk
2 tbsp powdered jaggery (or brown sugar)
1 large pinch cardamom powder
3-4 ice cubes

Directions:
Soak the oats in 1 1/2 cups water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 - 2 minutes till soft. If you have more time on hand, you could simply soak the oats in warm water for 10-15 minutes.

Blend all the ingredients together along with the softened oats to make a thick smoothie and serve immediately.

Note: You could substitute the mango with papaya and use a spice of choice instead of cardamom, such as cinnamon or all spice powder. The oats supplies the fibre, mango is rich in beta carotene and fibre. Skimmed milk is rich in calcium without any additional calories from fat, jaggery is a natural, healthier sugar alternative - all of which make this a super-healthy breakfast option. Even if you are not an oats lover, the other flavours will more than compensate for it. This is a perfect option for those who have very hurried mornings.
Also check out Oats for Dinner from an earlier post.

This is my entry for WBB # 13 starring Oats at Madhuli's Foodcourt. If you are an oats believer too, go ahead, make something, post it and rush your entries to her before the 25th July. I shall be back from my holiday to check out the round of all healthy breakfasts.


Fried rice with mustard greens

Reader update: My internet connection has just been restored after almost three weeks. I have been receiving some of the entries for JFI Chillies, and sorry if I am unable to respond to each of your mails since I am travelling for the next 10 days. Indira has been kind enough to take on any queries you might have. The round up shall be done as promised by 8th August.


Mustard greens - then and now

It is a great pleasure for us city folks, to grow edible plants in our small balconies and then find ways to use them in our kitchen. These mustard greens sprouted from the mustard seeds I generally threw into a Chinese Bamboo pot and they grew out beautifully. Even when the shoots were just out (in about 5-7 days after sowing the seeds), the tiniest of leaves screamed out loud saying "I am mustard". What I mean to say isthat the pungent mustard flavour that some of us love and others love to hate, was very strongly evident even in the tiny shoots.

They took about 2 months to grow into bigger leaves in this pot, the delay probably being due to over crowding. The harvest was not enough to make sarson ka saag, so I had to be content using the leaves along with some other veggies in a fried rice.

Mustard greens fried rice

Ingredients

1 ½ cups cooked rice, separated with a fork

2 tsp olive oil

½ tsp cumin seeds

4 cloves

1 medium onion, sliced

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

¼ cup sliced spring onion greens

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp red chilli powder

¼ tsp garam masala powder

½ tsp salt

¼ cup sliced mustard greens



Directions


Heat the oil in a wok. Splutter the cumin seeds and cloves, in hot oil.

Add the onion slices, carrot sticks and spring onion greens. Saute on low flame for 3 minutes, till onions and carrots are soft and greens have wilted.

Mix in the spice powders, salt and stir till the spices uniformly coat the vegetables.

Add the rice to the wok with the mustard greens. Stir well for a minute till rice is heated through and ingredients are well mixed.

Serve hot with yogurt and a sweet mango pickle.


Note:
This is a great way to use up left over rice. You can use any kind of greens such as kale, collard greens, radish greens to add a bit of bitterness to the rice instead of mustard greens.

8 July 2007

JFI for August - Chillies (Spicy recipe inside)

Firstly, please accept my apologies for the delay in the announcement. The heavy rains in Bombay have disrupted my phone and internet connection since 10 days now, and I have no idea when it is going to be reinstated. I'm doing this quick post from my parents' house where I am visiting for a few hours today.

JFI or Jihva for Ingredients is Indira's brainchild and each month our avid food blogger community and other food lovers join to celebrate one Indian ingredient.

Since it's raining hippos and elephants here, we have been eating hot and spicy stuff the whole week. Since no Indian kitchen would be complete without chillies in some form or the other, Jihva for August is CHILLIES.

You could spice up your dish with:
Fresh Green Chillies
Fresh Red Chillies
Dried Red Chillies
Red Chilli powder in any form
Chilli flakes
Jalapenos or
Chillies in any other form.

Get innovative and do something spicy. And hey while you are at that, don't forget your gloves!!

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Rules for participation:
Prepare a dish with any form of chillies and post it on your blog on August 1, 2007 with a link to this post.
Send me an email at saffrontrail@gmail.com titled 'JFI' with the permalink to your post alongwith a picture of the dish, preferably in 100 x 100 pixel size, by August 2, 2007.
Please also include the name of your blog, recipe name, as well as name and location (if it's ok with you) in the mail.

You may come back to check the round up by August 7.
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Here's my first spicy recipe, a TamBram original for Pavakkai Pitla. Nothing like chillies to completely mask the bitterness of the poor ol' bittergourd.



Pavakkai pitla is a sambar variety using bittergourd and peanuts in a fresh ground masala with coconut base. The spices, coconut and tamarind mask the bitterness to a great extent while adding layers of flavour to the dish. The soft cooked peanuts will make this dish endearing to anyone who doesn't like karela. The same can be made with brinjal pieces instead of bittergourd.


Pavakkai Pitla ( Bitter ground in spicy tamarind lentil gravy)
Total time: 45 minutes
Serves 4
Pictures coming up soon!

Ingredients
2 medium bitter gourds
¼ cup fresh groundnuts (peanuts – not the roasted variety)
¾ cup yellow lentils (tur dal)
1/8 cup or one lemon sized ball tamarind soaked in 1 cup water for an hour
1 tsp salt or to taste
For tempering: ½ tsp mustard seeds, sprig of curry leaves and 1 tsp udad dal

Roast on medium flame with ½ tsp oil
3-4 broken dry red chillies
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp chana dal
1 small piece (large pinch sized) asafoetida

For spice paste
Place the cooled roasted spices in a small mixer, grind along with ¼ cup coconut pieces using upto ½ cup water.

Preparing bittergourds
Wash and lightly peel the bitter gourds. Top and tail them. Cut into half length wise, scoop out seeds and fibrous material with a small spoon. Cut each half into half lengthwise and then make slices of 1 cm thickness.

Cooking lentils, gourd and peanuts
Place the washed yellow lentils in one container with 2 cups water. Place the sliced gourd and peanuts in another container with ½ cup water. You can place the containers one above the other in the pressure cooker, lentils at the bottom and gourd-peanuts on the top, pressure cook for 3 whistles and then on a low flame for 5 minutes.
OR
Cook soaked yellow lentils by boiling in 3 cups water, until soft – approximately 30 minutes.
Cook gourd slices and peanuts with ½ cup water, until both are soft – approximately 15 minutes. Keep them aside.

Preparing tamarind extract
Squeeze tamarind well in soaked water, to obtain two cups of tamarind extract.

Assembling the pitla
Bring the tamarind extract to a simmer in a deep steel pan. Add the ground spice paste to the simmering tamarind extract along with mashed lentils and bittergourd-peanut mix.
Stir well and bring to a boil.

For tempering – heat 1 tsp cooking oil, add ½ tsp mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add a generous tsp of udad dal. On a low flame, stir till golden, add a sprig of curry leaves and slide the tempering over the pitla. Place a cover on the pitla pan until it is time to serve.

Serve hot with steaming rice and a dry curry along with some vadams or papad.
A perfect match to the pavakkai pitla is the vazhakkai curry, which is a dry curry made with sliced plantains.