24 May 2008

Mango Jam starring in Saturday Morning Breakfast for One

THE MAGICAL MILLION
While I was waiting for the magic one millionth hit to happen, it came and went without my knowledge and now it is a million plus some 7000, but thank you my dear readers, friends, family for encouraging me and keeping me going at this blog.
Here's to a million more :)



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I'm back home, after spending two weeks with my parents. They live in the same city as me, an hour's drive at most times. But I have rarely stayed this long. One week's stay got extended by another week thanks to a nasty cold which they didn't want me to nurse myself as DH was out traveling. Needless to say, I hardly cooked in the last two weeks, had hogged a lot of traditional lunches, and just lazed and lazed. Since I was getting back to an empty house last afternoon, I had planned for two of my friends to come over and spend the night. No cooking involved, just ordered in a couple of pizzas!

This morning, I was looking forward to having a relaxed breakfast with my favourite Saturday newspaper - Lounge (Mint). Having purchased some luscious Kesar mangoes yesterday, I thought of making some instant mango jam in the microwave, just while the bread slices were toasting on the tava and the Amul butter sitting near the stove to soften.



Initially I did think of searching some blogs for a recipe, but then the laziness of a Saturday morning prevented me from even starting my laptop. It is a mango after all, and nothing much can go wrong - so saying, I put together one chopped mango, pinch of salt, fat pinch of black pepper and a spoonful of organic jaggery powder in a glass bowl, and started nuking at high power starting with 2 minutes, kept giving 2 minute increments, and after the 6th minute it was nearly done. The jam had firmed up and yet some of the pieces held their shape, which is how I like it.

In a total of seven minutes, I had a delicious jam, bursting with flavours ready to spread itself over nicely crisped up toast spread with Amul butter.

If you still want a proper recipe, here it is.



Instant Mango Jam
Serves 2 - or enough for 5-6 pieces of toast
Time taken - Under 10 minutes

You need
1 sweet mango like Kesar - fine diced (almost a cup of cubes)
1 generous tsp jaggery powder or brown sugar ( I used Fabindia's Desi Sakkar - Organic Jaggery)
1 pinch salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all the above in a microwave safe glass bowl.
Nuke at high for a total of 6-7 minutes, giving it a stir 3-4 times in between.
The jam is ready when it comes together and most of the liquid has dried up.

Notes:
You can add cardamom powder or cinnamon powder instead of black pepper. I liked the salt and pepper combo going with the sweet mango taste.
If your mango doesn't have that tangy edge, you can also squeeze a few drops of lime.
You can try this with larger quantities, since this is my first try, I used just one mango. Since it is ready in a jiffy, it can be made as and when you need it.
A thinner version of this will taste yummy on some plain pancakes.

This is my entry to May Mango madness edition of Weekend Breakfast Blogging (#22) which Arundati is hosting at Escapades. Send in your entries to her by the 31st :)

18 May 2008

Meme : Table Talk

When one of my favourite bloggers, Usha, tagged me for this meme, there was no way to refuse :)

What’s your favourite table?


My dream table - Picture courtesy Ebay store

Currently we have a small IKEA four seater that came along with us when we moved to Bombay. Soon, on moving to our dream house that has a huge dining area and my favourite is a large, dark, solid rectangular wooden table. I’ve spotted one in Fabindia and one on Ebay (picture above). I think we’ll do okay with a 6 seater, but DH being the way he is, is gunning for an 8 seater. You’re welcome for dinner!

What would you have for your last supper?
- Chinna vengaya araicha sambar, potato roast, rice and vethal OR
- Penne in simple basil pesto topped with grated parmesan along glass of Sula Chardonnay
- To end the meal, a scoop of my favourite Natural’s Icecream (Fresh Mango or Papaya Pineapple depending on the season)


What’s your poison?
Tea in all its variations– Masala chai, Earl Grey, Tetley’s Green tea, Moroccan mint tea, Tea flavoured with orange rind

Name your three desert island ingredients.
Amul cheese cubes
Yellow banana chips
Murukku from Grand Sweets
(I’m on a desert, so don’t have to bother about counting calories !)


What would you put in Room 101?
I'll skip this.

Which book gets you cooking?
They get me sleeping, they sit on my bedside table.

What’s your dream dinner party line-up?
No such line up in mind, but surely people who appreciate good food!

What was your childhood teatime treat?
Britannia’s Bourbon, but cream biscuits were a treat in the real sense, I wasn’t allowed to eat them on a daily basis.

What was your most memorable meal?
Almost a year ago, when DH and me went for dinner at Oh! Calcutta. It was a first time for both us, and we oohed and aahed at how yummy simple ‘vegetarian’ Bengali food could be. The memories of that evening are enough to make our mouths water even today.

What was your biggest food disaster?
Overdoing the pasta, by leaving the kitchen while its boiling and forgetting about it
Making milk boil for over half hour and then fretting over all the gas wasted
I don’t know if these are my biggest disasters, but they mostly happen if I don’t hang around the food while it’s cooking, due to my absent-mindedness.

What’s the worst meal you’ve ever had?
There have been quite a few, but you can read my recent experience here.

Who’s your food hero/food villain?
There are not many to choose from the food shows in India, but two of them are fighting tooth and nail to wear the crown of food villain
One of them who is a famous (?) Indian cookshow hostess of British origin. Her show Cooking is no rocket science is bad enough to make me (with the steeliest of stomachs) puke! I’m talking about Manju Malhi. Her recipes are something I wouldn’t want to cook for my worst enemies and her style of presenting – less I say about it, the better it is. Besides I can’t stand people using the word ‘my’ as a universal prefix…my tomahtoes, my onions, my bacon, my BUNS…you get the drift??
The other is also a cookery show host from the same channel – Marut Sikka. Luckily the show is off air now….No one would miss the show except some of the super specialty cardiac hospitals in the country, as the number of coronary bypass surgeries would have drastically gone down, thanks to this show going off air. Every recipe would have minimum one cup of ‘nice’ desi ghee, plus more ‘nice’ oil or ghee for frying, plus more for tadka! Even if he were cooking for the farmers burning 3000 calories a day on the field, this would be sacrilege. His universal adjective is NICE, nice onions, nicely chopped tomatoes, nice desi ghee! Gosh, I’m already feeling stressed out thinking about these two!

Nigella or Delia?
Have watched Nigella only. While I like her ability to really eat what she cooks, unlike some of the reed thin cookshow people, I can’t stand that pigging out scene in front of the fridge that ends each episode.

Vegetarians: genius or madness?
Neither. I was born into it!

Fast food or fresh food?
Fast food for those times when craving hits without a warning, fresh food at all other times.

Who would you most like to cook for?
DH for sure…he has never discouraged me or complained over a single meal I have served him since we got married.

What would you cook to impress a date?
Wont cook.

Make a wish.
I would like to share a meal with some food bloggers who are also my very close friends (don’t want to take names, but I guess you know who you all are), a kind of potluck where we all cook for each other.

I’d like to tag Anjali, Arundati, Desi Girl, Gardenia, Raaga, Sig, and Suganya to hear about their table tales.

13 May 2008

Awards and Mentions

Recently, some blogger awards have been coming my way :) Instead of doing several posts to cover them, I have decided to dedicate this one page to all the dedications that have come my way...Until now, I have not mentioned or displayed any of the badges.

For one, since I am not too up to date on Technorati, I don't even realise that someone has linked up to me, or mentioned my blog. Secondly, I appreciate each one of you who think of me to say something nice, and I really value those nice vibrations coming my way, even if it is only via the internet.

If I had to select any particular blogger to pass on the awards to, it is a tough task for me, as I feel each one is doing their best in their own way - Cooking and caring for their family, taking the trouble to photograph the dishes with husband and hungry kids waiting to be served, the blogger herself/ himself resigning to cold food or microwave warmed food as it would have gotten cold while taking the time to capture it on the camera, and then taking time to write about it, responding to comments....it is clearly no mean task. Hence I do not consider myself in any position to judge who is a Yummy Blogger or who deserves an award of Excellence, or who is a Nice blogger....each one is yummy, excellent and nice in their own way!


However, with deep gratitude I display all the badges (and occasional press mentions) on this page :)

Mentions

Mid-Day - Mumbai's Daily Tabloid
Gauravnomics - Desi Blog of the day
Interview on Cooking Goddess

Awards

In case I have missed your award, please leave a link in the comments, and I shall update the page promptly.


From Shaheen of Malabar Spices & Shubha of Chukti Bhar Pyaar





From Deeba of Passionate About Baking

11 May 2008

Happy Mother's Day



To all Mothers, Soon-to-be Mothers, Mother-in-laws,
Happy Mother's Day.

I am spending the day at my mom's place today, eating Keerai Kootan for lunch.

Recommended reading for today:

Usha's It's Mother's Day at every meal - which completely reflects my own thoughts

Shilpa's Black Forest Cake for Mother's Day


Also, would like to congratulate my friend Raaga, her blog The Singing Chef has got rave reviews in yesterday's Hindu.

8 May 2008

General stuff and junky dinners

OK, my two dear friends know how I attended my family wedding in Chennai sitting in Mumbai yesterday morning...but I still haven't gotten over the thrill of it, so had to share it with my larger audience out here. So that's where technology in India is taking us.

Last week we managed to catch one of those rare Tamizh movie releases in Bombay - Vellithirai, in one of those multiplexes we don't usually visit. When I was booking our tickets online, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that I can book my large caramel popcorn, coffee and samosa online too with my tickets and they will be delivered to my seat number whenever I'd like them to....now that's what I call spoiling the customers! Another example how technology is transforming our lives. I don't mean to say I want to be waited on hand and foot when I'm watching a movie, but I like to be given the choice :)

The last few days I've been on a junk food spree. Last week we were in the Tamizhland of Bombay, Matunga on the way back from town. We had a quick weekday lunch at the Madras Cafe, which is a functional eatery that Matunga masses of the last few decades swear by. I love their Raagi- Masala dosa and filter kaapi. They also serve stuff that very few eateries in Bombay would serve, stuff like Ragi Sevai, Rasam Vadai, Neer Masala dosa, and though we are made to share tables with total strangers because of the lack of space, when the food is so good, I don't really care if we are made to sit on a table for four where there is one stranger already slurping his sambar. Post-lunch we stopped by Venkateshwara stores close to the flower-market, picked up a big bag of Nendram Varuval (quartered plantain chips), some traditional 'mixture', a pack of thattai and a block of Tirunelveli Halwa. While I am not too interested in mixture, the plantain chips are quite irresistible and while the hubby is at work, i have been slowly working towards finishing off the contents, albeit a little at a time, with my afternoon tea.


Veggie Crescents ( I like to call them pillows)

Since the husband has been extremely busy at work this whole week and having a working dinner for most of the past few days, I have been making extremely junky choices for my dinners...well, except for one day when I gathered a lot of inspiration to shrug off my increasing laziness at cooking dinner for one, and made these Vegetable Crescents. The combination of stuffing was very finely chopped red cabbage, spring onion greens, onion, cauliflower, capsicum, paneer and cheese, and somehow these vegetable flavours mingled brilliantly together, giving a super end result. The dough asked for milk, but the lazy me had none at home, and used water instead.

Inside a pillow

The original was blogged by Sunita and then tried by Arundati, who made sure she kept egging me about this delicious thing she kept making every other day, or so it seemed. I must say it was such a treat. The hubby managed to taste one despite coming home late, and I used the yeasty dough and stuffing for making parathas the next day for lunch. With so many vegetables used, the stuffing mix was still left over, and today was promptly mixed into idli-batter to make lovely pink uthapams.

Yesterday's junky dinner was jhaal mudi, a Bengali style bhel, where mustard oil adds a whole new zing. And today I just ordered some Pairi aam-ras (mango puree) from the shop across the road, mixed a part of this with a part of milk to get some delicious mango milk shake, the last few drops of which I have just cleared off with my fingers. This was today's dinner.

Green bean-tomato salad

Talking about junky dinners, I must admit I made salad for dinner one of these days, a first experience with using green beans in salads which is quite common in American and European cuisine. For me green beans means Paruppu Usili or Pulaos. I used a salad recipe from a blog, Smitten Kitchen that I found on food blog search while searching for 'green bean salad'. Here it is, I just substituted cherry tomatoes with quartered regular tomatoes and red wine vinegar with balsamic vinegar. I wasn't too excited with the flavours, the tomatoes and vinegar combining to give quite a sour taste that I'm not fond of. May be next time I'll omit the tomatoes altogether. This is my entry for Raaga's MBP - Soups and Salads.

5 May 2008

Ajwaini Arbi ke Tikkey (Colocassia with carom seeds)


Arbi ke Tikkey


Arbi / Colocassia or seppankizhangu (in Tamil) can be an ugly looking vegetable...but lends itself to some delicious dishes. Ask those good Tamil boys who pester their wives to make Seppankizhangu roast for Sunday lunches, just the way their Amma makes it :) Even cricketer Srikkanth admits to being a "ghee-seppankizhangu roast-paruppu sadam freak". Seppankizhangu roast can be a topic for another whole post, but this one is dedicated to the Punju way of glorifying an ordinary muddy arbi.

A little note of warning, there are people who are allergic to some of these root vegetables, so please to check with your families if you are unleashing this fellow on them for the first time. If while handling this vegetable, your fingers itch, then you yourself may be allergic to this - anywhere from mild to severe. This is something extremely hilarious I read on one of my favourite blogs on allergic tendencies to vegetables from the yam family.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from our favourite Punju restaurant in the vicinity - Urban Tadka. This place does not take reservations and the only way to get a seat is to go there, put your name down on their long waiting list and be prepared to wait from anywhere between half hour to two hours. And its been some 3-4 years since they started, and people continue to WAIT with salivating tongues and rumbling tummies. That speaks for the yumminess quotient of the food they serve. So coming back to the Ajwaini Arbi Tikkas, this is one of our favourite starters here. Having eaten it a few times it was easy to figure out what went into it, well almost, two of the main ingredients already revealed in the name itself. My addition to this is sesame seeds which i did not find used in the restaurant version.

Arbi like some of its starchy cousins can produce considerable gas in your GIT (Gastro-Intestinal Tract) and ajwain or omam / carom seeds is an excellent spice to counteract the bloating, so these do make a perfect synergistic pair.





Ajwaini Arbi Ke Tikkey (Colocassia with carom seeds)
Category: Appetizer / Finger food / Roti accompaniment
Time taken: Active time: 10 minutes, Inactive time : 40 minutes
Serves 2



Preparation

This recipe uses 250 g or 1/2 Lb of colocassia. When you buy the arbi, try and choose the ones of a similar size so that they can cook uniformly.
First scrub the muddy bits from the arbi very well. I use the pressure cooker to cook them through.

Place the arbis in a cooker vessel with a little water (1/2 cup or so), more water in the cooker, after two whistles, place on sim for 5 minutes. This should do to cook medium sized arbis without turning them to mush, in which case, you really cannot progress further.

One the cooker has cooled, open, and remove the arbi to a plate and cool for 10 minutes till comfortable to peel.

Once peeled, place them in a single layer in a large dish. With your palms or a wooden masher, lightly flatten each piece until oval / round, but not with so much force that it crumbles.

Spices and other stuff

Over the arbi, sprinkle -
1 tsp coarsely crushed ajwain
1 tsp of red chilli powder (like degi mirch)
1 tbsp of coriander powder
1 tbsp of sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp rice flour (for crispiness)
plenty of finely chopped coriander

With a gentle hand, coat the spices over the arbi and let this sit for 15 minutes minimum. You could also refrigerate the dish covered with cling wrap until the time you want to shallow fry and serve.

Final step

In a cast iron or any suitable skillet, heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Place the well marinated arbi pieces in a single layer. Let these acquire a golden brown crust on one side (takes around 7-10 minutes) after which turn them over and crispen for 10 more minutes.

Serve hot with green chutney or a date tamarind chutney. We had it with store bought Date Tamarind Chutney (Kitchens of India, ITC) and it went superbly along with some slices of cool cucumber.

This is my entry to Meeta's Monthly Mingle - Bollywood Cooking.



Do check out another yummy sounding recipe for Colocassia posted by Raaga, we do have some kind of telepathy going. I received her mouthwatering and melt-in-your-mouth Nankhatais, along with a cooking paste and Mungodis from her in a courier that made my weekend. Needless to say the Nankhatais have been promptly devoured. Now i am so addicted to their taste, that I have to make some from her recipe this week. Thank you so much for the delicious stuff Raaga :)