Posts tagged vegetarian

A pickling story…

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The language used in the label is ‘Telugu’, the main language spoken in the south Indian state I was born in which was recently cut up into two states thanks to greed, conflict and war. I was taught to write in this language since I was 10 and I was a reluctant learner. I don’t do justice to the language when I speak it but I understand it very well. I consider the state my birth place and it saddens me terribly to see it torn up.

I’ve mentioned this state because it is known for its pickles. Pickles made from vegetables, fruit and meat, pickles made to be eaten right away and ones made to last for years, pickles that are enough to make a meal and pickles that make a necessary side dish.

Summer is slowly but surely creeping up on us and Summer back home meant mangoes and mangoes meant pickles. Sunday is the day when families go shopping for the best raw mangoes - the shrill of the market vendors calling out to you, giving you a better deal, handing out a piece to taste. The sourer it is, the harder it is the better. As we kids hang around, our parents/grandparents/relatives fill up bags full of raw mangoes and head over to the next step of the pickle making process.

A bunch of people sit with a huge board and a vicious looking knife, chopping off at mangoes and trying to get business at the same time. After bargaining amidst customers yelling about how they wanted the pieces cut, we wait our turn and count away at the mangoes making sure the number is right.

Then we get onto the Vespa, snuggled between Grandpa and whoever else decides to make it to the market and reach home but not before you pocket a few pieces of cut raw mango to chew on. On reaching home the mango pieces would be washed and laid out on cotton cloth under the sun under watchful eyes lest drooling mouths wander to steal a few pieces. 

The actual pickling process itself was almost sacred. The kitchen would be sterilized, the utensils cleaned and dried, each ingredient measured and most importantly all kids shooed away. Once done, large bharanis are used to store pickles and they are stowed away on attics where they rest for two weeks after which they are brought down and mixed and returned for resting.

Only a month after the actual pickling process are we allowed to taste it and the tasting day is one I wish I could relive. All the kids in the house would gather around Grandma and she would have a huge steel place filled with piping hot steamed sona masoori rice. A generous dollop of ghee in the center and a side of the pickle - the green skin of the mango standing out against the red chilli oil. Our granny would mix it all up(all the time blowing to avoid scalding her fingers) and make balls - a size too big for our mouths but just right to hold in our cupped hands. And we would each devour them till we were over-satiated, eyes streaming, ears smoking and tummies bulging. 

Summer time is the best time ever!

P.S: I’ve never seen the actual process of mango pickling from up close and so I am still very intimidated by it. 

P.S.S: The picture included in this post is NOT Mango. It reads ‘Tomato Roti Pacchadi’ so its a tomato pickle.

I have a single picture for this simply because it was so good. period. It was devoured in less than a week!

I am a supporter of reusing and recycling whenever possible. The bottle you see in this image has been reused. And in all probability will be reused again.

Waffles - my way oooor yours :)

I think I’ve mentioned earlier how Oats flour plays a significant role in our home. After having been introduced to it more than a year ago by my Mom, we’ve been using up boxes of Quaker Oats like nobody’s business. Warming up a glass of Lactaid and adding two tablespoons of the Oats flour and some honey and fruits makes for a pretty quick and delectable breakfast. If time permits, Oats dosa is an all time favourite and can be whipped up in no time. 

Another constant the last two years have been weekend getaways at hotels where continental breakfasts are served. What we got used to during those trips were ‘Waffles' - the unhealthiest kind. I got so tired of these mostly round, pocketed, doughy things that I decided to get myself a waffle maker and make my own recipe. A recipe that I could relate to, that had ingredients from my pantry and that we could all enjoy - guilt free without missing out on taste. 

So this morning after a few unsuccessful attempts in the past, I walked around the kitchen, shuffling through my pantry for ingredients that called out to me, measured them and put them together and looking down at the plate and it was Eureka time. I was pleased - mighty pleased might I add because the composition of the ingredients, the time to put it all together resulted in golden brown crunchy outsides while being cooked and spongy inside.

Ingredients:

Oats flour - 1 Cup

Durum Whole Wheat flour - 1 Cup

Sugar - 2 Tbsp

Salt - 1/4 Tsp

Baking Powder - 1 Tsp

Corn Flour - 4 Tbsp 

Yogurt - 8 Tbsp

Water - 1/2 Cup + a little more to make the batter consistency just right

Half and Half (optional) - 2 Tbsp

When you have all your ingredients ready, turn on your waffle machine so that it gets heated up.

In a glass bowl, mix all your ingredients to form a smooth batter. 

Use a non stick spray to grease the waffle iron and pour the batter. Use per the instructions mentioned on your machine. I simple flip it after I pour the batter and then wait for the light to turn green. Also I set the heat level anywhere between medium and high for that perfect golden crust that I like.

Serve warm with maple syrup - try pure maple syrup - its expensive but oh so flavourful! Or if you aren’t a sweet breakfast person, mix it up with pickles or just fruit or eat it plain or go crazy and drizzle some chutney over it. All I ask is that you eat it right after you take it off the waffle maker. Dont wait and dont make it wait. Promise me!

Simple enough? Well this recipe needs a gadget but I just started to think up recipes I could make with different types of flours and the $35 I spent and the 10” X 10” counter space seems well worth it. Hopefully I’ll share all the successful experiments here soon!

Saffron Almond katli

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I was inspired to make this dessert thanks to a going away gift i got from a coworker ~ a huge jar of mandeline almond paste. I looked up recipes of cookies, cakes and then wondered if I could use it in traditional Indian gravies and finally decided on making a different version of the famed Kaju Katli » behold the infamous Badam/Almond Katli!

Although I didn’t end up using the almond paste Tracy gifted me, I think it would make for a perfect ingredient in this dish. I went the from scratch way and the result wasn’t half as bad as I expected it to turn out.

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Ingredients:

°Whole Almonds : 225 gms
Fine Sugar : 160 gms
Milk : 3/4th Cup
Saffron : 20 strands powdered and another 20 strands for garnish
Cardamom powder: 1/4 Tsp
Clarified butter/Ghee : 2 Tbsp

°Prepping the Almonds:
Boil water in a saucepan and add the whole almonds to it. Blanch for a minute and then transfer the almonds to cold water.
Gently press on each almond to remove the skin. Pat dry.
In a grinder, grind the almonds to a fine paste adding the milk ~ a little at a time. 
In a heavy bottomed wok or sauce pan add the almond paste, sugar and mix well. On medium fire, heat this mixture while stirring constantly. Stir in the clarified butter.

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Add the saffron powder and cardamom powder and continue to stir. Continue to stir for almost 45/50 minutes. The mixture starts to separate from the sauce pan and thats when you know the dessert is ready.

Transfer to greased molds or spread onto a greased plate and let cool.

Serve warm or cold. Store for upto a week in the refrigerator.

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The mystery behind Achappams

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As a south Indian I grew up eating these for snacks - Achappams - crispy, light, slightly sweet and fun! It wasn’t until recently that I found out that they were called Rosettes out here. 

*Update: I just found out that these are also called Chinese Pretzels! Thank you Tracy!

So I jumped at the chance and got myself the molds from Kitchen Collection and didn’t wait too long to give it a try. While making them though I found that there are a lot of nuances that you need to make a note of as you go along. For example the mold has to be hot but not too hot, the batter a certain consistency, the mold dipped to a certain height - not too deep, not too shallow, the oil should not be too hot, you need to change the heat as you make it to make it more crispy. Notes I compiled so I could share it with you.

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First lets look at the ingredients you’ll need:

All purpose Flour - 1 Cup

Rice Flour - 4 Tbsp

Egg - 1 large beaten

Milk - 1/2 Cup

Water - 1 Cup

Sugar - 2 Tbsp or 3 if you like it really sweet.

Salt - 1 pinch or 1/8th Tsp

Flavouring : I used cardamom powder but you can use vanilla essence if you like or strawberry or any other flavor you like.

Natural colouring if you prefer it that way.

Oil for Frying - About 1.5 to 2 Cups . A note on the oil I used. I’ve been experimenting with grapeseed oil recently and because of its high smoking point, I’d definitely recommend it. But please feel free to use vegetable oil, canola oil or coconut oil or shortening.

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     In a glass bowl add the beaten egg, the flours and start mixing. Add milk and water and mix to a smooth ‘pancake’ batter like consistency. There should not be any lumps.

     Add the sugar, salt, flavour and color and mix well. What I did to avoid lumps is to give the mix a quick beat with a hand mixer.

     Heat oil in a preferably deep bottom, wide mouthed sauce pan. To test if the oil is ready just add a drop of the batter to it and it should sizzle and rise up immediately.

     Now join the mold to the holder and place it in the oil for about 10-15 seconds. Pat the excess oil off onto a paper towel and gently dip the mold into the batter. The mold should go in about 3/4th of the way. So when you dip it into the batter you should be able to see the top of the mold.

     Now dip the mold into the oil for about 10-15 seconds. The batter will start to sizzle and fall off the mold when you gently shake the mold. If it doesn’t come off that easy use a wooden skewer to separate the batter from the mold. I have a quick video here

     Now reduce the heat and let it brown a bit. The low heat allows the achappams to turn crispy. After about 30 seconds turn the achappam over and let the other side brown as well. 

     Use a skewer and transfer the achappams onto some kitchen towels to absorb the excess oil. 

     Keep in an airtight container and serve with tea!

I’ve been away far too long but here’s wishing you all a lovely year ahead!

           Happy 2014 Peepal!

This, that and persimmons

I never realized how much I would grow to love these weird tomato-ish looking fruit in such a short time. Mostly it was used for juicing with the juicing buddies and the fruit came straight from their family gardens. Recently a neighbor dropped by and game me some because, she said, her brother in law gave her so many, she didn’t know what to do with them all. I decided I’d make Persimmon Jam and then use that in a puff pastry! How ingenious is that! 

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Also I have been waiting a week for these beauties to ripen a bit more. Would it be weird if I offered some of the jam to the kind lady that gave me the fruit in the first place?

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I have been trying out puff pastry bite size dessert ideas for sometime now. Apricot preserve, Pumpkin butter, pineapple jam, strawberry preserve, orange marmalade, chocolate sauce, cheese, spinach - you name it. In India I used to love the egg puff although not as much the mess it made while eating though. And i think that is one of my main reasons to make them bite size - no mess. These can be devoured by the dozen, can be made healthy(using whole wheat puff pastry) and are fast and easy to make as well.

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I obviously had to pinterest all the little bite size treats i could. And I almost got lost deciding what I wanted to make. Finally i decided on giving these a try with what I had on hand before I went and splurged on fillings.

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Pretty simple, right? These are as simple and straightforward as they look. The prep time is about 15 minutes and the cook time - about 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold, they are definitely a treat to the eye and the tastebuds.

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Preheat oven to 375 F. Get puff pastry at the grocery store and thaw for about 10 minutes. Cut into desired shape and bake for 25-30 minutes. If you like to add egg wash to the top of the puff pastry, thats a good touch as well.

Once done, use a fork or your hand to make a small depression in the middle and add any pre-made topping you like!

2 notes 

Loss and Chole

Each of us deal with grief and loss in a different way. It might come as no surprise that I turn to food which is not necessarily a good thing. I decided though not to focus on the loss and instead write something about the person.

The one thing we had in common was that we loved food. I loved cooking(& eating) and he enjoyed eating. I come from a family that used to love non vegetarian food - a lot! It came as a big surprise to them when I stopped. For quite a few years after I stopped eating meat, I continued to cook it during family get togethers because people enjoyed it. 

I remember making chicken fry and having it wiped clean by the lot. I remember making baked fish and my uncle insisting on checking if it was cooked every few minutes - by tasting it. 

I have not cooked meat in a long while and have not eaten it either and so I decided to make a dish that we all loved eating and making regardless of the occasion. Chole, chickpeas in a tomato based gravy, eaten with rotis, puri or any form of flat bread or not, but always enjoyed by everyone.

I made a small modification and added a lot more fresh coriander than i usually would. The fresh greens added a flavor and color that was definitely a feast to the eyes and refreshing to the taste buds. This is not your typical chole and you will not find it at your local restaurant so if you’d like, give it a try. This recipe requires no finesse or knife skills but does require patience(waiting for the onion to almost caramelize for example) and ALL of the ingredients.

Ingredients:

Garbanzo beans - 2 cups soaked overnight, cooked and drained (You could alternatively use canned garbanzo beans)

Oil - Canola or Vegetable or Coconut oil - 1 Tbsp 

Onion - 1 Large roughly chopped

Tomatoes - 2 Cups roughly chopped

Garlic - 10 cloves

Ginger - same amount as the garlic roughly chopped up

Green chillis - 2

dry red chillis - 2 (Optional if you don’t prefer too much spice)

Curry leaves - 20-30 leaves

Coriander leaves - 2 bunches cleaned and separated

Salt to taste

How to go about it:

In a skillet, heat the oil and add the onion and garlic and ginger to it. Here is where the patience bit comes in. You need to cook it till the onion starts caramelizing about 15 minutes on medium high flame. (I put in a picture of how the onion should look, above)

This is when you add the tomatoes, chillis and the rest of the ingredients except one bunch of coriander leaves and coo till the tomatoes are real soft. Use the ladle to mash up the tomatoes and let the juice from the tomatoes cook everything else.

Turn off the heat and let this mixture cool just enough to put it into the grinder. Add the fresh coriander bunch that you kept aside earlier and grind to a smooth paste. You don’t want any unsightly lumps. Once the grinding is done add this to a sauce pan and add the garbanzo beans and cook covered for about 20 minutes and then uncovered for another 10 minutes. Make sure to taste and add salt if required. If you want this gravy to be a little less thick, feel free to add water. 

I must advise that you be careful when this gravy starts to come to a boil because it will start spluttering quite a bit. Let it boil for a few minutes and you can turn it off and serve warm. Garnish with roasted cashews and coriander leaves.

This keeps in the fridge for upto 3 days and in the freezer for upto a week (it could keep longer but I haven’t tried longer than that)

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Juicing updates

Juicing is going strong. We meet up everyday almost at the same time and finish up in 30 minutes from prep work to clean up.

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A lot of the juice buddies bring fruits from their garden. So luckily we’ve tasted guavas, persimmons, apples, grapefuits, avacados that are homegrown.

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We also have adventurous juices with ingredients such as chia seeds, dragon fruit, pomegranate. Kale and beets have become a must have and we love the color they impart.

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Sometimes thick, sometimes watery juicing updates are fun to share. I am slightly allergic to pineapple but I did taste it once and it was really good.

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This was the drink with the persimmon in it. I loved it. The only persimmons I’ve tasted are from a long time ago and they were not really tasty. These were plump, soft and juicy perfect for juicing. I even saved up the seeds to try and grow them.

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Olan

One of the simplest and healthiest dishes I’ve made. This vegetable literally takes care of itself. Olan is about simple ingredients, involves a simple cooking process and has a very rich flavor…

Cut up the winter melon, green chillies, ginger. Add curry leaves, salt, 1 tsp coconut milk and water and cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes or till it comes to a boil.

You’ll know its done when the melon pieces turn translucent. If you like taste it  now and add salt if needed.

Turn off heat and stir in another tablespoon of coconut milk. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

1 note 

Juicing updates

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I wanted to share the standard list that we send out to everyone so that the base of our juice stays pretty consistent. This list is shared once a week and everyone gets their share. Some of the expensive fruit is usually split and shared by a couple of juice buddies.

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BROCCOLI

SPINACH (Organic)

APPLES (Organic) (5)

APPLES (Organic) (5)

BANANAS (10)

ORANGES (10)

ORANGES (10)

Lemon (10)

TOMATOES (10)

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The group has experimented with some amazing greens and vegetables and some not so amazing ones as well. For example, mint is a big NO NO as is mustard greens. Celery has been voted out by the group. 

But we’ve tried sweet potato leaves, beet leaves, various varieties of sprouts - alpha alpha and pea sprouts for example. BEETS which is turning into one of my favourite vegetables - from being the one veggie I would run from(my Mom will vouch for this). I have been trying to introduce it into my daily diet in as much of a raw form as I can. Steamed beets are great too! Add some to cooked quinoa for some great color(and taste!).

Today’s blend consisted of :

1 medium sized beet, 1 whole juicy pineapple, 3 apples, 2 bananas, 3 Cups baby spinach, 4 kale leaves, a handful of sweet potato leaves, 1 cups grapes, broccoli (about 1.5 cups), 2 tomatoes, 2 lemon, quarter of a cabbage and 4 oranges!

Because of the number of ‘sweet’ fruits this blend was mostly sweet and we could hardly taste the greens in it. The days that the juice is as green as you see in one the images above, the taste is usually grassy ans sometimes on the bitter side and those are the days I usually scrunch up my face while drinking it. Those are also the days I smile more because I know I’ve done some good to my body.

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Happy Juicing!

Disclaimer: I am not on juicing for weight loss, nor have I seen any difference in my weight. My reason is to improve my health (which isn’t at its best). I have noticed that my digestive system has regulated itself a lot better than it has in the past. It might help everyone a little differently - some claim that their skin starts glowing, for some it might help in weight loss/maintenance.

Juicing

I’ve been juicing for a while now - well if two months is ‘a while’. I juice with a bunch of juicing buddies and have been enjoying every weird drink 5 times a week. We take a break on weekends though there have been weekends when I’ve missed it so much that I make a mini version for myself!

Pros:

  • We work together as a group so our juicing gets done in about 25 minutes. This includes, washing, cutting, blending and cleaning up.
  • Its a great way to meet up people you wouldn’t meet on a regular basis
  • You taste veggies and fruits that you wouldn’t try on a regular basis
  • It makes for a good dose of your daily fruits/veggies
  • We get a different blend(taste, color, smell) everyday so there’s no way we get bored.
  • It definitely regulates your digestive system
  • You don’t waste any fruits or veggies cause anytime you have anything in your fridge that you think you wont finish you could add it to the juicing.
  • We are slowing exploring the opportunity of starting a compost using the stuff we usually throw away(skin, stems etc)
  • I’ve actually started eating bananas (this is a personal milestone in my life since I have never been able to eat bananas before)

Cons:

I haven’t found one yet except maybe that you need a decent blender. We have a vitamix that makes juicing life so much easier.

Our juicing group has a few rules:

  • Bring your own cup - no paper cups allowed - great way to promote waste reduction and recycling
  • Contribute to the juicing group by bringing the ingredients
  • Stick to organic stuff when getting any of the dirty dozen
  • Do not bring anything that’s on the no bring list(which we all vote on)

I wanted to share some of the combos that have been a hit/miss with the crowd. I’ll start with one and keep adding as we go…

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Serves 10:

Apples - 2

Avocado - 1/2

Bananas - 2

Blueberries - 1 Cup

Broccoli - 1 Cup

Carrots - 4

Flax seeds - 1 Tbsp

Kale - 3 leaves

Lime/Lemon - 2

Mango - 1

Orange - 4

Pear - 2

Spinach - 3 Cups

Sprouts - 1/2 Cup

Tomatoes - 2

Add the above in a blender and add ice if you like your drink cold. Add a little water to help with the blending/consistency and blend till smooth. Drink away! This particular blend tastes tarty, sweet and was thick because of the avocados and the bananas.

If you think that you have a group that’s interested, form one and have fun blending and juicing!

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