29 March 2007

Rajma/Red Kidney beans in Tomato Gravy

First a reminder : Please send in your contribution to the Safety Moment before March 31. The theme for the month is General Safety.

Rajma or kidney beans are high in starch, protein and dietary fibre and is an excellent source of iron, potassium, selnium, thaiamine, vitamin B6, and folic acid.(Wiki) Rajma-chawal, an absolute comfort food is a part of Punjabi cuisine from North India. Kidney beans are of different types, the once I use are white kidney beans or Jammu rajma. In this recipe, I've used Jammu rajma which looks like this.

Red Kidney Beans in Tomato Gravy or Rajma is my entry to JFI – Tomatoes, hosted by RP of My Workshop. Rajma won't be rajma without all those tomatoes in it!! I use tomatoes every single day, but I didn't find anything picturesque enough to post for JFI. Then I realized I'm running out of time. So here's my rajma which I prepared when I had guests over for lunch last week. They were happy to see a spread different from their own home cuisine, they loved the rajma and they clicked pictures – yay, I got a picture too so my work was easy!

You need:
3 cups of rajma
3 onions
5-6 large tomatoes
2 green chillies
1 ½ tbsp ginger-garlic paste
a pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
Salt as per taste
Coriander for garnish

Wash the rajma well and soak overnight. Drain the soaked water and pressure cook the rajma till soft with salt and slices of ginger. While the rajma is cooking, crush onions in a crusher and puree the tomatoes separately. Heat oil in a pan, add the asafoetida and sauté the onions till brownish red in colour. Add the ginger garlic paste and slit green chillies and fry. Then pour the tomato puree, add the red chilli powder and coriander powder. Cook the puree well till the raw smell disappears and the oil separates. Then add the cooked rajma, little by little mashing with the spoon. There are 2 ways now.

A} Add the coriander leaves and check for seasoning. Add the garam masala and stir through well. This is sukhe rajma, which go well with rotis or parathas.

B} For more gravy, add sufficient water and salt. Allow the rajma to boil and simmer a bit. Add the garam masala and coriander leaves for garnish. Serve hot with jeera rice.

21 March 2007

Safety Moment

My husband was discussing the HSEQ practices in his company. As most of you may already know, HSEQ stands for Health, Safety, Environment and Quality. I consider the kitchen my domain – surely most of you do too. But how conscious are we about safety in our kitchens? Do we remember to wipe of those tiny drops of water we spill on the kitchen floor? Do we realise how unsafe our kitchens can be for curious little kids? Do we know of the hazards posed by our kitchen appliances? And those sharp knives lying around? Or those tea towels thrown around carelessly?

My husband encouraged me to hold a Safety Moment on my blog. What do we do here, discuss kitchen safety ofcourse! I first thought this would be a one-off event, but the more I thought about it, I realised there were many safety issues to address. Here's what I propose. There will be a topic for each month. All of you are invited to provide your views/suggestions on that topic. It may be just a line, a word of caution, a piece of advice. If any of you would like to share any experience/ incident you, or someone you know, have had, we will be happy to learn from you. You may post an article on your blog on the given topic, or add a line to your regular post highlighting the safety moment. Do you want to express your thoughts pictorially? You are welcome to send in any sketches/pictures/cartoons (yes, we can make this a fun event too!)

What are your thoughts on this? Please let me know. Would you like to host this event? Your comments, suggestions, advise are welcome. Spare a moment, make our kitchens safe!

The topic for the month is General Safety. Since this idea is still new among us, let's touch on general safety measures we should follow in our kitchens. What can we write here…..dangers of hot surfaces, sharp objects, clothing, lifting heavy kitchen items, steam/vapour build-up….. the list can go on. As I've said earlier, you may mail me your views or experience on the topic or include a Safety Moment in your post, even if it is a single line. Mail me a link to your Safety Moment at vjyothsna1@yahoo.com along with your name, your blog name and URL by March 31. I shall do a round-up in the first week of April.

Pina Colada

The pina colada. Sorry folks, there's no alcohol in it!! Didn't we just talk of safety here? Ok, I'll call it Virgin Pina colada, here's the recipe.

Blend together 500ml chilled pineapple juice, 200 ml coconut milk and 250 ml vanilla icecream. Pour into a glass, garnish with pineapple chunks and serve. Off this goes to Maheshwari who is hosting AFAM-Pineapple.

14 March 2007

Savoury Cakes

"Hmmm, it smells great", said the husband. "I'm trying out something different", said the wife. "Oh, whatever it is, it smells good", repeated the husband. "I'm baking a cake, a savoury cake", said the wife. "A what?" asked the husband. "A savoury cake", repeated the wife. "What's that!" the shocked husband asked. Unsure how the cake turned out, what it would taste like, the wife kept mum. The husband turned to his newspaper and was lost in the business section.
Later, the wife cut the cake and served the husband – she didn't dare to taste it herself. "What's that?" asked the husband yet again. "The savoury cake", replied the wife. "It's salty and spicy, not sweet like the regular cakes", the wife proceeded to inform. "Ok, I'm the guinea pig anyway", the husband replied resignedly. He took a bite, delivered his verdict and polished off the plate.
The next morning he announced," I'll have that thing you made yesterday for breakfast." He had it with his lunch and dinner too.
The following day a friend came over, the last piece of cake was left, which the husband offered the friend. "What's that?" asked the friend. "A savoury cake", he informed knowledgeably, '"it's got salt and spices in it." "Hmmm, it's good" said the friend, "you must teach my wife to make this."
Here's how the wife baked the savoury cake. It's got a bit of all types of spices, and it's healthy – atleast the wife thinks so!!

You'll need:
2 cups wholewheat four
2 tbsp ragi flour/finger millet flour
2 green chillies
A handful of coriander and parsley leaves finely chopped
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp chilli flakes
4-5 tbsp red, orange, yellow and green bell peppers and mushrooms lightly roasted in 1 tsp butter
½ tsp dry basil
½ tsp dry thyme
A pinch of clove powder
A pinch of cinnamon powder
Salt to taste
1 cup of cheddar cheese
3 tbsp mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line and grease the baking tin. Combine all the ingredients, reserving some cheese for the topping. Mix well and scrape into the baking tin. It will be a sticky mixture. Top with cheese and bake for 40 minutes. I know the brown colour of the cake isn't appetising, it's due to the wheat and ragi flours. You get a nice crusty, dense cake that is spicy and filling. tastes wonderful, especially when you bite into the bell peppers. And if you decide to overlook the cheese, it's really healthy too!! :)
Tip: Substituting plain flour with whole wheat flour and a bit of ragi flour in this recipe. Read about the benefits of ragi/finger millet here and here. This is also my entry to Sushma's Monthly Cooking Tipology.

7 March 2007

Schezwan Rice

It's fairly quick to fix an Indo-Chinese dinner, especially if your guests like this cuisine. You can have a variety of dishes which hardly take much cooking time. I think I spend more time chopping up the vegetables than actually cooking the dish. This recipe for schezwan rice is long overdue. So let's get straight to it!

You will need:
3 cups cooked rice
¾ cup of diced carrots, beans and peas
¾ cup of leeks/spring onions
Ajinomoto – optional
Schezwan sauce – see recipe here
Salt, pepper
Colour – optional
Note: I do not use colour or msg in my recipes

Blanch the carrots, beans and peas. Heat oil and butter in a pan. Stir fry the vegetables for 2 minutes. Add the rice, schezwan sauce, salt, pepper, colour, ajinomoto and leeks/ spring onions and stir fry. Garnish with leeks/spring onions. Serve with Chilli chicken or Manchurian.

1 March 2007

Potato Cups

Pretty aren't they? The versatile potato is cooked in my kitchen very regularly. After all, who does not like potatoes? So my entry to Jihva for Ingredients – Potatoes, hosted by Vaishali of Happy Burp is Pomme de terre cups. Simple and quick, you can fill in any stuffing you wish into these cups. Here's what I did:

Parboil the potatoes, keep the skin intact. Cut the potatoes into two. Scoop out the centre and keep aside. Grate/mash the centre, add some cooked corn, dry basil, salt, crushed black pepper, a few scrapings of cheddar cheese, a few drops of milk and mix well. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes at 200 degree C.

One more mellowed look.....