27 August 2007

Happy Onam!

Happy Onam to all of you!

19 August 2007

Puri Bhaji for a tea party

( With blogger behaving badly, I was refused access to my own blog! These posts-in-waiting have been delayed. )

When Anita invited us to make puri-bhaji for her tea party, puri-bhaji it was for the weekend breakfast! Being puri lovers, it takes all morning of rolling out puris before I can sit to enjoy some. Puris are always served hot, straight off the smoking oil. Yet I was beaming from ear-to-ear thinking of the beautiful puffed up puris and my favourite potato bhaji to accompany it. And the husband dropped the bomb. "No, not puris today. I want something light." "Are you alright?" I asked, all my ballooned dreams crashing. What was wrong with this puri lover I wondered? "I'm not exercising enough", he said. The puri-less weekend passed by and the husband left on a week long trip. On such occasions, I'd generally stick to a one-pot meal, but puris have the ability to melt my will power.

For the puris, I took 2 cups of flour and kneaded it into a stiff dough adding a little water at a time. Rest it for 5 minutes and roll out puris and fry in hot oil.

For potato podimas/ potato bhaji, boil 5 big potatoes, peel and mash them. Heat oil in a pan, add a tsp of mustard/jeera and let it splutter. Add a chopped onion, 2 chopped green chillies and fry till translucent. Add a chopped tomato and fry for a minute. Add water, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and a spoon of pav bhaji masala and let the tomatoes turn soft. Add the mashed potato and allow it to cook for a few minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Microwave Bhindi/Okra

Express cooking idea # 3


Bhindi/Okra ki subzi

Masur-Moong Dal

Rotis – I'll not elaborate on this. It should suffice to say I make only designer rotis.


Chop one large onion finely. Chop ½ kg of bhindi/okra finely. Take a large MW vessel and put in the onion and okra. Add 1/4 tsp of each of salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, amchur/mango powder, garam masala, jeera powder, hing/asafoetida, pepper. Add a tsp of oil and sprinkle 2 tsp of water over it. Mix well and microwave on high for 4 minutes. It should be done. If not, cook for one minute at a time. It should not take more than 5 minutes. A masaledhar, almost oil-free okra ready in minutes!
Masur-moong dal – Recipe will follow.

Pasta in tomato sauce

Express cooking idea # 2 :Pasta in tomato sauce

Bring a large pot of water to boil and throw in the pasta ( I used macroni) and cook al dente (about 8 minutes). In a pan, sauté a tbsp of finely chopped garlic and chopped onions till soft. Add a handful of chopped bell peppers and fry a minute. Add a can of tomato puree and cook for 4 minutes. Throw in some dry herbs like oregano, basil or whatever you like, salt, pepper and stir through. Now add the pasta and mix well. If you find it too dry, add some liquid from the cooked pasta and stir. Take of the flame and cover for a minute. Serve.

Chinese Hakka Noodles

This lady has turned everyone into an express train! Ever since she announced her express cooking event, I've been running about my tasks everyday!!! And she is not satisfied. I sent her this and this and she asks, "But where is the meal?" Can't refuse her, can I?

Express cooking idea # 1 Chinese Hakka Noodles
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the noodles to it. Cook till soft, drain. In a large wok, stir fry a tbsp of white part of spring/green onions till soft. Throw in a tsp of chopped ginger and a tbsp of finely chopped garlic and fry. Now throw in some carrots, peas, French beans/ bean sprouts, cabbage, bell peppers chopped/sliced and sauté till tender. If you parboil the veggies first and then sauté them, cooking time is reduced. Add the noodles, some soy sauce, red chilli sauce, vinegar, white pepper and toss. Add salt only if required as the soy sauce already has a lot of salt. Serve warm.

7 August 2007

Custard Shahi Tukde

It's often easier to plan out the main course when I'm expecting guests than to decide the dessert! After all the cleaning up and cooking that accompanies entertaining, I'm too tired to prepare an appealing dessert. On many occasions the myriad options narrowed down to store bought icecreams, which the kids eyed wistfully (you know how moms are paranoid about infections from a spoonful of icecream!) I found the solution which appealed to everyone. A good looking, 10 minute dessert sure to get you a few compliments from guests. You can even make this on regular days when you have those sweet cravings. Read on to see how simple it is:

Cut the corners of 6-7 slices of bread and save the crumbs for later use. Smear some ghee on both sides of the bread slices. Roast the bread gently on a skillet till golden. Arrange the slices on the serving dish.

Put 2 cups of milk to boil. In ½ cup of milk mix 2 tbsp of custard powder (vanilla flavour) and sugar as per taste. Add to the hot milk and stirring continuously. Let the consistency remain liquidy. Pour hot custard over the bread slices evenly. The bread should soak in the custard and turn sweet. Garnish with coarsely crushed pistachios and almonds and candied cherries. Serve at room temperature or cold.

For a richer, heavier shahi tukde you can deep fry the bread in ghee, dunk the fried bread in milk+sugar syrup, garnish with cream, mava, fruit slices etc, etc.

Sending this express dessert to Mallugirl for her Express Cooking event. Hope she accepts it.

1 August 2007

Safety Moment #4: Kitchen Appliances and Tools-II and a Meme

Continuing the series from here

Microwave ovens

· Make sure the microwave is located at approximately waist level and within easy reach, to provide for ease in the lifting of hot foods.
· Follow manufacturer's instructions for operating microwave ovens.
· Cover foods cooked in microwaves to avoid splattering.
· If the food is covered during cooking, make sure to leave a small portion vented, or uncovered, so steam doesn't build up and burn you when the covering is removed. Use caution when opening covered containers. Open containers away from the face because they could be extremely hot.
· Do not microwave whole eggs in its shell. Always prick potatoes, eggplants, sausages to prevent steam buildup and an explosion.
· Be aware that food cooked in the microwave can remain hot long after the microwave turns off. Use appropriate personal protective equipment such as hot pads when removing foods from microwave.
· The foods should sit as directed in the recipe after being removed from the oven so the heat can continue to spread and dissipate. This is called 'standing time', but it is actually more cooking time.
· Most ovens have hot spots, and if you eat the food directly from the oven, a few areas could be superheated and will burn. On the flip side, there can also be cold spots where the food doesn't get hot enough to kill bacteria. Follow stirring and rotating instructions carefully.
· Do not use metal foils or containers unless the recipe specifically directs you to. Microwaves bounce off metal, which can cause arcing and a fire inside the oven.
· Some recipes may call for shielding parts of the food, especially meats, with small amounts of foil. This is perfect acceptable as long as the directions are carefully followed.
· Keep the interior of the microwave clean to avoid splattering and popping.
· Make sure door seals are in good condition and free from food or grease buildup. Never operate a microwave if the door is damaged or doesn't close securely. Damaged ovens may emit harmful radiation.
· If you notice any sparking inside the microwave, immediately turn off the microwave, unplug it and do not use it, until it is repaired.
· Do not operate the oven while it is empty. This can also cause arcing and start a fire.
· Make sure any glass, plastic containers, and plastic wrap you use are labeled 'microwave safe'.
· Do not heat water or other liquids beyond the time recommended by the manufacturer or any recipe. Superheating can occur when plain water is heated in a clean cup for an excessive amount of time. The water will look innocuous, but when moved it can literally erupt out of the cup. Don't heat the water twice - that adds to the superheating risk. Adding sugar or coffee granules/teabag to the water before heating it will reduce the risk of superheating. But never add sugar /teabags to freshly microwaved liquids while holding the cup in your hand or close to your face.
· It's also a good idea to stand atleast a foot away from the microwave when it is operating - just to be on the safe side and avoid microwave radiation. Be advised that microwaves may interfere with the workings of pacemakers.


· It is important to monitor and maintain the temperature of the fridge. Find the refrigerator setting that keeps the temperature within the range of 1 to 3º C (34º to 40º F) or colder throughout the refrigerator.
· Be sure that the refrigerator doors are closed tightly at all times. Do not open the doors more often than necessary and close them as soon as possible.
· It is important to remember that cool air in the refrigerator moves downward and forces warmer air near the bottom to rise. This circulation of air is essential in maintaining the appropriate temperature throughout the unit.
· The placement of food is also important for refrigerator safety. Do not overpack the shelves with food. The refrigerator air needs to circulate to keep every food item at its optimum temperature.
· Food storage: Cover foods to retain moisture because the air circulating in the refrigerator will dry out any uncovered or unwrapped food items. This also prevents them from picking up odors from other foods.
· Clean out the fridge clean regularly.
· Freezer temperature should be maintained between 0º F and 5º F (-17º C and -15º C).

Stoves and Cooking ranges

· Always make sure the oven and stove top is clean. If not, clean them thoroughly and safely. Residue grease and food can catch fire.
· Keep pot handles turned inward, away from the edge of the stove. Don't wear long, loose sleeves that can hang over the stove while cooking.
· Flammable fabrics, such as towels, dish rags or curtains can be ignited merely by being used or stored near a gas or electric range.
· Vapors from contact cement, gasoline, cleaning fluids or other flammable liquids can be ignited by the pilot of the kitchen range.
· Always remember to switch off the stove when not in use.
Asha has given more tips, read here.

Disclaimer: All information is taken from various sources on the internet.

Lately, it's been raining meme's on foodblogs and I was happy to escape being tagged. But I was tagged twice yesterday by Dhana and Ramya to reveal Seven Random Facts about myself. So here it is…..

1. I used to be a very reserved and quiet person, but am pretty talkative now. I was a very good Bharatnatyam dancer and quite passionate about it, but lost touch after college.

2. People I meet remember me a girl with long hair. My hair was so long – a hereditary factor - it would inch towards my knees if I didn't trim them. Even today if I run into someone, they will check how long my hair is and chide me for cutting them off!!

3. Right from my babyhood, I entered the kitchen only to eat, and never to cook, observe the on-goings or help around. My younger sister was just the opposite; she knew how to dice the veggies for sambhar or slice them for aviyal from the time she was 2 or 3 years!! Everyone mentioned how clever and nice the younger one was and how I didn't know anything. Obviously, I didn't like that. So one day I told my mum I'd help her to cut French beans. Help I did and with the beans, I also cut my finger. Seeing all the blood ooze out, I nearly fainted. After that, I didn't venture to the kitchen for a long, long time!!

4. In high school, I showed "interest" in cooking. I told my mum that I would make vegetable biryani every Sunday. But I had some conditions – I hated to chop the vegetables, so mom had to do that bit. And since she was anyway at it, why not cook them and keep aside? Then ofcourse, she had to keep the masala ready. I didn’t know to cook the rice, so that was her department too! So come Sunday, I'd return from my dance classes and enter the kitchen, put on my apron, fry the masala and layer the biryani and tell everyone I had made it!! I thought it was boring to make regular home food. Everything I made would be christened Shahi something, or Nawabi something or Royal… you get the hint?

5. I hail from a veggie family and had never seen chicken bought, cleaned or cooked ever before I got married. The first time I made chicken, I felt a whole range of emotions!! And the chicken burned! I kept mum about the chicken and didn't serve it to my BIL and family who were invited to lunch. But my better half announced that it was my first trial, and both he and BIL being magnanimous, were eating the burnt chicken!! God bless them. After all my cooking escapades, I have a foodblog!!!! And I have to say, I've come a long way from the burnt chicken days!

6. I enjoy reading books, articles, anything. I love traveling; my husband travels a lot on work and I'm ever ready to travel with him to Iran, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Aberdeen, Papua New Guinea etc etc….. except that my pleas fall on deaf ears!

7. I'm very sensitive to smells. A strong perfume may make me faint!

Now who do I tag… Mallugirl (Malabar Spices), Meeta (What's for lunch, honey), Sandeepa (Bong mom's cookbook), Susan (Food blogga), Anita (A mad tea party). Take it if you like.