Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sev Khamani/ સેવ ખમણી

Here I am with another savory delicacy from Gujarat. Originated from 'The City of Food Lovers' - Surat, it is quite popular almost everywhere in Gujarat. Though Khaman is quite famous among Non-Gujarati as well, not many are aware about this variation. 

In this tasty recipe, Chana Dal is cooked into spicy, fluffy mixture and topped with sev - it is simply irresistible. Usually I would crush leftover Khaman into Khamani, but this time I tried to make it from scratch. The best part about this dish is, it hardly consumes any oil. Be it served in breakfast or snacks or even as a side dish, it is always a hit. 

Serves 4-6 
Preparation Time: 15 Minute + soaking time 
Cooking Time: 20-30 Minute

2 cup chana dal 
2 tsp oil 
1 tsp mustard seeds 
1 tsp turmeric powder 
1 tsp coriander powder 
Pinch of asafetida 
10-15 curry leaves 
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced 
2 tsp green chili paste 
1 tsp ginger paste 
1/2 tsp sugar 
1 tsp lemon juice (or as per taste) 
1 cup milk 

To serve, 
Sev (Approx 1 cup) 
Coriander leaves 
Pomegranate seeds (optional)

1. Soak chana dal for 5-6 hours and grind into coarse mixture 
2. Heat oil in a deep pan, add mustard seeds and asafetida 
3. Add curry leaves and chili-ginger-garlic paste and saute for about a minute 
4. Add chana dal mixture, turmeric powder, coriander powder and mix well 
5. Cook it uncovered on low flame until oil starts separating on the edge, stirring in between 
6. Add salt, lemon juice and sugar, mix well 
7. Gradually add milk and stir continuously until it becomes soft and fluffy (Use more milk if mixture is still dry) 
8. Turn off the heat, garnish with sev and coriander leaves a
nd serve hot

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tortilla Rolls

A while ago a friend of mine shared this amazing recipe. These simple and delicious rolls are perfect appetizers for any occasion. And the best part is that they can be prepared in advance. After I had them for the first time, I thought several times to make them myself. But somehow it never became front burner priority. Then recently, I wanted to prepare appetizer and I did not want to put much efforts. Luckily, I had all ingredients available so could not wait to give it a shot!

Original recipe had green onions and jalapeno but I added green pepper and black olives and sprinkled taco seasoning as well. Instead of serving them immediately I wrapped the entire roll in plastic wrap and refrigerated for couple of hours.

Makes 35-40 rolls
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: NIL + Refrigeration time

4 pc tortillas
3 tbsp sour cream (at room temperature)
5 tbsp cream cheese (at room temperature)
4 tbsp green onions, finely chopped
4 tbsp green pepper, finely chopped
4 tbsp jalapeno, finely chopped
4 tbsp black olives, finely chopped
4 tbsp coriander leaves
1 tsp taco seasoning

1. Mix sour cream and cream cheese thoroughly
2. Spread this on tortilla and add all veggies
3. Sprinkle taco seasoning
4. Make a tight roll, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for couple of hours
5. Cut into 1/2" thick rolls

These rolls can be served with salsa. Although they taste equally good just like that!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chocolate Graham Bars

Crunchy Graham Crackers filled with rich chocolate and whipped cream - a delicious twist to a traditional campfire s'more! These bars are so easy to make that they have become perfect petite desserts on a weeknight. And you do not need campfire for this!

Ideally S'more have melted marshmallow, but as we are not big fan of it, I used whipped cream instead. And instead of consuming them immediately, I chilled them for couple of hours.

Makes 8 bars
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: 5 Minute + chilling time

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Nestle)
1/4 cup whipped cream
24 graham crackers (I used whole wheat)

1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips for 2-3 minutes and keep it aside
2. Once chocolate cools down, spread it on a cracker, top it with second cracker, spread  cream and cover it with the third cracker. Drizzle some melted chocolate
3. Chill them (in freezer) before serving

These bars can also be served with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mexican Chaat!

Who can say no to delicious Indian Chaat? Smothered between tamarind and coriander-mint chutney, yogurt and usually stuffed with potato and chickpeas mixture and then loaded with other bunch of spices - Indian Chaat is the most popular street food. It is kind of addictive too. You know it's not healthy and hygienic, but you just cannot resist them.

And when you do not have luxury to live in your home country, you become adapt in ways you haven't imagined. I make Chaat very often and mostly completely from scratch, but still I do not have satisfaction of having the very same dish on the streets of India. Lately I wanted to try something different based on Chaat and I came up with this Mexican Chaat idea. It was not much of an experiment though since I use almost all ingredients in salad except sour cream.

I literally replaced essential Chaat ingredients with their Mexican counterparts. Like,
Chickpeas = Beans
Potato = Pepper + Corn
Chutney = Taco sauce
Yogurt = Sour cream with taco seasoning

Ideally we need Tortilla Scoops as base but as this was my last minute idea, I worked with Toastada Shells.

Makes 8 Tostada or 25-30 tortilla scoops
Preparation Time: 15 minute + soaking time
Cooking Time: 15 Minute

1/2 cup red kidney bean
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup cherry tomato, cut in halves
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup mixed pepper, diced
1/4 cup taco sauce
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup Mexican blend cheese
1/2 tsp lime/lemon juice
8 Tostada shells or tortilla scoops
Salt and Pepper

For Garnishing,
Coriander leaves,
Scallions, finely chopped

1. Soak beans for 6-8 hours and pressure cook them with salt
2. Add salt and taco seasoning to sour cream and whisk thoroughly
3. If using toastada shells, bake them as per instructions till become crispy
4. Mix diced onions, peppers and corn and season them with salt, pepper and lime juice

How to serve,
1. Take a scoop or a shell, spread layers of beans, veggie mixture, sour cream, taco sauce and cheese
2. Top with cherry tomatoes and garnish with coriander leaves and scallions
3. Serve immediately

See, now Chaat can be healthy too and I'm sure kids who say BIG NO to salad will literally hog this :).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stuffed Peppers

I was all set to make stuffed peppers with first batch of home grown peppers. Inspired from Mexican Cuisine, these colorful bites are festive and mighty tasty. Stuffed with rice and beans, topped with cheese and sauce and then baked at perfection, these peppers make delicious side dish along with Tacos/Enchiladas/Burritos.

Originally I had thought to make Indian version, stuff them with potato and onion and fry them on griddle.I so much love this dish but unfortunately cannot make often since it requires small and tender peppers. During summer, I pick fresh peppers from farm exclusively for this dish only.So this year when I decided to plant a few vegetables myself, peppers were top in the list. However, about the same time when first batch was ready, I also found small red, orange and yellow peppers as well in a local grocery store. Hence I decided to make Mexican style instead.

Yields 12 servings (Small size peppers)
Preparation Time: 10 Minute + soaking time
Cooking Time: 1 Hr

1/2 cup rajma/black kidney beans
1/4 cup sliced onions
1/4 cup corn
1/4 cup tomato, diced
2 tbsp black olives, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice
2 tsp taco seasoning
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp salsa
1/4 cup taco sauce
1/3 cup Mexican blend or cheddar cheese
12 pc peppers (I used different colors)

1. Scoop peppers and take out the seeds. Lightly brush them with olive oil and bake them at 350 F for 30-40 minute or until they are cooked. Turn the sides frequently
2. Soak beans for 6-8 hours and then pressure cook them
3. Cook rice with 1/2 cup of water, keep it aside
4. Heat oil in skillet, add cumin seeds, onion and garlic. When onions become translucent, add tomatoes, corn, olive, beans and rice
5. Add salt, taco seasoning, salsa and mix well, turn off the heat
6. Now stuff pepper with this rice-bean mixture, top with sauce, cheese and bake at 350 F until cheese is melted (About 10 minute) and then broil it for another 4-5 minute so cheese can form crispy layer
7. Serve hot

Friday, July 15, 2011

Corn Panki

Corn Panki is Corn and Soji pancakes steamed between banana leaves. This quick, easy and healthy yet delicious fix is perfect for breakfast, brunch or even light supper. As I do not have banana leaves, instead of steaming I fried them on griddle with very little oil.

Long ago when I was looking for healthy recipes I came across this one. I exactly followed the recipe (which used only Soji and Plain Flour) but did not find the end product very appealing since it was not crispy. So I thought to add rice flour to have crispy Panki and also added more whole corn kernel to feel the corn in every bite. So here is my version of Corn Panki..

Make 8 6" Panki
Preparation Time: 15 Minute
Cooking Time: 30 Minute

1 cup rice flour
2 tsp oji
4 tsp plain flour
1.5 cup + 2 tbsp corn kernels
1 tsp green chili paste
1/2 tsp ginge paste
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1/4 tsp roastd cumin powder
2 tsp curd
Oil for frying

1. Mix all three flours and sieve them
2. Roughly chop 1.5 cup corn kernels using chopper and add to flour
3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well
4. Add water and mix well for thick consistent batter (like pancake)
5. Fry panki on griddle on both sides until crispy and light brown
6.Serve hot with curd/chutney

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Veg Paneer Kabab

During long weekend we planned a potluck picnic in a nearby park and my job was to prepare appetizers. I had to make something that can be prepared in advance, liked by kids and tastes good even when served cold and of course, something that is easy to carry. I asked for suggestions and people came up with ideas like cutlets or vegetable patties. (Last time I had prepared Alu-vada for the same group and was well received)

I liked the idea of cutlets and I thought to add tasty twist by increasing quantities of veggies, adding paneer and adding besan for binding instead of only conventional bread crumbs. Kabab is generally referred to middle eastern dish made of meat which is roasted, grilled or stewed or sometimes even fried. I replaced meat with mashed potatoes and here is my delicious version of veg kabab!

Makes 50-55 kababs
Preparation Time: 30 Minute
Cooking Time: 1 hr

6 cup mashed potato (About 9-10 medium pc, approx. 2.5 lb)
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped green beans
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup green pepper
1 cup paneer, crumbled
1/2 cup besan/gram flour
1.5 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp green chili paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp lemon/lime juice
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp clove-cinnamon powder
Oil for frying

1. Boil and mash potatoes, keep them aside
2. Dry roast besan on low flame until it turns pink/light brown and add it to potato mixture
3. Heat oil in skillet, add cumin seeds, sesame seeds and all veggies
4. Lightly cook veggies uncovered on medium flame, stirring in between
5. Add paneer, mix well and turn off the heat
6. Once this mixture cools down, add it to mashed potatoes
7. Add remaining spices and bread crumbs, mix well
8. Make small patties (I made oval shaped) and shallow fry them on both sides until golden brown. If they fall apart or do not come out crispy, add more bread crumbs and/or besan

Serve warm with chutney (We had them at room temperature and they tasted perfect)

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Vegetables/Herbs Garden

I consider myself lucky to be raised in a family where blooming of flower or vegetable is considered an occasion. I have fond memories from childhood seeing my parents always talking about how to mend and care our garden. We have always had flowers in front and side of the house and different kinds of vegetables in back as long as I can remember. Mom would always offer flowers to God every morning from our garden. We had luxury to have home grown vegetables almost all winter.

So when I got married and came to US, I have always wanted to continue this tradition. Unfortunately, I did not have an apartment so far with outdoor space. Hence when we moved to this new place last winter, I was eagerly waiting for summer. (Though my parents are quite pro, I myself had never done any job.) I shared this idea of having few plants with my husband. He did not sound as enthu as I was but he left everything up to me.Finally one fine evening I went to Home Depot, picked few vegetables which I will be using frequently. I was quite disappointed to find that all of them require direct sunlight at least 6 hours a day since direction of my balcony does not support it. I read tutorials online and watched videos and yes, kept my fingers crossed.

It has been couple of months now and all of them are fully grown. This year I have only 4 of them but next year I intend to have more, thinking to add parsley, jalapeno and oregano. And yes, I am indeed happy and satisfied.

Sweet Cherry Tomato

Sweet Green Pepper

Basil (I use fresh ones during summer and dried leaves during winter, I use it in pasta/pizza sauce and salads)

Mint (This has been my favorite. It hardly requires any care and I use it almost everyday in Raita, Chutney, Tea and Salads)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mediterranean Chickpeas Salad

Summer is a season for cold and delicious refreshing salads.Chickpeas are versatile and welcomed in salad, pasta and stew. Chickpeas along with feta cheese lend Mediterranean flair to this easy and healthy salad.

During summer, somehow none of likes to have salad and I have to work hard to bring varieties in this category. The other day I already had boiled chickpeas and thought to make salad as a side dish. Then I looked online and found several recipes for chickpeas salad in Mediterranean cuisine. I found it simple, elegant and healthy. So here I am..

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 15 minute + soaking time for chickpeas
Cooking Time: NIL

2 cup chickpeas, boiled
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
6 pc black olives, chopped
1 tsp scallion, finely chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled (I did not use)

For Dressing,
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp yogurt
Herbs (chopped) of your choice (I used 1/4 tsp flat leaf parsley, 7-8 leaves of fresh mint and 5-6 leaves of fresh basil)
Salt and pepper

1. Mix all ingredients for dressing and keep it aside
2. In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients except cheese
3. Pour dressing over to chickpeas and veggies mixture, mix well
4. Add feta cheese
5. Serve cold

This salad can be prepared well in advance. In such case, add salt and tomato when ready to serve. This salad will make healthy snack as well. Take a whole wheat wrap, spread hummus and fill it with this salad. And you have another healthy yet tasty delicacy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cherry Cobbler

The other day we went to farm to pick blueberries and there I found out that they had fresh tart cherries too. I did not know any other use of cherries except having them all by  themselves or once in a while using them in mocktails. Still I could not resist myself from picking ripe and juicy cherries.

I froze half of them and did some serious brainstorming to put rest of them at innovative delicious use. Initially i thought to buy a ready made pie crust and then top it with cherry sauce and ice cream (I have done so with canned pineapple). Later I decided to make crust myself and then I found this cherry cobbler recipe. I changed quantities of butter, sugar and cherries per my taste.

Cherry Cobbler is a Classic American Dessert where cherries are baked in dip dish covered with thick crust. As it gets cooked, crust gets brown and fruits juices squeezes up through cracks creating sweet and rich syrup. This can be served hot/cold and often paired with whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream.

In this dip dish fruit pie dessert, you can experiment with different fruits and nuts. Next time I am thinking to use apricots and blackberries.

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 15 Minute
Cooking Time: 30 Minute

For Crust,
1 cup plain flour
1/4 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup milk

For Filling,
2 cup tart cherries
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp butter
Buttermilk and sugar

1. Mix flour and butter till it becomes mealy, do not make a paste
2. Add baking soda and knead dough using milk
3. Cover it with plastic wrap and keep it aside
4. In a baking tray (For bigger quantity, I would prefer individual trays) toss cherries with sugar
5. Evenly dot them butter and almond extract
6. Now roll dough into thin shit (about the size of the tray) and cover cherry mixture using it
7. Prick the sheet, brush with buttermilk and sprinkle sugar
8. bake at 375 F for 20-25 minute and then broil for 5 minute till crust becomes brown and cherry juice starts bubbling
9. Serve warm/cold with whipped cream or ice cream

Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry-Ricotta Grahams

Graham Crackers are at their best when topped with ricotta cheese and strawberries. I wanted to have dessert that would use strawberries and also finish leftover ricotta cheese. And this simple assembly is unbelievably delicious. I have always been looking for this kind of dessert especially on a weeknight - easy and quick to prepare. Even I can carry all ingredients to a party/pot luck and assemble them as and when needed.

I am looking forward to have some more experiments with these crackers in form of cheesecake and pie.

Makes 15 crackers
Preparation Time: 20 Minute
Cooking Time: NIL

15 pc graham crackers (I used whole wheat with honey)
1/4 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

1. In a bowl, mix strawberries, 1.5 tsp sugar and lemon juice. Keep it aside till berries become soft and juicy (about 10-15 minute)
2. In a separate bowl, mix ricotta cheese, remaining sugar and lemon zest
3. Top crackers with ricotta cheese mixture and then with strawberries. Serve immediately


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fruit Salad (Indian)

I already have American version of fruit salad which can be served in dessert. Here I am going to share Indian/ Gujarati version which is usually served as a part of main course.

Serves 6-8
Preparation Time: 15 Minute
Cooking Time: 40 Minute + chilling time

10 cup whole milk
2.5 cup sugar
2-3 tbsp custard powder (Though I prefer Jell-O Vanilla Pudding dry mix)
4-5 cup fruits of your choice (I use 1 apple, 2 bananas, 20-25 pc red grapes and a small handful of pomegranate seeds), peeled and finely diced

1. In a thick bottom pan, bring milk to boil
2. Mix custard/pudding powder with little milk and add it to boiling milk
3. Add sugar and again bring it to boil
4. Turn off the heat hen sugar is completely dissolved
5. Refrigerate and when ready to serve, add fruits
6. Serve cold

P.S. This boiled milk can be refrigerated for 4-5 days. Just add the fruits and it’s ready!

Dahi Vada

I never have liked plain yogurt so when I was a kid, mom would make this dish very often so that way I can consume some quantity of yogurt. And eventually it became one of my favorite dishes. It can be served as an appetizer, as a snack or even as a side dish. The thing I love the most about this dish is that it can be prepared well in advance and refrigerated.

During my initial days in US, I used to by readymade packet of flour. It worked well for quite a while but then I realized that Vadas become too soft and sometimes dry too. Making batter by soaking and grinding dal was not at all difficult, so in due course I started making them from scratch.

Makes 25 vada
Preparation Time: 15 Minute + soaking tme
Cooking Time: 30 Minute

1 cup udad dal
1 tsp green chili paste
1 tsp ginger paste
8-10 whole pepper
Oil for frying

To serve,
1 cup yogurt
3 tbsp tamarind chutney
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
Coriander leaves
Salt and sugar per taste

1. Soak dal in warm water for 6-8 hour, remove water and grind into smooth paste
2. Add salt, pepper, chili and ginger paste
3. Dip fry them and later soak into water until they become soft
4. Gently press them with palm to remove extra water

To serve,
1. Arrange Vada in a large plate in a single layer
2. Beat yogurt with little water, add salt and sugar
3. Spread yogurt on Vada, pour tamarind chutney
4. Sprinkle chat masala and red chili powder and garnish with coriander leaves
5. Serve cold

P.S. Left over batter can be frozen. If you are not in a mood to again fry Vada, make small pancakes on griddle. Mix with yougurt, tamarind and green chutney, boiled and diced potatoes, black chana, pomegranate seeds (optional), sev and sprinkle chat masala and red chili powder. This Dahi vada chat tastes even better!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Grape-Watermelon Cooler

Yummy, re-hydrating and best drink to kill the summer hit. Watermelon, grapes and ice are simply blended together in this quick refreshing treat.

Serves 2
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: NIL

2 cup seedless watermelon
18-20 pc red grapes
A small handful of pomegranate seeds
1/4 tsp black salt
4 pc grapes for garnishing, cut into halves

1. Blend watermelon and grapes with black salt and little water
2. Fill 1/4 of a glass with crushed ice and pour over blended melon-grapes
3. Add pomegranate seeds and garnish with grapes

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chocolate-Strawberry Cupcake (Eggless)

Tangy strawberries baked in rich chocolate and then topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce..just one word YUMMY! Summer has started and so are my experiments with baking :). It's great that during summer we easily get fresh fruits. Just last weekend we picked strawberries and I could not wait to use them in my chocolate cake. I avoid eggs as much as possible so when I start baking sometimes I am not sure whether my cake will be soft and spongy. Usually when we bake without egg, it becomes very dense and heavy. I did a little experiment by replacing butter with canola oil and yes, eggless cake can be just perfect!

Makes 12-16 small cupcakes
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: 40 Minute

3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp canola oil/ 3 tbsp butter
3/4 cup milk
3-4 pc strawberries, diced

To serve,
Whipped cream
Chocolate syrup

1. Preheat oven at 180 C/350 F
2. In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients and gradually add all wet ingredients
3. Mix well using spatula or hand whisk (Do not use electric mixer)
4. Add cut strawberries and mix well
5. Pour the mixture in cupcake pan and bake until toothpick comes out clean (about 20-25 minute)

How to serve,
Option 1
Top it with whipped cream and drizzle chocolate syrup

Option 2
Glaze with milk chocolate (Sweet or Semi-sweet) and top with toasted walnuts

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tomato Corn Salsa

Chilled tomato salsa with corn and hint of jalapeno is a BIG YES on hot afternoon. Salsa is rich in vitamin C and low in cholesterol (though chips are another extreme :)). The other day when I was entertaining guests, I decided to serve chips and fresh salsa (cold) in appetizer. Leftover I used to make tostadas. It can be prepared in a jiffy and homemade thing always adds value to the menu :)

Yields 2.5 to 3 cup
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: 10 Minute + chilling time

1 can of diced/whole tomato (14-16 oz size)
1 fresh tomato
1 jalapeno
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of one lime
Pinch of sugar
Dash of black pepper
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp red chili powder
2 tbsp coriander leaves
A small handful of corn kernels

1. Boil and peel tomato, keep it aside
2. Boil corn kernels, keep them aside
3. Mix tomatoes, jalapeño, onion and garlic in a food processor, blend well
4. Add all remaining spices and again mix well (Do not make it very smooth, it should have little chunky texture)
5. Add corn and mix well
6. Serve cold