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August 29, 2008

Ginger Cookies Recipe | How to Make Easy Ginger Cookies

Ginger cookies - generally, I am not a fan of anything ginger flavoured but these ginger cookies are an exception because of their delightful chewiness and texture. They are perfect with a cup of milk tea adding a lovely gingery feel to the whole experience. The original recipe for these ginger cookies is from my mom's friend, Shantha aunty, who makes these in a jiffy when the occasion demands. While cookies are baked in Kerala through the year, these ginger cookies are especially popular during Christmas. 

Ginger Cookies Recipe



GINGER COOKIES RECIPE
Makes ~24 cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour or maida
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses (I used 3 tbsp brown sugar instead)
2 tbsp sugar to roll the cookies in

Instructions:

1. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the ginger, water and molasses/brown sugar.

3. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the brown sugar mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.

4. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven.

5. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

I avoided the normally common ingredients for ginger cookies, like cloves and cinnamon because I am not much of a savory cookie lover. Also, I was out of cloves :D These came out quite chewy and very lightly ginger flavoured. Goes well with tea.

You may also be interested in:
Marie Biscuit Chocolate Logs
Mom's Delight

Low Fat Sugar Cookies

August 27, 2008

Pav Bhaji Recipe - How to Make Easy Pav Bhaji - Step by Step

Pav Bhaji is a popular street food in India. Pav refers to the super soft equivalent of Indian dinner rolls and bhaji is the mashed and spiced vegetable side that goes with Pav.
One of the first few recipes that I perfected immediately after marriage is this amazing Pav Bhaji recipe. I have made it countless times since then, always volunteering to bring Pav Bhaji to potlucks and often making it for guests. The reason is simple - everyone loves a good Pav Bhaji and it's incredibly easy to make in larger quantities. A little vegetables go a long way and if you have a good Pav Bhaji Masala in hand, you are good to go. I even make Pav at home if I have time to plan ahead.

pav bhaji-easy pav bhaji recipe

Although I have tasted Pav Bhaji many times during our annual visits to Salem during Onam Holidays, I first noticed it during a trip to Eat Street in Hyderabad. The pav was buttery and hot and the Bhaji was piping hot. I loved the minced raw onions they garnished the Bhaji with and with a squeeze of fresh lemon on top before eating, it was truly blissful. Since then, I refuse to eat Pav Bhaji any other way.

August 25, 2008

Maladu - Pottukadalai Ladoo - Diwali Sweets Recipes

Weddings! Phew! Tiring, exciting, colorful and family time! I love them. This time it was my sis-in-law who tied the knot and since this is the first wedding we are attending after ours, both TH and I were in the limelight too. And god knows how I love that! It was a typical Brahmin wedding with the works. Ours wasn't, so I was seeing most of the customs for the first time. Can I say phew again?

I wanted to get back after this small and nice break with something sweet. One of the very few sweets I had in my archives - Maladu. I love it and prefer it to the besan ladoos. What makes this recipe even more special is that my mom, sis, niece and I made this two days before my wedding so put in the thamboola pai (a return gift bag for weddings that contains a coconut, betel leaves, turmeric, kumkum and sometimes a small box or steel vessel with sweets.) Mine contained all these things and these maladu. We made around 450 of them, wrapped them in butter paper and put them in small steel containers as a gift.

I have scaled down the recipe to make around 15 laddus.

Maladu - Pottukadalai Ladoo Recipe

Ingredients:
Pottukadalai / Dariya Dal / Pori Kadala / Split Roast Gram Dal - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup (you can add more, this is not over-sweet like you get in stores)
Cashewnuts - 50gm, roughly chopped
Ghee - 2 cups (you may not need it all)
Powdered cardamom - 2 tsp

How to Make Maladu:

1. Powder, the dal and sugar fine separately.

2. Heat some ghee and roast the cashewnuts until golden brown.

3. Mix the powders, cashewnuts and cardamom powder well.

4. Heat all the ghee and slowly add to the above mixture till you get the right consistency that lets you make lime-sized balls. Note that heating the ghee makes this job easier and you will need more when it cools down.

Needless to say, there was a lot of mixing, heating and re-heating of the ghee until we finished the 450 maladu. Was back-breaking but fun :)

Store in an air-tight container up to 10 days. Alternately, you can make the powders and store them separately to whip this up even more quicker.

August 13, 2008

Basics Of Indian Cooking Series - The Introduction

Indian cooking is exciting and intimidating to most. Exciting because its such a lovely medley of flavours that is mostly unique to our Subcontinent. Intimidating because there is a widespread misconception that it’s too difficult to cook, too spicy, too hot, too oily, etc. I say misconception because all of the above need not necessarily true. Though I have immense passion for cooking and experimenting on those lines, my knowledge is anything but extensive. Mainly because of the huge regional differences in cuisines in India but mostly because of inexperience. Any cuisine for that matter needs practise and more practise till you can master it and get it right.

But does that mean till then you end up with half baked or half cooked dishes? Not necessarily. There are really simple Indian dishes that anyone can try and make taste good with minimum effort.


Here are some quick facts about Indian Cooking.

- Indian cuisine can be broadly divided into North Indian and South Indian cooking, each distinct in flavour, spices uses, cooking style and main ingredients.

- It’s always aimed at being healthy and well-balanced. Traditionally, all ingredients were used fresh and this increased the health quotient.

- Indian cooking uses ingredients like ginger, garlic, turmeric, green chillies, etc which are said to have medicinal properties. These are crushed and added to the dishes so that the essence and flavour is imbibed into the dish in the right amount.

- Most of the cooking methods in India are such that they retain the nutrients of the fruit or vegetable. This is mostly still practised but lack of time might have made some minor changes to this today.

- The vessels used for cooking also make an impact on the final cooking. Traditionally, food was prepared in heavy bottomed iron woks (known as kadai in Hindi). In this vessel, not too much oil or water was required to bring out the flavours of the spices. Food mostly cooked in its own juices under continuous stirring.

In the coming weeks, we will see more of basic Indian cooking techniques, recipes, utensils, FAQs, etc. If you have any feedback or would like to write a guest post, do leave a comment and I will be happy to get back to you.

August 12, 2008

Kala Chana Masala - Black Channa Masala Recipe

My dad loves chickpeas, both the kabuli (white) version and the kala (black) variety. Though I am more a fan of kabuli chana and the Kerala Kadala Curry, I am told that the black variety (nadan kadala in malayalam) is more nutritious.

More research on chickpeas gave me some nice-to-know nutrition facts about it. "One hundred grams of mature boiled chickpeas contains 164 calories, 2.6 grams of fat (of which only 0.27 grams is saturated), 7.6 grams of dietary fiber and 8.9 grams of protein. Chickpeas also provide dietary calcium (49-53 mg/100 g), with some sources citing the garbanzo's calcium content as about the same as yogurt and close to milk. " - Wikipedia


Here is the recipe for authentic (as far as I could made it :D) Kala Chana. I recently bought a small packet of Caraway seeds, since I thought it would be nice to cook up something nice with them. Kala Chana is the first recipe in that series.

KALA CHANA RECIPE
Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
Black chickpeas (kala chana) - 1/2 cup
Onions - 2, chopped
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Green chillies – 2, slit
Hing (kayam) – one pinch
Turmeric – 1 pinch
Cardamom – 2, coarsely ground.
Caraway seeds (shahjeera) – 2 tsp
Coriander powder (mallipodi) – 2 tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste

How to Make Kala Chana:

1. Soak the chickpeas in twice its amount of water overnight. I leave it for atleast 12 hours since they are tougher to cook than most other lentils.

2. Next day, pressure cook the chickpeas with 4 cups water. I let the whistle sound 4 times atleast. Let it cool.

3. Heat oil in a pan and add the shahjeera and cardamom. Fry for 15 seconds and then add the coriander powder.

4. Now add the ginger garlic paste and when it turns slightly brown, add the onions and green chillies. (Note that in most of South Indian cooking, we add the onions first but this recipe is slightly different in that).

5. Let the onions turn brown by keeping fire on sim and adding water occasionally to let it mix well with the spices and to prevent burning. Continue doing this for about 15 minutes until you have a mush of caramelized onions that smell out of this world!

6. Now its time to add the chickpeas. Drain them and add it to the above onion mixture to cook for another 3-4 minutes. If you find the gravy going too dry, add the water used to boil the chickpeas, very little at a time. Also adjust salt at this stage. Remember that the gravy is supposed to be a bit thick.

7. Once the chickpeas have mixed well with the gravy and the oil starts leaving the sides of the pan, remove from fire and serve hot with phulkas.

This is not one of those easy recipes I usually post, but is well worth the effort. If you like the gravy tangy, add one cup blanched and pureed tomatoes. Suitable for a cooking-oriented weekend :)

August 8, 2008

Corn Peas Tomato Salad Recipe | Easy Salad Recipes

I am not much of a salad person. I mean, I do like them but not as a meal in itself. Most of the salads are ones I make as an accompaniment to the main course. Because of this I don't spend much time on them, especially the dressing. After beginning to work, I find myself pressed for time to make dinner and I feel bad when there is just one gravy and one curry with rice. TH never complains but still I feel guilty. So salads like these are my solution! I sometimes fill the gap with raita too, but more about that in a different post :)



















Now onto the corn-peas-tomato salad.


Serves 2 (on the side)


Ingredients:
Boiled Corn kernels - 1 cup
Boiled peas - 1/2 cup
Finely chopped onions - 1/2 cup
Finely chopped tomatoes - 1/2 cup
Minced garlic - 1/4 tsp (1-2 cloves)
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp (I used white)
Lime juice - 1 tbsp (or to taste)
Salt - to taste

How I Made It:

1. Mix the salt, garlic and pepper with the lime juice.

2. Mix all the veggies well and add the above lime juice mixture 10 minutes before serving.


*Notes*

- I sometimes mix this with plain steamed rice and serve it as a rice dish. It looks colorful and is a welcome change from just plain rice.

- This salad is also good for making rolls with chapatis. To hold the salad together, you can add some light mayonnaise.

- You may also like my Pear-Apple Salad with Honey Dressing.

August 6, 2008

Okra Fry With Peanuts - Bhindi Fry Recipe

Ok, I know what you are thinking. After all that hue and cry I made about being an okra-hater and all that, I go ahead and post 3 okra recipes in a span of 2 months. Well, the reason is, its one of the 'Indian' vegetables that I see always in the wet market and end up buying it thinking I can make something passable with it. After all, we both really liked the Okra with Besan curry that I made, TH more so because it resembles usili.

Okra Fry With Peanuts - Bhindi Fry Recipe
This is a dish I have tried in our office cafe when I was in Hyderabad. I always found it an interesting combination - ladies finger and peanuts. The crunch the peanuts gave to the curry was quite nice and though I wasn't sure what recipe the chef there used, I tried to replicate it the other day and it did come very close in taste.

BHINDI FRY RECIPE


Ingredients:
Okra / ladies finger / vendakka - 15 (number of okras)
Raw shelled peanuts - 3 tbsp
Shallots - 4, chopped
Garlic - 1 tsp, minced (optional, but add for more flavour)
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - a few (optional)

How to Make Bhindi Fry:

1. Heat oil in a pan and lightly fry the shallots and garlic. When it starts browning, add the chilli powder and fry for another 10-15 seconds.

2. Now add the okra and peanuts and fry on sim till the okra turns soft and the peanuts are done.

3. Finally, mix the salt and curry leaves in and remove from fire.


Serve with hot rice and some gravy.

Related Recipes:
Fried Okra with Besan
Vendakka Aviyal
Kovakka Mezhukkupuratti


August 4, 2008

Carrot Rice Recipe - How to Make Carrot Rice

Carrot rice is a quick and easy one-pot meal using rice. When I was about to leave to Hyderabad for 3 weeks, the vegetable tray had an assortment of veggies that were unused. Among them was one carrot, a few green chillies, 2 onions, some okra, 10 beans and so on. I fried the okra and made usili with beans but was stumped on what to do with just one carrot. I could have made a salad but then thought I should probably add it to rice and make it a carrot rice!

Carrot Rice Recipe - How to Make Carrot Rice
This is an easy rice dish that I have seen in many blogs. But most of them use chana dal in it. Since I was feeling plain lazy to soak, grind and all the rest of it, I made a simpler version. It came out quite tasty but next time I think I will try it with the dal and other masala in it. Since carrots add a nice sweetness to the rice dish so I didn't feel a need to add onions to the carrot rice, but feel free to do so if you wish.

Carrot Rice Recipe - How to Make Carrot Rice
CARROT RICE RECIPE
Serves 2

Ingredients:
Cooked rice - 3 cups
Grated carrots - 1
Green chillies - 3, slit lengthwise
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Curry masala or garam masala - 1 tsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsp

How I Made It:

1. Heat oil and saute carrots and green chillies in turmeric till the carrots become limp (for lack of a better word)

2. Now add the ginger garlic paste, curry masala and salt and fry for a minute or two.

3. Mix in rice and leave on for another 2 minutes.

Serve warm with raita, papad and pickles.See how simple it is? :)