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January 30, 2009

Hummus Recipe -How to make Hummus~ Quick & Healthy Spread

I discovered pita bread and hummus when I was in Google Hyderabad. We had a salad bar with all these crunchy, fresh vegetables and a bowl of creamy hummus with warm, oven-fresh pita bread right next to it. It wasn't really a popular choice since our lunch buffet had much more appealing dishes but practically every other day, I used to make a pita sandwich with some lettuce, tomato slices, cucumber and a generous spread of hummus.


Those were the days that I could get hummus without going through the trouble of making it myself but now things are different. So last weekend, I set out to the task myself. I started with a Google Search for 'hummus recipe' and was quite surprised to see a site dedicated only to hummus! It was mentioned there that making hummus takes practise even if you are following recipes religiously. I beg to differ. My hummus came out really well and though next time I may blend it until creamy, I still didn't mind the coarse texture of it this time.

One ingredient you will surely need is good-quality Tahini. I got mine from NTUC FairPrice in Singapore. I don't remember the brand name now but tahini is definitely available here in Singapore.

If you want to prepare the hummus without tahini then you can avoid it, which will of course affect the flavour but the end product is still creamy and delicious. Sometimes, kids are allergic to tahini so follow the hummus recipe without tahini.


What I Used:

Chickpeas - 1 cup, washed and soaked in water overnight or atleast 8 hours
Tahini - 1/2 cup
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 1/2 tsp, minced
Cumin / jeera / jeerakam - 1/2 tsp, crushed (I used cumin powder)
Salt - to taste
Olive oil / sesame oil - 1 tbsp

How I Made It:

1. Wash the soaked chickpeas well and drain water completely.

2. Pressure cook until soft (3 whistles) in sufficient water. If you don't have a pressure cooker, transfer the chickpeas to a pot and add water until it is well covered. Cook until the chickpeas are soft and mash easily. This should take about 30-40 mins. Do not add salt while cooking the chickpeas as this will harden them.

3. Drain the water used for chickpeas and keep aside. Blend the chickpeas until smooth, adding little water if too thick.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients (except oil) and continue to blend until you get a smooth, thick paste that is of spreading consistency. If too thick, add very little water at a time from the water used to cook the chickpeas.

5. Make sure you mix the oil in before serving!

I didn't buy pita bread so I served it with some home made white bread (recipe coming soon!)

I am sending this hummus recipe to Ramya's Chutney/Dip Mania and MS's JFI - Chickpeas.

January 27, 2009

Paneer Makhani | Paneer Butter Masala Recipe

Hello there, I have updated my Paneer Butter Masala recipes with experience and more cooking practise. If you'd like the later versions, check out the recipes below:

Paneer Butter Masala - Restaurant-Style Recipe
Paneer Makhani - Microwave Version

Paneer butter masala is something I make quite often. In fact, its one of the first paneer recipes that I tried and because I didn't use kasuri methi and because I followed a quick recipe, it didn't turn out.. well.. anything like paneer butter masala - the most popular of paneer recipes!

TH loves it and so do I, though these days I have reduced the amount of butter and cashew nuts that go into it. Even then, this is an indulgent dish, definitely not for quick fix meals over weekdays.


We like ours not too watery so I add very little water and let most of it cook away on the stove. If you have any ingredient that you add on top of all these, do let me know, I would love to experiment!

January 24, 2009

Click Red - Hot & Sweet

After much deliberation, battery-charging, camera-tweaking, bending, hemming and hawing, I finally have the entry for Click.

I bought some dried cherry chillies from the wet market last weekend. Or what I thought were dried cherry chillies. They were actually dried red dates! Ah well, as long as they are red, it works. And maybe I can come up with some nice chutney or dip with them, who knows.

As I did last weekend, I took close to 15o pictures today and finally have my entry. I am so happy I can finally think of food without wondering what colour it is. Phew.


Hot & Sweet - My Click-Red Entry




Now tell me. If these were in a transparent, unlabelled packet in a shop selling vegetables, wouldn't you have thought they are dried cherry chillies too? There you go!


January 22, 2009

Clicking Red

This month's Click has been driving me crazier than it usually does. I have been obsessing about all sorts of red food and have been amazed to realise just how many of the things we put in our mouth is red or has red in it!

Taking on from this shot Bee took for the citrus theme, I tried the same with a tomato.



I am not that great with choosing light sources and angles and blah blah so it definitely doesn't look as good as hers but I had fun taking this shot. Yes, sometimes my idea of fun is having an almost-broken back!

Number of tomatoes cut up to get a slice I liked - 4
Number of shots taken - 84
Number of hours spent - 1:32
Number of hours my back hurt after bending over the bloody tomato - 3

The best part is, I am not sending this to Click. Not until I have tried out one more idea that's eating my brain. Sadly, I need to wait till weekend for the blessed thing that all food photographers turn to - natural light source!

January 21, 2009

Eggless Butter-Less Chocolate Muffins (Vegan)

One day the baking bug bit me. It bit me so bad that by the weekend, I was itching like a mad woman to bake something! I usually have all the ingredients but sadly, no eggs. Since there are tons of eggless cakes out there, I decided to do a quick search. Allrecipes had my answer. There were tons of eggless cakes and eggless chocolate cakes in there.

Some had warnings that eggless cakes will not be as moist and spongy as the ones with eggs. I beg to differ as the person who tried and tested the following recipe and dare them to look into the poor, innocent faces of these muffins and say the same thing again! I adjusted the measurements slightly to suit my need and what's more, this one is also butter-less.

Eggless butter-less chocolate muffins with frosting

So here is my eggless and butter-less chocolate muffin recipe. You can also bake it into a cake if you want. I used some frosting to add some buttery goodness to it but avoid that for a vegan version.

If you had told me last month that I would bake a vegan muffin, I would have laughed in your face and said that's not my kind of baking. Well, guess even I am wrong sometimes :D

Eggless Butter-Less Chocolate Muffins Recipe (Vegan)
(Adapted from allrecipes.com)

What I Used:

All-purpose flour / maida - 2 cups
Sugar - 3/4 cups (1 cup if you are not using frosting)
Unsweetened cocoa powder - 1/2 cup
Vegetable oil - 1/2 cup and a little more
Water - 1 cup
Soy Milk at room temperature - 1/2 cup (I used low-fat cow's milk)
Baking powder - 1 tbsp (remember, no eggs!)
Vanilla essence / extract - 1 tsp
Salt - a generous pinch

For Frosting (optional - avoid for vegan version)

Butter - 5 tbsp
Icing sugar / powdered white sugar - 3 tbsp

How I Made It:

1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. This is to ensure that the ingredients are well blended. If you don't have a sieve, just make sure you mix the dry ingredients well.

2. Add sugar and mix together. I used powdered brown sugar but its okay to use white sugar as well.

3. Next, add oil, water, soy milk (or whatever kind you are using) and vanilla and mix thoroughly, churning the batter in one direction.

4. Pour into muffin/cake pan and bake in a pre-heated oven at at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 45 mins or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

5. If using frosting, cut muffins/cake into half horizontally and spread like in a sandwich.

January 19, 2009

Vegetable Biryani Recipe / Vegetable Biriyani Recipe

Personally, I am not a fan of vegetable biryani. I mean, who needs it when you have a much tastier counterpart - chicken biryani! But since I am looking at cooking more and more diverse vegetarian dishes, I had to try this as well. In fact, my mom calls biryani a quick fix meal when we have guests but whenever I check for recipes online, the steps have always been long-wound and involve too much ingredients and procedures.

Here's a quicker version of vegetable biryani in pressure cooker.

The other day I was going through this old diary of mine that I used to write down recipes and cut out recipes from magazines, and I came across this biryani recipe. Sadly, I don't have the source but I got the feeling it would turn out well.

There are two ways of cooking this biryani with the same set of ingredients. I have outlined the longer method and the quick version is at the bottom of the post. Since I was making it the first time, I was a good girl and followed the steps but next time I am just throwing everything in a pressure cooker and reading till its done :)

VEGETABLE BIRYANI RECIPE
What I Used:

Basmati Rice - 1 cup
Chopped mixed vegetables - 1 cup (potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, beans, green peas, etc)
Onion - 1 big, chopped
Curd - 1 Tbsp (optional)
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds/Saunf - 1/4tsp
Cardamom / elakka - 2
Cloves / grampoo - 2
Bay leaf - 1
Lemon Juice - 1 tsp
Oil/Ghee - 3 Tbsp (or a little less, 'cuz mine came out a bit too oily)
For Spice Paste
Coconut - 2 Tbsp (optional)
Green chillies - 3, adjust according to taste
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - a 1" piece
Ginger - a 1" piece
Garlic - 1 tbsp, ground paste

How to Make Vegetable Biryani

1. Wash and soak rice for about 15 mins. Cook in an open pot with 3 cups water until the rice is cooked yet firm. Alternately, you can pressure cook for one whistle with one cup water.

2. Grind the ingredients for spice paste adding very little water. Meanwhile, cook the chopped vegetables in adequate water until cooked yet firm.

3. Heat oil/ghee and roast the fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf for about 30 seconds. Then add the onions and fry till it turns pink and translucent.

4. Add the semi cooked vegetables next and saute for 2-3 mins. Mix in the ground spice paste and fry till the raw smells leaves it. This shouldn't take more than 5 mins.

5. Next add the curd (if using), red chilli powder, turmeric powder, lime juice and salt and mix well.

6. Turn off the heat. Add the cooked rice and mix gently until well blended.
Serve hot with raita, papad and pickles.

Note:
A super-quick version of this vegetable biryani recipe would be to do all the frying in the pressure cooker pan (spices, onions and ground paste). Add raw cut vegetables and washed, soaked rice to this. Pressure cook for one whistle in 1.5 cups water. This is what I mostly do but doing it the long way gives you more separated grains of rice and a stronger flavour.


January 14, 2009

Chettinad Mushroom Masala-Mushroom Masala Recipe-Mushroom Recipes

Both TH and I are huge mushroom recipe lovers. I make different dishes quite often but mostly over week nights when there is either no light or no energy left in me to plate and photograph the dishes. Last weekend I tried chettinad the Chettinad mushroom masala recipe that a friend's mother passed on me when she saw my interest in Chettinad dishes. Though I heard their non-veg preparations, I would easily kill for a nicely prepared Chettinad vada curry or Chettinad mushroom masala any day. This recipe is on the spicier side and though the original recipe called for 1 tbsp oil, I tried with lesser amount oil and it worked just fine.










Chettinad-Style Mushroom Masala 
Ingredients for Chettinad Mushroom Masala:

Any mushroom variety of choice - 2 cups, chopped (I used a mix of shitake and oyster mushroom)
Tamarind - a small marble-sized ball soaked and squeezed in 1/2 water to extract juice
Salt - to taste

For Spice Mixture

Garam masala - 1 tsp (crush 1 clove + 1 cardamom pod + 1/2" piece cinnamon)
Chana dal / kadala parippu / split bengal gram - 1 tbsp
Whole black pepper - 1 tsp. If using powder, use 1/2 tsp

For tempering

Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chillies - 2, halved
Curry leaves - a few

How to Make Chettinad Mushroom Masala:

1. Dry roast the ingredients, cool and grind for spice mixture. If using garam masala, you can add while grinding.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering, add the curry leaves and red chillies. Fry for 10 seconds.

3. Add the chopped mushrooms and stir well until it is well coated with the oil. Add salt. Let it cook till the mushrooms start sweating and become soft. Then add the tamarind mixture and cook on an open fire until the gravy gets thick and sticks to the mushroom pieces.

4. Next, add the ground spice mixture and fry for another 3-4 mins. Adjust salt and remove from fire.
Serve hot with rice or roti.

You may also like my no-grind Mushroom Masala Recipe.

January 12, 2009

Tamarind Rice Recipe | Pulihora Recipe | Puliyogare Recipe

Tamarind Rice (Puliogare, Pulihora, Puliyogare) is a very popular South Indian rice recipe made with tamarind and spices. Puliogare is also very commonly served as 'prasad' in South Indian temples and the taste of temple tamarind rice is unmatchable.

I was gifted Chandra Padmanabhan's Southern Spice by a colleague in Hyderabad whose exact words when she handed it to me were 'when I saw the kuzhi paniyaram on the cover, I thought of you' (Thanks Pragi!!). I am quite glad people think of me when they see delicious food, that's quite flattering. Anyway, the book has many authentic South Indian recipes.

Chandra Padmanabhan has titled this Tamarind Rice recipe 'Avasara Puliogare' - meaning quick tamarind rice in tamil - and since I have an affinity towards any recipe that's quick, I decided to give it a shot immediately.

Once I read through the list of ingredients and the instructions, I knew this was no quick recipe. There's a fair bit of roasting and grinding but this recipe does product a delicious Tamarind Rice so I am going to ask you guys to go ahead and give it a shot.

Tamarind Rice / Puliogare / Puliogare Recipe | How to Make Tamarind Rice
Two things I significantly changed in the recipe are (a) the amount of oil used and (b) the order of soaking, grinding, roasting, etc, so that we use minimum vessels that reduces washing time at the end. I also changed the amount of ingredients here and there but that of course is normal when you follow someone else's recipe. I have written the actual recipe and changes I made in brackets. 

If you love South Indian rice recipes or tangy tamarind recipes, then check out cabbage rice recipe, puli aval (tamarind with poha), curd rice recipe, spicy capsicum rice, and this spinach pulao recipe

Tamarind Rice (Puliyogare, Pulihora) Recipe

Ingredients:
Long-grained rice - 1.5 cups (I used basmati rice)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Grated jaggery - 2 tbsp (I used 1 tbsp)
Salt - 1/2 tsp
For the Tamarind Paste
Tamarind - a large lime-sized ball
Fenugreek seeds / methi / menthayam / uluva - 3/4 tsp (I used 1/2 tsp)
Coriander seeds / malli - 1 tbsp
Dry red chilllies - 6
Salt - 1/2 tsp
For the Spice powder / Masala
Grated coconut - 2 tbsp ( I used 3 tbsp fresh coconut, but dessicated with work too)
White sesame seeds / til / ellu - 1 tbsp (I didn't have this but bought some to try next time)
For Tempering
Sesame seed oil / nallennai / gingelly oil - 4 tbsp (I used 3 tbsp)
Mustard seeds / kaduku - 1 tsp
Asafoetida powder / hing / kaayam - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chillies - 2, halved (I omitted this)
Urad dal / uzhutham paruppu / uzhunnu parippu - 1 tsp
Chana dal / bengal gram / kadala parippu - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
For Garnishing
Sesame seed oil - 2 tbsp (I omitted this)
Roasted peanuts - 1/4 cup

How to make Tamarind Rice:

1. Wash and soak the rice in 4 cups water for half an hour. Rinse. Cook in an open, thick-bottomed vessel with 4 cups water (add more if its not enough while cooking) until the rice is cooked yet not too soft. Transfer to a colander and it drip off the excess water. I have found this to be the best way to cook basmati rice since pressure cooking it either makes it either under cooked or too mushy.

2. Soak tamarind and salt for tamarind paste in 1/2 cup water for 15 mins.

3. Soak fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds and red chillies in 1/2 cup water for 15 mins. Drain well.

Do all the soaking simultaneously to save time.

4. Heat a frying pan and roast the coconut (don't add any oil) till it becomes a light brown. Remove and roast the sesame seeds until they start spluttering and turn golden brown. Mix together and grind to a fine powder. Keep aside.

5. In the same grinder, combine all ingredients for tamarind paste and grind to a fine paste.

6. Heat the 3 tbsp oil in a same pan and fry the peanuts until crisp. Drain and set aside.

7. Add the ingredients for tempering to the same oil. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, add tamarind paste, jaggery, salt and 1/2 cup water.

8. Mix well and simmer till all water has evaporated and the mixture has a jam-like consistency. Remove.

9. Place rice a large bowl and gradually blend in the tamarind paste. Sprinkle in spice powder and mix well. Check and adjust salt.

10. Garnish with peanuts and serve puliogare with fried appalam.

January 7, 2009

Arachuvitta Sambar-Hotel Sambar-Arachuvitta Sambar Recipe

Arachuvitta sambar literally means sambar to which freshly ground spices are added. The name itself is so traditional and delicious to me! This is a tried and tested recipe that works like a charm. The last time I made it, I made a note of the amount of ingredients I am putting in because normally for sambar, I throw in stuff and it comes out well invariably. This is a slightly more tedious sambar than regular sambar recipe but well worth the effort, as always :) TH loves to have this with curd rice, since I make it slightly thicker than normal.

Arachuvitta Sambar-Hotel Sambar-Arachuvitta Sambar Recipe

January 5, 2009

Kandi Podi-Paruppu Podi-Andhra Style Paruppu Podi Recipe

Paruppu Podi is a family favourite with curd rice. The Andhra style paruppu podi is known for its spice levels and flavour. I mostly eat it with melted ghee it when we go to Andhra thali restaurants but recently I started craving them and decided to make some. Another favourite of ours is this chutney podi which uses roasted coconut, coriander, chillies, and spices. It goes fabulous with rice, just like this Andhra paruppu podi.

Kandi Podi-Paruppu Podi-Andhra Style Paruppu Podi RecipeAndhra Paruppu Podi

Kandi Podi-Paruppu Podi-Andhra Style Paruppu Podi Recipe

INGREDIENTS
(Recipe adapted from here)

Toor dal / Tuvaram paruppu /Split gram - 1 cup
Moong dal /Paasi paruppu / Cherupayar Parippu - 1/2 cup
Chana dal / Kadala paruppu / Bengal gram - 1/2 cup
Red chilli powder - 2 tbsp
Black pepper powder - 2 tsp
Hing / Asafoetida / Perungayam - 1/2 tsp
Jeera / Jeerakam - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Dry fry all the dals separately until they turn golden brown. Mix well.
2. Add the jeera and hing to the dal mixture when its still hot and keep aside to cool.
3. Once cool, grind to a course/fine powder depending on preference.
4. Add red chilli powder, pepper and salt to the ground mixture and store in an airtight jar.

Serving suggestions:

- With steamed white rice and hot ghee.
- Mix with some curd or oil and serve with dosa.
- Some variations include adding dry fried curry leaves to the powder. I am sure that's yummy as well, I just didn't have enough curry leaves in hand.

Here's our family recipe for idli dosa podi in that you want a podi recipe for idli, dosa, etc.