Over the last few years, our family has become truely multicultural, and every new member in the family brings in new ideas, and fresh food cultures with them! I still am a staunch vegetarian, and in fact, on my way to becoming grain-free! However, the irony in my life ...I have married into a family of equally staunch non-vegetarians!
And so, in this blog we will feature all cusines - from different states, countries, veg, non-veg, anything and everything! We'll have posts from all the Inspired Cooks in our extended family!
Eat Well and Stay Well!
leeks ...use them soon ....
cheese.... a little maybe ,
ready made thai red curry paste .......NAAAAH!
whats the main? gotto to use the rice..
....in comes hubby... "something smells terrific...."
Open the oven .... oh WOW ... Heaven!!!!
Self Raising unbleached flour - 2.5 cups
milk - 1/2 cup
water - 1/4 cup
melted butter - 2 tbsps
dry yeast - one sachet. The cover says '7 grams (15 grams compressed)'.
1 tsp sugar
I forgot to add salt!!!
1. Mix yeast with a little warm water and the sugar as set aside. Within about 5 - 6 minutes it froths.
2 Take the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add water, milk and butter and the yeast and keep stirring. Once all the dough comes together, take it out on a clean flat surface and start kneading. I kneaded for 10 minutes.
3. Cover it with cling wrap, as set aside for 1/2 hour. I left it inside the microwave as its a 'safe' place!
5. The dough would have risen by now. Punch it down, and make 8 equal sized balls. Knead each ball for about two minutes each, and arrange on a baking tray. Cover the whole lot with cling wrap and leave it aside for 1 hour.
6. I pre-heat my oven (it is fan forced) to 180 degrees centigrade for about 10 minutes.
7. Now bake the buns for 12 minutes (the top becomes a nice pale brown as shown in the picture in the post below)
8. Remove from oven immediately, and quickly coat the top of the buns with melted butter.
9. Loosely arrange the buns into a large bowl, so that they max suface area is free for aeration! (I don't have a wire rack!)
Okay ...it’s not like it sounds! :-))
Anyway, after a disastrous baking experience in Kolkata that ended with a command (plea?) from my husband, “Thou shalt not bake at home, what can be bought at the grocers” I did not venture again, into the bread, cakes, and cookies world.
But then, the food blogging world has happened! It seems like the whole world is baking, and successfully, by the looks of it! “Hmmm ...but then why is 'Daring Bakers' called 'daring' if it’s no big deal?” I ask myself, even as I smuggle a pack of dry yeast and a kilo of self-raising unbleached flour, into our monthly groceries.
“What’s that for?” asks my husband suspiciously eyeing the small pack of dry yeast that caught his attention. I ramble about the difference in gluten content in Kolkata wheat and Sydney wheat, and a video I saw on Bread making for Dummies, even as the cashier at Coles cheerily packed, billed, and dismissed us with a “Thank you, have a great day”.
“If you must, why don’t you just join a course at TAFE and learn the proper way?” asks Hubby weakly. “Okay” says I meekly, and a tad too fast, putting the topic to an end.
“What can TAFE teach me, that my Foodie World Power cannot?” I say to myself later, as I furiously google away. I find this simple, down-to-earth blog by Rhonda. Wow …simple living is real hard work! Anyway, some simple values rub off on me, and I make up my mind that no ‘no-knead breads’ or short cuts for me, until I first learn the ‘real’ way.
I browse over to thank Purnima - a new visitor to my blog, and here’s is what I find! Thanks Purnima! This is it! The time has finally arrived! A quick jump to Anjali's and Bee’s posts, and the yeast prayer, I begin mixing the flour at 7:16pm. My first buns are ready by 9:46pm.
Served with melted butter, and delicious home made leek and asparagus soup, even hubby gallantly admits it’s a hit.
“I shalt NOT not bake at home, what can be bought at the grocers” I make a determined promise to myself!
oooooooooh .....its such a delicious halwa!
Necessity is the mother of all invention. Resourcefulness is divine. Creativity rules. Cooking is a high for those willing to look beyond the obvious! At this point, I must say, that this post is dedicated to some very innovative friends -Prithwis (see yantrajaal), Madhu, & Arindam! We've had many interesting discussions, debates, and experiments with teaching and learning creativity. Arindam had introduced cooking as one of the activities for the creativity workshop in our company, and the title of this post is the same as the name for his activity!
Ginger Butter Nut Squash Kozhambu made with Jahe Wangi - instant Indonesian ginger tea.
1 tbsp of sesame oil
a pinch of asafoetida
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp urad dal (black gram)
8 - 10 curry leaves
2 dry red chillies
1/2 a butter nut squash chopped
2 tbsp of tamarind paste
2 cups of water
1 tsp Sambar Powder
Salt to taste
“Mystery ingredient”: 1 sachet of Jahe Wangi - instant Indonesian Ginger Tea
Heat oil. Fry mustard seeds, asafoetida, urad dal. When mustard seeds pop, and dal turns red, add the curry leaves, and broken red chillies and swish. Now tamarind paste, water, sambar powder, salt and boil. Next add the squash, and continue boiling till tender. Add a packet of the tea and boil for few more minutes. Add a little water to desired consistency, as the kozambu should not be very thick like a paste, and neither watery. Serve this with hot cooked white rice and a dollop of ghee!
By the way on that fateful grave yard shift episode - my colleague and I relished bread pizzas with a topping of besan . Read, nothing more than a hastily stirred besan (gram flour) paste with salt and pepper :-(. Since my kind hostel mates had even finished off the last crystal of sugar in the kitchen, I landed up making sweet lassi with Glaxo’s glucose powder from my trekking kit in the rucksack! I think we were too tired and hungry to care, but my colleague insists that it was "not bad at all and in fact quiet delicious" !
Butternut squash - 1/2 (Cut the squash length-wise), Salt - 1/2 tsp, Red Chillie powder - 1/4 tsp, Olive Oil - 1 tsp, Brie Cheese - a 1" piece (or as much as you like), Grated Cheddar cheese - 1tbsp
For zuchini: Zuchini (Tondakai could be a good alternative!) - 1 (sliced into circles)saltolive oil - 1 1/2 tsp
For chillie white sauce: Butter - 1/2 tbsp, Corn flour - 1 tsp, Milk - 1/2 cup, Grated Cheddar cheese - 1tbsp, green chillies - 2, cinnamon powder - a pinch, pepper powder - a pinch
For Butternut Squash:Wash and cut the butternut squash length-wise. (I used half for this dish.) Scoop out soft fibres and seeds. With the sharp edge of the knife, cut lines into the pulp. Sprinkle salt and red chillie powderall over. wipe the uncut side with a little oil,and drizzle some more oil on the cut side.Bake for 1/2 hou, at 250 degrees in a fan forced oven until cooked, cut side down.Test the squash with a fork, to see if it has completely cooked.
For chillie white sauce: Melt butter on a low flame. Add sliced green chillies. Add the corn flour and swish the pan, until corn flour slightly browns. Add milk slowly, stirring continuously so that no lumps are formed. Add a pinch pinch of cinnamon powder, and cheese, pepper powder and continue to stir. In a minute about 4 tbsp of thick smooth white sauce is ready.
For zuchini: Heat a frying pan with few drops of oil. Toss the zuchini slices with salt, until they start browing. Switch off the flame.
For the final touch! Remove the squash from the oven. Arrange zuchini slices, inside the squash, and pour the white sauce on top. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese, as well as the brie and replace in the oven. Bake for another 5 minutes, until the cheeses melt, and just begin to brown. You can serve the dish completely foe a meal or cut into thick slices and then serve. Check out how it looks! This can be a meal in itself!
Note: I browsed the net for baked butternut squash - and found that baking instructions vary from mine! Most sites suggest 1" of water in the baking pan, with the cut side of the squash down, and baking for almost 1 to 1.5 hours. I guess this may make it very very soft. I had not known this, and simply baked it 'just-like-that' and it took 25 minutes to cook! The two-cheese part is because I love cheese, and anything 'fonduesque'!
Take a closer look!
Split Yellow Peas Soup and Ciabatta Bread
I was overjoyed when I spotted a bag of lentils in Harris Farm Market. All set to make Sambar, I picked up a kilo and got back. It was only once I came home that I saw that what I had got was not Tur Dal, but Split Yellow Peas! Green-peas-sambar-made-with-split-yellow-peas, somehow just did not seem right.
I started googling too see what can be made with these lentils, until I chanced upon Split Peas Soup, with a dollop of curd and chopped olives. I don’t remember where I saw it, and soon forgot about it.
Yesterday I made a simple dal, by pressure cooking the peas, and giving a ghee tadka with a dash of asafoetida, a spoon of cumin and some red chillie powder. This was to be the side dish for chapattis. I opened the drawer for chapattis, when I noticed a fresh loaf of ciabatta bread that I had just bought that morning. My simple chapatti dal dinner menu changed in a jiffy, into a more exotic one!
Ciabatta Bread and Split Yellow Peas Dal
Ingredients for the Bread
Ciabatta Bread - a loaf
Grated cheddar cheese - as much as you want
Olive Oil - 2 Tbsp
Salt and Pepper - 1/4 tsp each
Cut the bread into thick slices, and pop it in the oven at 350degrees. After six minutes, top the bread with grated cheddar cheese. Take it out of the oven when the cheese melts.
Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and serve immediately with the split yellow peas soup.
Ingredients for the soup
Split Yellow Peas - 1 cup
Water - 5 cups
Salt - to taste
ghee - 1tsp
asafoetida - a pinch
jeera (cumin) - 1 tsp
red chillie powder
Ingredients for the Topping
Sour cream - 1 tbsp per cup of soup
Diced black olives - 1 tbsp per cup of soup
Pressure cook the peas, until soft. Let it not become a mash. Add salt. Heat ghee in a pan, and add asafoetida and jeera. Once the jeera splutters, switch of the flame. Now add the chillie powder, while the pan is still hot and swirl in the oil to fry. Pour this into the peas and mix. Serve in a soup cup, with a dollop of sour cream and diced black olives.
After a month at Sydney and trying exotic dishes like Afghan rotis, Tequila & Avocado Pasta, Baklava, and the not so exoticdeep frozen French fries, I decided that it’s high time to try some Chinese.
Its now a well known fact that the Chinese back home (India) is not really Chinese, but something that originated in the back streets of Kolkata’s China Town! Manchurian was not created in Manchuria, but was ginger-garlicked at Kolkata, and tomatoed at Lucknow! Ajinomoto (uggh can't stand the stuff) or Mono Sodium Glutamate has become synonymous with Chinese cuisine in India. Surprisingly, I found that most condiments in Miracle announced 'NO ADDED MSG' on the labels. Indo-chinese is has become a cuisine family in its own right!
After nearly an hour of browsing Miracle, and Harrison's Farm market, here is what my shopping turned out to be...
Sakata - Japanese rice grain chips Made in Australia. These come in flavours, and I chose plain salted. These taste like papad.
Somen Noodles - fine wheat noodles again from Japan, but this time it was Made in Japan.
Dan Dan Noodle paste - The Asian Gourmet brand Made in Singapore. Ingredients mentioned sesame, sugar, pepper, salt and soy!
Something in Chinese script translating to sauce for Cantonese Stir Fry Coconut Curry Vegetables - This is a brand called Lee Kum Kee and made in Guadong China. The ingredients list looks like the above, but includes coconut powder, onion, garlic, coriander powder in addition!
From Harris Farms
Bok Choy - This is also called Chinese Cabbage. Tastes good, raw or cooked!
Shii-take mushrooms - Probably the only mushroom that I like! These are good sautéed in butter with salt and pepper
Mung Sprouts - Crisp long delicious sprouts from Mung. Funnily its called 'mung' here and not green gram dal, as one would expect!
Brocolli and Cauliflower.
From Shorty's - This is courtesy Basu.
Sake - A genuine Japanese rice wine called Geikkeikan Sake, which had on the label something like 'honourably serving the Imperial Guests since ...' :-)
Shorty's had Australian Sake too, which, the owner kindly told us, was not as good as the original.
Oh - I too shopped at Shortys and got Australian made genuine English Apple Cider called Pipsqueak. This tasted a lot better than the genuine English Cider imported from London!
I had overdone the stir-fry of bokchoy and dan dan paste. It turned out soggy, but delicious all the same. The shii-take and sprouts saved the day with their crispness! The noodles cooked in 3 minutes. The Cantonese stir-fry with cauliflower and broccoli was good ..close to Kerala coconut curries, but with a twist! The sweet cake was funny. Was looking for a nice halwa texture, but found a pasty one instead! Undoubtedly though the big discovery was the Sake. Its texture and lightness reminded me of gripe water! Such a pleasant accompaniment to our oriental meal. One bottle was gone with one dinner!
However a perfectly good tasty dosa is not as simple to make as it sounds! Getting the batter turn out just right depends on several factors, including the type of rice used, quality of the urad dal, the duration the batter is allowed to fermet, and even on the climate (hot weather and summers are ideal!) Even seasoned 'dosa-makers' can go wrong when the climate does not support a good fermentation. Dosas can be made even if the batter does notr ferment. However in my opinion, such dosas lack character, and taste rather flat. I found that most restaurants and eateries in Delhi and in Kolkata, serve up such dosas, blissfully unaware of the delights of a good batter!
I have made dosas countless times. This time round I had prepared the batter and had left it the whole night to ferment. I went to make the breakfast, only to find it exactly in the same state as the night earlier with only the slightest trace of fermentation. I was cursing the winter, and then my luck, when I heard my husband inviting an uncle to sample some 'out of the world dosas' that I make. A half empty bottle of beer lying in the fridge came to mind, along with vague recollections of my food science class on fermentation and beer. In a flash of inspiration, I poured the beer into the batter and mixed it in. I then proceeded to make the dosas as usual. To my utter delight, they turned out quite beautifully, with just the same amount of small air holes, and the slightly sour (with a trace of bitter though!) taste of a 'well-made-authentic-south-indian-dosa'!
I have tried the same trick many times since then, and to my delight it comes out successfully each and every time!
Here is the recipe for making dosas - the original, as well as the beer varieties!
Black Gram Dal (Urad Dal) - 1 cup
Plain rice - 3 cups
Water - enough to make the batter
Beer - 1/2 cup, only if thye batter is not fermented before making the dosas!
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil - two teaspoons per dosa.
Method for making batter
1) Soak the dal and rice in water for at least 3 hours.
2)Grind dal, with enough water in an electric mixer until you get a very thick and smooth paste. Dal is soft and grinds very quickly.
3) Now grind the rice in the mixer, with enough water to make a smooth paste as well.
4) Completely mix the two batters, and leave it in a closed vessel for 10 - 12 hours.
5) Open the vessel and check. If fermentation has taken place the batter would have risen up twice the orginal volume. Eureka ...you can just drink the beer and continue with the recipe.
6) Now if the batter has just slightly risen, or not risen at all, we have to put our trick into effect.
7) Add the beer into the batter and mix.
8) Add some salt to taste.
Method for making the dosa
1) Take a flat non-stick frying pan, and warm it evenly on low flame.
2) Add a teasppon of oil and swirl it around.
3) Increase the flame to high, and then pour in a ladel full of batter and use a circular motion to pull the dough out into a thin broad circle.
4) Check and drizzle some more oil along the sides if required.
5) The high flame would have caused a lot of air bubbles to form and erupt on the surface. This assures you of a great dosa in the making!
6) Lower the flame now, and leave the dosa on for as long as required, until the sides begin to leave the pan. This assures a crisp dosa.
7) Remove and serve with sambhar and chutney.
- Dosa batter turns out better in motorised granite wet grinders. These are available in South India and are used for idli, vada and other batters as well. However, the electric mixer ground batters are also very good.
- If you plan a dosa breakfast, soak the dal and rice the previous afternoon and grind at night. I soak at around 4:00pm and grind at 9:00pm. This allows the batter to be ready just in time for breakfast next day.
- If you love your dosa and dont mind some cholesterol, go ahead and use ghee instead of oil. The dosas taste much better, and the colour becomes golden brown!
-Iron griddles (tava)are best for dosas. However it requires a well prepared griddle, and the first few dosas will always become a mess. However gradually the heat is evened out, resulting is great dosas. If you are not adventurous, and don't like wasting batter, I suggest you go with the non-stick pans!
- If you are in South India - just have dosas at any eatery or any home! If you are elsewhere this recipe will beat what you get outside!
- Check my other blog, for great tasting sambhar and chutney recipes from my mom!
1. Clean green banana leaves - 6 pieces each about 6 inches in length
2. Sliced paneer - 6 square pieces 3"x 3" with about 4 mm thickness
3. Olive oil - 6 tsps for shallow frying
4. Thread - to tie the banana leaf parcels. (I prefer white, so that the colour does not run!!)
For Mustard paste marinade
1. Mustard 1/2 cup
3. Green Chillies - 2 (3 if you like it hot)
4. turmeric - a pinch
5. salt - to taste
6. 2 -3 tsp extra virgin oilve oil
1. Grind the mustard and chillies bit by bit, adding just a little water to get a paste. Blend in turmeric and salt and olive oil until you have a smooth paste. Using a mixer will spoil the taste. Its best to grind using a stone mortar and pestle. Sheel and nora are what are used in Bengali homes.
2. Marinate the paneer pieces in the mustard paste for 1/2 hour.
3. Take a piece of banana leaf, place a piece of paneer in the middle.
4. Spread a generous quantity of paste all around the paneer.
5. Fold the banana leaf from all sides, and fasten with thread. This is slightly tricky, as the leaf would tear if not carefully handled, or thread tied too tightly. You should have six parcels or paturis ready now.
6. Heat a shallow frying pan, with a 6tsp of olive oil
7. Arrange all the 6 paturis on the frying pan.
8. Cover with a lid and fry for few minutes. When the leaf starts charring, turn the paturis over to the other side.
9. Fry for some more time until banana leaf has changed colour and slightly charring.
10. Serve parcels with hot white rice.