Monday, March 30, 2009

Aloo paratha

Aloo (potato) paratha - this item brings back some fond memories and a smile on my face. Without any doubt, it was a must order item whenever we dined out at any restaurant in India. Though we are Andhraites, me and my dad love this one. What I love most about it is, the idea of having aloo stuffed inside the roti. :) I tried making it a number of times, but was never successful until few months ago. After reading the recipe, on a number of blogs, I kind of picked the best steps from each blogger and came out with an awesome recipe. We generally have it for dinner at home; just two 6 inch diameter parathas, with a glass of lassi is enough to fill up your stomach.

I knead and set aside the dough atleast an hour before preparing the parathas. Doing so imparts a soft texture to the dough. For the paratha dough,

  1. Wheat/Chapathi flour
  2. Salt
  3. Milk
  1. Add sufficient salt to the atta (wheat flour).
  2. Using a little amount of milk and water, knead the atta to a fine dough. There should not be any lumps, and the dough should not be hard. The softer it is, the softer your parathas. It should be soft *not* sticky, so don't add too much of milk/water.
  3. Keep the dough in an air-tight container.
For the aloo/potato filling, there are two ways you can do this. The uncooked filling and cooked filling. Having tried them both, I prefer the cooked filling.

  1. Potatoes
  2. Onions
  3. Green chillies
  4. Cilantro
  5. Dhania-jeera powder
  6. Garam masala
  7. Ginger garlic paste
  1. Pressure cook the potatoes without removing the skin.
  2. Once they are cooked, peel them and mash them really soft. Leaving behind some bigger pieces of potato would cause your paratha to break while rolling it. Also note that the filling shouldn't be wet.
  3. Finely chop the onions, green chillies and cilantro. Like in Step 2, you should not have any big pieces.
  4. Heat a little bit of oil in a pan, and fry the onions and chillies.
  5. Add ginger-garlic paste to the contents of the pan and fry till the raw smell goes away.
  6. Turn off the gas, and add the masala powders.
  7. Add the fried stuff to the mashed potatoes, along with some salt and the chopped cilantro.
  8. Mix them all really well, and bring them together to form a fine lump of curry.
  9. Taste the stuffing, and add more salt/chilli powder, if required. Allow it to cool.

Now, with the dough and filling ready, let's get to the exciting part of making the parathas.
  1. If you want to make 'n' parathas, divide the dough and the filling into 'n' equal parts.
  2. Roll out each chapathi with thicker centre and thinner edges. That is because the curry is placed in the centre and the edges are folded so as to seal the filling. Thinner edges make the folding easier.
  3. Fill the curry as shown below, and seal it by bringing together all the edges and give a slight twist at the end so as to make it really tight Lets call this a ball :)

  4. Do Step 3 for all the 'n' parathas and let them sit for about 5 minutes.
  5. Now, to roll the parathas, dust some loose flour on the ball and place it on a smooth surface. Gently press the ball without causing it to break open. If you notice any air bubbles, prick them with a fork or a tooth pick.

  6. Once you roll the paratha to a certain thickness, use a rolling pin to level it. As in, when you press using your hand, the finger impressions on the paratha cause hills and valleys :). Level them all by rolling the pin. I like my parathas thick, so I make sure I roll them to the right thickness, too thick- doesn't cook in the middle, too thin-I don't like :)
  7. Heat a tawa on high flame till it gets really hot.
  8. Fry the paratha, just like you fry a chapathi. You can either apply a little butter or oil on either side of the paratha, to give it a lovely golden look.

  9. Serve hot with curd, pickle, or ketchup. Can even be had as is. There's roti, aloo curry, why do you need something else? :)

Yes! I made it just in time :) Not for my hubby, but for the JFI event. :) I was seriously going through some Search Engine Optimization videos when all of a sudden, I wanted to browse for the upcoming food events in the blogging community. Landed up on Mahanandi, and came to know about the JFI:Wheat event.

And guess what, the deadline for submissions is Tomorrow. :( I usually cook two time khaana in the morning, so that I get all the time in the afternoon for myself. But today is one of those special days, when I cooked in the evening too. That too at jet speed :) Realised there's this event at 5:30, prepared the dough and put the potatoes to cook while I write the post. FYI, I'm a multi-tasking expert :) That's it, I'm done writing. Few clicks as I cook and my post would be ready to be published.

Hmmm.... Back to my desk with the awesome feeling of having aloo parathas with a glass of Mango lassi.

My first ever entry to a cooking event. Hope the judges like it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gutti vankaya curry

Ask any Andhraite what his/her favourite vegetarian curry is. With 80% probability, "Gutti vankaya" would be the answer. Its a stuffed brinjal curry with/without gravy. We love the brinjal/eggplant so much that there's even a film song from a 90's Telugu movie dedicated to it. I feel honored to post the first stanza of this song, with the English translation verbatim :)

Aaha emi ruchi
Aaha, what a taste
Anaraa maimarachi
Come on say it, mesmerized (by the taste)
Rojuu tinnaa mari
Even when eaten everyday
Moze teeranidi
The craving doesn't quench
Taaja kooralalo
Among fresh vegetables
Raja evarandi
Which is the king?
Inkaa cheppaala
Need I say more?
Vankaye nandi
It is Brinjal.

Hows that? 2 more stanzas to the song, but I'm not going to post them here.
As a publicity stunt, the film-makers launched a state-wide cooking competition, and all the Andhra women went on a brinjal marathon, dishing out several recipes with the vegetable :)

The method of preparation of the curry varies from kitchen to kitchen. In my family, it is cooked without the gravy. I prepare it in my mom's style, but use my ma-in-law's curry powder for stuffing the brinjal. I call this the "Universal curry powder" and its a must have in my pantry. Here's how its made.

Curry powder-Ingredients:
  1. Channa dal (senaga pappu) - x units
  2. Dhania - x/2 units
  3. Urad dal (mina pappu) - x/2
  4. Peanuts - proportional to the quantity of channa dal
  5. Red chillies
Heat a little amount of oil and roast all the ingredients. Add some salt and grind the mixture to a fine powder, when cooled.

If you have this powder ready, you can add it to most vegetables to make a delicious curry. Goes well with Cabbage, Beans, Carrot, Potato, and not to forget, the Brinjal. Just fry the veggies with some onions and tadka, and add the curry powder in the end.

With the curry powder ready, I'll go ahead with the actual Brinjal recipe. For my method of preparation, its best to use baby brinjals, as they cook faster.

  1. Baby brinjals
  2. Salt
  3. Chilli powder
  4. Heeng/asafoetida
  1. Add sufficient salt to the curry powder, since it can't be added later.
  2. Also add some chilli powder and heeng and mix them all with a small amount of oil.
  3. Remove the stalk and wash the brinjals.
  4. Carefully slit the brinjal as shown below. One cut on the bottom at the centre and two or more grooves on either sides on the top. The brinjal should not get sliced. The cut should almost go till the other edge, but it should not touch it. Slits are made where the fingers are positioned in the picture.                                                                                                                                                                                                
  5. Stuff the curry powder in each slit made to the brinjal.                                                                                              

  6. Heat sufficient oil (be a little generous, I'm sure you won't regret) and gently drop each brinjal.
  7. See that each brinjal is coated with oil on all sides.
  8. Cover and cook on low flame for about 20 minutes, tossing the brinjals in between. High flame could burn the vegetable. So be patient, and let them cook till tender. *Do not add water* while they cook. Its going to ruin the taste.
  9. Once done, add the leftover curry powder to the pan and gently transfer the contents to a different dish so as not to break the brinjals.

If someone can make this curry every day, I'll be more than happy to eat it. Hope you like it as much as I do.

Sending this entry to the WYF: Side dish Event.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy Ugadi!!!

Dear visitors,

Wish you all a very Happy Ugadi !!!

Its a brand new year again, with an old name though - "virodhi" (meaning- enemy). Each telugu calendar year has a separate name. There are 60 such names, and the cycle of names repeats every 60 years. May "Virodhi" year bring good health and prosperity to all of us, and may this year ward off all our enemies :) By enemy, I'm not just referring to a goon with a machine gun, an enemy could be as simple as a flu virus :)

The Indian festival Ugadi is celebrated in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. For more info on Ugadi, there's wiki.

We, Andhraites, prepare a special chutney on Ugadi day. "Ugadi patchadi" is what its known as. A blend of 6 different tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, spicy and tangy) symbolizing that life is a mixture of sweet and sad times, and one must accept them alike. As a child, I used to love this chutney that my mom made. Me and my sister would wait for the puja to get over so as to have spoonfuls of the pachadi. Its been 5 years since I last had it from amma's hands. Two years in hostel, then an year at work followed by two years in US. Though this isn't my first Ugadi after marriage, its the first time for me to celebrate it. The first year of marriage, I was a lazy little girl, who didn't know much about pujas et all :) But today, I feel so happy and satisfied after offering my prayers to God, and showing the live telecast to my folks back home in India :)

My camera has moved from the kitchen to the puja area, look at this "puja-click":

The actual ingredients that go into the making of Ugadi pachadi are:
  1. Neem flowers - for the bitter taste
  2. Tamarind pulp - sour
  3. Jaggery - sweet
  4. Chillis/chilli powder - spice
  5. Raw mango - tangy
  6. Salt
Since I couldn't get (1) and (5), I substituted (1) by Fenugreek powder and (5) by few drops of lemon. FYI, I'm overly flexible with what I substitute in my cooking :) Actually, I wanted to make an all jaggery pachadi, so that we won't have any bitter/sour/spice/salt/tangy experiences this year. :) But then, I thought, probably this pachadi will give us the strength to handle them all :)

The pachadi was a little too sour, otherwise okay. For the naivedyam, I made tamarind pulihora and Chakkerapongali. This particular sweet is my super-favourite since it is easy to cook, and tastes good. Posting its recipe here.

  1. Rice - x units
  2. Moong dal - x units
  3. Sugar - x units
  4. Grated coconut - x/2 units
  5. Cardamom powder
  6. Ghee
  1. Roast rice and dal separately in a small amount of ghee.
  2. Pressure cook the roasted ingredients with 4x water.
  3. When the cooked mixture is hot, add sugar, coconut and cardamom powder.
  4. Can add some ghee-roasted cashew and raisins too.
The smell of ghee and cardamom filled my stomach even before offering it to God. :)
A collage I made:

Once again, wish you a Happy Ugadi !
New year, new beginnings!! May God bless us all.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cream of tomato soup

"Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" on a pleasant Sunday evening over a bowl of tomato soup. Could you ask for more? Me neither.

The first weekend of Spring was a little wintry, and there were lots of ripe tomatoes in my fridge. Question is: what is the best recipe that's quick to prepare while clearing the whole bag of tomatoes so as to make space for other groceries? "Tomato soup" what else?

Both me and my husband are avid soup lovers. Our all-time favourite is the tomato soup served at Panera Bread. That's the tastiest I ever had. I tend to evaluate all other soups, setting Panera as the benchmark. I usually make the Knorr family of soups at home, never tried to make it from scratch. This time, since I had most of the ingredients at home, I wanted to give it a shot. Googled for tomato soup and found it listed in lots n lots of online cookbooks. After searching really hard, I landed up on Sia's website. I did try one of her other recipes too and was satisfied. So, Sia it is! After reading the recipe, I was surprised. Never did I expect onions and carrots in a tomato soup. Anyways, let me try, I thought. I should say, I was shocked after tasting it. The question that came up in my mind was: Is this Panera's secret recipe?? For me, it tasted exactly like Panera. Oh God, I was sooo happy. God bless you, Sia. I'll keep making this again and again and again.

That is the recipe, and this is the picture:

Trust me, I haven't added anything to get the bright orange color.
The only changes were:
  1. No sugar, no butter
  2. Fried a small garlic clove along with the veggies
  3. Added some dried basil & oregano while boiling the pureed mixture
  4. A little cream just before serving
Its quite filling I should say. I never quite understood why soup is called an appetizer. For me, two bowls of soup and that's it, no more room for the main course. Just had salad and soup for dinner and signed off the day with the satisfaction of watching DDLJ over a light and healthy dinner.

Table linen

I always wanted to buy a nice lace table cloth for my dining table. The ones that Walmart, Target keep are the bland, plain colored ones. So, began searching online for a lace cloth. Here's what I bought from Anna's Linens:

Looks pretty, ain't it?
But I'm not 100% satisifed with it. It looks pretty, no doubt. But it would have been better had the lace been non-porous (like the ones we get in India). I'll probably buy one simple cloth from Target and put the lace cloth over it, so that the food particles don't seep to the table surface.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chole chaat

Blogging would be the last thing on my mind on a Sunday morning. Why then am I posting something now? Well, I'm actually waiting for several things ...
  1. for the tomato pulp to cool, so that I can grind it
  2. for the chutney (1) so that I can have my breakfast
  3. for my husband, so that I can go out shopping
  4. for my sister, who gave me an appointment at 10:30 to call her
Now that I have nothing else to do, I decided to post my first recipe. Something I made yesterday for evening snacks. Chaat with Badam milkshake.

Call it channa masala, chole chaat, whatever, its essentially a delicious curry made with chickpeas/garbanzo beans. We either have it with chapathis or just as a light snack. This is one "fast to cook, good to eat" dish. When I made it the first time using my mom's recipe, I was like "Is that all?". Very very simple recipe, yet very very tasty.

  1. Chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Green chillies
  4. Onions
  5. Dhania-jeera powder
  6. Channa masala
  7. Lemon juice
  8. Coriander leaves
  1. Soak chickpeas for atleast 8 hours and boil them with a little salt. If you use the canned beans, you can skip this step.
  2. Puree tomatoes (quantity depends on the amount of chickpeas) and keep it ready.
  3. Heat a little oil (I just use 1 tbsp for a cup of chickpeas) in a pan and fry the tadka (mustard and jeera).
  4. Add little turmeric to the oil and fry green chillis.
  5. Add the chopped onions to the pan and saute them.
  6. Tomato puree to be added next along with some salt.
  7. Add the boiled/canned chickpeas to the puree and some dhania-jeera powder, little sugar, any store-bought chole masala.
  8. Cover the pan and let the contents cook for about 10 minutes. If the gravy is too thick, add some water.
  9. Add some lemon juice and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and onions.

That's all it takes for a bowl of chatpata chaat to land on your table.

I've got something to say about dhania-jeera powder. Store-bought powder neither has the taste nor the aroma of home-made powder. I use it in most of the curries, particularly the ones with gravy. Once in a while, when I'm really jobless, I grind equal quantities of coriander seeds (dhania) and jeera along with few red chillies to a fine powder. This stays fresh for about two weeks when stored in an air-tight tin.

Along with chaat, we also had a glass of chilled badam milk. For the recipe, well, buy a packet of MTR badam feast and DAD (do-as-directed) :). Blend milk and the MTR powder along with an ice cube or two and savour the drink.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Double ka meetha

Guests for dinner - what's the dessert? Custard? Carrot halwa? ... ??? nah-nah-nah. I wanted to try something different this time. May be because, I was in this food blogging activity all week. Out of nowhere, I got this idea of making "Double ka meetha". My mom has never made it, I've tasted it just once at a friend's place some two years ago and I don't even remember how it tasted. So, whats it that has driven me into choosing DKM of all other sweets? Guess what? The kitchen-clicks of a blogger. Look at this. This picture didn't just say a thousand words, but also brought a million "waahhh"'s out of my vocal chords. I even sent this link to my mom, asking her why didn't she ever make this sweet? I felt bad thinking, my taste buds had to wait for 25 years to taste this visual delicacy. :)

That said, I went ahead and got the stuff as per the recipe. Since I couldn't find evaporated milk and saffron, I chose to follow Siri's recipe.
No "sontha-talent" (Tenglish word for own talent/ideas) here, as I didn't want to make any mistake and ruin the whole desire of having DKM.

Followed Siri's recipe without missing a word, and this is how it turned out:

Made it, looked yummy, tasted good too. But wasn't as great as expected. That's probably because the bar was set way too high. My guests loved it. So did my husband. All of them are Hyderabadis, so they might have inherited the Nawabi taste buds :). Me, being a Vizagite, I would always choose Rasmalai/Kalakand over this one. Its good, but not great. When I told my Mom that I was disappointed, here's what she said: "I know dear, its not a very delicious sweet. That's why I never made it". What a smart reply, I thought :) Anyways, I'm not going to make it again, unless my husband asks for it.


Who doesn't like Italian food, even though its a little cheesy? Surprisingly, some of the Italian dishes are easy to cook. My first experiment with Italian cuisine was Pasta. Wanted to make it in an authentic way. I got the enthu on a Friday evening, and forced my poor husband to take me to the grocery store, after a tiring day at work. Got Penne pasta, shredded Parmesan cheese and Prego tomato-basil sauce. It was my first visit to the Pasta aisle at the grocery store, and my! I was amazed at the countless varieties of pasta sauce.

Here's the recipe, and this is how it looked in my kitchen!

1. Added onions and broccoli to eggplant
2. Substituted tomato paste and fresh basil with store-bought Prego sauce
3. Added garlic powder

It hardly took me 15 minutes for pasta to be served on my plate. At restaurant speed huh. :)

Now a days, I stopped purchasing the pasta sauce. Buying plain tomato sauce (is usually kept in the same aisle as other pasta ingredients) instead. Below is another pasta recipe that I invented.
  1. Slice an onion into inch long pieces and fry in olive oil
  2. Chop spinach and fresh basil and add them to the fried onions. A little salt is added
  3. Dust some dried garlic powder and any dry herbs you like. I use Oregano, Basil, and some Italian seasoning
  4. Empty the tomato sauce can into the pan. Add some water so as to thin the sauce and let it cook on low flame for 5min
  5. Add cheese and the boiled and drained pasta to the sauce
  6. Done!

When I first made pasta, I boiled the entire contents of the packet as I'm always a bad judge of quantity. The left over pasta was refrigerated in a ziploc bag. I didn't really want to make the same recipe again. Then, came the day, when I wanted to eat Palak paneer. Have you seen its click? As usual, there was some left over PP too, and a new idea in my mind. How about having palak pasta? That's PP again :) Next day's lunch was cooked at rocket speed. 3-2-1, and its ready!

1. fry onions,
2. add prego sauce, palak paneer, salt and cheese.
3. microwave the left over pasta and add it to the sauce mixture.
Five minutes of preparation time, and it was the most delicious pasta I ever had.

Your turn to drool over it now...

Palak Paneer

Summer is in, and so is my first post. How did I find out its summer? Here's my story. Every day I light diyas using oil when I pray to God. For the last three months or so, each time I reach out for my coconut oil tin, I find the oil has solidified and the tin is hard as rock. I end up microwaving the oil, before lighting the lamps. And today, to my surprise, the oil was shaking in the tin. I was soo excited to welcome summer. Living in "Sun" Diego, I have no right to complain about winters. But, come to think of all those woollens, ahhh.. hate it. Sooo happy that its time for my pretty salwars and sandals again. :)

Before posting here, I just wrote a review about an Internet phone here. If you are an NRI, with parents in India, you might check it out.

Hmm... Palak paneer.. The awesome aroma of the gravy while its cooking, makes me crave for Palak paneer atleast once a week.
"This is how I did it" :)

The recipe is loosely based on Indira's post.

Changes I made were:
1. I fried onions before sauting the Spinach leaves in the same skillet, and blended the onion-chilli-spinach mixture together.
2. Used tomato puree.
3. Added garam masala and some kasuri methi while cooking the gravy, and few drops of lemon juice at the end.
4. No cashews, replaced paneer with Tofu so as to keep a tab on my lbs.

Yet another Image. Added some whipping cream at the end this time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

About this blog


Looks like the blogging fever is not going to leave me anytime soon. When I first wanted to start a blog, an year ago, I just pushed off an idea of a food blog. Me and food blog - pleaaassseeee.. So, back then, I started to post some piano notations for hindi songs. About 1600 unique visitors have visited that blog in an year's time. Overwhelmed by the response it got, I went on to pursue other ventures online. Sometime in between, while watching a Cirque Du Soleil show in Las Vegas, I got this idea of starting another blog where I get to review stuff. Hmm.. I have to admit, I haven't scribbled much there, so its visitors can hardly be counted on fingers.

Today, while exchanging a couple of emails with a friend who just entered the blogosphere, this idea flashed in my mind. Why not I write a food blog?? My friends from college, and other relatives of mine, if by chance they hear this, I'm sure they'll "Roll on the floor laughing out loud".. Whoa.. That's one long emotion - ROTFLOL!!!

I know, I know, it's funny. Me posting a cookbook online, when I myself cook based on what I see on other blogs. But hey, its not always that I do as directed by other cooks. I have my variations too, which I pen down in my mail drafts along with links to recipes. Decided to make those private "drafts" public "posts". So, here's what you can expect to see at kitchen-clicks. A picture of what I cook, a link to the recipe I followed, and the changes I made. Sounds good?

Going forward, I might start posting some of the recipes I learnt from my mom too. I guess I should start with how to make a glass of Complan. Here's a little background about my culinary skills. Trust me, even at the age of 20, I didn't know how to prepare a cup of milk for myself. My mom was behind my life to teach me cooking during summer holidays, but all I kept telling her was "There's time for everything". "Jab jab jo jo hona hai, Tab tab so so hota hai" is what I firmly believe in. :) The time finally came when I started working in Pune. My roomates in Pune might still remember how excited I used to be, while preparing the simplest of simplest recipes.

Talking about "kitchen-clicks", I'm not just going to upload pictures of my cooking. I might add a newly bought table-cloth (which fedex delivered as I write this), fridge magnets from a sight-seeing trip, anything that deserves a click.

So, have fun! Bon appetite! Let me know when you try out some of the recipes on this site (with my variations).

Finally,, may God bless all the food bloggers who inspired me to cook!

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