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Kid-Friendly Recipes

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Since the time N started school, it has been a big task for me to find different ideas for his lunch box. The usual roti-subzi, boiled eggs, upma, bread-jam choices ran out in the first few days and now that the items are repeating, N is bored and so am I. Naturally, the hunt for recipes began and I spotted this little book in my library the other day: Tiffin Treats for Kids by Tarla Dalal. It was exactly what I was looking for: kid-friendly recipes which can be packed.

I read the book cover to cover and noted down some recipes and had to try one at that very moment. ‘Moong Dal Cricpies’ is what Madam Dalal likes to call it. It is made of moong dal and aata, how more nutritious can it get! One could add vegetables or leafy vegetables to make it even more nutritious. It does not take much time, not considering the soaking time of 30 minutes. This recipe uses very few, easily available ingredients, it is easy to customize and quick to make.

There are many recipes like this which caught my attention. Bread Pakoda, Khakra, Vegetable Pancake, Pasta, Sandwich, Fried Rice and what not. N is not much into spicy food, so most of these wouldn’t suit him, but I can always alter the recipe to suit N. The only thing pending is to plan and try out all these recipes and surprise N with a new item in box everyday.

Apart from the tasty recipes, what I really liked about the book is its layout. A full page picture of the food item on the left side and the recipe for the same on the right, so that when you are reading or making the recipe, you know how the end product should look like. I hate it when I see recipes and there is a footnote at the end which says photo on Page blah-blah. You can involve your kids in making some of these recipes, which is a double bonanza for mothers like me, whose kids are very much into cooking.  There is another book by the same author Cooking With Kids which would be great for N. I am waiting until he grows a bit older before trying out this book.

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Written by A

July 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

Posted in food, Recipe

Masala Puri

with 6 comments

Ever since Shilpa of Aayi’s Recipes posted a recipe for Masala Puri, I had been dying to try it. A friend of hers got this recipe from a gaadi-wala in Vijayanagar, Bangalore and passed it on to her. The recipe is authentic, coming from a gaadiwala, and Shilpa has yummy photos that accompany the recipe.

I didn’t have all the spices called for in the recipe, so I substituted in my own way. I used store bought puris and dream of making these puris at home one day. Sigh, a girl can dream, right? The dish turned out tasty and was gone in minutes! Next time around, I know I need to make this in a larger quantity.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

1 cup Green Peas (If you want to use dry peas, soak them overnight. If using frozen peas, soak for 2-3 hours)
1/4 cup Toor Dal
2 cups of Water
1 big Onion, finely chopped
2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
Coriander Leaves, minced
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
Puris (Store bought)
Fine Sev (Store bought)
Salt
Dry Spices :
1/2 tsp Cloves
1″ Cinnamon
1 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Peppercorns

Green Chutney:
1/2 cup of Coriander Leaves
3-4 Green Chillies
1/4 cup of Water
Salt

Grind all the ingredients to make spicy, green chutney.

Sweet Chutney:
You can get the recipe from any blog. Here is one. Or use the Smith & Jones Bhel Puri Chutney, like me.

Method
1. Dry roast all the spices.
2. Pressure cook toor dal and peas separately. I mean, in different containers. Nobody is stopping you from pressure cooking them at the same time.
3. Grind the spices and toor dal together. Dal will add some thickness and consistency to the gravy.
4. Transfer the ground spices and dal to a flat bottom pan and heat it.
5. Add the cooked peas, red chilli powder, salt and water and bring it to a boil. Make sure the gravy is not too thick or not too watery.
6. When serving, break 4-5 puris in a plate. Spread a ladle of gravy on the puris. Add the finely chopped onion, tomatoes and coriander leaves. To make it extra spicy, add a bit of green chutney. If you like it a bit sweet, add the sweet chutney. Sprinkle sev generously. Eat!


I am sending this to Nupur’s Blog Bites#3 event. This entry also goes to Priya’s Cooking with Seeds – Cumin seeds hosted at Sara’s Corner this month.

Written by A

May 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

A Different Mango Pickle

with one comment

Summer is the time when women get busy to re-stock their kitchen with long lasting food items like paapad, red chilli powder and pickles. The last one, pickle, is ubiquitous all over India and you will see jars of freshly made pickle kept out in the sun. While these pickles have a long shelf life and are savored all year round, the one that I made is for immediate consumption.

This pickle is called as ‘Palu’ in my household and my husband calls it ‘Gatka’. No matter what you decide to call it, this pickle will taste great with rice or roti. Green mangoes are known for causing acidity (or what we call pitta), so to counteract this, we add methi powder (or methi seeds if you don’t have powder handy) and it gives a different taste to this pickle.

Palu or Gatka or Sweet Mango Pickle

Ingredients

1 Green Mango, medium sliced
1/2 cup Jaggery. The actual amount would depend on how sour the green mango is
1/2 cup Water
Oil for seasoning
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 tsp Methi Powder or Methi Seeds
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Fennel Seeds, optional
8-10 Curry Leaves
A pinch of Asafoetida
Salt to taste

Method

1. Microwave the sliced green mango. Transfer the slices to a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle some water and microwave it for 2 minutes. Depending on the kind of mango you choose and the power of your microwave, this time is variable. Microwave till the slices are soft to the touch and they look cooked.
2. If you don’t have a microwave, don’t sweat. You can cook the slices directly in the pan after you give a seasoning. Just hold on till I come to that.
3. Heat oil in a saute pan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Now on low flame, add the curry leaves, asafoetida, red chilli powder, methi powder or seeds and the fennel seeds.
4. Add the cooked mango slices, jaggery, water and salt. Bring this to a boil until the water becomes thicker. Once this is done, you will see this as a homogeneous mixture rather than mango pieces and water together. Check out the photo to see the consistency.
5. If you have not microwaved the mango slices, then this is the time to cook them. Add the raw slices and the water. Cover the pan and cook the mango slices until they are soft to the touch. Adding salt quickens the cooking time. Once they are done, add more water if required.
6. Taste it and see if the tangy-sweet balance is to your liking. If not, add some more jaggery until it suits you fine.
7. Take it off the heat and enjoy it hot with rice or roti. Transfer it to an air tight container and refrigerate it once it comes to room temperature. This can be stored upto 2-3 weeks in refrigerator.

Serving suggestions

Tastes really good with curd rice. Try it with upma or kanda pohe and see the same old dishes take on a new taste. This is a favorite with kids since it satiates their two main taste buds – sweet and sour. You can make it more spicy and less sweet to suit the adult taste buds.

Written by A

May 7, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Posted in cooking, food, Pickle, Recipe

Jaangri

with 6 comments

Jaangri or Imarti or Jaangir is a close relative of Jalebi. Many people assume they are the same, but they are not. While Jaangri is made of urad dal, Jalebi is made from maida and needs overnight fermentation. And, of course, they taste different.

When I saw Harini’s recipe for Jaangri in Blog Bites #2 roundup, I knew I had to try it. I love Jaangri and I didn’t know it was so easy to make. When Nupur announced the third edition of Blog Bites, I decided to try Harini’s recipe for this event. Since the theme of Blog Bites #3 is adaptation, I will explain what change I have made to the original recipe. I did not use food color, but used some saffron to get the color. Simple, huh? This adaptation is more out of necessity – I didn’t have any food color handy and didn’t want to buy either because honestly, how many recipes do you know which call for food color?

Jaangris Ready!

Jaangri
Makes 8-10 pieces

Ingredients

Urad Dal, 1 cup
Rice 1/4, cup
Sugar, 1 cup
Water – Just enough to immerse the sugar
Saffron threads, 8-10
Oil for frying

Method

1. Soak Urad Dal and Rice for 3-4 hours. Drain all the water and transfer to a mixer pot. Grind them finely with as little water as possible. Don’t be impractical and not use water at all – your mixer will curse you. Add a few drops of water at a time until grinding becomes a possibility.
2. Take a thick enough plastic cover and cut a small hole in one corner. You are basically making a cone. If you are familiar with mehndi cones, you know what we are trying to do here. I am sure you can use a cloth for this, but I haven’t tried that method.
3. For the sugar syrup, place sugar in a thick bottomed vessel and add enough water to immerse the sugar. Add the saffron threads to it and heat this. Keep stirring in between and once you get one string consistency, take it off the flame.
4. Heat oil in a wok. Pour some batter into the cone and when the oil is really hot, squeeze out the batter through the hole and try to shape it like jaangri. I know it is easier said than done. Make two rounds at the center and draw petals around it. Fry on low flame till it is golden brown.
5. Dunk the jaangri in the sugar syrup and take it out after 3-4 minutes.
6. Serve the jaangri hot.

Jaangri being fried

Notes

1. You can start with the sugar syrup first. Keep it on low flame so that when the jaangris are fried, your sugar syrup is ready.
2. If you find that the batter is too watery, add some rice flour to it to salvage it. I know it will alter the taste, but altered jaangri is better than no jaangri, right?
3. The sugar syrup should be hot when you put jaangri into it, so you might have to reheat it in between.
4. Since we are not using food color, jaangris will not be as orange as you see in the stores. They will have a mild golden color.
5. Jaangris I made turned out really tasty. The only problem I had with this was they lost their crispiness after a few hours. Store bought jaangris are not soggy, but mine were. I have no idea why and if anyone of you has a clue, please let me know. The next time around, I want to make perfect jaangris!

I am sending this to Nupur’s Blog Bites #3.

Written by A

May 5, 2010 at 9:17 am

Kadhi in an earthen pot

with 2 comments

Kadhi is a sour-n-sweet dish made from buttermilk or yogurt. The basic recipe is to add a thickening agent like besan to buttermilk and give this a tempering of mustard seeds, green chillies , turmeric and curry leaves. The recipe gets customized in different places and cultures. Gujarati kadhi tastes mildly sweet and has pakodis or vegetable dumplings in it. In North Karnataka (where I come from) we skip the pakodis. I love the way my Mom makes it – sweet, sour Palade (that’s what we call it), which can be had with rice or sipped as is. When I first tasted the Kadhi that my mother-in-law made, I was in for a surprise. While my Mom’s variety is mild in taste, my mother-in-law’s version was an explosion of all possible tastes in the mouth. She uses raw spices and this gives the Kadhi a totally different taste. This, in my opinion, is better as a standalone drink, it doesn’t taste that great with rice.

The recipe that my mother-in-law follows is supposedly very common in Jalgaon or Khandesh. Kadhi appears regularly in their diet and is even made in weddings. Since most weddings in Jalgaon happen in summer, Kadhi is offered to guests as a cooling drink – follow the recipe and just keep the Kadhi in a refrigerator and there it is as a thirst quencher. Buttermilk is of course good in beating the summer heat – add a few spices to it and the Kadhi goes down really well.

I usually make Kadhi in a normal steel vessel, but after the recommendation from my mother-in-law, I tried making it in an earthen pot. She is right, Kadhi tastes totally different and has that mild muddy taste to it. You can make it in any vessel you want – you will enjoy it all the same. If you choose to use an earthen pot, make the tempering in a steel vessel, pour in the buttermilk and then pour the contents to the earthen pot. Bring the Kadhi to a boil in the earthen pot. You can make the tempering in an earthen pot, I am sure, but I have not tried it.

Kadhi Simmering

Kadhi – Jalgaon Style
Serves 2

For Buttermilk:

1 cup Curd or Yogurt or 2 cups of Buttermilk
1 tsp Jowar flour (You can skip this if you don’t have it. Substitute with besan)
1 tsp Besan or Chickpea flour (2 tsp if you don’t have Jowar flour)
1/2 tsp Jeera powder
A pinch of Garam Masala
Salt to taste
3-4 Citric acid crystals, optional

For Tempering:

1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 Jeera
4 Peppercorns
4 Methi seeds
4 Clover
1 tsp Dagad phool
5-6 Garlic cloves, finely cut
3-4 Green chillies, finely cut
4-5 Curry leaves, cut

Method:

1. Add water to yogurt/curd and whisk to make buttermilk.
2. Add jowar flour, besan, garam masala, jeera powder and salt. Whisk again.

3. Heat oil in a vessel. Wait till the oil is piping hot, I mean real hot.
4. Gather all these ingredients in a big enough table spoon – mustard seeds, jeera, peppercorns, garlic,  clover, methi seeds, dagad phool, green chillies and curry leaves. When the oil is hot enough, then toss all these at once into the vessel and cover the vessel.
5. Keep the vessel covered and let the flame be high. After 1-2 minutes, the aroma of spices will begin to spread. Don’t worry if you smell something burnt. The key to this Kadhi is the burnt tempering.
6. Pour in the buttermilk to the vessel. Keep the vessel covered. You may want to switch on your chimney now.
7. Bring the Kadhi to a boil – on low flame and with frequent stirrings. The latter part is very important – if you don’t stir often enough, the buttermilk will lose its homogeneity.
8. Add salt. Add citric acid crystals if the buttermilk is not sour enough.
9. Garnish with coriander and enjoy it hot. Alternatively, bring Kadhi to room temperature, refrigerate it and enjoy it cold.

Kadhi All Ready

I am sending this post to Thanda Mela hosted by Srivalli.

Written by A

April 27, 2010 at 6:25 am

Posted in cooking, Drink, food

Tagged with

Blog Bites #2: Doodhi Kofta

with 2 comments

The first time I had Doodhi Kofta in Potluck restaurant. This was newly opened near our office and we used to go there every other day. The best part about this restaurant was its serving portions. You order a curry and it would be sufficient enough for one person. You don’t have to bother about sharing it with someone or end up wasting it. 3-4 phulkas, one curry, a drink to wash it down, an optional dessert and your lunch is done – sasta aur tikaavu, I mean wholesome and economical. I became a fan of doodhi kofta the moment I tasted it. It didn’t taste like doodhi at all and I found the concept very innovative – vegetable dumplings in gravy that goes well with both roti and rice. When Nupur announced the second blog bites event, I knew I had to make doodhi kofta. I used a lot of recipes as reference, but my recipe is mainly based on Skribles’ recipe.

The original recipe calls for fried koftas. I tend to minimize the use of oil wherever I can, so I tried making koftas in the kuzhi paniyaram skillet. The deep fried koftas were just like bhajis – crispy and oily. The steamed ones were a new taste – they didn’t taste like doodhi, but the combination of doodhi and besan and spices was yummy. So, the choice is yours – diet friendly steamed koftas or the cholesterol rich, deep fried ones.

Doodhi Kofta
Serves 2

For Kofta
1 cup grated Doodhi or Lauki or Bottlegourd
1 cup Besan or Chickpea flour (The actual amount depends on the water content of doodhi)
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Chilly Powder
1/2 tsp Dhaniya Powder
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

For Gravy
2 big Onions
2 big Tomatoes
1 tsp Chilly Powder (I use Everest’s Kashmirilal for gravy. It is rich in color, but mild in hotness, so the gravy is not actually hot, but looks red hot)
A pinch of Garam Masala
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste


Method
Kofta:

1. Shred the bottlegourd and squeeze the water out. The more water you squeeze out, the lesser besan you need. Do not throw away this water. We will add this to the gravy.
2. Add chilly powder, turmeric, salt and dhaniya powder. Let this sit for a few minutes. After adding salt, the water content in bottlegourd will be released. We can add sufficient besan then.
3. Add besan and mix well. If you need more besan, add accordingly.
4. Make lemon sized balls out of this. Deep fry them or steam them in kuzhi-paniyaram skillet.

These koftas can be savored as they are. They taste great with tomato sauce.

Steamed Koftas

Deep Fried Koftas

Gravy:

1. Grind the onions into a fine paste.
2. Puree the tomatoes.
3. Add oil in a saute pan. Once the oil is hot, add the ground onion.
4. After the onion is done, add chilly powder, turmeric, garam masala and ginger-garlic paste.
5. Add the tomato puree.
6. Add water (the one that was squeezed out of bottlegourd) to the gravy. Bring the gravy to a boil.
7. Add the koftas to the gravy. Keep the pan covered and cook over low flame for a few minutes.
8. Koftas absorb water, so adjust water accordingly. Make it more watery if you plan to eat this with rice.
9. Relish it hot with roti or rice.

Written by A

April 19, 2010 at 11:03 am

Blog Bites #1: Gajar Halwa in a Rice Cooker

with 16 comments

Nupur at One Hot Stove is hosting an event, Blog Bites. The first part of the event is all about cookers – pressure cooker, slow cooker and rice cooker. This post is my entry to this event.

The rice cooker I have is a wedding gift from my colleagues at my previous company.   This is one of the best wedding gifts I have got. I use it all the time. It is easy to clean and maintain. When I have guests coming over, I make plain rice or any colored rice in this. I leave it alone in the rice cooker and get busy preparing other things. I don’t have to worry about checking on it and re-heating it at lunch time. The rice sits there innocently while the aroma spreads to the entire house and works on your appetite. The bottom line is: rice cookers are a must in every kitchen. Lakshmi and the rest of the gang, thanks for the gift! Hey Lakshmi, you cook some wonderful things with your rice cooker, why don’t you post some of your recipes for us? You can even post an entry for this event.

I am lucky to have been born in a family where there are great cooks and relish-ers in umpteen numbers. Recipes handed down from 3-4 generations which were previously made in kitchens with stone stoves are made even now in modern kitchens with chimneys. And these recipes remain a favorite with all of us even today. I always go back to these tried, tested and relished to the core recipes which give me a comfort zone and confidence that I can get this right.

The ubiquitous gajar halwa is one such dessert which I go back to, no matter what the occasion. If someone is coming over for lunch at a short notice, then I put together the ingredients and get the dessert ready in minutes. Not much preparation needed (apart from grating the carrots and that too is easy if you have a food processor) and a few ingredients which are available in the kitchen all the time. If gajar halwa sounds too plain and boring, then top it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it becomes more interesting. I have always made this in a pressure cooker or in a microwave, but when my cousin said she tried making doodhi halwa in a rice cooker, I got curious. So, I got this recipe from her and tried it myself but replaced doodhi with gajar and it came out exceedingly well. The best part about this recipe is you can reduce its calorie content by not using ghee. Yes, it is possible. You can make gajar halwa without ghee and it tastes great. My cousin doesn’t have a blog, so I can’t post a link to it.

Recipe: Serves 2

1. Carrots – 3-4 or about a quarter kg. Grate all the carrots and put it in a cup just right to hold this. We will use this cup as a measure for the rest of the ingredients. Add the grated carrots to the rice cooker.

2. Add a quarter cup of sugar (the same cup used above). I like halwa which is mildly sweet. If you like it sweeter, add a little more sugar to the rice cooker.

3.  Add a cup of milk.

4. Switch on the rice cooker and let the halwa cook. The sweet aroma will spread within a few minutes!

5. If you just can’t think of halwa without ghee, then this is where you add it. Add a few spoons of ghee to the half-cooked halwa and continue to cook.

6. The rice cooker will switch over to ‘Keep warm’ mode once the halwa is done. If you continue to keep the halwa in the rice cooker, then it might become too dry. It’s better to transfer it to a serving bowl.

7. Garnish the halwa with finely cut almonds and cashews. Enjoy the hot gajar halwa as is or top it up with a scoop of your favorite ice cream and enjoy the hot-n-cold combination.

Written by A

March 15, 2010 at 5:20 am

Posted in Blog Bites, cooking, food