Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Feast...on the go..

Thanksgiving is here, and the whole of the US is thinking about food...I'm not really hosting a dinner, nor am I going to one, but I'm visiting L. and don't want to spend all the time in the kitchen, so I'm carrying a feast with me. Ok, the meal is not even remotely related the thanksgiving, but I'll blog the recipes anyways. There is also the guilt of not being able to do anything for Diwali, so some of these recipes are just trying to make up for it.

Here are some of the components.

Paneer Tikki

Fresh crumbled Paneer - 1/2 cup
Chickpea flour (Besan) - 2 tbsp.
Ghee - 1 tsp.
Freshly ground fennel seeds - 1 tbsp.
Freshly ground Anaardana - 1 tbsp.
Ground cumin-corriander powder - 1 tbsp.
Dry Mango Powder (Amchoor) - 1 tbsp.
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp.
Finely minced green chilly - 1 small
Cashewnut pieces - 2 tbsp.
Raisins - a few
salt to taste.
Oil to fry.

Roast the Besan in ghee on a medium flame till light brown. Let cool. Mix all the ingredients, except cashewnuts, raisins and oil, and knead well. make small balls, flatten, stuff with cashewnuts and raisins, form into small tikkis and fry.

Hopefully, I'll be able to reheat them and get the same texture. These definitely fall in the "No one can eat just one" category.

Mathri/Farsi Puri

My younger Mami used to make this. I don't remember her recipe, but I got a similar recipe for Mathri on You Tube. Here's a very nice video. I followed the recipe to the letter. I love the lady in these videos. Here's the recipe, just for reference.

2 cups of All purpose flour.
1/2 cup Sooji (Semolina)
4 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Ajwain (Oregano seeds)
1/2 cup luke-warm water.
Oil for frying.

Make a very stiff dough using all the ingredients. Knead well and roll out small, slightly thick puris. Prick them with a fork. The trick I learnt from the video is to prick many puris simultaneously. If the dough is nice and stiff, then this trick should work without trouble. Fry them on a very low heat. Reminded me of my Mama's home. Also gave me a little sense of gratification of celebrating belated Diwali.

Methi Thepla

This one's the classic. Staple in a Gujju household. I haven't made them in a while. The recipe is almost what I remember from what my mom taught me. Although I'm pretty sure mom did not use Besan and rice flour, but I think they make them more interesting. Here's the recipe:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Besan
1/4 cup Rice flour
1/2 cup thawed frozen chopped Methi (Fenugreek leaves)
1 ripe banana, mashed
2-3 tbsp oil
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsp Dhaana Jeeru
2 tbsp Sugar (Yeah..that's what makes it gujarati)
1/2 cup yogurt
Salt to taste

Make a very soft dough using all the ingredients. The dough should feel very soft and silky. I did not use any water. Knead well, make into small balls and roll out into small rotis. Cook on both sides first, followed by shallow frying in oil, like any other paratha. These stay fresh for days even without refrigeration. If you've ever traveled in India with a Gujarati, you would have tasted these. They stay good for several weeks if properly refrigerated. I think the ones with banana might not keep for too long, but they are definitely softer and sweeter.

I had some for dinner with plain yogurt and sweet lime pickle. Miss home..

Upama Mix

This has got to be one of the staples of Indian couples in a long distance relationship. My dear friend P. who was visiting her husband from India gave me the idea. It made total sense. Yes, Upama is easy. But it's also easy to mess up the tadka, for some of the inexperienced and may I also say, pampered Indian men. Plus they rarely ever have ingredients like udad dal, curry leaves and cashew nuts on hand. One solution is the pre-packaged upama mixes. Now, I'm all for ready-to-use mixes whenever available, but for Upama, it seems like an overkill. It's so easy and inexpensive to prepare the mix at home, and you can also control the quality of ingredients. L. likes lots of nuts, so I make sure I go heavy on cashew nuts in this recipe. That's what makes it special. It's also a very simple way of making your presence felt in the day-to-day life of the special one, who's far away.

You can make large quantities of these and pack in air-tight containers. I guess the shelf life is easily a couple of months, if care is taken to not introduce any water during the whole process. You might also omit (or replace) the green chillis to increase the shelf life. This is perfect for that Saturday afternoon, when he can't figure out what to make. Just add boiling water (and salt, if you chose not to add it to the mix). Of course, you can also make this for yourself.

Ghee - 3 tbsp
Semolina - 2 cups
Mustard seeds - 2 tbsp
Udad Dal - 1/4 cup
Green chillis, slit open - 5-6
Curry leaves - two twigs
Cashewnuts - 1 cup
Hing - 1 tsp

Heat ghee in a big skillet. Add the ingredients of the Tadka one by one and fry till udad dal and cashew nuts turn golden brown. Add the Semolina and roast on a medium flame until fragrant and done. Cool completely and store in an air tight container.

When making the upama, add boiled water (1 part upama mix to 2.5 parts water, depending on the coarseness of semolina) and salt. Optionally, you can also add boiled green peas, or mixed vegetables. If you want to make a Gujarati version, add some sugar and lemon juice (Yes, that's how we like our upama). Or, add sauted onions. You can garnish this with freshly chopped coriander leaves and freshly grated coconut and lemon wedges. All of these are optional. Adding your love while packing the upama mix is not. (Damn...that's too cheesy na?)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A new beginning

This post is about a new beginning in more ways than one. I'm finally going to start blogging about recipes now (hello...it's a food blog..what was I thinking so far?), and the first recipe is about a new beginning in my life. My parents have consented to my decision about my marriage. I'm sure there are plenty of Indian girls out there, who understand exactly what a huge relief this is. I came up with this recipe to celebrate this wonderful milestone with L. I was visiting L. for the first time on the weekend following Dashera, a week after my parents broke the news to me. So this had to be something really special.

There are several different inspirations for this recipe. I love mangoes, so I had to make something with Mangoes. My eldest Masi taught me how to make chocolate walnut fudge (similar to the one sold by Cooper's in Lonavala). So, I decided to make Mango fudge, and felt that Cashews would go well with Mango. So, it's a Mango - Cashew Fudge.
The decoration is inspired by the typical decoration of 'Kalvo'. Now, Kalvo is the basic Besan sweet, decorated with nuts and gifted to the bride and the groom by the families. I think the final look of this dish does resemble a 'Kalvo' that my family would one day bring for L. Here's to new beginnings...

Mango - Cashew Fudge:

1 can Mango pulp (I used Kesar, but Alphonso might work better)
1 can condensed milk
1 can full milk
1 cup coarse cashew powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter (unsalted)
1 tsp. cardamom powder
1/2 cup mixed nuts powder (almonds, pistachios, etc.) (optional)
Nuts for garnish.

In a thick bottomed or nonstick pan, mix all the ingredients, leaving out 1/4 stick of butter and cardamom. Mix well and stir on medium heat. Keep stirring till the mixture becomes thick and starts leaving the side of the pan.

Add the remaining butter and cardamom powder. This adds a nice shine to the fudge. Set it in a buttered dish, cool, and garnish.

I assume this recipe might work well in the microwave too, although I haven't tried it. In case you're wondering about the chocolate walnut variation, replace Mango with chocolate powder, cashew nuts with finely chopped walnuts, and cardamom with vanilla. It really tastes like the one at Cooper's.

L. and our friends absolutely loved it. What I was singing in my heart though was the gujarati wedding song about Kalvo.."Kalvo khavdavava aavyaa honshe honshe".