Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Undhiu - A True Classic

One post is not enough. I actually need an entire blog to write about Undhiu. There would be one post for each ingredient..some posts for the papdi sessions...some for the stories shared during the papdi sessions...some for the layering order..some criticizing the "caterer versions"...some about the side dishes...ohh..I could go on and on...Everytime I make this, the people around me are subjected to a million stories...In my mother's household, Undhiu is a religion...Every detail matters...and you never mess with the recipe..ever...

Let's see if I can fit all this in a post. If you have eaten Undhiyu at Gujarati weddings or at catered parties..this version is nothing like that oily, mix-all-curry-like substance. The Undhiu my mom makes (and I make) is an art form. It is about appreciating every single element..and yet enjoying the combined taste..but I drift again..it's basically stuffed, fresh winter vegetables, layered in a particular order and cooked slowly.

It all starts with the Papdi. Papdi is usually a generic term for many flat bean like vegetables. But in this case, it has to be the "Surti papdi" (The same one where Lilva comes from). If you're from Surat, you would insist on papdi from Katargaam. You would spend half an hour checking out different stalls to pick the freshest one, then make sure you cover it with wet towel, so it does not dry up on its way home..and keep it covered. Then you would gather up the entire family, and the neighbors - men, women, old and young...and host a "papdi session", where the strings are carefully removed by people surrounding the huge pile...(small kids trying to sneak in their share in someone else's mini-pile)...and stories are shared by the old men and women about their times..All the while, making sure that papdi is not exposed to air too long....so it stays fresh, moist and tender...If you live in the US, you cut open a pack of frozen "surti papdi".

Next, you need vegetables - As fresh as you can get, and in the US, as small as you can get. This is no place for the monster vegetables. Potatoes - preferably white; Baby eggplants - remove stems; Sweet potatoes (try to get the ones with white flesh, instead of the orange ones); Ratalu (this is basically a root vegetable that has purple flesh - you get it frozen in the Indian store); Bananas - ripe (I know many recipes call for raw..but this is my mom's version..trust me); Green garlic (a cousin of spring onions - incredibly delicate - again, may use frozen)

Then, you need to make muthias - You might have made this before..recipe follows..resist the urge to add besan..And finally, you need stuffing. This is the most crucial element, because it will decide the final taste, obviously. Make sure you taste it before you start stuffing. It must be over-salted, since it has to carry the salt for the entire dish - but it has to taste good.

This Undhiu has very little oil. You will not see it. The emulsion technique makes it invisible. Which is why this is so much better than the oily-red-horrible "caterer" Undhiu. Oh, and the stuffing technique is very unique, so that you can taste the stuffing on the entire vegetable, rather than on just one end. Pay close attention.

Serving The final Undhiu is also an art, and only the person who cooked it is given that privilege (it's kind of like carving the Turkey). Always move your serving spoon from top to bottom, so that each person gets a little bit of everything (in the second helping they can ask for specific things they like..and only you know where they are). Moving your spoon around in the undhiu pot is sacrilege. Respect it.

I usually serve it with pooris and Shrikhand (and some Surti Jeeralu on the side). But you have my permission to change the sides as you like. Hey, I'm very flexible otherwise...

So, enough story telling.. here's the recipe. Feel free to change the proportion of vegetables based on your family's preferences. I know I have done everything to make it sound very intimidating. It's not. With a little bit of help from the freezer and a bunch of friends - you will have a lot of fun...And you'll see why my mom and I simply love making Undhiu...

Ingredients:

Papdi Marinade:
Fresh Green Chilli-Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Hing - 1 tsp (not just a pinch)
Oil - 1/4 cup
Water - 1 cup
Soda-bi-carb - 1 tsp

Vegetables:
Surti Papdi (one packet frozen or about half a kilo)
Potatoes - 6-7
Baby eggplants - 6-7
Sweet potatoes - 3-4
Ratalu - one packet frozen or a half kilo piece
Ripe Bananas - 3-4
Green Garlic - a few bunches or one packet frozen

Muthia:
Coarse Wheat Flour (Ladoo no lot) - 1 1/2 cup
Methi (preferably baby methi, if not, regular is fine) - 1/2 cup chopped
Chopped Cilantro - 1/4 cup
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Dhania - jeera powder - 1 tbsp
Hing - pinch
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2-3 tbsp
Water - enough to make a soft dough

Stuffing:
Fresh dessicated coconut (one frozen packet or about 1 1/2 fresh coconut)
Finely chopped Cilantro - 1 1/2 cups
Dhania-zeera powder - 1/4 cup
Hing - 11/2 tsp (yes, a lot of hing)
Chilli-ginger paste - 3-4 tbsp (also seems a lot, but you will need it)
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 4 tbsp
Salt to taste (remember to over salt the mixture)

Method:

Muthias:
Mix everything (according to taste) and make a soft dough. Take a small ball (smaller than a lime) and form a longish shape, then press with your fingers to make marks. This basically helps cook the muthias evenly from inside. (And this is where the name muthia comes from, since you have to form a fist to make them). Fry them till about half done and keep aside.

Undhiu

Mix the Papdi marinade ingredients in a big pot and swirl it, so that the oil and water makes an emulsion. Add the papdi and stir gently. Cover and keep aside so that the papdi marinates for about half an hour. Wash and peel vegetables. Keep vegetables like potatoes, etc covered under water, so they don't get dark. Mix all the stuffing ingredients. For stuffing, you need to make two slits - First, make a regular slit till about half way through the vegetable. Then, turn it around, and make another slit at a 90 degree angle. This gives you two cavities to fill, without breaking the vegetable, and the taste seeps into the entire vegetable. Stuff it well with the stuffing. Repeat this for the potatoes, eggplants, sweet potatoes. Chop the two end of the banana and cut in two. Make only one slit and stuff it. Start layering the vegetables. First start with sturdy ones like potatoes, then sweet potatoes, eggplant, then add big pieces of Ratalu and finally bananas (the order is very important since, some vetables are more delicate and some take longer to cook). Between each layer, sprinkle a little bit of the stuffing and some chopped baby garlic. Finally, add the semi-fried muthias and cover (do not add more water - Undhiu will cook in it's own juices). Cook on a low-medium flame for about 35-40 mins. Do not stir. Check by inserting a knife through one of the vegetables to check if they are done. Serve hot.

Muthia - Jaipur Mummy's Recipe

To me, these are like Laddoos, and the name Muthia sounded very strange the first time I had them. For a gujju, Muthias can be made of anything..but they're always savory. Sweet Muthias? The first time I tried them was before I started dating L. They are heavy, so you can only bring so many in your luggage. I must have been a special friend cause he shared some of these mom-made goodies with me.

Now, after all these years, I finally ventured to make them myself. And this is because my mom-in-law suggested sending them through someone. I hate asking people to carry stuff in their luggage, so I requested her for the recipe...I was very scared, cause this is one of her specialities...to try to replicate it was a big deal. I'm glad I came pretty darn close. The only thing I could not recreate was the special shape. I have to learn that from her next time. The measurements are completely vague.. but that's how she gave me the recipe..and that's how I made it...but L. loved it so much that he suggested sending some for his mom..(partly to reassure her that I can make them well and partly because the kid in him wanted to tell her "Take a break mummy..enjoy some muthias without all the effort, for a change"). Isn't this something so many of the guys would want to tell their moms? That's what these recipe transfers are all about I guess..I'm so glad I was able to assure my husband of the continuing tradition of winter muthias..

Take about a cup of ghee in a pan. Add a few table spoons of oil (The idea of oil was unthinkable for me, but she said this helps give finished muthias a sheen..the pure ghee ones look slightly dull). Fry some edible gum (I used about a quarter of a cup for about 2 cups of atta). Remove and set aside. Add enough regula atta to the hot ghee (the mixture should be wet..like you would do for sheera, etc). Roast on a low flame till it becomes deep golden (this might take about an hour). Keep a lot of patience and keep mixing. Towards the end, add a handful of khuskhus to it. At the very end, add sliced almonds, pistachios and raisins (she adds black raisins, I had golden on hand, so that's what I added). Immediately transfer to a big plate (use a big thali). Mix it with the slightly crushed Gond. Now add roughly equal amount by volume of sugar (yeah that's how you measure things). Add ilaichi powder (fresh only, please) and grated nutmeg. Mix everything well and make laddoos. Let cool.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Daal Baati Churma

I made this using Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe and it turned out really well. Here are the changes I made. The dal was exactly like the recipe, but for Baati, I used half Roti Ata and half coarse Laadoo ata. The step where you soak hot broken baati in melted ghee is very important and must not be skipped, otherwise you'll get hard baatis. For churma, I just ground up leftover batis, added sugar, cardamom, poured some hot ghee on top, and garnished with sliced almonds and pistachios. It was delicious (ghee + sugar)!!

Ingredients

Split green gram skinless (dhuli moong dal) 1/4 cup
Split black gram skinless (dhuli urad dal) 1 cup
Split Bengal gram (chana dal) 1/4 cup
Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon
Ginger, chopped 2 inch piece
Turmeric powder 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida a pinch
Whole dry red chillies, broken stemmed 2
Cloves 3
Green cardamoms 2
Cinnamon 1 inch stick
Bay leaves 2
Curry leaves 5-6
Tomatoes 2 medium
Green chillies, chopped 3
Salt to taste
Oil 4 tablespoons
Fresh coriander leaves, chopped 1/4 cup
Lemon 1 medium
Whole wheat flour (atta) 2 cups
Carom seeds (ajwain) 1 teaspoon
Baking powder 1/4 teaspoon
Pure ghee +for soaking and serving 1 cup

Method

Soak moong dal, urad dal and chana dal in about three cups of water for an hour. Boil the dals with turmeric and salt till done and mash them properly with the back of a round ladle.Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida, dry red chillies, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms, curry leaves, ginger, green chillies, tomatoes and red chilli powder. Sauté till the oil surfaces. Add the cooked dals to this and blend properly. Finish off with juice of lemon and chopped coriander leaves. Take atta in a bowl. Add salt, baking powder and half a cup of pure ghee. Mix well. Add sufficient water and knead into a stiff dough. Preheat oven to 180°C. Take lemon sized portions. Press firmly and roll into round balls. Grease a baking tray. Place the baatis on it. Press them slightly. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake at 180°C till done. It may take fifteen minutes to half an hour. When done, serve it hot with a bowl full of pure ghee to soak baatis and dal.

Monday, December 21, 2009

White Chocolate Cupcakes

I made this a while ago..but want to make sure that the recipe doesn't vanish away...Follow this recipe to the letter (especially the part about temperatures and 18 instead of 12 cupcakes)...use good quality chocolate and they turn out absolutely decadent!!

http://bakingbites.com/2008/02/white-chocolate-cupcakes-with-white-chocolate-cream-cheese-frosting/

White Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4-oz white chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tbsp milk (low fat is fine)

Preheat oven to 325F. Line muffin pans with 18 cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped white chocolate by heating it in 30 second intervals in the microwave. Stir well with a fork between each interval and cook only until the chocolate is smooth when stirred.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by melted white chocolate and vanilla extract. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding in some of the milk and some of the flour mixture, ending with a final addition of flour. Mix until just incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake at 325F for 20-23 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.
Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1-oz white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp milk or cream
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter and melted white chocolate. Beat in vanilla and milk, then add in the confectioners’ sugar gradually until the frosting reaches your desired consistency (make it a bit stiffer if you wish to pipe it onto the cupcakes instead of spreading it with a knife).
Spread frosting onto cupcakes with a knife, or transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cosi Salad

I had this salad at Cosi..and fell in love. I tried to recreate it at home and came pretty close.

dressing: dijon mustard, honey, salt, pepper, olive oil.
Mixed baby greens (or butter lettuce), blue cheese, pistachios, dried cranberries.

Yumm...

Pasta Salad & a romantic meal on the go

We were going to see a broadway show after work...so there was no time to grab dinner..Thankfully I planned in advance and we could pack a wonderful meal which we could eat on the train...It was really awsome..

For appetizer, I made little sandwiches made from crackers, good white cheddar and guava paste. Perfect bites and convenient to eat on the go..

Pasta Salad:
Dressing: Dijon mustard + red wine vinegar + finely chopped garlic + dried oregano + dried thyme + red chilli flakes + salt + pepper + stream olive oil slowly and keep whisking.

To the dressing, add boiled pasta (I used farfalle), canned artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, pimento stuffed green olives, capers, fresh mozerella (I did goat cheese that day). Can also add fresh parsley. Toss everything together.

I packed it in two take out containers, along with forks and napkins. I also packed chocolate cookies. (Ina Garten's recipe follows)

A note about the cookies: I make a big batch of the batter, and make scoops on a cookie sheet, freeze them, remove and store in a zip-loc bag. Then bake 2 or 4 as needed. Perfect way to satisfy the chocolate craving without going crazy.

Ingredients


* 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
* 2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa
* 2 cups flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 1/2 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and 2 sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chopped white chocolate.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

A nice appetizer - Spinach Cheese Swirls

I made this for Thanksgiving. Recipe from Peppridge Farm. Was quite a crowd pleaser.

Ingredients
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese OR Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 green onion, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 package (about 10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
Directions
Heat the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk.

Stir the Muenster cheese, Parmesan cheese, onion and garlic powder in a medium bowl.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Brush the pastry sheet with the egg mixture. Top with the cheese mixture and spinach. Starting with a short side, roll up like a jelly roll. Cut into 20 (1/2-inch) slices. Place the slices, cut-side down, onto baking sheets. Brush the slices with the egg mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.

Tip: Make sure to remove as much liquid as you can from the spinach before adding it to the pastry. If it's too wet, it may make the pastry soggy

Thai Fried Rice

Really Yummy...Improvise as you go..and enjoy!!

Heat oil in a wok, add chopped garlic, Sliced onions, ginger-garlic paste, green onions, green peppers, red chilli paste (like you get in chinese restaurants), thai red curry paste, Soy Sauce, chopped veggies (red peppers, baby corn, mushrooms, sugar snap peas, carrots), chopped cilantro, greens of the green onion, juice of green lime and salt. Stir fry everything well, and add cooked rice. Mix well and serve with half fried egg (optional).

Missi Roti

Very Simple preparation..but a good change from the usual..goes well with north indian dishes...

Whole Wheat Flour + Besan (about 3:2 ratio). Add Salt, Haldi, Red Chilli powder, Dhania zeera powder, hing, Amchur, Kasuri Methi, Fresh shopped cilantro, Kalonji, Ajwain, oil and knead a soft dough with water. Make rotis like you would make regula fulkas (or Bajra roti).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Anniversary Lunch - Chilli Paneer

This one is from Vah re vah. Follow it to the letter - curry leaves and all. The only change I did was I added some baby corms to the leftover batter, fried them and added along with the paneer. Also added some mushrooms. It was really good..

Ingredients

Directions
pinch pinch ajinomoto
1 tsp chilli garlic sauce
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tbsp Corn flour
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
7 number curry leaves
1 number egg
1 tsp garlic chopped
1/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
4 number green chillies
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp maida
for fying oil
1/2 cup onion
1 lbs paneer
1 cup red bell pepper
as per taste salt
1 tsp soya sauce
as needed water
1 cup yellow bell pepper


Cut paneer into cubes.

Take a dish add salt,ginger garlic, water,egg and mix well and pour on the cubes mix well and add maida.

Take oil to fry add the mixed paneer into it and fry in very slow flame.

Take a pan add oil cumin,garlic,ginger garlic paste,chopped green chill,onion,coriander powder,little water,chill garlic sauce,ajinomato,red bell pepper,yellow ,chilli powder,soya sauce,curry leaves,salt,lime juice, if you want to add colour u can, now add paneer and mix well,

Finely finish it off with coriander leaves.

Anniversary cake - Tres Leches

Posted from epicurious Rave reviews..L was tired of the Chocolate cakes and fruit cakes..so wanted something new..I omitted the cinnamon, and cranberry compote. Did whipped cream instead of the Meringue.

Pastel de Tres Leches Epicurious | 2002

© Michael Lomonaco, 2002

Pastel de tres leches is a traditional Nicaraguan Celebration Cake usually reserved for the holiday season. In this recipe we preserve the traditional presentation, and add some typical American holiday flavors.

The cake is composed of four components: Sponge Cake, Rum Milk Syrup, Meringue, and Cranberry Compote.
Yield: Makes one 10x3-inch cake
ingredients
Sponge Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk

Rum Milk Syrup
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz.)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
1 can heavy cream (use empty can from condensed milk - 1 1/4 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark spiced rum (Meyers or Captain Morgan will do), optional

Meringue
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Cranberry Compote
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup walnut halves (or pieces)
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup water
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon cornstarch (diluted in just enough cold water to make a slurry)
preparation
For Sponge Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour cake pan, and line with parchment paper. Sift flour with baking powder and cinnamon. Using a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until frothy, then slowly add sugar to tighten whites to semi stiff peaks. Add yolks one at a time. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk.

Pour batter into pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until the middle springs back when touched and edges pull slightly away from pan. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

For Rum Milk Syrup:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Whip thoroughly with a wire whisk and reserve. (If made in advance, refrigerate and stir before using.)

For Meringue:

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water, and bring to boil. When water begins to boil, begin whipping egg whites using a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.

When sugar reaches the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer, keep the egg whites mixing on slow speed, and steadily pour sugar into the side of the bowl (keeping it away from the whisk). Increase the speed to high, and whip until cool (5 minutes or less). Meringue should be smooth and shiny. Reserve.

For Cranberry Compote:

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except cornstarch. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the fruits are tender.

While stirring rapidly, add the cornstarch slurry, and allow the mixture to boil rapidly for one minute. Remove from heat, and remove the spices. Cool thoroughly and reserve.

To Assemble:

Unmold cake while slightly warm, and slice off the hard top with a serrated knife. Place cake on serving platter and spoon rum syrup over cake a little at a time, until it is all absorbed, repeat until all the syrup is used. Ice the top of the cake with the meringue. Refrigerate until cool. Top with the compote or slice and serve it alongside the cake.