Apr 22, 2009

Anika making Chappathi

I was going to make Aloo Paratha today. My daughter decided that she has had enough of all her toys and games and books - so she decided to help me. She gave me no other choice.

She is actually a good helper - passes me the onions, potatoes etc when I need it - she is like my little assistant. Or like my atthai says - payyalu.

So here she started out making the atta for the aloo paratha.

Once the atta was done, she and I both started rolling out the parathas. This was her favorite part. She did pretty good considering her experience - which is nothing. But, of course midway she started her discourse and ultimately told me that tomorrow she will teach me how to make pizza!! Yeah Right!

So here she is making the rotis.

And then she also showed me how to actually flatten the atta before rolling it out!

Apr 15, 2009

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

Roasted Bell Pepper Soup with Pesto Tortellini Pasta!

I love the roasted red bell pepper soup that I buy from Trader Joes. Its like a staple at our house. This time I wanted to try to make it from scratch. Yeah right - next time I'm sticking to just picking it up from Trader Joes!

Well..it was not bad. It was good - but a little cumbersome. Its got like a couple of hours of effort compared to a couple of minutes of heating up soup from a carton. But, hey this is homemade.

Pick a couple of red bell peppers and coat them with oil. Put them in the oven for about 30 - 40 mins until they are completely done. They should look all dead - I mean - all cooked!

Peel the outer cover and deseed the peppers.

Add some onions, tomatoes and chopped up carrot to a pan and saute them well. I added a couple of green chillies too - but that made the soup really spicy - I would skip that the next time. Add the roasted peppers to this mixture - add some veggie broth or water and let it all cook. I did pressure cook it for a couple of whistles.

When the mixture is cooled down - blend it smooth in a blender.

Serve hot with your favorite garnish - I added some mozzarella cheese pieces on top for my daughter. I sprinkle some dried basil and oregano on top of mine.

I served this with a bowl of my favorite pasta - Trader joe's cheese tortellini with home made pesto sauce and veggies.

Carrot Pineapple Salad with a twist

Here's a simple salad with an unique twist.

Shred carrots. Cut fresh pineapple into small pieces.

Mix them both in a bowl.

Add tadka of mustard seeds. Add salt to taste.

And now for the twist - add some idli molaga podi - gun powder as my friends call it!! Carrots and Pineapple both are high in sugars and hence taste sweet. A little idli molaga podi counter attacks the sweetness and give it a little kick with the chilli! You will have a salad that is not too sweet - but with a nice flavor.

If you like lemon, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top of the salad. I don't like a lemony taste and did not do it - but if you like it - go ahead.

Instant Vadai

I came across this recipe for Potukadalai vadai and wanted to try it.

This is one vadai that you can do in an instant. Suppose you want a quick snack, maybe some friends are dropping by - or maybe you want an easy appetizer for a party - this is the way to go. There is no need to soak dal for a few hours and grind it and all that. This is quick.

I really liked the ease of making it and the taste of the vadai as well. It has a really soft texture and a nice flavor.

It also has a short list of ingredients -

Pottu Kadalai (Dalia) (Roasted Split Peas) - 1 cup
Rice Flour - 1 tablespoon
2-3 dried Red Chilli
Finely Chopped Onion or Cabbage or both
Salt to taste
Optional - Curry Leaves, Cashews or Peanuts, Green Chilli, Ginger, black pepper- add stuff according to taste if you like that in vadais. I kept it simple. KISS.

Grind the pottu kadalai along with the red chillies in a mixie. Pour out the powder into a bowl. Add the tbsp of Rice flour to this. Add salt and the chopped onions or cabbage. Add water and make this into a thick paste. Make small balls out of this and fry them in hot oil. Keep the flame on medium or sim so that they cook throughly without just burning the outer part!

You're done - Enjoy these instant vadais. Isn't this really easy to make? But I bet you the flavor is so impressive- people will think you slogged your butt off to make this! Just tell them you certainly did!

Submitting this as an entry for WYF: Fried Snack Event Announcement. Thanks for hosting EC.

Apr 7, 2009

Mysore Pak

I'm all excited today.

My cousin Dharini and her family, my atthai and atthimber are all coming here for a small vacation from Seattle tomorrow.

Her son Vivek is into Gold and Gems and stone mining and they are planning a trip to Julian so he could get his hands dirty and try some of these things!
Anika loves Vivek and calls him Vivek Anna. She fights with her school friends that he is her own brother but just lives in Seattle with different parents!! Hahah!

Anyways...I thought I should make some snacks at home since its always fun to sit around in a group and snack away! Especially if its snacks like murukku, thattai and other things.

So, yesterday I made Thattai and Ribbon Pakoda and stacked them up in boxes. Maybe I can put these up as separate posts later. I just have pictures of the final result here!

I wanted to make some sweets - since Yadhu (my cousin's husband) is lactose intolerant, I wanted to make something that did not have a gallon of milk in it! So, I looked online for recipes that were sweets without milk - did you know that there are not that many..we indians always seem to add milk to our sweets! Huh!

And then I found Mysore Pak. I have never tried to do this before. I always look at the recipe and get intimidated with the amount of work that goes into it. And then i came upon this you tube video where this guy does it in an easy method. Thank you guy!

I decided that I can try and do that. Bold move- huh..I did ponder upon what would happen if it was a miserable flop...oh well..at least I tried!

So, I got started.

Here's the list of things you need -
Sugar - Powder it in a mixie - about 4-5 cups
Besan - a little less than 2 cups
Baking Soda- a pinch
Water - about 1/2 cup - I did end up adding 1 full cup of water and then realised that it was too much.
Patience - a ton of it.
Ghee - almost a ton! LOL! - actually I used about 2 - 2.5 cups of melted unsalted butter.

Here's a disclaimer before we get further - if you are a diabetic - or with heart problems - just skip this whole section - maybe read through it - but don't even try to think about eating this. There is a whole lot of sugar and butter here - not healthy. But maybe a small piece after a sensible meal - ..maybe. Then stop.

When i think back to how many of these I gobbled up from a box of SKS mysore pak - I can't believe myself. We don't realise how much sugar and ghee goes in there to make a few pieces of those - it sure is divine to eat. But you don't realise it until you actually make it!

Now, to the good part - making this -

Blend the sugar into a fine powder. Put all of it in a nice wide pan. Add the besan on top of the sugar, add the baking soda..mix it up well with your hands. Now, add the water little by little and then mix it up well. Since I did add more water, it was a little loose dough. Let this sit for about 5-10 mins.

Pour about 2 cups of ghee on top of this mixture - I just used melted butter - did not wait for it to become ghee...figured that would happen in the process of cooking. You will need to cover the entire surface with a nice layer of ghee. Now, switch on the gas in a low flame and start mixing.

Now - pull out that patience you have - and stand there and keep mixing it for a while. IF you leave this and walk away to check email or to take a shower - forget the mysore pak - and eat a piece of hersheys instead! This step needs patience and strong hands. Keep stirring the mixture. I saved a part of the ghee on the side and kept adding it in between when the mixture looked a little dry. So, don't pour all of the ghee you have before you start.

You can see the different textures of the mix along the way while stirring in the pictures below.

When the whole mix starts coming together and kind of becoming a ball, stop the flame and pour in into a greased pan.

Press it down with a flat spatula. When its hot, start making lines. I used the same spatula to cut across. The first time you cut, don't cut into it all the way down. Just cut little under the surface. Since the mixture is still very hot, if you cut into it all the way down - you might just disturb the way its trying to settle. So, go slow. Once you have done the vertical stripes, do the horizontal stripes - also just below the surface. Now, you kind of have added little airways for the mixture to cool internally. Now, go back and do the vertical stripes again - this time, go all the way to the bottom of the pan. Repeat with the horizontal stripes. You are done. Just leave the pan like that for about an hour or so to cool down completely.

Enjoy your easy mysore pak!

Submitting this as an entry to 'State Specials' Event hosted by Shanthi Krishnakumar's cookbook. Thanks Shanthi for hosting!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

Today is my mom's bday! Wishing her a wonderful bday! Wish i was there to celebrate with her!

You are the bestest mom in the world!!

Apr 3, 2009

Original Chaatwala!

This time when I had gone to India, I had visited Bombay. My inlaws and my paati and my chittappas live there.

I had landed there on the 30th of Dec. My chitappa here in this pic was having a new year's eve party and invited me to attend. It was a great party - not that I knew anybody other than my relatives. But the food was great as usual! And my daughter had lots of fun dancing to all tapori gana!

My chitappa picked me up and then on the way home, we stopped at this best vada-pav place and we each got a nice piping hot vada pav. It was a small vendor on the street but there were about 15 people surrounding his shop eating vada-pavs! I missed my husband at that moment because I knew vada-pav's were his favorite of all bombaiwala chaats!

We came home and we all got ready for the party. And then, the food arrived! I mean - arrived! it was a asli chaatwala dabba cart- two guys - one big cart - lots of food in there.

These two guys prepared authentic bhel puri, sev puri, aloo tikkis, pani puri, ragda patties ( is it 'patties' or 'patice'? I would think logically that it is 'patties' but I swear I have read it a 'pattice' in most of the eateries in India) and so many more things!
Somehow eating at good chaat restaurants in the US still does not have the same taste as this chaat that these guys make right in front of us. I wish we had these in all street corners in the US - if that ever happened, they would even have drive thru's for that!!

Asli chaat - Asli formula - Asli swaad!! Or like my husband says - "Woh hi asli khana hai jo public khaata hai!"

Thanks Chitappa for a wonderful chaat party!