May 29, 2009

Vegetable Medley - Mexican style!

It's friday evening - the one day that I so don't feel like cooking. It was a little cloudy and rainy here today. That made my husband call me 3 times from work with suggestions as to what fried food we can make today. There is something so comforting about eating pakodas when its raining. But, I was totally in a different mood today - I wanted mixed vegetables - very light - very summery, springy - whatever you want to call it. I actually wanted a nice cold salad! That's new! never happens! but it did today.

Long back I had seen this recipe for spinach and mushroom taco packets. I thought that would be a good thing to try. I can make the fried version for my husband and I can just eat the veggies like a salad!
So, here it is - we all actually loved the end result. It was very tasty - even though there were hardly any spices in there. It was just the taste of all the vegetables.
Veggies I used -
Fresh Mushrooms - about 10-12 pieces chopped up into small pieces
Red Onions - chopped up into small bits
Tomatos - deseeded and chopped into small bits
Red Bell Pepper - deseeded and chopped into small bits
Fresh Spinach - chopped up into halves
Fresh or Frozen corn - I used frozen corn but if you have fresh, use that - its better.
Crumbled Paneer - 1 cup; you can use crumble cheese if you have it. I made low-fat paneer and wanted to use that.
When all your veggies are cut and ready to go, add them one by one to a pan and saute for just about a min. Fry the onions first, bell pepper next, and then follow with the others with tomatoes being the last. Take care to not saute them for more than 30secs - 1 min. That's all you need. You should still be able to bit into them without having them all mushed up. Add salt and pepper to each of the veggies when you saute them. Use a salt sprinkler so that you don't add too much.
Fry the paneer too for a min with salt and pepper- the paneer will also absorb all the juices and flavors remaining in the pan after frying all the veggies.
Here are my veggies - before and after.
When all the veggies are done, switch off the pan. When the pan is a little cooled down, put all the veggies back in there and toss them up. Add the crumbled up paneer onto it.
Your veggies are ready.
I served this in three ways. Fried stuff for my husband, plain burrito for my daughter and just as a salad for me!
For the fried tortilla pockets, fold a readymade tortilla like a pocket, seal the edges with a little maida paste and deep fry it. Once this is done, fill up the pocket with the veggies. Serve hot.
For the burritto, just add the veggies and roll and wrap it up a tortilla.
You can also make a bed of tortilla chips and add the veggies on top. Kind of a veggie nachos!
Or you could make wonderul veggie quesadillas! Or tacos..
I added a few drops of taco sauce on top of all the above just for to kick it up a notch. That kind of compelted it! It made me think of the saying on top of the hot sauce packets in taco bell - "you complete me"!
A good dinner is one that satisfies three different tastes at once. And I acheived it today! I'm feeling victorius having overcome my friday blues.
Until next friday....

Homemade Paneer

Heat up about half a gallon of milk.

When the milk starts boiling and rising up , just switch off the stove.

Squeeze a lime right on top of the boiled milk immediately after switching off the stove. You can either use juice of a lime or you can use vinegar. Keep adding little by little until you see the water separating out from the whey. Stop adding more lime juice or vinegar.

You will need either a cheesecloth or a muslin cloth to hang the paneer. But as you can see, I don't have either of those. Every time my mom visits me here, she brings her thin towels to dry up her hair after a shower. I used one of her new ones and cut into into small pieces! Oops. Just don't tell her! These work perfect. They are cotton and hence all the water just flows down through the fabric.

Once the water is almost out, wrap the towel around the paneer tightly and let it just sit. I was making this to make crumbled paneer. If you want to make really firm paneer, add some weight on top of the towel.

After a couple of hours, your homemade fresh paneer is ready to use!

I used 1% fat milk to make this paneer. This is so much more healthier than the full fat paneer available in stores. It takes about 10 mins to prepare and is much more healthier.

I do have to confess that I have had many many trials and tribulations and wasted milk trying to make paneer. I've made paneer that when thrown can break walls apart! I've made panner that was like some paste. So, after many attempts, I saw a video online and learnt how to make it. The key is to switch off the stove when the milk is boiling and then add the vinegar or lime. That just works fine.

So, if making paneer intimidates you, don't worry anymore. Just try it again and again till you get it - one taste of the fresh homemade paneer - you will never go back to buying the preservative-laden store stuff.

Good luck and Happy Paneering!

Moong Daal with Beans - South Indian style

This recipe is kind of a mix between regular tadka daal and kootu. The spices are south indian flavored. The daal itself is a simple moong tadka daal.

Cut long green beans into small pieces.

Wash and add a cup of moong daal to the cut beans pieces.

Pressure cook both together with a pinch of tumeric for about 2-3 whistles.

Dry fry all these spices in a pan without oil. When they are nicely roasted, grind them to a fine paste.

When the beans and daal mixture is ready, move it to a pan and add the ground spices to it and mix it up well. Cook for about 5-10 mins.

Serve hot with chappathis or rice.

May 27, 2009

Fried Rice and Gobi Manchurian

I'm back from vacation. We had gone to Yosemite national park with a lot of our friends. We had a great time. Now, I'm back to boring reality.

My vegetable compartment in my fridge was almost empty. The only veggies left in my fridge were one cauliflower, a couple of carrots, a few beans and quarter of a cabbage. I had one onion left. No tomatoes - no green chillies - nothing else.
So, I thought what is it that I can make with the things I have left out. And the wind blew the words manchurian...fried rice..into my ears! yeah ! So, I decided to do the same.

Here's the quick recipe for fried rice -

Cook 2 cups rice in 3-4 cups water.

Cut carrots, beans, cabbage and onions into long pieces.
Cut garlic into small pieces if you like it. Or you could use ginger garlic paste. Or skip the whole thing if you are not a garlic person.

Add a tsp of oil to the pan. Fry the garlic and onions. Add a pinch of salt to the onions. Now, add the other veggies. Add salt and pepper on top. Cook it for about 5 mins - Don't overcook it - the veggies should still be a little crunchy when done. Mix the rice at this point - add salt and pepper to taste. I add salt at every stage of cooking instead of all at once. I somehow get the feeling that this provides more flavor.
Fried Rice is done. This is a healthier version. I don't add a lot of oil. Its just 1 tsp that you add in the beginning. We will be compensating this healthiness by deep frying cauliflower for the manchurian! haha!

For Gobi Manchurian:
Cut cauliflower into big florets.

For the batter:

1 cup maida
1 cup corn flour (if you don't have corn flour, add besan instead - that works well too)
1/2 cup rice flour (for crispiness)
ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
red chilli powder

Mix up all the above ingredients. Add water to this mix and make into a thick paste. Not too thick. When you dip the cauliflower, it should not coat completely like bajjis. After you dip in the batter, you should still be able to see the cauliflower thru the paste. Now, deep fry these cauliflowers. Fry them till they are nice and crisp. Set aside.
For the coating-
Sesame seed oil - 1 tsp
soya sauce - 1 tbsp
vinegar - 2 tsp
brown sugar - 1tsp
tomato paste - about 1 tbsp
Chinese five spice - 1tsp

Mix up all the ingredients above and add water and make a paste of it.

Chop up onions and bell pepper into small pieces. Add a tsp of the sesame oil, fry the onions and bell pepper. When they are done, add the paste above. Let it cook completely until most of the water evaporates and you have a thick paste.

Just before you are ready to serve, heat up the paste again and add the fried cauliflower pieces to it. Garnish with chopped spring onions. You are done!

Enjoy your meal!