Jul 31, 2009

My Monthly Menu is back!

Its been a few months since I posted my monthly menu. Some things don't happen for a reason and there were many reasons why my monthly menu did not happen for the last few months. But, its better that I don't go there lest all world know about my laziness!

So, people of the world - here it is - the great big unveiling of my monthly menu!!!

For new folks who are looking at my menu - there is only one meal listed each day as I cook only dinner. My in-laws are here and my mother in law cooks traditional rasam-sambar-rice for lunch everyday. So, I just cook the dinner. Even when she is not here, I just cook the dinner. Our breakfast is usually very simple - bread, cereals, oatmeal etc. Lunch is leftovers from previous night packed into pretty lunch boxes. And the weekends - my kitchen is closed most of the time - how else would I experience the great restaurant foods?

I've tried hard to keep a balanced menu this month - added at least 1 high fiber - high nutritious meal once a week. All fridays are either chaat or fun foods - just my way of welcoming the weekend. There is also one international cuisine each week - Japanese, Mexican, Italian and Chinese.

Wish me good luck and lots of will power to follow this menu everyday!

Click on the picture for a larger view!

Vangi Baath - Eggplant Biriyani

When I was growing up as a kid, eggplant was definitely not one of my favorites. Maybe because it was my sisters fav at that time - we used to fight over everything - She loved kathirikkai - I loved vendakkai. She was a fan of Rajni, I was a fan of Kamal. I liked everything opposite to her just because we were sisters!

Eventually, we grew up - now, I love both Kathirikkai and Rajinikanth! No one like thalaiva. I even taught my daughter to do the padayappa salute! And I love my sister too - we eat each other's brain everyday but that's what sisters are for.

Anyways...this is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant. So, here it goes -

Use fresh small purple kathirikkai's...

Chop them each into 4 pieces and soak in water.

Now, to make the fresh ground masala, you will need -

Coriander Seeds - about 1 tbsp
Peanuts - 1tbsp
Urad daal - 2 tsp
Channa Daal - 2 tsp
Jeera - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Red Chillies - 3-4
Coconut - shredded about 1/2 cup

Dry roast everything together in a pan till they are nice and roasted! Of Course! Once it cools down, make a coarse powder of this in a mixie.

Here comes the other stuff -

Green Chillies - 1-2 finely chopped
Ginger - about 1 inch piece - finely chopped
Garlic - 2-3 finely chopped
Curry Leaves - about 5-6 chopped in between once
Juice of half a lemon
1-2 onion - roughly chopped

Add about a tbsp of oil to a pan, add all of the ingredients above and fry till done.

Now, add the cut eggplants in here. Add salt, tumeric powder and red chilli powder to taste. Mix well.

Before you start all this, you will need about 3 cups of cooked rice. I use Basmati and cook it in the propotion of 2 cups rice to 3 cups water. That way the rice is just done and the grains don't stick together or become mushy. Move the cooked rice to a wide bowl and add some salt and squeeze the juice of half a lemon.

Now, the eggplant is probably a little done. At this point, add the fresh ground masala. Mix well. Add a little bit of oil if needed. Turn the flame to medium and let this just cook.

Its mixed well now. Still cooking....

While that is happening, on another small pan, roast some peanuts separately. We will use this to mix with the rice at the end. I love the cruchy bits of peanuts while eating the biriyani. You can also fry cashews if you like.

Now, its almost done here.

Move the cooked vegetable to the rice little at a time. Mix well.

Here's the last part and I'm dumping it in to mix it up!

There, that's all mixed in now. Add salt if needed.

You're done! You can make this in advance. Instead of just leaving it on the counter, cover it with a foil and put it in the oven at warming temperature (around 170 f) - this will keep it warm and will also help all the flavors to soak way into the 1 mm rice bits!! Hey..that's true!

Serve hot with raitha. This goes great with Onion raitha. But, today I made Carrot/Tomato Raitha and served the biriyani with that.

As soon as I served this way to my husband, he teased me that it was like Indian Railways food service! But, he did own up and say that the food tasted way better than that!

I'm going to make him cook his own biriyani next time!

Enjoy your biriyani and watch a Rajini movie!

My first Blog Award!

One of my reader friends EC from Simple Indian Food Blog passed me my first blog award.

Thank You EC for the wonderful support!

The Kreativ Blogger award comes with some rules:-
1. You must thank the person who has given you the award. Done!
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog. Done!
3. Link to the person who has nominated you for the award. Done!
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting. Done!
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers. Done!
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate. Done!
7. Leave a comment on which of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated. Done!

7 things about myself..

1. I'm a pretty cool personality - don't care much about things - always believe no matter what happens, it will be fine when you look back in 5 yrs (You can see this in my profile too)

2. I love to entertain - I would hate to cook the whole day, but in the evening if one of my friends calls me and says she's coming over, I can cook a five course meal with a lot of enthusiasm.

3. I live for Chocolate. I can give up anything in this world but chocolate. Terrible sweet tooth.

4. I stood for some post in my college election and lost miserably! Excuse - I was in the evening college in Ethiraj and we were the minority! No one really knew us. We came to college after most of the college left.

5. Someday I want to get a tattoo...maybe on one of my bday's as a gift to myself!

6. Big Music fan - my Ipod is glued on to my ears half the day - the other half the music plays on my player or my laptop!

7. Very sociable person - love my friends..I'm more close to my friends than my relatives or family. In other words, a big chatterbox!

Here are my 7 nominees in no particular order for the Kreativ Blogger Award!

Ammulu's Kitchen
4th Sense Samayal
Waves By Latha (Non food blog - but Creative!)
Married to a Desi

Shanthi Krishnakumar's Cookbook
The Yum Blog
Iyengar's Kitchen

There are so many more great blogs - Congrats everyone on working so hard!

Jul 28, 2009

My Tomato Plant - Update 1

Here's an update to my tomato plant. The original post is here.

My plant has indeed grown taller and more spread out than before. And the great news is that I'm seeing so many new baby tomatoes being born! Exciting!

They are all still green now. Makes me want to make Fried green tomato - remember the movies - its one of my husbands fav movies!

This is the biggest one so far. Waiting for it to become red so that I gobble it up! I almost feel sad for the tomato.

Here, we planted some pumpkin seeds and this plant is growing now at a rapid pace. You never know, I might be growing my own halloween pumpkins!

Mixed Fruit Juice

This was a quick juice I made for my daughter (and all of us ended drinking it though!).

She is what I call a 'Fruit Freak' - she's like a sanyas - can just live on fruits only. She eats all types of fruits from morning to night.

For this juice - I threw in the blender all of these fruits - Watermelon, Pineapple, Cherries (pitted), oranges, cantaloupe and about a cup of store bought mango juice. Actually it was the mango nectar available at Costco for the folks here. That is some awesome mango juice!

You can actually add any/all of the fruits you have at home. Throw in everything but the kitchen sink and give it a whirrrr.

There is no need to add any sugar or anything else to this. Just press the button and blend it well.

Love the color -

Pour in a glass and enjoy!

Aloo Gobhi - Simple Subji

Aloo Gobhi is a quite common dish. But, this version is made without any masala. My inlaws are here and they don't eat a lot of masala - like garam masala and stuff.

I was making this for dinner - and this was more of a vegetable to go with Rasam and rice.

Chop up some Onions, green chillies and tomato.

Chop up some potatoes into big bits and microwave for about 5 mins.

Chop up a cauliflower into big florets and again microwave for about 5 mins.

Add about a tsp of oil to a pan, add some jeera, green chillies and the chopped onions. Let is cook for a couple of mins. Then, add the chopped tomatoes.

Now, add salt, tumeric powder and red chilli powder. That's it - see I told you no masala version!

Mix up well and then add the semi cooked Aloo and Gobhi in here. Turn the flame to medium and let it cook. Add salt to taste.

You don't have to add extra oil for this to cook well. Also, don't overcook it too much and keep the cauliflowers crisp.

Add chopped cilantro on top to garnish. Enjoy it hot.
Here's a close up shot!


Jul 24, 2009

Paal Cake - Milk Burfi

Paal cake has been a childhood favorite of mine. This is kind of a comfort sweet that you find hidden in your mom's cupboard and you just pick a few everytime you pass by and pop them in your mouth. The aroma of just milk and sugar cooked for a couple of hrs ...this can melt away any kind of stress!

Right now, I'm stress free...because I just made this ...my kitchen and living room smell like back home...the smell of my childhood..the smell of those wonderful moments...

This is an easy recipe in terms of ingredients and method. But, you do need a lot of patience. And strong legs to stand for a while. I feel like my arm muscles just got a workout!

Here's the ensemble cast - I forgot to add sugar in the picture. But, that's another main ingredient for the paal cake.

Evaporated Milk - 3 cans
Sugar - 4 cups
Milk - about 2 cup
Rava - about 1 tbsp
Ghee - readymade or homemade from unsalted butter (see recipe here)
Cardamom powder
Saffron (optional)

If you are making ghee at home, make that before you start preparing for the paal cake.

In a pan, add 1 tbsp of ghee. When hot, add 1 tbsp of rava and fry well till the raw smell goes away.

Add the evaporated and regular milk to this. Make sure that the flame is in low or medium low. This is critical. Don't keep it in high as that will scorch the bottom of the pan and that's just not good for our recipe!

Keep stirring every few mins. Make sure that nothing sticks to the bottom. I uses a hard anodized pan - even if you use nonstick, keep stirring.

When the milk is a little bit boiled, go ahead and add the sugar and mix well. Keep stirring.

Just keep stirring...just keep stirring - reminds me of Dory's song in Nemo - "Just keep swimming..Just keep swimming"

More stirring. You can see that the dish is starting to come along..it's becoming thicker as it cooks.

As you keep stirring every few mins, you will notice that they start to leave the side. At this point, add about a cup of ghee to this. This will make sure that the consistency is good. And of course, makes is more tasty!

Add about 1/2 tsp of cardamom powder at this stage. You can also add saffron if you like.

Here - it's almost there!

Move all of the contents from the pan to a greased plate (use the same ghee for greasing a plate or a baking dish)

Since the paal cake is not even at this point, take a small katori and dip the bottom in ghee or oil. The use this bottom and pat the paal cake on the plate.

Like this.

Even out the top part.

Let it cool for about an hour.

When it's cool, use a greased knife and cut into squares.

All you have to do now is eat it..Enjoooooooooyyyyyy..

Submitting this recipe for 'State Specials' event hosted by Shanthi Krishnakumar's Cookbook. Thanks Shanthi for hosting!