Nov 29, 2009

Flu Food: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

The flu visited all of us at home last week!

I had absolutely no energy to cook and wished there was food on my table! This was our dinner - and this is rich flu food! It was so tasty and comforting - perfect for us at that time.

I've already blogged about tomato soup once. This is just another way to make it. This version adds a few more vegetables - so perfect to get that 5 servings of veggies in a day.

To begin with, chop 1 onion and saute until translucent. Then, add chopped carrots and chopped beetroot and cook for a few mins. The beets give a wonderful color to the soup at the end.

When the veggies are semi-done, add a can of stewed tomatoes. If you don't have the can of tomatoes, boil a few tomatoes in water, peel the skin off and then add here.

Let all of this now cook for some time. Add either veggie stock or water and cover and let it boil until completely done.


Cool the cooked liquid and then blend it into a smooth soup.


Pour the soup back into the pan and switch on the pan at low heat. Add salt to taste. Add freshly ground black pepper and let this cook on sim for about 5-10 mins.

Check out that perfect consistency.

While the soup is getting ready, let's get the grilled cheese sandwich ready.

For this, you could use any kind of bread you have. I used just plain white bread. You will need soft butter to apply on top of the bread. 

Apply butter completely on one side of the bread. This will be the top part of the sandwich.


Keep a slice of american cheese in between two slices. The buttered part will be the open part on top and not inside. This butter is what will give that beautiful golden color of the grilled cheese sandwich.


Put it buttered side down on a griddle and cook in low-medium heat. This will melt the cheese inside and at the same time will not burn the bread outside.


This is a grown up version of the grilled cheese sandwich. I used both american cheese and a little bit of mozzarella cheese. Top off with a few jalapeno slices.


Grill the same way as the other. This is a wonderful spicy take on the traditional sandwich.


This is the golden color I was talking about. This is when you should flip the sandwich to cook the other side.


Check out this baby!

Slice diagonally in two pieces.


There's the stack of ooey gooey goodness!


There's our warm comforting food. This is so warm and comforting that you have to try it to believe it! But you don't have to have the flu to try this. Please!


Someone at our house loved the soup as you can see!


Enjoy! Peace Out!

Nov 20, 2009

Carrot Kheer

This was a recipe I stumbled upon during the newly married days - and thought it was the coolest thing on earth! I used to make it very often then..and then obviously because I gobbled it up that many times - I got bored of it!

But of late, this has been on back of my mind - its been a long long time since I made this. And furthermore, now I need stuff to write about in my blog! LOL! So, here it is.

For all you people who need perfect measurements, this post is not going to give you that. I have no idea how much milk or sugar I used in here. Its all in the color and taste. I'll explain it as we go on.

I bought these baby carrots for my daughter - she had her 2 days of baby carrot with ranch dressing craze - all she spoke about was this - so I got her this big pack of carrots and a big bottle of dressing. She ate probably 2 carrots and told me that they were too fat and hard to bite. I steamed them a little bit - and the she told me that they were soft and not too crunchy. She gave up on these faster than the time I took to write this post! So, I was stuck at home with half a bag of baby carrots. ( I ate some if you are counting). And that thought of making carrot Kheer jumped from the back of my head to the front!

To begin with, boil or pressure cook the baby carrots.

Move the boiled carrots after they cool down a bit into a blender and give it a whirrrrrrrrrr. Nice and smooth. No bits and pieces.


I should have a whole section of blendtec recipes!


Move the blended carrot puree into a pan.


Switch on the stove at medium heat and keep stirring till the raw smell goes away.


Now, add milk to this puree. How much - I don't know. Add till you get a nice peach color - milky - yet with the color of carrots - not too white. Not too carroty. In between - that perfect happy place. Got it? Sure?

This perfect place - look at that baby!

Now, add sugar to this - add about a cup of sugar first. Let it cook for a few mins and then taste a spoonful. Need more sugar? Add 1/2 cup at a time and test. Sweet enough - stop there.

Let this come to one boil and then switch off the stove. You're done. Carrot Kheer is ready!


Almonds make a good garnish - again you can go crazy here with your nuts - but this is what I put in.

Chop almonds vertically - 1 almond into 2 long slices. Add all to a small pan. Roast in medium heat. Add a spoon of sugar to caramelize it slightly.


Does this not look good to eat by itself? That's what actually happened at our house!


Garnish the kheer with the almonds and you're done.



All I want is a beach now!

This one's for you!


Enjoy. Peace out!

Nov 17, 2009

Pad Thai and Veggie Fried Rice

If there is one international cuisine that my husband and I love equally, that's got to be Thai cuisine. We have our favorite Thai restaurants in each city! That's something you have to have figured out!

Everytime I think of making Thai food at home - I think about the one time I screwed it up big time - I had called our friends over for dinner - and told them I was making Thai. I got everyone excited about the food - I had made red curry. I had got the curry paste from the store - added my veggies and all that and added the paste to cook. It would have been really good if I had read the instructions at the back. The packet said to use 1 tbsp of curry paste - I had used the whole packet of it! Oooppsss...We all sat down to eat and each of us put a spoon of the rice and curry into our hungry mouths - the minute the curry touched the back of the tongues, I knew it was time to call the fire engines! It was hot..not just hot - but just can't eat hot. Talk about showing off your international cooking skills to your guests! I'm just glad that we are still friends!

So, every time I cook Thai food now, I do make sure that its not another night of fiasco! I'm extra careful if I'm adding store bought spices or pastes.

This last friday, I decided to skip the curries and stick to just rice and noodles. A carb over load friday night - and sleep until late Saturday morning - talk about good planning!

I do have to mention that this time I did not make the pad thai paste from scratch. I've done that a couple of times before but never seem to get that restaurant taste - I'm sure I was missing something. So, I got a pad thai paste from the store and used a little of that for the flavoring. If you are vegetarian, please keep in mind to look for a vegetarian pad thai paste - usually the regular ones contain fish sauce. The vegetarian version replaces the fish sauce with a mushroom based sauce which matches the flavor. You can find this in speciality asian markets. The regular american grocers all usually carry just the normal pad thai sauce version.

Let's get started with the fried rice. Here's my plate of veggies for the fried rice. Clockwise from left - onions, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, broccoli, bean sprouts and carrots.

In a wide pan, add about a tbsp of oil, fry the onions first for a min. Then, add the red and green bell peppers. Saute for a couple of mins. Then, add the carrots. Don't cook the veggies completely. They should still be crisp at the center.

Add the broccoli at the end and just saute for a min. Add salt to taste. I added about a tsp of red curry paste dissolved in water to the veggies. That provides a nice flavor and spice to the rice.

Add about 11/2 cups of cooked rice to the veggies and mix well gently. You could use a fork if you like. Try not to smudge the rice and try to keep it grainy.


When all the rice is mixed up well, add the sprouts at the end and switch off the stove.

Serve hot. Really hot.


Now, moving on to the Pad Thai. I used the same palette of veggies as the fried rice but added baby corn and Fried Tofu to the Pad Thai.

I could not find fresh baby corn at the store and instead got the canned one. The thing I don't like about the canned stuff is the damn preservative smell and taste. In order to get rid of this, wash the baby corn well - like about 4-5 times in water. Then cut them into thin long slices and again wash them gently for a few times. Then, in about a tsp of oil, fry them separately for a few mins. This removes all the preservative smell and taste from the baby corn.


Cook the pad thai flat noodles in a pan of boiling water. Boil the water - then switch off the stove and then add the noodles. Let it sit for about 5 mins and then rinse the noodles with cold water. This will cook it just enough.


I got the extra firm tofu. To fry the tofu, cut into long pieces. Squeeze out all the water from the tofu. Some people add a coating of  batter to fry these - but I just like them fried straight in a pan. I do not deep fry them, but do a shallow fry with about 2 tsp of oil. Let this just fry slowly until the sides are brown.


Saute the vegetables similar to the fried rice above. Add the roasted baby corn at the end.


Then, add the fried tofu and mix well.


Now, add the noodles. Then add the pad thai sauce and mix well with the noodles and veggies together.


Until you get this.Lick!

Add some crushed roasted peanuts and mix well. Or just leave them on the side.


There's our Pad Thai!


With the fried Rice. Long Live Thai Food!

Enjoy! Peace Out!

Nov 15, 2009


Hridya -my friend and a follower of this blog had requested a recipe for Bisibelabath. Hridya -  this one's for you.

This is traditionally a Karnataka dish and there are a different methods to make this. Some people primarily use a lot of country vegetables. Some use a lot of coconut and garam masala in here. I've just explained my method that I always make this in - and we do love it at home. 

Prep Work 1: I cook the rice and daal using a regular rice cooker. But the method is a little different. Soak both the daal and rice separately first for about an hour. The proportion is 1 cup of rice to 1 cup of Toor Daal.

In the rice cooker, first cook the daal with 3 cups of water for about 10 mins - this will soften the daal well but not cook it completely. Then, add the rice to this and add another 3 cups of water and cook them together till done.

Here's the rice and daal cooked together.


Prep Work2: Making the bisibelebath powder.

Take all of these things below -

2 tbsp Channa Daal
1 tbsp Urad Daal
2 tsp Jeera
1 tsp Whole Black Pepper
Cloves - 3 or 4
Cinnamon sticks - 1 small stick broken into 2
Bay Leaf - about 2-3
Red Chilli Dried - about 8-10
Fenugreek seeds - vendiyam - 1 tsp
Coriander Seeds - 1 tablespoon


In a pan, add about 1 tsp of ghee and roast all of the spices above.Make sure not to burn anything while roasting. You should look for a nice golden roast and a nice aroma. Remove from pan immediately.


Here's how they look after roasting.


Cool down and then grind to a very fine powder. Do not remove it from the mixie yet.


Add a little water and give it a couple of more whirrs in the mixie. This will ensure that there are no lumps in the powder or rather paste now. This mixes in smoothly when added to the rice later.


Prep Work 3: Cut and chop veggies. I'm making a big mistake here - I'm used a big red onion and chopped up that into small pieces - this is not authentic. The authentic version would be to use small pearl onions - I was all out and even though I really really wanted it - I was lazy to go to the store. I asked my husband first nicely..then not so nicely - he basically told me in words I can't type here - that he did not care what onions I used - he just wanted food to eat! So, avoid all the drama and make sure you have pearl onions before you start - that just adds a ton of flavor to the rice. Please - trust me on this one.

I then had green bell peppers and drum sticks (murungakkai).


Then - more veggies! Carrots, green beans, cauliflower, chayote squash (chow chow), peas and potatoes. You can add whatever veggies you have in your fridge. Eggplants go well in this - but the small indian ones - not the chinese eggplants.


In a pan, add about 1 tbsp of oil. Add mustard seeds and allow to splutter. Add Curry leaves and fry for a min. Add hing to the oil. Then, add the onions. Fry till translucent. Add the bell peppers and drumsticks. Fry for a couple of mins. Then add chopped tomatoes to this. Fry for a min.


Now, add all the other veggies. Add turmeric powder, salt and mix well.


Add about 2 cups of diluted tamarind juice to this. Cover and cook well till veggies are soft.


When the veggies are done, add the cooked rice to this and mix well with the veggies. Now, slowly add the ground paste and keep mixing well with the rice.


There - that's all mixed up - now, turn the stove to simmer and close this pan with a lid. Let this cook slowly. In fact, if you have a slow cooker at home - you should move this there and cook it for sometime.


After a few mins, open the lid to give the rice a stir. Add about 2 dollops of ghee to this - don't ask me how much that is - just 2 dollops! This is what brings out all the various flavors of the spices out. This is what makes bisibelebath famous - the ghee!


Serve hot with raitha and vadaam or chips.


As usual - can't stop with just one picture.


Enjoy. Peace Out!