Feb 22, 2011

New Name. New Look. Same Old Me.

Its here. The new site. Love and Lentil. 

And the new look too. This has been a long time coming and its finally here. 

I love the name "Mriganayani". I know some of you do too and thank you for that. But admit to myself and to you all, its a pretty hard name/word to pronounce. I've had to actually text or email it to people! I know 2 people who will be very happy with my name change - my mom and my sister. LOL! They are the line leaders of the 'cannot pronounce' queue!

So, I'm a little sad that my name and I are parting ways - but not so soon. You'll still see the name on the title for a while until I transition completely. 

You will now be able to comment easily and also share posts easily. I'm still working on adding some pages to the site with easy access to favorites. 

The one thing that many have requested me over the course of last 2 years is for a Printable recipe. I'm working on that too - will try to bring it to you soon.

Do provide your feedback on the name and the new look. This is what you should be seeing. But, in older versions of IE, the fonts are just plain old blah. So, if you don't see the screen this way, do me a favor and please upgrade your browser. I'll owe you a can of Strawberry Jam if you do that for me! 

Also do let me know if you'd like to see any particular feature on the site. I just might do it soon.

And for all those super nice people who have subscribed already, please update the new URL.

Love you all lots! 

Feb 18, 2011

Under Renovation

I'm up, awake and loaded on coffee. Which means, there's going to be a lot of changes happening here.

Hang in there while I tinker around.

Just love,

Feb 17, 2011

Baingan Bartha - Eggplant Curry

Once upon a few months ago, I went to Las Vegas. For a whole weekend. Stayed at the Venetian. Played all I want. Had a few margaritas. Saw a show. Wait..I'm coming to a point..soon. 

So, I was saying..yeah..went to a couple of big Vegas style buffets too. But as soon as we drove into Vegas it was lunch time and we just wanted to eat something quick. So, went to the Indian restaurant, the one I always go to - Tamba. I like it because the food is decent and its never too crowded -a  place to eat fast and get on your way to attack the slots. They really have to change their location and move out of the ghost town - I haven't seen any other place open inside that complex and its a little eerie in there. Feels like you're in Iowa and not Vegas. I still have a point. Just be patient. 

Anyways, the last time I was there - I had baingan bartha. And the thing I loved about it besides the bartha itself was that they had big pieces of the small baingan (you still here??) floating around. I can't remember anything else I ate that day - but remember this clearly. Just like some people in your life that you remember always even though you met them maybe for a few mins while crossing the signal or while grocery shopping or while you are trying to get that last beautiful pair of shoes you've always wanted and this lady just comes and snatches it away from there ...just saying you know...like that.

So I set out on my own culinary adventure all the way to the heart of my kitchen to re create that baingan bartha. 

Start off with the big whole Japanese eggplants. Just one of this will serve 2-3.

Wash the eggplant and towel dry it. Then, put a skewer through the eggplant. Apply regular vegetable oil all over the outside of the eggplant.

Directly heat the eggplant on top of a gas flame. This is tough to do on top of a electric cooktop - you can always cover the eggplant with foil, place on a griller and try it. Or if you want to use an oven, cover the oiled eggplant in foil, place on a baking dish and bake for about 15-20 mins or until the skin gets soft and starts peeling. The direct flame version is the best however because it provides a smoky flavor to the eggplant itself which translates into a delectable flavor when eaten.

Using the skewer, keep rotating the eggplant so all sides get cooked. You will have a little drippy mess - but hey, why do they make cleaners? Use them and clean up yourself later. You do the mess. You do the rest. At least that's what I tell TH when he cooks!

See how the skin shriks? The skin should come off easily when you try to peel. You are done then. Switch off the flame and let the eggplant cool a little.

Here's the real flavor. Garlic (lots of it), Ginger and Green chiili - my ggg. Chop roughly and make into a coarse paste.

Like this.

Chop about 2 medium onions into small bits. Use lots of onions for bartha - it tastes really good. The more the better.

In a wide pan, add about 1 tbsp of cooking oil. Add 1 tsp of cumin seeds and let splutter.

Add the GGG paste and fry for a min. Then, add the chopped onions and saute for a couple of mins till the onions are done.

Now add about 2-3 medium sized tomatoes also chopped into small bits. Mix well and let this cook together for a few mins.

While that is cooking, completely peel and using the back of a fork, mash up the inside of the eggplant. I know this is not a pretty picture. But, not everything that looks good outside looks good inside too. Life lesson. But, its up to you to use this and make this taste as good as you want it to! Also life lesson.

Add the mashed eggplant to the onion tomato mix. Spice up time. Add all these below -

Salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Fresh Coriander powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Fresh Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Elaichi powder - 1 pinch

The juice from the tomatoes and the water content of the eggplant provides enough liquid consistency to the  bartha. But in case if its too dry, you can add some water to give some body to the curry.

Close the pan with a lid and let this cook on low heat for about 10 -15 mins.

While that is going on, chop up long bits of about 4-5 small little eggplants (brinjals). In another pan, add about 1 tsp oil and cook these on a low flame. Sprinkle a little salt to taste. Make sure they are spread out on the pan and not on top of each other. Brown them up good or even take them to a good crisp.

The bartha's almost done now. Smells so good in here!

Now add the crisped eggplant pieces in here and switch off the stove.

Throw in a bunch of fresh and finely chopped cilantro in here.

Mix well and you're done. You can add lemon juice on top while serving if you like that flavor. I don't so I did not add.

Serve with hot hot phulkas or rotis or even parathas.

Enjoy the delicious meal and give yourself a pat on your back.

I just want to go back to Vegas now. Need a vacation.

Enjoy. Peace out.

Feb 14, 2011

Red Velvet Cake and Cupcakes

Happy Valentines Day to all of you out there. Thanks for all the love. And sending it all back right to you.

So until last evening I had absolutely no plans of making anything. After a whole weekend of re organizing the house (i.e my closets and pantry). I finally sat down to watch the Grammy's and suddenly remembered that Valentines day was today. And I kind of just mentioned - maybe I should do something for the blog. (I know.. forget actual people!) My daughter got all excited that I was going to make cupcakes. TH told me - just relax no big deal, you don't have to bake anything. To this, the little one got all worked up, fisted up and declared - In this house, we  always bake. We bake for everything and Valentines Day should not be missed. True. 

So I got up and looked for a recipe for Red Velvet cupcakes and came across this and absolutely loved the post. And my daughter even more because it had her fav X and O's. So, this was it. Thank you Picky Cook for an excellent recipe! Loved every bit of the end result. Even though mine is not as pretty as yours - it tasted just perfect. The way I want a red velvet cake to taste. 

I used the same measurements in the recipe for the cupcakes. But only made about 12 cupcakes. I poured the remaining batter in a heart shaped pan and made a little festive heart cake. 

On the icing though, I halved the recipe provided. Since I had only half of the cupcakes anyways. And also, my icing was a little on the soft side and not really stiff - so it was a little painful to actually pipe the icing. But since it was not going to get perfect anyway, I just handed over the icing bag to my little one and she had a ball piping the X's and O's and one little heart - she also tried to write LOVE on one - but the cupcake just was small for that!

 Here's the recipe from Picky Cooks -

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour - sift it before you measure it.
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Sift the flour and then measure out 2 1/2 cups. Then, add the baking powder and the salt and sift one more time and set aside. 

Beat together the butter and sugar till creamy.

Add the eggs one at at time and keep beating at medium speed till mixed well.
Also, add the vanilla essence and beat together well.

In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and the red food coloring and stir well to make a smooth paste without lumps. Also, another thing - the recipe calls for 2 bottles of 1oz red food color. I used 1 bottle and also added some red food color concentrate. But if you want the real bright red like the original recipe, go ahead and use the 2 bottles. Side note - I'm still trying to get the redness off my tongue from last night!

Add the red paste to the batter.

Does that not look gorgeous already!

Add the sifted flour and buttermilk alternately starting and ending with the flour. Keep scraping off the sides to mix in all the flour.

Now I just wish I could eat it right now. So pretty!

We're almost done. Just need a little bit more oomph. Enter Vinegar and baking soda. Mix them together in a small bowl and love the little bubbles popping up.

Mix the bubbling soda vinegar mix with the batter. Mix well.

Pour halfway into little cupcake liners.

Bake in a pre heated oven at 350 F for about 18-20 mins. Until they are just perfect. No pressure.

For the cream cheese icing, here's the recipe again from Picky cook's site -

16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt

I made just half of the above quantity. So it was 1 block of cream cheese, half a stick of butter and 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar. 

Decorate them any way you want. My little one of course wanted the X's and O's exactly like she saw on Picky Cook's site - and so yes, we made that too!

And a little shaky heart!

How can I not show you how bright and red it was inside?

This was the cake with the remaining batter after the 12 cupcakes. Looks wonderful, doesn't it? Instead of just cutting the cake, use a cookie cutter and cut little heart shapes and you can decorate them individually too. Which is what I did and shared with my neighbor.

Oprah might like this. 

With love and kisses of course!

Wrap up your heart and hand it over to someone..pronto. Happy Valentines Day!

Enjoy. Peace Out!

Feb 11, 2011

Corn Ball Pick Me Ups

I saw. I want. I made.

That's pretty much the story behind this little find here. It was one of those day when we wrapped up dinner and sat down to watch my fav channel - Food TV and my little one's fav show - Good eats by Alton Brown. He as usual had a hilarious episode while trying to use up left over corn tortillas. He called these Masa Tots.

And then he made these. And my heart stopped. Well..not really. But I just had to eat these. And it was perfect timing as superbowl sunday was just coming up and this was THE dish for me to make.

These are super easy to make. While Alton used his left over tortillas, I went and bought a pack of yellow corn tortillas from the store. Who's got time to wait for leftovers?

Tear them up or if you are OCD like me, you can cut them into long bits.

Add the cut bits to a food processor with a chop blade and just chop fine.


Get it to almost this stage.

Then, keep processing and add about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of just plain cold milk to bring it all together into a big mass. Don't add too much milk and make it watery. No good. Add enough - maybe in drops so that the corn mix comes together and starts forming a ball.

Alton added an egg here - but I just skipped that. These remind me of corn pakodas and we desis never use eggs for our pakodas. So this should work fine without that too. Right? You bet.

Can you see how find this has been ground up because of the milk? Now, add salt to taste for the corn mix.

Then add about 1 tsp of paprika powder or red chilli powder to the mix.

Throw in some finely grated carrots and about 1/2 onion finely chopped to the mix.

Here comes the kicker. Add about 2 jalapenos roughly chopped. Alton of course wore gloves while doing this. But we are hard wired to take this heat on our hands. Ah..nothing. Sissy matter. 

Mix all the ingredients well and make small balls. The pic you see below is actually before I added the jalapenos. I made a few of these for the kids first before I added the spicy stuff in.

 Fry the corn tots in hot oil until golden brown.

These were super soft to eat inside. I had a feeling while watching the show that it might be a hard one to bite - but was totally wrong. Loved these little balls. And they were awesome when eaten right out of the oil. Aaah..perfect!

I used up all the tortilla. There were 30 small ones and this gave me about 55 corn balls. Perfect to share. And I was good and I did share. Took it to my friends house to watch the big game together.

You could enjoy them just as is.

Or make them prettier and attractive. Poke a little toothpick and serve. The kids and the grown up kids both get a little lollipop.

Thank you Alton. You know we all love you here at our home!

Enjoy. Peace out!