Aug 23, 2011

Dum Aloo

Potatoes are one of the most universally liked comforting food that nature has provided the human race. There is some kind of a potato intensive recipe in every part of the world - the Europeans love their fish & chips, the Italians love their Gnocchi, the Indians love their samosas and of course the Americans love their mashed potatoes and as a special mention, where ever there is a Mc Donalds in this world, all the people going there love their french fries! If mama potatoes are this famous, baby potatoes are not far off. At least us Indians know the true value of a tender moist cooked baby potato simmered in a tomaty yogurty gravy - let's just take a moment and thank who ever discovered this little delicacy called Dum Aloo. May God Bless you and may you always find potatoes where ever you are.

It used to be a struggle a few years back finding little baby potatoes in our local indian stores here - the kind perfect for Dum Aloo. Thanks to the new frozen food culture, a pack of baby potatoes are just at a cold shelf door distance. I wish they were a little more tinier but hey, at least we have the easy option now.

If you're using the frozen pack, just wash them once well and pat dry with a paper towel.

Some suggest to prick a few holes in the potatoes to they cook well inside. But really, this is so painful to with tiny potatoes. I have to confess I started doing it and then gave up mid way. And I don't think it made a difference. So, if you really want to hire your kid and give them the job - let them earn their dinner. But make sure they don't break them apart poking all the way.

Move the dry potatoes to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle some salt over the potatoes and let this sit for about 10 -15 mins.

Dry roast all these following ingredients -

Cumin Seeds - 1 tbsp
Coriander Seeds  - 1-2 tbsp
Black pepper - a few

When cooled down, grind to a coarse powder and set aside.

In a wide pan, add a couple of tsp of oil and when hot, add all these below -

Fresh Ginger - 1 inch piece chopped into bits
Fresh Garlic - a couple of pieces chopped roughly
Green Chillies - 2-3 or more if you like it spicy
Onions - about 1 cup chopped into bits

Fry all the above until the onions are cooked and are translucent. Move to a blender and blend into a smooth paste.

Next, chop up about 3-4 tomatoes and fry in a tsp of oil and cook well until they are soft and don't have the raw smell of tomatoes anymore. Move to a blender and blend into a smooth paste and set aside.

And here comes the sinful part. Deep Frying. Of the Potatoes. Paula Deen just smiled.

And yes, a few are missing already. Blame it on whoever stands to your left. That way its not you.

In a small mixing bowl, take 1 cup of yogurt. Add all of these below -

Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
The fresh ground coriander -cumin seed powder above - half the quantity
Salt - 1 tsp to taste

Whisk everything together well.

Chop half an onion into really small bits.

In a clean pan (just rinse the one you used for the onions and tomatoes), add 2 tbsp of butter or ghee. Come on, let's just make Paula Deen really happy here. Add a couple of bay leaves and then add the finely chopped onions. Saute for a min until the onions turn translucent.

Now, add the onion paste that we prepared above. Fry for a few mins until most of the water evaporates.

While its cooking, add the remaining of the fresh ground coriander-cumin seed masala to the onion paste. Mix well and cook together.

Then, add the fresh made tomato paste and stir together well making sure they onion and tomatoes mix into a smooth paste.

Add a little bit more of the turmeric and red chilli powder. Let this cook for about 5-8 mins until boiling.

Now, reduce the heat and add the yogurt mixture. Let this cook on simmer for another 5-8 mins.

Add the delicious deep fried baby potatoes to the gravy. At least, whatever is left of it. Mix well and cook together for a couple of mins.

Finally, for a kick, add a pinch of cardamom powder. This really adds a subtle flavor to the already wonderful dish.

Finally, add some crushed kasoori methi to the potatoes for more added flavor.

And you're done. Can you see how the gravy thickens wonderfully and can you also see how every step I go, the potato count goes down - still blame the person on your left.

Serve hot with rotis or parathas. Or even with some hot jeera rice and daal. And thank nature one more time for potatoes.

Enjoy. Peace Out!

Aug 7, 2011

Strawberry Banana Muffins - Eggless

I wonder - why did not Little Miss Muffet sit on a tuffet and eat Muffins? Why did she have to eat her curds and whey? 

Just the smell of a warm muffin out of the oven is so comforting. Its like cupcakes for the grown ups. Just a wholesome warm little cup muffin. And if it has ingredients like strawberry and bananas in it, that's just added appeal. 

Baking again this time for A Sweet Punch series, here's us presenting a Strawberry Banana Muffin with a recipe from the Joy of Baking site. I changed the recipe a little bit to make an egg less version to satisfy the entire family. But the timing was perfect - we had a impromptu planned picnic potluck at the park this evening and these muffins found a few friends to please.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with liners or use a no stick spray on the pan. This actually yielded about 18 muffins for me - since they were a smaller size muffin. So, keep a few extra liners ready.

Take about 21/4 cups of All purpose flour. For a healthier and grainier texture, you can add 2 cups of flour and 1/4 cups of rolled oats if you'd like.
Add 3/4 cups of brown sugar. I accidentally added 1/2 cup of white sugar first and then remembered the recipe called for brown sugar - so I added another 1/2 cup of brown sugar - and so I had a total of about 1 cup sugar.
Add the 1/4 tsp of salt and instead of the cinnamon, I added a pinch of cardamom powder on to the dry mix.
Finally add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp baking soda.
Mix everything well together and set aside.

Now, to make the wet mix, mash up a couple of ripe bananas and add to a mixing bowl.
Melt 1 stick of butter and when the butter is in room temperature, add it to the bananas

Add a few drops of Pure Vanilla extract.

Now instead of the eggs, here's where we'll add a good substitute to provide the moistness required - Applesauce.

Add the one cup of applesauce and mix well with the other wet ingredients.

Chop up a few strawberries into small pieces - about 1 cup of chopped strawberries. Thankfully, we might still get fresh strawberries for a few more weeks.

Mix the chopped strawberries with a spoon of flour and set aside. This flour helps the strawberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.

 Next comes getting the batter ready. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry flour mix.

Add the strawberries on top.

Gently using a spatula, fold in the wet mix and dry mix. Don't beat too hard - just mix until well combined.

I felt the batter was too thick and did not want dry muffins, and hence added about 1/4 cup of warm milk to the batter and gently mixed that in. And I was thankful I did this - the muffins were perfectly moist and you could not tell that they were egg less.

Scoop up the batter into the lined muffin pan. Give it a tap or two on the counter to release a few big air bubbles. And send it on its way to its sauna bath in the oven.

My muffins on the top are done - and I still had batter for more muffins - so sent another batch in for its hot bath.

And just how happy one is when their muffins come out so perfect from the oven!! I wish you can see what a huge smile I have on my face.

What are you waiting for - bake up some eggless muffins - I won't say its easy as pie - it actually is easier than pie.

You can pick this one if you want.

Or this one.

I want them all.

Enjoy. Peace out!

Aug 3, 2011

Buckwheat Ice Cream

When life gives you buckwheat, make ice cream out of it. Or something like that.

This post is a part of the Free Spirit Blogger series and the theme this month was selected by Lata Raja of Flavors and Tastes. She came up with this ingenious idea of having all us participants pick a number without knowing what ingredient was assigned to it and whatever we pick, we had to make a dessert with that ingredient. And mine turned out to be Buckwheat. Really of all ingredients, that is what I go pick! But, after I tasted what I made below, I’m glad I picked this. Thank you Lata!

The recipe is directly adapted from the Ice cream guru David Lebovitz recipe and this was recently also published in our local LA Times. I did not even have to look further. I made very small modifications to the recipe like using low fat milk instead of whole milk and using regular honey instead of buckwheat honey. If mine can taste good, I can only imagine how creamy the original recipe will taste. Anyways, my hips don’t miss the extra calories and my mouth and soul still remain satisfied. Mission accomplished.

Here’s the original recipe for Buckwheat Ice Cream from David Lebovitz.

So I picked up Buckwheat groats from my local Whole Foods store – you can either buy them pre-packaged or also in bulk and get just as much as you need.

Dry roast the buckwheat in a heavy saucepan in low-medium heat stirring continuously so as not to burn them. Roast until they turn a shade brown and you smell a nice aroma wafting around. Remove from the pan and set aside on a mixing bowl.

Take about 2 tbsp and set aside in a mortar or on a rolling board to crush later and use as a mix in to the ice cream.

In the same saucepan, heat about 2 ¾ cup of milk. The recipe calls for whole milk but I used 2% low fat milk. If you want a creamier ice cream, go with the whole milk.

Heat the milk in low-medium heat and when hot, pour the milk over the roasted buckwheat kernels in the mixing bowl.

Mix well and let this sit covered for an hour so all flavors get a chance to mingle and jingle together.

After an hour, strain out all the milk from the using a muslin cloth and squeeze out as much you can from the soaked kernels. Move the milk back to the saucepan.

Add ½ cup of sugar and stir well with the milk. Reheat the milk on low-medium heat until hot.


Meanwhile, in another small mixing bowl, take about 4 egg yolks after separating out the whites. Once the milk is hot, gently pour the milk on the egg yolks a little at a time while stirring continuously to form a custard. Add all the milk and whisk together well. Now move this whole mix back to the saucepan and heat again on simmer till the custard thickens a bit.

Before you heat the egg-milk mixture, make sure you keep this ready for the next step. In a mixing bowl, add 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 tbsp of honey. The recipe calls for buckwheat honey – but I just added regular honey for a more earthier flavor. Mix well and set this on a ice bath. I just used a bigger mixing bowl and filled the bottom with ice cubes and set this mixing bowl inside it. This will keep the cream chilled too and will also help temper the custard when added to the cream and honey.


Once the custard has thickened, switch off the flame and immediately move the custard from the saucepan to a strainer placed on top of the cream-honey mixture. Strain the custard into the cream and then fold everything together well using a spatula.

Add the crushed toasted kernels in here and mix well. And you’re done! Well, at least the cooking part if done. Now comes the hard part –waiting for this to freeze. This is where I wish we had a magic tv kitchen…where they cook up things one min and then the next min take out the same dish prebaked or pre frozen and go voila..oh well. I’ll just have to wait.

I refrigerated the ice cream for almost a day and then put it back in my ice cream maker -yes, I finally have one and have to thanks a dear friend for buying it as a gift for me - thank you my dear - you know who you are! Add the batter and mix it up for about 20 mins. This provides the perfect ice cream texture and creaminess required. Now I too can say Voila!

This ice cream was soft though similar to a soft serve. If you want a more firm ice cream, freeze this overnight. Here's my frozen block of icecream. I tried to take pictures with the soft serve but it really wasn't pretty for the blog! So, went ahead and froze it up again and cut into little blocks. Now this is pretty. These would be perfect for a party - just poke a toothpick in each piece and everyone has their own buckwheat kulfi pieces!  

The verdict was that the hubby ate 2 cups of this and told me it tasted real good - but then after I told him it had buckwheat in it, he was like.. yuck. He could not believe that he just ate buckwheat. So, if you have someone in your house who make weird faces at weird ingredients, just don't tell them its in there. They won't know - trust me! But I do have to say that this is a low sugar sweetness ice cream. I would have liked it more sweeter but that's just me!

Serve up with some fresh fruit on the side or add a dollop of chocolate syrup on top. Chocolate makes everything only better, right?!

Check out all the other FSB blogger posts here - these are some awesome ingredients cooked up in ways you would not ever imagine. No kidding. check it out now!

Now for some exciting personal news on my side. Some of you have noticed and asked me about why my posts are so few and far apart these last couple of months. Well, the ones who asked me know it now but for all you others - here's why. With a lot of blessings and a lot of joy, I'm expecting another baby soon!!!Well actually in November. Just shuffling between work, home, my daughter, summer time, my parents in law visitng us here and of course my pregnancy, I haven't had a lot of time cooking up fun stuff and photographing for the blog. I resolve to get better this month and hopefully will stay on track with publishing many posts. There's always hope, right? And if not, I know you'll still save some love for me, won't you? 

Enjoy. Peace Out!