Monthly Archives: June 2014

An Indian Pickle Party

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Talk about pickle to an American and the image that conjures up in their mind is that of a dill pickle or a pickled cucumber, basically some vegetable soaked in brine and vinegar..
To an Indian pickle conjures up images of spicy, red, oily, delicious concoctions and the taste buds usually begin to salivate at the mere thought of a pickle πŸ™‚ Usually, the South Indian pickles are spicier than their North Indian counterparts which are sweeter and tangy to taste. Pickle in South India is eaten as a side to rice and curds or mixed with rice and ghee. It is eaten as an accompaniment to rice or sometimes roti/chapati, hot bajjiyas or pakodis. In North India, pickle is eaten as a side to hot fluffy parantas and curd.. Anyway which way you eat it, you are just going to love the taste of Indian pickles πŸ™‚

Here below is my top favorite 4:

A Pickle Party

A Pickle Party

Avakaya (Mango Pickle) – The traditional Andhra Mango pickle made with mango, mustard and methi powder. Easy to make and very tasty if you have the right kind of mangoes. The Mango’s for these need to be super raw, green and hard. When you cut the mango for this pickle be sure to cut it with the seed, that just adds the flavor and texture to the pickle.

Spicy Avakaya

Spicy Avakaya

 

Chintakaya Thokku (Raw Tamarind grated pickle) – As the names suggests this is typically made with raw tamarind and green chillies. A very tasty pickle, it is very important that you have right kind of tamarind for this pickle. Super delicious with rice or as a spread on bread!

Chintakaya Thokku

Chintakaya Thokku

 

Gongura (Sorrel Leaves Pickle) – One of my favorite Andhra pickles. Made with sour sorrel leaves or gongura and red chillies, this pickle is super tangy, spicy and very flavorful when mixed with rice.

Gongura

Gongura

 

Mango Thokku (Raw Mango grated pickle) – Another one of my favorite mango pickles is this grated pickle variety. A tradition at our home (mom makes it really well!!), this pickle is made with grated mango, chilli powder and mustard/methi powder. Super easy to make when you have the right kind of sour raw mangoes. Also great with hot rice and a little ghee.

Mango Thokku

Mango Thokku

Hope you enjoyed my photo essay on pickles. Thanks for stopping by.

Adai (Rice and Lentil Crepes) with Coconut Chutney

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Adai – a very traditional South Indian breakfast dish is a classic twist to the Dosa. Adai is typically made with Rice and mixed dals. Traditionally, this South Indian breakfast item is made in Tamil Nadu and some parts of Kerala and Karnataka. But the deliciousness factor and the nutritional value places it in the top breakfast category..It is easy to make and does not require any fermenting time like the Dosa counterpart.
Typically Adai is served with “Avial” – which is a mixed vegetable and curd curry that deserves a post of its own πŸ™‚ Here I have served it with tasty coconut chutney.

Adai served with Coconut Chutney

Adai served with Coconut Chutney

You will need:

For the Adai Batter:
Rice – 1 cup (I use Sona Masoori or Long grain rice)
Toor Dal – 1/4 cup
Urad Dal – 1/4 cup
Channa Dal – 1/4 cup
Moong Dal – 1/4 cup
Dry Red chillies – 4

Wash the rice and dals. Soak all of the above in plenty of water overnight. Grind into a coarse batter with water. Add salt as needed.
The batter should look like this:

Adai Batter

Adai Batter

I prefer plain Adai. My family prefers Adai with chopped onions. You can add finely chopped onions, chopped curry leaves, grated or small pieces of coconut and grated ginger or grated carrot to your batter.

Adai batter with chopped onions and curry leaves

Adai batter with chopped onions and curry leaves

Method:
Once the batter is ready, you can make Adai on a griddle much like how you would make dosa. Pour a ladleful in the center of a pan and circle the batter and spread into a semi thick pancake/dosa. Drizzle oil and cook on both sides until crispy.

Coconut Chutney:

Coconut Chutney

Coconut Chutney

You will need:
Fresh or Frozen grated coconut – 1 cup
Chutney Dal/Roasted gram dal – 2 tbsp
3 green chillies
tamarind – 1 small piece
ginger – 1 small piece
garlic – 1 pod (optional)
hing (Asafortida) – 1 pinch
salt to taste
fresh cilantro – a few sprigs

Combine all of the above, add a little water and grind into a smooth paste. If you are using frozen coconut, make sure you use warm water while grinding. Seaosn with mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves

Adai with coconut chutney served…

Adai with coconut chutney

Adai with coconut chutney

Crispy Adai

Crispy Adai

 

 

 

Tomato Chutney

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This tomato chutney is a very popular one amongst all my friends. A small story to go with this – When I first landed here, all of 21 and newly married, I got invited to this Indian party. It was a party to celebrate one of our dear friend’s first anniversary and my first large party gathering here in the US. And as most Indian parties are, this was a potluck party where each guest was to make a dish for dinner. And since I was a brand new bride they gave me the simplest dish on the menu..almost like it was an afterthought dish πŸ™‚
At the end of the party however, everyone wanted to know who made the Tomato Chutney – and wanted a recipe for it πŸ™‚ And for the next one year every potluck party i got invited to I was asked to make “Tomato Chutney” 😦

This is actually a very simple recipe..a very delicious one neverthless.

Tomato Chutney

Tomato Chutney

You will need:
Tomatoes – Ride and Red,Β  6
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

For dry powder:
Methi (Fenugreek) seeds – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Dry roast in a small pan. Cool and grind into a smooth powder. Keep aside.
For seasoning:
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Hing (Asafoetida) – a pinch
Oil – 3 tbsp

Method:
1. Wash and Chop the tomatoes into small cubes and keep aside.
2. Prepare the dry methi-mustard powder as above.
3. In a pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and hing. Allow to splutter.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder and chilli powder.
5. Mix well and cook on an open pan until all the water is evaporated and the tomatoes are cooked and come together.
6. You will see that the oil will leave the sides. Ensure you cook on a low to medium flame so as to not burn the dish.
7. Turn off stove, add the powdered methi-mustard and mix well.
8. Serve.

Tomato Chutney served on toast

Tomato Chutney served on toast

This chutney can be served as a spread or side to roti, dosa, idli or rice. It stores for a week in the refrigerator.

 

Simple North Indian Fare

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On the menu today, a simple North Indian fare… Phulkas or Rotis with Radish Sabji (Mooli ki sabji) , Kadai Vegetables and Peas Pulav.. very simple and wholesome.

Peas Pulav, Phulkas or Roti, Radish Sabji and Kadai Vegetables

Peas Pulav, Phulkas or Roti, Radish Sabji and Kadai Vegetables

Peas Pulav: Simple recipe.

Method:Β Soak about 2 cups of basmati rice for about 15 minutes. In a heavy bottom pan, heat 2 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter) or oil. Add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds,Β 1/2 chopped onion (optional),Β 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste (optional), fresh green peas. Saute for a few minutes. Add the soaked, drained basmati rice. Add salt to taste and fry for about 5 minutes. Mix well. Add 4 cups water, cover with a lid and cook until rice is done on low heat. Serve hot.

 

Radish Sabji (Mooli ki Sabji)

A small story behind this dish – I remember eating this dish on one of our travels to Delhi with my parents. The Guest house/service apartment we stayed at had a cook who dished out this wonderful yet simple North Indian meals. Every day after spending the whole day combing the streets of Delhi we would come back famished..and never dissappointed..because very tasty home made food awaited us at the guest house. I never asked him for a recipe..but have always wondered how he made the mooli ki sabji dish..I’ve eaten mooli or radish in Paranthas and in Mooli Sambar and Mooli chutney and even as a topping on hot bajiyas..but never as a side to roti πŸ™‚ Tapping back into my memory I was able to come up with the exact taste by experiments in the kitchen πŸ™‚

Radish Sabji or Mooli ki Sabji

Radish Sabji or Mooli ki Sabji

You will need:

Tender Radish – 3 cups (I used tender white radish that i bought at the farmers market.) Peel, wash and chop into cubes.
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder or Curry powder – 2 tsp
Dhaniya powder – 1 tsp
Amchur(Dry mango powder) – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tsp

Method: Again, a very simple recipe. Heat the oil in a pan, add cumin seeds. Add the chopped radish and saute for 2 minutes. Add all the powders and mix well. Saute for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water. Cover with a lid and cook until well cooked. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Kadai Vegetables

Another trial and error dish..add vegetables of your choice and each time you have a new dish with a varied taste πŸ™‚

Kadai Vegetables

Kadai Vegetables

 

You will need:

Mixed Vegetables – 3 cups (I used Potatoes, carrots, beans, peas.) Peel/Destring, wash and chop into cubes/small pieces.
Fresh Methi leaves (Fenugreek) – 1/2 cup (optional). Wash, chop
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder or Curry powder – 2 tsp
Dhaniya powder – 1 tsp
Amchur(Dry mango powder) – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder (I used store bought Kitchen King masala powder)Β – 1/2 tsp
Onion – 1 small, chopped into cubes
Fresh Ginger – grated, 1 tsp
Garlic – chopped, 1 small (optional)
cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tsp

Method:
1. In a saucepan, add all vegetables except the methi leaves. Add plenty of water, a pinch of turmeric, salt to taste and boil until all vegetables are cooked.
2. Drain and keep the cooked vegetables aside.
3. In a pan, heat the oil. Add cumin seeds. Add the chopped onions and grated ginger and chopped garlic. Add the chopped methi leaves and and saute for 5 minutes. Add all the powders and mix well.
4. Add the boiled vegetables and about 1/2 cup water(you can save the drained water – in which you cooked the vegetables to use here).
5. Cook until well blended.
6. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Hope you enjoyed my simple North Indian fare. If you do try it, be sure to let me know πŸ™‚

On a different note, its been a long time since I did any enhancements on this blog…keeping up with times I finally created a Facebook page for my blog and added some widget to display it on my sidebar (I realize that i am severely technically challenged!!)

Please visit my FB page here and be sure to Like/Follow if you have enjoyed reading my posts. A blog is what its readers make it. And i thank you for visiting πŸ™‚

Indian Style Potato Fry

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Today’s quick recipe is a very traditional Indian style Potato Fry recipe. This typically tastes great with rice and sambar or rice and dal. Pretty much every Indian household makes potato fry or potato gravy – and there are numerous recipes for this humble dish. And every potato dish tastes different – usually the curry powder or chilli powder used gives it the distinguishing taste..

Indian style potato fry

Indian style potato fry

You will need:
Potatoes – 5
Curry leaves
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp (alternatively you can use any curry powder)
Dhaniya Powder – 1/2 tspΒ  (optional)
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
salt to taste
Garlic – Peeled and mashed roughly (optional)
Hing (Asafoetida)
Oil
Method:
1. Wash and chop the potatoes into halves. Pressure cook with the peel for 1 whistle. Peel and chop into large cubes. Alternatively, you can peel the potatoes and boil wiht plenty of water on stove top until cooked. Drain and keep the boiled potatoes aside.
2. In a saute pan, heat 3 tbsp oil. You can season with mustard seeds and urad dal if you wish at this point.
3. Add the hing and curry leaves.
4. Add the boiled potatoes and all the powders.
5. Add salt and mix well. Mix gently using a spatula and ensure the potatoes do not break.
6. Fry on medium heat stirring in between until the potatoes are semi crispy. Drizzle oil in between if you would like it more crispy. This is by no means a healthy recipe πŸ™‚
7. Add crushed garlic at the end and saute for 2 more minutes.
8. Serve hot as a side to roti or rice.

Innovation in the Kitchen and Flat bread pocket sandwiches

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One of the leadership expectations at my previous workplace was “Innovates”. As part of the tenets of “Thought Leadership”, Innovates is defined as “Generates new ideas that add value; nurtures fresh approaches and appropriate risk taking; seeks alternative points of view; approaches problems with curiosity and generates creative solutions”..

I have identified that this particular Leadership Expectation is actually an opportunity area for me. I use the word opportunity as opposed to weakness..because opportunity is more positive – it just means that there is room for growth and improvement in that area..an opportunity today could become my strength tommorrow and that’s how I like to focus on life in general..any personality or developmental trait that is an opportunity area today could become my strength tommorrow…

So coming back to Innovate, it is quite hard to innovate or think innovation in corporate culture where you are so busy with operational tasks or challenges..but I have learnt that it is most important to innovate and strategize or we will tend to stagnate and there is no challenge to nurture your growth or personality not to mention how a corporation can stagnate where there is no Innovation..

Innovation in the kitchen is actually simpler..it just needs creativity and exposure to a multitude of ingredients πŸ™‚ And blogs from all around the world serve just this purpose..keep us informed and abreast with life, habits, traditions and techniques in different parts of the world! I enjoy reading up on blogs as much as I enjoy blogging…
Well i am digressing again πŸ™‚

So it was innovation in my kitchen today..well maybe not completely.. cannot take credit for total innovation but some atleast..Being a vegetarian there are not too many options for a sandwich filling..a typical cheese, cucumber, tomato, lettuce salad is the norm..and that can get pretty boring especially when your daily lunch is a sandwich 😦

Thinking on my feet today, I gathered everything I had in my pantry to put together the Flat bread pocket sandwiches below and boy were they a hit πŸ™‚

Flatbread pockets sandwiches - Indian style ;-)

Flatbread pockets sandwiches – Indian style πŸ˜‰

I had these flat bread pockets – the kind that they make the Meditteranean sandwiches…but if you dont have these then you can use any sandwich bread/baguette/ciabatta bread you have really…

Flatbread Pockets

Flatbread Pockets

You will need:
Flat bread pockets – 4 halves (each bread breaks into 2)
Green chutney – Recipe below
CarrotΒ  – 1, Peeled and grated
Green Bell Pepper – 1 Medium, Chopped fine
Onions – 1 Medium, Chopped fine
Tomato – 1 Large, Chopped fine
Green chillies – 2, Chopped fine (optional)
Mayonnaise – 1 tsp (optional)
Heinz Tomato Ketchup/Maggi Hot and Sweet Ketchup or any ketchup of choice – 1 tsp

Potato filling of your choice – I typically boil a potato, peel, chop the boiled potato roughly and saute it in a little oil with salt, red chilli powder, garam masala and 2 tsp bread crumbs..
Or sometimes I use a frozen Aloo tikki or Aloo cutlet (Thaw the frozen cutlet and bake for 10 minutes and then tava fry for a few minutes with a few drops of oil)..
or You can use a paneer or meat filling of your choice… here’s where innovation comes into play again πŸ™‚

Today, I had at home this…

Babu's Frozen Daabeli pockets

Babu’s Frozen Daabeli pockets

It is a frozen potato/daabeli pocket sandwich.
I microwaved it for 5 minutes and then pan fried it until crispy with a few drops of oil. Cool, chop the pocket roughly and use as filling.

For garnishing:
Chopped cilantro
Sev

For Green Chutney:
1 small bunch Cilantro – Wash
1 small bunch Fresh mint leaves – Wash
1 handful spinach leaves – Wash
1 medium Onion – Peel and Chop
1 medium Tomato – Wash and Chop
5 Green chillies – Wash
1 small piece ginger – Wash and Peel
Salt to taste

Grind all of the above into a smooth paste with some water. This chutney stores for 1 week in the refrigerator and can be used as a spread on any bread/roti or even in bhel puri etc..
Method:
1. Chop all the veggies and keep aside.
2. Prepare your potato or paneer filling as mentioned above.
3. Make your Green chutney and Keep aside
4. All of you have to do now is assemble πŸ™‚
5. Inside the flat bread pocket, spread the green chutney, fill with a mixture of all the veggies, followed by the potato filling, followed by some more veggies. Drizzle a few drops of mayo and a few drops of ketchup. Garnish with chopped cilantro and sev. Serve πŸ™‚ It’s that easy!!

 

Again, delicious flatbread sandwiches :-)

Again, delicious flatbread sandwiches πŸ™‚

 

Dinner and a Movie – Series 2

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The movie on the radar for this week was “Listen Amaya”. This movie was recommended to me by a friend a while back but somehow we never got around to watching it. Sometimes when we are looking for a movie to watch, some of these movie suggestions just dont come to mind..until you are out of options and then you suddenly remember!! πŸ™‚

Listen Amaya                      Photo Courtesy: Internet

Listen Amaya Photo Courtesy: Internet

The movie was a pleasant surprise and refreshingly different. And not to mention how bold a topic it was..
“Listen Amaya” is a 2013 Hindi Art movie if I may say, starring Deepti Naval, Farooq Shaikh and Swara Bhaskar (never seen her before and really enjoyed her portrayal of Amaya). Deepti Naval of course is a seasoned favorite actress..she is in a league of actresses that just get better and better with age kinda like aging wine πŸ™‚
Farooq Shaikh, another wonderful actor – I still remember seeing “Noorie” and Umrao Jaan in the good old days!!

The movie explores the complex relationship of a mother and a daughter and the intense emotions when that relationship is threatened by a friendship between the mother and her widowed photgrapher friend “Jazz”.. What i loved about the movie is the old world Delhi charm, the lovely book club cafe that is the venue the story plays out in and the intricate but yet the delicate way emotions are played out by each of the characters… Not giving out much about the movie but encouraging you to watch it if you get a hold of it πŸ™‚ We enjoyed the movie.. it was a perfect Friday night movie.

And what is a movie without food really??? On the menu was “Moogachi Usal”..a side made with Whole green moong – my favorite side dish from the plethora of Maharashtrian dishes.. have I told you I love Maharashtrian food ?? πŸ™‚

Moogachi Usal

Moogachi Usal

I have been following Richa’s recipe for Moogachi Usal for so long now that I can claim it as my own πŸ™‚ You know how sometimes you make a dish long enough that you forget where you actually learnt it from?? Except here I do remember where I first learnt to make it πŸ™‚
No changes to the recipe, just keeping it simple.. served it with roti and salad on the side πŸ™‚

And just as a side note :-), Some blogs that I discovered these past few days:

1. BawanDinesh– Was referred to this blog by a friend. Love the way these guys write!! and boy are they so happy..soemthing about happy people, they spread so much cheer and positivity – happy reading folks πŸ™‚

2.Β TurmericSaffron – This very beautiful blog about Persian food and stories, resplandant with pictures and experiences!! Written by Azita this blog is a must visit if you are curious about different lives in different parts of the world!

3.Β Aahaaram – Chanced upon Aruna’s food blog, loved the simple recipes and mouth watering pictures!! Need I say more πŸ™‚