Friday, October 31, 2008

Banana Oatmeal Smoothie

There could be many people out there who skip breakfasts.Im no exception to that and I always fall short of time for taking breakfast.But we all know how much important is the first meal of the day.It should be wholesome and nutritious.
Keeping that in mind,my mom usually gives me 'Oats with milk & fruit' as breakfast.And that being hot and potful ,I couldn't finish up the whole stuff and run to my college in hurry.
So I came with this 'Smoothie' idea.
It can be made and kept in refrigirator the night before.And you know,how easy it is to drink a smoothie in few seconds and get ready to start your day.One can try out with other seasonal fruits.This is extremely delicious and filling.The oats and banana gives the lusciousness to the drink and to me it was like sipping a milk shake...
One drink....
And you get the goodness of 1 whole banana,1 glass of milk and 2 tbspoons of oats.
Isn't that good??

Start off with boiling the milk and add the oats.

After 30 seconds,turn off the heat and cool down.

Blend the oats/milk with sliced banana and sugar in a mixer.Chill and serve.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pudhina Rice

Diwali is over and we all would have consumed lots of Diwali sweets and savouries.So here comes a timing recipe,'Pudhina(Mint) Rice'.
Mint leaves are said to have medicinal properties.It is very good for digestion.So today we made Pudhina rice for lunch.This is simple,flavourful and also healthy.
Many people suggested me to post recipes with a theme.Some particularly asked for health conscious recipes.So I will be posting recipes that are for dieters and health conscious people for this week.Here starts my 'Health Series' with my first entry ,Pudhina Rice..

You will need:

2 cups boiled rice
1 bunch of Mint leaves
1 medium onion chopped finely
1/4 cup grated coconut
3 green chillies
3 tbsp of thick tamarind juice
1 tsp Sugar
Salt as per taste
For tempering:
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp channa dal
2 sprigs of curry leaves

Note: The boiled rice should not be mushy.Boil the rice and transfer in a plate and allow it to cool completely.Drizzle few drops of oil and mix well.This will keep the rice from sticking to one another.

Separate the mint leaves from the stem and wash them thoroughly.Heat 1 tsp oil and fry the mint leaves and green chillies for a couple of mins.

Grind together coconut,chillies and mint leaves with the tamarind juice to a smooth paste.

Heat 1 tsp oil in the same pan and add the tempering.Once the mustard sputter,add the onions and saute for a couple of mins.Add salt and sugar.

Add the coconut/mint leaves paste and fry for few mins.One can check for salt at this stage.
Turn off the heat.

Add the rice to the paste and gently mix well.

We had with roasted papads and Vazhakai Poriyal(Plantain fry).It was perfect and filling.What else can I say?Just try it..

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shahi Tukre/Double Ka Meetha

Shahi tukre is a very popular North Indian-Pakistani bread pudding which is a traditional sweet dish.The word 'Shahi' denotes that this dish is a part of Mughlai cuisine.Due to the influence of Mughals in Hyderabad,this dessert became so popular there .Eventually,Shahi Tukre became 'Double ka Meetha' in Hyderabad.'Double' here denotes Double baked bread and 'meetha' means sweet. Food Historians attribute the birth of bread pudding to frugal cooks who do not want to waste stale bread.Interestingly,bread pudding finds its way in many different cuisines.The Egyptian bread pudding which is similar to 'Shahi tukre' is called Om Ali.
This pudding is so sumptuous and is usually topped with a edible silver foil called 'varq' .
This royal dessert is easy to make and tastes divine.

You will need:

8 slices of bread
500 ml milk
75 gms Sugar
4 tbsp ghee
few strands of saffron
1 tbsp Cardamom powder
Raisins,Almonds,Pistachios and Cashews roasted in ghee

Remove the brown edges of the bread and half them diagonally.Toast them with ghee.It must get evenly brown and crisp.The original recipe calls for deep -frying in ghee.

Arrange the slices in a serving dish.

Boil the milk with sugar,cardamom powder and saffron.

Pour the milk over the fried bread slices.Garnish with roasted nuts and raisins.
Can be served chilled or hot.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Nankhatai-means 'Bread made with six ingredients' where 'Nan' stands for 'Bread' and 'Khat' meaning 'Six' refers to the six ingredients.These are eggless Indian cookies which had its origin in Surat,a large port city in Gujarat.
The birth of Nankhatai has a very interesting history.
In the 16th century, the Dutch explorers came to India for setting up posts for trading spices in India.Surat was a highly occupied city then .So they started a bakery in Surat for making breads for their consumption .The bakery had five parsee employees.When the Dutch left India,they handed over the bakery to one of its trusted employees named 'Mr.Faramji Pestonji Dotivala'.And soon the bakery became 'Dotivala Bakery' .
The Dutch style breads/cookies were disliked by the Indians and the business started to decline.So Dotivala decided to become the master of fusion cooking for financial survival..He used 'Sura' (a sap from Palm tree ,or toddy) instead of yeast for fermenting the cookies and named it 'Farmasu' or 'Suri Batasa'.Modified the 'Puff pastry' to the salty 'Khari' (biscuit),which is spiked with ajwain on the top layer.His one such modification is the 'Nankhatai' which is the combination of 'Dutch butter biscuit' and a Gujarati local sweet called 'Dal'. The other popular biscuits of the Dotivalas include 'Irani Biscuits' which are nothing but the second time baked leftover 'Sura biscuits'.
There is a very large population of Gujaratis in Bombay.So they transported Nankhatais to Bombay where it became a very popular tea time snack.People enjoy them dunking in hot masala chai.
Amused by its history,I couldn't wait giving it a try.I derived the recipe from Manjulaskitchen and it came out very well.It was liked by everyone at our home.

You will need:

1/3 Cup of Semolina
1/3 Cup of Maida/All purpose flour
1/3 Cup of Besan/Gram flour
2/3 Cup of Sugar
1/2 cup Butter at room temp.
1/4 tsp of Cardamom powder
A pinch of baking soda
Almonds and Pistachios -sliced

Combine Butter and sugar to a smooth paste.

Sift together Besan,Maida,Semolina ,Cardamom powder baking soda into the bowl of butter/Sugar mixture.

Combine and knead well to form a dough.

Shape them into small cookies and make incisions on them with knife.Press the sliced nuts on top of the cookies.
Bake them for about 20 mins in a 250C preheated oven.

Transfer in a wire rack and allow it to cool.

Verdict: The flavour of Cardamom emanating from the oven while baking was so inviting.The Semolina of course added the crunchiness to the Nankhatai.But I guess it could be even better if grounded semolina is used.It was indeed a pleasant experience to have these Nankhatais with a hot cup of tea on that dirzzling evening.

Thirunelveli Halwa

Diwali is nearing and if I don't post a sweet dish as Diwali special then it would be a sin.So Im presenting a very famous,unique and loved-by-all 'Thirunelveli Halwa'.I know the real Thirunelveli Halwa made with 'Thamirabarani water' is no match to what we make at home.But my grandma makes them so well that it also tastes equally good.On a very rare occasion ,this can be done at home.I agree that it involves prolonged period of constant stirring. At the end,when a scoop of halwa melts in the mouth,one could realise the worth of the painstaking effort involved.
Okay..Let me tell you some interesting fact about the invasion of Halwa to South..
Halwa is actually from Rajasthan and 300 years ago a Marwari family came from Rajasthan and settled in Thiruneveli.They were the first to introduce and popularise 'Halwa' through their famous sweet shop called 'Lakshmi Sweets'.
Later on the other neighbouring shops used the same formula and became popular.
One such shop that is very famous for this Halwa is 'IrutuKadai'---The Dark Shop.
Wondering why this shop has such a weird name??..Because this shop literally don't have any lights.Even today whoever visits that shop can observe that it doesn't have a single electric bulb.
They make this delicious sweet with wheat milk,sugar and ghee which is semi-solid and is in the color of amber.It tastes best when its fresh and hot.

The important part in making this Halwa is constant stirring.I'm novice in preparing Halwa ,so my grandma was the one who made this Halwa.She insists allotting time particularly for this ,as the Halwa may stick to bottom of the pan if left unattended .

Using quality whole wheat grains and clear spring water gives subtle taste to this sweet.

For Extracting the wheat milk,

You will need:

1/4 kg of Goor quality whole wheat grains
1 litre Clean Spring water

Wash the wheat grains and soak overnight with the spring water.Grind them to fine paste using the water.

In a sieve,strain the ground paste.

Add more water and grind the mixture again and extract the milk from it completely.
The wheat milk should amount to 1 litre.Some will throw away the upper clear portion of the milk and use only the thick milk settled in the bottom.But my grandma insists on using the clear portion of the milk also as it helps in complete cooking of the wheat extract.

For the Halwa

You will need:

1 litre of the wheat milk
750 gms of sugar
250 gms of Ghee
50 gms of chasew nuts
A pinch of orange food coloring

In a heavy bottomed vessel,dissolve the milk and sugar completely and bring to boil.

Keep the flame in medium once the mixture has started to boil and gets into the fluid stage.

At this stage ,add the food coloring and keep stirring..

Add the roasted cashews ...

After half an hour,it would be difficult to stir the halwa,at that stage add few blobs of the ghee and keep stirring.

Adding ghee little by little helps stirring of halwa easier and wouldn't consume too much ghee.

The halwa shouldn't be allowed to stuck to the bottom of the vessel .This is the final stage of the Halwa.
It must not fall off from the spoon if dropped from a height.This is the right consistency for the Halwa.Add the remaining ghee and give a final stir and serve hot.

Idhuku peru dan Halwaa kodukarthu! .........oops! can't resist saying this (:

Happy Diwali!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tomato Pulao & Sukke Aloo

For past two weeks it was raining all day and we were very much delighted about the much awaited rainy days.Hot,steamy,spicy food on a rainy day is an unequaled experience.In this abbreviated aqueous season,one could hardly contain the craving for the spicy deep-fried goodies or a hearty bowl of warm soup or a steaming pot of comforting meal.I'm a not an exceptional victim for this craving and last Sunday we had constant drizzling all day which triggered me to make this spicy,tangy Tomato Pulao, fiery Sukke Aloo and a compensating to the spiciness we had Onion Raitha and of course 'Rain'.It was a perfect lunch and I immediately felt of posting this recipe here as my cousin S asked this recipe long before.

You will need:

2 cups basmati rice(soaked for 30 mins and drained)
1/4 kg Tomatoes finely chopped
2 Onions finely chopped
4 Green chillies-silt
1/2 cup fresh green peas/ 1 cup potatoes peeled and cubed
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
3 cloves
1 cardamom
1 star anise
1 Bay leaf
Salt as per taste
2 table spoon oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Corainder for garnishing

Heat 1 table spoon oil in a pan and fry the rice for 1 min and immedietely transfer in a dish.This step helps the rice to be seperate after cooking.

In the same pan heat the remaining oil and add the spices and allow to splutter.

Add the onions and chillies and saute for a couple of mins.

Add the tomatoes ,peas/potatoes,salt,sugar and garam masala.Stir well and saute for couple of mins.And turn off the heat.

Now add 2 1/2 cups of water and boil in a separate pan.
In my case I have boiled them in the electric cooker.

Once the water has started boiling,add the rice and the sauted tomatoes/onion/peas mixture to the water.Stir well,check for salt and cook covered till done.

Sukke Aloo:

This is very simple to make and could be made in a jiffy.

-Heat 3 table spoon oil in a roasting pan/Kadai.
-Add mustard and then 1/4 kg of cubed potatoes.
-Sprinkle salt,1/4 teaspoon of chilli powder,1/4 teaspoon coriander powder,1/4 teaspoon jeera powder,1/4 teaspoon amchoor powder and a pinch of turmeric
-Toss well and cover with lid.Cook till the potatoes are roasted evenly and tender.Do not add water.The potatoes must cook in the oil and steam itself.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cauliflower Pulao & Malai Kofta!

People generally get confused with Biryani and Pulao.Both the dishes have 'rice' and 'meat' as basic ingredients which are seasoned with appropriate spices.Pulao and Biryani dishes were perfected during the era of Mughal emperors of the subcontinent,in their royal kitchens staffed by the famous Persian and Indian chefs of the day.
Pulao ,which is also spelled pilau, perloo, perlau, plaw, pilaw, and pilaff is from the Middle Eastern and South Central Asian countries.While Biryani had its origin in India and Pakistan.Pulao or pilaf uses a one pot cooking method where the meat is partially cooked first with the special seasoning and then the rice is added on top and the cooking is completed on a low flame in a large pot with a tight fitting lid.
For Biryani the meat and rice are each separately fried with seasonings and each is gently cooked to the half done point. Then they are assembled together in layers and the cooking is completed to full done, on a low flame in a tightly covered pot.
Another major difference between Pulao and Biryani is that,Pulao is relatively less spiced than Biryani.
In India,people also confuse Fried rice with Pulao/Biryani.Fried rice is basically a Chinese Rice,which involves parboiling the long grained rice separately and tossing the rice with Chinese seasonings and crisply sauted vegetables in a wok.
When it comes to Pulao ,there are endless variations one can make.Cauliflower pulao is one of the variations which could be practically done in 20 mins .
This pulao is mild and it goes well with the rich and delicious 'Mughlai Malai kofta '.The creamy sauce of the Malai kofta compliments very well with the rice and kofta.
Kofta means 'dumplings' which could be made with vegetables or cottage cheese or minced meat.
Koftas are also brought to Indian cusinie by the Persians.According to a 2005 study done by a private food company, there were 291 different kinds of kofta in Turkey, where it is very popular. In Arab countries, kofta is usually shaped into cigar-shaped cylinders.
So today we are going to see these historically enriched dishes,'Pulao and Malai Kofta'.


For the gravy:
You will need:
1 cup of pureed tomato
3/4 cup of minced onion
1 table spoon finely chopped ginger
3 table spoon butter
2 tablespoon broken cashews
1 cup fresh cream with milk
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
A pinch of turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Salt for taste
Sugar 1 teaspoon
Cliantro for garnishing

Melt butter in a heavy bottom vessel and add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter.Add the minced onion and and ginger and cook till the onion gets the light brown color.
Tip:Adding the salt at this stage helps the onion to cook faster.

Add the pureed tomatoes and dry spices .Cook with lid covered until the butter separates from the gravy.Add sugar and more salt if required.

Add the milk and cream.Stir and cook in simmer for a couple of mins and turn off.If more gravy is required add more milk but do not use water.
Note:Its better to make more gravy than required as the kofta will absorb the gravy.

For the Kofta
You will need:
1 cup boiled and mashed potato
1 cup parboiled and finely chopped carrots
1 cup crumbled Paneer
1 table spoon Raisins
1 table spoon broken Nuts(cashews,pistachios and almonds)
1 table spoon chopped cliantro
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon jeera powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
Salt for taste

For the Batter
1 table spoon Corn flour
1 table spoon Maida(All purpose flour)
A pinch of salt

Oil for frying

Mix together all the ingredients of kofta using hand or in food processor.

Make lemon sized koftas with the combined mixture.Make a batter with the corn flour,Maida,salt and water.It should of ribbon consistency.

Deep fry the kofta in oil by coating well in the batter.It can be deep fried in high flame and taken out quickly.Because all the contents of kofta is precooked and we just want the outer portion of the kofta to be just browned to retain its shape once its dropped in the gravy.

Drain excess oil in a paper towel.

Just before serving add the koftas in the gravy .Garnish with cilantro and drizzle some 'Malai' (Milk Cream)..
Note:The koftas may tend to break if its soaked in the gravy for long hours.So its always advised to add the koftas in the gravy just few mins before serving.


You will need:
1 moderate sized cauliflower-separated into small florets and washed thoroughly
Basmati rice-3 cups
1 cup fresh/frozen green peas
2 medium onions-julienned
1/4 cup grated coconut
1 inch ginger
5 garlic cloves
6 green chillies
1/2 cup curd
spices(bay leaf,sauf,Cinnamon,cloves..)
3 tablespoon ghee
2 tablespoon oil
salt to taste
1 tablespoon cashews broken and roasted in ghee (optional)
Chopped cilantro

Wash the rice once(Basmati has to be washed once only to retain the flavour) and soak in 5 1/2 cups of water for minimum of 30 mins.

Ground together coconut,garlic,ginger and chillies to a smooth paste.
In a pressure cooker,heat oil and add the spices and allow it to sputter.

Add the onions and saute for a couple of mins.Add the ground paste and cook in low flame till the raw smell goes away.
Add the peas and cauliflower florets, saute for a min.In the mean time completely drain the rice and collect the water in a vessel which will be used for cooking the pulao.
Add the drained rice to the vegetables and add 1 tablespoon of ghee and mix gently in medium flame.This process will help the rice to retain the shape of rice and the pulao wont be sticky.

Now add the water , curd and salt.Bring the mixture to boil..Add the remaining ghee.
Pressure cook them for 3 whistles in medium flame and 5 mins in low flame.Do not cook in High flame as it gets browned in the bottom easily.
When the steam is released,gently open them and sprinkle the roasted cashews and chopped cilantro.Serve with any gravy.

Try this sumptuous meal in a leisurely weekend and enjoy!