Thursday, January 24, 2008

Food for comfort



When Meeta of "Whats for Lunch Honey?" announced Monthly Mingle event "Comfort Food", the first thing that came to my mind was Tomato Soup and Garlic Bread. Soups have always had a special place in my heart. Well, for one, they warm up the heart during a rainy day for sure:) and the other thing is, its the staple food for us whenever me or V fall sick. And I have always craved for those hot and sour, and sweet corn Chinese soups, whenever we plan to do a take out. In fact I have tried my best to taste soups from all the places we have been, which got me a pet name from my husband :) .....well the name is secret, but I can sure share with you this creamy tomato soup and garlic bread I made one of these days .


Ingredients: Serves 1 person

Creamy Tomato soup
------------------------
Tomato- 2 medium nos
Garlic - around 8 cloves
Cream - 1/4 cup
Onion - 1/2 cup chopped
Coriander leaves - to taste (I add a lot since I like the taste)
Cracked pepper - 1 teaspoon (to taste)
Hot sauce (Tabasco sauce) - few drops (to taste)
Cornstarch (cornflour) - 1/4 teaspoon
Warm water - 1/2 cup
Butter - 1 tablespoon
Oil-1 teaspoon

Garlic Bread - To make one garlic bread
--------------
One slice of bread - I used the whole grain bread (Any bread can be used for this)
Garlic - 2 big cloves
Coriander leaves - a few
salt- to taste
Oil - 1 teaspoon



Method:

To make Creamy Tomato Soup:

Cook the whole tomato and unpeeled garlic until these can be mashed. I nuked the tomato and garlic covered in a microwave vessel for two minutes as that was quicker than the stove method. Mash the tomato and garlic until it forms like a paste. I used the electric masher for the first time for this purpose and it worked well for me. Then to another vessel on the stove, add butter and oil and caramelise the onion. Add salt, mashed tomato-garlic mixture, stir well , be careful at this time as the heat can cause the soup to splatter, reduce the heat at this time, add the cream, cornstarch and stir well to combine everything well. Add the hot sauce, coriander leaves and stir again. Once a bit cooled, transfer contents to a blender and puree the mixture. Transfer the pureed mixture to stove to heat once again for a minute or two and garnish with a bit of cream and cracked pepper. Serve along with garlic bread.

To make Garlic Bread:

Roast the whole garlic and coriander leaves until soft or microwave it in a closed vessel for 2 minutes. Mash it along with salt and oil until it is of spreadable consistency. Spread it on a slice of bread on one side. Fold it once and apply the rest of it outside. (Actually I had made very little paste, so I applied some of the soup I made on the outer portion of the bread after it is folded). Then keep it in a sandwich maker until its done. Serve it warm along with soup.

The next comfort food I had in mind was the simplest comfort food which I relish anytime. It can be called a Kerala comfort food, because it has Erissery (a curry made with pumpkin (can use other vegetables also), green gram) and Cheera(Spinach)-thoran (thoran is a dish of Kerala) and I always associate it with Mom's cooking, hence its a complete comfort food for me :) The rice I use here is Matta Rice which me and V like for its Thiamine (Vitamin B content) and for its pinkish color which it imparts to the Kheer which we make out of this rice on occasions. I made Kanji (Gruel) out of the rice as its such a delight to have it during this cold weather. The mention of Kanji itself warms up the heart. For making Kanji using Matta rice, I used the pressure cooker as my rice cooker never was able to cook the Matta Rice that well. I poured two extra cups of water for cooking the rice and cooked it for 3-4 whistles.



Ingredients

For Erisseri:
---------------

Pumpkin- a medium piece cut in small chunks
Green Gram - 2/3 cup
Water for cooking the green gram
Shredded coconut- 1 cup
Red Chilly - 2 nos
Garlic - 2 cloves
Tampering: Mustard seeds, cumin seeds,curry leaves,,Red Chilly, oil

For cheera(Spinach) thoran:
-------------------

Spinach (I used the cut spinach from frozen section) - 2 cups
Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
Garlic - 2 cloves minced
Red chilly powder - 1 teaspoon
Tampering- Mustard seeds, oil



Erisseri
Method:

Erisseri:
-----------
I used pressure cooker for cooking the whole dish as I was running out of time, but I suggest you folks to cook only the green gram in pressure cooker for this recipe as the pumpkin gets mashed when cooked in pressure cooker. Anyways here is how I did it:

In the pressure cooker, add 1 teaspoon oil, and the other tampering, then add the green gram, pumpkin (you may cook it separately) , salt and water , and cook it for three whistles. Then grind the coconut, red chilly, garlic to a course paste. Mix it to the content in the pressure cooker, stir it well and after a minute, switch off the stove.



Cheera (Spinach)-Thoran
To make cheera thoran:
--------------------------

Defrost the spinach (if you have bought the frozen ones). If you have whole spinach, chop it well. Mix it with coconut, garlic, chilly powder, and salt. In a vessel on the stove, heat a teaspoon of oil, add the tampering and then add the spinach mixture and stir it well on medium heat. Close the vessel and let it cook until the spinach is cooked.


The above picture is the Rose Matta Rice which has been cooked with lots of water. I drained the water from the rice through a sieve before serving to V , though I prefer it without the draining. That's why you don't see the water in which it is cooked.



Garlic Chicken







Hi I am posting this after a long time. I was very busy renovating our apartment to make it look good:) . This easy dish can be prepared fast.

Ingredients:

Shredded chicken (breast or highs or fillets) : 2 cups
Crushed Garlic : 1 whole Garlic
Minced green chili: I use a lot, you can use according to your taste
Salt: according to paste
For garnish: Coriander leaves,Whole peppercorns crushed: 1 teaspoon, Spring onion sliced in thin circles
Spice Powders: Curry powder (you get in your local Indian store or some American stores (in the asian section) . You can even use Sambhar powder :) (try it, its quiet different)
Onion cut in thin slices : 1 whole
Tomato: 1 medium size
Oil :

Method:

Add oil to a pan, and when its heated, add onion, half of crushed garlic and stir well, then add the minced green chilli and stir well again. Then add tomato and stir on medium-high heat until a paste of all the ingredients is formed, then add the shredded chicken and combine well, add all the spice powders, salt and pepper and stir well at low-medium heat. Cover the vessel and let the chicken cook . Then at the end when the chicken is cooked, add crushed pepper, and coriander leaves.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Kappa (Tapioca) curry and some nice memories



Tapioca (otherwise called "Yuca" in US grocery stores), is an all time favorite of a Keralite. Me and V love to have it with roti, or just like that. My mom used to make this spicy-salty-bright red-garlic pickle which used to taste heavenly with cooked "Kappa".......mmmmm what a taste it has! .......I have to admit, I have never been able to make that garlic pickle like the one she makes, maybe because I don't have the Indian Mixer to make it . My mom knew very well about my craving for Tapioca and she used to often make sure that I had it when I came home for holidays. There used to be a Tapioca vendor who used to come to our colony with his "undhuvandi" (pulling cart?? I don't know how to exactly translate the word in English). And my mom used to buy loads of Tapioca from him just for my palate:) (and my brothers too:) ....She used to make those in the evenings and I used to impatiently (but eagerly) wait for her to finish, in fact I used be in the kitchen the entire time the Tapioca was being cooked, just to satisfy myself with the sounds and aroma of it cooking in the pressure cooker:)) ......I want to share one more thing and I don't know how far its true, my mom used to tell that the water used to cook the Tapioca should be discarded and should never consumed by a cow as it upsets the animals health.

I made Kappa curry to go along with roti for V's lunch today. Both of us relished it at V's home in Kerala when we went this time. I made it without the coconut grating as I couldn't wait to defrost the frozen coconut :) ......Just wanted to get my hands on the curry asap:) So here is the recipe and its also my post for the RCI-Kerala event hosted by Jyothsna of Curry Bazaar. I used the frozen Yuca (Goya brand) , which required 15-30minutes to cook on stove top. The package also said it could be microwaved.


Ingredients (for two people)

Tapioca (Cooked according to instructions on the package or if you are not using the frozen one, clean the tapioca , cut it to smaller pieces and cook it with salt in enough water until it is cooked and soft. I add turmeric along with salt while cooking the tapioca. Check by inserting a knife when tapioca is cooked) - 6 pieces

Garlic- 5 large segments crushed and chopped finely

Curry leaves- a few

For tampering:

Oil-1 tablespoon
Mustard seeds- 1 tablespoon
Green Chilly - 3-4 nos (slit the chillies)


Salt- to taste
Water- 1/2 cup or less if you want a thicker curry
Coriander powder- for garnish

Method:

1. Mash the cooked tapioca until most of the lumps are removed. (A few lumps here and there is a must for the right texture of the curry)

2. In a pan heat oil, add the mustard seeds, and when they splutter add the green chillies, curry leaves, and saute in low fire for 10 seconds, then add the garlic, stir for a minute.

3. Add the mashed tapioca and stir well to uniformly combine everything. Add water (you can even omit water if you want it extra thick) and let most of the water evaporate on high heat.

4. Turn off the heat and sprinkle a teaspoon of coriander powder and stir lightly to mix it.

5. Kappa curry is ready :) Serve it as side dish with roti, rice, or have it just like that , its yummy :)

I am also linking the following recipes from my archived post for this RCI event:

* Kozhukkatta
* Vazhakkoombu upperi
* Puttu- steamed rice cake

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Penne for my thoughts

Penne Pasta- Chicken Sukka




Cooked Penne Pasta

Chicken Sukka



I made chicken sukka recently and added some coconut milk and Penne Pasta to make it a Italian -Indian dish :) Yeah adding that Pasta makes it all International right? :) Well I was trying to 'Indianize' an Italian by adding the Penne Pasta:)

Ingredients:

Chicken Breasts : 4 to 5 pieces skinless, boneless thighs or breast (you can use with bone also)
Penne Pasta: 3 cups
Ginger: 4 to five thin slices
Garlic: 4 to 5 pods
Green Chilly : 4 to 5 (adjust according to taste) I used the Thai chilly (I removed the seeds before adding to the dish, to make it "eatable" for my hubby :)
Cumin seeds: 3 teaspoons
Onion: 1 chopped finely
Tomato: 2 chopped finely
Coriander leaves: For Garnish
Spices: Cardamom powder (1/4 tsp), Curry powder (1 teaspoon)(I used a sambhar powder given to me by a friend of mine which was absolutely tasty), Coriander powder - (1 tsp) (I used the freshly ground one)
Salt : to taste
Coconut Milk (thick): 1 cup (I make it using the coconut powder. Easier to make 1 cup thick milk that way. You save time and taste is not compromised if you are using a good brand (I use a Thai brand)

Method:

Cook the penne pasta according to instructions on the packet. Cut the chicken pieces to bite size pieces. In a pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds, green chilly, ginger, garlic and curry leaves and saute for a minute. Then add the chicken pieces, salt and on high heat stir the chicken pieces with the tampering until it is cooked slightly. Then add the onion, tomato to the chicken and stir until onion and tomato form a nice soft paste on the chicken. Then add the spices and and stir until chicken is 3/4th cooked. Add little water in between cooking the chicken if chicken pieces stick to the vessel. The water should be completely gone when chicken is 3/4th cooked. Then reduce the fire to medium and add 1 cup thick coconut milk. Stir until milk is fully absorbed by the chicken. Raise the heat in between to aid this. Then lower the heat to minimum, add the penne pasta and stir well to combine everything. Serve it hot or cool , along with vegetable salad or have it just like that :)

Badam (Almond) Katli




This will be my first recipe of this year, so I thought of making a sweet start :) I have never had Badam Katli, but always loved and craved the taste of its more famous cousin - "Kaju Katli" :) You give me this sweet anytime , I relish it as if I have never seen it:) Just gets me hooked to its taste:) . I had it the first time in Bangalore from the 'Kaptik's Mithai Shop" on CMH Road,Indiranagar. The chats that you get there is also too good. The shop name is written in a unique style on the banner which made me read it 'Kartik' the first time I saw and then when I looked closely, it read 'Kaptik'...its like some optical illusion thing i guess:)) .....anyways who cares about the name, its the sweets and savories that they serve. I also adore the sweets from ' Sri Krishna' sweet shop in my hometown Ernakulam. Though it seems such a long time back, memories of my dad purchasing a sweet box from this sweet shop for me when I was returning to Bangalore during my career days just makes it very nostalgic....

I don't know what I was thinking when I purchased Almond powder instead of Cashew powder when I was at this store at Burlington. I wanted to make Kaju Katli and I had purchased Almond powder. So I googled about the "history" of cousin "Badam Katli" :) and I found its similar in preparation to Kaju Katli. So I made it using the following recipe in which I made an approximate measurement of all ingredients keeping in mind that making Rava Kesari and Kaju Katli process is almost same with a slight difference. But the taste and texture came out very well.

Ingredients:

1 cup Almond Powder (if you have whole almonds, chop it, and grind it in a coffee grinder or spice grinder. you may also soak the almonds in water until its tender and then grind the almonds along with 1/4 cup milk to form a smooth paste)

1/4 cup milk (I used soy milk, as I didn't have the regular milk in stock)

1 cup sugar (I used powdered sugar. Granulated sugar can also be used)

1/4 teaspoon Cardamom powder

1 tsp Ghee to avoid the sweet from sticking to the vessel in which it is cooked(Optional)

Method:

Make a paste of almond powder and milk. If you are using whole Almonds, which are soaked, grind it with milk to a smooth paste.

Add this paste along with sugar in a vessel and start the stove to medium heat.

Keep stirring to avoid lumps and sticking. You may add ghee at this point to prevent sticking. Better to use a anodised (or non-stick) vessel to prevent sticking. So you can cut that extra fat from the oil or ghee (though adding a little ghee gives a richer taste. Take care not to add too much as that will take over the taste of Almonds).

Vary the stove temperature between low and medium, while stirring.

It took me around 15 - 20 minutes (time varies according to stove temperature) for the almond - sugar mixture to start leaving the edges and when you stir at this time, you can observe that the coating which gets on the spatula you are using to stir, starts to solidify.

At this point add the cardamom powder, stir well again to combine everything.

Keep a Aluminium foil on a flat surface and apply a light coating of butter. Transfer the Badam Katli to the foil. Just pour it, don't try spreading it, as it usually spreads by itself when its hot. Wait for 1 or 2 minutes till it sets. When you touch it with the base of a spoon you can feel the surface is quiet hard. I used a pizza cutter to cut the Badam Katli to diamond shapes. That was easier than knife ;) The Katli's harden a bit more when cooled. So don't worry if you feel they are not done . Hope you too will like it:)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year To All !!



I wish all my friends, fellow bloggers and each one of my readers a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!! Honestly I always feel that the Holiday Season should never end:) But then, how can we ever make a fresh beginning or new resolutions if we are stuck in the same year right? :) So in that spirit, I welcome this year with all the hope and trust in God to a new beginning :)

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