Friday, July 23, 2010

Vegetable Hakka Noodles with Tandoori Chicken Broiled/Baked in Oven

On our recent visit to the Asian grocery store, we purchased authentic Chinese noodles which is inexpensive and worth buying as you get a lot for $1. Me and V love Maggi noodles, but compared to these Chinese noodles, they turn out to be more costly. We had purchased these before too, and I had found out a very tasty way to utilize these noodles, ie, by making Vegetable Hakka Noodles. The Hakka noodles I am referring to here is Indo-Chinese. I like Indo-Chinese food and my favorites are Gobi Manchurian, and Sweet Corn soup.

 The Veg Hakka Noodles I am going to write here about is a very simple recipe, and can be made fast. I hope you try it sometime :)  I have eyeballed the serving of ingredients, hence I haven't mentioned the same.

 Here is the recipe:


  •  Noodles 
  • Water to cook the noodles
  • Onion chopped finely
  • Vegetables : Thinly sliced cabbage, carrot, green beans, corn, peas. You may partially cook them and set aside to reduce the cooking time later.
  • Green chilly slit and cut into julienne
  • Ginger-Garlic paste/crushed
  • Sauces : Tomato ketchup, Soy sauce/Worcestershire sauce, Green chilly sauce (available in Indian grocery store), Fish sauce (optional, I use it when I want a Thai flavor, but it can be completely omitted) 
  •  Spices : Red chilly powder, White/Black Pepper powder
  •  Lemon juice/Citric acid crystals
  • Salt 
  • Oil ( I used sesame oil)


  • Lightly crush the noodles if you are like me and V whole like the noodles slightly crushed in dishes. Else don't bother
  • Cook the noodles in boiling water with a teaspoon of oil, as per the instruction on the packet or until it is soft to touch. Strain the noodles and keep them aside

  • Keep a frying pan on medium high heat and add 3 tablespoons of oil. 
  • When the oil is hot, add Green Chilly and Ginger-Garlic Paste and saute for a minute. 
  • Add Onion, and the rest of the vegetables. Add some salt. Increase the heat to high
  • Stir well and stir quiet fast, until the veggies are almost cooked, but still crunchy. 
  •  Add the spices and again stir well to combine.
  •  Reduce the heat to medium. Add the drained noodles, Sauces, and Lemon juice/citric acid crystals in the same order. 
  • Turn up the heat to medium high and stir well, and fast to combine everything for about two minutes. 
  •  Check for salt. 
  • Serve with tomato ketchup/tandoori chicken baked in oven (recipe follows) ;-)
Tandoori Chicken made in oven
We sometimes buy Halal Chicken during our grocery shopping. It has been a while since I posted about any non-vegetarian dish. I thought this was a good opportunity to post about it. Though I didn't have the Tandoori masala, I made my own by combining whatever spices I had in my pantry. We both thoroughly enjoyed the outcome of this dish. Here goes the recipe which I partially referred from here :

Note: It is best if you have enough time (at least 3 hours, to make it easier,you may marinate it overnight if you wish to prepare it ahead of time) to make this because here the marination of chicken is very important to get the full flavor.


  •  1 whole Chicken cut into small pieces (we had bought Halal chicken which we told the butcher to cut into small pieces). Making big slits in bigger pieces helps set the marinade inside.
  • Baking tray coated with oil (best to use a non-stick baking tray instead of lining the tray with foil as the chicken would stick to the foil and make a mess while trying to turn over
  • Marinade : 
  1. Yoghurt : 1/2 cup
  2. Tandoori Masala powder: 1 tspn each of red chilly powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, amchoor powder (dry mango powder (optional))
  3. Finely chopped Mint leaves                                      
  • Salt

  •  Marinate the Chicken in the above Marinade along with salt for atleast 3 hours or even overnight
  • Preheat  oven to 450 degree F and set your oven to the Bake mode (my toaster oven has a Bake mode, Broil mode, Toast mode, and a Keep warm mode).
  •  Once preheated, transfer the marinated Chicken pieces to the oiled Baking tray and keep it in the oven.
  •  Close the door of the oven and let it initially bake for 15 minutes. 
  • After 15 minutes, turn to the Broil mode and Broil for 10 minutes.
  • After this, take out the baking tray out of the oven, and drain any oil/liquid that oozed out of the Chicken on to the tray. 
  •  Turn over the Chicken pieces to cook the other side
  •  Turn the oven to Bake mode and bake for 10 minutes. 
  • After that, turn oven to broil mode and broil for 5 minutes.
  • By now the Chicken pieces would have changed to a nice tandoori color. To make it further brighten, take the tray out and drain any liquid/oil from the tray and turn over the chicken pieces.
  • Transfer back to the oven and broil for another 5 minutes. 
  • Tandoori Chicken baked/broiled in oven is now ready to be served.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lemon Balm Tea along with Aloo Poha

We had an excess of potatoes after buying a bag of them without knowing there was stock in our pantry. I wanted to finish off the old stock of potatoes. One other reason was on our recent visit to the Indian store we bought Sago (Tapioca, Sabudana) and Beaten rice (Flattened rice, Poha). I was looking forward to make a Sabudana Khichdi or Aloo Poha, both requiring use of Potatoes. I made Aloo Poha first and then the Khichdi on two separate days. To go along with Aloo Poha I made Lemon Balm Tea with my homegrown Lemon Balm. I referred Padma's blog to get the basic idea of using Poha in recipes like Aloo Poha. I had only used Poha in dishes like Phovu Kalleylolo which I posted long time back. I had some idea that a basic potato curry goes into making Aloo Poha, but didnt know how to include the Poha. Padma has written in easy to understand words that the Poha must be soaked in water and immediately drained and kept aside until they look plump enough. That worked for me. So here goes the recipe:

Serves 4 :

Ingredients for Aloo Poha:

  •  Potato (cooked or raw) cut in small cubes: 1 big
  • Onion chopped: 1 big
  •  Poha (Flattened Rice, Beaten Rice) available in Indian grocery shops : 2 cups 

  • Seasoning: 2 tspns oil, 1 tspn mustard seeds,1 tspn cumin seed, 1 tspn red chilly powder, 1/2 tspn turmeric powder, 1 tspn dry mango powder (Amchur powder), 1 slit green chilly (optional), 1 tspn Urad dal , 1/2 -1 tspn Hing (Asafoetida), 1 tspn cumin powder, 1 tspn coriander powder

  • Salt to taste
  • Grated coconut (fresh/frozen): 1/2 cup (Indian grocery store)

How to make Aloo Poha:
  • Add the two cups of Poha in a big strainer or a colander with tiny holes so that it doesn't drain the Poha out when it is washed in water. Run water for 30 seconds on the Poha while mixing it with your hands so that the water wets the Poha evenly. Set aside the strainer or colander with the Poha so that all the water is drained off and the Poha gets time to become a little plump. 

  • Meanwhile heat a skillet on medium fire and add the oil. Add to it all the seasoning, stir well while after each addition. Add onion and saute until it turns translucent. 

  • Reduce fire to medium low and add the Potato cubes and stir well to coat the seasoning on all the pieces. Add salt and cover the skillet and wait until the Potatoes are cooked well. 

After the potatoes are cooked :

                                                    I like my potatoes slightly roasted :)

  • Once the Potatoes are cooked, add the Poha and Coconut and roasted Peanuts to the skillet and mix it well with the rest of the mixture in the skillet. Check for salt once the Poha warms up. 

  • Best served when its hot/warm. Can be eaten for breakfast/snack with tea/coffee. 

Now coming to the Lemon Balm Tea, I suddenly remembered that I never mentioned about my happiest gardening days of this year :) ....yes I have to say this time I am kind of very excited and satisfied with the gardening I did. Most of the seeds sprouted and even yielded their fruits/leaves/flowers :) ...what more could a novice gardener like me ask for ?
  In the beginning of February, I got ready with my plans for gardening this spring/summer. I planned much ahead as to what I would grow this year : 1 vegetable, 1 flower, 3 herbs. What I didn't  realize was like always during the excitement of seeing the seed packets at Home Depot/Lowes/Shaws/Sears I ended up planting an additional vegetable and  herb. The additional herb is the Lemon Balm. I should say now that I don't regret my splurge :) .....The Lemon Balm is growing happily :) . I never thought it had so many good properties which I found in this website.

 Let me give you a glimpse of  the seeds I planted this summer. Yes, I like to grow my plants from seeds, at least I try that first rather than going for the cutting straight away. This didn't work for me in the case of the Indian type mint plant , where I had to grow it from cuttings, which a generous friend offered to me. Thank you Sapna :) . Thanks to you, they are growing well.

The herbs : Mint , Basil, Lemon Balm,Lavender :

The vegetables : Tomato, Cherry tomato, Green Chilly, Taro Leaves:

The flower plant: Impatiens

Coming back to the Lemon Balm Tea, I got inspiration to make it after me and V recently bought mugs just for the two of us :) . The mug you see here is mine. I never drank tea/coffee from such a big cup before :-D ,  it feels nice, kind of cozy and comfy :) I am sipping tea from it as I write this post :) you get the pic ;-)

Okay, back to the topic, I decided to add some leaves from the Lemon Balm plant as my Lemongrass stalk got over. I found the tea refreshing. You may prepare it without milk and sugar, but I have not tried it that way. Hence this recipe includes with milk and sugar and ginger :) :

 Ingredients to make Lemon Balm Tea: Serves 1

  •  Lemon Balm leaves : 2-3 leaves
  •  Milk : 1/2 cup
  • Water: 1/2 cup
  • Indian black tea leaves (Orange pekoe grading) of any brand (available at Indian grocery stores) : 1 tspn
  • Sugar : 1 tspn
  • Crushed Ginger : 1 tspn
  • Tea masala (available at Indian grocery stores or make your own) : 1/2 tspn (optional)
How to make Lemon Balm Tea:

  1. In a vessel on medium high heat, add milk and water. Add all the other ingredients, except sugar. Stir once in a while
  2. When the mixture comes to a rolling boil, lower the fire to low and give it a good stir. Keep a close eye on the tea and wait until the color from the tea develops (darkens) to your desire. Do not keep like this for too long (more than 2 minutes) as it tends to make the tea taste bitter.
  3.  Switch off the heat. Add the sugar to the tea cup. Strain the tea into the cup. Give it a good stir with a spoon. 
  4. Enjoy with the above spicy Aloo Poha  :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pineapple Coconut Loaf cake

Its been a while since I baked a cake in our toaster oven. I mean, from the scratch. I wanted to make a cake which had coconut flavor in too. Searching through numerous recipes online I came across Martha Stewart's website where she bakes this cake in an interesting way. She covers the cake midway with foil to avoid the toasted coconut from over-browning. Since this was a loaf cake and I had never made a loaf cake in the oven, I decided to go for this recipe by following some of the recipe suggestions given by the reviewers who made this cake. Moreover it had a good rating.

I love Martha's website, it has lots of interesting exciting ideas related to not just food, but crafts, gardening, decorating etc which has been presented to viewers in a very nice way.

Here is the recipe:

Tools needed:
1 Loaf pan
Silicon Spatula/ Any type of Spatula
Measuring cups


  • 1.5 cups (1 1/2 cups) sweetened shredded coconut 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1.5 cups (1 1/2 cups) all purpose flour (make sure you use a spoon to add flour to the measuring cup rather than just scooping it with the measuring cup as it tends to prevent addition of excess flour and thereby also helps to fold in more air).
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks in juice, drained very well
  • 1 teaspoon almond/vanilla extract (optional)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Spread the coconut on a parchment paper/wax paper lined rimmed baking sheet
  3. Toast the coconut for 6-10 min until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Set aside
  4. Butter a 9 by 5 inch (8 cups) loaf pan. Flour lightly (if needed you line it with wax paper and do the same ). Set aside
  5. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one, folding each egg before adding the next egg. Add the Almond/vanilla essence
  6. Sift the all purpose flour. Fold it in three parts, along with two parts of sour cream to the egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  7. Using the spatula, fold pineapple and half the toasted coconut into the batter
  8. Smooth and even the top. Sprinkle the remaining coconut on the top of the batter.
  9. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes (cover the pan foil halfway through)
  10. Do a toothpick test to confirm whether the cake is done
This cake can be stored at room temperature covered in plastic for 2 days. It refrigerates well too.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Homemade seasoned Paneer

The sun has been blazing hot for the past couple of weeks here. There is no sign anywhere, be it weather channel or on Internet about any cool breeze coming to MA anytime soon....With temperatures as high as >90 degree F, the Air Conditioner is merrily working for longer hour these days....We are almost sure that this month's electricity bill is going to amaze us :-p.......Well to look towards the positive side, let me just say that, at least the equipment started working without making us pay in $$$$ to get it repaired when it refused to cool the house for a few weeks in May when I was fretting. Hence I am not gonna complain about the bill, that's up to us anyways !

How have you been dealing with the summer? ........Hope all of you had a great Father's day !....I wish I could say that loud, my father passed away three years back , but he still lives in my heart, hence I quietly wished him that day.

I don't know when I started craving for Paneer this summer, but it was worth it, because I learned to make the Paneer which by itself is bland when added to curries/grilled as the flavor does not get into the cheese much, even if they are marinated. I at least wanted it to have a salt taste if not anything else. I came upon the video of Hetal and Anuja of Show Me The Curry fame, when I was just browsing their website. They have indeed done a good job about showing how to make Paneer more tasty. I experimented their method of making spiced Paneer with 1/2 gallon whole milk (8 cups of milk) and 1/4 cup lemon juice and it turned out very good. I didn't have my camera handy then, so could not click any pictures. Yesterday I bought one gallon Whole Milk and made paneer with it and I went one step ahead and grilled it for better storage and also got pretty grill marks on most of the paneer cubes :) . So let me tell you how I made it exactly:

Recipe for Homemade Spiced Paneer


Whole Milk : 1 gallon (around 16 cups of milk)
Lemon (Lime) juice (concentrate) : 2/3 cup
Salt: 1/2 teaspoon

Equipments/Accessories needed:

- Cheese cloth for sieving/straining the paneer from the whey
- 2 deep wide and deep bottom vessel which can hold more than 16 cups of milk (one for boiling milk and the other for collecting the whey)


  • Bring the milk to boil in a deep wide vessel (preferably non stick) while continuing to stir the milk

  • Add the Lemon juice and stir while adding it. Lower the fire once completely added. 

  • Add more lemon juice if the milk has not curdled well. You can verify this when you see the light greenish color water well separated from the curdled milk solids. 
  • Switch off the fire and let it sit for a few minutes (3-4 minutes)
  • Meanwhile prepare the cheesecloth on the second deep and wide vessel for straining the milk solids from the whey. The whey is a multipurpose stock which can be used in gravies, and soups. Its not compulsory to collect the whey, its up to you. I tied a rubber band around the cheesecloth binding it around the collecting vessel so that the cheesecloth doesn't collapse inside the vessel when we pour the mixture to be strained. I forgot to click that picture. I am sorry I missed it.
  • After all the contents in the first vessel is completely poured in the cheesecloth, gather the ends of the cheesecloth and hold them above the vessel which has the whey and squeeze to drain out the excess whey.

  • Now tie the ends or wrap the ends of the cheesecloth holding the curdled milk solids around the tap of your kitchen sink. The aim is to drain the whey using gravity of the solids on the cheesecloth when its suspended from a fixed source (in technical terms :-DD ). You may use any similar set up for straining. Leave on this way for 45 minutes.

  • Now unwrap the cheesecloth. You should get a beautiful ball of paneer which has to undergo one more step, well, can be two more if you want spiced paneer. At this point , transfer the paneer to a dry bowl. Crumble the paneer using your hand. It need not be crumbled too much, just enough to evenly spread the seasoning: that is salt. You may add other seasoning such as cumin seeds. Add the seasoning, and knead well to get a smooth dough. (Hetal gives a tip that, at this point, along with salt if 1 tablespoon All purpose flour or Maida is added to the Paneer and kneaded, the resulting paneer would have a firmer texture and will not crumble when added to curries or grilled using skewers. I forgot to add the All purpose flour, but you may try it using this method).

  • Tran fer the ball to the cheesecloth and wrap the cheesecloth with nice clean folding steps (so as to prevent the paneer from getting wrinkle marks from the cheesecloth wraps). Place some type of weight on the paneer and keep this for 2 hours. 

  • After two hours, you may cut the paneer into desired shapes and freeze it if you are not going to use it for next few days. You may also refrigerate it , if you are planning to use it in next few days. But to refrigerate, Anuja explains that paneer has to be stored the same way Tofu is stored, that is in water and changing water everyday. This did not work well for me in the refrigerator as the paneer started crumbling. Hence this time I decided to grill it and store it without water in the refrigerator.

To grill Paneer:

Tips: Do not use a aluminium foil while trying to grill in Toaster oven. I learned the hard way that, even though the foil was well greased, the paneer stuck to it in no time during the few minutes it was inside the oven. I ended up removing portions of whole paneer cubes as they were sticking.

 The one fool proof way to grill paneer is to use a non-stick grill . I didn't have to keep brushing oil every time.

And with the grill I used (George Foreman lean mean grilling machine which is an Indoor grill) the paneer never stuck. And they got beautiful grill marks too (I grilled for 2-3 minutes max. Yayy :) You may store these in a air tight container in the refrigerator or freeze it. These can be used this way in curries.

I hope you would all try this.


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