Saturday, March 28, 2015

Chicken Tikka | Easy Indian Chicken Recipes

This is a simple chicken side dish/appetizer recipe which does not need too much effort. Just marinate/refrigerate/thread and grill. You could cut the chicken pieces to any size you want, I just kept it small to please my little one. I have not used any food coloring but you may do so if you like. Just a few drops/a pinch of red food coloring with the marinade will work. 

Serves - 1-2
Chicken - 150 g, cubed (I used boneless skinless chicken thighs)
Red bell pepper - 1
Green bell pepper - 1
Onion - 1 cup, cubed
Curd / Greek Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Ginger Garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste

Mix the marinade ingredients well and check for seasoning. Add the chicken, bellpeppers cut to 1" cubes and onion. Mix well and store in the refrigerator until ready to grill. Minimum of 2 hours to maximum 24 hours. Mix once every 4 hours to enable even distribution of the marinade. 
Soak 2-3 bamboo skewers in water for about 30 minutes. Thread the chicken alternating with peppers and onions into the skewers.
Heat a cast-iron skillet with about 2 tbsp of oil. Place the skewers on the pan with medium heat. Turn over with a tongs every minute or so for even browning. Cooking in medium heat is recommended so that there is a beautiful char on the outside but still the insides are cooked through. Remove from heat and serve on the stick or a plate. Squeeze fresh lemon juice before serving.
If using just chicken you could use this marinade for 1/4 kg (1/2 lb) of chicken or double as needed.
Typically artificial red color is added to achieve the tikka color. It is purely personal preference again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

When you have a craving for Mac and Cheese, you have to make it right away. But I didn't want to go for the boxed varieties with too many processed ingredients, names of many I wouldn't even be able to pronounce. Again a craving can be something that isn't too indulging. Ok, you could stop reading right now and think "why would you want to eat mac and cheese if it is skinny/healthy". I say, why not?! The cheese sauce I used here for mac and cheese has cauliflower in it with cottage cheese. Doing something good for your body while eating something you crave.. Win-Win!
Psst.. It is a good way to sneak vegetables in to your kids..
Serves - 4
Macaroni pasta, dry - 1 cup
Cauliflower florets - 1-1/2 cups
Water/Vegetable Stock - 1-1/2 cups
Cottage cheese - 1 cup
Cheddar cheese - 2 oz (60 g)
Parmesan cheese - 2 tbsp
Ground nutmeg - 1/8 tsp
Salt & pepper - to taste
Bread crumbs - 1/2 cup
Melted Butter - 1 tbsp
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Cook the macaroni pasta in salted boiling water for about 7 minutes (that was 2 minutes less than the required time). Drain and set aside, covered. 
Mix 1 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and butter in a bowl.
Boil cauliflower in salted water for 5-7 minutes until soft. Scoop out the florets and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Reserve water. Puree in a blender/food processor until smooth, using the boiled water to thin out if needed. Add the cottage cheese and puree again. Return the cauliflower-cheese puree to the saucepan and add half of the reserved water. Add the cheddar cheese and allow it to melt in medium heat. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Curdling at this stage is normal because of cottage cheese. Allow the sauce to cool a bit and pulse a couple of times in the food processor. Mix 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese. Mix the pasta to the cheese sauce and pour into a large oven proof baking tray/bowl. Evenly spread the bread crumbs on top. Bake for 30 minutes.
If the top is browning too fast around 15 minutes, cover with foil and continue baking.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Suyyam / Poornam Boorelu | Indian Festival Dishes

Ugadi wishes to all! Today I wanted to share a sweet recipe to make on this festival. Suyyam (aka Pooranam Boorelu in Telugu) is an easy to make sweet when you are pressed for time. The whole thing can be done in less than 30 minutes. How is that for an authentic traditional Indian sweet?
It involves a little bit of multitasking, when the dhal is cooking make the dipping batter ready. I have made this in paniyaram pan, but this can also be deep fried.

Makes 14 suyyams
Chana dhal/Kadala Paruppu - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp
Cardamom powder - a big pinch
Maida / All-purpose flour - 1/2 cup
Rice flour - 2 tbsp (optional)
Salt - a dash
Water - 1/2 cup or more as needed
Wash and place the dhal with 2 cups of water in a sauce pan. Cook the dhal until it is soft but still hold its shape and not mushy. Drain the water and allow it to cool for about 5 mins. In a small jar of the mixie, blend the dhal, sugar and cardamom until the dhal is coarse. Make small balls of the dhal dough.  Set aside covered. This can be made earlier the same day and the dhal balls can be stored in the fridge.Mix the maida, rice flour (if using) and salt well. Add water little by little and make a thick batter, with the consistency of idli batter. Heat a paniyaram pan and add 1 tsp of oil each to the little kuzhis. When it is heated, dip one dhal ball in the batter and drop in the kuzhi. Repeat with the rest of the balls. Cook in medium-high heat for about a minute or two and flip it over. Cook until the batter is cooked through, flipping over until it takes a light brown shade. Serve warm as a snack.
This can also be made without a paniyaram pan. Just deep fry the batter dipped balls in a kadai with oil. 
The rice flour just gives a little crispy bite to the suyyam. If you like a chewy one, just skip the rice flour.
A tablespoon of fresh grated coconut can be added to the dhal filling before making balls.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Minestrone Soup | Soup Recipes

This delicious soup is wholesome and sure to fill you up (and your fridge) for a weeknight dinner. Just pick up a loaf of bread from the supermarket (or bake one if you have time) to pair it up. Or skip the bread altogether, it is awesome by itself.
Now, filling up the fridge part, this recipe serves a great make-ahead meal and is a double amount of what my family has for dinner. So whenever I make this, it serves the next meal too. It can also be frozen.
Serves - 4-6
Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Onion, chopped - 1 cup
Garlic, minced - 4 cloves
Celery, chopped - 2 stalks
Carrot, medium sized, diced - 2
Green beans, chopped - 1 cups
Cauliflower florets - 1 cup
Broccoli florets - 1 cup
Bell peppers, julienned - 1 cup (I used mini peppers)
Dried Italian seasoning - 1 tbsp
Crushed tomatoes from can - 2 cups
Sugar - 1/4 tsp
Vegetable Stock / Chicken stock - 3 cups (Use low sodium variety)
Water - 3 cups (You could substitute stock for water)
Black beans, cooked - 1-1/2 cups (or use 1 can of black beans, rinsed)
Salt & pepper - to taste
Pasta, any small variety - 1/4 cup
Parmesan cheese - to garnish (optional)

Heat oil in a large stockpot and saute the onion, garlic and celery. When the onion takes a light shade of brown add the carrots and green beans and fry for 3 minutes. Now tip in the cauliflower and broccoli florets and saute for another 2 minutes. Now add the bell peppers and the italian seasoning. Add the crushed tomatoes and sugar. Now add the stock and water with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the soup to come to a boil. Add the black beans and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Add the pasta and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot in a bowl, topped with parmesan cheese.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Kollu Rasam | Rasam Recipes

Kollu rasam is my go-to type of soup to make when a cold is going around in my home. It is warm and spicy and just what one needs when down with a bad cold. I know, there is nothing like a good cold :).
I have used the water from cooking the horse gram for making rasam. 

Reserved Water from cooking Kollu
Tamarind - Size of half a lime
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Pepper corns - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Horsegram / Kollu - 1 tsp
Dry Red chilli - 1
Ginger - 1/2 inch
Garlic - 2 cloves

Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of warm water. Place the pepper corns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, horsegram in a mixie jar and process until fine. Add the ginger and garlic and pulse twice. Extract tamarind juice and add 2 more cups of water to dilute. Add salt, ground spice mix, turmeric powder. Allow it to boil for 3-5 minutes. Add the reserved water and heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over rice or in a cup.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Kollu Kadayal / Horsegram Chutney | South Indian Curries

Horse gram is a type of beans eaten widely in South India. It is a lesser known variety of lentils but has numerous health benefits. Horse gram rasam (soup) is good for treating cold and the beans itself is known for aiding weight loss. 
I have used sprouted horse gram in this recipe, but horse gram which is cleaned and soaked overnight (non-sprouted) can also be used. I have used the beans cooked water in another recipe kollu rasam which is my next post.

Sprouted horse gram - 1 cup
Water - 2-1/2 cups
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Garlic cloves - 2
Red onion, chopped (or) Pearl onions - 1/2 cup
Dry Red chillies - 2
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

Pressure cook the kollu with water, turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp of salt for about 4-5 whistles. When done, drain and reserve the water for rasam. We are going to use this water in the kollu rasam recipe. Heat oil in a pan and splutter the cumin seeds. Add the red chillis, onion and garlic. Fry until the onions turn soft. Add the cooked dhal, salt to taste and mix. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Blend in a mixie jar until slightly coarse. Serve mixed with hot rice and gingelly oil. Heaven in a morsel!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Very Berry Muffins | Muffins and Quick Bread Recipes

The market is brimming with fresh berries and I couldn't resist picking up a pack of bright strawberries from my farmer's market trip on Sunday. The berries were super fresh and tasted just out of this world. Fruits definitely taste best in their peak season.
I made this mixed berry muffins a couple of weeks ago with a mix of leftover berries from the fridge. These days I find myself baking muffins very frequently. Whenever I do, I bake and freeze half of the batch. Whenever I or my LO crave a snack, I just pull one muffin out from the freezer and warm it in the microwave oven for 30-60 seconds.
Makes 10 standard sized muffins; 
Preparation time 15 mins; Baking time - 25 mins
All purpose flour / Maida - 2 cups
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt  - 1/4 tsp
Sugar - 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp
Oil - 1/4 cup
Eggs - 2 (room temperature)
Buttermilk - 1/2 cup
Vanilla - 2 tsp
lemon zest/orange zest - 2 tsp
Mixed Berries - 1-1/2 cups (I used a mix of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries)

Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C. Line a muffin tin with liners or grease with oil. Mix the first three ingredients in a bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with sugar. Add the oil, buttermilk, vanilla and citrus zest and whisk again. Add the dry ingredients slowly and mix until no streaks of flour remain. Do not beat or mix more than needed. Fold in the berries with a spatula. Fill in the muffin tin until full. Pop in the oven for 5 mins and reduce the heat to 350 F/180 C and bake for another 17-20 mins or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool it a little and serve warm. This muffins can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Note: Do not open the oven door after 5 minutes when you reduce the heat.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dal Makhani | Indian Curry Recipes

Dal Makhani aka Maa di Dhal is a dish from the state of Punjab in India. Traditionally it is cooked slowly by simmering in low heat from which it gets its rich creamy texture. It was something which I never thought of making at home. But being a food blogger is to break open the boundaries and getting out of the comfort zone to try and cook with ingredients which is new to me. I wouldn't say the black urad dhal is new to south indian cooking. It is a main ingredient in azhagar koil dosai, a dosa recipe famous in the Madurai region of Tamil Nadu. I also remember my mom soaking this whole black urad dhal with skin in water for making idli batter, before the advent of skinned urad dhal. She would patiently rub the soaked dhal and remove the skin by washing. 

Serves - 4-6
Whole Urad dhal (with skin) - 1 cup (160 ml)
Kidney Beans / Rajma - 2 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Onion, chopped - 1 cup
Tomato, ripe - 2
Green chilli - 1
Ginger, grated - 1 tsp
Garlic, grated - 1 tsp
Kashmiri Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Cream/ Half & Half / Evaporated milk - 120 ml (more or less per taste)
Water - 2-3 cups

Wash the beans together. In a pressure cooker place the dhal and beans with 4 cups of water, turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp of salt and pressure cook for 6 whistles. The dhals can be alternatively soaked for 6-8 hours. In that case cooking for 2 whistles should be good. When done, mash the dhals slightly and set aside. In a saucepan, heat oil and saute the onions until they are translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute or so. Add the finely chopped tomatoes with a pinch of salt and fry until it is well mashed. Add the chilli powder, garam masala powder and salt (to taste) and mix for a minute. Add the cooked dhal with 2 cups of water. If the dhal is too thick you may add another cup of water. Check for seasoning and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cream and mix. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Serve hot with some rotis/jeera rice.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Blueberries and Cream Oatmeal | Baby & Toddler Food Ideas

'One should never shop on an empty stomach' is a good saying. You end up buying more than you need. That is true. In my case I got this can of evaporated milk thinking of making some dessert way back in November which was on sale for Thanksgiving. It had been sitting in my pantry often noticed, but never cared for. 
The other day I opened this can to make a creamy pasta sauce from scratch. I did not use it up all and it was sitting in my fridge for a couple of days. One fine morning, I decided to make a creamy blueberry oatmeal hoping that my little one will have for breakfast. He loves anything blueberries. But since he was becoming more picky off late, I offered him his usual favorite cereal with milk. He had happily. Coming again to the point that I had to finish off the evaporated milk I still made this creamy blueberry oatmeal later that morning. When it was done, the food blogger in me nudged 'It looks blog-worthy, why don't you take a few clicks'. And so when I was laying the setup, pulling the table near to the window, placing it in cups to picture, he got all interested and said in a sing-song tone.. "yummy yummy blueberry mum-mum". He did give me 5 minutes to click as much as I wanted and then demanded a taste. We set out to finish one cup later.
Serves - 2
Rolled Oats - 1 cup
Whole Milk - 1 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Evaporated milk - 1/4 cup
Maple Syrup - 4 tsp or to taste
Salt - a pinch
Blueberries - 1/2-3/4 cup
In a medium glass (microwave safe) bowl, mix the oats, milk and salt. Microwave for 4-5 minutes, stirring once in between. Add the maple syrup, blueberries, evaporated milk and mix. Microwave for one more minute and allow a standing time of 2 minutes. Divide into two bowls and serve hot.
Alternate Stove top method:
Boil milk and water until just hot. Add the oats and salt and cook in medium heat until most of the milk is absorbed. Add the maple syrup, blueberries and evaporated milk. Mix and heat until warm. Divide and serve.
In the stovetop method, if you need a creamy, gooey consistency of the oats, add the oats and salt when the milk is still cold and then start cooking.
Notes: Adjust sweetness and amount of blueberries to your taste.
Looking for oatmeal with fruits? Check out my Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal and Mango Oatmeal.