Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vengayathal Thovayal / Spring Onion Chutney

Scallions or spring onion greens are the essential part for garnishing soups and many asian foods. But what happens to the white part of the spring onions. I try to sneak them in place of regular onions whenever possible. This chutney is one such way where you can make the best use of spring onions.

Spring onion - 1/2 cup - chopped light green and white part
Urad dhal - 1-1/2 tsp
Dry red chillies - 2 (see notes below)
Grated Coconut - 4 tbsp
Tamarind - size of a marble
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp

Soak the tamarind in 2 tbsp of water. Heat 1/2 tsp of oil and fry the chopped spring onions until wilted. Remove and set aside to cool. Heat the remaining oil and fry the urad dhal chillies until the dhal turns light brown. Remove and set to cool. Grind the coconut, dhal, chilli, onions and tamarind (discard soaked water) with salt in a blender until almost smooth. Sprinkle little water as needed. Serve as a side. 
2 red chillies was a right amount of heat for our family. You could add upto 4 based on your heat tolerance.
Serving suggestion: Put a dollop of this thovayal on hot steaming rice. Add 1/2 tsp of gingelly oil. Mix and enjoy!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Carrot Halwa / Gajar Halwa | Indian Sweets Recipes

Happy Holi Everyone! Holi is not the only celebration today. It is also my father's birthday. He is turning 60 today. I am happy to post this delicious carrot halwa on this occasion and wish him a very happy birthday!
I have made carrot halwa only a couple of times. Though it takes a long time to make this sweet, all the work done will be very fruitful when you see your family enjoy it.
Carrot halwa tastes great on its own. But a must-try serving suggestion from me.. Top the warm carrot halwa with a scoop or two of vanilla icecream...bliss..

Measurements in standard cups;
Preparation time - 15 mins; Cooking time - 45 minutes
Carrots - 6 medium sized (4 cups grated)
Low fat Milk - 3-1/2 cups 
Sugar - 1 cup (or a little less)
Ghee - 3 tsp
Cashew nuts - 5
Slivered almonds - 1 tsp
Grate the carrots in the grater with the bigger teeth. Heat a wide non-stick pan with 1 tsp of ghee. Fry the cashews and almonds for a minute or two. Remove and set aside. Heat 2 tsp of ghee in the same pan and fry the carrots for 4-5 minutes. Add the milk, mix well and cook in medium-high heat. Cook for about 25-30 minutes or until all but a little milk remains. Mix once every 5 minutes to help the carrots cook and allow the milk to evaporate faster. When most of the milk is evaporated, add the sugar and mix well. Continue to cook until the sugar is completely melted and the halwa gets a glossy look, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the fried nuts. Mix well and serve. This also tastes good chilled.
Notes: I strongly recommend using a non-stick pan for this recipe. It makes the cleanup so much easier with almost no or minimum wastage. Also I need not have to baby-sit this halwa. Just set the timer every 5 minutes and do something else.
Use whole milk if you like a richer texture. I have used low-fat milk and it works fine for me.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Aloo Capsicum Fry / Crispy Potato Bell Pepper Fry (Low-oil Recipe)

Ever wondered if you can make crispy potatoes with less oil. Yes, you can. Like any food potatoes need a cooking medium. For crispy potatoes the cooking medium would be oil which comes loaded with calories. So I used a shortcut and cooked the potatoes in water, just boiled them, no biggie. Then using very little oil and with a great help from a non-stick pan*, I finished this fry. Baby potatoes look beautiful while regular potatoes work perfectly well too.
* - Always use non-stick pan which have coating intact and pass on the ones which have scratches.

Serves - 2-3
Baby potatoes - 5
Green bell pepper - 1
Oil - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Curry Powder - 3/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Boil and peel the potatoes. Cut into thin wedges. Cut the bell pepper into thin strips.
Heat a non-stick pan and spray some oil and saute the bell peppers for a couple of minutes. Remove and set aside. Heat oil in the same pan in medium heat and add the garlic paste, spice powders and salt. Mix well and add the cut potato wedges. Increase the heat to med-high and swirl around for about 2-3 minutes. Throw in the bell peppers and continue to fry until the potatoes form a nice crust on them. Remove and serve hot as a side. We loved it with creamy curd rice.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Garlic Pearl Onion Rice | Infant & Toddler Food Ideas | Indian Rice Recipes

Don't get scared by the name.. Garlic and onion rice. Aren't those major foods which demand a breath mint. Trust me when I say this rice has medicinal qualities. Garlic and Onions fried in ghee and mixed with hot rice relieves gas and indigestion. But you would not believe how super tasty this rice would be. My 20 mo just loves this for the flavour of crispy fried onions in ghee. This recipe here serves three people, just a couple of morsels per person should be taken.
Serves - 3
Steaming Cooked Rice - 2 cups (1 cup-240 ml)
Pearl onions / Sambar onions - 12
Garlic - 10 
Fresh Ground Pepper - a big pinch
Salt - a big pinch
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Peel the pearl onions and garlic and chop very finely. Heat ghee in a tawa and fry the chopped onions and garlic until it starts to turn brown. Take care not to burn them. Remove from heat and mix in the salt and pepper. Now add the hot steaming rice and mix really well, taking care not to break the grains. Serve hot.
Notes: Pearl onions shall not be replaced by regular onions and don't skip ghee either.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Vegetarian Three Bean Chili / Chili Sin Carne | Vegan Chili

This post is due for a while now. Remember I told about my Valentine's day menu plan in my Orange Blueberry Cake post? Our Dinner was Onion Garlic Foccacia with this Vegetarian Three bean Chili. Since we did not make any plans to go out, I decided to make what I though DH would love for a good dinner. I had done all the chopping the previous day and kept in the refrigerator, soaked the beans overnight and cooked them in the morning. And when I had made the foccacia bread in the afternoon, this rarely took an hour to be finished. Dinner on the table without too much stress. Nothing elegant but it was hearty and home-made.

Serves - 6-8; Preparation time - 8 hours; Cooking time - 1 hr.
Adapted from Cooking light - Way to cook vegetarian cookbook
Measurements in standard cups and spoons
Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Onion - 1 cup - chopped
Celery - 2 stalks - approx 1 cup chopped 
Carrots, medium sized  - 4 - cubed
Garlic cloves - 4 - sliced thin
Red bell peppers - 2
Cumin powder - 2 tsp
Paprika - 1 tsp (see notes for substitution)
Red pepper flakes - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp or to taste
Vegetable broth (Low sodium) - 4 cups - click here for homemade stock recipe
Crushed tomatoes - 1-28 oz can
Dry Kidney beans - 2/3 cup (see notes)
Dry Black beans - 2/3 cup
Dry Pinto beans - 2/3 cup
Spring onions / Green onions - 1/4 cup
Pick over and soak all the beans together for 8 hours or overnight. Cook with 6 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt in a pressure cooker for 1 whistle. Alternatively the beans can be cooked in stove top until cooked through. Preheat the broiler. Slice the red bell peppers in half lengthwise and place cut side down in a foil lined baking pan. Broil for 12-15 minutes or until the skin is charred. When done place in a glass bowl with a tight fitting lid for about 15 minutes. This lets the bell peppers to sweat and helps easy removal of skin. After removing the skin cut into bite sized pieces. 
In a heavy saucepan, heat oil and saute the chopped onions and celery until cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, cumin, paprika, pepper flakes and salt. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers, carrots, vegetable broth and canned tomatoes. Mix well and check for salt. Cover and cook in medium heat until the carrots are cooked, about 15 minutes. Add the cooked beans and mix. Cover and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until the desired thickness is achieved. Serve hot topped with green onions.
Instead of dry beans, use canned beans, one of each kind. Kashmiri chilli powder can be substituted for paprika. 
Linking this up to Priya's Vegan Thursdays.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Onion and Garlic Foccacia | Vegan Italian Recipes

Bread making had always intimidated me. I mean, working with yeast has always been scary. But when you zero in on the menu to make for one special evening, you got to roll up your sleeves and be ready to face your fear. Ok, I am not talking about a huge wrestling competition. My menu had Foccacia and Vegetarian chili to be made on Valentine's day. Foccacia is a pretty simple yeasted bread that can be made by anyone with no experience in leavened bread.

All purpose flour / Maida - 3 cups
Salt - 1-1/2 tsp
Active dry yeast - 2 tsp
Sugar - a pinch
Warm Water - 3/4 cup to 1 cup
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 3 tbsp + 2 tbsp + more for greasing
Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
Italian seasoning - 1 tsp
Onion - thinly sliced - 1/2 cup
Garlic - 3 cloves - julienne

Sieve the flour and salt together. Place the yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Pour 3/4 cup of lukewarm* water over it and allow the yeast to bloom, about 3-5 minutes. Mix 3 tbsp of oil to the water. Pour the warm water with yeast over the flour and knead together to form a dough, sprinkling water as needed. After the dough comes together, knead for about 5 minutes. Place in a well oiled glass bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Place in a warm place for about 2 hours to rise, or it doubles it size. Punch down the dough and spread it in a 9x9 square pan greased with olive oil. If the dough does not spread to the whole pan, give it a few minutes and try again. When the dough is fully spread in the pan, make little dimples all over it with the index finger. Mix the italian seasoning with 2 tbsp of oil and brush all over the dough. Spread the onion and garlic and gently press over the dough. Bake the bread for 40-45 minutes, in an oven preheated to 375 F.
Cool the pan over the cooling rack. Slice the bread into little pieces and serve.
Notes: This foccacia is thick enough to slice for a sandwich. To help the dough rise, I preheated my oven to "Warm" mode for a couple of minutes and then turned it off and placed the dough inside to rise.
*Lukewarm - warm to the touch, like a baby's bottle.