Monday, 20 March 2017

627. Sweet Potato and Pasta Salad

Drought--A national disaster

         2016 did not bring enough rains to many parts of Kenya. Fast forward to 2017 and out of 47 counties 23 which are arid or semi arid parts of Kenya are facing drought. Rivers have dried up, animals and humans are dying without food. A National and International appeal has been sent out to help these areas with food and water. NGOs, Charity organisations, Private companies all have sent out foodstuff, but that is not enough. If the long rains do not arrive by April, then many more will die without food.
         
        Nakumatt has put a huge box near its exit if anyone would wish to buy some foodstuff to be donated. Every time I pass the box its empty! People cannot afford to buy foodstuff to give away as they themselves are barely making ends meet with the high cost of basic food stuff. The basic 2 kg maizemeal packet which is required to make the staple food ugali or sima is selling at more than Ksh 130/- (approx $1.26). A 2 kg packet is enough for to prepare one meal for an average family of 4. Vegetables like tomatoes, onion, are are about $1 per kg. 500ml milk packet is 48c. When income for a lot of people is about a dollar a day, its impossible to make ends meet.

         Its been so hot here with temperatures of 34-35°C that its not possible to spend long hours in the kitchen. When the #FoodieMonday#Bloghop group decided on #Pastamania as the 84th theme, I wanted to make ravioli but the was just too hot. Daughter and hubby were also demanding a lighter lunch so I opted to make a filling salad. This salad can be served warm or cold. I served it cold.






SWEET POTATO AND PASTA SALAD
Serves 4 or 2 as a light meal

1 medium(approx 500g) sweet potato
¼ cup lightly roasted pine nuts
¼ cup any other nuts of your choice (walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds etc) - I             used boiled peanuts that I had in the fridge
2 tbsp olive oil
12-14 mint leaves
1 cup cooked pasta ( any shape)
10-12 spinach leaves (or 12-20 baby spinach leaves)
2-3 tbsp dried cranberries

Passion fruit Dressing:
7 passion fruits
1 tbsp water
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp honey/maple syrup
½ tsp coarse pepper powder
¼ tsp chilli flakes


  1. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into chunks. Parboil them. Remove the chunks from the water and let it cool completely.
  2. Cut the sweet potato chunks into small cubes.
  3. Heat olive oil a wide pan over medium heat.
  4. Add the diced sweet potato and roast them till they appear a bit crunchy.
  5. Put the sweet potato into a big salad bowl.
  6. Add the boiled pasta. 
  7. If you are using normal spinach then you may want to cut the leaves into bite size pieces. If you're using baby spinach, add it to the pasta mixture.
  8. Add the nuts, mint leaves and dried cranberries.Mix the salad.
Preparation of the dressing:
  1. Remove the pulp from the passion fruit. Leave pulp from one on the side.
  2. Put the pulp from 6 passion fruits into a blender along with a tbsp of water.
  3. Blend it in short bursts. You don't want to grind the seeds.
  4. Strain the mixture through a sieve to get the passion fruit juice.
  5. Add salt, honey, pepper and chilli flakes to the juice and mix it well.
  6. Add the pulp you kept on the side and mix well.
  7. The dressing is ready.
Just before serving the salad add the dressing and mix or serve the dressing on the side.

Tips:
  • To roast pine nuts, put them in a wide pan and roast for 1 minute over low heat, stirring them continuously.
  • Light roast the nuts if you're not using boiled peanuts.
  • Add any tangy fruit of your choice to replace the cranberries.
  • You can peel and dice the sweet potato. Rub olive oil over it and roast it in the oven at 180°C till done.
  • ¾ cup raw pasta will give 1 cup cooked pasta.
You may want to check out other pasta dishes:

mum's buitoni
spaghetti with vegetarian 'bolognese' sauce
Sending this recipe for the following event:


   

Friday, 17 March 2017

626. Dried Grapes Achaar (Pickle)

GUEST NO. 5 ON THE BLOG

  I'm trying to feature my family and friends on my blog weekly. However, last week I couldn't feature any guest as I was down with a bad flu and fever. Still getting over the nasty cough, its very persistent.
  
  This week my guest is my sister in law Arti (my brother's wife). When I asked her to write a recipe for the blog, her immediate reaction was 'ahahhaa that's not me Mayuriben that is something you do! I don't measure and cook, I don't know what to make' and the excuses kept on coming. I suggested that she should make her famous cranberry pickle but immediately realized that its not cranberry season. (shhh we'll get her to give us the recipe when cranberries are in season ;)) Anyway I left it up to her to decide what she would like to make and of course measure (she hates that). After a few weeks, my whatsapp is busy "toinking" away. I check my mobile to see who is persistently sending me messages and its Arti with a recipe!

  Arti is the baby of not only her side of the family but ours too.She's younger than my sister so that makes her the baby. However, as soon as she stepped into our house, she had to act with maturity as our bhabhi (sister in law)and daughter in law as most Indian women have to after marriage. It took her a while to adjust to the conservative family. Arti is someone who can voice out her opinion without hesitation, that's makes her appear too brash or impolite. However, that she isn't. Its just that people tend to misunderstand. Her forte is certainly not cooking,but has one of the most beautiful kitchen's to boast about.Her kitchen is where our huge family gathers. Its here over drinks and meals that we all catch up and bond. She has the amazing quality of organizing for parties and adding the fun factor to it.My other bhabhi has to take care of the food part. She thinks of small details which others may miss out on. Whenever I have asked for help, she's always there in person or as an ardent supporter. She practically helped to organize many of the pre- wedding functions during my son's wedding and for my daughter's wedding though she couldn't come to Bangalore early, her meaningful suggestions and support was there from day one. She loves her daughter to bits... most of do as she's so adorable. As a parent of a cerebral palsy child, it takes a lot of courage and strength to smile and get through each day. But Arti does that.  She takes pride in having some of the most beautiful orchids.Let me tell you, its not easy growing orchids indoors in UK but she has managed.If I ever need a good shoulder to cry on, I'm lucky, I get two... my brother's shoulder and Arti's too.

  Arti decided to share with us her dried grapes achar (pickle) which she tried out for the first time and the family loved it. She doesn't follow any specific recipe to make pickles, neither does she have any traditional recipes handed down to her. She has her own style of making delectable, easy and quick pickles.

From Arti:
   Mayuriben, my sister in law(my husband's elder sister) is like a sister to me. She is one person who is not judgmental about who or what I am.Even when I complain to her about my husband, she doesn't take sides but listens patiently or gives the right advise. I know I can always count on her should I need any help or support. I admire her organisational skills, her charity work through Lions and how she is an all rounder in most fields. She has brought up 3 wonderful children (my nephews and niece) who we are so proud of. I'm blessed to have her in my life.

Arti's passion---her Orchids

Tulsi (Holy Basil) also doing so well :)




DRIED GRAPES ACHAAR(PICKLE)

1 large(40-50 grapes) bunch of seedless grapes
2 tbsp ready made Achaar masala (ready pickle masala)
1 tsp salt
Juice from 1 lime
3-4 tbsp oil
 jam sugar -optional if the grapes are a bit sour


  1. First 3 days dry the grapes on the bunch in the sun. (she kept it in the sunny part of her kitchen)
  2. Pluck off the grapes from the bunch. Dry them further for 2 weeks.
  3. Once they are semi dry, cut the grapes into halves.
  4. Put the dried grapes in a bowl.
  5. Add lime juice, salt and pickle masala. Mix well. Add sugar if you're using any. 
  6. Heat the oil and let it cool.
  7. Add to the grape mixture and mix well.
  8. Transfer the pickle to a jar.
  9. I don't think you'll need to put it in the fridge as it may get over soon.
Tips:
  • If the grapes are a bit tangy or sour then add little sugar.
  • Add sufficient oil so that you can use the oil to drizzle over rice, khichdi or snacks. It also helps to preserve the fruit or vegetable that is pickled.
  • Use any ready pickle masala that is available at your local Indian grocery shop.
Meeting place for our huge family and friends - a warm friendly kitchen

You may want to check out what other guests have prepared:
Gluten free pizza crust
Eggless Zucchini Bread Muffins

Baked Bread Pudding
Tangy Creamy Potato Curry






Wednesday, 15 March 2017

625. Peanut and Fruit Salad (Chaat)

Peanut and Fruit Salad(Chaat) #Fantastical Food Fight
Trying to eat healthy
   
   When you're a food blogger and food is your passion, its pretty difficult to stay away from all those tempting recipes out there in the cyber world and cook books. I get tempted to try out so many recipes and the more calories it has the temptation level is that much higher!
    
    Recently I joined this group called Fantastical Food Fight. I got tempted to join after I saw the absolutely tempting cookies made by Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories. After I oooooogled at the photos till I was drooling, she suggested that we should check out what other members of the group had made. I scrolled down and recipes had me salivating. 

    Just when I joined, the theme for March happen to be PB&J (peanut butter and jelly).And I thought oh no here goes out the healthy eating... but as I read on further, Sarah Ellis (host of the group) mentioned that peanuts and fruit should be a part of the recipe. Phew!!!!!! I decided to make a super healthy peanut and fruit salad. Blessed with loads of tropical fruits here in Kenya, I used both mango and avocado, along with pomegranate to add a bit of tart taste. I soaked and cooked the peanuts with salt and turmeric powder. As you all know, turmeric powder (haldi) is a must in any Indian's spice box. Turmeric has been used for centuries in Indian cooking and also as medicine. I remember if any of us had a cut or bruises my mum would apply a paste of turmeric powder. If we had colds and coughs, warm water with turmeric and honey was our medicine. Read the benefits of turmeric here.








PEANUT AND FRUIT SALAD(CHAAT)

½ cup raw peanuts
1 medium tomato or 10-12 cherry tomatoes
1 small avocado
1 small ripe mango(ripe but firm)
½ cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
½ cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
¼ cup chopped fresh spring onion (scallion)
½ tsp pink salt or sea salt or normal table salt
¼ tsp cumin seed powder
¼ tsp chilli flakes
¼ tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Soak the peanuts overnight in warm water.
  2. Next day drain out the water, wash the peanuts. 
  3. Put the peanuts in a pan with enough water, ¼ tsp salt(from the measured salt) and turmeric powder. Cook the peanuts till done.( I used a pressure cooker and allowed the peanuts to cook till 1 whistle)
  4. Drain out the excess water and let the peanuts cool.
  5. In the meantime get the other ingredients ready. If you're using a normal tomato, cut it into half and remove the pulp and seeds.Dice the tomato.
  6. Peel and dice the mango and avocado. Sprinkle a bit of lemon juice over the avocado.
  7. Put the peanuts, chopped fruits, chopped coriander and spring onion into a big serving bowl.
  8. Add remaining salt, chilli flakes, cumin powder and lemon juice. 
  9. Mix the salad well. Serve as a light meal or as an accompaniment to a main meal. Super healthy and filling.
Tips:
  • If you don't like boiled peanuts, use roasted but boiled ones taste much better for this salad.
  • Use fruits of your choice.
  • I haven't used a dressing but you can add a dressing of your choice.
  • For cumin powder, roast the cumin seeds in a pan over low heat, till you get a grassy aroma. Don't burn them. Cool a bit and powder it in a herb mill or using a rolling pin or a mortar and pestle.
Check out what other members have made for the PB&J theme:







Sending this recipe for to the following event:




Tuesday, 14 March 2017

624. Irish Freckle Bread#BreadBakers

IRISH FRECKLE BREAD#BREADBAKERS

HAPPY ST.PATRICK'S DAY
  
   Isn't it wonderful to be part of cooking groups where one can learn not only about cooking about also about different cultures and festivals. So,though I've heard about St. Patrick's Day and know that the Irish celebrate it, I've till today never really bothered to find out what the festival is all about. So there I was sitting at the computer and asking Mr. Google all the hows and whys of this festival.
  
  So my understanding is that St.Patrick's Day is celebrated by the Irish world over on 17th March every year.St.Patrick the patron saint of Ireland died on 17th March.He was not Irish but came from Britain. He was kidnapped by Irish raiders and lived in captivity for 6 years. He went back to Britain and came back to Ireland to preach Christianity.What began as a religious feast day in the 17th Century has evolved into a celebration of the Irish culture globally with parades, special music and dance,food and wearing green.
  
  It is believed that St.Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon.It is believed that St.Patrick used the 3 leaves of the Irish clover, Shamrock to explain the 3 Trinity (Father, Son and the Holy Spirit).
  
 During the Potato Famine close to 1 million Irish emigrated to America. Parades to mark St. Patrick's Day were begun by the Irish in America. St. Patrick's colour was blue and not green. Initially the Irish Catholics wore the Shamrock emblem to symbolise their faith. Green was associated to the Emerald green land back home and also the colour of the Shamrock. Green was associated to the Irish Revolution. People started wearing green during St.Patrick's Day and till today Green is the main colour that one sees in parades, clothing, celebrations, food etc
  
  To celebrate St. Patrick's Day our co member of the group Wendy Klik , blogger at A Day in the Life on the Farm asked us to share our favourite Irish bread--- sweet, colored, rainbow, rye, or soda. Green bread didn't sound that appealing so the tussle was between a soda bread and a sweet bread made using potato. Irish freckle bread won(I love sweet breads). Thank you Wendy for encouraging me through your theme to widen my knowledge about the Irish culture.

  The bread is called an Irish Freckle Bread because of the raisins/currants/ cranberries that are sprinkled through out the bread. Must admit mine after baking the loaf looked like all one sided rather than scattered. Oh well, as long as the bread tasted delicious. The loaf overall was deliciously sweet, soft and tasted even better when toasted. Don't forget the tonne of butter on the toast (not that I can get that now, do you know that at the moment there is no butter in the supermarkets in Kenya because of the severe drought). Just as well I had baked the bread a week ago!










IRISH FRECKLE BREAD
Makes 1 loaf

1 small potato-peel and cut into quarters
¾ cup water
2½ - 3 cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
2 tsp instant dry active yeast
½ cup dark raisins, currants or cranberries
4-5 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg
50g butter melted and cooled


  1. Boil the potato in the ¾ cup water till done.Remove the cooked potato from the water.
  2. Keep the potato water on the side till required.
  3. Let the potato cool and then mash it.
  4. Put 1½ cup flour, yeast, sugar, salt, mashed potato and ½ cup of potato water in a mixing bowl.
  5. Beat the mixture together till you get a smooth batter.
  6. Cover the bowl with cling film or a wet tea towel and let the batter become all puffy for 1-1½ hours.
  7. Stir down the batter.
  8. Add the beaten egg, butter and raisins. Mix well.
  9. Add remaining flour ½ cup at a time till it becomes a soft elastic dough ball.
  10. Dust the worktop with some flour and turn out the dough.
  11. Knead till it becomes smooth (about 10-15 minutes).
  12. There are three ways to shape the dough: 
a) Cut the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each part into a cylinder about 2" in diameter, the length of the baking tin.Place the cylinders side by side in the prepared tin.
b)Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll each into a ball. Place the balls side by side in the prepared tin.
c) Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Roll each part into a ball. Place the balls in a round tin. The bread will look like a crown.
    13. Prepare the tin (loaf tin 8½" X 4½"). Grease it lightly with butter. If you're making the crown shape then get a 8-9" round tin ready.
    14. Let the shaped dough rise again for 45-50 minutes.
    15. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
    16. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, till the top is golden brown and the bottom when tapped sounds hollow.
    17. If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover it with some foil.
    18. Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a wire rack.
    19. Enjoy the bread toasted or with some jam/marmalade and tea or coffee.

Check out what other Bakers have made to celebrate St. Patrick's Day:

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.


BreadBakers

Monday, 13 March 2017

623. Thandai Malpua with Strawberry Compote

Happy Holi Everyone

  Any festival celebration means food and lots of it. Food, fun, colour, rituals all make a successful celebration. If one is missing then the celebration or festival is not complete. Our #FoodieMonday #Bloghop group decided on #Holi as our 83rd theme. With Holi it means that I've been with this wonderful group for now a year. My first post for the group was a fusion Holi theme. I remember preparing the dish not knowing exactly how it will be received by the other members of the group. Must say they were a friendly group and immediately felt as though I'd known them for years. Its been a great journey of learning new recipes, new cuisines, how to improve photography, drawing strength from eachother in times of need and sharing our lives.
   
  We are constantly chatting over whatsapp in spite of the different time zones. When its our bedtime, Preethi all the way from Singapore will send us a good morning message. When we are awake, Rupal in US is in lala land. None of us have met as such in person but we still are together. If I had to describe them then this is what I would say about each of them:
Alka--- quiet, professional and a mentor
Sujata --- motherly, poised and with a good sense of humour
Preethi--- our morning greeter, well wisher, full of life
Pushpita ---- friendly, kind and our tech wizard
Saswati---- elegant, strong and courageous
Waagmi --- helpful, friendly and a thinker
Kriti --- the youngest in our group is energetic, an achiever and bubbly
Rupal --- timid, funny and sensible
Nisa ---quiet, our tech wizard and helpful

  Making malpuas has been on my 'to do' list for like forever. I simply love the crispy, crunchy sweet malpuas. However, today I decided to make a slightly healthier version (before my daughter and hubby throw me out of the house for ruining their diet plans!), so no frying and not making it overtly sweet. Wanted to try the malpuas with a fruit compote instead of rabri so planned to use fresh orange and strawberries. I loved the fusion malpuas. Not feeling guilty about popping a couple in my mouth as I kept on reminding hubby and daughter that they are not fried! While I'm typing out this post am tempted to sneak out of the room and have another one!
So here's my version of malpuas. Different, a bit healthy, fruity and a satisfying dessert. 









THANDAI MALPUA WITH STRAWBERRY COMPOTE
Makes 14 mini malpuas

For the malpua batter:
½ cup wheat flour (atta)
½ cup plain flour(maida)
¼ cup semolina (sooji)
4 tbsp yogurt
½ cup milk
⅓ - ½ cup water
2 tbsp thandai masala powder
1 tbsp hot milk
4-6 strands of saffron
¼ tsp soda bicarbonate (baking soda) ( to be added just before cooking)

For the syrup:
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup fresh orange juice
4-6 strands of saffron
1 tbsp of finely cut orange rind

For the strawberry compote:
1 cup of chopped fresh strawberries
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1-2 tbsp sugar (optional)

2-3 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter)
2 tbsp of finely chopped nuts

Preparation of malpua batter:

  1. Soak the saffron in the hot milk for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Mix the flours,semolina and thandai masala powder together in a bowl.
  3. Add milk, water, saffron milk and yogurt to the flour mixture.
  4. Mix well to form a thick batter. Cover and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
Preparation of the sugar syrup:
  1. Mix sugar and water in a pan and put it over low to medium heat.
  2. Mix till the sugar melts.
  3. Lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for 5-7 minutes. It will become a little thick. Take the pan off the heat.
  4. Add saffron strands, orange rind and orange juice. Mix well.
  5. Leave the syrup on the side till required.
Preparation of the strawberry compote:
  1. Mix chopped strawberries and juice in a pan.
  2. Put the pan over low heat and let the strawberries cook till they become soft.
  3. Remember to stir the mixture so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and roughly mash the strawberries.
  5. Add sugar if the strawberries are sour. Mix well.
  6. Keep the compote on the side till required.
Preparation of the malpuas:
  1. Add the soda bicarbonate to the batter and mix it well.
  2. I used a mini pancake pan, but you may use any non stick frying pan.
  3. Heat the pan over low heat.
  4. Also heat the syrup so it becomes a bit hot.
  5. Add a few drops of ghee into the pan.
  6. Pour about 2 tbsp of the batter gently into the hot pan just the way we make pancakes.
  7. Let the base cook till its golden brown.
  8. Flip the malpua over and cook till it becomes light golden brown.
  9. Remove the malpua from the pan.
  10. Dip it into the hot syrup and remove it.
  11. Put the malpua on a serving plate.
  12. Repeat steps 4-10 till all the batter is used up.
To serve the malpua:
  1. Top each malpua with a tsp of the compote.
  2. Sprinkle some chopped nuts over it and serve.
Tips:
  • You may use plain flour only instead of the mixture.
  • Add your own spices like coarse pepper powder, cardamom powder and fennel seeds instead of thandai masala.
  • Make compote with any fresh fruit available.
  • Serve the malpua with rabri (thickened sweet milk)
You may want to check out my other Holi recipes:
Thandai Kulfi
Thandai mousse
Kuzhi Paniyarams


Sending this recipe for the following event:




  

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

622. Kuzhi Paniyarams (Paddu)

Have an Environmentally friendly Happy Holi

   The Shhh Cooking Secretly group decided on either fusion or multi-coloured Holi recipes as their February theme. My partner Janani Krishnakumaar gave the ingredients rice and vegetables.Janani is a blogger at Red Chilly Curry.A vegetarian blog, she has many South Indian recipes, Christmas goodies, festival dishes and much more.Check her blog out. 

   After a series of sweet dishes one after the other (entertaining guests) I didn't want to make any sweet dish or something unhealthy. Since I've bought the paddu or paniyaram pan(chatli), I've always tried out various types of paddus and other bhajia mixtures with much success. The only thing I still haven't made was the original paddu or kuzhi paniyaram, using the actual idli/dosa batter. 
   
   Since we do not get ready made batter here, it takes a bit of planning to make idlis, dosas, uttappams etc. I decided to go multi-coloured but in a totally healthy manner. I used natural colours to make the colourful paddus. Though you may not be able to make out the difference between the carrot ones and the turmeric ones, I tried to make one yellow and the other orange. I guess next time I'll have to use more carrot puree. 
  
   This year, I hear that there is a water shortage especially in Bangalore because of the lack of rains. As suggested by some of the residents of our apartment complex, its best to conserve water and play Holi in a more environmentally friendly manner... like with flower petals. Artificial colours are polluting our waters. Its time all citizens take some responsibility to make festivals more environmentally friendly. 
  
    Here in Kenya too we are facing drought and water shortage. Are people going to be conscious about not wasting water and polluting the garden and plants with artificial colours, remains to be seen.When I was little Holi meant the burning of a small effigy of Holika, doing a small kanku tikka and that's it.Pretty friendly to the environment!
  
    So here's my recipe for Holi with natural colours. Janani thank you so much for the wonderful ingredients. My family loved the colourful paddus. What I like about these small beauties is that they can be served as finger food during a party (say like Holi!) or as a starter during a sit down dinner or as breakfast or to pack as tiffin.













KUZHI PANIYARAMS (PADDUS)
Makes about 50 pieces

For the batter:
1½ cups idli rice
½ cup urad dal (split white dal without the skin)
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)

For the natural colours:
2 carrots-peeled and diced
1 medium beetroot, peeled and diced
20-25 spinach leaves
¼ tsp turmeric powder

To add to the batter:
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 green chillis, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 sprig curry leaves (karipata), finely chopped
2-3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (dhania)
¼ cup grated fresh coconut
1¼ -1½ tsp salt

For tempering(vaghar):
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
1 tsp urad dal
1 tbsp bengal gram (split chickpeas)
 ¼ tsp asafoetida (hing)

some oil for making the paddus or paniyarams

For the coriander coconut chutney:
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander
1-2 green chillis
1 cup grated fresh coconut
½ - ¾ cup water
2 tbsp roasted bengal gram (chana dal, split chickpea)
½" ginger
1 sprig of curry leaves
½ tsp salt

Preparation of the batter:

  1. Wash rice and urad dal separately under running water.
  2. Soak them separately in warm water overnight. Add the fenugreek seeds to the urad dal and let it soak with the urad dal.
  3. Next day wash the dal and rice separately under running water. I use a colander or sieve for this purpose.
  4. Grind the urad dal first using just enough water so that the blades turn easily into a smooth batter.
  5. Then grind the rice again using just enough water to a smooth consistency.
  6. Mix the rice and dal batter.The batter should be a bit thick as you'll be adding the vegetable pastes to it.
  7. Let it ferment for 6-8 hours depending on how warm the climate is. 
Preparation of the natural vegetable puree:
  1. Boil just enough water in a small pan.
  2. Add the spinach leaves along with the stalk. 
  3. Remove the leaves as soon as they wilt, using a slotted spoon.
  4. In the same water add the diced carrots. Cover and let it cook till done.
  5. Remove the carrots from the water.
  6. At the same time heat water in another pan.
  7. Add the diced beetroot and let it cook till done.
  8. Remove the cooked beetroot from the water with a slotted spoon.
  9.  Grind the carrot, beetroot and spinach separately without any water to make purees. I used a mini food processor.
  10. Keep the purees in the fridge till required.
Preparation of the chutney:
  1. Put all the ingredients for the chutney in a blender.
  2. Process to a coarse paste.
  3. Remove the chutney into a serving bowl.
Preparation of the paniyarams or paddus:
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a small pan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal and asafoetida. Pour the mixture into the fermented batter.
  2. Add salt, chopped onion, coriander, curry leaves, chillis, ginger and coconut. Mix the batter well.
  3. Now divide the batter into 4 parts.
  4. To one part add the spinach puree, to the second one add the beetroot puree and to the third one add the carrot puree. To the fourth one add turmeric powder and a bit of water or you may leave it white.
  5. Heat the paniyaram pan or chatli over medium heat.
  6. Pour a few drops of oil into each cavity.
  7. Pour a idli batter into each cavity till its ¾ full. Cover the pan with a lid and let the paniyaram cook over medium to low heat. 
  8. The top of the paniyaram should appear set. Flip the paniyarams. Add a drop of oil into each cavity from the side. 
  9. Let the paniyarams cook.
  10. Remove from the pan. 
  11. Repeat steps 6-10 with the remaining batter.
  12. Serve the paniyarams with your choice of chutney.  
Tips:
  • Use left over idli or dosa batter to make paniyarams.
  • You can omit adding the vegetable purees.
  • Serve the paddus with sambhar if you wish.
  • Serve paddus with tomato chutney, podi masala or chutney of your choice.
You may want to check out the following Holi recipes:
Thandai kulfi
Thandai cookies
Thandai mousse

Sending this recipe for the following event:

shhh


Monday, 6 March 2017

621. Mexican Macaroni

Happy Women's Day

     International Women's Day is celebrated on 8th March all over the world.It focuses on gender equality, respect, love and appreciation of all women be it in the economic, political or social field. Every year the themes vary. This year the theme is "Be Bold for Change".While many women have been recognized for their achievements in many countries, there are still many more countries that believe in subduing the growth of women. Whether a woman is working or a homemaker all deserve to be recognized and appreciated. 
   
     Our #FoodieMonday #Bloghop group decided to have Women's Day treat as the 82nd theme. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize women who have influenced the way I think and lead my life. 

     Top of the list is my mother. Coming from a very small village in Gujarat, she left family and friends to start her new life as my dad's wife in Kenya. She didn't have any family or friends in Nairobi. Back then communicating with her parents and brothers was not easy as hand written letters sometimes took weeks to reach her village Koyali. My dad's family were all strangers for her as it was an arranged marriage. However, she took up the new challenge with much courage and gusto. She didn't know how to swim but that did not stop her from enjoying a dip in the sea whenever we visited Mombasa. Basically she taught us to face any new challenges head on.
    
     My kaki (aunt) for encouraging me to try out new things, be it new recipes, new styles and learning to drive a car. She's also guided me on how to raise my children. My advisor and my friend, that's my kaki.

   If today I am able to stand in front of a crowd and speak with confidence is all due to my best friend Daxa. I remember when I had just joined the Lions Club and I was suppose to give the vote of thanks for a function, I was a bag of nerves. She gave me valuable tips to carry out the task. 

   My mother in law and her good friend - K taught be how to host parties with grace and confidence. Learning from both of them has made preparing for dinners, lunches and tea parties easier and enjoyable.

   I also must mention my mamiji Hemalata. I admire her for the way she has faced and faces any adversities in her life. Her spirit for life and how to smile through rough periods is something I hope that I am able to do when I am in such situations.

   There are so many women, ordinary and famous that influence the way I think and live, but that would require me to write just about them and forget about today's recipe. I made Mexican Macaroni in honour of the late Tarla Dalal. While I learnt to cook the basic everyday Gujarati dishes from my mum, its Tarla Dalal's books that opened up a whole new world of different cuisines for me. Whenever we dined out as a family at an Indian, Italian or Chinese Restaurants, vegetarian options were limited. However, Tarla Dalal made us realize that vegetarian dishes are not limited to just stir fries, boiled vegetables and curries. Every weekend, my kaki and I would try something new from her books right from salads to desserts. 
   
    When I was in college, my friends A and S and I would open up a Tarla Dalal book and decide what to make if we were spending Friday evening at each others homes. Sometimes the end result would be no where near to Tarla Dalal's recipe or photos but our families ate it with a smile. Its because of her books and recipes that I ventured out to try baking, other cuisines, different salads and desserts. As I grew up, I was exposed to recipes by other chefs and cooks, but it was Tarla Dalal who taught me that if ready sauces, condiments, etc are not available, that should not stop us from making new dishes. We just had to innovate. 
   
    Over the years I have learnt to modify some of her recipes, I don't make home made ice creams every time for desserts, I do add my own ingredients and sauces. One such dish that I have over the years modified is her Macaroni a la Mexican. I've done away with the layers and mix everything together. I still make the cheese balls to go with and sometimes mix it into the dish. So here's my version of the Mexican Macaroni.





MEXICAN MACARONI
Serves 4

2½ cups cooked pasta
¾ cup onion
2 tbsp oil
½ cup chopped bell pepper (any colour)
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp taco seasoning
2 cups fresh tomato puree
1 cup boiled red kidney beans
½ cup boiled sweet corn
½ cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1- 1½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper powder
2 tbsp fresh cream

For the cheese balls:
150g paneer, grated
2 tbsp plain flour
½ tsp salt
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander(cilantro)
a generous pinch of soda bicarbonate (baking soda)
1-2 green chillis finely chopped

oil for deep frying
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp fresh cream
¼ cup chopped fresh spring onions

Preparation of cheese balls:

  1. Mix grated paneer, flour, salt, chilli, coriander and baking soda together. 
  2. Take about a tbsp of the mixture and make it into a round ball. Keep it on the side.
  3. Make balls with the remaining mixture.
  4. Heat oil for deep frying in a wok, karai or frying pan over medium heat.
  5. When the oil is hot deep fry the balls in batches till they are golden brown.
  6. Keep them on the side till required.
Preparation of the pasta:
  1. Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onions and bell pepper. Saute them till they are soft and slightly cooked.
  3. Add the garlic paste. Stir fry for a few seconds.
  4. Add the tomato puree, oregano, taco seasoning, salt and pepper.
  5. Mix well. Cover the pan and cook the tomato puree till it becomes a little thick.
  6. Add beans, corn, coriander, cream and pasta.
  7. Mix well, let it become hot.
  8. Spoon the pasta mixture into 4 serving bowls.
  9. Sprinkle cheese over it.
  10. Drizzle the fresh cream over it.
  11. Bake under a hot grill or broiler till the cheese melts.
  12. Arrange cheese balls over the baked pasta, sprinkle some spring onion and serve.
Tips:
  • Use any shape of pasta that is available.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.
  • Add other vegs of your choice.
You may want to check out other Mexican dishes :

Mexican Rice


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Monday, 20 March 2017

627. Sweet Potato and Pasta Salad

Drought--A national disaster

         2016 did not bring enough rains to many parts of Kenya. Fast forward to 2017 and out of 47 counties 23 which are arid or semi arid parts of Kenya are facing drought. Rivers have dried up, animals and humans are dying without food. A National and International appeal has been sent out to help these areas with food and water. NGOs, Charity organisations, Private companies all have sent out foodstuff, but that is not enough. If the long rains do not arrive by April, then many more will die without food.
         
        Nakumatt has put a huge box near its exit if anyone would wish to buy some foodstuff to be donated. Every time I pass the box its empty! People cannot afford to buy foodstuff to give away as they themselves are barely making ends meet with the high cost of basic food stuff. The basic 2 kg maizemeal packet which is required to make the staple food ugali or sima is selling at more than Ksh 130/- (approx $1.26). A 2 kg packet is enough for to prepare one meal for an average family of 4. Vegetables like tomatoes, onion, are are about $1 per kg. 500ml milk packet is 48c. When income for a lot of people is about a dollar a day, its impossible to make ends meet.

         Its been so hot here with temperatures of 34-35°C that its not possible to spend long hours in the kitchen. When the #FoodieMonday#Bloghop group decided on #Pastamania as the 84th theme, I wanted to make ravioli but the was just too hot. Daughter and hubby were also demanding a lighter lunch so I opted to make a filling salad. This salad can be served warm or cold. I served it cold.






SWEET POTATO AND PASTA SALAD
Serves 4 or 2 as a light meal

1 medium(approx 500g) sweet potato
¼ cup lightly roasted pine nuts
¼ cup any other nuts of your choice (walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds etc) - I             used boiled peanuts that I had in the fridge
2 tbsp olive oil
12-14 mint leaves
1 cup cooked pasta ( any shape)
10-12 spinach leaves (or 12-20 baby spinach leaves)
2-3 tbsp dried cranberries

Passion fruit Dressing:
7 passion fruits
1 tbsp water
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp honey/maple syrup
½ tsp coarse pepper powder
¼ tsp chilli flakes


  1. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into chunks. Parboil them. Remove the chunks from the water and let it cool completely.
  2. Cut the sweet potato chunks into small cubes.
  3. Heat olive oil a wide pan over medium heat.
  4. Add the diced sweet potato and roast them till they appear a bit crunchy.
  5. Put the sweet potato into a big salad bowl.
  6. Add the boiled pasta. 
  7. If you are using normal spinach then you may want to cut the leaves into bite size pieces. If you're using baby spinach, add it to the pasta mixture.
  8. Add the nuts, mint leaves and dried cranberries.Mix the salad.
Preparation of the dressing:
  1. Remove the pulp from the passion fruit. Leave pulp from one on the side.
  2. Put the pulp from 6 passion fruits into a blender along with a tbsp of water.
  3. Blend it in short bursts. You don't want to grind the seeds.
  4. Strain the mixture through a sieve to get the passion fruit juice.
  5. Add salt, honey, pepper and chilli flakes to the juice and mix it well.
  6. Add the pulp you kept on the side and mix well.
  7. The dressing is ready.
Just before serving the salad add the dressing and mix or serve the dressing on the side.

Tips:
  • To roast pine nuts, put them in a wide pan and roast for 1 minute over low heat, stirring them continuously.
  • Light roast the nuts if you're not using boiled peanuts.
  • Add any tangy fruit of your choice to replace the cranberries.
  • You can peel and dice the sweet potato. Rub olive oil over it and roast it in the oven at 180°C till done.
  • ¾ cup raw pasta will give 1 cup cooked pasta.
You may want to check out other pasta dishes:

mum's buitoni
spaghetti with vegetarian 'bolognese' sauce
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Friday, 17 March 2017

626. Dried Grapes Achaar (Pickle)

GUEST NO. 5 ON THE BLOG

  I'm trying to feature my family and friends on my blog weekly. However, last week I couldn't feature any guest as I was down with a bad flu and fever. Still getting over the nasty cough, its very persistent.
  
  This week my guest is my sister in law Arti (my brother's wife). When I asked her to write a recipe for the blog, her immediate reaction was 'ahahhaa that's not me Mayuriben that is something you do! I don't measure and cook, I don't know what to make' and the excuses kept on coming. I suggested that she should make her famous cranberry pickle but immediately realized that its not cranberry season. (shhh we'll get her to give us the recipe when cranberries are in season ;)) Anyway I left it up to her to decide what she would like to make and of course measure (she hates that). After a few weeks, my whatsapp is busy "toinking" away. I check my mobile to see who is persistently sending me messages and its Arti with a recipe!

  Arti is the baby of not only her side of the family but ours too.She's younger than my sister so that makes her the baby. However, as soon as she stepped into our house, she had to act with maturity as our bhabhi (sister in law)and daughter in law as most Indian women have to after marriage. It took her a while to adjust to the conservative family. Arti is someone who can voice out her opinion without hesitation, that's makes her appear too brash or impolite. However, that she isn't. Its just that people tend to misunderstand. Her forte is certainly not cooking,but has one of the most beautiful kitchen's to boast about.Her kitchen is where our huge family gathers. Its here over drinks and meals that we all catch up and bond. She has the amazing quality of organizing for parties and adding the fun factor to it.My other bhabhi has to take care of the food part. She thinks of small details which others may miss out on. Whenever I have asked for help, she's always there in person or as an ardent supporter. She practically helped to organize many of the pre- wedding functions during my son's wedding and for my daughter's wedding though she couldn't come to Bangalore early, her meaningful suggestions and support was there from day one. She loves her daughter to bits... most of do as she's so adorable. As a parent of a cerebral palsy child, it takes a lot of courage and strength to smile and get through each day. But Arti does that.  She takes pride in having some of the most beautiful orchids.Let me tell you, its not easy growing orchids indoors in UK but she has managed.If I ever need a good shoulder to cry on, I'm lucky, I get two... my brother's shoulder and Arti's too.

  Arti decided to share with us her dried grapes achar (pickle) which she tried out for the first time and the family loved it. She doesn't follow any specific recipe to make pickles, neither does she have any traditional recipes handed down to her. She has her own style of making delectable, easy and quick pickles.

From Arti:
   Mayuriben, my sister in law(my husband's elder sister) is like a sister to me. She is one person who is not judgmental about who or what I am.Even when I complain to her about my husband, she doesn't take sides but listens patiently or gives the right advise. I know I can always count on her should I need any help or support. I admire her organisational skills, her charity work through Lions and how she is an all rounder in most fields. She has brought up 3 wonderful children (my nephews and niece) who we are so proud of. I'm blessed to have her in my life.

Arti's passion---her Orchids

Tulsi (Holy Basil) also doing so well :)




DRIED GRAPES ACHAAR(PICKLE)

1 large(40-50 grapes) bunch of seedless grapes
2 tbsp ready made Achaar masala (ready pickle masala)
1 tsp salt
Juice from 1 lime
3-4 tbsp oil
 jam sugar -optional if the grapes are a bit sour


  1. First 3 days dry the grapes on the bunch in the sun. (she kept it in the sunny part of her kitchen)
  2. Pluck off the grapes from the bunch. Dry them further for 2 weeks.
  3. Once they are semi dry, cut the grapes into halves.
  4. Put the dried grapes in a bowl.
  5. Add lime juice, salt and pickle masala. Mix well. Add sugar if you're using any. 
  6. Heat the oil and let it cool.
  7. Add to the grape mixture and mix well.
  8. Transfer the pickle to a jar.
  9. I don't think you'll need to put it in the fridge as it may get over soon.
Tips:
  • If the grapes are a bit tangy or sour then add little sugar.
  • Add sufficient oil so that you can use the oil to drizzle over rice, khichdi or snacks. It also helps to preserve the fruit or vegetable that is pickled.
  • Use any ready pickle masala that is available at your local Indian grocery shop.
Meeting place for our huge family and friends - a warm friendly kitchen

You may want to check out what other guests have prepared:
Gluten free pizza crust
Eggless Zucchini Bread Muffins

Baked Bread Pudding
Tangy Creamy Potato Curry






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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

625. Peanut and Fruit Salad (Chaat)

Peanut and Fruit Salad(Chaat) #Fantastical Food Fight
Trying to eat healthy
   
   When you're a food blogger and food is your passion, its pretty difficult to stay away from all those tempting recipes out there in the cyber world and cook books. I get tempted to try out so many recipes and the more calories it has the temptation level is that much higher!
    
    Recently I joined this group called Fantastical Food Fight. I got tempted to join after I saw the absolutely tempting cookies made by Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories. After I oooooogled at the photos till I was drooling, she suggested that we should check out what other members of the group had made. I scrolled down and recipes had me salivating. 

    Just when I joined, the theme for March happen to be PB&J (peanut butter and jelly).And I thought oh no here goes out the healthy eating... but as I read on further, Sarah Ellis (host of the group) mentioned that peanuts and fruit should be a part of the recipe. Phew!!!!!! I decided to make a super healthy peanut and fruit salad. Blessed with loads of tropical fruits here in Kenya, I used both mango and avocado, along with pomegranate to add a bit of tart taste. I soaked and cooked the peanuts with salt and turmeric powder. As you all know, turmeric powder (haldi) is a must in any Indian's spice box. Turmeric has been used for centuries in Indian cooking and also as medicine. I remember if any of us had a cut or bruises my mum would apply a paste of turmeric powder. If we had colds and coughs, warm water with turmeric and honey was our medicine. Read the benefits of turmeric here.








PEANUT AND FRUIT SALAD(CHAAT)

½ cup raw peanuts
1 medium tomato or 10-12 cherry tomatoes
1 small avocado
1 small ripe mango(ripe but firm)
½ cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
½ cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
¼ cup chopped fresh spring onion (scallion)
½ tsp pink salt or sea salt or normal table salt
¼ tsp cumin seed powder
¼ tsp chilli flakes
¼ tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Soak the peanuts overnight in warm water.
  2. Next day drain out the water, wash the peanuts. 
  3. Put the peanuts in a pan with enough water, ¼ tsp salt(from the measured salt) and turmeric powder. Cook the peanuts till done.( I used a pressure cooker and allowed the peanuts to cook till 1 whistle)
  4. Drain out the excess water and let the peanuts cool.
  5. In the meantime get the other ingredients ready. If you're using a normal tomato, cut it into half and remove the pulp and seeds.Dice the tomato.
  6. Peel and dice the mango and avocado. Sprinkle a bit of lemon juice over the avocado.
  7. Put the peanuts, chopped fruits, chopped coriander and spring onion into a big serving bowl.
  8. Add remaining salt, chilli flakes, cumin powder and lemon juice. 
  9. Mix the salad well. Serve as a light meal or as an accompaniment to a main meal. Super healthy and filling.
Tips:
  • If you don't like boiled peanuts, use roasted but boiled ones taste much better for this salad.
  • Use fruits of your choice.
  • I haven't used a dressing but you can add a dressing of your choice.
  • For cumin powder, roast the cumin seeds in a pan over low heat, till you get a grassy aroma. Don't burn them. Cool a bit and powder it in a herb mill or using a rolling pin or a mortar and pestle.
Check out what other members have made for the PB&J theme:







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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

624. Irish Freckle Bread#BreadBakers

IRISH FRECKLE BREAD#BREADBAKERS

HAPPY ST.PATRICK'S DAY
  
   Isn't it wonderful to be part of cooking groups where one can learn not only about cooking about also about different cultures and festivals. So,though I've heard about St. Patrick's Day and know that the Irish celebrate it, I've till today never really bothered to find out what the festival is all about. So there I was sitting at the computer and asking Mr. Google all the hows and whys of this festival.
  
  So my understanding is that St.Patrick's Day is celebrated by the Irish world over on 17th March every year.St.Patrick the patron saint of Ireland died on 17th March.He was not Irish but came from Britain. He was kidnapped by Irish raiders and lived in captivity for 6 years. He went back to Britain and came back to Ireland to preach Christianity.What began as a religious feast day in the 17th Century has evolved into a celebration of the Irish culture globally with parades, special music and dance,food and wearing green.
  
  It is believed that St.Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon.It is believed that St.Patrick used the 3 leaves of the Irish clover, Shamrock to explain the 3 Trinity (Father, Son and the Holy Spirit).
  
 During the Potato Famine close to 1 million Irish emigrated to America. Parades to mark St. Patrick's Day were begun by the Irish in America. St. Patrick's colour was blue and not green. Initially the Irish Catholics wore the Shamrock emblem to symbolise their faith. Green was associated to the Emerald green land back home and also the colour of the Shamrock. Green was associated to the Irish Revolution. People started wearing green during St.Patrick's Day and till today Green is the main colour that one sees in parades, clothing, celebrations, food etc
  
  To celebrate St. Patrick's Day our co member of the group Wendy Klik , blogger at A Day in the Life on the Farm asked us to share our favourite Irish bread--- sweet, colored, rainbow, rye, or soda. Green bread didn't sound that appealing so the tussle was between a soda bread and a sweet bread made using potato. Irish freckle bread won(I love sweet breads). Thank you Wendy for encouraging me through your theme to widen my knowledge about the Irish culture.

  The bread is called an Irish Freckle Bread because of the raisins/currants/ cranberries that are sprinkled through out the bread. Must admit mine after baking the loaf looked like all one sided rather than scattered. Oh well, as long as the bread tasted delicious. The loaf overall was deliciously sweet, soft and tasted even better when toasted. Don't forget the tonne of butter on the toast (not that I can get that now, do you know that at the moment there is no butter in the supermarkets in Kenya because of the severe drought). Just as well I had baked the bread a week ago!










IRISH FRECKLE BREAD
Makes 1 loaf

1 small potato-peel and cut into quarters
¾ cup water
2½ - 3 cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
2 tsp instant dry active yeast
½ cup dark raisins, currants or cranberries
4-5 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg
50g butter melted and cooled


  1. Boil the potato in the ¾ cup water till done.Remove the cooked potato from the water.
  2. Keep the potato water on the side till required.
  3. Let the potato cool and then mash it.
  4. Put 1½ cup flour, yeast, sugar, salt, mashed potato and ½ cup of potato water in a mixing bowl.
  5. Beat the mixture together till you get a smooth batter.
  6. Cover the bowl with cling film or a wet tea towel and let the batter become all puffy for 1-1½ hours.
  7. Stir down the batter.
  8. Add the beaten egg, butter and raisins. Mix well.
  9. Add remaining flour ½ cup at a time till it becomes a soft elastic dough ball.
  10. Dust the worktop with some flour and turn out the dough.
  11. Knead till it becomes smooth (about 10-15 minutes).
  12. There are three ways to shape the dough: 
a) Cut the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each part into a cylinder about 2" in diameter, the length of the baking tin.Place the cylinders side by side in the prepared tin.
b)Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll each into a ball. Place the balls side by side in the prepared tin.
c) Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Roll each part into a ball. Place the balls in a round tin. The bread will look like a crown.
    13. Prepare the tin (loaf tin 8½" X 4½"). Grease it lightly with butter. If you're making the crown shape then get a 8-9" round tin ready.
    14. Let the shaped dough rise again for 45-50 minutes.
    15. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
    16. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, till the top is golden brown and the bottom when tapped sounds hollow.
    17. If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover it with some foil.
    18. Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a wire rack.
    19. Enjoy the bread toasted or with some jam/marmalade and tea or coffee.

Check out what other Bakers have made to celebrate St. Patrick's Day:

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.


BreadBakers

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Monday, 13 March 2017

623. Thandai Malpua with Strawberry Compote

Happy Holi Everyone

  Any festival celebration means food and lots of it. Food, fun, colour, rituals all make a successful celebration. If one is missing then the celebration or festival is not complete. Our #FoodieMonday #Bloghop group decided on #Holi as our 83rd theme. With Holi it means that I've been with this wonderful group for now a year. My first post for the group was a fusion Holi theme. I remember preparing the dish not knowing exactly how it will be received by the other members of the group. Must say they were a friendly group and immediately felt as though I'd known them for years. Its been a great journey of learning new recipes, new cuisines, how to improve photography, drawing strength from eachother in times of need and sharing our lives.
   
  We are constantly chatting over whatsapp in spite of the different time zones. When its our bedtime, Preethi all the way from Singapore will send us a good morning message. When we are awake, Rupal in US is in lala land. None of us have met as such in person but we still are together. If I had to describe them then this is what I would say about each of them:
Alka--- quiet, professional and a mentor
Sujata --- motherly, poised and with a good sense of humour
Preethi--- our morning greeter, well wisher, full of life
Pushpita ---- friendly, kind and our tech wizard
Saswati---- elegant, strong and courageous
Waagmi --- helpful, friendly and a thinker
Kriti --- the youngest in our group is energetic, an achiever and bubbly
Rupal --- timid, funny and sensible
Nisa ---quiet, our tech wizard and helpful

  Making malpuas has been on my 'to do' list for like forever. I simply love the crispy, crunchy sweet malpuas. However, today I decided to make a slightly healthier version (before my daughter and hubby throw me out of the house for ruining their diet plans!), so no frying and not making it overtly sweet. Wanted to try the malpuas with a fruit compote instead of rabri so planned to use fresh orange and strawberries. I loved the fusion malpuas. Not feeling guilty about popping a couple in my mouth as I kept on reminding hubby and daughter that they are not fried! While I'm typing out this post am tempted to sneak out of the room and have another one!
So here's my version of malpuas. Different, a bit healthy, fruity and a satisfying dessert. 









THANDAI MALPUA WITH STRAWBERRY COMPOTE
Makes 14 mini malpuas

For the malpua batter:
½ cup wheat flour (atta)
½ cup plain flour(maida)
¼ cup semolina (sooji)
4 tbsp yogurt
½ cup milk
⅓ - ½ cup water
2 tbsp thandai masala powder
1 tbsp hot milk
4-6 strands of saffron
¼ tsp soda bicarbonate (baking soda) ( to be added just before cooking)

For the syrup:
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup fresh orange juice
4-6 strands of saffron
1 tbsp of finely cut orange rind

For the strawberry compote:
1 cup of chopped fresh strawberries
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1-2 tbsp sugar (optional)

2-3 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter)
2 tbsp of finely chopped nuts

Preparation of malpua batter:

  1. Soak the saffron in the hot milk for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Mix the flours,semolina and thandai masala powder together in a bowl.
  3. Add milk, water, saffron milk and yogurt to the flour mixture.
  4. Mix well to form a thick batter. Cover and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
Preparation of the sugar syrup:
  1. Mix sugar and water in a pan and put it over low to medium heat.
  2. Mix till the sugar melts.
  3. Lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for 5-7 minutes. It will become a little thick. Take the pan off the heat.
  4. Add saffron strands, orange rind and orange juice. Mix well.
  5. Leave the syrup on the side till required.
Preparation of the strawberry compote:
  1. Mix chopped strawberries and juice in a pan.
  2. Put the pan over low heat and let the strawberries cook till they become soft.
  3. Remember to stir the mixture so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and roughly mash the strawberries.
  5. Add sugar if the strawberries are sour. Mix well.
  6. Keep the compote on the side till required.
Preparation of the malpuas:
  1. Add the soda bicarbonate to the batter and mix it well.
  2. I used a mini pancake pan, but you may use any non stick frying pan.
  3. Heat the pan over low heat.
  4. Also heat the syrup so it becomes a bit hot.
  5. Add a few drops of ghee into the pan.
  6. Pour about 2 tbsp of the batter gently into the hot pan just the way we make pancakes.
  7. Let the base cook till its golden brown.
  8. Flip the malpua over and cook till it becomes light golden brown.
  9. Remove the malpua from the pan.
  10. Dip it into the hot syrup and remove it.
  11. Put the malpua on a serving plate.
  12. Repeat steps 4-10 till all the batter is used up.
To serve the malpua:
  1. Top each malpua with a tsp of the compote.
  2. Sprinkle some chopped nuts over it and serve.
Tips:
  • You may use plain flour only instead of the mixture.
  • Add your own spices like coarse pepper powder, cardamom powder and fennel seeds instead of thandai masala.
  • Make compote with any fresh fruit available.
  • Serve the malpua with rabri (thickened sweet milk)
You may want to check out my other Holi recipes:
Thandai Kulfi
Thandai mousse
Kuzhi Paniyarams


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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

622. Kuzhi Paniyarams (Paddu)

Have an Environmentally friendly Happy Holi

   The Shhh Cooking Secretly group decided on either fusion or multi-coloured Holi recipes as their February theme. My partner Janani Krishnakumaar gave the ingredients rice and vegetables.Janani is a blogger at Red Chilly Curry.A vegetarian blog, she has many South Indian recipes, Christmas goodies, festival dishes and much more.Check her blog out. 

   After a series of sweet dishes one after the other (entertaining guests) I didn't want to make any sweet dish or something unhealthy. Since I've bought the paddu or paniyaram pan(chatli), I've always tried out various types of paddus and other bhajia mixtures with much success. The only thing I still haven't made was the original paddu or kuzhi paniyaram, using the actual idli/dosa batter. 
   
   Since we do not get ready made batter here, it takes a bit of planning to make idlis, dosas, uttappams etc. I decided to go multi-coloured but in a totally healthy manner. I used natural colours to make the colourful paddus. Though you may not be able to make out the difference between the carrot ones and the turmeric ones, I tried to make one yellow and the other orange. I guess next time I'll have to use more carrot puree. 
  
   This year, I hear that there is a water shortage especially in Bangalore because of the lack of rains. As suggested by some of the residents of our apartment complex, its best to conserve water and play Holi in a more environmentally friendly manner... like with flower petals. Artificial colours are polluting our waters. Its time all citizens take some responsibility to make festivals more environmentally friendly. 
  
    Here in Kenya too we are facing drought and water shortage. Are people going to be conscious about not wasting water and polluting the garden and plants with artificial colours, remains to be seen.When I was little Holi meant the burning of a small effigy of Holika, doing a small kanku tikka and that's it.Pretty friendly to the environment!
  
    So here's my recipe for Holi with natural colours. Janani thank you so much for the wonderful ingredients. My family loved the colourful paddus. What I like about these small beauties is that they can be served as finger food during a party (say like Holi!) or as a starter during a sit down dinner or as breakfast or to pack as tiffin.













KUZHI PANIYARAMS (PADDUS)
Makes about 50 pieces

For the batter:
1½ cups idli rice
½ cup urad dal (split white dal without the skin)
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)

For the natural colours:
2 carrots-peeled and diced
1 medium beetroot, peeled and diced
20-25 spinach leaves
¼ tsp turmeric powder

To add to the batter:
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 green chillis, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 sprig curry leaves (karipata), finely chopped
2-3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (dhania)
¼ cup grated fresh coconut
1¼ -1½ tsp salt

For tempering(vaghar):
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
1 tsp urad dal
1 tbsp bengal gram (split chickpeas)
 ¼ tsp asafoetida (hing)

some oil for making the paddus or paniyarams

For the coriander coconut chutney:
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander
1-2 green chillis
1 cup grated fresh coconut
½ - ¾ cup water
2 tbsp roasted bengal gram (chana dal, split chickpea)
½" ginger
1 sprig of curry leaves
½ tsp salt

Preparation of the batter:

  1. Wash rice and urad dal separately under running water.
  2. Soak them separately in warm water overnight. Add the fenugreek seeds to the urad dal and let it soak with the urad dal.
  3. Next day wash the dal and rice separately under running water. I use a colander or sieve for this purpose.
  4. Grind the urad dal first using just enough water so that the blades turn easily into a smooth batter.
  5. Then grind the rice again using just enough water to a smooth consistency.
  6. Mix the rice and dal batter.The batter should be a bit thick as you'll be adding the vegetable pastes to it.
  7. Let it ferment for 6-8 hours depending on how warm the climate is. 
Preparation of the natural vegetable puree:
  1. Boil just enough water in a small pan.
  2. Add the spinach leaves along with the stalk. 
  3. Remove the leaves as soon as they wilt, using a slotted spoon.
  4. In the same water add the diced carrots. Cover and let it cook till done.
  5. Remove the carrots from the water.
  6. At the same time heat water in another pan.
  7. Add the diced beetroot and let it cook till done.
  8. Remove the cooked beetroot from the water with a slotted spoon.
  9.  Grind the carrot, beetroot and spinach separately without any water to make purees. I used a mini food processor.
  10. Keep the purees in the fridge till required.
Preparation of the chutney:
  1. Put all the ingredients for the chutney in a blender.
  2. Process to a coarse paste.
  3. Remove the chutney into a serving bowl.
Preparation of the paniyarams or paddus:
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a small pan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal and asafoetida. Pour the mixture into the fermented batter.
  2. Add salt, chopped onion, coriander, curry leaves, chillis, ginger and coconut. Mix the batter well.
  3. Now divide the batter into 4 parts.
  4. To one part add the spinach puree, to the second one add the beetroot puree and to the third one add the carrot puree. To the fourth one add turmeric powder and a bit of water or you may leave it white.
  5. Heat the paniyaram pan or chatli over medium heat.
  6. Pour a few drops of oil into each cavity.
  7. Pour a idli batter into each cavity till its ¾ full. Cover the pan with a lid and let the paniyaram cook over medium to low heat. 
  8. The top of the paniyaram should appear set. Flip the paniyarams. Add a drop of oil into each cavity from the side. 
  9. Let the paniyarams cook.
  10. Remove from the pan. 
  11. Repeat steps 6-10 with the remaining batter.
  12. Serve the paniyarams with your choice of chutney.  
Tips:
  • Use left over idli or dosa batter to make paniyarams.
  • You can omit adding the vegetable purees.
  • Serve the paddus with sambhar if you wish.
  • Serve paddus with tomato chutney, podi masala or chutney of your choice.
You may want to check out the following Holi recipes:
Thandai kulfi
Thandai cookies
Thandai mousse

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Monday, 6 March 2017

621. Mexican Macaroni

Happy Women's Day

     International Women's Day is celebrated on 8th March all over the world.It focuses on gender equality, respect, love and appreciation of all women be it in the economic, political or social field. Every year the themes vary. This year the theme is "Be Bold for Change".While many women have been recognized for their achievements in many countries, there are still many more countries that believe in subduing the growth of women. Whether a woman is working or a homemaker all deserve to be recognized and appreciated. 
   
     Our #FoodieMonday #Bloghop group decided to have Women's Day treat as the 82nd theme. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize women who have influenced the way I think and lead my life. 

     Top of the list is my mother. Coming from a very small village in Gujarat, she left family and friends to start her new life as my dad's wife in Kenya. She didn't have any family or friends in Nairobi. Back then communicating with her parents and brothers was not easy as hand written letters sometimes took weeks to reach her village Koyali. My dad's family were all strangers for her as it was an arranged marriage. However, she took up the new challenge with much courage and gusto. She didn't know how to swim but that did not stop her from enjoying a dip in the sea whenever we visited Mombasa. Basically she taught us to face any new challenges head on.
    
     My kaki (aunt) for encouraging me to try out new things, be it new recipes, new styles and learning to drive a car. She's also guided me on how to raise my children. My advisor and my friend, that's my kaki.

   If today I am able to stand in front of a crowd and speak with confidence is all due to my best friend Daxa. I remember when I had just joined the Lions Club and I was suppose to give the vote of thanks for a function, I was a bag of nerves. She gave me valuable tips to carry out the task. 

   My mother in law and her good friend - K taught be how to host parties with grace and confidence. Learning from both of them has made preparing for dinners, lunches and tea parties easier and enjoyable.

   I also must mention my mamiji Hemalata. I admire her for the way she has faced and faces any adversities in her life. Her spirit for life and how to smile through rough periods is something I hope that I am able to do when I am in such situations.

   There are so many women, ordinary and famous that influence the way I think and live, but that would require me to write just about them and forget about today's recipe. I made Mexican Macaroni in honour of the late Tarla Dalal. While I learnt to cook the basic everyday Gujarati dishes from my mum, its Tarla Dalal's books that opened up a whole new world of different cuisines for me. Whenever we dined out as a family at an Indian, Italian or Chinese Restaurants, vegetarian options were limited. However, Tarla Dalal made us realize that vegetarian dishes are not limited to just stir fries, boiled vegetables and curries. Every weekend, my kaki and I would try something new from her books right from salads to desserts. 
   
    When I was in college, my friends A and S and I would open up a Tarla Dalal book and decide what to make if we were spending Friday evening at each others homes. Sometimes the end result would be no where near to Tarla Dalal's recipe or photos but our families ate it with a smile. Its because of her books and recipes that I ventured out to try baking, other cuisines, different salads and desserts. As I grew up, I was exposed to recipes by other chefs and cooks, but it was Tarla Dalal who taught me that if ready sauces, condiments, etc are not available, that should not stop us from making new dishes. We just had to innovate. 
   
    Over the years I have learnt to modify some of her recipes, I don't make home made ice creams every time for desserts, I do add my own ingredients and sauces. One such dish that I have over the years modified is her Macaroni a la Mexican. I've done away with the layers and mix everything together. I still make the cheese balls to go with and sometimes mix it into the dish. So here's my version of the Mexican Macaroni.





MEXICAN MACARONI
Serves 4

2½ cups cooked pasta
¾ cup onion
2 tbsp oil
½ cup chopped bell pepper (any colour)
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp taco seasoning
2 cups fresh tomato puree
1 cup boiled red kidney beans
½ cup boiled sweet corn
½ cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1- 1½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper powder
2 tbsp fresh cream

For the cheese balls:
150g paneer, grated
2 tbsp plain flour
½ tsp salt
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander(cilantro)
a generous pinch of soda bicarbonate (baking soda)
1-2 green chillis finely chopped

oil for deep frying
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp fresh cream
¼ cup chopped fresh spring onions

Preparation of cheese balls:

  1. Mix grated paneer, flour, salt, chilli, coriander and baking soda together. 
  2. Take about a tbsp of the mixture and make it into a round ball. Keep it on the side.
  3. Make balls with the remaining mixture.
  4. Heat oil for deep frying in a wok, karai or frying pan over medium heat.
  5. When the oil is hot deep fry the balls in batches till they are golden brown.
  6. Keep them on the side till required.
Preparation of the pasta:
  1. Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onions and bell pepper. Saute them till they are soft and slightly cooked.
  3. Add the garlic paste. Stir fry for a few seconds.
  4. Add the tomato puree, oregano, taco seasoning, salt and pepper.
  5. Mix well. Cover the pan and cook the tomato puree till it becomes a little thick.
  6. Add beans, corn, coriander, cream and pasta.
  7. Mix well, let it become hot.
  8. Spoon the pasta mixture into 4 serving bowls.
  9. Sprinkle cheese over it.
  10. Drizzle the fresh cream over it.
  11. Bake under a hot grill or broiler till the cheese melts.
  12. Arrange cheese balls over the baked pasta, sprinkle some spring onion and serve.
Tips:
  • Use any shape of pasta that is available.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.
  • Add other vegs of your choice.
You may want to check out other Mexican dishes :

Mexican Rice


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