October 3, 2016

Cooking Carnival - a foodie recap :)

It was so much fun running the Cooking Carnival last month. This April 2016, I blogged about 26 unique Tamil Cuisine dishes. Last year it was International Cuisines at BM Buffet (Sep 2015) & a  very exciting Baking Marathon(April 2015). 

2014 saw us Around the World in 30 days (Sep 2014) and we presented Indian States(April 2014). 

Amongst the blogging group, we saw some seriously good eats and a whole spread of recipes that added to my bookmarks. A huge shout out to all my fellow marathoners for their support & encouraging comments, and also to my readers out there for ur likes and comments on this blog  & on Social Media. 

Before the month of October begins with new posts, its only apt to post the recap of the cooking carnival. 

So, here goes :)

So, for week 1 we had 3 fried delights:

For week 2, Indian Sweets took centre stage:

Chaats / Street food ruled the tummy for Week 3:

For week 4, we had 6 kid friendly soups:

Final week was with soothing steamed dishes:

Hope you enjoyed the spread !

Keep visiting this blog for many such events / vegan - vegetarian treats :)

September 30, 2016

9 hues of Navratri & a celebration of food !!

The Sharad Navaratri (or Autumnal holy 9 days of the Hindu Calendar) begins tomorrow, on October 1st . Happy Dusshera / Navratri to all my readers...

Devi (or the Goddess) is worshipped in 9 forms in North India as Maa Shailputri, Maa Brahmacharini, Maa Chandraghanta, Maa Kushmanda, Maa Katyayani, Maa Kalratri, Maa Siddhidatri, Maa Skandmata, Maa Mahagauri . 

Whereas in the South, the Goddess is worshipped as Durga,Kali,Amba or JagadambaAnnapoornadeviSarvamangalaBhairavi,Chandika or Chandi, Lalitha, Bhavani,Mookambika or Tara on the 9 days respectively. 

The final day is called Vijayadashami or Bijoyadashami or Dusherra (depending on where one stays) which marks the culminating day of the 9 day festival and a festive grand lunch follows the elaborate pooja that's performed on this day. Its also a very very auspicious day in Hindu system to start new ventures like Vidyarambham (first initiation into learning), or buy a new home or car etc. 

For more ideas on mini thalis, click herehere,here  & here

Golu or dolls in 3-5-7-9 steps are neatly arranged in South Indian homes, often with a theme to go with, and there is a social - cultural event happening inviting ladies for Haldi Kumkum to each others' places in the evening times.

Navratri is also known for the conquer of good over evil and is celebrated as Dusshera. Its the time when Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing the demon Ravan. An effigy of the demon is burnt on the last day to symbolise the same

Pic courtesy : here
Durga Puja (or Pujo as its called), is a major festival in Kolkata, West Bengal and eastern parts of India. Elaborate pandals like the ones below are erected and the Goddess is worshipped with pomp and grandeur. Pandal hopping is considered a must-do during this season.

Pic Courtesy : here

In Gujarat, Dandiya / Garbha is a social must-do where women and men deck up in their finery and dance thru the night as a form of social & cultural mingling, coupled with mind blowing feasts to the eye and the palate :) 

Many people fast religiously, and although as a family we don't fast, we abstain from using certain tamasic causing ingredients in our cooking like onion, garlic, brinjal, cabbage etc). Most North Indian families prohibit cooking of even potatoes,sodium based salt , Wholewheat atta, and stick to what they believe in - like cooking with more starch based ingredients like Sabudana (tapoica pearls), sweet potato, rajgira flour (amaranth flour), sama or vrat ke chawal.

Whatever the form, whatever the God /Goddess being worshipped or whatever belief one follows wrt food and local practices, these 9 days of Navaratri (Nava = 9, rathri = night) are sacred for Hindus across the world. 

Some of the offerings (Naivedyam) that can be prepared for Navratri are....Happy festive season :))

9 varieties Sundals (steamed based lentil snack - vegan & gluten free):

(from top left top row to bottom right last row, links as follows):

9 varieties of Kheer / Payasam & milk based sweets for Offering

again, in order from top left (1st row onwards), recipes are:

9 Flavoured Rice varieties (without any onion - garlic or tamasic ingredients)

Eggless Steamed wholewheat Chocolate Cake | Easy cake recipes | Steamed Cakes

And we wrap up the Cooking Carnival with this amazinggggggg steamed Chocolate Cake ! 

Yes, its steamed, and we loved the soft texture. Added to the fact that its completely chocolatey and made with wholewheat flour, this was one winner of a dish :) I had seen couple of versions here and here, but was hesitant to try it. 

Dare I say it was way softer and yummier than the oven baked Chocolate cakes I have ever made ! No butter, no eggs, yet .... stunning !! (yes, I am running out of adjectives). 

Do you really need a reason to eat cake ??

Even not being a chocolate person, I think this was a fitting finale to the steamed food series that ran this week on this blog, and a sweet end to the Cooking Carnival.

In case you have missed any of the steamed Dishes, here's a quick recap.

So, get the ingredients with these pantry basics, and bake this :) Non-oven bakers can also enjoy this rather delectable treat. 

Wholewheat Steamed Chocolate Cake 

1 cup = 150 ml

Dry Ingredients:
  • 1.25 cups atta
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 TBSP of dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon - powdered fine
Wet ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup yoghurt
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
Topping - ( this is totally optional) 

Chocolate Ganache: 
Melted chocochips - 1/2 cup , mixed with vanilla essence and 2 tsp hot water to a pouring consistency. 

(OR) use chocolate syrup

  1. Sieve dry ingredients well ; mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients till no dry streaks are seen. 
  2. Pour in lightly greased moulds ( you can use normal steel bowls - but I used ramekins)
  3. Cover tightly with Aluminium foil and prick small holes on top to let out the steam
  4. Keep a steamer ready with boiling water. 
  5. Steam the ramekins or the cake moulds for 22/24 mins or till fork comes clean (Steaming time might vary, but keep an eye after 22nd minute, overcooking makes them rubbery) 
  6. Makes three 4 oz + three 2oz cake 
  7. Let the cakes cool down slightly. Un mould them carefully, drizzle warm chocolate ganache / choco syrup and devour them immediately :)

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 68


September 29, 2016

Moong Dal Spicy Idli | Low carb Idli | Diabetic recipes

Tired of eating the same Idli varieties ? Then try this fuss free Moong Dal Spicy Idli that's not only low on carbs (yes, there is but a handful of rice in the batter), but is also spicy and goes well with any chutney or Molagapudi for the breakfast time. I was looking for steamed food options, when a previous edition of "Prevention" magazine carried this Idli variety. 

For a South Indian like me, this was double jeopardy - too tempting to try out, but at the same time was unsure about the results. However, the man's complis at breakfast this morning laid all that to rest. Although the elder kiddo was not sure why her Idlis were not the usual 'white coloured' button shaped ones, she ate them too.  Just to make it all the more healthier, I added a bit of grated ginger & crushed pepper, and they turned out to be super nutritious and healthy too ! 

This is definitely added to my list of healthy breakfast options.

                  Prep time - 10 mins + 4 hours of soaking time
                  Cook time - 10 mins
                  Makes ~ 12 - 14  Idlis (medium sized)
                  Fermentation time - Min 8-12 hours
                  Serving Suggestions - Any  chutney  or Sambhar or Molagapudi
                  Difficulty level - Easy
                  Ingredients: ( 1 cup = 200 ml)
                  • Whole moong dal (with skin on)- 3/4 cup
                  • Whole Urad Dal - 3/4 cup
                  • Rice Rava (homemade) - 1/2 cup 
                  • Raw rice - a handful
                  • Salt - to taste
                  • Oil - 1 tsp
                  • Cashew nuts - a few
                  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
                  • channa dal / split bengal gram - 1 tsp
                  • Grated ginger - 1/2 tsp
                  • Chopped chillies / ground pepper - 1/2 tsp (I didn't add this for the lil one's idlis)
                  1) Wash and soak the dals and rice together for 3-4 hours. Grind to a smooth Idli batter. Add the rava and mix well, let it ferment overnight or for a min of 8 hours.
                  2) Beat the batter well. Add salt and mix again. 
                  3) Grease the idli plates well.
                  4) To a portion of the batter, make the tempering using the above ingredients in the list, and add to the batter, whisk thoroughly. The rest of the batter can be made plain without plain as well. 
                  5) Pour this into greased dimples of the Idli plates.
                  6) Steam for 10-12 mins (this might require a little more time than the usual idlis)
                  7) Cool,un mould and serve the hot idlis with any chutney or molagapudi
                  8) Serve while hot/warm only. Doesn't freeze well or keep beyond 3-4 hours once prepared. The batter however keeps for 1-2 days under refrigeration. 

                  Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 68


                  September 28, 2016

                  Fresh Rajma Sundal ~ Navaratri Sundal recipes...

                  Rajma (kidney beans) is mimickingly called "Rajamma" in our house,and is eaten if that's the last resort and they have NOTHING else to eat. Knowing this trend, I hardly make "Rajma-Chawal" at home. 

                  The man of the house however raves about the Rajma Chawal made at his boss' place and I am like "What's wrong with my version?" !! Well ! to each his own... I often disguise this legume /lentil into Rajma Pepper Quesedillas or a Multigrain Adai (Thick Mixed lentil crepe)

                  But when my neighbourhood vegetable vendor told me about some fresh Rajma (kidney beans) plucked off her farm, I bought some from her and immediately made this Sundal. Both the man and the elder one loved it and went for second helpings ! There, I had a winner :-)) I am keeping my eyes open for the next batch of fresh rajma from now on :-)

                  Although I have made Sundal (or steamed snack / Steamed Salad) with most legumes soaked and steamed like Channa dal,Black Chickpeas,Masoor Dal,Green Gram(payaru),Avarekaalu,Battani (fresh green peas),Kabuli ChannaSprouts, there was something fresh and vibrant about using the fresh legumes. If you do have access to these, make it for a quick snack / side dish and you will love it :)

                  Prep time : 5 mins, Cook time :15 mins ; Serves : 3

                  You would need:
                  • Fresh Rajma - 1 cup (200 ml = 1 cup)
                  • Salt - to taste
                  • Fresh Coconut - 2 TBSP
                  • Oil - 1 tsp
                  • Urad dal / split black gram - 1 tsp
                  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
                  • Red chillies - 1 no.
                  • 2 green chillies -slit 
                  • Curry leaves - few
                  • a pinch of Asafoetida
                  • Finely chopped coriander - 1 tsp
                  1. Steam cook / Pressure cook the fresh rajma with a pinch of salt. Drain completely.
                  2. In a pan, add oil, splutter mustard seeds. Add the dal, let it brown a bit. Now add the other ingredients and saute well. 
                  3. Tip in the cooked Rajma and stir well, adjust salt.
                  4. Top with fresh coconut and serve immediately

                  Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 68


                  September 27, 2016

                  Sweet Aval Pidi Kozhukattai | Naivedyam recipes | Gluten free snack

                  Aval / Avalakki / Poha (more so the Red variety) is high in B12 and Calcium. Eating poha on a regular basis can prevent iron deficiency or anaemia as it contains 20 mg of iron in every 100g raw rice flakes. We love Poha as an ingredient in most forms - Lemon Poha, Microwave Poha ChivdaDadpe Pohe, Vangi Poha,Gojjavalakki,Curry leaf pohaCurd PohaIndori PohaPatal Pohyache Chivda etc.

                  Today we use White Poha in this yummy steamed snack thats apt for Naivedyam for Ganpati or any festival, but Red poha works best . If the kids love sweet nibbles, then this is a perfect treat for their sweet tooth.

                  Adapted from Aarti's recipe, made minor changes and the kids liked it. I made a small portion as I wasn't sure if the kids would like it, and the elder one having a morsel quite declared it worthy of kid friendly :-))

                  Lets see how to make this..

                  Sweet Aval Kozhukattai | flattened rice steamed sweet snack

                  Prep time : 10 mins ; cook time : 10 mins ; Makes : 6-8 nos

                  • Poha / Aval / Chooda / Flattened Rice / Avalakki- 1/2 cup
                  • Jaggery - 1/4 cup**
                  • Cardamom powder-a pinch
                  • Fresh Coconut - 1/4 cup (or about 2 TBSP)
                  • Water - 1 cup (I used a little less than this)
                  • Ghee - 1 TBSP
                  • Salt - a pinch
                  **This dish is very mildly sweet but we liked it that way. You may use 1:2/3 ratio of poha if you prefer it to be sweeter.

                  1. Coarsely powder the poha. In a non stick pan, add the jaggery and half the water and gently simmer till the jaggery melts, strain the water and add it back to the pan if the jaggery has impurities (I didn't strain as the quality of jaggery was good). 
                  2. Now add the cardamom powder, ghee , a pinch of salt and bring to a rolling boil adding the remaining water,now add the powdered poha, coconut and stir vigorously till it comes together and leaves the sides of the pan
                  3. With greased / wet hands, make Impressions with your fist (or Pidi) on one portion of the dough and steam in a steamer for 6-8 mins till they turn glossy. Serve warm or with a drop of ghee.

                  Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 68


                  September 26, 2016

                  Undlige | ಅಕ್ಕಿ ತರಿ ಕಡುಬು | Steamed broken rice savoury snack

                  I have been a fan of this Kannada Youtube Channel - Swayampaaka for a long time now - perhaps the language used (Kannada) is a familiar throwback to my Bangalore days and childhood, perhaps the dishes dished out is familiar, while some unusual dishes are also a revelation & a new recipe :)

                  One of the few dishes which caught my fancy was today's recipe - Undlige (aka Akki Thari Kadubu). Akki Thari or broken rice is a versatile ingredient- and Upma with field beans, Buttermilk Rice Rava UpmaIdli etc are made with this Rava. You can see how to make this Cracked Rice here on my blog.

                  This final week at Cooking Carnival, we shall see some steamed food from across the country, and partake of healthy food :)

                  The original recipe used rava made of slightly red rice, but I used normal white rice rava. Guess the taste would vary slightly, but we loved it a lot. The husband, Amma and me are great fans of steamed food like Upma KozhukattaiNuchinundePalak MuthiaAmmini KozhukattaiFaraaWholewheat Momos and the like. Pepper Idly  - another staple in our breakfast menu is a favourite amongst the entire family too.

                  I followed the recipe with some minor modifications. It goes well with Coriander Coconut Chutney or Eerulli Gojju (onion in tamarind gravy) too, but we had it with Chutneypudi and homemade Ghee - thats so typical of Karnataka Cuisine. It was hearty, filling and most importantly healthy as it was steamed.

                  Undlige - Cracked Rice steamed with spices : a vegan, glutenfree healthy steamed snack
                  Served with Chutneypudi and homemade Ghee

                  Prep time : 10 mins | Cook time : 8+10 mins | Makes : 12-14 medium sized Undlige

                  • Rice Rava (homemade) - 1 cup (220 ml)
                  • Oil - 2 tbsp
                  • Jeera / Cumin - 1 tsp
                  • Chopped green chillies - 2 nos (adjust spice)
                  • Freshly grated coconut - 3 TBSP
                  • Hing / Asafoetida - 1/6 tsp (skip for GF version)
                  • Chopped coriander + curry leaves-  1 tsp
                  • Salt - to taste
                  • Water - 3 cups (same cup as rice rava)

                  1. Grind fresh coconut and chillies coarsely - I skipped this and used them as is. 
                  2. In a non stick pan, dry roast the rice rava for 3-4 mins on low flame till really hot (making sure u dont burn it or it doesnt change colour. Remove to a flat plate.
                  3. In the same pan, add oil. Once oil is hot, add the water (3 cups totally), let it come to a rolling boil, add cumin, coconut, green chillies, hing, salt,  coriander and curry leaves (If grinding the chillies and coconut, add that first into the boiling water, stir well and add rest of the spices etc).
                  4. Let the water continue to boil. Pour the roasted rava in a steady stream into the boiling water, stirring all the time. Stir well for 1-2 mins. Cook and cover for 5-6 mins till its cooked to a upma kind of consistency. Transfer to a flat plate, and let it cool slightly (but not fully).  
                  5. Meanwhile, heat a steamer with lots of water. grease a steaming plate with 1-2 drops of oil. 
                  6. With slightly wet hands, pinch out a roundel from the cooked rava, quickly working with your hands make a ball and slightly flatten out and place on the greased plate. Work thru the rest of the cooked rava quickly else the rava will dry out & harden and wont steam properly.
                  7. Once all the Undlige are made out on the plate, place in a steamer and steam for 14-18 mins (you may use a cooker also but dont add the pressure weight, invert a small stainless steel tumbler over the pressure valve).
                  8. Once done, cool for 2 mins, gently de-mould from the steaming plate and serve hot with Sambhar / Chutney / Chutneypudi of your choice.

                  Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 68


                  September 24, 2016

                  Cream of Carrot Almond Soup | Rich Soups | Easy soups for kids

                  As we conclude our Soup series week here at Cooking Carnival, today's is a rich, creamy soup that's more of a light brunch rather than an appetiser. Team it with some Roasted Garlic focaccia as we did and you have an awesome brunch / supper.

                  My kids definitely enjoyed these soupy treats, as did I :) Hope you did too, In case you missed some of the soups this week, here's a quick recap

                  Corn Spinach Soup
                  Bottlegourd Soup
                  Chukandar ka Shorba
                  Tomato Veg Clear soup
                  Veg Manchow Soup

                  Today's richness comes from the fresh cream, almond meal and the juicy Carrots. We were lucky to have a bunch of Organic baby Carrots come our way from a friend, so made this as soon as we saw them :)

                  I wish I had clicked a pic of those baby carrots - my little one was so excited to see the carrots along with fresh green stalk on top, she was hopping like one happy bunny :)

                  So, if you have access to fresh carrots (the orange, not the red variety), do make these, although frozen should work as well. Lets get to make these :)

                  Gluten Free Cream of Carrot-Almond Soup | Can be made vegan too :)

                  Prep time : 15 mins ; Cook time : 10 mins ; Serves : 4

                  • Fresh Carrots - 150 gms
                  • Onion - 1 large
                  • Garlic - 2 pods
                  • Veg Stock - 2 cups (unsalted) or use plain water
                  • Cheese powder - 1 tsp
                  • Salt & pepper - to taste
                  • Almond meal - 4 TBSP
                  • Fresh Cream - 3 TBSP- skip for vegan version

                  1. Peel the skin lightly , dice the carrots. In a pressure cooker, cook the carrots with the onion and garlic till soft. ( you could skip the onion / garlic entirely and it wouldn't make too much of a difference) 
                  2. Cool and puree. 
                  3. In a sauce pan, add the puree, veg stock (or water), almond meal, salt , a dash of pepper powder and whisk well. Simmer on a low flame for 7-8 till it considerably thickens. Switch off the flame
                  4. Stir in the cheese powder, fresh cream and mix lightly.
                  5. Serve hot with a dash of cream and crushed black pepper on the top :)

                  Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 68

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