December 31, 2014

Best of 2014 - a look ahead for the next year.....

As the new year 2015 unfolds in a couple of hours (it has already begun in several countries east to where I live), its that time of the year (perhaps forced, perhaps reflective, perhaps both) – to ponder upon how the year was the last 364 days. I will let my food pics do most of the talking.  I have selected Top 7 8 (don’t ask me why not top 5  or top 10) –8 just happens to be a fancy number right now – that reflects the changes / new ideas I brought In my kitchen this 2014

Quinoa, unbleached Bread flour, Instant yeast (yes!) – these were major new additions I cooked with. Also, the Indian Food odyssey & ABC World Food Marathon gave me ample research data into how food is perceived in various parts of india and the world. With a few ingredients different here and there, a new recipe evolves. There is a saying that in India every 200 km, the language (dialect atleast) and food changes. So true that !

So, to sum up : I am much more confident with yeast than I was before, and baked quite some during the past few months. Wholewheat is definitely replacing Maida (APF) – atleast by 90% in my kitchen, as are brown sugar / jaggery in place of refined sugar. Olive oil and ghee (yes!) are to replace fatty butter / margarine.

And to quote Julia Child “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” While I am not there yet, I am sure many more myths and fears will be broken as I steer my family’s health and eating preferences into tastier and healthier territories..
I leave you with some healthy and family favourites of 2014. Wishing all my readers and well wishers a healthy and enriching 2015 ! Happy new year....


Colombian Quinoa Mango Salad - my first foray into using quinoa in a salad

Hungarian Potato Salad -Potato lovers would love this :)

Moroccan Harira - Spicy Chickpea Soup - a super delicious soup that was licked clean !

Gujarati Oondhiyu - - my personal favourite ! 

Delhi style Dal Makhani - Need I say more ?

Dahi Ke kabab - a kabab that we would all love to dig into, again and again :)

Cabbage Dhokla - an experiment that turned out surprisingly well

Sajjige Rotti - Top marks from my mom for making this :-))
Linking this to Valli's Best of 2014 event . Thanks to all my Blogging Marathon friends for a stupendous year ! 

December 29, 2014

Chocolate Kalakand | Chocolate based cottage cheese bites | Easy Sweet snacks

As part of series of chocolate based holiday treats, today's dessert with Chocolate is a personal favourite. I am not really a chocolate person, but love milk based / mild sugar treats once in a while. The rest of the family including my little toddler loves dark chocolate and extra dark chocolate in various combos..  

Sweet need not be fattening or bad for the teeth. Moderation is the key. My kid's paediatric dentist once told me something I will always remember : "A kid watches you and imitates you in every way, be sure what goes into your mouth (food) and what comes out of ur mouth (words)" ! how true ...So keeping that in mind, dishing out simple, fuss free sweet snacks that will warm up the hearts of not only kids but others too at home. Linking this to BM #47 under Kids Delight Holiday Treats..

Hope you liked the series with Hot Chocolate & Vegan Wholewheat Chocolate-walnut Crinkle Brownies for this Blogging Marathon. 

If you like chocolate and paneer, you are in luck. For today's dish has both, along with a teeny weeny bit of sugar (I almost wanted to make it sans sugar, but added a dash of brown sugar). So lets see how to make this. 

Prep time : 20 mins | Cook time : 20 mins | Makes : 12-16 medium sized pieces

  • Paneer - 200 gms (store bought or homemade) - grated or finely crumbled
  • Ghee - 1 TBSP + 1 tsp (for greasing)
  • Semi Sweet Chocolate - 100 gms (I used Morde) - grated fine
  • Brown Sugar - 3 TBSP
  • Garnish - finely choppped pistachio and almonds

  1. In a non stick pan, add crumbled paneer and saute for 2-3 mins on very low flame till it starts leaving a little fat around the sides. Now add brown sugar and quickly whisk it in to prevent scorching.
  2. Then add grated cooking chocolate and again on a medium heat. slowly keep mixing on a very low flame. When the mixture begins to thicken, transfer to a greased tray.
  3. With the help of an oiled flat ladle, flatten it out a bit to medium thickness.
  4. Sprinkle the nuts and slightly press it down.
  5. After 30-45 mins, cut out squares. Refrigerate for an hour more and serve the individual pieces.
  6. This keeps upto 5-6 days under refrigeration

December 25, 2014

Vegan Eggless Dark Chocolate Walnut Crinkle Brownies | Christmas recipes | Eggless Brownie recipes

Brownies and celebrations are definitely in for Xmas. I wanted to give the usual buttery brownies a skip and go for healthy version. I saw these brownies in a magazine at a parlour many months ago and clicked the recipe on my phone (never mind the receptionist who was giving me looks :D). They seemed perfect, and boy they surely were. My neighbours were also happy eating them, and so were we on the healthy offering. Dark chocolate, Brown sugar, Wholewheat, Butterless, Eggless, almost Vegan - you really cant go wrong with these healthy combos.

Yes, you guessed it right - the theme for all 3 days this week is chocolate, and after a mug of Hot chocolate yesterday, its time for some Dark Chocolate walnut Crinkle brownies. Do indulge and you would walk away a happy person :-))

Prep time : 20 mins | Baking time : 25 mins | Makes : 12-14 large or 16 medium square brownies.
Cuisine : American | Type : Dessert or Snack

  • Wholewheat flour - 1.5 cups
  • Baking powder - 3/4 tsp
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder - 1/2 TBSP
  • Cocoa powder - 1/2 cup (I used valrhona - extra dark)
  • Brown sugar - 1 cup (packed)
  • Ripe Bananas  (large) - 4 nos
  • Oil - 3/4 cup + 3 tsp
  • Vanilla essence - 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon Juice - 1 TBSP
  • Walnuts - 1/4 cup - chopped
  • Icing Sugar - 1/4 cup (for dusting)

  1. Sift first 5 ingredients three times in a large bowl : Dry ingredients
  2. Beat ripe bananas (chopped) and brown sugar well (I powdered brown sugar cubes and add it to the banana puree). Now add lemon juice, oil and beat well. Add essence, mix and keep aside.
  3. Dust the chopped walnuts in a floured bowl (add 1 tsp of flour and mix the nuts well). Mix in these walnuts in the flour and give it a vigorous toss.
  4. Now preheat oven to 170 Deg C / 350 deg F
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture little by little and mix gently. Add extra oil (3 tsp) if required. mine was a little dry at the beginning and therefore I added oil in batches.
  6. Pour mixture into a prepared and lined tray.
  7. Bake at 170 for 20 mins and 155 for 4-6 mins (keep an eye after 15 mins and tent the baking dish with foil if you feel its browing too fast).
  8. Cool a bit and unmould. The top would have crinkled a bit (and thats why the name :D)
  9. Dust with icing sugar and cut into shapes desired. 
  10. Serve warm 

December 24, 2014

Hot Chocolate and Xmas - a match made in heaven | How to make Hot Chocolate at home

"Christmas is the Blessed season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love !"

On the eve of Xmas,  its time for celebration.  And whats better celebration than cake and cookies and warm goodies just out of the oven.  The nip in the air demands chocolate in many forms, and hot chocolate is just one of them. 

This week at BM there are special holiday treats as a theme. To begin with is hot chocolate – an eternal favourite for us, through the year. All these 3 treats go to Sandhya's event - holiday Treats (kids delight), original event by Valli

Hot chocolate as a beverage is made many ways. But I like to make it this way as my family enjoys it.
My kiddo decorating the xmas tree at home
May the festive season give you loads of reasons to smile and enjoy, as the year unfolds into a new 2015 in a couple of days more. Happy Xmas to all.

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time : 5 mins | Serves : 2
Hot chocolate
Cuisine type : Hot beverage

  • Cooking chocolate – 2 bars (about 50 gms)
  • Milk – normal or soya – 200 ml
  • Sugar – to taste
  • Cinnamon powder – ½ tsp
  • Dry ginger powder – a teeny weeny pinch
  • Cream - 1 TBSP

  1. Boil the milk and keep aside. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave for 30 secs till just melted. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except milk). Mix well.
  2. Stir in this mixture to the boiled milk and mix well.
  3. Serve hot or warm topped with cream

December 19, 2014

Sajjige Rotti | ಸಜ್ಜಿಗೆ ರೊಟ್ಟಿ | Easy Breakfast from Mangalore

After the Malnad region with Tambli and Flaxseed chutney podi from South Karnataka, we visit Mangalore Cuisine today. Influenced by coastal supply like seafood and coconut, Mangalore cuisine uses both abundantly. Wiki tells us  that Mangalorean cuisine is well known for their distinct flavor. In general, the Mangalorean recipes are quite spicy and fresh coconut is an integral part of these recipes. Rice is the staple food of the Mangaloreans though for the non vegetarians, fish is also a regular meal.

The cuisine of Mangalore would remain incomplete without usage of rice. Rice is cooked in various forms such as pancakes, wafer thin rice rottis served with chicken curry, grain rice, sannas i.e., idlis fluffed with toddy or yeast, neer dosa, etc.

Apart from rice, another important thing used in the cuisine of Mangalore is fruits. Many of the recipes at Mangalore are incomplete without the usage of fruits such as jackfruit, bamboo shoot, breadfruit, raw banana, spinach Basale, sweet cucumber known as Taute, etc.A remarkable feature of the Mangalorean sweet dishes is that instead of using sugar, Mangaloreans use jaggery made of palm so as to keep themselves healthy. Moreover, this sweet syrup has a fragrance and taste of its own and thereby makes the Payasam more delicious. Moreover, the three main things that add flavor to the various dishes of Mangalore are raw mango, tamarind and kokum (Source : Wiki)

Sajjige (ಸಜ್ಜಿಗೆ) in Mangalorean lingo, is Semolina or rava and is used to make not just upma but a super savoury breakfast called Sajjige rotti. This dish can be as plain or spicy as you wish. There are some who add curd and onions to this and some who dont, some who add grated cucumber and some who add carrots. Whatever the addons, the basic dough is made with semolina (aka Rava in local kannada). See Notes for more info.

You can give your usual dosa / idli / poha a break and head out here for an unusual and tasty breakfast item. Eaten as it is with a dollop of homemade butter or just jaggery-Ghee. We ate it with Flaxseed chutneypudi and it tasted out of the world :)

As this goes to BM#47, hope you enjoyed the Cuisines from Karnataka - Doddapatre Tambli, Flaxseed Chutneypudi and today's Sajjige Rotti. Stay tuned for a different theme next week as we roll up the year...

Sajjige rotti / semolina pancakes (hand patted)
Cuisine : Mangalorean (Karnataka), type : Breakfast / evening snack
Spice Level : Medium.
Type : Vegan 
Prep time : 15 mins | Cook time: 10 mins | Makes : 5 rottis

1) This rotti can be patted even thinner and bigger (almost the size of a dinner plate), but that would be flakier.
2) Dont confuse this with Sajje Rotti (of North Karnataka cuisine) - Sajje Rotti is bajra (black millet flattened bread), although the names sound similar.
3) This dough will dry up very soon so keep covered when you are flattening out one pancake.
4) Addition of onions are optional. Sometimes, the batter is also soaked in sour buttermilk and made like dosa (spread thin and roasted on both sides).

You will need:
  • Semolina (fine variety) – 1.5 cup
  • Cucumber – 1 medium
  • Salt – to taste
  • Coriander leaves – chopped fine – 1 TBSP
  • Curry leaves – few (don’t skip this)
  • Green chillies – 3-4 (adjust spice) – minced fine
  • Freshly grated coconut / frozen – ¼ cup
  • Optional add ons :  grated carrots, minced onions (I didn’t add)
  • Oil – to fry – about 3 tsp

  1. Dry Roast rava for 1-2 mins in a hot kadai (this step is totally optional but the friend who taught me this said it gives better results than raw sooji).
  2. Grind coconut with green chillies without any water to a roughish smooth paste.
  3.  Transfer to a bowl. Add peeled and finely grated cucumber (with the water that it would leave), coconut and the rest of the ingredients except oil and mix to a dough. DON’T add any additional water.
  4. Tip : The consistency of the dough should be drop proof (if you take a lump in your hand, there should be no water dripping not should the dough break into parts).
  5. Take a wax paper or oiled plastic sheet and flatten a portion of the dough onto it flattening out on all sides. Transfer it gently onto a hot tava, drizzle oil on its sides.
  6. Gently turn over once one side is cooked, if required, add oil on the other side.
  7. When it turns slightly brown and crisp, lift it off the tava / griddle.
  8. Serve hot with just pickle / chutneypudi / jaggery-ghee combo :)

December 18, 2014

Flaxseeds Chutneypudi | ಅಗಸೆ ಬೀಜ ಚಟ್ನಿಪುಡಿ | Condiment recipes

ಅಗಸೆ ಬೀಜ ಚಟ್ನಿಪುಡಿ or Flax seeds chutney pudi is one of a very flavourful chutneypudi. Like in my earlier post on Bangalore style Chutney pudi, this condiment is a favourite with Akki Rotti or any flattened bread. Chutneypudi is one condiment that never goes out of style, and I keep looking for ideas that make it better. Flax seeds needs no introduction to the blogging world - rich in fibre and great for the heart and blood, its also used as an egg replacer in many recipes. I also have another variation called Godhi Chutneypudi (flavoured powder with wholewheat)

Today's post is the 2nd in the One State-3 cuisines series of Blogging Marathon #47, we read so much about the Malnad Cuisine yesterday, and today we move to South Central Karnataka which boasts of delicacies like Avarekaalu Akki Thari uppittu (field beans Upma),  Obbattu. , Majjigehuli, Mysore Masala Dosa, KosambariDavangere Benne DoseChutneypudiRagi Mudde, Maavinakaayi Chitranna, Mysorepak etc. 

Green chillies, garlic and onion are used very sparingly in this cuisine (traditionally speaking), although most households use them now. Jaggery is also used extensively in making Rasam, Puliyogare etc and as I hail from this region, it took the DH quite some years to understand why I was using jaggery in almost all curries / rasam too. Its mostly to round off the bitterness or acidity or heat / pungency from other ingredients. The method of serving food in a thali is also particular to this region and is described here in this elaborate post of Obbattu

Also as the temperature is quite temperate / cool most of the year, vegetables are used extensively in cooking, as is coconut too. Today's post is a super yum condiment thats sure to tickle ur palate. I have modified Prathibha's recipe a bit, but thanks to her for a wonderful variation of Chutneypudi. We enjoy it with Idli / Dosa / Rotti

Prep time : 15 mins | Roasting and powdering time : 15 mins
Makes : Approx 200 gms of the Spice Powder
Stays : Upto 1 month without refrigeration, use dry spoon for every use

Agase beeja Chutneypudi - flaxseed spice powder
Cuisine : Karnataka, type : Condiment, Spice level : Moderately spicy

  • Flax seeds - 3/4 cup
  • Bengal gram (channa Dal) - 1/3 cup
  • Urad Dal - 2 TBSP
  • Coriander seeds - 3 TBSP
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Copra / dry coconut - grated - 1/2 cup
  • Byadgi / kashmiri red chillies - 10
  • Pandi / hot red chillies - 6 to 8
  • Curry leaves - 1/2 cup packed
  • Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp (if powdered)
  • Tamarind - medium lemon sized
  • Jaggery - same quantity as tamarind
  • Salt - to taste
  • Oil - 1 TBSP

  1. Wash flax seeds under running water in a sieve, drain immediately.
  2. In a hot dry kadai (pan), dry roast this wet flax seeds for 2-3 mins till it dries up and starts spluttering. Transfer to a plate. 
  3. Now dry roast all ingredients separately in the same order as listed (except for the chillies, jaggery and tamarind). Transfer to another plate.
  4. Now add the oil, and roast the chillies for 1-2 mins till they get glossy, transfer, and in the remaining oil toss the tamarind for 45 - 60 seconds till it gets crispy.

Grinding order:
  1. First grind flax seeds, tamarind, coriander seeds, jeera and chillies together. You would get a brownish mixture. 
  2. Now add asafoetida, salt, curry leaves and grind again to coarse powder.
  3. Lastly add copra, jaggery and just pulse for 10-15 seconds (too much grinding after copra is added will result in oil being released by copra).
  4. Check for salt and spices . Adjust if required.
  5. If you need some more spice, dry roast a tsp or two of kashmiri chilli powder separately for 15-20 seconds and then mix it once more.  
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