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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The quintessential Punjabi kadhi and Guru ka Langar !


Here in the Roy household, we have officially renamed Sundays as "Languages Day" . Why did we do so? ...waiting to tell you that ...well , you see the kids have a Hindi class in the morning , a little break , then off to the Gurudwara in a neighboring city  for Punjabi class followed by sprinting to the other side of the said city  for  Bangla class. The classes for the latter two languages just started last Sunday which is a significant fact related to the blog. How ?? well , you see I didn't know how long it would take to commute from Punjabi class to Bangla class and thus rushed through the Guru ka Langar at the Gurudwara. Guess what was being served in the langar ? Kadhi ..my absolute favorite any given day and in the God's house, magnified in taste quadruple times.
 

Since then I have been craving it . I knew my rendezvous with kadhi was coming soon and when the skies decided to become overcast  , the pull was just too much . Suffice it to say , Punjabi kadhi found it's  way on the menu today . Yes, the quintessential Punjabi kadhi with fenugreek dumplings.. you simply cannot get any more authentic  than this. Coming straight from the heartland of the Punjab with absolutely no fusion element thrown in . The recipe is a rare untouched one that keeps passing from one generation to the generation without losing its "sanctity" in the process.
 
Ingredients -
 
Dumplings -
1/2 cup fresh fenugreek leaves ( washed and chopped)
1/2  cup gram flour (besan)
1/2  chopped coriander
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp carom seeds or ajwain
1 green chilli finely chopped
1/2 tsp amchur powder
1 small onion chopped
1/2 cup water for mixing
 oil for deep frying
 
Kadhi -
 2 cups sour yogurt ( add lemon juice for normal)
1/3 cup besan or gram flour
1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
salt to taste
3 cups water ( by all means add more for thinner consistency)
3 tbsp. oil
5-6 cloves
10-15 black peppercorns
2 dried red chillies
2 onions sliced
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp asofoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/3 cup dried fenugreek leaves
1 potato cubed
1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
 
Method -
Mix all the dry ingredients for the dumplings , add the water to form a firm batter .
Heat the oil in a wok  and fry the dumplings in small batches.
Now for the kadhi. In a separate bowl. with the help of a whisk , mix the yogurt with the besan adding just 1 cup of water first. When you have a smooth blend, add the remaining 2 cups and blend thoroughly .
In a wok , heat the 3 tablespoon of oil and add the fenugreek seeds , dried red chillis ,cloves, peppercorns and  asofoetida .When they begin sputtering , add the ginger garlic paste .
Saute for a few minutes and then add the sliced onions . When they become translucent , add the cubed potato and when  half done,add  cumin powder , turmeric , coriander powder , red chilli powder and salt.
Immediately , add the besan -yogurt mixture . Now, we have to keep on stirring it till it comes to a boil. Add more water if you so desire . Once that happens, reduce the flame and  let it simmer while stirring continuously.
After 10-15 minutes , add the dried fenugreek , garam masala and remove from flame . You can add the dumplings now or at the time of serving.

 Serve hot with roti or boiled rice . Do remember to share some with your neighbors as it customarily done.
 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Besan ke ladoo and advent of the festive season !

I'll be the first to admit of my extreme pickiness when it comes to eating mithai.  Sweet tooth , I'm certainly in possession of , but mine seems to be a very selective one. Give me syrupy , too sweet mithai and I won't even touch it  even if I am on an abandoned island with no food supply...okay that is me being overly dramatic but you guys get the point. On the other hand, there are some members of the mithai species that I am simply unable to resist ..Their lure is just to too much for my feeble will to resist .. besan ke ladoo tops that list .
Besan ke ladoo also occupies a special place in my heart because it was the first mithai that I made after moving to the States after my marriage . The occasion was hubby's birthday and I wanted to send something sweet for his colleagues. They wanted something uniquely Indian and beasan ke laddoos became the apparent choice for I wanted the sweet to be wholesome and not sticky and be utterly delicious as well. The ladoos made the occasion memorable and I have always gone back to this recipe for celebrating other happy occasions...like when the first time my kids helped me make mithai..any guesses as to  what it was ? Yesterday too, on the happy festive occasion of Ganesh Chaturti, decided to make the ladoos again  and share with you guys as well..atleast pictorially.

Ingredients -
2 cup besan
2 tbsp. semolina or sooji
1 cup sugar
1 cup desi ghee
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
15-20 almonds chopped
 
Method
On very low flame, in a karai , roast the besan with the sooji for about 3-4 minutes making sure to keep on stirring continuously.
Now increase the flame to medium and add the ghee and chopped almonds.
Keep on stirring continuously (we don't want it sticking to the bottom ) till it starts giving out oil and you get the aroma of cooked besan.
Add in the cardamom powder, remove from flame transfer it to a thali to cool.
Once it becomes lukewarm, mix in the sugar with the help of the spatula thoroughly.
Cool a bit and now start making them in small bowls and garnish with chopped almonds.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Eggless Fatless Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread and Ode to Fall !

Why an ode to Fall? Why not ? It is my most favorite season.. crisp coolness in the air, breathtaking colors of the foliage , family pumpkin picking trips , craving some of them as jack-o-lanterns ,  apple cider...the list can go on and on but I will skip to the most pleasure inducing part of the list .. fall baking...the chill in the air gives the perfect excuse to indulge in some aromatic fall favorites like pumpkin pie and apple quick breads . The addition of the pumpkin pie spice lends such an aroma to the bakes that they become a treat for the senses. The flavors of the autumn bakes leave you spell bound and make you crave for these culinary comforts every fall.
Rummaging through old pics, I can easily spot many in which we all seem to be enjoying pumpkin bakes..Be it pancakes , scones or quick bread, Trader Joe's had it covered for us . Yes, I did not do scratch baking at that time. But the abovementioned used to do their job beautifully and baking them gave me the confidence to try baking from scratch.. Fast forward a few years and here I am sharing a recipe of eggless, fatless , whole wheat pumpkin bread with you guys . So , now you can enjoy fall's comfort food without worrying about your waist line . Sure, it has sugar in it but you can reduce it's quantity too  .

The recipe is courtesy of happyherbivore.com and the only changes I have done is use buttermilk instead of non dairy milk and cut the amount of sugar in the recipe form 1 cup to 1/2 . I was fortunate to have pumpkin pie spice in my pantry but if you guys don't have any , 1 tsp cinnamon powder and 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder should do the job perfectly . I found the batter mixture to be a bit dry but did nothing about it ..you guys are welcome to add more buttermilk for a softer consistency.

Ingredients -
1/4 cup buttermilk ( just put few drops of lemon in 1/4 cup of milk and let sit for 5-10 mins)
1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
1 cup packed brown sugar ( I used 1/2 )
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups whole wheat flour

Method -
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F . Grease and flour a loaf pan for the bake.
Make the butter milk by adding few drops of lemon juice to 1/4 cup milk and letting it stand for 5-10 mins.

Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl (whole wheat flour, pumpkin spice , baking soda , baking powder ) and set them aside.
In a separate bowl , cream the pumpkin puree, sugar , maple syrup and vanilla extract.
Now, add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet ingredients alternating with the buttermilk . Fold gently and take care as to not over mix.
Transfer the batter into a loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour till a tooth pick inserted comes out clean .
Cool on a wire, rack ,  cut into slices and enjoy this  guilt free fall treat .

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Romanian Sweet Pasta to Bake Or Not ?

The Gemini in me is never satisfied with the normal stuff . It compels me to try something new or else run the risk of spending some time with Mr.Boredom himself. I try to avoid such an encounter by trying out new recipes every week but then my inner Gemini finds that boring as well and in order to satiate it , have to add a new twist to this new recipe tryout thing. So , from time to time I hunt down international recipes and give them a try . It gives me an insight into the local flavors preferred by the people in  that geographical location which helps enrich my culinary journey and by reading this blog yours as well I believe. Anything to keep things interesting ,eh? 
Last month , my international bake was an orangy twist to the popular middle eastern Basbousa . We made it as part of  the kids summer geography club and it was so much fun. The kids are back to school now but wanted  them to be part of the experience too , hence chose a simple enough recipe . This Hungarian sweet pasta seemed appealing enough especially from  kids perspective. Let's admit it  -they adore pasta , even the healthy whole wheat one and this sweet version is sure to perk them up. So , give it a try when you feel they have been specially good and deserve a sweet treat . 
Did I mention that this recipe gives you the option to bake it or not? You read that correctly. If you want a more firmer effect , you are welcome to keep it in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F . I skipped that altogether ..was feeling a fit feverish and didn't feel inclined to wait another 20 minutes. But if you guys have better patience than me , do give it a try and let me know how it turned out. Many online versions also call for baking it in a pie dish ..by all means explore that possibility as well if you are so inclined. While at it , shake up the ingredients a bit by adding a half a teaspoon  of lemon rind too.

Ingredients

450 grams pasta (boiled and drained)
1 cup organic maple syrup or honey (by all means use less)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp powdered cloves

Method
Boil and drain the pasta and keep it aside.
Now on a saucepan , over medium heat, heat the maple syrup and walnuts for 2-3 minutes. 
To this , add the raisins , cinnamon powder and powdered cloves. Let it simmer for additional 2-3 minutes, 
Add the prepared sauce to the pasta and give it a good mix.Serve warm

Sunday, September 6, 2015

100% Whole Wheat Bread and Not Just Sweet Things !


It is a common misnomer that baking is all about sweet stuff . Mention the fact that you bake and chances are you might get a response like "Ohh...your kids must be happy to always have an ample stock of cake and brownies "  well...I do bake the aforementioned but most people don't realize that there is more to baking that just the usual array of cakes and cupcakes that we all get a pictorial overdose of online. I believe these heavily frosted "sweet devils" take all the limelight while the humble life sustaining bread and countless other savory baked things have to take the  backseat . 

I personally believe that baking bread is very therapeutic. Few things give more pleasure than the sight of home baked bread straight from the oven . One feels a connection to all those souls who have lived centuries before  and enjoyed this so rewarding pursuit.On more than one occasion , I have wondered how it would feel to bake bread in the royal bakery of KIng Ramses ! But, the chances of me being involved in some sort of time travel and whisked to Ancient Egypt is practically zilch so for I will stop my day dreaming and  concentrate on this blog post.
It all started with this so proper English aged cheddar cheese that I was lucky enough to sample. I'm not a cheese lover but this one had won me over .Immediately bought it but knew that in order to fully enjoy  it , had to be paired with whole wheat bread. My favorite fresh rosemary bread  would not do in this case as it would overpower the cheese. The quest for whole wheat bread began and King Arthur came to my rescue . I found a great recipe that turned out according to my expectations..it even exceeded them judging by the copious amount of cheese that has already disappeared .

Ingredients
1 packet instant yeast ( 7 grams)
3 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (I used honey)
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 to 1 1/4 cup warm water 
1 tsp salt

Method
Take 2 tablespoons from the required amount of lukewarm water and dissolve the yeast in it Wait till bubbles form.
In a bowl ,mix all the ingredients along with the yeast-water mix and stir it together till it dough leaves the sides of the container.
Let the dough mixture rest for 20-25 minutes in order to fully absorb the liquid and the bran to be softened.
Now on a well dusted surface, knead the dough for a good 8 minutes till smooth. You may also use the stand mixer .
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl , cover it with plastic  and keep in a warm draft free place for rising .  Do not wait for it to double in size. It should give a puffy appearance. 1-2 hours rising time is ideal.
After the first rising. take it out and on a oiled work surface, shape it into a loaf . Place it in the  pan ,cover with plastic wrap and keep it for the second rising. This should take another 1-2 hours .
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F while you are the end of the second rising period.
Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes . You may cover it with aluminium foil if you find it to be over browning.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack . When completely cooled, cut in slices and enjoy .

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Corn Bread and the CookBook Aisle !

A visit to the library excites me almost the same as a trip to the shopping  mall does to most other members of my species ! I won't bore you, gentle reader ,with the details as to how the sight of a new and promising book makes me almost giddy with anticipation.You get the picture right ? What I would like to share is that , lately though I find myself in the cook book aisle more as opposed to the mystery or vintage romance one. It has got absollutely nothing to do with me being becoming more mature ..believe me!!! Anyways . coming back to the cook book aisle , there has been a particular book which has always beckoned me (being always always displayed prominently in the center ) but failed to pique my interest . Maybe, I like to the challenge of finding a  good book myself as apposed to it being served to be in a platter ..I mean aisle.
Suffice to say that after repeatedly "avoiding" it , I finally gave in to it's lure and managed to check it out. See , I am a Gemini and have been known to change my mind. Rightfully so,because this book turned up to be a fascinating take on the Southern culture and cuisine . It had an interesting  story line too and did not give the bored vibe of a non fiction book. Let me point out that I do not read cook books just for the recipes.....the stories behind them interest me equally as well . Good food for me is not just the right ingredients but also the heart , soul and the individuality  the person making it brings. 
Smitten  by the book, it was but natural that it would inspire my next bake.  I have tried the Mexican Corn Bread earlier  and it was  a successful bake.. since then I have been on the lookout for a good authentic recipe for southern corn bread. All too sweet buttery commercial version does not interest one. Imagine my joy when I came across this "hand me down from one generation to the next " recipe of corn bread and knew that I had to bake it at once. Though the end result had the perfect texture and authentic taste, I was compelled to make some changes to the recipes to achieve that. The batter was too runny for my taste so that prompted me to add another 1/4 th cup of corn meal.Keep that in mind when you give it a try.

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup corn meal ( found the batter too runny..so added another 1/4 th)
2 eggs room temperature
2 tbsp sugar (if your prefer sweeter ,add more )
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup butter milk (made it at home by adding lemon juice to milk)
1/4 cup butter melted

Method
Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees F and grease/flour a 8 inch square baking dish. You may also use a muffin tray.
 Prepare the  buttermilk by adding half a lemon to the required milk and letting it stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl sift the flour, salt, sugar , baking powder and soda and give it a good whisk.
Now , add the corn meal and set aside.
In a separate bowl , mix the eggs, buttermilk and butter well.
Slowly add the flour mixture making sure as to not overmix.
Pour into the greased pan and bake in the preheated oven for 20 -25 minutes or till golden brown.

Cool down sufficiently , cut into squares and enjoy.