Thursday, November 27, 2014

Foxtail Millet / Thinai Sarkarai Pongal / Thinai Sweet Pongal



Sarkarai pongal is a traditional rice dish sweetened by jaggery with lots of ghee. I made this sweet pongal with thinai (foxtail millet) and reduced amount of ghee. This is yummier than the traditional rice pongal. I have started making this with different millets, as this offers a different kind of nutrition. Thus healthier too! You can make this as dessert for your next party or make it on Pongal festival (Indian Thanksgiving).



Ingredients:

Foxtail millet - 1 cup
Split moong dhal - 1/4 cup
Jaggery - 1 cup, grated
Cardamom - 2, crushed
Ghee - 6 tbsp
Cashews - 2 tbsp
Raisins - 2 tbsp
Water - 3 and 3/4 cups

Method:

Wash rice and split moong dhal. Add water, cover and cook on a medium flame for about 20 min in a heavy bottom pan. By this time, both the millet and legume would have cooked down nicely to a slight mushy texture which is perfect for pongal. Add the grated jaggery and cardamom. (if you know that it doesn't have any impurities). Continue stirring and cooking till all the jaggery is dissolved. Add 2 tbsp of ghee or melted butter and continue simmering for another 3 - 4 minutes. Make sure it doesn't get burnt at the bottom. Switch off the flame. 



In another small pan, heat remaining ghee. Add the cashews and raisins and fry till golden. Add it to the sweet pongal, mix and serve.






Tips:

1. This dish can be made with any millet or a mixture of them. I will post pictures of different millet sweet pongal soon.

2. To remove impuritied from jaggery:  Boil jaggery  with a little amount of water till it dissolves. Filter and discard the impurities. This jaggery water can be added to the recipe.

3. If you are not conscious about calories, feel free to add another 4 tbsp of ghee. You will have a taste of heaven.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Vanilla Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

Almost everyone of us play Candy Crush game. It's such a cool game! Many times the game says delicious, divine..... To understand the divine flavor one must taste a food with the perfect combination. There is one combination which is always "DIVINE" - Orange and Chocolate. Yes it is! they pair so well and many times I have indulged on dark chocolates with orange. It's awesome delicious!  The cookies made with orange and chocolate chips are always a super hit in my home. When you bake this one, you can feel the aroma of vanilla and orange dancing in your home! I made these cookies as a special for Children's Day (November 14 is celebrated as Children's Day in India). These were perfectly ready when the kids got home and guess..........they were so happy entering the home sniffing, grabbing handfuls and happily munching them with milk (perfect combination for a cookie)! What else could be the perfect snack on a special day for the children!



A perfect bite:



Ingredients:

Maida / All purpose flour - 2 cups
Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Grated orange rind - 3 tsp
Butter - 100g or 7 tbsp
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Vanilla  - 2 tsp
Dark chocolate chips - 2 tbsp
White chocolate chips - 1/2 cup
Flax seed powder - 2 tbsp
Milk - 1/4 cup

Method:

In a cup, add milk to flax seed powder and set aside for 5 min. to make the flaxed egg. Sieve maida. baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix in a bowl and keep aside. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Add the orange rind, flaxed egg and beat well. Add vanilla. Start adding the flour to the butter mixture couple of tbsp at a time and beat well. When all the flour has been mixed well and the chocolate chips and mix.



Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (cleaning is easy) and scoop out balls (approximately 1 tbsp each ball) of the cookie dough 2 in. apart. Slightly flatten them. 




The will spread while baking but not too much. Bake for 12 min or till the edges are starting to get firmer. Cool on a wire rack. 


Store in a dry container (whatever is left out). This is a soft baked cookie and this measurement makes 38 cookies.



Tips:

1. I used to added couple more tbsp of butter, but this reduced version equally tastes good. If you want, feel free to add 1 or 2 more tbsp of butter.

2. As I said, this is a soft baked cookie. For a crunchy one, bake for 1 or 2 min. more.

3. Use a microplane grater to get the rind alone from the orange. Use Navel oranges. The cookie is a little yellowish because of the addition of orange rind.

4. For a milk free version, feel free to use orange juice in place of milk. I have made using orange juice  and is delicious too.

5. A cookie scoop helps to get same sized dough very easily. If you don't have one, measuring spoon is more than enough.

6. If you want to add more chocolates, increase it by 2 more tbsp. You can add either dark or milk chocolates or a mixture of both too.



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Weekend Brunch and Recipe for Bagalabath or Yougurt / Curd Rice

A relaxing, flavorful comfort food in the weekend boosts all your energy for the week ahead. I always enjoy cooking special menu for the weekend rather than eating out - not that I never eat outside but the thought of a tasty homemade meal is much comforting than going to a restaurant. This weekend I made different variety rice and this kind of meal is always a hit whether you have a get together or not.







I made Baby Aloo Pulao, Tomato Rice (satvik version with no onions), Karuvepillai Rice (curry leaf rice), and Bagalabath or yogurt rice (link for the pulao and curry leaf rice is given). I made karamani parupusili (a traditional Iyengar veggie recipe made with veggie and toor dhal), fried some home made vadams (fryums) and pickle. Carrot almond kheer - a perfect dessert for the perfect meal. It was a wonderful and delicious meal - the apt way to describe is DIVINE!





Here I have the recipe for yogurt rice. It is very simple to make and you can never go wrong making yogurt rice. It has all the goodness of yogurt and hence it is good for health too. A very simple way - just add fresh yogurt to rice (adding salt is optional) mix and there you go. I have lot of memories having this wonderful rice with lots of fresh ripe mangoes (for many people this is a childhood lunch box favorite). Yogurt rice with mangoes is a perfect combo. Even now it is my favorite one (and also to many). Summer months are always enjoyed with fresh ripe mangoes and fresh mango pickles and yogurt rice. Though raisins, pomegranates, grated cucumbers and carrots also equally flavorful, the best way I like is with fresh ripe mangoes or with grated unripe mangoes. Also, you cannot deny the divine combination of this rice with spicy mango, lemon or chilli pickles or mormilagai (picled and dried green chillis deep fried). Coming back to the recipe:



Ingredients:

Rice - 1 cup
Water - 3 cups
Yogurt - 2 and 1/2 cups
Milk - 3/4 cup
Salt
Cilantro - 1 or 2 tbsp (for garnish)

Seasoning:

Oil - 1 or 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Split urad dhal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 or 2 sprigs
Green chillies - 1 or 2, chopped

Method:

Wash and cook the rice with 3 cups of water.



Mash the cooked rice a little. Heat oil in a pan, add the seasoning ingredients one by one after the mustard seeds splutter. Add the seasoning, salt, yogurt and milk.



Mix thoroughly without any lumps. Garnish with cilantro.



You can add or top the rice ripe or unripe mangoes, pomegranates, raisins, grated cucumber or carrot. This quantity alone serves 4 to 6 people and if you have a few other dishes too, can feed about 8 persons.

Tips:

1. If you don't wish to mash, then the texture of the yogurt rice would be grainy.

2. Adding 1/2 cup of cream enhances the taste and will a sure hit for parties, for regular days I prefer adding milk to cut down the calories from cream.

3. Adding fruits like pomegranates or mangoes is very tasty and healthy too.

4. Some people may not like to add mustard seeds in this rice. This is the traditional way, if you don't like it just skip it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Eggless cake recipe for Halloween!

I made these cupcakes for Halloween and this is one of my eggless cake recipe. I actually thought of filling the light green color inside the chocolate cake but when I was making the cake I changed my mind and made something similar to two layered and some with marbled effect. Buttercream frosting was perfect and the kids had loads of fun. It is actually fun when they squeeze the frosting as it naturally comes in all different shapes and is perfect for Halloween. This is yogurt based eggless cake and a very tasty one. I always use apple cider vinegar with my eggless cakes which gives very good soft texture. Try these and you'll never believe these are eggless!




Ingredients:

All purpose flour / Maida - 1 and 1/2 cups
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Baking powder - 1 and 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Vanilla essence - 1 tbsp
Yogurt - 1 cup
Apple cider vinegar - 1 tbsp
Oil - 1/2 cup

If you want colored cake, any food color of your choice.
Cookies or jelly candies for decoration.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Sieve all purpose flour, salt and keep aside. In another bowl beat the sugar and yogurt till it is creamy. To this add the baking powder and baking soda. Immediately the mixture will be frothy. Let it be like that 2 or 3 minutes and then add the oil. Mix well and pour on to the flour. Beat well, add the vanilla essence and apple cider vinegar. Mix well. If you want to add color or chocolate powder add now and mix. Pour on to cupcake liners in a cup cake pan and bake for 17 - 18 min. or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. I used green and orange colored buttercream for frosting. Pipe the orange buttercream onto any cookie - "RIP or BOO or any words of your choice". Frost the cake with a star tip, the green colored buttercream and insert the cookie onto the cake. Alternatively, squeeze out a little buttercream, keep one or a few jelly candies and make it look like a bug. That's all a simple Halloween cupcake is ready. 


Tips:

I divided the cake batter into two portions - 1/3 and 2/3rds. To the one-third, I added green coloring and to the two-thirds, added unsweetened cocoa powder. You can add your choice of colors. If you are making chocolate cake add 4 - 6 tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder (according to your taste).

If you are baking in a  8 or 9 in. round pan or a 9x9 square pan, the baking time would be approximately 30 min. Check with the toothpick. 

You can make and decorate this cake following the recipe for any occasion.