Categories
Pickles/Preserves Side Dishes Vegetarian

Nimbu Ka Achaar – No Oil Indian Lime Pickle

I still have some left in the jar from my last trip to India.Every time I scoop out a spoon ful to serve on to my platter, unconsciously, I drop a few wedges back. Then I smile at the silly thought which crosses my mind. I just don’t want that jar to be empty ever! Is that even possible?Maybe not.Its not just mom’s nimbu ka achaar, its her love,which I want to relish in all my meals.

Store-bought pickles fail to satisfy me. Too much oil, overload of spices, a preservative cloned after taste – if I may complain. At times, I am desperate to make my own.Not much luck with that;I have not been able to find the lemons, raw mangoes or chillies which come close to the ones we get back home.

After almost three years of living here, my happiness knew no bounds when I spotted these baby limes at a south asian store.Can you imagine my stroll as I rushed towards them? Top that with an unbeatable price of a dollar for two pounds. Can you? They were perfect – thin-skinned, spongy to press, acidic, and greenish-yellow.I knew I will be spending few hours with mom on phone to get her recipe & tips.Pickle will be made!

Indian summers present a perfect oppurtunity to sun-aided pickling.Pickles or achaar are an integral part of indian cuisine. A small amount is always served to square home style meals. Some like it for the tang they add & some like them for digestion. Seasonal fruits & vegetables are commonly used along with spices (fenugreek, mustard, nigella, chillies etc) & buckets of oil to make pickle batches which last through the whole year.

Nimbu Ka Achar, Indian Lime Pickle, Sinfully Spicy

Sun cooked pickles are the ones are where the gold lies, I m too fond of them.Unless you put in hours of labour & showcase patience while the pickle cooks in the warmth of the sun, the business is far from over. I have seen everyone in the family slog over them.Not to forget the high levels of hygiene required all through – clean spoons & hands, sterile jars and what not.

This irrestible “no oil” lime pickle is able to perfectly live up to the expectations – tart, succulent flesh & chewy lime skin – what a tease on the tastebuds. The lime wedges pickle in their own juice and a handful of spices. The spices are few but quite typical to

Ingredients :-

  • 3 lbs baby limes/lemons (or any thin-skinned variety)
  • 2 tbsp kala namak (black salt, substitute with table salt)
  • 6 tbsp kali mirch (black peppercorns)
  • 6 tbsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 3/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 3-4 tbsp sea salt or as needed (substitute with table salt) (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 10-12 limes)
  • 1-2 tbsp granulated sugar (I have not used it but can be added if you like to add a sweet note to your pickle)
Needed :-
  1. Kitchen Towels
  2. A large, rectangular glass dish (I use my pyrex casserole dish)
  3. Plastic Wrap sheet
  4. Clean, dry Wooden Spoons
  5. Wide-Mouthed, Sterile Canning Jars (preferably with plastic or glass lids).Click here to see how you can sterlize the jars.

Method :-

Preparing the limes

Put all the limes in a colander and wash thoroughly under running water. Let drain in the colander over the kitchen sink for at least 15-20 minutes. Spread the limes over clean kitchen towels and rub to completely dry them. You can put them in sun too for this purpose. Ensure that the limes are completely dry before you start cutting them.

Next, with clean hands, quarter or half the limes (depends on the size you like) and remove as much seeds you can.Once cut, transfer the wedges on to a large glass dish, spread them in an even layer. Sprinkle black salt over the limes and with clean, dry hands, rub the salt with the limes. Cover the glass dish with a plastic wrap, poke few holes in the it & let sit in the full sun for 3 days. You will see that the lime wedges will start to dry (slightly) & there is liquid at the bottom.

Making the Pickle 

On the fourth day, coarsely grind the kali mirch in your coffee grinder. Put the ajwain next & pulse a few times. Take out the mixture in bowl & mix hing powder, red chilli flakes and sea salt (along with sugar, if using) with it. Sprinkle this mix over the lime wedges along with lime juice. With clean hand, thoroughly mix everything together. Again, cover the glass dish with a fresh plastic wrap, poke few holes in it and let sit in full sun for 15 days. You will need to stir the mix once a day using a clean,dry wooden spoon. You will see that as the days progress the skin of the limes starts softening & turning brown along with liquid at the bottom getting thicker than on the very first day.

At the end of 15 days, check the salt of the pickle again & adjust (if required) , mix up the pickle well with clean, dry wooden spoons and transfer to canning jars. Dont full till the top of the jar but at the same time don’t leave a lot of room for bacteria in air to get moldy. Leaving 1/2 inch space from the top is okay. If you are using jars with metal lid, you will need to cover the mouth of jar with plastic wrap to avoid the contact between pickle & metal.Let the jars sit in sun till the limes are totally soft, brownish in color & the liquid is more like a syrup. You will need to shake the jars periodically. In Las Vegas sun, it took about 3 weeks to get that stage.

There is no need to refrigerate.Sun-cooked pickles normally last at room conditions. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickles, they keep for months or years together.

Serve the pickle as a side to your meals, grind and add to marinade of meats.I like to spread the pickle on top of my crackers as well as on flatbread crisps.

Notes:-

  1. Any thin-skinned citrus fruits will work in this recipe – baby tangerines (narangi), kumquats etc.
  2. Do not under salt your pickles else they turn bad over a period of time.
Categories
Desserts Easy Recipes Festival Recipes Vegetarian

Cardamom Shrikhand With Mango Saffron Compote

Allow me to call it a beauty.I dont mean fancy or flashy.Neither I want to hint that I toiled over this dessert for hours. It is something hopelessly easy to make, yet succeeds in achieving the delight a dessert is supposed to bring. Softly tart yogurt flavored with freshly ground elaichi (cardamom),topped with a luscious mango saffron compote – as simple as it can get but like a little sunshine on the spoon.

It is hard to believe that something so unfancy & minimal as yogurt & sugar can turn into a creation which appeals to the sweet tooth. I admit that cardamom & cream add more body to the dessert – making it a little more wonderful.Cream is traditionally not used – I like it for the added richness that it lends here. Trust me, never a easy dessert would taste so very spectacular.

Shrikhand is a yogurt based sweet dish originally from western parts of India. But now, it is popular all over the subcontinent. Basic shrikhand recipe is like a blank canvas – some like to add nuts, some combine chopped or pureed fruits with it and some let the melt in the mouth consistency remain unadulterated. Experiment as it pleases you.

I ate shrikhand for the first time prepared by one of my friend’s mom in Pune. She served it along side pooris (deep-fried flatbread) & a spicy bean sprouts curry. The combo was tad odd for me. Supposedly the yogurt is supposed to calm down the spices of the meal as you eat.I m not exactly sure how few bits of that first not-so- appreciable taste testing stuck with me.Eight years down the line & now I immensely enjoy shrikhand with pooris. Just like any comfort food, the sugar & oil overload is quite addictive.

Usually, pureed mango is mixed with hung yogurt & shrikhand becomes amrakhand. My favorite summer fruit is here. I bought season’s first batch last week & they seemed perfect to add a texture to the dessert.The mangoes were ripe & sweet – a compote was definitely on my mind. Addition of saffron to it seemed an obvious decision to accentuate the exotic flavors. The fact that I prepared the dessert with homemade dahi (indian style yogurt) made me a little happy than usual.

Preparation Time :- About 8 hours (includes draining in the refrigerator) 

Cooking Time :- 10 minutes (for both shrikhand & mango compote)

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

For the Shrikhand

  • 1.5 cups whole milk plain dahi (substitute with plain yogurt)
  • 100ml heavy cream, cold
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 8-9 green cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder)
  • pinch of nutmeg powder
For the Mango Compote
  • 3 tbsp luke warm water
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, cored, diced
Needed:- Colander, Muslin/CheeseCloth,Bowls
Method 
Making Shrikhand
Line a colander with muslin/cheese cloth large enough that you can tie up its ends. Place the colander over a large bowl. Ensure that there is gap between the colander bottom & the bowl bottom to collect the draining liquid. Pour the dahi into the colander,wrap up and tie up all the ends of the muslin/cheesecloth. Let the dahi drain for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight inside the refrigerator.
Note :-Dont leave dahi while it drains outside, else it will turn sour.Discard the whey once drained. Reserve the muslin/cheesecloth.(If in hurry, you can use Greek yogurt to make shrikhand too. Skip this step if doing so)
Transfer the strained, thick, cold dahi into a bowl. Add cream to it and start whisking using a hand beater. Slowly add the sugar and beat until you get slightly stiff peaks.
Again tie the dahi – cream mix in the muslin/cheesecloth & let drain in the colander arrangement (as explained above) for another 2 hours inside the refrigerator.
Break open the cardamom pods & grind the seeds using a mortar & pestle.Tip – Always buy whole cardamom pods.This way of making your own powder saves a lot of money.
After 2 hours, transfer the drained dahi  mix to a bowl. Add cardamom & nutmeg powder and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Let chill for at least 3-4 hours or till ready to serve.
Scoop the chilled shrikhand into serving bowls & top with mango compote (recipe below). Keeps well in fridge for 2-3 days.
Making Mango Compote  
In a medium bowl, dissolve the saffron in lukewarm water till it dissolves. About a minute or so. Stir in the lime juice, sugar and mix till sugar dissolves. Add in diced mangoes. Cover and chill upto 1 day.
Enjoy & thanks for stopping by!
 

 

Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Easy Recipes Side Dishes Vegetarian

Achari Paneer Tikka – Skewered Indian Cheese With Pickling Spices

 

 

Achari comes from the word “Achaar” which means pickle in Hindi. Tikka is any kind of boneless meat or vegetables baked or roasted on skewers. Pickles in India are a serious business involving lots of spices, lots of oil & lots of solar energy. Achari is a method of using the pickling spices to make curries. The spice mix is pungent and resonant with bold flavors from fenugreek (methi dana), mustard (raai) & nigella(kalonji) seeds.These spices are not hot, rather they are pungent, quite bitter and have a very strong aroma.In pickles, they ferment over a period of time & give a tangy taste. In curries, they lend a really unique & piquant taste. Achaari preparations don’t taste like normal curries, the taste is acquired & unusual, but at the same time can be very very addictive. Having said that, this should not stop you from trying these skewers coz they are different and really delish. Give these tikkas a chance – trust me it will take you straight to India.You just need to stock up on few spices which last forever from indian stores.


 

Ingredients (Serves 2-3) 

  • 400 gms /14 oz paneer ( Indian cheese, pierced with a fork,cut into 1” cubes)
  • 1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 10-12 grape tomatoes, whole
  • 1 medium red onion,diced
  • Oil for brushing
  • Lemon Wedges, Cilantro for garnish
  • 10-12 bamboo skewers

Notes:-

  1. Paneer is easily available in Indian stores under different brands.
  2. Paneer can be replaced by extra firm Tofu or Halloumi /Any cheese which can withstand grilling or roasting without melting.
  3. You can use any vegetables of choice here – zucchini,mushrooms work great. Just ensure that the cooking times of vegetable dont vary much.
  4. Dice the vegetables smaller/thinner than paneer, coz it takes less time to cook than veggies.
  5. For the Non vegetarian Version– Use boneless & cubed lamb, mutton, beef, chicken(dark portions) or shrimp.

For the Marinade:-

  • 1/2 tsp each of cumin, fennel, coriander & brown mustard (raai) seeds
  • 1/4 tsp each of nigella & fenugreek seeds
  • 4-5 dry red chillies or red pepper flakes (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 3 tbsp plain, thick greek yogurt, slightly sour
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp mustard oil (preferable for better taste, can be substituted with canola/olive/corn oil) 
  • Salt to taste 

Method:-

  • If using bamboo/wooden skewers soak them in water for atleast 2-3 hours.
  • Soak the cubed paneer in enough warm water seasoned with salt for about 15 minutes.Once soaked, drain and pat dry with a paper towel. 
  • In a small sauce pan, on high heat, lightly dry roast all the seeds under the “For the Marinade”.Roast for about 20 seconds or till you smell the aroma.Remove into a small bowl and let cool.
  • Next, in the same pan, roast the whole red chillies for about 20 seconds.
  • Tip the cooled, roasted spices along with red chillies into mortar or coffee grinder. Grind to a smooth powder to get a achari spice mix.
  • In a bowl (big enough to hold the marinade & ingredients), combine the yogurt, achari spice mix, ginger, garlic,oil,lemon juice & salt.Whisk well to mix.
  • Combine the paneer with the achari marinade,toss gently, cover the bowl with a cling film and set to marinate for 30 minutes,refrigerated. 
  • Add the vegetables to the marinade 5 minutes before ready to cook the skewers. This is important to keep the moisture of vegetables intact.
  • Once marinated, thread the marinated paneer & vegetables on soaked bamboo skewers. Brush with oil on all sides.
  • Cooking the Tikka :- I grilled the skewers on high for 4 minutes each side. You can cook them in my broiler till the paneer edges started to turn brown.About 10-12 minutes.You will need to flip them sideways to cook on all sides. Alternatively you can cook them in a skillet/griddle (about 8-10 minutes)
  • Serve warm with green coriander-mint chutney and flatbreads or rice. 

Notes:-

  1. If using red meat or chicken for making this recipe, marinate the meat overnight or atleast 6 hours to get better flavors.
Categories
Easy Recipes Lentils Side Dishes Vegetarian

Sukhi Urad Dal – Tempered Dry Lentils

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Ingredients: – (Serves 2-3) 

The recipe can be used to make any lentil variety you wish to. Just adjust the cooking time depending on the lentil type and whether it is split or whole.

  • 3/4 cup dhuli urad  (Split urad lentils, easily available in indian stores)
  • Water for Soaking (as a thumb rule, 1:3 ratio of lentils to water)
  • 1/2 cup water for cooking (or as required, depends on how old your lentils are, grain size etc)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • Fresh lime juice (as per taste)

For Tempering: –

  • 3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp sabut dhania (coriander seeds), crushed
  • 1/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 cup sliced onions
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger julians
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 3 Thai green chilies, chopped (adjust to tolerance)

Notes: Hing (asafoetida) is a pungent, unpleasant smelling indian spice but adds a lot of flavor to the tempering. Try getting it in powdered form in indian stores, trust me its worth the buy!

Method: –

Pick the urad dal and thoroughly wash it under a stream of water, 2-3 times. Let soak in enough water for at least 4-5 hours. Note: Soaking the dal is really important so that you don’t end up overcooking it on the stove. Once soaked, drain the water & discard. Spread the soaked lentils on a paper towel.

Cooking the Dal (lentils) – In a heavy bottomed pot with a lid/kadhai, add the soaked lentils along with turmeric powder, salt to taste & 1/2 cup of water. Note: -This quantity of water may sound less, but if your lentils are soaked properly, this amount of water is sufficient to cook them. Transfer the pot to the stovetop, cover with a lid & let the water come to a boil on high heat. When boiling, you will see some scum/foam on top of the lentils.Using a spoon, remove it. Once boiling,reduce the heat to minimum and let the lentils cook on low for about 8-10 minutes. You may need to go and gently stir once or twice in between while cooking to prevent lentils from sticking to bottom. Also if you feel that water needs to be adjusted, do so but add very less quantity of water at a time. The whole idea is not to end up with mushy lentils. We want the grains to remain intact and al dente. After you see that all the water has been absorbed by the lentils (approx 12 minutes from start), remove from heat and let the lentils sit in their own steam for 5-8 minutes. Fluff up with the help of fork once done. Tip:-Once the lentils have cooked & are hot, avoid stirring or mixing too much- they will become mushy.

Tempering the Dal: In a saucepan, add the ghee and let heat on medium. Once heated, add the cumin & coriander seeds and let crackle for about 30 secs. Be careful while adding the spices to hot ghee, they splutter. Reduce the heat to low and add the hing powder, sauté for 10 seconds. Just take care that the spices don’t burn. Add the ginger julians and garlic next and cook for 1-2 minutes till you smell the aroma. Increase the heat to medium and add the sliced onions and let the onions cook till they turn golden brown.About 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat once the onions have browned and add the red chili powder.

Immediately add this tempering to the cooked lentils along with garam masala and chopped green chilies. Mix thoroughly, adjust the salt if required and squirt some fresh lime juice.A dollop of melted ghee on top tastes amazing too.

Serve warm with flatbreads or rice.

Categories
Non vegetarian one pot meals Rice Dishes

Lemon – Ginger Rice Pilaf With Green Chicken Balls – Served With Tempered Raita (Yogurt)

 

 

 

This is a very easy but flavorful basmati rice pilaf that I created last week. Or lemma brag that it is my own recipe. no reference or cookbooks. Long grain, aromatic basmati rice is cooked in a lemon & ginger flavored broth with hints of aromatic indian spices. I wanted the pilaf to look “summery”, so I chose to avoid reddish look from red chilies powder or yellowish look from haldi (turmeric). The chicken balls are green & succulent with lots of cilantro, mint, and garlic and loaded with the magical garam masala. The flavors are subtle but classic – citrusy, soul warming & comforting. All in all best served as a side along with tempered raita (yogurt) or any curry /dalor eat on its own as a light summer meal.

 


 


 

 

Ingredients: – Serves 4

For the Chicken balls: [Makes 20-25 balls of the size shown]

  • 1lb ground chicken (don’t use ground chicken breast, use a mince which has good ratio of dark meat & fat, also take care that the mince is not too fine if you are getting it from the butcher]
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1.5 cups finely chopped, fresh cilantro, stems & leaves (substitute with parsley)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint, leaves only
  • 4-5 Thai green chilies, finely chopped (Adjust to taste, with this quantity, balls will be on the spicy side)
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala 
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Oil for rubbing on palms

Notes: –

  1. You can use the same recipe to make curry with the chicken balls. Just mix in some minced ginger with the chicken in that case.
  2. For a vegetarian version, you can add dal wadi (lentil drops), soya chunks, paneer cubes, any kind of beans or an assorted vegetables (slightly steamed) of choice. Drop the step where we cook the chicken balls in the method below and proceed.

For the Pilaf: –

  • 1.5 cups Basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup mustard/canola/olive/vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced onions (use any variety you like, don’t use sweet onions)
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated (can be avoided)
  • 4 Thai green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • One 2″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 7-8 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods (hari elaichi)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6 tbsp fresh lemon juice (adjust to taste)
  • 2.5 cups water /stock (Depends on rice variety, adjust as per package instructions)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • Cilantro, Lemon wedges etc for garnish

Method: –

Pick the rice and wash under 2-3 streams of water.Let soak for 30 minutes. In a cheesecloth/muslin, wrap tightly the black peppercorns, cloves, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods. In a bowl, add all the ingredients under the heading “For the Chicken Balls”. Mix gently with hands to combine well. Do not apply too much pressure while mixing else the mix will become sticky. Once mixed, apply some oil on your hands and make balls of the size you wish. Dont make too big balls, coz after cooking, these swell up. Line the balls on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

While the chicken balls are refrigerating, to a heavy bottomed pot with lid, add the oil and heat on high high. If using mustard oil, heat the oil to smoking point to do away the raw smell. Reduce heat to medium and add the sliced onions to the pot and sauté them till they turn light brown. At this point add the slit green chilies, grated garlic (if using) & ginger, bay leaf, cumin and cinnamon stick to the pot and sauté for 30 secs. Next add 2.5 cups of water/stock to the pot. Tip in the cheesecloth wrapped spices into the water, add 1 tsp salt and let the water come to a boil.About 8 minutes.

Once boiling, add the refrigerated chicken balls to the pot. Start by adding a single ball, if it does not spread, add all of them one by one in a single layer. If balls are spreading, mash them down & add a binding agent like cornstarch or egg. Let the balls cook for 5-8 minutes in boiling water till they are 95%  (almost) cooked. Do not overcook else they will become rock hard. Strain the balls out of the pot in a plate and set aside.(This cooking time will depend on size of your balls)

Measure out the stock in the pot to whatever quantity is required to cook your variety of rice.The basmati variety I use takes 2 cups stock to 1 cup of rice to cook. Return the measured stock to the pot. Add the soaked, drained rice to the pot along with ground nutmeg & lemon juice. Check the seasoning again and adjust if required.

Cover the pot & bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and let cook for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the lid, and add the chicken balls & melted butter gently mix with a wooden spoon & leave to steam on the stove for another 5-8 minutes.Pick out the spices wrapped in cheesecloth & discard. Garnish the rice with chopped cilantro & lime wedges. Serve with tempered raita.

To make Tempered Raita: – Beat 1 cup of cold, plain Greek yogurt in a bowl. To this add any thing you like from tomatoes, boiled potatoes, grated cucumbers chopped onion, boondi etc as long it pairs with yogurt.I am not giving any quantity here coz there are no measurements as such. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.To temper, just before serving to a small saucepan, add 1 tbsp of oil and let it heat on high. Once heated, add 1 tsp each of cumin seeds & black mustard and let crackle. You can add some chopped green chilies too. Once crackling, remove from heat and let cool off for 2-3 minutes. Add salt to yogurt along with tempering and mix well. Serve.

Categories
Baking Desserts Eggs

Apricot-Cornmeal Upside Down Cake

For someone like me who is not a big fan of chocolate,baking with fruits is one of the most favorite things.It gives a perfect opportunity to experiment recipes with fruits & relish the results.Baking with fruits always overwhelms me, the way the flesh, natural oils and sweetness transform inside the oven is intriguing.Take for example an apple, the texture before and after baking is completely different and good in its own way..while the fresh one is juicy & crunchy, baked is dense & succulent.

Me and P adore fruits & try to include them as much as possible meals.With temperatures already soaring in Vegas,fruit based recipes are absolutely delightful.I saw really gorgeous stone fruits at the grocery store a week back.There is something about pink/plum/red colors – they catch my eye from far away and seem to call my name.I rushed towards them.There lay boxes of fleshy,bright-colored peaches, nectarines & apricots in front of my eyes,each trying to catch my attention.Helpless at being able to choose, I bought all of them – all in the name of health foods! Gnawing my teeth into fleshy stone fruit is super exciting.The rush of juices between the teeth & the texture from the flesh add a refreshing dimension to my dull, lazy days.Eating fruits heals me psychologically, it’s comforting to feel the intake of antioxidants the most natural way possible.

Our tastes in fruits match  to the extent that we LOVE them but differ in the kind of fruit.While he is a tropical fruit fiend, I swear by berries & stone fruits.The moment,I picked up the first apricot,Oh what a pink blushing beauty it was outside.I pitted it knew that I had to make something to showcase inside-oozing with juices, accurately tart & with golden-colored flesh, just waiting to be baked!

Started my google search and found this perfect recipe from Good houseKeeping of an apricot cornmeal upside down cake.It has very less quantity of oil.And one of my favorite ingredients to bake with – buttermilk! I was slightly apprehensive because I had never baked with cornmeal what if we don’t like the taste or it doesnt rise much or is dry? It was painful to think about  a 8″ cake making its way into the bin.But then, unless I took a leap, I would not have discovered the delight of baking with cornmeal.We totally loved it.It was moist, perfectly sweet & very homey looking.The slight tang from the buttermilk complemented the sweetish tartness of apricots very well.A perfect cake for summertime get togethers. Below goes the recipe:-

Ingredients :- [ Makes one 8″ tall cake]

Printable Recipe

[Adapted from here ]

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 whole ripe apricots
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lime zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Method:-

  • Wash the apricots if using fresh.Ceach cut in half and pit them.Set aside.If using canned apricots, drain them and discard the liquid.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 8″ cake pan with at least 2″ high sides. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over bottom of skillet. Arrange apricot halves, cut side down, over brown sugar.
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, granulated sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until blended.
  • In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, butter, oil, lime zest, and vanilla extract until blended.
  • Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and fold with a spatula until just blended. Pour batter over apricots and using a spatula spread evenly.
  • Bake 30 to 35  minutes, or until skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean.Mine took 32 minutes.
  • Let cool in skillet on wire rack 10 minutes. Run knife around side of skillet. Place platter on top of skillet and carefully invert cake onto platter. Remove skillet.
  • Cool cake slightly to serve warm, about 30 minutes.

Notes:-
  • I thought that  just 4 tbsp oil+butter for a 10″ cake was less.So I increased the oil quantity by a tbsp.
  • If you like your cakes very sweet, then you may need to increase the sugar quantity in this recipe.
  • This recipe will work well with all kinds of fruits.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!
Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Brunch Salads Side Dishes Vegetarian

Bharwaan Tamatar-Indian Style Stuffed Tomatoes

Living in Las Vegas is so much fun.I call it my second home.A city,I personally feel everyone should see once in their lifetime for it’s a different ball game altogether when it comes to defying the meaning of entertainment.The first time I went to the strip,the only thing I was doing for initial one hour was to swing my head in all directions possible to catch the glimpse of the glitz while sipping on the yard long glasses which were the additional wonder of that day.You walk into a casino and there’s this sudden thrash of loud music,gaudy yet ornate decor and lots and lots of people.I call it the MAD crowd…mad about enjoying life, about letting their hair down and experimenting with their fortune.Walking into a casino is a great stress buster on the other hand, every time I have walked in with a cluttered mind, feeling low,I seem to forget my worries for some time, its like a magic wand erasing all the tensions for a while when you see everyone around letting down with a common mission-to enjoy!

P always says that the downside of being a local is that we wont be able to enjoy the stay in luxurious hotels here.It is our secret wish to lock our house for 2 days sometime, take a cab, grab few clothes and stay over at one of the casino resorts and experience the king size life for few days out there.But did I tell you that locals enjoy discount rates at casinos and shows?I love the pace and quality of life in this city.Love the landscape which is all about tall,lush palm trees and succulents but still a drive through the valley is bound to leave you asking for more.I do not miss sky scrapers here; I like the homely feel of apartment homes and condos.The weather is extremely hot & dry,I have humidifiers in the house and battling the scorpions during summer months becomes a challange.The ONLY thing I miss a lot is the rains!With almost 340 days of full sun, I strive hard to save my little home garden from the gusty winds and aridity.Sometimes it just feels so dry that I have a hidden fear of not getting enough water to drink.

 

Tomatoes remind me of all those summer evenings at home when mom used to quarter them,sprinkle some salt and gave us a bowl each before dinner.Let me confess I do not like raw tomatoes all on their own. I need bread,cheese or some other veggie paired along to eat them raw.Another point of stark contrast from P who pops them into his mouth like a candy.This is one of my summer favorites, stuffed tomato recipe which my mom used to make during the times when abundant tomato produce hit the market.You can put any kind of stuffing – this is my indian way of doing it.Normally, paneer [ indian cheese] is widely used for stuffing, I like the tang of cheddar more instead.I usually like to serve them as appetizers, you can make a gravy and serve them as a main dish.Pair great with cheese puffs or a dry side with lentils.Recipe below:-

Ingredients:[Serves 2-3]

Printable Recipe

  • 6 medium size, firm tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil mixed with 1/4 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp white poppy seeds to sprinkle on top
Stuffing:
  • 3 medium size potatoes, boiled
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup frozen yellow corn
  • 1/4 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 green chillies,chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red chilli flakes [adjust to taste]
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds,crushed
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1 /2 tsp dry mango powder [ amchoor]
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp golden raisins [optional]
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Method:-
Preparing the tomatoes:-
  • Wash the tomatoes, pat them dry and using a sharp knife cut off  a about 1″ thick slice on top of the tomatoes.Reserve the tops.Note :- Just check that all the tomatoes rest on their bases, if not cut a thin slice from bottom to balance them.
  • Run a sharp knife all around the edge of the tomatoes and using a melon baller or scoop,take out the seeds and pulp. Tip:-Do not discard the pulp, refrigerate/ freeze it,can be used in curries or gravies later.
  • Using a paper towel pat dry the inside of the tomatoes and rub them with seasoned olive oil inside and outside.Set aside in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Making the stuffing :-
  • Thaw the peas and corn if using frozen.Mash the boiled potatoes thoroughly so that only tiny bits remain.
  • In any heavy bottomed utensil, heat the oil on medium and add cumin seeds and green chillies to it, fry for 30 seconds.Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 1 minute.Add the chopped onions next and cook until they turn golden brown.About 7 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the turmeric powder, red chilli flakes and crushed coriander seeds.Cook for 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the spices.
  • Turn the heat high and add the mashed potatoes, peas ,corn and combine everything.Add salt and let cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.The mixture should be ready when you can smell the aroma.
  • Remove from heat and add garam masala, grated cheddar cheese,raisins.Combine well.Let the stuffing cool down for 5-8 minutes.

Making the tomatoes:-
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.
  • Make balls out of the potatoes mixture and fill it into the refrigerated tomatoes.Do not press down.
  • Transfer the stuffed tomatoes to a greased baking dish or cast iron skillet,cover stuffed tomatoes with the tops and bake for 15-18 minutes or until the skins start to shrivel and the tomatoes are soft to touch.Towards the end of baking , sprinkle the poppy seeds and continue to bake till done.Note that for the last few minutes you need to keep a watch to avoid tomato skins from rupturing.
  • Serve warm.
Notes:
  • Instead of baking, you can cook the tomatoes on stove top covered over medium -low heat.You will need to separately toast poppy seeds and sprinkle before serving.
The composition of main dish pictures is inspired by White on Rice Couple.The beautiful setting in their pictures stuck in my memory for days.
Enjoy!
Categories
Beverages Easy Recipes Festival Recipes

Thandai-Fragrant Milk Drink With Spices,Nuts & Mint

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients [serves 4]

  • 4 cups of whole milk (substitute with low-fat/almond milk/soy milk)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup unsalted cashews
  • 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds [or melon seeds if available]
  • 2 tsp white poppy seeds [available in indian stores under the name ‘Khus-Khus‘ or ‘Posto‘]
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns [adjust to taste]
  • 7-8 green whole cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds [or aniseed]
  • 1 tbsp rosewater [use 1-2 drops if using rose essence]
  • pinch of saffron dissolved with 1 tbsp of warm milk
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves [don’t use too many else drink will turn bitter]
  • Sugar to taste
  • Nuts and ice cubes [optional] for garnish

Method:

  • Soak almonds,cashews, fennel, poppy, pumpkin seeds, cardamom & black peppercorn in enough water overnight or for at least 5-6 hours.
  • Once soaked, drain the water and discard it.
  • Tip in the soaked nuts& spices along with rosewater and mint leaves in a blender and grind to a smooth paste.
  • At this point, refrigerate the paste if you want to use it later.The paste keeps fresh for 4-5 days,refrigerated.
  • For making the Thandai: Tip in the milk, cream,dissolved saffron along with sugar to the taste in a blender on smoothie mode and churn for 3-4 minutes on high till everything comes together.
  • Pour into glasses, garnish with nuts and serve chilled.

Variations :

  • You can use the cold milk mixture to make a thandai ice- cream.
  • Blend it with lots of ice and 2-3 tbsp condensed milk and make a smoothie.Adjust sugar in that case.

Enjoy ! Happy Holi Everyone!