Monday, January 31, 2011

Pictures from Barcelona

We spent our 10th Anniversary last week  in Barcelona, Spain. Here are some pictures.

 Automatic (unmanned) tram going up hill towards Mt.Tibidabo

A Sacred Catholic Church on top of Mt.Tibidabo.

A Palace converted to a Present day Museum.

Olympic Stadium and Monument.

Antonia Gaudi's  "Guell Park"

La Sagrada Familia - Gaudi's Architectural Masterpiece.. Gaudi died in 1926 before completing the structure,  but the work is still in progress

La Pedrara - Another Master piece of Gaudi..

Have a great week. Cheers :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gobi Manchurian Dry - My version

Here's my version of gobi manchurian, that I tend to make often during these cold and chilly evenings. What else can beat this cold winter other than hot and spicy food :)
Gobi Manchurian has always been a nightmare to me and I have failed miserably many times in the past. But the following measurements, took out from a local magazine works well for me and nowadays I make it in a jiffy.
This is a easy to make dish if you have all the sauces ready at home. Try to use the light soy sauce and a hot variety of chilli sauce. I used the malaysian hot sauce - sambal olek, really spicy. Spring onion is a must as it adds a nice flavour to the dish.

For frying:
1 medium cauliflower cut into florets.
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp chilli sauce
salt as per need
1/ 2 cup All Purpose/Maida flour
1/2 cup Corn flour
One handful of Riceflour

For the sauce:
1/2 cup of onion thinly sliced
1/4 cup of capsicum thinly sliced (optional)
1 green chilly, chopped 
1/2 cup chopped spring onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tsp Chilli sauce
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup ( or ) 1 tablespoon tomato paste +1/2 tsp sugar
a pinch of red colour (optional)

Wash and cook the florets in microwave for about 4 mins. Drain and cool in a colander.
The above step helps to reduce the cooking time in oil. But its optional, you can also fry them directly.
Marinate the cauliflower with soysauce, chillisauce and salt for about 10 mins.
Heat oil in a frying pan.
Just when you are ready to fry, toss all the flour into the marinated florets. Mix well to coat.
Drop the florets in the oil and fry till crisp. Drain on a paper towel and keep aside.

Heat a pan with 2 tablespoon of oil.
Add the ginger, garlic, onion , green chilli and saute on high heat.
Now add the soy sauce, chilli sauce, salt, tomato ketchup and the red food colour and mix well .
Now toss in the fried cauliflower and the chopped spring onions, stir well to coat.
Serve hot .

Do not mix the flours well before frying, as it tends to get soggy by the time you finish frying. Just add them when you are all set for frying. 
Make sure there's no water in the cauliflower mixture before adding the flours.
Add some more corn flour if gets soggy.
Since the soy sauce has it own salt, make sure to add very little salt while sauting the veggies.

We are going on a short vacation to Spain middle of this week, So this space is going to be silent for another week, See you all after that :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Semiya/Vermicelli Pongal

Today afternoon I started doing some cleaning up for the Pongal festival. As I was working all the memories related to the Pongal holidays like cleaning the house, the house entrance being decorated with tender mango and palm leaves,  the colourful Pongal kolams, markets flooded with fresh turmeric, claypots, and sugarcane etc., came flooding to my mind. 
By the time I finished my work I had a sudden craving for something pongalish ;) ....With the festival being just 4 days ahead, I did not want to make sweet pongal or payasam and thus ended up making this vermicelli pongal.
Since I have made Semiya kesari before,  I knew that it pairs up well sugar, but with jaggery its an experiment I did for the first time and it turned out delicious.
When the sweet aroma of melted jaggery and cardamom filled the house, my son came to me and asked  "Amma sammi kumpidalama?" meaning 'Shall we go and pray?'. I was taken by surprise at the same time felt happy that he was able to relate the sweet aroma to something religious and festive :)

I would say that this is a super quick substitute for regular sweet pongal , takes maximum 20 mins.

1 cup Semiya/Vermicelli
1/4 cup moong dhal
3/4 cup shredded jaggery
2 pods of elaichi/cardamom
1/4 cup of sliced almonds/ handful of cashews
handful of raisins
3 tablespoon of shredded coconut  (optional)
2 tablespoon ghee


Boil the jaggery in 1/2 cup of water and filter through a mesh, just to avoid any impurities.
Take 1/4 cup of moong dhal in a microwave safe dish , add 1/2 cup of water and cook for 5-6 mins.
The dhal should be in a 3/4 th cooked state, need not be mushy.
Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a pan and fry the raisins and almonds till golden. Keep aside.
In the same pan roast the vermicelli till slightly golden
Boil 2 cups of water in a pan and add the roasted vermicelli and cook till all te water is absorbed.
Now add the melted jaggery, crushed cardamom, cooked  moong dhal and stir well,
Cook in medium heat until all the water is absorbed.
Stir in the roasted almonds/cashews, raisins, coconut and another tablespoon of ghee.
Mix well and serve warm

Iam sending this yummy pongal to the Pongal Feast event at 'Kurinji Kadhambam'

Monday, January 10, 2011

Short Bread Cookies with Chocolate Dipping.

This is one of the cookies that I baked during the holidays.I had a list of cookies planned out for the holidays, but this one sneaked into the list at the last minute. I usually avoid short bread cookies for their high butter content but the cute picture in Joy of Baking attracted me very much. I had all the ingredients on hand including the chocolate, so decided to make these in the last minute. One more reason to make these was to put my cookie cutter to use as the other ones did'nt need them. 

Source : Joy of Baking 
Ingredients :
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract.

For the dipping:
180 gms of cooking chocolate

 Sift the flour and salt in a bowl.
In an other bowl beat the butter with a hand mixer until fluffy.
To this add the sugar and beat until creamy.Add the vanilla essence and beat for another minute.
Tip in the flour mixture and mix gently. Take the dough out on a lightly floured surface and brig it together with your hands. Flatten it to disc shape , cover with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast one hour

Preheat the Oven to 180C
Roll out the dough to a quarter inch thickness and cut into desired shapes.
Place the cut out cookies on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown.

I did everything as per the recipe and refrigerated the dough for about 2 hrs. When I was ready to roll the dough it became so hard that it cracked and crumbled. After few minutes of trying I decided to add a tablespoon of water and microwave for 30 sec. Then I was able to roll it out easily between parchment paper and cut into shapes. I dont have a clue about why this happened , but it worked out very well in the end. So if you face the same problem, just go ahead and do the same :)

For the chocolate dipping:
Place 90 gms of chopped chocolate on a heat proof bowl place over a pot of simmering water.
Once the chocolate has melted remove from heat and add the remaining chocolate.
Mix with a wooden sppon until completly melted and glossy.
Dip the cookies one by one and place it on tray lined with parchment paper.Refrigerate for atleast 20 mins or until the chocolate is hardenned.

Sending these to Srivalli's Kids Delight - Chocolate event.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Instant Idli Milagai podi / Chutney powder.

It started raining here today, but a little warmer than usual.Weather prediction says it even more warmer in the weekend 8C or 9C quite unuusal for this time of the year. But its really good to go shopping as January is the official sale month over here at Brussels :)
I was little bit down  this morning  partly because of the dark , no sunshine weather and also because of my new 'trying to peek out ' wisdom tooth. Have been having a hard time with that and on antibiotics and pain killer for the past few days. Since Iam taking all these medicines I wanted to have good breakfast not the usual bread and stuff. I had a few laddles of left ove Idlibatter ,but was too lazy and tired to make a chutney, and ironically I ran out of Idli podi.  Then this method of making simple Idli podi , that Amma makes often whenever she faces the same situation came to my mind.  During schooldays I used to just make this for mysellf even if there is sambhar or chutney on the table. 

Its a tip rather than a recipe. Even my husband who does'nt like the regular Idli podi (can you beleive it !!)  loves this version.

Here you go.

Sambhar powder 2 tblsp
3 pods of Garlic
Gingelly/sesame oil
Home made Sambhar powder like the one here at Cilantro's works best. I think almost all South Indian home will have a jar of this. I get a big bag of this from Amma whenever I travel abroad.
Take 2 tblsp of sambhar powder in a small  bowl.
To this add 2 -3 pods of Smashed Garlic.
Add 1/2 tsp of salt. Add 2 table spoon of Gingelly oil (must).
Mix well, Let it sit for about 5 mins.

Do not chop or grind the garlic, it gives a bitter taste.
Do not dip the Idli /Dosai into it, unless you like it very very hot. Just a touch of it is enough to enjoy the goodness.

Let me know what you think .

Funny clipping from the cosby's show

If you dont have any idea about  what she is talking about check out this video  ..Partly cloudy

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Pal Koz(l)hukattai / Paal Kolukattai with Sugar

Like Everyone else in the Food blog world , I wanted my first post of the year to be a dessert or a sweet recipe. Hence this Palkoz(l)ukattai, a traditional Tamilian sweet/payasam  made with riceflour, sugar, milk and cardamom. I have already blogged about this one way back in 2006, but with jaggery instead of sugar. Its one of the popular posts in my blog to date

This is one of my favorite sweet and has loads of childhood memories attached with it. This is my Grandma's speciality and after her I dont remember anyone in  my maternal household making this nowadays.
Probably its time consuming and everyone gathers around in one place just for special occasions like weddings etc. In these days of fast travel, if at all we visit our native, its reach there by morning and start by night. Oh... how  I terribly miss my long summer holidays and endless chatting with cousins throughout the night.
Anyways traditionally this sweet is prepared by rolling the rice flour into small balls, first cooking them in boiling water, and then with milk and sugar. But I always use a shortcut method of directly pressing the prepared dough using a murruku press into the hot boiling water and then stir to break them.  Its a great way to involve the kids if you opt to make the kolukattai's the authentic way.

1 cup Rice flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
3 pods cardomom
4 cups of water
1 cup shredded coconut.

Crush the cardamoms to a fine powder.
Boil half cup of water with a pinch of salt
Add this boiling water to the rice flour and stir well with a wooden spoon, like you do for regular kollukattai or Idiyappam. Allow it to cool slightly.
At this stage you can proceed in two ways.
Boil 4 cups of water
Pinch the flour and roll into very tiny balls using your palm and put them in a plate or paper.Once all the dough is rolled, add them to the boiling water little by little. 
Boil 4 cups of water in a thick bottomed vessel.
Place some prepared flour into the murruku press (with one hole) .
When the water is boiling , press the dough directly in it. Wait for a minute and then stir with a laddle gently to break into pieces. Wait for 2 minutes before doing the next batch.

Once the dough is all done, allow it to cook well in the water for about 5 mins.
Parallely warm a cup of milk in the saucepan.
Add the sugar, stir well and cook for another 5 mins. 
Now add the warm  milk and cardamom pods and give it a good stir.
 Boil for another 10 mins. Stir at intervals to avoid burning.
Finally add shredded coconut (fresh or desiccated) , mix well , cook for a minute and switch of the stove.
The payasam will become thick as it cools down.

The water should be really really hot, boiling with bubbles  otherwise the koz(l)hukattai will not retain its shape and not cook properly. 

Palkolukattai with Jaggery
There are lots of variations to this recipe.
1. You can add Jaggery instead of Sugar like here
2. Substitute milk with Coconut milk  or equal proportions of both.
3. Sometimes my Mom adds shredded lauki /surrakkai to the boiling water before adding the koz(l)ukkatai which also gives a delicate taste to this dish.

This recipe serves 5-6 people. This dish can easily be made ahead of time and refrigerated.Warm just before serving.

Sending this to the Food Pallette series - White held at Torview
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