Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Musti Polo

Musti in Konkani means fist. Musti Polo is a thick dosa which uses very little urad dal just a fistful and hence the name. It is also known as Urada Surnalli.
These dosas are very soft and fluffy and are one of my favorites.


Urad Dal - 1/2 cup
Uncooked rice - 1 1/2 cups
Fenugreek Seeds/Methi - 1/2 tsp
Poha/Flattened Rice - 3 tbsp
Dessicated Coconut - 2 tbsp

Wash the Urad dal and rice and soak them with methi in sufficient water for atleast 3 hrs.
Soak the poha in little water just before grinding.
Grind all ingredients together along with coconut in a mixer/grinder to a fine paste adding water as needed. The consistency of the batter should be like any other dosa (not too thick not too thin)
Ferment overnight.

Next morning add salt to the batter and mix well.
Heat a tava or a non stick pan. Drizzle some (1/2 tsp) oil if needed. Pour a ladle full of batter in the center. Spread slightly.
This dosa has to be thick.
Cover and fry till it gets golden from the bottom.
Add some oil on top and flip it.
Cook till this side also gets golden spots.
Remove from tava and serve hot with chutney/ sambhar.

Note: Salt can be added to the batter before fermenting itself but I prefer adding it in the morning.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate/Anaar/Dalimb is a fruit that kids aren't fond of. When we were kids I remember being told that a Dalimb can give u an elephant's strength. But that didn't make me to eat it. I would just eat a few seeds. That hasn't changed in all these years. I am still not very fond of fruits. But considering their benefits I try to incorporate them in our diet in whichever way possible.
This juice is the result of one such effort to consume Dalimb.

For this we need:

Dalimb/Pomegranate - 1
Sugar - 2 tsp
Chat Masala - 1/4 tsp or even less

Remove the skin and the white membranes.
Add the seeds in a blender. Pour a little water(around 1/2 cup). Add the sugar. Blend it for 30 sec. Add more water or sugar if required. Blend again for few more sec.
Seive it to extract the juice. Discard the seeds.
Add the chat masala to the juice and enjoy the freshly extracted juice.

* Whole fruits are always better than their juices.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sevaiye Payasu/ Vermicelli Kheer

In India friends and relatives often invite a newly married couple for lunch or dinner. The main idea is to familiarize the bride or groom with their new relations. Just after our marriage we were also invited for a get-together at S aunty's place. S aunty is a close friend of mummy(my mil). After the yummy food, she served this kheer as a dessert. We all enjoyed this kheer very much. S aunty readily gave us her recipe for this yummy kheer.
After that mummy made this payasu many a times and now after coming to US I follow suit.
This is a dessert I usually end up making when I am short of time or when I can't think of anything else.

For this we need:

Thin Vermicelli (preferably the plain ones) - 1/2 cup
Milk - 3 cups
Sugar - 1/2 cup approx.
Cardamom powder
Cashew halves - 2 tbsp
Raisins - few
Ghee - 2 tsp

Boil the milk and keep it aside.
In a pan heat ghee and fry the cashews till they are golden. Remove and set aside.
In the same ghee fry the vermicelli on a low flame till it is lightly golden in colour. Add about 3/4 cup of the hot milk. Let the vermicelli cook in the milk for about 3-4 mins. When the vermicelli becomes soft add sugar and cashews. Finally add the raisins and cardamom powder.
Just before serving add the remaining milk, adjust the sweetness and give it a boil.
Serve hot.

PS : For best results use whole milk. The recipe requires the plain variety of vermicelli but I have used the roasted ones as it is the only variety available here. The vermicelli makes the kheer thick and so the remaining milk is added at the end. If serving immediately add the entire quantity of milk in the begining itself. Saffron can also be added to enhance the colour.

I am sending this to FIC White Event of TongueTicklers being hosted by Yummy Food.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Palak Paneer (Spinach-Cottage Cheese Combo)

Spinach or Palak is one of the first vegetables i learnt to cook. It is rich source of Iron and Calcium. The cartoon character Popeye is also depicted as eating spinach to grow stronger. Spinach is such a wonder vegetable. But in Mumbai it is mostly grown besides the railway tracks and that is one of the main reasons that people avoid eating it.
When i came to US i felt that we would get some fresh clean spinach here but my assumption proved wrong. When all the other vegetables look fresh and clean i am still not satisfied with the quality of Spinach.
I have also tried the frozen stuff but then they dont taste the same as fresh ones. I have also seen fresh clean baby spinach sold in plastic boxes but these are way too expensive.
So I mostly buy the fresh ones, clean them thoroughly and hope that rest of the germs are killed in the process of cooking.
This dish is originally from Punjab where it is called Saag Paneer. Saag is also refered to Mustard Greens in the dish Sarson ka Saag.
I always like to add some peas whether its Palak Paneer or Aloo Palak. At times I add all three and make Aloo-Palak-Mutter-Paneer or should I say Palak-Aloo-Mutter-Paneer, whichever sounds correct.


Palak/Spinach - 1 bunch
Paneer - 150g, cut in cubes
Frozen Peas - 1/2 cup (optional)
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Garlic - 2 to 3, grated
Ginger - 1 inch, grated
Green Chilli - 2
Tomato - 1 small, chopped
Ginger-garlic paste - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Kasuri Methi - 1 tbsp, crushed
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Garam Masala powder - a pinch
Turmeric - pinch
oil - 4 tsp
Salt - as per taste

Remove the stem of spinach and discard. Clean the leaves thoroughly. Heat some water in a large vessel. When it comes to a boil add the spinach leaves. Turn it once or twice. Let it boil for 3-4 mins. Strain it through a sieve and add some cold water. Drain all the water. Grind the leaves with 2 green chillies into a smooth paste adding little water. Keep aside.

In another pan, heat 2 tsp of oil and add the onions. Fry till it becomes slightly golden. Then add the grated ginger and garlic and also the ginger-garlic paste. Fry till the raw smell goes.
Now add the tomatoes and cook till they turn soft. In the mean while add all the spice powders. Add half a cup of water and mix well. Now add the Spinach puree and the frozen peas (if using) and adjust salt. Add more water if required. Let it boil for 5-10 mins on a low flame.

In a small kadai, heat the reamining 2 tsp of oil and fry the paneer pieces till their edges turn golden. Add it to the gravy and cook for 5 more mins.
Serve hot with rotis or parathas.

Note: The entire cooking procedure has to be carried out in an open pan. On covering the pan, the Spinach loses its colour. Also cooking for very long or on a very high flame makes it lose some of its colour. For a thicker consistency fresh cream can be added to the gravy before the final boil.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Viangana Saglen (Egg plant in Coconut Gravy)

Egg plant/Brinjal /Aubergine is called Viangan in Konkani. It comes in 3-4 different shapes and colours. Another variety of brinjal is round, light green in colour and is called Gulla.

Gulla is rarely found in Mumbai though it is very common in my hometown and used to make Gulla bajji.
Both Vaingan and Gulla are also commonly used while making Sambar.
Saglen means whole. In this curry small whole brinjals are used and hence the name.
Compared to others here we get many different vegetables in the Indian grocery stores. But only a few make their way to our home. S loves this dish and so do I. Hence it is one of the most common veggies in our purchase. Sometimes I buy the green Thai eggplants instead of the purple brinjals. They also go very well with this curry. Except for the colour I haven't noticed any change in the taste.


Small variety of brinjals/ Thai egg plant - 8 to10 nos.

For the Coconut Paste
Dessicated Coconut - 2/3 cup
Fenugreek Seeds(Methi) - 1/4 tsp
Coriander Seeds - 1 tbsp
Dry Red Chillies(Bedgi) - 3
Tamarind - very small piece

Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig
Oil - 3 tsp

Remove the stem of the egg plants and make vertical slits in such a way that the bottom is intact.

Heat 1/2 a tsp of oil and fry the methi and coriander seeds. Also fry the red chillies. Grind the methi, coriander, red chillies, coconut, tamarind with little water to a fine paste.
Little salt and a little jaggery(1-2 tsp) can also be added to this paste.
Now add the finely chopped onions to the coconut paste.
Stuff this mixture into the egg plants. Reserve the remaining paste.

Heat the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds. When they sputter add some curry leaves. Now place the egg plants and add the remaining coconut paste. Add about 1/2 a cup of water.

Cover and cook. Keep turning the egg plants so that they are cooked from all sides. Check salt and sugar. Add more if required. Cook till done. Serve with hot rice and dal.

Note : This curry has a sweetish taste. The sugar/jaggery can be reduced if desired.

Pav for Pav Bhaji

I wanted to bake a bread since a long time. So finally bought a packet of dry yeast. I was very scared to venture into bread baking so I kept on postponing the idea. One final day I made up my mind to bake it and zeroed on Chef Sanjay Thumma's pav recipe.
I followed his instructions carefully but was still very skeptical about it as I had planned to make Pav bhaji and our dinner was dependent on the success of my pav. But it turned to be better than expected.

As I used dry yeast instead of Rapidrise I waited for 10 min for the yeast to become active.

Then I followed his recipe as it is. I added a little less water than mentioned as my dough was already too sticky.

After resting for an hr.

I gave it a milk wash instead of egg and baked for about 40 min. I could make 13 pavs and 1 loaf from the dough.
Added some dry parsley, chilli flakes and pepper powder to the loaf and some sesame seeds to the pav just before baking.

Before baking.

Baked for 40 mins at 350 deg F.

After baking

The resulting pav was just like store brought ones and very soft on the inside.
My only problem was the crust which became a little hard. May be I should have added the entire quantity of water or given an egg wash instead.
All in all a great experience in bread making. S was very much suprised to see a home-made bread.
Thanks Vah Chef for the step by step instructions. You made my day.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ekpani Chutney

Ekpani (ek paan)means one leaf. It is known as Brahmi in Ayurveda and its scientific name is Centella Asiatica. It is considered to be a memory booster according to Ayurveda. Read more about Brahmi on Wiki.
I brought a Brahmi plant while coming back from our vacation but it did not survive. Then after reading Shilpa's post i adopted her idea of using Watercress in place of Ekpani.


Ekpaani/ Watercress - 1 cup
Dessicated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Green Chilli - 1
Dry Red Chilli - 1
Ginger - 1 inch
Tamarind - 1 inch
Sugar or Jaggery

Grind all the ingredients in a blender with little water. adjust salt and sugar as per liking. Serve with hot rice and curry.

Also check Shilpa's (of Aayi Recipes) version of this Chutney called Ankre Tambli which is a non sweet version.

Uttappa/ Uttapam

Uttappa/Uttapam is a thick dosa with onions and/or tomatoes. I made some Uttappams with left-over dosa batter.

Dosa batter
Onions - finely chopped
Tomatoes - finely chopped
Coriander leaves - finely chopped
Green Chillies - finely chopped

Mix onions, tomatoes, green chillies and coriander leaves and keep handy.
Heat a tava, add a spoonful of oil and spread it. Pour some dosa batter. Do not spread as ordinary dosa.
Add some onion-tomato mixture on top of the dosa.

Drizzle some oil on the sides. Cover and fry till the bottom gets a golden colour.
Add a few drops of oil on top and flip it. Pat it slightly and fry till this side also becomes golden. Serve with chutney or sambar.
Make similar uttappams with remaining batter.

Note: The onion-tomato mixture can be added to the entire batter itself but onion tends to ooze water if the batter is kept for longer time. Chilli powder can be used instead of green chillies.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Medu Vada and Dahi Vada

The term Vada is used to refer to a snack that is round in shape and usually deep fried. Medu Vada is the first thing that comes to my mind while going to a restaurant as it is a dish very rarely made at home as it absorbs a lot of oil and is considered unhealthy. The same batter (as Medu Vada) is used to make Biscuit ambado(pronounced as Biskut, vada without a hole), a very famous snack item in Konkani weddings. The Biskut ambado is more common in Konkani households than Medu Vada. I love both the versions (afterall what difference does a hole make in its taste).
After coming to US i have purchased the Instant Dahi Vada mix a few times and also made biskut ambados with it. But on watching Vah Chef's video i decided to make it at home. Sanjay Thumma gives some very nice tips while making dishes for which i love to watch his videos.
I have followed his exact recipe without making any changes. But making the hole was the toughest part as my batter had a little more water than required. So i couldn't get a good shape for the vadas. But the taste was awesome and it was very crisp.

From the leftover batter i also made a few dahi vadas the next day.

For the dahi vadas I deep fried the vadas and then soaked them in water for around 5 mins. Soaking in water helps make the vadas soft. In the mean while i took some thick curd and whisked it to make it smooth and added little salt.
Then i squeezed the vadas to remove water and added it to the dahi and topped it with a little red chilli powder and cumin powder.
I served S these vadas and then added a little sugar to my dahi as i like it a little sweet but he prefers the savory version.

Note : The Dahi Vadas can also be served with some Green Chutney and Tamarind Chutney on top.

Chef Sanjay Thumma has a different version of Dahi Vadas. Check his version here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Birthday Cake

Yesterday was my dearest hubby's birthday. I wanted to bake a cake from scratch. I dont have much experience in baking cakes and i have never prepared a frosting. In my previous Black Forest Cake i had used readymade frosting. Initially i was planning to make a pineapple cake but finally made Shilpa's Simple Egg Cake. For the Frosting i followed the Butter Cream Cheese Frosting recipe from Martha's Baking Favorites DVD.

For the Cake:
I followed Shilpa's recipe as it is and baked for nearly 50 min.

For the Butter Cream Cheese Frosting: The original recipe
Unsalted Butter - 1 stick (1/2 cup)
Cream Cheese - 8 oz
Confectioners Sugar - 1 lb
Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp
Crushed Pecans - 1 cup

Take butter and cream cheese at room temp. (R.T.)
Add Vanilla essence and beat till soft and fluffy.
Add sugar and beat till smooth.
Then add pecans.
Chill in refrigerator.

I used half the quantities mentioned above and did not add pecans. I added 2-3 drops of yellow food colour.
I made the cake the previous day and cooled it in the refrigerator.
I cut the cake into 2 halves. Spread some butter cream mixture on one half of the cake. I added few pieces of pineapple murabba on top of it, placed the 2nd cake and spread the remaining mixture on the top and sides of the cake.

I decorated it with few chocolate coated peanuts and coloured sprinkes and added some Ready whipped cream just before cutting the cake.

The cake tastes great but has a slight smell of egg. I think i should have added 1 more teaspoon of vanilla essence to the cake batter. But the smell wasn't noticeable on refrigerating the cake.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bread and butter pudding

Bread and butter pudding is a traditional dessert popular in British cuisine. It is the baked form of French toast. Read more about this on Wiki.
Few days back I was googling for a bread halwa recipe. My friend N had made this bread halwa and we liked it a lot. I wanted to use up a few slices of bread which were lying in my refrigerator since a week. But while searching for the halwa recipe the first site I landed upon had a Bread pudding recipe. I found it quite simple and I dropped the idea of making halwa and instead made this pudding. It is simple, easy to make and tastes great. Here's the original recipe.
I have changed the proportions slightly to make a smaller pudding.

Milk - 1 cup
Butter - 2 tbsp
Sugar - 1/3 rd cup (brown or white) (I used white) [Increase or decrease as per taste]
Eggs - 1 large
Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp
Ground Nutmeg - pinch
Vanilla Extract - 1/2 tsp
Bread - 2 cups, torn into small pieces
Raisins - few (optional)

In a pan, heat milk just until a film forms on top. Add the butter and stir until butter melts and then cool to lukewarm.
Combine sugar, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 1 min. (I did this step with the help of my blender at the lowest speed possible). Slowly add the milk mixture.
Place bread in a lightly greased pan.
Sprinkle raisins. Pour the batter on top.
Bake at 350 deg F for 30-40 min or until set. Serve warm.

Note :
Depending on the type of pan used adjust the time of baking. Don't forget to grease the pan. I have tried this in a square pan as well as a loaf pan and prefer using a square pan as it bakes within 30 mins in it. This dessert tastes best when warm so while serving take the required amount and heat it in a microwave for 30 sec. Store the rest in the refrigerator. This recipe is good for using day old bread. I have also tried this using pieces of jam filled Danish pastry.

I am sending this along with Banana Walnut Loaf to Mansi's Vegetarian Thanksgiving event.

Update : I am sending this to Bread Mania event at Sindhura's blog.