Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Exploring foods

Lagos has a rainy weather for about 4 months. More or less like the Mumbai rains (apart from the thunder, of course). This season is usually marked with copious consumption of steaming hot pakodas & bhajias(fried savoury snacks) accompanied with a hot and sweet cup of chai (Indian tea).

Recently, I asked my maid what special food do they have in the rainy seasons here. It surprisingly matched with what we eat in the monsoons- "Bhutta" (corn cob, usually roasted). It was accompanied by a unique food 'pee-ar-se', which sounds like pierce (I don’t know if its right but this is how my maid pronounced it).

Its color is fascinating and the skin is shiny and beautiful. It is simply cooked by keeping it for some time in boiled water (not on flame). It is eaten with the skin on and had a buttery feel to it (yes, I tasted it). Its amount is small with the stone inside making about 90% of the fruit.

Its apparently a common Nigerian food in the rainy weather. Unfortunately, I've not had the chance to explore the local farmer's market, but its on my to-do list. . :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kaddu ki sukhi sabzi (dry Pumpkin vegetable)

Life is full of learning opportunities. This is especially true where the culinary skills are concerned. Most of us have learned a lot from our mothers, but our mother in-laws have also been good teachers.
They introduce us to a very varied style of cooking. Foods which you barely ate are made in a such a way that they become a staple in your diet. One of the dishes which I have learnt from my mother in-law is a simple but fulfilling kaddu (pumpkin)vegetable.

1. Oil- 1Tbsp
2. Pumpkin diced- small
3. Methi dana (fenugreek seeds)- 1/4 tsp
4. Heeng (asafoetida)- a pinch
5. Haldi (turmeric powder)- 1/4 tsp
6. Salt to taste
7. Tomatoes- 1 medium sized
8. Onions- chopped, 3/4 cup
9. Green chillies- 1, chopped
10. Ginger - grated, 1 tsp
11. Sugar- 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp depending upon the hotness of chilli used
12. Red chilly powder- 1/4 tsp

1. Heat oil.
2. Add methi dana, heeng and haldi in that order.
3. After 1 min or when methi dana starts to brown add onions, diced pumpkin, tomatoes, green chillies and ginger.
4. Cover and cook on a medium flame.
5. Add a little red chilly powder when it starts cooking.
6. When its almost done. Add half- one tsp of sugar and stir it.
7. It is done when pumpkin is fork tender and not totally mushed up.
8. Serve hot with chapati (Indian flatbread).


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No fat stuffed capsicum (Bharwan Shimla mirch)

I learnt this recipe from my mom long back. The only difference being that she used to fry it in the end while i decided to steam it. Its easy to make, tasty and can be made in a relatively short time.

1. Capsicum -2
2. Potatoes- 3 medium sized
3. Onions- chopped finely, 1/2 cup
4. Green chilies- 1, finely chopped
5. Salt to taste
6. Pepper-1/4 tsp
7. Red chilly powder-1/4 tsp
8. Amchoor (mango powder)- 1/4 tsp (optional)

1. Boil the potatoes.
2. Peel the potatoes and mash them. Mix all the spices, onion and green chilly.
3. Hollow out the capsicum by removing its stem portion and all the seeds inside.
4. Fill the potato mix inside the capsicum. Push till its full to it's capacity.
5. Place a grid in the pressure cooker, fill upto 2 cm water.
6. Place the stuffed capsicum on the grid and close the cooker. Keep on high flame.
7. Remove from flame after one whistle. Let it cool.
8. Open the pressure cooker and serve hot.

Variation tips
1. Pour tomato ketchup over it for a tangy flavour.
2. For a curried version, prepare the curry separately and pour it on the stuffed capsicum while serving.
3. Filling can be made by using cooked long grained rice instead of boiled potatoes.
4. If you have less potatoes, then use paneer along with it. Small chopped tomatoes can also be included.
5. You can top it up with grated cheese and reheat till the cheese melts, or just sprinkle cottage cheese (crumbled or grated) on it before serving hot.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Banana Pancakes with Saffron cream

With the rainy season on full bloom, I often feel like whipping up something warm and cozy to eat. These pancakes come along as a perfect Sunday brunch recipe for such a weather.

(Makes 6 medium sized pancakes)
Modified from this recipe by Soma of ecurry
1. 1 & 1/4 cup of all purpose flour/maida/ white flour
2. 1.5 tsp baking powder
3. 5 tsp sugar
4. Pinch of salt
5. 1 egg
6. 1.5 cups of milk
7. 30gm melted butter
8. 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
9. 3 large bananas mashed or cut into very small pieces
10. Butter to cook pancakes

Thick bottomed Skillet
A whisk
Deep bowl

1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Alternately you can mix it thoroughly with a fork or even a spoon. The idea is to mix it so that, all ingredients are evenly distributed in the mixture.
2. In a separate deep bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract.
3. Now add the dry ingredients, stirring till smooth. You can also add 1/4 of the flour mixture alternating with stirring till all the flour mix is incorporated in the batter.
4. Add mashed bananas and blend with hand blender or plainly mixing it well.
5. Heat the skillet and put butter on it. Pour the batter with the help of a large spoon/ladle.
6. Keep it on medium flame, cover it for few minutes. Uncover and flip to cook the other side.
7. Serve with a delightful saffron cream.

Saffron cream (modified from ecurry)
This cream served as a perfect accompaniment for the pancakes.

1. Chilled cream( I used Nestlé)- 4 tsp
2. Pinch of saffron
3. 1 spoon warm milk for saffron infusion
4. 1 spoon of milk
5. Sugar to taste

1. In the warm milk, put the pinch of saffron. Keep aside for 30 min.
2. Combine the sugar infused milk with cream.
3. Add sugar and 1 spoon milk. Mix well
4. Keep it in the fridge till all your pancakes are ready. Better if you can keep it overnight (tasted good to me both ways).

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Vegetable pulao/pilaf

This recipe is not only easy to make but is also a treat for the taste buds. It can be served on the sides or as main dish with yogurt and/or pickle. A number of variants are present in every household in India.

Serves 2

1. Rice (Basmati)- 1 cup
2. Carrots- 1/2 cup chopped
3. Beans - chopped about 1 tbsp
4. Peas- 1/2 cup
5. Potatoes- 1 medium, chopped into small cubes
6. Clove-1 crushed
7. Black cardamom- 1 ,crushed
8. Green cardamom- 2-3. crushed
9. Cinnamon- 1/4 tsp
10. Jeera (cumin seeds)- 1/2 tsp
11. Coriander powder- 2 tsp
12. Red chilli powder- 1/2 tsp or to taste
13. Salt- 1/3 tsp or as per taste
14. Ghee- 1 & 1/2 tbsp
15. A dash of lime

( You can use any number of vegetables. I usually use what ever I have left with in the fridge in small amounts. Avoid pungent vegetables like onions, broccoli or cauliflower here, as they have a strong taste of their own. Savor the flavor of fragrant spices.)

Cooking equipments you will need:
• Pressure cooker
• Chopping board
• Knife
• Ladle/ long steel spoon

1. Wash and drain the rice thoroughly. Then steep the rice in water for 10-15 min.
2. Wash and prepare the vegetables on the chopping board.
3. Take the pressure cooker. Heat ghee in it.
4. Add clove, green & black cardamom and cinnamon.
5. When they start to sizzle add cumin seeds. These will probably splatter immediately too.
6. Now add red chilli powder and add vegetables right after it.
7. Add coriander powder and toss the vegetables in the spice mixture.
8. Cook at high flame for 2-3 min.
9. Now add the rice and water(about 2 cups).
10. Close the lid and keep it on high flame till one whistle.
11. Switch off the gas and let the cooker cool down.
12. Serve hot.

The rice should not be mushy, avoid keep on the flame for a longer period as it will lead to overcooking of the rice.

Happy eating!