Full Tummy

Come join me in seeing and tasting food the way I do, take a sniff with me and enjoy the flavors like I do.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dill Potatoes

Dill is a really popular herb where I was brought up - in Russia. In fact it is the most popular green thing out there :-) I make a few russian things with it... the Borscht soup (ooh, lets put it on the menu for next week), sauted/steamed cabbages, russian dumplings Pelmeny. But had never seen it being used in Indian cuisine, though it is always sold in the Indian grocery stores out here in California. I figure some Indian cuisines do use it, maybe I never got exposed to it.

Here is my dill take on aloo-methi :)

Dill Potatoes

Another entry for Saffron Trail's WBB# 6: A Twist in the Plate

4 medium size white potatoes
1 big bunch of dill
1 tspn cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tspn rai seeds (looks like a smaller and red mustard seed)
pinch of hing
salt to taste
1/4 tspn turmeric powder (I go low on turmeric in my cooking)
red chilli powder to taste
1 tspn dhaniya-jeera powder (Coriander / cumin - coarsely ground in 1:1 ratio)
1 tablespoon canola oil

1. Boil the potatoes till tender but not mushy. Cool, peel, and cut into cubes.
2. Wash the dill bunch as is, hold the bundle from the thick stalks and keep chopping finely until you start reaching the thick stalks.
3. In a pan add the canola oil, heat it. Add hing, jeera and rai and let them dance around.
4. Then add the salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, dhaniya-jeera powder directly in the oil and stir for a minute
5. Add the potatoes, cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stir frying to get the browned up a little
6. Add the finely chopped dill leaves. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
7. Then sprinkle around 1/4 cup or less than that water and cover and cook for a little bit.

Potatoes with dill

Monday, October 30, 2006

Menu for the week of Oct 30 - Nov 4

Me and my husband - we like to eat in on weekdays, and out on weekends. This way we get our share of nutritious healthy food, as well as get to have fun. Our weekday lunches are at work - I hit the salad bar, he hits the deli sandwiches. When both of you are working and still want to eat healthy yummy dinner at home, it needs planning. If you plan it out, you can get it right.
I have always been taking notes on my laptop in a Text file about whats the menu for this week, I usually do that either before or after grocery shopping, and mostly on Sundays. Now that I am in the world of blogging, I decided to make my menu planning public and share with all of you as well.

Monday Oct 30: (I have 1 hour 30 minutes to cook)
- Chicken 65 from Past Present and Me's blog
(already marinated the chicken yesterday, on Sunday)
- Mushroom and Peas sabzi
- Toor dal with green chillies and garlic
- Rice
- Also bake Banana Nut Bread for breakfast for the week
- Husband to cut apples and make Apple juice

Tuesday Oct 31: (I have 45 minutes to cook)
- Roasted indian style Tilapia from Towards a better tomorrow's blog
- Green bell peppers with Besan
- Potatoes with dill

Wednesday Nov 1: (No time to cook)
- Leftovers from Monday and Tuesday
- Husband to make fresh dal: sada varan
- Husband to make rice

Thursday Nov 2: (30 minutes to cook)
- Asparagus Soup
- Panini sandwiches with ham, cheese and basil
- Cut carrots and make carrot juice

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Coconut pudding with split yellow peas

I am not a big fan of coconut, in fact I really dont like it much. But, I have a sweet tooth, in fact 28 of them ;-) So coconut with sugar is totally acceptable to me !! But I like my sweets a little less sweet than the regular American or Indian fare.

Coconut Pudding with Split Yellow Peas

My entry to My Dhaba's Virtual Cooking Competition: VCC Q3 2006.

1/2 cup corn starch
1.5 cups cold water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons split yellow peas (matar dal)
2/3 can of coconut milk
3 tablespoons milk

Corn Starch, Coconut milk, Split Yellow peas

1. Boil the split yellow peas tell tender-ish. Should not get mushy. When you pick out and eat one, it should still have a bite feel to it.
2. Mix corn starch with the cold water using a whisk in a stainless steel pan. When lump free, put it on medium heat. Keep stirring constantly.
3. Add sugar, coconut milk and regular milk.
4. After around 10-15 minutes of being on heat, it will start thickening up into a more transparent and glossy thing. Add the peas at this point, and keep stirring with a spoon now, as a whisk will not hold in this consistency any longer.
5. When it is at a spoonable consistency, spoon it out into a 1 inch thick layer into any container. I use the mini-muffin baking pan.
6. Referigerate for 2-3 hours.
7. Run a knife along the edge of each mould and the cocunut jewels will come out easily!

Coconut pudding jewels resting in their moulds


Coconut pudding with split yellow peas


Cottage Cheese Pancakes

When I came across Saffron Trail's Weekend Breakfast Blogging #6 - WBB#6 - a Twist in the Plate, I thought a L O T !!! I had no clue what to make for it. I do a lot of changing of recipes, usually to make them healthier and more nutritious, but this needed something regular turned into something really not regular!

Ahh... and then I knew it... we have these "pancakes" at least twice a month at home for breakfast. Cottage Cheese pancakes. What better to submit for A Twist in the Plate than this dish.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

This is my submission for Saffron Trail's WBB# 6: A Twist in the Plate

1 big tub (approx. 500g) low-fat cottage cheese (I use the fruited ones - peach / pineapples)
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1/4 tspn of baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs (I use 1 full egg, and 1 egg white)
4 tablespoons white flour
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (can replace this with regular flour too)

Yield: 8 small pancakes

Lowfat Pineapple Cottage Cheese

1. Mix all the ingredients other than the flours in one big bowl.
2. Keep adding the flour a couple of tablespoons at a time, and keep mixing. The consistency you want to reach is that of a lump that is coming together, and not liquid-y.
3. Heat a griddle on Medium High, and drizzle with canola oil.
4. Scoop out small pancake size thin dough and cook on that side for 2-3 minutes. Turn, cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes. These do turn more black than brown, but they dont taste burnt.
5. Serve with home made fruit preserves.

Sizzling on the griddle


Ready to serve

Friday, October 27, 2006

Ghutti Coffee

When my sister (didi) and I were teenagers, back in Moscow, we used to have these "bhaiyas" visit often - a couple of times a month. These "bhaiyas" were college students in Moscow that Mom-Pop seemed to know somehow through their connections back in India. When they would come over, we would always have this Ghutti coffee (beaten up coffee). Really frothy and tastes so different from the regular coffee.

Ghutti Coffee

1 tspn Nescafe instant coffee granules
2 tspn sugar (adjust for your taste)
1 tablespoon warm water
1 cup milk (I use 1% low fat lactaid, if you are using higher fat milk then you might need to mix it with some water for better coffee consistency)

Instant Coffee and Sugar

1. Add coffee and sugar to a cup. Add the warm water and start stirring with a spoon vigorously. Keep stirring for a couple of minutes, the color of the mix will change to a light brown from a dark dark brown.

Coffee, stirred up - has changed its color to light brown

2. Heat milk in the microwave in a separate cup, and pour it from top into the stirred up coffee cup. Mix slowly so that froth retains itself.

Frothed ghutti coffee

Sweet Lassi

me: "I have this urge"
him: "oh no, not again!"

me: "no, i really have this urge"
him: "to have sushi?"

me: "that too, but i really really want to have some sweet lassi"
him: "Yikes. I'll have some iced-tea."

Husband doesnt like Yogurt, unless it is in the form of Raita. I love yogurt so much that I go through the pains of making it at home (see previous post) just for myself! And I had made up a fresh batch of 1% low-fat yogurt just two days ago, and my senses were fresh with its aromas!!
So here I was, taking out of the referigerator, a new batch of yummy looking firm yogurt. I scoop through it, and it is heavenly.

Sweet Lassi

1 cup cold yogurt (I use home-made yogurt, made from 1% low-fat milk)
1/4 cup cold water
4 teaspoons sugar
pinch of cardamom powder (optional)

Blend it all together in a blender at low speed. Lassi is ready. Enjoy right away for the freshest taste!

Sweet lassi

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Home-made Yogurt

Since I left home back when I was 19, to pursue higher studies and venture out for a career, I have missed the smell, taste and texture of mom's home made yogurt. The flavors just arent the same, the way it feels in the mouth just isnt the same. I used to love any dry sabzi with rice and yogurt, but I seemed to have not tried that for a long long time.

Then I finally decided to give it a try. I thought how difficult can it be if Mom can do it :-) So the next time that I visited her in Toronto, I got back with me a bowlful of this sinfully yummy homemade yogurt from her - this would be my starter.

I made it a few of times, but then gave up, it seemed to be too much of a hassle to keep it in the oven with the light on, sometimes it would thicken up fine, sometimes it wouldnt. Maybe it wasnt warm enough! And then...

I researched online and found out that they have these things called yogurt incubators, which are a very dumb unit. Plug it into the electricity outlet, it just warms up inside to a slightly warm temperature. This helps maintain the temperature you need for the yogurt to set well. As simple as that! I leaped onto it and bought one from amazon a couple of years ago.


Salton yogurt maker

So I was back again experimenting with my yogurt making! I tried first with whole milk, as I wanted to get the technique right. Once... amazing results! Second... amazing results! Third... amazing results! I had reached "consistency"!

Those of you who know me well, will also know very well how much of a health-izer I am. I try to lighten recipes up all the time, and try to healthy and nutritious most of the times. So, of course I couldnt stick to whole milk. In fact, whole milk was on the grocery shopping list just because of the yogurt!

And then I got to 1% low fat milk. Thats what I always have at home for the husband. I am lactose intolerant so for me it is 1% Lactaid milk. But the funny thing is that yogurt doesnt seem to bother me, even though milk does.

Anywayz, I have been making yogurt at home from 1% regular milk for a long time now. And it has been going great. Here is how I do it...

1% Low-fat milk being used for yogurt

I use one of the regular store bought yogurt containers since they fit perfectly well in the Salton yogurt maker. In fact I tossed away the container that came with the maker. Make sure your container is really really clean, and make sure no remains of the foil cap is remaining on the edges, as the microwave will not take it well.

1. Plug in your Salton yogurt maker.
2. Pour around 3 to 4 cups of 1% low-fat milk in a yogurt container, and microwave for about 4 to 5 minutes. That is how long my microwave takes, but it is a low power one. The aim is to get it to a scalding but not boiling level.

Microwaving the milk in a clean store-bought-yogurt container

3. Take it out from the microwave, and stir occasionally.
4. Keep checking every 5 minutes what the temperature of the milk is like. No science here, or at least I don't use any. If you can comfortably hold your pinky in the milk for 4-5 seconds, then it is ready.
5. In a separate bowl, take 2-3 tablespoons of the yogurt from the previous batch (or borrow from a friend, or use store bought active culture yogurt as a starter), and smoothen it out stirring with a spoon. Add 1/2 cup of the milk from the other container to this and mix it up gently. Now add this yogurt mix into the rest of the heated up milk, and stir gently and thoroughly.
6. Now cover the lid of the yogurt container, and transfer it to the Salton yogurt maker which is already pre-heated. Cover the lid of the yogurt maker, and let it hang out overnight. I leave it for around 8 hours usually. The important thing is to not let the yogurt maker be disturbed, so it should be left in a less intrusive area of the room. My husband is over-pokey, so nights work best for my yogurt to set.
7. When done take the transfer carefully into the fridge, and leave it in the fridge until ready to use. This helps it get a little more firmer.

Note: The consistency of the home made yogurt, especially if made with 1% milk, might not be the same as what you have been used to if you are having store bought yogurt. Store bought yogurt is usually set with additives like gelatin (animal based thickener) or pectin (fruit based thickener), milk powder, etc.

Now we enjoy home-made low-fat yogurt whenever we want to. Will I try fat-free milk... nah! Low-fat is good enough :-) But yeah, next on my list is yogurt made from Lactaid..

Monday, October 23, 2006

A taste of Mediterranean

After all the Indian food devoured over the weekend as a part of the Diwali festivities, we decided to take a break from Indian for today. So here I was, thinking about something nice and light, but still yummy. Nothing spicy, please!

I recalled the Noe Valley deli in San Francisco that husband (then-boyfriend) and I used to go to every weekend so so religiously and would order a big eggplant wrap, and a plate of majudarah with yogurt sauce. It was out of this world for a lazy weekend brunch.

So I stopped by on the way back from work at the Aladdin mediterranean deli/store in Foster City to get some greek yogurt sauce and some eggplant moussaka. But I left the Majudarah to be made at home.


Majudarah

3 medium sized onions, vertically sliced into semi-circles
1 cup lentils, soaked overnight
3/4 cup basmati rice, soaked for 15 minutes
4.5 cups hot water
1/2 a cube of Knorr's beef bouillon (optional, or you can use chicken / vegetarian bouillon cube / stock. Be aware that stock / bouillon has some salt in its own, so watch for how much additional salt you add)
3 tspn salt
0.5 tspn black pepper
0.5 tspn red chilli powder
1 tspn dhaniya - jeera powder (corainder seeds and cumin seeds ground in 1:1 ratio in a coffee grinder)
0.5 tspn powdered roasted cumin seeds (bhuna jeera)
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. In a pan, heat the olive oil, and add onions. Saute for 15-20 minutes until browned up.
2. In the meantime, in another big pot, add the water, lentils, rice, and all the spicesm and the bouillon cube. Let boil on high uncovered.
3. When the lentil - rice combo is tender and the onions are done, stir the onions into the rice-lentil mix.
4. Ready to eat!

Rice, Lentils, Onion


Majudarah

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Post-diwali comfort food

Saturday was the big diwali menu. Today was diwali lunch at a friend's place. Usual stuff - ate too much, too much sugar in the system as well! So dinner was simple, light, nutritious, comfort food - my favorite Khichadi.

Split green mung dal Khichadi

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons split green mung dal (with husk still on)
1/2 cup minus 2 tablespoons basmati rice
4.5 cups water, heated
2 tspn salt
1 tspn dhaniya (coriander) - jeera (cumin) coarsely ground powder
0.5 tspn red chilli powder

1. Soak the dal and rice in water for 15 minutes.
2. Rinse and drain a few times
3. Put the dal, rice and all other ingredients, including water in a pressure cooker.
4. Pressure cook on medium high to high for 15 minutes. Turn off the flame, and let stay until steam cools off.
6. Serve in bowls topped with a little ghee.


Mung dal and rice, soaking

Delicious Khichadi, ready to eat

Diwali Menu

So last weekend was Diwali, our first diwali since we got married back in May. We had a few diwalis together before, but this was the first since we had gained the status "married". So there I was, trying to recall our diwali menu back in the days when it was Mom's cooking feast. I came up with the following menu for our first special Diwali. It would be Pooris of course - any festive occasion was always marked by pooris, and being a health freak, pretty much now we make it at home only a couple of times a year! And for dessert, my new husband had already made up his mind - he wanted Sevain Kheer (vermicelli kheer/pudding). Now for the main dishes, I flipped through the pages of my memory and nailed down one dish that we couldnt have had Diwali without - "Poori wale Aloo" :-) And added dry Kala Chana to the menu that will go very well with the pooris.

Poori

3 cups durum wheat flour
1 tspn salt
1/2 tspn ajwain
warm water
2 tspn canola oil

For the dough:
1. In a big mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt and ajwain.
2. Add to this 1 tspn of canola oil, and rub it into the dry flour mix with your clean hands.
3. Keep adding warm water in small quantites, and keep kneading the dough with your fingers and knuckles and fists until medium hard consistency and smoothness is reached.
4. At the end, put 1tspn of oil on your fingers, and do a final kneading.
5. Keep the dough covered until ready to make pooris, best after half an hour of keeping aside.

For turning dough into pooris:
1. Heat some canola oil on High heat in a small wok or in a pan that you can deep fry in.
2. Take small key lime sized balls of the dough, smoothen it out into a circle with your fingers and palm, and dip half of it in the heated oil, roll with a rolling pin into a circle.
3. Put it in the hot oil in the wok and deep fry, turning once in between to get both sides brown.
4. Take out with a slotted spoon to get as much oil out as possible, keep pooris on layers of kitchen tissue to absorb more of the oil out of it.

Note: Pooris reheat very well in a toaster, and taste nice and crisp and freshly made. So I usually make the whole batch of pooris in one go, and store the extra foiled up in the fridge, and reheat in the toaster for the next meal.

Freshly made pooris

Masaledar Kala Chana

For "Kanchaken" which is also "Navratri", our punjabi neighbors would call me and my sister (didi) to their place for lunch or after-school meal. On this day, the punjabi aunties get all the little girls (mind you, no boys) and feed them food. A typical meal for this day is pooris with Suji (semolina) halwa and these masaledar kale chane. A combination of sweet and spicy with the yummy pooris... Yummy!!!

This is one of my savory entries for JFI for Diwali.

1.5 cups dry kala chana
3 cups hot water
2 tspn salt
1 tspn jeera (cumin)
2 tspn chole masala (I use Everest brand)
2 tspn freshly ground coarse dhaniya (coriander seeds)- jeera (cumin) powder (I grind in 1:1 ratio in a coffee grinder and store for 3-4 months)
1.5 tspn red chill powder
1.5 tablespoon canola oil

1. Soak the kala chana in water overnight or at least for 6-8 hours. You can rush this process up by soaking in warm/hot water. They should puff up a little and come alive.
2. In a pressure cooker, boil the kala chana, water and salt for 20-30 minutes at medium high flame.
3. In a pan (I prefer a small diameter but deeper pan, versus a large diameter and shorter pan), add oil. When hot, add jeera, then add the chole masala, dhaniya-jeera powder, red chilli powder.
4. Stir for half a minute, then add the boiled chana with all its water directly into the pan.
5. Let this cook on medium high uncovered.
6. When most of the water is evaporated / absorbed, cover and cook.
7. Turn the stove off when there is around 2 - 3 tablespoons water still left, as this will get abosrbed by the chanas in the next 10 minutes anyways.
8. The end result will be dry chanas with masalas around them.
9. You can garnish with finely chopped cilantro leaves.

Dry Kala Chana

Poori wale Aloo

Yeah thats a wierd name for a dish, but thats what we have called them all along while growing up. They were a must at our house when pooris were being made! No festival is a festival without Pooris and poori wale aloo!

This is one of my savory entries for JFI for Diwali.

4 white potatoes boiled
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tspn jeera (cumin)
1 tspn rai (small reddish brown mustard seeds)
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
4 green chillies, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
0.5 tspn red chilli powder
1/4 tspn turmeric powder
2 tspn salt
1.5 cups of water, heated

1. Peel the boiled potatoes and crush with your hands in small to medium sized pieces. Do NOT chop, just crush messily with your hands.
2. In a pan (use a small diameter and deeper pan versus a large diameter and shallower pan), add oil, let it heat.
3. Add jeera and rai, let it crackle.
4. Add ginger and green chillies.
5. When brownish, add tomatoes and fry till they most of the water is gone.
6. Add salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder and stir.
7. Add in the potatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes with the tomato mix.
8. Add the hot water and let it all boil for 10-15 minutes on medium flame.
9. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.

Poori wale aloo

Sevain Kheer

Sevain is vermicelli that you get in the Indian stores. When we were little, we used to call this "line wali kheer". Still enjoy it as much as I used to back then!!

This is my "sweet" entry for JFI for Diwali.

1/2 cup vermicelli
1 tspn ghee
1/2 gallon 2% reduced fat milk
1/4 cup raisins (golden / black , any will do)
1/4 cup almonds, sliced finely
1 cup sugar
1/2 tspn cardamom powder

1. In a heavy bottom stainless steel pot, add all of the milk and let it boil on medium high for 15-20 minutes.
2. In another pan, heat ghee. Add to it the vermicelli and stir till it is reddish brown, about 1o minutes on medium high flame.
3. Add this vermicelli to the milk. Add sugar, the cardamom powder and the almonts and raisins.
4. Keep cooking on medium and medium-high heat for around an hour. Dont stir too often, stir when you see cream settling down at the top, this makes the kheer thicker.
5. Final result will be around 1/2 or 1/3 the amount of milk you used initially. The kheer will also have turned to the color of a latte.

Note: I usually do not have cardamom powder at home, so I subsititute this with the chai masala, and it tastes wonderful, no worries :)

Sevain Kheer

Friday, October 20, 2006

Inspired

It seems that for the past many years I have been trying hard to find a way to organize all the recipes that I have tried and liked. Not just organizing, but sharing these with my mom, my sister and my friends. I had gone through cycles of installing and eventually getting frustrated with various recipe software as well!

Off late I was getting a lot of cooking ideas from recipes from various blogs. I figured, it was high time to try this world of food blogging as a way to not just organize my recipes but to share them with the world as well!!

So voila, here I am, inspired by various aromas and flavors I experience.