Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hot and Sour Soup

My goal for this year is to make more low calorie food. I try to find such recipes from where ever I can.  Being a Life member of Weight Watchers, I get e-mail updates of recipes from them. I love mushrooms. When I saw this Shitake Mushroom soup for 1 point value per serving, I had to write it down. I make this soup when ever I buy Shitake. It is very easy to make. My son loves this soup, but my daughter will not touch it. She does not eat mushroom.

2 C sliced shitake mushrooms
9 Oz. firm tofu, diced
1/2 C bamboo shoot, sliced(optional)
4 C broth or water
2 T rice vinegar
2 t Asian hot sauce or chili paste
1 T soy sauce
1 T corn starch, mixed with 2 T water
2 scallions, sliced

1. In a soup pot, stir together the broth, vinegar, hot sauce, soy sauce, mushroom, bamboo, and tofu.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the corn starch mixed in water and simmer 2 more minutes.
3. Serve, sprinkling each bowl with sliced scallions.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Decadent Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Who does not love chocolate? You could call me a reformed chocoholic.(I have not given up on it though). Everyone in my family loves chocolate. You can guess what cake my kids wanted me to bake today for my son's 12th birthday! My sister had given me Christmas Cook book by Betty Crocker  for Christmas last year.  I took the recipe from that book. The cake was delicious. I served it with warm raspberry sauce. My kids loved it. I used the left over sauce with  my oatmeal.

For the cake:
1 C semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 C butter
1/2 C all purpose flour
4 eggs, separated
1/2 C sugar

For the raspberry sauce:
10 0z frozen raspberries, thawed, drained, and
juice reserved
1/4 c sugar
2 T cornstarch

For glaze:
1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips
2 T butter
2 T light corn syrup

For garnish:
1/2 C whipped cream
fresh raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 325 degree F. Grease the bottom and sides of 8/2-1/2 inch spring form pan with shortening. In a 2-quart saucepan, melt 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour until smooth. Stir in the egg yolks until well blended. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl,  beat egg whites with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Beat in 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until soft peaks form. Gently stir chocolate mixture into egg whiles. Spread in pan.
3. Bake for 35- 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove the side of springform pan. Turn the cake upside down onto a wire rack. Remove the bottom of  springform pan and cool completely, about 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, add enough water to reserved raspberry juice to measure 1 cup. In a 1-quart saucepan, mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in juice and thawed raspberries. Heat to boiling over medium heat. Boil and stir 1 minute. strain through strainer to remove seeds. Set aside.

5. Place cake on a serving plate. In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons butter and the corn syrup over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chips are melted. Spread over top of cake, allowing some to drizzle down side. Place whipped cream in a decorating bag fitted with star tip. Pipe a rosette on each serving. serve cake with sauce. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

Gobi Manchurian(Cauliflower fritters in sauce)

Gobi Manchurian is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. You will not see it in any Chinese restaurants. It is a specialty of Indo-Chinese cuisine. I bought a big cauliflower last week, and decided to make Machurian before my mom left for India. Gobi Manchurian can be made dry or with sauce. It tastes good plain or with rice. My kids love to order this dish every time we go to Ino-Chinese restaurant.

Cauliflower fritters:
1 1/4 C all purpose flour
3 T cornflour
2 C cauliflower florets, washed
1/2 t soy sauce
1 t ginger, garlic, and green chili, grated or paste
1/2 t salt
oil to fry

For the sauce:
1 T garlic, chopped
1 T ginger, chopped
1 T green chili, chopped
2 bunches green onion, chopped
1 t ginger, garlic and green chili, grated or paste
1/2 C green pepper, sliced
1 T soy sauce
1 T corn flour
1 1/2 C water
4 T tomato sauce

1. Heat a wok to medium heat. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry the chopped ginger, garlic, chili and green onion. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a couple minutes. Add the green pepper. Cook till it is crunchy.  Add tomato sauce and and salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Mix soy sauce and water to 1 tablespoon of corn flour. Add this to the wok. stir and allow to thicken. Add more water if required. Turn the stove off.
2. Heat oil in a pan. Mix chili, garlic and ginger paste, soy sauce, and salt to corn flour and all purpose flour. Add enough water to make a batter. It should not be too thick or too thin. 
3. Dip the florets in the batter and deep fry them till crisp and golden.
4. Add the fritters to the prepared sauce. Mix well and heat the sauce. Serve with rice.

For dry Manchurian, avoid the water and corn flour. Just mix the fritters to the sauteed green onion and pepper. This can be served as an appetizer.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Panchsheel Dal

Looking in my pantry the other day, I found a lot of whole lentils. I decided to make some kind of dal. I took 5 kinds of whole lentils and cooked them. Hence the name panch(5)sheel. It came out very well and my family loved it, and it was easy to make.

1/4 C whole toor dal
1/4 C whole masoor dal
1/8 C whole mung dal
1/8 C whole red chori dal
1/8 C channa dal
1 tomato,chopped
1/2 inch ginger, chopped
3 green chili, slit
1/2 inch cinammon
2 cloves
1 cardamom
2 t Badshah Rajwadi Gharam Masala
salt to taste
mustard seeds and cumin seeds for seasoning

1. Pressure cook the lentils with tomato, ginger, and the spices with lot of water.
2. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Season  the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Add the gharam masala and fry for 1 minute. Add the cooked dal to it with salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot with roti or rice.

You can add some milk or cream to make  the dish a little creamy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Vegetable Dhanshak

Tamarind is a must have ingredient in South Indian homes. I was at a loss this week, when I found that I was out  of tamarind. I had all these vegetables, that I bought on Sunday, in my refrigerator. I managed somehow. I was talking to my friend yesterday. She told me about this scrumptious one pot dish that can be eaten as soup or with rice. I went online looking for the recipe and made it today. Dhanshak is a Farsi dish from Western India. It is typically made with chicken or mutton. But, it can also be made with lots of vegetables and lentils. Dhanshak is served with brown rice and kachumber(cucumber) salad. It is a great slow cooker dish.

1/2 C toor dal
1/8 C mung dal(green gram lentils)
1/8 C masoor dal(red lentils)
1/8 C channa dal(garbanzo lentils)
1 large oinion, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 small round eggplant, chopped
1/4 C  bottle gourd(lauki), peeled and chopped
1/2 C yellow pumpkin, chopped
2T fresh methi leaves(fenugreek)
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 T fresh mint leaves,chopped
3 T tamarind pulp(optional)
2 T ghee
4 C water
salt to taste

For dhanshak masala
3 pods garlic
1 inch ginger
1 1/2 t cumin seeds
1T corriander seeds
1 inch cinnamon
4 cloves
2-3 red chili
1/2 t saunf

1. Mix all the lentils and chopped vegetables, except the onion, in the slow cooker. Add water. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.

2. When the vegetables and lentils are cooked add salt, and blend them well with emulsion blender.
3. While the shak is cooking, make the masala by grinding everything in a blender, using a little water.
4. Heat ghee in a small pan. Saute the oinion for 4 minutes. Add the ground masala till the raw smell leaves.
5. Stir in the masala into the shak.  Cook on low for 20 minutes.
6. Serve hot with brown rice(caramalized basmati).

The vegetables and dal can be cooked in pressure cooker, instead of slow cooker.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Vegetable Shahi Korma

Over the years of cooking, I've learned various ways to make vegetable korma. Toady, I made Shahi Korma with mixed vegetables. It is a rich creamy dish. Almonds and cashew nuts bring out the rich creamy texture.  My kids usually make a fuss about eating roti. But today, my daughter couldn't have enough of it. I am glad I decided to make this dish today.

3 C mixed vegetables(carrot, potato, cauliflower, beans, and peas),diced
1 T ghee  
1/2 C grated onion
1 t ginger garlic paste
2 green chili, grated
1 pinch saffron, powdered
1/2 C thick curd(yogurt)
1 bay leaf
3 black cardamom
5 green cardamom
1/2 inch cinnamon
1/2 t Kashmiri red chili powder
1 pinch sugar
salt to taste

To make into paste
10 blanched almonds
10 cashew nuts
1 t poppy seeds
milk to grind

1. Cook the vegetables in microwave or steam cook.
2. Heat ghee or butter in a pan over medium heat. Fry the spices for a minute. Add the onion,chili, and ginger garlic paste, and cook for 4 minutes. Add  chili powder.
3. Stir in the beaten curds. Cook for 4 minutes. Add the ground paste. stir continuously till oil separates on top.
4. Gently stir in the cooked vegetables. Add salt and sugar. Add enough water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, till the korma thickens. Serve warm with roti or nan.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sakarai Pongal(Rice Pudding)

Sakarai Pongal is an easy to make dessert. We make this dish for many festivals. My mom makes the best Sakarai Pongal. This  is the main dish made for Pongal festival. When I was a teenager, my mom used to be busy doing pooja, while my sister and I helped the cook prepare the dishes. Since Pongal is celebrated to thank the Sun God, people usually cook pongal outdoors or in back yard. Since we lived in the city, we did not cook outdoors. Instead we used to cook it in the kitchen and take the pongal in a decorated cooper pot upstairs to the roof, where my mom had everything set up for the pooja. We had to wait under the hot sun at noon for my mom to finish her pooja before we could eat our lunch. Of course, we had to bring everything back downstairs.

3/4 C rice
1/4 C mung dal
1 t channa dal
1 1/2 C jaggery(Indian brown sugar)
1 T broken cashew nuts, roasted in ghee
1/4 t cardamom powder
2 C milk
2 C water
3 T ghee

1. Mix water and milk to the rice and dal. Cook in the pressure cooker for 25 minutes or for 7 whistles.
2. Heat a broad pan to medium heat. Melt the jaggery in less than 1/4 cup of water. Add the cooked rice and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes. Add ghee in between.
3. Remove from heat. Mix in the cashew nuts, raisins,and cardamom. Drizzle with ghee before serving.

The pongal I made today was very light due to the color of the jaggery. So, I added a little saffron to the pongal.
Depending on the variety of rice, water/milk could be adjusted to  3 1/2 to 4 cups

Puran Poli(Stuffed Sweet Bread)

The first half of January is a pretty busy in our household, with festivals. We have Pongal, which is our harvest festival. It is celebrated for 4 days. The first day is called Bhogi. On this day, the house is cleaned, and all the junk is brought to the front yard and we have a bonfire. The second day is the main day, Pongal or Makara Sankranti. On this day, we pay our salutations to the Sun for a good year and harvest. On the third day, we pay tribute to the farm animals that help us throughout the year. It is called Maatu Pongal. On the fourth day, we visit our parents and grandparents to pay our respect to them. It is called Kanum Pongal. There is a plenty of food for four days. Each day is a special menu. The highlight of the festival is eating sugarcane.

Today I made Puran Poli along with dal vada.

1 C channa dal(broken garbanzo beans) soaked in water for 30 minutes
1/2 C fresh grated coconut
1 1/2 C jaggery(Indian brown sugar)
For the bread:
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1/4 t turmeric powder
1/2 C sesame oil


1. Mix the dry ingredients for the bread in a large bowl. Add the oil and enough water and knead to make a pliable dough. Cover and set aside.

2. Boil the channa dal in a pot with water, till it is soft. Drain the water completely. Grind the cooked dal in a blender or food processor with jaggery and coconut.

3. Cook the mixture on a low medium heat till all the moisture leaves. Remove from heat and mix 1 teaspoon of powdered cardamom.

4. Make small lemon sized balls out of the dough. Grease a banana leaf or wax paper with sesame oil. Place the dough ball on it and flatten with fingers. Place a teaspoon of the puran(dal mixture) in the middle. Fold the edges over the puran to seal. Press and flatten to make a bread.

5. Heat a griddle and grease with 1/2 teaspoon of ghee. place the bread on  it and cook for 2 minutes. Flip over and cook the other side too. Remove from heat. repeat the process  for the rest of dough. Serve hot with ghee on it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thiruvadurai Kali

In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the full moon day in January is celebrated as Thiruvadurai in honor or Lord Shiva. In my family it is a tradition to make a sweet dish with powdered rice and brown sugar(zaggery). It is usually accompanied with a stew(kootu) made with seasonal vegetables, at least 15.  My mom made the best kali and kootu. I made the kali last week. It came out so good that my kids wanted it for dessert the next day.

1 C rice
1/4 C mung dal
1 T channa dal
1 1/2 C jaggery
1/2 C coconut
3 C water
2 T ghee
1 T cashew nuts, roasted in ghee
1/2 t cardamom powder

1. Soak the rice in water for 15 minutes. Drain and spread on a towel to dry for 20 minutes.
2. Dry roast rice, mung dal and channa dal separately. Powder them separately.
3. Boil the water in a broad pan. Add jaggery. Allow it to dissolve and add coconut. when the water boils well, add the powdered rice and dal. Mix well. Cover and reduce the heat. Cook for 10 minutes. Add ghee and mix. Sprinkle water if necessary.
4. Remove from heat once the kali is cooked. Garnish with cashew and cardamom. serve warm with kootu or have it for dessert.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Eggless Vanilla Cake

Happy New Year everybody. I was busy over the holidays and decided to take a  break. Now that I'm back, I'm hoping to post a lot of recipes. I did a bit of baking over the holidays. My neighbor's mom turned 70 last week. I was not aware of it the previous day. I did not know what to give her. So, I decided to bake a cake for her. Like my mom, she does not eat eggs. I went to my favorite vegetarian website Madhuram's eggless  cooking. I found an easy recipe. I decided to make 2 cakes, but abandoned the idea and made 1 round cake. The pan was a little too small and took a little longer to cook than the time given in the recipe. I got nervous and decided to make another cake. This time I made chocolate cake. Fortunately both the cakes turned out well. The chocolate cake won hands down.

2 1/2 C all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2 T sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk(14 0unces)
1 C water
2 T vinegar
2 T vanilla extract
1/2 C butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F or180 C. Lightly grease and dust a 9x13 inch pan or two 8 inch round pans.
2. In a large pan mix together the dry ingredients.
3.Make a well and stir in the wet ingredients in order given. Mix everything using a hand mixer. Do not over mix.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Tap the pans to break any air bubbles. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack. Remove the cake after 15 minutes. Allow the cake to completely cool before icing.

Add 1/4 C cocoa for chocolate cake.