Saturday, March 31, 2012

Banana Nut Bread

Who likes to eat ripe bananas? I like them a little firm. When the bananas start to change color, I place them in a plastic bag and save them to bake. Recently, I saw this easy recipe for banana bread posted by a friend on Face book. Then I remembered how I made banana bread in previous times and how successful it was. My kids love it, especially my son!  I had some ripe bananas and thought it would be nice to make the bread for breakfast. We came home late after dinner, but that didn't stop me. I made this awesome bread at 10:00 PM. By 11, the whole house was filled with the the smell of warm bread. My husband awoke from the couch to the smell. We had it for  breakfast this morning.It was a great way to enjoy fruit even if there is a little sugar added to it. :)

3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg
1/4 C melted butter
11/2 C all purpose flour
1 C sugar
1 t baking soda
1/4 t cinnamon powder
1 t vanilla
1/2 C chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Beat the egg and butter in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients,except the nuts, and mix with a wooden spoon. Fold in the nuts.
3. Pour the batter into a bread loaf pan, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool it  in the pan for a few minutes before removing.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

I was in not in a mood to cook Indian food yesterday.  We were talking about pot pie and shepherd's pie at work. So, I decided to make Shepherd's Pie. I made a one-dish dinner with chopped vegetables and mashed potato. It turned out well. I used the leftover to make a wrap for lunch today. My daughter loved it. I used the recipe from one of the cook books that I have.  I made some changes to it.

3 C peas, and chopped carrots
1 C chopped onion
1 C chopped green pepper
2 t dried thyme
1 t chili powder
Olive oil spray
4 large potatoes
2/3 C light ricotta cheese
1/4 t salt
pepper to taste
2 C drained black-eyed peas
1 C diced tomato
1 (8-ounce)  can no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 t soy sauce
salt to taste
Panko Bread crumbs

1. Combine the first 5 ingredients, and stir well.  Spoon into a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Coat the vegetables with cooking spray.
2. Bake uncovered, at 400 F for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Set aside.
3. Boil potatoes in water till tender. Drain, peel and mash. Stir in ricotta cheese, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
4. Combine vegetable mixture, black-eyed peas, and the next 4 ingredients, stirring well. Spoon into a 21/2 -quart shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray.
5. Spoon the mashed potato in a border around the edge of the dish. Spoon the remaining potato mixture over the center of the dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs over top. Bake uncovered, at 350 F for 20 minutes.

I did not have ricotta cheese. So, I used 1 tablespoon of cream cheese and  2 tablespoons of plain yogurt.
I used boiled garbanzo(chick peas) instead of the black-eyed peas.
The recipe called for Worcestershire sauce. But I used soy sauce.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani

When I was in India last month, we went to eat out. My brother-in-law wanted to order Jeera rice. My niece's observation was why order something that mom makes at home. I'm always skeptical about ordering Biriyani.  Last week I was in mood for just the same, and decided to make Hyderabadi Biriyani. I had some idea of how to make it. But wanted an authenticated version. I looked online and found one that I liked. It came out very well. I made a healthy version of the recipe. It came out very well. I had to restrain myself from going for a second helping. My brother took the left over Briiyani with him. Dum Pukht cooking means, choking off the steam. The food is cooked in a sealed container. In India, there are special vessels made of clay called the Handi. The steam is not allowed to leave the container. Basically, the food is cooked in its own steam on slow heat. Hyderabadi Biriyani is layers of fluffy rice and vegetable masala slow cooked.

For rice:
2 C Basmati rice
3 C water
1 t ghee
2 cardamom
3 cloves

For Vegetable :
1 inch cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
2 green cardamom
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 green chili, slit
1 T ginger-garlic paste
1 large tomato, chopped into large cubes
2 C mixed vegetables, chopped(carrot, cauliflower, beans, peas, and potato)
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 C fresh mint leaves, chopped

5 T thick curd(yogurt), beaten
1 t turmeric powder
10 cashew nuts
2 T oil
1 T ghee
salt, to taste

Biriyani Masala Powder:
2 inch-cinnamon
4 cloves
4 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
2 T cumin seeds
4 dried red chili
1 T peppercorn
Dry roast the above and powder. Store in air-tight container.

4 saffron strands
1 T milk

1. Wash and soak rice for 30 minutes.
2. Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Drain the rice and add to the ghee and fry till the rice swells a little. Meanwhile, boil 3 cups of water separately.
3.Add the boiling water to the rice. Add the cardamom, cloves and salt.
4. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, till the rice is almost done. Remove from heat, fluff and set aside.

1. Cook the mixed vegetable in microwave or blanch them, and keep aside.
2. Heat the oil and ghee in a large pan. Add the first 5 ingredients under Vegetable and fry for a minute.
3. Add the cashew nuts and roast till golden brown.
4. Add the sliced onion, green chili and ginger-garlic paste. Fry till the onion becomes golden brown.
5. Stir in the tomatoes, half of the chopped cilantro and mint leaves. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the turmeric powder, salt and 2 spoons of the Biriyani Masala Powder. Add the blanched vegetables. Stir well to coat with the masala.
6. Add the beaten yogurt and mix well. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining half of the chopped cilantro and mint leaves.

Dum Biriyani:
1.Heat the saffron in a hot vessel(not on heat). Dissolve in warm milk. Sprinkle half of it on the rice and mix.
2. Take a heavy bottomed pot or pressure pan. Spread a third of the rice evenly. Spread half of the vegetable mixture on the rice layer. Continue with another layer of rice and vegetable. Complete with a layer of rice. Sprinkle with the remaining saffron milk. Cover the pot with a fitting lid. Seal the edges with dough. Place a small dish with water on top of the lid. Heat a tava or griddle on the stove on low- medium heat. Place the pot with rice on top of the griddle. Cook for 30 minutes.
To serve, scoop the rice from the bottom of the pot. Serve with onion raita. Mirchi ka Salan goes very well with this dish.

Oven can be used to cook the Biriyani. Pre- heat oven to 375 degree F.Layer the rice and vegetable in an oven proof dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Karadayan Nonbu(Savitri Vratha)

According to Tamil Calendar this year, March 14 marks the beginning of the new month, Panguni.  Women in most of the Tamil Brahmin families keep a fast today in honor of the famed Savitri, who is said to have followed Lord Yama to bring back her husband, Satyavan from death. This vratha is to pray for the long life of husbands. Women fast until the time Panguni begins. This could be any time of the day or night. They break their fast by eating a dish called the Karaadai, a sweet steamed flat dumpling made with rice flour and brown sugar(gud), topped with butter. They also make a salted version called Uppu Adai. They pray to Kamatchi Amman and tie a sacred thread around their necks.
2 C rice flour, dry roasted
1/2 C black eyed beans, dry roasted and boiled
2 T coconut, sliced into small bits
1 C Indian brown sugar(gud)
1/2 t cardamom powder
2 green chili, chopped
1/2 t ginger,chopped(optional)
2t oil
mustard seeds, curry leaves, and asafoetida, for seasoning
cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Salt,to taste

Sweet Adai:
1. Melt brown sugar in 2 cups of water on medium heat. Remove from heat and filter it. Pour it back into the pan. Add 1 table spoon of coconut bits and 1/4 cup of the cooked beans to the pan. Bring the water to a boil. Add the cardamom powder. Add 1 cup of the roasted flour to the water, while constantly stirring, until all the water is absorbed and forms a doughy ball. It should take about 5 minutes. A toothpick inserted to the dough should come out clean. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Uppu Adai:
1. Heat oil in a pan, and season the mustard seeds, chili, ginger, curry leaves, and asafoetida. Pour 2 cups of water. Add salt, 1 tablespoon of coconut bits, cilantro,and 1/4 cup of the cooked beans. Bring the water to a boil. Add 1 cup of the roasted rice flour, stirring constantly. Cook till all the water is absorbed and a dough is formed. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

To make the dumplings:
1. Grease the idly plates. Take small balls of the dough, and flatten between your palms.  Repeat the procedure for both doughs.
2. place the adai on the idly plates and steam cook in a pressure cooker for 8 minutes. 
3. Cook the 2 types of adai separately. Remove them from the cooker. Serve hot with a dab of butter on top. Uppu adai tastes well with coconut chutney.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Kola Vada or Kotbole(mini Indian Pretzel)

My mother-in-law is famous for her Kola Vada, a crispy savory made with sooji(cream of wheat). Before returning home, she wanted to make some for my husband. So, me and my sister-in-law decided to make it ourselves this time. We wanted to learn the tradition. It is easy if 2 people make it together. I am glad to say that it turned out very well and got certified by everyone in the family.

2 C un-roasted cream of wheat(sooji)
2 T rice flour
1 t turmeric powder
1 T chili powder
2 T sesame seeds
2 T grated coconut
salt to taste
1/2 t asafoetida
3 T butter
water to make the dough
oil to fry

1. Mix all the dry ingredients. Slightly melt the butter and mix to the dry ingredients. Add enough water to make a stiff dough.
2. Take a berry size dough in your hand. Roll it between your palms to make a rope. Twist the rope to shape like a pretzel. Continue to make mini pretzel with the remaining dough.
3. Heat oil in a pan. Deep fry the pretzel shaped kola vada and drain on a paper towel. Enjoy with tea or coffee.
Kids will definitely love this snack after school.