Bittergourd has become a latest addition to our diet. Whenever V does shopping at Indian store, he invariably picks up few bittergourds. They have pretty short shelf life, so I have to use them up quickly.Karathe kismuri is the only dish I end up making with it since we love that dish so much. Recently, whenever I fry bittergourd to make this dish, both V and Ishaan keep eating the fried pieces as it is, before even it gets into any dish!. I prepared Aayi’s karathe nonche last time. I was looking for something different again, so I tried this.
I got these small thin potatoes – fingerling potatoes a while back. They taste great roasted just with some garlic and chilli powder. Any potatoes can be used, but these give a nice bite to the dish. A generous squeeze of lemon takes this simple dish to a whole new level. This dish tastes great when made spicy. Serve with rice and simple dal for a comfort meal.
Fry the bittergourd with salt.
Add the potatoes and cumin seeds.
Add the spices and cook till done.
Living in Kansas for more than 9 years now, we have made some very close friends. We feel it is such a blessing when we are so far away from family. One of our friends invited us for dinner during Thanksgiving holidays. I was supposed to take a dish, but I had no energy to make anything that day. So my friend prepared the whole dinner. The dish that I loved most was a eggs in coriander leaves curry. I remember I had tasted a similar curry sometime before, but don’t know where. She shared her recipe with me. I tried it at home with few changes and we loved it.
Boil eggs and cut them into half.
Make the spice paste.
Fry onion and add the ground paste. Make the wheat flour paste. Add eggs tomatoes and the wheat flour paste to the curry.
This month’s bread in “We Knead to Bake” group was Julekake. It is a Norwegian Cardamom scented Christmas bread. I was so excited when Aparna posted the recipe in the beginning of the month. I always wanted to try a bread with dried fruits, it reminds of the bread I used to eat when I was a kid. Also, everyone keeps talking about Christmas breads/cakes during this season. I thought I would bake this soon and post the recipe on time (24th ie). But that never happened. It is winter here and kids started falling sick one after the other in loop. I am having hard time just keeping up with everyday food. Then finally I baked this last week. It was an instant hit. Even my 8 month old tried few pieces and loved it.
Read more about this bread at Aprna’s blog. I did not find candied fruits or I should say I did not have too much patience searching for them. Instead I used dried papaya and dried pineapple along with raisins. I loved these fruits and cardamom aroma of the bread. I think I should have covered the bread a tad bit early, it became very dark before I could get to it. So after 15mins of baking, I covered the bread with a silver foil and baked for remaining 15mins. V kept saying it was just perfect. We had it for atleast 3-4 days.
Make the dough.
Add the dry fruits to the dough.
Let it rise again.
Shape the dough and make the egg wash.
Brush the egg wash on the bread and spread almonds. Bake the bread.
It was last November/December when I had invited my friend Leslie and her family for dinner. She brought a big batch of sugar cookies that were beautifully decorated with some colored sugar. Ishaan was around 3 and 1/2 then. He ate atleast 4-5 cookies in one go. I had never seen him liking any cookie like that. I asked Leslie for the recipe and she was very kind to share it with me. It then sat there for a long time. I was pregnant at that time and somehow forgot all about it.
Then last month for Thanksgiving, I thought I would bake some cookies and send to Ishaan’s school. I remembered these cookies because I knew kids would love these. I asked for the recipe again. But then I got busy and could not bake. Finally we decided to bake this yesterday. Ishaan wanted to help decorate them. He decorated using M&Ms and chocolate chips. He said he is practising patterns – he had arranged the toppings in some pattern in all rows. Once done, he counted all to see how many we had in each tray. I really enjoyed the whole experience. I think Santa will get some of these cookies if Ishaan does not eat all of these before 24th!. Thank you Leslie for the recipe.
Mix all the ingredients.
Shape and decorate cookies. Then bake them.
Easy and tasty sugar cookies that are fun to make and sure to impress anyone
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup oil
2 egg whites
4½ cups all purpose flour
1 tea spn cream of tarter
1 tea spn baking soda
1 tea spn salt
1 tea spn vanilla extract
Beat together sugar, powdered sugar, butter and oil.
Then add all other ingredients and mix well.
Preheat the oven at 375F for 10mins.
Refrigerate the dough for 30 mins. (see notes)
Shape them into small rounds and decorate as you wish.
Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.
In the original recipe, it was mentioned to drop the cookie dough by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet as soon as it was prepared (no resting). Then flatten with a fork to create a + and sprinkle with colored sugars before baking. I wanted to bake round cookies, so I refrigerated them for 30mins and then shaped and decorated them.
Fenugreek leaves are used in variety of dishes in Indian cuisine. In few recipes, they form base and in some other they are just used to give distinct flavor. In any case, they are of great nutritional value and if cooked in appropriate way, they become part of healthy diet. Needless to mention, healthy dish can be a tasty one too. In this category of ‘healthy and tasty’ dishes, this Fenugreek Salad(Methi palya) has remained our favorite for quite some time now.
We have learnt this from a close North Karnataka friend’s family. This friend of mine, hardly likes our traditional dishes, due to his inherent dislike for coconut. However irony is we like everything that is made in their kitchen! Their cuisine has fewer dishes but each dish is made to perfection. Generally in any North Karnataka thali, its a practice to serve few Fenugreek leaves by side. But this dish goes extra mile, as its leaves remain raw and crunchy. The dish by itself is very tasty and competes for top spot on their thali, along with traditional Ennegaayi, Kalu, Mirchi Bajji and Gurellu powder. Just because leaves are not cooked, its always referred as Hasi Palya(raw side-dish) in their home.
We have learnt this from them and in this version, we have made one modification. Please refer to Notes for as authentic version as theirs.
Wash and spread methi on a paper. Chop them.
Grind onions, coriander leaves, chillies, curry leaves, garlic.
Make the seasoning and then add the paste to it. Let it cool to room temperature and then mix with methi leaves.
Fenugreek leaves salad with a dressing of freshly ground spice paste
1 bunch of fresh Fenugreek leaves
2 tbsp oil
Salt as desired.
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tbsp urad dal
1 tbsp chana dal
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 green chillies
6-7 garlic cloves
½ cup onion
2-3 strands coriander leaves
3-5 Curry leaves
Cut and separate roots of Fenugreek bunch, wash leaves, drain and spread over either a paper or dry cloth. This step is very important to get crunchy texture to dish. We need to ensure we get leaves, without any water.
Chop onion and grind ingredients mentioned above, into smooth paste. No need to add water while grinding.
In a thick bottomed vessel heat oil and add ingredients mentioned. Fry them till they start to splutter.
Add paste prepared earlier and fry till raw smell goes off and oil starts separating. Ensure turmeric is added bit later, to avoid burning.
Allow it to cool. Add 1 tsp of salt or as desired.
Chop Fenugreek leaves and mix with earlier mixture. Its advisable to mix when you are about to serve to retain freshness of Fenugreek leaves.
Serve at this stage along with rice and curry or Jowar roti and Ennegaayi.
Instead of grinding onion in to paste, you may shallow fry finely chopped onion along with other ingredients for tampering. This may require little more oil and hence we have used onion, while grinding.
As I had mentioned sometime back, I joined We Knead to Bake – a baking group in August. Aparna chooses a bread and posts the recipe every month and all them members bake the bread and post it on 24th of the month. This month Aparna chose this very fragrant bread Sheermal.
When I saw this recipe in the beginning of the month, I was very intrigued by the beautiful color of the bread from saffron. I could imagine the saffron aroma coming out of the bread. I don’t remember seeing/tasting this bread anywhere before.
From last few months, I wanted to prepare an Indian meal for a good friend who loves Indian meal. He wanted to taste chicken tikka masala. I decided to bake this bread to go along with that. I wasn’t sure how he would like a very fragrant bread with that. I thought if I added rose water (which was there in original recipe), he probably would not like it much. Also, it was crazy cold last few weeks and it was not possible for me to go for shopping to get it. I know rose water or cardamom would have totally changed the aroma of it, I chose not to use them. I will try it again sometime with those two.
V and I really enjoyed this bread a lot. Even my almost 8 month old, loved to pick up and eat pieces of it. It was very fluffy and tasty. Since I wanted more bread, I used 1 and 1/2 tea spn yeast, so I increased the amount of all the ingredients by 1 and 1/2 times (except egg, I just used 1 egg). It still came out really really good. I will be making this bread again soon. I will take this recipe as a base and will substitute all purpose flour with wheat flour, a little by little, to come up with a consistency that we will enjoy.
I am posting the quantities that I followed for future reference. Check Aparna’s post for more details.
Make the dough and roll into circles.
Brush the dough with saffron milk.
Nagli or Kane or Lady fish is abundantly available in the river near our home. So we get very fresh ones in the market. It is considered as one of the “clean fishes” as it does not have too many bones. It is easy for digestion, so when we introduce fish to babys, we start with nagli. We make few different dishes with this fish. This Nagli Ambat is one of them.
Make coconut paste. Fry onion.
When they turn brownish, add coconut paste and then fish.
Nagli Ambat is a gravy prepared by cooking lady fish in a coconut gravy.
7-8 pieces of lady fish/nagli
½ cup onion
1 cup fresh/frozen coconut
4-5 red chillies
A piece of tamarind
¼ tea spn turmeric
1 tea spn coriander seeds
2 green chillies
Remove scales of lady fish and clean the fish.
Heat a little oil and fry coriander seeds, turmeric.
Grind them with coconut, tamarind and red chillies to a smooth paste.
Heat oil and fry onion till they are brownish.
Add the coconut paste, green chillies slit into two pieces and salt.
Add little water to make it a thick gravy.
Slowly slide in the fish and cook till they are done.
Serve hot with rice.
Instead of cooking the coconut paste first and then adding fish, fish can be added to onions and fried for few minutes and then coconut paste is added. This gives a slightly different taste. Be very careful with the fish if this is followed. The fish is very delicate and can break down if it is mixed much
Last December when I was pregnant with Ayaan, I had invited few of my friends and their parents (who were visiting them) to dinner. I told aunty that I love chicken and she told me she will make something for me. She had only 1-2 weeks until she returned to India. She was very sweet to take out time in the busy schedule to cook and send a big batch of chicken curry.
If there is one spice that is commonly used in Indian cooking that I cannot stand, it is black cardamom. I have tried it in different ways and somehow I never liked the aroma of it. But that cardamom did something magical to this chicken curry. It reminded me the chicken curry that I used to love eating in restaurants back home. I won’t lie, I did not want to share it with V or Ishaan. Yes, I was very mean. Comeon, I was 7 months pregnant and someone had sent me something that I really loved. I must have given them just few spoons of curry and I pretty much finished everything else. Then I asked aunty for the recipe and she was very kind to share it with me.
I have tried this couple of times. I did not want to buy black cardamom for this one dish, so I prepared it without that few times. But it never came out like aunty’s. Then I bought a small pack of black cardamom and tried again and it made such a huge difference to the curry.
Half cook the chicken in spices.
Heat oil and fry whole spices, ginger-garlic paste.
Add the powders, fry for few minutes. Add chicken and cook.
School reopened for my preschooler in August. With that, all the invitations for birthday parties also started. So the child was pretty upset that his birthday is not coming soon enough. April is way too far and he had some meltdowns when I said he has to wait for 6 more months. When he started repeating the same question again and again, I told him I will make him something special for his 4 and 1/2 birthday. So he started counting down days for that. He wanted a big party, so to set the expectations, I told him he will get spiderman cake pops for the special day. (A friend had sent me this Spiderman Candy Apples link, I know he wouldn’t care for candy apples, so I thought of cake pops instead). He gladly agreed. He told me, “I will taste one, if I like, I will take to school and share them with my friends!!”. Lets just say I was really glad that day his school was closed, so I didn’t have to make some 20+ cake pops.
Most of the cake pops I have seen are prepared with crumbling a cake, adding some buttercream to it and then forming balls. I did not want to make that this time since I felt buttercream makes the pops very sweet. My child is not too much into sweets. He eats cakes once in a while, but not too much. He loves chocolates though. So after a lot of googling, I found out about cake pop pans which I got at Target.
I used eggless chocolate cake recipe for my pops. I used half the quantity which was perfect for the pan. The cake pop pan is greased with butter and sprinkled with flour. Unlike a muffin pan, each pop mold is filled completely (only one half of the pan) and then the other half is kept on it and locked. So when the cake bakes, it fills up the other half to get perfect rounds. I baked it for 15mins. The I let it rest till it was cooled completely and then removed the pops from pan. Then with a sharp knife, removed any round rings on the pops that were caused by oozed out cake batter.
In a cup, I melted some white chocolate chips. Each pop stick was then dipped into chocolate and inserted into pops. Then chilled in fridge till the chocolate is completely set.
Here is where the problems started!. I melted some chocolate and then colored it red. I kept mixing it and it all became mushy. Then I remembered something that I had read somewhere. Do not mix white chocolate too much!. So next batch I was lot more careful. Once the chocolate was melted, I dipped each pop into the colored chocolate. I had to be really careful here since they started falling apart, so I had to move quickly and carefully. Then I refrigerated them back till the chocolate was set.
Then I drew eyes with white buttercream and webs with black buttercream.
I finally got to making some dishes for Diwali. My 6 month old was down with cold for last few days and I was really trying hard to keep up with just day-to-day cooking. Since Ishaan is 4 years old, I thought he would have fun during this festival. I had a long list of dishes that I wanted to make, but I am glad I am slowly getting to atleast few of them.
Gulab Jamun is one of my favorite Indian sweets. We usually make these with khova/khoya. I normally make khova at home to make jamuns. But this time I did not have time to make it at home or to run to Indian store to get it. So I decided to try jamuns with paneer, which is readily available in my neighborhood grocery store. I wanted to follow the same recipe but just replace khova with paneer. Then last moment, I decided to add some cooked sweet potato to it to see how it would taste. The result was very soft and tasty jamuns.
Deep fried paneer and sweet potato balls dipped in cardamom flavored sugar syrup.
1 cup (8oz or 226g) crushed paneer
½ cup mashed sweet potatoes (around 150g before cooking)
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ tea spn baking soda
Oil/ghee for deep frying
2 cups sugar
3 cups water
½ tea spn cardamom powder
Heat sugar and water in a pan till it starts boiling.
Take off the heat and add cardamom powder.
Cook sweet potatoes in pressure cooker.
Peel them and grind to a smooth paste.
Mix paneer, sweet potato paste, all purpose flour, baking soda.
Make small balls out of the mixture. To make sure they don't fall apart, apply some pressure with palms to make sure they stay together.
Heat oil, add 1 tbl spn of ghee to oil.
Deep fry the jamuns, till they are deep brown.
Take them out on a paper towel.
When they are still warm, slide in warm syrup.
Aayi has this great tip. Instead of deep frying in all ghee, she adds just a tbl spn of ghee to a kadai of oil. That gives the aroma of ghee to the deep fried product. You can add few tea spns of milk to help in grinding sweet potatoes. It is optional.