Monday, 20 February 2017

618. Mango and Curried Chickpea Salad

Cooking from a cookbook

    The 80th theme for #FoodieMonday #Bloghop is Cookbook Cooking. Now I certainly do not have a shortage of cookery books, they line a whole shelf in the kitchen. I've left some in Bangalore and have a few in Montreal. So when my friends from FoodieMonday decided on cookbook cooking, I didn't know which one to choose. I could have played it safe and selected my favourite Tarla Dalal. However,I remembered the cookbook that my son and daughter in law had given to me as a Christmas present 2 years ago. I'd drooled over the pictures and wowed all the recipes, closed it and put it on the shelf.
   
    So I thought its time to dust it and actually make something from that book. Which book you may ask? Well its a thick and heavy vibrant vegetable cooking from London's Ottolenghi called Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. Vibrant it definitely is. He uses such exotic combinations to create drool worthy, exotic, healthy concoctions. Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli born British Chef. He's owns a few restaurants in UK. Most of his dishes whether vegetarian or non vegetarian are colourful, vibrant and may have the most unusual combinations.My cousins have dined at his restaurant and vouch that's its one of the finest dining experience.The first time I had an Ottolenghi dish was when my cousin prepared a sweet potato and pomegranate salad from his book.And I fell in love with the combination and scrumptious salad.
   
   Pomelo with peanuts and sesame seeds, black glutinous rice with chantrelle mushrooms, eggplants cooked with curry and other Indian spices but with lemongrass flavour, pancakes with gooseberry and ricotta, fava beans with roasted garlic and ricotta.The combinations are endless. Dining at his restaurant is on my 'bucket list'. Till then will have to prepare some of those enticing dishes myself. 
   
   When you go through most of his recipes, one thing you'll notice is that Ottolenghi uses  fresh ingredients, no opening cans and using ready made sauces. So that's my kinda guy... use fresh whenever possible.Sourcing a lot of the ingredients he uses is not easy in a place like Mombasa. Obviously, I could not identify the recipe to prepare by the photos only. I had to go through quite a few till I came across the Alphonso Mango and Curried Chickpea Salad. Ahhaa, so here's one I can make as I have all the ingredients....well almost. So what if I didn't have the famous Indian Alphonso or the 'so common in the western world' baby spinach. Our Kenyan apple mangoes are without any fibers, sweet and very aromatic. I chopped up a bunch of the normal spinach and voila I had a delicious salad for dinner. We Indians know that there is no spice called curry powder. So added my own masala powder.
  
   Here's the recipe for this delicious, filling and satisfying salad. I halved the original recipe.












MANGO AND CURRIED CHICKPEA SALAD
Serves 4 or 2 as a meal
Recipe Source : Plenty More by Yoram Ottolenghi

½ cup raw chickpeas
200g (2 cups) cauliflower
1 large or 2 small ripe mangoes (Alphonso or any mango without fibers)
1 medium red onion
½ cup chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp lemon juice (original recipe uses lime)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
A handful of  fresh spinach leaves 

Spices:
½ tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
¼ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
¼ tsp turmeric powder ( haldi)
½ tsp curry powder (masala powder)
½ tsp powdered sugar
1-1½ tsp salt
1 green chilli (de seeded and chopped finely) I used a fresh red one


  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in warm water. Next day drain out the water, wash them and put them in a pressure cooker or a pan with enough water and ½ tsp salt. If you are using a pressure cooker, close the cooker with the lid and put it over medium flame. Cook the chickpeas for 3 whistles. If you are using a saucepan, add enough water and put the pan over medium flame and cook till the chickpeas are done.
  2. Drain out the water and keep the chickpeas on the side till required.
  3. Peel and cut the mango into cubes.
  4. Slice the red onion thinly.
  5. Cut the cauliflower into florets.
  6. Heat water in a pan. When it is boiling, add the cauliflower florets and blanch for 1 minute.
  7. Pour the cauliflower with the water into a sieve or colander. Spread out the cauliflower on kitchen towel to dry them.
  8. Roast coriander, mustard and cumin seeds in a wide pan till the mustard seeds begin to pop and you get an aroma of the spices.
  9. Crush the spices in a herb mill or in a mortar with a pestle.
  10. Add sugar, turmeric powder, curry powder to the spice mixture and mix it well.
  11. Heat  1 tbsp oil in the wide pan. Stir fry the onions till they are slightly soft. 
  12. Add the chickpeas, spice mixture and ¼ tsp salt. Mix it well.
  13. Take the mixture out into a bowl and let it cool a bit.
  14. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and add the cauliflower florets.Stir fry the cauliflower for 2-3 minutes. Add ¼ tsp salt and mix well. Add this mixture to the chickpea mixture.
  15. Wash and pat dry the spinach. If you're using normal spinach leaves then cut then into bite size pieces.
  16. Add mango pieces, spinach, chopped chilli and chopped fresh coriander to the chickpea cauliflower mixture.
  17. Drizzle the lemon or lime juice over it. Mix well and serve.
  18. This salad can be served warm or cold.
Tips:
  • The original recipe suggested to cut the cauliflower into 1½" florets but I cut them smaller. 
  • Keep an eye when blanching the cauliflower, you don't want to over cook it.
  • Don't use an over ripe mango. The mango should be ripe but firm.
  • Adjust the amount of spices and chilli according to your taste.
You may want to check out other salad recipes:

Moroccan couscous salad
Sending this recipe for the following event:


Blog Hop

Thursday, 16 February 2017

617.Tangy Creamy Potato Curry

GUEST NO.3 ON THE BLOG

         My 3rd guest on the blog is my middle foi (fupi, paternal aunt) Manjulaben. I was really surprised when her daughter in law Heni said 'mum's going to send a recipe for your blog.' When I heard that I was surprised because I thought the old generation would not really bother to measure the ingredients and do all the writing. Ok she got her daughter in law to write down the recipe as she narrated it to her. After the surprised moment, I was grinning from ear to ear because my foi or Manju aunty as we all call her is such a sport. 

        My memories about her...well when she was living in Mombasa, every school holiday she would come down to Nairobi with my cousins. I remember she had this mustard sweater with black design on it. The moment she would arrive into Nairobi (back then people travelled by train), she would put on her famous sweater. She claimed that she was feeling cold. Whether it was raining or shining she had her sweater on. December holidays is when we would go down to Mombasa. It would be really hot and we would find it difficult to sleep at night. Back then who had heard of air conditioners. She would leave the windows open and ask me to sleep near the window so the cool breeze and the fan breeze would do its trick. Those were the days my friends when people could sleep peacefully with their windows open and there were no grills on them too.

         My aunt is a fantastic cook, I love the sweet parathas that she makes. During our visits to Mombasa, she would make this really tangy chutney everyday to go with our meal. She would grate onions and raw mango finely, add salt, a bit of sugar and red chilli powder. I use to love that chutney and I use to think that she was so clever, making chutney with onions. Back home my mum made the usual dhania, mango, mint chutney. In the afternoons she would allow us to sit on the window ledge in her room and we could watch the world pass by. Its during does trips that I first got introduced to kachri bateta, more famously known as the tin tin or babu kachri. I guess it was called that because an old man would come with his tiny cart ringing his small bell and serve the thick potato stew with potato crisps, mango coconut chutney and thick savory sticks called ganthia. My aunt would order that for all of us, back then it was not served in fancy plates but the good old newspaper. That was a treat we all would wait for, usually as a tea snack and served with cold coke. 

     She was an active member of the Kala Kendra, Patel Samaj when she was living in Mombasa. Any new recipes she would have learnt from the ladies she would prepare it for us during her visit to Nairobi. She loves baking and had won quite a few cooking competitions in Mombasa. She's not afraid to try any new recipes which she comes across in the newspaper or magazines. 
        
        When I went to London 3 years ago to prepare for my son's wedding,I remember she told me 'Don't feel sad because your mum is no longer with us, just call me I will help you just as your mum would have'. Those kind words were enough for me. Always eager to help and energetic (will I be like that at her age?). Manju aunty has lived in London for 30 years now. She loves doing yoga which she does religiously every morning for nearly 45 minutes(I should be ashamed as I can't stick to any exercise routine). She attends yoga classes twice a week, goes there by bus, loves reading and travelling. After her yoga sessions she would come home to spend time with my mum. She's 76 and enjoys life. I'm not surprised that she loves visiting family and friends. We're a huge family and she got married into a huge family. Cooking for large families therefore comes very easily to her.
     
       So her contribution for my blog is a tangy potato curry but before you go down to the recipe, here's what she had to say about me.

      What can I say about Mayuri, I’ve known her since her birth… She is my niece (Brother’s daughter –Bhatiji…) and has always been a very clever and calm girl.
One thing that we always laugh about is Mayuri as a child was very scared of her dad.Whenever her dad wanted to speak to her, he would call her over but as soon as she heard her dad’s voice she would start crying. She would be frightened that her dad will tell her off – her dad would see her crying and would not be able tell her off.
Mayuri and I spent quite a longtime together in Nairobi and later in Mombasa after she got married. From a young age, she always had a passion for cooking always helping her mum and the many aunts in the kitchen.







Tangy Creamy Potato and Peas Curry
Serves 4 people

Ingredients
2 Cups peas (frozen are also ok)
5 Cloves of Garlic (finely Grind/Paste)
1 Medium size Onion (Finely Grind/paste)
3 Tbsp Oil
1 Pinch of Asafoetida
1 Teaspoon Cumin seeds
1/2 Cup freshly Chopped Coriander
1 Cup Double Cream

Marinade
5 Medium size potatoes
2 Cups Yogurt/Curd (Not too Sour)
2 Tablespoon Ginger paste
2 Tablespoon Chilli paste
1 Teaspoon Turmeric powder
2 Tablespoon Coriander Powder
2 Tablespoon Cumin Powder
1/2 Cup freshly Chopped Coriander
2 Tablespoon Jaggery/Gud (might need more if yogurt is sour)

Method

1.      Peel and cut the potatoes in quarters (if you prefer you can cut it smaller) and pierce them repeatedly with a fork to allow the marinade to soak in.
2.      Add all the other marinade ingredients in to potatoes and leave it for 4-5hrs for the potatoes absorb all the flavours.
3.      Heat some oil in a sauce pan and then add the asafoetida and cumin seeds.
4.      Add the onion paste, garlic paste and freshly chopped coriander and let it cook until golden brown in colour.
5.      Add the marinated potatoes in to the sauce pan and let it cook until potatoes are almost cooked (It will take longer for potatoes to cook because of the Yogurt in the marinade).
6.      Add the peas to the sauce pan with the cooked potatoes (if you are using fresh peas then you might need to add them in when the potatoes are half cooked).
7.      Once potatoes and peas are cooked your curry is ready.
8.      Add cream just before you are ready to serve and garnish it with fresh coriander leaves for decoration.


You can eat this curry with Naan, Chappati, Paratha or Rice and it can make nice satisfying meal.

You may want to check out the recipes from my other guests:

baked bread pudding

gluten free pizza crust



Tuesday, 14 February 2017

616. Kabalagala (Ugandan Pancakes)#BreadBakers

Kabalagala (Ugandan Pancakes)#BreadBakers

So many different types its unbelievable

   I didn't have any theme in mind when I volunteered to host the month of February for the Bread Bakers group.As Christmas got over and the year was ending I knew I had to think of a theme pretty soon. I went back to the rules for participants and there the word pancake kept staring at me. The only pancakes I know are the usual Indian ones like dosas, uttappams, chilas etc and of course the typical fluffy American style ones dripping with melted butter and honey or maple syrup. Did a bit of research (what would we do without Google?) and hey presto the world opened up to me with a variety of pancakes I'd never heard of. So I challenged the members to the theme of pancakes from different parts of the world, to venture out to pancakes they've not made before.
  
   I am so grateful that the members took time to research and have come up with different pancakes. Check the list below and please visit each blog to find out the different names and recipes of the pancakes.
   
   So basically the dictionary describes pancakes as a thin flat cake of batter fried on both sides on a griddle or in a frying pan. However, as I researched, the meaning of pancake widened. Some pancakes are baked, some are fried and some may appear like flat breads but are actually known as pancakes in the region of origin.Some have yeast as leavening agent others have baking agents. Pancakes can be sweet or savory, may contain different types of flours, fruits, vegetables. There's a whole world of pancakes out there. Drop scones, waffles, crumpets, pikelets, oatcakes are classified as pancakes.(However countries of origin may refute that!)
from google
   My contribution towards this theme is a pancake from Uganda. Uganda is a landlocked East African country, neighbouring Kenya on the west side. When one mentions Uganda and the immediately one thinks of the dictator ruler Idi Amin. His rule ruined a country which at one time was known as the Pearl of Africa. Uganda has very fertile farmlands and amazing National Parks.Its exports coffee and other produces. The staple food in Uganda is maizemeal, plantains, peanuts, cassava along with meat. Kenyans love the small bananas or menvu as they are called in Uganda. They are sweet and irresistible.
   
  These pancakes from Uganda are called Kabalagala. They are made from cassava (tapioca) flour, mashed sweet banana or plantains. Gluten free,sugar free they look more like doughnuts but every possible Ugandan blog post, article I read about food from Uganda describes Kabalagala as a pancake.The recipe is very simple and the pancakes were absolutely delicious with a hot cup of coffee. Kabalagala in the Luganda language means pancake made using sweet bananas and cassava flour.The original preparation made by Nubians was called kabalagara. An affluent area in the city of Kampala is named after the pancake. Kabalagala is a famous street food in Uganda, enjoyed with tea as breakfast or served with stew.  It is believed that these pancakes became very famous as a cheap alternative to cakes and bread during the Idi Amin Regime as they were affordable and combination of banana and cassava keeps one's tummy full for a long period of time.











KABALAGALA (UGANDAN PANCAKES)
Recipe source: Here

2 big or 6 small over ripe bananas
2-2¼ cups cassava(tapioca) flour
a generous pinch of salt
¼ tsp soda bicarbonate (baking soda)
¼ tsp pepper powder

oil for deep frying
extra flour for dusting


  1. Peel and mash the bananas.
  2. Sift flour, salt and pepper powder together.
  3. Add flour little by little into the mashed banana and mix with a spatula or a spoon.
  4. Keep on adding the flour till its thick enough to knead.
  5. Dust the worktop with some flour and knead the dough. The dough should not be sticky. I used about 2¼ cups of flour.
  6. Roll it out into a ¼" thick circle. Using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut out round discs. 
  7. Gather up the remaining dough and roll again and cut. Keep on repeating the process till all the dough is used up.
  8. Heat oil in a wok or deep frying pan over medium heat. The oil is ready when a small piece of dough put in the oil rises to the top immediately.
  9. Fry the pancakes till they are golden brown.
  10. Dust some icing sugar if you like before serving.
Tips:
  • I found the sweetness from the ripe bananas was just right. If you have a sweeter tooth, add 1-2 tbsp sugar.
  • Original recipes do not add baking agent. Adding it makes it more chewable.
  • A little bit of pepper and salt balances the sweetness from the bananas.
  • The leftover pancakes next day became more chewy. I would recommend that you eat them the day they are prepared.
  • Before frying the pancakes, brush off the excess flour you've used for dusting.
Check out the Pancakes from different parts of the world that our fellow Bread Bakers have made this month:
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

BreadBakers




Monday, 13 February 2017

615. Milk Pudding with Jelly

Happy Valentine's Day

   To love someone deeply gives you strength and to be loved deeply by someone gives you courage. 

   This is so true.Its my hubby's love that gives me courage to do want I want. Loving him gives me the strength to overcome any difficulties. My hubby has never been the flowers, chocolates, teddy bear type of person. Yesterday after watching Raees we went for lunch to a famous Italian restaurant. We were sitting next to the very tempting choices of gelato but he didn't ask me if I wanted some as Valentine's Day is around the corner. In all our 34 years of marriage I received only one valentine's card from him and that too when he was away doing his dermatology course. I bet the younger college mates and friends must have advised him to do so. Basically what I'm trying to get across to you all that he is not the romantic type, he's just too practical and serious. So you may ask "Why don't I do something special?" Well, it usually will go unnoticed, or I would be told why go through all the trouble. Take for example the pudding I made for this post. I took some time and patiently cut out heart shapes from the jelly(not easy when the kitchen's really hot!) and placed a heart on the pudding. The pudding was devoured without any mention of the heart bang in the middle! No 'wow' or 'so sweet'!

   Well that doesn't mean he doesn't love me. He has a different way of showing his love and care. I have to look for it and understand it from his every day actions and decisions he takes. It was his suggestion to go and see Raees, not because he loves watching hindi movies( he'd prefer the English action ones) but because he knows that I love watching hindi movies. Choice of an Italian restaurant is not for him but more for me as I love Italian cuisine. Walks on the beach, dipping our feet in the sea, sitting at the quaint little restaurant at Cowrie Shell, taking care of me when I fall sick, ordering food when I don't feel like cooking, carrying my bags when we travel, carrying my shopping bags, giving me the best seat on the plane etc. are his ways of showing his love for me. 

   Our is an arranged marriage and sure we've had our shares of ups and downs. Over the years love has grown to such an extend that it hurts to be apart for a period of time. When I was away in Bangalore preparing for my daughter's wedding, I missed him everyday though we skyped, facetimed and called every day, sometimes twice in a day. 

  So for me love is when I can feel his pain, when I can sense he is thinking deeply, when I know something is bothering him, when I can't bear to see tears in his eyes, when I can rejoice with him and share good times and bad times, I can joke with him, tease him and scold him too. We're are poles apart in many ways but we've both accepted each ones passion and traits and worked around them. If that is not love than what is it?
   
  Love for us doesn't mean roses, chocolates, candle light dinners or gifts. Its the every day little things we do for each other. Sure, I'll prepare his favourite dish on Valentine's Day.

  Today's recipe is a simple milk pudding served with jelly. I had previously tried this pudding using a whole sweetened condensed milk tin with the milk. The pudding turned out just too sweet. So this time I reduced the condensed milk, added sugar according to my taste. This recipe is my contribution for the 79th theme - Valentine theme for #FoodieMonday #Bloghop group. 











MILK PUDDING WITH JELLY
Serves 6-8

For the pudding:
2½ cups fresh milk, preferably full fat milk
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
1-2 tbsp sugar *
½ cup water
2 tbsp agar agar flakes or 2 tsp agar agar powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 packet of red jelly (red currant, cherry,strawberry or raspberry)

  1. Prepare the jelly as instructed on the packet. Set it in a tray. You want the set jelly to be about 1"- 2" in height.
  2. Sprinkle the agar agar flakes or powder over the water in a small pan and mix.Let it rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix milk, condensed milk and sugar in a deep pan.
  4. Put the pan with milk over medium heat till it begins to boil. Stir the milk frequently.
  5. Put the hot milk pan on the side. 
  6. Heat the agar agar mixture over low heat. Stir is constantly till the agar agar dissolves completely.
  7. Add the agar agar mixture to the hot milk.
  8. Add vanilla extract. Mix well.
  9. Pour the milk into serving bowls or glasses.
  10. Put it the fridge for 3-4 hours till it sets.
  11. Cut heart shaped jelly with a cookie cutter.
  12. Decorate the pudding with the heart shaped jelly.
  13. Alternatively you can add chopped jelly to the serving bowls or glasses.
  14. Pour the milk mixture over it.
  15. Put it in the fridge for 3-4 hours to set.
  16. Serve.
Tips:
  • * If you are going to set it with the jelly than you may not want to add the sugar as the jelly is sweet.
  • Use any coloured jelly of your choice to make this cool milk pudding. Try a rose milk flavoured one.I find its an easy pudding to make and a treat during the hot season.
  • Use gelatin instead of agar agar if you like. 
  • Serve it with chopped fresh fruit instead of jelly.
You may want to check out the following Valentine's Day Recipes:
Chocolate date Mousse
Ravioli Dolci with Strawberry sauce
Plum hand pies
Sending this recipe for the following event:

Blog Hop

Thursday, 9 February 2017

614.Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Guest No. 2 on the blog

    
   My second guest on the blog is my dear kaki (chachi) Charulata. Always there for me, my helper, my adviser and my sympathizer. She probably has heard a million woes from me and never has she once said "oh no Mayuri not again." She started a fashion designing course which she had to leave half way. However her love affair with fabrics didn't end there. While I run a mile(or rather miles) away from a sewing machine and needles, she developed a passion for stitching since she was 8! At that age I probably was helping my mum peel carrots and potatoes and reading books.My kaki is an ace quilter. She creates magic with patches. I've watched her work with tiny squares, rectangles, circles and all sorts of shaped fabrics to magically create a masterpiece. I truly admire her creative talent. As kaki always says 'I just love cutting it up and stitching it back together!'



   
  She's used her talent with fabric and design to help my cousin create ethical jewellery which they both run as Savannah Chic.That's not her only passion. She loves reading, not so much fiction books but books on philosophy and Epics retold. I think her choice of mysteries and other fiction would be the ones written in Gujarati.

  She's a fantastic cook and I've learnt how to bake and make different salads from her.She has taught me not to be afraid to try out any new dish. She can whip up dishes in a jiffy and I must say she kept dishing out food from my kitchen from breakfast to dinner during Nami's wedding. She's what I like to call her 'our travelling pantry.' She goes to London to visit family and she'll have taken some food item for the whole family and rest assured its not a small family. That will include not only her side of the family and her immediate family but all my cousins and aunts and basically half of Edgware and Harrow! When she came to Bangalore for the wedding, her suitcase was like a treasure trove. I just sat there in awe at all that she had brought from Nairobi and London.
  
  When I asked my family to be guests on my blog, my kaki immediately complied. She excitedly told me about the gluten free pizza crust that she bakes. So over to her. Thank you kaki for taking the time from your hectic schedule to measure the ingredients (I know you hate doing that!) and for the photos of your preparation.

Reminiscing about Mayuri and myself: the kitchen was our preferred rendezvous. What is permanently etched in my memory is the Saturday afternoon some forty years back when we decided to make Pizza for nine people armed with Tarla Dalal's first recipe book. We started with rice flour ...and what ensued is not a matter of discussion here (!). These sort of disasters brought Mayuri and myself closer. Oh and by the way, Mayuri is my niece through marriage and a good seven years younger to me. It is her mum from whom I learnt my basic cooking skills. Today, my daughters think highly of my cooking but prefer to follow Mayuri's Jikoni. And why not? I too call upon her now and then for cooking tips. Though Mayuri and myself started cooking almost at the same time she took it many many notches up and has become a fine chef. Our family is proud of her. If I were to describe Mayuri in one sentence it will be something like: 'she thinks, speaks, and acts the same' and this, in my opinion, is a beautiful and rare quality.




GLUTEN FREE PIZZA CRUST
Makes 1

½ cup farali (farari) flour *
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp instant dried active yeast
a generous pinch of salt
¼ cup warm milk ( the amount required will depend on the type of flour)

extra oil for greasing
extra flour for dusting
  1. Put the flour with salt and yeast in a bowl. Mix it.
  2. Add oil and rub it into the flour.
  3. Using little milk at a time form a dough. It should not be too hard or too soft.
  4. Knead into a smooth dough. Shape it into a ball.
  5. Grease the bowl with little oil. Rub a bit of oil over the dough.
  6. Put the dough into the greased bowl and cover it.
  7. Let it rise till its double the size. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  9. Using extra flour, roll the dough out into a 8-9" circle about ¼" thick.
  10. Put the base on a greased baking tray.Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  11. Bake it for 5-7 minutes.
  12. Take it out of the oven and after it cools a bit cover it up with a muslin cloth till required.
  13. To prepare the pizza, put your own choice of toppings and bake for 5-8 minutes or till the edges of the crust turn light golden colour and the cheese has melted.
Tips:
  • Ready made farali or farari flour is available in most Indian stores. 
  • Farali flour is usually a mixture of amaranth(rajgira), little millet (samai), tapioca pearls(sabudana), water chestnut (singara) and sometimes buckwheat flour and is gluten free.
You may want to check out the following:

Guest No.1- Baked Bread Pudding

Monday, 6 February 2017

613. Litti Chokha

Venturing out to try something different

   Yes, its Monday (so soon) and can you believe it we are into the 6th week of the 2017. Time flies. For our 78th theme on #FoodieMonday #Bloghop we decided to go regional with #RegionalCuisine. As soon as the theme was decided I knew I wanted to try out a cuisine that I've never done before. So it had to be the Eastern part of India. I guess having made baked yogurt and rasmalai doesn't really count. I decided on Litti Chokha from the state of Bihar. Well, some say that its also from Uttar Pradesh. What made me choose Litti Chokha? Two reasons, one being that my son in law is from that state, well now Jharkand which was a part of Bihar once upon a time and my neighbour Priya as she comes from UP and makes litti chokha. 
    
   What is Litti Chokha? Well, its a traditional snack from the state of Bihar. The litti is made from wheat and stuffed with a filling (pitthi) and roasted over coal, cow dung or wood fire. Its usually served with roasted mashed vegetables called chokha or bharta. The chokha  can be made from a mixture of potatoes, brinjal and tomatoes or you can make it with only brinjals or only potatoes. I made it with a mixture of both. Litti Chokha is usually served for breakfast or as a snack. It can be made into a meal by serving it with some yogurt and pickles. 

   The filling is quite different too. Sattu is used as the filling. What is sattu? Sattu is a flour made from roasted bengal grams or chickpeas. It is different from the usual besan or chickpea flour. The chickpeas are roasted in salt or sand in a large wok till they begin to crackle.Various spices are added to the sattu or roasted chickpea flour and then filled into the wheat dough. Modern times we don't have coal, cow dung or wood for stoves or sigris so nowadays the litti is baked in the oven and some even fry them. Most Eastern states of India sell ready made sattu in the stores but I had to grind mine at home.The only roasted chana or chickpeas I got here are the ones with the skin. So I had to spend some time removing the skin. I know some people make the sattu with the roasted skin, but I decided not to. Sattu is very healthy. Its rich in protein and minerals. Easy to digest and is usually given to toddlers, pregnant women and old people to provide energy. Sattu is added to a cool drink during summer, in puris and parathas, upma and even other cereals.

roasting chana in salt (picture from Google)

  
   What other delicious goodies is Bihar well known for? I'm truly amazed at the variety actually. Some of the things I've eaten, I had no idea that they are from Bihar. Some of the popular dishes besides litti chokha are Thekua (khajuria), Chandrakala, khaja, khurma(sakapara) which are shaped differently from the normal diamond shaped we know of, kadhi badi, dal puri, sattu paratha, parwal ki mithai, laktho, dal pitha, chana gugni, kala jamun, rasia to name a few. It also has some famous non vegetarian dishes like Bihari Kebab, Bihari Chicken Masala, Bihari Boti etc. I'll be definitely be exploring more about some of these dishes and trying them out in my kitchen. 
  
    So without much delay, lets go to the recipe of making litti chokha. What adds that unique and special taste to the litti chokha besides the spices? Raw mustard oil (with my nose screwed up!). My neighbour insisted that I had to add that. I had to ask her for some as I don't have mustard oil in my kitchen and I don't like using it because of the really strong smell and taste. However, Now I really don't mind! Hubby loved the new dish and I must thank my neighbour Priya for her valuable guidance.











LITTI CHOKHA
Makes 12 littis
Recipe source: Rachna's Kitchen

For the litti dough:
2 cups wheat flour (atta)
2 tbsp ghee
½ tsp ajwain (carom seeds, ajmo)
2 tbsp yogurt
¼ tsp soda bicarbonate (baking soda)
½ - ¾ tsp salt
⅓ - ½ cup warm water

For the pitthi or filling:
1 cup sattu flour (roasted chickpea flour)
1 tsp ginger
1-2 finely chopped green chillis
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp fennel seeds ( valiyari, saunf)
½ tsp ajwain (ajmo, carom seeds)
½ tsp kalonji (nigella seeds)
1 tsp garlic paste
½ cup finely chopped fresh coriander (dhania)
½ - ¾ tsp salt
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp mustard oil
1-2 tsp pickle masala
¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)

For chokha(bharta):
1 big eggplant (aubergine, baigan)
3 medium tomatoes
2 medium potatoes
4-6 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ginger paste
1-2 finely chopped green chillis
¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander
2 medium onions finely chopped
1-1½ tsp salt
1 tsp mustard oil

Preparation of the litti dough:

  1. Sift wheat flour, salt and soda bicarbonate into a big bowl.
  2. Add ajwain and ghee. Rub the ghee into the flour.
  3. Add yogurt and warm water and form a dough.
  4. Knead it into a smooth dough. The dough should not be hard or too soft.
  5. Rub a bit of oil or ghee over it. Cover the dough with a lid or cling film and let it rest till the filling is ready.
Preparation of the chokha:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cut the stalk off the brinjal and cut it into half.
  3. Rub some oil on top and the cut part and put it on a baking tray.
  4. Put the tray in the oven and let the brinjal bake for 30 minutes or till done.
  5. Cut the tomatoes into half. Peel the garlic.
  6. When the brinjals have been cooked for 20 minutes add the tomatoes and garlic to the baking tray.
  7. In the meantime boil the potatoes.
  8. Remove the baking tray from the oven.
  9. Peel the skin from the brinjal and the tomatoes.
  10. Put them in a big bowl. Add the roasted garlic to it.
  11. Peel the boiled potatoes and add to the brinjal mixture.
  12. Mash the brinjal, tomato and potato mxiture till its a bit coarse.
  13. Add chopped salt, mustard oil,chillis, ginger, chopped coriander and finely chopped onions.
  14. Mix well and keep it on the side till required.
Preparation of the stuffing(pitthi):
  1. Put the roasted sattu in a bowl.
  2. Lightly roast fennel and cumin seeds. Crush it lightly with a pestle. 
  3. Add it to the sattu.
  4. Lightly crush the ajwain and add to the sattu.
  5. Add chopped chillis, ginger, garlic, kalonji, turmeric powder, chopped coriander, mustard oil,salt, lemon juice and pickle masala.
  6. Mix everything up nicely. If the filling is dry add about 2-3 tbsp water. It shouldn't be too dry or too wet.
Preparation of litti:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
  3. Take one part of the dough and using your fingers shape it into a cup or small bowl.
  4. Add 1½ tbsp of the pitthi or stuffing into the cup.
  5. Gather up the edges of the dough to close the cup.
  6. Pinch the seams well.
  7. Roll gently into a round ball.
  8. Rub some oil or ghee over the ball and place it on a lightly greased baking tray.
  9. Repeat steps 3-8 with the remaining dough and filling.
  10. Bake the litti for 30-40 minutes until its golden brown and not soft.
  11. Turn the littis thrice during the baking process.
  12. Remove the littis from the oven.
Finale:
  1. Split the litti into half with your hand. 
  2. Pour some melted ghee over it.
  3. Serve with some chokha.
Tips:
  • Adjust the salt and chillis according to your taste.
  • Pickle masala means any red chilli pickle you have at home, you use the masala or spicy mixture. I didn't have any nice pickle at so I added the dry ready made pickle masala.
  • Enjoy the littis the next day with hot masala tea.
  • Litti can be fried if you don't want to bake them.
You may want to check out the following regional dishes:

baked Punjabi samosas - Punjab
Idli Sambhar - South India
Chum chum - Bengal
poha - Maharashtra

Amiri Khaman - Gujarat




Sending this recipe for the following event:

Blog Hop
   

Monday, 20 February 2017

618. Mango and Curried Chickpea Salad

Cooking from a cookbook

    The 80th theme for #FoodieMonday #Bloghop is Cookbook Cooking. Now I certainly do not have a shortage of cookery books, they line a whole shelf in the kitchen. I've left some in Bangalore and have a few in Montreal. So when my friends from FoodieMonday decided on cookbook cooking, I didn't know which one to choose. I could have played it safe and selected my favourite Tarla Dalal. However,I remembered the cookbook that my son and daughter in law had given to me as a Christmas present 2 years ago. I'd drooled over the pictures and wowed all the recipes, closed it and put it on the shelf.
   
    So I thought its time to dust it and actually make something from that book. Which book you may ask? Well its a thick and heavy vibrant vegetable cooking from London's Ottolenghi called Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. Vibrant it definitely is. He uses such exotic combinations to create drool worthy, exotic, healthy concoctions. Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli born British Chef. He's owns a few restaurants in UK. Most of his dishes whether vegetarian or non vegetarian are colourful, vibrant and may have the most unusual combinations.My cousins have dined at his restaurant and vouch that's its one of the finest dining experience.The first time I had an Ottolenghi dish was when my cousin prepared a sweet potato and pomegranate salad from his book.And I fell in love with the combination and scrumptious salad.
   
   Pomelo with peanuts and sesame seeds, black glutinous rice with chantrelle mushrooms, eggplants cooked with curry and other Indian spices but with lemongrass flavour, pancakes with gooseberry and ricotta, fava beans with roasted garlic and ricotta.The combinations are endless. Dining at his restaurant is on my 'bucket list'. Till then will have to prepare some of those enticing dishes myself. 
   
   When you go through most of his recipes, one thing you'll notice is that Ottolenghi uses  fresh ingredients, no opening cans and using ready made sauces. So that's my kinda guy... use fresh whenever possible.Sourcing a lot of the ingredients he uses is not easy in a place like Mombasa. Obviously, I could not identify the recipe to prepare by the photos only. I had to go through quite a few till I came across the Alphonso Mango and Curried Chickpea Salad. Ahhaa, so here's one I can make as I have all the ingredients....well almost. So what if I didn't have the famous Indian Alphonso or the 'so common in the western world' baby spinach. Our Kenyan apple mangoes are without any fibers, sweet and very aromatic. I chopped up a bunch of the normal spinach and voila I had a delicious salad for dinner. We Indians know that there is no spice called curry powder. So added my own masala powder.
  
   Here's the recipe for this delicious, filling and satisfying salad. I halved the original recipe.












MANGO AND CURRIED CHICKPEA SALAD
Serves 4 or 2 as a meal
Recipe Source : Plenty More by Yoram Ottolenghi

½ cup raw chickpeas
200g (2 cups) cauliflower
1 large or 2 small ripe mangoes (Alphonso or any mango without fibers)
1 medium red onion
½ cup chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp lemon juice (original recipe uses lime)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
A handful of  fresh spinach leaves 

Spices:
½ tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
¼ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
¼ tsp turmeric powder ( haldi)
½ tsp curry powder (masala powder)
½ tsp powdered sugar
1-1½ tsp salt
1 green chilli (de seeded and chopped finely) I used a fresh red one


  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in warm water. Next day drain out the water, wash them and put them in a pressure cooker or a pan with enough water and ½ tsp salt. If you are using a pressure cooker, close the cooker with the lid and put it over medium flame. Cook the chickpeas for 3 whistles. If you are using a saucepan, add enough water and put the pan over medium flame and cook till the chickpeas are done.
  2. Drain out the water and keep the chickpeas on the side till required.
  3. Peel and cut the mango into cubes.
  4. Slice the red onion thinly.
  5. Cut the cauliflower into florets.
  6. Heat water in a pan. When it is boiling, add the cauliflower florets and blanch for 1 minute.
  7. Pour the cauliflower with the water into a sieve or colander. Spread out the cauliflower on kitchen towel to dry them.
  8. Roast coriander, mustard and cumin seeds in a wide pan till the mustard seeds begin to pop and you get an aroma of the spices.
  9. Crush the spices in a herb mill or in a mortar with a pestle.
  10. Add sugar, turmeric powder, curry powder to the spice mixture and mix it well.
  11. Heat  1 tbsp oil in the wide pan. Stir fry the onions till they are slightly soft. 
  12. Add the chickpeas, spice mixture and ¼ tsp salt. Mix it well.
  13. Take the mixture out into a bowl and let it cool a bit.
  14. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and add the cauliflower florets.Stir fry the cauliflower for 2-3 minutes. Add ¼ tsp salt and mix well. Add this mixture to the chickpea mixture.
  15. Wash and pat dry the spinach. If you're using normal spinach leaves then cut then into bite size pieces.
  16. Add mango pieces, spinach, chopped chilli and chopped fresh coriander to the chickpea cauliflower mixture.
  17. Drizzle the lemon or lime juice over it. Mix well and serve.
  18. This salad can be served warm or cold.
Tips:
  • The original recipe suggested to cut the cauliflower into 1½" florets but I cut them smaller. 
  • Keep an eye when blanching the cauliflower, you don't want to over cook it.
  • Don't use an over ripe mango. The mango should be ripe but firm.
  • Adjust the amount of spices and chilli according to your taste.
You may want to check out other salad recipes:

Moroccan couscous salad
Sending this recipe for the following event:


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Thursday, 16 February 2017

617.Tangy Creamy Potato Curry

GUEST NO.3 ON THE BLOG

         My 3rd guest on the blog is my middle foi (fupi, paternal aunt) Manjulaben. I was really surprised when her daughter in law Heni said 'mum's going to send a recipe for your blog.' When I heard that I was surprised because I thought the old generation would not really bother to measure the ingredients and do all the writing. Ok she got her daughter in law to write down the recipe as she narrated it to her. After the surprised moment, I was grinning from ear to ear because my foi or Manju aunty as we all call her is such a sport. 

        My memories about her...well when she was living in Mombasa, every school holiday she would come down to Nairobi with my cousins. I remember she had this mustard sweater with black design on it. The moment she would arrive into Nairobi (back then people travelled by train), she would put on her famous sweater. She claimed that she was feeling cold. Whether it was raining or shining she had her sweater on. December holidays is when we would go down to Mombasa. It would be really hot and we would find it difficult to sleep at night. Back then who had heard of air conditioners. She would leave the windows open and ask me to sleep near the window so the cool breeze and the fan breeze would do its trick. Those were the days my friends when people could sleep peacefully with their windows open and there were no grills on them too.

         My aunt is a fantastic cook, I love the sweet parathas that she makes. During our visits to Mombasa, she would make this really tangy chutney everyday to go with our meal. She would grate onions and raw mango finely, add salt, a bit of sugar and red chilli powder. I use to love that chutney and I use to think that she was so clever, making chutney with onions. Back home my mum made the usual dhania, mango, mint chutney. In the afternoons she would allow us to sit on the window ledge in her room and we could watch the world pass by. Its during does trips that I first got introduced to kachri bateta, more famously known as the tin tin or babu kachri. I guess it was called that because an old man would come with his tiny cart ringing his small bell and serve the thick potato stew with potato crisps, mango coconut chutney and thick savory sticks called ganthia. My aunt would order that for all of us, back then it was not served in fancy plates but the good old newspaper. That was a treat we all would wait for, usually as a tea snack and served with cold coke. 

     She was an active member of the Kala Kendra, Patel Samaj when she was living in Mombasa. Any new recipes she would have learnt from the ladies she would prepare it for us during her visit to Nairobi. She loves baking and had won quite a few cooking competitions in Mombasa. She's not afraid to try any new recipes which she comes across in the newspaper or magazines. 
        
        When I went to London 3 years ago to prepare for my son's wedding,I remember she told me 'Don't feel sad because your mum is no longer with us, just call me I will help you just as your mum would have'. Those kind words were enough for me. Always eager to help and energetic (will I be like that at her age?). Manju aunty has lived in London for 30 years now. She loves doing yoga which she does religiously every morning for nearly 45 minutes(I should be ashamed as I can't stick to any exercise routine). She attends yoga classes twice a week, goes there by bus, loves reading and travelling. After her yoga sessions she would come home to spend time with my mum. She's 76 and enjoys life. I'm not surprised that she loves visiting family and friends. We're a huge family and she got married into a huge family. Cooking for large families therefore comes very easily to her.
     
       So her contribution for my blog is a tangy potato curry but before you go down to the recipe, here's what she had to say about me.

      What can I say about Mayuri, I’ve known her since her birth… She is my niece (Brother’s daughter –Bhatiji…) and has always been a very clever and calm girl.
One thing that we always laugh about is Mayuri as a child was very scared of her dad.Whenever her dad wanted to speak to her, he would call her over but as soon as she heard her dad’s voice she would start crying. She would be frightened that her dad will tell her off – her dad would see her crying and would not be able tell her off.
Mayuri and I spent quite a longtime together in Nairobi and later in Mombasa after she got married. From a young age, she always had a passion for cooking always helping her mum and the many aunts in the kitchen.







Tangy Creamy Potato and Peas Curry
Serves 4 people

Ingredients
2 Cups peas (frozen are also ok)
5 Cloves of Garlic (finely Grind/Paste)
1 Medium size Onion (Finely Grind/paste)
3 Tbsp Oil
1 Pinch of Asafoetida
1 Teaspoon Cumin seeds
1/2 Cup freshly Chopped Coriander
1 Cup Double Cream

Marinade
5 Medium size potatoes
2 Cups Yogurt/Curd (Not too Sour)
2 Tablespoon Ginger paste
2 Tablespoon Chilli paste
1 Teaspoon Turmeric powder
2 Tablespoon Coriander Powder
2 Tablespoon Cumin Powder
1/2 Cup freshly Chopped Coriander
2 Tablespoon Jaggery/Gud (might need more if yogurt is sour)

Method

1.      Peel and cut the potatoes in quarters (if you prefer you can cut it smaller) and pierce them repeatedly with a fork to allow the marinade to soak in.
2.      Add all the other marinade ingredients in to potatoes and leave it for 4-5hrs for the potatoes absorb all the flavours.
3.      Heat some oil in a sauce pan and then add the asafoetida and cumin seeds.
4.      Add the onion paste, garlic paste and freshly chopped coriander and let it cook until golden brown in colour.
5.      Add the marinated potatoes in to the sauce pan and let it cook until potatoes are almost cooked (It will take longer for potatoes to cook because of the Yogurt in the marinade).
6.      Add the peas to the sauce pan with the cooked potatoes (if you are using fresh peas then you might need to add them in when the potatoes are half cooked).
7.      Once potatoes and peas are cooked your curry is ready.
8.      Add cream just before you are ready to serve and garnish it with fresh coriander leaves for decoration.


You can eat this curry with Naan, Chappati, Paratha or Rice and it can make nice satisfying meal.

You may want to check out the recipes from my other guests:

baked bread pudding

gluten free pizza crust



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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

616. Kabalagala (Ugandan Pancakes)#BreadBakers

Kabalagala (Ugandan Pancakes)#BreadBakers

So many different types its unbelievable

   I didn't have any theme in mind when I volunteered to host the month of February for the Bread Bakers group.As Christmas got over and the year was ending I knew I had to think of a theme pretty soon. I went back to the rules for participants and there the word pancake kept staring at me. The only pancakes I know are the usual Indian ones like dosas, uttappams, chilas etc and of course the typical fluffy American style ones dripping with melted butter and honey or maple syrup. Did a bit of research (what would we do without Google?) and hey presto the world opened up to me with a variety of pancakes I'd never heard of. So I challenged the members to the theme of pancakes from different parts of the world, to venture out to pancakes they've not made before.
  
   I am so grateful that the members took time to research and have come up with different pancakes. Check the list below and please visit each blog to find out the different names and recipes of the pancakes.
   
   So basically the dictionary describes pancakes as a thin flat cake of batter fried on both sides on a griddle or in a frying pan. However, as I researched, the meaning of pancake widened. Some pancakes are baked, some are fried and some may appear like flat breads but are actually known as pancakes in the region of origin.Some have yeast as leavening agent others have baking agents. Pancakes can be sweet or savory, may contain different types of flours, fruits, vegetables. There's a whole world of pancakes out there. Drop scones, waffles, crumpets, pikelets, oatcakes are classified as pancakes.(However countries of origin may refute that!)
from google
   My contribution towards this theme is a pancake from Uganda. Uganda is a landlocked East African country, neighbouring Kenya on the west side. When one mentions Uganda and the immediately one thinks of the dictator ruler Idi Amin. His rule ruined a country which at one time was known as the Pearl of Africa. Uganda has very fertile farmlands and amazing National Parks.Its exports coffee and other produces. The staple food in Uganda is maizemeal, plantains, peanuts, cassava along with meat. Kenyans love the small bananas or menvu as they are called in Uganda. They are sweet and irresistible.
   
  These pancakes from Uganda are called Kabalagala. They are made from cassava (tapioca) flour, mashed sweet banana or plantains. Gluten free,sugar free they look more like doughnuts but every possible Ugandan blog post, article I read about food from Uganda describes Kabalagala as a pancake.The recipe is very simple and the pancakes were absolutely delicious with a hot cup of coffee. Kabalagala in the Luganda language means pancake made using sweet bananas and cassava flour.The original preparation made by Nubians was called kabalagara. An affluent area in the city of Kampala is named after the pancake. Kabalagala is a famous street food in Uganda, enjoyed with tea as breakfast or served with stew.  It is believed that these pancakes became very famous as a cheap alternative to cakes and bread during the Idi Amin Regime as they were affordable and combination of banana and cassava keeps one's tummy full for a long period of time.











KABALAGALA (UGANDAN PANCAKES)
Recipe source: Here

2 big or 6 small over ripe bananas
2-2¼ cups cassava(tapioca) flour
a generous pinch of salt
¼ tsp soda bicarbonate (baking soda)
¼ tsp pepper powder

oil for deep frying
extra flour for dusting


  1. Peel and mash the bananas.
  2. Sift flour, salt and pepper powder together.
  3. Add flour little by little into the mashed banana and mix with a spatula or a spoon.
  4. Keep on adding the flour till its thick enough to knead.
  5. Dust the worktop with some flour and knead the dough. The dough should not be sticky. I used about 2¼ cups of flour.
  6. Roll it out into a ¼" thick circle. Using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut out round discs. 
  7. Gather up the remaining dough and roll again and cut. Keep on repeating the process till all the dough is used up.
  8. Heat oil in a wok or deep frying pan over medium heat. The oil is ready when a small piece of dough put in the oil rises to the top immediately.
  9. Fry the pancakes till they are golden brown.
  10. Dust some icing sugar if you like before serving.
Tips:
  • I found the sweetness from the ripe bananas was just right. If you have a sweeter tooth, add 1-2 tbsp sugar.
  • Original recipes do not add baking agent. Adding it makes it more chewable.
  • A little bit of pepper and salt balances the sweetness from the bananas.
  • The leftover pancakes next day became more chewy. I would recommend that you eat them the day they are prepared.
  • Before frying the pancakes, brush off the excess flour you've used for dusting.
Check out the Pancakes from different parts of the world that our fellow Bread Bakers have made this month:
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

BreadBakers




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Monday, 13 February 2017

615. Milk Pudding with Jelly

Happy Valentine's Day

   To love someone deeply gives you strength and to be loved deeply by someone gives you courage. 

   This is so true.Its my hubby's love that gives me courage to do want I want. Loving him gives me the strength to overcome any difficulties. My hubby has never been the flowers, chocolates, teddy bear type of person. Yesterday after watching Raees we went for lunch to a famous Italian restaurant. We were sitting next to the very tempting choices of gelato but he didn't ask me if I wanted some as Valentine's Day is around the corner. In all our 34 years of marriage I received only one valentine's card from him and that too when he was away doing his dermatology course. I bet the younger college mates and friends must have advised him to do so. Basically what I'm trying to get across to you all that he is not the romantic type, he's just too practical and serious. So you may ask "Why don't I do something special?" Well, it usually will go unnoticed, or I would be told why go through all the trouble. Take for example the pudding I made for this post. I took some time and patiently cut out heart shapes from the jelly(not easy when the kitchen's really hot!) and placed a heart on the pudding. The pudding was devoured without any mention of the heart bang in the middle! No 'wow' or 'so sweet'!

   Well that doesn't mean he doesn't love me. He has a different way of showing his love and care. I have to look for it and understand it from his every day actions and decisions he takes. It was his suggestion to go and see Raees, not because he loves watching hindi movies( he'd prefer the English action ones) but because he knows that I love watching hindi movies. Choice of an Italian restaurant is not for him but more for me as I love Italian cuisine. Walks on the beach, dipping our feet in the sea, sitting at the quaint little restaurant at Cowrie Shell, taking care of me when I fall sick, ordering food when I don't feel like cooking, carrying my bags when we travel, carrying my shopping bags, giving me the best seat on the plane etc. are his ways of showing his love for me. 

   Our is an arranged marriage and sure we've had our shares of ups and downs. Over the years love has grown to such an extend that it hurts to be apart for a period of time. When I was away in Bangalore preparing for my daughter's wedding, I missed him everyday though we skyped, facetimed and called every day, sometimes twice in a day. 

  So for me love is when I can feel his pain, when I can sense he is thinking deeply, when I know something is bothering him, when I can't bear to see tears in his eyes, when I can rejoice with him and share good times and bad times, I can joke with him, tease him and scold him too. We're are poles apart in many ways but we've both accepted each ones passion and traits and worked around them. If that is not love than what is it?
   
  Love for us doesn't mean roses, chocolates, candle light dinners or gifts. Its the every day little things we do for each other. Sure, I'll prepare his favourite dish on Valentine's Day.

  Today's recipe is a simple milk pudding served with jelly. I had previously tried this pudding using a whole sweetened condensed milk tin with the milk. The pudding turned out just too sweet. So this time I reduced the condensed milk, added sugar according to my taste. This recipe is my contribution for the 79th theme - Valentine theme for #FoodieMonday #Bloghop group. 











MILK PUDDING WITH JELLY
Serves 6-8

For the pudding:
2½ cups fresh milk, preferably full fat milk
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
1-2 tbsp sugar *
½ cup water
2 tbsp agar agar flakes or 2 tsp agar agar powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 packet of red jelly (red currant, cherry,strawberry or raspberry)

  1. Prepare the jelly as instructed on the packet. Set it in a tray. You want the set jelly to be about 1"- 2" in height.
  2. Sprinkle the agar agar flakes or powder over the water in a small pan and mix.Let it rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix milk, condensed milk and sugar in a deep pan.
  4. Put the pan with milk over medium heat till it begins to boil. Stir the milk frequently.
  5. Put the hot milk pan on the side. 
  6. Heat the agar agar mixture over low heat. Stir is constantly till the agar agar dissolves completely.
  7. Add the agar agar mixture to the hot milk.
  8. Add vanilla extract. Mix well.
  9. Pour the milk into serving bowls or glasses.
  10. Put it the fridge for 3-4 hours till it sets.
  11. Cut heart shaped jelly with a cookie cutter.
  12. Decorate the pudding with the heart shaped jelly.
  13. Alternatively you can add chopped jelly to the serving bowls or glasses.
  14. Pour the milk mixture over it.
  15. Put it in the fridge for 3-4 hours to set.
  16. Serve.
Tips:
  • * If you are going to set it with the jelly than you may not want to add the sugar as the jelly is sweet.
  • Use any coloured jelly of your choice to make this cool milk pudding. Try a rose milk flavoured one.I find its an easy pudding to make and a treat during the hot season.
  • Use gelatin instead of agar agar if you like. 
  • Serve it with chopped fresh fruit instead of jelly.
You may want to check out the following Valentine's Day Recipes:
Chocolate date Mousse
Ravioli Dolci with Strawberry sauce
Plum hand pies
Sending this recipe for the following event:

Blog Hop
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Thursday, 9 February 2017

614.Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Guest No. 2 on the blog

    
   My second guest on the blog is my dear kaki (chachi) Charulata. Always there for me, my helper, my adviser and my sympathizer. She probably has heard a million woes from me and never has she once said "oh no Mayuri not again." She started a fashion designing course which she had to leave half way. However her love affair with fabrics didn't end there. While I run a mile(or rather miles) away from a sewing machine and needles, she developed a passion for stitching since she was 8! At that age I probably was helping my mum peel carrots and potatoes and reading books.My kaki is an ace quilter. She creates magic with patches. I've watched her work with tiny squares, rectangles, circles and all sorts of shaped fabrics to magically create a masterpiece. I truly admire her creative talent. As kaki always says 'I just love cutting it up and stitching it back together!'



   
  She's used her talent with fabric and design to help my cousin create ethical jewellery which they both run as Savannah Chic.That's not her only passion. She loves reading, not so much fiction books but books on philosophy and Epics retold. I think her choice of mysteries and other fiction would be the ones written in Gujarati.

  She's a fantastic cook and I've learnt how to bake and make different salads from her.She has taught me not to be afraid to try out any new dish. She can whip up dishes in a jiffy and I must say she kept dishing out food from my kitchen from breakfast to dinner during Nami's wedding. She's what I like to call her 'our travelling pantry.' She goes to London to visit family and she'll have taken some food item for the whole family and rest assured its not a small family. That will include not only her side of the family and her immediate family but all my cousins and aunts and basically half of Edgware and Harrow! When she came to Bangalore for the wedding, her suitcase was like a treasure trove. I just sat there in awe at all that she had brought from Nairobi and London.
  
  When I asked my family to be guests on my blog, my kaki immediately complied. She excitedly told me about the gluten free pizza crust that she bakes. So over to her. Thank you kaki for taking the time from your hectic schedule to measure the ingredients (I know you hate doing that!) and for the photos of your preparation.

Reminiscing about Mayuri and myself: the kitchen was our preferred rendezvous. What is permanently etched in my memory is the Saturday afternoon some forty years back when we decided to make Pizza for nine people armed with Tarla Dalal's first recipe book. We started with rice flour ...and what ensued is not a matter of discussion here (!). These sort of disasters brought Mayuri and myself closer. Oh and by the way, Mayuri is my niece through marriage and a good seven years younger to me. It is her mum from whom I learnt my basic cooking skills. Today, my daughters think highly of my cooking but prefer to follow Mayuri's Jikoni. And why not? I too call upon her now and then for cooking tips. Though Mayuri and myself started cooking almost at the same time she took it many many notches up and has become a fine chef. Our family is proud of her. If I were to describe Mayuri in one sentence it will be something like: 'she thinks, speaks, and acts the same' and this, in my opinion, is a beautiful and rare quality.




GLUTEN FREE PIZZA CRUST
Makes 1

½ cup farali (farari) flour *
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp instant dried active yeast
a generous pinch of salt
¼ cup warm milk ( the amount required will depend on the type of flour)

extra oil for greasing
extra flour for dusting
  1. Put the flour with salt and yeast in a bowl. Mix it.
  2. Add oil and rub it into the flour.
  3. Using little milk at a time form a dough. It should not be too hard or too soft.
  4. Knead into a smooth dough. Shape it into a ball.
  5. Grease the bowl with little oil. Rub a bit of oil over the dough.
  6. Put the dough into the greased bowl and cover it.
  7. Let it rise till its double the size. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  9. Using extra flour, roll the dough out into a 8-9" circle about ¼" thick.
  10. Put the base on a greased baking tray.Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  11. Bake it for 5-7 minutes.
  12. Take it out of the oven and after it cools a bit cover it up with a muslin cloth till required.
  13. To prepare the pizza, put your own choice of toppings and bake for 5-8 minutes or till the edges of the crust turn light golden colour and the cheese has melted.
Tips:
  • Ready made farali or farari flour is available in most Indian stores. 
  • Farali flour is usually a mixture of amaranth(rajgira), little millet (samai), tapioca pearls(sabudana), water chestnut (singara) and sometimes buckwheat flour and is gluten free.
You may want to check out the following:

Guest No.1- Baked Bread Pudding
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Monday, 6 February 2017

613. Litti Chokha

Venturing out to try something different

   Yes, its Monday (so soon) and can you believe it we are into the 6th week of the 2017. Time flies. For our 78th theme on #FoodieMonday #Bloghop we decided to go regional with #RegionalCuisine. As soon as the theme was decided I knew I wanted to try out a cuisine that I've never done before. So it had to be the Eastern part of India. I guess having made baked yogurt and rasmalai doesn't really count. I decided on Litti Chokha from the state of Bihar. Well, some say that its also from Uttar Pradesh. What made me choose Litti Chokha? Two reasons, one being that my son in law is from that state, well now Jharkand which was a part of Bihar once upon a time and my neighbour Priya as she comes from UP and makes litti chokha. 
    
   What is Litti Chokha? Well, its a traditional snack from the state of Bihar. The litti is made from wheat and stuffed with a filling (pitthi) and roasted over coal, cow dung or wood fire. Its usually served with roasted mashed vegetables called chokha or bharta. The chokha  can be made from a mixture of potatoes, brinjal and tomatoes or you can make it with only brinjals or only potatoes. I made it with a mixture of both. Litti Chokha is usually served for breakfast or as a snack. It can be made into a meal by serving it with some yogurt and pickles. 

   The filling is quite different too. Sattu is used as the filling. What is sattu? Sattu is a flour made from roasted bengal grams or chickpeas. It is different from the usual besan or chickpea flour. The chickpeas are roasted in salt or sand in a large wok till they begin to crackle.Various spices are added to the sattu or roasted chickpea flour and then filled into the wheat dough. Modern times we don't have coal, cow dung or wood for stoves or sigris so nowadays the litti is baked in the oven and some even fry them. Most Eastern states of India sell ready made sattu in the stores but I had to grind mine at home.The only roasted chana or chickpeas I got here are the ones with the skin. So I had to spend some time removing the skin. I know some people make the sattu with the roasted skin, but I decided not to. Sattu is very healthy. Its rich in protein and minerals. Easy to digest and is usually given to toddlers, pregnant women and old people to provide energy. Sattu is added to a cool drink during summer, in puris and parathas, upma and even other cereals.

roasting chana in salt (picture from Google)

  
   What other delicious goodies is Bihar well known for? I'm truly amazed at the variety actually. Some of the things I've eaten, I had no idea that they are from Bihar. Some of the popular dishes besides litti chokha are Thekua (khajuria), Chandrakala, khaja, khurma(sakapara) which are shaped differently from the normal diamond shaped we know of, kadhi badi, dal puri, sattu paratha, parwal ki mithai, laktho, dal pitha, chana gugni, kala jamun, rasia to name a few. It also has some famous non vegetarian dishes like Bihari Kebab, Bihari Chicken Masala, Bihari Boti etc. I'll be definitely be exploring more about some of these dishes and trying them out in my kitchen. 
  
    So without much delay, lets go to the recipe of making litti chokha. What adds that unique and special taste to the litti chokha besides the spices? Raw mustard oil (with my nose screwed up!). My neighbour insisted that I had to add that. I had to ask her for some as I don't have mustard oil in my kitchen and I don't like using it because of the really strong smell and taste. However, Now I really don't mind! Hubby loved the new dish and I must thank my neighbour Priya for her valuable guidance.











LITTI CHOKHA
Makes 12 littis
Recipe source: Rachna's Kitchen

For the litti dough:
2 cups wheat flour (atta)
2 tbsp ghee
½ tsp ajwain (carom seeds, ajmo)
2 tbsp yogurt
¼ tsp soda bicarbonate (baking soda)
½ - ¾ tsp salt
⅓ - ½ cup warm water

For the pitthi or filling:
1 cup sattu flour (roasted chickpea flour)
1 tsp ginger
1-2 finely chopped green chillis
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp fennel seeds ( valiyari, saunf)
½ tsp ajwain (ajmo, carom seeds)
½ tsp kalonji (nigella seeds)
1 tsp garlic paste
½ cup finely chopped fresh coriander (dhania)
½ - ¾ tsp salt
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp mustard oil
1-2 tsp pickle masala
¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)

For chokha(bharta):
1 big eggplant (aubergine, baigan)
3 medium tomatoes
2 medium potatoes
4-6 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ginger paste
1-2 finely chopped green chillis
¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander
2 medium onions finely chopped
1-1½ tsp salt
1 tsp mustard oil

Preparation of the litti dough:

  1. Sift wheat flour, salt and soda bicarbonate into a big bowl.
  2. Add ajwain and ghee. Rub the ghee into the flour.
  3. Add yogurt and warm water and form a dough.
  4. Knead it into a smooth dough. The dough should not be hard or too soft.
  5. Rub a bit of oil or ghee over it. Cover the dough with a lid or cling film and let it rest till the filling is ready.
Preparation of the chokha:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cut the stalk off the brinjal and cut it into half.
  3. Rub some oil on top and the cut part and put it on a baking tray.
  4. Put the tray in the oven and let the brinjal bake for 30 minutes or till done.
  5. Cut the tomatoes into half. Peel the garlic.
  6. When the brinjals have been cooked for 20 minutes add the tomatoes and garlic to the baking tray.
  7. In the meantime boil the potatoes.
  8. Remove the baking tray from the oven.
  9. Peel the skin from the brinjal and the tomatoes.
  10. Put them in a big bowl. Add the roasted garlic to it.
  11. Peel the boiled potatoes and add to the brinjal mixture.
  12. Mash the brinjal, tomato and potato mxiture till its a bit coarse.
  13. Add chopped salt, mustard oil,chillis, ginger, chopped coriander and finely chopped onions.
  14. Mix well and keep it on the side till required.
Preparation of the stuffing(pitthi):
  1. Put the roasted sattu in a bowl.
  2. Lightly roast fennel and cumin seeds. Crush it lightly with a pestle. 
  3. Add it to the sattu.
  4. Lightly crush the ajwain and add to the sattu.
  5. Add chopped chillis, ginger, garlic, kalonji, turmeric powder, chopped coriander, mustard oil,salt, lemon juice and pickle masala.
  6. Mix everything up nicely. If the filling is dry add about 2-3 tbsp water. It shouldn't be too dry or too wet.
Preparation of litti:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
  3. Take one part of the dough and using your fingers shape it into a cup or small bowl.
  4. Add 1½ tbsp of the pitthi or stuffing into the cup.
  5. Gather up the edges of the dough to close the cup.
  6. Pinch the seams well.
  7. Roll gently into a round ball.
  8. Rub some oil or ghee over the ball and place it on a lightly greased baking tray.
  9. Repeat steps 3-8 with the remaining dough and filling.
  10. Bake the litti for 30-40 minutes until its golden brown and not soft.
  11. Turn the littis thrice during the baking process.
  12. Remove the littis from the oven.
Finale:
  1. Split the litti into half with your hand. 
  2. Pour some melted ghee over it.
  3. Serve with some chokha.
Tips:
  • Adjust the salt and chillis according to your taste.
  • Pickle masala means any red chilli pickle you have at home, you use the masala or spicy mixture. I didn't have any nice pickle at so I added the dry ready made pickle masala.
  • Enjoy the littis the next day with hot masala tea.
  • Litti can be fried if you don't want to bake them.
You may want to check out the following regional dishes:

baked Punjabi samosas - Punjab
Idli Sambhar - South India
Chum chum - Bengal
poha - Maharashtra

Amiri Khaman - Gujarat




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