Stuffed Chillies.

I have had mind-boggling two weeks which along with the weather hasn’t helped my disposition at all.

Really groggy weather in my neck of the woods right now. It is not raining but it seems likes it would rain any minute now and its been like that for the past three days without a drop of rain. The greenery seems to be going brown without going through the customary color change and that is just sad. For fall is not fall until the colors come in. Three weeks into september and I am already missing summer. The weird weather is to blame. There is slight chill in the air. Not much but enough to send the kids into the customary change of season cold. I am already dreading the winter this season.

The weather, though, has had me craving for deep-fried stuff all week. I am resolutely ignoring it. Thinking ahead, I am saving myself for Diwali, you see. Maybe if I abstain for the next month, I can gorge away the diwali goodies guilt-free. One can always hope. Sedentary lifestyles make you plan ahead for these things. But I digress. I was talking about the last two weeks.

Early on, as soon as I posted about the sweet appe, my blender died on me. Serves me right for cribbing about it in the last two posts. I had a good GE model with a coffee grinder attachment which had served me well the past 4 years. With the kind of use I have made of it, I am surprised it took so long for it to give up on me. But, the whole thing was disappointing. I always thought that the day it dies on me would be the day I have a dozen people for dinner. There I would be trying to grind up a heavenly curry paste and it would blast out, make horrible sounds, keep sputtering and the red light that signifies the machine is on would fade away slowly, kind of like the eye of the terminator at the end of each movie. And that I would see my dream of an Indianised Martha Stewartesque meal fading away with that light. O, the horror! O, the pain! If nothing so melodramatic, I thought that it would at least do me the favor of dying a spectacular death with the top flying away and the stuff that I was trying to grind hitting the roof and coming down in a shower. You know, a shower of strawberry smoothie early in the morning would be a spectacular way to start a day, wouldn’t it? But alas, no such luck. It just sputtered and ground itself to halt, never to make a peep again. Why? Because.

So anyway, I am having the biggest internal debate. I have decided to take this oppurtunity to invest in either an Indian mixer/grinder or the wet grinder. I can’t decide between the two. So I have decided to make it a democratic decision. I invite my readers to please vote for either so that I can finally decide. Yes, the word decide is on my mind too much these days. The Libran moon is up, my friends.

While you guys are voting on that, you could also comment on how one should deal with a 3 year old when you trying to talk to him about a certain not-good-boy thing he did and he replies,

“I don’t want to talk about it”.

To say, I was flabbergasted would be putting it mildly. I was completely dumb-founded and had no idea how to proceed. I stood there mute, actually feeling the sting of the ‘chaata‘ I would have got from my parents in such scenarios. They same ‘chaata‘ that they never got a chance to dispense, btw. He hasn’t repeated the action, but I would still like to be more prepared for statements like that one in case they make an appearance again. I still haven’t thought of a good retort. Yep, amazing two weeks I have had.

I decided to stuff my misery, my undecisiveness and my complete lack of ability to overcome a 3 year old among other stuff into some Anahiem Peppers and have a good dinner, instead. This decision was the easy part.

Stuffed Chillies

Recipe:

1)

Prep the chillies. Make a small horizontal cut,parallel to the stem about 1 cm below it. Make a vertical slit perpendicular to the first slit to the tip of the pepper. OPen up the pepper gently and remove all the seeds inside. I don’t remove the ribs. Sprinkle some salt on the peppers and keep it aside while you prepare the stuffing. The salting is an optional step. I do it because it softens the peppers just enough to allow it to cook quicker.

2) For the Stuffing. Mix

1/2 cup Besan/Chickpea Flour
1/4 cup Fresh Coconut gratings
1/4 cup Peanut powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder/Dhaniya
1/4 tsp Turmeric/Haldi
1 tsp Peanut Oil
a pinch Asafetida/Hing
Salt to taste
Juice from One lemon

together to almost form a dough. This stuffing is enough for 6 medium length peppers.

3) Gently stuff the dough into the chillies.

4) In a 8′ pan, heat a tsp of oil and spread it all over the pan’s surface . Add

a pinch of hing

Place the peppers on pan so that they are not overlapping. Immediately lower the flame, cover and cook for about ten minutes on each side. The time taken to cook would depend upon the amount of stuffing in your chillies. The steam and juices from the pepper should go through the stuffing right to its center. Make a cut on one of the chillies to make sure it has cooked all the way through. There is nothing good about uncooked besan. Enjoy.

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Naivedya: Sweet Appe

Nothing shouts coastal cuisine than an abundance of coconut in it. Other than seafood, that is. But we are still in the festive mood and so lets just stick to the coconut part. If I had any doubts regarding the role coconut plays in our life, they are crushed to smitterens every time I ask my mom for a traditional recipe. And it was replayed again when I asked for the recipe of Goud(Sweet) Appe (dumplings?). These appe are the traditional naivedyam offered to Ganpati during the Chavathi festival. They are made of, among other things, coconut and jaggery which seems to be a recurring theme in all the forms of prasad that is offered to this diety. Of course, growing up they were not my favorite things but as is the case with things, once they were no longer present I missed them. I asked my mom for the recipe so that I could recreate it this year. Now we are all familiar with the way moms tend to dispense recipe nuggets. However, with traditional recipes like these which are made once a year, my mom has exact proportions for all the ingredients except they are in coastal cuisine lingo.

Do you all remember basic geometry theorems? You have one-line theorems that you have to prove using other one-line theorems that could be proved using the current theorem you are trying to prove? You do? Good. Because deciphering the recipe is almost the same. Of course, there are some basic assumptions.

First, the ingredient list.

“Ekka Narla-ka, ek Kilo Goud aNi ek Kilo Rawa”

Translation:

For one coconut, one kilo jaggery and one kilo rawa.

Assumptions:

1) One coconut = gratings of one coconut.
2) Size of said Coconut = medium.
3) Any konkani worth his/her salt would know what a medium coconut is. (Have I not taught you anything, O clueless child of mine?)

Procedure Part 1.

Narla Vatooche, goud ghalnu melNu yevve tai vatooche. Kadeke rawa ghalnu ek pati ghundache

Translation:

Grind coconut, add jaggery and grind till everything is mixed. Finally add rawa and blend once to mix.

Assumptions:

1) 1 kilo Jaggery = 1 kilo jaggery grated.
2) Cardamom not mentioned is cardamom included.
3) Grind coconut = grind coconut till just enough.
4) Any konkani worth his/her salt would know how much is just enough. (Have I not taught you anything, O clueless child of mine?)

Procedure Part 2.

Don ghante puNi bareen kaNu dAvarche. Maagiri hoguru Ujjari toLNu kadche.

Translation:

Keep aside for at least two hours and deep-fry on a low flame.

Assumptions:

1) Deepfrying Fat = Ghee.

The last one is the best because she manages to give the most important tips for the recipe in one sentence. One, to let the mixture rest and two, to deep fry on a slow flame. How do you know when it is cooked? Any Cook worth his/her ……

—-Sorry Mom—–

Goud Appe

The biggest challenge after deciphering the recipe was to convert it into cup measures. Even though I have access to a coconut, the necessary implements for grating it and the enthu to grate it, the output from those proportions would still take us weeks to finish off. The second problem was the deepfrying the mixture. There is essentially no binder ingredient (like flour) in this mixture and it depends on the rawa absorbing all the liquid from the coconut and jaggery to help keep it together. The resting period goes a long way in achieving that. I have cribbed about my bender before and I do it again. In my kitchen, it is doing a job it is not engineered to do. Extra liquids go a long way in achieving this. More liquids means more trouble for the mixture to bind together. So, I decided to forgo the deepfrying to actually making them like appe. Which means access an Aebleskiver pan or the japanese takoyaki pan or the appam pan is essential.

Recipe :

Grind in a blender/ mixie, till the gratings seem like an homogenous mixture and not separate grains

2 cups Coconut gratings

using water, only as required. Once done, add

2 1/2 cups of jaggery, grated

and blend till the jaggery disintegrates. Add

1/2 tsp Cardamom/Elaichi powder, fresh always good.
1 cup Rawa/Sooji

and blend once just to mix everything together. Remove to a bowl and set aside to rest for at least 2 hours. I kept it for 4 hours.

Heat the appam pan. Lower flame to medium-low. Pour

1 tsp melted ghee, in each depression

When the ghee heats up, add

2 tbsp of the mixture, in each depression

This needs to be done very gently, be careful of the splattering ghee. Cook uncovered till the mixture on top changes color. Gently turn the appe over. You might have to slightly scrape the sides of each depression to do that. I use a small knife for the scraping and a spoon to turn it over. Cook until the other side browns up. Remove and drain on paper towels.

This recipe yields 32 appe. This post also joins the Festive cooking series: Ganesh Chaturthi at The Yum Blog.

Keeping the dread at bay with Carrot Soup.

Finally, the dreaded february is gone. I was hoping against hope that it would take the dreaded cold and the dreaded parasites with it. It dreadfully didn’t, leaving the whole family to deal with the dreaded flu season for the adults and dreadful strep throats and ear infections for the kids.
With two clingy kids, a loss of apetite – the kind I have never experienced before and looming deadlines in front of us, me and the hubby were dreadfully tried like we have never been tried before. Oh, yes! It has been a dreadful kind of month for us.

Which means, it’s been a soup kind of month for us. Anything and everything got pulped, pureed, pulversied and slow-cooked into a heavenly flavored liquid which can cure all that ails the human body. And, boy it did. Thick, hot, filling broth that took out the parasites one healing spoonful at a time, giving us much needed nutrition during a period of acute appetite loss, comforting us with its soothing vapors and enveloping us in its warmth much like our mom’s pallu. The pallu we wanted to burrow into and the kids were trying hard to find in me (Sorry Dears, the apron will have to do). :)

Only two good things came out of this. One, the disappearance of the permanently-3-months-pregnant look I sported and second the recipe of the day, Carrot Soup.

The Carrot Soup became one of our mainstays during this period. And not just because s o m e o n e decided to buy carrots at Costco.

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Recipe

Melt

1 tablespoons unsalted butter

in a pressure cooker over medium heat. Add

1 bay leaf,
1/2 medium onion, chopped

and fry till soft. Add in

5 medium carrots chopped into bite size pieces
1 tbsp ginger, chopped finely

cook for 2 minutes, till coated with the butter. Add

3 cups water,
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

Bring to a boil over high heat. Put on the Pressure cooker lid and let it whistle 3 times. Take off the heat and let it cool. When cooled, open the pressure cooker, puree the mixture in a blender till smooth. If you have one of those stick blenders, more power to you. Pour the soup back into the cooker and stir in

1/4 cup milk,
1 tbsp sugar,
Salt to taste

Reheat over medium heat until piping hot. Serve immediately.

Armed with a bowl of piping hot goodness, I go on to play this meme that I was tagged with eons ago, but couldn’t get to. So here goes, the 5 things you don’t know about me and for all I know, you don’t want to know about me. You are going to, anyway.

1. I hate Dill . There are no two-ways about it, no grey areas. Nope, just do not like it. Whether it is the smell or the taste or the way it looks. Hey, look someone decided to chop up some of their hair for dinner today.Thin little strands going through my food completely grosses me out.

2. I grew up, a very picky eater. Made my mom’s life hell with all the likes and dislikes. { I am so sorry. mom. But don’t you worry, Aayush is making sure I pay for it.}. A trip to the west with half of the things, I did like growing up, not available, I have out grown that.

3. I love the Austin Power movies. Don’t you hate me for this. But, I just love the idiotic behaviour and a little bit of psycho-analysis on myself tells me I am probably an idiot , too.

4. I am a voracious reader. I have 400 blogs on my google reader list and at any moment of time, at least 4 books just for myself from the library. I can read anything. Give me a printed(typed) word and I will read it.

5. I am the typical libra woman. Read Linda Goodman and you would know more about me than you want to know :)

That’s it. With all my secrets poured out, a bowl of soup poured in, I leave you with this Tamatar Story. Bhagwaan ji, aapki creativity ki to daat deni padegi. The various ways you make sure we remember you. Kabhi doodh pi kar, kabhi tamatar ka roop dharan karke!! Jai ho, Jai ho!!

Shorvedar Sabzi..Mixed veggies.

I picked this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking. It is very rare that I try out a recipe without tweaking it, But this one sounded good just as it was and it has remained so after several tries. Of  course, I vary on the veggies, that I choose to make this dish with, every time. But, the gravy remains the same. Today, I made it with the same veggies that Madhur presented in her book. Make it watery enough to eat with rice or thicken it enough to go with rotis. Its very versatile and can go from being an impressive side dish in an elaborate dinner to the main dish in your everyday meal. The best part, no bhunoing involved.

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Chop

1 Medium Sized potato into cubes

1/4 Medium Sized Cauliflower into bite-sized florets

1 Carrot into 0.5 cm thick rounds

Take

3 tbsp Vegetable/Corn/Peanut Oil

in a Kadhai/Pan. Fry Potatoes first and then the cauliflower till golden brown. You can skip this step and directly cook them with the gravy.

In the remaining oil, add

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

When they start sputtering, add

1/2 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds

1/4 tsp Fennel Seeds

1/4 tsp Kalongi/Nigella seeds

Stir for a minute. Add

1tsp Red Chilli Powder

1tsp Coriander/Dhania Powder

1/4 tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder

1tsp Jeera/Cumin Powder

Stir and immediately add

2 tbsp Tomato paste

1 medium sized Tomato, chopped

1/4 cup Peas, fresh or frozen

Chopped Carrots

Salt and Pepper to taste

Stir, Cover and cook till the tomatoes blend together with the paste to form a gravy and the veggies cook. About 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes and the cauliflower. Stir together and cook for another minute. Remove from flame. Serve with rotis.

Stuffed Tomatoes in Makhani Gravy

Stuffed Tomato in a Makhani Gravy

I love making this dish for entertaining because it seems very exotic for such a simple recipe.I am breaking down the ingredients as per the steps of the recipe for simplicity’s sake. Otherwise, just the list of ingredients seem so daunting that you are discouraged from trying it. I hope I am successful in presenting the recipe as simply as it is to make.

For the stuffing, mix the following in a bowl. Add or Remove to taste. I mean, the sky’s the limit. Since I planned to serve these in a gravy, I went for simple flavors.

1 Medium sized potato, mashed

2 tbsps paneer/Firm Tofu, mashed

2 tbsps Bread Crumbs, toasted

2 Green Chillies , Finely chopped

Salt, Pepper to taste

Prep 4 firm Tomatoes by dipping them in boiling water for a minute. Remove and peel. The peel just slides off. Cut open the tops and scoop out the insides. A melon baller works great here. Completely fill the cavity with the above stuffing. Again, I did this because I planned to serve them as a main course with gravy. If I wanted to serve them as starter, I would halve them, remove the seeds and bake them in the oven with the stuffing.

Stuffed Tomatoes1

Makhani Gravy…

Pressure cook the following to 1 whistle or boil in water till soft. Blend into a paste.

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

4-5 almonds, soaked and peeled

1 clove Garlic

1 green chilli

Heat

1 tbsp of butter

in a skillet. When melted, add the following

Tomato+almond paste

1 tsp Ginger paste

1 tsp Red Chilli Powder

1 tsp Coriander/Dhania Powder

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

1 Bay leaf

Salt, Sugar, Pepper to taste.

Cook for a minute, stirring constantly and add

1 cup water

2 tbsp heavy Cream

Stuffed Tomatoes

Cover and cook for 3 mins. Finish with

Fresh Chopped coriander.