Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stuffed Bell peppers with French bread

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First let me apologize for being MIA for this while. I was busy being a supermom to my superbaby!! No one tells you before or can tell you before how crazy and crazier your life would be everyday after the baby. When she was born I said to myself Gosh! the crazy part is over.. Little did I know that it had just begun. So now that she's almost 9 months old and can crawl, climb and scream like no man's business there's nothing that can stop her. My mom says that I'm lucky I have an easy one and I should be happy she doesn't do what I did to her.. I wonder what a monster I must be!

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Anyways! I was just trying to tell you what kept me away from the kitchen for the past few days. So today when daddy was working from home I thought of treating myself with something simple yet fancy. I peeked into the refrigerator and found some bell peppers ready to die so I rescued them and made these Stuffed Bell peppers and served them with some grilled french breads with a fancy spread on it.

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Stuffed bell peppers or bharva shimla mirch as we say them in hindi is something that can be made in different ways. With different kind of fillings or with or without gravy. I made it how I usually make with minimum ingredients and grated cheese on top and then baked them in the oven. So thought of sharing my take on Stuffed Bell Peppers.

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Ingredients:

2 medium sized bell peppers
2 medium sized potatoes
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese 
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tbsp amchur (dried mango powder)
1 tsp fennel seeds
1tsp red pepper flakes
Salt

Method:

Take a pot of water and bring it to boil then turn off the heat. Take your bell peppers which have been cut from the middle into halves, have been cleaned from inside and put them in the pot of hot water and cover with the lid. Let it stay for almost 5 minutes not any longer. Take them out and let them dry. This process helps speed the cooking process while baking.
Now boil the potatoes. Peel and mash them. Add all the dry ingredients into it and mix them altogether.
Preheat the oven to 375 deg. F.
Stuff the bell peppers with the potato filling and sprinkle grated cheese on top. Place them on an oiled baking pan and put it in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
When the baking is done the bell pepper should still have a bite to it.
I served them alongwith some grilled french bread with a sour mayo and herb spread on top.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chole Masala - Chickpea curry

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Some friends were coming over for dinner tonight and as always I was super confused about what I should make. When I invite someone over I have to plan everything before hand else I start freaking out. So I was confused for days over the menu and then a lovely lady from one of the communities that I've joined wrote to me and asked if I can share the recipe of Chole Masala with her. I said sure!

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And then and there the menu was planned. Chole with paranthas, Boondi ka raita, Gobhi ki sabji and Chach for drinks. Thanks to you a lovely lady from the community the dinner party rocked! So sharing the recipe for Chole here.
Although it looks very difficult but is one of the easiest dishes and perfect for parties and events where you want to make something in a larger quantity. You just need to work for the masala (spice mix)  and mix it with as much chole (chickpeas) as you want and voila!

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A little something about it: Chole Masala is mainly a North Indian dish which comes from the state of Punjab. Its a street food sold by vendors along with bhature which is a deep fried bread made with a fermented dough. Its commonly eaten as a breakfast dish and is generally accompanied with Lassi ( a sweet yogurt based drink ).


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Everyone tries to give there own touch to the recipes in different ways so you can find people making Chole Masala in many ways but here I'm trying to share the traditional way to make Chole Masala which has just the chickpeas and curry in it.

Ingredients:

1 cup chickpeas ( I'm using dry seeds but if you want to make it faster you can use canned chickpeas as well) 
1/2 cup red onion coarsly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger
1/2 cup tomato puree  
2 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 thai green chili or 1 tsp red pepper powder
1 tbsp good curry powder 
1 tbsp ready to use Chola Masala  powder (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt

Method:

Wash and soak chickpeas in water overnight or for at least 8 hours. Then cook it in a pressure cooker adding 1/2 a tsp of salt and water four times the quantity of dry chickpeas. If you are using canned chickpeas drain off all the extra liquid and rinse it in cold water thoroughly before using.
Now some people also add potatoes in there Chole Masala. I don't usually do that but if you want feel free to do so.
Heat oil in a thick bottom pan. Blend your onion, garlic and ginger in a blender to make a thick paste and add throw it in the pan. Add salt. Turn the heat to medium low. Fry the mixture till it starts changing color and turns light golden in color. Then add turmeric, coriander, pepper and curry powder (if you are adding potato to your curry do it now). Stir for a couple minutes and then add the tomato puree. Fry it for 5 more minutes on medium heat (if you are adding potato it would take a little longer for the potato to cook so turn the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid for the all the juices to get inside the potato)
That is it! Your masala is ready. Mix it all together with the boiled chickpeas and add a tablespoon of ready to use chole masala if you want.
This dish is usually served with a little tamarind chutney on top of it along with poori or bhatura.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Besan ka halwa..Mom's recipe for Mother's Day.

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First of all let me just give a nice pat on the back of all the mothers and mothers to be out there! The world would never be the same without you. Now being a mother myself I know what a difficult yet satisfying job it is to make a 'human being' and the credit has to go to our babies who bring out the superwoman in us. Today is the day to celebrate our awesomeness, so a Very Happy Mother's Day to all of us!

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This being my first Mother's Day today I wanted to do something special with my daughter. I wanted to make something that my 8 month old could eat. I also had fond memories of my mom cooking for me. So I put those two thoughts together and decided to make ...
Besan ka halwa!

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With my mom it was never about fancy food or use of those rare or exclusive ingredients. She would use all the basic ingredients that you can find in the pantry anyday of the week and make something special out of it. Besan ka halwa was one of those things. I made a few modifications to my mom's original recipe so that my 8 month old could enjoy it with mommy but here I'm sharing the recipe just as my mom would have made.

Ingredients:

1 cup besan (gram flour)
1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup nuts for garnish (here I used almond, pistachios and cashews)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder 
1 cup water

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Heat ghee in a thick bottom pan I used karahi which is an Indian wok. Add besan to it and fry it until it starts changing color. When besan has turned light golden brown in color then you know its time to add water. Add water slowly and keep stirring the besan thoroughly so that it doesn't form lumps. Now add sugar and cardamom powder and blend it all together and stir until the water is fully absorbed.
Garnish it with the nuts. Serve hot.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Roti.. An Indian staple.

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Indian food is never complete without the wonderful breads that accompany them .Some of the breads that people all around the world can easily guess as Indian are Naan, Parantha, Dosa, Tandoori roti and so on but something that is a staple in a majority of Indian homes in some form of the other is simple roti or chapatti or phulka.
 I was thinking that if I'm not talking about something so basic as roti which is made in our homes almost everyday and without which our meal can not be complete then I'm definitely missing something. So today its nothing fancy, I'm here to share how we make that simple flat-bread called roti at home.

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A little something about it: Breads from India are very different from traditional the western bread loaf. Its basically a flatbread which looks a lot like tortilla. There are a millions of ways to make Indian flatbread and it mostly varies from region to region. Soil in the southern part of India is very good for rice crops so breads from that part are mostly made of rice flour and northern part is fertile for wheat & gram cultivation so wheat flour is what is mostly consumed in the region.

Things Required:

3 cups flour
water
a rolling pin
a little flour for dusting
tava or flat bottom skillet

Now  the basic ingredients for the dough is same as that to make any dough in the world: flour & water that's it. Usually wheat flour is used in India which if you don't find anywhere then will definitely get in an Indian store but in case you don't have wheat flour handy you can use 3 parts all purpose flour mixed with 1 part of whole wheat bread flour.

Start by adding water into the flour little by little and mix it with the flour using the other hand. Trick is to slowly add water so that you have an idea of how the flour is absorbing water.

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My mom says that if u add a little bit of milk in the dough while kneading it. that makes the rotis even softer.

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Whwn you feel that the dough is formed and you can hold it all together, transfer it to the counter or a flat dish and knead for about 4-5 mins. You know the dough is ready when there's no excess moisture in it and its all absorbed by the flour. Now wrap the dough in a plastic wrap or a thin and wet kitchen towel and let it rest for about 5-10 mins. This would help it get even softer.

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Then take the dough out on the kitchen counter and if you want you can knead it once again for just a few seconds just to make it smooth. I do it but its not necessary.

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Now cut small pieces of dough into as many rotis as you want and make ball out of them. Dust the counter and start working on one ball at a time. Using a rolling pin try to flatten the balls into flat round shapes. It take a lot of practice to make that perfect round rotis so don't try to sweat on the shape just flatten the dough and use a round lid or something and cut it into round shapes. Only the trick is to dust the dough balls atleast 2-3 times while rolling or the dough can stick to the rolling pin.

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Preheat a tava ( use a simple pan or skillet if you don't have a tava). Put a roti on the pan and cook for 15-20 secs or untill you see small bubbles on the surface and then flip it. repeat the same on this side and then transfer it to the other burner with a rack similar to a cooling rack. Roti will puff up in a few seconds and then you have to flip it again for the other side to get cooked as well. Remove from the heat and keep it wrapped in a piece of foil lined with paper towel.

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Your roti is ready to be served. Just add a dollop of ghee ( Indian clarified butter) to give it that extra taste.
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