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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Curried Pasta with Green Beans


Weather is nice and sun is shinning in this part of the world, many say it’s unusual for them in the month of March here. But who really cares about that as long as we get to enjoy this rare and nice weather. That leaves me astonished; I never took weather seriously back home, except just for the entertainment pur se when DD Doordarshan would broadcast the weather updates. But here I do follow weather and check the daily temperatures and especially on weekends.




On Monday, generally I don’t feel like cooking up storms in my kitchen, the weekend laid back attitude find its way up to Monday evening. With DD and DH in school and in office, I do tend to become lazy bones. Many a times I do make quick one-pot meals like a simple vegetable pulao, and sometimes even experimenting with other cuisines. Even better if I happen to have some left over stuff, left from the previous night meal, is sufficient for me. Sunday night is most of the times “pasta night” for us. All sorts of pastas and made in many different ways.

This pasta recipes is not exotic, but a very basic recipe made with Indian spices. Many will like to call it fusion cooking. Italian pasta cooked with Indian spices-like apna desi style… does this reminds you a famous celebrity/political marriage!!

Curried Pasta with Green Beans
Recipe requirements
About 2-3 large cups of cooked pasta
For the curry which forms the sauce for this pasta recipe
Green beans about 2 cups chopped roughly
1 medium size onions
2 medium size tomatos
2 garlic pods
½ tsp of ginger grated
Vegetables as per your choice about 1 cup
2-3 tbs of cooking oil /olive oil/canola oil/corn oil
Seasonings
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
½ tsp of turmeric powder
½ tsp of cumin seeds




Method
Cook pasta according to package directions. Run some cold tap water over cooked pasta or drizzle some oil over it, pastas will tend to loosen up and will not become soggy.
Now put saucepan/fry pan over stove-top. Add cooking oil; temper it with cumin seeds. Now add in chopped onions, garlic and ginger. Keep on frying them till onions become little translucent.
Now add chopped beans, tomato and vegetables as per your choice. Many times I do add broccoli, sweet corn and carrots. If you want more gravy then add one more tomato. I also like to add about ½ cup of finely chopped coriander leaves at this time.
Now add the seasonings- turmeric powder, red pepper powder, coriander powder, salt.
Fry all the above for 6-7 mints at med-high or till all vegetables are cooked.
Now add in cooked pasta, toss and mix well.
Serve hot garnished with some cheese if you prefer that way.

Happy Cooking Friends

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Payesh with Saffron - Recipe Revisited


Last couple of day’s weather is pleasant here, I mean really pleasant. I neatly tucked away our coats and woolies inside the cupboard. The onset of spring is just a precursor for a good summer hopefully finger crossed. Let’s see how kind weather God can be this time!


I can’t recall I have ever made payesh with saffron back home. Although this blog has two payesh recipes – one with Nolen Gur/Noton Gur or palm jaggery in English. And another simple Chaal'er Payesh or rice pudding if you would allow me to say so.
But, the kind and quality of saffron we get here in abroad is really good, no more than good I would say. So have been using it profoundly in biryanis, pulaos and of course in payesh.What I liked about payesh with saffron is the aromatic smell, kind of exotic. If you happen to make payesh even with semiya, use saffron it really is something out of this world.
Now to the recipe for payesh with saffron-recipe revisited



Payesh with Saffron
Recipe requirements( Measurements are approx)
About 2 tbs of atop chaal/gobindo bhog/sona masoori rice/basmati rice
Soak the rice in ample amount of water for about half an hour before you make payesh.

5-6 large cups of whole milk
2 tbs of ghee or butter
1 cup of sugar or as per taste
Few strands of saffron soaked in about ¼ cup of milk


Method
Put a saucepan on cooking stove-top/gas/hob.
Now add ghee or butter.Add the soaked rice minus water of course.Add raisins or cashews or some almonds too as per your choices.
Fry the rice for few mints.Now add in whole milk and let it simmer for about 10-15 mints or till the rice grains start floating on the top.
When the milk evaporates and rice grains are cooked.You can check if the rice grains is cooked or not by taking out some grains and pressing them with fingers.
Now when the milk has thickened a bit , add sugar at the end.Cook the milk further and let the sugar dissolve.
Add saffron soaked milk at the end.Take it off from the flame.Keep it covered and let it cool.


Serve chilled and enjoy.
Have a nice weekend and see you next weekend.

Happy Cooking Friends

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Baby Spinach Bean Sprouts Cherry Tomatoes Couscous Salad


Kemon acho bondho ra?
Comment allez-vous ?
Hola, como estas ?
Kem cho maja ma?
Tussi kiwen ho?
Suhgamaano?
Vannakam Yeppadi irrikkenga ennoda nanban?
Neevu ela unnaavu snehitudo?
Bhalo ase ne ?
tu kasa ashes, kaay kartos ?
Aur haal-chaal sab theek hai?

Yeah you would assume I know all these languages, no don’t get me wrong here. I was just trying to impress you all. Ok, but why I am saying this, may be you already are! No, don’t tell me you are not, oh No don’t disappoint me....

Last time I announced I was hosting an event and then wham, vanished, reasons or no reasons I am back with this post so all izz well.
With fresh blossoms showing up on every dried branches of tree, “it is time” for another circle of life as told by Rafiqui to Simba.Yeah, and the tale of that movie goes on again here. I never knew a simple animated children’s movie can have such deep impacts on our minds.

I know weather is not that pleasant back home but in this part of the world where I am sitting and typing these words, weather can be assumed pleasant. Spring is in the air, and I am sure our mango tree back home is loaded with fresh mango blossoms. And I just wonder this year, Mrs. B and Mrs.M must be even more happy as I am no where to claim my share. Or the old tattered jute bag which we do give to our helpers to collect mangoes, probably is lying somewhere in the corner of my kitchen cupboards and must have gone weathered. Memories and their short retrievals gives you one instant kick and breaks your monotony of life, so much that you start writing in your blog about those incidents.




Daffodils oh! Yellow pure shining flowers, thou presence endures a feeling of warmth, telling us that all days are not same, that cold, stubborn winter will always hide behind the warmth of sunny springs days. Little birdies why thou fly away come close near me and sing a song that is pleasant and humming. Untouched Mango blossoms would thou keep on dancing to the tune of the soft spring breeze, reviving  tired souls who gather under thy shade…….
Ok stop now I would go on like that ... but this is a food blog and where is food now…Here it is



I have been an ardent fan of couscous as you all know well, so made these cous cous salad with the ingredients that were in my pantry at the time of assembling it. Baby spinach, bean sprouts, cherry tomatoes and cooked couscous makes this salad healthy and filling and very low on calories.

To the recipe now



Baby Spinach, Bean Sprouts and Cherry Tomatoes Couscous salad
Recipe requirement
About a cup of baby spinach
8-10 cherry tomatoes cut into half
About a cup of bean sprouts
1 cup of cooked couscous
For the seasoning
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of red chilly flakes




Method

Cook couscous according to package directions. Most of the time couscous doubles the quantity. Another quick way of making couscous, when I mean quick couscous I mean to say instant couscous. M/W about ¾ cup of water at high for 1 mint. Soak the couscous about ½ cup of couscous in this warm water for about 15-20 mints in the cup.Couscus will become double the quantity and it will turn out light and fluffy.
Now you can toss up all the other ingredients like bean sprouts, baby spinach and cherry tomatoes in some olive oil and salt. Adjust with dash of lemon juice if you like sourness, otherwise skip it. Add red chilly flakes as garnishing. Enjoy your healthy and easy lunch. Pack it some in your lunch-box if hunger cravings hits you in the afternoon.




This is going to the food event I am currently hosting ..Healthy Diet - Easy and Healthy Lunch , originally started by Priya at Easy n Tasty Recipes.....

Happy Cooking Friends

Monday, March 12, 2012

Event Announcement -Healthy Diet Food Event- Easy and Healthy Lunch



This is my 300 Th post ( so as my blogger dashboard says ). And just thought it would be really great to celebrate this milestone with hosting a food event for a change. So, I promised myself this year also, that I will try to catch up more with fellow blogger friends and what could be better than hosting a food event which has purpose of not just eating but eating with healthy foods.

When I saw Priya at Priya's easy and tasty recipes starting a food event concentrating on healthy diet foods, I was overwhelmed and it so appealed me. Thanks Priya for giving me this opportunity to host this month’s edition of  Healthy Diet Food event.
There is possibly no substitution for healthy food.And the benefits it has I really don’t need to write much on that. So, Friends cook your delicious and healthy lunch recipes and send me your blog entries to make it successful, I need your active support for this.




Let me re-iterate the event guidelines in case you have joined us recently-

1)Cook healthy and easy Lunch - both vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes are accepted from today till 11th of April 2012.
2) Post as many recipes as you can, many entries per person is allowed.
3) Link back this post and also to Priya's This Post...
4) Older post is accepted if refreshed with this page link and Priya's  This Post ...Please include the logo as well.
5) Use of logo is very much appreciated.
6) Please send me all your entries on or before 11 April 2012 with details below to spiceandcurry at gmail dot com.
            a) A picture not more than 200 wide.
            b)  Name of the recipe
            c) Name of your Blog/Blog URL
            d) Post URL
            e) Few words about your recipe like ingredients , use of method or response of your loved ones, etc..This step is not mandatory but will add up to the round-up as "In Her Own Word".....

7) Non-Bloggers , do not be disappointed, you can send me your original  entries to the e-mail listed above.

Hope I have included every details.If you still have doubts or questions, do ask me in the comment section.

Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Happy Holi with Gulab Jamun


Tomorrow is holi, and here it will be just like any other working day for us in abroad. How we miss the festivity and warmth of colors while we all are away earning our bread n butter here in abroad. You earn something and tend to loose something in return and that is how the journey of life is.
We will be having a small gathering over weekends, just few of our friends. And we will discuss and nag about festivity and how we miss our home, our people etc...And then we will head to our home and again a new week-working week will start. And soon we will be busy doing the things we are used to do normally. And it will go on just like that.


If I can have a rewind button, how I wish I can rewind it and play it again- those sweet and innocent childhood days when everything was anticipated, counted and wished for. Life was unpredictable and full of surprises, so many new things to be known and each day brought so many memories to treasure. I now feel that similar feelings when I see my DD anticipating festivals and everything associated with festivity.

One sweet memory was to see my Ma making Gulab Jamuns very enthusiastically. When I say enthusiastically, I mean that. She would make them from scratch. Her recipe was simply go and follow your instinct. She has become so much habitual of making these Gulab Jamuns, she would tell seeing the dough, will it rise , puff up well or become soft or not. She would make it from the khoya that our milkman would bring especially for her. There would be no compromises on the quality of khoya.I have seen her being strictly telling our “Doodhwalah Bhaiya”...”Agar quality acha nahi hua, hum tumhara paisa Cut kar lenge.” Lo Behold and here I am having milk from plastic bottles and that too from a superstore which is half a mile far where we live now.
Last time when I was visiting her, she made it just for us, as DD is very fond of having Gulab Jamuns, I would say who is not? She would then neatly pack some of it for her Jamai/son-in-law to be eaten as snack or "mishti mukh " on a long train journey.Yeah, small town has its own charm or may be journeys through Rajdhani is one in a life time experience.


Ok Dol as this is what we call in Bengali, meant eating Doi Bora , and Nimki and Gulab Jamuns, all made in comfort of our home amidst all the chaos and our relatives and family friends. We had a large joint family living together but with partitioned walls, individual rooms and separate kitchens.
But on this day everything will be made together and in huge batches. All the sons and few daughters of the family would come and assemble particularly for Pujo and Dol.And believe me it would be one heck of a holiday. From a 1 year old family member to a 60 years old family member, the spirit of festivity would catch everyone, kind of a bug that hit hard.”Hoojoke” and more “Hoozoke” I mean crazy and crazier people.
Now the sons and daughters of that joint family have shifted to metros, some of them even to abroad and with them their parents, so no more these “hoozokepana”/ madness.Ah! Well all days don’t remain same, it can’t be….

The recipe below is what I saw in the reverse side of whole milk powder packet and improvised it little bit. It asked for semolina to be added also, I didn’t have so skipped it. And made it with all purpose flour instead of self rising flour. They came out so soft; my DH even asked have I made it from boxed one! Lo behold what can I say to that?

 Gulab Jamun
Recipe requirements( measurements are approx)
1 and half cup of good quality whole milk powder tightly packed
2-3 heaped tbs of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp of baking soda-
About half cup of water to knead
1/2  tsp of oil
For frying
1 -1 ½ cup of cooking oil
For the sugar syrup
1 ½ cup of sugar
2 -2 ½ cups of water


Method
Knead all milk powder; all purpose flour, baking soda and oil into semi tight dough. I happen to add 1 tsp of rose essence in the dough itself. If you wish you may add milk, but I haven’t used it. Water worked fine for me.
Let it rest for 2hrs over kitchen counter.
While the dough is resting. Prepare the sugar syrup.
In a large saucepan. We do need large saucepan, as Gulab Jamuns will puff up absorbing sugar syrup. They need space to puff up well.
The sweetness of sugar syrup depends how sweet you want your Gulab Jamuns to be.Add more sugar for very sweet Gulab Jamuns.I happen to follow my instinct and so end up utilizing 1 and half cup of sugar to 2-2 and half cups of water. Reduce sugar if you don’t want very sweet Gulab Jamuns.
Let it simmer at medium flame, till all the sugar is dissolved. Now turn it to low and let it simmer slowly. Prepare yourself now to deep fry the Gulab Jamuns.
Now make small balls from the dough. This much of dough will make 15-18 medium size Gulab Jamuns.
Now roll each ball into even sphere or rounds with the help of your palm. Rub little bit of oil in your palm. The more the smooth outer surface, chances are it won’t crack at the time of frying.OK even if it cracks, make sure it doesn’t fall apart at the time of frying. If you can see in the picture my small rounds have little cracks but it still managed to hold on while frying up in hot oil. The trick lies in kneading it properly. This is essential that you have to knead it properly and make semi tight dough so that it can hold on to itself even having few minor cracks while frying up.
Place elaichi seeds/cardamom seeds in the middle, and then again roll into small balls. If you have Boro Elaich/big cardamom, use them. This gives a nice flavor to Gulab Jamun.This time I added one chocolate chip in every gulab jamuns.The centre had that mild chocolaty flavor which my DD liked a lot.
Add about 1-2 cups of cooking oil to the pan. Yes we do need ample amount of oil to deep fry the rounds.
Check if the oil is ready to be deep fried. Drop a tiny round from the dough in the hot oil and if it floats towards upward sizzling, the oil is ready. And if it sinks the oil is not ready for deep frying. Frying the gulab jamuns is crucial step as right temperature is required for deep frying.
Never hurry the process, and fry them at high. The outer surface will be cooked, but the inner surface will not be cooked, making it lumpy or under cooked inside.


Deep fry gulab jamuns maximum of 4-5 at a time if you happen to use a small frying pan, like the one I have.Gulab Jamuns will puff up so they require that much of space to swell and fry well.
Take them out and after few seconds later dunk them in sugar syrup. Don’t stop the flame for the sugar syrup.  TIP- for a soft Gulab Jamuns, you need to put the sugar syrup simmering at very low so that it remains hot, and this helps in proper absorption of syrup and Gulab Jamuns turn out soft.
Let the Gulab Jamuns soak the syrup and flavor overnight. Serve and enjoy the other day.Or who wants to wait till that time!! mmmm..I am not ..delicious.

Happy Holi Friends.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mini Naan Pizza with Mushroom and Red Bell Pepper


What would I say? There are recipes which won’t go wrong even if you carelessly put the ingredients and toss it in hurry. And then you will find that you have become habitual of doing it even with closed eyes. Little bit exaggeration, I know , but trust me this mini naan pizza is what I was referring to.And I don’t need to do take-away for pizza during weekends and that is where this recipe scores.So, DH and DD always do a "Farmaish" every weekend for these cute and lip-smacking mini naan pizza.



Left-over naan is used as base for the pizza. And I would say I hardly noticed any difference between the boxed pizza and this fresh home –made pizza. My two cents - this home-made fresh pizza tastes way better than those boxed pizzas.
And plus point is that you know what toppings you want to add and how much to add. So, make it vegetarian or non-vegetarian, choices and possibilities are endless. All you need is to open your fridge door and see what fresh vegetables you have in stock. Take out and chop it the way you prefer it and pop it in oven and within half an hour your quick dinner or appetizer is ready.
Even if you want to entertain your guest and is tired of serving the same chicken tikka or panner tikka as starters/appetizers, I would say serve these as a new addition to your party menu.Mini Nan pizza is just awesome. What more I need to add to that.....




Mini Naan pizza with Mushroom and Red Bell pepper
Recipe requirements
(Serves -3-4)

  • Small naan-6- recipe Here
  • For the topping
  • 1 cup of chopped mushroom
  • 1 bell pepper chopped in rings
  • 1 onion cut into rings
  •  Mozzarella cheese  
  • Seasonings
  • 1 tsp of crushed red chilly flakes
  • 1 tsp of mixed herb
  • 3-4 tbs of pasta sauce
  • Salt as per taste

Method

  • Preheat oven at 180 deg C.
  • Now line up a baking tray with foil or grease proof paper.
  • Place the mini naan in baking tray.
  • Spread the pasta sauce generously.
  • Now spread chopped vegetables accordingly.
  • Adjust the seasonings with salt, mixed herb and red chilly flakes. If making this for kids avoid red chilly flakes. But I would say encourage them to add at the serving table. Red chilly flakes do add great flavors to hot pizzas.
  • Now bake it for 10 mints.
  • Take out and spread mozzarella cheese or any pizza cheese generously.
  • Transfer again in oven and bake further 15-20 mints or the cheese melts and is browned a little bit.
  • Serve with cola.




Note-

  • Toppings can be any thing depending on the choices you make. Use leftover chicken tikka/grilled fish/grilled paneer etc.
  • Mini Naan pizza is great way to entertain your guest even. Prepare it before your guest arrive and reheat it for 5-7 mints at 180 deg C and serve immediately.
  • This can be included in party menu for Holi this week.




Happy Cooking Friends