Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Palak/Spinach Chickpeas Cutlets

Our family is vegetarian so we have very few option to explore.My husband's current project is in Dallas and a Mediterranean  lunch buffet place called "Galilee Grill" in downtown dallas attracts him a lot. This place has a wonderful buffet under $10 and you will be amazed to see how crowed it is during the weekdays lunch hours.I too love middle eastern food as it is quite spicy.
As my DH and son are a fan of falafel there are times when I cooked it very often.Just to make it  healthy I  add either mix vegetables or spinach or soya chunks to these and believe me the addition of these ingredients made them more tasty.

Originally falafel was made of fava beans but later as it migrated outside Egypt fava beans were replaced  by chickpeas.Falafel grew to become a common form of street food or fast food in the Middle East. During Ramadan, falafel balls are sometimes eaten as part of the iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast after sunset Falafel became so popular that McDonald's began to serve a "McFalafel" in some countries

Deep fry or shallow fry?
This time I have deep fried them as I am serving them to a group of guests but I prefer shallow frying them for my family.Deep fried taste better but shallow fried make them healthier.

Here's what you need

1 cup dry chickpeas

1 cup roughly chopped red onion

4 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala

4 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 tspn baking powder

2 cup bread crumbs

2 green chilli slit at the center and seeds removed

1 cup finely chopped spinach

4 tbsp all purpose flour

Oil for Deep Frying

The Cooking Process

1. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl ,rinse it a couple of times and add 4 cups of cold water and let it soak overnight, then drain.

2.Pour the drained, uncooked chickpeas ,cilantro, salt, chilli powder, garam masala,garlic, green chillis and cumin in  the bowl of a food processor/blender.and blended it into a coarse paste.Use as little water as possible.

3. Transfer this mixture in a bowl.Pat dry the chopped spinach.Add the spinach 2 tbsp of flour and baking powder and mix well.Add bread crumbs if you find the dough to be too wet.The dough should form a non sticky small ball.Refrigerate for couple of hours.

4.In a small bowl make a paste of 3tbsp of water and 2tbp flour.Before you begin frying have the counter top ready with the chickpeas mixture ,the flour paste, a plate with some bread crumbs and a bowl with a paper towel to remove the falafel after frying.

5.When the oil is hot enough , with greased palms roll the spinach chickpeas mixture to a desired shape pattie .Dip it in the flour paste and then coat it with bread crumbs and to test just fry one pattie on medium high heat until golden.If it falls apart add a little of all purpose flour to the mixture.Fry the remaining balls in similar manner.Drain on paper towel.

6.Serve hot with ketchup or green chutney or how about a healthy burger -Just stack a few lettuce leaves,tomato slice,onion slice and place these cutlets inside a hamburger.Yummy and filling to go snack is ready

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sabudana/Sago and peanut butter Ladoo

Here's what you will need

1 cup Sabudana/sago

1/4 cup peanut butter (smooth, unsalted and no sugar added.)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1/8 cup cashew nut powder(optional) ( You could use cashews for garnishing instead)

ghee as required

The Cooking Process

Dry roast the sabudana till they are light golden and grind it to a fine powder.

In a large bowl beat the peanut butter till it is light and fluffy.Now add the sugar,sabudana powder,cashew nut powder and cardamom powder and mix the ingredients well.

Grease your palms with ghee and make small lime size balls.If you find it hard to shape you could add 1-2 tbsp of melted ghee to the mixture.

These ladoos can be served as snack.This can be also served during Vrat.

If you are not comfortable having peanut butter for fasting you could replace it by 2 tbsp peanut powder and 1/4 cup ghee.

Makes :20 ladoos

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Khatta Meetha Gobi

Here's what you need

1 cup cauliflower florets

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp paprika

A pinch asafeotida/hing

¼ cup milk

1 tbsp cashew nut paste

1tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp crushed kasoori methi

2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

2 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp oil

1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar/jaggery


Set 1

2 pods garlic (optional)

4 red chilli

Soak the red chillis in ¼ cup of water for ½ an hour and drain.Grind the garlic and chillis into a smooth paste.Use water if necessary.

Set 2

2 medium roma tomatoes chopped in chunks

½ tsp Fenugreek seeds

1 tbsp mustard seeds

½ tsp tamarind concentrate

Dry roast the mustard and fenugreek seeds.Grind it along with the rest of the ingredients in the above list.

The Cooking Process

Heat a tbsp of ghee.When it is hot enough stir fry the cauliflower florets till light golden .Drain the ghee and remove the florets .Keep aside.

In the same wok,add oil when it is hot add the mustard seeds,asafetida, and the chilli-garlic paste.Saute for couple of minutes.Now add the tomato paste and paprika, fry until oil seperates.Now stir in the milk,cashew paste and the florets.Cover and cook until the florets are done.Untcover and let it cook until the consistency needed.

Add brown sugar,salt,kasoori meethi and sauté for couple of minutes. Check and adjust the seasoning.

Turn off the heat.Add remaining ghee,garam masala and mix.Garnish with cilantro and let it stand for 10 minutes covered before it is served.

This dish can be had with roti,paratha,pulav,jeera rice or biryani..

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Hidden Me

I like the way you say” I heard these words and woke up.

It was 2 am and my cell was ringing.I saw the first two digits “91” and my heart started beating faster.

A call from India this time.Hope everything is well at mom’s and inlaw’s place.

Before Adwait’s sleep was disturbed I said “Hello

An very excited and a very loud voice at the other end said “Hey Shash ,I am coming to meet you on Friday after four long years.I will be in Boston  for some project work………………………”The conversation went for an hour.

Darling,See you .Just two day to go. Happy journey”I replied and ended the conversation.

It was Ranjana at the other end.Her voice made me so relax.

Excited and nervous I couldn’t sleep that night.

Friday arrived.Today was the day I was waiting for two people who were important part of my life-Aryan ,my husband who was into IT and has been traveling for his project after Adwait turned one and Ranjana ,my very very best friend during my engineering college days.Both of us were so similar excited and bindas in everything we did.

As we had decided that I would be having lunch with Ranjana at her hotel and then she will be moving to my home till her project ends,I made a wonderful lunch ,packed it up and made my 2 old toddler Adwait ready and drove to Ranjana’s Hotel.

I knocked.

Ranjana open the door “Shash………….how are you?”She pulled me in her arms.Ohh even Aryan doesn’t hold me so tight, a naughty thought flashed my mind.

A sweet voice popped up “Mom,Whoz Shash?”

I smiled “it’s me dear

“But you are Sakshi right.Everyone calls you that even dad does”

Before I could say anything Ranjana rescued me by gifting him a guitar and he got busy playing his baby tunes.

My mind went a decade back.I was “Shash” the energetic student that’s what all called me.Brilliant and ambitious.My friends list was endless.Teachers loved me.Bhelpuri wala ,chaat wala near my college knew me well.

Shash,this is for you.” Ranjana handed a book which was decorated with a beautiful ribbon. I opened the book and tears rolled my cheeks.It was filled with letter from all my dear friends in college.Many said how they missed me while others said they always idolize me and so on .

Such a wonderful gift” I huged her.

I paused and looked at myself.I had changed a lot in last few years .Aryan absence had increased the work load on me.Life had been a routine with hardly time to get in touch with my lovely old friends.

Hey Motu.”I looked up.”Shash these days it doesn’t seem you visit gym. it’s a surprise a gym alcoholic changed so much.”

Things change after marriage.”I smiled.

Let’s have lunch,Mom”.Adwait was eager to have the black forest cake that I had baked for dessert.

I arranged the plates.Rajana grabbed something from her bag and popped in the microwave.

Shash ..”Ranjana came will a hot bowl”This is ready to eat Chicken tikka masala.-you adore it right.I know it’s ready to eat but that’s the only way I could get it from India

Ranjana loved the food and was eating till she was full.

Ranj ,this chicken tikka is superb.” The pale gravy tasted so good to me.

Are you joking ..No one can make better chicken tikka masala than you make.I am lucky to have a friend like you-An all rounder.”

Aryan is a vegetarian and I have never cooked this dish since I was married.It’s been a long time I had last tasted it.

Ohh Black forest yummmmmmmy.” Both Ranjana and Adwait finished the cake in minutes.

I cleared the table while Ranjana packed her stuffs and we reached home.

Everyone loved the interior of my home done by me so did Ranjana.

My home filled with laughter.

I felt I was coming out of a shell that I had myself created.

Aryan arrived and we all had our dinner.

That night Ranjana was telling Aryan stories about our college life-how we all hanged around,how everyone would rely on me for notes etc.I too joined them.

It was 3 am and I was talking and laughing without even a thought that Adwait would be disturbed.Aryan stared at me with surprise and I noticed it.

Before going to bed,Aryan came close to me.

“You look so beautiful,fresh and happy just like you were in the initial days of marriage.”

“Ranjana’s presence has helped me rediscover myself.She brought back the hidden me.”

Within no time I was in Aryan's arms.Much closer ..This time I thought he holds me much tighter than Ranjana did..I smiled.

And the lights turned off.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Simple and tasty: Lemon Yogurt Semolina Cake

Here's what you need:

1 1/2 cup semolina/rava/cream of wheat

2 cup low fat plain natural yogurt

1/4 cup canola oil (you can use butter instead)

1 cup sugar,

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla essence

3 to 4 tblspns of nuts for garnishing (optional),

1 tbsp lemon zest

a pinch of salt

For syrup

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

The cooking Process

Beat the yogurt and sugar well till the sugar dissolves.

Add oil,zest,essence,baking soda and salt.Once the wet ingredients are mixed well add the semolina.Mix and let it stand for atleast 2 hours.I sometimes even let it stand overnight.This enables semolina to soften and the cake turn out  fluffy.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.Grease a tray and pour the batter.Garnish with nuts.Bake for 25-30 mins or until the toothpick comes out clean when inserted at the center of the cake.Let it cool for 15 mins and then unmold.

In the meantime prepare the syrup.Heat the water and sugar mixture until the sugar dissolves.Turn off the heat and add lemon juice.Pour this warm syrup on the warm cake evenly.Don't worry ..All is well -the cake will absorb this amount of sugary lemony syrup during the resting time.Let the cake rest for half an hour.Slice and serve.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day and a treat of Eggless Black Forest cake

For the cake:

Here's what you need

Dry ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour

6 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Dutch process cocoa)

2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

2 cups water

2 tsp distilled white vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup flavorless oil (I used Crisco Canola)

The Cooking Process

With the rack in the middle, preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt thrice.

Whisk sugar, oil, water, vinegar and vanilla till sugar dissolves.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well with a hand mixer on medium speed for 2 mins.

Grease and flour the two 8 inches round cake pans. Pour the mixtures equally in both the pans and bake for 35-40 mins or until the toothpick when inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. After 20 mins unmold and transfer on a cooling rack. Let it cool completely for at least an hour before you begin to frost.

For the syrup

¼ cup water

¼ cup sugar

½ lb pitted fresh cherries (I used ¼ pound each of cherries and strawberries)

1 tsp vanilla extract/cherry liquor/rum (I used vanilla extract)

Boil water and sugar till sugar dissolves. Drop in the cherries and vanilla extract mix well and remove from flame. After this mixture stands covered overnight (or atleat 4-5 hrs) separate the cherries from the sweet syrup.

For the Frosting

3 cups double heavy cream

4 tbsp confectioners’sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract /rum/cherry liquor

Beat all ingredients well with a hand mixer on medium high speed together till it form soft peaks.

For Garnishing

Cherries reserved from the syrup

Chocolate shaving
Shave off fine flakes from  your choice of daek or milk chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler.

Assembling the cake.

Prick the top of both the cake with a fork and brush them with 3 tbsp of  syrup.

Place a cake layer on a cake stand or on a clean surface at a convenient height so that it’s easy to frost.

Spread 1 1/2 cup of frosting over one cake layer and arrange the cherries evenly. Now place the other layer and slightly press.

Frost the entire cake-the top and sides evenly .Decorate with remaining cherries and chocolate shaving. Refrigerate for couple or hours or until ready to be served.