Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Vangi Bhaat (with some bell peppers and spinach)

After the vaangi bhaat masala powder recipe - it is ofcorse time for some yummy warm vaangi bhaat.
I had to go and twist it a bit. So I added some green and red bell peppers and some spinach too. These peppers were given to me by my ever-loving dear friend Mini - her parents had grown them in their vegetable patch.
We liked this with some cooling cucumber and carrot salad and a bowl of yogurt.
Little Miss A liked it too - even though it was a tad bit spicy for her taste I guess, as she was eating yogurt after every bite of the vaangi bhaat.

If you do not wish to make the masala for storing - but, want to make it just for the one time use - here is what you can do

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon bengal gram/chana dal
1 tablespoon split black gram/urad dal
2 dried kashmiri chiis
2 dried byadgi chilis
1 tablespoon dried coconit slices
10 curry leaves
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 cloves
1 green cardamom
Dry roast all of them together and grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder.



Ingredients

2 cups rice - I used sona masoori
1 teaspoon salt
1 red onion - chopped finely
6 chinese eggplants (they were about 3 cups when chopped)
2 cups chopped spinach
1 tablespoon coconut oil (you can use any other oil too)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
1 chopped green chili (more if you like the heat)
1/2 cup groundnuts
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste
5 tablespoons vaangi bhaat masala


Method

Wash the rice clean. In a saucepan add 6 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Add the 1 teaspoon salt and the rice and let it cook for about 10 minutes or till the rice is cooked through. Drain it into a colander or sieve and let it sit.
In a karahi/wok - add the coconut oil. When it gets hot add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the curry leaves, the green chili (if using) and the groundnuts and fry on medium heat till the groundnuts get a golden color. Add the chopped onions and the turmeric and saute till the onions become transparent. Then add the eggplants, green and red peppers and the spinach and mix well. Cover and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Check if the eggplants are cooked through, if not then cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the vaangi bhaat masala and salt to taste and mix it well. Add the cooked rice to this mixture and mix it around with a very light hand so that each grain of rice is coated with the masala. Cover and let it simmer/steam for about 5 minutes.
Serve with yogurt and salad of your choice.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vangi Bhaat Masala Powder

Vaangi bhaat is nothing but brinjal(eggplant) rice. It is a very yummy and tangy and spicy rice preperation pretty famous in Karnataka state of India. Makes a wonderful one pot meal which is filling and also has a good serving of vegetables (her its eggplant).
The masala used in vaangi bhaat is made and generally stored for a few months making it easy to prepare a meal in a jiffy.
I made this masala based on the bhaaji masala and the kholamba masala that I had made a few months ago. It may not be the most authentic one but these are the basic ingredients used in everyday cooking in southern India. I have a bottle of it and now vaangi bhaat is enjoyed by us without having to worry about grinding the masala everytime.


Ingredients

1 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup cumin seeds
1 cup bengal gram/chana dal
1 cup split black gram/urad dal
2 cups curry leaves
1/8 cup cloves
1/8 cup green cardamom
2 tablespoons fenugreek seeds
1 cup sesame seeds
30 dried red kashmiri chilis
30 dried red byadgi chilis
1 cup dried coconut slices/kopra slices

Method

In a large karahi or frying pan - dry roast each ingredient individually till they release a nice aroma. Be careful to do this on a medium flame as you do not want to burn any spices. Should take anywhere from 5 minutes to 10 minutes depending on the size of the ingredient.
Once all of the ingredients are roasted - add them to a dry grinder and make a fine powder. Store in a dry bottle - in a cool and dry place. This stays good for about 3 months.
I generally store mine in the freezer and it stays good for 6 months to a year.

Use it to make the traditional vaangi bhaat. But, I change the veggies now and then. I make tendli (ivy gourd), bell pepper, cabbage, cauliflower, beans bhaat (rice)

Gobi Palak (Cauliflower in Spinach Gravy)

I always have baby spinach at home. Its something that I add to most of the stuff that is cooked at home. Its a part of dal, omelettes, palak raita, alu palak, corn palak, even the humble alu gobi becomes palak wala alu gobi. I even add pureed spinach to my chappati dough to get palak rotis. Palak Paneer is a favorite - but, paneer is too heavy to be consumed on a regular basis so its like a delicacy enjoyed occasionally.
Potatoes are not loved at our home. If its a part of a vegetable preparation or if it is int eh form of alu paratha then it is fine.
So, the other day I saw I had two huge tubs of baby spinach in my fridge and the only other vegetable there was cauliflower. Since I had a lot of time on hand, I decided to make this dish as it would look lovely and feel like a royal meal. Little Miss A loved it and so did Mr. A. So we have another spinach preparation in our menu cards.


Ingredients

1 caulifower head - it gave me 4 cups florets (i/2 inch pieces)
4 cups spinach
1 onion - finely chopped
1 tomato
9 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger piece
2 tablespoons grated coconut
1 black cardamom
3 green cardamoms
4 cloves
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 green chilis (add more or less as per preference)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon ghee
1/2 teaspoon oil
salt as per taste

Method

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the cauliflower florets very well. Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 2 gloves of garlic grated and a pinch of salt and toss it all together with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Lay the cauliflower florets on a cookie sheet in a single layer and get them nice and crisp but still still tender in the oven. It should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Once done, remove it from the oven and let it sit.
In the meantime - blanch the spinach in boiling water for 5 minutes and then put it in ice cold water. Drain spinach and get a puree done.
In the same grinder, add the tomato, remaining garlic cloves, ginger, green chilis, green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper, bay leaf, remaining turmeric powder, grated coconut and grind to a very fine paste.
In a saucepan, add the ghee. When it gets hot, add the chopped onions and fry them till they turn a golden brown. Then add the masala paste and mix well. Let it cook on medium heat till oil starts to leave the sides. Then add the pureed spinach and 1/2 cup water and salt to taste. Mix well and let it all come to a boil - be careful as the mixture has a tendency to splatter. Once it boils, lower the heat to a medium low and add the roasted cauliflower. Gently mix it so that the cauliflower is coated with the spinach mixture.
Serve with tandoori roti, naan or fulkas or even with steamed rice.

Creamy Pasta in White Sauce with Spicy Chicken Sausages

I generally never buy sausages - just because, we have never really found a creative way to eat them. As a family, we do not like to eat sausage for breakfast or even as a sandwich in a hot-dog bun. We have tried those breakfast sausages and have liked the spicy Italian ones the best, it has been used as a pizza topping more then often. We have even tried the seafood sausages - we liked them out of their casing and used as a pizza topping or as a part of a pasta dish.
The other day I found these spicy cilantro and green chilis chicken sausages - the flavor combination looked nice and hence we bought it.
Pasta was the thing that came to mind the day my kiddo said she wanted to have chicken pasta. We had a super busy weekend - a birthday party on a Saturday which went on till late at night, and then we had a communion to attend to on Sunday morning - I was exhausted by the evening. But, the smile on Little Miss A's face and her cute way of asking gave me the energy and the inspiration.
Its actually a pretty dish and takes some time. But, the best prize and the biggest compliment was when she ate away her bowl of pasta without wasting any time and without dropping anything in the floor.

The sausages are always in a pork casing - for people who do not eat pork - you can substitute with marinated pieces of chicken or just have it with some other veggies like peppers, corn, olives etc etc.

Ingredients

2 cups penne pasta - I used a variety of shapes
4 chicken sausages
2 cups broccoli florets - cut into bite size pieces
2 medium carrots - sliced into circles
1 medium onion - roughly chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil (any oil will work)
2 cloves garlic - grated
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour (all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste

Method

In a saucepan add 5 cups of water. Cover it and let this water come to a boil. Once it boils, add 1 teaspoon salt and then the pasta and cook for about 8 minutes. Generally that's the time it takes to cook those packaged pasta. Do check the cooking instructions to see otherwise.
Once its cooked, drain it in a colander and add 1 teaspoon oil and toss it around the colander, so that the pasta does not stick together.
Remove the chicken sausages from their casing and slice it. In a frying pan, add these slices and let them cook through. Sausages generally have oil in them so you do not need greasing. Cook it on medium heat till its cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove onto a plate. In the same pan add 1 teaspoon oil and add the chopped onions. Once the onions get translucent, add the broccoli florets and the carrots. Add salt to taste and cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove them into the same plate as the chicken sausages.
Now to make the sauce. Take a saucepan, add the butter to it. When it gets hot, add the grated garlic and bring the heat to a medium - be careful not to burn it. Now add the flour and mix well. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes to get the raw smell of the flour out. Now add the milk and keep stirring so as to not form any lumps. I generally use a whisk and it does not create any lumps. Add salt to taste and the crushed black pepper. Let this mixture come to a boil and then let it simmer for 5 minutes. To this add the cooked pasta and the chicken and veggies. Mix well. Garnish with chopped parsley (I did not have any) and serve with a side of garlic bread.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Quick Chicken Tagine with Vegetables, Olives and Preserved Lemons

I finally gave in to my temptation and bought a tagine pot. I had been wanting one since forever now. Well, that tagine pot sat on my kitchen counter tempting me to cook something in it for a few days. But, we were travelling and I had to wait. Well, yesterday was the day I finally had everything that I needed and I just started. Like someone had suggested....... make the cooking pot your canavas and just go about with things
- the end result will always be good if you make something with love, passion and a lot of confidence. So - with that thing in mind I whipped up this quick stuff. Do not know if its authentic or no - but, we loved it and thats all that matters in the end.


Ingredients

For Marination

8 chicken drumsticks or 6 chicken thighs (I used it with the bone and skin on)
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil

For the Tagine

2 onions - roughly chopped
2 carrots - roughly chopped in chunks
2 bell peppers (I used red ones) - roughly cubed
4 potatoes - skins removed and cut in quarters
10 cloves of garlic - grated
1/2 inch ginger piece - grated
1/2 Preserved Lemons - chopped fine
10 black olives - halved
10 green olives - halved
6 pimentos - finely chopped
        I got the olives and pimentos (they were brined) at the olive bar at Wholefoods (a grocery store)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
           if you do not wish to use saffron - substitute with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 2 to 5 strands of saffron
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (add more or less as per preference)
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
salt if needed (I did not add any salt - as the olives and the preserved lemon had enough salt)

Method

Get the tagine pot ready by reading the instructions provided. I had to soak my clay pot in water for 5 hours before I could use it.
Marinate the chicken drumsticks (or thighs) using all the ingredients under the 'For Marination' tab and let it sit for atleast 1 hour. I left it in the refrigerator overnight. 
Heat a frying pan and once its nice and hot sear the chicken drumsticks/thighs on both sides to get the meat brown. You do not need to cook the chicken, just get a nice sear on the outer layer.

Seared Chicken Drumsticks
In the same frying pan, add the 1/2 tablespoon oil. When it gets nice and hot add the chopped onions and saute them till they get a nice golden brown. Then add the garlic and ginger and saute till the raw smell goes away. Add the chopped carrots, chopped bell pepper and the quartered potatoes and mix well. Lower the flame. Make a paste of the saffron, chilli powder and coriander powder with the 1 cup water and add it to the vegetables. Add the chopped parsley and chopped cilantro (keep about 1 tablespoon of each aside for garnish later). Mix well. Get the frying pan off the heat and keep it aside. Its now time to assemble everything into the tagine pot.

Sauteed Vegetables
Chopped Olives, Pimentos and Preserved Lemons
I used a heat diffuser to get the tagine evenly heated and to avoid any direct contact with the heat. Its a delicate piece of equipment (the tagine) and I did not want any cracks on it.
In the tagine pot add 1/2 tablespoon oil and then add the sauteed vegetables. Arrange the chicken evenly over the vegetables. Over this add the chopped olives, pimentos and the preserved lemons.

Arranged in the tagine pot
Cover it with the conical shaped tagine cover. Lower the heat to a medium low. Cook it this way for an hour. The aromas will be like heaven, but do not open the cover. Let it cook on its own in those juices.

The Chicken Tagine being cooked over medium low heat with the use of a diffuser under the tagine pot.
After an hour, open very carefully, the cover will be hot. Check the meat for doneness. If its still a bit undone, cover and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the cooked dish over a bed of couscous or some Pita Bread along with a simple Salad.

The final product
It is not really necessary to own a tagine pot to cook tagines. You can do this slow cooking even in a crock-pot or a dutch oven.
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