Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Annakoot: Easy vegetable mishmash for Poojas or lazy days!

I do hope your Diwali has gone splendidly, as did mine. I hope it was full of sweets and hugs and laughter, new memories and lights. I hope we shared our joy with those not so fortunate. I hope we were all able to laugh, and enjoy ourselves. Here's wishing you a happy Diwali and a happy year ahead, from my family to yours.

Now the day post Diwali, comes something called Govardhan Pooja, a day I have been made aware of only 2 days earlier. One version of this story goes thus: Lord Krishna had given refuge to the residents of Braj from torrential rains for 7 days, by lifting the mountain Govardhan much like an umbrella on his finger. After 7 days, when life resumed, there was not much left in the villagers' kitchens. So a dish is prepared, with whatever is there in the kitchen, and that is offered up to thank Him for His grace. The other version, more practical, suggests that the day after Diwali, either all the vegetable stalls are shut, and/or one is too hungover to go buy veggies. In either case, there aren't fresh vegetables in the larder. So, a mish-mash of vegetables, in sattvik way is prepared which becomes that day's meal. This dish is called "Annakoot". 

Which is what I'll be describing today, and how I pulled the recipe of this put of  my....hat. There is apparently no set recipe to this. All it needs to be is without onion and garlic, and made in ghee. That's what I did, sort of followed the technique of the very famous Bengali Durga Pujo dish "labra" and applied it to what I had on hand. It becomes almost like a bhaji, that you can wipe down with chapati, paratha or even a nice toasted pao.



Annakoot

You need:
  • Vegetables you have in your fridge, chopped. I has cauliflower, sweet potato, beans, beets, pumpkins.
  • Ghee
  • 1 large bay leaf or 2 small ones
  • 1 large dry red chilli, broken
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Turmeric powder or haldi, a pinch
  • 2 tsp Jeera or cumin seeds
  • A pinch of heeng
  • Handful of coriander leaves, chopped

The How
  • Wash and chop the vegetables. Cut according to size, for instance, pumpkins and sweet potatoes should not be too big, and cauliflowers should not be too small. Avoid tomatoes.
  • In a large kadhai, add a spoonful of ghee.
  • Add the jeera.
  • When it sputters, add in all the vegetables in one go. Stir well.
  • Keep stirring for a while on medium flame for about 5 minutes.
  • Add about 1/4 cup water, and cover to cook.
  • Let this be, stirring infrequently so that it doesn't burn. Let it be till the vegetables have completely softened.
  • Take this out into a bowl. In the same pan, add another spoonful of ghee. When it heats up, add in the bay leaf, heeng and red chilli. 
  • Before they burn, but it begins to smell smoky, add in the vegetables.
  • Stir well to cook, so that the ghee reaches all the vegetables. 
  • If need be, and if it looks dry, add more ghee. Add salt and sugar to taste.
  • At this point, you can choose to let the pieces be whole, or mash it with a potato masher to make a bhaji. If the latter, then mash it thoroughly with a masher till it reaches the level you want.
  • Cook some more, and take off heat.
  • Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves on top.

And it's ready! It feels utterly soothing to the system to have this, after a hard couple of days of partying. And whether or not you do the pooja, like I didn't, it's simply delicious!

Let me know how this was!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hara Masala Khumb (Mushroom in Green Masala)

Have you ever been to a supermarket frozen foods section, and fell in love?

No? Just me? Okay then.

Seriously, my MOST favourite section of the store is the freezer. pre-prepped vegetables and herbs, just waiting to be transformed. Stir fry mixes, coconut chutney mix, sambar veggies, veggie noodles, undhiyu mixes, ingredients for Thai curries, and so many more. It just gives me such an amazing feeling of the magic that's about to happen in the kitchen without me slaving over chopping and peeling. Or, you know, "YAAASS!!".

So yesterday I picked up a mix of green masala, consisting of a bunch each of coriander, curry leaves, a handful of chillies, 2 large knobs of ginger, and a lemon. I saw the box, and even though it was sealed tight, I smelled it. Oh I smelled the delicious green smell wafting off a steaming plate at lunch. All I knew was that I have to make something or the other with it.

So, presenting a vegetarian side that I made up, just because I could imagine how yummy it would smell. Mushrooms in Green Masala. The gravy is smooth and green, smelling fresh and spicy, just waiting to be mopped up with chapatis or appams. The best part of this side is the absolute versatility of it. I used diced mushrooms, you can use it with soya nuggets, jackfruit, cauliflower-broccoli mix, mixed vegetables, prawns, chicken, lamb, anything at all. There isn't even a fixed amount of the ingredients!



Hara Masala Khumb, or Mushrooms in Green Masala

You need:
  • A bunch of fresh coriander leaves, torn and washed
  • A branch of curry leaves, washed
  • 1 2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A sprinkling of amchoor
  • Green chillies, depending on how spicy you want it
  • Garlic, roughly mashed
  • 2 boxes of mushrooms, cleaned and halved (or any vegetables, totalling about 300-400 gm)
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Extra chopped coriander.

The How:
  • In the mixer, blend the coriander, curry leaves, the ginger, chopped chillies, and a tsp of the lemon juice, till it's a rough paste. You can add a little water, controlling it so that it doesn't becomes a complete watery liquid.
  • In a kadhai, heat the oil till its is smoking, then reduce heat to low. Add the garlic.
  • Saute for a few seconds, take care it doesn't burn, and tip in the mushrooms. Saute for a bit.
  • Add the green masala. Add salt, and amchoor.
  • Cook till it begin to leave out the oil on sides. You can add a bits of war water in case it's too tight. It should not be too soupy, but nor a completely tight sabzi.
  • Adjust salt and seasoning. Turn off the heat. Drizzle the lemon juice, sprinkle the chopped coriander, stir and serve hot with rotis or appams.

That's it! Let me know how this was!

Hara Masala Khumb (Mushroom in Green Masala)

Have you ever been to a supermarket frozen foods section, and fell in love?

No? Just me? Okay then.

Seriously, my MOST favourite section of the store is the freezer. pre-prepped vegetables and herbs, just waiting to be transformed. Stir fry mixes, coconut chutney mix, sambar veggies, veggie noodles, undhiyu mixes, ingredients for Thai curries, and so many more. It just gives me such an amazing feeling of the magic that's about to happen in the kitchen without me slaving over chopping and peeling. Or, you know, "YAAASS!!".

So yesterday I picked up a mix of green masala, consisting of a bunch each of coriander, curry leaves, a handful of chillies, 2 large knobs of ginger, and a lemon. I saw the box, and even though it was sealed tight, I smelled it. Oh I smelled the delicious green smell wafting off a steaming plate at lunch. All I knew was that I have to make something or the other with it.

So, presenting a vegetarian side that I made up, just because I could imagine how yummy it would smell. Mushrooms in Green Masala. The gravy is smooth and green, smelling fresh and spicy, just waiting to be mopped up with chapatis or appams. The best part of this side is the absolute versatility of it. I used diced mushrooms, you can use it with soya nuggets, jackfruit, cauliflower-broccoli mix, mixed vegetables, prawns, chicken, lamb, anything at all. There isn't even a fixed amount of the ingredients!



Hara Masala Khumb, or Mushrooms in Green Masala

You need:
  • A bunch of fresh coriander leaves, torn and washed
  • A branch of curry leaves, washed
  • 1 2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A sprinkling of amchoor
  • Green chillies, depending on how spicy you want it
  • Garlic, roughly mashed
  • 2 boxes of mushrooms, cleaned and halved (or any vegetables, totalling about 300-400 gm)
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Extra chopped coriander.

The How:
  • In the mixer, blend the coriander, curry leaves, the ginger, chopped chillies, and a tsp of the lemon juice, till it's a rough paste. You can add a little water, controlling it so that it doesn't becomes a complete watery liquid.
  • In a kadhai, heat the oil till its is smoking, then reduce heat to low. Add the garlic.
  • Saute for a few seconds, take care it doesn't burn, and tip in the mushrooms. Saute for a bit.
  • Add the green masala. Add salt, and amchoor.
  • Cook till it begin to leave out the oil on sides. You can add a bits of war water in case it's too tight. It should not be too soupy, but nor a completely tight sabzi.
  • Adjust salt and seasoning. Turn off the heat. Drizzle the lemon juice, sprinkle the chopped coriander, stir and serve hot with rotis or appams.

That's it! Let me know how this was!

Hara Masala Khumb (Mushroom in Green Masala)

Have you ever been to a supermarket frozen foods section, and fell in love?

No? Just me? Okay then.

Seriously, my MOST favourite section of the store is the freezer. pre-prepped vegetables and herbs, just waiting to be transformed. Stir fry mixes, coconut chutney mix, sambar veggies, veggie noodles, undhiyu mixes, ingredients for Thai curries, and so many more. It just gives me such an amazing feeling of the magic that's about to happen in the kitchen without me slaving over chopping and peeling. Or, you know, "YAAASS!!".

So yesterday I picked up a mix of green masala, consisting of a bunch each of coriander, curry leaves, a handful of chillies, 2 large knobs of ginger, and a lemon. I saw the box, and even though it was sealed tight, I smelled it. Oh I smelled the delicious green smell wafting off a steaming plate at lunch. All I knew was that I have to make something or the other with it.

So, presenting a vegetarian side that I made up, just because I could imagine how yummy it would smell. Mushrooms in Green Masala. The gravy is smooth and green, smelling fresh and spicy, just waiting to be mopped up with chapatis or appams. The best part of this side is the absolute versatility of it. I used diced mushrooms, you can use it with soya nuggets, jackfruit, cauliflower-broccoli mix, mixed vegetables, prawns, chicken, lamb, anything at all. There isn't even a fixed amount of the ingredients!



Hara Masala Khumb, or Mushrooms in Green Masala

You need:
  • A bunch of fresh coriander leaves, torn and washed
  • A branch of curry leaves, washed
  • 1 2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A sprinkling of amchoor
  • Green chillies, depending on how spicy you want it
  • Garlic, roughly mashed
  • 2 boxes of mushrooms, cleaned and halved (or any vegetables, totalling about 300-400 gm)
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Extra chopped coriander.

The How:
  • In the mixer, blend the coriander, curry leaves, the ginger, chopped chillies, and a tsp of the lemon juice, till it's a rough paste. You can add a little water, controlling it so that it doesn't becomes a complete watery liquid.
  • In a kadhai, heat the oil till its is smoking, then reduce heat to low. Add the garlic.
  • Saute for a few seconds, take care it doesn't burn, and tip in the mushrooms. Saute for a bit.
  • Add the green masala. Add salt, and amchoor.
  • Cook till it begin to leave out the oil on sides. You can add a bits of war water in case it's too tight. It should not be too soupy, but nor a completely tight sabzi.
  • Adjust salt and seasoning. Turn off the heat. Drizzle the lemon juice, sprinkle the chopped coriander, stir and serve hot with rotis or appams.

That's it! Let me know how this was!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Butterless Eggless Easy Depression Cake

Quick. Chocolatey. Squidgey. Smack you on the face delicious. Using only things that you have in your kitchen already.

If not, you seriously need to go shopping.

Hello, welcome to the easiest chocolate cake in the world. Which is awesome because yay cake anytime. Which is also bad because oh God cake anytime.

No matter what we put on a cake, the end product, that makes or breaks it, is the cake itself. It cannot be crumbly. It cannot be squishy (in that weird way). It cannot be dry. It cannot be soaked in oil. It cannot be too sweet. It cannot taste of flour. I must not break my back baking it. It must use as few vessels as possible. We have a lot of demands for this poor thing.

Which is when, the oven gods bestow upon us the Depression Cake. No butter. No eggs. Just flour, chocolate, water, sugar, oil and vinegar. You heard that right. There is a very interesting back story to this I suppose. During the Great Depression in the US, eggs, butter etc were heavily rationed. Which put a spanner in every homemaker's plan. But could the cake-eating stop? Nay, I say. Human ingenuity has no bounds. So, by the logic of the chemical reaction, and logical role played by each ingredient which makes a cake what it is, items were substituted, and the Depression cake was born.

So presenting. the beautiful, fudgy yet cakey, the Depression Cake.



Depression Cake
I have played around with the recipe provided by a friend on facebook. It's not mine :)
Serves 2 people, or 1 very happy person :)

You need:
  • 1.5 cups of regular flour (I used the American standard measure). 
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • about 1/3 cup odourless oil
  • 1 cup of water (see note)
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Any essence you want (chocolate goes well with vanilla, coffee, butterscotch, caramel, nutty flavours)
  • Optional: chopped nuts


The How:
  • Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the liquid ones in another.
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the dry, and mix till combined. Do not overmix.
  • Fold in the nuts if using.
  • Pour into a greased pan, and bake at 180 celsius for about 30 minutes. Check post that, if anymore baking is needed.


That's literally it. Let it cool, demould and chop it squares. 

Notes:
  • You can even frost it with a basic ganache and then serve, but to me, it's not necessary.
  • The water mentioned, can also be the same quantity of hot strong coffee. I tried it, and the cake was absolutely delicious.
  • You can sub about 1/3rd cup of almond flour for 1/3rd cup flour.


Eat away my friends, and be merry at such a ridiculously easy cake!

Till the next time!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Chilli Chocolate Wholewheat Almond Tart

I'm going to keep this short because I'm excited and I cannot wait to share this recipe with you lot.

I found it. After months of trial and more errors than I can count, I found it. The perfect tart shell recipe. Whole wheat and Almond tart crust with flaxseeds.

What's more, it's healthy, full of awesome fibres, healthy fats and none of that white flour or white sugar thing. It's eggless, uses flaxseeds and adds another dose of Omega-3 and various minerals with it. It's perfectly chewy from the almonds, has a satisfying wholesome bite and is utterly UTTERLY delicious. Pair it with a stone fruit tart, nutty frangipane filling, apple pie fillings or a dark chocolate ganache (as I did), and it will simply blow you away.

The ganache that I filled it with was a Dark Chocolate ganache, that was spiced with red chilli, clove and cinnamon powder, making it a deep rich and smooth filling that had an underlying warmth from the spices. What an absolutely stunning dessert this was!

So here's the recipe for my Wholewheat Almond Tart, with a spicy Dark Chocolate filling.



Wholewheat Almond Tart, with a spicy Dark Chocolate filling

You need:

For the shell-
  • 1/3rd cup powdered almonds, heaped
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • a tiny pinch of salt
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon powder
  • 2 tbsp chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp, any white flavourless oil
  • 1 flax egg, (1 tbsp flax powder with 3 tbsp water, mixed and let rest for 15 min)

For the ganache- 
  • 300 gms dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 200 ml cream
  • 3 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp clove powder (add it if you have it)

The How:
  • In a pan, take the cream, and add the chilli, cinnamon and clove powder in it. Stir, warm it very gently and steep it for some time away from the heat.
  • Sift together the flour, almond powder, sugar and spices, or pulse a couple of times in a food processor.
  • Add the butter and oil and pulse a couple of times more, it will become like sand.
  • Add the flax egg and pulse a couple of more times, till it sort of comes together, but won't be dry and put together.
  • Take a 9 inch tart tin with a removable bottom, and empty the crumbs into it. Press down with your fingers till the crumbs form an even layer on the base and around the edges.
  • Preheat your oven at 180 celsius and bake it for 20 minutes. Once it's done, let it sit on the countertop and let it cool for a bit.
  • Till then, make the ganache. Heat the cream till it bubbles around the edges, swirl the cream and dump it into the chopped chocolate. Let it rest for 3-4 minutes, then stir till the cream gets incorporated in, and the ganache becomes thick, smooth and shiny. If that doesn't happen, microwave it for 10 seconds (not more, the fats will separate and you will be sad) and stir.
  • To assemble, pour the ganache into the tart shell. Smooth it over with a spatula.
  • Pop into the chiller with a foil loosely covering the surface and keep it for 3-4 hours.
  • Slice and serve!

That's it! It's easy, quick and stunning to taste.

Let me know how it goes :)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Wholewheat Oats Nutbutter Brookie Bites

Okay people, time to get real.

I have long unrealistically horrific working hours sometimes, that makes it well nigh impossible to eat right, sleep enough or wake up early enough to exercise a bit. As a result, I've been putting on some unhealthy weight. Flab around the waist, pants don't seem to fit and shirts look like they're fit to pop a button or two. And I can't have that. Especially when I've controlled a large part of my diet. 

Except the sweet nibbles. I simply cannot seem to stop craving for it. I've applied all the hacks possible, have dates, fruits (ugh) instead. Chew a handful of almonds. Have a glass of fresh juice. Nothing seems to work. The problem compounds itself when most desserts don't translate too well into whole wheat. All desserts are APF, or white flour, something that is really not so good for health. So far, all conversions to whole grain have failed miserably. Heavy, sad cakes and cookies that don't fluff up too well and are eaten only as a last resort.

Except what I made last night. Now weekends are my time to shine and bake (or try to bake) stuff that while it's good, is also marginally healthy. So this came about, while tinkering about. Wholegrain Nut Butter Brookie Bites. Brookies are currently hugely popular thanks to Masterchef, and there are multiple recipes floating about. Essentially brookies are a cross between a brownie and a cookie. My brookies are beautiful chocolatey nuggets, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, made of whole wheat flour, rolled oats, Horlicks, a giant scoop of peanut butter and chocolate. Very delicious, surprisingly filling and makes the house smell like a dream!


Wholewheat Oats Nutbutter Brookie Bites

You need:

  • 11 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp chocolate Horlicks (or regular)
  • 3 tbsp chocolate powder
  • a handful of oats
  • 1 egg
  • 8-9 tbsp oil
  • 9 tbsp sugar
  • 1 heaped tbsp peanut butter (I used chunky, you can smooth if you wish)
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • Optional: chopped or flaked almonds

The how:

  • Sift and reserve the flour, Horlicks, chocolate powder and baking powder.
  • Whisk the eggs and sugar till foamy. Add the oil and mix in.
  • To this add the peanut butter and gently whisk in.
  • Add the sifted dry ingredients and the oats, mix gently to form a dough.
  • Chill the dough in the fridge for 1 hour at least.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree celsius.
  • Grease a baking pan, or line with a silicon mat or parchment paper and place small balls of the dough, about 1/2 tbsp sized. They do not spread, so you can place them about 1/2 inch away from each other.
  • Press an almond flake on top if you're using it, else skip.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • When you take them out to cool, they will feel a bit soft, but they'll crisp up in no time.

That's it! Enjoy with a glass of cold milk and let health save the day!

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