February 29, 2008

French Bread - Daring Baker Challenge February 2008

This is the second episode of the Daring Bakers Callenge on this blog. This month’s hosts, Sara of I Like To Cook and Mary (Breadchick) of The Sour Dough, challenged us to bake Julia Child’s French Bread.
For me, this challenge was a bit like last month’s in that I had never heard of Julia Child (yes, there a few of us)! but I like French bread. So, I got the recipe and instructions and printed it out. A full 14 pages. I have to say that Sara and Mary put in a lot of time and effort to give us background information and helpful hints about baking French bread.
It felt like I was back at school, reading for my class and assignments! But after reading the whole thing twice, I started seeing a glimmer of what we were to do. I have been baking a bit of bread recently with quite good results. So I felt quite comfortable starting off. I decided to halve the quantities. I made the dough and it rose beautifully. Beyond this point, however, things refused to go right. The dough didn’t rise well the second or third time. I was left with rather flat bread which had a hard crust. The inside was soft and tasted good.
I had a little difficulty in coming to terms that this bread had got the better of me. So I decided to give the bread one more go. After all, that’s what makes us Daring Bakers (we are always ready for a baking challenge even if it doesn’t turn out quite the way it should).
I started in the morning last Saturday. The dough was ready for the first rise at 8.00 am. It took 3 ½ hours to rise threefold. By 12 noon the dough was ready for the second rise. This time it took 3 ½ hours to rise to required volume. Next I shaped the dough into a batard and a round loaf. (I should have got more bread out of the given measurements but looks like I went wrong with the measurements somewhere). After another 2 ½ hours, the loaves had risen reasonably and were ready for the oven. I slashed them and managed to get them into the oven without too much of a problem. Then the loaves sort of settled themselves out comfortably and refused to rise (as they should have done) while baking.

As you can see from my picture, my French bread baking wasn’t anywhere near a success. My loaves were flat and rather pale. I must have gone wrong somewhere. Well, you cannot win them all.
The bread itself didn’t require all that much time or effort except for the time it needed to rise. But after two unsuccessful attempts, I think I’ll be better off buying my French bread!
Do not be put off by the appearance of my loaves or my baking experience and do go visiting the other Daring Baker blogs to see their loaves. Most of them have made some great bread.

The complete recipe for this bread can be found here.
Read full post.....

February 26, 2008

Naan ( An Indian Yeasted Flatbread)

One event I have been enjoying cooking for has been the Bread Baking Day. Every time a theme is announced it makes me go look for some new bread I can try my hand at baking. This is my third BBD event.
The first time the theme was “filled breads”. I made a bread with onion, tomato and bell pepper filling and decoratively shaped into a herringbone pattern. Then the next month’s theme turned out to be shaped bread! So I decided to make a flat decorative Onion Fougasse. That’s when this month’s theme turns out to be flat breads! So what’s going on? Seems like I am making this month’s theme the previous month, if you get my drift.

That aside, this month’s theme is flat breads. I realized I didn’t have to venture out of India. We have a thousand kinds (well, I’m exaggerating a bit) of flatbreads made out every kind of grain flour. I decided to make a naan or “naan bread” as it seems to be known in many parts of the world.

A naan is a yeasted flat bread made from wheat flour, traditionally in Northern India but today can be found in every part of the country and has become synonymous with Punjabi food. It is found in many avatars all over Central and South Asia so it must have come into India with early travelers or invaders.

A naan is cooked in a clay oven called a “tandoor” which can reach temperatures of about 500C. The naan is wet on one side and slapped onto the sides of the tandoor to cook till done. The taste of tandoor cooked or “tandoori” naans, or rotis is next to none. But a cast iron griddle on the stove top also works.
Here's how I make naans at home.
Naan ( An Indian Yeasted Flatbread)


2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup warm milk + a bit more, if required

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp dry active yeast

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp oil

3 tbsp yogurt

3/4 tsp baking soda

butter for brushing/ basting

nigella/ onion seeds (kalonji)

sesame seeds (til –I used a mixture of black and white)

finely chopped coriander leaves


Add the sugar and yeast to the milk. Stir and allow yeast to prove.

In a bowl, sieve the flours, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour the yeast mixture into it. Mix well. Now add the oil and yogurt. Knead well into a soft, smooth and elastic dough. Add a little more milk if required if the dough needs it.
I did all this in my food processor. Then I kneaded the dough a bit by hand. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cling wrap and allow the dough to double in size.

Punch back the dough and knead till smooth (about 3 minutes). Cover and allow the dough to rise again till almost double. Divide the dough into 6 balls for big naans or 8 for slightly smaller naans. Keep all the other portions covered while working with one.

Lightly grease your palms and and slightly flatten the dough ball. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into an oval or tear shape that is not too thin. Sprinkle with nigella seeds or sesame seeds and chopped coriander. Use the rolling pin to lightly press them into the dough.

Now take a heavy bottom pan (I use my pressure cooker) or cast iron skillet. This is important as the pan/ skillet needs to be quite hot and thicker/ heavier iron ones heat uniformly and retain the heat.
Heat the pan till quite hot. Turn down the heat to medium. Lift up the naan and wet (with water using your palm) the side without the seeds.
Now place the naan on the pan wet side down and the seeded side up. If your pan is not hot enough at this point, the naan will stick to the pan and not come off later! Allow the naan to cook till it puffs up in places (about 1 -2 minutes). If you keep it longer the underside will burn.


Now lift up the skillet and hold it upside down over the flame so that the heat cooks the seeded side. In a couple of minutes, the top will start browning in spots. Turn down the heat if necessary, else you may end up with a charred naan which has not cooked inside!
Turn the pan right side up and slowly dislodge the naan using a flat spoon. Immediately brush with unsalted butter.

Naan also tastes good warm without buttering it. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Serve warm with a curry of your choice. I made 8 naans, four with nigella seeds and four with sesame seeds and coriander.

These naans can also be made in the oven but I find it more complicated to do so. Maybe this is because I have a small oven and all the manoeuvring of the naan from the oven and the grill becomes too much for me. I also find the stove top method makes soft naans whereas the ones made in the oven tend to be a bit chewy.
These naans are my contribution to BBD # 7 being hosted this month by Petra from Chili und Ciabatta
Read full post.....

February 23, 2008

Eggless Pomegranate Apple Walnut Muffins

Pomegranates are a regular sight at fruit vendors and in the fruit section in supermarkets here in Kochi. We get a variety of pomegranate called “Kabuli” (maybe because they come from Kabul or maybe this variety is originally from thereabouts). This pomegranate has deep ruby red arils and is very sweet and juicy.
We eat the fruit as it is or I add it to salads (gives them a nice sweet and crunchy note) or make “raita” (an Indian yogurt based salad) to serve with parathas or pulav/ biriyani.
When I discovered that this month’s AFAM was pomegranate, I wanted to see if anything different could be made. Google came to rescue, of course, and I found a few recipes I could make. Of these a pomegranate ginger muffin and a pomegranate banana pistachio bread at the POMWonderful site caught my fancy, simply because they were vegetarian and I had the required ingredients at home.
I love bananas but somehow do not like the taste of them in baked food. So I took a bit out of both recipes and made some little additions and subtractions and came up with this recipe.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup pomegranate arils
¾ cup grated apple + 1 ½ tsp lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
3 tbsp oil (I use sunflower + rice bran oil)

Sieve together the flours and baking powder into a bowl. Add the salt, and sugar and mix well. Now add the pomegranate, walnuts and mix. Add the apple and lemon juice. Pour in the milk and oil.
Fold the mixture very lightly till everything is just mixed. Overmixing will spoil the texture of the muffins.
Spoon batter into greased muffin cups/ pans and bake at 200C for about 15 -20 minutes till the tops are golden brown. Cool muffins in the cups for about 10 minutes, remove and cool on a rack.
This recipe gave me 10 domed muffins. My muffin cups are slightly bigger and I filled them with batter so they would be domed. With smaller muffin tins you should get 12 muffins.

The muffins were a little more moist than usual and this is probably because of the pomegranate. While we decided that they were not bad, we unanimously voted to keep our muffins free of pomegranate in future. We will definitely continue eating our pomegranates in our earlier established fashion!
These muffins were made for AFAM Pomegranate at SRA's blog. I am also sending them over to Suganya for WBB: Healthy Eats as they are healthy and great for breakfast. These are also going to Vanamala's Kids Food Event as my daughter loves muffins and I often make them for her.
Read full post.....

February 21, 2008

Spiced Baby Potatoes with Sesame Seeds

This is another of those dishes which features on our menu at home, quite frequently. It is one of Akshaya’s favourites and she loves it with chappatis. I do not remember when or how I came up with this recipe but this combination of steamed/ cooked potatoes coated with spices and sesame seeds is tasty and very easy to put together.

This time I made it with baby potatoes but I usually make it with regular sized potatoes, each cut into 4 -6 pieces.

Spiced Baby Potatoes with Sesame Seeds


1 kg baby potatoes

1 ½ tbsp white sesame seeds

1 ½ tbsp black sesame seeds( you may use only white or only black sesame seeds instead)

¾ tsp kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp cumin seed powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

¼ tsp asafetida powder

salt to taste

1 sprig curry leaves

2 tbsp oil


Cook the potatoes (boil, steam or microwave) till well cooked but firm and not mushy.

As I mentioned above, you can use larger potatoes cut up into chunks, either before or after cooking them. I usually peel the potatoes, cut them up and then microwave them at 100% for 7 -8 minutes.

Now add the salt, the turmeric, chilli and cumin seed powders to the potatoes and gently mix well so that the potatoes are evenly coated with the salt and spice mixture.

In a pan or wok, heat the oil. Turn down the heat to medium and add the sesame seeds. Stir and when they start popping, add the asafetida powder and curry leaves. Stir once (do not allow the asafetida to burn) and add the spiced potatoes. Mix well so the potatoes are coated with the sesame seeds. Continue cooking on low to medium heat for another 5 -10 minutes so that the potatoes become a little crisp. Take off the heat, dish and serve warm as an accompaniment to chapathis or rice.

These little potatoes are going to grace DK's The Potato Fe(a)st,

and to Sia's Ode to the Potato,

as well as The Potato - A Blog Event at Eating Leeds.
Read full post.....

February 17, 2008

Great Cooks Blogroll

I am now a part of the Great Cooks Blogroll. This is a community of bloggers with an interest in food and cooking. If you are interested in joing the community you will find the a Great Cooks Blogroll badge on the leftside of my blog. Click on it and it will take you straight to site.
Read full post.....

Lemon Sandwich Cookies with White Chocolate Creme

Lemons/ limes are frequently used in Indian cooking to give food their characteristic tang as in rasams, salads and other dishes. As far as I know, we use them in larger quantities generally for making pickles.
The first time I made a lemon anything with a lot of lemon, was the Lemon Meringue Pie for the Daring Bakers challenge last month. And I’m not sure I really liked the level of tartness of the lemon filling in that.

I decided to give making lemon cookies a go because I felt that a hint of lemon, without the tartness, would be nice. And I’m happy to say I was proved right. These cookies turned out crisp and full of flavour. This is how I made them.

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup butter (75gm)
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 egg
¼ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
grated rind/ zest from 2 large lemons
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
2 -3 drops yellow food colouring (optional)

White Chocolate Crème:
1 cup grated white chocolate
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
cardamom powder from 3 pods
Melt the chocolate over hot (not boiling) water, add the lemon juice and cardamom powder and stir well. Use up the chocolate crème within 20 minutes or it will start setting and lose its soft consistency.
I made enough for about 8 sandwich cookies, so please adjust the measurements according to your requirement.

Beat the butter and sugar, using an electric beater, till smooth and creamy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the lemon rind and juice and the food colouring and mix well. Sieve the flours, baking powder and salt together. Add this slowly and mix everything into a dough. This dough will be a bit soft. Refrigerate for about an hour.
Take the dough out, lightly grease your palms and pinch of enough dough to shape into a round the size of a large marble. Flatten slightly into a cookie and place on a greased cookie sheet leaving some space between them (they will expand slightly on baking).
If decorating with sugar, sprinkle on top before baking.
Bake at 180C for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack. The cookies will be a little soft when they come out of the oven but will become crisp on cooling. If over baked the cookies will become very hard.
I made most of my lemon cookies plain and kept some as they were and sandwiched the others with the crème. I decorated a few with coloured sugar.
To make your coloured sugar at home, just add a couple of drops edible food colour, of your choice, to ½ a cup of granulated sugar and mix well. You can do this with a variety of colours and store this for use.
Makes 3 ½ dozen cookies.I am sending this in to The Spice Café who is hosting this month’s JFI: Lime/ Lemon.
Read full post.....

February 15, 2008

Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

Happy Valentine’s Day.
Capirotada is what we had last night for dessert. Some credit for this dessert has to go to Sunita because she set me off looking for something different to make using star anise. I was gifted a bottle of this sometime back and have used it only to make biryani, so far. I found a few unusual recipes with star anise but Capirotada caught my fancy. It has an exotic name and then the recipe had so many flavors in it that it seemed impossible they could all complement each other in one dish.
Capirotada is a bread pudding that is common in Mexico and traditionally eaten during Lent. It is made of layers of toasted bread soaked in syrup and with raisins, peanuts, fruit (banana and/ or apple)) and cheese. The syrup is made from water to which a Mexican brown sugar called Piloncillo and spices like cinnamon, cloves, star anise, etc have been added.
Apparently, there are as many variations of this pudding as there are people who make it! What is constant in every Capirotada recipe is a bread base with a spice infused sweet syrup, fruit, nuts and lots of cheese. A salty cheese, and in a large quantity, would seem to be an odd thing to add to a dessert. But there are versions which have onions and tomatoes, too!!

Here’s my version and an Indian edition of Capirotada.

1 medium loaf of day-old sliced bread
(usually bread rolls called “bollillos” are used)
3 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp
4 ½ cups water
1 ¾ cups jaggery (instead of pilonchillo/ brown sugar)
2 sticks of cinnamon
4 cloves
3 star anise
2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese
½ cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
¼ cup slivered blanched almonds
½ cup raisins
2 medium sized bananas, thinly sliced
(you can use thin apple slices as well, proportionately reducing the banana)

If using sliced bread (as I did), remove crusts and butter the slices on one side. Cut each slice into two and place on a cookie sheet (or two sheets) with buttered side facing up. Bake at 180C for 10 -15 minutes till golden brown. I pulsed the peanuts and almonds, separately, in my mixer/ blender jar to just crush them. Otherwise chop them up into pieces.
I used jaggery here as it seems similar to pilonchillo. I also like the flavor that jaggery lends to sweet dishes.
Put the jaggery and water in a pan, stir, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, add the cinnamon, cloves and star anise and simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. The flavours of the spices would have infused into the syrup. Remove the whole spices.

Grease a deep pie dish with ½ tbsp butter (I used my 6” by 6” by 2 ½ “cake tin).
Keep aside about 2 tbsp of the peanuts and ¼ cup grated cheese.
Spread one third of the bread to cover the bottom of the pie dish. Sprinkle half of the remaining peanuts and half of the almonds over this. Now layer half the sliced banana and then half of the remaining cheese over this. Now pour 1 cup of the syrup all over this so that the bread can soak it up.
Repeat this process with another one third the bread, remaining peanuts, almonds, sliced bananas, grated cheese and another 1 cup of syrup.
Now arrange the last one third of the bread pieces. Sprinkle the grated cheese and peanuts that was initially kept aside. Pour the last 1 cup of syrup over this and dot with remaining ½ tbsp butter.
Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 180C for about 25 minutes. Allow to cool for about ½ hour or longer.
Serve warm or cold. This recipe makes 6 portions.

This pudding tastes somewhat like an apple pie in a bread pudding. The flavors of the spice infused syrup were interesting and unusual and there was only a hint of the presence of the cheese.
My daughter wouldn’t go anywhere near it after the first mouthful!
My husband was away on work, again, and managed to make it home just in time for dinner and dessert, which is his favorite part of any meal. He and I liked our dessert and I would definitely be making this again. We also felt that the Capirotada tasted better after being refrigerated (than warm) and the flavours came out better the next day.
So this is being sent across to Sunita for this month’s Think spice, Think Star Anise. Check this link for some more info and a nice write up on Capirotada.
Updated (21st May, 2008):
DK of Culinary Bazaar has been kind enough to include this bread pudding to her A.W.E.D. -Viva Mexicana event which is a collection of Mexican recipes.

Here is the lovely rose Rosie sent me for Valentine's Day. Thank you , Rosie.
Read full post.....

February 12, 2008

Green Tomato and Onion Curry

Green tomatoes are not very easily available where I live. So when I do find them, I tend to buy them in slightly larger quantities. This is something I make whenever I find these tomatoes. There is nothing unusual or spectacular about this recipe. It is very easy to make and I do love it with chappathis and rice.

1kg green tomatoes
2-3 onions, sliced
1 ½ tbsp finely chopped ginger
2 tbsp powdered jaggery (or sugar)
1 ½ tbsp oil
1 ½ tsp mustard seeds
1 ½ tsp black gram (urad) dal
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 ½ tsp kashmiri chilli powder (or to taste)
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp asafetida powder
1 sprig curry leaves
salt to taste

Chop each tomato into 8 pieces (into 4 pieces if the tomatoes are smaller).
Heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the black gram dal and stir. When the dal has browned, add the fenugreek seeds, asafetida powder and the curry leaves. Stir once or twice and add the ginger and onions. Sauté till transparent and soft. Now add the tomatoes and and the remaining ingredients. Mix well and allow to cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, till the tomatoes are cooked (they should be soft but not really mushy) and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Serve with chappathis or rice.
Read full post.....

February 10, 2008

Cardamom Flavored Grape Mini Pies

This recipe was the result of a few events.
I had a big bag of deep purple seedless grapes sitting in my kitchen, which I needed to use up. Entirely my fault, because I couldn’t resist buying them even though I had already shopped for the week’s quota of fruit. I do not know what variety they were, but they were the sweetest grapes I have ever eaten.
Now, one can eat only so much of grapes. And my daughter does not like them. My husband, who loves them, was away on work. So what could I do with the grapes?
Then I saw the announcement for this month’s event at the Mini Pie Revolution HQ.
And having made a somewhat decent Lemon Meringue Pie for the Daring Bakers challenge, I was feeling a bit confident about setting forth in this direction.
I also decided this would be an opportunity to break in my new tartelette moulds.

So I came made up a recipe, and converted the grapes into a pie filling using cardamom (my favourite spice). And found an interesting recipe for the crust. The best part is that this whole recipe requires no egg.
So here’s the recipe:

For the crust:

1 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup corn meal
1 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup (50gm) chilled butter
4 tbsp cold milk
a little extra flour for rolling dough

For the Filling:
1 ½ cups purple seedless grapes
½ tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup sugar ( use more if the grapes are not very sweet)
½ tbsp cornstarch
1 pinch salt
powdered seeds from about 3 cardamom pods (about ½ tsp)

The Crust:
I used the food processor to make the crust. You can do it by hand , if you prefer. Cut the butter into thin strips and put back into the fridge. Put the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt into the processor. Pulse a couple of times t mix everything well. Now add the butter and run the processor, stopping in between, till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Do not overdo this. Now sprinkle the milk over the mixture and after a couple of minutes, run the processor only till the mixture just clumps.
Put the mixture on a lightly floured surface and with minimal handling, bring together and shape into a round. Cover with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for about half an hour. Then roll out as thin as possible and cut out pieces to fit your mini-pie moulds. I used aluminium moulds and so greased them before pressing in the rolled out dough into the mould. Prick the base well, otherwise the base of the crust would push up on baking. Bake at 190C for about 20minutes.

The Filling:
Process (can use a blender) the grapes and lemon juice just so they are broken up. Do not puree. Pour this into a pan, add the sugar (adjust this as required), and salt. Allow to come to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in a little less than ¼ cup of water and add to the grape mixture. Stir well and take off the heat. Add the cardamom powder. Cool.

Assembling the pies:
Spoon the filling into the individual pie crusts, decorate and serve as you like. I used cashew halves sautéed in salted butter. To do this, sauté about 30 cashew halves (till just golden) in 1 ½ tsp melted butter to which a pinch of salt has been added.
This recipe gave me 15 two bite-sized mini pies.

This crust is tasty and crunchy (probably because of the cornmeal) and I will definitely use it again. If you are not serving the pies immediately, the crust can be stored in an airtight container and filled just before serving. Otherwise the pies become soft.
My daughter’s first reaction was, “Not another pie, Amma”! But she loved the crust (she always prefers the crust to the filling) and grudgingly admitted that the filling was “not too bad”. I am happy that I’ve found a way to make her eat grapes!! The pies also got the thumbs up from all the others who had them.

These are off to sweeten Mini Pie Revolution #2.
Read full post.....

February 8, 2008

Just Doughnuts!

When Tartelette and Peabody said, “Its Time To Make The Doughnuts”, I thought why not?
When studying for my degree, doughnuts were a regular feature for some time in my life. We used to have classes according to schedule but lots of times, some Prof or the other would juggle some of our classes. For a couple of terms, this meant that we were running for classes from one department to another (they were sometimes 10 -15 minutes of walking away), and didn’t have too much time to eat lunch.
There was this little store that was on the way to my classes where we used to get fresh doughnuts, and other stuff, everyday. As students, we would go and buy whatever food we wanted (no prizes for guessing, I mostly bought doughnuts!) and then have that for lunch. I know, what terrible food habits we survived on, then.
Getting back to the matter on hand, I decided this was the perfect “prompt” to make some doughnuts. My daughter enthusiastically cheered me on. My husband wasn’t far behind.
I dug up a recipe I had collected sometime back (I have plenty of these recipes waiting to see the light of day), made a few adjustments to suit me and fried us some doughnuts.

1½ tsp active dry yeast
½ cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup butter (50gm)
¼ cup sugar
½ cup hot milk
1 tsp salt (I omitted this as I used salted butter)
3 ½ cups to 3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
oil for deep frying

To the warm milk and 1 tsp sugar, add the yeast, mix and allow to prove. In a bowl whisk together the butter, sugar and hot milk till the butter melts and sugar dissolves. Allow this to cool a bit. Then add the egg and whisk till mixed. Add about 2 ½ cups flour to this. Mix and add the yeast. Now add as much of the rest of the flour as needed to make a smooth elastic dough. Cover and allow to double in volume.
Now punch down the risen dough lightly and divide into two. Keep one half covered. Roll out the other half with a rolling pin, without too much pressure, till about one third an inch thick. Use flour minimally to rollout dough. Cut out the doughnuts with a cutter. Repeat with the other half. I used a steel glass with sharp edges for the outer circle and a water bottle cap for cutting out the inside. Keep on a lightly greased tray for about 20 minute so the doughnuts (and holes) rise a little.
Heat the oil. When sufficiently hot, deep fry 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time, over low to medium heat, till golden brown on both sides. Fry the holes/ middles, too. Drain on paper towels.
When still warm, shake doughnuts (and holes/ middles in a paper bag with powdered sugar and cinnamon to coat. If glazing, make the glazes by mixing the ingredients for each glaze to get a liquid of coating consistency, i.e., the glaze should coat the back of a spoon dipped in the glaze. Hold each doughnut and dip one side in glaze of choice (the glazes I used are given below) and place on a rack. Remember to keep a plate underneath to catch the dripping glaze.
I didn’t use a chocolate glaze because I wanted to try out other glazes.

and some plain "holes"

For glazing:
Sugar and Cinnamon Coating:
¼ cup sugar and ½ tsp cinnamon powdered together.

Honey glaze:¼ cup icing sugar
¾ tbsp honey
1 tbsp boiling water

Coffee glaze:
¼ cup icing sugar
½ tsp instant coffee powder (dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water)
1 tbsp boiling water
pinch of salt

Plain glaze:
¼cup icing sugar
¾ tbsp boiling water
chocolate/ coloured sugar sprinkles
The quantities for the glazes are what I used (on the lower side) since I dipped only a few doughnuts in each type of glaze. Please adjust the measurements according to your requirements.
These doughnuts and the holes (middles) were very nice, soft and spongy without being yeasty. The glazed versions were also good but I think I prefer mine just plain or coated lightly with cinnamon sugar.
I will definitely make doughnuts again but will try the baked version next time around. I’m afraid I didn’t get to count how many this recipe made (I think about 15) because they got eaten so quickly. I just about managed to get a picture, though not a very good one!
This goes over to join the doughnut family at Time To Make The Doughnuts.
Read full post.....

February 6, 2008

Keerai Mulagootal (Amaranth Leaves in a Coconut and Lentil Gravy) Microwave and Stovetop Versions

This is a dish that is truly Palakkad Iyer cooking. I have come across somewhat similar versions in Tamil Iyer homes but not the Palakkad version. A Mulagootal (some call it Milaikootal) can be prepared with a variety of one or a combination of usually two vegetables like raw plantain (vazhakkai), elephant yam (chenai), yard long beans (payaru/ achinga), ash gourd ( elavan/ kumbalanga), pumpkin (maththan) , etc. and “English” vegetables like beans, peas, cabbage, carrots, etc. Whatever the vegetables you use, the mulagootal can be prepeared the same way.
This is a bland dish as it has very little or no spice added to it in the form of chillies or pepper. Yet it is extremely tasty.

This mulagootal of mine is made with “Keerai” (Amaranth leaves). There are a whole variety of these leaves which we cook in different ways. For the purpose of this post, I will divide amaranth leaves by colour – green and red. Mulagootal can be made with both coloured leaves, but when it comes to taste, the green variety of amaranth (especially what we know in Tamil as “arkeerai”) scores over the red.

I usually microwave most of the vegetables I need for daily cooking as they retain their colour and firmness (except some which acquire the softness and required consistency for traditional cooking only if pressure-cooked). I prefer to use my pressure cooker for lentils as I don’t like cleaning up the mess caused by microwaving larger quantities of lentils. I also find the pressure cooker takes less time than the microwave to cook lentils to the consistency (whether just cooked and firm or mushier) that I need for most Indian dishes. So I tend to use a combination of cooking methods in my kitchen.
The morning I saw that this month’s event at Srivalli’s blog was centred around greens, I was planning to make Keerai Mulagootal. So I made it in the microwave (MW) this time. The procedure may look voluminous, but this actually very easy and doesn’t take time to cook.

2 cups green amaranth leaves, mashed
¾ cup red gram dal, cooked and mashed (tuvar)
½ tsp oil + 1 tsp oil
1 tsp black gram dal (urad dal)+ 1 tsp black gram dal
3 tbsp grated coconut
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp chilli powder (optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds
For tempering/ tadka:
1 tsp mustard seeds and urad dal each

Initial preparation:

Clean the leaves wash and cut up the leaves and tender parts of the stem into big pieces using kitchen scissors or a knife. I have a pair of scissors I keep for this and cutting up herbs. I also advise immersing the leaves for about half an hour (if using fresh leaves) in water to which about 2 tsps of salt (or turmeric powder) has been added. This ensures that all those little germs/ bugs we can’t see (but are there) are taken care of!
Now place the leaves in a MW-safe bowl, sprinkle a handful of water, cover the bowl loosely and MW at 100% for about 6 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes and allow to cool. Put the leaves and whatever liquid is with it into the blender and pulse once or twice to mash. Do not puree.
I don’t cook tuvar dal in the MW. If you do, please cook it as you would such that you have a cooked dal that can be mashed well.
In another dish put ½ tsp of oil. MW at 100% for 1 minute. Add 1 tsp of urad dal and MW at 100% for about 1 ½ minutes. By now the the dal should be light brown. Remove this dal and put it in a mixer blender. Now add the cumin seeds and the coconut and grind everything to a fine paste using water as required. Keep aside.

Final Preparation:
In a deep dish, put 1 tsp of oil. MW at 100% for a minute. Add the mustard seeds and the other 1 tsp of urad dal, cover loosely and MW at 100% for 1 ½ minutes. The mustard seeds would have spluttered and urda dal browned. Now add the mashed amaranth leaves and tuvar dal, turmeric and chilli powders, salt and 3 cups of water. Mix well. MW this at 100% for 6 minutes. Mix well and further MW at 60% for another 6 to 8minutes till the mulagootal is slightly thick but of pouring consistency (little thicker than a sambhar).
Serve hot with rice and a spicy accompaniment like pachadi or thogayal (will do a post later) .

Stovetop Method:
The ingredients and method are the same, just that the cooking is done on the stovetop.
This is going to be a part of MEC: Greens at Cooking 4 All seasons.
Read full post.....