Category Archives: Main Course

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We as a family love Indian food. My sister in law had come over to visit us and I was in a cooking spree. One of the things that she wanted to have before she left was an Indianized Pizza. So I made her a “Vegetable Pizza with Indian spices”. I made the pasta sauce using onion & tomatoes. To give it a little twist I added bell peppers and carrots too. It was a nice change to the usual sauce I’ve made so far. As you would know by now that I am not a big fan of Pizzas. My husband always says that “ only things that are prepared at home are my favorites” and since I don’t like pizzas they are never made in my kitchen:). lol!. The last time I made Pizza was a very long time back, here it is -Pizza Margherita.

The sauce was a very simple one but loaded with veggies,thus making it healthy. Similarly, I replaced half of the all-purpose flour with Whole wheat pastry flour to make it slightly healthy. I had picked up a canned tomato sauce(not the usual Heinz sauce/ketchup) from Trader Joe’s that came handy; it looked more like a paste though. It gave the sauce a nice red color and tasted great too. Everyone was happy with the pizza, it had the perfect crunchy base, loaded with veggies and not to forget the main ingredient Cheese. It was super cheesy and delicious!

VEGETABLE PIZZA WITH INDIAN SPICES

PIZZA BASE
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon yeast
2/3 cup warm milk plus as required
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1.5 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Make the dough – In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 2/3 cup warm milk and yeast. Set it aside for about 10 minutes. Add all the other ingredients and mix on low speed. Gradually add more milk if required to make a soft dough. Knead for about a minute. Transfer to a greased glass bowl, cover with plastic and let It rise for about 1.5 – 2 hours, until doubled in size.

PIZZA SAUCE
Ingredients:

1.5 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1/3 cup bell pepper chopped
¼ cup carrot grated
½ cup tomato paste/sauce
½ teaspoon chili powder/ cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala/pav bhaji masala
Salt as per taste
Topping – Onions, bell pepper, corn, pineapple, spinach and mozzarella cheese
Blanch the tomatoes for about ten minutes. Peel the skin and mash it. Heat oil in a pan, add onions and sauté until light brown. Slowly add the paste and tomatoes. Mix in the bell pepper and carrot. Allow it to cook for a bit,until all the water evaporates. Lastly, add the salt, chili powder and garam masala. Mix and set it aside.

Base – When the dough has risen, knock it back and divide into six balls and roll out each onto a work surface. Spread the sauce over each pizza base and top with the vegetables (topping ingredients).
Preheat the oven at 400F. Bake the pizzas in the oven until the bases are crisp ; golden brown around the edges and cheese has melted.

Bon Apetite!

Nina

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I am sure each of us has some recipes that never turn out right; well at least I do have a few. To start with I can never make good kebabs using lentils. Have tried and wasted enough and now given up. I have also never made right textured caramel… End up thinking “did I get the right amber color” and most times it’s overdone, turns hard and sometimes even burnt! Another recipe for which I have not quite got the right formula is the Falafels.There is something fundamentally wrong I’ve been doing.Tried different recipes, different techniques…but somehow never have got the hang of it. Baking them is fine, but then they definitely don’t turn out as tasty as the fried ones. As much as I would love to make them, the perfect Falafel remains a mystery to me!

Every time I come across the word “Falafel” my eyes lit up….tell myself at least this time….Umm…err no, forget it!. I came across the Falafel Stuffed Eggplant recipe in Joanne’s blog who had adapted it from Cooking Light, I had bookmarked it immediately. It was baked, so I had no second thoughts. The recipe was loaded with flavors and I was damn sure it would be great.

FALAFEL – STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH TAHINI AND TOMATO RELISH

Tahini sauce:

3 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced

Eggplant:

2 eggplants (about 12 ounces each)
Cooking spray
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 large eggs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

Relish:

1 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/2 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion ( I used white onions)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

To prepare sauce, combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, and stir with a whisk. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 475°.To prepare eggplant, slice the eggplants in half lengthwise; score cut sides with a crosshatch pattern. Place the eggplant halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 475° for 7 minutes or until slightly tender and browned. Remove from oven; carefully scoop out pulp, leaving a 3/4-inch shell. Reserve pulp for another use. Season cut sides with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, onion, and next 11 ingredients (through chickpeas) in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon 1/2 cup chickpea mixture into each eggplant shell.( I completely covered the eggplant, you may choose to just use it in the centre) Bake at 475° for 25 minutes or until eggplant halves are tender and chickpea mixture is lightly browned. To prepare relish, combine the tomato and remaining ingredients in a bowl; stir to combine. Place 1 eggplant half on each of 4 plates. Top each half with 1/4 cup relish and 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce.

The Baked Falafel was overloaded with yummy flavors ie., ground cumin, garlic and cilantro. The eggplant was so soft and tasted great with the falafel.

Surprisingly my favorite was the sauce, just plain simple ingredients whisked to a perfect topping. Do not omit the sauce it’s something you would really enjoy, trust me:).If you love Falafels…am sure you would love this one too.

Bon Appetit!

Nina

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Remember those days when Vegetarians(mainly the bachelors)traveling abroad carried a lot of homemade pastes,MTR ready to eats,easy to cook meals etc,often attracting the attention of the customs.This made me wonder if it was indeed difficult to survive as a veggie in the US. It’s a common misconception people have about the scarcity of Vegetarian food.Things have changed dramatically in the past few years owing to an increase in the Indian Immigrant population.Most restaurants cater to the needs of vegetarians giving them a fair deal.Two days back, P and I we went to TGIF and were bowled over seeing a customized menu card for vegetarians.

Of course there are times when we have to compromise on our likings, like am fond of Burgers and I dont find any Veggie ones in any of the Burger joints like a Mc Donalds,Wendys or even in Burger King.I cudnt care less as there are many other things to indulge on and enjoy.

I belong to school of thought that any food with the right blend of spices and timely cooking will taste as good regardless of whether it has meat or not.And I enjoy conversations with my ardent Non vegetarian friends on the same.Recently,a friend of mine argued on Biryani being the best when cooked with meat.According to him, a true Biryani is with either Mutton or Chicken and there is no such thing called Vegetable Biryani .While I can understand the tastebuds of my fellow Non Veg friends,I took it as a friendly challenge and made this spicy,aroma filled Vegetable Biryani(Basmati Rice layered with spices and vegetables).The word “Biryani” is a Persian word which means fried before cooking?.This is a very popular dish in India,Pakistan,Iraq(my recent visit to a Kurdish restaurant helped me taste some,will talk about it in my next post),Afghanistan etc.There are also different types of Biryani ,Hyderabadi Biryani being the most popular one. Needless to say this was a royal dish for the Nawabs and Nizams.

I did mention about the origin of Pulao in my earlier post on Tawa Pulao.The difference between a Pulao and Biryani is – In Pulao the vegetables and rice are stirred/mixed before cooking,where as in Biryani the vegetables and rice are layered during cooking.And also Biryani is made more spicy and colorful,thus being my fav one too!

VEGETABLE BIRYANI

Prep Time – 20min
Start to Finish – 45-50min
Servings – 5

Ingredients :

For the masala (to be grinded to a smooth paste)

Ginger  an inch
Garlic  2 large pods
Red Onion 1
Tomato  1 small
Poppy seed  2 tbsp
Mint leaves  a few leaves
Coriander leaves  2tbsp
Chilli powder  1 tbsp

Main Ingredients:

Basmati Rice  2 cups
Ghee 6 tbsp
Bay leaf 1
Red Onion  1 (sliced)
Cashewnuts and Raisins  3 tbsp (roasted in li’l bit of ghee)
Tomatoes  2 chopped (I used Roma tomatoes)
Boiled Vegetables (Carrots,French Beans,Peas,Cauliflower,Potato)  2- 3 cups chopped to an inch thickness
Black Pepper corns  1 tsp
Milk  3 tbsp
Coriander Powder  1 tbsp
Cilantro – 3 tbsp
Saffron a pinch(soak in 3 tbsp warm milk/water)
Cinnamon  2 sticks
Cardamom  4 nos
Salt to taste

Method :

1.Cook rice along with salt and ensure each and every grain is separated. Mix saffron and allow it to cool.
2.Heat Ghee (4 tbsp),add Bay leaf,Cinnamon Sticks,Cardamom,Pepper corns and Onions. Saute the Onions until translucent,add the masala paste(already grinded),turmeric powder and Coriander powder. When you see the Oil separating from the sides,add the tomatoes and saute for few minutes.
3.Now add the boiled vegetables,salt and coriander leaves.Cook for a while until you see the veggies completely coated with the masalas.If needed, you may add  cup of water.
4.Preheat the oven to 375F,on a large baking pan,smear ghee(remaining) in the bottom,spread one layer of cooked rice,cashewnuts and raisins and then spread li?l bit of the vegetable gravy on top,thus forming layers of vegetables,nuts and rice.End it with the rice,sprinkle milk and ? tsp of ghee on the top.
5.Cover and bake for 20min.Serve hot along with raita.Also, if you wish you may turn it upside down before serving.

The Rice already has salt in it,hence be careful when you add salt to the veggies.You may also add grated Paneer at the end,this would give a richer taste.And trust me,after baking the Aroma that it brings is simple mind blowing.

This is off to “Ravishing Rice” event hosted my Nags of the Edible Garden,originally started by Meeta of Monthly mingle

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Think about hot Jowar/Akki Rotis (unleavened bread made of millet/rice flour) along with the mouth watering Badnekayi Yennegayi(Brinjal/Eggplant Gravy), eh???? Yes am talking about North Karnataka Food.The Kamat groups in Bangalore,India makes one of the finest North Karnataka cuisines.The lunch they serve is mindblowing a typical meal consists of Jowar Roti along with the trademark Badnekayi Yennegayi(Eggplant gravy),Kaalu (a lentil curry),Kosambri(salad),Palya(any veggie curry),Sambhar,Saaru(Rasam),Curd and a yummy dessert.Few of the sweets that I remember is “Dharwad Peda”,”Antina Undi”( meaning laddus made with edible gum and nuts),Yellu Holige (Indian bread made with Sesame seeds and jaggery). Once in India,I happened to get inside Hotel Kamat Lokaruchi’s kitchen where I saw women make Jowar and Akki Roti’s with so much ease,they used their hands instead of rolling pins.

In India, at my workplace hot Akki Rotis were served along with a spicy gravy made of Onion,tomato and peas for breakfast which I’ve always enjoyed .I have also tried making them many a times and failed miserably.However,the usual Akki Rotis using rice flour and onions are easy to make,but the dry ones have always been a challenge.

Jes like the way I think Strawberries are the best fruit,i think Brinjal/Eggplants are the best vegetables.I simply love them,there is so many recipes one can think of using them.Similar to Badnekayi Ennegayi,in Tamilnadu “Yennaikathirikai” is made,where in Eggplant is almost soaked in oil,however a tasty one!

Generally ,the consumption of peanuts & sesame seeds are more in this cuisine.Thanks to Ramya and Mangala for their wonderful recipes.I made Akki roti from Mangala Bhatt’s Recipe24x7 and Yennegayi Badnekayi from Ramya‘s Mane Adige. I did make some changes to suit our taste buds.

AKKI ROTI

Ingredients:

Rice  2 cups
Urad Dal 2 tbsp
Cucumber 1(grated)
Rice flour – 4 tbsp for dusting/rolling
Salt – as per taste

Method :

1.Soak Rice and Urad dal for about 3-4 hrs
2.Use cucumber to grind the Rice and Urad Dal together.
3.Make a fine paste and pour the paste onto a dry Pan/Kadai and keep stiring.This part is li’l difficult,because lumps form very easily.Keep stiring till you end up with a dough like consistency.Allow it to cool.Knead again,you need to apply a lot of pressure on hands.Use rice flour for dusting and make rotis using a rolling pin and bake without oil on low flame.

These Rotis taste very good when served hot.Two rotis leftover from previous days turned out hard.So this one is best when fresh.This measurement makes 10-12 rotis.Before serving,drop a li’l butter on top of it for better taste.Also, as per the original recipe,2hrs of soaking time is good enough.

Mangala has listed yummy recipes in her blog,do check out her mouthwatering and attractive recipes.The reason I said attractive is because of the pictures in her blog,she has presented it very well,each and every pic of hers would make anyone drool.

BADNEKAYI YENNEGAYI

Eggplant/Brinjal 8 nos(small purple ones)
Tamarind 1/4 cup extract (I soaked a lemon sized tamarind ball in water)
Onion 1 cup (finely chopped)
Green chilly  2 slit (optional)
Mustard Seeds  1 tsp
Curry leaves a few
Asafoetida/hing  a pinch
Jaggery 1tsp
Oil  2 tbsp

For the Masala/filling -

Coconut 1/2 cup
Coriander seeds  2 tbsp
Red chillies  8nos
Cumin seeds 1/2 tbsp
Peanuts 1/4 cup
Sesame seeds  1 tbsp
Onion  1 small (roughly chopped)

Method

1.Dry roast all the filling ingredients(except coconut and onions) and grind them alongwith the coconut and onions.
2.Vertically/lengthwise make two slits in the eggplant,jes till the end but not completely chopping it off from its head. Retain the stalk.
3.Stuff the filling mixture inside the slits.The remaining filling masala can be used for the gravy.
4.Heat Oil in a Pan.Temper with Mustard seeds,hing,green chillies and curryleaves.Add onions and saute for about 2 mins.
5.Drop the stuffed Eggplant one by one,gently mix them along with the onions.Close the lid and let it cook for 10mins.
6.Add Tamarind water,the remaining masala,salt,Jaggery and required amount of water.
7.Close the lid again and allow it to cook.Once they turn soft,check for the required consistency and switch off the flame.

I prefer semi gravy consistency,as it goes well with rice too. Serve hot with Akki Roti and enjoy the delicacies of North Karnataka.Ramya‘s blog is an apt place to look for Karnataka Cuisine.I sometimes feel nostalgic reading her blog:).Thanks again Ramya!

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