Saturday, July 30, 2011

#138 Gode Vaal Chi Kichdi /Maharashtrian Vaal Bean Rice

My Deccan upbringing has given me beautiful memories of Maharashtrian food and recipes that my Mom's helper "Bai" (as we called her) cooked up. A simple dish made on festival mornings or religious ceremonies served with a large dollop of ghee or yogurt and pickle,  "Bai" used to make this dish with fresh Vaal  found in markets in Maharashtra and I loved this Khichdi very much. Along with Khichdi comes memories of  favorites my Mom made like Moong Dal Shira, Thalipith, Batata Vada, Bhakharvadi, Puran Poli, Pitla and Aamti. "Tilgul ghya aani Goad Goad Bola" --the taste and the sweet goodness of sesame seeds.

Khichdi is considered the most healing and nourishing meal for vegetarians. Being a one-pot meal with rice, lentils and spices it was quick to put together for serving large groups of people. The idea of a Khichdi is to start just rice and lentil cooking in a pot and adding ingredients to make it  as luxurious as possible with clarified butter and the choicest vegetables as you wish. Now, some of you may ask "Did Bai use Brown rice?". I would have to say "Of course not!".  It's funny that no recipe of mine is branded "authentic" and my adventurous experiments led me to use brown rice, omit peanuts and add tomato instead.

My recipe is simple but flavored with chiilies, coconut paste, garlic, tamarind and jaggery and loaded with protein from the Vaal to produce one of the best tasting rice dishes I've tasted. Goda Masala is a local mix that I have never been able to recreate like Bai did, so I've substituted with a store bought one.

1 cup White Vaal beans- soaked for 20 mins
2 cups Brown rice
5 garlic cloves
2 inch piece of ginger
Cilantro with stems- 1/2 cup
Dessicated coconut- 1/4 cup
Green chillies- 3
Tamarind extract- 2 tspn
Goda Masala- 2 tspn
Haldi- 1/4 tspn
Asafoetida- 1-2 pinches
Jeera/Cumin Seeds- 1 pinch
Onions- 1/2 chopped
Tomato- 1 chopped.
Salt and oil as needed

1. Heat some oil add a pinch of jeera and then the onions.Saute until translucent.
2. Add the tomtaoes and saute until the mixture is mushy and soft.
3. Pressure cook the dried Vaal in some water until just cooked.
4. In a stew pot, add the washed drained brown rice and about 3 cups water and salt.
5. In a blender grind to a smooth paste the coconut, garlic, ginger, cilantro, green chillies with about
1 cup water.
6. Add the above paste in the pot along with the rest of the ingredients except the Vaal.
7. Cover and cook on low fire until the rice is just soft enough but no water remains.
8. Add the Vaal and toss together with a fork until evenly distributed. When serving add 1 tspn ghee and serve with pickle or salad.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

#137 Desi Tandoori Chicken goes Japanese

What do you think about Broken Dolls Day? Children have a mind of their own and sometimes the sentiments that matter most to them maybe really trivial, but we learn simple facts from our children. I was reading about a Japanese Memorial day -June 3rd is a Memorial to Broken Dolls Day in Japan. On this day, it is believed that all broken dolls are taken by the children to Buddhist shrines for proper funeral rituals. Children may have their dolls enshrined and offer flowers at the alter and pay their respects. What a great way to teach children to respect something they cherished for some time or showered them with joy and returning the love they shared. It had always struck me as rude that a toy can be a beloved object one day and when it breaks it is destined for the trash heap the next.

It reminded me of a time when V(my younger daughter) was about 6 yrs old and she insisted on having an Aquarium with Goldfish in it.  We started her out with a couple of Goldfish from the Pet store. From time to time, we got a new one for her as a treat. Now, she was so anxious to clean the aquarium that at least one poor Goldfish floated to the top the very next day.  Even though we tried to talk her out of it, she insisted on cleaning the water out herself, and Goldie's demise always made her cry. She even requested that I hold a funeral in respect for Goldie in the backyard, and this seemed to help her overcome the deep sorrow she felt. I am sure it helped her accept reality and get inner peace because she always bounced right back to her chatty little self after we paid due respect to Goldie.

We learn so much from our children don't we? Now that she is an adult, it is fun to recollect these cute little stories of the past:) However, all the credit for this sushi idea was brought about by N -my older daughter who loves creative food!!

When we talk about Japan, sushi comes to mind. Sushi is one of the most popular dishes not only in Japan but has also spread worldwide.

There are many types of sushi depending on the ingredients that are used to make it. Be it maki rolls or nigiri they are typically dipped in a soy based sauce with accompaniments like wasabi paste and pickled ginger. Maki is the kind of sushi that adds a level of complexity by having to roll the mixture in a sheet of 'nori', maki sushi can contain more ingredients or less  and may be changed as you wish.  We all love sushi knowing that it's more fun to make and eat with a tiny cup of Sake!  Although our visits to Sushi Restaurants are pretty frequent, I created my twist on this Asian treat with leftover Tandoori style chicken and other veggies of my choice to come up with something colorful and unique.

You may call this bizarre and not Japanese. What? Indian style Sushi? But Bizarre foods are not always that bad...Many may scoff at what Andrew Zimmerman consumes on Bizarre Foods but food like pigs feet, tongue and stomach lining have been considered delicacies right here in the US for many years.  Let me make it clear to all my Foodie readers that I am always experimenting with recipes and this time N my first born came up with this idea about Indian style sushi so I had to try it out. In my kitchen dishes may start as authentic recipes and turn into unique creations with twists of my own so you please bear with me. The authenticity or roots of a recipe are not of significant importance as compared to the actual taste, flavors and love that goes into converting a recipe from paper into an edible presentable creation!!

I have friends who always use smoked ham hocks for cooking greens and refuse to eat greens cooked without them and then others who enjoy a fresh beef tongue sandwich. This is my creation, Sushi -indian style without raw fish in it and there is nothing bizarre about it. On the other hand, you will be stunned by the surpising burst of tandoori flavor when you pop the little roll in your mouth and that is truly worthwhile. What is bizarre to one may be a culinary treat for another so try this out and you will experience a fine culinary bundle of goodness !!

The tasty morsels you see below are all assembled with pride and were so much fun to work with, they are inside-out rolls with Spinach leaves instead of Nori, and when you pop them in your mouth they explode into a little surprise of spicy chicken, veggies and rice. Mint chutney to dip into makes a little mouthful of heaven!!

So if you feel this is up your is an absolutely wonderful little appetizer that anyone can try without the fear of raw fish.

1 Bunch of fresh Spinach leaves without the stems
microwaved on a plate just enough
to maintain their shape.
2 cups of sushi rice
water, Mirin- 2Tblpsns, sugar-1 tspn
Scallion- green part of one
Avocado- 1/2 sliced into long strips
Red Pepper-1/2 sliced into long strips
Leftover Tandoori chicken shredded- 1 cup
Cilantro or Mint leaves- a handful
Mint Chutney- 1/2 cup
Rice Paper Wraps- 2 dipped in hot water for a minute and removed dry

1. Cook the rice with enough water, mirin and sugar until well cooked and sticky.
2. Spread the softened rice paper wraps on a towel or bamboo mat. I found it easier to use a towel instead of my bamboo sushi mat since there was no nori and a rice paper lined towel helped to roll the rice tighter.
3. Scoop the cooked rice and spread over the entire rice paper wrap but in the shape of a rectangle as thin as you can.
4. The rice should hold together so that rolling is easy without breaking the rolls.
5. Now gently place the Spinach leaves one at a time and spread with cilantro or mint  leaves in between.
6. In the middle of this rectangle, spread a line of shredded Tandoori chicken, scallion, red pepper and avocado sticks.

7. When the arrangement looks something like the above, get ready to roll it all.
8. Very carefully hold the rice paper along with the towel and start rolling in a way that the mixture in the
center is not disturbed or moved. Be gentle but roll tightly enough over the mixture from one side.
9. Keep rolling one or two more times with the rice paper but make sure to let go of the towel as you roll.
10. Roll and press together to encase the mixture completely with the rice and rice paper tightly and cover with towel.
11. Refrigerate in the same manner for about 2-3 hours before slicing with a sharp knife dipped in hot water.
12. Serve with Mint chutney and soy sauce.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

#136 Spicy Sindhi Sweet and Savory Chili Pickle

Cravings motivate me to rewind and re-create recipes from the past  -how about you? what energizes your culinary skills?...Last week I had a compelling urge to eat something hot, sweet and tart along with my parathas!  It has been a fairly long time since I had such a strong craving for hot and tart pickle......& it is almost two decades and more since my younger daughter was born:).  

This was a simple temptation from the memory of an heirloom pickle my Mother used to make many years ago. Her cousin was married to a Sindhi gentleman who introduced this recipe into the family and my Mom picked it up from this cousin. I picked up the phone and dialed out to Mom.  "Amma, do you remember the chilli pickle you made decades back that was the favorite of all my cousins, uncles and aunts? Do you still have the recipe in your recipe book?" . I was thrilled when she said "of course" and a minute later she is reading out the ingredients and directions to me over the long distance phone-line:)

I owe it to the invention of the telephone and technology!! I put the ingredients together and satisfied my cravings, only after I was determined to add my own twist adding some pitted dates..
Finger hot chillies or any green chillies- 1 lb
Pitted dates-10 oz cut into half
Ginger-3 inch cube chunk
Garlic-3 bunches cloves separated
Methi seeds powdered-4 tspn
Mustard seeds powdered- 3 Tblspn
Oil-1 cup
Tamarind Concentrate- 3-4 tspns
Vinegar-2 cups
Brown sugar- 1cup
Salt to taste.

I am sending this pickle recipe to an event hosted by
1. Chop both ginger and garlic cloves after removing their skins, to very fine bits.
2. Start with warming the oil in a deep pan and then slowly add the ginger and garlic.
3.Saute until they just run brown in color. Meanwhile slit the green chillies half way down keeping
the stems intact.

4.Now, add the green chillies and saute in oil until completely soft. Add the dates,
5. Add all of the remaining ingredients and no water at all and cook down until the
sauce is thickened well.

6. Make sure no water is added and all ingredients are dry to preserve the pickle for a few weeks
and maintain the freshness.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

#135 Icy Cold Falooda

This year the heat wave is scorching thousands of people across the US and even causing deaths in many states. Would you believe that Minneaplois was at 119 degrees a few days back? Extremely high temperatures are spiking upto three digits for the last few days and has caused extreme discomfort to the busy life here.  The excruciating heat index feels much higher and the humidity hits your face when walking out the door.  There is no solution for natural weather changes and this may be a normal Summer in many countries, but this time we have to find a solution to stay healthy for the next few days.  The best way to beat the heat is to keep hydrated, avoid  alcoholic beverages and stay indoors if possible. Hope all of you out there are staying cool and healthy!!

Maybe it's time for an Alaskan vacation!!  Just the other day I was down at the Asian Shopping Center(Eden Center) in Falls Church and picked up a layered dessert---with coconut milk, tapioca beads and noodles(you know what I am talking about?). A cold layered dessert is just perfect for this kind of weather- don't you think?   I like to pick up new combinations of Tofu or Soy products from the Tofu store in the area but this time I went for the ice cold treat. I thought to myself-- do we always have to make dessert from scratch every time we have a sweet craving? Why not scoop up a bowl of fruits and enjoy the cool juiciness of the natural sugars? Naah!! I have been eating watermelon and cantaloupe for the last few weeks and now I would love a decadent cold treat !!

Aside from the obvious ways of dessert making, like calling your Mom for an Indian Mithai recipe or looking up a cookbook, there is a whole different way you can incorporate desserts into your diet like eating one and thinking of recreating another.... LOL!!

So here I am eating this Asian dessert when a thought occured to me.  I remembered the Falooda that I made for my little girls many summers ago.... a treat not only for their eyes but also for their little tummies. I loved to see their little eyes sparkling up at the tall glasses in the fridge and immediately asking if they could start with dessert rightaway!!

1 tall glass cold Milk
1-2 ounces falooda sev or thin glass noodles
1 tspn rose extract(available in Ethnic groceries)
1 tspn of falooda seeds/takmaria seeds(available in Indian grocery stores)
Sugar-1/2 cup
RoohAfzah- 2 Tblspns
Pista or Plain Kulfi Ice cream(I used the Reena brand ice cream cups available at most Indian grocery stores
this is a must have or you can use Mango ice cream if you prefer)

When making a layered mousse, milk shake or ice cream sundae there are no restrictions on the ingredients, its almost like going to a Coldstone Creamery and picking what you would like in and on top of your ice cream. So if you are unable to find the Ethnic ingredients that I have named, no need for can use glass noodles, tapioca beads, strawberry milk and top it off with simple pistachio or plain old vanilla ice cream. Some of these ideas may sound silly but the point is just to show you how you can easily compensate the ingredients stated in a recipe with others that are readily available in your pantry and still come up with an incredibly perfect layered ice cream shake you can enjoy this time of year. Or if you prefer to make this exotic drink called Falooda,  I can assure you, your taste buds and stomach will thank you for  it.

1. Soak the Falooda seeds in water for at least an hour.
2. Boil the noodles in water for about 10 mins until soft. Drain and cook in a sugar and water for 5-10 mins. Add seeds and keep aside. If you can get *Roohafzah use that instead of the sugar, water and red color.
3. Add a little red coloring to the seeds and noodles mix, and allow it to cool.
4. Shake up the glass of cold milk along with the sugar, rose extract and red coloring. Mix well and cool.
5. When you are ready to serve the Falooda, take a pretty glass and add 2 Tblspn of seed/noodle mixture to the bottom.
6.Very gently pour the rose milk without shaking the noodles at the bottom
7. When the glass is fairly full, add a scoop of one of your favorite flavors of ice cream and top with a cherry. Enjoy this Exotic drink with the beautiful essence of rose.
*Roohafzah is a sweet syrup available in an Indian grocery store. It is bright red in a tall bottle and is basically a rose and other flavored syrup. This syrup may be added to milk or water for a drink in itself

Sunday, July 17, 2011

#134 Fig, Goat Cheese and Pesto Open Faced Sandwiches

One way to use up leftover Brioche bread is by making bread pudding as suggested by one of my foodie friends!! I love bread pudding made with brioche or croissants. I almost indulged in the pudding idea but decided to make use of my leftover goat cheese and pesto that were in my fridge on a bit healthier note!! So here's my afternoon snack.......just kidding!! R was working this Sunday so I whipped up a quick lunch with a garden salad:)

Figs- 3-4 Sliced
Fresh Bread- 4 slice
Goat Cheese- 4 Tblspn
Basil Pesto- 2 Tblspn
Black Pepper powder
Honey-1 tspn

1. Take a slice of bread and toast in toaster until brown
2. Apply 1 1/2 tspn of pesto and then 1 tspn of goat cheese on each slice.
3. Place the slices of fig, sprinkle pepper and drizzle a bit of honey over it.
4.Broil for a few minutes until cheese is soft. Serve warm

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

#133 Baking Brioche Bread and Rolls Barefoot

Did you know that until the 15th century bread was used in Europe as a platter to serve food and then it would be thrown to the dogs? Bread baking was industrialized in the 19th and early 20th century.
It was during this era that sliced bread was born in 1912 when Otto Frederick Rohwedder worked on a machine that sliced the bread automatically and Viola! it became a big hit.

The 20th century saw an increase in bread production with white grain being consumed by the rich. Eventually the trend to make whole grain bread grew and today bread making also incorporates the use of chemical additives(L-cysteine and Sodium metabisulfite) to reduce the time for fermentation. The availablility of quick rising yeast in supermarkets made it much easier for home cooks to bake nutritional domestic bread right in their kitchen. With the appearance of the innovative appliance -the "bread machine" which will even do the kneading for you the choices of bread are wide-- from baguettes, ciabatta, matzah, focaccia, honey wheat, multi-grain, sourdough, tortilla, chapathis, rotis, parathas, naans to pumpernickels, appams, bagels to arepas, pitas, injeras, challahs to Brioches.  Well, there is no excuse for anyone not to make homemade bread!! I prefer the artisan breads baked at the local bakery as compared to retail store bread for the crusty taste! 
I love to bake fresh bread when warm weather makes an appearance. The aroma permeates through the nooks and corners of my I put those two favorite things together and baked a slightly different bread this time brioche- a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa ....

 Mmmm what a wonderful smell!!
It's my bread baking.....I wish you could smell it right through your computer screen:)

1/2 cup warm water
1 package yeast
3 Tablespoons sugar
6 large eggs at room temperature
4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 1/2 tspn Kosher salt
11/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 egg beaten for egg wash

Combine the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of an kitchen aid mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix with spoon until dissolved and let stand fir 5-10 mins until it blooms.
Add the eggs and beat on medium speed for 1 min until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed add 2 cups of the flour and the salt and mix for 5 mins. With the mixer still on low add 2 1/4 more cups of flour and mix for another 5 mins.
Scrape the dough into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day. allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Meanwhile grease a loaf pan and set aside.

Place the dough in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the softened butter in small chunks and mix for 2 mins. adding additional flour as needed to make a round ball. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide into two portions. Roll out the first half into small rounds as big as oranges.  Now seperate the second half and braid like you braid your hair holding togther three strands of dough placing the braid into a medium loaf pan.
Butter a cookie sheet and keep aside. Roll the smaller balls into strands and make a small knot and place on the cookie sheet until all the balls of dough are used up. Make sure to keep them at least 2 inches apart.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the rolls have risen to double the size brush the top of each with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes until the tops spring back and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Turn the rolls out onto a wire rack to cool.
I served the brioche with Nutella and homemade Strawberry butter. The leftover bread is excellent for burgers.

When the dough in the loaf pan has also doubled in size, brush the top with the rest of the egg wash and place in the middle of the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes at the same temperature depending on the oven and the size of your loaf pan.

To go with the moist Broiche I made some fresh Strawberry butter with 3-4 fresh strawberries cut up and 1/2 tsp sugar and 2 Tblpns softened butter.  Whip this up really well and smear over a slice of this awesome bread...... or just nibble away with knobs of nutella!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

#132 Mom's Paal Poori

Here we are right in the middle of 2011, and while I dig around the web and read about food, medicine and healthy lifestyles it seems that meals are not about staple foods like rice and curry or burgers and fries-- a lot has changed in recent times. In this day and age,  food is being prepared with a purpose in mind whether it be for taste, health or medical conditions everyone is in search of fresh vegetables, fruits and nutritious whole grains.

No matter how hard we try to eat healthy, a temptation or two may slip in once in a while, and we indulge in a fried food or two:)  Most dieticians will roll their eyes at me, but I admit that once in a way we should break good habits and go for something "big, bad and beautiful"  like a T-bone steak or a wholesome double cheese burger?  Why not? If I have been eating healthy all week, don't you think I deserve one meal when I can eat with a vengeance? 

If you were to go all out and indulge in something ridiculously good what would it be? A juicy burger? Fried chicken or Chocolate Cake? For me it has to be a decadent dessert like Chocolate Cake or maybe an oldtime special like Paal Poori.  One reason being that my mother made this dish for me many years ago and it is sure to bring back nostalgic memories of childhood, especially for the fact that I inherited her addiction to sweets. She always added a little edible camphor which  I absolutely love, but no matter how hard I tried to find it this time, I had to omit it in my Paal Poori. "Paal" means milk in some South Indian languages and "Poori" is fried flat bread.  I had searched desperately for Pacha Karpooram going from one South Asian store to another in vain (so I marked it optional in the recipe).  Does anyone know where in the US I can find Pacha Karpooram ?

Almonds 1/4 cup
Sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 can Rava
2 t.spoons Maida
2 cups Sugar
4 t.spoons Saffron 1/4 t.spoon
1 Tblspn crushed pistachios
Edible camphor (Pacha karpooram) optional
Cooking oil for frying

Soak saffron in little cold milk, and keep it aside.Soak rava in little water for 10 minutes.Soak almonds in hot water for 1 hour. Peel skin and grind the almond into a fine paste with 1 cup of milk instead of water. Boil heavy cream, condensed milk, and almond paste for 10-15 minutes.
Add saffron to above and let it cool.
Now, knead maida, soaked rava, and sugar into a nice dough, using some cold water. Roll the dough into cherry sized balls and roll with a rolling pin until evenly thin, small flat breads are formed. Deep
fry the flat breads(pooris) until they puff up and and soak the puries in the boiled milk mixture. Garnish with crushed Pistachios. Serve it cold/hot.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

#131 Relax, Read and Round up a Roasted Red Pepper Soup

A grilled cheese sandwich and a pepper-tomato soup are an excellent meal for any week night, and a speedy turnaround in the kitchen for those of us who have long work commutes and schedules.
Roasted red peppers are a cook's best friend. If you have roasted red peppers in the fridge you can come up with so many creative ways to cook up a meal, whether it be roasted pepper hummus, stuffed in a sandwich, tossed in some pasta or beat with sour cream or cream cheese for a delicious dip. It always add a little kick along with good nutrition. In my red pepper and tomato soup, the first thing I do after they are sliced and cleaned up is put them on a cookie sheet on foil or parchment paper, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle onion powder and pepper over it before baking.  While they are roasting, I take a break-- relax my feet on the couch and read a book. Once roasted, place them in a ziplock bag and leave for 10 mins. maybe have a cup of coffee?  Once the skins are removed and a few steps later, I use a hand blender to puree the cooked soup and leave it just choppy enough so that there is something to slightly chew on.  If you read my Directions below, I'll show you how you can make a quick, stress-free soup for a comforting dinner.

4 large firm, ripe tomatoes, halved
Onion powder- 1Tblspn
black pepper- 1 tspn
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large red bell pepper
1 Tblspn Ragi or Millet flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
Crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
A simple Whole wheat grilled cheese sandwich is the best accompaniment to the soup...

Preheat the broiler
In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes and red pepper with 3 tablespoons of the oil to lightly coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes, cut sides down, and the bell pepper on a baking sheet and broil until charred and soft.. Remove and place the pepper in a plastic or paper bag, and cool for 10 minutes. Let the tomatoes and peppers sit until cool enough to handle; peel and chop them.

In a large pot, heat the remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add bell peppers, and tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the stock, vinegar, Ragi powder and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree with a hand-held blender. Add the cream and basil, return to a simmer, and cook, until warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

#130 Lazy Top Hat Dosa -the South Indian Crepe

This recipe is being posted on the request of one of my readers -Barton, who wanted to know how to make dosas. I served Dosa with my Tomato Apple Chutney, so Barton I hope you will try it out in your kitchen.
Note: When using a pancake griddle make sure it is well oiled or if it is a non stick pan, rub a slice of onion over the surface before pouring the batter. This ensures that the crepe will easily lift off of the griddle without sticking. That is the most tricky part of making dosas!!

So here's how to make dosas.......................

Long Grain Rice-1 1/2 cup
Parboiled Rice- 1/2 cup
Urad Dal/Uzhunnu Parippu-1/2 cup
Methi Seeds/Fenugreek seeds- 1/4 tspn
Water as required to grind the batter.
Salt to taste
Oil or Ghee to make dosas

1. Soak the rice and dal in the proportion 4:1 for about 8 hrs in separate bowls.
2. Along with the Urad dal soak the Methi seeds until soft.
3. When the Parboiled rice is soft enough to break,  grind the urad dal for about 30 mins adding
a little water at a time until soft and fluffy. Scoop the fluffy mixture into a very tall container.keep aside.
4. Now, grind the soaked rice in the same way until the batter is smooth and not grainy at all adding just enough water for a batter that is like pancake batter.
For best results use the ULTRA or any other brand Dosa Grinder that is available only in Indian Stores in the US. If you do not have a Grinder, you can use a high-powered blender.

5. Mix the rice batter with the urad dal fluffy batter adding enough salt eg 1 Tblslpn and mix well.
6. Keep this batter for fermentation in a warm place for about 8 hrs until it rises twice in size.  I suggest you use a "tall" container or one that is twice the size of the batter.  This is a very important step in the making of authentic dosas and idlis.
7. After the batter has doubled in size, take a ladle and mix the batter once again to mix together the urad batter that usually rises all the way to the top and make sure to mix the rice batter very well into the batter until smooth and add 1/2 cup water to smoothen if necessary. Now the batter should look like this.....
8. Place a non-stick skillet on a medium flame on the stove and make sure that it is warmed up in the center.
lower the flame and rub with some oil or a sliced onion . Now pour a full ladle of batter in the center of the skillet. Spread the batter in circles starting in the center and going towards the edge spreading evenly and to make thin crepes.
9. Sprinkle 1/2 tspn of ghee or sesame oil around the surface of the dosa allowing the first side to cook as shown.
10. When the edges are changing color, use a spatula to flip over once to cook the other side for 2 mins.
11. Flip over when golden in color, fold the dosa twice and twist gently into a cone-shaped hat. Serve with  chutney or sambhar(you can refer to my old posts for both recipes).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

#129 Back to the Future, Food Trends and Our Grilling Adventures on July 4th

Recently I have been reading a lot about Food Trucks and the problems with parking tickets being issued to them for occuping multiple street spaces in large cities, and a thought occurred to me. What would happen to fast paced professionals when they do not find enough time to grab a small lunch between rushed business meetings.  As the economy grows and flourishes I think it will end up as a growing problem for those who have less and less time to get lunch. I try to take a bag lunch to work on most days but there are times when it becomes difficult for me to grab something out of the fridge if I am late in the morning. The old-fashioned vending machines like the ones in my lunch room at work are not substantial and in the midst of a much-needed makeover. I work in the suburbs so I have to drive down to the nearest Deli to get a warm cup of soup or sandwich, which means I also risk walking in late to a meeting,  losing my space or perhaps parking a few blocks away.

Oftentimes, I wish we had the high-end vending machines seen across Asia which are mostly street-side or rail-side kiosks dispensing everything from noodles and sushi to sandwiches and roti-wraps if they also come with good service to match. Dosa carts that serve freshly made dosas and fried eggs which would be awesome between ad hoc meetings!! Food on wheels and eating-on-the-go options like the NY Desi Food Truck(Indian fare) serving Chicken Tikka Masala and Kathi rolls and Tacombi(Mexican fare) serving up Barbacoa and black Bena frijoles have spread from the New York City streets to those of Washington DC. If you work downtown, then grab lunch at "DC Slices"  a thin crust gourmet slice of pizza you will not regret eating, and the well loved Bada Bing Food Truck with big juicy sandwiches for a satisfying meal.

Lunch was freely available street-side if you chose one of the trucks featured on the Great Food Truck Race on Food Network. But it turns out that a bill was introduced by the New York City council to revoke the permit of those vendors who get a certain number of parking violations and eventually this will make it harder for the food truck businesses to flourish. Even though these trucks are allowed to park at metered commercial spaces,  when the meter expires the trucks are required to move. This in turn, is cause for concern for truck owners if they have to use Twitter or blogs to tell regular customers about their location. Some may even run out of business just because customers cannot get to them as easily as they can get to the bakery around the corner for a quick cup of soup. Some workers cannot reach the trucks or call early for fresh lunch due to short lunch breaks.

So again, we fall back to the all-convenient Vending Machine. The trend is catching up in the West where ice cream and breakfast sandwiches for the fast paced worker bee are being dispensed from a vending machine. MooBella Ice creamery Machine is a very good example of revolutionary technology making fresh ice cream easily available using a touch screen.  What if Food Trucks are not easily reachable for the working professional? The answer is either carry a bag lunch from home or dispense from Vending machines for quick lunches in between meetings. I am not one to eat Junk food for lunch, although I have co-workers who will readily grab a bag of chips and a bottle of coke and call it lunch. I must have a small meal a salad or soup is more than sufficient. If the Sauca Truck in DC serves up beef shawarma, Mexican fish tacos, pork banh mi or Mumbai butter chicken wraps then so should the Vending Machine of the future.  Unhealthy thought, but Oh so convenient if there were no added preservatives!!!

What's so patriotic about Cookouts? If you notice, everybody grills on July 4th weekend. Is it because we consider it normal to have a cookout every year? This is America and the truth is that the proper way to celebrate its Independence is to follow in the footsteps of the Virginian Colonists who in the 1800's, got together in the summer to smoke large animals over a pit. Again, we know that the burger was made possible by American Innovations like the meat grinder and the hamburger bun. But why do we celebrate America's Independence with frankfurters and hamburgers instead of dishes named after American states or towns? What about North Carolina Barbecue, Memphis Barbecue and Texas Brisket, Wisconsin Cheese, Idaho Potatoes, Georgia Peach Pie and Cincinnati Chilli? or what about Salisbury Steak?

The term 'barbecue' has its origins from the Spanish word 'barbacoa' served in the NY truckfare Tacombi!! While I am flipping through the different 'Meals on Wheels' menus, it  gives me this irresistable urge to grill up some International fare again. We usually grill just once a year.  I don't know if it is considered a 'must-do' on Independence day or not .... but I admit N and V(my daughters) and I love to cookout that weekend only because summer is at its peak, all of us have a long weekend off and we love good BBQ.  Each person may come up with variations of regional sauces. America has grown into a 'melting pot' of flavors  and now we have no shortage of tandoori paste, asian sauces and spanish rubs for meat, veggies, fish or chicken.  This time I was not motivated enough to work with my Asian Salmon but we focused on vegetables ....

So here we are grilling on the simple favorites with the exception of Salmon. N drove down on Friday(V was unable to join us). R, N and I opened up some store-brought sauces, spices and marinades to grill for this fourth of July and called it a day:)
Broiled mexican sweet potato fries, Tandoori Chicken legs, good old American Hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled vegetables and corn on the Cob it was a feast alright!  The hard work we put into grilling earned us lunch over this whole week which means I do not have to find anything extra for my lunch bag.Yay!!
I decided to share my recent findings and photos with you, and no recipes this time:)
The bread used for the thinly pounded burgers is home made.................Look out for the recipe soon:)

Print Friendly

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF