Jan 26, 2012

Spaghetti Rigati with Mixed Veggies & Paneer in Thai Red curry sauce



We usually go to a thai-chinese restaurant in our neighborhood where I always, always order their stir-fry noodles with Thai yellow or green curry sauce. Its my absolute favorite and I have never ordered anything other than that when I go there.
First there is the fact that I can fill up my bowl with whichever veggies from their 'veggies for stir-fry' counter and then there is the option of whether I want noodles, rice or fried rice and next is which protein I'd like, where I always end up ordering their noodles and grilled chicken respectively. :-)

Now last night we had been planning on going out and eating , but the climate wasn't so great and my
6.5 month old keeps me busy , so instead I thought of making a similar version of the stir-fry with whatever I had at home.
I had some Spaghetti Rigati , which is a sophisticated version of the actual spaghetti in the sense that it has grooves on its sides, which perfectly helps in coating the sauce better on the pasta. Then I had all the good veggies and for my protein I used Paneer ( Indian Cottage cheese), which is my favorite...yumm!!
I had Thai Red curry paste brought from the store and coconut milk and Thats all you need!!!


This recipe makes enough pasta for 2-3 people.

Spaghetti Rigati with Mixed Veggies & Paneer in Thai Red curry sauce Recipe
You'll need
Spaghetti Rigati - 1/2 lb ( I used Barilla) - You can use any pasta you like
Hot boiling water - to cook the pasta
Mixed Veggies - 2-3 cups ( I used frozen mixed veggies containing - Brocolli, Baby corn, Carrots, Red peppers, Onion, Beans, Sugar snap peas, Mushroom and Water chestnuts)
Paneer - 1 cup (cubed into small pieces)
Thai Red Curry paste- 2 tblsp
Coconut milk - whole 14oz container ( I used Aroy-D brand)
Oil - 1 tblsp ( to mildly fry the paneer cubes)
Salt - as needed for the pasta and for the thai red curry sauce
Red chilli flakes - a pinch or 1/2 tsp ( optional )
Minced Ginger - 1 tsp (optional)

Directions
1. In a large pot keep some water to boil and when it starts bubbling add enough salt to season the spaghetti and add the Spaghetti. (Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.)
2. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick kadai or skillet on medium heat and add the 1tblsp of oil. When it gets hot add the cubed Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and saute until it gets mildly browned on both sides or atleast on one side.
3. Keep the Paneer aside in a bowl and add the mixed veggies to the skillet and saute for just 1-2 minutes. Keep the veggies aside. (You do not want the veggies to be over cooked, it should still be crunchy)
4. Now reduce the heat, and add the coconut milk and the Thai Red curry paste and stir for a while until the sauce thickens. Season with salt as needed. [You may also add some red chilli flakes and minced ginger at this point. I did not add both but I wish I had, it would definitely elevate the taste].
5. Toss in the veggies and paneer and stir well.
6. By now the pasta should be done, when its al dente , drain away the pasta water and add the pasta directly to the Thai red curry sauce and veggies. Coat the pasta well with the sauce and cover and cook for  2-3 minutes. Serve hot!

Suggestions:
a. Like I mentioned some red chilli flakes and ginger would add some spice to the dish for those who like a bit of spice.
b. If you want  the sauce to get dried up with the pasta, keep cooking the pasta in the sauce till the pasta drinks up or coats up all the sauce on the pasta. [ This is how I have prepared here ]
c. If you'd like some sauce with the pasta ( like a soggy pasta) , just cook the pasta with the sauce for few minutes and turn off the heat and serve immediately. The more time the pasta sits in the sauce the more it gets absorbed into the pasta. [ I would have preferred this , as it would make the pasta more juicy :-) ]
d. You can use Chicken , Beef , Egg , Tofu etc for the protein instead of Paneer if you'd like.


The pasta turned out absolutely great and my hus was asking for seconds and thirds. :-) It was creamy and had a perfect Thai Red curry taste and had all the veggies to make u feel like we ate something healthy, the Paneer was a real treat.
Now I have my own little restaurant style dish with my own unique taste. I added lots of veggies and less pasta to make it more healthy and it was just perfect!

And while I was wrapping up my  photo session of the spaghetti, look whats happening in the background. :-)
The pic isn't so clear as my camera shook, obviously, as he just grabbed on to the bowl with lightning speed and I had to grab the bowl myself to stop him from dropping the pasta all over the place...aaaah Babies!! ;-)



Have a great day people...
Are you all waiting for Valentines Day? :-)








Linking this post to:
1. Valentines Day event hosted by Anzz @ AnzzCafe


-Manju


Jan 23, 2012

Mattar Paneer ( Indian Cottage cheese with Green Peas)


Mattar Paneer needs no special introduction. Its a very commonly served North-Indian vegetarian dish at most Indian restaurants and definitely a favorite among almost everyone. At my house everyone loves Paneer (Indian Cottage cheese). Several people make their own Paneer at home, but I haven't tried that yet, so I used store-bought Paneer.

I initially thought of making a Paneer dish on it own, but the health conscious part of me finally decided to add Green peas , but guess what, it turned out even better !! I'm so proud of myself (secretly) :-)

I have adapted this recipe from Showmethecurry.com from their video on Youtube. But I have made a few changes as per my requirement.

Mattar Paneer Recipe
You'll need
Paneer (cottage cheese) - 14oz pack,cut into small cubes
Green Peas - 1 cup (frozen or fresh)
Ginger-Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Tomato - 3-4 medium sized (pureed/crushed)
Canola oil - 2 tbsp
Paprika - 2  tsp (Can substitue instead with 1tsp red chilli powder and 1tsp paprika for spice and color)
Corriander powder - 2 tsp
Garam masala - 1.5 tsp
Water - 1 cup
Low-Fat Evaporated milk - 1 cup ( can also use Heavy cream instead )
Salt - to taste

Directions
1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the ginger-garlic paste and saute until it starts turning mild brown.
2. Now add the pureed or crushed tomato and cook it until the water content has drained off and the oil starts showing.
3. Add the spices - Paprika, Corriander powder and garam masala and saute for 2 mins.
4. Add the Green Peas, 1cup water and salt and cover and cook for 3-4mins (or until peas become soft)
5. Now add the cubed paneer and mix well and cook again for 2-3 mins on medium heat. (the paneer cooks very fast and over cooking can make it either very hard or mashed up)
6. If more gravy is required you can add more water and cook.
7. Lastly add the evaporated milk - this provides a nice creamy texture and also elevates the taste of the dish (For a richer and creamier version you can use a cup of Heavy cream )
8. On low heat, let the dish simmer for few more minutes. Check salt and spice levels once more and then take it off the stove.


Mattar and Paneer makes a perfect combination and I prepared a creamy tomato gravy and all we could do was to just keep dipping our naan into the luscious gravy and eat and eat and you won't realise how much you've eaten until you've stuffed yourself up. Rice, Roti or even Bread goes well with this dish. So enjoy!! 

-Manju

Jan 17, 2012

Mango Coconut Laddoo and 5000+ hits !!



First of all I want to thank all my lovely readers for helping me achieve this target of 5000+ hits in a short span of 3 months. Each time my blog views increased from 1000 to 2000 to 3000 hits , I kept thinking I should celebrate with you all with a mouthwatering dish but due to several factors which also includes my laziness ;-) I kept putting it off for later. Finally now I got the chance and I want to share this awesome sweet dish with you all.
Also Happy b'lated Sankranti and Pongal to all who celebrated. :-)

Laddoo is a sweet item, usually round or ball shaped and it is commonly served during festivals and special occassions all over India. By the way, I love anything mango flavoured and Mango is my favorite fruit. This laddoo that I am sharing with you is prepared using Mango pulp and grated coconut and flavored with some cardamom (elachi). Since pistachios are another favorite of mine I have added crushed pistachios to the mango flavored laddoo.
I took this recipe by checking several fellow blogger friend's sites who has made this and I made slight changes according to my taste and ingredient availability. It came out really well and Manish who isn't much of a sweets lover really enjoyed these cuties.

Mango Coconut Laddoo Recipe
You'll need
Fresh grated coconut - 2 cups (Can also use frozen shredded coconut or dry coconut flakes)
Mango pulp -1 cup  ( I used the Sweetened Mango pulp)
Condensed milk - 1/4 cup  (actual recipe calls for 3/4 cup, but I used only 1/4 cup)
Pistachios, roasted and unsalted -1/4 cup  ( Gently crushed into small pieces)
Cardamom powder (Elaichi powder) - 1/4 tsp or upto taste preference
For garnishing:
Coconut powder or flakes (unsweetened) - 4-5 tblsp
Pistachios (halved) - 1 for each laddoo

Directions
1. Keep a nonstick pan on medium heat and start by roasting the cocnut until it starts to become dry and the raw smell goes off. (Make sure the coconut is nicely dried but not browned)
2. Next add the mango pulp and keep stirring, as soon the misture starts to dry up add the cardamom powder and keep mixing until it dries up completely.
3. Add the condensed milk and cook till the mixture thickens and leaves the side of the pan. ( It should be able to form a dough on it own when mixed together, thats the consistency you should look for)
4. Add in the chopped or crushed pistachios and mix well and turn off the heat.
5. Make small rounds while the mixture is warm (not hot), but do not allow to cool. ( I took a teaspoon measure and rolled them into small balls)
For garnishing:
1. You may roll them in extra coconut . ( I rolled them in dry coconut powder)
2. Or you may just press in a halved pistachio in the centre of each laddoo.

Important and Useful Tips and Suggestions: 1. By dry coconut powder , I do not mean the powdered form which is used to prepare coconut milk, it has to be slightly flaky or grainy.
2.  a) If using fresh grated coconut : Roast the 2 cups only until the coconut feels dry (as if it is moist it may add more moisture to the laddoo), but do not roast until it turns brown.
     b) If using dry coconut powder / dry coconut flakes : Roast just for 2-3 minutes , only until the raw smell wears off as it is already dry and can hold the mango pulp and condensed milk mixture together.

*** REMEMBER, if your laddoo feel very soft and is not forming a good ball , add some more roasted dry coconut powder (or roast some more fresh grated coconut ) , just 1-2 tsp at a time until the mixture is able to form a firm but soft dough that can be rolled into balls.
Do not wait until the mixture is completely cooled to roll, start rolling while its still warm.
{I have added these tips due to lot of requests and questions on how to make these laddoos and apparently few who made these said it was a super hit!!! Thank You!!! :-) }
This laddo has a nice and mild mango flavor and the coconut gives it a lovely chewyness and its just aptly sweetened from the condensed milk and the mango pulp and the mild cardamom flavor and its aroma brings this sweet dish to a completely different level.. This recipe is definitely a keeper and I'm sure you will love it. 
I shared this with few of my friends and they all called back to say how much they liked it. I made very small laddoos and I was able to make about 30 laddoos , I made them small so that they just a bite size and anyone and everyone can enjoy them without having to feel guilty of eating a large sweet ;-)

And this one is just for you , my most valuable reader :-)

Linking this post to:
1. ABC Series - Desserts happening at Ramya's Recipe

2. Valentines Day event hosted by Anzz @ AnzzCafe

3. "Lets Celebrate - Indian sweets"









-Manju

Jan 9, 2012

Curried Veg Pulav (Veg Pilaf)

I named this dish as 'Curried' Veg Pulav as I have used the spices with which I prepare any basic masala curry used in Indian cooking :-) Pulav or Pilaf is a really easy rice based dish where veggies ( in the case of my dish) are cooked along with the rice seasoned with some spices. It is a really simple and easy preparation. Pulav can also be prepared with chicken , shrimp, egg etc
This dish was initially supposed to be a mixed vegetable curry :-) , but at the last moment I decided to go with making a quick pulav with the same mixed vegetables to which I had already added all my spices to prepare the curry. So there you go, Curried Veggie Pulav !!! :-)
I just used  some frozen mixed vegetables (containing carrots, green peas, beans and corn)  that I always have in my freezer , one potato and half of a green bell pepper (capsicum) for the mixed veggies. You can use whichever veggies you prefer.

Curried Veg Pulav Recipe
Recipe source : My Own
You'll need
Basmati rice - 2 cups
Water - 4 cups
Mixed Vegetables ( Carrots, Peas, Beans, Corn, Potato, Bell pepper etc) - 2 cups (cubed into small pieces)
Onions - 1 large ( cubed ) - I used Yellow Onions
Whole spices (Peppercorns, Cloves, Cardamom, small Cinnamon stick ) - 2-3 of each
Red chilli powder - 1-2 tsp
Corriander powder - 1 tblsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1 tsp ( optional)
Oil - 2-3 tblsp ( I used Canola)
Salt - to taste

Directions
1. Wash the rice in cold water and drain and keep it aside. ( If you have the time, its best to soak the rice in water for 30minutes and then drain before preparing the pulav, I did not do it though)
2. Heat a large cooking pot and add the oil.
3. Saute the whole spices in the oil until the flavors are released.
4. Add the onions and saute for 2 minutes.
5. Add in all the mixed veggies and after sauting for 2 minutes, add the spices ( red chilli powder, corriander powder, garam masala powder, turmeric powder and pepper powder) and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
6. Now add in the rice to the mixed veggies and stir gently until rice and veggies are mixed well .
7. Add 4 cups of water and season the water with salt , stir once more and cover and cook until the rice is cooked fully. ( The water should be salty to taste so that the rice is seasoned well once cooked)    
                             
7. Serve it hot with some cool cucumber Raita !

This dish can be prepared so fast and can be served without requiring to prepare too many side dishes, as it is rice + mixed veg curry in one !! :-) Some plain Yoghurt or Cucumber Raita along with some Papad goes really well when serving this dish.
The house gets filled with the lovely aroma of basmati rice being cooked and the lovely spices added to this dish. The Pulav was really good, the rice was soft and perfectly cooked , the veggies and the spices mingled really well with the rice and it did make a really quick , tasty and colorful lunch for us :-)

Have a sweet day!!

-Manju








Jan 7, 2012

Mixture with Sev, Masala Peanuts and fried Curry leaves...Crrrunch!!


First of all let me wish all my lovely readers a very very Happy New Year (better late than never right !! ). May this year bring you joy, happiness, prosperity, wealth and good health.

Instead of starting the New Year with something sweet we wanted something savoury :-) and a lovely evening snack like this Mixture was just perfect. It can be prepared and stored in air-tight containers and can be enjoyed for several days.

I prepared the mixture with a combination of  Sev made from Besan (gram flour), Spiced besan coated Peanuts - Masala peanuts and fried Curry leaves. 
For those who prefer a spicier version you can sprinkle some red chilli powder along with some salt over the mixture and mix well or else spice up the besan with which the Sev is prepared. Its all upto you! :-) I did not want a very spicy snack, so this recipe is a bit on the milder side.


For preparing the Sev I used a Murukku maker or the same thing I used to make my Idiappams :-)

Mixture Recipe
You'll need
For Sev:
Gram flour - 2cups
Water - enough to make a dough
Red chilli powder - 1-2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1-2 tsp
Salt - to taste
For Masala Peanuts:
Raw Peanuts - 1 cup
Gram flour - 2-3 tblsp
Water - enough to mix the flour with the peanuts forming a thick coating
Red chilli powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 2 tsp
Garlic paste - 2 tsp ( I did not add this, but it would bring huge flavor if added)
Salt - to taste
For fried Curry leaves:
Curry leaves - 4-5 springs ( approx 15 - 20 leaves)
Oil - for deep frying and preparing the entire mixture items ( I used Canola)

Directions
For Sev:
1. Take the gram flour in a mixing bowl and add all the spices ( red chilli powder, turmeric powder, pepper powder) and salt and using water make a smooth dough. (It may be a sticky dough but thats ok)
2. Apply some oil on your palm and take a nice handful of the dough and fill it inside the Murukku or Idiappam maker. The stencil used should of small dots such that the dough when pressed will come out as thin strings.
3. Heat oil in a deep frying pan and press the dough into the oil and continue to do so in circular motions without breaking the strings. (It will look like one big ball of strings :-) )
4. Break the strings into small 1 inch length pieces, or simply break it apart into smaller length pieces. Sev is ready :-)
For the Masala Peanuts:
1. In a mixing bowl add 2-3 tblsp of the gram flour with the peanuts and some spices ( Red chilli powder, Turmeric powder and Pepper powder) , some Garlic paste (if you like) and salt to taste and mix together with some water. The gram flour should stick to each peanut like a thick coating.
2. Heat some oil ( or you may use the same oil used to fry the Sev) and drop in each peanut one by one. Its ok if  few peanuts stick together.
3. Fry them until nice and golden brown ( else the peanut may not get fried well and may still be raw inside)
For the Fried Curry Leaves:
1. Take 4-5 sprigs of curry leaves and fry them in the same oil until crisp. 
For the Mixture:
1. Mix together the Sev , Masala Peanuts and the fried curry leaves. A crispy and crunchy snack is ready ! 

Store them in air-tight containers and they will stay crisp for several days. I'm enjoying this delicious snack even while I type this right now, its simply so yumm and irresistible!
Hope you all are enjoying the New Year with lots of good food and lovely people around you!!

-Manju