May 30, 2013

Instant Rava Dosa

We eat a lot of Dosa at home. Manish absolutely loves Dosa and now lil'Appu is also becoming a fan. He never says no to Dosa and sometimes prefers Idlis. I prepare Dosa/Idli batter almost every week as it’s a quick breakfast to prepare during busy work day mornings and also its healthy and filling. Whenever I make the batter it is sufficient enough to last a whole week. I have been wanting to do a step-by-step post on Idli-Dosa batter preparation that’s made with Rice and Urad dal, so that's in the pipeline for now :-)

Apparently south-India is affluent in its various Dosa preparations. I love to try different varieties when dining out and even try preparing different kinds at home. The only limiting factor with regular dosa batter is waiting for the batter to ferment. And on busy weeknights all I want is a simple and quick solution.


That’s how I found this super simple and absolutely flavorful instant Rava Dosa recipe here and I modified it a bit to suit our tastes. Just mix together all the ingredients and let it rest for 10 mins and start making and eating your hot hot rava dosas :-) Another thing I want to clarify here is that, these are NOT the crisp Rava Dosa that we get in restaurants. Infact it’s a softer version and absolutely melt in your mouth kinds. And another benefit is that it does not require any extra oil while making the dosa. 

I made these when my sis-in-law and bro-in-law came to visit us and they simply loved it. Even my lil’Appu loves to eat it as its soft and flavorful from the veggies added in it. Any simple chutney like coconut chutney or tomato chutney goes well with this rava dosa.


This recipe has been sleeping in my drafts for over a 'year' now (sheesh!) and the pics are also old and sort of boring, but I felt the recipe had to be shared as its super yumm and one of our fav dosas. This recipe will yield about 8-10 medium sized rava dosa. 

Instant Rava Dosa

You'll need
Rava (Sooji / Semolina / Cream of wheat) - 2 cups
Red onion (chopped) - 1/4 cup
Green chillies (sliced) - 1or 2
Ginger (finely and thinly chopped) - 1 tsp
Corriander leaves (chopped) - 1  or 2 tblsp
Grated Carrot – 1 medium carrot (purely optional)
Yogurt (dahi) - 1 cup
Salt - to taste
Water (optional) - to loosen the batter
Ghee or Oil for cooking

Directions
1. Combine all the ingredients except for ghee/oil in a deep bowl, mix well and keep aside for 5-10 minutes. Add water as required to get desired batter consistency ( it should be thinner than pancake batter)
2. Apply little ghee or oil on dosa pan or non-stick pan, spread a spoonful of batter (almost ¼ cup batter) on it in a circular motion.
3. Cook till it is golden brown in color and mildly crisp on both sides.
4. Repeat with the remaining batter to make more dosas.
5. Serve hot with chutney of choice.

Notes
1. We like thick dosas, so I did not thin the batter too much with water. 
2. I like to add all kinds of veggies like grated carrots, boiled potatoes, tomatoes etc into the batter. But its all purely optional.
3. I don't add too much oil/ghee to crisp up the dosas. You may do so if you please.



 Try this out, its so simple and versatile. Enjoy with a cup of hot tea/coffee and kids will surely love it. It's definitely become my go-to recipe when looking for a quick and simple breakfast or dinner option and I bet you'll enjoy it too. 
See you all again soon.

-Manju

May 21, 2013

Fish curry with Raw Mango and Drumsticks in a spicy Coconut gravy

Hello dear all. I know I’ve been a slacker this whole month, having hardly posted any recipes at all. I would have loved to make excuses such as I was busy with office work or that lil’Appu kept me busy after I came home or else I got too lazy to post a recipe etc etc...but I’m not going to make any excuses. I’m enjoying my parents company, our new home, our new garden and backyard and all the new shops, parks, lakes etc around our neighborhood and we have all our weekends pre-planned with activities and friends, trying to enjoy summer to the fullest, so ya, I have very less laptop time left these days :-)
But I can't leave my lil'MED unattended for long, it’s a part of me now and I want to personally say a big big thank you to all my silent readers, who's been stopping over and checking out my space, as my blog stats have not dripped at all and infact is getting better each day. Many many Thanks to all of you.

Today I want to share a Fish curry recipe. I has had already shared a similar recipe a little while ago – Fish Curry in spicy Coconut gravy. This dish is almost exactly the same, but with a few more star ingredients : Raw Mango and Drumsticks which adds a lot more flavor and makes this a simply lip-smacking version. Its tangy, mildly spicy and has a hell lot of flavor and is an awesome dish to have with plain white/brown rice. 

I have used Tialpia fillets for the fish; other fish varieties that go well with this curry are Mackerel, Salmon, King Fish, Catfish, Codfish etc. Any fleshy fish with/without bones are good, oily fishes would be best.


In Kerala we usually eat a fatter, more huskier version of brown rice known as Kerala Matta rice. It’s a flavorful rice and I must say goes well with almost all keralite dishes. To many in Kerala this is ‘The Rice’, any other kind is either not flavorful or not ‘rice’ enough in their food dictionary :-) Manish loves this rice, though I prefer the plain white rice (aka Sona Masoori brand that we get here)



Perhaps later on I might do a post dedicated to Kerala Matta rice, but for now let’s focus on our Fish curry. The fish absorbs the flavors from the raw mango and kodampuli , the curry leaves infuses a lovey aroma to the dish and the drumsticks are a delight to eat in between. See how gorgeous it looks...now lets check out the recipe.


Fish curry with Raw Mango and Drumsticks in a spicy Coconut gravy

You'll need:
Tilapia fillets – 4-5 (cut into bite sized cubes)
Raw Mango – ½ Mango peeled and cut into thin strips
Drumsticks – 6-7 pieces (I used frozen drumsticks –if using fresh then cut 1 drumstick into 3” pieces)
Fresh grated coconut - 1 cup
Dry red chillies - 3-4 pieces
Corriander seeds - 2-3 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1.5 tsp
Water – 3 cups (1 cup for ground masala paste + 2 cups for gravy)
Ginger (cut into thin strips ) - 1/2  inch
Green chillies - 2-3 cut lengthwise
Roma Tomato – 1 medium (cut in quarters)
Meen puli/Kodampuli (Gambooge Tamarind) - 1-2 lime sized pieces
Fenugreek powder - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig (6-8 leaves)
Salt - to taste

Directions
1. Clean and cut the fish into small cubes.
2. Grind the coconut, dry red chillies, turmeric powder and corriander seeds into a fine paste with 1 cup of water.
3. Heat a non-stick deep bottomed pan on medium heat and pour the spice-coconut paste.
4. Add the ginger, green chillies, fenugreek powder and tamarind and let it come to a simmer.
5. Now add the fish, raw mango slices, drumsticks, tomato pieces, curry leaves, salt and add 2 cups of water or as per the gravy required and let the mixture boil until the fish is cooked.
6. Serve hot with Rice.



Go on, try out this dish today and you’ll thank me for it and I’ll pass on your thanks to my mom as it’s her recipe originally :-) And as we eat fish a lot, you shouldn't be surprised if I posted this recipe again with different star ingredients...hehe!

We have Memorial Day long weekend coming up this week and I’m looking forward to spending some fun time outside along with lil’Appu  and my family and guess what, I’m planning on getting me a new bike (cycle) and I’m all excited…yaaayy!! Hope I don’t fall, my balance on these two wheeler's suck big time! Have a great week you guys and keep in touch.

-Manju



May 16, 2013

Food Blogger’s Meet in Minneapolis


This week we had a Food Blogger’s Meet in Minneapolis. The Facebook group Fortify: a Food Community is specially dedicated to food lovers in MN and the group includes food bloggers to food enthusiasts to cafe/restaurant owners, celebrity chefs, featured authors, local farmers etc,  all based out of Minnesota.  And when I came to know that we had an event in May , I knew I had to be there. 

A room full of like-minded and foodie-minded people, we were a fun and chatty group. Everyone was really friendly and though I didn't get a chance to go say Hello to everyone, I did meet a few very nice people and everyone had a great time.
As it was on a working day for me, I forgot to take my camera (though we were encouraged to do so) , so I just took a few snaps on my Iphone which I’m sharing here.

The meet was at the Lynn on Bryant, a local bistro serving up some very unique and different fusion food using all fresh ingredients for the local farmers around and the ambiance was simple and cheerful. It was a charity event and the money raised from the event was fully contributed to the Daily Diner Frogtown.
We were served some amazing samplers from their daily menu, I have no much clue about the names of the dishes but they were different and tasty and if you live here in MN I highly encourage you to go and try this place out.

There was house-made bread, different kinds of Pâté,  assorment of cheeses, dried black grapes and relishes, fritters and dips, bite sized samplers of their veggie burger (which was my fav) and many more dishes which was brought in fresh and hot from the kitchen.   

And of course, it was Happy hour , so there was Wine and drinks. I had some white wine!!


And yes, there was dessert….a really classy looking one that too. I tasted lemon curd for the first time and I’m telling you I’m in love with it. The lemon curd was served with Crème fraîche with a lavender infused flavor. And there was panacotta served with Rhubharb topped with mint ..the names of these desserts were really classy and I wish I could remember them, but that’s a reason for me to go there again and try them again isn’t it :-)

Oh! and that's Chef Peter who is the mastermind behind all the gorgeous food and he talks a little bit about the Lynn and its menu and various services provided.  

And I actually got a chance to step inside a restaurant kitchen :-) It was so neat and tidy, inspite of all the cooking that happened just a few minutes before I took this snap.



In all it was super fun and I got to know so many food bloggers now in MN and can't wait to check out their blogs. I’m thrilled that I got to go for such an event and definitely looking forward to more events.

As for this weekend, we are going on a short trip with friends and we're definitely planning to have some fun :-) I wish you all a very happy weekend! 

-Manju


May 9, 2013

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes and a Food Blogger Bake Sale

Last Saturday we had the 4th Annual  Food Blogger Bake Sale. Food bloggers and non-bloggers alike participated in the charity event, the proceedings of which will benefit the No Kid Hungry program, an organization dedicated to ending child hunger in America. It was a country wide bakesale and several states across America held the Bake Sale in their respective cities on Saturday May4th,2013.
Ever since I heard of the event I knew I wanted to participate. This year the bake sale was co-ordinated by Lisa who blog’s at Delightfully Midwestern and she sent us out emails regarding the event. We had to bake and package the goodies and bring it over to the venue, where it would then be priced and arranged for the bake sale.

I had instantly decided that I would make Cupcakes and Cookies and decided on my most favorite cake flavor Chocolate-Banana for the cupcakes with both vanilla and chocolate buttercream frosting and favorite Chocolate-chip Cookies.

Let’s begin with these cupcakes shall we? This is the exact same cake recipe I used for the Baby Crib Cake and also for Manav’s First b’daycake and you have no idea how people have raved about the unique flavor and texture of this cake. 
Moist and crumbly, dark and chocolaty with a hint of banana flavor,  its perfect. It’s the easiest cake recipe ever and requires no fancy equipment’s - just the ingredients, two bowls and a whisk - that’s it!

I always use Chocolate buttercream as a pair for this cake but it goes really well with Vanilla buttercream as well.  Again this buttercream recipe is a keeper you guys!

I used Wilton 1M tip to pipe the buttercream in a rose pattern and a swirly pattern and jazzed up the Vanilla frosting with sprinkles and sugar crystals and kept the Chocolate buttercream frosting plain and simple. (Recipe shared at the end)

Now let me share a few tid-bits about my prep work for the bake sale apart from baking the goodies.
We were asked to label the goodies and were encouraged to put on our blog’s name on them , so I hand-made these lables on MS Word using the yellow-white polka dot background (which is my blog’s current background) , printed them out and hand-cut each one of them. 
These took me more time and effort than baking the goodies and Manish helped a lot with the technicalities. Thank’s hubby!  What do you think? :-) 

I packaged the cupcakes individually by placing them in plain transparent 9 oz party cups , covered them with transparent bags (treat bags) and tied them with ribbon along with my labels.  And my Chocolate-chip Cookies…two big cookies in a bag! My dad also helped me in packaging these :-)

Lisa was there at the venue along with few volunteers. That’s me posing with a weird smile and writing pricing stickers to put on the goodies. We didn't stay there for long as Lisa had enough volunteers to help her with the bake sale. 

In all my excitement I forgot to take any snaps of the other goodies and I'm still waiting for the pics that Lisa said she took. I will update it here once she shares them. In all we raised around $900 ...yaay!

I had a good time baking, decorating, packaging, labeling , pricing, photographing etc :-) and I do hope some of you who live in MN had stopped by and donated to the event by buying some of the goodies.  

The recipe  for Chocolate-Banana cake can be made into a 9x13 (quarter Sheet) cake or a 10” cake or  two 6” cakes or 24 regular sized cupcakes and I speak by experience on all the cake sizes as I’ve made them all with this cake recipe , of course baking time will vary for each. I only used half the amount to make chocolate buttercream as I didn't need the whole amount.



Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
Recipe source: Joy of Baking
You’ll need
Cake flour* - 1¾  cups (245 grams)
Granulated white sugar - 2 cups (400 grams)
Unsweetened Cocoa powder - ¾ cup (75 grams)
Baking powder – 1½  tsp
Baking soda - 1½ tsp
Salt – a pinch or ¼ tsp
Large Eggs - 2
Mashed ripe Bananas (2 medium bananas) - 1 cup
Warm Water - 1 cup (240 ml)
Milk - ½ cup (120 ml)
Canola oil (or any flavorless oil) - ½ cup (120 ml)
Pure Vanilla extract - 1½  tsp

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Place cupcake liners in the cupcake pan and set aside.
2. In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined. You will notice that the batter is quite thin.
5. Using an icecream scoop or small ladle, fill the cupcake liners about  ¾ full.
6. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway (at around 9 or 10 minutes) through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
7. Let cool in the pans 3-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. ( If left within the pan for too long the cupcake will continue to cook with the heat of the pan and may become less moist)

*{ 1 cup Cake Flour = ¾ th cup APF + 2 tblsp cornstarch } 

  
Vanilla and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
(Both recipes  yields 2-3 cups of frosting)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Recipe source : Savory Sweet Life
You’ll need
Unsalted Butter , at room temp – 1 cup (that’s  2sticks or ½ pound)
Powdered sugar or Confectioners’ sugar (sifted) – 3 or 4 cups
Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 tblsp
Milk or heavy cream – 4 tblsp or as needed
Salt – a pinch (optional)
Directions
1.Beat butter until smooth and creamy using a paddle attachment on medium speed if using KitchenAid mixer or using electric hand blender.
2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar , little at a time on low speed, until it mixes well with the butter.
3. Increase the speed to medium and add Vanilla extract, salt (if using) and 4 tblsp of milk/heavy cream. Combine well for few minutes until smooth and creamy. 
(If you want a thicker frosting add remaining 1 cup sugar. If you want a thinner consistency add more milk 1 tblsp at a time )


Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Recipe source : Savory Sweet Life
You’ll need
Unsalted Butter , at room temp – 1 cup (that’s  2sticks or ½ pound)
Powdered sugar or Confectioners’ sugar (sifted) – 3 ½  cups
Cocoa powder (sifted) – ½ cup
Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp
Milk or heavy cream – 4 tblsp or as needed
Salt – a pinch (optional)
Directions
1.Beat butter until smooth and creamy using a paddle attachment on medium speed if using KitchenAid mixer or using electric hand blender.
2. Sift 3 cups of powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl and slowly add in to the butter, mixing on low speed until everything mixes well.
3. Increase the speed to medium and add Vanilla extract, salt (if using) and 4 tblsp of milk/heavy cream. Combine well for few minutes until smooth and creamy.
(If you want a thicker frosting add remaining  ½  cup sugar. If you want a thinner consistency add more milk 1 tblsp at a time )


Mother's Day is this Sunday, May 12th, so make this cake as your special treat to your mom and trust me you both are gonna love it. Happy Mother's Day in advance to all the wonderful mommy's out there...you are the best!

Another cool thing I wanted to share was my blogger friend Jehanne's  Mother's Day newsletter. She was so kind enough to share my Mini Bundt Apple pie in the apple love section. I absolutely loved the newsletter and I bet you will too.  Check it out here and give her some comment love will you :-)

-Manju


May 6, 2013

Kerala style Chicken Dry Roast ....daddy special :-)


Hiya all…how have you all been? Looks like it has stopped snowing here and we’re hoping for some much deserved warm climate . We’re enjoying our backyard to the fullest. A week back we planted some plantlings and also bought some Roses and herbs and we are enjoying seeing them grow slowly and Lil’Appu can’t have enough of playing with the watering hose. The first time he held it, he sprayed water all over himself and din’t like it at all…he said ‘ot’ when the cold water hit his face :-) He can’t seem to tell the difference between hot and cold, if it feels hot he says ‘ot’ and if it’s cold he still says ‘ot’…I guess for him saying Hot is easier than saying Cold…Oh well! ;-)
Coming to today’s special recipe. It’s a Kerala style chicken dry roast and guess who made it? – my dad! Daddy (ya I call him daddy n not Dad) has an excellent taste when it comes to cooking.  Nothing fancy or anything, but whatever it is that he cooks always tastes great. He’s the youngest son in his family and remembers having a good time helping out his mom and sisters while they cooked. During his childhood he was always the vegetable peeler, non-veg chopper, coconut scraper and taste tester in the house it seems and he loves his Kerala food to be authentic and simple. Having lived as a bachelor for few years before marriage, he learnt to cook by himself and makes some excellent Keralite dishes. 

So last week when Manish and I returned home from work, what do we smell in the kitchen?…the lovely aroma of Chicken curry mmmmmmm and there were fresh made chapathis too!
I was so hungry I just took a chapathi and dug into it straight from the cooked pan itself and gave some to Manish as well and boy was it awesome, spicy with a dry gravy and lots of coconut slices (thenga kothu) for some crunch. That’s when daddy came in and asked ‘how’s my chicken curry?’ :-) and mummy starts murmuring ‘the spices n all were my measurements ok’!! Anyway I’m gonna give credits to my dad for this dish b'coz he did make it, with some help from mummy and this was a dish that just had to be on my blog .

I went about figuring out a way to nicely display it. Oh well…I suck at food styling and the lighting was poor as it was quite late in the evening…but I just took whatever pics I could.  My sis-in-law found it funny to serve rice with wine ;-) but this platter below is exactly what we ate with this gorgeous spicy chicken dry roast and it was an awesome combo .

Since I wasn't satisfied with the way the pics came out I wanted to try one last time in a different way and asked mummy  to pose for me holding the dish in hand and she happily obliged :-) 


Kerala style Chicken Dry Roast Recipe

You’ll Need
Chicken with bone (cut into small pieces) – 3 lb or 1.5kg 
Onion (thinly sliced) – 1½  large or 3 medium
Ginger  (thinly sliced and diced) – 2” thick piece
Garlic (thinly sliced and diced) – 4 cloves
Green chillies (sliced) – 3
Tomato (diced into chunks) – 1 large or 2 medium
Corriander powder – 2-3 tblsp
Red Chilli powder – 1-2 tblsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
For tempering:
Coconut oil – 2 tblsp
Mustard seeds – 2 tsp
Dry red Chilli – 2-3
Curry leaves – 1 long sprig (8-10 leaves)
For Garnish
Corriander leaves (finely chopped ) – 1 handful
Fresh Coconut (thinly sliced) – 2 tblsp

Directions
1. In a large pan or non-stick kadai, heat the oil and add mustard seeds. Once the seeds crack, add the dry red chillies and curry leaves.
2. Add the sliced onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies and sauté until the onions turn soft and slightly golden brown.
3. Then add the spices – red chilli, coriander and turmeric powder and keep sautéing until the spices blend well  and starts to leave oil from the sides.
4. Now add the tomato pieces and mix well , cook it until the gravy looks deep brown and thick.
5.  Add the garam masala , enough salt to taste and coconut slices and mix again. Then add the chicken pieces and coat it well with the masala gravy and on low flame cover and cook for 15-20mins without adding any water.
6. Keep stirring in between and cook until any water in the gravy thickens to your liking. Check for seasoning.
7. Finally garnish with Corriander leaves and turn off the stove. Let the chicken dry roast rest in the cooked pan covered for another 15mins before serving hot with Rice, Rotis, Naan or Bread.

Tips and Suggestions:
1. Adjust the spices according to your taste and preference. We like it super spicy and hence these measurements.
2. You need not add coconut slices (thenga kothu) if you do not have it or do not like it.
3.  Using coconut oil gives a unique and authentic flavor and aroma , but you can use any vegetable or canola oil.
4. Covering and letting the dish rest after cooking will help blend in all the flavors.


Oh and before I stop for today, I took part in a Food Blogger Bake Sale last Saturday.  I baked up some Cupcakes and Cookies for the charity event. All about that coming up next, so stay tuned.

-Manju