Baingan Mutter Makhini

mymy k

I can not believe that my small break has (again) turned into a major vacation from my blog. Given the fact that I do this at least once in two years, I won’t say I am surprised by this behavior now.

With the overdose of information from social media, I find that I need a break more frequently than before. Now my everyday food is mostly from simpler sources like books and recipes from friends. I will be back to the blogging scenario, but right now I am taking it slow.

While we are on the topic of recipe from books, this one is also from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 curries. It’s a book that I really like and this recipe was also a success like the other ones I tried. It’s similar in some ways to baingan Bharta but with fresh cream and cashews involved :-). Read on for the recipe and stepwise pictures.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 big eggplant
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cashews or blanched almonds
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2″ long piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tomato chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt as needed

Method:

Rub one teaspoon of oil all over the eggplant. Poke holes all over it using a fork and microwave it for about 8 minutes until its cooked. Take out keep aside until its cool enough to handle.

Peel the eggplants and discard the stem. Mash using a fork or roughly chop using a knife. Add this into a bowl and mix in 2 cups (fresh or frozen) peas, 1/2 cup coriander leaves, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt. Set this aside while we prepare the gravy.

In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil. Add one medium sliced onion, 1/4 cup blanched almonds (or cashews), 2 tablespoons raisins, 4 crushed garlic cloves, 2″ piece of chopped ginger. Cover and let this cook until the onion is caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Add one chopped medium tomato half way through and let it also cook without mixing it in too much.

Once the mix is cooked through, let it cool a bit and grind into a paste, adding a little water if needed.

Clean the skillet and heat it now with one tablespoon of ghee. Add the eggplant and peas mixture and let it cook uncovered until all the moisture has been absorbed. Stir in between to prevent browning. This might take about 10 minutes. Add the onion paste to the cooked eggplant.

Add half cup of cream to the mixer jar to dislodge any remaining onion paste stuck to the jar. Pour the cream to the curry. Mix everything and cook for another 5 minutes, taste testing and adjusting the seasonings if needed. Serve with some ghee on top if preferred.

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Dahi Elaichi Rajma – Red kidney beans with cardamom and yogurt

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This is a curry that is coming straight out of the book 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. When I first took this huge book out of the library, I was disappointed at the lack of pictures. But it didn’t take me long to figure out that the recipes are excellent. I have tried 3-4 recipes from the book and some of them more than once. This easy to make rajma curry has been prepared many times now and I am still surprised at the unique flavor combination of kidney beans with yogurt and cardamom.

Instead of tomatoes, the yogurt brings in the tartness and the cardamom brings in that beautiful, yet light masala flavor. I don’t like using whole cardamom pods so I use only ground cardamom. I wouldn’t use sour yogurt for this recipe as the sourness might overwhelm everything else. Cooking the water off the yogurt is an important part according to the author. This step increases the sharpness of yogurt by letting only the curd pellets remain and be a part of the curry. I am yet to try this with other variety of beans, but I think it would taste equally fabulous.

This is my submission to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge event. Do check out the link to learn more about the event and see who else is participating.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee/oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder or 4 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  • 2 cups red kidney beans, cooked
  • salt as needed
  • coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

 

Heat 2 tablespoons ghee and saute one chopped or sliced small red onion. If you are using whole cardamom pods, you have to add it in along with the onions. If its ground cardamom, you can add after onion is sauteed. Once the onion turns pink, add one cup of yogurt.

 

Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom (I used powder instead of whole pods) and let it cook stirring in between. The water will evaporate leaving yogurt pellets, in about 10 minutes or so.

Add in 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of garam masala and salt as needed. Add 1.5 cups of water, red kidney beans and bring it to a boil. You can add more water, may be 1/2 cup at a time, if the curry seems to be dry.

Add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or red chili powder, if needed. Taste test and adjust seasonings and let the curry cook for about 5-10 minutes on a medium flame. Mash the rajma (red kidney beans) slightly with the back of the ladle if you want it to be little more thicker. Serve with rice or roti.

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This is my submission to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge event. Do check out the link to learn more about the event and see who else is participating.

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Moong Dal Pulao

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It’s been a while since I visited the virtual world, so starting with baby steps again. I am here with a recipe you can try on weekends when the vegetable supply, as a rule for me, is low. This is like a stylish version of Pongal since the base combinations are moong dal, rice and pepper corns. Instead of being mashed up and lumped all together, here the aim is to bring these base flavors in a pulav style, where each grain is separate.

This recipe  is from Vasantha Moorthy’s Vegetarian Menu Cookbook. The recipe is simple and not very time-consuming compared to the regular Indian cooking. The pulav needs a few masalas, a coconut based ground paste and rice and moong. Its sprinkled liberally with fried onions at the time of serving, which adds a TON of flavor to the dish. I used the  ready-made pack, but you can saute two onions until crisp and mix it into the pulav at the time of serving. I serve this with coconut milk based egg curry , but a simple raita would do as well.

This is my submission to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge event. Do check out the link to learn more about the event and see who else is participating.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup moong dal
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt as needed
  • 1 cup fried onions (ready-made OR 2 medium onions sliced thin and fried in 4-5 tablespoons ghee until brown)

To grind and make a paste:

  • 3 tablespoons grated coconut
  • 1″ piece ginger
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 green (or red) chillies
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • 2 cloves, 1 cardamom, 1″ piece cinnamon*
  • 1 medium onion, diced**

*I used cinnamon powder

**I add it sometimes,depending on the state of my pantry contents

Method:

Wash the dal and rice together. Drain and set aside.

Grind the cococnut, coriander leaves, ginger, garlic, chilies, cinnamon and cloves  with a little water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

Heat ghee in your pressure cooker or a heavy bottom pan. Add the cloves, cardamom, peppercorns and bay leaf. Add the chili powder and turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds.

Add the masala paste and saute until the raw flavor goes away, about half a minute. The liquid would evaporate, but take care not to burn it.

Add the rice and dal mix. Fry for a minute or so until its coated well with the masala paste.

Add 3 cups of water (we had a total of 1.5 cups of rice and dal mix, so double of that), salt as needed. Pressure cook for 3 minutes if you are using your instant pot. Else cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is done.

At the time of serving, add some roasted cashews and a handful of fried onions. DO NOT skip the fried onions, they add a lot of flavor to the dish. If you donot have ready made fried onions, then cook two very thinly sliced medium onions to 4-5 tablespoons of ghee and fry until the onions are brown and caramelized. Top the pulao with the prepared fried onions.

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This is my submission to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge event. Do check out the link to learn more about the event and see who else is participating.

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Neapolitan Goosebumps cake

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When my friend’s son asked for a Goosebumps cake last year for his birthday, I had no clue what that meant. I didn’t know then that it was a famous children’s horror book series and there was a movie as well based on the book. A Google Image search followed, but most of those cakes seemed beyond my capabilities. But this particular image with black and white stripes and eye balls seemed doable to me. The top of the cake seemed too blank for me, so I decided to make the Goosebumps logo as well.

This, without an iota of doubt, is the best cake I have ever made. I am talking in terms of the whole package of cake and decoration. The base cake is same as this one, the slutty brownie cake. The cake is not only easy to make and delicious, it makes three 9″ cakes, which makes my life easy. The cookies and oreo layer in that post are replaced by strawberry and chocolate layers, which makes this a Neapolitan cake. So a layer of chocolate cake followed by strawberry layer and then simple vanilla cake. Each layer is liberally sprinkled with about 1/4 cup of sugar syrup to make it moist.

Fondant decorations look scary, but in reality its a lot easier than it sounds. Covering the cake is something I still struggle with as I still get a lot of ‘wrinkles’ at the base. But you can always mask it with a border. Handling fondant is like handling play dough. If you have the right equipment, you are good.

Read on for the recipe.

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Recipe source: Whats Gabby Cooking

Ingredients:

Base cake:

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup corn flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk

*Use 4 cups cake flour instead of a mix of flour and corn flour

Strawberry layer:

  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam

chocolate layer:

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Filling, frosting and toppings:

  • simple syrup : boil 1 cup water with half cup sugar. Cool completely.
  • buttercream recipe, twice the quantity
  • 1/2 cup of buttercream from above plus 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • fondant for covering and decorations
  • 1/4 cup melted white chocolate chips colored with green food coloring for slime

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line three 9″ pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, corn flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat the butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and continue beating at medium speed. Once the four eggs are combined well, add the vanilla essence and beat it in.
  4. We have to add the flour in three batches, alternating it with the buttermilk. That means, we have to first add 1/3rd of the flour mix into the butter mix. Beat at a lower speed to avoid spilling of the flour all over. Once the flour is mixed in without streaks, add one cup of buttermilk and continue beating. Now add half of the leftover flour mix. Once that’s mixed well, add in the rest of buttermilk. Once that’s combined well, add the remaining flour. At any point, you can stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to help combine the batter better.
  5. Divide the batter into three bowls. Add 1/3 cup cocoa powder into one batch, 1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves into another. Leave the third one plain.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 35-45 minutes until a skewer comes free of cake crumbs when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  7. Take off the oven, let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then take off the pan, cling wrap it two times and return to the same pan until its time to decorate.
  8. For decorating, prepare the butter cream. Take half cup of the buttercream and add 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder for making chocolate buttercream. Fill and frost the cake only after its completely cool.
  • Divide the batter into three bowls. Add 1/3 cup cocoa powder into one batch, 1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves into another. Leave the third one plain. Bake until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. About 40 minutes or so.

When the cake has completely cooled down, level the cakes. Save the domes for making the eye balls. Anchor the chocolate cake with a little buttercream to the base. Sprinkle sugar syrup all over the cake and spread a layer of chocolate buttercream. Top with vanilla cake. Spread and level a layer of buttercream. Top with the strawberry layer.

Frost the cake with buttercream. Crumb coat and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before adding one more layer of buttercream.

Cover with fondant and decorate as desired. The eye balls are the leveled cake portions mixed with a little buttercream to give sturdiness. I wrapped them with fondant without any buttercream underneath.

The green slime is MW melted white chocolate chips. I added green food coloring once it was melted completely.

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This post is a part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

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Baked Pasta with Ricotta cheese

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On most Fridays, my husband works from home. Last Friday was no different. I was busy with a cake for my friend’s son and so I had to make a lunch that’s substantial enough for the man but that’s not time consuming. I didn’t want to spend time in front of the stove when I had a lot to do. So baked pasta it was! I like this recipe as the hands on effort is less. You are almost done if pasta is cooked. The rest is just mixing a couple of sauces and baking.

I had tried this recipe two weeks back for Thanksgiving lunch. So I knew it was a good recipe. I had followed the recipe exactly that day and made a Rigatoni pasta pie. You can checkout this one minute video tutorial to see what I am talking about. But I realized that the effort of packing the pasta into the cake pan is really not worth it. I couldn’t fill each pasta with the ricotta filling and the pie collapsed when I cut into it. It was tasty but it didn’t stand by itself like a pie piece. It tasted amazing, so I decided to take the simpler route of just mixing the pesto sauce with the pasta and the baking it. It all tastes the same at the end anyway and the effort is so much lesser.

Read on for the pictorial.

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Recipe adapted from Tastemade.com

  • 1 12 oz pack pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Gemma’s hot sauce
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 – 1.5 cups of shredded cheese of your choice

Bring a big pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to the package instructions. Don’t overcook the pasta. Al dente is fine. For 12 oz pack of tricolor pasta, it was 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix 1 cup basil pesto with 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper for seasoning. I added 1 teaspoon of Gemma’s hot sauce for a spice kick. Transfer pasta to an oven safe pan. Mix in the ricotta with the pasta.

Mix the ricotta well to distribute evenly, taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Now add 1 cup of tomato sauce to the pasta.

Spread the tomato sauce evenly on top of the pasta and top with cheese. I used about 1.5 cups shredded Mexican cheese here. Shredded Mozzarella would work better.

Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Take off the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

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This post is a part of the Bake-a-thon 2017