Chilli idli

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Leftover idlis are a rarity at my place. How will I have leftovers when I hardly make idlis at home?!! With just three of us at home, making dosa turns out to be an easier choice than hauling out the idli plates and waiting 15 minutes for the process to get over. So without doubt, dosa is a winner at my place.

But when I was in Chennai, idlis were regular. Just to make these chili idlis. People usually make these with leftover idls, but I used to make fresh idlis just so that I can pack for the kid’s lunchbox. These do have a bit of veggies on them, but not enough to be called a wholesome dish.

This was another recipe from my close friend there. I used to prepare this a lot when I moved to US also, more for memories than for the actual food. Like I always say, nostalgia is the best flavor for food. The one featured here is coming out of its drafts after a long time. The pictures take me to another era, one of the best in terms of memories for me.

Enjoy!

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Pictorial:

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Heat oil in a pan and saute one small diced onion.  Once its cooked a bit, add one teaspoon of ginger-garlic paste and cook for a minute or two.

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Dice half of a medium capsicum, add and mix well.

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Add in one small diced tomato and cook for a minute or two.

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Add 1 teaspoon tomato ketch up, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and salt. Mix and cook until tomatoes are mashed a bit.

Whisk 1 teaspoon corn flour to 1/4 cup water until no lumps remain. Add that mix to the onion tomato mix and cook for a further minute or two.  I forgot to take a picture of this step.

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Add 3-4 diced idlis and mix well. You can use podi idli also. Cook until it all comes together and taste test to adjust seasonings. Take off the heat and serve as such or with ketch up on the side.

Serves : 1-2

Ingredients:

  • 4 idlis, diced or podi idlis 
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1/2 of a medium capsicum/bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketch up
  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon corn flour
  • 1/4 cup
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan and saute one small diced onion.  Once its cooked a bit, add one teaspoon of ginger-garlic paste and cook for a minute or two.
  2. Dice half of a medium capsicum, add and mix well.
  3. Add in one small diced tomato and cook for a minute or two.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon tomato ketch up, 1 tablespoon soya sauce, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and salt. Mix and cook until tomatoes are mashed a bit.
  5. Whisk 1 teaspoon corn flour to 1/4 cup water until no lumps remain. Add that mix to the onion tomato mix and cook for a further minute or two.
  6. Add two diced idlis and mix well. Cook until it all comes together and taste test to adjust seasonings. Take off the heat and serve as such or with ketch up on the side.

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Paneer tikka pizza

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Today is an anniversary of sorts for me. Its exactly two years since me and my son came to the US. I wouldn’t have remembered the exact date if not for a friend’s birthday coinciding with it. So along with the black forest cake ( hurray for me! Successfully made it, finally!!) for the birthday girl, it gave me a reason to realize that years have flown off and I have survived well.

It wasn’t easy at the beginning. There is so much I still miss about home, especially my friends and family. But slowly you adapt and start appreciating the positives here. Now, I don’t feel the pain as much.

I miss a lot of things about home, but food is never a thing for me. But for the man, paneer tikka pizza is one of the things he misses. This is my trial at remembering the good old times. Nostalgia is a big flavor here, but the pizza recipe is a far cry from the original. Will come back here if I nail the recipe the way I remember it. Meanwhile check it out the way I made it this time.

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To about 1/4 cup thick yogurt, add the following masalas – salt, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon chilli powder (or per taste), 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder), 1 teaspoon garam masala. Mix well. Chop 200 gms paneer into small cubes.

Add the paneer, along with one diced capsicum (red here) to the yogurt mix. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile prepare the pizza base. Spread 2-3 tablespoon pizza sauce (readymade here) and top it with the prepared paneer.

Add 1 to 1.5 cups of grated cheese and bake at 200C/400F for 20-25 minutes. Take off the oven. When cool enough to handle, cut into slices and serve.

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Simple veggie pizza

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They say it pours when it rains and that’s turned out to be true for pizzas at my place. Its ages since I made pizzas, but once I started there was no stopping me! Three pizzas out of the oven was thrilling indeed.

Since my pizza making skills are a little rusted, I was more happy that these came out decent than to worry to much about the imperfections. The yeast Gods weren’t that upset, so the bread part of it came out decent. I did over bake and produce a hard crust for the pizzas, but it was only the edge so no complaints there (well, there is, but let’s ignore it for the time being…and for the future as well! :D).

A simple saute of onions and capsicum was made for the third pizza and this is (was!) one of my oft repeated topping. Anyway, I still have some flour. I still have some yeast. And who knows! maybe more pizzas might come out of the oven.

Mind you, I told pizzas, not buns!!

To make the topping for a 9″ pizza, dice one medium onion and one medium capsicum into big pieces and saute them for a few minutes with salt and pepper. Prepare the pizza base and spread 2-3 tablespoon of pizza sauce(readymade) on top of it. Add the prepared veggie toppings and about 3/4 cup of cheese. Bake at 400F/200C for about 20 minutes until the cheese melts and the base is cooked.

Good topping additions would have been sauteed mushrooms, baby corn and olives.

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Garlic pepper sambar

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Winter hits hard in these parts and along with it comes runny nose and scratchy throat. It was one of those cold nights that we were at a friend’s place and were served this wonderful sambar. This is perfect if you are feeling a little under the weather. Though none of us were actually down with a cold, it still felt so much better with the warmth of pepper running through your throat. You can now imagine me asking her to repeat the recipe (300 times at least) while I was noting it down.

So for the third week of CCChallenge, I am here with a recipe I noted down from my friend and tried at home later. Its special for me because I have never come across this recipe before. When winter comes around, along with the rasam, I am will have a yummy sambar also under my belt this time!

Check out the CCChallenge page for entries from other bloggers.

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Pictorial: (Scroll down for the recipe without the pictures)

Pressure cook half cup of toor dal along with one medium tomato and one medium onion, chopped roughly.Once the pressure is released, mash the dal and keep aside. Peel one whole garlic bulb.

Using a mortar and pestle (or a mixie jar), crush one tablespoon peppercorns. Transfer this into a small plate. Now crush the garlic using the pestle.

Heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil in a pan, add the crushed pepper and let it cook for a minute. Follow it up with the crushed garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add  2 cups water plus 1 teaspoon tamarind paste mixed well. Let it come to a boil.

Add the mashed dal, salt as needed and let it cook and come to a boil. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Take off the heat. For tadka, heat one teaspoon oil and add 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 5-6 curry leaves and 1-2 dry red chillies. Once the seeds splutter, add this to the cooked sambar. Serve with rice.

Recipe source: My friend Purnima

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup toor dal
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 small head of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon pepper corns
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • salt and water as needed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2-3 dry red chili
  • one sprig (5-6) curry leaves

Method:

  1. Pressure cook half cup of toor dal along with one medium tomato and one medium onion, chopped roughly.Once the pressure is released, mash the dal and keep aside.
  2. Peel one whole garlic bulb. Using a mortar and pestle (or a mixie jar), crush one tablespoon peppercorns. Transfer this into a small plate. Now crush the garlic using the pestle.
  3. Heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil in a pan, add the crushed pepper and let it cook for a minute. Follow it up with the crushed garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add  2 cups water plus 1 teaspoon tamarind paste mixed well. Let it come to a boil.Add the mashed dal, salt as needed and let it cook and come to a boil. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Take off the heat.
  5. For tadka, heat one teaspoon oil and add 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 5-6 curry leaves and 1-2 dry red chillies. Once the seeds splutter, add this to the cooked sambar. Serve with rice

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#61 

Cheese Pizza

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Its been ages since I made pizza at home. But then one fine day, I just added some flour and yeast to a bowl and got going from there. I made three pizzas that day and this is the first one.

This pizza was left alone with no toppings other than cheese and a few basil leaves. And not surprisingly, this was the kid’s favorite. Well, looks like that’s all I have to say about this pizza, would you believe?! May be its the fact that I far too sleepy that’s dried up my brain. And my mouth.

Anyway, whatever it is, my dear reader, consider yourself lucky that this is a short and cheesy post. Read on for the recipe and savor it with a bottle of imagination coke (that’s exactly what I got too!!)

This post goes to Blogging Marathon# 66. Check out this page to see posts from other participating bloggers.

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Ingredients:

  • Pizza base dough (half the recipe quantity)
  • 2-3 tablespoon pizza sauce, ready made or homemade
  • 2 cups cheese (or per taste)
  • few basil leaves

Method:

  1. Prepare the pizza base as per the recipe. Once its doubled, flatten it out and divide into two portions.
  2. Roll each portion into circles (about 10-12″ diameter) using hands or rolling pin on a floured surface.
  3. Spread the pizza sauce and then top it with cheese as needed. Add few basil leaves if you have some.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F/180C for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is completely melted. Slice into triangles and enjoy!

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Watermelon salad

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The kid has always been a fan of watermelon. During summer season, vacation, mangoes and watermelons are the things he looks forward to the most! So for this theme of checkerboard, I decided to present him with a rubix cube fashion watermelon salad. The idea, of course, is from the net. There are far too many sources to name any one in particular.

Though it looked an easy task, it was extremely difficult to cut all pieces into same size. Finally I decided to keep a ‘good side’ and let the other sides take a hit. I couldn’t get even a smooth top, but I was impressed with 3 sides. The backside and the top was what took the major hit. It didn’t matter as the cubes came tumbling down as we started attacking the salad with a fork. And to be honest that was the most fun part :-)

This post goes to Blogging Marathon #66 under checkerboard theme. Check out this page to see post from the other participating bloggers. It is also a part of Valli’s Kid’s Delight event, hosted this month  by Archana.

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Ingredients:

  • watermelon cubes
  • honeydew melon cubes

Method:

  1. Dice the water melon into small cubes. Peel and seed the honeydew melon. Dice the pieces similar to the size of watermelon cubes.
  2. Arrange carefully in a rubix cube pattern.
  3. Refrigerate until time of serving.

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Beet salad with basil mayo

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When I picked up checkerboard pattern for this week’s BM theme, I knew I wanted to try really simple recipes and not complicated ones. This salad was my first trial with the theme. Since it was the first time I was making it, I didn’t realize the importance of cutting the vegetables with precision. The salad was good and I still have some beet to finish off, so I might give this recipe another try to close off the gaps and give it a better look. Lets see!

My favorite salad dressing is mayo + yogurt with salt and pepper for seasoning. Its my close friend’s favorite recipe, so ended up being my favorite too :-). This time I decided to flavor it with some basil (been ‘gardening’ a bit, so lots of basil at home) and up the spice level a bit with paprika. That paired well as the mild sweetness from the veggies complimented the sour and slice spice of the dressing. Like I said, I might be trying this recipe again soon.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page to see what other bloggers have cooked up for BM #66.

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Ingredients:

For the salad (serves 2 as a side)

  • 1 small beetroot
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1/2 sweet potato
  • few florets of roasted broccoli, optional
  • salt

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • a handful of basil, chopped finely
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika/chili powder
  • pepper and salt as needed

Method:

  • Prepare the dressing by mixing everything together well. Refrigerate till time to serve.
  • Peel and cook the root vegetables with salt separately until firm. Don’t overcook them as they wont hold their shape when cutting. I pressure cooked for one whistle using separators inside the cooker. The color from beets will bleed into the other two if its all together in the same pan.
  • Once the veggies are cooked and cooled completely, cut them into squares of equal size and refrigerate.
  • At the time of serving, arrange half the prepared dressing on a plate. Arrange the veggies alternatively to form a checkerboard pattern. Enjoy!

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This post goes to Kid’s Delight event, Valli’s brain child and hosted this month by Archana.

Celery rice

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When two ladies talk on phone, a lot of information exchange happens. This recipe is a result of one such phone call. A casual phone call around lunch time with my neighbor led to the “what’s cooking?” question and when she said celery rice, I jumped out to get my pen and a piece of paper to note down the recipe.

I tried it out soon and I have to say that its a good way to use up the HUGE batch of celery we buy from Costco, the wholesale store. The recipe develops flavor as it sits and I thought it tasted a lot better the next day. I served it with plain curd and chana masala (recipe in drafts, hopefully will see the sunlight some day soon!).

The recipe goes to the second week of CCChallenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event. 

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Pictorial

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Wash and soak one cup basmati rice. Set aside.

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Grind one head celery after removing the base and the fibrous parts with one inch piece ginger and couple of green chillies.

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Keep the paste aside.

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In a pan, heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil and add one medium sliced onion. Saute till pink. Add one teaspoon of ginger garlic paste and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

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Follow this up with the masalas : 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder and salt as needed. The masalas can be adjusted according to one’s preferences.

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Saute everything well, add a teaspoon of water if it sticks to the bottom of the pan.

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Add the ground celery paste now. Mix it in. Let it cook for sometime till the raw flavor goes off. Check seasonings and adjust accordingly.

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Time to add the soaked cup of rice and 1.5 cups of water.

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Cover and let it cook until the rice is done, about 7-10 minutes mostly. Serve with raita.

Recipe source: My neighbor Devi

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 head celery
  • 1″ ginger piece, peeled
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 2 teaspoons oil/ghee
  • one medium onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt

Method:

  1. Wash and soak one cup basmati rice. Set aside.
  2. Grind one head celery after removing the base and the fibrous parts with one inch piece ginger and couple of green chillies. Keep the paste aside.
  3. In a pan, heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil and add one medium sliced onion. Saute till pink. Add one teaspoon of ginger garlic paste and let it cook for a couple of minutes.Follow this up with the masalas : 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder and salt as needed. The masalas can be adjusted according to one’s preferences.
  4. Saute everything well, add a teaspoon of water if it sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add the ground celery paste. Mix it in. Let it cook for sometime till the raw flavor goes off.
  5. Check seasonings and adjust accordingly.Time to add the soaked cup of rice and 1.5 cups of water. Cover and let it cook until the rice is done, about 7-10 minutes mostly. Serve with raita.

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Checkerboard cake

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My blogging has been stagnant for a while now and its taken some pushing to get this place back up and running. I always have a big bucket list of excuses ready, but let me just be honest. I don’t know why I needed a break. I am not going through my lazy phase cycle, I am energetic and happy. My laptop’s been acting weird, but yet not enough to keep me away from blogging if I am really keen.

Sometimes, I have learnt, you just have to let things go. Not everything happens your way and if that means no blogging for a long time, let that be it. Good thing about that is you are spared an analysis and a big lecture that would have gone on forever! Know that I am fine, know that I am doing well and know that I don’t blog regularly :-).

Now that I am here, lets talk a bit about the cake. This week’s BM theme is checkerboard and let’s start with the classic checkerboard cake. I have done made this pattern cookies multiple times, but never the cake. So when opportunity arrived in the form of my brother in law’s birthday, the cake had to be checkerboard. The inside patterns are not as sharp as I would like them to be, but I was just happy with the success of the cake than to concentrate on the negatives. I will be updating the mousse frosting and glaze recipe separately. Read on for the procedure to get the pattern.

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Pictorial

Bake one 6″ vanilla cake and one 6″ chocolate cake. Here I made the same vanilla cake batter, divided into two equal portions and added some cocoa powder for the chocolate cake. Time saver!! When the cakes have cooled down completely, slice off the dome (if any) and cut each cake into two layers. Using a 4″ round cookie cutter(or a sharp lid) cut off circles from middle of all four layers.

Using a smaller two inch round cutter, cut smaller circles from middle of all the 4″ cake pieces. Now, put the circles back into the 6″ cake, but alternating the colors.

When its time to assemble the cake, anchor a vanilla cake on the cake board with some frosting. Spread the filling of your choice on top (chocolate mousse here) and top with the chocolate cake. Repeat the process for the other layers, keeping in mind to alternate the colors. (Vanilla ->Chocolate->Vanilla->Chocolate). Frost the cake completely and decorate as you wish.

When you cut the cake, you will see the checkerboard pattern. To get sharper and smoother slices, refrigerate the cake before cutting.Since the cake was tall, I added a thick straw in the middle. This gives some support to the cake to prevent it from sliding and falling down.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#66

Coriander chutney for idli and dosa

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Chutneys are the supporting cast in the South Indian tiffin scenario. The main cast of idlis, dosas or upmas never shine well with out these on the side (literally, in this case).The meal experience is never fulfilling with out these lending their flavors to the main act.

There is an endless array of chutneys out there, most of them different variants of the basic coconut chutney. You can make chutney out of most of the veggies. But my favorite is the onion or tomato chutney, but the man’s heart is really after the coconut kind. So a coriander flavored coconut chutney is a good compromise for us. He gets his coconut flavor and I get my colorful chutney.

This recipe is from the ‘jotting down recipes’ phase of my life. As paper is disappearing more and more from our lives, I was putting in a little effort from my side to preserve the “art” of writing and to prove to my child that my handwriting is not Times New Roman. Needless to say, it didn’t last long. But enjoy the digital version of it where my handwriting really is Times New Roman!

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Serves : 2

Ingredients:

To grind together:

  • 1/3 cup coconut, grated
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves, packed
  • 1.5 tablespoons fried gram (pottu kadalai)
  • 2 green chillies (or per taste)
  • 1″ piece ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • salt as needed

For tadka:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • a pinch of hing
  • 1-2 red chillies
  • 2-3 curry leaves

Method: 

  1. In a mixer, grind the grated coconut with chillies, washed and cleaned coriander leaves, fried gram, ginger, tamarind and salt. It should be a smooth paste. You might have to add a little water for grinding.Tranfer to the serving bowl and keep aside.
  2. To prepare the tadka, heat oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds and red chillies. Once the seeds pop, add the curry leaves and a pinch of hing. Take off the heat after a couple of seconds. Add the tadka to the chutney. Serve with dosa or idli.

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Linking to Valli’s Cookbook Cooking Challenge.