Passionate about Granola

Granola is a must in every blog I guess :-)! Almost all the yummy food blogs that I go through has at least one entry for this recipe. I don’t know why there is a strong attraction to Granola- but if you have a blog, you gotta include this in your recipe list.

So here I am – determined not to be left out. Mission now is to find that perfect recipe, which will make me the Granola queen of the neighborhood. And you know what? This one did! At least three people asked me what I cooking because of the wonderful aroma coming from my kitchen :). My son finished a bowl of these with milk, as soon as it was cool enough to eat. What more can one ask for! A true case of ‘Neighbor’s envy! Owner’s Pride’.

I had already zeroed down on the Granola recipe, when I came across the tried and tested event for this month. The event was started by Zlamushka and is now taken care by Lakshmi of Kitchen Chronicles. This month the event is hosted by Jayasri of Samayal Arai.

And the blog for this month is Deeba’s Passionate About Baking. What a coincidence for me! I wanted to make the Granola anyway and now I can submit it for the event too. Two birds, one shot!

I had made slight changes in the recipe.  You can find the exact recipe in Deeba’s blog. But thought I will pin it down here for lazy people like me.

Ingredients :

3 cups oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup seedless dates, chopped fine
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips or shavings*

*chocolate doesn’t last more than 3 minutes in this house, so I didn’t use this.

Method: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a large baking tray covered with parchment paper.
  2. Mix oats, wheat germ, dates raisins and chopped almonds in a big bowl.
  3. Heat a small pan, add the butter, salt, sugar, honey,water and vanilla together.
  4. Stir and cook till the sugar dissolves completely.
  5. Make a well in the oats mix and add the liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  6. Transfer into the prepared baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Stir in between with a wooden spoon to ensure even browning.
  8. Once its cool, add the chocolate chips to the granola and store in an air tight container.
  9. Serve with milk or just snack it up

Note:

Remember the step which said “Stir in between with a wooden spoon”? Well, they really mean it! Luckily, the enlightening happened before the entire batch was burnt.

And now I know why Granola has a spot in every food blogger’s menu. Its easy and economic to make at home and the result feels like a luxury item :)

Sending this to Taste Junction’s Drive Me Nuts event too.

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Kadai Paneer with Gravy

2paneer

The man doesn’t like dals. He doesn’t protest much, but that disappointed look in his face is enough to stop me from buying Mung dal ever again! The other day when I made Luchis and Cholar dal, I had made Kadai Paneer as a back up – in case he has that “What!!!! Dal today???” question with a wounded look on his face. 

Luckily, he liked the dal that day, but he liked the Kadai Paneer even better! Simple and easy to make, this one is a sure winner. You can substitute paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese) with cooked potatoes, cauliflower or brinjal. But then, of course, you cannot refer it to as kadai Paneer :D. 

I have adapted the recipe from Sandeepa’s Bong Mom’s CookBook

1paneer

Ingredients: 

  • Onion : 1 big, chopped fine
  • Capsicum (Bell Pepper) : 1 medium, cubed
  • Tomato : 2 medium, pureed
  • Paneer : 200 gms, cut into cubes
  • Ginger Garlic Paste : 1 teaspoon
  • Kasoori Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves) : 1 teaspoon
  • Garam Masala : 1 teaspoon
  • Chilli Powder : 1 teaspoon
  • Ground coriander: 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder : 1/4 teaspoon
  • Salt : to taste
  • Oil : 1 tablespoon
  • coriander leaves to decorate

The recipe serves 2 people

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan and once its hot, add the onions and ginger-garlic paste. 
  2. When the onions turn transparent, add the capsicum cubes and cook for 5 minutes or till it turns soft. 
  3. Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, ground coriander salt and garam masala. 
  4. Mix and coat the onions and capsicum nicely with the masalas. 
  5. Add the pureed tomato and kasoori methi leaves. Add about 1/2 cup water, if you need the curry to be gravy. You can increase this by another half cup, if you feel the gravy is too thick. Sometimes people add milk or cream as well instead of water for the gravy.
  6. Add paneer and let it cook for 3-4 minutes. Take care not to break the paneer pieces. 
  7. Check and adjust the seasonings, if required.
  8. Switch off the stove, sprinkle coriander leaves on top and serve hot with any of  the Indian flat breads. 

3paneer

Note: 

I have got a new Chef’s knife, so I chop everything fine. No dicing, no cutting into cubes- only chopping :D. 

I accidentally poured more oil into the pan when I started making this. So the curry turned out to be a bit more oily that I would have liked.  

Recipe serves two.

Veggie Jai-ros..eh Yee-rows..eh Gyros

Well, we had Yee-rows, or gyros as they are (mis)spelled, for lunch this month. Since it was the first time I was making it, I had made our usual lunch as a ‘disaster back up’. I needn’t have – the pitas came out beautifully, the tzatziki was cool and perfect for summer, and the rajmah filling was wonderful. It was a nice blend of all things yummy.

I had joined the google groups ‘The 4 velveteers’  last month and the challenge for this month was Gyros, set by Asha from Fork Spoon and Knife.

I haven’t heard about Gyros before. So in case you are just like me, wondering what this ‘Yee-row, Jai-ro, Gyro thing’ is, it is a sandwich wrapped in a pita bread. It usually has a layer of meat or meat substitutes, followed by salads – mainly onion and tomatoes, and topped with tzatziki (cucumber with yogurt) sauce.

So I divided the task into three – bread baking, red kidney bean filling and the cucumber sauce.

First thing in the morning (which was almost afternoon :D), I made the dough for pita bread. While it was resting, I made the cucumber sauce and kept it in the fridge. The next step was to make the red kidney beans filling and cut the salad vegetables. After that, it was back to pita rolling and baking. Once the pitas were done, I assembled the gyros. Then came the important part – trogo  – well, if that sounds greek to you, it actually is. Trogo is the greek word for eating.

I followed the fresh loaf’s recipe for pita bread. The site has clean and clear instructions. I used 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour. I had also added four teaspoons of vital wheat gluten to it. I noted that the pitas with uniform thickness puffed up fine for me, the others didn’t puff up fully.

I followed thetofuguru’s video for the sauce and filling, with variations to suit our taste.

Tzatziki Sauce: 


Ingredients:

Cucumber : 2, small 

Yogurt : 2 small tubs of 200g each 

Sour cream : 1 tub (I didn’t use this)

Juice of half a lemon 

Garlic : 1 clove 

Mint : 4-5 leaves

Method:

  1. Grate the cucumber first and let it drain in a strainer.
  2. I drained the yogurt too for some 15-20 minutes in a big  juice strainer.
  3. Mix the yogurt, sour cream (if using), lemon juice and mint leaves.
  4. Squeeze water out of the grated cucumbers and add to the yogurt mix.
  5. Mix nicely and let it rest in the fridge for at least two hours for the flavors to blend. 

Red Kidney Bean Filling:

Ingredients:

Onion : 1 big, chopped

Red Kidney beans : 1 can, drained (about 400 gms)

Olive oil : 1 tbsp

Chilli powder : 1-2 tsp, per taste

Salt & Pepper : to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan, cook the onions till transparent. 
  2. Add the red kidney beans, chilli powder, pepper and salt. 
  3. Cook for 4-5 minutes, till everything is nicely mixed. 
  4. Turn off the heat and keep aside.

Assembling: 


  1. Keep the pita bread in a plate / napkin.
  2. Add the red kidney beans filling.
  3. Add chopped onions and tomatoes.
  4. Top it with tzatziki sauce.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Fold the pita and wrap with the napkin.
  7. Serve with french fries, if desired.

Verdict:

Absolutely loved these wraps! Next time (yes, I will make it again), I will be increasing the spice components for the sauce and the filling. I will be making the pitas bigger too.

I would never ever have made Pita bread or gyros, if not for this challenge. So, thank you Asha for introducing this dish to our table :)!

Linking this to the Saturday Evening Pot and Tasty Tuesdays.

The 4 Velveteers was started by Pamela, Aparna, Asha, and Alessio, who are passionate about different cuisines and food in general. Each month, we will attempt a new dish and share our experiences and the recipes we used. If you’re interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our Google group http://groups.google.com/group/the-4-velveteers.

Please check out what the other Velveteers have created:

Sarah : Lamb Kebabs and Pita Bread

Aparna : My Vegetarian Version of The Gyro Sandwich

Alessio : Crispy pork belly gyros of many traditions

Veggie Momos

New born babies look a lot like monkeys. Sure, babies look cute after the initial couple of months, but I really couldn’t understand what beauty is there in a wrinkly, wriggly new born with skin coming off! All this thought process was, of course, before I became a mommy.

A very close friend’s son was born six months before Bebo. I saw him a couple of hours after he was born and I was absolutely blown away…that was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen!!! He didn’t remotely look like the wrinkly monkey face I was expecting. So I came out of the hospital thinking that ‘Yeah, some babies really do look beautiful’.

Six months later, when Bebo was born, I was again in for a shock. There he was – the most angelic looking child in the world!! He didn’t look like a monkey in the least!! So I thought, proudly, that there were indeed ‘Johnson & Johnson’ ads kind of new born babies too.

Now when I look at those photos, taken when Bebo was in hospital – well… he does look a bit like monkey. I mean, tightly closed eyes – clenched fists – skin peeling and all.. He looks very cute, but there is no denying that he looks just like all other new borns. 

And now -all babies- new born or not, look very very cute to me. My niece was born last week and I was telling everyone (who would listen to me :D) how beautiful she looks. 

People usually distribute sweets when babies are born, I deviated a bit and made momos, when my niece was born.  I meant to share them, but they were so good that I didn’t even realize that I had almost finished the entire batch :D. So I am just going to give a visual treat to all of you and buy a pack of chocolate to distribute around here.


 Ingredients: 

Dough:

All purpose flour : 2 cups 

Salt : 1/4 tsp or to taste

Oil : 1- 2 tsp

Water : To make the dough (approx 1/2 cup)

Filling : 

Cabbage : 2 1/2 cups, chopped into tiny bits (One small Cabbage)

Carrot : 1 cup (2-3), grated or chopped very fine

Onion : 1 medium, chopped fine

Mushrooms : 100 gms, chopped fine

Ginger garlic paste : 1 tsp

Green Chillies : 1-2 , per taste, chopped fine

Salt : to taste

Chilli Chutney: 

Dry Red Chillies : 4-5 , soaked in a little warm water for 15 minutes

Garlic : 6-8 pods

Coriander Seeds : 1 tsp

Cumin (Jeera) Seeds : 1 tsp

Oil : 1 tbsp

Salt : 1/2 tsp

Sugar : 1 tsp

Vinegar : 3 tbsp

Soya Sauce : 1/2 tsp 

Method : 

  1. For the dough, add the flour, along with the salt in a big bowl. Add oil and add 1/4 cup water. 
  2. Start kneading with your hands, adding water as you need to get a soft, but firm dough. Keep aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, add the finely chopped onion, chillies and ginger garlic paste. 
  4. Once its cooked, add the mushroom and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add cabbage and carrot. Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes till its cooked.  
  5. Add salt, check the seasonings and adjust accordingly, and keep aside. I added a bit of Sabji masala, since I had them at home. 
  6. Take the dough, tear off a small marble sized ball from it. Roll it out into small rounds, around 3″ or to the size of your palm. 
  7. Place the rolled dough in your hand, and add a teaspoonful of the filling in the center. 
  8. Follow the method in this video, cause I don’t think I will be able to put it in words. 
  9. When you have made all your momos, steam them for about 8-10 minutes in a steamer. Check for doneness. Serve with a hot chilli sauce. 
  10. For the chilli chutney, grind everything together except the vinegar and soya sauce. You can include the water in which the chillies are soaked too. 
  11. Check the seasonings and add vinegar and soya sauce according to taste. 

Note:

I didn’t have mushrooms at hand, so I just skipped using them.

I steamed the momos in an idli cooker.

I couldn’t get the frills right, so just pressed the edges together :D. 

I already had some ready made garlic chilli sauce. So I didn’t make any. The original recipe for chutney is from Nita Mehta’s cookbook. 

Luchis and Dal

There’s many a slip between the cup and lip. One of the many slips (or at least cause of delay between the cup and the lip) is a food blogger with a camera :D.

Oh Poor Harry, he (with a grumbling tummy) stands next to me while I click and click and click away with a look of frustration/concentration on my face. I show him the pictures cribbing how bad they are, while the whole time he would be drooling at the food. Taking photos of food rich in flavor and aroma are almost killers for him. Imagine standing next to yummy aromatic food when you are hungry, and yet not being able to eat it. Torture..pure torture…

Bebo has a different reaction to my taking food photos. He and his friend Mittu (our 5 year old neighbour), bring chairs for themselves, with a request to take their picture with the food. I get to the food only after taking a dozen photos of the two of them first :-)))). Thank god for digital cameras!

Puris are Harry’s absolute favorites – He LOVES them and I never make them :D. I am really scared about handling hot oil. But this time I thought I will give it a try. After all, love makes you do crazy things – the least I can do is to make puris for my hubby. And lets make Luchis, instead of puris (all purpose flour instead of whole wheat). And since I am anyway making them, I can as well enter it for the ‘Flavours of Bengal’ event hosted by Priya. The event was started by Nayna of Simply Food.


I didn’t even think twice about switching from whole wheat to all purpose flour – I figured that if I am deep frying them, I can as well chuck out the wholegrain factor. I made Cholar Dal and Kadai Paneer to go with the Luchis. Cholar Dal is not an everyday dal for Bengalis. Its made on special occasions like weddings and birthdays. Kadai Paneer was a back up, since Harry doesn’t usually like Dals. But he really liked this one!

I read up a bit about Bengali food, I found Sandeepa’s Bong Mom’s CookBook to be nice, informative and interesting. The recipe for Luchi is adapted from there. I adapted Cholar dal recipe from Mallika’s Quick Indian Cooking – an absolutely lovely blog! I really love her writing style :)


Recipe for Luchi 

Ingredients: 

All Purpose Flour (Maida) : 2 cups
Oil : 1-2 tbsp
Salt : A pinch
Water : As required, to kneed into a dough
Oil for deep frying

Method:

  1. In a big bowl, add the flour and salt and mix nicely.
  2. Add the oil and start adding the water. Kneed with your hands.
  3. Add water in 1/4 cups in the beginning and once the dough starts coming together, add the water in tablespoons.
  4. The dough should be soft, but firm. It shouldn’t be soggy. In case it is, add a little bit of flour.
  5. Make small balls of the dough and roll them not too thin circles, about 4 -5″ in diameter.
  6. Donot dredge the Luchis in flour, as you would for chapathi. Use oil, if needed.
  7.  Heat oil for frying in a deep pan. Wait for the oil to become hot, but not smoking hot.
  8. Dip an end of the luchi into the oil. In case the end bubbles up, the oil is ready.
  9. Deep fry in the oil. When it puffs up, flip over with a slotted spatula.
  10. Take out, keep in a paper napkin.
  11. Fry the rest of the luchis the same way and serve with Cholar dal.
The luchis will puff up only if the oil is of the right temperature.
If you roll the dough paper thin , it won’t puff up (personal experience).
Don’t stack them as they collapse (common sense, but mine had gone for a walk at that point).

Cholar Dal Ingredients 

Chana dal : 250 gms
Garam masala : 1 tsp
Turmeric powder : 1tsp
Chilli Powder : 1 tsp
Coriander Powder : 1 -2 tsp
Green Chillies : 1-2
Raisins : 2 tbsp ( I added more :D )
Almonds : 5-6 sliced into small bits
Ghee for tempering
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Wash the dal thoroughly, add the turmeric powder and cook in the pressure cooker with 3 times water.
  2. After the first whistle, keep in sim for 10 minutes. I kept mine in a separator along with rice.
  3. Once the dal is cooked, heat it in a kadai and add the other masalas (garam masala, chilli powder, coriander powder). 
  4. Add salt and cook for 5 minutes, mashing the dal nicely. 
  5. For tempering, in a separate pan, heat the ghee. Add the chillis, raisins and almonds.
  6. Pour over the dal and serve.
Note: 
You are supposed to use coconut shreds for tempering. I didn’t have any at home, so I used sliced almond instead.
The recipe had 1 tsp cumin powder and 1/2 tsp sugar in its masala list. You can add it along with the other masalas in case you are using it. 

Verdict :
Absolutely loved it! Everything got over so fast that I had to make it again the next day to just photograph them :))). Harry sure is learning to survive ;-)!