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Posted by DesiGirl 08:32 4 comments  

Brinjal Overdose!

Time was, I used to hate this veg with a passion. My dad loved it so it featured with irritating regularity in the house menu. Turns out the pater's body sided with me all those years. One fine day, it decided enough it had silently borne this brinjal overdose long enough but now it was time to put the foot down. So it did with a vengeance the next time he popped a few down the gullet and that was the end of that.

As luck would have it, the lack of the ubiquitous veg invoked a craving in me and I developed a liking for it. Soon enough, I had no less than five entertaining ways of cooking the once damned vegetable. So I decided to make up with this former enemy in the best way possible - by filling a whole blog post about it.

The featured recipe is known as 'ennai kathirikkai' in Tamil and 'guthi vankaya' in Telugu. First is ennai kathirikkai, the way my mum and gran make it.

Ennai Kathirikkai Karamadhu

Brinjals, small - 250 gms

Red chillies - 5
Dhaniya - 1 tbsp
Peppercorns - 1 tbsp
Channal dal - 1 tbsp
Dessicated coconut - 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few sprigs

Salt - to taste
Oil - 3 tbsp

To make this very simple preparation, first wash the vegetables well in water and dry them free of water. Make + shape slits into them and dunk them into salted water.
Next, roast red chillies, dhaniya, peppercorns and channa dal in half a tablespoon of oil for a few minutes. Add the dessicated coconut last and allow them to cool for a while. After a few minutes grind them coarsely, add salt and stuff them inside the cut brinjals, taking care not to break the vegetables.
In the same kadai, take couple of tablespoons of oil and toss some mustard seeds and curry leaves in. Once the seeds stop spluttering, add the spice-coated brinjals to the kadai and mix well in the oil. Cook in a slow fire, tossing the shiny vegetables every so often till it is well cooked.
Serve hot with rice and onion sambhar.

The next one is how my MIL makes it. It is as different to the previous way of preparing the same veg as the proverbial chalk and cheese.

Guthi Vankaya

Brinjals - 250 gms
Onion - 1, chopped finely
Channa dal - 3 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tbsp
Dhaniya - 1/2 tbsp
Methi seeds, mustard seeds, jeera and mustard seeds - 1 tsp each
Dried red chillies - 6
Dessicated coconut - 1 tbsp
Tamarind - as needed
Oil - 4 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Jaggery - tiny piece

Soak a big lime-sized ball of tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes, till it tenderises completely. Strain and keep aside.
Fry all the masala ingredients (except for onions, brinjal and coconut) in a tablespoon of oil.
Once it is cooled, grind in a dry jar along with the grated coconut. Mix with the tamarind pulp.
Add finely diced onions to this paste and season with salt.
Make + shaped slits into the fleshy part of the brinjal, taking care to retain the green stem and stuff with the paste.
Heat the oil in a kadai and gently drop in the stuff veg one by one. Coat in oil and cook for a few minutes. Pour the rest of the paste over this, dilute with water, cover with a tight lid and cook over a slow fire.
After 15 minutes, add some powdered jaggery and cook some more.
Check seasoning and take off the flames.
Serve with rice.

Vankaya Masala

I learnt of this Hyderabadi way of preparing the same dish from a friend's visiting MIL. This is slightly fiery compared to the former, tamer versions. Avoid if you have asthma or peanut allergy.

Brinjals - 500 gms
Onion - 2, medium
Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
Jeera - 1/2 tsp
Dhaniya powder - 1 tsp
Sesame powder - 2 tsp
Roast groundnut powder - 1 tbsp
Cloves - 2
Red chillies - 6
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Tamarind - a lime-sized ball
Jaggery - a small piece
Oil - 3 tbsp

In a dry jar, powder finely the jeera and methi seeds.
Make the now famous + shape cuts into the brinjals and put them in salted water.
Cut the onions into rough pieces and fry them in oil till they are translucent.
Grind along with jeera-methi powder, dhaniya powder, sesame powder, groundnut powder, red chillies, cloves, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric and salt.
Fry the brinjals in two tablespoons of oil till they are partially cooked. Add the masala paste to the vegetables and mix well. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Now add the strained tamarind and cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Add some powdered jaggery, check for seasoning and cook for couple of minutes.
Serve hot with rice.

Submitted a day late to JFI: Brinjals, hosted by Sangeeta of Ghar Ka Khana

Posted by DesiGirl 09:16 5 comments  

Torte del Cielo

Meeta of WFLH recently celebrated her birthday. I came to know of that fact and her decision to throw a Birthday Bash earlier this morning when I was checking out Nandita's blog for any new goodies. At the birthday girl's request to make some party grub for her, I put on my thinking hat and wondered what to make. After scratching my scalp away, the bulb went off in my head - I could make my world-famous (ish!) Mexican almond cake. Called 'Torte del Cielo' or a slice of heaven, this cake is truly scrumpilicious. So, here it is! Oh, happy birthday Meeta!

Things you need to make this are:
Almonds in their skins - 175 gms
Eggs - 3
Plain flour - 9 tbsp
Butter - 225 gms, unsalted
Sugar - 225 gms
Almond essence - 1 tsp
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Nutmeg - 1 tsp
Salt - a pinch

For decoration
Toasted almond flakes - 1 tbsp (optional)
Icing sugar

Now, take a cake tin (preferably round), lightly butter it and line it with baking paper. Preheat the overn at Gas Mark 4 (350 deg F).
Grind the almonds to make a rough mixture. Set it aside
In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Add lightly beaten eggs, the almond mixture, nutmeg and the two essences and beat well till they are mixed well.
Slowly sift the flour into the bowl, add salt and fold it all together.
Pour the batter into the greased tin; smoothen the top of the cake.
Bake the cake for about 50 minutes; when a pick comes out clean, you'd know the cake's dne.
Remove it from the oven and let it rest on a wire rack.
Decorate with almond flakes. Dust icing sugar all over it and serve.

ps: Sorry about the dodgy pic! Best I could do in a hurry!

Posted by DesiGirl 21:47 3 comments  

A Summery Pancake

Pancakes are my son's favourite breakfast dish. Though the flavour of the moment is generally labelled as 'favourite' by him, giving him pancakes for breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner is a surefire way to make him clear his plate. So, here's a 'child-friendly dish'.

To make the pancakes, you would need the following items:
Plain flour (maida) - 110 gms (sieved)
Egg - 2
Milk - 200 mls
Butter - a tablespoonful
Salt - a pinch
Sugar - a spoonful
Ghee, for cooking

For the filling, round up the following bits
berries, chopped - 1 cup (go for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries - any or all, as you wish!)
banana - 1, chopped
maple syrup - as required
powdered sugar - as required

Now that you have the above mentioned things, you are ready to get started. To make the pancakes, all you'd need is a flat bottomed pan (a tawa) and a spatula.
First, crack the egg and beat it till it is well mixed. Next, comes the tricky bit, you might need to rope in your helper for this. Add the sieved floor to the beated egg slowly, all the while trickling in the milk. Keep the whole process slow and fluid so as to not get lumps in your batter.

Now, add the knob of soft butter, salt and sugar and stir everything in. The consistency of the batter should be that, it must be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon neatly. If it is too runny, add some maida. Too think, trickle in some more milk.
Your batter is now ready.
Heat the tawa, put a spot of ghee in the middle and give it a good shake.
Pour a ladleful of the pancake batter and coat the tawa with it by holding on the handle.
Let it cook a bit.
If you can, shake it loose and toss it. If you are apt to decorate the ceiling with it, coax it out with a wooden spatula and flip it over.
After a few more seconds, transfer the steaming pancake on to the plate.

Now is the most fun bit - your helper would love this. Plonk the fruits onto the middle portion of the pancake - go crazy and add however much you want. Once you are done, roll it up. Drizzle some maple syrup over it and finish by dusting some icing sugar over it.
Ta-da! Your pancake is now ready for your tastebuds.

Chef's tip: This is a good dish to make with your children. They can help beat the egg, trickle in the milk, fill the pancakes etc. As they helped you out so much in the creation of it, they would be more amenable to helping you in demolishing it as well!

Submitted for May's WBB#11 Summer Fruits as well as Trupti's Spring Fling 2007: Family & Friends in the kitchen.

Posted by DesiGirl 09:52 0 comments  

Strawberry Smoothie

Strawberry Smoothie

Summer's almost upon us and the fruit & veg shops are full of the most luscious looking berries. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and black - the plump, juicy, glistening fruits tempt you with their sweetness. What a better way to indulge in some healthy berries than a berry smoothie, I ask you?!

Get your grubby mitts on the following:
Berries (your fave kind - I've gone with strawberries here) - 1 cup
Vanilla yoghurt - a generous dollop
Banana - 1, medium
Wheatgerm powder - 1 tbsp

All you have to do to enjoy a tall and healthy glass of smoothie is chuck all of the above together and blend. Voila! A filling and fun breakfast is now served. Add a sprig of mint to the glass to make it a bit classy. If you find the above mixture a mite thick, loosen it up a bit by adding some skimmed or soya milk.
And relax!

Posted by DesiGirl 23:08 1 comments  

Vazhaikaai podimas

This is a typical Tambram recipe - though I am not a massive fan of raw plantain, I can gulp down every single morsel if it is made this way. Using the same method, you can substitute potato for plantain and make yummy urulai podimaas (உருளை பொடிமாஸ்)

First, gather around these important items:

Raw plantain - 2
Toor dal, parboiled - 2 tbsp

Urad dal - 1 tsp
Channa dal - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 1-2
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Dessicated coconut - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - a handful
Salt, asafoetida and turmeric - a pinch
Oil - 2 tbsp

To start with, cut a plantain roughly into 3 small chunks and drop it in salted, boiling water. Do not peel the skin now. Once it is cooked, drain the hot water and keep the veg aside.
Cook the toor dal till it is half done.
In a non-stick pan, heat the oil. Drop the channa and ural dals in it and saute till golden. Next, add the slit green chillies and continue sauteing. Add grated ginger, dessicated coconut and torn curry leaves and fry for a minute or two. Finally, add some mustard seeds and allow it to splutter.
Strain the parboiled toor dal so no water remains and mix with the ingredients of the pan and let it all cook together.
Meanwhile, peel the skin off the cooked plantains and mash the chunks roughly, using the back of a fork. Season it with salt.
Add the mashed plantains to the non-stick pan and mix well. Add asafoetida and turmeric, check the salt and mix well.
Serve hot with rice.

Posted by DesiGirl 23:29 4 comments  

Veggie adai

Adai is a traditional Tamil dinner dish that is quite healthy too. Having a really dodgy digestive system, I was always restricted to just one adai for most of my life, till I hit my 20's. It was never my favourite dish though.

A few years back, the dietician at my brother's gym gave him a new recipe for it that made it positively lip smacking! This is a dieter's delight and as it fills you up, you can just have two of these and die happy.

Things you need are:
1/2 cup channa dal
1/4 cup toor dal
1/4 urad dal
1 cup idli rice
4-5 crushed red chillies
1 cup grated veg - carrots, cabbage
1 tbsp dessicated coconut (optional)
1 red onion, sliced finely
a sprig of curry leaves
a pinch of asafoetida
salt to taste

To start with, soak the rice and dal for about four hours. After that, grind them coarsely, along with the dried red chillies and the dessicated coconut.
Season with salt, asafoetida and torn curry leaves.
Now, your batter is ready.
Take some of it in a clean bowl, sprinkle the onions and the grated veg and mix well. Mixing the veg and onions with the whole of your batter would make the veg go soggy and the batter would not last for long.
Heat a tawa till it is very hot.
Take a ladleful of the doctored batter (!), pour it in the tawa in a circle and spread it thin, just like you would make a dosa.
Flip it over after it has cooked on one side. Cook till well done.

You can eat it with that delectable medley of vegetables, aviyal.

Posted by DesiGirl 08:24 2 comments