Friday, October 26, 2007

Poached Spiced Pears in Pear Sauce

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When it comes to desserts, I always choose fruits over others (Yeah! even Chocolate)...not because of the nutrition and calorie part, but because of the simplicity and ease with which you can turn out a dessert that will surely make heads turn. Even a novice who turns up concocting disasters in the kitchen can create wonders with them ( that is where chocolate takes a need to know your stuff while working with chocolate). Also, the plate presentation becomes far easier because the way nature has endowed them with beauty to appeal to any eye.
Pears happen to be my favorite in desserts. They are shapely, juicy, delicious and so easy to make things with. Best they go with just about anything ( even other fruits).
This one is just one of the different recipes that I have turned out with fruits (largely Pears) and will continue posting on this site.

5-6 Cloves
1 Glass Port Wine ( Can substitute with Red Wine)
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
4 Large Firm Bosc Pears

For The Sauce:
2 Small Pears
1 Tblsp Butter
4 Tblsp Sugar

Vanilla Ice Cream or any other flavor you like ( I chose a unique flavor called Gulab Jamun...loved it)

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add pears, reduce heat, cover and simmer until pears are tender(say 20 minutes).
2. Cool pears completely in syrup. Cover; chill in syrup overnight.
3. Transfer pears to a separate bowl. Cover and chill pears.
4. Core & Chop the small pears roughly and put in poaching liquid.
5. Boil poaching liquid in large saucepan until reduced to 1 cup.
6. Puree the poached roughly chopped pears. Add back to the reduced poaching liquid.
7. In a pan, melt the sugar over low heat, stirring with a fork, swirling the pan gently, until the sugar starts to caramelize.
8.Add in the butter( The butter stops further caramelization of the sugar, thus stopping it from burning).Let the butter melt (DO NOT try and touch this liquid with the fork or any ladle).
9. Add in the pureed pears with the reduced poaching liquid. Add in some water.
10. Let this sauce cook for some time. After say 5-7 minutes you will find that the caramelized sugar ( even the one sticking to the bottom of the pan) has dissolved in the sauce and the sauce has thickened.
10.Arrange poached pears on plates. Place scoop of ice cream on one side of each plate. Drizzle sauce over pears. Serve.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Carrot Idli ( Steamed Carrot Rice Cake)

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Truthfully I haven't been much of an Idli fan. To put it more clearly, contrary to the typical Indian guy who dotes on all Udipi fare like Dosas, Vadas, Idli & Sambhar, I can comfortably count myself out. Having said this, my wife has had a single purpose of ensuring I take to liking it, just like our son has (Idlis are his staple breakfast item). To reach her end goal, I have been subject to different variations of Idli over the past few years...fried idli, keema idli, prawn idli, tuna idli and now carrot idli.
Frankly all the above have been fairly well received by me. Guess, it's the plain jane stuff that bores my appetite.
I think I'll put it on record to say that this time I have had no hand in the preparation of the Idlis except clicking the photos and posting the recipe here.
For the Batter:
Idly Rice - 3 Cups
Urad Dal - 1 Cup
Fenugreek Seeds (Methidana) - 1/4 Tsp
Rice Flakes - 1/2 Cup

Carrot (Grated) - 1
Basil - 1 Tsp
(I think you could try it out by adding thyme too!)
Salt To Taste

Oil ( for oiling the Idli Moulds)

1. Soak the Idly Rice, Urad Dal and Fenugreek seeds for 3-4 hours in water ( 1.5 times more water).
2. Now we have to grind this soaked mixture. Just before grinding mix in the rice flakes to the soaked mixture. Grind to a coarse paste.
3. Allow this to ferment for 10-12 hours.
4. Now mix the grated carrot,basil and salt.
5. Steam the Idlis in a Idli Steamer.
6. Serve with Tomato/Peanut/Coconut Chutney.

Note: You can substitute Carrots with Keema (minced Meat) too.
If you do not have a Idly Steamer, steam it in any deep dish. What's in the shape anyways? :-)
I am gonna post a few more variations more or less over the next few weeks, to let you have a look at the steaming process.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lasan ka Saalan (Garlic in Thin Coconut Gravy)

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This has to be the simplest dish. Cooking it takes minutes ( please discount the time you'll spend peeling garlic and shallots) and it takes just great. Moreover, it is really healthy (Unless you want to add in loads of oil). I read this recipe some time back, coupled it with a variation my mother used to make and Voila! the dish was born. Could have called it Floating Garlic Islands but, nevermind.

P.S. : The squid thing is still awaited. Can't wait to get it and cook it.


Garlic Cloves - Around 20 of them, Large ones
Shallots - Again around 20
Green Chillies, Slit - 4-5
Curry Leaves - 7-8
Methi Dana ( Fenugreek Seeds) - 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder ( Haldi) - 1 Tsp
Coconut Milk - 200 ml
Milk, warm - 100 ml
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt - To Taste
Lemon Juice - 10 ml


1. Heat Oil in a wok. Fry Garlic, Shallots and green Chillies until shallots turn translucent. Take out with slotted strainer. Keep Aside.
2. In the same oil, add in Methidana and curry leaves. Fry for a minute.
3. Add in Red Chilli powder and Turmeric Powder.
4. Stir and add in coconut milk, milk and salt.
5. Bring to a boil.
6. Add in the fried garlic cloves, shallots and Green Chillies.
7. Add Lemon Juice before serving. (Serve Hot)

Easy ...isn't it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

This Squid needs some cooking ???

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Here's something for which I am sending an S.O.S. out. I am planning to go across to the local market this weekend and pick-up some squid to cook. I can always get it back home and cook up either an Indian delicacy ( which by the way are very few when it comes to squid) or try out my own experiments (which can go either way....excitingly great or horribly awry).

I'm sure there are people across the globe who are dropping in to this site by mistake, and some of them must be excellent in their kitchens. I'm asking them to let me know of something I can do with squid, a dish that they have had or cooked up or is served locally.

I'm craving to cook up some good calamari :-)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tamatar aur Chana Dal Ka Saalan

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Another one in the series of Saalan recipes after Mirch Ka Saalan published last month. I have tried to find out more about Saalan and the meaning of the word and it's origins but have not got far. One such source has been Chef Vaneet who has just opened a restaurant in Hong Kong called Babek (Check out website here).All of you in the vicinity please try it out. He has been known to me for over 10 years now and he can surely stir up magic with food. He had to say this about the Saalan, "It denotes a gravy of meat / poultry / fish , generally thin curry with or with out vegetables added to it and brown in colour."

Tomatoes - 2 Ripe, cleaned and cut into pieces.
Chana Dal - 1 Cup, soaked in water for an hour
Ginger Paste-1/2 Tsp
Garlic Paste-1/2 Tsp
Turmeric Powder-1/4 Tsp
Red Chilli Powder-1/2 Tsp
Cumin Powder-1/2 Tsp
mustard Seeds-1/2 Tsp
Curry Leaves - 4-5
Onion - 1 Chopped Finely
Peanuts - 30 gm
Poppy Seeds - 1 Tsp
Coconut - 30 gm (Grated)

Method :
1. Heat Oil. Fry Onion, Cumin Seeds, Mustard seeds and curry leaves till onions turn golden brown.

2. Add ginger and garlic paste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, tomato pieces and chana dal. Cook for 5 mins.

3. Roast Peanuts, Grated Coconut and poppy seeds and make a paste out of them. Add this paste to the mixture on flame. Fry for 3-4 mins.

3. Add in water to cover the ingredients. Cover and cook till chana dal has gotten tender or till done.

4. Serve with rice.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Chhole-Bhature ... The weekend favorite !!!

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Memories of childhood had a few things etched forever. Saturdays meant Chhole ( just as Sundays meant Rajma) and going out to a dhaba or indian chaat house meant having chhole bhature after chaat.

Things have changed since those good ol' days ...restaurants have mushroomed up in every nook and corner and everyone seems to be a master at cooking up everything ( why go far...I think so too :-D).
Chhole typically cooked with chickpeas or Bengal gram seem to be perfectly accompanied by Bhaturas or Kulchas. Strange, the name Bengal Gram, since the variety of chickpeas that we use to make chhole is a very new entrant to the Indian cuisine ( going by the ancient Indian Culinary History), making it's way through the mediterranean. The name was given kind courtesy the British, since they only found it in Bengal.
The word Chhole is synonmous with Punjab as is Bhangra. Punjabi cuisine has been known to be robust, thick and a fine balance of flavors. Erstwhile Punjab ( both in India & Pakistan) was divided into different regions from a cuisine point of view. So you had the rawalpindi region ( or Pindi for short), the Lahore and the Amritsari region among them, which explains the different versions of different dishes, Chhole being one of them.
I have over the last few years tried to figure out the differences between Pindi Chhole, Amritsari Chhole, Lahori Chhole & Chikkad Chhole. Most of the cookbooks, tend to give the same recipe, but a different name. This just adds to the frsutration of not knowing what have you actually ended up cooking. For starters, I still haven't unravelled this mystery completely.
As far as my know how takes me, Chikkad chhole & lahori chhole are the same. Chikkad in punju lingo means 'muddy'. In this dish the chanas are mashed in the cooking process, though not completely and the dish ends up looking as a muddy slush with some chanas still visible, though not in their perfect state.
Amritsari chhole are made with Kabuli chana, darkened with spices and with a nice thick gravy.
Pindi chhole ( pindi as they come from rawalpindi) are made with smaller chickpeas (not the Kabuli type), the gravy is dark and thick.
One thing though is common. They all have a tanginess thanks to anardana powder added to them, and a pronounced hint of cumin, thanks to the punjabi garam masala which has more cumin.
Then after all these varieties, is the one with a thinner and more gravy that is traditionally eaten with chawal (rice).

Bengal Gram (Chana ) - 1 Cup
Black Cardamom (Moti Elaichi) - 2 No.s
Cinnamon (Dalchini) - 1" Stick
Bay Leaf (Tej Patta) - 2 No.s
Tea Bags - 2 No.s ( you can also use 2 cups of prepared black tea, strained)
Onion, Chopped Finely - 2 ( I prefer using a paste)
Tomato, Chopped - 2
Ginger Paste - 2 Tblsp
Green Chilli, Chopped Finely - 2 ( I just sliced them and put them in)
Garam Masala Powder- 2 Tsp
Corriander Powder (Dhania Powder) - 2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Anardana (Pomegranate Seed) Powder - 1.5 Tsp
Salt To Taste
Oil - 100 ml

1. Soak Chana overnight ( or for 6-7 hrs) in water.
2. Drain and wash the chana in running water. Boil them alongwith black cardamom, cinnamon stick,bay leaves and tea bags ( or just add in the prepared tea) for 2 hours. (Better Pressure Cook for 30 mins).
3. Heat 4 tblsp oil in a separate cooking dish ( large enough to accomodate the chanas and gravy). Add Onions and saute for 5 mins on low flame. Add in the anardana powder and cook till onion paste turns golden brown. (Keep stirring to ensure you do not burn them).
4. Add ginger paste, tomatoes and chillies. Cook for another 3 minutes.
5. Add in the corriander powder, garam masala powder and red chilli powder. Cook till oil starts separating ( apporx. 5 mins)
6. Add in the chanas ( strain them and add them. reserve the liquid...Do NOT throw it away). Cook for 7-8 minutes.
7. Add in the strained liquid and salt. Cook till gravy thickens (approx. 15-20 mins).
8. Serve hot with onion rings, ginger julieenes and green chillies.

As you would have seen, cooking the chhole is not too difficult. Now we'll shift our attention to it's perfect accompaniment - Bhature.
Bhatura (Singular) is believed to have originated in Punjab and is a fried bread where the dough is allowed to ferment using yoghurt. Records from the erstwhile Mughal era state that Bhatura was a preffered bread for the Hindus who had it for breakfast alongwith sabzi (vegetable dish). Bhature can be plain or stuffed. The different stuffed varieties include aloo stuffed (stuffed with Potato mixture) & paneer ( stuffed with cottage cheese).
White refined flour (Maida) - 4 Cups
Yoghurt (Soured) - 1 Cup
Salt -1 Tsp
Ghee (Clarified Butter) - 2 Tsp
Sugar - 1 Tsp
Baking soda - 1 Tsp
Warm Milk - 20 ml

1. Sieve the flour,baking soda and salt together.
2. Mix the ghee and the sugar with the flour.
3. Add the yogurt.

4. Add luke warm milk.
5. Knead well until the dough becomes soft and pliable.

6. Cover it with a wet cloth and keep aside for 2-3 hours.
7.Heat Oil in a wok (Kadhai) for deep frying.
9. Make small balls and roll them and fry in hot oil until golden brown.
10. Serve hot with Chhole.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Puliyogare ( Tamarind Rice)

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Puliyogare or Puliyodharai is a South Indian Rice Preparation. It is derived from the word 'Puli' meaning 'Sour' and is therefore also known as Tamarind Rice. The ingredients used provide varied taste to it, making it taste sour, salty, and spicy at the same time and so is a good stimulant for the taste buds.
My recipe is derived from my wife who in turn got it from her grandmom. It's so much easier these days though, as you get Puliyogare mix available in grocery stores, which makes it all the more easier to cook. But after trying this one out, it's not too difficult to cook one from scratch too. In my dish there were just two variations. No jaggery was added and I also used green chillies ( something they don't do in TamBram kitchen's. It was picked up from my neighbour who makes it with green chillies...the Andhra way).
Urad Dal (White Split Gram Beans ) -3 Tsp
Chana Dal ( Yellow Split Chickpeas) - 3 Tsp
Mustard Seeds (Rai) -2 Tsp
Fenugreek Seeds- 1/2 Tsp
Hing (Asafoetida) - 1 Tsp.
Red Chillies- 5-6
Turmeric Powder (Haldi)- 1 tsp

For The Tempering:
Green Chillies - 3-4
Mustard Seeds (Rai) - 2 Tsp
Curry Leaves - A Few
Urad Dal - 2 Tsp

Rice-2 Cups ( Already Cooked & cooled)
Peanuts-4 Tblsp
Gingelly Oil-9 Tblsp
Salt-To Taste
Tamarind - 1 cup

1. Soak tamarind in 2 cups of water for 6 hrs.
2. Strain juice and also pulp without fibre and seeds and keep aside.
3. Heat 6 tblsp Gingelly Oil in a pan.
4. Add in the Mustard Seeds. When they begin to crackle add in the Urad Dal, Chana Dal, Red Chillies, turmeric powder, fenugreek seeds and hing.
After a minute add in the peanuts.Cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add in the Tamarind juice.

Keep this watery mix on low flame and reduce till it becomes thick. ( Approx. 10-15 minutes) (Note: If you want to keep this mixture for later use, add in some more gingelly oil and store in airtight container. Keeps for a week or two)

6. In a separate wok, add 3 tblsp oil and heat. Add in the tempering ingredients (Mustard seeds, urad dal, green chillies, curry leaves).
7. Once the tempering ingredients have cooked, add in the rice and the mix that we made earlier and reduced.
8. Mix the peanut mixture, rice and tempering ingredients well.
9. Add in the salt and mix well.

10. Serve Hot.
Traditionally should be served with Avial but I like it plain with yoghurt too.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Narangi Mahi (Pan Seared Fish with Orange,Dill & Vodka)

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Here's another one of my fish variations. Getting bored on a Sunday Morning with time on hands and some uncooked fish at home, I tried to do the impossible..mix n' match different ingredients. Thankfully, nothing untoward happened ...nothing blew up and I lived to tell the tale. In this dish, I attempted to marry fish with vodka, oranges and dill. The result, a mild well-balalnced dish that went well with buttered rice. Try it out and let me know how you liked it.
Fish (Red Snapper) - 200gms
Orange - 1 No.
Dill - 30 gm (Finely Chopped)
Vodka - 60 ml.
Chilli Flakes - 30 gm
Black Pepper (Coarsely Ground) - 30 gm
Tabasco - 30 ml
Tomato Puree - 30 ml
Salt - To Taste
Olive Oil - 30 ml
Olives - 4-5
Bell Peppers ( Red & Yellow ) - 1 each (Chopped into 1-in cubes)
Lemon Juice - 60 ml

1. Cut peel, including all white pith, from the orange with a sharp paring knife and cut each orange crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Squeeze juice from 5 such pieces.Keep the remaining aside. Do not throw away the peel.
2. Cut ther fish into cubes & Marinate the Fish in olive oil, lemon juice, orange rind, Orange juice (that we squeezed out),tabasco, chilli flakes, salt & black pepper. Keep for 15 minutes.
3. Heat the remaining oil and toss the bell peppers lightly, add in the fish pieces and toss till almost done. Add in the vodka and toss a bit more. Flambe if you are comfortable with it. Add in the orange slices,Dill, olives. Toss for a few more seconds and take off the fish pieces alongwith the olives and oranges.
4. Put in the remaining marinade in the pan already flowing with the juices alongwith the tomato puree and make a sauce.
5. Pour on top of the fish and serve hot.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Paruppu Usili ( Lentil Curry )

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I have been lately out of action in the kitchen. Work and the festivities involved during the Ramzan period can be comfortably blamed. Haleem has almost kind of become a daily ritual. I'm almost getting around to grabbing my own recipe of this dish which can match Haggis and to some even beat it too!
Though the papers are flooded with recipes of Haleem from different readers, but I still prefer getting my own recipe and see it being tried out.
So, to ensure that I do not disappoint readers visiting this site for lack of new recipes, I'm adding a TamBram favorite that my wife cooks and is known to provide a good intake of proteins.
Literally t
ranslated this dish means Lentil (Paruppu) Crumble (Usili), but everyone down south refers to it as a curry dish, hence the name I gave it on top :-) Andhraites have a similar dish called Patoli, which I haven't seen, thus no comments.


Toor Dal (Split Red Gram or Split Pigeon Peas)- 1/4 Cup
Chana Dal (Split Bengal Gram Dal) - 1 Cup
2 Red chillies - 5 or 6
Asafoetida (Hing) - Pinch
Turmeric Powder (Haldi)- Pinch

Choice of vegetables:
Fresh beans (Chopped ) - 100 gms

For Tempering:
Oil - 20 ml

Mustard seeds- 1 Tsp
Urad Dal (Split washed Black Gram)- 1 tsp

Salt to taste

1. Soak the dals half an hour before preparation.
2. Grind the dals with six dry red chillies and pinch of hing into coarse matter, without adding any water.
3. String & Blanch the Fresh green beans. Chop them into little dices and fry the beans nicely in a little oil.
4. Put 2 tsp Oil in tawa or pan and add the Mustard seeds, when they start to crackle add in the urad dal. Add the ground mixture with salt and turmeric and saute. Keep adding drops of oil from time to time. Cook till mixture becomes crumbly and golden brown.
5. Add the fried beans to the dal mixture. Cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

1. Always cook this on low flame.
2. People who detest French Beans, need not despair ...substitute them with Green Bell Peppers(Capsicum). Other substitutions can be Cluster Beans and Carrot.

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