Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oat Bran Muffins

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Cooking at home is a great stressbuster and relaxation technique for many. Cooking with your kids is a great way to bond with them. Not only are you spending time together but are also creating something new. It is also very educational for your kids. They feel a part of something important and learn new things. It also personally, solves a big problem for me. My kids are very fussy and choosy eaters. When they help me in the kitchen, they want to try out their creation (that's the important part ...the kids made it, not you ).
Last weekend was one such bonding time for me with my kids and what better than baking. Baking is a great way to teach them counting, measuring, time and so on. We baked muffins ...and that too Oat Bran muffins. I found this great recipe on Joyofbaking and since I had oat bran in the kitchen, we decided to give it a try.
Bran is the hard outer layer of grain and is rich in nutrition. Oat bran is the edible, outermost layer of the oat kernel. They are rich in B complex vitamins, protein, minerals & a heart healthy soluble fiber. They are known to lower cholesterol levels by as much as 25% over 1-3 months when taken regularly. The muffins made with oat bran are easy to make and taste delicious.

Oat Bran Muffins


Whole wheat flour - 1 Cup
Oat bran - 1 Cup
Brown sugar - 1/3 Cup
Baking powder - 1.5 Tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 Tsp
Salt - 1/4 Tsp
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 Tsp
1 large egg
Honey - 60 ml
Vanilla essence- 1 Tsp
Refined oil - 2 Tblsp
Milk - 300 ml
Raisins - 1/2 Cup


Cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sesame Honey Chili Potato

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Sometime back when I was still with the hospitality industry a hugely popular Chinese Restaurant in the capital decided to change the decor, get in new chefs from China and get traditional Chinese cuisine into the menu. Thankfully for them, they still retained some Chinese dishes you find in India in their menu.The desi Chinese dishes remained the best sellers.
Chinese cuisine is a very popular cuisine in India. In my household, we cook Chinese atleast once every 2 weeks and eat out Chinese food every 2 weeks. But the fare we love to eat is so different from authentic Chinese cuisine that it is wrong to term it as one. It should be ideally termed Sino-Indian cuisine. Even this has so many sub varieties, ranging from Punju Chinese like the manchurian, to udipi versions of sweet & sour idli and sichuan dosa. There are even restaurants serving jain versions of Chinese food. A few years back one could even get themselves a pizza with a sichuan chicken or paneer topping. A lot of it has got to do with the Indian love for things fried, crispy and spicy. Nevertheless it sells, it's very popular with the masses and classes and I love it.
I love to eat American Chopsuey and drums of heaven and need to satiate my cravings every third day. My spouse has a similar thing for chili potatoes. Between us we can tell you the best places to have Sino-Indian food in various cities in India. Talking about them, I think I have had the best drums of heaven in Hyderabad in a place called Walden Court. It's a small clubhouse for residents of a society but serves the best drums of heaven. If you can, you must get your way in and sample those. Closer home, the newly opened Mandarin Trail (Noida) has decent fare and great chili potatoes. They are a drier, crispier version, with a great after taste of chili. If you want a more saucy chili potatoes then head 50 kms. out of Noida to Dana Choga in Gurgaon. My better half and I have been going there for the last 13 years to have their chili potatoes and chopsuey, though the chopsuey has gone down in terms of taste, the chili potatoes still rule. The China Club in Gurgaon is another favorite of ours though we haven't gone there for sometime now.For the time being I'll leave you all to try the chili potatoes recipe below. The chopsuey and drums of heaven can wait for another post.

Sesame Honey Chili Potatoes


Potatoes, cut into thick finger shaped pieces (french fries shape) - 250 gm
Red Chili Flakes - 1 Tsp
Garlic, crushed - 2 Tsp
Salt - 2Tsp
Sesame Oil - 2 Tsp

For Marinade:
Red Chili Sauce - 2 Tsp
Honey - 3 Tsp
Soy Sauce - 1.5 Tblsp.
Vinegar - 1.5 Tblsp.
Tomato Sauce - 2 Tblsp.

For Garnish:
Spring Onions, scallions, chopped- 2 Tsp
Sesame seeds, dry roasted - 2Tsp

1. Deep fry the potatoes on a medium flame till they are golden brown.
2. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and add the fried potato sticks to the marinade. Keep for10 minutes.
3. Heat oil in a wok. Add in the crushed garlic and chili flakes. Stir fry for 30 seconds.
4. Add the potatoes along with the marinade and cook on a high flame.
5. Toss the potatoes and cook well on high flame for 5 minutes or till potatoes are almost dry.
6. Arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle chopped scallion and sesame seeds on top.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kashmiri Akhrot Chutney (Walnut Dip)

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Walnuts get their name from an old English term called wealhhnutu, meaning, foreign nut. It was called so as it was introduced to England from Gaul ( Present day France & Belgium and parts of Switzerland, Netherlands & Germany) and Italy. Apart from being an excellent source of protein they also have a higher Omega-3 Fatty acid content than other nuts and incorporating them in our daily diet can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Now the best walnuts are the Persian Walnuts or Royal Walnut, that comes from Balkans, Southwest & Central Asia. In English speaking nations they are also referred to as the English Walnut or Common Walnut. These walnuts are known for their delicious nuts. Other species include the Black Walnut, Butternut, Japanese Walnut & Hind's Black Walnut apart from various hybrids.
I spent a part of my childhood in Kashmir living in Srinagar in the Badami Bagh Cantonment. The entire areas was full of different trees. There were Mulberry, Apple, Almond and Walnut trees all around and being the naughty kids that we were, one could find us climbing those trees. Armed with a pen knife and a bag, it was good fun to have walnuts that were still not dried. The akhrot chutney was special as one of my classmates usually got it from home alongwith other Kashmiri goodies, needless to say his lunchbox was a much sought after item. I stumbled upon the recipe to make this dip some days back and since we were planning on a Kashmiri meal this chutney made its way to the dining table and once again into my life.

Kashmiri Akhrot ki Chutney


Walnuts, shelled - 50 gm
Red Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - To Taste
Yogurt - 60 ml

1. Put the shelled walnuts, salt and red chili powder in a grinder and grind until smooth.
2. Transfer this powder to a bowl. Add the yogurt and mix well.
3 Chill before serving.


Akhrot Muli ki chutney (Walnut Radish Dip) -Add 60 gm shredded radish to this chutney. Mix well till the chutney coats all the shredded radish.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Diwali & Salsa

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Diwali or the festival of lights, transforms the entire nation overnight. Everyone is in high spirits weeks before the festival. The malls are brimming with activity as everybody is busy shopping for gifts. You can hear firecrackers go off in the evening and mostly people are in a good, festive mood. The art of gifting during diwali has also witnessed a major shift in the past few years. The traditional sweet boxes made way for dry fruits which in turn gave way to designer chocolates. These are now making way for other innovative gifts.
We decided to step away from tradition this time and decided to gift some homemade salsa alongwith diyas (lamps). Salsa, or simply sauce, is attributed to Mexico and it's very name implies Mexican food. However, it goes beyond. Records date salsa back to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incans. For more on Salsa and it's history, please visit this site.
There are various kinds of salsa with the most common one being a combination of tomato, onions and chillies. Variations without tomato, involving peaches, mangoes and cactus are common.The classic tomato salsa is also popularly known as Salsa Ranchero or Salsa Mexicana. Salsa Verde involves green tomatillos. Traditional salsas do not involve oil and rely on the fresh flavor of the vegetables. They are also a very healthy choice to include in your meals. My version below is not too classic,but does not deviate too much.

Happy Diwali 2009 !!!

Tomato Salsa


Tomatoes, ripe & firm - 10
Serrano Chiles, finely chopped- 3
Onion, finely chopped - 2
Cilantro, finely chopped - large bunch
Jalapeno Peppers, finely chopped - 2
Garlic, minced - 5 cloves
Juice of limes - 4 Tblsp
Olives, finely chopped - 6
Salt - To Taste
Sugar - 2 Tsp
Black Pepper-2 Tsp

1. Blanch the tomatoes by cutting a small cross in the bottom of each tomato. Put them in boiling water for 10 seconds and refresh under cold running water.The skins will begin to peel back from the crosses. Remove the skins completely.
2. Deseed the tomatoes and chop finely.
3. Combine with all other remaining ingredients.
4.Mix gently so that all ingredients are coated with the lime juice and the sugar and salt have dissolved.
5. Chill in the refrigerator before serving.

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