Kulfi (Indian Ice-cream)

 

Kulfi is traditionally made from just milk, simmered down for hours and poured into this typical conical mold pictured here, and frozen.

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My favorite quick and easy recipe uses evaporated and condensed milk to make it rich and creamy. Any shape of popsicle mold or even a ice cube tray will work.

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Ingredients

1  14-ounce can condensed milk

2  12-ounce cans evaporated milk

8 ounces whipping cream

1/2 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts or almonds

1 teaspoon crushed saffron  (optional)

1/2 – 1 teaspoon cardamom powder  (optional)

Preparation

Add all the ingredients together in a large bowl, and beat with a hand mixer till the liquid is well blended.

Pour into the molds.  Freeze overnight.

Dip into water water to remove from the molds just before serving.

Slice and serve with additional nuts if desired.

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Note: I personally do not like my Kulfi very sweet but if you prefer it sweeter, reduce the evaporated milk to only 1 can.

Pasta and Veggie Dhokla

Dhokla is a traditional Gujarati dish, a savory steamed bread with a light and spongy texture. It is typically made with channa dal (split peas) but I’ve had various types, made with rava (semolina or cream of wheat) and besan (chickpea flour).

A friend recently introduced me to her version, incorporating vegetables.  You can use any veggies in the recipe – I always seem to have carrots, bell peppers and frozen peas on hand so I used those.

You might be wondering about the pasta… the angel hair pasta and potatoes simply help bind the ingredients together!

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Ingredients

3/4 cup uncooked, broken angel hair pasta

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1/4 cup frozen green peas

1/4 cup finely cut carrots

1 small raw potato, finely diced

1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced

1 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon each, ginger and garlic paste

1/2- 1 teaspoon, finely cut green chillies

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cream of wheat (coarse variety, if buying from an Indian store)

2 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon Eno or baking soda

1/2 tablespoon oil

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

Chopped cilantro for garnish

  Preparation

To steam the Dhokla, boil 2 cups of water in a large 4 or 6 quart cooking pot and keep it simmering. Place a small cooking rack or an overturned small metal container or bowl at the bottom. Grease an 8″ cake pan.

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Add pasta to a mixing bowl and mix in the vegetables.

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Next add the yogurt and spices, cream of wheat, and oil and mix well.

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 Lastly add the Eno or baking soda.

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Pour into prepared cake pan, cover with a lid and steam for 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil, add the sesame seeds and mustard seeds and when the seeds start to pop, remove and pour and spread over the steamed dhokla. Remove pan and cool for 5 minutes and cut into diamond shapes.

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Remove to a serving plate and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Dosa-Waffles

I have been reading lately about the many non-waffle recipes you can make in your waffle iron. There’s even a blog (waffled tofu & frozen fries!) & cookbook called “Will it Waffle” – 53 “unexpected” recipes!

I decided to experiment with a dosa recipe (Indian lentil pancakes) using green moong dal. It is quicker & easier than making dosas on the stove, one by one! I did have to add a few extra ingredients (oats & baking powder) but they turned out great.

The dosa-waffles can be served with cilantro chutney or even with a spicy ketchup (make your own by mixing regular ketchup with a little of Siracha or hot sauce). These also reheat well and can be frozen.

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Ingredients

1 cup whole green moong dal, (soaked for about 4 hours)

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1/2 small onion

2 whole green chillies

1/4 cup oat flour (you can also grind oats in a blender)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup water

Preparation

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and process till smooth.

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Add a little more water, slowly, to get a thick pouring batter (like waffle batter!).

Preheat the waffle iron, brush the grids with a little oil, add about 3/4 cup batter (depending on the shape and size of your waffle maker) and cook them.

Remove and place on a wire rack.

Serve hot with chutney or spicy ketchup.

Swiss Chard or Spinach Focaccia

One of my weaknesses is bread! I enjoy looking for different types of bread recipes. Somewhere along the way I came across the idea of adding swiss chard to focaccia. I just don’t feel as guilty consuming so much bread when I am having something healthy along with it!

This focaccia recipe is great as an appetizer and also perfect for lunch with a bowl of soup. It freezes well – it’s a handy side to have on hand since it is so versatile with meals.

Best of all, the “No Knead Focaccia” recipe from the King Arthur Flour website is the simplest recipe I’ve come across since it doesn’t require kneading! I’ve adapted the recipe slightly below.

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Ingredients

Dough:

1 1/2 cup warm water

3 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

2 cups of all purpose flour

1 tablespoon instant yeast.

Topping:

2 bunches swiss chard , ( remove the thick stem) and  coarsely chopped ( 6-8 cups)  OR

6-8 cups coarsely chopped spinach

1-2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt ( preferably)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1-2 green chillies ( hot ) finely minced or ground (optional)

1/3 cup olive oil

Preparation

Lightly grease a large cookie sheet with about 2 tablespoon oil.

Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a large mixing bowl and beat at high speed with an electric mixer or 1 minute.

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The dough will be sticky. Scoop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread with a spatula or greased hands.

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Let rise for about 45 – 60 minutes till the dough doubles.

In the meantime, combine all the ingredients for the topping .

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When the dough is risen, add the swiss chard to the dough and spread to cover the dough.

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Bake at 375  for about 20 – 25 minutes. Cool. Cut in squares.

Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

Tandoori dishes originated in the northwest part of India (near the region of Afghanistan and Pakistan).  A Tandoor (clay oven) was used to make flatbread for the community – dough in the form of “tandoori roti” or “naan” was patted into flat round or tear shaped disks, moistened and stuck to the clay oven which was set over hot coals.  It was also used to cook skewered meat or chicken, with the tip of the skewers placed in the coal so the meat could be could cooked by both radiant and convection heat.

My first introduction to tandoori chicken was in Old Delhi at a very well known restaurant called Moti Mahal.  There was not much to the atmosphere but the restaurant was always packed – the food was outstanding!

Tandoori food is pretty simple to make at home if you have a grill, and even using a standard oven. I used to make Murgh Makhani using tomato puree, but came up with an even easier and tastier short cut-  using tomato soup. I have been using Trader Joe’s Tomato, or Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper soup which comes in a carton. This can also be made as a vegetarian dish substituting paneer (indian cubed cottage cheese) or tofu.

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Ingredients

1 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1/2″ cubes

Marinade:

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon each, garlic and ginger paste

2 tablespoons Tandoori spice mix OR the next 4 ingredients

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 cup yogurt (non fat or regular)*

1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon orange food color (don’t use red as it will turn the marinade pink!)

Sauce:

3 cups tomato soup (if using condensed soup dilute with 1/2 can of water)

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preparation

Mix all of the “marinade” ingredients together, and then stir in the chicken. Keep in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

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Skewer the chicken. Grill or broil on each side, about 4 minutes, until the chicken is cooked (about 8 minutes total). If using the broiler, place the rack one level from the top.

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Remove from skewers and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter on low heat, till it is melted. Add the cayenne pepper, salt and coriander powder.

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Stir and add the tomato soup.

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Simmer for 5 minutes; then add the tandoori chicken pieces.

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When heated through add the whipping cream, simmer for 3-5 minutes.

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Serve with rice or Naan.

* I prefer Greek yogurt, as regular yogurt makes the marinade more watery, but I use whichever I have on hand.

Millet Patties

On my recent trip to India, my sister in law told me that she had recently started cooking with Millet. She explained that it has nutritional benefits similar to Quinoa and some other grains but cheaper and easier to find. Millet is a drought tolerant plant which has been grown in many countries pretty easily whereas Quinoa is pricier because it is mainly grown only in the Andes region of South America. Although not a complete protein like Quinoa, it still has quite a high protein content.

Millet is a leading staple grain of India – it is ground and used as a flour to make “rotis” (indian unleavened bread) and also eaten as “ragi” porridge. Though I remember as a child I was given this porridge and I did not like it at all!

Substituting millet for rice was an easy way to start experimenting with recipes, so I used the hulled millet which was available at Whole Foods. I toasted the millet and cooked it like rice. Everyone seemed to eat it though the consensus was that they preferred rice.

The next day I decided to do something different with the remaining cooked millet. After looking online at a few recipes for cutlets and croquettes, I decided to try making my own version combined with leftover vegetables which was a big hit!  It seemed like the perfect grain for making these cutlets, perhaps because of the starch in the millet, egg or breadcrumbs aren’t needed to bind or coat the patties.

I used my favorite frying pan which is my cast iron pan – very little oil is needed and it is practically non stick. (I use my cast iron pan daily… to make pancakes, grilled cheese, chapatis or dosas to name a few!)  The pan does take a little while to heat up – I usually turn it on to medium heat and then after 5-10 minutes or when it is hot, I turn the heat down to low. The patties turned out crisp using the cast iron skillet and I didn’t need to add much oil.

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Ingredients

1 cup hulled millet

2 1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup coarsely grated carrots

2 cloves garlic, grated

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

1-2 small green chilies, finely cut up

1/2 cup cooked corn kernels

1/4 cup finely diced green or red bell pepper

2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

oil for sauteing

Preparation

Toast the millet in a skillet for 3-4 minutes till the millet starts to pop. Add the millet to a saucepan and add 2 1/2 cup water and the salt and bring to boil, simmer till the water is absorbed and the millet is cooked.

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Using a potato masher , mash the cooked millet. add the remains ingredients.

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Take about a 1/3 cup of the mixture, flatten into patties.

Heat a cast iron ( or non stick skillet ) and add 1 tablespoon oil to it and add the patties. Cook on low to medium heat, and cook on low heat for 5-8 minutes till the patties and brown and crisp.Serve immediately or keep warm in a warm oven .

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Spicy Swiss Chard , Spinach and Corn

My very good friend from Spain introduced me to Swiss Chard. She told me she would buy it regularly, but the stores in Columbia didn’t carry it at the time. So, she asked one of them to stock it for her. Now I know why; it is a delicious leafy green vegetable which is full of antioxidants, Vitamin K, and Calcium. It’s easy to digest and all of the nutrition is great for bone health!

The first time I made it I combined it with baby spinach because I had some left over from a previous meal. It cooks quickly and is easy to make – Swiss Chard has become a frequent guest at our table. Instead of corn, you could add Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), tofu cubes, or mushrooms!

Ingredients

4-5 cups Swiss Chard leaves, chopped coarsely (discard the the thick stems)

4 cups baby Spinach (or regular Spinach)

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 green chillies, cut fine

1 cup onions, cut fine

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup corn, cooked

Preparation

Put a large pot of water on high heat. When it starts boiling, add the swiss chard and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Drain, saving about 1/2 cup of the water. Blend the greens with this water until smooth.

Heat oil in the same pan; add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir for 1 minute till the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the onion and green chilies and cook until the onions become light brown in color.

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Add the blended greens , salt and turmeric; stir for 2 minutes.  Add the corn; simmer for a few minutes until done.

Shredded Cabbage with Peppers

IMG_2152Cabbage is not the most popular vegetable, but one of the healthiest.  I found this recipe some time ago which my family enjoys – it is quick to make and a nice addition to most meals. I like the texture, flavor and color that red bell peppers add to the dish, but any other vegetable like potatoes, peas and carrots can be added instead.

The most timing consuming part is chopping the cabbage. You can either buy the pre-packaged “coleslaw” cabbage in the salad section of the grocery store, or use an adjustable slicer like a mandolin which makes it easy to cut the cabbage very thin.  To cut it by hand, cut in half and remove the core first.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1-2 green chillies, slit (or dry red chilies)

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

4 cups finely shredded cabbageIMG_2147

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 large red (or green) bell pepper, thinly sliced

Lemon or lime

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Preparation

Heat oil in a wok, add mustard seeds, cover pan until the seeds start popping.

Remove cover, add the chili’s and garlic, and stir for a few seconds till the chili’s just start to turn brown. Add the cabbage, salt and turmeric.  Stir fry for about 3-4 minutes.

Add the red pepper and continue to stir for another 3-4 minutes until the cabbage is crisp tender.

If you like cabbage to be a little more tender, continue to stir till the cabbage is cooked a bit more.

Add a squeeze of lemon or lime and garnish with cilantro.

Black-Eyed Peas Stir Fry

Black-eyed peas are one of the most versatile legumes to make. They are very nutritious – high in iron, Vitamin B, C, zinc, soluble fiber and protein. Down here in the South (we live in South Carolina), black-eyed peas are traditionally eaten on New Years Day as they are considered to bring “good luck” for the coming year. I use canned or dried… depending on how much time I have to prepare the meal. If using the dried beans I soak them overnight with a pinch of baking soda, which reduces the cooking time. We (and most Indian families) have a pressure cooker, which makes it even quicker to cook dried beans and lentils – black-eyed peas cook in 5 to 7 minutes with a pressure cooker, versus 45 minutes to an hour on the stove top. This recipe is very flavorful and a good one for children as well. IMG_1963

Ingredients

2 cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed OR .. 1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and cooked in water for about 45 minutes till peas are tender  (just reserve about 1/2 cup of the liquid)  Cooks to about 2 cups of cooked peas. 1 tablespoon oil 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1 small onion, chopped 1-2 whole green chilies, slit 1 teaspoon salt lemon juice 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)

Preparation

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the cumin seeds. When they start to sizzle, add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes until light brown. Add the green chilies and stir for 30 seconds. IMG_1956 Stir in the cooked black-eyed peas and salt, stir for a minute and add about 1/2 cup water and simmer for about 3 minutes. IMG_1955 Stir in lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.

Chilli Cheese Toast

Growing up in India, Chilli Cheese Toast was served often at “tea time”, when we would have a snack along with a cup of hot tea at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  Cheese toasts originally were deep-fried – needless to say they were delicious!  No one thought about calories back then or about all that fat we were consuming!

As time went by, a healthier version was created – lighter but as flavorful and quick to prepare. The toasts are perfect for lunch on a cold day along with a salad or soup, or served as an appetizer.

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 Ingredients

4 slices of firm whole wheat bread

2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons finely cut onions

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1-2 finely chopped green chillies

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder (or a mustard spread)

 

Preparation

Place the bread in the oven, on broil, to brown one side of the bread.

Mix the remaining ingredients to a smooth paste.

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Apply the cheese spread to the side of the bread which was not toasted.

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Place under the broiler until light brown.

Cut into quarters or in half.

Serve immediately.

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