September 30, 2011

South Indies: Halbai

If you are not from Karnataka, then Halbai is probably unheard of .. Halbai is a traditional sweet from the Bangalore/Mysore regions of Karnataka. For those who are unaware, it is quite difficult to explain what Halbai is, Probably the best way to put it is, its a cross between Halwa & Burfi ..  It is typically made with whole wheat grains, coconut & Jaggery. There are other versions of Halbai that are made using Rice, Ragi or even Poha .. Of all the versions, I love the one made with Wheat grains, the best

Preparing Halbai is quite a tedious process &  you need to practice hard to get the right consistency & texture. To be very honest, I am not very good in dishing out these beauties. My Dad makes this every year & is quite an expert. He made them a couple of days ago & insisited that I put this up on my blog. I was quite reluctant as Halbai is not a very photogenic dish. I tried to photograph them last year & the photos turned horribly bad. This is such a beautiful tasty dish & I didn't want anyone to be put off & not give it a try because of bad pictures :-)

This time, my Mom sent my a big box of Halbai all cut into uniform square pieces with a special mention that I had to do a post this time .. Special Thanks to Mom & Dad for sending these over ..

Halbai

You Will Need:
  • 1 cup whole wheat grains - cleaned & soaked overnight
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 2 cup grated jaggery
  • 5 tbsp Desi Ghee
  • 1/2 tsp Cardamom powder
  • 3 cups water
How To:
  • Grind the wheat grains into a smooth paste using little water & strain. Repeat the process twice & discard the residue
  • Grind coconut into a very smooth paste & set aside.
  • In a large heavy bottomed vessel, add water, jaggery, & bring it to a boil, once the jaggery melts, add ground coconut & wheat along with cardamom powder & about 3 tbsp of ghee & bring to a gentle boil.
  • Keep on stirring till the whole mixtures thickens. This should take about 45 mins to an hour.
  • The mixture should leave the sides of the pan. When completely cooked, the mixture is non sticky & gets a uniform gloss. Add another 2 tbsp of ghee & mix well.
  • Spread on a greased plate & allow it to cool. Once cool, cut into squares & serve
  • It should stay in the refregirator for about 8 days.
NOTE:
  • This proportion yields about 20-25 pieces depending upon the size
  • For a quick easy version, you can use whole wheat flour too
  • Before taking it off the pan, do a test. Take a tsp of the mixture & spread on a greaded plate. It should be able to come off without sticking to the plate. This ensures that it is done.

September 21, 2011

Punjabi Choley - Chickpeas cooked in a Fiery Onion & Tomato Gravy

I love using chickpeas in my dishes .. I think its my favorite legume, because its always stocked up in my pantry & I end up using this more often than any other legume. And, Choley is another easy Punjabi dish that is very simple, hearty & nutritious.

If you have soaked chickpeas on hand, this takes really very few minutes, which is why I end up making this very often on weekdays.

Punjabi choley

There are numerous ways in which this is made .. Sometimes, chopped tomatoes are used instead of puree & sometimes, cooked onions & a handful of chickpeas is ground into a paste, to add more body to the gravy. While, I don't grind the onions, I mostly like using tomato puree instead of chopped tomatoes. Tomato puree adds more base to the gravy & gives a nice red color, which I love

You Will Need:
  • 1 cup chickpeas - cleaned & soaked overnight or for 6 hrs
  • 2 red onions - chopped
  • 150 ml - Tomato puree ( I Used store bought )
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tso chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • 1 tsp Chana Masala powder ( I used Everest Brand )
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
  • Salt as per taste
  • 3 tsp oil
  • Coriander -  for Garnish
How To:
  • Pressure cook chickpeas with a tsp of salt. once done, drain & reserve stock & set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add ginger & garlic. Saute for about 30 secs. Add chopped onions & a pinch of turmeric. Saute until they turn pink.
  • Now, add red chilli powder, chana masala powder, & mix well. Pour tomato puree & give it a gentle mix. Let it simmer for about 3 mins.
  • Add cooked chickpeas, salt & garam masala & mix well. Add about 3/4 th cup of water & simmer for about 10 mins.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander & transfer to a serving bowl

Serve with onion rings & lemon wedges, alomg with HOT Phulkas .. Enjoi !!!

NOTE: The longer the gravy sits, it tends to thicken a bit .. If you find the gravy thick, just add a little water & reheat before serving.

For Dilli Style Choley - Boil chickpeas with 1 tea bad & discard the tea bag later. And, add about 1/2 a tsp of Anardana Powder along with Everest Chole Masala. This lends a deep brown color to the dish & add a slight tart taste.

September 19, 2011

Palak Paneer - Cottage Cheese simmered in fresh Spinach Puree

I have never been a huge fan of Palak Paneer honestly. Infact, I never ate much of paneer until a couple of years ago. I don't know how many of you agree, but a good Palak Paneer is hard to come by. Either the Paneer is not fresh, or the lush green palak turns into a brown gravy once cooked or it is laden with too much spices, tomatoes or fresh cream masking the true flavour of Palak Paneer ..

So, I set out to find the almost perfect Palak Paneer recipe, And, after reading dozens of recipes, looking at various food pics & asking a lot of people on Facebook as well, I arrived at My Recipe :-)  And, I was quite satisfied with the results. Perhaps, you may want to try this ...

Test

You Will Need:

  • 3 big bunches of fresh Spinach
  • 200g Paneer - Cut into cubes
  • 2 big white onions
  • 1 small tomato or 1/2 of a large tomato
  •  5 green chillies
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp cashew paste
  • 1 tbsp fresh cream or 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
  • Salt as per taste.

How To:
  • In a large pot, bring salted water  to a boil. Add a tsp of sugar & throw in chopped spinach & let it cook for about 3 mins
  • Drain the water & reserve some water to use in the gravy. Immediately rinse under cold water & set aside. Once cool, grind into a paste, without adding any water. Do not grind into a very smooth paste. I should be a coarse paste but smooth enough for it to blend .. so, keep this texture in mind. You can also mash the spinach with a Kadchi, if you like
  • Make a paste using onions, green chillies, cloves, cinnamom & Fennel seeds, without adding water.
  • Meanwhile, bring another pot of salted water into boil. turn off the stove & add paneer cubes. Let them rest in hot water for about 5 mins. Strain & set aside
  • In a large sauce pan, Heat oil, splutter cumin seeds & add onion paste, chopped tomatoes & saute for about 3 mins until raw smell disappears. Add cashew paste, Paneer cubes, salt & mix well. Add Pureed spinach, fresh cream or milk & mix gently. Check for salt & gently simmer for abor 2-3 mins. If the mixture is too thick, you may add the reserved liquid. However, do not make the gravy too rummy. If you are using milk instead of fresh cream, you may not need water at all.
  • Add a pinch of Garam masala before turning off the stove. Once the heat is turned off, add juice of half a lemon & mix well.
  • Let the gravy sit for a while before serving.

Serve warm with Peas Pulao, Phulkas or Naan .. Enjoi !!!

September 15, 2011

Spinach & Sweet Corn Stir Fry

Call me Popeye, for I love Spinach .. Yes, I absolutely love it. And, I can spinach everyday without even getting bored.

The curry that I have for you today has 2 of my favorite things, Spinach & Corn & the best part is that, this curry doesn't have too many spices in it. So, you can enjoy spinach & corn in their purest form. And a big plus, this is low on calories too .. YAY !!!

Spinach & Sweet Corn Stir Fry

You Will Need:
  • 2 cups spinach - picked & finely chopped
  • 1 cup sweet corn
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 green chillies - chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • Salt as per taste
  • 1 tsp oil

How To:

  • Heat oil in a pan, splutter cumin seeds & Saute green chillies & garlic for about 30 secs
  • Add chopped spinach & about a tbsp of water. Close the lid & let it cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add sweet corn & coriander powder. Mix well close the lid & let it get cooked. Keep stirring in between to avoid the bottom from getting burnt. Spinach & corn get cooked pretty fast  & they won't need too much water. So, Do Not add water unless it get very dry.
  • When fully cooked, add salt as per taste & give it a stir.
  • Let the curry stand for a couple of minutes before serving

Transfer to a bowl & serve warm with some Phlkas or Steamed Rice .. Enjoi !!!

September 7, 2011

A little bit of this & a little bit of that & a whole lot of Deliciousness @ Au Bon Pain

Whenever I would pass through the traffic in Jayanagar 3rd block, I would always notice this cosy cafe at the Cloud 9 hospital & would make a mental note to visit it in leisure. For some reason the visit never happened & maybe I would have put it off for a few more days, if I wouldn't have received an invite to visit Au Bon Pain's brand new outlet in Koramangala. SO, On a cloudy saturday afternoon, I set out to lunch @ Au Bon Pain along with my husband, Shankar

Au Bon Pain literally means, the place of good bread in French. But Hey, don't mistake this for a French cafe. It is actually an international chain with a French Heritage where you get loads of yummy stuff. The place looks lovely with its bright yellow & white interiors & was buzzing with activities which kind of gives you a peppy feeling.


Au Bon Pain
(Image Source: Various)

The menu includes everything from Sandwiches to soups to salads, to desserts & delicious bakery products. We started off with a vegetarian soup & a couscous salad. The soup was spicy & was perfect for the Bangalore weather. I picked a Jalapeno & corn panini which was delicious while Shankar chose a panini with mediterreanean Hummus & olives which wasn't that impressive. Alongwith these, we alose had some Veg Puffs, Cinnamon Rolls & Croissants which were just perfect.

We ended our meal with a fruit bowl & some chocolate mousse. Apart from these, Au Bon Pain also serves yummy Bagles, Muffins, Brownies, Cakes & Guess what?? Dal, Biryani & curry too to satiate your Indian taste buds,

And yes, I couldn't stop drinking  their Cappuccino. It was Fab & I ordered a 'To Go' as well  .. I took home a crusty Baguette which was very good. So those of you looking for good French bread Au Bon Pain is the place to go

Verdict

Au Bon Pain is definitely a place to visit especially if you are looking for something quick, light & healthy. None of the dishes I oredered were heavy & greasy & I definiteky was very happy about it. I only wished the place was roomy enough to accomodate more people as it can get quite crowded in the afternoons .. Nevertheless, the food is the main highlight ..  And, it was ... Awesome

September 2, 2011

South Indies - Kodubale

Kodubale or Kodbale was my first ever post in the South Indies series. I thought this post & the pictures needed a bit of  revamping, And, my Ajji made these yummy Kodubales for Ganesh Chaturthi this time, so here it is ..

Kodubale 1


I wanted to kickstart this series from a snack from a very own state, A snack that's a HOT favorite in Karnataka .. Yes, our very own 'Kodubale' . . . I really dont know how this name came about, but the literal translation from Kannada to English would be, Bangles made out of horns. Weird isn't it??

I just love love love this snack. The ones made by my grand mother are the best ones I've ever had. She always made a huge batch for me during exam times, because I always needed something to munch on during studies. And, I cherish those days when we gathered around for coffee & munched on some gorgeous kodbales as we chatted endlessely . . .

You Will Need:
  • Rice Flour - 4 cups
  • All Purpose Flour/ Maida - 1 cup
  • Dhalia/Roasted Gram/Hurigadle powder - 1 cup
  • Fine semolina - 1cup
  • Salt as per taste
  • Red chilli powder - as per taste
  • Curry leaves - finely chopped
  • Hing/Asafoetida
  • Grated coconut - 1 cup (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Warm groundnut oil - for mixing
  • Oil for deep frying

Method:
  • Dry roast maida & fine semolina separately, for a couple of minutes & keep aside
  • In a large bowl, combine, Maida, Semolina, Rice flour, Dhalia powder, salt & red chilli powder Hing, grated coconut, & 2 tbsp warm oil & mix well
  • In another bowl, take the above mixture sufficient to fry one batch & add very little water & knead well to form a dough.
  • The dough should be fairly hardTake a lemon-sized ball & roll it horizontally to a shape that resembles a Bread Stick
  • Turn this into a ring by joining the ends
  • Fry these in piping Hot oil until golden brown
  • Remove with a slotted spoon & place it on a kitchen towel to remove excess oil
  • Repeat the same process for other batches too
  • Store in air-tight jars

Enjoi !!! Goes really really good with some good ol' Filter Coffee

Kodubale 2

NOTE:
  • To prevent the dough from turning soggy, always make the dough as & when necessary
  • Do NOT make a dough out of the entire mixture ahead of time, else Kodbales will not turn crisp
  • I don't normally add coconut as the kodbales turn crisp without them too. A lot of people, including my Grandmother add coconut. It does not make a big difference in taste anyways.
  • The key to crisp kodbales, is adding appropriate amount of water. Less water absorbs lesser oil.