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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ukadiche Modak

One cannot think of  'Ganapati' without his favorite Modak. Luckily this year, the festival coincides with a long weekend in the USA..and that means I could make this delicacy for lunch today!! Making ukadiche modak can be intimidating and I admit that everytime I make them, I am not sure whether they are going to come together well.

For the rice flour covering to come out perfectly, you need - good fresh rice flour (if you are lucky the indian store will carry the fresh one), a good recipe and technique and well...a lots of patience :)

Makes 10-12 modak
(I used standard measuring cups and spoons for the measurements)
1 Cup water
1 cup (heaped) Rice Flour
¼ tsp Salt
1tsp ghee

1.5 cup fresh grated/ frozen coconut
3/4 the cup sugar(use less for less sweet filling)
1/4 cup jaggery1tsp poppy seeds 1/2tsp Cardamom powder1/4tsp Nutmeg powder

1) Mix together coconut, sugar,jaggery, cardamom, nutmeg, poppy seeds and cook on low flame till cooked and the filling is translucent and dry.Let it cool.

       Ukadiche Modak Covering
Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add 1 tsp ghee and salt; add the rice flour and mix. Turn OFF the heat immediately. Keep a cover and let it stand for 10-15 mins to cool
Knead the dough with slightly oiled hand into smooth dough.
Keep it covered in moist cloth.
Keep a large vessel with some water to steam the modak
Take a sieve/ strainer/ shallow vessel and line it with a thin cloth. The modaks will be steamed in this vessel.
Make small rounds with the dough. Press with fingers to make flat rounds. This should be thin and without any cracks
Place 2 tsp Coconut filling in the modak. Mold the dough into ‘modak’ shape. First form as many pleats as possible. Then bring them together by gently pressing and rotating at the same time.

Place these modak into the cloth lined vessel and steam (without any pressure/whistle) for 15-20 mins.

Serve hot along with Ghee!

And look who helped me with her lil' hands!!

Amba Burfi

Living in the USA, has taught me a lot of things....one of them is 'making your own Indian traditional sweets'..which, if I was living in India, I am sure,I would have never ever attempted to make. Pedhas, Burfis, Mawa modaks....you just get those from the Mithai walas....hardly anyone makes those at home. But as you live away from 'Home'...you have to learn to do things..that makes us 'feel at home' in the unfamiliar places. Food is one such thing...it can instantly take you wherever you want to go in just one bite!

So, for Ganesh chaturthi, I made this Amba Burfi with the mango pulp I had on hand.I wouldn't say it is the easiest thing, like the microwave version of making pedhas, but it wasn't too hard and totally worth the efforts!

4.5 to 5 cups milk powder
1 Cup Mango pulp (I used canned mango pulp from the Indian store)
3/4 cup plus 4 tsp sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
12 oz evaporated milk
1/2 tsp cardamon powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
Ghee for greasing the a pan
Chopped nuts for garnishing
Silver 'varkha' for garnishing

A good non stick pan to make the mixture
A flat cookie sheet/ cake pan coated with ghee

1) Mix together the butter, 4 cups milk powder, evaporated milk and cook in a non stick pan on low flame for 15 mins with constant stirring.
2) Add the mango pulp, sugar, cardamon and nutmeg powder mix and keep cooking till the mixture gets thick. another 10-15 mins
3) Add 1/2 to 1 cup milk powder and cook till the mixture really thickens up. Take off the heat and let it cool for 5 mins. Add the 4tsp sugar and mix well.

4) Pour the mixture in the ghee coated pan.Flatten with spatula.Decorate with chopped nuts.Cut into squares.

Let it cool. Keep in the refrigerator for cooling for 1-2 hours.
Take out the burfi gently with a knife.
Cut and store in the refrigerator.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Easy Homemade Blueberry Icecream

Summer means berries!! And lots of lots of them!! Super markets are full of them and plus you go on 'U pick' trips and bring home more than you can eat!!
Apart from freezing them to save them..here is a quick and easy homemade blueberry ice cream recipe.
The ice cream gets a perfect 'blueberry blue' color and is smooth and rich from the whipped cream and condensed milk.

1.5 Cups fresh blueberries
1 tub Cool Whip
14 oz Sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tsp sugar
1 pinch salt

1) In a pan add 1.5 cups fresh blueberries, 2 tsp sugar and 1 pinch salt. Boil for 5-7 mins till the berries start to break down. Let it cool.Crush roughly with spoon. 
2) Mix it with 1 tub Cool whip,whole milk and 14oz can of sweet condensed milk. Mix well. Pour in molds or freezer safe container and freeze! Done! 
3)Freeze atleast for 6-8 hours

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chicken and Potatoes in Spicy Coconut milk curry

I had marinated some chicken tenders and frozen away half of them, to use later. I was wondering what to do with those.I sometimes feel the 'roasting-grinding' part of the masala for the curries is too tedious.Wanted a semi thick spicy and delicious curry,but without the hard work :) This one turned out perfect!! Spicy coconutty curry with tender pieces of chicken and potato cubes. Made a delicious weekend meal!

1.5 cups Chicken tender cut into large cubes
1 large potato cut into large cubes
1 can coconut milk
1/2 onion chopped
4 tsp Yogurt
2 tsp Chicken curry masala powder (store bought)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1-2 tsp red chili powder
2-3 Dried red chilies
few curry leaves

1) Marinate the chicken pieces in in yogurt, red chili powder,salt and chicken curry masala for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
2) Heat some oil, add the chopped onion fry till translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste, dried red chilies and curry leaves. Add the potato cubes and saute. Cover for few mins till potatoes brown a little.Add the chicken and saute for few more mins.
3) Add the coconut milk, salt, black pepper and mix. Cook on medium flame till the chicken and potatoes are tender.
4) Serve hot along with Rotis/ Chapatis or Rice

Thursday, July 17, 2014

'Chocolate-Walnut-Cherry' Bread

I hadn't baked in a really long time.The new loaf pan that I bought like a month ago...still had it's label
unmoved. I thought a 'quick' bread would be a good idea and will solve the 'what to give for snack' for the next few days atleast :)
This bread is not a 'bread' in real sense.But is something in between a 'cake' and  'bread'.It has a dense texture and a crusty top. Made with 'dried cherries'...it gives it a tangy surprise in between bites.

1.5 cups All Purpose flour
3/4 cup Sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 Eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (plus few whole for topping)
1/2 cup Dried cherries
1/2 hot water
1/4 cup Dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup Chocolate chips
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1) Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Grease/coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and flour. Soak the dried cherries in hot water for 15 mins.
2) Beat the butter till fluffy.Add eggs and salt and beat till light.Add the sugar and beat for couple more mins.
3) Sieve together flour,baking powder and baking soda.Add few tbsp at a time to the butter-eggs mixture.Mix together.
4) Add the soaked cherries along with the warm water it was soaked in, chopped walnuts,chocolate chips,vanilla and mix completely
5) Pour into the loaf pan, garnish with walnuts and bake at 350 F for about 40 mins. Check with toothpick to see if the center is baked.
6) Remove from the pan and cut when cooled completely.
Serve as snack or dessert along with vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Masala 'Braids'

A quick evening snack on my mind as I was driving back from work. I have to admit how-much-ever I complain about my hour long commute, it fruitful at times. It is when I listen to my favorite songs.It is when I get to 'think' peacefully and 'too much' ;p (as I like to do). It is also, when I get these 'creative' ideas about 'blog' food!

So, I had this can of buttermilk biscuit dough sitting in the refrigerator. Molding it into 'braids' was fun and they looked so beautiful and made a yummy tea time snack!

1 Can of Jumbo Buttermilk biscuit dough (makes 8)
2 tsp Sesame seeds
1 tsp chopped cilantro and mint leaves
1 tsp Olive oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp finely minced garlic
1/4 tsp black ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt

1) Preheat oven to 375F
2) Roll out one biscuit dough circle. Cut into 3 parts.Roll into tube like.

3) Press together the 3 tubes at one end and weave into braids. Press the ends together firmly to stick.Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4) Brush with Olive oil.Sprinkle with Sesame seeds, salt, chili powder,garlic, cilantro and mint.
5) Bake in the pre heated oven for 8-10 mins, till golden brown

6) Serve immediately with your favorite sauce

Monday, July 7, 2014

Spinach-Ricotta Cheese Lasagna

We were just back from our first ever camping trip and wanted to cook something delicious but easy for our wedding anniversary.'E' had been been asking me to make 'Lasagna' for past few days..so I thought...it would be a perfect 'family favorite' dinner menu.....Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna followed by 'Dessert Shots'(store bought)

2 Cups frozen spinach thawed in the microwave
1.5 cups mozzarella cheese
1.5 cups Ricotta cheese(whole milk)
1.5 cup Pasta sauce (store bought or make your own)
8-10 'Oven ready' Lasagna sheets
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Zucchini sliced into circles
2 eggs
1 Clove garlic minced finely
1/2 tsp Black ground pepper
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp Red chili powder/ Chili flakes

1) Pre heat the oven to 375 F
2) Mix together ricotta cheese, thawed spinach,eggs,garlic,pepper, Italian seasoning, salt, red chili powder, Parmesan cheese etc.

3) In a 9x9 oven safe dish, spread about 1/2 cup pasta sauce. Line 4 lasagna sheets length wise.
4) Spread generous amounts of Spinach-Ricotta mixture.Place the zucchini slices in single layer. Layer with lasagna sheets, pasta sauce, zucchini,spinach-ricotta, pasta sauce.
5) On the very top spread mozzarella cheese and some red chili flakes
6) Cover with aluminum foil.
7) Bake in the oven for 45 mins. Take out and let it rest for 10 mins before cutting.

8) Cut into squares and serve hot along withe extra Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top!

Dessert shots: They were super yummy with flavors like Tiramisu and strawberry shortcake and the perfect size for a dessert!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chilli Fish (Tilapia)

On the weekend, I had planned a simple vegetarian menu for lunch.I call up home in India, and my sister is cooking fish. Oh Boy....just the thought of the crispy spicy fried fish made with a coating of green chutney of coconut, green chilies and cilantro...I was already drooling. Opened up my freezer to find couple Tilapia fish fillets. But then to my disappointment.....no fresh coconut at home.
No problemo :)) I turned the fish into the Indo Chinese Spicy Tangy - Chilli Fish to satisfy my cravings!!

2 Tilapia Fish Fillet cut into bite size chunks
1.5 Yellow Onions cut into slices/ square chunks
½  Green bell pepper
3 green chilies sliced
6tsp All purpose flour
4tsp Corn flour
2tsp Soy sauce
2tsp Maggie Hot and sweet sauce
1 tsp Chili garlic sauce (or Sambal Olek paste)
1tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2tsp Red chili powder
1/4tsp Black pepper powder
Oil to fry
Water for the batter


1)      Cut the fish fillet into bite size chunks
2)      Mix together all purpose flour ,corn flour, salt , red chili powder, black pepper  with water to form a smooth batter. Add the fish pieces to the batter.
3)      Heat oil, fry the fish pieces till golden brown. Drain well and keep aside.
4)      Saute on little oil the onion, green peppers, green chilies for few seconds. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for few more seconds.
5)      Add the chili garlic sauce, soy sauce and hot and sweet sauce. Toss in the fried fish pieces.
6)      Add salt if needed.
7)      Toss gently, otherwise the tender fish pieces will fall apart .Take off the heat.
8)      Serve hot as appetizer or as a side dish or a main dish….it’s delicious anyways!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pea-Lafel (Peas and Mukimame falafels)

Around the World in 30 Weekends!! The segment I wished to complete by cooking a dish from 30 different countries on 30 weekends.It is going slow for sure...but I am sure I will get there someday:))

Here are my other culinary travels:

So here is Weekend Number 8:: Israel....and the famous street food from there.. "Falafels"

A friend had mentioned this recipe and how super tasty it is.I tried it over the long weekend and it made a wonderful dinner!!

 In my little research..I found a interesting fact....we have been calling soybeans all wrong!! We called all tender green soybeans..Edamame right??? But actually...
Edamame: When young soybeans are still in the pod
Mukimame: Shelled soybeans without the pods (So here I used Mukimame)

The recipe was adapted from:

Here are the changes I made:

No Fenugreek seeds
Add 1/2 cup Feta cheese
Add some red chili powder
Shallow fry after rolling in all purpose flour

Served here with a Whole wheat and Oats Pita bread...on a bed of spinach,tomatoes, sliced onion and topped with yogurt sauce.