Popular Recipes

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Around The World in 30 Weekends"-Weekend 6= Nepal

Dish Name: Vegetable MOMO's with Sesame-Tomato Achar(Sauce)/ Nepali Vegetable stuffed dumplings

Last night I was thinking.....where to 'go' for my weekend culinary travel..which country to visit for "Around the world in 30 weekends" segment that I am doing for this blog? And , I suddenly realised....I have never had 'Nepali' food before! Nepal being so close to India....I still haven't explored the cuisine of that country.How strange! Immediately I started exloring 'Nepal recipes" and found this interesting recipe for MOMO.
Now...these MOMO's are nothing but flour dumplings stuffed with vegetables/meat/shrimp/paneer. Their shape is somewhat similar to Indian 'Modak' which we offer to 'Ganesh'...but instead of being sweet,they are spicy.Being made of 'all purpose flour' they are easier to handle than the classic Rice flour Modaks.When I tasted these, my feeling was....they are a classic fusion of Chinese and Indian cooking.MOMOs have vegetable stuffing similar to chinese spring rolls/dumpling..... but had Indian spices for flavoring.Also, MOMO's are usually served with some kind of sauce....tomato achar/ tamarind sauce/ soy sauce.I decided to give the 'Tomato Achar' a try. The combination of Vegetable MOMO's with the tangy and spicy tomato achar was delicious! What I wasn't expecting was....my little 'E' would like these...but he just LOVED these! He kept asking for more MOMO's and with the sauce!  That was the best part of making these! As far as 'M' is concerned, he has a 'special' connection with Nepal....his favorite actress ( back when he was in college) was..'Manisha Koirala' who comes from the Royal family of Nepal. So he was excited to try this delicacy from his fav 'Manisha's' land and also helped me with photographing the MOMO's.
The recipe I found on the internet was from Creative Nepali Cooking with Tulsi Regmi. I have modified the recipe a little to suite my cooking and taste. But you can look at the original recipes on the above link.
For MOMO Dough-
1 cup All pupose flour
1tbsp oil
Knead all together and make into dough.Keep covered for 30 mins.

For MOMO Filling-
1/4 cup Carrots Julienned (thinly cut into strips)
1/4 cup cabbage thinly cut
1/4cup capsicum thinly cut
1/4cup onion thinly chopped
1/4cup Paneer crumbled
1tbsp cilantro cut
1/2tsp Ginger Garlic paste
1/4tsp Turmeric
1/8tsp Fenugreek seeds
1/4tsp Chili powder
1/4tsp Curry powder
1tsp water-flour mixture
Heat oil,add fenugreek, let it splutter.Add turmeric,ginger garlic paste and all the veggies,paneer and spices.Saute for 3-4 mins.Do not over cook the veggies.Add the water flour mixture,stir for 2- 3 mins.Let the filling cool.

 For Sesame-Tomato Achar-
1/3 cup Sesame seeds
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup crushed tomato
1/2tsp ginger garlic paste
1tbsp cilantro chopped
1tsp lime juice
1/4tsp lime zest
1/2tsp chili powder
1/2tsp sugar
1/4tsp Asafoetida
Roast the mustard,cumin and sesame seeds together untill they splutter and turn golden.Don't let them burn. Powder them in a blender.
Heat oil, add ginger garlic paste, asafoetida, tomato puree and fry for 3-4 mins.Turn off the heat.Add remaining spices and cilantro.Blend together along with sesame powder,lime juice,zest,salt etc and make into smooth paste. Serve along with steamed MOMO.

Assembly of MOMO:
1) Knead the dough again before rolling out.Roll out the dough into thin chapati.With a cookie cutter cut out poori like circles.Keep covered till ready to fill.
2) Take 1 circle, pleate the edges with fingers,by pressing the edges vertically at regular intervals.Stuff with 1 spoonfull of vegetable filling and close the MOMO by twisting the pleates all together...Like modak.....but with less or no  'peak' on top.
3) Oil some plates/vessels for steaming the MOMO
4) Steam in a steamer/pressure cooker without whistle for 10 -12 mins.
5) Serve hot with Sesame-tomato achar.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"Appetizers"- Spinach-Artichoke Phyllo cups

Couple days ago....I was just browsing through freezer section isles of 'Wegmans' and came across this appetizer.Since 'Thanksgiving' is approaching there was a variety of 'hors d'oeuvre' which were either ...ready to bake, ready to fill or ready to serve.It is amazing how many types of appetizers you can put together without much effort.And its literally 'feast for the eyes' as they all look so delicious and tempting.
Their is so much variety in 'semi' ready made foods here in USA....it makes your life so much easy! Unlike in India...you pretty much make everything from scratch.If and when I go back to India...it is definately on back of my mind to start a business like 'Making semi ready foods' for freezers and also 'Gerber' like Indian baby meals! Hahaa....what plans I have!
I remembered I had some phyllo cups left in my own freezer from the time I made 'Baklava cups' . Immediately next day I tried these out with frozen spinach and artichoke(marinated artichoke quarters) that I had. It tasted good and offered textural contrast of soft spinach-arichoke filling to the crisp crunchy phyllo cups. These Phyllo cups are surely a ' great ' find..you can fill it up with so many things....sweeet/ savory and it all tastes good!
12 Phyllo cups
1/2 cup frozen spinach thawed & drained or 1 cup fresh spinach sauted and drained
1/4cup cooked marinated artichoke hearts
1/4cup chopped onion
1tsp mayonnaise
1/4 cup shredded cheese (Pepper jack)
1 clove garlic crushed
1/8tsp black pepper
1/2tsp oil

1) Heat 1tsp oil, add crushed garlic,onion, saute for 1-2 mins.
2) Add the spinach and artichoke hearts,mix.Take off the heat .Let cool for 2-3 mins.
3)Add black pepper, salt,mayonnaise mix again.
4) Pre heat oven to 350F.
5) Add spoonfull spinach artichoke mixture to the phyllo cups.Top with shredded cheese.
6) Bake for 8-10 mins till cheese melts and phyllo cups become golden brown
8) Serve immediately.

I took the above picture before baking in the oven. It just looks prettier with the shredded cheese before melting!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Everyday Cooking"- Butter Chicken/Chicken Makhani

Sometime last week,my friend 'P' gave me a sample of some Butter chicken that she had cooked for lunch.It was so delicious and tasted so much like butter chicken from 'Indian restaurant'...it was obvious that I asked her for the recipe.She said it was 'Vah' chefs recipe...from 'VahreVah'.
So I visited this site -'www.vahrevah.com'  and looked up this recipe by Chef Sanjay Thumma.
I have tried making Butter chicken before and know the general outline of the sauce..tomato cream sauce with cashews etc....but this recipe also had 'Kasoori Methi' which gives the chicken its distinct flavor and smell like from 'Indian restaurant'. Also,in the restaurants,they make butter chicken by using boneless chicken pulled off from 'Tandoori chicken'.So it has that 'smoky' flavor as well as distinct red color.
I followed the general theme of the recipe..not the exact amounts (I never do so except for Baking) and added or modified it a little bit here and there...
1.5 lbs Chicken Drumsticks/ Boneless chicken
2 medium onions chopped
2-3 ripe tomatoes or 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/4cup cashews
2tsp cilantro chopped
1 tsp Ginger garlic paste
1tbsp Cumin-coriander powder
1tsp Butter chicken masala
1/4tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2tsp Chili powder
1tsp kasoori methi
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2tsp sugar
2tsp butter
Red food color(optional)...I did not use it in this recipe
Almonds,cilantro for garnishing

1) Remove the skin from Chicken Drumsticks.Marinate with some ginger garlic paste,chili powder,salt and red color(optional..I did not use it).Put on baking sheet and bake in the oven for 40 mins at 375F.Let it cool for sometime to let the juices redistribute in the meat.
2) Meantime,fry onion,ginger garlic paste and tomatoes in 1tsp oil till nice and soft.Puree in the blender along with cilantro,cashews and kasoori methi.
3) Heat 2tsp butter,when it bubbles,add cumin seeds and the above paste and fry nicely.Add little water and the whole milk.Add butter chicken masala, cumin coriander powder,sugar and salt.The gravy should be little thick.This is a mild sauce and shouldn't be too spicy.It has a tender flavor ...little sour,sweet and smooth and silky.
4) Pull the chicken from the bones, slice it vertically and add to the gravy.Let it cook for 3-4 mins.
5) Add garam masala to the gravy.Mix.
6) Turn off the heat,add cilantro and almonds.
7) Serve hot with Naan/Chapati/ Rice.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Pat a Cake"- Halloween Cake

Last week was pretty busy...with exams, 'E's Halloween parades,costume making, friends visiting over weekend etc etc.But I thought it will be fun to have a cake for 'halloween' .....so that 'E' knows that cakes are not only for 'birthday' parties....but any special occasion. But the funny part is ....when we cut the cake....he started singing 'Happy birthday E...Happy b'day dear E...."!!! So for him...cutting a cake..is still his Birthday....everytime!! Hahahha!
So..when I wanted to bake a cake..I started to look around for decoration ideas. Many images of halloween cakes were very freaky and spooky..with fake eye balls,worms, spiders etc etc.I am not that brave to eat a cake with eye balls on it....so tried out this simple design..of 'Cobweb' appearance.It was pretty simple to make and the cake did look like it was for 'Halloween'.
I baked this cake with a 'mix'....just because I was short on time....but you can always bake same cake from scratch.One surprising fact I found was....many professional bakeries use cake mixes to bake their cakes!
And I am on the same page with them...cake mixes are convenient, consistent results everytime....good when you want to bake on a hectic schedule.
1/2 pack Betty Crocker German chocolate cake mix
1/2 can Betty Crocker Fluffy white icing can
1 tube orange food color
1 tube black food color
1/8 cup orange and brown M&M's.
Eggs,oil, water ( as per directions on the cake mix packet)

1) Bake the cake as per directions on the box.Let the cake cool.
2) Mix orange food coloring in part of the icing and mix well.
3) Cut the cake horizontally into 2 halves. Carefully lift the upper layer and put on a separate dish.
4) Apply 'white' icing from the can to the bottom layer.

5) Carefully place the upper layer of cake on top of this iced bottom layer.
6) Apply the 'orange' frosting on top and sides of the cake.Spread evenly and smooth out.
7) With black food coloring draw concentric circles on top of the orange icing.
8) With a toothpick,carefully pull the toothpick from the innermost circle to the outermost circle and to the edge of the cake.Do this at equal distances to get the cobweb apprerance.
9) Decorate the cake edges with alternating brown and orange M&M's
10) Enjoy .....Boo!

My Little 'E' as Cowboy for Halloween 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Appetizers"- Baked Chicken Kheema Balls ( Minced Chicken balls)

One of my favorite non veg dishes, back in India,was 'Kheema' .There, we could mostly get 'mutton' kheema.Chicken kheema wasn't so popular or not so much readily available.My mom made number of tasty dishes from kheema....she made kheema curry, kheema pattice (potatoes stuffed with spiced kheema), Kheema pav (bread stuffed  with kheema).I remember how much I liked those....and wished we could have them everyday!
Another thing about kheema is....it is very versatile.You can use it in number of ways.Like I mentioned before, in curries or as stuffing for appetizers or parathas.Couple years ago when I visited a friend in NJ,she had made some kind of kabobs...she had coated boiled eggs with kheema and then fried those.
In Kolhapur (city in Maharashtra,India),they make 'Goli Pulav' i.e Spicy rice with kheema balls.Kind of like Biryani,but they cook the kheema balls along with rice.I haven't made it myself, but want to give it try some time.
Over the weekend..... when I was thinking about what to make for my friends (who were visiting us for the weekend)....I thought of making something out of kheema ....for appetizers. First I thought about making kabobs.....but ran out of colorfull veggies to put on the skewers along with the kabobs. Did not want to bother 'M' with another trip to the grocery store.So just made these spicy kheema balls and layed them on bed of fried onions and fresh green onions levaes for garnishing.They turned out very delicious and tempting and the smell when they baked in the oven  was..just heavenly...we could hardly wait to pop these in our mouth!

1lb minced chicken/kheema
1 medium onion chopped finely
2tsp mint paste
1tsp ginger garlic paste
1tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2tsp chicken curry masala
1/2tsp garam masala
1/2tsp chili powder
1/4tsp turmeric
1/2tsp cumin-corainader powder
1/4tsp black pepper
1/4 cup Bread crumbs
1 egg
salt to taste
oil to brush hands

For garnishing:
2 medium onion sliced and fried in oil for 2-3 mins.Just till they loose their raw onion flavor but retain their crunch.
Chopped green onion leaves.

1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2)Gently mix together all the above ingredients.Do not over mix....otherwise the kheema balls come out tougher and chewy.Just mix till everything is combined well.
3) Brush  hands with oil
3) Take small amount of kheema mixture and roll into balls
4) Place onto baking sheet lined with aluminum foil
5) Bake for 30-35 mins till cooked through
6) Broil for 2 mins to get nice golden brown color on top.
7) To serve- place on bed of fried onions and sprinkle green onion leaves.

1) Place the balls on skewer sticks/ toothpicks along with other veggies like cherry tomatoes,green/red peppers, onions etc

I am sending this recipe as entry for "Think Spice: Think Turmeric" event hosted by http://bengalicuisine.net/

Monday, November 2, 2009

" Everyday Cooking"- Misal Pav (Mixed sprouts curry and bread)

I am Back! Done studying for the exams! Can't wait to get blogging again!Had a great weekend with couple friends- 'A'(who was my classmate from Garware B.Sc class) and 'S' our childhood friend from Pune.It was so nice to remember those good old times...laugh our hearts out on the same old  jokes...chat...It was just too much fun! Wish we could have such great time every weekend! So,Since both my friends are still 'students' I was sure they are looking forward to some 'good food' at our house and satisfy their cravings for 'homemade' food. This curry 'misal' is very famous in Maharashtra ...it is sort of fast food...sold in stalls and eaten in 'not so fancy' restaurants.It is 'laymans' food. But have you heard of a 'healthy' fast food and a 'All in one' dish??? This 'Misal' falls in that category.Misal literally means 'everything mixed up".It has various kinds of bean sprouts, topped with tomatoes,onions,potatoes cilantro and poha and for crunch ....sev and farsan (mixture) and a squeeze of lemon.How good does that sound? Rarely you find something with all textures and flavors and nutrition packed into one single dish.And, eat it with bread....you will have a complete delicious...satisfying meal ...and you will keep craving more!
My friend 'P' had been asking me for this recipe for a long time. Finally made it this weekend and got to share it...This one is for you 'P'..
1/2 cup moth beans/Matki
1tbsp black eyed peas
1tbsp pink beans
1tbsp whole Masoor
1tbsp cup Navy beans or any other beans
This ratio and type of beans can be changed as per liking.Soak all beans overnight. Let them sprout for 1-2 days.
 For Masala:
Fry 1 chopped onion till golden brown.Add 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut.Fry till golden brown. In a blender add the fried onion,coconut,2-3 garlic cloves, 1/2tsp ginger,1 tbsp cilantro.Grind into smooth paste.
Dry Masala:
1tsp Maharashtrian Kanda lasun masala(onion garlic masala) if you cannot find this,use chicken curry masala
1/2tsp cumin coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder(Adjust to your taste.This is a 'spicy' dish)
1/2 tsp Jaggery
1/2 tsp Amsul/ Tamarind
5-6 curry leaves
mustard seeds
For Toppings:
Thin Sev
Poha(made as usaual with onions,green chilies etc)
Boiled mashes potatoes
Chopped onion,tomatoes and cilantro
Lemon wedges
1) Pressure cook the bean sprouts till cooked (but not mushy).About 3 whistles.
2) In a pan heat some oil,add jeera nad mustard seeds.Add the ground onion-coconut masala paste.Fry till it starts leaving some oil.All curry leaves,turmeric,cumin coriander powder,kanda lasun masala,chili powder.Mix.
3) Add the cooked beans, salt,jaggery, amsul/tamarind and enough water to make 'curry' (about 1-2 inches of water above the beans) and boil.Garnish with Cilantro.
4) To serve,take couple tbsp curry in a bowl,top with all the toppings and garnish with cilantro.
5) Serve hot with bread.

1) Add green peas and potatoes to the curry.
2) Along with other toppings add a spoonfull of yoghurt to tone down the spice.
3) For more 'tangy' taste....add spoonfull of tamarind-jaggery chutney on the curry.

1) I am sending this recipe for the MLLA-17(My Legumes Love Affair) event hosted by Susan :

2) I am sending this entry to RCI-mumbai(Regional cusines of India) event hosted by Kitchen Chronicles and Lakshmi Krishnan. of Veggie Cuisine (http://veggiecuisine.blogspot.com/)