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Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Appetizers"- Potato Balls with Spicy Green Peas filling

Usually, when 'M' gets home from work in the evening, he is pretty hungry. Loves to have some snack when he gets home.Couple days ago, this recipe came as 'extempore' .I was thinking what I can make for the snack today? Opened the refrigerator....found couple boiled potatoes ( my moms trick..to have couple boiled potatoes on hand!) and some left over 'spicy peas filling' Tadah......and we had an amazingly delicious snack within 15 mins. 'M' said he would rate these as one of the best appetizers he ever had! I said....WHY NOT??? Potato.... that too fried till golden brown......what can go wrong? It has to be delicious!!!! Even little 'E' munched on these and kept asking for more 'Vala'(i.e Vada) .....that's what he was calling them!

Potato Ball Covering:
1and1/2 cup mashed potato (without any lumps)
1/2 cup Seasoned bread crumbs
1/2tsp Cumin
1/2tsp Chili powder
1/2tsp garlic paste
oil for frying
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs for light dusting the balls.

1) Mix together mashed potatoes, bread crumbs, salt, cumin, chili powder,garlic etc.Knead well.Keep aside.

Spicy Green Peas filling
1 onion finely chopped
1 tomato finely chopped
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2tsp garam masala
1/2tsp cumin
1/2tsp mustard seeds
1/2tsp cumin-coriander powder
1/2tsp Chili powder
1/4tsp turmeric

1) Heat oil in a pan.Add mustard seeds amd let them splutter.Add the cumin seeds,onion and fry till golden colored.Add the tomatoes and rest of the spices.Fry 2-4 mins
2) Add the green peas and salt and fry again till the filling dries up.Let it cool.

Assembling Potato Balls with Green peas filling:
1) Take about 2tsp mashed potato mixture in hand.Make a depression in the middle.
2) Place 1 spoonfull filling in the center
3) Carefully cover with potato mixture and make into a round ball.
4) Roll the ball into bread crumbs. Dust any excess bread crumbs.
5) Heat oil in a deep pan. When hot enough to fry, carefully fry the Potato balls in the oil till golden brown from all sides.
6) Serve hot with Ketchup/ Hot and Sweet sauce/ Mint Chutney.

The Potato balls can be stuffed with pretty much anything.....Chicken kheema, Paneer, Spinach, Corn or even some thick Green chili-coconut chutney.They all taste yummy!

Enjoy the slight- crunchy, but soft outer potato covering stuffed with spicy green peas to satisfy your craving for a delicious evening snack!

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Everyday Cooking"- Savory 'Black gram/Urad dal' muffins with spring onions/ Baked 'Medu Vadas'/Appe

It is kind of 'funny' to call these muffins.But they kind of are--- baked with leavening agents in a muffin pan and hence 'look' like muffins! I got the motivation to make these from the memories of something my mother made in India, it is called 'Appe'.
The batter was similar to 'Idli' or 'medu vada' batter Black gram/Urad dal paste (rice can be added), chopped onions, cilantro, green chillies etc. But instead of deep frying those, they were cooked in a 'special Appe iron gridle with depressions'. The 'Appe' came out golden brown and crispy on the outside ( kind of 'fried' appearance) , soft inside, fluffy and tasted delicious!!! They were a perfect snack! Loved eating those growing up!
Here is the picture of 'authentic' Appe being cooked-

I obviously do not have a 'Appe Griddle' here in USA and so came up with this version to be made in regular oven, in muffin pans! Try it out! They are delicious!

I did not use 'Rice' in the batter. I used Urad dal/ split black gram and some 'Rava'/ cream of wheat, to make these. I served these up with 'Coconut-Cilantro' chutney.But you can also serve it with Ketchup/ Hot and sweet sauce etc

1cup Urad dal paste (Soak urad dal for 5-6 hrs. Grind with no or minimal water)
1/4cup Rava/Cream of wheat
1/4cup sour yogurt
1tsp lemoin juice
2tbsp spring onions chopped
1/4cup onion finely chopped
1/2tsp ginger paste
1/2tsp green chilies finely chopped
1/2tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

For Coconut Chutney:
1/2cup fresh/frozen ground coconut
2 tsp roasted chana dalia
1/4 cup cilantro
1-2 green chilies
1 clove garlic
1/4tsp ginger
oil, mustard,cumin,curry leaves for tempering.

1) Grind together coconut,chana dalia, garlic, ginger, cilantro, salt, sugar.
2) Heat 1tsp oil, add mustard, cumin, curry leaves, let it splutter.Add to the ground chutney.

For "Appe':
1) Mix together Urad dal paste, rava, onions, chilies, cumin, yogurt.Blend well.Keep aside for 10 mins
2) Preheat oven to 350 F.
3) Oil muffin pans liberally.The 'Appe' tend to stick as Urad dal is pretty sticky.So either use oil liberally or use non stick muffin pans. Oil also helps to give 'crisp' texture and 'fried' golden brown color.
4) Add lemon juice, baking powder, baking soda to the urad-rava batter.Mix only till well blended.
5) Immediately pour 2 tbsp batter into oiled muffin pans.Drizzle few drops of oil on the sides of the batter as well.Bake in the oven for 25 mins.
6) Turn up the heat to 425F. Bake for another 5-10 mins until the 'muffins/appe' look golden brown and cooked from within(check with a tooth pick).
7) Take out from the oven, let them sit for 10 mins.
8) Remove from the muffin pan
9) Serve warm with Coconut chutney/Ketchup.

                               Bite into the crisp- savory- golden brown muffin with soft- fluffy inside!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rough weekend- Slow on Blogging this week :(

Rough weekend:
Had a pretty 'rough' weekend. On friday, we went out to dinner at this newly opened 'Italian Buffet' place.I was pretty excited about going there. I thought we all love Italian food..especially 'E' loves Pizza and Pasta. Also, this place has 'indoor fireworks' ( their ceiling would lite up every few minutes to mimic fire works show) and also has colorfull fountains.I was sure 'E' is going to love it and for a change sit still till we dine!
When we went there, 'E' actually did not eat much...may be 1/2 a slice of cheese Pizza. Both 'M' and I tried few different Pizzas but weren't satisfied with any and did not like any in particular. Had some salad along with the Pizzas. That was it...wasn't to happy about the dining experience there.But decided may be we will try the other stuff on their menu which wasn't included in the buffet .....the next time.
Came home....watched a movie...went to sleep.
It all started at around 1.30 am.....both M and I got terribly sick.....we were throwing up....had nausea.We were sick with food poisoning.....whole night we were awake and feeling terrible.Fortunately..since 'E' hadn't eaten much there....he was not affected and he slept throught the night.We were so thankfull for that!
So the rest of the weekend we were still suffering from Nausea, feeling weak, had little temperature, did not feel like eating anything...it was HORRIBLE!!!
All we ate throught the weekend was Plain daal and rice.That was the only thing we could keep in!
Even today.....we aren't feeling all that great. But definately better than past couple days.
As you must have guessed .....I am not 'feeling' like cooking at all ! Don't know how long the nausea is going to last?
Hence, I am going to take it easy on cooking for the blog and keep to minimal cooking as needed.

Also, its 'Exam week' ....I have to submit Final exams for (Food Science-'Food Bioterrorism' ) course that I am taking through Ohio State University. This will be my 2nd last course for the series!
One more course to go.....and I will be done!

See you all once I am done with the exams and feel rejuvenated to cook again after the food poisoning incident!!

Hope you will join me again!

"Chatpata Chaat'- Bhel

What foods do you miss most...living away from your home country???
For me...its mostly the street foods....Bhel, Pani poori, Dabeli, Chana Choor,SPDP(Sev Potato Dahi Poori) etc etc.Not that we cannot make them here in USA....but the ease of stopping at one of the stalls, telling the vendor -how 'spicy' or 'sweet' you want your dish, the dish being made in front of you, chaating- gossiping with your buddies, savoring the tangy-spicy-sweet mouthwatering chaat.....ufff even the 'thought' makes me nostalgic and my mouth water!!!
Once,I was telling my colleague at Cornell  'How I miss Indian food'.He was surprised, he said.....but there are so many Indian restaurants here..why don't you eat there! I told him....they do not have 'all' the foods we get in India....and ofcourse the 'taste' is not as authentic. He asked me to describe some dish which I miss the most.I tried describing to him..'Bhel'...Puffed rice mixed with savory snack mixture, raw onions, tomatoes, Tamarind chutney.. etc etc He seemed confused....couldn't really 'get' what I  really miss????
I can totally understand....he hadn't tasted the addictive tangy-sweet-spicy taste of Bhel ...how would he know..what I really miss???
When I was reading 'Namesake' by Jhumpa Lahiri....a book about an 'immigrant' family......there, the couple migrates to US (may be in 1970's..don't exactly remember when) The lady is 'Bengali'. After coming to USA, she misses ofcourse her homeland, her friends and family....but also the 'food'. She becomes really homesick and tries making 'Bhel' with Rice Krispie cereal !!!!! How cool was that! Because those days finding 'puffed rice and indian grocery' wasn't as easy as it is now! So....we are amongst the lucky ones!!! We atleast can find what we need to make our favorite dish here in US of A!

Here is the recipe for 'Bhel':

2 cups Puffed rice ( I haven't tried using Rice krispie cereal yet!!) Make sure its crispy.
1Cup Savory 'Hot Punjabi Mix' Farsan
1/2 cup thin Sev
1 onion  finely chopped
2 tomatoes finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp roasted peanuts
1 tbsp raw mango chopped (if you like the tang)
Flat pooris if you want to make 'Bhel Poori'. I sometimes use 'Pringles' !!!

For Chutney:
1 tbsp Tamarind extract
1/4 cup grated jaggery
1/2tsp cumin-corainder powder
1/2tsp chili powder
1/4tsp chaat masala
1/2cup water
Mix everything in the water and make Tangy-sweet- spicy chutney.This chutney is pretty watery.

For extra spice:
Crush green chilies and garlic together into fine paste. Add to bhel as needed.

Mixing bhel:
1) Mix together the puffed rice, farsan, half of the sev, onion, tomatoes, peanuts, mango etc.
2) Add the tamarind chutney to make the bhel 'wet' but not soggy.
3) Garnish with remaining sev, cilantro, pooris/ pringles etc
4) Serve immediately!

Enjoy the blissfull combination of various textures and tastes all packed in one mouthwatering dish!