Thursday, April 29, 2010

Unusually Usual – Jollof Rice

Don’t be intimated by the name; it’s just our usual tomato rice with an unusual name; cooked usually with a bit of unusual ingredients. Unusual ingredient sounds a bit of exaggeration. Carrots and peas and chicken don’t sound unusual to me, you may ask? Oh! Dear. They do, they do sound unusual in tomato rice. [At least for me]

So, when I sighted upon PJ’s African cooking event and her jollof rice, I knew my blog space was craving for it, quite some time now. [After all, we thrive on the same recipes]. Along with the basic ingredients (of course, rice and tomato), you add nearly any kind of meat, vegetable or spice. There you go. You can call it ‘Jollof rice’ instead of our usual boring ‘Tomato rice’.

Ok. I know. It’s bad. Let’s not compare. Jollof meaning ‘one pot’ is a common dish in west-africa, especially Nigeria. Spices, and sometimes curry powder are added to the rice to give it a unique color and flavor. Healthy, simple and delicious are the terms I can relate to this captivating one-pot rice dish.
[Recipe adapted from What's for eats]
2 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tbsp Curry powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Onions, sliced thinly
2 Cloves Garlic chopped
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Basmati Rice [Washed and soaked for 15 minutes]
2 tbsp Tomato paste
1 can diced or whole tomatoes
1/2 cup Mixed Vegetables[Carrot, peas, beans, Cabbage]
1/2 cup Chicken pieces cubed[Optional].
Salt and pepper to taste 
In a wide pan(make sure, its got a tight lid), heat oil, add the cumin seeds, garlic and the masala powders. Fry for a minute. Add the onions and fry till the raw smell goes.

Add the tomato paste, along with the crushed tomatoes and cook for few minutes.
Stir in the vegetables and Chicken if using. Season to taste.

Add water and bring it to boil. Add the basmati rice, and check for salt and spice. Reduce the flame to low, cover tightly and cook for 40 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the moisture evaporated.
Switch off.Keep the lid closed for another 15 minutes. Serve.

If using a pressure cooker or rice cooker, transfer the contents after adding the basmati rice, and cook accordingly.
Note:  I used only peas, just for a lighter meal.
As you know, sending this recipe to AWED event started by Divya and hosted by Seduce Your Tastebuds

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The stars shine down

‘In the deep woods, there was a lonely castle… stood a fair maid amidst the dark, starring at the shining stars…’, as the story continued,

I leaned forward, to grab the first handful of rice, that rested peacefully in my grandmother’s hands, not being touched by my grandfather’s story. I took an indulging and caressing look, I reached out closer, with my eyes and ears on the shining stars, and as I was about to savor it— it vanished. Someone took it. And this time the culprit was my brother. I demanded, next is for me! No, it’s for me -this time it’s my other three sisters. No I— . I am the elder one, and I should be more patient -that’s my grandma. OK. OK. I will wait!

Amidst the splendor and festivity of days, we sometimes have days, rather, nights like this. In the not-much deep woods, there was a lonely castle, and this time—Five of us stood, demanding for more stories and more food, in an open terrain under the starry sky, with few light-flies glittering around us. Our grandparents live in a beautiful village house, surrounded with land full of trees, crops and weeds, as far as we could see. The neighbor next door, we have to walk a mile or two. During holidays and festival times, we— my and my cousin’s family gather to celebrate the season together. The adults will be busy cooking or preparing for the festival.

And for us, it’s a different story. The days were spent wandering through the lands with our grandpa, watching him water the crops, playing in the water, peeping in to the well and much more. As slowly, the sun sets in the horizon, and the little stars twinkle in the sky, our nights would come to a standstill. Each of us have our own bed— rather I should say, a cot made just with the ropes. And we lay them one after other in the open roof outside the house.

Each dinner night, our grandmother brings a big vessel filled with enough rice and the simmered pot of a lavishing eggplant curry, she made earlier in the day. The aromatic smell from that curry arouses all our senses. She makes a big ball of them, and keeps on her hand, just for us to grab and savor it. Nothing tasted much better than that. A love affair, that happened then, will never leave our hearts for the rest of the days to come, and will never compare to the rest of the foods we eat.

The curry was fabulous, and the stories were thoughtful, and the skies were bright. It seemed the stars were listening, as they shined down to nod; and the birds echoed with our grandfather at the end of his each statement.

Days and nights were beautiful and it was meant to be— till life took over;

'Life would be the same forever, with the same food, same love, and same moon, as long as the stars shine down', I thought.

The gods were laughing! And I didn’t hear them do.

Not that I am complaining now. It’s just, the remains of the past are nothing, but dreams happened in real.

Though a part of me long’s for those days, but,

Yet the stars shine down, I still make the curry, I still have the hope of feeding my children, I still believe the moon follows us where ever we go. And still, I vaguely remember the stories to tell them, how the stars shine down.

I’m glad; I can share the story and the curry—

The gods must be smiling!

IMG_23073/4 cup Green Moongdal whole [dry roasted and soaked overnight]
2 Tomatoes
1 large red onion
2 red chili or more as per taste
2 medium size Eggplants/Brinjal [Optional]
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
2 or 3 Curry Leaves
2 tbsp Curry Powder or Sambhar powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
1/4 tsp Cumin powder
1 tsp red chili powder[Use only if more you need the dish to be more spicy]
Coriander leaves to garnish
1 tbsp Oil

Pressure cook the moongdal with enough water. Preserve the water and the cooked moongdal.

Blanch one tomato i.e. place the tomato in a vessel and cover with enough water. Boil the water for about 15-20 minutes, till the skin tomato becomes tender and easily peel able. Once done, discard the skin and mash the tomato.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds, red chilies and curry leaves and let them splutter. Add the onions and fry till the onion turn slightly brown.

Add the blanched tomato along with the chopped tomato and all spice powders. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, till the tomato is soft and mixed well with the gravy. If adding Eggplants, add now, simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes till the eggplants are tender.

Add the cooked moongdal with the preserved water, adjust the water according to your preference of the curry thickness, however a slight this consistency would be tastier. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice or roti.

Sending this recipe to Jo's Mother's Day Event.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Same Difference

One look at the ingredients, I hear you say, Oh! wait. I know this, I too have a similar recipe. Yes, these are the same old puff pastries you have in your space. Believe me, it’s mostly the same ingredients. Only the looks maketh a difference! Looks are deceptive, aren’t they?

What would I do? Cold and cough. I wasn’t quite well for a couple of days. And, my dear husband took the responsibility to, well, you know, to put all the food restrictions! No sweets and no snacks. Now, that I am fully recovered. I keenly took the responsibility to make these crossovers. I really started to make a berry crossover, but instead, I ended up making these spicy egg-onion crossovers.

What a delightful tea-time snack? Really, does it matter? A plain folded puffs or solely criss-crossed puffs. It’s just the same with difference. But this small difference would make a difference, won’t they?
1 sheet puff pastry thawed
2 large eggs [or] 1 cup Mixed vegetables[Potato, Carrot and Peas]
1 medium red onion thinly sliced
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp pav bhaji masala
1/4 tsp chat masala
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp mustard seeds(Optional)
2-3 curry leaves(Optional)
a few coriander leaves chopped
1 Egg white beaten for egg wash[Optional]
2 tsp oil
Salt and pepper

For Egg puffs, boil the eggs, shell them and chop them roughly. Set aside.

In a hot pan, add oil, splutter the mustard seeds, add curry leaves and onions and fry till the onions are browned. Add the tomato puree along with the masalas and fry for another 2 minutes.Set aside.

Note: For vegetable puffs, add the vegetable to the onions, cover and cook over a low flame for about 5-10 minutes, till the vegetables are tender. Remove the cover and fry for 2 to 3 minutes over medium-high heat. Use this for topping instead of eggs.

Cut the puff pastry sheet to form a long rectangle shape. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with some flour. Place the pastry in the baking tray.

Place a rod/dowel in the center of the puff pastry and fold them. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle with flour.

Cut the edges into 1/4 inch strips running the knife. Make sure not to apply pressure on dough, so they won't tend to stick together. Unfold the dough carefully and remove the rod.

Place the chopped eggs diagonally in the center. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top it with the onion mixture.

Now, fold the strips inside alternatively from two sides, one over the other. Make sure they are crossed one over the other and are sealed completely. Cross the strips till the end of the dough! No need to seal the edges. Once done, give it an egg wash.

Egg Puffs
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degree F for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Cut into long puffs and enjoy!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Edible Bowl

It’s incredible how we cook frantically at times, to fix a quick dinner or a short lunch. But often times, we crave for a delicious meal, slow cooked and simmered to perfection, with an enormous touch of seasoning. I suppose in those days, women spend most of their time in their kitchen, relaxing and taking their own time to cook. And I suppose that’s one of the best workouts, which keeps them fit all through.

Today often we eat out at work, microwave some pre-cooked foods or worse, grab a burger from a fast-food restaurant. Not really knowing (or rather caring) what's good and what's not. I suppose this is mostly the daily happenings with working women.

But, for all those days of fast-food, for all those days of eat-outs, for all those days of unhealthy-meals,
here is something with a difference. Inspired and adapted from Panera Bread’s soup in a bread bowl, dear friendly friends, I present you, savored and sweltered onion soup in an incr(edible) bowl.


[Serves 2]

  • 2 medium Onions- thinly sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken broth[Optional]. Use 1/2 cup Vegetable stock instead.
  • a small piece of ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 firm round bread loaf/preferably sour dough bread.
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp oil or more
  • 1 tbsp shredded cheese(Optional)

Slice the bread at the top, just to make a slight opening at the top. Scrape out the soft bread carefully from inside the loaf. It should look like a hollow bowl. Place the bread bowl under broiler for 1 minutes(or less), just to harden the surface. This is done to avoid the bread from absorbing the liquid from the soup.

In wide pan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onions and leave it to cook till tender[do not stir in between]. Once tender or lightly browned, fry the onions over medium heat, till they become nicely browned(dark golden brown).

Add the vegetable stock and beef or chicken broth if using, along with the ginger and bring to boil, reduce and simmer for 20 minutes. Mix in the chopped cilantro.

Spoon in the soup into the bread bowl, and top it with cheese if using and broil for just 30 seconds or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately with corn or tortilla chips.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Savoring Curry

So, there I stood. Right in the kitchen. I hesitantly took a peep at my pantry. One fat onion was boldly starring at me. And that's it. No tomatoes. No Eggs. No Greens. May be a few leftover vegetables. What could be much worse than your pantry missing few important ingredients, especially tomatoes, especially when your friend is joining you for lunch?

And what could be better than calling mom and asking for suggestions? And what else could be better than the simple mix matches she gives? And so, there I stood. Right in the kitchen. I hesitantly mix matched the ingredients. I was boldly looking at the simply, but enormously savored vegetable curry.



For Grinding

  • 1 small stick Cinnamon
  • 2 Cloves
  • 1 Cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 small green chili
  • 1/2 cup Coconut grated or more
  • 1 tbsp Pottukadalai (Split Roast gram dhal)

Grind the above ingredients to smooth paste adding little water or more as required.

For the Kurma

  • 1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • Curry leaves: 3 or 4.
  • 2 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • Onion-1(finely chopped)
  • 1 cup Mixed Vegetables [I used 1-Potato ,1- Carrot, and more Beans]
  • Water as required
  • Coriander leaves (for garnishing)

In a hot pan, add oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and onions and fry till golden brown. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes.

Add the vegetables, salt, coriander powder, cumin powder, simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are done.
Add the grinded mixture along with water and bring to boil for about 10-15  minutes. Switch off. Garnish with Coriander leaves.[Which my pantry was missing this time:( ]

Can go well with rice, chapathi, or as a soup by itself.

P.S And my friend loved it a lot, so much that she took the left over with her- sparing me the empty vessel :(

Sending this recipe to Cooking with Seed-Cardamom event hosted by Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes.