Saturday, January 20, 2018

Candied orange peels

One of the things that I am consciously trying to do these days is reduce the amount of waste that is produced by my household. Though I still have a long way to go to be zero waste, I am on the path towards this goal. To this end, I now take my own cloth shopping bags to the stores, use reusable storage bags to store fresh produce and am trying my best to avoid single use plastics. Most vegetable peels are turned into stock and I make my own household cleaner with citrus peels. This time, though, I tried something different with orange peels. I made candied orange peels. This is quite an easy recipe, though it requires a little bit of time. The candied peels add great flavor to simple bakes like breads and cakes.

To make candied orange peels, you will need:
Peels from 3 oranges (washed and sliced into thin, long strips)
Water - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup

Boil 7-8 cups of water in a large saucepan. When it starts to boil, add the orange peels and let it boil uncovered, for 5 minutes. Drain and repeat the process again. This is done to remove the bitterness of the peels. If the peels are very bitter, you can boil and drain the water thrice. The orange peels that I used this time were not very bitter and it was enough to boil them twice.
Heat half a cup of water in a pan. Add sugar to it. Once the sugar dissolves, add the orange peels and let them cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes. Remove the peels onto a cooling rack and leave them to dry overnight. If there is any sugar syrup left, you can use it in smoothies or juices. Store the peels in an airtight container.

Do check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 84.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Foxtail millet (thinai) kozhukattai

I've been experimenting with millets in my kitchen and am trying my hand at substituting millets for rice in most of my everyday recipes. One such recipe where foxtail millet worked out really well as a substitute is this kozhukattai. Foxtail millet, known as thinai in Tamil and thina in Malayalam is a widely used variety of millet in South India. In this dish, the millet is coarsely ground along with some spices and then cooked, shaped into balls and steamed. This makes for a hearty and nutritious tiffin.

What you need:
Foxtail millet - 1 cup
Tuar dal - 1 tsp, heaped
Black pepper corn - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 3 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a sprig
Red chilli - 2, broken into pieces
Grated coconut - 1/3 cup
Asafoetida - a few generous pinches
Water - 2 - 2.5 cups (Start with two cups and if you feel the mixture is too dry, add up to another half cup)
Salt - to taste

In a blender, coarsely grind the millet, dal, pepper and cumin.
In a large kadai, heat oil. Addd mustard seeds, urad and chana dal, curry leaves and red chilli. When the seeds pop, add asafoetida and coconut. Saute for a minute or two and then add water and salt. When the water starts to boil, add the ground millets, a little at a time, stirring to make sure that no lumps are formed. Stir and cook until all the moisture is absorbed. Let this mixture cool.
Once it is cool enough to touch, pinch out small lemon sized portions and shape into balls. Place this on a greased idli plate or steamer plate and steam for 8-10 minutes.
Serve hot with coconut chutney or any other chutney of your choice.

Do check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 84.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ragi idli

When it comes to new year resolutions, I have finally realized that it is better I do not make any. Until a few years back, the first of January would see me ready to go to the gym or do yoga or some such thing. This enthusiasm would last, at best for about a week to ten days, after which it would fizzle out gradually. This year, I have no resolutions as such, but I do hope to include more millets, whole grains and natural foods in our diet. Blog wise too, I hope to do certain things, which you will read about in the course of the next three days when I will doing the Blogging Marathon under the theme New Year Challenge.
Ragi or finger millet is one of the millet varieties that I am most familiar with, given that it is the first solid food that I introduced my child to. Rich in nutrients, this millet is consumed in various forms - as a drink (ragi kanji/ragi malt), flatbread (ragi roti), dosa and idli. The recipe that I will be sharing today is an easy one for ragi idli.

What you need:
Urad dal - 1 cup
Methi seeds - 1 tsp
Idli rice - 3 cups
Ragi flour - 1 cup
Salt - to taste

Wash well and soak the rice and dal separately in plenty of water. Soak the methi seeds along with the dal. In a grinder, first grind the urad dal, adding water, a little at a time, until the dal turns light and fluffy(approximately 25-30 minutes). Add the rice to it and grind again until the grains are well ground and the batter is smooth. Add water, as necessary, to give the batter a thick, pourable consistency. Add salt and ragi flour. Grind for a few minutes so that everything gets mixed together well.
Pour into a large bowl, making sure that there is plenty of place for the batter to ferment and rise in the bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place to ferment overnight.

To make idlis:
Grease idli plates. Heat water in the idli steamer. Pour the batter into the idli plates and steam for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for a minute or two and then remove the idlis from the idli plate.
Serve hot with chutney and sambar.

Do check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 84.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Love letter - my favorite hostel snack

Like all hostels, the one I lived in when I went to college was not known for the food it served. In fact, there were some dishes that were downright unpalatable. However, given the fact that we were young and almost always ready to eat, we polished off pretty much everything that was served in the mess hall, no matter how it tasted. One of the things that I really looked forward to is a snack that the chechis in the mess made in the evening. Popularly known as "love letter", possibly due to the fact that it has something sweet rolled into it, I am not sure if this dish has a different name.

What you need:
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Salt - a pinch
Mix the ingredients to a smooth batter of pourable consistency.

For the filling:
Grated fresh coconut - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 2 tbsp
Cardamom powder - a pinch
Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl.

To make:
Heat a dosa tawa. Pour a ladleful of the batter and spread it into a circle. When you see bubbles beginning to appear, flip over and cook until there are brown spots on both sides. Place some filling inside and roll tightly.
Serve hot.

Do check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 84.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ellu poli - Sesame flat bread

A very happy new year to all my readers. I am starting this year with a sweet flatbread, as part of the Blogging Marathon. We usually make poli (sweet flatbread) with chana dal filling or coconut filling during festivals. I was planning to make one of those today, but a conversation about sesame laddus that I had with a friend prompted me to try my hand at a new filling. I find that the jaggery that I buy in the Indian stores here is quite hard and not very easy to grate or powder.  So I've used brown sugar instead of jaggery, which is what I had originally intended to use. By the way, I'd be grateful if anyone could share tips on how to grate or powder hard jaggery.

What you need:
For the outer covering:
Whole wheat flour - 1 cup
Salt - a pinch
Oil - 3 tsp. + 1 tbsp.

Take whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. Add salt and 3 tsp of oil. Mix well with the tips of your fingers. Add water, a little at a time and knead into a soft, loose dough. Add the remaining tbsp. of oil and coat the dough well with it. Cover and set aside for at least an hour.

For the stuffing:
Sesame seeds - 1/2 cup (I used black)
Sweetened coconut flakes - 1/4 cup (optional)
Brown sugar - 2 tbsp. (adjust according to taste. Increase the quantity if you are not using sweetened coconut flakes)
Cardamom - 1 pod

Dry roast the sesame seeds over a low flame until a nice, nutty aroma comes out. Take care not to burn the seeds. Once cool, grind it in a mixie along with the cardamom pod to a powder. Add in the coconut flakes and brown sugar and grind everything to a smooth powder.

To make polis:
Pinch out a lemon sized ball of dough. Oil a ziploc bag and with your hands, pat the dough into a thick circle. Place a spoonful of the filling inside and close the edges to form a ball. Pat again with oiled hands into a circle, pressing with the tips of your fingers to make the circle bigger.
Heat a tawa. Fry the poli, adding ghee on both sides and flipping over until brown spots appear on both sides.
Serve with ghee on top.
Do check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 84.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Poha cutlet - an air fryer recipe

The air fryer, as I mentioned in one of my previous posts, is the latest addition to my kitchen. Ever since we bought it, we've been trying out various dishes in it. In most cases, we've been able to replicate the taste of the non-air fryer version of the dish and are overall, quite satisfied with the purchase. These cutlets are something that I've never tried before buying the air fryer and so, I do not have anything to compare it with. However, the air fryer version turned out nicely browned and crisp and tasted really good. It is kid approved as well and quite a few were polished off by the kid, despite the fact that she doesn't usually like poha.

What you need:
Rice flakes/poha/aval - 1 cup
Gram flour/Besan - 1/3 cup
Green chilli - 2, minced
Ginger - a small piece, julienned
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Curd - as required
Coriander - 1 tbsp, chopped fine
Groundnuts - 1/4 cup, coarsely ground

Take the rice flakes in a fine mesh colander and run cold water over it. Leave this aside to drain. I used thin poha, which only needed to be washed. If you use thick poha you may need to soak it for a few minutes and then drain it.
In a pan, dry roast the gram flour over a low flame until it turns aromatic.
Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add curd, a teaspoon at a time and mix, until you have a stiff dough. Make small balls out of this dough and flatten them using your hands to shape. I used a round cookie cutter to get even cutlets.
Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for  5 minutes. Brush some oil over the cutlets and place them in a single layer in the air fryer. Fry for five minutes, then turn them over, brush some more oil and fry for another five minutes. Remove from the air fryer when they are brown and crisp. Timing may vary depending on your appliance. Do keep watch afterthe eight minute mark.
Serve hot with ketchup or chutney.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM
This also goes to  Valli's Kid’s Delight event, guest hosted by PJ themed on Quick / Innovative Breakfast


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Vegetable semiya upma

As a child, upma was one of the dishes that I hated the most. It is only when I started cooking that I realized that the reason upma makes an appearance at most breakfast tables is that it is one of the easiest things to cook. Chances of messing it up are minimal, though not completely impossible. Adding a bunch of colorful vegetables makes it look appealing, in addition to making it a healthy way to start your day.
The problem with vermicelli upma is that as it cools, it tends to clump together, making it unappealing. To make it appealing to kids and adults alike, what I do is cook it in lots of boiling water, drain it and then run some cold water over it to stop it from cooking further and to make sure that the strands of vermicelli stay separate without clumping together.

What you need:
Vermicelli - 1 cup
Onion - 1 small, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, minced
Ginger - a small piece, julienned
Curry leaves - a few
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Mixed vegetables, chopped very fine - 1/2 cup (I used capsicum, green beans, frozen peas, frozen corn and carrots. You can add or subtract to this list, as per your taste)
Salt - to taste

Heat 5 cups of water in a large saucepan. Add the vermicelli to it and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes until the vermicelli is cooked. Drain on to a colander and run cold water over the vermicelli. Drain out all excess water completely. Set aside.
Heat a spoon of oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and urad. When the seeds pop, add chopped chillies, ginger and curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds and then add chopped onions and saute till translucent. Lower the flame, add in the remaining vegetables, just enough salt for the vegetables and cover and cook for a few minutes. The vegetables should still retain their crunch. Add in the cooked vermicelli, some more salt for the vermicelli and mix well. Garnish with chopped spring onion greens or chopped coriander.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM
This also goes to  Valli's Kid’s Delight event, guest hosted by PJ themed on Quick / Innovative Breakfast