Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sindhi curry

What is it that makes people spit out of their vehicle windows, while waiting for the traffic light to turn green? Is there some kind of saliva reflex that kicks in as soon as they see a red light? People traveling by bus are the worst....they have no concern for the poor bike rider who may be waiting at an unlucky spot just outside their window. Trains are no better...if you happen to sit near an open window, and the breeze is blowing in your direction, there's no telling what you might be coated with by the time you get off the train. Today, I saw a person spit out paan no less than three times while waiting at a signal. If that statement made you go Ewwwww....I don't blame you. Why is it that our people who can't stop exclaiming how clean Singapore is, seem to develop 'dog-sees-tree-and-lifts-its leg' instincts as soon as they see a bare wall? Will things ever change?
I have a little notebook at home where I jot down recipes from TV shows, library books and any other thing that catches my fancy. This curry is from that little notebook and there's a little note on it to tell me that it is from a TV show. It is called Sindhi curry....though I have no idea if it is of Sindhi origin. It is probably like "Indian" curry powder that is sold abroad. However, it is extremely simple to make and tastes quite good. It is quite healthy too, considering that only a tsp of oil is used, and lots of veggies go into it.

What you need:
Ladies finger - 6-8, chopped into longish pieces
Carrot - 2, diced
Potato - 1, peeled and diced
Tamarind - a lemon sized amount soaked in warm water
Oil - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds/jeera - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida/hing - 1/4 tsp
Besan/gram flour - 4 heaped tsp
Water - 3-4 cups
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Green chilli - 1
Ginger - a fairly large piece, peeled and cut fine
Curry leaves - a few
Red chilli powder - as required

Cook carrot and potatoes and keep aside. Cook ladies finger in thick tamarind extract until soft.
Heat a tsp of oil. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds sputter, add the besan, reduce the heat and stir fry until it starts turning brown and gives out a good smell. Slowly add water, stirring all the while so that no lumps are formed. If you do see lumps, break them by pressing against the side of the pan using your ladle. Add the green chilli, ginger, curry leaves, turmeric powder and salt and let this boil for 3-4 minutes. If needed, add some red chilli powder. Add the cooked vegetables and let it boil until the curry thickens.
I had this for lunch with rotis and then again for dinner, with wheat rava idli.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The softest and best cake ever

This cake has the record of making it in the shortest time from kitchen to blog. Seriously, I just made it, clicked some pics and ate a slice a few minutes back.
The little one is staying home today because of a fever and that means, I have to endlessly search for means to keep her entertained. A cake seemed like a good idea...she was involved in measuring out the ingredients and stirring them for me. And then, while it baked, she stood guard next to the microwave, telling me every few minutes that it was ready.
The original recipe is from here. I tweaked it a little to use up some of the stuff that's been in my fridge for a while.
As far as ingredients go, I had all the stuff on hand. So, some dates and candied fruit were soaked in hot milk and then ground. An egg that threatened to hatch into a chick if I didn't use it up soon went into the mixture. A dash of cinnamon, some oil, sugar and maida later, into the oven the cake went. What came out is the softest, darkest, and undoubtedly the best cake I've ever made.

What you need:
Maida/All purpose flour - 1 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Milk - 3/4 cup
Dates+candied fruit - 1/2 cup
Oil - 1/2 cup
Egg -1
Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp
Cashew nut - a few

Soak the dates and candied fruit in hot milk for 30-40 minutes. Grind to a smooth paste along with sugar and the egg. Transfer this to a mixing bowl. Add oil. Stir well. Mix in the flour, little by little, stirring well. Add cinnamon....inhale its heady smell.....throw in some cashews....mix well.
Transfer this to a greased microwave safe cake pan. I used a loaf pan, as I wanted to cut these into tea cakes. Bake in convection mode at 175 degree celsius for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

This goes to Valli's MEC which is being hosted by PJ MEC-Favourites and to Valli's 365 days of microwave cooking.

Edited to add : People who ate this cake liked it texture, but felt that it should have been sweeter. The original recipe calls for 3/4 cups of sugar, while I used only 1/2 cup. I like my cakes to be slightly less sweet....but if you want yours sweet, please do use more sugar.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend fun and the winner of the giveaway

Nope....not so fast. First, you have to listen to me talk about what a great weekend I had.
We've been planning a vacation for the longest time ever, but every time, something or the other comes up and we end up not traveling anywhere. This week, we planned NOTHING. We woke up on Saturday, and on a whim, decided to call a resort at Pondicherry and see if they had any rooms. Luckily for us, they had exactly one room left and that's it....we packed and left. After a drive of about 2.5 hours, we reached Zest, Big Beach, Puducherry (the politically correct name of Pondicherry). A welcome drink was served while we languished in the huge and comfortable papasan chairs in the lobby. Check-in was quick and efficient and before we knew it, we were in our room.

The room was classy and comfortable, and what I liked best, is that, each room seemed to be was set amidst trees and shrubs and it was almost as if we were in the wilderness. The door opened out to a small patio with two chairs and a table made out of a coconut tree stump. Sitting on the patio, we could hear the waves.

Lunch was served buffet style....and it truly was a BIG and delicious spread. After a short rest, we headed out to the pool in the evening. They have a small kiddie pool which is only 2 ft deep, and the little one had a gala time, splashing around and playing ball in that part of the pool. The water saga continued as we walked to the beach from the pool. The beach is very clean and not too crowded. There were lots of little crabs on the sand, and the little girl and the dad ran around chasing the crabs.
Saturday night was DJ night and there was lots of good music and dancing. Dinner was again a really good buffet. We were out like a light almost as soon as we got back to the room and lay down. The next morning started with a breakfast buffet (it does seem like we spent a lot of time eating, doesn't it?) and then, after the LG got a temporary tattoo done, we were off to the beach again. I really, really wanted to get a tattoo, but there were so many people waiting in line, I just decided not to, and we headed off to the beach again.

The resort has lots of activities for those who are interested. They have sessions on sand sculpture making, pottery, indoor and outdoor games, a kiddie play area, pool games, paintball, dance classes, yoga classes and a library.
If you are headed out to Pondy and are looking for a good place to stay in, I would highly recommend Zest Big Beach. It is a great place to relax and rejuvenate during the weekend, and the prices, when compared to some of the resorts here in Chennai, are reasonable.
Now that we've got that out of the are probably eager to know who the winner of the $60 CSN gift certificate is....

It is....

drum rolls please....

Sukanya Ramkumar
Congratulations, Sukanya....I have sent you an e-mail.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Watermelon shake

This is a very, very easy to make dessert/snack. Kids are sure to love this....and so will the kid in you.
There's no real recipe as such....but I just thought I'd post this here because every time I have made this, the little girl has finished it off without me having to ask her to a zillion times in an increasingly louder and frustrated voice. Her friends too love this and usually ask for second helpings.
Without further ado, here's how you make it.

Grate watermelon....remove the seeds. Chill this until it is almost frozen, but not yet solid. Add Milkmaid (or any brand of sweetened condensed milk). If you have a shaker, transfer this to the shaker and shake well until mixed. If not, just stir it really well with a spoon and serve topped with some watermelon slices and a dollop of condensed milk.

Despite having made this several times, I haven't managed to click a pic of this, as it disappears almost as soon as it is ready. Next time, maybe I'll make it when she's at school and then update this post with a pic.

I am sending this to Valli who is hosting Colouring your kids' delight.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A giveaway as my blog turns four

Yesterday(June 30), my blog turned four. It is not everyday that you get an opportunity to show people how thankful you are for the comments that they leave and the encouragement that they give. So, when CSN stores contacted me and asked me if I would like to host a giveaway to celebrate my blog's birthday, I jumped at the opportunity.

CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from cookware to cribs to specific needs such as dining room sets and toddler beds.

So, what is it that you win by participating in this giveaway? You get a $60 gift certificate that you can use at any of the CSN stores online, including which has products that any food blogger would love to have.

All that you have to do to take part in the giveaway is:
Leave a comment on this post with your email id.
Tell me one thing that you like about this blog and
one thing that you'd like to see changed.
That's it.....simple, isn't it???
So, go ahead....leave me a comment and win that $60 gift certificate.The giveaway is open until July 12th. One lucky winner will be chosen by a random draw. Since CSN only ships to the US & Canada, the giveaway is restricted to these two countries.