Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vaazhai Ilai

I know, it's quite some time now since my last post. Had been busy again :-( In the meantime, I got some photos uploaded and with it, wanted to share some memories with you. This time, when we were in India, during our stay with my in-laws, one fine day almost everyone in the family was present at home. My mom-in-law found it to be a perfect day, for which she had been planning for quite some time. She and her assistant were busy bustling in the kitchen right from the morning. I was busy with packing stuff and kept wondering what they were up to. In a short time, what awaited us on the lunch table took me by surprise. Yeah, it was a full pleasant surprise indeed!! We had a feast arranged for us in a plantain leaf!! I was full with glee :-))

Plantain leaves are a typical tradition of South Indian cuisine. In olden days, food prepared was usually served in a cut, cleaned plantain leaf. A typical lunch would consist of a few rounds of short servings of rice, each accompanied with an array of curries. Eating from the leaf somehow adds a flavour and aroma to the dish. Nowadays, plantain leaves are mainly found in dinners during weddings or other festivals. Even in recent times, they are substituted with use and throw plates. Nevertheless some families still stick to the plantain leaf tradition. In Hindu customs, position of the various curries on the leaf is also significant.

Be it the aromatic Biriyani in an Islamic wedding or the beautiful array of vegetarian curries in a Hindu wedding, I just love feasting on a plantain leaf. My mother-in-law shares this liking too and so, she made this treat for us exclusively!!

The various curries you can see here are (clockwise): Mango pickle, Cabbage-Carrot poriyal, Keerai (Spinach Daal), Paavaikai theeyal (Bittergourd), Aviyal (a medley of various veggies like drumstick, brinjal, beans, plantain, etc.), Banana, Pappad, Rice with daal curry and Rajma kootu.

My first round was with dhaal and ghee over rice. Second round was with sambhar. The third with morkulambu (yoghurt gravy) and the final one with rasam :-) Yet there was Payasam too... No no no... Kannu poda koodadhu... :-D

I was so reminded about this on seeing the uploaded photos, that I craved for something like that. Though I'm not able to make everything like her, I just prepared a spicy garlic curry. We enjoyed having it along with beans poriyal. Since, a beans poriyal is relatively simpler to make, I'm just providing the recipe for the poondu kulambu below.

Preparation Time: 30 mins
Serves - 4
Onions – 2 medium sized
Garlic - 10 to 12 pods, preferably large sized
Tomatoes - 2
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Tamarind juice - extracted out of a lemon sized ball
To sauté:
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Green chilies - 2 or 3

Chop the onions and tomatoes and keep aside. Slit the green chillies lengthwise. Soak tamarind in warm water and extract about one cup of juice out of the it.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add mustard seeds and when they splutter, add urad dal, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves.
Add the chopped onions and green chillies and saute until onions turn transparent. Now add the tomatoes and saute again. When tomatoes are cooked, mash them slightly. Now add the turmeric, coriander powder and chilli powder, salt and let them cook. Take care the spices dont get burnt. When the raw smell goes off and spices are cooked, add the garlic pods along with the tamarind juice. Now, keep in simmer and cover with a lid. Let the gravy cook for a few minutes in simmer until it gets thick. The garlic when cooked would be soft and it takes in all the tangy spiciness of the gravy. It would taste excellent. Enjoy this spicy poondu kuzhambu with freshly steamed white rice.

The ingredietns and the measurements given below are of my judgement. Please adjust to your palate accordingly. I'm sending this as an entry to the A.W.E.D Indian Cuisine, guest hosted by Taste of Pearl City. Though I'm late by a day, I sincerely hope she accepts :-))

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Orange Walnuts Loaf Cake

It is quite a while since I ever baked anything and I felt like baking this weekend. When I was writing my previous post, I realized that today is the last date for the Tried and Tasted Event for Aipi's US Masala. Ooops.. time really runs very fast, at least faster than me!! Sigh sigh... I had bookmarked a lot many recipes from her blog, but didn't really try out everything. So, I decided to bake something from her blog. But what?? As I browsed through, wowww - the gorgeous Orange Olive Loaf Cake just made the pupils of my eyes widen... this is it!!

I bought some oranges from the Kleinmarkthalle. I was thinking of what to substitute for the egg. Once I had tried a loaf cake with silken Tofu and it was quite a success. Silken Tofu gives the cake a moist, heavy and soft texture. Anyways, I decided to experiment again with it. With lots of hope and the other ingredients ready, I just started mixing up the dry ingredients. Suddenly, we remembered we were planning to attend an event today and we just could not postpone it. So, I got ready and we went out. I was quite saddened that my baking prospect had to be abandoned.

Somehow, we managed to return early in the evening :-) Though very tired, I happily continued with my baking. The result is what you see here. The sun didn't wait for me and it has set. So, I could only photograph it under our electric lamp.

The original recipe can be found here. The following are the changes I made:

  • Instead of the 1 egg in the recipe, I used 1/4 cup of silken Tofu. I whisked it along with the sugar.
  • I added a handful of chopped walnuts - something crunchy in the soft cake. It turned out to be a great idea.
  • I had no corn starch in hand. So, used 1/4 cup more all purpose flour.

Do I need to say how it tasted?? Even while baking, the kitchen was filled with a warm orange aroma and I just couldn't wait for the cake to get baked and then cool down. When I tasted the first piece, it just melted in my mouth. It was so soft and very light indeed. I mean, it was not as heavy as I imagined. My husband easily made three pieces vanish at once. The softness along with the walnuts was heavenly. The Tofu has proved to be a reliable winner once again. You see, it is just a pleasure, to see your efforts yield good results.

Heartfelt thanks to Aipi for the wonderful recipe. I'm sending this to Priya's Tried and Tasted for Feb, 2011, owned by Lakshmi of Kitchen Chronicles and originally started by Zlamushka.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Paneer Tawa Masala

Last week was quite sunny and I had hopes of Spring, but in vain. This week, it is winter again and gloomy :-( One evening,  as I was returning home from work, I was scratching my head about what to prepare for dinner. It has to be easy, yet tasty. Something hot and spicy would be very welcome. Suddenly, bulb glows!! On reaching home, I directly hit my laptop and browsed. Yes, I had everything for the dish ready and get set go!!!

Since I had a pack of Paneer sitting in my fridge, my first thought went to Aipi of US Masala, as I remember seeing some interesting recipes in her site made with Paneer. The original recipe can be found here.

It was hot, spicy and tangy and a relish to the taste buds. The addition of Pav Bhaji masala has been the key, I guess. I used concentrated tomato paste, it provided the necessary tangyness and so, I cut out on the lemon juice. My husband brought home some oriental Parathas and it proved to be the perfect combo with them.

I hope, you too try this dish and enjoy the distinct flavours melt in your mouth. :-) I'm sending this as an entry to Tried and Tasted Event hosted by Priya of Mharo Rajasthan, owned by Lakshmi of Kitchen Chronicles, originally started by Zlamushka.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Muffins over the window!!

Wondering what the title of the post means?? Just read through...

It was in the Spring of 2009 that we shifted to this apartment. Thank God, till this day, we are quite content with our apartment. Our little flat is cozy, bright and just enough for the two of us. Above evreything, I love it for the serenity of the locality and the green sorroundings.

In front of the building, the carparking space is studded with trees and they are the ones which add beauty to the apartment, keep the air fresh and in summer lend the much needed coolness. Living on the second floor, we used to enjoy the greenery through our windows. In autumn, the bright colours would be vibrant. In winter, though the trees had shed their leaves long ago, some fruits would still be hanging on to the branches. On snow fall, a little shot of snow would be deposited above each of these fruits which gives it a muffin(with frosting) like appearance. Yeah... do you get the meaning of the title now?? I used to observe this on every snow fall and my heart rejoices at the sight of it. Unfortunately, not all good things last forever, I guess.

Last week, suddenly they put on a notice that they have planned to fell the trees. I have no idea, what the house administration tries to achieve by felling these harmless trees. There is no information about that. On talking to one of our neighbours, we got to know the following: we cannot do antything about this now. But, in Germany, there is a rule that, for every tree that is cut, must a tree be planted. Sounds good, eh? Yes. Here, you can plant any tree as you wish. But, if you plan to cut it down, you must first get permission from the state, promising that you would plant another tree somewhere sometime. So, our neighbour added that, the admin has planned to get some thinner trees sometime during autumn this year.

Two days back, they started work when I was leaving for work. It took the workers hardly ten minutes for cutting one tree into pieces. Their main work is to collect the woods in a wagon and clear the place. When I returned home, it appeared as if nothing has happened and there is a vast emptiness now.

This brings back a childhood memory to me. Once when we were living as tenants in a small town, the houseowners had a cow. She was called Laxmi and I used to play with her, feed her grass and straw. She was also fond of me. One day, they had sold her away and I cried the whole night. I could relate it to this situation. Though I've grown up now and I don't cry, I somehow feel sad for those trees.The smell of raw wood is still lingering... I hope and pray that they really plant some trees as soon as possible and bring back the greenery to our apartment. Just wanted to write in their memory :-)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Peas Broccoli Soup

The past two weeks had been quite hectic. I got a change of project and so, had loads of work at office. Weekends went busy too. Things are getting normal this week and I'm hoping for some relaxation. So, last week, I could spend only little time in the kitchen and didn't get to try anything industrious.

One evening, after a tiring day of work, I made this wonderful soup, thanks to Taste of Pearl City. It was easy to make and very relishing. It had the mild aroma of mint and the goodness of the green vegetables, combined with the flavour of garlic and pepper.

The original recipe can be found here. I followed it almost exactly, but with the following changes:
- I used just one potato, so the soup was light and apt for the evening hour.
- I had only a small amount of peas, so I replaced the rest with about 5 to 6 Broccoli florets. Adding broccoli gave the soup an extra kick and taste.
- I topped the soup with some crispy Croutons and pine nuts.

The soup was itself creamy, but those who would like more richness can add a spoon of cream on top. Along with garlic Baguette and Italian herbs Baguette, we just felt like it was one of the perfect dinner menus. :-)
I'm sending this post as an entry to US Masala's Bookmarked Recipes Event.

It's Award Time!!

Yipppeee.... I have been pampered with awards again... :-) Recently, Priya of Now Serving has given me the following two awards.

Awards are a means of appreciation and recognition. Thanks a lot Priya for your kindness and thoughtfulness. It's a great honour. 


Slowly, my blog is growing and along with it a kind of commitment too... I hope to come up with more interesting posts in the future, just praying time could permit!! :-) 

I pass on these awards to all my dear followers and readers, for their wonderful comments and support. Kindly accept this token of love from me :-)