Kollu Cutlet (Sprouted Horse Gram Patties)

kollu-cutlet3

I made these cutlets just to finish off a big bag of sprouted horse gram. Sprouts are a regular feature in our pantry and I add them to many side dishes and parathas other than making salads out of them. Now, the kids were getting bored of eating salads and they didn’t want to see these in any other form (and I managed to camouflage 🙂 ). So, here it is, sprouted horse gram patties, or tikkis or cutlets, or whatever you like to call it.

Ingredients

Kollu (sprouted horse gram) – 1 ½ cup

Bread crumbs – about ½ cup (for binding; I use whole wheat bread)

Cornflour – 2 tablespoons

Onion – 1 small (finely chopped)

Red capsicum – ¼ cup (finely chopped; just for the burst of colour)

Ginger – ½ inch piece (finely minced)

Green chillies – 1 (finely minced) optional

Salt – to taste

Garam masala – ¼ teaspoon

Coriander leaves – a few (finely chopped)

Semolina/Quick cooking oats – to coat the patties (I used a bit of both)

Procedure

Coarsely blend the sprouted horse gram in a blender or mixer. Mix it with all the other ingredients except oats/semolina in a bowl. Shape them into roundels and flatten them in your palms. Coat them in oats/semolina. If you feel there isn’t enough moisture in the roundels for it to hold the oats, dip it in a mixture of maida and water, and then roll them over in the mixture of oats and semolina. Shallow fry in a pan/tawa. Serve hot with tomato sauce.

Notes

  • Ginger can be replaced with garlic
  • Bread crumbs are used just for binding; you can even use roasted gram flour (besan) or any other flour
  • Semolina/oats can be replaced with breadcrumbs or cornflakes to give a crunchy texture. Since I had already used bread crumbs, I wanted to give a variation by coating with oats/semolina
  • As the grains are sprouted, there is no need to cook them. In fact, sprouting makes the grain more easily digestible. If you have the sprouted grain ready, the dish gets done very fast.  Just coarse blend and get started with your tikkis. Imagine! I have started packing these for kids’ snack box in the morning rush. For me, it is one more option which can be done quickly and both I and kids are happy. Yayy!

Know Your Ingredient

Horse gram can be called the miracle legume because for its various health benefits. It is widely cultivated in India and is known as Kollu in Tamil. Regular consumption of this legume has been found to reduce insulin resistance. It is found to be a very good source of protein. It is also rich in iron and calcium. This legume is also high in fiber and low in calories making it the ideal choice for people on a diet. It is used extensively in ancient Indian medicine because of its astringent and diuretic properties.

How to make sprouts:

Wash and soak the horse gram in water for about 8 hours. Drain the water, tie it up in a clean muslin cloth, and hang this cloth bag in a cool, well lit place for another 8 hours. The gram would have sprouted by now.

You can store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or freeze it for up to a month.

Sprouted Horse Gram

Type Legume
Form Sprouted
How to buy Watch closely for bugs and holes, and avoid packets with a powdery residue. Once bought, they can be stored in their own packing inside an airtight container (to avoid moisture) and they will stay fresh for months together.
Storage If kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it will stay fresh for a week -10 days.
Usage Put it back in the refrigerator after taking the desired quantity of sprouts.

 

Horse gram tends to have many impurities. Before washing it, look for and remove any small stones. To be on the safer side, wash it twice or more before using. Even the sprouts are best washed before using.

 

Have a look at this for more info on horse gram

http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/lifestyle/food/the-benefits-of-horse-gram/

Baked Nipattu (Masala Crackers)

baked-nipattu3Nipattu or thattai is one of the favourites in my family. This time around, I wanted to bake these instead of deep frying because I now have an oven (yep, a new addition in my home J) and wanted to try out various goodies. I stumbled upon smitha kallurayaa’s bakery style nipattu when I was browsing for recipes. The recipe is really interesting and as always, I tweaked it a bit to keep myself and my kiddos happy.

Ingredients

Maida – 1 cup

Multi grain flour – 1 cup

Ghee – 4 tablespoons

Onions – 1 medium (finely chopped)

Green chillies – 1 small (finely chopped)

Roasted, crushed peanuts – just a few

White sesame seeds – 2 teaspoons

Baking soda – ¼ teaspoon

Coriander leaves – ½ cup (chopped)

Sugar – 2 teaspoons

Salt – 1 teaspoon

Procedure

baked-nipattu2

Bring together maida, multigrain flour and ghee in a bowl. Rub the ghee into the flours till you get a sandy texture. Add the other ingredients to this and mix well. Add around a quarter cup of warm water to make a stiff dough. Rest the dough for around 20 minutes. Knead the dough again to incorporate extra moisture from the greens and onions. Make small rounds out of the dough and pat them into flat, thin discs. Bake the discs (a few at a time) on a well-greased baking tray for 15 – 20 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Allow them to cool and enjoy the crispy crackers. These can be stored for more than a week.

Know Your Ingredient

multi-grains

When I go shopping, I always look for products with multi grain, whole grain ingredients. Multi grain / whole grain – what’s the difference? Whole grain, as the name suggests, includes the whole (bran, germ and endosperm) of a grain. Multi grain means more than one grain is used in making the product.

Multi grain foods are high in complex carbohydrates and protein. They break down at a slower rate and hence provide energy for a longer time. Products labelled multi grain may include various grains which may or may not be whole. And they may be processed, which will not provide the health benefits that we are looking for in multi grain products. Hence, the idea is to look for whole grains as ingredients in multi grain products.

In reality, Indian consumers do not have much choice in these kinds of products. Therefore, I prefer to make multi grain flour myself, which I use for making rotis and parathas.

Let’s see how I do it. I make a list of ingredients which go into my multi grain flour… the list goes like this…

Whole wheat – 5 kilograms

Soya beans – 500 grams

Ragi – 100 grams

Barley – 100 grams

Jowar – 100 grams

Chick peas – 100 grams

Oats – 200 grams

Bajra – 100 grams

This is my personal list which I take to my grocer for shopping. This list is made keeping in mind that I make rotis most of the time and my kids do not like a change in colour or texture of the rotis at any point in time. I add more of soya beans because it does not change the texture or colour of the flour, while also being rich in protein (. Other ingredients can be increased or decreased as per individual tastes and preferences.

I dry the whole grains in the hot sun for a day after ensuring they are clean. Our Indian weather conditions are very much suitable for drying grains. I put the grains to dry on a clean cloth on the terrace, and cover them with another clean cloth. This is to make sure that the grains don’t catch any dust, and also to keep them away from birds. Once the grains are dry and crisp, I take them to a nearby flour mill to grind.

In subsequent posts, I will add details of how to select, buy and store each of these individual grains. Stay tuned!

 

Braided Bread with Coconut and Dry Fruit Stuffing

After weeks of planning and researching, I am finally the proud owner of a new oven (microwave, grill and convection). Earlier I used to bake using my old pressure cooker. While pressure cooker baking is great for cakes, the browning required for breads could not be achieved. So I had been waiting for this oven to try out breads among other yummies. The first bread had to be something interesting and I zeroed in on this braided bread. I wanted to make it even more interesting by adding a sweet stuffing using coconuts and dry fruits. Read on to find out how it turned out.

braided bread baked

For the bread:

All purpose flour – 2 cups

Wheat flour – ½ cup

Active dry yeast – 1 teaspoon

Sugar – 1 teaspoon (and 1 teaspoon for proofing)

Salt – 1 teaspoon

Milk – ¼ cup

Oil – ¼ cup

Warm water – as required to make smooth dough

 

For the filling:

Coconut – 1 cup (scraped)

Jaggery – ¾ cup

Dry fruits and nuts to add crunch and texture

I used toasted almonds, cashew nuts and a few cherries (the ones which are soaked in syrup and packed)

 

Add coconut and jaggery to a vessel and heat in medium flame till the jaggery melts and mixes with the coconut and gets a sticky texture. Switch off the flame, transfer the contents to a bowl and add dried fruits and toasted nuts of your choice. Your filling is ready.

For the bread, mix one teaspoon sugar to luke warm water and mix well. Add the yeast to this mixture, mix well and keep aside till it turns frothy (15 minutes approx). Mix the flour, sugar, salt. Add the activated yeast, milk, oil and mix well. Add warm water if required and knead for 10 – 15 minutes. Cover with cling wrap and keep aside for 1 to 1.5 hours (till it doubles). Once the dough is doubled, place it on a work surface. Punch it to release air and knead for 5 minutes.

To make the braided shape, take the dough, make a ball and roll it into a rectangle. Arrange the stuffing in the centre and make cuts as shown in the picture.

Fold the top and proceed by folding the cuts on either side onto the stuffing alternately to make a braid. Fold the bottom and seal it. Brush liberally with oil. Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees celsius, and Bake the bread at 170 degree celsius for 12-15 minutes.

braided bread-cut angle

Know Your Ingredient

Coconut is the mature fruit of the cocos nucifera palm. One of the most indispensable ingredients in South Asian recipes, it is a complete food, rich in calories, vitamins and minerals. A medium sized nut contains up to 400 g of edible ‘meat’.

Coconut is an immediate source of energy with fewer calories than other fats.  It is rich in lauric acid which helps in increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels in the blood. It also has micro nutrients like magnesium and selenium, which help maintain strong bones. It is also rich in fibre which helps control blood sugar and cholesterol. It is an excellent source of copper, iron, manganese, calcium, zinc, and potassium and also B-complex vitamins.

Type Fruit
Form Fresh
How to Buy Shake and see if it has good quantity of water.

Look for darker brown ones; this indicates that they are mature.

Check the eyes of the coconut; if they are moist or look mouldy, the coconut is spoilt, don’t buy.

 

Storage Store unopened ones in a cool, dry place. Once opened, it stays good in a refrigerator for up to a week.

 

Barley Risotto

Barley Risotto

I tend to think of risotto as the Italian cousin to our very own pulav. The arborio rice used in risotto is a starchy variety which, when cooked, gives a beautiful creamy texture to the dish. When we think of an ingredient to replace arborio rice in risotto, nothing comes close to barley. This recipe helps barley to cook into a nice sticky texture, which in turn helps get the perfect risotto.

I was introduced to barley by my physician who explained its various benefits and asked me to take it. I started consuming the water boiled with barley and later moved on to using the grains as a salad. Recently, one day, I suddenly had this brainwave, and thought, “why not make barley risotto using the OnePotOneShot method?”. So I did, and voila!, what a brilliant dish it turned out to be!1468542726428

Ingredients

Barley – 1 cup

Sweet corn kernels – ¼ cup

Basil – ½ cup (chopped)

Garlic – 2 to 5 pods (minced)

Water – 4 cups or more

Oregano – for seasoning

Olive oil – 1 tablespoon or more

Butter – 1 teaspoon

Cheese – ½ cup (grated)

Salt – to taste

Crushed almonds and chilli flakes – to garnish

In a pressure cooker, brush the bottom with butter and olive oil. Layer sweet corn, garlic and basil over the greased bottom. Top it with washed barley grains and water. Add salt. Drop the cheese into the cooker. Shut the cooker, put the valve on and cook it on high for 3 whistles.  Expect to be amazed when you open the cooker. You should be looking at the perfectly cooked, gooey, creamy risotto cooked in one shot. Garnish with whatever you like. And, don’t forget to enjoy!

Variations

Add veggies of your choice

Add flavourings of your choice

1468552684655

Know Your Ingredient

I cannot brag enough about the health benefits of barley. It is nothing short of a so-called super food.

Barley is a versatile cereal with a nutty flavour. It is rich in fibre and a good source of various nutrients like manganese, selenium, copper, phosphorous, magnesium, niacin and vitamin B1.

Barley helps control constipation and lower cholesterol. It also lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. It also prevents gallstones because of its high insoluble fibre.

I always make it a point to include barley grains in my mix for multi grain roti flour (yep, I grind the flour at home… that’s a topic for another post). Barley flour can be added to any bread or cake flour to get an interesting, sweet, nutty flavour to these baked goodies. The grains can also be added to soups and salads to give a rich texture. Go ahead; improve your health by including barley in your diet.

Type Grain
Form Whole
How to Buy Make sure the grains are free of moisture and are stored well
Storage Store in a cool, dry place. If you live in a warm, humid area, you can refrigerate it.

 

For more info on barley:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295268.php

http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/health-benefits-of-barley

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=127

 

One Pot One Shot

OPOS (One Pot One Shot) is a cooking technique invented by Ramakrishnan, aka Ramki. It is the simplest cooking technique on earth. It uses just One Pot and all the cooking is done in One Shot. As simple as that! No steps, sequences or supervision is required.

Most OPOS recipes use a pressure cooker and the ingredients are cooked directly without an inner vessel unless specified. Cooking is timed to perfection, based on either a timer or the number of whistles released by the pressure cooker.The ingredients are arranged in a layer,ensuring caramelisation of the bottom layer (for example: onions). Most of the vegetables are cooked with minimum oil and water, at high heat to retain maximum flavour, color and perfect texture.

OPOS is healthy because it lets you cook with minimum fat and use less spices. It enhances flavours to such an extent that if you use the normal quantity of, for example, chillies, you will end up with a very spicy dish.

OPOS is really fast. Since it uses flash cooking (cooking at high heat for a short duration with minimum or no water). It just takes a few minutes from the time of assembling the ingredients in the cooker, to the ready dish on your plate.

OPOS recipes are just a list of ingredients followed by a very brief cooking method. Learn one, and you have learnt them all. Here are the steps you’d follow for all OPOS recipes:
Step 1: Pressure cook.
Step 2: Blend all.
Step 3: Mix all.

OPOS unchains you from the stove, making cooking drudgery-free, and empowers anyone, even a novice, to cook confidently.

My Experience with OPOS

When I came to know about the OPOS method initially,it took me almost 3-4 months to understand what it was all about. I slowly started trying recipes. Honestly, my initial thought was ‘it’s just for beginners’. The first few recipes I tried were sure tasty but it didn’t have the same taste as my traditional recipes. I felt something is missing and I’m sure a lot of people felt the same when they were first introduced to the technique. Slowly, I gained confidence with each recipe I tried. I felt the taste is getting better with each trial. But in reality, it’s your confidence that gets better along with the taste. Because

You know how to mix flavours and get the best (read ‘what your family expects’) out of it.

You get the confidence to try your own recipe, the OPOS way.

You get the confidence to camouflage not-so-interesting veggies into interesting dishes.

You get the confidence to cook for a crowd at very short notice.

And all of this confidence shows in your cooking… It shows in the dishes you cook… I’m sure you too will find it a blissful experience with OPOS cooking, just like me.

 

Chilli Jam

jam pic by vidya

I made this Chilli Jam when I had an urge to try something new, something different. I first saw the recipe in a food channel, and then I googled for more information. It’s a wonderful jam and can be put into a whole lot of recipes. Add it to your toast, your jam cookies, as an accompaniment to your Indian breads or to sautéed vegetables to give it a nice, interesting twist.

IMG_20160318_152717

I cooked this jam in a pressure cooker. Yes! You heard it right! I pressure cooked it to get the perfect set jam. Thanks to Ramakrishnan for introducing me to this technique. His simple, OneShotOnePot (OPOS) recipes can be found at http://ramkicooks.blogspot.in/.  Earlier, I tried the open pot method and found the pressure cooker to be fast and efficient.  If you wish to, you can adapt the recipe and cook on an open pot. It just takes more time and effort. More on this below the recipe.

Ingredients

  • Red Capsicum – 1 (roasted and peeled)
  • Chilli – 2 (cut into small chunks and deseeded); I used dry red chilli
  • Sugar – 1 ½ cup
  • Apple cider vinegar – 1/4 cup
  • Apple – ½ (grated with skin)*

* Any jam or jelly requires pectin to set into that nice, perfect consistency. You can add commercially available pectin to help your jam to set. Pectin is not easily available around my place, so I chose apples (with skin). Other fruits that are rich in pectin include pear, guava, plum, gooseberry, orange, and other citrus fruits.

Method

Apply oil to a whole red capsicum and roast it in the oven or stove flame. I did the latter. It took approximately 15 minutes on a low flame. Remember to turn it around. Once roasted, remove, cool a bit and peel the skin. Cut chillies into small chunks. Blend capsicum and chillies in a blender. Place this mixture, along with sugar, apple cider vinegar and grated apple, directly inside the pressure cooker (do not use a vessel), and pressure cook on high for three whistles. Allow the pressure to come down, release the valve and check for consistency*. Immediately transfer the mixture to another container and cool it. You can store it in an airtight glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.

*How to know the perfect consistency

IMG_20160318_152659

When you do it in an open pot, you wouldn’t exactly know when to stop cooking. Hence, freeze a plate or two before you start cooking the jam. Once the sugar dissolves, the mixture will start boiling vigorously. Using a ladle, scoop and pour the mixture into a frozen plate. If it sticks to the spoon as a lump and falls slowly, you know that the jam is getting ready. Remember to switch off the flame while you do this checking process. If it forms a thin film and wrinkles to touch, your jam is good to go.

Last but not the least; I wanted my jam to look like it is store bought. So, I did my best to bring the looks together. I chose red capsicum and wanted the skin removed so as to get the perfect consistency. When you try this yourself, you can of course choose the colour of capsicum to use. You can also decide on whether you want to remove skin. That is purely your choice.

Know Your Ingredientsjam ing

Chilli

Red chilli (both dry and fresh) is high in nutrition. It contains a substance called ‘capsaicin’ which gives it the characteristic pungency. Capsaicin is considered an effective treatment for sensory nerve fibre disorders including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy.

Some chillies like cayenne also help improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and in clearing mucus during a bad flu attack.

Chillies (red and green) are also rich sources of vitamin C. The bright coloured red chillies have beta-carotene and pro vitamin A, which helps in improving immunity in the system in the long run. Hence, making it a regular part of your diet might actually benefit you. So, go ahead and have your chilli; enjoy the spice and the health too!

Type Vegetable
Form Fresh
How to Buy Go for the taut, smooth ones which are firmly attached to the stems
Storage Gently pull out the stem (do not use a knife) such that the entire stem comes off; store in an airtight container or a plastic cover in the refrigerator; stays good up to a month

 

Paan Shot

paan shot

I was wondering about what to do with all the left over vethalai (betel leaves) after the festival season. Then, I remembered having paan shot as a post-meal complementary drink in a few restaurants. I thought of giving it a shot… yes, a shot, literally and figuratively! So I did, and what a hit it was!

I have tried this a few times since, and it’s been a winner all through…. I was initially sceptical about giving betel leaves to kids, but I googled and read about the benefits of betel leaves, and guess what? It’s not all that bad. I have discussed this in ‘Know Your Ingredients’ section. Of course, our previous generation always vouches for its medicinal properties, so here’s something that can please the young and old alike.

I hope you would try this easy-peasy recipe and enjoy the healthy drink.

Method

Betel leaves – 7-10 numbers

Gulkhand* – 2 teaspoons

Saunf – 1 teaspoon

Milk – 100 ml

*Gulkhand can be replaced with honey or sugar

Procedure

Tear the leaves into pieces, add other ingredients and blend till you get a smooth paste. If necessary, add extra milk and strain. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Know Your Ingredient

Paan (Betel leaves)

Betel leaf is well known for its medicinal properties. It contains vitamins such as Vitamin C, Thiamine, Niacin, Riboflavin and Carotene. It is also a good source of Calcium.

The juice of the leaf is used as a cure for the common cold/cough. It is even used for treating indigestion and colic pain in infants. Mixing the juice of betel leaves with warm water and gargling relieves sore throat.

Type Herb
Form Fresh
How to Buy Select the moderately tender leaves for maximum benefit. The fully mature leaves might be low on medicinal properties.
Storage Wash the leaves, dry them with a soft cloth and refrigerate in zip lock bags. They can be stored for a week.

 

Ragi Pancakes

Hi! I’m back with a kid-friendly recipe.

Breakfast is always trouble around here with the kids. They don’t like idli, pongal,or any of the other regular breakfast items in a typical South Indian menu. I would always be in a fix when I wake up without having planned for the day’s first meal. So, when I thought I will try something new from the dosa variety, I discovered Ragi Pancakes. And! Here is a secret! Because of the colour, my little one calls this choco pancake… and hence, I consider myself to be the winner in this breakfast war, having given them a healthy, yet tasty dish.

I tweaked the basic eggless pancake recipe and added jaggery as a healthy alternative for sugar… and here comes the recipe.

Ingredients

Ragi flour – 1/2 cup

Wheat flour -1/4 cup

Milk – as needed

Jaggerysyrup (jaggery, dissolved in water) – 1/2 cup (increase if you or your brats have a sweet tooth)

Baking soda – a pinch

Cardamom (powdered) – a pinch (can be substituted with flavourings of your choice)

Method

Add jaggerysyrup, milk and flavouring of your choice to ragi and wheat flour and make a thick batter of pouring consistency. Add a pinch of baking soda and give it a gentle mix. Pour the mixture on to a hot pan and let it take the shape of a circle (no need to spread the batter). Add a little butter if you are in for indulgence, or a bit of your favourite fat will do. Once cooked, flip the pancake to cook theother side. The pancakes turn to a nice deep brown and give a chocolaty effect.

I’ve added home-made whipped cream to make it more interesting.

 pancake with cream

Know Your Ingredient

Ragi (nachni, kezhvaragu, bhakri)

ragi

Ragi is a finger millet, which is high in protein and minerals (in comparison to all other cereals and millets). Being a good source of protein, it is perfect for vegetarians.

Ragi has high amounts of calcium and potassium. It is a great source of iron, making it beneficial for people with low haemoglobin levels. Low in fat and gluten free, ragi is easy to digest. It is therefore given as first food to babies in the form of ragi porridge.

Ragi possesses anti-diabetic, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.

Ragi and its flour

ragi with flour

Type Millet
Form Powdered
How to Buy If you are planning to buy whole Ragi, check if the packet is free from stones, dust and other impurities; If you buy whole millets, check for impurities
Process Remove impurities and clean with water and dry in sunlight for a day or till it gets completely dried.Make a fine powder by grinding it in a mixer or a mill.
How to cook Ragi flour can be cooked as porridge by adding it to water. Follow the procedure as in any porridge recipe.

Samosa

Hello people! That was one long break, I know! This time it was due to technical reasons that I couldn’t blog. When it (never mind; that was just a non-functioning keyboard, which I couldn’t get serviced) cropped up, I was happy to leave the blog behind and say goodbye to it. But, one fine day I started missing this little space I’m so proud of. Due to constant encouragement and support from my dear sis, I thought I should come back to it… So, here I am with one of my favourite recipes.
For a long time, I’ve been craving to make samosas just like the store-bought ones. Crispy on the outer edges and lip-smacking savoury on the inside… and, they stay that way even the next day!

image

So when I heard this recipe a few months back from a friend, I just couldn’t wait to try it. So I did, and whoa! What results! Since then, I’ve made these marvels a dozen times at least, and every time, people have come up and asked me where I bought them. Well they didn’t a couple of times because of some mistake I made, but hey, that’s what this blog post is all about, so you can avoid the same pitfalls I made, and dish out some great, drool-worthy, compliment-fetching samosas!

Creative_Cravings_Samosa

For the dough:

All purpose flour (maida) – 1 cup
Rice flour – less than 1/2 cup
Fine semolina (rava) – 1 tablespoon (for extra crispness)
Oil – steaming hot – 1 tablespoon
Ajwain – 2 teaspoons
Salt – to taste

For the filling:

Potatoes – 2 big (boiled and peeled)
Onions – 1
Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
Garam masala – 1/2 teaspoon
Red chilli powder – 1/2 teaspoon (or as per taste)
Salt – to taste
Coriander leaves – for garnish

For seasoning:

Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Oil – 2 teaspoons for seasoning (and more for deep frying)

Procedure:

Bring together maida, rice flour, semolina, ajwain and salt. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan, and add it, steaming hot, to the mixture. Mix well with a ladle. Remember, the mixture will be very hot at this stage. Let it cool for a while and then mix with your hands. At one point, you will start feeling crumbs of flour between your fingers. Now, add enough water and make it into a smooth dough. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Dough

Now for the filling. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard and cumin seeds. Add onions and fry till soft. Add boiled, peeled and cubed potatoes along with turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt. Lightly smash the potatoes with the back of a ladle to blend with the other ingredients. Add garam masala and cook on low flame for about 5 minutes for the mixture to incorporate the flavours. Garnish with coriander leaves. Switch off and let it cool completely.

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Filling

To make the samosas:

Step 1

Roll the dough into a circle / oval shape of medium thickness.

Step 2

Cut into two halves. You will have two semi-circles now.

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Step-2

Step 3

Take a semi-circle and shape it into a cone.

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Step-3

Step 4

Fill the cone with the prepared stuffing.

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Step-4

Step 5

Fold one side of the open ended cone.

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Step-5

Step 6

Fold the other side so that the edges meet.

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Step-6

Step 7

Press firmly to close.

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Step-7

 

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Step-7

Ensure that the oil is hot and drop two at a time (max) and fry till golden brown. Crisp, hot samosas are ready!

Know Your Ingredients:

Most of us know potatoes aren’t as unhealthy as they are portrayed to be. It is only the fat that we add that makes the dish sinful, just as I have done with the samosas. We can enjoy the nutritional benefits of potatoes when we consume them boiled, steamed or cooked with other vegetables without adding excess fat.

Potatoes are a rich source of potassium and vitamin B6. Potassium helps in regulating blood pressure, while B6 helps in breaking down protein and in keeping blood sugar levels under the normal range.

Type : Vegetable
How to buy : It is better to select individual pieces than to buy packaged potatoes. Look for firm potatoes and avoid the ones with a greenish tinge.
How to store : Potatoes need not be, or rather should not be, refrigerated. Refrigeration would cause the starch in the potato to convert to sugar, resulting in a sweet taste and discolouration when cooked. Keep them in a cool, dry and shady place and they will stay good for more than a month.

Bloopers:

On a cheerful day, you try a new recipe which you think looks simple and easy. But for some reason it turns out be a blunder. Yes! I have been there and done exactly that. Not once, but many times. I’m sure people out there shout out “that’s the way you learn”. I do agree. Here, I present a few of my bloopers to help you through your bad cooking days. Some are serious. Some are merely funny. Come along and enjoy!

Samosa Bloopers:

Blooper 1: I forgot to add ‘steaming’ hot oil to the flour.
After trying the samosa half a dozen times, I was over confident (sigh!) about my final outcome. I missed out adding hot oil to the flour and realized it soon after frying the first batch. The samosas were soggy and soaked in oil. Here is the evidence.

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Blooper

Blooper 2: A few ‘imperfect’ trials before I got the perfect ‘standing’ samosa.

Creative_Cravings_Samosa_Blooper

Corn Cheese Balls

corn cheese balls2When the kids go shopping with dad, I can always expect a surprise (/shock)… Sure enough, during one of their outings to the mall, they came back with a pack of ready-to-mix cheese balls. For once, that was a pleasant surprise. We were all eager to try it (thinking of the crisp-outside-gooey-inside cheese balls in Italian restaurants!). With lots of expectation, I rolled the powder mix into balls, coated them with bread crumbs and deep fried in hot oil. To our BIG disappointment, the cheese balls failed to impress us except for their looks. The texture and taste were not what we expected at all. Even the kids gave a bored look the moment they had a bite. So I had to promise them that I will make real yum cheese balls very soon. I googled it, and found a recipe that was simple enough to follow, but it seemed to include white sauce. To reduce the chance of one more disaster (shock!), I tweaked the recipe to my preference and taste, and, what do you think? It was a SUPER DUPER hit!!!!! So here goes the recipe….

Ingredients

Sweet corn kernels – 2 cups

Cheese – 1 cup (grated)

Corn flour – ¾ cup

Green chilli – 1 (finely chopped)

Coriander – few sprigs (finely chopped)

Garlic – 2 pods

Oregano – to taste

Salt – to taste

Oil – for deep frying

Bread – 2 slices (to make crumbs for coating)*

ingredients corn cheese collage

Cook the corn in a pressure cooker or microwave oven by adding a pinch of sugar. You can skip the sugar if you want to, but I’ve found that it really brings out the sweetness (and therefore, the flavour) of the sweet corn. Separate the corn kernels and run them in the mixer/blender just for a second or two. Ensure that it doesn’t get mashed. Take the blended corn kernels in a bowl and add the other ingredients. You can add more corn flour depending on the moisture content. Mix well and shape them into small balls.

Make a thin paste of corn flour and water. Coat these balls with this mixture and roll it over the bread crumbs*. Repeat process for all the balls. At this stage, you can choose to store the balls in the freezer (for up to a day or two) before deep frying. Even otherwise, refrigerating the balls for a minimum of half an hour would make the crumbs stick nicely and give a beautiful golden brown colour to the balls.

corn cheese ball ingre collage

Heat oil in a pan and drop them a few at a time. Do not disturb them for a while till they start browning. Then turn them around till they get an even browning. And lo, you have absolutely crispy, yummy cheese balls that kids will really drool over and ask for more (mine did, at least)!

corn cheese balls

* you can make bread crumbs by freezing a couple of slices and running it in the mixer for a few minutes. Hygienic and fresh bread crumbs are ready to use in any recipe of your choice. 

Know Your Ingredient

sweet corn

Sweet corn is a whole grain variety which is used as a vegetable. Apart from being undoubtedly rich in fiber, it is also rich in carotenoids like Lutein and zeaxanthin. However unspellable these words can be, they can make you read better. Yes! They help in improving eye health and also have loads of other benefits like improving cardiovascular health. Recent studies are showing that consuming more of sweet corn might help in improving memory and also in cancer prevention. So, go ahead and include sweet corn in your meal and also make kids happy.

Type

Whole grain

Form

Fresh (used as a vegetable)

How to Buy

Look for a bright, green husk with pale to deep gold silk (corn hair). Always go for ones with plump kernels.

Storage

It is best to use sweet corn as fresh as possible. If you store them for longer periods, the sugar gets converted into starch and they lose their sweetness. At best, store them in a Ziploc cover along with the husk in the refrigerator for not more than 4 to 5 days.

How to cook

You can choose to boil, grill or microwave sweet corns. Remove the husk and silk covering the kernels. Break the cob in half and immerse in water for cooking. Cooking doesn’t take more than 3 – 5 minutes. The fresher the corn, the lesser time it takes to cook. Once the corn is cooked, keep it immersed in water till cool. This avoids the kernels from getting dried.

How to separate the kernels

Take out one whole row (line) of kernels with the help of a sharp edged spoon. The other rows of kernels can be easily separated by slightly bending and turning due to the space made available by the empty row.

I always buy corn on the cob and cook it on microwave for 5 minutes on high. Adding a pinch of sugar while cooking helps to bring out the sweetness of the corn.