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.

 

Nachos (Indian Style)

nachos titleI just got back from a looooong (summer) break. The kids were at home and the days were completely occupied by god only knows what we did.  Getting back and settling into a routine feels nice. It’s made me feel relaxed. The relaxation has resulted in yet another Indo-Mexican fusion. The Nachos – Indian style!

When the idea to do something with nachos struck, I wanted to combat the blandness of tortilla (flat bread made with corn), which is used as the base. The solution is a spicy masala roti instead of the regular tortilla, to be used as the base. Added to that, a cheesy sauce with some interesting toppings and voila! What better way to have a yummy, healthy snack than nachos with whole wheat?

There are three things to be take care of:

  1. The base (tortillas or rotis) of your choice
  2. The cheesy sauce (you can choose to add basil, minced garlic, oregano or some Italian seasoning preserved from the previous pizza order)
  3. The toppings (my favourite here is tomatoes, of course you can choose to add olives or pickled jalapeños)

For the base (I used):

Whole wheat flour – 2 cups

Onions – 1 small (finely chopped)

Chilli powder – a pinch

Coriander leaves – to taste

Salt – to taste

Water – to make dough

Combine the above ingredients and make a stiff dough. Roll them into thin rotis. Cook each roti both sides on a skillet / tawa till it gets golden brown spots.

nachos collage



The next step is to make the rotis crispy, just right for nachos. For that, you can bake them in an oven. But I had to add my twist here – microwave and make them crispy! Cut the cooked rotis into triangles. Arrange them on a microwave safe plate. Microwave on high for 2 minutes by turning them over once in between.

Note: Just ensure that the triangles are spread evenly and don’t overlap each other. You can accommodate the cut pieces of two medium-sized rotis in one plate. Allow the pieces to cool down, and then they are ready to be assembled into yummy nachos!

nachos collage 1

For the sauce (I used):

Garlic – minced (1 pod)

Cheese – 50 grams, grated

Milk – just a few teaspoons

Oregano – as required

Slightly heat the milk, cheese mixture till the cheese melts. I microwaved it for 30 seconds on medium heat. Add minced garlic and sprinkle oregano on top and keep aside.

For the toppings:

I just used tomatoes

You can opt to choose between tinned olives, jalapenos or capsicum, onions or whatever you fancy. Just go wild with your imagination!

Arrange the crispy masala roti chips on a plate. Pour the cheese sauce and drop the toppings randomly on top. Microwave for 30 seconds on high and your steaming homemade nachos are ready.

Even the normal roti would just work fine for making nachos. Crisp them (as described above) and they are ready to get converted into a yummy snack. That’s sure a great way to use up left over rotis. It is definitely a great starter / snack option.

 nachos title1

Know Your Ingredient

Say Cheese! Coz we are discussing about cheese here. Cheese is basically a compact, preservable form of milk. Milk is supposedly 80% water. When the water from milk is separated and the remaining solid is compressed, we get cheese. Simple, no?

 cottage cheeseHomemade cottage cheese

The cheese most commonly made in Indian homes is cottage cheese or paneer. This kind of cheese is made by adding either lemon juice or vinegar to boiling milk. The milk curdles and the solids are separated from whey by using a cheese cloth. The solid is then hung for about an hour to drain. It is then compressed by placing under a heavy object for several hours.

Paneer is a family favourite in our home. So I make it once a week and stock it. Sometimes I prefer not to compress it and use it for dishes such as paneer, veg curry or paneer paratha where crumbled paneer is used.

The other most common variety in India is the processed cheese which comes in blocks or slices. Apart from this, you get cheese spreads in a host of flavours. I prefer to use mozzarella for most of my recipes because of the gooey texture it gives to the dishes. I just add my own flavourings to make it pleasing for the kids. The kids too prefer it that way. J

The gouda cheese, which is a Dutch variety, is slightly yellowish in colour and goes well with fruits and wine. Slowly, I can see a lot of cheese varieties entering the supermarkets. Since there are numerous varieties of cheese, here I am just introducing the most common ones available in India.

Any kind of cheese is rich in protein and calcium, apart from the various other nutritional benefits it offers. It is best to make cheese part of kids’ diet plan. It really helps to meet the recommended daily doses of protein and calcium. Especially when kids are fussy about drinking milk, make sure their lunch box contains cheese.

Soft cheeses have high moisture while hard cheeses have less, thus making them less perishable.

 

Type Diary product
Form Compressed
How to Buy Look for the date of manufacture. Fresher it is, the better.
Storage I choose to freeze the homemade cottage cheese for a few weeks to several months, and thaw it before using.For store bought cheese, its best to follow the instructions on the pack. Do have a look at this link before planning to store your cheese. http://www.wikihow.com/Store-Cheese-Successfully-at-Home
Usage If served as an accompaniment to any other food, all cheeses have to be served at room temperature. For cooking purposes, use as required and carefully store the rest.

 

For more detailed information on cheese, visit this page http://www.gardemanger.com/cheese.html which I found to be very informative.

Have a Cheesy day!

 

Thank you!

It’s been raining awards and, needless to say, I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

I was in for a surprise when I got not one but two nominations from Aneela of theoddpantry. Thank you Aneela!

I stumbled upon Aneela’s blog quite recently and was pleasantly surprised to see so much useful information in her beautiful space. Do check it out for yourself.

I was also nominated for the Sunshine award by Deepa of deelightfullyveg and Rose from NishKitchen. So, there is reason for me to celebrate. Hurray! And thank you, Deepa and Rose!!!

I now get to display these proudly on my blog….

Creative_Cravings-Sunshine_Award

 

Creative_Cravings-Wordpress_Family_Award

Going on to the question, answer session…. Here we go…

1. Why did you start blogging?

When I wanted to keep track of all the dishes that I try out, I chose the blogosphere to be my perfect partner.

2. Sweet or savory?

My taste buds always take the savoury route but now I like to try out new sweet dishes. One piece at a time 😉

3. If you were to go on any reality TV programme, what would it be and why?

I am very much interested in music. I have been taking training in Carnatic classical from a young age and have often dreamt about taking the stage some day. Being the shy person that I am, I know it will just stay in my dreams. Definitely, reality shows are not for me.

4. What was the last thing you Googled?

Blog awards. Sorry, till I got these nominations, I did not have an idea about what they were. Once again, I want to thank Aneela for letting me know about it.

5. Night out or night in?

Night out with my family.

6. What has been your favourite blog post to write?

It’s definitely on its way. I am very new to the blog world and am yet to get a hold on things over here. Hope to do my best.

7. What is the one thing you never leave home without?

It has to be my wallet and mobile. But there have been times that I have forgotten those too!

8. Where would you most like to travel to?

To Switzerland, for the love of chocolates and mountains.

9. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

To be able to do whatever I want. I know what you are thinking; there is no need for a superpower to do just that. But then, with this kind of thing, the mind becomes the super power. Doesn’t it?

10. What can we expect to find on your blog in the future?
I got started on this space thinking about more than just recipes…. but I’m trying to settle down and bring a kind of routine. For now, it is more and more interesting recipes.
So my nominations for sunshine awards (in no particular order) are:

Sangeetapal @ Vegetarian’s Delight

Ana @ ana’srecipes

Shari @ myfancypantry

Harini @ Itsabusylife

Rekha @ foodoliciouspictured

 

And for the WordPress family award, I would like to nominate:

Gemma @ Expatfamily

Anthony @ Cooking with Tony

Shrutii @ Cooking Diary by Shruti

 

Jaangri

Jaangri 1

Jaangri in South India, or Imarti, as it is called in North India, is a famous delicacy which is prepared around Diwali. It is made by soaking dehusked black gram (thus making it high in protein).

Ingredients

Black gram (urad dal / ulundhu) whole, dehusked – 200 grams

Sugar – 200 grams

Salt – a pinch

Water – Just to immerse sugar

Colour – Orange (or as desired)

Essence – Rose (or as desired)

Oil – for deep frying

Soak gram for about 2 hours. Grind it using a little water to make a smooth, fluffy dough. Add colour and a pinch of salt, and keep aside.

Combine sugar and water, and boil till you get a one-thread consistency. This means that you will have to keep checking the syrup’s stickiness. Check the back of the ladle used to stir the sugar syrup with your fingers now and then. Basically ‘pinch’ the syrup at the back of the ladle between your thumb and index finger, and pull these two fingers apart. You will know that you have the one-thread consistency when the syrup starts to form a thin thread between your fingers. This is the traditional method followed for generations to check the consistency of syrup (an important ingredient to make sure our yummy delicacies are perfect in taste and texture). Once you get the correct thread consistency, turn off the stove and add half a teaspoon of lemon juice to the syrup (to avoid crystallization). Add a pinch of colour and essence.

Take a ziplock/milk pouch, make a small hole the size of a peppercorn with the help of a needle. Fill up to half the pouch with batter, and your jaangris are ready to be fried.

Heat oil in a wok/ broad pan. When small bubbles start to form, squeeze a ring shape into the oil from the batter-filled pouch. Don’t mind the shapes if they don’t turn out well. Even a random set of rings would be as yum as the elaborate, well-formed ones. Keep the flame medium-low while frying and remove the jaangris once they are slightly crisp on both sides. Note that they will not change in colour. Once removed from oil, dunk them into already prepared warm syrup for 2-3 minutes and set on a greased plate. Repeat for the rest of the batter.

The jaangris mostly take 2-3 hours to soak in the sugar juices before they are ready to be attacked.

Jaangri 2

The three check points to get perfect jaangris are:

– Size of the hole: If it is too big, your jaangris won’t absorb enough sugar to make them sweet. If it is too small, the texture is spoilt and the jaangri will be too brittle. So remember to make a hole just the size of a peppercorn.

– Temperature of the oil: The oil should just start to bubble before you squeeze in the jaangri. Try to maintain this medium heat throughout the frying process. Too much heat will make the jaangri drastically puff up in size (like a vada!). Needless to say, this will spoil the texture of the beautiful jaangri.

– Temperature of the syrup: Once fried, the jaangris must be directly transferred from the oil to the warm syrup. Basically, both the jaangri and the sugar syrup have to be warm. If the syrup cools down, make sure to just warm it for a couple of minutes on a low flame before dunking the jaangris into it.

Know Your Ingredient

ulundhu 2
Black gram/urad dal as it is called in India has many health benefits. It is rich in iron, protein, calcium, potassium, B vitamins and fibre. It is also easier on the tummy than most other legumes, making it the most popular ingredient in South Indian breakfast recipes. Yes! Idli, dosa, vadai, oothappam all have urad dal as the main ingredient!

Type Legume
Form Whole, Dehusked (Bean)
How to Buy Make sure the bean is free from debris, stone and dust. If you notice a powdery substance inside the packet, the bean might be bug infested. Of course, check for the expiry date.
Storage Always store in an airtight container in a cool and dry place. Refrigerate or rather freeze the legume to increase the shelf life drastically.
Usage Soak overnight, if you want it to be mushy in your dishes (as in dal). If you are grinding for batter, it is best to soak only for 2 hours. Grind using a little ice cold water to get soft, fluffy dough, which is best for most Indian dishes.

Green Peas Crispies (Microwave)

photo 1

Sunday and snacking don’t go together for me. I’m talking just about the preparing part and not the eating of course. So when it comes to Sundays and snacks, I have got to make it in advance. So this recipe comes in handy.

I was inspired by Jenna of Delicious Daydreamers. She had posted the roasted chick pea and we had even discussed if it could be done on a microwave. So last Saturday I tried it using the microwave and it turned out super crisp! The lazy me, I reserved it for Sunday snacking without the hassle of even going into the kitchen. Not that it is difficult to do it on a Sunday, but having something healthy to snack without entering the kitchen is surely tempting.

Ingredients:

Whole dry peas – 100 grams

Oil – 2 teaspoons

Salt – as per taste

Seasoning/spices (you may experiment widely with this)

I used:

Chilli powder – ½ teaspoon

Turmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon

Cumin or Jeera powder – ¼ teaspoon

Coriander powder – ¼ teaspoon

photo 2

Soak the peas in water for 8-10 hours. Drain the water and dry it on a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Spread it on a plate and microwave on high for about 2 minutes. Take it out and add oil, salt and the various spices and microwave on high till it is crisp. You might have to wait until it cools down to check if it has turned crispy. If you feel it is not as crispy as you want, microwave for a few seconds more for it to reach the perfectness that you expect. It took 8.5 minutes in my microwave with 100% power (i.e. 900 watts).  Adjust the timing according to your microwave, but be careful, since even 1 minute more than necessary in the microwave could turn your beautiful roasted peas into burnt ones. So it is always better to set a shorter time in the microwave, check the crispness of the peas, and then put them back if they are not done.

Crisp and healthy snack is ready to serve.

Know Your Ingredient

Dried whole peas is the fully mature, dried form of fresh peas. This legume, like others, is very rich in soluble fibre and hence helps lower cholesterol. Dried peas are the perfect substitute when fresh peas are not available.

Type Legume
Form Dried
How to Buy Pre-packed dry peas are available in stores. Check for impurities and bugs before buying.
Storage Always store in an airtight container in a cool and dry place. Refrigerate or rather freeze them to increase the shelf life drastically.
Usage Soak them for 8 -10 hours before cooking. If you don’t have that much time, soak it in hot water for 2 -3 hours.