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.

 

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