Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mushroom and Carrot Biryani

We love mushrooms and S even likes to eat them raw. So I decided to make mushroom biryani today for lunch. An easy and yummy dish which we enjoyed with raitha. I'm sending this to Arundhuti  who is hosting her first event, 'Served with Love'.Do check her blog out. She has some pretty amazing recipes......

1&1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice
1 pack of sliced mushrooms(remove the stalks)
4 green chillies, slit
1/2 onion ,sliced
1 tomato(optional)
1 medium carrot, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 green cardamom
5 cloves
1&1/2 inch cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
10-15 cashews
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp kala jeera/ black cumin seeds
1&1/2 tsps ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp chilli pwd
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
2 tsps garam masala pwd
1&1/2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

  •  Wash and soak basmati rice for 1/2 hour.
  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker and when hot, add the fennel and black cumin seeds. Let splutter, add the cardamom, cloves, bayleaf, cinammon, star anise and when they start giving a nice aroma add the cashews and fry for 1 min.
  • Add green chillies and onion and saute till the onion turns golden brown.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and saute for a min. Add the chopped tomato and let cook till oil separates.
  • Add the carrots, mushrooms, mint leaves, salt, chilli pwd, tumeric pwd, garam masala pwd and cook till oil separates and the water dries.
  • Add 2 and 1/4 cups boiling water and adjust seasoning.
  • Add rice, mix well and close the lid. Add cook for one whistle. Switch off and let stay for about 5-8 mins.
  • Open lid and add  lemon juice , garnish with mint leaves and serve with onion slices and raitha.
  • Enjoy!!!

Friday, December 25, 2009


Ginger bread houses....when ever I saw them on TV or displayed at stores I was awestruck.......and when Anna & Y announced that we will be making ginger bread houses for decembers challenge I was very excited and very scared at the same time. I tried Y's recipe , the dough it self was okay but after I baked them they shrunk but could be fixed easily.....guess I over mixed the dough.... My house fell (courtesy of my 20 month old...he wanted to grab every thing)before I could take any pictures and also I wanted to decorate after i took pictures ...big mistake......'m sharing some pics here......will definetly try it again  later...

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
Anna: The recipe I tested is from Good Housekeeping - I chose it because it was simple and required only ingredients I personally always have in my kitchen. Plus, it was so funky I HAD to try it, and luckily that worked out. I made my house around Halloween and decided to take advantage of the spooky goodies I could only get at that time of year.

Y: I tested a Scandinavian recipe from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book. I chose a Beatrice Ojakangas' recipe because I love her book, and usually have great success with her recipes. I was also attracted to the ingredients she had in her gingerbread. If you're using this recipe, please be aware that in general, gingerbread for houses are usually designed less for taste and more for it's ability to be sturdy and long lasting. My house is titled, "Steve the StormTrooper comes home for the Christmas holidays".

Anna's Notes: If you don't have an awful lot of time, the doughs can easily be frozen and then thawed when you are ready to roll it. The baked pieces can also be tightly wrapped in plastic and frozen for assembly later.
Y's Notes: I found this slideshow very helpful: http://www.bonappetit.com/tipstools/slideshows/2008/12/gingerbread_house...
I didn't make the simple syrup, because I couldn't be bothered, but it's included as an added option for other people to try. Instead of using the syrup as glue, I just used the royal icing above. My house is quite small, so it held well together very easily, until the royal icing dried. The amount of royal icing you will end up needing will of course depend on whether you use it purely for decoration, or also as the 'glue' for the house.
Variations: You are welcome to use either recipe we tested, depending on your taste or what is available where you are.
Obviously, you are also allowed to use any sort of candy or sugar decorations you wish. You can even make your own candy to decorate the house! You may give your house any theme you'd like - you don't have to stick to the traditional Christmas house. We are providing a rough template but feel free to find or make your own (there are a lot of great books out there with tons of fun blueprints and ideas). Some books you may want to check out:
Gingerbread: Things to Make and Bake by Teresa Layman http://www.amazon.com/Gingerbread-Things-Make-Teresa-Layman/dp/081093367...
How to Build a Gingerbread House: A Step-by-Step Guide to Sweet Results by Christina Banner http://www.amazon.com/Build-Gingerbread-House-Step-Step/dp/0981580610/re...
Gingerbread Houses by Christa Currie http://www.amazon.com/Gingerbread-Houses-Christa-Currie/dp/0385472676/re...
The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes and Blueprints for Twelve Classic American Homes by Susan Matheson and Lauren Chattman http://www.amazon.com/Gingerbread-Architect-Recipes-Blueprints-American/...
Gingerbread Houses: Baking and Building Memories by Nonnie Cargas http://www.amazon.com/Gingerbread-Houses-Baking-Building-Memories/dp/087...
Your house can be as big or as small as you'd like, but it MUST meet these requirements:
1. Everything needs to be edible - no glue or inner non-food supports allowed.
2. You must bake the gingerbread yourself, whichever recipe you choose. No graham cracker houses please!
3. You must use some sort of template. If you don't use ours, take a picture or link to what you do use in your final post. It doesn't have to be super technical - Anna didn't even measure hers, she just cut out shapes from parchment and made sure the edges matched up.

4. Your house must be able to stand on its own. If you want to go adding balconies with candy stick buttresses or whatever go right ahead, but the main house itself must be free-standing.
We feel that by having these simple ground rules in place but giving you the freedom to run with the challenge otherwise, anyone with a few hours of free time this month can tackle this. And if you have a bigger chunk of time, you can REALLY tackle it.
Preparation Time for Anna's Recipe: 10 minutes to mix the dough, 4-8 hours at least to chill it, then 5 minutes to roll, 10 to rest, and 10 to cut. Another 30 minutes to rest, if necessary. 25-30 minutes to bake, depending on the size of the pieces. I would estimate 2-4 hours to decorate, depending on how ornate you want to make everything. It could certainly take longer if you are doing a lot of intricate royal icing designs or making your own candies. Altogether, this will take 7-13 hours, including chilling time. But, as noted above, you can break this up over several days or even a couple weeks if the freezer is utilized.

Preparation Time for Y's Recipe: 5-10 minutes to mix the dough, 2 hours to chill, 5 minutes to roll, 10 to cut and 15 minutes to bake. Estimated 4-7 hours from start to finish including chilling.
Equipment Needed:
Stand or handheld electric mixer (not required but it will make mixing the dough a lot easier and faster)
Plastic wrap
Rolling pin
Parchment paper
Baking sheets
Cardboard cake board or sheet of thick cardboard
Foil, if desired
Small saucepan
Small pastry brush (optional)
Piping bag with small round tip, or paper cornets if you're comfortable with them
Anna's Recipe:
Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping) http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipefinder/spicy-gingerbread-dough-157...
2 1/2 cups (500g) packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (360mL) heavy cream or whipping cream
1 1/4 cups (425g) molasses
9 1/2 cups (1663g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon(s) baking soda
1 tablespoon(s) ground ginger
1. In very large bowl, with wire whisk (or with an electric mixer), beat brown sugar, cream, and molasses until sugar lumps dissolve and mixture is smooth. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and ginger. With spoon, stir flour mixture into cream mixture in 3 additions until dough is too stiff to stir, then knead with hands until flour is incorporated and dough is smooth.
2. Divide dough into 4 equal portions; flatten each into a disk to speed chilling. Wrap each disk well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll.
3. Grease and flour large cookie sheets (17-inch by 14-inch/43x36cm)
4. Roll out dough, 1 disk at a time on each cookie sheet to about 3/16-inch thickness. (Placing 3/16-inch dowels or rulers on either side of dough to use as a guide will help roll dough to uniform thickness.)
5. Trim excess dough from cookie sheet; wrap and reserve in refrigerator. Chill rolled dough on cookie sheet in refrigerator or freezer at least 10 minutes or until firm enough to cut easily.
6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (149C)
7. Use chilled rolled dough, floured poster board patterns, and sharp paring knife to cut all house pieces on cookie sheet, making sure to leave at least 1 1/4 inches between pieces because dough will expand slightly during baking. Wrap and reserve trimmings in refrigerator. Combine and use trimmings as necessary to complete house and other decorative pieces. Cut and bake large pieces and small pieces separately.
8. Chill for 10 minutes before baking if the dough seems really soft after you cut it. This will discourage too much spreading/warping of the shapes you cut.
9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not overbake; pieces will be too crisp to trim to proper size.
10. Remove cookie sheet from oven. While house pieces are still warm, place poster-board patterns on top and use them as guides to trim shapes to match if necessary. Cool pieces completely before attempting to assemble the house.

Y's Recipe:
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas http://astore.amazon.com/thedarkit-20/detail/0816634963
1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]
1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.
3. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.
4. [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]
5. Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
Royal Icing:
1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren't using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.
Simple Syrup:
2 cups (400g) sugar
Place in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and the sugar dissolves. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Strawberry Cake

I made this simple cake for our friends P and A 's anniversary(Happy Anniversary P & A). Hope u enjoy  it.....
This is my first cake after a 5 yr sabbatical from cake decorating.




Strawberries and leaves are made out of gumpaste.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Carrot and Zucchini rice

S has office lunches every tuesday and thursday . I would have skipped cooking on those days if were only me. But gotta cook for M. So I decided to make carrot-zucchini rice for lunch(again did not want to wash  dishes...yeah I know 'm lazy ).

 1 cup uncooked rice
  • Wash and cook rice with  tsp of  oil and keep aside.
 1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 tsp aavalu/mustard seeds
1/2 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
2 tsps minappappu/urad dal
1 tsp pacchi senagapappu/chana dal
2 cloves of garlic(crushed)
6-8 curry leaves
2 dried red chillies, torn
4 menthulu/fenugreek seeds
1/2 onion finely chopped
3 green chillies, slit
1/2 tsp garam masala pwd
1 tsp red chilly pwd
1/2 tsp jeera/cumin pwd
1/2 tsp dhaniya/corriander pwd
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
6-8 cahews(optional)
Salt to taste

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadai and when hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and when they splutter, add the dried red chillies, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, urad dal, chana dal and fry till the dals give out a nice aroma.
  • Add the crushed garlic , cahews and saute for a min. Add the green chillies and onion and cook till the onion turns translucent.
  • Add the shredded carrot and cook for a min. Add the shredded zucchini and cook for another min and add salt, tumeric pwd, red chilly pwd, cumin, corriander and  garam masala pwds.
  • After adding salt, zucchini will release water. Cook till the water dries up and the carrot is cooked and add the cooked rice and mix gently. Serve with raitha or just plain curd/yogurt.
  • Enjoy!!!

Ragi Idli

Ragi idli, I first saw these beauties at Shilpa's blog, Aayi's recipe and have been meaning to try them ever since but never got around to it till today. I used urad flour instead of soaking urad dal and grinding( you see 'm bit of a slacker) and also I was not sure how the two flours will be can give nice and soft idlis so added idli ravva to it. Also no soaking the dal and grinding it just mix everything together and you are done. Do try them, they are nutritious, tasty and very easy to make.

1 cup urad flour
1 cup ragi flour
1/4 cup idli ravva(wash and keep aside, there is no need to soak it)
Salt to taste
A pinch of baking soda(optional, I was not sure if they would rise so used just a pinch)
Oil/Ghee (for greasing the idli plates)

  • Add ragi flour, urad flour and washed idli ravva and water in a big bowl( the batter will rise during fermentation) and mix well with out any lumps. The consistency should be of the normal idli batter.
  • Cover and keep it in a warm place like oven overnight .
  • The batter will increase by the next morning. Add salt and baking soda if using and mix.
  • Grease the idli plates with oil or ghee.
  • Pour a ladle full of batter into each mould.
  • Pour 1&1/2 cups water in a pressure cooker and put in the filled idli stand in the water and cook on high heat for 3-5 mins or till u see steam coming.
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook without the whistle for 11-12 mins. Switch off, let stay for 5 mins.
  • Wet a spoon and scoop out the idlis from the idli plate and serve with chutney and sambar .
  • Enjoy!!!

This is my contribution to JFI-Raagi , an event hosted by Madhuram . Jhiva is a brain child of Indira .

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Karam Gavvalu

    Recipe to follow soon

    Bellam Gavvalu/Teepi Gavvalu

    Made them week ago ....recipe will follow soon

    Aloo-Palak and Anda burji/ Scrambled Eggs with Potato and Spinach

    We had this for breakfast yesterday with phulkas. I made aloo-palak stuffing for parathas but made phulkas instead. S wanted eggs with his phulkas and I just combined  aloo-palak with eggs and he loved it. He now insists that I make his eggs this way.

    1 large potato peeled and boiled till soft and mashed
    1 cup chopped washed and spinach
    1 onion finely chopped
    4 green chillies finely chopped(adjust)
    4 -5 eggs
    1 tsp garam masala
    1/2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste(optional)
    1/4 tsp jeera/cumin pwd
    1/4tsp dhaniya/corriander pwd
    1 tsp lemon juice(optional)
    1&1/2 tsp red chilly pwd
    Salt to taste
    A pinch of turmeric


    1 tsp aavalu/mustard seeds
    1 tsp jeera/cumin
    3 dried red chillies, torn
    6-8 curry leaves
    A pinch of hing(optional)

    • Heat oil in a kadai/pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add the dried red chillies, curry leaves and hing (if using).
    • Add the chopped onion and green chillies and saute till translucent. Add the ginger-garlic paste(if using) and saute till the raw smell disappears. Add the chopped spinach, tumeric and saute for about 5-7 mins.
    • Add the mashed potato, salt, red chilly pwd,garam masala, cumin and corriander pwds, mix well and saute for another 5-7 mins.
    • Add about 2 tsps of oil and mix. Beat the eggs in a container and add it to the mixture , mix well and cook till the eggs are completely cooked. Switch off, add the lemon juice(if using) and garnish with cilantro and serve.
    • Enjoy!!!

    Chicken Kheema/keema(Mince) Rice

    Kheema biryani...I always wondered how to make it. Yesterday I wanted to make one pot dish as I was in no mood to clean the a load of dishes and so made this. S and M loved it .

    1 and half cups uncooked basmati rice (wash and soak for atleast 20 mins)
    1/4 tsp kala jeera (black cumin)
    1/4 tsp fennel seeds
    Make a pouch of 2 green cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon, 4-6 cloves, 1/2 star anise
    Salt to taste
    1tsp oil

    Add salt, water, black cumin, fennel seeds, the pouch with whole masala, oil,soaked rice and cook till done.

    Minced chicken about 1 lb
    1 onion, chopped finely
    6 green chillies, slit
    2 tomatoes, finley chopped
    2 tsps red chilly pwd(adjust to taste)
    1tsp jeera ped/cumin pwd
    1tsp dhaniya pwd/ corriander pwd
    1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    1&1/2 tbsps meat masala(I used Badshah meat masala)
    1/2 tsp tumeric
    2 tbsps of cilantro
    2 tbsps of mint
    A pinch of sugar
    Salt to taste
    2-3 tbsps lemon juice
    Onion rings for garnish


    • Heat 3 tbsps oil in a wide pan and when hot, add the green chillies and onion and saute till the onion are translucent.
    • Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and saute for 2-3 mins and add tumeric, red chilly pwd, cumin pwd, corriander pwd, meat masala,sugar and saute till oil separates. 
    • Add the chicken mince and break down and mix well and saute till the chicken is cooked well. 
    • Add the cilantro and mint and switch off the stove and add the cooked rice and mix well , taking care not to break the grain. 
    • Sprinkle the lemon juice, garnish with onion rings and serve with raitha. Enjoy!!!

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Chegodilu/Chekodilu for Indian Cooking Challenge

     This month when Srivalli of spice your life chose chegodilu/chekodilu for the ICC, I was excited. Never made them but always wanted to and here's my chance. I chose the first recipe and added sesame seeds and ajwain. Also instead of soaking the moong dal, I added it to the boiling water and it was fine. Be sure to cover the dough and the forms you make with  a wet tissue or something and as the recipe mentions do use a little oil to grease your hands and roll out the dough with your palms rather than your fingers.

    Chegodilu / Chekodilu - Recipe 1

    Ingredients Needed:

    Rice Flour - 1 cup
    Water - 1 cup
    Split Yellow Moong dal / Pesara pappu / Mung Dal / Pasiparuppu - 1 1/2 - 2 tblsp
    Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
    Sesame Seeds - 1 tsp
    Chili powder - 1 tsp
    Ghee or oil - 1 tblsp
    Salt to taste
    Oil for deep frying

    Method to prepare:

    Making the dough:

    Soak moong dal in water for half hour to 1 hour.

    In a deep bottom pan, boil water, then add salt, ghee and moong dal. Bring it to boil, simmer and slowly add the rice flour. Using a rolling pin or the ladle, mix the flour with water by stirring it well. When the flour is mixed and done, turn off the heat immediately. Cover with lid and keep aside for 10 to 15 mins.

    Once the dough is cool, add chilli powder, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and mix well. Knead till you get a smooth dough. Adjust the salt and spice depending on your preference.

    Frying the Chokodi:

    Heat a pan with oil, enough to fry 3 -4 at time, if you conscious of not using too much oil. Simmer once it gets hot. The temperature should not be smoking hot.

    Grease your fingers with oil and pinch out a small lemon size ball and roll between your palms to form a thick rope. Bring the two ends to together and press to form a rope. Ensure the ends are firmed pressed as not to give out during frying.

    Continue with the rest of the dough until you are done with the entire batch. You can either cover it with a plate or a cloth to prevent the dough from getting dried.

    Check if the oil is in the correct temperature, by dropping a tiny bit into the oil. Then gently slide the rings or the chakodis in batches of 4 -5. The flame has to be on high until the chakodis come up to the surface, then lower the flame to medium and cook till you get a golden colour on the chakodis.

    When the chakodis are golden all over, using a slotted ladle, remove to a kitchen towel and cool. Store in an air tight container for longer shelf life.

    Notes: Remember to turn the heat to medium to high and high to medium for getting the chakodis to golden colour and also to be cooked evenly. Only this way you get crispy chakodis. These should not be cooked on low flame as they will absorb more oil and can turn soggy also at times.

    Variation: Instead of Cumin and Sesame seeds, 1 tsp of Ajwain or Omam can be used along with chili powder.

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Daring Bakers December Challenge, Salmon en croute!!!

    December's daring cooks challenge was Salmon en croute. I've never heard of it and was pretty intimidated till I read the recipe. Simone gave a step by step process. I made some changes to the recipe. I sauted the spinach with onion, garlic, salt and red chilly pwd. Rubbed the salmon with tandoori mix and also some salt , redchilly pwd and lemon juice. Made a sauce with cilantro, mint, green chillies, lemon juice, sour cream , yogurt, cumin and corriander pwds, salt. I also used store bought pastry sheet. I also made chicken curry pouches with leftover chicken mince curry.

     Salmon en croute:

    Mince chicken curry pouches:                                                                                                                     

    Simone's version:

    The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.
    Recipe source : Good Food online
    A few notes first:
    1.If you are making the short-crust pastry yourself; make sure not to add too much water as that will render the pastry too hard, making it impossible to roll out into the needed size. I made that mistake for the first batch and ended up using store-bought instead.
    2. If you cannot find short-crust pastry (a I did) and don’t want to make it yourself, you can substitute with puff pastry. Do not use the packages that are available (at least in the Netherlands) for pies... Not the right dough! (I did make that mistake and the taste was just not that good)
    3. The recipe does not call for adding any extra salt or other seasonings to the salmon. I found that the salmon could use just a little bit of extra flavor, so feel free to add some seasoning to your liking. Be careful not to use too much as the topping also adds flavor.

    Variations allowed: Mandatory for this challenge is to cook with pastry.!If you do not like fish or are allergic to salmon, you can substitute the salmon for the Beef version, which is Beef Wellington. Recipe below. Salmon can be substituted for another type of fish, although I am not sure which fish would do well in pastry. Vegetarian versions are also allowed. For a vegetarian version check out this recipe on my blog and leave out the chicken
    Preparation time: Total prep time incl. cooking for the Salmon is 50 minutes
    Total prep time for the Beef Wellington is 3 hours
    Shortcrust pastry : 50 minutes (optional)

    Equipment required:
    For the Salmon en croute
    rolling pin
    For the Beef Wellington
    Blender or food processor
    Frying pan
    15 cm crepe pan or small frying pan or griddle
    cling film

    Salmon en croute:
    Mascarpone or creamcheese 5.2 ounces/150 gr
    Watercress, rocket (arugula) and spinach - 0.6 cup/4.2 ounces/120 gr
    Shortcrust pastry - 17.6 ounces, 500 gr. Use a butterversion such as Jus-rol which is frozen or dorset pastry. or... make your own!
    Salmon fillet (skinless)- 17.6 ounce/500 gr
    egg - 1 medium sized

    1.Heat the oven to 200°C/390 F. Put the mascarpone or cream cheese in a food processor with the watercress, spinach and rocket and whizz the lot until you have a creamy green puree. Season well.
    2. Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet (it will hang over the edges). Put the salmon in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under. Spoon half of the watercress mixture onto the salmon. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (the join will be at the top, so trim the edge neatly), making sure you don’t have any thick lumps of pastry as these won’t cook through properly. Trim off any excess as you need to. Make 3 neat cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the off-cuts to disguise the join if you like. Brush with the egg glaze.
    3. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned. To test wether the salmon is cooked, push a sharp knife through one of the cuts into the flesh, wait for 3 seconds then test it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked. Serve with the rest of the watercress puree as a sauce.

    Shortcrust pastry
    While this is not mandatory to do, I highly recommend making your own shortcrust pastry as it is very simple to do! As mentioned in the notes; please make sure to not add too much water as that is the key to having a successful shortcrust pastry. Watch this video to check the correct consistency of the dough Making shortcrust pastry

    450 gr (15.8 ounces or 3.2 cups ) of plain all purpose flour
    200 gr ( 7 ounce) cold butter
    pinch of salt

    Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor you can use that as shown in the above video.
    Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp of water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film and chill while preparing the filling.

    For best results make sure the butter is very cold.


    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Ragi/Raagi Dosa/ Finger millet crepes

    Yesterday night I realised that I forgot to soak urad dal and rice to make dosas for todays breakfast and my son M has been pestering me to make dosas for a couple of days now, so I thought of making dosas with the urad and rice flours. But what do u know 'm all out of rice flour but found some raagi flour so I thought why not...........and am  glad I did. Do try these, you won't be dissappointed.

    2 cups raagi flour
    1 cup urad dal flour
    1/2 cup sooji/bombai ravva
    A very small pinch of fenugreek seeds pwd
    Salt to taste

    • Mix together the raagi flour, urad flour, sooji, fenugreek seeds pwd . To this add water slowly ( can add warm water if you like). Avoid any lumps.Keep in a warm place over night or 8-10 hrs.
    • After fermenting, add salt to taste and water to make it into the dosa batter consistency.
    • Heat a griddle or flat pan, take a ladle full of the batter and spread it in a circle (flame should be on low) and add / spray some oil and cook on one side till it turns golden brown, turn with a splatula cook for an other min(medium-high heat).
    • Repeat with the remaining batter. 
    • Serve with any chutney or pickle.Enjoy!!!
    Note: The flame should be on low when spreading the dosa batter and on medium-high after adding the oil.
    Mix the batter well before making each dosa.Add more water if required.

    Aanapakaya/Sorakaya/Bottle gourd/Dudhi Pacchadi/Chutney

    I had this lone half piece of aanapakaya/bottle gourd lying in the fridge for a couple of days, so I made pacchadi/ chutney for the ragi dosas I made for breakfast today. We enjoyed this chutney with dosas.

    2 cups aanapakaya/ bottle gourd (washed and cut with skin)
    1 tsp sesame seeds(optional)
    1tsp senagapappu/chana dal
    1tsp minappapu/urad dal
    1/2 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
    1 dried red chilly(optional)
    3 green chillies(adjust)
    10 peanuts(optional)
    Tamarind -a small lemon sized
    2 tbsps chopped cilantro
    2 garlic cloves
    Salt to taste

    1 tsp aavalu/mustard seeds
    1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
    2 dried red chillies torn
    4-6 curry leaves
    1/2 tsp minappapu/urad dal

    • Heat 1tbsp oil in a kadai and add the urad dal, chana dal, seasame seeds, cumin seeds, peanuts and saute till they turn golden brown (take care not to burn), let cool and grind into pwd. 
    • In the same vessel add the slit green chillies and after a minute add the chopped aanapakaya/bottle gourd pieces. Saute till they are almost cooked. 
    • Add the garlic, tamarind, cilantro and saute for another 3 mints. Switch off and keep aside to cool. 
    • Grind it along with some salt and add the pwd we made before hand. 
    • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadai and when hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and when they splutter, add the urad dal  and let it cook for 1-2  mins. Add the red chillies and curry leaves and saute for 30 secs and switch off.
    •   Add to the pacchadi/ chutney, mix well and serve with dosas, idlis or with rice. Enjoy!!!

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Mulakkaya Rasam/Mulakkada Rasam/Drumstick Rasam

    Both nanamma's(dad's mom) and ammamma's (mom's mom) backyard had drumstick trees. Mouthwatering dishes were made from the leaves and drumsticks. This is one of them, easy and tasty.

    8-9 drumstick pieces (3 inch pieces)
    Tamarind lemon sized(soak in water and take out pulp and keep aside)
    3-4 cups water
    1 tsp jeera/cumin pwd
    1tsp dhaniya/corriander pwd
    1 big clove or 2 small cloves of garlic (mashed)
    1 tsp red chilli pwd (adjust to taste)
    1 tbsp cilantro chopped
    1/4 tsp sugar
    A pinch of tumeric
    Salt to taste


    1tsp avalu/mustard seeds
    1tsp jeera/cumin seeds
    2-3 dried red chillies torn
    6-7 curry leaves
    4-6 menthulu/methi seeds/fenugreek seeds
    1/4 tsp hing(optional)

    Heat a deep  vessel and add drumsticks, salt, sugar, red chilli pwd, tumeric pwd and 1/2 cup water and cook  for 5 mins with lid closed on medium flame. Add the tamarind, jeera pwd, corriander pwd and water and boil for 8 mins on medium to low heat with the lid on. Add the garlic and cilantro seeds. Switch off and keep aside. In a kadai, heat 1 tbsp oil add the mustard seeds , cumin seeds and the methi seeds and when start to splutter, add the dried red chillies, curry leaves and hing if using, saute for a min and add to the rasam. Check for seasoning and serve with rice or you can have it as is. Enjoy!!!

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    Tomato Ooragaya/Tomato Nilava pacchadi/Tomato Pickle

    My ammamma makes the best ooragayalu and with any vegetable. Every year she sends me avakaya (Mango), allam pacchadi(ginger pickle), tomato pickle and we enjoy them year long. She makes tomato ooragaya many ways. This is one on them.

    6 medium ripe tomatoes
    1&1/2 tsp avapindi/mustard pwd(dry roasted and powdered)
    1/2 tsp menthi podi/Methi pwd( dry roasted and powdered)
    1/2 cup pacchadi karam/pickle chilli pwd (I get pickle chilli pwd from India. u can use normal red chilli pwd ,reduce if u donot want it very spicy)
    1/2 tsp turmeric pwd
    1&1/2 tsp sugar
    Salt to taste
    Tamarind -big lemon sized
    1/4 cup vegetable oil

    1 tsp avalu/mustard seeds
    1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
    8-10 menthulu/methi seeds
    4 cloves of garlic(crushed)(optional)
    4-6 red chillies torn(optional)
    1/2 tbsp minapappu/urad dal
    1tbsp pacchi senagapappu/chana dal
    1/4 cup vegetable oil

    Method :

    Wash the tomatoes and cut them. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed, deep kadai and add the chopped tomatoes and cook on medium heat for 5 -10 mins, stirring occasionally.

     Add the tamarind (u can also soak the tamarind in very little water and extract thick pulp and add this instead )and tumeric pwd and cook on medium heat stirring occasionally for another 15 mins.

    Reduce heat and cook till the oil separates from the tomato mixture, stirring once in a while(take care not to burn). Add the salt, pickle chilli pwd, mustard pwd, methi pwd , sugar and mix well and cook stirring for 5 more minutes. Keep aside.

    Heat the oil for talimpu/tadka and when hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds , methi seeds and when they splutter, add the chanadal, urad dal and saute for a minute. Add the garlic, dried red chillies, curry leaves and saute for 2 mins. Switch off and add this to the tomato mixture. Mix well. Cool completely and transfer into a clean and dry jar/ bottle/jaadi. Enjoy!!!

    Note: Reduce the amount of oil if you want. Taste and make sure that there is enough salt (if there is less salt, the pickle will be spoiled.).Donot add all the salt at once. Add some mix and taste and if not enough add some more.ALWAYS USE A DRY SPOON WHEN HANDLING THE PICKLE. IF U DON'T, THE PICKLE WILL SPOIL.

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Home made Perugu/Curd/Dahi/Yogurt

    We prefer home made curd to store bought yogurt. I always thought yogurt making is a very complicated process and that I could never master it but its not once u know at which temperature u need to add the culture, its a 1,2,3,4 process. I always boil my milk twice (coz thats how mom and grandmom do) and always use whole milk ('coz thats how S likes it.)

    Step 1: Boil milk in a clean vessel till a layer is formed on top of the milk and keep aside till it cools down. (Boil on medium-low flame)

    Step 2: Boil milk again and keep it aside till it is lukewarm, pour in a vessel and add 1 tsp of previously made curd or if using store bought yogurt use 2 tsps instead and mix.

    Step 3: Place covered in the oven or some place warm overnight undisturbed.

    Step 4: Take out, remove the cover and jsut move the vessel to see if the curd is done if not let it stay for few more hrs(donot disturb it). Serve chilled or at room temp. Enjoy!!!

    Mamidikaya Annam/Pulihora/Mango Rice

    Mango rice is basically  cooked rice mixed with grated mango and tadka. Ammamma(mom's mom) and amma made (still ) mamidikaya annam/ mango rice every summer. We have a mango tree in our backyard and also get mangoes from our groves in the village. All the kids looked forward for this treat. I bought these mangoes to make chutney but opted to make this instead and am so happy I did :).

    2 cups rice (raw rice)
    2 cups grated sour raw mango(adjust to your taste)
    15 cashew nuts(optional)
    15 peanuts(optional)
    1 tsp avalu/mustard seeds
    1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
    3 dried red chillies torn
    5-6 green chillies slit (adjust)
    8-10 curry leaves
    2 pinches turmeric
    1 tbsp urad dal
    1&1/2 tsp chana dal
    1/2 tsp chopped ginger
    2-3 tbsps oil
    A pinch of hing

    Method :
    Cook rice with a little oil in it (it should not be mushy and should retain its shape) and fluff with fork, keep aside. Heat oil in a kadai and when hot, add the mustard seed, cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add cashew nuts and peanuts, urad dal, chana dal  and saute for 2 mins or until they are roasted. Add the dried red chillies, slit green chillies, curry leaves, turmeric, hing and saute for a min. Add the grated mango and salt and saute for 2-3 mins, check for salt and switch off. Add the cooked and fluffed rice and mix/fold in gently. You can also add a tbsp of chopped cilantro if u like. Enjoy!!!

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Allam/Ginger chaaru

    I make this rasam when S catches a cold and/ cough. But I up the amount of ginger and pepper. It is very soothing.

    A small lemon sized tamarind (soak in 1/2 cup of warm water for 10 mins and  extract the juice)
    3&1/2 cups water
    4-5 green chillies( adjust to ur taste)
    4-5 curry leaves
    2&1/2 inch piece of ginger
    2 garlic pods
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    1&1/2 tsp corriander seeds
    1 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish
    Salt to taste
    A pinch of tumeric

    1 tsp mustard seeds
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    3-4 curry leaves
    4-6 methi seeds
    3 dried red chillies

    Grind to paste ginger, green chillies, garlic, cumin seeds, corriander seeds and keep aside. Boil water with the tamarind juice, salt, tumeric, curry leaves for 5-8 mins. Add the paste and boil for another 10-12 mins. In an other pan heat 1 tbsp oil add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and when they start to splutter, add the methi seeds, red chillies and curry leaves and saute for 1-2 mins and add this to the prepared chaaru. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with white rice or have it as is. Enjoy!!!

    Note :
    You can also grind 2 tbsps of cilantro and add ground black pepper.

    Atukula Upma/Thick poha upma

    Atukulu/poha upma is an easy breakfast when time is a constraint. Its done in 15-20 mins. This is our breakfast today. First time for my son and he loved it :) .

    2 cups atukulu/poha(choose the thick poha as they won't become mushy quickly)
    1 tbsp roasted peanuts
    4-5 cashews halved
    1 tbsp urad dal
    1 tsp chana dal/senaga pappu
    1 tsp aavalu/mustard seeds
    1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
    1 small onion finely chopped
    3-4 small green chillies slit and rubbed with a little salt
    6-8 curry leaves
    2 dried red chillies torn
    1/4 inch ginger chopped
    1/2 tbsp cilantro chopped
    1&1/2 tsps lemon/lime juice
    A pinch of tumeric
    Salt to taste

    Method :
    Wash the poha and saok it in water for 3 mins. Drain without water and keep aside. Heat 2 tbsps oil and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add the urad dal , chana dal, dried red chillies, curry leaves , roasted peanuts, cashew nut pieces and saute till the dal changes color. Add the ginger, tumeric and green chillies and saute for a min. Add the chopped onion, salt and saute till translucent. Add the drained poha and mix well. Switch off and add the chopped cilantro and lemon/lime juice and serve. Enjoy!!!!
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