Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tandla rotti ~ Rice rotti

We have a small kitchen in our apartment here with few shelves for storage. We do not have a separate pantry for kitchen hence all my stuff that are not used frequently or those that are bought in bulk like dals etc sit cozily in a big box. Few days ago I was searching for some particular item in the box and was worried looking at the items in my storage box. There were 4 types of rice, variety of dals, legumes, poha etc. In addition to this my freezer is full of butter, Spice powders, dry fruits,frozen items like phyllo sheets, Ice creams, grated coconut, Paneer etc. I was worried looking at the items that we have collected in just 6 months of our stay here. I decided that I would stop buying legumes,dals for now and work on clearing the existing stock. The only itmes that I stock on now are Urad dal, Toor dal, Rice(Sona masuri) and veggies which I use very frequently. It will take some more time for me to clear my stock.  While on this cleaning process I chanced upon boiled rice(Brown rice) that I bought thinking we would shift to eating brown rice on daily basis and did so for a week or two and then gave up. We love brown rice but it takes some time to get it cooked so for the ease of it I went back to my old ways of eating white rice or phulka's.  This is when I remembered this rotti that is usually made for breakfast. It is usually served with fresh home made butter or with spicy chutney.

Here is what's needed:
3/4 cup brown rice
3/4 cup sona masuri rice or dosa rice
1 to 1.5 cup grated coconut (Fresh or frozen)
2 green chilli finely chopped
1" ginger  finely chopped
Salt to taste

1) Soak the two rice together overnight or for at least 6 hours.
2) Grind the soaked rice with grated coconut and salt to thick coarse paste. The batter should not be liquidy like normal dosa batter and should be the consistency of soft dough. Add water as needed while grinding.
3) Add in the green chilli and ginger and mix.
4) Heat tawa and add a little oil. Take a small lemon sized dough and pat it directly on the tawa with your fingers. Dip your hands in cold water if needed.  Cover and cook until the colour changes. Add oil over the rotti and flip. Cook for a minute or two on medium flame. Serve hot with butter and pickles/chutney.
I served it with sweetened coconut sauce called choornu. This is made by boiling jaggery with little water until the jaggery melts and turns a little sticky. Add grated coconut and cardamom powder.


1) As kids amma made a snack with these rotti. She used to chop the rotti's and dunk them in the jaggery choornu and mix well. We loved this as kid and used to look forward to this tasty evening snack,
2) My dad did not like to eat dishes with Onions or garlic for breakfast. So the leftover rotti dough was mixed with finely chopped onions, coriander leaves, cumin seeds to be converted into tasty evening snacks.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Herb Cheese Pull Apart Bread ~ Tried and tasted

Baking bread has always been one of my dreams. I had read  bloggers mentioning as to how home made bread always tasted better. I would see the pictures, the description and then Sigh! I would wonder if it were all real, was bread baking so simple and easy? Will I also ever be able to bake such beautiful breads? I had bookmarked a lot of recipes from blogs to be tried, but never got around making it as I was too nervous. It all changed when Aparna blogged about this Herb and cheese pull apart bread. From the very first time I laid my eyes on the bread I was completely bowled over. I loved the flavors that she used in the bread. When she mentioned that she had good experience with the bread and that is was very easy to make got me hooked. In addition to that a lot other bloggers who participated in the bread baking group that she called " We knead to Bake" had only positive things to talk about. Everytime I saw a similar bread in one of the blogs It would work as a gentle reminder for me to get it started. I could not get my eyes off this bread and had made a mental note of making it sometime soon. Finally when Manasi mentioned about her event "I must make that" I knew this was my call to finally make this bread and I am really glad that I did it. From the time I started proofing the yeast and until the bread was done I was terribly nervous. But the final outcome was wonderful. This bread received a lot of positive feedback from my family and friends. I finally got over my yeast phobia. If I could bake this bread anyone can do! It is really easy and very very tasty. I made minor changes to the filling to suit my tastes. The end resulted tasted like lightly spiced garlic bread. This is Aparna's recipe with just a little modification of the filling. I am just copying it her for my reference. Please do visit her blog for her recipe and wonderful photographs that will motivate you to go ahead and bake this beauty! Thank you Aparna.

Here is what's needed:
For the Dough:

1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
25gm butter, soft at room temperature
3-4 garlic finely minced
3/4 cup milk

For the Filling:

15 to 20gm melted butter
2 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 tsp red chilli flakes to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese


1) In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm milk. Keep aside for about 5 minutes till the yeast mixture bubbles up.
2) Put 2 3/4 cup of flour, salt, softened butter, and minced garlic in a large bowl and mix. Then add the yeast mixture and the 3/4 cup of milk and knead till you have a soft, smooth and elastic/ pliable dough which is not sticky. Add a little extra flour if your dough is sticking, but only just as much as is necessary. I did not use any extra flour as it was shaped really well.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil. Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until almost double in volume.

3) Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Deflate the dough, shape it into a square and roll the dough out into a larger square that is about 12’ by 12”. Brush the surface of the square with the melted butter. I was all nervous and in spite of having melted butter next to me I forgot to do this.Evenly sprinkle the herbs,  chilli flakes and then the grated cheese. Use a rolling pin to very lightly press the topping into the dough to ensure the topping doesn’t fall off when you are stacking the strips.
4) Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 long and even strips – they do not have to be perfect. Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facing upwards, until you have a stack of the strips.
You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater. Using a pastry scraper or a sharp knife, cut straight down through the stack dividing it into 6 equal pieces (6 square stacks).
5) Grease and lightly flour a 9” by 4” (or 5”) loaf tin. Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Layer the square slices, cut sides down into the loaf tin
Cover the loaf tin dough with a towel and allow the dough to rise for an hour. Lightly brush some milk over the top of the loaf. I brushed the top with meted butter.
6) Bake the dough at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 40 minutes until it is done and the top is golden brown.

Here is another look at the cheesy bread

I will be making this bread again and beware it is addictive. This is my entry to Manasi's event "I Must Make That". Please check her blog for the details of the event. Thanks Manasi for considering my late entry!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Methi Pulao

When I see a bunch of fresh methi leaves I cannot resist buying it. I am a big fan of kasuri methi too and  find myself adding them to most of the North Indian curries. But the flavour and taste of fresh methi leaves rules my kitchen and mind! The only thing that I hate about these is the cleaning!
Growing up these were not commonly used in our house hold. When my mom was transferred to Bangalore (I was in the first year of my college then) she started getting a variety of greens from there. I remember visiting amma and going to market with my parents. I would go crazy looking at the veggies, fruit and flowers. The best time to go to the markets is early in the morning. I bet you will not return home until your bag/basket is full and are tired from negotiating the price with the vendors. Even to this day, If I go for groceries without a list I end up buying a lot of veggies and my fridge will start cursing me for all the burden that I give it. In spite of having a list at times I deviate and simply pick a veggie just because I loved its freshness. This usually happens with the greens. In my over enthusiasm last week I picked up a bunch of methi leaves, palak and arbi leaves too! Since I had already made Methi paratha a few days back I decided to make Methi pulao. The best thing about one pot meals like pulao's are that they are simple and easiest to make. When pressed for time and in need of a healthy and hearty dish I look up to them. This Methi pulao is healthy with all the veggies in it and gets ready in a jiffy. I got this recipe from one of my friend.  She had used only methi leaves and Onion and tomato. I wanted to make it healthier and added more veggies to it. I make mine in pressure cooker.

Here is what's needed:
1 cup Basmati rice
1 bunch methi leaves ( Use only the leaves and do not chop them)
2 medium carrots peeled and sliced
1/4 cup frozen green peas
1 medium Onion sliced
1 medium tomato chopped
2 tbsp Ghee or Oil
Salt to taste

1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1" Cinnamon stick
2 green Cardamoms
1 bay leaf
2 cloves

Spice powders:
1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
1 tsp Garam masala powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1) Wash and soak the rice for 10-15 mins. In the mean time boil 2 cups of water.
2) Heat ghee/oil in the cooker. Add cumin seeds. When they crackle add in the whole spices. Saute for few seconds. Add the Onion and saute till brownish.
3) Add the tomato and cook until mushy followed by methi leaves. Fry on medium heat until they have wilted. Add the veggies and masala powders. Fry for a min or two.
4) Add the rice and lightly fry it. Pour in the hot water. Add salt. Give it a good mix. Close the lid of the cooker without the whistle. Invert a steel glass over the steam vent. Turn the heat to high. After exactly 8 mins switch off the cooker. Let it sit covered for 10-15 mins. Fluff with  the fork to mix. Serve hot with raita and pickle.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vegetable Biryani

I have always loved travelling by train. I love the comfort that train provides. You get to relax by the window watching beautiful scenery and read comfortably or you can spread your legs and sleep peacefully. My memorable journeys are the one's that includes a train journey. One such journey that I remember well is from Mumbai to Mangalore. I and my aunt were on our way back from Mumbai chatting happily with co-passengers. Suddenly the train came to halt, we expected that we were waiting for signal. After few minutes when we did not notice any other trains pass by people got impatient and started getting down. That is when one of the passenger told us that there was landslide ahead and it would take few hours for the tracks to be cleared. Since we were ladies travelling we were worried and we had no water to drink. We had carried a bottle of water and had decided to purchase the bottled water on our way.  Our compartment was the at the rear end of the pantry car and the food/water supply had got over by the time the it reached our compartment. One gentleman was kind enough to get some fresh water from a spring! My aunt had packed a big packet of Potato chips for us to carry home. I opened it and shared it with co passengers! One elderly man was kind enough to give me a Sidney Sheldon novel to pass my time. When the road got cleared and the train whistled all of us were relieved.  At dinner time, We got down at Goa station and bought a packet of piping hot Biryani. The aroma of the Biryani was mind blowing and when I opened it I was shocked to see plain white rice at the top. When digged further there was some chole type gravy at the bottom. Not sure if it was the hunger or the aroma, The biryani was enjoyed to the last bite. I was expecting a vegetable pulao type and this was completely new but tasty! Since then I have had a soft spot for Biryani's.
I never dared to make Biryani in my kitchen when I started cooking. Thinking about the dum cooking and the lengthy process got me worried. When I started blogging in 2008, I had all the time in the world to learn new dishes. That's when I chanced upon Nupur's Biryani. I was bowled over the recipe and the step by step pictures and decided that I had to make it. We did not get mint leaves easily then and this made me take few deviations from her recipe. But the inspiration is from her post! Thank you Nupur.

Now I have access to fresh mint leaves and I made this dish again after 3 years  and I was surprised that it came out wonderful and was loved by everyone!

Here is what's needed:

For the rice:
1.5 cupsc Basmati rice
2 green Cardamoms
1" Cinnamon stick
2 Bay leaves
1 Star anise
3 cups Water
salt to taste

For the Gravy:
2 Carrots peeled and chopped
12-15 Beans stringed and chopped
1 Potato peeled and chopped
a small head of Cauliflower cut into bite sized florets
10 Mushrooms cleaned and quartered
1/2 cup green Peas

To be chopped roughly
2 Tomatoes
1 Onion

Other ingredients:
1 tbspOoil
1 tsp Poppy seeds
2 tbsp Curds/Yogurt (Beat until smooth)
1.5 tsp Shan biryani Masala (This masala is very spicy and has red chilli powder in it. So I skipped using chilli powder)
1/2 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Garam masala (optional)
1 tsp Kitchen King masala
Salt to taste

To Assemble:
2 medium Onions sliced thin
1/2 cup minced Coriander leaves
1/2 cup minced Mint leaves
12-15 Cashews split
1/3 cup Raisins
2 tbsp Ghee
1/4 cup Milk
1 tbsp of Saffron

Preparing the Rice:
1) Wash the rice in water until it runs clean and it in water for at least 10 mins. You can make rice in an open pan or in cooker. Normally I make rice by cooking in a large vessel with lots of water and whole spices and salt until 3/4th done and then drain it. Spread it on a plate to cool it until the time of using it. But this time I followed my friend's suggestion of making it in cooker. Bring 3 cups of water to boil in a cooker, add the whole spices and salt to taste followed by drained rice. Put the lid of the cooker without whistle. Place a steel glass inverted over the steam outlet and cook on high for 8 minutes switch off and let the cooker cool. Fluff with a fork and cool it on a wide plate. You can even add a tsp or two of ghee to enhance the flavor of the rice and make it non sticky as well.

Preparing the gravy:
1) Steam the veggies except mushrooms until tender. Keep aside.
2) Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and throw in the onions followed by ginger garlic paste. Saute until onions turn transparent and add the tomatoes. Cook until mushy. Cool.
3) In a blender add the onion mixture and poppy seeds and blend into a smooth puree.
4) In the same pan heat a tsp of oil and add in the mushrooms and cook until they have wilted and soft. Add the puree followed by the spice powders. Cook  for 2-3 minutes and add the steamed vegetables and salt. Bring the flame to low and add yogurt. Mix well and give it a boil. Switch off and let it cool.

Preparing the garnishing:
1) Heat a tbsp of ghee and fry the cashews until golden. Add the raisins and let them puff up. Keep aside to cool.
2) In the same pan heat another tbsp of ghee and add the sliced onions. Fry it on a low flame until they turn golden. Keep aside.
3) Mix the minced coriander leaves and mint leaves in a bowl.
4) Microwave or boil the milk on stove until it is warm and add the saffron strands by crushing it slightly with the fingers.

Assembling the Biryani:
Baking method:
1) I used a pyrex 9x13 inch dish as suggested by Nupur. Use any dish that is large enough to hold the biryani and also suitable to used in a oven. Lightly grease the pan with ghee.
2) Spread 1/2 of the rice in the greased pan evenly. Using a spoon pour 1/2 of the saffron milk evenly on the rice. Top it off with 1/2 of the fried cashews, raisins, coriander leaves and mint leaves. Pour the gravy and spread it to cover the rice. Add the remaining rice followed by the saffron milk, fried cashew and raisins, mint and coriander leaves.
3) If desired a tsbp or two of ghee can be added. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and bake for 30-40 minutes in an oven with temperature set to 400 degrees F.

I have made this without oven too. By first adding a tbsp of ghee  followed by a layer of thinly sliced potato in a cooker or thick bottomed vessel and then assembling the Biryani as mentioned in the baking method. Cover with tight fitting lid and cooking on low flame for 20 - 25 mins.  This method was taught to me by my brother and the Potatoes that are used at the bottom of biryani tastes awesome!

1) You can use only Biryani masala and omit the garam masala powder and Kitchen king masala. I find that the masala powder that I used was aromatic but was too spicy. So the next time I decreased the quantity of the biryani masala and added kitchen king masala.
2) When I am making this to be served at a dinner party ,I make this biryani early in the morning and refrigerate after assembling until I am ready to bake and serve.
3) Fried onions that are easily available can be used for garnishing instead of the homemade.

Serve the Biryani hot with Raita!