Monday, October 31, 2011

Lentil curry

1/2 cup masoor dhal 
1 1/2 cups water
2-3 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2-1 tsp chili powder
1/4 ground coriander powder
Salt to taste

A pinch of cumin
1/2 onion
2 springs of curry leaves
3 dry red chilis

Lentil curry is a very common side-dish in South Asia and it is known as an easy curry to make, but there are some rules and things you need to know about how to prepare this dish. Firstly, wash and rinse the lentils under cold water till the water becomes clear (the first few times it will appear foamy) and remove any impurities. You need not soak the lentils before cooking.

Bring the water to a boil and then add the lentils. When cooking lentils you need to add 3 times as much water as lentils. If you want a more watery lentil curry, you could add some more water. Another thing is, do not add salt until the lentils have been cooked or at least early on, as the curry will stiffen a little. Add all the other ingredients, except the salt and the ground coriander seeds. Add them last. Take the lentil curry away from the stove. In a separate pan, heat some oil and fry cumin, onion and curry leaves until golden brown. Then add the dry red chilis and fry. Split the red chilis before adding them in the curry. Mix these with the lentil curry and serve warm!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pomegranate smoothie

2/3 cup vanilla yoghurt
3/4 banana
3 tbs pomegranate seeds
Sugar (if needed)

In a mixer, add sliced bananas and vanilla yoghurt and mix until the mixture reaches your desired level of smoothness. Add the pomegranate seeds and mix. Taste the smoothie. If needed, add sugar (as required). Pour the smoothie in a glass and serve immediately or place it in the fridge if you want to serve it later. Smoothies can be enjoyed as part of breakfast or evening snack.
This smoothie was featured on Midweek Fiesta 6. Thank you for the badge, Amy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Panna cotta

This is a white chocolate panna cotta recipe. Panna cotta means cooked cream and it is a classic Italian dessert, seen and shown on many food programmes and magazines around the world. I did not bother to try panna cotta for long simply because I did not find it tempting enough. It kind of looks like frozen yoghurt. It doesn't make your mouth water and tempt you like many other desserts do. However, I love white chocolate, so when I came across this recipe on ICA's website, I had to give it a try. Since panna cotta is quite heavy, it's usually served in small portions and this recipe makes about 4 servings.

1 cup fresh cream (35-40 %)
3 tbs milk (3-4 % fat)
125 g white chocolate
1 tsp gelatine powder
1 vanilla pod

Chop the white chocolate. Heat the milk and put it in a small bowl, add the gelatine powder and whisk vigorously till there are no lumps. Put it aside to cool. Slit the vanilla pod and scrape the vanilla out. In a pan, boil the cream and vanilla along with the vanilla pod. Stir continously till it starts to boil. When you see the first few bubbles appear in the cream, take the pan away from the stove. Take the pod out and add the gelatine and the white chocolate and whisk until everything melts and gets dissolved in the cream. Pour the panna cotta carefully in four small cups or glasses. I let the panna cotta cool for awhile in room temperature and the put it in the fridge for about 1 hour. Serve the panna cotta cold with fresh fruits or berries!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Almond paste

In Sweden, almond paste is different from marzipan, because almond paste has a higher content of almonds than marzipan. Typically almond paste is made with egg white or milk. If you want the almond paste to last longer, you can replace the above mentioned ingredients with bourbon (and some drops of almond essence, if you want to downplay the smell of bourbon). These can be used in pastries, cakes, cinnamon rolls or relished with bread. You can also, after some refrigeration, add some food colouring to the almond paste and make various shapes associated with Christmas, for this Christmas. I am sending this as my entry to Back to Basics event conducted by Aqua, initiated by Jaya.

200 g blanched almonds
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 egg white or 2-3 tbs milk

Blanch the almonds. You can either bring some water to boil, add the almonds and boil for about 4-5 minutes and then blanch the almonds or let the almonds soak in warm water for a couple of minutes and then peel the skin off. Allow to dry in a towel and then slice the almonds. Slicing them before grinding makes it easier to get a fine paste. Grind them in a food processor. If you have a small grinder, grind in small batches. Grind the almonds as finely as you can. In a bowl, add the ground almonds and sugar and mix. Grind it again with the sugar. In a bowl, mix the almond mixture with the egg white or milk. Mix well into a firm paste and your almond paste is ready. Wrap up the almond paste tightly in a plastic sheet, like you would a sausage, and keep it in the fridge until needed.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Pakora/pakoda is a crispy snack made of chana dal. Typically, ready made flour (gram flour) is used to make them. My mother grinds soaked chana dal into a semi-coarse batter to get that crispiness.

2 cups chana dal
1 onion
1 whole garlic bulb
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2-1 tsp ajwain seeds (dry roasted and ground)
2 tsp chili powder/chili flakes
Salt to taste
Curry leaves
Oil for frying

Soak the chana dal for 3-4 hours. Chop the onions, curry leaves and garlic finely. You could also grind the onion and garlic, which is what I did. Grind the chana dal semi-coarsely, add some water if needed. Add the onion, curry leaves and garlic to the grinded dal and mix. Add fennel seeds, chili powder, salt and ajwain seeds that have been dry-roasted and ground finely, to the mixture. The ajwain seeds are added for fragrance, you could exclude them if you want to or don't have them. Heat oil for deep frying. Take a handful of the pakora mixture and drop it carefully in the hot oil in small quantities with your hands. Fry them on both sides. After making the first batch, taste and adjust salt and spice, accordingly. Pakodas are best when eaten on the very first day, when they are still crispy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sauteed Chickpeas - Kadalai Sundal

Today is Saraswati puja. Most Hindus prepare and offer a variety of food to Goddess Saraswati today. One of the many items found at the offering table is sauteed chickpeas (kadalai sundal). I have been thinking about posting this recipe for a very long time and finally got the opportunity today. If you disregard the hours spent to soak and boil the chickpeas, this is an easy recipe with few basic ingredients. Apart from finding its place on the festival tables, sauteed chickpeas also make for a healthy snack and breakfast.
1 1/4 cup chickpeas
Oil (as needed)
1 onion
1/2 tsp cumin
3-4 dry red chilis
2 springs of curry leaves
Salt to taste

Soak the chickpeas overnight or for about 10-12 hours. Boil the chickpeas with salt for about 50 minutes, or until soft, at medium to high heat. Cut the onion finely and split or cut the red chilis. In a pan, heat oil and add cumin. Let the cumin darken a little bit. Then add onion, curry leaves and red chilis and fry until fragrant and light golden brown. Add the chickpeas and saute for 5-10 minutes. Ready to be served!