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This recipe is about the podi(or powder) that is eaten on the side with Idlies(steamed rice cakes). As kids when we were served idlies as breakfast we were asked what we wanted with it - podi, chutney or sugar. Most kids love sugar. I wanted podi or chutney both of which are spicy accompaniments to the rather bland albeit super soft and spongy idly.

The south Indian cuisine which tends to be vegetarian and even vegan centric although not intentionally tends to incorporate the required protein in everyday meals. I have to admit, I never had to understand the concept of carbs, protein and fiber till I started cooking on a regular basis and realized my cooked seemed very lopsided (read favoring carbs).

So I started to dissect the meals I was served as a child - a heavy breakfast of carbs accompanied with veggies and legumes, a lighter lunch which usually but not always was a duplicate of the breakfast but lesser in quantity and evening snacks which was freshly cut fruit or a piece of fried legumes and finally dinner which was the lightest meal of the day and eaten by 8 pm.

This continued till I turned into a rebellious teen refusing to ‘stuff’ herself in the morning and returning home ravenous and ready to eat her own fingers. This trend has continued to this day and I have since tried to make changes.

I failed to realize for a long time that meals were made a certain way for a reason, tradition wasnt tradition for the sake of traditions. Festivals encouraged rich and heavy food but it also provided energy and encouraged going out and playing to burn away all the calories. None of this has been spelled out in terms of calories and yet, makes so much sense.

Long story short, the idly podi or the spicy powdery accompaniment for a lot on south Indian breakfasts, is filled with legumes a source rich in protein and is super easy to make and store. That’s a huge bonus for lazy bums like me.

So I spoke to Amma and decide to share her idly podi recipe on the blog.

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Ingredients:

Rice - 1/2 Cup

Urad dal - 1/4 Cup

chana dal - 1/4 Cup

asafoetida - 1 Tsp

salt to taste 

dried red chillis - 8 (Reduce or increase based on your preferred spice level)

Jeera/cumin - 1 Tsp

Dry roast the above ingredients and grind to a fine powder. I use my Oster at high setting and use the liquify option - works everytime. Store in an airtight container and use preferably within 6 months. It does last longer but its more fun to make in smaller batches because you can try a different combo each time and experiment with a different taste.

I wanted to also add a small note on how this is eaten - a heaped teaspoon is usually put on the plate and a depression made using your index finger deep enough for 1/2 a teaspoon of oil. The oil and powder are then mixed well enough to form a paste of sorts. We usually dip a piece of idly/dosa or sometimes even mix rice with this spicy paste and its a meal!

The idly podi is such a versatile dish that one can add, subtract, divide ingredients to create a different taste each time. Try adding dry curry leaves, garlic, basil leaves, mint leaves to add a depth of flavor.

The Ragi flour is an understated ingredient in the current food market. Rich in Calcium and Iron it is one of the few less talked about diet friendly grain in the Indian Pantry. Almost every toddler that was born in the 80s and earlier has had a taste of this almost funny tasting flour in many forms - porridge, tortillas, puddings, soups to name a few.

When my Mother was diagnosed with high BP she started going on the meds that the doctor prescribed. One of the medication did not agree with her and her health took a turn for the worse. After a little research and help from friends we changed the doctor and the medication but no medication can help you if you don’t make changes to your diet!

My Mother then went back to basics - changed the ingredients used in daily meals, switched to healthier options and ate multiple small meals. One such ingredient that she added to her diet was the Ragi flour. Such a versatile ingredient this is that we encourage one and all to take to it. Inspired by my Mom, I decided to get some and turn it to my breakfast. It can be made in less than 2 minutes and can be flavoured anyway you like - sweet or savoury.

Watch the video to follow the easy steps…

Rubios and Baja Fresh are two restaurants that ‘the boy’ and ‘the girl’ often eat at during weekends. At Baja Fresh they love the mango salsa and at Rubios the Chipotle sauce is what makes them keep going back. One day ‘the boy’ says to the girl ‘how do these guys make this sauce?’ and ‘the girl’ takes it up as a challenge!

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About 4 months back I got a lovely present from Tracy. I opened it up and found this beautifully aromatic almond paste by Mandelin. Did you know that California is known for its Almonds? Also almonds are not as fattening as Cashews and so I can get away with using it in anything I please. 

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As a south Indian I grew up eating these for snacks - Achappams - crispy, light, slightly sweet and fun! It wasn’t until recently that I found out that they were called Rosettes out here. 

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I never realized how much I would grow to love these weird tomato-ish looking fruit in such a short time. Mostly it was used for juicing with the juicing buddies and the fruit came straight from their family gardens. Recently a neighbor dropped by and game me some because, she said, her brother in law gave her so many, she didn’t know what to do with them all. I decided I’d make Persimmon Jam and then use that in a puff pastry! How ingenious is that! 

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Also I have been waiting a week for these beauties to ripen a bit more. Would it be weird if I offered some of the jam to the kind lady that gave me the fruit in the first place?

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I have been trying out puff pastry bite size dessert ideas for sometime now. Apricot preserve, Pumpkin butter, pineapple jam, strawberry preserve, orange marmalade, chocolate sauce, cheese, spinach - you name it. In India I used to love the egg puff although not as much the mess it made while eating though. And i think that is one of my main reasons to make them bite size - no mess. These can be devoured by the dozen, can be made healthy(using whole wheat puff pastry) and are fast and easy to make as well.

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I obviously had to pinterest all the little bite size treats i could. And I almost got lost deciding what I wanted to make. Finally i decided on giving these a try with what I had on hand before I went and splurged on fillings.

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Pretty simple, right? These are as simple and straightforward as they look. The prep time is about 15 minutes and the cook time - about 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold, they are definitely a treat to the eye and the tastebuds.

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Preheat oven to 375 F. Get puff pastry at the grocery store and thaw for about 10 minutes. Cut into desired shape and bake for 25-30 minutes. If you like to add egg wash to the top of the puff pastry, thats a good touch as well.

Once done, use a fork or your hand to make a small depression in the middle and add any pre-made topping you like!

One of the simplest and healthiest dishes I’ve made. This vegetable literally takes care of itself. Olan is about simple ingredients, involves a simple cooking process and has a very rich flavor…

Cut up the winter melon, green chillies, ginger. Add curry leaves, salt, 1 tsp coconut milk and water and cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes or till it comes to a boil.

You’ll know its done when the melon pieces turn translucent. If you like taste it  now and add salt if needed.

Turn off heat and stir in another tablespoon of coconut milk. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

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For some odd reason I don’t like any fruit or vegetable that is deemed healthy. Turns out my ‘homies’ - Mom and (R)oomie are the complete opposite. A visit to a steak house where the chef kindly served up a huge vegetarian platter to (R)oomie who was the only vegetarian in the group, turned him into an instant Brussels sprouts lover.

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The next few days were spent listening to (R)oomie praise the chef and his brussels sprouts - how perfectly tender they were and how well the flavor was captured with simple ingredients. Gritting my teeth, I got out and bought some from Wholefoods, cleaned em up, blanched them for a full 6 minutes.

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Let cold water run over it and drained it. Heated 1/2 a Tbsp of butter and roasted the blanched brussels sprouts with salt and pepper for another 10 minutes.

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I love how blanching retains the lovely color of the veggies!

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Roasted to our perfection. I even tasted some of it! At least my phobia of cooking these troublesome veggies has been conquered. 

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I love kitchen gadgets… When I get them as a gift I adore them so much more… Recently Mark came home and surprised us with a bag of goodies. I couldn’t wait to open it up and was so pleasantly surprised to see that it had to do with my favourite place - the kitchen!!!

The ball whisk was one of the gadgets and I am completely in love with it. I’ve used it so many many times in the past two weeks that I am sure if the whisk could speak it would ask for some time off…

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I’ve mostly used it to make omelettes and crepes(oats dosa that is)…

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I kept taking the whisk around trying to get the perfect shot… I dont believe I’ve done it justice though.

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Sometimes you just gotta keep trying… Have I mentioned previously how much I love eggs? This wasn’t always the case. A long long time ago when I was all but 10, I cracked open an egg and suddenly had no appetite foe it for a good 5 years… I slowly brought it back into my diet although I still have nightmares about cracking open an egg and not liking what I see inside.

That little story aside - I enjoy eggs hardboiled, as a french toast and also in a tomato based curry but mostly I just enjoy it the plain old way - in an indian omelette.

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Ingredients:

3 eggs at room temperature 

Tomato - 1/4 Cup

Onion - 1/4 Cup

Curry leaves - a few leaves finely cut

Turmeric power - 1 generous pinch

Paprika powder - 1/4 Tsp (or according to taste. Feel free to substitute with pepper)

Salt to taste

Whisk  up the eggs and add the above ingredients and miss well. Heat a pan/skillet and spray some canola oil and pour out half the mixture spreading the veggies evenly on the surface. Cook on medium high for about 2 min and then toss to cook the other side. 

Serve hot with crusty toast for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This makes about two 6 inch omelettes. 

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Finger licking food…

How this post came about:

     About 3-4 dys ago I saw Sala’s facebook update about her interview with mrsmakicooks and to be very honest I was curious to hear her voice. So I listened and enjoyed it. Towards the end she surprised me with a simple yet delicious sounding recipe with tofu. You can find the original detailed recipe with gorgeous pictures here

I tweaked the recipe because I didnt have all the ingredients in my pantry.

Get some extra firm tofu and drain it and press it to get as much water out of it as possible.

Slice it up into thin triangles.

Heat your favourite cast iron skillet and roast the tofu evenly on both sides. I roasted 5-6 pieces at a time. You are welcome at add some oil if you like. I skipped it.

Keep aside as you get ready to prepare the glaze.

Mix together 2 Tbsps of Soy sauce(low sodium), 1 generous Tbsp of Red pepper jelly, 1 tsp of chili garlic sauce and 1 tsp of honey or brown sugar. Keep aside.

Turn the heat back on and add the tofu and the glaze and let simmer for about 5 min. Take the tofu out into a serving dish and turn off the heat. Let the excess glaze remain in the skillet.

Garnish with coriander and serve warm.

To make it a complete meal boil some water and add soba noodles and let soak for about 8 minutes. Drain and add to the remaining glaze in the skillet. Toss around so the noodles soak in the glaze. 

Enjoy! Off this goes to Presto Pasta Nights after a really long time! Heather of Girlichef is hosting PPN #270.

P.S: I totally enjoyed instagraming at night :)