Monday, December 19, 2011

Yet Another Yellow Cake Recipe

As I have posted before, I am a total sucker for the holidays. Something in the air just gets to ya! Maybe it is the falling leaves sprinkled on the grass like stars of the sky, or a world in clear focus right after the October showers (if there is such a thing) or  it could be the rainbow of trees lining the streets in full boom with the myriad colors of fall. Er.. bear with me while I am trying to wax poetic  here. A body has to do what a body has to do! Now that it is out of the system I'll get down to business:-)

This is not a real recipe by the way. It does have some steps that are in addition to the standard box instructions and thus makes it worthwhile to post.  I get good reviews every time I remember to make it.  Came across this cake sometime back at my previous work place. From the admin (secretary) to our then CEO ."To be precise", said Thomson and Thompson:-) She was this fashionable old lady that took pride in doing things well. So when she baked the cake and brought it for us, I got the recipe from her right away. It is simple enough and when I made it after a long time  for my son's robotics team who used to meet at our home for a while, all of it was gone in no time!  This is almost like the Christmas Rum cake but with a subtler taste.

In The Mix

Any yellow cake mix - 1 Box (Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines will do)
Jello Vanilla - 1 box 3 oz. (cook & serve, not the instant
canola oil - 3/4 cup
dry sherry (white not dark) - 3/4 cup
eggs - 4

How To Do

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl blend all the ingredients together. The secret to this cake is to beat, beat and beat until the mixture becomes smooth. 5 to 6 minutes appear to do the work.

I love to use the bundt cake pan for everything these days because the cake fluffs up very nicely in it. Grease the pan with shortening. I find it easier to put a tsp of butter or shortening to the pan and place it in the preheating oven. Once shortening melts I take the pan out and coat everywhere with a paper napkin. Do take care not to burn your hand though if doing this.

Pour batter into the pan and place it in the oven. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool down for 15 minutes and enjoy!

Here is the missing piece that I managed to capture before being driven into oblivion!

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Fabulous New Year. Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Turkey Stir Fry!

Time to bring up the bird again. It is not gone until the fat turkey sings:-) We ate leftover turkey the next day but then it was time to change the format a little. This stir fry came out really well!!

In The Mix

leftover turkey - 3 cups sliced to small pieces
big red onion - 1/2 medium size,  sliced thin
curry leaves - a sprig or 2

garlic - 2 cloves crushed and minced
turmeric - 1/4 tsp
chili powder - 1/4 tsp (optional)
pepper powder - 1/4 tsp

dry red chili - 8 - 10 pieces or more

olive oil - 1/2 tbsp
mustard 1/4 tsp

No additional salt is needed for the brined turkey

How To Do

Heat oil and fry mustard. Add curry leaves and onion and saute till onion turns light brown. Add in garlic, sprinkle the turmeric, chili, pepper powders and mix together for some time. Now add the dry red chilies torn in the middle. Saute well together and add turkey pieces. Stir until pieces are well coated. Cover and cook for 2 min or so for all aromas blend. Remove from heat and serve over hot rice or fresh bread. Good!

Friday, November 25, 2011

After Thanksgiving

Hope everyone had a good dinner, turkey or not. I was just going to chill out this four day weekend but decided to go the turkey route on a whim. My son's wistful questioning of whether we will be having turkey was the catalyst. This time we went with a fresh turkey (diestel heidi) from Whole Foods. Whether it is the 'natural' part or PW's brine, the meat was much flavorful and tasted almost like chicken this time! Almost is the word. Another family brought their turkey and my son proved the point by going for seconds on ours:-))) Their gravy was way better than mine though...I am not going to write the whole turkey process again here but will add some notes. I see these notes are helping me to repeat the good results.

Basted the turkey with canola oil instead of butter and kept the windows open so going to 500F did not activate the smoke alarm. Next time I will bast a little more conservatively or use canola butter as the skin got a little more charred than desired. Inserting the thermometer after the 500 F step and poking until I found a reading in the breast area which was closer to 100F helped. I think another meter for the thighs may be needed for a larger turkey. It was a thirteen pounder this time. Alton Brown's video is good as always. I'll note down PW's brine recipe here with small changes I made since it was a last minute decision to go with it. I also used a new gravy recipe which, while better than my last one is still not there yet. It is not the recipe's fault methinks. I just need to try small adjustments until we find our own taste because the better gravy from our friends followed similar steps as my last try. They also added chilies while cooking and removed after wards. Having a fat separator for next time may be a good idea.

One thing about the meat thermometer you can do if you don't use it more than once or twice a year  is to take the battery out when you store it so it will not get damaged. We had loved the stuffing from last year and it came through again. Bought some sliced brioche loaves which went amazingly well with the turkey dinner! PW's mashed potato is as awesome as it was last time.  Our cranberry sauce came out as good as last time as well. A colleague talked about a tandoori turkey recipe that they used which came out good. I might try that next time (need not be next year) and will let you know if I do. Everyone got busy eating and so didn't get much time to take more pictures. The split Turk was all I could manage:-)

Turkey Brine (from PW)
In The Mix
turkey - 1 washed, pat dried and emptied of neck and giblets (13 lbs is what we had this time)
kosher salt - 1 1/2 cups
brown sugar - 2 cups
vegetable stock - 2 quartz
water - 2 quartz
fresh squeezed orange juice - from 1 orange
garlic - 1 cloves, crushed and minced
dried bay leaves -4 to 5
rosemary - 2 to 3 sprigs
orange peel - from 2 tangerines ( this is an awesome ingredient for the brine)

ice - 30 cubes
water - 1 gallon

How To Do
Boil all ingredients except the 1 gallon of water and ice in a large pan and completely cool down.  Pour into brining bag placed in a 5 gal. bucket. Add the 1 gallon of water and half the ice. Put the turkey breast-first into the brine and add the rest of the ice. Zip up the brining bag and place all in the refrigerator. Add weights if the bird floats up. Take out and completely wash in cold water after about 16 hours.

This Year's Gravy (from
In The Mix
vegetable oil - 1 tbsp
turkey necks - 2 cut into 2-3 pieces ( got an extra neck from the meat dept. as there were no wings)
red onion - 1 large diced
carrots - 2 large, cut into 4 pieces
celery - 2 stalks, cut into 4 pieces
garlic - 2 cloves sliced in half
dry white wine - 1/2 cup
chicken broth - 4 1/2 cups ( my gravy got too thick and so i added more)
dried thyme - 1/4 tsp
all purpose flour - 1/2 cup
water - 3 cups

How To Do
In a stir fry pan, heat oil and shallow fry the turkey pieces for 10-15 minutes until they turn color.
Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and cook for another 10 minutes till veggies and turkey get browned. Move all to a large bowl.

Add wine to the pan, stir to loosen brown bits, and put turkey and veggies back. Add water, thyme, broth and boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. The stock is extremely tasty at this point. I wanted to give up the gravy idea and just wanted to keep it as a soup instead!

Things didn't go as smooth once I added the flour because the meat I had didn't have enough fat. I added the flour without thinking about it which made clumps and took a few sieves to clean-up. I am just getting the hang of it. With two gravy experiences under my belt I might be luckier next time making it more tasty...
Anyway once done simmering, strain into a fat separator or measuring cup and let the liquid sit for a few minutes. Once fat gathers at the top, skim it to get a 1/4 cup and discard remaining fat if any. Add this to the pan and add the flour slowly. Maybe a fresh pan may not have clumped the mixture. Fry the flour mix till golden brown and add the strained gravy. Mix well, let boil and reduce to gravy consistency. Once cooled it is ready to go with the meal or into the refrigerator to be heated when needed.  I had to add more broth when I took it our for reheating since it had gotten too thick.

Once all got done, the house was cleaned up and we got  time to rest a little and enjoy the view before guests arrived. Just forgot to click more pictures at this time..... Baking the bird is lots of fun and I love how the house feels when all of this is going on along with H and the kiddos. Until next time then and no, I didn't go shopping today. I am waiting until those shoes I want go on sale. I'll take a pair in the dark brown please:-)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

Holidays are kicked off here at home with Halloween. I am just about now finished with my job of identifying and eliminating candy wrappers stashed in unknown locations. My girl the sweet connoisseur has found her home in this celebration of candies. This year the kiddos mixed and matched available stuff to become a fashionable bunny and Harry Potter cum Death Eater.

Bananas are one thing we keep eating and it's gotten out of hand lately since now my husband (H) has totally joined the banana bandwagon. He finds it the best kind of snack in the current state of affairs. Luckily H does not take much shine to the baby bananas that I adore. Plantains (nenthrapazham) are more his thing. This week we had a bunch too many of the regular Chiquita bananas and some of them got overripe. I cannot eat an overripe banana if my life depended on it. I like'em just ripe. Any black spots and they are off my edible food chart. H loves them in this stage but he can only do so much by himself. Enter banana nut bread! I have made it before for my cake-in-a-jar attempts but that was a while ago. Searched and found this recipe at which had hundreds of reviews and several suggestions. I followed most of those and got a here-this-minute-gone-the-next kind of recipe! You can assume that I had to struggle to get even this last piece to take a picture! Kick off your holiday season with this very comforting bread. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Happy Thanksgiving!

In The Mix
white sugar - 1 1/2 cups (add 1/2 cup more if you prefer it more sweet)
brown sugar - 2 cups
shortening - 1 cup
eggs - 3
ripe bananas - 2 mashed (over ripe gives the best results)
all purpose flour - 3 cups
buttermilk - 1 1/4 cups
baking soda - 1 1/2 tsp
baking powder - 1 1/2 tsp
vanilla extract - 1 tsp
chopped walnuts - 1/2 cup or less (optional )

How To Do
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Take the sugars and shortening in a bowl and beat for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and beat well after each. Instead of mashing beforehand I just added the bananas at this time in small pieces and gave it a good beat to mix it all together. This won't work if the bananas are not over ripe. Then you do have to mash. Add buttermilk and vanilla and use a whisk from this point to combine. Add in flour, baking powder and soda. Stir in nuts now. I didn't because none of us like nuts in the soft texture. I liked one idea that said to sprinkle some on the top of the bread along with sugar to give it a twist. Didn't try it this time though. Pour the batter into 2 greased 9x5 inch pans. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a fork inserted into the middle returns clean.

Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes. Dump out onto a platter and try to get at least one piece before all that soft moist goodness disappears while you watch!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Meat Ball Curry

"What in the world?" you might say. Could it be that our recently turned health advocate is posting this obviously loaded recipe, trying to pass it off as healthy? I get it, I get it. Still, what I am about to tell you just might boggle the mind. Or not!  as my son says to most anything lately:-) By the way, middle school can be tricky and I am glad he is managing well so far.

There is no concrete evidence, but based on the different cuisines I have tried after coming here I would say the Indian curry evolved into its current state through a path that is more medicinal than culinary. If we search long enough there should be many articles attesting to this. Who else in their right mind would dig for a turmeric or ginger root under the ground, then clean, dry and pulverize it just to put a 1/4 tsp or so into what you are cooking unless it's been prescribed as necessary? In most other cuisines the main food itself is the star. Its taste not made obsolete by the presence of overpowering spices. When done in moderation even outsiders will be able to enjoy Indian food. When we go out for lunch from work no one votes for Indian food. The consensus is that the food is so heavy that once you have it you have to go home to sleep instead of going back to work:-) It is slowly changing with all the new awareness on Indian food here through blogs and cooking shows. Those who grew up on Indian food don't really realize this comparative heaviness because from childhood our tastebuds and psyche have been conditioned to acknowledge these flavors as "the food".  The whole enchilada of Indian cooking with spices must have originated from the rich and ancient ayruvedic/medicinal traditions that India has which first trickled into and later flooded mainstream cooking. I can proselytize all I want but when the taste bud is looking for authentic Indian taste it will not bow down to the milder versions that easily.

So how does this help? Since I have established that it is medicinal rather than culinary, spicy really means healthy and therefore good for you:-) Good. eh? It is the chili, oil and salt that you need to be careful about and everything else is fair game unless you have specific allergies. So when my son's friend's Mom from Tamilnadu talked about her awesome meatball curry I didn't have to put the thought aside with regret because of this enlightenment.. This meatball curry also appears in a cookbook (Veettammakkoru Kaithoozhi)  by Sr. Dolores Kannampuzha that my HMom had sent long ago. I followed my friend's recipe as well as the book to get where we are. The red meat in question falls into the eat in moderation category and keeping it there is what enabled us to go for this with glee.

In The Mix

For The Meatballs
ground beef - 1 lb.
red onion - 1 medium sized
ginger - 1 " piece
green chili - 5
cinnammon, cardamom, cloves powder mixed in equal measures  - 1/2 tsp
egg - 1
bread crumbs - little less than 1/2 cup

For the Gravy

medium red onion - 1 sliced
ginger - 1" piece sliced thin
green chili  sliced in rounds - 2 or more as needed
curry leaves - 1 sprig
coriander powder - 4 to 5 tbsp
turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp (what did i say?)
black pepper powder - 1 tsptomato - 1 medium diced
potatoes - 1 big cubed small
coconut milk - 1 cup from can diluted with 1.5 to 2 cups of water
warm milk - 3/4 cup
salt - as needed (1 tsp is all it took!)

 How To do
Chop the ginger, chili and onion for meatball finely in a chopper or by hand. Add to the ground meat in a bowl. Break the egg into this and mix all together. Add in the powders,  bread crumbs, salt and combine. Now roll into small balls the size of gooseberries and keep aside.

For the gravy, heat oil in a pan and add onion, ginger, green chili, curry leaves and saute well. Add curry  powders and 1/4 cup water to mix all together. Add diced tomatoes and saute for a while. Now add potatoes and saute together in medium to low heat.

Once the aroma starts rising add diluted coconut milk and salt as needed. Remember to be done with all your stirring needs by now as we don't want to upset the applecart once those delicate balls are added. Add more hot water at this stage if needed and boil everything. Once you are ready for the deed and identified enough space in the gravy to add meatball, start doing just that. Add the balls gently and one by one. If you need to combine the balls don't use a spoon. Rotate the pan on its handles as needed. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until meat balls and potatoes are cooked. Now add the warm milk and gently boil before removing from heat. Of course give it a small whirl to get all mixed up well. Pour over hot soft rice and dig in! I haven't tried it but it must be good company for our Appam. Hmm..  Yum..Maybe next time.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Unsolicited Advice And A Rice Dish

Hiya folks! It is time for some recipe posts instead of excuses. But first things first...

Salt is slowly re-entering our diet which of course is a welcome situation as I was sharing the 100% no-salt diet in solidarity with my BP sufferer of a husband. It was an eye-opener in many ways. Without the all-encompassing taste of salt we tasted food in its natural form. The main diff was when tasting roasted unsalted nuts and unsalted canned items. Once when we had visitors I made salted and unsalted canned tuna cutlets. After they left, the salted version sat with no takers for a while because we were busy devouring the unsalted beauties! Only caveat is that the unsalted version is a tad bit more expensive. Papadams are the one vice I can't do without and I hear it is loaded with salt. My husband's weakness fortunately is the mackerel which is endowed with ample salt in its natural form! Sure enough we baked quite a few mackerels and now have graduated to frying them gently. Always after marinating them salt free.

We also developed a habit of reading the fine-print for sodium intake and measuring our salt carefully when cooking. It does make a world of difference both in taste and health. As we get older our taste buds need
a burst of flavor to feel anything (see our parents for living examples) and if we are already using a fair amount of salt, this will only go up as time passes since our tongue is aspiring for the same taste as before.  So from now on instead of 'salt to taste' I am going for 'only as needed':-) Always use sea salt if available since that contains less amount of sodium. Potatoes are a good source of potassium which gets lowered when sodium levels skyrocket. If possible do not take any vitamin supplements in tablet form, natural or not. Natural fish oil tablets could be an exception but then  it has to be low in Mercury. All of these are big concerns here in the US because people have been consuming processed food for a long time now. It is slowly changing but healthier means more expensive and could be a while till the good old habits take root again.

Our dish today is very similar to this vermicelly pulau and way easier since you can turn plain leftover rice into a bonafide dinner in no time. Having exhausted our tasty but loaded biriyani dinners I was looking for an alternative lately. That is when the thought bubbled up. Why not fancy up our simple mixed veggie with rice concoction to a pulau/fried rice format? From then on it was smooth sail. Small cooked shrimp and eggs are effortless and well used additions to give taste and flavor.

 The real beauty is that you don't have to watch out for exact measurements in this dish and  you will still achieve fairly good results. Except of course for the salt, which you better watch out and don't say I didn't tell you when you or a family member succumbs to BP, diabets or cholesterol. They are all connected in a way and when you battle one you are battling all. In my brother's words "you have to treat the whole body and mind of the patient regardless of the disease". Did you know that some BP meds can cause sugar levels to go high? How many of you knew that sugar gets converted to triglycerides, spiking up those cholesterol levels? Keep away from refined sugar and go back to the good old brown sugar if you dare:-) I have dared and now can't really tolerate the pure white refined sugar in my coffee or tea.

Once you start watching out for one thing the rest will follow and life will be good. Of course I am not a doc and the only advice I can give that is worth its salt is to do whatever it is that you need to keep stress levels down in your life. Regardless of what it is that you do, be content with it. This is the secret to true happiness
and a healthier life. Think Sidhartha and what he discovered at the end.

Before you raise eyebrows at all the unsolicited dictum that I am churning out today, let us safely ride back to today's recipe. Remember Galileo Galilee who muttered under his breath "but it is really round", after confessing loudly that the earth is flat to avoid excommunication from the Church? I stop here but I hope you hear me muttering "if not for the sake of health, then for the sake of taste start watching what you eat". OKKK? Now here is the dish on the dish in the picture.

In The Mix

cooked rice - from 5 cups of raw rice
green beans - cut into small circles (1 or 2 cups)
              why is this easy? because i got fresh cut beans from the nearby indian store!
cauliflower - 1 small head, peeled of leaves, separated and sliced to smaller pieces
carrots     - 2 or 3, peeled and sliced into thin pieces similar to the thickness of the beans.
serano chillies - 3 or 4 or less - cut into thin discs
red onion - 1 medium sized, peeled and diced into small pieces
egg - 2 beaten mildly
small cooked shrimp - 1 cup
curry leaves - 1 or 2 sprigs (this one you can splurge without any worries)

How To Do
Cook the rice as you would cook for biriyani. If you have a japanese rice cooker then just follow
the directions as that always seem to get us the correct state of rice for biriyani. If you have leftover rice, that will do just fine.

In a sauce pan add 1 tsp of oil and add beans, cauliflower and carrots. Sprinkle less than 1/4 tsp of
salt or no salt at all and mix together. Now turn stove to high heat, close the lid and cook for 5-6 minutes. Check once in between and add a tbsp of water or less if it looks like it might burn. Shaking the lifted pan with lid closed is a good way to prevent burning and not to lose the built-up steam inside. Once cooked and still crisp, remove from heat and set aside.
Heat oil in another pan, add rice and urad dal making sure nothing gets burnt. Add green chillies and saute well, and then add the marinated shrimp and saute to a good color. Now add onion and curry leaves and mix all together for a while.

Add in the veggies and mix well. Clear a space in the middle of the pan, add the beaten eggs and cook it scrambled right there. You can do this in a separate pan instead and add back once rice is added if you prefer that. Again mix well together, add the cooked rice and add salt only if you must. Cover and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes so all the flavors combine into the dish. Serve warm with the aforementioned goodiesand you will never know what hit you! Depending on your refrigeration, this dish will stay tasty for quite a few days esp if served with a smacking good raita which we had. I'll elaborate on our raita dish in another post as I think it has its own place. So next time you make a dish and reach for that salt container give it a pause, will ya? Replace salt by adding flavors is what will help you to make the change. Add lemon drops, tomato, cilantro etc to bring out the flavor.

Serve with the awesomely flavorful fish pappas and to the accompaniment of raita and papad and voila, you have a winner! Add some flowers to the table and you are all set. Gerbera daisies rule the world as far as I am concerned and when a beam of the evening sun fell straight on to the vase through our windows I just couldn't resist clicking. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I'd like to use the old adage much water has flown under the bridge for this post of mine. It is still a good one to use for such a case. Our food habits changed drastically and not sure when it will be back or if it ever will. When the number one consumer of my food, my husband, opted not to take salty, spicy, greasy food anymore it did not take me much to join the bandwagon. High BP is the issue and while many have told us low sodium diet does not mean salt free diet we feel prudent in staying without salt due to the BP ridden ancestors on his side of the family. And what a bargain! We cook almost everyday now. The taste of unadulterated fresh prepared food is an experience in itself. Low sodium is probably better than salt free, but in true Gandhari fashion I refuse to touch salt except for sprinkling a little on my rice some of the days. My husband is amazed at my compliance especially since a recent checkup prior to all this gave me a clean bill of health from the usual culprits of BP, cholesterol, sugar and the likes. Since this state of affairs is not sustainable I'll wait a bit more before a food post to see how far we will keep this up and how it will evolve over time.

The pictures are from a nature hike we did during a much wanted few days away from it all. We visited the absolutely beautiful Squaw Valley this summer. There was the clean and shining Lake Tahoe on one side and the beautiful expansive ski mountains (almost alpine) on the other!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fajitas Anyone?

First things first. I am glad India won the World Cup. Truth be told I didn't know about the whole thing until a Srilankan colleague sent a mail offering congratulations. "Congratulations on what?" I asked and he brought out the whole World Cup Cricket enchilada including the semifinals that India had won. Now the snippets of conversations I'd heard around the house and among other Indians began to fall into place! It's been so long but I used to be much interested in Cricket results when Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev ruled the roost.  I even used to sing "one day cricket to the blues" because it sounded like a good replacement for this. Sure I'd heard of the then up and coming Tendulkar and so it gave me a jolt when I read that this will be his last game. And what a fitting end! Anyway just for old times sake  I had told the colleague that we will cream his team and now I can be at work on Monday with a well placed smirk:-) Just kidding, of course he cares more about just watching a good game than who wins and was saying that the Indian team is really good this year and will most likely win. So Congratulations Indian Team! Now let us come back to the subject at hand. Our fajitas.

When the mouse does not go to the mountain, the mountain goes to the mouse! This is what got me to making chicken fajitas. My boy is a picky eater. I have to say his ultimate choices are somewhat healthy so I should not complain. It just makes life a little difficult when none of the existing choices seem to pass muster! Chicken fajitas sounded like something the kids might take to and so I found a few recipes. This recipe was picked based on reviews and I made some changes as always for our needs. The recipe called for a packaged fajita mix which I couldn't find in any stores and so I found another recipe online to make it from scratch. All in all the end result turned out very good and all of us have bought into fajita nights! My girl has not taken to fajitas as much but being a happy little soul she joins in with eating whatever she can from it. The recipe is good for chicken or beef but I have only tried chicken so far which is pretty good already!!

In The Mix

chicken breast - 1 1/2 lbs ( boneless/skinless. breast meat is the secret behind tender & juicy result)

red bell pepper - 1 sliced (julienned if you have time)
green bell pepper - 1 sliced
yellow bell pepper - 1 sliced. i added this for color
yellow sweet onion - 1 sliced
olive oil - 2 tbsp 

flour tortillas - as many as needed (10)  

sour cream or yogurt - 1 cup
diced tomato - 1
salsa - optional ( i buy this fresh and love it)
avocado - optional
cut lettuce - 2 cups 

for the marinade
mc cormick fajita seasoning mix - 5 tsp ( since there was a recall on it none were available and so i used a recipe give below for this mix)
olive oil - 1/8 cup
vinegar - 2 tbsp
lime juice - 1 tbsp
mc cormicks spicy roasted garlic chicken seasoning - 1 1/2 tsp
(i found this seasoning at the store. i think you can use salted garlic powder mixed with crushed chili powder if you don't have this available. didn't use the peppers and since fajita seasoning mix had oregano, i added it there instead of here.)

fajita seasoning mix
cumin powder - 1 1/2 tsp
oregano - 1 tsp
salt - 1/4 tsp
salted garlic powder - 1/4 tsp
chili powder - 1 tsp or more
pepper powder - 1/2 tsp or more
didn't have onion powder. so used 2 shallots sliced circular which is a keeper for this.

How To Do

Preheat oven to 350. Cover the tortillas in aluminum foil and heat for 10 minutes. Turn oven off and keep tortillas in until needed.

Mix all the fajita seasoning ingredients and spoon out what is needed for the marinade. Add the sliced shallots to the marinade. Wash and drain the chicken. Make sure it is sliced into fajita sized pieces. Slice or butterfly to get the desired size. Mix all the marinade ingredients together with the meat. Check salt and sourness to taste and marinate overnight. 

Take grill pan and heat very well so the meat won't stick to the bottom when you add it. You can grill outside if you are up for it. The grill pan works perfectly fine except it can smoke up the house if you need to use it for a second round. Do about 3-4 minutes at the most on each side, remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Mmmm. Yummmm. You will have little boys flying around in anticipation with all that yummy smell. 

Once cooled, slice the chicken into smaller pieces and they are ready to be served. Now on to other accompaniments.

To make the peppers, heat oil in a pan and saute the onions on medium heat. Cook until wilted and add the peppers. Mix well and continue to cook till peppers are wilted and onions are crisp and lightly brown. 

Put all the toppings in separate bowls and get out the warm soft tortillas. Take one tortilla, spread with peppers, chicken, yogurt, salsa or other toppings of your choice. Roll on both sides and dig in!! Be forewarned that you might need a napkin or two to keep the juices from getting away and to keep things clean..

Monday, February 28, 2011

Coconut Chutney for Dosa & Idly

I like seeing a blog entry every month. But normal home life is almost at a standstill with both kids being attacked by the most vicious of the cold and cough bugs going around. Trying to keep work commitments while planning alternate care for 2 kids who got sick one after the other is not fun. Trust me! Things have quietened down a little and so this is a last minute attempt to fill in the blanks with a draft I had for some time.

During  undergrad years most of us stayed on campus hostels but there were a few day-scholars living only a bus ride away. They used to graciously invite us to their homes once in a while to devour the delicious home made food which we were always happy to comply with. Having grown up in a dosa free household I was rather obsessed with dosa. Mainly with the eating of it:-) A lot of the credit for dosa's taste goes to the accompanying chutney in my opinion. Chutneys served in these friends' homes were always super yummy. Much as I tried I could never get a good chutney for my idly and dosa. But recently I did some adjustments to two of Mrs. KMMs chutney recipes and have achieved that taste closure. What is even better is that it is very repeatable. My husband even forgets the odd texture of the idlies - having been made with dosa batter in a hurry - and finishes away a decent bunch with aplomb all because of the power of the chutney. So here it is my beloved readers: a chutney worth making!

In The Mix
grated coconut - 1 cup
green chili - 2
ginger - 1/2" thin piece
shallots - 2 diced once or twice
fresh squeezed lemon juice - 3 tsp
yogurt - 2 tbsp
water - 1/4 cup or more as needed
salt - to taste

for seasoning
olive oil - 2-3 tsp
mustard - 1 tsp
shallot - 1 small thinly sliced
dry red chili - 3 or 4 torn and whole
curry leaves - a sprig or 2

How To Do
In a blender add together the water, yogurt and lemon juice. Add shallots, green chili and ginger and blend once. Add salt and add the coconut. Use ice crusher if using fresh frozen coconut. Grind well for a minute or two. Add salt and water as needed.

Heat oil in a pan and break the mustard seeds. Add sliced shallot, dry red chili and curry leaves. Saute for a minute or two. Add the chutney mix. Mix well, boil once and remove from heat. Eat with idly, dosa or both!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


How about a loaf of fresh baked brioche bread for the 3rd anniversary of this blog space? The time is already into the next day but only just got a chance to sit down here as class projects and recitals are in full swing. 

Once the baking bug bites, even if you are not a gifted baker like spicyana, the desire to bake a loaf of bread starts to take root:-) This happened to me a while ago. I don’t have a bread machine and I had this feeling that making bread will take a lot of work. Confession time….I never make chapatis since I don’t know how to and so kneading is not a natural step for me. I will get to it some day because we do have a base and roller just for the purpose:-) For the moment COSTCO or Indian Grocery stores will do just fine. 

There is one item I always beeline for in the bakery section. Mini Brioche buns. Ummm…Yummmm. So when I saw a recipe that said fast brioche, I printed it out to try whenever I have the time. That time finally came around and I am very pleased with the results. For cosmetics effect, next time I will take the bread out of the oven a little earlier and will not brush so deeply with beaten egg. But the taste of the light and fluffy Brioche is well present beneath the exterior and so it turned out fine..

I think practice make perfect is true especially when baking your loaf of fresh bread. Almost like Appam. Brioche does not need as much flour as regular bread. There is an interesting story about this in Wikipedia. Scroll towards the end of the page. Poor executed Queen Mary Antoinette is always attributed the heartless quip : "let them eat cake" when she was told that the people do not have enough bread to eat. It turns out the mindful lady said "let them eat brioche'.  It takes less flour of course! Unfortunately having no equivalent for brioche the word got turned into cake and look how it changes one's perception of this historic figure…...So here is the recipe which I hope the original site and recipe author will be OK with to reprint here. Slight convenience adjustments as always are present.

In The Mix
all purpose flour - 1 and 2/3 cup
active dry yeast - 3 1/4 tsp
granulated sugar - 3 tbsp
salt - 1/4 tsp
warm milk - 1/3 cup
softened, unsalted butter - 2 3/4 (keep at room temp a few hours earlier to soften)
eggs - 2 beaten

to coat the risen dough
granulated sugar - 1 tbsp or less
egg - 1 beaten

How To Do 

Mix the flour, yeast, 3 tbsp sugar and salt in a bowl. Gradually add in warm milk, butter and the 2 beaten eggs. Knead until the dough is smooth. This is where I am not sure if I did all that was needed. Read kneading disclaimer above..The dough did pull away from the sides after a while and so I hope that was right. The dough felt very flexible. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise. You can go to the Library or finish reading that book while waiting. About 2 hours later or until the dough doubles its size is when the next step starts. Having had no prior experience, I am not sure if my dough got as smooth as it should be. Here is a picture of the risen dough in the bowl.

Grease a 9"x5" pan with baking spray or shortening. I used baking spray due to lack of time but will use my trusty shortening to grease next time. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Coat a cutting board or the likes with flour and move the dough onto it. Punch it down a few times. I divided the dough into 2 equal sized balls instead of 3 to make it quick. Roll each ball into a 10 inch long rope and braid them together. This looked really good! Tuck the ends and place the braid in the greased pan. The dough can also be made into an oval instead of a braid. Looking at the eventual shape of my loaf I should have just done the oval! Cover the pan and let rise for an additional 1 hour. Should double in size again.

The next picture is of the risen dough after the second time. See how the braid lines are already blurring. Using 3 braids as suggested in the original recipe would have given me better definition..

So get the remaining beaten egg and sugar ready. Remove the cover and gently coat the dough with egg  and sprinkle with some sugar. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 25 minutes or until brioche is golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan and move to a cooling rack. Mine didn't stay much on the rack and was halfway finished in no time. The smell of course is wonderful. The feeling even more so! I have good mind to try the regular bread too but I am fascinated by the varieties of french bread for the time being....