Thursday, July 31, 2014

Taking a short break.....

Taking a short break.....off for a vacation.....will be back soon, with recipes n more☺☺

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vegetable Toast Cups

"Vegetable Toast Cups"
Vegetable Toast Cups are wholesome and healthy appetizers made with whole wheat bread and vegetables. Its a great alternative to sandwiches and bread pizza and can be made at a short notice with just a few ingredients.
The best thing about this is that  these are easy to make and you could get your little ones involved in making these too. Usually I keep the chopped veggies along with the cheese ready, while I prepare the muffin tin my lil one is busy mixing the filling....and trust me its fun to work along with kids. Just let them enjoy and fill up the bread cups, sprinkle the shredded cheese. Its a delight looking at them eagerly watching the bread cups bake in the oven....


 Indeed a Kid friendly recipe.....they not only enjoy helping and making these but love too eat them too...

Ingredients

Whole wheat Bread, - 8 slices
Onion, chopped - 1 small
Tomato, de-seeded and chopped - 1 small
Capsicum, chopped - 1/2 cup (I used red and green capsicum)
Black olives, sliced - 1 tablespoon
Green olives, sliced - 1 tablespoon
Mozzarella cheese, shredded - 3 tablespoon + 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Chilli flakes - 1/4th teaspoon
Oregano - 1/8th teaspoon

Preparation

Pre-heat oven on 200°C or 400°F

Method

Trim the sides of the bread, flatten the bread slices using a rolling pin. Butter a muffin tray and press the flattened bread slices into the molds of the muffin tray.





In a large mixing bowl add the chopped onion, tomatoes, capsicums, sliced green and black olives along with 3 tablespoon of  shredded cheese. Add salt, oregano and red chilli flakes, mix well. Divide the filling mixture into 8 equal portions.



Place 1 teaspoon of shredded mozzarella in each of the molded bread cups, place one portion of the mixture in each bread cup. Sprinkle some more shredded cheese over the filling and bake in pre-heated oven for   15 - 18 minutes.




Once done the edges of the bread will turn crisp and golden brown, run a small knife around the mold to loosen the bread cups, remove from mold and serve immediately


Notes:

I have used whole wheat bread but you could use regular white bread also.

For the filling, I have used the most basic ingredients but you are free to use any vegetables of your choice like broccoli,mushrooms, baby corns or you could even use chicken, eggs or sausages for the filling.

Usually muffin tins come in 6 0r 12 cup sizes and if you are baking these in the 12 cup tin then you could alternatively leave 4 of the cups empty. Also avoid the tins that are very thin, as it often tends to burn the muffin.

Well If you are planning to make these with your kids then don't worry much about dividing the filling, just let them randomly fill the cups.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Kheer"


Its been 11 months since I started writing "Spicy Notes" and this is my 100th Post on the blog. A wonderful journey indeed.....thanks to all my lovely readers and followers who have constantly been there and motivated me to do better.
As this is my 100th Post!! it calls for a celebration, and no celebration is complete without something sweet, in Hindi we say "Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye" (Let's have something sweet) The first thing that came to my mind was "Kheer" yes our very own Indian rice pudding, and why not its one sweet dish which is a part of most celebrations across our nation.

"Kheer"
"Kheer" is also known as "Payasam or Payasa" in South India, "Payesh" in Bengal, In many temples Kheer is cooked as and offering to God and  later served as "Prasad" or "Bhog" to devoties. According to legends  the origin of kheer dates back to the days of "Lord Krishna".
Being born and grown up in Kolkatta I have a special connection with the Bengali culture and cuesine and "Kheer" or "Payesh" plays an important role here. It is the first solid food which is given to a child when he or she is almost 6 months old, the ritual is called "Annaprashon". Its an occasion for celebration which is attended by the extended family and friends.
In North India when the bride comes to the bridegrooms house for the first time after marriage there is a function known as "Chauka Cchulai", the newely wed bride would be cooking for the first time in the bridegrooms house and symbolises the official handover of the "Bhandara Keys" (Keys to the pantry or grossery store room)....and "Kheer" is one of the five dishes which she cooks.


"Kheer" is a traditional Indian desert, which is cooked throughout India, an essential dish in many feasts and celebration across regions and relegions. Indian food is as diverse as India itself, hence regional variations in recipes are common and the one that I am about to share is from Northern India. A traditional recipe which has a thick n creamy texture and loaded with dry fruits....

Ingredients

Rice - 1/4th cup
Full cream Milk - 6 cups
Sugar - 1/2 cups
Green Cardamom, powdered - 4
Almonds - 10 - 12
Pistachios - 12 - 14
Cashew - 6-8
Raisins - 1 tablespoon

Method

Clean and wash rice until the water is clear. Soak rice in water for 45 minutes to an hour. Once the rice is soaked well and has softened crush the rice into small pieces.



Heat milk in a heavy bottom pan, once the milk comes to a boil add powdered cardamom, reduce heat and let it simmer on low flame for 8-10 minutes.



Add rice, stir and let the rice cook in milk, keep checking and stir the rice ocassionally to avoid the formation of any lumps. This will also avoid the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Keep scraping the dried milk from the side of the pan and add to the milk in the pan.


While the kheer is cooking, blanch the almonds and pistachios, and chop them.( please see notes below for blanching ). Slit the Cashew into halves.



Once the rice is almost done, and the milk starts to thicken add the chopped nuts mix well and add the sugar. When you add sugar, the sugar melts and the kheer becomes a bit runny but don't worry, continue cooking and stir ocassionaly. This is the most critical time as once you add sugar there are chances that the kheer will stick to the bottom of the pan, so be alert. Very important don't forget to scrape the dried milk on the sides of the pan and keep adding it to the pan.




By now the kheer would also thicken, add the raisins, mix well and turn off the flame.



Pour the kheer into individual servings, garnish with some chopped almonds and pistachios and enjoy it hot, warm or even cold.


Notes:

I have used Basmati rice for making the Kheer, hence had to break it, by doing so the rice will cook faster and the kheer will have a thick creamy consistency. However if you use small grain rice, the result would be the same.

For this Kheer recipe I have used full cream milk as we want the kheer to be thick and creamy, but if you want you could use lowfat milk too.

Please note that the kheer will thicken up even after you turn off the flame so I suggest that you turn off the flame before it reaches the desired consistency.

Blanching - Is a process of cooking in which the fruit or vegetable and in this case Almonds and pistachios are put into hot boiling water, for a very short time, removed and put into ice cold water or under running water to stop the cooking process.
When we blanch Almonds and Pistachios, the skin becomes soft and can be easilly removed.

I have blanched the nuts in the microwave as it is very easy and comes handy.
Put the almonds in a microwave safe bowl, add enough water so its well immersed and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.




Pistachio has a softer skin as compared to almonds so you can microwave for 90 seconds to 2 minutes on high.














Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nachni or Ragi Dosa

"Nachni or Ragi Dosa"
Dosa is a traditional breakfast dish from Southern India,these are typically made with a batter consisting of rice and lentil . Rice and lentil are soaked and then ground to a fine paste allowed to ferment and then used to make dosa.

This traditional breakfast has a number of variations, like the Rava dosa, Mix lentil dosa , Wheat Dosa, Oats cheela etc. and one such variation is the Nachni or Ragi dosa. Nachni or Ragi as it is commonly known in India is basically Finger Millet. It is rich in protein, calcium, high in fiber, rich in iron making it one of the most healthy whole grains. Though a healthy grain, but it should be consumed in moderation and is not suitable for people suffering from kidney stones.

This recipe of Nachini Dosa is what I had learnt from a friend of mine who comes from Karnataka a Southern state of India. Its a fermented batter recipe, though you need to plan in advance and does take some time to prepare the but the dosas are worth the effort This crispy dosa is an healthy breakfast option which can be served along with chutney and sambhar.


Ingredients

Ragi flour - 1 cup
Rice - 1 cup
Split Urad Dal - 1/2 cup
Poha - 1/4th cup
Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Water - 1/2 cups
Oil to roast the dosa

Method

Clean and soak rice for 4-5 hours. Add the fenugreek seeds to the urad dal and soak for 4-5 hours.


Wash the poha under running water, drain and keep aside. Drain the soaked rice and grind it into a smooth paste along with soaked poha and 3-4 tablespoon of water. Transfer into a large mixing bowl and keep aside.




Drain the urad dal and fenugreek seeds and grind itno a smooth paste using little water. Once done, add it to the rice paste. Add a tablespoon or two of water and remove any batter that is stuck on to the sides of the grinding jar. Keep this liquid aside.




Add the ragi flour along with salt to the rice and urad dal batter and mix really well, ensuring that there are no lumps.
Add the water that we had kept aside. If you feel that the batter is very thick then adjust the consistency by adding a little water at a time. Cover the mixing bowl with a lid or cling film and let the batter ferment over night or at least for 8-9 hours.

 



Once the batter has fermented overnight it will almost double up and small little air bubbles will also appear,
  


Heat a tawa or griddle, pour a ladle of batter and quickly spread the dosa with the back of the ladle moving it in a circular motion, working outwards from the center.
Drizzle some oil on the edges and  and let it cook from one side, once the dosa is done and the edges start to curl, fold the dosa over and remove from the tawa.





Serve hot and crispy ragi dosa along with chutney coconut chutney or tomato chutney and sambhar.


 Notes:

Make sure that the batter is well ferment, usually if you leave it over night in a warm place it ferments well but if you live in a cold place then it might get difficult.
In that case you could either place the batter in a casserole, or what I prefer to do is warm a cup of water in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, remove the water, turn off the power supply and place the covered batter in the microwave and leave it overnight. The batter gets fermented well.

I have made these dosas on a regular tawa, and have started by putting a teaspoon of oil on the tawa and have spread it using a wet cloth, then have poured the batter and spread it. By doing so the dosa comes out crispy and nice and it does not stick to the tawa also.











Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cheese Stuffed Vegetarian Rice Balls

Cheese Stuffed Vegetarian Rice Balls as the name suggests, rice balls stuffed with cheese rolled in bread crumb and deep fried. These rice balls have multiple layers and are bursting with flavor,it has a cheesy core covered with a layer of seasoned soft rice and vegetables and finally the crispy outer layer.

"Cheese Stuffed Vegetarian Rice Balls"


There are numerous methods of making rice balls, some make it with the sticky rice, with powdered rice, sometimes steamed or even boiled. The one which I am about to share is inspired by the Italian Arancini....these are stuffed rice balls coated with breadcrumb and deep fried. It typically consists of meat in tomato sauce, rice and mozzarella. 


However, my recipe is very simple and easy to make using leftover rice. You can serve them as an appetizer for a get together or enjoy them as a teatime snack. The best think about these are that you can make them beforehand and freeze, they remain well for 4-5 days, fry them as and when needed and enjoy.
Ingredients

Rice, cooked - 1 cup
Carrot, grated - 1/2 cup
Green bell pepper, finely chopped - 1/4th cup
Green olive, chopped - 1 tablespoon
Black olive, chopped - 1 tablespoon
Pickled jalapenos, de-seeded and chopped - 1 tablespoon
Mixed Italian Herbs - 1/2 teaspoon
Crushed black pepper - 1/4th teaspoon
White sesame seeds - 1 teaspoon (optional)
Mozzarella Cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes - 12 -14 pcs
Fine bread crumb - 2 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

For outer coating 

Corn flour - 3 tablespoon
Water - 1/4 cup
Bread crumb - 1 cup

Method

In a large mixing bowl place the cooked rice, grated carrot, chopped green bell pepper. Add the chopped green and black olives along with the mixed herbs, crushed black pepper, sesame seeds and salt. Mix well.




Add the bread crumb and form a dough. (I had used around 2 tablespoon of breadcrumb to make a firm dough, but you may alter the quantity as required). Divide the dough into 12-14 equal portions.





Take one portion of the rice and vegetable mixture, place it on your palm and flatten it making a small depression in the center. Place one small cheese cube at the center, cover and roll it into a ball. Ensure that the cheese cube is well covered. Repeat the same process to make the remaning rice balls.




Once all the rice balls are made prepare the corn flour and water wash by mixing corn flour and water in a bowl, place the breadcrumb in a shallow plate alongside. Now dip the rice ball in the corn flour wash, transfer coated rice balls into bread crumb and quickly roll over ensuring that the balls are well coated with breadcrumb. Repeat same process for the remaining rice balls. Keep aside. 





Heat sufficient oil in a kadhai, carefully slide the rice balls one at a time into the hot oil, deep fry until golden brown. Drain with a slotted spoon and keep on absorbent paper.




Serve hot along with any dip or ketchup of your choice. 


Enjoy :)