Monday, 22 February 2010

Strawberry and Oatmeal Squares

The Great Book of Chocolate

Last couple of weeks all I have been thinking about was baking; baking something that would last quite a long while and something that shouldn’t be eaten to prevent it from getting spoiled. So, I thought of baking some cookies. It will gratify my baking temptation and will last quite long as well. So I Started googling and googling, stumbled upon many scrumptious cookies, but when it come to the ingredients, I would be missing one of a few ingredients. So I approached my all time favourite cooking guide, for help. I went through the cookies and shortbreads and finally was all set to bake these Bars. Well, again I didn’t have all the ingredients mentioned in the recipe, so I have to adjust myself with the available ingredients. The recipe I followed was that of Raspberry Oatmeal Bars. I didn’t have raspberry Jam, so I ended up using strawberry jam.

I guess the change in the ingredients must have not made a big deal in here. Whatever it is, the result was an awesome cookie full of richness on its own. The Strawberry Oatmeal Bar had three layers- a rich buttery bottom layer layered with sweet strawberry jam and then a crumbled oatmeal crust. The bottom layer was slightly chewy and the crust was crispy. It very well complimented with the sweet Strawberry Jam. But one thing what I would like to put in notice is the sugar level in the bars. May be my strawberry jam was a bit too sweet, the bars were slightly on the sweeter side. So, You may reduce the sugar level slightly if need be, but if you are using tangy jams or preserves like raspberry or blueberry you may use the full amount of sugar as mentioned in the recipe. It’s all up to you, how sweet you like your bars to be.

Strawberry and Oatmeal Squares
Recipe adapted from:


Oatmeal Base:
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup plain granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (Maida)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats, divided
1 cup Strawberry jam or preserves (homemade or store bought)

Preparation:1.Preheat oven to 175 degrees C and place rack in center of oven. Butter (or use a non stick cooking spray) a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan. Set aside.

For the Oatmeal Base:
1. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 - 3 minutes).

2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix using a wooden or steel spoon until well combined.

4. Stir in 1 3/4 cup of the rolled oats. Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.

5. Spread the strawberry jam (preserves) over the oatmeal base.The jam will be just enough to form a thin coating over the base.

6. To the remaining dough add the remaining 1/4 cup of rolled oats.

7. Crumble this mixture evenly over the top of the strawberry jam. Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes or until nicely browned. Let it cool completely and then cut into squares. Makes about 16 - 2 inch squares.

These are best if made the day before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
1. Make sure you cut the bars once they are well cooled, else it will be difficult to cut them since jam will be too soft and wobbly and you wont get perfect squares. Let the jam cool and set, bofore slicing.
2. Since I dint not have a 9 x 9 Pan, I used a 9 x 12 glass pyrex dish,but filled accordingly almost 3/4 of the pan.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Rogan Josh (A North Indian Mutton Curry)

Rogan josh is a very popular North Indian curry dish that goes very well with naan, be it butter naan , plain naan or even coriander and garlic infused naan. I thought it was well paired with garlic and coriander naan we get here in the super markets. The curry was slightly towards the spicier side due to the addition of chilli powder and whole chillies. I have used Kashmiri Chilli powder here which is mildly spiced, to suit my family’s palette. So if you are using the regular chillies, you may reduce them as your per taste.

I adapted this recipe from a book (Futura Pressure Cooker Book) and followed the ingredients and measurements as such, but halving the amount. The curry was good and went well with naans. I served this curry for our friends when they came over. “The curry is tasty and it has a North Indian flavour”, was the response of my friend who visited me that day. I have tried few versions of Rogan josh before and so far this recipe is the best. Normally before cooking any food, I do a bit of research and compare few recipes to see if they are all same or some-what same. When I researched on the net for this recipe, I found out all of them are more or less the same, so followed the recipe in the book as such. I thought it tasted quite different from the Rogan Josh that we get in many restaurants. Well, you don’t get a Rogan josh that tastes the same in all restaurants!!!Every restaurant has their own unique taste for all the curries that is so very different from other restaurants; but the same name!!This curry is also quite similar to the recipe of Madhur Jeffrey, but she uses powdered spices instead of the whole ones. The list of ingredients might seem like a never ending story, but believe me, it's easy.

½ Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ Tbsp poppy seeds
8 almonds
2 brown cardamoms
½ tsp peppercorns
2 cloves
2 Tbsp freshly grated coconut
1-3 Whole dry Kashmiri Chillies (Soaked in 1/3 cups of hot water for 15 minutes,water drained and reserved)
10g ginger (1 cm thick piece)
4 large flakes of garlic
A large pinch of grated nutmeg
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
1 cm piece of cinnamon
3 green cardamoms crushed
1 medium (135g) onion grated
1 medium tomato (100g) chopped
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ Tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1/3 cup (5 Tbsp) Curd, beaten (I used low fat Greek yogurt)
600g-650g Mutton shoulder cut into 4 cm pieces
¾ cup water
½ tsp garam masala
salt- as required
1.In a pan roast together coriander, cumin and poppy seeds, almonds, brown cardamoms, pepper corns, cloves and coconut for a couple of minutes on medium heat.

2. Grind this to smooth paste along with ginger, garlic, nutmeg and soaked chillies, adding from time to time a little water (1/3 cup) in which chillies were soaked.

3. Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add bay leaf, cinnamon and green cardamoms. Stir for few seconds. Add onion and stir fry till golden brown. Add ground paste, chopped tomatoes, turmeric and chilli powders. Stir.

4. Add 1 Tablespoon curd. Stir fry until curd is well blended (approximately ½ minute). Add remaining curd in the same way, a tablespoon at a time, till all curd is used. Stir fry until oil shows separately. (about 3 minutes).

5. Add mutton and salt. Stir fry mutton until slightly browned and has become slightly firm. Add water and stir.

6. Close the pressure cooker and bring to full pressure on high heat. Reduce heat and cook till done. It may take anywhere from 10-25 minutes depending on the size of mutton pieces and the type of pressure cooker.

7. Remove cooker from heat and allow to cool naturally. Sprinkle the garam masala and stir. Serve hot with naan. You may try the curry with chappathi, rice or other breads.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Date and Coconut Fritters

Date fritters is quite a common evening snack. Similar to our kerala’s favourite Ethakka Porichathu/Pazham porichathu /Plantain fritters, delicious fritters can be made using dates as well. Here is a slightly different version of date fritters. Date is pitted, mashed and is then mixed with freshly scraped coconut. This recipe is taken from ‘Vanitha cookbook’. Since I am an ardent fan of coconut I have increased (doubled) the amount of coconut in the recipe. Original recipe calls for ¼ cup of coconut. Apart from this coconutty version of date fritters, scrumptious date fritters can also be made by pitting the dates and replacing the stone by nuts like almonds and cashew nuts. No mashing or mixing is involved there. It’s simply yum and one of my all time favourites. My mom makes these kind of fritters mainly during Ramadan, for Iftar.

1 cup pitted dates
½ cup freshly grated coconut
½ cup plain flour
½ cup water
¼ tsp salt
Oil for deep frying (vegetable or coconut)

1. Mash the pitted dates using a fork or a potato masher, or simply using hand until

2. Add coconut and mix well until well combined. Make small lemon size balls from the date mixture and flatten them using the palm in the shape of patties or flat cutlets. Make them as small or big as you wish.Keep them aside.

3.To make the batter, add salt to the flour and mix well. Add water and mix using a spoon or a strong baloon whisk to get a thick consistency batter. Make sure the batter is free from lumbs.

4. Heat a wok half filled with oil. When hot enough, dip the date patties in the batter and deep fry in the oil till golden. (Dont over heat the oil, just do the frying part on medium heat.)Serve with hot tea.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Ghee Rice with Vegetables

Ghee rice with vegetables is something that I tried sometime back. It is the regular ghee rice that we make, but I tweaked in some veggies to make it slightly healthy. It goes well with the Mutton Buhari I posted earlier. In many families, especially children (and sometimes adults), are very reluctant when it comes to eating vegetables. The best ways to make them eat vegetables are adding some vegetables to their favourite dish. If for little ones, try chopping them fine. This rice can simply served with curd, pickle and pappad as well.


3 cups Basmati rice
6 Cups water (Refer notes)
½ cup chopped onion (3/4 of a medium size onion)
1 cup diced carrot (1 medium size)
1 cup beans cut into small rings
½ Tbsp Cumin seeds (Jeerakam)
6 cardamoms
7 cloves
2-3 small pieces of cinnamon sticks
3-7 Tbsp Vegetable oil (See notes)
1 Heaped Tbsp Clarified butter/ Desi Ghee (See notes)
Salt – as required

1.Wash the rice in several times to remove the starch, place it in a colander to remove all the water.

2. In a large, heavy base non-stick saucepan heat vegetable oil and ghee. When hot, add sliced onion and sauté just until soft and translucent. (Don’t let the onions turn golden or brown since it will effect the colour and flavour of the rice).

3. Add in the cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks and sauté for a brief time, just until the aroma comes out.

4. Add in the chopped vegetables (Make sure it is completely moisture free; else use the kitchen towel to remove the excess moisture) and sauté for five minutes until the vegetables are coated in flavour infused oil.

5. Add in the rice and stir fry for another 5 minutes.

6. Add boiling water and salt and mix well. Let it boil in HIGH HEAT until almost all the water is evaporated. Stir a couple of times in between.

7. When you see no more water at the bottom of the saucepan, Close the lid tightly and cook on VERY LOW heat for 10-15 minutes or till done.

1. You may use all ghee instead of mixing oil and ghee. You may use as little as you may wish or increase the amount. Normally in ghee rice, quite lot of ghee is added to bring that delicious aroma. But when it comes to the healthy thoughts, I always substitute a major portion with vegetable or coconut oil. In this recipe I have used a heaped tablespoon of ghee and 3 table spoon of vegetable oil. I have used very much less than what is required.

2. In step 4, you can add vegetables along with rice and sauté for a good 8-10minutes on medium heat until all the rice and vegetables are coated with oil.

3. Another important thing to note is if you are planning to soak the rice, wash the rice well until you get clear water, and the starch is all washed out. Soak it for ½ - 1 hour. Use 1 ½ cup of water for 1 cup of rice if you are soaking the rice. So for this recipe you will need 4 ½ cups of water.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Mutton Buhari (A Kerala style Mutton Curry) and a Prize!

Before going to the recipe , let me share a little good news!Last week, I got an email notifying that My blog is the winner of last week’s Foodie blogroll Tote Bag Giveaway!. How good is that?! A free Tote bag!I love bags of any sort and can’t just wait myself to get hold of another one. I am sure it would become really handy. You can find the details of the competition here .
Thank you Foodie blogroll!

The Foodie Blog Roll Contests: Winner!

Coming to the recipe,Mutton Buhari is a simple Kerala style mutton curry prepared in a very simple way. If you are wondering why this simple curry is called Buhari, Let me explain. Whenever I prepare this curry, my hubby says that the curry tastes like the one he had from the ‘Hotel Buhari’ after his university days! That’s it!

1 Kg Mutton/lamb/Goat meat cut into chunks
3 medium size onions chopped (3 cups,450g)
1 ¾ Tbsp minced ginger (2” size, 40g)
1 ¾ Tbsp minced garlic
4 small- medium tomatoes chopped (1 ½ cups, 260g)
2 Tbsp Kashmiri Chilli powder
1 ½ Tbsp Coriander powder
½ tsp Turmeric powder
½ tsp + ½ tsp garam masala
½ cup water
2 twigs curry leaves
Salt – as required.

1. Place a pressure cooker onto medium heat and add oil. When hot, add the sliced onions and sauté until it starts turning golden.

2. Add minced ginger and garlic and sauté for few seconds up to a minute or until the raw smell fades.

3. Add chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and ½ tsp garam masala and sauté for few seconds.

4. Add in chopped tomatoes. Cover and cook till soft and the whole mixture looks pulpy. At this point you will see the oil has started clearing from sides. Stir in between to avoid burning.

5. Add the meat and stir well. Add water and pressure cook for 35 minutes or until done. The cooking time depends on the kind of meat and the size.

6. If there is too much of liquid, boil until it is reduced to thick gravy. Make it as thick or thin as desired.

7. Add curry leaves and the remaining bit of garama masala. Stir well. Close the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Serve it along with Ghee rice, ghee rice with vegetables, simple boiled rice, chappathis, pooris,Neypathal, kalathappam, parattas, pathiri, Ottil pollichathu, marichedutha appam etc. You can find most of the mentioned accompaniments in my blog. This is a gravy that goes with almost anything and definitely a keeper.

Notes: If using the mutton form India, it doesn’t require so much pressure cooking time and the cooking can be done on a normal heavy base saucepan, preferably non-stick.

Next post: Ghee rice with vegetables, a twist to the classic Ghee rice.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Rava Idly and Kashmiri Chilli Chammanthi

Hello everyone,
I know it’s been some time now that I didn’t feed my blog anything. There are too many excuses if you wanna know why. First of all, I was just in a lazy mood all these while and dint feel like blogging. I am also trying to change the outlook of my blog with a better template and got lost in search of it! You can see the outcome of my blog with another template that I thought looked good, but after fixing it to my blog, I feel this is not the one for me. Don’t know. I might change again. Is there any opinion from you readers on how my blog looks now? As I told you I am just so confused. Apart from that, I got all busy in packing and cleaning while we shifted to our new place. Yes, we shifted again this weekend to a new place, a very lovely place. Still, majority of unpacking is left to do and I got to organize things around, woooh!

Anyways, this time, I am posting the recipe for a simple breakfast dish – Rava Idly, a faster, easier and a mess free recipe for you. As many of you would know, when it comes to our normal idlys, they are soft lentil dumplings that are steam cooked. The process involves soaking of lentils and rice separately and then grinding them and mixing the ground batter and fermenting it. It may take several hours for the batter to get fermented. It also takes quite a bit of time and patience comparing to these Rava Idlis.

Rava idly’s on the other hand is very different from the traditional idly by all means - ingredient wise and method wise. It involves no grinding and no fermenting. So basically, this dish can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? The recipe uses all the ingredients commonly found in your pantry and I am just so glad that I found this recipe and more than happy to share it with you. I have seen it at different places on the blog and in the books, but it was Poornima’s simple recipe that struck me. I tried her recipe several times and everytime I made, it came out just perfect. Soft and spongy and the light tartness that comes from the curd was just scrumptious. And SShhh, these are my first idlys. Even though I wrote about the authentic idlys I never made them....hehe...I just saw my mom making them. We are not big fans of regular idlys, but this one with semolina, we just love it.
You may have them with ‘Sambar’, chutney, Chammanthy or even any spicy curry. I normally serve with Red chilli Chammanthy, just because that is the easiest accompaniment and takes no time..

1 cup fine Rava/ semolina/sooji
1 1/3 cup curd
1/2 - 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 twig curry leaves chopped
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon Urad Dal
1-3 green chillies sliced into rounds
1/2 tsp baking soda (not baking powder)
4 - 6 table spoons water.

1. In a saucepan, heat oil, splutter mustard seeds and urad dal. When the mustard crackle and urad dal turns golden, add chopped curry leaves and chillies. Sauté for few seconds.

2. Add Rava and saute for 3-5 minutes in medium flame until lightly coloured.

3. Take it off the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.

4. Stir in salt and baking soda. Add curd just before making the idlys and add required water to make smooth batter.

5. Lightly oil the idly pans or mould using a kitchen towel and pour the batter halfway in the moulds and steam for 10 – 12 minutes or until firm. Serve warm with Red Chilli and coconut chammanthi. Recipe follows.

Coconut and Whole Kashmiri Chilli Chammanthi

1 cup freshly grated coconut (tightly packed)
4-6 seeded Dried Kashmiri Red Chilli (leave seeds in if you like it real spicy, I normally discard them to retain mildness)
2 large clove of garlic
A small piece of ginger
1-2 Tbs coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 small twig curry leaves
½ tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste
Water- as required

1. Soak the Chilli in hot water until it softens, for around 10 minutes. Grind coconut along with ginger, garlic and soaked chillies with sufficient water to grind into slightly chunky coconut paste. Add salt and mix well.

2. In a small Karahi/Kadai/wok, heat oil. Splutter mustard seeds and add the leaves. When they begin to crackle (it takes only few seconds), add the flavour infused oil to the ground coconut mixture.

This chammanthy is delicious with dosa, idli and Vada.

Tip: If you are using frozen coconut, let them thaw before grinding to avoid lumps. You may thaw them in the microwave or add some hot water while grinding. Take care not to add boiling water, or it may damage your grinder.
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