Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sencholam Dosai

With a new found love for millets and while the enthusiasm lasted, I purchased a variety of millets, during my last visit home. I have been using them regularly and the possibilities seem endless. Those were days my mother and her maid were willing to experiment anything in her kitchen; my father's clients would bring for us some harvest from their farming lands and millets were cultivated widely around our area.
My mother often made these dosais and kuzhi paniyaarams and sometimes roasted, powdered and mixed in ghee porimaavu. When I was trying to cut down rice and switch partly to millets, I asked her for a few recipes. This dosai is one, she told me, that she made quite often; with the same batter, with a little more fermentation, it was possible to make kuzhipaniyaaram  with cholam. It works in my favour to grind one batter and make two dishes. Now with refrigeration, I hold the second dish off, for a day or two longer. It is so easy to grind the batter, whenever you are grinding for idli or dosa with rice and urad dhal, replace half the quantity of the par boiled rice with great millet/ shorgum which is sencholam in Tamil language.

I was picking up millets at my regular grocer's back home, in Namakkal, I asked for the ven cholam which is white and husk removed. The shop assistant, an elderly man who knows me for long, chided me and said while looking for healthy options, I should go totally, all the way. He packed me a kilo of the red variety of shorgum. The crepes and the kuzhipaniyaarams have a beautiful light red colour and that is quite appealing.

Sola Dosai - Jowar Dosa - Crepes with Great Millet/ Shorgum

Makes 15 crepes
1 1./2 cup parboiled, idli rice
1 1/2 cup shorgum/ great millet/ sivappu cholam
3/4 cup urad dhal
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
Salt to taste
Oil for drizzling over the crepes

Wash and rinse thoroughly the rice and soak in water for about three hours.
At the same time, pick, wash in few changes of water the cholam. Soak separately in water for three hours.
Soak the fenugreek seeds separately.
Half an hour before grinding, wash and soak the urad dhal.
I use my wet grinder to grind the batter. You may use a heavy duty mixer grinder to grind also.
First, drop the fenugreek seeds in and grind them for a little while until they are very frothy.
Drain and add the urad dhal. Grind to a fluffy batter adding little water in increments. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Now grind the rice and cholam together adding sufficient water to a smooth batter.
Transfer to the mixing bowl and add the salt.
Mix well and allow the batter to ferment to about eight hours. Overnight fermentation is recommended.
Before preparing the dosai, give the fermented batter a thorough stir turning it well.
Heat an iron griddle or a non stick dosa tawa.
Pour the a ladle full of batter and spread it in a circle which is about 20 centimetres in diameter and 2 millimetres thick.
Drizzle a spoon of oil around the sides. Cook over a medium flame until the underside is done.
Flip to the other side, add oil if  necessary and cook this side also well. Remove from the griddle and place on the serving plates.
Serve hot with tomato and onion chutney and coriander chutney, milagai podi or plain coconut chutney. Choice is yours.
This makes a filling breakfast, a light night dinner choice and if made in small cute sizes can be packed in your kids' lunch boxes too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kummelweck Rolls -We Knead to Bake 26

This month, the assignment for the We Knead to Bake - Bread Baking Group, is a simple savoury bread.The challenge Aparna put us was to show what we make out of the rolls because making them  was a simple task by itself.
The sprinkling of sea salt and caraway seeds makes this bread roll special and different. 'Kummel means caraway seeds and 'weck'  means roll in the native language of the origin of this bread, which points to Germany. These are hard rolls, much like the crusty Kaiser roll, but sprinkled with caraway seeds and coarse sea salt. They are used to make a special sandwich called 'Beef on Weck' in Buffalo in New York. Thinly sliced and cooked rare roast beef and horseradish are sandwiched and typically served with fries and dill pickle.
 The recipe given below makes 8 burger size rolls while I made half the recipe and made 4 of them.  For the added challenge, I made a potato patties with paneer burji filling and served as a sandwich with layered mint chutney, patty, sliced cucumber and tomatoes.

Kummelweck (Kimmelweck) Rolls

(Adapted from

Makes 8 burger size rolls, can be halved to make 4

2 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
2 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg white (optional) (I simply added little more water)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour (or all purpose flour + 1 tablespoon Vital Wheat Gluten)
Egg wash (optional) (anything that will help the caraway seeds and salt to stick/ I brushed with little cream)
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Caraway seeds for sprinkling
Little more oil to grease the bowl, baking tray and for brushing over rolls
Water for spraying

Add to yeast the warm milk and warm water. Let it stand for five to ten minutes to become frothy.
In a larger bowl, or the bowl of a mixer, place the above yeast mixture, oil and honey and mix well. If you are using the egg white add it along.
Mix them well and add 2 1/2 cups of flour initially and mix in a dough.
(I added a little extra water to replace the egg white).
Add the flour to the dough and knead until a tacky dough that is not sticky has been achieved.
Roll the dough in a ball and place it in a oil-coated bowl. turn the dough in the oil to allow the oil to coat the surface of the dough. Cover and keep aside for an hour or more for the dough to double in volume.
Deflate the dough by punching it down, roll again in a ball and allow another rise for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough in 8 portions, roll each in a ball and flatten slightly.
Place the rolled and flattened roll on a greased or parchment lined baking tray.
Lightly brush or spray with some oil. Cover the shaped dough again loosely and give it another 30 minutes to rise.
Brush the rolls with the egg wash/ cream/ or anything that will help the salt and caraway seeds not to fall off the rolls while baking.
Make a + like slit on the top using a sharp blade or scissors.
Sprinkle caraway seeds and coarse sea salt on the top surface of the rolls. Mist them with little water.
Pre heat the oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F).
Bake the rolls for five minutes, open the door and mist again with a spray of water. Take care not to keep the oven door open for long.
Bake them for another twenty minutes or so, until the rolls are brown on top and done.
Cool on wire rack. 

I halved the recipe and had to reduce the baking time to 16 minutes after the initial 5 minutes, in all 21 minutes.
Serve them as sandwiches or burgers.

I served my rolls as burgers. I made patties with potatoes and placed some paneer burji inside the potato, covering all over with potato mash.

Shallow fried the patties and used them in the burger.
I cut the kummelweck roll in half, spread a layer of mint chutney on the bottom and placed the patty over it. I placed sliced cucumbers and tomatoes on top of the patty closed it with the top of the roll.
I served this with a simple cucumber salad.

The same dough can be used to make Vienna Loaf and Salt and pepper sticks.

To make Vienna Loaf:
Follow the recipe with the below mentioned changes:
After the second rise of the dough, divide in half.
Shape each half in an oval shape with tapering ends.
After the final rise,apply the egg wash/ cream brushing and slash the top with 1/2" deep slit lenghtwise.
Leave the sprinkling of salt and caraway seeds.Bake the loaf at 200 degrees C for 5 minutes + 30 minutes as for the kummeweck rolls.

For the salt and pepper sticks:
Follow the above recipe with the following changes:
Give the dough just the first rise. No need for a second.
Divide the dough in 13 equal portions and draw out each portion in a 12" long rope of even thickness.
Place them about an inch to inch and a half apart on your baking sheet.
Allow the rise now.
Apply the egg wash or brushing and do not make slits.
Coarsely grind black pepper and have the coarse sea salt ready.
Sprinkle them on top pf the rolled out sticks.Do not use the water mist.
Bake at 220 degrees for just 15 to 20 minutes.

Now head over to this post where Aparna and other members have put up links to their respective posts and enjoy the variety of  burgers, sandwiches and other ideas with the rolls.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Vaazhaipoo Parupparaichcha Kari

There was yet another banana tree in the backyard that has shown promise of bearing about 20 fruits. the blossom had shed a few layers and I decided to bring it down. The fruits will take a long time to ripen and become edible. This is not a variety that we can have raw bananas for cooking. The blossom and stump, however, are. I had plans to make the regular stir fry with just coconut and cooked thuvar dhal. Somehow the plans did not work and the blossom had already been kept a day long. That meant a few layers were to be shed off. The cut vegetable then was quite little for a sumptuous meal. So I decided to make this with the lentils and have a sufficient quantity.
Paruppu araichcha kari can be made like the paruppu usli by steaming the coarsely ground batter and cooking it with the vegetable. I chose to grind the lentils and cook them on heat with oil until they were dry to take on the vegetable and blend with it. This process needs a bit of arm wrestling exercise to stir and cook the lentil batter, removing the raw taste in the process and removing most of the moisture. While you may cook a variety of vegetables with the lentils in this manner, I like this one, where the insipid taste of the banana blossom is masked and the spices and lentils stand out. You may choose to make the lentil batter with just thuvar dhal or a mix of thuvar and channa dhals. I like to add the channa dhal and some coconut with one teaspoon of urad dhal to soften the lentil mix just a bit.

Vaazhai Poo Paruparaichcha Kari - Banana Blossom and Lentils Stir Fry

Serves 4
One medium banana blossom
1/3rd of a cup thuvar dhal
2 tablespoons channa dhal
1 teaspoon urad dhal
1/8 cup grated coconut
5-6 dry red chillis
1 small piece of ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1/4 cup gingelly oil (or any cooking oil)

Salt to taste

For tempering:

2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons urad dhal

3 fresh green chillis cut in small pieces
2 sprigs curry leaves

Clean and prepare the banana blossom as found in my earlier post for blossom fritters.
Cook the cut blossom in sufficient water adding turmeric powder, when softened add salt and cook further. Remove excess water by squeezing the cooked vegetable by hand.
Soak the dhals after rinsing them. Grind to a coarse batter along with coconut, red chillis, ginger and just enough salt.
Add the turmeric powder.
Heat the oil in a heavy and rounded bottom pan.
Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add the urad dhal, curry leaves and the green chillis and toss until the dhal is golden and chillis are done.
Drop the batter in. On low heat cook the dhal batter, stirring constantly until most of the moisture has evaporated and the dhal has a light brown tinge. Keep stirring to avoid lumps. Press down and break lumps if they form.
Add the drained banana blossom and cook further stirring well so that there are no big lumps. Add more oil in small quantities only if absolutely necessary.

The final dish should be slightly dry with little moisture.
Serve with steamed rice and kuzhambu/ rasam as a side dish.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Patties with Paneer Burji Filling

I had no set plans when I made an extra serving of the paneer burji. I would have made a pulav or something just so I can dish out some 'one-pot-meal' idea. So it just waited a day long in my refrigerator to be consumed. My husband's working hours are so long that there is a long interval between his regular meals, breakfast - lunch - dinner. This gets him hungry for some snack when he returns from work. just tea and some biscuits are not his choice. He looks for something home cooked as snack with his steaming hot cup of masala chai.
Having reached what is labelled typical middle age, we are monitoring every component of health to avoid complications and issues in the coming years. Keeping that in mind, I prepare something light and most times what I decide is healthy, whether or not it goes well with him. It is alright to indulge once in a while is it not? So I decided to make patties. The plan was to make ragada patties and I had soaked the peas and made other preparations too. Then I was reminded of the burji and the idea of a filling into the mashed potatoes struck. These patties were very welcome, who does not like potatoes?

Paneer Burji Patties
Makes two large patties or four small patties

3-4 large potatoes ( I had smaller sized in my veggies basket and used 7 of them)
1/2 cup prepared Paneer Burji
Salt and red chilli powder for the potato cover
1 - 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Oil for shallow frying

Steam the potatoes and remove the peel.
Mash them very well.
Add the salt and red chilli powder and mix.
Cook this mashed potato in a heavy bottomed pan, on a low flame until it is almost dry. The moisture will break the patties while shallow frying.
Divide the potato mash into two portions for large patties, if you want to use them in sandwiches or four smaller portions if you want it as a filling in your wrap; four portions will be ideal for a snack too.
Flatten the potato mash portion in your palms, keep a portion of the paneer burji in the centre.
Cover the potato well over the filling. and place on a lightly oiled plastic sheet. Flatten into a 3'' diameter circular disc (or smaller with the four portions).
Make a thick paste with the all purpose flour and water.
Spread the bread crumbs on a shallow dish.
Cover the flattened patty with the paste to coat all over the surface.
Turn the patty in the bread crumbs coating it with a slightly thick layer of bread crumbs.
Heat a heavy pan or iron griddle. When it is hot, pour a teaspoon or two of oil; place the patty on the oil and drizzle more oil.

Cook on a medium flame, until the bottom side has browned and is crisp. Turn the patty over and cook the other side until golden brown. Drizzle more oil so it fries well on all sides. Take care not to turn it repeatedly as it may break the patty.
Serve the patty as a snack with some tomato sauce or coriander chutney.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Paneer Burji

Events happening in faraway Australia and New Zealand have shortened my day to fewer hours, I must admit. Ever since the ICC Cricket World Cup matcheshave started, I am spending most part of the day watching them, sometimes live, most times rerun or highlights. Thus my day has shrunk, so to put it. I try to quickly cook stuff to put on the table, come up with easy and simple dishes for our dinner.
When I was away in India, the organic milk pack my husband had purchased, went stale and the milk had curdled while he boiled it. He kept aside the rest of the packs and I made some paneer with the milk. With low fat / skimmed milk the paneer is not so much of milk solids and tends to be more crumbly. I planned to use the paneer in as many ways as possible. I made paneer burji so I can have it as a side dish or stuff it in my dosas as paneer dosa.
Burji with paneer is scrambled cottage cheese with other vegetables and condiments. This delightfully spicy and delicious dish is often paired as a side dish for parathas, paav and rotis. It can be had as sandwich with bread or rolled as filling in dosas, wraps and few more possible ways to consume this.
Vegetables, onions and spices are generously used to make it spicy and irresistible. There is not much to the recipe as such and you can let your imagination and make this more innovative.

Paneer Burji - Scrambled Cottage Cheese with Vegetables and Spices

Serves 4 people
2 cups crumbled paneer / cottage cheese
2 large red onions sliced
Few medium coloured bell peppers cut
1 carrot sliced fine
1 cup chopped tomatoes
3-4 green chillis chopped very fine
11/2" ginger minced
5 pods of garlic minced
2 tablespoons Oil
1 table spoon softened butter
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons red chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder

Crumble the paneer and keep ready.
Heat the oil and butter in a shallow pan. Add the cumin seeds and sauté for few seconds then add the chopped green chillis. Toss until the chillis are well coated in the fat.
Add the minced ginger and sliced onions. Cook until the onions are pink and translucent. Then add the garlic. Cook on low fire to remove the raw taste of the garlic.
Put in the tomatoes, chilli powder, salt and the garam masala powder. Cook to pulp the tomatoes.
Meanwhile in another pan heat some oil and cook the coloured peppers. When the soften a bit, still retaining their crunch, add them to the mix above.
Cook until the mixture is almost dry and add the crumbled paneer to it.
Keep tossing on a low fire until they all come together in a scrambled mixture with some moisture retained in it.
Paneer burji is ready to serve.


Serve with rotis, phulkas, paav or bread.
 I made an extra batch of this for the two of us. I tried it for a filling in my patties which eventually worked well in my burger too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pane Siciliano - We Knead to Bake 24

I am there, huffing and puffing, I have finally caught up with members of the We Knead to Bake - Bread Baking  Group who have baked all the breads thus far. However irregular, I am happy that I have been able to bake along and post all the 25 breads along with Aparna.
The Pane Siciliano is a Sicilian Sesame seeded semolina bread. This was the choice for January 2015.
As a brief description to this bread, I reproduce here Aparna's words:
On the 13th of December, feasts are held in Sicily and around the world celebrating the bravery of Santa Lucia. One way is by baking a special bread which is known as Pane Siciliano. What is unusual about this bread is that it is baked with semolina. In Sicily (and Italy) the semolina they use for this breadis a specific grind of durum wheat called 'semolina di grano duro rimacinato' or just 'rimacinato', which translates to 'ground again'. This refers to semolina which is ground once more to break the coarser grain into finer flour.
There are recipes to make this bread in a shorter time. Traditionally,it is made using a pre-ferment which the locals call 'cresciuta' which gives a more flavourful loaf. The Pane Siciliano is generally shaped in two shapes, the 'Occhi di Santa Lucia'and the Mafalda. The former means 'Eyes of Santa Lucia', while the latter, which is shaped as a snake that has its tail over its body, refers to 'snake'. We chose to make this latter one.If you would like to do the Occhi di Santa Lucia, please refer to an earlier post at Aparna's blog.
There is a video of  Mary Ann Esposito making the Pane Siciliano with Peter Reinhart which is quite helpful.

Pane Siciliano (Sicilian Sesame Seeded Semolina Bread)
( Adapted from Ciao Italia )


Recipe makes a medium loaf that will suffice 4 to 5 people
For the Cresciuta (Biga/ Pre-ferment)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup all purpose flour

For the dough:
1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp honey
All of the prepared cresciuta
2 to 21/2 cups fine durum wheat semolina (or a ground flour from this semolina, that I have used)
1/2 teaspoon vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

a little water for brushing on the bread
1/8 cup sesame seeds

The night before baking the bread or at least 4 hours prior to baking, prepare the cresciuta.
Dissolve the yeast listed there in the lukewarm water and set aside for a few minutes until the yeast becomes frothy.
Then add the all purpose flour to it and mix with a fork. The resultant mix will be wet and stringy.
Leave the cresciuta to stand for a minimum 4 hours or overnight.
Fine grain durum wheat semolina is available in my local store.
I powdered the durum wheat semolina by running in my spice mixer until very fine, sieved it and used for this bread.
Now to make the dough, dissolve the 1/2 teaspoon yeast in lukewarm water mixed with the honey.
Mix the salt and the vital wheat gluten to the flour.
Once the yeast has risen, add the cresciuta to it and mix well. Add initially 2 cups of semolina flour a to this and form a pancake batter like loose dough.
Knead it well until it forms a soft and smooth ball of dough. Add as much more flour from the rest of the 1/2 cup to achieve this dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over in the oil to coat, cover loosely and allow it to double in volume. This may take about an hour and a half.
Deflate the dough and turn it on to the work surface.
Roll the dough in a cylindrical rope that is about 30 inches long.
Place it on a baking tray that has been lined with a baking sheet.
Place the rope on the tray, and shape it like a wriggling snake leaving about 7" of the dough for the tail.
Now bring the tail over the shaped 'body' of the snake and let it rest on top of the body. Do not tuck it underneath.
Loosely cover this shaped dough and let it stand a second rise for 2 hours again until doubled.

Pre heat the oven to 190 degrees C. Place another baking tray upside down in the oven on top of which you may be able to place the tray with the dough.
Brush some water on the top of the bread and sprinkle sesame seeds.
Bake for 30 minutes until bread is brown and hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack.

Serve with any soup of your choice.I served this with my almond carrot soup.
There are more mafaldas and ochchis just a click away from here to this post in Aparna's My Diverse Kitchen. Enjoy the recipes there.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Almond Carrot Soup

Sometimes you are intrigued by the description of a dish in the menu and go for it, like it so much that you want to try making the same. This soup is one such dish that has been keeping me thinking. Once, we were at a restaurant, my nephew and I seemed to fancy the almond soup. It had so much flavour to it from all the garlic and caramelised onions to the otherwise bland soup. We liked it so much that we discussed the soup through the meal.
Few weeks ago, my daughter told me that she was making soup every night to warm herself up as the weather was chill. Everyday she would tell me what soup was their dinner and some of them were quite interesting that it prompted me to try a few. She had made this almond soup with a head of cauliflower. She told me that she used a fistful of almonds and that the soup turned out creamy by itself without any milk.
I had a huge quantity of almonds in the pantry; my husband has this selective dislike for cauliflower, his theory ,manchurian and deep fried golden cauliflower is good while in any other it tastes weird. So putting cauliflower, broccoli and such had to be erased from the soup. Initially I wanted plain almond soup with robust flavours, then wanted to have a vegetable and decided on the carrot. The almonds and the vegetable gave the soup a richness by themselves that the vegan option was a good choice. We did not miss the extra creaminess from addition of milk. I had earlier made the Pane Siciliano for the We Knead to Bake - Bread Baking Group, which paired very well with the soup. It was all we had for our dinner.

Almond Carrot Soup with Garlic and Caramelised Onions

Serves two people
12 to 15 whole almonds blanched
1 medium carrot cubed
3 teaspoons vegetable oil (any cooking oil would work well)
5 pods of garlic

1 medium red onion sliced finely
Small piece of  ginger (adjusted according to taste)
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
2 cups of vegetable stock or water

Soak almonds in hot water, remove the peel. I had blanched almonds readily available and used them.
Soak again in water for about 15 minutes.
Grind the almonds adding sufficient water at intervals to a very smooth paste. Add more water to make a milk like liquid.
Cook the carrot until soft.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil and sauté the garlic pods until they are browned.
Run the garlic, ginger and cooked carrot in a blender and puree them.
Place a pan on the stove, pour the vegetable stock or water in it.
Put in the carrot puree and cook for a few minutes until the raw taste subsides.
Pour in the almond milk and cook on medium heat stirring every now and then to avoid any lumps.
Add the salt and ground black pepper, adjusting according to taste.
Simmer the soup until thickened.

Serve warm with any soup bread.
I am sending this soup to the No Croutons Required Event jointly administered by Lisa and Jacqueline with Lisa hosting the March 2015 edition.