Friday, September 30, 2011

Iced Caramel Machiatto

This month the free spirit bloggers take on something that every coffee lover would want to have. Deepti put us on this Cafe trail, suggesting that we try to clone one coffee shop drink as best as we could.
Well, I am not a coffee person...tea is what I would opt, given the preference. Hence, my coffee making skills are limited (for I do not want to use 'pathetic'). I started having coffee once in a while after I started working; my manager then was so addicted that he would order coffee for all his staff if he were in the mood for one!
The entire side of my father's family are coffee drinkers, to put it light! In the early years of her marriage my mother has had the privilege of her father-in-law making the morning coffee for her! They kept cows and hence he would prepare the filter just when the cowherd would milk the cow. It was that fresh!

My father, would even feed an infant few drops of coffee, and having gotten in that habit for just a little under a year, my daughter has taken after him. She can relish anything that is related to coffee!
Thus when Deepti gave us this challange, I naturally asked Niki to taste, click and ask for the recipe from wherever possible, that I can make at home!

Here's the recipe she gave me:
Source: Pulse Coffee Shop
(this coffee shop is a KU dining services brand)
Iced Caramel Machiatto

Made in a 16 oz cup:
2 shots of espresso (figure out how much you put into a normal cup of coffee and scale according to the size of the cup you are using... basically just depends on how strong you want the coffee.. the caramel makes it very sweet, so do not make the coffee too light!)
2 "pumps" of vanilla syrup (1oz)
2 "pumps" of caramel syrup (1oz)
milk (boiled, and then chilled)
ice cubes
Put expresso and flavouring syrups into cup. Fill about halfway with milk. Mix them a bit so that the syrups don't sit at the base.

Add ice till the cup is about 3/4ths full. (do not add the ice before the milk, because ice will shock the plain espresso and make it bitter)

Top up the glass with milk the rest of the way.

Top up with whipped cream, and drizzle caramel on top. (for the drizzle, you will need caramel sauce, not syrup)
I used Pure ground coffee powder that I buy from an estate in Saklespur, India to make the decoction.
Now, I made sugar syrup and added vanilla for the vanilla syrup.
Just when I was wondering if I shall buy caramel sauce (Hershley's sells a bit pricey here), Deepti's post on home made caramel sauce was up and I rejoiced! I could make the caramel sauce at home too!
I bought the whipping cream to top the drink...and I had something that looked very nearly the same as what my daughter sent! I can not compare the taste though, I may admit that even I liked it.

I served this with home made eggless apple cinnamon muffins. (recipe coming up soon)
Few (read many) trials to get the near coffee shop effect has turned me into a coffee taster - tester.

Now head on to other Free Spirit Bloggers' exclusive home coffee-shop and enjoy a total coffee experience!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Beetroot potato palya - when a man takes charge of the kitchen

I have not done guest posts yet. Though I have been meaning to ask people in the family to share their signature recipes here, the opportunity has not come up. So now I am thrilled that I have an unexpected guest post to share.
If I were to list the good years of my adult life, I may start my list with the three+ years we lived in Johor, for the sole reason that we made some lasting friendships. Now most of us are no longer living in the same country, but it has never felt that we have parted.

I have borrowed a part of a quote I came across recently:

" Even though we've changed and we're all finding our own place in this world, we all know that when tears fall or the smile spreads across our face, we'll come to each other because no matter where this crazy world takes us, nothing will ever change so much to the point where we're not all still friends"

Author unkown.
This puts it in a nutshell, so to say.

Coming to today's post, I am proud and happy to share a seemingly simple palya. Yet it is super delicious when your dad / brother/ friend / husband dishes it out for you, don't you think?
Not that any of my friends did not help out in the kitchen when needed, but it was not a norm that they will spring you a surprise meal.
So when Santosh shared a photo link on facebook, I was impressed. He had made this beetroot and potato palya and a sambhar with rice for himself and his daughter. I wanted him to share the recipe, though we were joking about it through the comments thread. As we chatted, the idea of making his recipe in a post developed.
I downloaded the pictures and tweeted his daughter to send me the recipe. She mailed me and the text below is a cut and paste of her mail.
I did not get beets here recently to try and make the same in my kitchen. However, I tried the same with carrots and potatoes. It tastes great, to say the least.


- wash and chop potatoes (3 medium sized) & beetroot (2 medium sized) into small cubes

- cook it in the microwave (autocook) (for those who want to cook on stove top, cook them until tender)

- pour a little oil into a flat bottom pan,
add mustard seeds,
1 chopped onion,
1-2 sliced green chili,
pinch of hing,
salt to taste

- fry until golden brown

- add one spoon garam masala powder

- mix cooked potatoes and beetroot

- add a little water and cook till done

- garnish with coriander, serve!

Simple, don't you think? If I were to write this post up I would not have made it in easy steps as this. That is the difference.
I think, men make simple and no fuss dishes, what do you say? It is time we put our feet up and let them do some work :)

I scheduled this post as part of my wishes to Santosh on his birthday! Happy birthday!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chola Fali - A gujarathi snack

Last year it was around Deepavali we moved to this country. We moved in to the empty apartment that very evening, purchased frugally and set up the house. Two days into Lagos, it was Deepavali. I had to be content with a simple home pooja and offering fruits. However, friends who live in the building invited us over to join in their celebrations and we had a good time.

One of my neighbours is a young mother who hails from Gujarat. She had prepared many typical Gujrati farsan and we were treated to. The chola fali is one that I liked very much and had requested her to teach me making the same. The opportune time did not come by until errr....yesterday, yes, a year later :(

I would be not doing justice if I did not introduce her to my readers. Did I mention 'young mother'? oh yes, I did! Rekha Adodra is a great cook who has trained her Nigerian maid to make perfect, thin crisp Khkaras among many other indian dishes, an artist who paints as a hobby and undertakes assignments too.

She paints pots and gifts them to friends - I have two of them adorning my home now!

All these, while she takes her three year old toddler to play school, gives in to the little girl's fancies and plays with her among many more regular duties as a parent.

Having said that, I shall also tell you how randomly we chose to make these chola falis. I asked her to be taught some traditional fare that she makes at home for trying and sharing in my blog.
She said I can walk in any time and we can have fun cooking up anything I decide to. She usually has stock of necessary ingredients. Thus yesterday evening about 5 PM I walk up to her apartment and we decide on we chat up I say that we make kara sev and tell her that it has gram flour as base and spiced with carom seeds. She said then the recipe is similar and we shall try it some other time.

Then I asked her if she can teach me the same savoury treat I had at her place last year and that decided what I will learn...and oh yes, learn it, I did! And what is use of knowledge if not shared?
That is the purpose of the post!

Simple ingredients, some time on hand and loads of patience with the dough gives you this excellent snack which can be as versatile as you can make it. Today's recipe is basic enough for people not familiar with this.

It tastes like the pappadoms that we deep fry. Spiced with black salt and paprika, it keeps you picking at those strips one after the other. It takes all of your will power to stop snacking.

She used store purchased Mathia flour, a readily made mix of Urad dhal powder and Moong dhal powder. However, people who do not find it in your area can powder the dhals and mix them.

2 cups gram flour
2 cups mathia flour (alternately, mix 1 cup each of powdered urad dhal and powdered moong dhal)
2 tablespoons ghee
1/8th of a teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda (cooking soda)
Salt as required (dry roast the salt until warm prior to adding to the flours. Do remember to add lesser salt than required as you will be sprinkling black salt mix on top)
4 tablespoons oil for pounding the dough and to grease the surface on which you will roll the dough.

Oil for deep frying

For sprinkling on top:

3 teaspoons red chilli powder
3 teaspoons black salt

Method of preparation:

Sieve together the flours and soda-bi-carb, to mix well.
Heat the pan in which you will deep fry the chola falis. When the pan is warm, drop the salt in it and toss for a few minutes. When the salt has been roasted, add it to the flour mix.
Add the ghee to the flour. Mix well.
Add very little water and make a stiff dough. The dough should be so stiff that you may feel it crack.
Rest the dough for a few minutes.
Clean a portion of the kitchen floor / counter top (or better if you have a granite mortar/ aattukkal, ammi kal).
Divide the dough in smaller portions. Using a pestle, beat the dough down on the clean surface adding few drops oil every now and then. Repeat the fold / beat/ grease/ fold operation until the dough feels light and elastic and acquires a lighter shade.
Repeat with the entire portion of the dough.
Keep this dough covered while you pinch out small balls off it and roll out thin discs.
No flour is used for dusting the surface. You will have to grease the surface with very little oil and roll as thinly as possible. (My friend rolled out so thin that the dough looked transparent.)
Keep the rolled discs also covered to avoid drying by exposure to air.

Keep the oil for deep frying on.
Cut out strips off the dough.
Meanwhile, mix the black salt and red chilli powder in a bowl and keep ready.
Deep fry the strips, few at a time in hot oil.
They have to puff well. Fry them until they are crisp.
Remove from the oil with a slotted ladle and transfer to a dish.

Check for the crispness and sprinkle the chilli-salt mix on top immediately while the falis are warm.
Serve them as a snack and enjoy!

They dough has to be prepared very stiff.

Beating it down well ensures that the falis puff well.
Also rolling them very thin makes them perfectly enjoyable. Thick strips will become soggy.

Caution should be exercised while adding oil also during the process of beating the dough don and rolling. Do not be tempted to add more oil. The end result will be oil dripping falis.

The roasting of salt in the same pan aids a small addition of salt to the oil, which ensures that the deep fried stuff does not become oily.

Serve them as such, serve them as chaat, serve them with dips and your party is on fire from the starters :)

I will soon be making them and adding my own twist...stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Milagai podi for idli and dosai

Although I mostly make chutneys and sambhar to go with idli or dosai, as with every South Indian household, I store this idli milagai podi also. It comes handy whenever I am saving the coconut or onions for something else. Also helps when you want to pack the tiffin box, quickly on days that you lazed just about a few minutes longer in the morning.
Usually, my mother gets such items ready for me to carry. Considering that I cannot hope to get the same quality stuff as I might in "Cheenan kadai" (our long serving grocer in Namakkal, though they have developed and expanded to a grand super market/ departmental store, to my parents the name holds), amma sees to that she packs us home made stuff. This has been her routine, even when I lived in other countries. Off late, she adds to the list what my daughter might carry with her.

During this recent visit though I did not carry such powders. I had in my pantry, dry red chillis stocked in plenty. So, I had powdered my own podi this morning. (and am sneezing heavily as I type this post out.) (there is more roasting and pounding happening, later today.)

Idli/ dosai milagai podi is a blend of chillis, lentils, salt and powdered sesame seeds that is consumed as an accompaniment with idlis and dosais. The powder is usually mixed with some gingely oil and had with the above. When idlis are packed for picnics or travel, they are smothered heavily with the podi + oil mix, thus the flavours blend in the dish itself.

The list of ingredients is short and the procedure very simple.(...only the bout of sneezing and tingling sensation in your nose lasts for a few hours.)

(All measures are with 200 ml cup)
Yield 2 &1/2 cups (625ml)

Dry red chillis 1 and 1/2 cup (300 ml)
Castor oil 3 drops
Split Bengal gram / Channa dhal 3/8ths cup (75 ml)
Split black gram / Urad dhal 3/8ths cup (75 ml)
White sesame seeds 1/8th cup (25 ml)
Asafoetida powder 1/4th teaspoon
Salt to taste (Around 2 heaped teaspoons sea salt crystals will be sufficient. Adjustable as per the heat of the chillis)

Method of preparation:
Rub the castor oil over the red chillis to coat very lightly.
Heat a pan and on very slow fire roast the chillis until they puff, without burning.
Transfer to a flat plate and allow to cool.
In the same pan, dry roast separately the dhals until they are warm to touch and golden.
Keep aside in a different bowl or plate.
Drop the salt in the pan and heat it a bit. When it is warm add the asafoetida powder and toss for a few seconds.
Transfer these to the plate with the chillis.
Finally roast the sesame seeds in the same pan until they pop. This may happen quickly as the pan is already hot. Switch the fire off and keep the sesame seeds in the pan.
Transfer the chillis, salt and asafoetida to the jar of the spice blender.
Pulse until the chillis have been coarsely powdered.
Add to this the dhals. Pulse further until the dhals have been pounded.
Add the warm sesame seeds and pulse intermittently for a few minutes. Do not over run the mixer after adding the sesame seeds.
Transfer the blended powder to a dish and allow to cool.
The ellu milagai podi is ready for use.
Once cool, transfer to an airtight container and store.

If you have plenty of sunshine where you live or when making in larger quantities, the chillis and dhals can be sun dried until very warm to touch and pounded.

Adding few drops of castor oil aids shelf life. Also helps to tone down the heat of the chillis while roasting.

This powder keeps well for a few months. However, the spice level drops as days go by and having added sesame seeds, it is advisable not to keep long.
Enjoy the powder with soft idlis or crisp dosais.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Potato and aubergine gratin with greens

Don't we all feel the temptation to recreate a dish that you much enjoyed eating in a restaurant, at home? No matter how delusive the list of ingredients and the procedure is, we try hard to match the taste and texture, don't we?
I opt to try something new on the menu when we dine out while my husband would tread safe grounds with familiar dishes. Once I have tried eating, the obvious next attempt is making the dish at home. I have a list of dishes that I would love to cook restaurant style at home.
I found that my fellow free spirit bloggers share such a passion too.  Siri suggested this theme for August. The response was immediate and each of us were hoping to recreate many dishes. Then we narrowed the choices to 'main course' and decided that any dish falling in other categories will have to be tried sometime later.

During my visit to Bangalore, this time, I had tasted this "greens, aubergine and potato gratin" at the Gateway All Day restaurant. I requested the chef for the recipe and he, Mr. Dilbar, printed the recipe out for me. The recipe is vegetarian but the list shows egg yolks in it. When I asked them about that, I was told that they cook without eggs for vegetarians and that eggs were just a binding ingredient. And the original recipe calls for different cheese while in the menu they had listed parmesan and cheddar cheese. The recipe is a great chunk portion of vegetables baked with cheese toppings and is served as a main course along with a small portion of garlic bread.

Now that I am back home and falling into routine, I included the necessary vegetables and the cheese in the list of groceries. Having a printed recipe on hand helps. I will not be making wild guesses though I will most certainly stray from the procedure here and there. I have done just that; made shortcuts where I could and skipped frying, opted to steam and such. Nonetheless, the dish turned out closest to the one I had eaten.

Ingredients: (for 3 servings)
300 grams small potatoes
100 grams broccoli
100 grams eggplant
100 grams tomatoes
100 grams spinach
30 grams - 1 medium onion chopped
5 garlic cloves crushed
1 small stalk celery chopped
30 ml olive oil
150 ml low fat milk
1 teaspoon corn flour
50 grams of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

50 grams grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

For serving:
3 numbers garlic bread


Clean all the vegetables well.
Peel and slice the potatoes in round discs. Similarly, slice the tomatoes and eggplant in discs. place the eggplants in water until required.
Keep aside few of the tomato slices.
Cut broccoli in small florets. Stem and wash the spinach. Chop the spinach in small strips.
Steam the potato discs just until soft.
Blanch the greens and broccoli for two minutes, not allowing them to get too soft.Add some salt and pepper individually to these vegetables.
Marinate the eggplant discs with salt, pepper and some oil. Saute in a pan until they are grilled.
Heat the oil in a pan. Drop the chopped celery and the onions. Toss for two minutes and add the crushed garlic. Saute for about five minutes and add to this the broccoli and spinach. toss them to be coated well with the oil.
Add the tomatoes and eggplant. Adjust the seasoning. Cook very lightly for two minutes.

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/ 190 degrees Celsius. (moderately hot oven, gas mark 5).
Beat together the milk, corn flour and a teaspoon of the cheddar cheese.
Add some salt and pepper to this also.
In a baking dish arrange the potatoes in a layer. Top this with a small portion of the milk mixture.
Spread the vegetables over this in a layer.
Top this with the grated parmesan cheese.
Repeat the same order for another layer or two more as desired.
The above is done in a ring mould. I have used a normal baking dish and spread the layers.
On the top most part spread the uncooked tomatoes and cover with the parmesan cheese.
Bake for at 375 Degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes until slightly brown on top.
If you are baking using a ring mould, transfer the baked contents to a serving plate and remove the mould. Spoon in  few tablespoons of tomato couli and serve hot.
I have baked in a baking dish and hence served from the dish. I did not make the tomato couli to garnish.
Serve this hot with garlic bread.

This is a very easy dish to make and all the vegetables can be filling.
My other free spirit mates have all cooked quite exotic dishes that may interest you. Indulge yourselves reading posts by Anu, Deepti, Dhivya, Madhuri, Mridhu, Nags and Siri.
Look out for more spirited posts in the following months.