Paneer Pasta

I wanted to make something special for my favorite food blogger’s Jihva event. Paneer and pasta: yes, an unusual combination. But, why not, I thought.

It turned out to be an ultimate comfort food. Combined with tomatoes, plenty of vegetables, and a mix of chickpeas and pomegranate garnish, paneer pasta was just the right thing for a cool fall night, and made a hearty and warming dish. Bow tie pasta is a good choice here, but penne or fusilli work just as well.

Paneer and Pasta

Paneer Pasta
(for two or four, for two or one meals)

1 tablespoon, peanut oil
2 garlic, minced
2 cups, chopped tomatoes
2 cups, chopped vegetables (I added zucchini, cauliflower and chikkudu)
1 cup, paneer cubes of 1/2-inch sized
1/2 cup, precooked chickpeas
1/4 cup, pomegranate kernels
2 tablespoons, finely chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste or 1 teaspoon each
Pasta, about 2 cups

Heat oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute.

Add vegetables and turn up the heat to medium-high and sauté for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and quarter cup of water to the skillet. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more.

Stir in salt, pepper and chopped cilantro. Add paneer cubes. On slow simmer, cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Pour the paneer-veggie sauce over the pasta and toss until everything is well combined. Garnish with pomegranate kernels. Serve hot.

Paneer Pasta with Pomegranate Garnish
Paneer Pasta with Pomegranate ~ Dinner Today and
For JFI:Paneer at Lovely Trupti’s The Spice Who Loved Me

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Home as a Hobby ~ Pillow Embroidery

Embroidered Pillow Cover for Home

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving (and a wonderful weekend to those non-US readers too). We spent the day with friends and of course eating too much food. It was a classic Indian celebration: curries and koftas, conversation about movies, cacophonic games, more food and then to home to sweet slumber.

For sweet slumber, some good pillows with pretty covers are required. So, I have hand embroidered two pillowcases last week. The design is store bought, printed on the fabric and it is a cross stitch and embroidery combination. The stitches are not perfect but I love how pristine and peaceful the pillows look with the new covers.

Embroidered Pillow Cover for Home

Fall Cravings ~ Cabbage Pakoda

It is unusually cold here in Houston for the past one week. As soon as the cool weather sets in, it’s only natural to crave something garama garam. Isn’t it? So, I made some cabbage pakodas this evening with the shredded cabbage I saved from last week’s 5c=A+ equation. Preparation of pakodas was easy compared to the procrastination I went through since morning. Diving into deep-frying is still a difficult process, requires deep thought and doesn’t always happen on demand at my home. After some in depth dawdling:), the decision was made for a happy heart. Garama garam cabbage pakodas and cardamom tea on this cool fall evening.

Shredded Cabbage In Besan Flour for Cabbage Pakoda
Shredded Cabbage In Besan Flour

Cabbage Pakodas
(for about 25 medium-sized pakodas)

2 cups of shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix from grocery also works)
2 cups besan (chickpea flour)
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 teaspoon ajwan (vaamu) (helps with the digestion)
1/2 teaspoon each – salt and red chilli powder
A pinch of baking soda
3/4 cup water
Peanut oil for deep-frying

Take the besan, rice flour, salt, chilli powder, ajwan and baking soda into a bowl. Mix well. Add the shredded cabbage and gently toss to cover the cabbage with besan flour mix. Slowly add water, mixing as you go, to make a batter of thick consistency.

Pour about 2 cups of peanut oil in a large frying pan and set the pan over high heat. When the oil is frying hot, pick up a handful of cabbage mixture from the bowl and gently drop the batter into oil in small portions. Fill the pan until there is no more space. Fry the pakodas, turning frequently until they are reddish brown and crisp, for about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place the pakodas on a paper towel covered tray to drain. Make the pakodas till the batter is finished.

Serve the cabbage pakodas hot with some tea or coffee for a tasty snack, or with some savory chutney as a part of a meal. They are best when eaten as soon as they are made.

Cabbage Pakodas
Cabbage Pakodas to Warm up a Autumn Evening

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Pleasant Pull of The Past ~ Curry Leaf Podi

We went to a friend’s home last weekend. Our conversations these days invariably lead to gardening and plants. She has this beautiful and big curry leaf plant of 7 years old in her backyard which is almost a tree now. I guess it was amusing to see my admiration, she cut few branches on the spot for me. Such fearlessness! I am so old, I can remember the scarce days when I used to actually count the curry leaves before adding them to a recipe. Thanks to the generous friend, I finally made the beloved karivepaaku podi (curry leaf podi) at home today.

Curry leaf podi is a cherished Andhra tradition. This spicy seasoning with intense curry leaf aroma will taste great when mixed with rice or sprinkled over lightly cooked vegetables or even on salads. Curry leaf podi can be prepared in many ways. The following recipe is from my amma.

Fresh Curry Leaves
Fresh Curry Leaves ~ dried under Gentle Autumn Sun

Karivepaaku Podi (Curry Leaf Podi)

4 cups of tightly packed fresh curry leaves
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
12 red chillies, Indian variety, about ring-finger length each
1 teaspoon cumin
2 garlic cloves, skin peeled, slivered
1 teaspoon sea salt

Curry Leaves: Rinse curry leaves under water and gently pat them dry with a towel. Spread them on a cotton cloth to sun-dry under afternoon sun. The leaves will loose moisture and become dry but still retain green color. Do not sun-burn the leaves to black.

Gently fry the curry leaves on low heat in a cast-iron pan. Take care not to black or burn the leaves. Remove them to a plate to cool. The purpose of sun-drying and roasting is to let the leaves lose the moisture so that when powdered, they will remain dry and healthy to consume. Even after all this process, the leaves have to retain green color.

Roast: In the same skillet, add and roast dried chillies, garlic to brown. Remove. Add cumin and sesame seeds and roast until the sesame seeds are a few shades darker and emit a toasted aroma. Some seeds will actually start to pop out of the pan. Empty the contents of the skillet onto a plate and cool.

Powder: Add the cooled and roasted ingredients to a Sumeet style mixer or coffee grinder. Grind to fine powder. Cool completely and store in a clean jar with tight lid. It remains fresh and flavorful up to 3 months.

The tasty curry leaf podi can be enjoyed in many ways. Mix it with hot cooked rice and ghee, or rice and dal. Sprinkle the podi on warm chapati, idly, dosa or pesarattu. Great last minute seasoning to skillet-sautéed curries, like roasted potatoes, carrots, beans etc. Curry leaf podi is a wonderful thing to have in the kitchen.

Curry Leaf Podi (Karivepaaku Podi)
Curry Leaf Podi (Karivepaaku Podi)

Podi (Telugu) = Powder (E)
© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Autumn Beauty ~ Angel Face

Lavender Rose
From The Garden ~ Angel Face Rose

This beautiful lavender rose plant is a gift from Vijay to moi. No reason, just because I still live and breathe, I guess.:) I adore it for the gorgeous, grand blooms and the strong, sweet fragrance.

Celebrating Autumn Cabbage: 5 C’s = A+

Cabbage
Carrot
Coconut
Chana dal
Curry leaf Tadka

The 5 C’s. When combined and cooked together would create an A+ dish.

This great cabbage curry is a childhood favorite. The refreshing flavor of a full-grown fall cabbage is accentuated by the addition of carrot and coconut sweetness, nutty chana dal crunchiness and curry leaf tadka’s ethereal aroma.

Served over couscous, chapati or rice, the 5 C’s makes a delicious and complete meal. It’s great all on its own too. This quick and easy recipe will be even more convenient if a mandoline or food processor is used to shred the cabbage and carrots.

Cabbage with Carrot Curry

Cabbage and Carrot with Indian Spices
(for two or four – for two or one meal)

Cabbage: Shred 1 small cabbage, about 6 cups
Carrot: Peel the skins and grate carrots, about 2 cups
Coconut: grate the fresh coconut, about 2 tablespoons
Chana dal: 2 tablespoons, Rehydrate by soaking in water for 30mts.
For Curry Leaf Tadka: 1 tablespoon peanut oil, 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves and from masala dabba, a pinch each – cumin and mustard seeds
Onion: 1, finely chopped
Spices: Turmeric, salt and chilli flakes – to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add curry leaves and toast to gold. Add cumin and mustard seeds and when seeds start to pop, add the onion and chana dal. Saute, stirring often until they are light brown.

Stir in cabbage and carrot. Saute until cabbage has slightly wilted. Add coconut, turmeric, salt and chilli flakes. Mix well and cook for another five minutes on medium heat. Turn off the heat before the whole thing turns into a mush pile. You know what cabbage says – If you want to love cabbage, eat it raw or cook it just right – but don’t over cook it.

Serve the curry hot over couscous/chapati, or with rice and dal for tasty meal.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

The Twin Blessings: Carrot-Coconut Cake

We were invited to a baby shower party last weekend. The blessed friend is a long time reader of Mahanandi recipes. For a present, instead of another plastic thing, I wanted to gift something nourishing for the twins-expecting mother. After giving it a thought for sometime, I came up with an idea. Carrots, coconut and pecans brought in. Carrots and coconut grated, pecans chopped. Baby bananas substituted eggs and to make it truly a party treat, I experimented by adding some condensed milk to the whole-wheat batter.

The effort was a sweet success…some great looking carrot–coconut mini cakes came out of the oven. I didn’t have the heart to spoil their healthy glow with cheesy coverup. I took them to the party, as they are without the phony makeup, hoping they would receive with “I like you very much, just as you are.”

Carrot and Coconut ~ Grated for the Cake
Carrot and Coconut ~ Grated to Greet the Cake Batter

Carrot-Coconut Cake
(the batter makes about 24 mini cakes)

Ingredients:
Special (wet):
Coconut: Break a fresh coconut. Grate the coconut. – 2 cups.
Carrots: Peel the skin and grate the carrots.- 2 cups.
Pecans: Finely chop pecans. – 1 cup.
Bananas: 2 baby or 1 big, ripe one. Mash the bananas to smooth – 1 cup.
Oil: I added peanut oil – 1/2 cup
Condensed milk: 1 cup
Milk : 2 to 3 cups

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Preparation:

Take the dry ingredients listed above in a big bowl. Mix well. Add the wet ingredients – grated carrot, coconut, chopped pecans, mashed banana, condensed milk, milk and oil. Combine thoroughly until well mixed. If the batter looks dry and crumbly, add more milk or water in a slow, steady stream, folding continuously. Consistency of the batter has to be more on the wet side and easily spreadable.

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Generously apply ghee or oil to cake pans. Keep them ready on baking trays.

Transfer the batter to the cake pans and fill them upto ¾ths. Place them in oven and bake until the top is light golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, for about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the cakes to cool completely and then unmold.

Enjoy the tasty carrot coconut cake, just as they are.

 Carrot Coconut Cake Batter filled Mini Cake Pans
Carrot Coconut Cake Batter

carrot Coconut Mini Cakes ~ Fresh Out of Oven
Carrot Coconut Mini Cakes ~ Fresh Out of Oven

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Weekend Home: Mandala Cross Stitch

Mandala Cross Stitch for Sofa Pillow Cover

I enjoy cross stitch very much. It’s relaxing to perform, enriching to learn and produces such varied and attractive end results. If you have been wondering about the lack of updates on the website lately, this is the reason. The art form is absorbing and I have been working on a Mandala cross stitch design for sofa pillow covers.

The beautiful Mandala design is courtesy of a wonderful website called The Floss Box. I downloaded the pattern, printed it on a paper and traced the design on to a pillow cover and started stitching it. It is a simple design, requires only few color threads and will be done in two to three days. I have planned this design for four pillow covers. Three are done, one more to go.

Mandala Cross Stitch for Sofa Pillow Cover

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