Category: Milk and Products

Garden Greens for Sag Paneer

Spinach, swiss chard, methi plus cilantro and dill are growing so much, they are getting big and out of control in my garden. So, I plucked all the excesses and with that garden greens bounty, prepared sag paneer for lunch today. The following recipe is a tad different from the classic recipe blogged here in 2005. Instead of cashew powder, I’ve added carrot pulp to thicken the sag gravy and to add some sweetness to the greens. With carrot and paneer, garden greens never tasted this shiny-sweet before. It’s a good recipe if you have greens’ surplus.

Garden Greens
Garden Greens

Sag Paneer with Garden Greens
(for 6 to 8 servings)

1 bunch each – spinach, swiss chard and methi – coarsely chopped
1/2 cup each – cilantro and dill leaves – coarsely chopped
8 Guntur green chillies
1 carrot – sliced to chunks
1 red onion and 1 ripe tomato – finely chopped
1 cup or to taste – paneer cubes
1 teaspoon – ginger-garlic paste
1 tablespoon – cumin-coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon – turmeric
Salt to taste

1. In a wide pan, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the greens and green chillies. Saute until the leaves collapse and chillies soften. Turn off the heat and let the greens cool. Once they reach room temperature, take the sauteed greens and chillies in a food processor. Add a pinch of salt and pulse to coarse puree. Remove the mix to a bowl. In the same food processor, add carrot pieces and make super fine puree, adding water when necessary.

2. Wipe the pan clean and add another tablespoon of peanut oil. When oil is hot, add a pinch each – cumin and mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the onion and tomato pieces. Saute until they soften , then stir in the garden greens and carrot puree. Add ginger-garlic paste, cumin-coriander powder, turmeric and salt. Mix well. Add the paneer cubes. Cover the pan and on medium heat, let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve the sag paneer warm with rice or roti. Tastes good on its own as well.

Sag Paneer with Garden Greens
Garden Sag Paneer with Rotis ~ for Bhojanam

Dahi Mirchi with Pequin Peppers

One good thing about Houston’s radiant weather is I could do my culinary sun salutations with ease.

Here is a traditional Bharath culinary sun salutation with Mexican pequin peppers. I bought a small pequin pepper plant last year from FBMG. It survived the snowy winter and now thriving with fresh growth and abundant fruit. A general rule of thumb with mirchis is the smaller the mirchi, the hotter it tends to be. It’s no exception for pequin peppers. The itty-bitty pequin peppers pack a punch both fresh and sun-dried as dahi mirchi. I started adding them to tadka that we season the daals and curries. Salty, sour and hot, dahi pequin peppers are a real treat.

This age-old Bharath technique of preserving the chillies in dahi is easy. The process needs some patience and lots of sunshine. Here is the photo pictorial.


Fully Mature Pequin Pepper on 5 Rupee Coin


Add a cup of pequin peppers to a cup of dahi (Indian Yogurt). Mix a tablespoon of salt. Keep uncovered for three days on the kitchen countertop. Stir once a day. Dahi acts like preserving agent here.


Drain the dahi and reserve the pequin peppers. Spread them on a cloth and sun dry under hot afternoon sun until they are completely dry. Takes about 2 to 3 days depending on the sunshine.


Salty, Sour and Spicy ~ Sun-dried Dahi Pequin Peppers


Sun-dried Dahi Pequin Peppers ~ Toasted in Tadka

From Yesteryears:
More about Dahi Mirchi (Majjiga Mirapa)
Dahi Mirchi with Cayenne

Artisan Food ~ Saffron Paneer

Fresh Paneer and Saffron
Fresh Paneer and Saffron

Saffron Paneer
(serves 4 to 6)

Fresh, homemade paneer – half cup
Saffron – half teaspoon
Honey – one tablespoon

Soak saffron in two tablespoons of water for about 15 minutes.

Take paneer in a blender. Add the saffron along with the water it soaked in and also the honey. Blend well to smooth paste.

Serve saffron paneer as a dip or spread for vegetables, crackers or bread. Sprinkle some finely chopped dried fruits or nuts if you wish.

By combining saffron with fresh homemade paneer, this simple dip retains the richness of saffron and enhances the creamy taste of paneer.

Saffron Paneer on Bread
Saffron Paneer with Bread ~ for Breakfast Today
and for Dear DK’s JFI~Saffron

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

With this saffron paneer toast, I wish you my dear readers a wonderful holiday season. I will see you again in 2010.

Malai Kofta for a Potluck Party of 25

“You remember the potluck party on Saturday evening? I am making a list of the dish each of us will bring to the party. What should I put your name on?” …My friend on the phone.

“Let me think for a minute. mmm… Malai kofta. How does that sound?”

“Perfect for the holiday mood. Love it.”

I don’t know what prompted me to say malai kofta. Even though, malai kofta is my all time favorite dish, I rarely make it at home. To prepare it from scratch, some serious work is involved and if I do all the work, I feel like the romance is gone from experiencing this delicious dish. I prefer to keep it as a standard order for an indulgent mood at an Indian restaurant. Well, whatever prompted me to say malai kofta, I was glad I offered it. I had a chance to make it after longtime. The good thing is it came out well and we had some fun time at the party.

This is how I made the malai kofta on Saturday morning.


Malai Kofta for a Potluck Party of 25

Ingredient List:

For koftas (25×2=50 koftas):
1 gallon, whole milk and 2 limes- to make fresh paneer
5 russet or red potatoes, medium-sized
2 big carrots, grated
1/2 cup, cashews
1/4 cup, golden raisins
1 teaspoon, salt
1/2 teaspoon, chilli powder
To deep-fry the koftas:
1 cup, chapati flour
3 cups, peanut oil

For Malai Sauce:
2 red onions, jumbo sized
10 roma or vine ripe tomatoes, big size
2-inch ginger piece, skin peeled
2 plump garlic cloves, skins removed
1/4 cup, finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup each, cashews and golden raisins
1/4 cup each, fresh paneer and grated fresh coconut
1×1-inch, cinnamon stick
6 cloves
1 tablespoon, coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon each, cumin and fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon each, black pepper and turmeric
2 teaspoons, salt
1 teaspoon, chilli powder
1 cup, whole milk or 1/2 cup, cream

Method:

To prepare malai kofta from scratch, for a party of 25, it would take at least two hours, four burners of heat and decent amount of concentration. We need to make a minimum of 50 koftas and enough malai sauce to accommodate them.

Step 1 – Preparation for Paneer and Sauce: Prepare the ingredients for koftas and for malai sauce by placing four pots on four burners. Cook simultaneously for energy and time efficiency. Here is how I did it.

Burner 1 for Paneer: Pour one gallon of milk in a big, wide pot. Bring the milk to boil. Cut and add limejuice from 2 limes to the boiling milk. Milk starts to cuddle immediately. Stir continuously. When the white, fluffy clouds of paneer get big and separated from watery whey, pour the entire contents into a muslin cloth lined pot. Twist and squeeze the cloth several times to strain the paneer completely whey-free. Hang to drip-dry if possible. Divide the paneer into two parts – 3/4 (for koftas) and 1/4 part (for malai sauce).

Burner 2 for Potatoes: Wash and cut each potato into two. Take potatoes in a pressure-cooker. Add just enough water to cover them. Cook to fork tender. Drain the water. Peel the skins and mash the potatoes coarsely.

Burner 3 for Tomatoes: Place a pot on the stovetop and add a cup of water. Bring water to boil. Add tomatoes and cover the pot. When tomato skin starts to break, turn off the heat. Remove the cover to cool.

Burner 4 for Onions: Peel the skin and cut onions to chunk pieces. Heat a tablespoon of oil in an iron skillet. Add onion, and sauté to brown on high heat, stirring in-between.

Step 2 – Preparation for Koftas and Malai Sauce: Grind the prepared ingredients for koftas and for malai sauce. Connect a food processor and a Sumeet style mixer into power outlets and follow the procedure.

In food processor, add paneer, mashed potatoes, grated carrot, salt, chilli powder, cashews and golden raisins. Pulse few times first and then run the processor to combine the ingredients well. Remove the mix to a bowl. This will be shaped into koftas.

Clean the food processor. Put the tomatoes and blend. Add the water tomatoes simmered in for smooth run. Remove the tomato puree to a bowl.

To the food processor, add roasted onions. Blend into fine paste. Remove the onion paste to a bowl.

In a mixer, take cashews and grind to smooth paste. To this paste, add coconut, paneer, ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro leaves, golden raisins, black peppercorn, cumin, fennel, coriander seeds, cinnamon, and cloves. Grind the ingredients to fine consistency. The masala paste has to be extremely smooth. So run the blender for at least 5 minutes, adding few tablespoons of water when required.

Step 3: Simmer the Malai Sauce and Fry the Koftas

Simmer the Sauce: Place a wide, deep pan on the stove-top. Add and heat a tablespoon of oil. When oil is hot, add the roasted onion paste, masala paste. Saute for five minutes on medium heat, constantly stirring. Add the tomato puree, turmeric, milk or cream and 2 cups of water. Combine well. Have a taste and add salt and chilli powder if required. Cover and simmer the sauce on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring in-between. Avoid high heat and take care not to blacken the sauce at the bottom of the pan. When the sauce starts to thicken, turn off the heat.

Make Koftas: In another burner, place a skillet suitable to deep-fry. Add and heat peanut oil. While oil is getting hot, shape the koftas from the paneer mixture into small rounds of 1-inch diameter. Roll the paneer rounds into chapati flour, lightly coating the surface. This will keep the koftas intact during deep-frying process and prevents any breaks or spillages into hot oil. Prepare them all this way and line them in a tray.

When oil is hot, add the paneer rounds in batches and deep-fry to gold color. Remove and place them on a paper covered tray.

Step 4 – Serving Suggestions:

Keep the sauce and koftas separate in two containers until the party time. Because koftas are so delicately made, they tend to disintegrate when soaked in sauce for long period of time. When the food is arranged on the table and just before mealtime, gently place the koftas in rows in malai sauce. Warm the tray in oven for ten minutes on lowest heat setting, if required. Serve with chapati, paratha, naan or rice.

Malai koftas are without a doubt one of the best tasting Bharath recipes out there for parties, and I was glad to have a chance to enjoy them with friends during this holiday season.

I did manage to take few photos of the process. Here they are:


Grated Carrot, Mashed Potato, Freshly Made Paneer, Cashews and Golden Raisins ~ Ingredients for Koftas


Tomato Puree, Masala Paste and Roasted Onion Paste ~ For Malai Sauce


Blending the Ingredients for Koftas in a Food Processor


The Blended Mixture is Shaped into Round Koftas and Covered with Chapati Flour


Deep-fried Koftas


Malai Kofta, Mingling with Others at a Potluck Party


Malai Kofta, One Among Many, Finding its Place in Someone’s Plate

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Chocolate Gulab Jamuns

One can say sugar stimulates thinking. And one does not even need to be very active, the thoughts simply come when one eats sugary desserts – such strong thoughts that they even generate powerful dreams. In one such sugar induced dream, a chocolate chip in jamun belly was visualized. Follow your dreams. So, chocolate jamuns for a birthday bash were prepared. They were so easy to make, no fussy ingredients or procedures, and cooks right on the stovetop.

My twist in classic jamuns was a hit. Jamuns’ refreshing taste and texture is enhanced, but not overwhelmed, by an excitingly sweet chocolate center. Served with gulab flavored syrup, the jamuns tasted superb. I hope you too try the twist and enjoy this dessert with family and friends during the holiday season.

Chocolate Chip in Jamun Belly
Chocolate Chip in Jamun Belly

Chocolate Gulab Jamuns

Gulab jamun mix
Mini chocolate chips
Sugar
Rose (gulab) syrup

Prepare Jamun Dough: Prepare the jamun dough following the instructions on the box. Add water to jamun mix and make a firm dough. Rest the dough for 15 minutes. Then divide it into small portions and roll each portion into a perfect round using your clean hands.

Add Chocolate Chips: Make a dimple with your finger in each jamun round and add a chocolate chip. Bring the edges together and roll the dough into a smooth round, covering the chip completely. Prepare all jamuns in this way. Place them in a tray and cover.

Prepare Rose Syrup: Add sugar to water and bring to simmer. The ratio I follow is 1:1, for one cup of sugar, one cup of water is added. When sugar dissolves in water completely and starts to simmer, turn off the heat. Stir in few drops of rose(gulab) syrup.

Make Jamuns: Heat oil in a wide skillet and deep fry jamuns to deep burgundy color. Add them to rose flavored sugar syrup. The jamuns soak up the syrup, expand, almost double in size in an hour.

Enjoy: Serve the chocolate jamuns warm or chilled with some rose syrup.

Chocolate Gulab Jamuns
Chocolate Gulab Jamuns ~ for Cheerful Occasion

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

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.

WV7 ~ Kay’s Cabbage Thayir Saadam

Nandi Vardanam Flower from Backyard
Vratha Pusham ~ Nandi Vardhanam (Crepe Jasmine) from Backyard

Morning:
2 khaman with tomato chutney
A glass of ragi ganji without sweetener

Noon:
A cup of dal (Bok choy with toor dal) in rasam consistency
A cup of leftover chard with chickpeas
A big bowl of hot cilantro soopa
Half apple and half carrot, grated and mixed with homemade yogurt

Evening:
A glass of cold ginger buttermilk

Night:
A cup of Kay’s cabbage thayir saadam. Wonderful recipe and excellent taste. Parents also liked this combination. I had it with four jackfruit chips.
A cup of Bok choy dal
A cup of hot cilantro soopa

Workout:
An hour walk: 4 miles, and an hour pilates – morning
Gardening – evening

In retrospect:
Pleasant day. But miss rice and roti very much.

Kay’s Cabbage Thayir Saadam

“Take a cup of cabbage poriyal, and add a cup of thick yogurt. Mix well. Enjoy it with your choice of pickle or side dish.” Talented Kay wrote in one of her daily food logs. I had to try and it happened today.

Like Kay mentioned, cabbage and yogurt combination make a good substitute for thayir saadam (dadhojanam) and with right texture too. I noticed that the taste improves on refrigeration. Good recipe with cabbage.

Preparation is two step:

Step 1 – Prepare Cabbage Curry: Grate cabbage extremely thin using a mandoline or grater. Grated cabbage mimicks fine rice grain/noodle in shape and texture, so the thinner the cabbage gets, the better it tastes in this recipe.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add and toast cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves to fragrance. Add presoaked chana dal and finely chopped onions. Saute to crisp. Next goes the grated cabbage. Stir in salt, turmeric and coconut to taste. Cook until cabbage has wilted for few minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the curry to cool.

Step 2 – Add Yogurt: Serve a ladleful of cabbage curry in a bowl. Top it with homemade yogurt. Mix well and adjust salt to taste. Serve right away or refrigerate an hour for super experience.

Cabbage Thayir Saadam with Jackfruit Chips
Cabbage Thayir Saadam with Jackfruit Chips ~ For Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

WV4 ~ Ginger Buttermilk (Allam Majjiga)

Nitya Malli from Frontyard
Nitya Malli (Vinca/Periwinkle)

Morning:
A glass of ragi ganji without sweetener
Was in a rush, so just had few pieces of apple

Noon:
Half cup of leftover Pea Sprouts Soopa with Kale
One cup of Spinach sautéed with onion and fresh garbanzos
One cup of Tomato dal in rasam consistency

Evening:
A glass of ginger flavored buttermilk from homemade yogurt

Night:
One cup of cut carrots and cucumbers
One big bowl of hot tomato rasam
For dessert: half apple grated and added to a cup of cold soymilk. No smoothie but tasted good on this warm summer night.

Workout:
Weights and Abs class, and an hour walk at the gym – morning
Gardening in the evening

In retrospect:
Busy day, stressed out by evening and that triggered carbo cravings. Big bowl of hot, hot tomato rasam and cold ginger buttermilk saved the day.

Indian Yogurt, Ginger and Kavvam
Indian Yogurt, Ginger and Kavvam

Ginger Flavored Buttermilk (Allam Majjiga)

Ginger buttermilk saved the day many times in my life. My mother prescribes it to comfort stomachache, headache, sunstroke and lack of energy. It’s a cure-all elixir in her world. Continuing the tradition is this amma’s daughter. There is a saying in the Sutras “Just as nectar is for Gods, buttermilk is for humans”. I believe it.

Preparing buttermilk at home is very easy.

Take a ladle full of homemade yogurt in a glass. Add a pinch of salt. Churn with a Kavvam (traditional wooden churner from Bharath) until well blended. Then add a cup of water and churn again until a light froth appears on top.

To flavor the buttermilk with ginger: Take a thumb sized fresh ginger. Peel the skin and grate it finely. Take the grated ginger with your fingers and squeeze the ginger juice into buttermilk. Churn again until well mixed.

Enjoy this refreshing drink after a meal. You could also add few pieces of crushed ice or ice cubes for that cold effect. Ginger buttermilk is a neat alternative, if you are trying to avoid caffeinated drinks.

Allam Majjiga
Allam Majjiga ~ for Today’s Meal

WV2 ~ Paneer Tomato

Morning:
A cup of ragi ganji without sweetener
A small bowl of leftover apple-cherry salad

Noon:
About half cup of Paneer tomato. Very tasty and flavorful. Parents also liked this paneer curry.
A cup of yellow vatana(peas), soaked overnight, pressure-cooked and then sautéed with onion and cherry tomatoes and seasoned with hing, salt and black pepper. Generously doused with fresh limejuice.
A glass of tomato rasam

Evening:
A glass of delicious buttermilk with homemade yogurt

Night:
2 chana dal based vada in a cup of sambar soopa
Small serving of carrot-cucumber raita
Few cherries

Workout:
Friends came over for a visit and stayed for dinner. Did a ton of house work. Cleaning, cooking, then cleaning again. On my feet almost the whole day. I believe in a way this is also a form of exercise.

In retrospect:
Should have something at least by 9 in the morning.
Exhausting yet excellent day.

Paneer and Tomato

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

Paneer tomato tastes as heavenly as it looks. It captures some of the delectable flavor of summer season and puts the summer tomatoes to good use. Paneer provides added interest and some nutrition but without all the heaviness associated usually with paneer based curries. The recipe is from Sunitha’s website on recommendation from Kay. Thank you both for this wonderful recipe.

Ingredients:
6 big tomatoes (about an orange size)
12 to 15 half-inch cut paneer cubes
1 shallot or red onion – finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic-cilantro paste
1 tablespoon – coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon – salt
1/4 teaspoon each – red chilli powder and turmeric
1 inch piece cinnamon, 1 bay leaf, 1 cardamom, 4 cloves
From masala dabba: Tadka ingredients

Preparation:
Step 1: Cut tomatoes into big chunks. Take them in a pot. Add cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom and cloves. Also a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer. When tomatoes reach mushy-soft stage, turn off the heat and remove the pot from stovetop. Wait until cool, and then take them all in a blender and puree to soft without adding any extra water.

Step 2: In a pan, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. From masala dabba, add a pinch of cumin and a sprig of curry leaves. Toast to fragrance. Add onion and sauté to soft. Stir in ginger-garlic paste and fry for couple of seconds. Next goes the pureed tomato and the seasoning. Salt, red chilli powder, turmeric and coriander powder. Mix and cover the pot. On high heat, cook the tomatoes until the sauce thickens. Add paneer cubes. Simmer on low heat for another five minutes.

Serve warm with rice or roti or pasta. Good on it’s own too.

Paneer Tomato
Paneer Tomato ~ for Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

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