Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vegetarian Sandwich with Hummus

My sister sent me a ton of hummus - a 500g Ragu bottle worth to be precise and I accepted with trepidation.  I have made hummus in the past and found it simply boring until I hit upon the idea of adding fresh home made panneer to it.  My sis batch was even more bland than mine if possible.

This time I am trying another trick:  Pickling vegetables a la Debbie of Smitten Kitchen.  I had to change the recipe of course.  I am getting the stuff ready close to midnight.  No to matchstick cutting, certainly yes to mandolin grating.  Gau had used the last of my distilled white vinegar to try and make a bouncy ball out of Raw Egg and I had completely forgotten to replenish my pantry.  Make do with Apple Cider.

I  mandolined carrots, beetroots and chopped onion and capsicum.  I put carrot in the bottom, then onions, beetroot and finally capsicum.  I heated 1 cup apple cider vinegar with an equal volume of water and about 1 teaspoon of sugar and salt, until they dissolved.  I cooled and poured it over the vegetables; Some of the vinegar ooze out when I put the lid  on.  The top layer is definitely not steeped in vinegar.  Thank God it was only capsicum, tastes awesome even raw.
Professional Looking Ain't it?

Beetroot took over the colour and I lost all signs of my pretty orange - white - red - green layering :(

I had picked up some random greens at Ottanchatiram in Adyar, hoping it had some magical goodnesss about it. This time my pick turned out to be mudakathan keerai.  I had no clue how it could taste.  I simply washed it clean, chopped it fine and sauteed it with shallots and green chillies.  I made patties with this keerai, potatoes, some grated cheese and some cooked lentils. 

Packed and ready to go

scary redness
The rest was easy.  Three slices of bread toasted, buttered on one side, then hummus and patties on one half, hummus and pickled vegetables on the other.   I could have jazzed it up further with a bit of pesto/mint chutney, but I didnt gave either on hand.  The lunch box was a super hit.

This is not so much a recipe as how I get my kid to eat different greens without standing by him with a stern face while he eats :D
One surefire successful way is sandwiches such as these, a little potato and cheese to perk up the flavours and jazzier presentation as compared to our traditional keerai masiyal and paruppu satham. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lemon Yogurt Cake with a secret ingredient

Urad Daal, Vigno Mungo has superhuman (should I say superplant?) properties attributed to it - Good for bones, Good for diabetes, Anti inflammatory, Improves digestion, strength and vigour etc...  It is one of the two daals allowed during Shraddam.  Unsurprising, since it originated here in the Indian subcontinent.  (I am so proud that mango is Magnifera Indica, sounds like magnificent Indian ;)

Idli, Dosa, Adai and every tadka here in the south uses Urad daal, but in the dehusked and sometimes split form.  Medhu Vadai is the epitome of urad daal cooking, deep fried, donut shaped savoury snack.  I suck at making it.

The batter itself is an art, urad daal soaked for optimal time and ground to an airy paste with salt added just at the right time so that it doesn't release too much water before we start frying. The shape is even more complicated, I never get the donut shape and I simply abandon it in favour of the north Indian dahi-vada shape - an ellipsoid.  I also have a tough time ensuring it cooks through AND doesn't soak up too much oil.

My co-sister makes huge batches of these perfectly every time we visit my MIL.  My MIL points out my lack-of-skill, always adding I should do this more often, very good for the kids.  Mutinously, I make the other vadai, a mix of all daals.

 My chief conundrum in making this vadai is, for our family of light eaters, grinding the minimum daal quantity, 1 cup in the grinder, is too much.  The batter does not do well if refrigerated.  Grinding it in the blender DOES NOT result impart that whipped egg white texture to the batter and consequently poor vadai.  But, on Saraswathi Pooja day, I made perfect vadais, mainly because I made the batter and my cousin fried it all up.  We were 8 of us, including 4 kids and we could, between us and our neighbours finish all the vadai in 1 sitting.

The route I usually take with urad daal, the black version, is make grandiose plans for making Dal Makhani, Rajma Daal etc... and relegate the packet to the recess of my pantry after the first attempt.  This daal IS mucilaginous.  The word sounds a lot nicer than the texture.  Imagine cooking Okra in a pot of water?  The awful gooey-ness?  That is what this daal does if you are not very very careful.

The only way to use this daal is to fry it until it is as crisp as a potato chip (dry fry, not deep fry so orders of magnitude healthier).
This time I added it to my favourite yogurt cake :)  I would prepare a separate sauce since the daal does dominate a tad.  I might add a scant 1/4 cup more sugar next time.  Gau whines of course.  He prefers his cakes unhealthy.

  1. 1 cup atta
  2. 3/4 cup split black urad roasted until crisp and munchy, ground to a fine powder
  3. 1/4 cup maida - more of a good luck charm in case the urad does strange things to the cake
  4. 1 cup sugar
  5. 1 cup yogurt
  6. 1/3 cup oil
  7. 1 tsp baking powder
  8. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  9. 1 tsp lemon zest
  10. 1 lemon juiced
  11. 2 eggs
  12. 1 cup finely chopped apricots 
  13. 50 g shelled pistachios coarsely powdered
Heat oven to 175 deg C
Butter 2 loaf pans.
Mix the sugar, yogurt, oil in a bowl.
Add eggs one at a time and beat until well incorporated
Mix the flours, baking soda and baking powder in another bowl.
Mix the flours with the wet ingredients until just incorporated.
Add the lime zest and lime juice.
Fold in the apricots.
Divide the batter between the two pans
Top with pistachios, pressing gently into the batter.
Bake 30 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out with just crumbs.

Top encrusted with coarsely broken pistachios

Nice soft cake though a tad crumbly;
The cake had lovely dark spots and the apricot didnt look so neon-ic

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mango Chocolate Marbled Cake

It rained cows and horses Sunday night, Monday morning 6 am felt like 2 am. DH who pretends to go to bed at 9.30 just to put my younger one to sleep, always ends up asleep by 10 and awake early.  I think it is just old age.   He listened to local news and found schools were left off for the day.  Yay!

I woke my older son around 8.30 yelling I overslept and he is late for school and he will have to miss his Physics midterm.  He woke up in shock and said no problem he will brush and get dressed, I can drop him at school.  Exams start only at 9.   I let him rush to the bathroom and got busy making the marbled cake to dam the  flood of righteous anger that would follow my little trick ;)

This is one of the few Nigella Lawson recipes that work perfectly for me.  I had to tweak a little of course, it is in my DNA.  It is still a little over the top, but what the heck, you live only once.  I have tried both the mango version and the orange version, mocha taste always dominates.
  1. 200g butter, softened on the stove
  2. 1¼ cups sugar
  3. 1¾ cups whole wheat atta
  4. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  6. 5 eggs
  7. Zest of 1 lemon
  8. 1 tbspoon naturellment mango jam or orange juice+zest
  9. 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  10. 1 teaspoon roasted peaberry coffee powder, basically the stuff you use to make coffee every morning preferably without chicory.
  11. 1 tablespoon milk


Preheat the oven to 175deg C.
Grease 2 loaf pans.
Beat butter and sugar together, then add eggs 1 at a time and incorporate it into the batter.
Mix in lemon zest and jam/juice+zest
In another bowl mix the flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
Divide batter into two bowls (the one in which you mixed the flour would serve well)
Dissolve cocoa and coffee in milk.Add it to one of the two bowls and mix it in
Pour the cocoa bowl batter into the plain batter and gently mix the two so that the two colours interweave (dont let it get cocoa brown all over!)
Pour into buttered pans and bake 30 minutes until it smells done, leaves side of pan and toothpick comes out with crumbs only.
Let it sit on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before turning out on to the rack to get completely cold.
Slice and serve.
I left before the slicing was done, Gau handled the slicing and serving.

Gone in a day! By the time I decide to take a pic in the evening, only 1 almost-slice was left!

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