Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Guava Curry


Most acidic fruits like elephant apples, Indian jujube, green mangoes, Indian olives and star fruits, to name a few, are cooked in a sweet/sour kind of chutney but we have always had guavas without cooking. Guava curry is more popular in the western and drier regions of our country.
Guava is one of the most common fruits of summer and they are nutritious. It is said that one guava contains four times the amount of vitamin C as an orange. Tropical fruits always remind me of my childhood as we had so many trees and summer afternoons were spent amid those trees and the fruits they bore. Some trees bear fruits during winter too but winter harvests are never as bounteous as the one in summer.

Yesterday's harvest. I left out the semi-ripe ones from this photo. The brown patches look a little unsightly but does nothing to the taste!:) My yard has three trees. The first one came from my parents' garden. I had dug up a sapling that grew next to a guava tree of the pink variety. I was so sure that it would produce pink fruits too. Three or four years later, I can't remember exactly, I was disappointed to see that the pulp was creamy white. But the taste was so sweet that I didn't really keep on thinking about pink...

Coming to the recipe, it's from an old magazine that used the pink variety.

Ingredients:
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
10 -12 curry leaves
2-3 green chillies, scored lengthwise
A pinch of hing/asafoetida
1/2 cup curd, beaten
2 tomatoes, chopped
5 semi-ripe guavas, deseeded and diced
3 tsp, grated jaggery
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
Chopped herbs of your choice (I used serrated coriander)
2 tbs mustard oil

Method:
Heat the oil in a pan. When it's hot enough, add the fennel, cumin and mustard seeds.
Once they sputter, add the curry leaves, green chillies and hing.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till they turn mushy. This will take about 10 minutes.
Stir in the beaten curd and give the mix a good stir.
Add about 1/2 cup warm water and the diced guavas. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so till the guavas turn soft.
Add the jaggery, garam masala, lemon juice and salt. Check and make adjustments, if needed.
Take it off the heat and garnish with the chopped herbs,
This goes with either rice or with puris.
Pink guavas from my mother's garden
I loved it. Although my boys weren't keen on it, I'm glad I tried this dish. Particularly with home-grown produce.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fritters Made Of Water Lily Stalks

The wide plains of our state is rich in aquatic plants. And during this season, water spinach and water lilies with their extra long stalks are widely sold. Our regular vendor who comes each morning in his bicycle with baskets laden with banana flowers, lemons, chillies, and various leafy greens had plenty of water lilies yesterday. Now with flowers that look like these, who can resist them?
I usually ask the vendors how they like to eat/cook the vegetables they sell. In this case, he said that they taste really good when you stir-fry the stems with some garlic. But I had done that before and quite liked it. These stalks are mild in taste and need very little cooking time.
A basket of water lilies
 The pretty flowers were drowsy in the hot sun and I simply couldn't take my eyes off them.


Water lily stalk fritters:
Recipe adapted from here.
Ingredients:
Water lily stems
Chick pea flour
Rice flour
Chilli powder
Nigella seeds
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
A dash of sugar
A pinch of baking soda
Oil to fry

Method:
Remove the flowers and wash the stalks. Peel the skin. It comes off easily in long strips. The action is the same as stringing beans or removing the skin from colocasia stems. You could cut the stalks into four or five parts to make it easier. Cut into even-sized pieces.
Wash and drain in a colander.
Take a toothpick and skewer the cut stalks like a small raft. I used 6 pieces for each 'raft'.
Keep doing so till all the prepared stalks are used up. 
In a bowl, mix the flours. No measurements are given here as with fritters we usually go by eye. The proportion is that there should be two parts chick pea flour and one part rice flour.
Add the seasonings and the nigella seeds. Mix well. Add water and make a thick batter.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan.
Dip each 'raft' in the batter and fry in the hot oil. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
The toothpicks can be removed but I left them on.

Instead of making regular chutney. I made a tzatziki dip with...
1 cup of strained yoghurt
1 small cucumber, peeled and grated and the water squeezed out
Salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic peeled, crushed and chopped to bits
Freshly grated black pepper, as per taste
A drizzle of extra virgin olive olive oil
Mint leaves as a garnish
Combine all the ingredients except the last two, till homogeneous. Drizzle the olive oil on top and garnish with a few mint leaves/sprigs.

The reddish colour comes from the use of chilli powder. I loved the fritters. With the rest of the stalks, I'll be trying out another recipe soon.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Pineapple Pies Again!


Hello everyone! I haven't been very active here this month but I have been pretty busy on my Facebook page.:) I realized this was the last day of July and I couldn't possibly sail on to the next month without a new post. Well, it's a pie I had made before. With all the pineapples that my husband brought from his latest trip to the old hometown, I have come down to the last two. A few were given away and the rest went into making salads and juice.
My husband retired this year in January. Since then he's been travelling to Haflong, our hometown where our house is being constructed. It's almost completed now. On every trip he brings a lot of fresh produce which we share with relatives and sometimes with his former colleagues. The other day, in return for pumpkins and pineapples, one gentleman sent us return gifts. Fifteen fresh eggs from the ducks he rears at home! What a treat that was!

Coming to the post, the recipe has been adapted from Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook.

Ingredients:
1 small pineapple
100 grams sugar
2 tsp butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
The Cream Cheese Pastry
150 grams soft butter
150 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
200 grams all-purpose flour
1 tsp fine sugar
A pinch of salt

To make the pastry, mix the butter, cream cheese, salt and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the flour and bring the dough together. Tip the content on your work top and shape into a disc. Wrap in clingfilm and keep in the fridge for about an hour.

Cut off the ends of the pineapple. Peel off the skin with a sharp knife and remove eyes. Cut out 8 discs. The pastry dough is enough for 8. I used a bottle cap to take out the hard core from every disc.
Heat a frying pan. Place the sugar on a plate and press the pineapple slices on both sides so that the slices get coated.
Add the pineapple slices to the hot pan. Let them cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Add the butter to the pan and give the pan a little shake. The fruit slices will caramelize beautifully. Remove on to a paper-lined plate and set aside to cool.

Take out the pastry dough and start rolling. Roll out one disc, brush edges with egg wash. Then place one caramelized pineapple in the centre. Roll out another circle and place it on top of the pineapple. Trim the edges and secure by pressing a fork all along the border. Prick some holes with the same fork on the surface for steam to escape. Keep the prepared pie on a baking paper-lined tray. Repeat till all the pineapple discs and dough is used up. Place each prepared pie in the fridge as you keep working...
Mine were about 4" in diametre. 

I kept my pies simple. Cream cheese pastry is delicious but a little hard for me to handle. So unlike Rachel, I couldn't go ahead with the pretty floral designs that she created.
Brush the pies with egg wash and bake in a preheated 220 C oven for about 20 minutes. I had to bake it a little longer as the pies didn't turn golden in 20 minutes.
Once they are out of the oven, you could use a sugar/cinnamon syrup to brush the surface.

Place 50 grams sugar, 1/2 tsp  ground cinnamon and 50 ml water in a small pan. Let it come to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
The pies can be served warm with ice cream or strained yoghurt. I used the latter with a drizzle of honey and a few fennel leaves.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Jackfruit Seed Pulao

Jackfruit seed pulao
Jackfruit seed pulao
When it comes to jackfruits, it's the raw form or the seeds that we consume, more than the ripe ones. I was happy to get this wonderful supply of seeds from my childhood garden. My mother had been drying and storing the seeds for me and my siblings. Luckily, four of us live in the same city so if anything is sent, dividing the same becomes much easier.
I used the seeds in a pulao dish today. Many like to chop up the seeds and add to fried rice as well. For those of us who love the seeds, any recipe is welcome.:)

Ingredients:
Serves 4
2 cups Basmati rice
About 35-40 jackfruit seeds
2 sticks of cinnamon
6-7 cloves
2 tejpatta
3 bruised green cardamom
1 badi elaichi/black cardamom
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced fine
A small piece of ginger, ground
3 cloves of garlic, ground (along with)
2 green chillies
Some leaves of coriander
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of ground cardamom
Vegetable oil as needed
About 50 grams of butter
Salt to taste

The seeds, boiled ones in the bowl...and in the pan...being fried

Method:
~ Remove the outer papery skin of the jackfruit seeds and set aside.
~ Wash the rice and soak with enough water for an hour. 
~ After an hour, drain the rice in a colander. It's best if the rice is almost dry.
~Meanwhile. boil the jackfruit seeds in very little water to which a bit of salt is added till they are half done.
~ Drain in a colander.
~ Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and fry one sliced onion till golden brown.
~ This can be used to scatter over the rice before serving.
~ Remove the fried onions with a slotted spoon and set aside.
~ Heat 4 cups of water. Take about one tablespoon of water in a small bowl and add a pinch of saffron to it. Crush the strands with the back of a spoon.
~ In the same oil, throw in the aromatics. Then add the rest of the onions.
~ Cook till they turn translucent, then add the ginger and garlic/chilli pastes.
~ Add the jackfruit seeds and cook for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the drained rice and stir gently taking care not to break the grains while doing so.
~ Fry for about 5-6 minutes, then add the water. Season with salt and add the saffron water. Stir well but be gentle.
For 1 cup of rice, I add nearly two cups of water.
~ Cover with a well-fitting lid till the liquid almost dries up.
~ Take off the lid and stir/fluff with a fork then add the butter, in knobs all across the surface.
~ Cover again and let it remain on a low flame for another 8-10 minutes.
~ Switch off the flame and let the pan soak up all the residual heat till you are ready to eat!
Before serving, scatter the fried onions on top of the rice. You can also use the coriander leaves for garnishing.


To accompany the pulao, I rustled up a minty raita. A bunch of mint leaves were ground up with two green chillies. A bowl of creamy curd was whisked with the addition of a dash of rock salt, a drizzle of honey and a bit of toasted/ground cumin seeds. I finished it off with a sprinkling of pomegranate.
The other was a simple salad of cucumber with chillies and coriander leaves.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Masur Dal With Roselle Leaves

Masur dal with roselle leaves

In the garden of my childhood, one small portion was set aside for the roselle plant. The tart leaves usually went into dal and with the red fruit. I remember my mother making jelly. And so beautiful it was with the red so vibrant. Since the plants were always in our backyard, during its season, roselle was treated like any other locally available greens. I was surprised to see it termed as one of the super foods by Rujuta Diwekar, India's leading nutritionist, in her book Indian Super Foods.
Rich in folic acid and iron, it also helps in stimulating the stomach and cleans the intestines. During the rainy season, leaves are a breeding ground for micro-organisms. However, the roselle remains unaffected and it makes it safe for us to consume it. I remember once my help refused to have cooked vegetable fern during this season. He told me that certain leaves are not eaten during the rainy season because leeches lay eggs on them. Yikes!
In my mother tongue, we call it theklou. In Assamese, it's tengamora. Ambadi in Maharashtra and gongura in Andhra. The list goes on. In fact one of the most famous roselle dishes must be 'gongura pachadi'.

Dal with roselle leaves:
1/3 cup masur dal
Water as needed
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
One bunch roselle leaves. washed and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 dry red chillies, snapped off in the middle
A quarter tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp mustard oil
You can add more spices here if you want. But I kept it simple and it was still good!

Wash and soak the dal for about 10 minutes.
Put dal and water in a pressure cooker. I used my smallest cooker. 
Add turmeric powder and salt.
Cook till one whistle goes off.
Let the steam go off.
In a pan, heat the oil. When it comes to smoking point, throw in the cumin seeds and the chillies. 
Remove the chillies if you like. They can be added again later,
Add the onions and fry till they turn golden brown.
Add the chopped roselle leaves and cook for a couple of minutes.
Pour the hot dal into the pan and cook for another 2 minutes or so.
Switch off the flame and transfer the dal to a serving bowl.
This goes well with rice and one or two more accompaniments.


Some of the leaves will be added to fish curry but the other day, I used some tender ones in mint chutney. Mint chutney needs a souring agent and we usually use lemon juice or tamarind pulp or tender mangoes (when in season) but using roselle is another option. What do you say?
Other roselle posts on my blog:

Roselle Chutney
Life Would Be Bland Without Chutney

Thank you so much for stopping by today.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mango Panna

Mango panna

One of the most refreshing drinks to beat the heat is this drink made from unripe green mangoes. It's almost the end of the season for green mangoes and the markets are already getting flooded with ripe ones. A vegetable vendor came selling mangoes and a whole lot of leafy greens yesterday and the first thought that came to my mind was, aam panna. The mangoes were about to ripen which is why the drink looks more yellow than pale green. 

Ingredients:
4 unripe mangoes
Rock salt/kala namak
Toasted and powdered cumin seeds
Sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Plenty of mint
Ice cubes
Mango panna
You can use regular ice cubes but I wanted to infuse more flavour in the drink. So I ground a bunch of mint and added some water, pepper, toasted and powdered cumin and rock salt, This mixture went into an ice tray to be turned into minty ice cubes.

Method:
Wash and cook the mangoes with very little water in a pressure cooker. I used a small cooker and waited till the third whistle.
After the steam goes off, take the cooked mangoes out, discard the water and let them cool down.
Once cooled, peel off the skin and take out the pulp. Discard the seeds.
Place the pulp in a blender and blend till smooth.
Transfer the pureed mango to a large bowl/jug and add the sugar (I used sugar syrup that I had in the fridge), salt, cumin powder, pepper powder.
I have not mentioned the quantity of these ingredients as it's to do with personal preferences. For the sweetener, you could use honey or jaggery also.
At this point you could add water and serve in individual glasses or store in the fridge so that the mix is ready and the drink can be made by adding water as and when required. I made mine thick so four mangoes (medium-sized) produced only six glasses of juice.
Add the ice cubes and enjoy! Add more fresh mint if you like.
Mango panna

The minty flavourful ice cubes took the drink to another level. And when the ice melted, the drink took a greenish tinge, more like the colour that we are accustomed to when we think about 'aam panna'.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Purslane Pancakes With Tomato & Apple Chutney

Purslane pancakes

It's that time of the year when weeds thrive in the garden. And some are edible. Like the common purslane/Portulaca oleracea. And because they are acidic, only a small amount is needed, whether they are added to other vegetables or to dal. Purslane is said to contain more Omega 3 acid than any other leafy vegetable. It is also rich in antioxidants. The only caution needed to be taken is that because of its high presence of oxalic acid, people who are already suffering from kidney stones should avoid it.

This image that I had used in one of my purslane posts earlier sums up this season. The sunset bells have started to bloom and this is when the edible weeds sprout in nooks and crannies with its many-stemmed and succulent leaves. Because of its mucilaginous quality, it is used in soups and stews. Sometimes when I get help in weeding I usually ask my helper about how they eat/cook commonly available food. Most of them have the same answer...added to dal and other vegetables.
Other purslane posts on my blog.
Fish & Purslane Fritters
Purslane & Corn Salad
Surfing the internet for more purslane recipes, I came across these pancakes here. I made my own adjustments.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
A small bunch of purslane, washed and chopped
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
Dash of pepper
Salt to taste
Water as needed
Pinch of baking soda
Vegetable oil to fry
Purslane

Method:
I mixed the egg and milk together. In another bowl I mixed flour with baking soda, pepper and salt. Then water was added and mixed. When no lumpy bits remained, this was added to the milk/egg mixture. To this, the chopped purslane was added.
This was beaten well and fried in a non-stick pan. I used a ring mould for the pancakes to hold their shape. When one side was done, it was flipped over and cooked till done.
From this batter, I got four mini pancakes.
To go with the pancakes I made a hot and sweet chutney. I could have used chillies in the pancakes but since the chutney was intended to be hot, I only added a bit of black pepper to the batter.
This is like the regular chutney that is popular in our part of the country. I added an apple to make it slightly different.
Tomato & Apple Chutney

3 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and sliced
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped and drizzled in a bit of lemon juice
10-15 raisins, soaked in warm water
7-8 dates, pitted and sliced
A few cashew nuts
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Demerara sugar as per taste
2 tbs mustard oil
1/2 tsp panch puran

Heat the oil in a pan and when it comes to smoking point, throw in the panch puran.
Add the chopped apples and tomatoes and continue to cook.
Add the chilli powder and turmeric,
Cook till the apples are soft and the tomatoes turn mushy.
Then add the dates and raisins.
Add the sugar and cook till it melts. That's when the chutney will look good.:)
Add the nuts, give it a good stir and remove from the flame. Transfer to a serving dish.
Optional: Toasted and ground cumin and coriander powder can be added. Another souring agent like tamarind pulp, dried roselle, or more lemon juice can be added.
The lemon juice I used to drizzle the apples was good enough for me. The balance of sweet and sour was taken care of.