Thursday, December 13, 2012

Carrot Celery Soup (Gluten Free)

Carrot Celery Soup with Brown Rice Pasta

Soup makes a great one pot meal, when you make it chunky and thick. This soup can be made thick or thin. I was cleaning up my fridge to buy some new veggies so these were waiting to cooked.
1 Bunch Celery (the long one)
I Small Bag of baby carrots  (which we forgot to snack on during the week)
4 Large Carrots
2 small red Radish (which somehow escaped when I made radish sambar)
A small bunch of Spring onion (bottom to fry along with the onion and top to garnish)
So I set out to make the soup.

Prep time - to cut veggies about 10 minutes
Cooking Time - Saute - 10 Minutes Pressure Cook 15 mins blend and Garnish 5 mins
You will need
Celery - Chopped in 1/2 finger long lengths
Carrots - chopped in big pieces (No need to chop the baby carrots)
Spring Onion Onion - 1 (Chopped in big pieces)
Garlic - 1 (in cloves)
Oil - 1 Tablespoon
Cilantro to Garnish
Cumin - 1 Tsp
Salt - 1 and 1/2 Teaspoon
Vegetable Broth or Water  - 1 Quart 
Butter 1/4 Teaspoon
Cayenne Pepper Powder - 1/8 Teaspoon
All Spice Powder - 1/4 Teaspoon
If you don't have these on hand, you can substitute any other spice that you like.
I feel Cayenne Pepper adds a different kind of spiciness to the soup rather than regular chilly powder.

I forgot to take a picture after adding the carrots, the  last pic was taken after the veggies were cooked in the pressure cooker, while blending them.

--->In a Pan, on a medium flame, add the oil. When it starts to get hot, add the cumin, saute it till it slowly starts sizzling, add the garlic cloves, then the onion  and spring onion, and saute it till it all starts coming together.
--->Now add the celery, mix once
--->Add the carrots, mix once. Add Salt
--->Transfer the contents to a Pressure Cooker and give it 3 whistles.
--->After the pressure comes down, take a hand blender and blend it all well.
--->In the pan you sauteed the veggies, add the butter and when it melts add the spice powders and mix well, now add the blended contents  and the broth to this. Mix well. Taste for Salt
---->Garnish with the Chopped (top part) Spring Onions and Cilantro

To make this thick and make it a one pot meal, I cooked some brown rice pasta  and served it together.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fried Rice with Veggies and Tofu

                                                                            Fried Rice

 I've always wanted to make the perfect fried rice, and one of the main things you need for that is cold, cooked rice. I usually don't have any leftover rice, so could never make it instantly. So I made the rice a day ahead of time, a first for me. I have used half brown rice and half Sona Masoori Rice. You can use any kind of rice, as long as you cook the grains separate. I mixed both the rices, and used 1:2 water ratio. I cooked it in a pressure cooker and after taking the rice out, let it cool in a tray for an hour and then put it in a container and put it in the fridge.

Fried Rice for 4 to 5 

Rice 1 and 1/2 Cups (Half Brown and Half Sona Masoori)
Tofu - 14oz  (Drained and cut in to square pieces)
Potato - 1 Large cut in to Strips
Cabbage - Cut in thin Strips
Red Bell Pepper -  Cut in thin Strips
Carrots -  Cut in thin Strips
Spring Onion - 1 Bunch (Cut in pieces, but reserve the top half separately for garnish)
Garlic - 7 to 8 Cloves Chopped in little pieces

Prep Work

 Oil - 5 Teaspoons
Soy Sauce - 2 Tablespoons
Ketchup - 2 Teaspoons
Black Pepper  1 Teaspoon (roasted and ground)
Salt to taste


---> (Medium flame)In a Pan, add 1 Tsp oil, and spread it evenly on the pan. Add the tofu pieces and sprinkle a bit of salt on them, and cook  them till they turn slightly brown.

Get all your items ready and be prepared to be at the stove for the next 12 to 15 minutes, for stirring the veggies, without leaving its side. Also you have to add a bit of salt each time you add every vegetable.
These times are given for the measurements given above, if you want to double the ingredients to feed a larger crowd, please remember to give the items a little extra time so all the veggies can cook perfectly.

---> In a thick bottomed pan, (Medium High Flame) Add the rest of the oil, add the garlic, roast them till they turn a little brown, add the spring onions, fry them for about 2 mins, add the potatoes, fry for about 3 to 4 mins, keep stirring, add the cabbage, and give it for about 3 mins, and then add the carrots and the bell pepper, and stir, and dont foget to add the salt each time you add a vegetable.

---> Check the veggies to see if they have cooked, especially the potato, and the rest can be a bit crunchy.

----> Once you have made sure the veggies have cooked, switch of the stove, and add the rice. When you add the rice, add by hand and kind of try to make the grains separate. They might be a little squishy since it was kept in the fridge. Add the Tofu, Black Pepper Powder, the soy sauce, the ketchup and salt for the rice.

----> Mix the rice, tofu, veggies and the sauces together. And start the stove again, and on a medium flame close the pan and let the items bled together for about 3 to 5 mins.

---> Garnish with the top half of the chopped Spring onions and serve.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pacha Maavu Podi Upma aka Heaven on a Plate

Pacha Maavu means raw flour. This is made with raw rice flour.  This is one of mine and my sister's comfort foods. Morkoozh and Pulima are different versions of this. Will post recipes of those also.

Shown with a Roasted Mor Milagai

You Need
Rice Flour - 1 Cup
Buttermilk - 3 cups
Salt - 1 and 1/2 Tea Spoons
Oil - 1/4 cup
Curry Leaves - a few
Mustard - 1/2 Tea Spoon
Red Chili - 3 or 4 broken
Mor Milagai - optional
Hing - 1/2 Tea Spoon

---> Mix the buttermilk and rice flour well so there are no lumps
---> In a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil, and when it gets hot, add the mustard, Red Chilies, Curry Leaves, Hing, Mor Milagai and roast all of them on the medium flame.
--> Add the rice mixture to this and mix well.
---> keep stirring this and it will keep forming lumps, and patiently stir it so that everything gets cooked evenly.
---> it will eventually become powdery and soft.
---> once it is fully cooked, remove from flame and eat.
if it is fully cooked, it should not stick to your fingers and also the raw smell will not be there.
Adai / The Burnt Part
The above picture is the crust which is formed in the pan and it is very tasty..

A great pairing for this is Oma Vathakuzhambu, Narthalai Podi, and Mor Milagai

Rava Kesari / ரவா கேசரி

Rava Kesari / Sojji 

Rava Kesari is a traditional Tamil Sweet. This is also called Sojji by Tamilians.
Rava is called Sooji in Hindi, it is nothing but coarse wheat.
Traditionally this is made with Bajji, when the groom comes over to the Bride's house to 'officially' see the girl in an arranged marriage.
The measurements I have given will give at least 10 servings. You might think that is a lot of ghee but, it is a sweet after all and you need that much ghee to make it melt in your mouth :)
It doesn't take long to make...

You will need: (for about 10 servings)
Rava- 1/2 Cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup (little more if you have a sweet tooth)
Ghee - 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup (Yes, I am sure about this :) ) the more ghee you add the more it will melt in your mouth...
Cashew Nuts - a few (optional)
Raisins -  a few (optional)
Orange Color - (Optional) but lot of south Indians won't accept it is Kesari, unless it is in Orange Color and Kesari means Orange (Saffron Flower) in Sanskrit
Saffron - a few strands
Cardamom - 1/4 TeaSpoon
Water - 3 times that of Rava , in this case 1 and 1/2 cups

---> This dish should be cooked in a medium flame only.
---> In a pan, add 1 tablespoon of ghee and after it becomes hot add the cashews and roast them.
---> Keep that aside and in the same pan, add 1 Tablespoon of Ghee and Roast the Raisins
---> Keep that aside and add half of the remaining ghee and roast the rava. The rava should be roasted to a soft golden color. Once it is a nice golden color all over, switch the stove off, and then add the water.
---> Mix the rava with the water so no lumps are there. Once that is done, now switch the stove back on, on a medium flame and slowly  keep stirring the pot.
---> In a few minutes, the rava will start absorbing the water and start becoming thick, once it has absorbed all the water, add the remaining ghee, sugar, Cardamom powder, roasted nuts, Roasted Raisins and the orange color and keep stirring the pot.
---> The sugar will melt and the ghee will bind everything together, and it will come together like halwa. At this point you can pour it on to a plate and wait for it to cool..

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Weeknight Dinner in an hour and 30 mins.

This weeknight dinner can be made in an hour and 30 mins, starting from the bread. Of Course you have to multi task, otherwise, this is going to take atleast 2 to 3 hours :)

Mango / Avocado salad
Basic tomato soup.
Antique Bread.

Start with the Bread,
You will need a regular Loaf Pan.

Antique Bread:
You might think Antique is old, but here it really means there are no fancy ingredients in this bread.
Just plain old sugar, salt, oil, flour and yeast.
 Water 1 and 1/2 Cups
Oil 3 Tablespoons
Salt 1 and 1/2 Teaspoons
Sugar 3 Tablespoons
Bread Flour 3 Cups
Yeast - 2 and 1/2 Teaspoons
Vital Wheat Gluten - 1 Tablespoon
I also add 1 Teaspoon of Soy Lecithin and usually substitue 1 cup of Whole Wheat Flour in the Bread flour so it will be 2 cups white and 2 cup Wheat. You can make it 1 and 1/2 cups of each, but the bread will be dense and will not absorb the soup well.

Add the Ingredients in the order given and make a dough. I have a bread machine and make the dough in that. you have to knead for at least 20 mins and shape it in a loaf shape and place in pan let it rest for 30 Mins.
Pre heat the oven for 350 deg F and place in oven and take out after 30 mins or when a thermometer is inserted in to the middle part of the loaf and the temp is 200 degrees.
Let it sit for 20 mins and slice.
The more you let the bread sit, the better it is for the bread and the easier it is to slice. I have made two loaves.

Basic Tomato Soup
While the Bread is kneading and resting, you can start the tomato soup.
I use the Whole food brand Canned Tomato 32 oz
1 quart of Vegetable broth
4 to 5 Medium Size Tomatoes (Chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 large Carrot (Chopped)
5 Cloves of Garlic
Olive oil - about 2 Tablespoons
Spices - 1 bay leaf, and 5 peppercorns and 1/4 tsp cumin

Optional - I have used a Banana Pepper, which I had lying around in the fridge.
Salt to taste
In an Pan, add the oil and when its hot, add the garlic, cumin and pepper corns, and saute for a minute, then add the onion and saute for few mins until the color turns to a pale pink and then add the carrots and then add the tomatoes.
At this point, I usually pressure cook this. If you want to avoid that, then it should all come to a nice rolling boil and let sit for at least 20 mins. If you do this, then you might want to add water. In a pressure cooker , the items don't get dry.
Once the pressure is cooled, run an immersion hand blender ( I cant make soup without one) and make a puree. If you don't own one, then transfer the contents to a mixer or food processor.
Then add the broth to this and let it come to a slow boil.
Taste and add salt.

Mango / Avocado salad
1 Ripe Mango -- 1/2 sliced length wise in slit in half
1 Ripe avocado-- 1/2 sliced length wise in slit in half
1 Jalapeño - 1/2
Red Leaf Lettuce -- 8 to 10 leaves
Walnuts - 1 handful, chopped
1 cucumber - slit in half and sliced.
Salt - as needed
Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
1/2 Lemon - squeezed
Ground Pepper - 1/2 teaspoon

Just toss everything in and serve chilled.

Manathangaali keerai / spinach

My friend Mrs. Raji Ramachandran grows this kind of greens in her backyard. We use the fruits (really tiny) as a side to many dishes, you can see the dry version here. This is very high in iron just like spinach. You would also cook it like any other spinach, south indian style.
However, this is a little different version, Mrs. Raji Ramachandran's version.

You wash the spinach and drain well. Cut in small pieces, keep aside. For 2 cups of spinach, you can use 1 cup of moong dal. Wash the dal, In a vessel, put the spinach, place the dal and add a little chili powder and salt on top. Do not mix. Place in cooker and let cook for atleast 3 whistles.
In a pan, add oil, add urad dal, red chili, cumin and let roast until you can smell the spices, don't burn them. Grind the spices with a little coconut and keep aside.
Once the pressure is off, put the spinach in the pan add the ground masala to this and give a tadka with mustard seeds, chili, and curry leaves. This will taste great with rice or hot rotis.

In the Picture Above, is a typical weekend lunch at out house, starting from left to right on top is
Rasam, White Rice, Brown Rice, Kovakkai (Tindora) Kari, Potato Kari, and Manathankaali Keerai.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Vella Adai and Kara Adai

         Both of these are small Rice cakes one sweet and one spicy, and are made for Karadayan Nombu. This festival comes on the first day of the Tamil Month Panguni. For people who know the Story of Satyavan and Savitri, this was the day she fought the God of Death, Yama, to bring her Husband back to life. You can read the story in detail here.
          When my son was 9 years old, I was telling him this story and said that all married women pray that their husbands that they lead a healthy and long life and unmarried girls pray for a good husband. And  after listening to the whole story, my son stumped me with this question "What kind of a puja does Appa do, so that you may lead a long healthy life?" :))
                     Vella Adai
Items Needed:
Rice Flour  1 Cup
Jaggery 3/4th to 1 cup
water - 2 to 2 and 1/2 cups
Black Eyed Peas  1/2 Cup (or lesser if you prefer) (I like the beans so I usually add a little more)
Cardamom - a few peeled and powdered
Coconut - cut in to tiny tooth shaped pieces (optional)

----> Pre Soak the the Black Eyed Peas and drain them. I usually soak it overnight, but if you are planning to cook it before you add it to the rice flour, then soak it just for 10 mins.
----> Dry Roast the Rice flour till it changed color lightly on a medium flame.
----> Keep Aside, and add the jaggery. If you like it sweeter then, add a bit more jaggery. Add water to this and let it melt. Turn the Stove on, and let the jaggery turn in to a thick syrup.
----> At this point add the Cardamom powder and the Black Eyed Peas and let it boil for a minute.
----> Turn the Stove off and then add the Rice flour. If you feel the dough is dry and need to add a little more water, then go ahead and add, just make sure the dough is like a good bread dough.
---->In the Picture Below, the dough on the left hand side is the Vella Adai Dough.  and the one on the right is the Kara Adai Dough.
Kara Adai: (I make more of these since my daughter is very fond of them)
Items Needed:
Rice Flour  1 and 1/2 Cup
Green Chillies - 4 or 5 Chopped (Depending on your spice level)
Water - 2 and 1/2 to 3 cups

Black Eyed Peas  2/3 Cup (or lesser if you prefer) (I like the beans so I usually add a little more)

Curry Leaves-   A few
Oil - 1 Tablespoon
Mustard - 1 Teaspoon
Hing - 2 Dashes
Salt - 1 and 1/2 Spoons (less if you prefer)
Coconut - cut in to tiny tooth shaped pieces (optional)
----> Pre Soak the the Black Eyed Peas and drain them. I usually soak it overnight, but if you are planning to cook it before you add it to the rice flour, then soak it just for 10 mins.
----> Dry Roast the Rice flour till it changed color lightly on a medium flame.

----> Keep Aside, and add the Oil
---->Let the oil become hot, and then add the mustard seeds, While they sputter, add the hing, chopped Green Chillies, and the curry leaves, and then the Black Eyed Peas and Fry for about a minute
----> Now, add the water and salt and let it come to a slow boil.
----> Turn the Stove off and then add the Rice flour. If you feel the dough is dry and need to add a little more water, then go ahead and add, just make sure the dough is like a good bread dough.

Steaming Process
Now that the Dough is ready, we are ready to make Adais.
Make the steamer ready, in my case, I just used a kadai and put  a cooker ring in it to get some height and then placed my steamer on it. IF you want you can smear the steamer with oil, but it is not necessary. Add water in the pan and let it come to a boil,
---->Meanwhile, make balls out of the Vella Adai Dough and flatten it and make a hole in the middle
----> Do the same process with the Kara Adai Dough ..
----> Steam for about 15 minutes.

 When you are ready to offer this to God, on a clean banana leaf, place one of each adais and a dollop of White Butter and say
“Urugaatha Vennayum Oru kaaradayum naan nootren
Orukaalamum en kanavar ennai vittu piryadhirukkavendum”
(I offer you un-melted butter and one Kaaradai, At no time whatsoever should I ever be separated from my husband)  
Since I don't have access to Banana Leaves, I put them on a plate... :)