Feb 28, 2010

How to make Pizza dough / base!!

The last time when I made pizza from scratch, it consumed a whole lot of my time. I started around 9 in the morning, and by the time it was ready it was almost 2 in the afternoon. It is not a tedious tiring process,infact doesnt take more than 30 minutes for the dough preperation , but the whole process of leavening and proofing takes up the time.
So this time, I actually made the pizza base the previous day itself. The next day, I just had to work on the toppings. Of course, it will be really nice if you make on the same day, top them with cheese and ingredients of your choice and bake them together. You could even make the dough in advance and use it when you make the pizza. So its your choice how you plan to do it.
The whole recipe and the method of preperation is slightly different from the previous one. Unlike last time when I grilled the base, this time I decided to bake it. I have used only maida , though a little unhealthy , its ok to have a authentic one instead of a substitute atleast sometime!!!! But if you are really too conscious about what you eat, you can refer to the previous recipe where I have used wheat flour. And as promised in my last post, I am posting a different version of pizza making. And am sure to post some more in my future posts. So I hope you look forward to my next post for the actual pizza!!
pizza baseIngredients-
Maida/AP flour- 2 1/2 to 3 cups
Warm water- 3/4 to 1 cup(98F to 115F)
Active yeast- 1tbsp
Salt- 2tsp
Oil(preferably olive oil)- 1tsp

pizza baseMethod-
Pour the water in a large bowl. Add the yeast cells to it. Leave it for 10 minutes till it froths/bubbles up. Add the sugar.
Now add the flour along with salt and mix well to form a soft pliable dough. Coat the dough with the oil and place in a bowl . Wrap the bowl with a cling/plastic wrap. Leave this for 2 to 2 1/2 hours in a warm place.
The dough will doubles in volume. Now punch the dough. Place the dough on floured surface and knead well for 4 to 5 mintes. Now the dough should smooth and non sticky.
Make around 6 to 7 balls with the dough. Roll them into a uniformed surfaced circle( thickness similar to a paratha).Using a fork, poke on the circle for the steam to escape( when you bake). Leave this for around 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180c. When the dough rises a bit, bake them at 180c for around 10 minutes.
pizza base
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Feb 23, 2010

Khichdi - Rice with lentils- A treat.

While for some, khichdi may be a food for the sick, but for me and my family it is a treat. Especially khichdi when served fresh and hot, is a bliss. Yes,I am not exaggerating here. Mind you, it should not be bland , but should be a tad spicier with some ghee generously added(dont mind the calories when you want to enjoy the taste!!) and of course the last secret is the garnishing part with the red chillies.Believe me, this does enhances the taste and flavour to the so called boring khichdi!! And then some people use yellow mung dal or some even use tuvar dal, but I feel whole green mung works fine in khichdi.I have tried so many combinations and methods to make khichdi an interesting meal and finally , I feel this one is really good. If you have any tips to make it more interesting, do let us know in the comment section;I would be willing to follow it when I make it next time. It is not a suitable tiffin box item, so I make this when hubby is at home during the weekends. Its easy , quick and a one pot meal containing rice, veges , lentils , spices almost everything dumped together in a pot and cooked till done.

rice khichdiIngredients-

Rice- 1 cup
Whole mung- 3/4 cup
Onion- 1 chopped fine
Ginger garlic paste- 1tsp
Potato- 1 cut in small cubes
Carrots- 1 cut in small pieces
Beans- few cut into 1"pieces
Peas- 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder- 1tsp
Red chilly powder- 1tsp or more
Salt to taste
Coriander powder- 2tsp generously
Garam masala- 1tsp generously
Oil- 1tsp
Dried red chillies- 3-4
Mustard- 1tsp
Cumin seeds- 1tsp
Ghee- 2tsp or more
Asafoetida- a pinch
Peanuts- 1/4 cup
Cashewnuts- few broken into small pieces(I did not add)


Soak rice and mung for atleast an hour.
In a pressure cooker, heat some oil , add mustard seeds and peanuts ( and cashewnuts if adding). Then add onions followed by ginger garlic paste. Saute til it turns translucent. Then add the chopped vegetables. Mix well . Add the turmeric powder, red chilly powder, coriander powder ,garam masala powder and salt and mix well. Then add the rice and mung. Mix well. Add around 3 cups of water. Cook in the pressure cooker till it gets well cooked.
Now the khichdi should be really mushy.The rice variety I use does not get mushy. So what I do is after opening the lid of the cooker, I add some boiling water in khichdi. Mix well and cook for 3-4 minutes.(When you serve khichdi, it should be of a pouring consistency. Thats the best way I could explain this!!)
Now heat some ghee in a small pan, add dried red chillies, Cumin seeds and asafoetida/hing. When it splutters, add this to the khichdi.
Mix well before serving. Serve hot with kadi preferably.
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Feb 20, 2010

Paharkai pitlai / Bitter gourd gravy- Tamilnadu style

When I made this for the first time a couple of years ago , I did not like the taste. Somehow the south indian spices did not seem to work well the bitter bittergourds!!I had made a similar thing with brinjals before, which tasted great , but it just did not work with bittergourd. I was a bad cook then after all!!!But anyway, I never excluded bittergourd from my diet. And when I think about the nutritional and health benefits of it, I simply can't avoid it. I make stuffed curries or mix them in spices to shield the bitter taste. Though I have never had an aversion for bitter taste, infact I always love bittergourd.
You can view here the nutritional and health benefits of the bittergourd.
I have tried number of ways to reduce the bitterness of the bittergourd. And the method which has worked really well for me is to mix the chopped bittergourd slices in turmeric powder and salt atleast for half an hour and then squeeze out the water from them.
After a long time, I decided to try the pitlai recipe again simply because I had no other veges in the pantry and I was planning a simple south indian menu for lunch. It came out really well and tasted good with rice and tomato rasam. I am sure now paharkai pitlai is going to be a regular thing at my place.
I am sending this to Yasmeen of healthnut who asks us to send bitter healthy food and join her in the bitter better journey which will help in learning more ways to implement these good foods in everyday cooking.

paharkai pitlai

Bittergourd- 2 big ones
Turmeric powder-1tsp
Tuvar dal- 1 cup cooked
Mustard seeds- 1/2tsp
Udid dal- 1/2tsp
Channa dal- 1tsp
Sesame oil- 2tsp
Sambar powder- 1tsp(optional)(If you want it little more spicy)
Salt to taste
Grated coconut-1tbsp(optional)
Curry leaves- few
jaggery - a small piece

For the paste
Tuvar dal-2tsp
Channa dal- 2tsp
Dried red chillies- 7 to 8
Coriander seeds- 2tsp
Tamarind- a small gooseberry sized lump
Sesame oil- 1/2tsp

Deseed and cut the bitter gourd in rings . Add some turmeric powder and salt and leave it for an hour.
Roast all the ingredients stated under "for the paste" (except the tamarind )in half a teaspoon of sesame oil till they turn golden brown.Switch off the flame and then add the tamarind. Cool and grind this to a fine paste adding few drops of water.
Now heat 2-3 teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, udid dal and channa dal and the curry leaves. Squeeze out water from the bittergourd.Add this to the pan and saute till they turn golden brown.Now add the ground paste. Pour 2 glasses of water. Add sambar powder if you want to. Add salt.Heat this till the gravy gets slightly thicker. Now add the cooked tuvar dal. Leave on flame for further 10 minutes. Add some jaggery and mix well.
Toast the grated coconut in some oil till it turns brown. Add it to the gravy. This is optional. I sometime make it without the coconut and it does not create much difference in the taste.
Serve with hot rice.
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Feb 17, 2010

Chinna Vengaya sambar!!

Sambar is a gravy in which vegetables are cooked in tamarind water along with the spices and lentils.In vengaya sambar , shallots are cooked in the tamarind gravy . This is a special kind of sambar and is usually prepared during special occasions especially when you have guests . At my place, my mom used to make on sundays or holidays. We used to have a relaxed lunch to relish this delicacy with hot rice. Shallots are available in plenty in singapore, but I buy them rarely. These days, I was craving for the spicy vengaya sambar and I made them during the last weekend .We enjoyed them with hot steamed rice. Dosas tastes great with this sambar. I usually refrigerate the left over and use it for dosas the next day.

chinna vengaya sambarIngredients-
Shallots or small onions/sambar onions- 15
Tomato- 1 cut into pieces(optional)
Tamarind - a lime sized lump
Tuvar dal- 1 small cup cooked
Channa dal- 2tsp
Udid dal- 1tsp
Dried red chillies- 8 nos
Coriander seeds- 2tsp
Salt to taste
Sesame oil- 1tsp
Asafoetida- A pinch
Curry leaves- few
Mustard seeds- 1tsp
Fenugreek seeds- 1/2tsp
Grated coconut- 1tbsp( I did not use)

Heat a teaspoon of sesame oil and roast udid dal , channa dal,coriander seeds, red chillies and around 3-4 baby onions (shallots) till they turn golden brown. Cool and grind it to a paste.
Add warm water to the tamarind. Leave it for sometime and the squeeze out the pulp.
Heat the remaining oil . Add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds along with the curry leaves
Add all the shallots and saute till they turn slightly brown. Add the tomato if using . Now add the sambar paste along with salt and asafoetida. Mix well and pour the tamarind pulp. Add around 2 glasses of water and allow it to boil for around 10 minutes.(the raw smell of tamarind should go away and the shallot should be tender.) Now add the cooked tuvar dal. Mix well and cook till the sambar thickens.
Roast the grated coconut till it turns brown and add it to the sambar.
Serve hot with rice.
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Feb 12, 2010

Spinach mung bean soup!!

Dieting is not about starving,but its about eating the right food. Right food implies low fat, less calories and a healthy meal. I have seen so many blogs which focusses on healthy food which inspired me to do the same. Recently Srivalli has been writing on diet food and has been giving a lot of tips on this issue.And then Usha has also been hosting a event on healthy soups. She has been posting a lot of healthy and delicious soups in her blog, when I realized that I have been neglecting soups from our diet.Soup has been such a rare thing at my place. But now, I have plans to include this in my menu on a regular basis.
So thats when I made this one for dinner yesterday which was quite filling, delicious and healthy with the lentil and greens.
spinach mung bean soupIngredients-
Spinach- a bunch
Mung bean- 1/2 cup
Ginger- 1' Crushed
garlic- 2-3 cloves crushed
Butter- 1/2tsp
Salt to taste
Pepper- 1tsp
Milk- 1cup

Wash the spinach leaves properly and chop them fine. Cook the spinach along with a cup of water till it wilts. Cool, reserve the water used for boiling and puree the spinach in a blender.
Soak mung beans for 2-3 hours and cook in a pressure cooker till it turns soft.
Now melt the butter in a pan. Add the ginger and garlic paste. Saute for a minute and add the cooked mung beans and the spinach puree. Add the reserved water. Add more water if its too thick. Add salt and pepper and boil for around 5 minutes. Add the milk to thicken the soup and cook for further 4-5 minutes. Add some cream before serving if you wish . Serve warm with some toasted bread.
This one goes to Usha of veg inspirations who is hosting an event on healthy soups.
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Feb 9, 2010

Eggless plum walnut bread-from chef in you

I got some plums recently which were a bit firm and not too juicy and somehow I did not feel like eating them as such. But the colour was so beautiful and I wanted to use them in a dessert. I was thinking of a crumble and when browsing Dk's blog , I saw a nice recipe of plum pecan bread. So this was inspired from her recipe and I adjusted the ingredients according to whatever was available with me.
The cake turned out great and I was really satisfied with the healthy, eggless , low fat,quick recipe and could have it without any guilt.

eggless plum walnut cakeIngredients-
Pilsbury multigrain atta- 2 cups
Plum- 5 (pitted and chopped)-yielding about 1 1/2 cup of chopped plums.
Walnuts- 1/2cup slightly crushed
Brown sugar-3/4 cup
Baking powder- 1tsp
Baking soda- a pinch
Yogurt- 3/4 cup
Vegetable oil- 1/2 cup
Cinnamon sugar- 1tsp


Combine the sugar and oil and mix well. Next combine the atta flour with baking powder and baking soda. Now combine both the mixtures and add yogurt and mix well to form a thick batter. Fold in the plums. Pour the batter in a loaf pan.
Now place the walnuts on the batter carefully. Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on the top.
Bake this in a preheated oven at 180c for around 40 minutes. Test if the cake is done by inserting a knife or skewer in the center of the cake.
Cool the cake properly. Invert it on a plate. Immediately reinvert it and cut in slices.

eggless plum walnut cake
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Feb 6, 2010

Potato sandwich- Easy and quick

It was a weekend. I had gone out with friends and came back a little late and tired. My hubby and son who had spend the entire day at home were a bit bored and wanted to have something nice and spicy. So here is the conversation-
Me- what about maggi noodles?
DH- No..
(I did not want to cook an elaborate dinner and was hoping they would demand something easy.It is really boring to cook something proper during the weekend!!)
Me- Then what?
DH- you havent made sandwiches for a long time..a vegetable sandwich..
Me-( I was relieved)Ok , will make the filling with potatoes, why dont you get some bread.
So it was decided - potato sandwiches. I recently got a microwave steamer, so got the potatoes steamed and cooked in 10 minutes. And our yummy dinner was over in an hour.

potato sandwichIngredients-
Bread- 10 slices
Potatoes- 4
Turmeric powder- 1tsp
Red chilly powder- 1tsp
Salt- to taste
Butter- 1tbsp
Sandwich maker

Peel the skin of potatoes and cut them into half. Steam them in a microwave so that it becomes soft. Alternatively, you can cook them in a pressure cooker. Heat oil in a pan. Add the finely chopped onions and saute till they turn pink. Add the cooked potatoes along with turmeric powder, red chilly powder and salt. Mix and mash well till the potatoes get neatly combined with the spices.
Butter both sides of the bread. Place the filling on one side. Place another similarly buttered bread on the top. Now keep this in a sandwich maker and cook as per instructions.
Serve immediately with some tomato ketchup.
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Feb 4, 2010

Vegetable Kurma- Version 2

A few days back, I had posted a mixed vegetable recipe and had mentioned that I try to make it slightly different each time. So todays post is a second version of how I make it.
This one has a lovely flavour because of the freshly ground spice. Kurma is a south Indian speciality with coconut milk and spices. Its basically served with parota in the South. But it goes very well with cumin/jeera rice and chapatis/pooris too. My mom used to serve with toasted bread which was a good alternative too and made a yummy breakfast. She used to make it slightly differently by adding freshly grated coconut and whole spices. That had a lovely and a different kind, infact more of a south flavour to it. So here is how I make it.

veg lurma
Mixed vegetables- Chopped I used Potatoes- 2, Carrots-2, peas- 1/2 cup, beans- 1/2 cup,paneer- 1/2 cup,cauliflower-1/2 cup florets
Bay leaves- 1
Cinnamon stick- 1"
Cloves- 3-4
Cardamom- 2
Coriander seeds- 1/2tbsp
Fennel seeds-1/2tsp
Dried red chillies- 8 to 1o nos
Ginger garlic paste-1tsp
Onion-1big chopped fine
Tomato- 1 chopped
Coconut milk- 1cup
Turmeric powder- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Mustard seeds- 1tsp
Cumin seeds- 1tsp
Oil- 1tsp

Dry roast all the spices (cloves ,cardamom, Fennel seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon, dried red chillies and coriander seeds) and grind into a fine powder.
Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard and cumin seeds. Then add the onions and saute till transclucent. Add the ginger garlic paste followed by the chopped tomatoes and chopped vegetables. Sprinkle some water and cook till the vegetables are a little soft. Add turmeric powder, ground spice powder and salt. Mix well and cook for some more time adding a cup of water. The vegetables should be well cooked. Now pour the coconut milk. Mix well. Leave on flame for 5 more minutes.
Serve hot with chapatis, jeera rice or pooris too!!
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Feb 2, 2010

Blueberry muffins- healthy and beautiful!!

I just cant stop myself buying bluberries whenever I see them at the supermarket. They are not so expensive and too tempting to resist myself buying them even if I dont have anything specific in my mind on how to use them. I had made a pretty cake with them before and now I was eager to make some muffins- and that too something really healthy and guilt free.So using the plain flour was out of question and it had to be wheat. But recently I saw jayasree using the multigrain atta by pilsbury and fortunately I found that in a Indian store here. So that had to be an excellent substitute as it contains wheat flour along with ragi, barley,lentil,soy and maize. I thought the result was going to be a chewy and a dense cake, I dont mind, I love cakes that way too. But no, the cake was soft , spongy ,moist and light too. It was just awesome and delicious, absolutely guilt free. You will agree when you see the recipe.

blueberry muffinsIngredients-
Pilsbury multigrain atta- 2 cups
Baking powder- 2 1/2 tsp
Baking soda- A pinch
Brown sugar-3/4 cup
Oil- 1/2 cup
Yogurt/curd- 3/4 cup
Egg- 1
Vanilla essence- 1tsp
Bluberries- 1/2 cup

Mix all the dry ingredients together(except the berries) in a bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg and sugar lightly and combine with oil and curd and mix well. Add the essence. Now slowly fold in the flour mixing well so that no lumps are formed to get a smooth creamy batter. Fold in the berries and mix lightly.
Now pour them into the cups and bake in a preheated oven at 180c for 25 minutes.

blueberry muffins
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