Apr 28, 2010

How to make Puran poli- festival recipes

      Puran polis are always a favourite . My friends know how I adore these sweet polis and its sure to be there in the menu when I am invited to their homes during my India visits.I have tried my hand in making them around three times in last five years. Somehow I have always thought it was a time consuming and difficult and messy job to make them, but whatever, the results are definitely worth the efforts.
           I remember a very funny incident when I was making them for the first time after I got married. I had just come to Singapore and one fine day I decided to make these polis. I had not got too accustomed to the fine granulated sugar available here instead of the regular crystals we use in India. It looks very similar to salt. And in the excitement of attempting the puran ( sweet stuffing for the stuffing) for the first time, I added two heaped spoonfuls of salt to the cooked channa dal. When I realised this, I was in tears and felt so helpless. Fortunately my sis was with me and both of us managed to mix a huge quantity of sugar and jaggery to shield the taste of salt in the puran. Finally the polis turned out quite good and I was thankful that the whole thing was consumed without ending up in the trash.  Today, we have a hearty laugh whenever we remember the incident especially when we have puran polis.
         People in South India use maida for the cover while in North India generally use wheat flour. I will be certainly trying with the maida someday and posting it in my blog. While some use sugar , others use jaggery for the stuffing. Some even use a combination of both. I used jaggery this time. I add a little sugar to make it more sweeter if needed. So here we go to the recipe.
puran poli

Wheat flour/atta- 2 cups
Salt- a pinch
Oil- 2tsp

Channa dal- 1 cup
Jaggery- 1 cup or more
Cardamom powder- 1tsp
Nutmeg powder/jaiphal/jathikai - 1/2tsp

Ghee- 1 tbsp + for brushing on the polis/parathas

puran poli
For the stuffing
   Wash the channa dal well and cook it in a pressure cooker till well cooked and somewhat mushy. Now drain the water. You can reserve the water to make a side dish called aamti(maharahtrian cuisine).
Heat ghee in a pan. Add the cooked dal along with the jaggery. Cook well till the jaggery melts and mixes well with the dal.Add the cardamom powder and nutmeg powder. Mix well.
     Allow this to cool and grind it in a mixer till you get a smooth paste.
( It takes around 10-15 minutes to grind properly. Initially , you may feel there is lot of moisture in the mixture. But as you grind it, the mixture becomes quite dry , but binds well, consistency very apt for stuffing.)

For the cover
Make a firm dough with atta and water adding a little salt to atta. Add oil to make the dough non sticky.

Shape the dough and the stuffing to small balls. Roll the atta into a circle. Place the stuffing in the center of the circle. Seal them. Roll into a circle. Heat a tava. Place the roti on the tava. Cook till brown spots appear on it. Brush some ghee on top and cook well on both sides.
  Serve hot.
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Apr 26, 2010

Vanilla layer cake recipes

         I am sure vanilla cake must be the favourite of majority of the people.  As of me, I am personally fond of moist rich chocolate cakes without a frosting , but I really dont mind some dark chocolate ganache or even nutella on the top. But lately , I had made a lot of chocolate cakes so I thought of going ahead with a vanilla cake for a friend's birthday party last week. And of course with a lot of changes in the recipe as well as my cake baking schedules. I usually dont bake a lot nowadays, but I made atleast three cakes in the past two weeks.Another thing is I often  use oil and milk  and avoid butter in most of my cake recipes. But this time I went ahead with the butter and also more of sugar comparitively. Actually I followed the recipe from a cakebook called 500 cakes which I got from the library. I totally followed the recipe from top to bottom  instead of trying some egg and fat substitutes. I tasted a small bit of the cake feeling a little guilty about the fats in it. But the cake was awesome and tasted so good and delicious. It really felt so nice and happy when people appreciated the cake.
          Usually buttercream icing would taste good with the vanilla cake, but as I had some white chocoalte ganache left from my previous cake, I decided to use this. So its your choice of how you frost the cake.
vanilla layer cake
Self raising flour- 140g or 1 cup
Granulated sugar- 140g or 1 cup
Butter- 170 gm or 8tbsp
Eggs- 3
Vanilla essence- 1tsp

For frosting-
White chocolate- 200g
Heavy cream- 200ml
Blueberry jam- 2tbsp
Sprinkles or tutty fruity for decorating
vanilla layer cake
      Beat the sugar and butter until soft and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Now add the flour gradually miuxing well at the same time. Add the essence. Mix well.
       Pour the batter in a well greased and floured cake tin of 8". Bake it in a preheated oven at 160c for 30 minutes. Turn the cake on wire rack and cool it completely.

For frosting-
White chocolate ganache-
 Heat the cream on low flame till it becomes hot. Break the white chocolate in bits. Put the white chocolate in the hot cream. Keep stirring till the chocolate melts in the cream and forms a uniform mixture. Cool this and its better if you make this in advance and refrigerate it for 24 hours. It becomes thick and ideal for spreading it on the cake.
          Cut the cake from the center with a unserrated knife to two equal layers. Spread the white chocolate
ganache on one layer and then spread a  layer of jam on it. Place the another layer of cake on this.
       Now spread the chocolate ganache on the whole cake. Decorate it with sprinkles or tutty fruity /raisins mixture as I did.
vanilla layer cake
I am sending this to the bake off event again.
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Apr 21, 2010

Chocolate banana nut cake or rather squares- tastes delicious anyway!!

         Whenever there are ripe bananas in my pantry, using them in bakes is the first thing that comes to my mind. But now when I am trying to maintain a strict diet and when there are some misconceptions that banana is not a ideal thing when one is trying to loose weight prevented me from buying them. But then this lead me to find answers to my questions. As a result I found some really good and interesting facts about this wonder fruit. Thats when I decided to share this with my readers who like me are confused about what to eat and what not to.
        Bananas does not contain fats, sodium and cholesterol. It contains potassium, vitamin A, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamine, niacin, copper, pantothenic acid and zinc. Eating bananas help in reducing the risk of high blood pressure. As it contains around 20% sugars , people with high blood sugar can reduce its intake. It is an excellent food to help you loose weight and provides a lot of energy.
        Bananas should be had when ripe. Especially the ones with green tip are very good for one's health. Unripe bananas have 20% starch, which by enzyme action is converted to sugars when ripe. An average banana has about 0.6g of fats and provides around 100-125 calories.
      Also another interesting fact is that bananas gives off a exceptionally large amount of ethylene gas as it ripens and this changes its colour. Even other fruits kept in proximity with the bananas tend to ripe soon. You can lenghthen the ripening process by placing them in a refrigerator. By this, the skin becomes dark, but the fruit inside will be good and firm. You can even freeze the bananas for later use.
         I can go on and on stating the  benefits of banana. So just go ahead and have bananas ,but in moderation.
    And now the latest thing I heard is "just smell bananas to loose weight"!!!!!!!!!!!!

So heres the recipe for today with over ripe bananas. A healthy banana cake..

chocolate banana nut squares
Pilsbury multigrain atta- 1 cup
Baking powder- 3tsp
Cocoa powder- 2tbsp
Margarine- 2tbsp
Brown sugar- 3/4 cup
Granulated sugar- 2tbsp
Ripe bananas- 2 large sized mashed to yield 1 3/4 cup
Egg- 1
Almond flakes- 3/4 cup
Milk- 4tsp
chocolate banana nut squares
    Combine butter and sugars and beat them to a soft fluffy texture.Now add the mashed bananas and beat to mix well. Beat the egg lightly. Add this to the above mixture and mix well.
      In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Add the dry ingredients to the above wet ingredients mixture. Add little by little beating the mixture to combine well. Add few drops of milk if the batter is very thick.
    Just fold in half of the almond mixture into the batter.
Grease and flour a baking tin. I used a lamington tray just because I wanted the cake in small squares. But you can use a 8" baking pan too. Pour the batter into the baking tin. Garnish with almond flakes on the to.
   Bake this in a preheated oven at 140c for 30 minutes.
Allow the cake to cool well before turning it down on a plate. Chill and serve.

chocolate banana nut squares
 This one goes to bangalore baker's bake off event.
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Apr 19, 2010

Cooking with Pasta - Round up

         I would like to sincerely thank all the bloggers who have send me their recipes with pasta  and made this event a good success. I am sure this is going to be a useful guide to many. I have received a couple of really unique entries comprising of traditional Indian, Greek and other continental pasta recipes.So do hop into each others blog for more information and tips on various ways of cooking pasta. Enjoy your pasta now following these recipes.
          Please mail me at creativesaga(at)gmail(dot)com regarding any queries or corrections. Please do inform me if I have failed to include your entry in the round up or incase I have linked your entry improperly. Thanks a lot.
First row
3. Pasta treat by Aparna's vegetarian cuisine

Second row

Third row

First row
1.Spinach spaghetti with tomato sauce
     Pasta with tomato sauce by priti of Indian Khana
2. Pasta with stir fried vegetables by Priti of IndianKhana
3. Fusili with stir fried vegetables by Priti of Indian Khana
4.Simple Pasta soup by Shama nagarajan of easy2 cook recipes
5.Cheesy pasta by padma's recipes

Second row
1. Macaroni pakoda by padma's recipes
2. Nut cutlet sizzler by padma's recipes
3. Mac and cheese with 2 cheeses by Priya of Mharo rajasthan recipes
4.Pasta in alfredo Sauce(low fat version) by Indrani of My creative Kitchen
5. Classic mac and cheese by Indrani of my creative Kitchen

First row
1. Spaghetti Al burro by Curry leaf
2. Fusili with eggplant by Priti of India khana
3.  Pasta Salad By Rupali of recipe grabbag
4. Quick vegetable pasta by Kiran of sumadhura
5. Vegetable Farfalle by Priyas easy and tasty recipes

Second row
1. Spaghetti and vegetarian meat balls by cooking foodie
2. Pasta with broccoli and mushrooms by sowmya of Creative Saga
3. Vegetable and pasta soup by Sowmya of Creative Saga
4. Penne with vodka sauce by Chit chat at crossroads
5. Penne with veges and cheese by Priyanka of Asankhana

Make your pasta an interesting meal now!!!!
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Apr 15, 2010

Nuts and dry fruits kheer recipes - easy dessert recipes

       It was chitra visu yesterday and I hope you all had a great time . I had a busy but wonderful day though I did not cook an elaborate lunch like that of the previous year. We followed the usual ritual of seeing the vishukani the first thing in the morning and later had a simple lunch consisting of variety rice and a payasam.
          I thought of making a payasam with nuts and dryfruits , something diferent from the usual ones .I used raisins and dates which I had at home, but you can use nuts and  other dryfruits.
         The almond /badam feast of MTR imparts a nice rich flavour to the payasam and I use this in almost all of my payasam recipes.
     It was delicious, thats all I can say about the payasam.
nuts and dry fruits kheer

Milk- 1litre
Almonds- 15 -20 or 1/2 cup
Cashews- 15-20 or 1/2 cup
Raisins- 1/2 cup
Dates- 4-5 deseeded and chopped into tiny bits
Sugar- 1 cup( can reduce if you add dates and other dryfruits)
Cardamom powder-1tsp
Mtr badam mix- 1tbsp (optional)
Ghee- 1tbsp

Notes- you can use other nuts like pistachios etc.

Soak almonds  in hot water  for around 30 minutes. Drain the water.
Remove the skin from the almonds. Grind the cashews and almonds to a coarse paste.
Heat ghee in a pan. Add the nuts and dry fruits. Fry for 3-4 minutes. 
Boil the milk. Add sugar and keep stirring.Add the nuts paste and other dryfruits and cardamom powder and mtr badam mix if using. Keep stirring till the milk thickens well.
      Serve warm or chilled.

See other payasam /kheer recipes here.
Different payasams/kheer varieties
doodhi kheer
Semiya payasam
Kadalaparappu payasam 
Sabudana kheer
Carrot payasam
Pal payasam 
Sweet potato payasam 
Orange basundi 
Rava payasam 
Nuts/dry fruits kheer 
Banana payasam 
Arisi pal payasam 
Brown rice payasam 
Aval/poha payasam (with sugar) 
Pal payasam in pressure cooker

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Apr 12, 2010

Paneer manchurian

paneer manchurian
   Paneer in any form is a favourite at home. Paneer is a very good source of protein, but also has good amount of fats in it. Thats when I  reduced the intake of paneer. Paneer is definitely nutritious and you can definitely include it in your diet and is suitable for everyone. Diabetic and patients with problem of high blood pressure and cholesterol can have in less amounts, maybe once a week because of its high fat content. Maybe if you make paneer at home , you can try using skimmed milk or low fat mik. An alternative to this is the use of tofu which according to me is not tasty as paneer , but is definitely a very healthy substitute and is very rich in protein and a cholesterol free food.
       So, one of these days when I was really craving for paneer , I made this  manchurian, the recipe very similar to gobi manchurian I posted long time ago. Just loved it, thats what I can say!!!

Paneer- 100gm cut into large cubes
Onion- 1 chopped fine
Garlic-2 cloves chopped fine
Ginger- 1/2" chopped fine
Coriander leaves- a small bunch chopped fine
Tomato sauce- 1tbsp
Dark Soya sauce- 1tbsp
Salt to taste- if required
Oil- 1tsp

For Coating and frying 
Maida/plain flour- 1tbsp
Corn flour- 1tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

    Mix the plain flour and corn flour along with salt. Add water and mix into a thick batter. Dip the paneer into the batter and fry them till it becomes golden brown. Keep aside.
    Add a teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add the chopped onions, ginger and garlic and saute for sometime. Now add the sauces. Mix well. Now add the fried paneer and mix well.Add salt if necessary.I did not add here. Garnish with coriander leaves.
   Serve hot with fried rice.      
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Apr 7, 2010

Sweet potato halwa

           First of all, I would love to thank all the lovely bloggers who have send their entries to the "Cooking with pasta" event. I have a got a fairly good response and  will be posting the round up soon.
           And now as we head towards the recipe for today, I would say this delicious Indian dessert maybe a "NO" for weight watchers, but why not indulge in this once in a way!!! My hubby's  colleague has this sweet almost everyday for the sole purpose of gaining weight. (weight is in term of muscular weight and provides a lot of energy). And my husband was quite curious to know how this particular thing tasted and wanted me to make it. I googled for the recipe and made it one fine evening. We enjoyed having it though feeling a little guilty about the amount of fat we were consuming. One convincing thing about this was my son who hates "food " loved this dessert. So I think I would making this again for him. I would definitely recommend this for people who want to gain weight and for children too. Sweet potatoes as such has high nutritional values and is very good if included in your diet in baked or roasted/stir fried form.    
sweet potato halwa
Sweet potato- 2
Sugar- 1/2cup
Ghee- 1tbsp+1tsp
Cardamom powder- 1tsp
Almonds- 8(broken to bits)

  Cook the sweet potato till they become soft. You can cook in boiling water or by steaming in microwave.
Peel off the skin and mash them. It yields around 2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes.
       Heat a tbsp of ghee in a pan. Add the mashed sweet potatoes along with sugar and cardamom powder. Keep stirring till everything mixes well and becomes a thick mass.
       Fry the almonds in a teaspoon of ghee till they turn a golden brown and add it to the halwa. Mix well.
  Serve warm.

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Apr 5, 2010

Multigrain atta savoury buns

      I have been having a good time baking using the multigrain atta by pilsbury. I used them in blueberry cupcakes and then a savoury cake and now in savoury buns with good satisfying results. By satisfaction I do not just mean the texture and taste , but also the fact that they are healthy, and most important, a sense of satisfaction when your kid relishes them with joy!!!
        Ok, savoury buns were in my to-do list ever since I baked bread for the first time. I got addicted to bread making that time and then suddenly I lost interest in the yeast. Also partly because ,even though the bread tasted great , the crust used to be slightly thick and hard. But then I watched a few videos of bread making in the youtube. Kneading the dough certainly plays a very important role. And I knew I was going wrong during the kneading. I tried my best this time and the result was much better tham my previous attempts.
         Try using the stuffing of your choice to enjoy it more. You could even make sweet buns like this one or use a combination of fruits or a mixture of grated coconut and jaggery.

multigrain atta buns
For the cover
Pilsbury multigrain atta- 2 cups+1 cup
Active yeast- 1 envelope
Sugar- 1tbsp
Ajwain/carom seeds- 1tsp
Salt- 1tsp
Milk- 3/4 cup
Oil- 1tsp
Sesame seeds- to sprinkle (optional)

For the filling
Vegetables of your choice- I used 2 large potatoes, 1 carrot and a few french beans.
Onion- 1 chopped fine
Garlic ginger paste- 1tsp
Turmeric powder-1tsp
Red chilly powder- 1tsp
Coriander seed powder- 1tsp
Garam masala- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Oil- 1tsp

The dough
Add the yeast to warm milk. Wait till it froths and then add 2 cups of flour along with sugar, salt and carom seeds. Mix well. Just leave the sticky mixture as it is. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap. Leave for 3 hours till the dough rises.
      Now punch the dough.On a floured surface, knead the dough to form a smooth,elastic pliable dough. Add more flour if required. Add oil to make the dough non sticky.

The filling
Chop the vegetables into fine pieces. Heat oil in a pan. Add the choped onion along with ginger garlic paste. Saute till they turn slightly brown. Now add the chopped vegetables along with rest of the spices and salt. Sprinkle some water and cook till the vegetables get tender.

Make a ball (Size of a big lemon) with the dough. Roll into a circle. Place some stuffing in the center. Seal the edges well and shape it to a round bun. Repeat with rest of the dough. Place this on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Let it rise for 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 160c. Rub some oil or melted butter on the buns and sprinkle some sesame seeds on it.Place the buns in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes till they are done.It should be of light golden colour and should appear well cooked and should sound a little hollow when tapped.

multigrain atta buns
Serve warm with some tomato ketchup during tea.

I am sending this to rachel for her BBD- 28- buns event.I am very late in sending this one. Hope she accepts it. Am also sending this to yeast spotting.
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