Jan 30, 2011

Mint tea/ pudina chai

     It has been raining incessantly for two days here forcing us to stay indoors in the weekend. It was a little boring, but it was fun too as we could just laze around, a luxury we cant afford to do during the week days. We enjoyed watching movies and eating some yummy food along with  cuppa chai which was a bliss for this kind of weather. I hope the weather is okay by tomorrow and we are able to enjoy a sunny day and get back to the usual routine. Until then , lets go to the recipe for mint tea as well as ginger tea. Have fun!!
mint/pudina tea/chai
Serves 2 cups of tea-
Water- 1 1/2 cups
Mint/pudina leaves- 1/2 cup
Tea leaves- 1spoon
Sugar- 2 spoons or more if you prefer more sweeter
Milk- 1/2 cup

   Boil the mint leaves in water for around 5 minutes till the water becomes a light green colour. Add the sugar and tea leaves and allow the sugar to dissolve. Now add the milk and switch off the flame after another 4-5 minutes. Strain the tea with the help of a tea strainer/filter into another vessel. Pour into the serving glasses. Garnish with mint leaves if you wish.

Ginger tea- A variation- Grate a big piece of ginger and boil in the water (instead of mint leaves). Then follow the Same procedure (as above) as mint tea.
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Jan 27, 2011

Eggless chocolate mini cupcakes

          I recently bought this silicone muffin cases and I was dying to bake something in it.The cases were so attractive and so cute that I really did not think twice on buying that. And the best part is they can be used in convectional oven as well as microwave oven. Not only that they can be used for freezing purposes too. Cool, isn't it?
          So then coming to the the mini chocolate cakes, I have used almost the similar basic recipe I have used for most of my cakes. But its eggless(unlike most of my cake recipes) and butterless too. So what else do you want? They tasted just yummy. I really plan to experiment on  more eggless varieties by trying different egg substitutes. So do come in for more eggless baking in my future posts.
eggless chocolate cupcakes
Self raising flour- 3/4cup
Cocoa powder- 2tsp
Sugar- 1/2cup
Chocolate chips- 1/2cup
Oil- 1/4 cup
Milk-1/4 cup or more if required
eggless chocolate cupcakes
   Combine the sugar and oil. Mix well. In another bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder. Add the flour mixture to the sugar oil mixture. Mix well. Now add the milk and combine to form a uniform batter. Add more milk if the batter is very thick. Fold in the chocolate chips. Mix lightly. Spoon in the batter into the muffin cases. (You can line the muffin cases with paper cases first)
       Preheat the oven to 180c. Bake them in a preheated oven at 180c for 20-25 minutes. Check if its done by inserting a skewer of knife in the center. Cool and serve.
eggless chocolate cupcakes
    I spread some nutella on the muffins and sprinkled some candy to serve my kid. You can frost with the frosting of your choice. Or just serve it plain. Tastes delicious anyway.
eggless chocolate cupcakes
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Jan 24, 2011

Vengaya/Onion thokku

        Thokku is a kind of pickle where the vegetable/fruit is mashed well, cooked in oil  and seasoned with suitable spices. Raw mango and tomato thokku are the most popular forms of thokku. The 'grand sweets ' thokku varieties has become so popular these days. They are so irresistable and the favourite at our place is their onion thokku. I tried to recreate something similar. We enjoyed it with rice, chapatis ,dosas and everything else. So I think I was certainly successful to some extent. Try it and you will fall in love with it just like us.
vengaya/onion thokku
Onion- 6 to 7 medium sized
Dried red chillies-10-12
Whole pepper- 1tsp
Fenugreek seeds/vendayam- 1/4tsp
Tamarind pulp- 2tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1tsp
Sesame oil- 1/2 cup
Red chilly powder- 1tsp or more (if you want it more spicier)
Turmeric powder- 1tsp
Salt- 2tsp
Hing- 1/4 tsp( I did not add)

  Chop the onions and grind it to a smooth paste. Dry roast the dried red chillies,fenugreek seeds and whole pepper. Cool and grind it to a fine powder. Now heat the oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and hing. When it crackles, add the onion paste along with the ground powder. Add the red chilly powder, turmeric powder and salt. Add the tamarind pulp. Keep stirring till the mixture becomes very thick. It will take around 25 -30 minutes. You will see some oil on the top.Your thokku is ready.
     You can serve this with dosas or even rotis or as a bread spread. But we love it with curd rice.
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Jan 21, 2011

Kacche kele ka kofta/ plantain dumplings in spicy tomato sauce-(low-fat)

        This variety of kofta(i.e with plantains) has been in my mind for almost a year now. My sister made this during my visit to India last year. She got the recipe from a bengali friend of hers. So I am not too sure whether this is a popular dish in the north east region of India and also I am certainly not following the exact recipe that my sis has followed as I don't remember that anymore. In case any one about the roots of this particular thing, do mention in the comment section and I will be happy to learn about it. I have followed a very simple recipe and the preparation does not involve a lot of time. It was delicious.We enjoyed it with some hot rotis.
kele ka kofta
For the koftas
Plantains/raw unripe bananas- 1 big
Green chillies- 1 thinly slit
Red chilly powder- 1tsp
Turmeric powder- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Oil- a few tsps
Besan/kadala maavu/gram powder- 1tbsp

For the gravy/spicy tomato sauce-
Onion- 1chopped
Tomato- 2 big chopped
Ginger -1"
Garlic- 1-2 cloves chopped
Turmeric powder-1tsp
Red chilly powder- 1tsp
Coriander powder- 1tsp
Cumin seed powder-1/2tsp
Salt to taste
Garam masala- 1tsp
Kasuri methi- 1tsp

Method- For the koftas
Cook the peeled potato and the plantain(along with the skin) in a pressure cooker. Then peel off the skin from the plantain.Mash the potato and plantain and combine them together.Add rest of the ingredients (except the oil and besan).Mix them well. Make small lemon sized balls with them.Roll the balls on the besan so that its coated properly with the flour.
Add few drops of oil in a aebleskiver pan/paniyaaram pan.Place the prepared balls in them. Cook on all sides properly till they turn golden brown in colour.The koftas are ready.Keep them seperately.
Note- You can also deep fry the koftas.

For the gravy/spicy tomato sauce-
Blend together the chopped onion, tomatoes, ginger and garlic in a mixer and grind them to a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a pan. Add the ground paste followed by turmeric powder, red chilly powder coriander powder, cumin seeds powder,kasuri methi and garam masala. Saute the mixture well till the raw smell of the onions goes off. Now add around half to one glass of water to dilute the mixture.Add the salt.Continue to cook the gravy and keep stirring occasionally for another 10 minutes till the gtavy thickens a bit.

Add the koftas to the gravy just about 10-15 minutes before you serve so that they don't turn soggy.
Serve them as a side dish for rotis or naans or even some rice variety.
kele ka kofta
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Jan 19, 2011

Dried figs breakfast bars

    I think this is the first time I have used dried figs in my cooking baking. I used to have them just as a snack and it  is known to provide instant energy. I knew it was healthy , but all dried fruits are known to be quite healthy. But then it is not that simple and has many health benifits. It has enormous amount of calcium in it, infact even higher than whole milk. They are high in natural and simple sugar , minerals and fibre. It promotes healthy bowel functioning. It helps in maintaing pH of the body and also helps in regulation of the blood pressure.
   I got some dried figs from India this time. And I was very eager to use them in my baking and I thought of the breakfast bars. They turned out to be very good.We used to munch on a few bars every morning and it is already over. I just loved the chewy texture and the slight crunchy taste it had. The figs and the golden syrup itself imparted a natural sweet taste. I thought I could have excluded the sugar totally. And in my opinion, the taste got even better with time.
    Before we go to the recipe, there is a post for craft lovers in my other blog. So readers who are interested can visit to see some pretty baskets.
dried figs breakfast bars
Dried figs-10 numbers
Sugar-1/4cup or just avoid adding any sugar.
Walnuts- 1/4cup crushed coarsely
Raisins- 1/4cup
Golden syrup-2tbsp
Self raising flour- 1/2cup
Cooking oats- 1/4cup

Method- Place the dried figs in microwave safe bowl along with few drops of water. Microwave for 2 minutes. Allow it to cool and then grind it to a fine paste.
      Now combine the sugar and butter and beat till it turns creamy(if in case you add sugar).Add the golden syrup and yogurt and mix well. Now add the figs paste followed by walnuts, raisins,oats and the flour. Combine everything together till it forms a thick mixture. Now pour the mixture to a well greased shallow baking tray.
      Preheat the oven to 180c. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake at 180c for 25 to 30 minutes. Insert a knife to check if it is done. The upper crust should be brown. The texture is soft , chewy and is slightly crunchy .
dried figs breakfast bars
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Jan 17, 2011

Vazhakai /Plantain podimas

       Podimas in tamil refers to  kind of powdered or mashed vegetable. Podimas made of potatoes is quite popular where the potatoes are mashed and then seasoned while some make it with plantains too. The plantains are cooked, grated and seasoned with appropriate spices to give it a spicy taste. And a dash of lemon juice in the end gives a nice tangy taste to it. I have had the podimas quite a few times when my mom made it and I tried it for the first time yesterday along with some rice and sambar. It was a delicious combination and we had a simple but delicious lunch. I think this is going to be a regular thing whenever I buy plantains.
vazhakai podimas
Plantain/vazhakai- 2
freshly grated coconut- 1/2 cup
Onion-1 chopped fine(optional)
Coconut oil- 2-3tsp
Mustard seeds-1tsp
Split udid dal- 1tsp
Chana dal- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Curry leaves- few
Chopped green chillies- 2
Lemon juice- 2tsp

  Cut the plantains in 2 halves. Boil them in water with the skin for 5 to 6 minutes. Now allow it to cool. Peel the skin off. Grate the plantains.
   Now heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, udid dal and channa dal . After it crackles, add the curry  leaves and chopped green chillies. Add the onion and saute till it turns brown. Now add the grated plantain along with salt and saute for around 4-5 minutes. Take care that it does not burn. Add the grated coconut and saute for another 2-3 minutes. remove from flame. Squeeze some lemon juice and mix well.
    Enjoy this side dish with rice and sambar.
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Jan 14, 2011

Murungai ilai dosai / Drumstick leaves dosa

    Murungai ilai is the tamil word for drumstick leaves , interestingly the botanical name for the drumstick tree is  "Moringa oleifera". Drumsticks are extensively used in tamil recipes. I came to know that the leaves are used in cooking too ,a few years back and it is known to be very healthy. The only thing I used them was in my dal.  Adding them to adai (mixed dal dosa) is very popular thing in tamil nadu. But I thought of adding them to the dosa batter and hence searched for some good recipe. Incidently, I realised that drumstick leaves dosa is a very popular Konkani cuisine. I found slight variations in the recipe in each of the Konkani blogs, but then I adapted  the process of adding a ground coconut paste to the batter. This made the dosas spicy and delicious. They were soft and not crisp as the regular ones. Try it sometime for a change , you will love it!!
muringai ilai/drumstick leaves dosa
For Dosa batter-
Raw rice- 3 cups
Udid dal- 1 cup
Salt to taste

Soak the rice and udid dal for 4-5 hours. Then grind them sepeartely in a wet grinder till it makes a smooth paste. Combine and then add salt. Leave the batter to ferment overnight.

For further preparation-
Grated coconut- 1/2 cup
Dry red chillies- 5-6 numbers
Tamarind- a small piece
Hing/asafoetida- a pinch
Drumstick leaves- 2 cups- washed and drained
Sesame oil to drizzle on the sides while cooking the dosa.

  Grind the coconut, red chillies and tamarind to a smooth paste. Add this to the dosa batter along with the drumstick leaves and asafoetida/hing. Combine well. Leave this for 15 minutes.
      Heat a dosa pan or tava. Add a ladle of batter on it and roll it to a circle with the base of a round bottomed ladle. The circle can be slightly thicker than the usual plain dosas. Cook on the base. Drizzle some oil on the sides. Then flip the dosa and cook on the other side.
    Serve immediately with some chutney or pickle.
muringai ilai/drumstick leaves dosa
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Jan 11, 2011

Carrot and fruit loop muffins

       Muffins have always been a favourite at home. And you guessed right- chocolate muffins are the best!! But lately I have been wanting to try putting in some unusual ingredients into the batter to make it more interesting especially for my son who has now started demanding new and delicious snacks everytime. His recent favourite has been cornflakes.So I keep buying different kinds of breakfast cereals and he just loves them. When I made muffins the other day, I decided to use some fruit loops in it. Carrots always makes the cake colourful and tasty , so that went into my cake too. I got the basic idea of the recipe from here. They were so delicious. My son had a couple of them in one go!!
Recipe Courtesy- Janet is hungry 
I have used the similar ingredients from the original recipe , but some ingredients and its measurements and the method slightly differ.
fruit loop muffins
Carrots- 1 big grated(around 1 cup)
 Kellogg fruit loops- 1 cup
 Self raising flour- 2 cups
 Brown sugar- 1 1/2 cups(add 1 cup if you prefer it less sweeter)
 Milk- 3/4 cup

  Combine the butter and brown sugar and beat till smooth and creamy. Add the egg followed by milk and grated carrots and mix well. Now add the flour gradually and mix till you get a smooth batter. Now fold in the fruit loops into the batter.
      Add a spoonful of batter into the muffin cups. Put some fruit loops on the top. Place them in a preheated oven at 180c. Bake for about 25 minutes. Insert a skewer in the center of a muffin to test if it is done.
Cool them well and serve.
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Jan 8, 2011

Vegetable pasta with spinach walnut pesto

     My site has a new address now http://www.creativesaga.com . I think many of you are aware by now. It was under the transition phase for the past three days and now it is complete. You will be redirected to this address automatically. The email and other feed subscribers do not have to make any changes with their subscription. They will continue to get the updates regularly. Thanks to all the readers and do keep visiting and giving your comments to keep it going.
    Few years back, I knew pasta could be made the Indian way or using the white sauce. I became familiar with different kind of sauces only after I visited a several blogs.I have been trying and experimenting with different sauces since then. This recipe was partly taken from here. But then , I modified the ingredients and method to a extent to suit our taste. We enjoyed it for an early dinner yesterday evening.
spinach walnut pesto
Spinach walnut pesto
Spinach walnut pesto recipe
Spinach- 1 cup chopped (blanched)
Walnuts- 1/4 cup
Garlic- 2 cloves
Oilve oil-2tbsp
Cheese- 1 cube(I used a single cheese slice-thats what I had at home)
Dried red chilly-2(optional)

      Toast the walnuts lightly. Combine all the ingredients in your blender. Blend this to a smooth and loose paste. It yields around one cup.

For the pasta
Any variety of pasta- 1 cup
Bellpepper-1 chopped into elongated pieces
Carrots- 1/2(chopped into long pieces- match stick like)
Salt to taste
Crushed black pepper- 1tsp
Spinach walnut pesto sauce- 1 cup(follow the recipe mentioned above)
Milk- 1/2 cup
Oil- 1tsp

  Boil the pasta till it turns soft. Drain the water. Wash with cold water to prevent it from sticking to each other. Heat oil in a pan. Add the chopped bell pepper and carrots. Cook till they turn soft. Now add the cooked pasta. Add the pesto sauce and mix till the pasta is well coated with the sauce. Add salt and pepper.Add the milk. Combine well and remove from flame after 2-3 minutes. You can garnish with more grated cheese if you wish.
veg pasta with spinach walnut pesto
Veg pasta with the pesto sauce
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Jan 5, 2011

Wedding decoration show pieces with dry coconut and betel nuts

    These beautiful articles or show pieces were exhibited on the dais during my sister's wedding recently. Its quite popular in the Karnataka region.As it was appreciated by one and all, I decided to share this with my readers . These pieces are available in the market in Bangalore. You can also place an order in case of specific requirement. In our case, it was provided to us by the wedding contractor.
PS- I have not created them. I am just sharing the pictures because I found it really interesting.

If you are really creative, you can try making it yourselves. They are beautiful. Aren't they?
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Jan 4, 2011

Spinach and ragi bread

      I got the idea of baking this bread when I made the spinach potato naans sometime ago. I have followed almost the same recipe just with the addition of ragi / finger millet flour to make it a more healthier. I would say it tasted nice, but not the best among all the varities of bread I have tasted.But it really tasted wonderful with some tea to go with. Do try  and tell me about it.
spinach ragi bread

Ragi/finger millet flour- 1cup
Whole wheat flour- 1 cup
Maida/all purpose flour- 1 1/2 cup
Spinach-1 small bunch chopped fine
Yeast- 2 tsp
Warm water-1/4 cup
Olive oil- 3tbsp
Salt- 1tsp
    Add the yeast to warm water and let it rest for 10 minutes till it froths. Now add sugar and salt followed by rest of the ingredients. Knead it into a smooth and pliable dough. Use your fingers and palm to knead the dough. use more flour if required. Leave the dough to rise for around 2 to 3 hours.
After 2 hours the dough doubles in volume. Punch the dough and knead the dough for another 4-5 minutes.
spinach ragi bread
Grease the loaf pan with some butter. Place the dough on a loaf pan as shown in the picture below. Allow it to rise.
spinach ragi bread
 Within 1 hour, the dough rises and is almost pouring out of the loaf pan.
spinach ragi bread
Preheat the oven at 180c . Place the loaf pan in the oven and bake for around 25 to 30 minutes at 180c. Gently tap the top of the bread. If it sounds hollow, the bread is done.
spinach ragi bread
let the bread cool completely. Remove it on a serving plate. Slice them. It goes very well with some hot tea. Thats how I had them!!Enjoy!
  I am submitting this to yeast spotting.
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Jan 1, 2011

Happy 2011 with Eggless fruit and nut cake

  Creative saga wishes all  readers a very happy and prosperous 2011.
      So one more year has passed by and in a few days, Creative Saga will step into its fourth year. Can't believe it was some three years back ,I started blogging and I still find the same spirit and enthusiasm in me even now when it comes to trying out and posting new recipes. I really look forward to open my blog in the morning and reading each comment inspires me to do more.
        As promised to my readers in my first post in 2010, I tried posting low fat and healthy recipes. It was interesting to look for new  ingredients and  healthier options, sugar free and fat free substitutes in daily cooking as well baking. The second half of 2010 saw a fewer posts in Creative Saga as I had gone to India for a couple of months and could not post from there as much as I had thought of.
         In 2011, we hope to continue with similar kinds of posts though as of now we haven't planned of anything new. But its sure going to be a great year.
         My first post is a fruit and nut cake which I made yesterday. I think we started the year in the sweetest possible way as the cake came out really good and the taste was just awesome. It was very similar to the plum cake we make for christmas . As I had no time to pre soak the fruits , I had to look for a recipe which does not require this step.Finally I found a nice recipe at Anushruti's place and went ahead following the recipe to the core and its eggless too. Thanks for the recipe Anushruti. I am sure to bake this one again.
eggless fruit and nut cake
 Recipe courtesy- Divine taste
Self rising flour- 1 1/2cup
Baking soda- 1/4 tsp+1tsp
Mixed dried fruits-400gm( I used a mixture of candied peels(tutty fruity),raisins,dried cranberries,dried figs)
Nuts- 100gm(I used chopped almond and walnuts)
Brown sugar- 1 cup
Dates syrup-  1tbsp
Vanilla essense- 2tsp
All spice powder- 1tsp
Smoothly mashed potato- 1 cup
Blanched and peeled almonds to decorate the cake

eggless fruit and nut cake
     Grease the base and sides of a  8"cake tin with some melted butter.
     Combine the flour and baking soda(1/4tsp) to make a uniform mixture.
In a medium sized saucepan, combine the butter,sugar,dates syrup, dried fruits and water. Heat in a low flame stirring till the sugar dissolves. Bring it to a boil. Now cook for 20 minutes in a low flame stirring in between. Remove from flame. Add 1tsp of baking soda. Allow it to cool.
      When it comes to room temperature, stir in the yogurt, vanilla essense, mashed potatoes and beat well till the mixture is smooth. Now add the nuts and fold in the flour mixture and mix till well combined.
      Spoon the cake batter in the prepared cake tin. Smooth the top of the cake with a spatula. Decorate the top of the cakes with almond. Cover the tin with aluminium foil and bake the cake in a preaheated oven at 180c for 1 1/2 hour or a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
       Allow the cake to cool in the tin itself. Then turn it on a plate.Turn it over again on the serving plate.
Allow the cake to mature overnight or for a couple of hours before slicing.
eggless fruit and nut cake
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