Yummy Sphagetti in Marinara sauce with Soy balls!

I met Sytle when I was working in Los Alamos, New Mexico. She had come for a couple of day’s experiment time there and right from the beginning we hit off very well. We spent a very nice afternoon wandering in the Los Alamos downtown (which is actually only two streets!) and then I cooked her a south Indian dinner. So the conversation drifted to international cuisine and that is when she gave me this fantastic recipe for marinara sauce. Till then I had regarded ‘Marinara’ as an exotic store bought sauce,but with her recipe I realized that it was unbelievably easy to make!!!. Even now three years later, I still make this sauce whenever I have ripe tomatoes in my fridge and marvel at its tasty simplicity.

Anyway, the other day after making the sauce, I found some spahgetti and soya-chunks.in my pantry, so voila I made of the vegetarian version of sphagetti and meat balls !!

cook the Sphagetti as per the package directions in salted water. Drain when it is al dente and run it under cold water.

Here goes the recipe:

Sytle’s Marinara sauce:

Serves four

Ingredients

5-6 roughly chopped tomatoes

One big onion

5-7 garlic cloves

1 bunch of basil- roughly chopped

A few chopped parsley leaves

1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

1-2 maggi veggi cubes

10-15 soya chunks

Olive oil

salt and pepper

Method

Soak the Soya chunks in hot water.Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until transparent and add the roughly chopped tomatoes and half of the chopped basil. Cool and blend the mixture into a coarse paste. Simmer this paste in a wok for about half an hour. Add the maggi cubes for more flavor. Season with salt,pepper and red pepper flakes.Turn off the stove once the consistency of the sauce becomes thick. Add the soya chunks and garnish with chopped basil and parsley.

Stir in the sphagetti and mix with the sauce. I like it saucy and so I used less sphagetti but you can add more.

Tips:

Some goat cheese can be added to the sphagetti mixture and melted on the stove or in the oven

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Badam(Almond)-carrot-cashew Payasam: The perfect dessert!

This was the first dessert that my MIL taught me. It is so simple and refreshing that it has become a permanent dessert for parties in our house. Usually after a sumptuous main course in any party, ppl struggle to eat dessert but this payasam is so tasty and smells so good that no one can resist it. It is full of nutty goodness from the badam and cashew nuts and attractive orange color of carrot.Many of our friends even take a mug home.Also, most importantly no one can mess up this recipe and this was great for me especially when I was a scared novice cook!!:-))

Anyway with out much ado let’s go to the recipe

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Serves 8

Ingredients

2/3 cup Badam

1/3 cup cashew nuts

4-5 carrots peeled

6 cups milk

1 tin of 5 fl. oz Nestle carnation condensed milk

1/4 cup sugar

5-6 cardamom pods powdered coarsely

4-5 saffron strands

Pressure cook the carrots in 1/2 cup milk until one whistle. Microwave the badam in one cup of water for about a minute and peel it. Once cooled, grind the carrot, badam and cashew nuts to a smooth paste. In a saucepan add all the milk and the paste and simmer for about 20minutes. Do not let the milk boil and keep stirring to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. Once the mixture reduces to 2/3rd the original amount, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add the condensed milk and switch off the stove. finally garnish with the ground cardamom and the saffron strands.

tips:

1.Adjust the amount of sugar according to taste

2. One can use only badam and carrots

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Yummy Recipes for a Party: A Guest Post!

Gayathri, who had contributed the recipe of Scrumptious Strawberry Cheese Cake before, has come up with yet another super recipe. So here goes:

Vegetable Samosas and Coriander- Mint chutney

serves 16 samosas

for the cover:

-2 cups of Self Rising flour

– 1 tsp cumin seeds

– 1 tsp ghee

– few drops of a lime

– salt to taste

– enough water

Mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough (should be like a chappati dough). Keep aside for 30 min.

for the stuffing:

– 2 cooked potatoes (one mashed and one cut in cubes)

– 1/2 cup of boiled peas

– 1/2 onion finely chopped (not mandatory)

– 1 tsp of garam masala

– a pinch of haldi (turmeric powder)

– 1/2 tsp of fennel powder

– 1 tsp of coriander powder

– 1/2 tsp of red chili powder

– 1/2 tsp of ginger-garlic paste

– 1/2 lime juice

– finely chopped cilantro

– salt to taste

In a wok, heat 1 tbs of oil. Add all the spices and the ginger-garlic paste. Fry for a few seconds. Now add the veggies, the lime juice, the cilantro and the salt. Stir well and cook for about 2-3 min.

Preparing the samosas:

Make eight balls out of the dough. Roll each ball like a chappati. Cut them in half. Take the semi-circle and fold it into a cone. Fill it with 2 tsp of the stuffing and seal the edges with a little bit of water+flour paste. Deep fry in hot oil till golden brown (on medium flame). Serve hot with a cilantro-mint chutney!

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Coriander-Mint Chutney

– 1 bunch of cilantro(coriander leaves)

– a dozen of mint leaves

– 2 green chilies

– 2 Tbs grated coconut

– 4 Tbs yogurt

– 1/2 tsp of salt

– 2 tsp of sugar

Blend all the ingredients in a blender. Refrigerate before serving

The 3 Chocolates mousse: Restricted to chocoholics only!!!!!

This french dessert called ” le 3 chocolat” is a chocolate biscuit covered with 3 layers of chocolate mousse (dark, milk and white) and a chocolate icing. The result is just incredibly light and deliciously chocolaty!! Success guaranteed…

for 8 servings,


Step 1: the chocolate biscuit (genoise)

– 4 eggs

– 1/2 cup + 1 tbs sugar

– 1/4 cup all purpose flour

– 1/4 cup of cocoa powder

– 1/2 cup of espresso (without sugar)

Whip 2 eggs, 2 yellow and 1/2 cup of sugar together. Heat this preparation in a “bain-marie*”. Keep whipping till the mix is lukewarm (it should not boil !!). This will take about 5 min. Remove from the bain-marie and using a whisk keep whipping till the mix has tripled the volume. Sift in it the flour and the cocoa powder. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, beat the 2 eggs white to form snow peaks. Add 1/5 of the first mix to the snow peaks and stir gently. Now add the remaining of the mix to the snow peaks and stir very delicately.

Preheat your oven at 405 F. Grease a 9 inch spring pan with a little bit of butter. Pour the batter in it. Level it with a spatula and put it in the oven for about 12 min. Let it cool down. Sprinkle the espresso all over the biscuit. (You can also add a coffee liquor). Keep refrigerate.

* “bain-marie” is a heating technique consisting of a large pan containing hot water in which smaller pans may be set to cook food slowly or to keep food warm.

Step 2: the chocolate mousses

– 1/2 cup + 2 Tbs of bitter sweet chocolate chips

– 1/2 cup + 2 Tbs of milk chocolate chips

– 1/2 cup + 2 Tbs of white chocolate chips

– 60 cl of heavy whipping cream ( 2 cups + 1/3 cup )

The preparation is the same for the 3 chocolates. Just repeat the following for each type of chocolate. Start with the dark chocolate, then the milk chocolate and finish with the white.

Whip 20 cl of cream to obtain a “chantilly” (a stiff whipped cream). The chantilly is easier to make when the cream is very very cold. I usually put the bowl, the cream and the whisk in the freezer for 10 min just before whipping. Be careful not to whip too long that you will have butter 🙂

In a microwavable bowl, put the bitter sweet chocolate chips and sprinkle with a little bit of water. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Add 1 tbs of the chantilly to the hot melted chocolate and stir well. Now add gently the remaining of the chantilly. Pour the mousse over the biscuit and spread it evenly with a spatula. Keep refrigerate.

Repeat the same procedure with the milk chocolate then with the white chocolate. After the white chocolate layer, keep your cake in the freezer for 2 hrs.

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Step 3: the chocolate icing

– 1/2 cup of dark bitter sweet chocolate chips

– 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream

Ground the chocolate chips. In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Add the cream to the chocolate and beat well. Pour the icing on the frozen cake and spread it all over with a spatula. Refrigerate till serving.

You can serve it as it is or decorate it as you please. I chose a simple decoration with shredded white and milk chocolate….yummy!

Tips: this cake can be prepared the previous day. In that case, just keep it in the freezer section. Defrost it in the refrigerator 2-3 hrs before serving.


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Beautiful Brunch on Sunday!

I have been wanting to post this for a month now but as usual I caught the ‘periodical procrastination monster’. It went to such an extent that I haven’t blogged for two months!!!. Anyway my indolence would’ve persisted but for the fact that sitting in my inbox was this wonderful picture of delicious poori and saagu!!!…ok, let me explain,it all happened when one Sunday morning,a couple of months ago, our friends Thipps and Vinutha invited us for brunch, which we accepted with alacrity. Of course I was doubly happy because I could avoid cooking at least one meal and also get to taste good home made food!!!:-)). So we had a great brunch of Poori’s, Saagu,chutney, finished the meal with a delicious dessert of kesari baath and also had a good time playing with their cute two year old daughter. Before we started to polish off the spread I requested Thipps to click a photo of the food so that I could post it here in the blog. Well, a couple of weeks later, we met them again and I remembered to ask them to send the photos. Vinutha promptly did so and since then the ball(picture) has been in my court!!!….Finally I decided enough is enough and so scroll below for the mouth watering pics.

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Kesari baath, pooris, coconut chutney and saagu (Clockwise starting from top left)

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Cooking from the blogs II—-Tandoori Vegetables!

Whew! I almost didn’t make it to this month’s MBP event hosted by the talented Coffe of My Khazana of Recipes! Anyway I was so–glad to see Tandoori Vegetables as one of the examples from her blog;check it out. The recipe is so–simple and the final finger food dish is wonderfully spicy and tasty especially on a cold night!…. Thanks Coffee for the great recipe.So I marinated the veggies last night, grilled them on skewers just now and clicked a nice picture of it.

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Incidentally, my friend Pinal had also given me this recipe some time ago. I used Green Bell Peppers, Paneer, mushrooms and onions. I also used Kasoori Methi in the marinade.Before eating, I sprinkled a pinch of chaat masala and a squeezed a lime on it.This garnish is borrowed from Pinal. Otherwise I pretty much followed the original recipe from her blog. So this is my entry for MBP event for February hosted by Coffee from My Khazana of Recipes.

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Okra in a peanut-coconut sauce!

Ok, ok, I really don’t know the name of this dish, hence the vaguely descriptive title! I got this recipe from one of my best friends who lives in Bangalore. Hers used to be the place my friends and I land up when we wanted to have fun and also were tired of the monotonous hostel food. When I think of my student days in Bangalore, memories of the great times in Usha’s house play a major part. Of course, her cooking was an added attraction. One of her many specialities used to be this Bhindi dish, which tasted divine and didn’t have the usual garlic-onion-tomato base. So, last month when I spoke to her, I remembered to ask her for this recipe. I made this dish last week for a party and it was a huge success. I personally thought that it didn’t have the special ‘Usha’ touch but it did taste good! ok, so before you scroll below for the recipe let me warn you guys that it does take a lot of oil to make this dish delicious.Usha’s advice to me was not to skimp on the oil if I wanted the original taste( by original, I mean the ‘divine taste’ I mentioned before!). So with that little advisory, here goes the recipe:

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Serves 4

Take about 15 okras and cut them into 2inch pieces. Deep fry them and keep side.

Soak a lemon sized ball of tamarind in hot water and keep aside

Make a paste with little water of

1tsp Dhana powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1tsp red chilli powder and keep aside

Roast and blend

1/4 cup coconut

3-4 tbspoons peanuts

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp poppy seeds

In 4 tbspoons of oil fry

1/2tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp of kalonji(Nigella seeds)

4 red chillies and

2-3 bay leaves

Add the dhania-turmeric-red chilli paste to this. To this add the tamarind extract and heat for a few minutes. Add the ground peanut-coconut paste and let it boil untill the raw smell is gone. Salt this boiling mixture, adjust the spiciness by adding more red chilly powder if necessary and finally throw in the fried okra.

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Though the list of ingredients and processes seem never ending, the final curry is delicious and rea—lly worth the effort. It is of course better to make this for a special occasion or for a party,so that you could have delicious left overs ie if you have any!!!:-))

Tips:

You could also use small egg plants instead of the okra. Make a plus and slit it half way from the  top of the egg plant before you fry it.

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Veggie Noodles —-Dallas Special!

Below is my sister’s recipe for the delicious veggie noodles that she cooked for us at their house during our vacation in Dallas. I made them a few days ago and they tasted as yummy as it did at my sis’s place. The final verdict was however tipped in favour of my sister; we decided that it somehow tasted better in Dallas!:-)))

Anyway I used whatever veggies I had in my fridge; my sister used Carrots,peas,potatoes,onions and spring onions.

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Recipe Serves 4

2 packs Hakka noodles

1 cup of yellow,orange and green bell pepper

1/4cup frozen green peas

1 bunch spring onions, chopped(Green part used for garnishing)

1/3 cup onions diced

1/2 cup paneer cubes (~15 cubes)

1 tsp ginger-garlic paste

1 green chilly chopped fine

1tsp schezuan sauce

1tsp tomato sauce ( I used Maggi sauce)

1/2 tsp green chilli sauce

1-2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp olive oil

salt according to taste

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Cook the noodles al dente according to the instructions in the packet. drain in a colander; place this under running water so that the cooked noodles don’t stick together. My sister disentangles them and cools them. I did that too.

Saute paneer in about 1 tsp of oil until both sides are lightly browned.

In a wok, heat the oil,fry onions, spring onions,ginger-garlic paste and green chillies for a few minutes. Once the onions turn pink, add the bell peppers. After 2 minutes,when they are half cooked, add the peas. Add the sauces and saute in high heat for a minute. Mix in the noodles thoroughly. Adjust salt and garnish with the green part of the Scallions and browned paneer cubes.

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Bright Beet-root pulav!

Growing up, Beet-root somehow was never a staple at our house. I was introduced to this colourful veggie by one of my college friends, who used to bring this divine beet-root rice for lunch often. I used to literally polish off half of her lunch especially when it was beet-root. Hence, the other day when I saw this veggie in the grocery store, it brought back pleasant, mouth-watering memories.So I immediately bought it to try and recreate at least the dish, if not the memories.So here goes my version of the beet-root pulav:

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 cups basmati rice

2-3 medium sized beetroots cut in 2 inch long, chunky pieces

1 large onion diced

2 cloves garlic chopped fine

1/2″ ginger chopped fine

1/4 box of button mushrooms sliced

1/2 a big bell pepper chopped

1 bay leaf

1 inch cinnamon

2-3 cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp red chilli power

1/2 tsp shan curry powder(optional)

1/2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp vegetable/canola oil

salt to taste

Cilanthro for garnish

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Method

Pre-soak the basmati rice in water for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile in a pressure cooker or pressure pan fry bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves in oil for a minute, add the jeera, once it sputters, fry the onions. Add the ginger and garlic.After 2 minutes add the bell pepper and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms sweat. sprinkle the turmeric, red chilli and curry powders. mix and finally throw in the beets. Saute for a minute, salt it and then add the rice. mix thoroughly, pour 3 cups of water and close the close the pan, put the weight and cook in low for 15 minutes. Turn off the stove, wait for 15minutes, open the lid, add the garam masala,adjust salt for taste and finally garnish with cilanthro.

It tasted very nice but somehow didn’t have the same taste as my college friend’s did. The bright colour though very attractive, did stain most my utensils especially my cutting board:-)))

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Cooking from the Blogs: Vegetable Chow-Mein

When Coffee from My Khazana of Recipes announced International cuisine for the “Monthly Blog Patroling” event , I immediately thought of the Indian-Chinese Fusion dish:Vegetable Chow-Mein that I had made following the recipe from one of my favourite bloggers, Meena of Hooked on Heat. I lo—ve her blog and her mouth-watering pictures. Honestly they make me want to run to the kitchen and immediately try to replicate the delicious goodness there! That noodles are an all time favourite of both my hubby and I, was another major motivation to try this recipe. Anyway though I do say it myself, the result was pretty good especially since the proof of the chow-mein is in eating it which both of us did to our heart’s content.

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Well, I didn’t have cabbage in my fridge that day and hence used green beans instead. The other veggies I used are yellow bell peppers, beans, mushrooms, scallions and onions.One more difference is the flat vegetarian noodles instead of egg noodles. Otherwise the method is the same and can be referred here.

Thanks to Meena for the wonderful recipe and of course to Coffee for motivating me to reproduce this in my blog for the “Monthly Blog Patroling” event.


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Kozhukkattai—–Steamed rice dumpling filled with a Coconut-jaggery mixture

A Very Happy and Prosperous New Year to everyone! Since this day marks the beginning of another wonderful year, it seemed fitting to post this recipe which is a favorite dish to Lord Ganesha,who is worshipped for an auspicious and good beginning. Kozhukkatai in Tamil or Modak in Hindi, is a very famous sweetmeat in Tamil Nadu and is usually prepared for Ganesh Chathurthi, the special festival for Lord Ganesha. Since coconut shares the stage equally with jaggery in this dish I though that this would be appropriate for this months’s JFI for coconut kindly hosted by Ashwini of Food For Thought.

For the filling:

1 cup of grated coconut

2/3 cup of jaggery broken into pieces

1 tsp ghee

1/2 tsp of cardamom

Take the coconut in a wok, add jaggery and about 2 tablespoons of water.Keep stirring until the jaggery slowly dissolves and forms a sticky,semi solid mixture with the coconut. Turn off the stove,add the ghee and the cinnamon. Cool and store.

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For the rice flour wrap:

Rice flour 1 cup

1 tsp sunflower/corn oil

Salt to taste

Sieve the rice flour and keep aside.Bring 1 and 1/4 cup of water to a boil in a wok, add salt and the oil. turn down the heat to medium and add the rice flour slowly.Stir all the while to prevent formation of lumps . Transfer the dough to a white muslin cloth, cover it and start pounding it to remove any remaining lumps. After it cools down, knead the mixture and make small round boats as shown in the picture. The oil is used to prevent the rice flour from sticking to your hands.

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Now to assemble them together:

put 1 tsp of the filling in each of the cups, stick the edges of the flour with a drop of water. Cover a plate with a wet cloth, add these dumplings and steam cook in a cooker for about 15-20 minutes in medium flame. cool and remove. Viola, the rice dumplings are ready.

This is my entry to this month’s JFI for coconut kindly hosted by Ashwini of Food For Thought.

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