Monday, August 29, 2011

Tips n Tricks

Extract Lemon Juice to the fullest:
First poke the skin of the lemon with a fork, being careful not to poke all the way through the skin to the flesh.
Place the lemon(s) in the microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds.
Lemons can also be warmed by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Allow them to sit in the hot water for 30 seconds.   
After the lemons have been warmed, roll them on a solid surface using the palm of your hand. Roll until you feel the flesh softening.Now when you cut and squeeze you can get more juice as compared to normal way.

Difference between Baking Powder and Baking Soda:
Baking Powder -A combination of baking soda, an acid and a moisture absorber, which together form a leavening agent. Just the right amount of acid is added to the baking soda so that when the baking powder is added to moist ingredients, there is a reaction that releases carbon dioxide bubbles. This reaction is what makes the batter or dough rise.

Baking Soda -An ingredient used as a leavening agent. When it is mixed with an acidic ingredient and then comes in contact with liquid ingredients, a chemical reaction occurs. The chemical reaction releases carbon dioxide gas and causes the rising action in dough or batter. Some of the acidic ingredients that cause the reaction with baking soda are vinegar, lemon juice, orange juice, buttermilk, sour milk, sour cream, honey, chocolate and molasses. The chemical reaction begins as soon as the liquid is added, so the dough or batter should be baked as soon as possible after it has been mixed. If too much time passes before baking, the gases can escape and the product will not rise properly when baked.

Baking Soda have good shelf life but baking powder can become less effective with time.To determine if baking powder is still active add 1 teaspoon to 1/3 cup of hot water. If it bubbles vigorously, it's still active and will give good baking result.

-To avoid stickiness in Rice Add a few drops of lemon juice to the rice while cooking, you will find that the grains of rice will remain separate.

-To get really soft chapatis, the trick lies in the kneading. The more you knead, the smoother the dough becomes and the smoother the dough is, the softer the Chapatis. Another secret to soft Chapatis is using fresh yoghurt or milk instead of water, to make the dough! When you're done kneading the dough and it is smooth, wet your hand with water and run it all over the surface of the ball of dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for half an hour before using.

-If you misfired with the seasoning (and we all do that sometime!) and your curry is saltier than you like, don't throw it out. All you need to do is peel and cut a large potato in half and add it to your curry. It will absorb the extra salt!
-If you make your own ginger, garlic and fresh chilli pastes at home, ensure a longer life by adding a tablespoon of hot vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil to them and mixing well. Refrigerate and use as required.
-Cooking cabbage can be a smelly affair! Its strong odor permeates the home and stays for long after the cooking is done! To avoid this problem, add a bay leaf to cabbage while cooking it. Not only will this drastically reduce any odors, it will also enhance the flavor of the dish.

Something other than cooking:
-Store your bed linens inside the matching pillowcase! Put the set of sheets right inside a case and store it on a shelf. That way you know what color sheets are there and you’ll have the whole set ready to go.
-Remove tarnish from copper and brass cookware. Squeeze ketchup onto a cloth and rub it on pots and pans. They should go back to their coppery color in minutes. Rinse with warm water and dry with a towel.

-Cover the blemish on skin with a dab of honey and place a band-aid over it. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile, and speeds healing. Works overnight. (
-If you have a stubborn zipper, you can just lightly rub a candle along the teeth on both sides. Then pull your zipper back and a forth a few times and it should be working better!(

All tips are taken from Internet from various websites.If you have one do share with me so that I can update it time to time. :)

Lobiya curry(Black eyed beans)

Lobiya or black eyed beans are full of protiens.This dry Lobia Curry is an easy recipe to prepare when in hurry or when there are no vegetables on hand. This is not only a healthy and nutritious dish but can be put together in no time.
Blackeyed bean curry / Lobiya dry

1 cup black eyed beans(dry or canned)/Lobia/Chowli/chawli
3-4 green chillies
1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
1/4 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
A pinch asafoetida
Salt to taste
1 tsp  lemon extract
1 tblspn Oil
Cilantro leaves.

    If you have pressure cooker then we can start immediately otherwise beans needs to be soaked overnight at least.
Boil the beans using sufficient water in pressure cooker(take two whistle on simmer heat).
Separate the water completely from the cooked beans. Allow to cool.
Take a heavy bottom pan. Heat oil and prepare the seasoning with mustard,  cumin seeds,asafoetida,green chillies.
    Add the dry spices and cooked beans to the pan and stir gently.Add salt to this and mix gently without breaking the beans as they can be mushy.
Finally squeeze the lemon and garnish with cilantro leaves.
Serve hot with rotis/chapatis.

-For gravy version of black eyes beans, add grated garlic, onion to the oil and sauté until the onion turns golden/ transparent then add tomato puree and cook till oil seperates from the paste.Rest procedure is same.

Kalakand( Ricotta cheese cake Indian version)

This year Rakshabhandan was not so happy-happy festival for us for some reasons. But as they say life moves on,no matter what!
Well I prepared kalakand using sweetened condensed milk and paneer as these were available in my kitchen and was the easiest n fastest option to go for.

This recipe I had taken from Nestle Milkmaid website and made little variation.
I added little milk instead of milk powder.

1 tin (400g) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup milk   
500 g Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)/ricotta cheese
3-4, powdered Cardamom (Elaichi)
few strand Kesar(saffron)
Dry fruits like pistachio,almonds and cashew nuts.

Mash paneer coarsely and mix in milk little by little and condensed milk.
Heat the mixture in a thick bottom pan. Cook on medium heat with constant stirring till the mixture becomes thick and starts leaving the sides of the pan.
Remove from the fire and spread onto a greased plate.
Sprinkle elaichi powder & sprinkle kesar soaked in milk & top with pistachio ,almonds and cashew nuts.
Cool and cut into squares or diamond shape.

-Good, soft Kalakand has some whey water seperating from it, when it spread on the tray.Most of it gets absorbed as the Kalakand cools.
-This recipe makes 3/4 kg.
-This sweet can be stored for 2-3 days if refrigerated. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Zucchini ki kofta curry(Zucchini dumplings in gravy)

Zucchini name itself makes me feel full already. Its not that I never liked it but after my daughter's birth that was the only option for me to have in my meals as sometimes it  was treated as ridge gourd or sometimes as bottle gourd. Poor me after those times I avoided this vegetable in my kitchen but Alas! in Sweden this is a most easily available veggie so It made a way in my kitchen one fine day. And now since I am quite committed to my taste buds so decided to prepare kofta curry out of it i.e. Zucchini dumplings in gravy.
It tasted good and finally I was able to give a makeover to usual bland looking curry into a tempting dish.

For dumplings:
1/2 kg or 6-7 small Zucchini grated
1 cup gram flour or besan
oil for deep frying dumplings
1/2 tsp salt

For gravy:
2 tomatoes pureed
1 cup yoghurt
1-2 green chillies
1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
1 tsp dry coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1/4 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
a pinch of asafoetida
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp amchur powder(dry mango powder)
1 tblspn oil
Cilantro leaves for garnishing

Squeeze zucchini by hands to remove excess water from it and add salt to it.
Now add gram flour and mix it thoroughly to get a thick paste kind of consistency.
Add water if paste is more like a dough.
Heat oil in a deep pan on high heat and start dropping the paste with help of a spoon once the oil is hot enough.Fry these dumplings on medium heat until it turns golden brown.
Take them out on a tissue paper so that it will soak the excess oil.
now for gravy,heat the oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, asafoetida, green chillies.Let it splutter and then add tomatoes puree followed by all powdered spices - coriander, cumin, red chilli powder, 1 tsp garam masala, turmeric and cook with lid on till the oil begins to separate from it.
Add yoghurt to this gravy and mix it properly to get consistent texture.Keep stirring till it get blend with masala and season with salt to taste.
Add 1/2 cup water to the gravy as dumplings will soak some water and later gravy will be too dry to eat.
Gently add the dumplings now and add garam masala and amchur powder.
Let it cook for few more minutes with lid on.
Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with rice or chapati.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Indian Chickpeas curry(Chole masala)

Finally the recipe is here for much awaited and yummlicious dish -Chole masala or punjabi chole.
I prepared this curry for potluck which was hosted by one of our friend.It turned out so well that everybody asked me to pen down this recipe.
So here it goes.

2 cups chick peas or kabuli chana (soaked overnight in water)
1 medium sized chopped red onion

2 tomatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic(the big ones not the Indian garlic)
1 inch ginger
3 green chillies
1 stick of cinnamon(optional)
1 whole big cardamom(optional)
2-3 cloves,
2 tsp chana masala(Everest, MDH, MTR etc. will do)
1/2 tsp. garam masala
2 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. red chilli powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
salt to taste
3 tbsp oil

a pinch asafoetida 
1 tsp Lemon juice
Cilantro leaves(for garnish)

Soak the chickpeas overnight in warm water in a big bowl as it will turn double in size. .
Add salt to it and pressure cook for 15-20 mins until 2-3 whistles on medium heat. Turn off the heat and let it cool on the stove.
You can use canned chick peas as they are already boiled and ready to use.
In that case use two tin of chick peas atleast.
For gravy:
Make puree of tomatoes with garlic, ginger and green chillies.
Heat oil in a deep pan and add cumin seeds, asafoetida, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and let it splutter.
Now add chopped onion to the oil and fry it till it turns golden/pink in color.
Add the tomato garlic puree to this pan and add chilli powder, chana masala, coriander powder, turmeric powder and cook it on low heat with the lid on till the oil seperates from the mixture.
Add salt and chickpeas to this gravy and let it cook more for around 5-10 mins with lid ON on low heat.
Once it is done add lemon juice and garam masala.
Garnish with sliced onions and cilantro leaves and serve hot with poori, bhatura,rice or naan bread.
For best results make it a night before you want to have it so that chick peas soak the masala properly and taste divine.

-If you don't have dry spices like cinnamon ,cardamom you can simply skip them as adding garam masala and chana masala will serve the purpose too. 
-For getting dark color as we see in restaurants, you can put tea bags while pressure cooking the chickpeas.
-If you find difficulty with boiling chickpeas then you can add a pinch of baking soda i.e. soda bicarbonate while boiling it in pressure cooker.


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