Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quick fix- Indian semolina pancakes

Ever wondered that the food you have been eating from your childhood which has always been considered as country's traditional dish, might be getting cooked from ages in other part of world too and with the same notion that they invented it or rather OWN it! Yes, this happens a lot and to everyone. When we go places in our lives we get exposed to new things, new traditions, new people and new food which yet looks similar to your own cuisine with some minor differences or just the different name!
Pancakes fall under similar category, almost every country has this dish in their menu for breakfast- sweet or salty!
In India, we do have similar recipes for pancakes but mostly without eggs. In fact pancakes varies from region to region if you travel from north to south.
In North India, all variations of pancakes are known as Cheela (can be sweet or salty) but in South it becomes Uttapam, Dosa(more like crepe) and might be many more different names which even I am unaware of!

The recipe I am sharing today is originally for Uttapam but I tried to make it in mini sizes: less surface area more crispy! ;)


For two portions:
Time to prepare: 10 minutes
Time to cook: max 10 minutes

200 gms or 1 cup semolina or suji or mannagryn
1/2 cup yogurt
1 + 1 Tbs. Oil
1 cup finely chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower or any vegetable you want to add in it!
Salt to taste
1 tsp. Mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder or gurkmeja (optional but good to use as it is natural anti-inflammatory herb)
1/4 tsp. baking soda or Fruit salt
1/4 tsp. citric acid/lemon juice/ nimbu ke phool
few Indian curry leaves (fresh or dried)
Green chilies as per your taste


In a big bowl, add semolina, salt, 1 tbs. oil, citric acid, turmeric, yogurt and mix well with water to get a lump free thick batter.
Keep it aside for 15 to 20 minutes for better results.

In a small pan, heat the oil on medium heat and add mustard seeds, curry leaves until it starts to splutter.(This small step is called Tadka in hindi )
Now add this Tadka, the vegetables, chilies and soda in this batter and mix it softly without mashing the vegetables.

In a wide non stick pan, put  little oil and spread a spoonful of batter to make almost 2 inches wide and 1/2 cm thick pancake. Repeat this for more pancakes in same pan to cook together.

Cover it with lid for 5 mins and let it cook on medium heat.
Keep checking it in between and wait until it doesn't look like raw batter anymore.
Now flip them upside down to get cooked on other side too.
Brush a little oil on each of them to make it more crispy and flip it again. Cook for another 1 minute without covering the lid. Approximately each batch takes around 5-7 minutes or so in total to be ready.

Once you get the desired color and texture, take it out of pan and serve hot with Indian coriander chutney or even Tomato ketchup.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Blueberry/Raspberry pie with crumbled topping

This is the first time I tried pie from scratch and believe me, pies are quite easy to do as compared to cakes. ( I still remember my flop shows of initial trials at cake baking).

Follow simple instructions to create flaky, buttery pie crust at home.

Pie crust can be tricky if not one is not considering some points which are quite important to keep in mind. I will make sure to add those points in note so that when you try for first time it won't be a flop show.:)

For Pie crust:

2  cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
10 Tbs. (150 gms) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 Tbs. approx. very cold water


To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture becomes coarse, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water gradually while mixing just until the dough pulls together.

Transfer the dough to a kitchen counter, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. (Although many dough recipes call for chilling the dough at this point, this dough should be rolled out immediately for the best results.)
But still if you think that butter is melting or getting too soft then don't hesitate to put it in refrigerator for some time like 5 minutes.
Then lightly flour the counter, then flatten the disk with a rolling pin.
Lightly dust the top of the dough then roll out into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Makes enough dough for one 11-inch single-crust pie.

Place a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 204°Celsius.

Take the refrigerated  rolled dough out  and transfer to a 11-inch pie dish and pork it with fork few times to avoid blistering. Many people line the chilled pie crust with a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and Fill with dried beans, uncooked rice or pie weights. But since I didn't have any of these at home so I'd covered the whole pie crust with some bread loafs (which later can be used as croutons for soup). Remove these bread loafs after 10 mins.
 Bake for 10 more minutes until the crust dries out.
 Reduce the heat to 176°C.
Continue to bake until the crust is lightly browned on the edges and dry-looking on the bottom, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the crust to a wire rack to cool down.

Here I have used fresh blueberry and raspberry to make the juicy and tangy pie filling.

3/4 cup plus 5 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-
 inch pieces
3 cups of blueberries and raspberries

In a large bowl, stir together the 3/4 cup flour, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp. of the cinnamon and the salt. Scatter the butter pieces on top and toss with a fork or your fingers to coat with the flour mixture. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, work the ingredients together until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. Set the topping aside.

In another large bowl, combine the berries, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, the remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon and 4 Tbs. of the flour. Stir gently to coat the berries evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbs. flour and the 1 Tbs. granulated sugar over the bottom of the prebaked crust. Pour the filling into the crust, spreading it evenly.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the berry filling. Bake the pie until the topping is golden brown and the blueberry filling just begins to bubble, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Serve at room temperature or serve warm with rich vanilla ice cream. And if by chance some are still left then you can refrigerate for 2-3 days. :)


I have mentioned many times to keep dough cold  its because the more butter is stiff and cold before baking more the crust will be flaky.
Warm water and butter will lend to hard, crunchy crust instead of a nice tender flaky crust.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Boondi Laddu / Sweet balls of bengal gram flour

On this Holi, somehow I totally forgot to plan for the festival and had almost nothing at home to make something special. After making a rigorous search into my inventory, all I could see were basic stuffs like Besan, Ghee & sugar.
So thought of making something which I never tried (challenging myself is the only way to push me in kitchen happily :D) and that's how the idea of making Boondi Laddu came to my mind.
On Holi usually people will make Gujiyas but boondi laddus are something which can be associated by any festival or religious prayers especially laddus at Thirupathi Balaji's. Infact they also reminds me of the Republic day and Independence day celebrations at school when we used to get four of them in a small box after singing the national anthem. 

Though it can be made by following very simple recipe of Besan, sugar and ghee but adding few more things to it can make it tastier like Tirupathi's prasadam laddu.

1 & 1/2 cup of Besan/  bengal gram dal flour
1/2 tsp of Baking powder  
1/2 cup of milk
2 & 1/2 cup of Sugar   
5     Elachi/ cardamom  
3     cloves
few strands of Saffron
A small pinch  of  Edible camphor (optional)  
A small pinch   of Yellow food colour (optional)  
a few  of  Sugar candy (mishri)    
a handful  of sliced Pistachio     
Ghee(clarified butter) for frying

Seive besan and add yellow color+ baking powder and whip in milk to make a uniform & fluffy paste.

The batter's consistency should not be too watery or too thick, it should be enough watery to pass through the holes and enough thick to drop like a drop in oil while frying. Keep aside for few minutes to be ready.

Meanwhile start making sugar syrup. Take a heavy bottomed vessel and add sugar and water to it.
We need to cook it until we get two thread consistency which can be checked by taking a drop of it in between thumb and tip of index finger. Mix cardamom , saffron, cloves and camphor- all powdered, and switch off the heat once done.

Heat ghee in a deep wide pan and use a big slotted spoon to make boond. You need two deep frying ladles one for making boondi and one for draining from ghee and one more to spoon the batter. 
Now pour the besan batter on this slotted ladle using spoon, holding it high above the hot oil. Make sure if its too close, then boondi will not be round and will have tails.
Keep turning them continuously for even cooking and then drain them to a wide plate.

Now add  pitachios, sugar candies to boondi and start rolling them gently in the sugar syrup.Make sure all boondi should be covered by sugar syrup. Lets wait for around 20 mins with lid ON to become warm enough to start making laddus.

You can use plastic cover on your hand if you want to make these laddus. Take a small portion of this mixture and press it in one hand squeezing out the extra syrup and ghee and then with second hand try to shape it in a round ball. Store them in any airtight container once they are cooled down.


-The ghee for deep frying should be on medium heat throughout.

-Start shaping laddus as soon as they are warm enough to handle.

Hope you like this recipe and wish you a very colorful and Happy Holi !!!


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