October 31, 2008

Chicken Soup w/ Soba Noodles

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The weather has been fluctuating here for the last two weeks. After the gorgeous few days of fall weather, it turned cold suddenly and around the same time I got a bad bout of cough which is refusing to go away. As the week is winding down, I am craving comfort food like a bowl of hot soup and a chick flick to go with the bottle of Nyquil and Riccola.

The first part was easy, I took out my slow cooker and let the soup cook for 5-6 hours, then boiled some soba noodles to go with the soup for a comforting dinner. As for the movie, now that is a difficult choice...

The soup has my favorite veggies from the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market - fresh carrots, beans, onions and peppers and my favorite herb - cilantro. And cooking it in the slow cooker just makes it extra delicious, perfect for any weather, cough or not :)

Ingredients:
2 chicken thighs boneless - cut in small pieces
2 carrots - sliced
few green beans - sliced
2 celery sticks - sliced
1/4 cup peas
1 green pepper sliced
1 smal onion - sliced
1 tspoon ginger - grated
2 cloves garlic - cook them whole in the soup
1/2 tspoon turmeric
1 tspoon coriander and cumin powder
1/2 tspoon black pepper
1/2 tspoon oregano
1/2 tspoon cumin seeds
1/2 tspoon fresh cilantro
1 clove
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 pack soba noodle
1 tbspoon olive oil
salt to taste
3-4 cups chicken stock (I just use store bought)

Method:
I like to saute all my ingredients and spices lightly before I put them in the slow cooker. Rub the chicken with salt and pepper and saute it in a non stick pan with 1 tspoon oil for 6-8 minutes till they start turning brown. Keep it aside.

Then heat the rest of the oil and temper it with oregano, cumin seeds, clove and cinnamon. Then add the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute. Then add the onion slices and saute for another minute. Then add the carrots, beans, celery, peppers and peas and let it cook for another couple of minutes.

Add all the ingredients in the slow cooker along with, cilantro, chicken pieces and chicken stock and let it cook. I put mine on slow setting (it has only 2) and by the time it was done, my kitchen was smelling wonderful.

I take the garlic out, mash it with fork and mix it in the soup. When the soup is done, boil some soba noodles and mix it with soup. Or you can enjoy it with some buttered toast.

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This is going to Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen who is celebrating third anniversary of Weekend Herb Blogging. Congratulations Kalyn!

October 27, 2008

This Diwali it's homemade sandesh!

diwali-2008

Indulge me a little bit as I tell you about choti diwali and the ritual of 14 saag and 14 baati. I grew up with this ritual - lighting 14 diyas mostly one for every entrance and doorway and eating a special Diwali dish from 14 different leafy vegetables. Fourteen signifying the 14 years of exile for Lord Rama.

Since I have never been back to India for Diwali, I have not done this for many years. But this year is different as you already know. :) So, this time when my mom wanted to make 14 saag, we scrounged around the market and the backyard but we were still short of 14. So we improvised including mint, celery leaves and cilantro as part of the 14 saag. It turned out pretty good :)

And for Diwali mithai (sweet), we made sandesh, that too from scratch. Yes, we boiled whole milk, made channa (paneer) and then made the sandesh. It takes time, but the end result of soft sweet, melt in your mouth sandesh is worth it.

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Ingredients:
1 ltr whole milk
2 tspoons lime juice
sugar - equal amount as channa
2-3 cardamoms - powdered
pistachios and almonds for garnish

Method:
Boil the milk and add the lime juice. Put it in a cheesecloth and drain the water.

Once the channa is drained, pulse is lightly in a mixer till it becomes smooth. Add an equal amount of sugar (as the channa) and mix it well. Then heat a deep bottomed and stir it constantly over low heat. The mixture will first turn liquidy and then start thickening. When the mixture becomes a creamy thick paste and leaves the sides of the pan, stir in the cardamom powder. Roll it in to small balls and garnish it with pistachios and almonds.

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Happy Diwali to family, friends and readers.
Have a joyous festival filled with happy memories.

October 21, 2008

Lau Moog (Bottlegourd with Moong Dal)

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The last few months have been rediscovering the recipes I grew up eating but were pushed back to the memories folder after coming to the US. Since I never cooked in India, I got the recipes in phone calls when I really, really was craving something. But with my mom here, I have been learning how to cook and also blogging about them so that I have the recipes together for the next time she visits and I can cook it for her.

Lau moog is a simple recipe mildly flavored with panch phoron and chillies. The roasted moong dal is cooked with bottlegourd but retains its individual graininess. This dish is comfort food and I ate it during the summer when this light dal would cool us off. Eating it here in the Fall sunlight makes me relish it even more. The fresh cilantro gives it a zing and mixed with hot rice, I can make it an entire meal.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup of moog (moong) dal
1 small lau (chopped in small pieces) or about 1 1/2 cups
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder
1/2 tspoon grated ginger
1/2 tspoon cumin seed powder
2 green chillies
1 dry red chilli
pinch of asafoetida
1 tspoon panch phoron
1/2 tspoon sugar
salt to taste
1 tspoon ghee
small bunch cilantro - chopped
Method:
In a thick-bottomed pan, roast the moong dry till you get it get that aroma and
the dal starts turning reddish brown. Remove and set it aside.

Then peel the lau and cut it into small pieces. My mom calls it ghonto style.
Since the lau will also release water, you will need to add less water for the dal.


In a saucepan, add some water and boil the moong with grated ginger,
turmeric powder and salt. When the moong is about half cooked, add
the chopped lau, cumin seed powder and sugar. Also add 2 slit green chilies.
Cook it with closed lid on medium heat and stir it every 4-5 minutes so that it
does not get stuck at the bottom.

Alternately, you can also pressure cook the moong dal and lau with the masala for
1 whistle and then finish it off on an open saucepan. In terms of the consistency,
you should be able to see the dal grains and the lau pieces should be soft but
not completely mushy.

Heat the ghee and temper it with panch phoron, 1 red chilli, and asafoetida. Add it to the dal and mix it well together.

moogdal

Garnish it with cilantro and serve warm with rice.

This is going to Sra at When My Soup Came Alive who is hosting
My Legume Love Affair: Fourth Helping. It was started by Susan of
The Well Seasoned Cook.

mygarden

On another note, here is a picture of the last few veggies from my garden. We fried the zucchini flowers and used the pepper, lettuce and tomato for a delicious fish recipe.

October 19, 2008

Banana, Pear & Raspberry Smoothie for a lazy weekend!

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What do you do for weekend breakfast when you linger in bed a little longer knowing fully well that there is a growing list of chores for every extra few minutes. This was the decision I had to make when I switched the snooze for the second time. Aswin was away, it was cold and I couldn't resist savoring the warm bed for extra few minutes, ok, for an extra hour.

Once we were up and starting with the cleaning and shopping for the week, I quickly made a delicious smoothie with pear, banana that was on the verge of becoming overripe, and fresh, ooh so delicious raspberries that I picked up from the farmer's market yesterday. It was filling and light just right for the day. And I even saved a glass for Aswin :)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tbspoon honey
1 banana
1 pear
1/4 cup raspberries (save some for garnish)

Method:
This is the easy part. Put everything in the blender till it becomes smooth. Pour in glass and garnish with fresh raspberries.

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Enjoy!

October 14, 2008

Vegetable Biryani

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After the puja, we are still in the celebratory mood. And decided to make something special to go with it :) You can say this will continue till Diwali when family gatherings are highlighted with food, sweets, and games especially Wii. We have been honing our skills to play with our niece and nephews who says we are beginners. But we are improving :) Aswin says I am a mean bowler now, while I have a difficult time defeating him in tennis.

A few months ago, when our friends were visiting, we went bowling, actual bowling. Let me say I prefer Wii bowling anyday!

Before I digress further, we made vegetable biryani recently. It is my mother's recipe that she got from one of our close family friends. She prepares this special water by boiling fennel seeds, garlic cloves and coriander seeds together and then boils the rice in this water. It gives such a aromatic flavor to the biryani. It's unlike what I have tasted int he restaurants.

Ingredients:
2 cup rice
1 cup vegetables - we used, carrots, beans, peas mixture
1 tspoon cumin seeds
1 black cardamom
2-3 green cardamom
1' cinnamon roll
6-10 black pepper seeds
2-3 cloves
2-3 bayleaves
1/4 tspoon turmeric water
1 small onion - chopped in thin slices
5 cups water
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tbspoon fennel seeds
2 tbspoon coriander seeds
1 tbspoon oil
salt to taste

Method:
Boil the water with salt, garlic, coriander seeds and fennel seeds for 10-12 minutes or till it mixes and concentrates down to 4 1/2 cups.

Take the garlic cloves out and strain the water. Keep it separate.

In a thick bottomed pan, heat oil and temper it with cumin seeds and bayleaves. Then add green and black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add the onion and saute it till it starts turning translucent. Then add the rice and mix it together and let it cook for another couple of minutes.

Then add the vegetables and turmeric powder. Mix it together. After that, add the specially prepared water (ratio is 2 cups water to 1 cup rice) and salt and let it cook on medium heat on closed lid till all the water evaporates and the rice is cooked. For me it takes about 18-20 minutes.

Take it off the heat and mix the biryani.

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Serve warm with raita and pickle. We enjoyed ours with tomato, green chile and onion raita.

October 08, 2008

Celebrating Bijoya with Healthy Halwa!


While browsing, I came across this wonderful short animation film which captures the activities and spirit of Durga Puja. Enjoy!

Durga Puja is a special time for me no matter where I am. There is the nip in the air, colors, energy, excitement, time to be with friends and family. Even though I am not there to go to the puja pandal all five days, offer anjali, eat bhog, watch cultural programs and hang out with friends and family, I do try to go to the pujo wherever I am. This year it is doubly special because my mother and mother-in-law are here.

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No Pujo is complete without something sweet. And for this Bijoya, we have something completely new and different. The halwa is made with moong dal, potatoes and bread. It's healthy, and more than that, tastes great. It's almost like what makes pujo special. All the seperate ingredients come together to make it wholesome and memorable. :)

There is one tablespoon of ghee for flavoring and by the time it is mixed completely and garnished with roasted nuts and raisins it tastes and smells absolutely fabulous.

Here is how we made it.

Ingredients:
5 Bread Pieces
1 cup Mashed Potatoes
1 cup boiled and mashed Moong Dal
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbspoon ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 cup roasted almonds, raisins

Method:
Boil the milk and keep it aside. When it's lukewarm, soak the bread in it. Then add mashed potatoes, boiled dal and sugar and mix it together.

Heat 1 tbspoon ghee in a thick bottomed pan and then add the mixture in it and stir it together on low heat till the halwa starts leaving the sides of the pan. It takes a good amount of stirring to mix it all together.

Heat the rest of the ghee in a small pan and roast the almonds and raisins and garnish over the halwa.

halwa-2

It tastes best when served warm.

Shubho Bijoya to fellow bloggers, family and friends.

This Healthy Halwa is going to JFI:Festival Treats hosted by Srivalli at Cooking 4 All Seasons. JFI was started by Indira at Mahanandi.

October 04, 2008

A-2 Farmer's Market #7

One of the things I admire about the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market is you can always expect people there, no matter what the weather looks like. We went once when it was pouring expecting to be one of the few people there, but it was packed. And today morning when the temperature was in upper 30s, I thought the same thing, but I was wrong. The vendors and buyers were out in full force with their vegetables, meats, maple syrup, flowers, jewelery and so much more .

While writing this series, I have really enjoyed watching the changes in the vendors' wares. The summer squashes are slowly going out and winter squashes are coming in. As cauliflowers are coming in, okra is diminishing. Eating with the season has been a lot of fun. And I can't wait to see what I will find next.

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This week I found fresh beetroot and radishes along with tomatoes, onions and potatoes. I, then, bought green peppers and wandered to another vendor to buy tender, fresh carrots. And by then found the person I was looking for. One of the vendors grows a lot of Indian vegetables - bottlegourd, bittergourd, white pumpkin etc - and I got a juicy and soft bottlegourd from him. Now I have to plan the menu :)

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