Friday, September 25, 2015

Chow Chow Bhaat

Brunch Menu
Khaara bhaat/ upma
Kesari bhaat/rawa halwa
Hot filter coffee

Chow chow bhaat
Chow chow bhaat is a delicious combo of sweet and savory semolina served across Karnataka, more precisely Bangalore.  Served for breakfast or as a high tea snack, the savory part is khaara bhaat or upma and the sweet part is the kesari bhaat or rawa halwa. If you have never tried the two together you might wonder how they will taste paired up in a meal. Believe me each flavor balances and complements the other really well. Served over a banana leaf with the aroma of ghee, roasted suji, and the melt in the mouth texture, this is one super combo.

Both the dishes require slow roasting of rawa and hence time and patience. Needless to say its almost impossible to whip these for breakfast on a weekday. We usually make this for a Sunday brunch with a cup of hot coffee for a truly satisfying meal. 

Khaara bhaat (upma)
Khaara Bhaat (semolina upma)
1 cup semolina
2 tbsp oil (or ghee/clarified butter)
2 cups veggies (I used peas, carrots, yellow beans and green beans)
2 1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
Pinch hing (asafoetida)
Few curry leaves
1 tbsp roasted chana dal
2-3 green chilies, chopped
1 inch ginger, minced
Salt and red chili powder to taste
  1. In a pan on medium heat dry roast the semolina till it turns lightly golden and starts to impart a pleasant roasted aroma. Keep aside.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in another pan and add hing and mustard seeds. Let these crackle for a few seconds. Add the curry leaves, chana dal, green chilies and ginger. Saute for a few seconds and then add the vegetables. 
  3. Season with salt and red chili powder. Mix well, simmer and cover for 7-10 minutes. Give it a quick stir midway after 5 minutes. 
  4. When peas and beans are cooked through, add water and increase the heat to high. Season with some salt and then bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
  5. Slowly pour the roasted semolina into the boiling mixture, while stirring with one hand to avoid any lumps.
  6. Briskly continue stirring on high heat till all the syrup is absorbed and upma starts leaving some ghee on the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Serve hot. 

Kesari bhaat (rawa halwa)
Kesari Bhaat (rawa/suji halwa or sheera)
1 cup fine rawa (semolina)
3/4 -1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
3/4 - 1 cup sugar
2 cups water plus 1 cup milk
Pinch turmeric powder (haldi)
10-12 strands kesar (saffron) dissolved in a tsp of water
6 Blanched almonds skinned and chopped
6 green cardamoms skinned and crushed fine 
  1. The basic proportion to make suji halwa is suji:ghee:sugar:water - 1:1:1:3. I modify it a bit by substituting 1 cup milk for a cup of water and reducing the quantity of sugar and ghee. You can follow any proportion you like. 
  2. Mix sugar in the water-milk mixture and heat till sugar dissolves. Add kesar and turmeric powder and keep aside. 
  3. Heat ghee in a pan and lightly toast the almonds and raisins. Take out and keep aside.
  4. In the same pan add suji. Roast while constantly stirring on medium low heat till suji imparts a pleasant roasted aroma. Make sure the semolina does not brown, otherwise the finished product will not get the golden yellow hue.
  5. Add the sugar syrup to it briskly stirring on high heat till all the syrup is absorbed and halwa starts leaving some ghee on the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. 
  6. Stir in toasted almonds, raisins and cardamon. Serve hot.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mexican Burger

Tonight's menu
Mexican chicken burger
Southwestern Slaw
Pico de gallo
Lime infused Guacamole
Habanero hot sauce

Inspired by the flavors of Mexican cuisine and the American burger, here is a perfect combo that will satisfy your appetite and taste buds alike. This easy to make and healthfully prepared burger uses wholesome ingredients and tastes awesome. Fresh veggies go inside the tangy southwestern slaw, salsa, and guacamole.  A blend of herbs and spices gives the burger itself an earthy and spicy taste. I have used several types of chilies in this meal and each one brings with it a unique flavor note. A must try for all the burger connoisseurs.

Mexican chicken burgers
1 lb minced chicken
1 egg
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
2-3 cloves garlic (large), grated
Handful fresh coriander, chopped fine
1 tbsp bread crumbs
1-2 tbsp taco seasoning (see recipe below)
Salt to taste
  1. Mix all the ingredients together. If the mixture is too soft add some more breadcrumbs. It should be a fairly loose mixture. 
  2. Divide into four equal parts and moisten your palms to shape into round patties. 
  3. Place in a single layer and cover. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before cooking. This will set them for easy handling. 
  4. Grill for 7-8 minutes per side till cooked through and golden on both sides. 
  5. For a Vegetarian option substitute mince chicken with paneer, tofu or boiled potato or a combination of these. I have also tried boiled soy granules mixed with boiled potato. Just keep the flavoring same. You can pan fry or grill these. Comes out great.

To serve
4 Burger Buns
Guacamole (see recipe below)
Pico de Gallo (see recipe below)
Sour cream or hung yogurt (optional)
Olives, sliced (optional)
Jalapeno rings (optional)
Southwestern slaw (see recipe below)
Habanero hot sauce (recipe)
  1. To serve spread guacamole on the burger bun.
  2. Top with the grilled chicken patty followed by cheese and pico de gallo.
  3. Top with a dollop of sour cream, olives, and Jalapeno rings.  
  4. Serve with a side of Southwestern slaw, pico de gallo, extra guacamole and habanero sauce for an out of the world burger experience. 
Taco seasoning (mix well)
Ingredients (makes 2 1/2 tbsp)
1 tbsp chili powder
1/3 tsp garlic powder
1/3 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin

Southwestern Slaw
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 cup fine shredded cabbage
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1 jalapeno minced
handful chopped coriander
2 tsp lime juice
2 tsp honey
salt to taste
  1. Combine everything and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  2. The longer you you keep it, more flavorful it will be.

Jalapeno Pico de Gallo 
Ingredients: (makes 1 cup)
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 red onion chopped fine
2-3 jalapeno peppers minced
handful chopped coriander
1/2 tsp lime juice
salt to taste
Combine everything and mix well.

Lime infused Guacamole 
Ingredients: (makes 1 cup)
2 ripe avocados mashed
2 cloves garlic minced fine
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp lime zest
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mash the avocados with the lime juice, garlic, and salt. Season with pepper. 
  2. Adjust with more lime juice if necessary to taste.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tilapia in coconut sauce

 Tonight's Menu
Tilapia in coconut sauce
Thai green eggplant stir fry
steamed white rice

Tilapia in Thai green coconut sauce with Green eggplant stir fry over white steamed rice

Tilapia fillets are cooked in a Thai green curry paste flavored coconut milk sauce for a rich silky flavor. An easy yet flavorful way to prepare fish. Serve the fillets over a bed of white rice spooning the luxurious sauce over them. The sauce is quite spicy so adjust the amount of thai chilies you use to make the green curry paste.

Tilapia in coconut sauce
Ingredients: (serves 4)

Four tilapia fillets
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup coriander leaves
1 lemongrass stalk, coarse outer leaves discarded, chopped
10 Fresh or frozen Kaffir lime leaves

2 teaspoon peeled grated galangal or fresh ginger
5 garlic cloves
5 red Thai chilies 
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. 
  2. Spray a baking dish with oil. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper and place in the baking dish. 
  3. Meanwhile dry roast coriander and cumin seeds in a moderately hot skillet for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Grind these seeds coarsely using a mortar and pestle or dry grinder. (I used magic bullet)
  5. Put the ground spice mix along with all other ingredients in a blender and process for 2-3 minutes into a thick and smooth paste. Season with salt (bear in mind fish is already seasoned.)
  6. Pour the mixture over the fish. Bake until the fish is just opaque in the center, about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Serve spooning the coconut sauce over rice.
Fish recipe adapted from Food network

Thai eggplant is small, round with green and white coloring. It is crunchier than other eggplant varieties and can be found in many Asian grocery stores. Tastes great just stir fried with a little five spice too.

Sauteed Baby Thai Eggplants

2 tbsp sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic chopped fine
1/2 red onion julienne
1/2 inch ginger cut in thin strips
1 stalk lemon grass finely chopped
3-4 lime leaves finely chopped
1 lb Thai green eggplants quartered
3-4 green and red Thai chilies (optional)
1 tsp coriander powder
salt to taste
  1. Heat sesame oil in a pan. Add onion, ginger, garlic, lemon grass and lime leaves. Stir on high for 30 seconds.
  2. Add eggplant and reduce heat to medium. Cook stirring frequently without lid for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chilies (if using), stir in coriander powder and salt to taste. 
  4. Toss well till peppers are tender crisp and eggplant is done.
  5. Serve hot.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Mango mint chutney

Tart, slightly sweet unripe mango blends with the green, fresh mint and the pungent, earthy garlic in this chutney. Packed with digestive herbs and condiments this chutney so refreshingly shouts "summertime". A very versatile sauce that is delish with a hint of sweet heat. Use as a spread, a dip or as an accompaniment.

Ingredients: (makes about 1 1/2 cups)
2 small raw mangoes 
2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh coriander leaves
4-5 green chilies (as per your spice quotient)
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
Thumb sized piece fresh ginger, peeled
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/4 cup lime juice
  1. Peel the mangoes and roughly cube the mango flesh (discard the seed).
  2. Pick and wash the mint and coriander leaves.
  3. Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. I like to use my magic bullet. 
  4. Lime juice will act as the liquid to help blend everything and also acts as a preservative.
  5. I usually don't like to add any sugar in this, but if your mangoes are too tart by all means add some. 
  6. Transfer to a clean glass jar and refrigerate. Keeps well for 2-3 weeks.
Use this chutney as: 
  1. A spread for sandwiches, burgers and wraps.
  2. A dip for chips and crackers.
  3. A condiment with any fried or baked savory appetizers such as samosa, bonda, pakoda, cutlets.
  4. An accompaniment to any any Indian meal of dal and subzi.
  5. An accompaniment to any BBQ or grilled meats and fish.