Wednesday, 27 April 2016

TOMATO AND COCONUT CHUTNEY (South Indian style)

TOMATO AND COCONUT CHUTNEY
(South Indian style)

Edited: This my post was featured at a blog hop on 5th of May 2016, Check here.


Chutneys and pickles play an important role in Indian and South Asian cuisine, as a condiment or a side dish, without which no snack or meal is complete. They are always readily available in Indian homes, and we serve them with every single meal as a side dish, which can enhance the taste of food to its highest level of satisfaction. Once you try chutneys, their sweet-sour and tangy flavors can sometimes intensify the taste of the main food, and the complete dish can be enjoyed even more.



In Indian cuisine, many fruits and vegetables of different colors are used to make these colorful and versatile chutneys with varieties of tastes like sweet, sour, tangy, hot etc. In different states of India, different types of chutneys are made which go well with the taste of their traditional food preparation respectively. Chutneys and their types depend upon the food item we eat, for example if our curry is already hot, we might need some sweet chutney to accompany it or if our curry or the main dish is bland we might need some hot or sweet and sour chutney with it.




Traditionally in India, all types of chutneys and pickles were homemade, and all their recipes were known by the housewives/homemakers. The source of learning was through their mothers or elderly women in the family. But these days everything is commercialized, even chutneys and pickles are readily made available in shops. The only problem with these readymade one is the quality because they are loaded with preservatives, too much sugar or vinegar, which is not good for health. Homemade chutneys are always good because we know all the ingredients in it compared to the ready made ones in the shop where some of the ingredients are difficult to pronounce/ read or known.




In some Indian homes, I have seen different varieties of pickles and chutneys are always there on the dining table with the food. They are normally kept in one big container with small compartments/bowls in it, like an Indian spice box or something like a box with divisions. This is really a convenient way to serve different varieties in one go, and easy for people to help themselves with whatever taste of chutney they require at the time of a meal.



Both the chutneys in today’s post are south Indian style and go very well with dosa and Idlee and other south Indian dishes, even with rice and other curries. Both these chutneys are so versatile that they can be enjoyed with any type of pakoda (fritter), samosa and many other snack items of north and south India. Tomato chutney can easily replace ready made tomato ketchup from the shop.







RECIPE



INGREDIENTS
For coconut chutney

  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 2 green chilies(optional)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup of water (if required)
For Tempering
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • few curry leaves
  • 2 whole red dried chili
METHOD
  • Soak coconut in one cup of water for 3-4 hours
  • Remove extra water and grind with all other ingredients in a blender, add water if it is too thick.
  • Mix yoghurt thoroughly.
  • For tempering heat oil in a pan, put mustard seeds and red chili and curry leaves. Fry till chili and leaves are fried.
  • Add together with oil on top of chutney.
  • Chutney is ready to serve.
TOMATO CHUTNEY



INGREDIENTS
  • 500 Grams tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic, cut in half pieces
  • 1 big onion (200 grams), cut into small pieces
  • 2 green chilies (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 tbs oil
METHOD

  • Heat oil in a frying pan, add mustard seeds, let it splutter then add garlic and onion and fry till golden brown.
  • Add tomatoes and salt and let it boil and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  • When cold put it in a blender and make a puree of it.
  • Chutney is ready to serve.




Tuesday, 19 April 2016

CANNELLONI SHELL PASTA WITH SPINACH AND RICOTTA

CANNELLONI SHELL PASTA WITH SPINACH AND RICOTTA


A few months back, I got a request from my third-grade grandson's teacher to come and talk about spices in India. His class was doing a research project on India and Ukraine, where they discussed many issues on these countries and their culture, clothes, food, history etc. I was very pleased to be a part of this research and agreed a date and time, to visit her class.




I was happy because I am a retired teacher and once a teacher, is always a teacher. I prepared a simple 30-minute lecture on spices, on their types, history, uses in Indian cuisine and other health benefits of spices. Considering their age and class, I prepared a spice box, in which I kept around 15 different spices, to show them what they all look like.



I prepared two food items, one was a sweet and the other one was a savory snack. In the sweet item, I prepared strawberry pinwheel in which I used nutmeg to give nice smell and taste. In the savory snack, I made bread fritters with cumin and carom as a spice to give taste and flavour. Both these items, I have already shared on my blog. You can check here-.Bread Fitter recipe and Strawberry pinwheel recipe.



My daughter did a presentation on clothes and culture in front of the class. She also explained how to tie a tradition dress for women (Saree) and made small henna tattoos on the kids’ hands.



It was a successful session with the third graders, and at that time, I could easily see an elegant smile and gratified feeling on my grandson's face. I also felt delighted as I did something good for my grandson's class and added to their knowledge.



Coming to the recipe, this recipe is a kid friendly recipe in my house, my grandchildren would love to eat it anytime. In this recipe, I can easily add some vegetables which they don't mind. Otherwise, they do not enjoy vegetables. They actually complain when they see vegetables and are supposed to chew them. They make so many stories and try to avoid them. So I have to try and make the dish in such a way that even when vegetables are there, but hidden in their favorite recipe like this one.






RECIPE
INGREDIENTS
  •  300 grams cannelloni shell pasta
  •  300 grams ricotta cheese
  •  200 grams spinach
  •  200 grams green pepper (one big)
  •  100 grams onion (one small)
  •  6-7 tomatoes for puree
  •  100 grams grated mozzarella cheese
  •  3 tbs oil
  •  salt and black pepper to taste


METHOD

  • Boil pasta in plenty of water till it is soft. Rinse the water and wash with cold water, put it aside.
  • Make a puree with the tomatoes- slice, blend in a blender and boil in the pot with some salt.
  • Wash and chop spinach. Chop onion and green pepper in diced shape.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan, add onion and green pepper and saute for five minutes then add spinach and mix well. Leave it to cook and let the water evaporate from the spinach, add salt and pepper.
  • Add ricotta cheese to it and mix well. Fill this mixture in every single shell, and line them on a baking tray.
  • Add tomato puree on top of the shell pasta.
  • Spread grated cheese on top.
  • Put it in a preheated oven on 180 degrees C for 15 to 20 minutes till the cheese is melted and light brown on the top.
  • Serve hot with some green salad.



Monday, 4 April 2016

CUMIN/JEERA BISCUITS AND A POST ON A SPICE-CUMIN

CUMIN/JEERA BISCUITS

A POST ON A SPICE-CUMIN

#Edited- This recipe was featured on Joy's love food on 11th April 2016. Check here


Cumin seeds are very small in size and brown in colour. They are mainly used in Indian, middle eastern, north African, western Chinese and in Mexican cuisine. It is the main spice of curry powder. Cumin seeds are used because of its distinctive flavour and aroma. Once it is added to a dish, even when the dish is cold, you can still smell the aroma of this great spice. These days cumin has been globally recognised as a great spice and I have seen chefs in different cuisines using cumin because of its aromatic values and health benefits.


I remember when I was working as a teacher, sometimes I carried my lunch with me to school. I normally took things which I could eat as it is, at room temperature, because in our small department room there was no facility of heating food in the microwave. Whenever I had cumin in my food, my colleagues admired the flavour from my dish. On many incidences, they were complaining that why was I carrying food for myself only. On many instances they told me, “Your food is smelling so nice, you should bring this type of aromatic lunch for all of us”. I really liked their compliments and complaints. I still miss those days, when I was working as a teacher.



Cumin is extremely good for digestion and its many related problems, it means we should include cumin in our everyday consumption of food items. That is exactly the way, cumin seeds are used in Indian cuisine, it is used in almost all curries, lentil preparations, biryani/pilaf, in many vegetable dishes as well as in many savoury snacks and biscuits.



In Indian cuisine, we use cumin seeds in three forms, the seeds. its powder and roasted seeds powder. We lightly dry roast cumin seeds and then grind them in a dry grinder, this roasted cumin seeds powder has an awesome aroma. It is used in many savoury snacks, in vegetable/fruits salads, in different chutneys and raitas/yoghurt preparations. Cumin seeds can be roasted in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or in a frying pan.



Cumin seeds are considered to be a good source of iron, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals. There are varieties of health-benefits of this spice. Check this website-
Cumin is used as medicine in Ayurveda (Traditional healing system of India). In Ayurveda, diseases are cured with natural things available in our nature like fruits, flowers, herbs, spices etc. People in Asia are using and applying the principals of Ayurveda in their life from thousands of years.


According to this website some of the Ayurvedic health-benefits of cumin are that it dispels gas, eliminate toxins, is a mild laxative and is anti-inflammatory. Check this website -


This is a very healthy and simple recipe in which I have used whole wheat flour. These biscuits have a lesser amount of sugar and butter compared to other cookies, and I made them bite size, so they can be enjoyed more. They can be enjoyed with evening tea or coffee.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS
  • Whole wheat flour 1 and 1/4 cup
  • Butter 1/4 cup
  • castor sugar 1/4 cup
  • Milk 1/4 cup
  • salt 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds 1 tbs
  • baking powder 1/4 tsp
METHOD

  • Take whole wheat flour in a big bowl and mix baking powder in it
  • Then add sugar, salt, and cumin seeds
  • Add butter and mix well, then add milk, mix well and divide the dough into two parts.
  • Heat oven to 150 degrees C
  • Roll one ball on the flat surface and give any shape using a cookie cutter.
  • Spread them on a tray on a parchment paper and bake for 20-25 minutes, till they turn into light brown colour.