Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tamatar soya-wadi di kadhi : JFI tomato

Food blogsopshere is always abuzz with interesting events that serve as a platform to share not just recipes but ideas and conecpts related to food. One such great event is "Jivha for Ingredients", which features one ingredient every month. Conceptualized and brought to the blogosphere by Indira (of the wonderful Mahanandi blog), the event is being hosted this month by RP of My Workshop (another great blog) and features TOMATOES.

Today I'll share a simple, yet very delicious recipe featuring tomatoes. Its a fusion of the classic kadhi with some relatively newer ingredients of Indian cooking. We've all heard about and relished the kadhi classics like "Pakore wali kadhi", "Majjige huli", "Mor Kozhambu" and many many more delicious variations of dahi/curd based gravies from across the different subcultures in India. Punjabis traditionally make two basic varieties of kadhis, the stylish and hearty pakore wali kadhi, which is also the more popular one; and the very sublime kadhi with vegetables.....the latter graced by the presence of a whole variety of veggies and greens. The simplest of these is tamatar wali kadhi :). This curd based delight with tangy tomatoes now takes an interesting turn by including the soya-wadi, popularly known as nutrella/nutri nuggets. These are dried chunks of soy and are quite popular in some cuisines from Northern India. Where did i get this idea from! Well, quite some time ago, while travelling, my Dad sampled soya wadi di kadhi at a Railway Station dhaba! So all thanks to the bhaiya ji at the dhaba :). Anyways, with or without soya wadis, tamatar di kadhi is quick to make and a delish relish :). Here's my recipe for Tamatar soya-wadi di kadhi.

We need:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup buttermilk or beaten curd (sour preferred)
  • 2 and 1/2 tbsp. besan
  • 1/4 onion (chopped chunky)
  • 2 big, ripe TOMATOES (chopped chunky)
  • 10-15 soya chunks (soaked in warm water to soften)
  • Ginger (chopped, to taste)
  • 1/2 bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp. each of jeera and dhaniya (cumin and coriander) seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. each of methi-dana (Fenugreek seeds) and kalonji (Nigella seeds)
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • Turmeric and chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Garam masala
  • Kasuri Methi (dried methi leaves) and Cilantro (both for garnishing)
Heat oil and splutter jeera, dhaniya, methi-dana and kalonji (in that order). Add onions and saute, followed by ginger and bell-peppers. (While its being saute'd-we must also keep ready the besan-curd mix. For that, beat the curd smooth and slowly add besan, preventing any clumps. We can use buttermilk instead). Now add 1/2 of the chopped tomatoes, stir and cook. Add turmeric and chilli powder (add only 1/4 tsp.turmeric-the color gets darker as we cook). Stir to make the base and add rest of the tomatoes. Reduce the flame and slowly add the curd-besan mix while stirring to prevent curdling. Squeeze out excess water from soaked soya-wadis and add to the kadhi. Add more water and bring to boil. Cook on low heat to allow the kadhi to thicken a bit. Add the kasuri methi and garam masala, cover the pot and let sit for 5 mins. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice.

I served this with matar pulaav. This kadhi looks a lil' orange because of the tomatoes and quite a riot of colors, what with the bell peppers etc added. Methi and cilantro add a distinct aroma.....and no, they don't clash: rather they complement each other very nicely. It works well even if the curd is not that sour because tomatoes provide tangy taste. Also, instead of adding soya-wadis to the kadhi, you might like to add them to the pulaav (Mom often used to make soya-wadi matar pulaav).

Next: Paronthe te achhar :)

Methi-Zucchini ki sabzi :)

Here's one more from the squash and greens fan :). Two of my favorite vegetables put together-simple magic! Both very aromatic and leafy and the other one a great squash (without seeds, may i add). Methi (Fenugreek) is a very valued spice in Indian cuisine. Green leaves are used as vegetables and dried ones as garnish. Even the seeds (methra/methidana) occupies a coveted place in the spice-box. There are two varieties of methi available in Punjab-methi and methra. The latter has bigger leaves and more aromatic. Methi is considered to be "garam" in essence. Its predominantly a winter time product in India. Zucchini on the other hand is the best equivalent to ridge-gourd (which incidently is a summer vegetable). Grilled zucchini is good, so is aloo-methi. However, today lets try something that gets the best of both worlds :).

So, lets get, set and go.....

We need:

  • 2 bunches fresh methi (chopped fine)/frozen (1 packet)
  • 2 medium sized zucchinis (cubed)
  • 2mild long red peppers (chopped)/you may like red sweet-pepper instead
  • Jeera (1 tsp.)
  • 1/4 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 big tomato (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • Turmeric (1/2 tsp.)
  • Salt and chilli powder to taste
Heat oil and splutter jeera-saute onions and add tomatoes (the usual). Cook and then add turmeric and chilli powder. Now add zucchini cubes and cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Add methi and stir. Add salt and cook on low heat after covering the pan. Half way through add chopped red pepper of your choice (I used Holland pepper) and cook till done. Ready to go. No garam masala etc. is needed, because methi is highly aromatic and anything else will only take away from the fragrance. The red pepper along with tomatoes adds color to the vibrant green sabzi. Serve hot with chapati, paratha or daal-chawal.

This recipe also works well with spinach and other squashes like doodhi. In that case you might like to add some garam masala. Fresh methi leaves have slight bitter (kasaila, not kadwa) taste-if you don't like slightly bitter flavor then you may like to go light on methi. Frozen methi isn't bitter. I enjoy the slightly bitter flavor with parathas a lot :).

Next: Tomatar-soya wadi di kadhi : For JFI tomato.

Musical and her kitchen :).

Welcome to my "about" page :). I am musical, your host at Musical's Kitchen.....bringing you the foodie thoughts from my lil' kitchen in Los Angeles :). I am foodie, who dreams and thinks about food even while taking a long walk, or a bus ride: a "chatori" in the truest sense of the word :-D. My entry into the food blogging world happened early this year.....after getting inspired by the wonderful foodie corners i had been visiting. I was inspired not only by the wonderful recipes, photographas and words on these blogs, but also by the warm and friendly community feeling the desi food blogs radiate. To me it signified the spirit of sharing, what with the different e-potlucks and the friendly chit-chats in the comments section and also a strong will to do good things in life.....Slowly and steadily, i got more and more inclined to be a part of this community.....and thus began my tryst with food blogging :).

Before coming to the US, i had hardly done much cooking. But like my parents, i too had an inclination to not just enjoy good food, but also learn what makes good food :-D. After coming here, i had a chance to experiment with cooking.....and surprisingly i did a decent job :). Am sure its Mom's blessings and love :). And when i found out the foodie blogosphere, here was my chance to share whatever lil' i knew. I must mention that i have learnt a lot from my friends too.....about different cuisines, food habits and a lot more.

Ooh, that sounded really very serious :-D. Now for some funny food facts about me:

  • For all my claims to be a genuine foodie, i don't own a single cook-book and am not into food shows at all! I solely rely on friends and food blogs for foodie learning.
  • My love for Upma is rather well known to my friends ;).
  • I have been accused of doing the "mooli ke peeche kya hai" dance ;).
  • I rarely bake. When i do, its mostly savories (including baked vegetables) or plain breads.....rarely a cake or brownies :).
  • I usually tweak a lil' bit here and there, when cooking from a recipe: partly explains my last point ;).
  • I love my masala chai :-D and coffee too :).
  • I sometimes make (and enjoy) blasphemous pastas with green chutney, or an overdose of green peas and corn and the likes :-D.
  • I make khichris, kadhis and paranthas out of almost any edible vegetarian thing :-D.
  • I end up talking about food with most of my friends in a casual conversation ;). Well, my friends are no different :-D.
Dear blog buddies, this blog took shape with the generous dose of inspriration you provided..... Oh! and dear reader, i thank you for being here and encouraging me :).

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ghiya kaddu vali chholyaan di daal and a lil' surprise :)

Its all about getting to enjoy the wonderful gifts the nature has to offer :). Besides turnips, all sorts of squashes and gourds made to my "no-no" list, when i was a child. Bottle gourd/doodhi/lauki/ghiya kaddu in all its green splendour was real fun to look at and play dumbells with, but i always kept it at an arms length when it came to edifying the same! Even the super-cute sounding names "Kaddu" and "Ghiya" didn't come to my rescue.....But real goodness is like magnet, it pulls you and hugs you :). So started my love-affair with the squashes.....and now i am a fan :).

Today, i'll make a very delectable and subtly flavored daal for all of us. This is a traditional Punjabi combination of Chana daal and ghiya kaddu. We Punjabis love Chana daal, though elsewhere, friends joke, it makes horse feed ;). Its called Chholiyaan di daal-daal made out of kaale chhole/Bengal gram. Punjabis also have a proclivity for gourds, especially the ghiya kaddu. This simple dish brings together the two widely loved flavors.

So, lets get going :).

We need:

  • One cup Chana Daal (Chholiyaan di daal-Punjabi)
  • One medium sized ghiya kaddu
  • 1/4 onion-finely chopped
  • 1 tomato-chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. Dhaniya seeds/coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. Jeera/Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. oil/ghee
  • salt and red chilli powder to taste
  • A pinch of garam masala (not more)
Wash the chana daal thoroughly, soak in warm water and set aside. Wash the ghiya, scrape off the peel and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. SAVE THE GHIYA PEEL SCRAPES :). Add the ghiya pieces to the daal and pressure cook (5-6 whistles) with lil' salt. The daal and ghiya should be thoroughly cooked resulting in a creamy texture with the ghiya pieces not sticking out too prominently. Take a deep breath and enjoy the warm and sweet aroma of ghiya and daal blend :). While the pressure cooker cools down-lets prepare a tadka. Splutter jeera and dhaniya in hot oil/ghee, saute onions, add tomatoes and cook. Add turmeric and chilli powder to taste (preferably very lil'). Add this tadka to the daal. Let the daal-ghiya mix cook slowly for the flavors to blend in. Add just a pinch of garam masala to enhance the flavor of daal. Thats it-a simple classic is ready :). No cilantro, no green chillies. Serve hot with rice or chapati.

Ghiya provides a subtle sweet flavor to the already mellow chana daal, while dhaniya and jeera enhance the aroma of daal-ghiya combo. The final product should have the aroma of jeera-dhaniya top note, ghiya as the middle note and daal as the base (you'll actually relish each layer when you take a spoon-full). You can see that i'm smitten. Hey, i have reason to be! Try this and you'll know what i mean. No frills, this is an all time favorite. I preferably make it with ghee in tadka. You can also top it with ghee for extra aroma. (Thanks Anita, for the lil' nudge). Served here with hot chapatis and home made nimboo-mirchi-adrak achaar (in oil-Manisha has two great posts on achaar without oil).

And now the lil' surprise :)

Whatever happened to those chhilkas/peels we saved ;). This is the other wonderful part of preparing a ghiya kaddu dish. Lets see: do you love chutneys! YES-i hear you all :)). Here's the lil' surprise of ghiya-moongphali chutney :). Golden Girl once treated to me to a Marathi recipe of ghia/doodhi cooked with ground moongphali and lots of cilantro (will post the recipe sometime)-which got me to make this chutney-sort of an instant version :)).

  • Ghiya kaddu peels/scrapes-1 cup
  • Roasted peanuts-a fistful
  • One green chilli
  • Chopped Cilantro/Coriander
  • Salt to taste
  • A spoonful lime/lemon juice
Grind these together for a really delish, subtle chutney/sandwich spread. It goes great with Middle-eastern style food too :).

Richa tells you here about another delicious recipe from Ghiya, the ghia ke kofte :)

More Squash-a-thon :Methi-Zucchini sabzi :)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Having fun with turnips :)

Thats right-i have always had fun with turnips :). Though my concept what makes "fun" in this case has changed over the years. As a child, i would have it raw, but never cooked! but mostly the fun part came from playing catch n' throw with turnips :)), and later, by helping out with drying the turnip slices for making dried vegetable garlands (meant for storage: read Anita's post for more fun info). And the most fun part was saying the Punjabi name for this vegetable "Gonglu" :). Its also known as Shalgham (Punjabi and Hindi), but Gonglu sounds fun, doesn't it! Say it again, yeah-GONGLU :).

Over the years, i learnt to appreciate different vegetables (and life's come a full circle-its my friends children now, who make face while eating different vegetables).

Turnips haven't been given their due in popular cuisine (i mean restaurant cuisine)-just imagine how popular turnips would have been if there were some dishes like makhni shalgham or shalgham butter masala :)). But home style Indian cuisine(s) do value turnips-sample Kashmiri cuisine (pings Anita) and Punjabi food e.g. Today, i'll share two traditional Punjabi recipes using turnips. They are both very simple to make, sans any frills.

Bur before we start, we must ensure that we use only fresh turnips. As they age, turnips accumulate very hard fiber. If you are having difficulty chopping them, then you would rather use them for making baked crunchies (Jugalbandi). I often face disappointments while searching for the freshest turnips!

Recipe 1: Gonglu-Aloo di sabzi (Turnips and potatoes)
We need:

  • Two-three fresh turnips
  • One-two potatoes
  • 1/4 red onion-chopped
  • 1 tomato-chopped (optional)
  • Jeera
  • Salt, turmeric and red chillies
  • Oil (1 tbsp.)
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Lime/lemon juice
  • A tsp. ghee
Heat oil in a pot-splutter jeera, saute' onions and add tomatoes and cook. Now add turmeric and red chillies. Add chopped shalgham and potatoes. Mix and add suffiecient water to cover. Bring to boil on high heat. Now cover the pot and cook on low heat till the turnips are tender. Add a pinch of sugar, lime/lemon juice and we are good to go! NO GARAM MASALA!

Serve with hot chapatis and pickle, after topping the sabzi with just a lil' bit of ghee (the 1 tsp. is for the whole pateela/pot) :). It also goes rather well with rice or pulaav/ I had this with pulaav (jeera, spring onions, peas and carrots) and home-made green chillies pickle. Tomatoes are optional, infact traditionally not included, but like the color, so i add them.

Recipe 2: Ghotvein ('n' nasal) gonglu: Mashed and gravied turnips

Almost the same ingredients, but no tomatoes and potatoes at all. Omit onions too, if you want-it would still taste divine. Just slow cook them and keep mashing as you stir inbetween cooking. Instead of one pinch of sugar, add more sugar, chopped red/green chillies (i had the ones that turned red), lemon juice and serve after drizzling with ghee.


The first recipe is to entice and convert turnip non-eaters (potatoes invite even the fussiest of kids-am talking based on how i became a shalgham fan) and the second one is YUM anyway!

PS: Almost all my cooking uses one tbsp (sometimes even 1tsp.) oil without compromising the taste-so a ghee drizzle (1/4 tsp. or less; only for aroma) isn't too bad.

I'll be back with: Ghiya kaddu vali chholyaan di daal (Ghia-chane ki daal).

Friday, March 23, 2007

Cheese parantha with quick sabzi :)

Paranthas have always been my favorite bread :). Mom used to make the best paranthas and my recipes would try to bring you the same flavor. Parantha is a pan/griddle fried bread, traditionally only meant for breakfast/brunch-but we all know its tempting enough to break these rules ;).

Today i'll make a creative parantha :). Its fun you know, when you end up trying something just like that and it turns out good. Well, thats what this parantha is-total fun! A delish twist to the regular parantha :). So, ready: lets go.

We need:

Whole wheat flour, water, a pinch of salt, ajwain and grated cheese of your favorite variety (i used five cheese Italian blend).

Sift the flour, add salt, ajwain, knead into a smooth dough with water. The essence of any good Indian bread is a good dough, so knead, knead, knead :). The dough should be flexible. Set aside for a few minutes. Heat the tava/griddle and roll a nice chapati as shown in the picture. Heap some grated cheese and fold into a square (or a triangle if you like). Dust with some flour and roll this square. Fry it with lil' oil/ghee on the tava-the cheese melts and makes this ordinary bread into something extraordinary :).

A good parantha should be crispy outside and soft inside.

The regular Punju parantha is prepared in very much the same manner, with or without ajwain and instead of cheese, you just brush the inner lining with ghee. Sometimes, for a change, try kneading the dough with milk (makes soft paranthas) or sour dahi/buttermilk (that would be a home made cousin of kulcha for you).

Oh! but what do we have this paranthas with! Traditionally some achaar/pickle and dahi/yogurt are served with paranthas-and sometimes sabzis too.

So, lets look for a quick sabzi recipe. Now, this one is simple: Splutter jeera in hot oil and then fry chopped onions and tomatoes (the tadka)-as you do this, microwave (WHAT!)-yes, microwave one-two potatoes (4 mins/potato) :)). Cool these, peel and make into cubes. Now, add some turmeric to the tadka, cook and add water to make some gravy-to this add peas/matar, diced carrots and cubed potatoes. Add salt and cook on simmer after covering the pan. It takes just 10 minutes-stir in-between, add chopped cilantro/dhaniya and just a pinch of garam masala.

Hai na mazedar-hope you enjoyed it.

Chai/Coffee and some snacks :)

You know how its in our culture-we welcome our guests with some chai/coffee and snacks :). So, this post is to share some chit-chat over chai.

So, Ji Aayain Noon (Respect to the visitors-literal, a popular Punjabi greeting).

I have prepared two of my favorite evening tea/brunch time eats: Vesan da pooda (besan ka cheela) and Rave idlis.
Poodas/Cheela are savory pancakes made out of besan/gram flour and are popular across different Indian cuisines. Sometimes this dish is also referred to as tomato omelette/vegetarian omlette :). Punjabi poodas use Anardana and dhaniya seeds-two ingredients that go hand in hand with other savory besan treats like pakodas.

Ingredient we need:

  • Besan
  • Jeera n' dhaniya seeds/ Cumin and coriander seeds
  • Anardana/dried pomegranate seeds
  • Finely chopped onions and tomatoes
  • Chopped cilantro/coriander
  • Chopped green chillies (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of garam masala (optional)
  • Water to make the batter and a spoonful of sour yogurt for some tangy taste.
Sift besan to fluff the flour a bit and add the dried seeds, salt and garam masala. Mix again and add yogurt and enough water to make a utappam like batter, avoiding lumps (slightly thick, no too much-should flow easily still). Add the chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro and chillies, mix and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Now, lets heat the tava/griddle (medium heat), sprinkle some oil and spread it-then add a ladle full of batter and spread it. Once the top side looks a bit cooked and set, drizzle a lil' oil and turn the pooda. Let this side cook too and we are ready to go. Indira has a fun post on besan dosa too :). You would also enjoy Trupti's bisquick poodas.

To serve: How about some kicked up ketchup (Jai n' Bee), or Dhaniya-pudina/Cilantro-mint (Punjabi:Dhaniya-poodna) chutney. For chutney:grind together the dhaniya and pudina leaves with a green chilli, salt , a pinch of sugar and some lemon/lime juice. Some people also add onions. This should all be good for tea-time. But what if you are hungry and made this for brunch time! Remember, this is a take on omlette :))-so we'll have it as a sandwich. Toast two whole-wheat/low-carb/flax bread slices (take your pick) crisp-layer one slice with half-pooda, chutney and a slice of tomato) and make a sandwich.

Tasty variations on Pooda:
  • How about mixing some rave-idli flour (roasted rave with the condiments; see below) with besan to make poodas :). IT WORKS, and how! to give the most amazingly fluffy poodas.
  • What if we made bite-size poodas :). In Punjab, we make these often-to be used in making chilladiyaan da raita (Chilladi-lil' cheela/pooda). Its amazing.
Rave idli: A cpl. of days back, i had a catch in the neck and was looking for some quick eat-happened to be reading Anita's Mad Tea Party and on the side bar spotted the words "Instant Gratification" :). Yes, thats what it is-Rave idli. A popular and quick eat. I had gotten my idea for dinner-it had been almost a cpl. of months since i had this fluffy goodness! She details a nice recipe here-so why am i writing about this-because i did something interesting by chance.

Having no home made sour yogurt (a result of my recent laziness), i reached for the store bought butter milk (home made lassi/majji would do as well) and made a batter with that instead. Just added some fried cashews, cilantro and green chillies to the batter. and this gave me the most amazing rave-idlis ever. Try this variation. Kinda' tangier and fluffier :). And it works well even without baking soda! That was the best part-because i made two batches one with and the other one without soda: and no difference! Ofcourse, the batter without soda rested a bit longer (20 minutes). And if you are in a mood for decorating the idlis a bit, then place a few peas/matar and grated carrots in the idli stand, before you add the batter (didn't do it this time). This is how rave-idlis were served in Bangalore, including my graduate school (Indian Institute of Science) mess and cafeterias, with a variety of yummy kurmas as a full meal(in an upcoming post).

For thindi/snack, lets make another quick chutney: In hot oil, splutter mustad seeds and urad daal (a pinch each), and saute chopped onions (1/2 onion), grated ginger (1 tsp.) and one chopped tomato. Saute for 5 minutes and cool. Now grind this with a fistful of grated fresh/frozen coconut, a green chilli, salt and some lime juice. Chatpati chutney :).

Chai n' Coffee: As we prepare these snacks-lemme share my bit on chai n' coffee. I am a convert :). You won't believe, but i never had much tea/coffee till my second year M.Sc., the barrier was crossed in the beginning of my graduate school-and now i love chai n' coffee :).

My chai usually has: Chhoti Elaichi (Green Cardamom), Dalchini (Cinnamon), Badiyun Khatai/Dagad-Phool (Star Anise) and ginger (i freeze the ginger root-so when you grate it, you get a fine powder). This is a great combination, or so say my friends. For coffee: i am so in love with what Golden Girl's Aayi makes: light coffee with ginger-and the lil' tip to freeze the ginger root is her idea :).

So, hope you had a fun time reading and enjoyed this chai time get together.

Whats next:
  • Cheese paratha with quick sabzi
  • Having fun with turnips :).

Welcome :)

Hello, and welcome to my blog :).

Yeah!! i finally did it.....with all the inspiration from all the wonderful food blogs i've been visiting in the recent past (Thanks to you all, dear food bloggers).....each one of them with their distinctive styles and yummy recipes :). Ah! that was long could i hold myself from chirping something on what makes my ever favorite topic :).

Some of you found the blog out (Right, Asha), as i was working on it ;) and some of you knew that this would happen (MD, Trupti) :))

So here i am, bringing to you my thoughts and ideas on food, cooking and other fun that goes with it :). As i invite you all over for a fun-filled get together, i hope to present a flavor of traditional and creative cooking.....with an emphasis on some regional Indian cuisines.....and fun stories to spice it all up :). This, in keeping up with the tradition of Indian food blogosphere to bring forth authentic regional Indian cuisines. So while you'll enjoy some creative and present day takes on certain recipes, you'll also be presented with some traditional food art :). In short, stories from my kitchen, as they happen :).

Hope you'll all enjoy this party.....

Looking forward to your suggestions and more fun with food :).