Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thandai | Spiced Milk Drink

A delicious milk based drink enjoyed during Holi; Thandai is a chilled drink full of flavor from nuts, seeds and Indian spices!



February has come to an end and March is almost here. I look forward to March for two reasons; the lovely colors of spring and Holi. While it still feels like deep into Winter right now, I am glad Holi is around the corner!

The festival of Colors, Holi is celebrated across India in different ways. Some with colors, some perform pujas; but everybody enjoys Thandai. This spiced milk preparation is famous across the country. 



Made from a special masala called Thandai masala, this milk is served chilled; sometimes even spiked with a substance called bhaang. The masala is a mixture of seeds, spices and nuts; mainly almonds, pistachios, melon seeds, fennel seeds and poppy seeds. Sometimes served topped with saffron or rose petals, this one is super yummy!



While Thandai is more famous in Holi, it is also enjoyed in Mahashivratri. I still remember visiting the temple on Shivratri and being served sabudana khichdi and thandai as prasad. That is probably the most delicious form I have EVER had! While the masalas are more or less similar everywhere, the taste varies largely. 

You can get yourself a bottle of Thandai masala from the store and make the drink. However, it only takes a few ingredients to make and comes together in minutes. And the best part, you can refrigerate it for a few days. So whip up a big batch and store it for later. Grab the recipe here.



Here in the US we have a Holi celebration at the temple. And every time we are back from there, we crave for a glass of Thandai. So a few days before the day, I make a large amount of Thandai Masala and refrigerate it. I just made this year's batch yesterday and managed a few good clicks. 

On my last trip to India, I happened to see beautiful glasses made from steel and coated with beautiful meena work (a form of art famous in some parts of the country). They were too good to be left behind, so they came with me. I have been hoping to make something nice to serve in them and what better than Thandai. Finally they are out of the closet and I can't help but stare at them for a long long time!



Substitutions

I made the Thandai masala from scratch. However, you can get a ready-made version too. If you do not have dried rose petals, just leave them out. Though I would suggest adding all the ingredients in the masala, leave out the ones you cannot find or do not like.



Ingredients

Milk 2 cups
Sugar 2 tbsp
Saffron a few strands
Dried Rose Petals a few



Method

In a pan add milk and sugar. Bring it to a boil and add Thandai powder. Mix well and boil for 5-6 minutes. Turn down the heat.

Cool the Thandai to room temperature. Sieve through a metal sieve or cheesecloth. Refrigerate for a few hours. 

Once it is chilled, divide into two glasses. Top with some thandai powder, saffron strands and dried rose petals. Serve. 






Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pina Colada Smoothie Bowl

Blogging Marathon #73 Week 4 Day 3
Theme: Ingredients through Mail
Dish: Pina Colada Smoothie Bowl

A sunshine smoothie bowl inspired by the famous Pina Colada, this is Vegan and needs just a couple of ingredients. What do you like to top your bowl with? 


Smoothie bowl, the trend that has been all over the food world for a while! The idea of eating your smoothie has taken centre stage for a while and now everybody is innovating new combinations and flavors. 

For the longest time I have not been a fan of smoothies. Back in India there were a few places that stirred up some of them, but they never caught my fancy. I mover to the US and tried some here. Not that they were not good, but I never developed a liking for them. Then came these bowls, colorful smoothies in fancy bowls; topped with fruits, seeds and nuts! 

These bowls are so pretty, it is hard to say no to them. Having tried a few at breakfast places, I finally decided to take a plunge and explore this colorful world of smoothie bowls. 


Plus, I am doing a Blogging Marathon with a few fellow bloggers and my theme this week has been Ingredients by Mail. I was paired with Srividhya and she gave me three really interesting ingredients! With the foxtail millet upma and chocolate walnut brownies made from the first two ingredients, it was time to make something from the third ingredient, Coconut Milk!

I have been using Coconut milk in my recipes, especially Thai cooking. That was my instantaneous thought when I grabbed the can from her. But I did not want to make something that has 20 ingredients, one of them being Coconut Milk. 


To do full justice to the ingredient and to start my journey towards pretty looking Smoothie bowls, I made this Pina Colada Smoothie Bowl. First, this bowl cannot be made without Coconut Milk and it has only ONE other ingredient in it. Plus, Virgin Pina Colada happens to be my favorite drink and I knew I could not go wrong with it! So I made this sunshine colored bowl that was super easy to make and was really delicious too!

Substitutions

In this recipe I used canned pineapples and canned coconut milk. If you have either of them fresh, feel free to use them. Besides, I opted for a can of Pineapple tidbits in their own juice. So the smoothie was slightly sweet, just right for me. If you are using Pineapple in heavy syrup, you might want to reduce the amount used, to avoid over sweetening the smoothie. And lastly, I added the toppings I like best, you all feel free to indulge in your favorite fruits, nuts and seeds.   


Ingredients
Thick Coconut Milk 3/4 cup
Canned Pineapple bits 1/2 cup
Honey if required

Toppings
Pineapple bits 1/4 cup
Kiwi slices
Banana slices 
Maraschino Cherries 
Chia seeds 1 tbsp


Method

Drain the pineapple bits from the can and freeze them for 30 minutes. In a blender add frozen pineapple, thick coconut milk and honey if required. Blend till smooth and of perfect texture.

Remove in a bowl and top with Pineapple bits, Kiwi slices, Banana slices and Maraschino Cherries. Sprinkle Chia seeds and serve. 




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Chocolate Walnut Brownie

Blogging Marathon #73 Week 4 Day 2
Theme: Ingredients through Mail
Dish: Chocolate Walnut Brownie

Decadent brownies; a perfect combination of chocolate and walnuts. These brownies are so good, it is difficult to stop at one!


Brownies, I think the name itself is enough to get me thinking of a ton of delicious desserts! Compared to chocolate cakes, I prefer chocolate walnut brownies. Precisely the reason why I avoid making them; because I binge on them whenever I make them! 

For this week's Marathon I decided to make them and put them up on the blog. As my theme this week is Ingredients by Mail, and Srividhya gave me walnuts as my second ingredient, I made these decadent brownies. 

At first I thought I would make a Greek dip using peppers and walnuts. But whenever I looked at the walnuts on my kitchen counter, I kept thinking of brownies. So finally they are up!




Chocolate and walnuts in a batter, baked to perfection and served alongside some ice cream defines the best dessert. So I made this brownie from scratch, using a recipe that I used half a decade ago, and now have no idea about the source. However, the recipe worked out each time so I stuck to this recipe. 

I have seen a lot of brownie recipes that ask you to use a double boiler to mix chocolate with the fat and proceed. However, I think that is a slightly complex method and prefer a method that asks to mix all the ingredients in a bowl and bake. These recipes are super easy to follow and give perfect results. So this one is perfect, even for first time bakers!


Substitutions

In the recipe I have used a few basic pantry ingredients. However, if you would like to leave out or substitute; you can do that. Granulated sugar can be substituted by brown sugar. Oil can be replaced by butter and egg can be eliminated by adding a mixture of 1 tbsp ground flax seeds and 2 1/2 tbsp water. If you do not like walnuts, add any nuts you like or even chocolate chips. You can leave them out completely too!



Ingredients

All purpose Flour 1/2 cup
Granulated Sugar 1 cup
Walnuts 3/4 cup, chopped
Vegetable Oil 1/2 cup
Eggs 2
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder 1/3 cup
Baking Powder 1/4 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp


Method

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x9 tray with parchment paper or nonstick spray. Roughly chop the walnuts and set aside. 

In a bowl sieve flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix and set aside. 

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer beat oil and sugar. Once it mixes add vanilla extract and eggs. Whisk until combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones. Combine to a homogenous mixture. Fold in walnuts. 

Pour the batter to the prepared baking tray. Bake for 22-25 minutes, till a skewer comes out clean. 

Cool for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely. Cut to pieces and serve.




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Friday, February 24, 2017

Foxtail Millet Upma | Thinai Arisi Upma

Blogging Marathon #73 Week 4 Day 1
Theme: Ingredients through Mail
Dish: Foxtail Millet Upma | Thinai Arisi Upma

South Indian style upma made from Foxtail millet, vegetables and spices. This amazing one pot breakfast is perfect for busy mornings!



Foxtail millet, an annual grain from consumed in India is an interesting millet. This millet is high in carbohydrates, which serves as an excellent source of energy from carbs. It is a food rich in dietary fiber and minerals such as copper and iron. Pretty similar to quinoa, this grain is a more affordable one.

Little did I know all this till this theme for the Blogging Marathon came up, Ingredients by Mail. I was paired with Srividhya, who has a wonderful blog Vidhya's Vegetarian Kitchen. Instead of mailing the ingredients, we decided to meet up and exchange the ingredients. It was such a wonderful evening, gobbling down cakes and discussing blogging, food and other things. 



Along with all the fun, we exchanged our ingredients for this Marathon. Among the ones I got, this was the ingredient I never had before. Tiny seeds that looked really cute in a light yellow color. I realized the seeds are foxtail millet and I was excited to use them really soon! This millet is also known by these names: dwarf setaria, foxtail bristle-grass, giant setaria, green foxtail, Italian millet, German millet and Hungarian millet.



I looked up recipes using this millet and found A TON! From sweets to fermented idlis and from khichdis to humble stir fry. From all the recipes I saw, I thought I wanted to make a breakfast dish using this millet. I looked for a recipe and found this amazing upma by Jyothi Rajesh on her blog Curry Trail. I instantly knew I was going to make this!


So last weekend I decided to make this for breakfast. The sun was playing hide and seek behind the clouds and I managed a few shots of the yummy breakfast. I served it with a simple Cilantro Coconut Chutney and hot Masala Chai. It was a perfect breakfast on a stormy morning!  



Substitutions


For this recipe I used one cup of foxtail millet and realized on making that it was enough for 3-4 people! The millet absorbs water and becomes almost double. Plus, I added  a lot of vegetables to make the dish interesting. I added carrots, peas and french beans. However, you can also add potato, broccoli, corn and cauliflower. I made this in a mixture of ghee and oil. However, if you like one more than the other, use that. 



Adapted from here

Ingredients

Foxtail Millet 1 cup
Mixed Vegetables (Carrots, Green Peas, French Beans) 3/4 cup
Onion 1 medium, sliced
Tomato 1 medium, diced
Ginger 1 tsp, grated
Cashew Nuts 4-5
Chana Dal 1 tsp
Urad dal 1 tsp
Mustard Seeds 1/2 tsp
Green Chilli 2-3
Curry Leaves 4-5
Turmeric Powder 1 tsp
Ghee/ Oil 2 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Lemon Juice 1 tsp 
Cilantro to top



Method

Wash and soak the millet in enough water for 30 minutes. In a bowl add a cup of water and cut vegetables. Microwave for a couple of minutes till tender. 

Heat oil or ghee or both in a pan. Add mustard seeds and once they pop, add urad dal, chana dal, slit green chilli, cashewnuts and curry leaves. Once the dals become a little dark, add onion and ginger. Saute till soft. 
Then add the tomatoes and saute till soft. Next add the cooked vegetables. Also add some salt and the turmeric powder. Mix well and add 3 cups of water. Bring the water to boil. 


Drain the millet and add them to the boiling water. Cover and cook till the water is absorbed, the millets cooked. Uncover, adjust the salt and add lime juice. Top with cilantro and serve with Cilantro Coconut Chutney and hot Masala Chai



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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tuver na Thotha ane Dhokli

Blogging Marathon #73 Week 3 Day 3
Theme: Flavors of India
Dish: Tuver na Thotha ane Dhokli

One pot dish from Gujarat, this Tuver na Thotha ane Dhokli is perfect for roti and rice. A long lost recipe that is rustic and has a perfect blend of flavors!



Tuver or fresh pigeon peas, those green pearls that are signature to the winters. I simply LOVE them in everything from kachoris to undhiya and from curry to stir-fry.  

While these green beans were available in the local markets in India only during the winter months, they are available in frozen aisles of the Indian stores in US. That means they are available year round and I love to have them more often. 

Back in India, I used to enjoy this simple yet flavorful dish, made from tuver and dhokli(wheat dumplings). The dish is full everything yummy and perfect for steamed rice and rotis. 



I have had it several times but never made it the way I did it for the blog. From measuring each ingredient to noting the perfect time, it was a new journey to convert a household recipe into a blog post. The result was as good as the times I made it before. 

Finally I took pictures of the recipe. And why was that suddenly, you would wonder. It was because this month's Blogging Marathon  has a theme of Flavors of India. Under this theme, we are exploring signature household recipes that are passed on from one generation to the next, almost never found on restaurant menus. 



This recipe is just that. Apart from a few Gujarati households, I have never heard of this recipe being prepared. No restaurant I know of serves this one and never had I had this at a wedding or any other occasion. 

The ingredients are simple; dhokli made from scratch, fresh or frozen tuver and some other pantry essentials. It all comes together pretty quickly and needs just a pressure cooker to make. Serve them with freshly made rotis or with steamed rice. You know what, you can just enjoy a whole bowl with a spoon; no accompaniment needed!


Ingredients

For the Dhokli 

Wheat Flour 1 cup
Besan/Chickpea Flour 2 tbsp
Oil 1 tbsp
Ajwain seeds 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Water 1/4 cup



For the Sabzi

Tuver/ Fresh or Frozen Pigeon Peas 1 1/2 cup
Ginger Chilli and Garlic Paste 1 tbsp
Onion 1 medium, pureed
Tomatoes 2 medium, pureed
Mustard Seeds 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida a pinch
Cumin Seeds 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
Dhania Jeera Powder 1 1/2 tsp
Oil 1 tbsp
Salt and Sugar to taste
Lemon Juice
Cilantro to top




Method



First start with the dhokli dough. To do so, mix all the ingredients under dhokli and knead a stiff yet smooth dough. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, wash and drain the pigeon peas. Heat oil in the pressure cooker. Add mustard seeds and once they pop add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Once they pop, add ginger chilli garlic paste and saute till the raw flavor vanishes.

Next add the onion paste and mix well. Cook till it does not smell raw anymore and add the tomato puree. Let the puree cook for 5-6 minutes and then add the pigeon peas/tuver. Mix, add 1/2 tsp salt, sugar turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Let the mixture cook on medium flame with 1 cup water.

Using the dhokli dough, knead it one more time and divide into penny size bits. Flatten each ball and shape them evenly into discs.

Once the tuver starts to boil in the pressure cooker, drop all the dhoklis almost all at once. Add more water if required and dhania jeera powder. Mix and pressure cook for 3 whistles or 11-12 minutes. 

Once the pressure settles, open the cooker, mix everything once. Add chopped cilantro and squeeze lemon juice. Serve hot with rotli or steamed rice. 



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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Gathiya Waali Kadhi

Blogging Marathon #73 Week 3 Day 2
Theme: Flavors of India
Dish: Gathiya Waali Kadhi

A tempting and comforting bowl of Kadhi with added flour dumplings, this Gathiya Waali Kadhi is an easy to make yet yummy recipe from Gujarat, a state of India! 


Today is the second day of this week's Blogging Marathon and my theme is Flavors Of India. Through this series, I am trying to post Gujarati recipes that have been lost over the years.

Yesterday I posted some yummy Bajri Dhebras, a signature dish from my paternal grandmother and here is my maternal grandmother's most awesome kadhi. 


Everytime I visit her, she makes this kadhi for me. My mother has learnt it from here, but somehow it does not taste the same when she makes it! I simply LOVE the way my granny makes this humble dish.

Coming to the kadhi, this one is a blend of Gujarati and Punjabi kadhi. The base is sour and sweet just like any Gujarati kadhi, but has some add-ins like Punjabi Kadhi Pakodi. This dish was once a household dish but I haven't eaten it in any other household save my granny's. 


When I decided to do this theme, I was sure I would include this recipe in the series. The kadhi is pretty simple to make, it just needs some patience to get the right consistency of the gathiya dough. And it needs a LOT of patience to click pictures when the kadhi is ready and staring you in the eye!!

After making it many times, I finally sat down and clicked this recipe for the blog. What's best is that the day I made this one, the light was really great; amidst the crazy storm we are facing on the West Coast. It was a cold evening and the bowl of steaming kadhi and freshly steamed rice was an awesome comfort meal for us! 


Ingredients

For the Kadhi

Sour yogurt 1/4 cup
Chickpea Flour 2 tbsp
Water 2 cups
Ghee/ Oil 1 tsp
Dried Red Chilli 1-2
Curry leaves 2-3
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Green Chilli 1, slit
Cumin seeds 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida a pinch
Salt and Sugar to taste
Cilantro to top


For the Gathiya

Besan/Chickpea Flour 3/4 cup
Oil 1 tbsp
Ajwain seeds 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Water 1/4 cup


Method

First make the gathiya. To do so, mix all the ingredients under gathiya and knead a stiff yet smooth dough. Let it rest till the kadhi preparation is done. 

In a bowl whisk the yogurt with water. Once whisked, add the chickpea flour and whisk again. Transfer to a pan.

In a small pan heat oil or ghee or mix both. Add the mustard seeds and once they pop add cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and red and green chilli. Let them pop and add the tempering to the yogurt mixture. 

Mix well and bring to a boil. Add the salt and sugar to taste, and lime juice if the yogurt is not sour enough. 


Once the kadhi starts to boil, transfer the gathiya dough to a press. I used the one that we use for Chakli, and inserted a plate with smaller holes. Depending on how thick you want the gathiya, select the plate. 

Hold the press on top of the kadhi and drop the gathiyas into the boiling kadhi. Mix well and let the kadhi simmer. As the gathiya cooks, the kadhi will become thick. Add some more water if required. 

Once the gathiyas are cooked, turn down the heat. Top with cilantro and serve with steamed rice or Jeera Rice.




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