Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mango Kulfi | Indian style Ice Cream

A FIVE ingredient recipe to make Mango Kulfi; an Indian style Mango Ice-cream from reduced milk and flavored with saffron! 


The days are getting warmer and longer. I am totally LOVING this!! There is sunlight well past 6-7 pm and it seems so bright and lively. The best thing I like about the longer days is that I can click pictures for the blog all day. And it keeps me in a lively mood too. 

Whenever I think back of Summers in India, the thing that I miss the most is MANGOES. The king of fruits makes an appearance for the summer months and it is enjoyed for every meal! Alphonso, an Indian specialty is my favorite. It has a great taste and texture, which is unmatched by any other mango breed! 


Mangoes are used in everything like aam shrikhand, milkshake, mastani, ice cream and kulfi. Or it is enjoyed cut into cubes or as aamras. Those three months are meant only for mangoes, and all other fruits take a back seat in the house. 

Here in the US we get different kinds of mangoes but none of them taste like the Alphonsos. However, I like to get them and make all the delicacies; not to miss out on the wonderful fruit. 


This year too, I started getting the mangoes and we are already enjoying bowls full of aamras! I was craving for Indian style Mango Kulfi, an ice cream made from thickened milk and mango puree.  

So I braved the task of standing in front of the stove to thicken milk for almost an hour! It was a tough task, waiting for the milk to thicken for so long, and then for the kulfi to set. I tasted and tested the mixture so many times; I was not sure if I will actually have enough mixture at the end! Luckily I did have enough and the kulfi came out amazing. 


Variations

I used fresh mango pureed with no water at all. However, canned puree works really well too. If using puree with sugar added, adjust the amount of condensed milk used. 

Plus, adding evaporated milk is optional. It is nothing but a can of thickened milk. If opting not to use that, use about 4-5 cups of milk a nd reduce to half. That way you will have a decent amount of milk left at the end of the boiling process. 

While adding sugar instead of condensed milk also works, I prefer to use condensed milk. Substitute for 1 cup sugar if you like. And lastly, the kulfi can be set into popsicle molds instead of a container. That way you will have individual pops to enjoy!


Ingredients

Mango Puree 1 cup (fresh or frozen)
Whole Milk 3 1/2 cups
Evaporated Milk 1 can 5 oz
Sweetened Condensed Milk 1 cup
Saffron a pinch


Method

In a pan heat the milk on medium flame. Keep stirring intermittently till the milk reduces to half the quantity. 

Once the milk has thickened and reduced to half, remove one tbsp of the milk and add saffron to it. Mix well till the milk becomes bright yellow. Pour the yellow milk back to the pan and mix well.

Now add evaporated milk to the pan and mix well. Turn off the flame and finally add in condensed milk and mango puree. Mix well and transfer to an aluminium pan. 

Cool to room temperature and place the pan in the freezer, covered with cling wrap. Chill for 5-6 hours and remove it from the freezer. 

Cut to cubes and serve with some mango bits. 





Monday, March 27, 2017

Cheesy Polenta with Sautéed Asparagus

Blogging Marathon #74 Week 4 Day 2
Theme: Are you Pudding me?
Dish: Cheesy Polenta with Sautéed Asparagus

An amazing combination of freshly made polenta with cheddar cheese; served with a side of sautéed Asparagus and Spring Greens!


Polenta, a different form of cornmeal is very popular in Northern and Central Italy. This is a boiled version of corn that can be enjoyed as a porridge or it can be allowed to cool and then be baked, sauteed or fried in the form of discs, sticks or cubes.

By definition, polenta falls into the category of pudding. It is one of the most popular savoury puddings, alongside Yorkshire Pudding and Cheese Pudding. A really simple recipe with minimum ingredients, this one is perfect for breakfast or as a meal.

The corn meal used for this one is yellow in color and the result is a bright bowl that is really pretty. The polenta is generally bland and adding cheese and flavorful ingredients to it is a great idea. Also, serving it with a side of vegetables, eggs or meat makes it a complete meal. 


I first saw this dish on Foodgawker and I decided to make it. I bought myself a packet of polenta and it was in my pantry for a while. When Valli put up the theme for the BM as puddings, I read on Wikipedia that Polenta is a savory pudding. And because I already had two sweet puddings in mind, this was perfect for the third day. 

I quickly referred a couple of recipes and liked this the most. The recipe called for sautéed mushrooms. However, I had a lot of asparagus at home and decided to use that. The result was perfect and the polenta came out pretty well. 

Simply put, the recipe for polenta includes boiling the cornmeal with 3-4 times the water content, adding some flavoring and enjoying it with a side. That is what most recipes point to. And after trying it, I agree as well. Just be cautious, the gelatinous pudding will set really quickly. By the time I finished taking pictures, my polenta had almost set in the form of the bowl! So I thinned it out using some water and enjoyed it warm soon after. 


Variations

I used the medium coarse variety of polenta. If you would prefer a very creamy one, get the superfine variety. Besides, there are some stores that carry white corn polenta. Take that if you like white corn more than the yellow. 

As the polenta does not have much of a flavor in itself, use any sharp cheese to add some flavor. I used cheddar, but you can use another cheese of your choice too. Adding cheddar enhanced the yellow color of the pudding and made a perfectly bright bowl! 

For the sides, you can use a combination of vegetables or even salad leaves. Not only do they add some color to the dish, they are perfect compliments to the otherwise bland polenta. 


Ingredients

For the Polenta

Polenta 3/4 cup
Water 3 cups
Mild Cheddar Cheese 1/4 cup
Olive Oil 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp

For the Asparagus

Asparagus 8-10 stalks trimmed and cut into 2 inches
Garlic 2-3 pods, minced
Onion 1/2 medium, minced
Olive Oil 1 tbsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Pepper Powder 1/4 tsp
Oregano 1/2 tsp

Spring Greens 1/4 cup


Method

For the Polenta

In a deep pan boil 3 cups water with the salt. Once it starts boiling, add polenta in a continuous stream while whisking vigorously to avoid it from sticking to the base. 

Lower the flame to medium and cover the polenta. Cook for 30-35 minutes, whisking vigorously every 10-12 minutes to ensure they polenta does not stick to the sides or bottom. 

In 30 minutes the polenta should cook completely, and become creamy. Once it is done, add in olive oil and cheese; and mix once again to a homogenous mixture. 

Turn down the flame and set aside. 


For the Asparagus

While the polenta cooks, heat oil in a pan and add garlic. Once garlic becomes flavorful, add onion and sauté till it is translucent. 

Then add the asparagus, sauté till a little tender and add salt, pepper and oregano. Mix well and set aside. 

To serve, add the polenta in a bowl and top with some cheddar cheese. Finally place the sautéed asparagus and spring greens on the polenta and enjoy warm. I also served some freshly made ciabatta bread and balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the side. 



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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Tropical Chia Pudding

Blogging Marathon #74 Week 4 Day 3
Theme: Are you Pudding me?
Dish: Tropical Chia Pudding

A delicious Chia and fruit based breakfast pudding that takes only a few minutes to make; is super delicious and Vegan too! 


Weekend is here and I am posting a special recipe that is perfect for weekend brunch. This week I am posting Puddings in the Blogging Marathon. Yesterday it was an Indian style Kesar Kheer that is perfect as a dessert.

Today it is time for another pudding. I was planning to make Chia Pudding since a long time. It was perfect for the theme and so I made it for Saturday breakfast. I told my husband that breakfast is going to be a pudding; and he was pretty amused! Not very common to have pudding for breakfast, right?

This one is made for breakfast! It has all the things that are good for you and free from ingredients you should not have early morning. Chia seeds are the seeds of Salvia Hispanica a plant related to mint. Native to South America, these seeds were important to Aztecs and Mayans back in the day. Infact, Chia means 'strength' in Mayan. 


These seeds have gained importance and status of superfood in recent times. All the stores are stocked with these tiny black seeds and suddenly everyone has included it in their pantry essentials list! I too joined the bandwagon, with chia seeds now being a part of my monthly grocery shopping. Put it in oats, have it as a pudding or replace it for sabja (Basil seeds) in Indian delicacies. 

Yesterday I made this Chia pudding with tropical fruits. I had a batch of roasted strawberries in my refrigerator. So I used them with kiwi and mangoes. Not only were  the colors perfect for the black and white pudding, the sweetness of mango and roasted strawberries was amazing with the slightly tart kiwi fruit. 

Now that I liked this version of the pudding, I think I am going to make it more often. It is perfect for weekday breakfast, just set the pudding the previous day and serve it with fresh fruits the next day. The time required to serve it in the morning is a fraction of the time required to make any other breakfast. 



Variations

I made the pudding with coconut milk. If you have a can of thick milk, dilute it using water else the pudding will be super thick and the chia seeds will not absorb the liquid completely. If you do not fancy coconut milk, replace the milk with any nut milk like almond or cashew. Else, just add regular milk if you are not looking for a vegan version.

Plus, I used the fruits that I like and had in my refrigerator. They can be substituted with fruits of your choice. All berries taste really good with the pudding. And lastly, I made a black and white basic version of the pudding. However, you can add any fruit puree to make the pudding of a different flavor. Or just mix in nutella and you get an amazing chocolate flavored pudding. 


Ingredients

Chia Seeds 3 tbsp
Thin Coconut Milk 2 cups
Honey 1 tbsp
Fruits to top (Kiwi and Mangoes)
Roasted Strawberries 2 tbsp
Mint leaves a few


Method


In a bowl mix together coconut milk and chia seeds. Let it stand for an hour. Then refrigerate overnight or atleast 4-5 hours; till the milk is absorbed and the pudding thickens. 

Remove from refrigerator and add in honey. Mix well and set aside. 

Chop mangoes and kiwis to small pieces. Add some chopped fruits and some roasted strawberries in glasses or mason jars. 

Top with chia pudding. Add some more fruits, some strawberries and mint leaves. Enjoy!





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Friday, March 24, 2017

Kesar Kheer | Saffron Rice Pudding

Blogging Marathon #74 Week 4 Day 1
Theme: Are you Pudding me?
Dish: Kesar Kheer | Saffron Rice Pudding 

An amazing blend of milk, rice and sugar. This delicious kheer (rice pudding) is flavored with saffron and full of nuts! 


It is Friday and I am craving something sweet! While I type out this kheer recipe, I want another bowl of this warm milk based pudding today. It is almost the end of March yet we have a rainstorm today! It is cold, windy, dark and boring. I had a couple of recipes to shoot today and now they are pushed to tomorrow. 

Ok enough about the weather and other things, wonder why I am adding an Indian sweet dish when there is no festival in sight? Well this week I am blogging puddings for the Blogging Marathon and what better than our very own kheer? 

This rice pudding has different meanings for different families. Some make it to celebrate any festival, some for puja and some for a quick dessert. Last week I wanted something yummy and I made this delicious rice pudding. 


Generally kheer is white in color with just sugar, rice and milk. I made a more royal version with saffron, rose petals and edible silver varakh. Most people enjoy it with puri or roti. We did likewise, some warm kheer with roti for lunch and the rest was refrigerated for dessert post dinner. 

From start to finish the recipe takes about an hour to make. The most time is taken by the milk to thicken. Once the milk thickens, it is just adding ingredients you like to finish off the kheer. 

This recipe is from my grandma's collection. She used to make the most delicious kheer for Sunday lunch. Her secret ingredient was nutmeg. It is believed to induce sleep and I remember finishing bowl fulls of this kheer with puri and then sleeping for hours blaming the nutmeg! It was not really the pinch of nutmeg that would put us to sleep but the heavy lunch that induced all the sleep! 


Now I make kheer the same way as she taught me not long ago. The taste is great and flavors amazing. However, nothing can replicate the taste that she made! I am sure that I can make it for years and still not be able to make it the same way! So we enjoy this form of kheer whenever we crave it.

Variations

I generally make it with 2% fat milk and it is not as thick. This time I made it with a mixture of 2% and whole milk. The result was a thick kheer that was super delicious. Also, I used basmati rice that I made from scratch for the recipe. The same recipe can be made using leftover rice. The only difference is that the rice should be added once the milk thickens. 

In this kheer I added sugar. Some people also add jaggery or condensed milk. The taste does change a little but it has a different flavor of it's own. Plus, you can added any dry fruits of your choice and cardamon and rose petals. If you do not have any of the ingredients or you do not like it, leave them out. 

To shorten the time required to make kheer, add a can of evaporated milk to the milk. That will make the milk thick really soon and you do not need to boil the milk for a long time. 


Ingredients

Basmati/ long grain rice 1/2 cup
Milk 3 cups ( I used whole milk and 2%, 1.5 cups each)
Sugar 1/2-3/4 cup
Cardamom 2-3 pods, crushed
Saffron strands/ Kesar 1/4 tsp
Almonds, Pistachios 4-5 each
Nutmeg powder a pinch
Dried Rose Petals a few
Silver varakh if desired



Method 

Wash and place rice with 1 cup water in a thick bottom pan. Bring to a boil and simmer till the water is absorbed by the rice and the rice is cooked. 

Add the milk and heat on medium flame. Let the milk keep boiling till it reduces to half. 

Take a tablespoon of the hot milk and mix in kesar. Once the kesar mixes, add the yellow tinted milk back to the pan. 

When the milk reduces to half, add sugar, crushed cardamom, nutmeg powder and mix well. Adjust the sugar as per your preference. 

Turn down the heat, add some almonds and pistachios. Mix well and enjoy warm or cold. Add dried rose petals, remaining almonds and pistachios and silver varakh just before serving. 



Pin for Later



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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Three step Slow Cooker Sarson da Saag

A three step recipe to make a traditional Indian curry in a Slow Cooker. A perfect blend of greens, flavors and taste, this Sarson da Saag recipe is a keeper!



Last year I got my slow cooker. Initially I was not confident about using it. Over the last couple of months I made a TON of food in it and now I am loving this completely!

I first made Dal Tadka in this cooker and it turned out amazing. Then I tried out Sarson da Saag, an Indian curry made from Mustard Greens, Radish and Spinach leaves. The result was perfectly creamy curry that takes just three steps to make. 


One of the most famous curries from Northern India, this Saag is best made in a claypot and cooked on slow flame for a long time. The slow cooker helps to make the curry on a very low temperature for several hours, without having to bother about stirring it or taking care it does not burn or stick to the base. 

I made this curry over the last weekend and finally shot it too. Though I expected the color to fade completely, I was glad it was not totally faded. The vegetables cooked in about 4 hours and then I cooked them for another hour. 

Served with freshly made Makai Roti and a simple salad of onions and tomato, we had a PERFECT dinner! I topped it with a teaspoon of Amul butter and it added SO much flavor to the saag. 


This dish is only made in winters in India, because that is the only time we get mustard greens there. It is so amazing to see the greens in the Farmer's Market right in the middle of March. The freshness of the leaves from the market adds to the great flavor and color of the dish. The best part is that I got the greens and other ingredients in the morning, washed and cooked them for the next few hours and had an amazing dinner on Sunday!

Last week I got the mustard leaves and made this one. Now I am hoping I can lay my hands on some more this weekend and make a Paneer Saag or Chole Saag recipe. Every weekend I see fewer vendors selling these greens now. And of course, I cannot wait to go back to India this winter and enjoy the authentic Saag, without having to make it :p


Variations

I used the ingredients as mentioned below. A lot of people add bathua to the saag too. If you can get it, add it. I did not find it in the market and left it out. Plus, if you cannot get radish leaves, you can skip them too. The other ingredients should be pretty easy to get.  

Plus, I added just ghee in the crockpot and later. If you like butter better, add that. And if you are making a vegan version, substitute with any vegetable oil. And last of all, the flavor deepens when the Saag is left for a few hours after cooking. That is the reason that Saag tastes much better the next day! 


Ingredients

Mustard leaves/ Sarson 1 bunch
Spinach leaves/ Palak 1/2 bunch
Radish leaves/ Mooli ke patte 1/2 bunch
White radish 2-3 inches piece
Onions 3 medium diced
Tomatoes 2 medium diced
Ginger 1 inch piece diced
Green chilli 2-3 diced
Garlic 5-6 pods diced
Jeera 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
Asafoetida a pinch
Maize flour/makai aata as required
Ghee 4 tbsp


Salt 1 1/2 tsp



Method


Wash and chop all the greens and set aside. In the slow cooker add all the leaves, radish, two onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and chilli. 

Mix well and add red chilli powder, asafoetida, salt and one tbsp ghee. Also add 3 cups water and mix well. Slow cook on high for four hours. The greens will cook well and the other ingredients should be soft too. 

Cool and blend to a smooth paste adding in the maize flour. Transfer to the slow cooker and cook on high for an hour. 

When ready to serve, heat the remaining ghee in a pan and jeera seeds. Once the seeds pop, saute the remaining one diced onion. Add it in the saag and mix well. 

Serve with chopped onions, chopped green chilli, a dollop of butter and freshly prepared Makai Roti.




Monday, March 20, 2017

Japchae | Korean Stir-Fry Noodles

Blogging Marathon #74 Week 3 Day 3
Theme: Quick and Delicious Stir-Fries 
Dish: Japchae | Korean Stir-Fry Noodles

A flavorful stir-fry made from sweet potato noodles, vegetables and tofu. This Korean recipe is a keeper!



Asian cuisine has a ton of noodle recipes. The noodles in the recipes vary from super thin to round and from flat thin noodles to the super thick ones. Plus, every noodle is made from a different ingredient. From oats, brown rice and quinoa to chickpeas, sweet potato and rice. 

I have tried most of these noodles and they all have a special flavor that is perfect for a different dish. Some noodles are specific to a cuisine; like rice noodles for Pad Thai, Flat noodles for Malaysian, Thick ones for Udon recipes and Ramen for Soups. 



My pantry is filled with all the different types of noodles, given our love for Asian cuisine. We make it all at home and LOVE it too much. Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese cooking was always a star in the house, now Korean has been added too. Recently we got two clay pots to make Ramen noodle soup. We had it a couple of times, though I still have not shot them. 

For those who are aware, Korean places generally serve their Ramen Soup with an array of sides. A local joint here has the following: brown/pink rice, sweet potato fry, seaweed salad, a glass noodle stir fry and kimchi. So the day I made the Ramen Soup, I HAD to make this Glass Noodle dish called Japchae. It was made as a side and we loved it so much, that I made it as a main dish this weekend. So I shot it too, and included it this week for the theme Quick and Delicious Stir-Fries. 



What is Japchae?

Sweet Potato Noodles are really popular in Korean Cuisine. A simple Stir-Fry made from these noodles and vegetables and protein is called Japchae. The dish is super flavorful and generally has peppers, carrots, mushrooms and onions. As a protein, the vegetarian versions generally have tofu. The most attractive part of the noodles is that they turn translucent on cooking. The result is a beautiful noodle dish, slightly tinted with the Soy Sauce. Sometimes also referred to as Cellophane Noodles, in my opinion a stir-fry with them is essentially a Salad :p Given that the noodles are just sweet potato starch and the add-ins being vegetable, protein and sauces. 





To make Japchae

The noodles packet is pretty big and the noodles generally come all tangled. I read a TON of recipes on different websites to make them. Some recipes said that the noodles need to be soaked in cold water to separate the noodles. A few other recipes said you can boil them directly and cut them using kitchen scissors once the noodles cook. 

I found that method easier, so followed that. The result was perfectly separate noodles that cooked really well. I added vegetables and tofu in the noodles. I had a lot of bean sprouts and they tasted perfect in the dish. Though I added them and the vegetables as mentioned below, you can substitute with vegetables of your choice. 

I made an eggless version of Japchae, but adding fried eggs cut into strips is common. You can add a protein of your choice; from chicken to tofu! Just add whatever you have in your refrigerator and whip up a yummy dish. 




Ingredients

Japchae / Korean Sweet Potato Noodles 10 oz
Firm Tofu 7 oz
Garlic 2 pods, minced
Spring Onion 1 bunch, shredded
Red and Green Pepper 1 each, sliced
Carrot 1 medium, julienned
Bok Choy 1 bunch, separated
Broccoli a few florets
Bean Sprouts 1/2 cup
Soy Sauce 1 1/2 tsp
Vinegar 1/2 tsp 
Sesame Seeds 1 tsp
Oil/ Chilli Oil 1 tsp
Salt and Pepper to taste



Method

In  large pan heat 6-7 cups of water. Once it boils, add the noodles. Cook for 5-6 minutes till soft. Using clean kitchen scissors, cut the noodles to smaller pieces.

In about 8 minutes, the noodles will be cooked. Remove and drain completely. Add some soy sauce and toss to ensure the noodles do not stick. 

Heat the oil or chilli oil in a wok. Add garlic and saute till brown. Then add spring onion whites, peppers and saute for a minute. Add broccoli and carrots and cook for a few minutes, till tender. Finally add bok choy and cook till it is wilted. 



Season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Also add Soy Sauce and Vinegar. Add the cooked noodles and toss well. Cook for a minute and turn down the flame. 

Add bean sprouts and spring onion greens. Mix well. Sprinkle sesame seeds and serve immediately. 






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