Saturday, July 26, 2008

Less is More: The Round-up!

A couple of years ago, Coffee started the Monthly Blog Patrol as a way for food bloggers to cook and learn from each other's recipes. This month, 64 bloggers from all over the world took up a challenge: choose a recipe that has five ingredients or less and show us how less is more!

Based on the entries that I have received, I have organized the round-up in a few different categories: you can grab a hot or cold beverage to begin with, and proceed to look at a delicious list of breads, condiments, small meals and entrees, vegetables and desserts, all made using only a handful of ingredients.

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A Mug of White Hot Chocolate- pattern adapted from The A Team

White chocolate. Cardamom. Milk. Cardamom-scented White Hot Chocolate.
~ Bharti of Veggie Foodist; inspired by Delhi Belle

Chocolate. Milk. Arrowroot. Sugar. Orange zest. The Nun's Revenge.
~ Pavani of Cook's Hideout; inspired by Food For Thought

Mango. Yogurt. Sugar. Cardamom. Mango Lassi.
~ Siri of Siri's Corner; inspired by Mahanandi

Mango. Yogurt. Milk. Sugar. Mango Drink.
~ Rachel of Tangerine's Kitchen; inspired by One Hot Stove

Hibiscus. Sugar. Hibiscus Cordial.
~ Jyotsna of Curry Bazaar; inspired by My Kitchen Treasures

Pomegranate. Ginger. Honey. Pomegranate Juice.
~ Shreya of Mom's Cooking; inspired by Samaikalam Vanga

Cucumber. Yogurt. Ginger. Mint. Chaat masala. Cucumber Cooler.
~ Bharti of Veggie Foodist; inspired by Chatkhor

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Sliced Bread- pattern adapted from Crochetville

Flour. Yeast. Basic Basic Basic Bread.
~ Arundathi of My Food Blog; inspired by Siri's Corner

Flour. Yeast. No-Knead Bread.
~ Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen; inspired by Jugalbandi

Flour. Yeast. Tomatoes. Onions. Herbs. Ladenia.
~ Renuka of Fusion; inspired by Tangerine's Kitchen

Flour. Yeast. Rosemary. Focaccia.
~ Meera of Dindin Tonight; inspired by Delicious Days

Flour. Potato. Yeast. Margarine. Laadi Pav.
~ Vaishali of Holy Cow!; inspired by One Hot Stove

Flour. Yeast. Onions. Sugar. Pepper. Caramelized Onion Bread.
~ Nupur of One Hot Stove; inspired by Baking Bites

Atta. Potatoes. Cumin seeds. Green chili peppers. Cilantro. Aloo Paratha.
~ vb of feed yourself; inspired by Manjula's Kitchen

Whole wheat flour. Potatoes. Cilantro. Cumin. Green chillies. Aloo Paratha.
~ Priti of Indian Khana; inspired by A Mad Tea Party

Pizza crust mix. Tomato sauce. Oregano. Baby Spinach. Cheese. Twirly Whirly Pizza.
~ Curry Leaf of Experiments, Emotions, Experiences with Food; inspired by Madhuram's Eggless Cooking

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Strawberry- pattern adapted from Pezdiva

Strawberries. Sugar. Lemon. Cloves. Strawberry Jam.
~ Mandira of Ahaar; inspired by Arabic Bites

Blackberries. Sugar. Lemon. Blackberry Sauce.
~ Joy of The Spiral of Seasons; inspired by Kitchen Parade

Tomatoes. Raisins. Jaggery. Lemon juice. Tempering. Tomato Oambal.
~ TBC of The Budding Cook; inspired by Arundathi's Food Blog

Green tomatoes. Onion. Green chillies. Cumin. Tempering. Green Tomato Chutney.
~ Raaga of The Singing Chef; inspired by Flavors of Indian Rasoi

Sun-dried tomatoes. Fresh tomato. Chillies. Tomato Thokku.
~ Nupur of One Hot Stove; inspired by Delectable Victuals

Onions. Red chillies. Tamarind. Onion Chutney.
~ Nupur of One Hot Stove; inspired by The Budding Cook

Chillies. Mustard seed powder. Lemon juice. Turmeric. Raita Marcha.
~ Rajitha of Hunger Pangs; inspired by Kajal's

Toor dal. Tamarind. Red chillies. Cumin. Turmeric. Kandi Pachadi.
~ Sireesha of Mom's Recipies; inspired by Daily Meals

Sesame seeds. Toor dal. Cumin. Coriander seeds. Red chillies. Nuvvullu Podi.
~ Bharti of Veggie Foodist; inspired by Sailu's Kitchen

Peanuts. Onion. Red chillies. Tamarind. Tempering. Peanut Chutney.
~ Anita of A Mad Tea Party; inspired by Mahanandi

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Open-Faced Summer Sandwich with Cheese, Lettuce, Tomatoes and Dill Pickles- pattern adapted from Craftbits

Snacks and Appetizers

Rice flour. Moong dal. Ajwain. Red chilli powder. Rice Flour Rings.
~ Trupti of Recipe Center; inspired by Talimpu

Puff pastry. Khari Biscuits.
~ Nupur of One Hot Stove; inspired by Enjoy Indian Food

Rice flour. Buttermilk. Red chillies. Tempering. Mor Kali.
~ Laavanya of Cookery Corner; inspired by Tasty Palettes

Urad dal. Chillies. Ginger. Curry leaves. Medhu Vadai.
~ Nags of Edible Garden; inspired by Tasty Palettes

Leftover rice. Besan. Chillies. Mustard seeds. Rice Bites.
~ Richa of As Dear As Salt; inspired by 365 Days of Pure Vegetarian

Paneer. Herbs. Yogurt. Green chilli. Onion. Hara Paneer Tikka.
~ Neha of Tasty Recipes; inspired by Tongueticklers

Brunch and Light Meals

Sago pearls. Peanuts. Sugar. Potato. Tempering. Sago Khichdi.
~ Sia of Monsoon Spice; inspired by One Hot Stove

Poha. Jaggery. Tamarind. Tempering. Gojavalakki.
~ Sunshinemom of Tongueticklers; inspired by Mane Adige

Thin pohe. Coconut. Jaggery. Pohe Masala. Kalavalele Pohe.
~ Mints! of Vadani Kaval Gheta; inspired by Aayi's Recipes

Rawa. Cucumber. Flax seeds. Cucumber Pancakes.
~ Meera of Enjoy Indian Food; inspired by Konkan World

Millet flour. Rice flour. Ragi Dosa.
~ Sunshinemom of Tongueticklers; inspired by Essence of Andhra

Rice. Plantains. Plantain Dosa.
~ Suma of Veggie Platter; inspired by Recipe Junction

Rice. Ripe bananas. Methi seeds. Banana Bread Dosa.
~ Anita of A Mad Tea Party; inspired by Recipe Junction

Bananas. Whole-wheat flour. Baking powder. Milk. Maple syrup. Whole-wheat Banana Pancake
~ PG of My Kitchen Stories; inspired by Delectably Yours

Entrees

Tamarind. Onions. Green chillies. Sugar. Pachipulusu.
~ Sireesha of Mom's Recipies; inspired by AkshayaPatra

Toor dal. Tempering. Tamarind. Jaggery. Goda masala. Amti.
~ Miri of Peppermill; inspired by The Cooker

Rajma. Onions. Tomatoes. Chilli powder. Dhaba Da Rajma.
~ Bharti of Veggie Foodist; inspired by Gopium

Basmati rice. Cumin. Bay leaf. Cinnamon. Cardamom. Jeera Rice.
~ Priti of Indian Khana; inspired by Illatharasi

Cooked rice. Onions. Lemon juice. Tempering. Garnishing. Lemon Rice.
~ Illatharasi; inspired by Niya's World

Whole wheat pasta. Canned tomatoes. Sun dried tomatoes. Garlic. Chickpeas. Pasta with Chickpeas and Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce
~ Bek of I Digress; inspired by One Hot Stove and Delectable Victuals

Flour. Eggs. Milk. Oregano. Spaetzle.
~ Nidhi of Sizzling Bites; inspired by Arundathi and Chez Teddy

Tilapia. Chilli powder. Tamarind. Turmeric. Fish Fry.
~ Priar's of Sena's Rasoi; inspired by Samayal Ulagam

10 simple South Indian dishes and 10 three-or-less curries from fellow bloggers
~ Ramki of One Page Cookbooks

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Rad Radish- pattern adapted from BitterSweet

Arbi. Chickpea flour. Coriander-Cumin powder. Red chilli powder. Amchoor powder. Bhuni Arbi.
~ Rashmi of Delhi Belle; inspired by Anna Parabrahma

Asparagus. Almonds. Lemon juice. Asparagus Amandine.
~ Mrs. Ergul of Mrs. Ergul in the Kitchen; inspired by Closet Cooking

Beet. Carrot. Lemon juice. Orange juice. Walnuts. Beet and Carrot Salad.
~ Evolving Tastes; inspired by Chocolate and Zucchini

Bitter gourd. Chilli powder. Baked Bitter Gourd Crisps.
~ Cham of Spice-Club; inspired by Place for Authentic Indian Food

Broccoli. Onion. Garlic. Milk. Cream. Cream of Broccoli Soup.
~ Neha of Tasty Recipes; inspired by The Random Ramblings of a Working Mom

Carrots. Chillies. Peanuts. Lime juice. Tempering. Carrot Salad.
~ Neha of Tasty Recipes, with inspiration from Spicy Chilly

Carrots. Peas. Tempering. Kasuri methi. Tomato. Gajar Matar.
~ Ashima of Tummy Times; inspired by Taste Buds

Capsicum. Moong dal. Cumin seeds. Onion. Garam masala. Bharwan Simla Mirch.
~ A&N of Delectably Yours; inspired by Aayi's Recipes

Collard greens. Red chillies. Asafoetida. Soda bicarb. Kashmiri garam masala. Collard Greens Haak.
~ Enjay of Purplesque; inspired by A Mad Tea Party

Kohlrabi. Chana dal. Phodni. Tomato. Sugar. Simply Spiced Kohlrabi.
~ Manisha of Indian Food Rocks; inspired by Happy Burp

Lotus roots. Khoora kharam. Lemon juice. Baked Lotus Root Chips.
~ Dee of Ammalu's Kitchen; inspired by Jugalbandi

Mushrooms. Eggs. Cumin seeds. Turmeric powder. Red chilli powder. Spicy Egg Mushroom Rolls.
~ My Spicy Kitchen; inspired by What's For Lunch, Honey?

Okra. Toor dal. Pepper. Simply "Delicious" Okra.
~ Meera of Dindin Tonight; inspired by Tasty Palettes

Okra (vendakkai/lady's finger). Red chilli powder. Coriander powder. Turmeric. Tempering. Vendakkai Vadakkal.
~ Radhika of Tickling Palates; inspired by Cooking 4 All Seasons

Plantain. Red chilli powder. Turmeric. Tempering. Vazhakkai Curry.
~ Radhika of Tickling Palates; inspired by Saffron Trail

Plantain. Coconut oil. Vegetable oil. Red chilli powder. Baked Plantain Chips.
~ Madhuram of Eggless Cooking; inspired by Jugalbandi

Potato. Sesame seeds. Red chilli powder. Turmeric. Tempering. Bangala Dumpa Vepudu
~ Nupur of One Hot Stove; inspired by Masala Magic

Potato. Cilantro. Chipotle. Coriander Rosti.
~ Nupur of One Hot Stove; inspired by Sunita's World

Potato. Chilli powder. Garlic. Potato & Garlic Roast.
~ Cham of Spice-club; inspired by En Vittu Virundhu.

Potato. Bread slices. Red chilli powder. Cumin powder. Coriander leaves. Aloo Tikki.
~ Jayasree of Experiments in Kailas Kitchen; inspired by Sindhi Rasoi

Radish. Chillies. Tempering. Lemon juice. Mujj Chatin.
~ Nupur of One Hot Stove; inspired by A Mad Tea Party

Spinach. Corn. Cumin seeds. Mustard seeds. Spinach with Corn.
~ Nupur of One Hot Stove; inspired by Arundathi's Food Blog

Spinach. Rice flour. Urad dal. Red chillies. Mashed Spinach.
~ Nupur of One Hot Stove; inspired by Saffron Trail

Summer squash. Garlic. Lemon juice. Vinegar. Grilled Marinated Summer Squash.
~ Joy of The Spiral of Seasons; inspired by Kitchen Gardeners International

Tendli. Garlic. Red chilli powder. Tamarind. Tendlya Talasani.
~ Rashmi of Delhi Belle; inspired by Enjoy Indian Food

Vegetables. Soy sauce. Sesame seeds. Sesame oil. Pepper. Roasted Vegetables.
~ Abbhirami of Soulful Creations; inspired by Kalyn's Kitchen

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Vanilla Cupcake with a Cherry on Top- pattern adapted from BitterSweet

Wheat flour. Jaggery. Ghee. Cardamom. Nuts. Thambittu.
~ EC of Simple Indian Food; inspired by Mane Adige

Broken wheat. Sugar. Cardamom. Lapsi Halwa.
~ Alka of Sindhi Rasoi; inspired by The Cooker

Wheat flour. Almonds. Sugar. Ghee. Rose water. Aate ka Sheera.
~ Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi; inspired by Pedatha.com.

Yogurt. Sugar. Cardamom. Saffron. Almonds. Shrikhand.
~ Sangeetha of I Googled, I Saw, I Cooked; inspired by Aayi's Recipes and 365 Days of Pure Vegetarian

Milk. Condensed milk. Cardamom. Saffron. Oranges. Orange Basundi.
~ Nupur of One Hot Stove; inspired by Bong Mom's Cookbook

Mango pulp. Cream. Gelatin. Sugar. Mango Cream JellO.
~ JZ of Tasty Treats; inspired by Aroma

Almond butter. Sugar. Khoya. Cardamom. Almond Butter Laddus.
~ Madhuram of Eggless Cooking; inspired by Soul Food

Dates. Nuts. Dates Ladoo.
~ Priti of Indian Khana; inspired by Delicious Journey into Vegetarian Food

Besan. Ghee. Sugar. Cardamom. Raisins. Microwave Besan Ladoo.
~ Manasi of A Cook @ Heart; inspired by Bhaatukli

Ricotta cheese. Condensed milk. Cardamom. Saffron. Burfi.
~ The Cooker; inspired by Bong Mom's Cookbook.

Coconut flakes. Egg whites. Flour. Sugar. Lemon zest. Coconut-Lemon Macaroons.
~ Bhags of Crazy Curry; inspired by Alpineberry

Flour. Butter. Sugar. Cocoa powder. Chocolate chips. Granny Boyd's Biscuits.
~ ovenhaven; inspired by Amanda

Digestive biscuits. Peanut butter. Sugar. Butter. Dark chocolate. Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares.
~ Sowmya of Creative Saga; inspired by Lisa's Kitchen

Greek yogurt. Sugar. Vanilla. Frozen Yogurt.
~ Alanna of Kitchen Parade; inspired by 101 Cookbooks

Plums. Sugar. Lemon juice. Arrowroot powder. Heavenly Plum Sorbet.
~ Priya of Live to Cook; inspired by Simply Recipes

Whipping cream. Lavender blossoms. Chocolate. Egg yolks. Sugar. Lavender Chocolate Pots de Creme.
~ Suganya of Tasty Palettes; inspired by The Well-Seasoned Cook

Chocolate. Avocado. Maple syrup. Orange juice. Decadent Chocolate Avocado Pate.
~ Richa of As Dear As Salt; inspired by Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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There were some small giveaways associated with this event to thank all the participants who made it happen. I plugged the names of all the participants into a spreadsheet and used a random number generator to pull out names from a virtual hat.

And the winners are

1. Knitted Goodies #1: Bharti of Veggie Foodist

2. Knitted Goodies #2: Abbhirami of Souful Creations

3. Supreme Spice Ginger spice extract: Meera of Enjoy Indian Food

4. Supreme Spice Cardamom spice extract: Alanna of Kitchen Parade

5. Supreme Spice Tea Masala spice extract: Pavani of Cook's Hideout

My sincere thanks to Anjali of Supreme Spice for offering these three giveaways. Winners, please get in touch with me so we can get your prizes to you soon! Many thanks to everyone for sending in these fantastic entries.

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Summer is coming to an end, and so is my vacation. My days of leisure are soon to be replaced by some serious work and study, so this will be my last post for a while. I am going on an extended blogging break. I'll be a food blog lurker for a change ;)

P. S. The Monthly Blog Patrol theme for the next month is Fruit Fare; so please hunt around your favorite blogs for some inspiration and send the fruits of your labor to Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen, your next host!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Potato Salad for Lunch, Honey!

Every month, Zlamushka, she of the spicy kitchen, selects one blog and opens it up for a widespread taste-test. Last month, my blog was lucky enough to be chosen and tried and tasted; a lot of pav bhaji got made, I can tell you that much! This month, it is the turn of Meeta's spectacular blog, What's For Lunch, Honey?


Meeta's blog and mine could not be more different if we tried! In my home, the question, "What's for lunch, honey?" usually has a fairly predictable answer- "Leftovers from last night's dinner, that's what!"...but in Meeta's home, the answer is something vastly more decadent and gorgeous. Meeta's blog is also the place for me to gaze dreamily at exotic and hard-to-pronounce desserts. She brings a professionalism and perfection to baking that is very inspiring to me.

This is the very first time I have tried a recipe from Meeta's blog. Usually, I only feast with my eyes there. For me, the metric measures that Meeta uses are a challenge, I must confess! I don't have a weighing scale in my kitchen, and I am too accustomed to the US style of recipe writing, with ounces and lbs, and more often, cups and teaspoons, and in my case, impossible measures like smidgens, pinches, and dashes! Today, I was looking for something light and summery and found something nice and lite; and proceeded to make it with my highly scientific measures, such as "handfuls".

Here's how I made Light Potato Salad, inspired by Meeta's recipe...
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Mix together in a large bowl:
- Two medium-large potatoes (washed but not peeled) in some salty water and boiled until just tender, then drained, peeled and diced into medium cubes
- A handful of fresh/frozen green peas and 1 carrot, cut in small dice, cooked in the microwave for 1-2 minutes to get them barely tender
- 2-3 T minced onion, rinsed in cold water
- 6-8 minced slices of bread and butter pickles (sweet pickled cucumber) and 1 T of pickling juice
- 1½ hard-boiled eggs, diced*
- Dressing: ¼ thick low-fat yogurt whisked with 1 T of herb-garlic cream cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste

* Why 1½ eggs and not two? Because other people pay sales tax, and in this home, we pay Dale's tax. Every time we cook with the puppy's favorite people food (eggs, cheese, dosa etc.) , he gets a cut.

This potato salad really is light and tasty and utterly delicious. We enjoyed the potato salad with some home made bean burgers for a wonderful summer meal. With the potato salad recipe from Germany and burgers with Indian spices, this was a cross-cultural meal with international flair, a little bit like Meeta's blog!

This is my contribution to the July Tried and Tasted event; thank you for hosting this unusual event, Zlamushka.

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Today (July 25th) is the last day to get in your entries for the MBP: Less is More event. The deadline is midnight PST. Check back tomorrow for the round-up, and for an announcement of the winners of the giveaways!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sweet. Sinful. Cold. Rich.

No, I'm not describing one of the Desperate Housewives; I'm talking about a wonderful dessert I made last weekend.

Chunks of tangy-sweet oranges dunked in thick cardamom-scented milk. This beauty of a sweet treat is called Kamlalebur Kheer and is a recipe shared by our favorite Bong Mom, Sandeepa. I would describe it as a delicious variation of basundi, with the fresh tangy taste of oranges contrasting with the cloying richness of thickened milk.

Milk + Condensed milk + Cardamom + Saffron + Oranges = Blissful Orange Basundi

To amplify the citrus notes, I added some orange zest, which perfumed the whole dessert with unmistakable orange flavor. I stirred in cardamom and saffron because I seem to be pathologically incapable of leaving these out of Indian desserts. The condensed milk was sweet enough for me and I did not need any extra sugar. In fact, the whole can of condensed milk was a bit too sweet for my taste; next time I will add a little less.

Here's how I made it, inspired by Sandeepa's recipe.
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1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine ¾ to 1 can sweetened condensed milk (depending on sweetness desired), 4 C 2% milk and 4 T non-fat dry milk powder. One could use whole milk instead of low-fat milk and milk powder.
2. Heat the mixture and bring it to a near-boil, then simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it reduces by a third or so (I did this for about an hour).
3. Stir in ½ t cardamom powder and a few strands of saffron. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
4. Take two oranges (I used Valencia) and wash them well. Zest the oranges, then section them.
5. Stir in the orange segments and orange zest into the milk mixture and chill thoroughly before serving. I think this yields about 6-8 reasonable portions; it is a rich and delicious dessert best enjoyed in small portions.

Sugary as can be, condensed milk is a very once-in-a-while purchase for me, but it is definitely a useful pantry item. With a can of condensed milk at hand, one can make
Quick Coconut Ladoos (condensed milk, coconut, cardamom),
Mango Kulfi (milk, flour, mango pulp, condensed milk),
Doodh Peda (butter, condensed milk, non-fat milk, cardamom, saffron)
Macaroons (fresh coconut, desiccated coconut, condensed milk, chocolate chips),
Chocolate Fudge (condensed milk, butter, chocolate chips, walnuts),
Dulce de Leche (milk, sugar, baking soda, vanilla),
Custard (condensed milk, sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla),
this very interesting Vietnamese drink (sparkling water, condensed milk, lime juice) and so many other "less is more" desserts.

Needless to say, this dessert is another entry for MBP: Less is More.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sun-dried Goodness

Today's recipe is another one that is low on the number of ingredients but very high on flavor: Thakkali Thokku , a sun-dried tomato spread at Delectable Victuals. Sheela's creative touch in the kitchen and her enthusiasm for trying all kinds of global cuisines never fails to amaze me.

Sun-dried tomatoes + Dried chilli peppers + Fresh tomato = A finger-licking good Tomato spread

It is fresh tomato season here where I live, but I had a dozen little sun-dried tomatoes sitting in a jar from last winter's pantry stash that I was itching to use up. Sheela's recipe calls for dried chili peppers to add to the goodness (I have a stash of those too, a gift from a friend who brought them from New Mexico).

If you live someplace with plenty of sunshine and maybe a roof or courtyard to lay out stuff to dry, you can make your own sun dried tomatoes. The drying concentrates the sweet tomato goodness, and sun-dried tomatoes can be used to add wonderful flavor to a huge variety of recipes.

This is how I made the spread, inspired by Sheela's recipe
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1. Place 10-12 sun-dried tomatoes and 2-4 dried chilli peppers in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and let them steep for 10-15 minutes.
2. Drain off the water and place the re-hydrated chillies and tomatoes into a food processor.
3. Add one chopped de-seeded fresh tomato, a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional) and salt to taste. Process into a smooth paste.
4. Heat 1 T oil (I used gingelly/untoasted sesame oil) in a small pan and fry the paste for a few minutes until it comes together.

Sheela offers many delicious ways to use this spread. The day I made this, I served it with dosas. The next day, I used the leftover spread in a sandwich with cream cheese and slices of fresh, ripe tomato. The tomato overload sandwich was such a perfect summer treat!

This goes to MBP: Less is More.


Some other delicious condiments with few ingredients:

Shyam's Quick Mango Avakkai (Green mangoes, Fenugreek seeds, Mustard seeds, Chilli powder)

Anjali's Lime Peel Pickles (Lime peel, Mustard seeds, Red chilli powder, Sambar powder)

Shilpa's Morambo (Mango/Pineapple, Sugar, Cardamom)

I'll be back in a few days with something sweet!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Caramelized Onion Bread

Today's few-ingredient recipe is a savory bread- Caramelized Onion Bread from Baking Bites.

Bread certainly is a miraculous food- powdery flour and plain ol' water coming together in a fluffy loaf with the help of millions of little bugs called Baker's yeast. Or our Indian breads- where you don't even need yeast. Just experienced hands that know how to turn out perfect flatbreads. In this recipe, Nic built in tremendous flavor right into the bread with the help of some beautiful browned onions. I halved the recipe to make a loaf of bread in a standard loaf pan, and used a mixture of bread flour and white whole wheat flour. Other than these two small variations, I followed Nic's recipe exactly.

Flour + Yeast + Onions + Sugar (tiny bit) + Pepper = Fragrant Caramelized Onion Bread

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This bread was delicious! Next time, I would make sure that I cook the onions thoroughly...this time, the water left behind in the cooked onions turned into little pockets of pasty dough in the bread. It still tasted wonderful.

I sandwiched thick slices of this bread with some cheese, popped the sandwiches into the toaster oven for just a few minutes to let the cheese melt a little, and served them with chilled tomato soup (tomato puree, flavored olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, fresh basil, salt, pepper)
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Browned onions have saved many a day in my kitchen. With no other vegetables on hand, pantry onions can be browned and used in so many ways- as a stuffing for grilled cheese or quesadillas, to dress up a simple pulao into a special meal, to add to vegetable stock to make a quick soup, and so on and on. Barbara has a very detailed tutorial on browning onions so as to coax the maximum flavor from them without turning them into charcoal.

This is yet another entry for MBP: Less is More.

If you post an entry for this event, please don't forget to drop me an e-mail telling me about it!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Coriander Rosti...

...or how to kick up brunch a notch!

Last weekend, an old college friend dropped in for brunch and I got a chance to try a bookmarked recipe from Sunita. Sunita's world is a place full of luscious food, images of nature and glimpses of her family life. A visit to her world never fails to cheer me up! Sunita's recipe for Coriander Rosti called for the simplest of ingredients and resulted in the most tempting crispy nuggets (you have to go look at her pictures for yourself).

My minor tweak: I used chipotle flakes instead of pepper to give the potatoes a smoky flavor. One could make many variations of these patties by using red pepper flakes or finely minced fresh chillies or crushed peppercorns as the spice.

Potatoes + Cilantro + Chipotle = Breakfast Potato Patties that will wake up your taste buds.

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(Inspired by Sunita's World)
1. Wash two large (I used the huge baking potatoes sold here in the US) potatoes and prick them all over with a fork. Boil them until they are only partially cooked.
2. Peel and shred the potatoes.
3. Add 1 packed cup minced fresh cilantro, salt and chipotle flakes to taste. Mix together.
4. Form patties and place on a sprayed baking sheet. Spray the patties with a little more oil.
5. Bake at 400F for 30-40 minutes, flipping over once in between until the patties are golden and crispy.

These spicy patties are going to MBP: Less is More.


I served the patties with some delicious vegetable-egg squares. You could call them crustless quiche bites- inspired by Kalyn's recipe, which in turn is inspired by another.
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My only modification was that I used spinach instead of chard. This is a delicious way to start the day off with a big helping of vegetables; the recipe is endlessly flexible. I have added artichoke hearts before with delicious results.

Both recipes- the rosti and the egg squares- are wonderful to serve on a brunch buffet because they are both bite-sized and portable.

Also on the brunch menu, some hot buttered toast!

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Toast1

Monday, July 07, 2008

Khari biscuits

A few days ago, I was idly leafing through a food magazine while waiting somewhere and a boldly highlighted recipe caught my eye. It claimed to be 2-ingredient guacamole. Ever since I decided on this Less-is-More theme, I have been very interested in few-ingredient recipes, and I read the recipe eagerly. Only to find that the two ingredients were 1 tub of refrigerated guacamole and 1 tub of refrigerated salsa. And the method stated: Mix them together. Viola! I stared at this incredible "recipe" for several moments, trying to decide whether to laugh or to cry. In the end, I just shook my head and flung the magazine aside.

When recipes call for "convenience products", it sometimes can go to such hilarious extremes. Other times, though, I have to admit that short-cuts do make it possible to make meals even when life gets too hectic for all meals to be made from scratch. There certainly are many times in my life when a jar of pasta sauce or a bottle of Thai curry paste has made the difference between eating a slice of greasy pizza or chopping up some odd vegetables and eating a quick home-cooked meal.

Sometimes, a convenience product provides a means to that sweet wistfulness called nostalgia. At least, that is the feeling that crept up when I saw Meera's recipe for Short-cut Khari Biscuits. They are a one-ingredient wonder, made from store-bought puff pastry. I loved loved loved these khari biscuits ("khari" means salty) in India, as an accompaniment to afternoon chai. Nothing but melt-in-the-mouth flaky pastry. Even as they sighed over the fat content of this pastry, my parents gave in and bought khari biscuits from the local bakery every now and then. These plain khari biscuits are the ones I love best, but a new bakery that my parents frequent also makes methi khari biscuits (tinged with kasuri methi or dried fenugreek) that are simply delicious.

This is only the second time in my whole life that I bought puff pastry. With lashings of fat separating whisper-thin layers of dough, puff pastry is as sinful as it gets. In the interest of not undoing all of the huffing and puffing in the gym, I use it only for making vegetable puffs (a la Monginis) once in a blue moon. And now, khari biscuits! I used the all-butter Trader Joe's brand here. When buying puff pastry, I would suggest avoiding brands that contain hydrogenated vegetable fats (even small amounts of trans fats are extremely unhealthy).

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(Inspired by Enjoy Indian Food)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Defrost a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll it gently to make it slightly thinner. Cut out rectangular shapes with a sharp knife. Twist each rectangle into a bow (that is the shape that I remember from my childhood) and lay it on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. You may have to play around with oven temperatures and baking times to be able to get the inside of the biscuit baked before the outside gets too dark.

Meera's blog is a remarkable resource for recipes, both old favorites and unusual regional ones. This khari biscuit recipe is part of a category called American Desi- these are Indian favorites made using American supermarket ingredients.

This is yet another entry for MBP: Less is More.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Less is More: Vegetables

Getting your 5 (or more) a day is easy and delicious when you find the right recipes...that's what I have been learning from the bloggers.

First up, a gorgeous and couldn't-be-simpler subzi from Arundathi. A mild hint of cumin and mustard allows the fresh colors and flavors of spinach and corn to shine through. Arundathi tells us that this is a recipe she carried with her as a student, and it is a nice reminder that such recipes are worth going back to even after the bare-bones pantry days are gone.

Spinach + Corn + Cumin seeds + Mustard seeds = Spinach with Corn
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I served this simple and delicious spinach-corn with rice and bhindi ni kadhi from Coffee. This okra kadhi is a superb recipe. I was almost tempted to eat the spicy stuffing with a spoon! My attempts at frying the stuffed okra were quite fruitless this time around; the stuffing leaked out :D Next time, I might bake the stuffed okra before making the kadhi.

Next on the list, an irresistible radish relish from Anita. The zingy flavors of radish are paired with bright lemon juice, with red chillies providing heat and color.

Daikon radish + Chillies + Tempering + Lemon juice = Mujj Chatin
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I probably committed a cardinal sin in using peanut oil instead of mustard oil in this recipe. I don't have mustard oil in my pantry and when I look at the bottles of toasted sesame oil, raw sesame oil, peanut oil, and two kinds of olive oil in my pantry, I feel like I just can't bring home another one, hence the substitution. The mujj chatin, just like every other recipe from Anita's blog, was spot-on! It turned a dal-rice dinner into something mighty special.

We come to another spinach recipe- I'm getting serious about eating my greens! This one comes from Nandita. Her traditional lunch series is my absolute favorite, sharing those most precious recipes that make up the taste of home-cooked food. Nandita says, "This is a fine example of typical Tamil Brahmin cuisine, where less is always more and the flavours of the main ingredient are relied upon to the maximum without adding strong flavours like onion or garlic." Less is always more, you say? I had to try this recipe for my event!!

Spinach + Rice flour + Urad dal + Red chillies = Keerai Masiyal or mashed spinach.
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Nandita got beautiful results with her traditional stone pot and mashing spoon; I managed with my heavy-duty le creuset casserole and a hand blender. My only tweak to the recipe: I added some lemon juice at the end. You have to taste this to believe it.

I served the mashed spinach with steamed rice and a sesame potato stir-fry from Latha

Potatoes + Sesame seeds + Red chilli powder + Turmeric + Tempering= Bangala Dumpa Vepudu.
Nothing more and nothing less! When I sat down to enjoy this meal, I could not take my eyes off the beautiful colors on my plate- the jade spinach and the golden potatoes.

Sure, ginger/garlic/ any one of a hundred different ingredients could be added to each of these recipes, but the truth is that they taste perfect just in this minimalist state. Needless to say, all these vegetables are being packed to-go, straight to MBP: Less is More.


Entries are already trickling in and I hope you will participate too! If you have a favorite few-ingredient recipe on your blog, leave a comment and I'll try and make it for this event.

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...and for dessert, another cupcake. The recipe comes from the ridiculously talented Hannah of BitterSweet.
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Enjoy the weekend. Here's wishing my American friends a happy Fourth!