Sunday, October 24, 2010

Corn Cutlets

Fall is here. Crisp air and leaves changing colors. You come out of office at 6 and its already getting dark. When the weather is cold all I can think of is warm cup of coffee or tea, specially on the weekends. I enjoy reading a nice book while sipping coffee and munching on spicy goodies. I rarely get to enjoy quiet time because of household chores, groceries, some classes etc. These relaxing time once in a while keep me going for a long time. I always look forward to these afternoons even when they are hard to come by!!!

Back in the days, we only got Sundays off. The main attraction of Sundays used to evening Hindi movie on TV! TV watching time was rationed, if evening movie is good, no day time TV. We had to finish all our homework before we could watch TV. I always sat with my journals in front of the TV and writing all the submissions while enjoying movie. Once in a while my mom would make something special with tea. Dhokla, pohe were staples. Whenever I think of times back then, it reminds me how life so simple! TV had only one channel, simple food choices. Anyhow as always things change and life goes on. There are plenty of things I do now that I couldn't do then. Funny thing is, now that I know I can watch as much TV as I can, I rarely watch it anymore.

On one of a quieter Sundays recently I tried these simple and easy to make corn cutlets. They are so easy that you can make them on minutes notice.

Corn Cutlets

1.5 cup Frozen/Fresh Corn Kernels
0.5 cup Boiled/Baked Potato
2 small Green Chilies
Salt per taste
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Sugar (optional)
1/4 Chopped Cilantro
1/2 chopped Onion (optional)
Oil as needed

Preparation -
Thaw frozen corn kernels.
Add green chilies, corn, salt in food processor. Pulse everything but don't grind it too fine.
Grate boiled potato. Mix the corn mixture and boiled potato. Add lemon juice, chopped cilantro and chopped onion and mix it well.
The mixture will be soft.
Make small 1.5-2" patties. Heat a griddle on medium heat and line up the patties. Add oil if the patties start sticking to the griddle.
Shallow fry them well from both the sides.
Serve with ketchup or green chutney with afternoon tea.

Tips -
  • The mixture will be soft but it will firm up when cutlets are cooked. 
  • I used yellow corn so the cutlets look bright yellow. If you use white corn, you can add pinch of turmeric. 
  • You can use bread crumbs or stale bread instead of boiled potato.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Edible Sombreros

My Favorites - Fun, Food and Friends!!!

What else do you need when you have all this? I am talking about my special friends and food is the bond that has glued us together. We can talk about food for hours and share knowledge, no secrets, nothing. Its a genuine food based friendship. Time just flies when we meet, 15 minutes turn into 1 hour and 1 hour turns into two. Few months ago we introduced our families to each other and there was instant bonding in them as well. Now when we meet, significant others and the kids don't have to find other activities. All being big foodies, we decided to arrange a nice themed potluck dinner. Theme was to cook from a cookbook that we all agree upon and a course will be chosen for you by a lottery. We all got excited and thought choosing the book will be difficult. WRONG! We all said 'My Bombay Kitchen' almost at the same time! And then chits were drawn and I got the dessert!! Yay!! Oh Nooo!!!! Vegan dessert in a Parsi cookbook?? It was going to be a challenging decision. A friend offered me to exchange with her if I wanted to. But knowing Niloufer's suggestions work really well, I decided to give it a try.

I looked at all the dessert recipes in the book and settled on Khajur Ni Ghari and decided to veganize it. I love dates specially Medjols but finding them fresh sometimes is not always easy. I know Trader Joe's carries packs of these but that was going to be my last choice. My quest for soft and sweet Medjol took me to a small mom and pop type of shop in a nearby city. They had everything I was looking for, including Orange blossom water. Now I was all set to make the gharis.

I started making the pastry with earth balance. I added about 3/4 part earth balance and got scared, what if the pastry doesnt come out well? What if the pastry becomes hard instead of flaky? So I decided to add ghee for the remaining part. I have never tasted original recipe so its hard to decide whatever I am doing is correct or not. I did not want to throw things if they dont come out well. Now that I have tasted this, I know its really easy to veganize it.

A young foodie at the dinner said they look like mini Sombreros so I am calling these 'Edible Sombreros' ...

So here is the non-vegan recipe (adapted from My Bombay Kitchen)-

A Closeup

Date Filling -
1 tbsp Ghee
1 cup Pitted Dates
Zest of an Orange
3-4 Cardamom powdered using mortar and pestle
1/4 cup Chopped Walnuts
Pinch Of salt
1 tsp Orange Blossom Water (Original recipe calls for Rose Water)

Cover/Pastry -
2 cups Wheat Flour (I used regular chapati flour)
3/4 tsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
8 tbsp Earth Balance
4 tbsp Ghee
1/2 cup Ice Water

Preparation -
Making Pastry -
Combine all the pastry ingredients except water together.
Break earth balance/ghee into small pieces and while mixing it with flour. Work the dough till 'butter' pieces are as big as peas.
Now sprinkle ice water on buttered flour and start making the dough while breaking butter. Do not pour all the water at once.
The dough is mixed just so much that all the dry flour is incarporated in the dough.
Divide the dough in two discs and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refridgerate the dough for at least an hour.

Making Filling -
Heat ghee in a thick bottom pan.
Add dates and mash it while stirring it.
Add walnuts, cardamom powder, orange zest. Mix it well.
It should resemble thick paste. Sprinkle few drops of water if you think the filling is too thick to even move.
Remove the pan from heat and let it cool down a bit. Mix in orange blossom water and mix thoroughly.
Make 12 balls of the filling when it is cool enough to handle.

Assembly - 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (I used aluminum foil).
Lightly flour a surface roll both discs of dough in 1/8th thick sheets.
Now you have 2 rolled out sheets. Cut out 2.5-3 inch discs from the rolled out dough.
Make 24 disc. Make a dough ball from scraps as you go and roll it out to make discs.
Place filling balls on the middle of 12 discs. Now brush water on the edge of these discs.
Cover these discs with remaining 12 discs (line up properly) and crimp the edges with fork. Poke few holes on the top of each pastry.
Brush each of these 12 pastries with ghee and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until brown.

Sombreros on cooling rack

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tips -
  • As I said, I used few tablespoons of ghee but its easy to veganize. 
  • Niloufer's directions are for 6 big (6") gharis but I found them too big to eat so made a personal ghari for everyone with given proportions. Given proportions yield 13 pastries. 

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Potato Sagu

Potato is one vegetable I use sparingly mainly because I like to use locally grown vegetables whenever possible. Farmers market around our area are still filled with locally grown vegetables. Last year I tried to get CSA bag but I love to go pick my own veggies and I do not get a chance to do so with CSA bag. This year I decided against it solely for that reason. I feel like supporting these small farms but their weekly stalls are usually on the odd days that I can't go to. But going to local farmers market is much better option than going to the chain grocery stores. As I had written in this post, farmers markets remind me of Sabji-Mandi in India.Last week I got nice and fresh hummus, spicy olives, potatoes, garlic and Jujubes. What I did with Jujube's? That will come in another post.

Potato Sagu

Few years ago I had this nice potato sagu at a friend's place and fallen in love with the taste. She used MTR sagu masala and I immediately bought it in my next Indian grocery store trip. Since then I kept on making it whenever I remembered this sagu. But few months ago I read Anjali's version of vegetable sagu and bookmarked it immediately. I decided to make my own masala mix for the sagu after reading her post. She has made her sagu using lots of vegetables but I wanted to use only potatoes, onions and tomatoes. So I tweaked the recipe per my taste. Here is what I did -

4 Medium Potatoes
1 Medium Onion
1 Medium Tomato
Salt per taste
Chopped Cilantro
Water as needed

Masala -
1 tbsp PhuTane daaLe/Dalia
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tbsp Dried Coconut
2 Dried Red Chilies (or per taste)

Tempering -
2 tbsp Oil
4-5 Curry Leaves
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
Pinch of Turmeric
Pinch of Hing
1 red chili (optional)

Preparation -
Dry roast all the Masala ingredients and grind together.
Peel and cube the potatoes. Add about a cup of water and little bit of salt and boil it on medium heat. Potatoes should be tender but not fully cooked.
Chop onion and tomato in the similar shape.
Heat oil in kadhai, make tempering as usual by adding mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric and hing. Let it splutter and then add curry leaves and red chili.
Now add onion and saute it until golden brown.
Add chopped tomato and fry it for few minutes.
Meanwhile the potato pieces are cooked just enough. Add ground masala powder to cooked potato and mix it well. Make sure there are no masala lumps.
Pour sauteed onion and tomato mixture and mix well. Adjust salt and water. Cover and let it cook on low heat for 10 minutes or until everything is cooked well, stirring occasionally.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with chapati.

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Daal Kanda

This is a dish from Satara - Sangali - Kolhapur region of Maharashtra.  Lots of my friends did not know about this quick fix. Its prepared when you run out of vegetables or when guests come over for quick lunch/dinner. It can be made with Toor Daal, Masoor Daal or Moong Daal.

1 cup Toor Daal
1 Large Onion
Kanda-Lasun-Masala (or Kolhapuri Masala) - Per Taste
Salt per taste
2-3 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp each Cumin seeds, Mustard Seeds, Turmeric, Asafoetida - For tempering
Chopped cilantro for garnishing

Preparation -
Wash daal and pressure cook with mimimum water. 
I usually put about one cup water for one cup toor daal and pressure cook for 2 whistles. You should see all the daals separately and it should not be mushy. 
Dice onion and set aside. Now heat oil in heavy bottom pan. Add cumin, mustard seeds let them sizzle then add turmeric powder and asafoetida. Immediately add chopped onion and saute till onion turns golden brown. Add cooked daal, salt and Kanda-Lasun Masala mix it well. 
If daal is not cooked thoroughly sprinkle some water, lower the heat, cover the pan and let the daal cook.  
Add more water if required. Consistency of this daal is very dry so add water accordingly. 
Add chopped cilantro and serve hot with chapati.

Tips -
  1. Masoor daal and Moong daal are easy to cook so you don't have to pressure cook them separately just soak in water for 30-35 minutes before cooking.
  1. If you don't have Kanda-Lasun Masala or Kolhapuri Masala add Kala/Goda Masala and Red Chili Powder instead.

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