Happy Diwali!

DeepavaLi is a time of indulgence and celebrations, lights and family time. Looking forward to all that over the weekend at my sis’.

I was not too enthusiastic about celebrating it with just the two of us at home on the actual day! I did make some coconut cookies for the occasion.

Here it is coconut cookies or kobbari biskattu ūüôā

Ingredients : Makes about 15 cookies

1 cup maida or all purpose flour

1/2 cup butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup dried dessicated coconut

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

1 table spoon poppy seeds or khus khus

2 tablespoons milk

Almonds or raisins for garnish

Cream the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. In a separate bowl sift the flour and baking powder. To this add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well. Add this to the butter mixture. If the consistency of the dough doesn’t come together, add the milk little by little till the dough holds together.

Preheat the over to 300F.

Make small balls out of the dough and flatten them. Place them on a lined baking sheet. Take a raisin or almond and press it down to the center of the cookie. Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes at 300F till they start getting a little brown on the edges. Place the cookies on a cooling rack. Take a small amount of powdered sugar in a sieve and gently dust the cookies with the powdered sugar.

Fruit Chaat

There are very few recipes that make zesty appetizers as well as delightful desserts and this is one such simple and healthy one. With low glycemic index fruits, pro digestive ingredients such as cumin, mint and healthy nuts to add some crunch, one couldn’t ask for more.
This is a recipe that my friends and I used to love eating from a humble little shop on a rundown street near our medical college in the hot days of summer. The original version only had freshly diced fruits with a dash of salt and pepper on it, but nonetheless tickled our taste buds!! I have tried to improvise it with some more fresh ingredients,usually available at most of our homes all the time.
Fruits, any of your choice…to keep it colorful and juicy, I used red grapes, chunks of pineapple, watermelon, banana, green apple, orange. You can also add papaya, kiwi fruit, peaches etc…
Dressing :
Fresh mint leaves- handful
Fresh ginger 1″ grated
Fresh lemon 1/2
Fresh ground pepper 1/2 tsp
Fresh cumin powder 1/2 tsp
Black salt powder or chaat masala 1 tsp
Orange juice 1/2 cup, about 4 oz
Toss these ingredients into a small blender/food processor and grind them into a paste by adding a little bit of orange juice ( instead of water) each time, until you reach a dripping consistency. If you want to do it the traditional mortar-pestel way, that works great too.
Drizzle the dressing over the cut fruits evenly and gently toss them so all fruits are well coated with the dressing. Refrigerate immediately for about an hour. For added crunchy nutty taste and texture, garnish with walnuts and roasted salted almonds!
Makes a great starter or the perfect end to a delicious meal.
Tip: You can sprinkle the chaat masala and black salt right before you serve so the fruits don’t lose all their juicy water content to the excess salt.

My first attempt at pickling!

Distant shores make you do certain things…other than constantly craving for things that you love to eat, you are also careful to use your stash of curry powders, pickles and other home-made spice mixes that you can’t find anywhere but your mom’s kitchen!

So that’s how I ended my making my lime pickle. Most South Indian households always have jars of lime pickle ready for use throughout the year. It is a sort of must-have in your pantry. When my stash of pickles from India was empty and¬†replenishment was¬†some weeks away, I decided to make¬†lime pickle. With summer in full swing, it was very easy to find juicy limes and lemons.

Yes, it took a while for me to distinguish between lemons and limes in this country. Limes are the smaller,greener ones, the kind you get in India and lemons are the bigger, juicier ones and mostly bright yellow. I used both in my pickle.

8-10 limes

5-6 lemons

3-4 tablespoons of chilli powder

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds

2 pinches of asafoetida

1 teaspoon of turmeric

Salt (sea salt or regular)

Wash and dry the limes and lemons. Make sure there is absolutely no moisture. All equipment used while making pickles should be dry. That is how you get pickles with a long shelf life.

Cut the limes into halves. Keep aside half the lemons and cut the rest into quarters. Cut about 2-3 of these at a time and drop it in a jar. As you drop one layer of limes, add one small handful or about 2 tablespoons of salt. Continue this until you finish with all the limes. Put the lid on the jar and store it in a dry place for about a week.

After a week, empty the contents into a dry bowl. The skin of the lime and the lemons should be tender.  Add the turmeric and chilli powder. Dry roast the mustard, fenugreek and asafoetida.Grind them well and add the powder to the bowl.  Squeeze the juice of the rest of the lemons which were kept aside. Mix well and adjust the salt and chilli powder as per your taste.  Put this in the jar again and enjoy yummy pickle after about 8-10 days!

Paneer Makhani

This is one dish we always tend to order when we eat out at Indian restaurants.Tastes great with Roti or rice. My only complaint at the restaurants is that they make it too greasy, too much cream or butter. I make this without a dollop of butter,ghee or cream. Just used 2% milk to grind the ingredients in a blender. So here’s a guilt free¬†Paneer¬†recipe, that is so easy to make too.
Ingredients: Serves 4
Paneer cubes, either store-bought or home-made. (I buy the ready to use fried Paneer cubes,for the sake of convenience).
Tomatoes 2 medium size, cut into cubes
Onion 1 medium, cut into cubes as well
Cinnamon stick 1″
Cloves 3-4
Cardamom 2
Ginger- garlic paste 1 tbsp
Fennel seeds 1 teaspoon
Bayleaf 1
White till 1/2 tsp
Turmeric 1 pinch
Red Chilli powder 1/2 teaspoon
Milk – 1 cup of 2% milk, enough to grind
Salt to taste
Oil 3 tbsp
In a shallow frying pan, heat 3 tbsp of oil. Add the onions, ginger garlic paste and fry the onions till they are translucent. Then add the spices, tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes start to beome tender. It is important to fry so the tomatoes lose their raw smell.
Once the ingredients cool off, blend them to a smooth paste by adding 2% milk as needed.( Remember to remove the bayleaf before you grind) Then bring the paste to a boil and add the Paneer cubes, after you have turned the stove off. Do not boil once you have added the paneer, else the Paneer cubes will crumble.
Add chopped Cilantroe to garnish. Serve with roti or rice.

Ridge gourd peel chutney/Herekai Sippe chutney

Heere kai sippe chutney ( Ridged gourd skin chutney)

There are very few vegetables whose skin you peel and don’t throw away! Heere kai ( ridge gourd) and seeme badanekai ( chayote). These veggie skins can be used to make yummy chutneys by adding bulk without having to use coconut, as with most traditional chutneys. Plus, the skin is where all the fiber and vitamins are in. My mom makes daal out of heerekai and uses the skin to make chutney.
Peeled skin from 3-4 gourds
cilantro 1/2 cup chopped
Chana dal 1/2 cup
Coconut 1/2 cup
Green chillies 4-5
Curry leaves 5-6
Mustard seeds and oil for seasoning.
Dry roast the chana daal till it turns golden brown. Add the ridge gourd peels,grated coconut, green chillies,cilantro and roast till the peels turn dark green in color.
Then using a little water, grind into a smooth paste in a blender.
Season with mustard seeds spluttered in oil.
Tastes fantastic with idli, dosa and even with rice!