Saturday, June 27, 2015

Coconut Chutney...

Idli, dosa, uttapam are few items I often make for breakfast and my daughter's lunch box. To accompany the idli, dosa or uttapam my little one makes sure that I make some coconut chutney. Everyone in my family loves this coconut chutney. Easy to make, no cook, a complete hassle free delicacy.

The recipe I follow to make this coconut chutney is passed on from a good friend of my husband. My husband's friend Annu is from Kerala. I have heard so many stories of their college days, how the boys used to devour dosa and chutney from her lunch box and how skillful is A's mom at cooking finger licking food, specially dosa and idlis at home. Once I was making dosa and my husband told me about this recipe to make coconut chutney of her friend's. A e-mailed us the special heirloom recipe, and from then on I'm a big fan of this recipe. It's been more than ten years and I'm still following exactly the same recipe while making coconut chutney. So here it's for you all, a simple coconut chutney to go with dosa or idli. It also works great in between two slices of breads.

It takes hardly 10 minutes to make the chutney, the time consuming part is to scrape the coconut. To reduce the work load frozen grated coconut can be used, but I will recommend of using fresh coconut. To scrape the coconut I used my traditional Bengali coconut scraper (Narkel kuruni). I have grown seeing my mother, aunts using this and me too use this on regularly.

Ingredients for this chutney are very simple and easily available. The curry leaves are home-grown :) In many recipes, specially the restaurant style, chana dal (bengal gram) is added to this chutney, but I prefer without it. The process is also as easy as it could be, put all the ingredients in a grinder and make a smooth paste, and you are done.

Things needed to make Coconut Chutney:

  • Fresh coconut (scraped): 1 cup
  • Onion (diced): 1 tbsp
  • Ginger (chopped): 1 tsp
  • Yogurt: 2 tbsp
  • Curry leaves: 12-14
  • Green chilies: 2-3
  • Salt to taste
  • Water to grind
  • Vegetable oil: 1 tbsp
  • Brown mustard and curry leaves for tempering

Steps of making Coconut Chutney:

1. Take all the ingredients except the brown mustard and curry leaves for tempering, put them in a grinder and make a smooth paste. Pour the chutney in a bowl.

2. In a pan heat oil, when hot add brown mustard and curry leaves, as it splatters switch off heat. Pour the oil and the seeds and the leaves over the chutney. Store chutney in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Homemade Flour Tortilla...

I have developed a taste for Mexican food during my four year stay in Texas. I still remember the very first fajita I had and it was love at first bite. Gradually I learnt different Mexican recipes and tried them in my kitchen. Tortilla is an essential part of Mexican food. It is a flat thin and round bread, very similar to our Indian roti or chapati. Tortillas can be made from both corn flour and wheat flour.

The history of tortilla dates back to 10,000 BC. Tortillas were an important part of the Aztec diet. When Spanish people came to Mexico during 1519, they found this round bread made from maize, they named it tortilla(little round bread). Traditionally a special kind of corn flour (masa) is used to make tortillas. With the influence of the Europeans wheat flour is also used to make tortillas and are very popular. Tortillas can be of different sizes, ranging from a diameter of 6 inches to 30 inches depending on the dish for which it is intended. Tortilla is a basic building block of several delicious dishes, taco, burrito, tortilla chips, quesadilla are few to name.

Making tortilla at home is very easy. It needs only few ingredients, flour, salt, baking powder, oil and water. Traditionally vegetable lard is used to make tortillas, but at home I use olive oil. You can use vegetable oil also. The steps are very simple, I have tried explain it with pics. Start with mixing the flour, salt and baking powder, then add the olive oil and mix well with the flour mixture.

Then gradually add water and pile up into a dough. Make sure the water is warm, not hot. I usually warm the water in microwave oven for 12 sec. Make a round smooth dough.

Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 min. After 15 min, knead the dough lightly and make 12 equal sized dough balls.

Dust the working surface with little flour and roll the dough into a 6 inch round thin flat disc. I mostly fail to make a perfect round, never mind.

Preheat a flat pan or skillet, place the rolled tortilla into the hot skillet and cook till bubbles start to appear.

Flip the tortilla and cook till golden brown spots appear. Remove from the skillet and store in a closed container.

Your tortillas are ready, use them to make a simple wrap or as a thin crust pizza base or for something Mexican like taco, burrito etc, options are endless.

Things needed to make Flour Tortilla:

(Yields 12 tortillas)
  • All purpose flour: 2 cups
  • Baking powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Olive oil: 3 tbsp
  • Warm water: 2/3 cup
  • Flour to dust

Steps of Making Flour Torlilla:

1. In a bowl take flour, salt and baking powder, mix well. Add oil and mix thoroughly to well incorporate with the flour.

2. Gradually add warm water and make a soft dough. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 min.

3. After 15 min, knead the dough lightly and make 12 dough balls.

4. Dust the working surface with little flour and with the help of a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into flat rounds (about 6 inch in diameter).

5. Preheat a heavy bottom flat pan or skillet over medium high heat, place the rolled tortilla into the pan, wait till bubbles starts to form. Flip and cook till small golden brown spots appear. Remove from the skillet and store in a container with lid. Continue with other dough balls.

6. To store the tortilla, let them cool down completely, put them in a zip-lock bag and store in refrigerator.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mango Relish...

I know it seems like ages since I  last posted something on my blog. Our move from US to India  and the whole bit about getting things  back on the groove was one of the reason why I went into this hibernating mode. Thanks to my well wishers and friends who mailed or messaged me to inquire my well being and kept my morale up.

Yes, I am back and thanks to my in-laws for  being the trigger to get things moving again by sending those bagful of home grown mangoes. It forced me to think and find some way to preserve them before they are wasted.

Mangoes are the most awaited fruit during summer. There is hardly anybody, who doesn't like this juicy fruit. Moreover the mangoes I get here in India from my in law's orchard are best possible one can get, no pesticides, no artificial ripening agents.  For me nothing compares to how a juicy, sweet mango tastes.

Being seasonal,  summer time  means  waiting for mangoes to hit the market. Luckily this year the crop has been better. Even after having them at breakfast, as dessert after lunch, or making a glass full of chilled mango lassi were not enough to finish them all. So I thought of making a relish from them. This relish can be used in thousands different ways, as a spread for your sandwiches or to dip some crunchy nuggets or as a glaze while grilling meat and seafood.

The ingredients are simple and easily available. Before you start, taste the mangoes first, if they are super sweet like the ones I used, then you do not need to add any sweetening agent. As the souring agent you can use either vinegar or lime juice, as per your choice. I added fresh red chilies to spice up the relish, dry red chilies or red chili flakes are also good. At the end I added a little Indian touch to the relish, adding some roasted and coarsely ground cumin seed.

For a change I used a traditional Bengali mortar pestle (shil-nora) to coarsely ground the rosated cumin seeds. Those who haven't seen a shil-nora, here is an image for you. It's a flat stone(shil) where the things need to grind are kept and small cylindrical stone piece(nora) is used to grind.

Things needed to make the Mango Relish:

  • Sweet mango (cut into small cubes): 2 cups
  • Onion (chopped): 2 tbsp
  • Ginger (julienned): 1 tsp
  • Red chilies: 1
  • Cumin Seeds (roasted and coarsely ground): 1 tsp
  • Vinegar or Lime juice
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp
  • Vegetable oil : 1 tbsp

Steps of making the Mango Relish:

1. Wash the mangoes well. Peel and cut them into small cubes. Discard the seed.

2. Roughly chop the onion. Peel the ginger and cut into julienne. Slit the red chili and fine chop. If you need the relish to  be less spicy, discard the seeds of the chili. The one I used were super hot. If you can't get your hands on fresh red chilies, use dry red chilies or chili flakes.

3. In a pan, dry roast the cumin seeds till it releases a nice aroma. Let it cool down and grind the roasted cumin seeds coarsely.

4. In a pan, heat oil. I used vegetable oil as it's neutral in flavor. You can use olive oil or mustard oil if you like to.

5. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and cook for 1 min. Add the chopped onion and cook till a little soft.

6. Add the cubed mangoes, salt and vinegar or lime juice(whichever you are using). The amount of vinegar or lime juice depends on the sweetness of the mango. Adjust by tasting. And of course if you are using lime juice it will also bring a nice fresh flavor to the relish.

7. Cover and cook for 15-20 min. Smash the mangoes with the back of your ladle, add the red chilies. Mix well. Cover and cook for 5-6 min. I did not add any sugar or honey, as the mangoes were very sweet. If you find the mangoes are not that sweet then add sugar or honey to balance the taste.

8. Add the freshly ground cumin seeds, mix well. Switch off the heat. Let the relish cool down. Pour it in a clean dry glass jar with a tight lid, store in the refrigerator.

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