Sunday, August 31, 2008

Khatta-Meetha Nimboo Achaar | Sweet-Sour Lemon Pickle

Lemons are a plenty in the market, and its the perfect weather to enjoy them. Lemons are tremendously versatile and just add great flavour to food. I always keep a great stock handy for all those lovely dishes that come alive with a squeeze of lemon. Amongst our favourites are chilled sweet lemonade, margaritas, salad dressing, granita, and needless to say pickle!!

A drop of lemon pickle makes a perfect accompaniment to any meal. Try this lovely home made pickle with rice, paratha, crackers, toast, you name it!! The explosive combination of tart, sweet, and hot makes it finger-licking good:)

8 lemons, quartered
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 cup dry red chillies
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp asafetida
1/2 cup sugar
Salt, to taste

  1. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pan. Add the mustard seeds.
  2. When they begin to pop, add the asafetida. Stir and cook for a minute. Next add the lemons.Take care not to splash the oil as it will be very hot at this point.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the lemons well, until all the water they release is evaporated and the oil begins to separate from them. Remove from the heat.
  4. In a separate non-stick pan, dry roast the fenugreek seeds and the red chillies separately. Cool. Dry grind these together.
  5. Now add this spice mix to the cooked lemons with the salt and sugar. Mix well. As the oil is warm, the sugar will melt.
  6. Once the pickle is cool, store in clean, dry glass bottles for at least a week before serving.

This lemon pickle goes to AFAM Lemon. A monthly event, it is being hosted this month by Easycrafts at Simple Indian Food. AFAM or A Fruit A Month event was started by Maheswari of Beyond the Usual blog. This recipe also goes to Sunita at Sunita's World food blog. Sunita's food event Think Spice... carries the theme Think Spice... Think Favourite this month. This is because this fabulous event is celebrating its very first anniversary! Great going Sunita - and wishing you all the best!! Quick note on my favourite spice which is fenugreek seeds. Fenugreek seeds are a staple of Indian cooking and they add great flavour to vegetables, pickles, and chutneys alike. Fenugreek, roasted and crushed is a vital ingredient of pickles. Its flavour though initially bitter plays a significant role in the maturing of the pickle. Here's to my favourite spice - fenugreek seeds!!!!

Vegan Recipe

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Watermelon Slurpee with Nat King Cole

Watermelon Slurpee - just the sound of that on hot August afternoon is inviting!! Yes, what in these parts are called the 'dog days of summer' are here again. The heat index is through the roof with high humidity and not a cloud in sight. The garden is green, and I noticed this morning (as I have been the last month or so) that the plump yellow and black bumblebee is back and busy sucking nectar from the bright yellow cucumber flowers.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bean & Walnut Macaroni

Yup!! We have all tried mac & cheese. Undoubtedly a delight for any kid, I have known many adults to succumb to this wholesome and hearty dish. But hey, macaroni is not just for kids. And melted cheese is key to the comfort food that I believe is best set aside for a cold winter day!!

Pasta and innovation just go hand in hand. So here's another original for you from my kitchen. The story behind this is that this year I have created for myself a lovely kitchen garden!! I decided to do this a bit late in the season, so I am enjoying the lovely vegetables a bit later that they would normally have appeared. At present, I have beautiful yellow, almost golden plum tomatoes, yellow wax beans, basil, and cilantro.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Moongachi Usal | Sprouted Mung Bean Bhaji

Maybe one of the most widely eaten legumes across the world, the Mung Bean is as tasty as it is nutritious. Packed with fibre, calcium, protein, and potassium - this bean makes a wonderful part of a healthy diet. Now sprouted Mung Beans simply pump up all this nutritional content! Indeed, sprouts are rich in protein quality, energy, vitamins A,B,C, and E, minerals, essential fatty acids, and beneficial enzymes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Palak Ke Parathe | Spinach Flatbread

My earliest memories of parathas come from seeing them in my school lunch box. My Mum is a genius with dough, and when I was in school, and she would create the most amazing parathas, make rolls with them with vegetable filling, and place them in our lunch boxes. This always a made a very tasty, filling, and nutritious lunch, and needless to say - much in demand amongst my friends.

I like to think I am as experimentative as her as creating with new tastes and flavours is something I adore. The great thing about these spinach parathas, apart from the fact that they are delicious, is that they taste great hot or cold. They can be prepared in advance, wrapped in foil and served hot with lime pickle, sliced cucumbers and yogurt. And as they travel rather well, they can be cooled after cooking, and used to make rolls with whatever filling you fancy, foil wrapped individually for a nice healthy picnic lunch. Either way, they are yummy!!

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup spinach cooked
1/2 onion chopped fine
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green chillies, chopped fine
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oil
Ghee, as needed
Extra flour as needed

  1. Sift together the flour, salt, chilli powder, and cumin seeds. Add the oil and rub into the flour with the palms of your hands.
  2. Once the spinach has cooled, puree it.
  3. Next add the onions, garlic, green chillies, and the pureed spinach to the flour mix, and using water if needed make into a semi-soft dough. Knead it for 2 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into golf ball sized portions. Using the extra flour to dust the kneading board and roll out the dough into discs 4 inches in diameter.
  6. Heat a non-stick griddle. Reduce the heat to medium, and place one paratha. Cook, then turn over and cook the other side.
  7. Remove from the griddle, brush with ghee, and place in foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. Serve these nutritious parathas with yogurt and chutney.
These Spinach Parathas are my contribution to Joanna's Heart of the Matter HotM - Picnics!! Interestingly, Johanna of the food blog The Passionate Cook has chosen the theme of picnics for this month's WTSIM. I hope I can tempt at least some summer picnics with these Spinach Parathas!!

And as greens (yes greens!!) are my favourite foods, these parathas also go out to Easycrafts at Simple Indian Food for her wonderful event WYF - Colour in Food!

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2012. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vegetarian Chilli Con Soya

Vegetarian Chilli? Sounds contradictory, huh? Well, not really. Soya Granules or what is sold in many health stores as texturised vegetable protein makes the perfect substitute for this spicy dish, the original recipe of which is Chilli Con Carne or chilli with meat and calls for minced meat.

This is a recipe that I put together after I discovered a box of soya granules in the pantry of our home on returning from my travels. My husband had seen them at our local desi (Indian) store and as he remembered them from his childhood, he purchased them on a whim! This happened a couple of years ago and since then I have discovered that vegetarian cilli is actually a very popular dish. However I have been both surprised and excited to see the number and types of ingredients that are used as a substitute for the meat. These include chilli with mixed vegetables and beans, firm tofu, lentils, potatoes, beets, and grape nuts!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Spinach & Ricotta Manicotti

My friends and visitors to this blog are already familiar with the fact that I really don't enjoy using raw egg in my recipes. I try as far as possible to avoid them and where necessary replace them with relevant alternatives. All the recipes that I have come across for manicotti tend to use egg in the filling, I believe to bind together the ingredients. When I set out to make this recipe egg free, I was not quite sure how the filling would hold up. I was really pleasantly surprised to see it turned out perfect!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Aloo ke Samose | Potato Samosas with Phyllo

Samosas = party!! Every special occasion deserves a treat and the samosa somehow makes an appearance at birthdays, office parties, picnics, marriages, well everywhere!! I still remember a great Mithai (Indian Sweet) shop near my grandparents home in Delhi which made the most divine Shingharas or Bengali version of samosas. They were so popular that one had to make a special order to make sure you got your hands on them!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Strawberry Cardamom Milkshake

June is typically strawberry season in our parts. But due to the extended winter and the snow on the ground, strawberries here did not make an appearance until mid-June, so the season extended itself into mid-July. This year we went strawberry-picking to an amazing farm which was growing multiple varieties of strawberries, but more on that later.

I love strawberries in every way, but I have to say that strawberry milkshake was never my favourite. The tartness of the berries just don't seem to sit well with the sweetness of the milk. But, as it is one fruit milkshake that my dear husband truly loves, I blend it in different ways in order to bring some more balance to the flavour. One spice I find goes beautifully with strawberries is crushed green cardamom. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi to this blend which I recommend serving without ice and chilled.

3/4 cup strawberries, hulled
11/2 cups fat free milk, chilled
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

  1. Place all the ingredients in the blender and whick until smooth abd frothy.
  2. Pour into tall glasses and serve immediately.
This deliciously sweet milkshake is also my contribution to Linda of Got Milk? who is spreading awareness about World Breastfeeding Week which is celebrated annually in the first week of August.

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pretzels with Nigella Seeds

There is nothing that can beat the smell of fresh baked bread. Fresh bread is my weakness. I love granary rolls, rye bread, multi grain bread, french loaves, sourdough, Irish soda bread - hey where do I stop?? A current favourite in my home is the pretzel. My very first memory of pretzels is buying them off a roadside cart in Munich and chewing them ever so slowly as I walked round the city and the famous English Gardens. Shortly after, I encountered them at Munich's famous Hofbrau Haus, once a royal brewery for the Bavarian court, where they accompany beer!! Needless to say these were king sized versions of the one I'd been munching.

What I loved about the pretzels was their soft yet chewy texture and the coarse salt crystals on the top which just added a great crunch. Ever since I have wanted to try them at home and today with a small tweak to the basic recipe I did just that.

1 tsp Yeast
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp softened butter or softened margarine
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp nigella seeds to sprinkle on pretzels before baking
1 tbsp baking soda mixed in 4 cups water

You will also need:
1 pair tongs
Greased baking sheet

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Put yeast, sugar, and salt into a cup and pour in the warm water. Mix until the yeast starts to froth.
  3. Place the flour into a mixing bowl, rub in the butter, and then stir in the yeast mixture. Bring together the flour with this mix to make a dough
  4. Knead the dough until it is smooth. Place in a bowl in a warm area until it rises to double of its original height.
  5. Grease the baking sheet. Then prepare the baking soda-water mixture in a saucepan that is not aluminium, and bring to a boil on stove. Leave to simmer.
  6. Once the dough is ready, knead it once again for a minute. Next divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Roll it with your fingers into 12 inch long rolls. Shape these into the pretzels.
  7. Place the shaped pretzels on a parchment paper for 3 minutes. Then using a pair of tongs place them in the boiling water-baking soda mixture one at a time.
  8. Let the pretzels boil for a minute on one side, then turn them over with the tongs and boil on the other side for another minute.
  9. Remove form the water, drip excess water off them, and then place them on the greased baking sheet. Repeat this for all the pretzels, then sprinkle them with the nigella seeds.
  10. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown.
  11. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Let stand for 30 seconds. Use tongs to pick the pretzels off the sheet, and place on wire rack to cool.
  12. Serve warm or cold.
These pretzels are great just on their own or with a bowl of your favourite soup. The nigella seeds gives them a distinct flavour. My entire kitchen was fragrant with the heady smell of fresh bread and nigella! The boiling step ensures that their skin remains firm, enriches their texture and enhances their flavour. You can skip the boiling step, but I certainly recommend it unless you like pretzels that rise and taste like white bread. Its very easy to do and lends that touch of authenticity to the pretzel.These Pretzels with Nigella Seeds are my entry for Bread Baking Day #12: Small Breadshosted this month by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen.

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.