Archive for the ‘Appetizer’ Category

Chef Style Gobi Manchurian at home!

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Couple of weeks ago, my cousin called me during the holidays. She wanted to make Gobi Manchurian and she wondered why it is not in this blog though N likes it so much. Only then I realized I had not posted it. Yes, it is true that N likes it and that is the appetizer he will order when we go to any Indo chinese place or every time he sees it in the menu. In Houston his only approved place for Gobi Manchurian is the Mayuri Restaurant!

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This recipe is something that matches up to that taste, we have been making it at home after we saw it made by menu rani Chellam, dating back to anandha vikadan in the end of 1990’s. You can make it dry or coated lightly with gravy. This roughly takes about 20 minutes, that is it.

Ingredients:
For frying:
About half a flower- separated into florets- I used frozen cauliflower
All purpose flour- 1/4 cup
Rice flour- 1/4 cup
Corn flour- 1/4 cup
Soy sauce- 1/4 cup
Green chilies- finely chopped- 1 to 2(depending on the spice level you like)
Spring onions- to garnish
Cilantro- to garnish
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry

For Gravy:
Finely chopped onions- 1/4 cup
Finely chopped Green Pepper- 1/4 cup
Soy Sauce- 1 tbsp
Corn flour- 1 tsp
Sriracha hot sauce- 1/2 tsp
Water- 1 cup
Salt to taste
Oil- 1 tbsp

Method:

If using frozen/fresh cauliflower, place the florets in about 1/2 cup of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, Drain the water and pat it dry with a kitchen towel.

Heat oil in a deep frying pan.

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Mix all ingredients-all purpose flour, corn flour, rice flour, salt and green chilies to a medium thin batter. Add all the cauliflowers to this and mix well to coat. Select about 4-5 florets to fry each time, drop them one by one in hot oil, wait till they turn golden brown in color, turn once and let it cook. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain the oil in a paper towel.

I do not add the green chilies as my son wants to taste everything I cook so I skip that these days.

For the gravy:

Heat oil in a kadai or sauce pan. Add onions and salt and stir fry well.Add chopped peppers and stir fry again. Now mix the corn flour, soy sauce, sriracha sauce and pour it into the pan and let the onions and pepper cook in the sauce. Once the sauce has reduced to your desired consistency, add the fried cauliflowers and gently mix well to coat. Let it simmer for two more minutes. If you need it to be a dry subzi- let the sauce thicken up more and then add the florets so it just coats them. If you need it like a gravy, add the florets when the gravy still has water.

Switch off. Transfer the gobi manchurian to a serving dish. Garnish with spring onions, cilantro and lemon juice. Serve hot as an appetizer/ snack or as a side for fried rice or noodles.

Make sure that you read this recipe properly- you will use 1-2 green chilies and another 1/2 tsp hot sauce for the gravy. So, if you like it less spicy change the quantity accordingly. Once the machurian sits, it absorbs the spices and it will end up as a really spicy version.

I use the same recipe for vegetable manchurian too, instead of cauliflowers, I use cabbage, carrots. But that is another recipe to share for another day!

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Spanakopita Baskets!

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

There are a couple of things that can instantly make you feel better- like a cup of tea with a hot savory snack.The best part in growing up in a big family,surrounded by near and dear ones is, whenever you cook, you atleast make enough to feed 10 people. I often think of the times when the kitchen is full of activity with friends stepping in and out and dishes being handed out from the kitchen by my mom and aunts during weekends and evenings.

With little R’s arrival,it is not only our friends, but also our neighbors kids dropping in to see him and to play with him. This gives me a good excuse to bake cookies, muffins,rolls,puffs and savory snacks. Baked savory snacks carry many similarities and you can make the same snack in so many different ways. Take for example,Spanakopita – I can relate it to the Indian version of Samosa in many ways. Both are street foods, very popular, the filling can be made according to what you have in the pantry and no one can resisit eating just one.

Like this version I made last week, which is not a traditional one, but it has flavors of both countries,India that I know and Greece, the origin of this dish.I believe in not learning a recipe, but a technique that you can use in many recipes depending on the occasion and not sticking to the same method.

Ingredients:
(Makes 6 baskets and 2 rolls)

Potatoes- 2
Onions-1/2 cup
Baby Spinach- Tightly packed leaves- 2 cups
Canned Chickpeas-4 tbsp
Frozen Peas-4 tbsp
Green Chilies-2
Cottage Cheese or Feta Cheese- 3 tbsp
Paprika- 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Light olive oil- 1 tbsp
Dough Sheet/Puff Pastry/Phyllo sheets-(I used one full dough sheet)

Method:

Boil and peel the skin of potatoes. Chop and wash the spinach leaves. Heat oil in a pan, add chopped onions,salt and green chilies, stir fry till onions are about to turn translucent, now add boiled potatoes, spinach, paprika, frozen peas and chickpeas. Stir fry well to mix and keep mashing with the back of the ladle so that potatoes and spinach are well cooked as well as mashed.

Let the filling cool down to room temperature.Pre heat the oven to 375 F.

Lightly apply butter in the muffin pan.

Spread the dough sheet. Depending on how you want to serve, you can either make triangles, squares, baskets(muffins) or rolls. I made a roll, so that I could cut it and serve as finger food. I also made some like baskets in a muffin pan.

For muffins cut a 10 cm square of the dough sheet,press it inside the muffin pan,add 2 tbsp of filling, top it with some crumbled cottage cheese and bring together the edges of the sheet so that you can seal the sides and finish with a knot on top.I usually try to make some design on top by just rolling the sheet into a shape or by keeping a handle like basket.If you want to make a roll, spread some filling on to a 10 cm square sheet, sprinkle some cheese on top, roll it tightly and seal the edges by pressing it together.

Bake for 15 minutes till the outer layer is golden brown in color. Serve hot or at room temperature with any of your favorite dips. Tastes great with plain ketchup too.

The dip that I make for savory snack is to blend half a red chili(seeds removed), 1 tsp of dried raisins(about 6-7 raisins),1/4 tsp of tamarind paste, 2 seedless dates with 1/4 cup of water. Then depending on how thick or thin I need the dip, I simmer it as it is or with another 1/4 cup of water till it thickens(5-7 minutes). It is spicy,tangy,sweet and goes with all savory snacks. You can even add it to yogurt to make it a cool and refreshing dip.

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway.

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Chickpea savory donuts with yogurt sauce(chickpea thayir vadai)

Monday, November 7th, 2011

On a bright and sunny evening this weekend,we wanted to eat something new but also something that we are used to,something that was comforting and reminds us of the good times back home where we sit around the garden table, enjoy a meal and share stories. Given how fast little R is growing up, we often think of the times we spent back home when we were young and remember people, food, movies and places that gave us the spirit and good times to look forward too. Speaking of people and food, we were discussing similarities in world cuisines and how lucky lil R is, to experience a bit of everything given how much both N and I have traveled and the sweet memories we have of those times.

Such talks always leads us to make something that makes you feel good, what warms you inside out!  Quickly I raided the pantry and while I was looking for ingredients, a bag of garbanzo beans caught my eye.N suggested some vadais(lentil donuts), lets call it falafel of India. Vadais are also deep fried and crunchy and some types of vadai are like cousins of falafel :) Using chickpeas to make vadai was new as vadais are normally made out of lentils,not dried beans.

As part of the foodbuzz program, I was invited to post recipes for an extraordinary Greek Getaway with FAGE yogurt, so N and I decided to make a chickpea thayir vadai,instead of plain vadais.

Thayir vadai is savory donut soaked in spiced yogurt and this is served either as an appetizer or as a snack or chat(to go with tea in the evening), sometimes thayir vadias are a meal on its own.

Yogurt is always used in Indian and Greek cooking and,for us living in hot weather conditions,it symbolizes a natural and healthy cool drink during the summer season and we use it all year around. I also make yogurt at home and while I make gravies,I add the yogurt to the gravy to give  some richness and smoothness for a wonderful taste and aroma.

This is how I made the crunchy chickpea vada using falafel as an idea.

Ingredients(Makes 11 vadais of 5 cm diameter each)

Dried chickpeas- 1 cup
Green chilies-2
Ginger- 1/2″ piece
Chopped onions-1/4 cup
Cilantro- a handful-chopped
Unsweetened grated Coconut- 1 tbsp
Rice flour- 2 tbsp
Salt- to taste(less than 1/2 tsp)
Coriander seed powder- 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder-1/4 tsp
Water- around 2 tbsp
Canola oil- to deep fry

For the yogurt sauce:
Any plain yogurt or Fage yogurt(greek yogurt) – 1 cup
Salt- to taste
Red chili powder- 1/4 tsp
Chopped cilantro- 2 tbsp
Mint chutney- 1tbsp
Grated carrots and cucumbers/chopped nuts(optional)- for garnish

Method:

Soak the dry garbanzo beans in hot water for 4 hours and then drain the beans. Take a blender, add the drained beans and pulse until it becomes a coarse powder. Add the chopped ginger, green chilies, cilantro, onions and blend well, also add 2-3 tbsp of water if required, to make it a thick paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl and add the rice flour,red chili powder, coriander seed powder,salt and coconut and mix well.(Always add salt at the end as salt sometimes can make the chickpea paste a little watery;the rice flour acts as a binding agent).

Heat the canola oil in a pan.

While the oil is heating up, pat a side of a ziplock bag(I usually use my palm) with water-just to wet the side of the bag. Take a lemon sized ball of the vadai paste,flatten it once and make a hole in the middle like a donut.Invert the bag on your palm immediately so that the donut can be transfered to the palm/tip of your fingers.

When the oil is ready, drop the donut into the oil gently. Let it rise up and turn golden brown on one side then flip it to the other side and let it cook until it turns golden brown.


Once the vadai is golden brown on both sides, remove from the oil and let the oil drain on a paper towel. Similarly, repeat the procedure for the rest of the batter.


Or if you do not want the donut shape, you can even fry it like a falafel using an icecream scoop. Tastes good either way!

Whisk together yogurt, salt, red chili powder, mint chutney and cilantro.

Serving: Arrange 3 donuts on a serving bowl. Pour the yogurt sauce on top. Garnish with cilantro/grated carrots/cucumbers or even chopped toasted nuts and grapes. Serve immediately. Goes great just for a family of three or for a potluck too! Both adults and kids will love this.

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway.

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Any time Veggie Salad

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

With growing fast food joints and concern’s over eating habits of kids, even the First Lady is feeling the pressure of providing healthy food at an affordable cost for children of all income groups.

Of course another press release shows we have to read the fine print with a magnifying glass on a food product before buying anything. If you are allergic to certain food products or moving towards organic food and you do have the habit of checking before buying, the more you read, the more you feel that the ingredient list in a box just keeps getting longer.

The minute we feel we are a bit overweight the mind automatically moves from Fried food or Biryanis to Salads. Somehow whenever we want to eat healthy we move towards fresh fruits and vegetables. There is nothing wrong in that though, take cucumber for example. It has only 8 calories per serving, yet a bowl of cucumber salad can make you feel full.

I have seen a lot of people eating a bowl of salad as an appetizer and then moving on to attack the main course thrice :) What is the point in eating a salad then? We have a saying in India which goes like,”Even if it is Nectar, eat it in moderation”.

Salads are actually the life savers for vegetarians like N and I. Living in Texas, half the time for an official Lunch, the option would be a Steak house ! One of our friends swears that the Japanese Steak houses in TX makes the best steak he has ever had. And the options for vegetarians at these places would be either salad or french fries. Mostly during the holiday season N has an overdose of salads because of this and he won’t let me make a salad till summer :)

This cucumber salad is a very simple salad I learnt from our good friend PM. Every time we go to his house for dinner, he would make a different salad with some veggies . The crunch of fresh lettuce with the fresh vegetables gives a feeling of fullness. After pestering PM a lot, he told me the secret of his fresh salads- adding Parsley in bunches!

Here is his quick fix salad.

Cucumber(seedless)- 1
Tomato-1
Red onion- Finely chopped- 1/4 cup
Parsley- at least 2 handfuls
Olive oil- 3 tsp
The usual Salt and Pepper to taste
Lemon juice- To taste (optional)

Method:
Remove the seeds from the tomato and chop it finely. If the cucumber has seeds, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and chop it.

Finely chop the parsley. In a bowl, combine the chopped cucumber, onion, tomato and parsley and mix well. You can refrigerate it as well. Just before serving add salt, pepper, Olive oil and toss well to coat. Add lemon juice if needed.

Most important thing to remember is to add fresh Parsley and add as much as you can. Adding Parsley gives a fresh look and taste to the salad. Do not add cilantro(coriander leaves), that gives a different taste.

Serve as such or on a bed of lettuce. Goes very well with toasted pita bread and hummus on the side.

This simple vegetable salad is my entry for Sudeshna’s The Salad Carnival.

This no cook salad is also going to PJ’s No cook Event.

Though my garden is gone due to the snow in Texas(!!), some winter vegetables survived the freezing conditions. Actually, they grew so well and so fast in the snow. The first harvest of this season are Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts.

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