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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Masala Dhokla

I use this when I have leftover curry to use up and I don't want to serve it again with plain rice - the Masala Dhokla is a quick and easy way to vary the meal.

You can use any fairly dry leftover curry, such as chole, channa masala, any potato curry that doesn't have a lot of gravy, etc.

Make the dhokla as per below - it's a "quick" dhokla recipe that doesn't require any fermentation and only takes a few minutes to mix up.

Pour the dhokla into the greased cake pan per the directions below. Let it set up for about 3 mins in the steamer, then spoon small amounts of your curry over the surface of the dhokla (for safety's sake remove the steamer from the pan so you don't get a steam burn while doing this). Then simply replace in the steamer and continue to cook. Voila, easy, quick Masala Dhokla!

1 cup besan (chickpea) flour
2 T cream of wheat (farina, semolina, rava)
1/2 tsp Fruit Fresh or citric acid or Eno salt
Salt to taste

Stir dry ingredients together

2 tsp ginger paste
1 green chili, finely minced
1 T light sesame oil
1.5 c water

Mix well with a wire whip or a fork

Add 1.5 tsp baking powder and another 1/2 tsp of the Fruit Fresh or citric acid crystals, or 2 tsp of Eno salt. Mix well but quickly.

Let the batter sit while you bring water to boil in a steamer or dutch oven with a cake rack in the bottom. When it reaches the simmering point, turn the heat down to keep it at the simmer (covered) and pour one-half the batter into a greased 8" cake pan.

Set the pan in the top half of a steamer or on the rack in your dutch oven. Cover the pan.

The water should not touch the cake pan, you will have to watch and add water if it gets too low during the steaming process. This shouldn't be to much trouble if you keep it at the simmer and keep it covered.

The batter should be done in 13 minutes or so (less without the masala). Use a knife to test for doneness (just like a cake).

Remove from the steamer and loosen the edges of the dhokla with a knife. Put a plate over the top of the cakepan and flip the whole thing out to flip it out of the cake pan. You may have to shake it a few times to get it to drop out. Then put another plate over the plate with the dhokla on it (which is now upside down) and flip again, to get it right side up. Serve with ghee.

Simple as that!

Honey Apple Mango bread

Honey Apple Mango Loaf

I made this up to enter a contest on Manjula's Kitchen site for a desert that incorporates apples. I could have used just apples but I was in a mood for something a bit more complicated. So Honey Apple Mango it is!

Hey, at least I controlled myself enough not to drop in the raisins I was contemplating adding as well.

I would normally have made this with egg but the contest rules specified eggless, so I used apple-banana baby food to replace the eggs. You could use real mashed bananas or applesauce or any combination thereof, but I keep the baby food on hand for small tasks like this because (a) it's handy and (b) I have a bazillion uses for baby food jars and never have any on hand. I would have preferred to use just plain banana baby food in this case because you get better binding from bananas, and frankly probably real bananas would have been best, but just about anything in the apple-banana line as an egg replacement would do.

I seriously contemplated using the silken tofu, but when push came to shove, I just wasn't ready to try it. Besides, I really need some baby food jars - I'm out of empty small jars and I have stuff to put in 'em!

It made a nice, moist loaf. Next time I would leave the chunks a little larger - I diced them about the size of, well, actual dice. You can see chunks in the bread but they cooked quite thoroughly, so larger chunks would have been fine.

It came out great:

Honey Apple Mango Loaf

* 8 T (one stick, 1/2 c) SOFTENED butter
* 2/3 c brown sugar
* 1 T vanilla
* 1 t cinnamon
* 1/2 heaping tsp ground cardamom
* 1/2 tsp nutmeg
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 T honey
* 2 T mango puree (OPTIONAL)
* 2 eggs OR add 1 tsp baking powder to dry ingredients plus one of the following
  • 1/2 c silken tofu (blended with the rest of the liquids)
  • 1/2 c mashed bananas
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 1/2 c (about 1 4oz size jar) banana/apple baby food
* 1 medium size apple, peeled, cored, and cubed
* large ripe mango, pitted, peeled, and cubed
* 10 oz by weight All Purpose flour

In case you don't know how to peel a mango, watch this video

I used the baby food option for this. I think the mashed bananas as a substitute for the eggs would have been a little better maybe, but I didn't have any bananas, so baby food it was!

  1. Take out one stick (4 oz, 1/2 c) butter to let it soften. GIVE IT SOME TIME - a couple hours in advance at least.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  3. Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Yes, all at once, it works out just fine! Beat til it has a smooth consistency.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the apples, mango, and flour, and beat till smooth again. I do this in my Kitchenaid stand mixer with the wire whip.
  5. Replace the wire whip with the beater blade, scrape the bowl down, and stir in the diced fruit, just to incorporate.
  6. Stir in the flour on a low speed, stirring just to mix. You want a smooth mixture but don't over beat it or it will be heavy and dense.
  7. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan (I use vegetable shortening and a Pyrex pan, but butter or veg. oil would work) and pour the batter in. Smooth the top so it's more or less even-ish.
  8. Bake in a 350 F oven for 55 mins to an hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cover the top with foil towards the end if it is browning too fast.
  9. Let cool, slice and serve.

Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with the remaining 2 3/4c of mango pulp.... oh, the burdens of the baker!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Allagada Podi

This is a variation of potato curry that includes some spices I don't typically cook with when making Indian food. It's a tasty change of pace.

  • 3 T oil - peanut or mustard oil, or 1/2 veg oil and 1/2 ghee
  • 3 to 4 med red potatoes, about 1 1/3 lbs
  • 1 large onion, diced or thinly sliced
  • OPTIONAL 2 roma style tomatoes, cubed, or 1 sm can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp poppy seed
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • OPTIONAL 1 T UNSWEETENED coconut flakes
  • 2 to 3 green chili, to taste
  • 1.5 tsp ginger
  • 1.5 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp chana dal
  • 1 tsp black mustard seed
  • 8-12 curry leaves
  • 1/8 tsp clove powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of turmeric (scant 1/8 tsp)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 T plain, unflavored yoghurt
  • Coriander leaves, chopped, as garnish

Cut the potatoes into cubes, slices, or shoestring style strips. Cut the onions and set both aside.

In a coffee or spice grinder (used only for spices), grind the poppy seeds, coriander powder, and sesame seeds. Also the coconut, if you are using it. Set aside in a small bowl.

Measure out the ginger paste and minced garlic and set aside, mixed together, in another small bowl. Add the minced green chili to this bowl as well.

Put the cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon in another small bowl.

Measure the turmeric out into a small bowl and set aside with the other pre-measured spices.

Heat the oil in a pan. Which oil you choose will have an effect on the flavor of the dish. Note that mustard seed oil is more sensitive to heat than peanut oil or ghee; I prefer peanut oil for this dish myself.

Add the chana dal to the oil as it heats. When the chana starts to fry, add the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start to crackle, quickly stir in the cardamom, clove, and cinnamon mixture.

When the mustard seeds start to actually pop, add the curry leaves and then quickly add the onion and turmeric and fry for a few minutes until they start to brown, stirring frequently.

Add the ground poppy seed, sesame seed, and coriander powder (and coconut if you are using it) mixture and stir well, IMMEDIATELY add the tomatoes and the potatoes. Stir quickly, sprinkle on the salt, then stir to coat the potato pieces evenly. Turn heat down to med, cover, and let the potatoes cook, stirring occasionally, until they just barely begin to soften.

Turn the heat up to med high, uncover, and fry the potatoes. As they brown, turn them gently, sort of like a hash brown. Do not stir as this will break up the potato pieces. When they have browned sufficient unto your taste, add the plain yoghurt if you have it, then sprinkle with the torn or minced coriander and serve with rice, naan, chappati or puri.