Dahi Baigan ( Egg Plants in a spiced yoghurt gravy )

I thank the days I miss home food, for on days as these I get down to prepare some Oriya delicasies. And this time it was Dahi Baingan that soothed my nostalgic stomach.
Dahi Baigan is a traditional Oriya dish normally served with flavoured rice or just as a curry with white rice, but it's best served with Kanina, a sweet flavoured rice that's so typical of an Oriya platter. It's basically fried egg plants dipped in spiced yoghurt and best for the sunny afternoons when you need something light, filling and cooling to go with your main course.

3 medium sized egg plants cut in quarters length wise
1 medium sized onion
1 inch chopped ginger
2-3 pods of garlic
4 green chillies slit length wise
10-12 curry leaves
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asofitida seeds
1 cup of yoghurt

Heat the oil in a deep pan. Add the mustard, asofitida and cumin seeds followed by the curry leaves. Let all the seeds crackle off.
Add the chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies and cook them till they give off their aroma.
Add the chopped onions and cook them till they are translucent.
Add the egg plants followed by all the powders and and give everything a good mix. Cover the pan and let the egg plant cook for 10 min.
Check if the egg plants are cooked. they should be tender but should be firm at the same time.
Put off the flame and let the egg plants cool down a bit.
Mix 1 cup of water with the yoghurt and mix them well. It should have the consistency of a batter.
Pour in the yoghurt in the cooked egg plants mixing them gently.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and have it with hot steaming rice :-)

Coconut Mint Corainder Chutney

No South Indian Breakfast is complete without the popular coconut chutney. This is perhaps the most frequently prepared dish in every South Indian home after rice. Whether it's dosa, idli, wada, pongal, lemon rice or upma, coconut chutney finds its way to the platter. This chutney is basically a mix of coconut along with herbs, lentils and tempering and at times just coconut paste diluted and tempered. This recipe is a version of the chutney prepared with mint and coriander leaves.

1 full coconut ( grated or chopped )
1/2 cup of mint leaves
1/2 cup of coriander leaves
( the leaves can be taken in greater quantity if you prefer the strong flavour of the herbs in your chutney )
3-4 green chillies
1/2 inch ginger
1 tbs yogurt
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbs channa (gram) dal
10-12 curry leaves

Put the coconut, mint leaves, coriander leaves, green chillies, ginger and salt in a grinder and grind them well adding water little by little till its a coarse paste.
Take the ground chutney out in a bowl.
Heat the oil for tempering.
Add mustard seeds, Channa dal and curry leaves to the oil. wait till it crackles off completely.
Add the tempering to the chutney and mix well with a spoon.
Add the yogurt and mix again.

Eggless Orange Cake with Apples

Cakes are such a versatile dessert that you can give it the flavour of just any thing under the sun and it absorbs the flavours of the ingredient well enough. But then there's a line of caution there as to not to try out just anything under the sun :-)
Well,Continuing with my penchant for desserts, I went on to experiment with a citrus twist on cake baking. And i choose oranges to flavour my cake.
A piece of advice here before you attempt your own orange cake. Be sure you would like the bitterly zingy orangy taste of the zest. If not scrape off the entire zest of the oranges you use for this cake. I personally prefer that hint of zesty taste so I go for every shred of it.
Ingredients :
200 gm condensed Milk
100 gm flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda bi carbonate
60 ml ( 80 gm ) melted butter
1 tsp orange essence
2 seedless oranges
2 apples peeled, cored and sliced.
Process :
Pre-heat the over to 180 C before starting with the preparation.

Cut the oranges into quarters, put them into a mixer along with the condensed milk, butter and orange essence.
Mix the flour, baking powder and soda bi carb.
Add the orange mix to the flour mix and fold them well.
Grease a baking tray with butter and sprinkle flour on the surface. You may put a butter paper at the bottom.
Layer the sliced apples at the bottom of the tray. Make at least two layers.
Pour in the batter into the baking tray and place it in the oven immediately.
Let the cake bake at 180 C for 25 min. Let it cool down when done.
It's best served hot with a dollop or orange marmalade or any other fruit jam that you would imagine to go well with an orangy spoonful :-)

Aloo-Gajar-Matar Subzi (Peas Carrot Potato Curry)

Potato is a universal favorite and it has been a  favorite of mine since childhood. Even today, when I go home, I crave for just one thing - simple potato fry. But we know it is not the ideal food if you are watching your weight. My husband insists there is potato in every curry I make. Now that is not possible always, but whenever it is I try to make it healthy. So, I made potato-carrot-peas curry (aloo-gajar-matar) which not only has the taste of potato(aloo) but also the goodness of carrot(gajar) and peas(matar). Gajar is optional but it brings a good color to the curry.

5-6 Boiled potatoes in salt and lightly smashed
1/2 cup green peas (matar)
1/2 cup carrots cut in to small pieces (gajar)
1 big onion copped
1 big tomato chopped
2 green chillis chopped
1/4 tsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
coriander leaves

Heat oil in a pan and put the cumin seeds. When they splutter, add the garlic, ginger paste and green chillis. Stir for few seconds.
Then add the onions and mix well. Once they get transparent, add the coriander powder and mix well.
Add the tomatoes then along with the turmeric powder and half of chilli powder. When the oil starts separating, add the carrots and mix well. Sprinkle a bit of water so that carrots can start getting cooked.
After about 3-4 minutes, add the potatoes and green peas. Add the salt and rest of the chilli powder and mix well. Add 1 cup water. Cover the vessel and let it cook. 
Keep stirring ocassionally. When the curry is thick or according to your liking, add the garam masala and mix well.
Garnish it with coriander leaves and turn off the heat. Serve hot with roti or rice.

Aloo Capsicum (Potato Capsicum) Fry

After a tiring day, what one would look for is a quick and easy dish that is both healthy and filling. Aloo Capsicum or potato capsicum fry is one such dish. I particularly like capsicum for its light spicy flavor that it lends to the entire dish. This is a very easy dish. Try it!

1 big capsicum cut in to medium pieces
1 big potato cut in to cubes
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 garam masala
Salt to taste

Heat oil in the pan. Once heated, put the cumin seeds and let them pop.
Put all the spices except for garam masala and let it mix with oil. Let the oil get the flavor of these spices. It should not take more than 3-4 seconds.
Then add the potato and capsicum and mix properly so that the spiced up oil coats the pieces properly. Add salt according to taste and mix well.
Sprinkle some water in it and on a low to medium heat, cook with a closed lid. Keep stir regularly so that the vegetables do not stick to the pan and burn. Add water whenever required.
Cook till the vegetables soften.
Then sprinkle the garam masala and mix well. Turn off the fire after couple of minutes.
Serve hot with roti or rice. 

Rice Stick Noodles with Stir Fried Vegetables and Tofu

Though I am fond of Indian cuisine ( I would prefer Indian to any other cuisine , anyday ), I do get a craving for something Oriental or European. And going to a restaurant to satisfy my cravings isn’t a solution most of the time. First cause good Chinese or Italian restaurants are quite expensive and my given my mood swings, I get the cravings at such ungodly hours that visiting a restaurant almost always stay out of question.

So to appease my hunger, rather specific hunger for specific flavour I do try my hands on noodles, pasta, gnocchi, soups etc etc. And I must say with pride, though not many, I have mastered some of the dishes that I regularly make.
Rice Stick Noodles with stir fired vegetables and Tofu is one of the dishes that I love so much. It’s one of the comfort foods that bring in the soothing hint of sweetness of rice along with the crunchy, sweet and sour bite of vegetables. Ah! Just writing about it makes me long for it now!!!
Hope you would like it as much as I did.

Rice Stick noodles ( you can use any ordinary noodles as substitute )
200 gms Firm Tofu ( if tofu is not available use paneer )
1 cup of chopped seasonal vegetables like carrots, bell peppers and cauliflowers
1 Tomato cut length wise
½ cup chopped spring onions
1 inch ginger chopped
4 pods of garlic chopped
2-3 green chillies slit length wise
2 tbs of red wine vinegar
1 tbs of Soy Sauce
1 tbs of roasted sesame seeds
Chopped Coriander leaves

Put water to boil in a pot. Add 1 tbs of red wine vinegar and 1 tsp of oil to it.
Take Rice stick noodles for one serving and put it in the boiling water. It would take around 10 minutes for the noodles to be ready. Keep swirling the noodles occasionally so that they don’t stick to each other.
While the noodles cook, cut the tofu into small cubes and shallow fry them till it gets light golden all around.
In another pan, heat 1 tbs of oil. Add chopped ginger, garlic and chillies to it and stir fry they till you get the aroma of burnt ginger and garlic.
Add the remaining vinegar and Soy Sauce and give it a brisk stir.
Add the spring onions followed by the chopped vegetables and tomatoes. Stir well and cover the pan and let the vegetables cook for 5-10 min on high flame.
Add the Tofu, Noodles. Season with salt and pepper and give everything a good mix.
Sprinkle the freshly roasted sesame seeds and coriander leaves all over and serve hot.

Lemon and Lentil Rasam

After I shifted to South India I have taken a great liking for the tangy and spicy Rasam. Born and brought up in the eastern part on India I never had the opportunity to taste this tangy elixir in its true form and hence had never developed a taste for this so popular dish. But today being in the south for the past 6 years and having tried my hands and mastered a part of the South Indian cuisine, I definitely place Rasam in my top 5 comfort foods. And when down with flu, it becomes the only comfort food for me J
Across the four southern states, Rasam is prepared differently in different places. If I have to list down the variety of Rasam recipes I know, I can almost list out at-least 10 of them!!!
Yesterday I prepared Lemon and Lentil Rasam and here’s the recipe….
½ cup Toor Dal
1 tbs tamarind paste
2 tbs lime juice
2 tps rasam powder
4 pods of garlic chopped
1 inch ginger chopped
1 tps pepper
10-12 curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves
Oil for tempering
Pressure cook the dal along with Rasam powder, tamarind, salt and turmeric powder.
Grind the boiled dal to a fine paste and add thrice the amount of water to it and put it boil again.
Heat oil in a kadai. Add mustard seeds and peppercorns and let them splutter. Follow it with curry leaves.
Add the chopped ginger and garlic and stir till they are give out their pungent aroma.
Add the tempering to the boiling dal and mix well.
Add the chopped coriander leaves and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes till it reduced to 3/4th of the amount so that the flavour of the tempering gets into the Rasam.
Add the lime juice at the end and simmer for another 2 minutes.

Cauliflower Pepper Mix Curry

I love the vegetable section of retail superstores.The color, the fresh smell of veggies attract me to them and I usually end up buying vegetables that I don't know how to cook. But I buy them anyway because they look so good. That is what I did this weekend when I picked the colorful pepper trio - red, yellow and orange pepper! See some very colorful pictures of them here and you would know why. :)
I was disappointed to find that I did not really find any recipe that included all three. I decided to go the traditional way and make a mix vegetable curry.

2 tsb vegetable oil
1 cup cauliflower florets
1/2 cup red pepper pieces
1/2 cup yellow pepper pieces
1/2 cup orange pepper pieces (you can use green pepper also)
1 cup potato cut in to cubes
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 big onion chopped
1 big tomato chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1/2 garam masala
coriander leaves

Heat oil in the cooking vessel. When hot, add the cumin seeds and let it splutter.
Add the ginger paste and stir for few seconds. Then add the onion in it. Stir to mix it with ginger.
After couple of minutes, add garlic paste and mix properly. Add the coriander powder to the onion and mix. Stir regularly till the onion is brown in color.
Add the tomato to the mix and stir well. When the tomato starts cooking, add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and mix well. Add a bit of water to make it a paste.
Once the tomato is cooked and the contents look like a paste, add all the vegetables in it. Mix properly to coat them with the paste. Add salt, water and mix well. Do not add too much water. It should be added only to help the vegetables soak the flavor. Cook with a lid covered.
Stir the vegetables at regular intervals till they become soft. 
Once soft, add the garam masala and mix well. You can add the coriander leaves at this point and cover the lid. Let it cook for couple of minutes and turn off the fire.
Serve hot with rice or roti.

Coconut Cake with White Chocolate Ganache

I am a big fan of desserts... though am equally conscious of my ever fluctuating waistline, I don't mind indulging in a fat rich platter that satisfies my craving for sweet nirvana at times. Being fond of cooking and a dessert lover it's no wonder that I do get myself pepped up with a new dessert once in a while... and I must say, it's a different cooking experience. When the sweet aroma flows out of the pot and fills the house I could just sit with my eyes closed and get lost in a meditative world carried in a magical aromatic cloud of cardomom, cinnamon or vanilla. Ah!!! the thought itself is bliss...
Last week I was invited to a friend's Sister's b'day and I decided to bake her a cake after failing to decide what would be the best gift to buy her. So I prepared coconut cake with white chocolate ganache. Did she like it? She loved it!!!

Ingredients :
200 gm condensed Milk
80 gm flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda bi carbonate
60 ml ( 80 gm ) melted butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup grated coconut
1 cup Almonds ( Soaked in rose water overnight and chopped )
250 gms white cooking chocolate
100 gm fresh cream

Process :
Cake :

Pre-heat the over to 180 C before starting with the preparation.

Mix the flour, baking powder and soda bi carb
Add condensed milk, melted butter, grated coconut, essence and two table spoons of water and beat gently.
Grease a baking tray with butter and sprinkle flour on the surface. You may put a butter paper at the bottom.
Pour in the batter into the baking tray and place it in the oven immediately.
Let the cake bake at 180 C for 25 min. Let it cool down when done.

Ganache :

In a double boiler ( put a vessel filled with water on the burner and then place another vessel in it such that it get's heat only from the boling water underneath ) put the fresh cream and let it come to a boil.
Add chunks of white cooking chocolate and stir till it's all melted and mixed with the cream.
Let it cool.

Cut the cake in half horizontally.
Soak both the halfs with the rose water in which the almonds were soaked.
Spread a fourth of the white chocolate ganache on one of the halfs and put the other half on top of it.
Pour in the remaining ganache on top and let it run down the sides of the cake on it's own.
Sprinkle all the chopped almonds on top and put the cake in the refrigerator so as to solidify the ganache and stop it from running down too much.

Coconut cake would be ready in 10 min :-)

Gobi Masala - Without Onion

There are times when the unthinkable happens. Like missing onions at home. Yes, it happens and it happened with me today. I had no onions, no potatoes and as if God planned it, I just had cauliflower and tomato as my main ingredients. Then I thought it would be a great experiment which my friends, has been very successful. Presenting Gobi masala without onions. 

4 cup Cauliflower florets - cut and soaked in turmeric water
4 Tbs Tomato puree - or thickly blended
3 green chillies
1 inch ginger
4 cloves garlic
Turmeric Powder
Chilli Powder
Coriander Powder
Coriander Leaves for garnishing

Put oil in a pan and let is heat. Put the cauliflower florets and fry them till lightly brown. Remove and keep it aside.
Make a paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Heat oil in the same pan and put the ginger-garlic-green chillies paste in it. Stir while it gets sauted.
Then add the tomato puree or paste and mix it properly.
Add the chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and salt. Mix properly.
Wait till the paste cooks and oil separates from the mixture. Then add the cauliflower florets. Mix it properly and add a cup of water. 
Keep a lid and let it soften. 
When the cauliflowers are softened according to your preference, add the coriander leaves and mix. Keep it on heat for couple of more minutes.
Turn off the heat and serve hot with rice.

Aloo Fry - Andhra Style

Andhra food is known for its tangy flavor and simplicity and this recipe is just that. A simple potato fry with typical Andhra tempering (called "Popu" in Telugu) and little lemon juice that is a regular in most Andhra homes. It is very simple to make and can be enjoyed by one and all.

4 medium sized boiled potatoes with salt and turmeric
3 green chillies cut in to pieces
1/2 inch ginger finely chopped (can use readymade ginger paste)
1 tsb lemon juice
For tempering (popu):
1 tsp Urad dal
1 tsp Chana dal
1 tsp Mustard seeds
Pinch of Asafetida/Hing

Put oil in a pan and let it heat. Add the tempering ingredients in it. Let the mustard seeds pop. Add the hing.
Then put the chopped ginger and green chillies and stir for few seconds.
Add the boiled potatoes and mix the mixture properly.
Add salt according to taste.
After 3-4 minutes, add the lemon juice and mix properly.
Leave it for another couple of minutes and then put off the fire.
Serve hot with phulkas or rice.

Ghuguni - Dry Peas Curry

When homesick there's nothing better than indulging in the very typical home food and that's what I did few days back.
Ghuguni, translated to spiced dry peas curry, holds such prominent position in Oriya cuisine that it was my choice of cure for homesickness. This humble dish is the ubiquitous side dish for most of Oriya breakfast and supper  platters, whether it's with pitha ( Oriya name for Dosa ), Dahi Vada ( Oriyas have a completely different species of this south Indian delicacy ) and the universal puris not to forget Ghuguni also has its place along with Rice and Chappatis as well.
Well I cured my homesickness with this humble dish and it made my day reminding me of the sultry Bhubaneswar summer when mom used to prepare Ghuguni with Pitha.
Ingredients : 
250 gms dry yellow/green peas
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 medium sized tomatoes
1 inch ginger chopped
4 pods of garlic chopped
1 tbs cumin powder
1 tbs coriander powder
1/2 tbs turmeric powder
1/2 tbs chilli powder
salt to taste
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
10-12 Curry leaves
Refined oil
Preparation :
Wash and soak the dry yellow/green peas overnight.
Pressure cook the peas in the water it was soaked in for 15 minutes or till done. Let it cool.
Heat oil in a kadai on medium high flame. Add the mustard seeds and let it crackle out. Reduce the flame to low.
Add curry leaves, chopped ginger and garlic and stir till the ginger garlic gives out a slighty burnt aroma.
Add the chopped onions and stir and cook till it's translucent follwed by the chopped tomatoes and all the spice powders. Mix well and cover the kadai to let the tomato lose its water and marry with the spices.
After 5 min stir it again and mash the tomatoes so as to give the mix a paste like consistency. Let it cook for another 5-10 min.
Add the bolied peas and mix well. Simmer for 10 min.
Ghuguni is ready!!!