Medhu vada · Urad Dal Vada

Urad Dal Vada – Medhu Vada – Ulundhu Vadai

Fried Vada

This small break was not intended. The recipe I wanted to share with you all was ready a long time ago. I couldn’t find the time to pen it down. So here I am after a couple of months.
Urad dal Vada is a favorite in my family. It’s a must during all religious occasions and celebrations. In my family, we pair Urad dal vadas with payasam, peanut or coconut chutney and Sambar. But Mr.S’s family eats them with meat dishes. When I first heard of it, it sounded blasphemous. The mighty Vada which is served to  God is paired with meat?!! What is the world coming to? Anyways, as has been the case with a lot of situations I accepted the meat combo and he accepted the payasam combo! And peace prevailed!
Coming back to the Vada, it’s highly nutritious with black urad dal being the primary ingredient. Take a look at Wiki page and you will know. But it’s deep fried in oil and that’s not very healthy. Whatever the case, I did not master Vada making till last year. Sometimes, instructions when passed by word of mouth or even when demoed do not hit the right chord. Vada making was one such case. My batter was either too thin or too thick. I had a hard time shaping it and ended up just dropping spoonfuls into hot oil and calling it a day. 
Then one day out of the blue, the batter was just perfect. I was able to shape it without much fuss and yummy delicious, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside vadas was a reality in my kitchen. 
Months flew by and a couple of donut pans got added to my kitchen. I was wondering if I could bake vadas and I stumbled upon this blog. Thank you Tina Dawson! Inspired I made the usual vada batter, added some baking powder and baking soda, spooned it into donut pans, baked and danced with joy at the outcome! Mr.S and Miss.T joined too! 🙂 Baked vadas were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. A total win!
I tried using a baking sheet instead of donut pans and found that vadas did not puff up and were rather flat. They were not crunchy either.
Onto the recipe now..
Urad Dal Vada – Ulundhu Vada – Medhu Vada:
Ingredients:
Urad dal/black gram dal – 1 cup
Salt – As per taste
Black Pepper – 1 tsp (optional)
Green Chillies – 4 (optional)
Onion – 1 big, finely chopped (optional)
Coriander – 5 to 6 strands, minced(optional)
Curry Leaves – 5, minced (optional)
To bake:
Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp 
Baking Powder – 1/2 tsp
Soak urad dal for 3 hours. Rinse a few times. Soak in water again. Scoop the dal from the water and add it to the blender/food processor. Note that the water which is dripping from the dal is enough for it to be blended to a thick smooth batter. If the blender/food processor is not spinning, add a few tablespoons of water, one at a time. 
Stir in salt and the other optional ingredients. 
To Deep Fry:
To deep fry in oil, heat a pan with enough oil for vadas to submerge. Oil should not get too hot. When it is medium hot, wet your hands, scoop up some batter, flatten it and slide it into the oil. Optionally you can also make a hole in each vada before dropping it in oil. Fry till golden brown and remove.
Baked Vada
Vadas Shaped In a Donut Pan
To Bake:
To bake, preheat your oven to 450F. Mix in baking powder and baking soda into the batter. Apply oil generously to the donut pans, scoop or pipe the batter into the pans and bake for 12 mins. Keep a watch from 10 mins onwards. You are looking for a browned edge. Flip the vadas in the donut pans and bake for another 8 to 10 mins. A toothpick inserted into the vadas should come out clean.
Vadas Shaped On A Baking Sheet
Vadas Baked On A Baking Sheet

We normally pair vadas with peanut chutney. Here’s the recipe for that:
Peanut Chutney:
Roasted, unsalted peanuts – 1 cup
Water – 1.5 cups
Garlic – 1 big clove or 2 small ones
Jeera/Cumin – 1/2 tsp
Tamarind – Size of half of a lemon (U.S sized)
Red Chillies or Green Chillies – 4
Grind till smooth. Add a seasoning of mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves and a pinch of hing/asafetida.
Cake · Eggless Tuuti Frutti Cake · Tutti Frutti Cake with Eggs

Tutti Frutti Cake

Tutti Frutti Cake
It’s no secret that Miss.T is a picky eater especially when it comes to school lunch. She can be seen happily chatting away with the other kids at her table while they are busy chowing down their lunch. By the time we pick her up from aftercare, we have a hangry kid on our hands. We tried everything from using cutters to cut fruit and sandwiches into cute shapes to bargaining and bribing. All of them work for a little while. And we cycle through them in a round robin fashion. The latest trick up my sleeve is to send in a piece of cake as dessert.

It’s incentive to make her take a few mouthfuls of the main item and a few nibbles of the vegetables and fruits in her lunch box. And mind you, the cake cannot be anything other than tutti frutti cake. Tutti frutti is nothing but candied and colored raw papaya. So add some to a white or yellow cake and you have colorful tutti frutti cake with those tiny pockets of sweetness. Let’s see how long this will work.. 😉

I make this cake both with eggs and without eggs. The recipe credit for eggless cakes goes to Smitha Kalluraya of Cook With Smile and for the version with eggs the credit goes to Sailaja of Sailu’s Food.
Both turned out good. I prefer the egg version for the nutritional content but taste wise both versions score equal points.
I use store-bought tutti frutti in a cinch but I prefer the ones I make at home using natural colors. I will share that process with you in a separate post.
The latest addition to my baking utensils is this lovely bundt pan from Amazon. Note that this pan can take twice the quantity of batter this recipe makes.
Eggless Tutti Frutti Cake:

Ingredients:
Thick plain unsweetened yogurt – 1 cup
Sugar – 3/4 cup
All Purpose Flour – 1.5 cups
Oil – 1/2 cup
Baking Powder – 1 and 1/4 tsps
Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp
Vanilla Extract – 1.5 tsps
Salt – A pinch
Tutti Frutti – 1 cup

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a loaf pan or a bundt pan. Whisk together yogurt and sugar till sugar is dissolved. Add baking powder and baking soda to the yogurt mixture, stir and set aside for 5 mins. The mixture would have bubbled up by now. To this, add vanilla extract, salt and oil and stir them in gently taking care not to let the bubbles subside. Next add the flour and fold it in gently. Lastly mix in tutti frutti. Pour into the greased pan and bake for 40 mins or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool and serve.
————————————————————-
Tutti Frutti Cake with Eggs:

Ingredients:
Eggs – 2
Milk – 1/2 cup
Sugar – 3/4 cup
All Purpose Flour – 2 cups
Butter – 1/2 cup, softened
Baking Powder – 2 tsps
Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp
Vanilla Extract – 2 tsps
Salt – A pinch
Tutti Frutti – 1 cup

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a loaf pan or a bundt pan. Sieve together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Cream butter and sugar till smooth and creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat till well combined. Add vanilla extract and stir it in. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with milk and starting and ending with flour. Mix until just combined. Fold in tutti frutti. Pour into the greased pan and bake for 40 mins or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool and serve.

Muffins · Rava · Suji

Rava Muffins

Rava Muffins
T is a picky eater. 
T is a picky and slow eater.
T is a picky and slow eater only when it comes to food she doesn’t normally enjoy. That narrows it down to anything which is not chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Not once, I repeat, not once was there a need to remind her to finish her chocolate or vanilla ice cream. And not once did she finish her lunch or dinner without a million reminders!
Every morning, her lunch is crafted carefully with the hope her lunch box will come back empty. Nutella or cheese sandwiches cut into animal shapes using these molds. Cucumbers, carrots, olives, grapes or apples cut and filled into the recesses of the lunch box. And the ever familiar phrase which I mumble even in my sleep ‘Finish your lunch, sweetie!’.
And every evening, there would be left overs dotted with reasons ‘Mommy, I didn’t have time.’, ‘Mommy, there was too much food. I have a small tummy.’ 
Now you get the idea. I am always on the hunt for recipes which would entice her into eating every single morsel. I can’t blame her, because I was a picky eater when I was a kid. I have grown out of it which gives hope that T would get better too.
Rava, also Suji, an Indian term for semolina is extensively used in my kitchen. From the humble upma to the delicious kesari, rava is used in a wide variety of recipes. My go to recipe on week nights and weekend brunches is rava idly. It’s very easy to make and paired with a chutney, makes a satisfying meal. 
Today, instead of steaming the batter in idly molds, I decided to bake in muffin molds. The result was scrumptious. The muffins held their shape and were still soft enough. They can absolutely go into a lunch box either for office or school. Easy to handle and easy to dunk into a chutney or sambar, these rava muffins were a winner. 
Rava Muffin Recipe:
Rava/Suji – 1 cup
Plain Yogurt – 2 cups
Baking Soda – 1/4 tsp
Salt – As per taste
Onion – 1 medium (finely chopped)
Carrots – 2 (peeled and grated)
Minced Ginger – 1 tsp (optional)
Minted Coriander – 1tbsp (optional)
Roast rava till it turns light brown. Add yogurt, baking soda and salt and stir till the ingredients are blended without any lumps. Keep it aside for 5 mins. Then stir in the onion, carrot, ginger and coriander. 
You can pour this batter into a greased baking pan or muffin tray and bake at 360F for 20 mins. I poured the batter into muffin molds and air fried it at 360F for 15 mins. I use my air fryer for baking too. I find it convenient than having to fire up a big oven.
The muffins are done when a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let rest for 10 mins and enjoy with peanut or coconut chutney or a little sugar. 
As to whether T gobbled this up without a fuss is a story for another day!

Amazing Grass · Banana · Breakfast · Dates · Milk · Yogurt

Breakfast Smoothie

Breakfast Smoothie
Breakfast Smoothie

Winter is fast approaching.. the days are colder and nights even more.. Summer clothes have been packed away.. Plants are wilting.. The few which need to be saved like my beloved banana plant and my curry leaf plant have been brought indoors…The last few weeks were riddled with episodes of cough, cold and sore throats. Hubby was down with a bad respiratory infection for three weeks and is slowly getting back to normalcy. T is ok. I caught a sore throat which is steadily becoming a cough. Inspite of these minor inconveniences which cold weather brings, I simply love winter. I eagerly look forward to the first snow every year. My family usually finds me standing by the window transfixed watching the delicate snowflakes fall to the ground. Oh, it’s a magical sight! I never cease to wonder at this marvel of nature. As if shaking me out of my reverie, a cough or a sniffle would echo through the room, bringing me back to reality.
When T was little, she was a picky eater and had frequent episodes of cold and cough. One particular year was very hard with multiple visits to the ER. In her case, a cold turns into a cough and a cold cannot be avoided in daycare. The only logical way was to strengthen her immune system. I started looking for an immunity booster and found Amazing Grass. I had used it before and it helped stopped my allergies within a week. There was no harm in giving it a try. If T benefits from it, what more could I ask for?
But how do I make her take it? I usually have a scoop mixed into juice or water and gulp it down. T drinking it that way is not going to happen even in the wildest of my dreams. That’s when this smoothie came to the rescue. Did I tell you that T was a picky eater? I started her on this smoothie when she was 2 years old. It packed a good amount of calories, enough to kick start the day. And even if she didn’t eat much the rest of the day, the calorie count tallied because of the smoothie.
So, to this miraculous smoothie I added a scoop of Amazing Grass and T drank it upwithout a fuss. Her health did improve and to this day, I trust this smoothie and the green powder.
Let’s take a look at the recipe:
Breakfast Smoothie Recipe:
Banana – 1
Raw almonds – 5
Pitted/Seedless Dates – 3
Milk – 1/2 Cup
Plain Yogurt – 1/3 cup
Amazing Grass for Kids – 1 scoop (Optional)
Blend till smooth. I use a Vitamix. In case your blender doesn’t ground almonds finely, use almond flour. Banana adds a definite smoothness to the drink. You can add berries or other fruits to the mix as well.

Frittata · Pinacolada Smoothie · Vegetable Frittata

Onion Spinach Frittata and Pina Colada Smoothie

Onion Spinach Frittata
Today was yet another Sunday where thoughts of reviving this blog were playing peek-a-boo as usual. Of late, family and friends were enquiring when they would see a post. Sure, that was encouraging but of the umpteen things which occupied the week ranging from work, home and school activities, blogging always took a backseat. Did I mention that my toddler is now a second grader??

I was planning on a post for almost 5 years and even though I had made many recipes worthy of a blog post, my past experience with plagiarism and the fact that the pages of many of my fellow bloggers like Indira and Saffron Hut were dormant didn’t do much to stir me from my stupor. 

It was raining and I had just settled down with a cup of espresso. T was playing a game on her iPad and asked me how watermelon jam would taste. I promptly and proudly showed her a picture of it on this space. What followed were questions arising out of awe and curiosity as is expected from a 7 year old, “Did you make that?” “Who took a photo of that?” “What is a blog?’ and finally “Can we post something?”.

Her choice for lunch and the post was an omelette. When I told her we need to make it special with vegetables, she sighed and said ‘Ok, I will eat all the vegetables you add to it.” 

That, my friends was my inspiration! 🙂
Over the years, I have added a few appliances to my kitchen counter. Notably, the Philips Air Fryer and the Instant Pot stand out for their convenience.   

With the advent of the Instant Pot in my kitchen over the past few months, life has become a little easier. Though Indians are no stranger to stove top pressure cookers, Instant Pot has revolutionized that space with it’s ‘No Supervision Needed’ model. The Air Fryer helps by making delectables with less oil. Another use of the Air Fryer is to use it in the place of an oven.
For today’s veggie omelette or frittata, I used the Air Fryer instead of firing up the oven. Along with the frittata, I made a Pina Colada smoothie. I simply love the combination of pineapple, banana and coconut.
Onion Spinach Frittata Recipe:

3 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream/milk/half and half
1/2 of a small onion, minced
Handful of fresh spinach or frozen chopped spinach 
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheese as per taste ( I used mozzarella and quite a lot as you can see from the picture!)

Beat the eggs with the heavy cream/milk/half and half. Add salt and black pepper. Stir in the onion and spinach.
Pour the egg mixture into a greased baking dish. Bake in the air fryer at 360F for 8 mins. Sprinkle cheese on top and let it brown for another 2 or 3 mins.
In case you are using the oven, bake it at 400F for 8 to 10 mins.
You can add whatever you fancy to the frittata. Vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, potato, broccoli and cauliflower, meat like chicken, ham, sausage and non-meat options like tofu and soya chunks are all welcome. 
Pina Colada Smoothie:

Pina Colada Smoothie

Pina Colada Smoothie Recipe:

1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 banana
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup water
Add everything listed to the blender and blend till smooth. Add honey if needed. Enjoy!

Overall, I feel very good that I checked off one item from my procrastination list, thanks to T! And the lunch was yummy too.. Give it a try! 

Uncategorized

I am back!

Its been three long years since i wrote on this page of mine. I was busy battling a few travails that life sent my way. But in the end i have emerged victorious. Thank you God! 

I am now a mother to a 2 yr old and needless to say she keeps me busy. So time in the kitchen means cooking the barest minimum required to satiate both hunger and the palate. 

Nevertheless I want to continue with this blog, so stay tuned for some yummy recipes, good photographs and of course meaningful stories.

Uncategorized

Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

This post has been pending for way too long…The last few months have been very busy for us and blogging has taken a back seat. It was more of a cook comething, eat something and rush kind of routine, with no memory of what was eaten. So, where is the space for a camera here? 🙂

But anyway, today I made it a point to publish this simple recipe. We had gone vegetable picking twice over the last two months. Of the bounty which was gathered, were Cherry tomatoes – Wickedly red, deliciously ripe and mildly sweet. I have not tried them in anything other than a salad, to be devoured raw.

Here is one more of my pasta recipes, which I make very often:
Uncooked Pasta ( Any small variety like elbows, penne) – 2 Cups
Cherry Tomatoes – 2 to 3 Cups – Halved
Onion – 1 Medium – Finely Chopped
Capsicum – 1 Big – Finely Chopped
Garlic Powder – 1 to 1.5 Tbsp
Black Pepper – As per taste
Salt – To season the pasta water and additionally – As per taste
For the Dressing:
Olive oil – 1/4 Cup
Lemon Juice – Juice from 1/2 a lime
Boil pasta as per the instructions on the package. Drain into a big bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the ingredients listed for the dressing and mix well. To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Pour over the pasta and mix well. Set aside for 15 mins and serve. It can be served hot or cold.
Plum or Romano tomatoes can be used instead of Cherry tomatoes. Reduce the quantity a bit and use about 1 and a half tomatoes.

Bechamel · Penne · Spinach

Creamy Penne with Spinach And Peas

Creamy Spinach Peas Penne

This is one of my favorite pasta recipes and I make it very often. The sauce used is the mother of all sauces, the Bechamel. Nutmeg is a must in bechamel and blends with the milk to create an enticing base.

Think Nutmeg

Recipe:

Uncooked Pasta – 1 Cup ( Any small variety like penne, elbows, shells)

Garlic Powder – 1 Tbsp

Black Pepper Powder – 1/2 Tbsp

Lime Juice – From 1 Lime

For the Bechamel Sauce:

Milk – 1 Cup

Butter – 1 1/4 Tbsp

All Purpose Flour – 1 Tbsp

Ground Nutmeg – 1/8 tsp

Salt – As per taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir till smooth. Let it cook for a couple of minutes till it turns a sandy color. Do not burn it. Next add the milk and whisk to remove any lumps. Cook till the sauce thickens, and keep stirring all the while to prevent lumps. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.

Cook a cup of pasta as per the instructions on the pasta container. Drain. Saute a cup of frozen peas and 3 handfuls of spinach leaves, using a little oil. Cook till done.

Add the sauce to the drained pasta, along with the sauteed vegetables. Add 1 Tbsp garlic powder and 1/2 Tbsp black pepper. Next add the juice of 1 lime. Adjust salt according to taste. Mix well and serve.

The nutmeg in the bechamel sauce adds a very distinct flavor and binds the rest of the ingredients superbly in this simple pasta dish. This recipe goes to ‘Think Spice’ event initially started by Sunita of Sunita’s World and being hosted by Aparna of ‘My Diverse Kitchen’. Aparna has chosen Nutmeg as the star ingredient this month.