Monday, November 25, 2013

Quickie Breakfast : Rava Dosa

As a child I remember having competition with my elder brother as to who would eat more rava dosas. I just love rava dosas and relive those days each time I make rava dosa for breakfast.

This time my hubby topped it up with making a heart shaped dosa for me making this dish even more special.

Rawa Dosa is very simple to make and with a simple spicy coconut chutney, can transport you to seventh heaven.

Preparation Time : 10 minutes
Cooking time : 5 minutes or less

Ingredient (Serves 4) :

  1. Rawa - 1/2 cup
  2. Maida - 1/2 cup
  3. Rice flour - 1/2 cup
  4. 1 medium onion chopped
  5. jeera/cumin seeds - 2 tbsp
  6. black pepper corns - 1 tbsp
  7. cashew bits or halves - 3-4 tbsp
  8. Coriander leaves - chopped optional
  9. Oil - 1 tbsp
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Water
How I made it:
  1. Mix the rawa, maida and rice flour with sufficient water such that the water is about 1 inch above the solids. Don't worry you don't need to get this right at first go. You will see as you read through.
  2. Leave that aside for an hour or so. The solids would settle at the bottom. Ensure now that the water level is at least 1 inch above that of the solids. This adjusts the thickness of the dosa. More water makes it a paper thin roast.
  3. Add the chopped onions, green chillies, chopped coriander, pepper corns. If the cashew bits are roasted, add them as is, else add them in the next step.
  4. Heat oil in a takda pan
  5. Put the jeera and cashew bits. 
  6. Once the jeera is crachling and cashew bits are light brown, add to the dosa batter mix. 
  7. Adjust the salt.
  8. Now, heat a flat pan or tawa.
  9. Pour a ladleful of the dosa mix and swirl it around on the pan, taking care not to let it drop off the sides of the pan/tawa.
  10. Cook on high heat till it starts to brown. 
  11. Flip it over and cook for about 30 seconds.
  12. Serve hot.
Make sure you serve these with a spicy chutney.

Tips :
  • If the dosas are sticky, could be that the maida is more so reduce the maida and replace the reduced quantity with rice flour. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Shakespear Regional Park, North Island

A perfect weekend getaway in summer would be the Shakespear Regional Park, 40 minutes away from Auckland city. It is a peninsular which now boasts of an Open Sanctuary. Gates are open from 6am to 9pm and there are options for camping onsite as well but you do need to book apriori if planning to camp. There is also the YMCA lodge where you could get to stay for the night. However, for an unplaned weekend, this is a good option when you decide an outing on an impulse.

The Shakespear Regional Park is now maintained by the Auckland City Council and is free to enter as well has ample parking space. One could go swimming, fishing, paddle boating, canoeing, kayaking, paragliding, boating, sailing, hiking, mountain biking or picnicing. The park has 3 walking trails to boast of which are graded "Easy".

  • Lookout Trail - 1 hour return  - 2.5kms
  • Heritage Trail - 2 hours return - 3.9 kms
  • TiriTiri Trail - 2 hours return - 4.8kms
If you have a few hours to spare there, do the lookout trail which has a breathtaking 360 degree view. If you have half a day, you could opt for 2 trails or you could do one trail and picnic there. For a full day there, you could end the day with a walk to explore the glow worms display at The Waterfall Gully which is closeby.

We went there for half a day and did one trail - the TiriTiri trail. It shares a part of the Lookout trail so you get the good views too. It goes through beach, grassy meadows and native forest. 

What to wear :
If doing the TiriTiri trail try to avoid shorts as you will walk through the native forest with a few thorny bushes. 
The sun can be harsh so wear a thin cotton full sleeves top. 
Don't forget to apply enough sunscreen.

What to carry:
Food is not available there so please do carry your trek/picnic grub. 
Beach mat
A water bottle
A rubbish bag as you have to take back all your rubbish

Be careful about the rocky beach/sea floor which can easily cut while you head out ot swim.

Carrot and Onion Paratha

So what do you do when both you and your better half wake up at 3am? Well, it is gonna be a nice and sunny day so we decided to go for a trek at Shakespeare Regional Park. The gates open at 7am so since I a little time on my hands, I decided to make these quickie parathas to take with us as trek grub.

Preparation time : 10-15 minutes
Cooking time : 4-5 minutes for each paratha

Ingredients (makes 6 parathas) :

  1. 1 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 1/3 cup chopped onion
  3. 1/2 cup grated carrots
  4. 1 tbsp jeera/cumin seeds
  5. 1 tbsp kasuri methi
  6. 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  7. 1 green chilly finely chopped
  8. 3 tbsp oil
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Water to knead the dough
How I made it:
  1. In a pan, heat up 3 tbsp oil.
  2. Put in the jeera seeds.
  3. Once they crackle, put in the kasuri methi
  4. When the methi begins to get brown, don't let it burn, throw in the onions and green chillies.
  5. Fry till onions start to become soft.
  6. Throw in the carrots, red chilli powder and salt. 
  7. Remember to add a little more salt as the wheat flour will also be added.  So when tasted, this mix should taste a little salty - not too salty.
  8. When the carrots are turning soft, turn off heat and wait for the mix to cool.
  9. When cool, add the flour to the mix and knead into a soft dough.
  10. Separate the dough into 6 balls of uniform size.
  11. Roll out each ball into a circle and for each circle repeat steps 13 onwards.
  12. Heat a flat pan/tawa.
  13. Place the circle. Cook for 30-40 seconds.
  14. Lower heat to medium and turn the parata.
  15. Add a few drops of oil to help the parata cook and remain soft.
  16. After a minute or so, if there are enough brown spots on the paratha, turn the paratha and make the heat back to high. 
  17. Add a little more oil and cook till there are enough brown spots on both sides. Take off heat.

Serve hot with raita or pickle or pack and carry on a trek. Can be eaten as is.

All packed and set to go.

Here's a pic of the beautiful place - a must visit. Do check out my review of the place which is coming up on the blog soon.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Classic Combo : Rasam and Pepper Chicken

So a friend of ours is down sick with a cold and bad throat. We were headed towards his house to visit the #RBTGP and therefore decided to drop in on him and give him some rasam. For dinner, we added the pepper chicken to have a classic South Indian Combo : Rasam and Pepper Chicken served with rice. I once again remembered Sushila, albeit she used to serve Rasam with Mutton Chops.

I've come to realize that I use the terms heavenly food, comfort food for the stuff that is similar to what I have eaten as a kid. No matter how the day, a good bowl of comfort food, and all seems okay. May be it reminds one of the good ol' days. This is one of those meals.

For the rasam :
Cooking time : 15 minutes
Preparation time : 5 minutes

Ingredients (Serves 4) :

  1. Tomato - 1 large quartered
  2. Garlic - 2 pods crushed
  3. Tamarind paste - 1 tsp
  4. Water - 2 cups
  5. Pepper powder - 1 tbsp
  6. Jeera/Cumin powder - 1tsp
  7. Oil/Ghee(preferred) - 1 tbsp
  8. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  9. Jeera/Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  10. Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  11. Salt to taste

How I made it:

  1. In a pressure cooker, heat up one cup of water. 
  2. Add the tomato quartered. Cook on high till one whistle and turn of heat. 
  3. While the pressure releases from the cooker, heat 1 tbsp ghee in another pan.
  4. Add the mustard seeds and wait till they stop spluttering.
  5. Add the jeera, crushed garlic and curry leaves.
  6. When the garlic starts to brown at the edges, add the tamarind paste mixed with 1 cup of water.
  7. Mash the tomato in the water that it was boiled in and add it to the pan.
  8. Add the pepper powder, jeera powder and adjust the salt.
  9. Turn off heat once it comes to a boil.
  10. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or drink as a soup.

For the pepper chicken :
Cooking time : 30 minutes
Preparation time : 10 minutes

Ingredients (Serves 4) :

  1. Chicken - 500g
  2. Small/Pickling onion - 4
  3. Red onion - 1 small
  4. Garlic - 8 cloves
  5. Ginger - 2 inch piece
  6. Oil - 2 tbsp
  7. Pepper powder - 4 tbsp
  8. Salt to taste
  9. Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
  10. Coriander powder - 1 tsp
  11. Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
  12. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  13. Water - 3/4 cup
  14. Curry leaves - 1 sprig

How I made it :

  1. Wash and marinate the chicken in salt, turmeric powder and 2 tbsp pepper.
  2. Grind the small onions, ginger, garlic, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and 2 tbsp pepper powder to a paste with as little water as possible.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wide pan.
  4. Add the sliced red onions alongwith curry leaves and fry till light golden brown.
  5. Add the paste and fry until it stops sticking to the botton - usually 7-8 minutes on low to medium heat.
  6. Add the marinated chicken and fry till half cooked.
  7. Add water. 
  8. Adjust the salt. 
  9. Cover and cook till completely cooked. 
  10. If water remains, cover uncooked till water dries completely. We were too impatient to wait till the water dried and took it off heat in a semi gravy consistency.
  11. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with rice and rasam.
This can also be had with rotis.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

LIGHTing it up DOWN UNDER - err a bit late.

It's six months since I set foot in the land of the breathtakingly beautiful New Zealand. Time flies but the rollercoaster ride never ends. Well, things are mellowing down now but the initial settling phase was not as smooth as I had expected it to be. "Ignorance is bliss" is not something I used before but we all do learn and our eyes do eventually open up. No wonder we all look back at those times when we were most ignorant as the "best of times". Confused beings that we are, always wanting the good times but trying hard as ever to get ahead. Ha ha ha!

Six months and we move from my birthday to the birth of my nephew, exactly on Diwali. I smile when I think of the silence back at home on this otherwise unusually noisy day at my house. The hustle and bustle to decide who would go to distribute the sweets and if you had got all the people on the list of people to whom sweets need to be distributed, the packing of the sweets, the visits to the temple, the Lakshmi puja, the Saraswati puja, the Ganesha puja and the best drive around the town to get a glimpse of all the firecrackers for free. (wink)

Now, Diwali is known as the festival of lights but has many reasons for its significance. One is the return of the beloved Lord Ram from exile for which the lamps are lit and the night sky lit up with crackers to provide sufficient light for the returning lord, on a moon starved night. (Psst...Diwali usually falls on a new moon day). Another is to mark the end of another harvest season which brings us to the reason for this post. 

It is believed that as a sign of success and prosperity one must eat 7 vegetables on this joyful day and as this blog of mine focusses on recipes amongst other things, I made Sindhi Sai Bhaji with Bhuga Chawara. I ensured that I added as many veggies to the Sai Bhaji as possible. Fortunately for me, I got the quintessential ladies finger here in Auckland. Darn this place, you get a quarter of the veggies you get in India and even if you do get some, you have to buy them frozen. Grrr!!! (Ignorance is bliss until you move to a country only to realize what you have gotten yourself into.) Last year I had made Pav Bhaji with as many veggies.

Here's how we celebrated Diwali this year.

The quintessential start to my day - a cup of chai.

Bachpan ke din yaad dilaane waala lunch - sai bhaji and bhuga chawara - recipe below

Preparation Time : 5 minutes
Cooking Time : 12-15 minutes

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 1 large onion finely sliced
  2. 1 cup of rice
  3. 1 stick of cinnamon
  4. 4 cloves
  5. 1 bay leaf
  6. 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
  7. 4 tbsp oil
  8. 2 cups of water
  9. Salt to taste
How I made it :
  1. Wash the rice and soak in water
  2. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil
  3. Add the whole garam masala - cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf
  4. Once the aroma spreads, add the onions and fry on medium low heat till the onions caramelize into a nice dark brown colour. Do not burn and the colour is essential for the dish.
  5. Add the red chilli powder and fry for a minute. 
  6. Add 2 cups of water.
  7. Add the rice once the water comes to a boil.
  8. Adjust salt. 
  9. Cover the pressure cooker and when the steam begins to rise, lower flame to minimum and leave for 8 minutes. 
  10. Turn off heat and serve with sai bhaji or dal fry.
A visit to the Diwali Fest held by the Auckland Council - good food and company and some of the best fireworks I've seen thus far.

Gulab Jamoons as they were getting ready

Sandalwood scented tea light candles adorning the corners of my house

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The course on haute cuisine that I have enroled in had the recipe of nestle tollhouse chocolate chip cookies and explains why you must stick to the recipe and try to exact the measurements specified. So, I decided to give it a try. The first time I made it with the exact directions and it turned out exactly like the cookies that I used to have at the Hilton in Roseville, California. I did feel really guilty eating those as they had loads of butter and sugar in them. I was happy that I had made a small batch of 15 cookies.

I was having two people, whom I am very fond of, visiting us this evening and so decided to make these cookies but decided to give them a little healthy twist. The result was different but good as well.

Preparation Time : 10 minutes
Cooking Time : 11 minutes
Equipment Required : Oven, egg beater/hand mixer
Source :
Ingredients (Makes about 24-30 cookies depending on size):

  1. Whole wheat flour - 1 cup + 2 tbsp
  2. Salt  - 1/2 tsp
  3. Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
  4. Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
  5. Chopped nuts - 1/4 cup
  6. Chocolate chips - 1/4-1/2 cup
  7. Vanilla essence - 1/2 tsp
  8. Unsalted butter - 1/4 cup melted
  9. Granulated white sugar - 1/4 cup
  10. Raw brown sugar - 1/4 cup
  11. Egg - 1 large
How I made it :

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degree C.
  2. Prepare the baking tray. I covered a cooling tray with aluminium foil and spread some flour over it.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Beat the sugars, vanilla essence and butter for 2 minutes on high.
  5. Add the egg and beat well till the mixture is creamy. I beat mine a bit too much such that the mix got quite thick. This gives it a more crumbly texture. 
  6. Add the mix from step 3 and mix till well combined.
  7. Shape into cookies, press in some nuts and chocolate chips. Now, if you had not beaten the egg stiff, you may have a moist dough. In that case, use a spoon to place spoonfuls on the baking tray and press in some chocolate chips and nuts.
  8. Bake for 11 minutes. 
  9. Cool for 30 minutes and store in airtight containers.

Ladies finger and mutton curry

There are a zillion different reasons that you will hear from Pras when asked why he chose to move to NZ and ONE out of all of those is "to eat as much lamb and beef as I can as this country is known for it". Well, how can I deny him his meat then?

So I had some ladies finger leftover from the diwali sai bhaji cooking and decided to use that up along with the lamb pieces that I had bought from the supermarket. Perfect mix of veggies along with meat proteins.

Note : As I type out the draft for this one, the heavenly aromas of the curry fill the air and we just can't wait to dig in. We are waiting for the pressure to release.

We ate this yummy dish with bread but it would go well with poori, rotis, parathas and rice as well.

Preparation time : 10 minutes
Cooking time : 45 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. Large Onions - 2
  2. Mutton/Lamb - 500g
  3. Ginger - 2inch piece
  4. Garlic - 6 cloves medium sized
  5. Red chilli powder - 3 tsp
  6. Coriander powder - 1 tsp
  7. Garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp
  8. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  9. Black pepper powder  - 1/2 tsp
  10. Coriander leaves  - 2 sprigs with stem
  11. Mint leaves - from 1 sprig
  12. Medium sized Tomatoes - 3-4
  13. Ladies finger - 10-12
  14. Thick coconut milk - 1/4 cup
  15. Salt to taste
  16. Water - 1 cup
  17. Oil - 1/4 cup
How I made it :

  1. Finely chop the onions.
  2. Grind the ginger, garlic, dry powders, coriander and mint leaves together with as little water as possible.
  3. Wash and chop the ladies finger into 1 inch pieces. Fry them in a pan with a tsp of oil.
  4. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil
  5. Add the onions and fry till light golden brown.
  6. Add the mutton and fry till it turns colour and becomes lighter.
  7. Add the paste from step 2 and fry for about 5 minutes. 
  8. Add tomatoes and fry till they are soft and easily blend in.
  9. Add about a cup of water, adjust the salt and give 4-5 whistles on high.
  10. Once pressure releases, add the fried ladies finger and coconut milk.
  11. Boil for 2-3 minutes and serve hot.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Jo's Yummy Prawn Curry

How can one not try the seafood options available when living on an island? And we've been eating only red meat as NZ is well known for its red meat. I went shopping on my own this weekend and hence decided to pick up some prawns. I did wanna pick up some clams as well but put that away for the next time.

I made this curry in a hurry and with readymade coconut cream. It was delicious nonetheless and a match made in heaven when had with kerala appams. I used the double horse brand ready mix for easy palappams.

Also, please do excuse the lazy me as I continue to take the pics either after we've eaten our fair share for the day and with my humble phone camera.

Preparation time : 5 minutes
Cooking time : 25-30 minutes

Ingredients ( Serves 4) :

  1. 500g of prawns - cleaned and deveined
  2. 1 large onion
  3. 4 sambar/pearl/pickle onions
  4. 4 cloves of garlic
  5. 1 inch piece of ginger
  6. 2 tsp red chilli powder
  7. 1 tsp coriander powder
  8. 400ml of thin coconut milk/cream (or) 200g of thick coconut cream diluted in water
  9. 1/2 cup of water + more for the coconut milk
  10. 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  11. 4 tbsp oil
  12. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  13. A handful of curry leaves
  14. Salt to taste
  15. Chopped coriander to garnish

How I made it:

  1. Grind the onions, pearl onions, garlic, ginger to a fine paste in the mixie.
  2. Heat oil in a pan.
  3. Add the mustard seeds when oil is hot.
  4. When they stop spluttering, add curry leaves. 
  5. Add the onion paste from step 1.
  6. Fry on medium flame for 10-12 minutes till the fat separates. It takes longer for this step to complete as onion paste takes some more time as well as more oil to fry well. 
  7. Add red chilli powder and coriander powder.
  8. Fry for a minute and then add the tamarind paste in 1/2 cup of water. 
  9. Let it boil for 3-4 minutes and add the coconut milk. 
  10. Adjust salt. 
  11. Once it comes back to a boil, add the prawns.
  12. Cook until the prawns turn pink. Do not cook beyond this else the prawns tend to get rubbery in texture.
  13. Turn off heat. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or appams.

Now this is a keeper of a base for any kind of meat curry that needs to be made in a hurry.