Sprouted Ragi Breakfast Pancakes.

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Finger Millet has been an ingredient that I have not been familiar with, growing up.  It has not been a part of my childhood, and in my opinion, the first time I ever saw it was when my older daughter was born. My mother in law and my mother always said that Finger Millet Porridge constitutes  a very healthy first food for little babies. I do remember making porridge and feeding the little one and then as she graduated to rice cereals, and rice , I forgot all about it. My mother in law who lives in Srirangam, always has access to health foods, and believes in reconstituting food from scratch. Although, the processed food boom has caught on there too, she prefers to still mill grind her own rice, pulses etc. I had always wanted to use Finger Millet in my cooking and when Priya offered it as an ingredient for the Shhh Cooking Challenge, I used the oportunity to make pancakes with Sprouted Ragi Flour.

 

Finger Millet, also known as Ragi, is cultivated in drier parts of the world – mainly in Asia and Africa. Ragi has a distinct taste and is widely used in Southern Indian and Ethiopian dishes. Ragi is a rich source of Calcium, Iron, Protein, Fiber and other minerals. The cereal has low fat content and contains mainly unsaturated fat. It is easy to digest and does not contain gluten; people who are sensitive to gluten can easily consume Fnger Millet. Ragi is considered one of the most nutritious cereals.

This pancake is extremely versatile as you can make it with rava and wheat flour, rice flour and wheat flour, brown rice flour and rava along with the proportion of sprouted ragi flour. Regular ragi flour would work as well too.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 Cup Sprouted Ragi Flour.

1/4 Cup Rice Flour.

1/4 Cup Wheat Flour.

1/2 Cup Jaggery.

1/2 Cup Milk.

1 Tsp Sugar.

1 Ripe Banana.

1 Tsp Cardamom Powder.

PREPARATION:

  • Warm the milk and dissolve the jaggery and sugar in it. Keep aside.
  • Mash the ripe banana and set aside.
  • Mix all the dry flours, add the cardamom, and mix it well.
  • Slowly add the dry flours to the milk jaggery mixture.
  • Add the mashed banana.
  • Adjust the batter consistency untiil its resembles a thick batter not too runny.
  • Set aside for at least ten minutes as the bananas, work the batter in aerating it.
  • Pour in to thick pancakes on a heated tava, add ghee/butter and cook on both sides.
  • Serve with warm maple syrup, honey, jam  or fruit compote.

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Roasted Strawberry Eggless Ice Cream – Super Creamy and silky.

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You can`t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream…and that’s kind of the same thing”

The earliest memories of ice cream are the softy cones that I remember having in T.Nagar on the footpath. Soft, sweet, melting, creamy and cold, and stuffed hurriedly in to crisp cones. The exhaustion of the 2 mile walk to get there, the sweltering heat, the jostling crowds are all forgotten for a few dreamy minutes, licking on cold cold ice cream. I remember graduating to the more “pricey” Kwality Walls Chocobars at college and during my post grad days. Something still pulls me to the softy cones in T.Nagar! This trip when we visited India, I simply loved the Naturals Ice Cream that I tasted with my sister S at HSR Layout in Bangalore. My favourite of them all was “Jackfruit” and of course “Tender Coconut”. I  loved the tender coconut ice cream with pieces of tender coconut in each and every scoop! My favourite ice cream  has been the ones at Ted Drew`s in St.Louis, Missouri. We loved to drive there and order their “concrete” which was so thick, that they would serve it upside down sometimes!  I had been wanting to try out my own whacky combinations and recently invested in the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Attachment. No, its not just another gadget that’s gonna sit on the that top shelf above the refrigerator. This gives me pure creamy tasty ice creams, which I can make with ingredients on hand, and no preservatives or additives.

Today`s recipe is from this amazing book called  Jeni`s Splendid Ice Creams at Home ,  that uses no eggs but a secret ingredient – Cream Cheese! Her methods are very different and bring out the intermingling flavours very well.

INGREDIENTS:

15 Ripe Strawberries sliced.

1/4 Cup Sugar.

3 Tbsp Lemon Juice.

11/2 Cups 2% Milk.

2 Tbsp Corn Starch / Custard Powder.

4 Tbsp Softened Cream Cheese.

1/8 Tsp Sea Salt.

1 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream.

3/4 Cup Sugar.

2 Tbsp Corn Sugar.

1/4 Cup Buttermilk.

PREPARATION:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F.  Combine the sugar and the sliced strawberries and bake for about 8-10 mins until softened. When cooled, puree with lemon juice. No need to add any water.

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  • Mix 2 Tbsp of milk with the custard powder and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl cream together the room temperature cream cheese and salt. Set aside.
  • In a sauce pan, add the remaining milk. cream, sugar and corn syrup and bring to a rolling boil and keep it that way for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the milk+cornstarch mixture.
  • Bring back to medium low on the stove and boil until slightly thickened.  Set aside.
  • Slowly pour this thickened milk mixture in to the cream cheese bowl and incorporate. Add the pureed strawberries and the buttermilk and blend well.
  • Create an ice bath with ice cubes and chilled water and keep ready. Pour this ice cream mix in to a gallon ziploc bag, seal it and place in the ice bath.
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  • Now pour this cooled ice cream mixture in to the chilled ice cream container or as per directions given.
  • Churn for about 20-25 minutes until thick and creamy!
  • Transfer in to a storage container and freeze for about 4-5 hours.
  • Remove from freezer and thaw for about 5 minutes before serving fresh creamy strawberry Ice Cream.

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Aloo Fry (Baby Potatoes marinated in dry spices and seared to perfection).

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Baby Potatoes have always been a favorite at home. Whenever we find them at the local indian store, my older daughter immediately scoopes them in to a bag. She loves the Kashmiri Dum Aloo that I make to pair it with simple Jeera Pulav, or sometimes I settle for this simple Aloo Fry with traditional sambar and rasam. This is the best thing  you can have for a sunday lunch.

INGREDIENTS:

2 Pounds Baby Potatoes.

1/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

1 Tsp Dhania Powder.

1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder.

Hing as needed.

Salt as needed.

Seasonings:

Oil as needed.

1 Tsp Mustard Seeds.

1 Tsp Urad Dhal.

Curry Leaves.

Hing.

PREPARATION:

  • Baby potatoes are very interesting to make as they are bite sized wonders. Every potatoe thereore has to be filed with the goodness of the flavourings that will ultimately compliment the entire dish.
  • I always cook my potatoes in my electric rice cooker with water and salt. This is of course, after poking every potato with a fork to enable the salt to reach them.
  • Once they are cooked, drain all the water and allow to sit on a wide plate. Check to see if the potatoes are well done and if the salt has seeped into the vegetable.
  • Mix hing, little more salt, red chilli powder and turmeric in to a powder. Add about 3 Tsp of oil and make a paste.
  • Marinate the spice paste over the cooked potatoes and allow to sit for about 20 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a wok and add the seasonings – mustard seeds, urad dhal, curry leaves and hing.
  • Slowly add the marinated spiced potatoes in to the oil and allow to sear on a medium low flame.
  • Keep moving the potatoes around until they get cooked and seared on all sides.
  • When well done, remove the flame and garnish with finely chopped cilantro.
  • Serve Aloo Fry with Vengaya Vethal Kuzhambu and Kalyana Rasam.

Eggless Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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This post is a looong time coming. I have been having in my drafts for at least 2 years now but never had the opportunity to actually click a picture – Either most of the cookies are gone, or I don’t have the right props, or the sun plays havoc by hiding behind the clouds. Thsi cookie recipe has been a result of many days of experimenting and of course inspired by many  on the internet.  What are the ingredients of a good chocolate chip cookie – there`s the base flour, the choco chips itself, the sweetner being sugar, vanilla essence, baking soda, as this one is made eggless, and the eggs – in this case I`ve used buttermilk to replace the eggs. A healthier vegan approach would be to use applesauce instead of the eggs, and of course replace the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. I am working on an alternate version with applesauce, and avocados! But that post is for another day. This recipe uses Brown Sugar, for an intense taste, but works just as well with white sugar. Enjoy!

 

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INGREDIENTS:

1/2 Cup Butter at room temperature.

1/3 Cup Room temperature buttermilk.

1 Cup Soft Brown  Sugar.

1 Tsp Vanilla Essence.

1 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour.

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda.

1/4 Tsp Sea Salt.

1 Cup Chocolate Chips.

A handful of raisins.

PREPARATION:

  • In a mixing bowl, add the room temperature butter and sugar and cream it together for a couple minutes.
  • Add the room temperature buttermilk and vanilla essence and mix it in well with a hand mixer, or a whisk.
  • Sift the all purpose flour and add baking soda and salt. Add this to the mixing bowl and slowly fold it in.
  • Finally add chocolate chips and raisins if needed and fold.
  • The dough has to be made in to a rough ball.
  • Cover with a cling wrap and refrigerate for about an hour and remove.
  • Preheat the oven to about 350F / 180C .

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  • Make small lemon sized balls, flatten them lightly in the palm of your hand, and place them in a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for about 12-15 minutes until the bottom of the cookie is browned a little.
  • Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Chewy on the inside yet slightly crisp on the outside Eggless Choco Chip Cookies are ready!
  • If you want the cookies to be completely crunchy leave them in for about 14-16 minutes.
  • Every oven performance differs, so make it once and keep an eye on them completely after the tenth minute!

 

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Home Made Plantain (Vazhakkai) Chips.

IMG_1435 Vazhakkai Chips have always been a delicacy at our home , growing up. When we were in school, there was almost no buying snacks from the stores. Processed food was not something we have been used to. Many days whenever my grandmother found fresh green plantains at the local market at Ranganathan Street, she would buy a couple to make these delicious chips. The only gadget that all homes had for this purpose was the Anjali slicer which apparently was the best. I would peel and slice the vazhakkai and spread them on a newspaper next to the stove and my grandmother would pop them in to the hot oil right away. When the fried chips were set to drain on to the colander, I would sprinkle the spice powder over the hot chips, all the time, resisting temptation to eat a few. The Chips Aisle in the grocery supermarket is crowded with so many different brands and a myriad variety of flavors – Sour Cream and Onion, Barbecue, Black Pepper and Sea Salt, Maui Onion, Garden Vegetable etc. There are so many varieties of chips in the market – kettle cooked, popped, baked, toasted etc, but nothing comes even close to the bursting flavours of the simple home made version. 

INGREDIENTS:

3 Fresh Raw Green Plantain.

Oil to Fry.

1/2 Tsp Salt.

1/3 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

1/4 Tsp Hing.

PREPARATION:

  • Pour enough oil in to a heavy bottomed kadai and set  stove on medium flame allowing time for prep work.
  • Mix the dry powders and set aside.
  • Its`s important to have a sharp good quality mandoline and I have been wanting the MicroPlane Adjustable Slicer with Julienne Blade  or the Swissmar Borner Mandoline which is heavily rated and reviewed on Amazon but couldn’t actually get round to looking at one. So I settled with the OXO Adjustable Slicer which is pretty awesome too!
  • Peel the green plantain one at a time and quickly slice the plantain on to a dry paper towel . When the oil is hot enough, slowly pop them in to the hot oil and deep fry them until they get light and crispy and a golden brown.
  • Drain them on to a colander and sprinkle the spice mix on to the chips and toss lightly.
  • Transfer to an air tight container.

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Mumbai Street Food – Paav Bhaaji. (Spicy tangy gravy with mashed vegetables and seasonings served with soft toasted paav buns)

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Street Food they say sometimes tastes way better than the food available at world class restaurants because it has that simplicity built with robust taste that cannot be beaten. This is really true of Mumbai and its street food, as people of all classes love and enjoy eating roadside food. Some of the most famous street food available there are Vada Paav, Bhel Puri, Paani Puri, Paav Bhaji, Ragada Pattice, Sev Puri, Dahi Puri etc. This time my India trip also had afew days at Mumbai and I went to the Chowpatty Beach and tasted their amazing chaat varieties. We polished them off with the Khala Khatta Ice Gola availabke there – almost felt like a fushion of thickened  coke, sugar, kala namak and chat masala. I should try that sometime!!!  My daughter simply loved all the chat items and had been wanting me to try the Paav Bhaji at home. My recipe is inspired by a number of recipes online as well as by watching the paav bhaji wales make them first hand!  They had these monstrous sized tavas whuch were perennially over a gas flame, shared by a couple men concocting different items. Simply YUM!

INGREDIENTS:

1 Capsicum diced fine.

1 large ripe tomato or two small tomatoes diced small.

2 boiled potatoes mashed.

1/2 cup peas thawed/ cooked and mashed.

1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste.

A pinch of turmeric.

1 Tbsp Butter.

1 Tbsp Paav Bhaji Masala.

Chopped Cilantro.

Salt.

Ingredients for Saute Seasoning:

1 Tbsp Butter.

3/4 Cup Onion Diced Fine.

1/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

1 Tsp Paav Bhaji Masala.

1 Tbsp Kasuri Methi.

Chopped Cilantro.

1/2 Lemon`s Juice.

PREPARATION:

  • Take a wide mouthed kadai and place on the stove. Immediately add the chopped capsicum, chopped tomatoes, mashed potatoes, peas, ginger garlic paste, turmeric and red chilli powder.
  • Give it a quick mix and add about 1/2 cup water to the kadai and allow the veggies to cook well until tender.
  • Add 1 Tbsp butter and mash the vegetables with  a masher slowly until all the veggies get  mushy.
  • Add a little more water if needed and keep mashing and mixing until the oil seperates.
  • Now add the 1 tbsp of paav bhaji masala. chopped cilantro, and salt. Mix it in again and let it simmer.
  • In another kadai, we make another saute of seasonings and add it to the bhaaji. It`s hard to think ,with all the aromas wafting around, but stay with me and we`ll wrap this up soon.
  • To the second kadai, add a  spoon of butter.
  • When melted, add onions, ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, paav bhaji masala, hing, kasoori methi, chopped cilantro, lemon juice and saute it until it all comes together. The onions need to get slightly pinkish brown.
  • It`s optional to add a pinch of red colouring but I try to avoid artificial food colours as much as possible.
  • Add all of the seasoning to  to the bhaaji kadai and boil until blended.
  • Garnish with more chopped cilantro.

ASSEMBLING THE PAAV BHAAJI:

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  • Add a spoon of butter and when it begins to melt, add a dash of paav bhaji masala, red chilli powder ( if you want to kick it up a little), and chopped cilantro.
  • The seasonings simmer and bubble in to the melted butter.
  • Smear this all over the tava and toast all the paav buns on both sides with the awesomeness on the tava. Just a couple minutes more so hang on there….
  • Serve as shown with a side of bhaaji, toasted paav buns, chopped onions, a small wedge of lemon, a dollop of butter and of course more chopped cilantro.

HINTS:

As I see this dish, its pretty much built on the seasonings, the large amounts of chopped cilantro and of course the salted butter. Don`t go easy on the butter as it spoils the creaminess of the dish itself.

ENJOY!

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Vegan Double Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream.

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This post has been too long in the making and I really had to sit up and look for it in my drafts. I had actually tried making ice cream last summer and I sorely missed not having the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Attachment.   Every time I go to the store and buy an ice cream tub, even the smallest one lasts for quite some time and we get too bored of it. Not to mention the fact that many brands of ice cream come with gaur gum, xanthum gum, artificial vanilla sweetener and high fructose corn syrup, to mention just a few. I am not too fond of ice cream with the egg base and did not want to sacrifice creaminess – the one requisite for a great tasting ice cream. I instantly knew avocados were the answer. I had already made Eggless Fudgy Avocado Brownies, so figuring this out was not too difficult. I did take help from this website and was very pleased with the results.

Delicious? – Yes.

Eggless?     – Yes.

Vegan?       – Yes.

Creamy?    - Double Yes.

Need an Ice Cream Maker? – NO!!!!

The avocado and the coconut milk take the creaminess to a whole new level. Making ice cream is definitely one that comes out of understanding a few things about the ingredients, ice, temperature, and the level of fat required to make the ice cream, additions to the ice cream and when to add them. There is also always a set off between the amount of fat and the creaminess of the resulting ice cream. There are many websites that give you loads of information,on how to make home made ice creams and I wanted to share this one with you. Finally its always better to freeze the ice creams in a flat container thats not too tall that helps in uniform freezing. How do they sell all those ice creams in tall tubs?

INGREDIENTS:

1 Large Avocado mashed roughly.

1/2 Cup Light Coconut Milk.

1/4 Cup Honey/ Maple Syrup.

1/4  Cup Turbinado Sugar.

3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder.

3 Tbsp Mini Choco Chips.

2 Tbsp Percolated Coffee.

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence.

A dash of salt.

PREPARATION:

  • In a blender pop in the mashed avocado, and all the ingredients excepting the chocolate chips.
  • Blend in to a smooth shiny creamy consistency.
  • If you don`t want it to be diary free, you could substitute with heavy cream, half and half or whole milk.
  • Leave out the percolated coffee if you are making this for the little ones.
  • Do not use 2% as the fat gets to be really low.
  • Add the choco chips and transfer to a flat container that’s convenient for freezing and scooping.
  • Freeze for about 6 hours.
  • Remove from the freezer and allow a few minutes  before serving. This is just to facilitate easy scooping.
  • Top with nuts, hot fudge, chocolate sauce, fruit anything.

 

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