Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Doodh Peda (Milk Fudge) : 6 Minute Guilty Pleasure

When it comes to enjoying Indian sweets, I find Milk Pedas absolutely *irresistible*. Next in the sweet hit list would be all kinds of milk based desserts - likes of Gulab Jamun, Ras Malai, Kala Jamun. At the tail end of the list are all dry fruit based sweets. Kaju Katli (Cashewnut fudge), in my humble opinion is nauseating. Just thinking of it makes my stomach churn uncomfortably. How some people I know (take Hubbie for instance) can down them 4-5 at a time is alarming.

But all good things in life are difficult to come by. Agree? Traditionally to make pedas you must painstakingly boil the milk for hours *without* burning it. However, with the magic of processed foods and invention of appliances for busy people you can enjoy pedas in not 9 minutes, not even 8 minutes, but just 7 minutes and 59 seconds. However, if you were to follow the recipe properly you can cut 2 full minutes of prep time. Hopefully I have made you googly eyed just like those attractive infomercials on TV this time of year :-)

All you need for this recipe is a nice big microwave safe glass bowl (with a wide mouth), a can of sweetened condensed milk, a stick of butter and 1/2 cup of non fat dry milk. I don't regularly endorse brands, but Carnation brand dry milk works best - other brands I have tried have given less than optimal results.

Doodh Peda
1 stick or 1/2 cup unsalted butterPlace butter in a large glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or more so as to melt it.
one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 cup of non-fat dry milk
Mix in the condensed milk and dry milk powder and microwave for a minute. Stir vigorously to combine. Repeat the microwaving for a minute and stirring 4-5 times until the texture and color of the mixture resembles cooked oatmeal.
2-3 cardamom pods
a healthy pinch of saffron
Grind the black seeds inside the cardamom pods and the saffron into a powder and mix in with the peda mixture. Let the mixture cool until it can be handled by hand. Shaped into small balls and flatten to form pedas. Alternatively spread on a greased sheet and cut into shapes when cooled completely. Decorate with slivered almond or pistachios

Only seriously insanely obsessive picky eaters will be able to tell you have not slaved over the stove for hours. For the rest of us - this tastes as authentic as it gets. There are many variations to this basic peda recipe - but this one has turned out perfectly multiple times and is what I call a keeper recipe. Thanks to my dear cousin who made these pedas specially on my birthday!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

All in one solitary meal: Tofu Spinach Roti

I can tell that it has been too long since my last visit to the grocery store because I am all out of junk food. Yes, been a slacker lately - no excuses. Plenty of theories for my lack of motivation to cook (besides the hackneyed too busy at work) -we'll go over them another day.

But, today I was possessed with the will to cook something good. I was surveying the pantry when it came to me - the mother of all one dish meals - the paratha (Indian flat bread). I gathered all elements of the USDA food pyramid - whole wheat flour, tofu, frozen spinach, vegetable stock cube, water and oil. And got to work. Also, in my life when it rains, it pours. So in true overachiever behaviorial pattern, I also launched another unit of processing - laundry. I kneaded the dough for the parathas and put the clothes in the washer as the dough rested. The whole cooking, cleaning and eating process was done before the end of the dryer cycle. Of course, I was eating as I was cooking. Here goes the recipe for the parathas/rotis

Tofu Spinach Roti/Paratha
0.5 cups frozen spinach
1/2 a vegetable stock cube
Place spinach and half a stock cube in a microwave safe bowl (big enough to knead the dough in) and nuke for 1 min to defrost the spinach
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
2-3 tbsp crumbled tofu (no need to drain)
1 tsp chili pow
Not more than 1/2 cup water
Add the flour, tofu and chili pow (and salt if needed, the stock cube will have seasonings). Use your hands to incorporate all the ingredients. Add water little by little and knead into a smooth dough. Keep aside for a few minutes if you can spare.
Divide dough into 10 parts, Roll into balls and flatten to form discs. Using a rolling pin, roll out into discs of about 6in diameter. Shape has no effect on the taste and nutrition. Heat a griddle/shallow frying pan till hot. Slap on a rolled out disc, flip after cooking ~30 sec on each side. Now drizzle some oil if desired and toast both sides applying slight pressure till brown spots appear on both sides.

Eat by itself or with plain yogurt. A proper meal, two loads of laundry and a blog post all in one week night - tonight is going to be hard to beat. If only I can now muster up motivation to put away that laundry!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Peanut Coconut Curry Sauce - So easy even the Geico Caveman can do it

I love PF Changs - the Chinese Bistro. But have you tried getting a table at the restaurant lately? Reservation or not - you need advance notice to plan for a fun evening at PF Changs - the place is notoriously full by 6:30 pm on most week nights! I haven't been there as many times as I would like because most of our plans tend to be spontaneous and regrettably last minute - so I am left salivating on thoughts of Tofu lettuce wraps, Coconut curry vegetables and some fresh brewed tea!

I came across a recipe for a Simple Coconut based peanut sauce (vegetarian-ized version of Sandra Lee's recipe) - once all the ingredients are at hand, it took less than 10 mins to put together. Reminded me of PF Chang's Coconut Curry sauce - one of my favorites. My kind of a meal - definitely one that would please many others. And I hereby confer on this recipe the Geico Caveman approval seal. Here is the recipe that will comfortably serve 2 as the main meal with rice

Vegetables in Peanut Coconut Curry Sauce
1/2 block of tofu cut into cubes (of desired size)
1 tbsp oil
a splash of soy sauce
Heat oil in a pan. When oil is HOT, add the cubes of tofu and pan fry till a nice brown crust is formed. Add a splash of soy sauce and allow the tofu to absorb the liquid.
2 cups of chopped vegetables of your choice (green beans, peppers, broccoli, snap peas etc)
salt to taste
Add veggies and salt to the pan, cook till vegetables are tender crisp. Around 3-5 minutes
1 12 oz can light coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp red chili paste
1 tsp tamarind extract (or a few bits of tamarind soaked in the stock)
Whisk together ingredients on the left into a smooth sauce. Add to the pan of simmering veggies. Taste for salt since the broth/peanut butter are seasoned. Simmer and let sauce thicken for about 6-8 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with steamed brown or white rice

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Change is good And Healthful modifications

Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine

I read that quote on an email signature and laughed out aloud. If the last time I had updated this blog some one had told me how much my life would change in just one year - I wouldn't have believed them. Life today has taken unbelievable twists leaving the future murky and uncertain. We don't know whats in store for us but at least we have the option of making it what we want it to be. Change is good. Change is good, indeed. Change is certainly difficult to get accustomed to. But here we are facing refreshingly new challenges, cleaning out the cobwebs in our heads - change is good indeed.

So, to take my mind off how different things are, I decided to come back here to my familiar spot in the blog world. Thanks to the people who have cared to ask how I am doing. The last year has been one enjoyable roller-coaster ride - failures and successes. Finally, both hubby and I are pursuing what we have wanted to. In the midst of all that action - this blog has suffered my lack of attention. But I am back at least for now.

The last I mentioned here was a wonderful book that I had come to own - a book on healthy eating. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I really wanted to get one recipe that I have made time and again out on this blog - Cracked Wheat Idli

If you like Rava idli (steamed dumplings made of semolina flour), you can make a simple modification of substituting some or all of the Rava with cracked wheat for an equally delicious, yet more nutritious idli.

Cracked Wheat Idli
1 cup cracked wheat (fine)Dry roast in a pan the raw flour smell is gone (just before it turns brown)
1 cup yogurt
salt to taste
water to dilute
To the roasted wheat add yogurt and salt. Mix to combine. Add water (tablespoons at a time) to make the dough into a pouring consistency of idli batter. Not more than 1/2 cup water. Allow this mixture to rest for at least 15 minutes
1/4 cup grated carrot
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 in piece of ginger grated
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
Add grated carrots, ginger, coriander and coconut to the mixture. Pour ladle-fulls of the mixture into idli moulds and steam cook for 15 minutes. Serve with coconut chutney.

You can add any vegetable to this idli just be careful about the water content. For instance if you are going to add grated bottle gourd, cut down on the water in the recipe accordingly. Need to settle down into my blog yet again. So much has changed here as well. Need to find out whats new with the Google blogger. Until then, it feels GREAT to be back!