Monday, February 27, 2012

Prune Tomato Rasam and Kadai Bhendi with a Surprise!

Prune Tomato Rasam and Kadai Bhendi with a Surprise

I opened my pantry door wondering what to cook for lunch when my eyes fell on a bunch of Prunes. I  got them mainly for my toddler, as her Doc advised me to give her heaps of fruits and veggys especially fruits that begin with 'P' - prunes, plums, peaches, pears ...

Ha! Easier said than done. My toddler shuns all fruits and veggys. No amount of stories, songs, recipes, or presentation styles can get her to swallow anything remotely fruit or veggy!! The one thing she likes guzzling though is rasam!  

We've seen so many types of rasams like beetroot rasam, pineapple rasam, mango rasam etc. so I thought why not prunes? They are mildly sweet and can't be all that bad mixed with the other flavours.   The result was surprisingly awesome! The prunes did not stick out or anything and blended well with the tastes, and in fact, even added an nice touch of flavour to the rasam rasam. The rasam was guzzled not just by my toddler, but the adults at home as well.  


Since I had too much prune and tomato puree made, I just used some of it in a Kadai Bhendi as well. So now you know what the surpise is! Yep! Prunes!  
Prune Tomato Rasam
Prunes - 2 or 3
Tomatos - 2 medium sized
Curry Leaves - a few
Black Pepper and Cumin Seeds coarsely crushed - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Rasam powder - 1 tsp
Garlic pods - 2 crushed
Corriander Leaves - a few
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
1. Soak prunes for about 10 minutes till soft. Grind the prunes and tomatos with a little water into a paste.
2. Add rasam powder, curry leaves and salt into this paste and bring to a boil.
3. Once the mixture boils well, add the black pepper and cumin powder, as wel as crushed garlic and stir.
4. Once the mixture simmers again, pour in 1.5 glasses of water. Pour in a manner that you get a nice  froth on top.
5. The mixture will slowly rise, at which point switch of the flame. Don't let the rasam boil, as that spoils the flavours.
6. Heat the ghee and sputter some mustard seeds, and add this seasoning to the rasam.
7. Garnish with corriander leaves.

Prune Tomato Rasam

Slurp away with some rice and ghee, or just guzzle it down in a tall glass!
Kadai Bhendi
Oil - 2 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1tsp
Prune Tomato Puree - 2 tbsp
Onion Paste - 1tbsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1.5 tsp
Cumin powder - 1tsp
Corriander powder - 2 tsp
Chillie powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1tsp
Ladies Finger / Okra -  250 grams with tails and heads removed!

Bhendi (Okra) Cooking Away!
1. Heat oil, and add the cumin seeds.
2. When the cumin seeds sputter, add onion and ginger garlic paste.
3. Keep stirring so that the pastes don't burn. When the colour turns brownish, add cumin, corriander and chillie powders.
4. Fry for a few seconds until you get a great aroma.
5. Add the prune and tomato puree and salt and cook well.
6. When the paste is cooked, and the liquid is reduced such that you have a paste left, add in the okra.
7. Keep stirring on a low flame for a few minutes and cover with a lid.
8. Stirr now and again to prevent burning, until the okra is nice and soft.

Kadai Bhendi with a Surprise Ingredient

This a a yummy side dish with rotis  or rice. Of course, my toddler didn't touch the okra, but she did check out the prune tomato masala gravy, and was licking her fingers away!

Bottom line, I just discovered that Prunes lend themselves very well to many Indian dishes! Maybe, I'll try the other 'P's one by one too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Secrets to making Rossogollas!

Secrets to making Rossogollas!

Happy Valentines Day everybody!  Chitra Amma has taken a small break I've  taken over posting in the meanwhile!  I am posting today after a very long time!

I’ve been making Rossogollas ever since I saw this post in Rak’s Kitchen. They’ve been pretty good – soft, spongy, tasty. The recipe for Rossogollas in short is making Paneer, kneading it  and boiling in sugar syrup, and that’s pretty much it!

This time I had the opportunity of making Rossogollas and Rasamalai with my Bengali mother-in-law, for my daughter’s birthday party. 'Technique' takes on a completely new meaning! The technique is the recipe! We landed up with what can  only be called little clouds of  happiness! We made nearly 80 Rossogollas for a handful of people. We made them in two batches and it took over half a day and HEAPS of patience! Our guests were blown away, and couldn’t get enough. Three months later, they still keep mentioning it. I’ve tried to capture and show all the tips (secrets as my mom-in-law calls them!) in this post. The quantities below make 5 Rossogollas. They’ve gotto be the best Rossogollas I’ve had, but mom-in-law felt it could've been even better!
Full Cream Milk – 1 cup (250ml)
Plain white vinegar – 1 tsp diluted in 2 tsp water ( you may not use all of this)
Sugar – ½ cup
Water – 1 ½ cups
1. Making the perfect Chhana (Bengali for Paneer!) - The aim is to make lovely delicate Paneer that has a soft texture and just the right amount of moisture.

Bring milk to a boil. Add the vinegar-water mixture drop by drop alongside the walls of the vessel. Try not to stir. Once you see that the liquid at the sides has become completely clear, stop the flame. Wait for a while to allow whole lot to curdle. If you are preparing a very large quantity, it may need a few small gentle swirl with a spoon, but by no means feel tempted to stir vigorously, add more vinegar or otherwise get the milk to break quickly.

Strain through a thin muslin cloth. The muslin should be a single layer. Hang the cloth over a sink and allow the liquid to drip off. Patience is essential! Don't be tempted to squeeze the cloth!

The moment the water stops dripping, take the Paneer out onto your kneading surface.

2. Kneading the Chhana – The aim is to get a really smooth Paneer, without even the tiniest granular piece spoiling the texture.

A wooden chopping board is ideal for the purpose, although we just used our glass table top. Ideally you should have a board only for this activity – however, if you just use your cutting board make sure it is thoroughly cleaned with hot water and absolutely dry and odour free before you use it.

You must begin kneading the Paneer as soon as you see that no more moisture is dripping from the muslin cloth. If you wait longer the Paneer can loose moisture. Sometimes expert golla-makers reserve the drip, so that they can add it back if they feel the Paneer is dry!!

You need to smash and mash the Paneer until its really really smooth. You can use the heel of your hands to gently pound the paste. Spread it thin and gather up again. You can use a belan stick if you prefer to help you. Use it first, and then use your hand. See the videos below for technique.

To check if your Paneer is really smooth, spread a thin layer out, if you see small granules the size of sooji (semolina), it’s still not smooth enough. See pictures below.

Not smooth enough!  

Nearly there!

Keep pounding until a ball can be rolled and the Paneer does not stick to your hand. You can see the butter shining on your hand!

Make small balls of equal size and set aside covered.

3. Boiling the Rossogollas in Sugar Solution – The goal is to have a vigorous boiling, that cooks the Rossogollas evenly on all sides and doubling their size.

Choose a round bottomed vessel, and a burner with a high flame that surrounds the bottom of the vessel. Heat just at the bottom is not enough.

Bring sugar and water to boil (The ratio of sugar to water is 1:3). As soon as the water starts boiling, gently drop the Rossogolla balls into the mixture. Don’t wait long to do this, as you just want sweet water and not really a syrup to boil the Rossogollas.

As before, don’t stir. If your flame is large enough and surrounding the vessel, the balls will start bouncing and banging each other by themselves. Our bowl was a little large for the flame as you can see! Boil like this for 10 minutes. If the sugar-water solutionis becoming thick, sprinkle some cold water on top. It should be sprinkled and not simply poured in, as that will bring the temperature down and stop the cooking process. The Rossogollas will double in size and their movement will slow down! Switch off the flame, cover the vessel and allow to cool naturally. Don’t stir, move or touch the vessel until the Rossogollas have cooled!

Congratulations! You’ve just made some amazing Rossogollas! Enjoy them or make some yummy rabdi to make Rasamalai.

Rossogollas - 5
Full Cream Milk – 2 cups
Saffron – few strands
Cardamom Pods - 4 (remove skin and pound to a fine powder)
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Boil Milk and keep stirring, until the volume is reduced to half. Stir in saffron strands and powdered cardamom. Mix in sugar. Continue simmering, until the mixture gets a lovely colour and aroma.

If you switch the flame off too fast, you will just have a sugary milk mixture. You must wait until you get the aroma of caramelized sugar. This beats adding condensed milk etc for flavour.
To make Rasamalai, take one Rossogolla, gently squeeze it between your thumb and pointer. Keep it squeezed until you release it inside the rabdi. This will allow the Rossogolla to absorb the rabdi.

Store Rossogollas and Rasamalais in the refrigerator, and finish in a day or two.  I forgot to get a click of the Rasmalai, but will update this post with one, the next time I make it!

Let me know if you try it out!

 Cheers! Dibs

Monday, February 6, 2012

Jolada Hittina Kadubu - Jowar Flour Dumplings

We are basically a rice eating family. But I like to substitute rice with Ragi, wheat, Jola etc at least four times in a week. 
 We really enjoy Jalada rotti for lunch. The typical nutty flavour of Jola and the intrinsic sweetness of the grain has made Jola our favourite alternative.
Jolada Hittina Kadubu is another dish we love to relish once in a way. It is very easy to prepare this kadubu and it does not need any elaborate preparation.

Jolada hittu ( Jowar flour ) - 2 cups 
Water - 1 cup
Salt - 1/4 tsp 
Bengal gram dal - 2 tbsps 
Fresh coconut gratings - 2 tbsps 
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp 
Asafoetida - 1 pinch 
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp 
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp 
1. Soak Bengal gram dal for 20 minutes until soft and drain. 
2. Heat oil in a sauce pan and add mustard seeds. 
3. When the mustard seeds crackle add cumin seeds, asafoetida and then the soaked and drained Bengal gram dal. 
4. Saute the seasoning on low flame till it emanates a pleasant aroma. 
5. Add water, salt and the fresh coconut gratings to the seasoning. 
6. Switch off flame when the water starts to boil. 
7. Take the jolada hittu in a bowl and make a well in the centre.

8. Gently pour the hot water with the seasoning into the flour and mix well using a spatula.

9. Knead the above into a soft and smooth dough adding some more warm water if necessary.

10. Make plum size balls out of the dough and flatten them into kadubus.


11. Steam the kadubus for ten to twelve minutes.

Top the Jolada Hittina Kadubus with fresh ghee and relish the hot kadubus with any gojju or chutney of your choice.