August 25, 2010
Vadai/Indian fritters is by far one of the most loved snacks down South of India. A rare cold afternoon with rain thrashing down on the roof calls for a hot cup of chai and its most beloved companion - Masala Vadai.
The aroma of the vadais wafting from the gloomy kitchen with Amma frying them up ever so elegantly with me wrapped up in my blanket standing beside her is a memory that I cherish and yearn for even now.
My daughter would probably have memories of her mom pulling out a tray of healthy vadais right from the oven as opposed to frying them up!
I have already tried my hands on baked masala vadais, and they came out beautifully. It uses a different procedure.
Baking is not the same as frying them, agreed... but pretty close with the new method I have come up with. And without all those calories, do I hear anyone complaining?
Okay, here is the secret: "broiling"
Baking the vadais for about 10-15 minutes, and then putting the oven on broil mode for 2-4 minutes and getting that beautiful crispy crust on the top is as close you will ever get to frying them.
So the concept is, the fritters cook from below when you "bake" them, and then from above when you "broil" them. The coil heats up from the respective sides when you use the bake and broil mode.
And voila! You have the best crispy healthy vadais you will ever have!
Note: Do not move away from the oven when it is on "broil" mode. Temperatures reach up to 500F- 525F and will burn whatever is in the oven in no time.
Baked Edamame Fritters - Secret to a perfect no-fry Vadai
Edamame - 1 lb bag
Channa Dal/Dried split chickpeas - 1 cup
Cabbage - 1/2 cup chopped
Green chillies - 3 tbsp chopped
Red onions - 1 large chopped
Ginger - 2 tsp chopped
Rice flour - 1/4 cup
Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - A pinch
Chilly powder - 1 tsp (adjust heat according to your taste)
Curry leaves - 3 tbsp torn into pieces
Salt - To taste
Oil - 2 tbsp
Soak the channa dal/lentils in water for about two hours.
Cook Edamame until it is al dente. Do not overcook, it shouldn't be mushy.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Grind the channa dal/lentil and edamame until coarse. Do not make a smooth paste out of it.
In a large mixing bowl, add the ground up lentil and edamame. Add all other ingredients and mix well.
Take a large baking tray, line with aluminum foil and give a good shot of non-stick spray.
Take small balls of the mixture, flatten it in your palm and line them out on the baking tray like shown below.
Bake at 400F till the bottom is golden brown (about 15-20 min).
Then put your oven in broil mode and let the fritters sit for another 2-4 minutes in the oven, till you get a golden color on the top as well.
Keep a constant eye when your oven is on "Broil" mode. It will burn whatever is in your oven in a jiffy!
Take it out when it is done and enjoy warm with some chutney.
August 19, 2010
One of the reasons I love Baklava is because it is loaded with nuts, has my favorite rose syrup all over it and uses the delicate phyllo dough!
Working with Phyllo sheets are tricky. You need to thaw them out to the right temperature so they are not too dry from the cold that they break or they are too thawed out that they stick together. One good tip is to use a damp kitchen cloth and keep the sheets covered until you are ready to work with them. Keep them covered even if it is only for a couple of seconds. That way they will stay soft and easy to work with.
It is not a pretty sight to have brittle phyllo dough all over your kitchen counter. Been there, done that!
Psst... I have even thrown the tiny broken pieces of the phyllo burying them along with the filling and rolled it all up in the hope that no one would ever find out! :)
This quick and individual portions of baklava are perfect for parties and for dunking in some sinful rich silky chocolate sauce, or caramel, or oh! oh! how about some dulce de leche?
Okay, allright! Let me stop right there because we did neither... no party, or dunking nothing in anything. We just enjoyed it way the simple way. The little sugar syrup on top was the right amount of sweetness especially if you are watching what you are eating. There is no need to let them soak in syrup like the regular Baklava. Sorry about being a little devil tempting you right there with the dunking part. Er.. remember?... We try to cook healthy here.
Phyllo sheets - 2 sheets for each cigar (buy a box, and use as many as you need)
Melted butter - 3 tbsp
Rose essence - 1/2 tsp
Dates - 1/2 cup
Roasted almonds - 1/2 cup
Roasted walnuts - 1/2 cup
Toasted Hazelnuts - 1/2 cup
Roasted Sunflower seeds - 1/4 cup
Raisins - 1/2 cup
Chocolate chips - 1/2 cup (optional)
Powdered sugar - 1/4 cup
Water - 1/2 tsp
Take out phyllo sheets from the freezer, open and cover with a damp cloth and set aside.
In a food processor pulse the nuts and seeds till they are coarse bits. Transfer onto a clean dry bowl.
Then blend the raisins and dates (chop them roughly before you put them into the food processor). Add the nuts, chocolate chips. Pulse only till combined. The whole mixture should still be coarse. You should be able to pinch out a lemon sized ball and roll it without sticking. It can definitely be on the drier side too. If it is powdery, that is okay too.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Now slowly separate out one phyllo sheet, and place on a working surface. Brush ever so slightly with melted butter and place another sheet over it and brush again with butter. Now place the filling in one corner of the sheet. Filling should be about 3" long and 1" thick.
Roll the sheet like you would a burrito. Seal the edges with a drop of melted butter.
Roll all the cigars the same way until you have exhausted all the filling. Brush all the cigars with a light touch of melted butter.
Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake till the cigars are golden brown in color.
Allow to cool completely. Meanwhile mix the powdered sugar and rose essence with a 1/2 tsp of water and pour over the cooled baklava cigars. This way it is not soaking wet in sugar syrup.
Enjoy when the sugar has slightly set. Tastes even better the next day!
Happy baking! :)
August 9, 2010
I am guilty of not being the first person to wish Amma today. I wish I had. I know she does not expect anything from anyone, and she probably does not even care for such days.
And she is not going to be too thrilled for announcing this day on my blog :)
I know, and yet it makes me smile.
This cookie I baked today is just for her. She only has one criteria when it comes to eating what I make... it has to be completely vegetarian. No eggs, no fancy ingredients, just keeping it plain and simple. Just finished baking these, and let out a sigh of relief when she said she liked it.
Thank you for letting me make these for you today. You deserve much more than just cookies.
Happy Birthday Amma.
Chocolate chip cookies are one of the most comforting cookies that you could ever find. Making it eggless was a little challenging for I was afraid how it was going to affect the texture of the cookies. I have used flax as a substitute for egg in my breads and they have turned out nicely. So took that hint and ran with it this time. I avoided using any hearty flour like whole wheat or oat flour since I was already experimenting sans eggs.
I could not have hoped for a better tasting cookie. Loved the texture (which is crisp) and the no-fuss recipe... goes down in my book as a success.
Eggless Chocolate chip Walnut cookies
All purpose flour - 1 3/4 cup
Unsalted Butter - 1 stick
Brown Sugar - 1/2 cup (I added a little less, probably close to 1/3 cup)
White Sugar - 1/2 cup (Again I added a little closer to 1/3 cup)
Pure vanilla extract - 1 tbsp
Baking soda -1/2 tsp
Flax meal - 2 tsp (mixed with enough warm water to form a paste)
Chocolate chips - 1/2 cup
Walnuts - 1/2 cup
Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy using a hand mixer.
Add the flax meal paste, vanilla and baking soda and beat well.
Add the flour in three parts, mixing well after each addition.
After all the ingredients are well combined, add the chocolate chips and walnuts and mix with a wooden spoon.
The dough will be pretty thick, roll it into balls and flatten them out evenly. They spread slightly, so leave 2" between them before baking.
Bake at 350F for about 12-15 min or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy with a tall glass of milk.
Yields: 20-24 medium size cookies
August 2, 2010
I happen to love rye bread for its aroma and slightly pungent taste. Caraway seeds are usually added to Rye breads which gives this very unique taste. Caraway is related to the fennel/cumin variety and that type of flavor is not unknown to Indian cuisine. So when I was trying to come up with a recipe that used these seeds into an easy simple bread, I just couldn't wait to get baking.
The potato gives this bread a nice softness on the inside. The crust is just beautiful and thin, and this is by far the best flavor I have had in a bread. It would blend beautifully into a panini or a simple grilled sandwich.
I finally got a well aerated bread. Here is a macro shot to prove what good hydration can do to your bread. Spraying the insides of the oven with water and placing a small bowl of water in the oven while the bread is baking are all methods which also help with hydration.
Bread baking by far is the most fulfilling experience in the kitchen.
Potato Caraway Whole Wheat Bread
Whole wheat flour - 3 cups
Whole wheat pastry flour - 1 cup
All purpose flour - 1/2 cup
Vital gluten - 2 tbsp
Salt - To taste
Bakers yeast - 3 tsp
Warm water - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Mashed boiled potato - 1 large
Caraway seeds - 2 tsp
Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Combine all the three flours, salt and vital gluten and set it aside.
In another large bowl, take the warm water and add the sugar. To this sprinkle the yeast and let it bloom for about 10 minutes. It should start to foam up.
To this add the dry ingredients, mashed potato, caraway seeds and olive oil. Add water as needed to form into a soft dough.
Knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes by hand, lesser if you are using a kneader attachment on your stand mixer.
The dough will be pretty sticky. Do not add more flour, the dough should be very soft and supple.
Grease a large bowl with oil, and toss the dough around allowing it to coat well in oil. Cover and set in a warm place to rise and double in size. It should take about 2 hours.
After the first rise has taken place, punch down the dough (it will be sticky and kneading again is kind of tricky, so skip handling the dough too much.)
I just shaped mine into a round, and let it rise for another hour or so. If you'd like, use two loaf pans and divided the dough equally and let it rise again.
Bake at 375F for about 60 min or the bread manages to give a hollow sound when tapped at the bottom.
Allow to rest, and slice.