It’s been so long since a post appeared here on My Foodcourt. I have my hands full with many many different things and somehow the posts took a backseat. As far as the cooking is concerned, it has been exactly the opposite. The family has been relishing food from all over the globe! A pasta machine has been bought and we imagined ourselves sitting in a quaint little town in Italy while enjoying and savouring every bite of it :)
One of the things I had decided (no resolution ) was to bake as many breads as possible.I even spent one evening showing one of my friends how to make basic bread rolls. Then I saw Aparna’s post on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to bake a bread-a-month with her. Baking is good..but baking together is best . I needed the motivation to post here as well as bake and Baking bread together with so many bread bakers seemed the perfect opportunity.
It has been almost freezing cold here for the past many days. So the yeast needed lots of coaxing to get to work . I preheated my oven to 40 deg and left the yeasted dough to rise in it which seemed to help.
The first bread that Aparna chose was an egg free Pull apart bread.I followed the basic recipe that she had mailed everyone ; I went with some middle eastern flavours- Olives,Feta and Zaatar
Here’s the recipe for the Pull apart bread:
For the Dough:
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
25gm butter, soft at room temperature
3/4 to 1 tsp garlic paste, I used powder
3/4 cup milk (+ a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread)
For the Filling:
15 to 20gm melted butter
3 tsp Zaatar
1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
Red chilli flakes to taste
1/2 cup crumbled Feta
Handful of Chopped black olives
In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm milk. Keep aside for about 5 minutes till the yeast mixture bubbles up.
Put 2 3/4 cup of flour, salt, softened butter, and garlic powder in the food processor bowl (or a large bowl) and pulse a couple of times to mix. Then add the yeast mixture and the 3/4 cup of milk and knead till you have a soft, smooth and elastic/ pliable dough which is not sticky. Add a little extra flour if your dough is sticking, but only just as much as is necessary.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil. Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or unti lalmost double in volume.
Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Deflate the dough, shape it into a square and roll the dough out into a larger square that is about 12’ by 12”. Brush the surface of the square with the melted butter.
Evenly sprinkle the zaatar mix, chilliflakes and the cumin seeds and then the crumbled Feta cheese.Sprinkle the chopped olives. Use a rolling pin to very lightly press the topping into the dough to ensure the topping doesn’t fall off when you are stacking the strips .
Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 long and even strips . Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facing upwards, until you have a stack of the strips.
You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater. Using a pastry scraper or a sharp knife, cut straight down through the stack dividing it into 6 equal pieces (6 square stacks).
Grease and lightly flour a 9” by 4” (or 5”) loaf tin. Layer the square slices, cut sides down into the loaf tin .
Cover the loaf tin dough with a towel and allow the dough to rise for an hour. Lightly brush some milk over the top of the loaf .
Bake the dough at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 40 (mine took around 45 mins) minutes until it is done and the top is golden brown.
You can see all the many different flavours for this Pull apart bread on Aparna’s post here.
Once again thank you Aparna for the initiative and motivation as you always do.
(There seems to be some issue with the server on the new blog my-foodcourt.com. Since the posting deadline is today I am posting here and update on the new blog later.)
This August My Foodcourt turns Six!
On the 6th anniversary I am pleased to announce that My Foodcourt is moving to a new Kitchen: my-foodcourt.com
I would like to invite all my readers to please join me in the new kitchen. Let’s create new recipes and memories at my-foodcourt.com. Please update the new address in your feed readers.
I am celebrating the move and the 6th anniversary with a giveaway as a ‘thank you’ to all my readers, so head on over to my-foodcourt.com for a new recipe and an amazing giveaway. See you @ my-foodcourt.com
The lad is a foodie- much to my happiness! He tastes the food and gives an instant ‘thumbs up’ to well made dishes. Some of my trials are met with an honest ‘I didn’t like this much’ feedback along with a suggestion to ‘repair’ the dish. On some Friday nights ‘Would you like to have Pizza for dinner?’ is answered by ‘Do we have fresh Basil and Mozzarella?’ On one occasion when I asked him what he would like to have for dinner (please note: this question gets asked only on weekends) , he picked up one of my cookbooks (the one mentioned below) and wrote down, on a piece of paper -A starter ,soup, a main course and a dessert he wanted me to make for his dinner!
Most of the days it’s a pleasure to feed this child who happily eats his veggies and fruits without any fuss. On the flip side, he needs a lot of variety. He is the ‘forever hungry monster’ specially when I am home. The veggies get grilled, marinated, wrapped, sandwiched or they get topped on whole wheat ‘pizza’ to make them more interesting than the regular Roti-Sabji.
The Veg Fajita (recipe below) is adapted from a book called ‘330 vegetarian recipes for health’. This book which I picked up from the local Crossword store has been one of my ‘super finds’. All the recipes are vegetarian (no-meat, no-fish). The first section in the book includes a whole food guide for fruits and vegetables to grains and from dairy foods to herbs and spices. This vegetarian ‘mini encyclopedia’ includes essential facts about key health benefits as well as information on buying, storing and preparing whole food. The photographs are absolutely drool-worthy. The book showcases hundreds of step by step recipes from around the world. Most of the recipes are not only healthy but are also easy to follow.The book occupies is always kept handy on my book shelf since more than often I find myself referring to it for ideas to keep the foodie lad satiated. The Light meals and side dishes section in the book are our favourites. I would recommend this fascinating book to anyone interested in finding out more about whole food.
For these colorful Veg Fajitas, Mushrooms and coloured Peppers (capsicums) are marinated in a little chilli powder/olive oil ,lightly sautéed and wrapped in flour Tortillas. Fresh Mushrooms and coloured capsicums are usually found in our crisper since they are a hit whichever way they get served. I used our regular whole wheat Rotis (Phulkas) to substitute the Tortillas.
Guacamole is a family favourite. We love Guacamole. Whenever I have access to good quality Avocados, the creamy dip gets slathered on breads or Rotis or is paired up with corn chips, khakras, Tacos anything that can be dipped or wrapped!. One of the very few veggie vendors who stocks ‘exotic’ fruits here in Nashik sometimes sells Avocados. Finding good quality Avocados is a challenge since they travel here all the way from Goa (that’s what the vendor tells me). I was happy to find some lush green Avocados on my trip to Nature’s basket, Bangalore.
A freshly made Guacamole served with the medley of colorful vegetables wrapped in a whole wheat Tortilla made for a wholesome weekend brunch. The foodie lad was ecstatic and lost count of the number of ‘Tortillas’ that vanished into his little tummy :)
Here’s the Recipe for the Veg Fajitas
1 onion sliced
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Green Pepper ( I skipped this )
1 garlic clove crushed
1 packet Button mushrooms (about 15-16 mushrooms)
6 tbsp vegetable oil ( I used the herb infused Olive oil )
2-3 tsp Red chilli powder (the original recipe asks for 2 tbsp but I reduced the quantity since our Red chilli powder is quite hot, adjut this to taste)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper for garnishing
~ 6 small Flour Tortillas/ Rotis warmed.
Sprigs of fresh coriander
Wedges of 1 lime.
Slice the onion.
Cut the Peppers into strips.
Mix the onion slices and peppers in a bowl.
Add the crushed garlic.
Wash and dry the Mushrooms on a kitchen towel.
Remove the stems from the Mushrooms (Use them to make stock)
Slice the Mushrooms and add to the pepper mixture.
Mix the oil and Red chilli powder in a small cup and mix.
Add this to the veggie mixture and Keep aside for 20 minutes (or till you make the Guacamole recipe below)
Heat a pan or wok till hot.
Add the marinated vegetables and stir fry over high heat for 5-6 minutes, till the veggies are just tender.
Season with salt and crushed black pepper.
Spoon the filling on to each Tortilla and roll up.
Garnish with fresh chopped coriander.
Serve with Fresh Guacamole and lime wedges.
I did not follow the recipe for Guacamole from the book.This is how I make it:
Recipe for Guacamole
1 Ripe Avocado
1 small Onion finely chopped
1 small Tomato seeds removed and chopped
1 Green chilli chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Crushed black pepper to taste
Fresh coriander leaves chopped
Salt to taste
Cut the Avocado in half.
Remove the pit, scoop out the pulp from the peel and put in mixing bowl.
Mash the Avocado with a fork. I like to keep a few small pieces.
Add the onion, tomato, green chilli, lime juice, coriander leaves, salt and crushed black pepper.
Mix nicely and serve immediately with corn chips, Tacos, Khakras or Veg Fajitas.
Note: This is not one of the make ahead kind of dip since the Avocado oxidises very fast. If you haveto keep it for some time before serving cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate.
WARNING: This is one of the longest posts I have ever posted! Grab a cup of Tea and enjoy :)
The weather Gods are still unsure -whether to rain or not to rain? Meanwhile we ventured out on a Road trip to Bangalore ; more than almost a 2000km car drive to and from Nashik. We were a bit apprehensive about the road trip considering the ‘can’t sit in one place for a minute’ little one but decided to go anyway. Finger foods, drawing/coloring sets, car games, CDs later we were finally on the way to Bangalore. The back-seat of the car was turned into a mini bed for both the kids to play/eat/ sleep and enjoy.
We preferred the Nashik –Mumbai highway and then the Mumbai-Pune expressway to the single lane and ‘boring’ Nasik-Pune highway upto Pune. It was a scenic drive especially through the clouds in Lonavala just before Pune, and then the lovely windmills near Belgaum on the Bangalore highway. The road is fabulous except for the last 50-60 km as you near Bangalore. We halted at Belgaum for the night at ‘ Hotel Adarsh Palace’ . The hotel was good, clean and serves one of the best breakfast I have had on a road trip. The little one was impressed with their mini-button idlis.
Except the 1-2 Kamat Upchar outlets and 1-2 coffe day outlets we didn’t see many Food stops post Belgaum. We had south Indian thali at the The Kamat Upchar on the Tumkur-Bangalore highway(~60 Km from Bangalore). Not the best of meals but enough to feed weary travelers.
We were in Bangalore exactly for 1 and ½ days. I have been to Bangalore a couple of times earlier but haven’t seen the city and its surroundings in bits and pieces on each trip. We could successfully squeeze in half a day trip to Bannerghatta Zoo and the Lalbaugh gardens. The lad was thrilled to see the animals at the zoo and also commented that the road trip was worth the effort The foodie that he is, he enjoyed the spicy-sour sweet succulent slices of ‘ Gini mooti (Totapuri) aam’ sold just outside the zoo.
The lalbuagh nursery as beautiful as it is was disappointing since I went there in search of Herbs and they don’t grow them. (Should have checked beforehand)
I got a chance to visit a Nature’s basket outlet in Indiranagar, Bangalore and I happily carried a few fresh herbs like Thyme and Rosemary, Avocados , instant Polenta and such items all the way to Nasik. Fresh Thyme and Rosemary are yet to make an appearance in the market here in Nashik, though my kitchen garden will grow them in a month or two- Fingers crossed.
We stopped over at Kolhapur for the night on our way back and don’t have much to write about the hotel ‘Sony Palace’ just 2 minutes off the highway.The drive through Lonavala was even more scenic on the way back. Glad to report that the little one not only survived the car trip but is eager to go on another trip!
The herbs survived the ride back home and were immediately used in as many dishes as I could. The Rosemary urged me to bake a lovely warm Rosemary and Olive Focaccia.Some of the thyme went into a Roasted tomato and Thyme soup.; a perfect dinner combination for these ‘Rainy weather days’.
I have adapted the recipe for the Rosemary and Olive Focaccia from a book ‘Baking- simple cookery series’ from my collection of cookbooks.
I have used some part whole wheat flour instead of total AP flour as recommened in the recipe with great results. The soup was made using whatever ingredients were available, Thyme being the star ingredient.
Here’s the recipe for the Rosemary Olive Focaccia
Makes 2 Loaves
700 gms strong white flour (I used 450 gms Maida/AP flour, 250 gms whole wheat flour and 3 tbsp Vital gluten)
pinch of salt
pinch of caster sugar
7g/ 2tsp instant yeast (I used AB Mauri)
450 ml warm water (or as required to make a soft elastic dough, I needed about 470 ml)
2 tsp chopped fresh Rosemary
75 gms pitted black olives roughly chopped
3 tbsp Olive oil (I used herb infused Olive oil- see note below)
For the garnish:
3 tbsp Olive oil (I used herb infused Olive oil- see note below)
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Fresh Rosemary for garnishing
Sift the Flours, salt and the sugar.
Stir in the yeast and Rosemary.
Make a well in the centre
Carefully pour in the warm water and Olive oil/herb oil. I need about 10-20 ml more water so add the water gradually.
Mix to a soft dough.
Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for 10 mins.(Yeast Therapy :) ) until smooth and elastic.
Pat the olives dry on a kitchen paper, and then gently knead into the dough.
Put in a well oiled bowl, cover with a clingfilm and leave to rise for about 1½ hrs. or it has doubled in size(mine was overflowing from the bowl)
Turn out the dough and knead again for a minute or two.
Divide into half and roll out each piece into a 10 inch (25.5 cm) circle.
Transfer to oiled baking sheets and cover with oiled clingfilm/ foil and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200oC.
Using the finger tips make deep dimples all over the dough.
Drizzle with the oil (I used herbed oil)and sprinkle with the sea salt.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden. My old oven took almost 10-12 minutes more.
Cool on a wire rack and garnish with sprigs of Rosemary.
Grind over or sprinkle black pepper just before serving.
Recipe for the Roasted Tomato and Thyme soup
7-8 tomatoes halved lengthwise
1 onion sliced
2-3 garlic pods
4-5 small sprigs of fresh Thyme
2 tbsp herb infused olive oil oil (or just olive oil) and a few drops more for garnishing.
1 carrot peeled and cubed
Coarse sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
½ tsp of brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 200oC.
Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet, cut side up along with the onions, garlic pods and Thyme twigs.
Drizzle the herb infused olive oil (or just olive oil)
Sprinkle some coarse sea salt and pepper over the tomatoes.
Roast the tomatoes for about 30 mins.
Meanwhile Place water in a pan and boil the carrot cubes along with a sprig of Thyme till just soft ( 10 mins.)
Drain and cool the carrot cubes but do not discard the water.
Cool the Roasted tomatoes, onions and Garlic.
Carefully remove the Thyme sprigs.
Remove the skin from the tomatoes (or alternatively sieve the pulp later)
Blend the roasted Tomatoes, sliced onion, garlic along with the cooked carrot.
Transfer the pulp to a large pot.
Adjust to a soupy consistency using the carrot stock (or vegetable stock)
Add the brown sugar and adjust the seasoning.
Bring to a boil and turn off the heat.
Serve hot garnished with the herb and chilli infused olive oil along with a warm bread.
(You may alternatively garnish with Cheese of your choice)
I served the Soup with the Rosemary & Olive Focaccia.
Note : Herb Infused Olive Oil
Warm about 1 cup Olive Oil (not necessarily Extra virgin). Add chopped fresh herbs like Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Parsley.
Add 2-3 peeled garlic cloves.
Add ½ – 1 tsp of Chilli flakes.
Keep aside for 1 a day.
Strain out the herbs and garlic ( I like to keep the chilli flakes)
Store in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. ( Mine usually gets over in a week)
I use it on breads, pizzas, soups, dips or for salad dressings.
Every time I put a photo of the coming soon recipe on My Foodcourt’s FB page the ‘soon’ never happens. The past month has just zoomed past me (the entire half year for that matter!). Both the kids are back to school after a two month long vacation. The little one started going to her ‘new school’, she is very happy that she finally gets to go to her dada’s school :)
The hot sultry summer has given way to a breezy-rainy weather. The Monsoon has also brought with it the much awaited new season’s of Masterchef Australia and White collar – lots of things to look up to; just like this chutney.
I have been meaning to make this chutney for many days but the easy availability of a readymade/mom-made chutney kept me from making it till now.
The chutney that I am talking about is made from karale (कारळे) / Khurasni (खुरसणी) in Marathi or as I learned from Shruti on the FB page, they are known as Niger seeds in English. More on Niger seeds here.
The seeds are pound with garlic and red chilly powder to make a very tempting fiery chutney usually eaten with bhakri, Roti or hot rice. This chutney is also used as a filling for veggies like brinjal. I did not have brinjals and hence I added the chutney to the filling I made to stuff Bhindi/okra. The result was a fantyastic tasting spicy side dish. The lad kept asking for more and failed to notice the number of Rotis that went into his tummy. :)
Here’s the recipe for the Niger Seeds chutney:
1 cup from karale (कारळे) /Khurasni(खुरसणी) or Niger seeds
~ 10-12 garlic pods peeled (you may use less)
2 tsp red chilli powder (you can add more)
Salt to taste
Lightly roast the Niger seeds for 1-2 minutes (take care not to burn them)
Grind/ pound together all the ingredients to a dry chutney. I started by using a wooden morter and pestle but pounding the seeds to a fine powder was taking time so gave in and used the mixer.
Serve this with hot BhakriRoti/Rice preferably with a drizzle of groundnut oil.
Recipe for stuffed Okra with Niger seed chutney:
10-12 medium sized fresh and tender Bhindi/okra, washed, dried and slit lengthwise
2 tbsp oil
Juice of half a lemon/lime
Fresh coriander leaves for garnish
For the stuffing:
2 medium sized onions peeled and grated
½ cup roasted groundnut powder
4 tsp above Niger seeds chutney
2 tsp Kanda Lasoon masala (optional.I used my mom’s.)
Salt to taste.
Mix all the ingredients for stuffing.
Stuff the okra with it.
Heat oil in a wide flat bottom nonstick pan. Add the stuffed bhindi carefully.
Cook for 3-4 minutes without stirring.
Cover and cook for the next 3-4 minutes. Add a few drops of lime juice and stir once.
Cook uncovered till done (not very soft or mushy ). If you have the time and the patience cook uncovered all the time stirring only occasionally.
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
Serve hot with Bhakri,Roti or Rice.
The theme for this month’s exercise was ‘Less is More’, which is currently my style of photography. The chutney as well as stuffed Okra/Bhindi photos above was taken with this theme in mind.Keep it simple is currently my photography mantra too.
Thank you again Aparna for coming out with these simple but helpful themes for the exercise.
This summer we have been enjoying an unending supply of Coconuts from our garden. The children have been snacking on the tender coconut flesh and the sweet coconut water as a refreshing thirst quencher.
We use coconut in very few preparations and Coconut barfi/Kopri Mithai/Nariyal barfi/Narlachya Vadya happens to be one of them. Both the kids love it and this time it was particularly made as part of the lad’s birthday feast.
I have blogged about the Coconut barfi recipe way back in 2007. It’s the same recipe (my Mother-in-law’s), the only thing that is different in 2012 are the photos. :)
My friend Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen is starting a series of photography exercises so that amateur food photographers like me can work on our photography skills. What better way to start the series than Coconut Barfi? Here’s my photo to kick start this fabulous series.
Thank you Aparna for your time, effort and patience. If you would like to join us you have 4 more days to submit your photo- details here .
Equipment & photo details:
Camera : Canon EOS 60D
Lens: Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens
Aperture and Shutter speed :f 2.0 (shutter speed: 1/80s) and 5.6 (shutter speed :1/10s) for the top and bottom photos respectively.
The Mango Mania refuses to leave us. First the tangy green raw mangoes and now the luscious ripe ones. I am still hooked on to the raw mangoes and have been using them in every way I can.
Ambe Dal is a traditional Maharashtrian preparation, specially made during these hot summer days when green Mangoes are abundant. It’s super quick and easy to make (with the exception that you need to soak the dal in advance) and requires just a few easily available ingredients.
The tart raw mangoes are grated and added to coarsely ground soaked chana dal (split Bengal gram). This mixture is then flavoured with a spicy tadka (tempering) of Red chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida . I personally love the flavor of asafoetida .
This cool,tangy-spicy Ambe Dal is served on a banana leaf along with Aam Panha (recipe here)
Here’s the recipe for Ambe Dal
1 cup Chana dal (split Bengal gram) soaked in water for 5-6 hours
½ raw mango, peeled and grated (depending on the tartness the amount can be adjusted)
½ tsp sugar
Salt to taste
For the tadka (tempering)
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumene seeds
5-6 curry leaves
Pinch of asafoetida
1-2 dry Red chillies broken into pieces
Rinse and Drain the soaked Chana dal.
Grind the dal coarsely .
Add the grated mango, salt and sugar .
In a small wok/pan heat the oil.
Add the mustard seeds and once they splutter add the cumene seeds.
Add the curry leaves, asafoetida and the red chillies.
Add this tadka over the Mango Dal mixture and mix nicely .
Cool and serve on a banana leaf along with Aam Panha. I love to ‘cool this dal in the refrigerator for half an hour and then serve.