Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Carrot Halwa

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Carrot Halwa is one of the most commonly served desserts in Indian restaurants/buffets. After reading this recipe from my friend's blog, I thought of sharing my way of making it through this post. This recipe involves pressure cooking the carrots to reduce the preparation time and tastes as good as when the carrots are fried.


Ingredients:

  1. Carrots (grated) - 1 cup
  2. Milk - 1/3 cup (or till it covers the carrot pulp in cooker)
  3. Sugar - as required (typically 1/2 cup or more)
  4. Cardamom powder (ground) - 1/2 tsp
  5. Cashews & Raisins - as required
  6. Ghee - 3 tsps or optional
  7. Honey - 2 tsps (serves as a binding agent)

Instructions:

  1. Pressure cook grated carrots in milk until they are well cooked.
  2. Transfer the contents into a frying pan and fry until milk gets completely absorbed/evaporated.
  3. Add sugar, honey and ghee and cook for another 5mins.
  4. Mix the cardamom powder, cashews, and raisins.
  5. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cherry Upside-Down Cake

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This is my first attempt at making upside-down cakes. I always had the opinion that upside down cakes are nothing but a plain cake with a fruit topping. But when I tasted a pineapple upside down cake recently, I was quite impressed with the moist pineapple flavor absorbed by the cake. I tried this cake using bing and rainier cherries, and it turned out so yummy that I couldn't resist from having more than 1 serving.

The recipe makes one 8" round cake.

Ingredients:

  1. Cherries - 1 cup (pitted and cut into half pieces)
  2. Unsalted Butter - 4 tablespoons (I used "I can't believe it's not butter")
  3. Brown sugar - 1/2 cup (can be reduced if cherries are very sweet)
  4. Granulated Sugar - 1/2 cup
  5. All purpose flour/cake flour - 1 cup
  6. Baking powder - 1 tsp
  7. Salt - a pinch (less than 1/4 tsp)
  8. Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
  9. Orange zest - 1 tsp

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place butter in an 8" round baking pan, and warm it in oven until the butter melts completely.
  3. Remove from oven, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter.
  4. Layer the cherry halves, cut side down, all over the pan.
  5. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt in a bowl.
  6. Separate egg whites and yolks in two separate bowls.
  7. Beat egg whites at high speed until they become fluffy. Set it aside.
  8. Beat egg yolks with sugar, vanilla extract and orange zest at medium speed until creamy. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until they are well mixed.
  9. Add the egg whites to the above mix and fold it using a spatula.
  10. Pour cake mixture evenly over the fruit layer in the pan, and smooth the surface.
  11. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cake is done (a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
  12. Cool it for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert carefully onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Before turning upside down -

After turning upside down -



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cherry Picking

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Imagine being in a huge cherry farm with hundreds of trees practically for ourselves - we are free to pick and taste as many as we wish and purchase the sweetest and the freshest ones at a very reasonable price. That's what we did today. I would like to share some of the pictures from our cherry picking trip.

Rainier Cherries:

Bing Cherries:
Nectarines:

Cherry picking season lasts from May to end of June in Northern California. Today, we visited a near-by U-Pick cherry farm for the first time, and we had a great time picking our favourite fruit fresh from the trees. We found Bing cherries and Rainier cherries at their peak and some Nectarines (but not ready for picking). I never tasted these fruits until I moved to the US. In India, we have processed/dried cherries that are commonly used in cakes/sweets and ice creams.


Few facts about cherries that I gathered on Google:

  • There are two types of cherries, sweet and tart or sour cherries. Tart or sour cherries are canned and used in pies, dried into fruit snacks and made into juice concentrate.
  • The most famous sweet cherry variety is the Bing cherry. Another sweet cherry variety is the Lambert. Both these got their names from a famous Chinese farm. The Rainier cherry, a light sweet variety, originated from the cross breeding of the Bing and Van varieties. The Bing, Lambert and Rainier varieties together account for a majority of the US sweet cherry production.
  • Like most other fruits, cherries are fat-free, low in calories and sodium and high in certain minerals and vitamins such as potassium, Vitamin C and B-complex vitamins.
  • Eating cherries will simply supply the body with a high concentrate of natural melatonin therefore increasing the antioxidant capacity in our bodies.
  • High in Antioxidants - that fight free radicals in the body and may help prevent cancer and heart disease as well as slow the aging process.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vegetable Cutlets (Baked)

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As it was cold and cloudy outside, I decided to make Veg cutlets as an evening snack. Keeping calories in mind, I decided to bake them instead of deep frying in oil (the recipe uses only 1tsp of oil). I used simple ingredients to make these (no need for bread crumbs). This recipe makes about 20 medium sized cutlets.


Ingredients:

  1. Potatoes - 2 big (peeled and cut into small cubes)
  2. Mixed Vegetables - 2 cups (carrots, peas, beans, corn)
  3. Salt - as required
  4. Water - for boiling the vegetables
  5. Red chilli powder - as required
  6. Corn Flour - 4 table spoons (or as required to shape the dough)
  7. Cilantro - 1/4 cup (chopped finely)
  8. Amchoor powder - 1 tsp (optional)
  9. Garam Masala - 1 tsp (optional)
  10. Oil - 1 tsp

Instructions:

  1. Pressure cook vegetables along with potatoes until they become soft.
  2. Mash the vegetables lightly and mix with corn flour, cilantro, oil, salt and chilli powder as required.
  3. Make a cutlet shape with the above mix and place these in an aluminium foil in a baking pan.
  4. Set the oven to BROIL setting and bake the cutlets for 10 -15mins or until they turn brown in color. Flip them over and bake for another 5mins.
  5. Serve hot with ketchup or tomato sauce.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rice-Moong Dal Kichidi

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Kichidi/Kichiri is a combination of rice, lentils, vegetables and spices. There are many versions of making this, and here is my recipe using split yellow moong dal and rice. It is easy to digest and has a lot of nutritional value.


Ingredients:
  1. Rice - 1+1/4 cups
  2. Split Yellow Moong Dal - 3/4 cup
  3. Garam Masala - 1 tsp
  4. Onion - 1 (sliced lengthwise)
  5. Green Chillies - 4 (or as required, cut into small pieces)
  6. Salt - as required
  7. Water - 4 cups ( This is for Sona Masoori rice, varies depending on the rice type)
  8. Mixed Vegetables - 1 cup
  9. Tomato - 1 (finely chopped)
  10. Turmeric - 1/4th tsp
  11. Oil - 4 tsps
  12. Cloves - 4 no.
  13. Bay leaves - 2 no.
  14. Cinnamon stick 1/4" - 1 no.
  15. Cardamom - 1 no.

Instructions:

  1. Wash and soak the rice and yellow moong dal for 15mins.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add cloves, cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and fry for 2mins.
  3. Add green chillies and onion and fry until onions turn brown in color.
  4. Add turmeric powder, mixed vegetables, tomato and salt and cook until vegetables turn soft (~5mins).
  5. Drain the water and add rice-moong dal to the above mix. Add garam masala and fry for 2mins.
  6. Now transfer the contents from pan to rice cooker and add water. Adjust the salt.
  7. Cook until rice is done.

Kichidi with fish fry :

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chutney with Plums

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Season (May through October) for fresh plums started and we have a lot of plum trees around our house. The sour taste of unripe plums tempted me to make this novel chutney. These plums are similar in taste to Gooseberries/Amla/Usirikaya. This sweet and sour chutney makes a delicious side dish with dosas/rotis/rice (it goes very well with curd rice).


Plums are rich in antioxidants and offer a high level of defence against free radicals. They are also a good source of both iron and potassium and also contain vitamin E.


Ingredients:

  1. Unripe Plums - 1 cup (remove seeds and cut into pieces)
  2. Salt - as required
  3. Dry red chillies - 4 no. (as required)
  4. Sugar - 1 tsp (optional)
  5. Oil - 2 tsp
  6. Chana dal - 1 tsp
  7. Urad dal - 1 tsp
  8. Popu mix (Chana dal + Urad dal + Mustard seeds + Cumin seeds) - 2 tsp
  9. Curry leaves - 1 stem (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan. Add dry red chillies, chana dal ( 1tsp), urad dal (1 tsp) and fry till dal turns brown in color.
  2. Add the plums and salt to the above mix and fry till plums become tender. Keep it aside and grind after it's completely cooled.
  3. In parallel, heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan, add the popu mix, curry leaves and fry for 2 mins.
  4. Add this fried popu mix to the grounded plum chutney. Adjust the salt.
  5. Add sugar to counter the sour taste of the plums, but is optional.

Welcome to Lakshmi's Kitchen. Your feedback is always welcome. Happy reading.

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