Thursday, January 26, 2017

Rice Flour Idiyappam | String Hoppers

Homemade hand pressed rice noodles that requires just 4 ingredients. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Psst, this one is vegan and gluten-free too.


Breakfast is undoubtedly the MOST important meal of the day. On weekdays it is generally a quick affair, juggling between poha, upma, egg preparations and some pancakes. However, on weekends I like to make something more interesting and filling. 

For weekends I try out some recipes from cuisines that I am not very familiar with. It is not only fun but also gives me time to make something else for lunch if I mess up the new recipe! A few weekends ago I made these string hoppers, back in 2016.

But it is only now that I am finally drafting this recipe while I am visiting Boston with my husband for his business trip. I am lazing round in the hotel and eating out EVERYDAY. Amidst all that, I am really craving this yummy breakfast today. And when I think of the warm Kerala style Vegetable Stew that I made with this one, I just feel like having it everyday. 


So while I keep craving it, here is a small introduction to the dish for those who do not know. String hoppers are thin rice noodles that are steamed and can be served with a savory stew or with sugar or jaggery. They can be converted to a yummy upma or lemon sevai too. 

The original flour for this has to be the idiyappam flour. However, I found this recipe using rice flour and used it. Besides, I did not have the traditional idiyappam maker, so used a chakri (murukku) maker. The noodles came out pretty well and we had a hearty breakfast.


Here is an observation I made from this dish. In Gujarati cuisine we have a rice flour snack called Khichu, a dish we all love in our homes. It is essentially rice flour that is cooked in hot water and spices; then steamed in form of balls and served with oil, red chilli powder and chutney. This dish when made from rice flour is similar, just that the noodles are made instead of balls. It is so amazing, that different cuisines have such similar recipes!!

I saw a lot of recipes on various blogs for idiyappam using all sorts of flours from the traditional rice based to more unique ones like ragi and oats. Now that I have this recipe under control, I think I shall venture out into those! 


Adapted from here
Ingredients

Rice Flour 2 cups
Coconut Milk 2 tbsp
Water 2 cups
Salt 1 tsp


Method

Line a idiyappam maker or a chakri maker with some oil. In an idli stand or a deep vessel, fill water and keep ready. Line idli plates or flat plate with holes with some oil and set aside. 

In a deep pan heat the water. Once bubbles appear, add in the rice flour and salt. Using a rolling pin or the back of a ladle, mix it well to form a soft yet moist dough. 

To check if it is done, make a small ball with your fingers. If it does not stick to your fingers, it is done. 

While the dough is warm, make balls and fill the idiyappam maker or chakri maker. Drop thin noodles onto the greased plates ensuring you do not pile a lot of them in one area. Place them in the steamer. 

Steam for 10-12 minutes and remove. Pour coconut milk on them and serve warm with Kerala style Vegetable Stew.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Almond Butter M&M Cookies

How about some cookies made with Almond Butter and M&M. After all, Chocolate and Almonds is a combination made in heaven, right?



It has been so long since I made some cookies. A couple of weeks back I found some packets of Holiday special M&M and Crunch pieces while shopping at a local store. They looked so cute and inviting, I HAD to get them home. 

So I did and started thinking of how to make them into cookies. Plus, I had a jar of Almond Butter from a promotion I did not long ago. Combining chocolate and almond has been a winning combination since Hershey introduced their Nuggets with Almonds or maybe even before that. So I knew I had everything I needed to make some yummy cookies. 


Super excited, I got working with all the basic cookie ingredients together and started off. I mixed everything together and got the cookies going. The mixture was so delicious that as I was tasting for sugar, I ended up eating a whole spoon of it, just like that!! It was too good to let go.

I made about 12-13 cookies from the proportions mentioned below. They were small in size, just so that I can have some portion control. The M&Ms were popping out from the cookies and I added a few more just because I LOVE them. The result was much better than I expected. 

We enjoyed the cookies and finished them in no time. The cookies were perfectly sweetened, not super overpowering and not very bland. Plus, the almond butter had some almond bits that gave the cookies a great texture. That again proves that almonds and chocolate are probably a combination made in heaven. 



However, don't have almond butter? Don't worry. Any nut butter of your choice would be great in this recipe. Whether it is peanut butter or cashew butter, it will all work equally well in these cookies. And the result? It will just as delicious as this one! 

All you need to do is to mix all the ingredients together, make the cookies and bake them to perfection. Once done, enjoy them warm or let them cool completely. Finally, dunk them in some milk and enjoy it for breakfast or as a snack. 

Looking for something yummy to make for Valentine's day? Make these with the Valentine's Collection from M&M and surprise your loved ones!! A recipe so easy, your kids can help you bake these goodies for the upcoming Super Bowl too!!



Ingredients

All purpose Flour 3/4 cup
Almond Butter 1/2 cup
Egg 1, room temperature
M&M Candies 1 cup
Unsalted Butter 1/4 cup, room temperature
Brown Sugar 1/2 cup
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp 
Baking Soda 1/2 tsp
Salt a pinch


Method

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and keep ready. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. set aside. 

In a bowl or using a stand mixer, mix together butter and almond butter till creamy. Next add sugar and beat till thick and homogenous. 

Next add vanilla extract and egg and beat to a smooth mixture. Then add the dry ingredients and mix well. 

Finally, add in the M&M candies and fold them in, trying not to break them. Take 2 tbsp of the dough and make a ball out of it. Press it to a flat disc on the cookie tray. Press in a few more M&M into them. 

Bake for 13-15 till the base is light brown and the cookies are cooked. Remove and store in an airtight container. 





Friday, January 20, 2017

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Blogging Marathon #72 Week 2 Day 3
Theme: Dips, Chutneys and Spreads
Dish: Sweet Chilli Sauce

A versatile sauce that is perfect as a base for Asian dishes and a dipping sauce for some yummy appetizers. Psst, it has all the ingredients that you will have in your pantry!


Today is the final day of the Blogging Marathon for this week and my theme continues to be dips, chutneys and spreads. Over the last two days I posted a chutney and a raita. 

For the final day is a sauce that works as a sweet and spicy chutney, as a dip for most Asian appetizers and a sauce in making some Asian dishes.

When I was in India I used to buy bottles of sweet chilli sauce and use that as a dipping sauce for spring rolls and dumplings. Plus, it made the perfect sauce to make some yummy American Chopsuey and sweet and sour vegetables. We loved it so much that I started making the sauce at home.


Then I moved to US and the sauce was somehow forgotten. I chanced on this recipe on Foodgawker. I wanted to make the sauce again and what better time than for this month's Marathon. 

The day I made this sauce, the light was really bad. I took a few pictures on my chilling patio and finally gave up. Luckily for me, the next day was bright in parts and I managed some more clicks that I liked better than the previous day's. 

The sauce is a really simple one; with ingredients that are available in any pantry. From chilli flakes to sugar, salt and vinegar; we mostly have all of this really handy. And the sauce takes about 10 minutes from start to finish and can be refrigerated for a month. 


Yesterday I made some steamed momos and we enjoyed every bit of that with this sweet spicy sauce. California is in the middle of a storm and it is raining everyday. Nothing beats a snack of piping hot dumplings and a dipping sauce that is really flavorful. 

Today, as i type out this post, I am watching the rain again and feel like eating another bowl full of those steamed delights and some sauce. Hope you all enjoy this post and join me soon for the next post which I promise is super tempting and delicious!!


Ingredients


Sugar/ Honey 1/4 cup

Garlic 1 tbsp, minced
Ginger 1 tsp, minced
Vinegar 2 tsp
Tomato Ketchup 1 tbsp
Water 1 cup
Cornstarch 1 tsp
Red Pepper Flakes 2 tsp
Pepper Powder 1 pinch
Salt 1 tsp


Method

In a pan add all the ingredients except cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil. 

Meanwhile mix together remaining water and cornstarch. Once the mixture in the pn boils, add the cornstarch mixture and mix well. Cook till a sauce consistency is reached. 

Remove from heat and cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container and store refrigerated. Serve with spring rolls or any other appetizer of your choice. 








Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Strawberry Raita

Blogging Marathon #72 Week 2 Day 2
Theme: Dips, Chutneys and Spreads
Dish: Strawberry Raita

A perfect blend of sweet and spicy, this Strawberry and Greek Yogurt raita is a super versatile dip. From rotis and parathas to rice dishes and from waffles to toast, this one is superb for all these dishes. 


Raita is a combination of yogurt and spices with something like vegetables, sev, boondi or fruits. For the most time I have had vegetable raitas and posted them on the blog. From Beetroot Raita to Vegetable Raita, these are perfect with Vegetable Pulao or Biryani

A few months ago I saw a restaurant menu featuring fruit raitas. They had Pineapple, apple, mixed fruit and strawberry raita. I was tempted to try these and we called for the strawberry and pineapple raitas. The taste was awesome and the fresh flavor still lingers in my mind!

This week when the theme for the Blogging Marathon is dips, chutneys and spreads, I decided to try out the strawberry raita. With just a few ingredients, this raita is super easy to make. It only takes five minutes to make the raita and it is best when served chilled. 


The fresh strawberries and little sugar adds a sweet taste to the yogurt and the green chilli is perfect to add some spice to the raita. The salt is added to balance out the sweet and sour taste. 

The last time I made this, we all girlfriends met over lunch. I made this with some spicy Paneer Pulao and served it with sliced onions. Together with parathas and Indian curry, it was a complete meal and we had a great time! The leftover raita was enjoyed by our husbands when they came back home. While we had it with rice, they prefered it over a slice of freshly baked bread. 


For this one I used Greek yogurt. As the dip comes out nice and thick, it is perfect for all kinds of rice and as a spread for bread. As it has only Greek Yogurt and strawberries as its main ingredients, it is perfect for breakfast with toast and some honey. So this dip is a very versatile one. From breads to rice dishes and as an accompaniment for parathas and rotis, this sweet spicy dip is something I totally LOVE now! 

Such a wonderful dip, so easy to make. Make a big lot of this one and use it as you like. Next time I want to try out Pineapple Raita. I am sure that one will be just as good as this one!


Ingredients

Strawberry 1/2 cup 
Thick Yogurt 1 cup
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Roasted Cumin Powder 1 tsp
Green Chilli 1, minced
Cilantro or mint to top


Method
In a bowl beat the yogurt. Add salt, sugar, roasted cumin powder and minced chilli. Mix well. 

Chop the strawberries to small pieces and slightly mash them to get some juice. Add to the raita and top with cilantro and mint. Serve cold with Vegetable Pulao or Biryani





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Red Pepper Chutney

Blogging Marathon #72 Week 3 Day 1
Theme: Dips, Chutneys and Spreads
Dish: Red Pepper Chutney

A delicious blend of red peppers, tomatoes and spices. This sweet sour chutney is perfect for idlis, paniyarams and dosas!



Today is the first day of this week's Blogging marathon and my theme for this week is Dips, Chutneys and Spreads. These spreadable delights are perfect to spice up any dish. 

First up is a great accompaniment for South Indian dishes like dosa, vada, idli and paniyaram. Also a perfect topping for pongal and rice. 

For the longest time I have been making this Tomato Chutney. But ever since I tried this chutney with red bell pepper, I kind of moved away from tomato chutney to this one. 



This Vegan combination of peppers, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and spices is super tasty. Ready in under 10 minutes, this dip is really easy to make. I saw a lot of blogs that make this chutney is different ways. Some add roasted chana dal, some add urad dal and some even add onion to the chutney. I did not add any of these but the chutney turned out amazing. Since then, I make the recipe the same way.

While this chutney works well with South Indian dishes, we LOVED it for bread too. The combination is perfect for a quick snack. Also, as a dip for chips; this sweet tangy chutney is a welcome change from the regular chutneys. 



The day I shot this recipe, I made these Instant Urad Paniyarams. Together with the chutney and some gun powder, we had a quick yet amazing dinner. It is a perfect weekday meal when you are trying to get around cooking in a jiffy. 

With just a few common ingredients, this chutney is a must-try for all your South Indian dishes. Next time I am going to make this with my idlis. Can't wait to try this one again really soon.



Ingredients

Red Pepper 2 medium
Tomato 1 medium
Garlic 1-2 cloves
Ginger 1 inch piece
Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
Oil 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp

For the tempering
Oil 1 tbsp
Mustard Seeds 1 tsp
Dried Red Chilli 1-2
Curry Leaves 2-3
Urad Dal 1 tsp



Method



In a pan heat oil and add diced garlic and ginger. Saute for a couple of minutes and add chopped red pepper. Cook till soft and then add the diced tomatoes. Cook till the tomatoes are soft.

Season with salt, sugar and red chilli powder. Mix well and turn down the flame. Cool completely.

Process to a smooth paste and transfer to a bowl. Set aside. 

In a small pan heat oil. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Then add urad dal, red chilli and curry leaves. Transfer the tempering to the chutney and mix well. Serve with Urad Paniyaram or idlis. 









Friday, January 13, 2017

Butternut Squash Hummus

Roasted Butternut Squash adds flavor, color and amazing taste to the ordinary 7-ingredient hummus!

This recipe is part of Bonelli's Fine Foods' bloggers contest. By posting this content I have been entered in their contest. I have not been compensated for this content, however received free product samples. All opinions are my own.


The days are getting super cold and dull and I am hating all the monochrome around me. To make things a little better, I am making colorful dishes. They not only brighten up things around me, they are perfect in following a diet inspired by the rainbow!

Latest in my kitchen is this Butternut squash hummus. I was sent three jars of Simply Sesame spreads to use in any recipe. So for this recipe I decided to try out the creamy roasted sesame paste instead of sesame seeds and tahini. The result was a delicious and creamy hummus that was so easy to make.


For the longest time I have been making tahini to use in hummus. However, after using this ready paste, I was super impressed. The hummus making is now just one step; add all the ingredients in a food processor and mix it all. That it is!!

I had 3-4 butternut squashes. These orange beauties are perfect for making anything creamy and buttery. Every time I bake a bread or something, I usually bake a squash as well. Storing the roasted pieces in a ziplock bag and freezing it makes it really simple to use the squash in multiple recipes. 

Yesterday I did just that. Grabbed a bag of roasted squash, added the other ingredients and made a dip in under 10 minutes. To serve, I decorated the hummus with sliced carrots, cherry tomatoes, cilantro and brussel sprouts. 


On my last trip to India I got some lattice potato chips. I quickly fried them and served them with the hummus. The combination was perfect. The creamy hummus and the crisp potato chips would make a great snack and a perfect game-day appetizer as well. 

You can find out more about Simply Sesame Spreads by visiting them on their website and following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!



Ingredients

Chickpeas 1/2 cup
Butternut Squash 1 small
Simply Sesame Roasted Sesame Paste 1 tbsp
Lime Juice 1 tsp
Garlic 2-3 pods
Olive Oil 4-5 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Toppings including sesame seeds, carrots, tomatoes and cilantro




Method

Soak and pressure cook the chickpeas in 1 cup water. Reserve the water. If using canned chickpeas, just drain the liquid and set aside. 

Peel and chop the butternut squash into pieces. Coat with oil and salt. Roast them in a preheated oven at 350 F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let them cool. 

In a food processor, add the garlic and roasted butternut squash with salt. Crush well to a smooth mixture. Add some liquid from the chickpeas if required. 

Once the mixture is smooth, add the chickpeas and sesame paste. Process to a smooth paste using olive oil as required. 

Once the requ
ired consistency is achieved; add lime juice and mix well. Top with some sesame and pumpkin seeds, thinly sliced carrots and cherry tomatoes. Serve with chips, baked falafelpita breads or toasted pita triangles.



Thursday, January 12, 2017

Til Chikki | Sesame Brittle

Blogging Marathon #72 Week 2 Day 3
Theme: Festival Special
Dish: Til Chikki

An irresistible brittle made from sesame seeds. With just three ingredients and ready in under 15 minutes, this one's a keeper! 


Sankranti is just a few days away. For the past two days I have been posting recipes related to this festival. First I posted a Bhuni Khichdi that is famous in Punjab and yesterday I posted a famous dish from Gujarat, Ponk Vada. Today, I am posting a famous dish from the state of Maharashtra and Gujarat, Til Gud. 

Coming to the chikki, this one is made from jaggery and sesame seeds. People from the state of Maharashtra exchange pieces of this chikki and tell each other: 'Til gud Ghya ani god god bola' which means eat these sweets and start talking sweet things. 


The reasoning behind this sweet is simple; to enjoy freshly harvested sesame seeds along with jaggery, which is great for winter. This chikki is super easy to make, needing just three ingredients. Ready in under 15 minutes, this chikki is really simple and always on my list for Sankranti. 

Every year we join a local organization to fly kites in a school ground. It generally happens on a weekend in January. This year too, we are going to attend the kite flying event in the coming weekend. We shall take along various flavored chikkis and enjoy it with spicy Undhiyu and Puri. And not to forget, we shall fly tons of kites and have a great time!


Generally, we like to have chikkis of different kinds. The most common ones are Mamra (Puffed Rice) ChikkiOats and Dry-Fruit ChikkiPeanut Chikki and Til Ladoo. Earlier, my mother and grandmother used to make all these chikki and we used to get truckloads on the terrace while flying kites. Now that I have to make them, I try and make them a week in advance so we can enjoy them through the festive season. 

This year, my preparation has just started and hope I finish all the chikkis before the weekend. And most of all, hope I can picture them all for the blog too! Meanwhile, hope you all have a great Sankranti!


Ingredients

Sesame Seeds 1 cup
Jaggery 1 cup, finely chopped
Ghee/ Clarified Butter 1 tbsp


Method

In a wide pan dry roast the sesame seeds till fragrant but still the same color. Make sure they do not turn brown. Remove and set aside. Line a parchment paper with ghee and keep ready.

Add the ghee and jaggery in the pan and heat on medium flame. Keep stirring and heat till the jaggery melts. Then add the sesame seeds and mix it all in. 

Transfer to the parchment paper and roll thin using a greased rolling pin. Cut the chikki into pieces while still warm. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.