Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hibiscus Tea - Iced and Hot


This is a sponsored post on behalf of  Nielsen Massey and I have been compensated with a free product sample. All opinions are 100% my own. 

With perfect tangy flavor and refreshing taste, this Hibiscus Tea is really yummy! And yes, the deep pink color comes naturally from the dried flowers. Warm or iced, make your pick!


Fall is here! I cannot believe it is the start of the colder shorter days, pumpkin spice, Halloween and Thanksgiving preparation and LOTS of warm cocoa. The weather in the Bay Area has been weird lately; super cool in the mornings, warm all day and then cool again! 

Between the temperature changes and funny weather; I am making up my mind if I should have HOT drinks or COLD! So I made something that tastes amazing in both forms. I had a cup of this warm tea today morning and will enjoy the iced version on warm afternoons. 

The drink is amazing in both it's forms but what I like best about this recipe is the color. A naturally colored pink drink is definitely something I want all year round. Plus it is free from refined sugar and needs only a handful of ingredients. Make a bulk in enjoy warm at any Fall party or have an Iced version of this as a welcome drink.


For the longest time I have been a fan of pink colored recipes. I love to use beets, strawberries or prickly pear to color food naturally. If you like pink recipes too, you must try one of these:




How to make Hibiscus Tea

Coming back to the recipe, I used Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Paste to flavor the tea. Made from high quality California Lemons, these add a sweet bright citrus flavor to dishes without the need of juice and zest! It helps get a great flavor to the tea. 

I bought a ton of dried hibiscus flowers not long ago. I have been having these teas since then. Sometimes adding some mint leaves or flavoring using lemongrass, this tea is soothing and easy to make. And yes, the tea can be enjoyed hot or cold. It tastes equally delicious in both forms.


Enjoying a glass of Agua De Jamaica

A common drink in Mexico, Agua De Jamaica is a chilled glass of hibiscus infused tea, with some added sugar (or sweetener) and lime. For those familiar with the cuisine must have come across TONS of recipes of the drink.

If you ever visit a Mexican specialty store, you will definitely find bulk packets of these dried flowers. Used extensively in other countries too, this drink has a slight tart and tangy flavor similar to that or cranberries. 

This recipe can be made into chilled Agua by pouring the tea over ice. It is great when served with a slice of lemon or some mint leaves. 


Variations

I made this drink using dried hibiscus flowers. However, the same can be made using fresh flowers. To do so, wash and separate the petals. Use only the red part of the petals to make the drink. The white part makes it bitter.

Adding sugar instead of honey or maple syrup works well in the recipe. Add about 1/4 cup sugar in 4 cups of tea and add more if you like it sweeter. 

Zesting some lemon in the tea or adding some cinnamon or star anise is a great idea to make a spiced version. I have added some cardamom too, but did not go ver well with the already flavorful tea. 

With all this information on the flowers and the drink, dive into the recipe to make your own glass. Sip on and enjoy! 


Ingredients 

Dried Hibiscus Flowers 1/4 cup
Water 4 cups
Maple Syrup/honey 3 tsp (more if you like the tea sweeter)


Method

In a pan heat the water. Once it is bubbling, add the dried flowers and boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn down the flame and add the lemon paste and maple syrup. 

Mix well and pass through a fine mesh strainer into a kettle. Serve hot if you desire.

If you like it cold, pour over ice in a glass. Add more maple syrup or honey if you like it sweeter.  

Enjoy your drink cold or hot! 


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Burnt Garlic Fried Rice

A perfect weeknight option, this Burnt Garlic Rice is FULL of crunchy garlic, rice and vegetables. Easy to make and always YUM! 


Indo-Chinese food makes an appearance on our weekly menu! Whether it is Manchurian or Crispy Vegetables and Chinese Bhel or Hakka noodles; we enjoy all of these at home and at a couple of popular restaurants in the Bay Area! It is the cuisine we have the MOST after Indian cuisine.

One of the BEST dishes from the Indo-Chinese menu is Burnt Garlic Fried Rice. Pretty similar to Fried Rice or Schezwan Rice, this one has a TON of fried garlic for crunch and flavor. It is really easy to make and always YUM! 

It is no surprise that the blog will have a lot of Indo-Chinese recipes, given how much we enjoy it. If you are a fan of Indo-Chinese recipes like our family, you MUST check these out:
A perfect combination of rice, vegetables and sauces, this stir-fry recipe is our favorite weeknight recipe that doubles as an awesome lunchbox recipe. Plus, it comes together pretty quickly. And yes, this comes out really great with leftover rice too. 


How to get it right EACH time?

If you do not have leftover rice, make sure you cook the rice till only about 70-80% done. If the rice is completely cooked, they will get mushy when stir frying. Cool the rice completely before using so that the grains separate. That is the only  secret to get the rice perfect each time.

The vegetables I used in the recipe are carrots, beans and cabbage. While peppers and onion are always in the recipe, the remaining vegetables can change. 

From peas to broccoli and mushrooms to cauliflower; everything can be added to the rice. Just add them in the order of the time that they take to cook. Do NOT cook the vegetables completely before adding the next one. They will get cooked with the remaining so leave them a little crunchy before the next! 



How to make Burnt Garlic right?

The star ingredient in this recipe is definitely the garlic. While the name says Burnt; if garlic is not fried properly, it can become hard and black. Not a great addition to the rice then, I like mine golden brown and not completely burnt.

It is super easy to get this right each time. Just make sure you add the garlic only once the oil is SUPER hot. Mix well and sauté for a minute. That is enough for the garlic to be crunchy but not hard. 

Remove immediately and set aside. If you like, let them sit on a piece of paper napkin. The excess oil will be absorbed. However, this step is not required as the garlic will absorb the oil as it cools. 

With all this information, it is time to get the recipe and start making the rice! I served this with my no-fry veggie manchurian and red cabbage salad. The recipes will be on the blog soon! 


Ingredients

Uncooked Rice 1 cup (regular or jasmine)
Carrot 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Green Beans 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Cabbage 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Green Pepper 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Spring Onions 3-4 stalks, white and green parts separate
Garlic 8-10 cloves
Sesame/ Sesame Chilli Oil 2 tbsp
Vinegar 1/4 tsp
Soy Sauce 1/2 tsp
Salt, Pepper to taste



Method

Wash and add rice with 1 cup water to a pan. Add a pinch of salt and boil it on medium flame. Keep covered and cook for 6-7 minutes, till the rice is about 70-80% cooked. 

Drain and add cold water to the rice. Drain and set aside. 

Heat sesame oil or chilli oil in a pan. Add minced garlic and quickly sauté till it is golden brown. Remove the garlic and leave the remaining oil in the pan. 

To the oil add spring onion whites and green peppers. Sauté for a couple of minutes on high flame. Add carrot and beans. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. 

Once the beans are partly cooked, add cabbage and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked rice, vinegar and soy sauce. Mix well and cook for a minute. Turn down the heat.

Serve warm topped with the fried garlic and spring onion greens. This rice is BEST served with Manchurian Balls in Gravy or Paneer Chilli! 



Thursday, September 20, 2018

Instant Pot Ghee using Unsalted Butter

The Instant Pot and 15 minutes is ALL you need to get a bottle of Liquid Gold in your kitchen. Follow this method to make ghee at home! 




Have you tried making ghee at home? The liquid gold of the kitchen pantry that makes Indian food even better! If you have not tried it yet, here is a post to make sure you make it at home ALL THE TIME!             



Making ghee may sound like a daunting task if you start it from churning cream. That is the method my mother used years ago. Then it was simplified by using Unsalted butter off the rack and making it on stovetop. And now with the Instant Pot, it is SO SIMPLE.



I have been making ghee for the last few years. It takes a few minutes but I make it so that it lasts me a couple of months. Since I got the Instant Pot I started using that to make ghee and now it is so easy to make it. With no fear of burning it or not cooking it enough, this version is my favorite way.

An ingredient that is widely used in Indian cooking, ghee can easily be bought from any Indian store. However, it is really simple to make it at home. Plus, with a long shelf life, you can make a big bottle and consume it for DAYS. No need to refrigerate ghee as it is great at room temperature. Just make sure it is in a clean jar to avoid contamination.


What is the difference between Clarified Butter and Ghee?

When you heat unsalted butter, it starts to boil and turn transparent. The milk solids separate and this is the stage that clarified butter is obtained.  

Once clarified butter is obtained, it has to be boiled further till the milk solids turn brown and settle at the bottom of the pan. This gives out a nutty flavor and smell. That is the stage that you know that ghee has been made! 



Uses of Ghee

As I mentioned above, ghee finds uses in tempering various dals, rice, curries and more. Plus an important ingredient in many Indian sweets, ghee is rightly called liquid gold of the kitchen pantry. 

If you are looking for recipes to use ghee, try one of these: 




Variations



I have been making ghee with just unsalted butter since the time I started making it at home. However, my mom was here this summer and told me to add a pinch of salt to the ghee. It changes the texture from a smooth paste to granular ghee. I have been using that method now and there is no looking back. If you want, you can add salt or leave it out.



The unsalted butter from the store works well with the recipe. Use organic or grass fed or regular unsalted butter. The method remains the same for all kinds of butter. I use the Organic butter from Costco or Kerry Gold Butter. They work equally well for me.


With all this information, it is time to check out the recipe of ghee using the Instant Pot. If you would like to try the stove-top version, find it here: Stove-top method to make Ghee



Ingredients


Unsalted Butter 1 lb (organic or regular)
Salt a pinch (optional)

Method

Thaw the butter for a couple of hours. This step is not mandatory, only to make ghee faster.

Set the Instant Pot mode to sauté, adjust to normal and set timer to 10 minutes. Add the unsalted butter and let it melt.



In about 5-6 minutes the butter will melt completely and start bubbling. The residue will settle at the bottom and the top will become clear slowly. 

Once the top is clear, shut off the Instant Pot. Add a pinch of salt (if using) and mix well. Though the pot is off, the heat is enough to make the residue turn dark brown and settle. So do not remove the insert yet.  



Let the ghee cool in the Instant Pot insert and transfer to a clean bottle through a fine mesh strainer. Cover and store at room temperature. The ghee can be refrigerated too (though not required).



Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rava Modak | Semolina Modak

An easy to make recipe for Ganpati; this Rava Modak needs a few ingredients and comes together pretty easily. Filled with a sweet coconut filling, this is AMAZING, I promise! 


We have been celebrating Ganpati in full swing for the last few days. We have a few more days to go before the Elephant God departs for this year. While he is still here, let us make something YUMMY for him. 

For those who do not know about the festival, Ganpati is a God we worship and we celebrate a festival for ten days each year. People get home or make an idol of the Lord and place the idol in their house, worship Him for 10 days with flowers, yummy sweets and lots of decoration. 

Though it has been a few days since the festival started, I made this lot for offering at a friends' place, so I decided to shoot it and post it here. I was juggling between saving it for later and posting it today; but decided to post it instantly! Probably a few readers will be able to make it this year! So the post is made, shot, offered and written really quickly to ensure it makes it on time. 


What is MODAK?

Modak is the sweet that is made in almost every household to offer to the God. It is made in various ways for the Elephant God as it is considered his favorite! The festival of Ganesha ends with an offering of 21 modaks to the almighty! 

There are various types of modaks; fried, baked, steamed, no cook and what not! I have been updating the blog with a couple of recipes each year, it is amazing to see how the list is growing. If you would like to see the different versions; check these out:


After all these types, I wanted to make something different this past weekend. So I converted the well known Indian dessert Sheera to modaks. Sheera is a sweet dish made from roasted semolina. I started off with a similar recipe and added some sweet coconut in the middle. 

The filling I made was from jaggery and coconut and given that it would be sweet, I skipped adding sugar to the semolina cover. The sweetness was balanced well in the entire modak and we LOVED it. 


Variations

I made a simple version with no additions to the rava. Adding saffron strands or flavors like rose or cardamom is also a good idea. Add some sugar once the milk is boiling if you would like a sweet cover. However, balance with the filling sweetness to achieve the right mix. 

The filling can be modified by adding dessicated coconut instead of fresh, adding some poppy seeds or extra nuts like cashews and raisins.

Making these is fairly simple and there is little to mess up in the recipe. However, just make sure the jaggery does not become super hard while making the filling. It is the worst to make it all and not be able to bite into it! 


These modaks can be made before hand and refrigerated. They taste amazing at room temperature so it is best to remove from the refrigerator a few minutes before having it. 

If you are making these for any other occasion, you can convert the same into ladoos or pedas. It is all about the shape; the taste will be just as great however you make it! 

Here are the sweets I made over the weekend to offer. The other recipes included in the photo are:



Ingredients

For the filling

Fresh Coconut 1/2 cup
Jaggery 1/4 cup, crushed or cubed
Ghee/Clarified Butter 1/4 tsp
Cardamom Powder 1/8 tsp
Almonds 2-3, minced

For the cover

Fine Semolina/Rava 1/2 cup
Milk 1/2 cup, room temperature
Water 1/2-3/4 cup
Ghee/Clarified Butter 2 tsp
Cardamom Powder 1/8 tsp
Salt a pinch


Method

For the Filling

In a pan add the ghee and heat. Once it melts, add jaggery and coconut. Let the jaggery melt for a couple of minutes. Do not cook it for too long else the filling will become hard. 

Add cardamom powder and almonds, mix well and turn down the flame. Transfer to a plate and set aside. 


For the Cover

In the same pan that the filling was made, add the rava/semolina. Dry roast for 7-8 minutes on medium flame, till it becomes aromatic. Transfer to a plate. 

In the pan add milk and 1/2 cup water. Heat the two for two minutes on medium flame and then add 1 1/2 ghee and salt. 

Mix well and bring to a boil. Once it boils, slowly add the roasted semolina and keep mixing till it all thickens up. It takes about 7-8 minutes to thicken. If it feels very hard, add some more water. The amount of water depends on the rava and each time you might require little extra or less water. 

Once the mixture thickens, turn down the flame and remove in a plate. Let the mixture cool a little till it can be touched by hand. 

Grease your palms with some ghee and knead the mixture to a smooth dough. Also grease the modal mold and keep ready. Divide the coconut jaggery filling in 8 parts. 

Pinch a small piece of the semolina mixture and press it in the mold. make sure it covers the sides. Then place a coconut jaggery ball and seal using the semolina mixture. 

Remove from mold and repeat to make the remaining modaks. I could make a 8 medium sized modaks from the quantity mentioned above. 

Enjoy immediately or refrigerate and enjoy for 4-5 days. 


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Whole Wheat Bread Loaf using freshly milled Flour


This is a sponsored post on behalf of Nutrimill and I have been compensated. All opinions are 100% my own. #sponsored #HarvestTheGood


What a satisfying experience it is to mill your own Whole Wheat flour and make a delicious bread loaf using it! Excited? Read on to learn more.


Bread, that loaf of goodness which makes a great option for breakfast sandwiches, a great accompaniment with curries or just a great snack with peanut butter and jelly. For the longest time I have been a fan of sliced bread and continue to be one! 

I started my bread making journey a few years ago and then there as been no looking back! I started off with the easier breads using all purpose flour and bread flour and moved on wheat breads a while ago. Now, I think I have reached where I wanted to; making bread from freshly milled flour. And this is all thanks to the Nutrimill! From wheat to wheat bread in a day? Yes that is possible; right in the kitchen :)  



Having a flour mill at home is a common practice in India and lots of people mill their own flours and mixes. When I saw the mill by Bosch in the US, it worked perfectly like the ones from India; but looked much prettier. Available in different colors, this one is amazing and easy to use. And BEST of all; “The food I put on my table to share with family and friends, is an expression of my love - and my values. Choosing to eat whole grains instead of refined flour transforms everyday dishes into meals that taste good and feel good.

I tried a ton of flours in the mill before writing this post. And I must say, it works really well with all the grains like rice, lentils, quinoa, corn and of course wheat! No oily grains like tapioca can be processed in this and I did not try that! From super fine flour for breads to thicker flour for Indian delicacies like dhokla and handvo, the mill can do it all!  




Coming to the recipe; I used freshly milled flour to make a whole wheat bread this weekend. I knew exactly where my flour was coming from so I was pretty excited. I did use some butter in this recipe; though I intend to make it with just oil in a few days. 

Bread from whole wheat flour has been something I have loved. Though it is a common belief among many that whole wheat breads are not as tasty or the crumb is not great; my experience is that if you make it with the right ingredients, it can be far better than all purpose ones. And this recipe helps you achieve that.



I started off with whole wheat flour and mixed in everything that goes into a regular bread. Finally, I coated the bread in some oats and baked it till golden brown. The result was a loaf that had the perfect crumb and worked great for all kinds of sandwiches. I even made a few bread croutons to top my tomato soup with! And it all worked very well. 

Now on I guess I am only making whole wheat breads for my family. They loved it too and enjoyed half the loaf as an accompaniment to curries for dinner! If you are a fan of wheat bread like me, you NEED to try this recipe. And yes, DO not forget to check out the Nutrimill by BOSCH. It is an amazing product and really well made! 

Check this out from Nutrimill! Or buy yours here
                                                              



If you like, get yours from Amazon NOW and start milling your own flour today!!! Buy here: Nutrimill Harvest

Ingredients

Whole Wheat Flour 3 cups
Essential Wheat Gluten 2 tbsp
Rolled Oats 1/4 cup
Milk 1/2 cup
Water 1/4 cup - 1/2 cup
Unsalted Butter 3 tbsp (Room Temperature)
Olive oil/butter to grease
Active Dry Yeast 1 sachet (2 1/4 tsp) 
Salt 2 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp



Method

In a bowl add milk and 1/4 cup water. To that add the sugar and 1 tsp salt. Mix and heat to warm. When the water milk mixture is warm (110-115 F), add the yeast, mix and rest covered in a warm place. The yeast will bloom in about 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl or the base of the stand mixer add the the flour, essential wheat gluten, 
unsalted butter, remaining salt and bloomed yeast mixture. Mix and make a dough adding warm water as required (I needed almost the entire 1/4 cup). Knead it to a smooth dough and keep working on it till soft. Once done, coat with oil or butter and rest covered for an hour in a warm place. 

Meanwhile, line a 9 inch bread loaf mold with parchment paper or butter/oil. Set aside. After an hour or once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead again for 5-7 minutes. Roll the dough out to a square of 9 inches. Roll it into a tight loaf. Sprinkle the oats on a tray and roll the loaf in it. Place the loaf in the bread pan and cover it. Rest for an hour. 

When the hour is almost up, preheat oven to 400 F/ 210 C. Once the loaf rises till the top of the pan, place it in the oven. Bake for 15-18 minutes, till the top is nice and golden. Once it is, remove and cool for 10 minutes. Then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. Use sliced for sandwiches, toasts or just enjoy it dunked in Masala Chai!  




Monday, September 10, 2018

Chocolate Modak

When chocolate comes together with a handful of yummy ingredients you get a YUMMY recipe for Ganesha. These chocolate modaks are easy to make yet addictive! 


I cannot imagine Ganesh Chaturthi is almost here. One of the BEST celebrated festival in Mumbai, we love to sing dance and have lots of fun during this ten day festival.

Along with all the fun and frolic; there are a LOT of sweets. Offering sweets made specially for the Elephant God is always on everyone's mind. And modak is the sweet that is made the MOST to celebrate. 

Modak is a traditional Indian sweet made from various ingredients. There is a steamed version made from rice flour and coconut, a fried version made using similar ingredients and multiple variations made using mawa, milk, coconut and a ton of other ingredients.


Every year I make a few types of modaks and post them here. It is awesome to see the collection build and here are some of my favorites: 

Why Chocolate Ricotta Modak? 

This year I wanted to make something different and delicious. So I made a recipe FULL of chocolate. It has been on my mind for a while. So glad I finally made it this year. 

Chocolate modak is made using one of the most versatile ingredients; Ricotta Cheese. This ingredient works well for all kinds of sweets and is a great replacement for Indian Mawa. It has a great crumbly texture and it can be mixed with any flavors to make it delicious. Chocolate goes really well with ricotta and makes the recipe yummy. 

Ricotta cheese is one of my favorite ingredients to work with. It goes well with savory recipes as well as sweet. Plus, it is easily available in US, at grocery and specialty stores. I generally have a tub in my refrigerator through festive season. It helps make some yummy recipes for all Indian festivals. 


Variations

I made chocolate modaks using the recipe. However adding just saffron strands or ground cardamom also works to make them. Some folks like to add some milk powder for a richer flavor, but I like to stick to milk. 

The same recipe can be used to make pedas. If you do not have the modak mold or are making these delights for Diwali or Rakhi; use the dough to make round pedas and press them down with an almond in the centre. They taste equally yummy.

With just a little preparation before time, a handful of ingredients and a NO FAIL recipe, an sure you will make these Modaks this year for Ganesha. Looking for more recipes for Ganesh Chaturthi? Check this post: Ganesh Chaturthi Recipes.



Ingredients

Ricotta cheese 1 tub (32 oz)
Sweetened Condensed Milk 1 can (14oz)
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder 1/4 cup
Milk 2 tbsp


Method

In a heavy bottom pan add the ricotta cheese and set it on medium flame. Cook the cheese for about 25-30 minutes, till all the water evaporates and you are left with a crumbly cheese similar to Indian Mawa. 

The same can be done in the microwave. Place a bowl of ricotta cheese in the microwave for 4 minutes. Remove, mix and repeat the process 3-4 more times till the water evaporates.


Next add sweetened condensed milk, milk and cocoa powder to the cheese and mix well. Let the mixture cook on medium flame for about 15 minutes or until it becomes thick. 

Remove a teaspoon of the mixture on a plate and let it cool. If the mixture feels dry, it is cooked to the right consistency. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for some time, till you can handle it with your hands. 


Once cool, knead it a little to remove any particulate matter. Now to shape, you can either make flat pedas or use a modak mold and make modaks out of the mixture. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy for up to a week.