Friday, June 26, 2015

Egg Rolls & Caramelised Onions

Today's recipe ingredients are an almost straight lift from a Youtube video I had seen a while back. The big difference being, in the video, they made it in the oven while I couldn't be bothered to wait for it to heat up so I just used a non-stick pan to make it. This is basically a thin omelette topped with cream cheese and other things that then gets rolled into a cylinder and sliced into a pin-wheel shape. The trick is to use a non-stick pan that you know will help you slide the omelette off without catching. If you don't have a non-stick that you're comfortable using, just use the oven. I'll put in instructions at the bottom for the oven temp & time.

Like I said, I had seen the video quite a while back and I've been planning to try this one for a while with some variations on stuffing that I thought might be interesting. But I haven't been organized enough to have the ingredients at my disposal when the craving hit me. Today, I finally took the plunge and tried it out to see if I can at all achieve clean results. You see, this has some "putting together" to do an I'm really not very good with things like that.

Egg Rolls with Caramelised Onions Stuffing
2 Onions, sliced thinly (I prefer red but I had only the yellow ones on hand today)
1 Carrot, shredded
1 Tbsp butter
4 Eggs
2 Tbsp Milk
2 Green Onions, chopped small
2 Tbsp Cream cheese, softened
Salt n Pepper to taste
1/2 Tsp Soya sauce
1/2 Tsp Hot sauce
1/4 tsp Oregano, dried (optional)
oil to grease the pan

Heat up a pan and melt the butter. Add the onions and fry till they start turning golden and caramelising.

Add the shredded carrots to the onion mix. Save about 2 tbsp of carrots for the eggs. Season with salt and some dried oregano or any other herb if you wish. Give it all a mix and turn the gas off once the carrots have softened. Set aside.

Whisk together the eggs with spring onions and the saved carrots. Add a dash of soya sauce and hot sauce to the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat up a good non-stick pan and brush with some oil. Once hot, pour out just enough of the egg mixture to cover the base of the pan. The eggs fluff up when cooked so make sure you don't pour too much in one go.

Cover and cook on a low flame till the bottom is cooked. Flip and cook the other side for a few seconds before taking it off the heat and placing it right side up, on parchment paper or aluminium foil.

While the omelette is still hot, spread the cream cheese and the onion and carrot mix. Use the foil/parchment paper to help you roll the omelette. Try not to wrap it too tight or it'll break. The cream cheese will help keep the ends stuck together.

You can either serve it as is or slice it into pin-wheels before serving. Done!

Note 1: I'm also listing here some variations I want to try. If anyone does get a chance to try any of them out, please let me know how it turned out or you might have your own versions to try. The variety of stuffing is only limited by your imagination! ;)

- Cream cheese and smoked salmon
- sliced ham and cheese
- peppers with baby spinach or rocket leaves

Note 2: To make this in the oven, line a large enough baking dish or pan that has tall sides with parchments paper before pouring in all of the eg mixture. If your pan is not large enough, you might do this is in multiple batches to get thin enough omelettes. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 C for about 12-15 mins. Add the topping and then roll while still hot with the aid of the parchment paper. Slice once slightly cool and then serve.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Zucchini Pizza Boats

The latest obsession has been with using up a lot of Zucchini! There was a time when I first arrived in Romania and wondered what in the world I was to do with this vegetable. I had never bought zucchini for home-cooking before and thought of it as something that you basically saw in pasta dishes while eating out at an Italian joint. The first time I did have it, it was bland and utterly tasteless. It did not inspire any thoughts of culinary delights in me at the time. And then..... well...... I had an Zucchini Ricotta Tart at a friend's place without knowing what it contained and I was hooked. That recipe I will save for another day, 'coz I don't want my first recipe after the last long post to be a high-carb one. ;) But believe me when I say it was truly something else.

So like I was saying, I am no longer averse to zucchini as I once was and summertime markets being plentiful on zucchini, I have it on my shopping list most weeks. Yesterday, I tried a zucchini pizza boat that basically uses zucchini slices as the pizza base instead of the bread. I slathered one half with some tomato chutney and the other with my mint chutney before giving it a few pizza toppings. Sprinkled on some mixed dried herbs that came in a bottle imaginatively labelled as Pizza Topping and baked it in the oven just like a pizza! The results were seriously scrumptious and a fun thing to eat. When my son came home from school he went straight to the kitchen sniffing the air like a hound dog! lol! "I'm following the yummy smell mamma, what did you make?" Music to my ears people! Pure music!
Zucchini Pizza Boats

Here is the recipe for Zucchini Pizza Boats
2 large Zucchini
2 tbsp Olive oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
0.5 tsp Chilli flakes
2-4 tbsp Tomato chutney (you could use marinara sauce or red pesto instead)
2-4 tbsp Mint chutney (or use basil pesto)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp Ricotta cheese (or mozzarela)
5-6 Any type of sausage or meat topping you would like (I used sliced baby porc sausages)
1 good shake of mixed dried herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, parsley, thyme etc)
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Wash the zucchini and slice it lengthwise into halves. Pat dry the halves well to remove dampness.

Place onto a baking tray lined with foil and place the zucchini halves cut side facing up. The pieces should be able to stay stable. If they're wobbly, slice off a little from the skin-side to flatten out the base a bit.

Mix the olive oil with minced garlic, chilli flakes, salt & pepper and then brush it onto the zucchini slices.

Just like you do for regular pizzas, slather on your sauce(s) as the flavour base. I used a tomato chutney for one half and a mint chutney as base for the other. 

Dot with little bits of ricotta or mozzarella and then top with the sausage slices and/or other toppings of your choice. Place your toppings towards the centre for the cheese might push them off while melting in the oven.

Sprinkle on the mixed dried herbs and then the parmesan.

Bake for 15-18 mins till zucchini reaches desired level of done-ness. I took them out at 15 minutes 'coz I like it just cooked enough to still have a little crunch.

And that's it. Enjoy!

1. These chutney's were what I had on hand at the moment. You can use proper pizza sauce, marinana, red/ green pesto whatever takes your fancy. 
2. The zucchini I used were realy huge and very wide so there was quite a bit of the vegetable in each bite. For the next time, I think I will slice the zucchini into 1.5 cm slices rather than halves. The flavours will come through stronger I believe. However, I will have to see how things go with the water content. It might make the slices too wet as they cook since zucchini lets out quite a bit of water as it cooks. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Breathing again....

I am quite well! Hale and a little too hearty people! But the blog, it breathes again! :) It has been a long time since I felt enthused enough to write again. Recently though, some changes I've been making to my routines necessitated a log or record of things for my own benefit. So here goes another attempt at breathing life back into this space.

The Situation
Lately, I was finding that my eating habits have taken a serious nose-dive. Eating at all odd times of the day, snacking incessantly, bread addiction (I kid you not!), midnight snacking and worst of all just zero portion control! There was a time long long in the past...... when a visit to a restaurant would end up in a take-home doggie bag for me. I could almost never finish whatever I ordered for and the husband would always complain that we couldn't try out a larger variety of culinary treats. Since I couldn't even finish one portion of anything it was pointless to try out two or three different things at the same time! And ofcourse, where's the fun in taking it all home! These days though, his complaints are a little different.... Ahem..... I hear lot of, "Dude, that's my food!" while I quietly polish off everything on my plate and also his! I think I blame this in part on the post pregnancy eating binge while I was still nursing the baby T.

So yeah, it's a recent development. But now that she's turning almost 2, I haven't been nursing her in over a year and seeing that I've put on almost 5 Kgs in the last 4 months(!), I believe it is high time I bring about some change in routines. And ofcourse if this'll help me fit back into some of my pretty outfits without the belly bulge, it'll be a huge bonus. :)

In the past, I've found that cutting down on my carbohydrate intake has really helped me push up my metabolism and helped with weight issues in the long run. About a month back, I decided to start on a low-carb endeavour. Since I am generally cooking for one for lunch, I've tended to either skip it entirely and then binge on snacks come evening time or to eat multiple sandwiches slathered & piled with all things unhealthy! And that simply has GOT TO STOP!

Ergo, lunchtime = my nemesis.

My Program
I decided to start cutting back on my carb intake for this major meal of the day. I still eat normally for breakfast (thought I try not to eat too much bread then too) and dinner is always a full blown affair since its also family time. My plan so far has been to keep things simple in terms of the food I make. I try and get as much raw material as I can safely buy without things beginning to rot at the end of the week. This includes a variety of vegetables in different colours. Every season has its favourites ofcourse and for summertime, I'm sticking to cucumbers, red peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, yummy summer fruits and a lot of greens. Spinach, Lettuce, Arugula/rocket/rucula, whatever I can lay my hands on.

I try and work out a meal that'll keep me really full without having to load up on things like potatoes, flour, bread, corn etc. I also try to avoid all forms of sugar during lunchtime. So not a lot of bananas are used in my smoothies and even though I do some of my recipes do occasionally feature fruits like watermelon, I don't make it the central feature of the dish.

How have I done so far, you might ask. Well, I can tell you that my craving for atrocious snacking during the day has gone down to almost zero. I'm not craving bread anymore during the afternoons. Portion control is back. And I lost almost 2 Kg after the first three weeks! But then we went on holiday to Hungary and that was that! Put back 1 Kg almost instantly. I'm telling you, just looking at the food there will add a couple pounds! So, currently I'm see-sawing a little but I'm not going to let it bother me and will just keep at doing what works best for me.

Strawberry & Cocoa Smoothie

What about exercise?
Uh... yep. That has to figure into the plan at some point but I just haven't managed to do so yet and desperately need help with this. I started out with a couple of 30-minute step exercise programs I found on youtube and they were good to start with but I couldn't sustain any of it. What's stopping me? My very busy social life! ;) JK. I'm just not disciplined enough. My hope is that once I feel like I am motivated enough to stick tot he Here's my not-so-ambitious-yet-seemingly-unattainable plan of what I know I want to do:

  • Go for a 30-45 min brisk walk thrice a week, if not every alternate day.
  • Work on some Ab exercises for even if I lose weight it won't melt away from the belly without some encouragement.

That's it for now. I guess I could add to this list slowly if I ever get around to getting these two done regularly!

I started out this endeavour by posting pictures of my daily lunch on my Facebook page and a lot of friends encouraged me to start blogging the recipes 'coz they were interested too. I've put it off for a long time now, 'coz I genuinely didn't think I could sustain the plan! But now that I have more than 10 unique meal ideas, I'm finding that it might actually be useful to record the recipes that worked and also those that I'd like to modify for the next time.

And so it comes to pass ;) that this space will now go back to being used to record my kitchen experiments. The only difference being, a lot of the recipes are likely to be low-carb meals ideas that I have tried. I should however state now that I am no dietician and have no intention of referring to one either. So don't hold me at gun point for not keeping carb levels at 2 mg or something crazy like that. :D I generally refer to content on the web and mix and match ingredients and flavours to suit my tastes. So to that extent, these recipes are my own unless otherwise noted. However, that is not to say that any of them are conceptually original. They are my original attempts in my kitchen, that's all. :)

Namkeen Chhaanch & Stuffed Peppers

If any of this strikes a chord with you, I'll be most happy for you to join me here for my lunchtime adventures.

P.S. Recipes for posted pictures coming soon!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Aaloo Tikki with a hint of khatta-teekha!

For the last three days, it's been snowing non-stop in this part of the world. The temperature's been fluctuating so much in the last 10 days or so that I don't know how to dress anymore! I can't plan my son's outfits or any of mine for that matter in advance and have to wait till the minute we are ready to head out to figure out what jacket to take, whether to wear leggings or not, weather to carry an umbrella and what footwear to use - snow boots, shoes or regular pumps/flats! In the last 10 days, we've gone from being at 14 C to -6. And worse still, in one single day, from 8 C to -5 C!! And that's all in the day time!

With rain and snow and one short freak hail episode, we're now settling back into a time warp with it being winter at the end of March! My woes are compounded by the fact that all these weather fluctuations are adding to the taste bud chaos! I go from wanting a cool lemonade to an extra hot cup of chai to craving some spicy Indian chaat to keep the chill at bay. Not that I get to indulge most of these cravings though. Yesterday, was a particularly bad day with wind and snow and rain and chilled to the bone just looking out of the window.

It was happenstance that I ended up watching videos of Indian street food vendors. Needless to say, BAD IDEA!! And you know how it gets when the cravings hit, right? And so started a 3 hour process of boiling and mashing and frying and soaking and what not! See for yourself! :)

Aaloo Tikki 

5-6 medium size potatoes, boiled and mashed
1/2 cup boiled peas
1/2 cup grated paneer
1 tbsp ginger paste
1/4 cup breadcrumbs, use as required
handful of coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp garam masala
Oil to shallow fry

Boil, peel and mash the potatoes.
Mix with peas and grated paneer.
Add all spice powders: salt, cumin, red chilli, garam masala and mix in well.

If the texture of the mixture seems too soft and you think the potato patties may not hold their shape while frying, add bread crumbs till you get the desired consistency.
Note: I like to add the bread crumbs in anycase to add a little crispness to the patties.

Add the coriander leaves and mix in again.
Divide the mixture into equal-sized flatten patties while oil is heating on a medium-high flame.
Shallow fry the patties in batches turning each one over 2-3 times to get an even golden colour all over.

Serve it hot like your neighbourhood chaat waala with spicy green chutney and sweet tamarind chutney and garnish of freshly chopped coriander leaves, slivered ginger and red onions. You can also serve this with a spicy chickpea curry, serve it as a veggie burger or like do a combination like I did, serving it with chickpea curry and tamarind chutney.

Tamarind Chutney
(A sweet and sour chutney that goes beautifully with any Indian snack or as a dip)

200 gms tamarind, soaked in hot water for 30 mins to an hour
200 gms jaggery
handful pitted dates (optional, I didn't use this 'coz I was in a rush to start eating and didn't want to spend time on pitting dates!)
2 tsp ground roasted cumin
1 tsp sonth (dry ginger powder)
1 tsp black salt
table salt to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar (add to taste if jaggery is not making it sweet enough for your liking)

Once the tamarind has been soaked in the hot water for a while, pass it through a sieve strainer to get all the pulp out. Use more warm water to get the pulp out completely. Mash it down into the sieve while straining so that you are left with only some fibrous stuff and the seeds which you don't need at the end.

Add jaggery and dates to the tamarind pulp and bring it to a boil slowly.
Add the spices and let the liquid thicken to the consistency you like.
Taste for seasoning and the correct balance of sweet and sour - as per your taste.
Add more jaggery or sugar as needed.

Cool and store in clean bottles. You can store this in your fridge for many months.

This is a fairly versatile condiment. Enjoy with chaat, pakoras, samosas, golgappas, or your choice of stuffed parathas! I have also used this as a dipping sauce served alongside chips or with grilled tiger shrimps and other finger foods. :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Keema Do-Piaza

The other day, I was desperately craving the Keema Do Pyaaza pizza that Dominoes makes in Delhi. And then I realised that it was the keema I was craving, not the pizza. So I set out to find a good original recipe for keema do piaaza/pyaaza. Would you believe that I couldn't find a single decent recipe anywhere?!! They all seemed to lead me to this one pakistani tv show which was awfully slow and tediously hosted. I simply did not have the patience to sit through the whole 40 minutes to get the recipe! Their printed recipe was in Urdu unfortunately. All the other printed recipes seemed to be for chicken do piaza. So I cooked up a version combining ingredients and styles I thought would give me an end result that would suit our taste buds.

So I found two schools of thought on why this dish is called keema do-piaza. Keema is minced meat (preferably that of lamb or beef), do means two, and piaz/pyaaz refers to onions. Some people claim it is called so because the onions are added in this dish in two separate lots, while others claim that it's because you add only two onions. The former reasoning seems more logically sound to me. 'Coz according to the latter, you would be using only 2 onions irrespective of the amount of meat you plan to use. That doesn't sound like it would give very consistent flavours each time.

The first technique is what I went with. Although to be honest, I did eventually use only 2 onions. :D

Keema Do-Piaza
500 gms keema
2 large onions
1 tbsp ginger, freshly grated
1 tbsp freshly minced garlic
2 tomatoes

1 tsp  chilli powder
1 tsp dhania powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp methi seeds
1 tbsp zeera
3 tbsp oil

Cut 1 onion finely and then brown
Cut the other onion in big chunks
Cut adrak roughly
Add methi and zeera
Add chilli, dhania powder and mix and add little water
Add minced garlic and ginger
Press into the meat while you break it into tiny pieces
Cut tomatoes small and add once oil separates frm keema
Add the 2nd onion and fry for a few minutes
Cover and cook till keema is well done
Add a little (up to 1/2 cup) water
Cover and cook on low for a few more minutes

Garnish with fresh coriander and ginger juliennes. Serve hot with roti or naan.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

'Coz I'm still a southie at heart :)

In May this year, I took on a full-fledged South-Indian meal for some of my friends here. I wanted to do a non-curry based meal 'coz that's one stereotype that annoys me no end. I mean, I understand what they mean when they say 'curry' and I have my favourites too but please Indian food is about so much more than the one tomato based gravy that seems to have caught the world's fancy! Anyway, I also wanted to do a specifically South Indian meal 'coz it isn't something people who don't know much about Indian cuisine would have tasted before.

This was my very first attempt at trying a lot of things and so a record here is mandatory from that perspective alone. But since it did eventually turn out to be a relatively successful meal, I've been wanting to post this with relevant pictures as well. Unfortunately, I was too scatter-brained to think of taking photographs of the food on that day and have been waiting to remake them so I could put in this post. And hence the delay. However, as you can see here, that is yet to happen. I'm too lazy to remake all of that or even one dish at a time! So here are the recipes for now and the pictures will come as and when I get around to it. :)

My Menu
Spiced Buttermilk served as an aperitif
Rava idlis with coconut chutney & a tomato-onion chutney
Lemon rice with roasted peanuts
Vegetable kurma
Chicken stew in coconut milk
And a lentil & coconut milk-based pudding as dessert

Some of this I've made before and have linked to the relevant posts. You'll find the rest below.

Enjoy on a hot summer day and keep the heat at bay! 
Spiced Buttermilk
1 cup plain yoghurt
3-4 cups cold water
1 tsp cumin powder
2-3 split green chillies
1 tbsp freshly made ginger paste

Blend everything together in a large bowl and chill for a couple of hours before serving.
You can also add some lime rind and a little squeeze of lime juice to kick this up a notch.
Alternatively, add the leaf from a lemon/lime tree. Does wonders to the flavours.

The consistency should be thinner than that of regular milk. Adjust the water content accordingly. And remember to stir well before you serve.

Coconut Chutney
This is my favourite go-to chutney when I want authentic flavours but don't have the time to fry and temper things.

1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup plain yoghurt
1 inch piece of ginger
2-4 green chillies, as per taste
Salt to taste

Grind everything in a blender to a fine paste. You can use some warm water or more yoghurt to help with the grinding but do not make it very runny. It should be a finely ground thick chunky mass. Do a taste test for salt and spice levels. And you're done!

Onion and Tomato Chutney/Chammandi
This was a super-duper raving hit! I was surprised by how much everyone liked it. I had people wiping the last drops straight out of the bowl! So here is the recipe for this super flavourful and simple chutney.

6-7 ripe tomatoes
2-3 red onions
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp curry leaves (optional but good to add it)
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
1 tsp coriander powder
salt to taste
3-5 tbsp oil
1-2 tsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp chilli powder (optional)

Cut the onions into thin slices.
Chop up the tomatoes into tiny bits.
Heat about 3 or more tbsp of oil and fry the onions till they reach a nice golden colour. Sprinkle a little salt while the onions are getting done since this helps caramelise them nicely and also quicker.
Add the tomatoes once the onions are golden.
Stir the whole mix and let it cook on a medium flame till the tomatoes have let out their juices and the mixture looks soft and mushy. You can add the sugar at this stage if the tomatoes are very sour.
Use a food processor to grind this cooked mushy mixture into a smooth paste.
Heat the oil again in the same wok/frying pan and add splutter mustard seeds.
Add the asafoetida and curry leaves and mix.
Now add the coriander powder and chilli powder, if using. Turn the heat down to low when you do this so that the coriander and chilli powders don't char.
Add the tomato-onion paste to this and turn the heat back up.
Check for seasoning. The chutney is ready to be served once you see the oil sizzling around the edges of the paste.

Have it on toast, sandwiches, idlis, or as a relish with grilled food of your choice.

Lemon Rice
1.5 cups cooked and cooled basmati rice (cook with salt)
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp black gram/lentil (urad dal)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 dried red chillies
1 small red onion, chopped fine (optional)
2-3 Tbsp oil
1 pinch asafoetida
handful of curry leaves or coriander leaves

Heat the oil and splutter the mustard seeds.
Add the asafoetida and black gram. If using curry laves, add them now and quickly stir it in.
Add the turmeric to flavour and colour the oil.
Dump in the rice and peanuts and mix really really well. Make sure every grain of rice gets coloured by the turmeric flavoured oil.
Add the coriander leaves, if using, now.
Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Mix thoroughly to evenly distribute the juice. Do a taste test to check for seasoning. You can add more salt or lemon juice if you need more.
Serve hot!

Optional: You can sprinkle some freshly grated coconut and coriander leaves on top as garnish before serving.

Chicken Stew - Kerala Style
A very mildly-spiced chicken stew in coconut milk. Usually had as a breakfast accompaniment with Aapams (a kind of savoury pancake) or Idiyappams (a type of rice noodle cake) in Kerala. It can also be made as a vegetable stew by replacing the chicken with any combination of vegetables - potatoes, carrots, beans, cauliflower etc.

3 cloves
1 small piece of cinnamon
4 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 slit green chilli
1 onion diced thickly lengthwise
1 Tbsp ginger paste
1Tbsp garlic paste (optional)
2 chicken breast pieces cut into bite size pieces
200 ml coconut milk
1/2 cup water
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

Heat the oil and drop the whole spices in as it gets hot. This will flavour the oil subtly.
Add the ginger and garlic pastes and saute for a few minutes. Also add the slit green chilli now.
Once the pastes feel less raw, add the onions and stir fry till the onions are transluscent.
Add the chicken pieces and saute till it starts changing colour.
Now add the water and let it cook on the med-low heat till the chicken is done. The water will not cover the chicken but this is okay. The water is just to ensure that the chicken doesn't loose all moisture and that the spices don't stick to the bottom and burn while the chicken cooks.
Once the chicken is completely done, turn down the heat to very low and add the coconut milk.
Let the whole mix warm through but do not let it come to a boil or the coconut milk might separate.
Turn off the heat and add salt as per taste.

The whole process takes about 20 mins including the chopping etc and your chicken stew is ready to serve with plain rice or aapams!

Parippu Payasam (Pudding made of whole green moong lentil)
While growing up, I had a dislike for anything dal-based. Kids can be strange like that! :) But since I got married and moved away from the delicacies from the south, I have a new found appreciation for these flavours like never before. This is one of my more recent favourites from the desserts of Kerala.

1.25 cups whole green moong dal
2.5 cups whole milk
200 ml coconut milk
1/2 cup cashews and raisins mixed
200 gms jaggery
1 tsp cardamom powder

Pressure cook the lentils in 4 cups water on a medium high flame till you hear 5 whistles. Take it off the heat and let the steam escape completely before you open the pressure cooker.
Put it back on a med-high flame, add 2 cups of milk and bring to a simmer.
Add the jaggery in 2 batches stirring often to make sure it dissolves completely and doesn't settle at the bottom and burn.
Check for sweetness before you add the second batch of jaggery.
Add 1/2 cup milk more if you think the consistency is thicker than you'd like. Add the cashew and raisins.
Once the jaggery has completely dissolved and the pudding has reached the desired sweetness levels, take the pan off the heat and add the coconut milk.
Bring it back to a low simmer on a very low flame, making sure not to let it boil or the coconut milk might separate.
Sprinkle cardamom powder to finish.
This dessert can be served warm or chilled, anyway you like.

Variation: You could also make this entirely in coconut milk if you want. In which case, skip the whole milk.

Note: So I told my mom about this and she says, "Eh? Green Moong? I've never heard of any payasam using green moong!!" So, I will now change my stand on this and call it a non-authentic version but still a very authentic tasting dessert! :D

Monday, July 2, 2012

My home, my pizzeria!

The other day when my hubby was travelling, the little fellow at home insisted on having pizza for dinner. Generally, I'm super lazy to plan to go out for dinner on a weekday and that too without the hubby. Instead, I usually prefer to order in the food. However, pizzas here are not the best when delivered home and worse, they're barely warm soggy sops by the time they get here. And if there's one thing I can't stand, it's a soggy pizza! Highly Unappetising!

Since the little boy refused to eat anything else that day, I thought I'd give pizza-making a try. Even if the crust wasn't as crispy or yummy as it's supposed to be, atleast it'll be hot and have cheese melting over meat and veggies over a sauce I know we like. :) I mean it can't be as bad as the soggy stuff we would otherwise end up paying thrice as much for, right! So out came trusty ol' Google and a few key strokes later, I had a recipe I was happy to try out. It didn't involve large waiting times for the dough to rise etc so it looked perfect  to me. Besides, mamma and son had fun deciding on favourite topping combinations and the whole house smelled like pizza hut! In all, a satisfying meal and a super evening.

We're waiting to do this with Daddy now! :)

Mini Pizzas (Makes about 4 medium sized pizzas)

For the pizza base
250 gms all purpose flour (or strong bread flour)
20 gms semolina
1 tsp superfine sugar
1/2-3/4 tsp salt
1.5 tbsp olive oil
5 gms dried yeast
150 ml warm water

For the sauce
1 can tomato pulp or 2 cups freshly made tomato puree
1 large onion, chopped fine (optional)
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced fine
1 tsp oregano or italian seasoning
6-8 fresh basil leaves (optional) or dried basil
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of tomato ketchup

To make the base:
Mix all the dry ingredients together and slowly stir in the water to form a soft dough. The dough should not be sticky so stop adding water once all the flour has come together.

Knead the dough on your counter for a good 10 minutes making sure to press the dough down with the heel of your and hand and pulling it back together. This will help the gluten get working. Knead till the dough turns soft a smooth to touch.

Smear oil all over a bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with cling film and let the dough rise for 45 minutes. And in the meanwhile, make the sauce.

Once the dough has almost doubled in volume, punch it back down and knead again on a lightly floured counter top for another  few minutes and then cut into 4-5 equal chunks.

Roll out chunks into smooth balls and press into disk shapes. Then roll out with a rolling pin into 1/2 inch thick disks and set aside on a floured baking sheet for another 10-12 minutes to rise again while you organize all your toppings and preheat the oven to 230 C.

To make the sauce:
Add oil and garlic in a pan and let it heat up slowly together so that the oil is infused with the garlic flavour.

Add the chopped onions once the garlic starts turning a light golden shade.

Add the tomatoes once the onions are soft. Add your choice of fresh or dried herbs and condiments, salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes cook on a medium-low flame for 15-20 mins. till the sauce thickens nicely.

Add the tomato ketchup and check for taste. Add sugar if the sauce feels too tart/sour. Your sauce is now ready to be spread out on pizzas or use as a base for any of the tomato-based pasta sauces.

To assemble the pizza:
Spread a thick layer of the sauce.
Sprinkle a little bit of cheese as a base.
Arrange your choice of veggie and meat toppings.
Sprinkle some oregano and/or chilli flakes.
Sprinkle more cheese to seal it all in.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes or till the edges of the pizza base have started turning golden.

Enjoy your hot and crisp home-made pizza with a tall glass of lemonade!

Note: Choice of pizza toppings are varied and really up to your imagination. Here's a small list of things that you could use. I used very basic things that were available at home that day - a much smaller subset of the list below.

Sliced onions
Stir fried slides mushrooms
Sweet corn nuggets
Chopped bell peppers in different colours
Pitted olives
Sliced Peperoncini
Fresh tomato slices
Pineapple chunks
Sundried tomatoes
Jalapeno peppers
Green chillies
Red kidney beans, cooked
Chickpeas, cooked
Smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
Feta cheese
Dried oregano
Chilli flakes

Porc Salami
Leftover grilled chicken breast
Meatballs, halved
Italian sausage chunks
Peperoni slices
Shrimps coated in butter, garlic and basil

Note2: The whole process took me about 1.5 hours from start to popping things in the oven - including the time to let the dough rise, making the sauce and cutting up the veggies. I started around 6:30 p.m. and by 8:30 p.m. we were biting into our first crispy slice. So even though it looks like many steps, don't get put off by it. It really doesn't take too long, even if like me, you're making the sauce and prepping the veggies at the same time.