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Spicy Diamond Cuts | Khara Maida Biscuits


Diwali is around the corner and all are busy with preparation of different sweets and savories for the festival. Diamond cuts are one of the easiest and quick snack for beginners to try out for Diwali. There are 2 versions of this snack - sweet and savory. Today am sharing the savory version of these diamond cuts.

Savory diamond cuts are also known as khara maida biscuits or spicy diamond biscuits. These diamond cuts are were addictive and perfect to munch on with evening tea or coffee. Ajwain not only adds a nice flavor and aroma but also helps in digestion too. But if you don't like ajwain, you can skip it or add cumin seeds instead. You can also make them ahead and store in airtight containers.


SPICY DIAMOND CUTS / KHARA MAIDA BISCUIT RECIPE


Savory and spicy deep fried biscuits with all-purpose flour flavored with carom seeds


Ingredients:

1 cup maida / all-purpose flour
1 tbsp melted butter / ghee
½ tsp red chilly powder
½ tsp carom seeds / ajwain / omam
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method:

1. In a bowl add maida, red chilly powder, ajwain, salt and mix well. Then add the butter and mix until well incorporated.

2. Now add water little at a time and knead to a smooth and soft dough. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into small lemon sized balls. Take a ball and roll out into thin circle. Cut into diamond shapes using a sharp knife or pizza cutter.

4. Heat oil for deep frying. Gently lift the diamond pieces using a spatula and add to the hot oil.

5. Fry in a medium heat until golden brown. Drain the excess oil on a tissue paper. Store in an airtight container.


My Notes:

1. The consistency of the dough should be similar to chapathi dough. If the dough is sticky, add more flour and adjust. Also do not roll the dough into very thin circles.

2. Do not add more butter or ghee as the diamond cuts will become too soft and will not turn out crunchy.

3. If you don't want the diamond cuts to puff up while frying, poke some holes using a fork before frying.

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Banana Blueberry Smoothie


Breakfast is considered as the most important meal of the day and starting our day with a good breakfast is very important for our health. But most of the times, breakfast is skipped due to lack of time in the morning hustles. One of the quick and nutritious options are smoothies. Smoothies make the perfect breakfast as they are portable, healthy and best of all, can be made in different combinations of fruits and vegetables.

Blueberries has the highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruits and is rich in vitamin C, E, A and minerals. They are in low in fat, helps in digestion and keep away constipation. Also they improve heart health, reduce cancer risk and boost brain health. So try out this low-fat, healthy and hearty breakfast smoothie with banana and blueberries.


BANANA BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE RECIPE

Serves 2

Low-fat breakfast smoothie with banana and blueberries


Ingredients:

1 banana
1 heaped cup blueberry
½ cup low-fat yogurt
¾ cup low-fat milk
1 tbsp honey / sugar

Method:

Chop the banana into small pieces and add to a blender along with blueberries, milk, yogurt and honey. Blend until smooth and pour into glass and serve immediately.


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Coconut Laddu | Condensed Milk Coconut Laddoo


Coconut laddo is an simple and quick laddo recipe that can be prepared during festivals. Diwali is coming up on 2nd November this year and this instant coconut laddu with just 3 ingredients is an easy one to make for the occasion. So if you are in a hurry to make sweets for Diwali, these coconut laddu are apt for you as they are done in less than 20 minutes!

COCONUT LADDU WITH CONDENSED MILK RECIPE

Makes 15 laddu

Coconut balls with condensed milk and cardamom powder


Ingredients:

200 ml sweetened condensed milk
200 gm unsweented desiccated coconut
50 gm desiccated coconut, for rolling
½ tsp cardamom powder

Method:

1. Mix condensed milk and coconut in a pan over low-medium heat and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the cardamom powder, mix well and remove from heat.

2. Allow the mixture to cool. Grease your hand with ghee.  Place the remaining desiccated coconut in a plate.

3. Now make small rounds balls of the mixture and roll them in the coconut.


My Notes:

1. Store the laddu in an airtight container and refrigerate. The laddu stays fresh for 3-4 days when refrigerated.

2. You can also garnish the laddu with almond or pistachios.


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Jeera Aloo | Punjabi Aloo Jeera


Potato is really the king of vegetables. They are so versatile and combines well with any vegetable. They always come handy when we need to make a quick side dish and it can be prepared in different ways to suit the rest of the meal. This potato curry is a quick and easy side dish for chapathi and rice-dal.

Jeera aloo is a popular Punjabi dish with potatoes spiced with cumin and other spices. Cumin has a unique flavor and adds an earthy, strong and warm flavor. Also cumin has many medicinal properties and aids in digestion too. This is a very dry dish, so pair it with a dal and rice or roti to make a complete meal. Being a dry dish, it is suitable to carry while travelling. I enjoyed this jeera aloo with Bengali Masoor Dal and chapathi.


PUNJABI JEERA ALOO RECIPE

Serves 2-3

Dry potato curry flavored with cumin and other spices


Ingredients:

4 medium size potato
2-3 green chillies, slit
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds / jeera
¼ tsp asafoetida / hing
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp red chilly powder
¼ tsp garam masala powder
½ tsp dry mango / amchur powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Method:

1. Pressure cook the potatoes until soft. Peel the skin and cut into medium size cubes.

2. In a pan heat oil and add cumin seeds. Once it starts sizzling, add asafoetida and green chillies. Fry for few seconds.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining spice powders. Fry for few seconds.

4. Add the potatoes, salt and gently mix making sure spices get coated well on the potatoes.

5. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Then roast the potatoes in high heat for 4-5 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.



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Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu


South Vs North Challenge, the brainchild of Divya of You Too Can Cook, had completed one year. A big congrats and thanks to Divya for hosting such an innovative event. I am glad to be part of this wonderful group and congrats to all the members for the successful completion of one year. This month, we are free to cook from any of the challenges posted by the South and North team in the last year. It was bit difficult to choose one particular recipe as all of them looked fantastic and tempting. But finally I decided to make this lip-smacking curry from Priya's blog, which I had been longing to make for quite sometime.

When I saw this Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu recipe, I had immediately bookmarked it as the kuzhambu looked so delicious and irresistible. The Chettinad cuisine is one of South India's well known cuisines and the flavors and aroma of Chettinad food are really tantalizing. The food is spicy and the use of variety of herbs and spices really tickles one's tastebuds.  The gravy tasted best with some hot rice and papad. It also goes well with dosa and idli. Thanks Priya for the wonderful recipe.


CHETTINAD PAKODA KUZHAMBU RECIPE

Serves 3-4

Chana dal fritters in a rich and spicy coconut-onion-tomato gravy


Ingredients:

For the pakodas:
½ cup chana dal / kadala paruppu
3 dried red chillies
1 tsp fennel seeds
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

For the gravy:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 medium tomato, finely chopped
6 garlic pods, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
Few curry leaves
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
2-3 sprigs of coriander leaves, chopped

For the tempering:
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fennel seeds

To grind:
1 tsp poppy seeds
4 tbsp grated coconut
6 cashew nuts
1 tbsp roasted channa dal / pottukadalai

Method:

To make pakoda:

1. Soak the chana dal and red chillies for two hours. Drain the water. Grind the dal, red chillies, fennel seeds, salt together to a coarse paste with little water.

2. Heat oil for frying. Once the oil is hot, take a golf sized ball of grounded mixture and pinch gently a small quantity of this mixture as shapeless pakodas and drop into the hot oil.

3. Fry the pakodas in medium heat until they turn golden brown. Drain the excess oil on a tissue paper. Set aside.

To make the gravy:

1. Grind poppy seeds, coconut, cashew nuts and pottukadalai to a fine paste with enough water. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a kadai, add the spices for tempering. Fry till they give out a nice aroma.

3. Then add garlic, green chillies, curry leaves and fry for a minute. Then add onions and fry till they become soft. Now add the tomatoes and fry till they soft.

4. Add the ground coconut masala and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilly powder and fry for a minute.

5. Now add 4-5 cups of water, salt and mix well. Close and cook for 5-8 minutes. Keep the gravy watery and add more water if required.

6. Once the oil is separated from the gravy, add the pakodas. Do not stir. Bring the gravy to boil once and then remove from heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.


My Notes:

1. Once the pakodas are added, they will absorb the gravy, so keep the gravy watery and add more water if required.

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Eggless Spooky Witches' Finger Cookies


October is Halloween month and we Groovy Gourmets are making some spooky treats to celebrate Halloween. Most of the Halloween food looked scary and I was wondering what to make. Just then I saw many of my fellow blogger friends posting this spooky witches finger for another challenge and the recipe seemed quite easy.

Though these witches' finger cookies look spooky and scary they are really tasty and melt in mouth. The cookies are perfect for the Halloween theme as they are shaped into long fingers with almonds as witches' fingernails. To make it creepier, red gel or fruit jam acts as blood. Lets check out how to make these spooky cookies.



EGGLESS SPOOKY WITCHES' FINGER COOKIE RECIPE

Recipe adapted from All Recipes
Makes 25-30 cookies

Halloween themed witch finger shaped butter cookies 


Ingredients:

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup confectioners' sugar / icing sugar
½ tsp almond extract
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ⅓ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Whole almonds
Red food gel or fruit jam

Method:

1. Combine the butter, sugar, almond extract and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat together with an electric mixer until fluffy.

2. In a bowl mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add this gradually to the butter mixture and beat continually to make a smooth dough.

3. Cover the dough with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F / 165 degrees C. Lightly grease a baking tray or baking sheet.

5. Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon at a time onto a piece of waxed paper. Use the waxed paper to roll the dough into a thin finger-shaped cookie.

6. Press one almond into one end of each cookie. Squeeze cookie near the tip and near the center and make lines for knuckles with a tooth pick.

7. Arrange the shaped cookies on the baking tray and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden in color. Allow to cool.

8. Remove the almond from the end of each cookie, apply a bit of jam or food gel into the cavity and replace the almond to cause the jam to ooze out around the tip of the cookie.


My Notes:

1. The cookies will appear soft in the beginning, but will set after cooling down.

2. Take little portion of the dough to make cookies and refrigerate the rest of the dough while one batch of cookies are being shaped and baked.

3. The cookies will expand a little on baking, so roll them into thin fingers.

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Bengali Masoor Dal


Dal is one of the most comforting and delicious food. A bowl of rice and dal is literally heaven on a plate for me. You can make different variety of dal by varying the dals and ingredients. You can make a simple dal tadka, or add in some vegetables to make a masala dal or a spinach dal. Dal goes well with plain rice, pulao and chapathi. Also lentils are a rich source of protein, dietary fiber, iron, folate and minerals.

Remember the panch phoron masala I had posted sometime back? Here's a simple and delicious Bengali style masoor dal using panch phoron. Panch phoron is nothing but a flavorful and fragrant spice mix of cumin, fennel, mustard, nigella and fenugreek seeds. This spice mix when tempered in ghee releases a wonderful aroma and imparts a beautiful flavor to the masoor dal. The dal tastes best with chapathi as well as plain rice and jeera pulao. Serve the dal hot along with some sabzi / vegetable curry.


BENGALI MASOOR DAL RECIPE

Serves 3-4

Bengali style red lentils / masoor dal with panch phoron tadka


Ingredients:

1 cup masoor dal / red lentil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 inch ginger piece, grated
3-4 green chillies, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
4-5 sprigs of coriander leaves
Half a lemon

For the tempering:
2 tsp ghee
2 tsp panch phoron
1/4 tsp asafoetida / hing
2 dried red chillies, halved

Method:

1. Wash the dal well and add 2 cups of water. Pressure cook the dal with turmeric powder for 2-3 whistles or until soft and mushy.

2. Mash the dal well and set aside.

3. Heat ghee and add the panch phoron masala. Once it starts popping and gives out good aroma, add the asafoetida, red chillies and fry for few seconds.

4. Add the chopped onions and fry till they become soft. Then add green chillies, ginger and fry for another 2-3 minutes.

5. Add the tomatoes and fry for 4-5 minutes. Then add the dal, salt and 2-3 cups of water. Mix everything well and bring to boil.

6. Cook the dal for another 3-4 minutes or till it reaches the required consistency. Add lemon juice and garnish with coriander leaves.


My Notes:

1. If you prefer a thinner dal, add more water and adjust the consistency.

2. Adjust the amount of green chillies according to your spice level.

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Green Peas Sundal | Pachai Pattani Sundal


Sundals are such delicious and healthy food that we shouldn't actually restrict to making them only during festivals. They make a filling and nutritious snack for the evening tea and coffee. Green peas sundal is yet another simple sundal that can prepared for Navaratri made using dried green peas. In this sundal coconut and green chillies are not added as such, instead they are ground to a coarse paste to blend nicely with the peas. The tempering in coconut oil furthermore enhances the flavor.

GREEN PEAS / PACHAI PATTANI SUNDAL RECIPE

Serves 2

Savory snack with dried green peas, coconut, green chillies and curry leaves


Ingredients:

½ cup dry green peas
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste

To grind:
2 tbsp grated coconut
1-2 green chillies

For the tempering:
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ split urad dal
1 dried red chilli, halved
¼ tsp asafoetida / hing
Few curry leaves

Method:

1. Soak the dried green peas overnight. Pressure cook the peas for 1-2 whistles with water just enough to cover it. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile grind the coconut and green chillies to a coarse paste without adding any water.

3. In a pan heat oil and add the mustard seeds. Once it crackles add urad dal, red chilli, asafoetida, curry leaves and fry for few seconds.

4. Add the cooked peas, turmeric powder, salt and saute for 2 minutes.

5. Then add the ground coconut-green chilli paste and mix well. Saute for another 2-3 minutes.



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Rava Kesari


I am happy to announce that my blog has completed 2 years! Thank you all for the love and support through your visits and positive feedback. No celebration is complete without a sweet. To celebrate this joyous occasion, I made the popular South Indian sweet Rava Kesari.

Rava kesari is probably one of the easiest South Indian sweet made with semolina, sugar, ghee and a bit of cardamom powder for flavor and aroma.. Rava kesari can also be prepared as a neivedhyam for festivals like Navaratri, Diwali, Vinayaka Chaturthi and Krishna Jayanthi. The key to making a good rava kesari is to ensure it is lump free while adding the rava and sugar. Ghee is the main ingredient that enhances the flavor and fragrance of this sweet, so do not hold back on the ghee. Kesari tastes best when served slightly warm but some love to have it chilled too.


RAVA KESARI RECIPE

Serves 2-3

Soft semolina pudding with ghee, sugar, cardamom, cashew and raisins


Ingredients:

½ cup rava / semolina
1 ½ water
1 cup sugar
¼ cup ghee
¼ tsp cardamom powder
2 tsp broken cashew
2 tsp raisins
Pinch of kesari color or orange food color

Method:

1. Heat 1 tsp ghee in a non stick pan and fry the cashews till golden. Set aside. Add the raisins to the same pan and fry till they puff up. Set aside.

2. To the same pan add 1 tbsp ghee and add the rava. Fry the rava in a low-medium heat until it starts turning golden brown and gives out a nice aroma. Set aside.

3. Add water to the pan and bring to boil. Add the rava slowly and keep stirring in a medium heat until the rava is cooked. Make sure no lumps are formed.

4. Once the rava is cooked well, add the sugar, kesari color and rest of ghee. The mixture will start to loosen up now. Make sure no lumps are formed.

5. Cook stirring continuously until it starts to thicken, starts leaving the sides of the pan. Also it would have absorbed all the ghee.

6. Now add cardamom powder and garnish with fried cashew and raisins.


My Notes:

1. Make sure no lumps are formed after adding the rava and sugar.

2. Add sugar only after the rava is cooked well.


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Yellow Moong Dal Sundal | Paasi Paruppu Sundal


Moong dal sundal is another variety of sundal that is preapred during Navaratri. Its a simple and delicious sundal made with yellow moong dal / paasi paruppu and coconut tempered with mustard, split urad dal, chillies and curry leaves. This sundal comes handy if you forgot to soak your legumes the previous day as it needs no overnight soaking. Squeeze in some fresh lemon at the end for a tangy flavor.


YELLOW MOONG DAL / PAASI PARUPPU SUNDAL RECIPE

Serves 2

Savory snack with yellow moong dal, coconut, chillies and curry leaves


Ingredients:

½ cup yellow moong dal / paasi paruppu
3 tbsp grated coconut
Pinch of turmeric powder
Salt to taste

For the tempering:
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp split urad dal
2 dried red chillies, halved
1/8 tsp asafoetida / hing
1 sprig curry leaves
1 green chilli, finely chopped

Method:

1. Soak the moong dal for ½ hour. Drain the water and set aside. In a vessel add 3 cups of water, turmeric powder and bring to boil.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the soaked moong dal. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until dal becomes soft. Drain and set aside.

3. In a pan heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it crackles, add urad dal, red chillies, hing, green chillies and curry leaves.

4. Add the cooked moong dal, coconut, salt and mix well. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.


My Notes:

1. Take care that the dal does not turn mushy.

2. Soaking helps in cooking the dal faster.

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Tarte Flambée


This month for the IFC challenge we are exploring French cuisine. In particular we are cooking from the Alsace-Lorraine region, which inherits partly German and partly French culture. Tarte flambée, kugelhopf and quiche lorraine are the most popular gastronomical specialties from this region and I chose to make the tarte flambée.

Tarte flambée is an Alsatian savory tart of thinly rolled bread dough in the shape of a rectangle or circle. Depending on the region, this dish is also known as Alsatian flammekueche or German Flammkuchen. It is a very thin crust of bread dough topped with crème fraîche or fromage blanc, thinly sliced onions, and small pieces of smoked bacon. In this vegetarian version, I have used soya chunks instead of bacon. You can also use paneer, potato or corn.


TARTE FLAMBÉE RECIPE

Makes 3

Alsatian soya chunks and onion tart


Ingredients:

For the dough:
1 ¼ cup wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
Ice water as needed

For the sauce:
⅓ cup 2% boiled milk
½ cup sour cream
⅓ cup crème fraiche
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg powder

For the topping:
⅓ cup soya chunks
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Grated cheese

To marinate soya chunks:
½ tsp red chilli powder
Pinch of turmeric powder
Salt to taste

Preparation:

To make dough:

1. Take both the flour in a bowl and add the olive oil. Mix the oil with the flour thoroughly using fingers.

2. Now add the ice cold water little by little and form a stiff dough. Be careful not to add more water.

3. Slightly grease the outer surface of the dough with olive oil and cover it using a cling wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

To make the sauce:

 1. Mix the sour cream, milk and crème fraiche. Season the cream with nutmeg powder, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.

 Method:
 
1. Add the soya chunks to boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it remain in the water for 10 minutes. Drain, wash in cold water 2-3 times and squeeze out excess water.

2. Marinate the soya chunks with chilly powder, turmeric powder and salt for 10-15 minutes. In a pan, heat little olive oil and pan fry the soya chunks for 5-7 minutes. Chop into small pieces.

3. In the same pan, saute the finely sliced onions with little bit of olive oil for 2-3 minutes and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 205 degrees. Line a tray or baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

5. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Roll out the dough into a thin circle or rectangular shape and place on the prepared baking tray and form a slight border by pinching the edges upward.

6. Spoon the cream sauce mixture evenly over the pastry. Sprinkle the onion slices, soya chunks and the grated cheese on top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.


 My Notes:

1. Add heavy cream or fresh cream if sour cream is unavailable.

2. Cream cheese, cottage cheese or ricotta cheese can be used instead of crème fraiche.

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