Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vegetable Manchurian


I'd do a lot for Chinese food (Indo-Chinese Food). It might border on the illegal, oh heck, I'd swim in the underworld.....all totally unnecessary of course, coz I'm in India- the birthplace of goey, make-your-tongue numb Chinese! I think this is a cuisine that its namesake, i.e, the Chinese would be most surprised by. I've heard it a hundred times- how what we call Chinese food isnt really Chinese food at all.

But like someone or the other said, what's in a name. I want Chinese food! Surprisingly, its something that I never thought of cooking at home. Seriously, never crossed my mind. Until I stumbled upon a recipe yesterday and the idea was born.

So this is Indo-Chinese Vegetable Manchurian- a beautiful bite served as appetizers or with some spicy rice. There's an option to make it dry or with a sauce and I found a good recipe online here. I pretty much stuck to the recipe as is except for increasing the flavoring. Yum.

Vegetable Manchurian

1 Carrots
1/8 medium cabbage
1/4 medium Cauliflower
10 Green Beans
20 leaves Mint
6 Spring onions
2 Green chilies
7 Fresh garlic cloves
1 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp Soya Sauce
1/2 cup Multi purpose flour
2 tbsp Corn flour
Oil , for deep-frying
2 tsp Salt

Carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, mint and spring onions have to be finely chopped. Add multipurpose flour and corn flour to the vegetables. Then add the ginger garlic paste, salt. Make them into dough with water (very little). The dough should be tight and be able to hold shape when formed into small dumplings or balls.

Fry these balls in hot oil until golden brown. Chop the chilies and garlic, cilantro and set them aside.

Dry:

Heat about a teaspoonful of oil in a pan and fry chilies with chopped garlic. When the garlic turns golden brown add the soy sauce and heat it for a minute. Add a quarter cup of water and also the fried balls of Manchurian to the mixture. Keep on a stove for 3 minutes until the water evaporates. Take off heat and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Wet:

Fry finely chopped garlic and green chilies, spring onions in a pan. Then add the Soya sauce. To this mixture add 3 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of corn flour. Let the mixture thicken. Add a teaspoonful of salt and the vegetable Manchurian dumplings or balls to this. Heat for 5 min. Take off heat and garnish with cilantro.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Garbanzo Meal & Recipes

It's been years since I celebrated Diwali. When I was in the 4th standard, there was a huge scandal in South India which exposed the horrible working conditions and the abuse of child labor in Sivakasi, the capital of fireworks production. We, as school children, were encouraged to protest by staying away from fireworks.

A few years down the line, with our family never together for any festival, I simply lost interest in it all. I never liked the noisy crackers anyway, but the wheels and rockets are always fun. But then, Diwali is more than its fireworks. It's the triumph of good, a celebration of light and these are things that I would simply love to focus on at this point. I won't be lighting any fireworks tomorrow night, but I will think upon that beautiful flickering glow that I imagine one would see when looking down on this part of the world from space :)

I came up with Garbanzo meal, similar to corn meal and played around with a few recipes, all of which came out well. I especially liked the muffins, as its the first time I substituted eggs with flax seeds- the results amazed me!

Garbanzo Meal
makes 1.5 cups garbanzo meal

1 3/4 cup halved soaked garbanzo beans
1 pinch salt
1 tsp olive oil

Prep: Soak the garbanzo beans overnight. In the morning, rinse, drain and chop each bean in half. Spread it a newspaper and allow it to dry under a fan for a little while.

In a heavy skillet, add the oil and the halved garbanzo beans and salt and cook on low, stirring occasionally till the beans are dry and cooked through. Remove and cool. Pulse the beans in a food processor a few times to get the soft grainy garbanzo meal.

Garbanazo Celery Baked Pops
makes 10

Savory Garbanzo Meal:
2 cups halved garbanzo beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup celery
1 pinch salt
1 pinch cumin powder
1 tsp chilli flakes
Prepare just like plain Garbanzo meal (above)

To make the pops:

1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp celery chopped

2 pinches salt
2 pinches pepper
3 tbsp vegetable stock

In a small pan, heat the oil and add the chopped onion and celery. Cook till the onions turns translucent and remove. To the savory garbanzo meal, add the cooked onions, salt, pepper and vegetable stock. Mix with your hands to form a firm dough. Press the dough around ice cream sticks. Place on tray lined with greased foil. Brush oil on top as well. Bake for 25 mins at 200 C. Serve with ketchup.

Garbanzo Muffins
Makes 3


1/2 cup garbanzo meal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, powdered
1/2 tbsp ground flax seed mixed in 1.5 tbsp water
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 pinch salt

Mix the garbanzo meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the flax seed mixture, vegetable oil and milk and mix till just incorporated. Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin till the molds are 3/4 full. Bake in the oven at 180 C for 20 to 25 mins.

Garbanzo Skillet Biscuits
Makes 4


1 cup Garbanzo Meal
1/4 cup lukewarm water, approx.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable oil

Mix all the ingredients together. Add enough water to make the dough hold shape. Flatten in the palm of your hands smoothing the edges of cracks as you go. Lightly oil a skillet and place the biscuits on it on low heat. Flip once so that both sides become brown. Bake in an oven for 10 mins at 150 C just before serving with chilli or gravy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dried Fruit and Nut Cheese Rolls with Pomegranate Sauce


There are moments in our lives when we touch the heights of happiness. We usually attribute it to events- marriage, births....or periods of time like the years of University or school. For me, they are the nights of the year 2000. The first year of my wasted engineering degree. I was sharing an apartment with two of my cousins. Prabu was a medical intern who'd come home in the middle of the night, most nights. He'd softly call me awake and say 'Let's go'. He was, still is, an expert biker, with great skill and control. We'd take off, on empty roads, through the city, the nearby villages, under dark skies full of stars, fast, with the wind whipping around us, on some lanes with the headlights off, under total darkness....and there is nothing but quiet happiness, the sense of freedom, of infinite space, breathing freely, feeling powerful and content....and happy.

Most of the time, we'd return only at dawn, refreshed, eager to face the day. It wasn't the best time for me then with my confusion about what I wanted to do and what I was doing. And though it could sound a bit odd when stated simply, I'd say it anyway- I survived because of those long nights. They were the best times of my life :)


Dried Fruit and Nut Cheese Rolls with Pomegranate Sauce

1 cup soft cheese
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 to 15 sweet green grapes, halved
1 ring pineapple, cut into small cubes
1 cup chopped, assorted dried fruits and nuts-
walnuts
pistachio
semi-dried apricot
honey dried gooseberry
dried figs
raisins
2 tortillas (I made square shaped ones, you could cut round tortillas)

3/4 fresh pomegranate juice
1/4 cup sweet lime juice
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cornflour

Place the cheese in the blender along with the powdered sugar and lemon juice and pulse a few times to get a spreadable paste. Remove to a bowl and add assorted dried fruits and nuts. Mix well and fold in the grapes and pineapple. Spread the mixture onto a tortilla. Roll tightly, cover it with foil or muslin and place in the refrigerator for an hour at least. With a sharp knife cut it into rolls.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small skillet and bring it to boil. Simmer and allow it took cook till it thickens. Allow it too cool and spread onto the rolls before serving.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Crisp Onion Samosas


More than two weeks since my last post. And in them, I've been assaulted with way too many medical terms. Diabetic Retinopathy, Vitrectomy, Microalbuminuroia, Blood Pressure, HepatitisC...my father is a medical miracle. Years of self-neglect and angry defiance to our well meaning advice and now, he's where no one wants to be. My father's body has become a complicated system of units, each with their own problems. Dealing with them, is a dysfunctional family system that, like his body, is trying to work together :)...I'm smiling at the irony. There are new responsibilities that are being incorporated into my routines- I'm working my way to 'me' again and blogging and commenting will definitely be revived, albiet at a slow pace.

So, today we have this amazing Onion Samosa. People here in India will tell you that there are, in general, two completely different types of street food samosas. The North India one is a bulky crumbly pastry with potato stuffing. The South Indian one is a thin crisp, perfect triangle with spiced onions inside. I adore the latter. Unfortunately (and in my opinion, inexplicably) its becoming harder to find it down here. North Indian chaat has become very popular, it seems.

When I was in college, while others headed over to the canteen, N and I slipped away during every lunch break to a stationary shop nearby which sold just one eatable- a mound of crisp hot onion samosas. We'd have a couple, wash it down with a cool drink and head back, completely satisfied. There's nothing like an onion samosa. After a futile drive in search of them yesterday, I decided the time had come to make my own.

I experimented a great deal, making one samosa at a time. After three trials, the stuffing came out perfect. The dough was perfect from the start. The folding technique stumped me for awhile, because though the one I was using was alright, I wanted something better. So I sat down, channeled my inner nerd and with the liberal use of the Pythagoras theorem, deconstructed a samosa to come up with a template. It worked wonderfully well!

When the golden triangles came out of the oil, I didn't just feel like a chef, I felt like Einstein :D


Crisp Onion Samosa

Dough:

1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp fine rice flour
1/2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
Water

Mix all of the ingredients together with enough water to make a slightly sticky dough. Knead for a few minutes, cover and allow it to rest for 1/2 an hour.

Wrapper:

After the dough has rested, pinch off a small ball and roll it into a thin (1 mm) sheet, dusting with plenty of flour as you go. Cut out strips. Ideally, a 6.5 into 3 inch rectangle should do. Heat a pan and place a strip on it. After 10 seconds, flip it. After another 10 seconds, flip it again and immediately remove it to a soft muslin cloth. Keep it covered and make strips from all of the dough. Allow the strips to soften in the cloth for at least 15 minutes.

Stuffing:

3 onions
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 pinch turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
A few curry leaves
1 cm green chilly, chopped extra fine
Cooking oil

Add a dash of oil in a pan. Chop the onions lengthwise and use your hands to separate the pieces properly. Add the chopped onion in the oil. Stir to coat well. After a few minutes add the salt, turmeric, coriander and chilli powders. Cook for a minute. Add the tomato paste and stir constantly for a minute. Remove from the stove and allow it to cool completely. Chop up the curry leaves and mix it into the onions. along with the green chilly.

Deep fry:

Make a thick glue paste by mixing a little flour in water. Fill a wide vessel with oil at least half way up and place it on the heat. Assemble the samosas by filling with the stuffing. Make sure there are no breaks or tears. Lower the heat completely and place the samosas in the oil. Allow it to cook on low, flipping occasionally, until it becomes golden brown. Remove and place on kitchen towels to absorb oil. Serve hot!

Folding Technique: If you want the template, email me!