April 22, 2020

Pasta in Red Sauce - No Onion No Garlic


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I am not a great fan of pasta but V loves pasta to the core especially when it is loaded with a lot of cheese and flavored with chilli flakes and oregano .
Pasta would always be on his menu when we dined out as I wouldn't make it at home since I was skeptical about the outcome and flavors .Now with the ongoing lockdown , all restaurant outings and dinners have taken a back seat and I thought this was the time to overcome my inhibition and try to satisfy V's craving of a cheesy pasta and I was  very happy with the texture and taste of the pasta and so was V , except for his comment was "some more cheese would have made it top class" ....hahaha that is because the health freak inside me uses cheese sparingly..
So for all the first timers who are skeptical about trying, go ahead and give it a try, it is easy and yummy .

Preparation Time : 20 mins
Cooking Time : 40 mins
Serves : 1
Complexity: Medium

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Ingredients
1 cup pasta
3 medium sized tomatoes
1/2 capsicum
2 small green chillies finely chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 olive oil
Basil/parsley/cilantro for garnish
Cheese as needed
Salt
Pinch of sugar

Method

  • Boil the pasta al dente (until soft) as per the instructions on the back of the pack . I have used penne pasta here, you could use elbow,fusseli,twisted pasta anything that you like .
  • Drain the water through a colander and run cold water over the pasta and let it cool down.
  • Grind two tomatoes into a fine puree and keep aside . Chop the other tomato and capsicum into small pieces .
  • In a pan , heat the olive oil and saute the green chillies,tomatoes, capsicum .Add some salt and let it cook until the tomatoes get mushy. 
  • Add in the puree , oregano and chilli flakes and mix it well along with some sugar .adjust the spice level as per your taste .
  • Let the mixture boil and reach a saucy consistency and the raw flavor of the tomato must not be there .
  • Switch off the sauce when the desired consistency is reached .
  • Arrange the cooked pasta in a bowl, pour this sauce over it , generously grate some cheese and garnish with basil /parsley or thyme .
  • I had to use cilantro (kothmir) as basil was unavailable due to the lockdown .
  • Serve it hot with some warm toasted bread and enjoy your dinner . 


Notes

If you like garlic ,then saute some finely chopped garlic in olive oil along with the chillies and tomatoes.

Italian seasoning of mixed herbs can also be used instead of just chilli and oregano flakes .
If olive oil isn't available handy you can make use of unsalted butter or any cooking oil like rice bran or sunflower oil .

April 20, 2020

Bhelpuri - Indian Snack


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Bhelpuri is one of the most loved and relished street food of India . It is called by different names in various parts of India like Jhalmuri in Kolkatta , Bhel in Maharahstra /Gujarat ,  Masal Pori or Mandakki in Karnataka, Pori Kadle in Tamilnadu .
Names may be different but the main ingredient remains the same - Puffed rice/kurmura/pori  Depending on the regions the various chutneys and flavoring spices added to this impart its regional taste, touch and feel to the snack .
As many of you might know about my love and connection to Mumbai , you just cannot separate the street food flavor as well as the Mumbai out of me .So as you guessed it right , today we shall see how to make Bhelpuri the way it is served in Bombay .
The main flavoring for bhel comes from the Theekha chutney and Meetha chutney which play a very important role .
You can check out how to make the two chutneys and store it in your freezer . If you have the chutney ready then it is absolutely a child's play to assemble Bhelpuri. 

Preparation Time - 10 mins
Cooking Time - Nil
Complexity- easy

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Ingredients
1 big bowl of puffed rice/kurmura/ pori
1 medium sized potato boiled and mashed
2 medium tomatoes chopped finely
1 medium cucumber chopped finely
1 medium onion (optional) chopped finely
3-4 tablespoons meetha chutney
2 tablespoon Theekha chutney
1/2 lemon
Finely chopped coriander
Some fine sev /aloo sev
Handful of Flavored groundnuts /fried channa dhall
Pinch of black salt
1 tsp red chilli powder.

Method

  • In a wide mixing bowl, add the chopped potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cucumber with some meetha chutney and theeka chutney and mix it well with a spoon . This will ensure the flavor is well absorbed by the vegetables. 
  • Add in the puffed rice, remaining chutneys, some flavored groundnuts /channa dhall, red chilli powder , black salt and mix it well until the chutneys coat the puffed rice nicely. Lastly squeeze some lime juice and mix it again .
  • You can adjust the spice as per your taste by adding or reducing the amount of chutneys used .
  • Lastly garnish the bhel with some crisp sev and fresh coriander and serve it with a cup of tea . 
  • I have not used onions as we follow a no onion no garlic diet at home . 
  • Fresh and thinly diced raw mangoes can also be added in the mango season



Meetha chutney
8-10 dates - remove the seed or use seedless
lemon sized tamarind
2-3 tablespoon powdered jaggery
1-2 tsp roasted jeera powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
pinch of salt.

Method
  • In a big vessel, add the dates and tamarind with 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil for 5 mins. Let it cool well.
  • Put them in a blender and grind it well and sieve it through a strainer.
  • To this thick extract, add the jaggery , red chilli powder,salt,jeera powder and about  1 cup water and bring it to a slight boil .
  • Once it cools down, you can refrigerate this chutney.
Theekha Chutney 

half a bunch fresh corriander / cilantro
1/4 bunch of pudina / mint
Few cashew nuts or raw peanuts
3-4 green chillies
1 tbsp lime juice
salt as per taste
pinch of  black salt
Pinch of sugar

Method

  • Blend all the ingredients except salt and black salt in a blender / mixie with minimal water only if needed.The lime juice does the needful.
  • Finally add the black salt and normal salt and mix well.
  • Store and refrigerate in a dry air tight container and use a dry spoon for prolonged shelf life.

April 05, 2020

Cucumber Pancakes - desi style


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Well we all know , necessity is the mother of invention and kitchen is a place where such inventions keep happening time and again .Today's recipe was also an outcome of one such times .  This month's theme in our Social media group was Pancakes . This was suggested by Ms Archana blogger at the Mad Scientist's kitchen who wanted us to come out with some different variations of pancakes in our own style . Secret ingredients given to me by Shobha Ji  of Shobha's food maza was gram flour /besan and cucumber while I gave her Quinoa and Sprouts . Her recipe of pancake can be found here. Do check her blog for some wonderful recipes from various  cuisines.

Well now over to the recipe... due to the sudden lockdown announcements and panic ..I realised I was running out of gram flour and the local shops also had run out of stock due to panic shopping. So as I pondered how to go about with the challenge , the good old staple of a south Indian home came to my rescue...well you all guessed it right ; Dosa Batter was my savior.
Now to know how to make this flavorful pancake do check my recipe below .


Preparation Time - 10 mins
Cooking Time - 3 mins per pancake
Complexity- easy
Serves- 2 -3



Ingredients

3 ladles dosa batter
4 tablespoon  besan /gramflour
1 medium cucumber peeled and grated.
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar
Oil

Method

  • Mix the gram flour with half cup water and whisk well to form a smooth batter without lumps. 
  • Add this to the dosa batter and mix it well .
  • Squeeze out the excess water from the grated cucumber and mix it well with the batter.
  • Adjust salt as needed . Add a pinch of sugar.  
  • Batter consistency should be just like dosa batter .
  • Heat a tava or griddle and pour a ladleful of batter over it . Donot spread like regular dosa. 
  • It has to be thick like pancake/oothappam .
  • Drizzle a little oil .cook on one side and flip it over . Cook well. 
  • Serve hot with a chutney of your choice.