Friday, August 27, 2010

Lollipop Lollipop... OOH Quinoa Quinoa pops!

Don't you just HATE it when you wake up in the morning & have a tune singing, Nay, NAGGING inside your head?

Its been a mixed week in terms of kitchen capers, An extended lethargy, thanks to a wonderful week off with family, combined by a jumble of ideas that I needed to untangle inside my head before making anything, leave alone posting!.
During a never ending session of 'clearing out my cupboards', I came across an sealed, unopened box of Quinoa  ( ) prescribed  as a rice substitute when I had Gestational Diabetes... (a clue to how long this had been sitting ... My kid is WAAY over a year old!).
 Since Quinoa was touted as a cereal with the highest proportion of protein, I decided to add it to Dosa batter: Result: Delicious with a slight floral note that I couldnt quite place...
Step 2, got a bit bolder, decided to make a pesarattu batter using equal amounts of Quinoa & moong:
 BAM!! The flavor notes brought in by the quinoa was quite unlike what one associates with a traditional south indian pancake; Nutty, reminiscent of Molasses (gud), & Sesame (which works very well when using the oil to make the pancakes!).

For the Batter:
1/2 cup Quinoa
1/2 cup moong dal
Salt to taste,
Asafetida (optional)
finely minced green chillies (optional)

Soak the Quinoa & Moong dal for about 3-4 hours till they plump up, Grind until you get a smooth batter, adding the optional ingredients if desired. Add salt and mix well. leave to ferment & rise overnight in a warm place.

Potato Filling:
2 large baking potatoes boiled, peeled & mashed
 1 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 green chilli finely chopped
 a pinch of asafetida
a pinch of turmeric
water as needed,
1 sprig Curry leaves torn to bits.
For the tempering:
1/2 tsp each mustard, urad dal & channa dal
1 tsp oil

To prepare:
 In a skillet, heat oil till smoking, add the ingredients for tempering. Stir till the mustard seeds pop & the dal have turned a golden brown. add ginger, chillies & curry leaves & stir. Add the mashed potatoes &  turmeric & combine well. Use a potato masher to remove any potato lumps using water if required. combine till cooked & remove from stove. Set aside to cool.

In a hot griddle, add a tsp of sesame oil & spread with a kitchen towel. Add a ladle of the quinoa batter and spread thin like a crepe. drizzle sesame oil & cover with a lid till the top surface cooks & the underside of the crepe turns a golden brown. Spread the potato mixture evenly on the crepe and roll tightly like a swiss roll. Rremove from griddle  & set aside.

To serve as an hors d'oevre, place toothpicks over the outer edge of the rolled crepe at 1/2 inch intervals. Using a serrated knife cut into discs & serve with a chutney of your choice. (Styling inspired from a food network episode  featuring Chef Jose Andres from Bazaar restaurant, LA...I think!!)

This makes a great dish for diabetics who may be watching  their rice intake without overtly making it evident that it is a substitute!.
 Bon appetit!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More grits please

This scene from one of my all time favorite movies 'My cousin Vinny' never fails to elicit a hearty chuckle, not matter how many times i watch the movie. The take home message ( if there is such a thing to be had from a complete 'masala' flick) is, the time taken to create any food from scratch is well worth it!

We seem to be ploughing through a lot of South Indian Breakfast dishes on this page and 'More Kali' (or buttermilk gruel) happens to be a total comfort for for many a southerner from the Indian subcontinent just as Grits are for southerners from the good ol' US of A.

The basic principle is the same, soak the starch in boiling liquid, add salt & cook till soft & gooey, top with a dollop of butter & chow down! The intrinsic Carb addiction in most of us ensures that it tastes delicious! The flip side, over indulgence!

My take on More Kali combines ingredients & techniques from 3 countries, but the end result is the same. YUM!
Slicing the more kali into rounds & grilling it a la an Italian polenta style gives it an extra bit of crunch & serving it thus gives it a certain measure of portion control..Hopefully!

Its served with dollops of butter & a cranberry/pepper/ ginger relish (or to put it another way, the cranberry analog of a kerala favorite 'puli inji') and fried preserved chillies (available in Indian groceries as 'more chillies)

For the More Kali you need:
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup grits or corn/maize meal (The white variety)
1 cup buttermilk preferably soured
Salt to taste,
A pinch of asafetida.
1 tbsp olive oil
Finely minced green chilli,
1/2 tsp mustard seeds.
Since it isn't easy to get soured buttermilk commercially, I soaked the rice flour & grits in the buttermilk along with the salt & asafetida & let it sit overnight.
In a Pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds & finely minced green chillies. once the mustard seeds pop, add the buttermilk soaked grits & rice flour, (you may add some water to thin out the mix so it doesn't dry out before getting cooked). Mix, well, cover & let it simmer on a low flame till the mix gets thick.
Spread onto a plate & let cool. Cut out rounds & grill with a drop of oil till golden. Alternately broil till golden on top (which is what I did for the photo session)

For the Cranberry ginger relish, you need:
1 cup diced green, yellow & red Pepper (capsicum)
5 Jalapenos diced (adjust to taste).
1/4 cup grated ginger,
1/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries.
Salt to taste,
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 tbsp Sesame oil
1/2 tsp toasted & crushed fenugreek seeds
a pinch of asafetida powder
for the tempering,
1/2 tsp mustard seeds,
1 dried red chilli pod
1 tsp sesame oil


In a skillet, heat 1 tsp sesame oil till smoking add mustard seeds & red chilli pod til they respectively sputter & turn golden brown. Add cranberry, bell pepper and jalapeno & fry till the raw smell dissappears and the cranberries begin to pop. Add Salt, turmeric, asafetida, grated ginger and the remaining oil & cook till the cranberries are very soft & mushy. The relish is done when the oil begins to separate. Add crushed toasted fenugreek seeds & remove from the gas burner. Allow to cool & store in a clean glass or ceramic jar. This will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You say Mille-Feuille, I say Paal Poli!

For anyone who needs a tutorial on Mille-feuille, references are a plenty. (Check out for starters!)

Among dessert offerings from South India, Paal Poli is probably not as well known as say, payasam,
& my personal opinion about it when I eventually tasted it 20 yrs into my life here on earth was , 'It looks eew!!' (Turns out, the reason why my mother never made this at home was because, my dad found it visually unappealing as well). But there is no denying the fact that it is a textural treat with the creamy milk & the chewy bites of the poori/poli morsels.

The best thing about this dessert is the ease of making it. Fry up a couple of pooris made from all purpose flour, drop them into warm sweetened milk with a pinch of crushed cardamom, saffron & garnish with nuts & raisins.

My version is Pooris soaked in sweetened milk and stacked with layers of saffron & cardamom flavored whipped cream in between.
My policy for creating recipes is 'If the concept works in a rough version with shortcuts, go ahead & make a final photogenic version' & trying this out was no exception. I was pleasantly surprised when the shortcuts I resorted to, made this a yummy albeit calorie laden treat. The flip side, No photographs of the process.
For this dessert, you need:

For the poli/pooris:
square wonton wrappers ( available in oriental grocery stores in the refrigerated section)
oil for deep frying.

For the Milk:
1 cup whole milk
Sugar to taste,
1/4 cup almonds peeled & ground to a paste
Crushed cardamom,
A pinch of saffron

For the Filling:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
powdered sugar to taste,
Crushed cardamom
A pinch of saffron

Fry the wonton wrappers till crisp & set aside. (alternatively you could make Pooris from maida using first principles & deep fry them, I just found the square shape convenient for assembling the dish!)

Combine the milk with the sugar, almond paste, cardamom & saffron & heat till it thickens slightly. Set aside.

Whip the cream with the other ingredients in a chilled bowl till it forms stiff peaks.

(Confession: Since I didnt have an electric egg beater handy, I made do with whisking these with a regular whisk in one of those tall insulated coffee tumblers. Worked just fine!)

To assemble:

Soak the fried wonton wrapper poories in the milk till slightly soft. Layer the bottom of a square baking pan with the poories.
Spoon a dollop of the whipped cream & spread evenly in a thin layer.
Repeat the above steps twice more.
Cover the top layer of whipped cream with the poories. Cover & set in refrigerator to chill overnight.
Garnish with toasted sliced almonds, pistachios & strands of Saffron.
Cut & serve with remaining milk on the side if desired.


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