Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Coconut burfi ~ Thengai / Nariyal Burfi ~ Indian coconut fudge

Coconut burfi is a classic Indian fudge like sweet that is made for a lot of events and festivals. It is one of the most simple and basic sweets that is not very complicated and does not take much time to make. With just four ingredients, ones that are almost always stocked in an Indian home, this sweet also does not require a lot of planning making it ideal for making it on short notice. 

I used to make coconut burfi using the sugar syrup method earlier, but my mother in law introduced me to this much simpler technique of coconut burfi that gives me most consistent results. Just heat everything together and when the moisture evaporates, spread on a tray, cool and cut. Cannot get easier than that when it comes to sweets. So if you are looking for quick easy sweets this festival season, give this one a try and enjoy it with your friends and family :)

 Coconut Burfi ~ Nariyal barfi ~ Thengai Burfi ~ Indian coconut fudge | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make coconut burfi
2 cups grated coconut ( nariyal/ thengai) ( see notes)
1 and 1/2 cups sugar ( shakkar/ sakkarai)
1/2 tsp green cardamom seed powder ( elaichi/ ellakkai )
5 tsps clarified butter ( ghee/ nei) + a little extra for greasing

Grease a tray or a pan and keep aside. I used a 9" X 9"  brownie pan this time, alhough in the past I have used any kind of tray or glass dishes too.

Place coconut and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and place on a low to medium low heat.mix and stir the mixture frequently.  At first the mixture begins to melt  then slowly the mixture begins to thicken.

Add clarified butter/ ghee and cardamom powder/ elaichi and continue to cook on even heat. 
Stir frequently and cook until the mixture begins to come together and no moisture remains. One thing I do to know if it's almost done, is towards the end, lower heat and put a little mixture on a plate, blow to cool a little and try to roll into a small ball. If it rolls easily and smoothly it's almost done, not fully but almost there, stir just a little bit until the moisture is almost gone and it comes together. The fourth pic below was just before I took it out to spread on the tray. You can just go by the visual check to see if the moisture has evaporated too, I just find this a useful technique to let me know its almost done :)


Pour onto pre greased tray/ dish/ pan and place a parchment paper on top and with the help of the back of a smooth backed cup or a spatula spread the coconut mixture evenly. If you do not have parchment paper on hand grease the back of a smooth backed cup and smoothen out the mixture.

When it cools a little cut into desired shape with a sharp knife.

 Yields approx about 36 - 1 inch square pieces. 

Notes:
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Baingan Cheese Toast ~ Roasted Eggplant Spread ~ Eggplant cheese toast

These days when I have to go pick up groceries, I make it really quick. I know what I want, make a list and pretty much stick to it when I am in the store, I try my best to be done in less than 30 minutes. I rarely linger around checking out things that are not on my list. That changes when R decides to tag along with me to go pick up groceries. He tends to linger and check out some of the aisles in a little more detail.

On one such trip a few months back, he showed me a savory spread , you know the kind that you can apply on bread. I took one look at the ingredients on the back of the container and placed it right back on the shelf.  But seeing the spread got me thinking about the kind of spreads we could make ourselves that would taste good.

Since I like eggplant, I thought something similar to baingan bharta would probably taste good. Once the idea entered my head, I could not shake it off. That same week I made a spread somewhat on the same lines as the baingan bharta, spread it on bread, topped it with cheese and baked it until done. The results........ yummy :)  Since then I have made this spread numerous times and we have enjoyed it every single time :) This toast works well for breakfast, as an anytime snack or even as a side for soup.

 Baingan Cheese Toast ~ Roasted Eggplant Spread ~ Eggplant Cheese Toast | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Baingan Cheese Toast
1 large eggplant / baingan / katrikai 
1/2 onion cut fine ( pyaaz/ vengayam)
1 Tbsp oil + a few drops more  to apply on eggplant 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds ( jeera/ jeeragam)
3 Thai or Indian variety green chilies cut fine or to taste ( hari mirch )
1 tsp ginger garlic paste ( adrak- lehsun)
Salt to taste (namak)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder ( haldi) (optional)
2 to 3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro / coriander leaves/ hara dhania

To assemble the toast
5 to 6 slices of bread ( I usually use wheat or multigrain, but any kind would work)
Grated cheese of choice as required ( use vegan cheese for a vegan version ) (see notes)
A little butter/ clarified butter/ ghee/ nei/ oil to apply on bread ( use oil for vegan version)

Pre heat oven @ 350 deg F.  Line a tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil and keep aside. Apply oil on the skin of the eggplant and place on pre lined tray and place in oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the eggplant is cooked. To know if eggplant is done, press gently with a wooden spatula or a spoon, if the eggplant is soft, it's done. The baking time will depend on the size and width of the eggplant. 

Remove from oven, allow to cool a little. Peel skin , mash eggplant and keep aside.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil, add cumin seeds/ jeera to it. When the seeds sizzle, add green chilies and stir a couple of times.

Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add ginger garlic paste and stir a few times.

Add mashed eggplant, turmeric powder if using, salt to taste and mix well. Allow the mixture to heat through for the flavors to mingle. Remove from heat, garnish with cilantro / hara dhania and mix well.


When ready to make the toast, pre heat oven @ 400 deg F.  Pre line a tray with aluminum foil/ parchment paper and keep aside.

Apply a little butter/ oil/ clarified butter / ghee on one side of the bread. Flip over and spread about 2 to 3 Tbsp of eggplant  mixture evenly on the bread. Place bread with the eggplant mixture side facing upwards on the tray. Proceed with the rest of the mixture in the same way. Sprinkle a little cheese on top of the eggplant mixture and place in oven and bake for 6 to 7 minutes or until cheese melts.

Serve hot with some ketchup, on its own or as a side for some soup. 
Makes for a nice weekend breakfast or as an anytime snack.

Notes:
This recipe can easily be doubled if required . This spread can be made ahead,if needed. Just cool thoroughly, place in an air tight container and store in the refrigerator a day or two. 

With this quantity I got enough spread for about 6 standard slices of bread, if your slices are wider/ bigger or smaller that could change.

If you are avoiding cheese, or want to make a low calorie version, you can skip the cheese too, just apply the spread and toast till the lower side of the bread turns evenly golden and enjoy :)

If you are looking for Bread snacks/ toasts/ breakfast recipes, here for a few more


Bread Besan Toast~Savory French toast

Corn Cheese toast

Chilli Cheese Toast
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Capsicum Zunka ~ Simla Mirch ki sabzi ~ Green bell pepper curry

Zunka as I mentioned in this post is a kind of curry that is made with veggies and chick pea flour/ besan and is from Maharastra ( a state in the western region of India). When I was living in Bombay and we moved to a suburb there, I was fascinated by the sheer number of small chapathi bhaji shops in our new locality.  Chapathi = Indian flat bread and Bhaji = curry in Marathi ( the language spoken in that region)

The variety of curries offered there were fun to try and I was introduced to a lot of Maharashtrian curries during that time. One curry that was consistently offered in almost all of these stores was Zunka. And from the first time I tried it I have loved this curry and now make it at home regularly.  This is a quick, easy curry that tastes great with phulkas/ flat bread and is ready in very little time making it ideal for weeknight dinners or when you are looking to rustle up something healthy and tasty in little time:)

Capsicum zunka ~ Simla Mirch ki sabzi ~ Green Bell Pepper Curry | Veg Inspirations

Click here for the printable version of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make bell pepper curry
3 large green bell peppers / capsicum/ Simla mirch / koda molagai deseeded and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large red onion cut fine (pyaaz/ vengayam)
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp chick pea flour ( besan/ kadalai maavu)
2 garlic cloves cut very fine (lehsun/ poondu)
1 1/2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp oil
3/4 tsp mustard seeds ( rai/ kadagu)
3/4 tsp cumin seeds ( jeera/ jeeragam)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder ( haldi)
salt to taste
3/4 tsp red chili powder ( lal mirch) or to taste
1/2 tsp coriander powder ( dhania pwd) ( optional)

Place a heavy bottomed pan on low to medium low heat, add 1 and 1/2 Tbsp oil and chick pea flour / besan to it and roast the flour until it emits an aroma. Take your time with this step, stir frequently so that the flour does not burn and remove from heat and keep aside when done.


Prep all the vegetables. In the same pan heat remaining 1 Tbsp of oil. Add mustard seeds to it, when the seeds begin to splutter add cumin seeds. When cumin sizzles, add garlic and stir until garlic begins to get creamy brown.


Add onions and sauté until onions turn translucent. Add turmeric powder and stir a couple of times. 


Add bell pepper/ capsicum, salt to taste, chili powder, coriander powder and stir until the capsicum is tender crisp.  Do not cover the pan with a lid while the bell pepper is cooking. Once bell pepper is cooked soft yet firm lower heat to low and add roasted flour to it a little at a time, stirring frequently.  Allow the curry to heat for a couple of minutes for the flavors to mingle, continue to stir frequently while the curry heats.


Remove the curry from heat and serve with  bhakri/ phulkas/ chapathis / rotis/ flat bread. 
Serves approx 2 to 3 

If you are looking for green bell pepper/ capsicum/ simla mirch recipes, here for a few more




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Friday, September 12, 2014

Mixed vegetable kurma ~ Broccoli peas curry ~ Side dish for phulkas and chapathis

Mixed vegetable kurma is an aromatic curry usually served with phulkas/ chapathis / puris. This curry is  found very often in South Indian restaurants and is often categorized simply as sometimes as chapathi kurma or kuruma. Unlike the North Indian korma which does not use coconut but cream to give the curry a creamy texture, the South Indian version uses coconut to give the gravy some texture and creaminess. I have seen some versions of kurma with coconut milk, but I haven't tried that yet.

This version with coconut and spices is my favorite mixed vegetable curry especially for phulkas. It's a very forgiving recipe and you can use any combination of vegetables on hand. Traditionally this curry does not use broccoli but I often use broccoli in this, it blends very well with the rest of the veggies and tastes great too.

Mixed Vegetable Kurma ~ Broccoli Peas Carrot Curry | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make mixed vegetable kurma
1 cup green peas ( matar)
2 cups broccoli florets ( or cauliflower florets, see notes)
2 med large potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (yielded 2 cups) ( aloo)
2 large carrots cut into 1/2 inch pieces (yielded 1 cup)
1 med large red onion cut fine ( pyaaz)
2 large tomatoes cut fine ( yielded 1 and 1/2 cups of pieces)
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp ginger garlic paste ( adrak lehsun )
1 bay leaf ( tej patta) 
1/4 tsp turmeric powder ( haldi) 
1/4 tsp red chili powder ( or to taste) ( lal mirch)
Salt to taste
2 to 3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves/ hara dhania) for garnish

For the masala paste
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut (nariyal/ thengai ) ( or frozen thawed to room temperature)
1 inch thin stick of cinnamon / dalchini
1 green cardamom / elaichi
2 cloves / laung
1/2 tsp fennel seeds / saunf
1 tsp coriander seeds / dhania
4 Indian or Thai green chilies/ hari mirch ( or to taste)
1 Tbsp broken cashew/ kaju

Grind all the ingredients under masala paste to a smooth paste with a little water. If you are using frozen and thawed to room temperature coconut, use warm water when grinding. Keep this masala paste aside.

Prep all the vegetables. Heat oil on low to medium low heat, in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add ginger garlic paste and stir a few times, add onions and sauté until onions turn translucent. Add bay leaf and stir a couple of times, then add tomatoes and stir until tomatoes turn soft and mushy. 



Add all the vegetables, salt to taste, red chili powder, turmeric powder and mix well. Add water as needed, cover with a lid and allow the vegetable to cook until soft. Add masala paste, add water if needed to achieve required consistency and simmer for a few minutes until the flavors mingle.


Remove from heat, garnish with cilantro/ hara dhania and serve hot with phulkas/ chapathis / puris.


Serves approx 4 - 5

Notes:
Instead of potatoes, Broccoli, peas and carrots, you can use 7 cups of any combination of vegetables like cauliflower, beans, peas, carrots, button mushrooms etc.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Kanda Poha ~ Savory Snack made with Beaten Rice Flakes ~ Aval Upma

Kanda poha is a classic snack from Maharashtra ( a state  in the western region of India). Kanda = onion and poha = beaten rice flakes in Marathi language. This classic is a favorite of mine and I am surprised that dish has managed to elude this space for so long. The only explanation I can think of is that I usually make this for weekend breakfast and weekends are also the time when I usually do not take pictures for the blog especially around breakfast time :)

Like any other dish, poha too has a lot of regional variations. My sister in law lives in Pune and tells me that people in that region add some roasted peanuts along with grated coconut to their poha. I have tried a lot of variations of poha including the ones I mentioned above and even one version of poha topped with sev and I have to admit that I have yet to find one that I don't like :) Every variation of poha tastes delicious in its own way :) If you are planning poha for your weekend breakfast or even for a quick evening snack, give this version a try and enjoy this easy tasty snack :) 

Kanda Poha ~ Aval Upma ~ Savory Snack made with beaten rice flakes | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Kanda poha
3 cups medium thick beaten rice flakes/ poha/ aval 
1 large red onion cut fine ( pyaaz/ vengayam)
2 Tbsp oil
3/4 tsp mustard seeds ( rai/ kadagu)
3/4 tsp cumin seeds ( jeera/ jeeragam)
3 Thai or Indian variety green chilies cut fine ( or to taste) ( hari mirch/ pachai molagai)
10 - 15 small curry leaves or 8 to 10 large ones torn into small pieces ( kadipatha/ karvapillai )
1/4 tsp turmeric powder ( haldi/ manjal podi) 
Salt to taste ( namak / uppu)
1 tsp sugar (shakkar/ sakkarai )
3 to 4 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro ( coriander leaves/ hara dhania/ kothamalli)

Optional garnish
2 to 3 Tbsp freshly grated coconut ( or frozen thawed to room temperature) (nariyal/ thengai poo)
1 to 2 Tbsp roasted peanuts (mungphali/ kadalai )

Serve with lemon wedges (nimbu/ elimbicham pazham) ( optional)

Place beaten rice flakes/ poha in a colander or strainer and rinse under cold water for a few seconds. Allow to drain completely for 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat oil  on medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Add mustard seeds, when the seeds begin to splutter add cumin seeds. When the cumin begins to sizzle, add green chilies and curry leaves and stir a couple of times.

 Add onions and sauté until onions turn translucent.  Add turmeric powder and stir once or twice. 


Add rinsed and drained beaten rice flakes/ poha and mix well. Add salt to taste, sugar and mix again. 
Close with a lid, lower heat to low to medium low heat, cook rice flakes/ poha for a minute or two until the poha heats through and the flavors mingle.Garnish with cilantro/ coriander leaves and serve hot with lemon wedges.

You can also add grated coconut and/ or roasted peanuts for garnish for this poha.  

The lemon wedges are optional, If you like a little lemony taste in your poha, you can sprinkle a few drops just before serving or on your plate.I like it both ways, sometimes with a little lemon juice and sometimes without, depending on my mood that day :)

Serves approx 2 to 3

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