Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pesto Crepes

One evening as I stopped by at my friend's place on the way back from work, she mentioned to me that she had a huge amount of basil and was wondering what to do with it. So as we chatted over coffee, I suggested she use it to make pesto and freeze it. So as I called out the ingredients, she made the pesto right then; she gave me the other half to take home and so I did the same as soon as I reached.

Very simple to make this pesto - basil, walnuts, garlic and olive oil. Thats all you need. Really. Once it was ready, I froze it in three separate boxes so I could pull them out as needed.

And thats what I did the next Sunday morning, using a recipe I had seen in Nigella Express. That recipe was for pesto crepes with ham. We don't really eat ham that much- so all I had was chicken sausages and after cutting them fine and lightly sauteeing them, I added them to the batter itself instead of rolling them up inside the pancakes as the recipe did with ham.

This recipe makes about 8 medium sized crepes or 5 large ones. Took me about 5 minutes to mix everything together, another 5 minutes to rest and then 12 minutes to make the crepes. I put some shredded cheese into them, just before rolling them up to serve, but you could also put the cheese into the batter itself. A really quick breakfast option and very very delicious. The pesto made the crepes very flavourful and you don't need anything to accompany them.

P.S - I've been doing some spring cleaning around the blog - on the right are updated links to some of my favourite blogs; still some more blogs to add.
I have also updated the Recipe Index - so please feel free to browse through older recipes and do let me know if you have any requests in a particular cuisine/meal/food group.

For the Pesto: (adapted from a Jacques Pepin recipe)

4 cups basil leaves
6 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin is good for this)
3/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
1 green chilli chopped
4 cloves garlic

1.Bring a vessel of salted water to boil and put the basil leaves into it for just 20 seconds. Drain and rinse in cold water. Pat dry slightly
2. Puree the basil leaves along with the walnuts, green chilli and garlic adding half of the olive oil at first and then the rest slowly.
3. Remove and freeze.

For the Crepes: (adapted from Nigella Express)
1/2 cup pesto
3/4 cup flour
1- 1 .5 cups milk
salt to taste
1 egg
pinch baking powder

1 sausage finely chopped and sauteed for 2 minutes
Grated cheese - 1 cup

1. Mix all the ingredients together (except baking powder, sausages and cheese) and blend till smooth.
2. Add chopped sausages and rest for 5 minutes.
3. Heat a griddle and put a few drops of oil or butter on it.
4. Pour a big ladle of batter on the pan and swirl till it spreads into a circle - if too thick, add some more milk.
5. Cook on a low medium flame for 3 - 4 minutes, then add some of the grated cheese in the middle and roll up with a spatula. Turn the roll over and cook for a minute before removing from flame.

Serve warm.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kale Chanechi Amti - Black Chickpea Curry

Black Chickpeas are a regional speciality in Indian cooking - their preparation varies from one state to another. In Kerala, there is kadala curry with its distinctive coconut flavour, in Tamil Nadu, it is prepared as sundal - a lightly tempered savoury preparation of chickpeas tossed with grated coconut.

In Delhi, kala channa is a favourite accompaniment with kulchas which are sold as streetside fare. This is a popular cottage industry with the dish typically sold from the back of a bicycle - lightly baked flat breads are warmed up and served with a spicy semi-dry preparation of black chickpeas. My MIL was very taken with the idea when she visited us last year!

I have used these black chickpeas to make one of my favourite Maharashtrian dishes, amti - a spicy curry made with lentils or sprouted legumes. This reminded me a lot of Usal which is a spicy curry made with sprouts and is also used in making the popular snack misal - where the usal is mixed with other ingredients like boiled potatoes, peanuts, chopped onions, coriander, tamarind chutney, farsaan (fried snacks made out of chickpea flour) and even yoghurt to make a delicious filling snack.

I have used this recipe before for cooking black eyed beans to make chawlichi amti. For this version, I didn't sprout the chickpeas and used copra (dessicated coconut) and garlic to make a spice paste and added red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder along with some tamarind pulp to the cooked chickpeas and cooked everything down to a delicious gravy. The only thing to remember for this dish is to soak the chickpeas overnight. It then has to be cooked till soft - in a pressure cooker that takes about 15 minutes and another 20 minutes of simmering with the spice paste.

This recipe is a heavily adapted version of Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe for amti made from sprouted black peas (kale watane) - but the amazing smell of coconut and garlic, mixed with the pleasure of biting into the plump chickpeas, brought back some pleasant memories.

This lovely, savoury curry goes to Susan's My Legume Love Affair #26 which is being hosted by Simona of Briciole.

(E of Evolving Tastes has kindly pointed out to me that kale watane (which is what I had called this earlier) is different from kale chane - so I have modified it accordingly)

Kale Chanechi Amti - Black Chickpea Curry

Black chickpeas (sprouted or plain) - 1 cup
Copra (Dessicated coconut) - 1/4 cup
Garlic - 5 cloves
Onions - 2 - 1 sliced, 1 finely chopped

Chilli pd - 2 tsp
Coriander pd - 1 tsp
Cumin pd - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Hing - pinch
Tamarind - marble sized dissolved in 1/2 cup of water
oil - 2tsp
salt to taste
coriander leaves - 2 tbsp

1. Slice one onion and finely chop the other onion.
2. Heat 1 tsp oil and saute the sliced onions for 3-4 minutes, add the dessicated coconut and garlic cloves and roast for another 2-3 minutes. Cool and grind to a paste.
3. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan, add asafoetida and finely chopped onions; fry for 3-4 minutes.
4. Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and fry well for 3 minutes.
5. Add the boiled chickpeas, salt and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, on low for another 10 minutes.
6. Add the coconut-garlic-onion paste, tamarind paste and simmer for another 10 minutes.
7. Add coriander leaves for garnish and remove from flame.

Sig of Live to Eat has a giveaway on her blog - so if you want to win some goodies, take a peek!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My daughter has been asking me to bake cookies with her for the past couple of weeks now. I finally remembered yesterday to buy the unsalted butter I like to use for baking as well as spied on some chocolate chips in the local store. So, of course I had to make chocolate chip cookies!

I had seen some really amazing look choco-chip cookie in Nigella Express, but really there was chocolate *and* chocolate chips *and* cocoa powder as well as 2 cups of sugar in it and 125gms of butter. So, I decided to take the recipes I have used before and tweak it a bit - after all cookies are quite forgiving. I usually use a ratio of 1:2 for the butter to flour ratio and one egg for this amount is usually enough - don't like the smell when I put more than that- in fact for sugar cookies, I use only the egg white.

I added oats to the cookies to add some fibre, since I haven't used whole wheat flour in it. I powdered the oats though before adding it to the batter - my daughter (like many young kids) sometimes hates different textures in one food and I wanted her to enjoy her first home made chocolate chip cookie.

The cookies were rich and dark with the lovely bite of chocolate chips - they were soft and chewy too. I like my cookies crisp so I am going to experiment some more to see how I can make them crisper - would baking them for more time burn them? time to find out!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flour - 1 1/4 cup
Rolled Oats - 1/2 cup (I powdered it)
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder - 1 tbsp

Brown Sugar - 1 cup
Butter - 1/2 cup (about 60gms)
Egg - 1
Milk - 1 tbsp
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Chocolate Chips - 3/4 cup

Makes 15-18 cookies.

1. Cream butter and sugar together till smooth and shiny - 3 minutes with an electric mixer.
2. Add the egg, milk and vanilla essence and beat for another 3 minutes.
3. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and the oats. Pre heat oven to 180C (350F)
4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter, egg mixture - one third at a time and fold in gently.
5. Add the chocolate chips last.
6. Take a teaspoonful of the batter (not tablespoon) and drop on a greased tray leaving enough space in between two; the batter will flatten and spread so leave enough space. In my trays that means only 5-6 at a time.
7. Bake for 10-11 minutes - they will be a little soft, but will become firm as they cool. Transfer to a wire rack to cook.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Restaurant Style Biryani/Thali "Sideish"

This was the beautiful "sideish" which went with the rava idlis in my last post. The food blogging world is such a boon to foodies like me - you think of a remembered taste, an imagined flavour, a cherished dish and you can find out how to recreate it in your home. That weekend, I didn't want to make the usual sambar to go with the idlis, nor a kurma - which is usually my favourite. I wanted something more tangy and spicy - not a tomato chutney, can't drown the idlis in it! Puli Kozhambu is too fiery to have first thing in the morning, unless it has already been made a day before and has had some time to mellow.

With father and daughter out swimming, I had all the time to ponder such earth shattering issues on a Saturday morning. I switched on my laptop and started looking at some of my favourite blogs for inspiration. And I found it on Sailu's Kitchen - a recipe for the accompaniment to biryani which is served in restaurants. Its amazing that she has gone to the trouble to recreate this dish which is served in small portions (but one can ask for refills) in biryani joints and even more amazing that she has got it spot on!

I didn't add the thick coconut milk in the original recipe because I didn't want it too creamy (and well I didn't think the joints I had eaten at, had bothered to splurge on coconut milk!). It was still a very beautiful, slightly creamy gravy with just the right amount of spice and the tangy flavour of tomatoes finishing it. Once I made it I realised that this was also the dish which is served in small quantities with "NV meals" in small Chettinad style joints in Chennai - and which we end up asking for refills. We recently had lunch for two consecutive Sundays at Gunpowder - that amazing restaurant in Delhi which serves authentic Kerala cuisine at reasonable prices, such a rarity!-and the accompaniment served with the kotthu paratha was something we ate with our appams and rice as well! I think it something about the combination of whole spices, coconut, poppy seeds and tomatoes that does the trick.

This dish is a keeper - as my husband said appreciatively - write this one down!! We couldn't get enough of it and kept slurping it up long after the idlis were done with.

Recipe for Restaurant Style Biryani/Thali "Sideish" - from Sailu's Blog. This dish goes to the latest edition of Nupur's Blog Bites event - BB6 Potluck

P.S - I have received quite a few emails asking me to post the recipe I used (without coconut milk) so I am posting this here. Also, some people were not able to check the link included above.


2 onions, sliced
3 medium tomatoes, in 4 pieces
Publish Post

Dry roast and grind:
poppy seeds (khus khus) - 1 tsp
2-3 cashewnuts
1/4 cup grated coconut

Grind to a paste: (or crush in mortar)
1 " ginger piece
3 green chillies
4 garlic cloves

1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder (dhania)
1/4 tsp turmerice powder (haldi)
1/4 tsp cumin powder (jeera)
pinch of garam masala powder

1tbsp oil
curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
2 cardamom pods (elaichi)

1 Heat oil in a pan and add cloves, cinnamon,curry leaves and cardamom. When they change colour (about 2 minutes) add onions and fry till transparent.
2.Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste, fry for 2-3 minutes. Add red chilli powder, turmeric,coriander and cumin powders and mix well.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 3 minutes.
4. Put in the coconut-cashew paste and fry for 5 minutes on a low flame, stirring from time to time.
5. Add salt, 2 cups of water and bring to boil; lower flame and simmer for 10-15 minutes and turns creamy. Remove from flame and serve warm.