Condiment Series | Capsicum-n- Celery Dip | Dip


I recently did a series of 30 days 30 dips and it was a huge success. I loved it and people, my readers loved it too. This is a dip which was supposed to be a part of that series but it left me in two minds so I skipped it at that time, however after all these dips, this particular dips still remains close to my heart.


Capsicum-n-Celery Dip, this is where it all started. After this there was no stopping me. When I started making my own dips at home for parties a few years back, this was one of the first dips I made. To my surprise then, it was an absolute winner. 
Capsicum in my mind is the only vegetable equivalent to a herb…. as fresh and as fragrant !! It has the ability to add that extra zing to a dish.


This is a simple dip where, I not just use the celery stem, but also the leaves. The celery leaves have a much stronger spicy fragrance. You would need to chop the leaves really fine though. 

Serve this with whatever. It’s a crowd pleaser, the bowls are wiped clean 🙂

Capsicum-n-Celery Dip




Ingredients

1/2 cup Quark or Hung Curd

1/4 cup cold milk

1 small Capsicum, finely chopped

1 clove of Garlic, minced

1 stem and leaves of Celery finely chopped

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Salt to taste

Direction

1. Whisk the quark till absolutely smooth and creamy. Add the milk and whisk some more.

2. Now add the capsicum, garlic and celery. Mix well. Add the salt and pepper. Give it another stir till everything is well blended. If you find the dip a little thick, add a little more cold milk.

3. Transfer in a serving dish and serve with your choice of appetizer.

Happy Dipping !!




Multigrain Bread | Baking


After all the fun I had, doing the 30days30dips Series, I’m back with baking bread.
This bread has been on my to do list for a while. I love making breads and especially the whole wheat and multigrain varieties. I must confess it took me 2-3 times before getting the mix right. Yes. If I make it pure pure multigrain then the bread becomes too heavy and hard and if I add too much flour I was changing the character of the bread.


When I started doing breads I took it up as a challenge on myself to be able to make the real multigrain or the real whole wheat, because I used to see my mother promptly opt for the branded multigrains or whole wheats thinking she was buying better healthier options. However the truth is that store bought commercial bread (i’m not talking about bakery breads here) only contain 10% multigrains or whole wheat flours. The rest is white all purpose flour. While white breads have the best textures and are really really yummy, they may not always be the healthiest. 
Here I’m not trying to preach anyone the benefits of multigrain or whole wheat over white breads, nor am I saying that homemade multigrain is only multigrains and no flour, but if and when you want to eat a multigrain eat the real thing.


For my multigrain recipe, I use a homemade multigrain flour mix. The details of the multigrain flour will be listed out after the bread recipe.

Multigrain Bread


Ingredients

4 cups or 400 gm Multigrain Flour

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

1 cup All Purpose Flour

2 tsp Dry Active Yeast

2 tbsp Honey

3 tbsp Milk Powder

4 tbsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Salt

Directions

1. Sieve together the multigrain flour, wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt and the milk powder.

2. Activate the yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water.

3. Once activated, add to the flour mix and rub it through the flour with your fingers. Keep mixing till you get a bread crumbly texture.

4. Now add a little water and start kneading the dough. Add the olive oil and fo on kneading. This dough requires a little more water compared to other doughs.

5. Once kneaded well, this should take about 10 minutes, keep in a dry clean bowl and cover with cling wrap and keep in a warm place for an hour or till the dough doubles in size.

6. Once the dough doubles in size, punch it down lightly with your fingers and give it a light knead.

7. Shape it into a desired shape, place it on a baking tray and let it rest for another 30 minutes. You can sprinkle either poppy seeds or nigella seeds.

8. In the mean time preheat the oven to 200 C degrees for 10 minutes. Now place a shallow tray with hot water at the bottom of the oven, place the grill in the middle rack over the waterbath and place the trays with the loaves. Bake for 20 minutes till the crust browns golden in colour.

9. Remove from the oven and place on cooling rack.

This bread is best served toasted.

Multigrain Flour

2 cup Wholewheat Flour
1 cup Ragi
1 cup Soya Flour
1 cup Kala Chana Flour
1 cup Pearl Millet (Bajra)
1 cup Sorghum (Jowar)
1 cup Oat Flour

Sieve all these flours together and store and use as required.

Happy Baking !!

Condiment Series | Egyptian Beetroot Dip | Dip

Day 14


Egyptian Beetroot Dip  – why is this called so, even I don’t know !! 

The recipe shows influences from the middle east and we know for a fact, that the flavours in the cuisines from Egypt and the Middle East are overlapping. This is probably egyptian and not lebanese, because of the use of spices. Egyptians are known to use spices heavily in their food. Usually one finds variants of the similar lebanese dishes in Egypt but with additions of more fragrances and aromas in the form of spices.



This dip is my ‘show-off’ dip’ :D. It is a perfect party enhancer. Make this, serve with crackers or soup -sticks along with the drinks and your party begins….What I like about such dips is that they are delicious, light, guilt free and look absolutely exotic !! Look at that colour…. 



Egyptian Beetroot Dip

Ingredients

2 large Beetroots
4 cloves of Garlic
1/3 cup of plain yoghurt
1 heaped tsp of Cumin seeds
1 tsp of Coriander seeds
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Toasted Pistachios, roughly chopped for garnish



Direction

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree C. Wrap the beetroots in foil and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes.
2. When the last 10 minutes are left throw in the garlic and let it roast as well. Let the beetroot cool down, then peel the skin off.

3. While the beetroot is roasting, take a small frying pan and dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds, till aroma rises. Remove from the flame and grind to a fine powder.

4. Roughly chop the beetroots, put in the food processor and add all the other ingredients besides the olive oil and pistachios. 

5. Blitz in the processor till well blended and a smooth paste is formed. Transfer in the serving dish, dribble some olive oil and pistachios for garnish.

6. Serve with crackers or any other finger food of your choice.



Condiment Series | Moong Hummus with Burnt Chillies | Dip

Day 10



While I love my daals (lentils), Green Gram was never a favourite. Rather I always seem to shy away from it and my mother would always be after my case for running away from the green moong, listing down all its health benefits in one breath…every single time !!




So finally here I am, with a win win situation…. she can’t complaint, and now neither can I. Green Gram Hummus doesn’t taste anything like the way green gram daal does. It is creamy and full of flavour and super healthy !!



Now that I’ve been making various types of hummus, I realise that a hummus-n-pita with some relish type of breakfast is one of the most satiating breakfasts and I seem to be gorging on these atleast 3 times a week. I love it !!

Oh by the way May 13 was International Hummus Day !! 🙂
Though for my most days can be hummus days.



Moong Hummus with Burnt Chillies



Ingredients


2 cups cooked Green Gram

1 tsp Tahini

3 Cloves Garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste 

2 tbsp Olive Oil


For Tempering

1 Tsp Chilli flakes

1 tbsp Olive Oil

1/2 tsp Oregano



Directions

1. Blitz in a food processor, all the ingredients besides the ones for tempering.

2. Once a smooth creamy texture is achieved, transfer in a serving dish.

3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add chilli flakes and just when they are about to burn, add the oregano and remove from flame. Pour over the hummus. 

4. Give it a light stir and serve.


Happy Hummus Days !!

Condiment Series | Baba Ghanoush | Dip

Day 8

From the chimichurri of South America I’m back to the middle east. Today it is Baba Ghanoush made from the humble eggplant.



This smoky dip is a favourite of the Arabs and is often eaten with khubz or pita bread. Traditionally baba ghanoush would have other added vegetables like onions and tomatoes, though over a period of time and influences from other regions, it has come to be known in the avatar as we know it today – A smooth silky creamy dip full of flavour.

The Arabs called the today’s version of Baba Ghanoush as Mutabbal. Though in regions like Egypt and Turkey it is known as Baba Ghanoush only.


Traditionally, the eggplant is roasted on open fire, though you can roast it in your oven as well.
In the recipe that I’m sharing here, the eggplant is roasted on open fire on the stove top. Make it a day or two in advance and you’ll see that it tastes better. The flavours need to mature, hence some resting time is a good idea.


Baba Ghanoush – The peculiar smoky tangy dip !!

Ingredients

2 medium sized eggplants
1 tbsp of Tahini
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 cloves Garlic minced.
1 tsp Chilli flakes
Salt to taste
4-5 tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

1. Fire roast the eggplants. I like the smoky flavour so let it roast a tad bit longer. (each should take about 15 minutes). Let it cool to room temperature and peel of the skin.

2. Mash the roasted eggplant with the spoon and transfer into the blender. Add the tahini, minced garlic, lemon juice, chilli flakes, olive oil and salt. Blitz.

3. Once well blended, transfer to the serving dish. Garnish with your choice of fresh herb like cilantro or parsley or mint . Pour a spoon or two of olive oil.

4. Serve with bread.

Condiment Series | Parsley-n-Garlic Dip | Dip

With hung curd in my hand, I feel like a magician !! Really you can turn it around in so many different ways. Over time it has become my favourite ingredient. I use it for dips, for desserts, for kebabs, for marination and many more…
Hung curd makes the most amazing dips. 





The Parsley-Garlic Dip is a delicately flavoured one. Parsley like the way it looks also has a bright sharp flavour and works as an enhancer to any dish. 
The best way to use parsley is to dip it in warm water for just 10 seconds, rid the leaves of excess moisture and chop. The flavours of Parsley are enhanced once dipped in warm water. However never cut and dip in warm water. It should always be dipped in warm water and then chopped finely.



Parsley Garlic Dip

Ingredients

1 cup Hung Curd
2 cloves of Garlic
a small bunch of Parsley ( when chopped 2-3 tbsp)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper

Directions

1. Whisk the hung curd.

2. Finely chop parsley.

3. Mince the garlic.

4. Add parsley, minced garlic salt and pepper to the hung curd. Mix well to blend all ingredients.

5. Transfer in the serving dish, garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve.



Condiment Series | Piri Piri Hummus | Dip

It almost sounds strange to call Hummus a dip, though technically speaking it is one.
I’ve earlier done a post on hummus which was a basic recipe. Here I’m writing about another variant of the basic, The Piri Piri Hummus. You can let your imagination run wild and experiment with various ingredients and flavours that can be added to hummus.




Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip, now with more and enough added flavours. The perfect accompaniment to Pita. The mild flavour of rosemary and the punch of piri piri is a treat to your taste buds.
This too makes an excellent base for a sandwich or a crostini. It is my favourite dressing for a wrap or an open sandwich. It’s guilt free and superbly delicious ! I have actually completely done away with using butter or mayonnaise in my wraps and sandwiches. Though I will share my home made mayonnaise recipe for those occasional indulgences in my coming posts. 🙂


Piri Piri Hummus

Ingredients

2 cups Boiled Chickpeas
1 tbsp Tahini
Juice of 1 Lemon
3-4 cloves Garlic
6-7 Peri-Peri Red Chillies
1 tsp Dried Rosemary
1/2 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to Taste

For Tempering
Olive Oil
Chilli Flakes


Directions

1. In a food processor, add the boiled channas or chickpeas, tahini paste, garlic cloves, lemon juice, piri-piri chillies, rosemary and salt. Blitz.

2. While the processor is running add the olive oil in a thin stream. Blitz till all ingredients are well blended. 

3. Remove from the processor, transfer in a serving bowl.

4. Prepare the tempering by heating the olive oil in a pan. Add the chilli flakes and let then just burn. As soon as they become dark and the aroma rises, temper the hummus. 

5. Garnish with parsley leaves and serve.

Ridiculously Simple but Awesomely Delicious Pasta


So I came across this ridiculously simple pasta recipe on the Donna Hay show the other day, and because of its simplicity I had to try it… and for the same reason share it with you all.
It’s so simple that it doesn’t even have a name 🙂 Though the recipe ROCKS !!

Its perfect for those days when your fridge is empty of all veggies (which happens to me more often than not) or one of those nights when you are back from work and just don’t wanna make an elaborate dinner cutting chopping vegetables, nor order out (that too happens with me very often :P)
While it’s fun to painstakingly cook from scratch but I think we all need such quick-cheat’s- go-to recipes in our repertoire. 
KJ liked it so much, he was willing I cooked it for some of our guests. 
A delicious recipe surely doesn’t have to be complicated. Routine cupboard ingredients beautifully fix a meal.

The perfect accompaniment: A glass of white wine.   


Ingredients:

Penne Pasta 250g (or any other pasta of your choice)

Brown Bread Slices 4

Sun Dried Tomatos 5-6 pieces

Olive Oil

Parsley  or any other fresh herb

Directions:

1. Boil Pasta.

2. While the pasta is boiling put the bread slices in the food processor and pulse coarsely.

3. Cut the sun dried tomato into small pieces.

4. Take a pan, add 2 tsps of olive oil ( here I used the olive oil in which the sun dried tomatoes are soaked) saute` and toast the crumbled bread and sun dried tomatoes, till the crumbs become a little crisp. 

5. The pasta should’ve boiled in the mean time. Drain in a colander.

6.Once drained properly, transfer in a bowl, add a little extra virgin olive oil, now add the bread crumb- sun dried tomato mixture. Season with black pepper. Give it a toss. 

7. Finish with a few sprigs of parsley. Serve.


Note:- There is a lot more that you can do or add to this. You could add bacon, ham, olives, parmesan cheese etc.


Happy Cooking !!

I’m back…and how !!

I’ve missed you guys and this space a lot more than you would have. Blogging and my readers give me the kinda high nothing does, but life has been one roller coaster for the last 4 months. A lot happened. 

We moved to our new house and in the midst of all of that, some health issues came up in the family. 
Well all’s well now. I’m warming up to the new place and getting used to my new kitchen.
The mood is now being set and my comfort zones created.
Last night’s dinner was out of the ordinary for me…. Hummus and Chicken Wraps with Tzatziki. Though this post is not about any of that. the recipes for the same would follow shortly.

My cooking and baking had slowed down in the last 4 months ….also because I was staying with my parents for bit and how my mother pampers me rotten with all her cooking (so why will I cook).
These were some of the things that happened in my kitchen in the last 4 months, though I couldn’t shoot them as well as I wanted and couldn’t write about them as well:



Just when we were packing for moving to our new house, a Daring Baker’s Challenge came up where we were supposed to bake a dessert / cake with vegetables hidden in them. Inspite of all the chaos in my life I couldn’t resist it and attempted two different recipes.
While I missed the challenge date I enjoyed it all the same and so here is what I did:

I made 2 different types of vegetable cakes:

 Beet Cake – 
Looks like a regular chocolate cake but is enriched with beetroots.

Adapted from Bakerycakery.com


(yields one 9” round layer)

Ingredients
¾ cup Pureed beets (Boil 2 medium sized beetroots till tender) 
½ cup Oil
¼ cup Milk
1 tbsp Plain yogurt (this is a strangely small amount to me)
½ tsp Balsamic vinegar
2 Eggs
¾ cup Flour
⅔ cup Sugar
½ cup Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking powder
½ tsp. Baking soda
¼ tsp. Salt
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. 

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients and set aside.

Blend the wet ingredients until uniform.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until combined.


Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the center comes out clean.


Dust with powdered sugar.

Serve warm or at room temperature.





Zucchini and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake




Ingredients
1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons All-purpose Flour

½ teaspoon Baking Soda

½ teaspoon Baking Powder

1-teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

½ teaspoon Salt

2 cups Grated Zucchini (about 2 small ones)

½ cup Orange Marmalade

¾ cup Vanilla Sugar

½ cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large Eggs

½ cup Walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

½ cup Chocolate Chips

2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
Directions:
Spray, line, and spray again a 23cm x 12.5cm (9×5 inch) loaf pan and set aside
Preheat the oven to 175°C.
Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Mix all the remaining ingredients (except the walnuts, if using) in a large bowl until combined (no giant lumps of marmalade at least).
Sift the dry ingredients into it and stir until just combined (don’t worry about it being smooth, just be gentle).
Stir in the walnuts if using. Pour into the prepared loaf pan.
Sprinkle the top with the about 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar.

Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
I served this with a a dollop of mascarpone cheese.



Happy Baking !!

Revisiting Nutrition – WholeWheat Oat Bran Bread



Many nutritionists now believe that a whole wheat parantha (layered flat bread, plain or stuffed and not baked in an oven but fried on a griddle) is packed with more health than bread….white bread. For many years now, as a rule, we do not buy ‘White Bread’. Yes the good old no fuss no frills basic sandwich bread is a virtual persona non grata……even though nothing beats a white bread sandwich when the bread is absolutely fresh !!
Ever since the so called superior whole wheat and multi grain breads swamped the market, their not-so-healthy cousin is used only for bread crumbs or some very specific dishes (which require white bread only)


While I’ve baked whole wheat bread wherein the whole wheat is only added in a certain proportion to the regular all purpose flour, over the weekend I was in one of those ‘oh I must only cook healthy food for my family’ moods and experimented with whole, whole-wheat flour and the added goodness of Oat Bran. I discovered bran about a year back and use it very frequently to make flat breads called Chapatis. Bran is a wonder ingredient, it boosts the body’s metabolism, gives a twist to the good ol’ chapati, is very helpful if you are trying to lose weight (I’m always trying….I always need to. Succeeding is another story though !!) and Oat bran especially is very helpful in reducing cholesterol.




This bread is a lot heavier than than other breads but that is what is intended, so don’t worry. The heavier the bread the the faster it fills you and is more satiating. However if it gets a little too heavy for your liking, you could always reduce the whole wheat flour by 3/4 cup and instead add all purpose flour.
While I was baking this bread, I also went through the ingredient composition of the leading bread brands available, and to my surprise, the multi grains, whole wheat flour, bran etc (all together) is only 5% of the total weight of the flour so obviously the ‘wholesome’ breads that we buy from the market are so soft and so porous. Though I wonder how healthy they are? 

This bread works brilliantly when toasted and is perfect for a wholesome sandwich.



Whole Wheat Oat Bran Bread – Recipe





Ingredients
3 cups Whole Wheat Flour (atta)

3/4 cup Oat Bran

2 tbsp Honey

2 tbsp Olive Oil

2 tsp Dry Active Yeast

1 tbsp Vital Gluten

1 cup warm water

2 tsp Salt


Directions

1. Proof the yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and  1 tsp of sugar.

2. Mix the whole wheat flour, oat bran, gluten and salt. 

3. Add olive oil and honey and rub it well into the flour with your finger tips.

4. Add the yeast and start kneading the dough. (I always knead my bread dough with hands), however if you are using the stand mixer, use the paddle hook.

5. Continue kneading the dough till you finish the entire cup of warm water.  This could take upto 10-12 minutes. Slam the dough on the counter top a couple of times to make it soft. It is very important to keep kneading this dough till it starts becoming stretchy. Whole wheat flour dough always take much longer to become stretchy since it has lower levels of gluten.

6. Place the dough in a well greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and let it rest for 2 hours.

7. After 2 hours, when it has doubled in volume, knock back the dough lightly, knead again and place it in the loaf tin and give it an egg / milk-n-sugar wash.

8.Bake for 30-35 minutes at 180 C.

Best served toasted or like a grilled sandwich. 



Happy Baking