A slice of pizza for everyone!

IMG_5494-02Well, I’ve been baking pizza since quite a long time. But, recently I noticed that even though I click pictures of almost everything I cook and bake, I haven’t had clicked the most recurring item and one of the all time favorites of my kids yet. Each time I wish I had the margin to grab my camera and click few images of pizza I fresh baked at home. But it never happened until now…As it comes out of the oven, the delicious aroma seeping through attracts everyone to create some sort of cute chaos in the kitchen! It’s rather flattering to see their excitement, of course!

I had my share of failures as well. It wasn’t any easy to get a good grip on the intricacies of preparing pizza dough. Progression from hard dough to smooth to touch airy and well textured dough was rather rewarding.

Well, that doesn’t mean I’m a pro or even act like one….am still a curious child. I still peak through the rising dough every now and then. The puffy edges, the bubbling and the crispy random cheese at the sides and the finished look as they appear sort of burnt all over still amazes me…IMG_5494-02Anyways, this time though, folks were pre-occupied and were indulged in their respective activities, and that gave me enough time to do my job! They got the pizza, I got the photos, and my blog got the fodder!IMG_5486-05Well, to begin with, I decided to bake my household favorite – meat lovers pizza. Don’t sweat yet, there aren’t many meats in my pizza. I just wrote the way I say it to my boys. I’ve used only bacon and combination of cheese such as; Mozzarella, Cheddar and Monterey Jack. I’m glad that I can at least skip few of those expensive trips to the pizzerias and mimic the same at my home 🙂

2 cups of all purpose flour

1 tsp dried yeast

1 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsp semolina

Salt to taste

Mix the yeast and sugar in a cup of warm water. The temperature of the water should be neither lukewarm nor very warm. Rather it should stay in between. Leave the mixture aside until it’s frothy and increases the volume. If in case, the rising doesn’t happen, start over the process again using good active yeast.

In a large bowl, combine together the flour and salt. Sprinkle oil over. Add the yeast mixture and start the action. Knead well – extremely well till you get a smooth and nice stretchy dough. Transfer the dough to a large and lightly oiled bowl. Cover it. Allow the dough to rest in a warm place for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The idea is to allow the dough rise and double the size. Once it’s doubled, punch the air out and from this point on, the dough is ready and it’s all yours to roll and rock!

Deep fried rice balls – Kerala’s own unniyappam

2IMG_4910-Unniyappam

Dark golden brown cute fried cakes are Kerala’s own ubiquitous snacks since ages – sort of a specialty of God’s own land. It’s musical to the ear when you hear Keralites ask for unniyappam and chaaya, a combination every Keralite adores to indulge.

Interestingly these appams are considered to be the favorite of Lord Ganesha, one of the deities of Hindus. Devotees adore Him and worship Him wholeheartedly.

In Hindu religion Lord Ganesha is the Lord of all circumstances and the provider of proper guidance and wisdom that leads to success, joy and good fortune in life. There are many temples in India where Lord Ganesha is the prime deity  where the offerings are laddus and modak. But in Kerala, unniyappams are offered to Him as an act of piety.

IMG_4896-UnniyappamIMG_4901-unniyappam

However, given such ubiquity, in Kerala, the shape of ping pong ball shaped appams or unniyappams are still in the main stream. The size and the texture of it are darn appealing to anyone. The whiff of delicious fragrance is not something you forget that easily. And makes it nostalgic to folks like me who spent a copious amount of their childhood in Kerala.

Legend says that the original recipe of unniyappam is still a secret. Although, with the help of just few hints of ingredients – like rice flour, jaggery, coconut, etc.- folks delightfully delivered a close  fit replica of it.

So far I’ve eaten quite a few variation from hard to soft unniyappams. Sometimes the hardness and the rubbery texture feel darn annoying. And the soft versions are irresistible. The alluring texture with caramelized crispy edges on the outside and gently yet evenly risen well cooked unniyappams are such a great treat.

To simplify the hardness of the whole unniyappam saga, adding a hint of wheat flour and adding fresh and mashed banana just before frying would do the ruse. It enhances the texture and the flavor splendidly. Since I didn’t have jaggery with me, I generously used thick molasses. I didn’t see much difference. Rather it tasted better 🙂

IMG_4906-unniyappam

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of rice
¾ cup of wheat flour
1 ½ cups of molasses (or more according to the taste)
1 + 1 banana
¼ cup of grated coconut, gently toasted
½ tsp salt (adjust to taste)
½ tsp baking soda

Rinse and soak rice for about three hours.

In a mixer, grind the rice first. Once the rice is sort of smooth as paste, add the rest of the ingredients – wheat flour, molasses and one banana. Grind everything well with very less water. Consistency of the batter should be sort of thicker – yet not very thick. Transfer it in another wide open mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients except the banana – toasted coconut, salt and baking soda.

Allow the mixture to rest nicely. It needs time to bring out the real texture and flavor 🙂 That’s around 4-5 hours! The batter would be safe in the refrigerator for about a day.

Well, just before the frying process, mash the banana – the banana which we kept to be used in the end- and mix it in the batter. Mix everything nice and well one more time. Fry it in a pan specially made for unniyappams and enjoy.

Caramel bread pudding with blueberries and raisins

Seemingly elegant and humble things are always appealing to my eyes. It soothes my soul, even nudges me to get closer to it. I would say it’s simply a Capricorn trait. They do not go for anything trendy unless it has some element of elegancy or quality. Those things attract them naturally, is the fact.IMG_38638IMG_38768
That’s same when it comes to the food we eat as well. Mix and match, show the elegancy through the food we eat. Let the delicious aroma spread in the kitchen and the corridor… Otherwise the house doesn’t seem vibrant and lively. Fairly reasonable ingredients and moderation is the thumb rule. Our innate tendency to indulge in junks that are delectable to the palate seems inevitable, and we’re no stranger to such vices. But, that’s okay if we set the rule and play the rebel.
Caramel Bread PuddingJust keep our unhealthy approach at bay, develop a habit of balanced eating and moderation is what it requires to stay positively healthy! The result would be a happy soul, seriously! So here you go…I wanted to prepare something simple yet vibrant…

So this time, though, I was ready to hit the kitchen if someone says pudding since I have been thinking of it ever since I came across a different recipe than our traditional one. Our traditional bread pudding is very simple normally to save stale bread. The recipe I have been thinking of it requires extra ingredients like condensed milk and evaporated milk together. I was kind of skeptical at first, but decided to go ahead and try it any way with the guidance of my instincts, of course. The consistency looked perfect yet I was not very sure about the outcome. It spent around one hour in the steam and I was so happy to see the wooden stick easily comes out clean. Still I was darn impatient, a slight slice at the edge to see its texture and taste. Voila! It was a proud moment. What do you think?!

Ingredients
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
12 slices of bread
1 cup dried fruits (I used a mixture of blueberries and raisins)
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp corn flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp Salt

First step would be caramel preparation. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat sugar over medium to low heat, stirring frequently to avoid scorching and blending the mixture equally. When the mixture turns light brown color and dissolves well, instantly pour onto a medium cake pan and swirl to coat the pan and set it aside.

Cut bread into small cubes or crumble it. In a large bowl, add the evaporated milk and condensed milk, mix thoroughly. Add the beaten eggs, vanilla and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Add the bread cubes and combine everything well. Pour the mixture into prepared caramel pan. Steam it for one hour or when the wooden stick inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean. Enjoy!

Steamed wheat-rice cake – Wheat puttu

Quite interesting name! For us it’s simply puttu made with roasted wheat or rice flour. But what I have for this post is about puttu made with wheat flour.

When roasted wheat flour blends with fresh grated coconut it only enhances the flavor and takes it to the next level. That makes wheat puttu ridiculously rich and deliciously aromatic breakfast item. In Kerala and some other parts of southern India, wheat puttu is very popular even if it doesn’t have any fancy tags on it.

IMG_7661-1

It has many variations based on the creativity, either you can opt for the sweet version or the non-sweet version of it. No matter what version you like, puttu is generously filling and gives a sense of satisfaction. The best combination for puttu I enjoy is with butter, hint of sugar and sliced banana which is appealing and elegant to entice anyone.

That being said, the taste purely depends on the texture and the consistency of the flour. Flour must be roasted without burning. Any hint of burned smell would spoil the entire deal. You can say the flour is at its right stage when it slides like dry sand. Feel free to also follow your instincts. Remember to lower the heat when the pan is really hot to the touch. And consistently stir and often check the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to make sure the flour is not browning. If you’re able to take care of these critical stages, you’re good to go!

IMG_7618-8IMG_7612-2

As you prepare the flour for the puttu, adding water cannot be so generous. Add little water at a time as you would do for the pie dough – sort of like coarse yet moist texture – more like bread crumbs. Too much water will make it soggy and too little water make it dry. You will find it really hard to steam it. In fact it stays the same and doesn’t hold up the shape in the puttu candle. So the ruse is when you’re done mixing the mixture , take a pinch of the mixture and press it between the thumb and the point finger. If it holds up the shape and stays the same and at the same time as you drop if it slide back into coarse texture the consistency is right.

I often opt for 3:1 ratio for the flour – 3 cups of wheat flour and 1 cup of rice flour. ¾ cup of grated coconut. Even frozen coconut works great!

Steamed wheat-rice cake - Wheat puttu

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

When roasted wheat flour blends with fresh grated coconut it only enhances the flavor and take it to the next level.That makes wheat puttu ridiculously rich and deliciously aromatic breakfast item. In Kerala and some other parts of southern India, wheat puttu is very popular even if it doesn't have any fancy tags on it.

Ingredients

wheat flour – 3 cups

rice flour – 1 cup

salt to taste – ¾ tsp

sugar – 1 tbsp or more if you prefer more sweet

Water 1 – 1 ¾ cup of grated coconut

Puttu candle

Directions

Combine the flours and roast well.

When it cools down, add salt and sugar.

Sprinkle half cup of water over the flour and blend well.

At first you’ll find it hard to incorporate the mixture. But don’t worry. Keep adding water – but, only little at a time and keep mixing with a fork and a butter knife. It does a fantastic job. Or you could pulverize in a food processor. And when it reaches the consistency, make sure by taking a pinch of the mixture and press it between the thumb and the point finger. If it holds up the shape and stays the same and at the same time as you drop if it slide back into coarse texture the consistency is right – sort of like coarse yet moist texture – more like bread crumbs. Keep it aside.

Boil water in the pot that comes with the puttu candle or if you have the pressure cooker version boil water in the pressure cooker. When the water reaches the 100֯c point fill the puttu candle with the mixture by adding grated coconut at the base then the mixture, adding coconut again between the mixture would enhance the taste and the aroma is amazing. Once done with filling place it on the pot or the cooker until you see the steam coming through. When the steam flows smoothly yet rigorously is the signal that the puttu is ready. Gently remove the candle and push it through with a skewer or any kind of thin clean long stem.

Oven baked salmon patties

When it comes to the preparation of this dish, it’s easy to incorporate everything and is uncomplicated as well. Not a strenuous task at all! So the idea of oven baked patties with few simple ingredients took the toll, lavishly complimented with elegant looking yet healthy vegetables and a bed of thinly shredded cabbage was a perfect fit; non-greasy and divinely filling patty with an array of vegetables. Here’s my version of a quick treat for you to enjoy!

IMG_18780

Sometimes a dish works well without any particular recipe. In my case, most of the times just like my mom, dishes without names and recipes are plenty.  Often the key factor behind each interesting item is the desire to eat something delicious and unique to the palate, not an everyday item. So I decided to go with my glimpse of memory, my mom’s effervescent energy as well as since I achieved the major hurdles in bringing the colorful vegetables way more closer to the rest of the gang made things easier to prepare a protein portion with an interesting presentation.

IMG_18928

2 cups precooked salmon flesh (without any water content in it)
1 cup cooked and mashed potato
½ cup minced & fried onions
¾ tsp ground pepper
¾ tsp dry red chili flakes
Salt to taste

IMG_1880

In a medium bowl, mix everything well. Roll a small amount of the mixture and flatten them. I would simply coat in bread crumbs to achieve the flaky and crispier texture. And bake at 350 oven for about 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Whole grain breakfast muffin

Who doesn’t like a healthy touch – a fiber rich breakfast – in the morning? A rich breakfast to keep you strong and healthy, keeping fatigue at bay..

Instead of filling the tummy with so much grease and calories as soon as you wake up, start with something light and healthy to break the fast, for a fresh and active morning.

IMG_7684-4

The idea of whole grain breakfast perfectly fits the bill. In every manner it’s a go to snack as well if you prefer snacking in between.

The concept of adding little bit of everything, mainly oat flour, wheat flour, hint of few types of seeds and honey for sweetness did work fantastic without any hint of stickiness or dryness.  

Just rearrange the recipe and follow the instincts 🙂 Little adjustment with the flours based on the volume and density would work. And there lies the secret of having a moist breakfast muffin. This muffin has everything in it, well balanced amount of grains and ingredients to satisfy the palate. More than that since I replaced sugar with honey this is absolutely a perfect deal.  Enjoy the sweet aroma and then eat! Make everyday a better day!

IMG_7680-0

You don’t have to exactly follow the crowd since the crowd often follow things with their eyes closed, eventually ends up in the ditch. Instead consider your body and health, the easiest yet wisest approach to stay healthy

Pizza with spinach and red bell pepper

This is not any tough task, pizza is often an easy option no matter what. Among the plethora of flavors, spinach outshines everything. The delicious contrast offers a rather quality touch. So, for a change I decided to add only vegetables and cheese. My ruse to maintain the balance without hindering the taste or the texture.

IMG_7720-0

The picture I had in mind till date is the one that I happened to watch on Food Network a few years ago. But, to be honest it wasn’t that appealing at all to the eyes except the celebrity aha moment 🙂 Something then clicked though. I don’t know what. It’s the idea of adding loads of greens, may be.

Anyways, the colors and the charm, ‘two birds in one shot’  allows you to have a carefree and relaxed time! Recipe here.

Chicken stir-fry with rice noodles

IMG_7347-7

Our family favorite – this particular dish doesn’t need any recipes.  Ignore the basic rules and follow the instincts till you get the final picture. And you get your all you need servings in just one dish. Most of the ingredients are visible except the core ingredient, the sauce. Everything lies in the consistency of the sauce. It’s not any difficult at all. When you prepare the sauce try to balance the taste is the key. Happy cooking 🙂

IMG_7362-2

This is my version of the Chinese rice noodles, easy to prepare no mess method. I usually get bored when I see pans and bowls piling up around whenever I bring Chinese menu on the table 🙂 So I tweaked a bit, bend some rules and decided to find a no mess method. It clicked well, a big hit indeed!

Chicken
2 cups thinly sliced boneless skinless chicken
2 tbsp all purpose flour
Hint of ground pepper
Salt to taste
Combine everything well. Keep it aside

Vegetables
¼ cup baby bokchoy, thinly sliced [save the leaves for soups]
¾ cup broccoli
½ cup mushroom
½ cup red bell pepper

For the sauce
¼ cup dark soy sauce
1 tsp corn flour
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp dark molasses
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced green onion
¼ cup water or chicken stock
Mix everything well. Adjust the taste based on your likes. Keep it aside

Here’s the preparation goes;

  1. Heat oil in a pan, shallow fry the chicken small batches at a time. Transfer it to another bowl.
  2. In the same pan, add the sauce mixture. Heat it to a point where it starts boiling. Add the cooked chicken and combine everything. Add the vegetables. Cover the pan and allow the vegetables to cook roughly. Add green onions in the end. Add more sauce if you would like. Enjoy!

Sweetened coconut stuffed rolls

Happy Mother's Day!

These rolls are a great deal when you’re tight for time! The subtle sweetness from the coconut and the buttery flavor from the bread makes it quite a treat.  Even though it’s sweet just like any other sandwiches it fills the tummy and makes you feel happy and satisfied. It was one of my favorites and had eaten these rolls quite often during my stay in Bangalore, a lot of ‘it.

IMG_7433-3

Although it has been ages since I left that part of the world, the taste and the memory still stays afresh!  The simple coconut mixture gives you various other ideas with it. Inspired by the sandwich, my version has dry fruits and preserved cherries to enhance the texture and taste alike. It puffs up neatly leaving the mixture inside intact yet well blended.

IMG_7434-4

Sweetened coconut stuffed rolls

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

These rolls are a great deal when you’re tight for time! The subtle sweetness from the coconut and the buttery flavor from the bread makes it quite a treat!



Ingredients


For the filling
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
½ cup dry fruits of your choice
¼ cup raisins
Pinch of salt and cardamom
Blend everything well.

For the rolls
2 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp honey
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup milk
¼ cup warm water
1 ½ tsp yeast

Directions

Dissolve the yeast in warm water. Mix together egg with milk. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and the egg mixture to the flour. Knead well – really well for few minutes. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place. After 1 hour or so, punch down the dough and knead again. Divide the dough into small equal portions. Roll out the portions lengthwise. Spread the filling and close all the ends while maintaining the log shape roughly as of a hot dog bun size. Leave the filled rolls in a warm place for another 30 minutes. Bake at 350 oven for 20-25 minutes,


Sweet plantain fritters

First and foremost, pazhampori or ethakkappam is a quintessential snack from India, mainly southern part. The name, the aroma, the picture – everything about this is delicious!  Sweet plantain is the star ingredient for this particular snack. Plantain itself is a healthy hint. With less sugar and sodium and rich in vitamin A, potassium and fiber, plantains are incredibly rich food for everyone. Ripe plantains can be eaten raw or sometimes folks would steam cook it, especially for young children.

IMG_7332.2

It is one of my staple foods since childhood. Still I drool over the sight of these bananas. The sweet aroma – as it blackens – when ripe is irresistible. When you pair it with one hard-boiled egg and a glass of milk makes it a rich and healthy breakfast.

Banana fritters

During my childhood, I used to go to my dad’s work place to eat this delicious snack at a nearby restaurant. Their version of banana fritters were different in taste and size alike. It was so delicious and worth the journey! 

Sweet plantain fritters

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Pazhampori or ethakkappam is a quintessential snack from India.

Ingredients

Ingredients

-Ripe plantains – 2, sliced vertically

-Oil for deep frying

For the batter

-All purpose flour – 1 cup

-Sugar – 3tbsp

-Salt to taste

-Cardamom powder – ¼ tsp [optional]

Directions

Mix together all the ingredients for the batter by adding little amount of water at a time. The consistency of the batter should not be too thick or thin. Dip the bananas into the batter,fold them well. Deep fry them in the hot oil until light brown in color. Drain it on the paper towel. Enjoy!