This picture of my trusty Jali karandi lying on a metal thali looked so much like an alien I could not resist titling it Kitchen UFO - Not the flying kind - the frying kind :))
My entry for CLICK Metal by Jugalbandi
I am really sorry I have not hyperlinked the blogs and their recipes that Ive mentioned in my essay submission. My apologies. My only excuse is that I was in a tearing hurry. I hope to correct the omission within a week
UPDATE: Corrections and links hyperlinked March 26/08
HUMBLOGISTANI ESSAY 08
REVOLUTION IN A THALI
I argue that India and Indians have a unique approach to food and that our predisposition to multicuisines is cultural and has been part of our capacity to absorb and assimilate various cultures over the centuries. I then look at how I think blogging has accelerated this process and laid the foundations of a cultural revolution.I then end by speculating on how far the new approach and the technology are going to take us.
In the first book I reviewed for my blog , Light of India, poet and philosopher Octavio Paz said of Indian food, “in India, the various dishes come together on a single plate. Neither a succession nor a parade, but a conglomeration and superimposition of things and tastes: a synchronic cuisine. A fusion of flavors, a fusion of times.”
The gujarati thali or the South Indian Banana Leaf, wherever I look at food in India his observation seems to ring true. In places I go to, Benares, the oldest cosmopolitan city in India I think- Idlis are being served steaming hot in one place and in another , its famous Banarsi Lassi. "Multicuisine" restaurants seem to dominate the Indian restaurant scene.But the best example I can give is close to home - my Mother because when I think food- good food, I usually think of my mother's cooking.
My mother makes dishes from her native Kanchipuram,or from occasional recipe swaps with her Gujarati neighbors and colleagues from all over India. Only now, over the last five years has she started cooking stuff shown on the television. Nothing unusual about this story, I am sure many people growing up in an Indian home had a similar experience. A fusion of flavors from different parts of India, but evolving rather slowly in spurts and starts.
Now think of the same process sped up and on steroids.
Every day, for atleast one meal, over a year.
That is exactly what I am doing these days. I blog about food and look at the work of fellow food bloggers-some indian and some international. A typical lunch, google vangi baath and and make it. Dinner the next day, Husband wants something different – its eggplant rollatini with linguini.
India's propensity towards “multi cuisine” has led to easy stereotyping of regions both in Indian homes and restaurants. South Indian means Idli Dosa, North Indian means naan and paneer butter masala. You will find paneer butter masala even in a remote hilltop in kerala and idlis in the equally remote kulu manali. True regional food rooted in the soil is mainly found in homes or perhaps the five star hotels. A mist of cheap ubiquity has shrouded the complex regional cuisines of India. The sharp focus on regional cuisine characteristic of Indian food bloggers has brought in focus the true complex tapestry that regional cuisine in India is.
Recipes like Kobbari kaaam podi from Indira or even Perugulu Ringulu from Asvadha, Bhakri from Kajals dreams or Chokha from Jugalbandi are traditional regional recipes from India. I could never have known about these recipes easily in America. My understanding of regional recipes and flavors of India are mostly from the food blogging world.
I envy the rootedness in regional cuisine that many Indian foodblogs have. In their cases, traditional seems easier to define, as the everyday food of a particular region in India. The food I make is not entirely the result of being an immigrant twice over, first from my native Tamilnadu to Gujarat and then to America. You could call it the schizophrenic food of a short attention span generation yuppie or quirk of my particular nature....or a way of life spawned by the multitude of mouth watering choices offered by the internet and more specifically food blogging .
Food blogging is very different from Food writing and instruction in traditional media like the television or books and creates a way of life with new traditions. It means readily accessible, high quality information on Indian and International food at any time of the day. Most other differences are part and parcel of the structural aspects of the internet and blogging.
Food blogging is an interactive experience. I know I have been been inspired not only the posts on some of the food blogs that I like, but I am also energized by the comments. I get a sense of community and food history from the comments. Food events are organized on a regular basis, from the JFI series to the AFAM. I participate in events that use ingredients or are about regional foods that I know nothing about. It only gives me an opportunity to understand and learn a little more about that culture or ingredient.
Food blogging is not only about food. Its vibrant personality and interests are as big as the person behind them. Its about photography, sustainability, food politics in my case, charitable work, arts and crafts. It can be controversial, thoughtful, insightful. Even when it is about the food, there is a skilled many times funny narrative, of mistakes made towards reaching that perfect phulka or the description of eating the first mango of the season.
Food blogging also enjoys freedom of expression. None of that boring flat politically correct stuff. I find a foodie book aunty like , I can call it aunty like. And then no need to keep my hands on my head to ward the brickbats away. In that sense, the internet is an hydroponic medium. No gravity, just become what you want to be.
Indian Food blogging breathes new life into traditional regional food by recording them but also gives birth to a new tradition of “authentic multi cuisine” by the access to recipes in India and world wide. It increases the focus on regional cuisines but also increases the scope of multicuisine in Indian homes. Will there be a breaking point? Will the balance tip? I now include Mexican and some baking in my already crowded repertoire of Continental, Gujarati, South Indian and Punjabi dishes. I think that Indian food blogging has now reached a critical mass of bloggers and readers to qualify as a genuine cultural revolution in the making.
It is a cultural revolution that betters my understanding of genuine regional cuisines, Indian and world. Unlike the established perception of cultural revolutions, the food blogging revolution does not undermine tradition – but supports it. Will Kanchipuram be the new Provence? I sure hope so.
I first ate this Rajasthani specialty at a restaurant called Chokki dhani near Jaipur. I guess because Rajasthan is a desert region it has has many sabzis that are made with staples, the other example being Gatte ki sabji made from besan noodles. Pitod or Patod ka Saag has diamond- shaped pieces made of besan and spices in a spiced yoghurt sauce. Serve with hot rotis or puris. This recipe is from the book Spice box by Manju Shivraj Singh.
1 cup water
salt to taste
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cups chickpea flour / besan / patod
2 Tbl ghee or oil
2-3 dried red chilies, broken into pieces
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 med onions, minced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sliced ginger root
1/2 cup yogurt
salt to taste
1 green chili, seeded and chopped, for garnish
coriander leaves, chopped, for garnish
For the diamonds:
Bring water to a boil. Add salt, cayenne, cumin and chickpea flour. Whisk
these into the water carefully. Cook untill the mixture thickens.
Turn out on a greased plate and flatten with a spatula. When it cools, cut
it into diamond shapes.
This recipe serves 8, You can safely halve the recipe like I did. Even at half, the 1 cup of chickpea flour / besan makes a lot of diamonds. The 1 cup of chickpea took about 1 cup of water. So i think the water proportion in Manju Shivraj Singhs recipe isnt quite right. The besan cooks fairly fast, think five minutes for the total. Of course use a greased thali to pour out the cooked besan. Dont worry if the edges of your cooked besan on the thali are a little raggged. Of course , season the besan well.
For the sauce:
In a heavy saucepan heat oil or ghee. Add red chilies, fenugreek, mustard
seeds, onions and garlic. When browned, add turmeric and sliced ginger, yogurt
and salt to taste. Cook. When it thickens a bit, about 10 min later, add the
chickpea diamonds and simmer for 2-3 min. Garnish with chopped green chilies
Donot dump all the spices in. Do let the mustard pop before you add the cumin and the other ingredients. Actually the Besan / chickpea flour diamonds expand quite a bit in the gravy. So when you add water to your curry remember to take care of that. The second thing is, the chopped onions detract from the smooth taste of the gravy/ curry. Next time i will saute the onions in a little oil and then puree them before adding it to the gravy.
I would also highly recommend topping the sabji with a dollop of ghee before serving. Makes a world of difference.
With a little bit of finetuning, this recipe is very very delicious. When you are flummoxed by the utter lack of vegetables in your referigerator , like I was, this is a go to recipe. Everybody always has besan right?
Tastes very good with rice too, with a dollop of ghee of course!
The bookish cook strikes again!( thanks to barbara of Tiger and strawberries for a catchy self defining phrase) Eating India, An odyssey into the food and culture of the land of spices by Chitrita Banerji.When I saw this title in the library, I just had to read it.
I think that reading a book is partly like getting to know a person. You want to know where it comes from, does it belong to a family, what are its roots? You browse through it and if it catches your imagination, you read it through.
This book is by a Bengali food writer, Chitrita Banerji who has done a lot of food writing focusing on Bengal. Her writing, nay, her soul is rooted in Bengal - although she lives here, in the USA.
As you read through the book, your minds eye forms an image of an middle aged woman -thorough Bengali traipsing through India, using her connections to meet foodie people, and EAT. She name drops quite a bit, A famous artist here, a business man there. But essentially, she is on an eating tour and she recounts her tale region by region: Bengal, Goa, Gujarat, Bombay, Punjab , Hyderabad, Karnataka, Delhi , Benares and some more .
Her writing is peppered with interesting ideas, for example the idea of Weddings in India as cultural and Food snapshots. That is so true and I think so unexplored as a book. The second , Temples as repositories of traditional or authentic indian cuisine- so true( although ive run into this idea elsewhere too). Their style of cooking remaining unchanged over centuries. She draws cool inferences between historical politics in India and food.
The first road block is, what i like to call the "Burden of India". Every sand grain in India has a story and a history - boy what a history - 2000 years of it. When you weave history into a food tour, sometimes it works - many times it doesnt. The book detours into mini tourguide versions of the places she visits. Many times she draws interesting inferences, but mostly its deadweight.
Ok second road block, I think Ive been spoiled by Anthony Bourdain. Chitrita Banerjis approach strikes me as too safe and aunty like. Her preferred sources of information about actual food are the head chefs at the TAJ hotels. Every place she goes, from kerala to Bombay- she picks their brain for places to go and then straightaway you hear about those foods. The fun, experiential and adventurous approach of a foodie or even the homecook is sorely missing.
Where she also fails is in the cartography of food in India. Some places receive more attention and some less - so the book is pretty patchy if you want to know what to eat where in India.
Primarily this book should appeal to the Bengali exploring other Regional Indian Cuisines for the first time.
Labels: Book Reviews
Enchilada, what enchilada? The fellow in the photo up there dont look like no enchilada :)In essence this is a tava version of the baked Enchilada.
I always, always make my Enchiladas the other way-Roll em up, top with sauce and plllenty of cheese. Enchiladas meant carb fest: gorge myself on the glorious cheesy goodness. So im glad that this "authentic" Mexican street style Enchilada from Rick Bayless's book Authentic Mexican lets me have my Enchilada and indulge myself with far less guilt( Authentic is as authentic does- Im not sure about authentic, having never been to Mexico but ill take Ricks word for it)
Note the bed of cabbage( at the best of times not my favorite vegetable), the utter and complete lack of cheese ( those two little yellow strings on top dont count) and the mushroom topping(Only two mushrooms for decorum in a photo- You can veg out in the actual plate). More veggies, less cheese- yet complete flavor.
Looks healthy! So when I read the recipe I thought id give it a shot. I used flour tortillas, H. having a complete allergy to corn tortillas.
A. 12 corn tortillas,preferably dry
B. Sauce Recipe
C. Vegetable Stuffing / Topping( Can use any cooked vegetable topping(potato, carrot) of your choice or use any of the recipes in Mexican series #6 to follow)
D. For the condiments:
1/2 small head cabbage
3 tbsp cider vinegar ( can sub with lemon / lime juice)
1/2 tsp salt
2 thin slices onion
1/2 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco, or other fresh cheese like feta or farmers cheese ( I only had yellow cheddar)
1. The condiments or garnishes: Slice the cabbage very thinly( or get a packet or chopped coleslaw) and place in a bowl. Mix with vinegar, oil and salt,then toss with the cabbage. Set aside, together with the onion rings and crumbled cheese.
2. Frying the enchiladas: About fifteen minutes before serving, divide the cabbage mixture among 4 plates, spreading it into a bed in the center. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet( I used my Nirlep Non stick Tava). When the oil is hot, dip both sides of a tortilla into the sauce, then lay it in the oil. After about 20 seconds, flip the tortillas over, fry for another 20 seconds, fold in half, then in half again lenghtwise. Lift them out draining as much of the oil back into the pan as possible.
3. Finishing the dish.
Lay 3 tortillas per plate on the bed of cabbage, top with vegetables and the cheese and serve.
I actually liked this version better, sort of like a different take on roti sabzi.The cabbage was a revelation, crip and tart - it went perfectly with the enchilada. Note to self: always serve enchiladas(baked or otherwise) in the future with pickled cabbage and onions.
Having a timeline for this dish would be helpful
1. Upto a week Before: Make the sauce
2. Upto four days before: Buy the tortillas
3. Two hours before serving: Make the cabbage base, The sabzi topping.
The baked enchiladas are convenient because they freeze very well, but if you are making lunch for just yourself this is a great way to have a light but flavorful lunch.
If you do try it with corn tortillas, let me know how it goes.
In the picture: Puffed up ancho chile
I used to buy Enchilada Sauce from the supermarket, but I started looking for alternatives as soon as i tasted it. Call me a curious cat, but I just had to know what the real thing tasted like. A couple of searches on chowhound revealed long and passionate discussions on "real" Enchilada Red Sauce, but all of these discussions had a couple of ingredients in common, Mexican Chiles(Ancho, Guajillos),Garlic, Onions, Cumin and Pepper. Many had flour added to thicken the sauce but I could not stomach that idea.
Finally, I ended up going to my sourcebook, Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless- and I must say his recipe makes a pretty darn good Enchilada Sauce, without flour.This is the first time Ive ended up cooking through an entire book and its been quite a learning experience and the entire Mexican series is from that book.
To those who are short on time, Dont think enchilada sauce, think chutney. When you know what ingredients to throw together and puree - the whole process is a breeze. If you donot have time to toast the chiles as Bayless suggests, just soak the chiles in water and puree with some pre chopped garlic, pepper and cumin.I have taken this route before and It tasted similiar to the elaborate method that he outlines.
Now the mexican style of cooking is similiar to ours, so the recipe below is more of a suggestion rather than a very fixed thing. If you saute onion and garlic and add some tomato to the sauce below it becomes Salsa roja or Western Texas Enchilada Sauce. So do feel free to experiment.
Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe:
4 clove garlic, unpeeled
4 medium dried chiles guajillos
6 medium dried chiles anchos
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 cups any poultry broth, plus a little more if needed.
Salt, abt 1 tsp
Sugar 1 pinch if needed
Heat a heavy skillet or griddle over medium then lay the garlic on one side to roast. Tear the chillies into flat pieces and, few at a time, press them against the hot surface with a metal spatula, flip them over and press again; you will see them blister and change color.
( I was too lazy to strip the chillies into flat pieces, I just toasted them whole, they blistered up just fine - Look at the Picture above - Also I halved the quantities of the chiles but kept 4 garlic cloves- Even half the chiles makes a whole lot of sauce. You can buy mexican chiles at your local farmers market, My supermarket carries the goya brand.If you are apprehensive about buying two varieties of chiles that you may not use for other things, try out the recipe with only one chile type- still tastes great)
Dunk into hot water, and soak for atleast an hour, preferably 2 -3 hours. Turn the garlic frequently for 15 min or so, until blackened and soft within. Cool and then peel.
Now remove the stems from the chiles and puree with all the other ingredients.
(You can also add some cider vinegar or lime juice - which i liked - added a little tang to my sauce. While pureeing, you shouldnt add much water. The sauce will be thick. You can adjust the thickness of the sauce adding as much of the soaking water as you like. Adjust salt and sugar according to your taste)
This sauce keeps well for a long, long time in a glass jar in the Referigerator. It has a deep red ochre color that is really alluring.
Stay tuned for the next post on Authentic Mexican Street Style Enchiladas.
This is my entry for Sia's Ode to Potato Event
I first came accross Lefse on the blogs on Epicurious. The article went on and on and on about the glorious joys of eating this THING, a traditional roti type bread in Norway: they eat it with lutefisk(a fish), they eat it with jam & yada yada yada. This is probably the first time I have been nagged into making something :)- that too by an article!
I was like, okay okay ill make it.
You can find comprehensive info on Lefse at Wikipedia.You can find step by step PHOTO instructions for the traditional Lefse here.
The recipe that I prefer is not really the traditional recipe for Lefse. Traditionally, Lefse recipes contain a lot of flour - in terms of proportion, around half to two third of the amount of potatoes. Ive chosen to reduce the flour to only around a tablespoon. My Lefse is all potato all the way.So they are a lot smaller than norwegian lefske.
You can adapt this recipe for fasting days by substituting the flour with some sago/ sabudana flour.
5 medium sized boiling or yukon gold potatoes.Donot use baking potatoes.
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp butter, unsalted, soft.
about 1 tbsp all purpose flour, more if needed.
Salt, to taste
1. Boiling the potatoes: Peel the potatoes and halve them to have pieces pproximately the same size. Boil with plenty of water for 15 minutes, until soft but firm. The texture is very important because, the potato should not disintegrate or become too watery. If the center part of the potato is firm, but the sides are well done, go ahead and remove it from the water. Drain and reserve on a plate.
2.Grate the Potato:First cool the potatoes completely. About an hour or so. You can referigerate them and hasten the process. Grate using a grater with small holes( like a cheese grater).
3. Finish the dough: Add the cream,salt, the butter and the flour and mix very delicately. Just bring it all together into a ball.Do not knead. If you need more flour and your potato mixture is very wet , you can add more flour. Remember, the more flour you add, the less tender your lefse is going to be.
4. Roll out the Roti: Roll the Lefse out like a roti. Put on Tava and cook on both sides until you have brown spots. Spread some ghee on top, just like a normal roti.
The end texture we are aiming for is meltingly soft.
Serve with any sabji/chutney of your choice. I love it plain without anything.I was finding it very difficult to photograph it without gobbling the whole thing up :)
More power to Mr.Spudly!
I made a Strawberry Tart with Lemon Curd for Spice Cafe's JFI Lemon/Lime a little while back. I only used a couple of tablespoons of that delicious lemon curd.
So I made a Lemon Curd Mousse with the remainder.It has a wonderfully tangy and tart flavor, at the same time creamy and smooth - delicious.
So here is the recipe.
1/2 cup Lemon Curd
2 cups Heavy cream
11/2 packets Plain Gelatin (Knox)
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp sugar
Things to take care of before starting:
a. Make sure the Lemon curd is at room temperature and not cold.
If you add the gelatin to really cold lemon curd, it causes the gelatin to become really lumpy.
b. Chill the vessel in which you are going to whip the cream and the beaters.
1. Add the water to the gelatin in a little sauce pan. Let stand for five minutes until the gelatin blooms.
2. After five minutes, heat the mixture gently over low heat, until the gelatin dissolves. Do not Boil
3. Add the dissolved gelatin to the Lemon Curd.
4. Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form(3 minutes on high). Add the 3 tbsp sugar and whip until smooth and glossy(Another 2 minutes). Take care that you donot overwhip. I prefer to be on the safer side and usually underwhip it.
5. Gently fold in the Lemon Curd and gelatin Mixture.
6. If you are using a mould like a square cake pan , line carefully with wax paper or parchment paper and pour the Mousse in.
7. Freeze overnight.
9. Dip the cake pan in hot water and gently remove the mousse.
10. Cut into squares.
11. Plate onto final serving dishes.
I was not familiar with freezing Mousse, but it is a good technique if you want to cut it into geometric shapes. Because of the high butterfat content in the Heavy cream , it is easy to cut and shape. Keeping it in the referigerator for about two hours makes it all soft and creamy again, while holding its shape. But once it becomes soft ,it is impossible to move it: so once you cut it frozen, plate it.
Top with strawberries and chocolate sauce and enjoy.
My submission for Poojas VoW Brinjal Event.
Ringan Bateka Methi ne Tuvar Lilva nu Shaak literally translates to Brinjal Potato Methi and Green Tuvar Vegetables (Sabji). Served with Kachumber no salad(Cucumber) ane patli dal.
Brinjal is a typical winter vegetable in Gujarat. Ringan no ollo is a very famous Gujarati bhartha style dish that usually evokes winter for me. While ollo is well known , ive made this lesser known Brinjal Potato Gujarati combination.
What is unusual about this recipe is the addition of fresh Methi leaves and Tuvar Lilva(Green Tuvar), fresh lime juice and of course mandatory in gujarat - sugar. Sometimes I crave the fresh taste of this simple , almost rustic dish from my childhood as a break from the masala gravies i seem to make so often.
Without further ado, here is the recipe.
3 Long Japanese Style Brinjal
2 Medium Potatoes
1 Small Onion
1/2 cup Tuvar Lilva( From the frozen section of the Indian Store)
1/2 cup Fresh or Frozen Methi( Fenugreek) Leaves ( Donot use Kasoori Methi)
2 tbsp dhana jeeru powder
Red Chilli Powder to taste
For the Dhana Jeeru Powder: Take 1 tbsp jeera in a Skillet and toast until you can smell the jeera (cumin). Add 1 tbsp of dhania or coriander seeds and toast for about a minute more. Powder finely in a spice jar or your mixie.
1. Slice the Brinjal (Ringan) into 2 inch long sections. Divide each section into half and then proceed to slice thinly. Peel the potatoes and slice into similar pieces ( Long and thin). Slice the Onion into long and thin pieces.
2. Take as much oil as you are comfortable with(:)-The more the better in this case Notice how cleverly i never mention OIL in the ingredient list) in your saute pan.
3. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add all the rest of the ingredients. The order is not particularly important. Add all the spices and saute for about 10 minutes.
4. For the last five minutes , cover with a lid or a plate and let steam. I find that the frozen Tuvar Lilva is for some reason a lot tougher than the fresh ones we used back home. So cover with a lid until you are happy with the softness of the tuvar.
Now the observant might ask, where is the lemon and the sugar? Top the shaak or sabji with fresh lemon juice and Sugar. Im not comfortable with a lot of sugar. I found that a light hand with the sugar and just a squeeze of lemon juice adds a whole another dimension of flavor.
Taste ek dum sakkad thai jai!
I tried to make Bajra rotlas, a thick rustic chappati type bread - which would have accompanied this shaak beautifully. I even found this lovely picture tutorial from Kajal to make them. But alas, my bajra rotlas turned out to be DOA. So ive stuck to chappatis. You could also serve them with puris.
My Entry for WBB#20
Hosted by Mansi Desai
I make this Baked egg with Potato and Pico de Gallo quite frequently on weekends. Its a luxurious and somewhat well balanced breakfast.If you can keep yourself from going after the potato for seconds that is. :) When I reluctantly wake up on a quiet sunday, stretch out, read the newspaper and reach out for this breakfast, life seems beautifully lazy with infinite possibilities. Ah the rhapsodies of a happily full stomach!
There are two components to this recipe:
1.The Potato Hash
2.Pico de Gallo
Both are do ahead. You can make them the previous night and throw the egg and potato in the oven in the morning.
So here is the recipe:
1.The Potato hash
4 medium Potatoes, preferably yukon gold
2 medium Onions, finely chopped
Chives, finely chopped
Black Pepper, freshly ground.
Peel the potatoes, and dice into 1 cm cubes. The next step is to roast them . You can do this on a non stick pan, that way it gets beautifully golden without much Oil. I find that Yukon gold potatoes absorb very little oil and roast beautifully. When the potatoes are nicely brown , add the onions. When the onions are translucent, add the chopped chives, salt and season well with pepper.
Dont be stingy with the pepper. These potatoes taste good with a solid peppery blast.
2. Pico De Gallo
2 Tomatoes, diced
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1 Jalapeno, finely chopped
Fresh Lemon Juice
Cilantro / Coriander leaves
This is a classic Spanish / Mexican Condiment. Just mix together all the ingredients. If you are planning to serve this the next morning , add the lemon juice and the salt half an hour before serving. Taste and adjust jalapenos if needed.
Take the potato hash in a baking dish( Ceramic or Foil). Make four little indentations in the potato. Crack open four eggs and put in the little indentations.
Bake at 350 F for half an hour for firm yolks. If you prefer softer ones, 15 to 20 min are enough.
So, this Breakfast has vegetables, fruits ( Tomato is technically a fruit!) and Egg. Im sure you can make it with only egg whites, in which case baking time is only 5 minutes. You can always top it with grated cheese.
Accompanied by fresh coffee or fruit juice this breakfast is the gateway to the glorious philosophical mindset of a Full stomach :) Enjoy!
You can have fun with your corn tortilla dough by making easy and beautiful corn cups for great appetizers. This recipe idea is from a book called Hor doeuvres by Erik Treuille and Victoria Blashford Shnell.
1 recipe Corn tortilla dough
23/4 inch biscuit cutter
Mini Muffin Pan
Oil Spray like pam
Roll out corn tortilla dough between two sheets of Cling film. Remove top cling film. Cut circles in the rolled out dough with the 23/4" biscuit cutter. Carefully transfer circle of dough to the Mini muffin pan. Spray with pam, Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. In any case, remove before brown. Sometimes, if your circles have different thicknesses, some cups brown before others - so keep an eye on them.
For my daughters birthday I made these in three flavors, cheese, spinach and beetroot. For cheese, replace 1/4rth cup of the masa with Parmesan cheese, for spinach and beetroot - replace the water with pureed spinach and beetroot respectively. The spinach and beetroot affect baking times, so keep an eye on the cups in the oven.
I have seen some versions of this recipe online that used cooked , store bought tortillas. I tried that out, But I felt that those resulted in really inferior quality cups.
Serve these with a gorgeously unhealthy - dare i say it - VELVEETA based dip( Recipe from Epicurious)! and top with fresh tomato salsa. If velveeta makes you queasy, replace the velveeta with a good cheddar cheese + 1/4 cup heavy cream + 1/2 tsp sugar. You wont get the velvety :) texture of velveeta, but it will still taste fierce. I skipped the beer and the refried beans in the recipe and added a lot of jalapeno.
Corn is a basic grain in Mexican cuisine and the Corn tortilla one of its Building blocks. There are problems with commercially bought corn tortillas, for us vegetarians-they might contain lard or animal fat , their thickness is usually atrocious - the mouth swims in the gummy taste of fat and not so tasty tortilla and lastly they are not fresh.
How important is freshness to a corn tortilla? So important that buying the Masa or freshly ground dough is fervently advocated by most people who make the corn tortillas. Most of us cannot obtain freshly ground masa, but i think for those who make rotis, making tortillas is just a change from wheat to corn dough really. Corn tortillas made at home only have two ingredients: Corn masa and water.
You can use your fresh corn tortillas in making tostadas, quesadillas, burritos or even fresh tortilla chips.
Equipment:For someone like me who makes tortillas occasionally, no special equipment is needed. Just use your roti making apparatus plus some cling film or wax paper. You need to buy the tortilla maker only if you make tortillas on a daily or weekly basis.
Tortilla de Maiz:
Yield 15 Tortillas
13/4 cups masa harina ( Look for the MASECA brand in the Hispanic section of your supermarket)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp hot tap water
1. The dough: Mix the Masa harina with the hot water and then knead until smooth, adding more water or more masa harina to achieve a very soft , but not sticky consistency.
Divide into fifteen balls and let rest for half an hour.
2. Heat a large, ungreased, heavy griddle. It is important that your griddle be heavy. I used my light roti/dosa tava and it flopped miserably. I then used my heavy cast iron grill pan to great success.
3. Take one ball of the masa harina between two sheets of clingfilm, and proceed to roll out with your rolling pin ( belan).
4. Put the tortilla on the heavy skillet. If the tava is properly hot, the tortilla should balloon up like a phulka. Now mine did not fluff up, but they tasted just as good! I guess ill need a lot more practice before i achieve that.
5. When browned, remove and wrap in a towel or kitchen cloth. Rest for about 15 minutes , to finish their cooking, soften and become pliable.
Recipe from Rick Bayless: Authentic Mexican
Look at them , like a proud family posing for a photo. All ten of them, members of my own pantry. Wow. Only a couple of relatives there too. Rice Flour, Maseca Corn Masa, Besan, Chapatti atta, Guilty secret white allpurpose flour, Moong atta, Corn meal, Urad flour, Semolina flour and I-dont-know-why-I-bought-it-Green-Split-Pea-Flour.
Jugalbandi's recent CLICK event on Flour made me think of all the Flour I had sleeping in my kitchen.
How many you got?
Mixture is a quintessential South Indian Snack, and it is exactly what its name implies: A mixture of little bits of everything : nuts, puffed rice, raisins, green chillies, curry leaves : Sugar and spice and all thats nice. Salty sweet with a hint of fennel, so unhealthy and yet so irresistable. Making it at home though is a Frying Marathon. My mom usually makes this every Diwali, but H. likes it so much I make it atleast once a month. The price of love i guess. Now, it is available at stores, but if you have the patience, try this recipe.Not only are the results infinitely better, it is endlessly customizable.
Some ingredients I buy readymade, but even then this recipe is basically a BIG assembly job and one where going through the instructions is worth it.
Store Bought Ingredients:
1 14 oz bag Masala Boondi
1 14 oz bag Sev
2oz Fennel Sweet: Basically a cake sprinkle type candy with a fennel seed inside.
11/2 cups Thin Poha
1/2 cup Peanuts
1/2 cup Cashew Nuts
1/2 cup Raisins
Diamond Cut : Little pieces of flavored fried dough that melt in your mouth
Ingredients:1/2 cup Maida,1 tsp Black Pepper Powder, 1 tbsp Crisco
10-15 Curry Leaves
3-5 cut green chillies
Red Chilli Powder
Equipment: I set up a frying station to do this. Look at the picture to the left. A deep pan and a completely stainless steel meshed strainer ( large) are ideal. If you have a strainer with a plastic rim like me, you will have to be very careful that the rim does not ever touch the hot oil.
I first mix the dough for the Diamond cut. Take the 1/2 cup of maida , rub the shortening into the dough. You can do this with your fingers. Add pepper powder and salt to taste. Now add cold water slowly to the dough and add as little water as possible to make a soft dough.(Think pastry dough). Cover with cling film and Referigerate.
Now back to the strainer oil set up. Keep the following ingredients ready on the side while the oil heats up, the thin poha, curry leaves, green chillies, raisins.
For the puffed rice: Once the oil is hot, put some ( about a couple of tablespoons) thin poha into the strainer and dip it into the hot oil. Within 1 or two seconds you will see the poha puff up AND the sizzling of the oil will stop. Shake the strainer to remove excess oil and put the poha on to bounty sheets or paper to drain the oil. Donot overcrowd your strainer with poha or your rice wont puff up. Other thing is the oil has to be really hot or the rice doesnt puff up. Dont worry if if your first batch doesnt puff up, it tastes quite good.
Once the rice is done, put in the curry leaves in the strainer, Dip into the hot oil. Once fried , reserve on paper.
Next come the Green chillies. Deep fry them too.
Last are the Raisins. Deep fry the raisins and reserve.
Peanuts: Toast the peanuts in 1 tbsp oil over low heat until golden and just browning. Season with salt and red chilli powder , reserve.
Cashew: Toast the cashewnuts in 1 tbsp oil over low heat until golden and just browning. Season with salt and red chilli powder, reserve.
At this point you might want to change the oil in the pan.
Last thing to make is the Diamond cut. Divide the diamond cut dough into four parts. Roll out one part dough with a rolling pin ( belan) like you would a roti. Cut it with a pastry wheel or a knife with a sharp edge into little diamonds. You could also do any other shape you like. Deep fry.
Assemble all the ingredients, the boondi, the sev,the fennel sweet, the diamond cut, the fried poha, the cashews, the raisins, the peanuts, the green chillies and the curry leaves. Take 1 tbsp oil in a pan, when hot add the turmeric and red chilli powder. When the turmeric and red chilli powder are no longer raw, in about a minute, pour this oil on the assembled ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Taste for salt and adjust.
Customizations: You can sub unpuffed corn flakes for the poha, adjust the green and red chilli powder according to your heat level. Its easier to begin with lower levels of heat and salt , because you can always add them.
I would recommend making a huge batch, because of the assembly involved the size of the batch is not a problem. You can even skip a few ingredients like the diamond cut, the boondi or sev or even the cashews - depending on what you have on hand and how much time you are willing to spend. Dont skip the seasonings though.