Monday, March 20, 2017

Teacher Appreciation Week and saying Thank You with a chocolate cake with floral decoration.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week in my son's school. 
It's time to stop and thank all those loving teachers who share knowledge with the little ones and work not just towards making them learn Math or Grammar but also work on their confidence and self-esteem.

When we moved, 3 months ago, the biggest change was for Li'll S. Changing school mid year is dreadful. Facing a classroom full of new faces, a new teacher is rather intimidating.
Thankfully, he was made welcome and soon settled in and has adjusted very well to all the changes thrown at him. 

chocolate cake with buttercream flowers

Everyday, when I pick S from school, he looks relaxed and is happy. As a mother, I couldn't ask for more.


chocolate cake with flowers
  So when Teachers Appreciation Week rolled by, I wanted to show my gratitude and what better than to share something sweet.

I made this cake for Teachers Lunch.
Its a 4 layer Chocolate cake with whipped cream filling.
The outer frosting and flower decoration is vanilla butter cream.
Sadly, the pictures don't do justice, I clicked them in a hurry and in bad yellow lighting.

For those who want a frosting recipe:
For this cake I used

4 sticks Salted Butter
1 Tbs Vanilla extract
2 Lbs. Powdered / confectioners Sugar
Milk ( I add by the teaspoon, about 3-4)  to get stiff consistency icing

Start by using room temperature butter.
Add the soft butter to the stand mixer.
Use the paddle attachment and start at a low speed and beat the butter till its soft, creamy and a shade lighter.
Add the vanilla and whip the butter some more.
Add the sugar, slowly and mix at slow speed to incorporate it well ( if the mixer is at high speed, the sugar will fly out  and you will have a white layer on the counter top)
Beat the mixture for at least 4-5 minutes to mix the butter and sugar well and make smooth icing.

To store, place the frosting in airtight containers and refrigerate.
I place the frosting in a container, then put saran wrap and then place the lid. That is optional.

buttercream floral decoration

I made this cupcake for my friend Prachi's son. She helped me carry the cake to school. It was a big cake and I needed help.


This cupcake is VERY special for me. See that orange rose? My little boy made it! He saw me making flowers and wanted to pitch in and help. I am so proud of him!

That's it from my end today. Have a great week ahead! 
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Sunday, March 05, 2017

Vegetable and Corn Chowder (IP/ Electric Pressure Cooker Recipe)

February was the 'Sugar Free' month in the AC@H household. It started off with high enthusiasm and I am happy I could stick to my plan. I admit, there were times I felt like I was caving in, but luckily, I managed to stick to my resolution. 
I also realized that my sugar craving is almost gone. The other day, the son and I made chocolates at home and I couldn't eat a single piece.
Earlier, I would make sheera or something sweet at the drop of a hat and the temptation to sit down to a piping hot bowl of sugary sweetness as soon as it is done was unbeatable, but not anymore! 

I am so glad I did this.

But I also realized that sometimes, sugar, in small portions is ok. For example, a bit of sugar in pohe and upma elevates the taste and balances the flavors. Ditto with some vegetables (for example, this simple Dudhi chi bhaji or cabbage (made the Maharashtrian way).The addition of sugar makes it taste so good! 
My morning cup of chai is what gets me going and adding a bit of jaggery to it makes me happy. It's the one concession I will make. It helped me stick to my resolution, I believe.  

So to sum it up, avoid sugar where you can, if possible, substitute with jaggery (at least it has iron content) and when absolutely neededuse sugar in small quantities. 

I have also been making good use of my EPC. With the temperatures still low and snow piled up till the end of February, it's was very cold.  Cold....cold evenings and piping hot soup make such a good combination.

When we first moved to Utah and stayed in the hotel for a while, eating out was our only option. I carried the EPC,but who wants to stock grain and oil and spices in a hotel room. The lingering smell is unavoidable and I was not going to have it sticking to us as well as all our belongings packed in suitcases. 
So on the bitter cold evenings, we would bundle ourselves in the car and drive to Zupas (which, by the by, was opposite the hotel, but we weren't inclined to trudge through the snow and wind) and fill up on heartwarming soups. 
I tried Vegetable Chowder for the first time and loved it. 
After that, I scoured the net for recipes and found so many that my recipe is a mish-mash of all I read. 
It is very simple and also a very forgiving recipe.
Approximate measurements are fine as long as you are careful and don't overdo anything.

Start with chopping vegetables, I used my chopper to get even pieces. 
I used  1 Red onion, 1 Russet potato, 1 (big) or 2 medium carrot, 1 zucchini and 1 - 1 1/2 cup corn kernels.
This made enough soup for one dinner (for 3) and M took some to work the next day and I slurped up a small bowl for my lunch the next day.

Start the Electric Pressure Cooker (Magic Chef/ Power pressure cooker / Instant Pot) and use the Sear/ Saute option.

Heat oil and add the chopped onion and saute till translucent. Add in all the chopped vegetables and mix for a minute or two. 

Add 2-3 tbsp. of All Purpose Flour ( this acts as a thickener)  and mix well to coat the vegetables.
Add salt, pepper and about 1- 1.5 tsp seasoning ( I used Italian seasoning, it's what I have on hand, you can use oregano / mixed herbs/ thyme) and added a dash of red pepper flakes. 
Add 2- 3 water / vegetable stock, stir well. 
Press the 'Cancel' button and seal the pressure cooker (whistle on 'seal' mode). 
Set it on 'Manual' mode for 2 minutes. QPR (Quick Pressure Release) once the timer beeps. Be careful when releasing the pressure, the steam can burn!


Add 1 full cup of milk ( I used whole milk, you can use half-n-half if you wish, to get a creamier version) and mix.
I noticed that my soup was a bit watery and so I used the immersion blender and blended it just a bit. The pureed vegetables gave the soup some body and it was perfect.

Turn on the saute mode again. and let the soup come to a gentle boil stirring almost all the time ( I was worried, because of the milk, it may not be needed). 
Grate and add Cheese ( I used Sharp Cheddar) and mix to incorporate.
Once the cheese is mixed in the soup switch off the EPC. 
Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Soup,one pot meal, chowder, vegetable chowder

Adding 1-2 cloves of minced Garlic (after sauteing onion) also tastes so good. I cannot recollect if I did or not, but as a side note, add in some. 
You can also add Yellow squash, celery, broccoli florets if you like. 
Adding Quinoa will amp up the protein. Just make sure you rinse it thoroughly to avoid the bitter taste.
Serve hot. Add a dash of red pepper flakes if you like. 
Adding some crushed tortilla chips as a garnish to vary the taste.

What's on my mind now.

I want to learn to enjoy salads and also to cut down on carbs. I also want to cut down on snacking. I love crunchy snacks and fall prey to them very easily. I did that just yesterday on my weekly visit to the Indian store. phrrrp! 
I guess, once I finish this lot, I will try and not buy any or at least but and v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y eat my way through the bag. 

The other thing is, to use my EPC more than I already am. I love using it for boiling eggs (makes the perfect boiled eggs and no babysitting), making chaivegetables, rice and khichadi, steaming ALu wadi, making yogurt and fermenting idli/dosa batter and very recently, dhokla and pullikachal ( coming up on the blog soon). 
I will update this place as I experiment and hope it helps fellow EPC users. 

Have a great week ahead, folks! 

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Thursday, February 02, 2017

Gulpolicha Ladoo (simplified and modified version of Gulpoli)

I love 'gulpoli'.To those who don't know about this, gulpoli is a thin, sweet stuffed flat bread. This is made in most Maharastrian homes during Sankranta. A Gulpoli has the goodness of whole wheat flour, the stuffing is made of roasted gram flour (besan), jaggery, sesame powder and scented with nutmeg powder and cardamom powder.
The making is tricky and it needs practice and patience. 
This flatbread, unlike a roti or even a puranpoli, isn't soft and pliable. It is a bit hard and is best enjoyed cold, with the customary smear of home made ghee. 

Around January, stores ( some typical stores that I remember are Vijay stores, Bedekar, Panshikar) would start stocking Tilgul ladoo, Til Wadi and Gulpoli. I would beg my mom to make or buy these. 
When time and schedule permitted ( as she was a working woman) she would make or buy. 

It's been years since I ate a gulpoli. I wasn't too confident about making them and not sure they would be a hit with M or li'll S, as much as they were with me. 
Many a times, I am the only one who ends up finishing things, and let me tell you, these sweet treats are not kind on the waist.
But this year, I could not get gulpoli off my mind. 
That combined with the fact that I could see them scattered across many pictures on a facebook group I am a part of, just was like adding fuel to fire! 
But making just 3-4 pieces of anything is, somehow, unsatisfying. But finishing up, just because no one else will, and with the  I-don't-like-to-trash-food mindset is even worse. 
So when I brooded over my dilemma a bit, the solution just popped up in my mind, something that would check off the boxes
  • limited in quantity
  • satisfy the craving
  • easy to make
So the evening before, I made 4 extra fulkas.
That's how it starts. 

I made a modified version of Gulpoli, using the same ingredients as required to make the stuffed version.
Only, my version uses premade rotis/ fulkas. I, made small ladoos ! 

These are every bite as good as the flatbread and can be made quickly and taste good and in this case, husband approved! They are not as labor intensive and do not fail (Those gulpolis have a habit of leaking hot molten stuffing onto the tava and burning and smelling bad and generally making one shed a tear and being disappointed, if you are not an expert).
Here is my simplified and modified version of the classic.

You need: 

4 Fulkas ( preferably extras from last night)
2 heaped Tbsp. Besan / gram flour
2 Tbsp. Oil
2-3 Tbsp Jaggery, crumbled
2 Tbsp. Sesame seeds, roasted to a golden brown and powdered (cool and powder)
Pinch Nutmeg powder
1 Cardamom, powdered
1 tsp Ghee ( or a bit more as needed)

To begin, crumble the roti /fulkas. You can do it by hand, but I prefer to run the quartered pieces of roti thru the chopper. It makes my work easy and super quick. Plus, the fulka/roti gets shredded really fine, just how I like it.

Sankranti special, Gulpoli, ladoo, poli ladoo
 In a non-stick pan, heat oil and add the besan to it. On a low flame, roast the besan to an aromatic, nutty golden brown, like you would for besan ladoo. Do not skimp on the oil, use the 2 tbsp. 

Leave the roasted besan aside, to cool.

While the besan cools, measure out the jaggery. I have used powdered jaggery. If you have the block, grate and use the required amount of jaggery. I have used 2 heaped Tbsp ( and I mean heaped! there was a small mound on top of the tbsp measure). Adjust the amount of sweetness. I don't like 'too sweet' but too little in this case will not taste good, remember, there is the besan as well as the sesame seed powder that will cut the sweetness as will the fulka/ roti. You don't want the ladoo to taste bland and pasty.

Roast, cool and powder the sesame seeds.
I added the cardamom seeds and the bit of nutmeg to the sesame seeds and powdered them together.

Gulpoli, Goolpoli, poli ladoo, chapati lodoo
Add the jaggery and the sesame seed powder to the roasted besan and mix. The oil in the besan should be enough to make a soft ball out of the mixture.

Now add the crumbled fulka /roti and ghee to the mixture and combine and mix very well.
If the mixture feels dry, add some more ghee. Make small balls of the mixture.

gulpoli, ladoo, tilgul poli ladoo

Gulpoli, Goolpoli, poli ladoo, chapati lodoo

You should be able to get about 6-8 ping pong ball sized ladoos.


This post was languishing in my drafts for some time. Finally, I sat down and typed it out, reminding myself that I should at least get this post done before 'rathasaptami' and also before I made a big change to my eating habits. Read on to know the change I am making.....


February is a milestone month. This year, I decided to change my habits a little. Over the past few years, I have neglected my health. I do not pay attention to my food habits. I usually make do with whatever-is-there for lunch and concentrate only on dinner, when the whole family sits together.
What happened was, I ended up eating junk or carbs on most days, cleaning up the fridge of leftovers, not realizing that my stomach was becoming the recycle bin , just because I could not bear to trash good food. 
A few changes I made by mid- January were, I cut down my sugar intake. This meant curbing my sweet tooth, but that was the small part.
The real battle was giving up sugar in my cup of tea. Now, I also love dunking biscuits in my chai, or munching on a piece of hot,lightly buttered toast. My mornings were made up of this happy routine. 
But this habit is very unhealthy and if I were to maintain a chart with calorie intake, this shows a good amount of calories exhausted at the very start of the day! 
So I tried my chai without sugar, it was VERY difficult. 
I admit it, I loathed it. I needed tea and drinking the 'sugar less' cup of tea was making me miserable. I know how childish it sounds, I mean, tons of people enjoy tea or coffee without sugar, but I could not do it. I longed for a cup of mildly sweet tea, regular tea. 
But I did not want sugar. See how my mind works? Finally, I decided upon a small compromise. I would add 1/2 tsp jaggery to my tea, it made me happy. That one small change helped me. 
Over the last couple of weeks since I have stopped consuming sugar (with the exception of that 1/2 tsp), I have lost the craving  of popping something in my mouth, for example, I would think nothing of smearing a slice of bread with some jam and eating it or scarfing down a fresh baked muffin. But now, I do not feel the urge to! Those who now me and my love for sweets, understand what a dramatic change this is for me. But sugar lurks in many corners of the pantry and so, I am going sugar fee, all February, high time I did it. When I saw Nupur (OHS) taking a step towards it, I was very eager to join in. Join me ( and many others) for this challenge ( it's never too late to make the change).
Putting it here, out in the open also adds accountability. 

This does not mean I will stop making anything sweet in my kitchen. I still have sugar stocked, I will use it to make some treat for my son, but the frequency will go down and my consumption will stop. My family will also get healthy habits with the occasional indulgence ( well deserved, in this case for a small boy).
If you'd like to join this challenge, leave a comment here or on the AC@H FaceBook page and start a healthy tomorrow! 
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Undhiyu (modified and simplified.) A Winter Specialty.

On Sundays, my mother and I, or sometimes, my father and I would walk to the bus stand and eagerly wait for bus number 63 (my favorite as it was a double decker) or bus number 61 to take us to Dadar B.B. We would get down at 'Plaza Cinema' stop and walk to Saurashtra stores or DadarSurati Farsan mart.
My mom or dad would carry a big  steel dabba , with a tight fitting lid. We would then join the line, a long line and wait impatiently for our turn to buy Undhiyu.

This Gujarati winter specialty is well loved by many but since it is labor intensive, no wonder the lines were serpentine. 
When it was our turn, we would get the Undhiyu and some little snack for me and head back home. My parents were careful when carrying the heavy container. It was full of the most delicious smelling Undhiyu and oh-so-greasy! 

I would pick out my favorite bits, potato, yam and the deep fried muthiyas leaving out the eggplant and banana.

I always wished for a better version of Undhiyu, one that wasn't SO dripping with oil and sans eggplant and soft squishy bananas.

So now, with a little help from my friend, Sonali, I have the recipe I like and will make often.
The plus is, I used my EPC (Electric Pressure Cooker ) and it was a breeze.
This time, I was able to take step wise pictures (iPhone), hopefully these will help.

The traditional version has Surti Papdi, fresh peas, suran (Elephant foot yam), Konphal ( purple yam), potato, ripe but firm bananas cooked in a coconut spice mix in a ton of oil.

My version is simplified to what is most easily available and of course, you can add eggplants if you wish. I will add the method to include these as well.

To begin with, you need:

1 large potato ( I used a Russet) 
2 slender Purple Yams
1 regular Yam
3/4 packet of Frozen Surti Papdi ( a quarter bag was used when i made something else, so if you like, use the entire packet)
1 cup Frozen Toovar Lilva
11/2 Tsp Carom seeds /Ajwain, divided.
1/4 cup Oil ( you will need a good amount of oil, it's still a lot less than the original amount) don't skimp!

Peel and cut the tubers into large chunks. Soak in cold water to avoid discoloring.

For the Spice Mix ( the chutney) 

approx. 1 cup Shredded coconut (fresh or frozen) 
1 bunch of Cilantro ( leaves and tender stalk), finely chopped
2-3 fresh Green Chilies (+/- to taste)
1 inch knob of Ginger
Fistful Fresh Green Garlic ( if unavailable, use 3-4 fat cloves of Garlic) 
1 heaped tsp. Coriander powder
1 tsp Garam Masala ( I use Badshah Rajwadi Garam masala)
1 tsp Kashmiri Red chillies powder ( or a blend of a spicier powder and kashmiri, if you want to amp up the heat) 
Salt to taste
Juice of half a lime ( my addition)
2 tsp Sugar 

Make a paste of the ginger and green chilies. If using whole garlic, add that to the ginger- chilies mix. If using fresh green garlic, add the garlic 'bulb' and chop the greens fine. 
Mix all the ingredients listed above and set aside. 

Methi Muthiya:

1 small bunch Fresh Fenugreek leaves, washed in several changes of water and chopped fine
1/2 cup whole wheat flour ( atta)
1/2 cup Besan 
1/4 tsp EACH, Turmeric and Red chilies powder
Salt to taste
Big Pinch Sugar
Pinch Baking soda ( I used Eno Fruit salt) 
1/4 tsp Red chilies powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Oil


Do the prep.
Peel and chop the vegetables and soak in cold water. If you like, add 2-3 small, round eggplants. Cut the stem and make a cross cut half way through the eggplant (X) but ensure that you do not make pieces. The eggplants will be stuffed with some of the spice blend. 


I used my Electric Pressure Cooker to make the Undhiya so let me detail the procedure Sonali shared with me and later I will also suggest the regular pressure cooker method. 

STEP 1:
To begin, Rinse the frozen Surti Papdi and Toovar Lilva in water (to get rid of ice) and add it to a pot. Add salt and the Ajwain, mix.
In the steel inner pot of the EPC, add 2 cups of water and place the papdi and lilva pot on a trivet and set the EPC to 'Manual' mode for 10 mins.

STEP 2:
While the Papdi cooks, make the muthiya, 
Mix all the ingredients for the muthiya, adding just enough water to make a smooth dough.Divide into 10-12 equal sized balls and deep fry.  
I made my dough a bit wet and shaggy and used my appe pan / abelskiver pan to shallow fry them. Once done, keep the aside. We need them towards the end.

STEP 3:
Now,  back to the EPC and the papdi/ lilva , once the pressure has released remove the pot, drain the water in the inner pot and set it on 'Sear'  / 'Saute' mode.
Add oil to the inner pot and let it heat a little. 
Add remaining 1 tsp Ajwain and all the spice blend / Masala and saute.
Sauteing the spice mix

At this point, I scooped out half the masala and decided to add it on top of the mound of vegetables. It is entirely optional.
Add the vegetables on the masala.

That's the surti papdi and toovar lilva.
Then the root vegetables.
Add the scooped out masala on top and mix gently.
If using eggplants, stuff them with some of the masala ( like 1 tsp/eggplant) add them now. Because the eggplants get squishy, do not add them to the bottom, they will be over cooked and pulpy.
If using bananas ( ripe yet firm to the touch), cut the bananas in half and then make slits and stuff them,like you did in the eggplant and add them on top of all the veges.
Sprinkle in about 1/2 cup water.


Close the EPC, set it to 'sealing' mode and set on manual for 10 minutes and let the pressure subside naturally.

Remember the muthiya? STEP 4:


Add the muthiya to the cooked vegetables  and close the lid again. I just let it sit for a good 10-15 mins, let the flavors meld.


Mix gently and garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Regular Pressure Cooker Method:

Everything remains the same, what we will do here is: 
Heat oil in the cooker and add the ajwain.
Add the vegetables in the order mentioned (except the eggplant and bananas, if using) and the masala, mix well.
Now layer in the eggplant and bananas. Sprinkle with water and seal the lid, with the whistle.
Cook for 2 whistles and let the pressure subside naturally. 
Add the muthiya and seal the lid. At this point, the cooker may hold pressure again, that's ok, it won't spoil anything, in fact the muthiya will naturally soften and the flavors will come together well. 

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve. 

The methods of using either pressure cooker are similar and if you are wondering what makes the EPC my choice or even otherwise a popular choice is that it eliminates the guesswork. In my case, I dislike guessing how many whistles are needed to cook it just right. No waiting around and counting how many whistles...
The EPC settings do the job perfectly. 

Notes:

Do not cut down the oil (unless you have medical issues). This is made only during winter season and is probably a one or two time thing, so you can indulge.

We prefer eating Undhiyu  just as it is, no accompaniments. 

Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Undhiyu reheats beautifully in the microwave.  


That's it from me. Have a wonderful weekend, folks! 

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Amba Khatta (Mango Curry) (Odiya Cuisine)

As 2016 draws to a close, I look back at it and wonder, was there a year that had so many ups and downs? 
The high was my trip to India, spending time with family and catching up with my besties from college. That one day brought back a surge of those wonderful 5 years and we just went back to being Seenagers (Senior Teenagers). These girls made the 5 years of college the best ones of my life! We shared so much, laughter, tears, food, secrets. Just thinking of them makes me smile.

The lows were, I lost my uncle and aunt, within a week of one another. Many of my closest friends also lost their loved ones and it was just one blow after another. 
I'm glad this year is almost over.

Here's wishing everyone a very happy new year. May 2017 be a really, really good year for all of us. 

The conclusion on 2016 brought about one more change for us, as a family. We have moved and will spend the next few days settling in. 

As controversial as this may sound, I'm happy to be out of Florida. It is beautiful, no doubt. But, yes, there is always a but!, it had way too many reptiles for my liking. They just made my life plain miserable. 
I am not one of those intrepid women who walk fearlessly when they see half a dozen lizards right in front of them, who just make a 'shoo' sound and pad on, watching in delight as the creepy, dirty little buggers scurry hither and tither. 
So, I'm happy, where I am. 

I will miss my friends though. That is the sad part about moving. This time I had a mixed up group of friends from all over India. Among them was my friend S, who is from Odisha (formerly Orissa).

My introduction to Odiya cuisine was at a potluck, in Los Angeles, a long time ago. my friend B had made this fantastic red tomato and dates chutney. I was bowled over. And now, S taught me this Amba Khatta which is equally delightful.

This khatta (or curry, if I dare call it that) is a fantastic blend of sweet and spicy with the wonderful mingling flavors of the panch phoron (5 spices) which when mixed with fluffy, piping white rice will have you wanting second and third helpings. 


Begin with making the Masala Paste:

1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/3 tsp Jeera (Cumin seeds)
3 fat cloves Garlic
Ginger, half the size of garlic.


Soak all the ingredients for about 10-15 minutes and then grind them to a fine paste.

Start with one large mango (sweet but firm to the touch, I buy mine at Aldi). Wash it well and cut into large chunks.
Add water to a saucepan, tip in the mango chunks and bring it to a boil.
Cook the mango pieces till tender.
Once cooked, strain and set aside.

In a deep sauce pan heat 2 tbsp Oil and add 1 tsp of *Panch Phoron .

Once the panch phoron seeds pop and sputter, add in the masala paste made earlier. Saute this paste on medium- low for about 5-7 minutes.

To the masala paste, add salt to taste, 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilies powder (or a blend of Kashmiri and cayenne). Do not make it spicy, it will just spoil the  overall taste.

Add the mango pieces and add 2 tsp. Sugar.

Cook until the spices and mango flavors come together, about 5-7 mins. Not exceeding 10 mins.

Serve with white rice.


I have this Panch Phoron blend I use. It is from a cook book borrowed long ago from a library and I haven't a clue which one. My apologies that I cannot link it. But I am not taking credit for what I have been only following for some years now!

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 Tbsp Fennel seeds
2 tsp Nigella Seeds
2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds ( I use black as it is the only one I usually buy)
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds

Mix the seeds and store, use as needed.


To all my friends and readers, A Very Happy New Year! 
See you in 2017. Till then, stay safe and stay happy! 
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tea and travel pains.

This Thanksgiving, I gifted myself ( yes, that is a thing) an Electric Pressure Cooker (EPC).
Everyone, and I mean everyone has been raving about the InstantPot. I was tempted. People seem to be cooking everything in this one gizmo.
After a lot of deliberation and delay and comparison I decided, I'm getting me one of these.
A bit of research and I zeroed in on this model. When I got it it was on sale for about $55, a lot cheaper than the IP with the same functionality. Win-Win.

I snagged it and started cooking, just the basic stuff.
Rice and daal.
Beans.
Soup.
Potatoes.
Rasam and Sambar.
Making vegetables ( it has a 'Sear' function)

I liked it, I would put the daal in the main pot, stack rice on the trivet and lay a plate with peeled and chopped potatoes (with a couple of tbsp water drizzled on top) set it and forget it.
I cooked beans to perfection. This was always a task for me. I used my regular Prestige cooker but almost always forgot to count the whistles and the beans would be underdone or mush. What a hassle!  But it was so easy with the EPC, I had only to adjust the  quantity to 'less' and set it on the beans mode and forget it. Perfectly cooked beans!
Then I made yogurt in it. Easy, but not necessary, in the Florida warmth and humidity.

My next experiment will be getting the dosa batter to ferment in this. And I can see the advantage of using the EPC to ferment the batter. You see, we have moved again.

Source: Google search
After a back breaking packing marathon and forgetting where I packed what (by then I was too darn tired to even care, I just know I took good care in packing my kitchen appliances), I bundled what ever remained in 4 suitcases, forced them shut and the husband and I heaved them into the rental car and drove to the airport. The heaviest suitcase contained my EPC, a small frying pan and my rolling pin. That is all I traveled with. Time to put the EPC to use.
The movers will bring the stuff in about 2 weeks, so I will have to make do with the 'make it all' gizmo and see if it is worth the hype and money I put into it.

The thing about travel (in my case, move) is, it lets you relax and unwind and most importantly, takes you away from the routine that you get sucked into.
Can you guess where I am?
My son and I love staying in a hotel. He likes it because it is a novelty to him. I like it because of the housekeeping cleaning up and making everything spic n span for me!
Advantage, free hot breakfast.
Disadvantage, no tea. I love me my chaha/ chai. Even a laid out breakfast cannot compete with a hot cup of ginger spiked tea.

Time to start testing the versatility of the EPC.


So day 1, I made tea in this with fat free milk. It was delicious!
Nailed it! Moment.
Day 2, half milk and half water. Delicious, again!


For my friends, who have purchased the EPC ( around the same time as I have and are experimenting with it), this is for you all.

In the main pot of the EPC, pour 2 cups of water and place the trivet in it.
In a small pot (image below) pour the usual combination of milk and water that you normally use.
Source: Google search

Wash a small knob of ginger.

Add sliced / crushed  ginger to the water+milk combo.

Add sugar and tea powder. (1:1:1 )

Place the pot on the trivet and close the EPC. Make sure the 'whistle' is set to 'Seal' (and NOT 'vent').

Press 'Manual' and adjust the timing to 1 minute ( press the '-'button to adjust).

Press 'Start'.

Go do what you were doing, take a shower, get ready. Tea will be ready by then.

Once the pressure goes down, open the EPC, strain the tea and enjoy.


Things to remember:

The EPC takes time to build pressure.

You will see the lines go round on the panel, that is normal.

Once the cooking time is done, the EPC will switch to 'Keep Warm ' mode.

Let the pressure go down normally (also called NPR).

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Chickpeas Pulav /Solanyacha Pulav (Pressure Cooker method)

We went into a stock and save frenzy. The news channel was on all the time, even the child did not change the channel. Hurricane Matthew was on the way. 
While it was still peaceful and calm in our city, we had to be prepared. 
The first instinct was, water, we need to stock up on that. 
Some food, that does not require cooking in case there was a power outage.The apartment has an electric stove, so there was no way we could have heated or cooked anything. 
Candles and lighters and matchsticks.
Fill up on gas.....

Everyone had the same thoughts running in their heads.
Everyone rushed around doing this and that. 
I joined in too. 
In the store I loaded my cart with fruit, water and some soda ( that would make my boys happy, it's a rare treat in this household). 
When I saw other peoples carts, I was a bit shocked, they were almost collapsing under the weight. 
A small doubt was creeping into my mind. Am I underestimating Matthew? I mean, just LOOK at that! Packets upon packets of any and every variety of chips, multiple loaves of sliced bread, bottles of PB&J, Gatorade, beans, soda, wine... no water though, oh! there was that gallon, at the bottom of the cart! 

I came home and decided, power outage or not, I need some cooked food, something that will last me a good 3-4 days. 
Things like masala poori (tikhat mithacha purya), plain poori, lemon rice and this 'Solanyacha pulav' were made and refrigerated. 
If nothing happened, I'd get a good break and I could relax and read or do something I wanted. 

We had high winds and lashing rain and the branch outside my living room window swayed dangerously banging and making me nervous. Glass shards in the carpet, oh dear God no! 

Thankfully, we were all ok. 

Pulav

I had a relaxing couple of days ( I made meals for just 2 days in case of any problem) and read 'Sita's Sister and found it enjoyable. 

This recipe was given to me a while ago by an acquaintance. I have made it a couple of times and it is finally decided to blog about it. Thank you, Pooja! 

This rice is a great one dish meal and a great lunch box option too. 
It pairs well with some pickle, yogurt and some flame toasted papad (of course deep fried papad is a superior option, but I rarely deep fry).

Typically, this pulav is made using Green Chickpeas (fresh ones, in this case), when in season or frozen, if you get them at the local Indian store, but I found the black chickpeas a good substitute. The recipe is also adaptable to making it an all-vegetable pulav and it tasted great like that too. 

Here's what you need to do,

Wash 1.5 cups Rice ( I used the katori / vaati, it is smaller than the standard measuring cup) in 3-4 changes of water. Add fresh water and set aside. I used Sona Masoori Rice.

I used frozen black chickpeas, 1 cup. Washed and set aside.

Slice 1 medium onion, lengthwise.

If you want to add vegetables chop them. I added one medium Potato (peel and large cubes) and 1 medium carrot (peel and cube).

Make the masala paste by blending to a paste: 2 tbsp. Fresh Coconut + 4-5 cloves of garlic+ 1.5 inch knob of Ginger and 1 tbsp. Cilantro

Heat 3-4 tbs oil in a pressure cooker. 

Once the oil is hot, add 1 tsp Mustard seeds , as they pop, add 1 tsp Cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp Asafetida, few curry leaves and 1 Bay Leaf.

Add the sliced onion and cook until golden brown and cooked through.

One the onion is cooked, add in the masala paste along with 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder, 1 heaped tsp.  Garam Masala (I use Rajwadi Garam Masala) and 2 tsp Coriander seed powder.

Reduce the heat and cook the mixture till oil separates from the sides of the mixture.

On another burner set 4 cups of water to boil. 

To the pressure cooker, add the green /brown chickpeas and other vegetables, some salt and mix very well and ensure that the vegetables are coated with the spice mix.

Cover and cook for a minute.

Drain all the water and now add the rice, mix well ensuring that the rice is also well coated with the spices.

Add the hot water and some more salt to taste. 

Close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles.Switch off the heat.

Let the pressure subside naturally.

Garnish with fresh and finely chopped cilantro and serve.

Pulav lunchbox option

Notes:

- Use Basmati Rice or Ambe Mohar (if you can get it) instead of Sona Masoori

-Use vegetables like cauliflower, beans, peas.

-Substitute brown chana (as I have) with  garbanzo beans, fresh green chickpeas. red kidney beans.

-This is a mild but very flavorful pulav.

-Lightly roasting and then powdering the coriander seed (sabut dhania) makes the pulav even more flavorful.


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