Vegetarian Chilli

'Chilli' is a hearty bowl of stew that can be made with everything but the kitchen sink. It has a variety of beans, vegetables and a medley of warm spices. Usually it also calls of some meat but very much possible to eliminate meat altogether and no one will even know! In fact this stew is so versatile it can be served with a bread of choice or rice or all by itself. This afternoon, the weather gods blessed us with more snowfall. When ever they forget the time of year and decide to bless us with snow storm(imagine it is still the middle of November), a bowl of warm Chilli soothed my soul. Coming back after clearing the snow perched on our car with numb fingers ad toes, a second serving of the Chilli brought back my pinkie toe to life!

We will need,

Kidney beans 1/4 cup
Kabuli Channa/ Garbanzo 1/4 cup
Organic cold pressed Coconut oil 2 tbsp (yeah! I found it in Costco and love it)
Garlic 3 cloves
Onion 1 medium (chopped)
Zucchini 1 small diced (organic too)
Carrots 1 small  diced (organic)
Bay leaf 1
Shitaki Mushrooms 1 pack (stalks discarded)
Button Mushrooms 1 Pack
Tomatoes 4 medium chopped
Sun dried tomatoes 2 tbsp (chopped)
Green chillies slit
Jeera powder 1 tsp
Red Chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Salt and Sugar to taste

  • If using the dried beans, soak overnight and pressure cook till soft. It can also be quick soaked. Bring the beans in plenty of water to a roaring boil and turn out the heat, sit for an hour and then pressure cook till tender. I usually cook a giant batches of beans and freeze them in multiple bags.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pot. Throw in the garlic and cook till the garlic is golden brown. 
  • Throw in the onion and saute till pale in colour. Throw in the bay leaf and green chillies, saute.
  • Throw in the zucchini, carrot and saute till they look tender. Throw in all the dry spices. Saute them till the spices are fragrant about 5-6  minutes.
  • Throw in the tomatoes and all their juices. Pick up bits at the bottom i.e de-glazing the toasted spices. 
  • Add about a cup water if the mixture is dry.
  • Once the mixture comes to a boil throw in the mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and the beans. Adjust salt and simmer till the flavours combine about 30-45 minutes. 
  • Add a generous pinch of sugar and lime juice if preferred. 
  • Serve warm with Avocados, cheese and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.
Ian  usually very creative with this one dish because it is forgiving. I add vegetables like bell peppers, spinach, kale, chard etc. In simple terms, what ever I happened to have in my refrigerator that day. Sending this as my entry to the Green Foodie event. It is heart warming that organic food movement is  taking deeper roots and people are appreciating organic way of eating. Well, it was not long  back that my own family would tell me organic is just waste of money. If I could, I did eat only what I could grow. But that is a long shot. Hopefully someday we will not miss mother nature at our dining tables.

Chiffon Cake

It is the season of baking here! Started it with Honey's birthday.Birthday cake poses a complex problem. There are so many parameters to be considered- should look good and cute, should taste good, should be tender and should be good made-ahead. I love butter cakes. They taste awesome when fresh and warm, they are sturdy and stand up well for hardy frosting-fondant etc. But they are not very good made ahead. They sort of become dry and caked up if kept in the refrigerator for a while. On the other hand, Chiffon cakes are not all that yummy or buttery but are good  made ahead and popped in the refrigerator. They remain tender for days, they to hold up to frosting and light, very light, something that does not make you cringe at the end of a heavy meal. The disadvantage of a chiffon cake is that it can be a little 'eggy' if not flavored well.
I have always loved Chiffon cakes because they are like a blank canvas, paint your mood and it will hold up. This time it was all fruits. Me and Sunny boy put together the cake. Well Sunny boy sure is not old enough to beat eggs, but he does runs around me in the kitchen as I go about the cake. He did pick a few strawberries  for me. In fact Strawberries were his idea.  He had grown very fond of them (for now, that is!).
After a long days wait, it was indeed hard to keep Sunny boy from knocking the cake down or to take a picture. I wish I had a better shot. But for now this is all I have.

We will need,
All Purpose flour 1 cup minus 1 tbsp
Corn Starch 1 tbsp
Baking powder 1/2 tbsp
Sugar 6 tbsp
Salt a pinch
Refined sunflower oil 1/4 cup
Extra large eggs 4
Orange zest 1 tsp + juice 3 tbsp
Vanilla 1 tsp

  • Pre-heat oven to 350F. Line a piece of parchment onto an 8" baking tin. Do not grease the tin.
  • Sift the flour, cornstarch and baking powder multiple times and set it aside. Stir in the sugar and salt gently.
  • Separate the eggs and beat egg whites till stiff. 
  • Mix the egg yolks, oil, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Beat till combined.
  • Stir in the wet ingredients into dry ingredients gently.
  • Fold the egg whites into flour mixture very gently. 
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake till a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean.
  • Frost the cake as desired. My favorite is the fresh whipped cream and cream cheese frosting. 
  • Decorate it with assorted fresh fruits, chocolate, nuts as desired.  

Seven cups ...may be just six cups

Seven cups is indeed a strange name for a sweet.But then what is in the name? A rose by any other  name is just as sweet. Well seven cups indeed will be utterly sweet  so we usually trim it down to six cups. This was lso a part of our Diwali platter and we all loved it so much.

We will need,

Chickpea flour 1 cup
Sugar  2 cups
Milk 1 cup
Coconut grated 1 cup
Ghee 1 cup
Cardamon 1 (seeds crushed, skin discarded)
Saffron soaked in a tsp milk

  • Grease a cookie sheet and set it aside.
  • Heat the chickpea flour in a non stick pan and toast it till fragrant. Remove from heat and allow it to cool completely.
  • Once cool, gently add the milk into the flour  a little by little and stir well, making sure that there are no lumps. Stir in all of the milk and make a paste.
  • Now stir in the sugar, coconut and the ghee. Place the mixture on a gentle heat. Cook it till the mixture leaves the side of the pan.Throw in the cardamon and the saffron.
  • Once the mixture starts to harden on the edges, pour it onto the greased sheet, spread it around and score it.
  • Once the mixture has set up, cut it and store it in an air tight box.

Godi Laadu / Whole wheat laddoo

My Diwali platter this year was a combination of  various grains. This one is made of whole wheat flour. It is surprisingly simple to make yet utterly delicious.
We will need

Whole wheat flour /chapati flour 1 cup
Ghee  about 1 cup  (more or less)
Sugar 1-1.5 cups (use the finest variety)
Cardamon 1 (shelled and the seeds crushed)

  • Heat a non-stick pan  with about 3 tbsp of ghee. Dump the flour and  toast it till fragrant about 15-20 minutes. The colour of the flour deepens a bit and the flour sort of plumps up too. More than  anything it becomes sweet and fragrant sort of like toasting nuts.
  • Remove from heat and allow it to cool slightly. Stir in the sugar,cardamon and let it cool enough to handle.
  • Now melt the remaining ghee. Make a well in the center of the flour-sugar mixture and pour in the ghee a little at a time.
  • Work the ghee into the flour. Pour more ghee  if  the flour absorbs all of it.
  • Gather some  of the mixture in your palms and form it into balls Laddoos. If it crumbles, the mixture needs more  ghee. Arrange the finished Laddoos in a single layer on a big platter. 
  • Allow  the Laddoos to air dry for a few hours and pack it in an air-tight container.

Happy Deepavali

Wishing you all a very happy, prosperous and safe Deepawali. Here is a list of  Sweets apt for the occasion.
Here is sending my virtual love to  all of you and your family.

This time around, started a new tradition of gifting home made goodies. Everything is  home made. The tray is just a regular Chinet dinner plate which I hand decorated with motifs of Rangoli, Swastika and earthen lamps.  Finally the plate is filled with sweets  like Ragi Burfi, Kajjaya, Seven cups and Godi Laddu. The recipes will be coming up later. The plate is then wrapped with festive cellophane finished with ribbons and a handmade six legged bow. Just that the photograph  did not turn up all that well. I wish I had a better photograph.

Once  again have a happy, prosperous and safe Deepavali.

Ragi Burfi

It is Deepawali time, time to share, feast and enjoy the victory of good over and evil and to acknowledge the large heart Bali Chakravarthy who will be visiting us his beloved citizens on Balipadyami. To the feasting part. I have finished preparing my Deepawali spread. This time doing something ambitious. Prepared all the goodies at home! So now they are all nicely packed and ready to go. But had planned to do this post a few days back but could not. Here we go.
My plan was to have sweets made of different grains. Kajjaya is made of rice, Wheat Laddo out of whole wheat flour, 7 cups out of chickpea flour. Decided to try something with Ragi. The Ragi halbai is very tasty but rather time consuming so was figuring out what to do. All of a sudden came an idea to combine the goodness of Ragi Halbai and Burfi, and I should confess I did not go wrong. This was the most appreciated sweet of all. Also I adds a beautiful rustic touch to the Deepawali gift platter.

We will need,

Ragi flour over 2 measures
Khoa 1measure
Sugar 3 measures
Ghee 1 measure
Whole milk 2 measures
Cardamon 2
Saffron a generous pinch
Cashew pieces to garnish

  • Grease a cookie sheet or a jelly roll tin with a little ghee and set it aside.
  • Sieve the ragi flour using a fine mesh strainer. Discard any rough bits and coarse grains. We need only the fine part of the flour. Use two measures of this fine flour.
  • Heat a non stick pan, place two tbsp of ghee in the pan and throw in the Ragi flour. Toast the Ragi flour till fragrant. It takes a while to get there. It took me almost 20 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and set it aside.
  • Grate the khoa using the finer side of the grater. It will be easier to use either chilled or frozen Khoa.
  • Combine the Khoa, toasted Ragi flour and sugar. Make a hole in the middle and pour small quantity of whole milk mixing it into the flour mixture. Make sure that there are no lumps. Stir in all of the milk to get a slurry. 
  • Place the mixture on medium heat. Pour in the ghee and cook the mixture till it leaves the side of the pan and the mixture starts to solidify on the edges. Stir in the powdered cardamon and saffron. 
  • Pour the mixture onto the prepared sheet. Spread it into about 1/4" thickness. Score the sheet into Burfi of desired size, mine area about 1" *2 "
  • Place bits of cashews on each of the Burfi. Cut them as scored once they are slightly cool but set. 
P.S: Use any container of choice to measure the ingredients. Just make sure to use the same container to measure out all the ingredients. Also vegetarian silver vark can be used to decorate the Burfi.