Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banana Cake

Use this recipe for a moist, delicious banana cake or banana bread.  This will make one bundt cake or 4 mini loaves of banana bread. 

1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
4 well ripened bananas (preferably with black spotted peel), roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped dates OR chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3/4 cup yogurt (or sour cream)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350F.   Grease a bundt cake pan with oil or butter, then dust the pan with flour.  Set aside. (Alternately, prepare 4 mini loaf pans, muffin pan or cake pan.) 

Beat together the butter and sugar, until well combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Stir in the bananas, dates and walnuts, and yogurt.

In another bowl stir together until well combined the flour, baking soda and salt. 

Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until well combined.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes.  Remove from oven, slightly cool then remove from pan and place on a cooling rack.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beetroot Fry

I was pleasantly surprised how yummy this was. :)

1 tablespoon oil
10 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon urad dal (optional)
1/2 teaspoon chana dalia (optional)
1 green chile, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
3 beet roots, ends cut off and grated
1/4 cup grated coconut
Heat oil in a frying pan, add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal and chana dalia.  When the mustard seeds pop add the green chile and onions.  Saute until browned and add the grated beet root.  Stir well, then turn the heat to low and put a lid on the pan.  Cook for 7-10 minutes or until the beet root is softened.  Take the lid off, stir in the coconut and salt (to taste), and stir fry for about 3 minutes over medium heat, or until any excess moisture evaporates. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Twisted Garlic Breadsticks

I love the cool weather fall brings to mind my favorite soups simmering on the stove and fresh bread baking in the oven.  (Things I try to avoid in a hot summer kitchen.)  In celebration of the season...

1 cup warm water
3 teaspoons yeast
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon softened butter
1 clove garlic, minced
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Mix together the water, yeast and sugar.  When the yeast starts to bubble add the oil and salt. Stir well then add flour.  Knead on a floured board for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Allow to rise in a warm place (i.e. oven with the oven light on) until it doubles in size.  Roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch in thickness.  Spread the butter over the rectangle and sprinkle with garlic and Parmesan cheese.  Make 10 cuts across the rectangle, horizontally.  Take one strip, put the ends together and twist it.  Lay on a greased baking sheet.  Repeat.  (You should have 10 breadsticks.)  Cover and allow to rise for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until bottom of breadstick is golden brown.  When it is done, remove from oven and, optionally, rub the top with butter.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


As chicken noodle soup is to the American, so is rasam to the Indian.  This broth is served over rice or eaten plain as a "soup".  It is sour and spicy, guaranteed to clear your sinuses.  Reduce pepper and rasam powder as necessary!

1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 whole red chilis
10 curry leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tomato, chopped
6 cups of water
1 teaspoon tamarind paste concentrate
3 teaspoons rasam powder **
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil.  Add mustard, cumin, fenugreek, red chilis and curry leaves.  When mustard seeds "pop" add the garlic.  Saute for a minute then add tomato.  Saute until tomato breaks down into a paste and add water.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, stir into tamarind paste, rasam powder, black pepper, cilantro and salt, to taste.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, until flavors are combined.

**No rasam powder?  Substitute 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.



Pal payasam (milk payasam) with semiya and javvarisi.  Payasam is similar to rice pudding and can be served hot, lukewarm or cold. It is also known as kheer in other parts of India.

1/4 cup small tapioca (sabudana, javvarisi) pearls, soaked in water for 1 hour
1/2 cup vermicelli (semiya, in 1/2 inch long pieces)
6 cups whole milk
6 cardamom pods, crushed
1 teaspoon butter or ghee
1/4 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons raw cashew pieces (alternately, use pistachios or almonds)
1/2 cup sugar

Place soaked tapioca pearls in a large sauce pan.  Add milk and cardamom pods and simmer on medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes.  (If I am making a large batch I may simmer the milk for 60 minutes).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a shallow frying pan.  To this add the cashews and raisins and saute until cashews are golden brown.  Scoop the cashews and raisins out of the pan, leaving the melted butter.  Add the vermicelli to this and saute/dry roast until they turn golden brown and immediately remove from heat. 

When the tapioca pearls are cooked through, add the vermicelli, raisins, and cashews and simmer until the vermicelli is cooked.  Stir in the sugar and adjust per your taste.

The payasam will thicken as it cools.  If you prefer more liquid, stir in milk and/or cream, per your taste.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chicken Fry

This is a basic marinade I use if I want to pan fry chunks of chicken breast or grill chicken breast for a spicy and flavorful Indian style chicken sandwich.  The Indian style chicken sandwich is becoming a beloved classic at Global Harvest Church camps/picnics thanks to Victor's marinating skills! Serve on a bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, freshly sliced jalapenos and a slice of pepper jack cheese for fire-in-your-mouth!  My mouth waters just thinking about it...

As in all my recipes, if you have a low tolerance for spice, please cut back the chili powder and pepper accordingly.

3 chicken breasts, cut into pieces (1" cubes for pan fry, palm size pieces for sandwich)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sambal oelek sauce (chili garlic paste) - the secret ingredient!

Thoroughly rub all ingredients into the chicken pieces and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours - overnight is better! 

If grilling, oil the grill grate and preheat the grill.  It will take about 10-15 minutes to grill a palm size piece of chicken breast, turning it over halfway through. 

If pan frying, heat oil in a frying pan - the pan should contain about 1/4" of oil.  Shallow fry the chicken pieces for 10 minutes, turning over halfway through.  The chicken pieces should brown on both sides. 

My family's favorite way to eat chicken fry is with sambar, a vegetable fry and white rice.

Tandoori Chicken

Method adapted from "Vah-reh-vah"'s tandoori chicken.  (Thanks to friends, Anita & Victor for referencing the site!  If you haven't seen Vah Chef's videos, you have got to check it out.  He is passionate - and emotional at times - about food!  At times I don't find the recipes accurate, but the videos are helpful.

All that to say . . . tandoori chicken.  So, this recipe omits the "red dye" that is used to get classic tandoori chicken look.  A typical recipe will use this red dye (similar to link above, but the red variety, not orange), but for health reasons, it's better to avoid it.  Paprika may be used to achieve a similar color, but personally, I don't like the taste. 

8 chicken legs (drumsticks)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste

Make 3 long slits into each drumstick, deep into the flesh.  Rub the lemon juice, chili powder and salt into the chicken, making sure to go into each of the slits.  Marinate for up to 2 hours.

Mix together the yogurt, coriander, cumin, black pepper, garam masala, turmeric and ginger garlic paste until smooth.  Thoroughly rub into the drumsticks.  Marinate for up to 8 hours.

To cook, choose one method:

1.  Grill.  Oil the grill grate well, then turn on the grill.  When it is hot, place the chicken on it.  Sear the meat by browning on all sides, then move away from direct flame to finish cooking.  It will take about 25-30 minutes depending on the size of the drumsticks.

2.  Bake.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Oil a glass baking pan (lining it with aluminium foil will eliminate difficulty in cleaning the dish later), and place the chicken in it.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  You will need to drain the juice that collects at the bottom of the pan as needed as it bakes.

Optional garnish: when the chicken is done, garnish with onions, roughly chopped cilantro leaves and lime wedges.  Also can sprinkle on chat masala.

Vegetable Biryani

Vegetable biryani for a crowd, rice cooker method.  (This would serve 10-12 people.  For a family of four I would cut the recipe in half and plan on having leftovers.)
1 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
6 cardamom pods
2 star anise seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 cups sliced onions
5 green chiles, sliced lengthwise
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
2 teaspoon fennel powder
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans and corn)
½ cup loosely packed chopped mint
½ cup loosely packed chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup yogurt (can substitute coconut milk for a variation)
7 cups water
5 teaspoons salt
5 cups basmati rice

Heat the oil and butter in large frying pan until the butter is melted.  Add bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise, fennel and black peppercorns.  Saute for about a minute, then add the sliced onions and green chiles.  Stir fry over medium-high heat until the onions begin to turn brown in color (about 7-10 minutes).  Add the ginger garlic paste and stir fry for a minute.  Add the tomatoes and stir fry until the tomatoes are softened (another 7-10 minutes.)  Add the fennel, coriander, chili and turmeric powders, cilantro and mint leaves and stir until combined.  Add the frozen mixed vegetables and stir well.  Switch off heat.  Put the rice in the rice cooker vessel and add the vegetable mixture.  In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt with 1 cup of water until it is smooth.  Pour into the rice cooker along with remaining 6 cups of water.  Stir well, close lid and turn the rice cooker on.  When the cycle comes to an end immediately spoon the rice into a flat serving tray (i.e. 9x13 pan).  This will keep the rice fluffy and prevent breaking the grains. (If you leave it in the cooker it will compress and dry out).

Serve with: raita (yogurt salad), hard boiled eggs, any curry or kurma. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Indian Pantry Essentials

After a conversation with my sister Janna, wherein she was surprised I don't use curry powder, I've put together a list of pantry essentials I personally recommend for Indian cooking. :) 

Coriander powder
Turmeric powder
Pure red chili powder (an acceptable substitute is cayenne pepper)
Garam masala powder
Mustard seeds (black)
Cumin seeds
Fennel seeds
Cinnamon stick (whole)
Cloves (whole)
Green cardamom pods (whole)
Star anise (whole)
Bay leaves (whole cassia leaves)
Black peppercorn (whole and ground)
Red chiles (dried, whole)
Toor dal (yellow split peas)
Masoor dal (red/pink lentils)
Basmati rice