Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Malabar Lasagna (With Whole Wheat, Red Millet and All-Purpose Flour ) "Chatti Pathiri"

Did you guys see the movie Inception? Christopher Nolan is amazing! Well, he is a bloody genius! Levels and levels of dreamy deception for an inception.. The first 10 minutes I neither understood head nor tail of it but soon-after comprehension dawned on me. The last scene of a "seemingly endless spinning totem" made me wonder if I was in a dream where I was looking into someone else's vivid dream - a complex dream with layers,levels and deceptive depths.I haven't sent back my DVD to Netflix yet cause I am planning on watching again with my dad who is coming over for a visit this weekend. Here is a nice flowchart for the Inception dream levels for anyone who is confused and would like to get some clarification on the movie.

While we are still on the topic of "levels, layers and depths", I have to tell you that I made this layered Malabar Lasagna called "Chatti Pathiri"  after coming to know about it from one of my favorite blogger buddy Ria who blogs at  "Ria's Collection" which has an awesome collection of cakes, bakes and splendid pictures to back-up every post. In her version she has used meat filling and the layers are made with All-purpose flour.I have modified it to my liking but still very much stayed true to the original recipe.The result is a stunning dish with layers and layers of complex flavor from the boiled sweet potato, roasted veggies that are beautifully sandwiched by melt-in-your-mouth crepes. Ahh wonderful! Sending this as an entry to Kerala Kitchen's Challenge.
My Son's Portion-
For the Crepes(Makes 11-12 Crepes):
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Red Millet Flour "Ragi Flour"
  • 1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Egg, whisked 
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2-1/2 Cups Water to make a smooth batter
For the Filling:
  • 3 Medium Sweet Potatoes, boiled and roughly smashed (Crumble with hands)
  • 1/2 Head of Medium Cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3 Medium Carrots, peeled and cut to 1/4" thickness at an angle
  • 2 Cups Spinach, packed 
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Large yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Cracked Black Pepper
  • Chili powder as needed
  • Salt as needed
For the Assembly:
  • 1/2 Cup Thick Canned Coconut Milk
  • 1 Cup 2% Milk (You may use whole)
  • 3 Tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 8" Non-stick pan/Griddle/Dosa Tava
  • 8-9" Cake Pan
  • A Wide and Shallow Dish 
  • Roast the cauliflower florets and cut carrots in a 400F oven for 20 minutes by placing them in a single layer in a oven proof dish/sheet with 2 Tsp Olive Oil, a dash of salt and cracked pepper.
  • It should look something like this 20 minutes later. Let it cool before coarsely crumbling in a blender/food processor by hitting the "Pulse" button a few times.
  • In a pan heat 2 tsp of oil, add the minced garlic and the chopped onions along with turmeric powder.
  • Add the smashed sweet potatoes, pulsed "roasted carrots and cauliflowers" along with from chili powder(if using), cracked pepper and salt. Stir gently and check for taste.
  • Thoroughly clean the 2 Cups of Spinach, drain it completely of water and roughly chop it. Add the chopped spinach to the pan and stir gently to incorporate. Cool the filling.
  • Sift all the flour together using a fine-meshed sieve.
  • Make a batter with water and add the whisked egg. Stir with a whisk or ladle to make a smooth batter.
  • Using a ladle pour about 5-6 tbsp of batter onto a griddle/pan/tava and spread it to a thin crepe. DO NOT GREASE the pan as the batter won't spread evenly. Use a "dome-style lid" like I used in this post to cover and cook ONLY on one side. Do NOT flip.
  • Quickly repeat the same for the remaining batter and layer the crepes on a wide sheet to avoid sticking.
  • Mix the coconut milk, milk and chopped cilantro in a wide and shallow dish. The crepes will be dipped in this mixture before being layered in the cake pan.
  • Dip a crepe in the milk-cilantro mixture on both side real quick with no more than "1 second dipping time per side". Over-dipping will make it soggy and the crepes might start falling apart.
  • Grease the cake pan and place a dipped crepe "cooked-side" down.
  • Divide the filling into 11 equal portions if you have 12 crepes or 10 equal portions for 11 crepes. Smear a portion of the filling on the crepe gently. Layer it with another dipped crepe "cooked-side" up and repeat the same. As you keep layering gently press the layers down with an wide angled-spatula so they are even all around. The very last crepe should be placed "cooked-side" down.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Loosely cover the cake pan with aluminum foil,else the top layer "might" stick to the foil.Bake for 20 minutes in an 350F oven.
  • Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes or so. Take off the foil and flip the "Malabar Lasagna" carefully on to a plate. Cut and serve. Leftover portions should be refrigerated promptly.
Serves 4-5 people.

  • The crepes can be slightly bigger than the cake-pan size. Overlapping is fine and can create a "single closed layer" effect on the outside of the lasagna. I used a cake pan slightly larger than the crepes so I didn't get that "mesh effect".
  • The crepes can be made with just one flour- whole wheat or all-purpose. But when attempting with Red Millet Flour should be mixed with either Whole-Wheat or All-Purpose or both( like how I did in my recipe).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Slut's Spaghetti

Pasta Puttanesca/Whore's Pasta or Slut's Spaghetti, as Nigella calls is a super-easy pasta sauce that the "ladies of the night" put together from cans and leftovers in between "entertaining" gentleman callers. I got intrigued by this dish when I saw in one of Nigella's Show on the Cooking Channel sometime ago.

Almost 90% of the ingredients are from cans.As a rule I don't prefer to use canned foods except rarely evaporated milk,crushed tomatoes but for this dish, I made an exception. My hubby who came into the kitchen while I was in the midst of opening all the jars asked me if I can't make this dish with fresh ingredients. If I did I couldn't call this as Slut's Spaghetti or Could I? Sending this as an entry to Forever Nigella - Ciao Italia event hosted at Maison Cupcake.
  • 2-1/2 Cups Hunt's Canned Tomatoes
  • 5 Pieces Canned King Oscar Brisling Sardines
  • 1/4 Cup Black Pearl Pitted Black Olives
  • 5-6 Sclafani Pimento Stuffed Spanish Manzanilla Olives
  • 4 Pieces of Dole's Pineapple rings, roughly cut
  • 4 B&G Hot Cherry Peppers( or as needed) along with the Vinegar Brine from the bottle, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 Pound Colavita Whole Wheat Spaghetti
  • 1/2 Green Pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 Small Onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, roughly minced
  • 2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt as needed

    • In a steel skillet warm 3 tbsp of oil,add the minced garlic,chopped onions, sliced green peppers and sardines. Saute until the sardines are crumbled and the onions and browned.
    • Pour 2-1/2 cups of canned tomatoes and chopped hot peppers along with the vinegar brine its been soaking in. Sprinkle very little salt and lid the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, salt a huge pot of water and bring to a roiling boil.Add the pasta and cook till "Al Dente"
    • Add the olives and pineapple to the skillet and stir gently. Check for salt before throwing in the pasta.

    • Serve hot and watch it disappear.
    • The Pimento stuffed olives are extremely salty. So go easy on the salt.
    • When adding the hot peppers make sure to add the vinegar brine to the sauce. It adds a unique taste to the sauce.
    • For a completely vegetarian option skip the sardines.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Fenugreek Spiced Tamarind Gravy "Venthaya Kuzhambhu"

    A few weeks ago everyone in the family fell sick. First it started off with my son feeling sickly, thanks to the germs he picked up from the daycare. Then hubby got sick quickly followed by me. My son coughed right into my eye and my eyes got it too. It was horrible.Initially I thought it was pink eye and then the doctor clarified that it wasn't. My son's goop was traveling places. :). Gross, I know! I think it was the worst flu strain cause besides the usual symptoms, my mouth was feeling extremely dry and everything tasted like mud.FYI, I have eaten mud and bricks when I was young. So I know what I am talking about. The only best part of that sickness was that I actually lost a few pounds due to frequently skipping meals. I mean, who wants to eat anything that tasted like mud,right?(Well, I guess I didn't feel that way when I was really young).Anyways, I remembered that mom always tells me to eat something hot and tangy to delight my taste buds. So I made this "Venthaya Kuzhambhu" and ate it with such gusto that the food vanished from the plate in a blink of an eye.And I was ready for seconds.

    I know the photo looks fancy and all but its eaten best when the rice and gravy/kuzhambhu are combined/mashed with hands and eaten like so. With Chips on the side. Oh yeah!

    • 1 Small Onion
    • 1 Small Tomato
    • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder
    • 1/2 Tsp Mustard seeds
    • Golf-ball size Tamarind, soaked in 1/2 Cup warm water for 10-15 minutes
    • Salt as needed
    • 1 Stalk Curry Leaves, Optional but highly desired
    • 2-3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
    For Making the Ground Masala:
    • 3 Tbsp Red Lentils
    • 1/2 Tsp Cumin seeds
    • 4-5 Tbsp Fresh or Frozen Grated Coconut
    • 1 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
    • 1 Tbsp Fenugreek Seeds
    • 3-5 Dry Red Chili

      • In a pan, heat about 2 tsp oil and brown the red lentils. When they start turning lightly brown add the cumin, fenugreek, red chilies and saute for a minute more. Switch off the stove and add the grated coconut and stir to combine. Cool and grind to a smooth paste with little water.
      • Heat the remaining oil in a pan/kadai and add the dry mustard seeds. When they start sputtering, throw in the onions and curry leaves(if using). Saute until the onion is translucent.
      • Add the turmeric powder, chopped tomato and fry till the tomato loses raw smell.Extract a thick pulp from the soaked tamarind.
      • Pour the extracted tamarind pulp along with salt.
      • Add the ground masala along with some water and slowly stir to combine.
      • Lid the Kadai and bring it to a boil on a medium flame for 10 minutes or so. The gravy/kuzhambhu should look something like this-
      • Serve with piping hot rice and chips.



      Tuesday, March 22, 2011

      Homemade Chocolate-Blueberry Belgian Waffles with "Presto Flipside" Waffle Maker

      A few weeks ago I bought this Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker from CSN Stores to try my hand at making homemade waffles.My son has been looking forward to home-made waffles ever since this package arrived at our doorstep.I am so happy with the purchase because this waffle maker makes some awesome thick Belgian Waffles that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside..just how a nice waffle is supposed to taste like. I used the same Krusteaz Pancake mix that I used for making my Butternut Squash Pancakes that I posted a couple of weeks ago but jazzed up the batter with some Dutch processed Cocoa Powder and frozen blueberries. And I topped my perfectly perfect pancake with cut-up banana, strawberries,blueberries and of-course a healthy drizzle of maple syrup. Yum-O!

      Ingredients(For 3 Scrumptious Belgian Waffles):
      • 2 Cups Kruteaz Pancake Mix
      • 1-1/2 Cups + 2 Tbsp Skimmed Milk
      • 3 Tbsp Granulated Sugar (Add 1 Tbsp more if you like it really sweet)
      • 3-4 Tbsp Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder
      • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
      • 2/3 Cup Frozen Blueberries
      • Preheat the Waffle-maker for about 5 minutes.
      • Make the batter by mixing all the ingredients and stir enough to combine. Its okay if the batter is lumpy. Let it sit for about 5 minutes or so.Pour them into a measuring cup/batter bowl or any bowl that has a spout to conveniently dispense the batter.
      • Grease the insides of the waffle-maker with a oil dipped paper and pour about 3/4th of a cup of batter.
      • Close the lid and set the timer for 4 minutes.
      • Now flip the handle from right to left.
      • Cook the waffle for 4 minutes. The timer will beep when the time is up. There will be steam arising from the sides which pretty much stops around 4 minutes..If steaming hasn't stopped continue to cook for half minute - minute more.
      • Open lid and be ready to clap eyes on a perfect homemade waffle. Those purplish stains on the waffle are the nothing but blueberry stains. 
      • Use a steak knife to loosen the edges and lift the waffles.
      • Repeat the above steps for the remaining batter. Batter should be sufficient to make 2 more.
      • Top the warm waffles with choice of fruits and a healthy drizzle of maple syrup.
      Nothing beats homemade waffles.So what are you waiting for? Hurry up and get yourself one from CSN Stores that has a wide selection of Waffle-makers.