Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shades of Gray + Banana Blossoms Pakoda/Pakora

Day7of BM#10: I am very emotional today. Emotional, bleak, hopeless and utterly bereft.Color me Gray-Thundercloud Gray.. Tornado Funnel Gray.. Gloomy Day Gray. Here is why -
Today, a few minutes before noon, a half-an-hour before lunch -- I get a phone call from my buddy. I didn't pick up the first time. She gives me a buzz again. As I pick up my cell to attend her call,I was wondering why someone who is at work seemed so intent on reaching me..There was a reason.She then dropped a bomb on me -- That our closest friend's toddler is dead.  A million questions arise on my mind- What? Who? When? Why? Why god why? Hell no..NO NO NO NO..She couldn't have lost her precious son..a son for whom she almost knocked at death's door delivering him to the world. A child who was her hope for a "brighter tomorrow"..I was in a complete daze. I continued work like an automaton while my mind was wondering if I heard it right. When my brain finally unfroze a multitude of emotions assault me.. brutally!!!

First came the anger - Anger at the gods, the unfairness and the way my buddy was dealt with such a cruel cruel blow.The kind of anger that makes one shaky like a leaf caught at crosswinds... an anger that makes every nerve of a being twitch uncontrollably. Second came the hatred -- Hatred, intense yet a "fleeting" hatred at the buddy who delivered me the news-she who burst the perfect bubble of mine called "Sweet November, Post Thanksgiving"- the harbinger of melancholy that soon followed . Next came the tears, like a dam burst. I ordered my brain to control keep it in check until lunch break and then lose it. Cause at work, emotions don't come to play.

Lunchtime came and I headed to the restroom. I gave in to what my heart and mind wanted.. seek comfort by shedding tears. Then I took a walk. The cold and crisp air kissing my face was a poor poor consolation. But it composed and calmed the turmoil that was running rife inside of me and I went back to work. Evening came and grief promptly descended on me with its swift wings. I was a big I drove back home, I was cursing the fate for messing with the order of things -- parents losing a child is a big NO NO. Just thinking of what my friend must be going through was enough to break my heart anew.

Lastly came acceptance -- Acceptance that the pattern in the fabric of our life is intricately woven by a much higher power and things don't always happen in a favorable way.Especially for us mere mortals who are at the receiving end.But I tell you that I do come to that conclusion with a bleeding heart. A heart that sincerely wishes for a safe deliverance of the precious and innocent little soul, snatched wayyy before it had a chance to flourish and take root, into the safe hands of the Almighty. A heart that prays to God to give strength and courage to my friend and her family to overcome this unimaginable loss. Lil S, Rest in Peace. 

Please love your family like there is no tomorrow..especially the kids, cause they are the real asset to the parents, a true apple of one's eye(s).

I wasn't in the mood to blog as it was the last thing on my mind but this was already ready in the draft and I wanted to pour my emotions somewhere that were like a bubbling cauldron inside of me -

Anyways here is what I made for BM#10:
On a lighter note - Way7 To Maintain A Healthy Level of Insanity (and a bonus):
  • When Leaving The Zoo, Start Running Towards The Parking Lot, Yelling "Run For Your Lives, They're Loose!!"
  • Tell Your Children Over Dinner. "Due To The Economy, We Are Going To Have To Let One Of You Go."
  • 1 Cup Split Chickpea/Bengal Gram, soaked for 3-4 hours prior to grinding
  • 3/4 Cup Cleaned Banana Blossoms
  • 2-3 Medium Garlic Cloves
  • ¼ inch Ginger, peeled
  • ½ Cup Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Mint, finely chopped
  • 2 Stalks Curry Leaves, finely chopped
  • 6-7 or less/more Green Chili, finely sliced
  • 1/4 Tsp Fennel Seeds, roughly ground
  • Salt for taste
  • Vegtable Oil for deep frying
Learn how to clean the Banana Blossoms here.

  • Soak the split chick pea in little water along with garlic cloves and ginger.Grind to a coarse/gritty paste without water.
  • Soak the cleaned Banana Blossoms in little Buttermilk and Water mixture. This delays the discoloration of the blossoms. Completely drain it of moisture and add it to a bowl.
  • Add the drained banana blossoms, ground split chickpea, finely chopped cilantro, mint, chilies, fennel seeds and salt.
  • Combine all of them together. Heat the oil in a wok/kadai/dutch oven.
  • Drop small lumps of the mixture into the hot oil using hands.
  • Deep fry until its light brown.
  • Drain the Pakora/Pakoda on a paper-towel lined plate.
  • Move it to a serving bowl and have it as a snack or appetizer.
    Similar Recipes @PGKC, FYI -

    Banana Blossoms Fritters:
    Cabbage Pakora/Pakoda:

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Pan Fried Masala Salmon

    Day6 of BM#10: I love Salmon not just for its Omega-3 Fatty acids but also because it is so flavorful. Doesn't need much in the way of seasoning, isn't it?? All I have to do is just pan fry with little salt and pepper and its heavenly. But once in a while I like going overboard with the Masala. This is one such attempt! Don't be frightened by the color. Its the Kasmiri Chili powder that imparted such a color to the fish. I have used both the regular and kashmiri chili powder.

    One can totally skip the K.Powder if it hurts the eye.

    Way6 To Maintain A Healthy Level of Insanity: When The Money Comes Out The ATM, Scream "I Won! I Won!" LoL, LoL

    • 3-4 Palm-sized Salmon Fillets
    • 1/2 Small Red Onion
    • 1/2 Small Tomato
    • 2 Tbsp thick Tamarind pulp (Yea, get the crap out of that Tamarind. Squeeze it dry!)
    • 1-1/2 Tbsp Kashmiri Chili Powder (very mild, I opted this mostly for the color it would impart)
    • 1 Tsp or less/more Pure Chili Powder
    • 1 Tsp Cornstarch
    • Salt for taste
    • Olive Oil for pan-frying the Salmon
    • Thaw the frozen salmon in cold water for 10-15 minutes.
    • Cut the onion and tomato into chunks.Puree it in the blender.Don't add water. The thicker the paste the better chance it has to adhere to the fish.
    • Add the pureed mixture and the tamarind pulp to a shallow bowl.
    • Add the chili powder, kashmiri chili powder and salt.
    • Lastly add a tsp of cornstarch.Sprinkle salt and check for taste. The marinade should be "spicy hot"! But the salmon doesn't absorb all the heat. The cooked fillets have a milder taste.
    • Clean the salmon fillets and pat it dry.
    • Cut it into smaller rectangles/squares.
    • Add them to bowl and coat the pieces with the masala.
    • Cling wrap the bowl and Freeze, NOT refrigerate the pieces for 15-20 minutes.
    • Add little Oil to a wide shallow saute pan and shallow fry the pieces 3 minutes per side until you see brown spots on the top. Partly raw masala coating doesn't taste good! Do this in batches and don't crowd the pan. This will delay the frying/crisping time

    • Transfer to a plate.Repeat the above step for the remaining batch.

    Old is Gold: Most of you may not remember this Salmon Cakes With Spinach and Craisins. I love to eat them that way too.

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Downeast "Maine" Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

    Day5 of BM#10: This has been sitting in the draft for months..I think I made it sometime in March when we had just bid adios to winter but not yet to the chill weather. The flowers had just begun to bloom and I was raring to pack off my thick winter jackets and snow boots. One weekend I had gone to my sister's place to meet her and my parents. I didn't want to go empty handed. So I made two of this wonderful loaves. I had taken plenty of pictures and had completely forgotten about it. Since Pumpkin is available in abundance during the Fall and Winter seasons, this can be made in the Winter too. The fact that this had a generous addition of Pumpkin Spice and All-spice makes it winter-appropriate!.

    Oh, I simply adore the color of this quick bread. Don't you? The taste was out of this world! My sister took half a loaf to her workplace and they were suggesting to her that I should open a bake shop. I swear I am not making this up. While I accepted their compliments(via my sister) gracefully, I felt that was a bit of an exaggeration. He He..I love to bake but my baking skills have a long long way to go if I am to think along those lines. But thankfully I don't envision opening a baking shop anytime in the future. I will leave that to the serious and passionate bakers. The only time I would think of stepping into a bakeshop is when I would want my sweet-tooth addressed with some seriously fancy desserts. (Base recipe was from Yummly).

    Sprintime at my Sister's place-
    Way5 To Maintain A Healthy Level of Insanity: Put Mosquito Netting Around Your Work Area And Play Tropical Sounds All Day. ;-)

    Ingredients (For TWO 9X5 inch Loaves):
    • 3-1/2 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    • 1-3/4 Cups Pumpkin Puree (made from scratch)
    • 1-1/4 Cups Nestle Toll-house Semi-sweet Chocolate morsels (mini chocolate chips)
    • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
    • 1 Stick Butter, melted and cooled
    • 1/3 Cup Water
    • 2-1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
    • 2 Tsp Baking Soda
    • 4 Large Eggs
    • 1 Tsp Salt
    • 1 Tsp Pumpkin Spice
    • 1/2 Tsp All-spice
    • Cut and cook/pressure cook the pumpkin with very little water until they are fork tender.
    • Important: Drain the water and then puree the cooked chunks until it is smooth and chunk-free.
    • Combine the sugar and the eggs in a wide bowl.
    • Pour the melted butter,oil, water,both the spice powders and salt. Beat it on medium speed until well combined.
    • Pour the  pumpkin puree and mix until combined.
    • Sift the flour along with baking soda. Add this sifted flour in batches to the bowl and gently mix. Throw in mini chocolate chips.
    • Stir the chocolate morsels into the batter.
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 9 X 5" loaf pans with aluminum foil and lightly grease it with oil..
    • Bake for 45- 50 minutes or until the toothpick inserted into the center comes clean..
    • Cool and cut the loaf into thick slices. Have it with a warm cup of coffee or tea.

    Makes TWO 9 X 5 inch Loaves

    • If you have some leftover pumpkin puree, you can freeze it for a few months. Else you can substitute this puree for the Squash Puree in making Pumpkin Pancakes. The picture below is a Butternut Squash Pancake recipe I posted sometime ago.

    Paneer and Veggie Kofta Curry

    Day4 of BM#10: This Paneer + Red Cabbage + Zucchini (plus couple more Veggie) Kofta is a dish that was borne out of my wild wild imagination..Do I see someone rolling their eyes?? To answer your unasked question -- Well ofcourse Kofta has been around for quite some time. Certainly I didn't invent that dish. What I meant was this version is totally my brain child! It was exceptionally good too! That too for a first try - that never happens to me! I usually muck-up things the first time around..sometimes even the second time. So it was no wonder that I was a happy camper that day!Making this dish is a  cumbersome process but very doable!

    My MIL asked for the recipe. I mean, I am the one that is always badgering her for new recipes..not the other way round. She asking for the recipe is something akin to a "standing ovation".

    Way4 To Maintain A Healthy Level of Insanity: Ask People What Species They Are. Laugh Hysterically After They Answer. ;-)

    • 4 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled
    • 2 Large Carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
    • 1 Medium Zucchini, cut into chunks
    • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage, diced
    • 2 Cups Crumbled Paneer
    • 1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
    • 1 Tbsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
    • 1 Tsp Garam Masala
    • 2 Tbsp Ghee/Clarified Butter
    • 2 Slices White Bread, crumbed
    • Oil for shallow-frying the Kofta Balls
    • Olive Oil for cooking
    For the Masala Paste:
    • 1 Large Yellow Onion, peeled and cut into slices
    • A handful of Cashews
    • 6-7 Hot Green Chilies
    For the Sauce:
    • 6 Roma Tomatoes, Very Ripe, seeds removed and pureed
    • 1 Cup Water
    • 1 Cup Whole milk
    • 1/2 Tsp Garam Masala
    • 1-1/2 Tsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves/ Kasuri Methi, crushed
    For garnish:
    • Chopped Cilantro Leaves
    • A few Tbsp shredded Mozzarella cheese
    • Aebleskiver Pan or Paniyaram Pan
    • Bring the cut carrot, Red cabbage to a boil in a small pan with water barely covering it.
    • Once the carrot and cabbage is 20% cooked, add the cut Zucchini and Potatoes(this is added at a later stage cause it cooksfaster). Add water to barely cover it and cook.
    • Once the vegetables are 80% cooked, switch off stove and let it cool.Use a masher to roughly mash the vegetables.
    • Crumble the Paneer and set aside 2 Cups to be used in the recipe.
    • Add the crumbled Paneer to the mashed vegetables.
    • Throw in the crumbed white bread.
    • Add the Red chili powder, cumin seeds, garam masala and salt. Mix it all with hands so the spice and salt are evenly combined.
    • Divide the portion into 23-24 even-sized balls. The balls should neither be too hard nor too soft. They should be just hard enoughto hold together without disintegrating. They should be roughly the size of a small Lime.
    • Add a few drops of Oil into the wells of the Aebleskiver/Paniyaram Pan and drop the Kofta balls into the wells..
    • Brown the Kofta balls all around on low-medium flame.Should take about 3-4 minutes per batch.
    • Repeat the same for the remaining balls and let them rest on paper-towel lined plate.
    • Puree the tomatoes and keep it aside.
    • Make the masala paste: In a shallow wide pan, add a tbsp or 2 of Olive Oil and fry the onions along with the hot green chili and cashews.
    • Make the sauce for the Kofta Balls: In a shallow wide pan, warm 4 tbsp of Oil and 2 tbsp of ghee/clarified butter. Add the cloves, cardamom and bay leaf. Pour the tomato puree and bring to a boil. 5-6 minutes later add the ground masala paste.
    • Stir and continue to cook for 6-8more minutes.Just before dropping the Kofta Balls, add crushed dried fenugreek leaves(to crush the fenugreek leaves, add them to your left palm and crush it with both palms of your hands) and garam masala. Additionally, pour 1 Cup water and 1 Cup Milk to the pan.Sprinkle salt and check for taste.
    • Drop the Kofta balls into the sauce gently and cook an additional 10-12 minutes with lid closed.Once the Kofta balls are added,the sauce begins to thicken again. Switch off the stove.
    • Move the Kofta balls and gravy to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with finely cut Cilantro leaves and shredded mozzarella cheese.Enjoy it with warm and soft Naan/Roti
    Makes 24 Kofta Balls.