Monday, January 29, 2007

BPW - When Virtual World meets the Real World

Participating in the Blogger Postcards Around The World #2 for the first time is turning out to be a nice roller coaster of emotions for me!

The first stage is called Enthusiasm where I decided to sign in as soon as I saw the announcement .

The second stage is called Confusion - Nothing but confusion. For starters, I am never good at making up my mind when I am provided with a variety of choices and this time I just had one too many. When it comes to cards and gifts I like to add a personal touch ( after all who doesn't :) ). But the problem is I didn't have much time last week and I didn't want to make something in a hurry. This made us ( yes, I pulled my DH along) to got a shop and hunt for postcards...there were some pretty postcards, but none matching the Valentine's theme... so we hopped from shop to shop in search of "the card" and finally gave up the search when we felt the rumbling of the stomach,pleading us to feed something...

The next stage was Panic -It was the day to mail the post cards and I had not even got the postcard! Breaking my head for about half a day, I came up with an idea at laaaast that seemed just perfect...

This stage is called Finally when I decided to create a photo postcard. After choosing the picture of pizza I had made recently, I designed it into a postcard. Though pizza card might seem a silly idea, I thought it would add the personal touch I hoped to create. Thus I finnnnaly finished creating and mailing the card, hoping my secret receiver would like it.



The present stage is called Anticipation where I am keeping my fingers crossed and eagerly waiting for my postcard to arrive safe and sound.

Thanks a lot Meeta for organizing this wonderful event! I am really having a great time [ as explained above ;) ] participating in it...

Ultimate Foodie at 2:24 PM

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pizza - Ready to dig in?



This is my entry to Coffee's MBP(Jan)2007 event...the new event is all about choosing and cooking dishes from fellow bloggers , this month's theme being "around the World".

I made the pizza from RP's Workhop and it turned out to be a super duper hit! Thanks RP for the recipe...

Pizza Base:
Made the pizza base following RP's method.
Variation : After kneading the dough by hand,I added 2 Tbsps of Italian seasoning and garlic salt for added flavor; then shaped it into a ball.Then allowed it to rise as mentioned by RP and then shaped it into 2 crust (instead of three as in the original recipe)

Pizza sauce:

Used the Prego traditional Italian tomato sauce.

Pizza Topping:

Here comes the fun part where I like to play, with different combinations, to my heart's content. This time I used the following toppings:

Marinated Paneer, green bell pepper,onion.


Pineapple chunks,Artichoke hearts,mushroom and Jalapeno peppers.


For marinating paneer:


Soak the following ingredients in 3/4 cup of curd for about an hour:
Paneer - 100 grams
A pinch of turmeric
Salt
Chili Powder- 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Jeera Powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala- 1/2 tsp
Ginger Garlic Paste - 3/4 tsp
Oil- 1 spoon

Baking:


Preheat the oven to 475F for at least half an hour [I religiously followed this after reading RP's warning ;) ]. Transfer the pizza to the pizza stone. Bake it for 12 - 14 minutes till the cheese melts and crust becomes a beautiful golden, watching it carefully [More than being careful,me and my DH could not wait for the pizza to come out of oven;so checked it almost once a minute :)].

Finally:

Cut the pizza into wedges using a pizza cutter [actually I didn't have the heart to cut the beautiful work of art ;) and kept admiring it for few seconds..] Enjoy the fruit of your labor with a glass of coke and good company!

Ultimate Foodie at 10:39 AM

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

PONGAL - The Harvest Festival of South India

A very happy pongal to everyone!! Wishing that this festival is one, which brings good luck and prosperity and hoping that it is joyous, and fills your days ahead with happiness.

Pongal,a traditional occasion for giving thanks to nature,celebrates the life cycles that give us grain. It heralds the hope of a new era of prosperity.

The Pongal celebrations are spread over four days.

The day before Pongal is called Bhogi.This day is celebrated in honor of Lord Indra, "the Ruler of Clouds and Giver of Rains" and is associated with spring-cleaning and burning of junk, symbolizing the destruction of evil. On the day of Bhogi, people discard their old things by making a bonfire in front of their houses early in the morning amidst the beating of drums.

Decorative designs or rangolis are traced on floors and on the Day of the Pongal newly harvested rice is cooked along with fresh milk and jaggery during an auspicious time early in the morning. The milk is allowed to boil over the vessel — this is the tradition that gives the festival of Pongal its name.As soon as the boiling is over, the cooked rice, i.e. Pongal, is offered to the Sun God.
On the third day during 'Maatu Pongal', the cattle are colorfully decorated with flowers and saffron adorning their foreheads. Their horns painted and they are fed sumptuously.




Farmers pray for the good health of the cattle so that the animals can multiply and bring prosperity. They are then taken out to the racing tracks for cattle race and bullfight (aka Jallikattu)- an event full of festivity, fun, frolic and revelry.
The fourth and final day marks the Kanya or Kaanum Pongal when the birds are worshipped. Girls prepare colored balls of cooked rice and keep them in the open for birds and fowls to eat. On this day sisters also pray for their brothers' happiness. It is also a day of picnicing and get-together.

Similar Festivals celebrated in other regions of the country:
Makar Sankranti(North Indian states of India), Lohri(Punjab),Bihu / Bohaggiyo Bhishu(Assam),Hadaga Festival(Maharashtra)

Coming soon - the recipes of pongal :)...

Photo courtesy : http://www.pongalfestival.org/

Ultimate Foodie at 11:41 AM

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Chettinad Karakozhambu - Whole Eggplants in Spicy Gravy


We, at the K's household, were craving for something hot and spicy... Arrival of an unsuspecting friend provided me the perfect excuse to cook something really spicy; after all how many days can I experiment with just one specimen ;) ??? So I went about making Yennai Kathirikai Kaarakozhambu ( Oil fried eggplants in spicy gravy)- a chettinad delicacy.

Known for its beautiful mansions, the Chettinad region in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu, boasts of one of the spiciest and the most aromatic dishes you can find in Indian cuisine. It is famous for its use of a variety of spices and the dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas - this eggplant curry being no exception.

As a child I was fortunate to be surrounded by quite a few neighbours from Chettinad. Thus,I grew up eating a lot of the tasty dishes which they kindly shared, the egglpant stew being the main attraction.

This would be my entry for Waiter, there's something in my . . . the brand new food blogging fun sponsored by Andrew, Jeanne, and Johanna.


Ingredients:

Small Asian eggplants - 5-6
Tamarind - one small lemon sized
Oil - 8 Tbsps
Salt

For Masala:
Dhania (corriander seeds) - 3 tbsp
Channa dhal - 2 tbsp
Red chillies – 4
White sesame seeds - 3/4 tbsp
Black pepper - 1/4 tbsp
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup

For gravy:
1 small red onion (finely chopped)
1 medium sized tomato (finely chopped)
1 or 2 Green chillies
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Ginger (finely chopped) - 1/2 tsp
Garlic - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp (optional)

For seasoning:
mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Asafetida – a pinch,
curry leaves and coriander leaves – few sprigs

Method:

Soak tamarind in a cup hot water for few minutes and extract juice from it.

Heat a pan and roast channa dhal,dhaniya, red chillies & sesmame seeds(without oil).

Grind the roasted spices along with grated coconut,1/4 cup tamarind extract and salt to a thick masala mix.

Make four vertical cuts in each eggplant leaving the stem intact(Cuts should be only for the 3/4 of the length of the eggplant - refer pix.)

Carefully stuff the masala mix inside the eggplant and let it marinate while preparing the gravy.

Save the remaining masala mix for use in gravy.

Heat 2 tbsps. oil in a pan and fry onion, green chilly,ginger and garlic for 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and fry till the tomato becomes pulpy. Grind this to a fine paste using blender.

Heat oil in large saucepan and add the mustard seeds.

Once the mustard starts cracking,add a little asafetida, onion-tomato puree and remaining tamarind extract (3/4 cup) and let the mixture boil for 3 minutes.

Add the saved masala mix, turmeric, salt and chilli powder and cook for 10 - 15 minutes.

While the mixture is cooking,add water as per the consistency required.This is the base gravy for the curry.

While the gravy is cooking,heat 5 tbsps of oil in a shallow pan and add the stuffed eggplant.

Close the pan with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes in medium flame

Remove the lid and fry the eggplant, turning after every 2 or 3 minutes, till done.
(While turning the eggplant, please make sure that the stuffing doesn't come out)

Once the eggplants are nicely done, add them to the gravy mix and cook about 5 minutes in low flame.

Enjoy with hot rice and papad.

Notes:

Smaller the eggplant, the better.
Be generous with the oil while frying the eggplant; less oil makes them mushy and soggy.
A bit of multitasking ( making the gravy and frying the eggplants at the same time) saves a lot of time.
To avoid a pile of vessels in the sink, reuse the same 2 pans after a slight cleansing ;)
Finally dont be put off by the seemingly long process;its actually quite simple once u start and definitely well worth a effort! So wont u try it and let me know how it turned out?

Ultimate Foodie at 1:55 PM

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