Bake around the world in A to Z

April is here and I am not sure where did February and March go. But April is the time of the year for our Blogging Group to take that leap of faith and blog every single day of the month except Sundays.

We call this the mega marathon and I had such an awesome time in September when I blogged about 26 different soups. Now I am all excited about blogging the entire month of April too. The rules are simple –

  • We blog about a dish everyday in alphabetical order
  • We only blog about Baked dishes
  • Not more than 2 dishes can be from the same country 

Simple na? Not at all but that is what makes it fun. Then I sat and thought how I can make it more complicated for myself? So I figured I will blog about Breads for the entire month – 26 breads from different parts of the world. Though it is driving me crazy, I am also super charged up and very excited about it all. 

Hopefully I will come out at the end of the month, bruised and battered but successful. Wish me luck and come along with us for an awesome foodventure !!

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Bhindi Masala

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I made Bhindi Masala as part of my North Indian Thali theme for this month’s Blogigng Marathon. Mixed with onion, tomatoes and spices, it is a simple and tasty way to have lady’s fingers.

Serves 3-4

Recipe adapted from here.

Lady’s fingers / Okra          250gms

Cumin seeds                           1/2 tsp

Onion, large                            1

Ginger                                       1″

Garlic cloves                            2

Coriander powder                  1 tsp

Red chilly powder                   1/2 tsp

Turmeric powder                     1/2 tsp

Garam masala                           1/2 tsp

Amchur powder                        1/2 tsp

Oil                                                   3 tbsp

Salt
WHAT TO DO

  • Wash and pat dry the lady’s fingers
  • Cut them to 1″ pieces and set aside
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil and add the lady’s fingers to it
  • Add amchur powder and salt and mix well.
  •  Cook covered tossing it at regular intervals
  • Set aside the lady’s fingers and heat 1 tbsp oil in the same pan
  • Add the cumin seeds
  • Once the cumin seeds are roasted, finely chop and add the onion
  • Once the onion is translucent, add coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilly powder, garam masala, salt and cook for a minute
  • Add the lady’s finger and mix well
  • Cook covered on simmer for 5-6 minutes
  • Serve warm with rotis
  • Enjoy!

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North Indian Thali

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As a South Indian who lived in Mumbai most of my life, I have been frequently irritated when people assumed that all South Indians were ‘Madrasis’ without understanding the significant cultural and linguistic differences between the four southern states. Later, when I moved to Chennai and then to Bangalore I realized that the reverse was also true. The average citizen in the south is also is not aware about the differences between Punjabi and Rajasthani and Bihari culture or cuisine. Everything was bracketed under ‘North Indian’ and the revenge complete ūüėČ

So my Thali for today is an assimilation of different North Indian states and what is generally called the ‘North Indian Thali’. This Thali usually has –

  • an option of chapati or poori 
  • One dal, almost always the yellow dal made with toor dal
  • One dry vegetable usually a toss between potatoes or lady’s fingers
  • One gravy vegetable, almost always a paneer dish
  • A raita. 
  • One sweet, popular choice is the Gulab Jamun
  • Rice – plain or jeera rice
  • Buttermilk – with the addition of roasted cumin powder, asafoetida and salt

The other items – Aam pana which is a raw mango coolant and kachoris, a spicy, fried snack and the sprouted green gram salad are my additions and are not usually found in this thali. 

I have the recipe for the Bhindi Masala here. Try it and enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme – Thalis.

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Bruschetta

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I made Bruschetta as part of my Italian Lunch Spread. It is quick and easy to put together and will serve well as a snack or starter of choice for unplanned guests. It is an almost no cook dish and the ingredients are usually available at home and this can help brighten up a meal by giving it that probably missing zing. Bruschetta is usually made with a baguette but I used the regular sandwich bread and topped it with tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and it turned out lip smacking if I may say so myself.

WHAT WE NEED

Sandwich Bread                                        5-6 slices

Tomatoes, medium                                 3-4

Garlic cloves, large                                 2

Vinegar                                                      1 tbsp

Butter (optional)                                    to toast the bread

Salt & Pepper

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Make a¬†small ‘x’ shaped insertion to the tomatoes with a knife
  • Immerse the tomatoes in hot water for 5-7 minutes
  • When the skin has¬†loosened up, peel the skin off, deseed and chop the tomatoes finely
  • Mince the garlic and mix it with the tomatoes
  • Add vinegar, salt and pepper and mix well and set aside
  • The bread slices need to be toasted to a crisp. It can either be toasted in a pop up toaster or on a pan
  • If you are toasting it on a pan, apply little butter and toast till each side turns golden brown
  • Then turn the gas to simmer and let the bread slices remain for a couple of minutes on the pan. This will make the slices very crisp
  • Just before serving, top the bread slices with the tomato mixture and serve
  • Enjoy!

 

Italian Lunch Spread

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Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on my blog or talking to me will know I adore all things cheese and all food Italian. I have been planning on making a full fledged Italian meal forever now but never got around to doing it. The Thali theme for this month’s Blogging Marathon finally forced my hand and I ticked an item off my bucket list.

Disclaimers first – This may not be an authentic Italian meal considering it is purely vegetarian except for an egg in the Eggplant Parmigiana. This would be the meal you would have in popular Italian restaurants in India. My limited research tells me the meal usually consists of –

Soup

Antipasti / Starters

Primo / First course – Usually a risotto or pasta

Secondo / Second course – Usually some meat or fish

Dolce / Dessert

I have made –

Mushroom Soup

Bruschetta – A simple and lip smacking starter that goes well with the soup

Pasta in Arrabiata Sauce for the First Course

Eggplant Parmigiana – A tasty baked eggplant dish topped generously with cheese

Mushroom and Capsicum Pizza with lots of Mozzarella cheese РI used a healthy pizza crust recipe with oats and wheat flour which results in a guilt free indulgence.

Vanilla Panna Cotta – An easy and quick dessert to round up the meal

The usual Italian meal also includes a cheese platter and seasonal fruits. I have omitted them and replaced that with a Pizza in typical Indian style because all we know about the Italian cuisine is pizza, pizza and some more pizza.

I have detailed the recipe for Bruschetta here which is a perfect answer to an easy and tempting starter and can be made quickly if you have unexpected guests.

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme – Thalis.

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Minapa Kudumulu

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I made this delightfully easy breakfast dish as part of my Andhra Breakfast Thali. Ever since I have made it a few more times and I am loving it a little more each time I have it. The good news is that it needs only 3 ingredients including salt and the not so good news is that it needs a few hours of soaking the lentils and so cannot satiate an instant craving. Once you have the batter ready it takes only 15 minutes to reach your plate and your tummy. What more does one need anyways!

WHAT WE NEED

Urad dal / Split black gram                           1 cup

Water

Salt

WHAT TO DO

  • Soak the urad dal overnight in 3 cups of water
  • Drain the remaining water
  • Grind it in a blender with salt and requisite water (between 1/4 and 1/2 cup) to form a thick smooth batter.
  • The batter needs to be thick, smooth and fluffy i.e. similar to idli batter
  • This can be steamed for 10 minutes in an idli mould but I would reccomend the traditional method of steaming.
  • Take¬†1 cup of water in a open mouth vessel and tie a cloth over it tightly
  • Pour a large laddle full of batter on the cloth and close the lid of the vessel tightly to ensure the steam does not escape
  • Steam for 5¬†minutes on high and then simmer for 8 minutes and turn off the gas
  • Insert a toothpick in the centre to ensure the kudumulu is fully cooked
  • Lift the cloth along with the kudumulu from the vessel and overturn it on a plate
  • Gently peel the cloth from the kudumulu
  • Cut it into wedges or squares and serve warm with kara podi and oil /ghee
  • Enjoy!

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Andhra Breakfast Thali

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I started exploring the Telugu language and cuisine last year. As usual my fascination met with the strong disapproval  of my husband. His idea was that I should be more interested in Kannada since we were to move to Bangalore. My point was that it would be far easier if he found a job in Hyderabad where I could put my knowledge of Telugu (all of 15 words) to good use. Like that happens ever!

When I signed up for the Thali theme for this month’s Blogging Marathon, I figured that I should explore more about their¬†breakfast which is my favorite meal of the day. Padma of the Plantain Leaf¬†is a real sweetheart and helped me put up a breakfast menu and also provided all the recipe links from her blog. A typical breakfast in Andhra includes –

Minapa Kudumulu – a protien variant of idli with no rice involved!

Pesarattu Upma – a combination of the humble rava upma with the most popular Andhra dish ‘Pesarattu Dosa’, a green gram dosa variant.

Allam Pachadi – A garlic pickle which goes along famously with the Pesarattu Upma

Kara Dosa – A regular rice dosa enhanced with the addition of finger millet flour and all purpose flour plus onions and chillies. Yum!

Kara podi -A red chilly and lentil spice mix to go with the Minapa Kudumulu

Filter Coffee – The beverage of choice for smart people ūüėČ

The breakfast also includes a sweet dish – kesari or payasam which I skipped. So we can call this the diet Andhra Breakfast!

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Check out the recipe of Minapu Kudumulu here. It is an easy, protein rich, healthy 3 ingredient breakfast which is a great start to your day. I will be posting the recipes for the other dishes soon.

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme – Thalis.

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Ugadi Pachadi

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My father had warned me years ago that if I watch movies at the rate I was watching, soon there would be no more movies for me to watch. I scoffed at him with all the disdain of a twenty something who knew better than her parents. But the thirties of your life teaches you how right your parents always are and so now I am actually in a situation where I have finished watching almost all Hindi and Tamil movies there are except of course the few I resolutely avoid. This happened sometime last year when I was still in Malaysia and discovered that I had watched every movie on TV. So I had two choices – either I switch to Chinese movies or Telugu movies (just to be be clear – not watching movies is not an option!). I chose the latter because they had subtitles, were comparatively easier to understand since there is a lot in common with Tamil and Hindi and the heroes look awesome. It was mostly the last reason but come on!

Since I started watching Telugu movies, I became interested in the Andhra cuisine too and started watching telugu cookery shows to improve my understanding of the language and discover the cuisine. I discovered the innumerable similarities and differences with Tamil cuisine.So this recipe today is a perfect example of similarities and differences of Andhra and Tamil cuisine. Ugadi Pachadi is made on the occasion of Ugadi which marks the beginning of the year for people in Andhra and Karnataka (two states in the south of India). This dish symbolizes life itself which is sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, sometimes bitter and sometimes spicy and so it has the mixture of ingredients of all the six tastes Рsweet, salty, spicy, bitter, sour and pungent.

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The main ingredients of this dish are raw mango and jaggery. The Tamil way of making this dish is to cook the raw mango and heat the jaggery till it melts and mix the two. But I am so much in love with the much more simpler no cook Telugu version where all the ingredients are mixed and made into a slightly thick mixture.

Recipe source here.

Serves 5-6

WHAT WE NEED

Raw mango, large                     1

Jaggery, grated                           1 cup

Tamarind paste                         2 tsp

Red chilly powder                     1/2 tsp

Dried neem flowers                 1 tbsp

Salt

WHAT TO DO

  • Peeling the mango is optional. Deseed and cut the mango into small pieces which will amount to 1 cup.
  • In a large bowl, add the mango pieces, jaggery, tamarind paste, chilly powder, salt and dried neem flowers
  • Mix well to form a thick sauce like consistency. It will take some time for the mixture to come together
  • To speed it up, heat a tava till it is very hot and turn off the gas. Keep the vessel on top of a hot tava to aid the melting of the jaggery. Else keep the bowl in a large vessel of hot water for similar results
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon for the theme РFestival Recipes.

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Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand with Poori

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My second recipe for the festivals of March is Poori Shrikhand for Gudi Padwa which is celebrated as the first day of a new year in Maharashtra, India. This idea is again from my bestie who i requested to give me the name of any dish except puran poli. For some reason the poli is nemesis. I have tried it thrice and failed so miserably that I am convinced it is not to be. I have conducted extensive research on puran polis but every hack and idea fell short and my husband’s face was a sight to behold whenever I tried to make it. Since he is a nice guy, I decided to spare him any further experiment and stop trying for now.

Thankfully Maharashtrians make puran poli for Sankranti which is the harvest festival in the month of January and they make the delightful shrikhand poori for Gudi Padwa. The shrikhand is amazingly easy to make and can be done within minutes, once you have the hung curd ready. It is a creamy, smooth dish which leaves you licking your fingers for a long time after. Another lovely aspect is that it lends itself to multiple creative flavours and can burst into a new flavour every time. You can add fruits like strawberry, mango or apple or spices like cardamom, saffron and cinnamon to name a few. This is a perfect dish to try new flavour combinations.

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Since this is my first time I decided to try the classic flavour of saffron and cardamom and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. Since this is a no cook recipe, it can be whisked together within minutes and served to an excited family.

Serves 4-5

Recipe from here

WHAT WE NEED

Curd (made from 1 litre milk)            4-5 cups

Sugar, powdered                                    1/2 Р3/4 cup

Cardamom powder                                1/4 tsp

Milk                                                            1 tbsp

Saffron                                                       5-6 strands

Pistachios                                                 4-5 for garnish

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Take a clean kitchen towel and place it over a deep bottom vessel
  • Pour the curd into the towel and tie it up to a large spoon or spatula and place it in the vessel
  • Ensure that there is a significant gap between the bottom of the towel and the vessel so that the whey that drips from the curd does not find its way back to it
  • Keep it in the fridge overnight till all the whey drips from the curd to the vessel and only thick curd remains in the towel

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  • Take the milk and add the saffron strand to it and keep aside for 10 minutes
  • Take the thick curd in a large bowl and add the powdered sugar, cardamom powder, milk and saffron
  • Using a whisk, mix all these ingredients together to form a smooth mixture
  • Taste it to ensure it is sweet enough for your taste
  • Chill the shrikhand for 2 hours before serving
  • Garnish with pistachios and serve with hot pooris
  • Enjoy!

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NOTES

  1. Usually 1/2 cup of sugar should be sufficiently sweet but if you need more then add 1 tbsp at a time and taste before adding more

 

This is my post under Festival Themes for the Blogging Marathon.

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Hayagreeva

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This week I will be posting March festival recipes i.e. recipes of dishes made for festivals that fall in the month of March. Since the most popular festivals are Gudi Padwa and Ugadi, I will be posting one recipe for Gudi Padwa, one Karnataka recipe for Ugadi and one from Andhra where Ugadi is also celebrated. These festivals mark the beginning of the year for the people from these regions and is celebrated with much pomp and splendour.

When I picked this theme, I promptly called by bestie who is a Maharashtrian married to a Kannadiga to pick her brains about what dishes they make. Her mother-in-law prepares this jaggery and bengal gram delight called Hayagreeva or Hayagreeva Maddi for Ugadi and it sounded just perfect for me to try out.

This dish from Karnataka is surprisingly simple with jaggery and Bengal gram teaming up to drive away whatever guilty feelings you might have regarding gorging on a dessert with abandon. Like any self respecting south Indian dish it has the ubiquitous coconut in it which adds a lovely crunch to the otherwise mushy delight and when it is topped with dry fruits roasted in ghee (clarified butter) you know there is no chance you are going to give this one a miss.

There is a nice story behind the dish which was mainly prepared for the deities of Udipi. Mythology says that a devotee, Sri Vadirajatirtha used to offer this dish to Lord Hayagreeva who came in the form of a white horse to devour it all. Thus the dish has been named after the Lord himself.

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Serves 3-4

Recipe from here.

WHAT WE NEED

Bengal gram / chana dal                 1 cup

Powdered jaggery                              1 cup

Ghee                                                      3-4 tbsp

Desiccated coconut                          4 tbsp

Cashew nuts                                       8-10

Raisins                                                 10-15

Almonds                                             4-5

Honey (optional)                              2 tbsp

WHAT TO DO

  • Pressure cook the bengal gram for 4¬†whistles and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Set aside the¬†cooker for 20 minutes before opening it
  • Mash the bengal gram well and set aside
  • Heat a pan and add the jaggery and bengal gram to it and mix well
  • Cook on medium flame and keep stirring frequently while the jaggery melts
  • Cook till the mixture thickens which should take around 10-12 minutes
  • Add the cardamom powder, honey and 2 tbsp of ghee, mix well and turn off the gas
  • Cut the cashews and almonds into small pieces
  • Heat the remaining ghee in a small pan and add the cashews and almonds
  • Once they turn golden brown, turn off the gas and add the raisins
  • Pour this over the jaggery mixture and add the desiccated coconut
  • Mix well and serve warm
  • Enjoy!

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NOTES

  1. Adding honey is optional. I added it because my family does not like the dish to be too thick and honey helps in reducing that a bit and makes the dish a little free flowing though not much and adds a nice aroma and flavour to the dish.

 

This is my post under Festival Themes for the Blogging Marathon.

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