Grilled Eggplant Rolls

 

I had 3 large eggplants in my refrigerator (???) and I was not in a mood to cook a South- Indian eggplant curry. So I googled a nice recipe for a spicy eggplant dish.

Thanks to pinterest, I found many options, but I chose to make this.

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The recipe was quite simple; however I made a few modifications.

  • First of all, I am not an adept culinary artist, so my eggplant slices were thicker than expected.

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  • In the sauce, instead of fresh parsley I used dried ones as I did not have fresh ones at home, but it tasted amazing nevertheless

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  • For the filling, instead of spinach (which I did not have at home, of course. Now don’t you dare laugh wondering why I bought 3 large eggplants, of all the veggies! I have no clue myself!). I used other veggies like peppers, carrots. You can toss in any veggie of your choice. I mixed some cumin powder and chili powder to add some spice to the dish.

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  • Instead of rolling the eggplants, I placed one layer of eggplant slices at the bottom of the tray (as the slices were a bit thicker, it was difficult to roll them), next, a layer of veggie filling. I grated some parmesan cheese over it and again placed the rest of the eggplant slices on top, then spread the sauce all over and finished it off with another sprinkle of the cheese.

And guess what, it tasted really yum! Pictures don’t do much justice though!

Do try to make it at home and let me know if you liked it.

Love,

Madhurya.

 

My first batch of Cupcakes

I’m a big fan of Cupcakes. Have always been one. Back in Dubai, I frequented shops like Mister Baker, Cheesecake Factory and Starbucks to try their cupcakes. My best friend Israt had once bought some yummy cupcakes for me from a shop called Sugaholic. I loved it!

When I moved to Switzerland, I had a hard time finding a nice cupcake shop, until my friend, Aniko, suggested a place called `The Little Shabby`. It’s a tiny  cafe that specializes in cupcakes and coffee. They used to have 2 branches in Switzerland, one in Winterthur and the other in Schaffhausen. Unfortunately, the branch in Winterthur, got closed recently.

Little Shabby is owned by 2 sisters who bake their own cupcakes. You’ll find different flavors every day. If one day they bake Mango, Chocolate and Lemon flavors, the next day it is Blueberry, Red-velvet and Vanilla. They are super-delicious and super-pricey (5 US Dollars / cupcake), but they’re well worth it.

Along with the cupcakes, they also sell baking tools like paper cups, baking pans, cupcake decorating items, piping bags etc. Once every week my husband, Mike, and I treat ourselves to a cupcake and a hot cup of coffee or cappuccino after a long walk around the city. He likes to try different flavors while I usually stick to my favorites, red-velvet or chocolate. As a special surprise, Mike ordered their 4-tier cupcakes arranged with a beautiful fruit-cake with lemon for our wedding in Switzerland.  I was in seventh heaven!

I decided I had to bake my own cupcakes. I wanted to be that mom and aunt who bakes the best cupcakes! With this urge and a full-fledged support from my husband, I planned my first bake.

I found this recipe for  a simple vanilla cupcake with vanilla icing. I modified the measurements to suit my requirement.

I shopped for some baking equipment like a piping bag set containing nozzles of different sizes, cupcake papers (these papers can be used directly in the oven), sprinkles for decorating, vanilla essence, coloring agents (blue, red and yellow) and plastic spatulas from a supermarket called Migros.

Cupcake ingredients

To bake about 10 cupcakes, I used the following:

200 gm All purpose Flour

100 gm icing sugar (You can add more if you want it sweeter)

2 eggs

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

1-1/4 tsp baking powder

100 gm butter

2 drops of vanilla essence

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 175°C. In a bowl, sift the flour; to this add salt, baking soda and baking powder and keep aside.

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Step 2: In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Try to keep the speed as low as possible.

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Step 3: Once it starts to become smooth, add the eggs, one at a time and the vanilla essence. Whisk it thoroughly until the batter gets smoother.

Step 4: Pour the mixture into paper cups. Fill only halfway to avoid spilling over the sides

Step 5: Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, I used the following:

200 gm butter (Softened i.e, kept at room temperature and not frozen)

200 gm icing sugar

2 drops of vanilla essence

2 drops of coloring agent

Decorating sprinkles

Step 1: With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar till it gets fluffy. Add vanilla extract and color. If the frosting is too thin, add extra sugar and if it is too thick mix in a bit of milk.

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Step 2: Once the frosting is done, pour it into the piping bags* and decorate the cupcakes. Top them with your favorite sprinkles.

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*I used simple round nozzle to get this design.

The cupcakes were delicious. The cake had the right texture and taste and the frosting was yummy; only it wasn’t as fluffy as I wanted it to be.

Vanilla Cupcake with vanilla frosting

My friend suggested I add fresh cream in the frosting to make it more fluffy and creamy, instead of using only butter (that is half portion cream and half portion butter). I am going to try that for my next batch. I’ll let you guys know if it works. (Please do tell me if you have any suggestion…)

I have to got to nail this…

(‘Cause I will be baking cupcakes for the guests at my sister-in-law’s birthday party next month. Don’t tell her this… :))

Indian-style Veggie Burrito

We LOVE Mexican food around here; Actually we JUST LOVE FOOD around here, as you may well know by now; Eating and working-out are our favorite pastimes! Not only Prasad and mine, but my in-laws’ too. They are willing lab-rats for my kitchen experiments. I love trying new recipes that I find online or re-creating the foods we used to eat in the US, with the ingredients available here in India.

To make a dish palatable and enjoyable to my in-laws, I throw in a lot of veggies and add a spoon of Curry Powder prepared by my mother-in-law. Curry powder perks up a dish- Pasta or Fajitha, Burger or Burrito- and makes it more Indian.

A Veggie Burrito usually consists of Fried Veggies, Beans, Rice, Guacamole, Salsa, Sour Cream and Cheese. But I skipped the Guacamole part since I couldn’t get hold of a ripe Avocado.

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Fried Veggies and Black Beans

I heated a spoon of Canola oil, cut a medium-sized onion into thin slices and tossed it into the pan. Not waiting for the onion slices to brown, I added other veggies like a julienned Carrot, thin slices of Capsicum and a bag of mushrooms, quartered. You can also add slices of Zucchini or half a Soy Chorizo to this like I used to in the US.

I added a can of Black beans and a cup of soaked and cooked Black-eyed peas to the veggies. A bit of sugar, a spoon of salt, a sprinkle of Oregano and a spoon of Curry powder went into the pan soon after. I didn’t wait for the Veggies to soften and turned off the heat just as they lost their rawness but were still crisp enough.

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Rice

I normally use leftover rice to make the rice filling. The grains don’t stick to one another forming a mush.

I just added a bit of salt, a pinch of turmeric, a bit of red chilli powder and squeezed half a lemon into a cup of cooked rice and gently mixed them all up .

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Salsa

I followed this recipe to make fresh Salsa at home instead of buying a bottle from the Supermarket, like I used to. We get plenty of Tomatoes from our farm and I’m always looking to incorporate them in all the dishes I prepare.

In a pan I took oil, added 2 roughly chopped onions, about 6 chopped garlic, waited for onions to turn translucent and the garlic to lose its raw smell. Along with 4 roughly-chopped tomatoes, I added 2 green chillis and turned up the heat. I switched off the heat after the tomatoes became tender. To this mixture I added a spoon of salt and juice squeezed from half a lemon. Then I waited for it to cool. I pulsed the mixture in the mixer along with a few sprigs of Cilantro and a spoon of cumin seeds, without grinding it completely. My salsa was chunky and tangy.

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I didn’t find sour cream at the store but I did have a block of Pizza cheese. I assembled the burrito by warming both sides of a Tortilla, layering it with a spoonful of the Veggie and Bean mix, Rice, Salsa and shredded cheese and folding it. I did the same with the Taco shell too, but without warming the shell.

Although a dollop of Guacamole would have made the dish a lot more creamier and richer, I hardly missed it. Varying texture and flavors within the folds of the Tortilla and the Taco kept it interesting as it is.

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How I prepared a Paneer Wrap

I am very fond of wraps- Greek Pita wrap, Veggie Burrito, or a Frankie . Even a simple Chapati slathered with spoonfuls of Mixed Fruit Jam and rolled up, is a personal favorite. But what makes a wrap, or any entree for that matter, interesting to me is all the ingredients with different textures that it holds within- from the gooey dressing to the meatier Mushroom or Paneer. I’m always looking for recipes online that incorporate a variety of textures. On one such exploration I found a recipe for the Ultimate Paneer Wrap. 

I made the Multipurpose Marinade first.

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It came out tangy and spicy, just how I wanted it to taste. I kept some marinade aside, assuming it was more than what I needed. I cut up a block of Paneer into strips and submerged them in the rest of the marinade. Into the refrigerator went the bowl.

I prepared the dressing according to the recipe, by grinding a handful of Cilantro, a Green Chili, juice squeezed from half a lemon and a sprinkle of salt. But instead of mixing the ground paste with Sour Cream, which I didn’t have at hand, I used homemade Yogurt instead. I should have run the Yogurt through a sieve, to let the Whey out, as it made the mixture too runny, instead of the creamy texture I was looking for in a dressing.

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I had half a Yellow Capsicum, half a Green Capsicum and a half of Yellow Zucchini, leftovers from when I made a Slow cooker Enchilada Quinoa Bake. I used them along with a big bulb of Onion to prepare my Vegetable filling. (By the way, I also added a spoon of Curry Powder into this mix. I always do, when I’m preparing a new dish, like Pasta or Fajita, to make it more appealing to my in-laws, who prefer the Indian touch to any dish.).

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In order to add more body to the wrap, I cut a few Potatoes into strips and deep-fried them. Right after I scooped them out of the pan, all yellow and hot, I made sure I sprinkled some salt on them.

By now, the Paneer had had enough time marinading in the, what else but, Multipurpose Marinade. I shallow-fried the strips to caramelize a side or two. Paneer, when fried, came out a bit rubbery. My mother-in-law suggested I try using the Marinade-coated Paneer in my wrap as they are, instead of frying them, as the recipe suggests. She told me hers tasted better, without the frying.

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While preparing the dough for Chapati, my mother-in-law added some Maida (All-purpose flour) to the Whole Wheat flour. I prepared a thin Chapati, placed a big spoon of the Vegetable filling, topped the filling with strips of Paneer and Potatoes, poured the dressing over. To make the Wrap even spicier, I spooned in a bit of the Marinade I had set aside, and rolled it up. The crunchy Veggies, crispy Potatoes and Spicy Paneer along with the sharp taste of the Marinade, made sure every bite felt like a riot of textures and flavors. We LOVED it!

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Not the kids though, they found it spicy. So I made them both a wrap with some Potatoes and Tomato Ketchup. They LOVED theirs! Thanks to showmethecurry.com, we had one finger-licking good dinner!

How I prepared Thai Red Curry for dinner

The rich and creamy coconut milk, the fruity fragrance of Lemongrass, the fiery blend of spices that make up the red curry paste, the assorted texture of the Vegetables thrown in and its pairing with the humble rice makes Thai Red Curry a hit around the Pejavar household.

When Prasad asked me to prepare it for dinner tonight, I thought why not post the making on my blog?

Whenever I decide ahead of time to post about an experience, I pay close attention to it as it unfolds. I take the experience very seriously, making sure I scribble notes in my journal along the way and click as many pictures as possible. This is another reason why I enjoy Blogging: It makes me immerse myself in every big and small project I undertake; It helps me live fully and stay mindful.

Like I said, I took the whole thing pretty seriously. I couldn’t find the keys to my car. There was nobody at home to help care for the little ones. So I decided to make a picnic of my foray into the market with the kids, in a rickshaw. I even packed lunch along for them ’cause I was sure it would be late by the time we got back home.

We went to my favorite market that sells everything from Onions to Celery. Imagine finding celery in a small store, not a super-market, in India! To my surprise I even found a bunch of Basil leaves, which the store-keeper kept referring to as “Brazil Leaves”!

I let Medha help me pick the vegetables and held onto Madhav in one hand, afraid he might take off on one of his escapades. With my free hand I took a few pictures of the store and the fresh vegetables (“for my daughter’s school project”, I told the owner. I didn’t know what else to say!), that lay seductively, sunning themselves on a warm January afternoon.

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P1100027I bought Zucchini, a Broccoli head, a packet of mushrooms, bell peppers – red and yellow, a couple of coconuts and Basil leaves.

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(If you’re curious, I fed the kids their lunch on the way back home, in a speeding rickshaw!)

I plucked a lime, a few leaves off lemongrass from our garden to prepare the curry.

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I began preparing the red curry paste as per this recipe while the kids slept. I had everything at hand, except the white pepper powder.

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P1100044Before I finished the bulk of the preparation, the kids woke up. So I had to attend to their needs first. Thanks to my in-laws, who took Madhav along with them on one of their errands, I could get back to my cooking in peace. Medha watched away her favorite show while I slogged at the Coconut grater.

P1100039Grating a couple of coconuts, grinding them to a paste along with warm water, squeezing the paste and allowing the thick liquid to pass through a sieve to obtain coconut milk, ate up a major chunk of my time. But the smooth, velvety end result was totally worth the hard work.

P1100046Now it was time to prepare the curry, for which I followed this recipe with a few modifications. I added more vegetables instead of just broccoli and baby corn and fried them instead of blanching. I dropped the paneer, as I didn’t want the dish to taste too Indian.

I

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  • Added chopped Basil leaves to the red curry paste after frying the paste in oil for a minute or so.

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  • Poured coconut milk, water, a tablespoon of corn flour mixed in coconut milk. Let it bubble as I stirred continuously for about 5-6 minutes. Added a spoon of salt.

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  • Fried the veggies separately

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  • Mixed everything and let it cook for a couple of minutes before turning off the heat.

After he got back home, Prasad felt inspired to prepare a fried rice to go along with my curry.

P1100064Together, the Thai Red Curry and the Fried Rice made a healthy, comforting and delicious dinner tonight.

Corn Puri

I love to cook. I am always on the hunt for new recipes to try (Well… not when I’m reading or writing). But I am not creative enough to come up with my own recipes. My mother-in-law is. She is a passionate cook (You’ll find her in the kitchen trying out one dish after another or surfing channels for cookery shows); Cooking traditional South Indian dishes is her forte but she also dabbles in inventing one of her own, with any ingredient at hand. Corn Puri is just one of the many recipes she created. This treat can be eaten as a snack or accompanied with a side dish like the normal puri.

I want to compile the recipes the mothers in my life have created and tried, so that I can pass them on to my children. So, expect more recipes in the future.

Here goes the recipe for Corn Puri:

Ingredients:

Corn – 1

Green Chillis – 3 (or more if you prefer)

Jeera – 1 tsp

Wheat flour – 2 cups

Sugar – a pinch

Salt – as needed

Water – just enough to knead the dough

  1. Find the most tender corn available, preferably Indian corn which isn’t as sweet as the American one. Also, look for the one with more grains.

P10804012. Remove the husk and the silk.

P10804023. With a sweeping motion of the knife, remove the grains from the ear. This takes a bit of skill (which I lack) and can get a little messy (in my case, a lot). Chop the green chillis.

P10804044. Grind the corn and chillis to a coarse paste. Add Wheat flour, Jeera, Sugar, Salt and Water. Knead the dough.

P10804055. Pinch off lime-sized bits of dough and begin rolling puris.

P10804066. Deep-fry them like you would, the usual puris.

P1080409They might not LOOK good but they taste awfully good! Try them…

Brussel Sprouts Pulao

When I found a stalk of Brussel Sprouts at Trader Joes I knew I had to try the recipe for its Pulao I had once glanced at in this website.

I modified the recipe to suit my taste and also to avoid shopping for ingredients I had run out of. The cooking didn’t take long and the dish came out subtle and delicious. I’m not boasting but my husband couldn’t stop raving about it! Try it…. It’s that good!

First I made a paste of-
2 tablespoons of Cashews
a teaspoon of ginger
1 garlic clove
some Coriander leaves
3 Green Chillis
2 cloves
a tablespoon of coriander seeds
an inch of cinnamon
a teaspoon of cumin and
a teaspoon of pepper

I set aside a cup and a half of rice with about 4 cups of water in a rice cooker and let it cook.

Then I heated some oil in a skillet. To it I added an onion sliced thinly. After browning the onion slices I added about 15 Brussel Sprouts sliced lengthwise. In a few minutes I sprinkled some salt and turmeric.

I waited and waited and saw no sign of the Brussel Sprouts becoming soft. So I added the ground Masala paste to the mixture and tossed the whole thing into the rice cooker while the rice was cooking. That’s it…

I’m always curious to see how a new recipe turns out. It’s like magic- I toss a little bit of this; Sprinkle a little bit of that; Cook it all up and Voila! Something totally unexpected happens!

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