Friday, July 03, 2015

Paneer Butter Masala(Without Butter)

For pure vegetarians, paneer or cottage cheese is a delicacy, an alternative to eggs and chicken. Paneer Makhanwala or Paneer Butter Masala is the most popular North Indian gravy dish formulated by the Punjabis and made rich by the Mughals. The Punjabi verision of Makhanwala has heavy use of butter/cream while the Mughalai version has cashew rich gravy with added cream/butter.

Tomato puree is common among both the versions, and it gives the gravy a sweet tangy taste and  adds substance to the gravy. Makhanwala can also be made without added butter or cream.
Paneer Butter Masala without adding butter or cream was basically Meena's idea. Off the usual, she wanted to make a nice creamy dish without adding extra fat. Amount of oil that goes into this curry is very less compared to traditional butter masala/makhanwala. You must make this to believe that it tastes as good as the original Paneer Butter Masala they serve in dhabas!

The dish shown in the pictures has butter floating in it, for I love my makhanwala with lots of butter!

Paneer - 200 gms cut into 1/2" cubes
Oil - 1 Tbsp
Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 Tsp
Onions - 150 gms finely chopped
Tomatoes - 150 gms  finely chopped
Coriander Powder - 1 Tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder - 2 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Tomato Puree - 2 Tsp
Cashewnut paste - 2 Tsp
Salt - To taste
Kasuri Methi - 1 tsp
Heat oil in a pan and fry chopped onions with ginger garlic paste until onions turn golden.
Add chopped tomatoes and fry until tomatoes are mushy.
Add all the powders and fry for 1-2 mins.
Grind to a fine paste in the mixer.
Transfer the ground paste back into the pan and add tomato puree and cashewnut paste.
Fry until oil leaves the sides. 
Add cubed paneer and half cup water.
Bring to a boil, add salt to taste and simmer for 5 mins.
Finally sprinkle crushed kasuri methi and serve hot with choice of roti or rice accompaniment.
If you want the gravy to be rich, drop 50 gm butter into the hot curry.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Mango Chana Daal Halwa

This is one sweet dish I came out with, when the preparation for proposed Mango Puran Poli went haywire and the outer cover dough was not perfect! I had to make something out of the stuffing and this is the outcome!
Mango is a versatile fruit that adds a good flavour to anything sweet. We have seen mango burfi, ice creams, some other sweets and relished them too. However, mango halwa is not a usual sweet we get to see in sweet shops. North Indian sweet makers might have come out with something similar to this, but I have not tasted it before, nor have I found any link online, as yet. Mango and chana daal blend well and the flavour is so good, even the raw paste without adding ghee is finger licking good!

This halwa was a superhit, making it is very easy, and all those who tasted this approved it and made me happy, that my concept, effort and sweat didn't go wasted!
Chickpea Lentil(Chana Daal) - 1 Cup
Mango Pulp - 1/2 Cup(or pulp of 150 Gm mango)
Sugar - 3/4 Cup
Cardamom - 4 Pods peeled and seeds crushed
Ghee(Clarified Butter) - 2 Tbsp
Tiny Cashewnut bits - A handful

Heat a thick bottomed pan, lightly roast cashewnut bits and keep aside.
You may skip that step, if the cashewnut bits are crisp and dry.
Soak chana daal in water for 2-3 hours at room temperature.
Drain and pressure cook for 10-15 mins without adding water to daal.
Allow to cool and then mash into a smooth paste by pounding or grinding.
Heat the pan again, and melt 1 tsp ghee.
Add mango pulp and sugar, keep stirring on medium flame until the puree becomes thick and dry.
Add the cooked mashed daal and remaining ghee.
Mix well and keep stirring constantly until ghee leaves the sides and the mass is stiff and dry.
Add 3/4 of the cashewnut bits, crushed cardamom and mix.
Switch off the flame and spread the halwa mixture on a greased shallow plate.
Sprinkle remaining cashew bits, flatten with a ladle and allow to cool down.
Cut into desired shape and store in air tight container, when the halwa pieces completely cool down.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hotel Casuarina - A Seafood Haven on NH66

We were on a road trip to Sirsi in May to attend a family function. Engaging Dolphy D'Souza's taxi cab, our plans were to start slightly late in the morning at about 10:00 and reach Honnavar by 1:00pm and have our lunch there. My classmate cum friend Manjeshwar Madhav Bhat is settled in Honnavar and he knew a place where we get fresh and hygienic seafood preparations. Some months earlier, my niece Seema D Shenoy from Puttur and her family had dined there and she being a foodie and a good cook herself, appreciated their food very much. Ever since, I always wanted to visit that restaurant and check out their preparations.
It is just by the side of old Padukani causeway bridge
That's the garden ambiance
Deepak setting up the table for 5
Madhav Bhat inspects the table
Padukani bridge and the old causeway
So we were there little after 1:00pm and Madhava lead us there, a vast garden setup adjacent to Padukani(Badagani) bridge past Haldipur, about 10 Kms or almost half way between Honnavar and Kumta. It was near Kasarakod until some months ago, but has been recently shifted to the present place, said my friend. It was named 'Hotel Casuarina' by the owner ND Bhat, when it functioned at Kasarakod amidst casuarina trees. It was ND Bhat's ambition to serve the travellers with the goodies of Uttara Kannada at affordable prices. The location is exactly half way between Mangaluru and Panaji and also Managluru and Hubballi, making it a convenient place to dine at mid day or in the evening for those travelling between said places.

The place looked serene and cozy perched amidst giant acacia trees, with permanent and make shift canopies in the garden that provided shelter for diners. They have maintained it meticulously clean as well. There are wash rooms for ladies and gents to get refreshed after a long and tiring journey. We were greeted with a smile by two friendly hosts by name Sudanshu and Deepak, who attended to our table. Madhav knew them personally and had informed them over phone about our visit, so they readily understood what we want. 

Madhava Bhat ordered three starters, Prawn Sukkha, Belanji(Bollanjir in Tulu, Motiyale in Konkani) and Surmai Rava Fried along with regular fish thaali. Their menu had many items including chicken preparations. Shubha, Madhav's wife told us that their chicken items are lip smacking good! They also have bottled cold water and a wide range of cool drinks but we settled for cold and warm water.

Very soon, there were plates full of fresh seafood treat on our table, hot and inviting! We gorged into them one by one, while the boys brought the thaalis  shining like mirror, and we continued gobbling up the steaming white rice with the hot and tangy fish curry and the side dishes. Each item was fresh and clean, not as spicy as we get them in Mangaluru, but certainly tasty and aromatic.
Belanji Rava Fried
King Fish Rava Fried and Prawn Sukkha
Fish Thaali
That's a lovely King Fish Rava Fried
Bill itself is the proof for reasonable pricing!
Author with Deepak and Sudanshu
Prawn Sukkha is different than Tuluva style preparation. It is more sticky with lots of onions, garlic, chillies and turmeric but has less added coconut, rather just a garnish of freshly grated coconut. Belanji fried was crisp and hot, well marinated with a rather bland masala and it had right amount of salt in it. Surmai rava fried was the item of the day, fresh thick and big steaks of King Fish marinated with a spicy tangy masala,  rolled in rava and fried to perfection. Each bite tasted like a piece of savoury cake and literally melted in the mouth! 

Their fish thaali contains a bowl of white rice, a bowl with full mackerel curry, a small bowl full of vegetable fry and that day it was cabbage pallya. A fried fish such as Mackerel or Sardine and a pickle is also served along with the thaali. The fish curry rice was good, but fish curry was slightly bland and the gravy was too thin. That's how a Uttara Kannada fish curry(Meen Saaru) is normally prepared, for I have dined at some sea food restaurants in Bengaluru, Karwar and Honavar in the past run by Uttara Kannadigas and found similar preparations. 

Fried fish and other special seafood preparations are priced seasonally as per prevailing rates. With two bottles of water, two plates each of starter dishes and four fish thaalis, our bill summed up to Rs.1270/- for 5 persons and it was worth every rupee, I must confess.

Try this place, if you are on a road trip to Goa or Mumbai. Family will love the surrounds with Badagani(Padukani) River flowing by the side, kids will love playing in the garden and men can just laze around watching the bustling highway traffic crossing the Padukani bridge, or even enjoying the whiff of fresh wind in the shade of mammoth acacia trees.

Hotel Casuarina
Near Go Green Homestay
Padukani(Badagani) Bridge
Haldipur - 581327
Uttara Kannada District

Contact No: 
ND Bhat - 9449441990

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Egg Sukkha(Egg Ball Sukkha)

People make egg sukkha by hard boiling the eggs and cooking them along with chicken sukkha masala. if you keep the boiled eggs whole or if you are lucky even after cutting them in half, they may remain intact and not get disintegrated with the masala. That's again not guaranteed. When you make bigger portions of sukkha for a family, chances are that the egg yellow may get broken and mixed up with the masala.
Ever since I tried Omelette Balls and Egg Ball Chilli, I have been thinking about coming out with something new with egg balls. So I came out with Egg Ball Sukkha, a fail safe recipe in which egg balls can be of equal size and remain intact even after cooking with the masalas and while serving.

Making egg balls is not at all difficult. You need some patience and confidence to fry them in the Paniaram/Paddu/Appo tawa. Now a days, we get non stick paniaram tawa in the market, making our job non-messy. Besides, well beaten eggs respond well while making balls.

The masala can be either authentic Chicken Sukkha masala or Kundapur masala for easier cooking. I chose the latter, partly because we had Kundapur masala powder in stock, and because we needed to make sukkha with just 4 eggs. Only major job is grating and grinding coconut. That too can be made easy by stocking grated coconut in the freezer.

4 eggs yield around 18 egg balls, sufficient for a small family. if you wish, you may increase the amount of ingredients. However, be sure to relish them with either steamed rice and curry or with chapatis.
Eggs - 4
Grated Coconut - 1 cup
Garlic Cloves - 8-10, peeled and chopped
Cumin Powder - 1 Tsp
Onions - 2 small, chopped(Around 1/2 cup)
Kundapur Masala Powder - 4 Tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder(Optional) - 1 Tsp
Tamarind - Pea size ball
Salt - 1/2 Tsp(or to taste)
Unsalted Butter - 20 Gms
Coconut Oil - 4-5 Tsp
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig
Coriander Leaves(Optional) - 2 Sprigs chopped

Grind grated coconut with chopped garlic and cumin powder coarsely without adding water.
Extract tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup water.
Add salt and Kundapur Masala powder to that and mix into a paste.
If necessary add little more water.
Heat butter in a pan.
Fry chopped onions until transparent.
Add the Kundapur masala paste, optional Kashmiri Chilli powder, and fry for 2 mins.
Add 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Break the eggs and collect the egg white separately and yellow separately.
Beat the egg whites until frothy and light.
Drop the egg yellow and beat further to blend them well with the beaten egg white.
Heat the paniaram tawa and simmer the flame.
Drizzle 4 drops of coconut oil in each one of the depressions.
Pour a tablespoon of beaten egg in each depression.
Allow to fry until golden.
Drizzle more oil drops around the egg balls and flip them to fry on the other side.
Collect all the egg balls and keep aside.
When the onions are cooked in the masala, add the egg balls into the masala and cook for 2 mins.
Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in another pan and fry the curry leaves.
Add 2 tbsp of the ground coconut over them and fry until golden.
Add this to the pan in which eggs are cooking.
Top up with the remaining coconut paste
Mix gently with a wooden spoon and allow to get almost dry.
Check for salt and switch off the flame.
Garnish with optional chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.

Raagi Ginger Nutty Treat(Spicy Cookies)

Ginger Biscuits/Cookies are being sold in Mangalorean bakeries since I was a small boy. The tongue tickling taste of these cookies, and the warmth they provide in the rainy season or in the winter months, makes them favourite with me. I have grown up tasting nice ginger biscuits from Vas Bakery, City Bakery, Ganesh Bakery, Prabhu Bakery, Harish Bakery, Famous Bakery and PR Bakery. However, now a days we don't get the same taste as we used to get during our younger days. Perhaps my taste has evolved, or the ingredients they put in those cookies are sub standard.

Meena was suggesting that we should make some cookies at home to go with morning tea, especially after my successful attempt in making Masala Biscuits. We had raagi flour in stock and I said, let me experiment with raagi biscuits. Then again, she recovering from a spell of cold likes spicy biscuits, but making masala biscuits again and that too with raagi flour, was a big no with her!
So I came out with these ginger cookies, adding few extras and making them a nutty treat as well. Online recipes were not encouraging, as my idea was to make something different, something that crumbles in the mouth giving the typical taste of ginger biscuits I had tasted long ago, also with a hint of other spices. The Masala Biscuits recipe is proven to be a big success, and I wanted to go the same way with some changes. So my option was to mix in clove, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper to the dough.

These tasted really good, just like how I wanted them. Meena gave me a high five, and said they taste much better than bakery biscuits! That by any standards, is the best compliment I have received in recent times from my wife! Try these and you may receive accolades from your nears and dears as well!

Raagi(Finger Millet) Flour - 1 cup
Refined Flour(Maida) - 1/4 cup
Baking Powder - 3/4 Tsp
Butter - 100 gms
Salt - 1/4 Tsp
Dry Ginger Powder(Sonth) - 1 Tbsp
Cinnamon - A small piece
Cloves - 4-5
Cardamom Pods(optional) - 3-4
Black Peppercorns - 1/4 Tsp
Tiny Cashew nut Bits - 1 Tbsp
White Sesame Seeds - 1 Tbsp
Plain Yogurt - 2 Tbsp
Sugar - 1 Tbsp
Peel cardamoms and collect the seeds.
Crush cinnamon into tiny bits.
Heat a pan and dry roast cinnamon, cloves, cardamom seeds and peppercorns for 1-2 mins.
Pound in a mortar or run in a mill to powder them.
Powder the sugar in the mill or in a mortar.
Smoothen butter with a spoon at room temperature.
Sift both the flours along with baking powder and salt.
Add dry ginger powder and spice powder.
Add butter and rub with your fingers to form crumbs.
Now add the cashew nut bits, sesame seeds, yogurt and knead into a soft pliable dough.
Preheat oven at 180° C for 10 minutes.
Finally mix in the powdered sugar and make 24 equal size balls.
Press and flatten each ball on your palm and place in the cookie cutter.
Press with your fingers to mould them into perfect round cookies.
Detach the cookie cutter and press each cookie with fork to mark patterns(I have designed lines).
Place the cookies on greased parchment paper lined in the baking tray and an extra aluminum plate on the wire rack.
Bake at 180° C for 20-30 mins or until the cookies start to turn brownish.
Cool on a wooden board and store in an airtight container.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Three Flour Mixed Veg Parathas

Paratha is perhaps the most sought after Indian Flat Bread that's liked by almost all. Plain parathas to stuffed parathas, over the last 27 years we have been making them in different ways. 

Some days ago, Meena came out with her own formula, when she wanted to make something new for brunch. She came out with a tasty nutritious paratha that has a mixture of vegetables and also three different flours to make it tasty as well.

Here is Three Flour Mixed veg Paratha that she made that tasted just fantastic. Try it with ketchup or plain yogurt spiced up with salt and a dash of chilli powder and garam masala. It is too good for words! 
Refined Flour(Maida) - 1 cup
Whole Wheat Flour - 1 cup
Ragi(Finger Millet) Flour - 1 cup
Caraway Seeds(Ajwain/Oama) - 1/4 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1 Tsp
Chaat Masala - 1 Tsp
Dry Mango(Amchur) Powder - 1 TspGreen Chillies  - 3, finely chopped
Mixed Vegetables(Finely chopped Cabbage, Capsicum, Onion, grated Carrot)  - 1 and 1/2 cups
Coriander leaves - 2-3 sprigs, chopped 
Mint Leaves - 1 sprig, chopped 
Salt - 1/2 Tsp(Or to taste)
Oil/Ghee - For roasting + 1 Tbsp

Mix salt with chopped veggies and greens and then add all the three flours.
Add a tablespoonful oil/ghee and knead the dough along with the veggies. 
Sprinkle little water while kneading, if the dough is too stiff/dry.
Knead well into a soft pliable dough.
Cover and keep for 15 mins.
Make lemon size balls, dust with wheat flour and roll into 4 mm thick parathas.
Heat oil/ghee on a thick tawa/griddle.
Roast the parathas on both sides until they are well baked and turn golden brown.
Serve with fresh plain yogurt spiced with a dash of salt, red chilli powder and garam masala powder.
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