Thursday, 31 July 2014

Deconstructed Steamed Whole Wheat Bun with Raisins and Sesame Seeds

My heart sank in disappointment when I was unable to achieve perfect fluffy soft texture kind of bun in my previous effort of making steamed bun or Chinese pau. Considering the unhealthy ingredients such as all purpose flour and double action baking agents used profoundly in that bun recipes, I declined to negotiate with my own temptation to follow recipes found on the internet. Surrounded by positive vibes, armed with some knowledge gathered from the net, I eventually determined to experiment the bun again by using water roux starter technique (Tangzhong Method) which has been popularly incorporated in various breads and baked buns preparation. The result was better than the previous attempt. It was edible, healthy and tasty but definitely wasn't rock hard. It was considerably soft but not super soft and dense with lots of raisins. Since, the bun is made purely with whole wheat flour, olive oil, yeast and dry fruits so I reckon it to be a healthy discovery and healthy attempt for sending to " Ahlan Ramadan- The Healthy way".

               “Sending this entry to Ahlan Ramadan –The Healthy Way” 

Ingredients for making whole wheat pau or bun :

Whole wheat flour/ atta flour : 1/2 cup
Instant dry yeast : 1/8 tsp
Brown sugar :1 1/2 tsp
Olive oil : 3 tsp 
Black raisins : 4 tbsp (chopped coarsely) 
Toasted white sesame seeds : 2 tbsp
Warm water : as needed

Ingredients for making water roux starter:

Whole wheat flour/ atta flour : 1 tbsp
Water : 3 tbsp

Method :

1. First, add whole wheat flour into a wide bowl with 2 tsp of olive oil. Rub the flour and oil using the rubbing technique to create tiny crumbly particles.

2. In a pan, add 1 tbsp of whole wheat flour and 3 tbsp of water. Stir continuously on low flame. The mixture will thicken up and for every stir creates streaks of lines and that's the time to remove the paste from the heat and let it cool completely. 

3. Add 1/8 tsp of yeast, 1 1//2 tsp of brown sugar and water roux starter (all) . Mix all the ingredients with sprinkle of warm water just enough to form soft dough. Be careful not to add a lot of water as the starter has some moisture. Knead the dough for 15 minutes.

4. Let the dough proof for 2 1/2 hours because I have used less amount of yeast for slow fementation.

5. After 2 1/2 hours, take the dough out when it doubles in size or have rich honeycomb texture beneath. Keep kneading to punch the air out and add another tsp of olive oil to avoid stickiness. Now add in raisins and sesame seeds. Mix well. Shape small size balls from the dough.

6. Rest the dough for 30 minutes.

7. Steam the pau or bun in a steamer for 15 min to 20 min depending on the size of the pau.

8. Serve hot and that's when its soft and delicious.  


Friday, 25 July 2014

Steamed Whole Wheat Pau with Spicy Potato Filling

               “Sending this entry to Ahlan Ramadan –The Healthy Way” 

No extra double action baking soda or any kind of softener or cake flour added to cause magical pillow soft effect. This is homemade practical pau and edible without side effects. If you are craving for something wholesome and healthy then this pau or improvised bun will satisfy your palate. I thought if pita bread could be fermented using yeast and cook on griddle, then why not change the cooking method to 'steam'. Don't skip the sweet potato in the dough as it works like a natural leavens. I love it but you could tweak the recipe by using sweet filling made of coconut, red bean paste or even pumpkin puree. Be creative and follow your instinct of what is best for you. I had leftover sweet potatoes so got the idea of turning it into cute little buns. Nothing went waste :) 

Steamed Whole Wheat Pau with Spicy Potato Filling

Ingredients for making whole wheat pau :

Whole wheat flour/ atta flour : 1- 1 1/2 cup
Instant dry yeast : 1/4 tsp
Steamed and mashed sweet potato (orange color) : 1/4 cup
Salt : a pinch
Sugar :1/4 tsp
Olive oil : 1 tbsp
Warm water : as needed

Ingredients for making spicy potato filling :

Medium sized normal potatoes : 3
Large red onion : 1
Coriander leaves : a small bunch
Chilli powder : 2 tsp or more
Olive oil : 1 tbsp
Water : 1/2 cup 
Roasted sesame seeds : 1/4 cup (for rolling)
Salt : as needed 

Dry Roast and Grind :

Fennel seeds : 1 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon stick : 1 1/2 inch piece
Cloves : 6

Method :

1. First, add whole wheat flour into a wide bowl with steamed and mashed sweet potato without any lumps. Mix them well.

2. Add 1/2 tsp of yeast, sugar and salt. Mix all the ingredients with sprinkle of warm water just enough to form soft dough. Be careful not to add a lot of water as mashed sweet potato has some moisture. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.

3. Let the dough proof for  40 minutes to 1 hour. In hot summer days, only 40 minutes is needed for the fermentation process.

4. In a pan, dry roast the spices under 'Dry Roast and Grind' section till golden brown and grind to smooth powder. Keep aside.

4. In a pan, pour a tbsp of olive oil, start frying finely chopped onion till translucent and after that, you may add finely chopped potatoes as well. Keep stirring for 10 min as we don't want the potatoes to burn at the bottom.

5. Add 1/2 cup of water, chilli powder, salt and spice powder. Mix well. Let it cook till water is fully absorbed and the potatoes are well cooked.

6. Lastly, toss in finely chopped coriander leaves and give it a quick stir. Switch off the flame and let it cool completely.

7. After 40 minutes to 1 hour, take the dough out when it doubles in size or have rich honeycomb texture. Keep kneading to punch the air out and add a tbsp of olive oil to avoid stickiness. Shape small size balls from the dough and stuff the prepared filling in it. Make sure you seal the top securely in order to avoid filling from spilling out. 

8. Roll each stuffed pau in a roasted sesame seeds until covered completely.

9. Steam the pau or bun in a steamer for 15 min to 20 min depending on the size of the pau.

10. Enjoy while its hot and fresh or with whatever filling you like.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Masala Spiral Pasta with Veggies and Prawn Combo

Eating organic pasta made of semolina durum wheat flour is indeed healthy only if the proportion of vegetables included high enough to provide all essential vitamins and fiber needed by the body. It's a wholesome meal when protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals are taken in a right amount. What I love about this spicy masala pasta is that my family could eat it without feeling guilty or having restriction with the term 'HEALTHY'. Adding some spices are not only to enhance the flavor but also help to prevent indigestion. Unlike pasta cooked with heavy cream or milk , this type of cooking will definitely not leave uncomfortable heavy feeling. The taste was superb and refreshing when eaten hot and naturally has slight sweetness from the veggies used and the prawns have immensely added extra flavor which could be substituted with chicken chunks.          

          “Sending this entry to Ahlan Ramadan –The Healthy Way” 

Masala Spiral Pasta with Veggies and Prawn Combo


Organic spiral pasta : 1 cup
Cauliflower : 1 cup
Chopped snow peas : 1 cup
Chopped baby corn : 1 cup
Green Bell pepper : 1
Grated carrot : 1/2 piece
Fresh prawns : 1/2 cup
Homemade special curry powder : 1 1/2 tsp
Large ripe tomato : 1
Spring onions : 2 stalks (garnish)
Olive oil : 1 tbsp 
Turmeric powder : 1/4 tsp
Salt : as needed

To Grind :

Small rose onions : 4
Garlic : 3 cloves
Dry red chillies : 3 to 4

Homemade Special Curry Powder :

Coriander seeds : 1 1/4 tbsp
Fennel seeds : 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds : 1/8 tsp
Cinnamon stick : 1/4 piece
Cardamon : 1
Cloves : 1
Dry red chillies : 3

1. Dry roast all the ingredients for homemade special curry powder in a pan separately until light brown. Grind it to fine powder. This is a multipurpose powder which can be used in all vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.

2. Grind to smooth paste all the ingredients given under 'To Grind' section using little water.

3. Blanch all the vegetables in salted hot water for 10 minutes and later filter the water.

4. In a deep bottom pan, enough water is added along with salt and 1 tsp of oil. Bring the water to boil and start adding the dry spiral pasta. Cook for 3 minutes or till it is al dente or cooked to be firm to the bite. Drain off the excess water using a colander and rinse the pasta with running cold water. 

5.  In a pan, pour a tbsp of olive oil and when its hot, start frying the ground chilli paste and diced tomato till raw smell of chilli disappears and diced tomato turns mushy.

6. Add prawn, blanched veggies,  1 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp of special curry powder, salt, turmeric powder. Mix them well in the sauce and keeping cooking until the prawns are tender and veggies are slightly cooked without losing its natural colour.

7. Lastly, add cooked spiral pasta and give a quick toss. Cook for 5 minutes and switch off the flame. Garnish with chopped spring onions. Serve hot. 


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Spiced Vegetable Barley Porridge

             “Sending this entry to Ahlan Ramadan –The Healthy Way” 

'You Are What You Eat' is the commonly heard saying associated with proper way of eating that comprises balanced diet, drinking eight glasses of filtered water and regular exercises to ensure sustainable healthy lifestyle. Fast food restaurants are mushrooming around the big cities by promoting quick and easy way of eating for busy professionals and swiftly changing food culture with sudden emerge of sophisticated and luxurious way of cooking. People to be more creative and whimsical in their style of cooking which sometimes I perceive could cause hazardous to an individual's health. Continual practice of incorrect way of eating indeed could seriously affect ones health. Nevertheless, there are few inspiring sites taking more efforts in spreading health awareness and introduce the benefits of proper eating and cooking method which are commendable.

However, I'm more than exhilarated when Hasna, Huma and Rafeeda from Kachuss Delights, Gheza-e-Shiriin and The Big Sweet Tooth food blogs hosted "Ahlan Ramadan- The Healthy Way" from 25th June to 6th August, 2014 that opened a new doorway to venture every possibility of healthy cooking. Barley is a wonderful versatile cereal grain which I love to incorporate in my regular cooking when time constrain attacks. Barley uniquely has rich nutty like flavor, an appealing chewiness and pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color. Barley's insoluble fiber helps to keep the blood pressure level low, manages diabetes, prevents osteoporosis, gallstones, asthma and cancer. It also keeps colon and intestine in a healthy condition and immensely supports our immune system by eliminating harmful toxins and rejuvenate body from continuous heat. 

Below is my all time favorite Spiced Vegetable Barley Porridge that is packed with lots of nutrients and easy to whip up at short amount of time. I have added some spices and stock to elevate the taste of barley. Usually, I add diced sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, green peas or butter nut squash to this porridge but this time I keep it simple. The more vegetables you add to this porridge will not only add good flavor but also provide all the essential vitamins needed by the body. For protein, you could also add steamed chicken pieces or seafood of your choice. It's always comforting to have one pot meal with all the goodness and tasting great too. 

Spiced Vegetable Barley Porridge

Ingredients :

Small green chillies : 4 or as per your liking
Large ripe tomato : 1
Water : 5 cups
Chicken stock/mutton stock/vegetable stock : 2 cups or more
Cauliflower : 1 cup
Snow peas :9
Baby corns : 12
Spring onions or coriander leaves : 3 tbsp (for garnish)
Pearl barley : 2 handfuls
Yellow moong lentils : 1 handful
Kurma spice powder or biryani spice powder : 1 tsp or as per your liking
Black pepper powder : 1/2 tsp (optional but I have added as I like spicy food) 
Salt : as needed

To Grind  (coarse paste):

Small rose onions :6
Garlic : 3 cloves
Ginger : 1 inch

To Temper :

Cinnamon stick : 2 inches
Star anise : 1
Cloves : 2 
Olive oil : 1 tbsp

Method :

1. Soak barley and yellow moong lentils for 5 hours. After that, by adding 5 cups of water cook it in pressure cooker until the barley is soft and yellow moong lentils mashed slightly. Keep that aside.

2. Blanch cauliflower, snow peas and baby corns in salted hot water for 10 min. Then, discard the water and strain it well.

3. In a pan, when the olive oil is slightly hot, add all the ingredients under 'To Temper' section followed by ground ingredients under 'To Grind' section. Fry till the raw smell dissipates.

4. Now add slitted green chillies and diced tomato, fry them till the tomato is mashed well.

5. Chuck in blanched vegetables of your choice with a tsp of kurma or biryani spice powder, black pepper powder (optional), salt, cooked barley and lentils along with its water from the pressure cooker. You may also add 2 cups or more of chicken or mutton stock depending on how much liquid you prefer in your porridge. Taste for the seasoning and make necessary alteration if needed. 

6. Simmer gently on low flame for 10 minutes. Switch off the stove and garnish with chopped spring onions or coriander leaves.
Spiced Vegetable Barley Porridge


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Sago and Pumpkin in Sweet Coconut Milk

I had leftover pumpkin after using half of it for the Virtual Iftar Potluck. You know that I've made a Sri Lankan pumpkin curry out of it. Whenever, I took out something from the refrigerator, I could sense an eye watching every movement of mine closely. Then, I realized half piece of the pumpkin staring at me pitifully from the corner of the first rack in the fridge. If only the pumpkin could speak, then it would have shouted at me, "Hey! get me out of here". For two weeks it had been lying there and I had totally forgotten about it. When I was cracking my head for an inspiration, out of the blue came an idea at the speed of light of what I'm going to do with the last batch of the pumpkin. It's a Sago and Pumpkin in Sweet Coconut Milk. I love this dessert as I can control the quantity of sugar used and plus the pumpkin is already sweet enough to help me stick firm to my decision. Since, this the month of Ramadan, I thought the dessert would be refreshing and appealing to the palate. 

Sago and Pumpkin in Sweet Coconut Milk

 Ingredients :

Chopped pumpkin : 1 1/2 cups
Sago : 1 /4 cup
Screw pine leaves : 3 tied knot
Coconut milk : 1 cup to 2 cups
Palm Sugar/ Gula Melaka/ Deep brown sugar : as needed
Salt : a pinch

Method :

1. Chop the pumpkin to small cubes and measure to 1 1/2 cups. Boil it with enough water till they are cooked and soft. You may use the water itself later.

2. Boil sago separately in water till they become translucent and clear. The size of the sago will be doubled.

3. In a pan, add palm sugar with little water and let it dissolve on medium flame. Filter the impurities. Use the clean palm sugar syrup, screw pine leaves, a pinch of salt and pumpkin in the same pan. Stir them gently till pumpkin is nicely mashed with small bits and pieces. That's fine.

4. I prefer to use deep brown sugar or palm sugar but not Indian palm sugar called 'Jaggery' as the flavor overpower the dessert. I also didn't give measurement for sugar as you have to taste and add as much needed. 

5. Lastly, add  cooked sago and coconut milk. Let it simmer for 3 min and switch off the flame. Add more water if you find the dessert to be too thick or not enough of liquid.


Spicy, Sweet and Sour Mango Chutney

This Savory Mango Chutney can be served with any types of vegetarian dishes or non vegetarian biryani dishes. It's usually served in 2 tbsp proportion as a condiment for chicken or mutton biryani. Its rich because of the use of ghee, cashew nuts, raisins and sultanas. I had Indian mangoes which were slightly sour and sweet, so half of it I turned into mango yogurt drink as its a healthy choice of fruit based beverage. The last one piece was made into Spicy, Sweet and Sour Mango Chutney which I served with Mutton Biryani last Sunday when we had couple of guests from India. They relished the condiment and other dishes with lots of compliments but again one man's meat is another man's poison. It may be applicable to my palate. 

Spicy, Sweet and Sour Mango Chutney

Ingredients :

Small pearl onions : 6
Small fresh red chillies : 5
Mango (big size) : 1
Curry leaves : a sprig
Cashew nuts : 5
Raisins and Sultanas : a handful
Brown sugar : 3 tsp (adjust accordingly)
Turmeric powder : 1/8 tsp
Water : 1 cup
Salt : as needed

To Temper :

Ghee : 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds : 1 tsp
Urad dal : 1 tsp
Dry red chillies : 2

Method :

1. In a pan, with little ghee fry the cashew nuts and crush them into tiny pieces. Keep aside.

2. In a same pan, add 2 tbsp ghee and start tempering the ingredients mentioned under 'To Temper' section. Mustard should sputter and urad dal must turn light brown.

3. Then, add finely chopped small onions and fresh red chillies fry till the onions are translucent.

4. After that, add peeled and seeded  mango which has been chopped to small size, curry leaves, brown sugar, raisins and sultanas, cashew nuts, turmeric powder and salt. 

5. Check for the sweet, heat and sourness and adjust according to your taste bud. I didn't add much sugar as raisins and sultanas give natural sweetness to the chutney.

6.  Add 1 cup of water, keep cooking the mixture till it thickens up and mango pieces dissolve properly. 



Monday, 14 July 2014

Chettinad Mandi or Indian Style Lady Finger Stew

Chettinad Mandi or sort of like a spicy vegetables stew is a popular vegetarian dish in South India. My mother used to make this dish whenever mutton varuval or dry fried mutton is made at the weekends. It's a spicy and tangy concoction which can be prepared by using lady finger, potato, carrot, drumstick vegetable and dried legume called 'Mochakottai' in Tamil. The gravy is thicken by adding 'Arisi Mandi' or  'Washed rice water'. This rice water is rich in vitamin B and it thickens naturally, unlike the rice or cornflour which leaves flour taste. I didn't use that legume this time in my recipe. If you prefer to use that type of legume, then you have to soak it for 5 hours and later pressure cook it in advance. The legume is also called as 'Egyptian bean'. These beans can be brown, reddish-brown, or cream colored, and they're easily identified by a white seed scar which runs along one edge.  They have a pleasant nutty flavor. Even without the legumes this dish will still be the star on your dining table. 

Chettinad Mandi

 Ingredients :

Small onions : 15 (slitted half)
Garlic : 15 cloves
Chopped lady fingers : 1 1/2 to 2 cups
Small green chillies : 7
Potato : 1
Drumsticks : 2 
Curry leaves : 2 sprig
Tamarind : size of a small lime
Coriander powder : 2 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder : 1/4 tsp
Washed rice water : 2 cups
Salt : as needed
Oil : 3 tbsp

To Temper :

Mustard : 1 tsp
Fenugreek : 1/2 tsp
Dry red chillies : 5
Asofetida : 1/4 tsp

Method :

1. In a pan, add 2tbsp of oil and start frying the chopped lady fingers for 10 minutes till the sticky substance removed from it. Then keep aside.

2. Roughly dice the potatoes and boil it. Keep aside as well. 

3. The drumsticks should be cut to 3 inches long and boiled to perfection.

4. When you wash the rice, do not throw away the water. Use that water in this dish. We need  2 cups of it.

5. Soak tamarind in 1 cup of water and squeeze the extract.

6. In a pan, add 1 tbsp of oil and start tempering the ingredients under 'To Temper' section. Make sure you allow the mustard seeds to sputter before adding the rest of the ingredients.

7. Next, fry small onions, garlic pods, curry leaves and slitted green chillies  till the onions are translucent.

8. After that, add coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt, 2 cups of 'Arisi Mandi' and 1 cup of tamarind extracted water. Water can be added if vegetables are not fully submerged but remember not to add too much of water.

9. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.

10. Lastly, add fried lady fingers, boiled potato and drumsticks and further cook for 10 to 15 minutes. 

10. The consistency of the gravy should be slightly thick and not too watery. 


Indian Style Tomato and Cauliflower Soup

Nothing is so comforting than a big bowl of Indian Style Tomato Soup served with plain rice. It's a versatile dish as it complements well with any stir fried vegetables or fried fish. The dish tastes superb whenever cooked with extra love. You may have tried various type of soup recipes but I can assure that this family recipe indeed a keeper and will definitely change your perception on how a humble bowl of soup could create a magic. I paired the hearty Tomato and Cauliflower Soup with piping hot plain rice and fried fish. 

Indian Style Tomato and Cauliflower Soup


Small onions : 6
Large ripe tomatoes : 3
Cauliflower : 1 1/2 to 2 cups
Small green chillies : 4 to 5
Cooked yellow moong dal : 1/4 cup
Coriander leaves : a small bunch
Turmeric powder : 1/4 tsp
Water : 3 1/2 cups 
Oil : 1 tbsp
Salt : as needed 

To Temper :

Cinnamon stick : 1
Cloves : 6
Fennel seeds : 1 tsp
Whole black peppercorns : 1/2 tsp

Method :

1. Blanch the cauliflower in a hot salted water for 10 minutes. Later remove the water and keep aside.

2. In a pan, add a tbsp of oil. After the oil is slightly hot, temper all the ingredients under "To Temper" section. The colour of fennel seeds should change to light brown.

3. Then, fry sliced onions till translucent and immediately continue the frying process with slitted green chillies, finely chopped tomatoes and salt.

4. After the tomatoes turn mushy and well cooked, now mix cooked yellow moong lentils which has been mashed well, turmeric powder, cauliflower and 3 1/2 cups of water.

5. Let it simmer for 10 -15 minutes.

6. Switch off the flame and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.