Cook's Hideout: June 2008

June 30, 2008

JFI-Tamarind: Besan Chikki

My second recipe is for this month’s JFI, being hosted by Sig of Live to Eat. I’m revisiting one of my husband’s favorite, Besan Chikki for JFI-Tamarind. My MIL made it on demand and it was just awesome. I can never make it the same way she does even with the recipe on hand. Here’s the recipe.

For Chikkis:
Besan – 1 cup (sifted)
Green Chilies – 3-4, chopped fine
Curry leaves – 3-4
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Salt – to taste
For Gravy:
Onion – 1 small, chopped
Tamarind pulp – ¼ cup thick home made kind
Fenugreek powder – ½ tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – ½ tsp
Red chili powder – 1tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste

  • To make besan chikki: Fry besan in a pan on medium-low flame, until it turns golden and does not smell raw anymore. Remove and keep aside.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil, add mustards and cumin seeds; after they pop, add chilies, turmeric and curry leaves.
  • Add 1¼ cups water and let it come to a simmer. Slowly add the fried besan and mix thoroughly making sure that there are no lumps. Keep stirring until the mixture comes away from the sides. Remove onto a greased plate, cut into squares and let cool.
  • For the gravy: Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and after they splutter, add onions and sauté till light brown. Add tamarind pulp and ½ cup water. Add all the remaining ingredients and on a slow flame, bring the gravy to a simmer, about 15 minutes. Add the besan squares and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Serve with rice or roti.

Phool Makhani Curry

I’m posting two recipes today to send them off to two events. This first one is for Open Sesame 2nd Edition. Choose a box, get a riddle, solve the riddle and post a recipe with the ingredient were the rules of Open Sesame. I thought it sounded like fun and I sent an email to Siri for my riddle. I flunked my first try, but got it right the second time. Here’s the riddle (for Box 2).

I am a flower but adorn a bouquet, I do not
I have an inbuilt perfume in my being
So strong and so intense that my oil will make your insides 'hot'
My medical impact all over the world seen.

My 'Yorubas' infusion is the 'savior' of star wars
I have been used as a barter by the fellow 'sadiqi's' during trades
One does not have to fight tooth or 'nail' for me
I am usually pink but mostly available browned in shades

I may be dry , I may overpower your tongue
But add a little for that midas touch
Come now, start thinking of that spice
Whose bite make your 'teeth' say Ouch!

My first guess was “Peppercorn” which was wrong and costed me 5 points. Second was correct and the answer is CLOVES.

Thanks to Siri and Dhivya for this very unique blog event.

For the recipe, my MIL made Phool Makhani Curry with spicy clove masala. I never had phool makhani before, they look like big pop corn, but they are actually popped lotus seeds. They are pretty bland to begin with, but absorb any and all the flavors that you add.

Phool Makhani – 2 cups
Onion – 1 medium, roughly chopped
Green chilies – 3
Coriander leaves – ¼ cup
Tomatoes – 2 medium chopped
Red Chili powder – ½ tsp (or to taste)
Salt – to taste

For the masala:
Cloves – 6
Cinnamon stick – ½“ piece
Whole Cardamom – 1

  • Grind the masala ingredients into a smooth powder in a spice blender.
  • Blend onions, green chilies and coriander leaves into a smooth paste.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan; add the makhanas and sauté till they turn slightly brown on all sides. (These fried makhanas can be eaten as is with a sprinkle of salt and pepper).
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, add the onion paste and fry till it turns golden. Add tomatoes, ground masala, red chili powder and salt; cover and cook for 5-8 minutes, till tomatoes turn into a mush.
  • Add fried makhanas and mix well. Add ½ - 1 cup water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Makhanas absorb the gravy and shrink in size. They looked like chole after done.

One last thing to mention is my first award ever, Trupti of Recipe Center gave me ‘Rockin Girl blogger’ award. Thank you so much Trupti for passing me this award.

June 24, 2008

Maida Puri with Aloo Kurma

My in-laws are visiting us from India and we are having a great time eating yummy snacks and food for the past 2 weeks. My MIL made these puris, they are similar to baturas but much faster to make.

Maida (All purpose flour) – 1 cup
Sooji (semolina) – ¼ cup
Salt – pinch
Oil – 3tbsp

  • Mix maida, sooji and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
  • Add warm oil to the well, slowly mix in the flour. Add water as needed and make firm dough (thicker than chapathi dough). Cover and set aside for 10-15minutes.
  • Roll out into 4”-5” diameter puris. Deep fry until golden and remove onto paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve hot with any curry.
We had our puris with this is a quick and easy kurma that my MIL made.

Aloo Kurma:
Potatoes – 3, medium, chopped into bite size pieces
Onion – 1 medium, roughly chopped
Green chilies – 4 medium
Coconut milk – ½ cup
Coriander leaves – ½ cup
Mint leaves - 1/4 cup
Ginger – 1”piece
Garlic – 2 cloves
Yogurt - 2tbsp
Salt - to taste

  • Grind onions, chilies, ginger, garlic, coriander and mint into a smooth paste.
  • Add 1tbsp oil in a pressure cooker, add the onion paste and sauté till slightly golden. Add potato, sauté for 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, yogurt, salt and 1cup water. Cover and cook for 2 whistles. Serve with puris.

June 10, 2008

Brown Rice – Puy Lentil Khichdi

This is my twist on classic moong dal khichdi and it was really really good. Puy lentils or French lentils are nutty and flavorful. They don’t have to be soaked before hand and their cooking time is same as brown rice.
You can definitely make this in the pressure cooker, but I prefer the closed pot cooking method.

Brown Rice – 1 cup
Puy Lentils/ French lentils – ½ cup
Ginger – 1” piece, minced fine
Onion – 1 small, chopped
Green chilies – 3
Red Chilies – 2
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Salt & Pepper – to taste

  • Heat 2 tsp oil in a heavy bottom pan, add cumin seeds, red chilies, ginger and sauté for few second.
  • Add onions and chilies; sauté for couple of minutes.
  • Add rice, lentils, salt and pepper along with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook covered for 25-30 minutes.
  • Serve hot with raita.

June 05, 2008

Pumpkin Cake

I made this last week for welcome breakfast we had for my department director who was coming back from medical leave. She had ovarian cancer and had been on chemo for the past 6 months. She looks great now (even though she lost all her hair, she’s jazzing it up with fancy bandanas). She has a very positive attitude and I think that is what made her fight cancer successfully. So to celebrate her return all of us brought goodies for breakfast.
I made this pumpkin bundt cake from vegetarian times magazine. It’s a little healthy with whole wheat flour and soy milk, but not so healthy with butter. But why to count calories and fat when you are celebrating. This is the exact recipe from Vegetarian times.

All-purpose flour – 2 cups
Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
Baking powder – 2tsp
Baking Soda- 1 tsp
Salt – ¼ tsp
Ground Cinnamon – 4tsp (I used only 2.5tsp)
Ground Nutmeg – 1 tsp
Canned Pumpkin puree – 1 cup
Buttermilk – 1cup (I used soy milk instead)
Oil – ½ cup (I used melted butter)
Vanilla essence – 2tbsp
Eggs- 2
Sugar – ½ cup
Brown Sugar – 1 cup

Orange Glaze:
Orange juice – 2tbsp
Confectioner’s sugar – 1cup
Vanilla essence – ½ tsp


  • Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease a bundt pan (I used 9”x11” baking pan instead).
  • In a bowl, mix flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • In a small bowl, mix pumpkin puree, buttermilk, oil and vanilla essence.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugars till the mixture turns light and thick, about 3-5 minutes.
  • With a rubber spatula, alternatively fold in flour and pumpkin mixtures, making 3 flour additions and 2 pumpkin additions.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove onto a wire rack to completely cool.
  • For the glaze: Sift confectioners’ sugar into medium bowl. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon orange juice; whisk to blend. Gradually add just enough additional orange juice until glaze is smooth and thick yet pourable. Slowly spoon glaze over cake, letting it drip down sides. Glaze was so yummy; I was licking the bowl like a little kid. Hehehehe.


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