Cook's Hideout: March 2014

March 31, 2014

Iranian Jeweled Rice (Vegan recipe)

For this month's International Cooking Challenge, our host Savitha Ramesh @ Savitha's Kitchen has taken us on a culinary tour of Persia/ Iran. Iranian cuisine or Persian cuisine refers to the traditional and modern styles of cooking related to Iran. Situated in the Middle East, the Iranian culinary style is unique to Iran, but it has been influenced by Iran's neighbouring regions at various stages throughout its history.
Many foods famously associated with Middle Eastern, and indeed World cuisine have their origins in Iran, such as kebab and ice cream. Fresh green herbs are frequently used along with fruits such as plums, pomegranates, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins. Typical Persian main dishes are combination of rice with meat, lamb, chicken, or fish and some onion, vegetables, nuts, and herbs. To achieve a balanced taste, characteristic Persian flavorings such as saffron, dried limes, cinnamon, and parsley are mixed delicately and used in some special dishes.
Iranian Jeweled Rice (Vegan recipe)
I made this very flavorful and colorful Iranian Jeweled Rice. It is sweet, nutty and very aromatic. I'm lucky to live in an area that is close to good Turkish/ middle eastern groceries and I have access to good quality ingredients. I bought orange blossom water on one of my so-called 'window' shopping days, which was put to good use in this recipe.

March 29, 2014

Usirikaya Pulihora (Tangy Gooseberry Rice)

Pulihora is a quintessential dish that is made on any festival in most of South Indian homes. Usually tamarind and lemon pulihora are very common in my household. I've tried pulihora with different ingredients like, gonguracranberries and broccoli before.
Usirikaya Pulihora (Tangy Gooseberry Rice)
I saw the recipe for Usirikaya/ gooseberry pulihora on a Telugu cooking show and thought this would be great to make for Ugadhi. I bought a bag of frozen gooseberries and used them to make this pulihora.

March 28, 2014

Instant Vada (using Urad dal flour)

Ugadhi (Telugu New Year) is right around the corner (March 31, 2014) and I wanted to post some quick and easy dishes to make for the festival. If you are like me who forget to soak urad dal but still dream of making idlis/ dosas or vadas, then this post is right for you!! These vadas use urad dal flour instead of whole urad and they can be made in about 2~3hours which includes a brief resting period.
Instant Vada (using Urad dal flour)
Apart from the forgetfulness, another reason for making these vadas using urad flour is that most of the American blenders are not powerful enough to grind the lentils without adding copious amounts of water. Adding water is OK for most of the recipes, but for vadas the batter needs to be very thick and smooth with little or no water added during grinding. So that's where the flour comes in very handy.

March 26, 2014

Dimer Dalna (Bengali Egg & Potato Curry)

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 4/ Day 3
Theme: Revisiting Recipes
Dish: Dimer Dalna (Bengali Egg & Potato Curry)
It was a little difficult to choose just 3 dishes to revisit for this week's BM. With 900+ recipes on the blog and over half of them taken with no sense of style or knowledge of lighting, it became an impossible task to pick the ones that needed the most TLC.
In the end I decided to make dishes with the ingredients that I had on hand. So for the last day of this month's marathon, I made this Bengali egg & potato curry, Dimer Dalna, because I had some boiled eggs (which happen to be my kids favorite) and boiled potatoes in the fridge and this seemed to a tasty way to combine both the ingredients.
Dimer Dalna (Bengali Egg & Potato Curry)
I am going to keep the post short because I'm getting really nervous about the upcoming month long  mega marathon like a student preparing for final exams. Even though almost all the dishes are cooked and clicked, I still have to start working on the posts. Hopefully I'll be done drafting my posts soon.

March 25, 2014

Pad Thai (Vegan Recipe)

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 4/ Day 2
Theme: Revisiting Recipes
Dish: Pad Thai
Today I'm revisiting one of my favorite noodle dish, Pad Thai. Recipe is from the cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra. It is a simple recipe, but it sure needs some preparations to be done. Once all the veggies are chopped and the sauce is made, dish gets done in no time. 
Pad Thai (Vegan Recipe)
Below recipe serves 2, if you are planning to make this for a crowd, then multiply the ingredients according. Make the sauce in bulk, but assemble the noodles only 2 servings at a time and serve immediately.  

March 24, 2014

Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 4/ Day 1
Theme: Revisiting Recipes
Dish: Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables
We are starting the final week of blogging marathon# 38 today and I chose a relatively simple theme. I am going to be revisiting some of my old posts and updating them with new pictures. 
Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables
Today I am updating my hearty and healthy Farro salad with roasted vegetables post. I don't know what I was thinking when I was taking those pictures, I used my used pizza stone with stains on them which wasn't the best of backgrounds to use. So here is a simple salad with some updated pictures. 

March 21, 2014

Coconut Ceviche (Vegan Recipe)

I used to love watching Food Network. But with kids running around it has become almost impossible to watch any TV. Now a days I found the best time to watch my favorite channel is when I'm folding the laundry. So during one of my laundry folding session, I saw a new cooking show on Cooking Channel. It's called 'How to Live to 100' with Jason Wrobel as the host. I really liked the way how the host took a ingredient, transformed it into 3~4 different dishes and then talked about the benefits of using the ingredient.
Coconut Ceviche (Vegan Recipe)
In the episode I watched, Jason took Coconut as the ingredient and made this Vegan Ceviche using flesh from young coconut. It sounded delicious and looked pretty easy to make. So on my next grocery trip, I bought a young coconut and made this right away. It tasted great with tortilla chips or just as is.

Fabulous Feast Friday# 7

Welcome to this week’s edition of Fabulous Feast Friday. What are you feasting on this weekend? Join the Link Up Party so we can all feast with you! 

My blogger friends and I have teamed up so that every week there are two link up parties – One for Vegetarian Recipes ONLY and one for All Recipes. Vegetarian Recipes can link up to both parties. 

Let’s meet the team:
This week’s hosts are me for 100% Vegetarian recipes and Usha for any and all recipes.

There’s only a few simple steps to join the party: 
• Your post must include a recipe with at least one photo. 

• You must follow all of the Hosting Team on one social media platform, per your preference. 
o Srivalli Twitter Facebook Pinterest 

• Please insert our logo either in the post or somewhere on your site. 
• Add your post using the Linky Tool below. 

• Support each other by visiting and commenting on a few blogs. Vote for your favorite recipes of the week. Each week the top 3 recipes will be featured.

March 19, 2014

Potato Latkes (Eggless vegan recipe) with Chunky Applesauce

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 3/ Day 3
Theme: One Dish, Different Countries
Dish: Iranian/ Jewish -- Potato Latkes
When I signed up for this theme I actually wanted to make dumplings from 3 different countries. I even narrowed my dishes to Chinese dumplings, Italian gnocchi and Indian samosas. But with the impending month long mega marathon these dishes seemed too much work and had to change my choice.
Potato Latkes (Eggless vegan recipe)
Then one day my son came back home and asked me if I had ever made latkes. He said they read a book in school that mentioned about latkes and he wanted me to make them for him. Then I realized I could make pancakes for this week's marathon -- 2 birds at 1 shot.

March 18, 2014

Malaysian Apam Balik (Crispy Malaysian Pancakes) -- Eggless Recipe

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 3/ Day 2
Theme: One Dish, Different Countries
Dish: Malaysia -- Apam Balik
Day 2 of BM# 38 and today I've Malaysian sweet pancakes for you. Apam Balik is a crispy thin pancake that is usually filled with sweetened peanuts. These are usually sold at specialist roadside stalls throughout Malaysia.
Watch this video to see how expertly the guy makes apam balik. I especially like the technique he uses to take them off the pan.
Malaysian Apam Balik (Crispy Malaysian Pancakes)
Traditionally these pancakes are made in brass molds since brass distributes heat evenly and the metal itself is thick and heavy, so food does not scald that easily. This post has clear pictures of the brass molds used to make Apam Balik. I don't own brass pans and have no plans of buying them, so I used a nonstick pan to do the job. After looking all those gorgeous looking pancakes, mine didn't turn out as golden and crispy in the pictures, but they tasted great.

March 17, 2014

Kimchi Pancakes (Kimchijeon) -- Vegan recipe

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 3/ Day 1
Theme: One Dish, Different Countries
Dish: Korea -- Kimchi Pancakes
Being a food blogger, I am always looking for new dishes to make. I rarely repeat or make the same dish again unless it is an everyday dish that the family is used to. My husband was saying the other day I cook for the blog and not for them. Mmmmm, I think I'm guilty of doing that, but I don't usually comment when he says that because I need my taste-testers happy and not grumpy.
Kimchi Pancakes (Kimchijeon)
Talking about new dishes, when I made this Kimchi -- I wasn't actually sure what to use it in. Then I found Kimchi fried rice recipe which I really liked. But as I said before, repeating dishes is something that happens very rarely, I looked for something else to make with kimchi and I found these Kimchi pancakes on the Kitchn and they seemed simple and easy to make with just a few ingredients.

March 15, 2014

Instant Mango Pickle with Mustard & Jaggery for ICC

This month's Indian Cooking Challenge is a quick and easy to make 'Instant Mango Pickle with Mango & Jaggery'. Varada shared her mom's pickle recipe for all of us to try.
Instant Mango Pickle with Mustard & JaggeryInstant Mango Pickle with Mustard & Jaggery
I made it yesterday and it tasted great. I made panchadhara avakaya with sugar and roasted mustard and fenugreek seeds. But this pickle has jaggery for sweetness and the spices used are not roasted. The pickle was not overly sweet, it is subtly sweet and you can definitely taste it in the background but it is not overwhelming. My husband's been eating it for every meal since I made it :-)

March 14, 2014

Potato-Jackfruit seed Kurma

One of the few dishes that I didn't like growing up was 'kurma'. I don't know why, but the combination of yogurt and coconut was not too appealing for me. Being a good kid (ahem..) I would eat it without protesting, but I was never happy eating it. That is a big reason why I don't make kurmas that often in my kitchen.
But nowadays kurmas are being made without yogurt and when I saw this recipe with yogurt on a Telugu cooking show, I knew I would like this version. 
Potato-Jackfruit seed Kurma
Recipe uses jackfruit seeds along with potato. I've never used jackfruit seeds before and when I saw the frozen ones in the Indian store, I was super excited to try them. They didn't taste much of anything raw, but absorb the flavors of the curry and were quite tasty in the curry. Infact my diners didn't even make out that there was a new ingredient in the dish. I served the kurma with this Udupi Vegetable Pulao and it was a delicious combination.

March 12, 2014

Broccoli, Rice & Cheese Casserole

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 2/ Day 3
Theme: Gourmet Rice Dishes 
Dish: Broccoli Rice & Cheese Casserole
Today's rice dish is a kid friendly dish that my 18 month old really enjoyed a lot. She loves broccoli and cheese, so this was a perfect dish for her to enjoy.
Broccoli, Rice & Cheese Casserole
When my husband's away traveling and when I have to cook for just me and the little one, I look for dishes that are both easy to make and kid friendly. Rice is cooked along with broccoli and cheese, then baked off in the oven to get the crispy crust.

March 11, 2014

Udupi Vegetable Pulao

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 2/ Day 2
Theme: Gourmet Rice Dishes 
Dish: Udupi Vegetable Pulao
For day 2 of BM# 38, I made this flavorful Udupi Vegetable Pulao. I saw this dish being made on a Telugu cooking show and really liked the coconut based spice/ masala paste that is added to the veggies. This is a one pot dish that is sure to wow everyone.
Udupi Vegetable Pulao

March 10, 2014

Basic French Macarons -- My First Attempt

French Macarons have been on my to-bake list for a very very long time. Macaron is a meringue based confection made with egg whites, almond flour and powdered sugar. I have never tasted macarons, but saw a lot of them on various blogs. I read that macarons are very temperamental and there are a lot of variables that can go wrong while making them. So even though  I was tempted to make them, I never actually tried for the fear of failure.
Basic French Macarons -- My First Attempt
When I saw them for this month's Home Baker's Challenge, I thought this might be time to give them a try. Big thanks to Sri Nuggehalli @ The Brave Cook, the host for this month's challenge.

Poblano Corn Rice

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 2/ Day 1 
Theme: Gourmet Rice Dishes 
Dish: Poblano-Corn Rice 
We are starting our 2nd week of Blogging marathon today and my theme for this week is 'Gourmet Rice Dishes'. Valli wanted us to prepare rice dishes that are special and different from regular rice dishes. So for the next three days, I'm going to post 3 rice dishes that are slightly different and can be made for for company as well.
Poblano Corn Rice
I wanted to try poblano & corn combination after making this baked mac & cheese I made for last month's BM. After tasting the pasta I really liked the green sauce and since my husband doesn't like mac & cheese, I wanted him to taste the flavors in a rice dish instead of the cheesy pasta. The dish turned out pretty good.

March 08, 2014

Mor Rasam (Buttermilk Rasam)

This is one recipe that I have been wanting to make for quite some time now. When my yogurt-phobic husband is around, I usually stay away from yogurt based recipes. But when he's traveling, I go all out making my favorite foods.
 Mor Rasam (Buttermilk Rasam)
On one such occasion when my husband was away, I made this mor rasam. Adding dal to with buttermilk to make rasam is new to me.It turned out delicious -- goes perfect with some steamed rice. Recipe is from Chandra Padmanabhan's Dakshin.

March 07, 2014

Homemade Bread Bowls for Soups

King Arthur site is my favorite place to look for baking recipes. They have fool proof recipes and almost everything I have baked from there have been a success. So if you are a beginning baker, then start your search in the King Arthur site and I'm sure you will slowly gain confidence in your baking skills.
Homemade Bread Bowls for Soups
I made these homemade bread bowls to serve the broccoli-cheese soup.This recipe makes buns that are perfect to serve soup for 1 -- not too big and not too small. They are also soft and great to eat just as is. Make the buns smaller -- may be 8~10 instead of 6, skip the dried thyme and you have great dinner rolls or even breakfast rolls. They taste awesome with a smear of soft butter and if you are like my son, then spread some Nutella.

March 05, 2014

Broccoli Cheese Soup in Bread Bowl

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 1/ Day 3
Theme: Soup or Salad with Sides 
Dish: Broccoli Cheese Soup in Bread Bowl
Today I have a very hearty and creamy broccoli soup served in a bread bowl for Blogging marathon. Soup is another dish I would not order when we eat outside. I consider it more of an appetizer and not real food :-)
I do order broccoli-cheese soup once in a while just because I like it. I have tried it at a few places and except for a couple of restaurants, the soup is usually overpowered by the cheese or the cream. Usually broccoli is the last flavor that you taste.
Broccoli Cheese Soup in Bread Bowl
Recently I got America's Test Kitchen newsletter with the recipe for Broccoli-cheese soup. The experts at ATK say overcooking the broccoli brings out all the flavor out of it and adding baking soda to the cooking water speeds up the cooking process. They also add some spinach which brightens the soup's bright-green color and enhances its vegetable flavor. Finally adding the cheddar and parmesan gave the soup the cheesy flavor without making it heavy.

March 04, 2014

Salad with Black beans & Corn and Citrus Blasamic Vinaigrette

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 1/ Day 2
Theme: Soup or Salad with Sides 
Dish: Salad with Black beans & Corn with Cheese Quesadilla
For Day 2 of BM# 38, I have a simple salad served with cheese quesadilla. This salad is inspired from a dish that is on Chili's menu -- Quesadilla explosion Salad. We were at Chili's couple of weeks ago and saw it on the menu, though I didn't order it. Not sure if I already told you, I don't order salads when we go out. I feel like I have to eat actual food and not salads at restaurants. In my mind, I think I can make salads at home and don't want to spend money on a salad at a sit down restaurant.
Salad with Black beans & Corn and Citrus Blasamic Vinaigrette
Well anyway, coming back to the Quesadilla explosion salad; I googled for the recipe and found that it is one of the unhealthiest salads served at a restaurant. It has a full day worth of salt and ¾of the day's worth calories. It made me feel even better because you would think ordering salad is a good thing -- but apparently it's not such a good thing afterall.

March 03, 2014

Refrigerator Soup

Blogging Marathon# 38: Week 1/ Day 1 
Theme: Soup or Salad with Sides 
Dish: Refrigerator Soup with Zucchini Tortilla/ Omelette 
It's time for another blogging marathon, BM# 38 and my theme for this week is 'Soup or Salad with Sides'. Valli wants us to pair soups or salads with a side dish. So for the first day I made a very simple soup. 'Very simple' is the key word here, you might actually feel cheated when you read the recipe, it is THAT simple.
March is already here, but winter with bitter cold decided to stick around for a little too long this year in our neck of woods. This season's 13th storm is on its way as I type this post -- but thankfully it's only going to 1~2" of snow instead of the 8~12" as predicted.
Refrigerator Soup
With that weather report, you know why I have a soup recipe today. That too a super simple one. I was watching the Rachael Ray show the other day and saw Jacques Pepin make his refrigerator soup. It sounded so comforting and perfect to eat in this weather, so I made it the very next day with whatever veggies I had in the fridge.

March 01, 2014

Dal Kootu (Poritha Kootu)

Dal is something that is made almost every other day in my household. Not just my home, but that is the case in almost every Indian households. Lentils form one of the main source of protein to vegetarians. I am always looking for new ways of making the same old pappu/ dal.
My everyday dals are usually very simple like this tomato pappu or this palakura pappu. But occasionally I do make kootu where dal is cooked with vegetables and coconut-peppercorn masala paste. My mom learned it from a Tamil neighbor.
Dal Kootu (Poritha Kootu)
Today's recipe is from the cookbook, Dakshin by Chandra Padmanabhan. Masala pasta is almost similar to what my mom makes, but the addition of mixed vegetables was interesting to me. This is a perfect recipe to make when you have those odds and ends of veggies in the fridge that need to be used up. Any combination of veggies can be used here -- apart from the ones I have used potato, zucchini, cauliflower can also be added to the kootu.


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