October 01, 2015

Making fruit roll ups for new school year

Making fruit roll ups

Lil A is settling in kindergarten and Tiny M is not full time in daycare/pre-school. They are settling down well. They come home with stories of what they did, who their new buddies are and what was the fun part of the day. They also come home tired and sometimes cranky.

What worked in pre-school for Lil A doesn't work anymore. So I have been looking for snack and or lunch ideas for them.

It was during this time, I came across the idea of making a fruit roll up for snack. It's rather simple. The first time they tasted, they didn't like it. But I think it is growing on them.

I also popped some pop corn at home. Add a little bit of coconut oil with the kernels and you will be amazed at how crisp the popcorn is. I loved it and so did Tiny M. I think we finished the first batch between us :)

Here is the recipe for the fruit roll up.

4 plums halved (I used plums, but really you can make it with anything, strawberries to pears)
2 tbspoon water

Heat the oven to 350degF and bake the halved plums for 20 minutes or so till they cook.

Take the peel off and mash them with your hands and add it in the blender with sugar and little bit water. The lesser the water, the quicker the roll up will dry.

Making fruit roll ups
Take a parchment paper and put it over a tray and add the pureed plums on a thin layer. This is where it can be tricky. You want a layer, not too thin, not too thick and you can see I'm still working on it.

If you have a dehydrator, put this in. I didn't and the lowest my oven goes is 170 deg F. So I put it in 170 deg F and added a wooden spatula at the door to keep it open. I kept it in the oven for 90 minutes and then let it dry outside overnight. It was ready in the morning. The middle took till afternoon to dry completely.

Making fruit roll ups
It's ready. Cut long strips and enjoy!

September 23, 2015

Lau er shukto in the middle of a move

Lau er shukto

The last week before the move was particularly hectic. We were trying to get the new house clean and set up the kitchen before the movers came. Having parents who would spend time with the kids, and also have a delicious hot meal when one comes home tired and sweaty was a blessing.

It becomes even more special when when my mother made this lau-er shukto. Eating it with hot rice,  I had to ask her the recipe and note it down for the blog.

She said that typically this dish is made with shiuli leaves, which are bitter. Since we didn't have it, we substituted it with  karela or bitter melon.

The bori (lentil dumplings) in this are usually matar dal er bori and again, I substituted it with regular ones that were in the pantry.

It makes for the perfect first course.

1 medium sized opo squash (lau) chopped in 1" cubes
1 bitter melon- sliced thinly
8-10 bori (lentil dumplings)

1/2 tspoon mustard and fenugreek seeds
1 tspoon ginger grated
1 tspoon poppy seeds and 1/2 tspoon mustard seeds - for paste
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tspoon sugar
salt to taste
4 tbspoon oil

Soak the chopped squash in water.

Fry the bittermelon or karela and the bori (lentil dumplings) and keep it aside.

Heat oil in a deep pan and then temper it with fenugreek and mustard seeds. Then add the ginger paste. Immediately after add the lau/squash.

Add salt and stir, the cook it with closed lid for 5-7 minutes. Then add the poppy seed, mustard paste and the sugar.

Lau er shukto

Add 2-4 tbspoon water if necessary. At the same time add the karela and the bori and cook it in medium heat till the squash is cooked.

Serve with rice at room temperature.

August 31, 2015

When summer gives you tomatoes, make tomato bharta

Tomato Bharta

It was hard for me to give up my little veggie patch in my old home, but was thrilled to find a little patch in the new place as well.

The previous owners had planted just tomatoes and when we moved in the tomatoes were starting to ripen. Since then we have been harvesting some tomatoes every week.

I recently posted on Facebook asking for recipes for using some of the tomatoes and one of the readers - Christina Roy- posted a recipe for Tomato bharta.

I tweaked it a little bit by roasting the tomatoes and the garlic, caramelizing the onions separately and then mixing it all together.

The outcome was amazing.

We used the bharta as a dip for a cocktail party we recently hosted for a friend's wedding. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the party, but here is the menu:

Cold platters
Bread and crackers with dips - spianch and artichoke dip, red pepepr hummus, cilantro dip, tomato bharta dip, roasted eggplant and olives
Veggie chips with salsa and guacamole
Smoked salmon
Watermelon salad
Tabouli Salad
Cheese platter with grapes

Hot platters
Steamed chicken and veggie dumplings
Veggie spring rolls
Veggie bites
Chicken meatballs

Dessert platters 
Berry mix
Peach and Cantaloupe plates
Lemon bites
Brownie bites, and
Mini ice-cream cones

We used the leftover during the weekend with eggs for breakfast and it was really really good.

Here is how to do it:

 4-5 big, ripe tomatoes halved
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 small onion sliced thinly
salt and pepper to taste
I tspoon fresh cilantro chopped
2 tbspoon olive oil for tomatoes
another 2 tbspoon oil + 1/2 tspoon ghee for onions

Tomato Bharta Cut the tomatoes in half and peel the garlic and smother them in olive oil.

Heat the oven to 400deg F and bake it for good 30-40 minutes.

In the meantime, caramelize the onions on medium low heat till it turn oft and golden brown. Add the ghee only at the end, saute for another 2-3 minutes and then take it off the heat.

Mash the tomatoes with your hand, mushing the pulp and removing the skin. Chop the roasted garlic and add that and the onions. Now add salt and pepper to taste, the cilantro and mix it all together.

Tomato Bharta
Serve with bread, crackers or cheese. It goes well with everything.

Thank you Christina, I am sure to make it again and again!

August 18, 2015

Thank you kitchen!

It was unusually quiet on the blog last month, but it was frantic at home. Things flying, toys being put in boxes. Spices, food jars, some that even I didn't recognize, being evaluated to see if they would be moving.

Yes, we're moving houses, moving the kitchen one house to another in Ann Arbor.

Before we pack our bags and move, I want to say thank you to my kitchen that has sustained us for six years.

This is place where I brought my two sons home, pureed, mashed, froze and fed them their first baby food. This is the place where cupcakes, cakes and popsicles were conceived, experimented, baked and eaten.

This is the place we called home, with crayon marks on the wall, scrape marks from bumps and toys; with familiar corners, comfort zones and mess. Yes, it was a warm, messy house. 

It was our first house, so it was very special. It was made all the more special because my MIL and my parents shared recipes, cooked our favorite dishes in this kitchen, recipes that I've noted down and shared on the blog.

It has seen friends and family come together for quick meals, impromptu get togethers and festival dinners.

In short, it has sustained us, fed us and nourished us year after year.

Now it's time to say goodbye and set up in the new place.

The next recipes will be coming from the new kitchen. We can only hope that the new place will  nurture and adapt us too and bring joy, learning and comfort as the previous one did.

August 04, 2015

Making moong dal murukku at home

Making murukku from scratch

My kids love murukku or chakli. It's a snack Aswin grew up with and I discovered during my college days. So it's a household favorite. Every grocery trip to the Indian store, we pick up a few packs.

My five-year-old's taste has evolved from hesitating to take a few bites to now crunching through a full chakli. The two-year-old, on the other hand, still thinks it is too spicy. So, I had mentioned to my MIL in a conversation last yer that I want to try making it at home.

Making murukku from scratch I was excited when she brought with her ground moong dal and a murukku maker when she came back this year. The murukku maker belongs to her kaki, and I was touched that she passed it on to me.

So, one Sunday afternoon, when the kids were taking an afternoon nap, we got together for a murukku making session.

I followed her steps and was so thrilled when the murukkus sizzled on the hot oil, doing their happy dance.

They came out light, crunchy, and non spicy.

I had a glass of milk and hot murukkus ready for the kids. Lil A chomped through a few and Tiny M took a few tentative bites and declared, "these are not spicy."

Here is the recipe with detailed pictorial.

1/2 cup moong dal flour
1 cup rice flour
1 tbspoon - cumin seeds
1 tspoon and pinch - salt
1/4 tspoon - asafoetida
2 tbspoon - ghee
Oil - for frying

Making murukku from scratch
Add all the ingredients together, then

Making murukku from scratch
then add water little by little to make a stiff and smooth dough.

Making murukku from scratch
Take the maker and insert a mold. Take a handful of the dough and press it in the mold.

Making murukku from scratch
Heat oil in a wok, when the oil is hot, cover the mold and dough with a lid and press it hard. The stringy batter comes out.

Make any shape as they sizzle in oil. I make circular shapes

Fry about a couple of minutes on each side as they turn golden.

Making murukku from scratch
Take them out on a paper towel to drain and excess oil and to cool. Serve it with tea, coffee or even milk. You can store it in a airtight container for good couple of weeks.

July 06, 2015

And the winners are....

Thank you all for your good wishes and love. Thank you to all those who played and left comments.

Here are the winners of the cookbooks. The winning numbers were generated randomly through a number generator.

                    Day 1 - Amrita Roy - Perfect Tapas

                   Day 2 - Holly Donahue Singh - Essential Mediterranean cookbook

                  Day 3 - Christina Roy - Bong mom's cookbook & From Mom with love...

                  Day 4 - Stephanie - Spice Kitchen & Original Pizza and Pasta cookbook

Congratulations to all the winners. Please send me an e-mail atahaarmail@gmail.com with your address so I can ship your cookbooks.


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