21 June 2006

Leftover-rice Koftas

Have you ever opened your fridge and found lots of leftover rice? Here's a nice way to use it up. I looked for recipes using leftover rice, and didn't really find anything all that great. Finally found one for koftas, but again, more than half the ingredients needed for that aren't to be found in this neck of the woods. So one just improvised, and the results were great!

The beauty of this kind of kofta is that it goes well with any kind of gravy. I tried it with a boiled onion and nuts gravy, the regular tomato-onion gravy, and even with palak gravy. It went well with them all. And the little one even liked the kofta by itself.

I won't bother with gravy recipes in this one. Go ahead and make whatever gravy sounds good to you.

Leftover-rice koftas
makes 12 koftas

2 cups cooked rice
1 big potato (parboiled, peeled and mashed)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 pinch turmeric
salt to taste
oil for frying

Mix the rice, mashed potato, turmeric, chili powder and salt, well. Don't mix it so hard that you end up mashing the rice.
Divide into 12 portions, and shape as desired (as perfect rounds, cylinders, or even flattened like a tikki)
Deep fry in oil till well browned, about 4 minutes per batch.
Arrange koftas on a serving dish, and pour piping hot gravy over it not more than 5 minutes before serving.

Simple, what?

13 June 2006

World Bazaar

One of the local events of the season, the 'World Bazaar', took place at the Dewa Shonai Kokusai Mura (Dewa Shonai International Forum) on Sunday. We got talked into setting up a food stall. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to stick to the simple and uncomplicated. After all, making 100-150 boxes of anything authentically Indian isn't that easy. So I decided on making Aloo-tikki and 'khatti-meethi' chutney.

Making the sweet chutney in such large quantities isn't a joke. With a miniscule kitchen like what I have here, and lack of large cooking pots, it was a bit of a challenge making 3.5 liters of chutney.

And of course I didn't have vessels big enough to boil and mash 5 kilos of potatoes. So I spent the better part of Sunday morning cooking potatoes in the microwave in 1kg batches, mashing them in the most decent sized vessel in hand, spicing it right and transferring that my pressure cooker, the only vessel that could hold 5 kilos of mashed potatoes!

So after lugging the pressure cooker to the festival venue, it was 3 hours of non stop cooking on a small frying pan to make 150 tikkis... by noon I finally finished making all my tikkis. And by 12:30 it was all sold out. One of our friends asked whether I could go get some more potatoes and make another 100 or 150.. After all we did have more than enough chutney to spare. I thought about it for a bit and decided to call it quits for the day. If anyone was enthusiastic enough, they could go get some little bottles and we could sell the leftover chutneys.

W-san, a sushi-chef and restauranter loved the chutney... I have promised to let him know when I make the next batch, so he can see the process for himself! After aloo-parathas and palak paneer, maybe its time I I introduced W-san to the finer nuances of chaat!

Here's how one goes about making 3.5 ltrs of chutney. For smaller quantities, just use all ingredients in equal proportion and season to taste.

Khatti-meethi Chutney
(makes way too much)

1/2 kg Tamarind
1/2 kg Jaggery
1/2 kg dates (seedless)
1 cup salt (or to taste)
1/2 cup jeera powder
1/4 cup red chilli powder
3 tbsp chaat masala

Soak and dissolve tamarind in 2.5 ltrs of water. Drain and keep aside. Discard seeds and any other impurities.
Soak dates. Discard waxy skin if any, puree in blender.
Take a saucepan or any other deep pan with a 4 ltr capacity.
Bring tamarind, jaggery and dates puree to a boil, stirring constantly to remove any lumps.
Reduce heat and simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the tamarind loses its raw smell.
Add seasonings and adjust to taste.
If you wish to store it for later use, let it cool completely to room temperature before bottling it.
This chutney has a shelf life of upto ten days if kept refrigerated.

Bare-basics Aloo Tikki
makes 15 medium sized pieces

1/2 kg potatoes
1 green chilli (finely chopped)
1 tsp jeera powder
salt to taste
1 onion finely chopped
Oil for frying

Parboil potatoes till they are cooked, but firm. If using a microwave, 10 minutes on high should be fine.
Peel and mash potatoes with chilli, jeera and salt.
Add onions and mix well.
Divide into 15 equal portions (or as many as desired).
Grease palms lightly. Roll into balls and flatten into 1 cm thick patties. Flatten edges with fingertips.
Generously grease a skillet and heat.
Fry tikkis on hot skillet with a little oil till browned. Turn over and brown other side.
Serve hot with ketchup or chutney.

04 June 2006

Yummy Biriyani dinner

Hooray! Pictures at last.

We'd invited our dear friend AS for dinner last night. And I thought I'make a nice spicy biriyani a-la-Nayeem. Nayeem makes the best biriyani in the whole world. Anything else takes a pales to an insignificant second place. Of course, my effort wasn't too bad, but it was nowhere near Nayeem's level of utter perfection! We miss you lots, Nayeem. Actually, we miss biriyani more than we miss you :) ... er.... foot in mouth happened there.

Arun of course, would never be content with just a salad or a raitha to go with his biriyani. So I made a nice dish of baby-potatoes in gravy. And of course raitha. And I know it all tasted good coz we had no leftovers. And my little one actually ate ALL her potatoes!

I love N's biriyani recipe for it's sheer simplicity. No overly elaborate cooking procedures! And because the biriyani and raitha had plenty of onions, I decided to leave out onions in the gravy for the potatoes.

This must be one of the more elaborate meals I have cooked since we came to Tsuruoka. It doesn't compare with some of the 6-7 course dinners for 25 that I have made in Singapore. A tiny kitchen does dampen culinary enthusiasm!

Baby potatoes in gravy
serves 4

20 baby potatoes
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp dhania powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 pinch hing
1 tbsp + 3 tspb oil
salt to taste
1 cup water

Wash and scrub potatoes. Parboil in salted water. Peel when done.
Heat 3 tbsp oil. Add jeera seeds and hing and let it splutter.
Add the potatoes and fry till very lightly browned. Keep aside.
Mix the masala powders with about 3 tbsp water.
Heat 1 tbsp oil. Add the masala mix, and fry till oil begins to float on top.
Add tomato paste and fry for about 2 minutes.
Add potatoes.
Add water to bring gravy to desired consistency.
Add salt to taste.
Cover and cook on a low flame for about 15 minutes.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves before serving.

serves 4

2 cups basmati rice
1 big onion (sliced)
1.5 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 cups cut mixed vegetables (beans, peas, carrots, cauliflower)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1 stick cinnamon
5 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
2 tbsp tomato paste
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Wash and soak basmati in 4 cups water.
Heat oil. Add Jeera and let it splutter.
Add sliced onions and fry till onions start to brown.
Add ginger garlic paste, and continue frying till the raw smell of garlic is gone.
Add the cut vegetables. Add salt to taste.
Add chilli powder and turmeric and saute for 3 minutes. Add a little water to ensure that vegetables cook fully.
Add tomato paste, and continue to cook till oil starts to float on top.
Heat oil. Lightly fry cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves in turn till fragrant.
Add whole spices to the rice.
Cook till almost done.
(I used a microwave rice cooker. 12 minutes on high power should do)
Drain rice in a colander. Rinse with cold water to stop it cooking further.
Layer rice and vegetables in a dish, starting and ending with vegetables.
Cover with cheesecloth. Close dish with a steel or any metal plate large enough to cover it completely.
Place a pot of boiling water on top of the plate.
This is a very simple method of 'dum' cooking.
The rice finishes cooking with the juices from the vegetable mixture, making the biriyani quite juicy.
Leave aside for about 30-45 minutes.
When ready to serve, take a serving spoon and mix the rice and vegetables well.

serves 4
1 big onion (finely chopped)
1 big tomato (finely chopped)
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
2 cups beaten curds/plain yogurt
salt to taste
1/2 tsp jeera powder
1/2 tsp chaat masala

Toss chopped vegetables together with salt to taste.
Gently stir in beaten curds/yogurt.
Add jeera powder and chaat masala.
Serve chilled.

Kid's favourite Vegetable Sweet Corn Soup

It was one of those days. All my two year old wanted was chocolate milk. No rice. No dal. No vegetables. No fruit.

As a last ditch try I threw in all vegetables I had at home into one bit pot, and voila, a soup she actually liked. She had 4 helpings. Wow... so this recipe is a keeper.

Almost 4 cups of chopped vegetables, all of it sauteed, some of it pureed, no artificial additives unless you wish to add soup-cubes to boost the flavour. How much healthier can it get!

Do note that there are no thickening agents like cornflour. The puree acts as a thickener.

Add some pasta, and serve with generous slices of garlic bread to make it a one-dish meal. Any pasta is fine, as long as it's in the tiny to small size range.

Vegetable Sweet Corn Soup
makes about 2 liters of soup

1 onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 carrot
1 medium potato
1 capsicum (deseeded and finely chopped)
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup broccoli
3 large tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels
1 liter cups water
3 tbsp butter

Salt to taste
Fresh milled black pepper to taste
Optional - soup stock or soup cubes

Wash and peel potato and carrot. Chop into very small pieces.
Chop cauliflower and broccoli florets into fine pieces. (I use the stems too)
Melt butter in a large saucepan.
Saute onion and minced garlic till the onions start to turn transparent.
Add all other chopped vegetables except the tomatoes and corn kernels. Add a little salt, stir well and close the saucepan. Cook until the vegetables are done, but retain some crispness.
Keep aside one cup of vegetables. Cool and puree in a blender.
Chop tomatoes. Cover with 2 cups water and boil for 5-7 minutes.
Defrost corn kernels if using frozen. Boil in 2 cups water for 3 minutes or till slightly soft.
Add corn and tomatoes to the vegetables. Stir in remaining water. Stir in the blended vegetable puree.
Add more water if required to adjust to desired consistency.
Adjust salt. Add soup cubes if required.
Let soup simmer for about 10 minutes.
Serve hot with fresh milled pepper if required.

One way to make this a heavier meal in itself is to add cooked pasta. To this particular recipe, I usually take 1/2 cup alphabet pasta, or any other tiny pasta, cook it al dente, and add it to the soup when adding the tomatoes. Then simmer for 10 mins and serve hot.

01 June 2006


Yesterday I sat in front of a pile of baby-potatoes thinking of what I could do with them. I was totally bored with the usual jeera-aloo, dum-aloo, aloo-mutter etc... And a quick check of the refrigerator revealed a generous amount of coriander leaves that needed to be used in a hurry. So here's what I came up with.

I used my little pressure cooker for the entire process. Less messy, and just one utensil to wash!

And imagine, Arun said it smelled like something from a 5-star hotel restaurant... high praise indeed!


20 baby potatoes (par-boiled in salted water and peeled)
1 large onion
1 small tomato
3 closes garlic
1 tsp dhania powder
1 tsp jeera powder
1 bunch coriander leaves
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
1 tsp jeera seeds
1 pinch hing
Oil for frying
1-2 cups water
1 tbsp coriander leaves (finely chopped)

Heat oil. Add jeera seeds and hing. Stir-fry the potatoes with a little salt till lightly browned. Keep aside.
Grind onion, garlic and the dhania and jeera powders to a fine paste.
Heat oil. Fry the masala till it loses its raw smell.
Grind tomato and coriander leaves to a fine paste. Add this to the onion masala.
When oil begins to separate, add the potatoes. Add salt to taste.
Add water to adjust gravy to desired consistency. Add garam masala.
Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with Chappatis or pulav.