Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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My Experiments with Brussels

brussel salad3There comes a day in every food blogger’s life when they make the most perfect batch of roasted vegetables. Food angels will sing, you will shower in a million buckets of conceit and act like you just won the James Beard. Never happened to you? Is it just me? Well, alright then, let me go on. I made the most beautiful batch of Brussels yesterday and immediately let my smugness get ahead of me.

Initially, I had planned a curry with the veggie. When I realized that they were the most perfect shade of caramelized golden-brown with flavors popping every-which-way, I found the intended recipe too normal, very tame for this beauty. So I decided to let the Brussels revel in its newly acquired swag- I decided that a warm salad was the best route to take. What do I say, I was pressed for time and needed to set a few minutes aside for photographing this beauty.  Personally, I was tempted to eat it as it was, off the baking sheet but I kinda had to share it with the hub.
brussel saladI made the salad as I went- I roasted the Brussels Sprouts at 400ºF (205º C) for 30 minutes after coating them with two Tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. You could substitute salt with garlic salt if you want but honestly, I never missed the garlic (and I am the kind of person who thinks everything is wonderful with a little chopped garlic in it). I added Craisins and some walnuts. Since I wanted a creamy vinaigrette that would not steal the Brussels Sprouts’ thunder, I made a mild yogurt sauce with a little Chipotle in Adobo and a generous (quarter) cup of milk. I was impressed. Yes, it takes very little for me to feel happy with myself.
brussel salad2The only downside was that I missed Amma while I was greedily eating the salad off the plate after clicking a few hasty photos when I remembered: Amma was so taken by these mini-cabbages although she was not new to them. But then they are pretty expensive in India and not a perennial vegetable like they are in USA so we seldom bought them. She once made a wonderful pepper fry with Brussels when she lived with us last year. We also spoke extensively about making Brussels Fried Rice one day but we never really got down to it. Next time, Amma. We always have the next time.

Nutrition Info:

Serving Size: One Cup

Total Carbs: 15g

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Paneer Dahiwala, or Anything You Want to Call it…

This dish is loosely based on the other Indian dish called Dahiwala Paneer or Paneer Dahiwala. I came across this recipe on Tarla Dalal’s website once and bookmarked it for future use. Fast forward a year and I discovered today that my book on Paneer had the same recipe (no surprises there since it was written by the same chef). Although I started the Subzi by following the book, I gradually branched out and threw in ingredients that I found fitting. Hence, you can call it anything you want. I won’t blame you.
paneer dahiwala2We bought a huge slab of Paneer last week in Atlanta and Kishore was going crazy trying to decide what he wanted me to make out of it. These days, it is a pretty huge task, trying to find a good recipe for this Indian cheese that would make it the star of the show. I blame this obsession on the lack of fresh Paneer available at our local Indian grocers. Most of the time, I end up making it from scratch. At times like these, I buy it from Atlanta when we go shopping once in two months. Not surprisingly, the hub prefers the commercial version and I kinda don’t blame him for that. It is less crumbly and it doesn’t disappear when you fry it. My mom rightly observed today that taste-wise, the homemade version kicks the commercial version any day!

What I am trying to say is, make it or buy it, that is your call.

Paneer Dahiwala

Ingredients:
Two cups cubed Paneer

Two cups finely-sliced onion

Ten cherry tomatoes

One tsp tomato paste

Cilantro to garnish

One and a half Tbsp ginger-garlic paste

One tsp each of-
Cumin seeds

Fennel seeds

Nigella seeds (optional but recommended)

Mustard seeds

A small pinch of fenugreek seeds

Quarter tsp asafoetida powder (optional)

Two tsp Kasuri Methi (optional)

One tsp turmeric powder

Half tsp cayenne pepper powder

Two tsp Chat Masala/Pani Puri Masala/black salt

Salt to taste (but avoid if using black salt)

One Tbsp all-purpose flour

Two cups Greek yogurt

Quarter cup milk

Quarter cup water

Four Tbsp cooking oil

Method:
Heat the oil in a pan. Add all the seeds and when they begin to crackle, add the sliced onion. Let it caramelize on low heat. When it turns golden brown, up the heat to medium and add the ginger-garlic paste and cherry tomatoes. Saute for two minutes and then add the tomato paste, water, turmeric powder, cayenne powder, Chat Masala and salt. Let it cook for five minutes. When done, mix in the Paneer. Give it three minutes to cook.

(L-R) Sauteed caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes. Paneer in the pan with the seasonings. Simmering the gravy after adding Kasuri Methi

(L-R) Sauteed caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes. Paneer in the pan with the seasonings. Simmering the gravy after adding Kasuri Methi

Now add the yogurt and milk along with the Kasuri Methi and all-purpose flour. Cover and let it simmer on low heat for five to seven minutes. Once done, switch off the heat and garnish with cilantro leaves. If the gravy is too thick, add some water. If it is watery (which I doubt it will), add another tsp of AP and let it simmer for a few more minutes without the lid.


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Weirdest rice ever!

You are going to laugh or cast me in the weirdo box when you hear about this rice. But the ones who already know all about this rice are probably going to ask me if this recipe even deserved a post. Well, every yummy dish deserves a blogpost and the yum quotient on this one probably tops mac and cheese in my book. So without further ado, I present to you curd rice. You could call it yogurt rice because that is exactly what it is.

It is the ultimate comfort food for us South Indians. I should probably narrow it down to the Tam-Brahms (Tamil-which is our language-Brahmin-the, erm, cast) because I have many a curd rice hating friend and they would disown me if I generalize. Every South Indian meal is incomplete without this dish. It tastes different in different regions and we add a varied list of condiments to make this otherwise bland dish more tasty. We love it cold in the summer, a little warm in the winter and absolutely hot and fragrant at weddings.

curd rice2

Talking about curd rice reminds me of a very funny (albeit a little embarrassing) story K once told me. This happened during his grad school days. Though he used to avoid taking Indian food to class, he couldn’t help but take curd rice once to school. So during lunch, he opens his box and starts eating. His American friend sitting next to him sniffs loudly and looks into K’s box. “Dude, what is that thing you are eating?” K very slowly says “Yogurt rice?”  The disbelieving guy is like “What’s that again?” The even more embarrassed husband goes “Yogurt and rice?” His friend gives him a horrified look and goes back to his lunch. That was probably the last day K packed curd rice to school!

What I am trying to tell you here is try it. It might sound very weird but you might just end up liking it. And as I said, this dish has so many different ways of preparation. I follow my mother’s method and it has never failed me. This is how I make it…

curd rice

Warm and Tasty Curd Rice

Ingredients:
Two cups freshly cooked rice

One cup yogurt/curd

One cup milk

Half cup water

Two tsp oil

Two Thai chili peppers

One tsp mustard seeds

One tsp Urad Dal (optional)

One tsp Channa Dal (optional)

A sprinkle asafoetida

One tsp salt

Cilantro leaves for garnish

Method:
Mix the rice, yogurt, milk and water. Add the salt. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the chili, mustard seeds, Dals and asafoetida. When the mustard seeds pop and the Dals turn golden-brown, take off the heat and mix with rice. The final product has to be a loose, creamy bowl of curd rice. If it is a little tight, add more milk or curd. Even better is a quarter cup of cream but I try to avoid that!

Ps: the black chilis are a South Indian condiment we make by mixing chilis with yogurt and drying them in the hot sun over a period of weeks. And then we fry them with the mustard and other condiments while making the rice. I haven’t mentioned it in the recipe because it is virtually impossible to get it in USA. But if you are an adventurous soul, let me know. I will send it over!

I eat it with any curry or jarred spicy pickle but honestly, you really don’t need anything to accompany curd rice. It is a rockstar all by itself!


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Making Yogurt

Until a year and a half ago, I never knew that you could buy yogurt at the store. At least not the kind you get here in the USA. Yogurt in India is always flavored. If we needed the kind we get here, we would always make it and it was called curd. Curd was available in stores, of course, but we seldom bought it.

Yogurt is one of the simplest thing you will ever make in life but back at home, it was a tradition of sorts. My grandmother always made it look nothing short of a brief ceremony and her grandchildren were seldom allowed to make it. She probably was afraid that we would add a tad too much of yogurt to the milk which would make it sour. My home was always known for a never-ending supply of sweet tasting yogurt in the refrigerator so I kind of understand her trepidation. Now, yogurt in India is a staple part of our pantry. We eat it with rice; add water, salt and sugar and make Lassi, Neer Mor or what we call buttermilk in India and even use it in side-dishes.

Its an ancient belief that the hand that makes the yogurt decides its outcome: When some people make it, it would come out perfectly but when others make it, there will be an overload of tang, which some people savor. And I was not one of them. Hence I should consider myself lucky because I have a sweet yogurt hand which my mother let me develop when she eventually took over the kitchen back in India after my grandmother passed. Let the old wives’ tale not bother you because I think it is your control over the yogurt that really decides its tang level.

Anyway, when I landed here, I got into the habit of buying yogurt, which used to cost anywhere between ¢.99 and $2.99 for a 32 fl.oz. (low fat). I used to buy 2% milk and make it sometimes and it always worked out cheaper at $3.29 for 1 gallon (138 fl.oz) When we got into the organic mode of life, I figured it would be even more economical to make yogurt regularly ($6.29 for 1 gallon vs. $4.29 for 32 fl.oz). It is, look at how much I am saving!

So here is an easy recipe for making yogurt at home. All it requires is a gallon of 2% milk (or full-fat milk if you are making Greek yogurt), which you have to boil on med-low for 30-45 minutes, until it forms a thin layer of cream on the top. Let it rest until it becomes warm. To this, add two Tbsp of store-bought yogurt. Mix it, close it with a lid and let it hang out in a warm place on your kitchen counter (the oven, with the lights switched on works very well). Now, we’ve got to wait… for 8 hours. The yogurt would have set, kind of like custard. Refrigerate it and use it as you would regular yogurt.

Oh yeah, that simple!

Update: Use whipping cream instead of milk if you want to make sour cream. You don’t have to boil or even heat it, let it be at room temperature.

Ps: Ladles and High heels is looking forward to a format change from the next post. I got a crash course from a friend about blog photography and he recommended that I do away with something and add something else on. So here is me looking forward to the newer format too!