Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Gooseberry Crush - Gooseberry Syrup Concentrate

During the summer months, back home in India every house will have some sort of crush or syrup in their fridge. The most common being mango, grape or lemon crush. Crush for those not familiar to Indian crushes are actually fruit juice concentrates used to make a quick cold drinks by mixing with about 2-3 times the amount of ice cold water and served to guests and family members alike to quench their thirst. This is before the advent of sodas and packaged juices.

I had a bunch of gooseberries from the plants in the backyard. They are tart and sweet at the same time and can be enjoyed as such. They also make excellent jams and jellies and that is what I made with the first batch. The recipe for which is here. The recipe in the link is for jam but I made jelly this time. The difference between jam is jelly is that once the fruit is cooked, it is passed through the sieve to remove the skin and the seeds. The resulting juice is cooked with sugar till it sets. The gooseberries I had are the purple ones and they made an absolutely stunning pink colored jelly and of course delicious.'

With the second batch I was contemplating making some spicy thokku but changed my mind when the above mentioned crush came to mind. The color is absolutely adorable and the slightly sweet and tart fruit would make a perfect crush and juice. Once the syrup is made it becomes multipurpose. Can be used to make ice cold juices and as a topping for pancake.

Cook the gooseberries till they are soft and can be mushed with a spatula. Add sugar and let it cook till the syrup thickens.
Strain the syrup through a sieve.
Pour into glass battles and store in the fridge.

The only requirement for this is to have a good sieve to strain the syrup.

Gooseberry Crush - Gooseberry Syrup
Preparation Time:5 minutes
Cooking Time:30 minutes
  1. 5 cups of ripe gooseberries
  2. 2 cups of sugar
  3. 3 cups of water

  1. In a heavy bottomed pan add the gooseberries and water and let it come to a boil and let it simmer till the fruit completely breaks down. Mash the fruit with a back of a spatula (About 15 minutes).
  2. Add sugar and if the water is almost gone at this point, add about 2 more cups of water and let it cook for another 15 minutes. It should be a fairly thick syrup at this point.
  3. Now strain the cooked syrup through the sieve. Press the pulp till you extract as much of the syrup as possible.
  4. Pour them into bottles and store in the fridge till ready to use.
Make the Juice
  1. Add 2 tbsp of the syrup along with 1 1/2 cups of water. Mix the syrup. Add ice cubes.
  2. Adjust the quantity of syrup as per taste.
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fresh Paneer balls with Fresh Peas Kurma - a light but smooth gravy

When life throws sour milk at you what do you do? Make paneer of course. I am glad that I did not know that the milk was sour, if I had the order of events would have been different. I proceeded to heat the milk to make some yogurt and when the timer went off, took a look at the boiling milk only to see that the cheese had separated from the whey. What normally would have happened? the whole thing would have been dumped because I am not that big on being mindful - bad I know. This time my senses were about me and I also had a sieve handy that can easily filter out the separated cheese from the whey and that is what happened. I then I tied the contents in a cheese cloth to remove the excess water. I put it in the fridge and that was a bad thing. It is important to keep the cheese/paneer moist.

If you are not using the paneer right away keep it moist by keeping the paneer tied in a cheese cloth immersed in water. Once the gravy was made DD2 was first to offer compliments. She even said that the fresh paneer was mush tastier than the store bought ones. Of course she was correct. Lighter and much more spongier and tastier than the stuff I buy. It is a really easy proces, I can make my own whenever I want rather than have my store bought paneer almost explode in the fridge.

Prepare the paneer balls and blanch the onions and blend to a paste.
Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan, season with cumin seeds and add the blended onions and saute till the onions are cooked and is shiny with oil oozing in the sides.
Blanch the tomatoes, puree and add it to the cooked onions and cook till the tomatoes are fully cooked and you see oil on the sides.
Mix in the turmeric and chili powders and the peas and if required 1/4 cup of water and cook the peas.
Brown the paneer balls in some ghee.
Lower the heat all the way and add the nut paste and whisked yogurt and paneer to the cooked tomatoes.

The gravy is light and smooth and goes well with any Indian bread.

Fresh Panner balls with Fresh Peas Kurma
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 1/2 cup of fresh paneer rolled into small 1/2 inch balls
  2. 1 cup of fresh shelled peas
  3. 1 1/2 cup of roughly chopped onions
  4. 3 plump ripe tomatoes (roma tomatoes)
  5. 1/2 cup of thick yogurt whisked
  6. 6-8 cashews or almonds (keep soaked in water)
  7. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  8. 2 tsp of red chili powder + 1/2 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder (see note)
  9. seasonings: cumin seeds
  10. 3 tsp of oil (I use Saffola oil, any vegetable oil works) + 1/2 tsp of ghee
  11. handful of coriander leaves chopped
  12. salt to taste
  1. Blanch the onions, take the chopped onions in a sauce pan with just enough water (about 1/4 cup) to cover the onions and steam for about 4-5 minutes. Drain the water completely, cool and blend to a smooth paste.
  2. In a thick bottomed pan, heat oil and add the cumin seeds. Add the onion paste and saute till the onions start to get browned and starts to change color about 6-8 minutes. (See note:).
  3. While the onion is cooking blanch the tomatoes, heat water and add the tomatoes to the boiling water and let cook for about 2-3 minutes. Cool by putting them in cold water. Peel the tomatoes and blend to a smooth puree and set aside. Blend the soaking nuts to a smooth paste.
  4. When the onions lose their raw smell and you see oil on the sides add the tomato puree and let it cook for another 6-8 minutes. You should see oil on the sides by now. Add the turmeric and chili powders. Mix.
  5. While the tomatoes are cooking, heat the ghee in a small sauce pan and saute the paneer balls so the outsides get browned a little bit.
  6. Add the peas and about 1/4 cup of water and let it cook for another 3-4 minutes. The peas should be almost cooked by this time.
  7. Lower the heat to low, add the blended nut paste, mix and also add in the whisked yogurt and keep mixing as you are adding the yogurt.
  8. Drop in the paneer balls and salt and let cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the coriander leaves and mix and turn off the heat.
  9. Note:
  10. All Kashmiri chili powder or just regular cayenne red chili powder can be user or even pepper powder.
  11. Blanching the onions makes it cook faster, rather than just blending the onions and cooking it uses far less oil.
Serve with any bread of choice.
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Uppu Paruppu - Simple Seasoned Dal

When I started writing this blog, it was more as a hobby and also this distant thought that it would one day help the kids to cook foods from their childhood. Little did I realize that the faraway thought will become a reality this quickly. It makes me want to cry but also proud of her attempting to cook instead of taking the easy way out and eating junk food and of the site being useful that way.

Cut the onions , green chilies and coriander leaves. Heat the pan, add oil and saute the onions, chiles and coriander leaves.
Add the cooked dal and salt, turn off the heat and the dal is ready.

This recipe that is something that any Indian food lover should have up their sleeve. Very simple and cooked in no time it provides the confidence to move on to other complicated recipes. While a pressure cooker is a god send for this recipe, not having a pressure cooker should not be a detriment. The recipe can be made with any of the Indian lentils/dal like toor dal (pigeon peas), masoor (mysore paruppu) or moong (paasi paruppu). Refer here for a primer on dal.

Without further talk here is the recipe,

Uppu Paruppu - Simple Seasoned Dal
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
  1. 1 cup of toor dal, masoor dal or moong dal
  2. 2 tbsp of finely chopped onions (optional, if not on hand leave it out)
  3. 2 green chilies chopped or 1 tsp pepper powder or 1 tsp red chili powder or 1 tsp sambhar powder
  4. 2 tbsp of chopped coriander leaves (optional, if not on hand leave it out)
  5. seasonings: cumin seeds, curry leaves and mustard seeds
  6. 1 tsp oil (or ghee)
  7. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  8. salt to taste

  1. Cook the dal with enough water, (usually in the ratio 1 cup of dal to 1.5 cups of water) with a few drops of oil and turmeric powder (see note:). If using pressure cooker cook for 2 whistles.
  2. Once the dal is cooked, in a sauce pan or wide mouthed pan or kadai, add the oil or ghee and when hot add the cumin seeds, followed by the mustard seeds and when it pops add the curry leaves.
  3. Add the onions and green chilies and saute till the onions turn translucent.
  4. Lower the heat and add in the turmeric powder and spice powders if using instead of the green chilies, saute for 30 seconds. Add the coriander leaves and mix.
  5. Mash the dal with the back of a laddle and pour it into the saute pa n and if required add a 1/2 cup of water along with salt. Let it come to a boil and immediately turn off the heat.
  6. Note: The turmeric powder can be added while cooking the dal but if using pressure cooker if extra water was added it will spray so to avoid turmeric splattered all over leave it out now and add while sauteing.
  7. If onions or green chilies are not used just add the spice powders and turmeric powder to the oil directly.
  8. While I use a different pan to season the dal, you can transfer the cooked dal from the pressure cooker to another container, wash and use the pressure cooker for the seasoning part as well but no need to put the weight on again.
  9. While tastes best with rice can be a side dish for roti or chapathi.