Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Banana Fritters



If there is one thing I would like to visit in the US, it would be the Grand Canyon.  Incidentally this is also on my top 5 places to visit.  For me the name says it all – Grand Canyon – majestic, historic and full of grandeur.  The variations in climate and elevation in this area means you can see different types of flora and fauna in this area. 

The Grand Canyon is estimated to be millions of years old and the rock formations have developed over time.  It has also been a settlement for the Native Americans as well as the Europeans for centuries.   When I look at the pictures of the Grand Canyon, I am in awe of this creation.  I can imagine how insignificant I would feel when I am actually there – the majesty and greatness of this natural wonder in comparison to me – one tiny little thing living in a tiny country somewhere in Europe. 

Preparation Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almond powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
A pinch of salt
Milk as needed
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Corn oil for frying

Method:

  1. Mash the bananas with a fork and keep aside.  
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar well and then add the all purpose flour.  
  3. Mix this and then add the almond powder and salt and vanilla essence.  
  4. Fold in the bananas.  If the mixture is too thick, add a little milk.  
  5. Heat oil in a frying pan.  When hot, drop the batter gently in the oil with a spoon.  
  6. Fry on low flame till brown on all sides.  Drain on paper towels and serve warm or cold sprinkled with icing sugar.

 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baked or Grilled Spiced whole Fish

So, imagine I have already taken the Inca Trail.  I need a variation now – I need to see some water and along the way if possible some animals.  What better place to see that than in the African continent.  But yes, I am supposed to select “places” and not continents.  So I opt to visit the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.  I could also see the Victoria Falls from Zambia, but why miss the opportunity to see how a bad leader in power can bring one of the most successful African countries to its knees.  Why miss the opportunity to see how power can make some people blind to the woes of its citizens.

The Victoria Falls is the widest waterfall in the world.  I hear that from Victoria town which is in Zimbabwe, you can see the whole frontal beauty of this Falls with spectacular rainbows which are always present.  There are several activities that could be done as well over here like bungee jumping and rafting.  Now I am not a succor for thrill sports – so I would pass those.   But safaris are organized too and if I go to Africa and not take a safari that would be totally a waste.   So my itinerary would include a safari as well.  And of course I would like to do this with the whole family.  So this has to be second on my list so I can do it while the children are still young and do not mind travelling around with their parents.  Besides, a safari is always fun with children, don’t you think?

Preparation Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 kilo bream, carp or pomfret, cleaned and scaled if necessary
1 fresh red chili, seeded and ground
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1” piece ginger, peeled and sliced
4 spring onions (scallions), chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons sunflower oil

Method:

  1. Rinse the fish and dry it well inside and out with absorbent kitchen paper.  
  2. Slash two or three times through the fleshy part on each side of the fish.  
  3. Place the chili, garlic, ginger and spring onions in a food processor and blend to a paste.  
  4. Add the lemon juice and salt and then stir in the oil.  
  5. Spoon a little of the mixture inside the fish and pour the rest over the top.  Turn the fish to coat it completely in the spice mixture and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour.  
  6. Preheat the grill.  Place a long strip of double foil under the fish to support it and to make turning it over easier.  Put on a rack in a grill pan and cook under the hot grill for 5 minutes on one side and 8 minutes on the second side.  Serve hot with bread or rice.

 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spinach Omelet

OK – so my mini-series of the top 5 places I would like to visit before I die starts.  This does not take into consideration those places I already have visited.  These are places I still have not visited and would love to visit some day.  I gave my list some thought and after careful review, I have come up with the 5 places.  The list is in no particular order.

So one of the places on my list to visit is actually not just a visit – it is a whole activity.  It is to take the Inca trail in Peru.  A few years back one of my friends took this trail and after she posted pictures of the place, I just knew I had to do it.  I think it was the mysticism and the serenity I felt through those pictures that made me put this place on my list.  I have read a bit about the trail – a bit because if I read a lot, I might become obsessed by it.  The trail starts in the Secret Valley and ends in Machu Picchu. 

What interests me also about this trail is the fact that you pass through several ancient settlements, experience different altitude and climate and impressive landscape.  As I grow older, I am worried I would not be fit enough to do this trail.  I have to plan it before I turn 40.  Among the 5 places I have chosen, this I think is the most difficult physically and has to be undertaken first.


Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

 200 grams Bengal gram flour (besan)
50 grams maize flour
150 grams spinach leaves
1 green chili
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon coriander leaves
A sprig of curry leaves
50 grams corn oil

Method:

  1. Wash and chop the spinach, green chilies, coriander leaves and curry leaves.  
  2. Prepare batter of maize flour, Bengal gram flour, chopped vegetables, salt and water. 
  3. Heat a girdle and grease with oil.  Pour a ladleful of batter and spread evenly.  Cook till crisp and brown on both sides.  
  4. Serve hot with ketchup or chutney.

My daughter added the ketchup art work

Friday, March 23, 2012

Prawn Patia



I have been thinking I should probably have a “top 5 places I want to visit before I die” list.  I love to travel and love to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures and taste their food.  At the same time I also want to see the world – experience their lifestyle, shop where they shop, understand how the live, see what matters to them the most in life.  For that I have to travel.  Sometimes I wish I had taken up a career in travel writing or journalism.  I do not think I would have been married then or had children.  We have to make choices in life, don’t we?

OK – so which are the top 10 places I want to visit before I die and why?  Let us take it 1 place at a time – the next ten blogs you will hear about those 5 places in no particular order and why I so very much want to visit the place.  What attracts me to those places, what I know about those places and what could perhaps frighten me in those places? Writing about this would also help me review my list.  I cannot choose whole continents in these lists – it has to be countries or places. 

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

500 grams prawns
4 big yellow onions
4 tablespoons corn oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 cloves garlic
2 green chilies
4 dried red chilies
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon coriander powder
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
4 tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Slice onion fine.  
  2. Clean and wash prawns well.  
  3. Grind cumin seeds, garlic, red and green chilies and keep aside.  
  4. Cut the tomatoes and keep aside.  
  5. Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions till they turn light brown.  
  6. Add the ground spices to it along with the salt, turmeric and powdered cumin and coriander powders.  Fry well.  
  7. Then add the chopped tomatoes and coriander leaves.  
  8. Lastly add the prawns and cook for about 5 minutes.  Remove from fire and serve hot with bread or plain boiled rice.

Friday, March 16, 2012

French Beans Pulao

I have been filled with sorrow since yesterday.  A bus load of children, after having spent a week of skiing, were returning home and the bus crashed just some kilometers after leaving.  The crash left 28 dead or which 22 were children in the age group of 11 to 12 years.  When I read about this, it felt too close to home.  My son has been on a skiing trip with the same company.  My daughter has registered to leave for a skiing trip next winter with school.  It could have been them. 

My heart goes out to those parents.  They must have gone to bed excited on seeing their lovely children the next morning after being away from them for a week.  And they are woken up in the middle of the night with news about the accident.  Worse still, they do not know if their children are among the 28 dead or the 24 still alive.  It is really a 50-50 gamble fate is playing with them and they have to wait a few more hours before they know if their children were the lucky ones to survive.  I try to put myself in their shoes – relief in that instance that your child has made it and sad at the same time seeing the other set of parents who might have lost the apple of their eyes.  I have kept the children and parents in my prayers today – strength to those who have lost a loved one and a new beginning to those who have been granted a second chance.  Make use of this chance – don’t blow it off.

Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

2 cups basmati rice
4 cups French beans (stringed and chopped)
½ teaspoon tamarind concentrate
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons coconut gratings
2 tablespoons corn oil
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cashew nuts (broken)
1 tablespoon peanuts or groundnuts
1 tablespoon Gram dal (chana dal)
1 tablespoon Split Gram dal (urad dal)
A pinch of asafetida
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
A few curry leaves

Method:

  1. Boil rice in water with salt and when ¾ done, drain the water in a colander and keep the rice aside. 
  2. Boil the beans in water for 10 minutes with salt, drain and keep aside. 
  3. Heat oil in a vessel. When hot, add the mustard seeds. 
  4. When they splutter, add the dals and the cashew and peanuts. 
  5. When these turn light brown, add the curry leaves, asafetida and turmeric. 
  6. Add the beans and sauté for 3 minutes. 
  7. Now add the tamarind concentrate, salt and coconut gratings and mix well. 
  8. Finally add the rice and stir well and cover and cook on low flame for 20 minutes. Serve with plain yoghurt.


 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Carrot Milkshake


Are the children and youth of today any different than the children and youth of yester years?  Are they worse off or better off than the previous generations?  Have they a brighter future?  We have given them a world of instant gratification – instant meals, remote controlled environments and instant information at the press of a button in the form of Google.  I taught my children to use the dictionary – something they claim that most of their other class mates do not know.  Of course they rebel against using it and call us old-fashioned. 

Since I am involved in helping my son with his studies now that he has not been performing as well as we would have liked him, I realize that they do not any more study text books and do extra research like we used to do for our exams.  No – that is too much trouble and not worth the points.  They just browse through their notes and read twice over through the highlighted portions of those notes.  Definitions in physics are reinvented in their own words – they do not know how to by-heart definitions any more.  All in all, they have the attention span of a gold fish.  I read the gold fish has the shortest attention span among animals of 15 seconds.  I think my son could break that record – his is far less at the moment.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

12-15 medium size carrots
1 ½ cups sugar
1 liter milk
¼ cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon clarified butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
¼ teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon pistachio powder, for garnishing

Method:

  1. Wash and skin the carrots.  Cut into ½” pieces.  Cook with enough water.  Make sure that the water is 2 inches above the carrots in a pressure cooker.  
  2. After the carrots are cooked, cool and grind them in a blender.  Keep adding cold milk to obtain liquid consistency.
  3. In a separate pan, fry almonds in butter till they are lightly browned.  Add half the quantity of almonds to the blended carrot milk and blend for 2 minutes to make sure that the almonds are coarsely ground.
  4. Place a thick bottomed vessel on the stove on low heat.  Add the rest of the almonds, saffron, cardamom powder, carrot milk, vanilla essence and the sugar.  Mix well and stir on medium heat until the carrot milk boils.  Remove from heat.  
  5. Cool and chill carrot milk, drizzle pistachio powder before serving in tall glasses.


 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Stuffed Tomatoes


From today, for the next 19 days I will be fasting.  I will abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset.  This means that I will not eat or not drink anything, water included, from sunrise to sunset.  Why would I put my body through this ordeal you might ask?  As an adult Baha’i, I am obliged to fast for these 19 days.  It is a period of prayer and meditation for us.  During fasting we are tender, more subdued and more compassionate.  This makes us spiritually more receptive. 

Most religions call on for their believers to fast.  Abstinence from food and drink is symbolic materially.  But in other religions fasting symbolizes purification of the soul, or strengthens control to gluttony, or commemorates the day the founder of the religion suffered.  Medically I read an article recently in the Guardian that it is advised to fast twice a week to avoid calories as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. So today when I am feeling a bit hungry now as I write about food and look at the pictures I made about food, I try to remind myself that fasting is good for my spirit and my body – and what is 19 days – it will pass in a jiffy.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
 
4 large red tomatoes, ripe but firm
2 boiled potatoes
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ cup gram flour
1 tablespoon corn Oil
100 grams parmesan cheese, grated
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
½ teaspoon garlic paste

Method:

  1. Mash the boiled potatoes and keep aside.  
  2. In a vessel, heat the oil.  When hot, add the onions, garlic paste, cumin powder, fennel seeds and chili powder.  
  3. When the onion is brown, add the gram flour.  
  4. When the flour turns a light brown and is mixed well with the oil, add salt and take off flame. Keep this aside to cool.  
  5. Now add the mashed potatoes and the cheese to this mixture and mix well.  
  6. Wash and cut off the tops of the tomatoes.  
  7. Scoop out the seeds and put in the prepared potato mixture and cover back with the top that was cut off.  
  8. Apply oil on a baking tray and arrange the tomatoes.  Put into an over at 180 degrees C for 10 minutes.  Serve hot.