Steamed Banana Semolina Cake & Post A quote Challenge!


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Over-ripe Bananas sitting on the platter, what to do? Any ideas? I refer my Aji’s potli (Grandma’s bag of magic) full of simple recipes. And, make it time saving, economic, steamed, eggless and meatless too! Sounds a trip to heaven, doesn’t it? Believe me I cannot take the smell of meat and eggs on my dishes and gadgets! I just have to sanitize everything perfectly well until there is no trace of the foul smell. Monica Gellar I can beat you with my freakiness! Any other OCD’s for company??:P

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So without much commotion, I m going to share a detailed recipe of this healthy cake J

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Ingredients:

  • 1-2 ripe bananas (read over ripe in my case!!)
  • 1 cup. fine Semolina (Rava or Sooji)
  • 1 cup. finely chopped Jaggery (You can substitute with less than or equal amount of sugar).
  • 2 tsps. Cardamom powder
  • 3-4 strands of Saffron.
  • Chopped pistachios (You can add as many or as less. It’s an optional ingredient).
  • 1-2 tsps. Clarified butter (Ghee. It’s optional too. One could use olive oil too).
  • 1 big tbsp. Yoghurt/ Curd.

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Method:

  • Mix all the ingredients well until no lumps remain (not the nuts) and set aside for 5 minutes.The consistency of this batter is pretty thick (and sticky too) and not anything like the usual cake batter. So don’t get scared when you don’t see any folds of batter on tapping the spatula.Featured image
  • Add the chopped nuts.
  • Oil spray a steel container or the usual cake pan. I did not use any greasing and added a butter paper underneath into the pan.

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  • Spoon the batter into the cake pan.
  • Add water into the pressure cooker or steamer and set the cake pan inside it.Just cover the whistle hole with a bowl or just Al foil.
  • Allow it to steam cook for 8-15 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

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  • Garnish with nuts and clarified butter!

I looked forward to summer vacations at my Aji’s place in Bombay. She would make this cake. What made it surreal was she made it with so much care. And truth be told, it was absolutely real. We did not have cameras and camera phones back then. I ponder if having them then could have helped me treasure the essence of my childhood for future. Reality is that memories may fade but the essence remains within the soul.But then I look at myself and see how she has passed on her looks to me 🙂

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My Aji stays across the globe. Every trip to the motherland my heart sinks another inch to see her grow older and frailer.

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Chanakya rightly said, he who lives in our mind is near though he may actually be far away; but he who is not in our heart is far though he might really be near by”.

I feel it better than ever before. Having lost so many dear ones in less than two years in my immediate family, the feeling of seeing incomplete houses is setting in. But, life goes on, doesn’t it?

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I have trained my brain to be thankful to the bag of goodies life has given me so far. And, having a family like mine in itself is a boon.

A toast of healthy emotional balance to all!

BTW,This is my First entry to the Post A quote Challenge By Sumana 🙂 Thanks again for the opportunity. I wanted to begin my quotes with my aji’s recipe who shares her name with you 🙂

Butterless Spaghetti Makhanwala with Shammi Kabab Meatballs


I love the concept of classic New York style Spaghetti with Meatballs. But it’s rare to find meatballs in Chicken or fish, isn’t it? Here’s how I began to believe otherwise J.

One of my son’s classmates Zo often got Spaghetti with Meatballs in her lunch box. And my son would find ways to convince me to make it. I thought and searched but could not think about a decent scramble for a chicken oriented meatball recipe. We don’t eat red meat so I don’t cook it either. I don’t have an issue if my son decided to eat red meat when he grows up but at the present if he ate and asked me to recreate a dish it would be very difficult. So, it’s more of convenience to opt for Chicken J.

I obviously did not wish to make Spaghetti and use frozen meatballs. It had to be custom made.Featured image

Through a food group I was introduced to a very talented culinary mind Ritu Shrivastava who shared her recipe for Shammi Kabab once. And my adventurous mind began to fuse an East meets the West recipe! Ritu, thanks for that recipe, it was very generous of you to share your delicious recipe and help me structure the fancies of my boy J. This is to you!

Here is a totally Indian take on the classic. Mine is called Butterless Spaghetti Makhanwala (low calorie tomato based sauce used for Indian delicacies like Butter Chicken etc) with Shammi Kabab meatballs (Indian Chicken mini patties infused with herbs).

Sharing this recipe for my boy of origin who loved it!

Spaghetti Makhanwala (Butterless Spaghetti in Tomato based Sauce)

Makhanwala (literally means loaded with butter and cream) gravy is rich, creamy and extremely flavorful. However, I wanted to make a lighter version of the parent sauce. Here is my version.

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Btw, I always make non-meat stuff first to avoid any cross contamination of uncooked meat and other ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized tomatoes.
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic.
  • 3 tsps. Cardamom powder.
  • 1 tsp. Garam masala (all spices powder).
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 tsp. kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves to be added as garnish).
  • 2 tbsps. Yoghurt.
  • 3-4 black peppercorns.
  • 5 tbsps. Cashew powdered. (I did not use these. But they would add to the richness of the sauce).
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds.

Method:

  • Blend all the ingredients using very little or no water at all into a smooth sauce.
  • Cook the sauce and bring it to a boil. To enhance richness of taste reduce it to a thick sauce.
  • Set aside.

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For Spaghetti:

  • Drop the Spaghetti into boiling water and follow the instructions on the carton for cooking through. Drain the water, dust salt and drizzle some olive oil.
  • Mix the spaghetti with sauce just before you have to serve. The starch in the pasta thickens up the sauce too soon. So, ideally drop the pasta into the water (simultaneously) when your Shammi kababs are been shallow fried.

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Ritu’s Shammi Kabab (Ground chicken meatballs)

  • 8-10 Organic chicken tenders (skinless).
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic.
  • 1 cup of Cilantro.
  • ¼ cup of Mint leaves.
  • 2 tbsps. Ginger paste.
  • Green chilis (optional)- I added Tandoori Masala and Garam Masala (all spices powder).
  • Salt to taste.
  • Italian Bread Crumbs (my addition).
  • 2-3 tbsps. Italian Basil leaves (optional, my addition)
  • A good grinder.
  • Oil for shallow frying (about 4 tbsp.).

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Method:

  • Ground all the ingredients except oil and crumbs in a grinder. (Ritu had marinated the ground chicken with ginger and garlic paste along with onions. But, I skipped the marinating part and addition of onions. Also I did not add any oil in the ground chicken mixture as she suggested.)
  • Make small patties and roll them into bread crumbs. (Now you can make balls and choose to deep fry them but I am on a healthy diet plus a busy mom, so not going to commit the sin :P).

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  • Heat the oil on a flat pan and shallow fry the patties until crisp (about 7 minutes on each side). But, you can still cut it and find out if they are cooked through or not. I always follow the actual test than follow my gut here. No chances with raw meat!

Serve together!

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This is a healthier and extremely delicious Indian version of the American Classic! This is going in my special heirloom recipe book to be passed on to the next generation!

Besanwali Bhindi ( Stuffed Okra with Chickpea flour)


And then there was a ladyfinger. (Stir fry and Ladyfingers, thinking right?)

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Yes, the Indian Ladyfinger is America’s very own Okra! A beautiful green colored long vegetable just like a lady’s fingers.

However, after migrating to the US (post marriage) I was amused to learn that ladyfingers are a kind of biscuit (low density, egg based and sweet sponge like) used as a dessert ingredient and not a vegetable. Ironical isn’t it? :P!

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Besanwali Bhindi (Bharwa Bhindi/Bharleli Bhendi/ Stuffed Okra with Chickpea flour) is one of my favourite stir-fries! Getting fresh bhindi here is a rarity. At least I have not come across a single store that carries a nice sharp stock of it with it’s tails intact (those of you who have shared same pains of selecting amongst broken tailed okras,my heartfelt empathies!)

In childhood, my Aai (my mother) used to be so upset when I used to gobble down all the okra even before the lunchtime. Loved munching on these.

They obviously taste great when the oil dollop is bigger (or so I thought!)

Believe me there are so many people like me who believed that fat, bacon and ice-cream are mandatory sins of the culinary world! The humungous addition of these ingredients alone would make a dish taste out of the world! But, this version of “besanwali bhindi” will change it for all thinkers.

It’s light, time effective and delicious! What more other than a detailed recipe would one ask for?

Voilà!

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Ingredients: (for 2 persons)

  • 20 okras/ladyfingers washed, towel dried and slit lengthwise.(select smaller ones, they are perfectly tender.)
  • 3-4 tbsps. Besan or Chickpea flour.
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 tbsp. jaggery or palm sugar.
  • 2 tsps. cilantro powder.
  • 2 tsps. cumin powder.
  • 1 tsp. roasted dried garlic powder.
  • 1 tsp. carom seeds.
  • Oil spray.
  • Oil for tempering.
  • 1 tsp. asafetida.
  • 1 tsp. turmeric.
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds.
  • 2 tbsps. Garam masala (all spices powder).

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  • Mix the besan, chili powder, cilantro powder, garam masala, cumin powder, salt, jiggery, garlic powder, carom seeds and turmeric along with little salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Hold the slit okra is a hand and stuff the besan mixture in it. Gently coat the okra into the bowl of mixture after that. This seals the okra and the stuffing well and does not allow the filling to come out while cooking. (Even if it comes out, it still tastes great J). Repeat the same for all the ladyfingers.
  • Heat 2-3 tsps. Olive oil (or any of your choice) in a pan and make the tempering. Add the cumin seeds and asafetida in hot oil and allow it to crackle.
  • Add the stuffed okra in the pan.
  • Oil spray the okra and sauté.
  • The colour of okra changes to a brighter green, that’s when it is cooked well.
  • But, we need the okra to be crisp and crunchy so allow it to crisp on a medium-slow flame. If you fear the okra to burn in the deep pan, add a flat pan (tawa) beneath it until it crisps.
  • And it’s ready!

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I understand that it takes a while stuffing each okra and then crisping it up, but the results are worth the trouble! I have seen a couple of my friends broil it in the oven to crisp it up, you can try doing that and share how! One word of advice though, while cooking okra do not cover the pan with a lid, the gel like saps within comes off and is sticky. It’s not very appetizing to the eyes L.

Serve besanwali bhindi with your choice of bread or eat it JLT! I have had this as an appetizer for many gatherings and it’s a crowd pleaser!!

 

Indian Masala Omelette


Most simple recipes are the most difficult ones to execute. My family loves eggs. Egg recipes appear simple but not every one can cook eggs to perfection. The gourmet breakfast places are busy for a reason,don’t you think? (btw,totally in need to nominations for a great breakfast place where they serve good stuff-so suggestions welcome:)!

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Rohan, my husband likes it boiled or when it’s made into a thin crêpe like with hint of green chilis and onions.  Those thin crepes are tough to execute and my husband does a great job with that. Son likes fancy stuff with cheese, peppers and dill! Don’t even think of asking him why?! He is a big fan of Chopped and Cutthroat kitchen!

I prefer a thick Indian Masala Omelette that my Aai makes. It’s simple and totally inspired by the Iranian Omelette served in Iranian Cafés along with exotic Tea in Bombay or Pune in India. My father hailed from Pune and hence my mother was introduced to that style of thick omelettes.

It’s breakfast for most of us but to me it’s BLD J. Keeping it short with yapping and sharing the version His Highness Udeet (my son :P) and I both approved. Obviously, it’s far from my mother’s though Udeet enjoyed it!

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Ingredients: (for 1 and half people :P)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 red onion finely chopped.
  • 1/8th cup chopped green capsicum.
  • 1/8th cup bell peppers (red and yellow).
  • 1 stalk of green onion finely chopped.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Olive oil-about 2 tbsps.
  • ½ cup cilantro finely chopped.
  • 1 tsp. ginger finely chopped.
  • 1/4th cup milk.
  • 2 tsps.cheese- my son wanted it because he wanted to make the recipe.could not say no to those tender little hands wanting to cook!
  • 1 tsp black pepper or ½ jalapeno finely chopped.
  • 2 tsps. turmeric powder. (Remember 100 foot journey: the movie?here’s the video).

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Method:

  • Beat the eggs with a whisk. Add milk and whish again.(Milk makes the crepes lighter and tasty-Aai’s tip J)
  • Add all the veggies in it along with cilantro, salt and turmeric.
  • Mix gently with the whisk-almost like folding it.

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  • Heat a pan, add oil and pour the batter over the pan.
  • Allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes until the edges start to leave the pan.
  • Slowly flip it with a spatula and pray it does not break. (Mine did not break this time while flipping. It broke when I was setting it on the plate :P. But, I don’t’ care for the shape J-Do ya?)
  • Cook it for 1-2 minutes and its done. The colour of the crust would be brown-golden. It’s the heavenly crust with very little oil or butter and loaded with veggies.

I have used eggs with the yolk but you can make the same without the yolk as well.I don’t favour total elimination of egg yolks. But,its a personal choice.

Eat, sleep and rejoice! Eh Bien,Bon appétite!

Saree Pledge Pact: Celebrating 4 weeks <3


The love of “Sarees” is an heirloom passed from one generation to the other in my family. I have always admired the gorgeous attire and began draping it sooner than expected from most girls born in 80’s.

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Luckily my love only deepened for this traditional piece of beauty. As I grew up, I had a collection of my own (separate from my Aai’s). My eyes caught fancy of silks and chiffons the most. The fabrics made me look leaner and were easy to maintain. I liked flaunting my (and my Aai’s) collection at various events while in India. Though my work was construction oriented and involved visiting sites (for supervision and meetings), I managed my Sareewell.

Things changed once I moved to USA after marriage. Though I carried my love for Sarees in my heart, it was difficult to flaunt it often for lack of reason or occasion. The first year I had brought with me (from India) from home a dozen Sarees! My husband wondered what would I do of all of them. He was right and I decided to carry them to India in less than a year L. I was sad that all the wonderful silks and chiffons, cottons and tussars had to be kept back into my closets in India.

Thereafter, I carried 3-4 sarees numbered for major festivities during the year. But, recently I had a brainwave to unify the women of the world through Sarees and shared my thought with Anita.Our conversations were lovelier than ever! And the group that we dreamed of was a success! The love went viral across the globe! The group was soon flooded with stories about sarees and details on their type etc. I was happy again! The tradition needs to live and passed to the new generation!

Featured imageA member of the group Deepta stumbled upon “Saree Pledge news on BBC and shared with me over a month ago. A Saree Pledge pact signed between two friends Ally Mathan and Anju Maudgal Kadam residing in India was the news that gained attention from all over the world. I was inspired

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No sooner after that news was read that I became a part of a Saree Pledge Pact with my friend Sheetal Kirtikar-Kulkarni who shares my love for Sarees equally. We embarked upon our journey together and decided to adorn Saree once a week. However, our challenges are different from those residing in India as we live in a foreign land. But, we made up our minds and decided to keep it an honest pledge for as long as we can.

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As a gift at the end of a certain tenure we plan to gift each other identical sarees, perhaps different colours J (I know crazy but we are loving it!).

Our acquaintance goes back to my days at L.S Raheja School of Architecture in Bombay. Pretty girl Sheetal was my senior and we always looked up to her for design solutions and concepts. She was one of the ace students of her batch. After she passed out, we lost touch. Thanks to Facebook,we connected again. She is extremely talented and enthusiastic mother of twin boys (Siddharth and Gautam) and stays in Minneapolis, Mn. We shared our love for food as well. She is an amazing culinary mind! Not only that, she has a great eye for photography. With so much in common, we happily joined arms to board on this journey I started 4 weeks ago and Sheetal joined me in the middle (last 2 weeks)! And, look how!

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(Sheetal’s journey is 2 weeks old but we have put in her old pics) Our husbands (mine is Rohan & hers is Jaydeep) have gone bananas with our new pledge! They are totally supportive but are wondering how did these mad women get a long lost twin? 😛 Don’t ask J .While they are having a crazy time laughing at our ideas we are having a blast with our rekindled friendship and love of Sarees!

Me and Sheetal welcome all enthusiastic ladies to join us in the revolution for re-incarnating Saree as an attire. This is a challenge based on honest commitment. If you cannot make it in a particular week, you would have to wear it twice in the next week! Are you ready sisters? If yes,follow our journey on this blog and share your experiences through mails!

Our closets are packed and all set for the next few weeks! My Aai shall be soon sending a batch of my sarees for fueling this challenge :P. Sheetal’s closet is all decked up and colour coded with over 50 sarees!

And in the words of true LSRiates (our alma matter), we say “Bol LSR halla Bol, Saree pehnke jorse bol” J (LSR girl- conquer the challenge draped in a saree J).

Any more takers to join us (me and Sheetal) ? Share your saree pact experiences on this blog!