Thursday, May 15, 2008

Layered Mexican Dip

I had prepared this dip for a Super Bowl Party. Imagine how long its been! My blogger self made sure someone takes pictures of this dip that was most certainly blog-worthy (its a different thing that these hurried pics at the party didn't come out that great!) When I read about A.W.E.D Mexico hosted at DK's Culinary Bazaar I figured this would be a good time to brush the dust off these pics! A.W.E.D is a celebration of World Cuisines and I feel it is a great way for us to try a variety of food and get to know kitchens throughout the world better! :)

I got the idea from Nupur's 3 layered Nacho dip. I made some changes here and there, added some layers and here it is. The problem is that it's been so long since I made this that I am totally lost on the measurements, thankfully this dip is pretty forgiving, measurements don't matter all that much and you can add/remove ingredients as it works for you :)

I made mine for about 12-15 people (there were other appetizers too) and everyone did enjoy it. I will list the ingredients and method layer by layer or the list will look way longer than it should :)

Layer 1 - Handful of chopped onion, 2-3 cloves of garlic, 2 Tbsp tomato ketchup, 1 tsp butter, 1 tsp cumin powder, salt to taste and 2 cups of cooked red kidney beans. Heat butter, saute onions and garlic, add salt and cumin powder. Saute for a minute, add ketchup and beans (I used canned - removed the liquid and washed the beans)and mix well. Cook till the beans are slightly mushy. I just used my pressure cooker and cooked to 1 whistle. Make sure most of the liquid is dried out. If in a time crunch, you can skip the cooking with onion garlic part. Simply mixing up beans, salt, cumin, red chile powder and ketchup works very well too.

Layer 2 - Mix very finely chopped bell-peppers (all the colors work out well, a mix looks really pretty), onions, tomatoes, cilantro and jalapenos. Add a dash of lemon juice and salt to taste and set aside.

Layer 3 - Heat 1 tsp butter in a non-stick pan, add chopped jalapenos and a cup of frozen corn (washed - its ok if it is not thawed), toss till the corn begins to turn golden. Add a dash of salt.

Layer 4 - Here is the most fun layer. Grind a handful of cilantro and jalapeno with a little salt, cumin powder and a dash of lemon juice to a paste. Fold this in sour creme (light sour creme works just fine) and mix well. Add a tsp or two of milk if the sour creme mix doesn't feel very 'spreadable'.

Layer 5 - Shredded Mexican cheese mix (or any cheese of your choice - cheddar and jack work well), chopped spring onions.

1. Make sure the beans mix is dry and cool, spread it in a glass bowl. Lightly sprinkle some shredded cheese.
2. Remove the juices released from the veggie mix and spread on top of the beans mix. I didn't have the heart to do that, but if you let the juices remain, the dip tends to get very watery.
3. Spread the corn-jalapeno mix. Add a few dashes of Tabasco/Chalula or any Mexican hot sauce all over the layer. It seeps into the bottom layers too.
4. Spread the flavored sour creme.
5. Finally, sprinkle shredded cheese and spring onions.
6. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours for the flavors to blend.

Serve with Tortilla chips! You can add more layers - this dip leaves a lot up to your imagination. A layer of guacamole should be great! Thanks Nupur for the lovely idea! :)

So this Mexican dip is off to Culinary Bazaar for DK's "A Worldly Epicurean’s Delight – In short A.W.E.D." event! Thank you for hosting DK, this is a great concept!

Some other Mexican recipes on my blog - Veggie Quesedillas with guacamole and fresh salsa and Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ma's Kadhi

There are many things in my ma's cooking that I crave for almost everyday. But there is something really special about her kadhi. There have been more than several incidents when I would be thinking of ma's kadhi at work, and when I would call her the next day and happen to ask what she cooked/plans to cook for lunch - her answer would be kadhi-chawal! Also there were innumerable times when I would come home from college hungry and craving for kadhi-chawal and it would be on the table! I don't know how that happens but it has happened enough number of times that I don't get surprised any more :)

I normally like any kind of kadhi, but this one is my favorite - pakode wali kadhi with aromatic ginger and garlic. I believe each ingredient makes a difference as you can taste each and every single thing that goes in this kadhi. Here is ma's recipe -

For Pakoda (about 10 pakodas) -
Besan (chickpea flour) - about 5-6 Tbps
Very finely chopped onion - 2 tbsp
Very finely chopped 1-2 green chiles and handful of cilantro
Salt and red chile powder to taste.
Water to mix.
Oil to deep fry.

Mix all of the above very well, don't make the batter very thick or the pakodas will remain hard even after adding to the kadhi. I like them soft and juicy after they've been cooked in the kadhi. Let the batter stand for 10 mins (if you have the time). Deep fry the pakodas in hot oil and keep aside (read - hide! or there won't be any left for the kadhi!).

For Kadhi (Serves 2) -
Besan (chickpea flour) - 1.5 Tbsp
Plain Yogurt (low fat, no fat anything is fine), slightly sour yogurt works the best - 3/4th Cup
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4th tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Red chile powder - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Garlic (sliced thin in rounds) - 2-3 cloves
Ginger (grated) - 2 tsp
Green chile (slit lengthwise) - 1 or 2
Curry leaves - a few (IF you can find them!)
Salt to taste
Cooking oil - 1 Tbsp

Whisk together yogurt and besan with a cup of water to get rid of lumps if any.
Heat oil, once it is warm enough add mustard seeds. As the first ones begin to crackle add fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds and add green chiles, ginger and garlic.
Saute till ginger-garlic turn golden. Add red chile powder, turmeric and salt and add yogurt-besan mixture quickly and mix well. It is important to be quick here or the spices will burn. Its a good idea to pre measure and mix them.
At this point the kadhi wouldn't look yellow, if its of thickish consistency, add more water as the kadhi will thicken on cooking. Simmer till it begins to boil and look yellow. The objective is to make sure the kadhi is close to done before adding the pakodas. Boiling too long after adding pakodas will cause them to break (specially if you succeeded in making them soft :)) And adding them too late will leave them dry. Add pakodas and bring to a boil, simmer for a few more minutes.
Garnish with fresh cilantro (it adds a lot to the flavor, mom doesn't make kadhi if she doesn't have cilantro at home :))

Serve with hot rice (cooked with a little salt). I love radish on the side with kadhi-chawal but onions and mango pickles work well too! This kadhi is great on its own too, I usually finish a bowl before even reaching for the rice :)

I was hoping to post this on Mother's day for my dearest Ma who is so far away from me but still knows everything that I feel even without asking me about it. Love you Ma!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dressed up Dhokla!

It's high time I get back to my blog :) Initially I was actually occupied with worldly matters, but I don't think I have an excuse now! I've just been out of touch with my little blog world out here! Can't wait to get started again!

I never knew the difference between Gujarati Khaman and Dhokla. To me there were yellow dhoklas and white dhoklas. I did discover in time that Khaman or my so called yellow dhokla is made with chickpea flour or ground bengal gram (chana daal). Where as the 'white' variety could be made with rice or sooji/rava/semolina and is called Dhokla :). Both of us prefer dhokla over Khaman for some undefined reason! Both are equally delicious! I have always used Gits instant mixes to make dhoklas but this time I tried making them with sooji. I got the basic recipe from Trupti's 'The Spice Who Loved Me'. A beautiful blog with a ton of great recipes. A great tutorial blog for someone like me who is still a novice at Gujarati cooking! This dhokla recipe is perfect, its as simple as it gets and the result is light, fluffy, absolutely delicious dhoklas. Thanks Trupti!

Sooji/Semolina - 1 Cup
Besan/Chickpea flour - 1 Tbsp
Yogurt (preferably sour) - enough to bring everything together
Asafoetida (heeng) - a fat pinch
Turmeric (haldi) - a tiny pinch
Salt and Sugar to taste - don't skip the sugar, a tiny bit rounds off the flavors very well :)
Baking Powder - a pinch
Lemon juice - 2 tsp
Eno/Fruit Salt - 1 tsp

Mix everything except lemon juice and eno together to idli batter like consistency. Let stand for 10 mins. In the meanwhile heat water in a steamer. Grease plates for steaming the dhokla. I used two plates, you can use one if it is large enough to leave room for the dhoklas to rise. Just before steaming, mix lemon juice and eno to the batter and blend lightly using your hand. The batter will turn a little frothy. Pour in the steaming plates. I sprinkled red chile powder over the batter in one plate and freshly ground pepper on the other. Steam covered for 15 mins. Insert a fork and if it comes out clean, dhokla is ready. Remove plates from steamer and let cool for 5 mins.

Chutney -
Cilantro leaves - 1 Cup
Fresh mint leaves - a handful
Green chiles - 2
A tiny piece of ginger
Peanuts - 1 tbsp
Salt and lime juice to taste.

Grind everything together to a smooth chutney.

Assembling -
Remove one layer of dhokla on a plate and apply green chutney liberally. Cover with the other layer of dhokla.

Tempering -
Heat 2 tsp oil, as it warms add a tsp of mustard seeds (rai) and a slit green chile. When mustard begins to crackle, add a tsp of sesame seeds. Pour this mix over the dhokla and sprinkle chopped cilantro.

Cut the dhokla in square pieces and serve warm! Cold coffee made a great accompaniment to these dhoklas for a summer weekend breakfast! If you don't have time to make chutney, ketchup works very well too. You can spice up the ketchup with a dash of hot sauce for that extra kick :) These dhoklas are great even if you skip the whole layering business and just temper them with mustard and sesame seeds. We usually have dhoklas without any tempering - with just red chile or black pepper sprinkled on top. In that case, adding a little ginger-green chile paste to the batter (like Trupti did) would be a great idea!