Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Hummus with Tahini & Sumac(ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna)

If there is one thing I always have in my fridge.. its Hummus. Its my back up option if I have no time to cook. Just some toasted pitta, and hummus will do for me. I dint believe my hummus was good until my friend's 9month old tried it and loved it to bits. I make jars of it for the kiddo and mum. It's that good and I seriously think its a crime to buy it. I mean just how difficult can it be to just whizz up 4 ingredients? So here's the basic recipe which is very forgiving. I would recommend using about 450gms dry chikpeas, soaked overnight to yield 750g and then boil with plenty of water. Drain all the water before making the hummus. But if life's too short to boil chikpeas use canned ones but drain & rinse them.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Festive Suppers: Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic & Chestnut Soup with Truffle Oil

This is the time of the year I find solace in my kitchen, cooking or baking something, escaping from the relentless chill. This is, particularly, the season of soups and one-pot meals in my house, partly coz its perfect duvet meal by the fire or in front of the TV and also because it is a perfect way to in stay in shape. After facing bone chilling weather, there is nothing more soul satisfying & comforting than a steaming bowl of home-made soup, So here’s another one from my under-a-fiver series, Roasted Cauliflower-Garlic-Chestnut soup.

Roasted Cauliflower-Garlic-Chestnut soup
1 med-sized cauliflower
300g chestnuts
1 ltr veg stock
1 head of garlic sliced in half
Extra-Virgin Olive oil for drizzling
Salt & pepper to taste
Grated nutmeg
Truffle oil & cream to serve
Preheat oven to 220C. Roast the chestnuts score an X across the top of each nut with a sharp knife, for about 25-30 minutes or until done. Meanwhile cut the cauliflower into florets and drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Use one half the garlic head and put it alongside the cauliflower, wrapped in a foil. Whack these in the oven along with chestnuts and roast for about 15 minutes. Let it cool & peel the chestnuts when easy to handle. Blend the cauliflower along with the chestnuts & peeled garlic cloves in a processor until coarse. Pour the mixture into a pan and blend in the stock. Let it simmer for a 10-15 minutes. Check for seasoning and ladle out into serving bowls. Drizzle liberally with truffle oil & cream & grate some nutmeg on top.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Perfect Crispy Dosas (Indian Rice & lentil Pancakes)

Like any South Indian I am a sucker for crispy home-made dosas. This is a delicacy that I grew up with. Mum would always have some batter in the fridge. We would have it for breakfast or as after-school bites or for those in-between times. I follow my mum here and trust me it’s a great thing to have in your fridge for back-up, for those days when you don’t feel like cooking a big meal. 
Dosa is a fermented indian pancake made from rice and lentils. There are I guess countless varieties of dosas from super thin ones served plain or filled with masala (made of vegetables or meat), to American pancake like ones called uttappams made with onions. There is also a version made with more lentils than rice called adai and ones made with just flours like chickpea or plain flour. For a quick dosa you could buy the ready to make mix that is found in any Asian grocers. Dosa’s are rich in carbs, has no saturated fats (unless drenched in ghee) when made from rice and lentils mean that it is gluten-free and contains protein. It's also a recipe under fiver for two.
For green chutney recipe click here.

It’s not really rocket science to make them. Just need to get the batter right & then thin layer of the batter is ladled onto a hot griddle, drizzled with oil or ghee & spread out evenly like a crepe, & cooked on both sides until crispy and done. 
Over the years, I’ve perfected the art of making awesome dosas. I remember it was one of the recipes I scribbled onto my ‘cant-do-without-recipes book’ when I left home. A true blue Rebel that I am) I can never follow a recipe to the T, even if it’s traditional & perfect (not entirely because I wanted to change the recipe, but because not always I found the ingredients required. I do like to add my own spin. So below is a perfect recipe for dosa that you are most welcome to tweak, but do let me know how you’ve changed it!
Mum’s Versatile Idli/Dosa Batter Recipe 
3-4 cups Idli Rice 
1 cup Urad Dal/Ultham Paruppu/White Lentils 
1tsp Methi seeds/Vendyam/F
enugreek seeds  
Wash rice & dals & soak in enough water for at least 3-4 hours, separately. Grind the dal first into a smooth paste using as little water as possible & then grind the rice to a slightly coarser textured paste. Transfer to a big bowl & add salt. Leave the bowl in a warm place to ferment overnight or for 12-15 hrs. 
You can make idli out of the batter for the first 2 days and then make dosas, once the dough had fermented enough.
Note:I use Basmati rice as I find idli rice ridiculously expensive in UK. I also add a fistful of poha. If you find idli rice then there is no need to use poha in the recipe. 
My Recipe for Dosa Batter: 
2 cups Basmati Rice 
¾ cup Urad Dal/
Ultham Paruppu/White Lentils
2tbsp Channa Dal/Kadla Paruppu/Split Chickpeas
2tbsp Tuvar dal/Tuvaram Paruppu/Pigeonpea 
1 tsp Methi/Vendyam/Fenugreek seeds 
Handful of Poha/Aval/Flattened Rice
Wash rice & dals & soak in enough water for at least 3-4 hours, separately. Grind the dal first into a smooth paste using as little water as possible & then grind the rice to a slightly coarser textured paste. Transfer to a big bowl & add salt. Leave the bowl in a warm place to ferment overnight or for 12-15 hrs. 
Making Dosas:
Mix the fermented dough with water to make a smooth runny batter. Heat a flat griddle over medium-high heat and ladle out about half a cup worth of batter & spread out into a thin circle. It’s best to use the back of the ladle to do this. Drizzle ghee or oil onto the sides & dollop on the centre. Once the edges are brown, lift off using a spatula under the dosa and flip it over to cook on the other side. Cook on either side for about 1-2 minutes. Serve hot with chutney or Sambhar. You could make a hearty wrap by filling it up with potato curry or any filling of your choice.
Note: In colder places like where I live, its best to pre-heat the oven to 30-40C. Turn-off the oven and place the batter in there. On extreme cold days, I add a pinch of yeast before I put it in a warm place. It ferments beautifully.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tinda Masala with Fluffy Basmati Rice/Roti (Flatbread)

Tinda also called Indian round gourd or Indian Baby Pumpkin is quite popular in curries back home. Its pale green in colour and is the size of a tomato. They are slightly citrusy in taste. If you manage to find tender ones you could make stuffed tindas but here is a easy recipe for the non-meat-eater's-curry-night complete with basmati rice or rotis/naan. Now I have just added 1 potato simply because that’s the only one I had and didn’t want to leave it sit there lonely ;-). This is again well under a fiver to feed 4. For a fancier meal you could make a simple raitha, some fresh mint-coriander chutney and poppadams. Scroll down for the raitha & chutney recipes.

Tinda-Aloo Masala Curry
1tbsp Oil
1tsp jheera/cumin seeds
2 med sized onions, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves of garlic, grated
700gms tinda washed & quartered.
1-2 potatoes washed, peeled & quartered
2-3 tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2tsp black salt
1/2tsp jheera/cumin powder
1tsp amchoor/dry mango powder
½ tsp red chilli powder like Kashmiri mirch
1tbsp garam masala/curry powder
Salt to taste
Handful of fresh coriander chopped
Heat oil in a pan, over med heat and add the jheera/cumin. Next sauté the onions till pale & translucent, then add the ginger-garlic followed by tomatoes. Now add the dry spices one by one and stir. Now add the tindas & potatoes and cook till tender, stirring well in between. Garnish with fresh coriander. If you prefer a more gravy like curry you could slightly add more chilli & spices & add a can of coconut milk.
Simple raitha
1 med sized onion chopped
1 med sized tomato chopped
½ med sized cucumber diced
1 green chilli finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
1 pot of greek style yoghurt
Fresh coriander or dill for garnish
Toss all the ingredients into a bowl and spoon the yoghurt and mix. Check for seasoning ad garnish with coriander. This is great with pulavs/biryanis as well.
Mint-Coriander Chutney
1 bunch mint, washed & chopped
1 bunch coriander, washed & chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 inch fresh ginger
1 small raw mango chopped or you could use ½ a lime juice squeezed instead
1 green chilli
Salt to taste
Whizz everything in a blender until smooth. This is perfect as is but for a creamier dip you could blend in some sourcream/greek style youghurt (to go with kebabs/bhajias).

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Roasted (Veggies) Ratatouille Pasta: Living Leaner #2

I hadn’t ever tasted Ratatouille until I watched the Disney movie with the same name. I tried the dish in a posh restaurant in Pondy (India) but the magic wasn’t there. My questions still remained unanswered! Why does a snobbish food critic get converted into a fan after tasting this dish? Did the dish actually deserve its pivotal part in the climax?
There was only one way to answer these questions - go back to the it again, look for clues. And I finally found the clue; Anton loved the dish because it was a staple dish made by his mother. It took him back to his childhood memories. So instead of trying it in any posh restaurant, I decided to make it at home. The walls fell apart and I fell in love... in love with Ratatouille, my fallback comfort food!
Super-easy-to-make classic french provençal vegetable dish,with roasted vegetables and well under a fiver for two. This can be served with rice or pasta.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A New blog is born and all about Living Leaner

Dear Foodies,
Thanks so much for all the support in the success of I have created With-A-Pinch-Of-Salt for everyday fast & simple recipes.
We all have times in life when we are on a budget (esp student life) but #living leaner doesn’t mean we can’t eat good, healthy, fresh food. 
So We..yp Me the chef and S the sous chef, will try to share a recipe everyday under a budget but healthy & scrumptious food, (ignore the styling and fancy images. Just good food straight off the stove clicked & posted).
Challenge: Food for two under a Fiver.
Total Cost = Less than £3 to feed 2 (Again increase the portion size & its still under a fiver).
Cost of Making Paneer: £1.30 Milk £1 (2.27L), Lemon Juice: £0.30
Cost of Making Paneer Bhurji : £1.91 Paneer £1.30, Pepper £0.20 Tomato £0.14 Onion £0.7 Giner+Garlic+Chilli £0.20 (Lets ignore the price of the dry spices as they are anyways cheap.)
Cost of Tortilla:£0.21 each*2=£0.42
Not all of the Paneer Bhurji gets used so you can use it to make another meal. They are great with some flat bread/rotis or as a toasted sandwich. I also make a vegan version with Tofu.
Do read #Livingleaner posts from my lovely friends Mona & Simone.

Paneer Bhurji (Indian Cheese Scramble)
250g Homemade Paneer (Scroll down to see the Recipe)
1 Large Onion, chopped
½ inch Ginger, chopped
1 clove Garlic, chopped
1-2 Green Chilli, chopped
1 Pepper, chopped
1 Large Tomato, chopped
1tsp Curry Powder
½tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Chaat masala
½ tsp Cumin Powder
½ tp Black Salt
Salt, to taste
1tsp, Oil
Cumin for seasoning
Fresh Coriander for garnishing
Method: Heat oil in a med sized pan and once hot add the cumin seeds. Let it splutter & then sauté’ the chopped onion until transparent. Next sauté the ginger & garlic, then the chilli, pepper, tomato & all the dry powders. Add the paneer and sauté for a few minutes till it resembles scrambled eggs. Sprinkle fresh coriander before serving.
For the Paneer Bhurji-Wholemeal Wrap, spread some hummus or *onion thokku (chutney) evenly on the wholemeal tortilla. Spoon the paneer-bhurji onto the centre, fold and grill the wrap for a few minutes. You could also add spinach or any salad greens before grilling. I sometimes add green peas.
For a Vegan version swap paneer for Tofu.
How To Make Fresh Paneer
Simply bring 2- 3 litres of milk to a full boil and add 1or 2 freshly squeezed lemon juice. You could also add yoghurt or vinegar but I prefer lemon juice. When the curd separates, sieve the cheese onto a cheese cloth and drain. If you need paneer in blocks, after initial drain, drain further by placing weight on top. You could use the whey for kneading rotis or in soups instead of stock.