Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cream Cheese Muffins


The frequency of baking cakes has come down to a certain degree in my kitchen. But since my older son loves muffins, I do bake them once in a while. And sometimes pack them off for his colleagues at his office. He's a content writer in a medical company. I'm happy he's based here as of now. The future might be a different story.
Recently, I went to Haflong to visit my mother. She's 75 years old and even with bad knees but plenty of physiotherapy, she has started working on her vegetable garden. There's always something to pick, eat and even wonder at the things that grow.:)
One portion of the garden where beans & gourds grow
And when I am at my mother's, I can never resist taking food shots in the backyard. There are coconut and betel nut trees, guava, banana, jackfruit and so many more. The sight of the blue hills is always such a joy to behold. 

Here's an early morning shot of freshly-made musk melon juice taken in my mother's backyard.
Ingredients:
200 grams cream cheese at room temperature
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
11/2 cups flour (I used half and half of all-purpose and whole wheat flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup melted butter
Fresh from the oven

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 C . Sieve the flour with the baking powder and set aside.
In a blender, mix the wet ingredients.
Pour in the dry ingredients and mix till homogeneous.
If you feel that the mixture is a bit too dry, add about a tablespoon of milk.
With the help of a spoon, transfer the batter to lined muffin moulds.
Bake for 20-25 minutes till golden brown.
Remove and cool on a wire rack.
And the dried rose petals came from this rose that I plucked yesterday.
These muffins are wonderfully soft and so fragrant. I doubt whether they will see the light of day!!:)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Guava Curry


Most acidic fruits like elephant apples, Indian jujube, green mangoes, Indian olives and star fruits, to name a few, are cooked in a sweet/sour kind of chutney but we have always had guavas without cooking. Guava curry is more popular in the western and drier regions of our country.
Guava is one of the most common fruits of summer and they are nutritious. It is said that one guava contains four times the amount of vitamin C as an orange. Tropical fruits always remind me of my childhood as we had so many trees and summer afternoons were spent amid those trees and the fruits they bore. Some trees bear fruits during winter too but winter harvests are never as bounteous as the one in summer.

Yesterday's harvest. I left out the semi-ripe ones from this photo. The brown patches look a little unsightly but does nothing to the taste!:) My yard has three trees. The first one came from my parents' garden. I had dug up a sapling that grew next to a guava tree of the pink variety. I was so sure that it would produce pink fruits too. Three or four years later, I can't remember exactly, I was disappointed to see that the pulp was creamy white. But the taste was so sweet that I didn't really keep on thinking about pink...

Coming to the recipe, it's from an old magazine that used the pink variety.

Ingredients:
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
10 -12 curry leaves
2-3 green chillies, scored lengthwise
A pinch of hing/asafoetida
1/2 cup curd, beaten
2 tomatoes, chopped
5 semi-ripe guavas, deseeded and diced
3 tsp, grated jaggery
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
Chopped herbs of your choice (I used serrated coriander)
2 tbs mustard oil

Method:
Heat the oil in a pan. When it's hot enough, add the fennel, cumin and mustard seeds.
Once they sputter, add the curry leaves, green chillies and hing.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till they turn mushy. This will take about 10 minutes.
Stir in the beaten curd and give the mix a good stir.
Add about 1/2 cup warm water and the diced guavas. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so till the guavas turn soft.
Add the jaggery, garam masala, lemon juice and salt. Check and make adjustments, if needed.
Take it off the heat and garnish with the chopped herbs,
This goes with either rice or with puris.
Pink guavas from my mother's garden
I loved it. Although my boys weren't keen on it, I'm glad I tried this dish. Particularly with home-grown produce.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fritters Made Of Water Lily Stalks

The wide plains of our state is rich in aquatic plants. And during this season, water spinach and water lilies with their extra long stalks are widely sold. Our regular vendor who comes each morning in his bicycle with baskets laden with banana flowers, lemons, chillies, and various leafy greens had plenty of water lilies yesterday. Now with flowers that look like these, who can resist them?
I usually ask the vendors how they like to eat/cook the vegetables they sell. In this case, he said that they taste really good when you stir-fry the stems with some garlic. But I had done that before and quite liked it. These stalks are mild in taste and need very little cooking time.
A basket of water lilies
 The pretty flowers were drowsy in the hot sun and I simply couldn't take my eyes off them.


Water lily stalk fritters:
Recipe adapted from here.
Ingredients:
Water lily stems
Chick pea flour
Rice flour
Chilli powder
Nigella seeds
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
A dash of sugar
A pinch of baking soda
Oil to fry

Method:
Remove the flowers and wash the stalks. Peel the skin. It comes off easily in long strips. The action is the same as stringing beans or removing the skin from colocasia stems. You could cut the stalks into four or five parts to make it easier. Cut into even-sized pieces.
Wash and drain in a colander.
Take a toothpick and skewer the cut stalks like a small raft. I used 6 pieces for each 'raft'.
Keep doing so till all the prepared stalks are used up. 
In a bowl, mix the flours. No measurements are given here as with fritters we usually go by eye. The proportion is that there should be two parts chick pea flour and one part rice flour.
Add the seasonings and the nigella seeds. Mix well. Add water and make a thick batter.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan.
Dip each 'raft' in the batter and fry in the hot oil. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
The toothpicks can be removed but I left them on.

Instead of making regular chutney. I made a tzatziki dip with...
1 cup of strained yoghurt
1 small cucumber, peeled and grated and the water squeezed out
Salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic peeled, crushed and chopped to bits
Freshly grated black pepper, as per taste
A drizzle of extra virgin olive olive oil
Mint leaves as a garnish
Combine all the ingredients except the last two, till homogeneous. Drizzle the olive oil on top and garnish with a few mint leaves/sprigs.

The reddish colour comes from the use of chilli powder. I loved the fritters. With the rest of the stalks, I'll be trying out another recipe soon.