Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Note of Thanks!

Appa a.k.a Kuzhi Paniyaram a.k.a Paddu, call it what you may, but it sure was on my 'to make' list for a while. Okay, so let me describe it for you - something comforting that Doddamma (my granny) used to make for us. It is (I think) made from a batter very similar to Dosa/Idly. Well, if you ask me, I'd probably say it is made with Dosa batter. You kitchen goddesses out there, please enlighten me :) Anyways, it's looks like a dumpling, is kind of crisp on the outside and soft 'n' fluffy inside. It can be made both sweet and savoury. Believe me, it tastes much better than my rather boring description of it. Spiced up with loads of chopped onion, chillies and coriander, served with a dollop of ghee/butter and some fresh green chutney...finger lickin' good! The sweet version is great too. If I remember correctly, I think Doddamma used to make it with cucumber and jaggery. Unusual combination did you say? Well, you should try it.

So then, I was saying, I'd been wanting to make it in my cozy little kitchen here in Sydney. Husby had also expressed his greed for it a couple of times. But sad thing was I didn't have the special griddle for it. And then on my recent trip to Bangalore, my dear Chikkamma (mum's little sister) gave it to me as a present. Now, wasn't that a stroke of luck? That was one thing I refused to leave behind, even though my baggage was dangerously tipping towards E.X.C.E.S.S! Here's a picture of it - 

Back in Sydney, I unpacked my very own 'appa kallu' (okay, I'm not making it up! That's what it's called) in glee. I made some appas or kuzhi paniyarams the very next day. However, I don't have a recipe for it as such 'cos I made them using a store bought Dosa mix. I simply prepared the batter as per instructions, added lots of chopped onion, green chillies and fresh coriander and cooked them with (very little) spray oil. Thay turned out so good that between Husby darling & me, we easily devoured 25 something of the yummy little rascals! I did say they were little, didn't I? Lest you think what gluttons we are, hehehe. I made Tomato-Onion Chutney to go with it. Yum-mmy!

So that was a little story of our craving being satisfied. All thanks to Jathu Chikkamma :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Basil and Spinach Risotto with Parmesan

 In a little Italian restaurant in La Jolla, on our holiday in the States last year, I had the best risotto. It could have been the slightly elated feeling of being on a holiday, the beautiful weather and the interesting surroundings or just the hunger! Anyways, I've been wanting to recreate something similar at home, well not the weather or anything, the recipe. Of course you knew that, tsk! So I scoured the internet for simple risotto recipes. I had some fresh basil and spinach but no mushrooms. I had a small bag of arborio rice but no white wine. Finally, I came up with my own easy version. It was quick and easy and tasted great! Here's the recipe-
  1. 1 cup arborio rice
  2. 2 cups vegetable stock
  3. 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  4. 1/4 cup chopped basil
  5. 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  6. 1 tbspn olive oil/butter
  7. salt & pepper to taste
  • Wash the rice and drain.
  • Heat oil in a saucepan/pot and add the rice.
  • Stir around for a bit and then add in the spinach and basil.
  • Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • When almost all the broth is absorbed, sprinkle some parmesan and cover and cook until the rice is well cooked.
  • Serve hot with a generous garnish of the remaining parmesan.
 You can add mushroom or zucchini to this recipe. A word of caution though, be wary of the salt you add as parmesan does have some in it already.

Bruschetta, Risotto and frozen Tiramisu from the supermarket - An Italian feast at home!Easy-peasy :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Inspired Italian Cooking: Bruschetta

Back from a holiday in India, I slowly felt the kitchen induced lethargy. All the inevitable cooking, the endless pots 'n' pans - some in the sink, some in the dishwasher, the wilting veggies in my fridge, made me want to scream in frustration! Then, as if a storm was gone, the calm settled in, giving me a renewed sense of enthusiasm. I wanted to make something nice for dinner, really! Both husby & I were bored of the routine and wanted something else. So, I decided to try some Italian cuisine. Nothing fancy, thought I'd start with Bruschetta. Awfully simple to make but one heck of a classy, timeless and highly satisfying appetiser/starter/snack!

Bruschetta for two -

4 thick slices of bread - the classic recipe calls for a baguette, but I think any bread will work for a quick fix. (I cut my square slices in half)

1 firm tomato, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 tbspns fresh basil, finely chopped

3 tbspns grated parmesan

salt & pepper to taste

some minced garlic in olive oil to brush on the slices of bread

  1. Mix finely chopped onion, tomato, basil, cheese and salt & pepper in a bowl.
  2. Brush the slices of bread with the garlic and olive oil.
  3. Grill/toast the slices until crunchy and light brown.
  4. Spread a spoonful of the prepared mixture and serve immediately.
  5. Top with more grated cheese just before serving.
Fresh bruschetta, a bottle of good wine and endless conversation...now that's something I needed to calm down!


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