Spinach dosa stir fry with vegetables - For VCC2

Creating a low calorie dish does not call for a whole lot of determination, but limiting the portions and thereby restricting your daily intake of calories sure require some. A low calorie meal lives up to its name, only when enjoyed within the suggested serving size. When everything is crunched back down to the basics, dieting is all about attitude, of convincing the body about the requirements of the mind. If you are perplexed about this sudden deviance from my usual “sugary” culinary inclinations, this post is for My Dhaba’s VCC 2 event with “Low calorie Food –Indian or Chinese” as the chosen theme.

My entry for the event is a dish for the Main Course category, is not exactly based on any existing recipe that I know of and was rather conjured in the spur of the moment. Green Spinach –wheat dosa ( or just call it a Spinach crepe) , appear in this dish in a slight geometrical aberrance from its usual round self. A plate of this recipe is a serving equivalent of 1 medium size dosa with 2 ½ cups of mixed vegetables and some added proteins per person for a filling lunch or dinner. Spiced up like a traditional Indian fare, this recipe is not too dietary sounding as a Jell-O meal and has proteins, carbs, fibers and other essential nutrients going well together. If you can afford to enjoy 350-400 or so calories for a lunch or dinner, this is going to work well along with some vegetable raita served on the side

For two servings
Per serving ~ 350-400 Cal (when served with 2 -3 tbsp of vegetable raita )

Whole wheat Flour – ½ cup
Fresh Spinach, chopped – 2 cups
Chopped vegetables (carrots, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, tomatoes etc.) – 3 cups
Bell pepper cut into tiny squares – 1 cup
Chopped onions – 2 tbsp
Minced ginger – 1 tsp
Minced Garlic – 1 tsp
Green chilies chopped (optional) 1 tsp
Green onion chopped – 2 tbsp
Powdered Cumin –3/4 tsp
Crushed paneer – 1-2 tsp
Lemon juice 2 tbsp
Cilantro- 2 tbsp
Oil – 1 ½ tsp
Water – 1 cup
Salt – to taste

Puree spinach with 1 cup of water,1/4 tsp cumin, 2 pinches of salt and ½ tbsp lemon juice. Add wheat flour and mix well to make a thin batter. Make three medium size dosas ( or crepes) . Cool and cut into long thin strips to resemble fettuccine. Heat 1 tsp oil till smoking hot, add chopped onions, and cook for ½ a minute. Add ginger, garlic, green chilies and mix well. Add bell pepper, chopped vegetables (except tomatoes). Add salt and cumin, sprinkle with 2 tbsp water, and cook covered for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, dosa strips, cook in high heat with constant stirring till the mixture is dry. Remove from fire, add chopped cilantro and paneer. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix well and serve hot with tomato raita.

Calories per serving calculated based on data obtained from www.thecaloriecounter.com
You can always improve on the calories by adding a diced hardboiled egg or spoonfuls of spiced cooked meat to this recipe.


Blackberry Rock -for Sugar High Friday # 21

I have lived through a number of reasonably and irrationally hot summers, however enjoying a cup of hot coffee or tea was never postponed due to an accidental rise in mercury. At the same time my appreciation for frozen desserts and icy drinks has gradually gone up in the last few years. I am always game for a granita, not to mention a coffee granita ! Last weekend was unusually hot and humid, and our fridge was well stocked up with freshly picked blackberries. Making the best out of both situations we made this semi frozen blackberry rock to send in to the 21st SHF event hosted by talented and witty "The Delicious Life" . You guessed right, the theme this time is ICE ICE BABY!!

This is a berry rich dessert, tastes best when made with blackberries, but any other type will do just fine.

Blackberries coarsely crushed 1 cup
Yogurt ½ cup
Sugar 1 tbsp (or to your requirement)
Ginger juice ¼ tsp
Milk 1 tbsp

Mix everything together. Freeze for 2-3 hours or till the mixture is slushy.


Weekend Cake Peek # 1

A simple summer fruit basket cake from last year. Learn to weave your own basket here

Linzer cookies - Christmas in July !

The famous Austrian- Linzer cookie is one charming goodie, a jam filled cookie with a window of its own!!!! Considered as a cookie equivalent of the famed Linzer torte, this melt in the mouth butter cookie has a warm blend of flavors coming from the added ground almond, lemon zest, cinnamon and the seedless raspberry jam/preserve used as filling. A couple of years ago, for my first Christmas here, one of our friends gave me a box of assorted Linzer cookies with all different shapes and fillings. I loved this cookie ever since, and when the berry season came calling this year I made it again using the blueberry conserve we made with freshly picked blueberries. You can use any fruit jam for sandwiching the cookie, substituting almonds with cashew nuts is a nice variation to try.
Blueberry Conserve

2 cups Blueberries
1 cup Sugar (reduce according to your taste)

Mix berries and sugar and cook under medium heat for 5 minutes or till the berries turn tender. Cool. In a blender, blend the mixture till it is smooth. Transfer to a heavy bottom sauce pan, and stir till the mixture thickens. Cool to room temperature. Keep refrigerated.


3/4 cups butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely ground hazelnuts or almonds
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 ounces raspberry jam
Powdered sugar

Cream butter, add sugar and continue creaming. Add egg, lemon zest, vanilla, ground almond and mix well. Stir or sift dry ingredients together in a bowl and blend with the creamed mixture. Divide the dough into 2 portions, form thick disks and chill for 20 minutes. Roll out dough with floured rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness on a parchment or wax paper. Cut out disks (any shape), approximately 2 inches in diameter. Cut out the centers of half the disks with a cutter in the shape of your choice. Transfer the shaped cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until edges turn golden. Cool on a wire rack. Heat the jam and spread on the solid disk (without windows!) with a layer of hot jam/preserve. Take another cookie with the center cut out, and sandwich both together. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, and then fill the holes with more jam/preserve (A pastry bag fitted with a small nozzle icing tip might help a lot.) Keep and serve at room temperature.

Cookie Recipe courtesy – Food TV
Chilly Crepes

The multilayered Indian flat bread popularly known as Porotta (or Parotta) in South India, is one of the most difficult Indian flat breads to master, that is probably why the expert porotta chefs are known as “Porotta masters” in the country. By evening roadside eateries in rural and urban South India transforms into dimly lit stages for an amazing exhibition of craft and training, using which countless “masters” rhythmically beat, stretch and spin the dough followed by throwing and flattening of the dough in the air and finally winding everything down together as a fine multilayered parotta.. The street- food shops contributed so much to the evolution and popularization of Indo-Chinese fusion cuisine by creating signature dishes like chilly porotta and egg porotta, which eventually found their well deserved spots even in modish restaurant menus. Chopped parotta pieces are stir fried with plenty of onions, spring onions, ginger, garlic and a very limited amount of green chilies to create chilly porotta. Often made to order, preparation of this dish is a joy to watch. Chilly parotta is not too darned hot to carry a chilly in the name, but it looks like a red chilly explosion served on a plate, thanks to the dash of red food color added by most of the chefs.
In this deconstructed version of chilly parotta which we named as chilly crepes, I have used shredded pieces of crepe as the base instead of porotta , and followed the rest of the recipe for making the original, substituting food color with tomato puree. Crepes (or use thin Indian style pancakes) are shredded (just tear it off, if you please) and then baked or rather dehydrated for a while to resemble the texture of fine parotta shreds before stir frying with the rest of the ingredients. . It tastes so much like chilly parotta, and is way too easy to make. I have always been an ardent admirer of both the simple and the knotty techniques of the “dough” and would love to learn the art of making the dough fly someday, but for now I am off to try out Annita’s creative and relatively simple technique for making a restaurant like porotta in a home kitchen. That recipe is a true winner, hats off to you Annita.
This is my entry to Barbara of Tigers and Strawberrys’ Spice is right event, not hot enough for the occasion, but there is at least a chilly in the name.

1 cup flour
½ tsp oil
1 egg
Salt – to taste
Water – 1 cup

Mix everything together to make a thin batter ( add more water if needed) Keep for 10 minutes. Heat a small non-stick pan, wipe with oil. Pour a ladleful of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly ( or work with the botton of the ladle). Cook for one minute and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove from the fire.. Make crepes with the rest of the batter and cool it. Tear the crepes into bite size pieces, spread on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil and bake at 300 F for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

* You can make this without adding egg

Making of Chilly Porotta

Shredded crepes – 2 cups
Onions – 1 – cut into medium size squares
Green Onions – chopped ½ cup
Celery – Finely chopped – 1 tbsp
Or Celery seeds – ¼ tsp
Tomatoe sauce or puree – ½ cup
Green chilles cut into thin rounds – 1/2 tsp
Ginger finely chopped – 1 ½ tsp
Garlic finely chopped _ 11/2 tsp
Green bell pepper – cut into medium size squares 1 cup
Soy sauce – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tsp

Heat oil in a pan (preferably a wok) till very hot, add onions, celery and sauté for a minute. Add ginger, garlic, green chillies, bell peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomatoe sauce , soy sauce stir for 30 seconds. Add crepe pieces, spring onions and stir fry, till the pieces are all covered with the spice mixture and dry. Serve hot with raitha or any other yogurt based salad.
Homemade Cherry Liqueur

Making fruit liqueurs at home is unbelievably easy, yet the flavor, richness and aroma of the homemade versions are quite comparable to their store-bought equivalents. Occasionally I use these fruit liqueurs in baking as flavoring agents, in sugar syrups for moistening cakes, and rarely in frostings. I usually make cherry and berry liqueurs while the fruits are still in season, making enough liqueur to flavor my confections year around. The following recipe is for the homemade cherry liquor I used in the black forest cake recipe. This is a basic protocol for making fruit liqueurs in general, feel free to experiment with berries, orange peels, apricot and other fruits of your choice. Scale down the recipe according to your requirement, maintaining the same proportion between fruit, alcohol and sugar.


1 lb (450 g) cherries
3 cups vodka* (or 1 1/2 cup pure grain alcohol + 1 1/2 cup water).
1 1/2 cup sugar

Wash well and pit cherries, transfer to a wide- mouth bottle, pour alcohol over, close tightly and keep for 2 days. Open the jar, stir the contents, and repeat the process twice more within a week. Keep it undisturbed for 4 weeks. Open, stir again. Keep for 8 more weeks. Open the jar. Remove the cherries and strain the liqueur and transfer to a narrow- neck bottle. Add sugar, stir well and keep undisturbed for 1-2 months. Filter through fine cheese clothe and pour into fresh bottles. Store tightly closed. Liqueur keeps well for many months, and the flavors mellow over time.
Use clean and dry glass bottles for preparation and storage.
For imparting a nutty flavor to the liqueur crush some cherry seeds and add at the beginning step.
* I used vodka in this recipe
Black Forest Cake - The Oregon Twist

Cherry season in Oregon is very inspiring, generous bounties of the fertile soil, bring the price so down in summer, making it very affordable to buy bags and bags of plum ripe cherries for testing out all the cherry recipes you fancy. During my first cherry season here, we sequentially went through buying, picking, pitting and canning sprees, which were followed by equally memorable pie and tart making episodes. Nowadays, during the season I am more into exploring different preservation methods for good. After thinking through cherry pies and tarts I decided on making something less “cherry filled” to take for a graduation party we had last weekend and this Oregon twist of a Black forest cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) was made. Traditionally a black forest gateau ( torte/cake) has fine layers of chocolate cake/cake biscuit liberally drizzled with cherry brandy( Kirshwasser- made from finest Morello cherries from the Black forest region of Germany ) , filled with cherries, topped with whipped cream and decorated with fine shavings of chocolate. I love exploring what I call " the cakes of the world", regional gourmet specialty cakes, which reflect the culinary attitudes or traditions of a particular region or a period. Often moderately decorated, these cakes leave a signature taste to remember. My fellow gastronome, T, expresses his discontent every time we try out a piece of BFC from the restaurants here, declaring that there is nothing like the original Black forest cake. He lived in southern Germany for a while, and had many helpings of this fabulous torte while he was there, so I trust his judgment on this matter. In this version of BFC, I followed the original method of assembling the cake, used Oregon grown Bing cherries in homemade syrup, substituted cherry brandy with homemade cherry liquor (which is sweet, cherry brandy is not) made from last year’s harvest. There is perhaps no doubt that BFC tastes best when it is made with the original ingredients, but this version has a personality of its own, tastes much better than the ones made with cherry pie filling or canned cherries. . You could substitute rum for cherry liquor or completely avoid the alcohol and use cherry syrup instead. Assembling this cake is a breeze, if you have a flan ring handy (A Cake pan with out bottom is a humble flan ring- find it here) Check out the step by step photos of assembling this cake here
Prepare cake layers, cherries in syrup, whipped cream, grated chocolate and pitted cherries before assembling the cake.
This cake is my entry to fellow Portland blogger Je Mange la Ville's Celebratory Cake-athon 2006 event marking the first anniversary of her spectacular blog. Happy Birthday, may your blog live long and thrive!!!!
Tags Cake blackforest

1 ¾ cups flour

2 cups white sugar

¾ cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

½ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two nine inch round pans. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Stir in hot water. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven,until a tooth pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry. Cool in the pans for1 hour, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
This cake has a dry texture, but turns very moist when drizzled with syrup.
Stabilized Whipped cream filling

3 cups heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

¼ tsp rum/cherry liquor

1 tsp Unflavored Gelatin

3 tsp water

Soak gelatin in 2 tsp water for 5 minutes, add 1 tsp water and melt over a boiling water bath or in a microwave. Cool to room temperature. Beat cream till soft peaks form, sprinkle sugar, add rum and beat again. Pour in Gelatin and beat well till stiff peak consistency is achieved. Refrigerate till use.

Cherries in syrup

Pitted fresh cherries – 1 ½ cup
Sugar - 2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Cherry liquor / rum - 1 tbsp

Mix sugar and water, boil in a thick bottomed pan, with constant stirring, till the sugar dissolves and the syrup thickens. Add cherries, remove from fire, add liquor/rum, keep it covered for 10-12 hours. Drain cherries on a sieve; reserve the syrup for moistening the cake.
* Coming soon as a separarte post-- Homemade cherry liquor

For garnishing

Pitted fresh cherries

Tools for pitting - Invest on a cherry pitter or use simple dedicated slant tweezers

Grated chocolate – Using a vegetable peeler/ melon baller / cookie cutter, shave off fine flakes from a block of chocolate ( use a chocolate bar instead)

Assembling the cake

1) Slice the baked cakes horizontally using a serrated knife to make one 0.75 to 1 inch thick layer from each cake ( remove the top part of each of these cakes)

2) Place one layer of cake on a serving plate; position the flan ring to enclose the cake.

3) Sprinkle with 3 tbsp of cherry syrup

4) Spread whipped cream in 1 inch thickness ( more if you have a 4inch high flan ring)

5) Embed drained cherries in the whipped cream.

6) Keep the second cake layer on top

7) Sprinkle 3 tbsp cherry syrup

8) Top with more whipped cream, level the surface.

9) Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hrs.

10) Remove the flan ring, liberally spread chocolate shavings on the top

11) Pipe whipped cream in any desired shape and top with cherries.

12) Refrigerate till ready to serve.
Rasa Vada for JFI-Dal

Thank you Sailu for hosting this months event and selecting a most appropriate theme.

My entry for this month’s JFI-Dal, is Rasa Vada, crispy fried chana dal ( split chick peas) patties soaked in spicy hot rasam, a recipe from my mother. One Sunday evening many years ago, when she announced that we are going to have Rasa Vadas for tea, my heart sunk thinking about the proverbial mixing of fire and water. We know what prevails!!!!! I was not really appreciative of the process of making a crunchy vada soggy by dipping in a very watery rasam. . Much to my dismay, she made a big pot of rasam, fried some vadas, and threw everything into the rasam pot, and then served it piping hot with chopped cilantro on top. One bite into it, I realized that kids do lack the worldly wisdom coming from experience. Quite contrary to my perception of this idea, Rasa Vada turned out good, so good that I still remember the taste, and when I was tagged for the --10 things you miss of your mother’s cooking-meme, I never hesitated for a moment to include this one in the list.
Simple ( no dal) Rasam

Cumin 1 ½ tsp
Coriander seeds 3/4 tsp
Red chilli 1
Garlic 3 pods crushed
Black peppercorns 3/4 tsp
Tomatoes – 2 ( each cut into 8 pieces)
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Tamarind ( in the size of one small lime)
Curry leaves 5-10nos
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Jaggery – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 ½ tsp
Chopped cilantro 1 tsp
Dry grind Cumin, coriander seeds, black pepper, and chili. Soak tamarind in 1 ½ cups of water. Heat oil in a deep cooking vessel, splutter mustard seeds, add crushed garlic, curry leaves, ground spices, jaggery and Asafoetida. Sauté for a minute, add chopped tomato and stir well to mix. Stir in the tamarind water; add 2 more cups of water. Boil for 8-10 more minutes. Add chopped cilantro. Remove from fire. Keep it warm.
Parippu vada

2 cups chana dal (use toor dal if you prefer)

Finely Chopped ginger – 2 tbsp

Finely chopped Onions – 1 cup

Green chilly rounds - 1 tbsp

Curry leaves - 5-10 nos

Soak dal in water for 3-4 hrs, add salt and grind to a coarse paste. Add ginger, onions, chilies and curry leaves, keep for 10 minutes for the flavors to mix, form nice round patties using hand. Deep fry till golden brown, fry an extra minute taking care not to burn the vadas. Drain on paper towels.

Assembling rasa vadas

Arrange vadas on a baking dish and pour hot rasam on top. Let it soak for 10 minutes, serve garnished with chopped cilantro.


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