Roasted Plum Gnocchi with Spicy Thin Plum Sauce


I did it. Yes, I did it. I am making my entry to the KitchenAid India contest. Generally, I do not participate in any contests / events owing to my hectic job schedule that never provides me the spare time needed to participate in such events. Luckily, this time I got some enthusiasm from fellow bloggers and friends who motivated me to try something new.


The moment I came to know the preparation of gnocchi, I was waiting for an apt time to try it.  Thought it is a bit time consuming process, its worth a try as at the end you would get the happiness of seeing a delicious, creamy, shiny gnocchi, made by you from the scratch.When IFBM announced their first contest and they said it is a "Plum Challenge", my mind was thinking about making desserts though my heart really didn't vouch for the idea. Making gnocchi using plums was a sparse thought and called up my husband last Monday while at work, asking him to buy some plums on his way back home. I got sweet and sour Indian plums yesterday. I picked one to see how it tastes and ended up eating few of it. It was sweet initially but started tasting sour towards the end(near seed). So I decided to prepare a spicy sauce for gnocchi to go with both sweet and sour taste.

At the end, I felt spicy and a bit of sourness in taste which was a great combination. I liked the inviting color of the dish which was very appetizing. I cooked gnocchi in three batches and again mixed the sauce in three batches. I tried plum gnocchi's with tomato based sauce, creamy buttery sauce and this thin plum sauce.

Basic Information:
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2


Ingredients:

For the Gnocchi:

Indian plums - 5 nos., sliced and pitted
Oil - 1 tablespoons
Potato - 1 large size, boiled
All purpose flour / Maida - 1 cup + as required to make gnocchi
Salt - a pinch

For the Spicy plum sauce:

Butter - 3 tablespoons
Red onion - 1 no, medium size, finely chopped
Garlic - 5 cloves
Plums puree - 2 tablespoons (see notes 1)
Red chilli flakes - 3 teaspoons
Salt - to taste
Grated cheese - for garnishing (optional)


Method:

For Making the Gnocchi:

1) Preheat the oven to 200C. Spread the plums over the baking tray and drizzle some oil over it. Roast it for 15 minutes or till it becomes soft.
2) Cool a bit and blend only the plums to a smooth paste. Don't add water.
3) Take a mixing bowl, mash potato. Don't over mash it but make sure there are no lumps.
4) Pour the pureed plums over it.
5) Add 1/2 cup of flour, start mixing it and make a dough. Keep adding flour in batches to get a nice, moist dough which doesn't stick to your hands.


6) Divide the dough into 3 logs. Again divide each log into 3 and roll it as pile or thinner log. Dust more flour to make the job easier. Cut the log into several pieces using knife. Repeat the steps for other logs. Use flour generously as it helps to get perfect shaped gnocchi.


7) Now using a fork, shape the gnocchi. Starting from the upper end of the fork, gently press towards down to get the ridges. It tends to roll as you move on. If it doesn't, gently make a roll of it. Arrange it in a flour coated plate. No worries, if you are not able to do this perfectly. Directly use the cut pieces of log. Repeat the steps for all the pieces individually.


8) If you've completed shaping the gnocchi's, boil water in a saucepan.
9) When the water from the sauce pan is boiling, add the gnocchi's one at a time and cook it. Cook it in batches if required. Do not add too many gnocchi's while cooking, as it may stick with each other.


10) In about 1-2 minutes, the gnocchi comes to the surface and floats on the top. Remove it immediately using a perforated ladle. Depends upon the size of gnocchi, the cooking time differs, but generally it comes to the surface of boiling water once it is cooked.


11) Cool down. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.

For Making the Plum Sauce:

1) Heat butter in a pan. When it starts melting, add finely chopped onion and garlic.
2) Saute till both become soft and translucent.
3) Add crushed red chilli flakes and salt.


4) Add pureed plum along with 1/3 cup of water.
5) Let it cook for few minutes or until you get the required consistency. I waited till it reaches semi gravy consistency.


6) Reduce the flame and add the cooked gnocchi. Gently mix well so that the sauce coats to the gnocchi well.
7) Garnish with some cheese and serve it hot.

Notes:

1) The plum juice/water which we get while roasting can be used in making the sauce instead of adding the puree and water as said above. But discard if you find the taste too tart.
2) The plums I used are ripe, sweet and little sour. If the plums you are using are sour, adjust the red chilli powder accordingly.
3) You can choose any kind of spicy sauce for the above described gnocchi.
4) Instead of baking the plum, you can also pan roast it till it becomes soft.
5) The sauce quantity is for the given gnocchi measurement. Feel free to increase / decrease it according to the taste of plums and personal preference.

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Lauki Paratha / Bottle gourd Stuffed Indian Flat Bread


My weekend started with a temple visit. We went for thiru neer malai temple and got good dharsan. The temple is situated at a small hill with narrow steps, surrounded by greenish view all over. The city view from the temple was awesome and gave relaxed feeling. We enjoyed the fresh, blowing air after the dharsan. We sat there for some time, had some snacks and returned, visiting my aunt's who stay nearby. Since the crowd is big, we all cooked together thought the menu sounded simple. Cooking together is always fun. Sometimes it also makes disaster in the scene of adding salt :-)

I remember cooking roties or parathas all together during any family functions for the big count. I like preparing roties / parathas when there is a crowd at home. So that one can make a dough, other can prepare the filling. The other two can work on rolling parathas and cooking part. It doesn't need any side dish, but very satisfying with plain yogurt and pickle.

I make good shaped stuffed parathas. But this time, I was not able to make good one. Also as an additional disappointing factor, It started raining after I made a setup for clicking and I was forced to click it with poor day light. As an impact of it, you see slight shaky picture everywhere here.


Basic Information:
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 6 parathas


Ingredients:

For the Dough:

Wheat flour / Atta - 2 cups
Milk - 1/4 cup
Water - as required
Red chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoons
Salt - to taste

For the Filling:

Bottle gourd - 1 no, medium size, yielded 2 heaped cups when grated
Salt - to taste (See notes 1)
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoons
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Red chilli powder - 2 teaspoons or as required

Method:

Initial Preparation:

1) Peel the skin of bottle gourd remove the inner parts. Grate it using the grater. Add salt to taste and mix it well. Keep aside for 5 minutes.


2) After 5 minutes, grated bottle gourd started leaving water from it. Squeeze out the water and leave bottle gourd alone. Try to squeeze out as much as water you can. Keep the water for making dough or you can even discard it.

For the Dough:

1) In a mixing bowl, take wheat flour. Add milk, red chilli powder and the Juice extracted from bottle gourd. Mix well. Add salt if you are not using the bottlegourd juice as we already added salt to it.


2) Start making a dough. Add water little by little if you require for making soft and smooth dough.
3) Knead for few minutes and keep it aside for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare filling for the paratha.

For the filling:

1) Heat oil in pan. Throw cumin seeds and let it crack.


2) Add grated bottle gourd. Mix well. Add red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Taste and add salt only if required. Remember we have added salt before cooking the bottle gourd in the initial preparation..


3) Cook till the bottle gourd becomes soft and no trace of water found.
4) Let it cool for sometime. Use it for the paratha.

For Making Paratha:

1) Divide the filling to equal parts. According to the filling, divide the dough into equal sized balls. I was able to make out 6 balls.


2) Roll a ball into 3-4 inch round size  and place a filling to the center of it.
3) Gather the corners and seal it properly.
4) With the help of flour, roll it into 7-8 inch circular paratha.
5) Repeat the steps for remaining dough.


6) Heat skillet and carefully place the rolled paratha to it when it is hot. Smear it with ghee or oil on the surface.
7) After few seconds, Turn to other side to cook other side.
8) repeat the steps for cooking remaining parathas.
9) Bottlegourd paratha are good to have with curd and pickle.


Notes:

1) Since we already added salt to the filling to squeeze out the juice from it, it might have limited quantity salt in it. So taste the filling first and adjust the salt accordingly.
2) Save the peeled bottle gourd skins. We can use this for making a condiment that I'll be sharing soon.
3) Make sure to squeeze out the water properly, otherwise, you may not roll the parathas properly. If you see some water quantity even after squeezing out the water and cooking, prepare parathas this way.
4) Finely chopped onion and garlic can be added to the filling.
5) Few bottle gourd taste bitter. Do not use if it is bitter and check it before buying it

Samai Idiyappam / Little Millet String Hoppers


Seems like every household is trying out different recipes using millets. My family is not an exception. But my family has been using these millets since a generation and I remember as a kid I had eaten kuthuraivali rice at my maternal grandma's house that had been harvested from her field. Since the drought of 1987, she stopped cultivating from millets in her field.

Over a period, we included only cholam (Sorghum), kambu (Pearl millet) and Ragi (finger millet). I am not able to figure out why we had chose to ignore the rest of the grains in this family. Thanks to the organic revolution which made its entry by showcasing the health benefits of various grains over the modern food ingredients.

I grew up eating these wonderful grains whereas my hubby has just got introduced to these grains through me. To familiarise my hubby with these grains and to develop a taste for it most of the times I cook millets for breakfast. Now, he is able to eat few of these dishes and I can proudly say my effort has paid rewards.

Today's recipe, Samai Arisi Idiyappam is also one such attempt to introduce millet in an indirect form. We can make idiyappam dough in two ways one by soaking and grinding, other by roasting and powdering it. Since I have explained how to prepare idiyappam dough using grinding method here, I wanted to show the later one now. Generally, Millets tend to dry quickly after it gets cooked, I suggest to consume any millet recipe, immediately after cooking it. Samai Idiyappam / Little millet idiyappam / little millet rice noodles preparation is as follows.


Basic Information:
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 3


Ingredients:

Samai arisi / Little millet - 1 cup
Salt - to taste
Gingelly oil - 1 tablespoon or as required
Water - 2 cups (see notes 1)

Method:

There are two methods of preparing the dough for making idiyappam. I have given both the methods below. For the pictures of the first method, please click here.

Method 1 for making Idiyappam dough:

1) Clean and remove stones from millet. Soak it in water for minimum of 2 hours. Grind it to a smooth paste by adding little water. Do not add too much of water.
2) In a wide pan, add a tablespoon of oil and batter. Stir it continuously, till it reaches thick consistency. You need some of your efforts in this if you are making it for a large family.
3) Add one or more teaspoons of oil at frequent intervals if required. At last, knead and coat the dough with oil using hand. Dough is ready to make idiyappam.

Method 2 for making Idiyappam dough:

1) Dry roast the samai rice well at the same time without browing it. Alternatively, you can soak it in water for few minutes and drain the water completely. The millet should be little wet but not watery.


2) Grind it to a smooth powder. Sieve it and grind the coarse part that remain after sieving it. Repeat the procedure till you do not get any grains.


3) Heat 1 and 1/2 cups to 2 cups of water. When it is roll boiling, add the samai rice powder slowly and carefully, without forming lumps. Stir well till it reaches thick consistency.


4) Apply gingelly oil in your hand and form a dough as shown in the picture.
5) Divide it to equal parts, keep inside the idiyappam maker and press it as idiyappam.
6) Steam it for 7-10 minutes or until the idiyappam cooks well. Generally, It won't take more than 10 minutes.


7) Transfer to a plate. Serve it with coconut milk and sugar. You can also prepare any of your favourite sevai out of it.


Notes:

1) Water level varies according to ground samai rice flour. Increase or decrease it accordingly.
2) Because of millet's natural characteristics, it tend to become dry. So consume the idiyappam immediately after preparing it. If you use it for making sevai, handle it carefully, since it tend to break very easily unlike rice idiyappam.

Sweet Appam / Arisi Appam


In my last post, When I talked about my aunt, I forgot to mention her signature recipe. She is very good at preparing sweet appam using wheat flour and banana. If I visit her house, It is a must recipe even now and she sends it with me without fail while I return to my home or either way. I usually enjoy it on the next day after preparing it.

Couple of weeks ago, I went to my native for a temple visit. I was telling my mom that my aunt prepares a wonderful sweet appam and I love to have it now. She instead prepared her version using raw rice and surprised me. It was very delicious for the obvious reason of the secret ingredient 'love'.;-) My mom also sent me one more traditional sweet with me on my way back to chennai. I will prepare and post that recipe too when time permits. Till that, enjoy these appams.

Appam is nothing a deep fried sweet that would be prepared using either by rice or wheat flour. Pureed banana or jack fruit can be added to the basic recipe for variation. Wheat flour is generally considered as a instant one whereas rice appam takes couple of hours to prepare it.


Basic Information:
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Idle Time: 1-2 hours
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 15-17 nos., approximately


Ingredients:

Raw rice - 1 cup
Idly rice - 1/2 cup (See notes 1)
Fenugreek - 1/2 teaspoon
Grated fresh coconut - 1 cup
Grated jaggery - 1 cup
Green cardamom - 2-4 nos.,
Salt - a pinch (optional)
Oil - for deep frying

Method:

1) Wash and soak raw rice, idly rice and fenu greek separately for 1-2 hours.
2) After 2 hours, drain the water completely and grind it using a mixie. Add little water if required.


3) Add grated coconut and green cardamom. Give a pulse just to mix it and then add grated jaggery.
4) Grind it to a smooth paste.Add salt if using and mix well. The consistency of batter should be like idly batter. So, you can add the water accordingly.


5) Heat oil in a deep, thick bottomed kadai/pan. When it is hot and not smoking, add 1/4 teaspoon of batter and it should come to the surface of oil slowly.
6) When the oil is ready, pour slightly less than 1/4 cup of batter using a ladle to the oil.
7) It puffs up slowly and come to the surface of oil. Turn it to other side and cook it till both the sides are golden brown.


8) Once done, transfer it to a plate covered with kitchen paper which absorbs the excess oil if any.
9) Serve when it is warm.


Notes:

1) Instead of Idly rice, you can also use IR20 rice. Do not over soak it. Maximum 2 hours is fine.
2) For best puffed appams, deep fry one appam at a time. At max, you can fry two appams and not more than that.
3) Adjust the Jaggery as per your personal preference. Use pure jaggery as we add it directly to the batter.
4) Make sure the batter is in right consistency. It tends to absorb more oil if the consistency is thin or otherwise it becomes too hard.
5) Appams tasted very good when consumed on next day after preparing it. It has 3 days of shelf life when stored properly.

Capsicum Rice / Kudai Milagai Sadam / Bell Pepper Rice


It is been more than 20 years since I moved to Chennai from my home town. I came here to pursue my higher studies, got a job and settled here. Initial few years, I stayed with my aunt and she took good care of me on everything, starting from educational guidance to food.

I remember trying new recipes along with her on weekends to prepare some foods that I read in magazines and cookbooks. Since she works in a leading firm, she always relies on quick fix or variety or one-pot meal on weekdays. She tries detailed, long listing menu only on weekends. She introduced me to many recipes. We occasionally used to dine-out for occasions and one such occasion was at "The Residency". That was my first buffet. It took some days to develop the taste of few recipes as my taste buds are quite familiar with only traditional recipes. I also felt very happy that day, I had few dishes that I read only on books.:-) My aunt occupies a special place in my heart and she is the sole reason for what I am now.

She prepares capsicum rice along with some dry gravy for my lunch quite often. I couldn't believe myself that I am the one who carefully weed out the capsicum and consume only rice. I wonder how it has become one of my favourite veggi dish now. I posted the recipe as same as my aunt used to prepare those days. You can choose colour capsicums instead of green and make your dish more colourful and make it more tastier by adding some idly podi or have it as such with some dry gravy.

Basic Information:
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2


Ingredients:

For Rice:

Cooked Rice - 3 cups
Bell Pepper / Capsicum / Kudai Milagai - 1 no., (see notes 1)
Onion - 2 nos., small size, finely sliced
Greenchilli - 2 nos.,
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 4 cloves
Salt - to taste
Water - 2 tablespoons

For Seasoning:

Oil - 3 tablespoons
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 1 spring
Asafoetida - a pinch
Peanuts - 2 tablespoons, roasted and skin peeled



Method:

1) Chop Onion and Green Capsicum. Grind greenchilli, ginger and garlic.
2) Heat oil in a pan and throw mustard seeds. Once it started spluttering, add curry leaves and asafoetida. Give a stir.


3) Add peanuts and roast it for few seconds. since we are using the roasted peanuts, it is enough to warm up slightly.
4) Add onion and sauté it till it becomes soft. Add the ground paste and cook for few minutes. The paste tend to stick to the pan. Add oil or sprinkle little water to avoid sticking to it.
5) Add capsicum and sauté again till it cooks well. Add 2 tablespoons of water and salt. Mix well for few minutes.


6) Reduce the flame to low and add cooked and cooled rice. Mix well and carefully without any trace of lumps.
7) Serve hot with any dry curry or gravy.


Notes:

1) I used green capsicum here. Instead of green capsicum, you can choose different coloured capsicums for colourful rice. You can also thinly slice or chop it depends on your preference.
2)  This rice tastes good with any dry gravy or you can have it as such by adding few tablespoons of idly powder.

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