Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fenugreek Leaves Saar (Methi Palle Saaru)

Ma makes a soupy broth (Saaru) out of almost any leafy green vegetable available in the season and it tastes sublime yet delicious. On a whim of being experimental, I tried this recipe inspired by that idea and it turned out great. I enjoy bitter flavor, found prominently in Fenugreek leaves and Bittergourds, so did not find it overwhelming. If you are not used to bitter flavor, then you could pass off this recipe. 

Fenugreek leaves are found in abundance and the best lot arrives during cold and crispy winters. From a culinary standpoint, the leaves get along fabulously with garlic. Use Ghee for seasoning, it adds a good, soothing and subtle flavor. The tangy tamarind extract camouflages the bitter flavor of the leaves and once cooked, the tangy and bitter flavors balance each other out. Add a little more extract than you would normally add for this broth.

~ Fenugreek Leaves Saar ~
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Fenugreek Leaves (tightly packed) - 5 cups
Green Chillies (slit inserted) - 2
Turmeric powder - just a pinch

Coconut (fresh or frozen) - 2 tbsp
Tamarind pulp extract - 1/2 cup
Jaggery - 1/2 tsp

For Seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Garlic (crushed) - 4 flakes
Red Chillies (split into two) - 2

Wash and rinse the leafy greens. Clean and pick only the fresh and tender leaves and leave out the stem. Chop the leafy greens in large shreds and keep aside. In a skillet, heat a tsp of ghee and lightly sear the green chillies. Add a small slit to allow the pressure to escape. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate. Add the leaves now, add a pinch of turmeric powder and allow them to sweat. The leaves will wilt in size leaving a bitter aroma. Turn off the flame and transfer to a plate, allow to cool. Once cooled partially, grind to a smooth paste with seared green chillies and coconut. Add little water to bring about a good consistency. Bring this paste to boil in an iron kadhai. Add the jaggery, once it melts and mellows, add the tamarind extract and add water if required. Adjust salt as per taste. Cover with lid on and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Once done, in a small frying pan, heat tad bit ghee and once hot enough, season with mustard seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add curry leaves, red chillies followed by garlic. Pour this seasoning on the cooked broth and cover with a tight lid. Serve warm with rice.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Baked Frittata - An Italian Omelette

In my home, breakfast dishes are often enjoyed as part of quiet, sombre twilight meals instead of rushed and busy mornings. Over the weekend, we stocked up lot of fresh produce, milk and eggs as a precautionary measure to tackle any  unforseen situation of food shortage. The panic caused by the travel advisory issued to public, resulted in my local grocery running out of bread, 2% milk and white meats of all kinds. Last time I witnessed this scene of panic induced shopping during Hurricane Irene in 2011. Both of us were excited about Nemo (in a fun and anticipatory way) because it had been a while since we had witnessed a humongous pile of fresh powder. While I prepped the grocery, lugged home extra supplies of emergency items, the husband took charge of the dinner and the eggy aroma of warm and spicy, oven cooked Frittata welcomed me home. When it comes to our cooking style, I prefer to go with measurements for any recipe; his interpretation of a recipe is oh-its-easy-put-this-and-that-together-and-bake kind of a thing. Either ways, I was glad to be entertained (than to be entertaining) and was very happy with the way the Frittata turned out. The husband finds its easier to use the oven and prefers baking his lunch or dinner with quick roasted and seasoned meats and vegetables while I reach out to the warm stove for my long-winding traditional Konkani and Indian recipes.

Frittata is an Italian Omelette cooked with eggs, vegetables, meat and cheese. The ingredients are bunged in a cast iron pan and slow cooked on gas stove if one follows the traditional route. For this Frittata, we used spicy Chicken sausages which packs a punch and satisfies the need for spicy and hot flavor in our food without strong, overpowering heat. We used Habanero and Green Chilli flavored sausage, which is the spiciest among all available at our local store. This is the kind of dish where you can put everything together and continue with rest of your chores and then come back to say "hello" to your dinner all done and ready for a chow. How easy can it get? The dish used to cook the Frittata was my non-stick round 8" cake pan. Once cooked, make wedges and serve with buttered and toasted bread.

~ Baked Frittata ~
An Italian Omelette
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Eggs - 4
Spicy Chicken Sausage - Habanero and Green Chilli (sliced into roundels) - 2
Onions (finely chopped) - 3/4 cup
Mushrooms (sliced into thick chunks) - 3/4 cup
Green Chillies (seeds removed, finely chopped) - 1
Coarse Black Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Cheese (grated) [optional] - 4 tbsp
Paprika - 1/2 tsp
Olive Oil

For Garnish -
Cilantro or Flat leaf Parsley - 1 tbsp

Preheat Oven at 385 F for 10 minutes. In a skillet, saute finely chopped onions in olive oil till they are soft and translucent. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Increase the flame and saute the thick chunks of mushrooms in the same skillet. Season with salt and pepper and once the mushrooms change color and become firmer in texture, transfer to a plate. Add oil if required. Sear the sausage pieces till they have light brown spots on them. No need to season the sausage as its pre-seasoned. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat 4 eggs and season with salt, pepper powder and paprika. Add the sauted onions, mushroom chunks and seared sausage roundels. Give a good gentle stir.  Spray cooking spray on the baking dish. Transfer to the 8" round cake tin or an equivalent baking dish or casserole. 
The oven will be ready to bake now.
Bake uncovered at 385 F for 15-20 minutes. Once done, let cool for couple of minutes. Turn off the oven. Garnish with flat leaf Parsley or Cilantro. Slice into wedges and serve with toasted bread and hot sauce or ketchup.