Scallion Zunka for JFI

Yes, the plan was to make a 'dum' dish with the casserole but I realized my pantry was missing a couple of ingredients. Onions on the other hand? Never run out of them.

Though authentic zunka is made with onions, I used scallions (spring onions, green onions... so many names for such a dainty looking thing!) in this recipe. The garlic/ curry leaves tadka is not common either but this is how a popular restaurant near my home makes it.


PATICHA ZUNKA (Scallion Zunka)
(serves 2-3)
1 cup chana dal (split bengal gram)*
2 bunches of scallions, finely chopped
a pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander-cumin powder
sugar and salt to taste
Seasoning -
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 garlic cloves, mashed
a sprig of curry leaves
1-2 green chillies, slit
Garnishing -
lemon juice
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

Wash then soak dal in 2 cups of water for about 2-3 hours. Grind into a coarse paste with salt and a few tablespoons of water. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add mustard seeds, garlic, curry leaves and chillies. Next add chopped scallions and saute for a minute.

Toss in the spices, a pinch of sugar and a little salt. Add dal paste. Turn heat to low, cover pan with a lid and let the dal cook (sprinkle a few drop of water if you find it's sticking to the pan). When it is dry and crumbly, squeeze a little lemon juice on top, garnish with cilantro and serve. (Zunka gets drier the longer it sits. So plan on serving immediately).


* Inspired by the 'parippu uslis' around blogosphere, I opted for chana dal instead of besan in this zunka. The resulting crumbly texture is quite delicious.
* For JFI - Onions hosted by Radhi



Peek into the Kitchen

The only coordinated 'set' in my kitchen are the dishes; almost everything else is an haphazard collection assembled over the years. And this casserole is undoubtedly one of my favorites. It is 32 years old, and has traveled across 8 cities and two countries.

It occupied the pride of place in my mother's kitchen and it does now in mine. Curries and biryanis, soups and gratins, noisy dinners, celebrations, formal meals, clumsy guests... this pot has seen everything and stood the test of time. Best of all, like women it only looks better with age.



The Nun's Revenge

No blasphemy here. That is honestly the name of the drink. This Italian hot chocolate is so delicious and indulgent, it is assumed it can't be chaste! In fact the author has compared drinking it to a religious experience :-)

I really didn't need further encouragement but as luck would have it, Padmaja's fabulous Fairtrade Goodie Bag arrived in the mail (thank you dear!). Nestled between the coffee and tea was a gorgeous bittersweet chocolate. Sign from above!


(adapted from 'Hot Chocolate: 50 heavenly Cups of Comfort')
(serves 2-3)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half*
1 tsp arrowroot
1 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
2 ounces fairtrade bittersweet chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao), chopped
2 to 4 strips orange zest for garnish

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the half-and-half with the arrowroot, whisking until smooth.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup of half-and-half in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. When the half-and-half begins to bubble around the edges, whisk in the sugar. Whisk in the arrowroot mixture until the half-and-half thickens slightly, usually less than a minute.

Remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the chocolate until smooth. Pour into cups, top each with a piece of orange zest, and serve immediately.


* Revenge is best served... cold with low fat substitutes. So feel free to use your choice of milk. The arrowroot makes the drink creamy anyway.
* Use orange flavored liqueur or orange extract if you prefer.
* Beer is usually the drink of choice on game nights but I am sending this over to Mansi anyway for her Game Night Party event.
* Don't forget to Click liquids for January.


So(y), so good - Scrambled Tofu

In one of the magazines I picked up on the flight back home there was a lovely sounding recipe for scrambled tofu. To be honest tofu and I aren't the best of friends. Considering the darn thing is nothing short of a superfood though, I grudgingly send out invitations for dinner now and then.

But first thing in the morning? Could my husband and I prove to be gracious hosts? A closer look and I saw tofu would be accompanied by pesto and mushrooms. Now those I could handle any time of the day. So we had our little brunch party and whaddaya know, a good time was had by all.

This is a great recipe for a vegetarian brunch menu. It tastes so good you won't know you are eating three vegetables (AND tofu)!


(adapted from Food & Wine, January'08)
(serves 2-3)
2-3 fingerling or small new potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
1 cup mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 1/2 cups firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, sliced*
shredded cheese (omit for a vegan version)
2 tsp prepared pesto
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and slice 3/4 inch thick. In a large non stick skillet heat oil until shimmering. Add potatoes and cook over medium heat until lightly browned.
Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook stirring occasionally until browned. Add roasted pepper and tofu. Season again lightly. Cook, stirring and lightly mashing tofu until all ingredients are well combined.

Top with pesto and cheese. Stir to melt cheese. Transfer to a plate and serve with crusty bread.

* If you don't have roasted red pepper omit or saute fresh bell pepper instead. But it is a handy thing to have - adds great flavor to sandwiches, pastas or salads.
* This goes to WBB - Soy hosted by Rajitha of Hunger Pangs

This month's Click focuses on the ever challenging theme of liquids and one of the judges is none other than yours truly. Which is ironical because I steer away from photographing them (it's capturing the right light but NOT getting the reflection that brings me to tears) So go on and click away. I'd love to get some pointers.


Happy New Year!

I am back from my trip; it was a much needed, completely relaxing vacation that I enjoyed so much I am finding it hard to get back to work! But it is the 2nd of January and I have no excuse left. So nose to the grindstone. Meanwhile here's wishing all of you a happy, healthy and peaceful 2008. I promise to get back to blogging soon.