Archive for July, 2010

Interesting Number – “108”

Whether religion, or mathematical quiz – science of space or discipline of a dance form, 108 number is magical or has a hidden secret – interesting number overall!!! Below is what I have compiled so far from various facts and my exposure to the Indian culture and training in Indian classical dance.

1. Hindu Religion 

108 – beads in the “Japa Mala” – Hindu meditation while repeating mantras equivalent to European rosary – brief history of rosary here “when the medieval crusaders travelled Eastward for the Holy wars, they had a chance to observe the worshippers in India praying with the bead necklaces (“japa malas”), they brought the idea to Europe as ’rosary’ “

108 names of several Hindu Gods – such as Shiva, Ganesha, Lakshmi, Vishnu

108 Upanishads – Ancient Hindu religion guides

108 Holy places of Lord Vishnu

2. Astronomy

The distance of Moon and Earth is 108 times of the Earth’s diameter during Solar eclipse

The distance of Sun and Earth is 108 times of the Sun’s diameter during Solar eclipse – If the distance is altered than the Earth will either be very cool (away from the sun) or very hot (near the sun) during Solar eclipse

The distance of Moon and Sun is 108 times of the Sun’s diameter during Lunar eclipse

The distance of Moon and Earth is 108 times of the Moon’s diameter during Lunar eclipse

3. Hindu Astrology

There are 12 Rashis (Signs) and 9 Grahas (Planets) which when multiplied give a number of 108 which are the total types of radiations affecting a human body at birth-time – And is used to base the Hindu horoscope – Kundali of the person born.

Also per the effect of these 108 combinations, there can be 108 possible types of human nature at a time.

4.  Indian Culture – Performing Arts

Bharatnatyam – Indian classical dance form – constitutes of 108 mudras – expressions.

5. Mathematical fun

 108 = 1 + 0 + 8 = 9. Adding 9 to any number will return the same number by adding its digits again. Example: 10 = 1+0 = 1. Now add 9 so 1+9=10=1+0=1.

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Schezuan Sauce

SCHEZUAN SAUCE – Makes 3-4 cups

Preparation Time : 5 mins

Cooking Time : 5-7 mins

Ingredients:

15-20 whole dry red chillies (OR ¼ cup Deigi mirch powder)

1 1/2 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 star anise crushed to powder-like

Pinch of ajinomoto

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon sugar

4 teaspoon soy sauce

6 tablespoon white vinegar

2 tablespoon oil (preferably sesame oil)

Method:

1. If using whole red chillies, then soak them in enough water to cover upto ½ inch above the chillies in a bowl. Drain.

2. Grind all the ingredients with the whole red chillies except the oil to a fine paste and keep aside

3. Heat oil on medium heat in a frying pan. Once it reaches smoking point add the spice paste to it.

4. Cook on low heat stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes.

5. Mix well and use as a schezuan gravy base with sauted chopped spring onions and green chillies.

TIP: Cool down to room temperature and store in a refrigerator. It will last for about a month.

Variations:

1. Instead add the entire 6 tbsp vinegar to the spice paste and for a dipping sauce for any fritters/dumplings.

2. For a thicker gravy, add 3 teaspoon corn flour to 2 tablespoon vinegar and add to the prepared sauce when cooking with vegetables.

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Easy Dal – lentil soup

Easy Dal – lentil soup – Serves 3-4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup toor dal (can be replaced with yellow split moong dal)
  2. ½ tablespoon oil
  3. ¼ teaspoon black mustard seeds (replace with ½ teaspoon cumin seeds if using moong dal)
  4. Pinch of asaefotida
  5. 1 teaspoon Ginger paste
  6. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. 2 ½ teaspoon red chilli powder (or adjust per hot taste)
  8. ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  9. ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  10. ¼ cup finely chopped tomatoes
  11. 6-7 fresh curry leaves
  12. 4-5 kokum pieces
  13. ½ tablespoon jaggery (optional)
  14. 1 ½ teaspoon salt (or adjust to taste)
  15. 1 teaspoon mango powder or 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  16. 1 tablespoon chopped coriander

 Method:

  1. Wash and soak the toor dal in 3 ½ cups of water.
  2. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil on medium heat. Add black mustard seeds and let splutter. Add the asaefotida.
  3. Mix ginger paste, turmeric, red chilli, cumin and coriander powder with 1 teaspoon water and add to the oil with the curry leaves. Cook for little less than a minute.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir well. Add kokum and jaggery with ½ cup of water and cook on high for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the toor dal with the water it was soaked in, stir well, add salt and pressure cook for 3 whistles or 15 minutes on medium-high.
  6. Run cold tap water over the hot cooker to cool down faster. Open the lid cautiously.
  7. Place the cooker back on medium heat for 2-3 minutes – adjust spices if required.
  8. Garnish with the chopped coriander.
  9. Serve hot with plain rice and ½ teaspoon of ghee.

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Quick spicy-fried bhindi

Quick spicy-fried bhindi – Serves 3-4

Preparation time: 12-15 minutes

Cooking time:  10 minutes

 Ingredients:

  1. 2 ½ lb bhindi – lady fingers
  2. 6 tablespoon oil
  3. ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
  4. ½ teaspoon ginger paste
  5. ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  6. ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  7. 2 ½ teaspoon red chilli powder (or adjust per hot taste)
  8. Pinch of asaefotida
  9. 1 tablespoon coarsely ground peanuts
  10. 1 ½ teaspoon salt or adjust to taste

 Method:

  1. Wash and wipe dry the lady fingers. Make sure to dry them well to avoid stickiness while cooking.
  2. Slit the lady fingers lengthwise from one side making sure you do not tear it into two pieces.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a frying pan on medium heat
  4. Mix cumin, coriander and chili powder to the ginger paste with just a few drops of water
  5. Add black mustard seeds to the hot oil and let them splutter. Add asaefotida and ginger paste. Stir well and cook for less than a minute. Add ground peanuts and cook for a minute. Remove the spice mixture in the large serving bowl , add salt and keep aside.
  6. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and heat on high flame. Once hot enough lower the heat to medium and add the cut lady fingers in the pan few at a time. Deep fry each batch for 2-3 minutes stirring once in between to turn-over the vegetable pieces and cook on the other side.
  7. Remove on paper towel to soak excess oil and then add to the spice mixture. Stir well to coat the spice over the lady fingers.
  8. Serve hot with Rice and Raita or Roti/Parathas

Variations:

  1. Cut the lady fingers into half breadthwise after removing the top portion and deep-fry
  2. Add chopped onions before adding the ginger-spice mix in Step #5 with some more oil and cook until golden brown.

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Quick Bread Pizza – under 10 minute recipe

Quick Bread Pizza – Serves 3-4

Preparation time – 5 minutes

Cooking time – 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. 6 to 8 whole wheat breads
  2. 5 teaspoon melted Butter
  3. ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  4.  1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  5.  ¾ cup finely chopped onions
  6.  ¼ teaspoon salt or adjust to taste
  7.  tomato sauce (if Pizza sauce is available then too good)
  8. 1 cup grated cheese
  9.  Red chilli flakes (optional)

Method:

  1. Add the chopped garlic to 1 teaspoon butter in a microwavable bowl and cook in the microwave for a minute.
  2. Meanwhile mix the chopped tomatoes, onions and little salt and red chilli. Keep aside.
  3. Heat a skillet/griddle on medium heat on stove or if using a microwave oven for toasting the bread pizza then the skillet is not required.
  4. Mix the Garlic butter with the chopped vegetables mixture.
  5. Butter the bread pieces evenly, top with the sauce, then vegetables. Add cheese on top as much required and toast it on the griddle until the bread is crispy brown or bake in microwave-oven for 5-6 minutes until the cheese melts.
  6. Serve Hot.

Variations:

  1. Toast the bread before adding the toppings. Now add the toppings and wrap in foil for a to-go snack or office lunch!!
  2. If readily available, chop canned-drained-chopped pineapple/mango/paneer stirred in tandoori or chat masala as an additional step in #2 of the above Method.

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Spicy Paneer Gravy Subji – under 10 Minute recipe

Spicy Paneer gravy subji – Serves 3-4

Preparation Time : less than a minute!!

Cooking Time : 3-5 minutes

Ingredients:

1. 15-20 pieces of 1 inch cube paneer

2. 2 teaspoon oil/melted butter

3. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

4. ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds

5. Pinch of asaefotida

6. 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste

7. 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust per required hot taste)

8. 1/2 teaspoon garlic paste

9. 1 teaspoon tomato ketchup

10. 1/2 tablepoon soy sauce

11. ½ teaspoon chilli sauce

12. 3 teaspoon cornflour

13. 3/4 cup water

14. ½ teaspoon salt or adjust to taste

 15. ½ cup chopped coriander/spring onions (optional)

 Method:

  1. Soak paneer cubes in warm water, drain well.
  2. Add the tomato ketchup, soya sauce, chilli sauce to the paneer cubes and coat well with the sauce mixture. Keep aside
  3. Heat oil/butter on medium heat in a pan
  4. Add cumin seeds when hot enough and let it splutter. Then add the fennel seeds and stir to roast for half a minute. Do not let it burn. Then add asaefotida
  5. Mix red chilli powder with ginger paste with a few drops of water and then add the mixed paste to the oil.
  6. Add corn flour to ½ cup of water and stir well to avoid any lumps. Add to the oil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add paneer-sauce mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
  8. Add salt per taste and mix well.
  9. Garnish with coriander/spring onions and serve hot with Jeera Rice or Roti/Parathas

Variations:

1. Add other boiled vegetables like potatoes, peas, eggplant, cauliflower etc. and increase cooking time by 2 minutes.

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Kheer – using Half & Half and Heavy Cream

Ingredients:

¼ cup rice (preferably Basmati rice – don’t use the sticky rice)

2 teaspoon clarified butter – ghee (get in Indian grocery isle)

4 ½ cup half & half milk

1 cup heavy cream

5 tablespoon Sugar – to adjust taste

½ teaspoon of elaichi powder (cardamom powder) – Optional

2 tablespoon mix of sliced almond (or other dried fruits such as sliced walnuts, sliced cashewnuts, pistachios etc. of your choice) – Optional

Method:

 

  1. Wash and soak rice in water – about ½ inch above rice- for 20 minutes. Drain the rice.
  2. Heat clarified butter in a non-stick sauce pan, once it melts add the rice and stir well to coat and cook for 2 minutes stirring continously.

TIP: Many recipes skip this step but it is very important as it gives the aroma to the rice and ultimately adds to the richness of the recipe

3.  Add 4 1/2 cups of half & half milk to the rice and bring the milk to a boil on medium heat. Turn to medium-low heat- cover and cook, stirring very frequently to avoid sticking to the bottom and over-cooking. Cook until about 3/4 to 1 cup of milk is reduced. This should take about 15-20 minutes.

TIP: Depending on the actual heat supplied to the milk mixture and the type of grains the cooking time for rice may vary – anywhere between 17 to 40 minutes!

 Do not let the milk burn or stick to the bottom of the pan otherwise the burnt smell of milk will spoil the entire batch.

4.  Turn off the heat and let the milk cool down to room temperature

5.  Then add heavy cream and stir well.

6.  Add Sugar – start with 4 tablespoons and stir well. Check the sweetness – if more sugar is required then add 1/2 tablespoon at a time.

7.  Add the cardamom powder and stir well.

8.  Garnish with the sliced almond.

9.  Serve Chilled in Summer!!!!!

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