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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Zucchini Quick Bread

I love incorporating vegetables and fruits into baked goods. Zucchini (yellow or green), a refrigerator staple, turns into zucchini bread among other yummy dishes and features among the "oft-baked" desserts. Possibilities are endless. so there is never a dull moment in the kitchen.

This time around, I baked a simple zucchini bread. Here is the recipe, a slice with evening tea goes a long way :)

All you need:
Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Zucchini (grated) - 1 cup
Apple (grated) - 1 cup
Oil - 1/2 cup or lesser 
Sugar (I used light brown)- 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking soda- 1 tsp
Garam masala powder (Indian all spice powder ) - 1/2  tsp
Elaichi powder (cardamom powder) - 1 tsp
Milk/water - 1 1/2 cups or lesser
apple cider vinegar or Lemon juice- 1 tbsp

  • Mix grated Zucchini, grated apple, sugar, oil, spice powder, elaichi powder, and lemon juice - mix well
  • Add the baking powder and baking soda to your whole wheat flour and mix well
  • Fold the mixed flour into the zucchini mix with milk or water
  • Grease a bread pan or a baking pan of your choice and pour in the mixture 
  • Bake the mixture at 350 F for 45 -50 minutes  (or until done - smaller ovens may require lesser baking time)Do the toothpick/fork test to check if the loaf is done
  • Take it out of the oven and let it cool 
  • Ease out the loaf from the sides of the pan and slide it out. 
  • Slice and serve with sugar dust (Optional)
There are a few other variation to baking a zucchini bread. I plan to do a post on every variety. In the meanwhile, do try this simple bread and let me know....

  • Different versions and types of breads have been baked since the neolithic age and the preparations have evolved over the years.  
  • Quick breads are loaves baked with chemical leavening agents(baking powder / baking soda) unlike traditional breads which require yeast and a sufficient amount of time to rise.
  • Did you know that cakes, muffins, scones etc are all considered to be different varieties of quick bread.
  • An interesting fact about Zucchini bread is that it is called a bread because the Early American cuisine (18th century) had a quick bread recipe which was not leavened using yeast but with a chemical called "pearlash" - a refined compound of potash.
  • This simple bread is a vegetarian version which could go vegan by replacing brown sugar wiht raw sugar or jaggery and the milk with water.
  • Grated apple helps in keeping the cake moist and allows for reducing oil or butter in the dish
  • you could use lauki/ bottle gourd instead of zucchini. Make sure you adjust the water or milk quantity as zucchini and bottle gourd ooze a lot of water when grated.
  • As always, I would like to mention that each oven settings and timing requirements are different. It is better to try out temp settings and timing before you go full fledged with your baking
  • The brand of baking powder or soda matters and makes a difference in your quantity used to should be suit your requirement

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spicy Vegetable Cake

I have been requesting family and friends to send in their favourite recipes, kitchen experiences and anything to do with their idea about food to be featured on the Guest Post segment of Avial N Rasam.

My first two posts under the guest segment happened by chance and I loved the idea of contributions to the blog from people in my life. The first to respond to my request is my cousin Pallavi. She is a busy working mother of a cute two year old, and finds ways and means to incorporate vegetables into her little one's diet - (my 2 year old niece.) Here is the recipe she sent in...The recipe turned out so well and was over in no time...Picture credits : Pallavi

Spicy Vegetable cake

You need
1 packet of Gits Dhokla mix
1/2 cup of Sooji(Rava)
1 1/2 Cups of Curd
3 to 4 greenchillies
2 Garlic Cloves
3 inch Ginger
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
Salt to taste
Sesame seeds
Mustard seeds
Curry leaves
Kasoori methi
1/4 cup grated Carrot
1/4 cup grated zucchini/Bottle gourd/Cucumber
1 small grated potato
1/4 cup grated cabbage
  • Procedure
  • Empty a packet of Gits Dhokla Mix in a bowl and add 1/2 cup sooji and
    curd to it and mix well. 
  • Allow it to sit for 1 hour.
  • In the meantime, grate the vegetables.
  • Boil the grated potato along with peas and corn for a minute in the microwave. 
  • Squeeze out the water from all the vegetables and add it to the dhokla mix. 
  • Crush Gralic &  ginger and add it to the mix. 
  • Add Coriander and Cumin Powder. Now add Kasuri Methi. Mix everything well. 
  • Take a baking sheet and pour the above mix into the baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle Sesame seeds on top of the mix poured in the baking sheet.
  • Heat Oil in a pan and add some mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves.
  • When mustard seeds starts spluttering add it on top of sesame seeds.
    Preheat the oven at 380 F.
  • Place the baking sheets in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. 
  • Enjoy with Coconut chutney or tomato sauce 
    It surely seems to be a yummy savory cake, and promises to be a wholesome veggie delight....I am going it try it this weekend....Do try it out in your kitchen and Let me know how it turned out....

    Before you go...Here is a sumptuous slice

    PS: I would love to have a picture of your trial ...I plan to start a segment with reader's pictures and responses

    Penne and Veggie Casserole

    This recipe serves 4 and makes a yummy leftover food too.. :) .. I learnt this from a Greek TV show while in Cyrpus...I knew very little Greek so had missed out on a few details while watching the show...I could make it a yummier version with special inputs from a very dear friend Padmaja....You could refer to my earlier post on types of pasta to understand this recipe better.

    All you need: For 4 
    1 Cup uncooked Penne
     1 Cup Fusilli
    Water to cook the pasta
    Salt (for the pasta and the vegetables)
    Extra Virgin Olive oil - 2 tsps

    Capsicum /bell peppers (red, yellow and green) - 1 cup
    French beans - chopped - 1 cup
    zucchini - chopped - 1 cup
    Onion - 1 (chopped)
    Garlic 3-4 cloves

    Herbs and spices:  (Fresh or dry)
    Oregeno, Rosemary, Basil - 1/2 tsp each
    Red chillies - flakes (dry roast and crush the red chillies) - 2
    Coriander leaves / Cilantro - for garnish
    Black Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp

      • Boil water in a vessel, add salt and few drops of oil and add in your pasta (I used penne and fusilli)
      • Once the pasta is a little less than al-dante (say, half done :-) )... use a sieve and drain out the water and keep it aside. (so that the pasta does not become mushy when baked)
      • It is better not to run cold water on the cooked pasta as the starch helps in soaking up the sauce or any other flavour better
      • In the meanwhile, prepare your vegetables for the casserole
      • Microwave or blanch your vegetables for 4-5 minutes and keep it aside
      • Pour a tsp of oil into a wok/kadai/pan and put in the garlic and onions
      • Add salt, pepper powder, chilli flakes and the herbs and saute well
      • Add all the vegetables and saute for a minute or so
      • Grease a baking dish (preferably 8 x 8)
      • Spread the vegetables and the cooked pasta in alternate layers
      • Sprinkle shredded mozarella cheese and grate a little nutmeg over the dish
      • You could also add a layer of cheese between the vegetables and pasta (optional)
      • Cook in the oven at 300 F for 20 minutes
      • Take it out of the oven and garnish with the remaining cilantro/corainder leaves 

      Serve with a bowl of tomato soup...YUM!!


      • You could use any short pasta of your choice for this dish. Please refer to my earlier post on>>check this link - Knowing your Pastas
      • I also make another version of this casserole with a hint of tomato sauce...more about it in my next post...
      • It would be good to add fresh herbs....but dried versions are equally good
      • Another way to work the the veggies is to oven roast them for 12-15 minutes on the top rack at 450F. 

      Tuesday, February 2, 2010

      Gongura Gobi - Cauliflower Stir fried with Gongura leaves

      I can never cook using measures and proportions, that is one of the main reasons why I hesitate to post recipes on my blog. My amma had sent me some sun dried gongura leaves for me to make the traditional Andhra Gingura Pachchadi (pickle). But I dint want to risk making a pickle in winter {Summers are the best for making pickles - lower humidity works well for the pickling process. :-) }.

      Fresh Gongura bunch

      Mix and match happens to be the in thing in my kitchen.I decided to use these yummy gongura leaves in a stir fry. Cauliflower and broccoli were the first choice because I remember my amma makes really yummy cauliflower and methi(fenugreek) leaves fry.

      Cauliflower is a rather bland vegetable with a distinct smell associated with it. We use it in gravy curries, stir fry it, add it to pulav, or stuff in a parata. It works wonderfully in any dish. I have seen people either love or just hate this vegetable. Coming to the dish this post is all about- Gongura being a naturally tangy leafy vegetable, works well with the versatile cauliflower. A few minutes in the kitchen and you will have a yummy, tangy spicy Cauliflower stir fried with gongura leaves. I mixed in a few florets of broccoli for that extra hint of nutrition.

      You need. (Serves 2)

      Cauliflower florets - 1 cup
      Broccoli florets- 1 cup
      Gongura leaves - 1 cup
      salt (to suit your taste)
      turmeric powder - a pinch
      coriander powder - 1tsp
      cumin powder - 1tsp
      curry leaves - 5/6
      Cilantro/coriander leaves - for garnish
      oil - tsp
      Cumin seeds - 1/2tsp
      (Methi seeds) Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
      Red chillies -2
      Ginger - grated - 2tsps
      garlic- grated - 1tsp
      • Separate broccoli and cauliflower florets (use your hands) and soak them in a bowl of salt and water- for about 5 minutes
      • wash the gongura leaves and lay them on a towel to dry (excess water on the leaves can make your gongura leaves mushy and soggy) - this takes about 5 minutes
      • Pat dry your leaves and chop them to suit your requirement
      • Pour oil in a kadai and saute the red chillies for a few seconds - take it out of the oil and keep it aside
      • Start your tempering in the same oil - Add Cumin seeds(jeera), curry leaves and ginger, garlic and fenugreek seeds (Methi seeds)
      • Add gongura leaves and saute for a minute
      • In the mean while, drain cauliflower and broccoi florets off the salt water they were soaking in and wash them with some fresh water.
      • Add them to the kadaai and gently fold in the leaves and florets together. 
      • Add salt, turmeric powder, coriander and cumin powder 
      • Sprinkle some water to the vegetables and cover the pan/kadaai 
      • Once the vegetables are done, cook it for a minute or so with out the lid
      • Crush the roasted red chillies and sprinkle over the vegetables and take it off the stove
      • Garnish it with curry leaves and serve with rice or roti 
      • Gongura is a very rich source of Iron, vitamins, folic acid and anti-oxidants
      • Adding methi seeds to this dish helps in balancing the heat which gongura is said to generate once eaten. 
      • gongura is leaves turn mushy when washed because of its association with the hibiscus family.
      • Gongura comes in two varieties - Green stem and red stem. the red stem variety is tangier
      • Not only the telugu cuisine, but even tamil kitchens boast of a number of recipes which includes this leafy vegetable (Gongura is called pulichakeerai in tamil- which leiterally means (puliccha)- tangy (keerai) - leafy veggie)


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