Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beetroot Thoran/Beetroot Stir Fry ...step by step.




Beetroot stir-fry with fresh coconut a.k.a Beetroot Thoran.

Red beet or garden beet is cooked with coconut and green chilly....perfect combination with hot steaming rice.

A vegan side dish with rice.....a healthy vegetarian dish.

I make this thoran with the help of my food processor to mince the beets; you can also grate the beets or chop them with a knife....

Do try beans and carrot thoran, which is perfect with rice and a popular Kerala side dish for lunch.

Ingredients:
Beetroot: 1/2 kg or 2 medium size
Green chilly: 2 or 3.
Onion: 1/2 (or if using shallots 3 or 4).
Freshly grated coconut: About 3/4 cup.
Garlic: 2 cloves.
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp.
Coconut oil:1 tbsp.
Whole red chilly: 2, broken
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp.
Curry leaves.

Salt to taste.
Little water.


Method:

Cut the beets.

Then chop the coarsely.


Put into the food processor.


And give it a blitz.


Now add the coconut, green chilly, turmeric powder, salt, and onion...again blitz for a minute.

Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a pan, add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, curry leaves, and 2 whole red chillies..

Add the minced beets....add little water and scrape all into the pan. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until done.

Healthy Beetroot Thoran is Ready......Serve With Rice.


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Sunday, September 23, 2012

How To Increase Traffic To Your Food Blog.


Hi all, again a small diversion from recipes.

 This post is especially for bloggers who use point and shoot camera.

Few tips I learned to improve my traffic.

I had posted some of my experiences as a food blogger and today, I thought why not write about how I increase my traffic to this blog.

As you all know I take pictures with Nikon Point and Shoot Cam, and that I love to take step by step pictures; just to guide you, show you the whole process of my cooking.... the final outcome should be satisfying as it was for me, and to let you all know that cooking is easy. Taking step by step pictures can be tedious at times, sometimes my cam will be stained with that chocolate cake batter or the pizza dough     flour......I cook and take pictures myself except sometimes my kids lend a helping hand.

I take pictures using macro settings and during day time, mostly in the balcony or in the kitchen on top of my  washing machine....there is plenty of light on these two places....except on a cloudy day. I usually do not plan a photo shoot, it just happens.

Okay coming back to my traffic, I know foodgawker is a major traffic boost "IF" the picture gets accepted; sadly my pictures does not get throu, I have a whooping 83 rejections with just 9 approved, the same with tastespotting. I still submit pictures and get rejected....no issues...the option available is to change my P&S cam, but I still prefer P&S, ....so then I started looking for otherways to improve my traffic.

Once Dassana, mentioned about FB page; and I wondered why I did not utilize the existing page that I had created, so I started working on that page during mid August and the result was encouraging. Thank you dassana again and my FB followers...you guys inspired me.

Then I had a fair amount of twitter followers and get good traffic from there too.

During August my daily stats was somewhere around 1250 and this past week it increased to 2500 to 3000 that made me say WOW!. So I thought I would let you know how my traffic improved, this is basically for bloggers who use P&S camera.

I came to know about tumbler.com and www.findingvegan.com and submitted my pictures and link and traffic just flew in. Finding vegan is only for vegan recipes, the whole wheat coconut pancakes picture I submitted is bringing about 200 visitors per day...wow! Imagine that picture which was taken on the spur of the moment while I was making breakfast (without any preplanning) and does not have any chance of getting accepted in foodgawker or tastespotting or tastelogie or any of the big food pron sites....brought me a good amount of traffic from tumbler, facebook, twitter, and finding vegan.

If you are already using tumbler do add me also and lets connect on facebook and twitter too..

Other food pron sites where you might have a chance to get accepted are:

Dishfolio.
Dessert Stalking.
Savory Sights.
Kitchen Artistry.
FoodEpix.
Knapkins.


An Update: 26/09/12.
A visitor had commented about this site, foodpron.net. Just upload my pictures...do try that too.


Still if there are some more ways you know please leave a comment, I just shared what I have learned through this blog.

You might also like to read the Journey of a food blogger.

Have a great day..

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Baked Vegetable Samosa (whole wheat).....Step by Step.




Baked samosa, yeah you heard me right BAKED SAMOSA!!

Baked samosa filled with vegetable goodness...its vegan...its healthy.

I have been trying to make healthy after-school-snacks for my kids....trying to limit the frying especially.

As a rule while making samosa I use only whole wheat flour.....even when I make pizza, I use whole wheat flour; though the pizza base wont be as soft and spongy as made with plain flour....I make my kids "like" whole wheat flour based pizza base and samosa (or whatever I make with whole wheat flour) insisting to them the health benefits of wheat flour, and now they does not seem to mind much.


Lets get cooking!

Ingredients:
(For the samosa dough)
Whole wheat flour/Atta: 1 cup.
Oil: 2 tbsp (I used rice bran oil).
Salt: 1/2 tsp.
Ajwain: 1/4 tsp. (optional).
Little water to knead.

(for the vegetable filling)
Vegetables chopped: 1 cup.
Onion: 1, sliced.
Ginger: A small piece, sliced or chopped.
Red chilly powder: 1 tsp ( I use Kashmiri Red chilly powder).
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp.
Garam masala: 1/2 tsp.
Dry Mango Powder/Amchur: 1/2 tsp.
Salt to taste.
Coriander/Cilantro leaves.
Oil: 1 tbsp.
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp.
Boiled and mashed potatoes: 250 gm.

Method:
In a pan heat 1 tbsp oil, add the cumin seeds, onion, ginger; fry for a min or two and add the red chilly powder, turmeric, and garam masala.

Add the chopped veggies to it......add little water cover and cook, (put some veggies like carrots, beans, capsicum, cabbage etc into food processor and blitz away).


Add the boiled and mashed potatoes....add the dry mango powder, mix well. Add coriander leaves....and allow it to cool.

For the samosa dough:

In a bowl take 1 cup of atta or whole wheat flour and add salt, ajwain seeds, and 2 tbsp of oil. Simply rub the oil into the flour till it resembles bread crumbs.

Add little water to knead it into a dough, the dough should not be very lose...should be on the harder side because I am not going to add any flour to it while rolling it out. After about 10 minutes rest you can grease your hand in oil and again knead it (sorry I forgot to take that pic)

Divide the dough into equal sized balls, rolled out into rounds and cut in the middle with your pizza cutter. I did not dust with flour, just flattened into small rounds....well this one was not actually round (my daughter's skills are getting better)...but it does not matter for samosa....still if you want to see a perfectly round one; the one I made for the spinach samosa.

Place a tablespoon of the veggie/potato mix on one half of the dough.

Simply cover it into a cone shape. Just press the sides with your finger tips...no need for water or dough paste to stick the sides...just press into the dough at the seams.

Grease a baking tray and line butter paper on it.....place the samosas on it and brush oil lightly on top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degree C for 15 minutes and then take out the baking tray and turn the samosa to the other-side and again brush oil and bake for another 15 min or until done....it is best eaten warm.

My kids loved this healthy samosa.

Hope you will enjoy baked samosa as much as I did.

TIP: If you are making with plain flour, the outer covering will be more crunchy and flaky.
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One year ago: Whole wheat spinach samosa; fried version.
                      Whole Wheat Garlic Rolls...baked version.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Journey of a Food blogger.


Today I am taking a break from recipes a small deviation from my cooking to give you  some of the knowledge that I have gained through blogging for the last two years.

This journey which started on a whim one afternoon, summer of 2010 was actually to store and share some of my favorite recipes. Friends have been asking recipes and I started sending them through email. And one fine afternoon I stumbled on blogger and the rest is history. The very first post is my favorite chocolate recipe which was popular among my friends and relatives...little did I know that I am stumbling into the big world of blogging.

Blogging has become an addictive hobby and a place to share my passion for cooking. I was overjoyed when I got the first comment and then slowly without myself realizing my blog started to grow. For me cooking should be easy and fun, I cannot digest long list of ingredients in a recipe, so I try to make my cooking as easy as possible for my readers and friends....my mantra is cooking is EASY!


I have come to know a lot of people through this blog, Prathima, Aparna, Sharmi, Priya, Jay, Biny, Faseela, Shabs Binu, Radhika, Akila, Deepa, Tina..... and I have to mention Dassana, when I came to know that she was a web developer I wrote to her a few of my doubts and she replied back with tons of information....half of it I still have to understand....like the word "optimize your meta tag" and a lot more . Unknown persons suddenly becomes your friend....and try to help...that  connection is because we all share the same passion.


Initally when I started I did not know about picassa, (remember I graduated from college long before IT revolution) I used to upload each and every picture from my computer to blog.....that was time consuming. Then I found out about picasa and was happy that I could edit them after I upload them from my cam and even upload them to my blog from picasa...yes that was great!. You can download Google picasa from here. I did have some hiccups with picasa; like once when I saw too many of the already uploaded pictures, I thought why not delete some pics and save the space on picasa after all the pics that I needed are already uploaded in the blog and I promptly deleted some many of them....the result was that all the pictures automatically was deleted from the blog too....it was a hard lesson for me....imagine my patience....finally again I uploaded them back to its place...whew!

I thought after 1 year of blogging that, I have learned everything, but the truth is even now after 2.5 years of blogging I am learning something new each and everyday, some of you might have helped me in this travel; I thank each and everyone who has helped me in some way or the other.

If you have learned something new please share with me.......
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Mushroom Pulav/Pulao/Biriyani




The best thing about mushrooms are; they are very low in calories, they have no cholesterol, and less than 1% of your daily value of sodium plus the vitamins and minerals.

They are often classified as a vegetable or a herb, but they are actually fungi. While there are over 14,000 mushrooms, only about 3,000 are edible, about 700 have known medicinal properties, and fewer than one percent are recognized as poisonous.

It is best to put mushroom in turmeric water before cooking; if the color of the mushroom changes it is not fit to use. Usually store-bought ones are safe.

I prepared this pulav with the recipe that I used for my easy vegetable pulav, only addition was 1 chopped tomato after the green paste. Then add the chopped mushrooms, they will shrink once they are cooked



Serve hot with papad and raita.

For Recipe Click Here.


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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Black Magic Cake.....step by step.




Hershey's Black Magic Cake....is one of my favorite cake.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Easy Vegetable Pulav/Veg Pulao...step by step.




Easy vegetable pulav or pulao or pilaf.....can be made in about half an hour....how cool is that??

I use my food processor once a day noo twice, thrice, I stopped counting......its the most essential part of my cooking.

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Friday, September 07, 2012

Pomfret Fry...Kerala Style.


A real treat for fish lovers.....spicy and flavorful...straight from God's own country-Kerala.


Avoli a.k.a pomfret is a family favorite....when my achachen visited me 2 days back he bought frozen pomfret all the way from Trivandrum to Calicut....we Keralites are fish lovers, fish is a staple among non-vegetarians.


I am very particular about the red chilly variety I use, I only use Kashmiri Red Chilly known in Malayalam as "piriyan mulaku". This chilly has very mild heat and the colour stands out....thus there is no need to add any red color to the dish. It is a sort of ritual for me that just before the monsoons I buy kilos of Kashmiri Chilly, sun dry it and powder it in the local mill, as I am a bit weary of using ready made powders.

I have marinated the fish with chilly powder,  a bit of pepper powder, turmeric, salt and kudumpuli neeru or juice of kokum and shallow fried the fish....the result was mouthwatering...my family loved it with hot steaming rice...you will love this as much as I did.

Also check out my Grilled fish recipe.

Ingredients:
Pomfret: 2 pieces.
Kashmiri Red Chilly Powder: 3 tsp (if using ordinary chilly powder reduce by half).
Pepper powder: 1/2 tsp.
Kudumpuli: 1/2 tsp or can add juice of half a lime.
Turmeric: A fat pinch.
Salt: About half tsp.
Little water.
Few curry leaves.

Method
Make a paste with chilly powder, pepper, turmeric, salt, and kumpuli with little water.(if using lime juice then sometimes water will not be needed at all to bind the paste).


Rub it all over the fish and keep aside for at least half an hour.

In a nonstick pan, heat 2 tbsp oil and shallow fry the fish. Lastly put the curry leaves in the same oil, fry it, and sprinkle on top of the fish for that added flavor.

Serve with sliced onions.


Enjoy!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Whole Wheat Instant Cococnut Dosa/Pancakes



Whole wheat dosa laced with freshly scarped coconut.

Or should I call it whole wheat pancakes??

It can be made instantly...no fermentation needed....no oil....fat free...less calorie....lots of fibre.

My mother in law is diabetic, I make diabetic-friendly food for her at times.

This is one such meal that I prepare for her as a breakfast.....and its Vegan!

Ingredients:
Whole wheat flour: 1 cup.
Water: About 1/2 to 3/4 cup or as needed.
Freshly scraped coconut: 1/3 cup.
Salt: 1/2 tsp.

Method:
In a bowl add flour, coconut, salt.

Add water to it and mix it....the batter should not be too thick or too loose.

Instead of cooking spray, I dip a cloth in oil and grease the hot tawa, sort of like a nonstick coating.

Put the fire on low and grease the tawa.

Pour 1 1/2 ladle full of batter on the tawa and spread out like dosa....you can make it too thin or thick.

Cover it with a lid and let it remain for 1 min and then flip it on the other side. Again allow it to stand for another 2 min. Always remember to cook in low flame. Grease the tawa with the cloth after each dosa.

That's it....instant whole wheat coconut dosa is ready to serve.
Serve with pickle.

Notes: To make it kid friendly can add molasses or sugar to sweeten the batter.

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