Friday, January 21, 2011

Holiday Baking and a giveaway

                                                              This giveaway is now closed !!!

Every culture , every region in the world must surely have its own way to celebrate festivals, special occasions like anniversaries , birthdays. But whatever the reason or the season, no celebration would be complete without food and no feast would be complete without sweets.I have had my share of rich desserts, as a result of growing up in India, where sweets or desserts almost always contained dairy products such as milk, cream and ghee and had a myriad of nuts swirled in.

After coming to the States, I was introduced to baked goodies and a new world of possibilities opened up.The ingredients might have been different to the ones I was used to, but the scrumptious-ness prevailed.Food blogs and food shows on the television had cooks whipping up creamy cakes, marvelous muffins, pretty pies and cookies of all different kinds.
This past holiday season, I had intended to indulge in a few baking sessions myself.
Although I couldnt try out a whole lot of recipes, I did bake a few cakes and cookies that my family devoured.
When I got the opportunity to participate in a Betty Crocker and Gladware giveaway, I readily agreed.I received a prize pack containing a Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix, a Gladware sample pack and a $25 Safeway gift card,which I could redeem at the local Tom Thumb store.

The sugar cookie is a very versatile recipe. It could either be baked into simple sugar cookies, in shapes of your choice or you could look up the various other cookies that could be created with this pouch.
There are lots of recipes available on the web, but you could also take a look at the following links.

The GladWare range of products is designed to be used to store and transport food products and is readily available in most of the stores.

I would like to offer a similar prize pack for one of my readers.
All you need to do to enter is leave me a comment and tell me which Betty Crocker mix and GladWare product you have tried or want to try. Please be sure to include an email address in your comment so that I can contact the winner.
Please note that this giveaway is only open to people residing in the United States.
The giveaway ends at 11.59 pm on Jan 25th 2011.

Happy Baking !

Congratulations to Commenter No. 2 - mami2jcn
The winner has been contacted by email and has 24 hours to respond to it, else I will pick another winner.

The prize pack, information and the additional giveaway prizepack were all provided to me by Safeway, Gladware and Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark. The opinions are entirely mine !

Red Chori Curry

I have always wondered why it's assumed that people following a vegetarian/vegan diet must find it difficult to fulfill their protein requirements. One look at the lentil / bean section of any Indian grocery store would have you gaping at the sheer variety of products available. There are several kinds of whole beans, lentils, legumes , nuts to create a variety of dishes that will not only satisfy your palette but also provide excellent nutrition.
Any of the beans can be paired with a myriad of vegetables to create soups, stews, curries, salads and even rice dishes, so that you wouldn't need to repeat any dish for quite some time.
On a recent visit to my local Indian grocery, I picked up a packet of chori beans.
I am always interested in trying out new ingredients and new recipes (much to my husband's woe) and the little red beans seemed very promising.

One search on the internet and a whole slew of recipes showed up. These dark red beans are also known as Adzuki or Aduki beans and are widely used in Japan. They are very rich in soluble fiber and are also a good source of minerals and high quality protein.The beans have a subtle , sweet taste which is why adzuki bean paste is used in desserts in East Asian cuisine. These beans sprouts very easily and can be used like moong sprouts in salads and curries.

In making the red chori curry, I sprouted beans for a couple of days and then cooked them in a pressure cooker before using them in the curry.

As with all beans, it is best to soak the beans in plenty of water. Soaking decreases the cooking time and makes the beans more digestible.

Recipe : Red Chori / Adzuki Bean curry


3/4 C dried adzuki beans - soaked and sprouted.
1 medium onion - finely chopped
2 tomatoes - chopped
2 green chilis
2 pods garlic - finely chopped
1/2 inch ginger root - finely chopped
2 tsp oil of choice
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chili powder / paprika
2 tsp half and half or coconut milk (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste
chopped cilantro leaves for garnishing

1. Cook the bean sprouts either on the stove with plenty of water or in a pressure cooker. Set aside.Note that if you do not have the time to sprout the beans, you can also use them as is.
2. In a wide bottomed pan of choice, heat the oil and add fennel, cumin and mustard seeds.When the mustard seeds start spluttering, add the ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant.
3. Add the slit green chilies and onions and saute until onions are translucent. Add all the spice powders,except the garam masala and let cook for a minute or so.
4. Then add the chopped tomatoes, salt and black pepper and cook until the tomatoes break down and get cooked.
5. Add the beans and a 1/2 cup of water , mix well , cover and let simmer on a low flame until all the flavors come together.
6. Mash a few beans with the back of the ladle to thicken the curry, if required.
7. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.
8. I added a little bit of coconut milk to get a creamy texture for the curry, but only because I had a can open that I needed to finish off. You could use cream / half and half or even a bit of evaporated milk instead. You could also omit it entirely.
9. Take the pan off the flame, stir in the garam masala powder and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with Indian flat bread or steaming rice for a flavorful, nutritious meal !