Masala Popcorn on a Friday night! Friday night, often a movie night in many families happened to be a movie night for me also today! Masala Popcorn also became my dinner, as many a times when one is alone for a meal, the motivation to cook just vanishes. This interesting recipe by Vikram Sunderam, the celebrity chef of Rasika tempted me to try it out. Rasika is known for its super quality contemporary Indian cuisine. I have over several occasions had celebration meals at the variety of restaurants under the Rasika group management, and never have we been disappointed!
Popcorn is something I have always enjoyed. Some years back I tasted jalapeño flavored popcorn at Potomac Mills. After tasting this salty and spicy flavor in popcorn, chance of this flavor being on the top flavors are quite likely.
The recipe was created with the desire to bring the flavor of Chevda, the Indian quintessential snack. As an Indian, we always look for the comfort of the spices and recreate the taste at the first chance we have. This recipe is truly a creative idea by Vikram, and no wonder this is a popular accompaniment at Rasika Bar. If I get a chance to meet him, I would probably get his autograph on the Recipe book that Rasika has just released it, and which I had the chance to get it on my anniversary. What more can a foodie ask for!
I enjoyed this uniquely flavored Masala Popcorn while watching a Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma starrer When Harry Met Sejal! Movie review- A plus to Anushka for doing an amazing task of imitating a Gujjuben, and SRK is always at his best for his diehard fan! The masala in the movie was equivalent to the masala in the popcorn, with the use of cumin, coriander, curry leaves, chillies and spice level further raised by some red chili powder.
Masala Popcorn has a nice kick in its flavor, while providing a comfort meal. A two minute dinner that has all the spices, fiber and is low fat, is an interesting combination for sure. Enjoy your favorite movie, accompanied by Masala Popcorn!
Popcorn wit Indian Spices
Create the garnish for the popcorn first. Heat the oil in a small saucepan, Once the oil heats, add coriander seeds and asafetida. Lower the flame so that garnish does not over cook.
Once coriander seeds crackle, add cumin seeds. As the cumin seeds brown, add fennel seeds. After few seconds, add the remaining ingredients and remove from flame.
If cooking on gas I suggest creating the garnish first, and then mixing the garnish in the popcorn and then popping it over the stove.
Otherwise, follow the microwave instructions for making the popcorn. Once the popcorn is cooked, add the masala garnish and toss it thoroughly so that the flavor is well integrated in the popcorn.
Enjoy a nice family evening with Masala Popcorn and interesting movie at home!
Recently I came across this Masala flavored Popcorn by Swad having the spices of red chili powder, which might be a good alternative, though I have not tried it.
Taste of home is the main instinct factor for most of chefs!
Masala Popcorn gives a great kick to the flavor of popcorn, For the really high spice lovers, some finely chopped jalapeño will coat the popcorn well. Low fat tasty alternative to the buttery popcorn, and also possible to have more, as its not so high in calories! I had two servings and enjoyed the fennel, cumin , green chillies and curry flavor in the popcorn. Masala Popcorn while watching movie, made the movie more enjoyable and memorable!
Avocado and Cottage Cheese Toasts are recipes from a French grandmother, that I chanced upon on my trip to New Orleans last month. We have been making trips across the states, to visit different colleges, and so a few places are some that we have never visited. Like every tourist, I had a few museums in mind , besides visiting the famous French Quarters and a tram ride on Charles Street. New Orleans was earlier a French Colony as well as Spanish colony. And then it was purchased by USA from them in the famous Louisiana purchase, The city has retained its french legacy with the streets in the french quarter still retaining fresh names.
I have always found vegetarian food in french cuisine to be highly delicious, flavorful and healthy per my experience in Paris. So when I got a chance to try some in the cafe at Contemporary Arts Center, I was eagerly waiting to be pleasantly satisfied and also surprised by its flavors. Rightly so, I found a highly colorful and varied combinations to eat a simple toast!! No wonder the french toast is also so popular. A brief reading on Wiki mentions that the french toast was earlier dipped in milk, cinnamon and butter and that the initial recipe had no eggs, as so commonly done now. This is mentioned in Apicius a collection of Roman cookery recipes, usually thought to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD.
What a treat it was to taste ancestral recipes like the Avocado and Cottage Cheese Toast s in a town that is so rich with history and where French, Spanish and American influences merge to make a vibrant impression on the town and its tourists! The garnishes and spread were varied and I hope to explore more of those in future and share the same with everyone, This is a great recipe for a quick healthy colorful fix, or if someone is just watching the calorie intake and yet craves for something delicious! Below is my first attempt to post a recipe with a short video in addition to the detailed steps so do have a look:)
Avocado and Cottage Cheese Toast
A healthy flavorful toast for breakfast or brunch!
Dice the avocados in cubes
Mash the avocados and then add olive oil to it and mix in some more. Add salt to taste.
Toast a thick slice of bread.
Put the avocado spread atop the toast and garnish it with chopped olives, pumpkin seeds and fresh basil leaves
Blend the cottage cheese using a hand blender
Spread the cottage cheese over the toast and garnish with pumpkin seeds, red chili flakes and balsamic vinegar.
Serve immediately and tomato soup goes well with these toasts
Thick slice of bread will give a nice crunch and base for the toast. When I first tried, I had it on rye bread.
When I mashed the avocado, the color became slightly yellow, and was not as green as I saw at the cafe, So thought of adding the extra virgin olive oil and immediately the color became greener and the texture of the spread became smoother too, after all, avocado is used as a butter so worked out well.
Experiment with any toppings such as arugula, goat cheese, walnuts to name a few!
The best lunch for a hot afternoon, as both the combinations provide a cooling and soothing effect! I have always been a fan of crunchy stuff and toasts too, so its a perfect bite with a soup on the side. It looks so colorful and inviting and can be fixed in ten minutes! Besides it is so very healthy and light that an extra piece of toast will satisfy that extra bit of craving without much guilt! The balsamic vinegar gives a nice sweet and tangy taste which matches well with red chili flakes. And fresh basil leaves with olives for an avocado lover is always an added bonus! Avocado and Cottage Cheese Toast is good recipe for college bound kids too, to fix something in a jiffy! Enjoy these toast recipes from a French home in New Orleans adding refreshing flavors to the vegetarian cuisine.
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Temple Pongal Lentil Rice is the prasad one gets when one visits South Indian temples. The most famous south Indian temple is the Tirupati Balaji Temple in Andhra Pradesh. The temple is situated atop a hill and surrounded by seven hills around it. The access to the temple from the base of the city is a long winding road, and using the stairs/trails to hike up can take about 3-4 hours on foot. This is the most wealthiest of temples in India, with devotees giving large contribution as donations. This temple was what I visited post my marriage and coming from Jain household, was struck by the beauty, discipline and the utmost devotion expressed at various levels, from the learned priests to the the person working in the guesthouses over there. The temple prasad was just true delicacy, and having had my first taste of pongal as Tirupati Pongal, I am kind of spoiled by that. A lot of restaurants serve this Pongal as Ven Pongal or Khara Pongal, but not many come close to the color, texture and taste of the original Tirupati Pongal. So on this day of Pongal, I took the time to recreate what I remembered from my visit many many years ago and hope Lord Balaji is blessing me on this attempt!
The texture of Temple Pongal Lentil Rice as I remember was more like porridge, and made out of small grain rice. And I recollect the color as white base, and the taste of raw cumin and the yellow moong dal being seen clearly and of course dollops of ghee, cashews and black pepper! A lot of recipes on the web talk about adding curry leaves. ginger and turmeric. However, I decided against it as that does not match with my visual memory. I could be wrong, but still wanted to make an attempt to recreate the blessings I received via the temple pongal in the way I remembered. And besides the logic that makes sense, is that this prasad would be made as simple as possible, considering the vast number of devotees that visit the temple. And the logistics of carrying curry leaves, ginger all way atop a hill and then the labor involved in cleaning and cutting would be a bit too much. Not using the added ingredients also helps me keep this recipe suitable to the aatham/chaudas menu, when green and root vegetables are not consumed in the menu. There are some Jains who believe that the temple idol of Lord Balaji at Tirupati was originally an idol of Shri NeminathTirthankar. Whatever be the belief, the fact that today it is the most wealthiest temple and the most revered by devotees speaks volume for the faith of the devotee as well as the blessings obtained at the Tirupati Balaji Temple.
The Temple Pongal Lentil Rice is often cited as a complete meal as it has its content of grain, lentil and lots of protein via ghee and nutrition of cashews and black pepper. Black pepper was the original spice from India, used in place of red and green chillies. Pongal, festival of harvest in Tamil Nadu, is often celebrated by boiling milk over and Pongal also means boiling over.
Wishing all of you a Very Happy Pongal and loads of good wishes as you start a new year with optimism and good thoughts with the prasad of Temple Pongal Lentil Rice and blessings of Lord Balaji to guide you through the year!
Temple Pongal Lentil Rice
Comfort and pure joy to eat this soulful rice and lentil recipe from southern India.
Dry roast the yellow moong dal in a pan for 2-3 minutes on low flame till you get the aroma of roasting,
Wash the rice thrice and soak with five and half cups of water for 30 minutes. After soaking, boil this soaked rice, along with its water. Add salt, peppercorns, cumin seeds and milk to it.
Keep stirring in between so that the rice does not stick at the bottom. Halfway through add the roasted yellow moong dal.
Once the rice and dal are cooked, and you have reached the desired consistency of the pongal, remove from flame. If the consistency looks to soupy, keep cooking till water is reduced.
Heat the ghee in a small vessel, and add cashews and stir till they are golden brown. Add asafetida and remove from flame. Add this to the rice and mix well, and cook rice for another 2-3 minutes for the flavor to set in.
Add the crushed pepper powder and keep stirring whole time, so that the rice does not set at the bottom.
Serve warm with Shakkar Pongal or with coconut chutney or pickle or just plain is also very delicious!!. Plain yogurt serves a good accompaniment to Temple Pongal.
- Small grain rice are crucial to obtaining the texture of the pongal as well as cooking on the stove is important so that you can get the right texture. I used the Spanish Goya Rice as thats what I had at home and it worked well.
- Ensure that the cashews do not get burned, and stay golden, which I missed out on.
- Quite a bit of instinct involved in recreating this recipe by memory. I could be wrong, but I hope my readers from southern India will forgive me:) Feel free to add red chillies, some coriander, if you want to add some more spice and fragrance.
Happy to have the prasad of Lord Balaji and invoke his blessings in some way! Texture was great according to my husband, who just loves this Pongal and any Pongal on earth. So much so that the Pongal restaurant in New York City, is his Mecca for this and we have to make a visit every time we are in NYC. So a compliment from him made my effort worthwhile.. Loved the cumin, black pepper and ghee flavor in this traditional temple recipe of pongal.
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