Mejjige Huli - Veggies in Yoghurt: sauce

Mejjige Huli is a lunch staple at most South Indian homes. Typically made with White pumpkin and a yoghurt based sauce, its mildly flavored and goes perfectly with rice. Its made more commonly in the sweltering summer months, to cool off the palate. My hubby shuns pumpkins in any shape, size or color so I improvised on the Mejjige Huli by adding a combination of vegetables and spices. It tasted just as good.

There are many versions to the Mejjige Huli, this is one of them.

You will need:

1/2 cup Carrots, sliced
1/2 cup Green beans, cut into pieces
1 whole Chayote squash (Seemebadnekai) cut into cubes
1/2 onion cubed

To grind into a paste:

1 tbsp Corriander seeds
2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Turmeric
3 whole black peppercorns
1" piece Ginger, chopped
6 Green chillies
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
2 tbsp Ground split dalia (hurgadale)
1/2 cup Yoghurt, which is slightly sour
Salt to taste

To season:
2 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
4 dry red chillies, broken into bits
Few curry leaves
Boil the veggies in water with a little salt. Make a smooth paste of the grinding ingredients. Add the paste to the boiled vegetables, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Prepare seasoning by heating the oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry chillies; saute for a few seconds. When the huli begins to boil remove from heat and add seasoning.

Serve with hot rice.

Spicy Onion & Cilantro Swirl Bread

When I first began to bake, I kept clear of anything that involved using yeast. For a lot of reasons the yeast beast always got the better of me and I landed up with some pretty unpleasant baked goods. Like all things, I was not going to give up on yeast and after several failed attempts, and trials with many successful recipes, I can now say the ‘beast’ has been finally conquered. I owe it to the Daring Bakers too, for challenging me to tackle the yeast beast in a lot of recipes.

I’ve always wanted to bake bread at home, and today was the day I sunk my hands in silky smooth dough which is evidence of well-proofed yeast. I chose a basic white bread dough and added an onion, cilantro and chili filling. The swirls of flavor going through the bread are a feast to the taste buds.

There are two key things when baking bread – proofing the yeast and kneading the bread dough. Both are imperative in deciding the final result.

You will need:

5 – 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
2 ¼ cups Milk
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Butter
1 ½ tsp Salt
For the filling:

1 cup red onion, finely chopped
20 Green chillies, finely chopped
Handful Cilantro, finely chopped
10 curry leaves, chopped
1 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste

In a large mixing bowl combine 2 ½ cups flour and the yeast on low speed. In a medium saucepan, heat milk, butter, sugar and salt to 120F-130F until butter has just melted. This temperature is very important for the yeast to proof well. If the mixture is too hot it kills the yeast and if it is not hot enough then the yeast doesn’t get activated. Add this to the dry ingredients and combine on low speed for 30 seconds and then beat on medium for 3 minutes. 

Slowly add about 2-3 cups flour until the dough comes together into a soft ball which is almost stiff. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead using the heel of your palm and bringing the dough over. Make a quarter turn and repeat. Knead vigorously for 8-10 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth.

Grease a large bowl with oil and place dough in it. Toss once to cover dough with oil. Cover and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes until doubled in size.

Prepare the filling: Heat the oil in pan. Add the green chillies and curry leaves. Then add the chopped onions. Saute until soft and translucent. Cool completely and then season with salt.

Punch down dough, divide into two, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease two 8-inch loaf pans. 

Roll out each piece of dough into a 12x8 inch rectangle. Spread half of the filling evenly and top with half of the chopped cilantro. Starting from the short end, roll up, jelly-roll side and place seam side down in the greased loaf pan. Cover and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Bake loaves for 40 minutes until hollow when tapped. Remove from pans immediately and cool on racks. Slice when still warm with a sharp serrated knife. 

To store: Cool completely before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature upto 2 days.

Baby corn, Peas & Spinach Curry

Baby corn also known as Candle Corn is often used in Thai cuisine. When baby corn first hit the Indian produce markets, it was a rage. I remember when Dad used to bring a whole lot of these fresh from the market, and we knew what was for dinner that night. Either baby corn manchuri or creamy baby corn curry. Tender and just the right size, they make for a tasty snack, fresh or cooked. I chose to make a curry adding spinach and peas along with the babycorn.

I don't find fresh baby corn here at all, so I resort to using the canned ones available in most Asian grocery stores. They taste just as good and save cooking time since they are pre-cooked and can be tossed in a curry in a snap. 

You will need:

10 baby corns, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups spinach, cleaned and chopped
¼ cup Peas
1 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Butter
2 tsp Corriander powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
1 tsp Dried Fenugreek leaves, crushed
Salt to taste

For the curry paste:
1 tbsp Oil
1 large Tomato, chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
2 tsp Cashew bits
2 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
4 Green chillies, chopped
½ tsp Turmeric 

If using fresh baby corn, husk the corn, cut into bits and cook in boiling water until done. Drain and reserve. If using baby corn from a can, drain liquid and cut into bits.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add the cashews and sauté until lightly brown. Add the chopped onions and green chillies. Cook until done, then add the ginger garlic paste, chopped tomatoes and turmeric. Cook until tomatoes are almost done. Cool slightly and then blend to a smooth puree using little water. 

Heat the remaining oil and butter in the same pan used to sauté the paste ingredients. Add the cleaned spinach and sauté for 2 minutes, till wilted. Then add cooked baby corn and peas. Cook for a minute and then stir in the prepared curry paste. Add the cumin and coriander powders, along with the crushed dried fenugreek. Season with salt, stir and simmer on low heat, covered, for 7 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Check for seasoning and serve hot with rotis/parathas/naan.

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