Hooked On Noodles: Noodles-Vegetable Cutlet/ Patties

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Posted by Aparna Balasubramanian

I have no idea how it is in the rest of the world when it comes to instant noodles, but in India, they’re the stuff of very fond (or not so good, as the case may be) memories for many people I know.

NestlĂ©’s Maggi 2-minute noodles have been in India for 25 years now. The fact that some boiling water and the contents of the packet is all it needs to serve oneself a plate of noodles is what makes it so popular. The addictive nature of the “masala” (or flavouring powder) that comes with the noodles and that they can be bought in every corner store also helps!

Since Maggi noodles takes just “2 minutes” to make, as their advertisements keep reminding us, they have been saviours to many a hungry student, unmarried people(and married ones too!) who couldn’t cook but needed to eat, and the harried mother who needed a quick snack for her ever hungry and demanding children.

Globalisation and development now mean that we have a greater variety of instant noodles, including Ramen noodles, those from.
Available in every flavour that appeal to the Indian palate, these noodles are now available also in “healthier” versions such as whole wheat and vegetable noodles.

While not really healthy food, these noodles are very popular and a taste that most children (and some adults) love. One way to handle this addiction/ instant noodle syndrome is to ensure that I buy it rarely. Another one is to hop on the instant noodle bandwagon occasionally.

By this, I mean trying to find ways to make those instant noodles a little more acceptable as food. This instant noodles and vegetable cutlet may not be the healthiest of foods but I think its not too bad as an occasional compromise.

These cutlets are a decent after-school or evening snack. This recipe is adapted from Tarla Dalal’s Fun Food For Children.


1 1/2 to 2 cups instant noodles, cooked*

1/4 cup sweet corn kernels, cooked and crushed**

1/4 cup green peas, cooked**

1 to 1 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup grated cheese

2 tbsp milk

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

2 tbsp chickpea flour (besan)/ cornstarch

salt to taste

breadcrumbs for coating cutlets/ patties

oil for shallow frying


*If you’re cooking the instant noodles without adding the tastemaker that comes along with it, season the noodles with spices of your choice like turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, onion powder, garlic, garam masala, etc. Use these according to your preferred taste.

** You can adjust these 1/4 and 1/4 cups with vegetables of your choice. I would suggest that you do not use more than 3 vegetables in all; otherwise it might be difficult to persuade some children to eat them!

In a bowl, combine the noodles, sweet corn, peas, chilli flakes, spring onions, milk, chickpea flour/ cornstarch, cheese, breadcrumbs and salt.
Mix well and divide the mixture into 12 equal portions, and shape each into a well packed cutlet/ patty.
Coat the cutlets/ patties well with breadcrumbs and shallow fry in hot oil on both sides, till golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve warm with ketchup.
This recipe makes 12 cutlets/ patties.

This post was written by Aparna

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Quick Indian - Dal Chaval

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Posted by Bina

Simple, everyday food. No elaborate masalas, no fancy ingredients......not even a garnish on this one! Yet, Dal and Chaval (Dal and Rice) says home to me like no other food does. I am pretty sure it is the same for anyone who grew up eating Indian food. A bowl of piping hot dal and rice......ok, maybe some papad on the side - my definition of a completely satisfying meal!

Dals are legumes (lentils, beans and peas) and are a rich source of protein and fiber as well as folate and iron. The legumes as well as the cooked dish is called dal.

A pressure cooker does a quick and easy job of cooking dals. However, many dals ( like masoor and mung) can be cooked in a saucepan within 20-30 minutes. Dals do tend to foam while cooking but you can skim off the foam and if using a pressure cooker, adding a teaspoon of oil will reduce the foaming. Dals can also be combined with different leafy greens (spinach, amaranth, fenugreek, collard greens etc), sour fruit(raw mango, tomatoes, tomatillos), squashes and crucifers (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli).

Most of the dals one buys in stores nowadays are free of debris and small stones but it is a good idea to give it a quick check before cooking and also rinse them well to get rid of any debris.

The most common way to season dal is by tadka (vaghar, chaunk, popu) where you heat some oil and/or ghee in a small saucepan and add spices (which differ by region). The spices infuse the oil with wonderful flavors and aroma and when added to the dal, elevates it to the sublime! You can also vary the consistency of the dal by adjusting the amount of water. The consistency can vary from dry, to puree-like, to thin and soupy.

My most favorite dal is my Amamma's (grandma) tuvar dal that she used to dry roast in a brass vessel over a wood fire, and then season it simply with salt when it was almost done cooking. The memory of that dal with feshly cooked rice and a dollop of ghee has me drooling even today. I can still see myself as a five year old, sitting on the floor in her kitchen while she roasted the dal - me chattering away in English (a language she barely understood) and she speaking in Telugu (which I spoke very little of), yet somehow managing to communicate and bond.


1 cup Pigeon peas (Tuvar dal). You can also use Red lentils (masoor) or split Mung dal.
2 cups water
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup (1 large) tomato, chopped
1 green chili
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp canola oil or ghee (or a combination of both)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

Wash the tuvar dal 2-3 times until the water runs clear. Pressure cook the dal in 2 cups water on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. After the pressure is released, open the lid of the cooker and add more water depending on the consistency you prefer. Add the turmeric and start boiling on a medium flame. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can use the red lentils (Masoor dal) which will take about 20 minutes to cook in a saucepan and will need about 3 cups water. The split Mung beans will take approx 30 mins to cook and will need about 5 cups water.

Heat the oil in a small pan on medium high heat. Add the cumin and once it starts to turn brown, add the garlic and green chili and cook till the garlic starts to turn golden brown.

Add the tomatoes and cook until they get soft and slightly mushy.

Transfer this mixture to the dal. Add the cilantro and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Serve with rice (preferably Basmati).

* You can also make this with a combination of dals (tuvar or masoor, moong, urad and chana) and add some finely chopped/grated ginger and chopped onions along with the garlic. When cooking beans, I also add some garam masala and cumin-coriander (dhania-jeera) powder.

Here's a recipe for a very simple, spiced rice that tastes wonderful with just about any dal .


2 cups Basmati rice, rinsed 2-3 times in cold water.
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1 inch piece cinnamon
3-4 cardamom
4-5 cloves
2-3 bay leaves
3 tbsp canola oil
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pan large enough to hold the rice. Add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves. Once the spices start to change color, add the vegetables and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Add the rice and salt. Once this comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cover with a lid.

Cook on medium low heat till done.

* I use a rice cooker for this. Add the rice, water and vegetables to the cooker followed by the spices in oil (described above) and cook till done.

This post was written by Bina

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Gluten-Free Almond and Milled Seed Banana Bread

Friday, April 09, 2010

Posted by Hilda

GF Banana Bread
I have been having adventures with gluten-free foods lately. It's not that I need to eat gluten-free foods suddenly or anything, it's more that I first made and ate gluten-free foods about fourteen years ago thanks to my friend Chloe, who was having severe food allergies at the time, and remembered recently that gluten-free food could be quite lovely with its seeming resurgence on food blogs.
I always have some allergy and food-intolerance recipes handy just in case a friend who suffers from one comes over and, in this particular instance, I'd been wondering how different it would be to eat gluten-free banana bread having never tried that (but eating my regular share of gluten-packed banana bread).

I have an unabashed love of bananas; I think they may be the perfect food. I know some people hate them but, frankly, I don't get those people; it seems everyone in this house loves them so banana bread is always well received, and I've taken to trying different versions lately having spent so many years with a favorite recipe. We don't often end up with overripe bananas here simply because they're eaten up so quickly but, on occasion, particularly when one too many visits have been paid to the store, we end up with several sets of bananas and I have to use them up. You can of course freeze bananas so that you're not forced to bake with them until you're ready, just be aware that if you do the peel turns completely black though the flesh is unaffected.

Banana Tree
Of course there's no dearth of gluten-free banana bread recipes on the web with all the gluten-free blogs, but there's no telling what recipe will look appealing to you when you do a search for something as popular as banana bread. I settled on this recipe from Gluten-Free Goddess for snacking banana bread and set about figuring out how I would make it with less almond flour. I love me some almonds but I didn't really want this to taste mostly of almonds and banana.

I've spoken on my blog about a milled seed mix made by Linwoods which is made up of milled flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I made gluten-free muffins with it and they were delicious; I actually thought the mix was milled nuts until I took a good look at the package; due to my having made so many muffins with it, I decided to make some gluten-free banana bread instead with what remained. I didn't have enough of it to make up the entire portion of "flour", so I ended up mixing almond meal with finely chopped hazelnuts and what was left of the milled seeds.

I was pleasantly surprised by the result. I thought it would be good but I didn't realize how good it would be, and the best part of it was that it was incredibly light and moist. The recipe below is the most basic version. You could of course add other spices, perhaps whatever mix you usually use in your banana bread. Karina's version calls for 2 cups of flour-substitute, I added a bit more because I had an extra 1/4 cup of milled seeds left in the bag; if you look at the comments on her post, people substituted all different kinds of flours, ground nuts, etc... so feel free to experiment with your own kind of flour or non-flour mix.
The next time I get a bag of milled seeds, I'm definitely making this banana bread again, along with a few dozen muffins. You never know when the urge to snack might hit you.

Gluten-free Almond and Milled Seed Banana Bread
adapted from the Gluten-Free Goddess here

1 cup (100g) almond meal
3/4 cup (75g) milled seeds
1/2 cup (60g) finely chopped hazelnuts (or pecans or whatever kind of nut you want)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 large eggs, at room temp
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (100g) light brown sugar
3 medium very ripe bananas, cut up, mashed
2 tsp vanilla extract

- Heat oven to 350F (180C).
- Grease a loaf pan very lightly. No need to flour it. (I used cocoa for the fun of it to see if it would make a taste difference, it didn't).
- In a small bowl, mix the almond meal, milled seeds, and hazelnuts with the baking soda, baking powder, sea salt and spices. Combine well. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy; add the olive oil, brown sugar, banana mash and vanilla. Beat well to incorporate.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix and beat for a couple of minutes.
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake for ~35 minutes or until done. A pick stuck in the center should come out clean.
- Cool the bread completely on a wire rack before slicing or serving.
It will keep for about 3-4 days well wrapped or in an airtight container.

This post was written by HILDA

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