Cauliflower Subji & Aloo Parata's

This is probably one of Shankar and my favourite foods to eat. My husband loves paratha's - any kind. And I love roti's and subji's. A subji is pretty much a vegetable curry. It takes about 45 min - 1 hour to do the whole thing. I think it took me about 45 minutes last night. The more you do it, the faster you will get. It's really all about practicing multi-tasking and interleaving the two recipes together, so as you are doing one thing another thing starts happening. I swear, South Indian mothers work like supercomputers they way they multi-task. And the memory's they have! My mother never forgets anything, unless she considers it a useless piece of information. The caulifower subji is my m-in-law's recipe, and paratha's are something both my mom and my m-in-law are experts at! I'll give you both recipes, and then I'll explain how you can do two things at once! Or maybe even three!!! This is to serve two people, just double everything for more people.
Cauliflower Curry

Mint, coriander, green chili, ginger, tomato, onion, dhania jeera powder, amchur, anardhana powder

. Grind handfuls of mint and coriander with 1 chopped onion, 1 - 1.5 large green chili, 2 tbsp of grated ginger (or chopped - or just large dice up the ginger and throw it in), 1 large tomato, and some water. So the picture has all of these, but I forgot the onion in the picture!
. Break up about 1/2 a large head of cauliflower into florets. You can also use frozen cauliflower, which is already broken up. Microwave this for about 5-7 minutes. My microwave is a little older and takes 7 minutes, but mom's at home takes only 4-5 minutes. Just take it out and see if its cooked, if not stick it back in for a few more minutes.
. While the cauliflower is micro-ing, heat some olive oil in a pan. Veg oil or corn oil is ok too, but we use olive as it has less saturated fat. Cook about a tbsp of cumin seeds in this. You can add more if you want, that is just an approximation.
. Add the gravy and cook that. Add 2 tsp of anardhana powder - pomegranate powder, and 2 tsp of amchur powder - mango powder. Add salt.
. Add the cauliflower and mix it all up. You can thicken this sauce if it is too watery with some kadalai maavu - besan flour, or chickpea flour. Garnish with coriander, chopped.

Aloo Parata
My husband had made this aloo in gravy as a side dish the other night, and I kept the leftovers in the fridge. We used the later to make aloo-cheese sandwiches toasted on a griddle with store bought buns, and also today to make the parata's. Leftover aloo subji is a useful thing!

3 potatoes, mint, coriander, green chili, onion, tomato, dhania jeera powder

. Boil 2 large potatoes. I peel them and chop into pieces, then cook in a microwave steamer for 10 minutes. Microwave steamers or rice cookers are awesome. And they are like 6 bucks at Walmart. Get one.
. Now the gravy that you add to these potatoes is the same as the Cauliflower Subzi. So just make extra of that and reserve some to add to your potatoes. What I would do is before you add the cauliflower to the gravy, take the extra out to add to your potatoes. You can also add dhania jeera powder to the gravy if you want additional flavouring. Don't forget to salt your potatoes. They need a lot of salt.
. The parata dough is just atta - whole wheat flour mixed with water and salt. You can flavor with all kinds of spices, or keep it plain. I sometimes add omam - ajwain, or cumin, turmeric, or chili powder. Mix the dough, till it is soft and won't stick to the counter. Add some oil at the end. Again, I use olive. Shankar's aunt, Akhila Chithi, recommended the flour brand 'Sujatha'. It is a fantastic flour, and I suggest using that. The dough will be nice and soft and pliable with that. Don't over work it. Start adding water slowly and mixing it up.
. I use the two-chappathi method for parata's, that is roll out the dough into two circles. Place the aloo filling on top of one, and spread it out. Cover with the other chappathi, and seal the edges with your fingers. And roll this out again.

. Place on a heated cast iron, or steel pan, and cook on medium heat till both sides have browned and the dough has cooked through. Add oil to the parata at this point before you flip it.


cucumber, yogurt, buttermilk (optional), salt, dhania jeera powder, garam masala powder, coriander.

This is the simplest raita known to man. Dice some cucumber finely. About a 4 inch chunk of cucumber. Add yogurt to this, and a bit of buttermilk or water to thin it out. Add salt, 1 tsp dhania jeera powder, and 1/4 tsp of garam masala, and fresh ground black pepper. Mix and garnish with chopped coriander.

How to multi-task
I recommend mixing the dough in advance. This gets one step out of the way. I had made daal dhokri two nights ago, and had some leftover dough from that. I kept it in the fridge and used it to make the paratha's tonight. First thing you do is cook the alu. Put them in the microwave, then you can start taking out all the ingredients for the cauliflower. Break up the cauliflower into florets. Grind up the paste. When the potato is done, pull it out and throw in the cauliflower. Start your hot pan and the cumin, and cook the gravy. Mash the potatoes, and add some of the cooked gravy to that. Toss the cooked cauliflower into the pan with the rest of the gravy. If the cauliflower is fully cooked in the microwave you are done. If it needs to cook some more. Then just keep on a low heat with the pan covered, and it'll steam inside. You need to heat it up or medium high stirring to prevent burning, and then reduce to low heat before you cover it to steam it. Let your cauliflower steam or if its done turn off the heat. Heat up your roti tawa (griddle) on medium-high.

Start rolling out your dough. Flour your workspace with atta, flatten the atta into little balls and then roll out the two chappathi's. Once you have one parata on the griddle, start rolling out the next one, keeping an eye on the griddle so you can flip the parata. Work this in tandem. If it's too hard get someone to flip the parata's for you, and oil them before flipping. Practice. That's the only way to get the hang of this. But once you master it, its a great feeling. Suddenly you will find yourself making parata's and chappathi's all the time.

Amazing Bread

Of the many things my husband is good at, one of them is making bread. He uses a great recipe from my bro-in-law who got it off a flour package. But what makes the breads really good are the variations he adds to them. The other night we had an Asian hot and sour soup, and to go with it he made a green chili bread. The heat from every bite of the bread added another dimension to our soup!While mixing up the dough, he adds his mixtures. Here are two great kinds he made:
Mixture #1 - Green Chili Bread
chopped green chili's 2 large
grated ginger about 1 inch
crushed whole peppercorns - milagu

Mixture #2 - Italian Bread
crushed red chili flakes
italian seasoning dried herb mix

Hot and Sour Soup

This was an interesting recipe, that was trying to emulate a soup I had at a nearby Ann Arbor Restaurant 'LotusThai'. I always fall in love with soups at these thai, chinese, and indo-chinese restaurants, and can never completely recreate in my kitchen! They are so good! My husband tried his hand at this time, and it turned out amazing...check it out below.

.about 2 pints of vegetable stock*
.thinly sliced carrots, radish, mushroom,
and red onion
.grated ginger
.green chili diced finely
.romaine lettuce, or chinese cabbage
.chopped cilantro and green onion to garnish
.(optional) red bell pepper diced to garnish
.one tbsp of red wine vinegar
.red chili garlic sauce
.soy sauce * or any chinese flavoring sauce you have

Saute the mushrooms on high heat in sesame oil. Add the onions, and then add the ginger for a few seconds. Add the stock, sauces, vinegar, salt, pepper, and simmer. Add the carrots and radish. Let the vegetables cook but keep them crispy. Add the green onion, and green chili. Just before serving put in the lettuce or chinese cabbage. Garnish with coriander and a little chopped green chili (if you desire the heat!). Check out the results below!

Here is my husband dressed up as a Mongolian chef for a charity event he did cooking at the Mongolian Barbeque in Ann Arbor!

Daal Dhokri

Another wonderful Gujurathi recipe from my m-in-law. This is a hearty soup that is perfect for those cold days! And it is really simple to make. Keep a lot of the spices on hand, and you can whip this up any time. The key to cooking is to have a really well stocked kitchen, then you can make anything you want anytime. Ok here is the recipe now!
vegetables (eg. carrots, beans, potato, peas, lima beans), toor daal, water, oil, cloves, chilli powder, turmeric, asafoetida, cinnamon, jeera, whole wheat flour

1. Dice up your vegetables into small pieces. Think Campbell soup size. Boil them just covered with water, turmeric, and salt, and a bit of orange rind. Any vegetable should work theoretically . Make sure you add tomatoes. This add's a key flavor to this soup.

2. Pressure cook tuvaram parupu - toor daal, in the ratio of 1:4, daal:water. I would say for a 2 quart saucepan, you'd want to add at least 3/4 cup of daal. (This measure is before you cook the daal!). But you can adjust to your taste, if you like the soup more watery or more daal-y. My husband prefers the former, and I the latter. So I just add hot water to mine to adjust to my taste. I would say at least 4-5 whistles on the pressure cooker.

3. Add the parupu - daal to the veggies, add about a 1.5 tsp of omam - ajwain. Again to your taste, experiment and see how you like it. Add water if you need to thin out your soup at this point. I keep a kettle on during this so I can add hot water and not bring down the temp of the soup by adding cold water, which will just take longer to boil.

4. Roll out a dough, made from atta (whole wheat flour), omam - ajwain, chili powder, turmeric, salt, and water. It should about 1/8 of an inch thickness. Cut this dough into diamonds and drop them into the boiling soup. Let it cook for a few minutes.

5. Splutter in oil; mustard seeds (1 tsp, let this splutter first), then add jeeragam - cumin 1tsp, chili powder (1 tsp), perungayam - asafoetida(a dash), kraambu - cloves (2) crushed, and cinnamon(1/4 tsp).


Spinach Manicotti

Here is a great recipe that you can make for a small dinner party, or just for two people. The quantities can be easily adjusted depending on how many people you are cooking for. Keep the store bought manicotti pasta on hand, and I usually always have an emergency jar of store bought pasta sauce for those days when I don't feel like cleaning up another pot for the sauce.

Store bought dry manicotti pasta (cannelloni is fine too), spinach, mushrooms (optional), ricotta cheese, Italian herbs (any variation of dried italian seasoning, dry or fresh oregano and basil, onion, garlic (optional), pasta sauce, mozarella cheese, 2 eggs.

For 6-7 stuffed manicotti's.
Boil a lot of water (use a large pot, the pasta will cook better), add salt to this. When the water boils add the pasta, cook it for 8-10 minutes. 8 minutes if you like it al dente (firm - which I recommend). In a saucepan saute an onion in extra virgin olive oil until it becomes translucent. If you want to add garlic, add 1 clove of chopped garlic at this time and saute. Add two handfuls of frozen or fresh spinach, add salt and pepper, cover and let the spinach cook for a few minutes.
Drain the pasta at this point. Add the chopped mushrooms to the spinach mixture, cook for a few minutes. Add the seasoning at this point -- whatever you have, italian seasoning, basil, oregano (dry or fresh!). Let the mixture cool for a while. I just stick it in the fridge for about 5-10 minutes depending on how much time I have to prepare. After it cools a little, mix in the ricotta cheese (I use light, but you can use either light or full fat). For 6-7 manicotti's I mix in about a third of a tub of ricotta. If you have eggs you can add two eggs beaten at this point. If I don't have eggs on hand simply omit them. All they do is help bind the stuffing a bit, so it doesn't ooze as much. You can also add some pesto to the stuffing if you have it on hand, it adds a very nice flavour.

Spray a casserole dish with vegetable spray, or butter it if you don't have spray. Add some sauce to the bottom. Stuff the manicotti's (I stuff from both ends), and lay them in the dish. Cover with sauce (if you like a lot of sauce add it, I don't put too much sauce for my taste). Top with mozzarella cheese, either the shredded variety (I'm not a fan of it), or slices of mozzarella, again to your taste. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil, and for 5-8 minutes uncovered until the cheese gets gooey. Garnish with chopped parsley.

I serve this with a simple salad of romaine lettuce ( I buy the romaine hearts in a package), dressed with lemon, ranch dressing, parmesan cheese, and croutons. You can serve this with a baguette as well.

Bon Appetit!