Tips to Tackle Tight Spots

Simple ingredients in your kitchen that can be used to make life easy.

Having ants all over your kitchen? Keep the peel of cucumbers wherever you see them. Ants do not like them and will disappear.

To get clean and clear ice boil the water before freezing.

To make your mirrors shine clean them with spirit or wipe them clean with tea decoction.

Sat on a chewing gum by mistake and stuck with it? Keep the fabric inside the freezer for a few minutes and pull it out.

Soaking white clothes in a bucket of hot water with a some lime slices for about half an hour will help in making them sparkling white.

Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the last rinse to make hair shiny.

Chew gum while chopping onions to avoid tears.

While cooking cabbage the smell that emanates puts off a lot of people. Drop a piece of bread into the pan and the smell will disappear.

Sprinkle black pepper in places frequented by rats and you will see the last of them.

To remove ink stains rub the affected part with a generous dose of toothpaste and let it dry fully. Then wash thoroughly.

To peal the skin off sweet potatoes in a jiffy soak in cold water after boiling.

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Fillings for Sandwiches

Sweet fillings:

For sweet sandwiches the normal everyday fillings include butter, jam and marmalade [ all flavors]
You could try adding dry fruits like chopped dates, walnuts, grated badam and kismis to the sweet sandwiches to add nutritional value.
Honey makes a wonderful sandwich spread for those who want to cut out on sugar and would like to experiment.
For those of you who like fruits you can also try placing soft fruits like thinly sliced kiwi, lichis and strawberries after coating the slices with honey.
Run out of jam and your kid insists on having sandwiches? Your saviour could be Milkmaid. Just apply a good coating of milkmaid on to the slices and watch them being devoured.

Savory Filling

Sliced vegetables like tomato, cucumber, onion and grated carrot make for great sandwich fillings. Coat two slices of bread with butter, place a slice of cheese on one and cover with vegetables. Sprinkle with pepper powder and cover with the second slice.your veggie sandwich is ready to be consumed. Add salt if required only, since the cheese slice would have a good amount of salt.

Mayonnaise, mustard and cheese are other ingredients that are commonly used as sandwich spreads.

Indian Chutneys are a hot favorite as sandwich fillings. Spicy chutneys can serve as a good base to make the sandwiches flavorful and tasty.

Mint Chutney
Mint + green chillies + salt + lime juice ground together as a thick paste makes an excellent base.
Mint can be substituted with Coriander too.

Tomato Chutney:
Fry finely chopped onions till they are translucent. Add chopped tomatoes and a little bit of saunf and saute for a while. A garlic pod is optional and can be added to get he extra flavour.Add salt and chilli powder as per requirement. Cool and grind together into a fine paste without adding water and your filling is ready.

Potato Filling:
Boil and mash potatoes. Chop onions finely and fry till translucent. Add mashed potatoes, salt, garam masala powder and chilli powder and mix well. Garnish with finely chopped coriander. Take a slice of bread and coat it thinly with butter. Spread the potato mash on this and place the second slice covering this. Gently press and toast it. Or place on a hot tawa, add a blob of butter and turn it carefully around on low flame till becomes golden brown. Slice into pieces and serve hot with tomato sauce.

Onion fry:
Slice onions thinly lengthwise. Chop garlic finely. Heat oil add onion + garlic + salt + chilli powder and fry in low flame till the onions become golden brown and shrink in quantity. Need to ensure that the onions do not burn. Lightly butter bread slices and place this filling in between to get real spicy and differently tasting sandwiches.

Quick Fix filling:
Unacceptable as it may sound pickles at home make great fillers when you run short of regular spreads. Toast bread slices,coat them with a thin layer of butter and spread a nice layer of any pickle [ that is smooth without too many chunky pieces to it] on two slices. Press them together, dip in tomato sauce and bite into one of the yummiest sandwiches you have ever made.

Tips for Presentation:
Always coat the slices with a thin layer of butter and then spread your filling. This prevents the sandwiches from turning too soggy.
Always butter the sandwiches till the edges.
Always trim the crusts after the filling is done and before you cut it into required portions, squares or triangles.
Always ensure that the finished sandwiches are wrapped well to keep them fresh & prevent them from drying and crumbling.

Raw Mango Chutney

Ingredients:

Raw Mango – 1 cup grated
Green Chillies – 3
Grated Coconut – 1/2 cup
Ginger – a small piece
Mustard – 1 tsp
Urad Dal – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 1 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Curry leaves – a few
Roasted Cumin Powder – 1/2 tsp optional

Method:

Add grated mango, coconut, green chillies, salt and ginger and grind to a smooth paste.
Heat oil and add mustard. When it splutters add Urad dal and wait till turns brown.
Switch off the stove and add curry leaves.
Pour this over the chutney. Mix and serve.
Those who like the taste of roasted cumin powder may add it while grinding to a paste.

Tips:
Grated coconut can be replaced with onions and garlic to give a different taste.
Fry a few small onions in oil along with a few pods of garlic in a pan. Grind with rest of the ingredients as mentioned above.
Number of chillies to be added will vary according to your spice levels.

By: Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com

Kuzhi Paniyaaram

Kuzhi Paniyaaram is a round, fluffy, extremely tasty South Indian Snack made of idli / dosa batter.It can be made with left over batter or batter that has turned a bit too sour to make idli or dosa.. Loved by people of all ages, it is easy to make and can substitute as a starter or snack any time of the day.

Ingredients:

Dosa / Idli batter – 3 cups
Besan – 2 tlbs
Onions – 1/4 cup finely chopped
Green Chillies – 3 finely chopped
Ginger – 1 tsp finely chopped
Curry leaves – a few
Oil – To fry,
Appa kaaral or Paniyaara pan made of cast iron or non – stick ware


Method:

Mix all ingredients together to form an even batter . Add a little salt if required.
Place the paniyaara pan [ with 5 or 7 holes as the case may be] on the stove and heat it slightly.
Pour enough oil to fill the holes in the pan.
When the oil is hot spoon the batter into each hole.Keep the heat on low flame to allow even cooking.
When it starts browning turn carefully on to the other side and cook.
Remove with skewers when it golden brown on all sides.
Drain on tissue paper.
Serve hot with chutney or sauce.

Tips: ,
Besan is added only to thicken the batter. If the existing batter is of thick consistency besan can be avoided.
If the batter is of very thin consistency then the paniyaarams will absorb too much oil, which is not healthy.
A little bit of grated coconut and a pinch of asfoetida are optional ingredients.
If you are making it for kids and don’t want it to be spicy for them omit green chillies and ginger,

By Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com

Quick Fix Chutneys – Spicy Besan Chutney

Generally the term Chutney conjures up images of something ground to a paste to be served as a side dish or accompaniment to some main dish. This dish made of besan is extremely easy to make especially when you are loaded with guests without notice. Serves as a fantastic side dish for both Pooris and Chapatthis.

Ingredients:

Besan – 1 cup
Water – 3 cups
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Tomato – 1 small, finely chopped
Green chillies – 4 Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Mustard – 1 tsp
Urad Dal – 1 tsp
Chilli Powder – ½ tsp
Finely Chopped Ginger – 1 tlbsp
Oil – 2 tlbsp
Curry Leaves
Salt to taste
Half a lime

Method:

 In a pan heat oil and add Mustard seeds. When it splutters add urad dal & green chillies.Saute till the dal is brown.
 Add Onions & turmeric powder and fry till translucent.
 Add chopped tomatoes and sauté for a couple of minutes.
 Mix besan with water to form a smooth batter.
 Add the batter to the tomato + onion mix and mix with a ladle in low flame.
 Add Chilli powder and salt to taste. Stir continuously till it cooks well and the raw smell of besan disappears. Add some water if required.
 The batter with soon turn into a thick paste. Consistency should be like chutney where it can be scooped and placed on a plate.
 Remove from stove. Add lime juice and mix.
 Garnish with curry or coriander leaves.
 Serve it with hot pooris

Tips:
Depending the spice content in the green chillies you can add or reduce the quantity of Chilli powder. But ensure that it is spicy overall
The same with Lime juice. Add according to your taste

By Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com

TIPS FOR BETTER COOKING – PART – I

1.Add salt to water while cooking greens [Keerai] to help retain the color.

2.A few drops of lime added to rice while cooking helps in making it look brighter and White.

4.Having problems in cooking Tur Dal? At times we will find certain varieties of Tur dal requiring longer time to cook and we would discover this only after a couple of days of trial by which time it will be too late to return the dal to the store. Add a small piece of coconut to the dal and cook to see the difference.

5.Add a piece of ginger while cooking cabbage or cauliflower to avoid the strong aroma that it emanates normally.

6.While mixing dough for Pooris add sugar to get puffed Pooris that stay crisp for a while.

7.Adding a few pepper corns to oil will help in keeping it fresh for a longer duration.

8.Soaking / immersing Cauliflower in salt water half an hour before cooking [after removing the leaves and stem] will help in getting rid of small germs or worms.

9.Wash onions after peeling the skin off to avoid eye irritation and watering.

10.Idli or Dosa batter will not go sour if you add a few dry chillies to it.

Tips by Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com

The Madaras Kafe

Think Madras and you can’t help but think of Carnatic music and Kanjivaram sarees; Temples and Malli poo; hot Idlis and Filter Kaapi. The city that has transformed over the years – right from its name, now Chennai – to keep up with its more ‘Modern & Hep’ counterparts across the country, still retains its affiliation to tradition and culture. This is why it is still considered to be safe, cautious & balanced in its approach to and acceptance of western influences.

In terms of cuisine The Madaras Kafe, a new restaurant, is a perfect reflection of this mixed culture the city sports. Situated in the basement of the plush up market mall, Ispahani center, Idli Sambar gives way to newer versions – Fried Podi Idli [ mini idlis fried in oil and tossed in ‘Molaga Podi’ ] Gummang kuthu Idli [ mini idlis mixed in a spicy paste of tomato and onions] and more such remixed versions.

The menu has something for all. The ‘Urulai kucchi chips’ [French fries] for the light snacker; a smattering of milk shakes and sandwiches for a casual snack; the desi version of pizzas with Manchurian and pannier fillings for a feel good lunch.

For those with a sweet tooth you can choose between brownies with sauces or the traditional sweets like boli that are imaginatively and cleverly named to tempt you to try them.

The highlight perhaps is the filter Kaapi and the variety of ‘Chai’s they serve in traditional ‘dabara tumblers’. Be it the Masala Chai or the Inji Chai or the Masala milk the taste is excellent.

If you want to meet a friend and chit chat for a bit while you snack away in a quiet and nice ambiance The Madaras Kafe is the place for you.