Friday, 20 February 2015

Green Tea Summer cooler with Sweet Basil and Lemon

Summer is here. And so are the coolers. The temperature is already hovering around 30C in Bangalore and 'working from home' is not making it any easier to deal with the onset of summer. If I could, I would drink beer for lunch and dinner but I want my lungs to go on for at least 20 more years. That rules out the possibility of dousing the summer heat but there are always these coolers. Just a little quick thinking and innovation can bring to table a variety of coolers.

When I was in Varanasi  recently, I drank a green tea, mint cooler and quite liked it. I did not waste time to try it out at home as soon as I came back. I brewed some green tea and infused some herbs and made this cooler. I used the green tea leaves to make a pickle but that story can wait for another post!

Here is a very simple recipe of a green tea cooler. It is healthy, refreshing and a thirst quencher like no other. Again, if I could, I would use it to make cocktails by adding a dash of gin or vodka to it. I haven't tried that but you could. And let me know how that went.

Green Tea Cooler

Ingredients: (makes 4 glasses)
Green Tea - 2 bags
Water - 4 glasses
Lime - 1
Honey - 2 teaspoons
Sweet basil leaves - a bunch

Summer Cooler
Here is how you make it:

Boil water and brew green tea
Drain the tea leaves and refrigerate the brewed tea after it has cooled down sufficiently for a few hours and after adding the bunch of sweet basil leaves and squeezing the lemon
Take it out, pour it into serving glasses and enjoy!

Green Tea Cooler
Note: If sweet basil is hard to come by, just replace it with mint. You can also add / reduce the sweetness by stepping up / down honey.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Polenta Vegetable Squares with Chunky Tomato Sauce!

The first time we tried Polenta was when someone from the family brought a bag from overseas (actually, we asked that someone to get it for us). We loved the simplicity of it and the fact that it was easy to make (just like making upma). Though Indian supermarkets stock Polenta, it is essentially imported and can cost a mighty rupee.

However, we discovered that our neighborhood supermarket stocks something called corn sooji (semolina) and it is essentially the same thing. It is extremely inexpensive and after we stumbled upon it, we have used it in our cooking often. We have made corn breads and Polenta with it. And even added a spoonful or two in breakfast muffins. Also, you could scroll down or click to view a corn muffin recipe for a breakfast dish.

Polenta Squares with tomato sauce

Polenta Square as it comes out of the oven.

We found this recipe on The Kitchn (a site that we love and visit often) and figured our corn sooji would be perfect for this simple and quick recipe. As an addition, we made a chunky tomato that complemented the Polenta squares really well. The squares tend to lose their moisture and become somewhat dry as they sit and cool but pour a generous spoon of the tomato sauce and you will have the perfect dinner.

Polenta Squares with tomato sauce
You will need (serves 2 - 3)
1 cup of corn semolina (or Polenta flour if you will)
2 cups of milk
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tiny block of cheddar cheese (grated)
1 egg
3 - 4 shallots diced
2 garlic cloves
1 handful of chopped vegetables (we used Zucchini but you are welcome to use any vegetable that can be sauteed)
Salt and pepper according to taste
1 table spoon butter

This is how you make it

Grease your baking dish.
Sautee onion, garlic and the vegetables along with salt and pepper until soft. Let it cool.
In a fairly big bowl, whisk together egg, milk and olive oil.
Add grated cheese.
Add salt to Polenta, mix well and add it in the egg-milk-olive-oil mixture.
Stir in the vegetable mixture and pour it into the greased dish.
Bake it in the preheated oven at 180C until it passes the knife test (insert a sharp object and if it comes clean, it is cooked).

Polenta Squares

Click on this link and use the recipe for the tomato sauce.

After your baked Polenta is out of the oven, cool it a bit before cutting it into squares. Spoon your tomato sauce on top of the squares and serve warm.

Note: The original recipe calls for stirring during the baking process but I found it not necessary. Also, do not worry about the excess liquid in your polenta mixture, it will aid in the cooking and will evaporate soon enough in the oven.