Category Archives: breakfast
One of the biggest reasons for attending conferences is the priceless experience of meeting fellow bloggers and get an invaluable exposure to all things culinary. This includes vendors with new products to savor and get inspiration from.
I had no complaints about whatever appliances I had for making traditional Dosa (Traditional South Indian rice & lentil crepes) batter, a sturdy tabletop stone grinder that you could add the Urad dal, turn the timer on , and 30 minutes later, come back to a container full of fluffy, batter with the consistency of whipped egg whites. The
The cons of this is the cleaning up, of the various parts, the roller, the grinding bin, the multiple trays on which the rollers need to be placed while transferring the rice & lentil batter, the invariable drips of thick batter on the counter…. you get the point, It takes quite a bit of time.
I was pleasantly surprised when the appliance company, Ninja asked me if I’d like to try any of their appliances (the Ninja team at BlogHer Food ’13 were real stars in terms of the delicious food samples they made on site). I accepted their offer and picked the Mega Kitchen system. Unlike smaller passive gadgets such as scoops & knives, Electrical appliances cannot be verified with one successful try. I had to run the machine through multiple testing sessions before I could bring myself to vouch for it (even though , the delighted cook within me was already raving about the machine to anyone who listened).
In my opinion, Dosa batter is definitely one of the toughest tasks that any kitchen blending system can be tested with. First, soaked, hydrated rice turns to the consistency of concrete when blended and this puts quite some strain on the motor. The Urad lentils have a glutinous texture and grinding this to a smooth paste is non trivial, let alone eventually whipping the batter into a light airy texture.The aerating part seems to be tackled perfectly by the design if the blender has to survive for a number of years in a traditional Indian Kitchen. (we Indians lay a lot of emphasis & importance on the durability factor).
In Ninja’s blender jar, 6 blades (which can be removed for cleaning easily) stacked up over each other ensure that the lentils & rice are pulverized with out having to go through that whirlpool motion of the conventional models that draw the ingredient down. The Ninja system packs a punch in terms of power – 1500 watts of power.
The entire system consists of a Large blender jar (which I’ve been regularly using for making Dosa batter), a dough & food processor attachment, and a small single serve smoothie attachment which I find perfect for grinding masalas & dry spices such as the classic Milaga Podi (pictured above).
New York Times had published an article last year about pairing Dosas with Champagne, and of course, I simply HAD to test it for myself. The yummy (and pleasantly tipsy) brunch that followed the photography session verified NYTimes claim to a T, with the emphasis that it paired best with Dosas made with Ghee instead of sesame oil (as the regular day to day breakfast menu goes). While the recipe below describes the traditional way of dosais, I opted to make miniature versions of the dosas topped with a marble sized scoop of the Masala.
- 1.5 cups Jasmine rice
- 1/2 cup Spilt dehusked Urad Dal
- 1 teaspoon Salt.
- Melted ghee (for drizzling over the dosai) and Sesame oil (for brushing over the griddle)
- Rinse & soak the rice & lentils separately in plenty of water for about 2 hours (preferably overnight).
- Grind the rice to a thick paste in a blender. Transfer to a large container. Repeat with the lentil, taking care to add sufficient water while blending to obtain a batter which is somewhat fluffy in consistency. (like beaten egg whites). Combine the rice & the urad batters with the salt taking care to mix well using your hands (yeah , its messy, & the batter isn’t even worth licking!).
- Cover & place in the oven with the light switched on over night. Alternatively bloom a packet of yeast in warm water and add to the batter. Allow to rest for an hour. Mix well before making the dosai.
- Heat a cast iron griddle. Add a teaspoon of oil & wipe it using a paper towel. When the pan gets really hot, pour about 3 oz of the batter in the center & spread it around using the rounded side of the ladle. Drizzle with 1/2 a teaspoon of sesame oil. (the batter will bubble up leaving nooks & crannies on the surface. when the lower side begins to turn golden brown carefully flip the dosai over & cook till the other side turns a similar color. Serve with your choice of chutney, or jam, or even just a dollop of yogurt.
- For making dosais with the potato filling, spread the batter on the griddle & drizzle with the melted ghee. (Cover with a large lid & allow the top side to steam cook.). Remove the lid, and place a scoop (ice cream scoop ) of the potato masala in the center. Using the spatula, gently roll the dosai around the filling. (Like rolling a burrito, but without tucking the sides in, I guess like a cannoli). serve with your choice of chutney, or sambhar.
- 4 large idaho potatoes, boiled & peeled
- 1 large onion, quartered & thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
- 1 jalapeno, deseeded & finely chopped
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
- crumble the boiled & peeled potatoes. Set aside
- Heat the oil in a skillet, when it just begins to smoke, add the mustard & cumin seeds & allow to sputter. Add the curry leaves and the onion. saute till the onion turns translucent.
- Add the crumbled potatoes, salt and turmeric powder. Sprinkle with some water, stir, lower the heat, cover & cook till the flavors combine. remove from heat, add the lime juice.
The Ninja Mega Kitchen System is available online via their website , or Amazon.com ( Ninja Mega Kitchen System – Model BL771) or at any retailer in the United States or Canada.
A big Thank you to the folks, especially Sarah Knutson at Ninja Kitchen Systems for the opportunity to test this appliance!
This spicy & tangy relish is the flavoring behind the iconic Tamarind rice and many a South Indian emigre to the US of A and all over the world are guilty of smearing their toast with a dab of this umami laden relish. (I’ll post the recipe for the relish in an upcoming post, but its readily available in most Indian grocery stores).
|Spiced Tamarind & Shallot (r) & sauteed Leeks with Za’atar seasoning (l)|
Place the shaped dough on a parchment lined (or greased) baking tray leaving about 2 inches space between them. Place the caramelized onion filling in the depressions of each Bialy. Brush the outer dough circle with milk.
finely slice a cleaned leek (just the white and light green parts) and sautee until translucent in one tablespoon of olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons of Za’atar to the leeks and season with your preferred amount of salt. Allow to cool and fill the Bialy’s as per the recipe.
Bon Appetit!. & yes, this recipe is being Yeastspotted
Its not conventional to think of bread and associate it with any thing Japanese, after all Japanese cuisine is predominantly rice & fish based if you go with the conventional thought process. This may be the reason why this months baking project from +Aparna Balasubramanian came as a ultra pleasant surprise. The bread is known as Hokkaido Milk bread (disclaimer, Its been less than a month since I myself heard about the term) and it is by far the softest, fluffiest (feel free to add on your own choice of cute happy superlatives) bread I’ve ever had. The texture of Wonder bread minus the processed entrapped air!
The secret to this ethereal texture is the addition of a roux to prepare the dough. Referred to as ‘Tangzhong’, this cooked mixture of milk and flour confers the matchless texture. The secret here is to cook the flour and milk to 65 C at which point the gluten in the flour absorbs the liquid transforming into a gel like state that helps form a structure that holds up the shape of the bread). This ancient Japanese technique was popularized by Yvonne Chen through her book ’65 C Bread doctor’. The dough tends to be kind of sticky and hard to work with because of the added roux, so if you have access to a food processor or a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, just USE IT!
Apart from a traditional loaf, I also venture to try a filled bread, drawing inspiration from the iconic Bunny Chow of Durban, South Africa , the filling consisting of curried Puy Lentils. I’m just going to link to my recipe for curried lentils from an ancient post of mine for Curried lentil Crostatas.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I goofed up the recipe the second time around by completely forgetting to add the butter required in the recipe. Much to my relief, the bread was perfectly soft and edible the morning after even after being cut and left out.
Thanks Aparna for yet another superb pick of bread, here is the link to her original post of the Hokkaido Milk bread.
Hokkaido Milk bread (adapted from the recipe on Kirbies cravings)
For the Tangzhong:
1/3 cup All purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water.
Whisk the flour into the milk and water in a saucepan ensuring that there are no lumps. Heat the mixture on a gentle heat (using a thermometer to measure the critical temperature of 65 C). If you don’t have one, no worries, just keep whisking the mix on a low/medium heat until the roux begins to thicken. when the whisk leaves behind peaks in the roux and the consistency is like that off soft pudding, remove from the heat, cover and allow to cool completely (~ 2 hours).
For the Bread dough:
The dough is sufficient to make one loaf (using a 9×5 loaf tin) or 8 rolls in a muffin tin. Depending upon what you are making, butter and flour the surface of the respective baking pan.
Transfer the dough onto the working surface. you do not need any flour to help shape the bread. for the loaf, roll out the dough to a rectangle of about 9 inch wide and 15 inches long (approximations are fine). Fold into a rectangle of about 9 by 5 inches (as if you’re folding a letter) and roll out once again to stretch the width. Roll the dough along the length pressing the edges into the dough and pinching the sides.
Using a sharp knife, make diagonal slashes into the dough. Brush liberally with cream, cover with a plastic wrap and allow to proof for a second time for about an hour.
Bake in an oven (preheated to 325 F) for about 25 – 30 minutes until the top has browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
Allow to cool in the loaf pan for about 5-10 minutes before tapping it out onto a wire rack to cool.
For the curried rolls:
Divide the rolls into 8 approximately equal parts. Roll out a portion of the dough into a 6 inch circle. Spoon in 2 tablespoons of the curried lentils onto the center of the dough.
Fold the edges together & seal the the dough as shown above. place into a buttered and floured muffin tin and brush well with cream. Cover loosely with a plastic wrap and allow to proof for about 45 minutes.
Bake in a 325 F oven for about 20 minute until the tops appear to have a golden brown color. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the muffin tin before flipping them out to cool on a rack. Serve warm with a pat of fresh churned butter!
This bread is being yeastspotted!
December 25 is not really a day to spend in front of the laptop, trying to compose a post about a new recipe. This is a day to revel in the joy of watching the kids opening their presents and the jaw dropping realization of how quickly they're capable of trashing a room in minutes, but then again, my resolution is getting the better of me. As Indian style breads go, there is no dearth to what may be mixed into the dough and with each new ingredient , there is a different unique flavor profile.
Of all the countless New Year's resolution I've made over the past decades, I cannot really recall a single one that I've kept and seen through over the next 365 days. And when I started my other daily blog 'A Dish a Day' on a whim on Jan 1st 2012, I honestly never really expected to go past April (counting all the dishes I had whipped up for this blog and the numerous community picks that I've had the privilege of testing for Food52). This is not taking into account the inherent lethargy that I was sure , would make me skip days at my whim.
It was around this time 16 years ago that I had my most memorable swig of Amarula ever. I’d just obtained my F-1 Student visa from the American consulate at Cape Town. It was such a contrast to the marathon queue sessions at the Mumbai consulate. I breezed in, handed my papers and was asked to come and collect the passport 3 days later. That night, It was a well deserved break from my crazy thesis work that I was trying to race against time to complete. A shot of ice cold Amarula Liqueuer and being toasted by friends at the Medical Residence to the tune of Stings ‘I’m a legal alien’ playing on the radio (How perfectly apt was that, considering that I was headed to NYU a month later)
If there is one cream liqueur that I’m partial to over the others, its definitely Amarula. It fits the description of the stereotypical exotic liqueur and is made from the fruits of the wild Marula tree, which in itself is steeped in legends.
Maybe because it was the very first cream liqueur I had ever tasted.. or because Its etched in my memory as the harbinger of a new step into the future.. who knows?. I tried so hard to find some in New York in the nineties, but everywhere I asked, the reply was always “Oh you mean ‘Amaretto”? No , no & no..
Thankfully, times have changed and this superb cream liqueur is now easily available all over the North East. (although the bottles are much smaller than the ones from South Africa).
Using Amarula in a muffin wd probably not have popped up into my head if it had not been for a lovely surprise from Oxo. A new cherry pitter and a fabulous Ice cream scoop to test. I’d never tried any device for pitting cherries but this was pure love at first try. It was hard to put the tool down until the entire bowl of cherries had been pitted.
The tool is angled ever so slightly to ensure that it pushes out the pit perfectly and has a tiny cylindrical guard that protects against splatter.
This is a must have tool if you plan to use the fruits for baking. Which is exactly what I did. I’d been meaning to test Flax seed powder as a substitute for eggs, (there is a wonderful reference for how to do this on Chefinyou’s page. ) and this was the perfect opportunity. Except for the fact that I only had the sweet cherries on hand, rather than the tart variety, this was such a fabulous breakfast muffin (albeit a grown up one, considering there’s about 6 oz of liqueur).
Cherry Amarula Muffins (Makes about 16 – 18 muffins)
1.5 cups sugar
2 tbsp flaxmeal (finely powdered flax seeds)
6 tbsp warm water
3 tbsp baking powder
2 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup amarula liqueur
1 cup pitted chopped cherries, quartered
Sugar glaze (optional)
1/2 cup Icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Sliced almonds for garnishing
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper baking cups.
Sift the flour and baking powder.
Mix the flax meal with the warm water in a bowl. Mix well & set aside.
Combine the butter and sugar and cream until fluffy, using a handheld mixer. Gradually add the viscous flaxseed mixture keeping the mixer running. Gradually add the vanilla, cream and Amarula liqueur.
Add the flour along with the cherries in small installments and fold in till combined.
Spoon the batter into muffin tins lined with paper cups.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the tops have turned a golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Mix the icing sugar and the milk and stir until completely mixed. Drizzle or brush the mixture over the muffins and garnish with sliced almonds.
- 1 cup sabudana (sago) pearls
- 1/2 cup Beluga lentils
- 1.5 cups water
- 5 tablespoons olive, sesame or canola oil
- 2 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 2 Idaho potatoes diced
- 1 large onion, quartered and finely sliced (I prefer the white variety for this particular recipe, although the red ones work perfectly fine as well)
- 1/2 cup roasted, skinned & finely crushed peanuts
- 2 tablespoons finely diced fresh ginger
- 1 green chile finely chopped OR 1/2 a jalapeno (deseeded)
- 1 sprig curry leaves, torn to bits
- 1 pinch asafetida
- Salt to taste.
- 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala (or Goda Masala if you have it stocked up)
- 1/3 -1/2 cup chopped cilantro for garnishing.
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Rinse and pat dry the diced potatoes . Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a non stick skillet and add the potatoes. Allow to fry to a golden color, tossing them to evenly cook. remove onto kitchen towels & sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining oil, when it just starts to smoke, add the cumin and allow it to sputter & split. Add the curry leaves, ginger & green chili.
Stir to combine and then add the onions. Fry the onions until they turn translucent. Add the garam masala and salt. Mix well to combine. Add the Sago and the beluga lentils along with the potatoes & crushed peanuts. stir well to disperse all the ingredients evenly. Sprinkle water generously over the mixture, lower the heat and cover. Cook for about 7-10 minutes till the flavors combine well.
Once the pearls turn into translucent beads, drizzle with the lemon juice. Transfer the khichdi onto a serving dish, and garnish with the chopped cilantro. Serve warm.
Tuesday Sept. 20, Took off impulsively to Bobby Flay’s book signing event at Williams Sonoma in Short Hills NJ. These book signings in general, require a lot of pre planning: pre-ordering the book via phone, getting there 3 hours in advance & wait in a long serpentine queue. This time I struck it lucky, it definitely was well worth it. The scrumptious samples, highlighting recipes from the book, that the store prepares fresh & brings around.. ah well, scroll thru the pics & see for yourself before I hit you with this weeks recipe, adapted from Bobby Flay’s new book The Bar Americain Cookbook.
|Hot potato chips with blue cheese sauce|
|Pumpkin Soup with cranberry-maple creme fraiche and toasted pumpkin seeds|
|Deep dish chocolate cream pie|
|& the water that they kept serving everyone frequently, very thoughtful!|
Unlike Ina Gartens book which I’ve yet to open & even look through (maybe it had something to do with the impersonal signing session, (no personalization, no 30 second ‘one on one’ with the customer ) of the author, this is a book I’ve browsed through at least thrice, in as many days, and there is PLENTY of inspiration for an ovo-lacto vegetarian like moi!, & despite the high end, and possibly intimidating reputation of a revered dining establishment such as Bar Americain, the recipes are quite feasible for the average home cook. I guess the elegance lies in its simplicity! The photographs by Ben Fink are a feast for the eyes!
I had a tough time deciding on which recipe to pick on to ‘Panfusine’ with a basic level of respectability and the final choice was based on whatever I had on hand at home. It had to have chili peppers of course, in a nod to Bobby Flay’s celebration of this spice. A ‘to die for’ recipe for Black pepper buttermilk biscuits, with a generous dollop of traditional South Indian Tomato chutney. The recipe for the tomato relish can be found here. I had to halve the recipe, since there is no way I would let such a large amount go to waste (guess where it would go?.. yep, the waist! )
Tomato Buttermilk Biscuits (Adapted from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain cookbook)
2 cups All purpose flour (maida) plus extra for flouring
1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into cubes & chilled) + 2 tablespoons melted for brushing over the biscuits
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons chilled buttermilk
Heavy cream for brushing
1/2 cup Tomato relish with smoked jalapeno and arbol chile
Preheat the oven to 450 F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda & baking powder and sift to combine. Add the chilled cubes of butter & rub into the flour or cut using a pastry cutter, till the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
Combine the 1/2 cup of butter milk and the relish & mix well together to get a runny paste like consistency.
Add the tomato buttermilk mixture to the flour and mix enough to get all the ingredients to just come together. (if the mix is too dry, add the remaining buttermilk 1/2 tablespoon at a time)
|The white blobs?? Thats butter baby!|
Remove the dough onto a floured surface, using your hands pat the dough into a sheet about 3/4 of an inch thick. Using a 2 inch diameter cookie cutter, cut circles into the dough and place these on the baking sheet. Re form the remaining dough into a smaller sheet and repeat once more. ( the remaining scraps, just shape it up into the last misshapen piece & add it to any remaining space on the baking sheet, it tastes just as good!).
Brush the tops of the biscuits with the heavy cream.
slide into the oven to bake for about 12-15 minutes till the top is a nice golden brown (accommodating for the color of the tomatoes of course).
Brush with the melted butter and remove onto a wire rack to cool.
Serve warm with a pat of butter! (it tastes great even without any extra stuff on it!)
Sometimes, all you seek is good ol’ vanilla ice cream… or strawberry jam over toast.
My other half is convinced that I’m on the path to make my five year old into a chef… he already is a foodie with a sharp sense of taste and aroma. Last friday, he was a very happy boy when I made him this fabulous Feta, pine nut & mint pesto by coffeefoodwritergirl that was posted on Food52. with a little necessary tweaking , (the Pine nuts that I got were labeled ‘chilgoza’ from the Indian store, were probably harvested last century, they tasted quite old!, so) necessity being the mother of invention, and my teensy greed for a spectacularly green pesto, I made do with some handy pistachio.
& yes, my pepper grinder was nowhere to be seen either (I suspect, it will surface under the entertainment cabinet tomorrow, courtesy my 2 year old, who seems to be on a mission to transfer the entire contents of my kitchen to the ‘green pillow’ room (a.k.a the family room), So.. in went a half a spike of pickled green peppercorns fresh out of brine… (more of the color to satisfy my greed for green)
Less than the length of a Beyonce song later, I had this wonderful condiment:
Aah summer… one week into the 80 F weather & I’m already complaining about it! Having said that, the heat is simple one of the many many aspects of what characterizes summer. Summer is the time for vacations. Growing up in India, It meant making good on those railway reservations that fathers had made in early march, (I’m NOT getting into the inefficiencies of the Indian Railways in the 1970’s..), or if you were one of those privileged, yet solidly middle class kids like me..taking your chances on the ‘subject to load’ staff passes that Air India generously offered its employees.
For about 4 hours, you were pretty much pampered in luxury, beginning with the ‘maharaja’ lounges at the airports (accessible to managerial executives with business class privileges) where they’d start the feeding process with finger foods such as cream cheese sandwiches with chutney, tiny samosas & those delicious savory puff pastries..IF & ONLY IF there were empty seats on the flight, which was a 50/50 possibility given the heavy summer traffic. One had to take into account that you could be making multiple trips to the airport and even (thankfully remote) offloaded the airplane after you were buckled in, simply because a fare paying passenger had rushed in 2 minutes before the counter closed & had to be given an upgraded seat because economy was full!…I remember breathing sighs of relief only after the wheels lifted off! & then the feeding began…Elegant service using linen, real silverware & fine porcelain!
Believe it or not, airline food was something to look forward to in those days and still is relatively quite pleasant on most Indian carriers even today..quite unlike the horrendous ‘greyhound buses on wings’ that fly the skies here in the US of A. And yet, ‘ airline – bashing’ is a national pastime for a lot of people from India. The very same individuals would probably smilingly accept the worst non reclining seats (32 B, E or a higher number on a non wide body aircraft) seated next to an absolute ***(take your pick of your least favorite co-passengers in this category) for a cross country red eye & wouldn’t let out a peep, traveling on carriers from other countries (oh yeah… you know who you are!!)!
Back to food, there was almost a separate genre of food prepared for train travel. The basic specs for these were that it had to keep well for at least 2 days and had to taste the same or better yet improve with age. This category eliminated most cooked dals and semi liquid curries, relying instead on dry vegetables to be paired with deep fried breads (which remained moist through the journey) , or chutneys & ‘thuvaiyals’ (if you were of south Indian extraction) with rice well seasoned with sesame oil.
Fast forward a decade into the 21st century, as much as a number of us travel to India for vacations, we also have our parents traveling to the US to spend precious quality time with us. For the more traditional & vegetarian set, it often is a challenge to find suitable food while traveling to some of the beautiful destinations across the US. At times, even as one gives in to pure decadent junk food at Denny’s & IHOP, a tinge of guilt creeps in when you see your In-laws or (especially) your own parents, nibble on a piece of dry toast with country crock, and reluctantly force themselves to finish the side of hash brown you so enthusiastically ordered.. (“just add some pepper amma, its exactly the same as potato curry“), yeah right, and all the while they know for a fact that the griddle was frying a juicy strip of bacon just before their potatoes landed on it!
Its often at times like these that one wishes that some of the beloved staples such as muffins and biscuits could be ordered in Indian flavors (and eggless to boot) . I had been toying with prototypes for this idea for a couple of months now and a breakthough came about when Food52 posted this simple and elegant recipe for cheese biscuits. The original recipe calls for the use of a stand mixer (which I’ve yet to invest in), so tried to mimic the technique manually with good results.
It involves no eggs (except for the egg wash that gives the biscuit a shiny finish on top) which makes it perfect for a South Indian adaptation. The cheese in the biscuits is replaced by home made coriander ‘thuvaiyal’.
As we all know coriander, that Indian kitchen staple is the first to turn into a slushy slimy compost sitting in the fridge. The minute the leaf is blended into a chutney, it starts losing its vibrant green color unless an acid such as lime or tamarind is added. and even then, its probably the condiment with the shortest shelf life. To extend the shelf life, the leaves were sauteed prior to grinding to reduce the water content and then ground to a thick pesto along with toasted urad dal, mustard and tamarind (remember using citrus would be adding extra liquid, so that is out!)
For the Cilantro pesto (‘thuvaiyal’) you need:
3 cups cilantro leaves packed (the stems tend to be fibrous and does not lend well to the biscuit’s texture)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 tablespoons dehusked split urad dal
2 dried red arbol chiles, broken into pieces
Salt to taste
1/2 a pod of dried tamarind pulp or 1/2 -1 teaspoon tamarind extract
A pinch of asafetida.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add the mustard seeds and Urad dal. When the mustard seeds pop, add the dried chiles and asafetida. Stir till the urad dal turns a deep golden brown. Remove & transfer to the crinding jar of a blender. Allow to cool.
In the same skillet, add the remaining oil and add the cilantro leaves and allow to wilt completely (the leaves will turn a dark shade of green). Lower the heat & keep stirring the leaves around to prevent them from getting burnt (~ 3-4 minutes). Transfer to the blender jar. Add salt & process till you obtain a smooth paste.
Transfer to a glass storage container and allow to cool completely before sealing the container (to avoid condensation).
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 stick cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1/4 cup cilantro pesto
1 1/2 cup buttermilk.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Mix the flour salt and baking powder and chill the mixture in a fridge for about 30 minutes. Add the butter and cilantro pesto/thuvaiyal to the flour mix. Rub between your fingers to incorporate till there are tiny pea sized pieces of butter dispersed evenly in the flour. Add the buttermilk and mix till the dough just comes together.
Transfer to a floured board and knead gently with floured hands. Pat or gently roll to make the dough into a rough circle about 1/2 inch thick.
Cut into 3 inch (I used a 2 inch biscuit cutter) circles using a biscuit cutter. transfer to the lined baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes (turn the trays half way through the baking to ensure evenness.) till the tops are golden brown. (the finish will not be as glossy as in the recipe for cheese biscuits since there is no egg wash brushed over the biscuits). Remove from the oven & allow to cool. Serve warm with a pat of butter.