Upside-Down Cornmeal Muffins

Inspired by a post in Home Bakers Guild for a contest and my earlier browse through the blog  from Tadka Pasta I decided to bake this healthy muffin with tweaks to suit my need. The vibrant color from the tomatoes with chillies to contrast and flavored with bell pepper gives it an inviting appearence.

A wholesome and healthy breakfast of two of these muffins baked the previous day, warmed in micro on a particularly busy morning, is good to keep one going till lunch time. Egg substituted by flax seed powder as a binder makes it quite a healthy bake, and for those who are not fond of corn meal or find it difficult to procure it in the market, wheat grit  should serve as a good substitute. As  I used equal measures of corn meal and all purpose flour, the muffins were soft but quite spongy.

cornmeal muffin

Makes 8 large muffins

Ingredients

To line the bottom of the muffin cups 

Finely diced tomatoes  1 cup (2 large tomatoes should work. Ensure they are firm)

Finely diced large green chilies (deseeded)  1 tsp

Dry mix

Corn meal 1 cup

All purpose flour 1 cup

Salt 1 tsp

Red chill powder 1 tsp

Baking powder  1½ tsp

Baking soda ½ tsp

Cumin powder 1 tsp

Black pepper powder ½ tsp (optional)

For the wet mix

Yogurt 1 cup

Cheddar cheese ½ cup

Melted butter  3 tbsp (app ¼ cup)

Fresh Corn kernels  ½ cup (frozen corn can also be thawed and used)

Diced green bell pepper ¼ cup

Flax seed powder in water  1½ tbsp

Water or milk ¼ cup

Method

  • Take the flax seed powder in a in a small bowl or cup and add 3 table spoons of water. Whisk well with a spoon or fork till it starts thickening. Leave the mix in the fridge for cooling for 15 minutes to 30 minutes. This process helps in giving a moist texture to the muffins.
  • Grease the cups of the muffin pan and line them with the diced tomatoes and chilli and keep them ready.
  • Set the oven at 180°C and preheat  for 10 minutes to reach the baking temperature.
  • Transfer the dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix well with a spatula.
  • Take the ingredients mentioned under wet mix in another bowl except the corn and bell pepper. Add the flax mix from the fridge and whisk to get a smooth paste. Pour the mix into the bowl with dry ingredients and fold in gently. Add the corn and bell pepper and fold into the batter.
  • Ladle out the batter into the muffin cups up to two-thirds level and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Do a tooth-pick to ensure it is baked well. Leave in the oven for anther  5 minutes to rest.

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  • Detach the muffins from the tray with a thin wooden spatula (ice cream stick ideal)  and invert on a wire tray to cool down.
  • Eat hot or store in an airtight box for breakfast 🙂

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Chef’s Note

  • If you do not like the granular texture (actually it gives a lovely feel) you can make the corn grit less coarse by blitzing for a few seconds.
  • Ensure that you remove the muffins from the pan before it cools down totally to avoid the tomatoes from getting moist and soggy.
  • You can substitute corn kernels with fresh green peas for variation in taste.
  • Adding fresh coriander leaves will add loads of flavor.  For those who like a bit of experiment try flavoring with kasuri methi!
  • If you like it as bread loaf bake in a bread loaf tin and enjoy!

Amla Chutney

Amla chutney

Gooseberries everywhere and it is difficult not to drool thinking of amla chutney, murabba or pickles such as neer nellikkai or nellikkai thokku.  Chutney can also be the green chutney that is used only when fresh: made with green chilies and ginger being key ingredients to go with amla. The chutney posted here can be preserved  like chunda and stored for months and used as  a spread on bread, side dish for paranthas, or even for dosai.

Ingredients

Amla 400 g (about 15 berries — gives pulp of 1½ cups)

Sugar 1½ cups

Cayenne pepper powder 1 tsp

Black salt powder ½ tsp

Salt 1 tsp

Roasted cumin powder 1 tsp (roast cumin seeds and powder)

Method

  • Wash the berries in running water well and place them in a bowl and blanch them by  pressure cooking for one whistle. Let the berries cool to room temperature and splice them as shown in the picture to remove the seeds from the pods.
Blanched amla
Blanched amla

This can be done by placing the berry on a plate and pressing the berry with the palm.

  • Transfer the pods to a blender and blitz for a minute to get a coarse pulp.
  • Place a heavy-bottomed pan or a non-stick pan on the stove and transfer the pulp into the pan. Add all the ingredients mentioned earlier to the pan and stir the mix on a medium flame till the mix thickens after the sugar melts.
  • Once the mix starts leaving the sides of the pan switch off the flame and let the mix cool.
Amla chutney
Amla chutney
  • Transfer the cooled chutney to sterilized bottle and store in a cool place. Shelf-life up to 3 months or more.

Chef’s note

If you like it a bit spicy  a pinch of cinnamon powder and  crushed cloves added to the mix will be good. Those who love fennel flavor can add half a spoon of fennel powder for flavor.

Paruppu podi (Spiced lentil powder)

 

Paruppu podi, a  roasted and spiced lentil powder is a common accompaniment with hot rice laced with ghee in many South Indian households even today. A handy powder has its variations with different states. The Andhrites love it with garlic whereas the Karnataka folks use desiccated coconut in the powder. A typical Tamilian household uses arahar dal, red chillies, and peppercorns in the powder. I make mine with roasted Bengal gram and cumin added to the basic ingredients.  Often dry roasted curry leaves are also added in th spice.

Ingredients

Arahar dal 1 cup

Roasted gram  (Pottu kadalai)  ½ cup

Dried Red Chilli  6

Pepper corn ½ tsp

Cumin seeds ½ tsp

Asafotida 1 pinch

Salt 1 tsp

Method

  • On a low flame, in a heavy-bottomed wok dry roast the chilies. As it starts giving the aroma add the pepper corns and cumin seeds and keep roasting by stirring with a wooden spatula till cumin releases aroma. Transfer to a platter.
  • In the same wok dry roast arahar dal and as  the color changes to golden brown add asafotida and roast for for 30 seconds.  Transfer to the platter containing the other ingredients.
  • After switching off the flame, dry heat the salt in the remaining heat of the wok and add to the platter.
  • .Transfer the ingredients to a blender and blitz till you get a coarse powder. Add the pottu kadali to the mix in t he blender and blitz to a fine powder.
  • Transfer and store the powder in an airtight container.
  • Has shelf-life for at least a month.

Chef’s note:

You can add a different taste by taking equal amounts of moong dal and arahar dal instead of plain arahar dal.