Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sheekh Kebabs

Kebabs were not my specialty and I kept trying different recipes each time I made them but was never ever happy with the outcome.

 The kind of flavour and taste that came to my mind did not in any way match the recipes I found.   The rich taste of the ground meat should be in perfect harmony with the spice bland, the subtle flavour of the whole spices playing in the background with nothing overpowering anything.  All the recipes I came across used raw eggs for binding. Of all the things I hate the smell of raw eggs in cooking. Kebabs actually don't need any binding as long as the meat and fat ratio percentage is right. Then comes the technique of cooking which plays an important role in the taste, texture and flavour. I tried my best to incorporate everything. And at last they turned out exactly as I had imagined them.  Thanks to the Almighty, these kebabs were so flavourful that I couldn't believe that these were the best kebabs I ever made!




Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
Lean ground beef - 1 kg (80% beef + 20% fat)
Onions - 1 large sliced, 1 medium chopped.
Green chilies- 4-6 (deseeded)
Ginger garlic paste -  1 tbs
Cloves -  6
Green Cardamoms - 6
Black Cardamom -1
Roasted cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon bark - 2 x 2 inch sticks
Veg oil - 3  - 4 tbs
Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder -  1/2 tsp
Fresh mint leaves - 1/4 cup chopped
Fresh cilantro - 1/4 cup chopped

1. Rinse the ground beef under the tap in a strainer quickly and let the water drain. 
2. Slice the large onion and deep fry till golden and crispy. Do not let them darken as they would taste like coal. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
3. When the onions cool down add the whole spices and grind them. 
4. Chop the medium sized onion, green chilies, mint and cilantro separately. 
5. Heat one tsp oil and add the ginger garlic paste, red chilly powder and turmeric. Stir a bit till the raw smell goes and remove. and finely chopped green chilies, chopped mint and cilantro to the hot pan. Keep aside.  
6. Sprinkle 1 tsp salt on the ground beef, mix well. Add the ground brown onion mixture, fried masala, chopped onion, green chilies, mint and cilantro and mix everything well.  Allow to marinate for at least a couple of hrs.
 7. Oil the metal skewers. Take a small ball of the ground beef mixture and with clean wet hands shape it into a kebab on the flat metal skewers till it holds together. Repeat with the rest of the meat. 
8. Grill them on a hot barbeque until just done. They should be soft tender and juicy. Do not over cook. Enjoy with yogurt mint chutney.

Bitter gourd masala



Ingredients: 

Bitter gourds - 3 - 4 or 2 cups sliced
Onions sliced - 1 cup or 1 large
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Dried red chilies - 2 small
Green chilies - 2 small
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
Red Chilly powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Brown sugar - 1/2 tsp
Vegetable oil - 2 tbs
Cilantro - 2 tbs

Method: 

1. Scrape the bitter gourds lightly, wash and soak them in salt water for at least 1/2 an hour. 

2. Rinse them again, scoop out the seeds and cut them into thin rings. Put them in a sauce pan with a little water and steam them till they change color and soften a bit. Remove and allow to cool.

3. In another sauce pan, heat the vegetable oil. When it fumes add the mustard seeds, dried whole red chilies, slit green chilies and curry leaves followed by the sliced onions.

4. Fry till the onions turn soft and lightly golden. Add the ginger garlic paste, turmeric and cumin. Add red chilly powder only if you want it spicy. I don't like to add more heat to the dish as I feel the heat from the red and green chilies is good enough to enjoy it.

5.  Add the steamed bitter gourd to the onion masala, turn over and mix gently. Sprinkle some salt and lemon juice and stir well to coat the bitter gourd with the masala. 

6. Lastly add the brown sugar, sprinkle a little water, mix well again, garnish with some chopped cilantro and serve hot with chappatis or rice.

Tips

1. The bitter gourd is soaked in salty water to remove the bitterness. But it has to be rinsed well before slicing into pieces. 
2. Do not throw away the juices left after steaming the bitter gourd. Add it to the masala with the gourd and it will dry up soon. 

Butter Chicken, My Style!


The origins of Murgh Makhani or Butter Chicken can be traced back to a man named Kundan Lal Gujral who opened a restaurant called Moti Mahal in Daryaganj, Old Delhi after fleeing from Peshawar in Pakistan during the partition in 1947. This is the man who first created the famous Tandoori chicken by trying to cook chicken in the tandoor (locally used for baking naans) and placed India on the culinary map of the world. Then came his next creation – the mouth watering butter chicken. It so happened that the cooks in his restaurant recycled the left over chicken juices in the marinade trays by adding tomatoes and butter and cooking it to make a creamy sauce and then tossing the left over tandoori chicken pieces in this sauce. Lo and behold,the butter chicken was born! Legend has it that the butter chicken was accidentally created by a punjabi house wife who had lot of left over tandoori chicken, so she prepared a tomato based gravy with fresh cream and added the tandoori chicken pieces to it and simmered for a while. The result was the great butter chicken which we enjoy to this day. Now if we connect this legend with history, who knows this punjabi woman could have been Gujral’s wife too. Kundan Lal Gujral is still remembered as one who would personally serve his guests, while his wife would begin each day by grinding the masalas, a closely guarded secret that went into the signature dishes. Visiting dignitaries such as John F. Kennedy, Soviet Premier Kruschev, Shah of Iran have enjoyed eating at the Moti Mahal restaurant in New Delhi.

My style of butter chicken evolved after trying and testing with different proportions and variations of ingredients. I prefer using whole spices as they give a subtle dimension of flavor to the dish compared to ground spices which lose their flavour quickly. It is better to use chopped tomatoes and soften them in the butter instead of using tomato puree for the richness in taste. Also it is true, as one great chef puts it, that”tomatoes lose their colour and tartness when pureed”. The method and ingredients described in the recipe below if followed exactly brings out the taste and flavor very close to the original dish as made in some of the famous restaurants in New Delhi where I have dined.

Butter chicken can be made with whole chicken or chicken breasts that is with or without bones though the original butter chicken when first created by Chef Gujral was made with whole tandoori chicken pieces.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

For the marinade:
1.5 kg Whole chicken (cut into 12 pieces at the joints)
1/2 Cup Hung Yogurt
 4 Tbs Desi tandoori masala
1 Tbs Vegetable oil
1 Tsp Red chilly powder (Kashmiri mirch or resham patti)
Salt to taste
2 Tbs Lemon juice

For the butter sauce:
1 cup  Whipping cream
1 Tsp Fresh garlic chopped
1/2 cup Ginger juliennes
1 Tbs Kasoori Methi
1/2 Cup Diced onion
2 - 4 Slit green chilies deseeded
2 Black cardamom
2 Bay leaves
4 Cloves
1Tsp Fennel seeds
1/2 Tsp Cumin seeds
1/4 Tsp Mace (crushed)
1/2 Tsp Black pepper corns (whole)
1 large fresh ripe deseeded plum tomato (chopped) + 2 tsp tomato paste
2 Tbs Butter(substitute with 2 tbs olive oil if you are health conscious)

Method:

1. Clean, wash and drain the chicken pieces. Rub with salt and lemon juice and keep aside for 15 minutes.

2. Mix together  hung yoghurt, tandoori masala, chilly powder, salt and 1 tbs vegetable oil. Rub the chicken pieces well with this marinade and leave for 3 - 4 hrs in the fridge.

3. Bake the chicken in a preheated oven set at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 mins. Remove and allow it to cool. 

4. Meanwhile prepare the butter sauce. Take a sauce pan, set it on medium heat. Add 2 tbs butter and before it melts completely add all the whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, fennel seeds, mace and lastly bay leaf) stir for 2 to 3 seconds and when you get a whiff of the aroma add the slit green chilies and chopped garlic followed immediately by diced onions. Stir for sometime, then add the chopped tomato plus 2 tsp tomato paste.


5. Cook on medium while stirring continuously till it blends in. Pour in 1/2 a cup of the whipping cream, give a quick stir and then add the chicken with all its juices to the sauce. Mix well, cover with a lid and let it simmer for 5 - 10 mins till it is nicely cooked and thickens a bit. (If you are health conscious then cook the chicken in 1/2 a cup of skimmed milk instead of the cream). 


6. Now drizzle the remaining cream on top of the chicken. Give the sauce pan a gentle shake and let it simmer for just 2 to 3 mins. Garnish with the ginger juliennes and serve hot with Naan or Basumati rice. 


 


Tips:
1. If you do not find Desi tandoori masala, you can try Minar or Kissan brands. Any other store bought tandoori masala would not be a good substitute. The best thing would be to use this home made tandoori masala paste for the marinade : 1/2 a cup of hung sour yogurt, 2 tsp of ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp of coriander powder, 1/2 tsp of cumin powder, 1tsp garam masala powder and food colouring for marinating one whole chicken.

2. To give the tandoori chicken a barbecue flavor, smoke the chicken soon after baking. Take a piece of charcoal, light it and put it in a small tin foil cup (shape the tinfoil into a cup to hold the charcoal). Switch off the oven. Place the tin foil cup with the burning charcoal in between the chicken pieces, then add a blob of butter or ghee to it. When it starts smoking, cover the baking pan with its lid or foil and leave it to smoke for 5 mins in the oven. This gives a smoky barbecue flavor to the chicken.

3. If you want to cut down on the cream and butter, use skimmed milk and olive oil instead. But you will have to compromise on the taste. Butter chicken is not butter chicken without butter and cream.


4. As an alternative to brown sugar you could add a bit of tomato ketchup as a finishing touch in order to enhance the taste. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Avocado Mango Salad















Ingredients:
Ripe Avocados - 2
Ripe Mangoes - 1
Hot pickled peppers - a few 

For the dressing:

Lemon juice = 2 tbs
Salt to taste 
Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Olive oil - 1 tbs
Dijon Mustard - 1/2 tsp

Method:  

1. Peel, remove the stone and cut the avocado into cubes.
2. Peel, wash and cut the mango into cubes too.
3. Add coarsely chopped pickled peppers.
4. Prepare the dressing by whisking together all the dressing ingredients. 
5. Sprinkle dressing on the avocado mango pieces.
6. Toss gently with two forks and serve. 





The White Biryani

Ever imagined eating a biryani and not feeling heavy? The White biryani does the trick. It is less oily, less hot and less spicy, but full of flavour and very tasty. Ever since I created the white chicken, I have been wanting to create this dish for so long and had been imagining it all the time. Thanks to the Almighty it turned out to be as tasty as I had imagined it to be.  The chicken pieces were soft, silky,  flavourful and juicy and the biryani had a subtle exotic flavour and intense taste.
My favourite dish is our traditional Madrasi biryani. There are different kinds of biryanis all over the world. But I am proud to say and challenge that none can beat our traditional madrasi biryani not even the white biryani which is my own creation. I will be posting that soon.
Ingredients:
Whole chickens – 2 (1.5kgs each)
Long grain Basumati Rice-6 cups
For the marinade:
Thick Yoghurt – 1 full cup
Ginger garlic paste – 1/4 cup
Dhania powder – 2 tspns
Cumin powder – 1 tspn
Fennel powder – 1/2 tspn
Green cardamom powder – 1 1/2 tspns
Green chillies – 4 -6 small size
Vegetable oil – 1/4 cup
For the sauce:
Cinnamon bark (dark brown) – 1 (3 inch piece)
Cloves – 8 – 10
Green cardamoms 10
Star anise – 1-2
Vegetable oil – 1/2cup
Blanched Almonds – 1/2 cup
Fried onion paste – 1 cup (made with 2 medium sized onions)
1 small to medium sized onion sliced.
Cilantro – 1 cup chopped
Mint – 1 bunch (pepper mint only)
Saffron -1/2 tsp
Whole green chillies – 6 – 8 small size
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Half and half milk – 1 cup
Top quality Basumati Rice for biryani – 6 cups
Lemon- 1
Yoghurt – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Method:
1. Remove the skin, clean, wash and drain the chicken. Wipe it dry with paper towels. Rub the chicken with the lime juice and salt, keep aside for 15 mins.
2. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and stir well till it becomes a thick paste. Combine everything well adding appropriate salt.
3. Rub the chicken with this marinade and set aside for a couple of hrs.
4. Broil the marinated chicken pieces for 4-6 mins on each side. Remove and set aside.
5. Lightly fry the blanched almonds separately in a tspn of butter. Grind them in a wet grinder to a fine paste and keep aside.
6.  To prepare the sauce, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a big pot add the whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, star anise and cardamom)  then fry the sliced onion on medium heat till it becomes translucent and not golden brown as in the other biryanis. Remember always that we are making white biryani here and we don’t want it to be brown in any way, therefore enough care is to be taken not to overdo anything.
7. Once the onions turn translucent, stir in the fried onion paste and ginger garlic paste followed by the yoghurt and ground almonds. Fry lightly till the onions blend well with the paste.
8. Add the broiled chicken pieces to the  pot, mix gently. Add green chillies, mint, chopped coriander  and let it simmer for a while. Add a little water if it is too thick.
9. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the basumati rice which has been pre-soaked for atleast 1/2 an hr and 2 tblspns salt.
10. Test the rice for doneness by pressing a grain of rice between your index finger and thumb. It should be soft on the outside and still gritty inside. At this stage switch off the stove and drain the rice.
11. Transfer the cooked chicken with the gravy to the roaster. Top it with chopped coriander, sprinkle 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and adjust the salt after tasting the curry.
12. Put the roaster in a pre-heated oven (at 375 degrees Fahrenheit) and let it simmer for a while. do not close the lid yet.
13. Now transfer the hot cooked rice to the roaster.
14. Crush the saffron threads with a mortar and pestle. Add some water mix well and pour it in a cup. Add a tbsp of butter to it. Take a ladle of rice and mix it with the saffron butter water.
15. Sprinkle the top of the roaster with the saffron rice, mint leaves and 1/2- 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro and put it back in the oven for 10-15 mins.
16. Remove from the oven when you smell the aroma of the biryani around. The white Biryani is now ready. Serve hot with yoghurt chutney and kachumbar. Enjoy!

Egg Plant Bun Sandwich


Those who are not fond of egg plant would love this sandwich for sure. It can be packed for lunch to school or work place. So quick and easy to make and so healthy and nutritious!


Ingredients:
Egg Plant large - 1
Buns                 - 1
Dijon Mustard  - 1 tsp
Cream Cheese   - 2 tbsp
Green Olives     -  2-4
Pickled Dill       -  1 tsp chopped
Pickled Peppers  -  1- 2 rings chopped
Olive Oil             - 2 tbs
Salt and Pepper to sprinkle on the egg plant.


Method:
1. Wash, wipe dry and cut the egg plant into slices.
2. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, brush with olive oil and bake in the oven till golden brown at 400 degrees fahrenheit for around 10 -15 mins.
3. Mix together cream cheese and dijon mustard then add the chopped olives, pickled peppers and dill. You may add some chopped parsely or cilantro if you want. Mix well and keep aside.
4. Toast the two halves of the bun and spread the prepared cream cheese dijon mixture on the insides of the bun halves.
5. Place the baked egg plant slices on top of the bottom bun half spread with cream cheese mix, then drizzle some ketchup and/or chilly sauce on them,  top with the other half of the bun which is also spread with cream cheese mix and enjoy your yummy healthy and nutritious bun sandwich.

Red chilli garlic chicken roast


This is a lighter version of the traditional zafrani chicken. Those who do not want the saffron flavour and the spicy taste can go for this chicken roast which is a equally good yet different in flavour and taste.
Ingredients:
Dried red long chillies – 4 – 6
Garlic cloves – 4 medium size
Cumin whole – 1 tspn
Black pepper – 1/2 tspn
Salt to taste
Method:
1.Clean a whole chicken, drain and towel dry. Rub it with a little salt(1/4 tspn) and set aside.
2. Grind the dried red chillies, garlic cloves, cumin and black pepper to a slightly coarse paste.
3. Make slits in the chicken here and there. Rub the chicken with the ground paste, put it in a roasting pan, leave to marinate for 15 mins.
4. Add  1 cup of water to the roasting pan and bake in a pre-heated oven with the lid tightly closed for 1 hr at 325 degrees fahrenheit.
5. Now change the setting to convection roast, set the temperature at 375 degrees and roast uncovered for 20 – 30 mins basting with the juices every now and then to keep it moist. Don’t worry if you do not  have a convection oven, it is enough if you just change the temperature.  Half way through the cooking you may turn the chicken over gently to make it golden brown on both the sides. At this stage the chicken just comes off the bone and is so juicy and flavourful.
6. Remove chicken gently from the roasting pan and put it on the serving platter. Pour some of the remaining juices on the chicken and serve hot with basumati rice. Enjoy!


Tips:
 For a tangy taste you could add 1 tbs of sun-dried tomatoes to the above ingredients before grinding them to a paste and rub the chicken with salt and 1 tbs of lemon juice.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Roasted red bell pepper and peanut chutney.

Ingredients:
Red Bell Pepper - 1
Peanuts - 1/2 cup
Dried red chillies - 3 - 4 long
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Vegetable oil - 1 tsp
Garlic clove - 1 large
Curry leaves - 6-8
Tamarind (seedless) - a marble sized round

For tempering:
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Dried red chillies - 1 or two small ones
Curry leaves - 4-5
Urad dal - 1/4 tsp
Vegetable oil - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch ( optional)

Method: 
1. Roast the red bell pepper on a pan in the oven.
2. Heat a tsp of oil in a sauce pan. Roast the peanuts, cumin seeds and dry red chillies together. Then add the diced onions, stirfry for sometime before adding the tomatoes and curry leaves. 
3. Grind everything together coarsely with the tamarind. 
4. Peel the roasted pepper, remove and discard the seeds inside and lastly add it  to the ground ingredients and pulse 2 or 3 times till  it is well blended.  
4. Remove the chutney in a serving bowl.
5. Now for tempering, heat a tsp of  vegetable oil, add mustard seeds and when they splutter add dried red chillies, urad dal, curry leaves and lastly asafoetida. 
6. Quickly pour this on top of the ground chutney in the serving bowl. Enjoy with idli, dosa, vada or any finger snacks.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Black Rice Porridge


I had this porridge for my breakfast this morning instead of oats. I made it with the left over cooked black rice that I had in the fridge. It tasted nutty and delicious and I enjoyed eating it and wished there was more.... 

The health benefits of Black rice are amazing. It is a naturally gluten free grain, a super food that can keep you healthy. You will be surprised to know that it is packed with 18 amino acids and loaded with vitamins (a good source of vitamin B and E), minerals, is rich in iron and full of antioxidants. A spoonful of black rice has more antioxidants than a spoonful of blue berries. It is called a super food because of its high nutritive content and is known to prevent major diseases like cancer, Alzeimer's, diabetes, and lowers the risk of heart attack, also helps reduce levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). Studies show that Black rice contains a large amount of anthocyanin, an ingredient capable of controlling cholestrol levels than any other supplement available today. Read more about black rice on http://www.blackrice.com. 

I had also posted a black rice recipe earlier and it was a black rice salad. You can view the recipe here: http://www.mamasecretrecipes.blogspot.ca/2011/09/black-rice-salad.html

For best results in cooking Black rice, it has to be soaked overnight. Otherwise it takes longer to cook. It is better to cook it in the water it has been soaking in as its nutrients would be lost. 


Ingredients: 

1 Cup Black rice 
1.5 litres (6 cups) of Water 
1 Small Sliced Onion 
1Tsp Butter / Olive oil
1/4 Tsp Ginger garlic paste 
1/2 Tbs Salt
1 Tsp Chopped Cilantro 


Method: 

1. Wash the rice 2 or 3 times and soak it in water overnight. There should be at least 2 inches of water above the rice.

2. Bring to boil 1.5 litres of water in a pot. Add the black rice and 1/2 tbs of salt. 

3. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Stir one or two times just to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. 

4. Check to see if the rice is soft  and cooked, but not mushy.  If not, then add a little more water and simmer for some more time. 

5. To a sauce pan on medium heat add the butter or olive oil and fry the sliced onion till soft and golden. 

6. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry with the onions.

7. To this add the cooked black rice and 1 cup of water. Let it simmer till the water evaporates and starts thickening. When it attains porridge consistency, remove from heat. 

8. Garnish with a little chopped cilantro and serve warm. Good as a breakfast cereal. Very tasty and delicious.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Egg Salad


Ingredients:
Spring Mix - 1 cup
Boiled eggs - 2 sliced
Black and Green olives - 2 each crushed 
Tomatoes - 1 diced
Mushrooms sliced - 2 lightly fried in olive oil. 

For the Dressing:
Lemon juice - 2 tbs
Olive oil1 tbs
Salt to taste
Pepper - 1/2 tap
Dijon mustard - 1/4 tsp

Method:
1. Prepare the dressing by mixing together all the dressing ingredients and whisking them well. 
2. Add 3/4th of the dressing to the spring mix after adding sliced fried mushrooms, olives, and diced tomatoes. Toss and mix well.
3. Layer the salad mix on a serving plate. Top with sliced boiled eggs.
4. Drizzle the remaining dressing on the eggs and enjoy. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pudina (Mint) Chutney Curry

This is one of my favorite curries that my mom used to make with plain boiled or palao rice. She would make it quite often but we never got tired of it and always enjoyed it very much. I know I can never make it as good as her but I have tried my best. Here's the recipe:




Ingredients:
Fresh Mint: 1 cup
Fresh Cilantro - 1/2 a cup
Green chillies - 4 (medium size)
Garlic cloves - 4 (medium size)
Tamarind - small ball (the size of a small lime)
 Dried red chillies - 3 - 4 small
Mustard seeds   - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Sliced onion - 1 large
Vegetable oil -  2tbs
Salt to taste

Method: 
1. Rinse the mint and cilantro leaves, green chillies, garlic and tamarind, drain and put everything in the grinder and grind to a slightly coarse paste.
2. Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Add dried red chillies and  mustard seeds.  When they begin to crackle add the onion slices and curry leaves.
3. Stir fry the onions till they turn translucent. At this stage add the ground chutney to the fried onions etc in the sauce pan. Give it a stir, adjust the salt. Your mouth watering mint chutney curry is ready. Enjoy!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Eggplant Chutney or Bagare Baingan
























Ingredients:

10-12 Egg plants (medium size)
2 tsp Cumin seeds
1tsp Methi (fenugreek) seeds
1/4 cup Peanuts
1 tbs Sesame seeds
1 tbs Poppy seeds
4-6  Dried red chillies (long ones)
10 Fresh Curry leaves
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 cup Vegetable oil + more for deep frying (1 cup)
1 tbs Tamarind dried
4 Green chillies
1 Onion (medium size)
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp Brown sugar
1 tbs White Vinegar
1/2 tsp Roasted Cumin and fenugreek powder

























Method:

1. Trim the crowns of the whole Indian egg plants. Rinse them in cold water, cut from the bottom into quarters just up to the crown so that the whole egg plants is intact at the crown and opens into quarters only from the bottom. Drain, towel dry and keep aside.
























2. Heat vegetable oil in a dutch oven or thick bottomed pot and deep fry them till they are crisp and shiny on the outside and soft and lightly browned on the inside. They look so yummy, you would want to eat them right away. Drain and set aside.

3. Dry roast lightly the peanuts, sesame seeds, poppy seed, cumin seeds and methi seeds separately, let them cool down completely then pulse them together coarsely. To this dd 4 tbs of water or a little more and grind to a paste. Do not grind the roasted seeds when they are still hot as all the flavour will be lost because of the heat.

4. Heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a pot or wok. Add mustard seeds and when they crackle add the dried red chillies and curry leaves followed by the onion paste. Fry it a little on medium heat till the water evaporates, then add the garlic paste and the ground masala from step 3.

























5. Fry the masala in the oil, adding a little (1-2 tbs) water if too dry. Now add the fried egg plant to the pot, sprinkle 1 tsp salt and mix well with the ground masala gently by turning over the egg plants slowly from the bottom of the pot one by one taking enough care not to break them. Toss in the whole green chillies after removing their stems. Leave the egg plants on simmer to cook and soften a bit while you prepare the tamarind juice. Take care not to let them turn mushy. 

6. Soak the tamarind in a little water then squeeze it with your fingers to extract the juice. Strain the juice into the pot over the egg plants. With your oven mitts or gloves hold the pot on the sides and slowly swirl to mix the tamarind juice with the egg plant masala.

7. Now add 1 tbs vinegar, then taste and adjust the salt till it reaches the bliss point. Then sprinkle a tsp of brown or cane sugar and let it simmer for a while till the oil comes on top.

8. As a finishing touch sprinkle a pinch of roasted cumin and fenugreek powder (for extra flavour), let it simmer for a couple of minutes and then turn off the heat. During the whole process of cooking enough care should be taken not break the egg plants, or let them stick to the bottom or turn mushy.

9. Serve warm as a side dish with Biryani or any other rice. Enjoy!!

Notes: 

* To make roasted cumin and fenugreek powder, roast 2 parts of zeera to 1 part of fenugreek seeds separately, cool completely and then grind to a coarse, but not very coarse powder to use in chutneys, sour curries etc. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Baked Nipattu

I chanced upon this recipe on this blog, "Red Chillies" (http://redchillies.us/2009/03/02/savory-onion-cookies-baked-nippattu/) and I have been making this snack and enjoying it with my family ever since!
 Nippattu (Crackers) as it is called a popular indian snack, very common in Bangalore bakeries is traditionally a fried snack. But the baked version not only makes it healthy but also very tasty and addictive. 
I added some chopped cashews and peanuts to give them them a nutty crunch and that kicked up a notch!

Here's the recipe!

Ingredients
Plain white flour -  2 cups
Sesame Seeds  -   1 tbs
Sugar                  - 2 tsp 
Salt                       - 1 tsp
Yoghurt                 - 1 tbs 
Roasted peanuts - 1/4 cup
Roasted cashews - 1/4 cup 
Oil                          -1/3 cup
 Butter (melted)     - 4Tbsp 
 Baking soda         -  1 tsp
Onion (finely chopped) - 1 big
Fresh coriander leaves - 1/2 cup 
Geen chillies (finely chopped) - 2  

Method: 
1. Mix together all the dry ingredients except the baking soda in a bowl.

2. Add the baking soda to the 1tbs yoghurt to make it whiz before mixing it in the flour mixture. 

3. Sprinkle the chopped onions, green chillies and cilantro with some salt, mix well with the knife and chop them all together to release their juices then add to the flour mixture.


4.  Pour in the oil and the flour mixture starts to come together. Add the melted butter when it forms into a ball. If you feel it is too dry then add just a little more thick yoghurt. Do not add water as we want a stiff consistency like samosa dough.


5. Knead well to make a stiff dough for 2-4 mins. Cover with a damp cloth and leave aside for 30mins.

6. Roll them out into flat discs or rounds or roll flat and cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. But roll them out thin as we want them crispy.

7. After arranging them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, prick them all with a fork

8. Bake in preheated oven at 325 degrees fahrenheit for 25 - 30 mins till golden and crispy. Do not over bake. 

9. When they cool down, serve them with tea as a snack. You could prepare lots of them in batches and store them in an air tight container. Enjoy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Apple berry salad


This is a very nutritious and yummy salad that you can make with any kind of berries and apples at home. It is my own creation. Last time I used blue berries instead of strawberries and red baby romaine leaves and it was as good as this one. You may also add dried cranberries if you wish. As for the nuts I used almonds and I don't think any other nuts would go well with this salad. The almonds, sesame, sunflower and poppy seeds I feel is a good combination and should not be replaced with anything else in order to enjoy this salad. Also the apples have to be sweet and I used Fuji apples.

Well here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
Fuji apple - 1
Strawberries or blueberries - a few
Baby romaine lettuce - a few leaves
Almonds - 6
Blue poppy seeds - 1/2 tsp
Sesame seeds - 1/2 tsp
Sunflower seeds - 1/2 tsp

Dressing:
Lemon juice - 2 tsp
Frank's red hot - 1/2 tsp
Honey - 1 tsp
Olive oil - 1 tbs
Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt and Pepper 

Method:
1. Wash and thinly slice the apple and cut the slices into smaller bite size pieces.
2. Slice the strawberries as well. If you have blue berries, just throw them in.
3. Mix together the apple and strawberries. Sprinkle over, the sesame and poppy seeds. Chop the almonds and set everything aside.
4. Prepare the dressing by mixing together all the ingredients and whisking the mixture well.
5. First drizzle a little of the dressing on the romaine leaves and arrange them on a salad plate.
6. Then drizzle some more dressing on the apples and berry mixture. Mix well.
7. Put the apple and berry mixture on top of the arranged baby romaine leaves.
8. Throw in the sun flower seeds and chopped almonds on top, drizzle the rest of the dressing and enjoy.

Salmon Cutlets


Ingredients:
Fresh Salmon/Trout de-boned and minced - 1lb
Potato boiled and mashed - 1 medium size
Onion chopped -1small
Green chilly or Jalepeno - 1 small or half
Garlic clove - 1 small
Salt and Pepper
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Parsley chopped - a few leaves
Corn flour - 1 tbs
Olive oil - 1 tbs
A dash of lemon juice.


Method: 
1.Mix together, minced salmon, chopped onion, fresh green chilly or jalepeno, parsely, salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice.
2. Add corn flour, turmeric, salt and pepper to mashed potato, blend everything together with your hand and add it to the salmon.
3. Mix well and make small round balls, then flatten them on the palm of your hand and set aside. You can make 8 cutlets altogether.
4. Shallow fry all of them in one tbs olive oil on medium heat in a non-stick or cast iron skillet. Drain on paper towels.
5. Serve them hot with ketchup, chutney or chilly sauce. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Zafrani Falooda

I have made different types of zafrani falooda many times before but this one was a big hit. I also gave it a new dimension by cutting it into different shapes with cookie cutters. The rich and creamy texture with the flavour of the saffron and the soft crunch of the slivered almonds on top is so soothing to the senses and the taste is just divine!



Here's the recipe.

Ingredients:
Whole Milk (3.2%) - 1.5 litres
Whipping cream or half and half - 1 cup
Condensed milk - 1 can
Agar Agar (china grass) - Half the quantity of a 42gm pack
Sugar - 1/4 cup or as per taste
Saffron - a pinch
Slivered almonds - 2 tbs sliced


Method: 

1. Boil the whole milk in a big pot. Add the condensed milk, sugar and whipping cream or half and half and let it simmer for sometime. The whipping cream gives a smooth and creamy texture. Health watchers can use skimmed milk and cream, but have to compromise on the taste as it will not be as rich and smooth as this one.

2. Meanwhile cut half of the agar agar from the sheet. Rinse it in water. Boil 1/2 a cup of  water, immerse the agar agar in it, lower the heat and let it dissolve. Give it a stir to blend well.

3. Let the milk boil a bit by raising the heat, then lower the heat and slowly pour the dissolved agar agar mixture into the pot through a strainer while stirring continuously. This is to avoid lumps.

4. After adding do not raise the temperature as it will curdle the milk. You have to be really careful at this stage. The temperature should be constant. Sometimes lowering and then raising the temperature again and again also affects the texture and all the effort goes down the drain with the curdling of the milk and you can do nothing about it.

5. Use a wooden spatula and do not scrape the bottom of the pan as we do not want the any browned milk shavings from the bottom swimming in the milk. This gives a bad appearance to the falooda.

6. Dissolve the saffron in 1tsp of warm water after powdering the strands in a mortar and pestle. Blanch the almonds, sliver them and keep aside. Keep a dry 10 - 12 inch stainless steel walled plate or a pie plate ready.

7. Allow the milk to boil again after adding the agar agar for just one or two mins on medium heat and then pour it immediately into the pie plate. After a couple of minutes when you see a film of layer on the surface it is time to sprinkle the slivered almonds on top so that they just stick to the surface and sit there. Let the falooda set at room temperature in a cool place away from the heat source.

8. Once it is set, dip a toothpick in the saffron solution and make a design on the falooda or just dab it with a brush or the back of a spoon here and there as I did to give it some color .

9. Chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

10. Cut into either diamond shapes with a knife or into any desirable shapes with a cookie cutter and enjoy.

Notes:

You can find Agar Agar (china grass) in any asian or indian grocery store.