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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Murmuree Bhindi

I was kind of inspired by Master Chef India when I made this dish. I wanted to make it healthy so instead of deep frying the bhindi as they do, I stir fried it using besan flour to keep it crispy and it turned out well as I had anticipated it.



Ingredients:
Ladies fingers or Okra - 1lb
Peanuts crushed - 2 tbs
Curry leaves - a few
Dried red chillies - 2
Garlic finely chopped - 2 medium sized cloves
Onions sliced - 1 medium
Dhania powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Besan powder (chickpea flour) - 1 tbs
Salt to taste
Lemon juice - 1 tsp to sprinkle.
Vegetable oil - 2 tbs

Method:
1 Cut the Bhindi/Okra  lengthwise into thin slivers after rinsing and wiping it dry,
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a sauce pan on medium heat, Add dried red chillies, mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle add the fried onions, chopped green chillies(optional) and curry leaves.
3. When the onions start sweating a little add the cut up bhindi, stir fry a bit with the onions, then add the besan powder and all the spice powders listed in the ingredients including the fresh chopped garlic.
4. Stir fry the bhindi in the masala on medium heat till it turns nice and crisy.  Sprinkle some lemon juice, then add the crushed or pounded peanuts, adjust the salt, give it a stir, then add chopped cilantro and serve with rice or chappatis. Enjoy

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Braided pastry logs


My sister-in-law is a great cook. During my visit to Montreal to see her, I got to taste her pastry puffs. She made them into squares with ground beef and red pepper filling. They were so delicious that I enjoyed every bite of them!  I loved the texture of the pastry dough so much that I got this recipe from her to share with you all.

I gave a twist to this recipe by shaping the puffs in the form of a braided log. This not only gave a unique look but also kept the filling moist. And this time I used my own indian style filling which also enhanced the taste of the pastry well. You could in fact use any filling of your choice. And shape the pastry in your own way. Here's the recipe!

Ingredients: 

For the Pastry Dough:
White Flour - 3 cups
Eggs - 1
Butter (chilled) - 1/2 cup
Sour cream - 3/4 cup
Baking powder - 1
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1 tbs

For the Beef filling: 
Ground Beef - 1 lb
Onions - 2 (medium size)
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1tsp
Coriander - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Tomato paste - 1 tbs
Green chillies - 1 big or two small ones.
Cilantro - 1/4 cup
Cloves - 4
Green Cardamoms - 4
Vegetable oil - 2 tbs
White flour (just to sprinkle) - 1 tsp

Egg wash 
1 egg white beaten with one tbs milk

Pastry dough:

1. First to make the pastry dough, add baking powder, salt and sugar to the white flour and pulse the food processor one or two times.

2. Cut the chilled butter into small cubes and add to the processor, then pulse again.

3. Now add the beaten egg and sour cream. Combine everything well on low speed.

4. Remove dough and knead it with a little flour if it is too moist. Cover with a damp towel and set aside. 

Ground Beef Filling: 

1. Rinse the ground beef in a sieve. Keep a bowl under it and let it drain a bit.

2. Heat the oil in a sauce pan on medium heat. Fry half the finely sliced onions till soft and slightly golden.

3. Add ginger garlic paste, turmeric, red chilly powder and coriander powder. Mix well.

4. Roast the ground beef with salt in the masala till the water drains and it leaves an aroma. This will take 4-5 mins. Add tomato paste with half a cup water.  Sprinkle a little flour to make it bind. Mix well.

5. Cut the green chillies into small pieces on the cutting board with the remaining onions after sprinkling a little bit of salt. Crush the onions with the green chillies and salt and incorporate everything together with the knife. This makes  the onions sweat a little and also gives a flavour to the filling.
  
6. Add this onion mixture to the ground beef on top. Keep the cloves and cardamoms on one side of the pan. Top with chopped cilantro. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes till the water is absorbed and the filling is moist. Remove from stove.

7.Mix well and leave it to cool. Before using the filling don't forget to remove the cloves and cardamoms.

Method:

1. Roll the pastry dough into a big circle on the pastry board. Divide into 2 semi circles. Roll and shape each into a rectangle around 4"x9". 

2. Mix grated cheddar cheese with the ground beef filling and spread it horizontally on one side of the pastry sheet as seen in the picture.



3. Gently roll the pastry over half way while tucking the filling inside like a log. Make slits at the edge on the other side as in the picture.

4. Brush the edges of the strips with egg wash.

5. Now criss cross the strips on the log and stick them on the opposite side. The egg wash at the ends makes them stick well. Braid in the same fashion till the end of the log.

6. Brush with egg wash and finally to decorate sprinkle with black poppy seeds. Make sure the bottom of the logs is dry. So dust the pastry board with flour before working on the logs. 

7. Transfer the logs to a cookie sheet, greased and dusted with flour.
















8. Bake the logs in an oven preheated at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 20 - 25 mins till golden brown. Cut the braided pastry logs int 3 inch pieces and enjoy!





Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pineapple Kachumbar Salad

"Kachumbar" is a medley of finely chopped fresh raw salad vegetables and is usually served as a side dish. It is made with finely chopped fresh onions, tomatoes, green chillies and cilantro with lemon juice and salt. It is a great condiment with kebabs, samosas, fried chicken, biryani etc.. I changed the traditional "Kachumbar" by adding pineapple and giving it a kick. It was so refreshing and everybody enjoyed it. 

Make this on a hot summer day for lunch as I did, it is so refreshing, that you would just love it!



Ingredients:

 Pineapple(fresh) - 3 or 4 slices
 Onions - 1 medium
 Tomatoes - 1 or 2
 Red bell pepper - 1/2
 Green chilly - 2
 Fresh Cilantro - 1 cup

Dressing:

Juice of half a lemon
Pomegranate syrup - 1 tbs
Chopped ginger - 1/2 a tsp
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil - 1 tbs

Method: 

1. Chop finely 3 or 4 slices of pineapple into very small bits. Peel, wash and finely chop the onions. Wash, deseed the tomatoes and finely chop them with a sharp knife. Finely chop the red bell pepper, 1 green chilly and fresh cilantro.

2. Take a salad platter. First layer the chopped pineapple, then the chopped tomatoes followed by onions chopped with one green chilly and finally the chopped red bell pepper as shown in the picture. Now arrange the chopped coriander on all the four sides like a border. 

3. Whisk together all the ingredients of the dressing. Pour the dressing all over the salad just before eating. Mix well and enjoy.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Banana Halwa Cake

Banana halwa cakes


This recipe is my own creation. But I was kind of inspired by chef Sanjeev Kapoor's Banana Halwa recipe.The name itself made me imagine a yummy taste, but when I read the recipe it made me feel heavy. It is no doubt a delicious recipe made with rich ingredients (like khoya, ghee, cashewnuts, sugar etc), but not quite suitable for my kids' taste. First of all they hate indian sweets because they are so sweet and secondly they don't like anything heavy which all indian sweets are. So I decided to make it in my own way. I wanted to use edible gum and flour in combination with the bananas. I couldn't imagine how it would turn out but at the end, nothing went wrong as everything pulled together and the banana halwa cake evolved on its own. Everybody loved it!



Here's the recipe.

Ingredients:
Ripe Bananas- 4
Condensed milk -1 can
White butter- 1/4 +1/8
Durrum wheat flour-1 cup
Edible gum- 1 tbs
Vanilla cream - 1/4 cup
Black Poppy seeds- 1/4 tsp
Almonds - 1/2 cup + 6 for decoration

Method:
1. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a non-stick sauce pan on medium heat. Add the flour and toast until well combined and smooth.

2. Pulse the edible gum with the almonds in a grinder and grind to a fine powder.

3. Add the ground almonds and gum to the toasted flour in the pan and toast the whole mixture well till you get an aroma.

4. Fold in one can of condensed milk and blend well with a spatula so that there are no lumps anywhere.

5. Now grease a cake pan and set aside.

6. Add the remaining 1/8th cup butter to the sauce pan. Mix well. Keep turning the mixture over in the pan and when it starts leaving the sides pour the mixture in the cake pan and then bake in the preheated oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 10 mins.

7. Remove and let it cool. Spread vanilla icing on top. Sprinkle some black  poppy seeds and cut into desired shapes.

8. Leave it in the fridge to chill for sometime and enjoy with a cup of tea.

Alternatives:

You can try with white flour instead of durrum wheat flour and use less condensed milk if you want it less sweet. Also try with khoya and brown sugar instead of condensed milk. And substitute almonds with walnuts.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Traditional Samosa Puffs



These samosa puffs are not made from puff pastry dough but from the same dough for samosas. They are layered and shaped like puffs and on frying become crunchy like a samosa. This is a popular recipe running in my husband's family - my mom in law's favorite snack and I love it too.

Here's the recipe.

Ingredients for the dough:
White flour - 4 cups
Vegetable oil - 1/4 cup + 2 tbs
Baking powder - 1/2 a tsp
Salt - 1 tspn
Water as needed

Fillings of your choice: Chicken filling, Shrimp mushroom filling, Lamb/beef filling, potato paneer filling or potato peas filling.
Chicken filling

Chicken/Lamb/beef filling: 
Ingredients:
Chicken breast ground: 1lb
Onions- 1 big + 1 very small.
Ginger garlic paste -1tsp
Green Chillies - 2- 4 small ones (you can omit them if you don't want it spicy or just use one. But they give a good flavour to the filling.  Slitting them and removing the seeds also lessens the heat).
Cilantro - 1 cup
Cloves - 2
Dark Cinnamon bark - 1/2 an inch
Green Cardamoms - 2
Dhania(coriander) powder-1 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Vegetable oil - 2 tbs + 2 - 3 cups for deep frying the samosas.
Beef filling

Method:

For the Filling:
1. Make the chicken mince using a mincer using clean and dry chicken breast cubes cut into cubes. Keep the mince aside.
2. Chop the small onion (1/2 cup). Heat 2 tblspns vegetable oil in  a pan Add whole cinnamon bark, cloves and green cardamoms followed by the chopped onion. Fry till golden brown.
3. Add ginger garlic paste, Kitchen king masala, chopped green chillies and turmeric. Mix and cook well.
4. Add sliced onions chopped green chillies (optional) and cilantro, close the lid. Do not stir or mix.
5. Once the meat is cooked, remove and allow it to cool.
6. Remove all the whole spices (cloves, cinnamon & cardamoms) that were added as you don't want to bite into them when you are eating the samosa puffs. They are only added for flavouring the dish.

For the dough:
1. Take 4 cups of flour, add salt and baking powder. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and process it in a food processor. Add water little by little through the tube and pulse it again and again till it forms into a soft and pliable dough. It should not stick to your hands. Pulse it more and when it starts to spin it is time to remove it. Cover with a moist tea towel and set aside.



Roll the dough on a pastry board to a 1cm thickness

Cut into strips 3" x 3".  Brush with vegetable oil and dust with flour.

Pile the strips one on top of the other - the dry side on top of the greasy side.

Cut into squares. Roll the squares on both the sides.

Add the filling in the center. Brush the two sides of the triangle with flour paste  flour mixed with water to form a spreadable paste or you can use beaten egg white). Close the triangle by pressing the sides a little away from the edge. This helps in making the edges flaky on frying. 

Fry them in moderately hot oil by gently pushing the oil towards the edges in a rowing motion so that the edges open up a bit and look flaky. Turn over and fry till they turn crispy and golden brown. 


Drain them on paper towels. The Samosa puffs are now ready. Serve them hot with chutney or ketchup. Mint chutney, tamarind chutney and chilli garlic sauce are good accompaniments.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cranberry sun-dried tomato chutney


Ingredients: 
Fresh Cranberries - 1 pack
Sun-dried tomatoes - 1 cup
Thai red chillies (pricked) - 10
Green chillies (pricked) - 5 (optional)
Dried red chillies - 4 (optional)
Vegetable oil - 1 cup
Cumin seeds- 1 tblspn
Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tblspn
Red chilly powder - 1 tblspn
Brown sugar - 1/2 cup
Juice of one big lemon
Garlic cloves peeled - 6-8
Crushed garlic cloves unpeeled - 2
Vinegar-1 cup
Mustard seeds - 1tspn
Kosher Salt - 1/2 - 1 tblspn or as required.

Method:



1. Wash and drain the cranberries and keep aside.
2. In a bowl mix together sun-dried tomatoes, peeled garlic cloves, thai red chillies and half the vinegar.
3. Dry roast separately the cumin and fenugreek seeds. When they cool down grind them and set aside.
4. Heat 1 cup of oil in a sauce pan. Add mustard seeds and when they crackle add the dried red chillies followed by the 2 crushed unpeeled garlic cloves and pricked green chillies (if left unpricked they burst when put in the hot oil). Then immediately add the cranberries, ground cumin-fenugreek powder and red chilly powder. The whole process has to be done very quickly and carefully without letting any of the ingredients burn.
5. Add to this, the sun-dried tomato mixture from the bowl  followed by the remaining 1/2 a cup vinegar, salt, brown sugar and lemon juice. Give it a good stir and remove from pan.
6. Let it cool down, then fill it in a glass/ceramic jar.

The cranberry sun-dried tomato chutney is now ready to enjoy.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Koobideh

My Koobideh call for no fat, absolutely no fat at all. Yet when I made them nobody could tell the difference! They were just as juicy as any other koubideh and everybody just enjoyed them asking for seconds and thirds.

I always wanted to make koobideh but without fat and each time I tried they turned out so dry and tasteless that it felt like eating a piece of cardboard. I got fed up and stopped trying altogether.

 It so happened that after making kibbeh there was so much extra lean finely ground beef left over and I had to use it all up (I never refreeze any food after partially or completely defrosting it). While I was just speculating on how I could make juicy kebabs with it, what I should add - eggs and cornstarch or  mushrooms, etc, etc, my eyes fell on the almond butter bottle in the shelf and lo and behold my juicy koobideh were born!

What can be a better substitute to fat other than almond butter? It not only gives a better taste but is a much better healthy choice as well. "Almond butter is not only a good source of protein but is packed with monounsaturated fats, which are good for the heart, and also helps to control blood sugar".

Some people might argue that the fat burns off when you grill them so why take the unnecessary expensive alternative of using almond butter. The fact is that the fat does not entirely burn off. When the kebabs cool down you can still see a film of fat sticking to them. And this fat can clog your arteries and give you a heart attack.

Here's the recipe!

Ingredients:
1 kg Finely ground extra lean beef (no skin and 0% fat)
1 tbs Garlic paste                            
1 tsp Black pepper ground              
2 tbs Fried onions (either store bought or home made)
2 tsp Seven spices                          
1 tsp All spice                                
1 tsp Cumin powder                      
1 tsp Salt as per taste)
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley (chopped)
1/2 cup Almond butter                         -
1 tbs Vegetable oil (optional)
1-2 tbs Water                                      
4-6 Flat metal skewers                

Method:

1. Grind together fried onions, garlic paste and fresh parsley along with all the spices and 1 tblspn of water.  Add this paste to the ground beef.


2. Add the 1/2 a cup of almond butter with the almond oil to the beef. Keep kneading it like dough till it stops sticking and starts leaving the sides of the container.  If it is too sticky and dry add just 1/2 - 1tbs of water. The more you knead the lighter the kebab texture. The kebab dough should be moist and airy and should not stick to your hands. Knead well and leave to marinate in the fridge for an hour or two.

3. Do not add any extra vegetable oil if the almond butter is runny and if you can see the almond oil covering the top of the almond butter.

4. Brush the skewers with oil as this makes it easier to slide off the kebab when it is done. With clean wet hands take a golf size ball of the prepared ground beef and wrap it around the skewer till it holds together. Shape it into a nice, long, smooth and round sausage then with your index and middle finger mimicking scissors pinch both ends of the kebab alongside to form ridges.


5. Repeat the steps for all of them. Leave enough room on either side of the skewers so as to rest them on the grill.

6. Set your oven to broil on high (or 550 degrees fahrenheit).

7. Take an old cookie sheet and cover it with tin foil. Place the skewers on the cookie sheet. Then place it under the grill in the top position of the oven.

8. Broil for 3-4 mins on each side. Do not over cook as they would harden. When you see them turning golden brown turn over and cook for another 3- 4 mins till they are done. Keep some tin foil ready. Remove them from the oven. Slide them off with the help of salad tongs into the tin foil and wrap them up immediately.  This helps in retaining the moisture and heat till you serve them. You have to be very careful and use oven gloves while handling the skewers as they are very hot.

9. Serve them hot with persian or afghani rice and yoghurt mint chutney which you can make by adding 1 - 2 tsp dried mint leaves, 1/2 and inch chopped ginger, salt and pepper to 1/2 a cup yoghurt.

10. You may also grill some vegetables (tomatoes, green, red peppers, onions etc) in a skewer to eat with the kebabs.   Serve them hot on a bed of sliced onions and mint chutney with persian or afghani rice. Enjoy the koobideh and eat your way to health.