Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Dhaba Style Dal Tadka

Highways and dhabas in India are like two sides of the same coin. Inseparable! Talking of dhabas, there is one dish you cannot miss and which you keep yearning for. The special black gram dal, popularly known as dhaba daal, and hot tandoori rotis fresh from the tandoor. With a plate of chicken fry and freshly cut onions to go with it, your soul is satisfied and your journey even more enjoyable. 

Ingredients
1 cup black gram dal/urad dal
1/2 + 1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
For the tadka powder
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp mace powder
1/2 inch cinnamon
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
For the tempering
1 medium onion chopped
1 medium tomato chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 slit green chilli
2 tsp tadka powder
Coriander leaves for garnishing
1 tbsp oil

Direction
Wash and soak the dal overnight. In a cooker, pressure cook the dal with a little salt and turmeric until done. Remove from heat and let it cool.
In a pan, dry roast all the ingredients listed under tadka powder. Cool and grind to a fine powder. Keep aside.
In another pan, heat oil and splutter the cumin seeds. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for sometime.  Now add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Tip in the chopped tomatoes, green chilli, tomato puree, and tadka powder. Fry everything together till oil separates. Now add the boiled dal and bring to a boil. Adjust the seasoning and add a little water if it is too thick. Remove from heat and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with tandoori roti/naan.


                                      

Monday, 23 December 2013

Whole Wheat Custard Almond Eggless Cake

Just back from a long long holiday and after so much of eating and indulging, I wanted to bake something healthy for my hunger pangs. I had a pack of custard powder open for long along with some ground almonds. A quick Google search landed me with a nice and easy custard marble cake recipe which can be put together in less than 15 minutes, if you have all the ingredients ready. However, I felt a little lazy to separate the batter and so changed the recipe to make it a Custard Almond cake. The result was a soft and delicious crusty tea time cake which can be relished without any guilt!

Ingredients
3/4 cup whole wheat flour/atta
2 tbsp all purpose flour/maida
1/2 cup custard powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp oil
1/4 cup ground almonds
Silvered almond slices for the topping

Direction
Sift together the flour, custard powder, salt, and baking soda. Keep aside.
In a bowl, mix milk, sugar, vanilla essence, and oil. Fold in the dry ingredients little at a time and mix everything well till no lumps remain. Add the ground almond powder and mix again. 
Pre-heat the oven at 180 degree celsius. Line a rectangular baking tin with butter paper or grease the tin. Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Take out from the oven and let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Later, cool completely on a wire rack and serve. It can be refrigerated for up to 1 week in air tight containers. 


                                        

                                        

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Soft and Spongy Whole Wheat Buns/Pav

To think of healthy alternatives for the regular food has become more of a necessity in today's world. However, healthy food usually comes with a compromise on the taste factor. However, there are always exceptions. Today's recipe of whole wheat buns is an example of tasty healthy alternative to the regular flour buns. These buns are soft and spongy and remain such even after a day or two after baking, which is usually not the case with whole wheat buns. Just warm it and eat it and enjoy a guilt free meal.

Ingredients
3 cups whole wheat flour (you may add a little additional flour while kneading)
1 tbsp instant dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter, softened
75 ml warm milk (add little at a time to avoid adding additional flour)
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg
Olive oil for oiling hands and bowl

Direction
In a bowl, mix sugar in the lukewarm water and add the yeast. Make sure the water is not too cold or too hot. Else the yeast will not proof. Let it stand for about 10 minutes until frothy and bubbly and starts rising. For reference, see the picture below.
                                     
In a separate bowl, mix the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the softened butter, yeast mixture and egg. Start kneading the dough by adding little milk at a time. Continue kneading for about 8-10 minutes till the dough is moist but non-sticky and a finger pressed down does not come back with a bit of dough. Ensure, however, that the dough is not too dry. Lightly oil your hands and rub your hands on the dough. With a little more oil, lightly grease the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly and keep it in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled. In some cases, the dough does not rise doubly. However, if your yeast has proofed well, the buns should be soft and spongy after baking.
Once the dough has risen, line a round baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly knead the dough for 3-5 minutes, punching out the air. Do not overknead. Now take lemon sized balls and arrange on the baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of the dough. See the picture below for reference.
                                      
Cover with a cling wrap and keep it in a warm place for another hour. The balls would now be clinging to each other as shown in the picture above.
Pre-heat the oven on toast mode at 200 degree celsius. Brush the top of the buns with a little milk and bake them for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Take out from the oven and immediately brush a little butter on the buns. Transfer to a wire rack and keep covered with a kitchen towel for 10-15 minutes. Your soft and spongy buns are ready to be eaten. I teamed it with Mumbai style Pav Bhaji.
                              
                                         
    



Bori Diye Phulkopir Patla Jhol (Lentil Dumplings in a Spicy Cauliflower Gravy)

It's that time of the year when we pack our bags and go for a long vacation. With or without the baby, we have never broken this tradition ever since we got married 6 years back (and tomorrow is our anniversary). However, this time it is an extended holiday with first a quick India trip for a wedding and then finally to our holiday destination, Phuket. Ohh! How I love this place. The food, the shopping, the beach, and most importantly the massage. So before leaving for this long holiday, I need to, or rather want to, finish off all groceries and have a clean and empty refrigerator barring a few eggs (which I will need on the day I come back). Today's curry is a bengali spicy curry with some cauliflower florets and homemade fried lentil dumplings. Enjoy with a bowl of plain rice and you are done with a tasty dinner/lunch without much hard work.

Ingredients
1/2 cup cauliflower florets (roughly 5-6 florets)
1 medium potato, cubed
1/2 cup masoor daal, washed and soaked for at least 2 hours
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1 fresh chilli
1/2 tsp onion seeds (kalonji)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp red chilli powder, divided
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
Coriander leaves for garnishing
1 tbsp mustard oil
Refined oil for frying the lentil dumplings

Direction
Drain the soaked masoor daal and blend it in a blender to a smooth paste, preferably without any water. Transfer to a bowl and add a little salt and half of the red chilli powder. Mix well. Heat sufficient refined oil in a wok, and add spoonfuls of the blended lentil paste and fry till golden brown on all sides. Drain excess oil on paper towels and keep aside. Once the entire paste is used up, fry the cauliflower florets and then the potato cubes in the same oil. Drain excess oil and keep aside.
Heat 1 tbsp mustard oil in another pan and add kalonji or onion seeds and let it crackle. Add the grated ginger and fry for a minute. Now add the tomatoes and fry till oil starts leaving from the sides. In a small bowl, take all the dry spices along with salt and sugar and make a paste with a little water. Add it to the tomatoes in the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes till oil starts appearing on the sides. Now add the cauliflower and potatoes and mix it well with the masala. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Now simmer the heat and cover cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just done. Now add the fried lentil dumplings and cover cook for another 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and remove from heat.

                                      


Monday, 9 December 2013

Lusciously Soft and Creamy Custard Buns

 Most people call baking an addiction. I call it an inspiration. The more you bake, the more inspired you are to bake even better and better and better. While in India my baking skills were restricted to just occasional cakes, coming to Singapore has opened a whole new world of baking for me. The easy availability of key ingredients is the prime reason behind it. However, the main credit goes to my landlord here who has provided us with a wonderful oven, along with other furnishings, which really inspires me to bake. I started with cakes and then slowly moving onto cookies and now my latest obcession is with breads. So here's an interesting recipe of sweet bun stuffed with soft and creamy custard.

Ingredients
For the custard
3 tbsp custard powder
500 ml milk plus 100 ml for dissolving the custard
6 tbsp sugar (or as per your taste)
2 tbsp fresh cream

For the buns
2 cups bread flour (or 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour and 2 tbsp vital wheat gluten)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
100 ml warm milk plus for brushing
Olive oil for brushing and for oiling hands and bowl
3 tbsp butter, softened plus for brushing

Direction
For the custard
In a cup, mix the custard powder and 100 ml cold milk and dissolve completely till no lumps appear. In a heavy bottomed vessel, heat the remaining milk and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and slowly mix in the custard, stirring continuously till all mixed well. Continue stirring on low heat till the custard is about to thicken. Mix in the cream and stir till dissolved completely. If the custard by now gets too thick, stir in an additional 1-2 tbsp of milk and remove from heat. Ensure that the custard is similar to cake batter consistency. Making it too thin will make it difficult to stuff into the buns. Pour into another bowl and let it cool completely. Refrigerate for a few hours to set it completely.

For the buns
In a bowl, mix butter, milk, and sugar. Add 1/2 cup flour and yeast and make a smooth paste. Keep aside covered in a warm place for 45 minutes.
In a separate bowl, take the flour and salt and mix well. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture, egg and knead well to a soft and non-sticky dough. You nay apply some olive oil on your hands for a smoother and quicker kneading. Continue kneading for another 5-7 minutes till the dough becomes soft and elastic to touch. Apply a little oil on the dough and cover with cling wrap. Keep in a warm place and let it rise for 1-11/2 hours or until double in size.
Once the dough has proofed, take it out on a floured surface and lightly knead the dough for few more minutes. Prepare a baking sheet. Take large lemon sized balls and make a small indentation in the center. Add about little more than a teaspoon of the refrigerated custard and close again into a ball. Repeat the process for the rest of the dough. Line all the balls on the baking sheet about an inch apart and keep it covered with a cling wrap for another 45 minutes for the second proofing. 
Pre-heat the oven at 180 degree celsius on the toast mode (both the rods heated).
Brush the buns (which would have again doubled in size) with some milk and bake in the toast mode for 10-12 minutes until golden on top. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter while still hot and cover with a kitchen towel for few minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Your super soft and creamy custard buns are ready to be served.
                                        
                                       
  




Sunday, 8 December 2013

Chilli Chicken

Indo Chinese dishes are a popular favorite in most households. The reason being the ease of making these dishes and even more so, the availability of the key ingredients in your kitchen counter. However, most often the absence of tried and tested recipes for these dishes are either not available or there are so many on the internet that we often get confused which recipe to follow. Among all other dishes, chilli chicken is a dish which I have always loved, specially on rainy wintery evenings. I chose a recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor and I was quite happy with the result. A restaurant quality authentic chilli chicken dish awaits you in the kitchen!

Ingredients
300 gms boneless chicken, cubed
2 tbsp cornflour, divided
2 tbsp soy sauce, divided
1 tbsp red chilli sauce
1 egg
1 tsp black pepper powder
6-7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
3-4 red/green chillies chopped
1/2 cup capsicum diced
2 sticks spring onions, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tbsp oil plus for frying

Direction
Take the chicken pieces in a bowl and add half of the cornflour, egg, half of the soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Heat sufficient oil in a wok and put the chicken pieces little at a time and fry till golden brown on all sides. Do not overcook. Drain excess oil on paper towels and keep aside.
In a separate pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and add the garlic. Fry till golden brown. Add the chillies and fry for few more minutes. Add the onions and fry till translucent. Add the sauces and stir. Add the capsicum and spring onions and fry further. Add a little chicken stock and bring to a boil. Dissolve the remaining remaining cornflour in the rest of the chicken stock and add it to the pan. Mix well. Now add the fried chicken pieces and stir. Thicken the gravy to your desired consistency. I did not add any additional salt as the sauces and the stock already had in it. However, adjust seasoning as per your taste requirements. Finish off with vinegar and remove from heat after 2-3 minutes. Serve with lightly seasoned veg hakka noodles or fried rice and enjoy the winters.
                                           
                                         
                            


Pumpkin Soup

Staying healthy has become an important factor in today's lifestyle. We hardly realize how fast time flies. From morning till evening, all that we do is perform our mundane duties without thinking for a moment about the duty we owe to our body. There will be only a handful of people who can manage to squeeze in some time for themselves and can hit the nearby gym or some fitness classes. For the rest, it's only the weekend (if they can manage time with their family). Having said that, eating healthy is another important aspect of staying healthy. Today's recipe is a step towards eating healthy food. Pumpkin is one such vegetable which many people find very yucky to eat and very conveniently avoid eating it. As a result, the nutrients and goodness of this poor vegetable go waste. But now no more! 

Ingredients
500 gms pumpkin, cubed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
200 ml milk
4-5 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
A pinch of cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

Direction
In a deep bottom pan, add olive oil and fry the onions and garlic till fragrant and golden brown. Add the  cubed pumpkin pieces and fry for 3-5 minutes until browned. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf and cook covered until the pumpkin is tender. Remove from heat. Drain the stock and keep aside and blend the pumpkin to a smooth paste. Return to the pan and add the stock and milk. Bring to a boil and slightly thicken, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of cinnamon. Simmer for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Serve with a delicious toasted garlic bread.
                                 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Chicken Bolognaise Pasta

My husband the other day surprisingly made a request for Italian food (he is more of a desi guy), specifically Bolognaise Pasta. I quickly looked up the recipe on the internet and was happy to know how easy it is. The next morning after breakfast, I quickly put my baby on the pram and off we went for the supermarket to get the ingredients. As luck would have it, it started raining. Thankfully, I was carrying the pram rain cover and while my baby was saved, I got completely drenched. This, however, gave me a silly little chance to prove to my husband how much I love him that I went in the rains to cook him his favorite pasta (women never leave a chance, anyway)! So here is the easy peasy recipe of chicken bolognaise pasta. Traditionally, the bolognese sauce is served on top of the pasta. I, however, like it mixed together with the pasta. You can choose your options.

Ingredients
For the Bolognaise sauce
300 gms chicken mince
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick coriander/cilantro chopped
5 heaped tbsp tomato pasta sauce
1/2 cup carrot finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil 
For the pasta
2 tsp butter + 2 tsp olive oil 
300 gms uncooked spaghetti 
1 clove garlic minced 
1 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan cheese to serve (I skipped it as my husband does not like cheese)

Directions
For the Bolognaise Sauce
Heat oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic, coriander, and carrot. Fry till onions are translucent and carrots tender. You can cover cook for 3-5 minutes to ensure quick cooking. Add the chicken mince. Cook with a wooden spoon to break up the mince for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add pasta sauce and stock. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep aside.
For the pasta
Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions. Add a hint of olive oil while boiling to ensure non-sticky pasta and run through cold water once done to avoid over cooking. 
The assembly
As I mentioned earlier, I like my pasta mixed with the sauce. If you like it separate, you can skip this step. In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil. Add the minced garlic and oregano. Add the cooked pasta, little at a time, and give a good stir so that the oil gets coated evenly. Now add the prepared Bolognaise sauce and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat and serve hot with grated parmesan cheese and a glass of good wine!

                                          

    

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Semolina Bread

Interesting recipes are always an intriguing thing for me and if it involves baking, it becomes even more imperative for me to give it a try. This recipe was yesterday posted on a food group that I regularly follow and I immediately got onto the job. The process is similar to any other regular bread with the only difference of adding semolina along with the flour. The result is wonderful crusty bread on the outside and a soft pillowy bread on the inside. For all bread lovers and bakers I highly recommend this recipe. As for my mother, she just cannot believe it when I tell her I no longer buy bread from the market!

Ingredients
For the sponge
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp instant dry yeast
1 cup warm water

For the dough
All of the sponge
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup semolina
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil for rubbing the hands and bowl

Directions
In a bowl, take the flour for the sponge. Mix the yeast in the luke warm water and add it to the flour. Mix well to make a smooth paste. Cover and keep it in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled.
In another bowl, mix the flour, semolina, and salt. Add the oil and the sponge. Rub a little oil on your hands and knead the dough to a smooth elastic but non-sticky dough. If the dough feels too sticky, rub a little more oil on your hands. Once the dough comes together, wrap it tightly in a cling wrap and rubbing a little oil on the sides of the bowl cover and keep it in a warm place to rise until doubled for about an hour. 
On a floured surface, take out the dough and lightly knead it for two minutes. Lift up the sides and fold it back again. Taper the ends giving it the shape of a loaf and cover with a cling wrap for another hour or until doubled. 
Pre-heat the oven at 200 degree celsius. With the help of a knife, make three insertions on the top at an angle of 30 degree. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on top and tapping on the top returns a hollow sound. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Slice the next day for a refreshingly fresh breakfast!                             
                               

Vegetable Manchow Soup

On a wintery rainy evening, the first thing that comes to your mind is pakoras with a hot cup of ginger tea. While there is nothing called winters in Singapore, the rainy season definitely pull the temperature down to pleasantly windy evenings. Although I was more inclined to make some spicy fries to go with this windy evening, my all-so-conscious hubby was in mood for some hot and spicy soup which not only serves his controlled diet but also his taste buds. The best answer to all his needs is this spicy tangy veg manchow soup, sans the crispy noodles and chilli oil.

Ingredients
2 cups assorted vegetables chopped (beans, carrot, corn, cabbage, capsicum or anything of your choice)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 inch piece ginger, chopped
2 spring onion whites, chopped
1 sprig coriander leaves, chopped
1/2 medium sized tomato, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp chilli sauce
2 tsp vinegar
3 tbsp cornflour mixed in 1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth/water
2 spring onion greens for garnishing
1 tbsp oil

Direction
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and add the onion whites, coriander, ginger, and garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Add the assorted vegetables and fry for another 5-7 minutes till tender. Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the soy sauce, chilli sauce, salt, pepper, and the broth or water. Bring to a boil and cover and cook till vegetables are cooked. Stir in the cornflour mix and bring to a boil. Finally, add the vinegar and simmer for few minutes. Check the seasoning and remove from heat. Serve with spring onions and crispy fried noodles and chilli oil. I skipped both due to my diet conscious partner! It tasted lip smacking anyway!
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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Leftover Delight III- Crispy Rice Cakes

Leftover rice is an issue in every kitchen. Especially among Hindus, rice is considered as Goddess Lakshmi and to let it go waste is unacceptable. However, to make the exact quantity of rice for the family is something which even our seniors cannot achieve at times. The result is a bowl of rice most commonly found in the refrigerator, sometimes a day old or sometimes a week. When in India, I used to use the leftover rice to feed the birds. However, I am not left with that option anymore in Singapore. So while surfing on the net for some interesting bake recipes, I chanced upon this recipe which was so simple and can be given numerous interesting variations. 

Ingredients
2 cups leftover rice, at least a day old
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 inch piece ginger, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp flour
2 tsp cornflour
1 egg (vegetarians can omit this)
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves, chopped
1+1 tbsp olive oil

Direction
In a pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and add the onions, ginger, and garlic and fry till golden brown. Add the rice and stir till there are no lumps and the oil has coated the rice properly. Add the dry spices and salt and fry for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.
In a bowl, beat the egg and add the flour, cornflour, and mix well till no lumps are formed. Add the rice and mix well. The mixture will be lumpy. With the back of the spoon, mash the rice a bit, if not completely. Add the coriander leaves and mix. In a pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil and put spoonfuls of the batter into the pan. Flatten with the back of the spoon like a cake and fry till golden brown on both sides. Drain excess oil on paper towels and serve hot with your favorite chutney or ketchup. 

                                       
                                       

This recipe is my entry to Cooking with Seeds (CWS) event - Rice
                                 
     


Melony Raspberry Fruit Cobbler

Baking is one of my favorite means of cooking. I had made a raspberry dessert recently and to garnish it, I had bought a pack of fresh raspberries. However, the dessert did not turn out as expected and so the pack of raspberries was lying in the fridge along with some fresh musk melon. With nothing to do today evening, I decided to try out this recipe found on Allrecipes and I was quite pleased with the result. The preparation time is exactly 10 minutes (probably even under 10)! How I love such easy recipes. It's just as simple as waving your magic wand!

Ingredients
3 tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
2 cups fruits (raspberry or strawberry or cranberry or peaches or any fruit of your choice)
1 tbsp white sugar 

Directions
Set the oven at 175 degree celsius. Take a 9 inch round or 8 inch square baking dish and put the butter in it. Place the dish in the oven in the upper middle rack and pre- heat the oven while at the same time melting the butter. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and make a smooth paste. Take out the dish from the oven and pour the batter into it. Arrange the fruit pieces carefully on top and sprinkle the 1 tbsp sugar. Bake for about 50 minutes or until golden brown on top and edges start coming off the sides. Serve hot or at room temperature with whipped cream or a dollop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy your deluciously easy cakey fruit cobbler.
                                   
                                   


Monday, 2 December 2013

Palak/Spinach Chicken

Greens should be a part of our regular diet as they are very rich in iron among other goodies. However, green is not a very favorite color of mine when it comes to veggies. Spinach is an exception though. Today's recipe is a very easy one and the source is from our very own Sanjeev Kapoor. The highlight of this recipe is the health factor. So without much ado, here is the simple route to yummy palak chicken.

Ingredients
250 gms chicken (I used boneless)
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 inch piece ginger chopped
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
2 each of bay leaf, cardamom, and cloves
4-5 peppercorns
Salt to taste
2 cups spinach shredded
1 tbsp mustard oil
Fried onions for garnishing

Direction
Wash and cut the chicken and keep aside. In an pan, heat oil till smoky hot. Add bay leaf, peppercorns, cardamom, and cloves and fry for a minute. Add chopped onions, ginger, and garlic and fry till golden brown. Add the chicken pieces and the dry spices except garam masala. Add a little salt and fry till the chicken pieces are golden brown and the spices start leaving oil. Add the yogurt one tbsp at a time and fry. Add the shredded spinach and cover and cook on medium heat till the spinach is wilted and mashed. Add garam masala and cook without cover till gravy dries up. Serve hot with plain rice/roti.
                                      
                                      


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Seviyan Upma (Vermicelli Upma)

Breakfast is a challenge for most people. It becomes more of a challenge on weekdays when you have to prepare quickies for people going out as well as for people staying back at home. However, getting up in the morning and to think of cooking something which would please one and all and also easy to prepare is a difficult task. I face this challenge regularly and now have come to terms with it. On most days, I bake some takeaway goodies like pies and stuffed breads which can be easily warmed in the microwave. Today's recipe is a super quick recipe and takes exactly 15 minutes to prepare. The recipe was shared by my sister in law Archita long back and ever since it has become a regular in my kitchen. The best part is even my baby enjoys it and eats it happily. What else can you ask for!

Ingredients
1-2 cups vermicelli (seviyan)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, roasted
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste


Directions
In a pan, bring some water to boil and cook the seviyan till just soft, about 5-7 minutes. In another pan, heat the oil and crackle the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the onions and fry till translucent. Add the roasted peanuts and fry for sometime. At this time, you can add some chopped veggies as well. I skipped as my baby does not like chunky food. 
Meanwhile, drain the water from the cooked seviyan and run it through cold water. Now add the drained seviyan to the pan and mix well. Add salt and stir. Remove from heat and serve hot. 

                                            


Saturday, 30 November 2013

Tomato Onion Chutney

It often happens that my family sits down to enjoy some homemade dosas and idlis but I have nothing to serve them for chutney. This time around I prepared my meal in advance and made sure I serve them a complete meal. So here is a quick and easy to make onion tomato chutney.

Ingredients
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 dry red chillies
1/4 cup grated coconut
1 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
Oil 

Directions
In a pan, heat the oil and fry the onions and garlic till onions are translucent and garlic leaves a nice aroma. Add the red chillies and tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes become mushy. Add the coconut and fry some more time. It should not become too dry. Season with salt as per your taste and remove from heat. Cool. Transfer it to a blender and make a fine paste. In another pan, heat about 1 tsp oil and add curry leaves and mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add it to the blended chutney. Serve. You can chill it in the refrigerator for 1 week. Serve with your favorite dosa, idli, or uttapam.

                                    



Friday, 29 November 2013

Mushroom Matar Masala (Mushroom and Peas Curry)

I always stay quite confused with this particular Fungi and very often end up using it in just soups or noodles and fried rice. I haven't ever tried making it into a curry, an Indian one at that. Today, there is a dinner invite and since I had no groceries in the fridge except for a pack of mushrooms, I thought of going the traditional way of making some mushroom fried rice. However, there was this streak of lightening and suddenly my cooking keera (pest) insisted on making something new. I quickly picked up some tomatoes from the nearby supermarket and in less than half hour prepared this wonderfully yummy and superbly easy Mushroom Matar Masala. You can add some cashew paste and cream to it as well to make it rich. I am already quite rich in those "love handles" and didn't want to increase my wealth any further!

Ingredients
8-9 button mushrooms thinly sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup frozen/fresh peas
3 heaped tsp yogurt, whipped
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp crushed kasuri methi
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 nos each of cardamom, cinnamon, clove
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp mustard oil
Coriander leaves and fried onions for garnishing

Directions
Clean and wash the mushrooms and keep aside.
In a pan, heat the mustard oil till smoky hot and add the bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. Add the cumin seeds and let it crackle. Fry the onions till translucent. Add the tomatoes and fry till the water evaporates. Add the peas and fry for few more minutes. Now add the dry spices and keep stirring until oil separates from the side. Add about half cup warm water and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms and mix well. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes on medium heat. Now add the whipped yogurt, salt, garam masala, and kasuri methi. Stir. Keep covered on low heat until the gravy dries up a bit while stirring occasionally. Check for seasoning and remove from heat. Garnish with coriander leaves and fried onions. Serve hot with rice, rotis, or pulao.
                                    





   

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Herbed Focaccia with Juicy Chicken Stuffing

Wow! That's the first thought that came to my mind when I took the first bite of this perfectly baked delight. I had called over a friend for dinner (who also shares the same plight as mine with husband touring most of the time) and wanted to bake something with chicken. I went through a big array of blogs and sites looking for the "this is it" recipe. However, nothing seemed to impress me. Everywhere it was the same old grills and pies or pizza recipes but nothing that really made me jump into action. Finally, when I had almost made up my mind with a simple quiche, I chanced upon this interesting recipe which would not only serve as a whole meal in itself but also give me the chance of experimenting something new. I had found my "this is it" recipe. While I stuck to the recipe for the focaccia, I did the stuffing differently to give a variation to the original recipe. It was a huge hit and I was a happy baker!

Ingredients
For the Focaccia
2 1/2 cups bread flour (or 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour and 3 tbsp wheat gluten)
1 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water (a little less than that in actuals)
2 tbsp olive oil

For the stuffing
1 cup boneless chicken, boiled and shredded
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 medium onion thinly slced
1/2 inch ginger finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
Fresh coriander leaves chopped
1/2 cup mixed bell peppers, chopped
1 fresh red/green chilli finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil

For the topping
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
Few slices of tomato (preferably cherry tomatoes; I used regular ones)
Coarse salt for sprinkling

Direction
In a bowl, add the warm water, sugar, and yeast and let it stand for about 10 minutes till it starts frothing. In a separate bowl, take the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture little at a time and knead a soft non sticky dough. Add the olive oil and continue kneading for another 5-10 minutes till you have a soft elastic dough. If you find the dough too sticky, you can add 1-2 tbsp additional flour. You can transfer the dough on a lightly floured surface for more comfortable kneading. I prefer doing it in the working bowl. Once the dough is done, lightly grease the bowl and cover the dough in a cling wrap. Keep it in a warm place, probably the microwave or the oven, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours till the dough doubles in size. 
While the dough is proofing, prepare the chicken stuffing. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil and fry the onions till translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, and chopped chillies. Sauté for sometime. Add the three sauces and stir in the shredded chicken. Mix well. Lastly, add the bell peppers and give a stir and remove from heat. Cover and keep aside. Reserve the coriander leaves for last minute addition. 
Meanwhile, your dough must be ready for the second proofing. Punch out the air from the dough without overdoing it and divide the dough into two halves. Keep a greased baking dish ready by the side. Take a cookie sheet and placing one of the dough halves on it, roll it out into a circle. Make sure you roll the dough uniformly and big enough since it will shrink a bit once placed on the greased baking dish. Now evenly spread the stuffing onto the rolled out dough placed on the baking dish. Sprinkle the coriander leaves on top generously. Note that no salt was added to the stuffing as the sauces already contain a fair amount of it. However, check the seasoning as per your taste and liking. Roll out the other half of the dough in a similar fashion and place it on top of the stuffing and seal the edges. You might notice some air bubble between the two rolled out sheets. Gently press the top of the baking dish with the cookie sheet you used for rolling out the dough and let the air bubble release. Cover tightly with either the cookie sheet or a cling wrap and keep aside in a warm place for 45 minutes for the second proofing. 
Mix everything for the topping except the tomatoes and the salt and keep aside. Pre-heat the oven at 175 degree celsius on toast mode. Take out the baking dish and with your fingers, imprint small dimples on the dough. Arrange the tomato slices on the top and finish with generously pouring the olive oil topping. Sprinkle salt and bake for 25-30 minutes until a golden crust is formed. Serve warm.
                                         
                                         

  

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Nankhatai

As a child, nankhatai was my first introduction to homemade cookies. Mom used to make them often and me, without caring about the calories, would simply gobble them up. However, as I grew up, the calories consumed then starting showing up on my waistline. Nankhatais became non-existent in the household. Time passed by and while I got busy with other stuff, I almost forgot about this simple Indian cookie until recently when I came across a few blog posts posting its recipes. My husband is not a big fan of baked goodies but I decided to make them anyway, if not for anyone else but for myself.

Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup semolina (sooji)
1/2 cup gram flour (besan)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup ghee (or as much required for kneading the dough)
Cardamom and pistachio crushed

Directions
Mix together all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour the ghee. Make a soft crumbly dough with just enough ghee to put it all together. Cover the dough in a cling wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Prepare a baking sheet and make small balls. Slightly flatten the balls with your palm and make an indentation in the center. Put some crushed elaichi and pistachio and arrange it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of the dough. Keep the baking tray again in the refrigerator for 15 minutes while pre-heating the oven at 175 degree celsius. Bake the nankhatais for 12-15 minutes and cool on a wire rack before transferring to air tight containers.

                                         

Monday, 25 November 2013

Choco Chip and Raisin Sweet Coffee Buns

Last evening, I was not in the mood to do any cooking and so decided to get a takeaway from one of the local eateries. I wasn't in the mood for any heavy meal and so picked up some coffee raisin buns for myself while husband decided to binge on some fresh fruits. One bite into the buns and I immediately knew my next baking experiment. Thankfully, I had a recipe to refer to from my friend Farrukh's blog. The result is a restaurant-quality super soft and yummy coffee bun which you can eat any time of the day. 

Ingredients (Makes 12 medium sized buns)
41/2 cup bread flour (or 4 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 cup wheat gluten)
2 tsp instant yeast
250 ml warm milk
1 egg
3 tsp instant coffee
1/3 cup castor sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter plus more for brushing 

For the filling
Choco chip and raisins

Directions
In a bowl, mix butter, milk, and sugar. Add 1/2 cup flour and yeast and make a smooth paste. Keep aside covered in a warm place for 45 minutes.
In a separate bowl, take the flour and salt and mix well. Add the remaining sugar and mix. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture, egg and knead well to a soft and non-sticky dough. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for another ten minutes. Apply a little oil on the dough and cover with cling wrap. Keep in a warm place and let it rise for 2-21/2 hours or until double in size.
Once the dough has proofed, take it out on a floured surface and lightly knead the dough for few more minutes. Prepare a baking sheet. Take large lemon sized balls and make a small indentation in the center. Add about a teaspoon of the filling and close again into a ball. Repeat the process for the rest of the dough. Line all the balls on the baking sheet about an inch apart and keep it covered with a cling wrap for another 45 minutes for the second proofing. 
Pre-heat the oven at 180 degree celsius on the toast mode (both the rods heated).
Brush the buns (which would have again doubled in size) with some milk and bake in the toast mode for 10-12 minutes until golden on top. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter while still hot and cover with a kitchen towel for few minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Your super soft buns are ready to be devoured.
                                           
                                           



Dahi Baingan (Brinjal/Aubergine in Yogurt Sauce)

Brinjal is not quite one of the vegetables that I look forward to eating. However, this recipe by one of my blogger friends, Farrukh Shadab, definitely inspired me to make this dish and, I must admit, I am quite happy with the result. If you love brinjal, then this recipe is a must try for you. If you don't, even then you should give it a try, like I did, and completely fell in love with it.

Ingredients
3 brinjals, the long variety
3 tbsp yogurt, whipped
1 tsp grated ginger or ginger powder
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp fennel powder
5 cardamoms
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing
Salt to taste
Oil

Directions
Slit the brinjals length wise and keep aside. In a medium skillet, heat the oil and shallow fry the brinjals. Remove from oil and keep aside. In the same oil, add the hing and the cardamoms. Fry for few seconds. Add the dry spices, chilli powder, turmeric powder, fennel powder and very little water and fry till the paste starts leaving oil. Tip in the fried brinjals and give a light stir. Ensure that the brinjals do not get mushy. Now add the beaten yogurt and mix well. Add salt and sugar and cover cook on low heat for some time till the gravy gets dry. Remove from heat and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with plain rice or roti.
                                        



Saturday, 23 November 2013

Dal Makhani

There must have been umpteen times when you have had dal makhani in Indian restaurants and might have tried to recreate it at home as well. While I have made this a few times previously as well, but wasn't able to recreate the restaurant quality taste. This recipe is an update of my previously posted recipe as I found the taste and texture amazingly better than my previous attempt. I did a few alterations with the procedure and the ingredients and the result I am sharing with you today as I am fully satisfied and happy with my changes. So here is the "tried and tested" Dal Makhani recipe through my Experiments with Food!
                                      


Ingredients
1 cup black urad dal
1/4 cup rajma
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
6 tbsp tomato puree (I prefer store bought)
1/2 cup cream, divided
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp kasuri methi crushed
Salt to taste
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil or any other refined oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
Chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
1-2 tbsp fried onions for garnishing (you can use cream as well; I didn't want to make it heavier)

Directions
Wash and clean and soak the urad dal and rajma overnight with sufficient water.
In a pressure cooker, put the washed and drained pulses and pressure cook with sufficient water until tender. Remove from heat and let the pressure release on its own.
In a medium skillet, heat the butter and oil and add the cumin seeds and let it crackle. Add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Add the tomato puree and fry till the water dries up and oil starts separating. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry further. Now tip in the salt, coriander powder, red chilli powder, and garam masala and stir for few more minutes. Add the boiled daal and mash it a bit with the back of the spoon. Bring it to a boil and add the cream. Give a good stir and simmer and cover cook for 5-10 minutes. Add the crushed kasuri methi and check for seasoning. If you find the gravy too thick, you can add 1/2 cup warm water. Also, if you intend to have it a few hours later, the daal will get a little thicker and so adjust the water accordingly. Remove from heat and garnish with coriander leaves and fried onions (or cream). Serve with roti, naan, rice or pulao. 

                                     
                                               



Thursday, 21 November 2013

Leftover Delight II- Khichdi Thepla

Continuing from yesterday's post where I shared a simple recipe for kababs made with leftover legumes, today I take on another common leftover dish, the popular Indian Khichdi. When I first came across this recipe, I wasn't quite sure of the results. However, after tasting it and even more than that, seeing my baby enjoy it, I was totally satisfied with my effort (though there isn't much involved apart from the kneading). I hope you and your family will enjoy this totally refurbished Khichdi "Thepla".

Ingredients
Leftover khichdi
1 tsp red chilli powder
Juice of half a lemon (I skipped it as my baby doesn't like sour taste)
1/2 tsp salt (depending on the seasoning of your khichdi)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ginger-garlic, finely grated or paste
1 tbsp olive oil (for a healthier version)
2-3 cups whole wheat flour for kneading (depending on the quantity of your khichdi)

Directions
In a bowl, pour the leftover khichdi and mix all other ingredients except the flour. If your khichdi is a little too watery, ensure that you dry up the water without hardening the rice and lentils before proceeding to this step. Now add the wheat flour little at a time till everything gets kneaded into a non-sticky yet moist dough. The dough won't be as dry as a chapati dough, but should be non-sticky. Rub your palms with a little oil and gently rub it on the exterior of the dough and keep it covered in a warm place for about an hour.
Heat a non-stick girdle and take a small quantity of the prepared dough and gently roll it thin on a floured surface. This will require a little extra flour while rolling as the dough will now become sticky. The individual balls have to be rolled thinner than a chapati. Cook it on the heated girdle applying a little oil on both sides and turning intermittently to ensure uniform browning just like you make parathas. Enjoy hot with your favorite pickle or raita.

                                         



Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Leftover Delight- Mini Kababs

Leftovers are a dilemma in every kitchen. Dilemma, because as a cook, you know the hard work that goes into making a dish as well as the costs involved (thanks to the rising inflation) and at the same time you do not want to present the same dish again to your family who eagerly wait for that one relaxed meal of the day. With today's recipe, leftovers will no longer be a dilemma at least with curries involving peas and beans (chole or chick peas, rajma or kidney beans, black chana, or green peas). I had half a bowl of green peas curry leftover from last night's dinner and today made these superbly easy and tasty kababs in just under half an hour. Now isn't that a leftover delight!

Ingredients
Leftover chole, or green peas curry, or rajma or the like
2 tsp maida
2 tsp cornflour
Handful of coriander leaves chopped
Oil for frying 

Directions
Heat a skillet and dry out the water from your leftover curry till just the base gravy remains (onions, tomatoes or the base with which you have prepared the curry). Remove from heat and cool. Transfer the dried gravy onto a blender and make a smooth paste. In a separate bowl, add the maida and cornflour and add the blended paste. Mix well with your hands. Tip in the coriander and mix once again. Now, take a toothpick and with a small quantity of the mixture make a cylindrical kabab around the stick leaving the ends free. Repeat for the rest of the mixture and fry on medium heat until evenly browned on all sides. Enjoy!
                                          

Tutti Fruity Blueberry Orange Muffins

While the original plan was to make some macaroons, I ended up making these delicious fruity muffins as the blueberries have been sitting for quite some time in the fridge and I wasn't sure if they will last longer. This recipe has also put to test my cake making skills as I wasn't following any particular recipe. Baking is an art and requires perfect measurements for the perfect result. I am glad to know that I am not that bad a baker! :)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar (can be replaced by white sugar)
1/2 cup oil (or 1 stick softened butter)
2 tsp dried orange peel, finely chopped
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup tutti fruity chunks, floured to avoid sinking at the bottom
1/2 cup fresh/dried blueberries 
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Almond silvers for garnishing on top (optional)

Directions
Pre-heat the oven at 175 degree celsius and line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cups.

In a bowl, beat the sugar and oil till light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and whip further. Add the orange zest, juice, vanilla essence and beat further at medium speed if using a hand blender. Now fold in the flour and baking powder little at a time and beat to a smooth consistency. Be sure not to overdo it. At this point, keep aside the blender and with the help of a spatula fold in the floured fruit bits followed by the blueberries. Give a gentle stir so that everything gets mixed well without overdoing it. Pour the batter with the help of a tablespoon till half of a paper cup leaving space for it to rise. Sprinkle with almond silvers. Repeat for the rest of the paper cups. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let it cool on an iron rack before transferring to air-tight containers. Can be refrigerated for up to a week. Warm in the microwave for 10-20 secs before serving.

                                        

Monday, 18 November 2013

A British Classic- Shepherd's Pie

It's always interesting to cook new recipes, especially classic ones which you have only read about but never tried. Today's recipe is a classic British pie, traditionally made with minced beef or lamb. Since we do not eat beef and didn't have lamb at hand, I decided to try it with minced chicken. There are also a few tweaks included, which makes this dish "no one can have just one" type of a dish. It is extremely simple and serves as a great meal in itself, served with some salad or pita bread. 

Ingredients
350 gms minced chicken
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium capsicum, chopped
1/2 cup frozen/fresh peas
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
5 medium potatoes, boiled
1/4 cup milk 
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp curry powder (I used pav bhaji masala; you can use any curry powder of your choice like meat masala or something similar)
1 cube knorr chicken broth, mixed in 1/2 cup warm water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions
In a medium skillet, heat the oil and fry the onions and garlic till the onions are translucent. Add the chopped capsicum, carrots, and peas and fry for 5-7 minutes. Add the minced chicken and continue stirring till the chicken gets evenly broken and pink. Now add the sauces and the curry powder and give a good stir. Tip in the chicken broth and mix well. Cover and cook till the chicken is tender. Lastly, add the cornflour mix and cook uncovered till the gravy thickens. Add salt and pepper, although I did not find it necessary to add further salt as per my taste. Remove from heat and cool.
In a separate bowl, take the boiled potatoes and mash it with the back of a fork. Add the milk and butter and mash further. It is easier and better to use a hand blender at this point to ensure a creamy texture. Add one beaten egg and whip further. Add a little salt, pepper, and oregano and mix well. If you find the texture too thick you can add 1-2 tbsp milk. 
Pre-heat the oven in the broiler mode. Take a square casserole dish and lay out the minced chicken mixture spreading evenly. Top it with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle grated parmesan on top. Broil it for 10-12 minutes or until you get a golden crust on top. Serve it with a salad if your choice or enjoy it as a meal in itself. 
                                       
                                   


Friday, 15 November 2013

Baingan ka Bharta (Brinjal/Aubergine Mash)

It happens some times in life that you forget things, which you so loved and longed for at one point in time, totally slips from your mind and then one fine day when you rediscover your love for those things, nostalgia sets in and your memories from the past start flashing in front of your eyes as if it was just yesterday. Last evening as I went to the supermarket to fetch milk for my baby, I suddenly noticed a beautiful stout brinjal. It was as if it was calling out to me to come and pick it up (seriously!). I knew immediately what I want to make out of it. My long forgotten most favorite dish, baingan ka bharta. My husband also seemed quite excited to hear his next day's dinner as I haven't cooked this since 2 years. It is so simple to make and yet I could not find time to make it in all these years. This is what you call "simple joys of life".

Ingredients
1 stout "beautiful" brinjal
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2-inch piece ginger, chopped
2 greed chillies, chopped
Coriander leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt or to taste
Mustard oil for sautéing and a little to rub on the brinjal 

Directions
Take a small amount of mustard oil in your palm and rub it on the washed and dried brinjal. This will help you to take out the skin easily after roasting it. 
Using an iron mesh, put the brinjal directly on the gas stove on medium high. Keep turning frequently to ensure uniform roasting. After some time the juices from the brinjal will start oozing out and the skin will get a charred look. Check the brinjal thoroughly with a knife for any uncooked side by making small insertions. The brinjal will most likely remain a little uncooked towards the bottom. For that, move the iron mesh a little away from the heat so that only the uncooked part remains on fire. Keep turning the sides till it is completely cooked. Remove from the heat and place it on a plate and let it cool. Next, slowly scrap off the skin with your hands until completely clean and no charred bits remain on the brinjal.
In a skillet, heat about 1 tsp oil and add the onions. Fry till translucent and then add the ginger and chopped chillies. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Next,add the tomatoes and fry some more time. Add the turmeric and salt and mix everything well. Mash the roasted brinjal with your hands and add it to this mixture. Stir well so that everything gets evenly mixed. Lastly, add the chopped coriander and remove from heat. Serve hot with roti or rice.

                                        



Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Vegetable and Sausage Bake

What do you do when you have a pack of sausages lying in the freezer for quite some time and there are no takers for it? Well, here is the answer. A healthy, nutritious, and easy-to-make no fuss vegetable and sausage bake. You can enjoy it with your gang of friends over coffee, serve it as a party appetiser, or as a light yet filling dinner served with some steaming hot soup. Choice is yours!

Ingredients
3 eggs
2 cups yogurt, beaten
1/2 + 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups frozen/fresh cut vegetables (carrot, peas, beans, corn)
3-4 sausages, sliced
Olive oil for sautéing and greasing
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Directions
Pre-heat the oven at 175 degree celsius. Grease a flat baking dish and keep aside.
In a medium skillet, heat a little oil and sauté the onions till translucent. Add the minced garlic and fry till fragrant. Add the chopped veggies and the sausages and fry for 3-5 minutes till the sausages get a little soft. Season with salt and oregano. Remove from heat and cool.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and yogurt till smooth. Add the flour and the cheese and mix well. Season with salt, pepper, and red chilli flakes. Be a little cautious with the salt as you have already added in the veggie mixture and the sausages will contain a bit as well as the cheese. Add the slightly cooled veggie and sausage mix and give a good stir. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking dish and garnish with fresh parsley. With a fork, lightly coat the parsley leaves with the batter to avoid getting the leaves burnt. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes till it is golden brown on top, sides coming off the baking dish, and has passed the toothpick test. Remove from the oven and let it rest in the baking dish for 5 minutes. Turn the dish onto a plate and then to another one so that it is in bottoms down position again. Cut into squares and let it cool on a wire rack to avoid a soggy bottom. 

                                        
                               
             
  
 
   

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Fusion Meal- Pita Bread with Dhaba-Style Chicken Keema

Today's world is a world of fusion. Fusion music, fusion fashion, and so on. So I thought why not Fusion meal. The original plan was to serve dhaba-style chicken keema with hot phulkas. However, while surfing the internet, I came across this very interesting yet easy pita bread recipe and I immediately got onto the job (given the fact that I had an open sachet of instant dry yeast and I did not want it to go waste). So here is the dual recipe for both pita bread and the chicken keema.

Ingredients
For the Pita Bread (makes 8 breads)
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour (you may make it 1 cup by reducing the quantity for APF)
1 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried parsley 
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp olive/vegetable oil

For the Chicken Keema
500 gms minced chicken
1 bay leaf
3-4 green cardamom
2 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 big onion, chopped
2 big tomatoes, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp each of turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, garam masala powder
A pinch of hing
1/2 tsp sugar
2-3 chillies, chopped
Salt to taste
1 egg
2 tbsp oil
A handful of chopped coriander
A handful of fried onions for garnishing

Directions
Start with preparing for the pita dough. For that, put the sugar in warm water and add yeast and let it stand for ten minutes. A creamy froth should appear. Meanwhile, mix all the dry ingredients with the flour and then add the oil and the yeast mix and knead a smooth but non-sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and continue kneading for 5-10 minutes. Transfer the dough back to the working bowl and cover and keep it in a warm place for 1.5 hours (microwave is a good place to keep).
We can now start with the keema. Heat oil in a skillet. Splutter the cumin seeds and add the bay leaf, cardamom, and cloves. Next, add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Add the tomatoes, the chopped chillies, ginger, and garlic and fry till the tomatoes are mushy. To this, add the bell pepper and fry till it is deglazed. Add all the dry spices together with the hing, salt, and sugar. Fry for another 3-5 minutes on high flame till it starts leaving oil. Now add the minced chicken and the milk and fry for 10 minutes until the masala and the chicken get well incorporated. Simmer the heat and cover cook for 10-15 more minutes or till the chicken is done and there are oil droplets (or fat) appearing on top. Now, beat the egg in a bowl and slowly add it to the chicken while stirring continuously. Continue stirring till the egg is mixed well and cooked. Finish by adding some chopped coriander and remove from heat. Add some fried onions before serving to enhance the taste.
                                       

By now, the pita bread has risen nicely. Take the dough on a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Pull out 8 balls of equal size from the dough and with the help of a rolling pin, roll out uniform circles of 7-8 inch diameter. Ensure that your circles aren't too thick or too thin and are uniform in breadth (just like in the case of pooris). This will help the pita bread to rise uniformly in the oven. Cover the rolled oyt circles with a kitchen towel and keep for 10-15 minutes to rise further. 
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven at 230 degree celsius. Line the wire rack (or grilling rack) with a cookie sheet and arrange the pita breads 3-4 at a time. Bake them in the pre-heated oven for 5-7 minutes till they puff up and have slight golden spots on the exterior. The second batch will cook faster, so be a little alert. Remove the pita breads from the oven and immediately put them in a brown paper bag (you can also use a thick newspaper) and wrap it tightly and let it cool until just warm. This is a crucial step as it will ensure super soft pitas. You can now cut the puffed pitas into half and give a filling of the chicken keema that you just prepared or have it whole. 
         
         


 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Fresh Blueberry and Almond Biscotti

The other day my Chinese neighbour gifted me a pack of fresh blueberries in return for the Diwali sweets I had given for her family. Since then, I have been getting anxious to do some baking with them. However,there is a family wedding coming up in December and I want to look a tad thinner in the saris that I would be wearing. So I asked my best friend (read Google) and pat came the answer. A healthy, nutritious alternative to cookies with no butter or oil required to bake them. Easy to make and guilt-free indulgence!

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (maida)
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp almond/vanilla essence
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (this can be replaced with dried/fresh cranberries, raisins, dates, etc.)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp lemon/orange zest

Directions
Pre-heat the oven at 175 degree celsius.
Mix the dry ingredients together with the almonds and the blueberries.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and almond essence. Add the dry mix little by little till a moist dough forms. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and slightly wetting your hands knead the dough for few more minutes. You may do this in the working bowl as well. Line a baking tray with cookie sheet. Make two giant sized cookies and place it on the tray. Make sure not to flatten the cookie much. At this point, you may dust the top with a bit of sugar for a crystallized effect (I skipped it). Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes or until firm and golden from outside. 
Take out the giant cookies from the oven. By now, they must have risen to a small mountain-like structure. With the help of an oven mitt, take a bread knife and gently cut out fingers from the cookies while they are still hot. Place the cut biscottis on a cookie sheet bottoms down for another 20 minutes at 150 degree celsius. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before transferring to an air tight container. Enjoy your guilt-free indulgence with your favorite cup of tea or coffee or as your mid-morning snack.
                                       



 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Chilli Paneer

Chinese dishes always are a favorite in every household and mine is no different. I found this very easy and simple chilli paneer recipe and thought of giving it a try, while slightly altering the ingredients from the original recipe.

Ingredients
250 gms paneer (cottage cheese)
1 medium onion, diced (you can also use baby onions, halved)
1 bell pepper, diced
4-5 cherry tomatoes (or 1 medium tomato, diced)
A handful of coriander leaves, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 fresh spicy green/red chilli, chopped
1 tbsp tomato chilli sauce
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp white sesame seeds (optional, I skipped it)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Directions
In an pan, heat the olive oil. Add the minced garlic and chillies. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the onions, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper. Fry till the onions become translucent and the tomatoes and bell peppers become soft. Add the sauces and stir well. Tip in the paneer cubes, salt, coriander leaves, and oregano. Coat everything well in the sauce. Simmer and cover cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve. I served it with veg fried rice topped with some fresh fried onions.

                                
                                           

  

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Smoked Chicken Sausage Pizza

Pizza has always been one of my favorite dishes but ironically, I hardly get to eat it. The reason being my husband who just hates it. So this week, while he is away, I am giving some priority to my likes and making myself feel good. I had some smoked chicken sausages lying in the fridge which will serve as the main topping for the pizza. You can use any topping that you have at hand. 

Ingredients (makes 1 large pizza)
For the pizza base
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/8 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 tbsp warm milk
1/8 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil (or any oil)

For the topping
6 tbsp medium spicy tomato salsa (you can use any tomato based sauce for this; i had this lying in the fridge)
1 pkt reduced fat cheese slices (you can use grated cheese as well; the quantity depends on your liking)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 smoked chicken sausages cut into small roundels
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup bell peppers (preferably, in all three colors)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
Salt to sprinkle on top

Directions
Take warm water and milk in a small bowl and add sugar and sprinkle in the yeast. Stir the mixture until yeast is dissolved and water has turned a tan color. Let it stand until foamy. This will take about 10 minutes. 
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt. Then add the yeast mixture and oil. Knead the dough till it is smooth, not sticky, when squeezed. Transfer to a clean surface and knead for another 5 to 10 minutes. You might need to add a little more flour if it is still quite sticky.

Grease a medium bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl, smooth side up. Cover tightly with a plastic wrap or aluminium foil and place in a warm spot (I kept in the microwave) until doubled in size, about 1hour. Remove the wrap and press your fist into the center of the dough to punch it down. Fold the dough back onto itself four or five times. Turn dough over, folded-side down, cover with plastic wrap, and return to the warm spot to rise again until the dough has doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Knead the dough four or five turns into a ball. Lightly flour a clean surface, place the dough, and pat into a flattened circle. Using your fingers, begin to flatten and push the dough evenly out from the center until it measures about 7 to 8 inches in diameter. Do not press the dough all the way to the edges. Leave a slightly raised border, about a half-inch wide, around entire circumference of pizza dough.

Preheat the oven for 20 minutes at 230 degree celsius. 
Arrange the pizza dough into a circle on top of a greased baking flat tray. Leaving the raised edge uncovered, pour the pizza sauce onto the dough. Using the back of a tablespoon, evenly spread the sauce leaving a half-inch border of dough uncovered. Arrange half of the cheese slices on top of the sauce and arrange all the other toppings. Cover with left over cheese slices.

Bake until the crust is golden brown and crisp on the edges and the bottom, 10-12 minutes. Using a pizza wheel, slice the pizza and serve immediately.