Thursday, 31 October 2013

Cashew and Almond Laddoo (Kaju Badam Laddoo)

I have always had a sweet tooth and Diwali is a time when I don't even think about the calories before taking a bite (well, when it comes to something sweet, I don't give a thought anyway!). While we do get all Indian sweets in Singapore, but this time I wanted to be a little adventurous and try making sweets at home. There is a popular food group in Facebook, Chef at Large, which I regularly follow. On the occasion of Diwali, there have been quite many posts of homemade sweets recipes and after reading one of them, I felt quite confident of being able to achieve the desired result. However, I forgot that the person posting the recipe is a pro and is certain to achieve the result. The kaju barfi that I made was undoubtedly super tasty, but I failed to give it any shape as it was too soft to lift. However, the members of my CAL family came to my rescue and gave me some superb suggestions which not only saved my barfis but also made them look a lot more sophisticated and delicious! So my Diwali message to you all is "Never Give Up". Wishing all my readers and their families a very happy and safe Diwali! 

1 cup cashew nuts
1 cup almonds, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
2 tsp cornflour
1-2 tbsp milk, for grinding the nuts
1/4 cup pistachio powder (grinded pistachio nuts)
1/4 cup almond powder
1/2 tsp almond essence (you can replace it with cardamom powder)
1 tbsp ghee
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Mini cupcake wrappers

Peel the almonds. In a grinder, put the cashew, almonds, cornflour, and a little milk and make a fine paste. Add very little milk, only if required. 
In a heavy bottomed non-stick pan, add the water and sugar and make the sugar syrup. The syrup will be perfectly done when you put a thumb behind the stirring spoon and can pull out a single string with another finger. Add the nut paste you have just prepared and keep stirring continuosly to make an even consistency. Add the essence and 1 tbsp ghee. Keep stirring on low flame till the mass starts leaving the sides of the pan. Meanwhile, grease a flat surface with very little ghee and keep aside. Transfer the cashew and almond mix into the greased surface and smoothen the top with a plastic knife or rolling pin with a plastic sheet below. Let the mixture cool completely. You can also refrigerate it for a few hours if it is a little too soft even after cooling. 
In a small bowl, mix the pistachio and almond powder. Make small balls out of the cashew and almond paste and roll it in the pista-almond powder and arrange in mini cupcake wrappers. Your diwali sweets are ready to be served !


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Baked Chicken and Veggie Delight

Chicken curries can sometimes get boring and we start looking out for some interesting recipes which are healthy as well as tasty, not to mention the ease of cooking. Today's recipe is just that and especially dedicated to people like me who are always pressed for time and ease.

300 gms boneless chicken fillet (you can use with bones as well; this is what I had in hand)
1/4 cup sliced button mushroom
1/4 cup baby carrots, slit lengthwise 
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup brocoli florets
1/2 cup bell peppers (you can use all three colors or whatever you have in hand)
1 medium potato cut lengthwise
1/2 tsp ginger grated
1/2 tsp garlic grated
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 tsp dried parsley 
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chilli flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil
Aluminium foil

In a oven safe dish, place the washed and cut chicken fillet pieces. Add the veggies and all other ingredients and mix it well. Cover with an aluminium foil and keep it in the refrigerator for at least two hours. 
Pre-heat the oven at 200 degree Celsius. Bake the chicken and veggie mix for 35-40 minutes, giving a stir once halfway. Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes so that the liquid gets a little dry and the veggies and the chicken get a nice brown crust. Serve with your choice of herbed rice or pasta.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Shorsher Illish- Steamed Hilsa in Mustard Sauce (Microwave Version)

In Singapore, the one fish which I have learnt to make, and now quite good at it, is Hilsa or Illish as they call it in bengali. The supermarket next to my house sells fresh Milk Fish (as they call it here) from Philippines and is quite a tasty buy. The recipe that I am sharing here was taught to me by my bengali cook back in Mumbai. Although I never cared to try it there, it's a hit in my household now and surprisingly my baby likes it too! This dish has never failed me and I am sure it won't fail you too.

1 medium sized Hilsa fish, cut into medium sized fillets (approximately 6-8 fillets)
3 tbsp mustard seeds, soaked in water for around an hour
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 medium sized tomato, chopped (you can replace this with 1 tbsp yogurt)
2-3 fresh green/red chillies, chopped 
1/2-inch piece ginger, chopped
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp turmeric powder
Coriander leaves for garnshing
1 tbsp mustard oil (please do not replace it with any other oil. You might skip it as well if you want an oil free version)

Take a clean medium sized microwave safe bowl. Wash and clean the fish and arrange it in the bowl in a single layer. Make sure there is no overlap. Add the salt and turmeric and rub it on both sides of the fish. Keep aside. 
Strain the soaked mustard seeds through a sieve for 3-4 times to ensure it is nicely cleaned. In a wet grinder, add the mustard seeds, onions, tomato, ginger, and green chillies (if you are using yogurt, you can add it now). You might add a little water as well. I didn't add any water as the tomatoes were quite juicy. Once the paste is done, pour it into the fish lined out in the bowl. With your hands, mix everything very well so that every fillet gets a fair share of the paste. Add the mustard oil gently over the fish fillets which have been arranged back in place now. Sprinkle coriander leaves. Take a cling wrap and cover the bowl nicely making sure there are no loose ends. Leave it like this for at least an hour (you can skip this step if you are pressed for time; else, if you are getting the dish ready for dinner, you can do it all and just put in the refrigerator and take out 1 hour prior to cooking). About 10-15 minutes before serving the meal, put the prepared bowl into the microwave and cook it on high for 6-7 minutes. Serve hot with plain rice. 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Kiddy Special- Egg Dosa

The last few weeks had been really hectic. My sister from India was visiting me during Durga Pooja and stayed with us with her family. As it happens with guests, there was a lot of shopping, sightseeing, and chatting happening in the household. Right after my sister left, my husband's touring started all over again and I was left with a fussy baby who was deeply upset with her cousins' departure. As such, I was so tired and stressed out I just didn't have any patience to try any new dish. However, being the mother of a picky or rather a moody eater, I could not stay away from cooking for too long. So here's a special kiddy dish which adults can enjoy as well. 

1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1 cup water
3 eggs (for serving 7-8 dosas)
1 tsp salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1-inch piece ginger grated
Coriander leaves, finely chopped

In a bowl, take the besan, salt, and water and mix well. Keep aside for half hour.
Add the eggs and whisk well. Next add the onions, ginger, coriander, and green chillies and mix well.
In an girdle or dosa tawa, add a little oil and add spoonfuls of a round laddle and spread like an omelette (the consistency should be like that of an omelette). Pour a little more oil on top and let it brown on one side. Then flip. Serve with chutney or ketchup of your choice. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Superlicious Brownie Almond Butter Cake

It has been a month since I started blogging and I am thoroughly enjoying it. What started off as a means of collecting tried and tested recipes, has now become an integral part of my daily routine. Ever since I became a Mommy, the only thing I thought about was my baby. Now that I am thinking something else apart from caring for my baby (who will be turning two very soon) is a refreshing change. Today, to celebrate my newly found passion as well as my month-long blogging, I have baked a yummy brownie butter cake and I feel quite proud to say that this is by far the best cake I have ever baked! Thank you all for supporting and liking my recipes. Stay tuned!


For the Brownie
5 oz dark chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup all purpose flour 

For the Butter Cake
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 tbsp milk
Sliced almonds for the topping (optional)

Grease an aluminium foil and line it inside a baking loaf tin in such a way that it fits perfectly into the tin.
Preheat the oven to 175 degree Celsius.
In a bowl, melt the chocolate and the butter either in the microwave for 1 minute or on a low flame. Keep aside and let it cool for a while. Beat in the brown sugar and mix until a smooth paste is formed. Add the egg and beat again. Finally, fold in the flour and mix well scraping the sides. Transfer the brownie mix to the prepared baking dish and bake for 15 minutes at 180 degree Celsius. While inserting a toothpick you might see a few undone spots. Do not overcook. The brownie will be just perfect once it goes again into the oven with the butter cake mix.
While your brownie is in the oven, quickly prepare the butter cake mix. In a bowl, beat the butter (softened, not melted) and the sugar to a smooth paste. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and baking powder, alternating with milk, to make a smooth batter. Pour the butter cake batter over the hot brownie (very crucial and important) and smoothen the surface. Sprinkle some sliced almonds from the top to get a crunchy crust. Bake in the oven at 160 degree Celsius for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool. Your delicious brownie almond butter cake is ready to earn you compliments!


Monday, 7 October 2013

Paneer Korma in Coconut Gravy

Paneer has always been a challenge for me. Apart from a few regular dishes like palak paneer and paneer bhurji, I could never think of anything more interesting. However, it is no longer the case. My best friend in blogging (read Google) just introduced me to a superbly tasty paneer dish. While there are variations to this recipe using slightly different ingredients, I tried the recipe which is low in calories and high on taste, not to mention the ease of cooking.

300 gms paneer, cut into small chunks
2 tbsp yogurt, whipped
1/2 + 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 medium onions, chopped
2-3 garlic pods, flaked
1 inch ginger, grated/finely chopped
3-4 each of almonds and cashew nuts (almonds skin removed)
1 medium tomato chopped
2 dry red chillies
2 green cardamoms
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp kasuri methi, crushed
Coriander leaves for garnishing
1 + 1 tbsp oil

In a bowl, take the whipped yogurt and add salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder. Mix it well. Now, add the paneer cubes and coat them in the yogurt masala well. Marinate the paneer with the masala for an hour or so. In a pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and put the coated paneer pieces and fry them till all sides are golden brown. Remove from oil and keep aside.
In the same pan, heat another 1 tbsp oil and put cumin seeds and cardamoms. Crush the dry red chillies and add it to the oil. Now add onions, garlic, and ginger and fry till onions are translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 3-5 minutes. Put salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Add the dry nuts and fry for 2-3 minutes. Remove from flame and let the mixture cool for around 5-10 minutes. Now, put the ingredients in a blender and make a fine paste. Your korma sauce is ready. 
Pour it back in the pan. Pour the coconut milk and 1/4 cup warm water and cook till the sauce starts boiling. Now, add the fried paneer pieces and cook them for 2-3 minutes. Put garam masala and dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) and mix well. Garnish it with coriander leaves. Serve hot!


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Flavors of Rajasthan- Gatte ki Sabzi

Rajasthan is known for its superb cuisine and has a long list of speciality dishes. One such is Gatte ki Sabzi or gram flour cakes in spicy gravy. It gives a good change of taste and variety to our regular lunch or dinner menu. There are a lot of variations to this recipe. Here, I have done a combination of different recipes and the end result is a superb dish with rich rajasthani flavors.


For the Gatta
1 cup besan (gram flour)
1 tsp garlic paste/grated
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp kasuri methi, lightly roasted and crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp oil
Water to knead the dough
Oil for frying the gattas

For the Gravy
1 medium onion chopped
1 tomato chopped
1 tsp garlic paste/grated
2 tbsp whipped yogurt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp kasuri methi lightly roasted and crushed
Coriander leaves for garnishing
2 green chillies chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp oil

In a bowl, add all the ingredients for the gatta except water. Knead a stiff dough, adding little water at a time. Make small balls and roll into a cylindrical shapes (similar to sausages). Add these rolls to boiling water and let it remain till they become light and start floating (about 5-7 minutes). Remove and let it cool. You might notice a few cracks appearing in the rolls while boiling. This happens because the dough was not stiff enough. However, there is nothing to worry. Once cool, you can shape it back gently with your hands. Now cut small pieces out of these rolls and fry them on high heat till golden brown. Remove on paper towel and keep aside.

In another pan, heat the oil and add cumin seeds. Let it splutter and then add the chopped onions. Fry till golden brown and then add the garlic paste and chopped green chillies. Stir for sometime. Tip in the dry spices, that is, turmeric powder, black pepper powder, coriander powder, and kasuri methi. Fry everything well. Next, add the chopped tomatoes and fry on low flame till they become soft. Add the whipped yogurt, salt and mix well. Pour half a cup of water and simmer and bring to a boil. Lastly, add the gattas and let it cook for another 3-5 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with roti or plain rice.                            


Cholar Daal

Cholar daal (or chana daal) is a common dish served in most bengali households and mine is no different. While I always go in for a very simple version, sans the traditional ingredients, which makes it taste like any other daal I make on a regular basis, today since I had a little time at hand and also all the ingredients I decided to go for the traditional recipe with some minor tweaks.

1 cup chana daal
1/3 cup toor daal (this is my mother's variation of the original recipe which was passed on to her by her mom)
1 medium onion chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp desiccated/grated coconut  
1 each of bay leaf, cinnamon, and cardamom
2 dry red chillies
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tsp ghee
Salt to taste

Wash and soak the daal for about an hour. Later, pressure cook the daal with salt, turmeric powder, sugar, and bay leaf for 3-4 whistles. Remove from heat and let it cool.
In another pan, add the ghee, dry red chillies, cinnamon, cardamom, and cumin seeds and let it crackle. Add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Next, add the desiccated coconut and fry till the oil from the coconut starts separating. Tip in the grated ginger and fry for few more minutes. Add the chilli and garam masala powder and fry everything well. Lastly, add the boiled daal. With the back of the spatula, press down on the daal gently so that a part of it gets mashed and gives it a thick consistency. You do not need to mash the daal completely. Check for seasoning and let it simmer for few more minutes. Serve hot with puri, parantha, pulao, or just plain rice.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Kasuri Murgh

This blog has instilled in me an interest in cooking which I never had and I have started developing an interest in trying out new recipes and experimenting new ideas. Although this, many a times, results in disasters which have the bin as their fate, but success does come in most of the times and when it does, you feel ecstatic. This is one such recipe which left me very happy and satisfied after the trial. There are many things that you can tweak in this recipe, like using paneer instead of chicken. I skipped the high calorie ingredients a bit and settled for a healthier version, which was delectable as well.

500 gms chicken (with or without bones)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato chopped
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
3/4 cup yogurt, whipped
30 gms khoya (I skipped this)
4 tbsp fresh cream (I used just 2 tbsp)
4 tsp dry kasuri methi
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp black pepper powder
Juice of 1 lemon (medium)
1/2 cup warm water
3 green chillies, slit
2 each of cardamom, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves
Salt to taste

Marinade the chicken with salt, black pepper powder, lemon juice and keep aside for 30 mins.
In an pan, lightly dry roast the kasuri methi. Crush and keep aside.
In another pan, heat oil and add the whole garam masala, that is, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, and cloves. To this, add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Now add the chicken and fry till golden brown. Next, add the ginger-garlic paste, yogurt, khoya (if using), and the chopped tomatoes and fry till the water from the tomatoes dries up and they become mushy. Add the turmeric, chilli, and coriander powder and mix well. Add 1/2 cup warm water, salt, and garam masala powder. Lower the flame and cover and cook till the chicken becomes tender. Once done, add the cream, slit green chillies, and the kasuri methi and give it a good mix. Cover for few more minutes till the oil starts coming up on top. You can adjust the gravy as per your liking. Serve hot with roti/naan/kulcha.