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.

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

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!

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

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!

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

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


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.

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

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

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.

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

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!

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)

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".

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)

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!

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 

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! :)

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)

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. 

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

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".

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 

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!

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

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.

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

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!

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

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.

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

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

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.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Perfect Guava Scones

Baking is something which I truly enjoy. Till date, almost 95% of my attempts have been successful and today's recipe is one of them. I had some guavas lying in the fridge and didn't know what I can do with them (am not a fruit eater). So I quickly took help of my best friend (read Google) and she sorted out my problem in just .004 secs with this awesome scone recipe. For a first attempt at scones, I am totally proud of the results. Very easy to make and good to store as a takeaway breakfast item, you must give this recipe a try. You can also replace the guava of this recipe with a similar fruit like apples and pears.

Ingredients (8-10 servings)
1 medium guava, cut into small chunks
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (maida)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/3 cup butter, chilled
1 egg
1/3 cup full cream milk

Pre-heat the oven at 200 degree celsius.
Mix together the dry ingredients, that is, flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon powder,  and sugar. Keep aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Cut the butter into chunks and add. Whisk together till the mixture attains a crumbly texture. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients and mix well. If you find the mixture too dry, you can add an additional 1 tbsp of milk. The consistency should be lumpy and not that of cake batter. Finally, add the guava chunks and fold everything well. Line a baking tray with a cookie sheet and add lumps of the mixture with a tablespoon. The lumps should not be too big as it will raise further during baking. Bake the scones in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the scones are golden brown in color. Serve warm with tea or coffee or store in air-tight containers as a early morning takeaway breakfast. Very light and fluffy yet very filling to last you a good 2-3 hours. Enjoy!!

Baked Omelette with Tomato and Feta Cheese

This week, starting from today, I plan to observe a "only bake" theme in my kitchen. There are two reasons, of course. First, my husband is out of country for good 8 days and I am left with nothing much to do at home. Cooking for myself has always been quite boring. So in a bid to make this week interesting, I thought of honing my baking skills. As such, I love baking and is also a good time to experiment since I can then recreate the successful attempts when hubby is around and garner a few compliments. Secondly, Diwali has just got over and New Years is round the corner. It's now time to put a check on your diet and get back in shape to look stunning for the 31st night party. I hope you will enjoy my healthy and tasty baked goodies and return for more!

Ingredients (servings 1)
1 egg 
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp dried herbs (oregano/thyme/parsley/anything of your choice)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 slice of bread, cut into small chunks
A handful of chopped tomatoes
A handful of crumbled feta cheese (can be replaced with cottage cheese or paneer)
Salt to taste

Note: You can create a lot of variations with this recipe by adding veggies of your choice, buttering the bread slices, topping up with cheese, or anything that your imagination calls for!

Pre-heat the oven at 200 degree Celsius.
In a bowl, beat the egg and milk. Add all other ingredients except the bread. Mix well. Lightly grease a oven-safe dish and transfer the egg and milk mixture. Top it up with the bread chunks slightly pressing it down so that it gets lightly soaked in the egg milk mixture. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or till the bread chunks get well toasted and the egg is set. Your healthy and tasty breakfast is ready to be served with your favorite cup of tea or coffee.


Friday, 1 November 2013

Coconut Raisin Laddoo

This Diwali I am getting a little adventurous with cooking Indian sweets and I am totally loving the results. More so since my husband is all praises as well. In the previous years, I used to go all out in decorating the house with rangolis, diyas, and aroma candles in the entire house. However, this time with no decorations in the house (as my husband won't be around to see them), I thought of rather celebrating it by making some Indian sweets and gift packing them for friends as Diwali gifts. The kaju badam laddoos and these coconut laddoos are not only easy to make but really yummy to taste as well. 

350 gms grated fresh coconut
1/2 tin milkmaid (the entire contents may not be required)
2-3 tbsp brown sugar (can be replaced with white sugar)
Few strands of saffron soaked in little milk
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 cup raisins (just enough to ensure 1 raisin per laddoo)
1 tbsp ghee
3 tbsp almond powder (optional)
Mini cupcake wrappers

In a heavy bottomed non-stick kadhai or wok, heat the ghee and add the grated coconut. Stir for 5-10 minutes till the coconut gets slightly browned. Add the cardamom powder, milkmaid (little ar a time), and saffron. Mix well and stir for another 5-10 minutes till the water from the milkmaid dries up a little. At this moment, you can add some almond powder. Check for sweetness and adjust with some sugar as per taste. Add the raisins. Keep stirring till the mixture is dry enough to make into small balls. Remove from heat and let it cool. Take small quantity in your hands and make small balls by gently rubbing it between your palms. Arrange in mini cupcake wrappers and serve.