Friday, 28 February 2014

Herbed Chilli Garlic Bread

Breakfast is always such a pain for me. I find planning for lunch and dinner a whole lot easier than planning for breakfast, especially when your husband wakes up in the morning and, before anything else, that is the first thing that comes to his mind. I would not blame him for this though. He has to wake up everyday at 5.30 in the morning and move out for office at 6.30 without obviously any proper breakfast. So weekends are something that he looks forward to for some hearty meals and more so ever since I raised his expectation levels through my blog! So here is a rather simple bread which you can prepare one day ahead and serve it with your choice of accompaniment (I will be serving with some scrambled eggs, my husband's favorite). I have included a step-by-step pictorial description of the main stages of baking this beauty (I loved the way it looked fresh out of the oven).

2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
1 tsp instant active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp warm water (lukewarm)
3/4 cup warm milk (150 ml) 
Olive oil for brushing and a little for kneading (add as required)

For the Topping
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
2-3 cloves garlic finely minced
1 tsp red chilli flakes

In a bowl/cup, take the warm water and mix 1 tsp sugar and yeast till dissolved. Let it stand for 8-10 minutes until frothy and foamy.
In a bowl, add the flour and remaining sugar along with salt and mix well. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture. Now pour the milk, little at a time, and knead a smooth and soft dough. If you find the dough too sticky, add extra flour. Now oil your hands and add just a dash of oil to the dough and knead again on a clean surface (flour it if you need it) for 5-10 minutes. Wrap the dough in a cling wrap and keep in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Now take out the dough and carefully put it on a clean surface and knead it again for 5 minutes. If you are using a dish to place your bread for baking, grease it with little olive oil and keep it ready. Now gently give an oblong shape to the dough with your hands and keep it in the prepared dish for the second proofing for an hour or until doubled in size. Do not forget to wrap it with a cling wrap.
Meanwhile, in a bowl mix all the ingredients for the topping. With a sharp bread knife, make gentle cuts on the top. Do not go too deep, else the dough will deflate. Now with the help of a baking brush or similar, brush the topping on the top of the dough and keep a little aside for brushing again after taking the bread out of the oven. Now pre-heat the oven at the maximum temperature for 20 minutes and bake the bread at 180 degree celsius for 15 minutes without disturbing and then, after checking it once and brushing it with a little more olive oil, for another 10 minutes or until golden crust is formed. Make sure you keep a tray or bowl of warm water inside the oven while baking which helps achieve that golden crust. Remove from oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Brush the top with the olive oil topping that you had reserved and let it cool completely on a wire rack before transferring to air tight container.



Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Matar Paneer

Getting a beautiful color for the gravy is a challenge that most beginners face in the kitchen. In a bid to achieve that color, most people end up adding so many spices that eventually ruins the taste, though it might look the way they wanted it to be. This is a situation that I have faced many times in the past when I had just started off in the kitchen. The key to tasty and beautiful dishes, as I have learnt it, does not lie in the recipe. It lies within you and your patience to go through the crucial stages of cooking any dish. My paneer dishes have always lacked the color and consistency that I see in dishes prepared with the same recipe. I used to wonder the reason for the difference until recently when I realized where I was going wrong. Bhunoing (as it is called in Hindi) or frying the masalas until they leave a fragrant aroma and oil separating from the sides (you do not need to put extra oil to get that effect) is what gives Indian curries the look and taste as it should be. 

200 gms paneer
2 medium onions, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 medium potato, diced (optional; I added since my husband loves it)
1/3 cup green peas
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves and green chillies for garnishing
1 tbsp mustard oil ( or refined oil)
Heat oil in a pan. Fry the paneer cubes until golden brown and keep aside. If the paneer pieces are not very tender, you can keep them immersed in warm water until used. 
In a grinder, put the onion, ginger, and garlic and grind to a coarse paste without adding any water. In the same oil where you fried the paneer pieces, add this paste and fry till the onions get translucent and golden in color. Now add the tomato puree and fry on a medium flame till oil starts appearing on the sides. If the paste gets too dry, you can sprinkle some water from the immersed paneer pieces or regular water. Add the dry spices except the salt and sugar and continue stirring until the masalas get mixed well and no raw smell is left. Now add the potato pieces and stir. Add 1/2 cup of warm water (or the water from the immersed paneer pieces) and cover cook on medium flame till the potato is cooked. Next add the green peas and the paneer pieces. Put in salt and sugar and mix. Cover cook for another 3-5 minutes adding additional water if required. Garnish with chopped coriander and slit green chillies and serve hot with roti/rice/pulao.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Herbed Chicken Stromboli

The best part about the Internet is the ease with which you are introduced to new dishes and techniques. Today's recipe is one which I have never eaten outside but was very intrigued o give it a try. It is not the usual easy kind of recipes, but I would not rate it as a difficult one as well. While the recipe is an easy one, the assembling part is the one which needs a little perfection and being my first attempt I was quiet impressed by my effort and the consequences (a badly cut thumb). This recipe has garnered a lot of appreciation for me and I hope it does the same for you.

For the dough
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)
2-3 tbsp tomato pasta sauce or any tomato base sauce
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash; vegetarians can use milk)
2-3 tbsp grated cheese
1 tsp dried parsley

For the filling
200 gms minced chicken (vegetarians can use any combination of their favorite veggies cut into fine cubes)
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce (you can substitute it with a mix of dark soy sauce and tomato ketchup)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 sprig fresh parsley chopped
Salt to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

For the filling
In a pan, heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic and fry till the onions are translucent and the garlic turns golden in color. Add the chicken mince and with the back of the spatula, smooth out the mixture. Add the dry herbs and mix well. Cover and cook till the chicken is tender. Now add the worcestershire sauce, fresh parsley, and the chopped carrots. Add salt as per taste and mix well. Keep covered on medium flame till the carrots are just cooked but not completely out of crunch. Remove from heat and let it cool.

For the dough  
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 little at a time 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 and transfer to a clean surface lightly floured. Roll the dough into an oval shape evenly out from the center until it measures about 7 to 8 inches in diameter. Do not press the dough too thin and maintain a uniform thickness. Rolling the dough too thin will result in a break in the middle when you try to lift it once the Stromboli is baked and a too thick base will end up in a thick bread like bottom. 

Now spread out the tomato pasta sauce in the middle of the oval base from one end to the other, leaving the sides. With the help of a spoon or butter knife, even out the tomato base. Now put in the filling onto the tomato base carefully spreading it out without touching the sides. You can sprinkle some cheese on top if you like your Stromboli to be more of cheese. Now, with the help of a butter knife, make diagonal straight cuts on the sides from the top to the bottom. Repeat on the other side. Remember to make equal number of cuts on both sides and at equal distance. This will help you achieve the perfect braided look. Now, beat the egg and add some dried parsley to it. With the help of a brush, apply the egg on the cut edges. Now, slowly pick up one strip at a time and close in on the filling in a crisscross manner. Repeat till you are done with all the strips. Be careful not to break the strips from their edges. Apply the egg wash on top and keep it in a warm place again for 30 minutes. 
Pre-heat the oven at 175 degree celsius on the toast mode. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or directly grease the tray. I had initially rolled the dough on a baking sheet and had transferred that sheet onto the baking tray to ease the effort of lifting the dough itself. Apply the remaining egg wash again on top and sprinkle some grated cheese from top to bottom. If you are still left with some beaten egg, gently pour it into the filling through the open edges of the top. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes or until a golden crust is formed. Remove from the oven and let it cool on the tray for 5 minutes. Serve hot. 
Chicken Stromboli

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Spinach Pesto

For some dishes, the base is the most important part and forms the crucial part of taking a dish to the next level. Today's recipe for pesto is just that. Traditionally, pesto is prepared with Basil. However, there have been many variations to the original recipe as per the availability of ingredients. My pesto was also prepared out of a need to use up unused ingredients rather than going out to buy something new. While I had always wanted to make pesto at home as I totally love it, I never really gave much thought to it. Now, I regret for not having done that as it is the easiest thing to make and preserve and kids love it too. What else can a woman want!

2 cups spinach washed and stemmed
1/2 cup parsley washed and stemmed
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pine nuts toasted (you can substitute it with equal qty of walnuts)
1/4 tsp black pepper powder

Put everything into a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Transfer it to a glass jar or bowl with a lid. Top it with some olive oil to avoid discoloring and refrigerate till later use. If you do not have a glass jar with a lid, cover the top with cling wrap. However, storing in a glass jar/bowl is essential. You can enjoy this delicious pesto the easiest way with spaghetti or any other pasta of your choice. Stay tuned for some interesting recipes coming up with Pesto!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Eggless Whole Wheat Nutty Cookies

So I was cleaning the fridge today and was looking for stuff that had been there for long and are in their death bed. I chanced upon these tiny little boxes packed away in one corner of the fridge. Some crumbled almond, pista, and cashews were quietly waiting for the day when luck would shine upon them and they would be given a chance to satisfy people's palettes. So be it. I quickly took out some whole wheat / aata and the bit of butter I had in the fridge. It took me just under 1 hour to get these super crunchy and deliciously healthy cookies ready for my evening tea.

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup butter softened (you can quickly soften chilled butter by putting it in the microwave for 20-30 secs)
1/2 cup powdered brown sugar (white sugar can also be used)
1/4 cup crumbled nuts (Almonds skin removed, cashews, and pistachio ground to a coarse powder)
1 tsp cardamom powder
2-3 drops almond essence
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk

In a bowl, add all the ingredients together except the milk. Mix all well with the help of an electric beater or using your hands. Now add the milk little at a time and knead a moist but non sticky dough. The dough should not be firm but should come together. Now pull out small balls from the dough and flatten it on your palm giving whatever shape you want. Place it on a greased baking tray or baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of the dough. You can place the cookies close to each other as it will not spread. Garnish with some halved pistachios and bake in a pre- heated oven at 220 degree celsius for 30 minutes. The first 20 minutes bake in the broil mode (only top rod) for a nice golden top and the last 10 minutes bake in the regular oven mode (both the rods) at a reduced temperature of 180 degree celsius. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes before taking out on wire rack for cooling completely. Store in air tight containers and enjoy with your evening tea/coffee.


Saturday, 15 February 2014

Chicken in a Spicy Onion Gravy

Chicken is not a favorite in our household but with not many options available to explore apart from seafood (not my favorite), it gets included in our weekly menu. While there are thousands of recipes available to make the bird a delicious meal, today I decided to go by my instincts and put whatever spices and ingredients I can grab at hand. The dish turned out extremely yummy and so easy to make. It goes very well with either rice or roti.

500 gms chicken, washed and cleaned
4 medium onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala powder
2-3 slit green chillies
2 each of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves
Salt to taste
1 tbsp mustard oil

Cut the chicken into small pieces. In a pan, heat the oil and add the whole garam masala and cumin seeds and let it crackle. Now add the sliced onions and fry till golden brown. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for 2-3 minutes. Now add the dry spices and fry till oil separates. Add the chicken pieces till it gets nicely browned. Cover and cook till the chicken is half done on medium flame. Now remove the cover and add the tomato puree. Stir till everything gets mixed well. By now, the gravy should be a nice red in color. The juices from the onions and the chicken provide enough gravy for the curry. However, if you should require more gravy feel free to add water. Add salt as per taste. Finally, add the sugar and garam masala powder. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and freshly chopped onions. Serve hot with rice/roti.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Restaurant Style Paneer Butter Masala

There was a time when my husband did not regard me as a good cook. However, ever since we shifted out of India and I did not have anything much to do apart from looking after my baby (though that is hell of a task), my cooking skills have improved manyfold so much so that now I proudly post my creations online and have also managed to garner some appreciation for the same. That feels wonderful. What's even better is that now my husband makes request for his favorite dishes and enjoys them. So here is the recipe of his latest request, Paneer Butter Masala.

200 gms paneer
1 tbsp butter plus 1 tsp for garnishing
1 medium onion chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup cream
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp freshly roasted cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp garam masala powder
2 tsp kasuri methi
Salt to taste
2 slit green chillies
2 tsp oil

Soak the paneer pieces in warm water. In a blender, make a fine paste with the tomatoes, onion, ginger, and garlic.
In a pan, heat the oil and butter. Add the slit green chillies. Now add the paste and fry on medium heat till the raw smell disappears. This is the most important step as this will ensure the beautiful red colored gravy without adding any food color. Continue frying till the oil separates from the paste. Now add the chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and sugar. Stir. Now add 1 cup water and fry till the water dries up and forms a thick paste. Now remove the pan from heat and add the cream, garam masala, and salt. Mix well and put it back on stove. Add the soaked paneer pieces and kasuri methi. Add about 1/4 cup of the soaked paneer water and stir everything well. Bring it to a boil and finally add a tsp of butter and remove from flame. Enjoy your restaurant style Paneer Butter Masala with roti/naan or plain rice/pulao.

Macau Sawdust Pudding

No pain no gain philosophy does not always hold true. In some cases, you can definitely gain a lot of pleasure with no pain at all and today's recipe is a super example of it. The simplest of the puddings I have made till date while giving a yummy end to any meal. Once you have the ingredients at hand you can even prepare this dessert while guests are already at your doorstep. That easy it is!

100 gms marie biscuit or any plain butter biscuit (Britannia Good Day is a good option)
250 ml whipping cream
1/3 cup milkmaid (add little at a time and keep tasting for sweetness as per your liking)
1 tsp vanilla essence

In a grinder, add the biscuits and pulse to make a fine powder. In a bowl, whip the cream with milkmaid and vanilla essence till soft peaks are formed. Best done with a hand blender. In your preferred serving bowl, preferably individual bowls, line a layer of the powdered biscuits followed by a layer of the cream. Finely spread it out with the back of the spoon and follow the procedure till the brim of the bowl. Do not put too much biscuit else only the top layer will be moist with the cream. Continue with the rest of the bowls and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Take out from the fridge 10 minutes  before serving.


Baked Macaroni Pie Baskets

Recently, I came across this post by a virtual blogger friend on how a pie made with overcooked macaroni accidentally turned out so delicious that everyone could not stop eating it. She was flooded with recipe requests and even found a good response in the community Bake Sale. Such is life! Always expect the unexpected. It has happened to me many times and thankfully always for the good. So while I went through her recipe, I decided to give it a few twists and ended up with a marvellously delicious snack, which I hardly got to eat! My 2 year old loved it so much she finished off all four baskets that I had made as an experiment! This in spite of  adding red chilli flakes and pepper powder to suit my taste. When such unexpected things happen, it only leaves you with a smile.

1 cup elbow macaroni
1 medium potato boiled and mashed
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp grated cheese plus for garnishing
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp pepper powder
Salt to taste
8 spring roll sheets (store bought)

Boil the macaroni as per packet instructions. Drain the water and keep aside.
In a bowl, beat the egg and add the dry spices and salt. Beat again. Now add the finely mashed boiled potatoes and mix well. Add the grated cheese and stir. However, do not over mix as the cheese will lose its texture. Lastly, add the cooked macaroni and mix everything well.
Pre-heat the oven at 175 degree celsius. Take the pastry sheets, two at a time, and make a basket out of it. Place it in a muffin tray (I did not grease it as mine is non stick; you can take your own call). Take spoonfuls of the macaroni mixture and fill up the basket to the brim. Repeat for the rest of the mixture. Garnish with some grated cheese and bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes initially. Then take out the baskets from the muffin holes and bake for another 10 minutes for browning on the sides. At his point you can also brush some butter on the sides. I skipped it to make a low calorie version. Serve it hot from the oven and enjoy this guilt-free delightful snack.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Gajar ka Halwa ( Carrot Halwa)

It's that time of the year when in most Indian households one dessert is very fondly prepared and relished by the entire family, Gajar ka Halwa). While carrots are available throughout the year, the special long red carrots are available only during winters in India. Being an Indian and hosting a food blog, this recipe entry for Gajar ka Halwa is almost imperative. Especially, when the halwa turned out so delicious and yummy. Even my husband, who does not quite like sweets, took a second helping! So here is a sure shot winner recipe for Carrot Halwa and one which does not require you to be standing for hours.

800 gms long red carrots 
200 gms mawa/khoya
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 cup sugar (adjust as per your taste)
1/2 cup chopped dry fruits
2 pieces of cardamom
1 bay leaf

Wash and peel the carrots and pat them dry. Grate the carrots and keep aside.
In a pressure cooker, heat the ghee. Add the cardamom and bay leaf. Now add the grated carrot and sugar and mix well. Close the lid and pressure cook without any water for 2-3 whistles. Remove from heat and let it cool.
In another pan, pour the boiled carrot mixture from the cooker and stir on medium flame. It will have some water from the carrots and sugar. Dry up the water while stirring continuously on medium to high flame for 5-10 minutes. Now add the grated or mashed khoya and stir. Mix well so that the khoya melts and no crumbs are left. Check for the sweetness and continue stirring until no liquid is left. However, do not make it too dry as khoya tends to solidify again on cooling. Enjoy your gajar ka halwa hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Orange and Papaya Sponge Pudding

It's the time of Chinese New Year in Singapore and as per tradition the shops and establishments here give their clients and customers a mandarin orange. As such, my refrigerator is packed with oranges and I wanted to do something more interesting than just having juice. They are superbly sweet in taste and very juicy. While orange cake was also an option, but there were also a few pieces of papaya lying in the fridge and were slowly inching towards the Bin. While the original recipe called for only oranges, I  gave it a twist with the papaya and what an awesome pudding it turned out to be. The best I have had in recent times and so proud I had made it!

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp orange peel
1/3 cup papaya mashed
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs separated

Boil milk with the butter on medium heat until butter is melted and milk scalded. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, flour, orange peel, mashed papaya, vanilla essence, and orange juice. Pour in the hot milk and whisk it well. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed but not dry. Fold in the egg whites into the orange mixture. Do not over mix. 
Pre-heat the oven at 175 degree celsius. Take a oven safe dish and pour the mixture into the bowl. Take a bigger bowl and fill it with hot water and place the orange mixture bowl in it. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and keep in the water bath for 10 minutes. Serve chilled.


Monday, 10 February 2014

Spaghetti in a Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Sauce

Pasta pasta pasta!! That's what I have been cooking for my baby since the last one month. She doesn't seem to like anything else. One way I find it good as now she eats a lot of veggies (which I add to her pasta) and she no longer fusses over food (fingers crossed). Seeing her eat pasta, both me and my husband started having some pasta craving too. Considering the fact that pasta is one of the easiest things to make, I did not have to put in much effort to cook up this delicious creamy sauce served over some al dante spaghetti. 

Ingredients (serves 2)
1/3 packet Spaghetti pasta (adjust the quantity as per your serving size)
200 gms minced chicken
1 cup sliced button mushrooms (stems minced)
250 ml whipped cream
1 medium onion finely sliced
1 tbsp garlic
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp black pepper powder
Salt as per taste
2 tbsp olive oil

Cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Drain the water and keep aside. You can reserve 1/2 a cup of the pasta water for later use to make slight gravy for the pasta. I like my pasta dry and so discarded all the liquid.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic and onions till slightly browned. Now add the minced mushroom stems and fry 2-3 minutes more. Now add the minced chicken and with the back of the spatula, press down the lumps. Fry till the mince is evenly coated with the onion and garlic pieces. Cover and cook till the chicken is done. Now add the sliced mushrooms and continue cooking on a high flame until the chicken juices reduce to half. Now add the dry herbs and other spices. Tip in the cream and mix well. Add salt and stir. Finally, add the spaghetti and coat the sauce evenly. If you had reserved any pasta liquid, you can add it now. Simmer and let the gravy thicken. Remove from heat and serve on individual plates. 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Dahi Vada Stuffed with Raisins

There are times when you long for something very dearly, yet you are not inspired enough to achieve it. This statement may sound a little philosophical for a food blog, but you will know what I am talking of in just a bit. It has been about 3-4 months since I have been having this craving for Dahi Vadas but was not able to find a proper joint to satisfy my soul. The ones which are sold in restaurants are usually quite hard and too sour to be enjoyed. I like my dahi vadas soft and spongy with a mix of sweet, tangy, and chilli flavor, not to forget the freshly roasted cumin seed powder. I have been cooking quite a lot ever since I started this blog, but somehow the idea of making dahi vadas at home wasn't exciting enough to me. The whole process seemed quite tedious and time consuming to me. And then there was this post on Chef at Large which served as the trigger. I was finally inspired enough to go through the process and enjoy the Dahi Vadas just the way I like them. The whole process of grinding, frying, assembling with the curd and chutney took me approximately 2 hours but was worth every minute of it. The Vadas were superbly soft, well soaked, and heavenly in taste. Now, next time I have some guests over for dinner this is surely going to be added in the menu!

For the Vada
1 cup white Urad dal (or split black gram)
1 inch piece ginger
2 green chillies
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins, soaked
Oil for frying

For the Tamarind Chutney
100 gms tamarind
Jaggery as per taste
2-3 aam papad (optional)
1 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp chilli powder
1-1/2 cup water

For the Base
2-3 cups curd, whisked well
1-2 tsp sugar (depending how sour your curd is)
1 tsp salt
Red chilli powder for sprinkling
Freshly roasted cumin seed powder for sprinkling

Preparing the Vadas
Soak the daal overnight or 5-6 hours. Wash and drain the daal and grind in a blender to a fine paste with the ginger and green chilli. Add very little (about 1/4 cup) water to make the fine paste. Heat the oil in a deep bottomed pan. Take a dollop of the batter on your palm. Add a few raisins and close it with your hands. It will be a loose ball of batter but ensure that the raisins are well inside the ball and closed from all sides. When the oil is very hot, slide down the ball and fry till golden brown on low flame. Meanwhile, boil some water in a pan and immediately immerse those fried vadas into the warm water. Continue with the same process with the rest of the vadas. When you are nearing the end of the frying process, start taking out the vadas from the soaked water (your memory needs to play a role here; follow the first in first out process). Hold the soaked vada in between your palms and gently squeeze out the excess water. Place the vadas on the dish you wish to serve the vadas. Repeat for the rest of the vadas. Your vadas are now ready for the next step.

Preparing the Tamarind Chutney
Boil the tamarind and the aam papad in water  for 10 minutes. Remove from flame and strain the tamarind. With the help of the back of a spoon or a potato masher, squeeze out the juice from the tamarind and return the pan on fire. Put back the aam papad as well. Now add all the other ingredients listed above. Check the sweetness and the spiciness of the chutney and adjust as per your liking.Do not   thicken  the chutney too much as it will thicken further once it cools down. Pour the chutney into a bowl and let it cool.

Preparing the Curd Base
Whisk the curd well with an egg beater till smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and salt as per your taste and mix well. 

The Assembling
Pour the whisked curd on top of the arranged vadas ensuring all the vadas are covered well. Now top it with a bit of the tamarind chutney and sprinkle the freshly roasted cumin seed powder and some chilli powder. Some people also like a bit of coriander leaves on top of their vadas or the green chutney . Garnish as desired and enjoy your vadas to your heart's content! 


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Pistachio Mawa Cake

In Singapore, as per my knowledge goes, there is only one place where you can get Mawa/Khoya and that is the all-time famous Mustafa Center. My husband fondly tells everyone that apart from parents and kids, you can get everything in Mustafa (life partners too; you might fall in love while shopping!!!) and true it is.
Coming back to the point, last week I had this strong desire for Gajar ka Halwa and since for a yummy one you need to add some Khoya to it. So off I went to fetch some Khoya and halwa carrots (also only available in Mustafa!) to satisfy my innate desire. While my halwa craving was well attended (post coming up soon), I was left with almost 300 gms of Khoya in the fridge. I had almost forgotten about it when suddenly I grabbed it out of the fridge instead of something else. I pondered for a moment on the best possible options of using it and since I did not have much time on hand, the easiest option was a simple Mawa Cake. I hadn't baked one before and so was even more excited to try out a new recipe. The result was a super moist and delicate mouthwatering mawa cake. Only caution is keep a close watch on the baking time as mine got slightly burnt on the outer crust, but tastes awesome nevertheless!

1 cup maida
3 eggs
3/4 cup khoya grated (equivalent to approx 200 gms). You can make this qty of khoya with approx 1 litre of milk.
1 cup brown sugar (you can add regular fine sugar)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup butter
3-4 tbsp chopped pistachios for garnishng (you can replace with chopped almonds or skip it altogether)

In a bowl, soften the butter in the microwave and bring it to room temperature. Add the sugar and whisk. Now add the eggs and whisk further. Make sure the butter is at room temperature before adding the eggs. Now sift the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture. Add the grated khoya and beat into a lump free batter. Finally, add the vanilla essence and stir. If you find the batter too thick, you may add a few tbsps of milk. Mine was okay and did not require any milk. You can either prepare a loaf tin (either grease it or line it with parchment paper) or muffin moulds for baking. Pre-heat the oven at 180 degree Celsius. Pour the batter  into the prepared tin or moulds and garnish it with the chopped pistachios. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Keep a close watch on the cake while nearing the finishing time. I was a little careless and ended up over browning it by a few minutes. 


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Lucknowi Daal

When I first saw this recipe on a friend's blog, I had this "eew" feeling which was because of one ingredient which goes into its making. Milk! I could not imagine the taste of daal with milk and hence decided to give it a miss. However, on second thoughts considering the reputation that my friend has as a food blogger, I thought of giving it a try nevertheless. The result was as expected from most of her recipes. Awesome! So here's sharing with you the recipe of the daal with a "twist".

1 cup toor daal
4-5 cloves garlic chopped
2-3 green chillies chopped
1 tbsp ghee
2-3 kashmiri whole chilli
1 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp heeng/asafoetida
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves for garnishing

Boil the daal with salt, turmeric, and green chillies in a pressure cooker until done. Pour the cooked daal onto a heavy bottomed pan and let it simmer. In another pan, heat the ghee and splutter the cumin seeds. Now add the chopped garlic and whole red chillies. Fry for 2-3 minutes and just before putting off the flame, add the heeng. Immediately pour this tadka over the bubbling daal and cover for a minute or two to lock the aroma. Now add the milk and stir. Adding the milk adds a different taste and texture to the daal that you will love and won't regret. Bring the daal to one final boil and remove from heat. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice/roti.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Pomfret Macher Kalia

Being married to a Bong, I have developed a special liking for fish. Assamese people also eat fish quite regularly though. However, the way Bong's make their curry is something which makes it a "typical" Bengali fish curry. While you can get almost everything in Singapore, you have to travel a distance to fetch that unless of course you stay right next to the Tekka Market. The rest of the supermarkets are mostly selling pomfrets and prawns apart from the rest of the sea fish. So with Pomfret so easily available, we hardly (read never) take the pain to explore the Tekka Market. Here is a dish very commonly prepared in Bengali households. I prepared it with Pomfret; will taste good with any other fresh water fish as well.

2 Pomfret fish, washed and cut into fillet
1 medium onion chopped
3-4 garlic chopped
1/2 inch piece ginger, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tomato chopped 
4-5 green chillies, chopped (as per taste)
Fresh coriander leaves
1 tsp turmeric powder
Mustard oil

Marinate the fish with salt and turmeric for 10 minutes and keep aside. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat about 2 tbsp oil and fry the fish pieces until golden brown and crisp. In a blender, make a paste with the onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies. 
Once you are done with frying the fish, add cumin seeds to the same oil and let it crackle. Add the paste and fry till the raw smell disappears. Add the salt, sugar, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and red chilli powder. Fry till the masalas get blended well. Now add the tomatoes and keep frying on high till they become mushy. Now add 1 cup of warm water and bring to a boil. Release the fish slowly into the gravy and cover cook for 10 minutes on medium flame. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with hot plain rice.