Monday, 23 February 2015

Bengal Special Rasgulla

First, a confession. I do not like Rasgullas! In fact, I never liked it as a child and the only sweet that I crave and which I can have anytime of the day is Gulab Jamun. While I have successfully made Gulab Jamuns at home twice and highly appreciated by friends and family, I have failed several times (4 times to be precise) and just to get it right I did not lose hope and tried it for the fifth time and nailed it! Soft and spongy, it was such a delight to taste my first successful Rasgulla. Imagine the smile at that moment of triumph after 4 failed attempts. Priceless!!! The guests, for whom I especially made these, loved them thoroughly and kept asking me for the recipe!! Success is sweet, truly!! 💃💃😀
A special thanks to my friend and fellow blogger Garima Serera Narolia who is officially crowned the Rasgulla Queen by my most favorite food group!
P.S: Do remember to read my notes for 
dos and don'ts at the end of this post.

Ingredients (Makes 9-10)
1 liter low fat milk
1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
For the sugar syrup
1 cup sugar
4 cups water
2 pieces of cardamom or cardamom powder

For adding later
1 cup sugar 
1/2 cup water
Few strands of saffron
Few drops of rose essence

Bring the milk to a full boil. Reduce the flame to minimum and add the vinegar or lemon juice. The milk will curdle immediately and the chenna or paneer will form on top leaving behind a clear greenish liquid below it. Switch off the flame and let it sit for 3-5 minutes. 
Now strain this using either a muslin cloth placed properly over a colander or seive or using a paneer maker like I do. Once all the paneer/chenna is collected and the whey drained (you can reserve this liquid which is very high in nutrition to make chapati dough later on the same day). Wash the paneer/chenna with clean drinking water to get rid of the lemony/vinegary taste. Now tightly tie the muslin cloth and hang it in a place to drain the excess liquid. If using a paneer maker, place a heavy weight on top and let the water drain. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes. 
Now take the paneer out in a broad vessel with a rim. This will help in kneading the paneer without spilling around. First crumble the paneer with your hands and then start kneading. This is how it will look in the beginning. 
Continue kneading the paneer starting with your fingers and ending with the heel of your palm till you see a slightly greasy base and a thin film forming as your press the paneer with the heel of your palm as shown in this picture. 
Now get the dough together to form a soft yet smooth ball without any cracks or crumbs. Pinch out equal sized balls and roll them smooth without any cracks and keep aside. 
Meanwhile, as you near your kneading process start preparing the light sugar syrup. You can keep the sugar and water ready in a wide mouthed vessel and switch on the flame as you reach the final stage of kneading. Bring the sugar syrup to a roaring boil and then add the chenna balls carefully into the hot syrup without breaking. 
Keep the vessel covered and let it cook on a medium flame for 12-15 minutes. Make sure there is enough space for the balls to expand in size and move about without crushing each other. After 10 minutes they will look all puffed up and almost doubled in size. 
To check if the chenna is cooked, drop a ball in a bowl of clean drinking water. If it sinks, the chenna is cooked. Take the balls out of the syrup and dunk them in the bowl of clean drinking water at room temperature. Once again, the bowl should be big enough to allow sufficient space for the balls. All the balls would be sinking to the bottom of the vessel. Keep it aside while you prepare the syrup further. 
Add the remaining sugar and water and bring it to a boil till the sugar dissolves. Now switch off the flame and let the syrup come to room temperature. When the syrup is just warm, add the saffron and rose essence. I like the kesari color and so added the saffron while the syrup was still hot to get beautiful kesari rasgullas. 
Now squeeze out the excess water from the chenna balls by gently pressing with your hands and dunk them back into the room temperature or lukewarm syrup. Keep them covered and leave them for 3-4 hours before transfering to your serving bowl. 

Now most important part of this post
Dos and Don'ts
1. Use low fat milk. If you have access to fresh cow's milk, use that. Else, low fat milk is the best option. I used Farmhouse low fat milk available in Singapore. 
2. Do Not let the paneer/chenna hanging in the muslin cloth or paneer maker for too long. The longer you leave it the drier it becomes and your success rate goes down considerably. 10 minutes is sufficient time to let the excess water drain out. The chenna should be just moist, neither wet nor dry. 
3. Bring the milk to a roaring boil before adding the vinegar/lemon juice. 
4. Keep the flame on medium high while boiling the chenna balls. 
5. Do Not overcook the balls. Check if they are done at around 10 minutes by dropping a ball into the clear drinking water bowl. The ball should sink within 3-4 secs. If not, put it back into the syrup and check after 2-3 minutes. They should be done by then. 
6. The rasgullas get sweeter as they remain longer in the final sugar syrup. Do not disturb them for the next 2-3 hours. Although you can check the sponginess within an hour or so by tasting one of them. It won't be very sweet then but good enough to relax your nerves to know your success. 
7. Do Not be disheartened if you do not nail it at the first attempt. I tried 5 times and finally achieved success. Remember that spider's tale if you fail. Keep trying until you succeed. 
By the way, I love Rasgullas now. My success really made me fall in love with this Bengal delicacy. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Mutton Keema Masala

Mutton or red meat was not quite easily available in my neighborhood until recently when a new shop opened up on the way to my baby's school. My husband was so happy with this new find , he immediately grabbed a pack of minced mutton and a request was put forward to prepare some Mutton Keema Masala for the weekend meal. I love keema too and so the request was happily accepted and attended to. The keema turned out super delicious and so yummy that a good friend of ours came over for dinner after seeing my FB post about the same!! It was a fun evening spent with friends over lots of chit chat, booze, and of course, a bowl full of yummy Mutton Keema Masala! 

For Marination
250 gms minced mutton, washed and drained
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp fresh garlic paste (or minced)
For the spice paste
1/2 tbsp mustard oil (preferably)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1" piece cinammon
3 pieces of cardamom
1 black cardamom
3 cloves
5-6 black peppercorns
2 medium onions chopped
Rest of the ingredients
1 tbsp ghee
2 medium onions chopped
1" piece ginger chopped
1-2 green chillies chopped (optional)
1 medium red bell pepper deseeded and chopped
1 large tomato chopped
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (non spicy)
2 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves and ginger juliennes for garnishing

Start with the marination. Take the washed and drained minced mutton and add all other ingredients listed under marination. Mix well and keep aside at least for 2 hours or overnight. 
Now heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Now add the whole garam masala listed under spice paste and let it splutter and release the aroma. Now add the chopped onions and fry till golden. Take care not to burn them and so keep stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes until golden. Remove from heat and let it cool. Once cooled, grind this in a blender to a smooth paste and keep aside. 
In the same pan where you prepared for the spice paste, heat the ghee and fry the chopped onions till translucent. Add the ginger, green chilli and tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes soften. Now add the red bell pepper, coriander powder, and red chilli powder and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the marinated mutton with any redidual water that the meat or the yogurt may have released. Mix well and fry on a medium heat till the meat changes color. Cover and cook on a low flame till cooked  through and oil starts floating on top. No need to add any water as the meat and the yogurt will be releasing enough juices and fat. Once the mutton is cooked through, remove the cover and increase the flame to medium and add the prepared spice paste. Mix well. If there is still a lot of gravy, continue stirring  at a medium high flame till the gravy dries up. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and ginger juliennes and serve hot with roti, naan, or parathas. 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Bailey Irish Cream Mousse with Cream Cheese

I was introduced to Bailey's Irish Cream way back in 2007 when as a newly wedded couple we were invited for a dinner at my cousin's place enroute to our Honeymoon in Bali. We were served chilled shots of the Irish Cream whiskey after dinner and what a delicious and boozy gulp it was. On our way back from Bali we got home a big bottle of Bailey's to continue enjoying the shots but amidst work and new marriage pressures, we kept forgetting about it and had to eventually throw away half the bottle as it got spoiled.
This year while we were heading home from our Jordan/Dubai trip, I suddenly caught a glimpse of this small handy bottle and grabbed it immediately with an instant vision of a sinful Tiramisu floating in front of my eyes. While the Tiramisu has still to wait, I was eagerly waiting for an opportunity to inaugurate the bottle and as luck would have it, a close family friend came over for dinner. It was a sudden plan and with no time to shop for the ingredients of a Tiramisu, a mousse seemed to be the perfect way to end a boozy evening. With some cream cheese left over from my baby's birthday Mango Cheesecake, this couldn't get any better. The cream cheese got its due and the Bailey got a perfect indulgent partner to fly all the guests to new highs!!

200 gms cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup whipping cream chilled
2-3 tbsp fine grain sugar or castor sugar
1/2- 3/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream (this totally depends on how strong you want it to taste; I wanted and liked it really strong)
1/3-1/2 cup Hersheys Chocolate Syrup (again depending on your taste and preference)
Chocolate wafers or chocolate sticks for serving

Take the cream cheese in the bowl of your electric mixer and whip till smooth. Add the whipping cream and sugar and best till soft peaks form. Now add the chocolate syrup as per your taste and preference  and whip further. If you have kids eating this, then keep a portion aside for them at this point in individual pudding bowls or ramekins. Now time to make it high!
Add the Bailey Irish Cream 1/4 cup at a time and keep tasting after each addition. Fold in the cream with the help of a spatula rather than beating with a mixer. Stop when you feel the mousse is high enough for you and your guests to handle. 😀
Now take shot glasses or any pudding glass of your choice and keeping the nozzle of your chocolate syrup bottle along the rim of the shot glass, revolve the glass uniformly so that the syrup forms a ring along the rim of the glass. The syrup will then flow down towards the bottom and give a beautiful zig zag pattern to your mousse. 
Now fill the prepared glasses with the mousse to the rim of the glasses and gently tap the bottom to even it out. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours or until served. If you are preparing this s day ahead, be sure to cover the top with a cling wrap once set. Enjoy this sinful dessert and experience new highs!! 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Now staying in Singapore the one dish which you cannot miss, apart from the dumplings, is Chicken Rice. While the dumplings are quite a task to make at home, the same cannot be said about this dish. As easy as it sounds, it is equally easy to make. In Singapore, every food court in every nook and corner of this island has this dish in their menu and the price varies from $2 to somewhere around $6 depending upon the condiments they serve with it. While it is quite convenient to grab this dish anytime of the day when you are not in a mood to cook at home, eating outside is not a very healthy option especially when your kid relishes this dish just like you. So when my kind neighbor's maid told me the recipe the other day while walking back our babies from school, I was all so excited to try it the next day. I did a bit of marination to infuse some flavor into the chicken but if you are running short of time, you can skip that. So whether you stay in Singapore or not, you can now relish this Singaporean speciality from the comfort of your home and that too quite easily!!
4 chicken thigh pieces, skin and fat removed (the shops here sell the cooked chicken skin on and if you like it that way, you can keep it too)
2 tbsp dark soya sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil (I used 100% pure sesame oil which you can find alongside any chilli garlic oil or where the regular ketchups are stacked in the supermarkets)
4 fat cloves of garlic finely crushed
1 1/2" ginger finely crushed
Salt to taste
2 1/2 cups Thai Mali Hom Rice (long grain fragrant rice)
4 cups of water
1 cup mushroom sliced
1 cup rooted sprouts

As I said earlier, if you have time, you csn wash and marinate the chicken with the soya sauce, sesame oil, crushed ginger garlic, and salt and keep aside for 2-3 hours. If running out of time, you can directly take a wide vessel and fill it with 4 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Add the chicken, preferably without any overlapping, and all the other ingredients of marination and cover and cook on a medium low flame till done. If marinating, do add the juices and all the ingredients left in the marination bowl into the boiling vessel to ensure maximum flavor. 
Once the chicken is done (which takes about 10-15 minutes), take the chicken out with the help of a slotted spoon and put the flame to low while you quickly wash and rinse the rice. Thai Mali Hom rice usually requires just a single rinse and is not advisable to soak it in advance as it gets cooked very quickly and soaking will make the rice soggy. Now add the washed and drained rice into the hot chicken broth and stir. Cover and cook till the rice absorbs all the water. Make sure you keep stirring the rice in between while being cooked so that it does not stick to the bottom. Once done, switch  off the flame and keep covered till served. Thai Rice is recommended to br cooked till 90% done and the rest gets cooked while it rests being covered. 
For the condiments, add a little oil in a pan and stir fry the mushrooms and rooted sprouts with salt and pepper till just done. You can use any vegetable or greens of your choice. You can also lightly pan roast the boiled chicken pieces to get a crispy outer cover, just like I did. With more time at hand, you can even serve it with some freshly prepared clear chicken broth and chilli garlic sauce for enhanced taste!! 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

No Bake Individual Mango Cheesecake

My baby just turned three and this year we, or rather I, decided to have a small party on this occasion. She was super excited about the event and I was all geared up to make her day special. The food was catered in but I kept the desert and cake for myself as I really wanted to do something of my own for her special day. As a kid, I remember Mom making everything on her own for all my birthdays and though it wasn't too convenient for me to make all the food for 30 odd people, I thought making the desert should not be a big task as such. My baby loves mangoes and the choice of desert was but obvious!! A delicious smooth and creamy No Bake Mango Cheesecake. This happened to be the star of the party and not only did everyone enjoy it, they even carried the extras home to relish later. What better way to de-stress yourself than seeing your guests enjoy your creation!! An effort well paid off indeed!! 
Ingredients (Makes 16-17)
250 gms cream cracker biscuits (preferably the low salt ones)
100 gms butter melted (I like a little salted biscuit base but you can go for unsalted butter as well)
340 gms cream cheese (room temperature)
250 ml whipping cream (chilled)
1 1/2 cup mango pulp (I used sweetened canned Alphonso Mango pulp)
10 gms (or 1 tbsp) gelatin (unflavored)
1/2 cup hot water
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/3 cup fine grain sugar (or castor sugar)
Fresh mango chopped into cubes for garnishing (optional)

For the glaze
1 cup sweetened mango pulp
10 gms (1 tbsp) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup hot water

Start by preparing the base. Keep your individual pudding bowls clean and ready.  Take the crackers in a food processor and make a fine crumb. Melt the butter, either on stove top or in the microwave, and let it come to room temperature. Now in a bowl, mix the finely crumbled biscuits and the butter till the mixture just comes together. Take a prepared pudding bowl and put two spoonfull of the mixture and gently press it down with the back of the spoon into a uniform layer. 
Repeat for the rest of the mixture and pudding bowls and then keep in the refrigerator for chilling while you prepare the next layer. 
In a bowl, take the whipped cream and 2 tbsp icing sugar and whip till soft peaks form. Using an electric beater is quite helpful here. 
Now dissolve the gelatin in the hot water and mix well till the water becomes transparent. 
Let the gelatin mixture cool down a bit while stirring frequently to prevent it from setting and then add it to the mango pulp. Mix well. 
Now using the same paddle attachment which you used for whipping the cream, if using an electric beater, whip the cream cheese and sugar till smooth and creamy. Add the mango pulp and whip further. We are not looking for any soft or stiff peaks but a light and creamy mixture. Once the mixture is smooth and silky, add it to the whipped cream and mix gently till well incorporated. Take care not to overmix. The mixture will then loose its lightness. Taste for sweetness and add some castor or icing sugar (do not add fine grain at this point) if required. Remember that the sweetness will increase a bit more when chilled and there is a third layer of mango glaze coming up on top. So add accordingly. This is how your mixture should look. 

Now take the chilled pudding bowls out from the fridge. The biscuit layer must have set by now. Take 3 large spoonfuls of the cream mixture and gently pour it on top of the biscuit layer. Wipe off any drops or cream that may have got smeared on the sides of the bowls. 
Now cover the bowls either with a lid or a clingwrap and keep it in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours or until set. This is the most important step as without a set cream layer we cannot add the mango glaze. 
When you see the cream layer has well set, start preparing the glaze. 
Dissolve the gelatin in hot water and mix thoroughly till you get a clear transparent liquid like before. Keep stirring to bring it to room temperature or just warm. Add it to the mango pulp and stir. Check for sweetness. I did not add any sugar at this point but you can add if you want. Take care to add only castor or icing sugar, if adding at all. Now take the set pudding bowls out one by one and pour 1 big spoonful of the glaze on top or until just covered. Cover again and let it set in the fridge for another 2-3 hours. 
As a final step, chop some fresh mangoes and add a few pieces on top of each pudding and keep covered and chilled in the refrigerator. 
Take the bowls out of the refrigerator just half hour before serving so that the biscuit softens a bit. 
Now sit back and enjoy this delicious desert and be prepared to be showered with words of high appreciation!!