Friday, 27 March 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookies-- The Traditional Way

Chocolate Chip Cookies are a native of America and while there have been many variations to the recipe including the addition of oatmeal or nuts or different kinds of chocolate chips, the cookie still remains one of the most delicious cookie ever baked. There is very little chance that you can go wrong with this recipe as it is so easy and quick and by the time you realize, you will already be biting into a piece of warm crispy crunchy edged soft and buttery cookie!! Mmmmmmm....
Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking
1 cup butter room temperature but not melted 
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
11/2 tsp Vanila extract 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips(I used a mix of white and brown)
You can add any chopped nuts of your choice optionally 

Cream the butter and sugar together till smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda. Add it to the butter mixture and fold in. It is advisable not to use the electric beater at this stage. Lastly add the chocolate chips and any chopped nuts if you are using. Mix well. 
Pre-heat the oven at 180 degree celcius and line a baking tray with parchment paper. With the help of an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop half scoops into the prepared tray. Two things to note here. Firstly, do not flatten the balls. Doing so, you will end up with joined edges as the cookies will flatten out on their own while baking. Secondly, do not place the cookies too close to each other. You can bake the cookies in batches and keep the dough covered in the refrigerator while one batch bakes. Over crowding will ruin the shape of your cookies. Lastly, bake fewer cookies in the first batch so that you get an idea on the perfect quantity of dough to be put in the tray and the spacing to get those perfectly rounded cafe like cookies. 
Once you have arranged all the dough balls in the tray, top it up with some more chocolate chips and bake in the pre heated oven for 10-12 minutes. The subsequent batches will take lesser time and so keep a close watch. Remove the cookies from the oven when you gently press down on a cookie and it springs back. Cool on a wire rack completely before transferring to air tight containers. While baking the subsequent batches, let the baking tray cool down completely (if you do not have a spare one) before putting in the next batch of dough balls. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Mutton Keema Kofta Biryani

There was a time when Biryani for me was the most tedious dish to cook and was only a weekend treat to be eaten outside. With my husband being a great Biryani fan, how could I stay away from not trying out this flavoursome dish at home. My first biryani was almost a year back and it was an instant hit. Although there was room for improvement, it was a good beginning nonetheless. With each passing attempt, my Biryani just kept getting better and better and better. Now I have reached a stage where I have developed my own Biryani recipe from scratch and have included a very interesting twist to it, Koftas!! The idea was originally shared by a fellow foodie on a food group and I developed it from there. The husband was licking his fingers (literally) and the guests (who had to mantain their courtesy being Germans) swiped off the entire bowl squeaky clean. 
Now, I look forward to cooking my next Biryani!! 
For the koftas
500 gms minced mutton
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp grated garlic 
5-6 mint leaves chopped 
1-2 green chillies chopped (optional)
1 sprig coriander chopped 
1 tbsp besan/gram flour
1/2 tsp red chilli powder 
1/2 tsp garam masala powder 
1/2 tsp cumin powder 
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp Salt (approximately) to taste (do not add a lot as the koftas will also absorb masalas from the biryani sauce later on)
2 tsp oil plus extra for frying

For the Biryani Masala
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds 
4-5 whole red chillies
3 green cardamoms 
1 black cardamom 
3-4 cloves 
1" piece cinnamon 
1/2 star anise 
1/2 nutmeg
1 mace
1 bay leaf
6-7 black peppercorns 

Dry roast all of the above and make a fine powder. 

For the Biryani Sauce
2 medium onions chopped 
3 medium tomatoes chopped 
1 tbsp ginger paste 
1 tbsp garlic paste 
1 tsp caraway seeds/shahjeera 
2-3 tbsp grated paneer
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
Biryani masala prepared above
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

For the rice
2 1/2-3 cups of Basmati rice, washed and soaked for 20 minutes 
1 medium onion finely sliced 
1/2" piece ginger, finely chopped 
2 tbsp fresh coriander chopped 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds 
2 green cardamom, 3 cloves, 1/2" cinnamon, 1 mace, 4-5 black peppercorns 
1 tsp saffron soaked in 1 tbsp cold milk
Salt to taste but not exceeding 1 tsp
2 tbsp ghee (for maximum taste and fragrance)

For the assembly 
Fried onions and finely chopped fresh coriander 

The first step will be to prepare the keema koftas. 
Wash and drain the keema and put in a food processor. Pulse until a smooth lump is formed. To this add all the remaining ingredients including 2 tsp oil and pulse till a smooth lump is formed and there are no solid bits. Remove from the food processor and take it out in a plate. Now while you heat oil in a wok for deep frying, start forming the balls with your hands. Do not make oversized balls as they might not cook very well then. 
 When the oil is hot, reduce the flame to medium and start frying the balls, 3-4 at a time on medium heat until golden on all sides. Do not fry on high flame as the balls may get browned too soon leaving a raw inside. Drain the excess oil on paper towels. 

Once you are done frying all the balls, start preparing the sauce. For that, heat oil in a pan and splutter the caraway seeds. Now add the onions and fry till golden. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for another 2-3 minutes till the raw smell disappears. Now add the tomatoes and fry on high till the tomatoes get soft and mushy. Add the grated paneer and the biryani masala and the other dry spices and salt and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup warm water and bring it to a boil. Now add the fried koftas, stir to mix and coat everything well and cover and cook on medium low flame for 10-15 minutes.  This is to ensure that the koftas absorb maximum flavors and masala from the sauce which will ensure that they are soft and juicy once assembled. Also, if any of the koftas are not completely cooked, this step will make sure it does. Be very careful while stirring the sauce in between as you may break the koftas. Once the gravy reduces to about 1/4th with mostly the masalas remaining and minimum water, turn off the gas and keep the pan covered as you move on to the next step. 
 Time to cook the rice now. Heat ghee in a pan. Add cumin seeds and the whole garam masala and let it release the fragrance. Now add the onions and fry till translucent followed by the ginger. Add the soaked and drained rice and fry till the rice becomes transparent sonewhat. Add the chopped coriander and stir. Add salt and now if you are using the electric rice cooker, transfer the rice to the cooker and add 5-1/2 cups of water for 3 cups of rice and cook till done. If preparing the rice on gas stove, you can add water directly to the pan and cook the rice covered till just done (about 90%). Do not overcook. 
Once the rice is done, sprinkle the soaked saffron over the rice and stir and let it remain for 10-12 minutes. 
Now the final and most easy step. Take an ovensafe bowl or, a deep bottom vessel (if preparing on gas stove) and put one layer of the rice. If you do not have an oven, you can also do it in the microwave. Now add the biryani sauce along with the koftas. Sprinkle some fresh coriander and fried onions and cover up with the remaining rice.
Sprinkle some more coriander and fried onions on top and optionally a dollop of ghee. Cover tightly with an aluminium foil (if using the oven), a clinwrap (if using the microwave) or a tight lid sealed with atta dough (if using the gas). Cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes, if using the gas, with an iron skillet at the bottom to avoid the rice getting burnt. If using the microwave, cook for 7-8 minutes at high. If using the oven, like I did, cook in a pre heated oven at 175 degree celsius for 20 minutes. Keep covered until served hot with raita!


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Baked Stuffed Flower Bread

Breakfast never excites me for the simple reason that I do not want to stress myself with what different to serve to my family which they will happily eat. When it comes to lunch and dinner, you get ample time to think and prepare while breakfast gives you hardly any time to think when you are still unreeling from your last night's dream. However, there are some really interesting and exciting breakfast ideas which can get you going even early in the morning. Today's recipe is a makeover of our very own Bread Pakora with the only difference that it is healthier with no deep frying involved and no mess at all. You can get this ready in just under 15 minutes. Now isn't that a cool breakfast idea!!
Slices of leftover bread, as many servings as you want
Stuffing of your choice (I used a stuffing of mashed and cooked cauliflower, potatoes and carrots dry sabji from last night's dinner)
Butter as required 
Cheese for topping 

Take a bread slice and with the help of a rolling pin, thin it out. 
Now spread butter thinly on both the sides. Make cuts starting from the corner and stopping slightly away from the centre. Repeat for all the corners. 
Place a dollop of the stuffing in the center of the bread slice. 
Lift up the edges gently without breaking and form a cup. 
Place the bread cup on a muffin tray (not required to grease) and top it with some cheese. 
Repeat for all the other bread slices. 
Now bake in a pre-heated oven at 175 degrees for 7-10 minutes till the bread is crispy from the edges and the cheese melted. I switched on the top rod only for thr final few minutes to speed up the process. 
Serve hot!!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Cheese Crackers with Sundried Tomatoes

Wine and cheese make the perfect pair! The combination has been tried and tasted since centuries and is a hot favourite for all those who love their wine. To take that tradition forward, today I present a simple yet super delicious crumbly melt-in-the-mouth cottony soft Cheese Crackers with Sundried Tomatoes and I caution you, these are deadly addictive!! 
1 cup all purpose flour (I had cake flour at hand and so used that)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter cold and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh or dried rosemary leaves
Dash of red chilli flakes
1-2 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used canned)

Take the flour, butter, cheese, red chilli flakes, salt and dried/fresh rosemary leaves and form a soft dough. I used my stand mixer with the dough hook or you can also use your food processor. This is how it will look once the dough comes together.
Now take the dough out in a bowl, if using the food processor, or simply remove the stand mixer and with your hands, bring the dough together. Now add the chopped sun dried tomatoes and mix into the dough. Spread a clingwrap on a clean surface and put the dough on top and roll it into a log or cylindrical shape just like a hot dog. Wrap it tightly with the clingwrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. 
Pre-heat the oven at 200 degree celcius and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and unwrap. Now cut thin slices with a sharp knife and gently round the edges with the help of your fingers. It is okay if the edges or the cut isn't really smooth. That is the beauty of homemade stuff, afterall! Place the cut and rounded thin discs on the prepared baking tray and press down a few leaves of fresh/dried rosemary leaves. 
Bake in the pre heated oven for 12-15 minutes till the tops becomes golden and it springs back slightly when gently pressed with the finger. Remove from oven and let it cool on a wire rack completely before transferring to air tight containers. Remember to serve these with really chilled good Wine or Beer and enjoy with some great company! 


Saag Chole -- Chickpeas with Spinach

Tired of the regular Punjabi Chole, there was a need for a variation to the recipe and that is when I remembered seeing this recipe being posted in one of the food groups. It is quick and easy to make and the addition of spinach not only enhances the taste but also makes it even more high on nutrition. Serve it with rice or roti, this one dish meal will take care of your daily nutritional needs. 

1 cup chickpeas soaked overnight 
1 medium onion chopped 
1" piece ginger 
4-5 cloves of garlic 
1 medium tomato made into a paste with the ginger and garlic above
3 cups spinach chopped 
1 tsp cumin seeds 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
1 tsp kashmiri chilly powder 
1 tsp cumin powder 
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder 
1 tsp garam masala powder 
1 tbsp dry roasted and crushed kasuri methi
1/2 tbsp pomegranate seed powder
Salt to taste
Oil as required 

Wash and drain the soaked chickpeas and pressure cook till done.  
Heat oil in a pan and splutter the cumin seeds. Add the onions and fry till golden. Niw add the tomato paste and fry till the raw smell disappears. Add the dry spices and fry till the spices start releasing oil from the sides. Do not add the salt yet. Add the chopped spinach and stir. Cover and cook till the spinach is wilted. Now add the salt and the boiled chickpeas, reserving the water. Stir well. Now add the reserved liquid as per your requirement for gravy and bring to a boil. Add the crushed kasuri methi and pomegranate seed powder and check for seasoning. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and ginger juliennes and serve hot with roti/ rice. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Matka Gosht -- Mutton in an Earthen Pot

Mutton for me always meant a lot of work starting from overnight marination to a never ending task of frying the meat on medium flame till oil starts separating from the spices. The procedure no doubt makes the dish truly delicious but it leaves the maker really exhausted. With the kind of short cut dishes that I have been cooking these days without any compromise on taste, I had to have a short cut for a delicious mutton curry as well. The recipe  is similar to the popular Kashmiri Makhni Gosht but with my personal additions. While I cooked the mutton in the pressure cooker, I transferred the curry to an earthen pot to reduce and to infuse earthy flavors and that indeed did the trick for s super yummy mutton gravy. 
500 gms mutton 
1 large onion chopped 
1 tbsp ginger julienned plus extra for garnish 
1/2 cup yogurt whipped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp shahjeera
3 green cardamoms, 3 cloves, 1" piece cinnamon, 8-10 black peppercorns 
1 tsp fennel seeds 
6-7 whole kashmiri red chilli roasted and crushed 
1 tsp kashmiri chilly powder (to make it spicy you can use spicy chilli powder)
2 tsp meat tenderizer or 2 tbsp grated raw papaya
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
1 tsp good quality garam masala powder 
1 tsp ginger powder 
Salt to taste
1-2 tbsp butter
Oil as required 
Fresh coriander for garnish 

Wash and clean the meat. Smear the meat with salt, chilli powder, meat tenderizer or grated papaya and mix well. Cover and keep aside for at least 2-3 hours. I did this early in the morning even before my morning tea so that my meat is ready to be cooked by mid morning. 
Heat oil in a pressure cooker and splutter the cumin seeds and shahjeera. I used the pressure cooker only for cooking while I did the frying in a pan as I find it difficult to do the same in my cooker. Add the fennel seeds and the whole garam masala. Now add the onions and fry till golden followed by the ginger juliennes. Add the crushed kashmiri chillies, ginger powder, turmeric powder and whipped yogurt. Fry till oil starts appearing as droplets on top. 
Now add the mutton along with any juices from the marinade and fry on a high heat till the meat changes colour. Now transfer the contents of the pan (if using) to a pressure cooker (if not already using) and add 1/2 cup of water and pressure cook till done. 
Let the pressure release on its own and then transfer the meat along with the gravy to an earthen pot and put the pot on a low flame. We now need to reduce the gravy as per our requirement and infuse some earthy flavors. You can already see a lot of oil and fat floating on top which indicates that the meat is well cooked. Now add the garam masala powder and butter and cover and cook on a low flame till the gravy reaches your desired consistency. Check for seasoning and serve hot garnished with fresh coriander leaves. If you do not have earthen pot, you can reduce the water added to 1/4 cup and then reduce the gravy as required in the cooker itself. You can also put inside a piece of burnt charcoal in an aluminium foil bowl to infuse smoky flavors. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Chicken Do-Pyaaza

Most of my dishes these days call for the simplest of the ingredients and procedures but result in a delicious and soul satisfying meals. Today's recipe is no different. The concept of Do-Pyaaza curries, whether veg or non-veg, comes from the inclusion of two different forms of onions and that is how the curry gets its name. Here, however, I did a twist and included a third form of onion. So can in fact call this curry Chicken Teen-Pyaaza!! Lol! Nevertheless, the variation did add an X-Factor to the gravy and it was all the more delicious. I have made this curry keeping in mind children tastebuds but you can spruce it up as per your liking. 

1 kg chicken, washed and cleaned 
4 big onions, 1 made into a paste, 2 cubed/diced, 1 finely chopped 
1 tbsp ginger paste 
2 tbsp garlic paste 
2 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder divided 
1 red bell pepper cubed 
2 big tomatoes finely chopped 
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp shahjeera/caraway seeds (optional)
2 each of cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon 
1 black cardamom 
1/2 star anise and 1 small mace
1 tsp turmeric powder 
1 tsp cumin powder 
2 tsp coriander powder 
1 tsp good quality garam masala powder 
1 tbsp kasuri methi roasted and crushed 
Salt to taste 
Fresh coriander for garnish 
Oil as required 

Marinate the chicken with onion paste and ginger garlic paste and salt and 1 tsp  kashmiri chilli powder. Keep aside for at least an hour. 
Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and fry the cubed onions and cubed bell peppers till onions are translucent and bell peppers are slightly soft and fried but still have a crunch. Drain from the oil and keep aside. Now in the same oil splutter the cumin seeds and shahjeera and add the whole garam masala. Once the aroma is released, add the chopped onions and fry till golden. Now add the chopped tomatoes and fry till soft and mashed and oil starts sticking out. Add the dry spices and fry further for 2-3 minutes. Now add the marinated chicken and coat it well with the masala. Fry the chicken on high heat till the meat changes color and is somewhat fried. Now reduce the flame to medium and cover and cook till the chicken is done. You can add water as per your requirement. Once the chicken is cooked through remove the cover and dry up any excess gravy to reach the consistency that you desire. Add the fried onions and bell peppers and stir. Add the crushed kasuri methi and stir. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with roti/rice or pulao. 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Simple Chocolate Cake

With my home bakery slowly getting its pace and my fitness regime in full mode, I hardly have any energy left to do any blogging these days. While I am still cooking for my family and friends, I do not always have the time to post the recipe. This week I did not have any orders to complete nor much cooking to do as husband was busy with a conference. With a special house guest coming to stay with us for a night during the week, I thought it was a great idea to do some simple baking for myself for a change. So here it is, my super simple chocolate cake. Frost it or eat it as is, it is a great tea time companion!
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour/maida
3/4 cup brown sugar (can be substituted with regular sugar)
1/3 cup oil (I used extra light olive oil or you can use any unflavored neutral oil)
3 eggs (can be substituted with 3/4 cup whipped yogurt)
1 tsp vanila essence 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
150 ml fresh cream ( I used some leftover whipping cream; can also be substituted with full cream milk)
55 gms chopped plain chocolate (you can either use semi sweet baking chocolate or any leftover plain chocolate like I did)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup semi sweet choco chips (optional)

Pre-heat the oven at 175 degree celsius. Grease a 9" round pan and line it with parchment paper. Lightly grease the paper on top for easy removal later on. 
In a microwave safe bowl, heat the cream and chocolate for 30 seconds. Take it out, mix and put it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. Take it out again and mix well till the chocolate dissolves. Now sift the cocoa powder and mix into the chocolate cream mixture. Mix it well till incorporated. Keep aside and mix at regular intervals so that a film does not form on top and the mixture comes to room temperature. 
Meanwhile, beat the sugar and oil till smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanila essence and mix. 
Now, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the chocolate cream mixture and mix well into the batter. Now add the flour in three additions, folding it in after each addition. Now add the choco chips if using and fold it in. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
Remove from oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then unmould and let it cool on a wire rack. Slice and store in air tight containers. 

Note for eggless cake:
Beat the yogurt till smooth and add the baking powder (with an additional 1/4 tsp) and baking soda and let it stand for 10 minutes. It will start frothing. You need not add any baking powder and baking soda  to the flour in this case. Beat the sugar and oil together and then add the chocolate cream followed by the vanila essence. Now add the flour alternating with the yogurt mixture. Take care not to overmix in this case as we do not want to let the air bubbles escape. 



Thursday, 5 March 2015

Mutton Curry with Paratha

Frankly, I was quite confused as to what should be the name of this dish. There was no specific recipe that I followed or any particular technique to prepare it. The procedure was almost spontaneous and whatever spices caught my attention while standing in the kitchen, I just added all of them. Since it was prepared especially to be served with parathas, Parathewaali Mutton Curry seemed to be most apt. I did not have time to marinate the meat but I would highly recommend overnight marination to reduce the overall cooking time. Most important of all, please do enjoy this dish with some fresh out of the stove hot parathas, with a dollop of desi ghee!!! Your ticket to heavenly bliss!! 😋😋
500 gms mutton on the bone
2 big onions thinly sliced
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp garlic paste
2 medium potatoes cut into halves 
Mustard oil as required 
Fresh coriander leaves and ginger juliennes for garnishing 

For marination 
1/4 cup yogurt
2 tsp meat tenderizer (can be substituted with 2 tbsp grated raw papaya)
Spice powder (as listed below)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 

For spice powder 
8-10 whole kashmiri red chillies 
3 green cardamom 
1 black cardamom 
3 cloves 
1/2 star anise 
1/2" cinnamon 
1 tsp fennel seeds/saunf
1/2 tsp shahjeera/caraway seeds 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds 
2 bay leaves
6-7 black peppercorns

Dry roast all the ingredients and grind to a fine powder. 

Start with the marination first. If you have time, I would recommend overnight marination but if pressed for time, a minimum of 1 hour marination is a must. 
Wash and clean the meat thoroughly and apply little salt and keep aside for 10 minutes. Now wash the meat again and drain off excess water. Now mix all ingredients listed under marination and coat the meat well. Cover and keep aside till you prepare the rest of the ingredients. If you are marinating overnight, bring the mutton to room temperature before starting to cook. 
Heat a little oil in a deep frying pan and fry the sliced onions till crispy golden. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Now in the same pan, fry the potato halves till golden and keep aside. Strain out bits of onions from the pan, if any, and add the remaining oil to another pan where you will be preparing the mutton. 
I did not add any additional oil to the second pan as the mutton will itself release a lot of fat. However you can add if you feel the oil is not adequate. 
Now add the marinated mutton along with the marinade and fry on a high till the water evaporates and the mutton changes color. Now reduce the flame and continue stirring at regular intervals till the oil separates and the spices no longer smell raw. Now add the ginger garlic paste and fry 2-3 minutes more. Add the potatoes and give a stir. Add half the fried onions and stir. Now add 1/2 cup water and mix. Cover and cook the mutton on a medium low flame till done. Keep checking and stirring in between to ensure it doesn't burn. Add little bit more water if required to cook the mutton. You can also do this in the pressure cooker if you are running short of time or if the mutton is taking too long to cook. 
Once done, reduce the gravy, if any, to minimum and add the remaining fried onions. Adjust the seasoning and stir. Let the mutton cook for another 10 minutes on a low flame. Garnish with coriander leaves and ginger juliennes and serve hot with parathas!!