Monday, 22 February 2016

Veg Korma

Everyday, I am pressed with this responsibility to prepare a vegetarian dish for my husband to take to office for his shared lunch. Although I am pleased with the thought that he will be eating healthy this way, the stress of cooking something new (at least 2-3 times a week) is hard to handle. So yesterday as I was discussing the food ideas with him, he suggested making Veg Korma and since I never tried it before, I liked the idea. I served some of it to my daughter as well and she loved it too. Hope his office colleagues love the taste as much as I do. 
For the spice paste
1 tsp poppy seeds
6-7 whole cashews
1 tsp fennel seeds
3/4 tbsp coriander seeds
3-4 whole Kashmiri red chilli
1 tbsp roasted chana daal
3 cloves garlic
1" piece ginger
1" piece cinnamon, 3 cloves, 3 cardamom 
Water to grind
Other ingredients 
1 large onion chopped 
1 large tomato chopped 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
1/2 cup coconut milk (you can adjust as per your taste)
Salt to taste
10-12 curry leaves
3-4 cups mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, beans, cauliflower, button mushrooms, potatoes) chopped into equal pieces
Water as required 
Start with the spice paste. First grind the poppy seeds to a fine powder followed by the cashews and then the rest of the ingredients one by one to achieve a smooth paste. Keep aside. 
Now, heat oil in a pan and add the curry leaves. Now add the onions and fry till translucent. Next add the turmeric powder and tomatoes and fry till soft. 
Tip in the spice paste and fry till oil leaves the side of the pan. Now add the salt and veggies and fry till they are well coated with the masalas. Add the coconut milk mixed with 1/4-1/2 cup water depending on how much gravy you want. Simmer and cook covered till the vegetables are tender. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with either roti (less gravy) or rice (more gravy). 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Brownie Cheesecake Tarts

January was one busy month. Holiday blues, a series of flu attacks, guests, and then daughter's birthday. The month seemed too short to fit in all the work. Now that it is over I almost feel jobless!! Nevertheless, the cooking classes are starting this week and I am looking forward to a new series even more successful than the previous one. Coming back to daughter's birthday, I decided this time to do the food myself and among other things, this cheesecake tart was the star of the entire spread and turned out awesomely delicious. If you want to step out of the regular cheesecake fad, then this is a must!
For the tarts
300 gms plain flour
150 gms cold butter, cut into cubes
Pinch of salt
1 egg (optional)
2-3 tbsp ice cold water for kneading (reduce quantity if using egg)
For the brownie
140 gms dark chocolate 
1/4 cup butter softened 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup plain flour 
2-3 tbsp milk 
For the cheesecake 
250 gms (1 package) Creamcheese at room temperature 
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup strawberry compote or sauce 

Step 1: Making the tarts
Measure out the flour and butter and add the salt. Now keep the bowl in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to chill. Once done, take the bowl out and using your fingers or the dough hook of your stand mixer, start breaking the butter cubes with the flour till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 
Now add the egg and mix. If not using egg, add the ice cold water 1 tbsp at a time till the dough just comes together. Do not make it wet. The dough should just hold together. If using egg, reduce the quantity of water to just about as much required to hold the dough together. 
Now you can divide the dough equally into as many portions you require and tightly cling wrap it and freeze it if not using in the next couple of days or put in the refrigerator to chill until the next step. You can skip the dividing part and freeze/chill the dough as such tightly wrapped in cling wrap. Remember to slightly bring it to room temperature (not completely soft) whenever you are ready to use them. 
Once the dough is chilled at least for 30 minutes, prepare your tart cases and start rolling the dough placed between two sheets of cling wrap. Carefully place the rolled out dough on the prepared tart cases and continue for the rest of the dough. If making a single tart, simply place the rolled out dough on the tart pan and ensure that the dough reaches until the edge of the tart case. Prick the base and sides with a fork and place a parchment paper filled with pie weights or raw beans. 
Preheat the oven at 170 degree celcius and bake the tarts for 12-15 minutes until the sides are golden. Now quickly remove the weights along with the paper. You may at this point choose to brush the base with an egg so as to avoid a soggy base later. You can skip the egg wash though if you are a vegetarian. Now put back the tarts in the oven and bake for another 5-7 minutes until the base is golden. Remove from oven and let them cool. 
Step 2: Preparing the brownies 
In a bowl melt the chocolate and the butter either in the microwave or on a double boiler. Stir in between to avoid the chocolate getting burnt. Now to this add the sugar and the egg and whisk until smooth. Next add the flour and mix. The mixture will be quite thick at this point. Add 2-3 tbsp milk at room temperature depending on how fudgy or cakey you like your brownies. 
Spread out the brownie batter on the single baked tart case or spoon out 1 tbsp of the batter onto the baked individual tarts and even out the top. The brownies will rise while baking. So it is important that you do not fill too much else there will be no space left for the cheesecake topping. 
Bake in the preheated oven at 175 degree celcius until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
Remove from oven and let cool until the next step. 
Step 3: Preparing the cheesecake topping 
In a bowl, take the cream cheese and beat till smooth. Now add the whipping cream and beat till smooth and incorporated. You do not need to beat them to soft peaks but well beaten and smooth. Now add powdered sugar as per taste and whip further. Keep aside and prepare for assembling. 
Step 4: Assembly 
Spoon out the cheesecake topping equally among all the brownie tarts or the single brownie tart and even out the top. Now with a spoon, scoop a small portion of strawberry (or any topping of your choice) compote or sauce on top of each tart and with a toothpick make swirls on top. Chill the tarts until served and enjoy!!