Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Baking Partners

Baking Partners: A new Baking Group
A group of home bakers helping each other to achieve perfection.

Baking a home made Baking a homemade bread, cake or cookies will give the best outcome. However in order to achieve the best results, a perfect recipe and right techniques are required.

We are a small group of home baker friends, who love and want to learn more about the nook and corners of baking.  We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows.  Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group.

Main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critic the procedure if there are ways to improve, and to eat a delicious food.

Rules are simple, we will choose one recipe and send it out to the group by 16th of every month and the reveal date will be 15th of the next month. On that day we will blog about it. A linky tool will be open during that time and each member can link their post.

First month we are going to do a recipe, 2nd and 3rd month will be a theme and the 4th month we will be back at a recipe. By doing in between recipes, we will able to learn more.

All enthusiastic bloggers interested in baking are welcome, please email Swathi  at favoriterecipes12@gmail.com.

We will appreciate the use of logo or worded link that will help to spread the word.  A bunch of thanks to Tina for designing this beautiful logo

If you   want to make it a gluten or vegan free diet, you can do those modifications also.

Baking a homemade bread, cake or cookies will give the best outcome. However in order to achieve the best results, a perfect recipe and right techniques are required.

We are a small group of home baker friends, who love and want to learn more about the nook and corners of baking.  We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows.  Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group.

Main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critic the procedure if there are ways to improve, and to eat a delicious food.

Rules are simple, we will choose one recipe and send it out to the group by 16th of every month and the reveal date will be 15th of the next month. On that day we will blog about it. A linky tool will be open during that time and each member can link their post.

First month we are going to do a recipe, 2nd and 3rd month will be a theme and the 4th month we will be back at a recipe. By doing in between recipes, we will able to learn more.

All enthusiastic bloggers interested in baking are welcome, please email me   at favoriterecipes12@gmail.com.

We will appreciate the use of logo or worded link that will help to spread the word.  A bunch of thanks to Tina for designing this beautiful logo

If you   want to make it a gluten or vegan free diet, you can do those modifications also.

Baking Partners are

2.    Julie Erivum Puliyumm
4.    Priya (Priya's Versatile Recipes)  
5.    Suja ( Kitchen Corner Try It)
6.    Archana  ( Tangy Minds)
7.    Reshmi  ( EasY Cook)
8.    Prathibha ( Cook Ezee)  
9.    Priya R ( Cook Like Priya)
10.  Sweatha ( Tasty Curry leaf)
11.  Vidhya (  A Portion to Share)
12.  Usha Rao ( My Spicy Kitchen)
13.  Divya Prakash( Divyas Culinary Journey)
14.  Swasthi Blank ( Swasthi The Health Freak)
15.  Sanoli Ghosh ( Sanolis Kitchen)
16.  Jayasiri ( Samayalarai )
17.  Pam Capone ( Live Ranch Delux)
19.  Mirellie( Gourmet Global Creations)
20.  Nicole ( The girl who ate at Boston)  
22.  Nandita ( Nans-Yum Yum)
23.  Reshwani ( Daily Cuppa)
 Swathi ( Zesty South Indian Kitchen)    Creator and Owner of the group

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Peas pulao

I had my cousins over for dinner a few days ago. To avoid having to stand in the kitchen making rotis, I thought of cooking up some pulao/rice dish as well. I learnt this trick from my mom and aunt as they used to cook up delectable meals for guests back home. Peas pulao used to be one of the standard rice dishes prepared by them. I added my own touches to their recipe and it was loved. My friends at work loved it too.

Preparation Time : 10 minutes - to clean rice, grind ginger garlic paste
Cooking Time : 15-18 minutes
Ingredients (Serves 4-6): 
2 cups jeera samba rice
1/2 to 1 cup of frozen peas
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
4 cloves
4 slit green chillies
1 big stick of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
4 cardamon
1 small onion finely sliced
2tbsp oil
2tbsp ghee
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
To garnish :
A handful of fried panneer cubes - optional
Fried cashews
Coriander leaves chopped

How I made it :
1. Pick and clean the rice and keep aside in water.
2. In a wide bottomed pan, heat oil and ghee.
3. Drop in the cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom and cloves.
4. Once fragrant add the onions and fry till translucent. Add the slit green chillies.
5. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes away. I find that this is easier when using store bought ginger garlic paste. When using fresh ginger garlic paste, it is a bit tough to tell with the aromas of the kada masala.
6. Add the olive oil and rice without the water.
7. Mix and fry till you can smell the nuttiness of the rice.
8. Add the coconut milk, turmeric powder, water and salt to taste. To test whether the salt would be right, taste the mixed liquid after the rice is in and it should be a little on the salty side.
9. Bring to a boil.
10. Cover with aluminium foil. Put on the lid and cook on low for 8 to 10 minutes.
11. Once done, using a fork just ruffle up the rice.
12. Garnish with fried panneer cubes, cashews and coriander leaves.

Serve hot. I served this with mom's delectable mutton curry. Recipe coming soon.

Dal tadka

Dal when cooked well can leave you licking your fingers. Alka's recipe Tadka Dal is a must try. I've made it many a time now and it has never failed. Earlier, when I started cooking, I would call mom and ask her when I forget a recipe or a step in the recipe. With the opening of the cafe, mom tends to be busy. Alka's recipe has been a saviour and good reference guide. I made very very minor modifications to my liking but the dal is still "dal"-icious.

Ingredients :
1 cup masoor dal picked, rinsed and soaked in water 
1 medium onion chopped
1 large tomato chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped into small pieces
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
Coriander leaves for garnish
For tadka :
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1 whole red chilli
1/2 tsp red chilli powder - my addition to get a little spicier dal

How I made it :
  1. Pour oil into pressure cooker. Add chopped garlic.
  2. Turn on heat and fry till garlic pieces brown. 
  3. Add the onions and fry till translucent.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook till you can easily mash them in.
  5. Add the dal, turmeric powder, salt and water - about 1 and a half cups of water.
  6. Cover and cook for 5 whistles on high.
  7. Once the pressure releases, mix the dal with a fork. 
  8. Heat the ghee for the tadka in a tadka pan. Add the mustard and cumin seeds.
  9. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the whole red chilly and red chilly powder.
  10. Pour this over the dal.
Goes well with steamed rice or rotis or peas pulao or jeera pulao.

Methi Peas Panneer

The past week has been hectic with a wedding in the family so I hardly got to do much cooking. When my friends asked me what my weekend plans were I said I would relax and probably do some baking. For me, cooking/baking is therapeutic. I need to come home and cook my meal to feel that all is well. So, here is my first post for this weekend with methi peas panneer in a white sauce. This is a really simple recipe and is ready in a jiffy.

Preparation Time : 10 minutes
Cooking Time : 10-15 minutes
Ingredients (serves 2):
1/2 cup packed fresh methi/fenugreek leaves
1/4 cup frozen shelled peas
200g panneer/cottage cheese - chopped into small cubes
1/4 cup fresh cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
salt to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala (optional)
To grind :
10 cashew soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
1/2 tsp khus khus/poppy seeds soaked along with cashew
1 small onion or 1/2 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
4 green chillies
1/2 inch ginger

How I made it :
1. Grind the ingredients under the "To grind" section and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds.
3. Add the methi leaves - chop them up if you like.
4. Once your kitchen is filled with the aromas of the fried methi, add the panneer and green peas. Fry till there are tiny bits of brown seen on the panneer.
5. Add the ground paste.
6. Fry for about 8 minutes. Do take care as it can stick to the bottom of the pan because of the cashew and poppy seeds paste.
7. Add salt to taste.
8. Add the whipped cream and milk. You may require more milk based on the consistency that you desire.
9. Finally add the garam masala. Mix well and serve hot with rotis/paratas.

I served it with plain parathas.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My take on the nippattu

My good friend gave me a sample of her baked nippattu one morning and I flipped. It was just so god damned good. I knew I had to give it a try.
Those of you who do know me very well, I am a sindhi who loves her koki. This dish reminded me so much of the koki. Koki is an onion and green chilli mixed paratha. It is a very famous breakfast across all Sindhi households, eaten with curds, pickle or white butter and sugar.
Now, the nippattu is similarly flavoured and hence the instant liking. The original recipe is here but I added my own twist to it. Instead of 2 cups of plain maida, I used just 1. To substitute the remaining 1 cup, I added 1/4 cup makki atta (cornmeal), 1/4 cup rava, 1/4 cup rice flour and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour. I also skipped the baking soda. I never buy baking soda cause it can be quite harmful for the body I hear. However, I also hear that it is a fabulous household cleaner.

I did follow this recipe and tried baking the nippattu. There were two things that went wrong
1. I lost patience as I was able to bake only two at a time in my oven.
2. Mine were quite crumbly in nature cause of the rava that I had added to the dough.

I left half of the dough back in the fridge and today on this cold rainy afternoon, I fried them as small vadas instead and they were yummy and gone in minutes.

Ingredients :
1 cup maida
1/4 cup makki atta - cornmeal
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup rava/semolina
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 large onion finely chopped
4 tsp white sesame seeds
1/3 cup oil
2 tsp sugar
Freshly chopped coriander leaves - as much as you like
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp melted butter - I used salted
3 finely chopped green chillies
1/4 cup warm water

How I made it :

  1. Mix all the flours together. Add the salt, white sesame seeds, onion, green chillies, sugar and coriander leaves.
  2. Make a well in the center. 
  3. Pour in the melted butter and oil. Mix till the mix resembles coarse bread crumbs.
  4. Now add the water cautiously. Add little by little until the dough comes together. You may not need to add the entire quantity. As the author of the original recipe suggests, the little water you use, the easier it is to roll out in the baked version.
  5. Cover this with a damp cloth or cling film and keep aside for 30 minutes. 
  6. Heat oil in a fry pan. 
  7. Make small rounds out of the dough and when the oil is hot, drop these rounds in and fry till golden brown on both sides.
Serve hot. 

Sweet Corn Soup/Cream of corn soup

I'm sooo thankful that the monsoon did finally arrive in Bengaluru. The rains this year have been pathetic and depressing. However, with what little we do get, what else can one do on a Sunday afternoon?? Yes, have something hot. I had bought these 2 steamed ears of corn from a push cart vendor and I knew what I was gonna do with them.

Ingredients for 4 bowls of soup :
2 ears of corn - steamed
4 cups of water
1/4 cup fresh cream/milk
2 tsp black pepper corns
1tsp vinegar
salt to taste
2 eggs (optional)
1tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)

How I made it :

  1. Remove the kernels from one ear of corn.
  2. Grind the kernels with the fresh cream/milk, pepper corns and vinegar. Not completely into a smoothie but till the kernels appear as tiny as coarse bread crumbs.
  3. Mix the cornflour in the water. Make sure the water is cold. 
  4. Add the paste in step 2 in a vessel. Mix in the water from Step 3. Mix well so that all is well incorporated.
  5. Add salt to taste. Add the sugar as well.
  6. Also add the kernels from the other ear of corn.
  7. Bring to a boil on low heat.
  8. After about 5 minutes, slow drop in the egg in a steady drizzle mixing as you do. 
Serve hot. I'd reckon adding chopped celery would take this to another level. I did not have any at hand.

Edit : I don't have a picture that does justice but it was truly heart warming on this cold rainy afternoon. I served it with chicken sandwich on another day and got quite a good capture of it then.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Aloo Paratha - Step-by-step recipe

I just love my potatoes and what better way than Aloo Ka Paratha? Healthy boiled potatoes sandwiched between whole wheat rotis - tastes delicious as is or with pickle, curd, pudina chutney or papad. I can eat parathas any time of the day. Most people who have sampled my paratha are very pleased especially cause of the amount of potato that I put in.

I thought I'd post this one as a Step-by-Step recipe.

Ingredients for 5 parathas:
For the rotis :
5 handfuls of whole wheat flour
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Water as required

For the potato mash filling:
5 boiled potatoes - medium sized

1 green chilli finely chopped
1 handful of fresh coriander leaves chopped finely
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste

How I made it :
1. Boil and mash potatoes. Add all other ingredients under potato mash filling and keep aside.

2. Make a stiff dough with the whole wheat flour.
3. Divide the dough into small rounds of same size.

4. Take two of the rounds. Roll each out into a small slightly thick puri of same size.
5. Take about 2 times the size of one round of potato mash. Place it in the centre of one of the rounds.

6. Cover this with the other round. Pinch the edges together. Pinch as little as possible to ensure that the potato does get to the edges whilst rolling it out.
7. Dust this well with flour on both sides. Roll this out starting from the edges towards the centre. This will ensure that the filling does not get out. So, basically you will roll at an angle from out to in with medium pressure. Once you feel that the potato filling is well distributed, roll out as usual. Ensure that it is well floured to prevent it from sticking and breaking. You could also roll it out a bit thick.

8. Place this on a hot tava on high. Turn after 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low. Drizzle oil on the edges.
Turn this after about a minute. Drizzle some more oil. Turn the heat back on high and cook for 30 seconds. The appearance of dark brown spots indicates that it is cooked. In case you've rolled your paratha out thicker than shown, these timings may not apply.

I served mine with Mom's Pudina Chutney and Mom's Mango Muraba (recipe coming soon)


  1. Ensure that the potatoes are really well boiled such that they are easily mashable without much effort.
  2. Ensure that the vessel in which you mash the potatoes is completely dry. 
  3. Peel the potatoes when still hot. Do not let it sit in the water for too long. Wipe the potatoes, if needed, to remove any excess water. A watery mash will make it difficult to roll out.
  4. The whole wheat flour dough should be a little on the stiffer side to enable easier rolling. I find that the addition of red chilli powder to the dough helps in this.
  5. The simplest seasoning of salt will do. Try it this way at least once.
  6. For a perfect paratha, the quantity of aloo should be more than that of the rotis.
  7. When pinching the rotis together, pinch the ends just enough to close the rotis together. This will ensure that the potato gets to the very edge too.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Whole wheat pop tarts

Off late I've been quite active on the food blogging world and I don't exactly remember how but I came across this blog. I loved most of the recipes posted there but this one stuck on. Today I got down to making these.

Just for the reader's convenience, here goes a list of ingredients and method.
Ingredients for 4 pop tarts:
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter - chilled
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup iced water
Jam as per sweetness desired
1 egg for egg wash

How I made it :
1. Mix the flour and salt in food processor.
2. Turn on food processor. Add the chilled butter cut into small cubes.
3. When you see crumbs, pour in the iced water until most of the dough collects together.
4. Take this out onto a floured surface.
5. Roll out. Cut into shape of choice.
6. Ensure that the shapes are not more than 1/4 inch thick.
7. Place some jam in the middle of one shape. Place another similar shaped and sized shape on top.
8. Seal the edges with a fork.
9. Apply egg wash.
10. Put in pre-heated oven at 190 degree C and bake for 20 minutes.

It was truly delicious. Do try it. Your kids will definitely love it. I am gonna make this time and again for sure.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Broccoli Mushroom Pasta in a creamy tomato sauce

I hardly ever get pasta right. After talking to my good friend, I got some great tips. So today I got down to making some pasta. The conversation went something like this
Pras : "What is for dinner today?"
Moi : "Pasta. Shall we eat early today?"
Pras : "Yeah. I don't like your pasta so I will eat something else later."

Well, he did not eat anything else later. But, he licked the bowl clean. I've none left to carry to work for lunch tomorrow. So here's how I made the yummy pasta. I unfortunately don't have a picture that does real justice to it.

Ingredients for 2 servings:
Prep time : 10 minutes
Cooking time : 20-25 minutes

3 Amul Cheese slices - I did not have any other cheese at hand. You could replace this with any cheese of    
                                        your choice.
1 packet button mushrooms
1 small head of broccoli
100 g pasta of your choice - I used spirali - you could use more pasta. Ours had more veggies just the way I
                                           like it to be so
4-5 cauliflower florets(optional)
2 tbsp fresh cream - you could use milk
Salt to taste
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil - use any vegetable oil available at hand
1tsp red chilli powder - optional

To grind into a paste :
2 large ripe tomatoes
10 dry red chillies
7-8 cloves of garlic
1 tsp soya sauce
2 tsp vinegar

To garnish :
Fresh chopped dill leaves/coriander leaves

How I made it :
1. Cook pasta as per instructions on pack.
2.  Clean the mushrooms and quarter them
3. Boil the cauliflower and broccoli florets in turmeric water to get rid of any worms, if present. Drain the water after 2 minutes of boiling. This could be done in parallel with step 1.
4. Heat oil in a vessel.  This too could be done in parallel with step 1 after completing step 3.
5. Pour in the ground paste and let it cook for about 8-10 minutes on low flame.
6. Once it gets kind of dry, drop in the mushrooms. Fry till mushrooms are 3/4th cooked.
7. Drop in the broccoli and cauliflower florets.
8. Add salt to taste.
9. I also added a teaspoon of red chilli powder as I felt it was not that spicy. Always remember to keep tasting your food at each and every step. One of my friends knows whether the salt is sufficient or not from the smell of the food - I mean WOW!!!
10. The mushrooms would've left some liquid out. Melt in the cheese into this. Add the fresh cream too. Be careful as to not let the cheese stick to the bottom/sides of the pan/vessel.
11. Cook till the sauce thickens. Add the pasta and mix well. Adjust salt.  Mine was of a more runny consistency when I turned off the stove. The sauce thickened as it cooled. So please bear this in mind when deciding when to turn off the heat.
12. Garnish with fresh chopped dill leaves. Dill can be very over powering and requires some getting used to. Use accordingly. You could also use freshly chopped coriander leaves.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ash gourd sambar

Sambar is a very versatile dish - made in different ways across homes of south india. The sambar that I most like is one with loads of dal, thick and mushy. That with crumbled fresh idlies is a delicacy in itself. Pras told me one morning that I was not a good wife in that I was not giving him idli samabar, dosa, etcetera for breakfast. Basically he was fed up with the quick IT breakfast of oats, cornflakes, bread butter, sandwiches, etcetera. We all have but one life to live and if I did not cook all the variety of dishes there are out there NOW I would always regret it later on, if one exists. So I decided to make Idli and Sambar with a coconut chutney for breakfast this morning. Here goes the recipe for the ash gourd sambar.

Ingredients :
250 gms ash gourd/white pumpkin - chopped into pieces. I retain the skin. You could remove it too.
1/4 cup toor dal/sambar dal
a tiny handful of skinless masoor dal - optional
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon ghee
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 pinches of hing
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 twig of curry leaves
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tbsp MTR Sambar powder
1 small-medium sized onion
1 tomato
1 tiny lemon sized tamarind ball dipped in water
1tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves to garnish

How I made it :
1. In a pressure cooker, add the sambar dal, masoor dal, garlic, turmeric powder, hing and ghee. Give one whistle on high and 3 on low.Ensure that you have sufficient water in the cooker. I usually soak the dal for sometime to reduce cooking time and making it more efficient. So I soak the dals for about 15 minutes. I add water such that the dals are covered and are 1 inch above dal level.
2. In a pan, heat oil.
3. Drop in mustard seeds into hot oil. Once they splutter, put in the curry leaves.
4. Then add the onion - chopped into cubes. Once they begin to turn translucent, add the ash gourd pieces. Fry for 2 minutes.
5. Add 1/4 cup water and cover and cook on low for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the red chilli powder and coriander powder. Fry for a minute or so.
7. Add the choppped tomato.
8. Fry till tomato is soft and easily gets smashed.
9. Add the boiled dal.
10. Add sambar powder, tamarind water and adjust salt as per taste. Boil for 15 minutes. You could give it a whistle or two in the cooker instead.
11. Add coriander leaves and serve hot.

Note : You could use any other vegetable of your choice too. Remember that Sambar is a versatile dish :)

I served it with idli. You could serve this with rice or loon-mirch paratha (Salt-Chilli paratha) too.
I follow Nag's Murugan Idli Shop recipe for the idli batter. I make enough to get one batch of idlies for two and two batches of dosas. We've stopped buying readymade batter and this one is always a success. Pras loves his dosas and he loves the way the ones made from this batter turn out. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Poached Pears with Walnut Chocolate Fudge and Creme Anglais

Yes Yes.. this is made multiple times on MasterChef. So basically my inspiration is from there. I did get firm pears while shopping for veggies this morning and after visiting http://thebarefootkitchenwitch.typepad.com/the_barefoot_kitchen_witc/2008/02/valentines-d-12.html and http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2010/10/recipe-gluten-free-spiced-poached-pears.html here's my version of the same.

Ingredients :
For Poached Pears:
4 pears - ensure that they are firm
Leftover kitsch from the canned peaches - you could just use water
Water to cover the pears completely
1 cinnamon bark
4 cloves
1 tbsp lemon juice
A handful of raisins

For chocolate walnut fudge (Adapted by recipe from Nestle Milkmaid):
1/2 tin milkmaid - I made an apple upside down cake with the other half
10g of chocolate - I used a piece of homemade ooty chocolate
1tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Chopped walnuts

For Creme Anglais (I look at this as a replacement to custard made from store brought powder):
2 egg yolks
1tbsp sugar
100ml milk
100ml fresh cream
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

How I made it :
Poached Pears 
1. Remove the peel of the pears. Place them in a tall pan. Cover with kitsch and water.
2, Add the cinnamon, cloves and lemon juice.
3. Bring to a boil and let it simmer away for about 30 minutes or so until the pears are cooked through. Poke with a toothpick to test. Always ensure that the pears are immersed in the water. You could keep turning them from time to time to ensure proper cooking on all sides.
4. When done remove the pears, drop in the raisins into the water/kitsch mixture and let the mixture continue to boil and reduce. Don't let it burn away. Do keep an eye on it.

Chocolate Walnut Fudge sauce :
4. Melt the butter and chocolate.
5. Add the cocoa powder. Cook for a minute or so.
6. Add the milkmaid and keep stirring till it thickens.Add the walnuts. Cool.

Creme Anglais :
7. Beat sugar and egg yolks till fluffy.
8. Warm milk and fresh cream along with vanilla essence till it is just up to come to a boil. Take off heat.
9. When the milk cream mixture is lukewarm, add it bit by bit ( mind you bit by bit) to the egg yolk mixture. Mixing continuously to avoid any lumps and curdling of eggs.
10. Put it back on stove on low heat. Continuously stir vigorously. Be very cautious at this step as the mixture could curdle with the cooking of the eggs. The very sign of a curdle, take off heat and place in an ice bowl. Blend it when cool and pass through strainer.It usually takes about 2 minutes or so for this to turn into custard - coats the back of the spoon and does not slide of completely.
Mine did begin to curdle but I had the ice bath ready.

Place the pear in a plate. Drizzle the walnut chocolate fudge sauce. You could thin it out by adding some warm milk. Ladle the creme anglais on the sides of the plate and then spoon some of the raisins along with the syrup too.
This tastes good chilled as well as warm.
We had it when it was warm. We've got more to have them when chilled. What I really liked was that this dessert is very light and not too sweet as with Indian desserts.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chicken Biryani

I had some pieces of chicken leftover from the barbecue experiment which was very successful. While walking past the neighbours house after picking up veggies, we took in the aromas of biryani. Our neighbours are muslims and needless to say we were immediately temped. I immediately jumped at the idea of making chicken biryani. So without much adieu, here is how I made it.

Ingredients :
250 gms chicken boneless
2 potatoes - quartered(optional)
1 cup basmati rice - wash and soak in 1.5 cups of water
3 medium onions
1/2 medium tomato
5 tbsp oil
4 cloves
1 inch stick of cinnamon
1 star anise
1 piece of mace
2 green cardamom
1/2 tsp garam masala

For the marinade :
1 tbsp curd
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 handful of coriander leaves
1/2 handful of pudina/mint leaves
2 green chillies
3 inch piece of ginger
8 cloves of garlic

Garnish :
Fried onions
Fried cashews
Fresh chopped coriander leaves

How I made it :
1. Grind the coriander, mint, green chillies, ginger and garlic. Add this with the remaining items of the marinade. Mix in the chicken and potatoes and leave aside.
2. Heat the oil and fry the onions till they turn a dark golden brown. Take out half this quantity.
3. Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, mace and star anise. Fry for a minute till fragrant.
4. Now add the chicken along with the marinade and potatoes.
5. Fry for about 5 minutes, taking care not to break the pieces.
6. Add the tomatoes and fry till cooked.
7. Now add the rice. Fry for a minute.
8. Add the water. Adjust salt.
9. Add 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. Optional.
10. Cover and cook on low till rice is cooked to your liking. I had to sprinkle some warm water in between too.
11. Garnish with the fried onions which were taken out in step 2. You could add some fried cashews and fresh coriander leaves.
12. I served it with a fresh dill raita.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients :
Whole wheat bread - 2 slices
2 cheese slices
A little chopped onion
Pepper to taste
Chopped bell peppers
Butter about 1 tbsp
1 small green chilly finely chopped - adjust as per taste

How I made it :
1. Butter the bread.
2. Place a cheese slice on each slice of bread
3. Sprinkle some pepper. There is no need of salt as the processed cheddar cheese slices are already quite salty.
4. Sprinkle onions, green chillies and coloured bell peppers.
5. Grill in sandwich maker and voila hot, crispy sandwich is ready.

Grilled Chicken in Peach Barbeque Sauce

I have been eyeing this recipe ever since I kept aside a few peaches whilst making the peach upside down cake. Also, with the advent of the masterchef series, I feel like exploring various cuisines more than ever. We had a similar dish with Mango at the new restaurant Mangrove in Kalyan Nagar but the icing on the cake is when your husband tells you that your version is much better than the one at the restaurant.

Recipe adapted from http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/06/grilled-chicken-with-peach-bbq-sauce.

Ingredients for 2:
2 chicken breasts
For the sauce :
1/2 tsp soya sauce
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 peach halves leftover from the can
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
For the glazed carrots :
2 carrots - sliced lengthwise into thin strips
1tbsp butter
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

How I made it :
Preparing the chicken breasts :
Apply salt and pepper on the chicken breasts and leave aside.

Sauce :
Heat the ingredients for the sauce in a pan. Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes till the peaches are melting away or the ladle easily passes through them. Cool and grind to a smooth paste.

Glazed Carrots :
Buzz the carrot strips with salt in the microwave for 2.5 minutes on high. Heat butter in a skillet and add the carrots. Stir till the carrots are well covered. Season with pepper

Grilling Chicken :

Once the sauce is ready, smear 1/2 of it over the breasts. Leave this aside for about 20 minutes.
Then comes the task of grilling for which I used our electric sandwich toaster/griller. Turn it on till the plate gets warm. Place the chicken breast, drizzle a bit of oil and close. Cook for about 2 minutes and then turn it. Apply some more sauce and cook for about 5 minutes and give it another turn once you start seeing tiny bits of brown.

Serve with herbed rice and/or mashed potatoes with the extra sauce at hand.

I did have a little hard time cleaning up the sandwich toaster/griller but it was well worth it. Do try and let me know :) 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Whole wheat thin crust pizza with mushroom and coloured bell pepper toppings

This weekend I have been baking away like crazy. I baked a peach upside down cake, karela crisps and PIZZAAAAA. The cake turned out a bit too sweet. Lesson learnt - go with your gut and do not blindly follow a recipe. The peaches were poached in sugar syrup and I felt it would be better to reduce the quantity of sugar in the cake but since the cake had fresh ginger too, I thought that it required the sweetness.  Anyways, will master that the next time. Here's how I made the pizza....

Ingredients For 4 Medium Sized Thin Crust Pizzas:
For Pizza Base : 
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup maida/all purpose flour
1.5 tsp yeast
A pinch of sugar
1tsp salt
1 cup lukewarm water
1tbsp+1 tbsp oil

For toppings :
12 mushrooms - sliced
Coloured bell pepper - Sliced into rounds
Cheese - ideally mozzarella but I used cheddar as I had that at hand

For tomato sauce :
3 medium tomatoes
1 small onion
5 cloves of garlic
4 red chillies
1tsp pepper
1tbsp oil
Tomato ketchup - optional
salt to taste

How I made it :
Pizza Base :
1. Dissolve sugar in 1 cup warm water and add the yeast. Leave aside for 10 minutes.
2. Mix together salt, wheat flour, maida and 1 tbsp oil.
3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the yeast water.
4. Flour your kitchen top, roll out the flour and make a smooth dough.
5. Place this back in the bowl and cover with cling wrap and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour or until it rises. Since I made this in the evening, I left mine inside the car which was parked in the sun.

Tomato Sauce :
1. Heat oil in the pan.
2. Add the crushed garlic, red chillies, pepper and sliced onions.
3. Once the onions get translucent, add the tomatoes chopped.
4. Cover and cook till tomatoes dissolve when mixed. Turn off heat and rest. I had added some tomato ketchup mixed with a little water to help the tomatoes cook well.

Assembling the pizza :
1. Preheat oven to 200 degree C.
2. Cut the pizza dough into 4 balls.
3. Take one ball, flour the kitchen top and roll out the ball into any shape of your choice.
4. Spread the tomato sauce on the rolled out dough.
5. Sprinkle toppings of your choice and broken pieces of cheese.
6. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.

My pizzas got a nice crust on the corners and were soft towards the centre. The next time I may try baking the base separately before spreading on the tomato sauce to try to achieve a crusty pizza.