Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review of Benjarong, Bengaluru

On my way to Fame Lido mall, I had seen this huge ad for the Fish Festival that's on at Benjarong. I just let it slip my mind cause I knew it would be one of those fancy and pricey places. However, they did advertise in the newspaper when it caught hubby's eyes and now, which mallu does not love his fish? He immediately made plans for our weekend. I did not want to spoil his excitement.

So all set, the Sunday was planned. 11am to the Frazer Times Fair and following that to Benjarong. We were unable to make a reservation as their landline number was "switched off". The Frazer Times Fair was an absolute treat and left a big gaping hole in my pocket. It showcased all women entrepreneurs with their ever loving faithful husbands around them for support and to look after the little ones. It was so cute. I was truly touched. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, we did get a table for two at Benjarong. The ladies looked pretty and graceful in skirts similar to that in the Kira, the national dress of Bhutan. The waiters were very well educated and groomed. We were served a complimentary starter - a traditional thai dish Mian Khum. It is a traditional leaf wrapped salad. We were served lettuce leaves with it and it was an absolute treat with palm sugar jaggery syrup, roasted peanuts, fresh ginger and lime, amongst other ingredients.

We then had a longish wait for our actual starter - the seafood platter. This costs 1.5k including crab, prawns, mussels. It was not that great. The menu does indicate that it is spicy but it was not one bit spicy. I guess we need to indicate the level of spice desired. In fact, just as we walked in there was a very kind gentleman who indicated to us that we'd need to indicate that we'd not like the food too spicy. Since we wanted the food spicy, we did not suggest any changes.

Next was our main which was thai fried rice with prawns curry. When the dish came in, it looked spectacular - the rice was wrapped in a thin omelette. Unfortunately, looks did not live up to the taste. It tasted bland contrary to what was stated on the menu. 

Then we had dessert which was water chestnut in chilled coconut milk. Well, this was an absolute delight. A light dessert after so much eating. 

Overall, it was an average experience but very expensive.

 My tips:
  1. Avoid the terrace seats - your food welcomes the flies.
  2. It costs about 4k for 2 persons for a 3 course meal + complimentary starter, including a drink each. The portions are modest.
  3. Visit the place in the night as I think you could get a romantic candlelight dinner.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Beetroot cake

I had this one odd beetroot lying around in my vegetable basket and I really did not know how to use it up. I usually make a beetroot paratha which hubby hates - I've not figured that out till date.
I browsed around a bit as I did remember seeing quite a few beetroot cake recipes when I made the eggless beetroot chocolate cake sometime back. Here is Nigel Slater's version of the beetroot cake.
Fortunately, this cake was ready just in time for guests. They loved it.

Ingredients : 

  1. 1 cup whole wheat atta + enough for dusting
  2. 1 cup brown sugar
  3. 180ml oil + 1tsp for preparing the cake tin.
  4. 1/3 cup raisins
  5. 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  6. 2/3 cup grated raw beetroot
  7. 3 eggs separated
  8. 1tsp baking powder
  9. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  10. 1 tsp ground cinnamon powder - I usually grate a stick then and there as needed
Other equipment required :
  1. Grater
  2. Mixer
  3. Hand blender or egg beater
  4. OTG or Microwave with Convection option
How I made it :
  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degree C.
  2. Prepare the cake tin by first rubbing a layer of oil followed by a dusting of flour. I used a square 20 cm tin. The original recipe called for the use of a rectangular loaf tin. However, there as no difference in cooking time.
  3. Sift the flour with baking powder and soda. This is to incorporate air into the flour.
  4. In a mixie jar, beat the oil and sugar together.
  5. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well in between additions.
  6. Mix in the beetroot, walnuts and raisins.
  7. Fold in the sifted flour mixture along with the cinnamon powder.
  8. In a separate bowl, with a hand mixer beat the egg whites till soft peaks form.
  9. Gently fold until well combined into the mixture at 7. Please ensure that it is well combined. 
  10. Pour into cake tin.
  11. Bake at 180 degree C for 55 minutes. Cover with aluminium foil after 30 minutes. 
It was truly delicious - moist and hearty. Healthy too. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Egg Curry

We got this Aachi Egg Curry Powder free with a pack of 6 eggs. Since I had some coconut in the fridge, I thought that this curry would be the best way to use it up. Here is their recipe. I followed the recipe on the back of the packet. I served it with rice and keerai poriyal.

Ingredients (serves 4) :

  1. 4 hard boiled eggs
  2. 3 medium sized onions, finely sliced
  3. 1/2 cup fresh coconut
  4. 1 packet of Aachi Egg Curry Powder
  5. 2 tbsp oil
  6. 2 cups of water
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Coriander to garnish
How I made it :
  1. Grind the coconut with 2 cups of water.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil.
  3. Add the sliced onions.
  4. Fry the onions till they turn dark golden brown.
  5. Add the coconut and water paste.
  6. Add the egg curry powder.
  7. Fry till the curry thickens - about 10-12 minutes
  8. Add salt.
  9. Put in the halved boiled eggs.
  10. Turn off heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.
This was truly delicious. My mom sometimes tells me to buy these readymade powders as they have the perfect mix of the coriander, cumin, red chilli and other spice powders. I usually dismiss her suggestion but I think that henceforth, I may be reaching out for these mixes once in a while.

Maggi Exotica

I make this quite often with whatever veggies I have at hand. This time I had these exotic vegetables that I picked up during my visit to Ooty. I had to use up the veggies soon, before they began to rot as my hubby too had bought veggies from the store nearby. Coincidentally, Nags has put up a similar recipe.You can check out Nag's version of Maggi here.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 1 small sized red onion finely sliced
  2. 1 small sized broccoli split into florets
  3. 1/4 red cabbage chopped into fine strips
  4. 1 carrot chopped into fine strips
  5. 15 french beans chopped lengthwise
  6. 8 cloves garlic chopped into small pieces
  7. 1 inch ginger julienned - very fine thin strips
  8. 1/2 tsp soya sauce
  9. 1/2 tsp vinegar
  10. 2 packets maggi with taste maker
  11. 1/4 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp
  12. Water to cook maggi
  13. 2+2tbsp oil + 1 tbsp (optional)
How I made it :
  1. Heat up water to immerse noodles. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 2tbsp oil. Boil for 2 minutes. Drain. Rinse noodles in cold water. You can pour an additional tablespoon of oil on top to ensure that they don't stick to each other. I usually put olive oil on the top.
  2. In a wok, heat up 2tbsp oil.
  3. Put in the ginger and garlic.
  4. After 1 minute, put in the onions.
  5. When the onion starts turning pink, add the vegetables.
  6. When the veggies are more than half cooked, add the vinegar, soya sauce and taste maker.
  7. Add 1/4 tsp salt. 
  8. Turn off heat when the veggies are cooked to your liking. I like some crunch in the vegetables.
  9. Mix in the noodles. Best done with two forks.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mom's butter panneer recipe with Methi Rotis

After all my cooking experiments, I wanted to make something the way my mom makes it. All this, only because, I really did not get to eat much of mom made food when I was at home this last time. Butter panneer used to be one of my favorites - absolutely yummy with rotis and sindhi papad. Without any further delay, here goes the recipe

Ingredients (serves 2) : 

  1. 200 grams of panneer - cut into cubes
  2. 1 large onion - roughly chopped
  3. 1 inch stick of cinnamon
  4. 3 cloves
  5. 3 medium tomatoes - chopped {the key is to have the same quantity of tomato as there is onion, so adjust accordingly}
  6. 15 pieces whole cashew
  7. 1 tbsp khus khus - add 1 more tbsp of cashew if you do not have khus khus. Khus Khus is also known as poppy seeds. Images of khus khus
  8. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  9. a pinch of kasuri methi
  10. salt to taste
  11. water
  12. 3.5 tbsp of oil
  13. ginger - 1 inch piece chopped
  14. garlic - 6 cloves
  15. Milk for getting desired consistency

How I made it :
1. Soak the khus khus and cashew in a small quantity of water, enough to at least cover the khus khus and cashew. Heat up the water - a minute in the microwave. Watch the time as the water could over spill.

2. Heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add the onions. Fry till golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic. Fry for a minute and set aside to cool.

3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil. Add the tomatoes and red chilli powder. Fry till fat separates and set aside to cool.
4. Once cooled, add the tomato mix, onion mix and the khus khus and cashew along with the water in which they are soaking into the food processor and blend till smooth.
5. Heat a little oil and lightly fry the panneer pieces till they get a golden tinge on all sides. This step can be skipped if you are sure about the panneer. I had tried heritage panneer for the first time and hence did not want to risk it.
6.Heat 1 tbsp oil. Add the cloves and cinnamon. Put in the kasuri methi. Fry for a minute. Put in the blended mixture. Add salt. Let it bubble away (cover with lid, else your kitchen will be an absolute mess). Make sure to stir as the cashew paste will make it stick. After about 5 minutes, add some milk till you get the desired consistency. Once the fat separates, add the panneer pieces. Turn off heat after 5 minutes. Add a dollop of butter before serving.

Note : In step 4, mom's recipes requires the cashew and khus khus to be ground separately. Since I have a huge mixie jar, in which that small quantity wont get ground to a smooth paste, I add it along with the other stuff to be ground. In case you do grind it separately, add it in step 6 before adding the milk and fry for 3 minutes.

Here's a pic with naans which I made recently.

This tastes best with rotis. We had it with methi roti which tasted good too.

Methi roti recipe :
1 small bunch of methi
3 green chillies
1 tsp of cumin powder
A pinch of turmeric powder
1 handful of besan/gram flour
3 handfuls of atta/wheat flour
1 tbsp oil

Grind the green chillies and cleaned methi to a paste. Add all other ingredients and make a soft dough. Roll out like chapati and roast on a hot tawa with oil/ghee/butter.

Mixed vegetable kurma

I've decided that at least for now, most of the posts on the blog will be recipes of those dishes that I have grown up eating. I would love to be known as a good cook just as my mom, aunt and cook Sushila. And what better way than to master their own recipes. I've mastered mom's naans and butter panneer. Now, here's the recipe of mixed vegetable kurma made by Sushila. It goes well with parathas, naans and steamed rice. At home we usually have it with rice.

Ingredients (serves 4) :

  1. 1 medium sized potato - cut into small cubes
  2. 2 medium carrots - cut into shapes similar in size to the potato
  3. 15 french beans - cut into 1 inch pieces
  4. 1 small sized red onion - chopped
  5. 5 small sambar onion - chopped
  6. 1 tbsp oil
  7. 1/2 tsp garam masala
  8. 1 large tomato, preferable country variety - chopped
  9. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  10. 1 big slit green chilly
  11. 1/4 tsp methi fenugreek seeds
  12. A pinch of kasuri methi
  13. Salt to taste
  14. To grind : 
    1. 1/4 cup coconut
    2. 6 whole red chillies
    3. 1 tsp coriander powder
    4. 6 cloves garlic
    5. 1 inch piece ginger
    6. 5 small sambar onions
    7. 1/2 tsp khus khus

How I made it :
  1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker.
  2. Add methi and mustard seeds. 
  3. Add slit green chilly.
  4. Add kasuri methi.
  5. After a minute, add the onions - both small sambar onion and small red onion.
  6. Fry till the onions start to brown.
  7. Add the paste.
  8. Fry on low for about 8 minutes.
  9. Now add the chopped tomatoes.
  10. Fry on low for another 5 minutes. 
  11. Add garam masala. Adjust salt.
  12. Put in the vegetables.
  13. Pour enough water to just cover the entire mixture. Close cooker.
  14. Give one whistle on high and one on low. 
  15. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.
We had it with naans

Homemade Butter Naan

Mom's butter panneer and naan go very well together. Mom had made this combo recently when I was in Ooty with friends and it was a hit as always. On popular demand, here is the recipe for the naan. You can find the recipe for butter panneer here.

Ingredients (makes 5 naans) :

  1. 1 cup maida
  2. 1 tsp sugar
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 1 tbsp oil
  5. 2 tbsp curd
  6. Whey from what is left of home made panneer
How to make it :
  1. Mix the maida, sugar, salt, oil and curd. 
  2. Add the whey little by little to make a smooth pliable dough.
  3. Cover with a wet cloth and keep aside for at least 1 hour. 
  4. After an hour, roll out into thick rotis. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. 
  5. Heat your tava real to steaming temperature.
  6. Wet your palm and spread evenly across one surface of the roti.
  7. Place this wet side on the tava. Reduce heat.
  8. Allow it to cook for a minute.
  9. Now turn the tava so that the other surface of the roti now is directly on the flame. If the roti falls off, use your traditional roti holder to hold and turn the naan.
  10. Spread butter on the top and butter naan is ready to serve.

Aloo Gobi Sabji

Whilst in school, I did not have to carry lunch. We were provided nutritious meals at school. When I moved to college, I had to carry my own dabba. My aunt would wake up at 5 every morning and prepare yummy dishes for the dabba. One of my favorites was this aloo gobhi sabji. My aunt would pack 2 dabbas when she made this, as my classmates would not spare me a morsel. Trust me, it was truly delicious. I had seen her making it a few times but not in entirety. Here's what I remember and how I make it.

Ingredients (serves 2) :

  1. 1 medium sized cauliflower - with about 20 florets - don't split them yet.
  2. 12 baby potatoes with skin on - you can use 2 medium potatoes
  3. 2 large onions chopped finely
  4. 1 inch piece ginger
  5. 6 cloves of garlic
  6. 1 green chilli
  7. 1/4 capsicum chopped - optional
  8. 2 large tomatoes finely chopped
  9. 1/2+1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  10. 3/4 tsp red chilli powder
  11. 3/4 tsp coriander powder
  12. 3/4 tsp cumin/jeera powder
  13. 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  14. 1/4 tsp amchoor powder
  15. 1 tbsp + 1 cup of oil 
  16. 1tsp cumin seeds
  17. Salt to taste
  18. Coriander leaves to garnish
How I made it :
  1. Wash and boil the potatoes in salted water. Ensure that they don't get over boiled. They need to retain their shape. One whistle on high and one on low should do.
  2. In an open pot of hot boiling water, immerse the whole cauliflower upside down. Add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Turn off after 3 minutes and drain. Split the florets.
  3. In a wok, heat 1 cup of oil. When hot, put in the potatoes. Cover and let them fry. If you have put them in with the skin, you will know when they are done based on the crumples on the skin.
  4. Remove the potatoes and drain on a kitchen towel.
  5. In the same oil, put the cauliflower and fry them till the edges of the florets brown. Remove and drain on kitchen towel or piece of newspaper. 
  6. In another pan, heat 1 tbsp oil.
  7. Put in the cumin seeds.
  8. After 30 seconds, put in the onions. 
  9. Mince the ginger and garlic. When the onion start to turn light golden brown, put in the ginger garlic paste. 
  10. Keep frying till the onions continue to brown. You could put in some more oil from the frying if you want to. 
  11. Put in the green chillies and capsicum.
  12. Fry for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes.
  13. Fry for 3 minutes and add all the dry powders. 
  14.  Fry till fat separates. 
  15. Add salt and put in the potatoes and cauliflower.
  16. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes.
  17. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with rotis.
Tip :
I usually use the oil in which I've fried stuff once, to make my chapatti/roti dough. Or, I top my rotis with this oil. Sometimes, I also use it in the curries as the oil need not be heated up to smoking point for curries.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brussels Sprouts Curry

I love brussels sprouts. Not only do they look cute but they taste lovely in this awesome curry. I picked some up during my trip to Ooty, fresh from one of the freshest markets in the world that I know.

Ingredients (serves 3):

  1. 125g brussels sprouts - about 15
  2. potato - 15 cubes of similar size as the brussels sprouts - this will ensure even cooking
  3. 2 tbsp masoor dal - washe and kept aside to soak
  4. 1/4 cup fresh coconut
  5. 1 tsp coriander powder
  6. 4 whole red chillies - adjust as per spiciness desired
  7. 4 cloves of garlic
  8. 1 inch of ginger
  9. 5+5 small onions
  10. 1 small sized red onion - chopped
  11. 1 medium to large sized tomato chopped
  12. 1/2 tsp red chilli powder - may not be needed as per spiciness desired
  13. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  14. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  15. 1 spring curry leaves
  16. 1 tbsp oil
  17. 1 cup water
  18. Salt to taste
  19. coriander leaves for garnish
How I made it :
  1. Grind together the coconut, garlic, ginger, whole red chilly, coriander powder and 5 small onions. Add a little water to bring it all together. 
  2. Remove the outer dirty layers of the brussels sprouts. Halve them. Place in salted water until ready to cook. This will help get any worms out.
  3. In a pressure cooker, heat oil.
  4. Put in mustard seeds. Let them splutter.
  5. Add the curry leaves followed by chopped onion and the remaining 5 whole small onions.
  6. When the onion turns pink, add the ground paste from 1.
  7. Fry till fat separates or the mixture moves as one mass without sticking to bottom of cooker.
  8. Add chopped tomates. Fry on low for 5 minutes.
  9. Add potatoes. Add 1/4 cup water and allow to cook for another 5 minutes on low.
  10. Now, add the masoor dal and remaining water. Add turmeric powder. Boil away for 5 minutes.
  11. Adjust salt. Add the brussels sprouts. Add red chilli powder if required.
  12. Cover and give one whistle on high and one on low. 
  13. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with rice. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chocolate Almond Tart

I was trying to make a cake and while the cake was baking, I made the frosting. Unfortunately, the cake did not cook and so I had the frosting stored away in a box. I had to do something with it. I then tried to make cookies and that sparked this idea.

For tart filling :

  1. 2 ounces cooking chocolate
  2. 2 tablespoon rum
  3. 5 to 6 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the tart (adapted from here): 
  1. 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  2. 1/8 cup sugar
  3. 3/4 tablespoon brown sugar
  4. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/8 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 1/8 tsp instant coffee powder
  8. 1/8 cup maid
  9. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  10. 1 egg yolk
Topping :
  1. Chopped toasted almonds
  2. Whole almonds - about 20

How to make it :
Tart filling : 
  1. On 50% micro power, melt the chocolate minute by minute, mixing in between. Don't do it on high and ensure that the bowl is completely void of any water droplet or else the chocolate could seize.
  2. Add in the butter and rum. Mix to form smooth mixture.
Tart :
  1. Preheat oven at 200 degree C.
  2. Mix together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, instant coffee powder and vanilla extract until well combined.
  3. Mix in the egg yolk and beat well.
  4. Add the flour and cocoa all at once. Mix well. A beater will be very helpful here to get the mixture evenly distributed.
  5. Combine to form a smooth dough. 
  6. Roll out the dough to a round shape bigger than the size of the tart pan.
  7. Carefully place this over the tart pan. Push into the corners. Cut out extras. Using the rolling pin is helpful in getting the rolled out dough into the tart pan. Roll the dough over the rolling pin and then unroll over the tart pan.
  8. Since there is not much baking powder, we can bake without the weight on the top.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  10. Once out and cooled. Pour in tart filling.
  11. Garnish with almonds. Serve chilled.
This reminded me of the chocolate rum balls that we used to get at Sugar Daddy in Ooty.

Homemade bounty bars

Inspired by my friends, here is the recipe for home made bounty bars. Hubby being a mallu loves Bounty due to the coconut filling inside. I too love bounty and thus, this sure was a super hit.

Ingredients (Makes 18 bite sized bounty squares): 

  1. 1 cup + 1/4 cup grated fresh coconut
  2. 1/3 cup milkmaid
  3. 1/4 cup icing sugar
  4. 1/4 tsp vanilla essence/powder
  5. 1tbsp honey
  6. 5oz cooking chocolate

How I made it :

  1. Grate and keep coconut aside.
  2. In microwave safe bowl, mix the milkmaid, icing sugar, vanilla essence and honey.
  3. Heat in microwave on 50% power for 1 minute. Mix well.
  4. Repeat step 3, until you see the mixture turning colour, basically caramelizing. This is called Maillard reaction. This was the first time I was trying this in my microwave and so I was extra careful and this kind of affected the taste of the bounty filling. Basically this mixture should turn golden brown and be sticky like caramel.
  5. Once you get that, mix in the coconut. Keep in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  6. Shape into squares. Keep in fridge to firm up over night.
  7. Melt chocolate in double boiler. I usually use the microwave. Put into a micro safe bowl and heat at 50% power for 1 minute. Mix. Repeat if needed until chocolate has melted. This can not be done at 100% power cause the chocolate can seize if overheated. Also, ensure that the bowl is free of any water else that too could cause your chocolate to seize.
  8. Get the coconut bars out of the frige. Drop into melted chocolate. Use a fork to turn them around and fish them out and lay out baking paper to firm up and the chocolate layer to set.
  9. Bounty bars are ready to pop in.

Eggless Chocolate Banana cup cakes with Pomegranate

I got home today, thinking about the enthusiasm of my friends who travel with me to work. They have immense energy and always manage to try something new after work. And I went, why could I not show more zeal. They were planning to make cup cakes and I said, why should I not do so too. So, I quickly found this recipe to use up the pomegranates that we'd bought during our grocery shopping and decided that it was what I was going to make. I made an eggless version using banana puree instead of the egg and I quartered all the ingredients as I did not want to make 24!!! I also had half a coconut with which I thought I would make bounty bars - this again inspired by the same friends. Posting that recipe soon.

Ingredients (for 6 cupcakes) : 

  1. 1/4 + 1/8 cup flour
  2. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  3. 1/8 tsp vanilla powder or essence
  4. 1/8 tsp baking soda
  5. 1/4 + 1/8 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/8 tsp salt
  7. 1/4 cup sugar
  8. 1/4 cup milk
  9. 1/8 cup oil
  10. 1 medium banana - ripe
  11. 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  12. 1/8 cup boiling hot water
How I made it :
  1. Preheat oven to 190 degree C.
  2. Blend the banana, milk and oil in a mixie jar and keep aside.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder.
  4. Add the salt and vanilla essence to the flour.
  5. Add the sugar followed by the blended mixture of step 1.
  6. Add boiling water. Mix well into smooth mixture.
  7. Throw in the pomegranate seeds.
  8. Line muffin tins with liners.
  9. Pour in mixture upto 3/4th level
  10. Bake at 190 degree C for 25 minutes.

These were amazing. The flavour of chocolate and banana with the bite of pomegranate here and there. Loved them and they were gone in hours.