Prawns in sweet and sour kairi stew

I recently subscribed to the BBC Good Food magazine, India edition. Lovely photos and great recipes are bundled up in this colorful magazine. It is a delight to hold and browse through.

Akshay was glancing through the pages, when he saw a photo of prawns in kairi (raw mango) stew. It looked mouth watering and super easy, but unfortunately I am allergic to shellfish.What a shame, I know! Nevertheless, we made these prawns last weekend, and they turned out very well.

The sourness of the raw mangoes gets delicately combined with jaggery and coconut milk to make a rich creamy sauce. Served with rice, it is a staple in many parts of coastal Maharashtra.

Kairi stew prawns

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Shahi dry-fruit kheer

It was the first time my parents were going to meet my boyfriend and his parents. Coming from a mildly conservative family, it was a difficult task convincing my dad (an ex-cop) that I have taken the right decision and that he should meet Akshay and that he would love him. I was quite nervous that day. We had been going out for some time and while my mom was in on the secret, we had announced it to my dad just a couple of days ago. In India, where parents arranging a suitable groom for their daughter is still a norm, my daddy dearest was a bit shocked to say the least.

All of us at my mom’s house ; in-fact our entire clan is very fond of sweets. And I am not exaggerating when I say we used to have a dessert at every single meal. So when my family came to Akshay’s house that day, my would-be-mom-in-law served us this  delicious kheer. We were bowled over by it, especially since it was sweet in a different way. My generally reserved and shy dad couldn’t help but have two servings of the dry-fruit kheer. It did set a wonderful pace for things to come, and my mom and dad both immensely loved Akshay and his family. We got engaged in two months and the wedding was another two months later.

As I said, the culinary highlight of the evening was this shahi dry-fruit kheer, which has become a house favourite , and we must have made it atleast 20 times in the last two years. The best part is that it has very less sugar, and all the sweetness comes from the dried date powder. The chopped dry fruits and the rice granules make it a wholesome meal on its own.

Kheer

Ingredients :

  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 2 and 1/2 liter full cream milk
  • 1 cup dried dates, powdered
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch cardamom powder
  • 2 pinch nutmeg powder
  • A few strands of saffron
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Method :

  1. Soak the rice in 2 cups of water for half an hour. Then spread it on a towel to let it dry completely.
  2. Pulse the rice in a mixer for a couple of minutes till it breaks into small grains (about 1/3rd size of the original rice grain)
  3. Then in a big skillet/ vessel, heat 1 tbsp ghee and roast the ground rice grains, for 3-4 minutes till very slightly brown.
  4. Pour the milk over the roasted rice grains and let it come to a boil.
  5. Continue boiling for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently , till milk begins to thicken.
  6. Stir in the sugar , powdered dried dates, raisins and saffron.
  7. Mix well. Once the sugar dissolves, take it off the heat. This will take about 5 minutes at medium heat.
  8. Add the cardamom and nutmeg powder and mix till fully incorporated.
  9. Serve cold and garnish with a few strands of saffron.

My father in law likes to stir in a few drops of bitter almond extract. Sprinkle some almond flakes, for an extra nutty flavor.

p. s : May this kheer bring in loads of good fortune in your life, as it did in mine 🙂

 

Classic summer Dahi-wada

It was a weekend of grandmoms! Firstly my granny had come to visit us for a week, when we made the Mango cheesecake and then my grandma-in-law had come for Sunday brunch and I made her dahi-bhalla or dahi wada. Actually, I learned the recipe from her and made it for her! Boom! (I did take some help from her, but that was because she was not ready to sit down and relax.)

The dahi wada is basically soft balls of soaked and pureed lentils mixed with chilli powder, salt, and black pepper; dunked in generous amount of yoghurt. It is a favorite snack and breakfast item in several parts India with a few local variations, The venerable dahi-wada is one of the most famous chaat items from India, it is true to its form and you will be definitely licking the bowl once done.

Enjoy the refreshing dahi-wade in the sizzling summer of India!

Dahi wade

Serves : 4 Cooking time : 40 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup urad dal (white lentils)
  • 1/4 cup moong dal (mung bean)
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger

Tamarind Chutney

  • 4-5 pods of tamrind
  • 4-5 dates (khajoor)
  • 1 tsp jaggery
  • a pinch of chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

For garnishing :

  • 400 gms unflavoured yoghurt (roughly 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Chaat masala /black pepper
  • Chilli powder
  • Coriander leaves

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No bake Mango Cheesecake

Mango Cheesecake

My grandmother was visiting us for a couple of days, and we had a great time chatting about life, spirituality and everything in between. And of-course playing cards (All grandmothers love it, don’t they?) She was also was quite impressed by my blog (Ahem!). It featured one of her specialty desserts, The Homemade Chocolate (one which caught her eye in a magazine when she was newly married.) She was quite happy about the fact that her grand-daughter who wouldn’t even want to make tea as a kid and a teen, is now suddenly (since the last two years) cooking a lot and “putting” it on a “computer” 😀

Well, having said all that it was becoming imperative that I would have to make something for her, which she has not had before. She is not very fond of eggs. Plus she has stayed in different Indian states and learnt to cook and enjoyed their cuisine. It was definitely a challenge to make such a never eaten before eggless dessert.

Meanwhile, I had recently become a member @ Chef At Large (CAL). Browsing through their website I found this no-bake cheesecake recipe by Harpreet Bedi Chadha. It sounded great and looked awesome. It was definitely shortlisted.

Another big bonus was a bag full of luscious just-ripe Alphonso mangoes from our native place in Konkan area in coastal Maharashtra delivered to our house by my dad. Now this mango cheesecake was a must do!

I tweaked Harpreet’s recipe to adjust to my springform pan, and made it one evening and chilled it overnight.

Mango cheesecake in the making

Ingredients :

  • 3 ripe Alphonso mangoes
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 250 gms malai paneer (cottage cheese)
  • 300 gms hung curd (about 650-700 gms curd)
  • 200 gms Digestive biscuits
  • 60 gms butter (Amul)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 5 tsp Gelatin
  • 1 and 1/2 cup water

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Pesto and Chilli Mushrooms

The eight inch tall stone mortar and the heavy club-shaped pestle lying in one corner of a cupboard always made me think of my husband’s grandmother. I have heard stories of how she used to crush and grind uncooked potatoes, garlic, and green chillies and then lightly cook them to make an awesome dish called “batatyacha thecha” (something like a spicy potato Au Gratin). I had never met her, she passed away a couple of years before my wedding, but there are always abundant stories of her sitting down and preparing elaborate dishes.

For a long time now the mortar and pestle make me want to go pick it up and rustle up some basil in it to make the Pesto. Actually, the word pesto itself comes from pestare, to pound.

So much has been written about the versatile pesto sauce. Almost every food website and food blogger have this recipe online. And it can be used in so many different forms! In pasta, on open face sandwiches, on toasts, on pizza, in salads, cooked in rice with peas, for chicken gravy, added to hummus etc etc.. The list can go on as long as your imagination.

The best part is, it is SO ridiculously EASY! You wont believe it till you make it. I did not make it for a long time, because there was no fresh basil available here where I stay. So I asked a local vegetable vendor to get me a bunch of basil, and once that was in my hands, the pesto literally took 15 minutes.

Pestom with mushrooms

Mushrooms are a house favourite. And they go excellently with pesto.Sauteed mushroom with chillies and olive oil piled up on toasted bread layered with pesto. That’s an excellent breakfast for a lazy morning, when you want to relax with a cup of chai and watch the world go by..

Ingredients  and Method :

For pesto

Yield : 1 cup pesto

  • 1 bunch of fresh basil : About 2 cups leaves only, washed and dried
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 18-20 pine nuts or 10-12 cashew-nuts , chopped
  • roughly 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, loosely packed and freshly grated
  • Salt to taste
  • 7-8 black peppers
  • A few tbsp of extra virgin Olive Oil

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