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

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

It was my sister-in-law’s birthday in the middle of a very hectic working week, and I was wondering how can I bake something sweet, for her birthday,  and still be able to photograph it in daylight? (I have finally realized that food photography cannot happen in the late evening or night). So the answer was to bake some cookies, gift them to her and reserve a portion of them to be photographed the next day.

These cookies, believe it or not, were made after coming back from work, in 4-5 batches making about 30 good cookies. They are super easy. While I was researching for some good chocolate cookies, I stumbled upon this Dahlia Bakery cookie recipe. People swooned over its perfect balance of chocolate and some more chocolate. Oh yeah! These are packed with so much chocolate,the aroma will linger in your house for the whole day. These cookies have an entire cast of chocolates from the bittersweet cubes to chocolate chips and some cocoa powder.

The batter has a consistency of soft ganache, making them live up to their name of truffle cookie. Rich dense and bursting with chocolate, you will be grabbing more that you intended. Finish them up with a glass of milk.

IMG_8864

 

Yield: About 30 cookies     Prep time : 40 minutes     Cooking time per batch : 14 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 1⁄4 cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour/ maida
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (20 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 550 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (140 grams) butter, softened
  • 2 1⁄4 cups (460 grams) sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (340 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips

I always use Morde’s chocolate slab (they come in packs of 500 gms) and Morde’s chocolate chips. They are very easily available in Mumbai, plus they taste as good as any other fancy chocolate slabs, at less than half the cost.

Directions :

  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder 2-3 times, till it is aerated and mixed together well.
  2. Melt the chocolate by the double broiler method, keeping the chopped chocolate in a pan , and the pan in a pot of boiling water. Or the simpler method is to melt it in a microwave, with short bursts of 15-20 seconds, and stirring in the intervals, until the chocolate is smooth.
  3. Combine the soft butter, sugar and whisk it till it becomes pale and creamy. Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well, till fully incorporated. Beat the mixture for a good 5 minutes, till it is very light, almost foamy. Scrape the bowl as required. This whisking is what gives the cookies their shine. Keep the electric beater away. No more whisking from this point on.
  4. Then add the melted chocolate and vanilla. Mix just until combined.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula. Do not overmix or the cookies with be tough. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
  7. Start scooping out the cookies as soon as the batter is ready. In the warm Mumbai climate, the batter starts to melt further and gets runny, if it sits for a long time.
  8. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and scoop out the batter. It is a good idea to do it with an ice cream scoop. Now it gets a little tricky here. There is no fixed amount of batter per cookie, but you will have to judge that on the basis of your oven and baking tray size. But generally, a scant 1/4 cup is a good amount. (I made a batch in which there was higher amount of batter per cookie, it all melted in the oven and I had one giant baking tray shaped cookie!)
  9. Bake until the cookie tops are evenly cracked and they are soft and set, about 14 to 16 minutes. Rotate the pan at about 7 minutes, if your oven has hot spots. If you have 2 pans of cookies in the oven at the same time, also switch them between the racks for uniform baking.
  10. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before removing them from the cookie sheets with a metal spatula.

The cookies can be stored in air-tight containers for 5-6 days at room temperature.

IMG_8886

Tip :

1. Though these are deliciously rich, they are quite heavy, so give gift packets to family and friends. You will earn a lot of brownie points err cookie points for it 🙂

2. These cookies are very delicate, I burned one batch because I kept it on the rack closest to the heating coil, for a tad bit longer.

Related :

Brown Eyed Baker Truffle cookies

Home Made Chocolate

 

 

°C

Parsley Chicken Filet Burger

Every time my husband spots a Mac D, he wants to have the Chicken Maharaja Mac burger. EVERY TIME.  I mean it.  He will always order one Maharaja Mac burger meal, which comes with some french fries and a glass of freshly carbonated Coke. And that is his idea of a “perfect meal”.

Very frankly, I am not and never have been fond of McDonalds. I just think it is too bland, especially for our masala-loving, fiery-hearted Indian taste buds. So I had been doing research and experimenting with different ways to make the perfect spice infused chicken filling for a wholesome burger. In some hope that Akshay (my husband) would like it at least half as much as he likes Maharaja Mac.

Chicken pieces and patties have become passé, so this time I pounded the chicken into an even 1/2 inch thick slice, marinated it and pan grilled on the tava (pan). It was deliciously moist and full of flavor.

Also this summer, we found some bright green banana peppers and used them to make the banana pepper hot sauce. It went so beautifully well with the parsley chicken, spread out on one slice of the burger bun. Then a nice thin slice of cheese with a layer of mayo on the other side of the bun. And of-course, Caramelised Onions. How could I forget them?! They took the chicken burger to a whole new level!

IMG_8815

My husband’s grandmother had come to our house for lunch. And she is a strict vegetarian. So we also made potato and green pea patties to put in the burger instead of chicken. Hot pepper dressing and salad remained the same, and we had two different burgers at the same time.

Having fresh off-the bakery burger buns helped in getting the texture right. The burger was soft yet crisp.

Yield : 4 chicken burgers

Continue reading

Date and Hazelnut Cake

IMG_8550

I had purchased a packet of hazelnuts a few days back in Crawford Market, Mumbai. Since then I was looking for an inspiring hazelnut cake recipe that would make me jump up from my seat and make it. I was browisng through several blogs, but none felt like a Do-it-now kinda thing. But then there was this one on the Waitrose website, which had a perfect combination of hazelnuts, dates and some coffee. The classic.

I was skeptical of using a recipe from a marketing website, but I could already taste the nutty coffee date flavor in my mouth. And boy, the cake turned out so well. Roasted hazelnuts on the top. Then a  chocolate and hazelnut frosting , and then the super soft, porous date filled cake. Since I had used castor sugar, I was afraid it wouldn’t be moist enough. But the coffee and date paste gives it enough moisture to be soft on the inside and crisp on the outside.

We were celebrating the birthday of my husband’s closest friend and so I had to make a bigger cake or 2 smaller cakes for his gang of friends. This cake serves 8-10 people. And stays beautifully well in the refrigerator even for a week.

Total Preparation time : 1 hour

Baking time : 30-35 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 100 gm Dates, chopped
  •  125 ml very hot coffee
  • 150 gms castor sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 150 gms salted Amul butter, at room temperature
  • 150 gms Nutella or any other chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 250 gms plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Continue reading

American Chopsuey

Coincidentally, we got our ten-year US visas on the same day that I had decided to make these Chinese style noodles, favourite with the Indians; named as an American dish, but in America it is served only in the Indian restaurants. And to talk of the Chinese, I don’t think they even know about this one!

But the crispy fried noodles, with lots of vegetables, and a thick sauce essentially made of tomato ketchup and soy sauce is a favorite “Chinese food” in Mumbai. Especially for families with kids, because of its sweet and sour, but not too spicy preparation.

bowl of Am chop

Whenever we went to any restaurant when we were little, my spice-phobic brother (who would add sugar to even a panipuri), would always order American chopsuey. That is also perhaps the same reason why my father-in-law reminisces about this dish. He must have had to eat it several times when his sons were kids.

Nutrition-wise the refined flour noodles don’t provide anything except carbohydrates, but top it up with a lot of vegetables and it does make for a good meal.

There are 3 steps to make this. I have adapted this recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khana Khazana.

First, slicing and dicing the vegetables and sauteing them.

veggies

Second, boiling and then deep-frying the noodles.

Continue reading

Maharashtrian Mixed Vegetable Upma

It is so hot in Mumbai currently, that it becomes very difficult to stand in the kitchen and cook something elaborate. But breakfasts have to be had.  And they have to be quick , healthy and filling.

This upma made from semolina granules or rava as we call it, is a staple breakfast item in all households in western and southern India. Also the several Udipi restaurants dotting the coastline in Mumbai and further south, serve it with coriander yoghurt chutney. And a glass of filter coffee. Heaven.

Upma can be made in 20 minutes flat, and can be done in several ways, adding any vegetables of your choice. Onions are a staple, and like my mom-in-law does, I like to add carrots , baby corn, sweet corn, green peas and anything else that is readily available at home.

Upma final

Yield : 4 servings

Continue reading