31 August 2009

Parmesan, walnut dates

We had friends over for Iftari last weekend - it was cool evening and the perfect time for pakoras, hummus, chole, tagine, fruit chaat and dates. I wanted to serve dates to those breaking their fasts. This is a quick little twist to this iftari staple.
Slit open dates. Don't split them completely into 2 pieces. Put in toasted walnut and a small wedge of Manchego cheese (you can use Parmesan as well, salty cheeses work well). Serve.

Chicken tagine

Source: The America's Test Kitchen Family cookbook
Serves 8

12 thigh and leg pieces, bone-in, skinned and cleaned
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 large onions chopped
2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
3 cardamom pods
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried apricots and figs, cut in half
1 cinnamon stick
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro and mint
2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
1 cup pitted kalamata olives

Heat oil and brown chicken seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides (about 10 mins). Remove chicken and add a bit more oil to the pan. Saute onions, paprika, cardamom and a bit of salt. Cook onions until softened, about 5 mins. Stir in garlic and cook for a few more seconds. Add 3 cups of broth, apricots, figs and cinnamon stick, scraping up brown bits. Bring to a simmer and pour into the slow cooker following the chicken.

Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Stir in chickpeas and cook further for a hour longer until the chicken is tender. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and tent loosely with foil. Discard the cinnamon stick. Set the cooker to high. Whisk the flour with 1/2 cup of broth until smooth, then stir into the slow cooker along with the olives. Cover and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. About 30 mins. Stir in cilantro, mint and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

27 August 2009

Provencal Tomato quiche - homage to Julia Child

Original recipe comes from Julia Child's The Way to cook

Serves 4

1 large fresh tomato
2 cups of diced tomatoes crushed and roughly pureed
1 1/2 large onions, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp cayenne pepper, less if you want it less spicy
ground black pepper
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of kalamata olives
4-5 anchovy filets (optional)
4 eggs
1 whole wheat pie shell
salt to taste

Defrost the pie shell and prick it with a fork all over. Bake it for 15 mins at 450 deg. Let cool.

Process olive with sardines to make a paste. This is going to be the base layer in the quiche.

Heat 2 tbsps olive oil and saute garlic and onions until onions are cooked but not browned. Add 2 cups of crushed tomatoes with oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook until the tomato juice has cooked off and it becomes a thick mixture, about 15 mins. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in 1 whole egg and 3 egg yolks.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg. Spread the kalamata-anchovies paste in the pie shell. Pour in the tomato-onion mixture. Spread parmesan cheese and arrange the sliced fresh tomato on the top. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil and bake for 30 mins until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove and set aside for 5-10 mins before serving. I served the quiche with sauteed kale and chard leaves. With a glass of chilled Demi-sec, it was Perfect!

25 August 2009

I heart ...

Other than liver, V has never had any other offal. So to introduce him to one of my fav 5: Heart, i made this for dinner last night.
Serves 4

4 lamb hearts
1 1/2 onions chopped
5 garlic cloves - 3 minced, 2 peeled
1 1/2 inch ginger minced
1 cup chicken broth
3 bay leaves
7 whole peppercorns
7 cloves
3 cardamom pods
1/2" cinnamon stick
4 green chillies cut lengthwise
1 can of tomatoes
Cut heart lenthwise into 4 parts. Trim the fat off each part and cut into 3-4 pieces each. They should be bite size pieces. Soak the cut peices in warm water for 10 mins until all the blood has been washed out.
Heat 2 tbsps of oil in a pressure cooker. Add 5 peppercorns, 3 cloves, 2 peeled garlic cloves and saute it for a minute. Add hearts and saute until they are lightly browned on all sides. Add cup of broth, 2 green chillie, 1/2 onion and pressure cook for about 20 mins until the heart is done.
In the meantime, heat some oil and add the rest of cloves, peppercorns, cardamom and cinnamon. Saute for a minute and then add garlic and ginger with onions. Cook until onions are browned. Add tomatoes, turmeric, chillies and salt. Cook until the tomato-onion mix is almost dry and paste-like. Add the hearts to this mix and a bit of the stock from the pressure cooker to give a more sauce like consistency. Stir and heat through. Make sure heart pieces are well coasted with the sauce. Sprinkle 1 tsp of garam masala and garnish with fresh coriander.

Succotash salad

Serves 4

1 cup frozen soy beans
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 red bell pepper chopped into 1/2"cubes
1 cup chopped frozen okra (I buy them fresh, chop and freeze them for later use)
1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
1-2 tsps hot sauce - I used Siriracha sauce
1/2 chopped pickled spicy beans
garnish with chopped scallions

Heat about 2 tbsps of olive oil and add chopped thyme. Lets sizzle for a bit. Add red pepper and saute for a minute or so. Add beans, corn, okra, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 mins until the okra is cooked through. Add chopped pickled spicy beans, hot sauce - stir to mix and let cook for another minute. Garnish and serve.

23 August 2009

Lamb Stew for Slow Cooker

  • 1.5 lbs lamb (We used Shanks and Shoulder Chops)
  • 1 Shallot
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic
  • Salt & Peppers (Tellichery...if you are a pepper snob!)
  • Crushed Red Dried Chillies
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 1 Cup of Mini Round Carrots (Sweeter than the usual)
  • 1 Cup of Baby Potatoes (Unpeeled....going for the rustic thing)
  • 1 Turnip
  • 1 Whole Can of Diced Tomatoes
  • Herbs for the Bouquet Garni (I only had Rosemary and Thyme, So I also added a few mint leaves (I think this really added something special to the Broth))
  • 1/2 Cup of White Wine (Didn't have any red! I wonder if there is some sort of rule about Red wine and Red Meat)
  • 1 Cup of Vegetable Broth (According to Taste Really)
I had 4 small Lamb Shanks (Cracked, so the marrow can seep into the stew) and 1 large shoulder chop that needed to be pared down to size. Rub the meat with the Shallots and the Salt & Pepper. Brown the meat. In the meantime, make sure the vegetables have been chopped an appropriate size for the stew i.e. the cubes are about equal in size. Layer the slow cooker with the onions at the bottom and the rest of the vegetables on top. Add the browned meat, the wine, the vegetable broth, the red chili peppers and the Bouquet Garni. Leave it to cook on high for 4 to 6 hours....and you are done.

22 August 2009

Green bean rava uppuma

Uppuma is one of those go-to dishes I make when I don't feel like cooking. So it has to be simple and easy. Serves 4

1 cup semolina
1 large onion finely chopped
1 in. of ginger finely chopped
3 green chillis chopped
1 1/2 cup green beans chopped in 1 inch pieces
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Salt to taste
3 cups of water
2 tsp tamarind concentrate or juice of 1 lemon
1 small bunch of coriander, chopped
3 tbsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black gram dal (urad dal)
1 tsp bengal gram dal (chana dal)
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 dried chillies
6-7 curry leaves

Dry roast semolina in a pan for about 10 mins. Keep stirring while roasting so the semolina doesn't burn. Heat ghee and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal, chana dal, asafoetida powder, dried red chillis and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds splutter, add onions, ginger, green chillies and salt. Saute for 2-3 mins until onions are translucent and cooked. Add green beans and turmeric. Saute for a minute or so. Add 3 cups of water, tamarind concentrate (if using), cover and simmer until green beans are tender.

Gradually add semolina and stir constantly to prevent lumps. Cover, turn off flame and let sit for a 5 mins until all semolina has absorbed all the water. Stir in lemon juice (if using) and garnish with coriander.

Green Coconut Fish Curry

Serves 3-4

3-4 fillets of catfish/ tilapia cut into large pieces (i had about 15 pieces)
1 large onion
2-3 green chillies
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 tsp jeera (cumin) powder
1 tbsp dhania (coriander) powder
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil

Marinate the fish pieces with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Leave aside for about 1/2 hour.

Throw all the remaining ingredients in a blender and grind to a fine paste, adding 1-1 1/2 cups of water.

In a pan, heat the olive oil and add the cilantro-onion paste to it. Add a pinch of salt, as this allows the paste to cook faster. When the color turns from a bright green to a dull green, this should signal that the paste is cooked. Mine took about 15 minutes. Add 1/2 cup more water if you think the curry is getting too dry. At this point, add the fish pieces slowly into the bubbling paste. Cover, turn the heat to low and let the fish cook for about 10 minutes. Check for salt, and add as needed. When the fish is cooked, it may flake easily, so stir with caution!

We ate it with a simple vegetable pulao....and let out a satisfied sigh at the end of a long work week...

18 August 2009

Palak Paneer like a Pro

This recipe was followed to the T from Camillia Punjabi's 50 Great Curries of India, which is a wonderful cookbook recommended to me by S and V. The recipes encompass the culinary pallete of the length and breadth of India, and surprisingly, include some delicious Parsi fare which truly appeals to the Bombayite in me!

Serves 2-3

400 gm packet of paneer (cottage cheese)
9oz fresh spinach (remove stalks and clean thoroughly)
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, pureed
2 green chillies
1" piece of chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of fenugreek seeds
2 tbsp oil

Cut paneer into bite-size cubes and lightly fry on a pan. I used Pam spray and placed the cubes on the hot pan, sauteing till they browned lightly on all sides. Set aside.

Cook the spinach with the green chillies, ginger, a pinch of salt, and a little bit of water. Camillia says to cook this on an open fire so that the spinach retains its bright green color. When the spinach has wilted and looks cooked, take off the fire and cool. Puree this mixture in a processor to make a fine paste.

In a skillet, heat oil and fry the fenugreek seeds for 30 seconds. Add onions and cook till lightly colored. This took about 6-8 mins. Add garlic and cumin, and after 30seconds add the tomato puree. Leave this to fry for about 7-10 minutes, till all the water has evaporated and the masala starts looking oily. At this time, add the pureed spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes. Taste for salt, and add the fried paneer pieces. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Serve piping hot with roti or naan.

Eggplant, Leeks and Zucchini white lasagna

I made this lasagna for our supper club meet, theme: Italian. It turned out really good and it was all gone by the end of the night - always a good sign :)

Original recipe: Whole Foods recipe - Eggplant and Artichoke white lasagna

Serves 4

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 leeks, white and green parts chopped
Salt to taste
1 medium eggplant sliced into 1/2 inch. thick slices
2 medium zucchinis sliced
6-8 dried lasagna noodles

For the sauce:
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsps all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low fat milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan reggiano
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

you can reduce the parmesan reggiano and mozzarella cheeses and substitute with leftover cheese wedges you'dlike to get rid of. Balance the flavors, so if you choose a sharper cheese like cheddar then balance it with extra goat cheese and mozzarella.

Preheat oven to 375deg. Heat oil and add garlic, leeks and salt. Cook until leeks are light brown about 5mins. Set the leeks aside.

Pour enough oil in a skillet until it is 1/4 in. deep. Add sliced eggplant in batches and fry until they are lightly browned. Drain on a plate covered with paper towels to absorb the oil. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the fried eggplants.

Cook lasagna noodles as per instructions on the package. Drain and set aside.

For the sauce, melt butter over medium heat.Whisk in flour and cook, stirring continously for about 30 sec. Slowly stream in milk and keep stirring until its well mixed. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens in about 3-4 mins. Add 2 tbsps of parmesan reggiano, goat cheese, salt, pepper and reserved leeks. Stir quickly and remove from heat. Continue stirring until the cheese melts and set aside.

Apply a light coating of oil in a 8-inch baking dish and spread 1/4 cup of sauce.Top with a layer of noodles. Layer with half the leeks, eggplants and zucchini, 1/2 cup sauce, and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat until you go through all the ingredients. Top with remaining sauce, parmesan reggiano and mozzarella.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins. Then uncover and bake for 5mins. Let lasagna rest and cool for 5 mins after baking. Slice and serve.

17 August 2009

Aloo tamatar (potato-tomato)

It's called Aloo-Tamatar but I usually end up using any root veggies (except sweet potato) I might have on hand. This time I used a combination of turnips, carrots and potatoes. This quick and tangy recipe is from V's mum.
Serves 4-5

3 cups of cubed (1 inch) potatoes, turnips and carrots
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 green chillies chopped
3 small tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
2/3 cup of yogurt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala

Heat oil and add cumin seens. As soon as you can smell them roast, add tomotoes, green chillies, salt to taste, turmeric, coriander powder and garam masala. Cook until you see the oil seperating out. Add cubed root veggies and stir to mix. Bring to a simmer. Take 1 tbsp of the simmering sauce and whip the yogurt with it. Doing this before adding the yogurt prevents the yogurt from seperating when added to the hot sauce. Add the whipped yogurt to the sauce-veggie mix. Cover and cook until root veggies are done (~10 mins). Garnish with fresh coriander.

16 August 2009

2 - Cafe Matou

I have read good reviews and the food was dressed to impress but failed to deliver flavor. French cuisine is originally quite rich with ladles of butter and cream added for good measure. And in my mind its about striking the right balance between the rich creaminess and the more earthy flavors of the ingredients.

I had escargot with cherry tomatoes and herbs (I forget the exact ingredients and they don't have it on their menu online). It was topped with cups of melted butter. Vs veal medallion came out tougher than he liked with a mediocrely flavorful tarragon sauce. Dessert was the saving grace of the meal - it was peach cake with custard done to perfection.

This restaurant wouldn't come to mind if I think of places to recommend in the neighborhood. But again, it might have been a bad day and perhaps it deserves another chance.

Vs finger-licking kababs

V made these kababs for my b'day party and they were a bit hit! I could only think about dunking the kababs in chutney and enjoying it with cold beer. So understandly, in my state of utter distraction, I forgot to take pictures - sorry! These kababs will definitely be back in our kitchen and I will remember to update this post with a picture.

Makes 20

2 lbs minced beef or lamb
1/2 bunch of fresh corainder leaves and stems
1/2 bunch of fresh mint leaves
2 inches roughly chopped ginger
5-6 cloves of garlic peeled
2 1/2 tsp salt
5 tsps garam masala
1 tsp ground red chillies
3-4 green chillies (use less if green chillies are exceptionally hot)
juice of 1 large lemon

Process every thing except the meat in a food processor or blender until the consistency is little grainy. Don't add extra water, lemon juice should be enough to get the blender/processor working. Knead the coriander-mint blend with minced meat until mixed well. The consistency should be a doughy and not very wet. If you feel like the mix is too thin to make kababs, add 1 tbsp of flour and knead again. Be careful to not make the mix overly dry. Either make small balls that are flattened into circular kababs or wrap it around a well oiled thin circular spoon handle to create a more seekh kabab like look.

Preheat broiler. Place the kababs on a well oiled baking sheet and broil it for 5 mins on each side. If you haven't used a broiler before, keep a close eye on cooking times.

Serve with coriander-mint chutney and cucumber raita.

12 August 2009

Poori Bhaji

V's Nani (maternal grandmother) made this dish for us in Delhi. It's one of those dishes that reminded me of Gujarati food with a bit of sweet and spice in it - made me feel at home. Even though enjoyed best with puris, V and I opted for healthier naans.
Serves 4

1 1/2 sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into cubes
3 medium eggplants cubed
1 tbsp of panch puran seeds (5 seed mix) - mix equal amounts of onions (nigella) seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and cumin seeds
1 tsp onion seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 med. onion chopped
1 heaping tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

Heat 2 tbsp of oil and add the seeds (panch puran mix, onion seeds and fenugreek seeds). Toast for 1 min. Add onions with salt and cook until they are bright purple in color, about 5 mins. Add coriander powder, chilli and turmeric. Stir to mix and add 2 tbsp of water so that the spices don't stick. Add eggplant, sweet potatoes, salt to taste and 3-4 tbsp of water. Cover the pot and cook over low flame until sweet potatoes are tender (~10 mins).

10 August 2009

Supper club theme: Pacific NorthWest

In lieu of going to restaurants to try new foods, a bunch of us (4 couples) meet once a month, pick a cuisine and do a potluck dinner. This is our 4th round already and it has been wildly successful. Good food, good friends and wine without paying a bucket - can't get any better..

V and I did starters this time round. Our dishes were Cream of Mushroom soup, Arugula-Apple salad and Smoked salmon with cream.

Cream of Mushroom soup
This soup turned out to be quite hearty and very earthy. I loved it - its comfort food.

Ready to serve
This is right before pureeing the soup.

Dried mushrooms soaking in sherry - isn't it beautiful to look at!

Serves 8
1 oz. dried mushrooms (morels, porcini, shitakes, etc)
1 lb cremini mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and sliced
1 lb shitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 tbsps olive oil
2 sprigs of rosemary
5-6 springs of thyme
3 springs of sage
1 large yellow onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsps unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry sherry

Soak dried mushrooms in sherry for about 30 mins until the mushrooms plump up. Heat olive oil in a pot and throw in the herbs. Let cook for 5-6 mins until you can smell the herbs. Now add onion. garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until onions are translicent but not brown.

Increase the heat and add the fresh mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms cook down significantly and the water released is cooked off. Add chicken stock with the plumped mushrooms and sherry. Simmer for 30 mins.

Remove the herbs, add cream and butter. Cook for 2 mins. Turn off the heat and puree the mushroom soup in batches. Return the soup back into the pot and simmer for another minute before serving.

Arugula-Apple salad

Serves 8

2 bundles arugula, washed and stemmed
1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsps white wine vinegar
1 tbsp pear-apple juice (or just apple juice) - you can substite both white wine vinger and this juice by using 2 tbsps of cider vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp sour cream (or heavy cream)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 apples - should be firm and crisp
2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese

Toast the walnuts in the oven at 375 deg for 30-35 mins. Core and slice apples into thin biteable pieces. Sprinkle some lime juice on them to prevent browning.

Dressing: Mix the vinegar with apple and lemon juices. Add salt and lots of ground black pepper. Whisk in olive oil and then sour cream. Whisk. Taste to adjust salt and acidity to your preference.

Toss the arugula with apples and walnuts. Add the dressing and garnish with a generous helping of crumbled goat cheese.

Smoked Salmon with cream

1 packet of presliced smoked salmon
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped dill
2 shallots, chopped

Combine sour cream, dijon mustard, dill, salt to taste. Keep aside for about a hour or so. Take thinly sliced toasts and layer with smoked salmon, a small dollop of the cream mixture and sliced shallots.

Herbed Zuccini and Potato Torte

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
This was a quick-fix Sunday evening dinner, after a rather tiring sailing expedition on Lake Michigan. The ingredients for this recipe magically materialized in my refrigerator, and voila, said torte was ready in 50 minutes!

Makes 4 servings

1 bunch green onions
thinly sliced1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon fresh dill (the original called for thyme, which I substituted)
1 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
2 zuccini, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. I buttered a 8" cake pan. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 the green onions, cheese, flour, dill, salt and pepper to create a crumbly mixture. For the first layer, use 1/6 of the potatoes and arrange in concentric circles, overlapping slightly. Next create a second layer using the zuccini. Drizzle with EVOO, and sprinkle the cheese mixture. Repeat with the remainder of the potato, zuccini, and cheese mixture.

Cover pan with foil and cook for about 40 minutes. After the potatoes are cooked, remove the foil and allow the dish to brown on top. I turned the setting to broil for 15 minutes.

Cut torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with 1/4 cup green onions; serve.

I paired it with a glass of chilled lemonade and it was delicious!

07 August 2009

1 - Uncommon Ground

Uncommon ground grow their own veggies and herbs. They have huge veggie patch on the roof and 2 smaller ones at the entrance of the restaurant.

Armed with our deck of cards V and I went to Uncommon Ground on Devon St. This was after my Sunday morning run, so I was ready for a big brunch. Started off with sweet potato fries - polished it off completely. V had to wrestle the last fry out of my grip.

I had high hopes for my Uncommon heuvos only to be very disappointed to say the least. The flavors were uninspiring and the ancho-chilli sauce lacked the punch I was looking for.

Drinks and dessert were the saving grace. Delicious - I had the Melon water with elderflower liquor and V had a Mojito with crushed blood orange. It was refreshing and an absolute treat on a hot afternoon. We finished the meal with warm berry pie and Vanilla gelato. It had the impact the rest of the meal sorely lacked.
Go for dessert and drinks. They have great hot chocolate and live music too.

06 August 2009

Easy Breezy Cauliflower

This is a great recipe for one of those "not-in-the-mood-to-cook-something-elaborate" days...

1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 1/2 green chillies chopped round
1 tsp pepper (or less, if you don't like too much spice)
salt to taste

(can a shorter ingredient list exist?!)

In a flat pan or kadai, take 2 tbsp oil. When it moderately heated, add cut green chillies and let them saute in the oil for a minute. This will allow the oil to become flavored with the chillies. Next add the cut florets, and season with salt and pepper. Give the kadai contents a good stir and cover with a lid to cook till cauliflower is done. This dish tastes best when the cauliflower is cooked, but with a little crispness left to it.

Enjoy madi (as they say in the South)!

Rajma for lunch

Makes 4 servings

1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
3-4 green chillies chopped
1 tbsp of yogurt
3 tbsps of chopped coriander leaves

Heat about 2 tbsps of oil and add cumin seeds. After about 1/2 a min. add onions with a bit of salt. Let cook until slightly brown. Add tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, chillies and salt to cook until most of the water has been cooked off. Add beans with 1/2 cup of water and cook for 5 mins until its heated through. Stir in yogurt and cook for another minute. Garnish with corainder.

Serve with quinoa.

05 August 2009

Meen (Fish) Curry

Thanks to my dearest Lakshmi for this delicious, authentic Kerala treat!

Tilapia- 3 fillets cut into approximately 9 pieces
3 green chillies
2" piece of ginger (finely chopped)
1 tsp chilli pwdr
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
1 tsp coriander pwdr
2 pieces kokum
8 curry leaves
1 small red onion
1 smal cup coconut milk
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 cups water
salt to taste

Take 3 cups water in a medium size pot and add green chillies, cut ginger, chilli pwdr, turmeric, coriander, kokum, and salt into the water. When water starts to boil, drop pieces of fish into it and cook the fish till cooked. At this time, add 1 cup of thick coconut milk into the curry and reduce the flame to low. In a separate frying pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add curry leaves and finely chopped onion. Fry till brown, and add this into the simmering coconut milk fish curry. Allow one final boil of all the ingredients together.

Best enjoyed with white rice, South Indian papad and pickle!

Konkani Shrimp Ghasshi

serves 4

For Paste:
Coconut Milk 1 cup
3 tbsp coconut
5 red chillies
2-3 tsp coriander (dhania) powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Grind these together into a fine paste in a mixer.

In oil, fry 1/2 cup onions till translucent (do not burn). Add 20-30 shrimp, deveined. I used frozen shrimp thawed for about 30 mins. When they start turning a light pink, add the coconut paste, 2 pieces of kokum (substitute with tamarind, if kokum isn't at hand), and 2 green chillies slit sideways. Add about 1/2 cup water to bring ghasshi to desired consistency. Add salt to taste, and cook till shrimp are cooked through. Make sure not to cook too long, since shrimp can overcook and turn rubbery!

This is one of those fool-proof recipes passed down from my grandmom. I love making it with simple yellow dal and rice.

04 August 2009

B'day special - Pluot kuchen (coffee cake)

We found some pluots at the Farmer's market and curious to try the plum-apricot > plumcot > pluot hybrid, we bought them home for cake. It was a treat! and they acquired a mild rose essency flavor the next day. My senses might have been effected by the ginormous roses Dad sent :)

Lessons learnt - Next time i make this, I will combine dark skinned plums as well to add more color into the cake like Deb does in her successful attempt. My cake, even though delicious, turned quite pale on the top.

Warning - With prep and rising times, it takes about 4 hours to make this cake.

Makes 9 servings - I cut mine into 9 squares

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105-110 deg. F)
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar > I don't like my desserts too sweet so this was perfect. V would have liked to add more sugar.
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
1 egg at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp lime zest
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 sticks of butter at room temperature
2 medium sized pluots

Stir yeast into warm water and let sit for 5 minutes until it turns foamy. Mine turned foamy on the third try. First time, water was too hot and the second time yeast was dead. Apparently, its fairly common to get dead yeast in dry packets. So have extra packets on hand.

Mix together flour, 2/3 cups of sugar, salt, yogurt, egg, zest, vanilla and yeast solution at a medium-low speed (1-2 level on the kitchenaid hand mixer) until incorporated. Takes about a minute. Now add in 1 stick of butter, 1 tbsp at a time until each tbsp is completely mixed in. The flour mixture begin to become shiny and very sticky. This will take about 5 mins. Now sprinkle the dough with 2 tbsps of flour. Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel/plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it doubles in a draft free, warm room for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I left mine in the microwave - enclosed and safe from bugs.

Spread 2 tbsps of butter in a 8" square baking pan and sprink with 1/3 cups of sugar. Cut each pluot into 6-7 slices and arrange in one layer in the pan.

Stir dough to incorporate the flour and then spread evenly over the pluots. Loosely cover with a buttered wax paper (or plastic wrap), then kitchen towel. Again, let rise for another 1 1/2 hours until dough has almost doubled.

Preheat oven to 375 deg. with rack in the middle. Bake until kuchen is golden-brown and a wooden pick insterted in the cake comes out clean. About 30 - 35 mins. Cool pan for about 5 minutes, then invert cake into a plate and let cool completely.

Serve with additional yogurt.

Mutton curry Madras style

This dish tasted even better the next day!

Serves 8

1 cup of dessicated coconut soaked in 1/4 cup of warm water. There should be enough water for the dessicated coconut to become moist.
8-10 whole red chillies, dried
1 1/2 inch ginger
6 cloves of garlic
3 tsps of coriander powder
4 peppercorns
2 bay leaves
4 in cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
3 tbsps oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 kg mutton pieces
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 - 1 cup coconut milk (definitely about 1/2 cup, any more depends on your preferance)

Grind coconut with water, chillies, ginger, garlic and all spices to make a smooth paste. Heat the oil in a pot and fry onions until brown. Add the coconut-spice paste and fry for about another 15 mins over low heat. Stirring about 3 tbsps of water in the process.

Add meat and saute for 5 mins over moderate heat. Add tomatoes and salt. Saute for another 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of water ad cook covered until meat is done (about 50 mins), then add coconut milk and simmer for a few minutes. Serve with quinoa.

02 August 2009

Karela masala

Serves 2

4 small to med sized bitter gourds
1 onion finely chopped
2 small tomatoes chopped
2-3 green chillies chopped
1 tbsp. chopped ginger-garlic
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp amchur
salt to taste

Use a peeler to roughly peel the gourd skin and chop it up into bite sized pieces.

Heat about 2-3 tbsp of oil and add cumin seeds. When slightly brown, add onions with green chillies and cook until onions are brown. Add red chilli, ground coriander, turmeric, amchur and salt to taste. Saute until the spices are well blended. Add chopped tomatoes, ginger and garlic. Cook until the tomatoes are well bhoonoed (juices dry up). Add bitter gourd, salt to taste and 2 tbsps of water. Cook until the bitter gourd is done. Sprinkle garam masala on the top before serving.
Variation: you can add potatoes to this mix as well. Cube and steam the potatoes until half way done and then add them with the bitter gourd to cook.

Red Greens

Serves 4

1 red beet peeled and cubed into 1/2" pieces
Corresponding stalks cut into 1/2" pieces
Beet greens (greens attached to the beet root) chopped
1/2 cup dessicated coconut soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
4-5 red chillis, roasted in oil until it plumps up
1/4 tsp tamarind concentrate
1tsp ghee
3-4 garlic cloves crushed with their skins on

Pressure cook the beets, greens, stalks, salt to taste and 1 cup of water for about 10 mins until the beets are tender. Grind coconut, chillies, tamarind, salt to taste and water as required to create a smooth paste. Add the paste to the simmering beets and cook for about 10 more mins. Finish with a tadka of garlic cloves browned in ghee.