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Friday, September 30, 2011

Sago, Vermicelli & Carrot Kheer for 100000 Page Hits!! ~ Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye?

Yes!! Ruchik Randhap has had over 1 Lakh page views!! Thank you dear readers for making this happen! You, You and You have made it possible! Not only this, I am also glad to note that Ruchik Randhap's readership has increased significantly on Facebook too!!

Life is all about celebrating the little moments that make us happy & living worthwhile, so yes, small milestones like this are what I like to celebrate and what's better than going the typical Indian way & saying "Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye"? (shall we celebrate with some sweets?)


Oh yes, we must! And what's better than starting the upcoming festive season with something sweet and less guilty? (Yeah, according to me sweets are never guilt free). A Kheer or Payasam as it is called in South India is probably a one of the healthier ways of getting your sweet tooth satiated. This particular Kheer has the goodness of Milk, Sago (Tapioca Pearls) & Carrots that create magic with all the flavours they bring in! Toss in some roasted Cashew Nuts & Raisins and you have a yummy desert in a bowl - perfect for royalty!

While you can add as much sweetness to this dish as you desire, I would recommend to go easy on the sugar as in my opinion a Kheer should always be delicately sweet or you won't be able to go beyond a few spoonfuls. This is especially because milk that forms the base of Kheer often tends to leave a strong aftertaste. Also, the Carrots in this Kheer adds to the sweetness anyway as Carrots are naturally sweet. A delicately flavoured Kheer or Payasam is always the perfect way to end a grand meal. 


Sago, Vermicelli & Carrot Kheer
Serves 4-5

You Need:
  • 1/2 litre whole milk
  • 3 tsp Sago/Sabudana/Tapioca Pearls
  • 50gm Vermicelli/Semiya/Sevai
  • 50gm grated Carrots
  • 50-75gm Sugar (or as per taste)
  • 1 cardamom powdered
  • 3 tsp ghee
  • 30gm cashewnuts
  • 15gm raisins (kishmish)
Method:
1. Wash & soak the Sago for 1/2 hour. In a pan, cook the Sago with enough water to cover it (about 1 cup)
2. Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan and roast the nuts to golden and remove. Add the raisins and fry them just until they swell up a bit and remove. Add Vermicelli & roast slightly, remove it & then add the grated carrots to the same ghee and roast it on a slow flame. Keep aside
3. In the same pan, heat the milk & bring it to a boil, simmer until it thickens. Add the cooked Sago along with the water, roasted Semiya and Carrots to the milk and cook till everything is done halfway
4. Add the sugar and simmer for another 10minutes. Add the roasted cashewnuts & raisins, bring the mixture to a boil and switch off the flame.
5. Serve hot (recommended)

Note:
When you cook the Sago, its colour will change from white to translucent and the mixture will look a lot like egg whites.
The Kheer has a tendency to thicken when it cools down, so re-heat it on a very slow flame and add a little warm milk to bring it to the desired consistency before serving.

Adapted from: Spice Your Life

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Soya Chunks Curry

It's Blog Hop Wednesday once more and I am amazed at how time flies these days - yeah, I say 'these days' because I was absolutely certain that once my son started school I would have the whole morning to myself to spend it as and how I wished. But I was so wrong! I have crammed up my mornings with a whole bunch of things to do which require an active brain to do all the thinking, analysing & planning that it leaves me no time for anything else. I have to literally follow a strict time table each day in order to accomplish & strike off the tasks on my To-Do list. Which is why I guess the days roll by so quickly and before I know it, it's the weekend and that passes by ever so quickly and what do you have? Another Wednesday! But then, I am not complaining as every alternate Wednesday I participate in the Blog Hop Wednesdays - an event hosted by Radhika of Tickling Palates. Participating bloggers are paired with each other and have to try a recipe from each other's blogs. This is my fourth blog hop out of five and I am enjoying them thoroughly


Like I mentioned in the previous Blog Hops where I tried Aate Ka Halwa, Methi Pulao and Crispy Rice Stuffed Croquettes from different blogs, Blog Hopping has given me the opportunity to break myself from hum drum cooking and try out new things which I may never have tried before. I see myself incorporating a lot of vegetarian recipes in my meal plans as I have collected a treasure trove of vegetarian recipes from these Blog Hop events.

Pic Above: Soya Chunks Curry served with Tomato Rice (Recipe to follow)

When I Blog Hop I usually bookmark recipes that I have either never eaten before or those that make use of ingredients that I have never had the opportunity or the inclination to use in my cooking. This brings me to the main ingredient in today's post - Soya. A few years ago, I fled at the mention of Soya in my food. Honestly, I don't even recall where I ate it, I do remember that I ate it a long long time ago and never took to liking it much. A couple of years ago, I decided to introduce all such foods shunned earlier by R & me into our diets. Maybe marriage & motherhood does that to us women, we suddenly want to eat & feed healthier things to our families knowing that their health is in our hands. I tried Soya Granules Sabzi from Sanjeev Kapoor's Khazaana of Indian Recipes and R & I loved it so much that I make it every so often for breakfast as an accompaniment to chapathis.


Since I had never tried my hand at cooking Soya chunks, I was delighted to find the recipe in my blog hop partner for this week - Nisha's blog Nisha's Kitchen. They say Soya in it's chunky form is to a vegetarian what chicken or mutton is to a non vegetarian. I could never believe that the chunks actually tasted like meat until I tried it myself. I guess the secret in making Soya chunks taste like a non vegetarian dish is adequate soaking of the chunks in warm salted water and of course the blend of spices in the masala. 

Soya chunks can be cooked in a variety of things, whether it's a pulao, a gravy or a dry dish. I made this dish in a semi gravy form, but didn't add all the gravy into the bowls while clicking the pictures as I didn't want to drown the chunks in it! So yeah, it looks like a dryish dish. 


Soya Chunks Curry
Serves: 2-3
You Need:
  • 1 cup soya chunks
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1-1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice (optional)
  • 1-1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste
For garnishing
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
Method:
1. Wash the soya chunks and soak them for 15 minutes in a bowl of hot water mixed with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder & salt to taste. Pressure cook the chunks in the soaked water for about 2-3 whistles. Keep aside.
2. Heat the oil in a wok or pan and fry the onions till translucent. Toss in the ginger garlic paste & fry for a minute. Add the chilli & coriander powders and mix well. Add the chopped tomatoes, mix, cover & cook on a very slow flame till the oil starts to separate and tomato is well cooked.
3. Add the precooked soya chunks and 1/2 cup of water (you can use the water from the pressure cooker), garam masala and a few chopped coriander leaves. Check salt to taste. Simmer & cook for another 5-7 minutes, ensuring that all the water doesnt dry up.
4. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or chapathis




Monday, September 26, 2011

Egg Dum Biryani

On a boring weekday when I can't think of anything interesting to cook & my meal plan has gone for a toss, this is egg-jactly what I love to prepare! Eggs! Love them or hate them, they are probably the most versatile among all edible things. Cook them in savouries or use them in baking - there's an unending list of things you can do with eggs to make sure you get your dose of protein. 

When I was working, my colleague who is a pure vegetarian Tam Brahm once told me that when she was travelling to the Far East she asked for a vegetarian breakfast on board the flight. Well, what appeared on her plate wasn't exactly vegetarian - she was served eggs sunny side up! This was because in certain flight zones eggs & seafood are actually considered vegetarian. Strange but true. In India, while strict vegetarianism is still practised by many, there are a lot of ovo-vegetarians who take eggs as part of their otherwise vegetarian diet.


While we can still debate endlessly about what came first, the Chicken or the Egg, there's no denying that Eggs taste delicious in whatever form they are eaten - hard boiled, soft boiled, fried, poached, baked or scrambled! (they say there are 101 ways to cook eggs! They are a simple and no-fuss form of eating your food. 

I think my blog would be incomplete if I didn't have an Egg Biryani recipe added to my collection. R simply loves Egg Biryanis and since I love to try out new Biryani & Pulao recipes, I ventured out to hunt for a good recipe online. We were quite pleased with the outcome as it was a very satisfying meal. It was the goodness of Eggs combined with the goodness of Rice and both R & I reminisced about the our favourite restaurants in Mangalore where Egg Biryanis used to be served. 


While Eggs figure out on our weekly menu usually in the form of hard boiled eggs cooked in a curry or as scrambled/fried eggs for breakfast, I have decided to make the biryani at least once a month from now onwards - Biryanis as you know are a complete meal by themselves, it's just that you need to spend a little extra time and effort preparing them, but the outcome is always worth it!



Egg Dum Biryani
Serves 4

You Need:
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups basmati rice
  • olive oil as required (or ghee)
For the masala
  • 2 medium onions sliced
  • 1 large tomato chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves
  • 1 level tsp chilli pwd (adjust as per taste)
  • 2 green chillies slit
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
  • 1 level tsp biryani masala (I used Shaan Biryani masala)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 cup curds (yogurt) beaten to creamy consistency
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tsp lime juice
For the rice
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • oil or ghee
  • 2-3 coriander stalks
For garnishing during the layering
  • 1/4 cup raisins & cashew nuts
  • 2-3 sprigs mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion sliced fine
  • a few strands of saffron
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • oil or ghee
Method:

Boiling the eggs:
Place the eggs in a wide, deep pan filled with enough water to cover them and bring the water to a rolling boil. Continue to boil  for 12 minutes. Turn off the flame, transfer to cold water & peel off the shells. Slit each egg vertically halfway. Keep aside. 

Preparing the garnishing for the layering
In a thick bottomed pan heat the oil or ghee & fry the sliced onion till golden brown. Take care not to burn it as it will taste bitter. Remove & keep aside. In the same oil/ghee fry the raisins & cashewnuts. Remove & keep aside.
Prepare the saffron milk by dissolving the saffron strands in 2 tbsp warm milk. Keep aside for at least 10minutes before layering

Preparing the masala:
In a large pan heat the oil and fry the sliced onions till they turn pale pink. Toss in the roughly chopped mint & coriander leaves, slit green chillies, chopped tomatoes one by one and fry for about 30 seconds each. Add in the ginger garlic paste, garam masala, biryani masala and fry for another 2 minutes till it is well blended. 
Add the boiled eggs and continue to saute till the eggs are well coated with the masala. Add the beaten curds and mix well and continue to saute till the oil separates. Do this on a medium low flame. Add the lime juice and turn off the heat.

Preparing the rice:
Wash & soak the rice for about 10-12 minutes, drain & keep aside. In a deep pan, heat some oil/ghee and toss in the slightly crushed cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, star anise & bay leaf. Fry for a few seconds and add the drained rice. Fry for a couple of minutes and add freshly boiled water in the ratio of 1:1-1/2 (for every one cup of rice use one & half cups of water). So for 1-1/2 cups of rice as per this recipe, you need to use 2-1/2 cups of water, this results in rice that is 90% cooked and that is ideal for 'dum' style of cooking where the rice will get completely cooked in its own steam while it is placed on 'dum'. Add the crumbled stock cube and stir to dissolve it. add the lime juice and check salt to taste. Toss in the chopped coriander stalks.

When the water comes to a full boil, reduce to sim, cover the pan with a tightly fitting lid, place a weight on it so no steam escapes and cook on very slow flame for 8 minutes. Do not open the lid in between. After 8 minutes, open the lid, gently fluff up the rice with a fork and cover for another minute or two.

Layering the rice & eggs - The grand finale:
Preferably grease a large deep pan with a little ghee and place half the number of eggs & the masala at the base. Spread half the cooked rice on top of it. Sprinkle the chopped coriander, fried onions, raisins & cashew nuts. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture, rice and garnishing.
Sprinkle the surface with the saffron milk. Cover the pan with a well fitting lid. You can also cover the pan first with aluminium foil so that no steam escapes. 
Place the biryani vessel on a tawa and cook on dum for 15-20 minutes. Let the flame be very low.

Serving:
While serving dig in all the way down and remove the layers of rice & egg mixture onto a serving dish. Garnish if desired with any leftover mint leaves, nuts, raisins or fried onions. Serve hot with a simple raitha

Adapted from: Padma's Kitchen

Friday, September 23, 2011

Banana & Choco Chip Muffins

Today when I sat to type the next post, I saw a huge fight going on between the draft posts. "Me first" said the Dum Biryani. "No, me first!!" said the Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins. Sigh! It's so hard to pick between the two Bs I love most - Baking & Biryani, so I decided to post both the recipes back to back (hopefully on the same day!). This is also an extension of the Readers Choice series (which I started a couple of days ago on Facebook) - a lot of people wanted to see a recipe of Muffins, some asked for Dum Biryani but yes,  Fish Curry won the maximum votes so Fish Vindaloo it was!


This particular recipe does not have any childhood memories attached to it, simply because my mum never baked (ever) - we didn't own an oven and like most Mangalorean mums she happily doled out authentic Mangalorean fare to help us fill our bellies. I didn't come home to smell the aroma of cakes being freshly baked instead I had the aromas of Mangalore buns, Portha Polay, Sweet Poha wafting through the doorway giving me such a grand welcome back home from wherever I returned - school (or college), tuition classes, or choir practices. I grew up eating all things Mangalorean and it was once a week - on Saturdays that my dad used to bring home some typical bakery eats such as the Malpuri, Mysore Pak, Hot Cross Buns (minus the cross), Meat Puffs, Sponge Cakes (the small yellow rectangular cakes which are now extinct) or cup cakes (also yellow & with caraway seeds thrown in). I totally loved the rectangular sponge cakes from M.D Souza & Sons, Bakers & Caterers at Hampankatta (It was sad to see them close down the bakery a few years ago). Nothing can beat the taste of those lovely fresh from the oven bakery products which had the distinct 'bakery' taste. We bought them because we lived in an era where it was a given to prepare all meals & snacks at home and indulge in 'outside' food occasionally. My dad however made sure we had something substantial to sink our teeth into every weekend. 


I also lived in an era when it was okay to carry snacks from home to the movies (this of course was a gazillion years before bomb blasts & terrorism took center stage giving birth to frisking & scanning of person & property in full public view). When I was little, nobody bothered to check bags and one was free to carry one's own snacks to the movies. Slightly chewy & salty popcorn came in small plastic packets and cost something like Rs. 2 !! My mum always carried warm & fresh buns (minus the cross) and cupcakes which I loved to eat while watching the movie (or if I got too hungry standing in the queue for tickets outside). I can't even imagine doing that today, with strict instructions that one will not be permitted into the cinema hall if found to be carrying outside snacks, I end up paying through my nose to buy the ridiculously over priced tub of popcorn (around Rs.175) which is way too much even for two adults to finish.


Anyway, getting back to today's muffins. These babies were so delicious! Undoubtedly the best I've made so far. I steered away from the original recipe & replaced a part of the refined flour with whole wheat flour and skipped the butter to replace it with olive oil. I strongly feel that if we cannot entirely avoid eating refined foods, the least we can do is add some health back into them.


I joined the majority of people who bake with bananas because they are don't know what to do with them when they turn black (over ripe). I also wanted my little fellow to eat the fruit in some way or the other. Adding the chocolate chips only meant that he'd gobble the muffin faster than he would have a banana as is. These muffins tasted so yummy especially when they were still warm that even R couldn't resist having more than his usual quota (I told you he's not much of a cake person).


The partial replacement of Refine Flour (Maida) with Whole Wheat flour gave some amount of density to the muffins but that was beautifully balanced by the complete replacement of butter with delicately flavoured & healthy olive oil (I used Borges) resulting in cotton soft muffins that are light on the digestive system (or so they feel). I am definitely baking these muffins again & again. Y (my son) and I had a great deal of fun preparing them - I put my pretty star shaped silicone muffin moulds to use beside the regular paper liners. If you wish to skip the chocolate chips you can try adding dried cranberries or any pitted dried berries.


Banana & Choco Chip Muffins
Yield: 12 medium size muffins

You Need:
  • 70gm all purpose flour/maida
  • 30gm whole wheat flour/atta
  • 100gm unsalted butter or 120ml (4 ounces) olive oil
  • 100gm powdered sugar
  • 50gm chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 small bananas * see notes
Method:
1. Sift the flours and the baking powder together a couple of times. Keep aside. Beat the sugar and the olive oil or butter till pale (for about 2minutes on high speed if using an electric whisk).
2. Add one egg at a time and beat well. Pour in the vanilla extract and blend. Add the flour mixture and gently mix with a spatula till well incorporated. Add the mashed bananas and chocolate chips and mix gently.
3. Pour into a greased muffin tray or large cup cake liners/silicone moulds and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 25 minutes or till the skewer inserted comes out clean.
4. Remove and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Notes:
  • I used a blend of all purpose flour & whole wheat flour. You can use 100gm all purpose flour too, but I chose the healthier version.
  • I used 2 small Elaichi/Kadhali bananas. Use slightly over ripe bananas for best results.




Adapted from: Little Food Junction

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fish Vindaloo ~ Reader's Choice!

"All men are equal before fish"
Herbert Hoover 

It's been ages since I posted a fish recipe and while I was debating about which recipe from my drafts should see the light of day, I thought it would be best to take the collective opinion of all the readers on my Facebook page. Out of a choice of 5 recipes the 'fish curry' got the highest votes. But fret not my friends, the muffins, dum biryani, kheer & vegetable stir fry are all waiting to delight you in a couple of days!

Since we like to eat a lot of seafood, I am always on the lookout for different recipes. It goes without saying that the Konkan Coast can boast of a zillion different curries for any given variety of fish. Such is the beauty of our coast. So while I flipped through my recipe book I zeroed in on the Vindaloo style of making the fish I had just popped out of the freezer.

(This is how the curry turns out - a fiery Red colour)

The Vindaloo is typically a Goan dish of meat, usually pork prepared with wine and garlic. These ingredients figure themselves in the term 'Vindaloo' which is a name derived from the Portuguese dish - "Carne de Vinha d' Alhos (where Carne means meat, Vinha means wine and alhos means garlicHowever this dish was later modified in Mumbai by the substitution of vinegar for the wine and the addition of red Kashmiri chillies. A Vindaloo is meant to be a spicy (if not the spiciest) dish that has a tang that vinegar imparts. By the way, did you know that Vindaloo is often mistaken to be a dish that has potatoes in it because 'aloo' means potatoes in Hindi!

I love my fish curries, especially the ones which are not too 'coconutty'. Yeah yeah, I have declared my undying love for all things coconut in several of my previous posts, but then the coconut has to be finely ground to form a beautiful base for the fish curry. Only then can you truly savour the flavours released by the fish in question and the spices that are married to it. The urban kitchen gadget a.k.a mixer grinder doesn't give such good results you see, which is why I personally feel that I should smuggle a typical Mangalorean grinding stone (mortar & pestle made of granite) to Mumbai. Sigh! If wishes were horses..


This is also a reason why I like coconut milk (cream) based gravies than those that use grated and ground coconut. My mum used to make the yummiest fish curries with a coconut milk base - slurp! (one reason why I also love Thai curries that are predominantly coconut milk based). I hope to post one of her recipes soon.
As much as we travel & taste the flavours of different cuisines, at the end of the day the most satisfying meal is the one you've grown up eating, even better if it comes attached with sentiments & memories of that special someone who used to prepare it ~ most times it's our mother.

For now, I will leave you to savour the flavours of this different yet delicious Vindaloo which tastes excellent with piping hot steamed rice and a  side dish of a simple vegetable (stir fry/thoran/thel piao style). This curry is a striking Red colour thanks to the Kashmiri chillies known for their fiery Red colour but not so much for the spiciness. The tangy notes brought in by the vinegar makes it so similar to the Mangalorean Shirko Shindaap (a style of fish preparation made with vinegar & chopped onions-ginger-garlic-green chillies) yet so distinctly different. You may add any variety of dry red chillies here. If you want a typical Mangalorean taste to your curry you can add the Kundapur/Kumti chillies (Bedgi) that are complete with spice & colour.


This curry is suitable for the preparation of a variety of fish such as Pomfret, Black Pomfret (Sorngul/Maanji/Halwa), Croaker/Jew Fish (Dhadyare/Koddai), Mullet (Shevto/Mala/Paray ), Indian Salmon (Rouns/Rawas), Shethka and Lady Fish/Whiting (Kane) - you get the idea! Ideally any kind of fish that is fleshy and known for its delicate flavours as this masala complements it perfectly.

Fish Vindaloo
You Need:
  • 500gm Fish as mentioned above (I used approx 570gm of Rawas)
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 onion finely sliced
  • oil for frying
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 5-6 long dry red chillies * see note
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
  • 1 cardamom pod (elaichi)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (Indian) with skin
  • 1/2 onion (optional)
  • 1 tsp vinegar (or to taste)
Method:
1. Descale, wash and drain the fish pieces on a colander. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala' to a fine paste. Retain the masala water from the grinder/mixie
2. In a wok or pan, heat some oil & toss in the sliced onion and the chopped coriander, fry till the onions turn golden. Add the ground paste and fry on a slow flame. Add salt to taste, masala water & adjust consistency. Add some more vinegar if you prefer the curry a bit tangy.
3. Bring the gravy to a boil and add the fish pieces. Cook on medium high flame until the gravy bubbles over, reduce flame and cook for another half a minute or till done.
4. Garnish with coriander leaves & serve hot with white or boiled rice

Notes:
  • I used a blend of Kashmiri & Harekala/Mangalorean short red chillies. Adjust this as per spice. 
  • Add the onion if you prefer some extra gravy to go with rice - but it's totally optional. Since I like my gravies moderately spicy I didn't add more chillies. You can increase the gravy by adding a few extra deseeded chillies
  • If you find the taste of vinegar too strong/tangy you can sprinkle a few grains of sugar to slightly alter the taste.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spicy Dates Chutney (Pickle)

While I am not much of a chutney-pickle-jam person, I couldn't resist trying out the Dates Pickle which I have re-christened as the Dates Chutney because of the addition of water (which is a big no-no if you are making a pickle). I bookmark one or two recipes from the internet on a daily basis, most of which are either visually appealing or having interesting names or combination of ingredients. This was one such recipe which I knew I had to try and it helped that the quantities were minuscule. I usually refrain from trying out recipes which call for ingredients in bulk or are meant to feed an army. Most times I see if it can be conveniently halved but I don't get into fractions for the simple reason that I was never good at math! :D


R is the complete opposite of me and loves pickles, papads & all kinds of preserves that are high in sodium chloride a.k.a common salt - I don't mind an occasional indulgence. This one however was calling out to my sweet tooth and what better than to have naturally sweet dates in your chutney? 

I don't think I need to elaborate on the nutritional benefits of dates. Everyone knows that besides being a powerhouse of nutrients.  fresh & dry dates instantly conjour up images of the desert for most of us. The Date palms is also probably the oldest cultivated tree by man. The desert people, the nomadic Bedouins in particular lived on dates and camel milk for months on end. It is also as per tradition that during the holy month of Ramadan, the fast is broken with dates during Iftaar 


Spicy Dates Chutney
You Need:
  • 12 seedless dates
  • 1/2 green chilli finely chopped * see notes
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 level tsp sugar
  • pinch of red chilli powder * see notes
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/4 tsp methi powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt to taste
For the seasoning
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
Method:
1. Cut the dates into small pieces. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan or kadhai and toss in the curry leaves, chopped green chillies, ginger & garlic. Saute on a slow flame for a few seconds. Toss in the dates and give it a stir.
2. Turn off the flame or reduce it to a bare minimum as you toss in the powders (chilli pwd, turmeric, hing, methi) and fry quickly taking care not to burn the powders.
3. Add the vinegar and a little water & mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the salt & sugar and keep stirring till well incorporated.
4. Serve as a chutney or refrigerate for further use.

Notes:
I call this a chutney as I added water to make the sauce. Originally this recipe is called a dates pickle and calls for 1/2 cup oil - I wanted to reduce the oil & hence used just 2 tbsp of it.
If you like more spice in your chutney/pickle, increase the green chillies & red chilli powder as per spice tolerance.


Adapted from: Spicy Chilly

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Beef/Mutton Devil

There's nothing like a peaceful routine - sometimes an uneventful a.k.a 'boring' day is all you need to unwind and smell the flowers and take it easy. Today is one such Sunday. While I am happily posting this recipe, R has taken over the kitchen, making his favourite Beef Sukka - love the way he prepares it. Our little one is busy with his crayons and munching his favourite snack whilst listening to his favourite Bollywood tracks on TV - already a multi tasker! After a lazy lunch and a siesta we will go to church in the evening and then head to the mall to pick up our weekly groceries. All in all a family day - doing everything in general but nothing in particular. So much better than the mad rush of a life I had a few years ago when I was working. 



Well, today's recipe is a typical Mangalorean style Beef dish which is originally listed as a Mutton preparation in probably one of Mangalore's oldest and first recipe book authors - Mr. Isidore Coelho who has painstakingly put together over 800 recipes although not restricting to Mangalorean cuisine alone. It is one of the must haves on every housewife's bookshelf and is like a Bible to every novice at cooking. My mum gifted me the English edition of this book lately although she owned the Konkani version for many years. I have tried many a recipe from this book and I'll begin with this recipe which you can make with Mutton or Beef (I made it with Beef).

It's the perfect weekend recipe - a dish you can put together in no time, thanks to the pressure cooker. It tastes awesome when eaten with Chapathis or served with Rice & a simple Dal and some steamed Thel Piao (Mangalorean Oil & Onion stir fry style veggies) on the side. The fried potato wedges are an added attraction to this dish making it a filling meal. 


So this recipe is for all my friends who are looking for a typically Mangalorean style red meat recipe and have been a little disappointed to find only vegetarian recipes lately. I hope to clear my backlog of non vegetarian recipes soon especially some fish & chicken recipes. Do watch this space for more!  

Beef/Mutton Devil
Adapted from: 'The Chef' By Isidore Coelho

You Need:
  • 750gm beef or mutton
  • 1-2 large potatoes  
  • 1 tsp vinegar (optional)
  • a sprinkling of sugar (about 1/2 - 1 level tsp) (optional)
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 8 long dry red chillies (seeds removed)
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1 level tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 6 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 green chilli (increase or skip this according to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind
  • 10 almonds
  • 20 raisins (kishmish)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 cloves 
  • 2 inch cinnamon
  • 150gm tomatoes or about 2 medium sized
For frying
  • 1 medium sized onion finely sliced
  • 3 tsp olive oil or ghee (or a blend of both)
Method:

1. Cut the meat into medium size pieces, wash and allow to drain on a colander. Wash and peel the potatoes, cut them into thin wedges, apply some salt to the wedges and keep the vessel a bit slant so that excess water gets drained.
2. Grind these ingredients to a fine paste using a little water - dry red chilli skins, peppercorns, cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, green chilli, tamarind, almonds, raisins, onions, cloves and cinnamon. Retain the masala water (from the mixer grinder). Grind the tomatoes separately - keep this purée aside.
3. In a pressure cooker heat some oil or ghee and fry the sliced onion till it turns slightly golden in colour. Add the ground masala and fry for a few minutes and then add the tomato purée, fry a little and add the masala water. Fry on low fire for about 5-7 minutes, stirring every now & then.
4. Add the meat pieces and mix well. Add about 1/4 cup of water if necessary (just about enough to cover the meat or more if you require gravy). Add salt to taste and vinegar if you wish. Mix well
5. Cover the pressure cooker with the lid, place the weight (whistle) and cook on full flame till the first whistle goes off (should take about 7-8 minutes). Reduce the flame completely and cook for a further 13-15 minutes (if you are cooking tender Mutton) or 20-25 minutes (if you are using tender Beef). You may need to cook for an extra 5-7 minutes if the meat is not tender - please use your discretion. Turn off flame and wait for the pressure to get released on its own (whistle becomes loose). Open the lid, mix well.
6. In a frying pan fry the salted potato wedges (see step#1) till they turn just about golden in colour. Fry on both sides and add them to the cooked meat. Garnish with chopped coriander (optional)
7. Serve hot with rice, chapathis or dosas


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Murgh Ke Kheeme Ka Shahenshahi Pulao ~ Royal Chicken Mince Pulao

Ladies & gentlemen, the biggest fan of pulaos & biryanis is here with another presentation! The kind of Kheema Pulao that is fit for royalty - but of course the secret is out & dear Katy Dalal has made some of the most fabulous recipes accessible to commoners like me in her book called ' Pulaos & Biryanis' which I now possess. Well, actually it rightfully belongs to hubby dearest who hasn't touched it till date because his wife who gifted it to him is also the one who flips through it zeroing in on recipe after recipe each time the mention of 'biryani' or 'pulao' is made at home. 


Well, while I like all kinds of biryanis and pulaos I particularly like to prepare the Kheema/Mince pulao as i feel it is lighter than the other heavy duty rice preparations. I love to try out new recipes especially with Kheema in it at least once in 2 months - and this pulao was due to be made. The last time I cooked something with Kheema & Rice was on the day there was a bomb blast in Mumbai (July 13th) and I was just not in the mood to put up the recipe (or even type & save it in draft) - I don't even remember what I had tried that day. Maybe I should retry the recipe sometime. 


While I had never really tasted a Kheema Biryani before I got married, R & I became huge fans of the same when we tasted an awesome version (greasy & spicy too!) at Urban Tadka at Versova, Mumbai when we were still a newly wedded couple. We ate out a lot in those days as I was working & cooking an elaborate meal after getting home as late as 9 pm was unthinkable, so off we would go in search of new flavours. This place as I mentioned served the ultimate Kheema Biryani (complete with two dozen green chillies and enough oil to give you a heart attack) as the day's special only on weekends and we used to simply love eating it. At that point I found the idea quite innovative, not anymore, cuz Katy Dalal tells me that the Nawabs used to gorge on it often. Don't blame them - it is simply delectable and has this amazing characteristic of being elaborate yet simple at the same time. 


Kheema Pulao or Biryani is the perfect meal I serve whenever I face the mid week menu planning crunch. Sometimes my menu planning doesn't take off every week although I'd wish it would, so the best thing I can do to keep my family's energy levels going is to serve some fragrant & flavourful Kheema Pulao. It really is a one pot meal (even though there are many pots waiting to be scrubbed after a biryani cooking session!) and needs no accompaniment besides a dead simple raitha. I usually serve the simple cucumber & onion raitha along with any kind of biryani that I cook.

I picked this recipe simple because it has all the ingredients I normally use. I skipped those which I didn't and I don't think it made any difference to the overall appearance & taste of the pulao.

The name of this pulao is quite elaborate, but it simply means - Pulao made of Chicken mince that is fit for royalty!


Murgh Ke Kheeme Ka Shahenshahi Pulao
Adapted from: Pulaos & Biryanis by Katy Dalal
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the rice
  • 300gm (1-1/2 cups) basmati rice * see notes
  • 1 gm saffron strands (kesar)
  • 4 cardamoms (elaichi) crushed
  • 2 bay leaves (tej patta)
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera)
  • 3 allspice corns (kababchini)
  • 1 stock cube (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 lime or 3 tsp lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • ghee for frying
For the kheema
  • 600 gm chicken mince
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 small onions finely chopped
  • 200gm tomatoes skinned, deseeded & chopped*see notes
  • 100gm fresh cream (I skipped this)
  • salt to taste
  • oil or ghee for frying
For the ground masala
  • 3 medium size green chillies deseeded (adjust this as per taste)
  • 4 kashmiri or long dried chillies deseeded
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (zhaifal) scraped or powdered
  • 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
  • 3 cloves (laung)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds (dhania
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds (saunf)
For the garnishing
  • 1 cup (or 1 large) finely sliced onions
  • 25gm whole cashew nuts
  • 10gm almonds
  • 25gm raisins
  • 20gm sliced pistachios (I skipped this)
  • rose essence or rose petals (I skipped this)
  • 2 sheets silver vark (I skipped this)
  • 3 hard boiled eggs halved (I skipped this)
Method:
1. Apply salt & ginger garlic paste to the chicken mince and marinate for 1/2 hr. Wash & soak the basmati rice for 15-20mins. Place the almonds in sufficient water & blanche (boil) them for 10mins. Remove skin & keep aside. Repeat process for pistachios, remove & keep aside.

2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in 'For the ground masala' with a little water. Retain the masala water from the mixer jar.

2. Heat some ghee in a pan & fry the ingredients for garnishing - first fry the sliced onions till golden brown. Drain the excess oil & remove on a platter. Next toss in the cashewnuts and fry till pinkish brown, remove. Repeat this process for the pistachios, blanched almonds & raisins - fry all of them in the same ghee adding more if necessary. 

3. In a deep thick bottomed pan heat some ghee & fry the chopped onions till translucent. Add the marinated mince and cook on a slow flame stirring for about 10 minutes. Do not cover the pan & ensure that you stir intermittently so that no lumps are formed. Add the chopped tomatoes & the ground masala and mix well. Add the masala water from the mixer jar & some more - a total of 1 cup. Cover the pan with a lid & pour some water on it. Use this hot water for the mince if required. Crumble the saffron strands into the mince, stir & cook on a slow fire.


4. While the mince is cooking, prepare the rice. Heat some ghee in a large pan & toss in the whole spices and then add the washed & drained basmati rice & fry it a little. Add freshly boiled water in the ratio of 1:1-3/4. So if you are using 1-1/2 cups of rice use 2-1/2 cups of water - this will result in partially cooked rice which is what we need here. Add the crumbled stock cube & lime juice. Check taste & add salt as required (note that the stock cube already has salt in it). When the water has come to a rolling boil, reduce the flame completely, cover with a tight lid, place a weight over it & cook for about 8-9minutes or till done. Open the lid, fluff up the rice with a fork.

5. Spread the cooked rice evenly over the cooked mince. Sprinkle half of the fried nuts, raisins & fried onions on the rice. Sprinkle the lightly beaten cream over the rice, add the rose petals or essence and if your mince did not have much liquid it in, sprinkle about 1/4 cup water over it. Cover the pan tightly with dough or a few sheets of aluminium foil so that no steam escapes. Place a tight lid & a weight over it and place the vessel on a iron tawa over a slow flame & cook for 15-20minutes.

6. When cooked, remove the pulao using a wide ladle onto a serving dish to ensure that the rice and mince are both integrated. Garnish with the halved boiled eggs, nuts, raisins, fried onions & silver vark. Serve hot with a simple raitha.

Notes:
1. Do not soak the rice way too long (definitely not over an hour) as it will overcook by the time you place it over dum (steam cooking) 
2. The bullion/stock cube is just my addition as I like the rice to be a little flavourful. Skip it if you wish and ensure you add adequate salt to the rice while cooking it.
3. The tomatoes can be finely chopped if you don't have time to skin them & deseed them
4. Personally I like fried cashew nuts in my rice preparations than almonds. The almonds should be blanched well & then roasted to give a crunchy bite.
5. If you are watching your weight use olive oil & ghee should be used sparingly (only for the flavour) - it will be lighter on your digestive system too.


A last shot of my plate heaped with this fragrant & delicious pulao before I wolfed it down :-)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Crispy Rice Stuffed Croquettes



Crispy Rice Stuffed Croquettes are not only a great way to get some healthy veggies packed in an interesting way, but also a very innovative way to use up leftover rice as that is what you need for the stuffing. The potato covering gives the mealy taste which makes you grab for more. The shallow frying required for these croquettes makes it a wee bit more healthy than deep frying it. You can even bake these croquettes if you do not wish to fry them.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cheese, Mushroom & Spinach Mini Quiche

It's been a nice weekend. Completed all the tasks I had jotted down on my to-do list. Well most of it. I somehow can't stand clutter, but always seem to postpone the task of actually tackling it :-) So I am happy I achieved a lot in these two days. While I am at it, I thought it would be good to post one of my recipes that have been sitting in my drafts for way too long. 


I made these mini quiches on Aug 15th, Independence Day for breakfast. Hubs was out of town & the little fellow was going to be the food critic of the day, so I hunted for some recipes on the net & came up with a simple recipe. The trick was to get him to eat some veggies which he had (and still has been) dodging for quite some time now. It was a great way to put the mushrooms & spinach I had in my fridge to good use.


The bright colours, coinciding with the colours of the Indian Flag (Orange Cheddar Cheese, White Mushrooms & Green Spinach) were not only a feast for the eyes but also tasty & an easy meal. I tried them a couple of times since then with a few changes to the ingredients & quantities. Replaced dried herbs with fresh ones & they still tasted great. You can go ahead & add some shredded/minced Chicken, Ham, Bacon or Sausages if you please. Go creative!

Quiche (pronounced 'Keesh') is an open baked pie that is made with a pastry crust and includes ingredients such as eggs, meat, vegetables and cheese. Although it is part of classic French cuisine, the word 'quiche' originally derived from German means 'Cake'

The mini quiche is a perfect appetiser or starter at a party & can also be eaten as a meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.



Cheese, Mushroom & Spinach Mini Quiche
You Need
  • 12-15 mini tart shells*see notes
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 5 small button mushrooms
  • 7-8 medium size spinach leaves
  • 1 small onion (lime size)
  • 4 cloves (Indian) garlic
  • 2 small eggs
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • paprika (chilli flakes) to taste
  • dried herbs - a sprinkling (I used a mix of rosemary & oregano)
  • 2 tsp olive oil or unsalted butter
  • sharp cheddar cheese grated (as required)* see notes
Method:
1. Wash and drain the spinach leaves and shred them finely. Finely chop the mushrooms and mince the onion & garlic. Keep aside.
2. In a wok heat some oil or butter and fry the onions till translucent. Toss in the chopped garlic & herbs. Add the mushrooms and fry for 1 minute or till they slightly brown. Add the shredded spinach and fry till the leaves turn limp. Add salt & pepper to taste and fry for 30 seconds. Turn off the flame and allow to cool.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, add the Parmesan cheese, paprika and blend well to ensure there are no cheese lumps. Add the spinach, mushroom mixture and mix well.
4. Preheat oven at 175C. Place the tart shells on a slightly greased baking tray or muffin tin. Pour out approx 1 tbsp each of the prepared mixture into the shells. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on the surface.
5. Bake for approx 15-17 minutes or till the centre looks fluffy & surface looks golden. Remove and cool for a few minutes
6. Serve warm!


Notes:
1. I used tart shells the size of small cup cake liners. A pack of 12-15 tart shells is available for about Rs100 at well stocked stores/bakeries & supermarkets. I bought a pack at Godrej Nature's basket in Oshiwara. If you live in Mumbai, you can also find them at Warden Bakery@ Lokhandwala Market & Hypercity@ Malad West
2. If you do not have a block of cheese that you can grate or ready grated cheese you can even use cheese singles and shred them fine. The cheese will melt anyway, so use the cheese of your choice.





Friday, September 9, 2011

Palak Chicken

One of the biggest advantages of blogging is getting to know new people from across the world - whether they are co-bloggers or readers. I have made a lot of friends from both categories and have also collected a treasure trove of new recipes. Dishes that I may never have heard about or tried are slowly becoming a daily affair (well almost) in my kitchen. I am also motivated to push myself out of my comfort zone of cooking typical Mangalorean fare - well, most of it I do because the theme of my blog is to focus on authentic Mangalorean food, but I am also learning new cuisines, cooking styles and getting exposed to new ingredients & flavours. 


Today's recipe was given to me by one of my readers, Mr. Steven Pinto who is also a restaurateur with a passion for Mangalorean cuisine. It was this passion that drove him to start a restaurant in Bangalore that serves authentic Mangalorean fare ~ Sanna, Pathrade, Mani - you name it, they serve it. If you are in Bangalore you may have heard about the restaurant named Mangalore Pearl. I can't wait to eat at the restaurant on my next visit to Bangalore!


The credit to this fabulous recipe goes to Ms. Amitha Prabhu who then passed it on to Mr. Pinto who was so kind as to give it to me. I tried it a couple of weeks ago and was completely bowled over how the Palak simply blends with the spices and makes the Chicken so flavourful. While I am sure it would taste great if eaten with rice, it tasted simply fantastic with hot chapathis. I think it's a great way to get fussy eaters to eat some Spinach which is otherwise not liked so much. 

I can't wait to try this again! If you are health conscious you can skip the dollop of fresh cream (which you do not see in my pictures as I used butter which melted in no time!). This is also one of those dishes you can put together in a jiffy.


Palak Chicken
Serves 2

You Need:
  • 500gm Chicken
For the purée
  • 1-1/2 packed cups of Palak (leaves and tender stalk) or 1/3rd of a large bunch
  • 2 cloves garlic (without skin)
  • pinch soda-bi-carb (baking soda)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
For the masala
  • 1 small onion roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 green chilli (add one more chilli if you like it spicy)
For frying
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 green chilli slit
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 small tomato chopped 
  • 2 tsp olive oil (or 1 tsp ghee+2 tsp oil)
  • salt to taste
For garnishing (optional)
  • 1 tbsp fresh cream or unsalted butter
Method:
1. Cut Chicken into medium size pieces, wash and allow to drain on a colander. Wash the Palak well and allow to drain.
2. In a thick bottomed vessel place the Palak, garlic, soda-bi-carb and salt and about 1/4 cup water and cook on a slow fire. When the leaves turn deep green and completely limp, purée them in a blender. Keep this paste aside.
4. Grind all ingredients mentioned in 'For the masala' to a fine paste. Keep aside
5. In a wok or pan heat some oil or ghee (or a combination of both) and fry the sliced onion well - until it turns golden in colour (but not too brown). Add the ground masala and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the Turmeric powder and salt to taste (go easy on the salt as the puréed palak also has some salt). Add the Chicken, mix well, cover and cook on a medium slow flame.
6. When the Chicken has cooked halfway, toss in the pepper powder, garam masala powder, chopped tomatoes and the green chilli. Mix well, add the masala water  & palak water (from the mixer grinder). Cover and cook until the Chicken is almost done.
7. Add the Palak puree and mix well. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
8. Turn off flame, garnish with fresh cream/butter and serve hot with chapathis or rice

Friday, September 2, 2011

Kori Aajadina/Chicken Sukka (Chicken in a Spicy Dry Coconut Masala)





One of the most popular Mangalorean dishes is the Chicken Sukka - it is probably made by all the communities in Mangalore in varied in degrees of spiciness. The spiciest I believe is made by the Bunt community famous for their delicious spicy food. Chicken Sukka is a dry dish made with a beautiful blend of spices and coconut. The authentic way of preparing this ofcourse involves the effort of dry roasting the spices, grinding them to a paste and grinding the coconut to a very coarse paste and allowing the Chicken to cook in this spicy mixture. However, the easier & quicker version was what my mother followed - by using the very versatile Bafat Powder instead of grinding individual spices to arrive at the masala. 


As far as I can recall, Chicken Sukka was one of the standard items on a Catholic wedding menu. Unlike its home made version, the one prepared in large quantities by caterers always had large chunks of Chicken some of it not very tender and it was a big challenge to bite into the pieces with a plate in one's hand and all the wedding finery that was at risk of being botched up by the splattering curry. Anyways, that did not matter much when I was kid as the joy of attending a wedding was in the fact that we would get to eat grand food. Today, we make most of these items at home so attending weddings has become a bore unless it is a close family affair.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sago, Vermicelli & Carrot Kheer for 100000 Page Hits!! ~ Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye?

Yes!! Ruchik Randhap has had over 1 Lakh page views!! Thank you dear readers for making this happen! You, You and You have made it possible! Not only this, I am also glad to note that Ruchik Randhap's readership has increased significantly on Facebook too!!

Life is all about celebrating the little moments that make us happy & living worthwhile, so yes, small milestones like this are what I like to celebrate and what's better than going the typical Indian way & saying "Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye"? (shall we celebrate with some sweets?)


Oh yes, we must! And what's better than starting the upcoming festive season with something sweet and less guilty? (Yeah, according to me sweets are never guilt free). A Kheer or Payasam as it is called in South India is probably a one of the healthier ways of getting your sweet tooth satiated. This particular Kheer has the goodness of Milk, Sago (Tapioca Pearls) & Carrots that create magic with all the flavours they bring in! Toss in some roasted Cashew Nuts & Raisins and you have a yummy desert in a bowl - perfect for royalty!

While you can add as much sweetness to this dish as you desire, I would recommend to go easy on the sugar as in my opinion a Kheer should always be delicately sweet or you won't be able to go beyond a few spoonfuls. This is especially because milk that forms the base of Kheer often tends to leave a strong aftertaste. Also, the Carrots in this Kheer adds to the sweetness anyway as Carrots are naturally sweet. A delicately flavoured Kheer or Payasam is always the perfect way to end a grand meal. 


Sago, Vermicelli & Carrot Kheer
Serves 4-5

You Need:
  • 1/2 litre whole milk
  • 3 tsp Sago/Sabudana/Tapioca Pearls
  • 50gm Vermicelli/Semiya/Sevai
  • 50gm grated Carrots
  • 50-75gm Sugar (or as per taste)
  • 1 cardamom powdered
  • 3 tsp ghee
  • 30gm cashewnuts
  • 15gm raisins (kishmish)
Method:
1. Wash & soak the Sago for 1/2 hour. In a pan, cook the Sago with enough water to cover it (about 1 cup)
2. Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan and roast the nuts to golden and remove. Add the raisins and fry them just until they swell up a bit and remove. Add Vermicelli & roast slightly, remove it & then add the grated carrots to the same ghee and roast it on a slow flame. Keep aside
3. In the same pan, heat the milk & bring it to a boil, simmer until it thickens. Add the cooked Sago along with the water, roasted Semiya and Carrots to the milk and cook till everything is done halfway
4. Add the sugar and simmer for another 10minutes. Add the roasted cashewnuts & raisins, bring the mixture to a boil and switch off the flame.
5. Serve hot (recommended)

Note:
When you cook the Sago, its colour will change from white to translucent and the mixture will look a lot like egg whites.
The Kheer has a tendency to thicken when it cools down, so re-heat it on a very slow flame and add a little warm milk to bring it to the desired consistency before serving.

Adapted from: Spice Your Life

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Soya Chunks Curry

It's Blog Hop Wednesday once more and I am amazed at how time flies these days - yeah, I say 'these days' because I was absolutely certain that once my son started school I would have the whole morning to myself to spend it as and how I wished. But I was so wrong! I have crammed up my mornings with a whole bunch of things to do which require an active brain to do all the thinking, analysing & planning that it leaves me no time for anything else. I have to literally follow a strict time table each day in order to accomplish & strike off the tasks on my To-Do list. Which is why I guess the days roll by so quickly and before I know it, it's the weekend and that passes by ever so quickly and what do you have? Another Wednesday! But then, I am not complaining as every alternate Wednesday I participate in the Blog Hop Wednesdays - an event hosted by Radhika of Tickling Palates. Participating bloggers are paired with each other and have to try a recipe from each other's blogs. This is my fourth blog hop out of five and I am enjoying them thoroughly


Like I mentioned in the previous Blog Hops where I tried Aate Ka Halwa, Methi Pulao and Crispy Rice Stuffed Croquettes from different blogs, Blog Hopping has given me the opportunity to break myself from hum drum cooking and try out new things which I may never have tried before. I see myself incorporating a lot of vegetarian recipes in my meal plans as I have collected a treasure trove of vegetarian recipes from these Blog Hop events.

Pic Above: Soya Chunks Curry served with Tomato Rice (Recipe to follow)

When I Blog Hop I usually bookmark recipes that I have either never eaten before or those that make use of ingredients that I have never had the opportunity or the inclination to use in my cooking. This brings me to the main ingredient in today's post - Soya. A few years ago, I fled at the mention of Soya in my food. Honestly, I don't even recall where I ate it, I do remember that I ate it a long long time ago and never took to liking it much. A couple of years ago, I decided to introduce all such foods shunned earlier by R & me into our diets. Maybe marriage & motherhood does that to us women, we suddenly want to eat & feed healthier things to our families knowing that their health is in our hands. I tried Soya Granules Sabzi from Sanjeev Kapoor's Khazaana of Indian Recipes and R & I loved it so much that I make it every so often for breakfast as an accompaniment to chapathis.


Since I had never tried my hand at cooking Soya chunks, I was delighted to find the recipe in my blog hop partner for this week - Nisha's blog Nisha's Kitchen. They say Soya in it's chunky form is to a vegetarian what chicken or mutton is to a non vegetarian. I could never believe that the chunks actually tasted like meat until I tried it myself. I guess the secret in making Soya chunks taste like a non vegetarian dish is adequate soaking of the chunks in warm salted water and of course the blend of spices in the masala. 

Soya chunks can be cooked in a variety of things, whether it's a pulao, a gravy or a dry dish. I made this dish in a semi gravy form, but didn't add all the gravy into the bowls while clicking the pictures as I didn't want to drown the chunks in it! So yeah, it looks like a dryish dish. 


Soya Chunks Curry
Serves: 2-3
You Need:
  • 1 cup soya chunks
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1-1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice (optional)
  • 1-1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste
For garnishing
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
Method:
1. Wash the soya chunks and soak them for 15 minutes in a bowl of hot water mixed with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder & salt to taste. Pressure cook the chunks in the soaked water for about 2-3 whistles. Keep aside.
2. Heat the oil in a wok or pan and fry the onions till translucent. Toss in the ginger garlic paste & fry for a minute. Add the chilli & coriander powders and mix well. Add the chopped tomatoes, mix, cover & cook on a very slow flame till the oil starts to separate and tomato is well cooked.
3. Add the precooked soya chunks and 1/2 cup of water (you can use the water from the pressure cooker), garam masala and a few chopped coriander leaves. Check salt to taste. Simmer & cook for another 5-7 minutes, ensuring that all the water doesnt dry up.
4. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or chapathis




Monday, September 26, 2011

Egg Dum Biryani

On a boring weekday when I can't think of anything interesting to cook & my meal plan has gone for a toss, this is egg-jactly what I love to prepare! Eggs! Love them or hate them, they are probably the most versatile among all edible things. Cook them in savouries or use them in baking - there's an unending list of things you can do with eggs to make sure you get your dose of protein. 

When I was working, my colleague who is a pure vegetarian Tam Brahm once told me that when she was travelling to the Far East she asked for a vegetarian breakfast on board the flight. Well, what appeared on her plate wasn't exactly vegetarian - she was served eggs sunny side up! This was because in certain flight zones eggs & seafood are actually considered vegetarian. Strange but true. In India, while strict vegetarianism is still practised by many, there are a lot of ovo-vegetarians who take eggs as part of their otherwise vegetarian diet.


While we can still debate endlessly about what came first, the Chicken or the Egg, there's no denying that Eggs taste delicious in whatever form they are eaten - hard boiled, soft boiled, fried, poached, baked or scrambled! (they say there are 101 ways to cook eggs! They are a simple and no-fuss form of eating your food. 

I think my blog would be incomplete if I didn't have an Egg Biryani recipe added to my collection. R simply loves Egg Biryanis and since I love to try out new Biryani & Pulao recipes, I ventured out to hunt for a good recipe online. We were quite pleased with the outcome as it was a very satisfying meal. It was the goodness of Eggs combined with the goodness of Rice and both R & I reminisced about the our favourite restaurants in Mangalore where Egg Biryanis used to be served. 


While Eggs figure out on our weekly menu usually in the form of hard boiled eggs cooked in a curry or as scrambled/fried eggs for breakfast, I have decided to make the biryani at least once a month from now onwards - Biryanis as you know are a complete meal by themselves, it's just that you need to spend a little extra time and effort preparing them, but the outcome is always worth it!



Egg Dum Biryani
Serves 4

You Need:
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups basmati rice
  • olive oil as required (or ghee)
For the masala
  • 2 medium onions sliced
  • 1 large tomato chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves
  • 1 level tsp chilli pwd (adjust as per taste)
  • 2 green chillies slit
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
  • 1 level tsp biryani masala (I used Shaan Biryani masala)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 cup curds (yogurt) beaten to creamy consistency
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tsp lime juice
For the rice
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • oil or ghee
  • 2-3 coriander stalks
For garnishing during the layering
  • 1/4 cup raisins & cashew nuts
  • 2-3 sprigs mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion sliced fine
  • a few strands of saffron
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • oil or ghee
Method:

Boiling the eggs:
Place the eggs in a wide, deep pan filled with enough water to cover them and bring the water to a rolling boil. Continue to boil  for 12 minutes. Turn off the flame, transfer to cold water & peel off the shells. Slit each egg vertically halfway. Keep aside. 

Preparing the garnishing for the layering
In a thick bottomed pan heat the oil or ghee & fry the sliced onion till golden brown. Take care not to burn it as it will taste bitter. Remove & keep aside. In the same oil/ghee fry the raisins & cashewnuts. Remove & keep aside.
Prepare the saffron milk by dissolving the saffron strands in 2 tbsp warm milk. Keep aside for at least 10minutes before layering

Preparing the masala:
In a large pan heat the oil and fry the sliced onions till they turn pale pink. Toss in the roughly chopped mint & coriander leaves, slit green chillies, chopped tomatoes one by one and fry for about 30 seconds each. Add in the ginger garlic paste, garam masala, biryani masala and fry for another 2 minutes till it is well blended. 
Add the boiled eggs and continue to saute till the eggs are well coated with the masala. Add the beaten curds and mix well and continue to saute till the oil separates. Do this on a medium low flame. Add the lime juice and turn off the heat.

Preparing the rice:
Wash & soak the rice for about 10-12 minutes, drain & keep aside. In a deep pan, heat some oil/ghee and toss in the slightly crushed cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, star anise & bay leaf. Fry for a few seconds and add the drained rice. Fry for a couple of minutes and add freshly boiled water in the ratio of 1:1-1/2 (for every one cup of rice use one & half cups of water). So for 1-1/2 cups of rice as per this recipe, you need to use 2-1/2 cups of water, this results in rice that is 90% cooked and that is ideal for 'dum' style of cooking where the rice will get completely cooked in its own steam while it is placed on 'dum'. Add the crumbled stock cube and stir to dissolve it. add the lime juice and check salt to taste. Toss in the chopped coriander stalks.

When the water comes to a full boil, reduce to sim, cover the pan with a tightly fitting lid, place a weight on it so no steam escapes and cook on very slow flame for 8 minutes. Do not open the lid in between. After 8 minutes, open the lid, gently fluff up the rice with a fork and cover for another minute or two.

Layering the rice & eggs - The grand finale:
Preferably grease a large deep pan with a little ghee and place half the number of eggs & the masala at the base. Spread half the cooked rice on top of it. Sprinkle the chopped coriander, fried onions, raisins & cashew nuts. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture, rice and garnishing.
Sprinkle the surface with the saffron milk. Cover the pan with a well fitting lid. You can also cover the pan first with aluminium foil so that no steam escapes. 
Place the biryani vessel on a tawa and cook on dum for 15-20 minutes. Let the flame be very low.

Serving:
While serving dig in all the way down and remove the layers of rice & egg mixture onto a serving dish. Garnish if desired with any leftover mint leaves, nuts, raisins or fried onions. Serve hot with a simple raitha

Adapted from: Padma's Kitchen

Friday, September 23, 2011

Banana & Choco Chip Muffins

Today when I sat to type the next post, I saw a huge fight going on between the draft posts. "Me first" said the Dum Biryani. "No, me first!!" said the Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins. Sigh! It's so hard to pick between the two Bs I love most - Baking & Biryani, so I decided to post both the recipes back to back (hopefully on the same day!). This is also an extension of the Readers Choice series (which I started a couple of days ago on Facebook) - a lot of people wanted to see a recipe of Muffins, some asked for Dum Biryani but yes,  Fish Curry won the maximum votes so Fish Vindaloo it was!


This particular recipe does not have any childhood memories attached to it, simply because my mum never baked (ever) - we didn't own an oven and like most Mangalorean mums she happily doled out authentic Mangalorean fare to help us fill our bellies. I didn't come home to smell the aroma of cakes being freshly baked instead I had the aromas of Mangalore buns, Portha Polay, Sweet Poha wafting through the doorway giving me such a grand welcome back home from wherever I returned - school (or college), tuition classes, or choir practices. I grew up eating all things Mangalorean and it was once a week - on Saturdays that my dad used to bring home some typical bakery eats such as the Malpuri, Mysore Pak, Hot Cross Buns (minus the cross), Meat Puffs, Sponge Cakes (the small yellow rectangular cakes which are now extinct) or cup cakes (also yellow & with caraway seeds thrown in). I totally loved the rectangular sponge cakes from M.D Souza & Sons, Bakers & Caterers at Hampankatta (It was sad to see them close down the bakery a few years ago). Nothing can beat the taste of those lovely fresh from the oven bakery products which had the distinct 'bakery' taste. We bought them because we lived in an era where it was a given to prepare all meals & snacks at home and indulge in 'outside' food occasionally. My dad however made sure we had something substantial to sink our teeth into every weekend. 


I also lived in an era when it was okay to carry snacks from home to the movies (this of course was a gazillion years before bomb blasts & terrorism took center stage giving birth to frisking & scanning of person & property in full public view). When I was little, nobody bothered to check bags and one was free to carry one's own snacks to the movies. Slightly chewy & salty popcorn came in small plastic packets and cost something like Rs. 2 !! My mum always carried warm & fresh buns (minus the cross) and cupcakes which I loved to eat while watching the movie (or if I got too hungry standing in the queue for tickets outside). I can't even imagine doing that today, with strict instructions that one will not be permitted into the cinema hall if found to be carrying outside snacks, I end up paying through my nose to buy the ridiculously over priced tub of popcorn (around Rs.175) which is way too much even for two adults to finish.


Anyway, getting back to today's muffins. These babies were so delicious! Undoubtedly the best I've made so far. I steered away from the original recipe & replaced a part of the refined flour with whole wheat flour and skipped the butter to replace it with olive oil. I strongly feel that if we cannot entirely avoid eating refined foods, the least we can do is add some health back into them.


I joined the majority of people who bake with bananas because they are don't know what to do with them when they turn black (over ripe). I also wanted my little fellow to eat the fruit in some way or the other. Adding the chocolate chips only meant that he'd gobble the muffin faster than he would have a banana as is. These muffins tasted so yummy especially when they were still warm that even R couldn't resist having more than his usual quota (I told you he's not much of a cake person).


The partial replacement of Refine Flour (Maida) with Whole Wheat flour gave some amount of density to the muffins but that was beautifully balanced by the complete replacement of butter with delicately flavoured & healthy olive oil (I used Borges) resulting in cotton soft muffins that are light on the digestive system (or so they feel). I am definitely baking these muffins again & again. Y (my son) and I had a great deal of fun preparing them - I put my pretty star shaped silicone muffin moulds to use beside the regular paper liners. If you wish to skip the chocolate chips you can try adding dried cranberries or any pitted dried berries.


Banana & Choco Chip Muffins
Yield: 12 medium size muffins

You Need:
  • 70gm all purpose flour/maida
  • 30gm whole wheat flour/atta
  • 100gm unsalted butter or 120ml (4 ounces) olive oil
  • 100gm powdered sugar
  • 50gm chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 small bananas * see notes
Method:
1. Sift the flours and the baking powder together a couple of times. Keep aside. Beat the sugar and the olive oil or butter till pale (for about 2minutes on high speed if using an electric whisk).
2. Add one egg at a time and beat well. Pour in the vanilla extract and blend. Add the flour mixture and gently mix with a spatula till well incorporated. Add the mashed bananas and chocolate chips and mix gently.
3. Pour into a greased muffin tray or large cup cake liners/silicone moulds and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 25 minutes or till the skewer inserted comes out clean.
4. Remove and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Notes:
  • I used a blend of all purpose flour & whole wheat flour. You can use 100gm all purpose flour too, but I chose the healthier version.
  • I used 2 small Elaichi/Kadhali bananas. Use slightly over ripe bananas for best results.




Adapted from: Little Food Junction

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fish Vindaloo ~ Reader's Choice!

"All men are equal before fish"
Herbert Hoover 

It's been ages since I posted a fish recipe and while I was debating about which recipe from my drafts should see the light of day, I thought it would be best to take the collective opinion of all the readers on my Facebook page. Out of a choice of 5 recipes the 'fish curry' got the highest votes. But fret not my friends, the muffins, dum biryani, kheer & vegetable stir fry are all waiting to delight you in a couple of days!

Since we like to eat a lot of seafood, I am always on the lookout for different recipes. It goes without saying that the Konkan Coast can boast of a zillion different curries for any given variety of fish. Such is the beauty of our coast. So while I flipped through my recipe book I zeroed in on the Vindaloo style of making the fish I had just popped out of the freezer.

(This is how the curry turns out - a fiery Red colour)

The Vindaloo is typically a Goan dish of meat, usually pork prepared with wine and garlic. These ingredients figure themselves in the term 'Vindaloo' which is a name derived from the Portuguese dish - "Carne de Vinha d' Alhos (where Carne means meat, Vinha means wine and alhos means garlicHowever this dish was later modified in Mumbai by the substitution of vinegar for the wine and the addition of red Kashmiri chillies. A Vindaloo is meant to be a spicy (if not the spiciest) dish that has a tang that vinegar imparts. By the way, did you know that Vindaloo is often mistaken to be a dish that has potatoes in it because 'aloo' means potatoes in Hindi!

I love my fish curries, especially the ones which are not too 'coconutty'. Yeah yeah, I have declared my undying love for all things coconut in several of my previous posts, but then the coconut has to be finely ground to form a beautiful base for the fish curry. Only then can you truly savour the flavours released by the fish in question and the spices that are married to it. The urban kitchen gadget a.k.a mixer grinder doesn't give such good results you see, which is why I personally feel that I should smuggle a typical Mangalorean grinding stone (mortar & pestle made of granite) to Mumbai. Sigh! If wishes were horses..


This is also a reason why I like coconut milk (cream) based gravies than those that use grated and ground coconut. My mum used to make the yummiest fish curries with a coconut milk base - slurp! (one reason why I also love Thai curries that are predominantly coconut milk based). I hope to post one of her recipes soon.
As much as we travel & taste the flavours of different cuisines, at the end of the day the most satisfying meal is the one you've grown up eating, even better if it comes attached with sentiments & memories of that special someone who used to prepare it ~ most times it's our mother.

For now, I will leave you to savour the flavours of this different yet delicious Vindaloo which tastes excellent with piping hot steamed rice and a  side dish of a simple vegetable (stir fry/thoran/thel piao style). This curry is a striking Red colour thanks to the Kashmiri chillies known for their fiery Red colour but not so much for the spiciness. The tangy notes brought in by the vinegar makes it so similar to the Mangalorean Shirko Shindaap (a style of fish preparation made with vinegar & chopped onions-ginger-garlic-green chillies) yet so distinctly different. You may add any variety of dry red chillies here. If you want a typical Mangalorean taste to your curry you can add the Kundapur/Kumti chillies (Bedgi) that are complete with spice & colour.


This curry is suitable for the preparation of a variety of fish such as Pomfret, Black Pomfret (Sorngul/Maanji/Halwa), Croaker/Jew Fish (Dhadyare/Koddai), Mullet (Shevto/Mala/Paray ), Indian Salmon (Rouns/Rawas), Shethka and Lady Fish/Whiting (Kane) - you get the idea! Ideally any kind of fish that is fleshy and known for its delicate flavours as this masala complements it perfectly.

Fish Vindaloo
You Need:
  • 500gm Fish as mentioned above (I used approx 570gm of Rawas)
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 onion finely sliced
  • oil for frying
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 5-6 long dry red chillies * see note
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
  • 1 cardamom pod (elaichi)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (Indian) with skin
  • 1/2 onion (optional)
  • 1 tsp vinegar (or to taste)
Method:
1. Descale, wash and drain the fish pieces on a colander. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala' to a fine paste. Retain the masala water from the grinder/mixie
2. In a wok or pan, heat some oil & toss in the sliced onion and the chopped coriander, fry till the onions turn golden. Add the ground paste and fry on a slow flame. Add salt to taste, masala water & adjust consistency. Add some more vinegar if you prefer the curry a bit tangy.
3. Bring the gravy to a boil and add the fish pieces. Cook on medium high flame until the gravy bubbles over, reduce flame and cook for another half a minute or till done.
4. Garnish with coriander leaves & serve hot with white or boiled rice

Notes:
  • I used a blend of Kashmiri & Harekala/Mangalorean short red chillies. Adjust this as per spice. 
  • Add the onion if you prefer some extra gravy to go with rice - but it's totally optional. Since I like my gravies moderately spicy I didn't add more chillies. You can increase the gravy by adding a few extra deseeded chillies
  • If you find the taste of vinegar too strong/tangy you can sprinkle a few grains of sugar to slightly alter the taste.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spicy Dates Chutney (Pickle)

While I am not much of a chutney-pickle-jam person, I couldn't resist trying out the Dates Pickle which I have re-christened as the Dates Chutney because of the addition of water (which is a big no-no if you are making a pickle). I bookmark one or two recipes from the internet on a daily basis, most of which are either visually appealing or having interesting names or combination of ingredients. This was one such recipe which I knew I had to try and it helped that the quantities were minuscule. I usually refrain from trying out recipes which call for ingredients in bulk or are meant to feed an army. Most times I see if it can be conveniently halved but I don't get into fractions for the simple reason that I was never good at math! :D


R is the complete opposite of me and loves pickles, papads & all kinds of preserves that are high in sodium chloride a.k.a common salt - I don't mind an occasional indulgence. This one however was calling out to my sweet tooth and what better than to have naturally sweet dates in your chutney? 

I don't think I need to elaborate on the nutritional benefits of dates. Everyone knows that besides being a powerhouse of nutrients.  fresh & dry dates instantly conjour up images of the desert for most of us. The Date palms is also probably the oldest cultivated tree by man. The desert people, the nomadic Bedouins in particular lived on dates and camel milk for months on end. It is also as per tradition that during the holy month of Ramadan, the fast is broken with dates during Iftaar 


Spicy Dates Chutney
You Need:
  • 12 seedless dates
  • 1/2 green chilli finely chopped * see notes
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 level tsp sugar
  • pinch of red chilli powder * see notes
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/4 tsp methi powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt to taste
For the seasoning
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
Method:
1. Cut the dates into small pieces. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan or kadhai and toss in the curry leaves, chopped green chillies, ginger & garlic. Saute on a slow flame for a few seconds. Toss in the dates and give it a stir.
2. Turn off the flame or reduce it to a bare minimum as you toss in the powders (chilli pwd, turmeric, hing, methi) and fry quickly taking care not to burn the powders.
3. Add the vinegar and a little water & mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the salt & sugar and keep stirring till well incorporated.
4. Serve as a chutney or refrigerate for further use.

Notes:
I call this a chutney as I added water to make the sauce. Originally this recipe is called a dates pickle and calls for 1/2 cup oil - I wanted to reduce the oil & hence used just 2 tbsp of it.
If you like more spice in your chutney/pickle, increase the green chillies & red chilli powder as per spice tolerance.


Adapted from: Spicy Chilly

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Beef/Mutton Devil

There's nothing like a peaceful routine - sometimes an uneventful a.k.a 'boring' day is all you need to unwind and smell the flowers and take it easy. Today is one such Sunday. While I am happily posting this recipe, R has taken over the kitchen, making his favourite Beef Sukka - love the way he prepares it. Our little one is busy with his crayons and munching his favourite snack whilst listening to his favourite Bollywood tracks on TV - already a multi tasker! After a lazy lunch and a siesta we will go to church in the evening and then head to the mall to pick up our weekly groceries. All in all a family day - doing everything in general but nothing in particular. So much better than the mad rush of a life I had a few years ago when I was working. 



Well, today's recipe is a typical Mangalorean style Beef dish which is originally listed as a Mutton preparation in probably one of Mangalore's oldest and first recipe book authors - Mr. Isidore Coelho who has painstakingly put together over 800 recipes although not restricting to Mangalorean cuisine alone. It is one of the must haves on every housewife's bookshelf and is like a Bible to every novice at cooking. My mum gifted me the English edition of this book lately although she owned the Konkani version for many years. I have tried many a recipe from this book and I'll begin with this recipe which you can make with Mutton or Beef (I made it with Beef).

It's the perfect weekend recipe - a dish you can put together in no time, thanks to the pressure cooker. It tastes awesome when eaten with Chapathis or served with Rice & a simple Dal and some steamed Thel Piao (Mangalorean Oil & Onion stir fry style veggies) on the side. The fried potato wedges are an added attraction to this dish making it a filling meal. 


So this recipe is for all my friends who are looking for a typically Mangalorean style red meat recipe and have been a little disappointed to find only vegetarian recipes lately. I hope to clear my backlog of non vegetarian recipes soon especially some fish & chicken recipes. Do watch this space for more!  

Beef/Mutton Devil
Adapted from: 'The Chef' By Isidore Coelho

You Need:
  • 750gm beef or mutton
  • 1-2 large potatoes  
  • 1 tsp vinegar (optional)
  • a sprinkling of sugar (about 1/2 - 1 level tsp) (optional)
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 8 long dry red chillies (seeds removed)
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1 level tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 6 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 green chilli (increase or skip this according to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind
  • 10 almonds
  • 20 raisins (kishmish)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 cloves 
  • 2 inch cinnamon
  • 150gm tomatoes or about 2 medium sized
For frying
  • 1 medium sized onion finely sliced
  • 3 tsp olive oil or ghee (or a blend of both)
Method:

1. Cut the meat into medium size pieces, wash and allow to drain on a colander. Wash and peel the potatoes, cut them into thin wedges, apply some salt to the wedges and keep the vessel a bit slant so that excess water gets drained.
2. Grind these ingredients to a fine paste using a little water - dry red chilli skins, peppercorns, cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, green chilli, tamarind, almonds, raisins, onions, cloves and cinnamon. Retain the masala water (from the mixer grinder). Grind the tomatoes separately - keep this purée aside.
3. In a pressure cooker heat some oil or ghee and fry the sliced onion till it turns slightly golden in colour. Add the ground masala and fry for a few minutes and then add the tomato purée, fry a little and add the masala water. Fry on low fire for about 5-7 minutes, stirring every now & then.
4. Add the meat pieces and mix well. Add about 1/4 cup of water if necessary (just about enough to cover the meat or more if you require gravy). Add salt to taste and vinegar if you wish. Mix well
5. Cover the pressure cooker with the lid, place the weight (whistle) and cook on full flame till the first whistle goes off (should take about 7-8 minutes). Reduce the flame completely and cook for a further 13-15 minutes (if you are cooking tender Mutton) or 20-25 minutes (if you are using tender Beef). You may need to cook for an extra 5-7 minutes if the meat is not tender - please use your discretion. Turn off flame and wait for the pressure to get released on its own (whistle becomes loose). Open the lid, mix well.
6. In a frying pan fry the salted potato wedges (see step#1) till they turn just about golden in colour. Fry on both sides and add them to the cooked meat. Garnish with chopped coriander (optional)
7. Serve hot with rice, chapathis or dosas


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Murgh Ke Kheeme Ka Shahenshahi Pulao ~ Royal Chicken Mince Pulao

Ladies & gentlemen, the biggest fan of pulaos & biryanis is here with another presentation! The kind of Kheema Pulao that is fit for royalty - but of course the secret is out & dear Katy Dalal has made some of the most fabulous recipes accessible to commoners like me in her book called ' Pulaos & Biryanis' which I now possess. Well, actually it rightfully belongs to hubby dearest who hasn't touched it till date because his wife who gifted it to him is also the one who flips through it zeroing in on recipe after recipe each time the mention of 'biryani' or 'pulao' is made at home. 


Well, while I like all kinds of biryanis and pulaos I particularly like to prepare the Kheema/Mince pulao as i feel it is lighter than the other heavy duty rice preparations. I love to try out new recipes especially with Kheema in it at least once in 2 months - and this pulao was due to be made. The last time I cooked something with Kheema & Rice was on the day there was a bomb blast in Mumbai (July 13th) and I was just not in the mood to put up the recipe (or even type & save it in draft) - I don't even remember what I had tried that day. Maybe I should retry the recipe sometime. 


While I had never really tasted a Kheema Biryani before I got married, R & I became huge fans of the same when we tasted an awesome version (greasy & spicy too!) at Urban Tadka at Versova, Mumbai when we were still a newly wedded couple. We ate out a lot in those days as I was working & cooking an elaborate meal after getting home as late as 9 pm was unthinkable, so off we would go in search of new flavours. This place as I mentioned served the ultimate Kheema Biryani (complete with two dozen green chillies and enough oil to give you a heart attack) as the day's special only on weekends and we used to simply love eating it. At that point I found the idea quite innovative, not anymore, cuz Katy Dalal tells me that the Nawabs used to gorge on it often. Don't blame them - it is simply delectable and has this amazing characteristic of being elaborate yet simple at the same time. 


Kheema Pulao or Biryani is the perfect meal I serve whenever I face the mid week menu planning crunch. Sometimes my menu planning doesn't take off every week although I'd wish it would, so the best thing I can do to keep my family's energy levels going is to serve some fragrant & flavourful Kheema Pulao. It really is a one pot meal (even though there are many pots waiting to be scrubbed after a biryani cooking session!) and needs no accompaniment besides a dead simple raitha. I usually serve the simple cucumber & onion raitha along with any kind of biryani that I cook.

I picked this recipe simple because it has all the ingredients I normally use. I skipped those which I didn't and I don't think it made any difference to the overall appearance & taste of the pulao.

The name of this pulao is quite elaborate, but it simply means - Pulao made of Chicken mince that is fit for royalty!


Murgh Ke Kheeme Ka Shahenshahi Pulao
Adapted from: Pulaos & Biryanis by Katy Dalal
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the rice
  • 300gm (1-1/2 cups) basmati rice * see notes
  • 1 gm saffron strands (kesar)
  • 4 cardamoms (elaichi) crushed
  • 2 bay leaves (tej patta)
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera)
  • 3 allspice corns (kababchini)
  • 1 stock cube (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 lime or 3 tsp lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • ghee for frying
For the kheema
  • 600 gm chicken mince
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 small onions finely chopped
  • 200gm tomatoes skinned, deseeded & chopped*see notes
  • 100gm fresh cream (I skipped this)
  • salt to taste
  • oil or ghee for frying
For the ground masala
  • 3 medium size green chillies deseeded (adjust this as per taste)
  • 4 kashmiri or long dried chillies deseeded
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (zhaifal) scraped or powdered
  • 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
  • 3 cloves (laung)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds (dhania
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds (saunf)
For the garnishing
  • 1 cup (or 1 large) finely sliced onions
  • 25gm whole cashew nuts
  • 10gm almonds
  • 25gm raisins
  • 20gm sliced pistachios (I skipped this)
  • rose essence or rose petals (I skipped this)
  • 2 sheets silver vark (I skipped this)
  • 3 hard boiled eggs halved (I skipped this)
Method:
1. Apply salt & ginger garlic paste to the chicken mince and marinate for 1/2 hr. Wash & soak the basmati rice for 15-20mins. Place the almonds in sufficient water & blanche (boil) them for 10mins. Remove skin & keep aside. Repeat process for pistachios, remove & keep aside.

2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in 'For the ground masala' with a little water. Retain the masala water from the mixer jar.

2. Heat some ghee in a pan & fry the ingredients for garnishing - first fry the sliced onions till golden brown. Drain the excess oil & remove on a platter. Next toss in the cashewnuts and fry till pinkish brown, remove. Repeat this process for the pistachios, blanched almonds & raisins - fry all of them in the same ghee adding more if necessary. 

3. In a deep thick bottomed pan heat some ghee & fry the chopped onions till translucent. Add the marinated mince and cook on a slow flame stirring for about 10 minutes. Do not cover the pan & ensure that you stir intermittently so that no lumps are formed. Add the chopped tomatoes & the ground masala and mix well. Add the masala water from the mixer jar & some more - a total of 1 cup. Cover the pan with a lid & pour some water on it. Use this hot water for the mince if required. Crumble the saffron strands into the mince, stir & cook on a slow fire.


4. While the mince is cooking, prepare the rice. Heat some ghee in a large pan & toss in the whole spices and then add the washed & drained basmati rice & fry it a little. Add freshly boiled water in the ratio of 1:1-3/4. So if you are using 1-1/2 cups of rice use 2-1/2 cups of water - this will result in partially cooked rice which is what we need here. Add the crumbled stock cube & lime juice. Check taste & add salt as required (note that the stock cube already has salt in it). When the water has come to a rolling boil, reduce the flame completely, cover with a tight lid, place a weight over it & cook for about 8-9minutes or till done. Open the lid, fluff up the rice with a fork.

5. Spread the cooked rice evenly over the cooked mince. Sprinkle half of the fried nuts, raisins & fried onions on the rice. Sprinkle the lightly beaten cream over the rice, add the rose petals or essence and if your mince did not have much liquid it in, sprinkle about 1/4 cup water over it. Cover the pan tightly with dough or a few sheets of aluminium foil so that no steam escapes. Place a tight lid & a weight over it and place the vessel on a iron tawa over a slow flame & cook for 15-20minutes.

6. When cooked, remove the pulao using a wide ladle onto a serving dish to ensure that the rice and mince are both integrated. Garnish with the halved boiled eggs, nuts, raisins, fried onions & silver vark. Serve hot with a simple raitha.

Notes:
1. Do not soak the rice way too long (definitely not over an hour) as it will overcook by the time you place it over dum (steam cooking) 
2. The bullion/stock cube is just my addition as I like the rice to be a little flavourful. Skip it if you wish and ensure you add adequate salt to the rice while cooking it.
3. The tomatoes can be finely chopped if you don't have time to skin them & deseed them
4. Personally I like fried cashew nuts in my rice preparations than almonds. The almonds should be blanched well & then roasted to give a crunchy bite.
5. If you are watching your weight use olive oil & ghee should be used sparingly (only for the flavour) - it will be lighter on your digestive system too.


A last shot of my plate heaped with this fragrant & delicious pulao before I wolfed it down :-)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Crispy Rice Stuffed Croquettes



Crispy Rice Stuffed Croquettes are not only a great way to get some healthy veggies packed in an interesting way, but also a very innovative way to use up leftover rice as that is what you need for the stuffing. The potato covering gives the mealy taste which makes you grab for more. The shallow frying required for these croquettes makes it a wee bit more healthy than deep frying it. You can even bake these croquettes if you do not wish to fry them.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cheese, Mushroom & Spinach Mini Quiche

It's been a nice weekend. Completed all the tasks I had jotted down on my to-do list. Well most of it. I somehow can't stand clutter, but always seem to postpone the task of actually tackling it :-) So I am happy I achieved a lot in these two days. While I am at it, I thought it would be good to post one of my recipes that have been sitting in my drafts for way too long. 


I made these mini quiches on Aug 15th, Independence Day for breakfast. Hubs was out of town & the little fellow was going to be the food critic of the day, so I hunted for some recipes on the net & came up with a simple recipe. The trick was to get him to eat some veggies which he had (and still has been) dodging for quite some time now. It was a great way to put the mushrooms & spinach I had in my fridge to good use.


The bright colours, coinciding with the colours of the Indian Flag (Orange Cheddar Cheese, White Mushrooms & Green Spinach) were not only a feast for the eyes but also tasty & an easy meal. I tried them a couple of times since then with a few changes to the ingredients & quantities. Replaced dried herbs with fresh ones & they still tasted great. You can go ahead & add some shredded/minced Chicken, Ham, Bacon or Sausages if you please. Go creative!

Quiche (pronounced 'Keesh') is an open baked pie that is made with a pastry crust and includes ingredients such as eggs, meat, vegetables and cheese. Although it is part of classic French cuisine, the word 'quiche' originally derived from German means 'Cake'

The mini quiche is a perfect appetiser or starter at a party & can also be eaten as a meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.



Cheese, Mushroom & Spinach Mini Quiche
You Need
  • 12-15 mini tart shells*see notes
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 5 small button mushrooms
  • 7-8 medium size spinach leaves
  • 1 small onion (lime size)
  • 4 cloves (Indian) garlic
  • 2 small eggs
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • paprika (chilli flakes) to taste
  • dried herbs - a sprinkling (I used a mix of rosemary & oregano)
  • 2 tsp olive oil or unsalted butter
  • sharp cheddar cheese grated (as required)* see notes
Method:
1. Wash and drain the spinach leaves and shred them finely. Finely chop the mushrooms and mince the onion & garlic. Keep aside.
2. In a wok heat some oil or butter and fry the onions till translucent. Toss in the chopped garlic & herbs. Add the mushrooms and fry for 1 minute or till they slightly brown. Add the shredded spinach and fry till the leaves turn limp. Add salt & pepper to taste and fry for 30 seconds. Turn off the flame and allow to cool.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, add the Parmesan cheese, paprika and blend well to ensure there are no cheese lumps. Add the spinach, mushroom mixture and mix well.
4. Preheat oven at 175C. Place the tart shells on a slightly greased baking tray or muffin tin. Pour out approx 1 tbsp each of the prepared mixture into the shells. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on the surface.
5. Bake for approx 15-17 minutes or till the centre looks fluffy & surface looks golden. Remove and cool for a few minutes
6. Serve warm!


Notes:
1. I used tart shells the size of small cup cake liners. A pack of 12-15 tart shells is available for about Rs100 at well stocked stores/bakeries & supermarkets. I bought a pack at Godrej Nature's basket in Oshiwara. If you live in Mumbai, you can also find them at Warden Bakery@ Lokhandwala Market & Hypercity@ Malad West
2. If you do not have a block of cheese that you can grate or ready grated cheese you can even use cheese singles and shred them fine. The cheese will melt anyway, so use the cheese of your choice.





Friday, September 9, 2011

Palak Chicken

One of the biggest advantages of blogging is getting to know new people from across the world - whether they are co-bloggers or readers. I have made a lot of friends from both categories and have also collected a treasure trove of new recipes. Dishes that I may never have heard about or tried are slowly becoming a daily affair (well almost) in my kitchen. I am also motivated to push myself out of my comfort zone of cooking typical Mangalorean fare - well, most of it I do because the theme of my blog is to focus on authentic Mangalorean food, but I am also learning new cuisines, cooking styles and getting exposed to new ingredients & flavours. 


Today's recipe was given to me by one of my readers, Mr. Steven Pinto who is also a restaurateur with a passion for Mangalorean cuisine. It was this passion that drove him to start a restaurant in Bangalore that serves authentic Mangalorean fare ~ Sanna, Pathrade, Mani - you name it, they serve it. If you are in Bangalore you may have heard about the restaurant named Mangalore Pearl. I can't wait to eat at the restaurant on my next visit to Bangalore!


The credit to this fabulous recipe goes to Ms. Amitha Prabhu who then passed it on to Mr. Pinto who was so kind as to give it to me. I tried it a couple of weeks ago and was completely bowled over how the Palak simply blends with the spices and makes the Chicken so flavourful. While I am sure it would taste great if eaten with rice, it tasted simply fantastic with hot chapathis. I think it's a great way to get fussy eaters to eat some Spinach which is otherwise not liked so much. 

I can't wait to try this again! If you are health conscious you can skip the dollop of fresh cream (which you do not see in my pictures as I used butter which melted in no time!). This is also one of those dishes you can put together in a jiffy.


Palak Chicken
Serves 2

You Need:
  • 500gm Chicken
For the purée
  • 1-1/2 packed cups of Palak (leaves and tender stalk) or 1/3rd of a large bunch
  • 2 cloves garlic (without skin)
  • pinch soda-bi-carb (baking soda)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
For the masala
  • 1 small onion roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 green chilli (add one more chilli if you like it spicy)
For frying
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 green chilli slit
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 small tomato chopped 
  • 2 tsp olive oil (or 1 tsp ghee+2 tsp oil)
  • salt to taste
For garnishing (optional)
  • 1 tbsp fresh cream or unsalted butter
Method:
1. Cut Chicken into medium size pieces, wash and allow to drain on a colander. Wash the Palak well and allow to drain.
2. In a thick bottomed vessel place the Palak, garlic, soda-bi-carb and salt and about 1/4 cup water and cook on a slow fire. When the leaves turn deep green and completely limp, purée them in a blender. Keep this paste aside.
4. Grind all ingredients mentioned in 'For the masala' to a fine paste. Keep aside
5. In a wok or pan heat some oil or ghee (or a combination of both) and fry the sliced onion well - until it turns golden in colour (but not too brown). Add the ground masala and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the Turmeric powder and salt to taste (go easy on the salt as the puréed palak also has some salt). Add the Chicken, mix well, cover and cook on a medium slow flame.
6. When the Chicken has cooked halfway, toss in the pepper powder, garam masala powder, chopped tomatoes and the green chilli. Mix well, add the masala water  & palak water (from the mixer grinder). Cover and cook until the Chicken is almost done.
7. Add the Palak puree and mix well. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
8. Turn off flame, garnish with fresh cream/butter and serve hot with chapathis or rice

Friday, September 2, 2011

Kori Aajadina/Chicken Sukka (Chicken in a Spicy Dry Coconut Masala)





One of the most popular Mangalorean dishes is the Chicken Sukka - it is probably made by all the communities in Mangalore in varied in degrees of spiciness. The spiciest I believe is made by the Bunt community famous for their delicious spicy food. Chicken Sukka is a dry dish made with a beautiful blend of spices and coconut. The authentic way of preparing this ofcourse involves the effort of dry roasting the spices, grinding them to a paste and grinding the coconut to a very coarse paste and allowing the Chicken to cook in this spicy mixture. However, the easier & quicker version was what my mother followed - by using the very versatile Bafat Powder instead of grinding individual spices to arrive at the masala. 


As far as I can recall, Chicken Sukka was one of the standard items on a Catholic wedding menu. Unlike its home made version, the one prepared in large quantities by caterers always had large chunks of Chicken some of it not very tender and it was a big challenge to bite into the pieces with a plate in one's hand and all the wedding finery that was at risk of being botched up by the splattering curry. Anyways, that did not matter much when I was kid as the joy of attending a wedding was in the fact that we would get to eat grand food. Today, we make most of these items at home so attending weddings has become a bore unless it is a close family affair.