Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Broiled Golden Pomfret with Chaat Masala

The golden pomfret (pompano)  is a soft mild flavoured fleshy fish with a buttery flavour and no fishy or gamy smell. When fresh it tastes very delicious. You can use any kind of spicy or herb flavoured marinade on it and it works very well. This time I used chaat masala along with the other spices and it was just so delicious! My husband who is always quite reluctant when it comes to eating fish, actually enjoyed eating it.

1 Golden Pomfret fish (around 1.25lbs)
 Juice of half a lemon
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1 Tsp Kashmiri red chilly Powder  
1 Tsp MDH Chaat Masala 
1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper 
1 Tsp ginger garlic paste
1 Tbs Olive oil 
Salt to taste

1 Clean the fish by scraping the skin and cut into two filets with out removing the skin. You could ask the fish vendor to clean and make filets for you. 

2. Sprinkle salt and lemon juice on the fish filets and rub them well. 

3. Mix together the black pepper, turmeric, red chilly powder and chaat masala with the ginger garlic paste and smear this marinade on the fish filets well. Leave to rest for half an hour. 

4. Heat a cast iron frying pan, brush it with 1 or 2 tsp of olive oil and place the fish on the pan skin side down. Let the fish get fried on the bottom  well. 

5.  Switch off the stove, drizzle the remaining olive oil on top of the fish and then place the frying pan with the fish on the top rack of the pre heated oven.

6.  Broil the fish on high for 5 - 6 minutes till the fish is browned all over. Switch off the oven. Tranfer to a serving plate and enjoy the crispy delicious mouth watering fish. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Zafrani Halwa Pies

I grew up eating these baked pies filled with almond, channa dal paste flavoured with saffron. It was always accompanied with rice kheer (porridge) which went so well with these pies. I have been craving for these for a long time and wanted to bake them like my mom but smaller in size. At last I tried them out to satisfy my craving. They turned out better than I had imagined. My mom used to make the pie crust with ghee (clarified butter) but I wanted something light and healthy so I followed a different recipe for the pie crust which was light, flaky and good.  For the halwa I followed my mom's recipe

For the pie dough I followed this recipe from Simple Bites.  I cut down the recipe by half and the halwa I made following the recipe below was just enough to use up all the dough. 

For the Halwa:

1/4 cup Channa dal
1/4 cup Almonds (peeled)
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tbs Ghee
Saffron a pinch


1. Soak the channa dal for 30 minutes after rinsing in water 3 or 4 times till the water is clear. Soak the almonds in warm water or microwave them with a little water for 30 seconds. The peels will easily come off.

2. Boil the channa dal till it gets cooked, let it cool, then grind it to a smooth paste. Grind the almonds separately to a fine paste.

3. Take a sauce pan and on medium heat add one or two cloves and 2 green cardamoms then add the ground dal and almond paste.

4. Add the sugar and keep stirring till it thickens then dd the saffron dissolved in warm milk. Stir till the milk gets absorbed and the halwa starts leaving the sides of the pan. Remove and set aside to cool.

5. Take the refrigerated pie dough and start rolling it into a fairly thick circle on a pastry board dusted with flour. Cut round shapes with a cookie cutter or a steel tumbler with a sharp rim.

6. Place some halwa in each of them, brush the edge lightly with water or egg white and close it in the shape of a half moon or turnover.

7. Press the edges with a fork to seal them then brush them with saffron water (soak a few threads of saffron in a tsp of water) to give them a coloured decorative edge.

8. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 25 - 30 minutes. When they turn lightly golden at the bottom they are done. Remove and cool on a wire wrack and enjoy with Rice Kheer.

Rice Kheer (Porridge)


1 1/2 Litres Whole Milk
1/4 Cup Basumathi Rice
3/4 - 1 Cup White Sugar
15 Almonds for garnish
4 - 5 Drops Rose Essence
1 Tsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
2 Green Cardamoms


1. Boil milk and leave on simmer to thicken for 10 minutes till it reduces a bit.  Wash the basumathi rice 3 or 4 times till the water runs out clear and leave it to soak in water for 15 minutes.

2. In another pot on medium heat add ghee. Crack the cardamoms a bit to release the flavour then add to the pot followed by the soaked basumathi rice.

3. Sauté the basumathi rice in the ghee till it dries up a bit, then add 3 - 4 cups of water and let it cook till it becomes mushy on low medium heat. Keep an eye on it so it does not burn after all the water gets absorbed.

4. Add sugar and the reduced whole milk, cook for some more time on simmer while stirring continuously. When it is of porridge consistency remove and leave it to cool.

5. Meanwhile microwave almonds soaked in water for 40 seconds on high. When cool peel, cut into thin slivers and set aside for garnish.

6. Add 4 to 5 drops of rose essence to the kheer, mix well, transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with almonds, chill in the fridge and serve. Chilled Kheer tastes better. Enjoy as it is for dessert or with Halwa pies.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Croissant Buns with Harissa Olive filling

These Croissant buns are just divine! Their soft flaky texture, their sweet savoury taste, the distinct flavour of the black seed and as you dig your teeth into them there's more bursting flavour from the tuna harissa and green olive filling - everything together is just so yummiliciously tantalizing that you cannot stop with one bite............

3 Cups All Purpose flour
1/2 Cup Butter
1X250ml Sour Cream
1Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
3 Tbs Sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg White for glaze

1 Tuna Can
1/2 Cup Green Olives (sliced)
1-2 Tsp Harissa Paste
3 Tbs Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper as required

1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift together salt, pepper and baking powder with the all purpose flour to aerate it.

2. Cut Chilled butter into cubes. Pulse the flour mixture with the butter in a food processor till it becomes crumbly.

3. Mix together the egg and the sour cream and then add it to the crumbly mixture in the food processor. Pulse a few times till it comes together and forms a soft dough.

4. Remove, divide into two parts, place in a greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside for 15 mins.

5. Meanwhile empty the tuna can into a bowl. Drain and squeeze out the water as much as possible. Add salt, pepper and 1 tbs olive oil. Flake with a fork to mix everything well. Add the Harissa paste drizzle the remaining 2 tbs olive oil, then flake again. Keep aside.

6. Take one part of the dough and roll into a ball, then on a pastry board dusted with flour flatten it with a rolling pin into a circle 12 inches in diameter.  Cut the circle into 8 equal triangles. Divide the filling into 16 portions, place one portion on each of the triangles at the base as in the picture above.

7. Take two corners of the triangle base and join them together as in the picture above. Then fold the base and roll it over while tucking the filling inside. Roll neatly again till the tip of the triangle like a croissant.

8.  Glaze with egg wash, sprinkle black seeds on top then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes till golden.

9. Remove from the oven, let them cool on a wire rack for half an hour till they are warm enough to bite into them.

10. Enjoy these yummy stuffed croissant buns with a cup of hot tea.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Harissa Paste


Harissa is a hot Tunisian chilli pepper paste used in dips, marinades, soups etc just like any other hot chilli sauce. It is a spicy red hot roasted pepper paste which brings depth of flavour to the dish. It has many variations and it can be made to suit your own taste. It is mostly made with a blend of 2 or more different types of hot peppers (like serrano peppers, Baklouti peppers, hot chilli peppers) garlic and your own blend of aromatic spices. The chillies are soaked in hot water till they soften and are ground to a paste with garlic, whole spices, lemon juice and olive oil. You can also use chipotle, poblano, ancho chillies or any other moderately hot peppers if you don't like it very hot. So you can actually customize it to your own taste.

Harissa paste pre packed in bottles is also sold locally in middle eastern stores here. Tunisia is the biggest exporter of Harissa paste. It is also referred to as the National Condiment of Tunisia. When you travel to middle eastern countries the local grocery stores there sell fresh harissa paste.

Here's the recipe:


1 Cup Red Hot Chilli Peppers
1/2 Cup Kashmiri Chilli Pepper or Chipotle Peppers
6 Garlic Cloves
11/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
Juice of Lemon
4 tbs Extra Virgin Olive oil


1. Dry roast the peppers on medium heat quickly. Be sure to put the exhaust on as the fumes can make you choke. It is better to cover your face with a handkerchief or face towel when you do this. Remove from stove. Soak them in hot water for 1 hour until softened.

2. Toast the cumin seeds on medium heat until they turn lightly brown and aromatic .  Remove and keep aside. Roast the garlic cloves in a few drops of oil, give a quick stir till you see a little discolouration. Remove and cool completely.

3. Pulse the cumin seeds in a grinder till they are coarsely ground. Drain the water from the chillies and add to the grinder along with garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt and olive oil and grind to a fine paste.

4. Store in a clean dry bottle and store it in the fridge. Keeps well for a month.


Kashmiri red chillies are mildly hot so if you want less heat then you can use 1/2 cup hot chillies with 1/2 cup kashmiri chillies. I like to substitute kashmir chillies with chipotle or poblano for their smoky flavour. You can customize according to your taste and heat level.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Apple Mango Ginger Salad

This salad tasted delicious and I finished it all. The tartness of the apples with the delightful aroma of the mango ginger along with the other ingredients kicked it up a notch. Mango ginger is a root vegetable like ginger with a slightly sour taste of unripe mango and a sharp spicy taste of ginger in a mild form. It has great health benefits. It is mostly used in pickles and can also be used as a flavouring to enhance the taste in meat, chicken or vegetable preparations. Here I used it in this salad with great success. 

1 Tart apple
1 hot house Tomato
6 garlic stuffed big green olives
1 tbs pickled mango ginger
1/2 cup grated carrot
5-6 Red/green leaf lettuce
Sesame seeds for garnish

2 tbs Olive Oil
Juice of half a lemon
Pink salt
Black pepper
1/2 tsp Harissa paste 
Brown sugar

1. Cut the apple into small dices. Chop the stuffed olives with the garlic and chop the pickled mango ginger. 

2. Gently squeeze out the seeds from the tomato, remove its stem and cut into small dices. 

3. Clean, wash, drain and dry the lettuce leaves. 

4.  Mix together the diced apples, tomatoes, grated carrots, chopped olives and mango ginger. 

5. Prepare the dressing by whisking together all the dressing ingredients till it emulsifies and changes to a creamy texture. Add this dressing to the salad and quickly mix well. 

6. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a salad plate. Spoon all the salad on to the lettuce leaves. Sprinkle some brown(roasted) sesame seeds on top for garnish. Serve immediately. 

1. Add the dressing just before serving the salad or else it will turn runny. 

2. You can pickle the mango ginger by cutting it into dices and adding vinegar and salt and store in a clean glass bottle. You could also use it in many preparations. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Saffron Rice


1 Cup Basumathi Rice
A pinch of Saffron
Salt to taste
4 tbs milk


1. Wash the rice 3 or 4 times or till the water is no longer murky. Then soak the rice for half an hour.

2. Boil at least 2 litres of water in a pot. When the water is boiling put the rice in it. Add 1 tsp of salt or a little more. The water should taste like sea water not too salty. Give it a stir and let it cook.

3. Check the grains to see if they are done. Take one grain of rice and press it between your thumb and index finger. It should be just a little gritty inside but soft outside. So it is time to stop cooking.

4. Drain the rice immediately in a colander.

5. Soak the saffron in 1 tbs hot milk in a mortar and pestle and crush the saffron threads till they soften and dissolve. Add the remaining milk and pour it in the rice pot. Throw in some mint leaves and close the lid, leave it to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Then switch off the stove.

6. Serve hot with any curry of your choice. You could serve the Saffron Rice  with the following Curries:

Green Masala Chicken Khorma
White Chicken Khorma
Butter Chicken 
White Methi Chicken

There's one more way of making saffron rice. Dissolve the saffron in hot water instead of milk. To this add a blob of unsalted butter. Let it rest for sometime till the saffron softens and leaves out color. Take a bowl of rice and add the saffron solution to it. Mix well. The rice gets saffron colored. You could sprinkle this rice on top of the white rice as garnish with some toasted nuts or mix this with the white rice and serve.