Showing posts with label Ramadan Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ramadan Recipes. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Persian Love Cookies





Persian sweets and desserts are so visually appealing as well as delicious in taste that I could not help devouring these Pistachio Rose Persian Love Cookies as soon as they were done. I have long been eyeing these cookies on this blog: and at last gathered all the ingredients to make them.

So attractive to behold, soft, chewy and delicious in taste with the fragrance of rose petals that fills your senses as you bite into them. And with the first bite you begin to wonder if you have already fallen head over heals in love with them.  You cannot stop craving for more....... No wonder they are called Love Cookies!!

I followed the recipe almost exactly except for the fact that I didn't have enough almonds that day so combined it with pistachios and the taste was divine. Next time I make them I want to try without almonds and use only pistachios.

Also I did not have pomegranate juice so substituted with berry juice which was sweet and tangy like the pomegranate flavour.


Recipe adapted from heneedsfood.com

Ingredients: 
100 gm Almond meal
50 gm Pistachios ground
110 gm Icing Sugar sifted
80 gm Pistachios finely sliced
1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
1 Tsp Green Cardamoms ground
1/3 Cup Dried Rose Petals
1 Egg White
1 Tsp Rose Water


Icing 
1 Tbs Berry Juice (blue berry and raspberry)
6 Tbs Icing sugar































    Method:

    1. Preheat oven to 335 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

    2. Grind the almonds and pistachios separately and mix together. Add the sifted icing sugar, nutmeg, green cardamom powder, rose petals and mix well.

    3. Blanch the 80 gm pistachios (soak them in warm water and remove their skins) and slice them.

    4. Now add the egg white and rose water to the dry ingredients (step 2) till the mixture comes together.























    5. Shape into balls and roll them in the pistachio slices, place them on the lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and leave them to cool on a wire wrack.























    6. Mix together the icing sugar with the berry juice until you get a smooth flowy texture. When the cookies are completely cooled, drizzle the icing on top in a zig zag motion with a fork.

    7. Once the icing is completely set, decorate them with rose petals and dust lightly with icing sugar before serving. Enjoy!

    Friday, April 7, 2017

    Baked Spring Rolls


    I have always fried spring rolls and have not tried baking them until today. I don't know why I always felt they would not be crispy enough. But this time they were as good as fried ones and my husband could not tell that they were baked  until I told him which kind of left him confused. They were not only crisp and crunchy but also not oily. I smeared them with olive oil and they turned out great. I can eat them without feeling guilty as they are healthy.   


    Ingredients: For 12 Spring Rolls

    24 Spring Roll Wrappers
    1/2 Cup Shredded Chicken (1/2 Chicken breast)
    1/2 Tsp Garlic paste
    2 Cups Japanese style flat white Cabbage (finely grated)
    1/4 Cup Carrot (thinly grated) 
    2 Tbs finely chopped spring onions
    1 Boiled egg
    1/4 Tsp Black Pepper 
    1/2 Tsp Hoisin Sauce
    2 or 3 drops of Sesame oil
    2 Tbs Olive oil
    Flour and water paste
    Sea Salt as required

    Method:

    1. Steam the chicken breast in a covered pot with a little water, garlic paste, salt and pepper till completely cooked. Remove and let it cool.

    2. Grate the cabbage finely or slice thinly with a sharp knife to get long shreds. Add one tsp salt to the cabbage and mix it well by rubbing it with the salt with your fingers till the salt is dissolved and the cabbage starts oozing out water. Drain the water and repeat working with your fingers this time without the salt. Drain well again. Then wipe the shredded cabbage with paper towels till dry. Set aside.

    3. Grate the carrot or make thin juliennes from thinly sliced carrots. Finely chop the spring onions.

    4. Grate a hard boiled egg. Shred the steamed chicken with a fork and knife. 

    5. Mix together the carrot, cabbage, spring onions, egg and chicken. Sprinkle some salt and black pepper as per taste, then 1/2 tsp hoisin sauce and 2 or 3 drops of sesame oil.

    6. Place a portion of the filling in the near corner of the spring roll wrapper and apply the flour and water paste to the far corner away from you. You can also use egg white to seal instead of flour paste. Roll over neatly while tucking the near corner under the filling. When you roll to the centre of the square fold in both the sides then roll again tightly till the end (I used 2 wrappers for each roll coz my filling was a bit moist and I didn't want them to get soggy). For exact instructions please watch this video.

    7. Brush the spring rolls with olive oil and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 

    8. Bake in an oven preheated at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 30- 35 mins. The timing may differ with other ovens. When you are half way through baking turn them over and then bake till golden or evenly browned. Enjoy with sauces of your choice. 

    Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    Dum Ka Rote Halwa (Baked Semolina Pudding)

































    This is a very popular halwa in Chennai, India well known for its name "Dum Ka Rote". To make this halwa the mixture is first cooked on flame then baked in the oven on low. In olden days they baked on charcoal ovens with burning charcoals on the top and bottom of the baking dish. But they controlled the heat, by keeping it on low. It was baked on low heat for a long time till it became crusty at the top and bottom. The crust is a delicacy and we as kids used to fight for it as it was the best part of the halwa. This halwa is what you would die for as it is so insanely delicious!!

    Basha's Halwa in Chennai is world famous (as he says in this video) and whosoever has tasted it once keeps craving for more. I am dedicating this recipe to one of my readers who was badly craving for it and requested me for its recipe. The recipe for Dum ka rote has been rotating in our family for many years and it is the closest to Basha's halwa I can say. Basha uses only melon seeds as garnish. I could not get melon seeds in the stores here, so had to use some which I managed to save after eating a melon,  therefore, I have used them sparingly. Here is the recipe:

    Ingredients:
    1/2 Cup Semolina (coarse)
    1 Cup / 225gm Unsweetened Khoya
    1 1/2 Cups / 325gm Sugar
    1 1/2 Cup Ghee + 1 tbs
    1 Cup / 115gm Almonds (for paste)
     Almonds and Cashews (chopped for garnish)
    2 Tbs melon seeds for garnish
    1/8th Tsp Saffron
    1 Cup half and half / Whole Milk
    1/4 Cup Whole Milk (for grinding almonds to a paste and for soaking saffron threads)













    Method:
    1. Soak semolina in 1 cup half and half or whole milk till it gets soaked well for 10 minutes.

    2 Cut the Unsweetened Khoya (Nanak Khoya or Bapu ka Khoya) into small pieces and blend them in a food processor till reduced to powder.

    3. Grind the almonds separately in a grinder first to a fine powder then add a little milk and grind to a fine paste with no lumps.

    4. Mix together the sugar, ghee and the ground almonds with the khoya powder in the food processor and pulse till everything gets blended well. Transfer to a bowl.

    5. Now add the soaked semolina and whisk everything with a hand whisk to a smooth thick batter.

    6. Crush the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle, add some warm milk to it then add this saffron milk to the halwa mixture and mix well.

    7. Transfer this mixture to a heavy bottomed sauce pan and on medium heat keep stirring till it comes to a boil and then starts slowly thickening. Do not stop stirring at this stage as it could get burnt at the bottom quickly. Finally when it starts leaving the sides, remove from the stove.














































    8. Grease a baking dish with ghee and pour the thickened halwa into it. Sprinkle the slivered almonds and melon seeds then drizzle the remaining ghee on top and place it in the centre of the oven preheated at 325 degrees fahrenheit.
















    9. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the top and the bottom layers start browning and the sweet scented aroma of saffron is filling the air. Remove from the oven and let it cool down to room temperature.







    10. The above picture was taken when I made the halwa again for a picnic. This time luckily I found the melon seeds at the Sri Lankan store. 



















    11. As you see in the above picture all the nuts ( I used chopped cashews and almonds) and melon seeds are gathered in the centre This is because this time I changed the baking technique a bit. I used the convection bake (temp: 350 degrees fahrenheit) instead of the regular bake and as it baked all the nuts and seeds came from the sides to the centre. Also it got crispier on the sides and center more compared to the previous halwa which got evenly crisp all over. I prefer the convection method of baking for this halwa as it had a beautiful crust and a crispy centre just like the basha halwa. And it tasted delicious!

    12. You can decorate the halwa with silver paper and serve it to your guests for dessert. 








    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:

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

























    Method: 

    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)



























    Ingredients:

    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


    Method: 

    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.



    Monday, November 28, 2016

    Lamb Shank Curry (Delhi Style)

    It's been a long time since I made this curry in Delhi style. We used to relish it so much when we lived there. Luckily I happened to stumble upon it recently in one of those little trips into my past and therefore managed to bring this inanimate thing back to life. I had to make it the very next day otherwise it would have been a long lost forgotten thing again.

    What makes it so unique in "Delhi style" is just one different spice and one finishing touch which changes its entire chemistry. It is the magic of the fried onions and the hint of the smoky flavour from the black cardamom that gives it the distinct flavour and taste which is so different from the traditional curries.

    Here's the recipe!


    Ingredients: 
    2 Lamb shanks
    2 medium onions
    4 green chillies
    1-2 Black cardamoms
    1 Bay leaf
    4 Cloves
    2 tsp ginger garlic paste
    2 tbs yoghurt
    2 tbs vegetable oil
    1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
    1 tsp coriander powder
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    Salt to taste.


    Method: 
    1. Cut each one of the lamb shanks into 2 pieces. This makes it easier to eat the bone marrow which is very delicious rather than keeping them whole. Then clean them by trimming away the fat and removing the skin carefully without chopping off the tender meat. Rinse well, drain and keep aside.

    2. Slice the two onions. Heat 1 tbs oil in a pressure cooker, add the black cardamom, cloves and the bay leaf and fry half the onion slices to a light golden brown. Reserve the other half.

    4. Add ginger garlic paste, turmeric, kashmiri chilli powder and coriander powder, give it a stir then add the lamb shanks and salt. Sauté well with the spices. 

    5. Add the whisked yoghurt to the pot followed by green chillies, cilantro and 1-2  cups of water. The water should be 2 inches above the shanks. After the first whistle in the pressure cooker turn down the heat, close the lid air tight and pressure cook for 10 - 15 minutes.  (But if you are not using a pressure cooker you will have to cook on low to medium heat for at least 45minutes to an hour. They should be so tender as to come off the bone. You can also cook in the instant pot following the directions for cooking meat accordingly.)

    6. Meanwhile fry the reserved onion in the remaining 1tbs of vegetable oil till nicely browned but not burnt. So extra care should be taken while frying the onions to have them rightly done. Set aside.

    7. Once the shanks are done turn down the heat to low and add these fried onions to the pressure cooker, cover lightly not air tight and let it simmer slowly for some more time (5-10 mins).  The browned onions not only give colour to the curry but also a sweet nutty flavour which when combined with the smoky flavour from the black cardamom and other spices further enhances the taste and makes the curry insanely delicious! 

    8. Do not let the curry thicken too much. If it tends to thicken then sprinkle a little water on all sides and let it simmer till the oil comes on top until you don't see those fried onions anymore. Add chopped fresh cilantro to garnish and enjoy with rotis (flat bread), naan or rice. 

    Notes:

    Kashmiri Chilli powder - Kashmiri chilli is a mild form of chilli which gives colour and flavour to the dish and not much heat. You can get the MDH brand of Kashmiri chilli powder from any indian grocery store.  I haven't found any other brands here. Or the other best alternative would be to soak the kashmiri chillies in water and grind them into a paste. Though this is a lengthy process, it is fresh and more flavourful. 

    Black Cardamoms - Another variety of cardamoms. They are big and black and have a smoky flavour. All asian grocery stores carry it. 

    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    Chicken Calzones



















    Chicken Calzones

    Ingredients:
    3 cups All Purpose Flour 
    2 cups Mozzarella cheese(grated)
    1tbs Yeast  
    1/2tbs Sugar            
    1 tsp Salt                    
    1 tbs Olive oil              
    1cup Water
    1 tbs Olive oil
    Pizza sauce
    Mushrooms
    Green/Red Peppers
    Tomatoes
    Olives
             
    Method:
    1. Add the yeast and sugar to 1 cup of luke warm water in a bowl and leave to rise for 5 mins.

    2. In a food processor, add 3 cups of  flour and salt. Pulse to mix well.  Add the bubbly yeast water to the flour and pulse on and off till everything comes together and forms a dough. If you find it too dry then just sprinkle a little more water taking care not to make it soggy. Keep pulsing and pausing till the dough becomes springy and starts to spin.  Add 1 tbs of olive oil and pulse once more, then remove.

    3. Make the dough into a ball  and place it in a greased bowl. Cover with a moist tea towel or cling wrap and leave it on the counter in a cozy corner to rise for 1- 2 hours.

    4.  While the dough is rising prepare the chicken filling as given in the recipe here. After 2 hours the dough is double in size. It is now smooth, spongy and ready for making calzones, pizza, foccaccia or panza roti etc.

    The Calzones:

    1.Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and shape each like a round ball.  Cover and leave for 10-15 mins. Take each ball and roll it into a fairly thin circle. I prefer pressing it with my fingers lightly to make a small flat round. Drop 1 tbs of pizza sauce on it. Give it a quick swirl so that it stays in the inner circle leaving the circumference clean and dry.

    2. Mix together the chicken filling and some grated mozarella cheese (as much as you want). Place a portion of the filling mixture on the flattened round of dough. Do not over or under load. The filling should be just enough for you to be able to seal the calzone neatly.

    3. You can also add olives, green/red peppers, tomatoes and sliced mushrooms to the filling if you like. Drizzle some more pizza sauce, some blobs here and there if you want and sprinkle some more mozarella cheese.

    4. With wet fingers moisten the edge of the calzone, then dust a little flour on it so that it becomes sticky enough to seal the edges.

    5. Close the calzone in the shape of a crescent, press the edges with a fork and tightly seal them. Care should be taken not to let the filling bulge out and touch the edges, If the edges are not sealed well then there is a chance of the filling leaking out while the calzone is baking. Repeat the same process for each one of the calzones.

    6. Take a baking sheet, line it with parchment paper and place the calzones on it. Glaze them with an egg wash (egg whites whisked with a little water) prick them with a fork and bake in the center of the oven preheated at 400 degrees fahrenheit for 15 - 20 mins or until done.

    7. Remove from the oven, let them cool a bit before serving them.


    8. Drizzle some warm pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese on top and enjoy!

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    Coconut Shrimp Poppers
























    Everybody loves my coconut shrimp poppers and I have made these many times for get togethers at home, friends' parties, pot lucks etc and each time I made them they disappeared in no time. They have an extra crunch that awakens your senses when you take your first bite. Then the subtle heat from the dijon mustard infused with the Sriracha hot sauce kicks in resulting in a tongue tingling sensation. And the dipping soy sauce fired up with ginger and green chillies has enough zing to ignite your soul and take you to another level of flavour. Hmm, what an experience of flavours to enjoy!


     Ingredients:
    Raw Jumbo Tiger shrimps -  1/2 Kg
    Kellog's Corn flakes - 1 cup
    Panko Crumbs           - 1 cup
    White flour                -  1 cup
    Black Pepper - 1tsp
    Dijon Mustard - 1 tsp
    Sriracha chilly sauce - 1 tsp
    Garlic Powder - 1/4 tsp
    Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
    Black Pepper - 1 tsp
    Egg - 1 -2
    Flour - 1 cup
    White sesame seeds - 1tbs
    Unsweetened coconut flakes - 1/2 cup
    Vegetable oil for frying
    Salt to taste
               
    1.Peel the shrimp but leave the tail, then devein, rinse, drain and dry on paper towels. Season them with salt and pepper and set them aside. 

    2.Mix together dijon mustard, sriracha sauce, garlic and cumin powders and marinate the shrimps with this paste. Leave for half an hour. 

    3.Put the corn flakes in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Do not make a fine powder. they should be coarsely crushed. Mix together the crushed corn flakes with the panko crumbs. Add some salt, pepper, coconut flakes and sesame seeds.  

     4.Place the beaten egg, flour and Panko Corn flakes mixture separately in 3 different bowls.

    5.Take each shrimp, first coat with flour, next dip in the beaten egg and then roll in the panko corn flakes mixture. Repeat for all the shrimps with patience taking care to coat them evenly. 

    6.Heat oil in a frying pan and fry them till golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels and serve hot with soy dipping sauce. Enjoy!

    Dipping Sauce: 

    Ingredients: 
    Soy sauce                      -  1/2 cup  
    Chopped ginger             - 1 tsp
    Chopped green chillies - 1 tsp
    White Vinegar               - 2 tsp
    Franks Red hot sauce    - 1 tsp

    Method:
    1.Mix together all the above ingredients and leave aside for at least 15 mins. The soy dipping sauce infused with the flavours of ginger, green chillies and red hot sauce is now ready for use. Enjoy the Shrimp Poppers with the dipping sauce.
                   



    Sunday, June 26, 2016

    Husainy Malai chicken kebabs


    Soft, tender, juicy and grilled to perfection, these cheesy chicken tikka kebabs just melt in your mouth when you eat them. The first marinade of salt and lemon juice breaks down their fibre and makes them soft and succulent. The second marinade in a blend of cream cheese, hung yoghurt and light spices tones them down adding more moisture and flavour. Also using the right technique of grilling kicks them up a notch. They are at their best when enjoyed as soon as they are done, hot from the grill as their juices run out. Heating them over and over again affects their taste and texture, so it should be avoided. I have made them many times and I realized that marinating them for 24 hours really makes a lot of difference as it enhances the flavour and taste very much. 

    Here's the recipe:




    Ingredients:
    Chicken breasts - 2 (halves from 1 whole chicken) 
    Green, red, orange and yellow bell peppers - 1 each
    Onion - 1
    Lemon - 1
    Seven spices - 1 tsp (optional)
    Vegetable/olive oil - 2 tbs plus more for basting
    Heavy duty tin foil - as much as you need.

    1st marinade
    Lemon juice - 1/2 cup
    Salt to taste

    2nd Marinade:
    Hung yoghurt - 1/2 cup
    Cream cheese - 1/4 cup
    Green Cardamoms - 12
    Fennel powder - 1/2 tsp
    Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
    Ginger garlic paste- 2 tsp
    Green chillies - 2 - 4
    Cilantro - 1/4 cup





    Method:
    1. Clean, wash and cut the chicken into cubes. Drain and towel dry them.

    2. Rub the chicken cubes with salt and lemon juice, cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Remove from marinade, and leave to drain for sometime in a colander. 

    3. Prepare the second marinade by whisking together the cream cheese, hung yoghurt, ginger garlic paste, ground green chilli cilantro paste (pound it using a mortar and pestle with just a little salt), freshly ground cardamom, cumin and fennel powder (grind together the green cardamoms with cumin and  fennel seeds in a dry grinder).

    4. Add the drained chicken cubes to this marinade, mix well, then spoon in the oil and mix together again. Leave this to marinate for 15- 20 hours. 

    5. Brush the metal skewers with oil and set them aside. 

    6. Cut the bell peppers and onions into dices. Sprinkle them with with salt, pepper and a little of the cream cheese marinade

    7. Start skewering the chicken cubes alternating with bell peppers and onions. Brush them with oil and set aside.

    8. Place the skewers on a foil lined cookie sheet and broil on high for 5-6 mins on each side or until just rightly done which is when they turn opaque and slightly golden. Baste them with oil before turning them over. They would become hard if you overcook them, so do not, let them be juicy and tender to melt in your mouth. 

    9. Slowly slide them down from the skewers on to a fresh heavy duty tin foil and quickly wrap them up to keep them hot. Use a silicon glove or clean moist paper towels when you do this otherwise you'll end up scorching your hands. Remove them from the pointed end one by one, otherwise they will break.

    10. Finally as a finishing touch, sprinkle some lemon juice and garam madala powder optional) and serve them hot with the bell peppers, onions and lemon wedges. Enjoy them with rice, naan, yoghurt mint chutney etc. I made plain rice pulao, cranberry sauce and salad for a change. These juicy and delicious tikka kebabs just melt in the mouth. So yummy, enjoy!




    Tips:

    1. You could grill the chicken tikka kebabs and the vegetables separately too on different skewers if you want. But grilling them together keeps the chicken pieces moist.

    2. Cherry tomatoes and pineapple can be used with the kebabs for grilling.

    3. Wrapping them up in tin foil as soon as they are done retains their moisture as well as keeps them hot. You could prepare them early and keep them wrapped in foil. But before serving them, place them in a hot oven for 5 - 10 mins depending on the quantity.  (The oven should have been preheated at 400 degrees and then switched off ). Do not forget and leave them in the oven for a long time as they will dry out. It is better to set a timer on.

    4. Using metal skewers is convenient. But if you want to use wooden skewers, soak them in water for a couple of hrs. I put them in a 2 litre soft drinks bottle filled with water, then closed the cap. This way it is easier to soak them rather than laying them down in a dish filled with water which takes up counter space.

    Saturday, June 4, 2016

    Barbecued Tandoori Chicken Biryani

    I wanted to give a different flavour to the usual traditional chicken biryani so gave this twist by using the barbecued chicken pieces in the biryani masala and it turned out just delicious. All the guests I had invited loved it too. 



    Ingredients:
    Chicken - 2 whole 1.5 kg / each cut into 12 pieces at the joints.
    Onions - 5 - 6 medium size
    Yoghurt - 1 cup
    Fresh Mint - 1 cup
    Fresh Cilantro - 2 cups
    Fresh green chillies - 12
    Ginger garlic paste - 1/2cup
    Ripe tomatoes - 5 (1lb)
    Cloves - 10
    Green Cardamoms- 10
    Cinnamon stick - 1 x 3"
    Turmeric - 1 tsp
    Chicken stock - 4 cups
    Long Grain basumathi Rice - 5 1/2 cups
    Saffron - a pinch
    Salt to taste
    Orange food colouring - a pinch (optional)
    Vegetable oil - 1 cup

    Tandoori Marinade
    Hung yoghurt- 1/2 cup
    Kashmiri red chilly powder - 1 tsp
    Desi/Kissan Tandoori Masala - 2 tbs
    Ginger garlic paste - 2 tbs
    Vegetable oil - 2 tbs

    Method:
    1. Clean, wash, drain and dry the chicken with paper towels. Make slits all over the chicken pieces. Rub salt and lemon juice, leave for 10 minutes then massage the chicken with the tandoori marinade. Let it rest for at least 4 hours.

    2. Preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal barbecue. Arrange the marinated chicken pieces on the preheated grill to roast them. Turn once mid way and quickly roast till half done as they will cook in the sauce later. Keep aside.

    3. Heat the vegetable oil in a big pot. Add whole garam masala spices immediately followed by sliced onions. Fry them till they are golden brown. Stir in the ginger garlic paste and turmeric then add quartered tomatoes, yoghurt, whole green chillies followed by mint and cilantro.

    4. Cook for sometime till the tomatoes soften a bit, then pour in the chicken stock and cook till everything blends well to a sauce consistency.  (The chicken stock should be made by slow cooking the chicken with the bones, water, salt and a little ginger garlic paste. Nothing else should be added to this stock).

    5. Add the roasted chicken to the prepared sauce then toss in a few green cardamoms for extra flavour and leave it to simmer till the chicken absorbs the sauce a bit. 

    6. Meanwhile boil water in a large pot.  Add 2 tbs of salt and basumathi rice previously washed and soaked in water for 1/2 an hour.

    8. Let the water boil a second time after adding rice. Leave for 2 more minutes then check the rice to see if it is done by pressing a grain of rice between your finger and thumb.  It should be slightly soft on the outside but brittle and gritty inside which means it is 60% cooked. Do not overcook it. Turn off the stove and immediately drain the rice.

    9. Take 1/4 tsp of saffron, crush it with the mortar and pestle, add it to warm milk, then add a blob of melted butter to it. 

    10. Add 1/2 a cup of the steamed basumathi rice to the saffron mixture. Mix well and keep aside. If you want to give a colourful look add yellow food colouring to another 1/4 cup of the steamed rice to sprinkle on the top layer (optional). Keep aside.

    11. Now remove the chicken pieces from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce to the roaster.

    12. Add a layer of rice over the sauce followed by a few chicken pieces , a little chopped cilantro and a few whole mint leaves.

    13. Repeat another layer in the same manner using up all the rice and sauce.

    14. Finally top it with the saffron rice layer. Sprinkle yellow coloured rice on top followed by cilantro and mint.

    15. Steam in a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 - 15 minutes. 

    16. Remove from oven when done. Mix the biryani gently before serving. Enjoy with yoghurt chutney.

    Alternatively if you cannot barbecue the chicken, you may grill or bake it in the oven for 30 minutes then turn the heat off and smoke the chicken while in the oven. To do this place a burning charcoal with the help of tongs in a tinfoil bowl and add a blob of ghee to it. When it starts to smoke immediately place it in the roaster in between the chicken pieces and close the lid. Leave it for sometime to smoke. This gives the chicken the smoky barbecue flavour.  Then follow the rest of the recipe from step 5.




    Friday, November 13, 2015

    My Canadian Thali


    "Thali" literally means a plate and in India it is used to serve a variety of dishes, so the meal itself is referred to as a "Thali" such as a vegetarian thali, a fish thali etc........

    I enjoyed eating "Thalis" in India. It is so exciting to wait for the "Thali" to be served at a restaurant and interesting to see the different kinds of vegetables, lentils, chutneys, pickles, breads served in little bowls placed in a big round plate or platter. I wanted to create my Canadian Thali similar to something like this, but filled with dishes that suit the canadian taste.

    For the Cranberry sauce I followed Ree Drummond's recipe (the Pioneer Woman) and it was so delicious! She uses maple syrup, orange juice and orange zest which is a great combination of flavours.

    My Canadian Thali has the following:

    1. Naan (brushed with olive oil and toasted in the oven).

    2. Zucchini (cut into 3 inch pieces, sprinkled with salt, pepper, basil and olive oil and baked in the oven at 400 degrees fahrenheit for 15 - 20 mins or till done).

    5. Pan fried Baby Veal (recipe will follow)

    6. Butternut squash (cut into half, seeds scooped out, brushed with some melted butter and baked in the oven till it is done, that is when it turns a little brown and starts leaving an aroma)

    7. Prepare all the above dishes, place them on a plate side by side and enjoy with toasted Naan. 

    Egg Plant Tapenade



    This is a mediterranean recipe that I modified to suit my taste. I flame grilled the egg plant to give it smoky flavour and substituted pine nuts for walnuts and sun dried tomatoes for fresh ones. The smoky egg plant combined with the slightly tangy and nutty flavours turned out really delicious. We should not forget that the egg plant is the king in this dish, so care should be taken not to over power it with other flavours. Therefore adding just the right proportions of everything makes it not only enhanced in flavour but also in taste.

    Ingredients:
    Large dark purple egg plant - 1
    Sun dried tomatoes             - 1 tbs
    Walnuts(lightly toasted)        - 2 tbs
    Extra virgin olive oil              - 2 tbs
    Pitted kalamata olives          - 8-10
    Lemon juice                         - 1 tsp
    Small onion(finely chopped  - 1
    Garlic clove                          - 1

    To garnish:
    Ground Cumin                   - 1/2tsp
    Cayenne pepper/paprika    - 1/4tsp
    Extra virgin olive oil            - 2 tbs
    Cilantro finely chopped      - 1 tbs

    Method: 
    1. Flame grill the egg plant on the gas stove till it is charred all over and becomes soft. Leave it to cool.
    2. Toast the walnuts with a little olive oil. Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in just a little water.
    3. Remove the charred skin from the cooled egg plant, clean well so that no charred remnants are sticking to the egg plant, cut it open without loosing its juices, scrape out the seeds if they are too big and hard, otherwise you can leave them.
    4. Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a sauce pan and fry the chopped onion, once it is translucent add the chopped garlic clove, walnuts, give it a quick stir and remove from stove.
    5. In a dry grinder, grind together the chopped onion and walnut mixture (pour it with the olive oil in the pan into the grinder) along with the sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper to make a smooth paste. You can add a green chilly if you want some heat. For me without thegreen chilly it tasted better.
    6. Now mash the egg plant with a hand blender and incorporate the ground mixture into it to make a sligthly smooth but still a little coarse paste. The roasted egg plant should be well blended with the ground paste.
    7. Transfer the contents to a serving bowl. Add chopped cilantro, a dash of  lemon juice, adjust the salt and mix well.  Sprinkle cumin and cayenne or paprika on top, drizzle olive oil and enjoy!


    Friday, August 21, 2015

    Spicy Carrot and Green Apple Salad



    This recipe is adapted from a carrot salad recipe I found on one of the south indian blogs. It is a very refreshing salad and I like it very much. The sauteed mustard seeds add an extra flavour to the salad.

    Ingredients: 

    Carrots shredded - 2
    Green Apple Shredded - 1
    Fresh Cilantro - 1 tbs
    Fresh lemon juice - 1 tbs
    Ginger grated - 1/2 tsp
    Salt to taste
    Sugar - 1 tsp
    Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
    Fresh Curry leaves - a few
    Green chillies - 1 small (optional)
    Vegetable oil - 1/2 tsp

    Method:

    1. Mix together the shredded carrots and apple. Add chopped cilantro.
    2. Heat 1/2 tsp vegetable oil in a small sauce pan. Add the mustard seeds when the oil is just hot to make them splutter. Add the chopped curry leaves and remove immediately and pour it on the shredded salad mix.
    3. Add lemon juice, salt and sugar, toss well and serve. Enjoy!

    Apple grape salad



    A refreshing salad for lunch or dinner as a snack or a side dish in summer.  This is a very simple salad to make from the fruits you have at home, especially when you are pressed for time and your imagination has deserted you. Cut up an apple or pear, some grapes or berries and throw them in together with a handful of spring mix, garnish with some chopped walnuts, drizzle some dressing on top and voila your salad is ready in no time! You may any dressing of your choice. I also use lemon poppy seed dressing sometimes.

    Here's the recipe:

    Ingredients:

    Green apple - 1
    Red grapes  -  1/2 cup
    Spring mix -   1 cup
    Walnuts      -   1tbs

    For the lemon dijon dressing:

    Lemon juice (fresh) - 1 tbs
    Dijon mustard - 1tsp
    Brown sugar   -  a pinch
    Olive oil          - 1tbs
    Salt and Pepper to taste

    1. Wash, peel and thinly slice the green apple. Deseed and cut in half the red grapes.
    2. Layer the spring mix on a plate, then throw in the apple slices followed by the grapes on top.
    3. Mix together all the dressing ingredients in a bottle and shake well to blend.
    4. Sprinkle chopped walnuts and drizzle the dressing on top.
    5. The salad is now ready to be served. Enjoy!

    Thursday, July 2, 2015

    Shahi Egg Sweet (Ande ki Mithai)





    Ande ki Mithai is a popular egg sweet of the muslim community in Chennai. It is considered a delicacy which is reserved to be served on special occasions and important events. Though it is made with eggs it does not taste eggy at all. Its soft and silky texture and juicy sweetness melts in your mouth and takes you to the seventh heaven. It is a must to have it as dessert after eating biryani. It is just divine!

    It is so easy to make as you just blend together all the ingredients. But care should be taken to make it using the right proportions and the right technique. If the eggs are not whisked well before adding them to the khoya then you are sure to end up with a lumpy texture.

    As a kid I grew up seeing my mom bake this sweet on charcoal in a huge copper baking pan. Those were the days of no blenders or mixies, so my mom would do everything by hand right from whipping up the eggs to making soft and smooth khoya from scratch. Then she would blend everything together by hand in a big mixing bowl. No doubt it took longer to make this sweet back then, but the end result was excellent. You got to be careful not to cook the mixture in the blender by blending it for too long. It is better to pulse to mix everything together than to blend continuously for a long time.

    Following is the tried and tested recipe:

    Ingredients:


    Eggs- 4 extra large
    Ghee- 125 gm
    Sugar - 250 gm
    Khoya - 250 gm
    Semolina - 1 tbs
    Milk - 3 -4 tbs
    Almonds for paste - 25 
    Almonds for garnish - 12
    Saffron - a pinch
    Rose essence - 2 -3 drops

    1. Whisk the eggs together in a mixing bowl. Soak the semolina in 2 tbs milk. Add a few drops of hot water to the saffron strands and let them soak as well.

    2. Pulse the khoya in a blender till there are no lumps.  Add the sugar and pulse again. Grind the almonds separately by adding 1- 2 tbs milk to make it into a smooth paste.

    3. Now add the whisked eggs, almond paste  and ghee to the khoya mixture in the blender. Blend well by running the motor for not more than 15 secs each time. Do not make it runny.

    4. Now add the soaked semolina, saffron and rose essence. Mix well to combine.

    5. Meanwhile keep the almonds for garnish ready by soaking them in water, peeling them then slicing them into thin slivers. Keep aside.

    6.Smear the baking dish with a little ghee and pour in the egg mixture. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 25 - 30 mins until it is golden brown on top. When you are half way through the baking, sprinkle the slivered almonds on top.

    7. Remove when done. When it cools down cut into diamond shaped pieces, decorate with silver foil and enjoy. You may also chill it in the refrigerator and eat it cold. It stays fresh in the refrigerator for 3 - 4 days.



    Monday, June 29, 2015

    Rice Ganji (Porridge)






















    Rice Ganji or kanji is an all time favourite for Ifthaar during Ramadan in Chennai. It is served to fasting muslims at most of the mosques there and is also prepared in almost every muslim house in Ramadan. It is a satisfying and fulfilling meal and is enjoyed with all sorts of snacks especially different kinds of vadas, samosas, pakoras etc. Sometimes to make it rich, some ground lamb or beef is added and it is called Aash. As a variation, small fried meat balls are also added.
     On the left is the picture of the rice ganji with grated coconut, chopped ciilantro and mint and below is the picture without the coconut which is also flavourful but has a lighter taste.

     Most important of all is the tadka or tempering which (done right at the end with ghee) takes it to the next level by making it rich and aromatic. Grated coconut and a hint of mint and chopped cilantro added just before tempering enhances its flavour and taste.

    Here's the recipe:

    Ingredients: 

    Rice - 1 cup
    Moong dal - 1/4 cup
    Onions - 1 small sliced
    Green chillies - 2 small
    Black pepper corns - 1/2  tsp + 5-6 for tempering
    Fresh mint leaves - 5-6
    Cilantro chopped - 1 tbs
    Ghee - 2 tbs for tempering
    Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
    Cloves - 2
    Fresh grated coconut - 1 tbs
    Ground beef/lamb - 1 tbs (optional)

    Method: 

    1. Dry roast the moong dal till lightly golden.
    2. Wash the rice and the roasted moong dal till the water is clear.
    3. Put it in a pressure cooker and add 2 cups of water, salt, pepper corns, green chillies and a little cilantro.
    4. Close the lid and pressure cook for 5 mins after the first whizz or whistle. If you are not using a pressure cooker you can cook in the normal way by adding enough water and cooking on medium heat till the rice and dal are mushy.
    5. Remove the lid of the pressure cooker after all the steam is out and add some more water to get a flowing consistency. It should neither be too thick nor too runny.
    6. Now add the fresh grated coconut, mint and cilantro and let it simmer for 2 mins. Please note that the coconut has to be really fresh otherwise all your effort will be lost. Do not use the coconut if you get a stale or rancid smell. Transfer it to a serving bowl.
    7. Now for the tempering, take a sauce pan, set it on medium heat.  Melt the ghee then add the 2 cloves, a few more (5-6) pepper corns and the sliced onions and stir continuously till they turn evenly golden brown. Now quickly add the ginger garlic paste, give it a stir and as soon as you get a whiff of the aroma pour it on top of  the prepared ganji.
    8. Gently mix the tadka in the ganji and enjoy with fritters of your choice.
























    Tips:

    Care should be taken not to burn the rice porridge at the bottom of the pressure cooker or pot. So cook on medium heat, add enough water and stir from time to time.

    Do not burn the onions in the tempering, nor let the ginger garlic paste burn too as all the flavour is lost if it is burnt.

    Those who want a meaty flavour can add 1 tbs of ground beef/lamb to the pot initially along with the rice, dal and other ingredients and follow the same method for the rest of the cooking.

    Alternatively you may roast the ground meat in a just a little oil or butter, add ginger garlic paste, and then add the rest of the ingredients and pressure cook. Follow the rest from step 5. And when you do the tempering just brown the onions with the pepper corns and cloves only and add to the ganji.

    Or add small fried meat balls and simmer for a while just before tempering.