Wednesday, October 29, 2014

CHICKEN PULAO




Since I never get enough time to seperately post recipes on my blog, I decided that henceforth I will at least post whatever I am sending in for print!! 

Wonder why I didnt think of it earlier?

So here's the article for October 2014 in What's Happening in Dar

Marriage is a thousand little things put together – it is giving up your right, to be right in the middle of a heated argument.  It is forgiving, when the other lets you down. Its loving the other so much, that you step down, so that they can shine.  Its being a friend, a cheer leader, a confidant.  It’s a place of forgiveness that welcomes one home, and arms to run to in the midst of storm.  Marriage is Grace!!!
And this is the reason why Weddings are a time to celebrate.  It brings together not just two people, but two families, and therefore a lot of selflessness and sacrifice and patience goes into making that relation work and last a lifetime….because they are meant to last a lifetime.  That’s how God chose it to be.
And what celebration is complete without Food…none at all!!  Infact, Food remains and will always remain the “cherry on the cake”.  People may forget everything after a while, but the food remains in their minds and even for years to come they will not overlook to mention the taste and quality of food they relished at a wedding. 
Weddings world wide have a totally different trend of serving their guests.  Some serve as buffet, some as sit down menus, some a course-wise meal.  Personally I prefer the buffet anyday to a sitdown meal.  It gives me the pleasure of feasting my eyes on the extensive array of mouthwatering food while I can still catch up with guests. 
Traditional and modern, regional and multi-cuisine Menus are set and the guests are spoilt for choices.  While one’s own traditional cuisine is a must, however, Indian, Chinese, Italian, and Continental cuisines are the most popular cuisines that seems to find a place in the list.
I am today sharing a recipe which would blend itself in the Indian as well as African cuisine and this is exactly what I had in mind when this month’s issue was focusing on “Weddings”. I wanted to put up something which could find a place for both an Indian as well as an African wedding.  Other cultures are welcome to try this out for themselves, and wow their guests too.
It’s the humble Chicken Pulao….you might just say, why a Pulao at a wedding.  But I feel that the concept of the chicken and rice being cooked together along with whole spices can beat the Biriyani anyday.  Though Biriyani has its own charm, but the marriage of spices and the heartiness of the rice and chicken makes your tongue sing and soul dance, making it perfect for any wedding feast.



Prep Time – 20 minutes
Cooking Time – 30 minutes
Serves – 4

Ingredients

6-8 good pieces of chicken
250 grms good quality basmati rice (washed thoroughly and soaked for 20 minutes minimum)
4 big onions sliced thin
8-10 flakes of garlic
1 inch pc ginger
4 big tomatoes
4 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
5-6 cloves
4-5 pods of cardamom
2 star anise
6-8 whole pepper corns
1 tspn shahi jeera or caraway seeds
2 mace
1 tspn garam masala powder
1 tspn chicken masala powder
2 tbspn coriander powder
1 tspn fennel powder
1 tspn turmeric  powder
2 tspns chilli powder (optional – increase or decrease as per your liking)
½ cup plain yoghurt (Tanga Fresh Mtindi or any other)
1 tspn lemon juice
a big bunch coriander leaves
1 big bunch mint leaves

Method
In a wide mouthed pan take 2 tbspn oil and let it heat
Add the whole spices in this order shahi jeera, crushed cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon sticks, whole peppercorns, star anise and mace.
Add the onions and fry till they start sweating
Add grated garlic and ginger and fry till onions are brownish golden colour
Add the turmeric powder, coriander powder, fennel powder, chicken masala powder and stir well.
Add the tomatoes and cook till they are pulpy and oil starts separating.  Add about a tbspn of salt
Add the chicken and fry  on high for about 5 minutes
Add yoghurt and cook till it dries up
Add the soaked rice and stir well along with coriander and mint leaves
Add the garam masala and enough salt to season your rice now and mix well
Add 500 ml + 1 cup more of water
Close the lid and let the water come to a boil once and then lower the flame and without stirring cook till the rice is done and water is absorbed. Switch off the flame.
Once this is done spread 2tbspn of clarified butter (ghee) or normal butter, give a gentle mix and close the lid again leaving it to assimilate for another 5-10 minutes

If you wish garnish with fried onions and serve with chilled onion and tomato yoghurt.

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

CHANNA DAHL PULAO

Phew I managed a gap in blogging once again.  I didnt mean to though.  Lots of reasons. I have been plainly too lazy and a little ill too.  A bout of cough and chest congestion brought me down and it look me long to just come out of the spell of lethargy.  I must confess I am still under it.

In all this, I am happy to share with you all that I have started writing the Food and Wine section of another magazine in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania "Incredible Dar".  So now its two magazines.  Makes me really happy and worthwhile.  If you wish you can check it out at www.issuu.com/incredibledar


So far so good.  Its constructive use of my time sitting in a country from away from my own and having quite a lot of time to spare.

Life gives us so many opportunities here and there.  It is upto us to lookout for them and make the best use.  An opportunity once lost might not knock again, so dont let it waste.

Today I am sharing with you a recipe which is traditional in my mother-in-law's kitchen.  I really love the wholesome earthiness of the dish.  Its a simple channadahl pulao.  I have had another version of this in my mom's kitchen, and both are very different.  Mine is even more different.  What I am giving is my MILs recipe.  Anytime comfort food.




Ingredients -

1 cup basmati rice - washed and soaked
1/2 cup channa dahl - washed and soaked for about 1 hour
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods(crushed slightly)
1 tspn sugar
1 big onion - thinly sliced
1 tbspn jeera
1 tspn garam masala
1 tspn amchoor powder 
1 tbspn salt (more or less according to taste)

Recipe -

In a pan add a tbspn of ghee or oil, and let it heat.  Add the whole spices and after half a minute add the onions and sugar and saute till they are sweated and pinkish golden and caramalized
 Add the amchor, salt and the lentils.  Fry for about a minute.
 Add 1/2 cup water and and let the lentils cook till the water is consumed.
 Now add in 2 cups of water, i.e., double the quantity of rice and after one boil let it simmer and cook till done.
Add in the garam masala and a tspn of ghee (clarified butter) or butter and mix gently.
Leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with pickles and any kind of raita

Sunday, August 31, 2014

BANANNA WALNUT CAKE



Energy is something we all look forward to begin our day with.  In this fast paced life, where we are all short of time, and are always on the run, and unhealthy cravings and food are readily available , it is very important that we pay a little attention which will help us in the longer run.

“Health is Wealth” goes a very old saying – and it is true.  If we are healthy, we can push ourselves,  strain a little more, work towards that goal and yet be there for our families spending time with them and making them smile.   But for all this we need to be healthy mentally and physically.  Good food and exercise is what counts.  We should not ignore these two aspects at any cost.  It is not always possible that you eat the most healthy food, but what I am stressing here is try and maintain a balance.  If you are gorging on heavy hotel  food at one meal, try and keep the others light  and healthy.  Or even if you are travelling and are eating all your meals in a hotel, try and include more salads, fruits and grilled. Avoid the salad dressings though.  However much those fried potatoes and the dessert bar calls you  to look their way – avoid the temptation.   You might be sad momentarily, but you will be happy in the times to come.  

If you are someone like I was, just a month or so before, without a trace of guilt on eating calorie laden, sinful food, and could go on and on without winking an eyelid, then stop it immediately.  Awaken yourself and start to think what it could do to your arteries and other important body functions just a few years from now. 

Eat sensibly and small quantities of food you love, to be able to eat them till you are alive.  And exercise is imperative to keep your body fit. 

I am sharing with you a easy to do yet very healthy bake, which you can make ahead and keep in the fridge or outside (if the weathers cool) and have whenever the craving strikes. 






WHOLEWHEAT BANANA WALNUT CAKE

Prep Time – 5 minutes
Cooking Time –  30-40 minutes (if you are baking a cake) and 15-20 minutes (if its muffins)
Makes – 1 big loaf of cake or about 10- 12 muffins

Ingredients
2 cups wholewheat flour (I used Azam Whole Wheat Atta)
1 tspn baking powder
¼ tspn – baking soda
1 egg (room temperature) or substitute with ½ cup plain yoghurt
¾ cup – light brown sugar
2 ripe bananas
½ cup – refined vegetable oil
¼ tspn  - cinnamon powder
¼ cup – chopped walnuts
1 tspn  - vanilla essence

Method

Preheat oven to 160 deg
In a pan add the wheatflour, cinnamon powder,  baking soda and powder and mix well.  If you wish, you can sieve these together
In a separate pan beat the oil and the egg. If you are using yoghurt – beat the oil and sugar and add into the dry flour and add the whisked yoghurt and mix everything together.
Now add the sugar and and mix well.  You don’t have to beat it to melt
Add the vanilla essence and mix
Now pour this into the flour and combine properly. 
Mash the bananas and mix them and the walnuts into the batter and fold in well.  If the batter is too thick add in some milk and combine well.  The batter should not be very runny
Pour into greased and dusted cake tin or muffin cups and bake as suggested in the beginning of the recipe.
Check with a toothpick to see if baked entirely.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

DATE AND FIG BISCOTTI


All bakeries in Delhi have stocks of Cake Rusk.  It is something that my family, especially R has been in love with. I remember picking up half a kg of fresh cake rusk every week and it vanishing even before the week ended.  Some would have tutti-fruiti in it, but we always liked the plain ones, coz the fruit in the cake rusk was always very hard, spoiling the texture.

I too am very fond of this particular preparation, but I never realized it would be so easy to do it at home.  Till I actually did it myself.  This recipe is my second attempt at the cake rusk or biscotti in the international language.  The first one I did was Almond and Orange which required some improvement.  And the second one came out perfectly.  After this I think I will be making more biscotti than cookies or muffins or cakes.  They are soooo good, and healthy too.

This is my own recipe.  After I got the hang of the whole concept of getting the texture right, I made my own stuff.  


Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cooking Time - 20-30 minutes (Logs)
Cooling time - 30 minutes
Cooking Time - 8-10 minutes (Biscotti)
Cooling Time - 20 minutes
Makes about - 2 dozen biscotti of medium size





Ingredients
 2 cups atta
1 tspn baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup dates n figs chopped
1/4 cup cinnamon honey (I don't think it's available in India so use honey mixed with 1/2 spoon of cinnamon or put the powder in the flour)
5 tbspn salted butter
2 tbspn rum (optional)


Method
Preheat oven to 150 deg
In a dish mix the flours n baking powder
Add the dates n figs n give it a good mix
Separately beat the butter n eggs
Add the sugar n mix
Pour in the rum
Now mix the wet into the dry
Add the honey
Combine into a dough
Don't knead too much
Pat into 2 logs by dividing them into two balls
Try and keep the logs rectangular
Lay them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
Now bake for 30 minutes
Remove from oven n cool for 30 minutes
Meanwhile before 30 minutes are over start preheating once again
Once the logs are fairly cool use a serrated knife to slice them into 1/2 inch slices and lay them cut side down on the baking sheet with the baking paper and bake again for about 8-10 minutes. Just until they start browning.
Take the sheet out and leave to cool.

Believe me you will love the crumbs as much as the biscotti itself.

Friday, July 25, 2014

MANGO PICKLE

Stealing mango pickle bottles from granny's kitchen, two little girls run to the terrace to spend an afternoon of finger licking goodness.

Can never ever forget those days when vacations at my ammuma's (grand mothers) home meant loads of divine food.  Food though did not look so divine then, evoke memories and longingness today. 

I remember manga achaar used to be my favourite-est food in kerala, after chemeen olatiadu (prawn  dry fry).  I could just finish a whole bottle on my own, and then take money from my granny and run to the nearby tattukadda (roadside shop) to buy the small sachets of achaar (pickle) which were a killer deal for 50 paise !!!

The little girls above were me and and cousin. .  .  Amongst our other loot were puli (tamarind rolled in salt, which my granny used to keep in a earthern vessel), boiled prawns, raw mangoes immersed in salt and red chilli powder, gooseberries in brine, ellu unda (sesame seed balls).  Anything and everything we could lay our hands on. Nothing can return those days back but those memories are ever sooo sweet, or should I say sour??

Years later, I have improvised on the mango pickle to recreate a recipe that I now love.  I have variations to it.  But this is one of the most loved and which I am sharing with you now.




Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cooking Time - 10 minutes
Cooling Time - 2 hours

Makes about 250 grms

Ingredients
250 grms - raw mango (peeled and cut into small cubes)
1 tspn - mustard seeds
2 twigs - curry leaves
salt as per taste
1/4 tspn - hing / asofetida
2 tbspn - grated ginger
1/4 tspn - citric acid
1 tbpn - vineger
1 tbspn - sugar or jaggery
4 tbspn  - red chilli powder
1 tbspn - turmeric powder

Roasted and ground to a powder
1 tspn - methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
2 tbspn - saunf (fennel seeds)
8-10 red chillies
1 tbspn - rai (small mustard seeds) (dont roast the mustard seeds)

Method

In a wok add about 2 tbsn oil (preferably gingelly or coconut oil). When its hot add the mustard seeds and wait to sputter
Add the mangoes, curry leaves, turmeric and salt
On a high heat stir and let the waters release and dry up.  This will take about 5 minutes
Now add the masala powder and everything else except the citric acid and vineger
Cook on low till you see the oil seperating
Add the citric acid and vineger and mix well
Taste and see if the salt is adequate
At this stage adjust the salt, sweet, chilli as per your liking.

I sometimes want to make it a little more sweeter so I add a tbspn more of jaggery or sugar, though I prefer jaggery.

This jar is empty within less than a week, and I am still ready for more.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

LEMON SHORTBREAD COOKIES

Today was my birthday.  Another year went past.  Another year with good and bad moments.  Last year I was celebrating in another country surrounded with friends.  This year, it was just my family.  New country, little known people, but a heart ready to explore the newness of the place.

Birthday's are always special.  But as the years pass by, they loose their charm and other matters in life and yet more, other people in your life take priorities.  But still there's something about the day that makes it very unique.  A certain zing in the air, continuous phone calls and messages from friends world over.  It is enough to celebrate the fact that your are alive and there are people who care and lovey.  The very fact that you are alive and kicking is enough to thank the almighty, and thank I do for all that I am.

I am celebrating this day which is very special, and more so, coz its my husband's birthday too with these eye winking cookies.  "Eye winking" coz you'll certainly wink when you take a bit.




LEMON SHORTBREAD COOKIES

Prep Time - 25 minutes
Cooking time - 20 minutes
Cooling Time - 15 minutes
Makes about 30-36 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup atta / wheatflour
1 cup maida / refined flour
1/2 cup butter at room temperature (salted)
6 tbspn sugar
2 lemon - zest
1 lemon juice

Method

Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy
Add the lime zest and lemon juice and mix well
Slowly add in the flour and mix well
Knead into a smooth dough using milk at room temperature
Leave aside for 15 minutes
Take small balls and press into small cookies
Sprinkle with some more sugar on top
Lay them on a baking sheet lined with butter paper
Preheat the oven to 180deg and bake these for about 20 minutes

Allow to cool

Serve these with a wink and you'll love them.  Every time you open the box of cookies you are surrounded with a totally butterly and tangy smell that keeps lingering.  This a keeper of a recipe.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

COCONUT RICE

For me Food means memories, and I am sure a lot of my blogger friends will certainly agree with this fact.  A certain aroma may transfer you to a different era altogether, maybe of your childhood or somewhere else.

The recipe I am sharing today takes me to a friend at whose house I have had this delicious rice dish.  Coconut Rice - the first time I had it I was awed at the freshnes of the dish and I still love it a lot.  Though the friend is long lost, her memories will always remain with me.




Prep Time - 15 minutes
Cooking Time - 5 minutes
Serves - 2 as a main dish

Ingredients 

1 cup boiled basmati or any other rice variety
1 cup fresh shredded coconut
1 tsp urad daal (optional)
1 tsp channa daal (optional)
1 tspn mustard seeds
1/2 inch pc of ginger
2 twigs curry leaves
a handful of peanuts and cashewnuts mixed (optional)

Method

In a wok add a tspn of oil and let it heat
Fry the nuts till crunchy and remove from oil and keep aside
Add the mustard seeds, urad daal, channa daal let them sputter and brown but dont burn please
Add the ginger grated and curry leaves and let it fry
Now add the coconut and the rice and mix well
Add enough salt to your taste.
Mix the nuts

Serve with any kind of pickle or this is good to go on its own

Tips
Makes a great tiffin dish
If you have the fresh coconut  in your freezer most of times you can just boil the rice ahead of time and cook this up in 5 minutes
For a change add some turmeric powder