Tuesday, March 31, 2009
March...the time of board exams in India. Oh the the anxiety and the tension that I experienced during my first board exams - the memory of it is still fresh in my mind!!
But above all, the thing I remember the most about that time is the sol kadhi that my mom would keep ready for me everyday when I returned home. Cooling and very refreshing, it was just the thing to have!! And so, to me (as to a lot of people), this is absolute "soul" kadhi!!
Made from dried outer rind of the kokum fruit, sol kadhi is a very popular Konkani drink. Tangy with a hint of sweetness (from the coconut milk), its delicate flavour and what it does to the palate is very tough to describe in words.....this is something you need to drink to really appreciate. Traditionally, it is served as an appetiser before meals, or as a digestive after a particularly heavy meal (especially after a meaty meal) - no matter when you choose to have it, one thing is certain - the delicately tangy flavour of sol kadhi will leave you craving for more!
Kokum - 8-10 petals, soaked in warm water for about 30 mins
Coconut milk - 200 ml
Garlic - 2 cloves
Green chillies - 2
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp, roasted and pound to a coarse powder, optional
Coriander leaves - for garnishing
Pound garlic and chillies together, add it to the coconut milk. Strain the juice of the kokum and mix it to the coconut milk. Season with rock salt. Chill, garnish with coriander leaves and a pinch of the cumin seed powder and sip.
Note: do check the balance of flavours - sol kadhi is not overwhelmingly sour, it has just that little hint of tanginess; it is not very coconutty either, so do keep that in mind when mixing the two.
This is my entry to FIC: Pink hosted by Priya, a wonderful event started by Sunshinemom.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Of course, from those medieval fires to modern day cuisines, the humble kebab has come a long way and undergone a lot of tranformation - imagine Persian cuisine or Lucknowi cuisine without kebabs!!
I like kebabs for one simple reason - you can make them well in advance and freeze them; just grill them when the craving for something delicious strikes! And so, I am always on the lookout for newer kebab recipes.
When I first concocted the recipe for Berry Pulao, little did I know that the kebabs that went into it would end up being one of our favourites! So now, whenever I make Berry Pulao, I make sure I make some extra kebabs - these are so delicious and delicately flavoured that if I didn't make extra, they would never make it to the pulao!!
300 gms chicken mince
for the marinade:
1 onion finely chopped,
1 tsp rose water
1.5 tsp anardana powder (pomegranate seed powder)
1 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
salt to taste
saffron infused ghee (toast about 20 strands of saffron, crumble them, add a tbsp of water and a tsp of sugar and let it stand for about 15 mins. Then add 2 tbsp of melted ghee).
Shape into flat discs, or if you have skewers, shape as you would seekh kebabs. Drizzle some saffron infused ghee and grill till the chicken is cooked tender.
Friday, March 27, 2009
And thank you all, for all the wonderful, droolicious entries you sent me. Without further ado, here's what you all made:
Like the flavourful, oriental ramen? Do I hear a loud "yes"? Then head over to Tasty Treats where JZ has some Ramen Vegetable and Steak Stir fry
Food can be such a source of comfort....Gay of A Scientist in the Kitchen fights homesickness by cooking lovely dishes like this super Penne with Fresh vegetables!
Kitchenetta of Got No Milk makes this spicy Pasta alla Diavola that strikes just the right notes for her!
Deb of Kahakai Kitchen tantalises the taste buds with this flavourful and zesty Linguine with Oyster Mushrooms and Gremolata.
Ever feel lost for ideas as to how to get your kids to eat some spinach? Head over to Supriya at Queen of my kitchen where she has made some Green Butterfly Pasta.
Melissa of Alosha's Kitchen beckons summer with this refreshing Insalata Caprese. Do you really want to wait for summer to try this one?!!
This one - Farfalle with Sausages, Tomatoes and Cream - that Pam of Sidewalk Shoes makes has easy and tasty written all over it! Don't believe me? Read it and head straight to the kitchen to make it!
Abby of Eat the right stuff makes this super healthy and delicious Savoy Cabbage, Sun dried tomato, chilli and pine nut fettucelle - love the mix of colours in there!!
Craving a pasta that is spicy and flavourful? Check out the lovely Whole wheat linguine with seitan tofu gumbo that Singing Horse of The Peaceable Kingdom has dished out!
When I saw the lovely Chicken and Mushroom spaghetti in marinara sauce that my fellow Singaporean blogger, Mrs Ergul made, I had half a mind to invite myself over at her place!
Macaroni and cheese....to me, that is heaven on a plate. Asha of Aroma entices the tastebuds further by adding Italian sausage in this yummy Macaroni and Cheese with Italian Sausage casserole
I love pancetta, and just reading about the Rotini with Pancetta that Kait of Pots and Plots made transported me to culinary heaven.
I always get excited when I see some unique food pairings and so I loved reading the Spaghetti with spiced chickpeas that Mangocheeks of Allotment 2 Kitchen made.
Wow, isn't that one awesome variety we have here?! Thank you all once again for making it to PPN #106 - I really, really enjoyed hosting it.
PPN #107 that runs from March 28 - April 2 is being hosted by its founder, Ruth. Hope to see you there!!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I have no idea who said this, but it just about sums up my version of the Sacher Torte. The Original Sachertorte (and this is a registered trademark!) was made way back in 1832 in Austria and the recipe is a closely guarded secret. Sold exclusively in Vienna and Salzburg, I have never tasted it and so I have no way of telling whether the recipe I followed mirrors the original in taste and texture.
That said, believe me, this was one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever made (and eaten). Dense, moist and very chocolatey, this cake is pure indulgence!
Dark chocolate - 100 gms (I used Varlhona feve Equatorial 55%)
Water - 225 ml
Butter - 125 gms
Dark brown sugar - 250 gms
Eggs - 3, separated
Self raising flour - 150 gms
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Cocoa - 25 gms
Powdered almonds - 60 gms
Mix the chocolate and water and heat till the chocolate melts. set aside and cool. Sift the flour, baking powder and the cocoa.
Cream together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat well. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the chocolate mixture; then add the powdered almonds.
Beat the eggs white till soft peaks form and fold into the batter.
Pre-heat the oven to 160 deg C for ten minutes, grease and line a 9" cake pan with baking paper and bake the cake for an hour and 1o mins - oven temperatures vary, mine took only 50 mins, so do check when the aroma gets irrestible!
The recipe (adapted from the Australian Women's Weekly) like the Original Sachertorte calls for apricot jam to sandwich the two cake layers. But apparently, I wanted more chocolate and so I sandwiched the layers with Eggless Chocolate Mousse.
Eggless chocolate mousse:
Dark chocolate - 75 gms
Monday, March 23, 2009
The other day, when I went shopping for prawns to the wet market here, I was suddenly reminded of the kolin who we used to buy our fish from. Dressed in garish coloured saris and bedecked with gold, she would haul her basket on her head and walk tall and erect, never once needing her hands to balance the load on her head! Bargaining loudly with the customers, her face would nevertheless break into an easy grin (once the sale was completed, almost always on her terms!) showing not just her tobacco stained broken teeth but more importantly, a glimpse into her warm heartedness beneath the very agressive demeanour.
I had decided to make a very typical Maharashtrian prawn curry, but for some reason, the lure of making a pasta in a creamy shrimp sauce was too irrestible. However, there was very little fresh cream in the fridge - but several packets of coconut cream in the pantry and thus, Prawns in Creamy Coconut Sauce happened. Luxuriously creamy, it is the touch of saffron with a hint of basil that makes this sauce absolutely irrestible!
This is my entry to Presto Pasta Nights # 106 being hosted right here.
Hope you guys are also furiously thinking pasta!!
Friday, March 20, 2009
Considering that this the 106th instalment of an event which is now in its 3rd year, I think PPN doesn't need any introduction. This event has a very simple pre-requisite - all you need to do is cook with noodles.
That's it? Well, yes.
"The dish must have some sort of noodle, it doesn't have to be traditional Italian type pasta, it can be hot, cold, salad, soup, main, dessert, or anything else, but it must have some kind of noodle".
Simple enough, isn't it?! Click here for further details.
So just cook with your favourite noodle and post it in your blog mentioning the link to the Presto Pasta Nights website and to the PNN #106 announcement (that would be this post) and send it over to me at:
aquadaze(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com with a copy to Ruth at:
Include the following details in your e-mail:
Your blog name and URL
URL of your post
A photo of your dish
Not having a blog need not deter you, just send mail me the recipe and the picture!
PPN #106 runs between March 21st - March 26th. The round up will be done on March 27th. So hurry - Ruth and I are eagerly looking forward to your entries!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
It is 12:50 at night, and I am staying up because I can't put down this book I'm reading - The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson. Mid-way through the book, I decided to check out what everyone else has been cooking and here I am writing a post! No one has ever managed to tear me away from a book...such is the lure of blogging!
Other than Italian food, Terradaze and I generally tend to agree on all other cuisines and Thai cuisine is one of our favourite; the use of spices and herbs and coconut milk is something that totally suits our palette. Needless to say, Thai food is something that features very regularly on our table. Since I have a book to return to, I will cut the crap and leave you with something I make very very often at home...this one is ridiculously easy to put together resulting a tongue tickling delight of flavours. Enjoy!
Mince (chicken/pork/meat/beef) - 500 gm (the mince used here is pork, but I have made this with the others as well)
Garlic - 8 cloves
Chillies - 5 birds eye red chillies (adjust according to spice tolerance)
Coriander leaves, stem and root - 6 stalks
Fresh sweet or holy basil leaves - 3/4 cup, firmly packed
Fish Sauce - 1 1/2 tbsp
Oyster Sauce - 1 tbsp
Soy sauce - 1 tsp
Stock - 1/2 cup (or use 1 stock cube in 1/2 cup of water)
Brown Sugar - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 1/2 tbsp
deep fried basil leaves - 1 tbsp, optional, for garnish
(there is no salt in this list of ingredients - the sauces used are very high in salt, so add some only if you need to)
Wash and pat dry the coriander stalks. Pound the chillies, coriander stalks and garlic together.
Heat oil, fry the paste till fragrant. Turn up the heat to high and then add the mince in small batches - ensure that every batch you add is nicely browned before adding the next batch in; as you stir, the mince will release water. Keep cooking till the water dries up - by this time, the mince would be almost done.
Add all the sauces, sugar and half the basil leaves. Next add the stock, a little at a time and cook till the mince is well done.
Before serving, add in the remaining basil leaves, stir till they wilt. Garnish with the fried basil leaves and some sliced red chillies and serve with steaming hot rice.
Note: I have made the exact same thing with cauliflower. Steam the cauliflower till it is half cooked, mash it into tiny bits and proceed as above, just use vegetarian fish sauce in place of the real thing - it tastes just as good!
Sending this to Yasmeen who is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging this week , a lovely event conceived by Kalyn and now conducted by Halo.
Monday, March 16, 2009
And so call it payasam or kheer or payesh or even rice pudding, it is something that has universal appeal. Creamy in texture with the delicate flavour of nuts and cardamom and the sudden burst of flavour of the plumped up raisins, rice kheer is the perfect answer to a no - sweat, easy to make dessert.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
New York Cheesecake
for the crustgraham crackers or digestive biscuits or marie biscuits - 200 gms
butter 1oo gms
sugar - to taste, I use about a 1 1/2 tbsps
vanilla essence - 1/2 tsp
for the filling
cream cheese - 450 gms
eggs - 2, lightly beaten
caster sugar - 130 gms
sour cream - 100 gms
lemon rind or vanilla essence - 1 tsp
lemon juice - 30 ml
plain flour - 11/2 tbsp
Put the biscuits into a ziplock bag or between kitchen towels and run a rolling pin over to crush them to a fine powder. Or, if you are like me, simply process in a mixie. Melt the butter and add to the crushed biscuits, put the sugar and the essence and mix till the mixture takes on the look of wet sand.
Butter a 8 inch springform pan (I only have a 10 inch pan, so my cheesecake looks a lot flatter) and press the mixture over the base and sides of the pan and bake for 5 mins at 250 deg C; refrigerate for 30 mins.
making the filling:
Pre-heat the oven to 250 deg C.
Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. When mixing the ingredients for the cheesecake, don't overbeat, just mix until the ingredients are incorporated. First, start by beating the cream cheese for two mins, scrape the sides. Add the sugar in two additions, beat until the sugar is properly incorporated into the cream cheese.
Again, scrape the sides and then add the lemon juice, sour cream, essence and the flour and mix for a couple of minutes. Finally add the eggs and beat until mixed.
Pour the filling into the springform pan on the cooled crust. To release any air bubbles trapped into the filling, lift the pan a few inches off the counter top and drop it (carefully) on the counter - the air bubbles will rise to the surface.
Bake the cheesecake for 10 mins at 250 deg C. Then reduce the temperature to 90 deg C and bake for about an hour or until it is juts set in the centre. One way of knowing if the cheesecake is done is to touch it in the centre, if done, it will spring back.
Leave the cake inside the oven (with the oven door open) for about half an hour. Run a knife along the edges of the pan to release the cake from the side of the pan, cover it with a large bowl or vessel and let cool on the counter top for about a couple of hours. Then, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 5-6 hours, preferably overnight.
Cooling the cheesecake in such elaborate stages is a test of patience, I know, but this does minimise the risk of the cake cracking as it cools.
However, inspite of all these steps, if your cheesecake does crack, top it off with some strawberry sauce....now you know why mine has it :). Not only does it make the cheesecake look absolutely droolicious, it takes the taste up a few notches.
To make the strawberry sauce ( I eyeballed these, so can't give any quantities), mix strawberries, lime juice and sugar in a vessel and let it rest for about 5 mins. Then, crush the strawberries with your hands to release the juice. Simmer till the sauce starts to bubble. Mix a tablespoon of cornflour in some water and add to the sauce, cook until the sauce thickens. Cool and spread on top of the cheesecake.
Once you've eaten a homemade cheesecake, you're never gonna order it outside, I can assure you!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Thank you all for this delicious, delicious goodies!!
Cookies and assorted Sweet Treats:
I had absolutely fallen in love with these Chocolate Walnut Bars that Poornima made, take a look at these beauties, don't just drool - make them quick!!
Preety of Preety's Kitchen makes such delicious cookies, I don't even know which one to pick. What is more, each of these cookies, in addition to using the goodness of nuts, uses fruits for the added healthy and flavour twist! Check out her Thick Chewy Chocolate Chip cookies, Oatmeal Cookies with Surprise Inside, and Whole Wheat Soft Banana Cookies.
Happy Cook of My Kitchen Treasures takes cookies to a totally new dimension with her Cranberry and Dark Chocolate cookies - read all about them and drool!
Combine nuts with the tartness of cherries to make these delicious crumbly Cherry Nut Crescents a la Yasmeen of Health Nut!
Sangs of Fireworks in my Kitchen would regularly eat walnuts when she was pregnant, incorporating them in ice creams, cakes, muffins. She shares with us Walnut Raisin Bars, an easy to make, delicious and healthy snack!
Now, I'm a lady who can hold her drinks. Very well. But this one - Sweet Vodka Bites from Notyet100 of Asankhana - just knocked me off!
Ever wonder what "different" to make for breakfast or an evening snack? Try Preety's Apple Cinnamon Oats Pancakes! Packed with flavour and health, these pancakes can win over the most fussy eaters, I am sure.
Cakes n Bakes
Fennel in a cake? It sure was a first time for me. But Asha of Aroma Hope makes this awesome Carrot Wanut Cake which is infused with fennel and orange resulting in a tongue tingling delight!
Chocoholics, rejoice.....Bindiya of In Love With Food shares her Dense Dark Fudgy Brownies - intensely chocolatety, these are the best brownies she's ever had.
Like muffins? Try Preety's Banana Coconut Muffins. Don't they sound delicious?
Have unexpected guests at home? Take a cue from Priya of Priya's Easy and Tasty Recipes and make these awesome Microwave Brownies!
Ever tried your hand at making Blondies? Seeing these Blondies that Snooky Doodle of Snooky Doodle Cakes made, I am very very tempted to make these...I am sure, you will all fall in love with these as well.
I love caramel and therefore was very excited to read about these Caramel Brownies that Sowmya of Creative Saga made.
Want a fuss free, sweat free quick treat? Ashwini's Five Minute Nutty Fudge absolutely fits the bill!
Renuka of Fusion makes her Brownies with cocoa powder. Easy to put together, yet so delicious that she needs to make another batch soon after!
Swapna of Cooking with Swapna comes up with this fuss free, rum infused Rich Fruit Cake. Need I say anything more? Delicious. Yummy. Awesome...you get the picture, right?
Bananas and walnuts are just made for each other, their distinctive flavours complement each other very well and Yasmeen uses them to make this super moist, vegan Walnut Banana Bread.
And while you are here, do take a minute to take a look at my Pecan Butter Cake with Caramelised Butter frosting.
Get your pie dishes out - for one look at this delicious Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie sent in by Aparna of Sumi's Kitchen will make you want to try it out as well!
Yasmeen whips up this lovely Sweet Potato Pie...when she makes something, you can be sure it's gonna be healthy and yes, droolicious!
Curries, Soups and Pestos
Whenever I check Soma's blog Ecurry, I am assured of finding something unique. I am sure you will all agree after you read all about her Cauliflower tagine with Walnut Mint Couscous.
Just slurp Yasmeen's nutritious Mushroom Walnut Soup, creamy, nutty, tasty and healthy....what more would you want?!!
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!