Paneer Pepper Masala

I’m going to cut to the chase today..its a Paneer Pepper Masala that I have to share today. My mom made it on our recent trip home( Kochi). What do I say..It was lovely…as are most of my moms dishes…

Paneer Pepper Masala

Paneer Pepper Masala

Ingredients
Paneer( Cottage cheese) -200 gms, cubed. fried in oil and marinated in 1/4 cup curds for 10 min.
Cashew Paste – tbsp
Spinach Cooked and Ground to a paste -1/4 cup
Raw coriander and Mint Paste- 2 tbsp
Yellow or Green Capsicum – 1 chopped
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green Chillies – 2 chopped
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Freshly ground pepper – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Tomato puree – 1/2 cup
Onion – 2 chopped
Fresh cream – 2 tbsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Oil- 2 tbsp

Method
Heat oil. Add onion , ginger and garlic paste. Fry well.

Add the tomato puree and green chillies and cook for a while.

Add all the dry powders, salt with the marinated paneer, spinach paste, coriander mint paste, cashew paste and half a cup of water.

Cook till it is ready ( 5 minutes)

Add crushed pepper powder, lemon juice and cream.

Serve hot with rotis or rice.

Pasta + Spinach + Almonds = YUM!!

Its been a relatively lazy week….I’ve been reading ( The White Tiger- Finally got a hold of the book), and enjoying my guitar lessons and life has been moving slo-mo!
I even gave the weekly grocery shopping a miss and one night realized I had just a few bunches of spinach in the pantry. Luckily I’d seen this recipe here only weeks earlier and I knew just what to make. Heidi’s recipes are never-fail and this one didn’t disappoint either. Its an incredibly healthy yet delicious one meal dish…..deepened by the intense and complex nuttiness of almonds and flavored by lemon zest….


Baked Spinach Pasta

I halved the measurements…this serves 8.

extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound pasta
sea salt
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups well-chopped fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups lightly toasted and coarsely ground
zest of 2 lemons
8 ounces mozzerella, shredded or torn into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter/oil a large casserole dish or baking pan – something roughly equivalent to 13×9-inch pan.

Boil the pasta in salted water per package instructions. Drain pasta, toss with a glug of olive oil. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Saute the onions with a couple pinches of salt for a few minutes (or if you want a bit more depth of flavor until caramelized). Stir in garlic. Stir in spinach. Cook for just about 20 seconds, until the spinach collapses a bit. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the almonds and 1/2 of the zest. Add to pasta and stir and stir – mixing extremely well, a minute or so.

Now sprinkle the bottom of baking dish with the rest of the zest. Add a layer of the pasta to the bottom of the baking pan, now sprinkle with some of the cheese, add more pasta, then more cheese. Finish with a layer of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and melty. Serve sprinkled with the remaining almonds.

Now for some Awards I would like to thank

Rupali of RecipeRagBag for the TAG award award…I would like to pass it on to
1.subhashini of Food the spice of life
2.Malini of Rozkakhana
3.Srimati of few minute wonders
4.bittersweetbrigade
5.
Akarma Foods
6.Rajendramanju of life is beautiful
7.NS of my experiments with food

Suma from sumarowjee for the Thank You award..

This one I would like to pass on to..
1. Preety of Preetys Kitchen
2.Champa of Versatile Kitchen
3. Denu Foods
4.Vinolia of saapadu
5. Subhies Kitchen
6.anu of Mrignayani
7.soma of recipe diary
8.pavani of cooks hideout
9.pangravykadaicurry
10.kajals dreams
11.silence sings
12.Veg inspiration

The Yummy Team for this Sunshine award..I would like to pass it on to ALL my blogger friends….

and sashi of Tasty Bites gave me this Yummilicious award ..I would like to pass it on to

TREAT&TRICK
spicytasty
jay of tastyappetite
cham of spiceclub
curryandbeyond
kaugiri
easy2cook
PJ

Thanks all!!

Spicy Dry Prawn Masala

A few years back we were dinning at a family friends place and while serving us the prawn curry, this person started to to describe a prawn curry he had eaten sometime earlier. He said they(the prawns) sat in the gravy like big curled millipedes!

What a horrid way to describe food!!

I was so repulsed by the image that I stayed off prawns for many years since.
Its only NOW with my recent weight gain and resultant appetite, where i’ll eat ANYTHING, that Ive started to eat them again!

I’m going to share with you a typical Kerala Dry Prawn preparation that my mom makes( hoping my little anecdote has none of you cringing at the sight of prawns!)

Ingredients

Small Onions 12
Red chillies 5
Pepper 1/2 tsp
Ginger
Garlic 6 cloves
Curry leaves 10
Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
Grind the above with a little water.

Prawns 500 gms

Wash and clean the prawns and add some water,the ground spices and salt and cook in a deep bottomed vessel for 10 min or until cooked. Once slightly dry add some coconut oil( 2 tbsp) and curry leaves and let fry for a few more minutes.
There you have it …an easy peasy prawn dish..mallu ishtyle.

I Finally Found what Im looking for…


Here’s the other recipe I tried out from our Book Club’s January selection Climbing the Mango Tree.
I must admit that this too I found kinda bland…but i upped the spice quotient and it was simple yet delicious.

Chicken Cooked in a Yogurt-Almond Sauce (Murgh Korma)

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

One 2 ½ -inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4-5 good-sized cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons blanched, slivered almonds
1 ½ cups plain (nonfat) yogurt
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala (see below for Madhur’s recipe)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
½ – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1 ½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into fine half-rings
Two 2-inch sticks of cinnamon
8 whole cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
3 ¼ pounds chicken, cut into 8 pieces (see headnote)
2 tablespoons golden raisins (sultanas)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS

Put the ginger, garlic and ¼ cup water into a blender. Blend until you have a smooth paste. Add the almonds and another 2 tablespoons water. Blend again until you have a smooth paste.

Put the yogurt in a bowl. Whisk it lightly with a fork or whisk until smooth. Add the garam masala, ground coriander, cayenne and salt. Stir well into mix.

Put the oil into a large, preferably nonstick sauté pan and set it over medium heat. When it is hot, put in the sliced onions. Stir and fry for 10-12 minutes, turning the heat don if necessary, until the onion slices are reddish brown. Remove the onion slices with a slotted spoon, squeezing out as much of the oil as you can with the back of a second spoon, and leaving that oil back in the pan. Spread the onion slices over a paper towel-lined plate.

Put the cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves into the same pan over medium heat. Stir once or twice. A minute later, put in the chicken pieces, only as many as the pan can hold easily in a single layer. Brown the chicken lightly on both sides, removing them to a bowl when done. Do all the chicken pieces this way. Add the golden raisins. Stir a few times and then add the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for two minutes. Now put the contents of the bowl with the chicken, including all the accumulated juices, the contents of the yogurt bowl and the fried onions. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer, still on medium heat. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook gently for 25-30 minutes, stirring gently now and then, until the chicken pieces are tender. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve.


To Make Punjabi Garam Masala used in Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe:

Put in a spice grinder
1 tbsp of cardamom seeds
1 tsp of whole black peppercorns
1 tsp of whole black cumin seeds
1 tsp of cloves
1/3 of a nutmeg
2″ stick of cinnamon

Grind finely and store in an air tight jar. This makes about 3 tbsp of Garam Masala

BTW ..WHAT was Lady Gaga wearing at the Grammy’s??????????????????Definitely Out-of-this-world!!!!!

Irresistible Spinach and an Award

Ever since I laid my eyes on Sias blog I was hooked. It’s got some witty write-ups and absolutely gorgeous pictures.
And the recipes.Man! the recipes! I have tried a few with stupendous success and wish to share with you one such.

But wait!!

Before that I would like to thank…with all my heart…Sumi for bestowing me with the following award…..and since I have already spilt the beans on 7 unknown facts about me ..all I need to do now is pass on this to 7 other wonderful bloggers…

The rules of the award goes like this:

Copy the award to your blog.
* Thank the person giving the award.
* Place a link to their blog.
* Name seven things people don’t know about you.
* Nominate 7 bloggers.
* Place a link to those bloggers.
* Leave a comment to those bloggers letting them know about the award.

Meeso of For the Love of Food
Sapna of Sapnascuisine
Saee Koranne-Khandekar of myjhola
Ranjani of wakeupandsmellthemasala
Shaz of Testwithskewer
Deepa of Foodlyrics
Holly of phenomenon..
These are awesome blogs..Go check them out..

Anyway BACK to my recipe here’s a list of ingredients you will need.This easily serves 6 .

3 bunches Palak/Spinach, chopped
1 cup Milk
3 Onions, finely chopped
5 Potatoes
4 slices of Bread
1/4 cup Green Peas
1 inch Cinnamon
2-3 Green Cardamom
3 Green Chillies
1 inch Ginger, minced
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1/2 tsp Turmaric Powder
1/2 tbsp Amchur/Dry Mango Powder
1 tbsp Garam Masala
2 tbsp Cashew nuts,ground into a paste
2 tbsp Butter/Oil/Ghee
2-3 tbsp of Gram Flour
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method:
For Koftas:

Pressure cook potatoes,peel and mash thoroughly.
Soak bread in water, squeeze and add to the potatoes.
Mix with 2 tbsp of the finely cut onion, chillies, cooked green peas, coriander leaves, garam masala, salt, amchur powder, cashew paste and small amount of finely chopped palak.
Mix well and prepare small balls.
Make a paste of the gram flour and water.
Dip these balls in the gram flour paste and deep fry in hot oil.

Keep aside.

Now the Gravy:

Heat a tsp of oil in a pan and fry the palak with a little sugar added to it(this apparently is to retain the green colour)

Sprinkle little water if necessary.Cook until soft.
Once cool grind to a smooth paste.
Heat butter in a pan and add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
After 1 minutes add the chopped onions and fry till it turns transparent.
To this add ginger, ground palak with milk, salt, chilli powder, amchur, turmaric, and garam masala.
Mix well and cook it till the gravy thickens in a medium flame.
Add Koftas just prior to serving.

Burning Burning Burning

Ha! Gotcha! That should have actually read Gaining Gaining Gaining

My weight that is.

Ever since i stopped nursing my younger son, I have steadily packed on the pounds.
It’s not like I’ve ever been skinny, but as Alexander mccall smith
would say i have a ‘traditional waistline‘.

But when i gained 12 kgs( no, that’s not a typo) in just ONE MONTH, i knew something was wrong…

A visit to my doc confirmed my worst fears…er..no I wasn’t pregnant again…rather i had low Thyroid. My TSH — Thyroid Stimulating Hormone-levels had hit the roof…

Now as many of you probably know, the Thyroid gland which is situated at the bottom of the neck regulates the body’s metabolism(among its other functions)..sorta like a thermostat.

What I have is low Thyroid /hypothyroidism or rather an under-active thyroid which translates into a high TSH level.

Well I am on medication now so all should be fine soon..but what i need to do is WATCH MY DIET and more importantly Exercise…


So when i saw the Ten in 10: Ten weeks to healthy in 2010 challenge on the Recipegirls blog I just HAD to join…

So here goes..
These are my goals

Eat healthier.. which means include more veggies and fruits…and not as desserts!!-Include more salads and soups each week…
Try and get to the gym atleast 4 days a week.
Continue with my walks and yoga ….
lose weight in time for our annual holidays!!!!!!

So now i leave you with a wonderful recipe(ok ok it’s not all that fat free) but it does have loads of beans….


Beans Casserole

Ingredients

600 grams beans- halved and rinsed and cooked until crisp-tender
2 medium onions, thinly sliced into rings
2 tbsp bread crumbs( I used whole wheat bread crumbs)
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp butter
200 grams mushrooms, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups milk
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp oil
salt
pepper


Boil/steam beans in some water until cooked but still crunchy.

In a saucepan heat the oil. Add the onion rings and cook till crispy brown.I also read here that you can bake them instead. So that’s what i did. To do this preheat oven to 300 F. Lightly grease a baking tray and spread the onion rings on them and bake 20 minutes or until they turn brownish…Set aside.


In a well buttered pan, add the mushrooms and cook on high flame for no more than a minute or so. Add the garlic cook for another minute and remove and strain.

Add 1 tbsp butter to a saucepan and once it melts add the flour.After a few minutes slowly add the milk.Cook it on low heat for maybe 15 minutes. Stir it every once in a while.Add the salt and pepper and any other seasoning you want to….

Add the mushrooms into this sauce.


Take off heat and combine with the cooked beans.

Top with the baked(or fried) crispy onions and the bread crumbs

Place into the oven and bake(350F/160C) until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes….As you can see the bread crumbs haven’t browned enough( I took it out too soon)…but they should have…

Note: You can top with cheese if you wish…but well to cut down on fat , I didn’t.

It is one delicious one dish meal….Try it…


I got this recipe from many sources….you can look here, here and here….

Down Came the Rain

leaves from my balcony
It’s the perfect climate to snuggle up in bed. But alas, my kids think otherwise and insist of creating mayhem at home. It’s impossible to sleep amidst all that noise. Trust me, if it were anyway possible I would be snoring away. The other day I needed to get the number of a local store and had called the Goa helpline. Hearing all the crazy chaos in the background the lady actually asked me if I were calling from a school!!! I swear this really happened; the two of them make that much noise. And today was even worse as they were all excited about some party we had to attend. It was held in an aircraft hangar with helicopters and aircrafts parked all around. Look at our golf course all soaked in the rain ….
It's Flooded!

Water Water Everywhere..

And a commercial aircraft trying to make a quick exit before the next round of rains.
Quick Getaway

Had some leftover shredded chicken …so made some creamy olive chicken sandwich.

1 onion shredded
1 tomato chopped
½ cup cabbage shredded
¼ cup mayonnaise or cheese spread/cream cheese
10 black pitted olives
1 tomato cut into thin rounds
Chicken, boiled and shredded
1 tsp olive oil
As many slices of bread as required. I used brown bread
Butter
chicken sandwich

In a saucepan heat the oil and fry the onions. Once it looks done (read opaque), add the tomatoes and the shredded chicken. Fry until chicken is slightly browned. Put this mixture into a bowl and add the shredded cabbage and the mayo/cheese spread. Throw in the olives. Apply on buttered bread and put the tomato slices and lettuce leaves (I didn’t have any). Grill. Eat.

Not the best thing to have on a rainy day. But then we are suckers for anything fattening! Found the recipe from BBCGood food. It’s quite good…I used caramel topping..divine…

Vanilla Ice Cream

* 284ml carton double cream
* 300ml full fat milk
* 115g caster sugar
* 1 vanilla pod
* 3 large egg yolks
* have lots of ice cubes at the ready

1. Put the canister from the machine into the freezer a day before you want to make the ice cream. Next day, pour the cream and milk into a medium heavy-based pan, then add half the sugar. Cut the vanilla pods into three and add it in.
2. Heat the cream and milk over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until it almost boils .Take off the heat and set aside for 30 minutes so the vanilla can infuse.
3. Beat the egg yolks and the remaining sugar for about 2 minutes until the mixture has thickened, is paler in colour and falls in thick ribbons when you lift the beaters. Using a measuring jug, scoop out about 125ml/4fl oz of the cream mixture and beat into the egg yolks to slacken them. Reheat the cream until it just comes to the boil, take off the heat and stir in the egg yolk mixture.
4. Return the pan to a low heat and cook, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, for 8-10 minutes, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Watch that it doesn’t boil – as soon as you see any bubbles about to burst to the surface, it should be thick enough, so take the pan off the heat so the mixture doesn’t curdle.
5. Pour the custard into a heatproof bowl, then sit it in a bigger bowl one third full of iced water to cool (this takes about 30 minutes). Stir occasionally to stop a skin forming. Put the bowl of custard in the fridge overnight so it gets really cold.
6. Get the ice cream machine running, scoop out the vanilla pod pieces, then slowly pour in the cold custard. Leave it to churn for 10-30 minutes (depending on your machine). When it stops, it is probably too soft to eat, so spoon into a plastic container, cover with cling film, then a lid, and freeze for a minimum of 3 hours. (It will keep in the freezer for 3 months but don’t take it out, then refreeze.) Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.
7. To make it by hand: in step 1, heat the milk, vanilla, and half the sugar without the cream (the custard will be slightly thicker). At the start of step 6, whip the cream so it’s light and floppy, not too stiff, and fold it into the cold custard. Freeze for 3-4 hours, stirring once an hour until almost frozen, then freeze as above.
topping
Top with caramel or chocolate.

Paneer Burji

“How do you manage to remain so waif-like?” I once asked a friend. I mean, she was stunning, and slim and a mother of one. “You Mallus eat way too much rice”, she said… “I hardly ever eat rice”. I opened my mouth to disagree, but couldn’t say anything, and no, not because my mouth was stuffed with food, but because I had nothing to say. I just had to agree with her.

Come to think of it, most of our meals are rice based; Idlis, Dosas, Appam, Puttu..the list is ENORMOUS. And the quantity of rice we consume for lunch can almost feed a small nation.

At my parents place the only non-rice meal we have is at dinner. “What shall I make with the chapattis?” is a common refrain as my mom always runs short of side-dish ideas for chapattis. Its almost always dal or paneer,so a Paneer Burji is what I’m posting today esp for the Side Dish Event , hosted by Viki’s Kitchen…and I’m excitedly waiting for the round-up so I can expand my repertoire of side-dishes.

side dish-paneer burji
This is similar to scrambled eggs and tastes just as good.
Paneer – 1 cup crumbled
Onions – ½ cup chopped finely
Tomatoes – ½ cup chopped
Ginger – 1” piece chopped
Green chili – 1, chopped
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – one pinch
Chili powder – ½ tsp
Oil and salt

Preparation:

• .
• Heat oil in a deep bottomed pan; add the cumin seeds, chopped onions and the ginger garlic paste fry till brown.
• Add the chillies and tomatoes and fry till they are soft and pulpy.
• Add turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and little water so that all the masalas are well combined.
• Add crumbled paneer and fry for 5 minutes till the paneer blends into the masala.
• Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot.

Lentil Shepherds Pie

Lentil Shepherd's Pie
I make this wholesome dish very often at home. Firstly, because it’s sort of an all-in-all, a main dish in itself. Secondly it’s also very nutritious. Thirdly it’s a very flexible recipe. I add whatever veggies I have in hand. One can also substitute chicken or mutton in place of the lentils, add other vegetables, paneer….anything to suit your palate. Its a wholesome comfort food….

Ingredients

To be pressure cooked
1 cup brown lentils (sabot masoor)
1 tbsp oil
1 inch piece ginger
3 cups water
Salt to taste

Filling
1 cup sliced onions
2 carrots chopped
1 cup mushrooms
½ cup peas (boiled peas)
200 grams tomatoes pureed coarsely
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
3-4 celery sticks sliced
3 tbsp olive oil

Topping
5 potatoes boiled, peeled and mashed finely
40 grams butter
4 tbsp hot milk
2 tbsp fresh cream
3 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

Method

Cook the lentils in stock or water till tender. If using pressure cooker give 1 whistle and simmer for 12 minutes.

Mash the boiled potatoes with the butter, milk and cream to get creamy mashed potatoes. Season this with pepper and salt to taste. Mix in the chopped coriander leaves.

Sauté the onions, celery, carrots and peas with a small amount of olive oil until almost tender. If you think it is taking too long to cook, add a bit of water and cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until carrots are tender.

Now add in the mushroom and cook 3 minutes or so. Add the lentils and the pureed tomatoes and the herbs. Cook for just a few minutes and season with Soya sauce, salt and pepper.

Spread this pie evenly filling the bottom of a greased oven-proof dish.

Cover the mixture with the mashed potatoes, leveling the potatoes with a knife. Ripple or score the potatoes with a fork in a decorative design.

Make designs with a fork like this...

Bake at 200 C for 30-40 minutes until top is golden brown.

I’m reposting this recipe for the My Love affair with Legumes-Fifteenth Helping Event. Its being hosted by Sia whose blog Monsoon Spice is nothing short of brilliant!The brain behind this healthy event is Susan.

MLLA15Logo375

Fish Lasagna

Checking out Italian food joints is an ongoing pastime for M and I. In fact one of the first places my husband and I went out to dinner here in Goa was the wonderful Little Italy. It was such a lovely experience that I think of it even now, some 9 years later. However I wouldn’t dare go back to the place now with my kids. They’d probably break down the place and make it unforgettable for me for reasons I dread to even think of. I think kids need to be taken out to restaurants and places like that from an early age. That way they get used to it and learn to behave there.
That way they get used to it and learn to behave there.
Sadly, in my case since we spend a lot of time at my parents in Cochin we always had the option of leaving the kids at home. And take that option, we certainly did!!

But now we are on our own in Goa and my kids behave like crazy lunatics when they go out. We ALWAYS return from what we hoped would be a nice-quiet-family-dinner, exhausted and wondering how we manage to keep our sanity ( i think!) in spite of all this. Well to cut a long story short (its quite long already isn’t it?)last weekend we agreed not to go anywhere .We stayed home and watched a really really bad movie (hangover) and I decided to try my hand at lasagna. By the way, it’s actually debatable whether insanity is preferable to having to sit through hangover, but whatever!

Since I did not have any chicken at home but instead had loads of fish stocked up in the freezer, this is a fish version of the chicken lasagna.

fish lasagna

Fish Lasagna

75 grams mushrooms
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 tbsp chopped oregano
400 grams chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper according to taste
450 grams fish fillet
9-12 sheets pre-cooked lasagna sheets

For the topping

1 egg, beaten
125 grams paneer/cottage cheese
150 ml yogurt
50 grams grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 190 C. wipe the mushrooms, trim the stalks and chop. Heat the oil, add the onions and fry until soft.

Stir the mushrooms, oregano and the chopped tomatoes with their juice.

Blend the tomato puree with 1 tbsp of water. Stir into the pan and add the salt and pepper.

Bring the sauce to boil, and then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Cut the fish into cubes (remove as many of the bones as you can). Add the fish cubes into the tomato sauce mixture, stir gently and take off heat.

Cover the base of an ovenproof dish with 2-3 sheets of lasagna verde. Top with half the fish mixture. Repeat the layers finishing with the lasagna sheets.

To make the topping, mix together the beaten egg, cottage cheese and yogurt. Pour over lasagna and sprinkle with cheese.

Cook the lasagna in the preheated oven for 40-0 minutes or until topping is golden brown and bubbling.

Serve immediately.

Of Spain and Tapas

I often think of the weekend trip I took to Spain with a good friend. It was fantastic. The architecture, the people,the cuisine..ooh the cuisine. It was divine to say the least.

Good food, socializing and conversation are an inherent part of the Spanish experience and we thoroughly enjoyed our visits to various bars in Spain where we
never encountered a dull moment. One classic dish served in bars all over Spain and which I absolutely love is the TAPAS.

Tapas have their origin ingrained into the history of Spain where the story goes that people put pieces of bread over their glass of sherry to keep the dust and flies out. This bread was often topped with ham, sausage or cheese and eventually these pieces of bread-snacks gained popularity and the rest, as they say, is history. According to another legend the credit for the origin of this popular snack goes to Castile’s king the wise Alfonso X. Apparently he owed his recovery from an illness to eating small snacks alongside his drink.But whatever the story the fact remains that tapas are delicious , economical and wholesome food. Any food is susceptible of becoming a tapa and there are innumerable varieties of this simple flexible dish- Boquerones en Escabeche, Patatas bravas, boquerones en vinagre, gallinejas, entresijos, mollejas and callos amongst other limitless varieties and combinations.

These mini-meals may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or warm (such as puntillitas( fried baby squid).Today I have prepared the common, yet deliciously spicy “Patatas Bravas” or Fierce Potatoes as they are so often and rightly known as. This tomato sauce based recipe is simple ,quick and flexible. You can easily adjust the quantity of chilli according to your taste and even convert these lip-smaking miniature morsels into a whole meal.

Ingredients

FOR THE SAUCE

3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion , chopped
3 garlic cloves , chopped
240 g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
¼ tsp chilli powder
Sugar a pinch
chopped fresh parsley , to garnish
FOR THE POTATOEScut into even cubes evenly
2 tbsp olive oil

Preparation and cooking times
Prep 30 35 mins

In a saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft.. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, chilli powder, sugar and salt and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer for 15 minutes until soft and pulpy.
Keep this aside.

The Potatoes

Toss the potatoes with the seasoning. Roll the potatoes in the oil until well coated, Place in a roasting tin and roast in a preheated oven at 180 C for 1 hour or until crisp and golden. Alternatively you may also fry the potatoes in olive oil until crisp. I chose the baking method for obvious reasons.

Assemble

Mix the potatoes with the sauce immediately before serving to ensure that the potatoes retain their crispness. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve warm.

Enjoy with white wine.
Blazing Hot Wok

I am submitting this recipe in my maiden entry to the Regional Recipes Event hosted by blazinghotwok.

An Evening in Panjim

Panjim- Vibrant Facets

Panjim- Vibrant Facets

Goa is really a lovely place to live in. My husbands work requires him to move every once in a while so he has traveled extensively in India. I, on the other hand have seen very little of my beautiful country. My dad worked with a company that required him to travel to various countries and we happily followed him around. It has only been post-marriage that I have come to see how spectacularly diverse, colourful, exuberant, exciting and loud our country is. Take Goa for instance. Anyone who has traveled here will vouch for the fact that it has its own distinct appeal. I for one am in love with the place and cant think of a better place to settle down in. Its for that very reason that we recently bought a small apartment in Goa. So last weekend we went to check it out. We also had some odd jobs to do in panjim. Panjim, the capital of Goa is a sort of shopping haven to us Vasco-da-Gama residents. It’s about 1 hr drive from where we live, but it’s always fun to visit Panjim.

To say that Panjim is really glorious is stating the obvious. The city is captivating, with its Portuguese architectural heritage and its narrow winding roads, the white-washed churches, and its fine location at the mouth of the broad Mandovi River. The river front is a lovely, green-shaded road that is best explored at leisure, enjoying the colourful buildings and many character-laden eat-outs in Panjim.

We got home pretty late, which meant that we missed the Independence-Day ball being held at our club. We however made up for it by catching up on much needed sleep after a simple, yet stunning dinner of Prawns and Pasta in Tomato sauce.I got this recipe from here.

450g tomatoes
200g pasta, you can use any kind that is on hand
3 teaspoons oil
About 20 medium sized prawns, peeled and deveined
2 spring onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup white wine
Salt & pepper
1/3 cup cream
2 teaspoons finely shredded fresh basil and dill, and extra whole leaves for decoration
Grated Parmesan cheese
Pasta

Cook pasta in plenty of water and a little salt, or according to directions on packet.

Remove cores from tomatoes and place tomatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for 10-15 seconds, or until skin starts to lift. Remove from saucepan and place in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Peel off the skin and chop.

Fry the prawns in little oil until almost cooked (it will change colour).Keep aside.

Add the chopped spring onions and garlic to the pan with remaining oil and cook for 1-2 minutes, without browning. Add chopped tomato, wine and salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes until tomato is soft.

Add cream, dill and basil. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Puree this tomato mixture in a blender and return to the pan. Now add the almost cooked prawns.

Simmer until prawns are cooked through and sauce has thickened. Add cooked pasta to pan and stir to combine.

prawn&pasta in tomato sauce
Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Sizzling Rain

rain drops

That’s exactly what we decided to do. Sizzle in the rain.

Actually it was more of an experiment.We were unpacking our bbq grill after almost 5 years (it’s a miracle it was still useable). It was packed up in Goa when we were moving to Cochin 5 years back, and well it was time to go charcoal shopping again. An added motivation was brilliant barbecues that I had recently received.

Although it was been raining lightly in Goa the last few days we decided to go ahead with or BBQ plans and since we have a pretty large balcony and a covered portion as well , the rains couldn’t play spoilsport.

M and I pondered for hours on which recipe to try and we finally narrowed down to Caribbean marinade and buffalo chilli chicken. The Caribbean marinade was a bit too bland for my taste but the buffalo chilli chicken was “Yum-o!”. The charcoal we got was however not of great quality, perhaps the pieces were too big, and whatever the reason, it took AGES to heat up. And since my husband doesn’t drink alcoholic based drinks it was left to me to finish off the remaining beer. I passed the rest of the evening between having conversations with the marinated chicken and frequent trips to the loo!!!

on the grill

Barbecues that use coal generally take 45 minutes to heat. When the red glow has disappeared and what one sees is a thick coating of gray- That is the ideal temperature for slow cooking. In fact, the meaning of barbecue is, to slow cook. It is thought that the barbecue originated in America during the late 1800’s. When less than great cuts of meat were fed to the cowboys they tenderized this meat by several hours cooking. Although it is thought that the barbecue originated in America this isn’t true n and to this day it is thought that no body actually knows who invented the barbecue. The word itself might come from the word barbacoa which is a Taino Indian word which means meat smoking equipment. In fact its origin could even go back to the Stone Age when man had no equipment to cook with, just a stone, and a man-made fire and a freshly killed animal. Whatever the occasion or origin a barbecue is undisputedly a great way of cooking food and to indulge in the outdoors.

Experts aver that marinating times can be anywhere between 15 minutes and 2 days. As a general rule, the longer you marinate the more tender and flavoursome the food will be. Although food marinates faster at room temperature than in the refrigerator, I usually allow a longer marinating time in the refrigerator to ensure that the food remains safe to eat.

Buffalo chilli chicken

1 kg skinned chicken pieces
3 spring onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 ½ cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup beer
1 ½ tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce or according to taste.
Score the pieces of chicken at 2 cm intervals and set aside.

In a shallow dish mix the spring onions, crushed garlic, tomato sauce, beer, vinegar, honey and Tabasco sauce. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

Once barbecue is heated and ready for cooking, drain the chicken and place on lightly oiled barbecue grill. Baste frequently with the reserved marinade, and turn the chicken several times, for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through.Enjoy with Garlic Bread.
barbecued chicken

Note: The coking times for the chicken will depend on the size of the pieces. If you have a variety of sizes, place the larger , longer cooking pieces such as drumsticks and thighs on the barbecue first and cook for 5 minutes, before adding the smaller quicker cooking pieces such as wings and breasts.

Burger- Indian Ishtyle

Burger

“It requires a certain kind of mind to see beauty in a hamburger bun.”

There are few things that really do it for me like the good ol burger. Considering that it does involve a certain bit of work, I know that it does sound a bit strange. But once all the work is done and the burger assembled, enjoying in sitting in my terrace with a thick shake on the side is definitely the stuff dreams are made of. Sigh! The joy of a wholesome burger is just something else, delicious, all the way around. So here goes my Indian version ….makes 10-12.

First you need to prepare the potato filling or the ‘tikkis’.

Ingredients:

Potatoes – 2 large, boiled & peeled
2 slices white bread
Dried Fenugreek Leaves – 1 Tbsp (Kasoori Methi)
Roasted Peanuts – 2 Tbsp, coarsely crushed
Onion – 1/4 medium, finely chopped
Green Chilies – to taste, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Roasted Cumin Powder – 1/2 tsp
Chaat Masala – 1 tsp
Dried Mango Powder – 1/4 tsp
Bread Crumbs – as needed for coating tikkis
Oil – for pan frying

Method:

Boil, peel and mash the potatoes.

Chop bread slices finely in a food processor, to make crumbs. They should not be ground to a paste. Slightly ‘rough texture’ of ingredients adds to the taste.

Add the Bread, Onions, Peanuts, Green Chilies and Dried Fenugreek Leaves to the potatoes. Mix to blend.

Add the Salt, Chaat Masala, Roasted Cumin Powder and Dried Mango Powder. Mix once again.

Apply a little Oil to your hands and take a portion of the potato mixture into your hands. Roll it into a ball and flatten it out gently. Make it slightly bigger so that it will be only slightly smaller than the burger bun.

Pour out some bread crumbs on a flat plate and dip and roll the ‘tikkis’ to coat completely.

Heat 2-3 tbs. of oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan. I use a non-stick pan, and fry 2-3 tikkies at a time, on medium heat, until nicely brown and crisp on both sides. You may need to add more oil for subsequent batches. They can be cooked up to this stage in advance.

Other requirements:

Grate the following into fine long strips-

Carrot -1,
Cabbage- 1,
Cucumber- 1

Tomato Rings
Onions rings
Salad leaves
Butter, Mayonnaise and cheese spread, as per requirement

Now to assemble the burger, split each bun. On one side spread a little butter and top with a bit of the grated veggies. Place a tomato slice and then the tikki. Over this place the salad leaf. Now on the other side of the bun, apply equally the cheese spread and mayo. Close and press the bun gently. Secure with a toothpick. Repeat for the remaining buns…..

Enjoy with fries or onion rings and a shake. BLISS!

The Scream

1893_Edvard Munch The ScreamI often wonder if Munch painted ‘The Scream’ after witnessing the plight of a mother. I’m pretty sure that’s what inspired him. The last week was crazy, to say the least. Birthdays, dinners, kids rebelling; at one point I though I was doing all this for a reality show! I mean, it just had to be that. I dropped my son off at his squash class came home, had some essential grocery shopping to do which was basically a grab-and-run foray into the market. Got back, went to pick and drop off my son at his taekwando class. I then had to take my by-now-wailing miserably younger son to the park and then finally pick up my older son. Just when I thought the ordeal was at its end my car broke down. CAN YOU IMAGINE!!!i walked back in a daze, waiting for the director to say CUT any moment now. The traumatic cumulative day rendered me too sweaty and exhausted and emotionally fragile to properly make enjoy the dinner I had prepared but the unanimous verdict was that it was GREAT! Anyway here’s how I made the simple but appetizing Pasta with tomato sauce.
Make and Go - Pasta
Pasta (any kind) 2 big cups
Tomatoes- 5 grind coarsely
Big onions- 2 chopped finely
Garlic- 4 cloves, crushed
Sugar 1 tsp
Spices and herbs- basil, oregano and chilli flakes
Any seasoning mix, I used taco seasoning mix.
Grated cheese- ¼ cup
Butter 2 tbsp, softened

Cook the pasta in enough water as per packing instructions. Drain and keep aside. In a saucepan, heat the butter and sauté the onions and garlic. Add the sugar and fry a bit longer until it browns a bit. Now add the ground tomatoes, the spices and the seasoning mix. Fry it well and add most of the grated cheese. Mix once more and then add the pasta. Stir well to coat the pasta and garnish with tomato sauce or cheese spread. Add remaining grated cheese and bake at 180 C for 8 minutes or until cheese melts.

Vegetable Medley with Creamy Spinach

Veggie Medley in a Creamy Spinach Sauce

“Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he’s buying.”
Fran Lebowitz

Doesn’t that sound most profound? Certainly does to me! My oldest son is super fussy. I do insist he eats whatever is served to him but he definitely doesn’t give in without a fight. Right on top of his most-hated-foods is, as with most kids his age, spinach. He also manages to include most vegetables in that ever-growing list. Therefore I prepared and served the following dish well prepared for a fight. Boy! was I in for a surprise. He actually liked it! Thank god for small mercies!!!!
I came across this recipe in a friends old cookbook and it manages to include various types of veggies AND spinach and STILL taste good enough for these fuss-pots. Tremendous, don’t you think?

Vegetable Medley with Creamy Spinach
3 cups mixed vegetables (capsicum, carrots, beans, green peas, potatoes, cauliflower)
2 onions sliced
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

White Sauce
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1 cup milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Spinach paste

2 cups spinach
½ cup cream
½ cup grated cheese

Cook the assorted vegetables and keep aside. Make sure they are not over cooked.

In a sauce pan heat the butter. Add the sliced onions and fry till translucent. Add the vegetables and continue to sauté for a minute or so. Put in the salt and pepper and keep aside.

Now for the spinach paste- wash and clean spinach under lots of running water. Cook until dry. When it is cool puree it in a blender.

To make the white sauce- heat the butter in a skillet, the flour and mix well for about 2 minutes. Add the milk and stir until well blended and thick in consistency. Throw in the salt and pepper and set aside.

To assemble simply beat the cream lightly and add the white sauce and spinach to it. Mix the vegetables. Add more seasoning if required. Garnish with the grated cheese. Pour the mixture into a prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot with garlic/plain bread.

Lentil Shepherds Pie

Lentil Shepherd's Pie
I make this wholesome dish very often at home. Firstly, because it’s sort of an all-in-all, a main dish in itself. Secondly it’s also very nutritious. Thirdly it’s a very flexible recipe. I add whatever veggies I have in hand. One can also substitute chicken or mutton in place of the lentils, add other vegetables, paneer….anything to suit your palate. It sure is a great comfort food.

Ingredients

To be pressure cooked
1 cup brown lentils (sabot masoor)
1 tbsp oil
1 inch piece ginger
3 cups water
Salt to taste

Filling
1 cup sliced onions
2 carrots chopped
1 cup mushrooms
½ cup peas (boiled peas)
200 grams tomatoes pureed coarsely
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
3-4 celery sticks sliced
3 tbsp olive oil

Topping
5 potatoes boiled, peeled and mashed finely
40 grams butter
4 tbsp hot milk
2 tbsp fresh cream
3 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

Method

Cook the lentils in stock or water till tender. If using pressure cooker give 1 whistle and simmer for 12 minutes.

Mash the boiled potatoes with the butter, milk and cream to get creamy mashed potatoes. Season this with pepper and salt to taste. Mix in the chopped coriander leaves.

Sauté the onions, celery, carrots and peas with a small amount of olive oil until almost tender. If you think it is taking too long to cook, add a bit of water and cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until carrots are tender.

Now add in the mushroom and cook 3 minutes or so. Add the lentils and the pureed tomatoes and the herbs. Cook for just a few minutes and season with Soya sauce, salt and pepper.

Spread this pie evenly filling the bottom of a greased oven-proof dish.

Cover the mixture with the mashed potatoes, leveling the potatoes with a knife. Ripple or score the potatoes with a fork in a decorative design.

Make designs with a fork like this...

Bake at 200 C for 30-40 minutes until top is golden brown.

I am also including this recipe for the AWED – BRITAIN event being hosted by Bombay foodies and DK

Mushroom Quiche

Mushroom Quiche

Mushroom Quiche

I just love anything with mushrooms in it. They are such a treat to eat. Its not often that we get good mushrooms here. Hence whenever my husband goes to the main town area, and also has time on hand ( although the twain rarely do meet) buying a packet or two of mushrooms is definitely on the agenda. The problem with mushrooms is that it doesn’t seem prudent to store them a few days ( I think). So every time we buy them we prepare something that very day.

Well this time around I decided to prepare a mushroom quiche. I used asha khatau’s recipe for the pastry base. But the filling was my own. Not to blow my own trumpet but it was rather good!

For the pastry Crust

¼ cup chilled butter
1 ¼ cup plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ cup grated cheese(if required)
3 tbsp cold water( approx)

Sift together the baking powder and the flour. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the cheese.

Next add the water and knead lightly to form a firm dough. Cover this using cling film or a wet muslin cloth and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. You can prepare this SHORTCRUST PASTRY even 2 days ahead and store in the refrigerator.

Roll out the short crust pastry dough into a quarter-inch thick round and line a nine-inch round baking flan tin with it. The round should be slightly bigger than the tin. Press the mixture well to cover the base and the sides too. The base should be well leveled. Trim the edges.

Prick with a fork all over, to avoid the crust from puffing up during baking.

Bake the quiche crusts in a hot oven (200 C) for about 10-15 minutes, until light golden yellow. Allow to cool

For the filling

225 grams fresh button mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tbsp lemon juice
Pepper powder, as desired
1 tbsp coriander leaves chopped finely
2 eggs
¾ cup fresh cream
¼ cup grated processed cheese

Heat the oil and the butter together in a pan. Stir in the mushrooms, crushed garlic and the lemon juice. Fry well until water begins to evaporate and it becomes dry. Add the salt and pepper and add in the chopped coriander leaves. Take off heat.

Whisk the eggs and cream together and stir in the mushroom mixture. Spoon the mushroom mixture into the cooled quiche crust and level it. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake in a preheated oven (200 C) for about 30 minutes or until puffed up and golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Makes 1 nine-inch quiche

Chilli Chicken -From Foodies Hope

chilly chicken

Challenges Galore…..

It’s been a really difficult 2 weeks. Fruitful, but difficult.
FINALLY got a bigger house- THAT was the good part. The moving was the challenge, especially with two brats in tow. Moving the furniture, ensuring that the crockery got to the new house intact, getting the kitchen running. Unpacking clothes- a million of them. It’s a miracle I got through all of this alive…and sane, at least as sane( or insane) as I was earlier. Anyway everything is now reaching a sate of normalcy. Halleluiah!

In the midst of all this chaos also managed to prepare a dish for the TRIED AND TASTED event hosted by ZLAMUSHKA’S and this months guest hostedBY ASHWINI’S SPICY CUISINE

by ashwinis spicy cuisine. We had to try out a recipe from asha’s foodies hope —- it has some fabulous and a really huge array of options to try from. I, however, due to lack of time, only managed to try the chilly chicken. This is my entry. My chicken-crazy family loved the outcome. Its nice a an accompaniment, but I felt it would be awesomely delish as a chicken filling for maybe quechhedas or chapattis or even your good-ol-sandwitch.

Ingredients

2 Cups diced chicken (I de-boned and cut them lengthwise)
1 cup sliced onions
1 cup capsicum
3 tomatoes, sliced
2 tsp ginger, cut into strips
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp chilly powder
½ tsp garam masala
Salt to taste

In a pan heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add the sliced onions and the capsicum and stir fry until reddish. Add the chicken and continue frying until opaque.

Stir in the tomatoes and throw in a bit of water (I used chicken stock) as well. 5 tablespoons should suffice. Turn down the heat to medium and cover. Let it simmer until the chicken is cooked. If required you can add some more water.

Now open the lid, add the spices and fry till almost dry. Serve with lemon wedges, onions (sprinkle salt on them, keep aside for 5 min , then squeeze out the water) and naan.

Pasta n Sausage

Pasta and Sausages

Pasta and Sausages


Pasta makes for a favorite family meal for all of us, any day of the week. All of us love the delicious blend of cheeses, herbs and tomatoes wrapped in fun-to-eat pasta. Gave my cook the day off yesterday and decided to make dinner myself. Although I really enjoy baking, cooking on a day-to-day basis is definitely not on the top of my list of fav things to do. I do however enjoy cooking and feeding my family on weekends.

I come from a family of great cooks. My mother is sort of legendry for her lavish dinners and my sister has been cooking since she was a baby (well, It certainly seems that way!) . My dad too is a cook par excellence; we used to wait for the dinners he used to prepare for us,concorting recipes that tasted and looked so yumm.. His family too is known for their cooking (and eating) abilities.

It therefore was a matter of great bewilderment to everyone that I refused to even enter the kitchen when I was younger. Even being married to someone who enjoys eating did not motivate me enough to try my hand at cooking. But the last couple of years have been different. My husband introduced me to baking and my mother in law gifted me a lovely cooking range (all in the hope that I would finally take the plunge). Well, what do I say, it worked. Now baking is sort of an obsession with me, something I truly enjoy.
I was always the one who can’t cook

Anyway, coming back to the point, dinner was courtesy me yesterday and I chose to make sausages and pasta, and a coconut chocolate pudding for dessert.
I used barilla’s Tortellini pasta which my sister so lovingly sent me. It was absolutely lip smacking and along with the sausages it made the meal perfect.

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp Olive oil
200 grams sausage (diced)
¼ tsp crushed and dried red pepper flakes
½ cup onions, chopped finely
11/2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tomatoes( chopped or if you wish puree coarsely)
¾ cup whipping cream
Salt to taste
200 grams pasta
Grated cheese

METHOD

Heat oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan.

Add the diced sausages and cook until no longer pink. Stir continuously or they will stick to the bottom. This should take about 5-6 minutes.

Next, add the garlic and onions and cook until the onions are tender.

Now add the tomatoes, cream and salt.

Simmer until the mixture thickens, around 4 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water cook the pasta. This should take 12 minutes or so depending on the variety of the pasta. Check the instructions on the pack. Drain.

Add the pasta to the tomato-sausage mixture and let it thicken. Don’t forget to stir occasionally.

Serve with butter or extra virgin olive oil and grated cheese.

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