26 February 2007

Knock-knock! Someone's at the door….

…. And that's me.:) I've been blog hopping, if that's a word. Reading recipes of fellow bloggers and trying them out within the confines of my tiny kitchen. Not too difficult when someone else has painstakingly tried and tested the recipe to perfection and blogged a step-by-step pictorial presentation of the same. Sometimes I add my own twist to the recipe, sometimes it's cooked per se and sometimes I take pictures. Did you read "sometimes"?! Yeah, my endeavours turned out well and the dishes were gobbled up before I could reach for my camera….!

So here are those delicious treats which deserve a thumbs-up, my small way of telling all you wonderful cooks, YOU ROCK!!!!

Tandoori Vegetables from Coffee's Khazana of recipes. Tried and tested over and again. Recently made it with bell peppers, onions and chicken, this recipe is for keeps!

Vazha Chundu Cutlets from My Treasure, My Pleasure. Annita came up with a wonderful idea of using banana flowers in cutlets. Nope, didn't tell what the cutlets were made from until they were wiped clean!! Too bad, I don't have a picture…

Hara bhara kebabs from Seema's Recipe Junction. I added green peas which is the only variation to the recipe. A good way to have greens. Did I hear someone say 'loaded with fats'… Munched away watching the Dubai Open Tennis, photos totally forgotten!

Spanakopita from Porcini Chronicles. Hey, now I know some Greek cuisine! The tastebuds loved it! Now I have to hide in shame, I didn't take pictures of this either!

19 February 2007

Very Berry Strawberry

The deep red color of strawberries can brighten up both the taste and aesthetics of any meal. Strawberries have higher levels of vitamin C, fiber, folate and potassium than most other fruits like bananas, apples and even oranges. Source:whfoods
Ever since Maheshwari announced "Strawberries" as the Fruit of the month, I've been trying various permutations and combinations with strawberries – jam, sauce, soup (yes, you read that right!), mocktails, shakes, sandwiches, cake…. Finally I decided to send in my entry for Strawberry Icecream. (Recipe source: Veena Kapoor)

For the Basic Icecream you need:
½ litre whole milk
3 tbsp + 1 tsp milk powder
1 tbsp + 1 tsp GMS powder
1/8 tsp CMC powder
7 tbsp sugar
1 tsp liquid glucose

Boil the milk. Remove ½ cup of milk and add milk powder, GMS, CMC and sugar and churn well. Add this to the remaining milk. Add the liquid glucose and oil the milk mixture for 5 minutes. Cool the milk stirring continuously. Pour it into a container with an air tight lid and freeze till set.
Note: Ice crystals should not form. The container must be air tight.

For the strawberry flavour:
1 cup heaped strawberry chopped
2-3 tbsp sugar – adjust according to sweetness of the berries
A drop of strawberry/rose essence

Cook the berries for 2-3 minutes with sugar, mashing continuously. Take the basic icecream from the freezer and cut into small pieces. Add ½ cup cream and churn till soft and fluffy. Add the berries and essence and churn for a minute. Pour into the container, cover tightly and freeze till set.

16 February 2007

Hot and Sour Soup

I prefer to cook simple and quick to make food and I'm quite satisfied if the end result is tasty. Long laborious recipes make me nervous and most certainly I'd be tired by the time I got around to eating what I cooked. Whenever I plan a dinner, I decide the menu – it would on most occasions be tried and tested recipes, and before I step into the kitchen, I mentally rehearse in what order I'm going to prepare them. Yeah, thats the most important part - the rehersal! Am I quirky?? Maybe I am. :) Which is why I planned a fairly hassle free dinner the other day. It's easier to make more items if the procedure is simple or can be done in advance. Continuing with the Chinese recipes, here's the hot and sour soup. A warm soup, perfect for a cold day, or anytime if you love this kind of cuisine!

You'll need 1 tbsp each of chopped carrots, chopped mushroom, bean sprouts, 1 tsp chopped celery stalk, 1 tbsp vinegar, 6 cups of vegetable stalk, 1 tsp red chilli paste, salt, pepper, ajinomoto, soya sauce, cornflour, spring onion greens. Blanch the carrots and mushrooms. Boil the vegetable stock. Add the vegetables, red chilli paste, salt, pepper, ajinomoto, soya sauce and spring onions. Add the cornflour mixed in a little water to thicken it. Cook for a minute and serve hot.

15 February 2007

Schezwan sauce

For the first time in my life I celebrated Valentine's Day!!! In all the years I've known V and the two years we've been married, I don't remember celebrating this day. V'days usually passed by like any other regular day. Contrary to my previous post, I'm a big cynic when it comes to Valentine's Day! Too commercial, and well, any day can be special, isn't it? But what if something can be done to bring a change into our otherwise drab lives……? Ah, now that thought clicked! And all you blog buddies inspired me to churn out a nice warm dinner for V day! After mulling over various ideas, I finalized the menu.

What was on the menu on Valentine's Day? Indianised Chinese !!! So for all those Indo-Chinese cuisine lovers, here's what I cooked ….. Hot and sour soup, Spring rolls with Schezwan sauce, Shrimp Schezwan Rice, Chilli Chicken gravy and for dessert there was Honey noodles with vanilla icecream and Chocolate-strawberry cakes with Strawberry icecream. And guess what, both of us being complete foodies, enjoyed every bit of the dinner!!!

Will keep posting all these recipes one by one. I have not used ajinomoto or colour in my recipes. Here's the first for schezwan sauce :

Finely chop 2 tbsp each of ginger, garlic, onions and celery stalk. Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions for a minute. Then add ginger, garlic, celery stalk and 2-3 tbsp red chilli paste and stir fry for another minute. Add salt, pepper, ajinomoto(optional), 1 ½ cups of tomato ketchup and colour(optional) and cook for 2 minutes.

12 February 2007

Carrot Halva

Can winters be complete without the carrot halva?
The moment you set your eyes on the lovely long red carrots you have to make this! I made this twice over the last month. Most of you probably know to make it, so I'll just run thru the method I follow.

Grate the red carrots (about 1 ½ kgs) and discard the white centre part – you can reserve that to make veg stock. Heat a cup of ghee in a thick bottomed pan and add the carrots. Mix well so that the ghee coats the carrots well. Add a handful of cashews, almonds and pistas. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the milk sufficient to cover all the carrot. Let it cook on low flame till done – takes about 1 ½ hours. Add sugar, cardamom powder and mix well. Take off the fire and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

7 February 2007

Mushroom Mutter Paneer

Mushroom is a fungus, we learnt in school - how can you eat fungus, I asked my mushroom-loving hubby. I enjoy it, he replied. I'm still to figure out what attracts him to mushrooms! All the same I use mushrooms in various dishes. Commonly believed to have little nutritional value, many varieties of mushrooms are high in fibre and protein, provide various vitamins, and minerals like iron, selenium, potassium and phosphorus. Mushrooms are also being researched for medicinal properties. For more on mushrooms, read here.

For mushroom, mutter paneer you need:

8-10 mushrooms chopped
½ cup onion sautéed and ground to a paste
1 cup boiled green peas
100 gm paneer lightly sautéed
½ tbsp ginger paste
½ tbsp garlic paste
½ cup tomato puree
3 tbsp curd
Whole garam masalas – bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns
3 tbsp milk
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
½ tsp jeera powder
Red chilli powder and salt as per taste

Heat ghee/oil in a pan. Add whole garam masalas and sauté. Add onions, ginger- garlic paste and fry to a golden colour. Add the tomato puree, curds, salt and spices and fry till the oil separates. Add the mushrooms and peas and fry for 5 minutes. Add milk , paneer and 2 cups of water and cook till the vegetables are done. Adjust the consistency as per your liking. Serve hot with palak puris, rotis or naans.

2 February 2007

Tiramisu Valentine

Going through my collection of recipes, I stumbled upon a "Date flavoured Tiramisu" recipe in an old copy of the Epicurean. I made a mental note to try it out sometime in the future. I had this recipe for a chocolate cake that I decided to bake. After making the batter I realized that my cake dish was too big and the batter too little! What resulted was a flattish cake!! So I ditched the idea of icing the cake and put it away in the fridge. I was not to be put down by this flop show. "Better convert it into something fancy ", my alter ego told me. My mind raced for ideas……. Of course, it was right there! The date flavoured tiramisu!!:) That evening I bought the ingredients required for the tiramisu. When I got home, hubby called to say he'd return really late from work. How about surprising hubby with a nice dessert, I wondered….I decided to bring my own touch to the recipe, so here's what I did…

For the chocolate sauce:
This is my addition…
¾ cup milk
1 spoon cocoa powder
3 spoons sugar
1 spoon cornflour
1 spoon cream/butter

Combine the milk, cocoa powder and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. There must be no lumps in it. Add the cream/butter and simmer. Mix cornflour in watermilk at room temperature and add to the sauce. Stir well and allow it to simmer till it reaches a slightly thick consistency.

For the date paste:
As per the original recipe
250 gm water
50 gm sugar
125 gm dates deseeded
Boil the above ingredients together for approximately 20 minutes and blend until smooth.

For the Tiramisu:
Original recipe modified by me
25 gm egg yolks
30 gm sugar
10gm water
125 gm Mascarpone cheese
125 gm whipped cream
60 gm lady finger biscuits (now I didn’t know where to find these, so I cut up my cake and used it!! :)

Beat the egg yolks till fluffy. Boil sugar and water. Pour the boiling water to the beaten egg yolk and continue beating till the mixture cools down. Add the mascarpone cheese slowly and beat it in. Add the whipped cream.

Coffee syrup:
Make one cup coffee/espresso with water, sugar and granulated coffee. Soak the cake in this.

To serve:
Pipe/spoon the chocolate sauce into 4 martini glasses (use any transparent serving dish). Now add a layer of date paste. Place the coffee-soaked cake over this. Pipe the tiramisu mixture on top of this. Again place the cake, then pipe the chocolate sauce and date paste, then the tiramisu over this. Alternate until the glass is full and finish with the tiramisu on the top. Dust with cocoa powder.
It's February and as love is in the air... I've christened my dessert "Tiramisu Valentine".
Ah, now off this goes to Meeta's Monthly Mingle #7: Sweet Love!.

1 February 2007


Pinnis are prepared in winter by Punjabis for the festival of Lohri. Pinnis are very nutritious, or so they say, since they are full of the goodness of ghee and dry fruits. Pinnis generally keep well for a week or two at the most but it is better if they are consumed soon. The recipe below is for large scale preparation of pinnis. As I was making them for the first time, I only made a small quantity, keeping the proportion of the ingredients the same. The original recipe called for 400 gm mava and 3 kopra/dry coconuts grated, both of which I omitted as I don't like kopra. Though it was my first try at it, we have already polished off an entire box of pinnis!!

1 kg wheat flour
¾ kg ghee
1 kg sugar
¼ kg slivered almonds and pistachios
100 gm gondh
¼ cup milk
Cardamom powder

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a saucepan and add the gondh – it will expand. In another pan, heat the remaining ghee on low flame. Add the wheat flour to it spoon by spoon stirring continuously. Keep roasting till pink and aromatic. Add the gondh and mix well. Now mix in the gondh, pistachios, almonds, sugar and cardamom powder. Turn off the heat and make the pinnis when it is still hot. Take a small portion of the mixture, sprinkle a few drops of milk on it and make into a ball, then elongate it by pressing your wrist. Do the same till the entire mixture is used up. Store in airtight boxes.