Saturday, 25 October 2008

Ghee Rice (Neychor)

This is an easy Malabar festive food that’s made especially when guests come home with quick notice or even for a variety when there are parties at home. The trick in making this ghee rice lays mainly on the water and fire adjustment. Once these both are done properly, the rice should come out perfect. The rice is very fragrant with the whole garam masala and the clarified butter really boosts up the flavour of this dish.

This was one of the dishes that used to make in the budding stage of my cooking. And the first recipe in my old recipe book that I lost long ago. I remember the first time I made this, the rice came out caky I don’t remember why it happened so, may be I added too much of water. You could literally cut the ghee rice into slices. I prepared this for my husband (SEK) during the first visit to UK and I was still a student. SEK used to ask me frequently to learn at least few recipes from my mom as she is an excellent cook. I never bothered to. All I thought was I would write the recipe down, and follow as such and anything any everything will come out perfect. I never even cooked once before that first visit to SEK. First time when I landed here I took the recipe book to kitchen, started making ghee rice as that was the easiest at that time. I added onions with exact measure given by my mom and started to sauté it in low flame. After around 15 minutes, I started wondering how long the onions will take to get cooked because I remember my mom finishing the dish itself by half an hour! And I dint know how they will look once they are cooked. I waited for some more time and confused what to do, called my husband and asked him “Are the onions getting cooked or are they already cooked?” .SEK was surprised and he told me that was why I asked you to try it out from there before coming.

I had visited him quite few times during my studies before settling with him completely. And I think it s almost the same story every time I visit him. Apart from the ghee rice, I also had one signature curry at that time. Either it was chicken, mutton or prawns; it all had the same masala (Chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric) and the same taste. And another funny incident I still remember is that; at that time where SEK was under my brutal culinary experiments, one day I had prepared the chicken curry and the next day I made prawns. SEK asked me did u put prawns in yesterday’s chicken curry, as both taste exactly the same. :) It was only when I started living with him (July 2007) I started to take a bit of interest in cooking…A discovery of different ingredients and cuisines from across the world…..Cooking is not that simple… Ghee rice (Neychor)
Serves 8

4 cups Basmati rice
8 cups water
1 cup onion sliced (1 medium size onion)
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 cardamom pods
6-8 cloves
6-8 small pieces of cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
½ cup clarified butter (Ghee)
salt to taste

1. Wash rice and strain of all the water by placing the rice in colander.
2. Boil water in the kettle or a large cooking vessel.
3. In a large pan, set the heat on to high and ghee. When the ghee gets hot add onions and sauté until the onions just starts turning pink. At this stage add cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon and cumin seeds and sauté for a minute until the aroma of the spices starts coming out. At this stage add boiling water and salt to this.
4. Tip in the rice slowly and cook on high heat by keeping the lid open. At this stage you can see that rice lies in the bottom of the vessel and water is on top.
5. When you see that the rice has come on top and water has gone below, reduce the flame to low, and cook it covered until all the rice is cooked eventually. In between you can toss the bottom part of rice and bring to top so that the rice gets cooked evenly.

Serve hot with chicken curry/mutton curry, raita , pappadam and pickle. And whenever there is neychor at home, chicken fry is always there.

1. Never wait until the onions get brown or golden as this will change the colour of rice completely.
2.Always ccok in hig flame until u see all the rice has come on top and water has gone down but still the rice is not cooked. At this stage lower the flame and cook until done.
3. You can also add 4-6 curry leaves along with the boiling water for extra taste and aroma.
4. For smaller quantity, just use half the amount of ingredients.

Orange Cake

After the great success of my lemon cake I thought I will give another go with the orange cake again. Yes, I have been trying to bake orange cake for sometime now. In fact I tried baking the orange cake twice before and it was an absolute failure and pledged that I would never try them again. I followed the same procedure and same recipe twice also exactly. I don’t really know where it went wrong as I did what was exactly shown. The name of the cake was ‘Delicate orange cake’. But when I baked it, it came out so hard that if somebody would get a hit with it, they might see million stars. I baked it after watching a cookery show on TV and was quite sad when it turned out bad for the second time and threw out the whole stuff. But again I think, cooking is all about trial and error. Keep trying and finally you will do it right. And the feeling when you get it right is very soothing.

Few days back again, I saw another orange cake being baked on the tv cookery show. I felt very tempted again. Few days after watching that show I baked the orange cake by mixing few recipes and finally the orange cake hit the goal. This is the first time that it came out good, Gosh. I was very pleased with the outcome. Orange cake is a very good alternative to plain cake with a light zesty smell and orange flavour. The cake is very light and soft and so I think it will be delicious even without the syrup and it will last for few days in the refrigerator. It tastes best at room temperature rather than warm. This cake was quite huge than expected since it gets good volume by whisking the eggs and sugar.

Orange cake
Serves 12- 14

250 gm plain flour
300 gm granulatedSugar
200 gm unsalted butter
2 tbs orange zest
4 large eggs
2 level tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
200 mls freshly squeezed orange juice+ 2 tbs sugar
2 tbsful icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Butter and flour the sides of a 9” cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

2.Melt the butter gently in a saucepan and set aside.

3. Using a hand-held electric beater, whisk together the eggs, grated orange zest and sugar for a few minutes until light and slightly fluffy. Stir in the melted butter and sift in the flour and baking powder and salt. Fold it all together gently.

4. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the surface and bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until golden or when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
5. Remove the cake from the tin and place it on a cake stand or separate dish.

6. Prick the cake all over throughout the bottom using a skewer. Stir in the 2 tbs of sugar in the orange juice and Pour it all over the cake while still hot.

7. Let the cake cool down completely. Sift icing sugar on top generously and serve in slices with tea or coffee.

TIPS and notes:
1. While adding flour to cake batter never over mix as this will result in heavy cake and like bread rather than spongy and light cake.
2. Use the correct measures.
3. Use the right oven temperature. Don’t use high temperature to bake cake as outer part will get brown quickly and inside will remain uncooked.
4. Instead of sprinkling the Icing sugar on top, u can also use orange icing to spread on top.
Use freshly squeezed orange juice for pouring on top. Don’t use store bought orange juice as the taste is very different. Don’t Use the blender for juicing orange as it turns out bitter after sometime. Recipe Source : Rachel Allen:Bake.
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