Monday, 27 October 2008

Chocolate Coated Brazil nuts

I don’t really know how I came up with making these chocolate coated Brazil nuts. That particular day I had bad craving for sweets and all I could see was some cooking chocolates in the cabinet that I bought in bulk the other day when there was a huge price drop. Since the chocolate was 72% cocoa containing dark chocolate, it was bitter rather than sweet. These chocolates will make an excellent frosting for cakes or a ganache. Then I started thinking of making something out of it that as easy as 1-2-3 and requires minimum amount of time. First I thought of making chocolate mousse, but again the thought of whipping up the egg made me lazy. Then I spotted some brazil nuts in the same cup-board and suddenly it clicked me to make my favourite chocolate, i.e. Chocolate coated Brazil nuts. I normally buy milk chocolate coated Brazil nuts to which I’m very much addicted to. Once I start eating them, somebody has to handcuff me to stop eating them. I used to have a bag of these chocolates containing around 24-26 chocolates. Ya, it was SEK who counted them one day. One day when we were going to London for our visa purpose, I grabbed a bag of Brazil chocolates and slipped it into my pocket so that I can eat them all the way to London which was 2 hour train journey. SEK saw me putting something into my pocket and asked me what it was. I told him it was Brazil nut chocolates. Knowing me very well and my chocolate greediness, he told me not to eat more than 2 pieces from it. I told him that’s too less. He then miserly increased the number to 4. I told him I am not going to stop by eating 4 and that’s too less. He then started counting the chocolates and warned me not to eat more than 4.

We then set off for London and I started nibbling on chocolate very slowly like a toothless child. When I had around four of them, SEK grabbed the bag and kept it in his hand. And after sometime he slept off with the bag of chocolate loosely held in his hand. I slowly started twisting my two fingers into the bag to get hold on another piece and started munching it. Later when SEK was in deep sleep, I took the bag from him slowly and kept on munching the whole journey. SEK had completely forgotten about the chocolates by then. When we reached home, SEK asked me, “Where is the chocolate bag?”. I replied by saying “You had taken it from the train and you dint give it back” and I just smiled. SEK out of astonishment asked me “You ate them all, didn’t you?!....Yes, I had a bag of chocolates in half a day. After that day, I purposely avoid getting them. I find it that addictive!
Chocolate Coated Brazil nuts
Serves : Depends on the person.
Ingredients: (Appx)
75 gm Milk chocolate
10-15 brazil nuts.
1. Break chocolate into small pieces. Microwave them for few seconds until the chocolate is completely melted. This doesn’t take very long. But if kept for longer time, chocolate will get burnt. Chocolate can also be melted by Bain Marie method.
2. Add Brazil nuts to this chocolate one at a time and roll over until all sides are coated with chocolate. Pick it up with a fork and place it on a baking paper. Continue with the rest of the nuts and pour the remaining melted chocolate on the nuts slowly.

3. Place the chocolates in freezer for around 10 minutes or until the chocolate is completely set. Peel off the chocolates from the baking paper and Start munching.

1. If you are using dark chocolate add 1 tbs of icing sugar along with chocolate while melting it.

2. If you dont have baking paper, lighly oil an aluminium foil and place chocolates on them.

Thalassery Mutton Dum Biryani

Biryani is the most common festive dish in Kerala Muslim society. Apart from that many will be familiar with this exotic dish by hearing from somewhere and somehow. I remember my mom saying that during past, that is quite long ago; during the time of my parents wedding, the main course used to be Ghee rice along with chicken curry in the afternoon and some home made snacks in the morning. I don’t remember the names of snack that my mom mentioned, but I will update on that once I get to talk to her about it. Until 6-7 years back, Biryani used to be the only main course for any Muslim wedding accompanied by Alisa, raita, pickles and if it goes a bit more posh, chicken fry as well. Nowadays the marriages are even getting more lavish with many varieties of food apart from Biryani and Alisa including Naan, battura, fried rice, different curries, like chicken chilly, mutton Korma, vegetable korma etc, salads, fruits and not to be missed- different kinds of desserts like the ever famous muttamaala that is made of Duck eggs with a steamed pudding made mainly of egg whites and sugar and then strands of egg yolks cooked in sugar syrup sprinkled on top of it., Ilaneer pudding, semiya payasam and many others. The only thing you need to have while attending the wedding these days is an extra tummy or starving the day before the wedding to at least taste everything.

Again, the taste of Biryani differs from home to home. I have had Biryani from different relatives of mine and each time I have them, they have a different taste. This is my mom’s version of Mutton Dum Biryani and it tastes real good. Chicken Biryani can also be prepared in the same way.

Thalassery Mutton Dum BiryaniServes 6-8 hungry people

For Ghee rice:4 cups Basmati rice
6 cups water
1 cup onion sliced (1 medium size onion)
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 cardamom pods
6-8 cloves
5-6 small pieces of cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
½ cup clarified butter (Ghee)
Salt to taste

For Biryani masala:
1 ¼ kg of mutton
4 cups chopped onion (4 medium-large onions)
3 ½ tbsful freshly crushed garlic (15 cloves)
3 tbs freshly crushed ginger (4")
1 ½ cup chopped tomatoes (4 medium size tomatoes)
10-15 Green chillies (depending on pungency)
1 tsp pepper powder
½ cup Chopped Coriander leaves
¼ cup Fresh mint leaves chopped
2 tsp lime juice
2 tbs curd
½ tsp garam masala + extra to sprinkle on rice while layering.
Oil – 3-4 tbs
Salt as required

Step by step guide to prepare Dum Biryani:Method to prepare Biryani masala:

1. Wash mutton well, pat dry with a kitchen towel and keep aside.

2. Add ginger, garlic and chillies together in the processor and crush it well.

3. Slice and chop onions into further small pieces.

4. Heat a Large vessel and add oil. Sauté chopped ginger, garlic, chillies and onions along with salt until the onions become translucent.

5. Add chopped tomatoes. When the tomatoes starts to soften, add mutton, pepper powder and cook until almost done. This can be pressure cooked as well. After the mutton is cooked, if there is lot of gravy in the pot, make sure you boil them off to get a thick gravy.

6. Add lime juice and chopped coriander and mint leaves. When the meat is completely cooked, Add curd and stir well. Don’t boil. Add garam masala and close lid to infuse in the flavour.

Method to prepare Ghee rice:
1. Wash rice and strain off all the excess water by placing the rice in colander.

2. Boil water in the kettle or a large cooking vessel.

3. In another large pan, set the heat on to high and add 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. Add the required amount of boiling water and salt to this.

4. Tip in the rice slowly and cook on high heat by keeping the lid open. When almost all the water has evaporated (you must be able to see the bottom of the pan with no water ), close the lid tightly and let it cook for around 6-10 minutes depending on the rice, or may be more. In between you can toss the bottom part of rice and bring to top so that the rice gets cooked evenly. Once the rice is completely cooked, fluff it using a fork or a large spatula carefully without breaking up the rice. While the rice is still hot, do the assembling.

For layering the biryani and final cooking:
1. Divide the rice in three parts and Biriyani masala in 2 parts.

2. Take a large heavy base vessel and rub it with oil or ghee. Layer the bottom of the vessel with the first part of the rice. Sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala all over and pour first part of biryani masala along with meat all over the rice. Tip in the second part of rice and sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala all over again. Pour the second part of Biryani masala on top of the rice and put the last part of rice and sprinkle all over with garam masala again. So now you have layers of rice and masala that’s goes like this: rice, Biryani masala, rice, Biryani masala and again rice.

3. Cover the entire vessel with foil (to ensure that full steam stays in), then close the lid tightly. Place a weight (you can also use any vessel filled with water for this) over this vessels and cook on hob top for about 20 minutes at very low heat. This is to infuse the flavour of the biryani masala into the rice and this process of cooking is called ‘Dum’. At this point of time u can see that all rice on top has curved up.

4. You can also do the layering in an ovenproof vessel and place it in a preheated oven at a very low temperature for about 20-30 minutes for the final cooking. I never tried this, but my friends do it this way.
Just before serving, garnish with fried onions, cashews and raisins. Enjoy with Cucumber Raita, tomato and onion salad, Coconut chutney, pickle and pappadams!

Important Notes and tips:
For Biryani:
Always remember: Cook Biryani masala before cooking rice. Never cook rice before masala. You can always prepare the Biryani masala a day ahead and later on use it whenever you need them also.

For Biryani masala:
The most important thing to be noted is that there should be only minimal water in the Biryani masala. The masala should be quite thick. Else during dum, the rice will absorb so much of water and will be over cooked and mushy. Since the mutton and onions release lot of water by the end of cooking, there will be lot of moisture in the masala. Turn the heat up and dry off the excess water until you get thick gravy. Take care to stir in between else it might get burnt.

For Ghee rice:
1. Never wait until the onions get brown or golden as this will change the colour of rice completely. You will get a golden rice rather than usual white.

2. Flame adjustment is very necessary while cooking rice. Keep the flame/heat high 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. If you carefully notice, you can see that I have used less water for ghee rice for Biryani than the normal ghee rice. Since Biryani masala will be having some moisture, the rice will absorb it evenly. If you use more water than stated, again, the rice will go soggy.
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