Friday, 27 February 2009

Vegetable Korma

Vegetable Korma also read as vegetable Kuruma is a simple and aromatic vegetable curry to go with your rotis, breads etc and is ideal curry for a vegetarian dinner. I know the ingredient list is quite long. Myself, I wouldn’t feel like making a recipe that has lot of ingredients. But believe me, the recipe is easy and the ingredients are all the regular and everyday used spices that will already be there in your pantry. Instead of using all the vegetables that I mentioned here, you can just use the vegetables that are available in your refrigerator. I have even made this korma with just potato and carrot and it was wonderful.

1 cup Green peas (I used frozen ones)
1.5 cup Cauliflower (cut into small florets)
8-10 pieces French beans (cut into 1 cm long)
1 cup Carrot (cut into small cubes)
1 cup Potato (cut into small cubes)
2 cups Water
2-3 tbsp coconut Oil
½ tsp fennel seeds (പെരുംജീരകം)
2 Cardamoms
4 cloves
Small piece of cinnamon stick
1-2 bay leaves
2 Green chillies (slit into long pieces)
1"Ginger (grated)
2 pods Garlic (grated)
1 cup Onion chopped
½ tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Chilly powder
1½ tsp Coriander powder Salt - As reqd
1 cup Thick coconut milk (From freshly grated coconut)
¼ tsp Garam masala
¼ cups Coriander leaves (Chopped) + extra for garnishing.
Preparation:1. Cook green peas, carrot and potato along with salt and water till it is half cooked. Add cauliflower and beans and cook for few more minutes until all vegetables are almost cooked.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add fennel seeds. When they start to splutter, add bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. After few seconds, add garlic, ginger & green chillies and sauté for a while until the raw smell goes off.
3. When it is done, add onions and fry till golden.
4. Add all the powders and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add a dash of water if it starts to stick to the pan.
5. Add all the cooked vegetables and chopped coriander to this and boil for a minute or two.
6. Pour coconut milk and when it starts bubbling, switch off the flame.
7. Sprinkle garam masala powder and garnish with coriander leaves.Best served with Chapattis, poori, bread, khubz (Arabic bread).
The recipe is adapted from here.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Fried Rice (Serves 3)

It is amazing how different the foods of different cultures are. Isn’t it? The smell, the taste, the texture, the method of preparation and even the way of eating them. There is a bunch of restaurants and hotels and many other food places just across the street that I live. Just walking in front of those restaurants, you can assume which restaurants they are…Chinese, Indian, Italian, Turkish etc even without reading the board on top. The aromatic smell of the spices that comes from Indian restaurants and take-aways, smell of the dishes prepared by blending different sauces from the Chinese restaurants, smell of dishes using wide range of herbs from Italian restaurants etc are really appetizing. Like the restaurants, it’s the same at my home too. Since there is no window in my kitchen, the aroma of the dish just perfumes the whole house (which I hate actually) which smells like the restaurants. And the smell varies depending on the dish that I prepare. The house will occupy the smell of the Chinese restaurants if I prepare something Chinese, like my favourite Fried rice and chilli chicken, and an Indian smell if I prepare some thing Indian. Apart from the incredible smell, the cuisines from different culture have their own distinct taste and character and styles of preparing them. To Master the cooking techniques of different culture is like mastering an art. Or should I say cooking itself is an art?

Well, in this post I’m sharing with you my family’s favourite recipe for the mixed fried rice. The recipe is quite versatile in a way that it can be turned out to a completely vegetarian and vegan meal by taking off the prawns and egg from the recipe and not altering the taste much. You can even add the vegetables of your choice like bean sprouts, baby corn, corn kernals etc.You can add cooked and shredded chicken for a different flavour if you wish. But prawns with vegetable are my favourite. The prawns gives a very distinct flavour for the rice. I have heard many times on TV that it is always best to use the leftover cold rice for preparing fried rice. DON’T use warm or hot rice for cooking else the rice is going to be mushy. So the rice should be completely cooled before adding to the vegetables.

1½ cup Basmati rice
6 pieces French Beans cut into a cm length
1 Medium Carrot cut into small cubes
½ Medium Capsicum cut into small cubes
¼ cupGreen peas
1 medium Onion (Chopped)
2 cloves Garlic (Chopped)
1 tsp Black Pepper powder (for rice)
1 tbs Soy sauce
4 Spring onion stalks (chopped into thin round slices)
1 Egg
A handful of shrimps
Salt and pepper to season
1 tsp sesame oil+2 tbs vegetable oil (for frying vegetables) plus extra oil for scrambling egg and frying shrimps.

Preparation:1. Bring plenty of water to boil in a large sauce pan. Add salt and rice and cook the rice UNCOVERED until just soft. You can add a teaspoon of oil (if required) while cooking rice to prevent rice from sticking to each other.
2. Drain the rice in a colander and run cold water to prevent rice from further cooking. It is important that the rice should be cooled well.
3. Heat a frying pan, add a dash of oil and scramble the eggs. Keep them aside.
4. In the same pan add some more oil and fry the shrimps by adding salt and a pinch of pepper. Reserve them for later use.
5. Heat a large wok or a sauce pan until smoking hot and add a teaspoon of sesame oil and 3 tbs vegetable oil. Add the Sliced onions and garlic and sauté just until they are soft. Don’t burn. Add carrot and stir fry until it is almost cooked. Add the beans, peas and capsicum and stir fry until all the vegetables are just cooked. Don’t over cook them.
6. Add rice along with 1 tbs soy sauce, 1 teaspoon pepper powder, chopped scallions (spring onions), Scrambled egg and the fried prawns and stir for further 2-3 minutes until the rice is heated up and mixed well with other ingredients. Serve warm with any Chinese curry dish.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Biscuit and Cream Layered Dessert with Caramel Topping

This creamy, rich and elegant dessert is my family’s favourite dessert and it’s the easiest anyone can ever make or think of. The best part about this dessert is that no cooking or heating is involved. The only hard part is the whipping time that takes for whisking the whole mixture. This particular dessert is made at home every time somebody feels like having a dessert no matter it’s a party or just a normal day. The recipe can be doubled or tripled as per requirement.

1 packet Ulker biscuits
2 Sachet Dream whip(Whip cream powder)
2 small cans- Chilled evaporated milk (I used Rainbow milk)
1 packet Caramel dessert mix(use the caramel for topping only)
1 tsp Vanilla essence
Milk as required (to dip the biscuits)

1. Dip the biscuits in milk and layer it in a clear glass dish. Make 2-3 layers. Here, the biscuit should be a bit soaky.
2. Keep it in refrigerator.
3. Meanwhile, whisk up caramel dessert mix (only powder and not the caramel liquid) along with dreamwhip and rainbow milk until you get a thick mousse like mixture. And to make it thick, you need to whip for very long time in medium speed.(appx 20-25 minutes). It is important to note that you CANNOT use a juicer or blender to whisk up the mixture. Use a hand whisk (Egg beater) for this.
4. Add in vanilla extract at the end and whisk for a couple of minutes. Pour this over the biscuit mixture and chill for about 3-4 hours.
5. Serve in slices and drizzle caramel on top or even chocolate shavings. You can also drizzle chocolate cream.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Dutch Apple Cake

Apple is one the fruits that nobody at my home eats. If it has to be eaten I should just modify them into a fruit salad, a milk shake or anything else. I remember, my dad used to bring quite a lot of apples in the beginning of Ramadan and the many will be left behind even at the end of Ramadan. It’s the same in here as well. My husband bought few apples couple of weeks back and not even one was eaten. Since it was a bit tangy even my little son did not eat it. So I prepared this cake to get rid of the few apples that I had in the fridge for a while. The cake is very soft and moist with a mild cinnamon flavour that blends well with the apples and keeps well in an airtight container for a few days.It is great to have a slice with a cuppa tea or coffee.

2 Large Eggs
175g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
85 gm butter
75 ml Milk
125 g plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp Baking powder
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
75ml double cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Line the sides and base of a 20 x 20cm square cake tin with parchment paper. I used a 9” baking tin.
2. Using an electric whisk, whisk the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until the mixture is thick and mousse-like and the whisk leaves a figure of eight pattern (this will take about 5 minutes).i.e. the mixture should reach a stage where you will be able to draw 8 with the mixture using the whisk!
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the milk, then pour onto the eggs, whisking all the time. Sift in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder and fold carefully into the batter so that there are no lumps of flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
4. Arrange the apple slices over the batter. (They will sink to the bottom.) Sprinkle over a tablespoon of sugar and bake in the oven for ten minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/gas 4 and bake for a further 25-30 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.
5. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. Cut into squares or wedges and serve warm with cream.
Adapted from Rachel Allen, Bake (Collins)

The baking time purely depends on the oven and the tins used for baking. The best method to check the doneness is to insert a toothpick or a clean knife right in the centre of the cake. If the toothpick or knife comes out clean with no crumbs on it, then the cake is cooked well. Don’t cook the cake beyond the cooking time because the cake will go dry. For this cake, I checked 2-3 times for doneness after it reached 20 minutes. So you would really know when it is ready.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Strawberry Milkshake

Here is a delicious drink for a healthy start of the day. Smoothies are best to serve the guests as soon as they arrive home tired and this is one of the favourites.

5-6 medium Strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup Cold milk
3-4 tsp Sugar (Or as required)

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth and frothy. Serve with a couple of crushed ice if desired.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Pola (Palappam)

Pola is one of the favourite breakfasts of kerala. It is also known as palappam or vattayappam in many parts. I remember, I first had pola when I was a little child back in UAE. It was brought to us by one of our relatives when he returned back from India. Until recently I thought it was my mom who made it and I asked her for the recipe. She then told me that it was not made by her and in fact she never made them. I then started searching for the recipe and mixed up quite a few recipes to get my version that tasted exactly like the one I had when I was young.

2 cups long grain rice (pachari)
1½ cups cooked rice
2 cups freshly grated coconut
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp dry active yeast
4 tbs semolina
¾ cup water
2¼ - 2½ cups water
¾ - 1 tsp salt (appx)

1. Soak the long grain rice in water for at least 2 hours.
2. In a separate bowl, add ¾ cup of boiled water in semolina and stir well to avoid lumps. Using a wire whisk to stir makes it easier. Let it cool.
3. Grind rice and cooked rice along with the rest of water until the rice is ground well.
4. Add coconut and yeast and grind well again.
5. Pour the ground mixture in a large bowl and add semolina and stir well until it is well combined.
6. Add sugar and salt and mix well and keep in warm place to rise for about 8 hours or overnight.
7. Oil a small bowl and pour in a ladleful or a couple of ladles of the batter and steam it for about 10-15 minutes in medium heat until it is cooked. Cool for 15-20 minutes before taking the pola from the bowl. Pola will be sticky when hot. Alternatively, you can spread a small piece of cling film or a plastic sheet over the bowl, then spread oil on it and steam it until the batter is cooked. When done just lift up the cling film and tip the pola in a plate.
8. Serve warm with sweet stew that is made with mashed banana,milk and sugar.
9. The left over Pola can be stored in refrigerator in a closed container and can be reheated in a microwave or even steamer before serving.

1. Sometimes, when the climate is cold, the batter doesn’t get raised easily. What I used to do is, I keep the bowl of batter over another bowl containing very hot water (straight from kettle) making sure that the bowl containing batter doesn’t touch the water at all. The steam will provide enough heat and the batter will get fermented as usual.

Kabuli channa masala

This curry is delicious with battura. It also pairs well with chappathi, puri etc. This dish is adapted from pachakarani of Mrs. B.F.Varugese.

Ingredients:1 cup Dry chickpeas
1 cup Chopped tomatoes
2 cups chopped onion
6 Garlic pods,grated
1 tbs Grated ginger
2 Green chillies
3 cups Water
¼ tspSoda bicarbonate
To grind:1 tbs Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tbs Coriander powder
½ tsp Turmeric powder
1 tbs Couscous
½ tsp Fennel seeds
½ tsp Cumin seeds
To garnishCoriander leaves

1. Soak the peas for 12 hours. Drain.
2. Cook the channa along with tomatoes, garlic, ginger, soda bicarbonate, 1 cup onion and 3 cups water until the channa is cooked well and is soft.
3. Meanwhile, grind all the ingredients under the title ‘to grind’ with touch of water to a smooth paste.
4. Heat another pan add little oil and sauté other cup of onion until it starts to brown. Add the ground spices until the raw smell goes off. Make sure the spices doesn’t get burnt. If it does, add a dash of water and cook. Grind this onion and spice mixture. and return it to the saucepan.
5. Add to this salt and cooked channa and boil for few minutes till the gravy is thick.
6. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with battura,puris, chapppatti or even Arabic bread khubz.

Battura (Batura)

Battura is a famous Indian fried bread made of all purpose flour or maida. It goes well with almost any Indian curry but it is well known for its pairing with chole or the Chickpea curry . It looks somewhat like the Indian bread poori, but it tastes quite different. The method and the ingredients are quite different as well. For poori, we normally use wheat flour, but for battura we use all purpose flour. I have tried many versions of battura from here and there and this is the best one and Myself and my family love this. I got this recipe from vahchef . It is a video demo and I followed as such.

Here's the recipe:
2 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
2½ tbs semolina
2tbs curd

1. Mix all the dry ingredients well.
2. Add enough water to curd to make ¾ cup of the liquid. (I used a measuring jar to do this).Mix well and add this curd + water mixture into the dry ingredients and knead well to make tight dough. Keep it covered in a warm place for atleast 2 hours.
3. Make lemon size balls out of the dough and roll it into thin discs and deep fry in oil in medium flame. Drop the flattened dough into the hot oil and push it down several times as soon as it rises until it puffs up completely. Flip it over until you get light golden colour all over.You can make 12 battura with this amount and is will serve 3 people.
4. Serve hot with Kabuli Channa masala or any other curries. I tried it the other day with the chettinad chicken curry and it was absolutely delicious.
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