Thursday, June 22, 2017

Masur Dal With Roselle Leaves

Masur dal with roselle leaves

In the garden of my childhood, one small portion was set aside for the roselle plant. The tart leaves usually went into dal and with the red fruit. I remember my mother making jelly. And so beautiful it was with the red so vibrant. Since the plants were always in our backyard, during its season, roselle was treated like any other locally available greens. I was surprised to see it termed as one of the super foods by Rujuta Diwekar, India's leading nutritionist, in her book Indian Super Foods.
Rich in folic acid and iron, it also helps in stimulating the stomach and cleans the intestines. During the rainy season, leaves are a breeding ground for micro-organisms. However, the roselle remains unaffected and it makes it safe for us to consume it. I remember once my help refused to have cooked vegetable fern during this season. He told me that certain leaves are not eaten during the rainy season because leeches lay eggs on them. Yikes!
In my mother tongue, we call it theklou. In Assamese, it's tengamora. Ambadi in Maharashtra and gongura in Andhra. The list goes on. In fact one of the most famous roselle dishes must be 'gongura pachadi'.

Dal with roselle leaves:
1/3 cup masur dal
Water as needed
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
One bunch roselle leaves. washed and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 dry red chillies, snapped off in the middle
A quarter tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp mustard oil
You can add more spices here if you want. But I kept it simple and it was still good!

Wash and soak the dal for about 10 minutes.
Put dal and water in a pressure cooker. I used my smallest cooker. 
Add turmeric powder and salt.
Cook till one whistle goes off.
Let the steam go off.
In a pan, heat the oil. When it comes to smoking point, throw in the cumin seeds and the chillies. 
Remove the chillies if you like. They can be added again later,
Add the onions and fry till they turn golden brown.
Add the chopped roselle leaves and cook for a couple of minutes.
Pour the hot dal into the pan and cook for another 2 minutes or so.
Switch off the flame and transfer the dal to a serving bowl.
This goes well with rice and one or two more accompaniments.


Some of the leaves will be added to fish curry but the other day, I used some tender ones in mint chutney. Mint chutney needs a souring agent and we usually use lemon juice or tamarind pulp or tender mangoes (when in season) but using roselle is another option. What do you say?
Other roselle posts on my blog:

Roselle Chutney
Life Would Be Bland Without Chutney

Thank you so much for stopping by today.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mango Panna

Mango panna

One of the most refreshing drinks to beat the heat is this drink made from unripe green mangoes. It's almost the end of the season for green mangoes and the markets are already getting flooded with ripe ones. A vegetable vendor came selling mangoes and a whole lot of leafy greens yesterday and the first thought that came to my mind was, aam panna. The mangoes were about to ripen which is why the drink looks more yellow than pale green. 

Ingredients:
4 unripe mangoes
Rock salt/kala namak
Toasted and powdered cumin seeds
Sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Plenty of mint
Ice cubes
Mango panna
You can use regular ice cubes but I wanted to infuse more flavour in the drink. So I ground a bunch of mint and added some water, pepper, toasted and powdered cumin and rock salt, This mixture went into an ice tray to be turned into minty ice cubes.

Method:
Wash and cook the mangoes with very little water in a pressure cooker. I used a small cooker and waited till the third whistle.
After the steam goes off, take the cooked mangoes out, discard the water and let them cool down.
Once cooled, peel off the skin and take out the pulp. Discard the seeds.
Place the pulp in a blender and blend till smooth.
Transfer the pureed mango to a large bowl/jug and add the sugar (I used sugar syrup that I had in the fridge), salt, cumin powder, pepper powder.
I have not mentioned the quantity of these ingredients as it's to do with personal preferences. For the sweetener, you could use honey or jaggery also.
At this point you could add water and serve in individual glasses or store in the fridge so that the mix is ready and the drink can be made by adding water as and when required. I made mine thick so four mangoes (medium-sized) produced only six glasses of juice.
Add the ice cubes and enjoy! Add more fresh mint if you like.
Mango panna

The minty flavourful ice cubes took the drink to another level. And when the ice melted, the drink took a greenish tinge, more like the colour that we are accustomed to when we think about 'aam panna'.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Purslane Pancakes With Tomato & Apple Chutney

Purslane pancakes

It's that time of the year when weeds thrive in the garden. And some are edible. Like the common purslane/Portulaca oleracea. And because they are acidic, only a small amount is needed, whether they are added to other vegetables or to dal. Purslane is said to contain more Omega 3 acid than any other leafy vegetable. It is also rich in antioxidants. The only caution needed to be taken is that because of its high presence of oxalic acid, people who are already suffering from kidney stones should avoid it.

This image that I had used in one of my purslane posts earlier sums up this season. The sunset bells have started to bloom and this is when the edible weeds sprout in nooks and crannies with its many-stemmed and succulent leaves. Because of its mucilaginous quality, it is used in soups and stews. Sometimes when I get help in weeding I usually ask my helper about how they eat/cook commonly available food. Most of them have the same answer...added to dal and other vegetables.
Other purslane posts on my blog.
Fish & Purslane Fritters
Purslane & Corn Salad
Surfing the internet for more purslane recipes, I came across these pancakes here. I made my own adjustments.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
A small bunch of purslane, washed and chopped
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
Dash of pepper
Salt to taste
Water as needed
Pinch of baking soda
Vegetable oil to fry
Purslane

Method:
I mixed the egg and milk together. In another bowl I mixed flour with baking soda, pepper and salt. Then water was added and mixed. When no lumpy bits remained, this was added to the milk/egg mixture. To this, the chopped purslane was added.
This was beaten well and fried in a non-stick pan. I used a ring mould for the pancakes to hold their shape. When one side was done, it was flipped over and cooked till done.
From this batter, I got four mini pancakes.
To go with the pancakes I made a hot and sweet chutney. I could have used chillies in the pancakes but since the chutney was intended to be hot, I only added a bit of black pepper to the batter.
This is like the regular chutney that is popular in our part of the country. I added an apple to make it slightly different.
Tomato & Apple Chutney

3 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and sliced
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped and drizzled in a bit of lemon juice
10-15 raisins, soaked in warm water
7-8 dates, pitted and sliced
A few cashew nuts
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Demerara sugar as per taste
2 tbs mustard oil
1/2 tsp panch puran

Heat the oil in a pan and when it comes to smoking point, throw in the panch puran.
Add the chopped apples and tomatoes and continue to cook.
Add the chilli powder and turmeric,
Cook till the apples are soft and the tomatoes turn mushy.
Then add the dates and raisins.
Add the sugar and cook till it melts. That's when the chutney will look good.:)
Add the nuts, give it a good stir and remove from the flame. Transfer to a serving dish.
Optional: Toasted and ground cumin and coriander powder can be added. Another souring agent like tamarind pulp, dried roselle, or more lemon juice can be added.
The lemon juice I used to drizzle the apples was good enough for me. The balance of sweet and sour was taken care of.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Jackfruit Rendang

Jackfruit rendang

One of the best curries in the world is, no doubt, rendang. I have used chicken, pork and mutton on separate occasions for this dish. But yesterday I used unripe jackfruit for rendang.
Ingredients:
700 grams jackfruit
1 star anise
1-2 tejpatta
1 stick cinnamon broken into two (I had to make do with cinnamon powder as I realized I had run out of cinnamon sticks)
10 dried chillies, soaked
4 medium onions, peeled and sliced
3 cm piece galangal, chopped
1 lemon grass stalk, finely chopped
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
7-8 garlic cloves
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tender turmeric leaf
6-7 lime leaves
2 tbs curry powder (I used a mix of toasted and ground cumin and coriander)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coarsely grated pepper
2 tsp thick soya sauce
Salt to taste
1 tsp brown sugar
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves
1 tbs tamarind pulp
3 cups water
Half a cup of dried coconut
1 cup thick coconut milk (This was freshly squeezed from 1 coconut)

With jackfruit, cutting it is a little messy. I prefer to use a banana leaf to do the needful by placing it on my work top. It is easier to scoop up the discarded portions later. Newspapers can be used instead of banana leaves. Since the fruit oozes a gummy latex when cut, it is best to oil your hands and even your knife. The hard portion right in the middle needs to be removed and the thick rind peeled. Then the fruit is cut into bite-size pieces and boiled till half-done.

Here are some facts from Wiki. 100 grams of raw jackfruit provides about 95 calories and is a good source of antioxidant vitamin C. Jackfruit seeds are rich in protein. The fruit is also rich in vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, and iron.
Flowers on my galangal plant
Method:
  • Heat a large pan of water. Add some salt and when it starts to boil, add the cut pieces of jackfruit.
  • Cook till almost half done. Drain in a colander and set aside as you start with the spices.
  • Put the soaked chillies, ginger, galangal, lemon grass, garlic and sliced onions in a blender and grind to a paste adding the water from the soaked chillies.
  • Grate about 1/2 cup of coconut. Dry roast till brown. Grind and set aside.
  • Roll up the lime leaves and turmeric leaf and chop them fine.
  • In another pan, heat the oil and throw in the star anise, cinnamon sticks and tejpatta.
  • Add the ground spices and fry till the raw smell goes off.
  • Then add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, pepper, curry powder, nutmeg and cloves. Stir.
  • Add the boiled jackfruit and continue to cook till the vegetable is soft but not mushy and well-coated with the spices. Season with salt.
  • Add the tamarind paste and sugar for the balance.
  • Add the soya sauce and stir well.
  • Then add the coconut paste and continue to cook till done.
  • By now the dish will be homogeneous and there will be hardly any water left.
  • Add the thick coconut milk, give it a good stir and remove from the fire.
  • Before serving, scatter some chopped coriander on the dish.
There will be many variations to this dish. After all it is cooked in wide geographical region. Every time I make rendang, I feel that the spices are a bit too much. But adding coconut and coconut milk in the end balances out everything so beautifully. I like it best with rice.
Other rendang recipes on my blog:
Pork rendang
Chicken rendang

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Orange Yogurt Cake


Regular visitors to my space know that I have my limitations with cake and stick to the simplest ones. Here's another one that falls in that category. But when it comes to the taste, it's wonderful. I came across the recipe in Ariana Bundy's book, Pomegranates and Roses.
In the book, she calls it Cakeh Mamani/Grandmother's Yogurt Cake. Lemon zest is added to the mix. I have made that version too but today's post is the orange one. The power went off as soon as the cake went into the preheated oven. It came back after an hour! I thought the result would be disastrous but it was still good. Our state's erratic power supply couldn't beat the love the went into the baking of this cake!!
I made a few adaptations with the measurements.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup caster sugar
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
75 g melted butter+extra for greasing the tin (can be substituted with olive oil or safflower oil)
1 cup full fat yogurt (I strained a 400 g container of yogurt overnight to get 1 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
Grease a 9" tin with butter. I used a springform tin. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.
A slice of yogurt cake, orange zest/sugar and the tin, ready for the oven

In another bowl, whisk the sugar with the orange zest for a few seconds. This will release the oils from the zest.
Add the eggs and whisk till well-mixed.
Whisk in the butter or oil, vanilla extract and yogurt.
Fold in the flour and mix but do not overbeat.
Pour the batter in the prepared tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Take it out of the oven and leave to cool. Don't leave it for long as 'the cake will steam and become gooey'.
Flip the tin over and invert it on a cooling rack.
This is best eaten at room temperature.
Made earlier...with lemon zest
This cake is absolutely delicious! This is the third time I have made it. On two earlier occasions, I had used lemon zest. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Mango Shrikhand

Amarkhand/Mango Shrikhand

With mangoes in season, the heat and the humidity is momentarily forgiven!  I have been incorporating a lot of this 'King of Fruits' in my desserts. The most recent one was in shrikhand. This dish comes from the western part of our country and is very popular in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. It is made with hung curd and the addition of cardamom powder, saffron, sugar and nuts. Where mangoes are added, the dish is called amarkhand. My variation used layers just to make the dessert look more attractive. It's light and very delicious. This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:
400 grams plain curd, drained for about 3 hours
Ground sugar, as per taste
A pinch of cardamom powder
A pinch of saffron
2 ripe mangoes
A few pistachios and almonds, slivered

Method:
Peel the mangoes and chop them. Leave some finer pieces aside for the topping.
Add the powdered sugar to the drained curd and blend.
Transfer the curd to a bowl but leave some in the blender to be mixed with one mango.
Blend one mango with 1/2 tsp sugar and transfer to a bowl.
Blend the second mango with the addition of a bit of sugar. The second mango was darker in colour and sweeter so I used just a bit of sugar.
I wanted a lighter and darker layer in the glasses which is why I went through this process. Regular amarkhand will only need to be blended once. The curd with the mangoes.
Take three serving bowls/glasses.
Place 1 tbs of the pureed mango/curd mixture.
Place a layer of the sweetened curd.
Place another layer of mango and top that with chopped nuts, saffron and chopped mangoes. Chill for an hour before serving.

In this version I used saffron only for the topping. But it can be incorporated in the curd. In that case a teaspoonful of warm milk added to a pinch of saffron and crushed with the back of a spoon will do the needful.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Elaneer Pudding/Tender Coconut Pudding

Elaneer pudding/tender coconut pudding

I had seen recipes of this pudding on blogs but never made it. This dish comes from Kerala, the land of coconuts and is also made in certain areas of Tamil Nadu. The other day as we picked a few tender coconuts from my one and only tree, the thought of this dessert came to mind. I usually use coconut milk and the grated coconut is added to curries and cakes.
The harvest isn't as good as before but I'm glad I can still get a few coconuts from my tree. The dish I made didn't use gelatine or agar agar. This was inspired by Raks Kitchen.
Coconuts on my tree, the reduced milk and coconut water/tender pulp

Ingredients:
1 litre full fat milk
1/3 cup condensed milk
1/3 cup tender coconut pulp
1/2 cup tender coconut water
1 tsp ghee
A pinch of cardamom powder
10-15 cashew nuts
About 4 tbs thick coconut milk

Method:
Pour the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan and boil till it is reduced to half its quantity.
In my case I should have stopped a little earlier. The reduced milk was enough for three servings only.
Meanwhile chop up the pulp or put both water and pulp in a blender and grind coarsely.
Set aside a bit of the pulp for decoration.
Add the condensed milk to the reduced milk and give it a good stir.
Add the cardamom and mix well.
Let it come down to room temperature.
Add the coarsely ground mixture to the dish. Chill for a couple of hours.
Heat the ghee and fry the cashew nuts till they turn golden brown.
Divide the pudding between three serving bowls. Top with the reserved chopped pulp and scatter the fried nuts.
Take about two teaspoonfuls of thick coconut milk and pour on the surface of the dessert. The coconut milk also came from the same tree.:)

This is best served chilled. And it's best if consumed on the same day.
This is one dish I'll make again. It is so refreshing and I didn't make it really sweet. The combination of milk, a hint of sweetness, the cardamom, and the tender coconut.... is a magical combination.
There are many variations/additions to this dish. The next time I make it, I'll use more tender coconut. I had to make do with what I had at that point of time.

Thank you for stopping by today.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Date & Almond Cookies


This was a post in my draft list so it wasn't something I made recently. I haven't been very active here but on my Facebook page, I try to put in some time every single day.:)
The first time I made these cookies, I followed the recipe down to the last detail, This is from an old issue of BBC Good Food magazine.

Ingredients: 
11/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
8 tbsp, unsalted butter
3 tbsp iced water
3/4 cup pitted dates
1/3 cups almonds + extra to garnish
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of half an orange
1/2 tsp milk
2 tsp honey
The mixture
Method:
~Combine the flour and sugar. Mix well. I used a hand whisk.
Add the butter and mix till crumbly.
Drizzle the mixture with iced water.
Bring it together. Cover and chill for about 20 minutes.

~In a mixer, add the dates, almonds, the orange zest and juice. Pulse until coarsely ground.

~ Heat the oven to 170 C. Form 11/2 inch balls from the dough and flatten each into 2" discs. Place one heaped teaspoon of the filling on each. Fold in half into a semi-circle and press to flatten slightly. Repeat till the dough and filling are used up. Place each on a tray lined with a baking sheet with a distance of two inches in between.

~ Mix the milk and honey and brush over the cookies. Place one whole almond in the middle of the cookie. Press gently so that it's embedded in the dough.
Bake for about 20 minutes till golden brown.

~ Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and brush with the glaze again. Serve after  15 minutes or so.

These taste delicious with a cup of tea or coffee. When I made them for the first time (the first picture), they looked really good. But the second time (pictured above), I used my regular left-over pastry dough. Not great looks-wise but the taste was great!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Challah Bread

Challah bread
Fresh out of the oven challah
One particular bread on my mind was challah. According to Wiki, challah is a special ceremonial Jewish bread, usually braided, and eaten on Sabbath and other Jewish holidays.
Bread that has eggs, sugar and oil cannot taste anything besides delicious! With images of challah floating on cyberspace, I had to bake it. For the recipe, I checked out several sites before baking. One of my go-to sites is one that needs no introduction...The Kitchn.:)

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water
2 tsp yeast
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten + one yolk for the egg wash
4 cups flour (but another half cup must have gone in as I started kneading)
Time to divide the dough and braid 
In a large bowl add the water, yeast, vegetable oil, sugar and salt. Whisk till well-mixed. Then add the flour and bring it together.
Tip the contents on a lightly dusted surface and start kneading. I wouldn’t know anything about kneading the dough using a food processor because I do all the kneading by hand.
Knead for about 10-15 minutes.
When the dough becomes smooth and elastic, place it in the same bowl used earlier by greasing the bottom of the bowl with oil or butter.
Keep in a warm place and leave to rise till double in size.
Punch the dough gently and transfer to a floured surface. Cut into three equal sizes.
Roll the ropes lengthwise till you get even lengths.

Then start braiding. Many braided loves are done with four or six 'ropes' but I’m happy if I can do it with three.
Before the braiding gets done I always imagine that it will be a lovely braid but it’s easier said than done. Always.
Lift the braided bread on a tray lined with parchment paper.
Leave to rise for another thirty minutes.
I covered it with a large (inverted) bowl during this period.
Brush with the egg yolk (beaten) and bake in a preheated 180 C oven till golden. This will take about 30-35 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.
We had the bread for breakfast as well as a snack and I set about 10 slices aside for bread pudding. I left the crusts on as they created a pattern on the pudding. And to use home-baked bread for bread pudding is a good feeling.:)


The pudding was inspired by a TV series titled "The Incredible Spice Men" and this one has its fair share of nutmeg, cardamom, some cinnamon and saffron. The last came from my recent purchase from the saffron fields of Pampore in Kashmir.

The recipe for this pudding has been included in my earlier post. I also added some candied roses to the pudding. Here's the link:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Paneer-stuffed Potol (Pointed Gourd)


A very popular summer vegetable in our parts is the pointed gourd. Locally known as potol, it is widely used in our dishes mainly fried, in curries or stuffed with potatoes. The other day I stuffed the same with paneer and cooked it in a thick gravy of onions and tomatoes. As long as summer lasts, this will be a pretty regular feature on our tables.
Ingredients:
15 pointed gourds (choose the rounded ones where more stuffing can go)

Cut off the ends of the pointed gourds and scrape off the dark green skin. If you don't like the skin, you can peel it off but I prefer to keep it on.
With a small knife or with the handle of a teaspoon, remove the seeds and flesh from the gourds. Set aside for another dish. For a potato stuffing, the innards can be added.
Rinse the gourds and set aside.
The filling:
200 grams paneer, crumbled
10-12 almonds, chopped
15-20 raisins, washed, patted dry and roughly chopped
A dash of salt
Freshly-grated black pepper to taste
Some chopped coriander
Oil to fry the stuffed gourds.

#Place the crumbled paneer in a bowl and add the rest of the stuffing ingredients. Mix well.
#Take each prepared gourd and stuff with this filling.
# Heat enough oil in a non-stick pan. Add the stuffed vegetables and fry on a medium flame in a couple of batches. 
#Turn twice or thrice during the process until the gourds are golden on all sides. I threw in a pinch of turmeric in the oil while the gourds went in.

For the gravy:
1 large onion, peeled and grated
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and ground
1 small piece of ginger, peeled and ground
2 tomatoes, blanched and ground in the blender
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin and coriander powder
A dash of turmeric powder
1 star anise
2 tejpatta
A pinch of freshly-made garam masala powder

Heat the same oil in which the stuffed vegetables were fried.
Throw in the star anise and tejpatta.
Add the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook till the raw smell goes off.
Add the rest of the powdered spices except the garam masala. Stir and add the tomato paste.
Cook till the oil separates. Add some water. This will depend on the kind of gravy you want. Mine was very thick.
Gently add the stuffed gourds to the gravy.
Let them cook on a low flame for a few minutes.
Add the garam masala and give it a stir.
Transfer the contents to a serving bowl and scatter some chopped coriander on top.
If you like you could add some crumbled paneer too.
This goes best with rice or rotis. 

The seeds/flesh of the gourds went into a curry with cauliflower stems on another day. Went very well with rice. A little bit of the paneer stuffing was left over. And that went into a paratha for breakfast.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tomato Shorba With Saffron Focaccia


East meets west in this simple meal. One is a hearty Indian soup referred to as shorba in the northern part of our country. And the other has its origins in Italy. This year my tomato plants took a beating as our garage floor had to be raised. I usually grow my plants next to the garage as there's any other space left. Work went on while I was away and many tomato plants were destroyed. I did get some green ones and a few ripe ones but that was about it. 
So when my husband's cousin turned up bearing a bagful of ripe home-grown tomatoes, I was over the moon! The first thing that I made was a tomato tart with left-over pastry dough. Several more went into butter chicken with store-bought tandoori chicken.:)
Tamatar ka shorba:
2 cups ripe tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
1 red chilli, scored lengthwise, seeds intact
Salt to taste
Sugar for the balance
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
3-4 cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp paprika powder
1/2 tsp toasted and ground cinnamon powder
1 tejpatta
1 star anise
A few peppercorns
2 tbs vegetable oil
A quarter tsp cumin seeds

In a pressure cooker, add all the ingredients except the sugar, oil, and cumin seeds. Add a little more than a cup of water.
Let it cook for 4 whistles. I used a small pressure cooker.
After the steam goes off, open the lid. Discard the whole spices.
Blitz in a mixer. Check the seasoning and make adjustments.
Add the sugar, as per taste, and blitz again.
Transfer to a serving bowl.
Heat the vegetable oil in a pan.
Throw in the cumin seeds. Switch off the gas as soon as they sputter.
Pour this oil on the bowl of shorba.
Garnish with herbs. I used a bit of serrated coriander in this shorba.
There are quite a few variations in shorba recipes but I think this is also really good!


I came across this saffron focaccia recipe from a book by Martha Day. The dough is made in a food processor. But I knead with my hands for all the bread that I bake.
Ingredients:
Pinch of saffron strands
150 ml boiling water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp easy-blend yeast
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 small onion cut into thin slices
rosemary sprigs
Some olives
1 tbsp olive oil
Infuse the saffron in the boiling water. Leave to cool till tepid.
Place the salt, yeast, flour and olive oil in a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre and add the saffron water.
Mix till the dough comes together then tilt the contents to a work surface and knead for 10-15 minutes.
Then place the dough in a bowl, cover and let it rise till double in size.
Punch down the risen dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a thick disc.
You could roll it in other shapes too. But I used a circular ceramic pie dish. This was lightly greased. The recipe had an oval bread.
Preheat the oven to 200 C.  Press indentations in the dough.
Set aside for 25-30 minutes. 
Cover with the topping ingredients, brush lightly with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes or till the loaf sounds hollow.
Leave to cool.

This was a lovely combination. And a first for me. In kitchen gardens it's the end of the season for tomatoes. They usually last till May but the rains came early this year . I can imagine a lot of households busy making use of the last tomatoes from their gardens. As for me I still have to make some sauce and some chutney.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Chicken Leg Quarters In Fried Onion Sauce


I made this about two weeks ago. It was simply cooked but full of flavour. I'm so stuck into curried versions that I don't really try to make other variations as often as I should. (Food blogger's point of view:)). 

Ingredients:
2 chicken leg quarters
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and ground
1 small piece of ginger, peeled and ground
Salt to taste
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp chilli powder
A dash of cumin (roasted and ground)
1/2 tsp roasted and ground coriander
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
Enough vegetable oil to deep-fry the onions
A bunch of cooked spinach to serve along with this dish

Marinate the chicken with the first four ingredients for an hour.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions till they are crisp and golden brown.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper.
Let them cool then grind the lot into a paste.
In another pan, take about two tablespoons of the oil that the onions were fried in.
Add the marinated chicken and cook by turning at regular intervals for about 15-20 minutes.
Then add the pepper, chilli powder, coriander, cumin and the onion paste.
Pour a bit of water so that there's some sauce-like gravy. Cook for some more minutes till the chicken is done and the gravy is thick.
Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and pour the sauce on top.
Arrange the spinach on the sides. Decorate with herbs or edible flowers.

With the spinach, I removed the stems and used only the leaves. These were washed and cooked in a pan for a few minutes till they wilted. I added a pinch of salt and a dash of ground pepper.
The stems went into a dish of curried potatoes on another day. I also love to add the stems to dal.

I had intended to use the onions for another dish. But I changed my mind and ground them up. It worked like magic.This dish goes well with both rice or rotis.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Pie With Mulberry Jam Filling


The haul of goodies that came back with me from Kashmir included a bottle of mulberry jam. And pie was the first thing that came to my mind. What's new...you all must be thinking...A pie with the fresh fruit would have been ideal but we are talking about a fruit that spoils easily. And since I don't have them growing in my garden (although the seeds I sowed have sprouted and grown) jam isn't a bad choice.

I was happy to get this bottle of jam in a supermarket as I was looking for a particular brand of masala. It is mentioned on the label that this was introduced for the first time by JKAIDCL (Jammu & Kashmir State Agro Industries Development Corporation). Mulberry or shahtoot has medicinal properties the details, in case you are interested, can be found here.
Walnuts, sour cream and the mixture.

A saffron field in Pampore
I didn't want to fill up my pie with with the sweetness of jam so I scoured the internet and came across a recipe that I liked. Of course I didn't follow it down to the last detail. It included sour cream and pecans. But I used walnuts that I brought back with me. We got some lovely local produce from a shop near Pampore. The town is referred to as the Saffron Town of Kashmir because of the high-grade saffron grown here.

Ingredients:
For the pastry
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
100 grams butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg
Iced water to sprinkle if the egg isn't enough to bind the dough
( I did not add sugar to the dough as I didn't want the pie to be overly sweet). 
Method:
Beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the flour in a large bowl and add the butter. Using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour till the mixture is crumbly.
Add the egg and bring the dough together.
Shape it into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for at least 40 minutes.
If you plan this ahead, let the dough rest overnight.
Take out the dough and cut enough out to roll into a circle that's a little bigger than your pie dish.
Prick gently with a fork on the surface. Let this rest in the fridge as you get the filling ready.

The filling:
Mulberry jam (I used half from the 500 g bottle)
2 yolks + 1 yolk for the egg wash
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbs almond extract
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Beat the egg yolks and add the sour cream to it. Add the next four ingredients and give it a good whisk. Lastly, add the walnuts.
Take the rested pastry bottom and spread the jam on it.
Quickly roll out the other half of the dough and set it aside.
Pour the egg/sour cream mixture on top of the jam.
Cover the pastry with the other half. Cut off excess dough and tuck the sides inwards..
Create a pattern with a fork on the edges to make it more secure.
Cut out patterns with any left-over dough and paste on the surface by using the egg wash.
Prick with a fork on the surface for steam to escape while baking. I left this out as the dough tore in three places. Which is why these flower patterns are not symmetrically placed. Tearing is always asymmetrical.:)

Brush with egg and bake in a preheated 200 C oven for 20 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 180 C and bake till the pie is golden brown. This may require another 15-20 minutes. Before the pie went into the oven, it did feel that the filling was not enough. But as it baked it swelled up and did its bit of filling the kitchen with magical aromas. The addition of eggs/sour cream mixture and also not adding sugar to the pastry dough cut down the sweetness of the jam. I had a slice with a dollop of sour cream and fennel leaves. Better than a regular jam pie.:)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Back From Kashmir


I got back from a wonderful holiday in Kashmir. Though it was a short trip, it was so enjoyable that even now, going about my regular chores, I think I'm smiling most of the time because my head is filled with images of blossoms of every hue! Walking out of the airport in Srinagar, the sight of cherry and almond blossoms lifted our spirits. There was a slight drizzle and rain-bearing clouds in the distance.

The next morning was spent exploring the area surrounding our guest house. We stayed in the outskirts, near the railway station. But this was nowhere like any other station in India. Plum and peach orchards dotted the area and we had such a lovely time walking around with our cameras.

In the afternoon we headed to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden. Spread over 12 hectares this is the largest tulip garden in Asia. Two million tulip bulbs have been planted here in 48 colours. Apart from tulips many cooler climate flowers like hyacinths, primroses, cyclamens and others were blooming. The air was fragrant with all these blossoms and the colours were a sight to behold.
The Zabarwan range of hills in the background had clumps of blossoming fruit trees.


Other flowers that were blooming in the garden.

Although dinner was usually at the guest house, lunch was Kashmiri wazwan. Here's a sample from Shamiana restaurant near Dal lake. It consisted of rista/meat balls in red gravy, rogan josh/aromatic lamb curry, seekh kabab in gravy, nan and rice.
On the way to Pahalgam we stopped at a bakery and bought some local bread called baqerkhani. The baker was happy to have us drop by that he gave us a large coconut biscuit to taste. There are many bakeries all along the route and Kashmiris are known to be experts at baking bread.


The Lidder river in Pahalgam.

More Kashmiri wazwan. Chicken curry, gushtaba, Kashmiri pulao and seekh kabab. All very delicious! A description of wazwan from Wiki. Wazwan is a multi-course meal in Kashmiri cuisine, the preparation of which is an art and a point of pride in Kashmiri culture culture and identity. Almost all the dishes are meat-based.
My post isn't done but Blogger is imperative that I do not post any more photos. I wonder if others are facing the same issue. There's more to follow as we also went to Gulmarg and did some of the sights in Srinagar. My haul consisted of all kinds of nuts, dried berries, saffron, local honey and local mulberry jam. In fact I had baked a pie using the jam. Too bad I can't post the pictures. I'll try again later.