Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Guava Curry

Most acidic fruits like elephant apples, Indian jujube, green mangoes, Indian olives and star fruits, to name a few, are cooked in a sweet/sour kind of chutney but we have always had guavas without cooking. Guava curry is more popular in the western and drier regions of our country.
Guava is one of the most common fruits of summer and they are nutritious. It is said that one guava contains four times the amount of vitamin C as an orange. Tropical fruits always remind me of my childhood as we had so many trees and summer afternoons were spent amid those trees and the fruits they bore. Some trees bear fruits during winter too but winter harvests are never as bounteous as the one in summer.

Yesterday's harvest. I left out the semi-ripe ones from this photo. The brown patches look a little unsightly but does nothing to the taste!:) My yard has three trees. The first one came from my parents' garden. I had dug up a sapling that grew next to a guava tree of the pink variety. I was so sure that it would produce pink fruits too. Three or four years later, I can't remember exactly, I was disappointed to see that the pulp was creamy white. But the taste was so sweet that I didn't really keep on thinking about pink...

Coming to the recipe, it's from an old magazine that used the pink variety.

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
10 -12 curry leaves
2-3 green chillies, scored lengthwise
A pinch of hing/asafoetida
1/2 cup curd, beaten
2 tomatoes, chopped
5 semi-ripe guavas, deseeded and diced
3 tsp, grated jaggery
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
Chopped herbs of your choice (I used serrated coriander)
2 tbs mustard oil

Heat the oil in a pan. When it's hot enough, add the fennel, cumin and mustard seeds.
Once they sputter, add the curry leaves, green chillies and hing.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till they turn mushy. This will take about 10 minutes.
Stir in the beaten curd and give the mix a good stir.
Add about 1/2 cup warm water and the diced guavas. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so till the guavas turn soft.
Add the jaggery, garam masala, lemon juice and salt. Check and make adjustments, if needed.
Take it off the heat and garnish with the chopped herbs,
This goes with either rice or with puris.
Pink guavas from my mother's garden
I loved it. Although my boys weren't keen on it, I'm glad I tried this dish. Particularly with home-grown produce.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fritters Made Of Water Lily Stalks

The wide plains of our state is rich in aquatic plants. And during this season, water spinach and water lilies with their extra long stalks are widely sold. Our regular vendor who comes each morning in his bicycle with baskets laden with banana flowers, lemons, chillies, and various leafy greens had plenty of water lilies yesterday. Now with flowers that look like these, who can resist them?
I usually ask the vendors how they like to eat/cook the vegetables they sell. In this case, he said that they taste really good when you stir-fry the stems with some garlic. But I had done that before and quite liked it. These stalks are mild in taste and need very little cooking time.
A basket of water lilies
 The pretty flowers were drowsy in the hot sun and I simply couldn't take my eyes off them.

Water lily stalk fritters:
Recipe adapted from here.
Water lily stems
Chick pea flour
Rice flour
Chilli powder
Nigella seeds
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
A dash of sugar
A pinch of baking soda
Oil to fry

Remove the flowers and wash the stalks. Peel the skin. It comes off easily in long strips. The action is the same as stringing beans or removing the skin from colocasia stems. You could cut the stalks into four or five parts to make it easier. Cut into even-sized pieces.
Wash and drain in a colander.
Take a toothpick and skewer the cut stalks like a small raft. I used 6 pieces for each 'raft'.
Keep doing so till all the prepared stalks are used up. 
In a bowl, mix the flours. No measurements are given here as with fritters we usually go by eye. The proportion is that there should be two parts chick pea flour and one part rice flour.
Add the seasonings and the nigella seeds. Mix well. Add water and make a thick batter.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan.
Dip each 'raft' in the batter and fry in the hot oil. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
The toothpicks can be removed but I left them on.

Instead of making regular chutney. I made a tzatziki dip with...
1 cup of strained yoghurt
1 small cucumber, peeled and grated and the water squeezed out
Salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic peeled, crushed and chopped to bits
Freshly grated black pepper, as per taste
A drizzle of extra virgin olive olive oil
Mint leaves as a garnish
Combine all the ingredients except the last two, till homogeneous. Drizzle the olive oil on top and garnish with a few mint leaves/sprigs.

The reddish colour comes from the use of chilli powder. I loved the fritters. With the rest of the stalks, I'll be trying out another recipe soon.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Pineapple Pies Again!

Hello everyone! I haven't been very active here this month but I have been pretty busy on my Facebook page.:) I realized this was the last day of July and I couldn't possibly sail on to the next month without a new post. Well, it's a pie I had made before. With all the pineapples that my husband brought from his latest trip to the old hometown, I have come down to the last two. A few were given away and the rest went into making salads and juice.
My husband retired this year in January. Since then he's been travelling to Haflong, our hometown where our house is being constructed. It's almost completed now. On every trip he brings a lot of fresh produce which we share with relatives and sometimes with his former colleagues. The other day, in return for pumpkins and pineapples, one gentleman sent us return gifts. Fifteen fresh eggs from the ducks he rears at home! What a treat that was!

Coming to the post, the recipe has been adapted from Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook.

1 small pineapple
100 grams sugar
2 tsp butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
The Cream Cheese Pastry
150 grams soft butter
150 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
200 grams all-purpose flour
1 tsp fine sugar
A pinch of salt

To make the pastry, mix the butter, cream cheese, salt and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the flour and bring the dough together. Tip the content on your work top and shape into a disc. Wrap in clingfilm and keep in the fridge for about an hour.

Cut off the ends of the pineapple. Peel off the skin with a sharp knife and remove eyes. Cut out 8 discs. The pastry dough is enough for 8. I used a bottle cap to take out the hard core from every disc.
Heat a frying pan. Place the sugar on a plate and press the pineapple slices on both sides so that the slices get coated.
Add the pineapple slices to the hot pan. Let them cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Add the butter to the pan and give the pan a little shake. The fruit slices will caramelize beautifully. Remove on to a paper-lined plate and set aside to cool.

Take out the pastry dough and start rolling. Roll out one disc, brush edges with egg wash. Then place one caramelized pineapple in the centre. Roll out another circle and place it on top of the pineapple. Trim the edges and secure by pressing a fork all along the border. Prick some holes with the same fork on the surface for steam to escape. Keep the prepared pie on a baking paper-lined tray. Repeat till all the pineapple discs and dough is used up. Place each prepared pie in the fridge as you keep working...
Mine were about 4" in diametre. 

I kept my pies simple. Cream cheese pastry is delicious but a little hard for me to handle. So unlike Rachel, I couldn't go ahead with the pretty floral designs that she created.
Brush the pies with egg wash and bake in a preheated 220 C oven for about 20 minutes. I had to bake it a little longer as the pies didn't turn golden in 20 minutes.
Once they are out of the oven, you could use a sugar/cinnamon syrup to brush the surface.

Place 50 grams sugar, 1/2 tsp  ground cinnamon and 50 ml water in a small pan. Let it come to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
The pies can be served warm with ice cream or strained yoghurt. I used the latter with a drizzle of honey and a few fennel leaves.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Jackfruit Seed Pulao

Jackfruit seed pulao
Jackfruit seed pulao
When it comes to jackfruits, it's the raw form or the seeds that we consume, more than the ripe ones. I was happy to get this wonderful supply of seeds from my childhood garden. My mother had been drying and storing the seeds for me and my siblings. Luckily, four of us live in the same city so if anything is sent, dividing the same becomes much easier.
I used the seeds in a pulao dish today. Many like to chop up the seeds and add to fried rice as well. For those of us who love the seeds, any recipe is welcome.:)

Serves 4
2 cups Basmati rice
About 35-40 jackfruit seeds
2 sticks of cinnamon
6-7 cloves
2 tejpatta
3 bruised green cardamom
1 badi elaichi/black cardamom
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced fine
A small piece of ginger, ground
3 cloves of garlic, ground (along with)
2 green chillies
Some leaves of coriander
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of ground cardamom
Vegetable oil as needed
About 50 grams of butter
Salt to taste

The seeds, boiled ones in the bowl...and in the pan...being fried

~ Remove the outer papery skin of the jackfruit seeds and set aside.
~ Wash the rice and soak with enough water for an hour. 
~ After an hour, drain the rice in a colander. It's best if the rice is almost dry.
~Meanwhile. boil the jackfruit seeds in very little water to which a bit of salt is added till they are half done.
~ Drain in a colander.
~ Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and fry one sliced onion till golden brown.
~ This can be used to scatter over the rice before serving.
~ Remove the fried onions with a slotted spoon and set aside.
~ Heat 4 cups of water. Take about one tablespoon of water in a small bowl and add a pinch of saffron to it. Crush the strands with the back of a spoon.
~ In the same oil, throw in the aromatics. Then add the rest of the onions.
~ Cook till they turn translucent, then add the ginger and garlic/chilli pastes.
~ Add the jackfruit seeds and cook for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the drained rice and stir gently taking care not to break the grains while doing so.
~ Fry for about 5-6 minutes, then add the water. Season with salt and add the saffron water. Stir well but be gentle.
For 1 cup of rice, I add nearly two cups of water.
~ Cover with a well-fitting lid till the liquid almost dries up.
~ Take off the lid and stir/fluff with a fork then add the butter, in knobs all across the surface.
~ Cover again and let it remain on a low flame for another 8-10 minutes.
~ Switch off the flame and let the pan soak up all the residual heat till you are ready to eat!
Before serving, scatter the fried onions on top of the rice. You can also use the coriander leaves for garnishing.

To accompany the pulao, I rustled up a minty raita. A bunch of mint leaves were ground up with two green chillies. A bowl of creamy curd was whisked with the addition of a dash of rock salt, a drizzle of honey and a bit of toasted/ground cumin seeds. I finished it off with a sprinkling of pomegranate.
The other was a simple salad of cucumber with chillies and coriander leaves.

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. 

4 unripe mangoes
Rock salt/kala namak
Toasted and powdered cumin seeds
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.

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.
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

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.
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
  • 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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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
~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.:)

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.
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.
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.