Friday, September 20, 2019

Lamb Kebabs ... and how to make quick pickled onions and a yogurt dip.

Nothing says 'Spring is here' more than some Lamb kebabs. Spring Lamb is in stores now and while some of the premium cuts can be very pricey, today's recipe uses ground lamb (lamb mince). This is not just easy on the hip pocket, but cooks up really fast too.




You can serve these kebabs as a starter, or with a salad as a main too. Today I'm serving it up as a wrap with some homemade, quick pickled onions and a yogurt dip. Start off by making the pickled onions and the dip, so that they have a little time to let the flavors develop. 




Quick Pickled Onions

1/2 onion, sliced
Salt, to taste
1-2 tbsp Lemon juice

Separate the half rings of the onion slices. 

Sprinkle salt and lemon juice over the onion and mix well to let the seasonings get to all the onion slices. 

Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. 



Yogurt Dip / Spread

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1/2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
A few mint leaves, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. 



Lamb Kebabs

500g lamb mince
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 chillies, finely chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
Oil, for frying

Mix all the ingredients and shape into kebabs. 

Heat some oil in a pan. 

Fry kebabs for a couple of minutes on each side, or till you get a beautiful golden brown color on each side and till its cooked through to your liking. 

Serve hot. 

** To make the wrap, I use some homemade, whole wheat chapatis, layer some salad greens on top, add a couple of the kebabs, smear some yogurt dip over and top with some pickled onions. Wrap up and enjoy.  

Monday, September 16, 2019

Moong Dal Khichdi



Up until a few years ago, I wasn't the biggest fan of khichdi. At the time, I had never made it myself and the few versions that I tried, always fell short. That is till I tried Gloria's recipe. Gloria used to be my brother-in-laws housekeeper and she was very skilled in the kitchen. While I didn't have the opportunity to spend to much time with her, this was one recipe, she very willingly shared with me. I have tweaked it to suit our tastes and I love this version. To me this khichdi has now become comfort food. So, whenever I'm under the weather or even if its just a cold, wet day, I feel myself yearning for a bowl of this moong dal khichdi. Have I mentioned that this is a ridiculously easy recipe? Well, it is and today I'm sharing this little gem with you. I hope you try it out and like it as much as we do.




Moong Dal Khichdi
Serves 2

1/3 cup basmati rice
1/3 cup moong dal
1 tbsp oil
1 chilli, cut into large pieces
1/2 a medium sized onion, chopped 
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Fresh coriander, chopped (leaves and stalks)

For the tempering - 
1 1/2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Wash the rice and the dal separately. Repeat this process a few times, till the water runs clear. Soak the rice and the dal separately. The rice needs to soak for about 20 minutes and the dal for about 10 minutes. (So I soak the rice first, and 10 minutes later, I soak the dal). Drain the water in each of the bowls and run some fresh water through and drain again. 

Heat the oil in a vessel on medium heat.

Add the chillies and saute for a few seconds. 

Add the onions and saute till they have softened and are a little translucent.  

Add the pepper and turmeric powder and stir well, to coat the onions. 

Add the rice and the dal and stir through. 

Now, add 2 1/3 cup of water. (I use a 1:3.5 ratio. That is, 1 part rice to 3.5 parts of water. Towards the end if you feel the need to add some more water, you can. I added another 1/3 cup towards the end. So this time I used a 1:4 ratio. The quantity of water will depend on your rice. So start off using 3.5 parts)

Add salt to taste and stir through. Once the salt has dissolved, you can taste the liquid in the pot and see if it is seasoned to your liking or add more salt, if needed. 

Bring the water to a boil. Then cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and let the rice and lentils cook off till tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. (At this point if you feel the need to cook it further, add a little more water and continue cooking as stated above.)

When done, take off the heat and start working on the tempered spices. 

In a small vessel, melt 1 1/2 tbsp ghee. 

Add the chopped garlic and stir around. Let this cook gently till a little of the rawness of the garlic goes away.
Then, add the cumin seeds and gently cook a little more. This will infuse the ghee with beautiful flavors. Make sure to watch carefully, as you don't want the garlic to take on any color or burn. 

Add this to the pot of khichdi and stir through. 

Finish off with some chopped coriander and stir to distribute well. 

Serve hot. Garnish with a little extra coriander and serve with a pickle of your choice. I recommend a Mango Chundo / Chunda (a sweet and slightly spicy Mango pickle).

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Goan Prawn Curry with Okra

Like some of you already know, my mother's family originally is from Goa. Growing up, we spent almost every summer in our ancestral home in Goa. It was a sprawling old Portuguese styled house with large grounds surrounding it. In our garden grew a variety of mango trees. We also had a great big coconut tree. Our garden also housed some custard apple, pomegranate, chickoos / Sapota, jackfruit, cashews, guavas, bananas and so much more. Some of my fondest memories have got to be me tagging along with my aunt harvesting all the lovely organic produce right through our holidays and enjoying all the yummy food my mum and aunt would whip up for us.

This prawn curry made a regular appearance on the table along with some Goan red rice and whatever vegetable was in season. Our Goa house had 2 kitchens, one was a traditional old wood fired one and the other was a modern one with a gas stove-top. However, almost all the cooking was done in earthenware pots in the old kitchen. While everything took a lot longer to cook, the taste was unbeatable. 

I would give anything to experience something like that again. While that might still be a pipe dream, for now, I just make do replicating some of the good old recipes. This prawn curry is a coconut based curry, known for its vibrant orange color and its spicy and tangy flavors. I hope you try it out and enjoy it as much as we do. 




Goan Prawn Curry with Okra

500g prawns, shelled, de-veined and washed a couple of times
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 chillies, split lengthwise
A couple of pieces of Kokum / Aamsol (dried souring agents)
6-8 okra pods, trim off the stalk and cut into approx. 1 inch pieces
Salt, to taste
1-2 tbsp oil
A small ball of tamarind (about half a walnut in size)

For the masala / spice paste - 
1/2 cup grated coconut
6 Kashmiri chillies
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tsp black pepper corns
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds

Sprinkle a little salt on the prepped prawns and set aside. 

Soak the tamarind in a little warm water in a small bowl and set aside. 

Grind all the ingredients for the masala into a fine paste using a little water, as needed

Heat the oil in a large vessel. 

Add the onions and saute till they soften. Add the kokum / aamsol.

Add the ground masala / spice paste to the pan and let it fry for a couple of minutes. 

Add a cup of water to the mixer and swirl around to pick up any of the remaining spice mix and add to the pan. Add more water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.

Add the chillies and bring to a boil. Season lightly with a little salt (The prawns also have some salt on them so add salt accordingly).  Lower the heat to a simmer and add the okra. 

Cook gently till the okra is almost cooked. Check for seasoning.

Mash the tamarind up and discard any pieces of fibre or shell and add some of the tamarind paste, to taste. 



Add the prawns. Continue cooking just till the prawns have cooked through. (This usually just takes a couple of minutes depending on the size of the prawns.) Do not overcook the prawns. 

Check for seasoning and adjust, if needed. 

Serve hot.



Chicken in White Sauce Pasta

Pasta - one humble ingredient but endless ways to cook it up. It has got to be one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. You can serve it hot or cold, in a soup, salad or as a main. It works so well with so many different veggies, proteins and sauces. I love me some pasta and always have a couple of varieties in my pantry cupboard.

Pasta dishes can range from simple to a little more complicated. I personally, love the idea of a few simple recipes that I can use during the week. This Chicken in white sauce pasta is one such dish. With a little multi-tasking, I can serve this up in well under half and hour. Yup, you heard that right, under 30 minutes. Honestly, what takes the most time, is boiling up the pasta itself. If you don't eat meat, you can still make this recipe, just leave out the chicken and add some mushrooms, peas or even a little spinach. A vegetarian variant turns out equally delicious. 

Are you ready to check this recipe out???




Chicken in White Sauce Pasta
(Serves 4)

A single Chicken breast fillet, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup green capsicum, diced
1 cup of broccoli florets
1/2 cup corn kernels
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Chilli flakes, to taste
1/2 - 1 tsp Mixed herbs, or to taste 
1 tsp lemon juice
1-2 tbsp olive oil 
1-2 tbsp vegetable stock / water
Pasta (enough for 4 servings)
A little parsley, to garnish
A little Parmesan cheese, grated

For the white sauce - 
1 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Salt, to taste


Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions. I bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season generously with salt. Add the pasta and cook till done. Drain and reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. 

While the pasta is cooking, season the chicken with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Mix well. 

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Add the chicken and cook through, stirring occasionally, till the chicken has cooked through. Remove the chicken in a bowl and set aside. 

In the same pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and quickly add the garlic. 

Stir through and immediately add the green capsicum. Still through and let the capsicum cook for about a minute. 

Next add the broccoli and saute well.  (See note*)

Add the corn and stir through. 

Season with salt, pepper, chilli flakes and mixed herbs, to taste. 

Add 1-2 tbsp vegetable stock (you can also use water), stir well, cover and let the veggies steam and cook for a minute or two or till they are done to your liking. (If you are adding cooked broccoli to the pan, you can leave this step out. )

Add the cooked chicken to the pan and stir through. Set aside and cook your white sauce. 


To cook the White Sauce / Bechamel Sauce - 
(For detailed instructions on how to make a great white sauce, check the video above)

Add a tsp of olive oil to the pan on medium heat. 

Add the butter and let it melt. 

Add the flour and stir briskly, making sure the flour incorporates well with the butter and oil and that no lumps are left. 

Cook this roux off for about 30 seconds to a minute or till the raw smell of the flour has gone. (Do not let it develop any color.)

Add half the milk to the pan and stir through well, making sure no lumps remain. 

Add the remaining milk and whisk well. 

Cook the sauce till it has thickened to your liking, whisking well.

When the sauce is done, lightly season with a little salt. 


To assemble the pasta - 

Add the white sauce to the chicken and veggies in the pan.  Stir well. Add the cheese and mix through. 

Check the sauce for seasoning and adjust, if needed. 

Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir through. 

Serve your pasta in some serving plates. Finish with a light sprinkling of parsley and a grating of parmesan cheese. 


*NOTE: Our broccoli is fairly tender and cooks very quickly. If your broccoli takes longer to cook, blanch or steam it before adding to the pan.  




Thursday, August 15, 2019

French Beans Foogath - Goan Style Green Beans Stir Fry

You'll notice that a lot of recipes that I share here are vegetarian. I thought I'd talk about that for a moment. While my husband and I aren't full time vegetarians, we eat very little fish and meat. Most of our meals in a regular week happen to be vegetarian and we like it like that.

Today's recipe is another such gem. Its my French Beans Foogath, a Goan Style Green Beans Stir Fry. I love keeping things simple in the kitchen. This works well for me when I'm short on time but still want a home cooked meal. This recipe ticks all those boxes. Just a handful of ingredients, a little cooking and you end up with a delicious vegetable. Now that's my kind of recipe. I hope you enjoy it too.





French Beans Foogath

1/4 kg green beans / french beans (approx)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 chillies, cut into quarters lengthwise
1 onion, peeled and chopped
A little grated coconut
1 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste

Prep the green beans by washing them, trimming the ends and chopping into little pieces.

Heat some oil in a pan.

Add the mustard seeds.

When they start spluttering, add the chillies and stir for a few seconds.

Add the onion and saute till they've softened and they start developing a little color.

Add the green beans and stir well. Stir fry for about a minute.

Add a little salt and stir through for about another minute.

Add a couple of small splashes of water. Let the water come to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and let the vegetable cook.

Check the vegetable in a couple of minutes. Stir and ensure there is sufficient water. Add more water if needed. Check for seasoning and adjust if required and let it continue to cook till done.

When it's almost done, add the coconut and stir through. Let it cook for another minute or so, to let the coconut warm through.

Serve hot.

Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Homemade Hot Chocolate

Winter is one of my favorite seasons. I love the chill in the air and everything that comes with it, especially after a long, hot summer. I love winter clothes, the food and the indoor days. But what I love most of all is rugging up on a chilly day with a piping hot mug of homemade hot chocolate. So today, I'm going to share with you how I make my basic hot chocolate from scratch in under 5 minutes. Yup, its quick, simple and divine.






Homemade Hot Chocolate
Makes 1 mug

3/4 cup (full fat) milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
A few marshmallows, for topping (optional)

Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and heat it over medium heat till it just about starts simmering. Do not let it come to a boil.

Add the chopped chocolate and whisk till dissolved.

Pour into a mug and top with marshmallows (if using) and sprinkle some grated chocolate on top.

Enjoy!!!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Easy Mini Cheesecakes with a Strawberry Topping


Cheesecake is one of our favorite desserts at home. My last couple of birthday cakes have been cheesecakes. That alone should tell you how much I love it. But do you know whats even better than a cheesecake? Little mini cheesecakes, of course. Jokes aside, these are the perfect option for a party or even for the family. You can make them a day ahead of the party and keep them refrigerated. They are easy to serve and could serve to help portion control too. And they are super delicious as well. Now that's a dessert that ticks all the boxes for me.




Easy Mini Cheesecakes with a Strawberry Topping
Makes 8 mini cheesecakes

For the base - 
120g Digestive biscuits
30g butter

For the cheesecake - 
250g cream cheese
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
100g double cream
2 eggs
A tiny pinch of salt

For the topping -
1/2 cup strawberry jam
Fresh strawberries

For the base -

Melt the butter and keep aside.

Blitz the biscuits in a food processor till you get a coarse crumb texture. Add the melted butter and blitz again to combine. This should now resemble wet sand.


For the filling - 

Beat the cream cheese till its creamy.

Add the sugar and and mix till it is well combined.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Now add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix till combined.

Lastly, add the cream and mix till it has incorporated with the rest of the ingredients.


To assemble - 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Line a cupcake tray with paper cases.

Place about 1 tbsp. or so of the biscuit crumb in each case. Using the back of a spoon, pack it down and flatten it.

Top it with the cheesecake filling about 2/3 of the way.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or till the outside has set and the middle still has a little jiggle to it. (You may find some of them puff up a bit or develop a little crack. That is fine.)

Take it out of the oven and let it cool down completely.

Warm the jam over some medium heat, just to loosen it a bit. You don't need to simmer or boil it. This took me about a minute.

Spoon a little jam over each of the mini cheesecakes.

Top with some fresh berries.

Refrigerate for 2-4 hours to set. You can leave it to set overnight as well.

Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Goan Recheado Masala (Rechaad Masala)

Recheado Masala (Rechaad Masala) is a quintessential Goan spice blend. You will find this in every Goan or Goan food lovers home. While its a few basic spices that's simply blended together in a mixer / food processor, the trick is getting the right balance of flavors. Every household has its own version of this masala. And yes, we have one too. The recipe I'm sharing with you today is my Mother's recipe which I've tweaked a tiny bit and I think it's now just the way we like it.

I always have a jar of this masala in the fridge. That's the beauty of it. You can make a batch up when you need it or make it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. I store it in a clean, dry, airtight glass jar and it easily keeps for weeks, if not months. It's a great masala to have on hand. Typically this masala is used to pan fry a variety of seafood from fish, to prawns and even crabs. We also make a finger-licking, lip-smacking okhra or bhindi with this masala. I will share those recipes with you really soon. 





Goan Recheado Masala 

20 Kashmiri red chillies 
1 whole pod of garlic, peeled
1 inch ginger, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
3 cloves
2 inches cinnamon
5 cardamom pods
A small ball of tamarind, about the size of a walnut
Vinegar, to grind the masala to a paste
Sugar and Salt, to taste (optional, see note)

Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for a couple of minutes. When it has softened, mash it between your fingers and discard any seeds, pieces of shell or fibre that you may find.)

Place all the spices in your mixer. Add the tamarind pulp and the water it was soaking in. Add a couple of generous tablespoons of vinegar. Blend to a smooth paste, adding more vinegar as required. (Halfway through this process, scrape down the sides of the jar to make sure you get a smooth paste).

When it has blended to a smooth paste, it is ready to use. 

Store any excess in a clean, dry, airtight glass jar in the refrigerator and use as needed. 


NOTE:
You can add a little salt to taste and 1-2 tsp. of sugar while grinding, if desired. I leave this out, so that I can season the dish as I need to, when using this masala. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

How to make Custard from scratch ... and a layered custard and jelly dessert

Today's post is a walk down memory lane for me. As a kid, this dessert made an appearance at a lot of parties and gatherings and on other special occasions too. My mum makes a version of this. However, back in the day, we always used custard powder to make our custard. And I used to love it. When we moved away from India, initially I found it a little hard to find the custard powder that we used. So I did the only other thing I could think of. I started working on a custard recipe. After a few attempts and tweaks, I came up with a recipe that I was happy with. It's a simple, easy and super delicious one. Well, you don't have to take my word for it. Try it out for yourself and see. And then come back and let me know what you thought of it.

Once you make the custard, there are so many ways you can use it. Make a thinner version and pour it over your favorite dessert. You can serve this custard with some fresh fruit or use it to make a fresh fruit tart (I'll share how I make mine very soon). Or you can do what I did, I made a layered dessert and serve it with some jelly. It was my first attempt at serving it up this way.  If you don't want to make individual servings, you can set your custard and jelly separately and let your guests help themselves to it.

Whichever way you decide to serve it up, you are going to love it.





Vanilla Custard 

4 egg yolks
3 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
A scant pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla till it is light and creamy.

Add the cornflour and whisk it in.

Next add the milk and whisk it in till it is well incorporated and is a uniform mix.

Place on a medium heat and cook, whisking continuously for about 15-18 minutes.

Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate to set.


To make a layered dessert - 

You'll need to whip up one portion of Jelly and a fruit salad

For the fruit salad -
1 pack of Raspberry Jelly
Assortment of fresh fruit, chopped into little pieces (Do NOT use pineapple, kiwi or papaya / pawpaw as your jelly will not set.)

Pour the jelly granules in a bowl.

Add 250ml boiling hot water. Stir to dissolve the Jelly granules.

Add 200ml cold water and stir through.

When the jelly has reached room temperature, add some chopped fruit.

Please note, every Jelly brand may have to be prepared differently. So, please follow the instructions on your box of jelly to achieve the best results.

Layer the custard and jelly in your servingware and keep refrigerated till you're ready to serve.

Enjoy chilled!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Kid-friendly Chicken Chilly Fry

Earlier in the year, I put up a post on my YouTube community tab and asked you what kind of recipes you'd like to see on the channel. One recurring request that came out of that exercise, was chilly fry recipes. So today, I'm going to share with you one of the many ways I make a chilly fry. This is one of the quickest and simplest recipes for a Chicken Chilly Fry.

I've cooked up the chicken specifically for this recipe, however, if you have some leftover roast chicken, you could just as easily use that as well. The recipe can be made kid friendly by simply leaving out the chillies. However, if you're looking for a little spice in the dish, a couple of chillies, slit lengthwise, hit just the right spot. 



Chicken Chilly Fry

1 chicken breast, cut into a couple of smaller pieces

For the marinade -
Salt, to taste 
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1-2 tsp sour lime / lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp ginger paste

For the chilly fry - 
1 onion, sliced
Some green and red peppers, sliced
1 tomato, sliced thickly
2 chillies, slit lengthwise (optional)
2 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Marinade the chicken by mixing all the marinade ingredients and slathering over the chicken pieces. Cover and marinade for atleast 15 minutes. (When I remember to, I marinade the chicken overnight, in the fridge. Just make sure you take it out of the fridge a little while before cooking, so that it comes to room temperature.)

Cover the pieces with sufficient water and bring to a gentle boil and simmer till the chicken is completely cooked. Take the chicken pieces out of the stock and reserve the stock. When the pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them and set aside.

Heat some oil in a pan. 

If you're using chillies, add them to the pan and fry them off to infuse some flavor into the oil. 

Add the sliced onion and saute for a minute. Next add the peppers and let them cook till they get a little char on them. 

Add the tomatoes, let them cook a little. Make sure them come in contact with the pan a little, so they can develop a nice little char on them too.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Next, add the shredded chicken and stir to mix everything well. 

If the mix appears a little dry, add a couple of spoons of the stock to the pan and stir well. (Add the stock as needed. I used about 4-6 tbsps. in all)

Once most of that liquid has been absorbed, your chilly fry is ready. 

Serve hot. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Upma or Masala Semolina

I feel like somewhat of a broken record saying this, but nevertheless, I will. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And I strongly believe in that.

In the past, I've been a bit here and there with breakfast. Growing up, we were almost always given a chapati or a paratha for breakfast. As a kid, it wasn't my most favorite thing in the world, but I always ate what was put in front of me. After moving out of my parents house, breakfast took a back seat. We were always in a rush to get out of the house to go to work and the first thing that got neglected was breakfast. A wholesome meal was often replaced with a slice of toast and coffee. But eventually, we got so fed up of that slice of toast, I started looking for ways to spice up brekkie, so to say. I did a lot of experimenting and also went back to some old favorites like this Upma that my mother made for us every now and then. 

Moving forward to current day, I'm happy to report that in our house, breakfast is now a more wholesome meal. So, if you'd like to get back to wholesome breakfasts, the way it is meant to be, you've come to the right place. Today, I'm going to share with you our family recipe for Upma. Upma, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is a Masala Semolina dish. Only recently, I learnt that there's actually a different name for it in Goa. Goans refer to this as Tikhat Shiro (translates to Spicy Semolina). It is quick, easy, wholesome and delicious. So I'll stop yapping here and take you straight to the recipe. 





Upma
Yields: 2 adult portions

1/2 cup coarse semolina / rava
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 curry leaves
2 chillies, cut into large pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 inch ginger, cut into 2 pieces
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 small tomato (or 1/3 - 1/2 large), chopped
1/4 cup green peas
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 cup of water from a recently boiled kettle (hot water)

Dry roast the semolina on medium heat, till you get a nutty aroma and it only just starts changing color. Take it off the pan and place in a bowl and set aside. 

Heat the oil in the pan. 

Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. 

Add the cumin seeds and soon after add the curry leaves and chilly pieces to the pan. Saute for a few seconds. 

Next, add the chopped onion and saute. When the onion has softened, add the ginger and stir well to fry off. 

Once the onion has started to develop a little color on the edges, add the turmeric powder and stir well. 

Add in the roasted semolina. Stir well to incorporate and saute for 20-30 seconds. 

Now add in the hot water. Carefully stir the mix.

Add salt to taste, chopped tomatoes and green peas. Stir well to combine. 

Stirring continuously, cook the semolina till all the moisture has been absorbed and you are left with nice fluffy grains. This usually takes me around 2 minutes. 

Take the pan off the heat, cover and let it rest for a couple of minutes. 

Serve hot. 

Enjoy!



Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Perfect Caramel Popcorn

Who's up for some popcorn? And not just any ordinary packet of store-bought popcorn, but an amazing Homemade Caramel Popcorn. I've said it before and I'll say it again, popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. In the past, I've used those microwavable packets too, but ever since I learned how to pop my own corn at home, I just make it from scratch. It is so easy and so much more economical than the store bought bags. Not to mention, that you're saving on all that unnecessary packaging too.

I've tried so many variants of flavoring while experimenting at home. Some savory and some sweet. Today, I'm going to share with you my favorite version of Caramel popcorn. The corn takes a couple of minutes to pop, the caramel sauce comes together in a few minutes, then all you do is toss everything together and leave it to cool down and set for a few minutes. 

What you get is the most amazing crunchy popcorn, seasoned lightly with a little salt, to taste, covered in the most beautiful caramel sauce. Is there anything else you could want in a snack? Yes, this is a slightly indulgent snack, but we all deserve a treat every once in a while, don't you think so?

Let's have a look at the recipe.




Caramel Popcorn
Yields: 3-3 1/2 cups of popped corn

For the popcorn -

1 1/2 - 2 tbsp cooking oil, any unflavored oil will do
1/4  cup popping corn
Salt, to taste

For the sauce - 
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar (finegrain / caster sugar works best)
1/8 tsp baking soda


To make the popcorn - 
Heat a large, heavy bottomed vessel. Add the oil and let it heat up. 

Add 2-3 corn kernels and let them pop. This is when the oil is at the right temperature. At this stage, add the rest of the corn to the vessel. Put a lid on and leave very slightly ajar. 

Swirl the pan around every now and then. 

When the popping slows down and almost stops, take the vessel off the heat and immediately sprinkle some salt over. Toss the corn and salt to season well. 


To make the caramel sauce - 

Heat a small saucepan over some medium heat. 

Add the butter and sugar to the pan and let it all melt down, stirring every now and then.

Once it melts, watch the pot carefully as the sugar will turn color very quickly and could burn. 

When you've reached a nice caramel color, immediately take it off the heat and add the baking soda and stir thoroughly.

Quickly pour it over the popped corn and stir through to coat the popcorn with the sauce. 

Turn the popcorn out on a lightly greased baking tray and leave it to cool and set. 

Enjoy!



Saturday, June 15, 2019

How to make Homemade Pizza from scratch

When I think back at my first experience eating pizza, I'm immediately taken back home to when I was about 10 or 12 years old. My best friends mother had whipped up some little pizzas for us as a snack using store bought pizza bases, a little sauce and some toppings. I can't remember what was on it, but what I do remember was that I liked it very, very much. After that,  she very kindly shared that recipe with my mother, who whipped them up for us at home, every once in a while.

Fast forward to about 7-8 years ago, I actually learned to make my pizza bases from scratch. After a whole lot of trial and error, I finally found a combination that worked well for me. And I've stuck to that ever since. And its safe to say, that since then, I have never bought a store bought pizza base. It is quite easy to make, once you know what your doing. Coupled with this, I'm also going to share my no-cook pizza sauce recipe with you. This recipe is probably older than my pizza dough recipe. As far as the toppings go, we've tried a lot of combinations. Once you have the basics in place, you can switch up you toppings to suit your tastes.

I'm going to whip up 2 pizzas today, one is a pepperoni pizza and the other is a mixed vegetable pizza. While, we're tried a few topping options, these two have got to be strong favorites in my house.

So let's get on to the recipe, shall we?



Homemade Pizza 

For the pizza dough

2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
1 tsp instant dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
150ml luke warm water (approx.) (use as needed)
2 spoons olive oil
Salt, to taste

In a little bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and a couple of tablespoons of warm water. Set the bowl aside for about 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate.

After 5-10 minutes, the yeast will turn frothy and is now activated.

In a large mixing bowl, take 2 cups flour and add the salt (I use about 3/4 tsp salt). Using your fingers, mix the salt through the flour.

Make a well in the middle of the mound of flour and add the yeast mix.

Start combining the flour with the yeast and gradually add warm water, as needed to form a soft dough.

The dough will be tacky at first, but will eventually be much more manageable and smooth.

Stretch the dough while kneading and continue this process for about 5 minutes. (See video above, for method). Halfway through the process, add the oil in 2 stages and continue working the dough.

Shape into a ball, and place in a greased bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and lightly coat the top of the dough, so that it doesn't dry out. Cover the bowl with some cling film or a clean, damp towel and leave the bowl in a warm place for the dough to rise. Leave to prove (rise) for about an hour, or till the dough doubles in volume. (It might take a little longer during cooler months.)


For the sauce
1-1 1/4 cup passata, tomato puree or canned tomatoes (If using canned tomatoes, process them to a puree before using)
2-3 small cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
A little less than 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp red chilly flakes

Add all the ingredients into a bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.

The sauce is now ready to use.


To make the pizzas

Preheat the oven to 250 deg C.

Divide the dough into 2 portions.

Stretch the dough to form the base. (See the video above for method)

Spread the sauce over the base, leaving a little margin from the edges.

Add toppings of your choice and cheese. (I use a combination of mozzarella and colby / cheddar).

Bake for 10-12 minutes or till the dough (pizza base) is cooked through and the cheese has melted.

Enjoy!



NOTES:
1) Remember to use warm water, not hot water. Hot water will kill your yeast and your dough will not rise.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Tambdi Bhaji or Red Amaranth vegetable Stir-fry

This post is a shout out to another one of my favorite vegetables - Red amaranth leaves. Have you tried it before? If you haven't, do try and get your hands on some. It is such a fun vegetable with its beautiful, naturally red color. It is super easy to put together and uses just a few, easy to find ingredients and you have yourself a mildly spiced, flavorful stir fried vegetable. My take on it, uses some grated coconut. Don't leave the coconut out. It absolutely makes this dish. The name 'tambdi bhaji' literally translates to Red Vegetable (in Konkani, Tambdi=red and bhaji=vegetable)

The sad part is, as much as I love this vegetable, I haven't been able to find these gorgeous leaves in Sydney. When I was back home in Mumbai a month ago, I knew we were going to make a few trips to the local fresh food market. Now, I haven't spoken about this before, but back when I lived in Mumbai, my first stop to the market was at a little stall run by a local lady (from the Gorai - Manori stretch). There are a couple of such stalls and these ladies bring a gorgeous bounty of produce that they grow on their properties. And this is as close to fresh, chemical free and organic food as you can get (make sure you chat with your vendor to confirm their growing practices). So on one of these trips to the market, my favorite vendor had some gorgeous bunches of red amaranth leaves. Needless to say, I grabbed a couple of massive bunches and ran home to whip it up for lunch. 

So without any further rambling, let's move on to the recipe.



Tambdi Bhaji

2 large bunches of red amaranth leaves
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3 green chillies, slit 
1 onion, chopped
2 heaped tbsp grated coconut
Salt, to taste

To prep the vegetable, break off the roots and the woody part of the stems and discard. Wash the leaves under cold, running water and drain. Wash it out a couple of times or till clean. Roughly chop the vegetable and keep aside. 

Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat. Carefully tip in the mustard seeds. 

When the seeds splutter, add the chillies and let them fry till fragrant.

Add the onions and saute till they soften and turn slightly pinkish.

Add the chopped vegetable and stir well to coat it in the oil and onion mix. Let the vegetable stir fry for a couple of minutes. You will notice it wilting already.

Add some salt, to taste and stir well to mix. 

Add a couple of tablespoons of water and mix through.

Cover the pot and cook on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or till the vegetable is tender and most of the water has evaporated. 

Add the grated coconut and stir through.

Check for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. 

Cover the pot and let it cook for about another minute to let the coconut heat through. 

Serve hot. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Goan Sausage Chilly Fry - No added oil recipe

Today, I'm showcasing a highly requested recipe for the oh-so-popular Goan Sausage Chilly Fry. These little beauties are also called Chorize much like its European counterpart, the Chorizo. The Goan sausages originally can be traced back to the Portuguese who ruled Goa and bought with them a lot of their culture, including their food. This sausage was then coupled with the local spices and flavors in Goa and the resulting Goan Chorize is much more spicy and tangy and more pungent than the Portuguese one. But this is a good thing. All these flavors, when well balanced, make for a delectable meal. I have yet to meet someone who has tried Goan sausages and not liked it. In the past, a really long time ago, I have shared one of the ways I make my chilly fry here.

The recipe I'm sharing with you today, is more or less the same as the previous one as far as ingredients go, but the process of cooking it up differs. This is how my Nana and Mum have always made it and this is a method I personally prefer. The sausage meat usually contains a fair amount of fat and so no additional oil is needed. If the sausage you're using is lean, I would recommend my previous version of this recipe. Now the taste of the dish you end up with, to a large extent depends on the actual sausage meat. So if at first you're not happy with the dish, try using a different brand of sausages and you will be surprised at how much of the difference this makes. 

Today's version of my Goan Sausage Chilly Fry is a great option for a quick and easy weeknight meal or for whenever you're short on time too. All the ingredients go into a pot with some water and is placed on the heat till cooked through. All you then need to do, is check for seasoning and adjust, if needed and you're ready to serve up. 

So if you haven't yet tried making Goan sausages at home, try this out. I'm sure you'll love it.




Goan Sausage Chilly Fry

60 beads of Goa sausages (take the meat out of the casing)
6-8 curry leaves
3 large, mild chillies, chopped into large pieces
1/2" ginger, chopped into a couple of large pieces
1 1/2 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
1 tomato, chopped
Salt, to taste
Vinegar, to taste

In a large pot, place the sausage meat, curry leaves, chillies, ginger, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and add 11/2 cup of water. Stir well. Cover the pot and bring to a boil on high heat. 

Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook till the potatoes and meat has cooked through and the liquid in the pot has mostly dried up. 

Taste and add salt and vinegar, as required. 

Serve hot!


This chilly fry pairs really well with some good bread - dinner rolls or some good crusty bread works brilliantly. You can also serve this up with some chapatis or some Peas Pulao


NOTE: You can adjust the consistency to suit your liking. If you want the chilly fry completely dry, once the meat and potatoes have cooked through, cook it uncovered till the liquid dries up. If you'd like more of a gravy, add a little more water or take it off the heat as soon as the meat and potatoes have cooked. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Vanilla Overnight Oats

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We've all heard that. However, very often, its one of the most rushed through or even ignored meal of the day. A lot of times, this happens because of our crazy busy schedules or we fall into a rut and breakfast gets boring. I mean, as much as I like toast, I really can't eat it every single day. Moreover, I don't think toast by itself is doing me any good.

In our house, we tend to eat oats for breakfast very often. Sometimes, this can prove difficult, because we're running late or its summertime and I can't bear the thought of turning the gas on to make us porridge. Not to mention, eating hot porridge on a hot day, only makes things hotter. So once I tried refrigerated overnight oats, I was really happy. If you've never tried overnight oats, you really should. Oats are healthy and when combined with some chia seeds, fresh fruit and nuts, it is a really healthy breakfast. The best part is, this is a make ahead recipe and requires no cooking. Which can be a blessing during hot summers. This is a versatile recipe and you can add your favorite fruit and nuts to top it off. So I hope you try this out as a breakfast option and let me know what you think.





Vanilla Overnight Oats
(Makes 1 portion)

1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tsp chia seeds
1/4 - 1/2 vanilla extract
Maple syrup, to taste
2/3 cup almond milk (you can use soy milk or any other milk of your choice)
Fresh fruit and nuts of your choice (I used some strawberries, grapes and slivered almonds)

In a mason jar, add all the ingredients except the fresh fruit and nuts that you're using to top off the oatmeal with.

Cover the jar and refrigerate overnight. (You can make a larger batch and use it through the week)

In the morning, add the fresh fruit and nuts of your choice. Serve up.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

No-cook Almond Marzipan Recipe

I've been making marzipan at home for a little over 12 years now. I must admit that in the past, I have only made marzipan using cashew nuts. This is mainly because they were more widely available in Mumbai and were more affordable than almonds. Last Christmas, when I shared my favorite marzipan recipe here and on YouTube, the video got a lot of love. I also got a lot of questions about making marzipan using almonds. There were also requests for an eggless version of marzipan. Now I have previously shared a different recipe for an eggless (cashew nuts) version. But I decided that this year, in time for Easter, I would try out an eggless almond marzipan recipe and share it with you. After a little experimenting, and more marzipan than I know what to do with, I have, what I consider a really good recipe to share with you.

How do they both compare? Well I found that the cashewnut marzipan is lighter while the almond one is a little on the denser side. That being said, the almond version is super delicious. I think even more than the cashewnut one. Then, there's also the fact that the almond one is a no-cook recipe. So, to sum up, I will still make my cashewnut version as it is a little easier to work with, but the almond one will be absolutely perfect to use in so many different ways. I'd love for you to try it out and tell me what you think of it.




No-cook Almond Marzipan
(Yields 250-260gms approx.)

1 cup raw, natural almonds
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp rose water (you can add a little more if needed)
1/2 tsp almond extract (you can add a little more if needed)


Place the almonds in a heatproof bowl.

Pour water from a recently boiled kettle over the almonds to cover the nuts. Leave the almonds to soak for a couple of minutes.

Drain the almonds and peel them. Place them on some kitchen paper or a clean kitchen towel to dry up. Let the almonds cool down completely.

In a high powered blender / food processor, blitz the almonds to a fine powder.

Place the almond powder in a large bowl. Add in the icing sugar. Mix it thoroughly till combined.

Add the rose water and almond extract and knead to form a dough / log.

Your marzipan is now ready to be used.

If you don't need to use it immediately, you can wrap it in cling film and refrigerate till needed. It keeps for a couple of months. (Personally, I would just make this when needed, probably a couple of days ahead.)

NOTE: This marzipan is not a very sweet version. When the marzipan is formed, taste some of it. If you want it sweeter, simply add some more icing sugar and knead it in. 





Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Chana Masala

Chickpeas! If you've been around this space a bit, you'll know that I love my beans and lentils. Chickpeas happen to be right on top of that list. The best part is, they are so easy to work with. And No! I'm definitely not talking about using the canned stuff. While you can use canned chickpeas in most recipes that call for chickpeas, and I have too (when I didn't have access to my pressure cooker), there is nothing like cooking your chickpeas or any other beans for that matter, from scratch. I haven't bought the canned stuff for years now. I buy dry beans and lentils by the kilo.

To cook the beans, simply wash and soak them for 6-8 hours, drain and refresh the water. I use a pressure cooker to cook my beans in my stovetop pressure cooker with water, salt and a couple of whole Kashmiri chillies. It takes me just 5 minutes of cooking time after the pressure has built up to cook my beans through. However, each pressure cooker is different. Please refer to the user guide for your cooker, to see how long you need to cook the beans.  If you done have a pressure cooker, cook it in a pot with sufficient water till tender. 

Once, you've boiled your chickpeas, you can use them in so many different ways. I have shared a recipe for Chole on the website previously. That is still a great recipe but I have since tweaked it a little and I'm going to share that new version of the recipe today. I will call it Chana Masala to avoid any confusion. You can also use the boiled chickpeas in a simple chickpea salad, make some Hummus or use the kala chana (a darker version of the chickpeas) to make this amazing stir fry called Black Chana Fugad. They are all delicious. 




Chana Masala 

1 cup dry chickpeas (Wash, soak for 6-8 hours and cook till tender. Reserve the boiling liquid.)
1 bay leaf
2 inches of cinnamon
5-6 cloves
8-10 peppercorns
2 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
2 green/red chillies, split lengthways
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilly powder
1 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1 cup tomato puree / passata
1 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
Fresh coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large vessel.

Add the bayleaf, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and cardamom pods. 

When the spices turn aromatic, add the cumin seeds and stir. 

Immediately add the chillies and onion. Saute till the onions have softened and have starting getting a little brown around the edges. 

Add the ginger and garlic paste and stir through. Saute for another minute.

Add the turmeric powder, chilly powder and garam masala powder and stir well.

Add a couple of tablespoons of the stock from cooking the chickpeas to deglaze the pan and prevent the spices from burning. Stir through thoroughly.

Now add the tomato puree and cook for 3-4 minutes stirring every once in a while. 

Add some more stock to bring the curry to the desired consistency. Please note, the curry will thicken a little as it cooks. 

Bring it to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. 

After 5 minutes, stir and check for seasoning. Add more stock if needed. Add more salt, if needed. Add 1/2 tsp of sugar. (Depending on the tomatoes you're using, you may need to add a little more sugar. Add to taste.) Stir through. Cover and simmer for another 5-7 minutes. 

At this stage your curry should be cooked. Lastly add in the boiled chickpeas. Cook for another couple of minutes till the chickpeas have heated through. 

Garnish with chopped, fresh coriander and serve hot. 

Enjoy!!!
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