dishingupsomefood

my experiments with fooooood!!!

Cauliflower Kasoorie

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Lately, I’ve been thinking of including some regular food recipes in my blog……maybe stuff that you would make on a regular day. And so, this dish is something that I oft make on regular dinner nights….when I am not in any mood to try out an exotic dish!

Now, why did I choose a Cauliflower dish…..you may ask. Simply because I love that vegetable and I love this dish in particular. 🙂 Did you know that Cauliflower is rich in Vit. C and also a high protein veggie? Flip side is that its apparently high in sugar!

This is a no onion dish and because of the combination of tomatoes and certain spices, it tends to be on the tangy side. The cauliflower florets are deep fried and they add crunch to the dish. So here goes the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 medium cauliflower

2 large tomatoes diced small

2 green chillies chopped

1 tbsp ginger- garlic paste

1 tbsp anardaana powder (dried pomegranate powder)

1 tbsp coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin powder (slightly roasted)

1 tbsp kasoorie methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

Salt to taste

Oil

Method:

Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Deep fry in some oil. Lay the deep fried florets on some kitchen towel to soak up the excess oil. (If you are a cauliflower lover like me…..you may be tempted to eat the deep fried florets….please do not…..best bet would be to keep them away from your line of vision!!)

Add a bit of the oil used for deep frying to a pan. Add the ginger garlic paste, tomatoes and green chillies and fry for about 3-4 minutes on a low flame. Take all the spice powders (but not the kasoorie methi/dried fenugreek leaves) in a small bowl and add just enough water to make it a loose paste. Add this to the pan and fry well. Now add the cauliflower florets and toss to coat well. Take off the flame and add the kasoorie methi and mix well.

Your dish is ready!!

Pictures:

Deep fried florets

Deep fried florets

Fried tomatoes, green chillies and garlic ginger

Fried tomatoes, green chillies and garlic ginger

Added the masala paste

Added the masala paste

Deep fried florets added to the gravy base

Deep fried florets added to the gravy base

Yummy cauliflower kasoorie

Yummy cauliflower kasoorie

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Wrapping Up Some Fish!!

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Sometimes as I get ready to prepare dinner I realize that I have a lot of left over dough for making rotis and not enough veggies to make a curry to go with. At such times, I simply use whatever little bit imagination I do have and prepare wraps. Mostly, they taste good and trust me when I say that you don’t need to be a culinary expert to get them right.

Wraps are the easiest way to eat and enjoy a tasty and yet healthy dinner!! They are such no fuss preparations and can pack so much punch that wraps have become a huge hit at home. There are so many varieties of wraps and really, I think there isn’t a need for even a recipe…..you just need to have some rotis or store bought tortillas at hand, some chopped up fresh veggies, a yogurt dip or any other dip that you like and a very basic idea about what ingredient will go along with what other ingredient, lo! your wrap is ready.

This particular wrap is a very easy to assemble wrap and packs in the goodness of fish as well as a few veggies like bell peppers and lettuce. The crunch of the fresh veggies in this wrap is simply delightful!!

Here’s how I wrapped it up.

Ingredients:

500 gms white fish fillet cut into finger sized pieces (you can buy fresh fillet or the frozen fillet available in large supermarkets)

Bread crumbs (crumbs from about 2 thick slices of bread should do)

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

1 Red bell pepper cut into strips

1 Yellow bell pepper cut into strips

zest and juice of one lime

6-8 tortilla wraps (regular wheat rotis are an equally tasty alternative…..i wanted to have tortilla wraps and so used it)

7 tbsps fresh curd

only Greens of 1 spring onion/ chives (if you can find them)

Salt and pepper to taste

6-8 lettuce leaves or other assorted salad leaves of your choice (i used lettuce….just love the crunchy feel to it)

Method:

Clean and cut the fish fillets into strips/fingers. Combine the breadcrumbs, cumin powder, chilli powder and salt. Now coat the fish fingers in this mixture. Take an oiled baking tray and lay the fish fingers on it and grill for about 4-5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. If your grill needs to be pre-heated please don’t forget to do so before you start to grill the fish fingers!! If u don’t have a grill simply fry them on a griddle with very little oil.

Combine the curd, spring onion greens, salt, pepper, zest and juice of  the lime and set aside. Check for seasoning according to your taste preferences.

Heat the tortillas as instructed on the cover or prepare rotis as you always do.  Lay a lettuce leaf on a roti or tortilla. Then layer with fish fingers, bell peppers and a dollop of the yogurt dressing. If you’d like to add some spice to your wrap then add a dash of hot pepper sauce or some sweet chilli sauce. I tried both and it really gave the wrap just the right amount of hotness!

Roll up and bite into some crunchy mouth watering wraps!!

Pictures:

Grilled fish fingers!

Grilled fish fingers!

Ready to be rolled!!!

Ready to be rolled!!!

Of sweet caramel and syrupy puddings!

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I love food!! And this love for food came largely thanks to my mom ….she’s an amazing cook and used to cook up a lot of great stuff for us. I think she loved seeing our faces light up each time she opened the lid to some new delectable gastronomical delight at the dinner table and that still continues to be her sole goal in life…..to cook for us and see our happy faces on an even happier tummy!! She has this recipe book which holds a massive and impressive collection of recipes that she has tried and tested over the years. Very diligent and extremely organized in the kitchen, she’s also a very tidy person – while I, as you all know by now, am just the opposite….impulsive and disorganized!!   She’d be cooking breakfast, lunch and part of dinner simultaneously, and apart from the pots on the stove, all you’d see on her kitchen counter-top is a ladle holder with a teeny bit of curry staining it and her cutting board with some veggies or some garnishing!! I have never figured how she manages that – each time, every day! My kitchen looks nothing short of a war zone when I’m cooking!!  What amazes me is how despite having had my mom as my mom…..i never inherited her love for cooking or her organization skills!! But all is not lost mommy dearest……I’d like to believe I have inherited a bit of your fastidiousness. I like to have everything from pots and pans to bottles and boxes absolutely clean and spotless. Though my kitchen may remind you of a tornado hit area whilst I’m cooking, I do like to see my kitchen squeaky clean afterwards. I am trying and God knows I’m trying real hard!! 🙂

Coming back, there’s never been a dull moment in mom’s kitchen and desserts have been a constant there. She would bake amazing cakes, muffins, buns, breads, puddings and pies. She still bakes, and just a few days back she told me of this amazing date cake that she tried her hand at….yum yum yum!! I will definitely be sharing the recipe here soon. If there’s one thing I miss terribly about being a child – it is eating the amazing stuff she makes. Now I need to wait for her to visit me or for me to visit her. Such are the tragedies of life!!

This post is dedicated to my mommy and the one dessert that came most from her kitchen……the all time classic – caramel pudding! The saccharine layer of brown caramel with the mushy, wobbly pudding on top is a favourite among desserts. In addition to my mom’s recipe, I also came across another recipe for caramel pudding. What I’ve done is tried a combination of the two and tried to modify a step or two here and there! So here goes the recipe for caramel pudding.

Ingredients:

For the custard

1 litre milk

1/2 cup sugar

6 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

For the caramel

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup water

Method:

Boil the milk with the sugar in it. Dissolve the sugar completely in the milk.

To prepare the caramel, add the sugar and water to a wide bottomed pan on medium heat. Wait for the sugar to start dissolving. With caramel the thumb rule is Never stir, always swirl. Keep swirling the pan to get the sugar moving. The water may not seem enough, but please resist the urge to add more water. The only reason you add water is to get the sugar to start melting easily. You’ll see that the water will soon evaporate as the sugar starts to caramelise. Once the sugar starts melting keep swirling the pan until the mixture turns an amber colour. (Statutory warning: The smell of caramel emanating from the pan will remind you of light and fluffy candy and you may be tempted to taste it, but desist from that urge – you will burn your tongue! :-)) Without delay, take a flat bottomed baking dish and pour the caramel into it. Swirl the baking dish immediately to coat the entire base. Let it cool completely. (See tips on how to handle caramel)

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks (See tips for how to). Beat the egg whites in a bowl until the mixture turns frothy. The more you beat the egg whites the better. What I found is that when I beat the egg whites separately, the final mixture ends up really frothy and when you bake it, the froth on the top browns and gives a nice sort of texture to the pudding. Now add the yolks, vanilla essence and hot milk with sugar to the egg white mixture and beat again until well blended. Heat this mixture for about 5 minutes on the stove.

Now pour this custard mixture into the baking dish with the caramel base. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes or until the pudding is set. To check if the pudding is set, simply stick a knife into the pudding and if the knife comes out clean then your pudding is ready.

Indulge!!

Tips:

1. Remember caramel starts to solidify as soon as you take it off the heat, so have your baking dish ready and resist the urge to dip any kind of spoon or spatula into the caramel. This will spoil the base and the caramel will stick like glue to the spoon/spatula. To get the entire caramel from the pan into the baking dish use a silicone spatula if you wish. If you do use a metal spoon/spatula, you may have a bit of a mess but nothing life threatening!! 😉 The leftover caramel on your pan and spatula will crystallize. You may painstakingly try getting it off the pan with something blunt (…….and eat it like toffee, which is what I did…. 😉 ) OR you may clean it with some really hot water first and then some soap.

2. Separating the white from the yolk is really simple. Use a yolk separator if you have one – or like me, if you do not, then simply break the egg in half and, while keeping your hands above a pan all the while, keep transferring the yolk from one half of the egg shell to the other. The egg white will keep dripping down into the pan and the yolk will remain in the egg shell half. Transfer the yolk into a bowl. Please do remember to always wash your eggs before trying this. You never know what misfortunes the poor egg had to endure before settling comfortably on the egg tray at home!!

Pictures:

Amber caramel

Amber caramel

Caramel poured into baking dish and set to cool

Caramel set to cool

Egg, milk and sugar mixture - nice and frothy

Egg, milk and sugar mixture – nice and frothy

Pudding set to be baked

Pudding set to be baked

Heaven!

A slice of Heaven!

(Vegan) Quiche with Spinach and Mushroom

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This is one recipe that I was a little hesitant to put up on my blog! The dilemma was the result of mixed reactions to this quiche with spinach and mushrooms that I tried a few weeks ago. While 3 out of 5 liked the dish, 2 of us didn’t really enjoy it much!! And one of the two who voted against the dish was me!! Although my brother, who has traveled to Europe and spent a good 4 weeks backpacking all around there, insisted that the quiche tasted quite authentic, I chose to ignore his statements as something said out of biased love for a sibling! For some reason, I was really upset about the dish.

Nevertheless, this recipe does go up on my blog for two reasons, one, because there may be others who may like this dish after all and two, as a reminder never to jump into a recipe before reading it carefully!! Often I am in such a hurry to try out a different recipe that I forget to read the recipe closely. Sometimes its not just the recipe that gives you your final dish. Its the understanding of the cuisine, the methods involved or sometimes even an understanding of the ingredients that finally add up to making a good dish. Especially when it comes to trying out recipes from different cuisines, if you want an authentic or close to authentic version of the dish, then it is essential that you read a bit about the dish and the cuisine before trying it out.

I didn’t do any of the above before I tried this quiche and so I skipped some very vital information – which I did manage to acquire albeit a little late!! “Quiche” is a part of French cuisine and essentially consists of a pastry base with filling consisting primarily of a custard (a mixture of eggs, milk and cream) with vegetables or meat and cheese. However, this quiche recipe here is for the pure vegetarians (which I’m not and which you’ve probably guessed is the part of the recipe that I missed!!) or for those who may be allergic to eggs. Instead of the custard this recipe uses white sauce for the filling along with spinach and mushrooms. I could’ve easily made the authentic quiche using eggs, milk and cream but my impulsiveness resulted in me ending up with this quiche! I promise you, i’ll come back soon with the original quiche soon!! Until then, here’s how I made this vegan quiche.

Ingredients:

For the base:

2 cups flour (maida)

90 gms cold butter

1 tsp salt

For the white sauce: Refer to my post  Ah! Lasagna! https://dishingupsomefood.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/ah-lasagna/

1 1/2 cups mushrooms thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups spinach, blanched and chopped up fine

2-3 cloves garlic crushed

Red chilli flakes to taste

1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Salt to taste

Olive oil

Method:

For preparing the base, sieve the flour with salt. Add cold butter to the flour and start mixing with your fingers. Don’t heat the butter because the heat from your fingers will slowly melt the butter and the mixture will turn into the consistency of bread crumbs. Now add 4-5 tbsps of cold water and start mixing it to slowly form a dough. The dough is meant to be really tight so don’t be tempted to add more water and make it soft. The thumb rule is to add water bit by  bit to make the dough. You may use more water so long as you don’t pour all of the water in one go and spoil the dough.

Cover the dough with some cling film and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then roll out the dough and line a pie tin with it. If you don’t have a pie tin, use any baking dish with low and slightly slanted sides. I rolled out the dough to a medium sized circle with my rolling pin, put it into the baking dish and then I simply used my fingers to spread the dough onto the sides and base of the dish. The quantity of dough that this recipe yields will cover a medium sized pie tin (see pic of final dish to get an idea).

Once you’ve spread it onto the pie dish, prick the whole base with a fork. Remember, pricking the base is very important. This is done to prevent the base from fluffing up when you put it into the oven. Set it in the refrigerator once again for about 10-15 mins. Then take it out and bake it in a preheated oven at 200 deg C for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic, red chilli flakes and mushrooms and saute for a minute or two until the water from the mushrooms has completely evaporated. See my tip on cooking mushrooms in an earlier post – https://dishingupsomefood.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/farfalle-with-veggies-and-pesto-dressing/  

Now add the blanched spinach and saute again for a few minutes. (see tips) Add salt and season according to your taste.

By now the base should have baked. Take it out and fill with a layer of mushroom and spinach and then pour the white sauce over the filling. Spread the grated Cheddar cheese as the final layer on the top.

Now bake this in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for about 20-25 minutes until you see the cheese on top has browned well.

Tips:

1. One of the easier methods of blanching is to slowly pour boiling water all over washed spinach. I tried this and the spinach blanched just fine.

Pictures:

 

Dough for the base

Dough for the base

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Rolled out

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Set onto pie dish and pricked

 

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Baked base!

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The filling gone in!

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White sauce and cheese on top

How it turned out finally

How it turned out finally

A piece gone!

A piece gone!

 

 

 

Syrian lemon n ginger chicken

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Sometimes you reach a stage when using a particular item of food becomes a yawn!! Its like you’d like to eat that food item but you are simply so bored of using the same old recipes to prepare the item that you’d rather not prepare it!! I’d reached that stage with chicken!!

It was a weekend and weekends are extremely lazy days for me especially when it comes to cooking. Well….honestly, yes, any day is a lazy day for me when it comes to cooking!! But on weekends I turn extra lazy……..so breakfast is at 11 and lunch at 4 and dinner…….never mind!! (I know, that confession there must’ve called for a lot of head shaking and exclamations of “tsk tsk”! But you’d agree that if you’re wired a particular way then you are so….much rather accept it and get moving!) Anyway, we’d finished breakfast and I had to start planning for lunch. My daughter loves chicken and I’d had some fresh chicken delivered home from this shop nearby. I’d cleaned it and was about to start preparing some standard chicken curry when at that moment I simply went blank. I couldn’t get myself to make any of the same old chicken curries that I knew of. I had to get hold of a new recipe…..i just had to!! And this time I did not open my box of recipes but instead sought out a new recipe from the internet. (God bless Tim Berners-Lee!!)

I knew I wanted to use lots of ginger and lemon in my chicken coz I’d never prepared a chicken dish with those. As usual Google threw up some several hundred thousand results (…….no thanks there to the world wide web for adding more confusion to an already confused brain!!) and I had to painstakingly run through several of those recipes to see which one would be THE ONE!! Anyhow, I persevered and there my dearies! was this one particular recipe that caught my eye – that really stood apart from the other recipes…….Syrian Lemon and Ginger Chicken. There was this one ingredient in the recipe that really did it for me….and it was cinnamon powder!! Yup…..the recipe called for marinading the chicken with cinnamon powder and that really intrigued me. How would chicken marinaded with cinnamon powder taste like?? Well, there was only one way to know….to make it!! Yup….so here goes the recipe (with some minor modifications!)

Ingredients:

2 tsps cumin powder

2 tsps cinnamon powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsps pepper powder

Salt

Olive oil

2 onions sliced

2 tomatoes roughly chopped

5-6 cloves garlic crushed

2 in. piece of ginger julienned or cut into matchsticks

2 red chillies slit lengthwise

1 lemon, juiced and zested (see tips)

2 tbsps honey

2 cubes vegetable stock powder

A few sprigs Coriander

Fresh Thyme leaves or dried thyme (I used dried thyme)

A fistful of black currants

Method:

Marinade the chicken with salt, turmeric, pepper, cumin powder and cinnamon powder. I just can’t tell you how exotic this marinade smells…. the cinnamon really does the trick!! Keep aside for atleast half an hour. With marinades, the rule is always – the longer the better!! But in my case, my marinades never end up longer than half an hour to an hour at the most!! (Thanks of course to my impeccable meal planning! Chuckle!)

Heat some olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the chicken pieces. Make sure that the chicken is just browned. Turn the chicken over until well browned on all sides. Keep aside.

Now heat the remaining olive oil in the same pan and add the onions, ginger, garlic and red chillies. Stir fry until the raw smell is gone. Add the tomatoes, thyme, honey, lemon juice and zest, stock cubes, currants and enough water and cook for a minute or two.

Return the chicken to the curry and cook on a medium flame with the lid on for about 10-12 minutes. Then open the lid and cook again for another 10-15 minutes until the chicken turns soft and the gravy has reduced a bit. Check for seasoning and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with some white rice………….sublime!!!

Tips:

1. When you zest a lemon or other citrus fruit, be careful not to zest the white parts of the skin. The white parts are bitter and only the yellow or orange parts of the skin have the distinct citrus flavour to them.

2. When a recipe calls for frying any meat or even sea food before adding it to a curry make sure not to completely cook them on the pan, since they’ll cook in the curry too for a while; and meat or sea food tends to go all chewy and/or dry if you over cook it.

Pictures:

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Ginger julienned- with chopped tomatoes, sliced onions, garlic n red chillies

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Marinated chicken….divine!

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Chicken browned and ready!!

Sublime!!

Sublime!!

Crazy about Crepes!!

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The other day my brother took us out to this amazing place called “Mrs. Kaur’s Crepes n More”. It was like the good old times – Mom, Dad, my brother and me….and of course my dear daughter in tow. 🙂 Poor hubby was busy at work on a weekend and we were having fun…..I know, how mean!! But really….it wasn’t like that….it was a Saturday, we were out and it was lunch time….we had to eat you see!!

So, we were at Mrs. Kaur’s  and oh boy!!! what a time we had……………………..eating crepes, crepes and more crepes. 😀 We devoured crepes with chicken filling, crepes with spiced roast veggies, divine dessert crepes with lemon ‘n’ honey, crepes with chocolate and bananas and crepes with caramelized apples. Oh! and did I forget to mention that they also served some amazing waffles and we dug into a huge waffle with bananas and honey and chocolate!! I bet we looked like a bunch of gluttons. Burp!! 😀

Since then I’ve been thinking of making crepes at home….and you know me, once I start thinking about making something then I just can’t stop but keep thinking and thinking and thinking until I’m so sick of thinking that I probably never make it!! Well, thank God it was different this time. I guess I stopped thinking just in time!!

Crepes can be served as dessert crepes or savoury crepes. It really depends on your choice and taste. Dessert crepes have sugar in the batter, whereas the savoury ones only have salt…..but of course, you already guessed that!! Both dessert and savoury crepes taste yum and you can choose from a wide range of fillings! I used honey and lemon in my dessert crepes, but you can use fruit preserves and cream, caramelized apples, bananas or any other fruits of your choice. Crepes are really easy to make and if you’ve ever made pancakes at home then you’ll know that crepes are just another version of pancakes. So here’s how I made dessert crepes.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour/maida

1 1/2 cup milk

4 eggs (you can reduce the number of eggs or skip the eggs completely if you are a vegan….the crepes turn out just fine! :-))

2 tbsps melted butter

2-4 tbsps caster sugar (I say 2-4 here coz you can vary according to how sweet you want your crepe to be. I used about 4 tbsps)

1 tsp of vanilla essence

1/4 tsp salt

Honey/sugar to sprinkle

Lime juice

some whipped cream and chocolate sauce for topping

Method:

Sift the flour and salt. In a mixing bowl whisk the milk, eggs, sugar and butter. Once the wet ingredients are whisked well, slowly start adding the flour and start whisking again until all of the flour is used up and the mixture gets to a nice pouring consistency (see tips). Let the mixture sit for an hour or more…the more the better.

Heat a griddle or any flat base non-stick pan and lightly brush oil on it. Then pour one ladle full of the mix onto the pan and swirl the pan such that the mixture coats the base of the pan. Once the edges start browning a little bit you have to slowly flip over the crepe and brown the other side too.  Once your crepes are ready, drizzle a bit of honey and lemon juice on them and then fold each one into a quarter and serve with cream and chocolate sauce topping.!! Yummm……….

The above quantity makes about 6-8 crepes, depending on the size of your griddle or pan!

Tips:

1. Although you may be tempted to add the flour right at the beginning and whisk everything together, don’t do it because sometimes if you do so the flour does not blend well and you’ll see tiny lumps in the mixture. Mixing the wet ingredients first and then sifting in the flour is better! 🙂

2. The consistency of the crepe batter should be smoother than that of dosa batter, such that, when you pour the crepe batter on the pan, the batter should spread evenly and smoothly around the base when you simply the swirl the pan.

Pictures:

Batter on the pan

Batter on the pan

Crepe flipped over!!

Crepe flipped over!!

Fish Mappas

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Fish is a staple food in the diets of most people from Kerala and so it is at our home! We buy fish as often as we can – the only trouble being that we eat sea fish, and getting sea fish here is an effort!! We’ve got to plan early to get to this particular market which is easily three quarters of an hour from where we stay! But if you are a non-vegetarian then you’ll definitely understand when I say that the trip is absolutely worth it, especially if you can get some fresh fare!!

Apart from the fact that fish tastes great, its a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. So those of you who love your hearts…..your salvation lies in fish….vegetarians please excuse – you have a whole lot of other sources of Omega 3-s!! 🙂

Fish preparations in Kerala are innumerable and they vary according to the region and culture in each part of the state!! There is Fish Curry, Fish fry, fish cutlets and what not. Fish curry has several versions – with coconut and spice paste, with roughly ground coconut and spices, with gamboge/kokam, with coconut milk, with gamboge and coconut milk and sometimes with neither!! And I almost forgot….we also use green mango/raw mango to make fish curry at times.

This recipe that I am writing about here is more like a stew. We make an almost similar version with chicken too. Anyway….here goes the recipe for Fish Mappas.

Ingredients:

1/2 kg fish (pearl drop, salmon or pomfret would work…i used pomfret!)

1 large onion chopped

1 large tomato sliced

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 cloves

1 small piece cinnamon

A large pinch of fenugreek/methi seeds

Coconut oil (you could use regular sunflower oil too….but coconut oil will give it a distinct Kerala taste!!)

a handful of curry leaves

8-10 cashew nuts

1 cup thick coconut milk

1 1/2 cups water

Set 1

4-5 cloves garlic

1 in. piece ginger

2-3 medium sized green chillies

Set 2

1 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp pepper powder

salt

Method:

Make a paste of the cashew nuts and mix it with the coconut milk.

Marinade the fish with Set 2 ingredients and keep aside for about 15 minutes…..the longer the better….but 15 mins was good enough.:-) Next, shallow fry the marinated fish in some oil. Make sure the fish does not completely turn brown. The idea is to fry it just enough and then let it cook in the curry.

In a clay pot (believe me….fish curry tastes completely different when cooked in a clay pot) heat the coconut oil and splutter the mustard seeds in it. Add fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, cloves and cinnamon. Then add the crushed ginger. garlic, green chilli and the onions. Once onions turn translucent, add the tomatoes and salt and fry again for a few minutes or till the tomatoes turn soft. Add the coconut milk and water and bring it to a boil. Add the fish pieces to this curry and close the pot and cook until the fish is cooked through and the gravy turns to a nice consistency like that of a stew. Check seasoning and serve!!

We love to eat this curry with some bread or appams or even some plain white rice!

Pictures:

Pomfret with the marinade!

Pomfret with the marinade!

Garlic, ginger and green chillies crushed in a mortar!

Garlic, ginger and green chillies crushed in a mortar!

Added the tomatoes to the  sauteed onions and ginger -garlic-green chilly paste.

Added the tomatoes to the sauteed onions and ginger -garlic-green chilly paste.

Added the coconut milk to the mixture

Added coconut milk to the mixture

Tex-Mex Rancher’s Eggs

Egg is a huge favourite in our house! All of us love egg….especially my dear hubby and my dear daughter!! 🙂 You give them eggs in any form and they’ll gobble it up in no time. The easiest way to please my hubby is to make an omelette for him…he he….i know, so easy, right?!! There are times when I am totally clueless about what to make for dinner and if all that I can come up with is egg parantha with ketchup (the simple recipe for which is coming soon), my dear daughter and hubby are more than happy to wipe their plates clean!!

This recipe is not really something new. My mom has been making a more Indian version of this recipe for a long time. I remember from when I was a kid, my mom used to make this dish and my dad, my brother and me used to devour it within minutes with some nice fresh  bread. It was a great favourite!! (Hmmm….those were the days….when mom used to cook and I used to just eat!!) In fact, when i found this recipe in my treasure chest (that’s right….the one with the hoarded recipes!) I was quite pleasantly surprised to see that it was a Tex-Mex version of my mom’s “Egg Masala”.

Now, the Rancher’s Eggs or Huevos Rancheros as it is called in Mexico is originally nothing but fried eggs served on tortillas topped with an onion-tomato-chilli sauce. I guess the old recipe was modified and this present one devised to make life much more easier for us and yet retain a lot of goodness! 🙂 Bell peppers, by the way, are a great source of vitamins.

The good thing about this recipe as well as mom’s Egg Masala is that most of the ingredients are usually available at home at most times or quite easily available at your nearby green grocers. In fact, mom’s recipe requires nothing more than tomatoes and onions and some masalas to go.  And its so easy to make that on a relatively busy day you can make this in a matter of minutes without compromising on taste! Read on to get the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 red bell pepper sliced into strips

1 green bell pepper sliced into strips

1 yellow bell pepper sliced into strips

4-5 tomatoes sliced

1 red onion sliced

1-2 red chillies or more if you like it spicy (you can substitute this with some red chilli powder or chilli flakes too)

Vegetable Oil

4 eggs

Salt to taste

Method:

Heat the oil in a wide bottomed pan and add the sliced onions. Once they turn translucent, add the bell peppers and fry for a minute or two. Then add the tomatoes and chilli flakes and keep frying until the mixture turns really soft. Now spread the mixture on the bottom of the pan and press it down to form a sort of firm layer at the bottom. Now make 4 evenly spaced holes in the mixture. Break open one egg into each of the four holes you’ve made in the mixture. To get it right, what I did is, I first separated the yolk and then slowly poured one yolk at a time into the holes and then poured the white all over the base. Now close the pan and cook until the egg is completely set. Cut the base in 4 and serve with some lightly toasted garlic bread. Yum!

Mom’s Egg Masala variant:

In this variant, all you need is some chopped tomatoes (4-5), chopped onions (1-2) , chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and a bit of jeera (cumin) powder and salt to taste. Fry these ingredients until the tomatoes and onions are completely soft and cooked through and have absorbed all the masalas. Then simply break open the eggs on top of this mixture. Close and cook until eggs are set.

Pictures:

Bell Peppers…..such wonderful colours!!

The pits all ready to have eggs dumped into them!!

Two of the yolks broke!! 😦

Eggs all set n ready!

Ah! Lasagna!

My father keeps complaining that I never make my special dishes when he and my mom are around or are visiting us. Every time I try out a new dish I send them a picture of the final dish just to tease my dad. 🙂 So this time when I sent him a picture of the couscous pulao that I tried recently he immediately sent me a text saying that I ‘better stock up to prepare all those exotic dishes’ once they arrive home! He he!

The last time I’d gone to my parent’s place I’d made Lasagna for everyone at home and my dad has been asking me to make it for him again for a very long time now. So this time when they visited, the first dish that I decided to make for dad was Lasagna. Now Lasagna is a great comfort food………….well not of the nostalgic kind but simply of the indulgent kind!!! Anything with cheese……….lots and lots of gooey gooey cheese gives me great comfort. 😉 I love double cheese pizzas, cheesy pastas, cheese enchiladas, mac and cheese, cheesy baked vegetables (now those are some awesome dishes and I’ll soon be trying out some and putting up the recipes) and pretty much anything with a whole lot of cheese on it!! And since we are on the topic of comfort food…..I’ve got to tell you that I also love anything with lots of butter in it…..umm..just in case you wanted to know. 🙂 So getting back to the Lasagna…here goes the recipe:

Ingredients:

For the Lasagna and its Filling:

About 250 gms Lasagna Sheets (These sheets are readily available in the market. Now don’t fret when i say “250 gms of Lasagna sheets”. It should be anywhere between 9-12 sheets of lasagna or enough sheets to make 3 layers in a rectangular baking dish.)

3 spring onions, chopped up

3 ripe medium sized tomatoes chopped

1 medium carrot diced

A handful of green beans chopped

1 cup of mushrooms chopped

For those of you who do not like too many veggies in your dish, you can stop here. For those who are willing to risk it…you can add the veggies mentioned below too!!  I did, and the lasagna turned out just fine!! 🙂

1 small capsicum chopped

Half a yellow bell pepper chopped

Half a red bell pepper chopped

1 small broccoli chopped up

2 tbsps Olive Oil

1 cup of stock (vegetable or chicken stock cubes do the trick)

1 cup of grape juice (red wine should be ideal if you have it at home!)

2-3 tbsps of store bought tomato puree

Parmesan or other processed cheese

500 gms minced meat (this is for those of you who’d like to try the non vegetarian lasagna….though please do remember to reduce the quantity of veggies that you use)  

For the Bechamel Sauce (nothing but white sauce…..I just like to use the more exotic nomenclature 🙂):

2 1/2 cups milk

Half a small onion sliced

6-7 peppercorns

1 bay leaf (tej patta)

2 1/2 tbsps flour (maida)

2-3 tbsps butter

A pinch of nutmeg powder (jaiphal)

Method:

Preparing the lasagna sheets

First and foremost you need to get your Lasagna sheets ready. Like you cook any other pasta, Lasagna sheets need to be cooked in salted boiling water until they are al dente (Look up my post with the Farfalle and pesto sauce recipe to know what is al dente.) Don’t go by what the pack may say about placing them as it is into the baking dish. I did that the first time and my sheets didn’t cook properly. I had uncooked sheets in my lasagna. Cooking the sheets also ensures that your final lasagna turns out really soft and gooey. 🙂 Once cooked al dente immediately immerse the sheets into cold water. Make sure that you keep the sheets separate, or else they may end up sticking to each other!!

Making the Bechamel Sauce:

Add the bay leaf, peppercorns, sliced onions to the milk and bring to a boil. Switch off and let the milk cool. Strain it and keep milk aside. Heat the butter in a pan and slowly start adding the flour to it one bit at a time, while stirring continuously. Make sure its just a bit at a time or else the consistency will not be right. Keep adding flour and stirring continuously. Switch off the gas and then start adding the milk to this mixture and again keep stirring. Add very little milk at a time or the flour mixture will not dissolve well. Keep stirring until the flour has dissolved completely. Now get the pan back on the stove on a low flame and keep stirring the sauce until it thickens in consistency. Once done, switch off and add the nutmeg powder to it. Your Bechamel sauce is ready!

For the Filling:

Simply heat the olive oil. Add the onions and fry until they turn translucent. Add the beans and carrots and fry for a minute. Add the green, red and yellow bell peppers now and again fry for a minute. If you are using the minced meat then this is when you need to add it along with the chopped tomatoes and fry the meat until its colour changes to a light brown. Add the puree, stock, grape juice, salt and stir well and wait for the filling to start bubbling. Check seasoning. I always add a little extra salt to the filling. If not, your final dish may end up a little bland with all the pasta and the white sauce.

How to lay the lasagna:

Take a rectangular greased baking dish and first spoon in the filling to create a layer at the bottom of the dish. Now lay the lasagna sheets on top of this layer. Pour the Bechamel sauce over the lasagna sheets and repeat with the filling, then sheet and the sauce over it, until you have about 3 layers of filling, sheet and Bechamel sauce. The last layer on top should be of Bechamel sauce. Grate a generous amount of cheese, Parmesan or your standard pizza cheese, over the top and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Centigrade for about 30 minutes or until you see the top layer of cheese all brown and bubbling.

Lasagna is great as a one dish meal. It tastes yum and almost everyone likes it. Plus, you have the option to make it vegetarian or non-vegetarian. I like to add a lot of veggies because its a sure shot way to get in as many veggies as possible into my daughter’s tummy….all camouflaged under the lasagna and the cheese…..of course since we are non-vegetarians anything that has non-veg in it goes down well with my li’l one!! 🙂

Enjoy your Lasagna!!

Pictures:

Spring onions, carrots and beans in the pan!

Added the mushrooms, broccoli and peppers

The Bechamel Sauce….white sauce!!

The final Lasagna…took a picture just in time….before it got wiped out!! He he he!!

Couscous Pulao with Chickpeas and Harissa sauce

Couscous is something I recently discovered. I always thought of couscous as the anglicized version of khas-khas (poppy seeds)…….how far from the truth I was! Its only in recent times that I figured out what couscous really is….all thanks to MasterChef…..khee khee :).
For the uninitiated, couscous is a kind of semolina made from durum wheat. Couscous is quite popular in the Middle East and is used aplenty in Middle Eastern cuisine. From the several recipes that I’ve gone through, i’ve seen that couscous is commonly served with meat and/or veggies.

Couscous is readily available in most gourmet stores and available in several flavours too. It has to be then prepared by adding boiling water or stock to it and letting it sit and soak all the water. Once prepared it turns all fluffy.

Now, the first time I prepared couscous was about a month ago when a dear friend and her hubby visited us. More about that visit and my couscous preparation for them in my next post. But one thing about that preparation that bears a connection to this more recent preparation was that the first time I had had couscous delivered home from a gourmet store nearby and unfortunately for me they delivered mint flavoured couscous!! Now, mint is not a flavour that I am very fond of and I was really upset about it. 😦 That very evening I’d decided that I had to get hold of a pack of regular couscous – the non flavoured kind – and prepare it and more importantly eat it! 😉

Now I didn’t want to prepare the same recipe that I’d tried earlier and so what do i do?? But of course…………..I dive into that divine box full of recipes and spend an hour looking for couscous preparations. To my luck, I find there a lovely, healthy, fresh and easy-to-make recipe for Couscous Pulao with Chickpeas. I rarely plan my meals and so its huge if I do get hold of all the ingredients given in a recipe!! 😛 And what a surprise that I had available with me almost all the ingredients for this recipe!

So here goes the recipe:

2 cups cooked chickpeas (kabuli chana)

1 cup stock (you could use vegetable or chicken stock – i always use chicken stock cubes from maggi)

2 red chillies

3 pods garlic

1/2 tbsp roasted whole coriander seeds

1/2 tbsp roasted fennel seeds (also known as saunf – now the original recipe I think calls for using caraway/shahjeera but I didn’t have any shahjeera so I used fennel seeds instead and I must confess here that I forgot to roast it!! :-P)

2-3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

Juice of one sweet lime (musambi) or if not available, lime should do with a pinch of sugar maybe

1 cucumber diced into medium sized pieces

2 ripe tomatoes chopped up or 1 cup of cherry tomatoes (I used tomatoes)

1 large onion chopped fine

250 gms couscous (the packs available in stores are usually of 500 gms so about half that pack should do)

Salt to taste

Method:

Take couscous in a bowl. Bring the cup of stock to a boil and pour over the couscous such as just to cover it. Cover with lid an let this sit for a minute or two.

Meanwhile, lightly saute the onions and tomatoes in some olive oil. Now, the original recipe does not call for this – it merely says that you have to add the onions and tomatoes to the couscous. I do not like the taste of raw onions and so decided to saute them until they turned just glossy. And then added the tomatoes and just tossed them for a minute. Do not fry them for longer. The idea was to just soften them.

Now combine the roasted coriander, fennel, garlic, chillies, sweet lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt in a blender. This dressing or sauce is apparently called “harissa” in some cuisines around the world. The original “harissa”, I believe, is a slightly thicker paste with several kinds of hot chilly peppers ground to a paste with ingredients like garlic, lime juice, olive oil etc. The one in this recipe is much lighter and more saucy-ish than paste-ish! While writing this post it struck me that maybe I should try adding a red bell pepper to the harissa while blending, which may lend the sauce some thickness to its consistency while not increasing the spice content. Red and yellow bell peppers are sweeter than their green counterpart.

Check on the couscous to see if its done. Fluff it up a bit with a fork.

Now simply add the sauteed onions and tomatoes, cooked chickpeas, cucumber and the dressing to the couscous and combine well.

Garnish with herbs of your choice like coriander leaves or basil leaves or both or any other herb of your choice. I used none….he he he… 😀 coz I had none available…..i told you i wasn’t much of a planner.

Dig in!!  Oh and you may have this as is or with some chicken or vegetable stew. We ate it as is and loved all of it….the distinct flavour of fennel and lemon juice in the harissa, the squidgy feel of the chickpeas in your mouth alongside the fresh crunchiness of the cucumber….it was yum!!

Note: This recipe serves 3-4 adults

Pictures: Sorry guys, I have just one picture of the final dish for this post.  One of the reasons I haven’t documented this dish in pictures is also because it was after I prepared this dish that I really decided to start blogging and had never before thought of taking pics of the stages of preparation! 🙂

How the Pulao looked finally!

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