Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pavlova


The first time I heard about this dessert was in a Mills and boon novel set in Australia. The heroine in the book, like all the M&B heroines was an excellent cook and she baked Pavlovas for a dinner party. I was mesmerized by the description in the book, it said something about them being light, airy, fluffy, melt in the mouth etc. This name stuck in my head, and last year i looked it up on my birthday and made it for the first time. It was better than I had imagined in my head and was true to its description I read in the book and online.

I love it as it is super simple, very unique, requires very few ingredients. You can make it using a hand mixer, you don't need very fancy equipment.

I followed recipe from the blog, the kitchn: Pavlova recipe.

Ingredients:
Pavlova Shell/ 8 Mini Shells
  1. 4 egg whites
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1 teaspoon white vinegar                           
 Topping: 
Whipped Cream and fresh fruit

Method
Preheat the oven at 275 deg F. Mix sugar with corn starch in a bowl. Eggs should be room temperature.

Take the egg whites in a mixing bowl, add the vinegar. Mixing bowl should be very clean else the egg whites will not rise, there should not be any grease on whip or bowl. Wipe the bowl with vinegar to be doubly sure that its clean.




Once the egg whites start to foam, add a tablespoon of sugar- corn starch mix, and continue whipping the egg whites. Slowly add rest of the mix as you continue whipping in small increments.






Continue whipping...









Whip the egg whites till you see stiff shiny peaks (approximately 25-30 minutes), You should be able to scoop it up in a spoon almost like soft butter. the time taken depends on quantity, so if you haven't whipped eggs before, its good to see a few you tube videos to see how to whip egg whites correctly.





I made these from 6 egg whites, which resulted in 14 shells, as you see        some are bigger than the others. I used foil instead of parchment paper          as I didn't have parchment paper at home. if you are using parchment            paper you can draw circles on reverse side to have same sized shells. I          scooped the meringue with a spoon and smoothened it out and made an        indentation in center create a space to fill in the whipped cream and              fruit.
 Bake on 250 F for 1.5 hours (reduce the temperature from 275 to 250 F)      the shells should be crisp to touch on the outside, after one and half              hour, shut down the oven and keep the door ajar, let the pavlovas cool          down inside the oven. 

    Once they have cooled, they can stored in air tight container           for a few days. One of several things I love about them






Assemble at the time of eating with some whipped cream and         mixed fruits. Enjoy :) 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Stir fry Bhindi (Okra)


Bhindi (Okra) is my favourite vegetable,  and this recipe is my childhood favourite recipe. Once again its a super simple recipe, and this is the kind of food people make at home in India. The part of India, I come from, Gujarat, most dishes do not have any onion or garlic. Of course, every home makes food differently by using different combination of spices/seeds in tempering. So the best part is, there is no wrong recipe. This is how my mom made bhindi most commonly.

Ingredients:
  1. 500 g chopped okra
  2. 1 chopped potato
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera) seeds
  4. ¼ tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
  5. ¼ tsp turmeric
  6. ½ tsp chilly powder
  7. 1 tsp cumin coriander powder
  8. Oil to saute
  9. Salt to taste

Method
  • In pan, Saute cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds, once they are slightly browned, add a pinch of turmeric add chopped potato and salt to taste, cover it let it cook.
  • once potato is semi cooked add chopped bhindi and some salt. Add a couple teaspoons of oil so that bhindi  cooks well. DO NOT COVER after adding bhindi (as it will not lose its stickiness)
  • Cook on medium flame.
  • Once bhindi is almost cooked (in 15-20 min) add  ¼ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp chilly powder and 1 tsp cumin coriander powder and stir everything together.
  • Saute everything for a few minutes and take it off the flame.
  • Enjoy with roti or tortilla, yogurt on the side tastes great with this dish.
Note:
If using frozen okra, cover it as it thaws but then cook without lid. 
Bhindi if cooked correctly will lose all this stickiness, just cook on a medium flame, stir every few minutes and add little oil if you feel there is less oil in the pan.


Stir fry Asparagus


Asparagus is one of the veggies I love, and even though its not a traditional indian vegetable I make it with Indian spices, and I love it!! I ate this style for the first time at my aunt’s home, who has been in USA over 30 years now, and she makes all American veggies like broccoli, zucchini, asparagus etc indian style. As you might have guessed the asparagus is my favorite recipe.

It’s a super easy and quick recipe. The only drawback is if this is the only thing you are making for a meal you’ll need a lot of Asparagus. You may add potato if you like, but I usually don’t do it.

Ingredients:
  1. 500 g chopped asparagus
  2. 1 teaspoon Ajvain (Carom seeds)
  3. 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  4. ¼ tsp turmeric
  5. ½ tsp chilly powder
  6. 1 tsp cumin coriander powder
  7. Oil to saute
  8. Salt to taste

Method:
  • In pan, Saute carom seeds and garlic, once garlic are slightly browned, add chopped asparagus and salt to taste, cover it let it cook, if you feel asparagus is getting burned, add some water, just enough for the asparagus to cook.
  • Once asparagus is semi cooked add ¼ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp chilly powder and 1 tsp cumin coriander powder and stir everything together.  
  • Saute everything for a few minutes and take it off the flame.
  • You can eat it with roti or tortilla.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Nankhatai (Indian cookies)

Diwali brings back memories of childhood, celebrations in India, family so on and so forth. During this hectic day to day life, I forgot that Diwali is approaching, and was too lazy to do anything about it until the very last day! Then all the special moments and memories of Diwali, of making sweets and snacks, drawing rangoli, bursting crackers flooded my mind, I felt like I could let the day pass by without acknowledging it in the way I knew. I wanted to make at least one thing, draw a small rangoli, do something to celebrate, to relive all those years, bring back a knowing smile of things I so miss about India. And so I decided to make nankhatai. I followed the recipe exactly as listed in Ruchi’s recipe and got AWESOME result J

Recipe:
  1. ¾ cup twice all purpose flour
  2. ¾ cup semolina (rava)
  3. ¾ cup halved besan (chick pea flour)
  4. 1 cup sugar
  5. ¾ cup ghee (clarified butter)
  6. Cardamom for garnishing
  7. Pistachio powder for garnishing



Method:
  • Take all dry ingredients together in a bowl
  • Pour semi solid ghee in the bowl and mix it evenly so that you get a nice crumbly mixture
  • Press together the dough to form 2-3 balls
  • Refrigerate the dough for 15- 20 minutes
  • Now take small portion of the dough to make small cookie balls, flatten a bit (do press a lot else it will crack)
  • Keep them in a plate not too close,
  • once you finish using all the dough, make cuts in the center using a knife, sprinkle cardamom powder and/or pistachio powder in the  cuts.
  • Preheat the oven at 375 F
  • Refrigerate the cookie balls it for 15 minutes.
  • Place the cookie balls in a cookie tray and bake for 15-18 min, till they are light brown/ golden brown.
visit Ruchi's site for better pics, I posted my pics, so as to let you know that even if your cookie balls are not as perfect as Ruchi's, you'll get great results!


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tawa Mushroom (Stir fry Mushroom: Indian style)


Mushroom is one of my favourite veggies. I found this recipe on youtube and this is a great recipe for beginners as well. Not a lot of spices needed either. link to the youtube video is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yesVg5Nld1g

Ingredients:
  1. 500 gm Mushrooms
  2. 1 large onion
  3. 2 medium tomatoes pureed
  4. 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  5. 2-3 dried red chilly
  6. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  7. 1/2 tsp garam masala
  8. 2-3 cloves of garlic
  9. 1 tbsp ginger
  10. 1 green chilly
  11. salt to taste
  12. Oil to saute

Method:
  • Roast coriander seeds and red chillies for a 2-3 min, you should get a nice roasted smell. once cooled powder it.
  • take some oil, add the cumin, once cumin is browned, add onions.
  • Saute onions, ginger paste and garlic paste, add some salt.
  • Once onion is translucent, add the spice powder, let the mix roast for a bit.
  • then add green chillies and tomato puree.
  • let the tomatoes get cooked, all the water dried off,
  • then add mushrooms.
  • once mushrooms are cooked, add garam masala. 
  • thats it! 

Notes:
Coriander powder and chilly powder can be used in case coriander seeds aren't handy.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Phirni (rice custard)

Phirni, has been one of my favourite indian desserts. One of my roommates in Pimpri would get phirni from a famous sweet shop in Mohammad Ali Road. That was the first time I had Phirni. Usually I am not fond of sweets made of milk like basundi or kheer, but this is different.

I looked up many online recipes and they are more or less same.
It is rich and creamy and the best part is it is super easy to make!

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups whole milk
  2. 1/4 cup rice
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 1/2 tbsp cardamom powder
  5. 1 tbsp finely chopped pistachio

Method:

  • Soak the rice in water for couple of hours and then grind it to a coarse paste.
  • Heat milk, when it starts to get warm, stir in the rice paste and sugar.
  • Keep stirring it as the milk starts to thicken, you need to keep stirring so that milk doesn't stick to the base of the pan and get burnt. You need to let it cook till the rice is cooked competely and milk has reduced to half, usually takes 15-20 min. Stir in cardamom powder.
  • set it in dessert bowls, garnish with pistachio. 
  • Let it cool down and refrigerate for couple of hours.
  • Enjoy!
Notes:
I garnished it with raisins as that was only dry fruit i had at home at the time. You may add almonds, raisins etc to the phirni as well.
If you would like some color add saffron.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Usal (Misal) Paav



This is one of my favourite maharashtrian dishes....I didn't think much of it when I lived in India. this is something I had it in Pune. Even though I lived in Mumbai which is also in Maharashtra, we dont really get typical maharashtrian cuisine as Mumbai is really about food from all over India and typical fast food that you get best in bombay, like vada paav, paav bhaji, etc etc.

Coming back to Usal Paav, I think I ate it for the first time at lady's home where I used to go to eat my meals. It is lentils or pulses mixed with spicy soup (Kat) and eaten with paav which is indian bread. traditionally moth beans/ matki are used. They are usually sprouted and then used. I have seen different variations of this recipe, where mixed beans are used.

My variation to the traditional recipe is that I make moong bean usal or a mix of moong and masoor (whole) and do not sprout it. Most of the time i decide what I want to make for dinner after I come home from work, and so I cook mostly without pre-preparation. My recipe is a variation of usal paav recipe from veg recipes of india blog, link is here. This is just the Usal recipe, Paav recipe is here.

USAL Recipe:
Ingredients:
  1. 1 cup moong (you may soak it for 8-10 hours, it cooks quicker)
  2. 1 potato boiled
  3. salt
for tempering:
  1. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
  2. 1/4 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  3. little less than 1/4 tsp turmeric
  4. 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
  5. pinch of asofetida (hing)
  6. 4-5 curry leaves
  7. 1 green chilly or dried red chilly
For spicy soup (Kat):
  1. 1 1/2 cup chopped onion
  2. 2 cups chopped tomato
  3. 1/4 cup shredded coconut (i used dried coconut powder)
  4. 1 green chilly
  5. 2 cloves of garlic
  6. 1/2 tbsp ginger paster
  7. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  8. 1 tsp red chilly powder
  9. 2 tsp cumin coriander powder
  10. 1/4 tsp garam masala
  11. salt to taste
for tempering:
  1. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  2. 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  3. pinch of asofetida
  4. 4-5 curry leaves
Method:
  • Boil the moong in pressure cooker, if you have soaked it 2-3 whistles is fine, if not soaked 4-5 whistles. add salt to taste.
  • In a pan, saute onion, garlic, green chilly, and ginger in some oil.once onions are translucent, add the dry spice powders (turmeric, cumin coriander and red chilly) saute for 1-2 min, so that the spices are roasted. add coconut powder and saute for 1-2 min. add salt
  • then add chopped tomatoes, cover it, add some water if too dry or the mix starts sticking to pan.
  • once the tomatoes are softened, make a paste of this in mix in the blender.
  • Now take some oil in pan for tempering, add all the seeds one after the other (mustard first, once it crackles, cumin seeds, curry leaves and asofetida)
  • then add the paste and saute it for 1 min, then add water to make a thin soup.
  • Add garam masala, and let it simmer for 10-15 min.
  • Once the moong is cooked and cooled, in another pan, take some oil and add the seeds for tempering, again the same order, mustard seeds first, once they crackle, cumin seeds, then curry leaves, turmeric powder, chilly powder, asofetida. add cooked moong beans to mix it well. add the chopped boiled potatoes as well. this doesnt have to be too soupy, so if there is extra water, you can use it in the spicy soup instead of water.
  • serving: take some sprouts in a bowl, add some "kat"/ spicy soup, raw onions on the side, squeeze some lemon juice and top if off with some fried savoury mix.
  • enjoy with bread
notes:
  • do not get over whelmed looking at the length of this post. it took me literally half an hour to make the entire dish. you can make it efficiently if you already have boiled moong beans or cook potato and moong bean together in pressure cooker on one of your flames and make the "kat" on the other.
  • for kat too, chop onions first, and start sauteing it, then add chopped garlic, chilly as you chop them, this reduces cooking time over all. Also, none of this needs to be finely chopped as you are going to make the paste in blender.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lemon Pound Cake



The first time I made lemon pound cake, it was a little dry. The second time I made it, i added a little too much lemon in it and made it too sour. So after a year or so I finally mustered courage to try a hand at it again probably because I don't give up so easily or I would say dont give up at all. I give things time to settle and eventually I'll go back to it and try my hand at it again after doing a bit more research, or thinking about it or just experiment some more. I guess the third time was the charm! I found this awesome recipe on Hilah's cooking and with a few modifications I made my cake. This is one of the best pound cake I have made, it has a beautiful texture: soft, buttery, lemony, with just the right amount of sweetness :)

So without much ado here is my recipe:
Ingredients: (for one loaf)
Cake:
  1. 1/2 cup softened butter
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1/2 cup milk
  5. 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1.5 cups flour
  8. lemon zest from one lemon
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  11. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Glaze, optional:
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Method:
  • in a large bowl, whip butter till its creamy, add sugar, then add eggs and continue whisking.
  • In a separate bowl, mix lemon juice and milk and let it sit for 10 min
  • add vanilla, lemon zest, baking soda, baking powder, salt to the butter-egg mixture
  • add flour mix well, the batter is quite thick. 
  • lastly add chocolate chips
  • Preheat the oven for 325 deg F
  • grease the baking dish/ loaf dish with butter and flour it. (sprinkle some flour on the baking dish and rotate it so that a thin layer of flour sticks to the butter all around the baking dish, do this keeping the baking tray over the sink so that excess flour falls in the sink.)
  • Pour the batter in the baking dish and bake it for 45- 60 min, till the knife comes out clean. (dont worry if the cake looks just a little bit more brown than you would like, let it bake till the knife comes out clean)
  • Let it cool for ten minutes, then you can invert it on a plate. 
  • Once its completely cooled you can add the glaze.
For the glaze:
just mix lemon juice and sugar to form a thick paste which is still little runny so it flows down on the cake as you spoon it all over the cake. and it hardens quickly. You can add more sugar to it.

Enjoy the delicous cake!!