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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Molten chocolate cakes

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix (You may also use flour and cocoa powder, I like using this)
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Cocoa powder (for dusting, optional)

Sweet Chocolate Chips (molten)
Or, chocolate syrup
  1. Melt the chocolate chips in a bowl over a saucepan full of boiling water or in the microwave until they have just melted. Whisk till smooth. (You may also use chocolate syrup instead)
  2. Brush 2 ramekins with melted butter/vegetable oil, and fill with the batter (3/4th of the ramekins) made of  1 egg,1/4 cup water and 1/3 cup vegetable oil (whisked first) and Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix (added in installments).
  3. Spoon filling into batter. Spoon remaining batter over filling.
  4. Bake for 15-20 mins at pre-heated  oven at 350 F.
  5. You may flip the cake on a plate or serve from the ramekins, Dust a little cocoa powder, and decorate with raspberries and mint leaves.
Tip: You may also make chocolate leaves, using a rose leaf as a template. For this, you need to wash the leaves thoroughly. Then, coat the shiny sides of the leaves with molten chocolate and let it dry- chocolate side up. When the chocolate is firm, peel off the chocolate leaves and decorate the cake

Also, helpful: How to prevent cake from cracking [eHow]

Beans in Anchovy Sauce

Half a bunch of string beans
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp anchovy black bean sauce (see pic)
Olive oil

  1. Microwave the string beans for 4 mins or until tender.
  2. In a wok, heat olive oil. Add minced garlic (1 tsp).
  3. Now add 1 tsp of anchovy black bean sauce. 
  4. Stir fry till done.
You may also use Chinese broccoli, snow peas,  pea shoots or other greens, instead of beans.

An Italian recipe with anchovy sauce called Fagioli in Salsa DI Acciughe uses pinto beans with anchovy sauce.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chicken Biryani Photo Guide

My obsession with Biryani may be justified by saying this- the perfect home-made Biryani is like the ever elusive Moby Dick. Sometimes, you wonder if it really exists. But that doesn't mean we should quit searching.  Today, I came quite close to perfection, and between the two of us, we finished the contents of the Dutch oven for our Sunday lunch. So, I can safely say it was good.

Here's a step-by-step photo guide to ease your efforts or keep track of your operation flow in the kitchen.

Step 1: Use (premium) long-grained Basmati rice and cook it with a few bay leavesstar anise ,  javitri ( mace),  and a cinnamon stick. Only parboil it. If you use a rice cooker, switch it off just before it is done to prevent it from overcooking later. I use a steamer.

Step 2: In the meantime, soak saffron strands in a little milk. Fry thinly sliced onions (2, big) in a pan with 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp ghee. Continue doing so on low heat until they brown. Then, drain them and let the excess oil/ghee soak in paper towels.

Step 3: (Most essential) Cook the meat (1 lbs, marinated only with turmeric, salt, and lime juice overnight to an hour). You may borrow some of the fried onions; add minced garlic and ginger (about 3 tsp). Fry well in 1 tsp ghee. Use a food processor to make a paste of the fried mixture. Add to the chicken, Cover and cook well with home made Biryani powder [Ingredients (Dry roasted and ground): Cloves, Cinnamon, Green CardamomBlack Cardamom, Black cumin,  Mace,  Star Anise ] or store-bought alternative. The meat should be almost done. Sprinkle some water if needed, don't let the spices burn. Stir often towards the end when the water has dried up to prevent burning. Taste for salt.

Step 4: Add the parboiled rice on top of the meat. Discard the bay leaves and mace. You may use the star anise and cardamom stick. Cover on very low heat in a Dutch oven or use a baking tray to cook in a conventional oven. (I use a copper bottom stew pot now. I put weights on the lid to keep the steam from escaping).

Step 5: Warm the saffron milk in a microwave for 20 secs.  Pour over the rice. For garnishing, use the fried onions and boiled eggs sliced in half. You may also lightly fry the boiled eggs for a richer taste.

I boiled eggs and then forgot to add them since we were in a hurry to gobble it up. :D

Drink lime and mint sprigs enthused water to aid digestion. You may also eat yogurt or raita and ajwain (caraway seeds).

You may also like Crockpot (slow-cooker) Biryani

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Eggplant with tomatoes, Italian breadcrumbs, and Parmesan

.. Inspired by Parmigiana Di Melanzane. (Eggplant Parmesan)

Eggplants, sliced, 1 medium
Tomatoes, diced 1 medium
Italian bread crumbs
Olive oil for baking
Salt to taste
Grated cheese (Parmesan preferred)

  1. Wash and wipe eggplants, trim both ends and cut them into fans or slices. Try to make them evenly thick for uniform cooking. 
  2. Dice tomatoes and stuff them into the eggplant. (Remove seeds if you want. I do)
  3. Add salt, Italian bread crumbs. Bake for 10 mins at 350 F or microwave for 3 mins (Essential, to reduce oil intake later). 
  4. Then, pan-fry at very low heat until brown. Sprinkle generously with grated Parmesan.
  5. Serve warm. You can also use it to stuff wraps.
You may use other soft vegetables like zucchini and string beans to make a similar dish.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tuna Pasta

I used Farfalle (bowtie) pasta for this recipe. You may use any short pasta.

 Canned tuna , drained
Diced celery
Diced onions
Crushed garlic
Cracked pepper
Salt to taste
Pasta sauce (home-made or store bought)
Italian Herbs of choice  (like oregano, parsley)

  1. Boil pasta according to instructions. I like them al dente. Pour into a colander and run cold running water through the pasta, so that the pieces don't stick later.
  2. In a non-stick pan, drizzle a little olive oil, saute the celery and onions. Add the garlic and then the tuna.
  3. Add the pasta sauce, and a little water to prevent it from drying. Add herbs. 
  4. Serve warm or eat it cold.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blueberry crepes

You may use strawberries , raspberries or a mix of your favorite berries.

For the crepe:
  1. Make a batter with 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk and sugar to taste.(You can store the batter for 48 hrs in the fridge)
  2. Add butter to thinly coat a non-stick pan. Pour the batter and swirl the pan to make it evenly thick. Flip. (You can store the crepes in the freezer for later use)

For the filling:
  1. Stew the berries with lemon zest and cinnamon powder on low heat. Add sugar to taste. Let them sit in the syrup.
  2. Spoon out the berry filling onto the crepe and roll the crepes. Place a spoonful on the top if you wish.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vegetables with squash greens

I have been meaning to make this for a while, but something else in the pantry runs into my arms to get cooked first. You can add lentil fritters (daler bora) or vadi. I wanted to make the vadi first, and hence the delay. You can also use store-bought substitutes.

Vadi preparation: 
  1. Wash Urad dal, soak overnight. Remove excess water and grind in a food processor with salt.(I use Magic Bullet). Add Nigella seeds when the paste is done.
  2. Pat oil on a plate and make desired shapes out of the dal paste. Smaller sized ones dry faster but bigger ones are easier to break on drying, if you prefer crumbled vadis.
  3. Dry it in the sun for a day or two, then store in an airtight container
Squash greens (Got it from Mountain View Farmers' Market)
Pumpkin or Acorn squash
Nigella seeds
Mustard oil

  1. Clean and cut the vegetables into small sizes. 
  2. Dry roast the vadis. Keep aside.
  3. Heat mustard oil in a kadhai/wok, add Nigella seeds. Add the potatoes, squash greens and radish first, the softer vegetables like pumpkin later. (You may use eggplant too)
  4. Warm a bowl of water in microwave, add it to the vegetables. Simmer till done.
  5. When they are about done, you may add mustard powder (I use a coffee grinder to grind mustard seeds), slit green chilies.

    My mom uses the squash stalk (kumro'r data), potatoes and vadis  to make fish broth in winter. You just have to add fried fish steaks/fillets

    You may also use Bok Choy for this recipe [Bong Mom's Cookbook].

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Baked rainbow trout with lemon and dill

2 whole rainbow trout, dressed and cleaned
Olive oil/Butter 1 tsp for each fish
Garlic powder/salt
Chili flakes/pepper
Lemons cut in round shapes and some wedges for squeezing
Spice rub of your choice (optional)
Al foil
Dill or Herbs of your choice

  1. Wipe the fish thoroughly with paper towels. Score the fish on the outside so that the spices get through to the bone.
  2. Season the insides and outsides well with garlic salt, chili flakes/pepper, spice rub, dill, lemon juice and lemon rounds. Drizzle olive oil or  use cooking spray. You may also add melted butter.
  3. Wrap in foil and seal any openings to keep the fish juicy.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 F, bake for 20 mins (or 25 mins at 375 F ) or until fish turns flaky when scraped with a fork.
  5. You may also add herbs of your choice and  a wine sauce.
Tip:  Use fragnant lemons for a delightful smell, and fresh trout. Lemon caper in butter is also a good option for baking fish and chicken.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Home made Hummus

  1. Wash and soak chickpeas in water overnight, then boil them until tender with a little salt (you will need very little time in a pressure cooker). Drain them. 
  2. Add the flavor of the hummus: (i) cilantro, (ii) roasted red pepper cut into chunks, (iii) pureed sun-dried tomatoes, or (iv) garlic; stir in lemon juice and salt to taste. 
  3. Pour the chickpeas into a food processor. 
  4. You may add  tahini in 1:4 ratio with the chickpeas, and olive oil.
Serve with pita, use in sandwiches or as a dip for celery and carrots.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Aloo beans posto kaju

For Pu, Aloo bean posto kaju ( potatoes and green beans with poppy seed and cashew nut paste)
  1. Cut beans  into inch long sticks. Dice potatoes into small size.
  2. Microwave them for 3 mins for faster cooking time. 
  3. Heat mustard oil in a wok, Kalonji seeds and 2 broken red chilis (or 2 slit green chilies). Now, add the potatoes, beans, and salt.
  4. Dry grind poppy seeds with a few cashews. Add a little warm water ( microwaved 30 secs) if needed.  Cover and cook on low flame. Add 1/2 tsp ghee at the end and 1 tsp sugar.
    Sometimes, I add organic milk at the end to make it richer.

For simply aloo beans
  1. Cut beans  into inch long sticks. Dice potatoes into small size.
  2. Microwave them for 3 mins for faster cooking time. 
  3. Heat cooking oil in a wok, add jeera or kalonj seeds.  Add the beans, potatoes, turmeric, salt, coriander-cumin powder, amchur (dry mango powder)
  4. Cover and cook on low flame.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Masala Pomfret with soy sauce (pan-fried)

  1. Clean 3 mid-sized pomfrets, remove fins, score with a knife, remove the heads. Rub lemon juice and spice rub (I used dry roasted and ground cumin-coriander-red chili). Fry in olive oil, keep aside.
  2. Dice onions, ginger, garlic and  slit Thai chilis. Fry them in the oil used for frying  the fish. Add the fish. Drizzle soy sauce.
  3. Cook covered in low heat until done, turning twice.
  4. You may add cilantro or green onions or both. Even leeks go well with this recipe. You may add diced tomatoes too.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Achari Chicken

This recipe is an inspiration from Deepa Mashi, my aunt. She asked me to make the Achari spice mix using:
Dry red chilis
Coriander seeds
Mustard seeds
Fenugreek seeds
Fennel seeds
Kalonji seeds

  1. Dry roast and grind all the dry spices except the Kalonji seeds (they turn bitter on grinding and will also turn the chicken black).
  2. Marinate the meat with lime juice, salt, yogurt (alternatively, you can add it later too) and half of  the spice mix. (About 30 mins to overnight)
  3. In a wok/cooker, fry diced onions (optional), minced garlic and garlic. Add the meat. Fry well.
  4. Add diced/canned tomatoes and the remaining spice mix. Taste for salt. Add 3-4 slit green chilies. Ghee if you don't mind the cholesterol.
  5. No extra water is needed for cooking. Garnish with cilantro if you want.
You may also stuff some green chilis with Achari spice and lime juice and add them towards the end for extra heat.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jibe goja (Baked)

I abhor most store-bought sweets and pastries, they are too sugary for my palate. SG loves to gorge on them though. When I made the blueberry pie, he bit into the short crust and said,'It's like jibe goja.' So, I decided to try an experiment : Baked jibe goja using pie crust. (It comes pre-rolled too!) The only caveat is- you have to pay attention the first time to see how well the dough cooks. I found it is optimum at 300 F for 20 mins.

  1. Traditional: Roll all purpose flour with water and ghee/butter into a soft dough. Using a rolling pin, make sheets of dough of even thickness and slash the dough with a knife. Leave about 1 cm in the top and botton and twist it into Elo-jheloAlternatively, you may use a pre-made pie crust dough and cut into equal sizes. This will look like concentric circles.
  2. Bake them at 300 F for 20 mins.
  3. For syrup: Boil a little water , add saffron strands and sugar.
  4. Pour the syrup on the dough in a flat dish and allow the syrup to set in.
  5. You may add crushed pistachios for decoration. You may also fill the dough with nut paste for a richer sweet.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Open-faced/ Single crust blueberry pie

  1. I used a Pillsbury crust for the pie, you may make your own crust.
  2. Thaw the pie crust according to instructions, bake blind (empty) for 10 mins in a round pan at 450 F preheated oven. Sprinkle a little flour on the pan first if you want to prevent it from sticking
  3. Filling: Wash, drain and cook the berries in  saucepan until they pop. Add sugar, lemon zest, and cinnamon powder. Stir.
  4. Pour the berries on the crust. Let it sit for a while if you want(I like it when the crust is still warm). You may serve it with whipped cream. Tastes better than any store bought alternative. 
You may use also apple slices or  fruit compote as filling .