December 19, 2012

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes by Rachel and Emil George - Happy Anniversary you two!


After a month of no blogging, I am back with a post by the love birds of the family - my sister Rachel and her husband, Emil! Happy Anniversary you two. After completing a wonderful four years of marriage, you have proved to all of us that to be successfully married, you need to be best friends first ;) . Rachel and I have shared a special bond in baking since our school days. We used to sneak into the kitchen, go through mom's recipes and cook up something almost everyday. She is a wonderful cook just like the rest of the family and this post just a glimpse of her culinary talents. What makes her cooking special is, she does it with so much passion and love for the person for whom she is making it. To prove that you, here is Rachel and Emil, with their Lemon Meringue Cupcakes with oodles of love.
When Serah asked me to write a guest post on her blog, I wondered if she was out of her head.. “Me??!! I am not a blogger/writer/good articulator of words,….then why me, Lord”!


I bake for the love of ‘feeding’ my loved ones especially that lovable walking eating machine called my husband. Me cooking is definitely the way to his heart.And this is what he has to say about my culinary experiments.

 “I love the smell of bakes when I enter the house… and I know I’m HOME. I love the fact that she loves to bake. I see the earnest in the way she goes about it, the clatter of vessels, with her baking artillery all arranged appropriately. I am allowed a gist of how the flavors could turn out to be because she keeps reaching out to me to taste and offer opinions on the mix. It’s funny how baking isn’t just about how the end objective tastes; it is significantly about how it looks as well. And with a part time photographer for a husband, in spite of the fact that I don’t fancy food photography, she [pleasantly] nudges/nags me on. With her brand of cooking, it really isn't difficult, because the bake looks great in any angle. Her irritating attention to detail and the clarity of thought in how she wants it to look can get on my nerves, but hey, nobody said marriage was a bed of roses."

You will need:

Cupcakes
  • 1 cup pure cream
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
Lemon curd
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 100g butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolk
  • Meringue
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
Method
Cupcakes

1.Preheat oven to 180'C. Place 12 cupcake liners in a 12 hole muffin pan.

2. Place cream, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Gradually add flour and zest and continue whisking until mixture is thick and smooth.

3. Divide mixture between prepared liners and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cakes spring back to touch. Cool in muffin pan.



Lemon curd

Heat lemon juice and butter in a small saucepan and simmer until butter has melted. Add sugar, egg and yolks and cook, whisking continuously until mixture becomes thick and glossy. Pour into a shallow oven tray to cool.

Meringue

Beat egg whites in an electric mixer until firm peaks form, gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar has dissolved between each addition. Spoon meringue mixture into a piping bag.

To serve
Pre-heat grill to medium-high. Cut a small hole in the top of each cupcake and fill with 1-2 teaspoons of lemon curd. Pipe a swirl of meringue mixture on the top of each cupcake and place under heated grill for 60-90 seconds or until golden.

Arrange on a serving plate with spoonfuls of lemon curd if desired.

November 15, 2012

Mughlai Chicken Kebabs - A Guest Post by Shema George


Once again a delicious guest post visits this space. I became friends with Shema George of Life Scoops through a blog event she hosted recently. She has such a wonderful collection of recipes from all over the world, making it such a pleasure to cook from them. We have one more thing in common apart from our culinary obsession. A very active and energetic toddler. So we know exactly what it is to have such a bundle of energy around us whilst we try to whip up new food to cater to different taste buds of the family. Presenting to you, Shema George! Thank you Shema for accepting my request.
I first got acquainted with Serah and her absolutely beautiful blog with some drool-worthy recipes, while hosting the DMBLGiT food photography contest on my site a couple months ago. Through our subsequent online interactions we have become good friends :)

She recently invited me to guest post a recipe on her space and I settled on these Mughlai Chicken kebabs that I had recently prepared for an office potluck party. A few weeks ago my company decided to relocate and consolidate our geographically diverse MIS team to a new office location. As an ice-breaker to get the teams to interact, we thought it would be a nice idea to have a potluck party and of course, food just has this uncanny knack to break down social and cultural barriers. I prepared these Chicken Kebabs as bite-sized Hors d'oeuvres, each set on toothpick with some colorful grilled bell peppers on each side. The Kebabs came out juicy and succulent, marinated in Cashew-nut paste, yogurt and spiced with a hint of garam masala. Some fresh lemon zest was also added for a fresh citrusy kick.
 You will need:
Chicken breast, cubed - 3 lb. (1.3 Kg)
Butter melted - 3 Tablespoon
Ginger, grated - 1 Tablespoon
Garlic, grated - 1 Tablespoon
Cashew nuts - 1/2 Cup
Lemon zest -2 Tsp
Pepper - 1 1/2 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Garam Masala - 1 1/2 Tsp
Yogurt - 1/2 Cup
Salt
Lemon - ½
Tooth picks or skewer

~Optional
1 - Big Red Bell Pepper (Capsicum)
1 - Big Yellow Bell Pepper (Capsicum)
1 - Big Green Bell Pepper (Capsicum)
Add the ginger, garlic and cashew nuts into a blender and grind into a smooth paste, by adding little water.
Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the ground paste along with pepper, salt, yogurt, lemon zest, cumin powder and garam masala and mix well.
Stir in the chicken pieces and coat them with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Thread one chicken piece onto a toothpick with 2 pieces of bell peppers.
Heat the grill (indoor or outdoor) and cook the chicken pieces until cooked. Please note that if you are using an outdoor grill or exposing the skewers to direct flame, you will need to keep the skewers immersed in water overnight prior to grilling.
Sprinkle some fresh lemon juice and serve warm.

November 5, 2012

Shepherds Pie

Another keeper for my recipe collection. Shepherd's Pie!!! The name comes from the theory that Shepherds are mainly concerned with Sheep and hence we use lamb for the same. It was earlier known as Cottage pie where any leftover meat was used for the filling. A friend of mine recently made her version of this pie for a potluck lunch and ever since I have been wanting to make it for my husband. So this time when he returned home after his voyage, this wonderful Shepherds Pie awaited him. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
You will need:
Oil – 1 Tbsp

Big Onion , finely chopped - 1
Carrot, finely chopped – 2 medium
Green peas – ¼ cup
Celery leaves – a bunch
Minced Lamb – 500 gms
Plain flour – 2 tbsp
Beef stock – 500 ml
Bay leaf - 1
Worcestershire sauce – 1 tbsp
Tomato paste – 1 tbsp
Salt & freshly ground black pepper - to taste
Potatoes cooked – 500 gms
Butter – 40 gms
Hot Milk – ½ cup
Garlic Seasoning or any seasoning of your choice – to taste
Melted butter, to brush
 Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add onion, carrot, peas and celery and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until soft.
Add lamb mince and stir together for about 5 minutes.
Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until combined.
Add stock, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste.
 Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, use a potato masher or fork to mash the cooked potatoes until smooth with butter, milk and seasoning.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Spread the lamb mixture at the bottom of a baking dish and top it with the mashed potatoes.
Brush with the melted butter and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

October 30, 2012

Halloween Special - Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Halloween is here and children are ready with their costumes ready to knock on all the neighborhood doors for their trick or treat. Most of the homes have either a pumpkin pie, soups and other interesting stuff brewing in their kitchens. Mine had a heart warming Pumpkin and Carrot soup. The weather outside is cold and windy with occasional showers. Thanks to the effect of the cyclone that has hit most places. I definitely needed something to cheer myself up and this soup really played its part well. I discovered this soup while in Australia and after six long years, found the recipe that matched the Aussie taste. This is definitely a keeper.

You will need :
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Onion, finely chopped - 1
Garlic cloves, crushed - 6
Coriander powder – ½ tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Freshly grated nutmeg – ½ tsp
Ripe pumpkin, diced – 500 gms
Potato, diced – 250 gms
Carrot diced - 150
Chicken stock or vegetable stock – 1 litre
Cream – ½ cup
Celery pureed – ¼ cup or to taste
Salt and Pepper – to taste
Heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat, add onion, garlic and sauté until softened but not colored.
Add the masalas and cook until the raw smell disappears.
Add pumpkin, potato, carrot and stock and bring to the boil.
Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly, then blend and strain to get a smooth puree.
Add the salt, pepper and the celery puree.
Stir through cream and serve hot.

October 28, 2012

Chocolate Truffle Oreo Tart


Yet another chocolate dessert visits my kitchen today! There is so much happiness while making a rich decadent chocolate dessert and even better when you are surrounded by a bunch of chocoholics who makes cooking for them such a pleasure. After a heavy lunch of Biriyani, what better to cleanse that palate than a smooth chocolate tart that lifts your spirit to another level.

This tart is every chocoholics dream fulfilled with a crunchy layer of Oreo base, a smooth velvety truffle center and a satiny chocolate glaze to finish it off. I have seen a similar recipe in a lot of places online but this is my first time making it and not going to be the last time for a long time. This is the perfect dessert to finish off that valentine evening or even a normal quiet dinner with your loved ones. My friends totally enjoyed this and I am sure you will too. I am sorry I could not take a picture of the sliced tart itself as I wanted to save it for when I serve my guests but rest assured, this will not disappoint that chocolate lover you are inviting soon.  
You will need:
Oreo biscuits powdered in your blender - 2 cups
Melted Butter - 1 cup or slightly less
Dark Chocolate chopped - 255 gms
Fresh Cream - 11/4 cup
Vanilla essence - 2 tsps
Eggs - 2
Salt - a pinch
Roasted chopped almonds - 1/2 cup (optional)

For the glaze:
Chopped chocolate - 50 gms
Fresh Cream - 3 tbsp
Corn Syrup - 1 tsp
Warm water - 1 tsp
First make the tart by mixing together the powdered oreo cookies and the melted butter.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch tart tin and bake in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes.
Leave it to cool for about 20 minutes as you want it to firm up as it cools.

Now make the truffle filling.
This process is like making your Chocolate Ganache.
Boil the cream and pour onto the chopped chocolate.
Stir it well until all the chocolate has melted and combined well with the cream.
In another bowl, whisk together the egg,salt and the essence.
Add to the cooled chocolate mixture stirring well.
Pour into the oreo tart base and bake for about 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely for about an hour or so.
Once it is completely cooled, prepare the glaze by boiling the cream and adding to the chopped chocolate.
Stir in the corn syrup and warm water. Pour on top of the baked chocolate and allow to cool in the refrigerator before serving.

October 25, 2012

Golden Fish Tart


I have had the most relaxing break but I definitely missed blogging. Food blogging isn't a very rewarding hobby but it brings me loads of satisfaction just to keep posting new recipes. I know for a fact that this blog and many others has inspired many people who do not cook to start cooking and they are all enjoying it too. There are so many happy souls in many homes now. Thanks to this wonderful love of food that brings together so many people. Cooking for someone who loves to eat is the most rewarding feeling for me and therefore doesn't stop me from trying new recipes and experimenting on new flavours as long as I have people to enjoy it. I am glad I have a little toddler growing up who loves to experiment on new flavours too just like his family. It is definitely a motivation to keep cooking, keep experimenting and make anyone who enters my home a happy soul. I have been surrounded by a whole lot of people who love food and love to cook the last one month. I have been learning so many new recipes in other kitchens and loving every bit of it. 

After a wonderful guest post by Nisha Thomas of Look who is cooking too, I am back with another delish seafood dish. This dish is inspired by my cousin sister, Sareeka, who made something very similar and ever since,  this has been visiting my kitchen quite often. It is a very wholesome fish tart with flavours that marry so well with each other. Without much ado, here is the recipe to a lovely and refreshing Golden Fish Tart. 
You will need:
8 inch Short crust Tart Shell - 1 (Recipe adapted from here)
Cooked and Flaked Fish (I used Seer Fish) - 500 gms (Cook it in plain water with some ginger and chilies)
Big onion chopped - 1
Capsicum chopped - 1
Ginger chopped - 1 inch
Green Chilies chopped - 2
Cream - 2 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Celery chopped - a few
Coriander Chopped - a few
Salt and Pepper - to taste
Italian Seasoning - to taste
Egg Whites - 4
Mayonnaise - 3 tbsp

For the Tart:
Flour - 200 gms
Chilled Butter cut into cubes - 100 gms
Baking Powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Cold water - 3 tbsp 
To make the tart:
Mix the flour, salt and the baking powder.
Rub the butter into the flour with your finger tips or pulse it in the food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the water until the dough is pliable and wrap it in a cling film.
Keep it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Roll out the dough to fit the tart, cover it with a foil and fill it with baking beans.
Put it in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the tart is golden. This process is called Blind Baking. 
To make the filling:
Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the green chilies, ginger and onions until the onions are transparent.
Add the flaked cooked fish, chopped capsicum and sauté for some more time.
Add the seasoning, coriander and celery. Remove from flame.
Add the cream to bring it all together.

To make the golden topping:
Whip the egg whites until stiff.
Add the mayonnaise and fold it gently until well combined.
Add seasoning of your choice to this if required.

Assemble and Bake:
Fill the precooked tart shell with the fish filling and top it with the egg white mixture.
Bake in the pre heated oven for 15 minutes or until the top is slightly golden.
Serve hot.

October 23, 2012

Tamil Nadu style Prawn Thokku/ Roast - A guest post by Nisha Thomas!

I can't help feeling so overwhelmed at the fact that The Captain's Kitchenette is having its very first ever guest post and that too by that person from whom I was inspired to start blogging in the first place. Nisha Thomas! I stumbled across her blog through my younger sister, Rachel, who is our common connection and then later came to know that she is cousin of my close buddy from college with whom I shared the same room and the same bench for three years, Indhu Thomas. It sure is a small world! We have been sharing a nice bond ever since. Nisha's blog Look Who's Cooking Too is one my favorite blogs and a huge inspiration for me like it is for many others. Her style of food photography and choice of recipes are very close to my heart and therefore it is such an honor to have her as my guest this month. A very warm welcome to The Captain's Kitchenette Nisha :) ! Handing over to you now.
There are so many wonderful food blogs out there, that I find it difficult to browse through all the yummy recipes they post. I still manage to run through a few once in a while, and eventually end up with tonnes of recipes bookmarked. Serah's beautiful blog, The Captains Kitchenette, certainly falls into this category and its her simple, easy-to-follow recipes that makes me a fan. I landed up on her blog after her sister (we were hostel mates in Chennai) posted a link to a recipe on FB. I was immediately hooked. We then exchanged a couple of emails, became friends on FB and the rest is history. She's now more of a friend than a random food blogger and I hope some day I get to meet her and her lovely family she cooks for. I also have to appreciate her for taking time to cook, photograph and blog in spite of having a toddler to tend to. Like I was telling her the other day, I complain if I have to continuously cook for a week ;)

Since Serah was taking some time off to tend to other commitments, she asked me if I could do a guest post for her blog and I truly obliged. She gave me full leverage on what I could whip up and since she said she preferred sea food, I thought I'd make this prawn thokku for her. I came across the recipe on one of my recipe search sessions on the internet and immediately wrote it down (yes believe it or not, I actually wrote it down). Completely forgot to bookmark the page and so apologies to the person who originally posted it. I did try searching for it again, but since this was written down ages back, I really had no luck.
Thokku, loosely translated means paste, and I presume this is more of a Tamil Nadu preparation as opposed to the mallu (Kerala) way of making prawn roast. The use of fennel seeds make this dish quite unique, and of course something with grated coconut can never go wrong. This is a favourite prawn recipe of ours and has made its appearance on quite a few occasions. Although it goes well with some warm rice, dal and pappad, my favourite way to have it is as a starter with some chilled beer. Just thread it onto small skewers, sprinkle the masala on top, and serve. Its a crowd pleaser, trust me!

So without wasting your time any further, here is the recipe.

You will need:
Prawns- 250 gms
Shallots/ small onions- 1/2 cup, roughly chopped
Garlic- 4 pods, peeled and chopped
Green chillies- 2, chopped (add more for more heat)
Ginger- 1 1/2 inch piece, peeled and chopped
Tomato- 1 big, roughly sliced
Black peppercorns- 1 tsp
Fennel seeds- 1/2 tsp
Grated coconut- 1 1/2 tbsp
Cinnamon- 1 inch piece
Cloves- 4
Curry leaves- 2 to 3 sprigs (the more the better)
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Kashmiri chilly powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Water- 1/2 cup
Oil- 4 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Coconut oil- 1 tsp (optional)
Lemon/ lime juice- approx. 1 tsp
Coriander leaves- to garnish
De-vein, wash the prawns, dab it dry with kitchen towels and keep aside.
Place a frying pan over low-medium heat and add around 1 tbsp of oil.
Once hot, throw in the shallots, garlic, green chillies and ginger and sauté till they turn golden brown. Keep stirring in between to avoid the onions getting burnt, which would affect the overall taste of the thokku.
Add the chopped tomato and continue cooking till they turn soft.
In goes the peppercorns, fennel seeds and grated coconut. Stirring continuously, cook the mix for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the contents into a bowl and leave aside to cool sufficiently.
Once cool, use a blender/ grinder to make a smooth paste. Try and avoid adding water, but if necessary a tsp or so wont do any harm.
Place the same frying pan back on medium heat and add the remaining oil.
Once hot, throw in the cinnamon, cloves and curry leaves. Stir for a couple of seconds till you get than nice aroma of spices.
At this stage tip in the ground ingredients and cook for a few minutes. It might splutter a bit in the beginning, so be careful.
Add the coriander, chilly, turmeric powders and salt, mix it all into the ground paste and cook, stirring on and off till the oil starts to surface.
Throw in the prawns and mix well, so its all coated in the masala.
Pour the 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer till the prawns are cooked and the water has all been absorbed. 
At this stage, you can drizzle the coconut oil (if using) and roast the prawns for a couple more minutes, or till the masala becomes dark and completely dry. 
Transfer the prawns into a serving dish, garnish with some coriander leaves and just before serving squeeze some lemon juice over it and serve with some chilled beer or hot rice.
Notes: Shallots can be replaced with a big onion.
The first time I made this, it was unbelievable spicy because I added 4 green chillies. If you are brave, go ahead and increase the number of chillies or use the spicy red chilly powder instead of Kashmiri chilly powder
Using coconut oil is purely optional, but it did give that distinct taste overall.
Make sure you dont over cook the prawns, as they can become really rubbery and chewy. If using pre-cooked prawns, then add it only once most of the water has been absorbed, but the masala is wet and not completely dry. That way the prawns don't over cook in the gravy, but at the same time gets smothered in the masala as well.

September 27, 2012

Chili Pork Fry

A random experiment in the kitchen brought forth this dish. For me, pork always means a gravy type. For the first time, I experimented on something different and am quite pleased with the outcome. We are a lot into spicy food so did not mind the fiery peppery taste of this meat. If given a choice, my husband would prefer it spicier but we stuck to this milder version instead. It goes well with a variety of rice items and not so much with Indian breads.
You will need :
Pork - 1 Kg
Ginger chopped - 2 inches
Garlic chopped - 6
Red Chili Powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Big Onion chopped - 2
Big Capsicum squared- 1 ( I mixed half of both red and yellow capsicums )
Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
Green chilies chopped - 4
Soya Sauce - 2 1/2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Marinate the pork in salt, chili powder, ginger and garlic and set aside for about an hour.
Pressure cook the meat with no water for about 10 to 15 minutes or until well cooked.
Once cooked, remove about 3 tbsp of the pork oil into another wok.
Saute the chopped onions and green chilies in the oil until the onions are transparent.
Add the cooked pork into it after removing the excess oil.
Add the soya sauce and fry the meat with the onions for about 10 minutes.
Add the capsicums during the last 5 minutes of the frying time and saute it along with the pork.
Serve hot with some potatoes fried by the side.

September 25, 2012

Cardamom Marble Cake Loaf

We are back from a relaxing holiday in Cochin with parents, filled with loads of good food and company. My mother-in-law makes the most amazing array of non vegetarian dishes that no matter how hard we try to restrain and eat less, the tasty dishes wins over our determination all the time. Our Kerala trips are never complete without a visit to the popular Anns for their wonderful Marble Cake and Black Halwa. This time though, that visit did not happen but I am not regretting it one bit. The reason being, Amma surprised us with the most wonderful Marble Cake for our Wedding Anniversary! It definitely beat all the store bought marble cakes I have had during my childhood. It was soft, crumbly and delicious with the unique addition of the Queen of Spice, Cardamom. I experimented on the recipe borrowed from her and very happy with it.
You will need:
Flour - 200 gms
Melted Butter - 200 gms
Powdered Sugar - 200 gms
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp
Egg yolks - 4
Whipped Egg Whites - 4
Baking powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp
Hot Milk - 1/4 cup
Lemon Juice - 1/4 tsp
Sift the flour and the baking powder together. Keep aside.
Beat the sugar, cardamom powder, butter and the egg yolks until it is light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla essence, hot milk and lemon juice.
Alternate the whipped egg whites and the sifted flour and mix until well combined.
Halve the mixture into another bowl.
Add the cocoa powder into one half of the batter and fold gently until well incorporated.
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and spoon both the mixtures alternatively forming a checkerboard design.
Tap down the tin to remove any air bubbles.
Using a skewer, gently swirl the mixture around to give it a marbled effect. Do not over mix.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove onto a cooling rack and cool completely before cutting it.

September 10, 2012

Chicken Curry with Boiled Eggs


Time for non vegetarian delicacies again when Captain Saheb is back home again! The first request this time was to make a chicken curry with boiled eggs. It is something that he says he remembers from a long time ago but could not give it a name. Therefore, I made him this chicken which of course isn't the same that he had but I still got thumbs up from him. This is a mildly spiced chicken curry which doesn't require you to spend too much time in the kitchen but still is delicious enough to have with rotis.
You will need:
Chicken pieces - 1 kg
Raisins and Cashew nuts - 1/4 cup each
Boiled Eggs - 3
Dry Red Chilies - 5
Green Chilies - 4
Garlic cloves - 1 tsp
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Cardamom - 7
Cloves - 10
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
Peppercorns - 25
Turmeric Powder- 1/2 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 1/2 tbsp
Nutmeg powder - a pinch
Ghee or oil - 3 tbsp
Yogurt - 1 cup
Lime Juice - 1 1/2 tsp
Onion Sliced - 2 Big
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves - to garnish
 Grind together cumin seeds, red and green chilies, garlic, ginger,10 peppercorns, turmeric, coriander seeds, nutmeg powder, 5 cloves and 2 cardamom.
Heat oil in a deep pan. Fry the raisins and cashew nuts until golden brown and keep aside.
In the same oil, add the sugar and fry the onions, the rest of the cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns until the onions become transparent.
Add the ground masala and fry well until it turns a dark brown colour but not burnt.
Add the chicken pieces and fry for another 5 minutes.
Add the yogurt and the lime juice along with half a cup of hot water and salt to taste.
Close the lid and cook for about 15 minutes or until chicken is well cooked and the gravy thick.
Remove from flame, garnish with quartered boiled eggs, fried nuts and coriander leaves.

Sticky Cinnamon Buns


I have been having such a blast of an Onam this year. The entire family gathered together in Coonoor last week and just the feeling of being together with the unlimited supply of good food was truly heart rendering. I think the next best part of the holiday was our traditional Kerala dance which every single woman of the house did. People, who have never danced their entire lives, did so this year and had such a beautiful time together. An Onam never to forget! Was it over with that? No it wasn’t. After returning to Bangalore, we had a mega huge Onam event at our apartment and I cannot explain enough what a lot of fun it was. All the good food we have been savoring during these holidays was indirectly inspiring me, teaching me and encouraging me to learn and try new recipes. When you have people who enjoy good food, it really encourages you to  cook more for them and in the process learn a lot. That brings me to this recipe which I have meaning to make for a long time.

All the blogs I have been visiting lately has a recipe of a cinnamon bun in it. I was wondering what all the hype is all about until I stumbled onto this recipe and decided to give it a shot too. All that everyone else wrote about is so true. The whole process of making them was therapeutic for me.  The entire house had a wonderful smell of fresh baked bread with the sweetness of the cinnamon. These buns are best had out of the oven or if you storing it in the fridge make sure to heat them up slightly before enjoying it. It also tastes wonderful with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
 You will need:
Dough:
Warm water - 1/4 cup
Active dry yeast - 1 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Milk - 3/4th cup
Unsalted butter -  4 tbsp
Egg yolks - 3
Salt - a pinch
Flour - 4 to 4 1/4 cups

Filling:          
Brown sugar - 1/2 cup
Ground cinnamon - 1 tbsp
Unsalted butter - 4 tbsp

Topping:
Brown sugar - 3/4 cup
Honey - 3 Tbsp
Corn syrup/glucose - 2 tbsp
Coarsely chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts) - 1 1/2 cups
 
In a bowl combine warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar. Stir to dissolve and let it sit until foamy about 5 minutes.
Add milk, butter, remaining sugar, egg yolks, salt and 3 cups flour. Knead until blended. 
Add the remaining 1 cup of flour. Knead dough until smooth and slightly sticky. 
Place the dough in a large, buttered bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the butter from the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
After the dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and let sit 20 minutes.
While the dough is resting, make the filling.
Melt the butter. Set aside.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
Roll dough out into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle and brush the melted butter all over.
Spread the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly.
Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder.
Using a very sharp knife or a thread, cut the rolled dough crosswise into 10 to 12 slices.
Next make the sticky topping.
In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, honey and corn syrup over low heat; stir until sugar and butter are melted.
Pour mixture into a greased 9″ pan and sprinkle the chopped nuts on top.
Place dough slices, flat side down, on top of prepared topping, Leaving little gaps to allow the dough to rise.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 190°C and bake the buns for about 35 minutes until golden.
Remove pan from oven and immediately and invert onto a serving tray or baking dish.
Serve warm.

August 21, 2012

Egg-less Vanilla Cake

There is nothing more satisfactory for a chef when the food he/she makes vanishes right in front of the eyes or does not last very long. There is no better complement that you can give a chef when you reach out for the second helping or the third or gets asked to make it again for them sometime soon. It was one such day yesterday for me with this cake I made it for my friend and her family. My eyes popped out when the dish I gave the cake in came back to me in less than two hours and was informed that it got over pretty quickly. Was it that good? Guess it was. I managed to sneak in a piece for myself as I had to test it first before giving it to them ;) . Though it is egg-less, it is probably the best vanilla cake I have made. I use it quite often for my fruit desserts and is the simplest cake ever baked by me. It is moist, soft and not so sweet which makes it perfect for frosting it. If you are not planning on doing a frosting for this cake, I strongly recommend that you increase the sugar a little bit more. I used a Chocolate Ganache this time but have tried whipped cream icing and all sorts of butter cream icing on this one. Enjoy!
You will need:
Cake Flour - 2 1/2 cups
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Condensed Milk - 1 can
Orange Juice or water - 1 cup
Melted Butter - 1 cup
Sugar - 3 tbsp
White Vinegar - 2 tbsp
Vanilla Essence - 1 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a 9 inch cake tin with a parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and the baking soda.
Beat together the sugar, condensed milk, butter, water, vanilla essence and the vinegar.
Fold in the dry ingredients into the condensed milk mixture until just about combined. Over mixing any cake makes it dense.
Pour the mixture into the baking tin and tap it lightly to remove any air bubbles.
Bake for about 35 minutes approximately or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove from the cake tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting it. Enjoy!
It is best had slightly warm if you are not frosting it.

August 20, 2012

Eid Mubarak to all with some Spicy Lamb Chops

To start with, Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim friends. Remembering the yummy Mutton Biriyani and all those gorgeous yumm food that my friends used to send over on this day. It has been awfully quite lately and I am missing my husband. We social a lot more when he is at home and enjoy a lot more yummy food. There is no fun cooking for yourself. Don't you agree? This time though I was craving for some really good food. I love lamb chops and it has been quite long since I made a good one. My husband is not a fan of lamb so we cook a lot of Chicken at home. This recipe is inspired from Chef Sanjay Thumma's VahRehVah website and I have made my own changes to it like cooking it in the oven instead of on the stove top. It was quite deli-sh but I would not say it is the best I have tried till now. It is good to have different tasty recipes in your repertoire and will make it this one again. Serve this alongside a good pulav and raita for a complete meal. I am still on the look out for a perfect Indian Lamb chops. If you have one that you feel is definitely better than this one and don't mind sharing, send me an email or comment below.
You will need:
Lamb chops - 10 pieces
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Yogurt - 3 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Lemon juice -  1 tsp
Flour - 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Vinegar - 2 tbsp
Salt and pepper - To taste
Coriander leaves chopped - 1 tsp and a little bit more to garnish

Make a smooth paste of all the ingredients and massage it well into the lamb chops.
Marinate the lamb chops in an airtight container or a Ziploc pouch for about 6 hours. Overnight is best.
Heat a pan with enough oil to shallow fry the lamb.
Fry the lamb chops on both sides for about 3 minutes on medium heat or until it gives a nice charred look. Doing this will also seal in all the juices.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 C.
Bake the lamb chops along with the left over marinade liquid if any, on an oven proof tray for about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 170 and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes or until done the way you would like it. Don't forget to turn them over half way through bake time.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.

August 11, 2012

Moist Chocolate Date Cake

I have been waiting to make this cake for over 3 weeks now and today I finally had the time and opportunity to bake it. My super baker friend who gave me the recipe for Banana Cake gave me the recipe for this too. Thank you once again Nithya :) ! I have never had a cake so moist and soft that it almost melts in your mouth. This one is a sure keeper. Will I make it again? You bet I will make it over and over again. If your children love cakes, do not let this one pass by so quickly. Its healthy, yummy and an easy way to make them eat this nutrition packed fruit. Unlike other date cakes, you will not bite into big pieces of dates but will still be able to taste the wonderful flavors of  Arabia. 
 You will need:
Chopped seedless dates - 1 cup
Water - 1 1/2 cups
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Eggs - 2
Melted Butter - 1 cup ( This one is the secret to this wonderful moist texture)
Powdered Sugar - 1 cup
Plain Flour - 1 1/2 cups
Cocoa Powder - 2 1/2 tbsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Bring the dates to a boil with the water.
Add the baking soda to the cooked dates and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, make a smooth paste of the dates and water mixture. Strain to get a fine puree. 
Preheat the oven to 170C degrees.
Cream together the melted butter, eggs and the sugar until pale and fluffy.
Sift the flour, baking powder and the cocoa powder.
Add the sifted dry ingredients and the date puree into the egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the parchment lined 9 inch cake dish.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. The timing will vary from oven to oven so be your own judge by doing the skewer test.
Resist the temptation to cut the cake immediately and wait for it to cool completely.

August 9, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my very first recipe in the blog which I made specially for my adorable naughty little sunshine - Aaron. Just like everyone who loves a well made Chocolate Chip Cookie, Aaron too seemed to have taken to it so far. Whew! Am glad. With only nine teeth so far, he has done a mighty good job with those cookies. Now it will encourage me to make all these and more for him especially when he starts school. Apart from him, I am also quietly indulging in these wonderful little tea time goodie too. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside as I nibble on these yummy crunchy yet chewy cookies with a cup of hot chocolate on an otherwise dull cloudy day. It makes me all nostalgic as I remember the days when my mother used to bake for us.

You may notice the little sugar granules in the pictures. I am not sure if they were supposed to be like that but I really do not mind it as it definitely adds to the crunchiness of the cookie and tastes better. If you prefer it without the granules, maybe you could try using really fine white sugar instead. Recipe adapted from here!

You will need: 
Butter kept at room temperature - 1 cup
White Sugar - 1 cup
Brown Sugar - 1 cup
Eggs - 2
Vanilla Essence - 2 tsp
Plain Flour - 3 cups
Baking Soda - 1 tsp
Hot water - 2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Cream of Tartare - 1/2 tsp (Optional. I used this as suggested by a baker to give the cookies the cracked look instead of a smooth top)
Chocolate Chips - 2 cups

Preheat oven to 175C Degrees.
Cream together butter and the sugars using an electric beater.
Add the eggs one at a time.
Add the vanilla essence and mix well.
Dissolve the baking powder with the hot water and add to the sugar mixture. Mix well.
Add the flour, chocolate chips, cream of tartare and salt. Stir together with a wooden spatula and ensure that all the ingredients have been combined well.
Make small lime sized balls and place on a ungreased cookie tray leaving an inch or a little more space between them.
If time permits, refrigerate the mixture for about 10 minutes before putting into the oven.
Chill the rest of the prepared cookie balls while one batch of the cookies are baking.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the bottom sides have browned slightly.
It will still feel soft if you feel it whilst in the oven but don't be tempted to bake longer as it becomes very hard once cooled.
Gently remove the cookies with the help of a flat spatula and cool on a wire rack. 
Store in an air tight container. I got 45 cookies with this recipe.