May 31, 2012

Creamy Cashew Nut Curry

Another lovely recipe from the God's own country - Kerala! I remember having this at my aunt’s house in Kottayam when we were kids and wanted to make it ever since. Though this recipe isn't quite close what I had, it still is very good, especially with Indian breads of any kind. I had it for breakfast this morning with Idiappam or String Hoppers as they call it. Most of you are often in a dilemma as to what to make for dinner or your family is often complaining that they want to have something different.  It is not a different story in my household either. I am glad I made this and sharing with you too. This recipe is definitely going into my daily menu ideas henceforth. This cashew nut curry can be made spicy or mild depending on the amount of Chili powder or Green Chilies you add, so please do adjust the two according to the spice levels you require. My recipe here is definitely on the spicier end but we really loved it.

You will need:
Cashew nuts – 100 gms
Big onions chopped – 2
Tomato chopped – 1
Green Chilies – 3
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 ½ tsp
Coriander powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Fenugreek powder – a pinch
Fresh Cream – ½ cup or more as required
Oil – 2 tsp
Water – ½ cup
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves –  to garnish

Soak the cashewnuts in water for about 15 minutes and boil it for about 5 minutes.
Drain the nuts and save the water for later use.
Microwave the chopped onions for about 4 minutes.
Grind half the micro waved onions into a smooth paste and keep aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and sauté the other half of the onions and green chillies until slightly brown
Add the ginger garlic paste and the ground onions and sauté for another 3 minutes.
Add all the powder masalas together and sauté until the raw smell goes away. That would take about 5 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté until soggy.
Add the cooked cashew nuts and the water. Cook for another 5 minutes more.
Just before removing from the flame, add the fresh cream. Add salt to taste.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with any Indian bread of your choice.

May 29, 2012

White Chocolate Gelato with Blue Berry Coulis

Few nights back was Italian night for us at home. Starting with fried Mozzarella balls, then my very first thin crust meat loaded pizza (which I am very proud of) , Fish Lasagna and then finished off with this smooth White Chocolate dessert topped with beautiful blue berries. My husband says it is not the best of my desserts, but my guests loved it in-spite of not being able to budge after a really heavy dose of Italy. I thought it was really good too. Very simple and tasty for the kind of easy effort I put into it. I am not very proud of my picture but nevertheless felt I should share this recipe for the rest of the dessert lovers like me.

You will need:
Granulated Sugar - 2 tbsp
Water - 5 tbsp
White Chocolate chopped - 300 gms
Eggs separated - 3
Cold Double Cream - 300 ml

To Serve:
Blueberry Coulis or any Fruit coulis of your choice

Melt the sugar and the water in a heavy based pan. Boil the mixture for another 3 minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat.
Stir the White Chocolate into the hot sugar syrup and stir well until a smooth creamy consistency is achieved. Cool slightly.
Beat the egg yolks slightly and add to the chocolate mixture until well combined. Cool completely to room temperature. Keep aside.
Beat the cream well until stiff peaks form and fold it gently into the White Chocolate mixture.
Lastly, whip the egg whites into soft peaks and fold it well into the chocolate mixture.
Pour into your individual dessert molds or a loaf tin and freeze over night.
Before serving, place the dessert molds out for about 10 minutes and turn it out your serving plates. 
Top it with the fruit coulis of your choice and enjoy a wonderful dessert.

May 21, 2012

Chicken Kurma

I am back in Bangalore after an awesome holiday back home in Coonoor. I am trying to settle back into reality and let the responsibilities sink in. Aaron and I miss my mother's pampering session a lot but life has to go on. I refused to step into the kitchen the past two days but today finally gathered some energy to go back in. I needed some motivation and was therefore looking for that perfect recipe that would get me recharged. I found the ideal recipe that I can use for my daily cooking and perfect with Rotis and other Indian breads - Chicken Kurma! The original recipe calls for Mutton and I am sure it will taste equally fantastic too. My usual advice - Do not get put off by the long list of ingredients. It is definitely worth trying it.

You will need:
Chicken - 1 Kg
Hot water - 1 cup
Cinnamon - 2 inch piece
Cloves - 1 tsp
Cardamom - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1/2 cup
Onions finely sliced - 1/2 Kg
Ghee - 1/2 cup
Garlic Paste - 2 tsp
Ginger Paste - 2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Chili Powder - 2 tsp
Aniseed - 2 tsp
Tomatoes chopped - 1/4 kg
Beaten Yoghurt - 1 cup
Coriander leaves chopped - a handful
Green Chilies - 4
Cashew nuts soaked in some hot water - 1/4 cup
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Lime Juice - 1 tsp

Cook the medium cut chicken pieces in the hot water with Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves and salt.
Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions until they turn a golden brown. Keep aside.
Grind together Coriander Powder, Turmeric Powder, Aniseed and the Chili Powder to a smooth paste.
Heat ghee in another pan. Fry the green chilies, ginger garlic paste and the ground masala well.
Add the chopped tomatoes and fry until the oil separates.
Add the cooked chicken with the stock and the spices, beaten yoghurt, half of the coriander leaves and the fried onions.
Reduce heat and simmer for another ten minutes.
Grind together the soaked cashew nuts and the coconut to a fine paste. Add to the chicken that has been simmering away and combine well.
Add the lime juice and extra salt if necessary.
Remove from fire. Serve hot with a garnish of Coriander leaves.

May 13, 2012

Easy Soda and Bacon Focaccia

Focaccia is an Italian style Flat bread and very similar to a pizza bread in texture. It can be made with a variety of herbs and flavors. Some Focaccias are even mildly sweetened too. The proper Italian Focaccia uses yeast but this one is inspired by Rachel Allen and tweaked to suit my taste buds. The bacon in this flat bread lifts the flavor up beautifully and it is incredibly easy to make. Trust me; the house now smells like the old farmhouse in the country side that we see in the old English classics. The aroma of the thyme and bacon wafting through the air is truly beckoning.

You will need:
Plain Flour – 450 gms
Salt – 1 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Buttermilk - 380 ml
Bacon – 150 gms
Olive Oil – to sprinkle generously on top
Thyme – 2 tsp
9 inch square tin

Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees C.
Fry the bacon in its own oil until brown but not very crisp. Allow it to cool.
Mix together the cooled bacon, buttermilk and the sifted dry ingredients in a deep mixer bowl.
Using a dough hook in the stand mixer, combine everything together on low speed until it comes together as a soft dough.
The dough should be soft but not sticky and wet. Therefore, add little extra flour of needed to bring it to the right consistency.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and using your hands, stretch the dough to fit into the pan.
Grease the tin with olive oil and transfer the flat dough into it.
Using your finger tips, make dimples all over the dough.
Drizzle the olive oil generously. Follow with a sprinkling of Thyme.
Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes.
When the foccacia is still hot, drizzle a bit more olive oil and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Chicken Pasanda

The next specialty for the day is this easy but mouth watering Chicken Pasanda. It is a creamy mild flavored dish that goes perfectly well with most of the Indian breads and rice. The traditional recipe calls for boneless chicken but I used a regular medium cut boned chicken pieces. Its completely up to you which you want to use. Either ways, it will not affect the over all flavor of this yogurt based dish. This was a popular dish served in the Court of the Moghul Emperors according to Wikepedia, therefore making it a royal treat.

You will need:
Chicken – 1 kg
Onion – 2, finely sliced
Cardamom – 5
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Cinnamon Powder – 1 tsp
Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Garlic Cloves – 4
Coriander Seeds – ½ tbsp
Tomato Puree – 2 tbsp
Thick Yoghurt beaten – 500 gms
Flaked almonds – 15 gms
Chopped Coriander leaves – for garnish
Salt to taste
Oil or Ghee – 2 tbsp

Heat oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions over low heat.
Meanwhile, blend together cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, red chilli powder, coriander seeds and the garlic pods.
Add this blended masala to the sautéed onions and sauté further until the raw smells disappears.
Add the chicken pieces and fry in the masala until it is cooked through.
Add the tomato puree and cook for another 1 minute.
Take off the heat, add the beaten curd and stir well to combine everything together.
Garnish with the flaked almonds and coriander leaves.
Serve hot with the Indian Bread of your choice.

May 12, 2012

Decadent Almond Brownies with Fudge Frosting

Brownies are easy and quick fix solution for times when we are craving for pure chocolate indulgence. It sure is a favorite in my household just like in most other homes. I have been hunting for that Perfect Brownie recipe and have tried several too. After experimenting with several recipes, I have concluded that there are three basic types of Brownies depending on the technique used in making it - Chewy, Fudgy and Cakey! Everyone has their own favorites but I simply love these fudgy moist brownies. It is perfect as it is but it is irresistible with a creamy scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. 

Susan Westmoreland, an award winning Chef and the Food Director of Good Housekeeping, shared her secret of achieving the perfect Brownie in an issue of Good Housekeeping last year. Ever since, I am a diehard fan of this brownie. According to her, the secret lies in beating the eggs with the sugar until they are pale yellow in color and almost tripled in volume. That will be almost for ten minutes on high speed till ribbon like texture is formed while whisking it. I can totally vouch by her secret which is now, no more a secret.

You will need :
Dark Chocolate chopped - 200 gms
Unsalted Butter cubed - 3/4th cup
Plain Flour - 1/2 cup
Cocoa Powder - 1/2 cup
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Eggs - 6
Vanilla Essence - 2 tsp
Granulated White Sugar - 3/4th cup
Brown Sugar - 3/4th cup
Roasted Almonds or Walnuts or White Chocolate chopped - 50 gms ( I used Roasted Almonds this time and the flavour is awesome.)

Preheat the oven to 175 Degrees C and line a 9 inch square baking dish with good quality foil.
Grease with butter.
Sift together plain flour, cocoa powder and salt. Keep aside.
Melt the chopped chocolate with the butter in a microwave safe dish for 30 seconds. Stir well and put it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir until smooth and melted. 
Beat the eggs, white and the brown sugar until pale yellow and tripled in volume.
Fold in the vanilla essence and the melted chocolate into the egg mixture with a spatula.
Next, fold in the dry ingredients and the nuts until well combined.
Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 28 to 30 minutes or until the skewer inserted comes out almost clean.
Cover with a cling film and cool completely in the pan itself before cutting into squares.
Enjoy it as it is or make it more delicious with the Fudge Frosting mentioned below.

Fudge Frosting:
Dark Chocolate chips - 1 cup
Butter - 2 tbsp
Sugar - 1/2 cup

Put the above ingredients in a pan and melt over double boiler, making sure no water spills over the chocolate. They say water is the worst enemy of Chocolate, so even a drop can spoil your beautiful chocolate mixture. Best way to do this is to melt it slowly by keeping it in a hot water bath with a metal spoon in it to stir. The metal spoon helps absorb excess heat preventing the chocolate from seizing. 
Spread the smooth velvety chocolate frosting over the cooled Brownies. Cut into squares and refrigerate until nice and firm before removing from the pan.

May 11, 2012

Triple Chocolate Mousse

The second item on this year’s Mother Days menu is this elegant triple layered chocolate treat that looks good and tastes equally decadent too. This beautiful combination of layered creamy dark, milk and white chocolate is every chocolate lover's dream come true. You can set these layers in wine glasses of your choice or a 9 inch round spring form pan. My personal preference would have been the second option since you can cut beautiful slices out of it and present it better but I did not have the pan here in Coonoor. This is a definite show stopper dessert and is bound to impress those fussy guests at your next dinner party as this dessert has very few enemies.

You will need:
Egg yolks - 5
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Gelatin - 15 gms
Water - 1/4 cup
Whipped Cream - 2 cups
Dark Chocolate chopped - 150 gms
Milk Chocolate chopped - 150 gms
White Chocolate chopped - 150 gms

Beat the egg yolks and the sugar using a whisk attachment on high until pale yellow and tripled in volume.
While the eggs are beating, melt the chocolates one by one in separate microwave safe bowls for about 1 minute. Stop at 30 seconds and put it back in the microwave after stirring it. You will now have 3 separate bowls of smooth velvety dark, milk and white chocolate. 
Soak the gelatin in water for about 10 minutes.
Heat the milk to almost a boiling point and dissolve the gelatin in it after removing it from the flame.
Add the milk to the egg mixture while continuously whisking the mixture to avoid curdling.
Divide this batter equally among the three bowls of chocolate and fold it gently.
Next divide the stiffly whipped cream equally among the three bowls and fold very gently.
Layer it one by one in the mold of your choice, refrigerating after each layer. Make sure the layer has been set completely before pouring the next one.
The chocolate mixture that is waiting in room temperature may begin to thicken, but do not panic. Just place it in a hot water bath while stirring it gently and it will become a pour-able consistency again.
Allow it to be completely set before you can actually devour it. Making it a day or two before is a good idea as it sets nicely.

Happy Mother's Day

Finally... I am back in action after what felt like a long break to me. Yaaaa!!! What better come back than a post dedicated to that one woman who has been molding our character ever since we came out screaming into this world and continue to do that today too. We will always be their babies even if we turn fifty. 

"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces that she never did care for a pie." - Tenneva Jordan

Isn't that quote so true? Mom can make so many different sacrifices for us, always keeping their preferences last or sometimes never telling us what they would like. You could go on writing all those different things that she did for you and suddenly it hits you that you could probably write a never ending book on it. Remember those days when that horrible flu kicks in and you are cuddled up in bed, whining, groaning and making a fuss out of nothing. We call out to her for everything, not realizing that she too is burning with a temperature of 102 Degrees F or more, and having the worst body ache herself. Does she stop though? No! She doesn't. Instead she walks in with a smile of her face and a tray in her hands with your favorite food hoping you will eat something and gain that strength back. Did she eat anything or take her medications yet? Ever cared to ask? She forgets about everything that is worrying her and puts in all her strength to make your day as comfortable as possible, working hard at making those baked goodies or a bowl of hot healthy soup or even a home made concoction of some secret herbs to help you recover faster. 

Until just a few years back, I would put up my legs and say "Amma, can you please make something special today?" or "Amma, please make me a cup of tea" or "Amma, could you please iron my clothes to take for tomorrow's trip? I am really tired to do anything now." Just when she just was about sit down and relax after doing the million chores around the house! Only after I became a mother myself a year and three months back, did all the sacrifices that my mother made for us come into true light. I am now a proud mother who has quit her job to look after her family and a strong believer of the below quote.

"Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love." - Mildred B. Vermont

This Mother's day, both my moms are with us. My mom and my husband's mom! It is a very special day for me. I am going to cook, bake and pamper them for a change when all along they have been doing it for us. I started off with this awesome Almond Brownies with Fudge Frosting to kick off with a sweet something and definitely repeating Roast Pork in Red Wine which is now my mom's favorite, along with some really yummy food which I will be trying this Sunday and posting the recipes soon.

I got the perfect gift from my 15 month old son too. What could be more perfect than him reaching the milestone I have been waiting for - Walking! What are you doing this year to make the day special for your mother? Are you going to cook up something yummy too or treating her to a fine dining restaurant or taking her out for a spa experience or even saying that you love her with a bunch of beautiful lilies? I would love to know too. Write in and share your ideas with me. If you are away from home, don't worry. When you have your mother in your heart, you are never far from home. 

Happy Mother's Day!!!