Borani banjan- Eggplant in garlic yogurt sauce

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Borani banjan- Eggplant in garlic yogurt sauce

Let me confess, I love eggplants in any shape and form. Stuffed, roasted, pan- fried with chick pea flour, I love them all. So for me saying that this is one of the favorite ways to cook eggplant is a big deal.

A friend of mine had made this when I had dinner at her home a few years back and since then I make it at least once a week.

For the past 2-3 years I have been very mindful of what I cook. I have been trying and making an effort to eat only organic whenever possible. I also have been trying to buy only local produce and majority of that from the farmers market. I love going to the farmers market. I love the vibrant colors, the freshness in the air.


I love it when I get to interact with the person who has worked on bringing such great produce to me, I love chatting with them as it gives me a feel for where my food comes from and provide a connection. It also gives me a great sense of appreciation when I learnt that they load up the trucks at 5:00 in the morning to bring the fruits and vegetables to the market.

I love to make things with that produce and share it with them. Last few weeks I have been making yummy strawberry roll ups, I brought some to the vendor whom I buy my strawberries from, it was so nice to be able to share it with them.

So back to my eggplant , I ate this first time and I fell in love with it. I love yogurt, I love mint and I love eggplant, so it was no surprise that I love this recipe.

It is very simple and you can make the two parts ahead of time and assemble it as you are ready to serve.

Borani banjan

Ingredients

  • 1 Large eggplant, sliced
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 1 large tomato , sliced
  • 2 green chilies
  • a few mint leave
  • a sprig of Cilantro
  • Sauce
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried mint leaves

Method

Cut the eggplant in 1/4 inch thich uniform slices. Sprinkle with some salt and set aside for 30 mins.


In the meanwhile slice the onions & tomatoes  in  slices, slit the green chili and remove the seeds if the chili is very spicy.

After 30 mins, the eggplant will give out some water. Sprinkling with salt  removes any excess bitterness the eggplant might have.

Heat some oil in a pan and shallow fry the eggplant slices until they are cooked. Make sure the heat is not too high, we want the eggplants to cook but not get crispy.


Take the cooked eggplant on a plate. In the same pan, heat some more oil and layer the onions in a single layer, saute till they are soft.


Top them with the slices tomatoes and slit green chilies. We don’t want the tomatoes to get browned but instead sort of get stewed. Add the chopped mint leaves and cilantro as well.

Top the tomatoes and onions with the cooked eggplant and let it cook for about 10-15 min on a low flame.

For the sauce

Mix all the ingredient for the sauce in a bowl. Keep the bowl in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve, make sure you bring the eggplant to room temperature. I feel it tastes much better that way.

To serve

Take the cooked eggplant mixture, mash it ever so slightly and top it with the yogurt mixture.

Today I served it with Mejadra, Turkey kabab. More on that later.

Mother’s day Challah

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My mom is an amazing woman. Strong, caring, intelligent and yet loving. She is the strength of the family and we are so lucky to be born to her.

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She is my inspiration in so many ways. She manages home while handling the business just as well. I still remember to what lengths she would go ( and still does to make things for us. Be it a dress for a play in school, be it packing tiffin with special treats for the school trip, be it helping with math homework to be it helping us with the babies, she does it effortlessly.

She is a great cook, a great entrepreneur and so many more things, but the biggest things that stands out is her unconditional love towards her family. She brings every one together. So today;s recipe is dedicated to my Aai( Thats what I call her).

 

She always pushes us to challenge ourselves. As you all know I cook a lot but have not been much of a baker. So this birthday resolution was to learn baking.

Today I have made Challah. Challah is a jewish bread( said like halla). You would typically see this in a braided form. Since I am making this for mother’s day I wanted to incorporate something that is significant to my Mom. My Mom not only loves us all very much, she has also created a family where all of us love each other very much.We are four siblings and we are like a tight fist.

Today I decided to make a round challah with four ropes and top it with four different seeds. This represent how my Mom’s love has brought us together and sort of her arms around the four of us.

Mother’s day Challah

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The recipe comes from a very famous book, Breaking breads .  I am in love with that book and you will be seeing many more recipes soon. I love how he not gives step by step instructions but also tells a bit of a history as well.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1000 grams ( about 7 cups) flour sifted well
  • 400 grams room temperature water
  • 15 grams Active dry yeast
  •  100 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 15 grams salt

Egg wash and toppings

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2/3 cup different seeds, I have used Nigella, Poppy, Fennel and sesame seeds

Mix all of these together to make an egg wash

Method

Make the dough

  • In a stand mixer, add water and yeast, whisk it till combined
  • Add flour, eggs, sugar and salt
  • Mix the dough on low speed till the ingredients are combined. Stop and sracpe the flour if needed to avoid dry flour patches. It should take about 2 mins for the dough to come together
  • Now increase the speed and knead the dough on medium for about 4 minutes.
  • Now take the dough on a lightly floured surface
  • stretch and fold the dough  for about a minute as shown in the picture below 

     

  • Rest the dough for about 45 mins. It should be about 70% risen
  • Heat the oven at 425 F
  • Shaping the dough-Today I am going to shape it in a circle with 4 ropes, representing my Mom’s four kids. 
    • Take the risen dough and gently put it on a floured board.
    • Make it into a rectangle, make sure you do not deflate the dough
    • Cut the rectangle into 2 pieces.  Keep one piece aside.
    • With one half of the rectangle, make four parts.
    • Roll each part into a 14 inch cylinder
    • Weave the four ropes as I call them into a round
  • Cover and let it proof for at least 40 mins. To check if the dough has risen enough , when you press the dough surface with your finger, the indentation should fill up about 1/2 way. If your dough is not risen, the indentation wont fill, if its over risen, it will fill up to fast
  • Decorating
    • Now comes the fun part, decorating the challah
    • Brush with challah with egg-wash
    • Sprinkle with seeds of your choice.
  • Here I have used four different seeds to decorate
  • Bake at 425 F for about 25-30 mins
  • Serve with butter & honey. I served it with a Apple -Honey Jam

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Dulce de Leche Ice cream

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It all started with churros. I ate these churros in Mazatlán and have been wanting to try the recipe. I decided to pair those churros with ice-cream to make a perfect sandwich. Since I was pairing with churros, I thought why not make Mexican inspired ice-cream.

So here is it, Dulce de Leche Ice cream. Dulce de Leche translated into ‘Sweet of milk’. We get it in a can here in the local Mexican grocery store. If you can not get your hand on one, you can easily make it from your regular condensed milk.  This has all the goodness of the condensed milk with enriched flavors as all the sugar is nicely caramelized.

How to make Dulce de Leche from regular condensed milk

Typically all ice-creams start with a custard base, which has eggs, milk and sugar. However this recipe is egg-less so vegetarians can also enjoy.

 

I got the original recipe from Epicurean but I decided to put my own twist. I love to add salt and heat to my desserts. So today I have decided to kick this ice-cream up a notch with Ancho chili powder. I love this and use it a lot in my many recipes. Ancho chili is a sweet pepper. It is the dried form of Poblano peppers.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can Dulce de Leche
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Ancho chili powder

Method

  • Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, then remove from heat
  • Whisk in dulce de leche ( save 3-4 tbsps) until mixed well
  • Whisk in vanilla & the Ancho chili powder
  • Cool the mixture stirring occasionally till its at room temperature
  • Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm.
  • Towards the end add the saved Dulce de leche. It will add nice streaks to the ice-cream
  • Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

Churros

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I love Mexican food, in fact the whole family loves it very much. Sometimes I wonder if I was Mexican in my previous birth, because just as much Indian food, Mexican food is a constant feature in my kitchen.

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It’s Cinco de Mayo and I love to celebrate it. I never need an excuse to make something tasty, but when it’s fiesta time, it’s so much more fun! Such celebrations remind us that we live in the land of the free where many cultures have blended so well.

Anytime I visit a new place, the first thing I do is visit the local markets. I feel like I can learn so much more about the culture and the people of that country. Sometimes, people outside a country get a very limited view of that country’s cuisine. There were so many things in this Mazatlán market that I had never seen in the US! I ate these amazing churros in that market. They were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the cinnamon sugar that they were dipped in was at the perfect level of sweetness to make you crave for just one more! Ever since I had those churros, I have been meaning to try them in my own kitchen.

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Most of the recipes for churro call for eggs, but the street vendor didn’t use eggs in his dough. So I am taking that vendor as inspiration and bringing you an eggless churro recipe. Seriously, this comes together in an hour from start to finish (including the cooldown time).

Today I am planning to pair these churros with something yummy. When you think of summer, the first thing that comes to mind is ice-cream, right? Today I am making an ice-cream to go with our churros. The contrast of crunchy churros with creamy ice-cream is just yummy.

I make a weekly trip to my local Mexican store and that’s where I picked up a can of ‘dulce de leche’ (which translates to sweetened milk). Dulce de leche is a smooth, gooey goodness that I can eat with a spoon directly from a can. It goes great on your ice-cream sundaes, you can make flan with it and so much more.

Today’s ice-cream is a Dulce de Leche Ice-cream. It is a super simple recipe. Also, just like the churro, this is also an egg-free recipe.

Back to our churros. Typically, churros are a straight stick but today, since I’m planning to use them to make my ice-cream sandwich, I am going to pipe them in a spiral. I have decided to use a gadget which is very common in a Indian household, a chakli/murukku maker. It is used to make many savory snacks as well as fresh rice noodles. I love it because it’s very easy to use and clean. It comes with many discs which help you make different shapes.  I have a video on youtube which show I made it.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2  tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup  unbleached all-purpose flour

Oil for frying

For

  • 1/2 cup white sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ancho chili powder

Directions

  1. In a small pot, heat  water, 2 tbsp sugar, salt and oil on a medium flame. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in flour until mixture forms a ball.
  2. Let the dough cool down till it’s ok to handle.
  3. While you are piping the churros, heat the oil on low heat. I have used regular vegetable oil for frying.
  4. Now it’s time to pipe out the churros. Since I am planning to make the cookies, I will be making churros with a smaller diameter. However, you can use a pastry bag with a large star tip if you are making big sized churros.
  5. Pipe out 3″ spirals onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I like my ice-cream sandwiches to be bite-sized, so I won’t make them huge.)
  6. If the weather is hot, you can stick these piped spirals in the freezer for a few minutes. This helps the spirals stay together, or you might end up with a long churro in your pan.
  7. Fry the churros until golden brown. Make sure you don’t fry them on high heat, otherwise they will stay doughy inside and burnt outside.
  8. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, ancho chili powder and cinnamon. Roll drained churros in the mixture.

Notes:

  • I made the churros two ways:
    • The ones I fried right after I piped them were soft
    • The one I froze before I fried stayed much crispier

Nepalese Fiddlehead Ferns

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I love going to the farmers market no matter where I go. So when I walked to the ferry building in San Francisco yesterday, I decided to swing by the market and pick up something for dinner. I picked up some kumquats and Lisbon lemons. I went inside the building. That building is one of my favorite places to visit, yummy baked goods, flavorful olive oils, natural soap, ice-cream, so many fun things to try. 

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There is a shop that is  my favorite shop, they carry different kinds of mushroom among other interesting things. I visit them every time I go there.  Today I saw some morels, ramps and fiddlehead ferns. I was so excited because I have never cooked ramps or fiddlehead before. I bought them and planned my dinner around it.
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Today I saw some morels, ramps and fiddlehead ferns. I was so excited because I have never cooked ramps or fiddlehead before. I bought them and planned my dinner around it.
When I started reading about it I found out that even though Fiddlehead ferns are not common across India, the northern states of India use it when in season. In Kashmir region, these are pickled as well. You cook it with some dry spices with potatoes.
In Nepal it is used as well.  I remembered that when I visited Nepal in Feb 2015, I had eaten ‘ Neuro ko Tarkari’ and I had loved it . So today I decided to make a Nepalese recipe with these fiddleheads.
Like all other Nepalese recipe, it is very easy to make and quite simple.
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Ingredients

  •  3-4 cups Fiddlehead ferns
  • 2-3 tbsp Clarified butter/ Ghee
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 green chili chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin powder ( optional)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder (optional)

Method

  • With a soft brush remove the brown fuzzy part from the ferns
  • Cut off the fat, tough stems ( just like asparagus)
  • Boil a pot of salted water and blanch the ferns
  • Chop roughly or leave it whole. I left mine whole since they were baby size
  • Heat ghee, when hot add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds chili and turmeric
  • Add chopped garlic and saute lightly. Dont let the garlic burn
  • Add the blanched ferns
  • Saute for a couple of mins, add the ground spices
  • Serve as a side dish

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Sandesh- a message of love

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Sandesh- a message of love

I am a die-hard dessert fan. I love to end my meal with  tiny morsel of sweet. It does not have to be fancy , even a small piece of jaggery (palm sugar) works wonderfully.

I enjoy good cakes and pastries once in a while but my weakness is all the milk based desserts. Indian dessert are mainly milk based, and one particular region in India makes some amazing varieties. West Bengal is a state in the eastern India. Kolkata (Calcutta) is the capitol which on a side note was also the capital of ‘British India’.  West Bengal is known for many things, the ganges delta, the artistic talent, culture, and many famous personalities like Rabindra nath Tagore, Swami Vivekandanda to name a few.

Bengalis ( as the people from Bengal are referred to) are connoisseurs, be it poetry, music or food. Some of my favorite musicians are from this state.

Coming to food, Bengalis know how to enjoy food and like all other states in India, food is an integral part of the celebrations, festivals. One of the biggest festival is Durga Pooja, a festivals that is celebrated to mark the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon.

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Durga painting by me

The diet from this region is rice centric and fish is an integral part. Ganges delta produces some amazing produce and of course the fish. More on this later

Back to desserts, my husband, Abhi, is not a huge dessert fan but even he can not say no to Bengali desserts. His favorite, Ras Malai. He is my partner in crime in everything, he supports me in every possible way and truly is a Life partner, through thick and thin. I am so lucky to have him in my life

We are celebrating our anniversary soon. He some how figures out the most perfect thing (or things) to give me. This year, I have received 2 gifts so far and I have a feeling that there are more to come.

I have always been obsessed with learning about food and culture from different cuisines. Old recipes, forgotten ingredients and stories associated with them, I love it all. Abhi knows that well, so this years two gifts have been 1. Spice from Kashmir 2. A mold from West Bengal . He did not have a lot of time on hand but still made sure to go and look for this for me. It says it all, he remembers and makes an effort

Now about the mold ( or mould), I am fascinated by the various molds used across the world and I am collecting them. More on that later .

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Abhi knew that I have been looking for Sandesh molds ever since I saw them, so when he visited Kolkata he remembered and brought some back for me. Those molds may not cost a lot but they are price less for me. It goes to show how well he knows me, how well he remembers what I like, and how much he love me to get such little things in his busy schedule.

I was sitting in the backyard having my morning chai, thinking about what to make for anniversary, and then I thought why not use the gift he got me.

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So today’s simple recipe is dedicated to our love- ‘Pyaar ka Sandesh’ which translates to ‘a message of love’. How appropriate I thought for the special occasion.

I know some of you might think it cheesy, well it is. It is after all made with fresh farmstead indian cheese. 🙂

What is Sondesh/Sandesh/Sandes, it is a sweet or confectionary that is made from sweetened Chenna. Chenna is a cottage cheese made from whole milk and curdled using lemom/lime juice or vinegar. This forms a base for many Bengali desserts that Abhi and I love.

Sandesh dates back to many years ago where possible a different version of Sandesh was made, however it is said that the Portugese influence might have introduced the current ‘cheese’ based version. Its a very versatile recipe, can be made quickly and flavored easily.

Today I have made a very basic Sandesh, clean and simple like our love and flavored with Orange Blossom. Orange blossom is one of most favorite fragrances along with saffron.


I followed the recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor’s web site

Prep Time : 31-40 minutes

Cook time : 16-20 minutes

Serve : 4

Level Of Cooking : Moderate

Taste : Sweet

Ingredients

  •  8 cups Whole Milk

  • 1/2 cup Granulated or powdered Sugar

  • 1/4 cup Lemon juice

  • 1/2 tsp Orange blossom water

Method

Step 1

Bring the milk to a boil in a deep, thick-bottomed non-stick pan. Add the lemon juice and stir till the milk curdles. Strain and immediately refresh the chhenna in chilled water.

Step 2

Put the chhenna in a piece of muslin and squeeze till all the water is drained out.

Step 3

Knead the chhenna well with the heel of your hand. Add caster sugar and  knead again.

Step 4

Cook in a non-stick pan on medium heat for eight minutes. Remove from heat and divide into twelve equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and make a dent on the top.

Step 5

When cooled,add the orange blossom water. Shape using the mold or roll them up to a desired shape.

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Til-Gul Babka Jewish Indian bread

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Nothing is more appetizing than the smell of freshly made bread. Be it the fresh roti that is made right on the stove top or a loaf of bread baked in the oven.. it calls everyone to the kitchen and around the dining table. I am not much of a baker, I do bake cakes occasionally but it does not come to me naturally. I feel cakes are way easier than the breads, when you start baking breads, you are going closer to the science than art.

After MasterChef, one of the goals has been to bake more often and since my family is not too much into the cakes, and I like to challenge myself, I am planning to bake more breads and try new techniques.

January is one of my favorite months. This is the month of resolutions, new beginnings and many more things. One of the things is Hurda, its my most favorite thing on this face earth, and this is the time we celebrate Sankranti. This is the only festival in Maharashtra that is based on a Solar/Gregorian calendar, rest of them are all lunar calendar based. Sankranti is celebrated on the 14th of Jan, and other parts of India celebrate this festival with different names, Pongal in southern India, Bihu in Eastern India, Uttarayan in Western India and Lohri in Northern India.  The common theme is great food and happiness and most of the  sweets  are made from Sesame seeds and Jaggery. Both these foods create ‘heat’ in the body and hence eaten during this winter season.

Going back to my baking breads, as you know, I love combining flavors. I had seen this sesame bread recipe on pintrest and that is also my source of inspiration today.So I decided to make this bread which is fit for the Sankrant and something new. Here it comes;

Til Gul Babka

 

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I know right, it sounds crazy but tasted yummy, if you are into sweet breads, you might want to give it a try. This recipe is quite versatile and can be easily made into a savory bread as well, all you have to change is the filling and you are good to go.

I had read about this technique of ‘Tangzhong‘ and decided to try using it with this bread. I think it definitely helped keep the bread very moist. Tangzhong is a a Japanese technique, it makes for a very sticky dough that is very tricky to handle, but thats what makes for the very soft final product.

Tangzhong is nothing else but a paste made with flour and water, you cook it to almost a roux like consistency. You cool it and mix it in the dough.It sounds so simple and it is, but let me tell you, it created incredibly soft almost pillowy bread.

I think I am so in love this technique that I think I will end up using in everything I bake. 🙂

Back to the recipe

Ingredients

Tangzhong

  • 50 g  Flour
  • 1 cup milk

Bread dough

  • 350 g Bread Flour ( about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 salt
  • 65 g sugar ( about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup warm Milk
  • 2 tsp Yeast
  • About 1 cup Tangzhong
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Filling

  • 1/2 cup Crushed Jaggery ( you can use dark brown sugar if you can not find jaggery)
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanut
  • 4 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 4-5 Tbsp ghee ( or softened unsalted butter)

Method

Making Tangzhong

  • Mix in the water and flour to form a good slurry
  • Cook it on low flame till it thickens. It should be a little less thick that a mashed potatoes. One way to check is if you stop stirring, does the mixture stays in circles and you can see the bottom of the pan
  • Take it off the heat, cover with a plastic wrap, making sure it touches the surface of the paste. This will ensure that no crust forms
  • Cool the Tangzhong to use later

Making the filling

  • Grind all the ingredients except the ghee and molasses
  • Mix the powder in ghee and molasses to make a paste

Making the dough

  • Warm up the milk and add the yeast. Leave it aside for 10-15 mins for it to foam up
  • Until then mix, Flour, Salt, sugar, sesame seeds
  • Add an egg and mix
  • Now add the yeast and milk mixture and mix for 30 secs
  • Add the tangzhong that is cooled
  • Now knead the dough in the stand mixer for 10-15 mins
  • Keep adding softened butter while the mixer is running
  • The dough will be a very wet dough, don’t worry. If the dough sticks to the bottom of the bowl, don’t worry
  • Take a greased bowl and transfer the dough.Let the dough roof for at least 2 hours.
  • I like to proof my dough in the fridge, so I can use it when I am ready
  • The dough should double in size

Assembling it together

  • Punch and deflate the dough
  • Roll it into a reactangle
  • Spread the filling evenly

Shaping the bread

  • Take the rolled log and cut it along the length with a sharp knife
  • Twist the two parts together to form a braid keeping the cut side up
  • Take a bread loaf pan that is greased and lined with a parchment paper
  • Add the dough in it and let it rest for at least 60 mins

Baking

  • Heat the oven at 350 F
  • Brush the dough with egg wash and bake for 25-30 mins in a 350F

Note:

  1. This dough was a little more than a standard bread loaf can handle, so I removed about 1/3 cup dough before shaping it
  2. If you can not find molasses, you can substitute with honey

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Pakatali Poori- Saffron- Lemon flavored bread

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I not only love to cook and learn new foods, but also love to learn about the ‘Old foods’. I feel in this era of instant and quick foods, we are missing out on some incredible dishes. We dont know how to use certain ingredients and soon those will become extinct. A lot of the dishes our gradmoms made, have never been a part of the food at our table.

I am thankful to books like Ruchira, we have access to at least a few of the Maharashtrian recipes. Its a book that is given as a wedding gift to every new bride in Maharashtra. I have used it extensively as when I got married, I did not know how to cook. I would call my mom but 1 minute call to India costed $1.90 and there was no internet. So getting cookbooks, going to the library and watching cooking shows was how I learnt my cooking.

Going back to the ‘lost recipe’, this recipe is almost on the verge of it. Today is Vasant Panchami, a day that marks the arrival of the ‘Vansant ( spring)’ season and you also worship Goddess Saraswati on this day.

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 This is a very special recipe because of Baba’s aunt used to make it, and she made it really well. I thought, why not make something I have never made before,after all Saraswati is a goddess of Knowledge, and what better tribute than a new( old) recipe. 

I have made  a couple of small modifications o the original recipe, I mixed half Rava and half all purpose flour, also rolled the poori like you roll the Chirota or Khaja ( another Maharashtrian delicacy)

It is a very easy recipe and you will find most of the needed ingredients at home. 

Pakatali Poori

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Ingredients 

Poori

  • 1/2 cup fine rave
  • 1/2 cup All purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp Ghee ( clarified butter) melted and slightly warm
  • 3 tbsp sour full fat yogurt 
  • Pinch of salt

Syrup

  • 1 cup fine sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom powder
  • Saffron strands
  • Juice of 1 Meyer Lemon

Method

Poori

  • Mix the rave and APF together with salt
  • Add warm ghee and rub it well in the dry mixture
  • Add dahi to make a stiff dough. If the yogurt/dahi is not sour, you can leave it on the counter so it turns sour. It is crucial since that it what gives these pooris or breads a nice taste
  • Let the dough rest for at least an hour. If you have used only Rava, you would need to let it rest for 2 hours
  • After 2 hours, pound the dough, this is necessary to make it pliable. If you have a stand up mixer, you can use the dough attachment to do the work 

Syrup

  • Mix sugar and water and cook till its ‘2 string stage’ *
  • Heat a pan on very low flame, add the saffron strands and slightly roast them. You are just warming them and not quite roasting. Warming them makes them crumbly and hence they mix well in the syrup
  • Add cardamom powder, saffron and the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Keep the syrup on a low flame, but keep it warm. This ensures that the syrup soaks in the Pooris. If the syrup is not warm enough, it will only create a coat on the outside

Making the Pooris

  • Heat oil in a deep pan
  • You can roll the Pooris like a regular flat bread, or
  • Roll out a big poori. Make a roll and cut into 4-5 pieces
  • Flatten those pieces again to make a poori
  • Fry the poori till golden brown
  • Drain and immediately add them to the warm syrup. 
  • Ater 10-15 mins, take them out and arrange on a plate
  • If you like, you can user slivered almonds or pistachios as well

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Blood Orange-Meyer lemon tart

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Master Chef taught me many things and one of them was that desserts are not as difficult to make as they seem. I normally don’t bake as much however the new year resolution is to try to new baking recipes.

Today’s recipe started from my Farmer’s market visit. I went to the market after a long time and as usual got excited and picked up a whole bunch of things. Market is full of citrus and all cold weather vegetables like Kohlrabi, Cauliflower, Ash gourd and so much more. Amongst the citrus, there was blood orange, Meyer Lemon along with pomelo etc.

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Blood orange is a very short season so I try to make as many things as I can while its available in the market. I also make Blood Orange Marmalade to enjoy later in the year. I have not posted a recipe for it , but I promise I will soon. Meyer lemon is another citrus which is so versatile and I love it.

I also found some fresh red chilies. I love cooking with these but most of all I always end up making Harissa when ever I get these in the  market.

When I got home, I looked at my market loot and thought of making use of these citrus and chili to make something that helps me keep with my new year resolution of baking more, so here is what I made.

I love combining flavors and today I decided to play on the classic combination of Chili, Lime ( here lemon), Cumin and sugar. Some how I feel it just makes it perfectly balanced dessert. Blood Orange curd is inspired by ‘Bojon Gourmet’

Blood Orange- Meyer Lemon Tart with Chili Jam

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Now you might ask, what is the difference in a Pie Crust and a Tart base. There are two main differences:

  1. How you make the dough-
    • When you are making a pie-dough, you take the fat ( in most cases it is butter), and cut it into the flour to make a bread crumb like texture. You add ice cold water to bring the dough together.
    • For the tart, you make a ‘Pâte Sucrée’, which is basically a sweet short crust. For this, you cream the butter and sugar and then add the flour.
  2. Egg or no egg
    • For the Pie Dough, you use ice cold water to bind the dough
    • Tart dough is an enriched dough with some egg yolks. This also makes the dough a lot more crumbly than the pie crust.

So here now you know the difference, lets make that crust.

Crust

Ingredients

  • 250 g Flour
  • 100 g Sugar
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp coarse ground Cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Method

  • Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer
  • Add the egg and mix well
  • Add the flour, Cumin, and salt mixture
  • Bring it together with a wooden spoon. Don’t overmix
  • Make two discs and wrap it in plastic
  • Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours

 

  • Take out the dough and roll it to fit a 9 inch Tart pan
  • Bake it at 350 F for about 25 mins

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Curd

Ingredients

  •  1 tbsp Zest of 1 blood orange
  • 1/4 tsp chopped chilies ( seeds removed)
  • 3/4 cup Blood Orange Juice
  • 3 tbsp Meyer Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 eggs plus
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Method

  • Make a Bain Marie or Double boiler. I use a 2 quart saucepan and fill it with 2 inches of water and bring it boil. I add all my ingredients in a steel bowl and cook it over the boiling water. I feel this helps the eggs from scrambling and you get a smooth curd.
  • Mix both the juices, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and whisk well to combine
  • Cook over a double boiler till the mixture thickens and reaches 160F.
  • I have learnt that using a thermometer makes it easy to know when the eggs are cooked ( from food safety perspective)
  • Now take the bowl off the heat and quickly whisk in the butter pieces
  • Pour it into the cooled tart
  • Bake for 20-25 mins in a 350 F ovenimg_7190
  • Cool the tart in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours

 

Chili Jam

This recipe is super simple and I feel it adds the heat and salt needed to balance this desert.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 chopped red chilies ( try and take out as many seeds as possibile
  • 4 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt

Method

  • Mix everything and cook on a slow flame till the mixture thickens

 

To serve

Cut a piece of tart.Serve with whipped cream, blood orange supreme and some chili jam

Star Anise Panna cotta with Khubani

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This is where my Master Chef  journey began. A very close friend really pushed me to sign up for Master Chef Auditions. The auditions were on Saturday and Friday evening at 7:00 PM I had not idea what I would bring for the auditions. I decided to make this recipe which has been my family favorite. I walked into the auditions with the Panna cotta and heart beating fast.

Star Anise Panna cotta

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 Panncotta is an italian word that translates to ‘ Cooked Cream’. It is such an easy to make dish and yet it is very easily customizable. You can change flavors, pair it with different things and the best part, it looks super fancy.
I tried quite a few recipes till I settled on this one.  It tastes just like the panna cotta served at Italian restaurants. I like to serve it with fruits or even chocolate sauce, or stewed fruits.
Today I have flavored it with one of my favorite spices, Star Anise & served with stewed apricots. In Hyderabad ( India) there is a sweet, Khubani ka Meetha, and my inspiration for  today’s dessert comes from that.

Panna Cotta

Ingredients

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  • 1/2cup  milk
  • 1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin ( I used Knox powder today)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 6-8 Star anise
  • 5-6 Whole black pepper

Method

  1. Blooming the gelatin: Pour milk into a small bowl, and stir in the gelatin powder. Set aside.This will help gelatin absorb the milk and mix well
  2. Pound the spices in a mortar and pestle. Keep them coarse
  3. In a saucepan, stir together the heavy cream and sugar, and set over medium heat until it is lukewarm, and set it aside for 1 hour or so. Longer the better.
  4. Setting aside the cream helps the flavors of spices seep into the cream beautifully.
  5. Bring to a full boil, don’t let it over flow. Pour the gelatin and milk into the cream, stirring until completely dissolved.
  6. Cook for one minute, stir so the gelatin does not form a lump.
  7. Remove from heat, strain and pour into  individual ramekin dishes.
  8. Cool the ramekins uncovered at room temperature.
  9. When cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally  overnight before serving.

Stewed Apricots

Ingredients

  • 10-12 Dried Apricot
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2-3 Star anise
  • 2-3Whole black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

  • Chop the apricots fine
  • Add sugar, water, spices and apricots in a small sauce pan
  • On a low flame cook till the apricots are softened and the water gets nice and syrupy.
  • Remove the spices before serving

 

Pistachio Rose caramel

Will Update the recipe soon.

To serve

Demold the pannacotta and serve with the stewed apricot. I also love to use candied Pistachio while serving.