Monthly Archives: September 2015

Cilantro pesto-Dhaniya chutney

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Do you know anyone who  has the ability to just brighten up the room the minute they enter in. It is their smile, genuine nice attitude or even the way they crack jokes, they just makes the situation nicer.

I cherish such friends, very thankful to have them in my life.

If I had to relate this back to the food, I think condiments are like these special friends. Anytime if it seems like what you have cooked for dinner is just blah, a nice chutney, salsa, dip can come to the rescue and help revive the meal. 

I love condiments of all kinds. I love making yogurt based dips, spicy chutneys, fresh salsas of various kinds. My favorite of all are the spicy condiments.

When my kids were younger everything I cooked was very mild. I am lucky that my kids eat all the vegetables ever since they were babies so I wanted to make sure it stays that way. As a result I would also have to eat very mild food, that was really hard. So I started making chutneys and relishes, these were spicy and complimented the mild food well.

One such chutney is the ‘Cilantro chutney’. You can also call it Cilantro pesto.  My friend Uma taught me this one. What I love about this recipe is all the things needed are usually available easily at home. It takes only a few minutes to make and stays well in fridge for a week, although I must warn you, it is so yummy that it barely lasts a day, usually it is cleaned up quickly.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup of washed , cleaned Cilantro
  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8-10 spicy green chilies ( I use thai chilies since I like it spicy)
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp oil

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Method

  • Dry roast the peanuts
  • Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and turmeric powder
  • Add chopped green chilies and chopped garlic
  • Saute for 30 seconds, don’t let the garlic or chili burn or brown.
  • Add cilantro and turn the heat off.  Add salt. Cover and leave it to warm through.
  • Grind the peanuts to a powder.
  • Add cooled cilantro mixture and grind to a paste. I like to keep it a little coarse and not grind it super fine.

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It can be used in many ways. I love serving it in the pretty yellow bowl. I bought it in Nepal, we visited Bhaktapur darbar. Amongst many other beautiful carvings and handicraft we also got to see beautiful pottery. It was amazing to see the potters turn the wheel and make these beautiful art pieces. 

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1. Mix it with some sour cream, yogurt or Greek yogurt to make a quick dip. I love it with pita chips.

2. Mix it with butter to make a great sandwich spread. I love to add some sliced avocado and make an open faced sandwich. I also like to add alfalfah sprouts to this, add a nice crunch to this already tasty sandwich.

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Sita Bhog

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Today is Ganesh Chaturthi. It marks the beginning of the 10 day period where Lord Ganesha is brought home. This festival started by a freedom fighter in Maharashtra in 1894. India was then ruled by the british and  public place congregation was not allowed. So celebrating the Ganesh festival gave people an opportunity to congregate.

People keep the idol in the homes for 1, 3, 5, 10 days..it is all based on the family tradition. There is festive atmosphere and a lot of yummy food is made.

I like Ganesh because he is pretty chilled out…no hang ups, no hard rules.. Although he likes a few special things like Modak ( a steamed rice bun with sweet coconut filling), he does not mind if you offer him something else. 🙂

He is considered the beginning and the end.  He forgives everyone, they say which is why his tummy is big. He taken in all the sins and hides them in his tummy. He is also the god of knowledge & wisdom. When you start anything new, you worship him first. His ride is a mouse and they make quite pair.

He came this morning with his friend and said give me something to eat.

He came to play

Ganesh with his friend

So today I decided to make something special for him, something I have never made before and thought he also might like something new.

This dish was not easy to make but I am glad I did. It is not what it looks, so let us see how many of you know?

Today’s dish is called Sita Bhog. I learnt about it from a friend on another

SITA BHOG

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Bengal is a eastern region of India. It is known for its artistic talent and love for good food especially sweets.  When you say Bengali Mithai ( a word for sweet), you often  think of Rosogolla, Mishti Doi and Sandesh. Today’s dish is a mithai that is much lesser known. Burdwan region of Bengal is known for this sweet. Legend has it that it made in honor of a British Viceroy , when he visited  Burdwan in February 1904.
When you look at this dish, you can easily mistake it for a bowl of sweet white rice accompanied with miniature gulab jamun pieces, but there’ s more than what meets the eye and definitely the palate.

Sita Bhog

 

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Ingredients

Cheese Grain

4 cups whole milk
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/3 cup Rice powder 
1 tbsp milk for kneading if needed

1 cup Sugar
 1 cup water
 Oil or Ghee  for frying
 1/2 tsp Green cardamom powder( optional)
1 tbsp Golden Raisins
Saffron- a pinch

Gulab Jamun ( Nikuti)

1 cup Milk Powder
 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 pinch Baking soda
Oil/ Ghee for frying 
2 tbsp Yugurt

1 cup Sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp Green cardamom powder

Method:

Boil the milk in a large pan. When it starts to boil. lower the heat and add 1 to 2 tbsp of vinegar to it. Turn the heat off. Start stirring the milk, you will see that the milk has started to curdle. If needed you may put one more tsp of vinegar to completely curdle the milk. When you see a greenish colour whey, then pour this over a strainer lined with cheese cloth to drain out the water. Let it cool.
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Take the cheese in a big bowl and add rice powder .Mix it well. Keep kneading. If it feels rather hard, add a bit of milk into it and knead again. Make the dough soft & elastic.
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In another bowl put the sugar and water and let it boil. Make a thick syrup; Put the rest of the cardamom powder to it and the saffron for color and flavour.
Fry the raisins slightly in 1 tsp full of oil and keep aside.

Now put the pan on flame. Pour oil and heat it.
Take a sieve. Take one small ball of the cheese mixture and press it so that tiny, oblong, rice-like bits of cheese drops into the oil. Don’t take long stroke otherwise you would have a string more than a rice like grain.
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Deep fry till a light brown colour. Take them out and keep aside.
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This is what they look like when fried. Make sure you fry on a low heat and try to keep them white.
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Add the fried Raisins and the cheese drops in the sugar syrup. Mix it well. Let it be soaked in the syrup from 10 to 15 minutes and then spread it on a plate to cool.
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In a Mixing Bowl add Milk powder, Maida, Soda-Bicarbonate,1 1/2 tsp ghee. Add enough yogurt to make a soft dough.

Heat ghee in a deep frying pan.Make small 15-20 oval shapes and fry until golden brown in color.
In another pan add water and sugar and put it to boil, Heat until it make a light syrup.. Put these small balls into the hot syrup. Let it cool and then you can mix these Gulab Jamun in the Cheese grains prepared earlier.

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Tiramisu French Toast- dessert for breakfast

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One day I was sitting down with a cup of coffee and a toast and I suddenly remembered about a recipe my daughter had read about some where, it sounded delicious. I thought why not try it today. I think it was from buzzfeed so not sure but I think it was from soem blog that said,” Peas and carrots’ or some like that.

I am not a coffee drinker but I love coffee flavored sweets for sure. I love coffee cookies, coffee ice-cream, coffee cake, and of course Tiramisu. I also love bringing in coffee flavor into Indian Dessert, a couple of years ago I made ‘Coffee Kalakand’ , a yummy milk based dessert and everyone loved it. It tasted almost like milk fudge.

I love dairy,it is a world known fact :). I love Mascarpone cheese , I love the sweet creamy flavor and the fact that it is not super tart. I like using it in desserts but also stir in soups, spread on my toast.

So going back to my toast and the breakfast I wanted to make. It is a dessert take on a breakfast food. I call it Tiramisu french toast. Can you imagine how happy and bright the day would be if you eat this for breakfast? My kids loved it, I loved seeing their happy faces.

It has coffee, mascarpone cheese and it is easy to make, what more can one ask for?

Tiramisu French Toast

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Ingredients:
  • 8 slices thick-cut texas toast (white)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder ( or instant coffee) + 1tbsp of espresso
  • 4-6 oz mascarpone cheese

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to serve ( all optional):
  • Powdered sugar
  • Fresh fruit
Method:
  • Mix together the eggs, milk, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso and espresso powder. I like to mix the cocoa first with about 1/4 cup of milk into a paste and then add rest of the ingredients.

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  • Using a paring knife, carefully cut a pocket into the bread, It is ok if you poke the knife through, remember the whole thing will get dipped in the egg mixture. I found it helpful to put the slice on the counter as it make it easy to make a pocket with a flat knife on the counter.

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  • Gently spoon in 1-1.5 tbsp of mascarpone. It is important that the cheese is at room temperature,it helps spoon easy.

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  • Pour some of the egg mixture in a shallow bowl.
  • Dip the bread in the cocoa/egg mixture, allowing it to absorb for about 15 seconds per side. I feel if you keep it longer, the french toast gets very mushy.

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  • Heat an omelet pan  over medium heat, and cook the toast for about 3 minutes, flipping and cooking for another 2-3 minutes. The bread will stiffen slightly when it is ready to flip.

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  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with fresh raspberries and toasted hazelnuts.

Stuffed Paneer with Khubani Chutney

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Apricot -Paneer Tikka

I love it when a recipe looks like a million bucks, tastes like a trillion bucks and yet it is so easy to put together. I also like the fact that you can prepare parts of the recipe and simply assemble it when you are ready to serve.

Today’s dish fits that description very well. I just love how nicely the delicate flavors of the apricot marries with rich home made paneer. Paneer is a form of a cheese, very similar to ricotta cheese but firmer. It is made by curdling the boiled milk with some acid like lemon juice, white vinegar. It is an integral part of the North Indian Cuisine. You see this a lot in the Nawabi or Moghlai cuisine. These cuisines represent the dishes made for the kings and queens of India.

I love cooking with dried apricots. I love dessert made with dried apricot, another Nawabi dish from the southern state of Hyderabad in India, Khubani ka meetha. I will share that recipe some time soon. I also love making stuffed apricots and Apricot Alomond cake.

Back to our recipe today, I got this recipe from a dear friend Harjeet, a very talented chef. I l love how he put together simple ingredients to make delectable food.

I have also been playing with food photography. I recently bought these pewter plates from a flea market, I have used them in the photo today, I love how they contrast the bright yellow tikka.

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Stuffed  paneer with khubani chutney

Ingredients:
1 lb Paneer
1 tbsp thick yogurt ( I make mine by hanging plain yogurt in a cheese cloth)
Salt to taste
1 tsp Turmeric

For the paste
2 tsp Mustard oil
1 tsp Yellow chili powder
1 tsp Deegi mirchi power
2 tsp Ginger garlic paste 

For the chutney
Khumani (Dry apricot)chopped 3 tbsp

1 tsp Cilantro chopped
1/2 tsp green chili chopped
1 tsp chopped mint
1 tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Black salt
1/2 tsp Roasted cumin seed 



Methods


Apricot chutney

Boil some water and add chopped apricot and cook them for a while till it becomes soft.
 
Now add sugar, roasted cumin seeds, chopped ginger, chopped green chillies, chopped mint,black salt, salt,Deggi Mirch.
Cook it on slow fire till chutney thickens and can be easily mashed with the back of a spoon. 

For paneer 
Make paneer cubes about 3/4 -1 inch thick. Make a slit in the center, make sure you don’t cut it two pieces.
Mix salt and turmeric and coat the paneer with that mixture.

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In a separate bowl mix mustard oil, turmeric, ginger garlic paste.

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Stuff the paneer pieces with the apricot chutney. Make sure that the chutney is pushed in all the way through so each bite will get a bit of chutney with it.

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Cover this stuffed paneer with the yogurt mixture.

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Now heat a little fat in a pan and pan seared this stuffed paneer till it gets a nice golden brown color.

Close up Apricot Paneer Tikka

Close up Apricot Paneer Tikka