Tag Archives: delicious

Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

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Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

It will be one year since I auditioned for Master Chef India. It has been an incredible journey and I loved every minute of it. It started with just a casual conversation with friends, them pushing me to go for the audition. I never in my imagination thought that one simple audition could lead me to the most exciting time in my life.

When I got selected from San Francisco and reached India for the next rounds, I met so many wonderful people and little did I know that we will friends for lifetime.

I am so thankful to God for this wonderful opportunity. This post is dedicated to all that I am thankful for, my family, friends, food on the table, and here is many more such amazing opportunities to come!

I always have loved the traditional recipes, the history behind them, the love you feel when you eat them, all the memories they bring back. I feel it is up to us to preserve them and pass them on to the next generation.

But there are always new things to learn and expand your horizons. New spice, new technique, new way of plating or a new ingredient, it changes everything about the dish completely.

So today’s recipe is a new take on a age old recipe, Kheer. Made in many ways, but it always signifies celebration, joy, festivities. Rice, Milk and sugar cooked together, it is that simple and yet that comforting. So many cultures have variations of this, Isarel, Syria where its called ‘Roz Bhaleeb’, Iran and even Mexico where you get to eat ‘Arroz con leche’ which is flavored with cinnamon.

Its amazing to see how food connects people, does not matter what is your nationality, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation. One of my favorite books ‘Korma Kheer Kismet by Pamela Timms. It is a fascinating chronicle of the author who lived and experienced five seasons in Delhi and her food memories

Korma,Kheer and Kismet; Five seasons in old Delhi by Timms (2014-07-01)

Just like her I fell in love with Old Delhi. Old Delhi is a walled city established by the Mughal Emperor Shaha Jahan in the early 1600s. You must visit old Delhi if you want to some of the best delicacies. Especially during the festivals like Ramdan ( Eid-ul-Fitr), the whole area is filled with aroma that is so inviting. Fried chicken, samosa, Jalebi, Faluda and so much more.

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When I visited Old Delhi, I had to visit the Kheer shop, Bade Miyan ki Kheer. I must say that by far is the most delicious thing I have ever had. The shop only sells Kheer, and it is to die for.  My insta story says it all.

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Today I decided to take that Kheer and present it in a little differently. I have tried to keep the essence of the dish intact, I hope you all enjoy it.

Kheer Panna Cotta

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Ingredients

Panna cotta

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3-4 star Anise
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  •  3/4 cup rice
  • 1 tsp agar agar powder

Syrup

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • water as needed

Method

Panna cotta

  • Take 2.5 cups of milk and whipping cream, sugar  and warm it in a sauce pan.
  • Slightly crush the star anise and cardamom and add to the milk mixture, until it almost comes to a boil. Turn the heat off
  • Let the mixture cool for a few hours.
  • While the milk mixture is resting, take 1 cup of milk and rice, and cook on low heat for at least 40 mins. You don’t want to rush this step and this is what gives you a creamy texture.
  • Stain the milk cream mixture and discard the spices
  • When the rice is almost cooked, add the spiced milk and cook more
  • While the rice is cooking, take 1/2 cup of Milk and warm it up to 100 F
  • Mix agar-agar in the 1/2 cup warm milk and mix thoroughly
  • Add the agar mixture to the cooked rice
  • Pour it in glasses and set it in the fridge

Syrup

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, use water if need to thin it to a pouring consistency

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To serve

When ready to serve, keep the glass in warm water to loosen it. Pour the sauce on a plate and gentle put the unmolded pudding/kheer on the plate.

I garnished it with dried rose petals and a pistachio tuile with rose. I will share that recipe soon.

Enjoy!

Eid Mubarak!

 

 

 
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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.

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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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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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.

 

Cardamom-Pistachio cookie

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Cardamom-Pistachio cookie

I am not much of a baker. I love making desserts but baking is another beast which I hope to tame at some point. I make cakes, simple ones and I am always thrilled when they come out good. 🙂 I love trying new recipes if I get some inspiration. I love going to different ethnic grocery stores and looking for ideas, I am always amazed at the various new things I learn each time.

One of my favorite grocery store near my home is a Persian/middle eastern grocery store. Any time I go there, I come back with something new and that starts my experimentations.

It is holiday season and holiday means cookies and cakes and all those yummy treats. I wanted to make cookies but did not which one to pick, they are all so tempting. Traditional chocolate chip, oatmeal resin, Italian biscotti, indian nankhatai, german spice cookie to name a few. So I thought why not a take help from everyone and took  a poll on my facebook page.

And majority of you said that they wanted to see a recipe that is ‘something different’ or with ‘innovative flavors’. I thought of many ideas but somehow this one seemed perfect for the time.

Here I present my first Xmas Cookie ( there are man

Cardamom- Pistachio shortbread with orange blossom glaze

Pistachio-orangeblossom

It stole my heart and the whole house smelt like heaven ( and  a lot like Haleh Bakery).

It is so easy yet looks very fancy and eclectic, you can make the dough ahead of time, keep it wrapped in the fridge. When you want, 15 minutes and you will have fresh batch of cookies.

Ingredients:

Cookie:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup natural unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted, chopped
  • 1 large egg yolk ( you can use chilled milk instead)
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

Glaze:

  • 1  cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white ( you can use 1 tbsp milk instead)
  • 3/4 tsp Orange blossom

Method:

  • In a food processor pulse the pistachios, cardamom and flour till the nuts are a little chopped
  • Add powdered sugar and pulse more
  • Add the butter and pulse till you get breadcrumb texture
  • Add the egg yolk/cold milk
  • Keep pulsing till the dough comes together

 

  • Take the dough and roll it into a log
  • Keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours for the dough to harden
  • Slice the log into about 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • Bake for 15-17 mins in a 325F
  • Let it cool completely

Glaze:

Mix all the ingredients to make the glaze.

Assembly

Take the cooled cookies, top with a small amount of glaze, decorate cookies with sliced pistachios, dried rose petals, saffron strands.

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Lighter butter chicken or pulled chicken in curry sauce

Standard

We as a family love chicken. It provides a great source of protein and can be cooked in many ways. Any who knows anything about the indian food knows one dish for sure, ‘Butter chicken or Chicken tikka masala’. My kids love CTM  as well. However the standard recipe for the sauce for CTM or BC is loaded with cream.  I saw this recipe Sharmishta posted and took inspiration to make a lighter version of CTM.

Often times when you make chicken breast it tends to dry out and then it is no fun to eat. The steps in this recipe ensure that you have a moist chicken.

For CTM, the chicken is grilled and made into Tikka and then added to the sauce, here we will try to bring in some of those flavors using another shortcut.

I am learning Spanish and I am obsessed with it. So to practice while I am cooking, just for fun, I have listed some ingredients in Spanish.

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Ingredients

For the chicken stock:
1 lb Boneless Chicken breast piece flattened with a kitchen pallet
1 onion cubed
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2″ pc of ginger
Few cilantro stems
Whole garam masala (cloves , cinnamon, cardamom and star anise)

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For the sauce:
2-3 Onions chopped finely
1/2 Tomato puree
1 tspn ginger garlic paste
Salt acc to taste
1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chilli powder
1 tsp Coriander seeds powder
1 tsp Kasoori Methi
Garam masala pwd
2-3 tbspn cream
2 bay leaves
1-2 tspn Tandoori Masala
Ghee
Oil

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1 few drops of liquid smoke ( optional)

For the tempering
1 tbspn ghee
1 tspn finely chopped garlic
1 Whole red chilli

Method

First boil water in a large pan and add the ingredients listed under stock. Once the water becomes flavorful add the chicken pieces and bring it to a boil. Turn the gas off and let the chicken sit in it for 5 mins. Then remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and shred it.

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Also strain the stock and keep aside.
Mix some tandoori masala to the shredded chicken and sauté in little ghee for a minute or two and keep aside. Sauteing in the ghee with the masala imparts a flavor close to grilling it in a tandoor

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Now heat oil in a pan and add the bay leaf and onions. Fry till it starts turning golden brown and add the ginger garlic paste and tomato puree. Add the dry spices  along with 1 tsp tandoor masala and sauté till you see oil leaving the masala.

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If you feel the masala becoming too dry you can add the stock little at a time.

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Now add the shredded chicken to the masala and sauté well. Once the masala coats the chicken well add the remaining stock and let it cook.

 

Once the stock reduces add the cream garam masala and Kasoori methi. Adjust the seasonings. Add the liquid smoke if using.

Now in a separate pan heat ghee and sauté dry red chilli and chopped garlic and pour over the chicken masala. Cover and let it stand for a minute or two so that all the flavors are absorbed.
You can serve this with naan , roti , Paratha or roomali roti.

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I made chicken salad sandwiches and wraps with the left overs and it was fun. My co workers loved it too. In fact, we are now going to make this together at my house in summer.