Thursday, January 22, 2009

Saffron Pulao

'Saffron' is one of the top 10 exotic food ingredients in the world.It has a straw-like fragnence and gives a bright crimson color to a dish.When I was a kid,somebody gave a box of saffron and to use it up, every night my grandma gives 'saffron milk'.I hated that smell and comment ' smells like an expired medicine'..ha ha..but now I love it.I use them in almost every Indian pudding I make.But the sad thing is,its damn expensive.There is also a myth prevailing about this saffron that whoever takes this spice mixed in milk,will soon get a fairer complexion.I have even seen families feeding the pregnant women with this milk for getting a fair complexioned baby.Whatever,it looks so adorable.I just use them for giving a rich appeal to the dish..
A small box of Kashmiri Saffron cost(Taj Mahal brand) around 300 bucks in India.I really don't wanted to get this by giving such a big money from my pocket.And moreover,my mom considers it utterly fanciful. she believes it doesn't give anything to the dish and she always prevented me from buying it.So last year when my dad came from Kuwait,I secretly asked him to get this from there.He bought me 2 varieties -Iranian and Kashmiri,which i m still using ;)
Last Sunday,we had a complete indulgence in this exquisite saffron pulao.Had this along with Sukki aloo and cucumber raitha.Every scoop of this pulao,reminded me of the Persian splendidness.I wished I must someday have a wonderful Persian feast on the finest Iranian tableware :)
Now over to the recipe..

You will need:
1 cup basmati rice
1 tsp of Saffron strands
1/2 cup of cashew nuts
1/4 cup of raisins
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 cloves
2 cardamon
1 bay leaf
A bit of star anise
1 tbsp Butter/ghee
1 big onion ,thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic,finely chopped(optional)
A pinch of turmeric
2 cups of water
Salt as per taste

For garnish,
4 shallots,thinly sliced
2 tbsp of oil
Chopped coriander leaves

Wash and soak the rice for 10-15 mins.

Bring the two cups of water to boil and add the saffron strands.Turn the heat to low.

Simultaneously,heat a kadai and add a tbsp of butter/ghee.

Add the spices and the onion/garlic & cashews .Fry until slight golden brown.Add the raisins.
Fry for 1/2 minute.Add the turmeric powder.Drain rice completely and throw the rice to the onion/spice mixture.Fry for 1/2 minute . the 

Pour the saffron water into the rice mixture.Add salt.Bring it boil.Keep it in low heat and cook for 10-12 mins or until done.

When it is cooking,in a separate frying pan,heat oil and fry the onions.Fry until they are crispy and brown.

The onions will be nicely caramelised and gives wonderful flavour and sweetness to the pulao.

Serve the pulao with this caramelised onion and chopped coriander !

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Vegetable Hakka Noodles and Soya Manchurian !

The Hakka noodles was sitting on the cupboard for quite a long time.I can't make the whole pack just for myself & my sister.But today,I had my cousins at our home.So I got a good reason to make use of it.I made vegetable noodles and to accompany that 'Soya Manchurian ' was prepared for dinner.This soya manchurian is a great way to include soya in our diet.One can't find out easily that they are Soya chunks.One big advantage of chinese food is, we can  prepare it in a short span of time.Just in half an hour to 45 mins you can make both the veg noodles & manchurain and set the table...

For the Vegetable Hakka noodles..

You will need:
1 pkt Hakka noodles
1/4 cup of onion
1/4 cup of  carrot
1/4 cup of capsicum
1/4 cup cabbage
1/4 cup baby corn
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp soya sauce
1/2 tsp chilly sauce
1 tsp tomato sauce
1/4 tsp aji-no-moto
oil ,2 tsps

First start by chopping the vegetables ..
I chopped onion,  carrot, capsicum, cabbage, baby corn..

Grab the soya sauce,tomato sauce,chilli sauce ,ginger-garlic paste ,salt and aji-no-moto..Keep them ready on your kitchen counter..

Bring generous water to boil..add a tsp of oil and drop the noodles..Just cook for  2-3 mins until the strands are all loosened up.Drain and tranfer on a plate and set aside..

In a big frying pan or wok,heat 2 tsp of sesame oil(use any refined oil,if you dont have),add the vegetables and fry for 1 min in high flame.Add a tsp of ginger -garlic paste ,1 tsp of soya sauce,1 tsp of chilli sauce,and 1 tbsp of tomato sauce..

Add required salt and 1/2 tsp of aji-no-moto and check the taste.Add whatever sauce is required.Stir fry for 1-2 mins.Remember the veggies must be half done only.Add the noodles.Stir well and serve.
 Garnish with chopped spring onions,and serve.

For the Soya Manchurian:

You will need:
1 cup Soya nuggets/chunks
1 big onion
1 capsicum
2 tbsp of Corn flour
1 tsp of Chilly powder
1/2 tsp +1/4 tsp of  ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp +1/4 tsp tsp soya sauce
1/2 tsp chilly sauce
1 tsp tomato sauce
1/4 tsp aji-no-moto

Wash and boil 1 cup of soya chunks for 10 mins.Wash 2 times in cold water and squeese the excess water.

Add 1/2 tsp of ginger -garlic paste,2 tbsp of corn flour,1 tsp of chilli powder,1/4 tsp of soya sauce to the soya chunks,a pinch of salt.And coat well evenly on the chunks..Let it marinate for 5-10 mins..

By the time,roughly chop one onion and capsicum..

Heat oil for deepfrying,and fry the soya chunks until they are golden brown.

In another pan,heat 1 tsp of oil,add onions and capsicum.Fry for 1 min.Add 1/4 tsp ginger-garlic paste,soya sauce ,chilly sauce and tomato sauce.add salt and stir fry for 2 to 3 mins.Add salt as per taste.Remember there is some amount of salt in the sauces we add.(NOTE:if you don't have chilly sauce,you can use chopped chilly)

Add the fried soya chunks ,mix weel and turn off..

Have a nice day!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rajma Chawal

Rajma Chawal (Red Kidney beans curry with Rice) is an awesome combination.Its a must-in-a-menu in every Punjabi feasts.The prefix 'Raj' in this name rajma is itself giving a kind of royalty to this dish..Long ago,I was served a biryani called 'Raja Biryani' in a restaurant called 'Rangoli' (Saravana Bhavans).Before seeing the biryani,I was thinking with what this biryani would have been made.I was wondering whether it contains various exotic nuts and dried fruits?!I was so curious until the biryani arrived.To my surprise it was actually made with Rajma(Kidney beans) and basmati rice.I guess Rajma is the 'King of beans' and hence it got the name 'Raj'ma.
Whatever the name really tastes so good that we don't have to worry about its baptism.
This rajma is very tricky you know..It takes lot of time to cook well.I pressure cooked it 2 times with 4 whistles each time...
Sometimes the bean gets well cooked in just 3 whistles.It all depends on the quality of beans you get.Its best if you could get the canned red kidney beans.They don't need the soaking process and can be used on the go!
But me in the middle of an old town can't reach for canned beans :(
Eventhough I managed to make a really tasty ,rajma curry :)
This curry is so easy to prepare and calls for the usual onion,tomato, and ginger as its base.

You will need:
1 cup of Red kidney beans (Soaked overnight,pressure cooked without salt)
1 big onion ,finely chopped
3 tomatoes,pureed
1 green chilly,chopped
1 inch ginger,finely chopped
1 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
A pinch of Aji-ni-moto
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 inch cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp of sugar
Salt as per taste
Coriander leaves for garnish

Start by chopping the onions,ginger and green chilly.

In a heavy bottom frying pan,heat 1 tbsp of oil.Add the cumin seeds and cinnamon.
Add chopped onions,ginger and chilly.Fry for a couple of mins

Add the pureed tomato and all the spices except garam masala.Fry till the oil seperates.

Add the cooked beans.Add the salt,sugar ,aji-no-moto and garam masala.Mix well.Add 1/4 cup of water(water used for boiling rajma can be retained and used).

Cook covered for 4-5 mins.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with boiled plain rice.

Rajma curry with boiled rice served with fryams.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Roasted treats for winter!

In this cold weather,roasted vegetables are real blessings.You get lots of fresh winter vegetables during this time ,like carrots,cauliflower ,turnips ,beets etc.

I went to market yesterday and bought these lovely purple topped turnips.I wanted to relish its flavour on its own .I can't consume it raw.I'm not interested in dropping that in sambar or in any curry either.So i decided to roast them with carrots,garlic and onions.The roasted onions and garlics are so appetising.The golden browning on the vegetables is something irresistible.
Similarly,i also made roasted potatoes.They are an all time favourite for everyone at home.Consumes less than a tbsp of oil.But tastes like french chips.The price for this low calorie,delicious potatoes would be our takes atleast 45 mins to get this golden crust on it.We can prepare everything and pop into the oven and arrange our wrecked bookshelf and return,by that time it would be done.
Today one of my friend complained to me that he can't try all the recipes I post here.He doesn't own an oven and so can't make those dishes which involves baking.But don't lose hope.One can try this in an iron Kadai.
Although it doesn't gives the oven roasted taste,its good in kadai style too and we can name it 'Kadai vegetables' :)
Okay now let me show you how I made ..

For Roasted Potatoes:

I took 1/2 kg of good potatoes.Washed,peeled and cubed them.

I brought water to rolling boil in a large cooking vessel.Added generous salt.Dropped the potatoes in it.Cooked exactly for 8 mins.

Drained the water.Covered the vessel with a plate.And gave a gentle shake.This gives a rustic look to potato chunks.

Added a tbsp of olive oil(any oil can be used)..Sprinkled freshly ground pepper and 1/2 tsp of dried thyme.Gave a nice toss.

Place in a baking tray.Baked in a 250 C preheated oven for 45 mins.(Give a toss once or twice inbetween while baking..this ensures even browning on all sides)
Serve hot.

For Roasted Turnips:

I roughly chopped one big carrot into bite sizedc hunks.And cut 3 turnips into wedges.Quartered few onions.Peeled the skin of garlic cloves.I used one head of garlic

Tossed with 1 tbsp of olive oil,salt,ground pepper ,dried thyme and oregano.

Transferred it on a baking tray.Placed few blobs of butter on the top of the veggies.Baked in a 250 C preheated oven for 1 hour.

Finish it before it gets cold ;)

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Chunky Curry...

For a quite a long time I was posting only cake recipes.So here comes for a change a very rich n spicy Chunky curry.This would be a real treat for the chilly weather and nutritious too.I assume everyone is aware of the nutritious benefits of Soya chunks.Its a great substitute for meat.
Many don't like Soya chunks.But when made in a proper way,it would be a keeper.A week ago one of my friend asked me for some recipes of 'Soya Chunks'.As i was away from home,I couldn't post or send the recipes at that time .Long before I was thinking of posting a recipe of soya chunks.Thanks to him for reminding of it.Surprisingly,my male friends follow my blog regularly than my female friends!Its a sign of good change that men are into cooking too ;)..
Many of us do not like the smell of the Soya Chunks.Thats why its always recommended to wash the boiled  chunks for so many times.I have pressure cooked the soya chunks with 2 cloves of garlic,1 stick of cinnamon and 2 cloves.By doing this,we can get rid of the awful smell of the soya and instead we get good smell of the spices infused in it.

You will need:
1 Cup of Soya Chunks
1 Big onion
2 Big tomatoes
1 cup green peas
1/4 cup grated coconut
1 tbsp chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp coriander seeds
A pinch of Saunf(fennel) Powder (optional)
2 cloves garlic
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 Cloves

Pressure cook the Soya chunks with 3 cups water,2 cloves of garlic,cinnamom and cloves as I have mentioned earlier.

Squeeze the excess water from the chunks completely..

Grind together onion,tomato,coconut,coriander seeds,pepper,ginger-garlic paste,chilly powder,turmeric powder ,salt and garam masala to a smooth paste.(tip:Frist grind the coriander seeds n pepper.Then add the rest and grind in the same jar)

Heat 3-4 tbsp of oil.Add the paste and cook until the oil separates.

Add the green peas and chunks.Cook until the peas are done.
Sprinkle the fennel powder and serve.

This spicy curry was accompained with the milder Saffron Pulao and sliced carrots.It was indeed a visual treat too!

Have a great weekend :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Icecream Cake~The Ultimate Dessert!

Wish you all a very happy new year!

2009 has started and lets all hope this year brings us luck and happiness in our life.when I look back at 2008 ,I could see that my biggest exploration in 2008 is, my culinary skill.2008 was not at all bad for me,I started blogging,cooking etc.I kept myself very much active in this year.Although there were some bad times,I could recollect year 2008 as an year of revelation of myself.Overall its an year of learning for me.I learnt various things and spent most of my time by engaging in some activities.I believe the coming year will be much better than the previous one.
Today is my sister's B'day.So we got two reasons to celebrate Jan 1 every year.Last night I made two different cakes for the eve(s).For my sis ,I made Chocolate Sheet Cake.

                                                    with my impatient icing skills :(

And for the New year ,we had 'Ice cream Cake'.
My cousins were here and so we had a bashing good time.We hosted the lunch party at our home.SakaraPongal,Chilly Mushroom,Roasted Turnips,Poori,Punjabi chole Masala,Bisebelabath,Cucumber Raitha,Onion Vadams,Curd Rice and Ice cream Cake were on the menu.
 Ice cream Cake was such a hit and my 'Athai' commented it 'Rich n De-li-ci-ous'..So I wanted to share it with my viewers.This is actually Nigella Lawson's Ice Cream Cake which I tweaked a bit.
I couldn't get the chocolate chips/buttons.But I was having lots of Hershey's kisses in my fridge.I chopped them to make Chocolate Chips.I also skipped the Butter Scotch Sauce instead used Chocolate sauce!
This cake is so easy to make and can be made a day before and stored in a freezer compartment.

You will need:

1 liter Butterscotch Ice Cream( softened)

1 Pack of Bourbon Biscuit
1 cup of chocolate chips
2 snickers or five star chocolates

For topping :
Hershey's quick freeze Chocolate Sauce
Kellogg's Chocos

Make the chocolate Chips ready by chopping your fav chocolate.

Take a Ziploc bag and put the bourbon biscuits and snickers chocolate.Close it and smash them using a rolling pin.

They should not be powdered but should have bite sized pieces.

Put the broken biscuits/snickers,chocolate chips in a large bowl containing softened ice cream.Combine well.

Line a round tiffin box with a cling wrap,pour the ice cream mixture and bring the rest of the cling wrap covering the top surface of the ice cream cake.

Close the tiffin box with its lid and put it inside the freezer.

After 4 or 5 hours,the ice cream would be set .Take it out of the tiffin box and gently unwrap it.

Pour the quick freeze Hershey's chocolate sauce.It will be frozen to a hard chocolate shell.Make your desired icing.Or assemble the chocos on the top surface of the ice cream cake.
Slice into wedges,drizzle some chocolate syrup and serve before it melts..

Cross Sectional view..

Have a Happy 2009!