Sunday, September 30, 2012

Notes from a cooking/baking weekend: Part2 - Chocolate Walnut brownies

Baking brownies was an impromptu decision and thankfully I had bought a packet of dark compound chocolate. After a little browsing on the net I found this recipe, altered it a bit and made my dense and gooey brownies; just the way I like them.

200 gms dark compound chocolate
100 gms unsalted butter
2 tbsp coffee
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
125 gms castor sugar
50 gms all purpose flour
50 gms walnuts (chopped)
3/4th cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla sugar

  • Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  • Cook dark compound chocolate, butter and coffee on slow heat till you get a smooth paste. Let it cool for a while.
  • Add beaten eggs, flour, sugar, walnuts and boiling water. The mix should have a thin consistency.
  • Grease our square baking dish (I didn't have a square one so settled for the round one instead)
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes (its better if you keep checking in between)

  • Let it cool down then slowly remove from the dish and cut into pieces.
  • Sprinkle some vanilla sugar over them
  • Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream drizzled with chocolate sauce.

Notes from a cooking/baking weekend: Part 1 - Baked potatoes with plum chutney and home made herbed ricotta

Last week our gang of food bloggers got a bunch of ingredients from Shop For Change Fair Trade (an NGO that was found in 2009 with a mission to harness the power of Indian markets to improve the livelihoods of poor farmers across India via trade, not aid). The idea was to use these ingredients in our recipes and mention the farmer groups from which they are sourced. 

I decided to wait till the weekend to try out these ingredients and create something using them. Eventually I decided to dedicate the whole weekend to cooking and baking and do a series of blog posts about my experiences. The fun ride started with a visit to Arif in Andheri. I had been planning to go there since Ashrita recommended that place. Finally I went there and bought some baking trays, muffin liners, nutella, blueberry filling etc. Happy with my shopping I treated myself to a McEgg from McDonalds :D.

So, here's the first post with the recipe of herbed ricotta cheese and baked potatoes stuffed with plum chutney and ricotta.

Herbed ricotta
300 ml milk
200 gms curd
150 ml fresh cream (I used Amul cream)
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp white wine (optional)
2 tsp Spicy Herb blend (chilli, ginger,oregano, rosemary and thyme) sourced from Kumaon Grameen Udyog

  • Mix milk, curd, cream, vinegar, wine and salt in a pot and let it boil.
  • Remove the pot from the gas when the liquid starts curdling.
  • Place a cloth/kitchen towel on a sieve and pour the mix on it so that the water drains out and only curdled cheese remains.
  • When the cheese leaves all the water mix the spicy herb blend in it.
  • Ricotta cheese is ready to be used. It can be stored in the fridge for at least 3 days.
Baked potatoes stuffed with plum chutney and ricotta
4 medium sized potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp normal or balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Spicy Herb blend (chilli, ginger,oregano, rosemary and thyme) sourced from Kumaon 

1 tsp fresh basil (chopped)
1 tsp sage (chopped)
1 tsp rosemary (chopped)
Salt to taste
100 gms plum Chutney sourced from Mahila Umang Producers company
4 tbsp home made ricotta cheese


  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into halves.
  • Scoop them from center so that they look like small bowls.
  • Mix olive oil, vinegar, spicy herb blend, basil, sage, rosemary and salt and marinate potatoes in this mix for one hour.
  • Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  • Grease the baking dish and place the potatoes on it (slice them from the bottom so that they stay straight)
  • Fill plum chutney in the scooped potatoes and top it with ricotta cheese.

  • Bake them for 15 minutes
  • Drizzle the marination mix over the potatoes and serve hot.

The combination of plum chutney and ricotta worked pretty well. Originally I had planned to make this dish with mushrooms but since I couldn't find any I decided to use potatoes instead. This dish will go very well with some beer as finger food and since the potatoes are not fried its not very unhealthy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

No cheese and (almost) healthy pasta

I am a little fussy when it comes to pasta. No, I love it but I've hardly come across a restaurant which serves a brilliant pasta with a sauce to die for, especially the white sauce. After trying it at a couple of places I thought of making it myself. In my recipe there is no cheese but still the sauce tastes like it has enough cheese. This is one of the most loved recipe in my house now.

250 gms penne or farfalle pasta
3 medium sized onions (finely chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
50 gms button mushrooms (finely chopped)
100 gms celery (finely chopped)
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper (finely chopped)
4 Zorabian cheese sausages (or any other sausages that you prefer)
1 cup fresh cream
1 cup milk
2 tbsp jowar or bajra flour
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
1 tsp fresh or dried oregano
Salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

Boiling the pasta:

  • Heat water in a big pot and add pasta in it. Make sure you stir it for initial 2-3 minutes cause pasta leaves maximum starch in the beginning causing it to stick to the pot. Do not add oil or salt while boiling pasta. Adding oil doesn't let the sauce stick to the pasta properly.
  • Cook it for 12-13 minutes if you like it al dante (semi cooked). If not cook it for 20 minutes. 
  • Once the pasta is cooked remove it from the gas and drain the water. Do not wash it under cold water
  • Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the onions.
  • Once onions start turning transparent add garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Throw in the mushrooms and cook till mushrooms leave all the water.
  • Add cream, milk and 1/2 cup water and let it boil.
  • Mix bajra/jowar flour in 1/4th cup water and add to the sauce. It will help thicken up the sauce.
  • Add celery, bell peppers and sausages and let the sauce cook for a while.
  • Season with black pepper, white pepper, salt and oregano.
  • Pour over the penne/farfalle al dante and serve.

When in doubt make kababs...

Image courtesy Amrita Rana of Life Ki Recipe
The logic has somehow always worked for me. Whenever I plan to throw a party or have to go to a pool lunch/dinner I tend to turn to my dad's recipe of these amazing shaami kababs. As I have mentioned before in one of my blog posts that these kababs can beat the famous Tunday Kababi of Lucknow anytime. Over the years I myself have mastered the recipe. It's quite simple, all you have to do is stick to the right proportions. And, oh! these kababs go best with the green chutney.

Mutton shaami kababs
750 gms mutton keema (preferably from raan)
300 gms chana dal
4 medium sized onions (peeled and sliced)
10-12 cloves of garlic
2 inch long piece of ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp shah jeera
8-10 pods of kabab chini (allspice or pimenta)
8-10 black pepper pods
6 cloves
8-10 whole red chillies or Kashmiri chillies
3 black cardamoms
5 green cardamoms
2 inches long stick of cinnamon
Salt to taste

  • Wash the keema properly in a sieve and let all the water drain out.
  • Mix all the ingredients except oil in a pressure cooker and cook till at least 5-6 whistles are blown.
  • Once the mixture cools down grind it into a paste.
  • If the consistency of the paste cover it with a foil and keep it in the freezer for half an hour. This will thicken the paste up.
  • Heat oil in a non stick flat pan, make small patties with the paste and shallow fry them till they turn golden brown on both sides.
  • Serve the steaming hot kababs with onion rings, green chutney and parantha or pav.

Green chutney
250 gms fresh coriander
250 gms fresh mint leaves
6 green chillies
2 medium sized onions (cut into four pieces)
6 cloves of garlic
1 inch long piece of ginger
2 lemons
Salt to taste

  • Take all the ingredients except salt and lemon in a mixer pot.
  • Add half cup water and grind the mixture into a fine paste.
  • Add salt and squeeze both lemons in it.
  • Serve chutney with kababs, pakodas, sabudana wadas, sandwich and practically anything you need a dip with.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Food Review: Rajwar Food Festival @ Rajdhani, Phoenix Market City, Kurla

To me eating a traditional Rajasthani or Gujrati thali has always meant going to Rajdhani. Despite the fact that I don't take a second serving the meal has always been fulfilling and enjoyable. I always wondered how they planned their menu, cooked the food and kept it fresh. All my questions were answered by Aji Nair, the Vice President of Mirah Hospitality which owns Rajdhani. 

Image courtsey
A group of bloggers were invited to Rajdhani's Phoenix Market City outlet in Kurla to try out the Rajwar Food Festival. My first question to Mr. Nair was whether the menu at all Rajdhani outlets was the same on a given day. He told us that the menu stays the same unless a specific ingredient is not available in a specific region. In that case they are allowed to modify it a bit but the orders have to go from their main office. He also took us inside the kitchen. In fact a customer at Rajdhani can anytime walk into the kitchen. Mr. Nair also told us the science behind having small bowls or katoris in a thali and serving small chapatis and bite size rotlas and puran polis. Small katoris keep the food hot for longer time and chapatis don't get cold by the time you eat the last bite.

Loaded with all the information we proceeded towards our tables where the shiny plates awaited us. Another interesting fact that we found out was that the staff has signs for every dish so that they don't have to shout themselves sore. As we sat down to eat our first question was whether their famous chikoo halwa is on the menu or not. To our joy it was. We started with a very North Indian shikanji or nimbu sharbat. Our plates started getting filled up with farsan, chutney, salad, raita, kadhi, dal, dal-bati, gatte ki sabzi, paneer, phulka, pooran poli, rotla, bajre ki roti with white butter, dahi wada, etc. The food was good if not delicious with special mention to makhan wali bajre ki roti and gatte ki sabzi. 

The dessert section was more elaborate with chikoo halwa, phirni, malpua with rabdi and jalebi. I concentrated more on the heavy ghee soaked halwa and jalebis which were thin and sweet (unlike the khatti jalebis that you get in every second shop in Mumbai). There was standard chaas to wash everything down. At the end of the meal we were served paan shots which were good but could have been thicker in my opinion.

Our bellies that were fasting since morning were full and relaxed and were egging us to rush home and take a long nap. We parted with a goodies and a small box of moong ka halwa.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Food Review: Rajasthani Food Festival @ Hornby's Pavilion, ITC Grand Central

Food festivals at 5 star hotels never excite me especially when it is a buffet. The sheer number of dishes tend to overwhelm me and I end up being confused and mixing up the tastes. The Mewar Food Festival at Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre and Hotel which I attended a while back changed my perspective a bit. The food was served in a thali, the traditional way of eating Rajasthani food. Of-course, the food was great and authentic to the core.

I had similar expectations when ITC Grand Central invited a bunch of bloggers to the Rajasthani Food Festival at Hornby's Pavilion. Chef Kailash who has worked at the royal kitchens in Rajasthan had specially come down from Kolkata to design the menu.

The fact that it was a buffet rather than a thali was a little disappointing. Along with Rajasthani, a table for Chinese, Sushi and North Indian food was also set. A little out of place but clearly the hotel has to cater to all kinds of guests.

I stuck to the Rajasthani cuisine since that's what I was there for. After a quick tour of the buffet with the Chef we picked our plates and started off with paneer til tikka, chicken kebab, bharwan mirchi; big green chilli stuffed with peanuts, fennel etc. Paneer tikka wrapped in til or sesame was crunchy. The stuffed chilli was juicy and despite the fact that I don't eat very spicy food I finished it all.

While we were trying out the starters the attendants mixed us a bowl of dal, bati and choorma with a spoonful of ghee in it. The hot panchmeli dal over crispy batis made me want to dig in right-away, so much so that I didn't even wait for a spoon. To wash down all the ghee I called for a masala chaas which was quite a surprise. Apart from regular jeera and dhaniya it had a subtle flavour of heeng.

The main course also had dishes like laal maas, chicken kadhi, peanut curry, bajre ki roti, khar ke papad etc. Laal maas was cooked well but the curry was a little too oily and didn't stand out. Chicken kadhi was the star dish for me. The curry was light with a flavour of saunf and a little kadhi like sourness in it. 

The dessert section had ghewar and lapsi along with the regular mousse, pastries and puddings. Not a ghewar fan, I decided to try out a little lapsi which tasted a lot like daliya or porridge.

The food was good and I was overfed, no doubt. But being ITC Hotel the expectations were higher than what we were served. I would've loved more variety in the starters. Being a big fan of ITC's food I hope that the meal is more elaborate next time.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

iShotChicken and roasted it for dinner

My husband is a game designer/developer and released his third game, iShotChicken on Android, IOS, Mac and PC. To promote the game and celebrate 1000 downloads (on App Store) in first two days we decided to do something different. After pondering for a while we thought, "what could be better than dedicating a recipe to it." We shot a number of chickens that crossed the road (in the game) and picked the best one to make our dinner (actually we bought one from Hypercity). I took out my MasterChef apron and got ready but another question came up, how to cook it? Make curry or deep fry it? A little confused I took help from my blogger friends Ashrita and Amrita who happily shared their recipes. I took Ashrita's roasted chicken and added a little twist to make my 'iShotChicken' glazed with orange juice and rum.

Here's the game and the recipe for all of you to try.

for chicken
Whole chicken (around 1 kg with skin)
1 lemon (poked with a fork and microwaved for 30 seconds)
I pod of garlic (do not peel it)
2 medium onions (cut into four piece and no need to peel)
1 red bell pepper (roughly sliced)
1 yellow bell pepper (roughly sliced)
1 carrot (roughly sliced)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
2 sprigs of rosemary
Herbs (Basil, Sage etc.)
Salt to taste
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil

for gravy
1 cup water
3 Maggi magic cubes (chicken flavour)

for glaze
Juice of one orange
60 ml Old Monk

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees. wash and clean the chicken properly and cut out the neck and wing tips (no need to do that if you have bought packed chicken). Let the chicken dry completely.

Second step looked a little tough to me initially but trust me its not. You need to truss the chicken or tie it up in simpler words. This is important for even cooking and presentation. You can check out this video to see how to do it.

Stuff the lemon, 5-6 cloves of garlic and rosemary sprigs in the cavity.

Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the chicken and rub it nicely.

Grease your baking tray and arrange onions, carrot, bell peppers, garlic, parsley and herbs on it. Sprinkle some salt and add the oil too.

Now place the chicken (breast side up) on the tray, top it with butter and put it in the oven to roast for around 40-45 minutes. Keep checking the chicken so that it does not overcook.

While the chicken roasts in the oven you shoot some on your Android, iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC.

Once the chicken is done let it cool for 5 minutes and then slowly take out the tray. Remove the chicken (be careful its hot) from the tray. Don't throw away the veggies, we'll use them to make the gravy.

Mix orange juice and old monk in a vessel and let it boil for 5 minutes.

Take all the veggies and the juice of the chicken and make a puree. Boil 1 cup water in a vessel, add Maggi cubes and let it boil for 2 minutes. Add the puree and boil some more. Taste it before adding salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on a plate, pour the glaze over it and squeeze a lemon too. Take a pitted olive and slice it to make thin rings. Place two olive slices on the chicken and use some tomato ketchup to make it look like bullet shot. Serve it with the gravy and mashed potatoes on the side.

Do try my iShotChicken and send me the pictures. AND YES, don't forget to download the game.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mushroom and corn burger: A recipe borrowed and twisted twice over

Finally, I've managed to lift my lazy fingers to post a recipe on this blog; a first.

Last week I got a packet of button mushrooms and sweet corns to make salad for dinner. I used a bit of both and that's it, my use of mushrooms and corn ends there. Mostly I keep the rest of them in the fridge and let them stay there till they aren't usable anymore. This time I decided to break the trend and put them to a good use by making mushroom and corn burger. The inspiration for the recipe came from Amrita's blog who in turn was inspired by Antoine Lewis. I twisted the recipe a bit and the result was so brilliant that the husband complimented saying, "I cannot believe there is no nonveg in there."

1 pack of button mushrooms
1 pack of sweet corns
1 small cup celery (finely chopped)
2 spring onions (finely chopped)
2 green chillies (finely chopped)
1 tsp crushed ginger garlic
1 tsp tomato sauce
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp pepper
Bread crumbs
1 tsp all purpose flour (maida)
1 egg
Oil (I prefer olive oil)
Sliced onion, tomato and lettuce leaves
Burger buns (sliced into halves)

  1. Clean the mushrooms and corns by dipping them in water and mince them together in the food processor.
  2. Heat 1tsp olive oil in a pan and cook the minced mushrooms and corns till all the water dries up.
  3. Add spring onions, celery, chillies, crushed ginger-garlic and cook some more.
  4. Add salt, pepper, tomato sauce and bread crumbs and mix well.
  5. Remove from gas and add maida which will help binding the patties.
  6. Make four thick patties from the mixture.
  7. Heat oil in a flat pan, dip the patties in egg one by one and shallow fry. Make sure that you fry them on medium flame so that the egg coating doesn't get burnt.
  8. Fry from both the sides till they turn crispy.
  9. Toast the burger buns on the same pan.
  10. Arrange a lettuce leaf, a slice of onion, tomato and a patty on the bun.
  11. Add a slice of cheese if this burger is too healthy for you.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...