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Monday, December 26, 2016

The Pickled Paneer

Hope you had a lovely Christmas at home! A few more days till the madness of New Year's Eve. Need a meat and sugar detox breather while staying festive? Enter paneer.

Achari paneer tikka

Best done on a BBQ grill, although pan-seared or oven-baked works too. Marinate three cups of cubed paneer with two tablespoons of yogurt, a spoon each of ginger and garlic paste, salt, turmeric, a spoon of cumin powder, crushed dried red chillies, some paanch phodon (seed combination of saunf, kalongi, jeera, methi and mustard), a small spoon of amchur powder, a pinch of garam masala, and a tiny drizzle of mustard oil. Marinate for a good two hours at least.

Skewer up with onions and capsicum, and grill to perfection :) Remember to take off the heat before they blacken and turn into rubber. Serve with naan and mint chutney!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Lamb Burger

Start the last week before Christmas with a giant lamb burger topped with homemade green capsicum pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and crispy onions on a whole wheat bun!

For the pesto, roast one diced green capsicum in the oven till it starts to char. Peel and add to the blender with a half cup of cashews, three tablespoons of parmesan, a spoon of smoked paprika, 3-4 garlic pods, salt, oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. Blend till ooth and set aside.

For the lamb, mix a half kg of lamb mince with a half cup of breadcrumbs, a tablespoon of yogurt, a big handful of parsley, garlic, salt, a spoon of cumin powder, a spoon of paprika, and some oregano. Mix with your hands and make patties. Heat up a grill pan and cook the patties 12 minutes on one side and 8 mintures on the other.

For the onions, slice an onion very thinly and dip into a bowl of egg wash and a little dry flour before deep-frying till golden.

Plate up with sun-dried tomatoes and a toasted whole wheat bun!

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Snickerdoodle

Such a simple cinnamon cookie, and cookie shops just won't quit making them thin and crispy! Here's an easy recipe for soft chewy snickerdoodles, just in time for Santa's visit.

Mix the following in a large bowl: 3 cups flour, one egg, a teaspoon and a half of vinegar, three spoons of ground cinnamon, two spoons of vanilla essence, a cup of melted butter, a little more than a cup of sugar, a spoon of baking soda and a tiny pinch of salt. I mixed all of it with my hand. Preheat oven to 190C. Roll cookie dough into 22-24 balls. Pour out some cinnamon sugar in a small bowl. Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar. Bake on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes. When you take them out of the oven, they'll be soft. Use the back of a glass to flatten them a little, and then let them cool.

Leave some out for Santa!

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Braised Duck

Getting a call at work from my husband who suddenly wants duck for dinner is totally normal in my house. I'm game, so I pick up three large whole duck breasts at the local Asian meat shop and go home to make this:

Braised duck with roasted potatoes

Fry duck breasts skin down for 15 minutes on low heat and 5 min on the other side. Keep all the duck fat. Use a spoon of duck fat, add a spoonful of ginger-garlic paste, a third of a cup of red wine, some thyme, a spoon of soya sauce, a spoon of rice vinegar and one of sugar, a drizzle of Caribbean jerk sauce, a cup of water and a little paprika. Cook for a couple of minutes. Pour over the duck, cover with foil and roast at 180C for 45 min.

Meanwhile parboil two diced potatoes and then fry in the leftover duck fat. Season with sea salt, pepper, oregano and paprika. Set aside.

After the 45 min of roasting, take out all the liquid from the duck container into a sauce pan. Return duck to oven and roast at 200C for another 10 minutes. Heat the liquid and add another drizzle of jerk sauce, a half cup of water and some flour to thicken into gravy. Get the duck out and serve it with a drizzle of gravy, roasted potatoes and baby rocket! Fancyyyyy.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Sambousek

Street food for the win! I grew up eating these (and falafels, or za'atar bread, or shawarmas) during or after an evening of shopping. Had to make them eventually! Excuse my poor folding skills.

Mix two cups of self-raising flour (or regular flour with a little baking powder or yeast) with two tablespoons of oil, half a cup of milk and water as required to knead it onto a smooth dough. While it sits quietly in a corner, sauté about 300-400 grams of your choice of minced meat (we used lamb; the traditional choice is beef) with a large finely chopped onion, a handful of pine nuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Take off the heat and add two spoons of chopped parsley. Roll out little balls of dough, place a spoonful of minced meat in the middle, and sold one side over to the other, and pinch down. Deep fry in vegetable oil and serve hot! Will make 6-8 pieces :)

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Hot Bricks

Fast and easy crowd-pleasing appetizer for when you have 15 minutes and access to shrimp!

Bake a thin layer of breadcrumbs in a baking pan for 4-5 minutes in the oven at 180-200C till brown. While that happens, chop two cloves of garlic, half an onion, a tomato and a cup of shrimp, and cook in a little butter. Beat five eggs with 2/3 cup of milk, salt, a dash of hot sauce, pepper, oregano and some paprika, and add to the pan with the shrimp. Vigorously stir, and turn the heat off as soon as the egg starts to set. Add a half-cup of shredded cheese to the egg; stir and pour over the baked breadcrumbs. spread cheese on top to cover, and top with a little rosemary and smoked paprika. Bake for 10 minutes; cool, cut and serve! Easy.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Sorbet

It's summer time in Sydney! This is a great little dessert/snack for the post-beach skipping-work-because-sunburns days.

Mango-blueberry sorbet with dark chocolate shards and mango

You'll need frozen mango cubes and blueberries for this. First, slowly heat dark chocolate chips till they melt into a smooth liquid. Take it off the heat and stir vigorously to cool till it starts to set a little. Immediately spread it thin with a spatula or edge of a knife on a clean flat cooking sheet lined with aluminum foil and freeze till hard.

Once the chocolate is ready, blend together a cup of diced mangoes, a cup of blueberries, two spoons of honey and a half cup of apple juice. Serve immediately with broken chocolate shards, mint leaves and diced mango. Brain freeze!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Pad Kee Mao

I've made this favorite Thai dish of mine before, but somehow managed to always overcook the noodles and turn the entire thing into cat food. Finally got it right!

Pad Kee Mao with Prawns

Cook flat rice noodles for 5-6 minutes in boiling water, until just al dente. Drain, wash with cold water, and add a drizzle of oil to keep the noodles nice and separate. Meanwhile add to a wok some peanut oil, four fresh bird's-eye chillies, sliced and deseeded, and a fat spoon of chopped garlic. Then add your prawns and cook for a few minutes till the prawns become pink. Add cashews, and cook for a minute. Add your favorite veggies (I added broccoli and snap peas) and generous amounts of fresh basil leaves, a spoon of fish oil, a big spoon of rice vinegar, a sprinkle of sugar, and I'd say 2-3 fat spoons of soy sauce (or to taste). Add the noodles and toss for about two-three minutes and take off the heat. Serve steaming hot!

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Homey Diwali

Happy Diwali to those who celebrate it! This Diwali my cousin was over, and she knows my late grandmother's khandvi recipe like the back of her hand. So we made some khandvi and it felt like home! I didn't know that it takes literally five minutes to make this dish; there's going to be a lot of khandvi eating in our house from now on!

Mix together one cup of besan (gram flour), one cup of yogurt, one and a half cups of warm water, a spoon of salt, 1/3 spoon turmeric and 1/3 spoon red chilli powder. Make sure there are no lumps in the mix. Clean some counter space and grease lightly with oil. Now heat very little oil in a wok or a kadhai on medium heat and add the mixture. Stir constantly and vigorously (my cousin insists on a clockwise direction) till the mixture starts to set (but don't wait till it's fully set) - won't take more than a couple of minutes. Once it starts to set, IMMEDIATELY pour/scrape it out onto the clean greased counter space (any large flat space would do). Spread it like a thin film over the counter, moving in one direction with a spatula - make it as thin as possible. While you're trying to make it thin the mixture will have probably already set so let sit for two minutes while you make the tadka.

Heat a little oil in a small pan and add to it a sprinkle of black mustard seeds, curry leaves and a chopped green chilli. Once the seeds splatter take the pan off the heat. Go back to your counter and run a knife vertically through the set film to create strips. Roll up each strip and place on the plate. Add the tadka (seed mixture) to the top, and garnish with grated coconut and coriander leaves. Voilà!

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Crusty Rack

It's been a while since we fine-dined at home! Here's how to make your Monday special!! (Provided you have an hour to cook)

Pistachio-crusted rack of lamb stuffed with feta and spinach, with a side of hasselback potato

If you're going to do the hasselback potato, start with that. Slice a potato thinly but not all the way through; brush with garlic butter, salt and pepper and bake for an hour.

Get the rack of lamb out. If it's cap on (as in there's a chunk of fat on one side) cut it out. Now turn to the meaty side of the rack and cut a slice from the bone-side through the lean meat, but not all the way through, aka butterfly it. Stuff the inside with a handful of crumbed feta, a handful of blanched chopped spinach, chopped garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, cardamom and cinnamon powder. Close with the flap of meat and tie together with cooking string. Rub the outside of the lamb with the same spices. Now sear the rack of lamb in olive oil on a hot pan on all sides and take off the oil (discard the string). Save the oil for the sauce.

In a bowl, mix a spoon of flour and an egg yolk, and brush onto the seared rack of lamb. Now dip the lamb on a plate filled with crushed pistachios and panko breadcrumbs. Coat both sides and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 200C. Cut rack chops.

For the garlic-rosemary sauce, take the pan with the lamb fat and add to it a spoon of chopped garlic, some rosemary, a cup of stock, salt, pepper, paprika and two spoons of flour. Mix and reduce for 5 minutes; don't thicken it too much.

Serve your stuffed crusted rack of lamb with the sauce, with the crunchy potato on a bed of rocket. For additional crunch throw in a little leftover pistachio-panko breadcrumb mixture on the side. Light a candle; get fancy!

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Healer Soup

I love soups, and my husband made me this bowl of awesomeness when I was under the weather last week. I liked it so much, I might actually make it at the next party!

The "Thai chicken soup"

In a saucepan, boil 3-4 stalks lemongrass, a spoon of chopped ginger, 4 sliced garlic cloves and 4-5 cups of chicken broth for about 20 minutes, then strain out the veggies. Set aside.

Sauté a few pieces of boneless chicken (the chicken you might have used to make the broth) with whole shiitake mushrooms in a little vegetable oil. Add to it two spoons of red curry paste, a 3/4 lemon, and a spoon of fish oil. Finally add a cup of coconut milk and the broth, with a third of a diced red onion, and simmer for 20 min. Top with chives and/or cilantro and a slit chilli.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Paella

The more I've delayed attempting paella in my kitchen, the more the idea has increasingly intimidated me. Paella enthusiasts are very particular about doing it right. Some say garlic and chorizo do not belong in an authentic paella, and mixing seafood and chicken is nothing short of sacrilege. The fact that I used a nonstick frying pan instead of a paellera pretty much begs for scorn. Nevertheless, I love paella too much to never try. And try I did. And somehow managed to burn the bottom just a little, just the way it's supposed to be! So here is my easy, blasphemous recipe.

Chicken paella

Heat a little olive oil and add a fat spoon of chopped garlic and some sliced chorizo. Also add two bone-in thigh and two leg pieces and let fry on both sides for 15 minutes. Then add two diced tomatoes and some green beans and cook for a while more. Finally add two and a half cups of medium-grain Spanish rice or Arborio (risotto rice), a dash or three of smoked paprika, two branches of fresh rosemary and a few strands of saffron, with three cups of water and salt to taste. Simmer till the rice is cooked; try not to stir the rice too much. Dry it up and serve!

PS: some recipes will ask you to add stock. All I'm saying is, if it's a one-pot recipe involving cooking chicken with the rice and then simmering, the water becomes broth anyway. You don't need stock.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Gozleme

Long weekends = Picnics = Picnic food.
Turns out gozleme is a really fun and easy picnic food for a bright Sunday at the beach like the one we just had :)

Lamb gozleme with feta and spinach

Knead about 4 cups of flour for 6 fat gozlemes with a pinch of salt and some water. Set aside. Meanwhile add half a chopped onion to a pan with some oil, and add a spoonful of chopped garlic. Add salt, sumac, cumin and chilli flakes to taste, and then add about half a kg of minced lamb. Cook until done and dry, and set aside to cool.

Take a fat ball of dough and roll it out into a large thin rectangle. Place the cooled lamb mixture on one half of the rectangle and fold the other side of the rectangle over. Pinch down the sides to seal. Heat a grill pan with a little oil, and cook both sides of each folded rectangle. Cut into smaller pieces and serve with a lemon wedge! Pack and take to the beach!

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Chemmeen Thoran

Fuel your week with this quick and fiery Kerala-style prawn coconut roast! I'm told smaller shrimp are a more appropriate choice for this dish, but I didn't exactly mind fat prawns in mine!

Grind a cup of coconut with two green chillies, a little turmeric, a shallot or two, a small stick of cinnamon, saunf seeds and red chilli powder. Keep it coarse. Meanwhile heat a little coconut oil in a pan and add to it some mustard seeds, two sprigs of curry leaves, two broken dried red chillies and half a sliced onion. Add chopped garlic and grated ginger and cook till onions become translucent. Add prawns and salt to taste. Add maybe half a cup of water (or not) and cook till prawns are cooked through and dried up. Then add the ground coconut mixture and roast with the prawns till cooked, dry, and pretty :) serve!

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Mint Goat

I ran a half-marathon last Sunday, and came home to a fabulous feast with mutton curry thanks to my mother-in-law. Here's her recipe.

Mint mutton curry

Marinate a kg of mutton in a cup of yogurt, a little lemon, ginger-garlic paste, a paste of mint leaves, and freshly ground pepper. Meanwhile purée an onion and set aside. Grind a handful of coriander leaves separately and set aside. Heat a little oil and fry two dried red chillies and remove from oil. Also thinly slice up a shallot and fry until crisp; set aside.

Now heat a spoon of butter and a spoon of oil together in a pan, and add to it cumin seeds and two bay leaves. Once the seeds begin to sputter, add the onion purée and cook until the oil starts to separate. Add the marinated mutton (leave the marinade behind) and the paste of coriander leaves. Cook up until dry, then add salt to taste. Transfer to a pressure cooker and add a little water and a few chopped green chillies. Pressure cook until done. Garnish with the crispy shallots and dried red chillies, and butter! Yum!

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Stuffed Naan

Naans are awesome. That's all I got.

Lamb keema naan

For the dough, knead 3 cups of self-raising flour with a cup of yogurt and water as needed. Add a little oil to your hands once you're done and tap your hands all over the dough to make it smooth. Set aside for an hour at least.

For the stuffing, fry a chopped onion and two chopped green chillies with some ginger and garlic in a little oil. Add half a kilo of minced lamb, salt, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala. Cook till done and dry. Cool.

Divide the dough into little balls. Take one and roll it out. Stuff it with some cooled dry minced lamb and close with the sides of the rolled out dough. Roll it out again carefully into an oval shape. Spread a spoon of melted butter, chopped garlic and sesame seeds on one side. Grill on a grill pan or bake in the oven! Serve hot.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Pancake

Pancakes remind me of my precious boarding school days; my first dorm there served these for breakfast every Thursday with the option of syrup or condensed milk to pour on them. Pancakes require literally no extra ingredient that you might not already have in your kitchen, and are so easy to make for a big bunch of people. Just whip up a big bowl of batter and get going!

Dark chocolate chip pancakes

For about six pancakes, beat together a little more than a cup of flour with two eggs, a spoon of cinnamon, a big spoon of sugar OR 5 crushed sugarless sweetener tablets in my case last weekend, two or three spoons of melted butter, a dash of vanilla essence, a tiny sprinkle of salt, a cup of milk and a spoon of baking powder. Then add a fistful of dark chocolate chips and fold in with a spatula. Heat a frying pan and pour some batter on it after it's hot. Once the sides start to bubble, flip and cook the other side for about a minute before taking off the pan. Repeat till you run out of batter!

Top with a slice of butter and some yummy maple syrup and serve hot!

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Sushi

I've been meaning to try making sushi at home for ages, but somehow never got around to it. But here it finally is. Shrimp tempura rolls are typically supposed to have rice on the outside and nori on the inside (inside-out roll) but because it's my first time and I generally love nori rolls so much, I had to try it this way first! Next step: Dragon rolls! (soon)

Shrimp tempura nori roll. You will need a bamboo mat.

Boil some sushi rice (such that all the water gets evaporated, no draining). Once it boils, cook on low for a while. Use a wooden spoon to transfer the rice into a non-metal bowl. Once it cools, per one cup rice, add about 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar, a sprinkle of salt, and two spoons of sugar. Stir it into the rice with a wooden spoon and set it aside. Meanwhile, make some tempura batter by mixing a cup of flour with a cup of beaten egg and a cup of cold water (or buy some tempura batter!). Dip shrimp in the batter and fry in hot oil for 30 seconds. Set the shrimp tempura aside.

Slice a cucumber length-wise into quarters, and slice up some avocados as well. Now place the bamboo mat flat on the counter, and put cling-wrap on it. Now lay down a nori sheet (shiny side down) on top of the covered mat. Wet your hands and use them to put and spread half a cup of rice evenly onto the nori sheet - wet hands will prevent the rice from sticking to your hands. Make sure the rice covers all corners except for a centimeter from the right edge of the nori sheet. Now on the left side edge, place a long slice of cucumber, a few slices of avocado, and shrimp (lined from top edge to bottom). Put a thin drizzle of mayonnaise (or peri-peri mayo, or Japanese mayo) on them. Now it's time to roll from the left edge to the right. Grab the cling-wrap and bamboo mat on the left side, slowly roll over the filling, and keep rolling to the right, making sure the nori overlaps over itself - keep a hold on the cling-wrap and mat, don't let them become part of the roll! Slice up and serve immediately with dipping soy sauce and wasabi!

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Mini-Thanksgiving

Yes I know it's only September, but the festive season has officially begun, and this recipe proves that you can both want and have stuffed turkey any time of the year without having to bring home a 19-pounder that you can't finish!

Stuffed roasted turkey breasts, complete with stuffing and gravy

Butterfly two skinless turkey breasts - that means cut an incision through the thick side of the turkey breast almost all the way through, but not completely, and then open up the turkey breast. Put it open and flat on some clingwrap against the counter and pound it with a meat mallet/tenderizer/rolling pin to reduce the thickness. Preheat the oven to 190C. Fry a chopped onion in some butter and add it to a bowl of bread crumbs, a half-cup of chopped walnuts, a half-cup of dried cranberries, a lightly beaten egg, a little oregano, and a fistful of parmesan. Mix well. Put generous amounts of this stuffing in the middle of the flattened open turkey breast and wrap the turkey breast around the stuffing, closing it in completely. Secure with toothpicks or food string. In a pan, quickly brown the outside of these turkey rolls in some butter and keep aside. Get a roasting pan, pour a cup of stock in (or make your own "stock" with water, salt and butter) and place these wrapped turkey breasts in them. Cover with foil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, basting in the stock they're placed in.

Once roasted, take out the roasting pan and remove the turkey breasts onto a plate (let them rest). In a pan, melt some butter and add some flour. Once the flour browns a little, add all the liquid from the roasting pan. Add a little thyme, red wine and garlic. Simmer and take off the heat - this is your gravy for the turkey.

Slice open the turkey breasts, pour the gravy on them and serve!

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Saucy Baby Corn

I'd call it the Sichuan/schezwan baby corn but I can't claim to be an expert at authentic Sichuan cuisine. Nevertheless, here's a recipe.

Sauté in sesame oil some ginger, garlic, a half onion (chopped) and three tablespoons of chilli paste. Add two splashes of soya sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Add a spoon of sugar. Take off the heat and grind into a smooth sauce. Let cool.

Meanwhile pour boiling water over halved baby corn and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Drain, and mix the parboiled baby corn with chopped green chillies, ginger and garlic paste, a splash of soya sauce and enough corn flour and water to make a thick mixture. Fry baby corn in hot oil and set aside.

Chop some spring onions and toss in a wok in oil. Add the fried coated baby corn and the sauce you made earlier. Toss for a few minutes and take off the heat. Garnish with spring greens and dried red chilli seeds. Stuff face.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Kheer

I've been trying to make myself more comfortable in desserts. After having tried and tested this kheer recipe more than once I'm comfortable enough to share it here. Presenting: sevaiya kheer or paayesh.

Fry about half a cup of broken Indian vermicelli in a spoon of ghee for maybe 3 minutes and set aside. For a decent bowl of kheer, use half a liter of milk and set to boil in a thick bottomed pan. Once it approaches boiling, reduce heat to simmer. Stir occasionally to check for sticking or burning at the bottom. Add cardamom powder and the vermicelli (sevaiya) and continue to cook. When happy with the consistency, add 2 (or more) fat spoons of sugar and some cashews and maybe walnuts, and let simmer for just a few more minutes before taking off the heat. Add a few strands of saffron for flavor, cool and serve!

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Loaded Coin

It's the return of my obsession with appetizers! These make for a great party starter and are so easy to make :)

Mix a bowl of chopped or shredded ham with equal amounts of your choice of grated cheese and chopped jalapeños and Cajun seasoning. I was pretty generous with my jalapeño quantity, and added about a cup of them to a cup and a half each of cheese and ham. Mix well in the bowl and roll up very tightly in clingwrap plastic to make a giant sausage. Freeze till hardened. Take out, slice, and set up a breading station. Cover slices in flour, then egg wash, then glorious panko breadcrumbs, and deep-fry OR bake till golden-brown!

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Fussy Cookie

Personally, I have never had any issues with wheat, sugar or egg. But there's no reason that those who do can't enjoy a simple chocolate chip cookie! So here's a recipe for a cookie you can eat during a religious fast, or a diet, or if you're vegetarian, or have sugar problems.

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix two cups of almond flour with a pinch of baking soda, a pinch of salt, three spoons of vegetable oil, a drizzle of honey maybe (or skip), a spoon of vanilla extract, a few sprinkles of cinnamon, and 6-7 crushed sugarfree tablets. Add almost a cup of dark chocolate chips and maybe a few pine nuts. The batter might need a half-cup of water depending on how dry it turns out. Mix and roll into about 10 balls. Flatten with the back of a glass and bake for 10 minutes, and let cool for at least another 10. Enjoy crumbly, naturally sweetened, safe-for-all-diets cookies!

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Shakshuka

One-pot recipes never get old. I especially love this Middle-Eastern, typically eaten for breakfast, pan of awesomeness because not only is it easy, it's also great dinner grub for when the fridge is almost empty and you don't really want to make another trip to the grocer's.

Chop half an onion and a bell pepper/capsicum and fry lightly in a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet. Add a spoonful of chopped garlic. Once the onion is transparent, add three large chopped tomatoes and two spoonfuls of tomato paste. Add salt/pepper, a little cumin powder and paprika, and a pinch of sugar. Add a little water if need be to make it saucy. Once the taste is right, carefully crack and empty eggs onto the sauce, place them around the skillet to let them poach individually in the sauce. Now cover the skillet and let the eggs poach and the sauce thicken. Take off the heat; garnish with parsley and serve with toasty dipping bread/roll straight out of the oven!

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Protein Bar

I made my own. These are extremely low-sugar, protein-rich and make for good low-calorie snacks with tea as well; they're diabetic-friendly and really easy to make!

Beat together in a bowl a half-cup of peanut butter (I chose the crunchy kind), three big spoons of honey, two egg whites and a whole egg, two spoons of oil, and two spoons of vanilla extract. If you want to add a little sugar (optional) I'd add about 4-5 spoons. In a separate bowl mix a half-cup of whole-wheat flour, a fat spoon of cinnamon, a pinch of baking soda and a tinier pinch of salt. Add this mixture to the previous peanut butter mixture and fold it in with a spatula. In this yummy mix add two cups of oats, a cup of raisins/currants/dried blueberries/sultanas, a fistful of walnuts and another happy fistful of dark chocolate chips. Spread this mixture evenly in a baking pan and bake for 20 minutes at 180C. When they cool, cut them up into bars. For a tea-time snack I also sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar on top and threw on some rogue dried blueberries and dark chocolate chips. Eat!

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Candied Gooseberry

Amle ka murabba! We grew up eating these after lunch like dessert. Thanks to a friend of mine who I attempted to make these for, here is the candied Indian gooseberry every meal deserves!

Amla, or Indian gooseberry, is easily available in the desi part of the world. In countries like the US and Australia, you'll find them frozen and in packets at your local Indian grocer's. Thaw them, poke them all over with a fork, and soak them in water with a few drops of lime overnight. The next day, wash them and add them to boiling water and let simmer till the fruits become tender and translucent. Take them out and keep the water they were boiled in. Add to it two cups of sugar, a sprinkle of cardamom powder and a spoon of lemon to make a syrup. Let thicken a little before adding the boiled gooseberries and simmering for 5-6 minutes. Take off the heat and cool before storing in an airtight container. I added crushed walnuts to mine because I can. Suck on one of these after lunch and feel the antioxidants seep in!

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Sausage Casserole

One-pot wonders are back! Who has time for anything more on weeknights?

Sausage casserole

Pick your favorite sausage. If it wasn't chorizo for me it'd be a nice cheese kransky. Thickly slice up the chorizo and add to a cold pan with bacon bits, and heat. Once they start crackling, add two chopped shallots, a large diced tomato, some carrots and celery (and any other veggies you might want, like broccoli). Then add some thyme, a spoon of sugar, a little wine (I used red) and some chicken stock. Cover and let simmer and reduce to your favorite consistency. Check for salt and add if needed. Serve over mashed potatoes!

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Laksa

After a weekend or two of food-sins, my husband and I like to wind down with two days of soup for dinner. On one such night I ventured into laksa and it turned out worthy of a post. So here it is.

Laksa paste is something that is readily available in the market, like garam masala or like stock. However, homemade laksa paste can be made by grinding a small red shallot, soaked dry red chillies (6-7), ginger-garlic paste, salt, turmeric, a few macadamia nuts, dried shrimp, a stalk of lemongrass, cumin and coriander, and a little paprika with a small drizzle of oil.

For laksa, pour boiling water over your rice vermicelli noodles and let it sit for 3 minutes before draining. Meanwhile heat a little oil in a pot. Add two fat spoons of laksa paste to it and fry for a minute till your kitchen smells like laksa. Add prawns, chicken and snow peas and fry some more with the paste. Then add two cups of coconut milk and two cups of chicken stock. Simmer, add the noodles, and add salt to taste, until happy with the consistency. Serve hot with bean sprouts and maybe cucumber on top!

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Aglio e Olio

My parents have never been big fans of a lot of creamy sauce all over pasta. Many who wouldn't have it any other way would wonder what that even means. This recipe makes for a quick, easy and reasonably healthy dinner on a weeknight, sans sauce.

Pasta Aglio e Olio

Get your favorite pasta (I went with durum wheat penne) and boil till cooked al dente. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile heat some olive oil and throw in a spoon of freshly chopped garlic, dry red chillies or chilli flakes, and chorizo, plus any veggies you might want to add. Fry till the chorizo is crackling. Add the pasta in and toss. Add a half cup of fresh parsley and toss till wilted. Turn off the heat and add a fistful of parmesan and a little oregano. Toss and serve!

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Poppy Bird

Posto chicken, or poppy chicken curry. Easy 20 minute recipe and perfect for a pre-siesta lunch on the weekends!

Soak a tablespoon of poppy seeds in water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and add to the blender with a large spoonful of coconut (grated/chunks), a couple of green chillies, a few cinnamon sticks and cardamon, and grind. Set aside.

Fry a chopped onion with a spoonful of ginger garlic paste in a little mustard oil. Add chicken pieces (750g) and a spoon each of cumin and coriander powder along with salt and turmeric. Add the poppy seed/coconut paste. Add a little water to allow for simmering, and maybe a spoon or two of cashewmeal as a thickening agent. Cook until the chicken is done. Serve traditionally with a garnish of cilantro, over fresh basmati rice. Enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Spiced Mince

Start your Monday healthy with this easy 10-minute yummy tummy-filler.

Spiced Mince

Finely chop a small onion and fry in a little olive oil in a pan. Add your choice of minced meat/poultry (I used half a kg of turkey mince) and fry till the meat is no longer pink. Add a small spoon of chopped or minced garlic, a spoon each of cumin and paprika, and salt to taste. Then add large pieces of diced tomato and eggplant, maybe even some chopped cauliflower, some pine nuts, dried blueberries/sultanas/raisins/currants for a sour element, and generous amounts of parsley. Take off the heat.

Serve with a fried egg for added yum, over your choice of side - couscous, wild rice, whatever. I served mine over turmeric flattened rice (poha) and it tasted awesome!

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Bengali Dum

Dum Aloo is typically a Kashmiri dish in a rich slow-cooked gravy, but there are so many variants to the actual recipe, this one being a common Bengali weekend brunch one, with a side of fluffy luchis.

Parboil potatoes. Ideally get baby potatoes but we made do with regular ones. Cut into large pieces and set aside. Heat a little oil and add ginger-garlic paste. Then add a diced onion and sauté. Add a diced tomato and some salt, turmeric, red chilli, cumin and coriander powders, and sauté some more. Add a stick or two of cinnamon and throw in two cardamom. Take the mixture off the heat and grind coarsely. Add it back to the pan with the potatoes and cook on until the potatoes are done (add water intermittently so nothing burns). Finish it off with a sprinkle of kasuri methi.

I avoid refined flour in my luchis so I made the dough purely out of whole wheat flour (aata). Knead it into a tight, smooth dough, not soft like you would for roti. Roll using oil (not dry flour) and deep fry.

Serve up!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Monday Kicker

Need help getting out of bed this Monday? Forget coffee; this breakfast will have you power through the morning!

French toast with chocolate cream, coconut, walnuts and mandarins

Works great with slices of bread too but I went with a leftover baguette. Whip 3 eggs with a half cup of milk, a pinch of salt and some cinnamon. Heat butter on a pan. Dunk a slice of bread in the egg mixture (let it soak for a few seconds) and then place in the pan. Let one side brown, then flip.

The chocolate cream is basically an unthickened ganache (which I prefer to chocolate sauce because sauce is too sweet). Boil half a cup of cream and pour over 50 grams of chocolate. Mix.

Top up your eggy bread with some creamy chocolate, grated coconut, walnuts and mandarins. You've got your carbs, your protein, some fruits and nuts and juuust enough sugar to keep you going till that sacred hour of lunch. Happy Monday!

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Sweet Centurion

Happy 100th post! I don't know how and when we made it to a hundred, but I knew I wanted to step out of my comfort zone to attempt something different for today. There's so much I don't know, and after today I can say a decent meringue isn't one of those things (yay).


They sit there at the confectionery looking so colorful and pretty and you just want to pop a million of them at once. Totally doable at home, by the way.

Preheat oven to 150C. Beat four egg whites together with a cup of caster sugar till they form a stiff foam or meringue - which is when the mixture stiffens so much that you could turn the bowl upside down for a sec and it won't fall out. Add a few drops of desired flavor or food coloring and mix some more. Then add a cup of almond meal and a cup and a half of icing sugar with a tiny pinch of salt. Fold until mixed well but not runny. Pour into a piping bag and make little macarons on a tray lined with baking paper. Tap the tray flat against the counter once or twice to smoothen each macaron. Bake for 15-20 minutes and cool.

For the filling you could use any cream, but I went with a simple chocolate ganache. Boil 30 mL of cream and pour over about 100g of chocolate. Let it sit for a minute then stir to mix. Cool until thickened in the fridge and pipe onto the base of one macaron cookie. Add the second macaron cookie on top and there you have it: homemade macarons!

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Malai Kofta

Stepping it up for the week of the 100th post, which will be this Friday. Creamy!

Malai Kofta

Grate maybe two cups of paneer and add to it a mashed potato, a tablespoon of cornflour, salt, red chilli powder, a large spoon of chopped cashews, a small spoon each of cumin and coriander powder, and a sprinkle of garam masala. Knead together before forming round shapes for kofta and deep-frying. Set aside.

For the gravy, sauté big pieces of a large onion with ginger-garlic paste. Add a diced tomato, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin and coriander powders and a sprinkle of garam masala. Take off the heat and grind to a textured pulp with some cashews. Return to heat, add a little water and simmer. Add a small spoon of sugar for that mild sweetness, and turn off the heat. Add a dollop of sour cream for creaminess and a garnish of kasuri methi, and just before serving, and the deep-fried koftas. Serve up with naan!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Seekh

Happy Eid! We kept it simple with a favorite combination of mine from lazy evenings back in Saudi Arabia: seekh kababs with khubz and toum garlic sauce. These kababs are so easy to make!

Grind 4 green chillies into a paste. Chop an onion and a fistful of coriander. Mix half a kg of minced meat of your choice (we chose lamb) with the green chilli paste, chopped onions and coriander leaves, a little sprinkle of flour, sea salt, a small spoon each of cumin and coriander powder, and a little garam masala. Knead the combination with your hands for five minutes as you would knead dough. Let it sit in the fridge for a bit.

Preheat oven to 200C. The oven needs to be hot by the time the kababs go in. Pack the minced mix around the entire length of skewers to get the seekh kabab shape. Gently spray or brush with a little oil before placing in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping after 10. Get them out after 20 minutes so that the inside of the kabab remains succulent. For additional browning, if you need, pan-fry for 2 minutes with almost no oil (we didn't need to!). Slide off the skewers and serve!

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Veggie Kabab

When life hands you failed matar kachori, make hara bhara kababs! This recipe can be used to make kababs, sandwich filling, little veggie balls for pasta or even veggie burgers. 

Hara bhara kabab

Boil and mash two cups of peas. Maybe even run through a blender to make them extra smooth. Add salt and set aside in a bowl.

Heat a spoon of ghee or oil in a pan. Add a spoon of ginger paste and two crushed green chillies. Then add half a spoon of cumin powder, half a spoon of coriander powder, a sprinkle of garam masala and a half spoon of chaat masala. Sprinkle a little gram flour (besan). Fry for two min and take off the heat. Add mix to the bowl of peas. Add chopped coriander if you like, and maybe some chopped peanuts for a crunchy texture (optional). Finally add a small spoon of flour (maida or all-purpose) and mix the entire thing together. Shape into small patties for kababs or large patties for burgers. Pan-fry in shallow oil; don't flip them until the bottom gets crispy, or it will collapse. Serve in a bun, or with a spicy sauce, or on other food!

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Coorgi

Pandi fry! It's my first time experimenting with Coorgi food, which obviously means there shall be pork. It's tough to find some of the key ingredients involved in Coorgi cuisine (such as the special vinegar called kachampuli) but I make do.

Pandi fry

Cook small pieces of pork (to avoid pressure-cooking) with a little oil, a large sliced onion, ground garlic, two-ish green chillies and a sprinkle of fresh curry leaves, plus salt and curry powder.

Simultaneously (or before cooking the pork), dry roast a spoon and half of Kashmiri red chilli powder, a small spoon of pepper, a small spoon each of coriander and cumin powder, a spoon of garam masala, and constantly stir the mix in a dry pan on low heat till the entire mixture becomes the color of coffee. Should take 10 minutes, and the low heat and constant stirring are key so that you don't burn the powder. Add to the pan of pork with a spoon of either kachampuli, or malt vinegar and a few drops of lime if you can't find kachumpuli. Continue to cook the pork till the dish is almost completely dry. Garnish with coriander and sliced green chillies! Spicy!

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Icy Inferno

So this didn't go as planned at all.

My original recipe idea, thanks to a wonderful friend of mine, was to make a spicy, tangy chutney out of some fresh Carolina Reapers that I had found at the supermarket. I did make it. It gave me a nosebleed. So I doused it in yogurt, sugar and lime and suddenly I had a pretty yummy dip! I'm going to run through a list of dos and don'ts after the recipe so you're in less pain than I was yesterday.

Chop about 2/3rds of a Carolina Reaper, deseeded, with half a red bell pepper/capsicum and a shallot. Sauté with cumin seeds on low heat for a very short time before adding to the blender with a big spoon of tamarind paste, a cup of yogurt, two spoons of sugar and lime to taste, plus a sprinkle of sea salt. Toast sesame seeds for garnishing. Chill in fridge before serving!

Warning: DO NOT touch your face.
                   DO NOT sauté without proper ventilation of fumes or on high.
                   DO NOT forget to take the seeds out.
                   DO NOT get ambitious and add more than the said amount of Reaper.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Crumbed Calamari

Happy Friday, readers! It's comfort food night and I've been watching way too much MasterChef and feel the need to be grating lemon rind onto things.

Crumbed Calamari with Polenta

Get calamari rings. Mix together breadcrumbs, grated lemon rind, a few thyme leaves, salt and ideally some ground corn flakes for extra crunch (which I didn't have at home). Beat an egg in a separate bowl. Cover calamari with egg and then toss in the crumb mix. Deep fry.

Boil one part polenta in three parts water and add some butter and parmesan to make it creamier. Reduce to a creamy texture. I added some thyme leaves here as well.


Monday, June 20, 2016

The Sweetheart

This is my best friend's recipe of mishti doi (literally sweet yogurt), which obviously is the best Bengali creation since... well... a lot of other awesome Bengali creations. I've looked at a lot of recipes online before, and who would've known that my awesome bestie was sitting on the easiest one!

 Mishti doi

 Beat equal parts evaporated milk, condensed milk, and full fat yogurt with a stand mixer till bubbles form. Preheat oven to 180 and turn the oven off. Either put the doi in oven overnight in that warm environment for setting, or leave it in the oven on very low for more than half a day. Let it sit out for a few more hours. Be sure not to move the yogurt around too much to let it set. Serve! Refrigerate for storage.