Thursday, 5 April 2012

Beet And Curry Leaves Stir Fry

I promised a recipe before Thursday, and well... I am keeping half of my promise. I am bringing it to you on  Thursday! And I said that it will be a healthy recipe, and that is what I bring. Now please do not think that the words 'fry' and 'healthy' cannot co-exist. They can. And this is just one of those times when they do! Just stir-fried beets with Indian curry leaves...and trust me, they are way too good. Beets are not everyone's favourites, I know. And I have seen a lot of people repulsive to beetroots. But this dish might help them a bit in liking it.

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Cleansing Routine Finished

It's over...A week long's self control is finally over! It was like going through a fast of some kind! On the 5th and 6th day, there was so much craving for tastes and yummy food for us. Surprisingly, yesterday, when we were back to normal, all the craving suddenly seemed to vanish. We ate normally, and in fact, my intake was lesser than before starting the diet programme. There has been visible difference. I have lost almost 4 kgs and I am not feeling weak. And I know I have been cleansed thoroughly from inside. Skin and complexion, everything has become better. Next comes the point of maintenance. And that would involve physical activity on a consistent basis. (That's difficult for me). But I am going to try my will at that too! Positively from Thursday.

Will get back to you with a salad recipe before that. (Healthy eating, ha!)

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Cleansing Routine

Hey, I forgot to tell you... I have taken up the famous GM diet since Modany. Mohan is a total health and fitness conscious person. Of course he likes all that I cook and bake, and he would eat scones and even cakes sometimes for breakfast! But what he eats, he always does in moderation. He knows how his body would respond to his intake as well as his workout regime. He is someone who feels real bad if he has to skip his workout a day! And he is also a great health and fitness advisor. And then.... let's talk about me.... I am absolutely not like him. I gorge and I workout so very rarely! And since my cooking and baking researches take place on almost a daily basis, and since we are only 2 of us in this house, and since he eats in moderation, you know where the rest ends up! my belly! I share some with my sis but that's only when I get to meet her, and that isn't everyday. 

So when Mohan announced he was going to take up the GM diet from Monday, I thought, "why not give it a try...probably my motivation might start there". And that's how it all started. Now is day 3. Surprisingly, my craving today has come down. Day 1 with only fruits intake made me crave soooooooooo much, and Day 2 made it worse. Yesterday, with only vegetables to go... it was torture for me! But I made it. And today, with both fruits and veggies, I am not craving that much. I think I am getting used to it. I have to clench my teeth through the next 4 days to come. Hoping for the best!

But this is an awesome diet routine to follow. It is a good cleansing routine, rather than a weight loss programme. It detoxifies the system and cleans the body entirely from within. Your body will really thank you. I have already started feeling the difference.

So no pictures today, and no proper cooking for the next 4 days.... But I will update on how the routine goes with me...

Monday, 26 March 2012

Cream And Apple Scones

They are Dream Scones, actually...

Yes, I am so true that you have to try it. You must make them for breakfast tomorrow morning, and you will be dreamy all through the day. Scones, to me, are so English and classy. Warm scones slathered with butter (as if they do not have enough butter in them!) or jam or both...mmm...that's luxury for the morning. I love scones, and though they might not look pretty enough, they can make me swoon! But scones can be tricky. They can disappoint you heavily by coming out drier or rather bland or harder. And then, they would taste terrible, turning all your dreams into nightmares. 

Fortunately, after many experiments, I have this foolproof awesome recipe by the effervescent Deb of Smitten Kitchen. She has hers with cranberries but I used chopped apples instead, the first time...and ever since, I have been using only apples. The taste is so perfect for me with apples in them that although I imagine the use of lemons, orange zest, cheese and scallions, and so much more, I am always tempted to make these with apples, and I give in. They are that good! Mohan (that's my husband) had his first bite (the first time I made these) and was literally surprised at how dreamy and airy they were, yet retaining that ever so slight crispiness on the outside. Now that's a perfect scone. It will remain as one of our favourite breakfasts forever. And the flavour so rich with cream and butter.... Oh, yes, this recipe has a good amount of cream. But you cannot be that weight conscious as to avoid these scones, can you?!!!

Cream And Apple Scones

Very slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups All-purpose flour
3 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
5 Tbsp Butter (unsalted), chilled
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Apples chopped into 1/4 inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 220 degree Celsius.

Sift the flour and mix in the salt, sugar and baking powder until well combined.

Cut butter into 1/4 inch cubes. Note that the butter needs to be chill enough. Cut the butter into the flour quickly either by hand or a pastry blender (I do this by hand) so as to resemble a coarse meal. Slightly larger lumps here and there are fine. Mix in the chopped apples until evenly distributed.

Now, mix in the cream (It is better if cream is chilled, too) and combine everything so as to form a dough. This has to be done real quick. The dough needs to go into the oven while considerable chill enough. Next, take dough and any bits left on to the counter and knead for 5 to 10 seconds, to form a sticky ball. Deb says that we can from this point, either press the dough onto an 8 inch cake pan and cut into wedges, or pat the dough into 3/4 inch circle roughly, and use a biscuit cutter to cut the scones. I use the previous method so that I would not have problem with scraps (they are not going to be as good as the first batch), but I use a 7 inch pan to form the circle, and I get slightly taller scones, which I like.

Place the wedges on a baking tray, and bake them in the middle rack for 12 - 15 minutes. Mine takes 15 minutes always. 

And there you have...your dream breakfast.


Friday, 16 March 2012

Aloo Dum Banarasi

Potatoes in cardamom and fennel spiced tomato gravy

Comfort is something which is everyone's need. And comfort can be in many things, like a soft bed and fluffy pillows, potato chips and a movie on the couch, a book, or any other thing. But comfort food, to me, is the ultimate comforter. No one can say 'no' to a cup of hot chocolate or a bowl of cheesy pasta or... ok, let's stop here because my mind has already started craving! The other day, I was sad. And when I switched over my thoughts to dinner after hectic work and a sad heart, and I could not think of anything. And the more I thought of what to make for dinner, the more frustrated I was getting. I barged into the kitchen, half frustrated and half tired, and searched my pantry. I wanted to make something simple, yet comforting enough to take all the heaviness out of me.

Scanning eyes...pantry shelves...and then, my eyes caught the potatoes snug in their tray... and potatoes, to me, is comfort. I could go on and on about the virtues of the humble potato...from being a must in every house to the versatile nature in it to adapt to any style of cooking...and offering addictions in the form of chips, fries, roasts and all. I had to make Aloo Dum Banarasi which is Potatoes in cardamom and fennel spiced tomato gravy. It's a favourite in our house and one of the ultimate comfort foods for me. You have got to do this and you will thank me for adding one more into your collection of comfort foods.

As with all comfort foods, it has a tad more richness than other dishes but that can be adjusted depending on your preferences. The gravy does not overpower the taste of the potatoes in it, which in itself is flavoured with cardamom and honey but mind you it is not sweet. It has fennel seeds, ginger and all things good for your tasting senses.

Aloo Dum Banarasi- Potatoes in cardamom and fennel spiced tomato gravy

It might seem like a long list of ingredients, but do not get intimidated by that...go ahead...

Adapted from Tarla Dalal
4 medium to large size Potatoes or weight-equivalent baby potatoes
6 to 7 large Tomatoes
1.5 tsp Fennel seeds
10 to 12 cashew nuts (optional)
2.5 cm Ginger or 1 Tbsp grated Ginger
7 cloves Garlic
Oil 4 Tbsp
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Chilli powder
2 tsp Salt
4 Cardamom pods or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Kasuri Methi)
1 tsp Mustard seeds
A pinch of Asafoetida (optional)
A handful of Coriander leaves (chopped) 
1 Tbsp Cream (optional)
Oil for frying potatoes

Note: If you cannot find dried fenugreek leaves where you live, do not fret. Although this adds a unique touch to the dish in terms of flavour, you will still find comfort without it! Also, for the gravy, you can use equivalent amount of canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones.

Cut potatoes into large pieces (quartered or cubed). Fry the potatoes in hot oil for about 5 minutes. Drain them in paper towel and set aside. You can alternatively use the grill-microwave combination mode of a microwave oven, if you have such a model. It will take around 15 minutes in this method but uses only 2 Tbsp oil in this method. Just coat the potato cubes with oil and place the tray into the top rack of the oven for 15 minutes in that mode. 

For the gravy,
Immerse the tomatoes whole in very hot water for about 5 minutes. Then remove them and place them in cold water. Once they are able to be handled, peel them. With the help of a mixer-grinder or blender, make a puree of the tomatoes, cashew nuts (if using), fennel seeds, ginger and garlic cloves.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Once hot, add mustard seeds and once they splatter, and asafoetida (if using). In medium-high heat, pour in the puree. This needs real care for there are all the chances in the world for the puree to sizzle and splatter in the hot oil. But that's Indian cooking for you, with all the fireworks! Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes so that the puree cooks through well enough. The oil will start to separate from the puree. Add the cardamom seeds (only seeds and not the pods) or powder, salt, turmeric, chilli powder and then, the potatoes. Stir everything together. Then add the honey and dried fenugreek leaves (if using). Mix well. Cook for another 5 minutes in low-medium heat for the flavours to come through together. Remove from heat, mix in the cream (if using) and add the coriander leaves.

Serve alongside parathas or rotis.

And there you have it... comfort food to hug you after a day's hard work.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Orange Vanilla Glazed Semolina Cake (Eggless)

I like to bake cakes first thing in the morning. I know, I know... they are not the best breakfast dishes, but I love the calm and stillness of an early morning. The entire process of stirring things together and shoving them into the oven, the peaceful waiting time and the heavenly aroma that fills home, sweetness seeping into every nook and corner at early hours of the day... all these make baking in the morning almost an addiction to me.

In fact, I am not even a morning person. I am totally nocturnal. Yet, somehow, I have found love in baking in the mornings. Of course I bake breads and other goodies too (which are far better for breakfast than cakes!)... nevertheless, a cake is a cake! And there is no denying it!
This semolina cake with a touch of orange citrus glaze justifies the effort taken. The orange glaze gives a touch of luxury to an already buttery cake, the orange pulp that sits on top of the cake being the crown . The cake has a grainier texture but is moist, and again to say, very buttery. It makes you want more.

Orange Vanilla Glazed Eggless Semolina Cake

Adapted from various sources
For the Cake:
1.5 cups semolina (fine)
1 cup milk
1 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup butter (unsalted)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda,
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
a few strands of saffron (optional)

For the Glaze:

3/4 cup sugar
1 orange (medium sized)
3/4 cup water
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

If semolina is not fine in texture, it can be ground using a mixer grinder until fine enough. Also, butter at room temperature is best for this. If using saffron, combine a Tbsp of warm milk and saffron stands and let them stand for at least 5 minutes before adding them to the batter. This releases the colour of the saffron.

Beat yoghurt and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add butter and beat again until well combined. Add baking soda, salt and vanilla extract into the wet mixture, and mix well. Pour the milk over the semolina evenly. (And also the saffron milk, if using). Then pour the wet mixture into the semolina - milk mixture and stir until combined. Leave aside for at least an hour or up to 6 hours. This softens the semolina further.

Preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius.

Grease a 8 or 9 inch cake pan. Pour in the batter and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until set. (It took 45 minutes in my oven).

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Remove the pulp from the orange by peeling it. Combine sugar, orange pulp, zest and water. Heat in medium heat until boiling and slightly syrupy.

Remove the cake and poke a few holes in it. Pour the glaze on the cake when still warm and spoon the pulp over it. You will not need the entire glaze. Pour as much as you think will be needed by your taste buds!