Thursday, 27 February 2014

Dal Pakwan / Lentil with crispy flat bread

Dal Pakwan- Lentils with Crispy fried Indian flat bread and  tamarind chutney

Dal pakwan with tamarind chutney
Dal pakwan with tamarind chutney

As a child I remember eating something different every day for breakfast Paratha, poha, upma, Cholle bature and many other Sindhi dishes. As opposed to now which are cereals and milk and toast on special occasions, either because we are too lazy or because we live in a country where eating cooked breakfast everyday would probably be a lot of effort. Really the reason is we just don’t have enough time. This is why breakfast items have now become our weekly dinners.  Being a Sindhi and eating deep fried food is almost interchangeable. Most dishes would involve sautéing in oil or deep frying. That said it’s the fat that makes the food tasty…think of the cheesy pizza, cheese balls, cakes or imagine the pav bhaji without butter. And after all our taste buds are well trained to differentiate that, maybe not the body which is why being healthy is given so much importance. And for year’s people lived under a misconception that it’s the fat that makes you fat.  Only to find out that sugar is the culprit
Dal pakwan with tamarind chutney
Dal pakwan with tamarind chutney

  Not sure whether I am justifying the act of deep frying or suggesting that healthy food is a hoax. But it gives me immense joy to tell you that here’s a recipe that’s deep fried yet very balanced, Dal Pakwan which is lentils with crispy bread and tangy tamarind chutney. It’s definitely not fried chips with fried fish which is why I think it’s balanced. It’s absolutely delicious and the good news is it’s a dish that can be made ahead so simply perfect for entertaining. Apart from soaking the dal overnight this recipe is a breeze…
Soaked Chana daal
Soaked Chana Daal

Ingredients:
For the Dal:
Chana Dal (soaked overnight) - 1 cup
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Chilly powder and Dry/Mango Powder for garnishing

For the Pakwan:
1 cup plain flour/Maida
A pinch of baking soda
Oil- 2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 ½ tsp
Salt to taste.

For the Tamarind Chutney:
1 Red onion finely chopped.
A tsp of finely chopped coriander
Small green chilly chopped
Half tsp of jaggery or a tsp of Sugar
Tamarind Juice (a tsp of tamarind soaked in a cup of water) - 1 cup.

Method:
Pressure cook the Dal (soaked overnight) with 2 cups of water for 4 whistles. Once done, add salt to taste and turmeric powder, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 min.

For the Pakwan, Mix the cumin seeds, salt, soda and oil to the plain flour and mix (will look like a bread crumb consistency)
Add water till all the ingredients bind (about 3 tbsp. of water, can be more or less), cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 10 min.
After 10 min, knead the dough, cover and leave aside
dough for pakwan

roll out as thin as you can

To make the tamarind chutney mix all the ingredients and mix well till jaggery dissolves completely
Heat oil for deep frying the pakwan, Make equal size dough balls, and roll out as thin as you can.
Deep fry the pakwan, till it turns golden brown. Place on absorbent paper.
Transfer dal to a bowl sprinkle chilly powder, dry mango powder and serve hot with pakwans and some tamarind chutney!

 
Dal pakwan
Dal Pakwan


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Chocolate covered strawberries - Simple and Easy Dessert

Chocolate covered strawberries
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Strawberries covered with dark chocolate and a white chocolate drizzle, a treat made with love.
Chocolate covered strawberries would get the top marks for the most romantic dessert/ treat; I am not entirely sure why maybe it’s the red color or simply the chocolate. And my other half once tried to make them using store bought chocolate sauce in an attempt to surprise me and yes I was surprised and he was too it did not set. It’s a sauce it’s not going to set but the effort was worth it, it tasted great…just like chocolate fondue. That’s one thing about chocolate it can never disappoint you. And still you would find many chefs and recipes stressing on the use of a good quality chocolate. And how do you tell if it’s good quality chocolate? Just by the snap sound it makes when you break it…simple isn’t it! But I don’t see myself or anyone else for that matter walking into the aisle opening the wrapper and breaking the chocolate bars to hear the snapping sound. Luckily there’s another way to tell and that is the percentage of cocoa that it states on the wrapper and higher the cocoa percentages better the quality of the chocolate.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Chocolate Covered Strawberries


So anyway, a chocolate covered strawberry sounds easy and is really easy as long as you have the right chocolate bar. And since love is still in the air (a week after valentines) and mostly because I was in a mood for a treat, with berries in the fridge and a bar of chocolate at sight I thought chocolate covered strawberries would be an amazing idea.

It’s really about dipping the strawberries in melted chocolate and more or less the quantities don’t matter but the ingredients  will make sure you don’t waste any chocolate and a recipe that shows three simple steps.

Ingredients:

Strawberries -12
Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate- 70 g
White chocolate to drizzle (optional) - 6 to 7 pieces

Method:

Line a tray with a greased baking sheet or line the tray with a sheet and place a rack over it. Rinse and Dry the strawberries with a kitchen towel.
Strawberries
Strawberries

Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler (heat proof bowl placed on a sauce pan with water over medium heat) and melt the chocolate. (Just melt don’t let it bubble, that will ruin the chocolate)
Melt chocolate in a double boiler
Melt chocolate in a double boiler

Once melted, turn off the heat, place the sauce pan with the bowl on the counter and dip the strawberries in the melted chocolate, I use my hands but you could also use a cocktail stick, remove the excess dripping chocolate on the side of the bowl and place it on the rack or the greased baking sheet. 
Melted Dark Chocolate
Melted Dark Chocolate

Dip strawberry in melted chocolate sauce
Dip strawberry in melted chocolate sauce


Follow the same with rest, matter of seconds.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Let it cool in the fridge for about 15 to 30 minutes.
Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave ( careful without burning it) and place the white chocolate in the zip lock bag and snip one tiny end or use a piping bag  and randomly pipe the white chocolate on the strawberries; Or simply drizzle with a fork. it should set almost instantly if not leave for a few minutes.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries with white chocolate drizzle
Chocolate Covered Strawberries with white chocolate drizzle

Serve it on its own, on the side of a dessert or top it on a cake or cupcake!   Its more than a treat its indulgence…


 
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Chocolate Covered Strawberries



Thursday, 20 February 2014

Prawn and Vegetable Stir Fry

Prawn and Vegetable Stir Fry
Prawn and Vegetable Stir Fry
Prawn and Vegetable Stir Fry

Stir fry is one of the easiest Asian methods to cook, ready in minutes and simply delicious.
Eating take away and having home deliveries sometimes becomes inevitable and weirdly sometimes I simply want to make everything from scratch.  And it’s not always about complicated cooking.  Especially when you can buy a pack of stir fry medley in the super market and when I see some fresh king prawns at the fish monger that’s it, dinner sorted.
Prawn and Vegetable Stir Fry
Prawn and Vegetable Stir Fry

And  I don't want to  start again on how healthy it is to eat a little veg everyday (see Vegetable curry ) and the key is to not overcook them so they retain their lovely texture and flavor. Also the thought of cooking something delicious so quickly is so relaxing. So here's a Thai-inspired Stir fry….

Stir Fry Vegetables
Stir Fry Vegetables

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

Raw King Prawns (peeled) – 145 g
Spring onion (no stalks)-
Garlic 4 cloves
Ginger sliced – a tsp.
Water – ½ cup
Corn Flour- 1 tbsp.
Rice Wine- ¼ cup
Sugar – 1 tsp
Light Soya sauce – ¼ cup
Sesame oil- 2 tbsp.
Vegetable/ Sunflower oil-  4 tbsp.
Basil leaves- 5 to 6 leaves.

Vegetables (  or your choice of vegetables)
Mushroom- 5
Carrot- 1 no’s
Broccoli – 8 no’s
Red chilly – 1 no’s
Baby corn – 5 no’s
Snow Peas – 12 no’s
Green beans- 12 no’s 


Method:
Chop(diagonally) the mushrooms, chilly,Carrots, spring onions, Ginger and Garlic.
sliced vegetables

In a bowl, add the water and mix the corn flour in it. Stir in the soya sauce and rice wine and leave aside.
Mix corn flour and water

Sauce Mixture

In a wok, heat 2 a tbsp. of regular oil and a tbsp. of sesame oil, add the garlic sauté for a few seconds add in the prawns and cook till all prawns turn pink. Remove from wok and leave aside.
Cook prawns
Saute Prawns and Garlic till all turn pink

Heat the remaining oil in the same wok, add in the spring onions, carrots and broccoli and  sauté for a minute add in the remaining veggies cook for another minute or two, vegetables should be cooked but still have a little crunch to it.
Add the sauce mixture to the wok, bring to a boil or just till the sauce thickens.
Stir Fry


 Finally add the Prawns and freshly chopped basil.
And there it is Vegetable and Prawn stir fry. Serve with Rice!


 
Prawn and Vegetable Stir Fry
Prawn and Vegetable Stir Fry










Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Chilla - Spicy wheat flour crepes

Chilla / Spicy wheat flour crepes

Chilla - Spicy wheat flour crepes
Chilla - Spicy wheat flour crepes

Light and fluffy, wheat flour crepes ready under 10 minutes.  The ultimate lazy Sunday breakfast or a quick Tea Time Snack.
Crepes might have originated in France however this isn’t a French recipe and has no eggs at all. And is called Chilla in India, I like to call it crepes because it’s made of wheat flour batter of pouring consistency and can be eaten with many different fillings, the variations are endless. I have always had these as a child with some pickle but today there are many options and this recipe will give you the chance to explore your favorite filling.
This is a really quick, easy and delicious recipe with very little ingredients and can be made in 10 minutes.  I make these very often mostly because I am lazy but also because it’s so tasty.

Makes 8 to 10 crepes

Ingredients:

Wheat flour 1/3 cup
Salt to taste
Chilly powder/ cayenne pepper 1 tsp
Dry mango powder – ½ tsp (optional)
Zest of one lemon
Water to make a batter (2/3 of a cup)
Oil


Method:
1     Mix the wheat flour, salt( I add about a tsp), chilly powder or cayenne pepper with a fork

Wheat Flour, salt and spices

2    Add water to make a runny yet thick batter (pouring consistency). Add Zest of one lemon
Add lemon zest to the batter

   Heat  a pan, pour  a ladle of batter and gently  swirl with the back of the ladle to thin it out ( not necessary if your batter is thin just swirl the pan
Swirl the pan or use a ladle to thin out the batter

       Add a little oil before flipping the pancake (would take about 30 seconds or less to cook).
Flip it and cook for 30 seconds

      Serve these hot and delicious spicy pancakes with some cream cheese, chilly sauce/ ketchup or as I mentioned before I gobbled mine with some mango pickle and a Cuppa….Yum!
Chilla - Spicy wheat flour crepes
Chilla - Spicy wheat flour crepes






Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Masala Chai/ Chai latte/ Masala Tea

Masala Chai/ Tea/ Chai Latte
Masala Chai


A wonderfully sweet, spicy and soothing tea.
Chai takes me back to those memories, sitting in the veranda sipping a cup of tea with mom and my siblings chatting  endlessly, India is all about endless conversations and the endless teas, and of course endless fun…I can never say no to a cup of chai. Indian streets, tea vendors, memories. ..It’s all about flavours isn’t it!

Crushed Ginger
Adrak/ Ginger

Speaking of flavours, Adrak vali chai / Ginger tea is a perfect pick me up and ginger has its own healing properties and so is Masala chai. Its fragrant, its spiced its sweet, its soothing and I bet you will fall in love with this one. If you have tried chai latte in one of the local coffee shops you know what I am talking about but this recipe is far more authentic. So whether it’s a windy rainy day, cold winter day or nice and sunny stand by the window and sip some masala chai and relax…


Serves - 2       
                                                      

Ingredients:

Tea bags- 2
Water-1 ½ cups
Evaporated Milk – 1 ½ cup
Cinnamon powder- ½ tsp
Cardamom powder- ½ tsp
Ginger crushed- 1 tsp
Sugar as per taste

Method:

      Bring  1 ½ cups of water to boil in a heavy bottom sauce pan, add crushed ginger, 2 tea bags and sugar to taste bring to a boil again.
      Add evaporated milk, cardamom and cinnamon powder and bring to a boil briefly ( evaporated milk doesn’t need to be excessively  boiled )
     Strain and serve!


Smell it. Sip it and relax….









Monday, 17 February 2014

Palak Paneer (Spinach and cottage cheese)

Palak Paneer/ Spinach and Cottage cheese
Palak Paneer/ Spinach and Cottage cheese

Palak paneer  is pureed spinach with cottage cheese (Paneer), a type of mildly flavoured Indian curry.

  One thing that comes with human nature is the quality of making assumptions, maybe not all but some do and really funny ones. For e.g. something like all Indians get married to strangers or all Indian curries are hot. And strangely, none of it is true yes there was a time and there are still people who do that but it would be wrong to generalize that  or even to generalize all curries are hot. For once, Indian cuisine uses a range of spices yet balances it.  And not all indian curries are the same, the things that we eat everyday are not heavily spiced, however I love how funny some people can be. And speaking of funny, I was watching Rick steins seafood odyssey the other day  and its funny that even he would agree with me on the fact that there are some delicious mildly flavored/ mildly spiced Indian curries, so I thought I’ll share the recipe of Palak paneer or Spinach and cottage cheese.

 And since eating healthy is so my thing or should I say not my thing, I always like to remind myself the benefits of eating spinach or popeyes veg which is a super healthy leafy green, rich in iron and vitamins ( Spinach health benifits ) and cottage cheese is a low fat cheese. So not too many calories there! What’s more, it’s incredibly delicious.

  One thing I love to do when I boil the spinach (if you have seen Hara Bhara Kebab recipe) is transfer it to ice cold water, this helps it firm up. This recipe is more like what you would find in restaurants and has oil, butter and cream in minimal quantities, I am not saying eat this everyday but whenever you do it should taste rich and creamy.  


Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Spinach 200 g
Cottage cheese/ Paneer   225 g or less
Onion (small, finely sliced or chopped) – 1(optional)
Garlic, finely chopped- 5 cloves
Green chilly, finely chopped- 1 (optional)
Cumin seeds- ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Chilly Powder- ½ tsp
Amchur/dry mango powder- ½ tsp
Garam Masala-  ½ tsp
Butter – 1 tbsp.
Cream- 1-2 tsp for garnish.
Oil- 2 tbsp.  And more for shallow frying.
Salt to taste

Method:
Cut the Paneer in equal size cubes, sprinkle a pinch of salt and chilly powder and mix, shallow fry (or deep fry if you like) and soak it in water few minutes, drain and leave aside.
Paneer Prep
Cut and season paneer, fry and soak.

Add spinach to a pan of boiling water, boil for 15 minutes or just till it goes mushy. Drain and transfer to ice cold water, drain again.
In a sauce pan, add about 2 tbsp. of oil sauté garlic, green chilly and spinach to infuse the garlic flavor into the spinach.
Palak/ Spinach
Palak, boiled, drained and sautéed with garlic


In a blender, puree the spinach and garlic mixture to a fine paste.
Pureed Spinach
Pureed Spinach

In a pan, add a tsp of oil, add cumin seeds allow spluttering and sauté onions( and cook till mushy consistency) add a pinch of turmeric powder, chilly powder, dry mango powder and salt to taste.
 Add paneer, pureed spinach, sauté and add water for desired consistency (about a cup),cook for a few minutes stir in butter.
cook onions, paneer and pureed Spinach
Cook onions, paneer and pureed Spinach


Garnish with  cream and serve with  Rice or Phulka!
 
Palak Paneer
Palak Paneer


Tip:

Shallow frying the paneer, makes the paneer tough and so soaking it in water softens it.

Leave me a comment if you like this recipe and for latest updates like us on Facebook!











Thursday, 13 February 2014

How to cook Basmati Rice

How to cook Basmati Rice

How to make basmati rice
Basmati/ Long grain rice

Basmati rice / long grain rice is served with many Indian curries and can be cooked in many different ways (rice cooker, pressure cooker, micro wave, etc.). I use drain method to cook my basmati rice as I like my rice grains separated which makes it look beautiful and taste great.

Rice is an integral part of my diet, and without rice my meal would be incomplete. There are so many ways to eat rice; it can be as simple as plain rice, as delicious as biryani and as easy as khichdi (which by the way I call Indian risotto ;)).

The key to making rice perfect is soaking it for at least 15 to 30 minutes and cooking it in the rice proportion of water. And the right proportion of water may vary depending on the variety of your rice. So here’s a method that is pretty much a universal and should work for any variety of basmati rice. What makes basmati rice different from other types of rice is that it’s less starchy, and so less sticky.

Everybody asks me how you make your rice and so here it is….


Serves: 2

Ingredients:
1 cup Basmati rice
Oil 1 tbsp. (optional)
Water for soaking 2 cups
Water for cooking 1.5 to 2 l
Salt to taste.

Method:
       Wash the rice with cold water and drain, thrice and soak for at least 30 min ( there is no right  amount of water and you don’t need to measure it but let’s say, for 1 cup of rice soak it in 2 cups of water)

soak rice

     In a cooking pot bring 1.5 t 2l of water to boil (leaving enough room at the top of the sauce pan to avoid spillage, using a kettle is a lot easier just transfer the water to the pan) add salt and a tbsp. of oil.

Drained rice

       Drain the rice, add drained rice to the pot of boiling water in about a minute or two the rice would come up ( almost like its dancing). Cook for 7 to 8 minutes.

rice coming to a boil

        Use a spoon to check if the rice is cooked ( cooked rice will look puffed up and shouldn’t be raw in taste, some of you might already know thatJ)

Cooked rice

       Once cooked, drain the rice and serve it or transfer to a bowl and keep covered until ready to serve.

 
How to Make Basmati/ long grain rice
How to Make Basmati/ long grain rice
Tips:
Cooking time may vary depending on the time you soaked it, the longer you soak lesser the time to cook.
Adding oil to the boiling water keeps the rice fresh for a longer time.
Once cooked, leave the rice covered.
You can make endless variations to this rice by adding your choice of flavors.




Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Sindhi Kadi / vegetable curry

Sindhi kadi

Sindhi kadi with Rice

  A healthy and scrumptious vegetable curry made with gram flour/besan and of course a Sindhi delicacy hence the name, Sindhi kadi with rice is my idea of ultimate comfort food.

Yes comfort food for me, but my brother  would never agree to this as he  never eats veggies and every time mom made this for dinner would start complaining and cringing and say things like couldn’t you clean the fridge some other day (you will see why, a lot of  veggies  go in this dish).   If you are like him and hate veggies, I should warn you, that you still might like this dish ;) 

  In this country vegetables are always eaten as a side, something I cannot relate to as vegetables are eaten as a main in most Indian dishes and why not if you get all your carbs, protein sorted in one dish.  

With this dish, your 5 a day is sorted and the gram flour is rich in protein, I can’t think of anything tastier and healthier at the same time
So if you’re looking for a comforting, delicious and healthy vegetarian curry here’s what you will need….

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Methi /Fenugreek seeds ½ tsp
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Mustard seeds ½ tsp
Curry leaves 3-4
Besan- ½ cup
Oil- ½ cup
Tamarind pulp- 1tsp
Kokum- 3 to 4
Chilly powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric- ½ tsp
Potatoes (diced) – 2  
Okra/ bhindi (tops and tails removed) -4
Cauliflower – 4 to 5 florets
Green Beans( tops and tails cut)- 5 to 6
Green pepper (diced) - 1
Carrot (diced) - 1
tomato ( diced)-1
Peas- 1 tbsp.


Method:
  1. In a pressure cooker or a sauce pan, heat half cup of oil, to it add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves.
  2. Add the besan/ gram flour and sauté on medium to high heat till turns reddish brown.
  3. Add water (I added 500 ml, you could add more if you don’t like it thick) and the chilly powder, turmeric and salt to taste.
  4. Add the vegetables, tamarind paste and kokum, pressure cook only for one whistle(If you are not using a pressure cooker, just cook till the oil begins to separate , we don’t want the veggies to be over cooked). Turn of the heat move away from the stove and rest for ten minutes before removing the lid.
  5. Once you open the lid, check seasoning, and if you would like it dilute add some water and boil it. If you are not using a pressure cooker, just cook till the oil begins to separate.
  6. Serve with Rice .



Vegetable curry


I hope you enjoyed it, what is your favorite comfort food.
Sindhi kadi with Rice
Sindhi kadi with Rice!




Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Quick Cleaning tip- How to clean a Fridge door seal


 How to clean a Fridge door seal


  I keep procrastinating a few things that I have never wanted to do, one of it is cleaning the fridge and freezer mostly because it’s always full and its such painful task of  removing things cleaning and putting it back. However, you still have to do it and one way I have learnt to tackle this is to clean it in parts rather than all in one go, that is when I discovered one of the most important yet most ignored part of the fridge….the fridge door seal.
The fridge door seal, is the part that seals or locks the door perfectly as well as the place where tiny bits of foods  and moisture from the fridge can get stuck, which can in long run look black and moldy.  
And a very simple way to treat this, it’s so simple and once you have cleaned it, it would last for a long time.

So here’s what you need to clean the fridge door seal,

Old tooth brush
A cheap white (non-gel) tooth paste.



Fridge door seal

Cleaning fridge door seal with tootpaste

Clean Fridge door seal


Scrub the toothpaste using the tooth brush on the door seal, then wipe it off with a wet towel and there you have it a clean fridge door. This should not take more than 5 minutes, how easy is that!


If you have a really easy and quick way or any tip to clean a fridge please share it with me J