Friday, 22 March 2019

Hot milk-coffee cake

Recipe adapted from here
Eggs- 2 large
Demerara sugar- 1 cup
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Plain flour- 1 cup + 2 tbsp
Baking powder- 1 tsp (slightly heaped)
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Milk- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp
Unsalted butter- 5 tbsp
Instant coffee powder- 2 tsp

Beat the eggs on medium-high speed for about 3 to 5 minutes, either using your hand held mixer or using the whisk attachment of a free standing mixer.
Once the eggs turn light yellow and thick, add the sugar bit by bit till the mixture is light and fluffy, it should take another 4 to 5 minutes to get to this stage. Dont skip this bit, it really does make a difference to how to cake turns out.
I turned my free standing mixer on and by the time the eggs were done, i got the other ingredients ready.

Preheat oven to 170C and grease and line an 8 inch cake tin.
Mix together the plain flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Keep aside.
Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan along with the coffee powder, just until all the butter melts. Keep aside.
Once the eggs reach its thick consistency, reduce speed to low and add the flour and mix until smooth without any visible traces of flour combined. 
With the mixer still on low speed, gradually add the hot milk to the batter and beat until well combined.
Pour into the cake tin and bake for 40 minutes or till a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. (mine was done in 42 minutes).
Place on a cooling rack and once completely cool. store at room temperature in an air tight container.
Notes: You can replace demerara with granulated sugar
You can also use a square cake tin for this cake (in fact i think it would be a better option). If so, i would say reduce the cooking time to about 30-35 minutes.
If you dont add the instant coffee, you get yourself a good ol fashioned hot milk cake.
Here's the recipe for my coffee walnut cake 

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Creamy fudge frosting

Recipe adapted from here (can frost a 4 layer, 8 inch cake*)
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The consistency of this frosting is just too good. The use of sour cream not only gives it a really nice creamy texture, but also a slight cream cheese-ish taste.

Unsalted butter- 250 gms, softened at room temperature
Icing sugar- 100 gms
Dark cocoa powder- 45gms
Hot water- 1/4 cup
Sour cream- 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Salt- a pinch
Dark chocolate chips/bar- 140 gms, melted (if its bar, chopped and then melted) 
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Into the bowl of a free standing mixer with paddle attachment, add the soft butter and beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, around 4 to 5 minutes.
Sift/ mix the cocoa powder and icing sugar into the butter and on low speed give a quick mix.
Keep speed on low and pour in the water, sour cream, vanilla and salt and beat until they come together. The mix may look a bit suspicious at this point with the hot water and such, but don't be alarmed.
Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes.
Finally add the melted chocolate and beat on medium for about 2 to 3 minutes until you get a smooth glossy mix.
Transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
You can also transfer to freezer bags and freeze till ready to use.
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Notes: * I didn't fill the cake with this frosting and had about a cup leftover after i frosted a 4 layer 8 inch cake. I could stretch it and do a thin filling with the 1 cup
Double the recipe to fill and frost a 4 inch cake generously
If the frosting looks too thick, you can thin it out a wee but with a tbsp or so of milk.
The frosting hardens a bit in the fridge, so take it out about half hour before frosting and it becomes easier to frost.
To defrost take it out of the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature. Then using a hand held whisk or electric whisk, whip up the frosting to glossy consistency and then use as desired.
The frosted cake tastes best at room temperature, so take it out and keep about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes before serving.
Use coffee or hazelnut or even cinnamon as other extract options

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Indian grilled lamb chops

Recipe adapted from here
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Lamb chops/ cutlets- 1/2 kg (around 6 of them)

Marinade
Greek yoghurt- 2 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tsp
Chilli powder (spicy variety)- 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp
Tomato paste/puree- 1 tsp
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Salt- to taste

Butter- 1/2 tbsp, melted, to baste

Wash and pat dry the lamb chops.
Trim off as much of the fat possible (refer notes)
Flatten the chops with a mallet, or use your knife to hammer the meat (with the sharp side) so you create incisions on the meat but it doesn't cut through. Do rapid movements like you are using a mallet. This helps with making the meat tender. If you cant figure any of these, use your palm to flatten the meat.
Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and rub all over the lamb chops.
Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hrs. Overnight is best.
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When ready to cook, preheat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with heavy duty silver foil.
Brush a bit of the butter on the foil and arrange the lamb chops without touching each other.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Take the tray out, and baste with melted butter.
Change the oven setting to broil/grill mode on the highest setting. Mine is at 250C. Wait for the oven to preheat to the setting.
Place the tray right under the grill for 3 to 4 minutes.
Take the tray out, flip the chops, baste with melted butter and place back under the grill for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove and keep aside for about 5 minutes before you serve. 

Notes: If you get the lamb cutlets from the supermarket then it will usually have a layer of fat, try and take that off. However, from the Indian butchers, you will most probably get them without the fat. 
The grilling time depends on the grill power. If its a low power one, then grill for another 3 to 4 minutes. The chops need to have a charred effect and must also be cooked through. That said, be careful to not burn them.
The chops go really well with Mint coriander chutney.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Tawa fried prawns

Serves 2 as a side dish
IMG_20190203_124030 
Raw prawns- 250 gms
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Ground pepper- 1/4 tsp
Ginger garlic paste- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste

Coconut oil- 1 tbsp
Curry leaves- a generous amount

Wash and clean the prawns if required and then pat dry. You need to make sure they are dry or else the masala is not going to stick to it.
Make a paste with all the masalas using a wee bit of water. The mix shouldnt be watery. Add a 1/4 tsp at a time until you get a thick paste.
Rub this mix onto the prawns as evenly as possible. You can marinate it for a bit but i didnt have time so used it immediately.
Heat coconut oil in a tawa (a flat pan, like a pancake pan or dosa pan. If its cast iron even better) on almost high heat and place the prawns in one layer.
Cook for about 2 minutes or so and then flip the prawns and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. If the prawns ooze out a lot of water, then increase heat to high and evaporate the water. If there is water then the prawns end up steaming in them rather than frying.
Once the water has evaporated throw in a handful of fresh curry leaves and mix it with the prawns. If at this point you feel the pan needs a bit more oil, add a dash.
Roast for a few more minutes till they start to brown, but dont cook for too long or the prawns will turn rubbery.
Squeeze some lime juice if you like, and serve hot.

Notes: Its only mildly spicy, so increase the chilli powder and pepper powder.
Coconut oil gives it a distinct (in a good way) taste, if not that then ghee, then butter and then vegetable oil :)
If you are doubling the recipe, then fry the prawn in batches and avoid over crowding the tawa. Prawns should be in one layer.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Kerala fish biryani

Recipe adapted from here
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Fish- 500 gms (any firm, fleshy fish like salmon, tilapia can be used, but ideally King fish, which is what I've used)

To marinate
Kashmiri chilli powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice- 1/2 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- enough to shallow fry the fish

For fish masala
Ghee- 1 tbsp
Oil- 1 tbsp (use leftover oil from frying the fish)
Onions- 3 medium, thinly sliced
Ginger- 1 large piece, around 1/2 tbsp
Garlic- 6 to 8 pods
Green chillies- 2 to 3 (increase as per heat level)
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tsp
Freshly ground black pepper- 1/2 tsp
Tomato- 1 1/2 finely chopped (if they are small use two, mine was pretty big)
Coriander leaves- 1/2 cup 
Mint leaves- 1/4 cup 
Yoghurt- 1 1/2 tbsp
Thick coconut milk- 1/4 cup (this is purely optional, i love the coconut milk taste)
Warm water-  3/4th cup
Salt- to taste

For the rice
Basmati rice- 2 1/2 cups
Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
Cardamom- 4 pods
Cloves- 4
Bay leaf- 1
Ghee- 1 tsp
Lemon juice- 1 tbsp
Water- enough to cook the rice
Salt- generously

To layer
Cashew nuts- a handful
Onion- 1 small, thinly sliced
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp
Mint leaves- 1 tbsp
Ghee- 2 tbsp + enough to fry the cashew and onion
Coconut milk- 5 tbsp
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Cut the fish into relatively large slices and wash and clean with salt and vinegar to remove some of the smell.
Marinate with all the ingredients under the marinate section and keep aside for about 20 minutes.
Also wash the rice and soak in water for around 20 minutes.
Crush the ginger, garlic and green chillies in a blender or using a pestle and mortar.
Heat some ghee in a shallow pan and fry the cashew nuts first till golden brown followed by the onions, also to a golden brown and drain on to paper towels. Be careful to not burn them. (I used red onions which is why they look almost black, but they are not burnt :)
Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the fish, in batches if needed. You dont need to completely cook the fish, just crisp them on the outside. Drain on to paper towel and keep aside.

Heat ghee and some of the oil from frying the fish in a large pan.
Saute the onions with a little bit of salt, till they turn light golden. Make sure you cook the onions properly or they will turn the curry sweet.
Add the crushed ginger garlic chilli paste and cook till the raw smell disappears.
In goes the turmeric, chilli, garam masala, pepper powder and salt. Cook them for a couple of minutes and add a dash of water if you feel the masala is dry.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup water and cook it covered till the oil slightly starts to appear around the edges. 
in goes the coriander and mint leaves, mix well.
Add the yoghurt and mix it all well.
Add the coconut milk and around 1/2 cup water and mix very well. Check salt and add if needed.
Slowly add the fish pieces and cover with the masala as carefully as possible without breaking the fish. Add a bit more water if you feel that the masala is too thick.
Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes uncovered, till the gravy has thickened and the fish pieces are smothered all over the fish.
Keep this masala aside while you sort out the rice.

While the fish is cooking in the masala, put enough water to boil along with the whole spices.
The pot used should be big enough and water quantity quite a bit.
Add salt in such a way that the water tastes salty, only then will the rice taste nice.
Once the water comes to a rolling boil, pour in the lemon juice and then carefully add the drained rice into it. Mix well.
Now this is the tricky part- cooking the rice till its only 3/4th done.
With the basmati rice i used, i got to this stage at 8 minutes. Do not over cook the rice and then it turns into a mushy biryani.
Add the ghee and give a good stir and then drain.
What i did was instead of draining it into the colander, i used a sieve to scoop the rice out of the water and put into the colander so there wasnt a lot of water that needed to be drained as i was time constrained.

Assembly:
Generously grease a large pan with ghee, up the sides as well and place a layer of the fish and masala (as even as possible).
Top with half the rice, again as evenly as possible and sprinkle half of the coconut milk on the rice.
Sprinkle half the mint and coriander leaves and the fried cashew and onion over the rice and finally drizzle half the ghee as well.
Top with the remaining fish and masala followed by rice layer with all the leftover toppings.
Cover with foil and close with a tight fitting lid.
You can either do the usual dum process on the stove top for about 20-25 minutes on low heat or do it in the oven, which is what i did, at 180c for 25 minutes. (While the rice is draining, you can preheat the oven)
Once done, keep to slightly cool for about 10 minutes and then dig in.

Notes: I made the fish masala the previous day and that made life so much easier. I also felt that the masalas were caught on to the fish much better.
I used my Le Creuset for the entire process and it was a breeze, it went from stove top to oven to table t refrigerator.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Broccoli-egg thoran

Serves 4 as part of side dish

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Minced broccoli- 300gms 

Garlic- 2 pods
Red chilli flakes- 1 tsp

Coconut oil- 2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Dried red chilli- 2
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs + 4 leaves
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Desiccated coconut- 1/3rd cup
Eggs- 3
Salt- to taste

Into a food processor add broccoli florets and mince to resemble coarse bread crumbs. If you dont have a processor you can either grate the florets using a grater or chop them up really fine using a knife.
Crush together the garlic and chilli flakes using a pestle and mortar to a coarse mix. You can adjust the chilli as per your tolerance level.

Heat coconut oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds followed by dried red chilli and curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds and tip in the minced broccoli.
Stir well for a couple of minutes and then add the turmeric powder, cumin powder, crushed chilli-garlic and salt and cook covered on medium heat till the raw smell of the garlic disappears.
Open the lid and stir in the desiccated coconut, continue cooking for a few minutes till all the moisture has evaporated and the broccoli is cooked. (the broccoli mince doesnt take too long to cook)
Increase heat, separate the broccoli a bit to make a well in the centre of the pan and add in the eggs and scramble well, scraping the base to remove all the egg thats stuck to the bottom if any.
Mix well with the broccoli, add more salt if needed and finally sprinkle 3-4 curry leaves on top and drizzle the 1 tsp coconut oil on top, mix well and cover with lid. 
Remove from heat and keep aside for about 5 minutes and then serve with rice or chapathi.

Notes: We get ready made broccoli mince called broccoli rice. So i just used that.
You can do the same with cauliflower as well.
If its a small pan you are using then scramble the eggs one after the other instead of adding all three and then scrambling.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Special vegetable pulao

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Basmati rice- 1 1/2 cups

Baby corn- 1/4 cup, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
Carrot- 1/4 cup, peeled and cut into small cubes
Bell pepper- half of a medium pepper, chopped into small cubes
Green peas- 1/4 cup (I used frozen ones)

Ghee- 2 tbsp
Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
Cardamom- 2 pods
Cloves- 2
Bay leaf- 1
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste- 1 tsp
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/4 tsp
Soup cube- 1/2 of one cube (you can use chicken, beef or vegetable cube)
Kasoori methi- 1/2 tbsp
Milk- 2 tbsp (use cream for a richer taste or just use water as well)
Salt- to taste
Boiling water- 3 1/4 cups
Lemon juice- 1/2 tbsp
Coriander leaves- to garnish
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Rinse the rice well and soak till you slice and cook the vegetables.

In a wide pan, large enough to hold 3 cups of water, melt ghee and throw in all the whole spices-cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf and cumin seeds.
Once they splutter a bit and the aroma comes through, add the ginger garlic paste and saute continuously till the raw smell disappears. Keep heat on medium and make sure the paste doesnt burn.
Tip in all the vegetables, garam masala, pepper and salt and cook on high for a couple of minutes, till the vegetables have slightly wilted.
Sprinkle the soup cube and kasoori methi and give a good mix.
Add the milk and scrape the bottom of the pan and loosen all thats stuck to the base.
Cover and cook till the vegetables are about 1/2 done.
Drain the rice and add to the pan. carefully mix with the vegetables.
Pour in the boiling water, lemon juice and enough salt (the salt should be standing forward when you do the taste test and only then will your rice be perfectly seasoned) and mix well.
Increase heat to maximum, cover the pan, and let the mix come to a boil. Let it boil for about 3 minutes.
Open lid, give a good stir, close and then reduce heat to low.
Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or till all the water has been absorbed.
Once the time is up, using a fork, check that there is no water at the base.
Sprinkle the coriander leaves and drizzle about half tsp ghee over the top and cover and leave aside for about 1/2 hr.
When ready to serve fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

Notes: You can use any vegetable of choice. Just make sure they amount to about 1 cup in total for that quantity of rice. I have previously used beans, cabbage, sweet corn and even paneer.
The pulao has a very distinct taste with the addition of kasoori methi. If you are not a big fan of that taste omit it. 
You can also dilute the soup cube in the 3 cups water and use that to flavour the rice instead of adding it in the beginning. If diluting, then use an entire cube instead of half.