Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Chinese Spring Rolls (lumpia)

My mother in law used to freeze these spring rolls and send it down through various people when we were in Chennai. She is such an expert at making these and I had to ask her for the recipe. Its been over a year since I got the recipe, but it was just a couple of weeks back that I finally got down to making them. 
Since I decided to buy the wrapper, it wasn't that difficult at all and came in handy on those rainy evenings when you wanted to have something hot with your tea.
Thanks mama for the wonderful recipe, it definitely is a keeper.

On another note: How is my new header??? A cousin told me he didn't feel like it was a food blog and to incorporate something on to my header so I spent a whole day figuring out a photo shop like software called GIMP on my comp and this is the best I could come up with. I seriously lost it after a while and just didn't care. There are still so many options I have and it seriously requires patience to go through those numerous tutorial pages and figure out how the darn thing works. So don't be surprised if I keep playing around with the fonts and colours and header once in a while...You haven't navigated to another page or anything...just another of my antics, that's all :)

For the wrapper:
Cornflour- 1 tbsp
All purpose flour/ maida- 2 tbsp
Eggs- 4
Water- 1/4 cup
Salt- to taste

Chicken- 1/2 cup, boiled and shredded. I used chicken breasts
Cabbage- 1 cup minced
Carrot- 1 cup grated
Celery- 1 cup minced
Onion- 1 cup
Soy sauce- 1 tbsp
Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 2 tbsp  + enough to fry
Getting the wrapper ready:
Beat the eggs and mix all the other ingredients into that. (Keep a wee bit aside for the egg wash)
Smear a saucepan with oil and make medium size pancakes.

For the filling:
Fry the onions in oil till translucent and then add all the vegetables, soy sauce and cover and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add salt and pepper, mix well and remove from fire. Keep aside to cool.

Smear the edges with some egg, put the filling in the centre, fold the sides , roll and deep fry in hot oil.
Drain on paper towels and serve with some chilli sauce.
I used store bought spring roll wrapper which was huge and square, rather than circular which the recipe would yield. I had to cut them a bit, but it still was much easier and tasted just the same. This is a pictorial representation of my hard labour. (Please ignore the shabby kitchen).

Notes: The same an be done in a veg version by avoiding the chicken. Use paneer instead.
You can freeze them in zip lock bags for as long as you want.
Baking them is a good idea, but I would have to explore that option another time
I also didn't deep fry it, but shallow fried it, and it was good enough.
Pardon the picture, I had no patience to fancy it after that laborious effort.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Anglo-Indian chicken curry (aka Ooty Club Chicken Curry)

I may be able to make Chicken Cordon Bleu or layer a cake and frost it, but I just cannot make a decent enough chicken curry till today. Laugh all you want, but seriously, the only chicken curry I know is this pressure cooker chicken curry which tastes the same whatever changes I make, or whichever masala I use. I have seem umpteen recipes on all your blogs and always bookmark it, and some I've even tried...but never does it look or taste half as good as how it should be..it just ends up tasting like the pressure cooker curry. So I finally gave up on trying new chicken curry recipes and decided to just stick to what I knew...not to mention how easy it was just mixing together everything in the cooker without washing and cleaning 10 other utensils.
That is when one of Ro's uncles forwarded a mail to him with a recipe for the 'Ooty club chicken curry' and Ro forwarded it to me (probably desperate and thinking I would try a new chicken recipe, at least now). I didn't even bother going through it till last Saturday, when I had guests over, and since I didn't have enough time to research and figure out a new recipe, I decided to use the recipe Ro's uncle had passed on. He adds that this recipe has also appeared in 'Curries & Bugles: A Cookbook of the Raj' by Jennifer Brennan.
I started off with full enthusiasm, and there....the first goof up (which I shall not elaborate), but decided to continue whatsoever. I was sceptical as to how it would turn out, and even more because I had guests over and couldn't just adjust with what I whipped up. The effort and the unnecessary freak out sessions were well paid off with this beautiful curry, which I paired with a carrot and pea pulao, pappad, raita and pickle. Thanks to A uncle, I now have one more chicken curry to add to the list.
Chicken- 1kg, bone in pieces, cleaned and skinned (I used chicken thighs)
Onion- 1 large, peeled and chopped
Coriander leaves- a bunch, washed and chopped (go easy on this)
Garlic- 4 cloves, peeled and chopped
Ginger- 1 inch long piece, peeled and chopped + enough to garnish
Tomatoes- 3 large, peeled and chopped
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Garam masala- 2 tsp
Chilly powder- 1 tsp
Plain curd- 2 tbsp
Coconut milk- 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Lemon juice- 2 tbsp (reduce this to about 1 tbsp or even half)
Oil/ ghee- 2 tbsp
Salt- to taste

Blend together onion, coriander leaves, ginger and garlic to a puree in a blender.
Add turmeric powder, garam masala, chilli powder and salt, mix well.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil/ghee on medium heat and cook the paste, stirring continuously and scraping the bottom of the pan, for about 5 minutes or till the raw smell disappears.
Add the chopped tomatoes and the curds and stir well.
Wait till the oils separate and put in the chicken pieces. Toss it around till they are well coated with the masala...for about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is tender (I took about 15 to 20 minutes)
Uncover the chicken and increase heat as necessary to evaporate any remaining liquid.
Add the coconut milk and lime juice and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring well.
Transfer the curry into a serving bowl and garnish with coriander leaves if using.
Notes: I ended up using quite a bit of coriander leaves for the puree and so it was bitter. I freaked out because of this, but then evened it out with about a half tsp of sugar (I know I'm smart) and it just disappeared.
This is not a very spicy curry, but I guess you can add more chilly powder if you need it hot.
I poured a little water to get a thicker gravy since I didn't have coconut milk. The second time i made it, I replaced coconut milk with single cream and i think it tasted even better
The trick is to cook it till the oils release ..that too on low heat. yup you need patience, but well worth for a kick ass curry.

Sending this to Divya's event 'Show me your Curry'

Monday, 23 August 2010

Sticky date pudding with a kick-ass butterscotch sauce

I had invited some friends over for lunch on Sunday and was in the mood to experiment. A very optimistic me set out researching recipes online (google, I totally love ya) and was soon distracted by the other half with his vacuum cleaning asking me to move from one place to another. Didn't have too much time to go through all my bookmarked recipes and so decided to go ahead with a Chicken curry recipe an uncle of Ro's had passed down, and this sticky date pudding/cake which just took my breath away.
I was a wee bit sceptical about trying out something completely new, especially when I had invited people over, but I braved my way through this one and it turned out to be one of the best desserts I've ever made (if I may say so myself..grin). On a side note, I think I should rename my blog to Clumsy Queen or Calamity Jane or something like that..because I just cant seem to carry out any cooking task without making a mess or causing trouble. The sticky part of the date pudding comes from the butterscotch sauce which I ended up with in my hair and the pictures I clicked caused such a mess, lets just say it was a 'sticky affair.'

I halved the recipe because I wasn't too sure about the outcome and was almost prepared to run to Sainsbury's to buy dessert if this one hadn't turned out nice. I made them in muffin cases because it was easier to do individual servings and made them a day in advance. The butterscotch sauce was made on the same day I had people over. Without further rambling, lets take a peek at this delectable Australian dessert

Sticky Date Cake 
De-seeded dry dates- 135 gms
Water- 156ml
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Butter- 30 gms
Egg- 1
Good quality vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Self- raising flour- 94 gms
Firmly packed dark brown sugar- 75 gms

Slice the dates into smaller chunks and place in a saucepan with water, over high heat.
When it comes to a boil, add the baking soda and butter and remove from heat.
Stir and set it aside to cool lightly. In this time the butter will melt. Stir again in between if necessary.
In the mean time, mix together the self raising flour and brown sugar making sure there are no lumps.
When the date mixture has lightly cooled, use a potato masher or the back of a fork to break up the mix or even better use a food processor and pulse a few times to get a chunky mix. It is OK to have a few bite size chunks remaining. Its a pleasure to bite into those.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat till well mixed.
Add this date mixture to the flour and sugar mix and fold the ingredients together until just combined and you don't see traces of flour.
Place 6 muffin cases in a muffin pan and pour the batter till 3/4th full.
Place in the middle rack of an oven preheated at 180C and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till a tooth pick comes out clean.
Take the muffin tray out and let it cool for 5 minutes before transferring it on to a wire rack. 
Store in a cool dry place or in an air tight container, if making it a day ahead. I left it in the oven itself overnight and it was just fine. But do this, only if its made a day in advance.

Butterscotch Sauce (BBC good food)
Double cream- 3.25 oz/ 93 ml
Firmly packed brown sugar- 83 gms
Butter- 75 gms
Vanilla extract- 1/4 tsp
Lime juice- 1 tsp (optional)

Mix all these ingredients together in a saucepan and place over medium heat, mixing well till its all melted and then stirring continuously on low heat, till the sauce thickens.
Keep aside to cool lightly and if the sauce thickens before serving, place it back on fire and heat till it becomes a bit loose.

Place all the muffins in a deep dish and using a skewer or toothpick pierce them in a few places, right to the bottom.
Pour the warm butterscotch sauce over the pudding making sure they seep right through the holes to the bottom making it super duper moist.
Serve with vanilla ice cream drizzled with the remaining butterscotch sauce.
Notes: You can make the cake in a 9 inch pan instead of muffin cases.
I say cake because I omitted the assembling bit. I thought it would be a little too strong with the butterscotch sauce in the pudding. So what I did was, drip the butterscotch sauce over the muffins and then lightly heated it in the microwave for about 5 seconds just before serving. Also added a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with the sauce as an added treat.
You can refrigerate the left over sauce in an air tight container. I absolutely loved the sauce in spite of it taking a wee bit longer than expected. It is perfect to drizzle on cakes, cookies and ice creams.
The recipe and procedure might seem long, but trust me, it is one of the most easiest and yummiest desserts to make.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Friday night dinner for two: deviled eggs & hasselback potatoes

First of all, here's wishing everyone a Happy Onam. Strange as it sounds...I am now coming to terms with the fact that I will not be able to celebrate certain festivals here with family, miss weddings and get togethers and instead of fretting about it, I have learned to let go. Onam is one such occasion and I am shamelessly pleased to announce that I would be heading to an over priced, pretty mediocre mallu restaurant to have what they call 'authentic sadya' tomorrow. So what if its served in plastic plantain leaves and so what if i order a side dish of beef fry to go with it, I am sure it would bring that wee element of Onam to my mind. On a side note...I am completely J of all you creative women who are preparing awesome full fledged sadya's at home and have people over..sigh! Have fun, nonetheless.
So coming back to the recipe, I am always in the mood to experiment on Friday nights and most of what I try comes out pretty decent (maybe cos its the beginning of two days of not cooking). This Friday was no exception. We had deviled eggs, hasselback potatoes and a fish roast for dinner. Strange combo, you'd think. It was excellent, especially the potatoes which I think had made it to the 'top 10 list of things I'd like to eat every other day.'

Basil Pesto Deviled Eggs
Eggs- 3, boiled and sliced in halves
Ricotta cheese- 1 tbsp
Garlic mayonnaise- 1 tbsp
Basil pesto- 1/2 tsp
Dry Mustard- a pinch (optional)
Paprika- to taste
Salt and pepper- to taste
Remove the egg yolk from the eggs and mash it up with the rest of the ingredients in another bowl. You should get a paste like consistency.
Now the ideal thing to do would be to scoop this mixture into a pastry bag and pipe your way through on to the egg whites, in which ever pattern you like.
Otherwise, if you are lazy like me, just scoop this mixture with a spoon and shabbily place on the egg white. It tastes the same whatsoever :)
Garnish with dried thyme.
Just be careful while adding salt, because the mayo and pesto might already have some.

Hasselback potatoes (recipe adapted from here)

Potatoes- 2 large, washed and scrubbed well. Skin intact
Garlic cloves- about 2 to 3 per potato, depending on the size of the cloves, peeled and sliced lengthwise.
Butter- a tsp each per potato
Thyme- to taste
Salt and pepper- to taste
Olive oil- to brush
Slice each potato breadth wise, carefully, making sure you don't slice it all the way through to the bottom.
Slide the thin cut garlic slices into each groove, again carefully, making sure the potato doesn't snap in between.
Place the potatoes on a pan lined with silver foil and generously grease brush with olive oil.
Sprinkle salt, pepper and thyme, place a tsp butter on each potato and bake in an oven preheated at 180C for an hour or till the potato is cooked through.

Notes: My potatoes took about 1.30hrs to bake and i kept taking it out every 20 to 25 minutes and brushing with more olive oil. Towards the end, the last 20 minutes, I turned the potato and cooked it that way for a while, just to even it out
You can use any herb of your choice for the seasoning.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Apricot- vanilla Cake

Its been a while since I baked a cake and I terribly miss it. We have been gorging on fresh fruit as dessert since summer started and suddenly two days back, I realized I hadn't baked in a while and was craving some nice upside down cake. Had some canned apricots and strangely all the ingredients for a plain vanilla cake. Ro was playing badminton that night and I knew he'd be late, so I decided to go ahead and bake instead of making dinner (which was leftover mince meat and chapathi). 
I am such a sucker for vanilla or rather plain cakes, that I was floored with the first bite I took. The apricots added that grandeur to an otherwise plain cake and half way through I decided I didn't want to do an upside down cake, but just incorporate the apricots into the cake. Keep it for one more day, and I'd say it tasted even better.

Recipe halved from here
Plain flour- 1 cup + 1 tbsp
Self raising flour- 1 1/4 cups 
Baking powder- 1 1/4 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Sugar- 1 cup
Butter- 1/2 cup
Eggs- 2
Vanilla extract- 2 tsp
Evaporated milk- 1/2 cup

Canned apricots- 400 gms
Sift together all the dry ingredients- both the flour, baking powder and salt. Keep aside.
In a mixer with paddle attachment or with a hand beater, cream together till fluffy the sugar and butter.
Add the eggs one after the other, beating well after each addition.
Pour in the vanilla extract and then fold in dry ingredients, alternating with the evaporated milk making sure you start and end with the dry ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 160C, butter and line a 9" square spring form pan with baking paper.
Pour the cake batter into the pan and line the apricot halves hollow side down in whichever way you fancy.
Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or till the skewer test comes out positive.
Let it stay in the pan for about 5 minutes, before turning it out onto a cooling rack.
Dab some cream or ice cream and serve with a smile.
Notes: I halved the recipe, you can double it and make a layer cake, adding the apricots sliced and mixed with the cream frosting.
You can skip the salt and baking powder if using self raising flour. The original recipe calls for cake flour.
The cake was super duper soft and yumm is all i can say.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Wilted spinach and mince meat- ideal for bakes and wraps

I made this today thinking I'd add it to my pasta bake and then half way through changed my mind because of sheer laziness. Had it with roti, curd and pickle instead, and not complaining one bit. The recipe however makes a common appearance in my bakes and wraps and I thought it should be mentioned in my blog, even though it isn't the most unique of recipes.
If its a veggies bake, I add all sorts of other veggies like cauli, broc, carrots and peas and then pour white sauce over it, bake it and then sprinkle some cheese on top and grill for a few minutes. It is one of my favourite bakes and I can vouch it will never let you down, if you have the white sauce consistency   right :)
On the other hand, if its  a pasta dish I fancy, I just toss it in with the cooked pasta, sprinkle some parmesan cheese and it makes a delicious dinner.
For a wrap, heat a large tortilla wrap for 3 secs in the microwave, arrange the mince meat on it, generously sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top, roll it up, slice it in half and you are ready to go. Ro's favourite lunch time snack.

Lean steak mince- 500 gms
Chilly powder- 1 tsp
Pepper powder- 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Meat masala- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt- to taste

Baby spinach- 4 cups, washed

Mix all these ingredients along with the mince meat and cook in a pressure cooker for about 15 to 20 minutes, or for about 2 whistles on medium heat. Add about 1/4 cup water if needed. The cooking and water required depends on the meat, so do accordingly.
Once the pressure has gone, open lid and transfer the contents into a saucepan set on medium heat.
You can add salt, spice etc at this level if not enough.
The gravy should reduce to about 1/4 cup and at that time add the washed spinach. Mix well till it wilts a bit. 
When it becomes a semi dry form, maximum 5 minutes, take it off the flame and set aside to cool.
You can store it in zip lock bags and place in the freezer for up to a week or so and use bit by bit in bakes, wraps, sandwiches etc.
Notes: If you want to add more Indian masalas, you can do so. I usually prefer to keep it just chilli powder and pepper powder since i use it for bakes.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Lavender- two ways

We went to a lavender farm in Surrey last Saturday and I cant even begin to explain how incredibly beautiful it was. It started raining just when we got there, and that kinda added to the whole beauty of the place. Set in a typical English countryside, Mayfiled Lavender field is a charming 25 acre lavender field and is in full bloom from mid June and is harvested by August. My obsession with lavender got me interested in the whole thing, and was thrilled to find one right here in London. Took pictures after pictures and I still wasn't satisfied. Ro had to drag me outta that place ultimately. Had a cuppa tea in their lovely lil cafe, grabbed a big bunch of lavender and headed back home smelling of lavender. Here are some pics for you to enjoy.

Come today, and I had to do something with the lavender bunch, soon. Separated the bunch, and I'm thinking of using one for some potpourri and the other for cooking. Haven't decided what to cook with it as yet, but this is what i came up with today.

Lavender sugar
This is a brilliant way to store these lavender babies. It can be then used in cakes, cookies, drinks or just sprinkled on fruit.

Granulated sugar- 1 cup
Dried lavender flower heads- 1/2 tbsp
In a pestle and mortar, finely grind the lavender with about 1/2 tbsp of sugar. 
Transfer to a bowl and stir in the rest of the sugar.
Store in a jar with a tight lid and let it stand for three days, before you use it.

Lime- Lavender cooler (makes about 3 cups)
The lavender tea was so soothing, that I decided to try a cooler this time, and yes, we both loved it thoroughly. 

Lemon juice- 1/4th cup
Lime juice- 1/4 cup
Sugar- 6 to 8 tsp (or to taste)
Lavender flower heads- one hand full
Hot water- 2 1/2 cups
Salt- to taste
Ice cubes- as required
Place the lavender flower heads in a heat resistant bowl and pour the hot water into it. Let it steep for about 10 minutes, then strain out the lavender and discard.
Mix the sugar into the hot lavender water and mix till dissolved. 
Once lightly cool, add the lemon juice and lime juice and mix well. Add some salt for that extra twang.
Pour into a pitcher filled with ice and chill further in the refrigerator, if required.
Otherwise, pour into serving glasses, garnish with a lemon wedge and serve cold.
I also tried using the lavender sugar to make this cooler and it came out beautiful. 

While I was moving the bunch around, some fell on the floor. I got a call after that and so didnt clean it up immediately. The sun played hide and seek for a while in the afternoon, and this kinda caught my attention. I had to click a pic :)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Chunky, chewy oatmeal cookies

I made apple crisps about a week back and it wasn't that much of a hit. Well, for one, I think I bought the wrong oats. And two, both Ro and myself hate oats and making something involving oats wasn't that great an idea. Ro didn't even touch it after I broke off a piece of nicely browned oats and stuffed it into his mouth. I'm now wondering if I should have told him at all it was oats, cos maybe he would have had it if it wasn't for that mental block.
I had loads left over from that episode and just couldn't get myself to throw off the rest. After Shabs posted a status message on FB saying she is going to bake some cookies, there arose an idea to make oatmeal cookies. Checked out loads of recipes, all of which required loads of oats even after halving them and other ingredients which I didn't have at hand. Finally adapted a Martha Stewart recipe which came out beautiful. It had just begun to rain when I put them into the oven and as soon as they were done, I popped quite a few into my mouth while it was still warm. Ro also happily ate a few after he got back home from badminton and he had no clue there were oats in them (evil laugh). 
I halved the recipe and in spite of that I got about 35 medium sized cookies. I am now wondering what to do with so many. I guess I'll just have to get off my anti- social butt and give some to my neighbours...
Plain flour- 1/2 cup
Baking powder- 1/2 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Porridge/ rolled oats- 1 1/2 cups
Wholemeal flour- 1/4 cup
Dark brown sugar- 1/2 cup

Caster sugar- 1/2 cup
Butter- 1/4 pound
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Egg- 1 large

Preheat oven to 175C and line a cookie tray with baking paper. Keep 2 more baking sheets ready.
Mix together the plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, oats and wholemeal flour together in a bowl and keep aside.
Combine both the sugar and butter, in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, till light and creamy...probably about 5 to 6 minutes on medium speed.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue mixing on medium speed till well combined
Mix the dry ingredients to the butter mix and on low speed, just enough to combine. About 20 seconds or so.
Scoop out a 1/2 tbsp batter into the baking tray and continue till the tray is full. Make sure you place them about 3 inches apart.
Bake for 18 minutes .
Once done, remove from the oven and wait for about 5 minutes before you move it onto a cooling rack.
Place another baking sheet on the tray and continue the process till all the dough has been used up.
Once cool, store them in air tight containers or zip lock bags. It would stay up to weeks.
Notes: The original recipe uses wheat germ instead of wholemeal flour. 
You can add about 3/4 cup of raisins or chocolate or dried apricots to jazz it up a bit. I loved it just plain
 I am sending this to Sharmi's event 'Lets Munch: Light Tea Time Snacks'

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Borrowed recipes

I am back after a really hectic, but fun weekend down at the coast. Some of you on FB might have already seen the pics. Well the pics haven't done complete justice to how incredibly beautiful Durdle Door was, but something is better than nothing right? Sandbanks in Poole, on the other hand, was a crowded beach but we still splashed around in the water and did some water sports etc. Came back super tanned and now my face is all red and hurting quite a bit.
On the food front, we ate and drank so much that Ro and myself are now living on sandwiches and salads. Until I get back to proper cooking, I'm leaving you with recipes I borrowed from two incredible food bloggers. They both came out so darn beautiful, and would definitely make its way back into our lives. Enjoy!

Cheesecake Truffles
The moment I saw them on Nags' page, I decided I was making it. It turned out so so good that it got over the exact same day is made em. These cute lil things are delicious and easy to make. Do hop on to her blog and check out the recipe. Thanks Nags for this wonderful recipe. Keep em coming :) 
PS: Like she mentioned, I gobbled down the cheesecake quite a bit, before dipping it in chocolate. It was jus yummeeee

Tiramisu Cake
Tiramisu as it is, is a favourite of mine especially after I got my free standing mixer, since whipping egg whites was initially a problem. Now tiramisu is such a make-in-advance dessert, that its made quite a few appearances while entertaining guests. Tiramisu cake, however, was a lil more tedious than what I expected, but the outcome was brilliant. The icing and layering etc. is not really my cuppa tea, and I did lose my patience quite a number of times, but the effort did pay at the end. The recipe has been adapted from the 'Tuesdays with Dorie' series and can be found here.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Kappa (tapioca/ cassava) and prawn curry

I'm pretty excited about this coming weekend. A bunch of us are heading down to the beautiful Jurassic Coast of Dorset to do some trekking and for some hard core fun. I am thoroughly looking forward to it and hoping like mad that the weather hold good. 
In Chennai, I lived about 10 feet away from the beach and couldn't care less about going there frequently.. Now after being in UK for close to 3 years, I'm so beach deprived and I so badly want some sea and sand. So is the way of life I guess. 
This is a recipe I've had in my drafts for ages and thought i should post it before i completely forgot it existed. As usual its an easy peacy no strain recipe i use when I'm really lazy. Enjoy!

King prawns- 250 gms, deveined and cleaned
Onion- 1 large, roughly chopped
Tomato- 2 medium, chopped
Ginger garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Garam masala- 1 tsp (optional)
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- a sprig
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and splutter mustard seeds and add curry leaves. Saute for one to two minutes.
Add the GGP and cook till the raw smell goes.
In goes the onions and tomato and saute till they are cooked and the oil starts separating
Next add all the powders...chilli, coriander, turmeric and garam masala and mix well with the masala. Cook till the raw smell goes.
Add the prawns and mix it with the masala. Make sure it is well coated.
Reduce the heat to medium, close with a lid and cook till the prawns are done..say about 10 minutes max.
Add salt, check spice and take it off the flame.
Serve hot.

I served it with some kappa. The recipe I've adapted from here. It was really yummy.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Lemon- lavender Tea

Against my husbands wishes I went and bought a tiny lavender potted plant and love it to bits. Well I should be spanked for saying that cos most of my love is short lived. We have a total of 6 plants on our balcony of which the basil and parsley are actually struggling to live. The daffodils, blue bells etc etc died after they flowered and id like to think that's how their life cycle works. Our orange plant was such a delight when I picked it up from Borough Market last year. I'd paid quite a bomb for it and promised Ro with all my heart I'd look after it. And now, although its not died on me, I haven't seen an orange grow on it after we plucked the ones that came with it. Ro's constant disturbing question, 'you cant even look after an orange plant, how on earth are you gonna look after a kid.' Grinning from ear to ear wouldn't help, I guess :)
So anyways, purple is my fav colour and I've recently developed this obsession for lavender and have been researching it quite a bit, well more on the level of, where I can go and pick some fresh lavender...lavender farms near London etc. But never on what to do after I did pick some up. So after my lovely lavender baby was perched on the balcony sill, I had to prove to Ro I'd definitely cook with it. I posted a status message on FB asking what to do with lavender..Got a few replies, among which PJ's lavender tea made an impression. Well rather it sounded the easiest:)
Today it was raining cats and dogs and tea was just the thing I wanted. Did some research and figured I could make it without drying the lavender. The tea smelt so darn good and tasted just as I thought it would. Thanks PJ for the suggestion.

Like Joey from F.R.I.E.N.D.S says, 'thats like summer in a bowl,' in my case in a cup..but you get the idea right? 
For one cup tea you would need:
Tea bag- 1 (I used  Whittard traditional English tea bag)
Lavender flowers- 1 tsp (or more if you want a stronger flavour)
Water- 1 large cup
Lemon juice- 1 tsp
Sugar or honey- to taste (optional)
Bring a cup of water to boil and throw in the lavender flowers and the tea bag.
Let it boil for a few seconds and then take it of the flame.
After a minute or so, remove the tea bag, add the lemon juice and sugar/ honey and stir well.
Strain and pour into tea cups.
Another method would be to pour boiling water into a bowl with the lavender and tea bag. Steep for about five minutes.
Add the lemon and sugar and pour into tea cups. 
Serve hot with biscuits.
Notes: I'm definitely gonna try some other variations like basil and lavender, ginger and lavender etc :)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Two for Tuesdays

Well these are two completely unrelated recipes and since they were both stupidly easy, I thought it was pointless separating them into two posts, but had to pen it down for my record.

Asparagus heads wrapped in streaky bacon and grilled
I am completely in love with asparagus. It all started with that asparagus thoran I made and then there was no looking back, Seriously, its just so pretty to photograph and I'm in love with the taste and what all it can do to a simple dish. We had guests over last Sunday and I made a mince meat bake, something like a shepherds pie, but with lots more veggies, garlic bread (thanks to Salisbury's) and then these asparagus heads wrapped in bacon as part of the main course. It was such a hit and the best part... I haven't ever made a dish that is easier than this, but tastes so darn awesome. 

Asparagus heads- 15 to 20
Smoked streaky bacon- 7
Salt and pepper- to season

Preheat oven to 175C and line a baking tray with silver foil or baking paper.
Arrange asparagus heads in sets of three and season with salt and pepper. 
Wrap then up with streaky bacon and place on the baking tray
Grill or bake for 15 minutes, turning it around after about 6 to 7 minutes. 
Drain on paper towels and serve immediately
Foodgawked :)

Notes: The bacon does the whole job of giving it a nice flavour. So there is not much seasoning you need to do. Also watch the salt, cos bacon is really salty.
You can wrap a single long asparagus shoot or do an arrangement of two instead of three.

Beetroot Pachadi (beetroot cooked in a mild coconut and curd gravy)
Yeah I know, what a contrast...well, I'd like to be philosophical and say, 'that's life,' but I'm not that boring, so here's to mallu goodness :)
I hate beetroot and so does Ro..so why did I pick it up, god knows..and that too a whole bunch. So whole of yesterday I spent googling beetroot recipes and was amazed at the number of recipes the www had to offer. I settled for beetroot kichdi and now I have an entire bowl of red stuff staring back at me and I don't know how id finish it and what I'd finish it with. It was pretty alright, taste-wise, but I'm not sure I want to make it a common visitor. Ro is yet to taste it and I can already see him making a face that would make you ask yourself that question, 'remind me again why I married this man!'

Beetroot- 2, medium ones, washed and thinly sliced (I have 3 more left, what do I do with it????)
Green chillies- 3, thinly sliced
Turmeric powder- a pinch
Water- 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Salt- to taste
Shredded coconut- 1/4 cup
Cumin powder- 1/4 tsp
Curd- 4 tbsp

Oil- 1 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek powder- a pinch (optional)
Curry leaves- a sprig
Dry red chillies- 2 or 3 (optional)
Cook the beetroot with the green chillies, turmeric powder, salt and water till done. Drain the water, if any and keep aside to cool. I took about 15 minutes.
In the meantime, grind together the coconut and cumin powder to a paste.
Add the curd to this, mix well and keep aside.
In the same blender, puree the cooked beetroot (I am not sure this step is compulsory, but I didn't want bite size beetroot slices to get in the way) and add to the curd- coconut mix. 
Do a tadka with the oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves, fenugreek powder and red chillies and pour over the  kichdi. Give it a good stir and serve with rice.
I think you can put this mix back on the stove the warm it up a bit, but I didn't bother doing that.
Now you know why I don't make that many mallu dishes, I suck at it!
I still don't know the difference between a pachadi and kichdi..someone please enlighten me.

Edited to add: I changed the heading from Kichdi to Pachadi cos I think I got it mixed up and a lot of you wrote to me saying its more like a pachadi...Also I think I have mixed up the two pachadi-kichdi procedures together...like i said..i suck at making mallu dishes ;)