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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

One of my most favourite dishes that I learnt from my mom over a phone is this, CHICKEN white KURMA...Don't ask me why I call it 'White' Kurma, I have no idea! But that's the actual name it goes by. This south Indian dish is best served with Idiyappam and Idly. The spice for this dish entirely comes from green chilies so be careful not to make it too spicy. This Kurma has a long list of ingredients, but trust me its so easy and quick. 
Ah I don't wanna keep you reading blah blah so let's get cracking right away...

You Will Need: 
Chicken - 1/2 kg
Bay Leaves - 1
Cinnamon - 1
Cardamom - 4
Cloves - 4
Onions - 2 chopped
Whole Green Chilli - 4 
Finely Chopped Mint & Coriander - 2 tbsp
Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp
Tomato - 2 Chopped
Curd - 1 tbsp
Water as required
Oil - 3 tbsp
Salt to taste

Coconut Paste:
Grated Coconut  - 3 tbsp
Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp
Cashew Nuts - 4 
Poppy Seeds - 1 tbsp
Green Chili - 2
Cinnamon - 1
Cloves - 3
Cardamom - 2

The Cooking:

First, grind all the ingredients finely for the coconut paste and keep aside.

I cook this in a pressure cooker which makes it quick. But if you don't have one just heat any cooking pot with 3 tbsp of oil. Once hot toss in the bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Once it starts to crackle  add the chopped onions, whole green chilies and saute till they turn golden brown. Then add the ginger garlic paste and saute on medium heat for a min so that the ginger garlic paste don't stick to the bottom. Add the tomatoes, chopped mint and coriander followed by curd. Saute for 2 - 3 min and tip in chicken. Give it a good stir, add salt, cover and let it cook in this for couple of min on medium heat. 

Now stir in the coconut paste. The Kurma needs to be little thin if you are planning to serve this with idly. But for Idiyappam, the Kurma must be little thick. So, add water according to the consistency you want them to be. And cook covered till the chicken is cooked through and oil separates from the Kurma. If you are cooking this in a pressure cooker, cook for 2 sounds and turn the gas off. 

Finally, garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot. 
Happy Cooking!


Thursday, 24 January 2013

'I'm Popeye the Sailor Man,
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man.
I'm strong to the Finich,
Cause I Eat Me Spinach,
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man...'

Ring any bell??? Yeah that's our Popeye, who we enjoyed watching as a kid. Well I still enjoy watching him. Popeye was the only bait my mom had to make me eat spinach, "Look at Popeye see how strong he gets after eating spinach." Still I kept a fair distance from spinach. No other leafy vegetable has so much of goodness like spinach. Its a great anti - oxdient and anti cancer constituents. Spinach is rich in dietary fiber, iron, vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, 0% fat, low in calorie, its goodness is endless. I just couldn't develop a liking towards it no matter how hard I try. But this one dish is exceptional.

PALAK CHICKEN is an Indian and Pakistani dish, chicken in a thick spinach based gravy. The spinach used in this recipe is a particular type called Palak. You can easily identify it from its large leaves and thin stems.This recipe was passed on to me from my mom. I cook it just the way she taught me. I love this dish because you can't taste the spinach itself in the gravy. Most of the kids don't like spinach. Its always world war III when you make them to eat it. But they will love this Palak dish. 

I must mention this before we go into the recipe, DO NOT REHEAT leftover spinach as it converts nitrates into nitrites and nitrosamines by certain bacteria that live on pre - heated nitrate rich foods like spinach and many other green leafy vegetables. Its poisonous compound maybe harmful to our health, specially for children. 

You Will Need:
Chicken - 500g
Palak Spinach - 1 big bunch (washed, stems cut off and roughly chopped)
Medium Onion - 1 finely chopped
Kasuri Methi - 1 tbsp
Garam Masala - 1 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Milk  - 100 ml
Cream - 2 tbsp
Oil / Ghee as required

Onion paste:
Medium onion - 2 roughly sliced 
Cashew nuts - 6
Green Chilli - 3
Garlic Gloves - 5
Ginger - 2 inch

The Cooking

1. Boil 200 ml of water and blanch the Palak on medium heat for  7-10 min. Drain, run under cold water and squeeze excess water from the spinach and blend them finely. Keep Aside.
2. Heat little oil on a pan and saute the onions, chilli, cashew, ginger and garlic till golden brown. Cool them and grind into nice fine paste.
3. Now on a hot pan, add ghee/oil/butter and saute the finely chopped onions till they turn light brown. Add the onion paste and kasuri methi cook till oil separates.
4. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan and cook the chicken till they brown evenly and are 3/4th cooked.
5. Now add the chicken to the gravy and pour in the milk and cook for another 5 min. This is stage you need to check for the consistency of the gravy. If it is too runny then you need to simmer it few more min.
6. Finally add the garam masala, spinach puree and cream. Cook not more than a min.

Important Pointers:
  • Don't blanch the Palak more than 10 min. It will lose its color.
  • Retain the water strained from the Palak  you can add it while blending the onion paste or you can pour it back in the gravy.
  • When adding kasuri methi crush them between your palms so that they don't hinder when eating. 
  • You can cook the chicken completely in the gravy itself but the flavor of the chicken is so dominating in the end. When you cook it separately, it balances the chicken and spinach flavor well.
  • Cream is totally optional. The milk itself gives the creaminess to any gravy. 
  • Don't cook the Palak for long after you add it to the gravy. It will lose its nice green color and turn a tin brown. 
Happy Cooking!


Monday, 21 January 2013

Pancakes are little A's favorite. And what can be more healthy and delicious other than these fluffy Whole wheat banana pancakes. I really like using very ripe bananas for these since they naturally sweeten the pancakes and you can avoid adding extra sugar. This is something I like to cook on a late morning. Super simple and so good. 

When offering pancakes to babies less than 12 months I would suggest you avoid adding sugar, salt and baking powder. Its not advisable to give salt and sugar to babies less than 12 months and avoiding baking powder will yield flatter pancakes but that fine. 

You Will Need
1 Large Overly ripe banana 
1-1/3 cups of Plain Flour 
1 Cup of Whole Milk 
1/4 Cup of Yogurt
1 Whole eggs 
A tsp of Vanilla extract 
2 tsp Baking powder 
A tsp of Cinnamon powder 
2 tbsp of Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
Chopped Nuts / Choco Chips are Optional Add ons

The Cooking:
In a bowl smash the banana with the back of a fork and add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, yogurt, sugar and cinnamon. Whisk well. Now sift in the flour and baking powder and mix well. Don’t make it into a smooth batter. It should be little lumpy. Beating too much will make heavy pancakes. Heat a griddle or a pan on medium heat until hot. Slightly brush the surface of the pan with butter and gently spoon in the batter. Once small bubbles appear on the edges it’s time to flip the pancake. It takes only a couple of min to cook on medium heat. You can serve them with some fresh fruits, juices or maple syrup drizzled all over them. It’s quick, easy and very filling too.

Recipe Source Here!
Happy Cooking!

LASAGNA…. Plural lasagne is a Greek origin taking its name from the pot it is cooked in,’ Lasanum’ meaning cooking pot in Latin. The word also refers to a dish made with a flat type of pasta with different sauces and baked in the oven. The recipe I have given is a very basic one. One can create endless versions of lasagna like spinach lasagna, seafood lasagna, roasted vegetable lasagna, turkey lasagna, it just keeps going.

An authentic basic lasagna has FOUR major components to make it rich and absolutely delicious.
  1. First the lasagna sheet itself. Traditionally the dough was made with semolina and water in southern Italy and flour and eggs in the northern region where semolina was not available. Now in Italy they use only durum wheat and eggs. The lasagna sheets we get in India had durum wheat and semolina.
  2. Bolognese or meat sauce for pasta originated from Bologna Italy. Its ground meat mostly beef and sausages cooked in a tomato puree and red wine. It’s just a basic sauce and we can create our own versions of it.
  3. Béchamel sauce or white sauce gives that creaminess to lasagna and also it holds each layer together. This sauce is so easy to prepare. Just butter, plain flour, whole milk and seasoning. That’s it. 
  4. Now comes everyone’s favourite. The Cheeessseeeee….Lasagna needs cheese. Without cheese??? No I can’t even imagine it. But you can control the amount of cheese that goes in it.  Traditionally, lasagna has three types of cheese in it - Ricotta, Parmesan and Mozzarella.

So I have made my version of lasagna absolutely simple, ingredients that are always available in your pantry. Remember it’s heavy on the waistline; keep it as once in a month affair.


You Will Need:
A loaf tin 30 cm
5 -6 Lasagna Sheets
Bread crumbs – 2 tbsp
Grated Mozzarella – as much as you want

For Bolognese Sauce:
Ground chicken – 500 g
White onions – 2 large finely chopped
Bell peppers – 1 finely chopped
Tomato Puree – 1 Cup
Chicken Stock – 1 ½ Cup
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Chopped mint and coriander – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 3 tbsp

Béchamel sauce:
Butter – 2 tbsp
Plain flour – 2 tbsp
Whole milk – 1 Cup
Grated Cheddar Cheese – ½ Cup
Oregano – 1 tsp
Pepper – ½ tsp
Salt to taste

The Cooking

Cook the lasagna sheets as per the instructions given on the box.

For the Bolognese sauce, heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. Once hot add the chopped onions and bell peppers and sauté till golden brown. Then add the tomato puree and cook for 5 min. Add the chicken and stir well so that the chicken is fully covered with the sauce. Cook for couple of min and add the chilli powder and salt. Stir again and pour in the chicken stock and cook till the chicken is tender and the sauce comes together nice and thick. This would take around 30 min on a medium heat. Sprinkle the mint, coriander and cumin powder and stir well. It’s ok if your sauce is a bit dry but make sure the chicken has absorbed all the stock.

For the Béchamel sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add the flour and keep whisking vigorously. Keep the heat on low and whisk till the flour has become crumbly and mixed with the butter. Now pour in the milk and keep whisking. The flour will dissolve in the milk and no lumps will be seen. At this stage the sauce will begin to thicken. Add the grated cheese to it and whisk well keeping the heat on low. Sprinkle oregano, salt and pepper and whisk till the sauce has thickened.

How to layer
In the loaf tin put a layer of meat sauce and top it with one lasagna sheet. Now layer that with the white sauce followed by the meat sauce. Again top it with a lasagna sheet. Again layer it with white sauce followed by meat sauce topping it off with a lasagna sheet. Repeat the step till you reach the top of the loaf tin. Add a final layer of lasagna sheet and cover with grated Mozzarella and sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200c for 15 – 20 min or until the top is browned and the cheese has completely melted. 

Important pointers:

  • You can use water replacing chicken stock. The stock enhances the flavor more. 
  • Bread crumbs are optional. I add them as I like a crunchy top. 
  • I made this for two of us. Hence the loaf tin. But if you are making for a large crowd use a large baking dish and double the recipe accordingly. 

Happy Cooking!

Friday, 11 January 2013

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES originated in the United States of America. It gets its name from the semi sweet chocolate chips, the distinguishing ingredient used in the cookie dough. The chocolate chip cookies were developed by Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1930 at the Toll House in Whitman, Massachusetts. Wakefield is said to have been baking chocolate cookies when the baking chocolate ran out. So she substituted broken pieces of semi - sweet chocolate in the dough thinking it would melt and mix while baking.  But they did not and chocolate chip cookies were born. And it has become an all time favorite among all age groups. 

To me cookies are quick bakes. Simple ingredients nothing fancy, easy to follow steps and less baking time too. More importantly the first batch of cookies you bake are always there to munch on while you get on with the next batch ;) This recipe will make two dozen cookies. Of course, it may differ with the size and thickness you want them to be. The first time I baked these I made them a little thin. The second time I made those they were bigger and fatter, I got only 18 from the same quantity of dough. So, its totally up to you.

You Will Need:

Unsalted Butter - 113gms
Flour - 150gms
Caster Sugar - 70gms
Brown Sugar - 85gms
Eggs - 2
Baking Powder - 1 tsp
Vanilla Extract - 1 1/2 tsp
Pinch of salt
Semi - Sweet Chocolate Chips - 100gms (More or less its your choice)

The Baking:

First make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. In a large bowl, beat the butter till its soft and fluffy. Then add the sugar and beat until its all well combined. Crack the egg and beat them well one at a time. Make sure all the eggs are completely beaten into the batter. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. At this stage the sugar would have completely dissolved into the batter. Sift in the flour two or three spoons at a time and gently fold in. Make sure there are no lumps or flour left unmixed. All the chocolate chips and mix one last time. 

 Line a baking try with parchment paper or gently butter the surface of the tray. Make lemon sized balls out of the dough and place them on the tray slightly flattening the top with spoon or your fingers. Bake in a preheated oven at 190c for 10 - 15 mins. Once they are done and come off the baking tray, let them cool on a wire rack. It can be stored in an airtight container for a week.

Important Pointers:
  • Salted butter can also be used, but its always better to have the salt amount in our control.
  • This recipe uses a combination of white and brown sugar. If white sugar is more in proportion then the cookies will be crisp. If the brown sugar is more in proportion then cookie will be soft chewy. Adjust this proportion according to your likes.
  • The amount of chocolate chips you add to the cookie is your choice. You can add more if you want lots of chips in it or even less. 
  • Chill the dough for 30 mins so that it will be easy to work with. 
  • The baking time will vary with the size and thickness of your cookie. So make sure all are equal sized. 

Happy Baking!


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