Monday, September 26, 2011

jeere wali gobi ...cauliflowers infused with cumin ...




This is how the simplest of flavors can make a vegetable worth on your table. Cauliflowers are great healing foods and if made in a low oil stir fry it can be a nice side dish or a meal in itself. I used to have a large bowl of this stir fry during navratri fasting as i wanted to have more and more vegetables for my meals. Vegetables and fruits are allowed and some grains like sama and kuttu or rajgeera too. So this jeere wali gobi makes a nice vrat ka khana (fasting food) during navratri or a stand alone dinner for you any time...

And if it comes together in 15 minutes flat, you would go for it without any second thoughts. I like it more with chapati , wrapped in a chapati or otherwise....i am one of those people who can eat dry stir fried well with chapatis too... And of course as a stand alone meal too i prefer such crunchy and slow roasted vegetables...I can't get enough of it...

ingredients....

cauliflower florets 3-4 cups
new potato one medium sized
finely chopped ginger 2 tbsp
chopped green chillies 2 tsp
whole cumin seeds 1 tbsp
cumin powder 1 tsp
black pepper powder 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
chopped coriander leaves with stems1/2 cup
ghee 2 tbsp


procedure ....

Microwave the potato in the covered bowl without water , then cube the potato in 8 pieces or more...Or use the potato raw , you would fry it for some more time in that case...

Heat the ghee and tip in the cumin seeds , wait till they crackle.

Throw in the chopped green chillies and ginger , let them fry for some seconds and then add the cubed potatoes , salt and turmeric powder , stir to coat them all well.

Add the cauliflower florets too , along with the cumin and pepper powders , toss and stir to coat all the florets well . Flash fry for a few seconds and then lower the flame and cover the pan for about 5 minutes or so.

Open the lid , check if you want the florets to be more tender , they are a bit crunchy in my recipe....fry (bhuno) a bit more stirring frequently.

The florets are not browned but still have a well roasted flavor and you would notice a few reddish spots here n there...

Sprinkle chopped coriander , take the pan off heat and serve immediately. A total of 10 minutes cooking time is all this stir fry needs.


I use unpeeled potatoes for it and that makes any bhuni subzi (vegetables stir fried this way) much more flavorful...

Ginger , cumin and fresh green coriander make the flavoring really interesting  i like it a bit hot . Ginger , pepper and green chillies have enough heat to make it too hot for some people , so use these ingredients according to your taste and tolerance.


This stir fry can be a nice navratri fasting one pot meal when vegetables are allowed. Adding sendha namak (rock salt) instead of regular table salt will make this stir fry suitable for fasting days too.

Otherwise it makes a nice stuffing for grilled sandwiches or just with plain chapatis as i said earlier...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

shami kabab awadhi style...




Kabab is minced meat patty spiced delicately to bring up an aromatic finesse to a melt in your mouth texture of meat . I cannot come up with any other fitting description for this simple looking food. It has transcended generations and has perfected it's form over time . Some variations of kabab have come to the point of perfection and have stopped 'getting perfected' ...... shami kababs and galouti kababs of Lucknow come in the same category. Eating kababs in any of the old Luckow eateries can give you a taste of how a centuries old recipe can take you to heaven , talk of the famous Tundey ke kabab or any other joint around the place....

We sometimes try and touch a fraction of that tradition and thank ourselves to be able to feel the heavens with eyes closed...kababs are such food.....served as starters , main course or even snacks you can't deny when a platter has a possibility of hitting your table any time of the day...

For a meal these kababs are served with ulte tawe ka paratha ( a thin layered flatbread baked on an inverted round bottom pan and smeared with ghee while being baked , pressing it all the while) , along with some green chutney and slices of onion.....if you are eating at Tundey ke kabab or any other joint in old Lucknow...

At home we like it with thin chapatis , rolled with some sliced onions with a dash of lime juice...

The kababs are out of this world anyways , just the minced meat mixture should be perfect. Lightly spiced so the meat flavors are not overpowered by other elements and still some aromatic spicing to enhance the delicate meat. Chana daal works as a binder which is almost neutral in taste when boiled along with the minced meat ...

I normally boil the minced meat with chana daal and grind it beforehand so the making of kabab when required is convenient . The boiled mixture is ground to paste and kept inside the fridge so it gets a bit thicker in consistency, to be able to shape into patties. So if you plan to make it for dinner , do the boiling and grinding in the morning and if you like it as a weekend brunch, like we had it, do the preparation in the previous night. The ground paste can stay in the fridge for a couple of days so you can use it accordingly.

ingredients....
( makes about a dozen kababs)
minced meat (goat meat) 300gm
chana daal(split chickpeas) 2 heaped tbsp
salt to taste

To be ground with boiled meat...
black cardamom 1 medium sized
green cardamom 2
cloves 4 nos
cinnamon stick 1/2 inch pc.
shahi jeera(caraway seeds) a generous pinch
black peppercorns 15 nos.

To be mixed with the paste...
finely diced onions 1/3 cup
finely dices green chillies 1 tbsp
finely chopped ginger 1 tbsp or more if you like
finely chopped green coriander leaves 2 tbsp
finely chopped mint leaves a pinch

ghee to fry the kabas(3-4 tbsp will be enough for these many kababs)

procedure....

First of all wash the chana daal and dunk it in the pressure cooker along with minced meat and salt to taste. Add 3/4 cup of water and pressure cook for 5 minutes after the whistle blows, turning to low heat after the whistle. Let the pressure release, open the lid and cook without the lid till all the water evaporates...


The ground or minced meat can be cooked in a covered pan too, it will take more time to cook in that case and you might need to check it in between and add water if required.

Now, grind the cooked mixture with the spices listed for grinding with the paste.

It's time to tell you my little secret , normally people do it the way i told but i boil all the whole spices listed here along with the minced meat and chana daal and that makes the kababs much more delicate. This way the spices are just perfectly mild and aromatic and blended well with the base...


Empty the paste into a mixing bowl and keep in the fridge so that it gets a bit thicker in consistency ... It should hold it's shape when scooped with a spoon...


You need the chopped onions, green chillies, ginger and coriander and mint leaves not at the time of shaping and frying the kababs .. you can use lesser onions if you like but chopped green chillies and ginger add a lot to the final taste . As does the green coriander and a hint of mint.


Add these chopped bits to the paste , shape into small flat patties and shallow fry using ghee.
 No other oil should be used for kababs as it makes a lot of difference in final taste. Commercial joints use hydrogenated oils to get the crisp texture , beware of that....at home ghee is the best bet...


Turn when the kababs get browned on one side ....shallow fry both sides till they get a nice brown crust , a crisp crust and well set but softer interior makes a great kabab...you may want t turn them 2-3 times both sides for repeated slow browning....medium heat is a must...


Serve with lots of onion rings and lemon wedges...with parathas or plain chapatis...


A green chutney made with coriander leaves, mint , green chillies and some garlic is an optional dip served with kababs  we like it just with a squeeze of lime and lots of onion rings ....

Wrapped in a chapati, it makes a nice kathi roll ...... we had a nice and warm mug of thin tomato soup to go with it....


Kababs are not a realm of non vegetarians only. You can make kababs with soy granules or with zamikand or yam (elephant yam) if you are a vegetarian , other mixed vegetable kababs do not come close to it. Only the brown pulp of zamikand makes a nice vegetarian kabab if it is not soy granules . Although that is strictly my own opinion.....many people like kababs made with cauliflowers and other vegetables also.

Hara bhara kabab or hariyali kabab is another vegetarian kabab i like which is made with boiled green peas and a generous helping of steamed spinach leaves...that reminds me it's been ages since i made a nice hara bhara kabab ...come winters i am game for a hara bhara (all green) season :)

What kind of kababs do you like? 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

When two desserts from Hyderabad meet .... they explode with flavors...




I have never been to Hyderabad and have never tasted an authentic Double ka meetha which is a ghee fried slice of bread soaked in sugar syrup and topped with fresh cream...an Indian version of bread and butter pudding , called shahi tukda in the north of India ..

 Khubani ka meetha (stewed apricots in sugar syrup) comes in a ready to eat pack so i have had no complaints about that . The comparative ease to make this khubani ka meetha is another positive point .

About this Double ka meetha i knew so little i realized a few days back, till then i just thought it is our very own shahi tukda as we call it in the northern parts of the country ....and it is so in real technical terms too. But recently someone from Hyderabad enlightened me that this dessert is mostly served in the form of a bread halwa there. So the recipe becomes more complex as there is mashing to be done and frying will require some accuracy of a different kind. I prefer my own shahi tukda over this halwa version but i would still love to call it Double ka meetha as and when i please as some of my Hyderabad friends identified it as a DKM when i posted about it long back...

On my table both these desserts can be served on top of each other . Why not ?


The stewed apricots are so fridge friendly and bread slices can be 'fried' and sugared any time making a double sweet treat ... topped with the good old home made malai of course...

Now i come to the real reason of posting this double dessert .

I have been getting a lot of queries since i posted shahi tukda about how to shallow fry the bread slices without them getting all soggy in the syrup . The problem is , when you deep fry the bread , it soaks huge quantity of ghee and when you shallow fry it on a flat base pan it retains some of it's moisture and gets soggy and mushy when served . The texture of the fried bread plays a critical role in it's taste too as a crisp and a lil' chewy texture make the bread taste really different , it complements the topping of a rabri or malai too . A soggy bread just tastes plain sweet and that kills this dessert.

I apologize for being so late in coming with a reply , I do not make such rich desserts very often and was kinda forgetful too . This time i had half a can of sugar syrup to be used , leftover sugar syrup from a can of Amul gulab jamun. This consistency of sugar syrup is just perfect for a shahi tukda and i decided to make it instantly one Sunday morning as a rich breakfast for us.... Shallow frying the bread this time...


So the trick is to press the bread slices (edges removed and cut into triangles) on the frying pan while frying them....smear ghee on both sides of the cut bread slice , place on a medium hot flat base frying pan ( i use an iron tawa) and keep pressing and letting it brown on a medium low flame. The idea is to let the bread slice dehydrate while it gets crisp with ghee. You use a little ghee , about 2 tsp per triangle of bread this way . Toast the bread both the sides till it gets crisp and hard but do not let it become brittle like a rusk , the bread should resist to break and should fold a bit too....



You do not have control over the quantity of ghee being soaked when you deep fry the bread and that is the reason why many people detest this simple and quick desert. I use brown bread for shahi tukda always and that makes the shallow fried slices a bit more chewy , the way we like it.


Another thing to keep in mind is , do not soak the slices and keep them for long , especially if the syrup is a bit thin....using a dense syrup works better as this leftover gulab jamun syrup... Hot toasted/shallow fried  bread and cold syrup works best, assembled at the time of serving....




Place the shallow fried slices on a plate , drizzle the cold syrup over it . Spoon the apricot jam or coulis or khubani ka meetha (or any other fruit preserve) over it , top it with fresh homemade malai or rabri or whipped cream and serve immediately...

Do not blame me for all the sugar cravings you get at this hour :) .....


Saturday, September 17, 2011

A tale of mishti doi cravings and a consumer complaint being responded...

A ready pack of mishti doi from Mother Dairy is almost a constant presence in my fridge . Although i make my own mishti doi whenever i fancy but something available so easily just across the lane makes it so much more convenient to just go get a tub of mishti doi whenever you feel like. One such day when both of us wanted a spoonful of this luscious creamy sweetened yogurt , and as i picked it up from inside the fridge , i noticed the pack was puffed . I was aghast as we just had bought the pack the previous day and it had never happened before , the acrid smell of the yogurt crashed our mishti doi craving in no time.

We just thought of lodging a complaint online and see what happens. We were not hoping any response from Mother Dairy as a common consumer in our country is never compensated , or so we thought. I just wanted to inform so they could check the same lot for any contamination and just a plain simple thought that they should decide on expiry dates more seriously.

 I was surprised to get a call from them the next day to confirm our address and to my delight a fresh pack of mishti doi was delivered at my doorstep the very next day of the call. Surprisingly, the mother dairy people were very polite and convincing and never sounded like doubting our complaint , i just needed to tell the manufacturing date of the pack and the person who delivered the fresh pack wanted to see the cover flap, though he was not particular about it.The person on phone said they checked the lot and there was no irregularity, i was happy they did this.

A lesson learnt .... you should always complaint in case of food being putrid as it might be a case of the whole lot being contaminated , or even some loopholes in the distribution system as some of the vendors might not be taking care to store the product at prescribed temperature. And you should wait for a replacement of the product too if the manufacturers are prompt in their action. Mother Dairy was.

And see what i did with the mishti doi this time....




With home made apricot jam .... a chunky jam with juicy halves of apricots turned into a sweet bliss...

Mixed lightly with mishti doi any homemade fruit jam is a bliss as a dessert.....or as a healthy snack when you want something sweet .
Although for healthy snacking i prefer freshly cut fruit in my mishti doi...see how it does magic with mangoes...

Do you use your rights as a consumer ever ?

Wait for another apricot jam dessert on these pages .... see you soon :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

khubaani ka meetha ..an apricot dessert from Hyderabad..



Made with fresh juicy apricots . Yes , I am back from my cycling expedition with a Hyderabad special dessert made using the freshest of apricots i picked up from Leh .

Sounds like a perfect North South connect ?

Yes it is. I used to wonder how this khubaani (apricot) reached Hyderabad to please the taste buds of the navabs . How stupid i was to forget the fact that the mughal rulers entered India passing through the same terrains where this wonderful little fruit grows. The Himalayas. And true foodies they were to enjoy the apricots in the form of khubaani ka meetha , made from dried apricots too .



I have tried this dessert with fresh and dried apricots both in the past years , dried apricots result in the same consistent taste every time but fresh apricots taste different depending of what variety they are. I saw many types of apricots for the first time growing fresh on the trees , fallen from the trees and in the markets too , fresh and dried both. I was reminded of an apricot tree our neighbors had in their backyard when i was growing up in Chandigarh , i used to climb that tree to pluck apricots , usually unripe because ripened ones fall off the tree anyways. But we had no patience as any other children :)


If using dried apricots , you need to soak them overnight and cook with sugar to sweeten till soft . It is cooked to a jam consistency and is usually served with fresh cream or home made malai.

I usually prefer fresh apricots whenever in season for a fresh flavor and nice color too. Apricots do not keep well  for long and have to be used up within a week even when refrigerated, so it's always a good idea to stew them with some sugar and keep for longer duration in the fridge , especially when you have had your fill of the fresh ones...

This time i halved them to remove the stones....


A knife is not required to do this , just press along the groove and split the fruit in two, remove the seed and keep the flesh for stewing...

Add some sugar ... For 2 cups of halved fresh apricots i used 3/4 cup of sugar . You can use more if you want it very sweet , the Hyderabad version is too sweet for me.


I placed everything in a ceramic bowl and microwaved it for 3+3 minutes and that's it. You can always cook on gas stove to stew it slowly for 15 minutes or so. To the consistency you like.


A shiny look on the cooked apricots is an indication it is yummy cooked to be called khubaani ka meetha. I used half of the apricots to make a thick jam too . I like it sometimes as a topping on ice creams or trifles . Home made chunky jams are so versatile you know.

Now is the time to serve the Khubaani ka meetha with fresh malai . You can go for whipped cream too but i always like my good old home made malai for this....


Out of this world flavors..best served at room temperature.... small servings are wiser you know...just one tablespoonful of stewed apricots and 3/4 tablespoonful of malai . The flavors are so intense you wouldn't need more to get high on it.



Getting high on the fruit of the highlands....I am sharing a picture from my cycling expedition before i leave ...


This was the first day of our cycling from Kullu . It was drizzling and a great start to a wonderful journey ahead. We ate many fresh apricots, apples and soft pears directly from the trees in kullu and finally i bought these golden apricots with rosy cheeks from a Leh market to take back home. I am happy i did bring these beauties home as they made a nice start to my home cooking after a long crazy trip.....

Apricots from Delhi markets also make good Khubani ka meetha and jam . I have posted an apricot compote stewed with orange juice long time back and that was made using the apricots available in Delhi....

Fresh apricots can be versatile you see...stew them the way you like and enjoy !!