December 31, 2011

Broccoli and Shrimp Stir fry

This is a quick and easy side dish for dinner, or to roll into a wrap for lunch.

What you need: Serves 2 to 3
Prep time: 10-15 minutes

2 cups fresh broccoli broken into stems
1 cup red pepper, julienned
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 pound baby shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 tsp red chili powder / cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste

In a large skillet or wok, warm the olive oil. Add the baby shrimp , and cook until the shrimp turns pink. Add in the crushed garlic, saute for just a few seconds. Throw in the broccoli, peppers and corn. Cook them for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle the chili powder and salt. Stir until combined. Turn off the heat, and pour the lime juice. Serve hot as a side dish with rice or chapatti/flat breads.


December 28, 2011

Gobi/Cauliflower Manchurian

Another famous Indo-Chinese appetizer found in every nook and corner of India's metros.

What you need: Served 4 to 6 as an appetizer
3 cups fresh cauliflower florets with stems
About 2 cup of oil to deep fry

For the batter:
1/4 cup corn starch powder
1/4 cup  flour
3/4 to 1 cup cold water
1 tsp paprika/red chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste

To saute:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp rich tomato sauce
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup colored pepper cut into match sticks
1 bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp chilli powder
salt to taste

Boil the florets in bubbling hot water and 1/2 tsp of salt for about 5 minutes. Drain and towel dry, set aside.

In a medium bowl, add in the batter ingredients and mix them with cold water to get rid of any lumps. The batter should be fairly thin, so the cauliflower coating is crunchy even after it has cooled down.

Dip the cauliflower into the batter one by one & deep fry in hot oil. Set aside on paper towels to drain off excess oil.

Heat a wok or saucepan on medium high. Pour in the oil. When it begins to smoke, add in the ginger and garlic, immediately followed by onions. Saute for just a minute.

Add in all the sauces, and stir the mixture. When it begins to bubble, turn it off. Add in the fried cauliflower and colored peppers. Toss them will in the sauce to coat. Garnish the manchurian with green onions. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Egg masala

What you need: (Serves 4) 
4-6 eggs (depending on how many servings you will need)
1 medium onion chopped finely
Few curry leaves
1 tsp red chili powder/cayenne
1tsp cilantro seed powder
1/2 tsp jeera powder (cumin)
Whole garam masala (4 cloves, ¼ inch cinnamon, 2 whole cardamoms)
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp oil
Salt - to taste
½ tsp sugar
1 cup onion diced
1 cup tomato diced
1 cup colored pepper diced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas

Small bunch cilantro

First, hard boil the eggs, and peel them. Set aside. Use a medium sized, shallow skillet, heat the oil, add in the mustard, and curry leaves. Cover. After the spattering reduces, add the chopped onions, let brown on medium heat.

Heat up a pan and add oil. When the oil shimmers, add in the whole spices and cumin, followed by curry leaves. Saute for a minute and then add in peas, tomatoes and peppers. Sprinkle a few teaspoons of water and close the pan for a few minutes until the peas cooks to tthe consistency you like. 

Add all the powders and salt. Cook covered for 5-8 minutes on medium heat. Add water, if you want a runny stew, or leave as is, it will be a thick masala consistency.Garnish with cilantro

You may add the cooked eggs, whole, as is, or with a few slits. You may also slice them into half, and gently drop them sunny side up. Don’t stack them in the curry. Place them, as in a platter. That way they won’t break. It tastes great with chapathi/tortilla. Enjoy!

December 26, 2011

Chocolate and Cream Cupcakes

These chocolate and cream cupcakes are truly lip smacking, can get enough of desserts, and if you are a chocolate fan, then its a sin not to make them and feel what I mean!

Vanilla pancakes!

My big boy had pancakes, and Santa visit his school yesterday, which meant, he wanted to repeat it for our Sundays' breakfast. Went to the store as soon as they were up, grabbed some turkey sausages, and vanilla for pancakes. Needless to say, it was gone in minutes.

What you need: Makes 12-14 pancakes; Prep time: 15 minutes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp white sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
To serve:
Your choice of pancake syrup

Lightly whisk the egg, melted butter and milk in a bowl until fluffy.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the egg mixture; mix until smooth. Add in the vanilla and incorporate it well.

Heat a lightly greased griddle or pan over medium heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. 

Cook to a golden brown on both sides and serve hot, with a little butter and syrup of your choice. The aroma of vanilla pancakes and smoking sausages, yummy! 

December 23, 2011

Cheese, spinach and corn fry

What you need: (Makes 4 wraps or serves 2-3 as a lunch/dinner side dish)
2 cups grated Indian cheese (paneer)
2 cups corn fresh or frozen
1 cup fresh or frozen spinach, chopped
1/2 cup red onion diced
1/2 cup tomato diced
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Heat a skillet on medium-high, add oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the onions, roast until they are slightly brown. Toss in the tomatoes, corn and chopped spinach. Cook until all the water from the spinach starts to evaporate. Add in the powders and cook for a few more minutes.

Turn the heat to low now. Put in the grated cheese and cook the mixture for just a few more minutes. Turn off the heat. The cheese will get gooey at first, and will get crumbly as it cools.

I usually cook this stir-fry for dinner, as a side dish. If it remains, I wrap it into chapati/tortilla rolls for lunch the next day. Enjoy!

Stuffed Kheema Parathas / Ground meat Flat breads

Friday evening, picked up the kids, and invited the weekend bug to bite me. All I want to do was throw my bags and cozy up in bed. The kids are never drained of their energy, are they? The weather is too cold to do any shopping, and my son wants meatballs and chapatis for dinner. Well how about combining them. Stuffed parathas sound good? Well, I was left explaining why the meat was squished into the chapatis when my son had a frown - no meatballs on the dinner plate? Thank god he bought my explanation, and gulped the parathas with butter!

What you need: Makes 8-10 parathas
For the stuffing:
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup onion
1 tsp lime juice
2 cups fresh or frozen spinach
1/4 tsp coriander/dhanya powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
A pinch of turmeric
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Salt to taste

For the chapati/flat bread:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup hot or warm water
2 Tbsp yogurt
½ tsp salt
1 tsp oil
To layer and dust: A cup of wheat flour and a few spoons oil/butter

Now, on to the filling. In a thick bottom saucepan, on medium-high flame, add the ground meat and fry until brown. About 7-10 minutes. Add in all the other ingredients, and stir fry until all the water from the spinach evaporates. Add salt, and let cook. When the oil starts to leave the sides of the pan. Turn it off and let it cool down.

While that cools, prep the dough. Mix the flour and salt thoroughly with 1 tsp oil. Add warm water, and yogurt; knead the mixture to a soft yet pliable dough. Cover and let it sit for about 15 minutes to an hour.

Divide the dough equally into 8 lemon sized balls. On a rolling board, or flat surface, dip a dough ball in a little flour dust, and roll it out evenly to form a palm sized flat round bread. Mould it down to form a cup.

Scoop about 2 teaspoons of filling, place it in the center of the dough cup. Pinch in the sides of the the cup to form frills encasing the filling. gently cup the dough in your hands, and press the ends together to seal them, and twist it a bit and press the dough down into a ball.

Dust the rolling surface with flour and roll out the ball flat to form a bread. Heat a skillet or pan, and cook the parathas to a golden brown on both sides. Serve warm with butter or yogurt. Enjoy!

December 20, 2011

Cilantro turkey burgers!

What you need: 
Makes 12 little sandwiches
12 little sandwich buns
1/2 cup whole whet bread crumbs
1/2 tsp butter
Cheese slices
Cream ranch sauce
Fresh cilantro
Some red onion rings

For the patty:
2 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp finely chopped spicy green chilies
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 egg
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste

In a bowl, mix all the patty ingredients together, chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Divide them into 12 patties.

In a skillet, with add in the butter, and toast the inside of the sandwiches. Set them aside on a plate. In the same pan, cook the patties. 

Coat them with bread crumbs on both sides, and on medium heat, let them brown to about 4 minutes on each side. 

While these are cooking, sprinkle in the red onions and let them caramelize a bit in the skillet.

Arrange the burgers anyway you like, and poke a toothpick to hold them all together. Serve hot, enjoy!

Shrimp and bean fried rice

What you need: Serves 2-3
2 cups cooked cold rice (A day old rice works wonders) 

1 Tbsp oil of your choice
1 cup raw/frozen, deveined and tail off shrimp
½ cup red onions chopped
½ cup lima beans frozen/fresh
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 small hot chili finely chopped (optional)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp fish sauce
½ tsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
½ tsp pepper powder
Salt to taste 

Use a large wok or shallow pan.  

Add oil and set it on medium high, or high, if you are confident of working quick and not burning the dish. 

When the oil begins to smoke, add in the raw shrmip and lima beans. 

Saute them until the shrimp are pink, toss in garlic and onion (chili), keep stirring until it is transparent, not brown.

Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, chili flakes, and pepper. 

As it simmers throw in the rice and toss well for a minute, finally some salt to taste.

Serve hot. Enjoy!

December 17, 2011

Farfalle with chicken and Italian herbs

What you need: Serves 4-5
16 oz farfalle pasta, cooked and drained
2 cups of pasta sauce
2 cups boneless chicken
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp crushed fresh garlic
1 tsp dried Italian herbs (oregano, parsley and basil)
1/2 tsp or more crushed red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
1/2 cup of grated cheese of your choice

Marinate the chicken with a Tbsp olive Oil, vinegar, lemon juice, herbs and red pepper flakes. 

Refrigerate the mixture for about 30-45 minutes.

In a wok or deep saucepan, add in olive oil. Toss in the red onions and peas, Saute for a minute on high. Add salt and garlic. 
Add in the marinated chicken and let cook on medium while stirring for the first 2 minutes. Bring the heat down to low. Let the chicken cook through.

Cook the pasta as per instructions on the box. Drain the hot pasta, and toss them into the saucepan after the chicken has cooked through. 

Spoon pasta sauce over hot farfalle. Garnish, if desired, with additional herbs and olive oil. Serve with a sprinkle or cheese. Enjoy!

Okra, peanuts and chili fry

What you need: Serves 4
3 cups whole ocra/bhindi washed and wiped
1 cup red onions thinly sliced
1/2 tsp channa dhal
1/2 tsp urad dhal
A few mustard seeds

2 whole dry red chilies
A few curry leaves
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp oil
Salt to taste

To Powder:
2 Tbsp whole or deskinned peanuts
2 Tbsp dry coconut flakes/powder
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
A pinch of turmeric
A pinch of garam masala powder

Dry roast all the powdering ingredients until they are nice and warm, Set aside on a plate to cool. Test to check the peanuts, when they give a good crunch, they are perfect to powder. In a dry grinder, coarsely powder them.

Wash and wipe the okra dry. Cut off the head and tail. Heat oil in a shallow saucepan, when it begins to shimmer, add in the sesame seeds, chilies ad curry leaves, then dhals. Once the dhals turn into a golden color, add in the okra and roast them on medium heat. 

After about 10-12 minutes, sprinkle some salt. the okras would have roasted and toasted to a beautiful green and brown patch texture. Toss in the sliced onions and let it saute for a minute. 

Now add in peanut chili powder and let the entire mixture cook on low for 3-5 minutes. Serve hot with chapathis/tortillas. 

December 13, 2011

Orange Sugar Cookies and Icing

It is that time of the year again! Holidays, shopping and lots of food, did I forget baking? It’s the first time my kids hung their hand made ornaments on the Christmas tree, it was heart warming to watch them.
I have always looked for reasons to bake, and this month is the best. The kids and I made sugar cookies, and frosted them; it was a fun weekend project. We ate cookie dough and then licked our sticky fingers after the icing was done. I hope you can have that bonding time with your kids while you make cookies. Here is the recipe.

What you need: 
Makes about 3 dozen small and 2 dozen medium cookies.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange flavor
A pinch of orange zest
Confectioners/Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

These are regular sugar cookies with a hint of orange in them. If you rather prefer the original recipe, omit the orange flavor and zest. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until creamy. Add in the egg and milk, beat until fluffy. 

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.Slowly add in small amounts of flour and beat slow, until the mixture starts to pull together to a dough consistency. Gently knead the mixture by hand to form a ball. Wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the chill dough and roll it out on a sugar powder dusted surface. Keep the dough moving to prevent sticking. When the dough is about 1/4 inch thick, cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.

Place them on wax/parchment paper sheets, about 1 inch apart, and bake for about 10 minutes. Turn them around at half time, and as the edges start to brown, remove them quickly.
This part is a little tricky for first timers. You will need to be quick, and have trays ready for the next round. You could also prepare the trays in advance and chill them, that way you save energy too. You will have about 2 dozen medium sized or 3 dozen small cookies ready in 20 minutes. Let it stay on the sheet till they cool, then place them on wire racks to cool completely.

For the icing:
2 cups confectioner sugar
1 tsp meringue powder
2 Tbsp warm milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Desired icing colors
Small squeeze bottles or piping bags

Sift the sugar and meringue powder, to get rid of any lumps. Add a little milk and vanilla; mix thoroughly. Check the consistency, and add more milk if desired. The mixture should be smooth and thick, just a little runny. 

Add the desired colors and mix well. Place the piping bags in a tall glass and pour them into the bags and seal the bag. I used the small squeeze bottle we get at the craft store for candy melts/ketchup. They are easy to use and reheat in the microwave. Fill them in with a funnel about 3/4ths full. Store them in the fridge until you are ready to ice. Warm them for 10 seconds at a time in the microwave until they are ready to use. Knead the bottle or piping bag to get the icing ready.

When the cookies are completely cooled, hold each cookie in your hand at a 75 degree angle. Pipe around the edges to give a border that will hold the icing in. Let that cool and harden. Should take about 20 minutes. Now fill in the cookie top to bottom, only 34th full. 

Use a toothpick, and in a circular motion spread the icing to the edges to give it a uniform filling. Let cool completely. Repeat the step for each color you use. The cookies should be left to dry completely before they can be stored. It should take about 2 hours.

To store them, use an air tight box, if you need to stack the, use sheets of parchment paper between. They hold good for a week. The dough can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for up to a month if they are well wrapped and sealed. Happy holidays!

December 8, 2011

Almond chicken curry

You cannot go wrong with this curry, especially if you cook it up for a potluck. The blend of almonds with hot chilies gives you that warm Mughalai aroma and taste!

Serves: 4-6; Prep time: 45 minutes

What you need:
1 cup onions chopped
1 cup tomatoes chopped
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 cup of sliced almonds or ½ cup almond butter
1 tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
2-3 cloves
1/2 inch cinnamon bark
2 green cardamoms
1/4 tsp pepper seeds
2 tsp coriander powder

For the marinade:
2 tsp olive oil
6 chicken thighs de-skinned
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
Pinch of turmeric
1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
Salt to taste

 Slit the chicken thighs and marinate it with the rest of the ingredients, let it sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, get a fairly large, thick bottom saucepan, on medium heat. Add 2 tsp olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, toss in the cloves, cinnamon and cardamoms, as they splatter, add ginger garlic paste, chopped onions, and cook covered.

When they turn transparent add the sliced almonds, tomatoes and cook until soft and pulpy. If you are using almond butter, wait until the tomato gets soft, and then add it in.

Add in all the powders, and cook on medium for another 5-8 minutes. By this time the oil would have separated. Turn off the heat.

Get about half the curry into a blender, and grind it to a paste. Let the curry cool down a bit before you turn on that blender. Pour the paste back into the pot, and start up the heat to medium. Arrange the marinated chicken thighs on the simmering mixture and cook covered first 10 minutes, then low for the next 10. for about 20-25 minutes overall.

Check to see if the chicken is cooked through. It goes just great with chapathis, or complimented with flavored/plain rice too. Enjoy!