Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Chili Lime Shrimp


Another quick meal with an easy ingredient. 

Ingredients


Shrimp                                 1 lb shelled n de-veined
Chopped green chili             1 tsp or to taste
Honey                                 1.5 tbsp
Lime/Lemon juice                2 tbsp
Hot sauce                            1 tbsp
Olive oil                               1 tbsp
Salt                                      to taste


Method


Pour all the ingredients in a bowl except  olive oil.
Marinate the shrimp in the mixture for 45-60 mins.
Heat a frying pan on medium high. Brush olive oil in the pan and add shrimps minus the marinade.
Cook for 5-6 mins till they turn pink.
Serve it on toasted bread as a sandwich or as a topping on pasta or rice. You can add it to a green salad to make a full meal out of it.




Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Short Bread Cookies




Short bread is a classic cookie with minimal number of ingredients. Their rich, buttery melt in your mouth texture wonderfully compliments a nice cup of coffee of tea. Easy to make and yum to eat. Dip them in dark chocolate to make them more festive.

Ingredients


Flour                   2 1/2 cups
Corn Starch        1/2 cup
Butter                 1 1/2 cup at room temp
Sugar                  2/3 cup
Salt                    2 pinches

Method


Cream butter until pale. Add sugar and mix well.
Put salt, flour and corn starch in another bowl and mix.
Add flour mixture to butter a little at a time until all incorporated.
Divide the mix into to portions. Flatten each portion on a sheet of plastic wrap and seal.
Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
Preheat the oven at 350 F or 180 C.
Take one disc out and using a rolling pin and a bit of flour, roll to 2/3 cm of thickness.
Cut the cookies in any shape you want. Arrange the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet one inch apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges start changing color.
Take them out and let rest on the sheet for 8-10 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.
Dip them in melted dark chocolate if you wish.



Note:
You can make all flour cookies replacing the corn starch for a firmer cookie.
For a crunchier cookie, bake them for two more minutes.
Dip one side in chocolate and make a cookie sandwich.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Beef Boti Fry




Bite size pieces of steak cooked with fresh and colorful vegetables is not only eye pleasing but very appetizing to the palette as well. Not very spicy yet delicious. Serve it with roti, pasta, rice or pita and enjoy!

Ingredients


Beef                                1.5 lbs bite size pieces
Garlic                              1 whole head
Onion                              1 big
Green onion                     3-4 Cut into 1 inch pcs
Habanero/green chili        1-2
Bell pepper                      1/2
Tomato                           1 medium
Salt                                 1 tsp or to taste
Black pepper                  1/2 tsp
Garam masala                 1/2 tsp
Oil                                  3 tbsp

Method


Peel the garlic cloves and crush them roughly.
Slice onion thickly.
Slit green chili in the middle.
Cut green onions in 1 inch sticks.
Slice bell pepper in 3/4 cm thickness.
Heat the oil in the pan and add meat. Fry the meat for a couple of minutes and add crushed garlic to it. Keep browning the meat until all the moisture dries up and oil separates fro the meat. Sprinkle salt and black pepper and add habanero chili.
Add a cup of water and cover. Lower the heat and let cook till meat is tender. Meat cooking time varies so you may need to add more water.
Increase the heat and start browning/caramelizing the masala. You need to stir it every minute or so to make sure the masala doesn't burn.
Once the meat has browned and all the water has dried, turn the heat off. Immediately add onion and bell pepper, cover and let it steam for 5-7 minutes. Open the lid and add green onion and tomato. Stir and sprinkle garam masala and serve with chapati or naan.

Note:
When cold it works beautifully as a filling for a wrap or sandwich.

Friday, 28 November 2014

M's Chocolate Cake



Its birthday time here and a birthday means a cake needs to be on the table. The birthday boy's demand was all about chocolate and strawberries so here is what I came up with. Its a three layers chocolate fudge cake with dark chocolate ganache and strawberry fillings. And the icing is chocolate whipped cream. But big brother thought that it wasn't chocolaty enough so he added chocolate truffles and milk chocolate cubes on top and of course sprinkles are a must for a kid's birthday, isn't it ?
Here is Mr. M's cake :)



Cake Ingredients

All-purpose flour                              1 1/2 cups
Sugar                                               2 cups
Cocoa powder                                 1 cup
Baking soda                                     2 tsp
Baking powder                                 1 tsp
Salt                                                  1/2 tsp
Yogurt                                             1 cup beaten
Butter                                              1/2 cup melted
Extra-large eggs                                2
Vanilla extract                                   1 teaspoon
Water                                                1 cup

Method


Preheat your oven at 350. Butter and flour 9 inch pan around 2 inches deep.
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl.
Mix melted butter, eggs, yogurt, water and vanilla.
Add your wet ingredients to dry ingredients. You will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula during mixing. (you can use your mixer or a whisk)
Pour it in your pan and bake for 40-50 mins. Test with a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean, means cake is ready.
Cool for about half an hour in the pans and turn them over onto cooling rack.

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

Dark chocolate                        8 oz or 1/2 lbs
Whipping cream                       8 oz or 225 ml
Butter                                      2 tbsp


Method

Cut the chocolate in shards or chop very finely.
Bring cream to scalding point and then pour over the chopped chocolate and add butter. Let rest for a minuter and then stir.
Stir it again after 2-3 minutes. Do it a few times till all chocolate pieces disappear.
Let stand at room temperature for 4 hours or in refrigerator for about 2 hours to cool down until thickened.

Chocolate Whipped Cream

Whipping Cream                     2 cups
Chocolate Ganache                 1/4 cup
Icing sugar                               3-4 tbsp


Method


Chill the cream very well.
With the help of a hand whisk or mixer, whip till soft peaks. Add sugar and chocolate ganache and beat till stiff. Avoid over beating.
Refrigerate till ready to assemble the cake.

Assembly

Slice the cake in three layers.
Place one layer on your cake board and spread 1/2 cup of chocolate ganache to cover the layer. You can increase the amount of ganache as per your liking up to 1 whole cup.
Place the second layer of cake and spread 3/4 cup of strawberry jam to cover the whole cake.
Place the third layer on and start icing your your cake from top to the sides. Top with with some chocolate, chocolate curls, strawberries etc.

Note:
Use cocoa powder to flour the pan in stead of flour to avoid white residue on the cake.
If cream is over beaten, add a bit of more cream and whisk a little more to bring it back to the whipped cream texture.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Potato,Leek and Zucchini Soup




Winter has started with full force here and the most comforting thing I can think in this weather is a hot, steaming bowl of a hearty soup. This is my way of having a healthy dinner, a soup filled with vegetables served with butter croutons made with multi-grain bread. I used home made chicken broth for it but you can replace with vegetable broth to have a vegan version. Potatoes add a nice creaminess to the mellow flavour of leeks and zucchini.  I have used yukon gold but use any yellow flesh potatoes.

Ingredients


Leeks                     3
Potatoes                 4-5 cups 1 cm cubes
Zucchini                  2  (1 cm cubes)
Broth                      6-7 cups
Butter                     1 tbsp
Spring onion           1
Salt                         to taste
Black pepper          1/2 tsp


Method


Cut the leeks in half length wise. Wash them thoroughly by soaking in a big bowl of water, then thinly slice.
Thinly slice the spring onion and keep aside.
Cut potatoes and zucchini into 1 cm cubes.
Add 1 tbsp of butter in a frying pan. Once melted, add sliced leeks and green onion. Cook on low medium heat just to soften them up. Do not brown them.
Boil the broth, once it comes to a boil, add potatoes, salt and pepper. When potatoes are fork tender around 5-8 minutes, add zucchini cubes. Cook for 2 minutes and add leek and onion mix.
Bring it back to the boil, adjust seasonings if needed and serve hot.

Note:
Serve with any crusty bread or croutons.
Freshly cracked black pepper just lifts the flavour to a whole new level .



Friday, 14 November 2014

Beef Tikka


BBQ -  who doesn't love it? I have shared the Seekh kabab recipe already so its the turn of tikka boti now. These tender, succulent, juicy chunks of beef are a treat for your mouth and of course tummy :)
Just six ingredients including the meat, can it get any more easy! Just give it an hour to marinate and you will be praised by one and all. You can cook these under a broiler or even in indoor grill. I used charcoal because we loved that smokey flavour. Serve it with NaanMandi rice, parsley potatoes, fresh garden salad or fries.

Ingredients


Beef chunks                       2 lbs cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
White wine vinegar             1/4 cup
Salt                                    1 tsp
Turmeric                             1/2 tsp
Black pepper                      1/2 tsp
Olive oil                              3 tbsp

Method


Mix oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and turmeric in a bowl. Add the meat and marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Put them onto the skewers and bbq or heat your broiler and put the skewers on a baking rack and broil for 3-4 minutes on each side.



Monday, 10 November 2014

Blueberry Sour Cream Cake



Blueberries are a family favourite here and so is the moist cake. What a way to make the family happy :)
This is a very moist buttery cake with a punch of anti oxidants from the blueberries. Simple deliciousness!  

Ingredients


Butter                       1 cup
Milk                          3/4 cup
Sour cream               1/2 cup
Eggs                          3
Sugar                        1 1/4 cup
Salt                           1 pinch
Blueberries                1 cup
Vanilla essence          1 tsp
Flour                         1 1/2 cup +1 tsp + 1 tbsp
Baking powder          1 1/2 tsp


Method


Preheat the oven at 350 F or 180 C.
Butter and flour a bundt pan or you can use two 8 inch pans.
Sift 1 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder and salt, keep aside.
In a mixing bowl, whip the butter until pale and creamy.
Add sugar and beat for another 4-5 mins.
Add eggs one at a time and mix well.
Mix vanilla essence, sour cream and milk in a bowl.
Alternate flour and milk mix and add in five additions starting and ending with flour mix. Mix until everything comes together but avoid over beating.
Sprinkle a teaspoon of flour over the blueberries and stir them in the cake mix using a spatula. Be careful not to bruise the fruit or else cake will be blue.
Pour the mix into the prepared pan and put in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 50-60 mins. Mine took exactly 50 mins.

Note:

You can add lemon icing to the cake by mixing a cup of icing sugar with 2=4 tbsp of fresh lemon juice.






Monday, 3 November 2014

Vanilla Sour Cream Pancakes




These fluffy, lighter than a cloud pancakes are a sure hit on the table. Spongy texture of the pancakes are  a perfect carrier for this delicious home made raspberry syrup. A bite of this decadence in your mouth and you are in heaven. A very quick recipe sure to please every one.


Ingredients


Sour Cream                                          1/2 cup
Milk                                                     1 cup
Vanilla extract                                       1 tsp
Flour                                                    1 cup plus 1 tbsp
Baking Soda                                         1 1/2 tsp
Eggs                                                     2
Butter                                                   2 tbsp melted plus for cooking
Sugar                                                   1 tbsp
Salt                                                      a pinch


Method


Sift flour and baking soda together. Stir in the salt and keep aside.
Beat butter, milk, sour cream, sugar and eggs together.
Pour dry ingredients in the wet. Add in the vanilla essence and mix to incorporate. Avoid over mixing. Batter would be a little lumpy that's how it is suppose to be.
Heat the griddle or a frying pan on medium low heat. Add a little bit of butter to coat the pan.
Using a quarter cup measure, pour the batter into the pan.
When tiny bubbles appear on top and pancake seems a bit dry, flip it over. Cook for another minute or so and its ready to serve.


Raspberry and Apricot Syrup 


Nothing says it more girly than this ruby red raspberry syrup. It has a really fresh flavour with a tangy note from the raspberries. This is how I like mine but you can always adjust the amount of sugar according to your palette. I like mine with a hint of tartness.  


Ingredients


Raspberries                                1 cup
Sugar                                          3/4 cups
Apricot Jam                                2 tbsp
Corn starch                                 1 1/5 tsp mixed with 1/4 cup of water
Water                                         3/4 cup

Method


Put raspberries, apricot jam, sugar and water in a sauce pan.
Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
Add in the corn starch mix and cook till it starts boiling.
Take off the heat and strain the syrup. Let it come to the room temp before serving.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Cream of Broccoli Soup



Fall is in full swing and what better thing to cook than soups. I have a family of soup lovers so I make them very often during fall and winters. This is a recipe which is easy and delicious. Like any soups, a good flavourful stock is very important. I always prefer home made chicken stock but feel free to use ready made one.

Ingredients

Broccoli florets                         5-6 cups
Chicken stock                           4 cups
Potato                                       2 cubes
Half and half                              1 1/2 cups
Salt                                           to taste
Black pepper                            1/2 tsp
Cream cheese                           1 tbsp
Flour                                        1 tbsp
Butter                                       1 tbsp

Method 

Heat the oil in a pan and add butter. Once the butter is melted, add the flour.
Cook it for a couple of minutes to take the rawness out and add chicken stock. Bring it to a boil and add cubed potatoes. Cook till fork tender.
Add broccoli and cook uncovered till fork tender about 6-8 minutes. Add in the cream cheese and using a stick blender, blend everything until smooth.
Take off the heat and add cream. Heat it on medium heat till close to boiling point. Add salt and pepper and taste. Serve immediately with a dash of hot sauce and freshly cracked black pepper.

Following is the recipe of how I make my basic chicken stock:

For Chicken Stock

Chicken wings and necks                         2 lbs skin off
Onion                                                      1 large
Garlic                                                       1 head
Ginger                                                      1 inch cube
Pepper corn                                             1 tsp
Salt                                                          1 tsp
Bay leaf                                                   1
Water                                                      3 litre

Method

Put every thing in a stock pot and bring it to boil.
Once it starts to boil, start skimming the foam off of the top.
Put the flame on low with lid half way on for 40-50 mins.
Strain and you have got your stock ready.
This is a very basic stock with not alot of other flavourings so it can easily be used in many dishes.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Leg of Lamb Pakistani style



It was Eid ul Adha last week which we all Muslims celebrate in the memory of Abraham's sacrifice of Ishmael. It is one of the biggest celebrations in the Muslim world after the annual pilgrimage to the holy lands of Makkah and Madina. Normally a goat/lamb or cow is sacrificed after the morning Eid prayers. Meat is then divided into 3 equal portions. One portion is for the friends and relatives, second portion is for the poor and needy and the third portion is kept for ourselves. I remember growing up there used to be a set menu for the day and there was rarely a change. Leg of lamb was a must on the dinner table whether bar-b-qued, pot roasted or oven roasted. Ideally it needs to marinate for up to 24 hours but 12 hours would do just fine. Here is how it is made:

Ingredients


Leg of lamb                          3-4 lbs
Garlic powder                      1 tbsp
Ginger powder                     1 tsp
Salt                                      1 1/2 - 2 tsp
Red chili powder                  1 tsp
Garam Masala                      1 1/2 tsp
Vinegar                                 1/4 cup
Yogurt                                  1 cup
Cumin powder                      1 tbsp
Oil                                        3 tbsp

Methods

  1. Clean the leg by removing most of the fat leaving just a thin layer.
  2. Make 3 to 4 deep slits all the way to bone as you can see in the picture above.
  3. Apply vinegar all over the meat massaging into the cuts. Rinse after 15 minutes.
  4. Mix yogurt with all the above ingredients and apply to the washed meat.
  5. Put it in the fridge and let marinate from 12-24 hours.
  6. Take a big enough pot to hold the meat with a tight fitting lid.
  7. Heat it on medium and add the meat including the marination liquid. The pot should have a cup and half to two cups of liquid. 
  8. Once it starts to boil, turn the stove to the lowest setting and put the lid on.  Using a cup of flour and water, make dough. Put the dough around the lid to seal the edges. Let cook for 90 minutes.
  9. Crack the dough and open the lid. If there is any water ,increase the heat and dry until the meat starts browning. Remove from the heat and let rest for ten minutes.
  10. Slice thinly using a sharp knife and serve.
  11. To get the fall off the bone tenderness, you need to add 30-40 minutes to your cooking time.
Note:
I use home made garam masala.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Hunter Beef



This beef recipe makes me feel nostalgic as it was a staple during the winter months while growing up. There was a particular place my father would go to buy it. Moving away from home forced me to develop this recipe to control my cravings. My kids love it in their sandwiches and i love it thinly sliced over my fresh garden salad. This high protein , low carb, low fat snack is not only good for you but easy to make and it keeps well for a long period of time. All you need is a bit of planning for the marination time. But the end result is well worth the time and effort due to its versatility. 

Ingredients



Lean Beef chunk                      2 lbs 
Vinegar                                    1 cup
Water                                      1 cup
Salt                                         2 tsp
Sugar                                      1 tbsp
Black pepper                          2 tsp
Cumin                                     1 tsp

Method


  1. Coarsely grind black pepper and cumin.
  2. Pour vinegar in a glass bowl, add water and dissolve salt and sugar in it.
  3. Add cumin and black pepper.
  4. Prick the chunk of meat with a folk all over.
  5. Put the meat in vinegar solution making sure it is covered all over. Cover and refrigerate the meat.
  6. Now begins the waiting part of it as this meat needs at least 5-6 days of marination. You need to keep it in the coolest part of your refrigerator. Turn it over once a day making sure it is submerged in the solution.
  7. After 6 days, put the meat in a pan big enough to hold the meat as well as the solution. Let it come to a boil, then put on simmer for at least one hour. Take the meat out of the pan and turn the heat on high to evaporate the water until you are left with a thick sauce. Rub sauce all over the meat and let cool in the fridge for at least a few hours before slicing.
  8. Slice thinly. You can use hunter beef for sandwiches, salads, pasta etc. It keeps well in the refrigerator for 10-15 days.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Brown Butter Steamed Potatoes With Parsley


Potato is such a humble ingredient but one can do wonders with it by adding spices, flavours, herbs etc. They are my go to item when I am looking for a side to meat. This simple dish is a sure hit on the table as I have never had any left overs. It is such an easy recipe with just 6 ingredients which includes salt and pepper :). I like using baby potatoes as they look pretty but feel free to use any waxy potato variety, you can mix red skin and yellow skin for even a prettier look. Here is how the recipe goes:

Ingredients


Potatoes                                    2 lbs
Butter                                        4 tbsp
Salt                                            3/4 tsp
Black Pepper                             1/2 tsp
Parsley                                       1 Cup finely chopped
Chicken Stock/Water                 1/2 cup


Method


  1. Heat a heavy bottom pan or a dutch oven. 
  2. Add the butter and when it starts browning on the edges, slide the washed potatoes in it.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper and coat the potatoes well with butter mixture.
  4. Put two third of the parsley and add water or chicken stock. 
  5. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pot. Let the potatoes steam till they are fork tender and there is no water left. If you can still see some water, increase the heat and dry it out.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining parsley to freshen up the flavours and colours and serve hot.




Note:
You may need to adjust the amount of water depending on the size of your potatoes.




Monday, 8 September 2014

Chicken Mandi





Mandi is a rice dish available throughout the Arabian peninsula s well  as some African countries. Mainly
 it belongs from Yaman. It is a dish cooked with rice and any kind of meat fro camel to chicken. Normally its a young animal which is cooked in the clay oven and rice are prepared separately. Its a dish of special occasions like weddings and feasts or celebrations. It is so delicious that i just need an excuse of the weekend to make it :) I won't call it authentic recipe as i have not got it from any Yemeni friend. I had it during one of my visits to UAE and fell in love with that. So i recreated it at home and it turned out amazing and very very close to the original. I am writing the recipe in two steps; one for chicken preparation and second for rice. Here is how the recipe goes.

Ingredients


Rice


Basmati Rice                    2 cups
Onion                               1 small finely chopped
Tomato                            1 large grated
Garlic                               3 cloves grated
Salt                                  1.5 tsp
Sugar                               1 tbsp
Oil                                   1/4 cup
Cinnamon                        2 inch pc
Star Anise                        1 flower
Green cardamom              4-6
Saffron                             1 pinch soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
Chicken Stock                  3 1/2 cups

Method


Wash and soak the rice in room temperature water for 1 hour.
Heat the oil in a pan and add onion. Fry till they start browning at the the edges.
Add green cardamom, cinnamon stick, star anise, chopped tomato and grated garlic and cook till tomato disappears and it all becomes a homogenize mix.
Pour the stock in and add salt and sugar.
Once it all comes to a boil, drain the water fro the rice and add it to the stock. Let it boil and then lower the heat to medium and cover. When all the water is evaporated, sprinkle the saffron water on top of the rice and cover and steam on the lowest setting of your stove until you see the steam escaping from the lid.
Open the lid and fluff the rice using a fork.

Chicken


Chicken                            2-3 lbs whole skin on
Butter                               2 tbsp melted
Saffron                              1 generous pinch
Salt                                   1 1/2 tsp
Black pepper powder        1 tsp
Garam Masala                   1 tbsp
Turmeric                            1/2 tsp
Lemon                                1
Garlic                                 1 head slit in half


Method


Add all the spices and lemon juice to hot butter. Reserve the lemon rinds.
Wash chicken and pat dry with a paper towel.
Coat the chicken with butter mix and rub it all over including the cavity.
Put the lemon rinds and garlic inside the stomach cavity and let it marinate for at least 1 hour or upto 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven at 425 degrees.
Put chicken in a baking tray breast side down. Cover loosely with aluminium foil.
Bake for 40 minutes. Take out the chicken and flip it over. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until juice run clear. If the skin is still not brown put it under the broiler while keeping a close eye on it.


Note:

Traditional way of serving mandi is to spread an inch thick layer of rice on a big round platter. Put the meat in the center.
I like to garnish mine with some raisins but its totally optional.


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Fish and Chips


Ingredients



Fish Fillets                3 lbs
Mustard                   1 tbsp
Salt                          1 1/2 tsp or to taste
Black pepper           1/2 tsp
Egg                          1
Water                      1/4 cup
Flour                       1/4 cup
Garlic powder          1/2 tsp
Lemon Juice            1 tbsp
Oil                           for frying


Method



  1. Sprinkle garlic powder and lemon juice on the fish and mix. Let marinate for half an hour.
  2. Beat the egg and add mustard, salt and black pepper, mix well.
  3. Add cold water to the egg followed by the flour.
  4. Pour this over the fish and let stand in the fridge for 30 mins.
  5. Heat 1 1/2 inch of oil in a wok or frying pan to medium high.
  6. Fry the pieces until evenly golden brown on both sides.
  7. Serve hot.




Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Carrot Fudge - Gajar Kalakand



Kalakand is a rich dessert. Milk is cooked down on a low flame for hours to attain fudge like texture. This recipe just takes half an hour to be ready with amazing results. Instead of reducing the milk, I have used milk powder which cuts the cooking time magically and the taste does not suffer at all. With a handful of ingredients and a tiny bit of time you have a festive dessert which will impress one and all.

Ingredients


Carrots                            2 lbs grated
Clarified butter                 1/4 cup
Green cardamom             3 crushed
Sugar                               1 1/2 cup
Milk Powder                    1 1/2 - 2 cups
Almonds                           8-10 optional
Raisins                              8-10 optional


Method


  1. Heat clarified butter in a wok on medium high. 
  2. Add crushed cardamoms and stir for 10 seconds till fragrant.
  3. Add the grated carrots and lower the heat to medium. Fry carrots till they are soft and 1/3 in the volume.
  4. Do not leave unattended, you need to stir off and on or carrots will burn.
  5. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir well. in a few minutes you will see carrots will start becoming shiny and translucent. Keep frying until all the moisture has evaporated. 
  6. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of milk powder and keep frying until all is well incorporated. Keep adding more until all is being used. you need to keep cooking until it all becomes like one dough ball. Test for the sugar. If you need more add the remaining half cup and keep cooking until the dough consistency is achieved.
  7. Using a sheet pan lined with parchment, spread the carrot mix and flatten it with a spatula.
  8. Let it cool down for 25-30 minutes and then cut into desired shape. Garnish with almonds or raisins.
  9. Serve at room temperature.




Note:

Carrots have different sweetness depending on the season, that is why it is better to add in steps.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Beef with Berbre




Every culture and country has a spice blend which is used frequently in their every day cooking. Let it 5 spice powder from China, Garam Masala powder from Pakistan, Curry Powder from India, Ras el Hanout from the Arabian peninsua, Xawassh from Somalia. Berbre is an Ethiopian spice blend which uses a number of spices to get the final mix. It is used in Ethiopian cooking like we Pakistanis use garam masala in our our food. Famours curries from Ethiopia are called "Wat". Cooking a 'wat' is tie consuming as you need to caramalize onions in most cases on a low flame. Here is how I incorporated Berbre with a str fried version of beef and served with rice. 

Ingredients



Lean Beef                                    2 lbs bite size pieces
Vinegar                                        1/2 cup
Turmeric                                      1/2 tsp
Berbere                                       1-2 tbsp (its hot so adjust according to your taste)
Salt                                              2/3 tsp
Ghee                                            4 tbsp
Bell pepper cubes                        1/2 cup (I used red)
Onion sliced                                 1/2 cup

Method

  1. Put turmeric and vinegar in a bowl and add beef pieces to it, let it rest for 2-3 hours as vinegar will tenderize the beef. Drain well and keep aside.
  2. Heat ghee in a broad pan and add meat in single layer, do not stir the meat until u see it browning from the bottom. Once the bottom is browned turn over and brown from the other side. Keep browning the meat in batches until all is done. 
  3. Add berbere and salt to it and mix well in the pan and cook for another 3-4 mins.
  4. Add onion and bell pepper and turn the heat off. Cover the pot for 3-4 mins n serve with rice, pasta or bread:)

Berbre Mix


Coriander seeds                 2 tsp
Black peppercorns             1⁄2 tsp
Allspice                              1/4 tsp
Green cardamom                4-6 
Cloves                                4-6
Red Chili powder                1 tsp
Paprika                               2 tsp
Nutmeg                               1 cracked
Ginger powder                    1/4 tsp
Cinnamon powder               1/4tsp

Method

  1. Roast all the spices except red chili and paprika powder till fragrant.
  2. Using a coffee grinder, make a powder. 
  3. Add paprika and red chili powder and mix well. Keep in an air tight container.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Home Made Yogurt



Yogurt is one the healthiest foods rich in calcium and probiotics. I grew up in a a area where buffalo milk is a common choice over cow's milk. Buffalo milk is high in fat content so the yogurt is rich, creamy and thick. I remember my mother making yogurt every night for the coming morning. I use yogurt in many different ways in my kitchen. It is served as a dip, used in marinating meats, cooking curries, as a drink or even as any time snack. Once you try home made yogurt, I gaurentee you will never go back to store bought again.
Here is how I make yogurt at home. Its very easy and does not need any tricks as many people think. All you need is milk and starter yogurt. Starter yogurt needs to be a active bacterial culture and can be bought from any store.

Ingredients


Milk 1 litre
Yogurt 4 tbsp (preferably live culture)

Method


  1. Put the milk in a pot and bring it to a boil. Keep stirring off and on to prevent it from scorching at the bottom.
  2. Once it comes to a full boil, pour it in a any ceramic or glass container. Cover and let it cool down where you can touch it comfortably.
  3. Beat yogurt till a bit creamy and stir in the milk.
  4. Cover and keep on a warm place. In warm climates it would set between 3-4 hours but in colder areas it might take around twelve hours.
Note:

In winters my mother used to cover it in towel/blanket to keep the temperature on warmer side, I normally put it the microwave or oven at night and it is set in the morning.
You can serve this yogurt with fruit or granola as a breakfast.
You can add sugar/ honey or pureed fruit in the milk to get sweet fruity yogurt.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Keema Khara Masala/ Mince Fry



A very easy and quick yet a satisfying dish. It is  versatile as you can use it as is or fill up parthas, rolls, puff pastry or even sandwiches. Mix in an egg and you have got a wonderful breakfast. Choices are just endless. If  you make curries, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry. Good quality of beef is important in this recipe as that is all you would be tasting. Salt and heat is always adjustable according to your personal taste.

Ingredients

Mince                                          2 lbs Lean
Onions                                         2 chopped
Garlic                                           6 cloves
Ginger                                          1.5 inch pc
Green chili                                     3 +3
Oil                                                 3-4 tbsp
Salt                                               1.5 tsp or to taste
Cinnamon stick                             2 inch pc
Black pepper corn                         1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds                             1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds                                  1 tsp
Coriander powder                         1 tsp
Red chili flakes                              1 tsp
Turmeric powder                           1/2 tsp
Almond powder/Almond butter      1 tbsp
Coriander leaves                            for garnish


Method


  1. In a mortar and pestle, crush ginger, garlic, black pepper corns and three green chilies.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add onions, fry for a few mins till soft but don't brown them. 
  3. Add ginger/garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin seeds, coriander powder+seeds and salt. Fry till spices are fragrant about a min or two.
  4. Add mince and break it into pieces with spoon quickly before it changes color.
  5. Fry mince in onion and spice mix till no moisture is left and no pink bits can be seen.
  6. Stir in the almond meal/ butter right before taking it off the heat.
  7. Sprinkle some chopped green chili, coriander and ginger for garnish and serve with chapati or paratha or boiled rice.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Banana Cardamom Bread

We all have bananas lying around the kitchen which have passed the eating stage and no one wants to eat those mushy bananas. This recipe is perfect for those extra bananas. Addition of cardamom makes it very welcoming to your taste buds. Use of whole wheat flour makes it a healthier option as well.

Ingredients


Eggs                                      2 at room temp
Butter                                    3/4 cup at room temp
Bananas                                 2 mashed
All purpose flour                    1 cup
Whole wheat flour                 1 cup
Brown Sugar                         1 cup
Vanilla Essence                      1 tsp
Cardamom powder                1 tsp
Baking powder                      1 tsp
Baking soda                          1 tsp
Salt                                       1 pinch

Method


  1. Preheat the oven at 325 C.
  2. Cream Butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. 
  3. Add eggs one by one and beat well.
  4. Add mashed bananas and mix.
  5. In a separate bowl sift flours, cardamom, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
  6. Add flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture. Mix until all of the flour is incorporated.
  7. Pour in a baking pan and bake for almost 60-70 mins.
  8. Test by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the bread. It should come out clean.

Note:
Add a cup of chopped nuts like almonds or walnuts after incorporating flour for a crunchy and rich taste.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Almond Sour Cream Cake




Almonds are one of our favourite nut. They are high in unsaturated fat which is very good for our healthy arteries and heart. It is a rich source of magnesium, copper a d high quality protein. They are high in fiber which is extremely helpful to have a healthy digestive system. This cake is a cross between a cookie and a cake since it is not very sweet cake but very moist and use of sour cream makes it really light. A perfect match to a warm cup of coffee or tea.

Ingredients  


Almond                         3/4 cup crushed coarsely
Almond meal                 3/4 cup
Eggs                              3
Flour                             1 cup
Sugar                            1 1/4 cup
Butter                            3/4 cup
Vanilla extract               1 tsp
Sour cream                   4 tbsp
Baking powder             1 tsp
Icing sugar                    for the top

Method


Preheat the oven at 350.
Butter and flour a 9 inch pan. spread crushed almonds at the base of the pan.
Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add eggs one by one. Beat well before adding the next egg.
Mix in the sour cream and vanilla extract and beat well. 
Sift the flour and baking powder.
Add the flour to the butter mixture, mix to incorporate but avoid over mixing.
Pour into the prepared pan and spread with light movements keeping the almond base even.
Bake for 35-45 mins.
Check after 35 mins and insert the skewer to check if the cake is done, if not give another five mins.
Invert the cake on cooling rack after taking out of the oven immediately. Cool and dust the icing sugar on top before serving.

Note:

You can toast the almonds before crushing for rich nuttier flavour.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Cinnamon







Cinnamon is a spice found in most kitchens. Whether in a sweet or savoury recipe, it is equally loved. Cinnamon is the outer bark of a tree scientifically known as Cinnamomum, native to the Caribbean, South America, and Southeast Asia.

Cinnamon is categorized in two types:
Ceylon cinnamon which is most commonly used in the Western world. It is lighter in color and is cigar shaped. It is sweeter in taste and is more suitable for desserts.
Cassia cinnamon mostly comes from southern China and is less expensive than Ceylon cinnamon. It is mostly used in South Asian cooking in curries and savoury dishes. It is dark in color and also cigar shaped but has a spicier taste.

Cinnamon has been used by humans since 2000 BC. The first traces of cinnamon being used come from Ancient Egypt. It has been used to treat conditions such as cough, arthritis and sore throats.

Modern research also supports its myriad health benefits. It has been used for stomachaches, colds, runny nose, cough etc. Studies have shown that it helps to control blood sugar levels as well. Cinnamon is a powerful anti-bacterial so it helps to calm down the stomach flu bug. It can be used in powdered form as well steeped in teas.

A word of caution though, coumarin is a chemical substance found in both types of cinnamon. If consumed in high quantities, it can cause liver damage. It has been noted that Ceylon Cinnamon contains lower levels of coumarin as compared to cassia cinnamon. So people with weak livers should consult a doctor before consumption.
Herbal Remedy

Following is a herbal home remedy for cough and cold.

Cinnamon Powder       1 tsp
Honey                         1 tbsp
Ginger juice                 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder         1/4 tsp

Mix everything together and take 1/2 tsp after couple of hours to relieve severe cough.
You can also add a tsp of above mixture to hot water and drink as a tea to ease a sore throat.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Potato and Dill Cutlets




Potato cakes or as we call it potato cutlets comes in many flavour combinations. I is one of the famous snacks at tea time. It has just a few ingredients and very simple to make. Use waxy potatoes to get crispy outside.

Ingredients


Potatoes                          5 cups boiled and mashed
Dill leaves                        1 cup chopped
Salt                                  1-1.5 tsp or to taste
Red chili flakes                 1/2 tsp
Black pepper                   1/4 tsp
Onion                              1/2 cup chopped
Green onion                     3 sliced thinly
Butter                              2 tbsp
Egg                                  1 beaten
Oil                                    for frying

Method


Boil the potatoes until fork tender.
Mash them using a potato masher or use a grater. Do not mash them like mash potatoes, they should have a bit of texture.
Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry chopped onion till translucent around 3-4 minutes. add red chili flakes, black pepper and salt to it and fry for another 30 seconds. Pour it on top of the potatoes.
Add sliced green onion and chopped dill to it and mix well to incorporate everything together.
Form 2 inches discs.
Heat an inch of oil in a frying pan on medium high.
Dip the disc in the beaten egg and fry on both sides until golden.

Note:

If you want to skip eggs, let the cutlets air dry for 15-30 minutes before frying.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Stir Fried Chicken and Shrimp with Vegetables in Garlic Sauce




 Every once in a while, all of us are left with a little bit of this a little bit of that. So thats when I need to figure out how to use everything to clear out the vegetable box in the fridge. You can add whatever you have in your fridge. I have used broccoli, red & orange pepper, onion, napa cabbage, chicken and shrimps. Its a simple stir fry with garlic sauce and I served it with steamed rice. Its a very easy recipe which you can put together in a jiffy. Here is how it goes:

Ingredients


Chicken                             2 cups cubes
Shrimp                               2 cups
Broccoli                             1 head cut into florets
Red bell pepper                  1 cut into strips
Yellow bell pepper             1/2 cut into strips
Napa Cabbage                   1/2 head  cut into cubes
Garlic                                 3 cloves grated
Corn Starch                        1 tbsp mixed in half cup of water
Soy Sauce                          1 tbsp
Salt                                     to taste
Black pepper                      1/4 tsp
Green chili                           2 chopped (optional)
Oil                                      4 tbsp


Method


Marinate chicken with the grated garlic cloves for 10 mins.
Heat the wok till its smoking, pour the oil and swirl around quickly to coat.
Add in the chicken and fry until it changes colour around 3-4 mins.
Take out of the pan and add remaining ingredients one by one in the following sequence: broccoli, peppers, cabbage, shrimp. Fry for a couple of minutes.
Put the chicken back into the wok and add salt and pepper. Pour in 2/3-1 cup of water and soy sauce and bring to a boil.
Once it start boiling, add in the corn starch mix. Once its bubbling, let it cook for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and serve immediately.

Note:

You can add less or more corn starch to adjust the consistency of the sauce.
Use any vegetables you have on hand.








Wednesday, 28 May 2014

My Son's Birthday Cake


May is an important month as it is my elder son's birthday and he a tough client to please. For last couple of years, he has been very specific about his birthday cake from flavours to colours to filling :)
This year demand was for a raspberry filling inside a chocolate sponge with whipped cream frosting. So being the loving mother, it has to be made according to his wish. Its a easy cake with delicious results. Recipe will be in multiple steps for you all to follow. If you have eaten cakes in Pakistan, this is how they taste.

Ingredients


Sponge Cake


Eggs                       3
Flour                      1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp
Cocoa Powder       1 tbsp
Sugar                      1/2 cup
Baking powder       1/4 tsp
Pineapple Juice       1/2 cup
Raspberries            400 gms


Method


Preheat the oven at 350 F.
Prepare an eight inch pan by putting a parchment liner at the bottom and then brushing the sides with butter.
Separate egg whites from yolks.
Beat egg whites till stiff and dry. Now add yolks and beat again.
Add sugar slowly in steps while beating continuously.
Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder to aerate it.
Now add flour and baking powder and fold in the egg mix with a wooden spoon. Do not use beater at this stage.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan.
Put in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 20 minutes till skewer inserted comes out clean.
Wait for ten minutes before taking out of the pan. Let it cool on a rack till it comes to room temperature.


Whipped Cream Ingredients


Whipping Cream                    3 cups
Icing Sugar                             2/3 - 1 cup
Vanilla Extract                        1/4 tsp

Method


Chill the cream  and whip till soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla and keep whipping until you get stiff whipping cream.
Take care not to over whip or you will end up with butter. Keep in the refrigerator.

Assembly


Split the cake through the middle with the help of a serrated knife.
Brush with the syrup on the both sides.
Add a big dollop of whipped cream and spread on the bottom layer.
Add a layer of crushed raspberries.
Put the second layer of the cake on top. Brush with syrup and cover with the whipped cream.
Decorate with the raspberries and serve chilled.


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Sweet and Sour Plum Chutney



Plum chutney used to be an essential on weddings during my childhood and it was one of the things I always looked for :)
This chutney complements biryanis very well. I love to have it with paratha. Easy to to and easy to eat. Anything easy excites me so here comes the recipe.

Ingredients


Dry Plums                     250 gms
Sugar                            1 1/2 cups
Water                           1 cup
Salt                               1/2 tsp
Red chili powder           1 pinch
Black pepper                1 pinch cracked
Cumin seeds                 1/4 tsp
Melon Seeds                 1 tbsp
Sliced Almonds              2 tbsp
White Vinegar               1 tbsp
Green Cardamom         2

Method


  1. Rinse the plums under cold water and add a cup of water to the pan. Let soak for a couple of hours until they are re-hydrated.
  2. Add the sugar and green cardamom and put in on medium flame. Once it starts boiling, add the spices and let cook on medium low for about 10 minutes.
  3. Take off the heat and let it come to room temperature.
  4. Stir in the vinegar, melon seeds and sliced almonds.
  5. Store in an air tight container and refrigerate. It stays good for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Note:
You can reduce the amount of sugar to have more tangy touch to your chutney or add more sugar to get a sweeter one. Nuts and melon seeds are totally optional.
You can add more red chili powder if you like it hot.



Friday, 16 May 2014

Karhi pakora




Karhi is yogurt base curry thickened with chickpea flour. It is a very much liked by one and all. A famous dish specially during the rainy moonsoon days. One the curry is ready, fried vegetable fritters are added which act as a dumpling. And then the curry is tempered with curry leaves and cumin seeds.
It is a delicious dish though needs a little time to cook.
Recipe is in two parts. First one is to make the curry and second part is about making pakoras/fritters. Fritters can be with one vegetable or as many as you want, its totally on your personal choice. I have added many but go with your taste buds here.


Ingredients


For Curry


Yogurt                                   500 gms
Water                                    1500 ml
Chick Pea Flour/Besan          1.5 cup
Onion                                    1
Whole green chilli                  2-3 (Optional)
Tomato                                 1
Garlic                                    1 head
Coriander powder                 1 tsp
Cumin seeds                          1 tbs
Black pepper corn                 1 tsp
Curry leaves                          8-10
Red chilies whole                   2-4
Red chili powder                   1 tsp
Salt                                       to taste
Turmeric                               1 tsp

Method


Blend chickpea flour/besan, water and yogurt in a blender till no lumps. Use a strainer to get rid of any lumps. Pour it into a large pot.  
Put all whole spices in a muslin cloth and tie. Add the muslin cloth and powdered spices to the yogurt mix.
Put the pot on stove on high heat and stir until it comes to a boil. Slow down the heat to medium low and let it cook for 2-3 hours till only 3 quarter of half is left. Take the tied spices out and discard.


Ingredients for Fritter/Pakora mix


Chickpea Flourr/Besan               2 cups
Onion                                         1 sliced
Potato                                        1 sliced thinly in long sticks
Spinach leaves                            2 cups chopped
Egg plant                                    1 cup chopped
Green chilies                               1 chopped (optional)
Salt                                            1 tsp
Chili flakes                                 1 tsp
Baking powder                          1/4 tsp
Pomegrante seeds                      1 tsp  slightly crushed
Coriander seeds                         1/2 tsp crushed 
Cumin seeds                              1 tsp
Yogurt                                       1 tsp
Garam masala                            1 tsp
Dried fenugreek                         1/2 tsp (Optional)

Method


Mix all the ingredients by adding water and achieving the pancake consistency. Mixture should be soft but not watery.
Heat 2 inches of oil in wok/frying pan on medium high. Drop a spoonful of batter and fry until bottom looks brown and crispy. Turn over and cook on the other side. Once golden brown add to the boiling karhi, let its cook for another 15-25 mins.

Ingredients for Tempering


Onions                             1 sliced thinly
Cumin Seeds                    1 tsp
Curry Leaves                   10-12
Whole red chilies              5-6
Oil                                   4-5 tbsp

Method


Heat the oil in pan. 
Add onions and fry till the edges starts turning golden brown. 
Add in the cumin seeds, whole red chilies and curry leaves.
Once the start crackling, pour over the hot karhi.
Serve karhi with steamed rice or chapati.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Banana Walnut Bread



Who does not get bananas going bad. For me, last few bananas always needs to be saved from the trash can. So banana bread is the most favourite way of doing it as it is gobbled down within a day. Its dense and soft interior with slightly crunchy crust is equally loved by adults and children. A perfect accompaniment for a hot cup of coffee or tea and if you omit nuts, its a perfect snack for lunch bags. I have made it in many ways with or without nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and it is always delicious.

Ingredients


All purpose flour                    1 Cup
Whole Wheat flour                2/3 cups
Sugar                                    1/2 cup
Salt                                       1/4 tsp
Bananas                                3
Eggs                                     2
Cinnamon                             1/2 tsp
Butter                                   1/2 cup
Yogurt                                  2 tbsp
Walnuts                                1/2 cup
Baking soda                         1 tsp
Nutmeg                                1/4 tsp

Method


  1. Preheat the oven at 350.
  2. Sift all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Add the yogurt and mashed bananas and mix well.
  5. Incorporate the flour without over mixing.
  6. Mix in the walnuts. and pour into a buttered and lined loaf pan.
  7. Bake in the oven from 50-60 minutes.
  8. Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes before taking it out. Keep on the cooling rack for another 30-40 minutes before slicing.