Friday, 13 April 2018

Labneh dip with garlic and za'atar

Recipe adapted from here
Labneh- 1 cup (I used Greek yoghurt)
Salt- to taste
Mint leaves- 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Pistachios- 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Olives- 1 tbsp, pitted and finely chopped
Za'atar spice- 1 tbsp
Garlic powder/ granules- 1 tsp
Chilli flakes- 1 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil- 4 tbsp
Pomegranate arils- to sprinkle on top

If using Greek yoghurt, transfer it to a muslin cloth, squeeze out as much water possible and keep it hung for about an hour or so to grain the whey and get really thick curd. 
Add enough salt to the labneh and keep aside.
In a bowl mix together the mint leaves, pistachio, olives, za'atar, garlic powder, chilli flakes and olive oil till well combined.
Spread the labneh on to a flat plate, so its about 1/2 inch thick and spoon the topping over as evenly as possible and letting the oil drip around the sides.
Garnish with pomegranate and some mint leaves if needed and dig into it with oven toasted pita bread or crisps.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Oats upma

Recipe adapted from here
Oats- 1 cup
Ghee- 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp to drizzle
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Dried red chillies- 2
Cashew nuts- 1 tbsp (optional)
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Onion- 1 medium, finely chopped
Green chilly- 1 large, roughly chopped or slit
Ginger- 1 tbsp, crushed and finely chopped
Green beans- 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Carrots-1/4 cup, grated or finely chopped
Green peas- 1/4 cup (I used frozen ones)
Desiccated coconut- 1/4 cup (optional)
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste
Water- 2 cups (refer notes)
Coriander leaves- 1/4 cup plus enough to garnish
Dry roast the oats in a pan for about 4 to 5 minutes, on medium heat and stirring continuously. The oats should be slightly crisp. Keep aside.
Into the same pan melt the ghee and splutter the mustard seeds.
Add the dried red chilly, cashews and curry leaves and saute till the cashews turn a light golden colour.
In goes the onions, ginger and green chillies. Cook till the onions become soft, they need not become brown.
Stir in the beans, carrot and green peas, add enough salt and cook covered. You don't need to add any water to cook it, just the steam would do. It wouldn't take more than 5 minutes, of course depending on how finely you have chopped the vegetables.
Open the lid and add the desiccated coconut (if using) followed by roasted oats and turmeric powder. Mix well.
Pour 1 cup water and mix the oats, wait for the oats to absorb all of the water and then add the second cup, give a good stir, check for salt and add if needed and cover and cook till most of the water is absorbed.
If you do find that there is still a bit of water, open lid and cook it off.
Add a generous dollop of ghee and sprinkle the coriander leaves and give one final mix.
Garnish with remaining coriander if needed and serve warm with pickle or chutney.

Notes: I actually hate oats with a vengeance but was pleasantly surprised at how nice this tasted.
You can of course skip the ghee and make it in any vegetable oil of choice.
The 2 cups of water i used gave me a mushy upma. We like it that way but if you prefer a drier version, then reduce the water to say 1 1/2 cups. 
Its best to eat it as soon as its cooked as it clumps up to a mass if not.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Pepper chicken

Recipe adapted from here
Chicken with bone- 700gms, skinless, cleaned and cut into medium pieces
Coconut oil- 3 tbsp
Coconut cuts/pieces- a handful
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Ginger garlic paste- 1 1/2 tbsp
Onions- 2 medium, finely chopped
Salt- to taste
Green chilly- 1, slit
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Meat masala- 1 1/2 tsp (any meat masala of choice)
Freshly ground pepper powder- 2 tsp
Tomato- 1 medium, roughly chopped + 1 tsp tomato paste
Coconut milk- 1/4 cup (thick)
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves- a handful, finely chopped
Heat oil in a wok and add the coconut cuts and curry leaves.
Saute till the coconut turns light brown. Dont burn them.
Add the ginger garlic paste and cook on medium heat till the raw smell disappears.
Throw in the chopped onions, salt and green chilly and cook till they turn light brown. Keep stirring in between.
Stir in turmeric powder and meat masala, followed by freshly ground pepper. Add a splash of water if you feel the pan is too hot and the masalas will burn. I did add a splash of water here.
Add the diced tomatoes and the tomato paste along with a generous splash of water. Mix it all together and cover and cook till the tomatoes break down and turn mushy and oil starts resurfacing.
In goes the chicken, mix it into the masala, trying to coat the pieces as much possible.
Cover and cook, making sure to keep stirring in between. 
You do not need to add any water as the chicken would give out enough water. 
Add the coconut milk and keep cooking without the lid, till the gravy almost gets coated on the chicken pieces
Do a taste test for salt and add if needed.
Finally, sprinkle the garam masala and give a final mix.
Stir in half the coriander leaves, transfer to a serving dish and garnish with remaining coriander leaves.

Notes: We found that it was very spicy in spite of reducing the pepper powder. So reduce further if you cant handle the heat.
I have also made a curry version of this, by adding 1 1/2 cups of water once the chicken is partially cooked, as in after all the water from the chicken has already come out. Bring the curry to a boil and then add the coconut milk at the end.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Kerala fish curry with coconut milk

Recipe adapted from here
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King fish/ seer fish- 500 gms cleaned and cut into small curry pieces. Its ok if they are slightly larger steak pieces as well.
Coconut oil- 2tbsp (use any refined oil, but coconut oil makes a world of a difference)
Shallots- 10 to 12, peeled and halved
Ginger- 1 inch piece, peeled
Garlic- 6 to 7 medium size pods, peeled
Green chilli- 1, add more if you would like the curry to be spicy
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tbsp
Fenugreek powder- a little less than 1/2 tsp
Tomato- 1 medium, finely chopped
Malabar tamarind (kudampuli)- 3 medium
Thinned out coconut milk- 2 cups (refer notes)
Thick coconut milk- 1/2 cup

To temper
Coconut oil- 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Shallots- 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder- a generous pinch (optional, but imparts a nice flavour)
Soak the tamarind pieces in 1/2 cup warm water.
Coarsely grind together the shallots, garlic, ginger and green chilli or crush them all together using a pestle and mortar. Dont make it into a paste.
Heat oil in a kadai and throw in the ground shallot mix along with a curry leaf sprig.
Cook on medium heat till they dont smell raw anymore and the onions have caramelised slightly. They dont need to brown.
Add the turmeric, coriander, kashmiri chilli and fenugreek powder. Add a dash of water and cook for about a minute or so.
Throw in the diced tomato and cook till they turn mushy and the oil begins to surface around the sides.
Pour in the tamarind along with its water, the thinned out coconut milk, enough salt, and bring to a boil, covered.
Once it boils, add the fish slices, give a gentle mix and cover and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or till they are cooked through.
Open lid and add the thick coconut milk. Swirl the pan. Dont mix with a ladle as the fish slices may break. 
Boil for a few minutes on medium heat and then turn off the heat. Dont heat the curry a lot after you've added the thick coconut milk, as it could change the taste of the curry, or split.

In another small pan, heat the coconut oil to temper/
Add mustard seeds, let it crackle, followed by cumin seeds and curry leaves.
Stir for a few seconds and add the shallots and turmeric powder. Saute till they turn slightly brown.
Immediately pour over the fish curry. Swirl the pan, and keep covered till ready to eat.
Best had with steamed rice.
Notes: If using coconut milk from a can or coconut cream, remove 1/2 cup of thick milk/cream and to the rest add enough water to make it 2 cups. Stir well and then add to the curry. This is the thin coconut milk. The 1/2 cup kept aside is to be used at the end.
I gently nudge the tamarind between my fingers before pouring it into the curry so that the juices get released a bit. I also pass this through a sieve to catch any mud or sediment from the tamarind.
I also remove 2 of the tamarind pieces from the curry after its done, as i find they end up being too sour if left in there. You can of course leave them in there if you prefer it that way.
Curry is not spicy, add green chilli accordingly.
The curry can be left at room temperature for a day or so. Reheat on low heat before using.
Needless to say, the curry tastes best the next day or even the day after.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Ethiopian Berbere chicken wings

Recipe adapted from here (serves 4 as part of starter, serves 2 as part of mains)
Chicken wings- 1kg, I used niblets without any skin
Runny honey- 2 to 3 tbsp
Lemon wedges- to serve (optional)

Berbere spice mix
Cardamom- 8,. Discard the pods and keep the seeds, around 1/4 tsp of seeds (read notes)
Coriander powder- 1 tsp,
Chilli powder- 2 tbsp (I used Kashmiri chilli powder, if you dont have that, use mild paprika)
Garlic granules/ powder- 2 tsp
Fenugreek powder- 1 tsp
Cumin powder- 1 tsp
Ginger powder- ½ tsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- 1 tbsp, to brush on tray (I used oil spray)

Mayonnaise- 2 tbsp
double cream- 2 tbsp
Yoghurt- 1/4 cup
Lemon juice- 1/2 tbsp
Salt- to taste

Into a spice jar throw in all the ingredients for the berbere spice mix and grind to a fine powder.
Marinate the chicken wings as evenly as possible, with the spice mix and keep covered in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1hr. Can also be kept overnight in the fridge.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 170C and line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
Spray/brush the foil with oil and tip the chicken wings on to the tray.
Cover with another piece of foil and cook for about 20 minutes.
Take it out of oven, turn the wings over and cook for another 20 minutes.
While the wings are cooking make the dip by whisking together all the ingredients. Do a taste test and adjust salt accordingly.

Remove the tray from the oven and change the setting to broil/grill mode.
Brush the wings with half the honey, or you can even toss the wings in a bowl with the honey. I found that brushing it was easier.
Place the tray back in the oven, but without the foil covering and grill for about 6 to 8 minutes.
When the time is up, turn the wings over and brush with remaining honey.
Watch the wings carefully while grilling as some grills can be really powerful and may burn the chicken, in which case, reduce the cooking time.
Check that the wings are cooked, caramelised and slightly sticky
Remove from oven and serve hot with the dip and lemon wedges.

Notes: The cardamom flavour stood out a little too much for me, so maybe ill reduce it a bit next time.
The original recipe called for chilli flakes, but since i was using a slightly spicy version of Kashmiri chilli, i didnt add the flakes. 
The reason my wings are more red is because of the Kashmiri chilli.
The honey here doesnt lend an overpowering sweet flavour, but just enough to know its there. If you refer it more sweet, brush with more honey.

Italian Easter Bread

Makes 6
White bread flour- 390g, plus more if needed
Active dry yeast- 2 1/4 tsp 
Salt- a pinch
Granulated sugar- 95g 
Eggs- 2
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Butter- 80g, melted
Milk- 295ml 

To decorate
Egg white, for egg wash
Red food colouring, or colour of your choice
In the bowl of a free standing mixer throw in the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Mix well
Melt the butter in the milk, either in a saucepan or in the microwave. Don't boil it, warm it just until the butter melts. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast
Beat the egg into the flour mix followed by the vanilla and milk and butter mix. Give a stir to roughly mix it. Put on the dough hook and knead on medium for about 7 to 8 minutes
If you find that the dough is still wet, add some flour, bit by bit, till the dough starts pulling off the sides of the bowl
If you don't have a mixer, then follow all the steps and knead the dough by hand on a floured work surface until pliable and no longer sticky. This might take around 10 to 12 minutes
Transfer the dough into a greased bowl, loosely cover with a cloth or cling film and leave to prove for about 2 hours in a warm place or until it doubles in size. I usually keep it in an oven at about 20°C and it works
While the dough is proofing dye the eggs. Dilute the food colouring of your choice in warm water and gently place the egg in it. I used a brown egg, so lighter colours like pink and yellow wouldn't show, so I used red. Let the egg stay in the solution for at least an hour. The longer it sits, the stronger the colour.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down lightly and transfer on to a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes and divide the dough into 12 pieces
Roll each piece to form a rope around 1 inch in thickness and pair them up in two. Pinch the edges and twist them to form a braid of sorts and bring both the ends together to form a circle
Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper and place the dyed egg into the centre of the circle. Keep aside to proof for another hour or so. When ready to bake, do an egg wash on the braided dough and spread the sprinkles on top
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Bake in the oven for about 22 minutes or until the bread is golden in colour. Cool on racks before slicing.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Mutton fry

Mutton/lamb/goat with bone- 500 gms, cleaned and cut into small pieces

To marinate
Yoghurt- 2 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tsp
Chilli powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste

Coconut oil- 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 2 large sprigs
Onions- 1 large, thinly sliced
Garlic- 5 to 6 pods, roughly chopped
Green chilli- 1, chopped (optional)
Freshly ground pepper- 1 1/2 tsp
Fennel powder- 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves- a handful. finely chopped
Marinate the meat with all the ingredients in the marinate section. Refrigerate overnight or at least keep aside for an hour.
Cook in a pressure cooker with about 1/4 cup water till done. It took me about 20 minutes on medium heat.
Open lid, and if there is a lot of water, place it back on high heat and evaporate most of it. Dont dry it completely.
Keep aside.

Heat oil in a kadai and add the mustard seeds
When they start to crackle, add the curry leaves, onions, garlic and green chillies and saute till the onions turn golden brown.
Add the cooked mutton along with the juices and stir it all well with the onions.
Add pepper powder and fennel powder and give a good mix.
Roast on medium heat till the meat is coated with all the gravy, making sure you keep stirring in between so it doesnt stick to the base of the pan.
Do a taste test and add salt if required.
Throw in a generous amount of coriander leaves, give one final mix and close and keep till ready to serve.

Notes: The dish is on the spicier side, so omit the green chilli and reduce the pepper powder if you want it milder.
You can do the same prep with beef as well.
The fish freezes well, thaw at room temp and then saute with a bit of oil.