Monday, December 5, 2016

Cauliflower Baked Upside Down With A Fish Filling

Cauliflower baked upside down
One of my recent posts had a cauliflower that was baked in white sauce. With cauliflowers in season now, they are made so often. One thing about seasonal delights is that you want to make the most of them and team them up with everything possible in recipes. A cauliflower baked whole is a constant feature on my winter table. And when one mentions cauliflower, other winter vegetables that instantly spring to mind are: peas, hyacinth beans, radishes, lai (a variety of brassica) and broccoli. Elders often mention the fact that vegetables bathed in dew taste so much better.
Blanched and ready for the filling
For this recipe, I used a cauliflower that was on the smaller side. It weighed 360 grams. After the stalk and leaves were removed, I washed it and blanched it in a pan of boiling salted water. It remained there for about 5 minutes on one side and for a few more minutes on the other side. A knife inserted in the centre offered some resistance but that was all right as the baking would take  care of that.
Fish with bones and skin discarded
Instead of using just the white sauce, I used two fish fillets. I had some boal fish/helicopter catfish and it's easy to discard the bones from this kind of fish. Then they were lightly mashed. This was from a recipe I had seen in a cookery book years ago. The recipe had minced lamb but I thought fish would be a nice version. As it is, teaming up cauliflower with fish in a curry is a favourite recipe in our region. And using the same combination in a baked recipe should surely taste good!
Upside down and it's easy to fill it up!
The fish fillets were cooked in very little water. Just enough for the skin to come off easily and the bones to be discarded. The weight of the fillets was 160 grams. To this I added a large onion which was peeled, chopped and fried with a touch of salt and pepper. For the sauce, I made it the same way as in my other cauliflower post.
Sauce poured, cheese scattered. Dots of butter and she's ready to go...
Grease the baking pan with butter and pour a ladle-ful of the sauce. Put the blanched cauliflower upside down. Take spoonfuls of the fish/onion mixture in the spaces between the florets. Since the vegetable is upside down, there is more space for any kind of filling to 'cling' to. Gently prise open the space where two florets meet and add the filling. Then pour the sauce on top, add grated cheese and dot the vegetable with butter. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 30 minutes or till the cheese turns golden on top.

This is a lovely side dish that goes so well with either rice or rotis.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Gatte Ki Sabji

Gatte ki sabji
Today's recipe comes from the north western state of Rajasthan, a state known for its history, kings and palaces, and food that is unique to the region. I have visited the state twice and that was years ago. A road trip in 1999 covered 12 major cities and the food was always a pleasure to dig in to. Most parts of the state is arid so Rajasthanis use more pulses and cereals in their diet. This recipe uses Bengal gram flour and gatte means cooked gram flour dumplings.
Every home must have a slight variation in their recipes. I have made this dish several times but this is the first time that I'm blogging about it.

Ingredients:
1 cup besan/Bengal gram flour
A dash of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Ghee
Curd
A large pinch of kasuri methi(dried fenugreek leaves)

Chilli powder
Turmeric powder

For the gravy: 
1 large onion, peeled and grated
A pinch of hing
A quarter tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
A pinch of turmeric powder
Red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala paste or powder
1/2 cup thick curd, beaten till creamy
1/3 cup tomato puree
A large pinch of kasuri methi
Ghee as needed
 
Gatte ki sabji

First of all make the dough. Place the besan in a bowl. Add the rest of the things mentioned under "Ingredients" and make the dough. I did not write down the measurements for ghee and curd. It could vary between a tablespoon or two for both ingredients. It should be just enough to bind the dough.
Take off equal pieces from the ball and roll them into cylindrical shapes. Heat water in a pan and place the cylinders of dough. Cook till they come to the surface. You can check with a skewer. If it comes out clean, the dough is ready.
Take them out with a slotted spoon and place them on a chopping board.
Slice them into equal pieces.
Heat some ghee in a pan and fry the pieces in batches till slightly golden brown. Continue till all the pieces are fried. This is optional. I did it this time. Usually I cook them straightaway. Now I think I prefer the fried version.:)
In the same pan, throw in the hing and cumin seeds. 
Add the onions and cook till they turn translucent. Add the rest of the spices and cook till it comes together.
Add the tomato puree. Add about half a cup of water and let it come to a boil.
Reduce the flame and and add the beaten curd. The fried gatte can go in now.
Let the sabji simmer on a low flame for about 5 minutes or so.
Add the garam masala and crush the kasuri methi and sprinkle over the dish.
Before serving, garnish with chopped coriander.
This goes best with roti.
Gatte ki sabji

This is a dish that is usually made without onions and garlic. Not that you can tell by looking at this picture. This was a no-onion version where I did not add turmeric either. But it was still good!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Curried Cauliflower Stalks & Leaves

Danthal/Curried cauliflower stalks

With a lot of cauliflower eating sessions, there's plenty of stalks/stems left over. With the tender leaves, I usually add them to most dishes that have cauliflower in them or to curried potatoes. But sometimes I save them to make a dish that includes only the stalks where I also throw in the leaves. This is also a way of treating ourselves to essential fibres.

Ingredients:
300 grams cauliflower stalks and leaves
2 medium onions, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A small piece of ginger, peeled and grated fine
1 tsp coriander powder, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp cumin powder, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp fenugreek powder
A quarter tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
A quarter tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
4 tbs mustard oil
A few coriander leaves/sprigs for the garnish
For the tempering...
Cumin seeds
2-3 dry red chillies
2 Indian bay leaves/tejpatta
Danthal/Curried cauliflower stalks

Method:
Cut the stems into even pieces. Remove the hard and stringy outer cover of the central stalk with a paring knife. Cut into the same size as the stems.
Rinse in several changes of water to get rid of any soil or grit.
Soak the vegetable in warm water as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Drain the stalks in a colander then heat the oil in a kadhai. 
When the mustard oil comes to smoking point, throw in the cumin, red chillies and the tejpatta.
Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Fry till the mixture turns a little pale in colour.
Add the drained stalk/leaves and cook till they turn softer. Add the rest of the spices except the garam masala. Season with salt.
Add about a little less than half a cup of water and continue to cook till the stalks are done and the water dries up. I like the stalks to have a bit of bite to them.
Add the garam masala, give it a good stir and remove from the fire.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with coriander leaves.
This is a lovely side dish that goes well with rice and dal.
 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Baked Cauliflower In White Sauce

Baked cauliflower in white sauce

The end of the year means cauliflower season. Like most vegetables, the first ones usually go into fish curries. Actually most new vegetables (of the season) usually get cooked this way. Later, other recipes follow. Today I made a side dish that we have with either rice or rotis and that's a dish in its simplest form ... baked cauliflower in white sauce.
I usually cook in a jiffy and forgot to take some of the exact measurements but I'm sure all of you reading this usually don't cook with a measuring cup for dishes that has been cooked a zillion times!:) In such cases 'about' becomes a very useful word!

Ingredients:
1 medium cauliflower, stalk and stems removed
Salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
Knobs of butter
4 cubes of Britannia cheese, grated
A dash of red chilli powder
For the sauce:
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp butter
A drizzle of vegetable oil
About 400 ml milk
Baked cauliflower in white sauce

Method:
Wash the cauliflower in running water.
Heat a pan of water, enough for the cauliflower to be submerged in it.
Bring it to the boil, add a teaspoon of salt and the cauliflower.
Let it cook till a knife inserted into it meets no resistance. 
Turn it once during the process. But the cauliflower must not be too soft or mushy.
Remove from the pan and set aside as you prepare the sauce.
Heat a pan and drizzle it with oil. This is simply to prevent the butter from burning.
Add the butter and the flour. Keep stirring till the raw smell goes off.
Pour the milk and keep stirring constantly till the mixture thickens. If it becomes too thick, just add some more milk and stir well.
Remove from the stove and add half of the cheese, pepper and chilli powder. Mix well.
Dunk the cauliflower in this sauce upside down. With a spoon, pour the sauce in the spaces between the florets.
Take a baking dish and grease it with butter. Place the sauce-drenched cauliflower (not upside-down now) on the dish.
Pour the remaining sauce on top of the vegetable. 
Scatter the grated cheese on top and dot the surface with butter.
Bake in a preheated 180C oven for about 25-30 minutes till the vegetable turns golden brown.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Goat Meat Pie With An Olive Oil Pastry Crust

Goat meat pie
Goat meat pie with a cucumber/tomato/ starfruit salad
It's the season of meaty pies!:) Meat tastes so much better when the weather turns kinder and this pie is about celebrating the season! With meat pies I have used mainly chicken and pork and the thought of using goat meat never occurred to me. But the show on Destination Flavour (SBS Food) had a pie that was so beautiful that it has always stayed on my mind. I finally got around to making it yesterday but not in the same kind of mould or crust. I did away with butter and made an olive oil crust for the pie. I have been looking online for crust ideas and finally got one that I thought would work well for me.

The crust:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
A quarter tsp salt
1 tbs freshly grated black pepper
Water as needed (not chilled)
Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the oil and mix till it gets crumbly. Add the water and bring the dough together. Shape it into a ball, flatten it and chill in the fridge after wrapping it in clingfilm.

The filling:
450 grams goat meat (I used the leg portion with bones)
4 carrots
1 head of garlic
1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and crushed
5 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
2-3 Indian bay leaves
2 sticks of cinnamon
5 dried apricots
1 tsp red chilli powder
A quarter tsp freshly grated black pepper
1 tsp jerk chicken spice
1 tsp roasted and ground cumin powder
1 tsp roasted and ground coriander powder
A pinch of nutmeg (this was grated on top of the pan)
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
About 1 tbs cornflour

Heat the oil in a deep-bottomed pan. Fry the meat chunks for 6-7 minutes turning them once or twice. Remove them from the pan and set aside. In the same oil add the onions and cook till they turn a little pale.
Add about a litre of water.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the carrots and the cornflour.
Cook on medium flame for a couple of hours.
About 20 minutes into the process, remove the garlic and squeeze out the pulp into the stew. Discard the peel.
Scrape the skin of the carrots. Add them about 15 minutes before you take the pan off the flame. By this time the meat should be falling off the bone when you check it.
With the help of tongs, remove the chunks of meat.
Place a sieve on a pan and empty the contents into the sieve.
Remove the chunk of ginger and the apricot seeds.
Use the back of a ladle to mash the contents so that the sauce below the colander becomes thicker.
Put the gravy in a pan and cook on a low flame till slightly reduced.
Mix a bit of cold water to the cornflour and add this to the gravy.
Switch off the flame and set aside.
As soon as the meat cools down, start shedding it into pieces. Discard the bones.
Chop the cooked carrot into discs and add them to the thickened gravy.
Add the shredded meat as well and give it a good mix. The filling is now ready.
Take out the chilled pastry dough and roll out. I used 4 ramekins and both the dough and the filling was just enough.
You could grease the ramekins with more oil but I skipped this part. 
Place a circle of dough in a ramekin and press the bottom, both in the middle and the edges. Prick all across with a fork.
Add the filling till the rim of the ramekin. Roll out another circle of dough and cover the filling with it. Before covering it, wet the edges with water.
Press on the edges and use a fork to make a pattern as well as to tighten the seal. Make four small cuts on the surface for steam to escape.
Continue with the other three ramekins. Brush with egg yolk and bake in a preheated 180C oven for about 40-45 minutes. 

Pastry dough made with olive oil turned out to be well-behaved and easy to handle. My only regret is that I should have rolled out the dough a little thinner. But as for the filling, there are no regrets. I kept throwing in a whole lot of ingredients to the pan and the smells that wafted around the house was wonderful. But it worked and if I make goat pie again, I'd love to make it this way. The apricots added a hint of sweetness that tasted so good.
The simple salad of cucumber, tomato and starfruit slices teamed up very well with this pie.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Beetroot Salad With Labneh & Dried Cranberries

Beetroot salad with labneh & dried cranberries
Beetroot salad with labneh & dried cranberries
With all the gorging that happened in the last week of last month, I am including more helpings of salads in my meals. With the micro greens, it's a tussle between the sparrows and I. This year the pecking is frenzied and I wish they hadn't developed a taste for brassica!;)
Whereas the sparrow population in many parts of the world has been greatly reduced, they are doing very well in our area. But I wish they would leave my newly-sprouted plants alone! Coming to the salad, can anything with beets look anything other than gorgeous??
The idea was to use up the beets and a bit of labneh but I remembered the jar of dried cranberries so those got added too. Labneh is something that I make quite often because I like to slather that creaminess on my rotis and parathas.


Here's a collage from my earlier posts. And a link to the recipe http://blendingflavours.blogspot.in/2013/10/labneh.html

Ingredients: 
2 beets, roasted in the oven for about 45 minutes
A mix of greens
8-9 balls of labneh
A handful of dried cranberries
Roasted almonds
Roasted walnuts
For the dressing:
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs honey 
A touch of salt 
Sugar to taste
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil ( I used the oil where the labneh balls were dunked in)

Method:
Peel the beets and slice them into thin roundels. I used a mandolin slicer. 
Arrange them on a platter and pour a bit of the dressing over them. I prefer to do this with beets as it tends to get messy if you mix them with your hands.
Arrange the micro greens on the platter. Do the same with the nuts.
Place the labneh balls all around. Take the dried cranberries and place them on the labneh and scatter the remaining ones on the platter.
Pour the dressing over the salad.
Drizzle with more oil left over in the labneh jar. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Motichoor & Cardamom Mousse


Happy November! Our Diwali concluded with my niece's birthday yesterday. With all the gifts that came by way of sweets, I kept some motichoor laddoos aside for this mousse. I had seen the recipe (in a now defunct BBC Good Food magazine/India) a couple of years ago and didn't quite like the idea of a fusion dessert. But rather than have the laddoo in laddoo form, particularly after all that gorging session, this does make a lovely variation.
For the uninitiated, motichoor is made of fried chickpea batter. The batter is passed through a slotted spoon and is fried in ghee. These little fritters known as 'boondi' are then soaked in sugar syrup and made into balls. That orange hue comes from the addition of orange food colour. Motichoor laddoos are very popular and is a part of all festivities.
Ingredients:
100 grams salted biscuits (I used Monaco)
25 grams butter, cubed
200 ml cream (I used Amul)
2 egg yolks
5 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp gelatin
Cardamom powder made from 2 pods (only the seeds were used)
3 motichoor laddoos
A few toasted and sliced almonds and pistachios
Sabayon made with two yolks
Method:
Crush the biscuits into powder and mix with the butter.
Divide this mixture into 2-3 jars. Press with the back of a spoon and chill in the fridge till set.
Whip the cream till soft peaks form and chill it.
Make the sabayon by whisking the egg yolks and the sugar over a double boiler. Whisk until the yolks are light and foamy.
Soak the powdered gelatin in warm water.
Mix the gelatin liquid to the sabayon and add the cardamom powder to it.
Fold the whipped cream into this mixture.
Pour the mousse over the biscuit base in the refrigerated jars.
Chill for another hour.
Crumble the laddoos and scatter on the surface.
Garnish with the prepared nuts. Serve chilled.

The sweet laddoos combined with the salty biscuits makes an interesting combination. My regular 'guinea pigs' loved this fusion dessert!