Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Chocolate Tart For Nava's Blog

It gives me such pleasure to do a guest post on Nava's blog today http://www.nava-k.com  Nava is one of the most prolific bloggers I know and a chance to do a guest post on her blog is indeed wonderful!

This is a no-bake ganache-filled chocolate tart. For the recipe and more pictures, please head over to Nava's blog.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Raita made of bottle gourd

Raita made of grated bottle gourd

Raita...so much a summer accompaniment. Minty or oniony, with cucumber or potatoes, boondi or fried brinjal, a touch of chilli, a dash of coriander, a combination of sweet and sour... Although our evening temperature has dropped by some decent degrees, daytime heat still makes us long for this wonderful creamy concoction. Bottle gourd or lauki is a vegetable that is used in many of our dishes. So much so that you don't even consider doing special with it. But it takes on a whole new avatar in a raita. {Totally my opinion!:)}

Since more than half of a gourd had recently been used in a fish curry, I was left with a quarter of the same. And it was just the right amount for a raita. 
About 200 grams of bottle gourd, grated
2 cups of thick curd
Rock salt to taste
Sugar...you can adjust the sweetness
Whole cumin, about a teaspoon
Chilli powder or flakes
Mint leaves
Cooking the grated gourd on a low flame

Peel the skin of the gourd and grate it. Transfer the grated gourd to a pan and put it on the gas on a medium flame. Do not add any water. It'll cook in its own juice. Keep covered during the first few minutes and then remove the lid. Cook till the last bit of liquid dries up. Let it cool.
Toast the cumin seeds in a pan till they start to crackle and the aroma fills your kitchen. Roughly pound them. Some seeds can be left whole.
Meanwhile beat the curd till smooth. Add the fine sugar and the salt and check the balance. Add the chilli powder, mix then add the cooked gourd. Mix well. Add half of the toasted and ground cumin. Mix again.
Transfer to a serving bowl and decorate with the rest of the cumin and mint leaves, either chopped or left whole in little sprigs.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Star fruit pie

I have often mentioned in my posts about the acidic fruits of our region. You certainly don't want to bake with most of them. The other day as I was picking my star fruits from my potted plant, it dawned on me that I could use it in a pie or a tart rather than only pickles and chutneys. It helped that these fruits are sweet or else the idea wouldn't have come in the first place. I have never tried or tasted star fruit in a baked dish before and I simply couldn't wait to get on with my pastry dough.

The pastry:
200 grams flour, sieved
100 grams chilled and grated 
Two eggs, one for binding the dough and the other to be used later to brush the pie
Instead of water I used mixed fruit juice, about a tablespoon
Grate the butter over the bowl of flour. Mix using your finger tips till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Break an egg into it and knead gently. Sprinkle the fruit juice and let the dough come together. Divide into two portions, flatten and chill in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm for at least thirty minutes.

The filling:
5 star fruits
3 tablespoons of sugar
A quarter teaspoon of cinnamon powder
2 teaspoons of flour

Wash the star fruits and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut the ends and the hard ridges. Slice into even pieces. Remove the seeds from the "stars". Mix about two tablespoons of sugar and leave aside as you roll out the pastry.

Grease a loose-bottomed tart tin (I used an 8" tin) and preheat the oven at 180 degrees C. Roll out the pastry a little bigger than the tin. Place the pastry on the tin and gently press into the bottom corners in the inner side of the tin. With the help of a rolling pin, cut off the extra overhanging dough by rolling the pin over the edges of the tin. Prick the pastry with a fork. 

Add the cinnamon powder and the flour to the fruit and place the sliced fruit pieces in the tin till the last empty space is covered with fruit. The flour will absorb the juices from the fruit and prevent the pastry from being soggy.

Take out the other portion of pastry from the fridge and roll out. Place it on the top of the tin. Remove any overhanging extra dough and crimp the edges. Beat an egg and brush the pie with it before you bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. 

If the top portion of the pie turns brown sooner than the stipulated time, you can place an aluminium foil on top and continue to bake till the golden colour is uniform on all sides. Remove from the oven. Let it cool down to room temperature. Dust the pie with some icing sugar, cut into wedges and serve.

We had two wedges of the pie and loved the taste! It was just the way I like my pies...just a hint of sugar and a lovely taste of the organic, and home-grown fruits. Waiting for the next harvest.....

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Paneer Koftas Stuffed With Apricots

Although the title of this post says that it's paneer with an apricot stuffing, it doesn't really end there. The stuffing I mean. Because the apricots are again stuffed with nuts and raisins. Thinking of this recipe reminds me of lines from a children's riddle...  
There was a little green house/ And in the little green house/ Was a brown house/And in the little brown house was a ... 
This dish is from a Jiggs Kalra (one of India's best known chefs) recipe that I came across in the late 90s and loved it so much that I still find it such a joy to make this dish. This is made with my own adaptations as I did not "save"/keep the newspaper cutting for posterity. But I remember it was such a treat to go through his columns in the weekend supplement of The Telegraph.

1. For the koftas:
   200 grams paneer/Indian cottage cheese, crumbled
   100 grams cheese, grated
   2 tablespoons cornflour
   A quarter teaspoon of pepper powder
   Salt to taste

2. The apricots:
Wash and soak dried apricots ( I used 12 of them) in hot water for at least an hour.Drain and remove the seeds by cutting on one side. Reserve the water. 

3.The nuts and raisins:
Chop up ten almonds into tiny bits. Wash a handful of raisins and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Chop them up. Mix the chopped ingredients and stuff the apricots with the mixture.

In a large bowl, mix the first set of ingredients. Take a lump of the mixture and roll into a ball using your palms. Make a little depression in the centre and place the stuffed apricot in it. Roll between your palms again till any sign of the apricot is concealed with the paneer/cheese mix. Continue till all the apricots and the paneer/cheese mix is used up.

Heat a pan and pour five tablespoons of oil in it. Fry the prepared koftas, a few at a time till golden brown on all sides. Drain on absorbent paper.

4. The Gravy
   2 tablespoons of oil
   2 tejpatta
   2 medium size onions, grated
   1 teaspoon of ginger and garlic paste (fresh)
   1 teaspoon of red chilli powder
   1 teaspoon of coriander powder
   3 tablespoons of tomato puree
   A dash of turmeric powder
   2 tablespoons of cashew nut paste (soak the nuts and grind)
   A quarter teaspoon of garam masala
   About 100 ml of hot water
Heat a pan and pour the oil in it. When it comes to near-smoking point, add the Indian bay leaves and then the onions. Fry the onions till they change colour then add the dry powdered spices. Stir. After a few minutes, add the tomato puree. When the curry comes together, add the cashew nut paste. Add the hot water and also the water left from soaking the apricots. Keep cooking for another five minutes or so. Now gently drop the fried koftas into the gravy. Stir gently and add the garam masala. Remove from the flame, take out and discard the bay leaves and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Alternately you can pour the hot gravy on top of the koftas and let them soak up the liquid for twenty minutes or so before serving. This dish goes very well with Indian flatbreads and Vegetable pulao.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Botvyanchi Kheer

Botvyanchi kheer
I had never tried making botvyanchi kheer before but the October issue of Good Food magazine/India had the recipe and a picture so how could I not make it?! The issue was loaded with festive goodies and I know that long after the festivities are over I'll still be turning the colourful, visually spectacular pages, and heading towards the kitchen...
This recipe serves four but creating the thread-like botve does take some time. Incidentally, the term "botve" is derived from the Marathi word botn which means fingers. This is because the dough made of wheat and milk is shaped like fingers. Botvyanchi kheer is also known as ghavale which originates from the word gehoo (wheat) as dried botve resembles grains of wheat.
Freshly-made botve

To make the botve you'll need:-
5 tbsp atta
Two and a half tbsp milk
Mix and form into dough then take a pinch of the dough between your thumb and index finger. Turn it between your fingers and shape it like a grain of wheat. Drop it on paper placed on a tray. Allow each "grain" to dry at room temperature for a couple of days. You can cover the tray with a thin cloth. After drying, the botve can be stored and used.
The kheer was also made according to the recipe in the magazine. The adaptations I made are given in purple.

The Kheer:-
2 tbsp ghee
4 tbsp botve
6 cups of milk
sugar, according to taste
2-3 cardamoms, powdered
A few strands of saffron 
10 almonds, slivered
A few raisins
Heat the ghee in a pan. Add the raisins and remove the pan off the heat. Stir and remove the raisins as soon as they swell up. Put the pan back on heat and fry the botve in it. Fry for a few minutes till the colour turns light golden. Add the milk. Keep stirring till the botve is cooked. The milk will begin to reduce as you cook. Take a tablespoon of milk and soak the saffron in it. Add the raisins, stir. Then add the sugar, the slivered almonds, and the soaked saffron. Cook for a few more minutes. Add the cardamom powder and check the sweetness. Remove from the flame. The dish can be served either warm or cold.
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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Jam Tarts With Hazelnuts

Going through my jars and bottles the other day I came across a half-finished jar of apricot jam. Not wanting to live with the guilt of not using it up:) I decided to make jam tarts. I used to be hesitant about making pastry earlier...too much work with the dough, I felt. But that has all changed and I find it therapeutic to work on pastry dough now. And feeling a little indulgent, I even blind-baked them with tiny discs of grease-proof paper and baking beans pulses. Maybe it's the festive season, and the weather that's turned kinder, and the fact that we were meeting my siblings and the children to celebrate my niece's birthday....but it was good feeling.

For the dough:
200 grams all-purpose flour
100 grams butter, chilled and grated
1 egg
Cold water, about a tablespoon
Sieve the flour into a large bowl and grate the butter in it. Rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Break an egg into it and mix till it comes together. If it still needs some moisture, sprinkle the cold water and bring the dough together. Divide into two balls, flatten, and keep in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm for at least thirty minutes. I prefer using an egg to bind as the pastry tends to shrink when only water is added.
The tarts:
Grease the tart tins. The butter left on the grater is enough to grease these tiny tins.Take one ball of dough out and roll on a floured surface. Cut into a few discs at a time, a little larger than the tins. Then take out the other ball of dough. It's good when the rest of the dough is in the fridge...makes it easier to roll out. Place the discs on the tins, press on the edges and prick with a fork. Place grease-proof paper on the pastry-covered tins, put the beans/pulses and bake blind in a preheated 180* oven for ten minutes. Then remove the paper/beans and put a teaspoon and a half of jam on each tart, scatter a few hazelnuts and bake till the jam bubbles and the tarts turn golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
Thank goodness I had taken some pictures after the tarts had cooled down. When everyone got together there was not a trace left of them!!!

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