Friday, February 28, 2014

Eggplant & Cheese Dish

Eggplants or brinjal, as they are commonly known in India, must be next to potatoes when it comes to popularity. We have them in quite a variety of ways: fried in chickpea batter with a sprinkling of spices, roast them and mash them or add them to curries. But I also enjoy having them wrapped in a filling of cheese and raisins with a light sauce of tomatoes. 
My tiny backyard patch has three plants and one looks promising (see the plant in the collage). And this recipe needs just one of a medium-sized vegetable as they are thinly sliced so it's enough to feed three to four people.
The collage shows in a clockwise direction...a) the plant with the fruits b) the sliced vegetable c) the rolled veggies on a bed of tomatoes d) being fried after dipping them in beaten egg.

I had baked a focaccia bread and had some of it with the eggplant dish. The picture below shows the same dish I had made about a month ago using cheese slices.

1 medium-sized eggplant
1 egg, beaten
Salt to taste
Olive oil to fry
Grated pepper
3 tomatoes, grated
100 grams tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
3 cubes of cheese, grated (I used Amul)
A handful of raisins (wash and pat dry with a kitchen towel)
  •  Slice the vegetable using a mandolin slicer. Season with a touch of salt.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan. Dip the eggplant slices in the beaten egg and fry till nearly done.
  • Remove and keep aside till they are cool enough to handle.
  • Take one slice of eggplant and place a teaspoon of grated cheese and a few raisins. Roll it up. Repeat with the rest of the fried slices.
  • In the same pan, pour some more oil (if it is necessary), add the garlic and then the grated tomatoes. Fry till almost done and then add the puree.
  • Season with coarsely grated black pepper but not salt as the cheese will take care of that.
  • When the tomatoes are nearly done, place the rolls in the pan, scatter with the remaining grated cheese and cook for another five minutes or so. Take the pan off the heat when the cheese starts to melt. The dish is now ready.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hung Curd Tart


And the sun finally made an appearance today after what seemed like February going backwards. To celebrate the occasion I made a hung curd tart. The weather was such that moving about from point A to B wasn’t a punishment to self from the elements.;) Coming back to my dish, this was inspired by reading some wonderful blogs and also watching the episode on Polish cuisine on Food Safari. That show also included sernik, a cheesecake enclosed in pastry with a latticed top. Although I omitted out the last bit as I used left-over pastry after making pumpkin pie, this experience will surely find me baking one with a lattice top soon. I love using nasturtiums in my pictures as they brighten things up and they last only a season. I might soon be looking for the last bloom and finding one withered and shrivelled I might not be able to use it in my photos. Before that possibility looms large I’m bringing it on.:)

 But the rain was good for my plants particularly this potted strawberry. I have two of them but the other one hasn't flowered as yet. I hope I'll be able to use some of the fruit in my recipes.

The curd was hung for 24 hours till none of the whey dripped any more. As the day was cold I left it outside (not in the fridge).
2 cups of hung curd
2 eggs+ 1 yolk
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1tsp grated orange rind
2 tbsp cornflour
15-20 raisins
Icing sugar to dust the tart

~Roll the pastry and place it on a greased loose-bottomed tart tin. Butter a round piece of silver foil a little bigger than the rolled-out pastry. Place it on the pastry dough with the buttered side downwards. Place the baking beans and bake in a preheated 180 C oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and the beans and bake for another ten minutes or till the pastry is golden brown. Remove and cool.
~To prepare the filling transfer the hung curd to a large bowl and whisk till the consistency is smooth. Beat in the eggs and the yolk. Add the sugar, the vanilla extract, the grated lemon and orange rind. Fold in the cornflour and lastly add the raisins.
~Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake at 170 C for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
~Remove from the oven, cool and dust with icing sugar before cutting into wedges.
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chicken Curry With Colocasia

Chicken curry with colocasia

The winter chill hasn't quite left us and the weather's good for rustic wholesome curries. The other day I made chicken with colocasia. I have posted the one I made with smoked pork earlier. Here the tubers look like eggs. The regular garnish is serrated coriander, coriander, or ginger leaves. I used spring onions and there was a refreshing twist to the dish.
The silk cotton trees
February is also the season when the silk cotton trees bloom. With the birds coming to feed in large flocks it's a delight to be near the tree during this season. Sadly there are no silk cotton trees near where I live. In the collage, the picture on the left was taken last year and the one on the right was taken a few days ago on a cloudy, gloomy day. Coming back to the rustic curry, here's the recipe.

400 grams colocasia
750 grams of chicken with skin
2 tomatoes, cut lengthwise
2 large onions, coarsely grated
2 teaspoons of chilli powder
A quarter teaspoon of garlic/ginger paste

A quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder
A teaspoon of coarsely grated black pepper
A tablespoon of coriander powder
3 tablespoons mustard oil
About two cups of hot water
Herbs for the garnish

~ Heat a pan of water. Let it come to boiling point then add the colocasia. Let the tubers cook for 5-6 minutes. Take one out and check to see if the skin can be removed easily. If so, then drain, cool and remove the skin from the tubers.
~Cut the meat into bite-size pieces.  
~ Heat the mustard oil in a pan. When it comes to smoking point, add the onions. Fry for a few minutes and add the meat.  
~ Add the other spices, the tomatoes, and continue to cook with the lid on till the oil separates. Keep stirring in between. This will take about 25 minutes. Then add the colocasia. They needn't be cooked for too long because of the previous boiling. Stir gently. Overcooked colocasia can turn mushy.  
~Add about two cups of hot water. Cook for another five minutes or so. You can check the gravy again and increase the amount of water. Tubers are after all, thickeners.

~ Chop the herbs and garnish the dish. (I prefer using ginger leaves but I used spring onions as there are no ginger leaves during this season. The rhizomes are planted around this time of the year and it'll take two months or so before I can use the leaves for garnishing my dishes).

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Indian Jujube & Prune Tart

 The much-loved fruit, Indian jujube, is widely available during this time of the year. Whereas the ones in my home state are acidic, the ones that come from the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are sweeter. Our ones are best suited for pickles and sweet and sour chutneys. The taste of this fruit reminded me of the kairi tarts I had made last summer and I decided to make one today. The flesh is crisp and not at all acidic and the smell is fragrant. The fruit comes in various shapes. Some are small and round, some are oblong but the ones I used looked more like small apples.

I used a small tart tin so a handful of prunes and four of the Indian jujube were enough for a small tart. The picture below is of an apple tarte tatin that I made the other day. The pastry dough that remained from this tart was used for today's tart.

For the pastry:
200 grams all-purpose flour, sieved
100 grams chilled butter
A tablespoon of iced water

Transfer the flour to a large bowl and grate the chilled butter on to the flour. (The butter that remains on the grater can be used to grease your tart tin later). Rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. At this point sprinkle the iced water and bring the dough together. As soon as that is done, divide the dough into two parts, form into balls and flatten. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least thirty minutes. Although sweet tart recipes generally call for the addition of sugar to be mixed into the dough, I usually omit this step. The sweetness from the tart is enough.

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll on a floured surface. The size should be a little bigger than the tin. Now roll the dough on the rolling pin and gently unfold/unfurl on to the tin. 
Press into the corners and if the dough has been rolled wide enough the edges can be tucked back inside the tin so there's a double layer of the edging. 
Chill the rolled out pastry for twenty minutes then bake blind (with baking beans for 15 minutes). Remove the beans and bake for another ten minutes till the pastry is a golden brown.

The filling:
I took a handful of prunes, tore them and scattered the pieces on the bottom of the pastry. Then I mixed two eggs and one yolk with 150 ml cream and whisked the two together with 5 tbsp of sugar. Four of the jujubes were grated and added to the egg/cream mixture. About ten almonds were sliced and scattered on the top of the tart before it went into a preheated 180C oven where it baked for thirty minutes. The power went off twice during the baking period or else my tart should have ended up looking better than this.

However I was happy with the taste. I love baking with fruit and using Indian jujube is a first for me. Certainly this isn't going to be my last! It was on a spur of the moment thing. I had gone with my husband to the local fruit market (Sunday happens to be the only day when he's free) and the sight of the fruit made me think of tarts, and more tarts!
I hope you enjoyed going through the recipe. Thank you for stopping by today. Hope you connect with me on Facebook and *Like* my page as well!:)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dragon Arctic Roll (Inspired by Jamie Oliver)

Food shows are what I watch most of the time. The other day I saw the one where Jamie Oliver makes a Dragon Arctic Roll. I was so fascinated by the dish that I even dreamt about it that night. My younger son was home for a few days and this was what I made for him yesterday. I'm not including the recipe here. The link here doesn't leave out any details and I followed the same.
The stages of the roll

 The collage above shows from top, clockwise: creating the marble effect on the sponge, rolling it while still warm, spreading jam on the sponge, and putting blobs of chocolate and vanilla ice-cream before rolling and putting in the freezer for three hours.
There was no strawberry jam in the supermarket that I usually go to so I used mixed fruit jam. Before the sponge is rolled, a crunchy bar is crushed and added. I was concentrating so much on the other components that I forgot to add that ingredient! Luckily I also found strawberries at the local fruit market. They weren't very sweet but looked good on the plate along with the black grapes. And although the roll wasn't round enough, the effort was worthwhile as we all loved the taste!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Orange Cake With Gowardhan Gulab Jamun Mix

Time for afternoon tea and it's an upside down orange cake!
This cake was inspired by a lunch at my friend Smita's place. It wasn't regular cake flour or all-purpose flour that she used but a packet of Gowardhan gulab jamun mix for the cake in the trifle pudding. The menu was Mexican with enchiladas, rice, chicken, salad, a corn dish with cauliflower puree instead of using white sauce. Every dish was a delight. But it wasn't just lunch for me because I came back with a haul. And that consisted of Italian basil plants, chives, lemon grass, a packet of Gowardhan mix and light corn syrup. One good thing about food blogging is that relatives and friends want to give me extras from their stock since they know I'll be putting them to good use!:)

Muti-coloured bougainvilleas in bloom at Smita's place

Smita lives in a house with a spacious garden. It's always a treat to walk around her garden. The picture above shows the path leading towards the backyard. More bougainvillea here and a couple of flowering weeds on the flower bed. No wonder the butterflies come in amazing numbers! There's always something interesting like the kite's nest across the pond and the huge hive that the bees left behind. As we sipped our juice and snacked on delicacies, a the vivid blue of a kingfisher flashed past and a mongoose was busy going around its business....
I took pictures of some of the fruits of the season. Seen above are (left) custard apple and (right) star fruit. Coming back to the cake, I loved the taste in the trifle pudding.
Smita's orange souffle and trifle pudding
With the imminent end of the orange season, I'm using the fruit like there's no tomorrow!! And what better than an upside down orange cake with the zest, the juice and sliced oranges? I used half of the mix (the packet is of 200 grams), three eggs, about 80 grams of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of baking powder, two oranges for the topping, the juice of one whole orange, a teaspoon of orange zest, and a tablespoon of yoghurt. I used an 8" round cake tin. The only thing I had to be careful was that the mix tends to brown faster than regular flour. A piece of foil placed on top of the cake tin took care of the browning.


The cake, as with all citrusy cakes was moist and delicious. I couldn't resist taking the cake upstairs on my terrace and photographing it against the (almost) setting sun. The sky this afternoon was a beautiful orange.
 Meanwhile I hope the basil, chives, and lemon grass do well in my garden. As I type this, Smita and her family are in the city of Sochi in Russia for the Winter Olympics. Her son-in-law Shiva Keshavan is the first Indian to compete in Luge at the Winter Olympics. He's the fastest Indian on ice and the youngest ever Luge Olympian in the world. I wish him all the best. May he do our country proud!

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Savoury Cake With Prunes, Pistachios & Cheese

Savoury Cake
I have made savoury muffins before but seeing Rachel Khoo bake a savoury cake on her show My Little Paris Kitchen got me hooked to such cakes! And why not? I'm cutting down on sugar and it helps that not-sweet-cakes are more interesting as more ingredients go into them. The range can be an endless variety! Although this particular recipe called for goat's cheese, I went ahead with what I had in my fridge, the regular Amul cheese cubes. Unfortunately we don't have access to variety when it comes to cheeses in our region. So substitute, substitute...

This is Rachel Khoo's recipe.
250 grams plain flour
150 grams soft goat's cheese cut into small pieces
100 grams prunes, roughly chopped
80 grams pistachios, roughly chopped
1 tsp baking powder
4 free-range eggs
150 ml olive oil
100 ml milk
50 grams plain yoghurt
1 tsp salt
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 500 gram loaf tin with baking paper.
In a bowl mix together the flour, goat's cheese, prunes, pistachios, and baking powder.
In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until pale and fluffy in colour.
Then gradually use the oil, milk, and yoghurt. Add the salt and black pepper.
Fold the flour mixture into the whisked eggs.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
Bake until a metal skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. This may take about 30-40 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin.
I couldn't photograph the whole cake as more than half of it was gone before I got a chance to take a picture!!

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