Extra Mature Cheddar, Chive and Pepper Scones

Thanks for the recipe! I had forgotten all about it!

Things I Like to Cook

My mother visited us about a week and a half ago, and we made scones over the weekend to enjoy on a rainy day! We made plain scones as well as these beauties, and since there are enough scone recipes out there, I thought I’d share this one instead!

The cheddar we used was an extra mature Cornish Cracker, and I’d recommend you use something as sharp and flavourful. No point in getting mild or medium cheddar!

Four of my favourite, maddest cousins have asked for this recipe in the last week so more to pacify them than anything else, here’s the recipe! It’s really easy and great fun – and there’s room for you to add your favourite dried herbs and extras. Enjoy with some mustard, pesto, a strong cup of coffee and good company – like your mother 🙂

It just so happened that we made these…

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CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

This dish was apparently created in the restaurants of UK, and is one of the most frequently ordered dishes. Now you can make the same dish in your own kitchen. Mmmmm. It’s a sure winner!

INGREDIENTS:

  1. Boneless chicken – 500 g
  2. Sour cream – 1 1/2 cups
  3. Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp.
  4. Hot paprika powder – 2 tsp.
  5. Coriander powder – 2 level tsp.
  6. Cumin powder – 1 level tbsp.
  7. Garam masala powder – 1 tsp.
  8. Large onion – finely chopped
  9. Oil – 1 tbsp.
  10. Butter – 1 tbsp.
  11. Chopped tomatoes – 4 cups or 1 can of tomatoes
  12. Kasuri methi – 1 tsp.

METHOD:

  1. Cube the chicken into large pieces.
  2. Mix the sour cream, the ginger-garlic paste, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt to taste.
  3. Mix this in with the cubed chicken.
  4. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 2 hours. Overnight would be best.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade.
  6. When you are ready to cook, grease a tray and place the pieces of chicken on it.
  7. Place the tray in the oven and let the chicken cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  8. Chop the onions and tomatoes and keep them in different bowls.
  9. Heat a big wok. Add oil and the butter to it.
  10. Heat the oil and butter for a few minutes, and add the cumin seeds to it.
  11. When they crackle, add the chopped onions to the wok.
  12. Sauté till the onions turn golden brown.
  13. Now add the tomatoes and sauté till the whole mixture softens. Now put in the grilled chicken pieces and mix everything well.
  14. Let the whole mixture bubble gently on low heat for about 20 minutes.
  15. Add the garam masala and mix it in well.
  16. Crumble the kasuri methi between the palms of your hands, and add it to the curry.
  17. Take the wok off the heat.
  18. Top the curry with a tablespoon of sour cream and serve hot with chapatis, naan or basmati rice.

Thai Grilled Chicken

This is a huge favourite of my family. Once you make it and taste it, you’ll know why – it is spicy, tangy and sweet at the same time!

Ingredients:

Spices to toast and powder:

  1. Black peppercorns – 1 tsp.
  2. Coriander seeds – 4 tbsp.
  3. Cumin seeds – 2 tbsp.
  4. Red chillies – 4 to 6

Other ingredients:

  1. Chicken thigh fillets – 1 1/2 kg
  2. Ginger – 2″ piece
  3. Garlic – 8 to 10 cloves
  4. Chopped coriander leaves – 4 tbsp.
  5. Soy sauce – 4 tbsp.
  6. Soft brown sugar – 2 tbsp.
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Lemon juice – 4 tbsp.

Method:

  1. Dry roast the spices till toasted and fragrant.
  2. Cool and powder. Keep aside.
  3. Grind together the ginger, garlic and lemon juice. Mix in a large bowl, the ginger, garlic pastes. the lemon juice, coriander leaves, the spice powder, soy sauce, brown sugar and salt to taste.
  4. Marinade the chicken pieces in this and refrigerate overnight (or at least for 2 hours. The longer it marinades, the better it is going to taste)
  5. Get your barbecue ready. Coals or gas or electric, the choice is yours.
  6. When the barbecue is ready, place the chicken thighs on it.
  7. When the side has cooked (about 15 minutes), turn it over on to the other side and grill, till done and you get some singe marks on the chicken.
  8. Your chicken is ready to be served!

 

The softest idlis possible

Lemon. Chilli. Ginger.

Idlis are a delightful south Indian breakfast. These steamed delicacies are a must in most Tamilian  families, and have found favour in a lot of restaurants serving South Indian food all over the world.
They are 100% vegetarian and vegan too! If you decide to make idlis, you need to plan on it two days ahead.
The following recipe is my mother’s secret one, and it works like a dream!

Ingredients:

  1. Idli rice – 4 cups (This is a special kind of rice found in many Indian stores)
  2. Urad dal – 1 cup (Any urad dal will do, but if you get whole urad dal, skin removed, but the grain in tact, that is the best. This is called “Gota Urad Dal))
  3. Plain rice – 1 cup
  4. Cooked rice – 1 cup
  5. Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp.

Method:
Soak overnight:

Wash and soak all the rice together (except the cooked…

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All Sorts Kuzhambu or Tiruvadurai Kuzhambu

This is my favourite kind of winter kuzhambu. It uses a large variety of vegetables and is delicious with plain rice or parathas. The actual name is Tiruvadurai Kuzhambu, but when I was in school, I named it ‘All Sorts Kuzhambu‘ because it had all sorts of vegetables in it. Living in Europe, I have adapted this kuzhambu recipe to include the vegetables available here. And it tastes just as delicious!

This version is low-fat, so I have included no coconut or jaggery in it. The sweet potato and pumpkin give it a natural sweetness. The end result is delicious! Dieters can eat it without any guilty pangs!

Ingredients:

  1. Sweet potato – 1
  2. Green beans – 1 cup
  3. Zucchini – 1
  4. Red pumpkin or butternut squash, cubed – 3 cups
  5. Pinto beans – 1/2 cup (dry)
  6. Aubergine – 1 cup
  7. Carrot – 1
  8. Tamarind – a lime-sized ball

To dry fry :

2 tsp. sesame seeds

To fry and grind:

  1. Tuvar dal – 1/4 cup
  2. Red chillies – 4
  3. Coconut, grated or in pieces – 2 cups
  4. Oil – 1 tsp.

Method:

  1. Heat a tsp. of oil in a pan.
  2. Add in this order – tuvar dal dal, red chillies, coriander seeds, coconut.
  3. Sauté on medium heat till the dal and red chillies are well fried.
  4. Then add the coriander seeds and the coconut to the pan.
  5. Turn off the heat.
  6. Grind the mixture to a fine paste, adding the sesame seeds as well,  and keep aside.

 

Method:

  1. Soak the pinto beans overnight. Rinse and pressure cook them the next day.
  2. Soak the tamarind in warm water.
  3. Peel the sweet potato and carrots and cube them into 1″ cubes.
  4. Cut the beans into 2″ lengths. Cut the zucchini into 2″ cubes. Cut the aubergine into 2″ cubes.
  5. Put the sweet potato and carrot into a large pot, and cover with water so the level of water is 1″ above the vegetables.
  6. Sauté the aubergine pieces in 1 tsp. of oil, adding 1/4 tsp. salt, until it is half-done. Keep aside.
  7. Bring the vegetables in the pot to a boil. When the vegetables are half cooked, add the sautéed vegetables, the pumpkin, beans, and zucchini in that order.
  8. Add the cooked pinto beans and the jaggery. Let the vegetables come to a boil again.
  9. Add the ground paste. And boil for about 7 minutes.
  10. Season with mustard seeds and a broken red chilli.
  11. Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes.

Serve with rice, ghee, applam and a potato curry.

 

 

Homemade sweet chilli sauce

Ingredients:

White sugar : 1/2 cup

Water: 1/2 cup

Chilli paste: 1 tsp.

Apple vinegar: 1 tbsp.

Crushed garlic: 1/2 tsp.

Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Mix the water and sugar together in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Place it on heat and bring to a boil, until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add the chilli paste the crushed garlic and the salt, and let the whole mixture come to a boil again.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the vinegar and let the whole mixture cool down.
  6. When cool, store at room temperature in a sterilised bottle.

Now the sauce will last for about a month. If you can let it!

Coconut Chutney:

Yummy coconut chutney

Yummy coconut chutney

Ingredients:

  1. Grated coconut – 1 cup
  2. Green chillies – 1 or 2, de-seeded for a milder taste
  3. Asafoetida – 1/8 tsp.
  4. Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Take a medium sized blender jar and put the coconut into it.
  2. Add 1/2 cup warm water, the green chillies, salt and asafoetida to the jar.
  3. Blend till you get a smooth paste.
  4. Taste for salt.
  5. Season with mustard seeds and 1/2 tsp. of urad dal, till the dal is a golden brown. Pour this over the chutney and mix gently before serving.

Herby cream cheese spread

Ingredients:

Cream cheese (unflav0ured) : 200 g.

Chopped chives – 2 tbsp.

Chopped basil – 2 tbsp.

Optional: 

garlic clove crushed – 1

Method:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Place the mixed cream cheese in another container with a well-fitting lid. Shut it and refrigerate immediately.
    Your herby cream Cheese is now ready to be served.

Chickpea and beetroot salad

An unlikely combination, you might think. But it works really well. Ideal for the hot summer we have in store! The tartness of the lemon juice in the dressing cuts through the sweetness of the beetroot and makes this a satisfying and healthy salad option!

Ingredients:

  1. Boiled chickpeas – 2 cups
  2. Parboiled beetroot – 1 large or 2 medium-sized
  3. Purple onion – 1

Salad dressing:

  1. Hot mustard – 2 tsp.
  2. Lemon juice 200 ml.
  3. Honey 50 ml.
  4. salt  to taste

Topping:

Feta cheese – 100 g.

Fresh mint leaves – a handful

Method:

  1. Peel and thinly slice the beetroot.
  2. Salt the chickpeas after they have been cooked.
  3. Make the salad dressing, whisking all the ingredients together.
  4. Thinly slice the onion, salt it and soak it in cold water.
  5. Now you just have to put the salad together.
  6. Take a large bowl. Add the chickpeas, beetroot slices, sliced onions and salad dressing and toss together.
  7. Refrigerate this for about half an hour. This allows the ingredients to get to ‘know’ each other.
  8. Top with crumbled feta cheese and serve.
  9. You can also add 2 tbsp. of fresh, chopped mint leaves. This gives the salad a great pizzaz!

Vegans  just need to omit the feta cheese.

“Instant” Sambar:

 

This is a quick and delicious version of sambar that is best served with idlis or dosais. If you are ever invited for a Tamilian wedding breakfast, you would surely be served this sambar.

But hey, why wait till then? You can make it at home quite easily!

 

 

Ingredients:

  1. Tuvar dal – 1/2 cup
  2. Masur dal – 1/2 cup
  3. Onions – 1 medium-sized one
  4. Tomatoes – 2
  5. Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp.
  6. Sambar powder – 1 tsp.
  7. Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp.
  8. Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp.
  9. Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp.
  10. Fenugreek seeds – a pinch
  11. Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  12. Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Soak the dals in cold water for about 1/2 an hour.
  2. Boil the soaked dal in plenty of water and turmeric powder until soft and mushy. Or you could pressure cook them.
  3. Chop the onion and tomatoes and keep aside.
  4. In a wok, heat the oil.
  5. When hot, add the mustard seeds and the fenugreek seeds.
  6. When all the mustard seeds have crackled, add the onions and sauté until pale brown.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt to taste.
  8. And the curry leaves.
  9. When they soften, add the sambar powder and the asafoetida powder. Sauté for a minute more.
  10. Add the cooked dals and salt to taste.
  11. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat.

Serve hot with idlis or dosais.

The softest idlis possible

 

 

Idlis are a delightful south Indian breakfast. These steamed delicacies are a must in most Tamilian  families, and have found favour in a lot of restaurants serving South Indian food all over the world.
They are 100% vegetarian and vegan too! If you decide to make idlis, you need to plan on it two days ahead.
The following recipe is my mother’s secret one, and it works like a dream!

Ingredients:

  1. Idli rice – 4 cups (This is a special kind of rice found in many Indian stores)
  2. Urad dal – 1 cup (Any urad dal will do, but if you get whole urad dal, skin removed, but the grain in tact, that is the best. This is called “Gota Urad Dal))
  3. Plain rice – 1 cup
  4. Cooked rice – 1 cup
  5. Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp.

Method:
Soak overnight:

Wash and soak all the rice together (except the cooked rice). Make sure the water is about 2 inches above the rice.

Wash and soak the urad dal with the fenugreek seeds.The water level should be 2 inches above the dal.

  1. The next day, take out your blender and get started.
  2. First, add the soaked urad dal with the fenugreek seeds to the mixer jar. Add a little bit of water and run the blender.
  3. Add more water if needed, till the dal is ground to a silky smooth paste. This step is important, as it will determine the softness of your idlis.
  4. Transfer it to a very large container, or divide it among two smaller containers.
  5. Now, in the same blender jar, grind the rices, without adding too much water, just enough to blend the contents of the jar and keep the blender running smoothly.
  6. Grind all the rice this way, dividing the rice among the containers.
  7. Once you have ground all the rice – get mixing. You will need to do this by hand, as the fermentation is much better this way.
  8. Make sure that the containers are not more than 30% full, as you will have to leave room at the top for it to rise.
  9. Leave to ferment overnight in a warm place.
  10. The next morning, the batter would have fermented and will be giving off a lovely smell.
  11. Mix the batter again gently.
  12. Get your idli steamer going. Grease the idli plates well, and half fill with the batter.
  13. Steam over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  14. Now take it off the heat, or switch it off. Rest the idlis for 7 – 10 minutes.

 

Unmoulding the idlis:

  1. Remove each plate of idli from the stand.
  2. Sprinkle with water .
  3. Take a sharp edged knife or spoon, and run it around the edge of each idli, releasing it from its mould.
  4. Stack all the idlis in a container and serve hot with coconut chutney, sambar and ‘molagaipodi’.

From Boston to Budapest : Baked Beans

Baked beans de-luxe (without ANY fat!) Spicy and delicious with all the elements of the canned baked beans that we all love. This is a good dish to have in your refrigerator. You can even freeze some, if you like. I promise you will never buy a can of baked beans again, once you make this recipe! 

 

Ingredients:

  1. Dry white beans – 3 cups (soaked overnight)
  2. Onion – 1 large. or 2 small ones
  3. Tomato purée – 1 cup
  4. Brown sugar – 1/2 cup
  5. Ground pepper – 1/2 tsp.
  6. Paprika – 1/2 tsp.
  7. Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Chop the onion finely.
  2. Boil the beans in a big heavy pot, covering the beans with water by at least one inch.
  3. When they are soft, add all the other ingredients. Do not add salt or sugar before the beans are fully cooked, as this will harden them.
  4. Let everything cook together for another 20 minutes.Taste and add any other ingredients, like salt, pepper or sugar.
  5. Serve with toasted bread, lavishly buttered.

Chana Masala with a home made spice powder mix

This is a fantastic spice mix that I have been using for years. Once you have made and used this powder, you will never again use packaged Chole Masala. That is a promise!

Ingredients:

  1. Coriander seeds – 1 cup
  2. Cumin seeds – 1/2 cup
  3. Cinnamon sticks – 4 one inch pieces
  4. Cloves – 5
  5. Green cardamom – 8 cloves
  6. Black cardamom – 3 cloves
  7. Peppercorns – 1 tsp.
  8. Red chillies – 3
  9. Bay leaves – 2
  10. Dry mango powder – 1/4 cup
  11. Black salt – 3 tsp.

Method:

  1. Heat up a large heavy pan, and add all the ingredients above, except the dry mango powder and the black salt.
  2. Roast them until you get a lovely toasty smell. Cool all the ingredients, and add the dry mango powder and the black salt to them.
  3. Powder the spices finely, and store in an air-tight container. This should last you at least 6 – 8 uses for making chana.

Chana:

Ingredients:

  1. Garbanzo beans – 3 cups
  2. Cooking soda – 1/2 tsp.
  3. Chopped onions – 3
  4. Fresh ginger – 2 inches
  5. Tomatoes – 2
  6. Chana masala powder – 3 level tsp.
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Cooking oil – 2 tbsp.

Method:

  1. Soak the garbanzo beans overnight. Soaking them releases a lot of the elements in the beans that makes them difficult to digest.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans the next day.
  3. Add the cooking soda to them and mix it in well.
  4. At this stage, you could boil or pressure cook the beans till they are soft. Cooking the beans well ensures their digestibility.
  5. While the beans are cooking, finely chop the onions, ginger and tomatoes.
  6. Reserve a one inch piece and slice it thinly into juliennes and keep aside. This will be used used for garnishing the dish at the end.
  7. Heat up 2 tbsp. of oil in a big pot.
  8. When hot, add the chopped onions and chopped ginger and sauté until they turn golden brown.
  9. Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté.
  10. Add 3 heaped tbsp. of the chana masala powder.
  11. Add a little bit of water and cook the it all together.
  12. Add the cooked garbanzo beans and bring to a boil.
  13. Taste for salt, adding more if you’d like. If it is not hot enough, add some paprika powder or chilli powder.
  14. Cover and cook on low heat for about 25 minutes.
  15. Serve garnished with chopped onions, the juliennes of ginger and slices of lemon.

Serve hot with Bhaturas or Puris.

Seven bean and vegetable stew

This dish is rich in protein and spices. The different beans and lentils in this dish are a protein boost for the vegetarian diet. Tasty and healthy in one shot. 

This is a North Indian version of  the South Indian ‘Kootu’. Serve it with rotis or plain rice.

OR you could also serve this as a gorgeous stew with some crusty bread to mop it up.

Ingredients:

To be soaked overnight:

  1. Whole urad or whole moong – 1 tbsp.
  2. Garbanzo beans/ Kabuli chana – 1 tbsp.
  3. Brown Chana – 1 tbsp.
  4. Pinto beans – 1 tbsp.
  5. Whole brown lentils – 1 tbsp.
  6. Black-eyed peas – 1 tbsp.
  7. Split peas – 1 tbsp.

Vegetables:

  1. Cauliflower florets – 6 cups.
  2. Chopped carrots – 2 cups
  3. Green beans – 1 cup
  4. Zucchini – 1, roughly chopped
  5. Onions – 2
  6. Tomatoes – 2
  7. Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp.
  8. Salt to taste.

To be ground to a paste:

  1. Garlic – 2 cloves
  2. Red chillies  – 2
  3. Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp.
  4. Cinnamon – 2 sticks
  5. Cardamom –  5 cloves
  6. Cumin seeds – 2 tbsp.
  7. Khus-khus (white poppy seeds, available in most Indian/Pakistani grocery stores) – 1 tbsp.
  8. Fresh coconut – 2 tbsp.
  9. Ginger – 1 inch

Method:

  1. Soak the beans and pulses together for at least 6 hours. Overnight is best.
  2. Throw away the water it has been soaking in and add enough fresh water to cover it by at least 1 inch.
  3. Pressure cook till soft. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, use a large heavy pot and boil the beans till soft.
  4. Boil all the vegetables till half-done.
  5. Grind all the ingredients in the “To be ground to a paste” list.
  6. Roughly chop the onions and finely chop the tomatoes.
  7. Heat a big pan and add 1 tbsp. oil to it. Add 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds, and when they crackle, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds.
  8. Add the chopped onions and sauté till they turn a golden-brown.
  9. Add the spice paste and fry for another 4 minutes.
  10. Add the beans and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and let it cook together for 5 minutes.
  11. Add the semi-cooked vegetables and the chopped tomatoes. Check the stew for salt.
  12. Cook together for at least 10 minutes more.

Serve hot, decorated with chopped coriander or curry leaves.

Paneer Masala

This is one of my family’s favourite paneer dishes. The list of ingredients may seem quite lengthy, but the end result is worth it. I use milk with cornstarch dissolved in it instead of cream. But you could use cream, if you wish. 

This dish never fails to please and satisfy even the most picky eaters!

Ingredients:

  1. Paneer, cut into small pieces – 300 g.
  2. Tomatoes – 2, finely chopped
  3. Milk – 1/2 cup
  4. Cornstarch – 1 tsp.

To be ground into a paste:

  1. Onion – 1
  2. Tomatoes – 2
  3. Garlic – 2 cloves
  4. Ginger – 1 inch
  5. Cinnamon – 2 pieces, 1 inch each
  6. Cloves – 2
  7. Cardamom – 5
  8. Red chillies – 3 (de-seeded)
  9. Fresh coconut – 1 tbsp.

Method:

  1. Cut the paneer into 1 inch pieces and soak them in warm salty water. This softens the paneer.
  2. Grind all the ingredients in the “To be ground” list. This is your spice paste.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a big wok on medium heat.
  4. Add the spice paste to the wok.
  5. Stir-fry for about 4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes to the paste and let it cook together, until the tomatoes are softened.
  6. Add the paneer pieces to the wok, mix in well, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk, and add to the contents of the wok. Cook on medium heat until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat.

Serve hot with naan or chapatties.

Chicken teen pyaaza

Autumn is a good time to make this dish as there are so many different kinds of onions available. Tweaking the usual recipe; I’ve used paprika, three different kinds of onions, and a simpler marinade. And it was absolutely delicious!

The key factor, I think is the garam masala – made in the last minute and added right away.

Ingredients:

  1. Chicken thigh fillets – 1 kg
  2. Red onions – 1 kg
  3. Purple onions – 2 large
  4. Shallots – 2 large
  5. Tomatoes – 4
  6. Cumin powder – 1 tbsp.
  7. Coriander powder – 1 tbsp.
  8. Turmeric powder – 1 tbsp.
  9. Cooking oil – 2 tbsp.
  10. Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp.
  11. Kasoori methi – 2 tbsp.
  12. Lemon juice – 2 tbsp.
  13. Paprika powder – 2 tbsp or
    Kashmiri Chilli powder – 1 tbsp.
  14. Coriander leaves – to garnish

Garam Masala:

Mace – 1 tbsp.
Cloves – 1 tbsp
Cinnamon – 1 tbsp.
Whole green cardamom – 1 tbsp.
Black cardamom – 2

 

Method:

  1. Cube the chicken thigh fillets. Mix in the lemon juice and paprika powder. Marinade overnight in the refrigerator .
  2. The next day, take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 2 hours before you start cooking. Add the ginger-garlic paste and salt (to taste) to it.
  3. In a small pan, dry roast the mace, cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms till they give out a nice, toasty flavour. Cool and powder finely. This is your Garam Masala.
  4. Peel and finely chop your red onions.
  5. Heat the oil in a big heavy pot. When hot, add the chopped onions to it and sauté till golden brown.
  6. Add all the chicken pieces. Sauté for another 5 minutes. Cover the pan, and set it on medium heat and cook for about 25 minutes.
  7. You don’t need to add any water, as the chicken will add enough liquid to the pot.
  8. While the chicken is cooking, wash and chop the tomatoes into big pieces. Blend them to a fine purée. Keep aside.
  9. Thickly slice the purple onions and the shallots.
  10. At the end of 25 minutes, when the chicken is cooked, add all the spice powders.
  11. Crush the kasoori methi between your palms and add.
  12. Add the garam masala.
  13. Add the tomato purée. Mix well.
  14. Add the sliced purple onions and shallots.
  15. Cover again and cook for another 15 minutes.
  16. Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
  17. Enjoy with naans, parathas or a simple jeera pulav.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

I learnt how to make this from my sister Roopa, many years ago. To this day it is a hot favourite at home, and my son eats this, not just with tortilla chips but also with his omelettes, swearing it is better than ketchup (which used to be his favourite dip!).

You can add as many tweaks as you would like. It’s all a personal choice!

Ingredients:

  1. Fresh tomatoes – 1 kg
  2. Onion – 1
  3. Peeled garlic – 1 clove (optional)
  4. Fresh chilli or jalapeño – 1
  5. Lemon juice /cider vinegar – 2 tbsp
  6. Roasted cumin powder – 1 tbsp.
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Chopped cilantro, basil or oregano – 1 tsp of the oregano, and 2 tbsp of the cilantro or basil.

Note : Remember the dry oregano has a very strong flavour, while the fresh cilantro and basil do not.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade.
  2. Wash and dry the tomatoes. Remove the stalks.
  3. Cut an X on the bottom of each tomato.
  4. Peel the garlic clove (if using), and cut each clove of garlic into small pieces.
  5. Insert each piece into the X cut into each tomato .
  6. Grease a big roasting tin with olive oil.
  7. Place the tomatoes in it.
  8. Peel and cut the onion into big chunks.
  9. Put them in the roasting tin along with the tomatoes.
  10. Put the fresh chilli into the tin.
  11. Drizzle everything with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  12. Place the tin in the oven.
  13. Roast it for about 30 minutes or till the skin blackens and blisters.
  14. Take the tin out of the oven and leave it to cool. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them if you want to. (I usually don’t.)
  15. Get your blender ready. Add the tomatoes (with the garlic pieces in them), the roasted chilli , the roasted onion, the roasted cumin powder, lemon juice or vinegar and salt to taste. Blend to the desired consistency. Taste, adding more seasoning, if needed.
  16. Add chopped herbs or dried oregano, whichever you prefer using. Remember each will lend its own unique flavour to your salsa!

This salsa will last for more than four weeks in the refrigerator.

To make roasted cumin powder:

Put a small pan on medium heat. Toss in 1/2 cup of whole cumin seeds. Toast them till they turn a toasty brown, and give out a lovely aroma. Take off the heat, and cool it. You can now grind it into a fine powder. It makes  a delicious addition to your salsa or any salads or raitas you make! You can store the roasted cumin powder in a jar for months.

Do start off with cumin seeds, not cumin powder. Cumin powder tends to scorch easily if toasted.

Bon appétit!

Dry plum and tamarind chutney

This is another of the chutneys that is used to make bhel puri. The ingredients I have used is a variant on the date and tamarind chutney. This chutney can be used as a dip for a lot of snacks, and a bit of it can also be smeared on a sandwich for extra flavour.

 

 

Ingredients:

  1. Dried plums – 1 cup
  2. De-seeded tamarind – 1 cup
  3. Jaggery or soft brown sugar – 1 cup
  4. Black salt – 1 tsp.
  5. Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp.
  6. Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 tsp.

Method:

  1. Soak the dried plums. tamarind and jaggery in 1 cup of hot water.
  2. When cool enough to handle, put them in a blender jar blend together until you get a thick, smooth consistency.
  3. Heat up a big pot or wok, add 1/2 tsp. of cumin seeds and roast them gently.
  4. Add the blended purée, the salt and roasted cumin powder and bring to a boil.
  5. Let it cook for about 10 minutes on a low heat.
  6. Remove from heat, cool down and store in the refrigerator. You can also freeze a portion of it at this stage.

Paprika Chicken (Paprikás Csirke)

This is a Hungarian dish. Traditionally cooked in lard, but I use vegetable oil. It is extremely simple to make, and absolutely delicious. Serve it with pasta, noodles or rice.

Ingredients:

  1. Boneless Chicken – 3/4 kg
  2. Fresh tomatoes – 3
  3. Onion – 1 large one
  4. Fresh peppers – 2
  5. Garlic – 2 to 3 cloves
  6. Sour cream – 150 ml
  7. Paprika powder – 2 to 3 tbsp.
  8. Vegetable oil – 2 tbsp.
  9. Chicken stock – 500 ml.
  10. Plain flour – 1 tbsp.

Method:

  1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Chop the onions and garlic. Keep aside.
  3. Chop the tomatoes. Keep aside.
  4. De-seed and chop the peppers.
  5. Take a big cooking pot, and heat the oil in it.
  6. Add the onions and garlic to the oil and let them cook till translucent, but don’t let them brown.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes to the onions, add some salt and let it cook down.
  8. Now add the chicken, and the stock. Let the contents of the pot come to a boil.
  9. Add all the paprika, stir.
  10. Lower the heat, cover and cook until the chicken is done.
  11. Add the peppers.
  12. Mix the flour into the sour cream and add this into to your Paprika chicken, and mix it in well. Let the dish thicken for a few minutes, and then turn off the heat.

Ta da! Your Hungarian dish is ready to be served!

Note: If you don’t have sour cream on hand, you could use yogurt.

If you don’t have Hungarian paprika, substitute it with Kashmiri Chilli powder, but use just about 1 tbsp, otherwise the dish will be too hot.

I used my slow cooker to cook this dish, and this works really well, and the chicken gets very tender.

Jo étvagyat, as they say in Hungarian!

Coriander Chutney

This is the ubiquitous green chutney that serves as a sandwich spread, a dip, and is one of the chutneys to accompany snacks like samosas, bhelpuri or tikkis.

This is a favourite chutney / dip in my family. It freezes well, and the ingredients are what you would find in most Indian kitchens.  So here goes! 

 

Ingredients:
Coriander leaves and stalks – 1 bunch
Onion – 1 medium
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Roasted cumin powder – 1 tsp.
Green chillies – 2 (de-seeded if you’d like the chutney to be mild)
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp.
Sugar – 1 tsp.
Salt – 1 tsp.

Method:

Wash the coriander leaves and stalks, and leave to drain in a sieve.
Skin the ginger and cut into small chunks.
Peel and chop the onion.
De-stalk the green chillies, and de-seed them, if you want.
Get your blender jar ready, and add all the above ingredients to it.
Now add lemon juice, salt, sugar and roasted cumin powder. Blend all the contents together, adding a little water, if necessary.
Blend to a smooth paste. Taste for salt, sugar and acidity, adding more if necessary.
Store in a container, and use within a week.
You could freeze some, as this chutney is great to have on hand.

Cous-cous salad

This salad can be made with as many tweaks as you like – vegetarian/vegan/non-vegetarian etc. This is my version of a hearty vegetarian salad, which packs into a lunch-box as a substantial meal.

The salad dressing is my own invention.

Ingredients:

  1. Cous-cous – 1 cup
  2. Stock (vegetable or chicken) – 1 cup
  3. Olive oil – 1 tbsp.
  4. Cooked chickpeas – 2 cups
  5. Mozzarella cheese (in the form of small balls) – 200 g.
  6. Salad leaves of your choice – 2 cups
  7. Cocktail tomatoes – 200 g.
  8. Olives 1/2 cup
  9. Pistachios – 2 tbsp, sautéed in a bit of olive oil, for extra crunchiness
  10. Raisins  – 2 tbsp. sautéed in olive oil till they plump up.

Method:

  1. Heat the stock to boiling point. Stir, and add the olive oil, and then the cous-cous. Let the stock get absorbed by the cous-cous.
  2. Cover and let it sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Wash and roughly chop the salad leaves. Wash the cocktail tomatoes, and remove any stalks that are attached to them.
  4. Drain the mozzarella.

Salad dressing:

Ingredients:

  1. Juice of 2 lemons
  2. Honey – 2 tbsp.
  3. Mustard – 1 tsp.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together  in a jar, cover tightly and shake till well-mixed. You can store the excess in the refrigerator, but do use it up in the next 2- 3 days.

Assembling the salad:

  1. Take a large salad bowl and add the cous-cous.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and then add the salad dressing.
  3. Give it a good toss, cover and keep aside for about 30 minutes.
  4. This salad refrigerates well, so it can be made a day earlier and packed in a lunch-box the next day.

 

Note: If you are cooking the chickpeas yourself, soak 1 cup of dry chick peas overnight in cold water. You can pressure-cook it the next morning with  a pinch of bicarbonate of soda. The bicarbonate helps the chickpeas cook better. Do not add salt before you cook the chickpeas, but only after you take the chickpeas off the heat. This rule applies to all beans and lentils.

If you want a vegan version of the salad, just omit the mozzarella. For a hearty non-vegetarian option, add cooked chicken or any meats you like.

Vegetable Kurma

This is usually served with chappatis in restaurants in South India. It is one of the staples in my home, and can be served with chappatis (my preference) or rice. It is packed with vegetables and is absolutely delicious.

 

 

Ingredients:

For the kurma:

  1. Potatoes – 4 cups,  peeled and cubed
  2. Carrots – 2 cups, peeled and cubed
  3. Shelled or frozen peas – 1 cup
  4. Beans – 1 cup, chopped. (or frozen beans)

For the masala paste:

  1. Onion – 1 large, peeled and roughly chopped
  2. Coconut  (grated or cut into pieces) –  3/4 cup
  3. Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp.
  4. White poppy seeds – 1 tbsp.
  5. Cinnamon – 2″ (5cm) piece
  6. Green cardamom – 5
  7. Fennel seeds – 1 tbsp.
  8. Star anise – 1
  9. Bay leaf – 1
  10. Green chillies – 2
  11. Ginger –  2″ (5cm) piece, peeled and roughly chopped
  12. Garlic flakes – 4
  13. Mint leaves – 1/2 cup
  14. Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  15. Salt to taste

 

Method:

  1. Parboil all the vegetables together with the star anise and bay leaf.
  2. Heat a tsp. of vegetable oil in a big pan.
  3. Add the dry spices to the oil and sauté for a minute. Now add the onion, garlic, ginger and green chillies and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the coconut and remove from the heat.
  4. Add these to a blender, and add 1/2 cup of water to the contents. Purée until fairly smooth.
  5. Add the blender contents to the parboiled vegetables. Add salt and roughly torn curry leaves.
  6. Bring the kurma to a boil for about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot with chappatis.

 

Chicken Kathi wraps

 

This is a delicious snack food to have on the go, from the streets of Calcutta! I was in Calcutta in 1981, when I first tasted these wraps and I still haven’t forgotten them. 

I decided to recreate these in my kitchen. The results were fantastic! I’m sharing these with you now, so you don’t have to go to Calcutta to enjoy these delights.

 

 

The filling:

Ingredients:

  1. Chicken breast or thigh fillets – 500 g.
  2. Onion  – 1
  3. Ginger paste – 1 tsp.
  4. Garlic paste – 1 tsp.
  5. Tomato – 1
  6. Cumin powder  –  1 1/2 tsp.
  7. Coriander powder  –  2 tsp.
  8. Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp. (I use 1 tsp. of Hungarian paprika powder)
  9. Chaat masala – 1 1/2 tsp.
  10. Chopped onion – 1/2 cup
  11. Chopped green chilli – 1
  12. Lemon juice – 2 tbsp.
  13. Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp.
  14. Salt to taste

To serve : Coriander and mint chutney – 1/2 cup

Method

  1. Chop the onion and tomato and keep them aside.
  2. Heat a wok or wide pan.
  3. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onions to the pan, and sauté until they are a pale golden brown.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic pastes. Sauté for a minute, then add the chopped tomatoes, and sauté for a minute until they soften. Then add all the spice powders. Sauté for a further minute.
  5. Now add the chicken pieces to the mixture. Add salt to taste. Cover and cook on medium heat, until the chicken is done. Now uncover the pan and cook the chicken until the mixture is dry.
  6. Take the pan off the heat. Add the chopped onion, coriander and lemon juice, stirring well to incorporate.

 

The Rotis:

Ingredients:

  1. Whole wheat flour or atta – 2 cups
  2. Plain flour – 1/2 cup
  3. Salt – 1/2 tsp.
  4. Water to knead the dough
  5. Dry flour to roll the rotis out

Method:

  1. Mix the two flours together. Add salt to the dry mixture.
  2. Mix in the water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together into a smooth and pliable dough. Coat with 1 tbsp of oil.
  3. Cover the dough, and let it rest for about half an hour.
  4. Heat a frying pan, until it is quite hot.
  5. Now break off a lemon sized ball of the dough, sprinkle it with dry flour, and roll it out fairly thinly. Roll out all the dough this way. Put each rolled out roti on the pan, let it cook for a few seconds until the surface has a few bubbles appearing on it. Turn over the roti with a spatula. Lightly brush the cooked side with some cooking oil, turn it over, doing the same on the other side. Cook all the rotis this way, stacking them up once cooked.

Assembling the Kathi wraps:

  1. Take a roti and lay it flat on a plate.
  2. Put some of the filling in the centre.
  3. Top with some coriander and mint chutney.
  4. Now roll the roti, turning up one end, so that you get an enclosed wrap, like a burrito.

Enjoy!

Basil Pesto

This is a great way of using up basil, if it grows in your garden. Every summer I plant basil in the garden, and make my own pesto. I freeze some for use during the year, and it is a burst of melody, reminding one of the warm summer months.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  1. Fresh Basil leaves – 2 cups, packed
  2. Almonds, blanched – 1/2 cup
  3. Garlic – 2 cloves
  4. Olive oil – about 1/2 cup
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
  6. Freshly grated parmesan cheese – 1 cup

Method:

  1. Wash and drain basil leaves.
  2. Peel and chop garlic.
  3. Put the almonds and garlic in the blender. Pulse till finely puréed.
  4. Now add the rest of the ingredients to the blender, and blend till you get a smooth purée.Check for taste, adding more salt, if necessary.

You can now bottle the pesto and put it in the refrigerator. It will last for about 2 weeks this way.Cover the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil. This will prevent it from oxidising, and going ‘off’.If you are storing the pesto in the freezer, do not add the cheese while preparing it, as cheese does not freeze well.

How to use fresh coconuts

How do you deal with breaking a fresh coconut in today’s modern kitchen?

The coconuts you find in supermarkets these days do not have the tuft of fibre on top, which actually extends their shelf-life, so you really need to know how to proceed.

The first step, is to buy a good coconut:

  1. Shake the coconut. If it sploshes around, that is a good sign.
  2. Then make sure that the eyes of the coconut are not discoloured, or the coconut is not cracked or leaking from anywhere.If it is, this is a sure sign that the coconut has gone bad. So just leave it alone on the shelf!
  3. Make a ring between your index finger and thumb. Strike the coconut firmly with the nail of your index finger. If it makes a sweet ‘ping’ sound, the coconut is probably good! Head to the cash counter, pay and leave.
  4. Do not leave your coconut aside for too long after this – break it the same day or the next.

 

Breaking the coconut:

Equipment you will need: a heavy, sharp-edged hammer, and a bowl to collect the ‘water’ once the coconut is broken.

  1. Hold the coconut under a faucet for about 30 seconds. Now keep it aside for about 10 minutes.
  2. Have a bowl ready to collect the water. Now, strike the coconut firmly around its ‘equator’ with the hammer. You will need to do this several times.
  3. Once the shell is cracked, collect the water carefully in the bowl that you’ve kept aside. It makes a delicious drink! Split the coconut into two halves. Now, for the next step, chopping the coconut!

 

Chopping the coconut:

All you will need right now is a sharp knife to cut the coconut, and a plate to collect the pieces in.

  1. Place a coconut half over a plate, and hold it so the inside is visible.
  2. Make an incision in the coconut, till the knife touches the shell. Prise out the cut piece.
  3. Make several sharp incisions like this till all the fruit is collected on the plate.

You can now use the fresh coconut right away, or freeze it.

Chettinad Chicken Curry

This is a fiery chicken curry from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. The Chettiars, who live here, were traders, and travelled far to ply their goods. Therefore, their cuisine has influences from all over the world, so you will find spices from the far east, like star-anise, in the recipes from here.

 

 

Ingredients:

  1. Chicken – 1 whole chicken (or 1 kg. chicken pieces)
  2. Poppy seeds – 4 tsp.
  3. Grated coconut – 1, or 2 cups desiccated coconut soaked in 1 cup hot water.
  4. Fennel seeds – 2 tsp.
  5. Coriander seeds – 3 tsp.
  6. Cumin seeds – 2 tsp.
  7. Whole red chilies – 6-8 (de-seeded, if you like it less hot)
  8. Cinnamon – 2″ stick
  9. Green cardamom – 6
  10. Cloves – 6
  11. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp.
  12. Onion, large – 1
  13. Ginger, chopped – 4 tsp.
  14. Garlic, chopped – 4 tsp.
  15. Star anise – 1
  16. Tomatoes, medium – 3
  17. Lemon – 1
  18. Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  19. Fresh coriander to garnish – 2 tbsp.
  20. Oil – 2 tbsp.
  21. Salt to taste

 

Method:

(I cook this in my slow cooker, so the chicken gets really tender)

  1. Clean, cut and skin the chicken.
  2. Finely chop the onions and tomatoes.
  3. Heat 1 tsp. of oil in a big, wide pan.Roast the whole red chilies, grated coconut, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds to the oil, and grind to a paste along with ginger and garlic.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and fry the onions till golden, then add curry leaves and the ground paste and sauté for  5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and turmeric powder and sauté.
  6. Add the chicken, mix and cook for 5 minutes and then add 2 cups of water.
  7. Cover and cook till the chicken is done. Add lemon juice. Garnish with coriander leaves.
  8. Serve hot  with boiled rice or any Indian breads.

The best-ever Lemon Rice

This is a light and refreshing dish. And it goes with a host of side dishes – from chicken curry in coconut milk, to a cool cucumber raita – to deal with a hot day. Serve with some appalam, and you will have a great meal. And no, Sam and Sid, lemon juice is not a bright yellow in colour. You have to add a bit of turmeric powder to give it the characteristic yellow! The addition of raisins to the dish gives it the sweet-sour punch that is so-o-o delicious!

 

 

Ingredients:

  1. Cooked rice – 4 cups
  2. Lemon juice – 100 ml. (I prefer fresh lemon juice)
  3. Black mustard seeds – 1/ tsp.
  4. Chana dal – 2 tsp.
  5. Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp.
  6. Peanuts (unsalted, and with the skin on) – 2 tbsp.
  7. Raisins – 2 tbsp.
  8. Chopped ginger – 1 tbsp.
  9. Green chillies – 2 (deseed and chop)
  10. Curry leaves – 2 sprigs(chopped)
  11. Asafoetida powder – 1/4 tsp.
  12. Oil – 2 tbsp.
  13. Chopped coriander leaves – 1 tbsp.
  14. Salt to taste

 

Method:

  1. Cool down the rice, adding 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil and salt, gently mixing it all together.
  2. Take 1 tbsp. oil in a big, wide pan or wok. Sauté the peanuts till they are golden brown. Remove from heat, and keep aside.
  3. Add the raisins to same oil and sauté till they are plump. Remove from heat, and keep aside.
  4. In the same pan, add the mustard seeds and once they have finished spluttering, add the chana dal.
  5. Add in this order : asafoetida powder, turmeric powder, green chillies, chopped ginger and chopped curry leaves.
  6. Now add the rice (with the salt and oil in it). Mix everything together on a low heat. Turn off the heat, and add the lemon juice.
  7. Now add the coriander leaves, if using.

This is a great dish to take with you while travelling, as it is dry and doesn’t spoil easily.