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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spaghetti and meatballs

Here's another Italian pasta dish. Well, not exactly Italian. Originally, pasta and meatball recipe was conceived by Italian-Americans around the year 1920. It uses the long form of pasta called spaghetti. This is my very first trial and it came out to be an absolute winner, reminds me of a restaurant in New York, where I had it a few years back. The original version uses beef, I have used mutton here.

Meatball -
Minced mutton - 400 gms
Chopped garlic  - 1 tbsp
Grated cheese (Gouda) - ¼ cup
Bread slice - 2 thick, soaked in milk for a minute and then squeezed
Egg - 1, lightly beaten
Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
Coriander leaves - ¼ cup, chopped
Oregano - ¼ tsp
Lemon zest - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1 tsp, freshly ground
Oil for shallow fry
Salt to taste

Tomato sauce -
Red ripe tomato - 9 medium sized
Extra virgin olive oil - 2 tbsp
Garlic - 4-5 cloves, minced
Basil - ½ cup
Red chilly flakes - 1 ½ tsp
Salt to taste

Spaghetti - 350 gms
Rosemary fresh or dried
Parmesan cheese


Take minced mutton in a large bowl, add rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly with your hands (DO NOT squeeze the mince). Let it stand for 5 minutes. Then, make balls out of them, roughly of size 1 to 1 ½ inch.  Place the balls in a tray, cover with cling film and place it in the refrigerator for around ½ hour. Heat a pan over high flame, add oil for shallow frying. Fry the meatballs in batches until they a brown on all sides. Set it aside on an absorbent paper.

Cut the tomatoes into half, remove most of the seeds using your fingers. Then cut them into quarters. Heat the oil in a pan, add garlic and the chilly flakes. Saute till the garlic gives off its aroma. Add tomatoes and cook on a high flame till the sauce thickens. With the help of a wooden spoon mash the tomato as much as possible. Add roughly chopped basil and salt. Cook for another 10 minutes. Roughly run the hand blender for ½ minute in the sauce to smooth any tomato chunks. Now add the meatballs, coat them nicely in the tomato sauce. Lower the heat, cover the the pan and cook for about 20 minutes.

Cook spaghetti in abundant boiling water (add salt to the water) till done. Also add may be a 1 tbsp of oil into the boiling water. Drain the pasta, drizzle some olive oil into the spaghetti.

Pour a generous serving of the meatball sauce over the spaghetti, sprinkle rosemary and grate some Parmesan.

Chocolate Muffin

Plain flour - 200gms
Cocoa powder - 25 gms
Baking powder - 1 tbsp
Ground cinnamon - 1 tsp
Caster sugar - 115 gms
White Chocolate - 125 gms, broken into small pieces
Eggs - 2
Sunflower oil - 80 ml
Milk - 220 ml

Icing -
White chocolate - 100 gms
Water - 4 tbsp
Butter - 50 gms
Icing sugar - 350 gms

Preheat oven to 190º C. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin paper cases. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and cocoa into a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and white chocolate to it and stir nicely.

Take the eggs and oil in a bowl and whist until frothy, then gradually whist in the milk. Slowly stir into the dry ingredients until just blended. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until, filling ¾ full. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until well risen. Leave it to cool for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, break the white chocolate into a small heat proof bowl, add water, butter, and set the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water until melted. Stir until smooth and leave to stand over the water. Now add the icing sugar and beat until smooth and thick.

Top the muffins with the icing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vegetable Biryani

This dish is dedicated to all my vegetarian friends. This dish is surely a strong contender for its meaty counterpart and is an absolute winner on flavours.

Rice -
Basmati rice - 4 cups
Cloves - 3
Cinnamon - 2"
Cardamon - 4
Shahi jeera - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Saffron - two pinch soaked in 100ml warm water
Cashew nuts - ¼ cup, chopped
Almonds - ¼ cup, chopped
Salt to taste

Masala -
Oil - 4 tbsp
Cloves - 4
Green cardamon - 4
Black cardamon - 1
Mace - 1
Cinnamon - 2"
Shahi jeera - 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1 ½ tsp
Biryani masala - 25 gm
Fried onion - 2 large finely sliced
Green chilly - 6 diagonally sliced ½" chunks
Coriander leaves - 1 cup, chopped
Mint leaves - 1 cup, chopped
Curd - 2 cups, whisked to creamy texture
Cauliflower - 1 ½ cup, large flower
Paneer - 200 gms, cut into 1" cubes
Carrot - 225 gms, cut into ½" thick and 2 ½" long strips
Soya chunks - 1 ½ cup, soaked in warm water, cut into half (squeeze the water off)
Potatoes - 2 large, ½" thick and 2 ½" long strips
Salt to taste

Atta Seal-
Atta dough to seal the biryani vessel

In a large flat surfaced vessel, heat some oil. Saute the dry masala (cloves, green and black cardamon, mace, cinnamon). Once the flavour have been infused into the oil, add shahi jeera, ginger garlic paste. Saute till the garlic gives off its aroma. Now add all the vegetables except the soya chunks and paneer. Let this cook till the vegetables are 70% cooked. Add some salt. Now add half of the coriander and mint and green chillies, biryani masala. Cook  for a minute. Add ½ of the curd followed by panner and soya chunks. Mix thoroughly and cook cook for a minute or two. Keep this aside.

In a large vessel, boil abundant water, add salt, add the dry masala (cloves cardamon, shahi jeera). Add rice and cook till the rice is 70-80% cooked. Drain the excess water.

Heat another thick bottom vessel, put half of the vegetable masala. Add curd and the nuts (cashew nuts, almonds), adjust the salt. Now sprinkle ¾ of the fried onion on top of the masala. Evenly spread ½ of the rice on top of this. On top of this, spread the rest of the masala and the fried onion. Cover this with rest of the rice, sprinkle coriander & mint leaves and the saffron water.

Seal rim of the vessel with atta dough and cover the lid. Cook on high flame for 5 minutes, then 15 minutes on low flame.

Serve the briyani with onion raita.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pasta with Tomato & Basil Sauce

An excellent choice for a holiday brunch. I cooked this today and the family just loved the flavours. My daughter couldn't resist the taste, ended up with a sparkling clean cutlery :).

Red ripe tomato - 6 medium sized
Pasta (Penne rigate) - 250 gms
Extra virgin olive oil - 2 tbsp
Basil - ¾ cup
Garlic - 4-5 cloves, minced
Red chilly flakes - 1 tsp
Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Cut the tomatoes into half, remove most of the seeds using your fingers. Then cut them into quarters. Heat the oil in a pan, add garlic and the chilly flakes. Saute till the garlic gives off its aroma. Add tomatoes and cook on a high flame till the sauce thickens. With the help of a wooden spoon mash the tomato as much as possible. Add roughly chopped basil and salt. Cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat, roughly run the hand blender for ½ minute in the sauce to smooth any tomato chunks.

Cook the pasta (I used penne rigate here, but you could use any other pasta that you can get hold of) in abundant boiling water (add salt to the water) till done. Also add may be a 1 tbsp of oil into the boiling water. Drain the pasta, drizzle some olive oil into the pasta and mix it well with the sauce.

Serve with grated parmesan and sprinkle rosemary lightly over the top.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Crispy Golden Fried Prawns

For the marinade -
Prawns (big/tiger) - 6 
Lemon Juice - 1 tbsp
Black pepper powder - ½ tsp
Salt to taste

For frying -
Almonds - ½ cup, peeled and ground to bread crumb consistency
Bread crumbs - ½ cup
Egg white - 1
Oil for deep frying

Sweet chilly dipping sauce -
Ginger - 4cm, finely sliced (julienned)
Green Chilly - 2, de-seeded (julienned)
Light soy sauce - ½ cup
Sesame oil - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Groundnut oil - 2 tbsp

De-vein the prawns, mix along lemon juice, salt and pepper. Marinate it for around 30 minutes.

Coat the prawns one by one in the corn flour, pat the prawns to remove any extra corn flour. Dip into the egg white and coat it with almond and bread crumb mixture. Deep fry on high flame for ½ a minute and then on a low flame fry till golden brown.

For the dipping sauce - Mix all the ingredients except the groundnut oil, whisk it nicely. In a wok heat groundnut oil, once it is hot enough, carefully add the mixture into the oil. Take it off the heat.

Enjoy crispy golden fried prawns with oriental dipping sauce.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Kaju Katli

Water - 200 ml
Sugar - 400 gms
Cashew nuts - 400 gms
Pistachio - 50 gms, chopped

Coarsely grind the cashew nuts into bread crumb consistency.

Heat water and sugar in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and cook till sugar forms a 3 string consistency.

In another thick bottom vessel, mix together the sugar syrup and ground cashew. Cook on a low flame stirring continuously till the mixture is thick and glossy. Switch off the gas, and mix ¾ of the pistachios, let the mixture cool.

On a greased surface, slightly knead the cashew mixture to form a ball. With a rolling pin flatten like thick chapatti (½ cm thick). With a pastry cutter, cut into diamond shapes. To garnish, sprinkle the rest of the pistachios over the cut kaju katli. You could also use the silver warq on the kaju katli.

Galouti Kabab

The very famous Lucknowi cuisine Galouti Kabab, was originally conceived for the toothless Nawab of Lucknow. So delicate that it just melts in your mouth.

For the marinade -
Minced mutton - 350 gms
Raw papaya paste - 3 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp
Salt to taste

For the masala -
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Saunf - 3 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 3 tbsp
Poppy seeds - 1 ½ tsp
Ghee - ½ tsp
Nutmeg - ¼ tsp, grated
Cinnamon - 1 inch
Mace - 1 whole
Red chilly powder - ½ tsp
Garlic Cloves - 6-7
Gram flour - 3 tbsp
Black pepper powder - ½ tsp
Onion - 2 medium, finely sliced
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste

For smoking the meat -
Coal pieces - 2-3
Cloves - 3
Green cardamon - 3, crushed
Ghee - ¼ tsp

Oil for shallow frying the kababs

Mix the minced mutton, papaya, ginger garlic paste and salt, marinate for around 4 hours.
Dry roast cumin seeds, saunf, coriander seeds, poppy seeds, keep it aside and cool. Meanwhile in a small pan, heat ghee to smoking point, switch off the heat and add nutmeg, cinnamon and mace. Heat oil in a kadhai and deep fry the sliced onions till they turn crisp and brown. Grind to a paste, the dry roasted spices, pepper & chilly powder, salt, garlic, gram flour and the spices we had fried in ghee. Nicely mix the ground paste into the minced meat (use your hands if you wish).

Heat the coal pieces in an open flame till red hot and place them in a steel katori or any small bowl. Place the meat in a large bowl, make a depression in the middle and place the katori. Add ghee, cloves and cardamon on the coal. Cover the bowl with a lid or with aluminum foil. Leave it for around 15 minutes so that the aromatic smoke incorporates well into the meat.

Make 2 inch tikkis (patties) out of meat using both your palm(in case the mince sticks in your palm, you can dip your hands in water before). Take some oil in a pan heat and shallow fry the tikkis for around 4 minutes on both sides or until brown.

Serve the kabab with finely sliced onions.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Laal Maas

Red meat or Laal Maas is a cuisine from Rajasthan. The original recipe has loads and loads of red chilly, I've modified the recipe a bit to suite my pallet.

For the marinade -
Mutton - 500 gms
Raw papaya paste - 2 tbsp
Whole red chilly - 10
While Kashmiri chilly - 6
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 2 tsp
Curd - 1 cup, beaten

For the gravy -
Oil - 3 tbsp
Onion - 4 medium, finely sliced
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Pepper corns - 10
Cinnamon - 1 ½ inch
Cloves - 4
Bay leaf - 1
Green cardamon - 6
Black cardamon - 2
Salt to taste

Tempering & garnish -
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Whole red chilly - 2
Coriander leaves - ½ cup

Dry roast and wet grind red chilly, kashmiri chilly, cumin and coriander seeds. Mix the ground paste with curd, papaya paste and marinate the mutton in it for 2-3 hours.

In a cooker, heat some oil, add the dry masala (pepper, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, black and green cardamon), saute for 2-3 minutes. Now add the onion and fry till golden brown, add garlic. Now add the mutton, saute for around 4-5 minutes, pressure cook for 4 whistles or till the mutton is tender. Temper with ghee & red chilly and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve with hot puris or rotis

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chocolate Sponge Cake

What a nice way to kick off the new year with a delicious chocolate cake topped with two layers of icing.

For the cake -
Refined flour (maida) - 2 cups
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Cocoa powder - ¼ cup
Milk - ½ cup
Butter (Unsalted) - 100 gms softened @ room temperature
Powdered Sugar - 1 ¼ cup
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Eggs - 3, seperate the egg white and yolk

Butter icing -
Butter - 45 gms softened @ room temperature
Icing sugar - 1 cup
Vanilla essence - ½ tsp

Royal icing -
Egg white - 1
Icing sugar - ¾ cup
Lemon juice - few drops

Take butter in a mixing bowl. With the help of a hand mixer (use egg beater attachment) start blending the powdered sugar into the butter on medium speed (put the powdered sugar slowly into the butter). Blend the sugar nicely into the butter to form a creamy texture. Now add the egg yolks one by one (keep mixing) into the mixture. Add vanilla essence and blend for another ½ a minute.

At this point you can pre-heat the oven to 180º C. Grease and line a 10-11 inch round cake tin with butter paper.
In another bowl sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder (I prefer to use Cadbury cocoa powder, the aroma is irresistable) and nicely mix them together.

Now add the dry flour mixture into the butter mixture slowly (keep blending on a low speed). Add milk. Once the flour is nicely blended into the butter mixture, keep it aside.

In a dry bowl, take the egg whites and beat it with the help of a beater (if you are using the same hand mixer, make sure you clean and dry the before using). You could use a whisk instead. Incorporate as much air as possible into the egg whites so that they form a foamy firm texture.

Add the foam into the wet cake mixture. The trick here is not to mix the egg white with the cake mixture quickly, but to fold the egg whites into the mixture in slow circular movements. Once all the egg blends into the cake mixture, pour it into the cake tin and bake for 40 mins @ 180º C.

When done take it out of the oven and let it cool. Once cooled, take it out of the tin and turn it upside down and apply a layer of butter icing. Once the icing is set, pour the royal icing mixture and spread it evenly with the help of a palette knife or a spatula.
For the butter icing - Take butter in a bowl, with the help of the hand mixer blend the icing sugar into the butter to form a creamy texture. Add vanilla essence and mix it nicely. Butter icing is ready.

For the royal icing - In a bowl, take the egg white and beat it so that it turns into firm foamy texture. Now gradually add icing sugar and continue beating on high speed to form a white and creamy texture. Add few drops of lemon juice to retain the whiteness.

Mutton Biryani (Thalassery Style)

Here's a different style of preparing biryani that is native to my home town Thalaserry in Kerala. Cooked this for my family on new year's eve. I'm sure you will like the simplicity of this recipe.

Mutton - 1 kg
Tomato - 6 medium sized (sliced)
Ginger paste - 25 gms
Garlic paste - 25 gms
Green chilly - 25 gms ground
Mint leaves - 1 cup
Coriander leaves - 1 cup
Garam masala - 1 tbsp
Lemon - 2
Salt to taste

Basmati rice - 3 cups (Thalaserry Biryani uses short rice called "kayama". But I've used basmati here)
Water - 5 ¼ cups
Cinnamon - 1 inch x 2
Cardamon - 3
Cloves - 4
Ghee - 130 gms luke warm
Salt to taste

Garnish & flavouring-
Rose water - 1 tsp in 2 tsp water
Raisins (kishmish) - 50 gms
Cashew-nuts - 50 gms
Saffron - Two pinch soaked in ½ cup warm milk

Fried onion-
Onion - 6 medium sized (finely sliced)

Atta Seal-
Atta dough to seal the biryani vessel

Heat some oil in a kadhai and deep fry the finely sliced onions. Fry the onions till golden brown and crisp, be careful not to turn them into black mass else it will spoil the entire biryani.

Heat a pressure cooker, add tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes till they are nicely cooked and you get a pulpy texture. In case the tomato pulp becomes too dry, add may be 1/8 cup of water. To this, add ginger paste, garlic paste and ground green chilly. Stir nicely and cook for around 3 minutes or till the raw flavour of ginger, garlic is completely gone. Now add mutton, add salt to taste, mix thoroughly. Add ¾ of the mint leaves. Put the lid on the cooker and pressure cook till 2 whistles. I haven't added any water since mutton would anyways give away water in the cooker. But in case you feel you can add, may be around ¼ cup of water. Once done open the lid, keep the flame to medium, add ¾ of the fried onion, mix and leave for 2 minutes. Now add garam masala, lemon juice (2 lemons), ¾ of the coriander leaves. Mix thoroughly and cook for another 2 minutes. Take it off the heat.

Heat a big vessel, add water, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and bring it to a boil. Now add ghee and salt. Add rice, bring to a boil. Once the rice starts boiling, lower the flame and cover the vessel. Keep stirring in between, make sure you don't mash the rice. Once the water evaporates, switch off the heat. Separate the rice with the help of a fork.

Take a large biryani vessel (thick bottom), empty the cooker into this. Level the mutton mixture, add the remaining mint and coriander leaves. Add half of the cooked rice. Sprinkle rose water. Top it with kishmish and cashew-nuts. Add rest of the rice, spread the balance fried onions on top of this. Sprinkle the saffron milk. Seal rim of the vessel with the atta dough and cover the lid. Put on the heat, cook on high flame for 5 minutes and then 10 minutes on low flame.

The fragrance of rose water and ghee is definitely a crowd puller. Enjoy the mouth watering biryani with onion raita. Please do leave in your comments and tell me how the recipe turned out for you.