Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Payesh


Last couple of posts has been non-vegetarian dishes and I thought I must drift from them now. So came up with a dessert this time. This is one dish which is delicately brewed on special occasions in most Indian households but avatar might vary slightly region and/or culture wise. Payasa, Payasam, Payesh, Paysu, Kheer are a few names I have known it as. If you know it by any other name, please enlighten me and other readers too.

The version I’m blogging today is a Bengali one. What is special about this is it is cooked with palm jaggery (jaggery made of dates). Bengali moms prepare Payesh on their children’s birthday. Ma prepares Payesh on Bhaiyya, Abbas and my birthday too and it tastes oh so yummmm. (My amma used to prepare Vermicelli paysu on my birthday coz I loved it) This year on Abbas’ birthday Ma was away in Kolkata and he missed “Ma ke haath ka Payesh” for the first time on such a special day. Ma had instructed me that since she would not be there I had to prepare Payesh and make Mannu Tammu feed him. I had cold feet and hence referred to Sandeepa’s Khejur Gurer Payesh recipe to gain confidence. The payesh turned out quite satisfactory. (But anyway I personally like Ma’s payesh more) Palm jaggery can be substituted by sugar, but Payesh with Khejur Gur is a show stealer any day!

Ingredients:


Milk – 2 litres
GobindoBhog Rice or KalaJeera Rice or Basmati Rice - a little less than 2/3 of a cup
Ghee - enough to smear the rice with, maybe 1/2 tsp
Raisins - a fistful soaked in water
TejPata or BayLeaves - 3 or 4
Sugar - 1 cup
Khejur Gur or Palm Date jaggery - depending on sweetness level

Method:

1. Wash the rice, drain the water and then smear the rice with a little ghee

2. Pour milk in a boiling pan, usually a deep heavy bottomed pan. Add bay leaves.

3. When the milk comes to a boil add the rice. Be careful so that milk does not boil over. Stir intermittently and check if the rice is done. Keep stirring frequently else the milk might scald the bottom of the pan as it thickens.

4. When the rice is cooked add sugar and Khejur Gur. Tip: Adding sugar before the rice has boiled hinders it getting cooked properly. Now stir the milk continuously.

5. When the milk has thickened to the right consistency, to check this take a spoonful of liquid and pour it on a flat plate, the viscosity of the milk should be such that it does not flow. By this time the milk would have also reduced from it's original volume. Approx. time to reach this stage is almost an hour or so at a medium flame setting.

6. Add Kishmis or Raisins.

7. Serve cold. Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sungta PhaNNA Upkari - Hot and Sour Prawns


Ma’s face crumples up as soon as a spoonful of bland food lands on her tongue. She blurts out “Ekdom jhaal hoi ni” (Meaning – not spicy at all). I always cooked hot spicy food but have been compromising on chillies ever since Mannu Tammu began sharing our food. Ma, at several times, reminds me of my Annamma (grandma). My amma had a tough time planning what to cook. Everybody at home had diverse preferences. This was a dish Amma would prepare when Annamma would not be eating well due to sickness saying “Jibbe Ruchi Na” (Meaning – my tongue has become senseless). This would ignite Annamma’s taste buds and make her eat. I tried this trick on Ma once too but she didn’t even let her tongue taste it, leave alone igniting it. Reason? She is allergic to prawns. Kosha Mangsho is an all-time winner with Ma although she is allergic to Mutton too! (That’s called situational allergy he he)

Here goes the original recipe. However I, at times add cubed potatoes, just to give it that Bengali touch. I would suggest cooking this gravy in the morning if you wanna have it for dinner coz the standing times simply boosts the taste. Nevertheless, it tastes great even when had immediately.


Ingredients:

Prawns – 1 cup, peeled, deveined and cleaned
Onions – 2 large, finely chopped
Tamarind extract – ½ cup
Green chillies – 2, slit
Red chilli powder – to taste (ideally the hotter the better for me)
Salt – to taste
Oil – 2 tbsp
Water – 1 cup

Method:
1. Heat oil in a pan. Add slit green chillies and chopped onions and sauté till they turn light golden in colour.

2. Add prawns and sauté on low to medium flame till they are well cooked.

3. Add salt, red chilli powder, tamarind and water.

4. Cook till the gravy achieves your desired consistency.


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Thursday, June 17, 2010

KFC at Home???


Who doesn’t like crispy fried chicken from KFC? At least I have neither heard nor come across anybody satisfying this criterion! Well, it was a “Love at first bite” for me and I have become an unfaltering enthusiast ever since. Every time I indulged into this marvel, I wondered what might be the secret recipe of Colonel Harland Sanders. Ma is equally a fan of KFC and I always take home some crispy fried chicken for her whenever I pass by its outlet. I remember the first time we had taken her to KFC and we were standing in a queue to get in. She is an impatient soul and kept on protesting waiting in a long line just to have fried chicken to fill hungry stomachs that too during lunch time! I still can’t forget her dialogue “Eta to amader machher kabirajir moto na?” (Meaning it’s like our Fish Kabiraji right? – all you non Bengali people, Fish kabiraji is crispy fried fish which mostly makes its appearance on special occasions.) Fortunately for us, it was worth the wait for her.

Now what’s with the title of this post? Does that mean I picked up a bucket on the way home and savored it with family? No folks! I actually made them at home and?? Curious to know the verdict??? It was very close to Sanders’ version. Did I solve the mystery of herbs behind it to prepare it at home? No, all I did was to follow Sailu’s recipe of Crsipy Fried Chicken. Like always, her recipe didn’t fail me. It’s a very easy but not quick to make. Chicken has to be marinated for a total of 12 hours but after that it is a breeze. Oh yes! It was finger licking good too! My niece helped me in dipping the chicken pieces in egg mixture and then rolling it in flour mixture and the sweet little fingers perhaps enhanced the taste!

Ingredients:

3 or 4 chicken legs
oil for deep frying

For first marinade: 8-10 hrs
1/2 cup buttermilk OR 3 tbsps vinegar+6 tbsps water
1/2 tsp salt

For second marinade: 3-4 hrs
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli pwd
3/4 tsp salt

For first coating:
1 egg
2-3 tbsps milk
salt to taste
pepper to taste

For second coating:
3 tbsps cornflour
3 tbsps maida
salt to taste
pepper to taste


Method:
1. Wash chicken legs and make slits all over. Take a large ziplock bag, place chicken and the first marinade and lock it. Place the zip lock bag in the refrigerator for atleast 8 hrs.


2 After 8 hrs, drain the first marinade and add the second marinade to the chicken legs and shake the zip lock bag well. Lock it and place in refrigerator for another 3-4 hours.

3 Remove chicken legs after marination, dip in the first coating mixture (eggs/milk) and then coat with the second coating mixture (cornflour/maida).

4 Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel, once the oil is hot, reduce flame, place one or two coated chicken legs (based on the size of the vessel) and cook on low to medium flame on both sides of the legs for 6-7 mts. Cook on high flame for another 2-3 mts on both sides till golden brown. Drain onto absorbent paper and bake in hot oven at 175 for 10 mts
  

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Laal Jhaal Kosha Mangsho


Kosha Mangsho is one of the numerous Bengali dishes to salivate over. I never ate mutton before my marriage coz the variety I had tasted in Kundapur was very hard. When Abbas had asked me before marriage, which of the two I liked more – chicken or mutton? Without a thought, I had replied Chicken. Post marriage when I tasted this dish, I instantly developed a strong inclination towards mutton. It simply melted in the mouth and it was heavenly!!! You have to eat it to feel it.


Well, the recipe that I’m sharing today is not a pure Bengali Kosha Mangsho version. I have tweaked the recipe a bit. I had seen Chef Marut Sikka cooking Rajasthani Laal Mangsho on TV. This recipe is a combination of both. Folks, are you ready to cook a hybrid mutton curry which is a Bengali cross Rajasthani breed? This sure is very spicy. You might wanna adjust the red chillies to suit your palate.

Ingredients:
Mutton – 1 kg
Tomatoes – 2 medium sized, chopped
Potatoes – 5-6 medium sized, peeled and cut into halves.
Curd – 1 cup
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 2-3 tbsp

To grind to a paste:
Onion – 3 medium sized
Ginger – 2” piece
Garlic – 7-8 pods

For the masala powder:
Red chillies – 10-15
Coriander – 1 tbsp
Cumin – 2 tsp
Cardamom – 2-3
Cloves – 4-5
Cinnamon – 1” stick

Method:

1. Marinate the mutton with onion-ginger-garlic paste, curd, turmeric powder and salt and keep in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 mins, the longer the better.

2. Dry roast the ingredients called for under the masala powder head and grind them to a fine powder. ( I microwave the masalas instead on high for a min)

3. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add a tsp of salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. Drop in potato pieces on a high flame. Stir for 2-3 mins. Lower the flame and cook covered till the potatoes turn golden on all sides. Remove them from the oil and keep aside.

4. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel and add the marinated meat along with chopped tomatoes and cook on a low flame. The meat gets cooked in its own juices. Occasionally stir and cook till all the water gets evaporated from the mutton and oil oozes out from the sides. This process might take an hour even.

5. Now combine the mutton, fried potatoes and the masala powder in a pressure cooker. Add water to suit your desired consistency. You may adjust salt at this stage. Pressure cook for 1 or 2 whistles.

6. I simply cook steamed rice to accompany this and none in my family complains coz they can wholly and solely indulge in this divine dish. One can have it with Indian bread if the gravy is cooked to thick consistency.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Tiramisu Cake

Myself being a small town girl I have marveled at the various flavoured pastries offered by Parijatha Bakery, Kundapura. When Ria, Divya and Maria announced a baking challenge called “A Sweet Punch”, I was thrilled big time. I have been an avid reader of their blogs and have been intimated by their baking expertise. Learning from them meant I could create all those yummy goodies I have been drooling over. After registering myself in the event, I was eagerly waiting for my first challenge. It came earlier than expected.

Tiramisu… the name sounded exotic but certainly alien to me in all respects. First thing I did was reading about it in Wikipedia. Reading about it gave me a cold feet coz Wiki had declared it as one of the most popular Italian cakes. My god, was I gonna attempt something foreign while I am still an amateur at anything Indian for that matter? Glancing through the lengthy recipe added to my nervousness and I was almost planning to chicken out at that moment. But luckily when I reached the end of the recipe, I saw a paragraph in which Ria had simplified the recipe and penned down words of encouragement which I badly needed to stay in the game.

The cake sure was a breeze to make and a delight to nibble upon. Only thing I wish I could do better was the decoration. When I had to sprinkle the cocoa powder on top I should’ve perhaps used a sieve to evenly spread it. I sprinkled it just like that (so foolish of me). After that I was very upset with the uneven cocoa layer that I simply tuck some Gems on its top and sides to give it the final touch. Despite the appearance, the taste was unmatched. I’m glad I acted a brave sport and didn’t quit the challenge.

Thanks Ria, Divya and Maria for hosting such a beautiful event. Looking forward to the next challenge.

My first home made Mascarpone cheese... Yay I loved making it and eating it too. 

The cake that came out of the oven



After cutting into layers



I didn't have choco chips and hence added choclate strands.

















That was a badly cut piece of cake but I was in a hurry...


Here goes the recipe:

Tiramisu Cake

For the cake layers:
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the espresso extract:
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water

For the espresso syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy

For the filling and frosting:
1 8-ounce container mascarpone (store-bought or homemade)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for decoration (optional)
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Getting ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9×2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake:
  • Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.
  •  Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
  • Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.

To make the extract:
  • Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.
  • To make the syrup:
  • Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy; set aside.

To make the filling and frosting:
Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.
Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.

To assemble the cake:

If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer – user about 1 1/4 cups – and gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.

For the frosting, whisk 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.
With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. If you want to decorate the cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans, press them into the filling, making concentric circles of beans or just putting some beans in the center of the cake.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or for up to 1 day) before serving – the elements need time to meld.
Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa.
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