Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Simplest Scrumptious Apple Crumble




I have been wanting to eat a fruity dessert for a while but due to the heat and rains there seem to be no great fruits around except for apples, pears and bananas.

Not so fond of apples and pears in dessert... I decided to experiment nevertheless and was pleasantly surprised! This recipe took me only 15 minutes to put together and was simply scrumptious and melted in the mouth. I read a lot of crumble recipes but decided to make my own concoction eventually.... coz some recipes called for old fashioned oats, others wanted to use nuts and some didn't use oats or nuts and used regular sugar - but I think the combination of oats and demerara sugar gave a nice crunchy and caramelised taste to the whole dessert.

Use a dish that you can bake and serve in - glass works best so you can see everything...

Recipe:

6 apples - cut into 1 to 3/4 inch cubes - i don't like apples cut very small but this is entirely upto you.
1 cup - all purpose flour
1 cup - demerara sugar
1 cup - quick cooking oats
2-3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 cup - water
150gm cold butter cut into cubes (I used margarine)
a pinch of salt

Add the cut apples and put in the bottom of baking dish, add a bit of water to cover just the base of the apples - sprinkle with cinnamon powder and mix the water and apples. Then put into the microwave for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile for the cumble mixture - add all the dry ingredients together (salt, demerara sugar, oats and flour) and mix by hand. Then add the cubed butter and mix again with hand till you get a coarse mixture with about pea sized bites.

Sprinkle the sugar on the apples and then spread the crumble mixture over the apples and bake at 250 degrees for 40-45 mins or till top is slightly browned and the filling is bubbling and the apples are nicely stewed but not mashed.

I baked mine covered with foil so that the top didn't burn since my oven is really small and the top burns easily. Also, you can bake this at 350 for 20-30 minutes also...

Your beautiful dessert is ready - perfect for a party - coz you can serve it hot from the oven just as dinner gets done. Serve in beautiful margarita or balloon wine glasses with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream.

Apples can be substitued or used with pears, berries (any single kind or a mixed variety). It's especially nice to eat on cold gloomy rainy days or in the winter since the apple cinnamon combination with the caramelised sugar totally warms your inside.

As usual pictures to follow since I can already hear my 10 month old calling out to me!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This one is dedicated to my 10 month old son - Baby Food Recipes...

I have been meaning to post a few recipes off and one for the last few months but have been really consumed in coming up with some innovative food for my son since he refuses to eat the same thing two days in a row...


Anyone who has an infant at home - knows all the basic rules of introducing solids - single foods first, veggies then fruits, all food should be mashed, give the child a couple of spoons the first time and then slowly increase serving size, rice cereal is the easisest to digest etc etc. Also, there is a marked difference in the kind of foods introduced in India v/s the West - since I keep speaking to a lot of people in the US and lentils are a big no-no before 10-12 months and my baby has been on them since 6 months... so please use this information judiciously and ask your doctor your doctor for approval before introduing some of these recipes... since each child is different and different things work for different people.


I am going to give here recipes that I used to introduce food to Arav - some successfully and some not so successfully. This is just meant as a quick guide than can give you ideas when your mind has a thousand other things to worry about...


I was being advised from friends, family and acquaintences to introduce semi-solids to my baby from the 4th month but I resisted till 5.5 months and then everything I introduced to my baby gave him gas... so I held back till 6 months and I must say there is no harm. Do whatever suits your baby but starting off in the 6th month has worked well for us.

6th month onwards:

Lentil Water -Take a tablespoon of yellow moong dal and add at least a cup of water. Soak for 10 minutes and then cook in pressure cooker with a pinch of turmeric and hing - at least 4-5 whistles or in an closed pan till dal is cooked. Mash the dal a bit and then strain through a sieve and introduce the lentil water only to the child. My child had a bit of gas when I introduced this - therefore I had to add hing to this.

Oats with Formula: I used Gerber Oats with Formula in warm water and it made a perfect breakfast cereal for him. I slowly added cooked and pureed apples, mashed banana's and cooked and pureed pear to this.

Stewed Apples / Pear: A peeled apple or pear - put in a pressure cooker or closed pan with a little bit of water (gets too runny and bland if too much water is added since the fruit leaves it own juice on cooking). I used to add a bit of cinnamon / sugar/ jaggery depending on the sweetness required in the food.

Rawa (Sooji) / Nachni Porridge: Roast a bit of sooji, nachni, dalia in ghee till light brown. Add water, jaggery / sugar and cook till it boils and you get a runny consistency - can be made thicker for older children. Switch of gas and add formula and stir. Can be served without formula too.

Mashed Potato with butter: A hit with my son - boil a potato very well (I usually pressure cooked it) and puree in blender with butter. Can mash it and feed it after 7th month or after he develops teeth. Variations: Mashed potato & carrot, sweet potato, beans-carrot & potato etc.

I have been trying to post this page for the last one week and haven't had an opportunity... am going to keep adding my recipes to this. Coming up are recipes for - Vegetable Pulao, Vegetable Upma, Khichdi



Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vacation...









I had been out of the blogging scene for a bit coz we had taken our son on his 1st vacation (just wanted to clarify that he is 8 months old :))and he really enjoyed the pool and all the good looking women who gave him tons of attention!

Thought I will share a few pictures of this heavenly place which is a Westin Property and seems to be all about being at peace with yourself and giving you an experience to renew your mind and body and be at peace with your soul...

Hope you enjoy the pictures!










Father's Day Individual Brownie Cakes....





These were the most decadent cakes I have ever made... they were really easy to whip together since I was really short on time and the husband really really liked them :)! We went for brunch on Father's Day and had the most awful buffet at China Club a really hoity-toity place in Gurgaon - but I shall review that later.
Just going to give you this simple recipe that you can enjoy....
I used the pillsbury brownie mix (small packet) and added 1/4cup coconut flakes ( you can use 1/2 cup - will definitely taste better), roasted and slivered the almonds 1/4 cup and added all this to the brownie mix. Use the intructions on the brownie mix box to know how long ti bake. Take a cupcake tin and lined them with a cupcake sheets or parchment paper - to the bottom of ithe tin add crumbs of mcvities hob-nobs (or take any digestive or oatmeal cookies) and then just spoon the brownie mix and bake. I think I could have made one more cupcake but ended up just eating the leftover batter which was really really delicious!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chocolate Layer Cake with an Espresso Custard...




So the cake was a genoise chocolate cake and I didn't have any liquor to soak the cake in so I felt the overall dessert was a bit dry but the espresso custard was the perfect accompaniment for this. As you can see I still haven't developed my icicing skills and with the sweltering heat icing hard enough to do... but I promise better presentation next time!
The cake did vanish in no time though... and I seemed to have gotten perfect layers which made me happy....

Fun with Potatoes....


No, no no - I haven't been on a self imposed sabbatical but I have been busy and then I seemed to have lost all my food pics but manage to salavge some of them... ohh I also tried my hadn at photoshop for a bit but it didn't do much for me.

So here I am trying to catch up on all the lost days!

I went crazy with potatoes one day... I made good ol' aloo tikki's (potatoe pancakes), veggie-dog, pav bhaji... and quite enjoyed it. I even served my aloo tikki's at a party and they were a big big hit :)!!!!

I am posting pics for a change and recipes to follow soon!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Starved for Italian???

I've been doing the usual restaurant visits in Gurgaon and trying to find out the good eateries... and I am sure I've mentioned Delhi has a ton of good eatiers most offering Mughlai food but there are some great joints serving authentic and not so authentic Italian food. To name the good joins... Olive (@ Hotel Diplomat), Spaghetti Kitchen (Saket Mall), Italic (DLF Mall, Vasant Kunj), Sevilla (The Clairidges - super expensive but great pizza and great ambience) and of course my all time favorite The Big Chill Cafe - but then we decided to try Azzuro Kitchen and Bar and the food was a disaster!

The bread basket had dry and burnt foccacia, the pizza base was too dry and charred and the main course was strictly OK. But the worst was yet to come - the tiramisu seemed to be made with bread soaked coffee and nothing close to mascarpone cheese! Their chocolate fondant was edible... but I think this place should be on some sort of a 'must NOT try' type of list. I am not even going to go into how bad the cocktails were or how all of a sudden the room we are sitting in started smelling of smoke.... just don't bother going here!

Will upload my favorite pasta recipe with pics this time around very soon!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fast & Easy Mughlai Dinner - Any Takers?

No, I haven't disappeared but have been trying to settle into the new place and it has been surprisingly easy... sometimes things just seem to fall into place or it could be the mom-effect (my mom was down to help me settle down and things seemed surprisingly easy)!


I had my first dinner party last week and it turned out pretty well... actually pretty good coz I didn't take pics of the food before the party (yeah, same excuse - no time - baby needed attention et al) and I don't have much left to take pics of! The menu was very North Indian and routine if I may add, Dal Makhani (Maa ki Dal), Paneer Makhani and a regular and easy chicken dish of mine which I have no name for! The dessert which was supposed to be Mango Mouse with Vanilla mango swirl Ice-cream didn't turn out right... but I shall get it right by the time I put up pics :)!


Before starting out on any Indian recipes I ensure my fridge has the 'bhuna hua pyaaz ka masala' in stock. This onion-ginger-garlic paste makes life easy and cooking a breeze. I have mentioned the recipe of this somewhere in my blog earlier - it's just a paste made of about 500gm onions, a couple of cloves of garlic and same amount of grated ginger - I then saute it on low heat with very little oil till it turns a brownish black in color.


The dal and paneer were absolute rip-off's from my mom's recipe and since she was visiting I managed to sneak in and see all the extra things that make her food more yummier than mine!!!!

So this blog is dedicated to my mom and her recipes...

This is my mom's recipe for Dal Makhani and it was an instant hit.



Ingredients:


1.5 cups of black whole urad dal with 2-3tbsp of rajma (washed and soaked overnight).
1 medium onion - thinly sliced
4 medium sized boiled and pureed tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic diced
2-3 whole kashmiri red chilli
1/2 cup of curd
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream


For the tempering

1 small onion finely diced
1-2 tbsp kasoori methi
2 boiled and tomatoes pureed
1 tsp red chilli powder
a pinch of hing


Boil the soaked dal with the garlic, kashmiri red chilli, salt (as per taste) and onions in a pressure cooker and give it at least 1 whistle on high gas and leave it on sim for at least 15 mins. Wait for the cooker to cool - then open and add the pureed tomatoes and curd and put it back in the cooker for about 15-20 mins. When you open the dal now it should be pasty and the water level should be less and you should not be able to see the onions or tomatoes etc any longer.



Prepare the tempering:

In a bit of oil add the hing, red chilli, kassori methi and onions. Once the onions are absolutely soft add the tomatoe puree and cook till it well cooked. Add this to the dal and leave it on sim to boil.

Now add the milk and let it boil. Add the cream to the hot dal and mix. Do not boil after this else the cream will separate. This recipe turned out to be finger licking good.... and it was a relief coz Dal Makhani always sounds sooo tedious but this quick recipe can do wonders to your dinner menu.


Paneer Makhani
5-6tbsp ground kajus (cashew nuts)
2-3 washed, boiled and pureed tomatoes
1tbsp of my onion paste
300gms paneer (cottage cheese)
cream if required
basic masalas - any chicken curry masala, chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt to taste

This recipe is sooo easy that you can sleep walk through it and instantly uplifts your dinner table... In a little oil add the onion paste and tomatoe puree and saute till tomatoes are cooked thoroughly. Add all the masalas to this... about 1tsp red chilli powder, a pinch of turmeric and a good heaping of any chicken curry masala. Now add the ground cashews and saute for 2-3 minutes till the masala becomes thick and pasty. Add water to make a medium consistency curry. Add paneer pieces and stir and your Paneer Makhani is ready :)! Yeah, it's that easy.

My mom's TIP: She marinates the paneer in a bit of yogurt and any good chicken masala (for as little as 10 mins) and sautes it till the water left by the paneer is dry and then adds it to the gravy! This instanly lifts the taste of the dish :)!

I have been meaning to post the recipes since last week but haven't go the opportunity to... pictures to follow soon :)!

My easy-peasy chicken recipe to follow soon too...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More Mangoes... I just can't have enough of them!











I am in the process of moving houses and haven't had the time to really sit and blog... but I have been trying to use up everything in my fridge and somehow I always seem to find enough mangoes to use in my desserts!

These are pictures of Mango Mousse with a very nice n' crunchy coconut cookie base... The mango mousse was made with hung curd and whipped cream.... will post the recipe soon. Also, since I didn't have Alphono's I've used this mango called Sindoori (shown in picture) - it has a sweet and sour flavor to it so the amount of sugar has to be a bit more than if I had used nice sweet mangoes!
















Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mango Shrikhand

Having been on a self indulging spree for the last 14 months, I have decided to take stock of my life and gradually start steering myself to my pre-pregnancy days and follow a healthier lifestyle. Blogging has been taking a toll on my waist and not having time to hit the gym is just adding ‘fat’ to the fire! So I decided to start thinking of healthy desserts from today (last night I tried making a molten chocolate cake and couldn’t find enough tiny ramekins to bake it in and made one disaster of a big cake – but the ‘Eton Mess’ tasted soo good – I ended up eating it all – 350gm of dark chocolate, butter n sugar n all – yumm!).

Growing up in Bombay (Maharashtra) and surrounded by loads of Gujarati and Maharashtrian friends I have been lucky enough to savour a variety of cuisines. One of my favorite childhood memories is of eating cool and creamy home-made Shrikhand on hot sweaty days. Shrikhand is made in many flavours – cardamom, saffron and nowadays in any fruit you wish flavor. You also get Amul Shrikhand off the counter isn’t as yummy and healthy as home-made Shrikhand.

Shrikhand is a very versatile ‘food’. Any good Gujarati restaurant serves it as an accompaniment to be in their Thali’s. It can be eaten as is for dessert or in dinner with paranthas or poori. When I was younger and not very calorie conscious I used to really enjoy “shrikhand-poori” but now I can only see the health benefits in this dish. Shrikhand is made of strained yogurt, flavored with ‘elaichi’ and ‘kesar’ and can be sweetened with fresh fruits…. Easy to whip up at home – it is my all time favorite comfort food for the summer months.

The health benefits of yogurt itself have been known for centuries… so this dessert is a no brainer… go ahead and try it out!

Recipe:
Puree of 1 mango - Alphonso preferred but any sweet mango will do.
400gm yogurt - hung for about an hour
1 tbsp castor sugar (you can adjust the sweetness by adding more sugar... I kinda like the slightly sour taste of the yogurt and mango combination and also less sugar equals less calories)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Combine the yogurt, sugar, cardamom powder and puree all together till the combination is creamy and smooth. Don't whip since the yogurt can become smoothie like in texture and you want this to be slightly thick. Leave in fridge for an hour to set.

Mine is in the fridge setting itself right now... will add pics as soon as it comes out and if we don't devour it before that!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Very Easy Thai Green Curry



This is an excellent recipe to put together at the last minute if you have people visiting or you are in the mood for spicy curry n rice combo and don’t want to have regular routine food. I was totally done eating the regular 'dal, roti, subzi' combo and put this dish together in literally 30 minutes including the chopping of vegetables et al. I made this with chicken and whatever veggies I had in the fridge but I am going to give you the recipe for what I usually put in my Thai Green Curry.
Ingredients:
400gm boneless chicken – cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium capsicum – thinly sliced (red, green or yellow)
1 medium onion – thinly sliced
1 small packet mushrooms – thinly sliced
200gm broccoli - florets cut into bite sized pieces
2-3 tbsp green curry paste (I used to make the paste from scratch but gone are those days...)
1 can Chaokoh coconut milk
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
I added some peas and califlower to to my curry – other veggies that go well with this are babycorn and water chestnut but feel free to experiment.
Recipe:
Take 2tsp oil of your choice and add ginger-garlic paste and saute for a couple of minutes. Add onions and saute till pink. Then add all the other veggies, half the curry paste and a bit of the coconut milk (enough to soak the veggies) and simmer – my family likes the beggies to absorb the taste of the coconut milk. You can cook them less if you want thtem crunchy. Then add the chicken and remaining coconut milk and green curry paste. Add salt to taste and simmer for about 15 mins – make sure chicken is cooked thoroughly. Served with plain white rice or jasmine rice! This is a super easy and super fast recipe and never fails me :). You can always extra green paste to make it spicier and give it an added zing!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mango Cream Cake - Part III (Recipe)

Since I am always short on time - I made the cake out of a cake mix and let it dry on the rack. The cake came out a bit dense and didn't rise much. You can either make a round cake or a square cake for the recipe.

Recipe:
Cake - Any kind of dense cake that is easy to roll - not a crumbly or light cake. I used a Pillsbury Moist Vanilla Cake Mix.

Custard Filling:
Milk - 1 Cup
Custard Powder (Vanilla Flavour) - 1.5 tbsp
Mango Puree - 3-4 tsp
Castor Sugar - 2tbsp


Boil the milk, add the custard powder and sugar and stir till you get a thick consistency. Leave in Fridge to cool. If you are running short on time - put the custard in the freezer but keep a check on it that it doesn't set like a pudding - should be easy to spread like a cheeze spread.
Once the custard is a bit cool add the mango puree and stir.

Cream Filling
Double Cream - 1 Cup
Castor Sugar - 2 tbsp
Mango Puree - 3-4 tsp

Whisk the cream and castor sugar till cream starts holding a slight shape. Add the mango puree and fold. Leave in fridge to chill.

While the filling is cooling - cut the cake into strips. Since I had a round cake - I cut it in circles starting from the outside in such a manner that you can make swiss rolls.
Then I folded the custard filling lightly into the cream filling and spread it on the cake strips. I lined a cake tin with foil. I took the biggest strip - made a swiss roll with the filling and put it in the center of the cake. The rest of the strips I the custard filling on it and wrapped it around the center swiss roll. Whatever filling was left I spread evenly on the remaining cake and put it in the freezer to chill.

After two hours - I put a mixture of finely smashed digestive biscuits mixed with a tablespoon of golden syrup and evenly spread it on the top of the cake and pressed it down with a flat spoon.

After another three hours (it's soo hot in Delhi it took extra time to set. If you are in a cool place you can follow the recipe as is. If you are working in a kitchen or with weather that is not quite cool you can use a bit of delatine so that your filling sets well.)

Icing:
Double Cream - 1 cup
Icing Sugar - 4 tbsp
Mango Puree - 2-3 tsp

While the cake is setting in the freezer. Whisk the cream and icing sugar till slightly stiff. Fold in the puree and leave in the fridge to cool. Min. amount of time 40 mins.

Once the cake is set - invert it on a plate and remove the foil such that the biscuit layer is at the bottom. Ice the cake and leave in the freezer for another 20 minutes to set.

Put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before setting so that the filling on the cake doest taste frozen.

Decoration:
I just used a bit of bitter chocolate shavings and small mango pieces to decorate the cake but you can beautify it as you want.

Mango Cream Cake - Part II (Pictures...)

Apr 30, 2009 contd.

8:00pm Cake out of the freezer. Not falling apart yet!!! Yayyyy!!!!

8:30pm Cake all iced and put in the freezer for the final lag.

9:45pm Power cut yet again!!!! But thankfully the cake had set, though by the time I started taking the pictures the icing which was made with cream and sugar had started to melt a bit - I don't know what I did wrong - maybe it hadn't set very well in the 1st place???
10:45pm Cake is Mmmmmmmm!!!! Reviews were awesome!!! And I was very very proud of myself because - this cake was an improvisation from my original recipe and turned out scrumptious -this is an original recipe and it is the 1st ever cake I have iced and decorated in my entire life! I have done a few basic melt the choc. and pour on cake type icings but nothing elaborate...
The pictures are not as great as the cake tasted.... but I had to show you the end result!!!! Recipe to follow soon!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mumbai & Mango Cream Cake - Part I

I am sorry to be out of circulation for long but am back now... and I may have a story, recipe and pictures by the end of the post - so thats always a good sign!

I was away visiting family in Mumbai last week and had a wonderful and relaxing week - lots of eating happened - yummy food from Mahesh Lunch Home home delivered and sweet juicy alphonsos was the highlight for the foodie side of me. Catching up with family and friends was much needed!!!

Now that I am back in Delhi with two dozen alphonsos for the husband and myself I owe my blog at least a good mango recipe... I have been doing a lot of reading up on cakes and thougth about baking a Mango Cream for my son's half year b'day!

I am doing this post in parts coz I have a feeling I will forget the recipe or get involved in a million others things and won't end up finishing this post.

April 30th, 2009
10:30am
I decided to bake my son a Mango Cream Cake and I needed to get it ready by 30th night. I had an hour before my son woke up and not all the ingredients to bake a cake from scratch. Lucky me. I had a box of moist Vanilla Cake mix from Pillsbury's. I put all the ingredients together and popped the cake into the oven.

10:45am
I was all ready to have my son awake for his massage and bath routine and the cake would be ready in 30 minutes. Just as I was ready to pat my back and the lights went. Power cuts in Delhi is supposedly a regular feature but not having lived in Delhi long enough I just don't seem to take the situation in my stride as well as Delhites do and go about their routine as if nothing has happened. Anyways - the cake had baked for 5 mins. Waited 10 more mins and put the cake in the fridge - coz I didn't know when the power would be back and I didn't want to take a chance of running my oven on the invertor for fear of blowing the invertor. That would have left my son and me with no electricty at all.

12:00pm
Lights have come. Cake goes back in over. 30 minutes later I have a very very flat cake. Totally Expected.

12:30pm
My son's food is in the food processor and the very very flat cake is cooling on the rack.

1:45pm
I couldn't have slit the cake horizontally to make my original recipe so I have a couple of options. Make mango custard and do a regular sponge cake with custard topping. But have done a sponge and custard combo no. of times and nothing special about it.

3:25pm
Have tried to execute the brainwave I had. It will be out of the freezer at 7pm. If it's picture worthy and tastes good I shall have the recipe and pics up by the weekend! Please pray it comes out well...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fajitas - Indian Style



Aren't they days when you get up and feel like eating something yummy and cheezy for breakfast? And days when you are bored of eating eggs, pohas, upmas or what not for breakfast? Well this is for those days when you want to treat yourself without being too self-indulgent... and it's all put together in 5 mins with a few leftovers from last night's meal.
Since I am travelling to Mumbai in a couple of days I have been restraining myself from buying too many groceries since the weather in Delhi is not conducive to storing much even in the fridge (since the light goes all the time)! So when my husband said he wanted something 'light' and yummy for breakfast and was leaving in 15 mins and my son was in my lap demanding attention I asked my help if I had any veggies to make a veg chutney sandwich (Mumbai roadside food style...) but she said I didn't have anything much in the fridge. So, I rushed to the kitchen to see what I did have and saw some of last night roti's, left over salad, a few of my pasta sauces and cheeze and it suddenly all came together.
I took two rotis (indian flatbread) - on one side I spread some pasta sauce (Loyd Grossman's Tomato Chilli) and on the other one I spread a generous helping of pesto). I added a sprinkling of cheeze (my husband loves Amul cheeze but you can go with anything healthy or a bit of sharp cheddar), lemon squeezed diced tomatoes and onions from last night's salad and a dash of oregano and paprika. I then just closed them together like a sandwhich and toasted them on a non-stick pan in a bit of olive oil. And voila, my fajitas were ready!!!! They definitely tasted yummy coz before I could get a picture of my husband's fajita he had wolfed his down. I left mine on the gas too long since I was seeing him off and like you can see in the pics mine got a little burned.
This is such an easy to put together recipe that it can be used as appetizers or for brunch on a weekend if you want (and can add shreaded chicken, ham or salami bits to make it more sumptous). Instead of roti's you can use anything you favour naan, whole wheat fajita's etc. You can also experiment with the sauces and try anything you have at home - green chutney, chilli sauce, cheeze spread or what not. I used tomatoes and onions coz thats what I had - you can also add capsicum - red, green, yellow the more (color) the merrier! And this takes minutes to put together.
I have to end this post a little abrubtly since I can hear my son yelling for me in the background!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oye Delhi! Delhi Oye! - The Kebab Story and Khan Market all mish-mashed

As promised I am back to give you an insider's view on the Delhi Food Scene. I Googled 'Best kebabs Delhi', 'Delhi kebabs' and a few more keywords around the same lines and it was very difficult to come up with a list of decent kebab places in South Delhi. The places I present to you are found out by word of mouth or chanced upon...Sure, these places have been covered in newspapers and magazines at some point of time but they aren't documented online - so unless you're in the habit of storing old papers and magazines, this guide may come in handy while visiting Delhi.


Dilliwala's may feel no visit to Delhi is complete without visiting Chandni Chowk, Bengali Market, Janpath, Sarojni Nagar et al but I feel no visit of mine to Delhi is complete without visiting Khan Market. Let me start by telling you a little about Khan Market - an upscale market in South Delhi where you see all the hoity-toity strutting their "stuff" (read: wearing designer shades (especially, in the night), dressed impeccably in starched cottons in the summer or crepes and silks in the winter, toting around their LV's, Gucci's, Fendi's or sporting their BMW's, Porche's - I think you get the picture). It is also always dotted by expats or people like you and me who land up there with a urge to satisfy their food pangs! Delhi is very brand conscious and generally people are always put together. You won't find the grungy look here except on campuses... Khan Market is full of expensive home stores, expensive designer & non-designer boutiques, jewellers, upscale grocers, gadget shops for the men, bookstores & imported magazines kiosks, kiddie stores and even a pet shop but most importantly it's a foodies delight!

It has not one but two outlets of the Big Chill Cafe (mentioned in an earlier blog of mine), a Barista or McDonald's for the less adventurous, Cafe Turtle and of course the ''best kebabs''. I think my kebab story got a little side-lined earlier but I am back on track and you cannot leave Delhi without visiting Khan Chacha's ("KC") or Salim's Kebabs ("SK")- I find them both equally good. The chicken tikka roll at KC's and malai tikka roll and mutton kakori roll at SK's are too die for. Mind you, you can go with just plate of kebab's also - but the rolls are just easier to eat and are perfect for people like me who cannot handle spices too well. The 'rolls' are actually kebab's, chutney and onions (perfect accompaniments for kebab's) wrapped in Indian bread. Also, please do not get put-off by the exteriors of KC's or SK's. Located in the middle lane of Khan Market, there is a stark difference between all the upscale places here and these kebab joints. They are both in a small garage like space with 6-8 men huddled inside wrapping, grilling and packing the kebabs. Since there is no sit down place outside (unless you consider the odd motorbike or cycle parked around a seat) people usually get rolls or kebabs to go but the smell of the food is so overwhelming that 90% of the time you will see them devouring into their food right outside the place! And yeah, do not expect less than a 15-20 minute wait at any of these places and if you reach around closing time you may not get your choice of kebab coz it's all gone by then!

I have to take a slight detour from Khan Market for a bit and mention that kebab's, especially the mutton kakori kebab at Al-Kauser (R.K. Puram) are really good and so are the mutton shammi's and chicken tandoori at the original Karim's branch in Vasant Kunj (now changed to Rahim's - the food is still great). Another place you should not pass the mutton shammi's at, is Wenger's - but again you should not miss any of the savouries at this pastry shop :)!

Back to Khan Market - there are a number of restaurants here to suit a variety of budgets and occasions and taste buds. There is Blanco for Italian, SideWok for Oriental (heard good things about this place), Chona's (all kinds of OK-ish food but good to hangout at), Chokola (have never liked this place personally or the service) but if you want to just chill and look at the world pass you by a must go place would be Cafe Turtle. This cafe is on the top flood of a bookstore and whether you are all alone and in the mood of a retrospective coffee and indulgent chocolate cake session or on a afternoon date with your husband / girlfriend's / boyfriend or in the mood of a healthy light lunch - this is the place to be! You can hide behind a book in their small cozy inside area or hang-out on the terrace outside and enjoy the view while sipping on your wheat grass cooler. I am not going to give you a food review here coz anything I've had off their menu is great. But this is an all veg eclectic cafe and not a let's hang-out and have a loud conversation over beers (no alcohol served here) kinda place.

I hope this will help anyone visiting Delhi or people who have lived here all their life and don't know about these joints. It's 7:00am and as I sign-off from of my article I realize - I am all energised from all the food talk to face another fun and working Sunday (my baby bottles are sterilized and my son is all ready to get up and play, I have my menu for the day planned and as usual I am running on under 6 hours of sleep...).

Monday, April 6, 2009

Strawberry & Mascarpone on the Sponge...

This was an impromptu dessert to celebrate my son's monthly birthday. We hadn't gotten around to cutting a cake or celebrating his monthly Birthday on the 1st and I wanted to do something special for him over the weekend! We had a late Friday night and was up with my alarm clock (read: my son) at 6:30am.

I wanted a quick dessert completed within an hour before my boys woke up and demanded my attention... Delhi has become really really hot suddenly and I wanted to do something light and fluffy and fruity! I dug out a box of ready cake mix - moist vanilla cake flavor (Pillsbury). I thought I will bake a cake and add some fresh fruit and cream to it and voila my dessert would be ready.

I baked the cake according to the instructions and being a novice baker made added some Mascarpone cheese to the batter and baked it too much and instead of a white fluffy cake I found a flat bread like looking thing in my cake tin.

Anyways here goes the recipe:

Bake cake according to instructions on the box and add one yolk less and 2-3 tbsp Mascarpone cheese to the batter. Bake for 5-7 minutes less than what is mentioned on the box and let cake cool.

I then took equal parts Mascarpone cheese and heavy cream and whipped it together till slightly stiff with 1 tbsp Castor sugar and left it in the fridge (since it was too hot to leave it outside...). While the cake was cooling I ran to my "fruitwalla" and got a box of the most luscious looking strawberries to add to my dessert because I couldn't think of anything better than the bright blood red berries to offset the whiteness of the cake and cream...

If your cake rises nicely unlike mine then slice it from the middle and add 1/4 of the cream mixture and strawberries (cut into small bite sized pieces) and sandwich the two cakes together. Then take the remaining cream mixture and coat the cake on the outside and decorate with strawberries cut into halves.

That was my original idea which didn't pan out quite well... so this is what I did with my dessert:



I tried to slice my cake but that didn't turn out quite well so I cut out small round cakes from my big cake (using a sharp edged bowl). I then pretty much stuck to my original idea and used the marcarpone and cream mixture to sandwich together the cake and strawberries (as seen in the picture and I put the remnants of the cake I put them in glasses - alternating layers of cake, cream and strawberry's and topped it with a dollop of cream.
Despite my disastrous cake the end result turned out to be great. the mascarpone cheese in the cake gave it a a very soft texture dipped in syrup kinda texture and noone can really go wrong with strawberry's and cream!!!!
The dessert won me rave reviews from my in-laws and husband and he actually proclaimed it my best dessert ever! I wish the pictures could do justice to the taste but you will just have to take my word for it.
Till next time....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

(Healthy) Butter Chicken

Indian cooking is done from the heart and I don't think measuring spices and quantities to the 't' can give you the perfect end result - so you can slack a bit on the measurements I have mentioned and keep tasting the gravy to make it your liking. Good indian gravies always smell as nice as they taste so if you start getting a wierd whiff of anything, stop and take a step back. Taste your gravy and see what's gone wrong with it. Also, I have never been able to stick to the original recipe of any cookbook coz the personal touch you add to the recipe will give it it's unique flavor.

Indian cooking as most people know also gives also a dense heady aroma of spices so I like to prepapre my dishes in advance so I don't smell like the dish. I remember my rommie in NY would get a bit annoyed when I cooked in our small apartment coz she felt her coats would smell of the dish I had cooked (as you can guess her coat stand was right next to our open kitchen)! You need a nice big ventilated kitchen to be able to cook gravy and curry dishes and always switch on your exhaust!

My recipe for the butter chicken follows. Feel free to email me for any clarifications... and pictures will follow soon. I don't think I should bother being apologetic about not getting pictures up soon enough because a baby at home keeps my hands rather full. It seems like a rather long list of ingredients but don't get daunted!

Ingredients:

500gm boneless & skinless chicken breasts – cut into bite sized pieces

Marinade

3-4 cups yogurt / curd (hang in muslin cloth for 30 mins) – Use 1 cup for marinade and 1 cup for gravy. Squeeze as much water out of yougurt as you can before removing from muslin cloth.
2tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2tbsp any tandoori chicken masala (Recommended: Roopak’s Chicken Mughlai Masala)
1 pinch turmeric powder
Pinch of salt

Chicken Makhani Gravy
2-3 tbsp oil, 1 bay leaf (tej patta), 1tsp dry fenugreek leaves (kassori methi), 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, 1 tbsp sauted onion paste*, 1-2 whole dried red chili (kashimir mirch)
5-6 medium sized tomatoes blanched, peeled and pureed
1/2 cup tomato puree (ready-made)
2 tbsp cashewnuts (soaked in hot water, drained and ground into a fine paste)
1 cup milk
1 tbsp cream for garnishing
1tsp garam masala, ½ tsp red chili powder and ½ tsp dried coriander powder (optional)
¼ tsp sugar
Salt as per taste
1tbsp tandoori chicken masala (same as marinade)

Method:

There is prepration required to make this dish but if you plan a bit in advance you can prepare this in 30 minutes. It tastes great and is always great to have on the menu when tertaining and it isn’t too heavy on the waist. This can be made with chicken on the bone too but I prefer this with boneless chicken breasts.

Wash the chicken. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a big bowl. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge. (The chicken can be marinated overnight also).

Take a heavy bottom non-stick pan or non-stick pressure cooker. Add the oil – let it heat. Add the bay leave and stir for a couple of seconds. Now, put the sauted onion paste, ginger-garlic paste and red chili into your utensil of choice and saute for a couple of minutes. At this point I also add all the dry spices - garam masala, tandoori chicken masala, coriander poweder and fenugreek leaves and saute this further for a couple of seconds.

Add all the pureed tomatoes (first fresh and then ready-made) and sugar and cook till the oil starts separating from this mixture and the color turns slightly brownish.

Now spoon in the prepared cashewnut paste and stir for a few minutes till it has completely mixed in the gravy. Add about ½ a cup of water or keep adding more till you get a slightly thich gravy / curry.

Add the marinated chicken, 1/2 of the remaining hung yogurt and simmer till the excess water given off by the yogurt has evapourated and the chicken is almost cooked. Add salt to taste. Give this a whistle if cooking in the pressure cooker or simmer and cover utensil till chicken is cooked if using a heavy bottom pan. Incase you feel the gravy is not creamy enough - add the remaining yogurt.

Add the milk and keep stirring slowly and bring to boil. At this point do taste your curry and see how it tastes and tinker with it a bit to refine it! Remember to not overcook the chicken since the chicken breasts can become a bit chewy if they are.

Garnish with swirls of cream and enjoy!

TIPS:

If it’s too spicy and thick – you can a couple of tsps of milk and simmer it.
If your gravy is not creamy enough or it’s too spicy – you can a tbsp of yogurt.
If the spice level is a bit on the lower side – you can add more of the tandoori masala.
* I always keep a paste of well sauted (browned) onions in my kitchen and use it in all my gravy dishes. Instead of the sauted onion paste you can use a small finely chopped onion. After sauteing it - do puree it otherwise there will be onion pieces floating in the gravy. You can also elimitae the onion paste - but I think it adds flavor, color and a nice earthy taste to the makhani gravy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oye Delhi! Delhi Oye!

I had meant to put up a few new recipes with pictures et al but I have been stranded without help for the last few days and I just realized how difficult it is to successfully manage a house and a 5 month old… so I decided to dedicate this post to the quest for good food in Delhi.

When my husband and I moved to Delhi back in August 2007 we would be out most weekends looking for good sit-down places to relax at or soak in the ambience of, enjoy a nice quiet meal or sometimes all that mattered was great food! We don’t know a lot of people our age here so we would always be on the lookout for ways of discovering new places to eat it – magazine reviews, Google searches, you name it we have tried and it and it has been quite an adventure. I thought I will put down my feedback and reviews of some of the eateries on my blog so people who are looking for good food know where to go and where not to go!

To give my friends living abroad a bit of a background – Delhi is the capital of India and it’s a big sprawling city comparable to Washington D.C but Mumbai is the place to party at all night long and is always buzzing with activity (like NYC!!!). I have been in Delhi for over a year and being a hardcore Bombayite / Mumbaitie I’m still trying to adjust to the city’s idiosyncrasies but the one thing I cannot deny is that there most probably is not a single Indian restaurant in Delhi that can ruin a Butter Chicken (Indian Curry Chicken) or Dal Makhani (Indian lentils). Finding the same in Mumbai can be quite a challenge…

One place where my husband and I used to frequent a lot is The Big Chill CafĂ© – done up with a Serendipity 3 like ambience (http://www.serendipity3.com/ - my favoritest restaurant in NYC) – is a gastronomic delight and great place to chill at. The ambience is great (a bit retro), the crowd young and eclectic and the place is done up with posters from yesteryear’s Hollywood classics. You can’t go wrong with anything of the menu, the servers are very courteous and will try to fine tune a dish to suit it to your tastes. Our typical order at this joint is – the baked potato with chicken and mayonnaise (yumm - i can taste it as I write about it - it is always perfectly baked with the potato topped with a perfect combination of mayaonaise and chicken as the name suggest and a big dollop of cheese so each bite just melts into your mouth), the chicken peri peri (a fiery mouth watering pasta which seems like a fusion of Indian and Italian spices - again a full bodied sauce makes this pasta dish taste great). the pasta is served with their signature bread that is nice and buttery and perfect to balance the spice in the pasta. We always end our meal with the Mississippi Mudpie (I think this is the yummiest dessert I have ever eaten!!!). The Mississippi Mudpie portion can serve 3-4 people but however full our tummies Alok and I always manage to wolf this one down completely. It is the perfect combination of coffee ice-cream with a base of peanut butter laid on a chocolaty crust topped with hot chocolate fudge sauce and each bite just melts into your mouth. The only complain I have of this place is that is not kid friendly (so we now have to order take out) and if you plan on visiting this one the wait for getting a table varies between 20-40 minutes even on weekdays!

I think I will have to end this post for now since I haven't gotten more than 3 hours of sleep over the last few days... but I promise to follow this up soon with my healthy but yummy Butter Chicken recipe and more reviews of restaurants & bars in Delhi.

Anyone need the address of Big Chill can email me and this is one meal I gaurantee you will always remember!!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Seafood Delight

So, I don’t have a new recipe as yet but do have some “good seafood” places that I can suggest which I am sure can buy me some time. Born and brought up in Bombay (still getting used to calling it Mumbai) to a hardcore North Indian foodie family has me strongly inculcated into the seafood culture.


Seafood connoisseurs would look down at me but my favorite fish is pomfret and I prefer it over all seafood delicacies! I still have childhood memories of eating the yummiest fried fish from Jai Jawan, located on Linking Road in Mumbai. If you can reach National College I am sure your nose can guide you to his shop from there. This one is not for the hoity-toity and some of you may not be able to sum up enough courage to eat from here. My dad is always on the lookout for places with great food even if they seem like a “hole in the wall” kinda place and this one was his discovery. Everyone who visits Mumbai has heard of Trishna and Mahesh Lunch Home (apparently their crab is to die for but I am not a crab lover) but other little known places which my husband and dad love to visit are Sayaba, again in Bandra and Gajalee at Vile Parle (E). Needless to say, you cannot go very wrong ordering anything off the menu in the latter two places.


India has great Seafood available in Southern India but I shall leave that for another post… though I can’t sign-off without mentioning Singapore (http://www.wutravel.com/hotels/singapore/singapore/?a_aid=6358565b). The seafood in Singapore is meant for the Indian palate. You cannot complete a visit to the city without having the famous fish head curry at Muthu’s Curry restaurant. The fish head curry as the name suggests is a huge head of fish eye staring in a sumptuous spicy curry ready to be devoured. I am attaching a picture of what was left of the fish after we were done eating. The chicken dish next to it was untouched (usually prefer chicken over fish) is proof enough that the fish curry was heavenly! Another must try in Singapore is the chilli crab at any restaurant at Boat Quay but Jumbo Seafood is highly recommended by my husband.



I shall try to put up more global seafood restaurant recommendations but till then enjoy the upcoming weekend!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Simmmply Chocolicious!

I just had to dedicate my first blog post to a chocolate recipe... coz I am a great chocolate fan and can eat it all day. Also, crunchy chocolate is one of my favouritest (is that even a word) things!

I am still trying to master the art of food photography, so please bear with me for now... I am sure the food will soon start LOOKING as appetising as it tastes.

This recipe is a spin-off from one of Nigella Lawson's recipes (http://www.nigella.com/). These crunchy chocolate bars are a heavenly combination of dark chocolate and toasted nuts and melt in your mouth. They can be stored in an air tight container (but trust me they won't last that long) to give you a sudden lift me up on days that you are low and need a chocolate high! They also make a great quick dessert and can be served with a scoop of vanilla or coconut ice-cream and I can gaurantee you rave reviews after the party :).

So without further ado - here is the recipe

300gm Dark Chocolate (you can choose Milk Chocolate also)
125gm Butter
75ml Golden Syrup
250gm Digestive Biscuits (I used McVitie's)
100gm Toasted Nuts (I used a combination of Almonds, Walnuts and Peanuts)

> Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler and add the golden syrup till they are really well blended.

> I used my hands to crush the digestive biscuits since they were really soft already - you want a combination of pieces and crumbs. If you use any other brand you can just put them in a freezer bag and use a rolling pin on them as long as you get the same effect.

> The nuts need to be coarsely chopped. The peanuts I used were already toasted and had a dash of salt in them (which added to the overall flavour).

> Mix the biscuits and nuts together with your hands in a rectangular foil tray - add about half the melted chocolate mixture and mix really well. Then flatten this mixture as best as you can (not with your hands this time or you will have chocolate all over them!). If you feel the dry ingredients are not well coated - add a bit more of the melted chocolate.

> Pour the remaining chocolate over this flattened mass and evenly spread it with the back of a spoon or spatula.

> Leave it overnight in the refrigerator. Cut into squares or rectangles and enjoy!
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