Thursday, April 30, 2009
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
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.
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.
Lights have come. Cake goes back in over. 30 minutes later I have a very very flat cake. Totally Expected.
My son's food is in the food processor and the very very flat cake is cooling on the rack.
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.
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
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
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
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.
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:
Thursday, April 2, 2009
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!
500gm boneless & skinless chicken breasts – cut into bite sized pieces
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)
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!
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.