Monday, December 17, 2012

Chocolate Truffles

Want to gift something home made that looks pretty and tastes equally good too? How about some truffles? Last year I baked the rich Indian plum cake and gifted them to all the german friends we had made over time. Not only were they stunned with the gesture, they were equally appreciative of our christmas tradition and relished the same. In return, one of the families gifted us with home made truffles. While we live in the land of Lindt and Nestle, the world famous European chocolates, I was taken aback by how delicious home made truffles tasted. Honestly, as I mentioned, we need no reason to make them at home cause when it comes to chocolate, we do get the best. But curiosity got hold of me and I was more than tempted to give a shot to making them myself. 

This is a german recipe which I have tried from one of the many german magazines that I have begun to buy. What surprises me is the use of our spices in so many german christmas preparations. While cinnamon and cardamom are used on a regular basis in our Indian cooking, germans tend to use them more in their christmas baking. 
These truffles are easy to make, taste real good and when wrapped in delicate film with a catching ribbon to go, it does make for a great christmas gift. While the original recipe called for the truffles to be dusted with cocoa powder, we found it to be bitter, hence I used dessicated coconut to roll them in. 

Ingredients:
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 175 ml whipped cream
  • 2" cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 1 star anise
  • 150gm white couverture chocolate
  • 250 gm milk couverture chocolate
  • 80 gm soft butter
  • a bowl of desiccated coconut


Method:

  1. Slit the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds carefully. In a thick bottomed vessel, mix the cream along with the vanilla seeds and bean too(after you have scraped the bean do not discard it). Add the cinnamon sticks, cardamoms and star anise. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and keep it aside so that the spices are infused into the cream well.
  3. Meanwhile chop the white and milk chocolate into smaller pieces with a sharp knife. Place them in a deep bowl(preferably glass)
  4. Strain the infused cream. Discard the spices, and bring the cream once again to a boil.
  5. Pour the hot cream into the chopped chocolate. Keep stirring till the cream and chocolate are melted and mixed together well.
  6. Wrap the bowl in a cling film and refrigerate it for 5 hours.
  7. After 5 hours, add the melted butter to the chocolate mixture and stir well. If the mix is too hard, use your hands. Refrigerate it for another hour.
  8. Line a flat tray with butter paper. Remove the chocolate mix. Scoop out small mounds of the mass and roll it against your palms to form small sized truffles. Roll the truffles in the dessicated coconut and arrange them on the tray. Use up all the chocolate mix. You should be able to make around 60 truffles.
  9. They keep well for up to a week in the refrigerator. Before serving, bring them to room temperature.
Note: If you are unable to find couverture chocolate you can replace it with ordinary chocolate.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Choco Almond cookies

So the big fluffy flakes finally fell upon us or rather whole of Germany. Too bad for the kids who were eagerly waiting to go sleighing. The hubby and I have been taking turns falling ill with the normal fever and cold. I guess we are growing old hence our bodies are taking time to adjust to the onset of winter. For me this is just the wrong month to be even lying in bed. With the umpteen jobs to be done, I really had to get better soon. It was hard convincing the kids though that we needed to stay indoors. We had to be content watching the snow flakes fall gently. 

Today's batch of cookies is the one I first began my advent baking experiment with. According to the kids, they rate number one in the entire batch of baking I have done so far. The reason being the secret ingredient - CHOCOLATE. You really can't separate the two, Kids and chocolate, can you? Not only did the experimental batch get over soon, over the next few days, as they munched on the different varieties, a small question would be heard every now and then "When are you going to bake the chocolate ones again?". Bake I did, only to promptly store them all in my new christmas tins and hide them from the hungry mouths. This mommy needs a break, truly!! and the cookies will come out of hiding just in time for Christmas!! :D


Ingredients:

  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 30 g cocoa powder
  • 100 g hazelnuts with skin, powdered
  • 100 g almonds with skin, powdered
  • 50 g almonds peeled and chopped into fine bits
  • 200 g powdered sugar + for rolling the dough(optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp clove powder
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp almond essence
  • Halved almonds to garnish

Method:
  1. Grate the chocolate fine.
  2. Beat the egg whites till creamy(not until they are stiff peaks).
  3. In a bowl mix the cocoa powder, powdered hazelnut and almond, chopped almonds, powdered sugar, cinnamon and clove powders. Add the grated chocolate and mix very well.
  4. Add the beaten egg whites and almond essence. Knead well to form a tight dough. If the dough is not tight enough add more almond powder ( I didn't need any).
  5. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Line a baking tray with baking paper. 
  7. On a clean surface, sprinkle some sugar and roll out the dough. With the help of a knife cut into small squares( 1" x 1"). Place halved almonds on each square and line them neatly on the baking tray.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200 C.
  9. Bake the cookies on the middle rack for 8 to 10 minutes(At 8 minutes they are chewy which Ms A loves and a little more time makes them crisp and nutty which the remainder of us like).
  10. Remove, let cool. Once completely cool, store them in an air tight tin.


With this, I am done with the german cookie recipes. Next on my to bake list is the rich plum cake and my heart desires to make the mangy kidiyos and neuris. Keeping my fingers crossed to achieve all of the above.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ginger cashew cookies

I do not know if the season of advent stresses you out, but it does to me. So much to do, so little time. I am kind of waiting to tick of all the jobs on my to do list. These were the next batch of cookies I made last week. Husband loved them, the kids were kind of neutral, maybe because they preferred the Zimtsterne and butter cookies to these. I will be baking more of them the following week.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 70 g butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150 gm finely chopped cashew nuts
  • 70 g all purpose flour sieved
  • 100 g finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder

Method:

  1. Beat well the sugar and butter together.
  2. Add the yolks of the egg one at a time and continue beating.
  3. Add the finely chopped cashew nuts, candied ginger, flour, and ginger powder.
  4. Knead together to form a smooth dough.
  5. Wrap in a cling foil film and refrigerate for half an hour.
  6. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 170 C
  7. Form small sized balls(roughly a medium sized marble), flatten them slightly to look like above and place them in neat rows on the tray.
  8. Place a cashew nut on each of the cookie.
  9. Bake the cookies for around 10 to 12 minutes till they are golden brown. Be careful not to burn.
  10. Remove them and let them cool well. Store in an air tight jar. 

Notes:

  • When you remove the cookies out, they will feel soft. They are supposed to be that way. As they cool, they get hard.
  • The above batch makes about 50 cookies.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pepper Chicken


We had our first snowfall yesterday. In fact we woke up to this scene outside our windows. First snow fall of the year is always special, especially for the kids. They eagerly look forward to making snowballs and snowmen coupled with sleighing downhill. Last year we barely had any, so they missed out on all of the above. Since this is our last European winter, I too have been kind of silently wishing that they are not disappointed and that the snow gods will send us some big white fluffy flakes soon.
With the snow, it also means that the temperatures keeps plunging low into the negative. What better way than to keep ourself warm with a hot spicy gravy for lunch. This was where the pepper chicken came to our rescue. Soft tender pieces of chicken gently stewed with spices and relished with whole wheat bread. Yum, yum, yum!!!

Ingredients:
  • 1 kilo chicken, cleaned and cut into small pieces
  • 4 large onions chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 large green chilli finely chopped
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 6 cloves
  • 4 " cinnamon stick
  • 3 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • salt to taste
(not the best pic, thanks to the snowfall and hardly any light)

Method:
  1. In a thick bottomed vessel, heat the ghee. When hot add the mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, drop in the whole spices and curry leaves. Stir for 10 seconds.
  2. Add the chopped onions, green chilli, ginger garlic paste and fry well till the onions are slightly brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes and fry well till the onion and tomatoes are all mushy and formed into a rough paste(10 to 15 minutes).
  4. Add the powders : coriander, cumin, pepper and turmeric and fry well for another 5 minutes.
  5. Drop in the chicken pieces, stir carefully to coat all of them with the onion tomato masala. Fry it on high heat for 5 minutes. Take care not to burn.
  6. Lower the heat and cook covered for 15 minutes or till chicken is tender. Do not add any water as the juices from the chicken will be released. If you feel the gravy is dry and burning then add a quarter cup of water. If you would like it dry, then skip the water but take care to see that the dish does not burn.
  7. Serve hot with whole wheat bread and a side serving of salad of your choice.
Note: 
  • I didn't add any water at all. The gravy is the chicken broth on its own.
  • This preparation is on the spicier side. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Zimtsterne - German cookies

I am doing a happy jingle today. Cause I got these cinnamon stars just right!! Or rather the icing, PERFEKT!! The last time I made them was over 2 years ago. Then, I referred to an english version of the cookies. Since then, I have come a long away. It shows in the cookies themselves. Being able to read and also understand the german language(especially recipes) has helped me tremendously!! 
While I thought there was only one recipe with almonds for the Zimtsterne, the Advent baking book of mine told me something else. There were different kinds of recipes for the same star, some with different spices, some with a different kind of icing, and others with a mix of nuts(which today's recipe is). 

To tell you the truth, I do not know why these cookies are called Zimtsterne. Zimt means cinammon and sterne means stars. The sterne part is explainable, but zimt ?? As you dig into these cookies, you get the slightest hint of spice, what is dominant though is the nutty, chewy texture of almonds.I guess some things just remain at that with no explanation..:-)
Coming back to the recipe, I followed the ingredients mentioned in my book, a mix of hazelnut and almond powders. For the method, I went against what I read in both the book and the internet. As we go along, will tell you why I decided to do it differently.


Ingredients:

For the cookie dough:
  • 2 egg whites
  • 150 gm powdered sugar.
  • 150 gm almonds with skin, powdered 
  • 150 gm hazelnuts with skin, powdered 
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tbsp orange peel
  • salt to taste

For the icing:

  • 1 egg white
  • 100 gm powdered sugar.
Method:
For the cookies:

  1. Beat the egg whites and powdered sugar together till you get soft snowy peaks.
  2. In a bowl, mix the hazelnut and almond powders along with the salt, cinnamon and orange peel.
  3. Add the beaten egg mixture slowly to the above and knead together to form a dough(pictured above).
  4. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate it for an hour.
  5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  6. Sprinkle powdered sugar on a clean surface and flatten the dough to 1/4" thickness(or less). 
  7. Cut out stars and neatly arrange them on the tray(pictured above).
  8. Bake for 20 minutes at 150 C. 
  9. Take them out and let them cool. 
  10. Prepare the icing by beating together the egg white and the powdered sugar. The mixture should be thick.
  11. Apply the icing on the cookies with the help of a spoon(I used the back of a small baby spoon to spread out the icing on each star pictured above).
  12. The icing should set in about 20 to 30 minutes.
  13. Store the cookies in an air tight jar. Can be kept for upto 2 weeks.

Notes:
  1. 99% of the recipes apply the icing before baking the cookies. Why I decided to try this method was with the past experience of having done the same and not resulting in pretty cookies. A comment from fellow blogger Shireen as to how she did it and stumbling upon a video which supported her theory I decided to give this method a try. Since the above icing is nothing but royal icing, the cookies taste equally good and you can keep them for upto 2 weeks.
  2. If you would like to bake the cookies along with the icing,  after step 7, apply the icing on the stars and bake them at 150 C for 20 minutes. Take care that the icing does not get brown. 
  3. If you would like to prepare zimtsterne with almonds, then simply skip the hazelnut powder and use 300 gm of almond powder instead.



Monday, November 26, 2012

Tandoori Chicken

I am in a mood to lament about a lot of things. Foremost being the weather. But then, I choose to do that on my other blog and shall concentrate here only on the food.
Not a day goes by where I remember all the people who provided me back home with fresh veggies, fruits, groceries and at times, our emergency meals. One of them was kabab wala on Sarjapur road. The tandoori chicken and kababs this joint made were so deliciously succulent that we needed no excuse to bring them home every other day or two.
Once we moved here, I so missed this place a lot especially on the days when my body was sore with all the german cleaning I had done!!! Since Lohr has no authentic Indian restaurant at all, most of the time, for our emergency meals we have to make do with a pizza or just german bread with the cold meat.

But then, how long can we just sit and remember the food we loved so much? Not very long. Thanks to a fellow expat who told me how to go about with this recipe in the oven. It turned out perfect. In a week's time I prepared it twice just cause the kids wanted more. I skipped the red colour cause it wasn't available and I felt that the colour was the least important ingredient.

Source: vahrehvah.com (spice levels altered to suit our taste)

Ingredients:
  • Chicken legs: 6 or a kilo
  • Coriander powder  1 tsp
  • Cumin powder 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
  • Ginger garlic paste 1 tbsp
  • Pepper powder 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder 3 tsp
  • Turmeric powder 1 tsp
  • salt to taste
  • Lemon juice of half a lemon
  • Yoghurt 6 tbsp
Method:
  1. Clean the chicken legs, pat them dry and make 2 to 3 slits across them.
  2. Apply the salt, 1 tsp of red chilli powder and lemon juice to the legs and keep aside for 15 mins.
  3. Make the marinade paste by mixing all the powders including the remaining teaspoons of chilli powder and ginger garlic paste along with the yoghurt. Mix well. Add more salt if required.
  4. Apply this paste to the chicken legs taking care to see that they are well coated especially in the areas where there are slits.
  5. Refrigerate the marinated chicken for 4 hours. The longer it is kept the better. 
  6. Line an oven tray(I use the tray provided with the oven) with aluminium foil. Preheat the oven to 220 C.
  7. Place the chicken legs neatly on the aluminium foil in the tray(This helps the chicken to cook in its own juices and at the same time gets the well grilled look)
  8. Place the tray in the centre of the oven. Using the fan grill function cook the chicken pieces for 35 to 40 minutes(turning halfway between).
  9. Serve with sliced rings of onion, lemon wedges and tomatoes.
Note:
I did not use any oil as the chicken we get here has its own fat content which is released during the cooking process.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Delicate butter cookies


I have begun experimenting with german goodies on a small scale. Last year as I was attending a german course, to help myself get acquainted with the language I decided to read and understand recipes. Call it strange, but I love reading cookbooks and I thought what better way to try understanding a new language. Over time the first cook book I purchased was Backin im Advent(Baking in Adevnt). As the need for the google translator decreased I found myself getting excited at the prospect of just being able to understand simple recipes. 
The germans use their ovens a lot and I do mean A LOT!!! If I am right, the use of their cooktop(our cooking range) is minimal. Most of my local friends are surprised that most of us Indians may or may not have an oven in our homes. If they were to see the teeny tiny one I have in India, it surely would give their hearts quite a flutter..:D 
The first year we celebrated the season of advent in Germany I was amazed at the variety of christmas goodies. Cookies of different sizes, shapes and colour, truffles, pralines, gingerbread men and to go along with it the warm spiced glühwein. Even more surprising was that almost all the households baked their own treats. I found that very hard to believe cause that meant the germans baked REAL GOOD.

(For the commotion from the trio behind me, I did a pretty good job with the pictures!! Note to self: No more food photography when the family is home)

This year I have decided to along with the german trend of baking my christmas sweets. It's healthier and much easier. I will be baking the traditional Indian plumcake and if time permits the much loved kidiyo..:-) 
Coming back to my experiments, this particular book has more than 100 recipes. Surely I am not going to bake them all. I shortlisted around 10 of them and decided to try them when and as time was available. Depending on how good they went with the family, I would then prepare them on a larger scale. Last week I tried the first recipe, Almond Choco cookies, about 50 of them. In less than 24 hours they were over. I vowed that I would be baking them next only a few days before Christmas cause at the rate the family went I think I should camp next to the oven!!!
The next in line were these butter cookies. If not for repeated pleas to slow down you wouldn't be seeing this recipe too..:D Trust me, they are so good, you won't regret baking them.

(The autumn sun which shows itself rarely rending its glow on the buttery cookies)

Ingredients:
  • 250 gm white flour/maida
  • 100 gm sugar
  • 1 tsp candied orange peel
  • 125 gm cold butter(it shouldn't have melted)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • cookie cutters
Method:
  1. Sieve the flour. Cut the butter into small sized cubes.
  2. In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, orange peel and cubed butter. Add the egg yolks, mix and knead well to form a soft dough*. 
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate it for 2 hours.
  4. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper. Heat the oven to 170 C.
  5. On a clean platform, sprinkle a little bit of flour. Roll out the dough(roughly 3 to 4mm thick). With your cookie cutters cut the shapes and place them on the baking tray. Do not crowd the tray.
  6. Keep shaping the cookies till you finish the dough.
  7. Bake them for 15 to 20* minutes till golden yellow.
  8. Remove them and let them cool.
  9. ENJOY.
Note:
  1. When you begin kneading it kind of resembles bread crumbs. Keep going with your fingers and the dough comes along beautifully.
  2. The baking time is dependant on your oven. The original recipe called for 10 minutes baking time. In that time my cookies were looking exactly the same as when I had placed them in. The perfect timing for my batch was 18 minutes. What I would suggest is for you to keep watch as they are baking and use your judgement to remove them out.
  3. The above recipe makes 45 to 50 cookies.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Prawn Pulao

Who doesn't love a recipe that is fast to prepare, but tastes as though you have put in a whole lot of effort to it. Well, I do. I prepared this simple prawn pulao for our Sunday meal and the entire process took me only 40 minutes. No kidding!! So here we go.


Ingredients:

  • Prawns 500gms
  •  2 medium sized onions
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 100 gm curds
  • salt to taste
  • 4-5 tbsp oil
  • coriander leaves to garnish
For the rice:
  • 500 gms Basmati rice 
  • 1 litre boiling hot water
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 3 green cardamom, 2 black cardamom

Source: Thangam Philip's book of Modern cookery

Method:

For the prawns:
  1. Shell, devein and wash the prawns well. Keep aside.
  2. Slice the onions and chop the tomatoes fine.
  3. Heat oil in a shallow pan. When hot add the sliced onions and fry till golden brown(quite brown).
  4. When done, add the cumin seeds and chopped tomatoes. Fry well till the whole mixture is mushy together(6 to 8 minutes).
  5. Add the prawns, coriander, turmeric and chilli powders. Add salt too. Fry the prawns well for 10 to 12 minutes adding the curds slowly at a time.
  6. If you wish you can add very little water(I didn't) and simmer till prawns are tender. The gravy should be thick.
  7. When done sprinkle with garam masala powder.
For the rice:
  1. Wash the rice, strain and keep.
  2. In a deep bottomed vessel heat oil. When hot add the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Fry for a minute.
  3. Add the rice and fry well for 5 to 8 minutes till you have a nice aroma. Take care as to not to burn the rice.
  4. When done add 3/4th litre of the piping hot water. Cover and cook. 
  5. If the water has evaporated add the remaining hot water and cook till done.
Assembling:
Once the rice is ready, arrange the rice and prawn with the gravy in layers. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with a cold raitha of your choice.

Notes:
  1. The above is my method of preparing the rice. I generally add a little less of the required quantity of water so that the rice doesn't get too mushy. If required I then keep adding little amounts of water till the rice is perfectly cooked.
  2. If you have any other method of preparing the pulao rice then by all means go ahead. 
  3. While the recipe called for layering the prawn with gravy and rice, I mixed it all well cause that is how we like it.
  4. While the rice was cooking I simultaneously prepared the prawns. The process from start to finish took me 35 to 40 minutes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chickpea/Kabuli Chana Fugad

We Mangaloreans are good at making fugad of every available legume or vegetable...:D That is one of the reasons why I feel I am unable to prepare any other vegetable curry..lol!! Ask my husband as to how I break into a sweat when we have shudh vegetarians over for lunch. Cause my basic knowledge of preparing veggies is reduced to fugad!!
Since our arrival to Germany and having gotten ourselves acquainted with Indian families who are vegetarians has encouraged me to take a bold step and whip up some veggie delights. I will definitely post some of the delicious vegetable gravies I have prepared, but for now, back to this dear chickpea fugad of mine.

Every family will have it's own unique way of preparing it. Here is mine.

Ingredients:

  • A cup of chickpeas soaked overnight.
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • a sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tsp bafath powder
  • a handful of freshly grated coconut.
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste
Method:
  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight for 12 hours.
  2. Drain them. Place them in a pressure cooker with enough water so that they are soaked well(roughly an inch above the peas). Add salt to taste and pressure cook till just about tender(They shouldn't be too soft). Since I use a german pressure cooker with no whistle, it takes me about roughly 15 to 20 minutes to cook.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the onion fine. Chop the tomato. Crush the garlic with skin.
  4. In a deep bottomed vessel or kadhai, heat the oil. When sufficiently hot add the mustard seeds. As they splutter drop in the curry leaves and crushed garlic. Fry for a few seconds.
  5. Add the sliced onion, fry for 2 minutes. Drop in the chopped tomato and fry well till both onion and tomato blend together. 
  6. Toss in the grated coconut and bafath powder. Mix well.
  7. Now add the cooked channa, a little of the stock(depends on how dry you want it). Mix well so that the coconut and masala is coated well around the peas. Adjust salt.
  8. Cook on a slow flame till peas are well cooked and water is absorbed. Do not allow it to burn.
  9. Have it with hot rotis or rice and sambhar.

Note: Since I had very few strips of fresh coconut, I added a fistful of dessicated coconut.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Malabar meatball curry

One of the things hubby loved to come home with is fresh flowers(smiles) and at times a newly purchased cookery book. While I used to love the flowers, the sight of the book used to literally amuse me. I would have have barely prepared a few recipes from the last purchased book and bang, a new one would have arrived. 
One such book was Modern Cookery by Thangam Philip. A no frills, no fancy kind of book with just recipes jotted down along with a few chapters dedicated to how to go about in the kitchen with your ingredients and food. This particular book also didn''t restrict itself to a particular region or cuisine of India. Thangam Philip had it all. Pretty soon, it turned out to be the most loved and used book of mine. I thought it fitting to note down the most loved recipes of her's in this blog. 


Source: Modern Cookery for teaching and the trade by Thangam Philip
Ingredients:

For the meat balls:

  • Minced meat 500 gms(beef)
  • Green chillies 4
  • 1 large onion
  • 1" piece ginger
  • salt to taste
For the curry:
  • 7 Red Kashmiri chillies
  • 2 short red chillies
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1" piece ginger
  • 8 flakes garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/2 " cinnamon
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds(saunf)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 5 tbsp water for grinding spices 
For tempering:
  • 1 tbsp each oil and ghee 
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • a pinch of mustard seeds
  • 2 pods red onions or 1 small onion sliced

Method:
  1. Grind the minced meat in a mixer with the ingredients mentioned in for the meat balls.
  2. Add salt and form into 25 balls.
  3. Dry roast the red chillies and coriander seeds.
  4. Grind together along with the ginger, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, fennel seeds, turmeric powder, tomatoes and water(The paste should be thick).
  5. In a vessel, heat oil and ghee together.
  6. When hot, add mustard seeds.
  7. As the seeds crackle, add the curry leaves and sliced onions. Fry them well till brown.
  8. Add the ground curry paste and fry for 10 minutes till you get a nice aroma.
  9. Rinse the mixer of the ground paste with a cup of water. Add this water to the fried paste and bring it to a boil.
  10. Add the meat balls one by one to the simmering liquid. Cook over a slow fire for 20 to 30 minutes.
  11. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust salt and serve with hot rice or bread of choice.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Mackerel Pickle

Growing up in the coastal town of Mangalore, South India, brown rice and fresh fish curry was our staple diet. Mum's "gandh kadi" with "fresh masli" was something we looked forward to everyday. Monsoons were hard on the food front when fresh fish was replaced by "sukhi masli"(dry fish) and an occasional bikna(jackfruit seeds) curry. While mum enjoyed these delicacies I always waited for the time when the fishermen could venture out into the seas once again.
Post marriage, the firs thing I did was to search for a place where I could buy brown rice along with a fish merchant. I was fortunate to find the very best of fish shops wherever and whenever we moved within Bangalore. The last five years saw me become chaddi dosth with a fish merchant in Jakkasandra, Koramangala. The freshest fish was home delivered to me week after week, month after month for five long years. Friends always asked me whether he ever cheated or sent me rotten fish home. Never!!! Such was my trust in him to provide me with the very fresh. The regret I have of not having been able to properly bid him goodbye..:-) Such are my memories of the fish delicacies I had back home, thanks to him.


On arrival to Deutschland we were in for a rude shock. Having arrived during peak winter, fish was hardly available. The two or three local varieties of fresh water fish that we tried had to be promptly thrown into the bin. It was with dismay that we passed the first few months without our fish delicacies. Once spring arrived, so also familiar fish in the markets. Mackerel was one of them. I still remember the excitement we had to bring the fish home and fry it..:D Over a period of time, we had mussels and squids making a rare appearance. My Indian friend in Switzerland recommended Pangasius which also made for delicious curries. We were content till winter arrived again and the fish slowly stopped in the markets. By then we figured out that fish in winter was simply not available.  By the third winter we decided to give freezing three months of fish supply a shot. It worked like a charm. This year, our fourth and last season of winter I chose to go a step further. Apart from freezing some, I thought I'd make some pickle too, for the cold wintry days. Thus began my search for a simple recipe. Having found one and also hitting a jackpot with the fresh curry leaves, the following was the end result. 


Source:  BBC Food recipes(adapted to suit our palette)

INGREDIENTS:




For the marinade:
  • 1 kg oily fish such as king fish or mackerel cut into 1 cm cubes.
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • sunflower oil for frying

For the pickle base:
  • 6 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 5 sprigs curry leaves
  • 150 g fresh ginger chopped
  • 150 g fresh garlic chopped


For the fish pickle powder:
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
  • a pinch asafoetida
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100 ml white vinegar








Method:
  1. Place the fish pieces in a bowl. Add the salt, chilli and turmeric powders(for the marinade ingredients). Mix well so that all the pieces are coated evenly with the spice powders. Set aside for an hour.
  2. Heat oil in a deep heavy based frying pan. Carefully lower the marinated fish pieces into the hot oil and fry for 3-5 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.
  3. Prepare the fish pickle powder by mixing all the powders with 1 tbsp water  and NOT the vinegar. Mix well to make a paste.
  4. For the pickle base, heat oil in a separate frying pan. When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds. Once the seeds have popped, add the curry leaves, chopped ginger and garlic. Fry over low heat for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the fish pickle paste to the above and stir well until combined. Fry well for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture darkens in colour.
  6. Slowly add the fried fish pieces into the above mixture and stir well. Add the vinegar and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the pan from heat . Adjust salt. Set aside to cool.
  7. Once the pickle has cooled, transfer it into a vacuum sealed glass jar. Store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before using.

Note:

  1. Since this was my first time preparing fish pickle, I attempted to separate the bones and flesh in the raw state, cut it into 1 cm cubes and then deep fry. It was tiring, cumbersome and I ended up with small bruises on my hands. What I would do the next time would be to cut the fish into 2 or 3 pieces, deep fry them and then separate the flesh into the required size. 
  2. I have used a little more of ginger and garlic than what the original recipe called for. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chicken Sukka

A big hello to all..:-)
I am back with the recipe of a favourite dish of ours. 
Having come to Germany with limited cargo, one of the things I chose to leave behind were my precious cookery books. Isidore Coelho's "The Chef" being one of them.The decision was made thanks to our week's pre trip 3 years ago.  I more or less came to the conclusion that sourcing basic Indian ingredients would be hard and was I right. The first few months were indeed a struggle to cook for a well seasoned chef like me. 
Over a period of time I learnt to substitute wherever possible or make do without some ingredients like fresh curry leaves. Last week when I spotted some in an asian store we regularly visit, I felt I had hit the jackpot. I grabbed whatever packs were left much to the amusement of my hubby. He couldn't figure out what would I do with so many leaves. I told him to leave that worry to me. Since then, I have been taking a leaf or two from the refrigerator just to take a whiff of the strong scent. I had forgotten what it smelt like. This week's meals have been tasting oh so different too. Thanks to the seasoning with this special ingredient.
Coming back to the chicken sukka, you may wonder how did I get the recipe? My sister has been kind enough to mail me some of my favourite recipes from the book. Thanks a ton Annie..:-)


Source: Isidore Coelho's THE CHEF

Ingredients:

  • 1 tender chicken
  • 1 cup scraped coconut
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp pepper corns
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 8 long dry red chillies
  • 3 short dry red chillies
  • 1 tbsp raw rice
  • salt to taste
  • vinegar to taste
For the seasoning:
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 1 sprig curry leaves



Method:

  • Wash the chicken, cut it into small sized pieces.
  • Cook it in very little water and salt to taste till tender.
  • Dry roast in a pan or thava the coriander, cumin seeds, peppercorns, dry red chillies. Roast the rice too till it is puffed up and brown. Powder all together with the turmeric powder.
  • Slice the onion fine. In a deep bowl mix well the cut onion, powdered masala and scraped coconut together.
  • In a  deep bottomed vessel heat the ghee. When hot drop in the coconut masala mixture along with the curry leaves and fry well for around 5 minutes till you get a nice aroma.
  • Drop in the cooked chicken pieces(without the water) one by one, mixing carefully so that the masala coats the pieces well. Depending on how dry you want the dish, you can add the required amount of water. I added only 6 tbsps of the chicken broth as I wanted a dry but moist dish.
  • Cook for 8 - 10 minutes till done.  Adjust salt and add vinegar to taste. Serve hot with rotis or brown bread with a side serving of salad.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Egg Stumbler

I cannot believe it, but the first day of the six week summer vacation of the kids is over. More than them, I have been waiting like crazy for this break. While schooling here in Deutschland is completely different to that in India, there is a kind of frenzy towards the final two months before the holidays. It's not exams, the kids are assessed throughout the year, so towards the month of May they are aware as to whether they move on to the next class or remain back in the same. German schools pile up on activities before they close. I do not know whether it has got to do with the arrival of summer. But it takes a huge toll on parents especially mother's like me who have got to run to different venues and also prepare the kids for the same. So much so, hubby dear has to not only drag the kids out of bed, but a wifey too...:D
Today, I guess it was some respite for my poor man who could wake up in peace and go to work calmly. Well, it was the first day, so we took our own sweet time to wake up, the three of us. And when we did, it was past breakfast time and close to lunch. So brunch is what we had.
Shireen from Ruchik Randhap posted this breakfast preparation last week. Shireen's blog is one with awesome pictures of food and write up's related to my home town Mangalore. Her blog is actually what keeps me going when I remember food that I miss, and gives me the inspiration to carry on till we return back home.


Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices bread(brown or white)
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized green chilli finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves to garnish
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • salt to taste
Method:
  1. Beat the eggs well. Trim the side of the bread and cut into cubes. Keep aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pan/Kadhai, heat the ghee. Toss in the chopped onion and green chilli. Fry till onions turn golden brown. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a few minutes till the mixture turns mushy.
  3. Add the salt, turmeric, red chilli, pepper and cumin powders, mix well and fry on low heat for a few minutes. 
  4. Pour in the beaten egg mixture and stir on medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes . Take care to not scorch them.
  5. When the eggs have cooked just right, add in the bread cubes and mix gently.
  6. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately. If kept for a while the bread can get soggy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sprouted Beans in Coconut Gravy(Kirlayle Mooga Ambat)


Source: Sanjeev Kapoor's Konkan cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup whole green gram(sabut moong)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds(methi dana)
  • 4 whole red chillies(bedgi)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • one and a half cups scraped coconut
  • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • salt to taste
For tempering:
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 small sized onion finely chopped 
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds and a few curry leaves

Method:
  1. Soak moong in half a cup of water for 3 to 4 hours. Drain and tie it up in a muslin cloth. Leave it in a warm, dark place for a day to sprout.
  2. Boil moong sprouts in one and a half cups of water till it is cooked but still firm and crunchy. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan. Add fenugreek seeds and sauté till light brown. Stir in whole red chillies and turmeric powder and remove from heat.
  4. Add to it freshly scraped coconut and grind with tamarind pulp to a fine paste. Add little water while grinding.
  5. Combine the ground paste, boiled sprouts, salt and half a cup of water and bring it to a boil. Add more water if the gravy is too thick. Keep aside.
  6. For tempering, heat oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds. When they crackle add curry leaves. Add chopped onion and sauté till the onion turns golden brown(I was in a hurry and so the onion   is not golden in the pic).
  7. Pour the seasoning over the curry and cover immediately to trap the flavors.
  8. Serve hot with rice.
Note: I like to add a potato cut into cubes to the above preparation. You can boil it along with the sprouts in step 2.



Friday, June 15, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Muffins


Source: Home Cooking with Sonya(with slight variations to suit us)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 200 deg celsius.
  2. Grease a muffin tray or use cupcake liners as I have did.
  3. In a small bowl beat milk, oil and egg. Stir in diced apples.
  4. In a larger bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix well and stir it until well combined.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and carefully pour the wet ingredients into the well.
  6. Stir slowly just until flour is moistened and mixed well. Batter will be lumpy, but that's okay(Thank goodness Sonya mentioned it, otherwise I would have worried about it).
  7. Pour the batter into the cups until 2/3rd full. Bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Allow to sit for a minute and then remove from pan and let it cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dahi Kadhi/ Hot Yoghurt soup

The first time I was introduced to this Kadhi was about 12 years ago during one of my visits to my in laws place in Vadodara. The only difference being Kadhi was always got from Baroda dairy.  All that was required to be done was warm it up and serve. Being the mangy that I was, at that point of time my palette was not used to either yoghurt or a yogurt based preparation. Since then, I have come a long way.


Ingredients:

For the Kadhi:

  • Yoghurt - 1 cup beaten
  • Buttermilk - 1 cup
  • water - 2 cups
  • Chickpea flour(besan) - 4 Tbsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
  • Ginger - 1/2 tsp grated
  • Green chillies - 2 finely chopped
  • Sugar - 1 tsp or to taste(optional)
For the seasoning:
  • Oil - 3 tsp
  • Ghee - 1 tsp
  • Whole red chilly(dry) - 1
  • Cumin seeds/ Jeera - 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds/ Methi - 10 seeds
  • Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  • Coriander leaves to garnish
Method:
  1. In a pot mix curd, buttermilk, water and chickpea flour well. Stir until there are no more lumps.
  2. Add salt, sugar, turmeric powder, grated ginger and chopped green chillies.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil on a medium flame, stirring continuously.
  4. Reduce flame to low.
  5. In another small vessel/seasoning pan heat oil and ghee together.
  6. Add the red chilly, cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds and allow them to splutter.
  7. Turn off flame, add curry leaves and mix well.
  8. Add the seasoning into the boiled yoghurt mixture and allow it to boil once more.
  9. Switch off and serve it in a bowl as a soup or as an accompaniment with some rice and veggies.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chicken Ghee Roast

Spring has officially arrived and I cannot tell you how good it feels to cook in a bright sunny kitchen. It's strange how something as simple as sunshine can perk you up and get you charged. While the flowers are just about popping up here and there, we are still waiting for the riot of green and all the color.
I have been motivated sufficiently enough to whip up new dishes for the family. This particular recipe had been bookmarked a long time ago, but I definitely lacked the mojo to prepare it..:D By the time I was done with the photo shoot, I promptly sat down with a chicken piece, the yummylicious dry gravy and some brown bread to go along and it wasn't even lunch time!!!! So there, I hope I have tempted you enough to try this out.


Source: Ruchik Randhap

Ingredients:
  • 1 kilogram chicken washed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup ghee/clarified butter
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves and a few curry leaves(I didn't have any)
For the marinade:
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup thick curds or yoghurt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
For the masala:
  • 15 Kashmiri chillies *
  • 8 Bedgi chillies *
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp jeera or cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 12 garlic flakes with skin
  • 1 marble sized tamarind soaked in 2 tbsps water

Method:
  1. Marinade the chicken pieces with the ingredients mentioned For the Marinade and refrigerate anywhere between 1 to 4 hours.
  2. Heat a tawa a or a non stick pan and dry roast the chillies, peppercorns, coriander, cumin and fenugreek seeds. Using a little water grind this along with the garlic and tamarind paste. 
  3. Heat 1/4 cup of ghee in a wide thick bottomed pan, add the marinated chicken pieces and cook over an open flame till the pieces are almost cooked. Transfer the pieces to another vessel and the liquid/gravy to another bowl(I had only half a small bowl of gravy).
  4. In the same pan add the remaining ghee and fry the masala for 5-6 minutes or till the oil leaves the sides of the pan.
  5. Add the cooked chicken, the reserved gravy and salt to taste(If added in sufficient quantity before, then omit). Cook on a medium high flame till the masala dries up. Add the sugar and mix.
  6. Garnish with curry and coriander leaves. Turn off the flame.
  7. Serve hot with neer dosa, roti or plain hot rice with some tomato saar as accompaniment!
* To know about the chillies used, click on this link.
* Since I didn't have bedgi chillies, I ended up using the shorter variety. It did turn out spicy, but then I LOVE spice..:D

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Poached pears in spiced red wine

One thing we miss big time here in Germany is Indian food and going out to eat. It's not that we have no restaurants out here. Oh, there are with lots of beer overflowing. To me, eating out is not just about taking leave from the kitchen and relaxing, it's also about feeding my taste buds with delicious delights. Somehow, we have not been able to achieve the latter. The best restaurants that we have come across have been during our travels. So, while in Lohr we rarely venture out to eat. While I do have one particular restaurant in town which is my favorite, thats about it! This means that I need to get that eating out feel at home...:-)


For the past month, lots of Birnen(pears) are being sold in the market. The kids especially sonny loves having a pear daily after dinner. Hubby had picked up the Feb issue of Good Food India during his unexpected trip back home which featured this recipe. The tingling wine soaked in the juicy pear turned out to be one royal dessert for me.

Ingredients:
  • vanilla pod 
  • red wine 750 ml
  • caster sugar 225g
  • cinnamon 1 stick halved
  • fresh thyme 1 sprig 
  • pears 4, peeled but kept whole with stalk intact
  • sprigs of thyme or mint for garnishing.
Method:
  1. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the black seeds and put in a large saucepan with the wine, sugar, cinnamon and thyme. Cut each piece of pod into three long thin strips, add to pan, then lower in the pears. 
  2. Poach the pears, covered, for 20-30 minutes, making sure they are covered in the wine. The cooking time will vary much depending on the ripeness of the pears. They should be tender all the way through when pierced with a cocktail stick. You can make these up to 2 days ahead and chill.
  3. Take the pears from the pan, then boil the liquid to reduce it by half so that its syrupy. Serve each pear with the cooled syrup, a stir of vanilla, a piece of cinnamon and a small thyme or mint sprig.(I used only the mint)

Food Photography Challenge

Monday, February 27, 2012

Carrot Halwa/Gajar ka Halwa

I do not remember when I made this favorite dessert of ours last. I only know that each time I prepared it, I hoped that it would last for as long as possible given the fact that I had spent hours grating the carrots by hand and then having sore arms for a day or two.  But it never was meant to be. I would increase the quantity of carrots by the kilo and yet, every time this halwa would find a place into my family's tummies as often as possible. 
With my new Bosch Mum I decided to give it a try and was I amazed with how fast and easy it turned out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo carrots, washed, peeled and grated
  • 400 gm milkmaid or sweetened condensed milk
  • 5-6 tablespoons ghee
  • 150 gm sugar *
  • raisins to garnish
  • 1and a half tsp cardamom powder
Method:

  1. In a thick bottomed vessel heat the ghee.
  2. Add the grated carrot and fry till completely dry(approximately 20 minutes).
  3. Add the sugar and mix well, stirring continuously.
  4. Add the milkmaid and continue cooking on a low flame till completely dry(approx 15 to 20 minutes), all the while stirring in between so that it does not burn. When the carrot halwa does not stick to the sides of the vessel, its an indication that the sweet is ready.
  5. Add the cardamom powder and raisins, mix well. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or refrigerate it and have it cold according to your taste.


* The amount of sugar can be increased or decreased accordingly. Keep in mind that you are using sweetened condensed milk.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blueberry pancakes with cinnamon butter and syrup




Source: BBC GoodFood India
Serves 4-5
Preparation time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
The pancakes:

  • self raising flour 300g
  • bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
  • eggs 2
  • buttermilk 275ml
  • milk 4tbsp
  • melted butter 75g
  • 225 gm fresh blueberries(the original recipe called for 2 apples and 50g dried cranberries)
  • butter or sunflower oil for frying
  • maple syrup to serve
The cinnamon butter:
  • softened butter 75g
  • cinnamon powder 1tsp
  • caster sugar 2tsp



Method:

  1. To make the cinnamon butter, mix all the ingredients together, wrap in cling film, shape into a log and chill. You can make this up to 3 days ahead.
  2. Mix the flour, bicarbonate and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then gradually whisk in the eggs, followed by the buttermilk, milk and melted butter. Once the mixture is smooth, stir in the blueberries.
  3. Melt a little more butter in a non stick pan or smear with sunflower oil. When hot, add 1-3 small  ladles of batter to the pan to make 1-3 small pancakes(its dependent on the size of your pan).
  4. Cook for 2-3 minutes until bubbles appear and the underside of the pancake is set and golden. Flip and cook for a few minutes more. 
  5. Transfer pancakes to a plate, cover with baking parchment and keep warm in an oven. Cook the remaining pancakes.
  6. To serve, stack pancakes on plates, top with a big knob of cinnamon butter and drizzle with maple syrup.
  7. ENJOY!! 



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pork Bafat


Ingredients:

  • 1 kilogram pork cut into cubes
  • 5 big onions(cubed)
  • 2 inch ginger finely chopped
  • 1 pod garlic peeled and halved
  • 5-6 green chillies slit
  • marble sized tamarind
  • 4 cloves and cinnamon sticks each
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp bafat powder( can increase the quantity depending on tolerance to spice)
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • salt to taste
Method:
  1. Wash the pork pieces, drain well and keep aside.
  2. Soak tamarind in 3 tbsps water.
  3. In a big vessel, mix the pieces of pork with the onion, ginger, garlic, green chillies, spices, bafat powder, tamarind water, and salt.
  4. Cook on a low flame for an hour, stirring at repeated intervals.
  5. When almost done add the vinegar and mix well.
  6. Serve hot with sannas, appams or a bowl of hot rice.