Saturday, July 9, 2011

All Things Mango!!

I remember mentioning in one of my posts about how we can replace some traditional ingredients from certain recipes and end up totally blown away by the results.Yes it is possible,only if we keep in mind what flavours could go with what in terms of taste and texture and yes,be appealing to the eyes too.I was just surfing through the internet for some desserts recipes when i found cranachan.A traditional scottish summer dessert that is usually served during harvest time or on special occasions is often assembled right at the serving table so as to suit to everyone's taste.I also read Anjum anand's Punjabi cranachan recipe,which is slightly more eloborate because it involves making custard as well.I'm adding her link for your reference.


I'm sure it tastes good too ,but what i like is my recipes to be simpler.May be some day i'll attempt at it,but for now..i'm going to stick to the simpler version.Here it is:

Mango Cranachan with Ginger syrup:




Ingredients:

4 tbl spns of rolled oats
2 medium sized ripe mangoes
300 ml of whole milk
4 tbl sp sugar
200 ml double cream(whipped to soft peakes)
crushed almonds-1/2 cup and some to garnish
lemon juice-2 tspn
2 tspns ginger syrup/single malt whiskey

Method:

  • Dry roast the porridge oats slowly in a pan untill it begins to smell warm and nutty.
  • Boil the milk with sugar(reserve a spoon for later).
  • Peel and dice one of the mangoes into cubes and puree the other one with the reserve sugar and lemon juice.Mix the dices and the puree together.
  • Add the cooled oats(save some for garnish) to the boiling milk and cook for some time till it begins to thicken.Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.Cover with cling and keep it inside the refrigerator to chill.
  • At this stage,traditionally some whiskey is added to the whipped cream,but you can choose to add other flavours.I added two tspn of ginger syrup to the cream and it tasted great.To know how to make a ginger syrup check out http://beyondwonderful.com/recipes/sauces/ginger_syrup.htm
  • Add the crushed almonds to the oats mixture just before serving.
  • In a glass,spoon some mango mixture,then some porridge mixed with amonds and then cream mixed with ginger syrup/whiskey.Repeat for as many layers as you want.
  • Sprinkle some rolled oats on the top and some flaked almonds.I added a strawberry  and dusted the glass with coco powder to add color.Serve immediately.





Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Eggless but not Mango-less!!

It is largely unfair for the whole vegetarian/vegan lot to be bombarded with yummy looking things they really can't eat.I'm neither a vegan/vegetarian myself,nor do i fancy eating meat everyday.I'm somewhere in the middle trying to balance the two.Most of the days we eat a normal homecooked vegetarian fare and to say the least;it is anything but boring.At the same time i love my indulgent meat/dairy days too.
Having said that and considering that i've to continue with  the "Mango Marathon" week,i'm here with a beautiful cocoa-mango cake with a bright yellow mango glaze that looks yummy and tastes even yummier.It is completely vegetarian and if you use vinegar instead of the buttermilk,it becomes a vegan cake.In the end i've also tried to compile different ways eggs can be replaced in different dishes.I hope it helps people who avaoid eggs in their food.Here it is:

Eggless Choco-Mango Cake with tangy  Mango Glaze 









Ingredients:

(for cake)

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tblspns vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped mangoes
1 & 1/2 cups thick buttermilk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

(for glaze)

250 ml/1 Cup of mango(pureed) about 2 small to medium, very ripe mangoes
2 tspn lemon juice
500 gms of  powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the cake tin. Set aside.
  • Sift together all of the flour,cocoa,baking powder and baking soda and salt.
  • Mix the pureed mangoes with the oil,vanilla extract,buttermilk and sugar.In place of buttermilk you can use a tblspn of white vinegar/apple cider vinegar and add a cup of apple juice to adjust liquid content.I haven't used vinegar ever in my cakes but from what i learnt from some people is that it works.You may give it a try.
  • Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ones spoon by spoon using a flat spatula to fold them together.
  • Pour batter into a greased cake tins. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (17 minutes for cupcakes), until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Mix together in a blender the mango puree,lemon juice and vanilla extract.Now keep adding the sifted sugar in small quantities till you get the desired consistency.If the mangoes that you have used  are juicier then you might consume a little extra sugar than the given quantities.This glaze can be kept inside the refrigerator in an airtight container without spoiling or discoloring for a few days.


General guidelines for replacing eggs in different recipies:



The most common substitutes for eggs are:


Soy Milk/Milk:
As a thumb rule,use 150 ml of Milk/Soy milk for one egg in general.If you have soy powder instead you can use 1 heaped  tblspn in place of one egg.You can also use condensed milk in some cases(you will need to alter you sugar quantities though) keeping in mind that you can use a 100 ml for every two cups of flour used in the recipe.
In some cake recipies you can replace 1 egg by 2 tbsp flour+1/2 tbsp butter+1/2 tbsp baking powder.

Buttermilk:
This is one of the preferred substitute for eggs specially in eggless cake recipes.Add half a cup of buttermilk in place of one egg.Keep in mind to check on the quantity of other wet ingredients in the recipe.

Pureed fruits:
Although the resulting cake might be a little bit more crumbly,it is good idea to use it if you are allergic to eggs.Use three tblspn of pureed banana in place of one egg.Alternatively applesauce can be used too.

Flaxseeds:
Grind 2 tblspoon of flaxseeds in a coffee grinder or take flax meal ready available in the market.Soak it in warm water for 10 mts and use it in place of 1 egg.In case you mind all the fibre from flaxseeds you can strain the liquid after soaking the flaxmeal and use it.

Vinegar/apple cider vinegar with baking powder:
Take a tblspn of vinegar and water each in a small bowl and mix it with a tspn of baking powder,mix it well to form a paste and use it in place of one egg.

Egg replacement powders:
Available in the market in health stores,they usually have some sort of gelatin and proteins derived from different sources.Sometimes they also contain egg whites so people with allergy issues should always read the labels.

Chilled Mango Delights!!

Mangoes...Mangoes & some more Mangoes ... I love mangoes & I am sure you all know this by now. I wasted so much of the precious mango time on shifting my house and all that comes with it(uuugh!! it still makes me mad @#$% !!) but i've to make sure that I make the best use of the rest of the mango season while it lasts.Well if you ask me,it wouldn't last very long because from here looking outside my windows all i can see is a dark cloudy skyline rendering a mysterious gloominess to the entire surrounding.This reminds me that i love rains.It is one of those things that can make you feel both sad and ecstatic at the same time.It comes as a relief after harsh summers,refreshing everything around with life and verve.I love how raindrops feel like little kisses of nature against the skin and fills the air with the wonderful fragrance of earth.The sound of raindrops on the rooftop and on the window panes has a lullaby sort of effect on people,atleast it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.Then like all good things,this romantic side is suddenly put  to offset by the not so flattering reality of the mud puddles,dripping, wet and smelly clothes,slippery pavements,smelly dogs,overflowing gutters and jammed roads.I suddenly crave to see fresh vibrant tropical summer colors that can uplift my spirits and make me ready to face the gloomy rainy season ahead.

Besides all the telltale signs of rains,the weather is still humid and occasionally hot too and that gives me a perfect chance to make a sorbet.I always saw sorbet as the ultimate frozen treat and gorged on it only to realize all the sugar had parked itself conveniently on my behind. Yes, it’s virtually fat free, but the amount of sugar added can sometimes be a little over the top .Of course, it doesn’t always have to be that way,unless you are eating the whole tub i mean.

Now sorbets are not a new concept to us(afterall who hasn't had those wonderfully colorfull ice-golas in their childhood!!  :-)).They are generally prepared from fruit juices with some simple sugar syrup and a small quantity of alcohol(which you can always opt out).Apparently alcohol keeps the ice in the sorbet from forming bigger chunks  and helps keep it on the creamier side.
Enough said, the recipe of a mango sorbet is very easily available over the internet and is fairly similar everywhere,however you don't need to stick to the exact measurements,because its all about the taste that you prefer.Here is a general recipe:

Mango and Strawberry Sorbet(A scoopfull of summer)


Ingredients:

Frozen/fresh strawberries
Dices of mango
Simple syrup
Lime juice
Lime zest
alcohol(it can be vodka/tequila/rum) 3 tblspn for a pint of sorbet(optional)
small pinch of salt

Method:

  • You can either make a seperate sorbet for both mango and strawberries or mix them up into one.Its actually a personal preference.
  • Blend all the ingredients until smooth(if needed you can strain it too because strawberry seeds can make the sorbet grainy and so can some mangoes with a fibrous pulp).
  • Transfer it in a freezer safe bowl covered with a lid and keep inside freezer for 8 hrs or until set.Do not forget to take it out every two hrs to churn it in the blender(or use a fork) taking care to not allow it to melt so that the ice crystles break down very fine.Alternatively an icecream maker can be used which is also quicker than the conventional method.
  • Chill the serving bowl for ten minutes before serving time.Scoop out the sorbet and garnish with mint leaves or mango dices.
  • It is a great treat for a summer afternoon indulgence.It can be used in between courses to clean up the palate or as a refreshing dessert in the end.
# Note that there is hardly any aftertaste of alcohol in the sorbet firstly because the quantity is fairly insignificant and also because the ice in it numbs the taste buds much before the taste of alcohol can sink in.However for people who do not want it at all,it is completely fine because the mango pulp anyways keeps it on the creamier side.Have great fun devouring it :-).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Yeah its mango again!!

As i mentioned in my last post that i'll be doing a mango marathon wherein i'll post atleast ten interesting takes on mangoes over the entire week...here i am with my second recipe in tow.Its fairly simple to do;just a few steps and well....how complicated a simple cake can be anyway?
Now,there are endless ways to incorporate mangoes in different recipes,we just have to think "out of the box". Afterall who says if a particular ingredient isn't used in a recipe traditionally ,it cant be.This cake in particular is light,airy and has a wonderfull crunch at the top and somewhere in between the tongue will meet the mellowness of the wonderfully ripe mangoes rendered goey by baking .Its a delight to eat it,you will agree with me after you've  tasted it.So go on,make it.. eat it..here is the recipe:




Light Mango Dimpled Cakes with Stresuel Topping


Ingredients:

2 cups(appx.220 gms) all purpose flour
2 tsps. baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup(slighly over 100 gms) soft margarine or you can use 75 gms of butter with two tblspns of any vegetable oil

½ cup granulated sugar
2 medium eggs
3 tblspn(30 ml) clear sweet unflavoured syrup(it can be prepared by heating up equal ratios of sugar and water over gentle heat till it becomes slightly syrupy)

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
2 Tbsps. brown sugar
2 tbl spn unsalted butter (in sticks)
1 large mango, sliced in wedges


note: What you see in the picture is quantities modified for half proportion. 

Method:

  • Grease and flour an 8''/8'' baking tin.Preheat the oven at 350°F / 180°C.
  • Cream the butter and oil together(or margarine) with granulated sugar till it pales in color and becomes fluffy.

  • Add both eggs,one at a time whisking continuosly till the mixture combines well and fluffs up considerably.Add vanila extract and syrup to this mixture.
  • Sieve the flour twice with baking powder and keep aside in a bowl.Reserve a spoon full of this mixture to be used in the end.
  • Take the flour spoon by spoon and add to the egg mixture folding gently(you can let your tiny enthusiastic cooks take over from here and indulge them in folding the mixture by teaching them cut and fold technique and they'll think they've really done a big job,mine was boasting all day long !! :-)), the resulting batter should be of dropping consistency. 
  • Pour it in the baking tin and tap the tin lightly so the batter settles well.Arrange the mango slices over the batter.

  • Mix the reserve flour with brown sugar(for additional flavours you can add a generous pinch of nutmeg/cinnamon powder) and sprinkle generously over the mango slices.This is important because the sugar in this is going to caramalise and render a crunchy texture to the top of the cake.
  • dice the unsalted butter stick and arrange all over at the top layer.
  • Bake it for appx 30 to 40 mts minutes depending on how big or small your oven is.Cool it over rack and dust with icing sugar just before serving.




Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mango Revisited !!

I had to do it and i was suppose to do this much earlier...i had planned last friday to do a marathon of 10 recipes using mangoes with atleat one recipe every day in order to make up for my absence over the past one month and a half.As usual i got caught up with things and then didn't feel upto it. Nevertheless i will begin afresh and try to stick to my plans over the coming week.It wouldn't be easy though;but i know with a little bit of motivation from here and there i'll be able to sail through.Its my first of the ten entries of the marathon and the second one in the mango series.At this point all i can do is admire fellow bloggers who diligently do one food marathon after other and none of their recipes look like they've been made in a hurry.All I can say is that they inspire me .
I had a lot of recipies in my mind but i wanted to begin with the one which had a few ingredients and was considerably easy to make.i wanted to do a mango pudding initially but later i decided that a mango flan was a better option ;much easier to make as well.
Now,lets talk a little about flan first.Quite similar to creme caramel/caramel custard,Flan  is a popular dessert in Latin America,with preparation changing a little as you move around the entire region.Traditionally cooked over Bain Marie or the Double Boiler,flans can be easily cooked in a water bath in the oven.They can also be cooked inside a pressure cooker(i have added instructions for this at the end).There are numerous recipes over the internet for flan,some of which really have great pictures and have good feedbacks from users but i just cannot attempt at something too complicated for a dish that has a history of failures.I have heard stories about flans that have gone runny or have remained undercooked or tasted too eggy.But trust me,this one given to me by a friend,which i tweaked to incorporate mangoes didn't dissapoint me so i am holding on to this one.Here it is:



Easy Mango Flan






Ingredients:(4 servings)

1/4 cup white sugar


1 teaspoon lemon juice


2/3 cup mango puree(strained to remove any fibre if present)




300 ml reduced milk(begin with apx. 440 ml of milk-almost two glasses and keep reducing over medium heat till it has reduced to almost a glass and a quarter.It should still be a little warm while mixing but not hot.)Alternatively you can use a can of packaged condensed milk(Nestle/Amul)in which case you can completely omit the white sugar from the recipe.



2 teaspoons cornstarch


4 tblspn of any dark colored sugar(i used demarara).


2 large eggs at room temperature






Method:

  • Place  ramekins in a  baking pan.Place the demerara sugar with a tablespoon of water and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat, until the sugar melts and turns the color of honey.Distribute the caramel among the ramekins.Sprinkle 1 tablespoon diced mango in each ramekin(optional).Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F/180°C.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat mango puree with eggs and sugar on low speed to combine. Dissolve the cornstarch in a tablespoon or two of warm milk and add it to the egg mixture.Increase speed to medium high, and mix until incorporated. Add evaporated milk(luke warm) continuing the whisking on medium high for 2-3 minutes.
  • Ladle custard over caramel in the ramekins, filling them upto almost the rim. Place filled ramekins in a baking dish and pour enough hot water in it to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and place in the oven. Bake until flan is set, about 45 minutes (when you tap the edge of a ramekin the flan should still wobble a little in the center)or you can do the toothpick test.
  • Carefully remove baking dish from oven, remove foil, and let ramekins cool slightly. Let them chill in the refrigerator for least two hours before serving(better still let it chill overnight).Just before serving place the ramekins in a hot water bath for a minute or two in order to melt the caramel well.Run a thin knife around the inside edge of the ramekin to loosen flan, and then invert it onto the plate.  Add slices of mango and a sprig of mint for garnish.
# For cooking in a pressure cooker,first ensure that the dish in which the flan is to be set fits well inside the cooker and has a lid that closes well.Fill up the presure cooker with water that reaches almost halfway to the rim of the container.Cook at high heat till you begin to hear a faint whistle,reduce heat to medium high and cook for 15 to 20 mts.Turn off the heat and let the pressure in cooker release on its own.Remaining procedures are all same as above.Also make sure you fill up the dish leaving some room for expansion or else the flan will be bulged in places and will come out uneven.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Good Bye break time!!

i know..i know..I didn't really mean to take a break that long but then such are holidays..they have a longer lasting affect on you than you can perceive them to.My life itself is a whirlpool of things and activities,add to it children having summer vacations and moving an entire household to another address and i see a perfect excuse to get away from the chaos of my own life.
What i love about these breaks is being sorrounded by all the people i love ,visiting places that remind me of old times and eating the best food i can ever get;one that my mom cooks for us.I sometimes find it very relaxing  in just being embraced by all the sounds and smells that i relate with a happily regular life...the chatter of  people,clanging of pots and pans,the smell of the rain,the shrill cries of children playing all around and demolishing the entire household in doing so,the list is endless.No matter how exhausting these family gatherings can be,needless to say ;they are therapeutic for my soul.

Everytime i go to visit my parents i have to keep reminding myself to not laze around for more than a weekend  so i could spend the rest of the time catching up with friends and family in a more relaxed and a planned way and have a little more fun than i usually get.I almost expected this as i always do; the moment  i got into the grove of good things like sleeping late into the night;waking up only at noon to the wonderful aromas wafting up from the kitchen downstairs and making its way up into my room,eating till i actually burped,taking leisurely walks besides huge palm trees and freshly cut grass underneath our feet,chatting up late into the night with endless mugs of coffee pouring in,wondeful music and some more food;i was already a victim to my senses,and the feeling of euphoria slowely engulfed me in and transported me to another world where i simply could get more and more lazy and this actually is a huge understatement;-).


Obviously,there went all my "having fun"plans down into the drain.It didn't even occur to me  when that single weekend transcended itself over into the entire week and the week later.When there were left just the last couple of days;i came back to my senses(and thankfully i did!!) and did whatever i could do save my butt from being kicked by a lot of people and that includes my children(whome i had promised to take places).


Given all the lazying around i did,its obvious for anybody to think , that i didnt cook at all,but guess what..i did.I mean i still found some time to cook,because this is something i'd do even if i'm sleepwalking.What i cannot really do right now(and its a candid confession)is find the right things to say,i'm so out of sync,its getting difficult for me to write sense when it fails to make any sense to me.Surely i shouldnt be doing this very often(i refer to my absence here..wht else you thought!!).I took some pictures too,but i must say that some of them haven't really come out as well as i had expected them to.Nevertheless i intend to share them with you all.

Now,with mangoes having arrived in a big way,it would be rude and mean if we talk about anything else or try my hand on anything that doesn't include them simply because i'll end up feeling like you do when you have to sit out when all you want is to dance,when you've to do with just a  kiss  when you'd rather make love(i hope you get what i mean!!)because i am simply partial towards it so much so that my children call themselves"the mango of my eye".Only someone who loves mangoes just as much or more can understand my feelings when i say it...and i for sure know a few such people.

It's a recipe we all in our house loved as children and still do,only we didn't had a name for it.Recently a friend told me it was called "galka" and so here it is;the recipe.

Raw Mango Galka

Ingredients:

  • Raw Mangoes,roughly a kilo
  • Panchforan for tempering(includes nigella/kalaunji,fenugreek/methi seeds,Cumin seeds/zeera,anise/saunf,mustard seeds/Rai(optional))-half tspn each
  • Garlic cloves(keep them whole)-5 or 6
  • Whole dried red chillies(break and remove seeds)
  • A few cloves and star anise(optional again)
  • A tblspn of oil(any oil works but mustard oil works the best)
  • dried ginger powder-1 tspn
  • dried cumin powder-1 tspn
  • paprika/chilli powder-1/2 tspn
  • Grated jaggery-1 cup
  • granulated sugar-1/2 cup
  • salt to taste


Soak the raw mangoes in salted water for half an hr to remove the acid from the tip.Wash them well under tap water.Peel the skin off and prick the surface well using a fork.Keep it dipped in water till you prepare the tempering.


Heat the oil in the pan,add the panchforan/tempering and when it sizzles add the whole chillies ,cloves and star anise and then add the garlic and saute till it turns golden .Add the raw mangoes to the pan and stir well.add salt,cumin powder,ginger powder and a cup of hot water.let the water boil first before reducing the heat to minimum.cover and let the mangoes cook untill they feel soft to touch(it took me appx 20 mts for small sized whole mangoes).




Add the jaggery and the sugar and let the whole thing cook till they dissolve to form a syrupy base.Adjust the consistency to your liking by adding some boiling water if required.Cook on a low/medium heat untill the mangoes darken in colour and are perfectly cooked through.



Turn off the heat and let the galka stand in the same pot untill it cools down to the room temperature.It should be transferred to an airtight jar,kept in the refrigerator and it will last for about a week.If kept outside at room temperature it should be consumed within a couple of days.It goes well with paranthas/chapatis/ or toast.It can be eaten on its own as well...Yummy!! My mouth waters...  :-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Moroccan feast!!

One rule to eat in my house is that no rules are followed.We can easily be found eating an Indian bhel for starters,a Chinese stir fry for main course and an a very English creme caramel for desserts.I guess this is how we Indians are...a potpourri of odd  things,flavors,colors and textures put together.We love to assemble up incongruous stuff in ways that it suddenly becomes meaningful.Food is one such thing...as long as it pleases people who are eating it,i give a damn about what the gourmets have to say.For me food has only one objective to fulfill and that is to seduce the senses and lure them to consumption and beyond.


Few days back Indian cricket had a rendezvous with one of its historical and glorious moment that I'm sure every Indian will remember for a long time to come.Now sport events are when all males of a particular specie are at their craziest best and need  a lot of food and beer to sober up(their female counterparts are left to do their own thing....cooking and cribbing!!)....but it usually peaks on the day of the finale and suddenly there are these innumerable trips to the kitchen,the refrigerator and the loo:-).Tired of playing stewardess the entire week i gave in and decided to make something that could be cooked without a lot of supervision and would still get me accolades from people(and also gimme the much needed time to do all the cheer leading right in my living room);I zeroed in on a moroccan Tagine with chicken,preserved lemons and olives.I usually make this and the Moroccan Herrera (spicy chick pea soup) when all of the family(including my extended family) gathers on holidays and are all hungry after long hrs of chit chat and gossip.

A tagine is an earthen pot with a heavy and flat bottom and a conical lid that creates a slow cooking environment for vegetables and all sorts of meats,rendering them tenderness and an earthy aroma that is reminiscent of flavors from "handi daal" or "handi chicken" or whatever.It is a great excuse to eat in togetherness,dipping each morsel of bread in the silken gravy and in conversation.



Moroccan food is actually very easy on the Indian palate because of the familiar spices and flavors.This dish is versatile enough to let you use whatever vegetables you have in stock including carrots,baby potatoes,aubergines,green peas, sweet potatoes and so on.Pickled lemon and sweet flavors like raisins or dried apricots are also added sometimes to give it a different dimension.It is also possible to make this dish entirely vegetarian and still retain its basic character.Here is the recipe:




Chicken Tagine with Potatoes,Raisins and Green Olives


Ingredients




Half a kg of chicken(i used only chicken thighs,6 pieces)It is alright to use regular curry cut chicken that we mostly get from the markets here.
Minced garlic cloves-4 or 5
Saffron threads or saffron extract ,depending on what you use-equivalent of 4 to 5 threads
Half a cup of extra virgin olive oil
Turmeric powder-1 tsp
Dried ginger powder-1/2 tsp
Cumin powder-1 tsp
cinnamon powder-1/2 tsp
paprika/red chilli powder(optional)
Preserved lemon(washed and pulp removed)-1 whole lemon
Green olives
Potatoes-2 medium sized,peeled and cut into thick wedges or baby potatoes,peeled -around 10 to 12
Golden raisins-two tsp /dried apricots-2(just cut them into two halves or it will render the gravy an overly sweet taste
freshly chopped coriander/parsley
Chicken broth,veg stock -1 cup
Salt to taste


Preparation:


  • In a bowl mix all the spices and aromatics(garlic,grated onion,dried ginger powder,cumin powder,turmeric,cinnamon powder,paprika and saffron threads/extract and some salt).
  • Add the olive oil and chopped coriander/parsley to this mixture and combine it to make a paste.


  • Now coat all the vegetables,onion slices and chicken thighs in this paste and layer them in the tagine(or a flat and heavy  bottomed pan) with onion slices going in the first layer and the rest arranged above them.


  • Throw in some green olives,apricots/raisins and the preserved lemon chopped or whole.
  • cover the pan with some foil and let it rest in the refrigerator for about an hr before transferring it to a charcoal fire/gas top or oven.I cooked it covered on a low flame for about 15 mts,added a cup full of broth and transferred it into oven at around 180°C/350°F for about 25 mts.
  • Serve it hot and still bubbling with either Bread ,Couscous or plain white Rice.






Health Fact:


The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, and cereals, and a high intake of olive oil but a low intake of saturated lipids, a moderately high intake of fish, a low-to-moderate intake of dairy products (and then mostly in the form of cheese or yogurt, which contain friendly bacterial probiotics), a low intake of meat and poultry, and a regular but moderate intake of wine.In other words, freshness, small portions, moderate quantity of wine along with such food and above all pleasure in food consuming, obviously make the winning combination for a long and healthy life.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Evil evil of them all !!!

No women can deny the fact that they love their chocolates as much as their men love to drool over super hot shot gorgeous looking women...if not more.We all give in to our temptations sometimes but chocolate is something we give in to most of the times.I know of some women who religiously eat their dark chocolates everyday as their secret formulae to keep their skin glowing and swear by its feel good effects too!! I'm pretty sure theses claims are true but i always eat my chocolates for only one good reason.... that they are sinfully delicious.But more often than not...i like using chocolate in some form in my desserts instead of eating bits out of the bars.
Now there is no dearth of ways we can use chocolates to create desserts ....be it a rich chocolate truffle cake or gooey and warm chocolate brownies(that both me and my sister loved to eat with a chilled scoop of icecream during our mid night hunger pangs) or a more complicated melting chocolate centre cake.Whatever it is,chocolate has always given me numerous ways to express,feel and enjoy and i can vouch i'll never be tired of trying more ways to do that.
Here is a very quick recipe for a  dark chocolate souffle that i made last evening after i had this sudden urge to eat it(though i can always cover up by saying my kids wanted it!!) and all it took me was ten minutes of preparation and fifteen minutes for it to come out of the oven.....and in less than two minutes it was on its way to our tummies.Now a souffle is suppose to be light,airy and puffed up and is meant to be eaten immediately after it comes out of the oven or else it goes flat after a few mts and then is a big dissapointment.
here is the recipe:

Super Easy Double Chocolate Souffle

Ingredients:

a stick of butter(about 125 gms) / half a stick of butter(75gms)+a tblspn oil
2 tblspoon all purpose flour
a cup of shredded dark chocolate
3/4 cup of milk
a tspn of vanilla extract
2 eggs(at room temperature)
a tblspn of rich cocoa powder
a tablespoon and half of castor sugar

Method:

  • The first step is to make the base creme sauce.In a pan melt the butter(or butter and oil).Once melted add the flour and mix well.Cook it for a minute at low heat stirring continuously.Now add the milk slowly,stirring the mix so that no lumps are formed.Once all the milk is consumed and starts to bubble away,add the sugar , switch off the heat and let it cool.
  • Meanwhile breaks the eggs and seperate the yolks  from the whites.Add the yolks to the creme mixture and stir well.Now add the chocolate shards,vanila extract and cocoa to it and mix well again.
  • Whip up the egg whites in a seperate dry bowl to soft peakes.Scoop some of the whipped white into the creme and chocolate mix now and stir to incorporate.
  • Now transfer the dark chocolate mix into the bowl of remaining egg whites.Carefully fold them all together taking care not to remove any air out of the mix.


  • Grease the ramekins or small bowls with butter and dust with sugar.Discard the excess.Now pour the chocolate mix into theses  ramkins or bowls almost  upto the rim and transfer them to a preheated oven.Cook them at 220°C/400°F for appx 12 mts or until a toothpick comes out clean.

  • Dusted with icing sugar,the souflle should be served with alarming quickness.It is quite a task to bring it on the table and click without the souffle settling down by a few centimeters.By the time i had the shot ready it had already begun to fall flat but is still in good shape.They dont say"souffle never waits for anyone" for nothing!!

Health tip:


Well its wonderful taste aside, chocolate contains phenylethylamine - the same chemical that is released in your brain when you fall in love; leading to that increase in the pounding of your heart, feeling of a sudden gush of excitement. "Love Chemical" is what some would call it. It is also believed by researchers that phenylethylamine in turn causes the brain to release mesolimbic dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain, another chemical where its presence is at peak during an orgasm.
Nevertheless, the sweetness from chocolate also triggers the release of endorphins. Think about those blissful feeling you had after a wonderful session of lovemaking. That is the effect from the production of endorphins in your body. Perhaps that is why some women actually remarked that they felt a feeling of elation when eating chocolate.









Monday, March 21, 2011

Pretty pumpkin!!

Brutally woken up by the doorbell ringing right into my ears when i was having one of my rare afternoon siestas a few days back, i came to open my door all grumpy. But my frown soon gave way to a broad grin as soon as i found what was on the other side of the door.I was greeted by the sight of a shiny golden,beautifully ripe and just out of the farm pumpkin from my neighbour.Thanking profusely for the generous and friendly gesture i came back and thanked my stars for giving me such considerate neighbours who actually thought i would be the deserving one.I really do rather love being gifted a big pumpkin over a fancy bouquet of flowers or even scented candles for that matter(no puns here).But it was far too big for my entire family's needs..so i cut it into half ,kept one half for me and rang the bell next door, spreading  around the same bonhomie  that i had just received (i totally do intend the pun here..;-)  ) .

we all in my family love our pumpkins and often use it in sambhar(a spicy curry from south india) and all sorts of curries and sabzees(veggie side dishes).I've even used it in desserts and cookies...but what i love is a spicy carribean inspired hearty soup that uses white lentils(urad daal) too.It is my own replacement for chicken soup for the soul when i'm unwell for it just lifts up my spirit and opens up all the senses including my tastebuds and to top it all,it is very nutritious. It is very filling and satisfying too.Here is the recipe:

p.s.  it also uses some raw mangoes,that are in the season here right now...yay!!!


Pumpkin Medley
(sweet,tangy and spicy pumpkin soup with lentils)


Ingrediets:


  • 400 gms of yellow pumpkin,cleaned ,peeled and diced
  • two medium sized red onions,julienned
  • chopped celery-half a cup
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • half a raw mango, peeled and finely diced or pureed(as a substitute you can use juice of a lime or some tamarind pulp or even fresh and tangy green tomatoes;although each will slightly change the overall flavour of the soup)
  • cayenne pepper/smoked paprika or red chilli flakes - 1¼ tspn or more if you like
  • white lentils(urad daal without the husk)-2 tblspn
  • grated jaggery(or honey or sugar)-2 tspn
  • turmeric powder-1tspn
  • cumin powder-1 tspn
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fenugreek seeds -1 tspn
  • olive oil
  • vegetable stock


Preparation:


  • Soak the white lentils in some water and proceed to heat a broad pan,pour over about two tablespoons of olive oil and when its hot enough,add fenugreek seeds.stir for 10 seconds.
  • Add garlin cloves,onions and the celery to the pan.Reduce the heat and let the aromatics sweat over for 5 mts.
  • Increase the heat and add the pumpkin dices now,stirring in between till the some of the dices get a light brown color on them.Lower the heat now and add the turmeric powder,paprika,cumin and the jaggery and stir for two minutes.
  • Add three cups of vegetable stock now and let it simmer for 5 mts.
  • Strain the white lentils now and add them to the pot.Cover and Simmer for another ten mts.The lentils should be cooked through yet firm by now. If not ,then give it another 3 to 4 mts.
  • Now add salt,the raw mango and pepper according to how sour and salty or spicy you like it.
  • While stirring the soup,mash some of the pumpkins using the back side of the spatula so the soup gets all mushy and a little thick.






Serve the soup very hot(this will serve around four people) with a little dollop of chilled yoghurt and some chopped parsley accompanied by toasted bread of your choice.sumptuous.






Health tip:


I will not get into the details this time,but will just tell you that this vegetable is a must have if you want to keep fit and healthy,have great immunity,great skin and a good oral health.Pumpkin not only has many antioxidants(like alpha and beta carotene) that help to slow the ageing process,it has vital nutrients like potassium and zinc that keeps hypertension and depressions at bay(now i know why i need it the most when i am all bedridden!!) and prevent osteoporosis,so have plenty of them.