Thursday, 9 April 2015

Chicken Jalfrezi

Some more of my simplified curry recipes, with this Chicken Jalfrezi. I don't really know the history or origin of this dish, so I can't  tell you much about it. I only know that it once was the most popular dish in the U.K., so fair enough  to think you need to learn to make it.

I found this recipe in my Cookery book by the Ladies Club Mangalore , one of my favourite cookbooks. It's the kind you want to pass down generations, coz it's such a treasure trove of recipes. For each recipe I have tried in this book, and I must tell you that's quite a number, I've made little notes beside it, making it a very personal memoir of recipes.

This Jalfrezi was easy to make, and if you have stored a batch of homemade ginger garlic paste in your fridge, there's absolutely no grinding involved in this recipe. Make sure you use homemade ginger garlic paste, makes a tonne of difference. In case you don't remember how much read my chicken and broccoli recipe to know more. I strictly no longer use store bought ginger garlic paste and suddenly all my curries taste so much better. 

This is a tomato based gravy, and this recipe uses tomato puree. The ready made batch will work just fine. For this recipe, I used chicken thighs and legs cut into medium sized pieces, you can also use boneless chicken, keeping in mind, boneless chicken will take much lesser to cook. Also frying the chicken first and adding the bell peppers much later ensures the veggies stay crunchy, giving the dish a lovely texture. Don't be put off by the list of ingredients, it's all just a matter of tossing them into the pan and nothing more really. I wouldn't be attempting this dish on a weeknight otherwise!!!! 

Chicken Jalfrezi.


Butter : 1 tsp
Oil : 1 tsp
Cumin seeds : 1 tsp
Chicken : 500 gms
Onion : 1 roughly chopped
Tomatoes 2, roughly chopped
Red , green , yellow peppers : 1 each cut into medium chunks
Ginger garlic paste : 2 tbsp
Red chilly powder : 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp
Tomato puree : 2 tbsp
Vinegar 1 tsp
Chicken  stock cube : 1
Coriander leaves : for garnish

1. In a wok, heat the oil and butter . Add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
2. Toss in the chicken on high flame and let it turn white on all sides. Reduce the flame and let it cook for about 10 mins. (much lesser if you using boneless chicken.)
3. Add the onions, tomatoes and bell peppers. 
4..Add the powders  ginger garlic paste , tomato puree and vinegar. 
5. Add the chicken stock cube and 1/2 cup water. Check salt. Fry for 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Cook till sauce is reduced and the vegetables are cooked but still crunchy. 
7. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Coconut Cake

I have an overwhelming love for coconut. I'm Mangy and Mangaloreans are loyal to their local ingredients and coconut is at the top of that list. Most mangy curry recipes include coconut and apart from that we have discovered only another million ways to use coconut. So you got to love coconut if you've grown up on Mangalorean food. So with that innate love for coconut, it was only natural my heart set itself on this recipe as soon as my eyes laid sight on it. A bright pink post it, jutting out of my Nigella book made sure  my mind got constant reminders to try this recipe. So one Friday evening I did just that.

Now I know I seem to be bitten by the Nigella bug. First the American Pancakes, then the orange ice cream and now this. Errr. . I must confess I've been catching many of her TV show episodes too, online. . Hmmm. I don't find it necessary to know exactly why. As long as the recipe works, I'm at peace.

This is a rich coconut cake, using a significant amount of butter and also 4 eggs. I'd normally ponder considerably before going ahead with this sort of a recipe, but the coconut loyal that I am, I decided to try it anyway. I'm glad I did. This cake is utterly butterly delicious, with just a hint of coconut. Enough for coconut lovers, and non lovers alike, as the coconut flavour doesn't overwhelm but still lends it presence.

The recipe suggest cooking the batter in two 8 inch pans, which would be faster, but I used one 9 inch pan and it took a bit longer. Let the cake cook till it turns to a nice golden brown, don't panic if it's looking a bit too wet after even 30 mins of baking. It will bake perfectly after a bit.

The recipe also included a buttercream icing, which I thoughtfully gave a miss. When the cake had baked, it seemed perfect on it's own and digging into a piece of it, proved just that. I thought the cake was gorgeous on it's own and might I say, half the amount of calories, not that those were forgivable. But anyway...

Coconut Cake

Adapted from " How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson "

225 gms unsalted butter, softened  (  2 sticks or 1 cup)
225 gms castor sugar ( 1 cup )
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200 gms flour ( 1 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp )
25 gms cornflour (2 1/2 tbsp)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
50 gms desiccated coconut ( 1/2 cup)  soaked in 150 ml boiling water (2/3 cup)

1. Pre heat the oven to 180 C.
2. Beat the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, one by one, beating after each addition.
3. Add the vanilla extract.
4. Sift in the flour, cornflour ,  baking powder and baking soda.
5. Add the coconut. Pour into a greased and floured baking tin.
6. Bake for about 45 mins or till a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Orange Ice Cream

Remember the Food Bucket List I made earlier this year. Scroll down to number 9 on that list and you'll know why I had to make this ice cream. That, plus the fact that it's getting all summery around here and because I love ice cream, plus because orange ice cream you get in stores is almost always full of essence and you know it can be better and plus a 20 other reasons...........

So, the thought of making ice cream can be daunting to a few or most of us, and me with considerable reason.  I first tried making ice cream when I was about 8. Vanilla ice cream apparently. I made it, I burnt it , I served it, I tasted it and then vowed I'd never try it again. But I don't always keep my promises, unless I make them at Christmas time.  So many years later, I managed to get over the humiliation that serving burnt ice cream brings and decided to try making ice cream again. I was 25 years now. This time I didn't want to take chances.  I decided nothing less than an ice cream machine would do. I got the fastest available model I could find and I tried making mango ice cream. This machine made the task anything but easy. Not only did it make a loud grinding sound like I was churning concrete in my kitchen, the instructions spelled out were nearly impossible to follow. I needed to surround the churning tub with ice cubes and rock salt, something like that. Long story made short, though I improved oodles on taste, texture was a big let down.

Cut to 3 years later, I found a recipe that seemed anything but like the real thing. It was way toooo simple, way too devoid of churning and all that jazz, I had my doubts. But then the recipe was from Nigella's book , reason enough to be trusted. That domestic goddess wouldn't lead you astray now. Would she.

This ice cream is super easy to make and perfect if you're a first timer. It involves absolutely no churning or whipping in between phases of freezing . All you need to know is how to whip some fresh cream into soft peaks, and if you have an electric beater, that'll do the job for you. If not, a hand held whisk is just fine and just a tad more effort.

These are originally made with Seville oranges known also marmalade oranges or bitter orange. With a dash of lime juice to compensate for the lack of bitterness, that seville oranges give,  as Nigella suggest you can use regular oranges. I used  Nagpur oranges and it did the job. For the cream, you need to use full fat cream, so the regular Amul cream won't do. I used Milky mist cream. Niligiris cream or any with medium to full fat cream will do. Also make sure the cream has been chilled  and you're whipping the cream in a chilled  vessel . You need to whip the cream only till it forms soft peaks, so you don't need to worry about over beating the cream and risking it splitting. There, that's all you need to know before making this ice cream. Let's go. I've modified the recipe a bit, slightly tweaking measurements , to make enough to serve 3.

Orange Ice Cream

Adapted from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson
Serves 3


 2 oranges
 2 limes
100 gms icing sugar
200 ml medium to full fat cream

1. Into a chilled bowl, grate the zest of the oranges and one lime.  Squeeze juice of the limes and oranges. Mix.
2. Add the icing sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
3. Add the chilled cream and whisk, till it holds soft peaks.
4. Put into a shallow air tight container and freeze for about 4 hours.
5. You can serve it with some wafers or on its own.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

American Pancakes

There are only a hundred kind of pancakes. Each region, country has it's own definition of a pancake. English pancakes from England, Pikelets in Australia, Blini from Eastern Europe and Crepes from France are some.  In India, we have Uttapam, neer dosa in Mangalore ( I can eat nothing less than 8 of these at one go ) and Appams from South India and many more.

I chose to make these American Pancakes, after I came across the recipe in Nigella's "How to be a Domestic Goddess " . The title of the book is reason enough to buy the book I reckon. And if ever you could call someone a Domestic Goddess really, it has to be Nigella Lawson. Let's not fight it.

I'm going to keep this post short and simple, just like the recipe. After having successfully  made these a few times , they have been added to my list of Breakfast Solutions . I must admit I did have a bit of nervous history with making pancakes, specially worried whether if they would lift off the pan with ease. These do. The batter is of a semi thick consistency and as Nigella says " all you need to remember is when the upper side of the pancake is bubbling, it's time to cook the second side". This takes only about a minute.

I halve the recipe when I make these, which makes them perfect to make enough pancakes for two. If you need to make for more people, use the recipe as is given below.These pancakes are thick and spongy and go great with honey. You can blitz all the ingredients in the mixer or just make the batter using a whisk. I went with the whisk.

American Pancakes

Makes 10

225 gms plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar
2 eggs, beaten
30 gms melted butter
300 ml milk
Butter for frying.

1. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
2. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add the milk, melted butter and beaten eggs. Bring together with a whisk.
3. Heat a pan. Dot with a bit of butter, and pour a ladle full of batter.
4. Fry on both sides. Serve with honey.

Chicken and Broccoli Curry

I love curry. I love having steamed rice and piping chicken curry and I'd be happy if someone would make me some everyday. Because, as much as I love eating curry, I'm not a big fan of making curry.
A good curry almost always, involves grinding a masala and if you're Mangalorean, you know you'll need some grated coconut as well. Though I grate coconut in batches and store it in the freezer, the thought of grinding it, roasting spices , making a masala makes it a bit too much effort and on a weekday I think I wouldn't fancy making time for it either.

So then I thought I should spend some time trying to simplify a curry and yet be able to sink into some finger licking, bowl wiping delicious curry, with half the effort or almost none. And so I did. I was on a mission now. After a couple of trial and errors, I realized I had one special ingredient that could make a curry as creamy and delicious as any other, and mostly just with powders. There. . .  no roasting , grinding spices, no grating coconut.

And now about that very special ingredient. It's a staple in Indian households. Ginger garlic paste , and oh I need to be specific, homemade ginger garlic paste. For years, I have used store bought ginger garlic paste and thought it to be a fitting substitute for homemade ginger garlic paste, but I got to swallow my pride and humbly admit I couldn't be more wrong. There is nothing like freshly made homemade ginger garlic paste. When I say fresh, I don't mean you have to make it just before you toss it into a pan. You can make a jar full of it and store it in your fridge. It'll stay good for weeks. It's pretty simple to make, grind peeled garlic and ginger, 70 percent garlic, 30 percent ginger. I also add a few green chilies  to the paste, and if you're ok with that tinge of spice, you can do that do.

If you have ground paste in your fridge, this recipe needs absolutely no grinding at all. I used broccoli with the chicken, mainly because I love broccoli. It's healthy, tasty and I needed to find another way to cook it than bake it every time. I tossed the broccoli in a bit of butter for a minute or two on a high flame before I added it to the curry. You can also add it directly to the curry and it'll be just as perfect. Also I used chicken legs and thighs in this curry but you can use any part of the chicken, cut into medium sized pieces. Don't be put off by the list of ingredients. These are everyday kitchen ingredients and you only have to toss them altogether into your dish. That's the only effort involved.

Chicken and Broccoli Curry


1 1/2 tsp oil
3 cloves
1 cardamom
1 star anise
1 Onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
15 cloves of garlic, 1 inch ginger, 2 green chilies ground to a paste
1 tsp each chilly powder, coriander powder
a pinch of turmeric and fenugreek powder
salt to taste
500 gms chicken thighs and legs,
200 gms broccoli florets
2 tbps low fat cream (amul cream)

1. Heat oil in a non stick vessel. Toss in the whole spices.  Fry the onions till soft. Add the tomatoes.
2. Add the ground paste and fry till it changes colour.
3. Ad the powders. Mix with the paste and fry for about a minute.Sprinkle a tsp of water if the masala  sticks to the pan.
4.Turn the flame to high and add the chicken pieces. Mix with the masala in the pan and fry for about 2 -3 mins.
5. Add one cup water, salt to taste. Turn the flame to low, cover the pan and cook till chicken is almost done.
6. Add the broccoli. Let it cook for about 4 mins. Lastly add the cream.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Chicken Meatballs

Easy cooking it is. . I've never been a big fan of meatballs, mostly because I think they're too much effort. Making the mix, then rolling out each, dipping, crumbing and frying..... ah. . . .  just a bit too much for me. Then I was on pinterest one evening searching for ideas for party food and this recipe by smitten kitchen popped up. Seemed simple and whatever did not, I just skipped it. I modified the recipe quite a bit. For one, I didn't use no pancetta or parsley and then I skipped the minced onion and garlic. So there was very little chopping involved. Also I added  bread crumbs to the mix that made them much it easier to roll into meatballs. There, recipe already quite simplified.

To start making these, soak the bread cut into small bits in a little milk. You can use fresh bread but a couple of days old bread will work just as fine. Then it's all about chop, toss and mix.  Chop the coriander. In a bowl, mix the chicken mince, egg yolk and coriander. Save the egg white to make the glaze. I used about 250 gms of mince and this recipe made about 20 meatballs. Next go in the herbs, I used dried oregano and pasta mix. Made the job of seasoning much easier. A bit of salt . Then the bread that has been soaked in milk. Also the original recipe uses tomato paste. I used some ready made pizza sauce I had lying in the fridge. Finally the bread crumbs, that I used generously but not an overdose, coz that would overpower the chicken and you'd end with bready tasting meatballs.

Use a baking tray or dish lined with baking paper, this way you don't need to grease your tray. Roll the mix into small meatballs. You can make them in advance and let them sit in the fridge and bake them just before you need to serve them. The last thing you need to do before baking these, is glaze them with a mix of egg white and a little more of pizza sauce. Mix the two and brush a little bit of the glaze on the meatballs. These bake at 180 C for about 20 mins. Serve them warm with some mayo and mustard sauce.

Simplified for you here.

1. Mince, coriander, egg yolk.

2. Add herbs.

3. Add pizza sauce

4.Bits of bread soaked in milk.

5. Bread crumbs and salt.

6. Roll into meatballs

7. Glaze with egg white and pizza sauce, bake for 20 mins. DONE

I made these chicken meatballs for a party and they made an interesting starter. Good thing about these is that you can roll the meatballs in advance, keep them refrigerated, and fry/bake them just in time to serve them. Baking them is much more convenient, coz you can just let them sit in the oven, but you can also shallow fry these and the'y'll turn out just as fine. Tried and tested....

Chicken Meatballs

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 20.

3 slices of white bread
1/4 cup milk
250 gms chicken mince
1 tbsp coriander leaves minced
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp pasta mix herbs
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp pizza sauce
Salt to taste

For the glaze, mix
1 egg white
1/2 tbsp pizza sauce

1. Cut the bread into bits and let it soak in milk
2. Mix the mince, chopped coriander and egg yolk. Add the herbs.
3.Squeeze the bread to remove excess milk and add to the mince. Add salt to taste.
4. Mix in the crumbs and pizza sauce.
5. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Roll the mix into meatballs and place on a lined baking tray.
6. Brush the meatballs with the glaze and bake for 20 mins.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Peanut butter and white chocolate blondies

It's been a while since I made Blondies. Also I've been dying to try loads of recipes from my Bake cookbook by Rachel Allen. This book was a birthday gift from my mother last year and has been my added to my list of baking bibles ever since. This book as the name suggests has every bake recipe you've always wanted to try. Talk about puff pastry, quiche Lorraine, soda bread, profiteroles, Christmas cake. . .  . . Everything!!!!!! I couldn't be more glad to add it to my favourite cookbooks list .

One of the many recipes I bookmarked with a bright pink post it note in this book, was this recipe for peanut butter and white chocolate blondies. It seemed a bit too simple to sound so heavenly and yet, I blindly dived into making them, just like I would into any Rachel Allen recipe. Some of the other Rachel Allen recipes I've tried are sticky toffee date cakesbanoffee blondiesmarbled chocolate crumble cake, and one of my favourite cakes; orange and lemon cake. Need I say more why and how much I love her. . . . .

Back to the blondies in question now. So this recipe seems a bit too simple and easy to turn into something heavenly but that's the gift of baking. Very often, the effort is hardly proportional to the magical food it produces. So I didn't really worry about these would turn out. And so it happened. . These blondies were buttery and  chewy with little crunchy bits of peanut. I made a whole batch and before I could devour them all in a go, I packed a few pieces for my cousins I was catching with lunch the following day. I thought to myself " let them eat cake" Tsk tsk.

So like I've been saying all along in this post, these are VERY easy to make. Once you've prepped the tin to make the blondies, it's all whisk and mix. Honestly, prepping the tin was the only "effort" here.

Make sure you use crunchy peanut butter, or else you'll miss the crunch in the blondies. If your peanut butter has been sitting in the fridge, keep it out for a while, to soften. Roughly chop the white chocolate, I did and it worked just fine.

  Once you've creamed the butter and peanut butter, you toss in the sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Finally the flour and baking powder,  in goes the chocolate and your blondies mix is ready. This mix is more like a dough, or a very thick batter if you will call it. So don't let the consistency alarm you, it's as expected. These blondies take about 30 mins to bake and turn golden brown when they are ready.

Let them cool in the tin for a bit. When they have, run a knife through the edges. I found that they were a bit sticky on the sides, despite the generous greasing of the tin. Once I ran a knife through the edges, I turned the tin over onto a board and with a slight tap, I had a gorgeous slab of blondies on my board. I had them plain and they made perfect sense, but just adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream on these warm blondies will instantly transform it into a delicious dessert.

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies :
Adapted from :  Bake by Rachel Allen
Makes 12 Blondies

Ingredients :
125 gms flour
1 tsp baking powder
100 gms butter
150 gms crunchy peanut butter
175 gms demerera sugar ( The original recipe uses soft brown sugar)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
75 gms white chocolate, roughly chopped

1. Butter the sides of an 8 x 8 inch tin and line the base with greaseproof paper
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter till soft. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla.
3. Sift in the flour, baking powder and the chopped chocolate and mix to make the dough.
4. Put in the prepared tin and bake for about 30 mins.
5. Allow to cool into the tin . Run a knife through the sides and turn the tin onto a board to but into squares.