Friday, 22 May 2015

Chicken Xacuti

I recently enjoyed a very sun kissed holiday in Goa. I love Goa, and although I've been there often, every trip is fun and relaxing. You got to love the food in Goa; the Goan sausages, the fish recheado, the balchao, chicken cafreal. I go completely ga ga over the curries and seafood. This trip to Goa had a very simple agenda: Eat, drink, beach, repeat!!!! and repeat I did. And hush, don't you dare talk about calories now.

Knowing my insatiable need to buy recipe books, I couldn't help but spot this lovely quaint book store that had the cookery book section on sale!!!. It just made my already memorable holiday perfect. I spent an hour looking through crowded shelves of books, sinking my eyes into delicious recipes beckoning me to pick up every book I saw. Sigh........ I did finally settle on these.

My bed side table's crowded with these now and my post its rapidly disappearing, with me marking so many recipes to try.

The foodie on duty (aka hubby) and I, spent a part of our holiday at this lovely Portuguese styled guest house. It was beautiful, cozy, elegant, luxurious, all in one. The kitchen was open all day and I indulged in some lovely Goan curries. The chef at the  guest house awed me with this heavenly version of Chicken Xacuti . Better still, he was generous in letting me watch him make this curry and share his recipe with me.

Xacuti by the way is not  Zakuti, but sha-coo-thee. This recipe is a  simplified version of Xacuti ; simple, easy to make and still very yummm. The curry uses grated coconut and sowwie. . . . .  no two ways about that. What gives the curry it's distinct flavour is the coconut that is roasted really well, till it turns a good shade of brown. Roast the coconut on low flame, making sure you don't burn it. This will take a while but is worth it.  The rest of the recipe is simple and the usual.

Chicken Xacuti :


1/2 a coconut, grated

To fry and grind :

1 tbsp oil
1 onion roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic
2 long red chilies
2 green chilies
A bunch of coriander leaves
1 sprig of curry leaves

1 tsp garam masala powder

750 gms chicken, medium pieces
2 tbsp fresh ginger garlic paste

For the curry :

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped.
2 small tomatoes, chopped
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander leaves for garnish

1.  To make the ground masala : In a pan, roast the coconut on low flame, till brown. Let it cool
2. Heat the oil and fry the ingredients that need to be ground.  First fry the onion till soft, then add the garlic, red chilies, green chilies, coriander leaves, curry leaves. Fry till colour changes.
3. Put the coconut and the fried ingredients into a mixie with the garam masala powder and grind to a paste.
4. Mix the chicken with the ginger garlic paste and a bit of salt.
5. To make the curry: Heat oil, fry the onions till brown. Add tomatoes, fry till softened.
6. Add the chicken. Fry for about 5 mins.
7. Add the ground paste. Add water to the mixie and add this masala water to the curry.
8. Check salt. Cook till the chicken is done.
9. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Date Bars

This is exactly the recipe I look for, to try on lazy weekends. Simple, no fuss and no fail. And when I find these recipes, I know I can carry on with my lazing around and yet bake a treat that'll make my lazy weekend instantly very interesting.

This recipe is from my Rachel Allen book, Bake. A book I have pored over so often, knowing for sure,  I will find the perfect recipe, for whatever baking mood I may be in. I have exhausted my bright pink post it notes, marking so many recipes in this book, and I've scrutinized just the first half of the book so far.

This recipe like most on this blog, is extremely simple to make. Even if you are a baking novice, I'd tell you to go ahead and try this one. There is absolutely no worry about getting this one right, no usual baking rocket science involved. The only caution I could give you, is to mix the butter into the flour mixture correctly. Rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips, incorporating the butter into the flour, the best you can. The rest of the recipe is only following very basic instructions.

These date bars make an excellent snack and a perfect carry on for picnics or little weekend getaways or just the welcome basket for a new neighbour, or I would imagine perfect for a bake sale too. They are moist and melt in your mouth. They are also very filling and rich in taste , so make sure you cut them into little squares,

Date Bars

Adapted from Bake by Rachel Allen
Makes around 16 bars

Ingredients :
250 ml water ( 1 cup+1 tbsp)
200 gms dates,, chopped ( 1 cup +  1 tbsp)
175 gms plain flour( 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp soda bicarb
175 gms brown sugar ( little less than 1 cup)
100 gms porridge oats (1/2 cup)
175 gms butter, diced (3/4 cup )

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Butter the sides of an 8X8 square cake tin and line the base with grease proof paper.
2. Place the water and chopped dates in a saucepan and bring to simmer. Cook on a low heat for about 10 mins, uncovered. Take off from heat and let it cool.
3. In a large bowl, sift the flour and bicarb soda. Add the sugar and oats, mix well. Rub in the butter using fingertips, till moist clumps form.
4. Press half the oats mixture over the base of the prepared tin .Press down with the back of a spoon.
Spread the cooked date mixture over this and then sprinkle remaining oats mixture. Flatten the top with your plam.
5. Bake for approximately 40 minutes.
6. Let it cool completely in the tin, then cut into bars and serve.

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.