Friday 29 January 2010

Spaghetti Bolognese (Spaghetti à la bolognaise)

This is a wonderful one-pot meal that I cook regularly at home, a classic among the Pasta , rich in proteins and tomatoes, the sauce is healthy (if ingredients are added in a correct proportion) and very simple to prepare, kids’ favorite, ideal for a family meal(when you have to cook for an army) and a hassle-free delicious dish to enjoy with your family, what more would I need to add?

In fact, this preparation seems to have nothing to do with Bologna (Italy), contrary to the name “Bolognese” but rather an international version of the traditional Italain “Ragù alla Bolognese”. However, I’ve managed to bring the flavors, fragrances and colors from Italy on my table, with this French version (source: my Larousse cookbook) and I’m sure this dish would certainly entice even the most discerning palates!!!!

Ingredients: (serves 4):

500 g spaghetti
Parmesan
For the sauce:

2 onions
4 garlic cloves
2 carrots
1 Kg tomatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
400g ground beef
400g ground pork
250 ml milk
400 ml white wine (dry)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 bouquet garni (parsley, thyme and bay leaf )
2 green chilies
salt and fresh pepper
500 ml water

Preparation:

Chop garlic, onion very finely.
Cut the carrots into tiny cubes.
Peel and deseed the tomatoes and chop them finely. Chop the tomatoes finely.

Heat the oil in a double bottomed vessel, sauté the garlic, onions, green chilies and carrots, by stirring now and then, until they become tender. (We’re not going to let them brown)

Add the ground meat and fry for about 5 minutes until they change color. (Crumble the meat well with a spatula while frying the meat to avoid lumps)
Add the milk and let it cook for another 5 minutes until the mixture becomes almost dry.
Add the wine and continue cooking until evaporation.

Add the tomatoes while stirring well followed by the tomato puree, the bouquet garni, salt and pepper. Add water, taste and correct if necessary. When it boils, simmer to low medium, cover and let it cook slowly for about 1h30 to 2 hours or until the sauce thickens. (Stir once in a while; at this stage, the cooking should be done very slowly, the longer, the better will be the sauce. If you let the sauce boil, then your meat will harden)

Remove the bouquet garni, rectify the taste if necessary.

Cook the spaghetti as per the instructions, drain and serve the spaghetti topped with the sauce along with some grated parmesan.
Wine suggestion: Mâcon supérieur /Anjou - Gamay /Chianti /Côtes du Rhône
Enjoy!!!

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Poli /Puran Poli (Flatbreads stuffed with sweetened Lentils)

No, no, no, these are not Chapatis or any other Indian Rotis, like anyone would say at the first sight.


This is called Poli in tamil, also called Puran Poli in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat and called differently in each state of India, as it’s a traditional Indian sweet which consists of filling a Roti/ a flat bread with sweetened lentils and it is prepared particularly on festive occasions like Deepavali (Festival of Lights), Holi (Festival of Colors) and Ganesh Chaturthi (Festival dedicated to Lord Ganesh)…

However, like me, you can also enjoy it on an ordinary day, for breakfast with a cup of milk / Kheer (for me, two of these polis are more than enough to resist the whole day without any cravings) or for tea time. The method and the filling varies according to the states in India, like some use coconut scrapings instead of lentils and some others substitute the Jaggery with white sugar but the final result is undoubtedly as good as another (Unity in diversity, right? :)  ) …. Well, this is the version we prefer at home… hope you’ll enjoy it!!


Ingredients:

Clarified butter / Ghee for brushing
Warm water (as needed)
For the filling:
250 g split chickpeas (Channa dhal)
250 g Jaggery
½ tsp nutmeg powder
1 tsp cardamom powder
For dough:
350 g wheat flour
1 tsp rice flour
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp melted butter

Method:
The dough:

Put the wheat flour and the rice flour in a large bowl, along with the salt. Stir well and add the melted butter and knead with your hands so that it becomes uniformly crumbly in texture. Add the warm water little by little and knead it to get a very soft and smooth dough. Cover it with a plastic wrapper and leave it for an hour or two (the more the better).

The filling:
Wash and soak the split chickpeas in enough amount of water for an hour or overnight if time permits.

Boil the chickpeas in plenty of water until it becomes soft and mushy. You may pressure cook too.


Drain well and blend it to a fine paste along with the Jaggery.

Heat the above paste on very low heat for few minutes in a heavy saucepan while stirring continuously, until it becomes a little dry and forms a soft lump. Keep it aside to cool.

Make small balls out of this mixture and keep them ready.

The flour dough should be sufficiently elastic and soft by now.


Now, take a small ball from the prepared dough and flatten it slightly with your fingers. ( don’t add flour, grease your hands with some ghee if necessary)

Now, place a ball of the filling right in the middle of the dough while pressing the filling with one hand and stretching the dough slowly with the other. Seal the hole tightly by pressing the edges of the dough.

Roll it gently to flatten it without giving any pressure to form a circular disc (like a little smaller than a chapati)


Heat a heavy saucepan and roast the Poli on each side without any oil or ghee. Do the same for the rest of the dough.


Apply some ghee just before serving and enjoy it warm!!

Nithu Bala who is another wonderful foodie from Nithu's Kitchen  passed me the following award!!


My hearty thanks to Nithu Bala for the lovely gesture!! Happy Republic day to all Indians out there!!!!Cheers !!!!!

Saturday 23 January 2010

Ras el Hanout powder/ Poudre de Ras el Hanout

Ras el Hanout powder is a mixture of spices used across North Africa in many dishes like the popular "Couscous". Each family make their own combination of this mixture of spices and this is a recipe I borrowed from one of my friends. One can very well find this powder in the supermarkets too but can never be compared to fresh home-made ones, isn't it?

Ingredients you'll need for making your own Ras el Hanout powder/ Les Ingrédients pour faire le poudre de Ras el Hanout:

1 tsp black pepper/ 1 c. à thé de poivre noir
4 cardamom pods / 4 cardamomes
1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder/ 1/2 c.café de cannelle moulue
1 tbsp cumin seeds/ 1 c. à soupe de graines de cumin
1 tsp dry ginger powder/ 1 c. à thé de gingembre moulu
1 tsp turmeric powder/ 1 c. à thé de poudre de curcuma
1 teaspoon salt/ 1 cuillère à café de sel
¾ teaspoon cinnamon powder/ 3 / 4 cuillère à café de cannelle en poudre
½ tsp white pepper powder/ ½ c. à thé de poudre de poivre blanc
2 tbsp coriander seeds/ 2 c. à soupe de graines de coriandre
2 or 3 dry red chilies or cayenne pepper/ 2 ou 3 piments rouges secs ou poivre de cayenne
½ tsp nutmeg powder/ ½ c. à thé de noix de muscade en poudre
3 or 4 cloves/ 3 ou 4 clous de girofle

Method/ La préparation :

Toast all the ingredients in a pan on low medium flame and grind to make a fine powder; It can be stored in an airtight bottle for a month / Toaster tous les ingrédients dans une poêle sur feu moyen et les mixer afin d’obtenir une poudre fine; Il peut être conservé dans une bouteille hermétique pendant un mois.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Xiā Rén/ Lúsǔn Chow Mein (Stir-fried Shrimp and Asparagus with Noodles)

This one-pot, quick and easy, stir fry noodles became a family favourite, from the very first time I made this dish. I have accompanied the noodles with some fried shrimps and asparagus but feel free to combine any of your favourite vegetables.

I love Asparagus not only because it is my best ally when I diet (atleast when I pretend to do so..) but also because these tasty and tender asparagus pair so well with the shrimps that I don't want to add more vegetables which might offset the mild and delicate flavour of this combination.

You might think I took this recipe from a typical chinese cookbook or something by seeing the name and all but beleive me, I had a hard time searching for the translation on the net but also enjoyed learning new words in Chinese while searching a title for my recipe :):) (By the way, please feel free to correct me if I have mistakes in the title)

Actually, I found the Europeanised version of this recipe in one of my cook books; Though the stir-fry seemed to be adapted very well using the Capellinis, the words "stir-fry" and "quick tossing" gave me ideas to give an East Asain touch to the dish and so, with the addition of some of my fetish ingredients, it turned out to be a tasty, spicy and ravishing stir-fry that seduced everybody at home. hope you'll let me know how my Chow Mein tasted, here's the recipe:

Ingredients: ( for 4)
250g white Asparagus (You may use green as well)
4 tbsp sesame seeds
a tbsp finely chopped garlic
a tbsp finely chopped ginger
4 to 6 spring onions
500g Shrimps ( or Prawns)
5 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp Sherry dry Mirin
3 tbsp sesame oil
Salt a pinch of salt + 1 tbsp thick soya sauce
Pepper a pinch of pepper + 1 tbsp chilly garlic sauce ( a little more of you like it hot)
Capellinis Asian Wheat flour Egg noodles (for 4)

Method:
Prepare all the main ingredients.

Cut the woody ends of the Asparagus and peel them by holding it flat at it's base and peel it by starting from the tip upto it's base. If you've got large sizes, then, cut off several inches from the base as the flesh might be firm and fibrous. Wash with water without soaking, drain them and bind them in bundles. Cook in boiling salted water for about 5 to10 minutes, depending on the size. They should become tender. Drain and Rinse them under cold water immediately and drain once again. Chop them into pieces of 2 cm long and keep aside.

Roast the sesame seeds on a pan on medium heat, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove the white part from the spring onions (you can store them for later use). Chop the green part into small pieces of 5 mm long.

Clean and prepare the shrimps/prawns. Prepare the ginger and garlic.

Cook the Noodles as per the instructions and keep it ready.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok, or a big wide kadai, add the garlic and ginger along with the Shrimps and stir fry quickly, on high flame for a minute or two.

Add the Mirin and continue stir-frying for another couple of minutes by stirring continuously. The shrimps become a little darker, now,pour the soya and the chilly-garlic sauces and pepper and continue stirring until the mixture reduces a little. Check and correct salt if necessary. (Soya sauce has enough salt already!!!)

Add the Asparagus and mix well.
Add the cooked noodles and toss well so that it is all well coated.
Add the spring onions now and and continue stir-frying and tossing for a minute.

Remove off the fire. Add the sesame oil and toss the noodles well. (Check and correct the seasoning).

Sprinkle the sesame seeds and serve immediately. Enjoy!!!

Viki from Viki's kitchen and kitchen queen from khatta meetha theeka passed me this lovely award today.


I'm deeply honoured to receive this beautiful gift from you girls. Thank you so much!!!!! I would like to share this award with all of you readers!!! Cheers !!!!

Monday 18 January 2010

Coconut Burfi (Thenga Burfi / Coconut Fudge)



Apparently, Coconut Burfi is one of those various Indian sweets that all of us love at home and no wonder, knowing that all four of us are fond of sweets :):) !!!


You see, I have been so much used to this beautiful tradition in India, like on the occasion of festivals, people visit the homes of each other, be it a family, friend or neighbor, to greet and distribute sweets and savouries with joy and enthusiasm that I prepared these Burfis for New Year to share it with all my family here(though not to my Neighbours (although I'd love to do so)whose reaction I wouldn't know....) to re-discover the pleasure of offering something special to someone on the occasion.



For those who don’t know the existence of these Burfis, this is the moment to let your palates have a glimpse of this heavenly pleasure…… let me describe, hum, a crunchy munchy sweet which has a strong flavor of coconut and cardamom, which like many other sweets is prepared in different manners, with or without milk, adapted and tailored according to people and their tastes; Well, this is how WE prefer this sweet at home, chewy yet succulent, really juicy and moist inside and slightly crumbly, just irresistibly toothsome to resist a second helping. Hope you’ll let me know how YOU like them, meanwhile let me tell you how I proceeded:

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded coconut (I have used desiccated coconut)
1 cup milk
2 cups sugar (or more according to your taste)
Water (maybe a little lesser than ½ a cup, just enough to cover the sugar)
2 tbsp (heaped) finely powdered Cardamom
Some ghee for greasing the dish

Method:

Grease a tray (edges up) with ghee and keep it ready.

Heat a double bottomed wide vessel and add the shredded coconut and the milk and keep stirring on high medium heat until the milk reduces. Keep it aside.


In another vessel, moisten the sugar with just enough amount of water to cover the sugar and boil it until you get a thick syrup which has a two thread consistency. (At first, the syrup starts to boil, then it starts bubbling. From this moment, watch out and check by taking a drop of it separately and touching it with the tip of your forefinger (don’t forget it is hot). Try to see if it forms a thread between your forefinger and the thumb. Check the same way and continue boiling until you get the right consistency)


As soon as you get this thread like consistency, add the shredded coconut and start stirring continuously in a steady manner. (We’re going to be very attentive and take care not to burn the mixture as it occurs very fast).

When the mixture looses almost all the moisture, add the powdered cardamom and continue stirring until you get a porous mixture which doesn’t stick to the vessel and which leaves the bottom and sides clean.


Remove off the fire and pour it all into the greased tray. Pat it slightly to remove any excess air and let it rest a while. Cut it into desired shapes while the mixture is still warm.



Let it come to room temperature to remove and conserve in a box lined with a waterproof paper and to relish it heartily. Enjoy!!

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Award

Faiza from Faiza Ali's Kitchen passed me this lovely award a week back :) (I'm getting lazier than ever.....)



Thank you so much dear, I'm really honored to receive this from a nice chef like you!!! that's something wonderful for the day!!

Monday 11 January 2010

Thayir Saadham (Curd Rice)



Among all the various lip-smacking specialties of the South Indian Cuisine, Thayir (Curd) Saadham (Rice) is one of the most popular staple food which is prepared in many states of South India and particularly preferred in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Curd Rice is a part of the everyday meal almost in every South Indian household; like a typical Vegetarian Tamilian’s lunch box always contains a Dhal/Sambhar/Curry/Rice followed by Rice/Rassam and then a large helping of Curd or Curd Rice, all this accompanied by a vegetable side dish and a Pickle. No meal would ever be complete in a Tamilian’s home without Curd.


Curd Rice have always been omnipresent in TamilNadu Cuisine perhaps because of the soothing effect of the sour curd during the hot summer afternoons but also because it is healthy, filling, contains very little oil and thus easily digestible.

Though the temperature here is just right the opposite of that in India now, I set up to do this curd rice just to accompany my Fish Fries..... Usually, I make a side dish to go with the main course but here I’ve done the contrary......Nevertheless, there are so many other side dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian that can accompany the dish delightfully but nothing can better a traditional hot Pickle with this sour creamy rice.

Ingredients for 4:

2 cups well-cooked rice
Half cup sour cream
2 cups fresh curd
1 tbsp tender ginger julienned finely
2 green chillies
A sprig curry leaves
1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
For seasoning:

1 tsp Bengal gram /channa dhal
2 to 3 tbsp ghee
½ tablespoon mustard seeds
½ tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black gram or Urad dhal
A pinch of asafetida
6 to 8 cashew nuts (broken /halved) (optional)
3 to 5 dry red chilies

Method:

Slit the green chilies, remove the seeds and chop the coriander leaves roughly.
Prepare the ginger and the seasoning ingredients.

The ideal consistency of the rice is a bit pulpy but it shouldn’t be too mushy either. (Like, when you cook the rice add an extra cup of water to the rice while cooking.) Bring down the temperature of the cooked rice to room temperature.

Add the sour curd, the sour cream and the coriander leaves to the rice along with some salt and stir well. This mixture should be neither too watery nor too dry. However, you may reduce or increase the curd and the sour cream according to your tastes. Correct the taste if necessary and set aside.


In a pan, heat ghee on low medium heat and fry gently the julienned ginger pieces, the curry leaves and the green chilies. As soon as you get a nice aroma, add the black gram, cashew nuts and Bengal gram. Fry until they turn brown. Add the cumin seeds, red chilies and the mustard seeds. When they stop crackling, add the asafetida and remove the pan off the flame and cool it down.

Add the above seasoning to the rice mixture and mix all the ingredients well.

Serve with any side dishes along with a hot Mango / Lime Pickle.
Now, this is the Curd Rice I’ve made here.


However, to enhance the flavor according to your tastes, you may add some diced shallots, cucumber, raw mango pieces, grated carrots or pomegranates according to the availability of the ingredients.

Whatever you add, careful with the number of ingredients you add and the quantity as well.
Very little seasoning might make the rice bland but too much of the seasoning ingredients might also make the rice unpalatable….….Happy cooking!!!!

Thursday 7 January 2010

Vathu kari Vindaloo Kozhambu (Duckling Vindaloo curry)

Hello and Happy New Year to all my readers!!!!

I know it’s almost a week, past the New Year and you might think I ‘m kinda waking up late to convey my wishes to all but you see, I’ve been having a tight timing with the after-effects of the celebrations, the re-opening of school ( kids) and the Winter Sales......I’ve been running here and there without a minute for myself……

Anyways, hope I could catch up the absence with my duck curry :):)

I love all red meats in general but the duck meat is my favorite one just after mutton. But unlike mutton, I’ve always associated Duck meat with something astringent like tamarind (like in my Vadava Kozhambu) or vinegar in my Indian preparations.

Some choose not to eat the skin of the meat as it contains all the fat but whatever you do, I' d suggest not to detach the skin from the meat until it’s cooked as the fatty skin is succulent and extremely flavorful when well cooked in the curry.

I prefer a duckling for this curry as a duckling is smaller in size (naturally :):) )and weighs lesser (less than 2 kg) than a duck and the meat is extremely tasty and a little more fine and tender than the big ones but however, you can equally enjoy this curry with a duck as well. The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

2kg Duckling / Duck meat (cleaned and cut into pieces)
3 big onions chopped roughly
1 full Garlic (the more the better) and equal amount of ginger peeled and chopped roughly
2 big tomatoes (chopped roughly)
Whole garam masala (a bunch of curry leaves, 2 bay leaves, 1 cinnamon stick)
½ tsp turmeric powder
A pinch of sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
Salt to taste
Oil

To roast and powder:
3 tsp pepper corns *
2 tsp mustard seeds
6 or 7 red chilies *
2 tbsp coriander seeds
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds

* = Reduce or increase the quantity according to your tastes

Method:


Roast on medium low flame and powder all the ingredients under “To roast and powder” (we’re not going to burn the ingredients here). Keep aside.
Fry the onions until brown in a little oil (5 tbsp must be enough). Remove and keep aside.

In the same oil, fry the garlic and ginger pieces slightly until a nice aroma comes and add the tomatoes along with the above and give it a brief fry. Let all the above cool down.

Grind to a fine paste the fried onions and the ginger/garlic/tomatoes separately.
Heat 3 tbsp oil in a double bottomed vessel, splutter the whole garam masala and add the onion paste and fry until oil oozes out; Add the tomato/ginger/garlic paste and fry likely.

Reduce the flame to medium and add salt, turmeric powder, sugar and vinegar followed by the roasted and powdered spices.

Keep stirring well; Increase the flame to high and add the meat and fry a little more until oil separates from the mixture, must be taking 5 minutes.
Add very little warm water. Verify and correct the taste if necessary.

Wait until boil comes and then continue cooking slowly, covered on medium low heat for about 30 to 45 minutes. Enjoy with Rice or Rotis.

Photo by my sis E, thank you Dee :)

PS: In case you like to add some potato cubes to the curry like I’ve done, then, add them just 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time.