Chinese food has been popular in India from a very long time now. Chowmein has even become an integral part of the street food scene in different nooks and corners of the country. Maggi is something which most of us have been eating from the time we were kids. Momos is another chinese speciality that has made deft inroads in the Indian culinary scene. In short, Indo-chinese food has become the new hallmark of the “hindi chini bhai bhai” paradigm .
Today’s recipe is Hakka Noodles, deriving it’s name from the chinese province of Hakka. Hakka Noodles is basically noodles cooked with plenty of colourful veggies. In that sense, it is the Pasta Primavera of the Chinese cuisine .
Hakka Noodles is prepared using the chinese trademark stir-frying technique. Stir-frying is generally done in a wok, which is somewhat similar to the Indian kadhai, except that it has a wider bottom to provide a uniform heating surface.Also, stir-frying is done over a very high temperature and this is what makes replicating the perfect chinese noodles at home so difficult. Only in the industrial gas burners used in restaurants, can one cook perfect stir-fried food.Nevertheless, this dish can be tried by the home cook if one is not very particular about the elusive perfection of stir-fried food.
To make Hakka Noodles, first boil some noodles (I have used egg noodles) in salted water for 5-8 min. Add few drops of oil to the water to prevent the noodles from sticking.Next cut a few veggies into juliennes. I have used red and green bell peppers, babycorn, carrots and spring onions. One can also use shredded cabbage and bean sprouts.Once the noodles is cooked, drain it. Now heat some oil in a wok (or kadhai). Using groundnut oil is recommended. Now one by one add the vegetables into the wok and stir-fry by stirring continuously for around 3-4 min over high heat.Next season the veggies with salt, ajina moto and white pepper powder. Then add 2-3 tbsp of soya sauce. This will impart the dark colour to noodles. You can also add a dash of white vinegar for tanginess. Finally mix in the boiled noodles and stir for another 2-3 minutes, till the noodles is uniformly coated with sauce.
Chinese cooking is easy to master, but most often requires a lot of ingredients. But having said that, it’s always worth it.So next time you are having a craving for chowmein, then instead of making a dash for your nearest chinese outlet, try out this recipe in your home. It will cost you only a fraction, not to mention the joy of stir-frying .
What is it?
It’s a hot dog.
It’s a hot hot dog.
It’s a hot dog.
-Keanu Reeves in Sweet November
Hotdog is one of those popular American fast foods that’s steadily making it’s appearance in the Indian street food scene.And for those bewildered by the name (as I was for a very long time ), of course, it’s got nothing to do with dogs
Hotdogs traditionally consist of meat sausages placed within rectangular pieces of sliced bun and topped with some kind of sauce (tomato, mustard, mayonnaise etc.).And to justify the “hot” in the hotdog, it is grilled on a hot plate before being served. And it is eaten in the same manner as any other sandwich.
With hotdog buns and packaged meat sausages easily available in superstores these days, it has become very easy to prepare hotdogs at home; even easier than sandwiches I would argue. Just fry off a couple of chicken sausages and heat the buns on a pan with little amount of butter/oil. Place lettuce leaves in the slit of the bun, then the sausage pieces, and finally onion slices and jalapenos(optional). Top off with a sauce of your choice. I used tomato ketchup and mustard sauce. Don’t forget to have it hot
And in case the “hot dog” turns out to be a “hot hot dog”, then you can take my cue and have “thanda thanda cool cool Roohafza” . Strange combination, I know…..but it helps .
Egg in a Nest
Recently, I was catching up on some old movies, and I happened to watch V for Vendetta.One of the unusually engrossing scenes in the movie (no idea how it escaped my attention earlier), is when Hugo Weaving (and later on, even Stephen Rea), cook this dish called Eggy in a Basket, for the lead heroine played by Natalie Portman. I call it engrossing, because Hugo cooks it with all the theatrics of a pan flipping chef worth his salt .And bingo, this recipe was immediately on my checklist.
Eggy in a Basket, Egg in a Nest, Egg Basket etc etc…this dish goes by several names. It is a creative re-interpretation of the traditional English breakfast, Egg n’ Toast. It’s one of those dishes that’s full of buttery and eggy goodness …and a strict no-no for the calorie conscious!
With this disclaimer, let me now talk about the dish. I am sure you are wondering how the egg managed to fit so cosily in the center . Well, the secret is that the egg is resting in a hole cut in the center of the bread slice. For this recipe, take any bread slice that’s big enough and firm enough. Cut out a round (or any shape you desire) hole in the center with a sharp cutter. Coat one side with a generous amount of butter and toast it butter-side down on a fry pan. While the bread is on the pan, coat the other side with butter too (I know, that sounds unusual, but if you can coat both sides of the bread with butter while balancing it in your hands, then go for it!). Once the bread is sufficiently browned on one side, flip it, por some oil in the hole, and then break a egg into that hole. Season the egg with salt and pepper. The temperature of the pan should be tuned in such a way that the bread does not get burnt, while the egg cooks. After a minute or so, sprinkle some oil on the egg, and then flip it deftly, so that the egg can cook on it’s sunny side. Remove after 30sec or so and serve it hot.However, if you like your egg runny, then feel free to leave the sunny side uncooked.
Egg in a Nest makes for an ideal, lazy and romantic Sunday breakfast. And though only a single toast, trust me, it’s filling enough. Enjoy this with a hot cup of tea
Spanish Omelette with Stuffed Mushrooms
This dish elevates the humble omelette to all it’s glory . It’s a far cry from the dreary bread omelette which is a staple breakfast and snack item in Indian homes. Stuffed Omelettes are one of those versatile dishes which can be tuned to one’s imagination. Stuffings can be one’s favourite veggies or minced meat or even mushrooms as in this case. And one can have this as a meal all by itself or along with any bread accompaniments.
Stuffed Omelettes are thicker than the regular omelettes and a tad well-cooked. To prepare this dish, first saute some chopped button mushrooms in a generous amount of butter along with salt, herb seasonings and chopped coriander leaves. Cook until dry. Next fry an omelette in the traditional way, except make sure that the base is twice as thick. Once the omelette is cooked on both sides, spread the mushrooms in the centre and fold the opposite edges to form a roll. Serve hot.
My dad gave me pass marks for this dish . So do try this in your homes as well. It is a bit unusual combination, but trust me, it tastes awesome . Enjoy cooking!!
Aloo Bread Roll
And I present to you yet another potato based snack . Aloo Bread Roll is one of those delicacies which I used to savour in my childhood days. Indeed, it was prepared only on special occasions, such as iftaars or when guests came visiting.I not only used to love eating it, but also used to love watching my mother and sister preparing it. For some odd reason, the preparation process always caught my imagination. And it’s one of those snacks which I have eaten on the sly several times
Well, Aloo Bread Roll is a very simple, but kinda lenghty recipe. Firstly, boil and mash some potatoes. Next in a pan,fry some chopped onions, chopped green chillies and peanuts (optional). Mix in the mashed potatoes along with coriander leaves and add salt and any other seasoning of your choice. Cook for 5 min and then allow to cool.Once cooled, shape the potato mix into small cylinders (or rather sausage). Now, take a slice of white bread, lightly soak in water, and then press gently to remove excess water. In the centre of the bread slice, put the potato cylinder and then pull up the opposite edges of the slice so that the potato is completely covered by the bread. Use extra bread if needed.This step requires a lot of love and care, so don’t hurry . Once done, keep the pieces in the fridge for 5-10 min, so that the bread can properly adhere to the potato. Finally, deep fry until golden brown.
Aloo Bread Roll will taste best when served with an accompaniment of tomato or green chutney.So try this out and enjoy with your friends and family . Happy Cooking!!
Pasta with Spinach
Any fan of Italian cuisine would love experimenting with Pasta, and I am in no way different . Pasta is a very versatile dish and can be given a multitude of tones and colours and flavours.Almost any vegetable in the world can be married into a pasta dish, with utmost ease and fantastic end-result. So today’s recipe is one such marriage made in heaven – Spinach and Pasta!
Well, firstly Spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals and is considered very healthy. It’s also easily available and widely used in Indian cuisine.Spinach itself is a very flexible ingredient and can be easily incorporated into several dishes.
To make Spinach Pasta, cook any variety of pasta ( I have taken fusilli) until it’s al-dente.Next take some fresh Spinach leaves (discard the stems), and chop roughly.Cook the leaves in a pan with a little bit of butter and salt for around 1 min. Next, in a separate pan, prepare some white sauce, which is a classic Italian sauce. Melt some butter in a pan, and then add 1 tbsp of refined flour (maida). Cook for about 1 min and then add 1 glass of milk. Cook this mixture for 5 minutes or until it acquires a sauce-like consistency. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning(oregano, parsley, chilli flakes). Finally mix the pasta and the cooked spinach leaves into the sauce.Optionally, sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese from top.Serve hot
Personally, I am a huge glutton when it comes to White Sauce and I can lick dry any pasta dish that’s cooked in it .The charm of this sauce lies in it’s simplicity, not to mention it’s flavour.
So do try out this recipe in your homes and enjoy it with your families. Bon Apetite!!
Methi Paratha is one of those simple and healthy paratha dishes that’s perfect for breakfast.Methi or Fenugreek, like any other green leaves, has lots of medicinal properties and is used in Indian Cooking in a variety of ways.One just has to be a tad careful when cooking with methi leaves, because it is slightly bitter, and hence should always be used in small quantities.
In methi paratha, methi is combined with the dough instead of being used as a stuffing like in traditional parathas. To make the dough, take some flour in a bowl and add roughly chopped methi leaves, diced onions, chopped green chillies, salt, 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp curd(for smoothness), and a little amchur or mango powder (to take away the bitterness). Knead the dough with little water till it is soft and non-sticky. Leave aside for 15 minutes. Next shape into balls (slightly bigger than chapati balls), and flatten and cook it like any roti. When it’s almost cooked, add little oil or butter on both sides and cook on the tawa till it’s done.
You can have methi paratha with pickle or curd.Unlike other parathas, it does not require too much effort to prepare and is also lighter on the palate. So include this in your weekly menus and live a happy and healthy life
Zuchhini Wrapped Cutlets
We all have these lazy moments when we feel like cooking without a recipe. Moments when we just rummage our pantry and refrigerator for whatever’s available and rustle up something with those ingredients. And I think everyone will agree with me on this; these on-the-spot dishes are most often our most creative dishes and something we feel truly proud of
So the dish I am describing today came from one such lazy inspiration . In my refrigerator, I had some frozen peas, a packet of sweet corn, zuchhini and pomegranate.The zuchhini definitely needed some love and attention as it had been lying ignored for a long time. At the back of my head, I could vaguely remember some TV recipe for zuchhini wraps.This led me to the idea of zuchhini wraps with fillings of mashed peas and mashed corns. And I also decided to throw in some pomegranate seeds into the wrap for a fruity angle to the flavour.
For this recipe, first boil the corn and peas separately. Next mash the peas and grind the corns to form a coarse paste. Season both the mashed mixes with salt and pepper. Next cut the zuchhini into long rectangular slices using a suitable slicer. I must add here, that getting the perfect slices comes with practise, so don’t get disheartened if you end up with uneven slices. Now spread the pea mix on some slices and the corn mix on others. On top of this, spread a layer of cheese (use cheese with liquid or semi-solid texture). Throw in a few pomegranate seeds and roll the slice (just like you would roll a Roulade). Use some cheese to bind the free end of the roll. Shallow fry in a pan from both sides until they catch a light golden colour. Enjoy with cheese sauce
Zuchhini by itself is kind of tasteless. The primary flavour comes from the filling. If you are a non-vegetarian, you can also experiment with minced chicken or mutton stuffings.
All the best with your Zuchhini Experiments!!
Pindi Chole with Garnish
Pindi Chole is a very popular Punjabi chole preparation, that is served predominantly with puri and bhatura. It gets it’s name from Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan) from where it originated. Pindi Chole generally has a darker hue than the other chole preparations and it is a dry dish, with only a small quantity of the gravy coating the chana (chickpeas).
During Ramzaan, we daily have Chole in post-fast meals, primarily because chickpeas are a great source of proteins.Pindi Chole has a more elaborate preparation than the traditional Chole Masala. The highlight of the recipe is that the chana is cooked twice.Typical Pindi Chole is made only with chickpeas, but in my preparation I have also used kala chana (black grams). First, boil the chana in a pressure cooker with adequate water, salt to taste, 1-2 tea bags (for dark colour) and little bit of tamarind or amla (for sourness). This should take 25-30 mins on a medium flame. Meanwhile, in a kadhai, add oil and flavour with some whole spices (bay leaves, cloves, green cardamoms, black cardamom). Add finely chopped onions and cook until translucent.Add ginger paste and cook until raw smell goes away. Add the drained chana and season with red chilli powder, garam masala and chana masala (available pre-packaged). If the chana gets too dry, you can add little bit of the chana water that was used for boiling. Cook this for 2-3 minutes and finally garnish with tomato and onion slices, slit green chillies and coriander leaves.
Chana Dal Salad
At home for Ramzaan , we usually have pindi chole along with chana dal salad.This is a very simple salad made with chana dal that is soaked overnight. The chana dal is mixed with finely chopped onions, diced tomatoes, chopped cucumber, chopped green chillies, lemon juice and salt to taste.
Pindi Chole can be either had alone or along with any bread preparations (roti, paratha, puri, bhatura etc). So do prepare this in your homes and enjoy it with your family
Pasta with Tomato Sauce
My Mummy and Italians have one thing in common. Both take great pride in their tomatoes . My mother creates a huge fuss whenever buying tomatoes, picks every single piece by hand, and rejects any tomato that has even the smallest patch of yellow or green .No one in our family has yet managed to wrap our heads around WHY she has such a fondness for tomatoes . Coming to Italy, some of the world’s finest quality tomatoes are grown here.Tomatoes are a common ingredient in most of the traditional Italian dishes and the quality of the tomatoes can make or break the flavour of the dish. Perfect Italian tomatoes are fresh, bright red and not too sour.
Pasta Pomodoro or pasta with tomato sauce is one of the simple and traditional Italian dishes. Tomato sauce can be prepared in several ways, and consequently this dish too has several varities. Check out my recipe for the tomato sauce.Also for the pasta, I have used the Fusilli variety. To make this dish, boil the pasta till al-dente. Take little bit of olive oil or butter in a pan, add the tomato sauce and cook for 2-3 min. At this stage, you can also add cream or grated parmesan cheese if you want the pasta to be creamy. Finally add the boiled pasta and season with Italian seasoning (dried oregano, parsley,basil,salt etc.). Pasta Pomodoro is ready to serve. And oh, did I mention..this dish is incredibly light and healthy
Ending this with a popular food quote
Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.