Pakoda Platter

Indian Pakoda Platter

Indian Pakoda Platter

My Ramzaan special platter of bhajjis / pakodas. The platter consists of onion rings, potato roundlets, zuchhini roundlets and chilli bhajji. Prepared very much in desi style, the batter is made with grinded moong daal instead of the traditional besan. So it’s not only lighter on the palate but also far healthier. The batter is spiced with the usual Indian spices.As with preparing any bhajji, the batter consistency and the oil temperature are of paramount importance in getting the perfect coating and crispy texture.

I got the idea of making a platter from one of the fast food outlets I had been to lately. It also fits in perfectly with my personal philosophy of serving helpings that are not just wholesome but also have variety.

Pakodas with a hot steamy cup of Chai would be a luxurious treat this Monsoon!! Hope you all enjoy cooking this :)

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Italian Khana – Part 1

This is the first in the sequence of italian recipes that I will be posting shortly. Italian being my favourite cuisine, this post is quite delayed :) . But hopefully, henceforth there will be few delicious italian dishes posted here.Bon Apetite!!

Pan Pizza

Homemade Pan Pizza

This has been prepared with the readymade pizza bases that are now available in the supermarkets.First cook the pizza base from both sides in a pan , so that ┬áit takes on a slightly brownish tinge. Next smear some tomato sauce on the base, add some fried vegetables (finely diced onions, zuchhini, tomatoes,red and yellow capsicum) and top it with some black olives and shredded mozarella cheese. Season with dried italian herbs and chilli flakes and cook in a covered pan for 5-10 min.This is a very quick and handy recipe in case you don’t have an oven like me :)

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

This is a classic risotto recipe prepared with risotto/arborio rice. This is a special type of sticky rice, which is not available in India. I got mine through a friend who had been to Italy :) . You can try replacing risotto rice with basmati rice, but you may not end up getting the same taste and texture. To prepare this dish, fry some finely diced onions in little bit of olive oil or butter, till the onions become translucent. Next add the rice and fry till the rice becomes little translucent. Now keep adding small quantities of vegetable stock and stirring the mixture. Repeat this till the rice is almost cooked. Add some salt to taste.Finally add the mushrooms which have been fried in butter and herbs. You can also add some shredded mozarella cheese at this stage if you want your risotto to be very creamy. Now add little more stock to the rice and keep stirring till the rice is completely cooked. Top it off with some parmesan cheese and parsley leaves.In order to make sure that the rice is neither overcooked nor undercooked, you need to stir constantly and keep tasting in between.

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

This is again a classic Italian recipe, prepared with spaghetti. First cook some spaghetti in a pot of water with little bit of salt, till it’s al-dente.Next, separately fry off some corn kernels, finely diced zuchinni and cherry tomatoes in little bit of olive oil.Also fry some sliced mushrooms in butter and herbs. Make sure to season all the fried components. Next in a wide bottomed pan, add little bit of olive oil and cook the boiled spaghetti in it for a couple of minutes. Add the fried veggies followed by some italian seasoning (parsley, oregano,basil etc.). Also add some diced olives as toppings. Remove from heat and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

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Eid Special!!

This is the output of my first ever solo Eid menu preparation :) . Had few more dishes planned but this is all that I could do for the day. Thankfully, there were no disasters in the kitchen and everything turned out good, mashallah!!

Hope you enjoy seeing this as much as I enjoyed cooking and eating it :P . Well, the eating part actually went on for a week :) . Need to shed those calories!!

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Ever Heard of Grilled Parathas??

Ok, now grilled sandwiches, grilled steaks, grilled veggies, grilled paneers and mushrooms, all seem to make sense…but grilled parathas??? Surely, you must be joking!! At least, that’s what crossed my mind when I stepped into the Kaati Zone outlet in my neighbourhood and asked the guy behind the counter to explain what their “Chicken Cheeseria” menu item meant. “It is a paratha stuffed with chicken cubes that has been grilled like a sandwich, ma’am”. And I couldn’t help smiling :) .

By the way, there’s nothing rocket science about this preparation. Just take a cooked paratha, stuff it with cooked chicken cubes, put loads of cheese slices, and cheese sauce, then fold the paratha in a semi-circle shape and leave it in the oven grill for 5 minutes. That’s it! It’s important to have it hot when it’s still warm and all the cheese still gooey :) .And, they parcel it in a really cute looking red box :) . The only thing not nice about it is it’s exorbitant price of 115 bucks. I can think of several ways of having more filling meals in that much amount. But if you have not tried it, you are missing something indeed.

Grilled parathas!!…now that’s some innovation :)

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Foodistan : About Chef Wars

These days the Ndtv Good Times channel is showing frequent promos of their upcoming show Foodistan which debuts on 23rd January. Foodistan is a cookery show wherein professional chefs from India and Pakistan compete against each other to dish out the best of recipes. The show is being produced by Siddharth Basu’s Big Synergy and is the most expensive show of any kind that the channel has ever made. The judges panel consists of Vir Sanghvi (India), Sonya Jehan (Pakistan) and Merrilees Parker (celebrity chef from Britain).The hosts are Ira Dubey and Aly Khan. Refer Vir Sanghvi’s blog for more interesting details.

Since I saw the promo, I have been waiting very eagerly for the launch of the show. Prior to this, Ndtv Good Times  had another competitive food show called Pressure Cooker.It had only 6 contestants who were amateur cooks and who were handpicked by the judges.The fact that the show concept was very unique was the only thumbs up. Everything else, from the excitement level to the suspense to the degree of hardness were a huge letdown. Hopefully Foodistan will be nothing like this and will come true to the high expectations we all have of it :) . Hopefully, it has all the drama quotient and hopefully we would get to see some good recipes, especially from across the border.

Time for some food diplomacy, my friends :)

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The Secret Behind ‘Firm’ Potato Cutlets

I have made several attempts at cooking potato cutlets.But I have always ended up with super soft and delicate cutlets that break very easily. The damage can happen at any stage of the cooking process; either when making the patty, or when transferring it to the frying pan, or when flipping it so that it cooks on the other side, or when removing from the frying pan onto the plate , or even when you so much as lift it to eat it :) . Needless to say, making these potato cutlets requires a great deal of care and the cooking procedure while pretty simple is actually riddled with several pressure points.

So I turned to the internet (my saviour !!) to look for a workaround . I learnt that the reason potato cutlets break is due to high moisture content. This will happen if the potato has been mashed when still warm or if the water has not been completely drained from the potato before mashing it. In my case, the problem was occurring because of the potato being mashed when still hot; for some reason, I thought it will be easier to mash when still warm; when the trapped hot air inside the potato condenses, it makes the mash soggy. Apart from this, many forums and blogs also recommended dusting the cutlet with bread crumbs or semolina or maida or corn flour to give it the firm texture.Sometimes, these can also be mixed with the mash. Not only does this stiffens the cutlet but also makes it crispy when fried.

Have fun making aloo tikkis!! 

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Hard-boiled Eggs

In the last week, I had to prepare hard boiled eggs on a couple of occasions. Unlike my expectations, it wasn’t a smooth ride and I had several frustrating moments trying to find my way around those small white innocent but beastly things.Once all the egg white oozed out while the egg was still simmering in the water, and on another occasion I removed the eggs from the heat prematurely, consequently ending up with runny eggs.Peeling the eggs was another pain and I had to do the peeling at a really snail’s pace in order to ensure that the whites didn’t get detached along with the shells.Not to mention that the cooking process is greatly influenced by the shape, size, quantity, temperature and freshness of the eggs.

So I resorted to the internet to look for some tips on getting perfect hard boiled eggs. Surprisingly, there was a load of information dedicated to this seemingly simple topic, much to my delight. Ok, so I am not the only morone who doesn’t know how to boil an egg :) . Below, I have listed down the useful links I referred.

1. http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_perfect_hard_boiled_eggs/
2. http://www.wikihow.com/Hard-Boil-an-Egg
3. http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/BoiledEggs.htm

Enriched by all the information that I have gathered, I hope I can cook the perfect boiled eggs next time, and do that without having egg on my face :)

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Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Most of us would have seen olive oil in supermarket shelves but felt confused by the different grading and types of olive oil available.In this post, I will try to reduce that confusion by talking about the different varities of olive oil available in India and when to use which type of oil.

Olive oil is mostly imported in India from Spain. Spain, Italy and Greece are together responsible for nearly 75% of the worldwide production of olive oil.Olive oil generally comes in four varities namely, extra virgin, virgin, pure and refined.These differ primarily in their processing and acidic content.Olive oil is extracted from it’s fruit by pressing it. This extracted oil may sometimes have a high acidic content and unpleasant aroma and is therefore unpalatable.In this case, the oil needs to be further refined using chemicals or by other means.

Virgin olive oil comes from first pressing and is produced without refining.It has acidity less than 2% and is considered to have good flavour. It can be used in uncooked form.

Extra virgin olive oil is also obtained in same way as virgin olive oil.However it has acidity level of no more than 0.8% and is considered to be superior to virgin olive oil.It has a slightly fruity taste and is used uncooked.

Refined olive oil are ones that have been obtained by further refining virgin olive oil.Hence, they become clear, odourless and flavourless and have an acidity content below 0.3%.This gives them a long shelf life. Since they are completely flavourless, they are used only for low to mid-temperature frying. They cannot be used uncooked. Refined olive oil is rarely sold as-is and is generally blended with virgin olive oil to impart some flavour.

Pure olive oil is nothing but a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil.The virgin olive oil is used to impart flavour and this type of olive oil can have an acidity content of not more than 1.5%. Generally, oils in this category contain about 85% refined olive oil and 15% extra virgin olive oil.Pure olive oil has a high smoke point and hence can be used for high temperature frying.

So now that we know the different types of olive oil, let’s see when to use which type. Extra virgin and virgin olive oil can be used uncooked in salads, marinades or with bread. Pure and refined olive oil is generally used for frying purpose. Refined olive oil is produced in more abundance compared to virgin olive oil and hence is lot cheaper. Keeping all this in mind, it is best to stock your pantry with two types of olive oil – an extra virgin variety and pure olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil has lower shelf life and should be purchased in smaller quantities, say 250 ml at a time. For pure olive oil, keep an eye out for discount packages and festival offers, and you can purchase it in abundance.Since pure olive oil is mainly used for frying, it will get used up also very fast.Sometimes, you will even see extra virgin olive oil being sold in spray bottles. Buy this only if you are very conscious about the quantity of olive oil you use in your recipes.

This post cannot be complete without talking about the health benefits of olive oil.Olive oil is considered to be one of the most healthy oils, because of it’s high mono-saturated fat content and relatively low saturated fat content.Olive oil helps in regulating cholestrol levels and keeps the heart healthy.

Enjoy cooking with Olive Oil !!

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Zucchini and Pumpkin Flower Fritters

Today afternoon, I was watching David Rocco’s food show on Fox where he prepared fritters (equivalent for Indian Bhajji) with zucchini flowers.Later in the evening, I was seeing Chef Vineet Bhatia’s show where he was eating pumpkin flower fritters at an Oriyya restaurant.The zucchini and pumpkin flowers look very similar, but I am not sure whether they taste also similar.

In David Rocco’s italian version of zucchini flower fritters, the batter was prepared with maida, eggs and cold water.The zuchinni flowers were cleaned delicately, stuffed with mozarella cheese cut lengthwise and with chopped sardines.The flowers were then gently dipped in the batter, coated and deep fried in olive oil.The seasoning was added on top of the fried flowers.

The Oriyya version of pumpkin flower fritters was not demonstrated, but I am guessing that the recipe used besan (instead of maida) and the batter was seasoned with spices prior to the deep frying, as there was a distinct yellow-reddish colour on the fried flowers.

To make the flowers more light and crisp, little pinch of soda bicarb can also be added.

I have never seen either of these two flowers being sold in Bangalore. But, I thought of sharing the recipe as it definitely looks very appealing :)

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