Sunday, 12 January 2014

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani is a favourite in party food and restaurant orders. There is a reason this particular preparation is far ahead in its appeal compared to other dal preparations. The creamy texture and the slightly spicy taste with a hint of ginger is just irresistible and goes so well with the fried rice or pulao items.

I always wanted to try this but was apprehensive about how well folks at home will take to having butter and cream mixed into their healthy dal. But I decided it wouldn't do us much harm to make this once a while.

So here goes the recipe I used this afternoon for a yummy lunch.
Black Urad Dal - 3/4 cup
Asafoetida/Hing - 1/4 tsp
Onion - 2 medium sized chopped fine
Tomato - 2 medium sized diced
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger Paste - 1 tsp
Amti masala - 1/2 tsp
Green Chillies - 2 (slit lengthwise)
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Butter - 1 tbsp
Cream - 2 tbsp

Soak the urad dal in 3 cups of water over night.
Boil the urad dal with asafoetida in the pressure cooker giving 7-8 whistles until soft.
When the cooker cools down, mash the dal well. 
In a kadai, heat some oil and fry the chopped onions until pink. Add the tomato and saute until soft. Add the green chillies, chilli powder, ginger paste, amti masala, coriander, cumin and salt and fry for a few seconds. Add the mashed dal and let boil for a few minutes. Add the butter and cream and allow to simmer for a minute or so. Serve hot and garnish with coriander leaves, with rice or rotis. 
Verdict: Enjoy the creamy and mildly spiced dal makhani with your favourite pulav. A dish worth investing your time in.
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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Lemon Coriander Soup

Anyone up for some soup? This never fails to elicit a positive response even from my little girl! Folks at home are always up for some steaming hot soup... So keeping up their interest is a bit challenging and I need to keep dishing out different varieties. I rarely take photographs of such quick dishes, as I am busy with dinner preparations at the same time, but I managed to photograph this Lemon-coriander soup as I served it alongside lunch one weekend.

So here goes the bits and pieces that go into this delectable and soothing hot drink...

Coriander - 12-15 stalks 
Curry leaves - 5-8 
Carrots - 2 small shredded
Green Peas - 1/4 cup (optional)

Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Thyme - 1/2 tsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Pepper - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

Water - approximately 600 ml

Corn flour paste - 1 tbsp cornflour + 1 tsbp water

Juice of 2 small lemons or 1 large lemon, about 2 tablespoons.
Coriander leaves and some spring onions for garnishing 

Puree the coriander and curry leaves into a smooth paste. Boil the water and in a saucepan and add the coriander-curry leaves paste to it. Add the spices and let it come to a boil. Add the shredded carrots and green peas, if adding. Boil until the vegetables are almost cooked and the raw smell of coriander disappears. 
Add the corn-flour paste and mix quickly, so no lumps are formed. Keep boiling until the soup thickens a bit. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. 

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

It is a breezy easy soup to prepare on a cold winter evening... urge you to try it!
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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Eggless Baking Challenge - Creme Brulee (No-bake)

It has been a while since I participated in the Eggless Baking Challenge. I decided I would not miss it this time. But the hectic work schedules leaves me exhausted on weekends to venture into unknown territories... And Creme Brule was one such recipe. Curiosity however won the trepidation, and one attempt later I was very happy with the outcome, albeit a bit late for the challenge ;)

Here is the original recipe (Source: Sanjeev Kapoor)

Cream - 500 ml
Egg Yolks - 4
Egg - 1
Sugar - 1 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp
Vanilla Essence - 1/2 tsp
Demerara Sugar  6 tbsp


Heat the cream in a pan till it reaches the boiling point. Set aside to cool. Place the egg yolks and whole egg in a bowl, add all the sugar and mix. Cook over a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, till the sugar dissolves, making sure that the eggs do not scramble. Add the egg mixture to the cream and mix well. Preheat oven to 180°C/350ยบ F/Gas Mark 4. Add the vanilla essence to the cream mixture and mix well. Strain the entire mixture into another bowl. Pour the cream mixture into four ramekin moulds. Cover each mould with aluminum foil and pierce to allow steam to escape. Pour some water into a deep baking tray. Place the moulds in the water bath and place the tray in the oven. Bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Remove from the oven, take the moulds out of the water bath and allow them to cool completely. Chill in the refrigerator. Just before serving sprinkle a tablespoon of Demerara sugar over the set custard in each of the moulds and caramelise the sugar with the torch. Serve immediately.

To caramelize the sugar without using a blowtorch, there is a method to heat the spoon on the flame and place it on top of the sugar. 

First of all I scaled the recipe down, altered some proportions and finally came up with the following:

Cream - 200 ml
Custard Powder - 3 tbsp
Sugar - 4 tbsp
Milk - 3 tbsp

Demerara sugar -  2 tbsp

Gelatine - 1/4 tsp 
Water - 1/2 tbsp

Mix the milk and custard powder into a smooth paste. Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan, until the sugar dissolves. Mix the custard paste into the cream and bring it to a boil, stirring continously so that there no lumps. When the custard thickens remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down. 

Mix the gelatine crystals in water in a shallow saucepan and gently place it over the flame, until the gelatine dissolves in the water. 

Beat the cooled down custard with the gelatine for a few seconds in the blender. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Spoon the smooth custard into the ramekins moulds. I used 1-ounce small ramekins and was able to fill up 5 of those with the custard.

Allow to set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. 

Sprinkle some demerara sugar on top of the set cream custard. Heat a ladle in the flame and place it on top of the sugar. The heat from the ladle should caramelize the sugar. In my case, the sugar stuck to the base of the ladle when I lifted it up and made a few hollows. So I caramelized the sugar on only one ramekin. I skipped the rest. I was guessing placing the hot ladle on the sugar and heating the top with a lighter would work as well. But since I did not have a lighter at home I could not try it.

Verdict: The creaminess of the custard was awesome... But I am a little doubtful if it qualifies as panna cotta instead of creme-brulee given that it has gelatine and it is a no-bake recipe. I leave it to the experts to comment on it.
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