Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Kacchi Haldi Sabzi

I know winters are on their way out, but there is still time to make the most of the abundant produce. While summers are for light, fresh flavours, winters are for decadent indulgence. Eat seasonal all the nutritionists say. So when you gather all those vibrant veggies and dollop everything with fresh ghee, you are basically doing your health a service!
There is truth in it. Indian cooking has always been influenced by the change of seasons and local produce. We have our aamras and jaljeeras in summer. And our til, jaggery and saags in winter. When the veggies are fresh and the body needs extra calories to fight against the harsh weather.
Fresh turmeric or kacchi haldi is a winter essential up north, though relatively unknown as you move to warm and milder south. You will find my entire fam sipping turmeric steeped warm water as the weather gets progressively colder. Or snacking on this delicious Turmeric pickle as the weather oscillates with the onset of spring. 
Another fabulous dish to introduce more of this miracle spice is this lip smacking stir fry. The Kacchi Haldi Sabzi or Fresh Turmeric Stirfry is a little known dish from the state of Rajasthan. It is a fairly traditional preparation that is hard to find in restaurants. And though it involves some laborious prep, I can wholeheartedly say it is worth every second of the effort. 

Kacchi haldi sabzi

Fresh Turmeric                    250 gm
Carrots                                 80 gm
Peas                                     50 gm
Cauliflower                         50 gm
Ghee                                    150 gm
Curds                                   250 gm
Red chilli powder                1 teaspoon
Coriander powder                1 teaspoon
Green Chillies                      2, chopped
Ginger, grated                      1 teaspoon
Heeng                                   a pinch
Cumin seeds                         1 teaspoon
Black Cardamom                 4
Bay leaf                                1

Method: Peel the turmeric and carrots. Chop finely into small pieces. You can also choose to grate them, but I personally like the slight crunch from the whole pieces. Chop your cauliflower florets into small pieces as well. Add the spice powders and salt to the curds, whip lightly and keep aside. Heat the ghee in a heavy bottom pan. When hot, add the turmeric and lightly fry till golden. Drain and keep aside. Repeat for the rest of the vegetables, frying each separately. Lower the flame, add the heeng, bayleaf, cumin and cardamom to the ghee. Once it sizzles, add the curds. Mix well and add the ginger and green chillies. Once the curd thickens and the ghee starts to separate, add the fried turmeric and vegetables. Mix well, adding a splash of milk if the masala starts to stick to the pan. Continue to cook on low heat till the vegetables are cooked and the starts to leave the sides of the pan. Serve warm, garnished with fresh coriander leaves. Tastes best with Bajre ki rotis!


Thursday, January 21, 2021

Upside Down Caramelized Orange Cake

 People romance Chocolate, but I need a zing! A citrus zing, to be precise. If you ever wondered why restaurants feature lemon or orange desserts on their menu... Well, for people like me! Lemon in the summer and oranges in winter!! Aaah! There is something simply divine in that!

My love for oranges is evident in my previous posts. I've made a marmalade , a cake and even a Kheer! Each one delicious in it's own way. I even made a very potent Orange Wine, but more on that later. This morning as the heady aroma of oranges greeted me from the fruit bowl, my heart craved cake. Now, I could go back to any of the previous cake recipes, but where's the fun in that?! 

I wanted to try something new. Something that had not just that citrus hit, but also celebrated the gorgeousness of the fruit. The fact that I've been dying to try a caramelized upside down cake, may or may not have influenced my decision. I used the French Yogurt Cake as my starting point. The flavours in that are just so fresh and citrusy! But i wanted the cake more crumbier and dense, to hold against the orange slices. So a few changes and to my luck, I got an absolutely perfect Upside Down Caramelized Orange Cake. 

Flour                        1 and 1/2 cups
Semolina                  1/2 cup
Baking Powder        2 tsp      
Baking Soda            1 tsp
Oil                            3/4 cup
Sugar                       1 cup   
Eggs                        2  
Yogurt                     1/4 cup
Oranges                   4 
Brown Sugar          7 Tablespoons

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Sift all the dry ingredients together. Brush a 9 inch springform pan with butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar all over the buttered base. Thinly slice 2 oranges and arrange them over the sugar. Zest the other 2 oranges and rub into the granulated sugar. Once the zest releases it's aroma, beat in the eggs. Once the batter looks thick and creamy, beat in the yogurt. Now add the oil, drizzling a little at a time and beating well with each addition. Gently fold in the dry ingredients. 
Extract 1/4 cup juice from the zested oranges and add it to the batter. Pour the batter over the prepared tin. Bake for 45 minutes. Let it cool before serving it up! 

Notes: You can substitute the Oranges with Kinnows or Mandarins or any other citrus fruits.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Brigadier Fernando's Spicy Prawns

Who says army guys can't cook? Some of the most lip smacking dishes have been served up by the faujis in my life. All of them instinctive, adaptive and creative cooks! Brig Fernando, or Neville Uncle as I fondly call him, is no exception to this trend. 
I was all of 10 when I met him first. I spent most of that visit hiding behind Dad's legs. Too shy to talk. But I did follow him around the kitchen as he cooked up a lavish Sri lankan style feast. And that is the memory that endured over the years. His jolly commentary as he chopped, marinated, extracted coconut milk. Smiling, coaxing and dispensing cooking tips that I remember still. It is hard for me separate Neville Uncle's memories from the kitchen.
I was thrilled when he made a second trip to India in recent years. Technology made it easier to keep in touch. And when I needed some spicy carnivore recipes to add to my repertoire, I knew whom to call! After all, the taste of his Sri Lankan Chicken Curry still lingers on! Neville Uncle and Senophi aunty happily shared some of their family favourites. Among them all, these spicy prawns have become a staple at mine!
These super easy, super delicious prawns are Uncle's original creation. And I guarantee they will soon be a staple at your table as well! Presenting it here in Uncle's own words.

SPicy prawns

500 Grams cleaned medium size prawns.- Clean the prawns keep the tail intact.
2 Table spoons each of Ginger and garlic.Cut into thin strips.
2 Bombay onions cut into small cubes.
1 Table spoon Chilly paste or chilly flakes
2 table spoons light Soya sauce.
3 table spoons margarine or butter or even cooking oil.
2 full tea spoons crushed black pepper.
Spring onions to garnish the dish.
1 tea spoons of salt.
1 each of red pepper and green pepper. Cut into strips.(this item is optional).

Wash the cleaned prawns in saffron and salt water.Pat dry and keep aside.
In a non stick pan,  pour the butter or oil.
When oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic strips and fry  for 2 or 3 minutes.
Now add the cleaned prawns and fry for approx 5 to 6 minutes.
Now add the onions and green and red peppers.
Now add the crushed black pepper and salt.
Fry for a minute or two.
Add 2 table spoons of light Soya sauce.
Add the chilly paste or the chilly flakes.
Transfer the prawns to a plate and garnish with 1 inch pieces of spring onions.
PRESTO Brig Fernando 's dish is ready.
Enjoy with yellow rice or bread.

Pl note if you want the dish to be slightly wet add half cup of thick coconut milk just before taking off the fire and fry for 2 or 3 more minutes.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Tripura Mutton Curry

Tripura is one of the seven sister states of the North East. Located close to the border, the food of Tripura has a strong influence of Bangladeshi cuisine. The tribal cuisine shares similarity to those of the others in the North east- simple non veg stews with fresh local ingredients.
It is a tall task to find the ingredients for an authentic meal outside the state. Primarily, the fermented fish, Berma, which is a staple in most dishes.
However, my search for an authentic recipe from Tripura that I could recreate, I landed on a vlog. At first sight it seemed like every other Meat curry. But the play of ingredients created something that looked and smelled familiar but tasted unique! Spicy and delicious, I know this recipe is going to be  a weekend staple at my place now! 

Mutton                     1.2 kg
Onions                     3, sliced
Garlic                       2 whole pods, chopped
Ginger Paste             200 gm
Mustard Oil              300 ml
Bay Leaf                   1
Potatoes                     4
Coriander pd              3 teaspoon
Cumin pd                   3 teaspoon
Turmeric pd               3 teaspoon
Red chilli pd              2 teaspoon
Whole red chillies     8
Water                         500 ml
Paste 1: 2 onions + 10 green chillies
Paste 2: 4 green cardamoms + 4 inch cinnamon stick

Heat the oil in a wok. Fry the potatoes with some salt and turmeric, till crisp and golden. Drain and keep aside. Fry the sliced onion till crisp. Add the mutton, bay leaf, turmeric powder and salt to taste. Saute for five minutes. Add the ginger paste, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Mix well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Mix in Paste 1. After two minutes, add the chopped garlic. Stirring at regular intervals. cook till the water dries up. Adjust the seasoning. Heat the water in a pressure cooker. Add the meat, potatoes and whole red chillies. Mix well and pressure cook for 4 whistles. Release the steam and add Paste 2. Pressure cook for another 2 whistles and leave to cool. Serve with some steamed rice for the perfect Sunday Meal!