Saturday, April 5, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Choco Chip Cookies

I spend half of the day in front of the computer either for work or sometime just to browse pointlessly through the web. There are zillion things I see every day on the net but rarely do I come across something which really touches my heart! This is one such video which I happened to see in Facebook and I thank my friend who shared it. This is just lovely! This reminded me once again that no matter how complex our modern lifestyle becomes, the basics of humanity still remains simple and easy. There is really no fuss about it. You are bound to agree with me once you see the video for yourself.


With this heart-touching video, I thought of sharing something sweet today and that is the oh-so-popular "Chocolate Chip Cookies"!

The history of my cookie-making is not-so-glorifying, so I better not go into the details. Only I can safely mention that this one was my very first perfect cookies after multiple disasters. I mean, I could never maintain the perfect time! It was either always more or always less. Finally I got it right this time except for that one giant cookie which had spread way more than my imagination! But that is forgivable I guess, as long as you can eat it happily!

Ingredients –
  • Unsalted butter – 226 gms (1 cup), at room temperature
  • Granulated white sugar – 150 gms (3/4th cup)
  • Light brown sugar – 160 gms (3/4th cup firmly packed)
  • Eggs – 2, large
  • Pure vanilla extract – 1 & ½ tsp
  • All-purpose flour/refined flour – 295 gms (2 & ¼ cup)
  • Baking soda – 1 tsp
  • Salt – ½ tsp
  • Chocolate chips – 270 gms (1 & ½ cup)

Choco Chip Cookies

Method –
  • Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F) with rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Take the butter in a bowl and beat it with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the white and brown sugars and beat until fluffy for about 2 minutes.
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Combine the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add them to the egg mixture and beat until incorporated using a wire whisk or spatula adding the chocolate chips about half way through mixing. If you find the dough very soft, cover and refrigerate until firm for 30 minutes to two hours.
  • Take a spoon of the dough and flatten them with palm. Place them on the prepared baking sheets. Try to make all the cookies of same sizes so that the baking time remains same for each; so it’s a good idea to use the same spoon for measuring the dough for each cookie.
  • Bake about 10 - 14 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.
  • Tip: The cookies may seem soft in the middle even when the sides have browned. Do take them out of the oven at this point as the cookies continue to cook while cooling down. If you bake beyond this point, they will either burn at the bottom or turn extremely hard eventually. I am telling this from my own experience!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Khaas Seekh... Indulge!

Khaas Seekh Kebab

It is quite painful for me to be away from my kitchen and sadly that’s what is happening with me these days! My professional engagement has taken over my creative world and I am only looking through nothing but dry numbers. I don’t have much complain with the work; I mean I can’t, right? I do that for my living, but I also want to do something for my mind to live well and happy. My mind works in this strange way which I have realized in the last couple of years – no matter how tired I am or how angry/irritated/frustrated or whatever I feel, as soon as I start interacting with my kitchen, a wave of pleasure evolves inside and I start feeling happy. The aroma of spices opens up my inner senses, unwinds my nerves. The commotions of utensils seems like music to my ears relaxing my stressed mind. This emotional alteration is quite difficult to explain in words; but if you are also passionate about something, chances are that you are smiling now on your own thinking of the similar emotional attachment that you have with your object of passion! “Passion” is such a complex thing that in many circumstances people would laugh at you for being obsessive. But don’t pay much attention there; you can’t help them, neither can they help you. So be it. Indulge in your passion and bring the best out of yourself. This will only make you the happiest at the end of the day!

Khaas Seekh Kebab

Today’s recipe is quite exotic and not a regular every-day dish. This is one of those occasional indulgences and an absolute delicacy. I learnt this from Sanjeev Kapoor’s book ‘Tandoori Cooking @Home’. This is quite a unique kabab I must say. The combination of chicken, cheese and paneer (cottage cheese) has resulted into an outstanding creation which you will savor long after you finish your meal. The only tricky part is the wrapping up of chicken layer over the cottage cheese but second or third trial onwards you can do it like a breeze.

Ingredients – (serves 4)
  • Chicken mince – 500 gms
  • Paneer/Cottage cheese – 1 cup, grated
  • Processed cheese – ½ cup, grated
  • Green cardamom powder – 1 & ½ tsp
  • Garam masala powder – 1 tbsp
  • Chopped fresh mint leaves – 1 tbsp
  • Khoya/mawa – ½ cup, grated
  • Egg – 1, beaten
  • White pepper powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for shallow frying
  • Chaat masala – 1 tsp
  • Satay stick – 8 to 10

Khaas Seekh Kebab

Method –
  • Soak the satay sticks in water for at least fifteen minutes so that they don’t burn while cooking.
  • In a bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, processed cheese, half the cardamom powder, half the garam masala powder and the fresh mint. Mash the cottage cheese well with your hands.
  • Take a portion of size of a 1 inch ball of this paneer mixture and mould on a satay stick into a thin sausage shape. Press the ends firmly.
  • In another bowl, mix together the khoya and the minced chicken. Add the egg, salt, the remaining cardamom and garam masala powders and the white pepper powder. Mix well. Make sure the mixture is sticky and not watery. Otherwise you won’t be able to shape the ‘Khaas Seekh’!
  • Now take a portion of this chicken mixture and flatten it out on your palm like a parantha/chapati. Place a paneer-wrapped satay stick in the middle and roll up the chicken layer all around so that the whole cottage cheese is wrapped with chicken.
  • Similarly prepare the rest of the seekh. Place the seekhs in a refrigerator for some time before frying so that the layers do not come off while cooking.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan/grill pan and shallow-fry the seekhs, turning to cook evenly on all sides.
  • Serve hot, sprinkled with the chaat masala and green chutney.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Summer Cooler Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad

Summer is setting-in in my part of the world and it’s not quite a favorite season of mine. During my childhood I was exactly opposite; I was badly afraid of winter and loved the hot summer. But something inside me changed radically as I grew up and now I am in love with chilly winter!

The best thing in summer is the assortment of all kinds of fruits available in the market. When you come to think of it, you will be amazed to realize how well-designed our ‘mother nature’ is! To beat the scorching heat of the summer, it offers us so many varieties of fruits to cool us naturally. The artificial aerated drinks can’t even stand in the competition! Take tender coconut water for example, which is such a great summer cooler for us.

But some people are not too friendly towards fruits like my better half! So to make it tempting before him, I had to come up with this mix-n-match of fruits with a dash of twist which enhances its taste exponentially, trust me! This magic ingredient is nothing but cinnamon powder! A pinch of sprinkling of cinnamon can transform a regular dish to a different level of taste which is not only true for this recipe but for other savory delicacies too!

Here is how I customized my salad.

Ingredients – (serves 4)
  • Ripe Mango – 2
  • Pineapple – half of a big one
  • Pitted/canned cherry – 1 cup
  • Lemon – 1, big, cut into 4 wedges
  • Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt – few pinches
  • Fresh coriander leaves - few sprigs

Fruit Salad

Method –
  • Peel and cut the mangoes into cubes.
  • Peel, core and cut the pineapple in cubes of sizes similar to that of mangoes.
  • Halve the cherries.
  • Equally distribute mango cubes, pineapple cubes and cherries into four serving bowls.
  • Sprinkle 1/4th teaspoon of cinnamon powder with a pinch of salt into each bowl.
  • Squeeze out the juice from each lemon wedge into each serving bowl.
  • Mix very lightly and serve chilled sprinkling one or two leaves of coriander on the top. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Methi Murgh... Chicken cooked with Fenugreek leaves

Methi Chicken

Life sometimes transforms into a roller-coaster and that too on a broken track! Moreover, to make it worse you don’t even have a seat belt! The last two weeks of my life was no different than such dangerous ride. Every morning I was waking up fearing what challenge I would have to face next! But even then I am still surviving! No, I won’t ask you to listen to all my woes and become my agony aunt; I would only humbly request you to wish me strength to survive through this tough phase of my life.

We are at a new apartment now where my kitchen is much smaller than the previous one. So I have to apply all the tips and tricks to make this tiny kitchen function to its fullest and continue creating my favorite dishes without any compromise.

At the same time while we are trying to settle down at the new place, we are planning our own dream house! Yes! Our own house! The thought itself is so pleasing that it makes all the difficulties hush away instantly. I have already started designing my dream kitchen and my better half is busy in planning his garden! Though there is still some time for this dream to materialize, there is no harm to virtually start living in our dream world!

The recipe which I thought of sharing today is ‘Methi (Fenugreek Leaves) Chicken’, a traditional Indian delicacy which you might have had at many occasions. I made it for the first time months ago and liked its complicated taste quite a bit. It is best accompanied with crispy butter naan but paranthas (flat-breads) will also be a good option.

Methi Chicken

Ingredients –
  • Whole chicken – 1, around 800 gms
  • Fresh fenugreek leaves – 2 cups firmly packed
  • Plain yogurt – 1 cup, whisked
  • Ginger – 4 inch
  • Onion – 2, large, chopped
  • Garlic cloves – 20, chopped
  • Green chilies – 3, seeded and chopped
  • Tomatoes – 2, medium, chopped
  • Green cardamom – 6 to 8
  • Black cardamom – 1
  • Cloves – 6 to 8
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Mace – 3 to 4 blades
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  • Red chili powder – ½ tsp
  • Dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri Methi) – 2 tbsp
  • Chopped fresh coriander leaves – ½ cup
  • Oil – 4 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
Methi Chicken

Method –
  • Cut the whole chicken into medium pieces. Get rid of any excess fat.
  • Mix together yogurt and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and coat well. Marinate for half an hour or more.
  • Chop half of the ginger and cut the rest into thin strips.
  • Heat the oil in a skillet; add the green and black cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and mace. Sauté for a minute.
  • Tip in the chopped onion and sauté till they are soft. Add the chopped ginger, garlic and green chilies. Cook till the onions turn brown.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté till they are melted.
  • In a small bowl, make a smooth paste of turmeric powder, coriander powder and red chili powder with one-fourth cup of water and add it to the skillet. Cook for a minute or two.
  • Now add the marinated chicken along with the marinade and fenugreek leaves. Stir to mix everything well.
  • Cover and cook over medium heat till the chicken is tender. Keep stirring in between to prevent it from sticking. Do not add extra water at this stage since the chicken will also leave a lot of water. Add water only if you see that the chicken is sticking to the bottom of the pan and tends to burn or if you feel the gravy is too dry. Make the consistency as you desire.
  • Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly, sprinkle the ginger strips, fried fenugreek leaves and chopped coriander leaves over the chicken. Cover and leave it to stand for about five minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy with butter naan or basmati rice.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chicken Popcorn... Super Quick & Super Easy

Chicken Popcorn

I don’t have any valid excuse for not sharing any recipe since such a long time. I can’t even convince myself. The pictures were ready; recipes were drafted; only because I couldn’t focus on writing the foreword, no post could be published. So finally I thought of quickly pen something down and share one of my favorite recipes with my readers with no story this time.

Chicken Popcorn

These super quick bites of chicken are extremely easy to make. No one can go wrong in making this crunchy & delicious chicken popcorn and impress your friends over the weekend. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients –
  • Chicken breast – 2, medium
  • Eggs – 2
  • Refined/all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
Chicken Popcorn

Method –
  • Cut the chicken breast into small popcorn size pieces. Season them with salt and pepper.
  • Beat the eggs in a bowl and add a pinch of salt into it. Spread the flour in a plate.
  • Heat oil in a deep frying pan and let it be smoking hot.
  • Now take one piece of chicken at a time, dip it into the beaten egg and then roll it on the flour and tip into the hot oil. Reduce the heat to medium.
  • Fry 4 to 5 pieces max at a time; otherwise it would be too crowded and the temperature of the oil will drop significantly making the popcorn soggy.
  • Do keep in mind that chicken breasts cook really fast and eggs make it even faster. So take them out as soon as the outer coating turns golden brown.
  • Put the popcorn on a kitchen towel to absorb excess oil. Serve hot with tomato ketchup.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Chili and Garlic Soya Meatballs

Soya Meatballs

This year started with a very busy schedule! Busy during our vacation and even after that. Now that we are back to our work-place and to our regular routine, suddenly there are many tasks all at the same time. The biggest one is to look out for a new place to stay as we need to vacate our current rented residence within a month! You can imagine how much work it would involve and that too after staying for close to 4 years in this apartment. But no worries… life goes on and a change may be good at this time. I would get another chance to arrange my kitchen afresh and it’s needless to say that I love to do this! With my passion for cooking, my love (and possessiveness too!) for my kitchen tools and utensils has also grown exponentially. I just can’t keep them carelessly; they have significant contributions to all my cooking creation. I simply adore them!

Soya Meatballs

Now to come to today’s recipe, I am sure you will adore this one too! This is a complete vegetarian delight, but being a devoted non-vegetarian myself, I loved it immensely. So I am sure this would please everyone’s platter. I have added many colors as I love to play with them; but at the same time they increase the nutrition quotient too. You can add any vegies of your choice to give it your personal signature – the soy balls will be as delicious as it is!

Ingredients –

Meatballs –
  • Soya granules – ½ cup
  • Water – 2 cups
  • Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Green chili – 1, chopped
  • Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
  • Breadcrumbs – 1 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper a pinch

For the sauce –
  • Red bell pepper – ½, cubed
  • Green bell pepper – ½, cubed
  • Yellow bell pepper – ½, cubed
  • Spring onion bulbs – 2, sliced
  • Garlic cloves – 1 tbsp, chopped
  • Green chilies – 2, slit lengthwise
  • Dark soy sauce – 2 tbsp
  • Tomato ketchup – 1 tbsp
  • Vinegar – 1 tsp
  • Chili sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Water – 1 tbsp
  • White sesame seed – 1 pinch, for garnishing
  • Black pepper – a pinch

Soya Meatballs

Method –
  • Boil the soya granules and water together for 5 minutes. Drain and refresh with cold water. Squeeze out any excess water and set aside.
  • Now mix all the meatball ingredients together and form a firm dough. Divide the dough into small balls.
  • Heat enough oil for deep frying in a deep skillet and tip in one soya ball carefully so that it doesn’t break. In case it breaks, add some more breadcrumbs to bind it. Fry another meatball to check. Once it fries easily without breaking, fry the rest of them and keep on an absorbent tissue to soak any excess oil.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add the sliced spring onion bulbs, bell pepper, garlic and chilies and sauté them on a high flame for couple of minutes.
  • Add the soy sauce, tomato ketchup, vinegar, chili sauce and water. Mix well and then add the fried meatballs.
  • Cook for a minute or two, adding a tablespoon of water if required. The sauce should be of a coating consistency.
  • Once the meatballs are heated through in the sauce, sprinkle some white sesame seeds and black pepper. Serve hot.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rasogollas... My Tribute to Kolkata

Rasgulla

The wonderful time spent in Kolkata definitely needs some tribute. And what’s better than a pot full of spongy white rasogollas – the ubiquitous sweet which personifies Bengal and Bengalis. While staying in Bengal I never even thought of making Rasogollas at home and I doubt if anyone in Bengal think that even today… this is so commonly available in any sweet shop around the corner. But being a Bangalorean for more than 3 years, my thought process has changed quite a bit. It’s not that Rasogollas are not available in Bangalore but when I thought of making them at home I somehow felt much closer to my hometown suddenly. Weird things do happen… isn't it?

Rasgulla

Anyways, let me come back to rasogolla-making. Yes, it is little time consuming and needs good amount of effort and patience. You may not turn out the best rasogollas at the first go, but if you love cooking and enjoy making everything from scratch like me then you won’t mind the effort. With practice and patience you will finally be rewarded with a bowl full of soft and spongy Bengali delicacies.

Ingredients –
  • Full cream milk – 1 liter
  • Lemon juice – 3 tbsp
  • Sugar – 2 cups
  • Water – 3 and ½ cups
  • Cardamom powder – a pinch
  • Almonds – for garnish, sliced

Rasgulla

Method –
  • Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed pan so that it doesn't stick while boiling. When it start to boil, simmer the flame, add the lemon juice and stir continuously.
  • Keep heating further until the greenish whey water clearly separates. Put off the flame.
  • Take a metal strainer lined with a cheese cloth and pour the curdled milk in it.
  • Wash it well in running water to remove the lemony smell and sourness or any seeds.
  • Then squeeze out the excess water gently and hang it for 30 minutes tying in the cheese cloth.
  • After half an hour, take out the crumbled paneer in a bowl and knead this for 7-10 minutes gently to make it a soft and smooth dough. This kneading is very important to get soft and spongy rasogollas. The dough must be smooth at the end of kneading.
  • Make smooth equal sized balls from the paneer dough. I made around 25 balls.
  • Now take the sugar, cardamom powder and water in a pressure cooker and boil it.
  • After the sugar dissolves completely and the syrup boils, add the paneer balls carefully one by one keeping the flame on high.
  • Cover the pressure cooker and cook it under pressure till you get one whistle in low flame.  After a whistle, simmer and keep for another 5 minutes.
  • Put off the flame and let the pressure release by itself. Then open the lid to see the rasogollas – by now it would have doubled in size.
  • Cool down and refrigerate. Serve chilled garnished with sliced almonds.