Neem Begun

Neem Begun / Neem Eggplant

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I am sharing this one which I cook in guilt only. Reason being, it is a bitter veggie and most would not understand as to why this should be made at all. But bitter can be tasty as well, right ! Think of so many things which make bitter an edible flavor. The story of this vegetable lies in the state of Bengal where I believe every 4th vegetable is an eggplant 🙂 .  Soft, new, near fluorescent leaves of the neem tree are used for this since they are yet edible.

The neem is a must found plant in any home in India that has a garden. It falls under the category of Tulsi, Curry patta etc. in terms of existence, character and virtue. Eggplant or the Brinjal is such a delicious veggie too. I grow at least 4 different types in my garden and enjoy them throughout the year. Remember this snack that is really popular in my house, the Eggplant Chops !

I am guilty of cooking this one since my kid obviously would never eat it 🙂 , but this is a loaded with nutrition dish. Try out, but only with your mature taste buds !!

…need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 tablespoon per person would be a good serving
  • Preparation time : 20 minutes max.

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Eggplants / Brinjal / Begun chopped, for this dish I prefer long ones with thin tall slices, 3 brinjals : I  Eggplant or aubergine or brinjal or “begun” as the bengalis would refer to it (this being a bengali dish) is extremely rich in fiber, Vitamin C, potassium and help in liver health, blood cholesterol, heart health and many others. As already stated, I love growing this hardy plant all across the sunny portion of my garden though the white flies trouble me a lot. It is mildly bitter in taste which fades after cooking and the texture is interestingly spongy !
  • Mint sprigs, 1/4th cup or 3 tablespoons when chopped : Mint is chopped well from our garden since they are extremely easy to grow. They are slightly bitter and sour with an umami essence. It is great for digestion and is a great anti oxidant.
  • Neem leaves, broken, fresh 1 tablespoon: The virtues of neem are not a few but a list. It is wonderful for skin, hair, blood, ulcers, stomach, teeth and gums and getting rid of intestinal worms. Though neem is one of the most bitter edibles in the garden yet the new leaves that we harvest here are a bit better with extremely mild sweetness embellished in the otherwise first layer of bitterness. Not for kids though !
  • Red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon : Red chili powder has a sharper, earthier essence then the fresh green ones. It is a good source of Vitamin C, A and E hence beneficial for skin and hair.
  • Turmeric powder, 1/3rd teaspoon : Turmeric gives a great orange color and a mild bitter taste to the pickle here. It is a wonderful antioxidant and anti inflammatory. I grow them in tubs in my backyard. They test your patience coming up, but they are amazingly pretty as a plant.
  • Salt, to taste, use simple table salt here : Bitter Regular table salt works best here. So regular treated and mineral controlled it is.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Wash the brinjals well and slice them along the length, as in the picture.
  • Mix the turmeric powder, the red chili powder, the salt and 1 teaspoon mustard oil.
  • Coat the eggplant slices with this mix paste.
  • Now heat a teaspoon of mustard oil in the pan.
  • When it starts evaporating, add the chopped neem leaves and the chopped mint leaves and stir for 30 seconds on medium flame.
  • To this add the sliced and spiced brinjal and stir well so as to mix with the sauteed leaves.
  • Add 4-5 tablespoons of water and cook while stirring for  5 to 8 minutes till your required stage of cooking is reached.
  • Now take off the flame and serve hot garnished with some more chopped mint leaves. There you are !!

Storage : You’ll either love it enough to gobble it immediately or you wont appreciate the bitterness and wouldn’t want to store anyways 🙂 .

Missing Something ? : Some mild ground mustard paste can be used in the marinate.

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Fish Rechiado / Roopchand

Fish Rechiado

Thanx a lot for the amazing response we have to this wonderful new initiative from my loved one. Do check this out too and follow, there will surely be great posts rolling here ..  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmtCkBgnsCo  https://www.facebook.com/gunnmaymarwaha

Rupchand or Roopchand is a medium to big size fish which occupies your platter well. I always need courage to cook it, not because it is not tasty (which it certainly is plentifully), rather due to its hefty size. I like to cook fish whole, especially good looking ones and this is a pretty fish indeed. However, cooking whole means no leftovers. And that makes for a really big treat 😀  !  So here’s the one which I absolutely love when there’s a good couple of hours of eating strength left in me.

And the recipe, well, Rechiado is an amazing concoction which I first came across during a binge with friends in Goa. I was absolutely led by it’s umami essence and a fragrance that would fill a shackk or a room for hours.

So, here’s my treat !! Read on ….

 

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : This is a 4 guest fish for sure.
  • Preparation time : 30 minutes
  • Serving size : Half platefuls would be a great treat.

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Roopchand fish, 1 full, cleaned and slit, 1400 grams approx. : Roopchand is sometimes called the Indian piranha, quite unfairly though. It is white and sweet and has chunky meat portions and bones that are easily separable. It is good in omega acid and proteins as well. It looks so pink and pretty and hence the nomenclature. Some also call it the fake pomfret or the chinese pomfret. 
  • Vinegar, 2 tablespoon : Vinegar preserves the flavors in my dishes very well, so I don’t mind frequenting it. Prime reason for it’s preservative qualities are the amounts of acetic acid and anti bacterial present in it. And yes of course, the sour essence is brought out very well with vinegar. It is an amazing preservative.
  • Curry Leaves, 1 tablespoon : There isn’t a household in India which does not have a curry leaves plant. They have high amount of calcium, carbohydrates, fibre, iron, phosphorus, Vitamin E, B, C and A hence helping heart, hair, skin and fighting infections. Here I add them for their extreme spicy aroma. One old friend from Bangalore once told me, if the South Indians would have their way, they would even add curry patta in Chinese food 🙂 
  • Salt, 3/4th teaspoon : Use the sea salt for authenticity and it’s minerals.
  • Sugar, 1 teaspoon : Gets necessary sweetness to the dish adding fibre and aiding digestion too.
  • Lemon juice, 1 teaspoon or from 1 average sized lemon : Sour and acidic, with a good amount of citric acid, we add lemon here not just to enhance the sour essence but also to use it’s hydrating and digestive qualities.
  • Dried Red Chilies, 6 : Dried red chillies have a sharper, earthier essence then the fresh green ones. They are a good source of Vitamin C, A and E hence beneficial for skin and hair.
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/3rd teaspoon : Turmeric gives a great orange color and a mild bitter taste to the pickle here. It is a wonderful antioxidant and anti inflammatory. I grow them in tubs in my backyard. They test your patience coming up, but they are amazingly pretty as a plant.
  • Cumin seeds, 1/3rd teaspoon : Cumin has the classical earthy and nutty essence. Cumin is also extremely popular due to it’s aid to digestion, immune system, respiratory system and being a source of iron.
  • Garlic, 10 cloves : The King Pungent. Pungency is the reason why we use this allicin rich clove which combats sickness and common cold.
  • Black peppercorns, 8 : Good proportion of salt and pepper are great anti oxidants too.
  • Ginger, 1 inch : Unmistakably earthy, the ginger adds the heat quotient in the dish. The gingerol in ginger is a strong anti nausea and anti inflammatory agent.
  • Cloves, 4 to 5 : Cloves is extremely beneficial for it being anti cancer, anti diabetic, pain killing and breath cleansing properties. It has a distinct pungent, bitter essence.
  • Cinnamon, 1 inch : Again an amazing sweet taste and flavor enhancer, cinnamon is also an anti oxidant, anti inflammatory and sugar controlling ingredient which I often use in meats.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Pick a cleaned fish from the market, the guys will slit it for you too. It’s a medium to big fish with medium to thick bones. Cleaning at home will make a you clean a lot more than you expect.
  • Rub it with sea salt, turmeric powder and lemon juice and set aside for 30 minutes. Make sure that the salt mix gets deep in its  cuts.
  • While that’s been done, grind the red chilies, cumin seeds, garlic cloves, peppercorns, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, vinegar, sugar and salt into a coarse paste. Using a mortar and pestle would be better since that would be cold grinding and wouldn’t evaporate the essence. Grinding it this way will also require any additional water. Apply this paste well to the fish.
  • Preheat the microwave for 5 minutes and then place your fish on a grilling tray. Grill your fish for 20 minutes on medium heat (about 180 degrees), turning 3 to 4 times.
  • Served smoking. Again as I always say, keep checking your fish to keep it soft and edible. Too much cooking and you’ll give it a funeral 😦   🙂

Storage : Since it’s a big fish and cooked with vinegar, you may refrigerate for 2 days reheating once. Thereon, it’s texture will start getting leathery.

Missing Something ? : Dress them up with basil, I did so !!

Beet Stalks Pickle With Ginger Garlic

Beet Stalks Pickle With Ginger Garlic / Chukandar Ka Achaar

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This one is another of my indigenous garden to kitchen experiments that created the “MCMH Original Recipe” . Read on and try to believe it. You know that I am an avid gardner too. The effort that takes to create vegetables and flowers out of dry seeds is only next to parenting a child. So when it’s the time for fruitation, you would want your produce to be used to it’s maximum and respect every element edible or otherwise usable. This is exactly what made me use beet stalks in many ways. remember the beet stalk fries

Do try this one and I promise you’ll stand out unique when you discuss about it in a group. Enjoy !

…need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : Several happy lip smacking faces 🙂
  • Preparation time : 15 minutes max.

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Beet Stalks (stalks + leaves) chopped, 2 cups : Amazing earthly tasting veggie with high level of immunity boosting Vitamin C and with other benefits to bones, liver, kidneys etc. So what are the stalks that i use here. Pluck a beetroot plant off the ground. Most popularly used is the bulbous root, then there are the leaves which are a great alternative to spinach. Finally there are 1/4th to 1/2 inch thick stems which may vary from 4 to 7 inches in length which lie between the root and the leaves. I am using that here. I know we use to throw them away forever long back as we knew. But it is the healthiest and tastiest part of the plant as i have discovered. 
  • Garlic chopped, 1/2 cup : You will hardly find any of my recipes missing garlic. Pungency is the reason why we use this allicin rich clove which combats sickness and common cold.
  • Green Chilies, 3-4 large, slit & deseeded : Fresh green chilies from my garden add to the fresh heat and mild bitter component while adding benefits of eyes and skin.
  • Coarse Salt, 1 tablespoon : Use a rough pink salt, it is a good sodium and magnesium provider. Also aids in digestion and dissolution of food particles.
  • Peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon : Hot and mildly pungent, black pepper is good for digestion, skin, respiration and is a good antioxidant too. On tables across the world salt n pepper are partners in relation.
  • Yellow Mustard Seeds, 1 teaspoon : Mustard tastes from sweet to sour, bitter to steaming hot. But it’s great for digestion and respiration and strengthens bones and teeth. I use it here for the bitter sour essence.
  • Cloves, 4 to 5 : Cloves is extremely beneficial for it being anti cancer, anti diabetic, pain killing and breath cleansing properties. It has a distinct pungent, bitter essence.
  • Bay Leaf, 2 : Bay leaf is great for joints and skin and are packed with Vitamin A & C and many other minerals like iron, potassium and manganese. They are pungent and bitter in taste. I grow bay leaves in my garden so I can tell you that the fresh ones and dried ones are quite different. Use the dried ones only please. Bay leaves can grow into small trees giving lifetime supply 🙂
  • Star Anise, 1 : It has a strong licorice essence and helps in digestion.
  • Red Chili Powder, 1/2 teaspoon : Dried red chilies have a sharper, earthier essence then the fresh green ones. They are a good source of Vitamin C, A and E hence beneficial for skin and hair.
  • Vinegar, White, 1/2 cup : Vinegar preserves the flavors in my dishes very well, so I don’t mind frequenting it. Prime reason for it’s preservative qualities are the amounts of acetic acid and anti bacterial present in it. And yes of course, the sour essence is brought out very well with vinegar. It is an amazing preservative.
  • Heeng, Asafoetida, 1 pinch : Heeng controls blood flow and sugar level and further adds pungency.
  • Jaggery, 100 grams : Jaggery is an amazing anti oxidant and helps the body fight against infections. It is like a buttery liquid sugar and is good to mix in food in powder or liquid forms.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • In a hard bottomed pan or a skillet, heat the Jaggery Vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon Salt and cook for 3 minutes on medium till it gets dissolved into a solution. You may take a couple of more minutes if required. Now set this aside for cooling.
  • Now in another pan, heat some oil (2 tablespoon of any vegetable oil would do).
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and mustard to it on medium. Stir till it sputters.
  • Add veggies to it one by one starting with chilies and cook for 2 progressive minute each.
  • Add all the dry and whole spices now and cook till the spices are well immersed.
  • Now set down and bottle once cold.
  • In this bottle, now pour the vinegar solution made earlier.
  • Secure the bottle cap well and shake hard to mix everything inside well.
  • Place this bottle in sun for 10 days to sun bake well, while remembering to shake it before every sunbath 🙂
  • You have your most unique pickle ready !

Storage : You can enjoy this for around 12 months for sure, if you do not gobble it all before so.

Missing Something ? : You may add some whole curry leaves to the pickle to give an amazing South Indian recall.

Machhi Jaisamandi

Machli Jaisamandi / Fish Jaisamadi (Udaipur Style)

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Many know that my favorite escape destination in Udaipur. The palatial and amazing lake city. Amazing great big lakes, palaces and palaces within lakes as islands, it is a bliss to be there for a break. With wonderful people with a superb sense of hosting backed with undeniably the most picturesque locations across all of Asia and maybe the best in the world, I have been drawn to Udaipur for it’s wonderful sense of cuisine too. While most of the state of Rajasthan being desert would never think of it, but Udaipur certainly incorporates some wonderful fish in it’s cuisine. Machi Jaisamandi is on dish which I had with my son while we were having dinner at a lake touching window in the fabled Jagmandir, another fabled wonderful palace complex which stands as a complete island in the lake Pichola. This is just one of the many others like Fateh Sagar, Udai Sagar, Doodh Talai and my favorite, the raw and massive Lake Jaisamand, which s the second largest artificial lake of Asia. This recipe is said to have originated from the many islands that still hosts tribals called Bhils who served it to Raja Jai Singh somewhere back in history. Wow ! that’s quite a serving of the place, right. As I said, I love the place. So lets get on with this fabled delicacy ! Machi Jaisamandi

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 for the party
  • Preparation time : 45 minutes
  • Serving size : 1 bowl each

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Fish pieces, any carp would do, 250 grams : Carps are generally soft white meat fishes which are easily found in water bodies. They have average to less bones. However, they are not very nutritious but blend very well with the spices used in the dish.
  • Yogurt, 1 cup : Digestion, skin, hair, everything benefits from curd. In sizzling summers, it keeps the internals in control. Curd is our basic curry component here.
  • Mint Leaves, 1/2 cup : Mint is chopped well from our garden since they are extremely easy to grow. They are slightly bitter and sour with an umami essence. It is great for digestion and is a great anti oxidant.
  • Turmeric 1 teaspoon, to be used in 2 halves : Turmeric gives a great orange color and a mild bitter taste to the pickle here. It is a wonderful antioxidant and anti inflammatory. I grow them in tubs in my backyard. They test your patience coming up, but they are amazingly pretty as a plant.
  • Green Chili, 1 : Fresh green chilies from my garden add to the fresh heat and mild bitter component while adding benefits of eyes and skin.
  • Red Chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon : Ground red chilies are a must in Rajasthani cuisine as I have found out lately. It is quite typical of the desert. Unlike the freshness of the green chilies, red chilies provide heat in a very earthy essence. 
  • Gram flour or Besan, 3 tablespoon : It is ground out of roasted or raw chick peas and is a very popular marinade. Besan is great for skin, control of cholesterol and diabetes and improvement of heart health.
  • Lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon : Sour and acidic, with a good amount of citric acid, we add lemon here not just to enhance the sour essence but also to use it’s hydrating and digestive qualities.
  • Cumin 3/4th teaspoon, to be used in 2 halves : Cumin has an amazing earthy, musk flavor essence. It is said to be the second most popular spice on the planet. It improves digestion, sugar control, weight loss etc. Roasting it makes it easy to mix in the salads and curries. A non roasted seed would need irritable grinding by teeth while eating.
  • Salt : A regular low sodium table salt would work well here.
  • Oil, seed oil : A light sunflower seed or any other seed oil would do well.
  • Coriander leaves, to garnish : Coriander provides the garnish to the dish and takes off any unwanted smell. Coriander is also a great digestive and also aids in the digestive and blood system of our body. The sweet coriander is one of the most popular garnish across fat cooked dishes. I pluck the whole plant from my garden since roots give the best flavor in the coriander plant.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Wash the fish pieces well and rub it with salt and keep aside.
  • In a bowl, mix some gram flour, half turmeric powder, half ground cumin and a little water to make a paste.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt, half turmeric and red chili powder and whip to mix well.
  • Now make a fine paste of mint, green chili, lemon juice and salt to your taste. So that’s 4 separate bowls you have now, just to recollect :).
  • Marinate the fish in the green paste and keep aside for 30 minutes so it seeps in well.
  • Now coat this fish with the marinate well into it with the batter earlier prepare with gram flour. 3 bowls used till now.
  • Shallow fry this batter coated fish for around 4 to 5 minutes till the color of the batter turns woody.
  • Now, in a skillet, heat oil. Add the remaining cumin on medium heat and make it crackle.
  • To this add the yogurt mix, i.e. the final bowl and let it cook on medium for 5 minutes.
  • Add fish to it and cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Take off, serve with chopped coriander garnish and enjoy.

Storage : No way, it won’t last long on your platter, I promise 🙂

Missing Something ? : Not much, I just followed the authentic steps, so I suggest for you to do the same too.

Ajwain Ke Pakode / Carrom Leaves Fritters

Ajwain Ke Pakode / Carom Leaves Fritters

Before we start with this one, let me introduce you all to this wonderful new initiative from my loved one. Do check this out too and follow, there will surely be great posts rolling here ..   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmtCkBgnsCo   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn7n9nuI85fuaZZiblobDOA?   https://www.facebook.com/gunnmaymarwaha/

Now this one is certainly my most talked about serving among my guests. I’ve had repeated demands to serve these and also for sharing some offshoots of carom plants which I have so gladly fulfilled. These pakoras are so unique, for 1, you can’t get them in the market, next, you won’t know how they are made and most of all, something like this even exists till they turn up at your serving.

So read on, enjoy, am sure you’ll be tempted with this !

…need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 1 plateful only good for 2, seriously 🙂
  • Preparation time : 10 minutes max.

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Carom leaves, freshly taken, about 20 in numbers : Carom seeds are a common spice in Indian kitchens. Here we use the carom plant’s leaves for this chutney. Easy to grow and has a tremendous oregano like flavor. Carom is an excellent digestive, pain reliever, antiseptic and cure of common cold. Practically every part of the carom plant is edible. I even use the soft stems for making Ajwain ki Chutney which is my ever popular condiment.
  • Salt, normal table salt, 1/2 teaspoon : You may use normal table salt here, reason being, that we are looking the flavor of carom leaves to pout and nothing else to interfere.
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/3rd teaspoon : Turmeric gives a great orange color and a mild bitter taste to the pickle here. It is a wonderful antioxidant and anti inflammatory.
  • Gram flour/ Besan, 1/2 cup : This is a very popular marinade. Ground from raw or roasted chick peas, besan has a very nutty and rustic flavor besides being good for heart, controlling diabetes and lowering cholesterol.
  • Oil, vegetable or seed oil, for deep frying : Try to use a light vegetable oil.
  • Butter, melted, 1 tablespoon : The cheesy butter absorbs the basil’s herb flavor very well. Regular table butter is a good source of fats soluble vitamins and saturated fats. They are better in taste and health than margarine. 

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Pluck the carom leaves off it’s stems. You will note that the stems are soft and crunchy enough to fry them. You may as well do so or may use them in the Ajwain leaves Chutney which I often do.
  • Wash all well in a strainer and then keep aside to dry  well.
  • Take the gram flour and mix well with salt, turmeric and melted butter.
  • Now add water to it gradually while flicking the batter so as not to form dry puffs within.
  • When your paste is made, dip your carom leaves in it.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet and bring to vapors.
  • Now take the batter covered carom leaves and deep fry them within the skillet. Do not over-brown and do not allow them to stick together. There is a trick to doing this properly. Always take 3 to 4 batter coated leaves and make a soft sandwich of sorts before frying them. This will enhance the original flavor of carom and it will not tend to get lost in deep frying.
  • Now pull them out and wipe them off extra oil with a tissues and place them on a plate to serve hot. You will note, the butter in the batter will make the pakoras puff out very beautifully and the original heart shaped leaves will make an almost compulsive pick among all your snacks 🙂

Storage : You can refrigerate for a couple of days easy. May also fill in your kids tiffins.

Missing Something ? : You may add some ground Kashmiri chilies also known as degi mirch to spice up the flavor and brighten in color, I didn’t use it since I have younger guests on board 😀

Mutton Stock in Celary Garlic

Mutton Stock in Celery and Garlic

Monsoons are confusing for the kids. Parents want them to be cozy and covered while they are all sweaty and sultry. They need more showers in the day of humidity while the parents want them to be quick and covered so as to avoid them from catching cold.

This soup really helps in the monsoons. Super tasty and energy giving, it maintains the body temperature and avoids the unwanted shivers in the rainy weather. Takes not much of an effort but we have here a winning concoction. Try it and have a sumptuous and confident evening 🙂

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 for the party
  • Preparation time : 20 minutes
  • Serving size : 1 bowl each

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Celery stalks, 4, chopped : I grow celery for around 5 months in a year and they grow well in tubs, bags and small planters. They have one of the healthiest foliage & excellent antioxidant. It gives good bitter pungency to the stock.
  • Garlic cloves, 3 – 4 : The King Pungent. Pungency is the reason why we use this allicin rich clove which combats sickness and common cold.
  • Vegetable oil, 3 teaspoon : Sunflower seed or groundnut oil would be good. We are looking for an average greasing here.
  • Mutton Stock, 4 cups : Healthiest broth is prepared with mutton. It builds bones and is abundant in calcium.
  • Soya Sauce, 2 tablespoon :  It is the most popular umami fixture I guess.
  • Lemon grass, chopped, 1 teaspoon : I learnt that lemongrass is a mild astringent and helps controlling fever, cough, digestion, blood pressure etc. besides adding a wonderful citrus zest to the dish. Now I have sufficient lemongrass in my garden throughout the year.
  • Black pepper, 2 pinches : Good proportion of salt and pepper are great anti oxidants too.
  • Table salt, 1/2 teaspoon : Regular table salt would o good
  • Coriander, chopped, for garnish : This comes straight from my garden. Gives a orangy zest, coriander is again a blood regulator.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Preparing the mutton stock is a pre-recipe exercise here. A simple mutton stock that I make is by pressure cooking 3 pieces of mutton with a teaspoon of garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon salt. We can also add a bay leaf , 1 small black cardamom and 1/2 inch of cinnamon to enhance.
  • Now heat oil in a pan. When it steams, add the chopped celery and chopped garlic and stir saute’ for 3 minutes on low medium flame.
  • Add half the stock in it and cook for 5 minutes..
  • To this add the soya sauce, lemongrass, salt and pepper and stir cook for 2 minutes to mix well.
  • Now add the remaining stock and boil cook for 10 minutes on low medium flame.
  • This should reduce the stock to about 1 & 1/2 to 2 cups.
  • Serve in hot bowls garnishing with roughly chopped coriander. Enjoy 🙂

Storage : You can refrigerate for a week, no sweat in the monsoons with that 🙂

Missing Something ? : You may add 1/2 teaspoon of paprika to increase your heat quotient but do not add any spice which overwhelms your basic flavors of celery and garlic !!

Snapper Grilled in Basil and Lemon Zest

Snapper Grilled in Basil and Lemon Zest

Being a seafood lover, it’s always a pleasure experimenting with mild spices and churning out indigenous recipes. When they are appreciated across the table, it is truly an inventor’s pleasure. So it was a Eureka Eureka moment for me when I picked up anything that I could lay my hands upon this weekend morning and converted two leathery snapper fishes (they were red, I recall) and grilled some fruits alongwith to have a delightful feast. If there’s your favorite sport on TV, enjoy the loud cheering since this feast will cheer you up sufficiently enough 🙂

Remember, snappers are have leathery skin and hardy bones. While the bones are easy to get rid off, the texture needs a good soaking followed by a diligent cooking.

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 for the party today 😀
  • Preparation time : 30 minutes
  • Serving size : 1 fish each and no less would satisfy

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Red Snappers, 2, small to medium size, cleaned well :Red snapper is a very good looking elegant fish. It looks amazingly good lying whole on a platter. It is extremely tasty too but due to high levels of mercury in it, I do not offer them to the kids. Once a month, sinning make no difference 🙂 . 
  • Fruits, cut and peeled : Lovely yummy sides !
  • Basil, handful broken : In this I used lime basil leaves which I pluck-wash at my garden. Basil is the “King of Herbs” for many reasons. It is a strong anti oxidant. It fights virus, bacteria and other microbes in the body. Besides the regular peppery flavor, the lime basil has sweet and citrus essence too. Since I wanted to enhance the tanginess, I used this basil.
  • Vinegar, 1 tablespoon : Vinegar preserves the flavors in my dishes very well, so I don’t mind frequenting it. Prime reason for it’s preservative qualities are the amounts of acetic acid and anti bacterial present in it. And yes of course, the sour essence is brought out very well with vinegar. It is an amazing preservative.
  • Lemon juice, 2 tablespoon : Sour and acidic, with a good amount of citric acid, we add lemon here not just to enhance the sour essence but also to use it’s hydrating and digestive qualities.
  • Black Pepper, 1/4th teaspoon : Hot and mildly pungent, black pepper is good for digestion, skin, respiration and is a good antioxidant too. On tables across the world salt n pepper are partners in relation.
  • Garlic cloves, chopped, 4 : The king pungent as I call it, garlic provides the base flavor of this dish. Garlic is highly nutritious. It combats sickness, heals sore throat and regulates blood pressure as well.
  • Paprika, 1/2 teaspoon : Light and bitter with good amount of vitamin e and a strong antioxidant.
  • Coriander, 2 teaspoon, chopped : Again, this comes straight from my garden. Gives a orangy zest, coriander is again a blood regulator.
  • Parsley, 1 teaspoon, chopped : I grow moss green, long leafed, Italian varieties of parsley till late April. It is mildly bitter but an amazing garnish. It cures bad breath, diabetes and boosts our immunity. One can much the sweeter varieties fresh & raw from a harvest.
  • Oil to cook : Use something with a low heating point. A good one would be coconut oil due to it’s odorless, tasteless quality.
  • Salt to taste : As always, I would suggest coarse sea salt with seafood to enhance the authenticity.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Wash the fish well and make deep slits in a criss cross pattern on each side. This is very important for the proper and flavorful cooking of the leathery fish.
  • Using a mortar and pestle grind together black pepper, paprika, coriander, garlic, basil, lemon juice, vinegar and salt.
  • Apply this coarse paste all over the fish using your fingers to insert the marinate well inside the fish. Now cover it and set it inside a refrigerator for two hours.
  • Meanwhile, with just 20 minutes from the completion of 2 hours of marinade, you may grill your peeled fruits and yummy sides. The best fruits would be bananas, papaya and apples. Sprinkle them with sea salt. Grilling of fruits would take not more than 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Now set your fish in the grill and set the timer for 15 minutes. Turn the fish a few times during it’s grilling process. You may increase your time if the fish is not flaky enough but do not give your fish a funeral 😀
  • Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve hot with grilled fruits as sides. Party on !

Storage : This fish has an already firm texture. Refrigerating may not be the smartest thing. Cook as much as you want to eat.

Missing Something ? : This was my adventure. You can do all your fun at the kitchen table too !!

Mahi Mahi in Basil Butter

Mahi Mahi in Basil Butter

It’s been a while since I have been online. Missed all the action dearly but was thinking of all friends honestly 🙂 !

Didn’t quit cooking though 😀 . Delicacies were dished out every time I managed. This one is the amazing mahi mahi which is a native of Hawaiian pacific. Absolutely cherish this whenever I can. Since the fish is delicate, we use less number of strong spices here and blend in the perfect texture and flavor. Super easy to make, go ahead, read on and enjoy !!

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 appreciative connoisseur
  • Preparation time : 20 minutes
  • Serving size : Couple of forkfulls should excite the soul 🙂

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Mahi Mahi Fillet, 1 : This fish has a nice mild pinkish sweet and firm meat. I always go for fillets in Mahi Mahi since the fish has such a thick skin. The thick skin actually helps it endure the harsh west pacific waters. Mahi Mahi is also a source of all amino acids that our body needs.
  • Table Butter, 2 tablespoons : The cheesy butter absorbs the basil’s herb flavor very well. Regular table butter is a good source of fats soluble vitamins and saturated fats. They are better in taste and health than margarine. 
  • Salt, coarse sea salt : Best and most authentic for this dish.
  • Ginger Garlic paste (coarse), 1 tablespoon : An amazing herb mix to cure all sickness, pains etc. and providing the pungency and earthiness to the dish.
  •  Basil broke, 1 bowl fresh : Anti aging, anti cancer, anti bacterial herb is a great garnish due to it’s sweet and mixed spice aroma. Here a harvested a handful of sweet basil from my garden. As always, break their leaves and avoid chopping them. This retains their essence best.
  • Parsley, 1 tablespoon : Parsley grows great in my tubs. They fight diseases, cancer, inflammation and most of all bad breath 😉 since they are a great breath freshener.
  • Some sauteed veggies, 1 tablespoon : I used some chopped carrots and a couple of beans resting in my fridge for long.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Wash and slit the fillet softly. Mahi Mahi is a soft and sweet fish. Let’s keep it that way.
  • Using a  mortar & pestle crush the ginger garlic with a pinch of salt to make a coarse ginger garlic paste. It will be fresher and stronger then the pre made one.
  • In the same mortar and pestle, mildly crush the basil leaves. Too much force here will lead to loss in flavor, use light hands here.
  • Now heat a pan on medium heat. Melt the butter on it.
  • When the butter melts add required amount of salt and add basil now. Cook on medium heat for 3 minutes. Soon the basil will discolor and the flavor will transfer in the butter.
  • To this, add the ginger garlic paste and mix well. Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes more. Do not get tempted to add water.
  • Now place the fish fillet in the pan. Cook well on medium heat for 10 minutes turning twice. By now the butter would have thickened considerably.
  • Serve your delicacy hot after garnishing with chopped parsley and some steaming veggies for the works.

Storage : No way jose’ !

Missing Something ? : Keep It Simple Sir 🙂

 

Mutton Curry Sunshine AC

Mutton Curry Sunshine

Mutton curry in Indian meals call for long and heavy lunches or dinners and an additional delight if on weekends. There are so many variations of mutton curry and each require a good amount of spice mixes. I must confess, despite my best tries, I have not been able make mutton with less than 5 spices despite my best research. The eat is just so hard and red that the flavors required need to match up strongly enough. Needless to say, it’s not just time-consuming, it’s amazingly rewarding too. 

Legacy of mutton curry hence is a nostalgic Sunday morning with hours of preparation for the lunch feast and sumptuous left overs for dinner. A wholesome family feast for sure. This I named sunshine not just because it came out so bright 🙂  but also because it reminds me of afternoon luncheons of my childhood. After seafood, my palate surrenders to mutton unquestionably. Read on and enjoy cooking the same for a great family treat for yourself too !!

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 4 famished gobbling souls 😀
  • Preparation time : 90 minutes
  • Serving size : Bowls full for each

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Mutton, cut pieces, 500 grams : Healthiest curry is prepared with mutton. It builds bones and is abundant in calcium.
  • Onions chopped, 1 + 2 : Strong, acidic and bitter. That’s what a good red onion is supposed to be. They are also good sources of Vitamin C and Iron and are good for hair, skin and help in weight-loss.
  • Coriander (chopped or powder), 2 tablespoon : Coriander provides the garnish to the dish and takes off any unwanted smell. Coriander is also a great digestive and also aids in the digestive and blood system of our body. The sweet coriander is one of the most popular garnish across fat cooked dishes. I pluck the whole plant from my garden since roots give the best flavor in the coriander plant.
  • Fennel seeds, 1 & 1/2 teaspoon : Fennel is amazingly sweet perfumed and tastes so much like licorice that it is a widely used breath freshener in India. Fennel has amazing benefits like maintaining bone & skin health and aiding digestion.
  • Ginger, 1 inch piece : Unmistakably earthy, the ginger adds the heat quotient in the dish. The gingerol in ginger is a strong anti nausea and anti inflammatory agent
  • Garlic, 6 cloves : Pungency is the reason why we use this allicin rich clove which combats sickness and common cold.
  • Green chilies, 3 to 4 : Great for eyes and skin, green chilies are the healthiest ones to bring in the bitter zing in any dish. I used them here, freshly plucked from my garden to bring in their essence. I deseeded them well to ensure it being kids friendly.
  • Cinnamon, 1 inch stick : Again an amazing sweet taste and flavor enhancer, cinnamon is also an anti oxidant, anti inflammatory and sugar controlling ingredient which I often use in meats.
  • Heeng (asafoetida), 1 pinch : Heeng has a pungent garlicky fragrance and gets breathing and blood sugar in control. 
  • Ghee (saturated fats), 3 tablespoon : Unlike popular belief, ghee actually helps in weight loss. It is also a great soluble of most vegetables and strengthens bones doing so. We use ghee here for cooking for its great buttery essence.
  • Garam Masala, 1 teaspoon : The ever popular Indian concoction of spices helps in weight loss, pain fight, immunity boost etc. True to its name, it’s hot and powerful. Imagine being the blend of around 10 powerful spice essence.
  • Bay leaves, 2 : Bay leaf is great for joints and skin and are packed with Vitamin A & C and many other minerals like iron, potassium and manganese. They are pungent and bitter in taste. I grow bay leaves in my garden so I can tell you that the fresh ones and dried ones are quite different. Use the dried ones only please. Bay leaves can grow into small trees giving lifetime supply 🙂
  • Turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon : Turmeric gives a great orange color and a mild bitter taste to the pickle here. It is a wonderful antioxidant and anti inflammatory. I grow them in tubs in my backyard. They test your patience coming up, but they are amazingly pretty as a plant.
  • Yogurt (or hung curd) : 2 tablespoon : Digestion, skin, hair, everything benefits from curd. In sizzling summers, it keeps the internals in control. Curd is our basic curry component here.
  • Salt, to taste : You can try Himalayan pink salt. It is full of minerals and amazingly earthy.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Using a  mortar & pestle (using traditional helps enhance the nostalgic highlights of the chapter 🙂 ) grind a coarse paste of 1 onion, coriander, fennel (you may dry roast this for 2 minutes to make fennel grinding easier), ginger garlic, green chilies (chop fine prior to it) and cinnamon .
  • Mix this coarse paste with curd and whip well.
  • Now puncture the meat pieces well using a fork. This would allow for the spices to penetrate well and the meat to cook better.
  • Apply the marinate paste to the meat (rather dip it well) and keep covered in the refrigerator for 30 minutes at least).
  • Take a pressure cooker meanwhile and put it on medium flame. As it heats, add the ghee to it and allow it to melt well.
  • Add a pinch of heeng and mix well.
  • Add the remaining chopped onion to the pressure cooker and saute’ well till they turn golden brown in color. Should take around 3 to 4 minutes.
  • While this happens, add the mutton pieces to this. Keep stirring to mix well and cook for 7 minutes.
  • To this add garam masala and cook further for 5 minutes. With time you will start smelling the fragrance of you dish floating throughout the house 🙂
  • Now put 6 cups of water in the cooker and mix well with the cooking meat.
  • Sprinkle the coriander in it and shut the lid of the cooker. Turn the gas knob to full heat and allow cooking for 10 minutes.
  • Now lower the flame to low and cook further for 40 minutes.
  • Switch the gas flame off now and allow the pressure in the cooker to work magic on your dish further.
  • By now, your house would have invited greedy hearts from the neighborhood as well 🙂
  • Open the cooker and check the texture of the mutton. The meat should be easily separating from the bones. That’s when you know that it is well done !

Storage : This can store for a week in your fridge. This would allow you to relish a long and time-consuming recipe to be enjoyed many times.

Missing Something ? : You may crush some black cardamom and cloves to enhance the flavor a bit more. If you are a bit creative then try to add galangal instead of ginger, just remember to grind it well since it’s harder and more fibrous than ginger.

Gajar Shalgam Gobhi Ka Achaar

Gajar Shalgam Gobhi Ka Achaar / Carrots Turnips and Cauliflower Pickle

I have always taken pride in my pickles. My belief is that anything that is edible is also ‘pickle-able’ ! I’ve had the pleasure to pickle most of the things that can be accommodated in the refrigerators. Vegetables, meats everything ! The bases of most pickles would be oils, brine and vinegar but there are some vegetables that can be pickled standalone, merely by salting, take for example lemon. This pickle here is what many households would call as grandma’s favorite. I have been a big fan of this since my childhood. Large ceramic jars filled with Gajar Shalgam Gobhi pickle have more or less of a permanent fixture at my place. It is a kid’s favorite too since it carries an amazing yummy sweet sour flavor and doesn’t pinch the throat a bit. In fact, preparing this pickle is more of a family day in the kitchen due to it’s heavy engagement and preparation time. Read on and enjoy for months to come if you decide to prepare this one !!

…need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 1 jar to last 6 months or as fast as your appetite can spare it 🙂
  • Preparation time : 60 minutes preparation + 45 minutes cooking
  • Serving size : I can eat 1/4th of a small bowl with a meal 🙂

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Cauliflower florets, 1 kg : I would introduce cauliflower as an undergraduate cousin of the post graduated broccoli. Cauliflower is a very nutritious vegetable which helps fight cancer, heart diseases, inflammation & excessive weight. 
  • Carrots, 1 kg : Carrots are high source of iron and anti oxidants and have sweet and earthy flavor.
  • Turnips, 1 kg : Turnips are amazingly sweet roots. In fact I use their leaves in my kitchen too. But if you allow them to grow larger, they become hard and bitter. A good size would be that of a cricket ball. Turnips are also one of the healthiest foods on earth. It has good amount of fiber, minerals like iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium , potassium omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, K, A C, E and B complex. That’s a big load of wonders 🙂
  • White Vinegar, 750 ml : Vinegar preserves the flavors in my dishes very well, so I don’t mind frequenting it. Prime reason for it’s preservative qualities are the amounts of acetic acid and anti bacterial present in it. And yes of course, the sour essence is brought out very well with vinegar. It is an amazing preservative.
  • Nigella, 1 teaspoon : It’s called kalonji in Indian kitchens and is packed with antibacterials, antioxidants, anti inflammatory. It has a slight bitter, onion like flavor.
  • Fenugreek seeds, 60 grams : Mildly sweet and nutty and very earthy, fenugreek controls cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and hunger control. In India we generally use the leaves as a veggie but lesser kitchens in India would not have the dried seeds as well.
  • Peppercorns, 60 grams : Pepper aids respiration and digestion. It is also an antibacterial, anti oxidant and improves skin texture. They have the obvious mild fiery flavor.
  • Cumin seeds, 60 grams : Cumin has the classical earthy and nutty essence. Cumin is also extremely popular due to it’s aid to digestion, immune system, respiratory system and being a source of iron.
  • Black Cardamom seeds, 12 grams : This is a bigger cousin of green cardamom. The pods have a fragrance which is more earthy and taste which is less sweet that the green variety. It is great in fighting cold and improves respiration hence aiding in asthma. It is good for hair, skin too. 
  • Mustard seeds, 120 grams :Mustard tastes from sweet to sour, bitter to steaming hot. But it’s great for digestion and respiration and strengthens bones and teeth. I use it here for the bitter sour essence.
  • Fennel seeds, 2 tablespoon : Fennel is amazingly sweet perfumed and tastes so much like licorice that it is a widely used breath freshener in India. Fennel has amazing benefits like maintaining bone & skin health and aiding digestion.
  • Red Chili powder, 2 tablespoon : Dried red chilies have a sharper, earthier essence then the fresh green ones. They are a good source of Vitamin C, A and E hence beneficial for skin and hair.
  • Cinnamon, 2 inch stick : Again an amazing sweet taste and flavor enhancer, cinnamon is also an anti oxidant, anti inflammatory and sugar controlling ingredient. I replace my sugar with cinnamon often.
  • Cloves, 18 : Cloves is extremely beneficial for it being anti cancer, anti diabetic, pain killing and breath cleansing properties. It has a distinct pungent, bitter essence.
  • Turmeric powder, 2 tablespoon : Turmeric gives a great orange color and a mild bitter taste to the pickle here. It is a wonderful antioxidant and anti inflammatory.
  • Salt, 300 grams : I used regular table salt here. It is treated in labs and hence helps as a good preservative to the pickle.
  • Jaggery, 1.5 kg : Jaggery is an amazing anti oxidant and helps the body fight against infections. It is like a buttery liquid sugar and is good to mix in food in powder or liquid forms.
  • Mustard oil, 800 grams : This extremely pungent oil is a great source of Omega 3 and Vitamin E hence great for your skin and hair. Besides in kitchen, mustard oil is the most popular oil across the globe for body and hair massages. 

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Wash and chop all the vegetables. The cauliflowers need to be chopped into 1 inch thick florets, the carrots into 1 & 1/2 inch sticks with 5 mm thickness and turnips into 1 inch cubes.
  • Blanch all these veggies and set under a fan to dry. Traditionally, we spread it over a muslin cloth or a newspaper either under the sun or under a fan and leave  to dry for a full sunny day.
  • While the vegetables are drying, there is sufficient work at hand. Read on
  • Grind and blend the ginger and garlic into a crude paste.
  • Now heat the oil in a skillet and saute the ginger garlic paste for 5 minutes on medium flame.
  • Meanwhile grind the dry spices (Nigella, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Peppercorns, Cumin, Cardamom, Mustard, Fennel, Cinnamon and Cloves). It wouldn’t be a bad idea to mildly roast the mixture before grinding. Crispier spice mix would grind easily. Grinding well is important else the spices might give an unpleasant chewing experience later.
  • Now add this spice mix in the skillet where the mustard oil and the ginger garlic awaits. Saute’ this for 5 minutes.
  • Add the red chili powder and salt and saute’ for 3 minutes further. Then set the skillet aside to cool.
  • While this cools, take another skillet and pour the vinegar into it. Heat and set the flame on medium. Gradually add pieces of jaggery (or the powder if you have chosen such) in this hot vinegar and stir constantly till the jaggery completely dissolves in the solution.
  • By now the veggies should have dried properly. So mix the veggies, the spiced oil and the jaggery vinegar solution well.
  • Bottle this up in large jars and close the lid tightly.
  • Show this pickle jar a lot of sunshine for a week to 10 days and be ready to see happy faces for months to come 😀

Storage : 12 months shelf life provided that you avoid moisture !

Missing Something ? : Did I actually miss any spice in your Indian kitchen, let me know and we can discuss whether you can add that too 😀 . You can add thin cuts of raw turmeric or ginger as additional ingredients.