Pinwheel Tiffins (Apple, Beetroot, Carrot Pinwheels)

Pinwheel Tiffins (Apple, Beetroot, Carrot Pinwheels)

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I have always admired the wisdom of the traditional homemakers due to their practical ability to churn out the right dishes for the right moods and within the handful of ingredients in the kitchen. They are the real goto folks who spare not a thought before getting their hands moving and with a confident smile on their faces clearly projecting “I know whatsup and I’ll take good care”. 

This little snack has been a treat for many a parties, gatherings and tea sittings and has never failed to win an applause. These are so quick and simple to prepare that you can almost make them while having tea with your guests. It uses the intrinsic flavors of the core ingredients and allows them to blend with any herb that can be dry mixed with it. These look so much like the Tricolor Tiffins  which I made earlier. Read on and have a great tea time snack recipe or a kids tiffin recipe ready !!

 

…need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 4 to 5 pinwheels each !!
  • Preparation time : 15 minutes max.

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Carrot, grated, 1 cupful : Carrots are high source of iron and anti oxidants and have sweet and earthy flavor . Color of the carrots do not matter here. Just don’t let them be black ones.
  • Cheese, grated, 1/3rd cup : With all the calcium and protein benefits, cheese here is added for it’s creamy texture and nutty essence.
  • Table salt : Keep it low. I suggest less than a pinch per pinwheel. This would enhance the flavor of other seasoning.
  • Pepper, ground : Good proportion of salt and pepper are great anti oxidants too.
  • Oregano, dried : With .Bitter and pungent oregano is a great antioxidant and hence should be added to fried food. It also has anti fungal and antibacterial qualities. Interestingly, oregano when dried dose’nt loose much essence. 
  • Bread slices, 6 to 8 : No specific reason why I chose wheat bread. It’s just the one that we use at our place and that was what I had with me then. BTW, wheat bead is said to have all the great nourishment of  whole wheat like fiber, protein, antioxidants and iron.

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

  • Combine the grated apple/ carrot/ beetroot with salt and keep aside overnight in a fridge. This will make the grated mix shed water which can then be squeezed off and drained.
  • To the squeezed off grated mix, add the dried herb/ oregano.
  • Trim the bread slices by their edges. Now roll them hard using a rolling pin such that it becomes a thin yet single pieces. Meaning, that single bread slices should not be broken while rolling.
  • Now spread the grated cheese on this slice well to cover.
  • Lay out and spread the grated mix on this slice well.
  • Pick up one length of the slice and start rolling tightly. Some surplus mix might falls off. Let it fall.
  • Once these slices have been rolled you may pin them with tooth picks to keep them together and prevent them from opening and falling apart.
  • If your slices are big then you may want to chop the pinwheels into smaller width ones.
  •  Enjoy !!

Storage : Nil . The bread will get stale if kept longer than an hour.

Missing Something ? : You may add dried parsley to the grated mix.

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Cobia in Celery & Tangerine Butter

Cobia in Celery & Tangerine Butter

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Since long have I fancied using these pretty looking citrus fruits in my kitchen. Tangerines have often been relegated to dish washing levels only in my household. So I tend to leave them alone on their twigs, at least they sit pretty like little round perennial flowers.

This is my attempt to conjure a fillet recipe with handful of my garden harvest in late winters. You will have to cook it and enjoy it to believe in it’s amazing lingering taste. Happy Cooking !!

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 will do.
  • Preparation time : 20 minutes.
  • Serving size : 1 to 2 fillet each.

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Cobia (motha) fillet, 500 grams : This is a delicious fish indeed however (like most marine fishes) has a lot of mercury content hence moderate offering to kids is suggested. It is a pleasure to eat since it has little or no bones and just one central bone running across like surmai. It is white and flaky and good for fillets since it’s not very oily. Cobia is rich in Omega 3, vitamins and minerals.
  • Sea Salt, 1/2 teaspoon : Use coarse sea salt for authenticity and it’s minerals.
  • Table Butter, 1 tablespoon : Regular table butter would be in this.
  • Tangerines, 8 to 10 : A tangerine is a hybrid between orange and a mandarin. But I guess the poor guy never really took off in size 🙂 . But it is high in Vitamin C and is great for skin and fighting arthritis and healing cuts and bruises. They look very pretty since even a potted one can give loads of fruits in winters and a grounded one gives scores of them in season.
  • Celery, small bunch of about 100 grams : 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. 
  • Sesame Oil, 1 teaspoon : Sesame improves blood pressure, burns fats and is a good source of iron. It enhances the nutty flavor in the dish.

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

  • Harvest some tangerines. Must be all orange and ripened. Peel off and squeeze juice into a small bowl. Seeds are large and the fruit is small. DO NOT get frustrated with your attempts 🙂  .
  • Melt the butter and mix the tangerine juice in it well.
  • Lay the cobia fillets in an aluminium foil.
  • Drench the fillet very well with the tangy butter mix now. If required then poke and puncture the fillets with a fork well to make the butter go well inside the fish.
  • Wash well and chop the celery in 1 inch stalks and sprinkle over the fillets. The butter will make them stick on.
  • Cover wrap the fillets with aluminium foil.
  • Heat the sesame oil in a non stick pan and heat on medium flame till it starts fuming.
  • Place the fillets (wrapped in foil) in it and cook covered for 15 minutes turning twice thrice.
  • Serve hot and steaming.

Storage : You cannot store them, they’ll loose their texture !

Missing Something ? : You can serve some rinds alongwith the fillets. They’ll add to the tangy essence !!

Rui Macher Kalia / Rohu Fish Curry

Rui Macher Kalia / Rohu Fish Curry

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I have often written as to how being in North isn’t the best place to lay hands on the best seafood, however considering the modern logistical wonders and also appreciating the fact that India has one of the largest coastlines of the world with the caches of Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal we can hardly complain about the seafood shortage, in any weather condition i.e. India also has one of the largest coverage of rivers in its plains, so freshwater fish is also never elusive.

The winters however brings a flood of carps, catfish etc. in the river plains which sometimes become hard to distinguish if you are not a subject matter expert 🙂 !

Rohu fish or Rui maach is a very popular fish in Bengal state. I mention it’s bengali name since the dish I offer here is bengali too. It is a common carp that prepares many a sprawling spreads on tables. Rui Macher Kalia is one such dish that I first remember having over a lunch in a delhi restaurant and feeling it’s taste lingering throughout that day thereon. It uses your simple kitchen spices and leaves a bowlful of absolute pleasure. So, read on ! 

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 1 fish to delight 3.
  • Preparation time : 30 minutes + 15 minutes to prepare
  • Serving size : Half platefuls would be a great treat, serve it with steamed rice and some Kimchi Salad as I did.

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Rohu fish, cleaned, 250 grams approx. : Rohu has better quality meat and higher in Vitamin C than other carps. This is one of the most commonly eaten fish in our country.
  • Salt, 3/4th teaspoon : Use coarse salt for authentic essence .
  • Potatoes, 2 round cut : With virtually no sodium, no fats and no cholesterols and packed with potassium and Vitamin C  this fibre rich tuber veggie is undoubtedly one of the most famous ones across the globe.
  • Turmeric Powder, 1 and 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.
  • Cumin seeds, 1/3 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, 4 cloves : The King Pungent. Pungency is the reason why we use this allicin rich clove which combats sickness and common cold.
  • Green Chilies, 2 slit : Fresh green chilies from my garden add to the fresh heat and mild bitter component while adding benefits of eyes and skin..
  • 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.
  • Onion, chopped, 1/2 cup :  As in Red Onions for us Indians, 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.
  • Parsley, 5 to 6 twigs : 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.
  • Bay Leaf, 1 : Also from my garden’s bay leaf plant. 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 🙂
  • Sugar, 1/2 teaspoon : Light coarse jaggery can also work.
  • Mustard Oil.

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

  • Wash the fish and pat dry. Now season it with salt and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and keep aside for 15 minutes at least.
  • Use this time to get your potatoes etc. ready and laid for later use.
  • Grind the onion and ginger garlic paste.
  • Now heat the mustard oil in a non stick pan and allow vapors to come out. The moment it steams, put the gas on medium heat and place the fish pieces in the pan to stir fry mildly without breaking or sticking. Do so for 5 minutes and then take off heat and keep aside.
  • Now heat cumin over a separate pan. Heat till it crackles.
  • Add ginger to it and saute’ for 30 seconds.
  • To this add garlic and onions and saute’ further for 2-3 minutes till they turn golden brown.
  • To this, add tomatoes and stir cook for 4 minutes.
  • Add remaining turmeric, salt, sugar, red chili, green chilies and saute’ further for 2 minutes.
  • Add 1 glass water (about 200 ml.) and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes to it and cook further for 10 minutes or till your fish is well done.
  • Garnish with parsley chopped and serve steaming hot.

Storage : This one can be stored for a couple of days easily, but then you are making just 250 grams ??

Missing Something ? : You can use some cinnamon and black cardamom to enhance the flavors !!

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.

Quick Kimchi Salad

Quick Kimchi Salad

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My earliest memories about Korea comes from my junior middle times when Daewoo Motors would be all over Indian roads with their Cielo Sedan and a popular dinky car called Matiz. The entire Indian car driving population fell under either of the two. Then the company went bust and sold off. The next storm of Korean products to inhabit Indian consumer markets were from LG and Samsung home device products. These were much cheaper than the superior Japanese products and pretty flashy too.

However, the Korean cuisine has not been able to make much in roads surprisingly though since most of their vegetables and other ingredients grow easily in India. I guess that shows that they only mean business 🙂 . Anyways, I love to grow lots of pak choi in winters and draw out some interesting Garlic Sauce recipe which I shared earlier. Another more popular one, which is one of my favorite evening munch is the Kimchi Salad. As with all other Korean recipes, it has Sesame written all over it. Do go through this one and enjoy preparing a quick and snappy salad with sesame essence !

…need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : Ideally 2 but I don’t give any one a chance 🙂
  • Preparation time : 15 minutes max.

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Pak Choi / Bok Choy, freshly picked (or packed), 1/2 Kg  : True to it’s green leafy genre, pak choy has good amount of fibre, calcium, iron, protein and carbohydrates. In taste it is quite like cabbage and in looks it rules the sight of your kitchen garden with it’s lovely spouting leaves from the base.
  • Chili Flakes, 1 tablespoon : 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.
  • Garlic, chopped finely, 1 teaspoon : 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.
  • Radish, 1/3rd cup : Hot Pungent and peppery, the common radish that grows in my buckets in the backyard are great for heart, skin respiration and immunity. They also fight jaundice and cancer, but tooooo much gives me a massive bolt of acidity 😀
  • Carrot, 1/3rd cup, grated : Carrots are high source of iron and anti oxidants and have sweet and earthy flavor. Though I much rather use pickle carrots as in the Gajar Shalgam Gobhi Achaar (Carrot Turnips Cauliflower pickle) but fresh as in salads is also welcome.
  • Ginger, finely chopped, 1/3rd teaspoon : This south asian spice king is a great compliment to garlic. It helps us in getting rid of morning sickness, nausea and muscle pain as well. It’s tea is a widely used generic organic medicine.
  • Onion slices, thin and separated, 2 teaspoon : As in Red Onions for us Indians, 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.
  • Soy Sauce, 1 teaspoon : It’s a low cal high antioxidant sauce with several good cholesterols. It has a fine salty taste and is widely prevalent in dishes across south east asia and China.
  • Leek, thinly sliced, 1/3rd cup, 2 inches in length : I grow leek in my garden. It grows super easily in any garden and requires minimum taking care. They are milder and more flavored than an onion. It is also very healthy for blood vessels, bones, heart, digestion, vision etc. I am always inclined to use leek for the sweetness instead of red onions and also the leaves of these leeks. 
  • Oyster Sauce, 1 teaspoon : This has high sodium content and is sweet, salty and has a deep savory flavor. Keep it low if children are to be served your salad too.
  • Sugar, 1 tablespoon : Gets necessary sweetness to the dish adding fibre and aiding digestion too.
  • Sesame seeds, roasted, 1 teaspoon : Sesame improves blood pressure, burns fats and is a good source of iron. It enhances the nutty flavor in the dip.
  • Water, 3/4th cup : Regular tap water to create mild brine.
  • Rock Salt, to taste : Rock salt gave me more authentic grounded essence than the regular table salt.

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

  • Was well and chop the Pak Choi in 1 inch to 1&1/2 inch pieces each.
  • Grate the carrots and radish. You may also grate the onions if you want them sleeker and not too prominent in your bite.
  • Leeks to be thinly chopped as advised in the ingredients section.
  • Take a round bowl about 10 inches in diameter and put your Pak Choi in it. Sprinkle the salt over it and add the 3/4th cup water reserved earlier. Mix all well and keep aside for 1 hour.
  • After the hour, drain off the water, wash off the salt water and pat the Pak Choi dry.
  • To this add the grated veggies and toss well to mix.
  • Now add chili flakes, garlic, ginger and sesame seeds and toss to mix again.
  • Now, in a separate bowl mix the soy and oyster sauce with sugar and mix well till the sauce is one (i.e. its a mixed solution with sugar completely dissolved).
  • Pour this over the Pak Choi bowl and again toss well.
  • I repeatedly mention that you should toss well and not use a spoon or a stirrer to mix so as not to break the leaves and spoil the texture. Tossing is fun too 🙂

Storage : You may use it for another snack or with another meal about 12 hours later, but do you really eat salads refrigerated 😦 .

Missing Something ? : I did not bother it much since the entire thing is so nice and crunchy this way. You may sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil to make the essence more authentic.

Tangra Jhol / Tangra Fish Curry

Tangra Jhol / Tangra Fish Curry

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 that the monsoons are here in North India, the fish have started to come in rivers. Tengra or Tangra is actually Mystus Tengara. It is a very popular small-sized catfish found in Bengal and other eastern states of India. Tangra jhol is a common man’s curry in Bengal which you cannot miss if you stay in Kolkata or any other part of Bengal for over 7 days. The recipe too includes simple kitchen spices and tamarind to fork in the umami quotient. As always, you can find something unconventional here which speaks of my kitchen’s endeavors to do avoid prototypes and repeats. Do read and enjoy this fabulous treat, party on !!

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 for the party. 1 fish each with curry to your satisfaction.
  • Preparation time : 20 minutes
  • Serving size : 1 fish each and no less would satisfy

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Tengra Fish, 2, would be around 350 grams, cleaned well : Despite every time, I would still suggest that the fish be thoroughly cleaned  since there might be mud traces which you should not consume. Tengra or Tangra is mild in taste and aroma like most river fish. So it blends in the spices planned quite well.
  • Tamarind Paste, 1 tablespoon : Tamarind manages body heat well and helps in weight loss and heart regulation. It boosts digestion and immunity. Tamarind brings tanginess in the dish.
  • Nigela seeds, 1/2 teaspoon : It’s called kalonji in Indian kitchens and is packed with antibacterials, antioxidants, anti inflammatory. It has a slight bitter, onion like flavor.
  • Cumin seeds, 1/2 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.
  • Dry Mango Powder, Amchoor, 1/2 teaspoon : Amchoor is a sour, fruity spice which is a good antacid and antioxidant. I add it here since the kids would love anything with amchoor in it.
  • Table Salt, 1/2 teaspoon or to taste : Salt hydrates the dish and hence the body and table salt has a balance of sodium and potassium which in turn improves sleep and aids the nervous system.
  • Mustard Oil, 2 tablespoon : 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)

  • Coat the fish in half the salt and tamarind and keep aside for 15 minutes.
  • Now heat a skillet with 2 tablespoon mustard oil. Fry the fish on high for 3 minutes and then lower the flame.
  • Now add 2 cups water to it and mix well. Cook on medium for 2 minutes more.
  • Sprinkle the amchoor powder and mix well. Now cook for 5 minutes more or till the curry thickens to your desired level. I wanted to eat it for a sunday morning so I thickened the gravy to a sauce.

Storage : Avoid please.

Missing Something ? : You may add chopped green chilies if you so desire !!

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 😀

Oysters Fried in Tamarind Sauce

Oysters Fried in Tamarind Sauce

Sometime back I cooked some oyster meat as a masala recipe. That had a sunshine essence while this one has a midnight appeal 🙂 . I was very enthralled by the little dish which was amazingly textured and turned from a dirt filled slimy meat pieces to absolutely divine morsels. Was very eager to making something similar using the tanginess of tamarind and the bite of some fresh chilies. I had this dish with a bowl of clear boiled white rice and wow, it turned out great. It pays to be adventurous in the kitchen 😀 . Do try at your end, and yes, feel free to iterate your own way !!

…need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 to 3
  • Preparation time : 25 minutes
  • Serving size : 2 to 3 tablespoon of the dish

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Oysters meat, cleaned, 250 grams :Fluidic and tender, oyster meat is a good antioxidant and as written earlier, since it has very little fat and calories, it is great in weight management and increasing the energy levels in a person. Notwithstanding, oyster meat is a good aphrodisiac too. I get them at local seafood delivery even in off season, so not too difficult to lay hands upon even in Delhi.
  • Green Chilies, 2 to 3 : 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. I pick the less bitter ones from my garden.
  • Turmeric powder, 1/3rd teaspoon : Turmeric gives a great orange color and a mild bitter taste to the dish. It is a wonderful antioxidant and anti inflammatory. Though I’ve started growing turmeric in my garden, it’s not been used as a dried spice yet.
  • Degi Mirch, 1/2 teaspoon : Widely native in the heavenly valleys of Kashmir state, degi mirch has an amazing ruby red color and a mild bitter flavor. It has pretty much similar benefits of skin, hair and inflammation as most regular chili peppers.
  • Tamarind, 1 teaspoon : Tamarind manages body heat well and helps in weight loss and heart regulation. It boosts digestion and immunity. Tamarind brings tanginess in the dish.
  • Pepper powder, 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.
  • Garam Masala, 1/3rd 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. Indian kitchen = Garam masala. 
  • Sea salt, to taste : Sea salt is slightly healthier and mineral rich salt. However, I add it here instead of table salt to bring in more authentic essence in my seafood 🙂
  • Lemon juice, 1 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.
  • Curry leaves, 6 to 8 : 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 🙂 
  • Fennel seeds, 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.
  • Oil, 14th cup : I used coconut oil due to it being odorless and tasteless and just providing the grease and with a low heating point.

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

  • Heat half the oil in a pan on medium heat and wait till it starts fuming.
  • To this add turmeric powder, and degi mirch and cook for 30 seconds. Do not overdo else your pan will start fuming sneezy fumes 🙂
  • To this add 2 pinches of salt, the tamarind paste, the garam masala and pepper powder and stir for a minute maximum. Add 1/2 cup of water and stir further for 2 minutes to form a thick sauce. Now take off the flame, off the pan and set aside.
  • Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan. When it fumes, add fennel and move till it crackles.
  • Now add curry leaves and the green chilies and make them move around in the pan to cook for 2 minutes on medium flame.
  • Remember, all the dish cooks in medium flame only. That way the light oil retains greasiness and the oyster also do not firm to a rubbery texture.
  • While the pan is cooking chilies and curry leaves, add the oysters meat to it. Cook for 10 minutes in the pan stirring well. This would be the right time to adjust the salt levels. Mix well and switch off the gas.
  • Squeeze the lemon juice over the oysters and leave the oyster cooked such (covered  with a lid) for next 2 minutes.
  • Now open the lid and pour the tamarind sauce earlier prepared.
  • Serve steaming to hungry poking forks 😀

Storage : Not suggested. The texture will be lost forever. Anyways, you are making a yummy dish, don’t even think about storing it.

Missing Something ? : I suggest don’t tinker too much with the ingredients here.

Pan Fried Octopus

Octopus Pan Fried

There are always a few things that one comes across and take upon as a challenge to do. Cooking octopus was one such challenge. Every step of cooking an octopus was a learning for me. Right from the type of octopus that cook best to the safety steps involved in it. Octopus cooking is no sweet deal if you do not know how. Every part of an octopus is unique hence you tend to learn a lot about the creature as well. Just to startle you with its introduction, an octopus has 3 hearts, 9 brains and blood which is blue in color ! 9 brains, should make it the most intelligent creature on earth right ? Wrong. Only one of its brains is primary and rest eight are attached to each of its tentacles and have limited functions. Not that we are bothered about with that much, we get right to our skillet to take up this challenge !

Read on and pardon me for any errors in the dish 😦 since it’s literally my first attempt at Dr. Octo  😀  !!

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2
  • Preparation time : 15 minutes

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Octopus 2 to 3 medium small, would be around 500 grams : I ordered some and lo behold, I got delivered fresh full-bodied octopus. Octopus have a mild rubbery, chewy texture. I felt there wasn’t much taste of its own in an octopus, so it was quite open to cooking styles and use of spices. It is extremely low in fats and has good amounts of minerals, Vitamin B12 and protein.
  • Red Chilies, ground, 1/3rd teaspoon : Red chilies are good for skin and eyes and are great anti oxidants. Here I use them for their extreme flavor and earthiness over a bland octopus meat.
  • Oil, light, unflavored : I would prefer light oils like coconut or olive here to grease my pan.
  • Coarse sea salt granules : Coarse sea salt granules are more authentic and full of minerals which the regular table salt is lacking. Use it to your taste.
  • Onions, chopped, 1 tablespoon : I generally use the red, mild onions with white layers inside. They have a fair taste and are great in controlling blood sugar.
  • Tomatoes, 2 tablespoon, chopped : Filled with potassium, magnesium and Vitamin A, C & K, tomatoes form the cooking flavor essence in this dish.
  • Lemon, 1/2, cut : 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.
  • Cherry tomatoes, 2 – 4, cut in halves : Has high sugar concentration so is very sweet and cute to look at too. I grow them in pots and in my garden, but they are easily available at stores as well. Packed with powerful nutrients like Vitamin A, C and K and potassium. I grow them in abundance in my garden.
  • Garlic cloves, roasted, 5 – 6 : My King Pungent ! Pungency is the reason why we use this allicin rich clove which combats sickness and common cold.
  • Parsley leaves, 1 tablespoon : Parsley is the best mouth freshener and tomato is the right natural condiment with seafood. I grow at least 4 varieties in my garden hence am pretty keen to use anytime.

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

  • Wash the octopus well several times.
  • Take off (chop) the head part, refer snaps. This is very critical since the head contains the beak part. The beak is the part from where the octopus not only eats, he also defends himself by releasing the toxic blue blood from its beak. So stay from trouble and chop its head off the tentacles.
  • Take these tentacles and wash well again. Now pat dry them and soak them in cold milk for 30 minutes. Soaking in milk enables the white soft texture to retain its tenderness and not turn rubbery and unchewable when cooked.
  • Now heat the oil in a non stick skillet/pan. Add salt and red chilies (ground) and mix well.
  • Now add onions to it and stir till golden brown.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes (not the cherry tomatoes) to the pan and saute’ for two minutes.
  • Now carefully add the chopped octopus tentacles. Stir cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cook covered for 7 – 8 minutes. Now switch off the flame and keep it covered for another 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Now take off the lid and serve in a platter. Garnish this with chopped parsley.
  • Mild roast the garlic cloves and cherry tomatoes and keep as sides on the platter to give the correct essence.
  • Mildly squeeze some lemon juice and serve immediately.

Storage : Like most of my dishes, do not store. Coook only as per requirement.

Missing Something ? : Feel free to iterate.

Chicken with Grilled Fruits (Apple, Leek & Asparagus)

Chicken with Grilled Fruits (Apple, Leek & Asparagus)

Sometimes you end up making great mistakes. I once kept cut fruits in the microwave to prevent them from attracting flies while made my tea. Then the doorbell rang and I forgot all about the fruits. In 15 minutes, by stroke of chances, I ended up grilling the cut fruits in the oven. These were some pineapple and pear cubes. A few minutes of grilling gave such surprisingly lip smacking results that I made it up in my mind to do regularly with dishes. Here, I grilled up some cut apples and asparagus alongwith my homegrown leeks. The grilled fruits completely took over the fragrance and flavor of the chicken. Do try and enjoy 🙂  !!

 

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 to 3
  • Preparation time : 25 minutes

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Chicken pieces, 1/3rd chicken, would be around 400 grams : I spent a good amount of my time in Punjab state. Chicken is the prime meal most of the time there. I had an instance, when said that I did’nt want to have non veg on a specific day, and abrupt came the reply from my host then, that it’s not no veg – “It’s just chicken” 😀  . Chicken obviously is a popular white meat loaded with nutrition especially proteins. 
  • Apple cubes, shaved, from 1 apple : Apple or pear any one can be used here. They have similar tastes on cooking, have similar prebiotic benefits and high iron content. 
  • Leek, 1/2 inch pieces of 1 full leek : I grow leek in my garden. It grows super easily in any garden and requires minimum taking care. They are milder and more flavored than an onion. It is also very healthy for blood vessels, bones, heart, digestion, vision etc. I am always inclined to use leek for the sweetness instead of red onions and also the leaves of these leeks. 
  • Vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon + enough for cooking : Use any vegetable oil. We are using butter in this dish so a light odorless oil would be sufficient. This would suffice in marinate and pan frying of chicken.
  • Salt : I used Himalayan pink rock salt. It’s almost 5 times more expensive than my table salt. But hey, very little of it is required, so why not. It is supposed to be the cleanest salt on the planet today with amazing benefits like regulating water content, maintaining ph balance in the body, strengthening the metabolism in us. Tastes a bit coarse, so that works out for me too.
  • Mixed herbs, 1 tablespoon : It’s a dried mix of basil, parsley, oregano and rosemary. Not my first choice since most of my herbs come from my garden
  • Black pepper powder, to taste : 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, 5 : Pungency is the reason why we use this allicin rich clove which combats sickness and common cold.
  • Asparagus, 1 inch pieces of 2 asparagus : With a nice earthy and crunchy texture, asparagus regulates blood sugar levels and has high content of fiber, Vitamin A, E, C & K.
  • Chicken stock, 1/2 cup : A well made chicken stock doesn’t allow the other flavors, spices, herbs and ingredients to overpower the flavor of chicken in the dish. I like making many stocks, do check out how I made some mutton stock published earlier.
  • Sugar, 1 tablespoon : Regular table cane sugar.
  • 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.
  • Butter, 2 tablespoon : Good butter has high soluble fats which are a better grease than margarine. It gives a mild salty taste to the fillet. BTW, India is the largest producer of butter in the world. Nice trivia 🙂 

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

  • Grind the garlic cloves and mix pepper, dried mixed herbs, 1 tablespoon oil and salt. Marinade the cleaned pieces of chicken and set aside.
  • Heat rest of the oil in a shallow pan. Add the chicken to it and stir for 15 to 17 minutes. Be sure that the chicken is done as per your requirement. Now take this off the flame.
  • To the same pan (chicken removed), add some butter (1/2 tablespoon) and heat till it melts. To this add salt pepper (a pinch each) and add the chopped asparagus and apple. Saute’ for 4 minutes and take off the flame and set aside.
  • Now take the pan and heat the remaining butter (1 & 1/2 tablespoon) in it. Add the leek, sugar and salt in it and stir for 2 minutes. Add vinegar to this and let it cook for a minute more.
  • Pour the chicken stock in it and cook well till the fluid is reduced to half.
  • Time to decorate your platter. Place the chicken first. Pour the stock cooked right now over it and then top it up with the stirred apple & asparagus.
  • Be pleased with your work since everyone else is going to be 🙂

Storage : A day or so max. Not that it doesn’t store well, it’s just that the texture of the dish changes.

Missing Something ? : This is a complete indigenous attempt, so you are free to add your favorite seasoning. Remember NOT to garnish this chicken.