Monday, April 30, 2012

Fish fry in a hot peppery spice mix...

 Fish fries are everyone's favorite way to eat fish. Even those who eat fish very occasionally.

For me it is the easiest and quickest way to rustle up a fish meal. Yes, there are times when we eat just fish fries for dinner. Actually pan grille technically, but we call it a fish fry nevertheless. Crisp exteriors and a soft flesh inside.

With a salad on the side I find such meals quite light and healthy too.

This is one of the simple recipes that gets repeated quite frequently. Fresh curry leaves is the only green that is required, in copious quantity though. I find this spice mix the best way to eat more curry patta in such fries.

Tofu is the other ingredient that soaks these flavors well when fried or pan grilled.


fish steaks 6 pieces (about 600 gm)
curry patta 3/4 cup packed (tender curry patta will be better or use a bit less)
black pepper corns 1 tbsp
cumin seeds 2 tsp
ginger chopped roughly 1 tbsp
dry whole red chilly 2 nos.
a small piece of tamarind chopped fine (or 2 tsp paste)
salt to taste
sesame oil to fry (1 tbsp is enough if the steaks have skin on)


Mix everything except the fish and the sesame oil and make a coarse paste without adding any water.

Rub this mix over the fish steaks and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Heat oil in a pan, swirling the oil so the pan gets coated evenly, arrange the fish pieces with the coating and fry both side.

The coarse spice paste doesn't stick too much on the steaks so you would have to stick it while frying. Some of the spice paste would come off the pieces while frying so take care to collect any loose spice mix in the pan and serve it along the fried fish steaks as it's quite a tasty spice mix and you would like to wrap it up around the fish bites you take.

A side of quick pickled onion slices goes very well with this fish fry as it is fiery hot. The tangy pickled onion rings balances the heat and gives a nice crunch too.

I served a nice Cabbage,  Beet greens and Ginger Sauerkraut with this fish fry too. Sliced cabbage , Beet greens and Ginger julienne pickled in salt water and a little mustard powder. Well, mustard powder was my twist to the sauerkraut as I love such watery pickles with a hint of mustard. It develops into a very flavorful pickle that serves the purpose of a salad as well.. 

A fermented salad makes proteins digest easily. Improves the gut flora as well. Great pro and prebiotic food.

Can your meals get healthier than this?

Being yummy to the hilt at the same time...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

flax seeds chutney | a dry garlic chutney with flax seeds, sesame and coconut | flax seeds goodness in everyday food

dry flax seeds chutney

 Do not go by the looks. This flax seeds chutney chutney packs a punch and you would end up craving for it at odd hours and wouldn't mind popping up a pinch of it immediately. There will be no garlicky smell and yet the chutney very potent chilly garlic nutty tangy mix...

flax seeds


flax seeds roasted 1/2 cup
grated dry coconut or unsweetened coconut flakes 1/2 cup
toasted sesame seeds 1/4 cup
garlic pods peeled 20 or 1/2 cup
tamarind pods seedless, the size of a large lemon or to taste
dry red chillies 20 or to taste
sesame oil 2 tbsp or a bit more
salt to taste


Chop the garlic roughly and break the red chillies in bits so they get fried evenly.

Chop the tamarind too with a sharp knife so it can be fried to dehydrate.

Heat the oil and tip in the chillies and chopped garlic in it. Add the chopped tamarind too.

 The oil will not be enough to fry the garlic and chillies freely but adding more oil can make the chutney feel oily as the flax seeds, sesame and coconut are all oily ingredients themselves.

So fry the garlic and red chillies on low heat level for a while. Adding salt to the frying mix can hasten the process. The idea is to make the garlic lightly browned and the mixture dehydrated.

let the fried mixture cool and then make a powder with everything else in a coffee or spice grinder.

dry flax seeds chutney

Store in an airtight jar for up to 2 months.

The chutney can be served with any meal as a condiment.

As a sandwich spread with some raw vegetables will be great as well, normally a chutney like this is used for the famous Vada pav of Mumbai.

It's a versatile chutney. I have tried it sprinkled over my plain lentil soups as well. With some of my raw vegetables salads too.

dry flax seeds chutney

What kind of use you can make with such a hot garlicky chutney? You can always add more garlic for added garlicky flavours or adjust the chili heat to taste. This flax seeds garlic chutney is a kitchen staple you would feel blessed with.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Brussel's sprouts with Thyme and browned garlic butter

Everything sounds great in this recipe. And it is.

We rarely see Brussel's sprouts on shelves in Delhi but I make it a point to get a pack whenever spotted. These miniature cabbages are a slightly different dimension to my cabbage love. While I have tried cabbage in almost every form, Fritters, stir fries, salads, soups and even savory pancakes , the Brussel's sprouts are only stir fried for their cute shape. And firm texture...

I used to stir fry them to serve with some steamed broken wheat or couscous, has been a long time I cooked them that way..

These pictures are poor quality but the taste is great, you might like to have your Brussel's sprouts this way too.

Quick and simple. The stir fries with this vegetable are ready to take any flavors you treat them with. Some light aromatic herbs works quite well. This time I had some fresh Thyme and wanted a lightly peppery stir fry with loads of garlic..

Browned butter accentuated the flavors quite well. I tossed some Cherie tomatoes after I emptied the pan in the same butter-garlic leftover grease. That was another dimension to the vegetable platter that day. Cherie tomatoes were plentiful this season in my garden and have been a daily fix for my raw salads. Some days they find their way into the pan this way.

(for 2 large servings as a side dish)

Brussel's sprouts 200 gms
butter 1 tbsp
Garlic finely chopped 1 tbsp
Thyme springs 4-5 or more if you want a potent thyme accent
freshly milled pepper to taste
salt to taste


Cut the Brussel's sprouts in halves or quarters depending on size.

Heat the butter in a pan and before it melts, dunk in the chopped garlic. let the garlic and butter brown together. Take care not to burn. It should be heated slowly till it gets browned evenly. I sometimes add a tsp of fresh cream to this mix so it browns faster and gives a nice nutty taste.

Add the chopped sprouts and Thyme springs together and toss with salt for a couple of minutes. You wouldn't want the sprouts to cook through, a light browning on the edges and a nice crisp interiors would be a great end product.

Add freshly milled pepper, toss again and serve hot. Isn't that simple?

Roughly chopped cabbage can also be stir fried quickly in this seasoning. Just take care to cook it on high heat so it gets glazed without cooking too much. Texture would make a difference.

Now if you have some Cherie tomatoes, dunk them into the same pan after emptying the Brussels sprouts and toss for another couple of minutes. Serve together side by side or in different serving plates.

You might like to mix them together too, but I do not like the subtle flavors to be taken over by this much tomato.

As a stand alone salad like stir fry, the tomatoes were great. Garlic and butter and any herb makes the tomatoes shine.

Within 5 minutes of cooking time my vegetables for lunch were ready.

 That day I had them with Rajma chawal , but I wouldn't mind this platter as a stand alone meal if studded with a few nuts there. And may be a sprinkling of a few cooked pearl barley.

What is your favorite recipe with Brussel's sprouts?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Barley congee or jau ki ghaat : a light cooling, healing drink for summers

Barley congee is a thinner version of the famous Rajasthani Jau ki ghaat. Jau ki ghaat is a raita like dish that is made the same way but is kept thicker so it makes a dip like consistency. Both the versions of this cooked barley flour drink or congee are extremely good for gut health. Barley is considered cooling for the system and toning up the GI tract, cleansing it at the same time.

We often eat for social reasons and indulge a bit more. Some refined carbs and refined oils inevitably find their way to our stomach when we eat out or when the food preparation is not under our control. On such occasions we eat bigger portions sometimes or just too many dishes for the comfort of the gut. So the next day should be a relaxing time for the digestive tract. Something light that soothes the inflammatory effects of badly prepared food or poorly chosen portions. Or simply bad combinations of food.Whatever that disturbs the harmony in our digestive system.

Some meals are simply inflammatory to the system. Very high sugar in one meal is one example when the meal turns inflammatory, especially when the sugars are prepared with refined flours and refined oils too. We can undo the damage to an extent.

Barley congee helps doing just that. Damage control. And much more. A detailed post is intended, stay tuned for that.

I am going to tell you how simple is this congee to make. I am almost forced to write this recipe as one of the my clients couldn't understand the cooking procedure and the congee turned out an unpalatable experience. I would never want someone to turn away from a yummy solution to such recurring problematic meals we have to have sometimes.

So the step wise recipe or better to say a how to procedure of the Barley congee is here. All done in a few steps in microwave.

Two tbsp of Barley flour is all that is required to make 2 huge mugs of this congee. Here is the flour in a microwave safe jug . A carafe can be used too.

Add half a cup of plain water to this flour and mix well so no lumps are there. Now add a cup of water again to make it thinner. 

This can be done in a thick bottom pan too and then cooked on stove top till the mixture boils and becomes transluscent. 
Just like this. 

This pictures is after a 2 minutes boil in the microwave. Cook it till the slurry becomes frothy and rises in the jug. It looks like this.
Cook again till it gets frothy and rises till the neck of the jug.. 

This time when you check it , the slurry becomes even more uniform and smooth. 

Emulsion like.
Now add plain cold water to this slurry to make 2 mugs full of this drink.
Add salt to taste and any seasoning you like. 

Chaat masala or roasted cumin powder (bhuna jeera) makes a tasty blend with salt n pepper. 

Use the seasoning according to the mood of the day I would say, you need different spices on different days. Isn't it?
In my case it was a chutney made using mint, spring onion, green chilly and salt. Two tsp of this chutny in my barley congee makes my tummy happy.

The same drink can be converted into a great pro and prebotic health drink by adding some natural yogurt to it and let it sit on the kitchen platform for about 12-14 hours. 

A slight lacto fermentation of the Barley congee makes it a lovely tasty gut healthy drink. Thinned down to your wanted consistency at the time of consumption. Almost like buttermilk.

Whenever there is constipation, I recommend fermenting this drink using natural whey. The whey that is the byproduct of making paneer cheese. It works well for making the gut movements ease out. Seasonings of this drink can be any one of the above mentioned.

Now you see how versatile is this Congee. Different seasonings and different liquid mediums to get desired results. This is a favorite detox recipe for me in the summer months. It can be given to children too.

Serve cold or chilled. I like to serve it thinned with buttermilk, finely chopped green chillies, mint and coriander greens.

To cook the barley congee in a pan you just have to mix 1 tbsp of barley flour with 500 ml water, whisk well and cook on medium heat till it froths. Cool, dilute with buttermilk or whey and serve as desired.

It can be a daily healthy summer drink as well. The same way we have our buttermilk or Lassi.

Let me know if you liked this drink. It will be a helpful recipe up your sleeves.

Edited to add : The drink can be made using pearl barley as well. The procedure is simple.

Soak the pearl barley for 3-4 hours or overnight.
Now make a paste adding some water to it.
This paste would directly be used as a paste of the flour and water in the second step of the microwave recipe.
Just dilute the paste with a cup of water and cook till frothy and the mixture rises up the vessel.
Dilute again with cold water, add seasoning and serve cold or chilled.

1/2 cup pearl barley soaked in a cup of water. The paste will be about a cup, 2 tbsp of the paste would make two large mugs of a thick buttermilk like consistency Congee.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thai style Chicken mince curry...

This happens when you are happy with what your patch of herbs is treating you with.

It has been a season of butterflies flitting all around, kissing the pollen of Basil, Marigold, Sweet Williams and Flox sometimes and squatting on unlikely places when you wonder what they are up to. Hiding below a leaf as if giving you a peek-a-boo. You get to know after a few weeks when the growing young shoots of your herbs are seen bitten mercilessly. Are you getting what I am talking about?

We all like when there is color and beautiful song and dance around. But the aftermath is somehow ugly. I often think if I am a selfish woman who loves every single butterfly flitting in my garden and yet hates the caterpillars who gnaw away my herbs. I often pick them up with tweezers and feed them to birds.

Cruel act. But I do that.

And I know this story is quite unappetising to begin a talk about such an aromatic yummy curry.

So I plucked a few Thai basil leaves, actually a handful, while picking a few of those caterpillars and putting them in my bird feeder, I proceeded to cook another bird for my meal. Cruel me.

I uprooted a lemongrass stalk too. Fragrant like no other thing, the green blades of this grass I save for my green tea. The bulb and a good part of the base goes into my curry.

A simple curry, few ingredients but very very aromatic and rich flavors. A comforting goodness. I made this curry with the leftover minced Chicken of the pack I got for making these Chicken cutlets.
It was a frozen pack, the brand is Venky's , quite good quality.

Chicken minced 200 gm
finely chopped onions 1/4cup
finely chopped ginger and garlic 2 tsp each
whole cumin seeds 1 tsp
thinly cut ginger julienne or grated ginger 2 tsp
salt and pepper to taste 
(you might like to be generous with black pepper as there is no chilly in it) 
oil 1 tbsp 
(any oil you use or if you have saved some chicken fat from stock making)
Basil leaves a generous handful, torn by hands 
(it should be a cup of basil, loosely packed)
Coconut milk 1 cup or a small carton 
( I used coconut milk powder 25 gm pack)
1 tsp cornflour if you are wary of the coconut milk splitting in the cooking mix
Soft boiled eggs 2 or more as you wish

I normally skim the fat whenever I make chicken soup or stock and store it in the freezer for such recipes. It adds to the taste and nutritive value of the dish.


Pour oil or chicken fat in the pan and tip int he chopped onions, ginger and garlic all at once. Start heating the pan and frying the contents till they become translucent.

Add the whole cumin at this point and stir fry for a couple of minutes so it gets fairly cooked and aromatic.

The time to add the chicken mince. I often add it when it's still half frozen as it gets thawed and cooked all at the same time.

The lemon grass bulb has to be added at this time. Thrash the bulb once to loosen the pith, the most flavorful part. It might get separated from the stalk, put everything in the cooking mixture.

Keep stirring and cooking at medium heat for about 6-8 minutes or till the all the chicken mince looks whitish. Add the salt and pepper and mix well.

Now Add 1/2 a cup of water and torn Basil leaves.Cook for about 5 minutes covered on low heat.

Now mix the coconut milk with the corn flour if using. If using a powder coconut milk as I did, dissolve both in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water.

Add to the cooking curry. Let it come to boil, simmer for a couple of minutes. Adjust consistency by adding more water if required.

Add the thin ginger julienne at this time to finish. Some fresh slivers of ginger give it a distinct character.

It should look like this. A thick creamy gravy which is so fragrant you would feel hungry .

Actually you would feel hungry all the while it is cooking. The good news is, the curry cooks within 15 minutes or so.

Serve immediately garnished with halves of soft boiled eggs.

I normally serve this dish along with the lemon grass shoots. You would know why when you lick this grassy looking thingy. Just the way some people like to have a bite of red chillies used for tempering curries. This is something completely different. I like retaining it in the serving plate as well.

Lemon grass, Thai basil and Coconut milk make the yummiest of curies together. This one is lightly spiced with cumin and a generous amount of black pepper.

Twice added ginger gives it a deep earthy kind of heat, the freshness of ginger added as a finishing touch is also quite distinct.

Look at the crushed bulb of lemon grass. Try and suck this one and see if I am wrong. You would like it.
My husband never believes in my antics though :(

Serve with rice.

Yes, plain boiled white fluffy rice. I can't imagine something else with this curry.

What would you like this with?

May be noodles. I rarely have noodles for myself. You can try if you wish.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hainanese chicken and rice, with The soup..

Hainanese chicken and rice would probably the most popular chicken and rice recipes I guess. Many of my friends call it their comfort food. The light poached chicken is so flavourful and the soup that is served with it is something to die for.

Yes, The soup is the master of ceremonies here.

I tasted this wonderfully succulent, juicy and flavor packed chicken dish at a Singapore hawker's festival at Eros some time back and it led to a discussion there on. Someone suggested a recipe and I wanted to give it a try immediately. Seeing the descriptions I was tempted to try this at home, a good decision for someone who loves all things soupy and all light chicken recipes.

When you have been cooking your meals for a long time, you know which recipes will be great for you. That's how you pick up. Yes, a great recipe was picked up this time.

Simple flavors, simple procedure and few ingredients. Mostly all of them you would find in an Asian kitchen.  few fresh ingredients make the dish really great in this case. The chicken was frozen in my case but still resulted in the most amazing flavors.

The only thing I tweaked in the recipe was addition of a few whole spices in the broth and adjusting the dipping sauce to my taste.

Hainanese chicken and rice

There is only one condition. Use a chicken with skin.

Otherwise too there is not much taste when the skin is off. Many people discard the skin as they find it too fatty. Some even think it would temper their cholesterol.

But that is a nonsensical thought as our body wouldn't import cholesterol from a chicken :-) It can make it's own through the excess carbohydrates and refined processed oils we consume.

Normal cholesterol level depends on sensible eating and choosing natural good fats.

In this recipe there is no additional fat used for cooking the chicken so you would be comfortable even if you are watching calories.

Hainanese chicken and rice

The ingredient list and instructions look extensive but the recipe is quite simple to execute. Although it requires around an hour's time to assemble this meal. may be some more if you are having fun doing it.

Not very quick to cook but still enjoyable cooking.

ingredients for the chicken and broth....
one whole chicken with skin
2-3 large shoots of spring onion (bulbs not to be used)
2 inch piece of ginger sliced roughly
black peppercorns 1 tbsp
star anise 2
enough water to submerge the chicken in a suitably sized pan
salt to taste (adjust salt to the quantity of water too)
1 tsp of sesame oil

procedure for the chicken and broth...

Wash and clean the chicken properly. Rub salt over the skin and dislodge all the feather bits, the skin should look clean and scrubbed. Now the chicken is ready to be boiled.

Tie up the green parts of the spring onion and push them all inside the stomach cavity of the whole chicken. Put the ginger pieces too inside. Fill up the pan with water to submerge the chicken completely and let it boil.

There will be some scum floating up, remove it with a slotted spoon or sieve and let the pot simmer till the chicken is cooked through.

25 minutes at boiling temperature is usually enough time to cook chicken this way..

Now remove the chicken with the help of two slotted spoons , taking care not to pick it up holding the legs as the legs might get hacked off and the chicken would slip back int he boiling water. Use two slotted spoons as I mentioned, or one wide frying mesh if you wish.

Keep the Boiled chicken in a separate bowl and rub the sesame oil over the skin so it stays moist.

At the time of serving the chicken has to be carved, or cut into thin strips to serve.

The stock will be the clear soup or broth to be served along the meal. Garnished with chopped greens of spring onion and finely chopped coriander (cilantro) greens.

Hainanese chicken and rice

ingredients for the rice
a cup of rice, washed and soaked for 15 minutes
(basmati or a short grain rice as I used)
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 cups of the chicken poaching broth
2 tsp sesame oil

Procedure for the rice...

Heat the sesame oil in a pan and tip in the chopped ginger and garlic into it. Fry them together till they turn lightly browned and very fragrant.

Tip in the washed and soaked rice and fry the rice as well till it looks a little translucent, a couple of minutes for this quantity.

Add the measured amount of the hot chicken broth , let it come to boil and then cover and cook till done. A rice cooker or microwave would make it easy.

Garnish with chopped coriander (cilantro) at the time of serving.

Hainanese chicken and rice

ingredients for the dipping sauce..
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp tabasco sauce
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 inch piece of ginger chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 whole red chilly broken
1 tsp white vinegar

Blend them all together to make a sauce like consistency.

ingredients for the chicken cutlets...
(3-4 servings as a side with this meal)

chicken mince 300 gm
chopped white parts of 2 spring onions(the ones used for the broth)
chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies 2 tsp each
salt n pepper to taste
sesame oil to shallow fry (uses about a tbsp)

procedure for the chicken cutlets....

Mix everything together and shape into small patties.

Fry them all in a shallow pan using sesame oil . Frying both side till brownish and cooked through. Takes about 5 minutes each side on medium flame.

Hainanese chicken and rice

Serve hot with the meal. These cutlets get fried as the rice is cooking so the meal gets served hot.  The broth would require reheating as this was the first thing to be prepared.

Carving the chicken would be the last chore but doesn't require reheating. I loved the chicken pieces dunked into the hot soup as they get perfectly juicy and refreshed in the broth.

The red hot dipping sauce will be used for the boiled chicken strips as well as the chicken cutlets , a potentially hot dip to get a kick in between.

The chicken cutlet is optional as it is not served with this meal normally. I made it because my brother was visiting and he loves such cutlets. This time I tweaked the normal chicken cutlets to go with this meal. And the cutlets were the star of the meal for him.

The broth was the star for me. As I mentioned in the beginning, the master of ceremonies. I am partial to clear soups.

Arvind loved everything as it was difficult for him to decide a particular favorite in this meal. I know it will be so with many others.

Hainanese chicken and rice

The salad served on the side is a simple cubed cucumbers and Cherie tomatoes salad.

A dressing of sesame oil, vinegar and salt and chopped green chillies is mixed with some finely chopped onions first and this mixture is rested for about 10 minutes. Till the onions get almost pickled. Tossed with the cubed cucumbers and halved Cherie tomatoes at the time of serving.

We all loved this meal. I know anyone would.

Simple pleasures of life are such.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dragon fruit and an angelic dessert | a dessert with dragon fruit and coconut cream

 And this angel of a dessert is refreshing to the core...

I don't know who named this wonderful fruit a Dragon. It's angelic to me. Such a bright fresh color and no barbs or stones to encounter. Pun intended :-)

May be the dragon is an auspicious creature in some parts of the world. Especially those where this fruit grows and flourishes. And is valued. Not just for the beauty, for nutritional qualities too.

Normally I don't buy or eat any imported fruits but his one somehow captures my attention whenever I visit INA market. Till I go choose a heavy fruit and get it weighed and it gets paid.

Heavily. It is one of those exorbitantly priced fruits, reserved for some special occasions. Or if you want to make a seemingly boring working weekend special. Yes I made three wonderful desserts with just one fruit. This long weekend was not that boring in the end.

Okay it was for just the two of us. And this fruit weighed 600 gm.

While buying the fruit take care to feel the skin. It should be firm, bright and tout. When pressed it should give in a little bit. Like a ripe mango. I wish the brightly colored skin was edible too. Such bright pigments going to waste bin is not a good idea.

The white flesh makes up for it. No stone in the fruit means more flesh and all those tiny black seeds are a refreshing soft crunch.

The skin peels off like a charm. Just halve the fruit and hold the half in one hand and pull off the skin like you peel a banana or a mango slice. The white blob is yours' to devour.

Chop it in cubes, mash it or liquidise.

The flavor of the fruit will be there even with a overpowering dose of coconut cream. Although this fruit is quite bland but the flavor is unmistakable when it is there in a dessert.

This dessert has quite a lot of it.

(2 servings)

Dragon fruit cubes 1/2 cup
mashed pulp of Dragon fruit 1/2 cup
Coconut milk/cream 1/2 cup (from a carton or freshly made if you can)
I use a 25 gm packet of Coconut milk powder dissolved in 100 ml warm water or thick coconut cream
sugar 2 tsp
6-7 black grapes + 1/2 tsp of sugar for the garnish (optional)


Cut the grapes, sprinkle sugar and microwave for a minute till the juices ooze out and get syrupy. The syrup thus made is used in my dessert. You can blend the cooked grapes, and use the thicker jelly for garnish. In that case you would like to use more grapes too.

Prepare the coconut milk/cream if you are making it fresh, or dissolve the CM powder if you are like me. Using a thick milk/cream(as used here) or only the cream will result in different textures in this dessert.

Mash half cup of the dragon fruit like you would mash a banana using a fork.

And pour the half coconut milk/cream into the mashed fruit pulp. Add in the sugar too. Mix well to dissolve.

This bowl of mashed fruit and coconut milk mixture would go into the freezer, including the fork.

Every 30 minutes or so the pulp will be mashed again as the ice starts setting in. Making it into a sorbet kind of texture.

The cubes and leftover coconut milk/cream would go into the refrigerator to chill for a couple of hours.

At the time of assembly, scoop out the frozen pulp into serving bowls or glasses, arrange the cubes over it and pour chilled coconut milk/cream to fill the bowls or glasses.

The black grapes syrup or coulis can be dripped over the top for a flash of color. Or even as a thicker layer if you want those flavors to be there. You would like a thicker coulis made in that case.

Mine is runny and trickles down the frozen sorbet and the coconut cream, passing between the cubes of the fruit. There is no apparent taste of the black grapes here.

Go ahead and add a dollop of a thicker jelly like black grapes coulis if you want another dimension into this dessert. It would be a good decision if you have to woo an audience :-)

Dragon fruit is anyways capable of doing that. With coconut cream it becomes something you would like to repeat again and again. Especially if there is no cooking to be done and there is not much sugar going into a dessert.

Just take care to serve it chilled.

Blessed by an angel !!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Grilled vegetables: potatoes with rosemary cream and eggplants with chives and olive oil..

The herbs are just the top notes, base note being garlic. The earthy-smoky grilled vegetables that these potatoes and eggplant make. A convenient way to have more side dishes when the meals are looking dull and boring. Even the summer temperatures wouldn't make deter me from baking such beauties sometimes.

I visited the INA market with Sushmita Sarkar of My unfinished life just two days back and came home with a few fresh herbs that I don't have in my garden and a huge Dragon fruit. She asked for the recipe I was telling her with potatoes while commuting in the metro and I decided why not to make the grilled potatoes again instead of digging into my older folders for pictures.

A few fresh eggplants form the garden also joined the potatoes in this grilling session. They both had different herbs to dab in, different fat medium too. Resulted in a nice aromatic flavors individual of their own although both of them occupied the same baking tray.

A few Cherie tomatoes joined them while baking and resulted in perfectly caremalised sweet and sour little bombs to burst in the mouth.

Here is the basket that was harvested in the morning...

These eggplants with barbs on their crown have a nice buttery flesh when roasted or grilled. Cherie tomatoes as usual the best when fresh. Either in salads or grilled like this one. I am thinking of making some sun dried Cherie tomatoes after witnessing the enhanced taste in the grilled ones.

The recipe is simple, just a few things to keep in mind when cutting the potatoes and steaming them. Otherwise it is a very forgiving and adjustable recipe. Choose the herbs according to availability and the mood of the day and douse with whatever fat you like , butter, Extra virgin olive oil or just fresh plain cream. The resulting bake would be customised to your taste buds for the day :-)

(2-4 servings as a side dish, respective ingredients for both potatoes and eggplants written under each of them, mixed quickly )

2 medium sized potatoes with skin
1 tbsp fresh cream (or malai)
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
2-3 pinches of red chilly powder
salt to taste
one spring of fresh rosemary or as much as you like (or dried about 10 leaflets)

2 medium sized Japanese eggplants halved (retaining the crown and the stalk)
1 heaped tsp of finely chopped garlic
2-3 tsp of finely chopped chives (optional, as garlic has enough strong flavor)
2-3 pinches of red chilly powder
salt to taste
extra virgin olive oil to pour over the egg plants ( a small glug over each of them)


Cut the potatoes in halves and hold the halves in your left palm (if you are a right handed person or do otherwise), hold a paring knife with the right hand and cut lengthwise to make many furrows and then crosswise to make a grid pattern. Take care not to puncture the skin beneath.

Now steam or microwave these halves till these are half done. I microwaved them in a covered bowl, placing the potatoes cut side down, without added water for 2 minutes. When steaming in a steamer take care to just cook them lightly, otherwise they would fall apart. Now the potatoes are ready to be grilled.

Just when the potatoes were being microwaved i cut the eggplants too. Holding them just like the potatoes in one hand and making furrows in the cut halves. Just length wise in this case as the eggplant flesh gets quite soft and buttery and soaks the flavors easily.

Arrange the cut halves of both the vegetables in a foil lined baking tray.

Mix all the ingredients for the potatoes seasoning, except the rosemary, and pour over the cut halves. Push and stick a few of the chopped garlic bits into the grid pattern in the potato halves and then slip in a few rosemary leaves too. Pushing a few of them inside the grid and a few just sprinkled on top.

For the eggplants, Just sprinkle everything on the open surface , pushing a few of the garlic and chive bits inside the furrows. Then pour some olive oil over it.

Ready to go into the oven. Preheated at 250 C, bake the vegetables for 20 minutes at 200 C.

I took out the tray after 10 minutes and spread a few Cherie tomatoes too. The eggplants need some more time as they were not precooked, so I removed the baked potatoes after 20 minutes of baking and continued to grill the eggplant halves for 5 minutes more, placed on the higher rack..

You can puncture the tomatoes if you don't want them bursting inside the oven. I like them whole and do not mind a bit of cleaning inside the oven after baking.

The favor of the tiny tomatoes got enhanced so much I am thinking of grilling them with every batch of baking I do. The plentiful harvest will be used in a great way for sure.

The fresh cream and garlic gives a nice background to the fresh rosemary to play as the potato flesh gets soft and oozing with flavors so rich.

Placing the potato halves in this manner saves all the juices and the cream with all the flavors within the skin, preserving all the flavors and aroma as well.

Eggplants are more earthy than the effervescent potatoes here. The red chilly kick is quite potent in both of these , just the way I like it. You can always skip using red chilly powder or flakes and use black pepper powder instead.

With eggplants I use a variety of spicing depending on my mood and the main course dishes. More recipes of grilled/baked eggplants will be shared in future. Hoping to be regular on my blogs.

You can always add some cheese in the last 5 minutes of baking to get a cheesy baked potato with the same recipe. Keep in mind the baking time might differ with different ovens so be careful after 10 minutes and keep a watch on how browned you want your vegetables.

Do you have any favorite spicing for eggplants?

Potatoes we all know go well with just about anything. The husband loves potatoes and I have seen him enjoying the spuds with just about anything. In any form, baked,boiled, roasted or even fried.

Would like to emphasise that you don't need to discard the peel of either the potatoes or eggplants after grilling them. The peels are edible and give a nice earthy flavor to the finished dish. Try that.