Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roghan josh recipe with sun dried Apricots...




Sometimes we have to make some changes in a classic recipe just to make it suitable for someone who is allergic to one particular ingredient. Or sometime we have to devise recipes from a very restricted list of ingredients. Both ways it's not an easy task as one gets intimidated about whether the food will be palatable. Especially if it is being made for a kid.

Many long years with my daughter made me aware about including or excluding an ingredient for a recipe to suit the constitution of a person. And to make some changes in the recipe that it still tastes the same. I did the same to this classic Roghan Josh recipe. Made it twice within a week to see if it tastes good when made without yogurt as in the original recipe. To tell you the truth, the husband couldn't even know these two versions were cooked differently.

The reason I tried a recipe without yogurt is, a little girl named Abigail, who is allergic to many many food ingredients and her aunt Shirin has called a group of foodies to help with suitable recipes. The ingredient list is quite restricted but still is good enough to get good nutritious meals for the little child. I was aiming for some food that Abigail's mother would cook for the family and the child would eat on the same table. It is more important to eat the same food on the table, so the kid does not feel seggregated,alienated or deprived. If we all enjoy a meal as a family, no one would feel deprived of a whole lot of things that are missing from the meal.So my recipe would be for the family of Abigail to be devoured together.

This modified Roghan josh will become a favorite of the family of Abigail I hope. See the authentic Roghan josh recipe here if you want to give it a try.

I used a tart variety of Apricots that I sun dried myself last year. They were just perfect for this recipe. I am going to use them a lot for meat or chicken. You get Apricot powder in some kashmiri shops and that will be a great convenience to use. fresh Apricots that are tart not sweet will be great as well.

ingredients..

mutton cut into 2 inch pieces on bone 500 gm
Olive oil 1/4 cup
sun dried apricots 2 tbsp soaked in water till mushy, made into a paste
3 tsp fennel powder
1 tsp dry ginger powder
2-3 tsp kashmiri red chilly powder
salt to taste
4-5 green cardamoms
5-6 cloves
1/2 tsp garam masala (a mix of green and black cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and a little nutmeg)

procedure...

Make the paste of Apricots, do not add the soaking water into that paste, reserve it to be added to the gravy later.

Mix everything together and marinate overnight.

Transfer in a deep thick base pan and start cooking the mixture on low heat. Stirring and mixing all the while for about 15 minutes. Or till the juices dry up and meat gets seared.

Add about half a liter of water and simmer on medium low flame till done. Pan should be covered with a fitting lid, it takes about 30 minutes to cook the meat. It can be pressure cooked after adding water to save time or to ensure cooking well.

There will be red colored oil floating on top, an indication of a yummy curry ready for you. It tastes as good as the original, with a slight hint of fruit in it. I loved it and would be tempted to make it often.





A walnut and Radish chutney is usually made with this Roghan josh. Abigail is allowed Radish occasionally. This chutney can also be made using a mix of cucumber and a stick of celery, I would have made it if I had some fresh celery int he garden. The Celery is still in seedling form. A handful of walnuts blended together with a cup of chopped radish or a mix of celery and cucumber. That's it for the chutney or dip.




Abigail is not allowed to eat rice or any other grain. She is allowed to eat Buckwheat and sago. Any of those can be served with this Roghan josh for her and the family. Buckwheat needs boiling just like rice and Sago needs to be soaked overnight and then steaming works. Or cooking in microwave.

With love for Abigail.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

wheat grass in a citrus salad, easiest to have it...




 I mentioned sometime ago that I got a sweet gift of a potted wheat grass from Le Meridien. I sometimes grow my own wheat grass and juice it along with Aloe Vera pulp and drink as a morning refresher. This time, the quantity of the wheat grass was not sufficient for juicing so I thought of tossing it up in my salad.

Note that there should be no seasoning ideally with wheat grass, so choose a fresh citrus fruit so it helps getting the nutrients absorbed. I used Mosambi, one of my favorite citrus fruits, because of it's mild sweet taste, a rich citrus aroma and a tough skin that allows it to keep fresh for almost a week in the fruit bowl.

Chop and peel the Mosambi (sweet lime), toss it with scissor cut Wheat grass and some chopped almonds. A yummy salad is ready in 5 minutes. You wont miss any salt n pepper or herb flavor in it. 

If you find it tough to find your way through this fruit, click here to see how to peel Mosambi.

The thought of such a refreshing salad lures me to get up and toss this yumminess.


I add Sweet basil or Tulsi sometimes to the same simple salad..

It's not a recipe, just an idea to get refreshed in between work, deadlines and more work. Just get up, do not think about coffee and toss up a refreshing salad. Bring the salad to your desk and start working again.
The salad will automatically find it's way into your system :-)

Cheers.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

baby corn manchurian style | and a way to eat some noodles.....



Someone had requested me to make a way to eat noodles. This girl loves noodles and was off them for a long time for health reasons. To loose some weight specifically. I went to the neighborhood bakery that day which stocks some freshly made noodles, bought a packet and then bought a pack of tofu and baby corn as I love them both in a Chinese style meal. When I started preparing it. Arvind came into the kitchen and said he wanted only baby corn and no tofu. So I opened 2 packs of baby corn (weighing 200 gm each) and used them both for our one dish dinner that day. I am glad I did as it was yummy and filling.

So the noodles are simple carbs no fiber kinda food and we need to fortify them with enough protein and fiber, this helps in minimising the amount of noodles per serving as well. This way you get some carbs from the noodles but you are capable to lessen the glycemic load of the meal. Works fine.

ingredients...
(two dinner servings)

fresh noodles 100 gm (dry 60-70 gm)

baby corn whole or halved 400 gm
large fat variety of green chillies 4-5 nos.
(or use hot green chillies to taste and some more green bell peppers)
chopped garlic 1 tbsp
chopped ginger root 2 tbsp (or to taste, my ginger limit is higher)
chopped coriander greens and stems 1cup
salt n pepper to taste
dark soy 1 tsp

sesame oil 2 tbsp

dark soy 1 tbsp or to taste
tomato ketchup 1 tbsp
cornflour 2 tsp (please remember that corn flour adds to the simple carb content of the meal so don't add with  free hand, it is just to add a glaze and saucy appearance to the dish.)

procedure...

Boil the noodles in salted water for just 3-4 minutes. They cook quickly if they are fresh, otherwise follow packet instructions.

In the meantime mix together the Baby corn ears, chillies of both types if using, ginger, garlic, Coriander stems, salt and pepper  and a little dark soy and toss together.

Now heat the sesame oil in a wok and chuck the baby corn ears seasoned with all the herbs and soy, toss together on high/medium flame. The baby corns need not to cook completely, we need a bit of bite in them.

Mix the ketchup, a little dark soy and a tbsp of water with the corn flour and pour it into the cooking baby corn mix. Mix immediately till there is a coating of glaze all over. Add the coriander greens, mix well and take off heat.

Strain the noodles, toss with a little sesame oil and lay them all in a serving plate. Top it up with the baby corn manchurian style. You could always add some tofu in this medley.  Even some bell peppers, I avoid them as the husband is intolerant to them.


So about a 100 gm cooked noodles with 400 gm of baby corn for 2 servings is an awesome way to lower down the carb load in a meal. Added tofu would be great and so would be some chicken or shrimp in the same.

My friend is happy she can have noodles once in a while. Variety is the spice of life, even I don't mind some noodles once in a while. But never the 2 minutes kind. Never ever. Get them made fresh if you have a facility around.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Degustation at the Eau de Monsoon, the contemporary Indian restaurant at Le Meridien | some tips to eat healthy on such occasions..


I have a surprise in store for you all. Many of you have been asking for ideas on how to choose foods right for your regime when eating out. I reply many of you individually, and would take this opportunity to display it through pictures today. Surprisingly, I myself never found it too difficult to manage healthy when eating out, more because I am not a dessert person and that gives me some liberty to go easy on a few other things. Let's see how an elaborate eight course menu can be suitable for your healthy regime. I agree it is easier to avoid junk food when you are a non-vegetarian out to eat. At this eating out invite, I enjoyed clicking a lot of pictures as well, hope you like them too. Read on..


I had little idea what is in store when I was invited to the Le meridien Hotel by Akshita Jain of Blogathon. The invite said there is an opportunity to do photography at the venue along with meeting other bloggers and a few contests. This opportunity to click pictures has become a  good bait for me since I bought my DSLR few months ago. We went to a few walks around Archeological park in Delhi and in busy market places or around our campus to click bird pictures. All this apart from the places we go to eat.

Yes, food photography is equally fascinating though my everyday food that comes to the blog is not photographed with much styling. There is a reason to it, minimally styled food looks doable and I want my healthy recipes to look and feel as doable as your daily breakfast toast. You know I never talk about toasts :-)

So the bait worked and I reached the venue dot at time. The first one to arrive, I was greeted by Anasuya Basu, Director of Marketing communications and we started chatting about what was this event about. Le Meridien was introducing it's Avant Garde Cuisine at Eau De Monsoon, the contemporary Indian restaurant of the hotel to the food and lifestyle bloggers of Delhi. Also to introduce us to their wine collection in company of Magandeep Singh the celebrity sommelier. I was very sure by now that the event is going to be really interesting. Took out my camera and started clicking pictures until the blogger friends started arriving.The decor of the place makes you feel like being in the rain when you look towards the water cascade across the glass walls.

This picture to me represents the soul of Eau De Monsoon ..


The chic elegant decor is something you would like to linger around..


With a drink in your hands and a few tidbits for company may be...


They have a bar counter on one side...


This Espresso Martini ..


And these lovely Bruschetta with assorted toppings. Very refreshing vegetarian ...


And meaty fruity cheesy non vegetarian toppings...


A modern wine cellar being introduced to us..


And the table that was set out for all of us 18 bloggers...


The chandeliers..


The Amuse bouche was a thick Asparagus puree flavored very delicately. It was refreshing, no overpowering flavors as it should be and yet giving a fair idea what is in store..Served in a shot glass, to be had in a single shot. I sipped slowly though, to get a lingering taste..


Then came the Deconstructed Samosa. Nice crisp thin cylinder of a pastry and lightly seasoned cubes of potato. It was nowhere close to a desi Samosa but very delectable.


Wines were poured. Pinot Noir 2009..


Magandeep introduced the wines to us. A Gobelsburger 2010 in his hand..


Chicken tikka in two different seasonings. Both were nice, nothing extraordinary. The cracker on the base was irrelevant for me but it made a nice presentation. Looks like a tight rope to walk :-)


Shrimp infused in basil and Kefir lime. The shrimp was nice fresh and juicy but the seasoning was a bit too mild seeing the amount of green paste slathered. Would have liked a bit more Basil and Lime flavors. I am not complaining as the shrimp made up for everything.


Some one on the other side of the table praised this Broccoli a lot and I decided to have a taste of this as well. This is the Broccoli that I requested for myself..It was for the vegetarians on the table.


A perfectly done spear of Asparagus but the Broccoli was just too much mush. Overcooked Broccoli is not something I want. Some liked it as I said.

The Fish course was a Seabass Madras curry. I liked the vegetables on the side.Wanted more of the crisp veggies here. Perfectly crisp snap peas and a nice juicy sauteed sliver of Artichoke. The fish portion was dull. Just that. Presentation I loved.


There was an Oven roasted chicken after this course and that was quite forgettable. Not bad, just a normal roasted chicken.

But what came after that was a pleasant surprise. A large plate, a small spoon sized white scoop.


A muskmelon,lemon and ginger sorbet in a bite sized scoop. It was a blast on my palate and I don't even like sorbets much. A very nice innovative palate cleanser. Loved it.

The Biryani came next wth a dramatic presentation. Covered in a bowl with a purdah, looked quite nice but was very mediocre. I understand Biryanis are best cooked in huge Deghs , small bowls don't work for the dum process. I felt the portion was just too large as a part of an eight course meal.


I have a rant. A raita for Biryani shouldn't come in a shot glass whose rim is smaller than the spoon and the raita is thick and creamy. Perfect texture for a raita but it can neither be poured over the Biryani being so thick and creamy, nor it can be scooped out with the spoon. I don't want to struggle with my food unless it is a crab claw :-)

Then came one more palate cleanser I loved. It was a  mixed berry reduction with kaala namak (rock salt) and a tiny piece of guava. This is creativity at it's best. Just loved it and requested a second portion shamelessly. Nivriti was my company in this sin :-)


While we were giggling over the mixed berry, the dessrt wine made it's entry and they announced that it was a discovery moment. The dessert was a surprise. Made us really eager to know.

The dessert wine, served in a shot glass was Muscatel Oro. Very tasty wine to sip slowly. Sweet deep flavors. Very potent.


The dessert platter was beautiful. We had to guess what was what. This foamy dome shaped dessert is a Mascarpone kheer on a Pistachio biscuit served with a creme foam. It was nice but for someone like me who isn't much a dessert person, it was just okay. The far left is a mango Pannacotta with a berry reduction on the side and a Chocolate sliver. Rightly sweetened, nice texture but I rarely like Pannaccotta, so wouldn't talk much about it..


What was the most intriguing for me, is this Gulabjamun Creme brulee. Two small Gulab jamuns, dunked in a Tea liquor creme mixture and baked like a Creme brulee. It had a hard crust like proper Creme brulee, not tapping hard but quite flaky hard and it was sweet. Just too sweet for me but so good I licked clean the bowl. Have a closer look..


And there was this award winning shot of Espresso and Kahlua topped with a froth of Tia Maria mixed by a very beautiful girl from Assam, Manisha. This is the Illiccino as Manisha introduced, winner of a world Barista championship. The brown sugar rim of the shot glass was just fantastic with the kick of coffee and liquors.


The degustation ended with some more chatter, some more giggles and promises to meet again. It was time to say good bye to to everyone. Anasuya Basu and Meena Chopra gifted us all with these small pots of Mint and Wheat grass, a delight for a gardener like me.  I used the wheat grass in a salad as it was not enough fro juicing. I must tell you it tastes great in salads as well.


The Mint would keep me company in the garden for a long time.

All of us including Ruchira, Rekha, Sushmita, Rituparna and myself had a good time together. Nivriti was an added bonus to our pack :-)

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As mentioned in the beginning, I often suggest people regarding how to choose sensibly when eating out. In this eight course lunch for non-vegetarians, I found there was too little of vegetables, raw or cooked. I would have liked a little more vegetables on the sides of meat and fish servings. I compensated by requesting for a Broccoli dish which I didn't like much but compensated for my vegetable serving in a meal. The Deconstructed samosa, the rice in the Biryani and the crackers with the Twin Chicken tikka can be easily avoided as the meat portions were enough filling as a serving.The vegetarian menu was more rich with vegetables, there were more grains on it as were the proteins. Large servings so you could easily avoid too much carbs and eat the protein portions happily. I always feel it's not so tough to eat sensibly on a formally laid out meal. Just be aware what you want and avoid the others. And most importantly, you might need to skip the next meal if you have had a heavy meal in such a case.

Hope it helps a few of you. Please let me know if it does.

Cheers.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

green mung bean hummus with green pitted olives...


 Hummus is great in all it's avatars for me. I can have it as a meal if some of the chickpeas are left whole. I just want some texture to go with a hummus meal. Either some crisp slices of cucumber or some crackers make a hummus meal interesting but I can do even without them sometimes.

The husband doesn't like hummus much in it's original avatar. So I devised a salad that reminds me of hummus and rids him of the pasty feeling that he dislikes about it.

And this Green mung bean hummus serves the same purpose. I don't make a paste of boiled green mung, just mash it lightly for myself and keep it whole for him. Works really well. Minimal cooking, minimal blending and great taste.



I even packed this chunky green mung Hummus in his lunch box one day. I have been posting his lunch box pictures on my page since there were many requests for healthy and balanced lunch box ideas.

You can check out healthy options for adult lunch boxes here on my page.


ingredients...

Green mung beans 1 cup (uncooked) soaked overnight
Tahini paste 2 tbsp or more as per taste (I used my homemade Tahini*)
Green pitted Olives 1 cup ( I used up about 3/4th a bottle of Del Monte pitted olives)
Extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp or to tatse
salt to taste
some red chilly powder to taste

procedure...

Boil the Mung beans with a cup of water in  pressure cooker. Cook till the first whistle and then on lowered flame for 5 minutes. let it cool naturally till the pressure releases. All the water should be absorbed, drain if it has some.

Make a paste of the green pitted olives.


Mix all three and mash the mung beans a little if you wish. You can make a paste of mung as well if you want a smooth texture.

Pour extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle some red chilly powder if you wish.

I like a little lime juice sometimes, taste and adjust seasoning according to your taste and add lime juice if required. It should be a balance of flavors.



*Recipe for the homemade Tahini paste... 1/2 a cup of white sesame seds are dry roasted till aromatic and then ground in a mixie jar till pasty. Some Lime juice and about 10 garlic cloves are added, some salt to taste and then again blended till smooth. Some sesame oil can be added to get a preferred consistency.

Green mung bean hummus is definitely a keeper recipe if you look at food the way do. Food for healing, health and nourishment. Mung beans are wonderful for detox and cleansing, use them more.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Palak paneer in a bread and some pull apart rolls | and how to make the whole wheat dough stronger without adding Gluten..



Making a whole wheat bread without adding any all purpose flour or Maida is a challenging task. Especially if you are trying to emulates a texture and look that is similar to the store bought white crap of  a bread. The one that just looks right, every other property of a good bread as gone for a toss.


It's a no-brainer that home made whole wheat breads would be the solution to many of us who like our breads either daily or occasionally. I keep fortifying my bread with different things to make it more interesting every time and a few of them work like magic to bring the bread scale up for whole wheat. This one is such a bread. The addition of chopped spinach and Dill from my garden (this was made in the last winters) and some freshly made soft Paneer makes this bread very soft and supple. Very very flavorful as well, spinach and dill are a match made in heaven. Fenugreek greens and dill works great as well.



The pictures are taken by my older point and shoot camera as I mentioned this bread was made some time back. I had posted about it on my page and a few friends requested the recipe. Thanks to them this bread reaches the blog today :-)

Let's see how I made the mixture of the chopped greens and herb with salt (minimal) and pepper to taste. Freshly made crumbled paneer was also added to the same. Do not get tempted to add garlic if you are using Dill. The flavors will be quite clashing and the freshness of Dill will be lost. If it is just spinach and garlic, it would work great.



Then the mixture was given a good stir, I used my hands to mix it properly so the paneer crumbles will and gets distributed evenly. Note that the paneer would hold it's volume while baking but the herbs would shrink considerably, so even though the green looks voluminous in the mixture, the quantity and flavors will be balanced in the bread.


A basic whole wheat dough was made and proofed. I decided to make some pull apart rolls and a herbs loaf with this. So half of the dough was used for the roll and the other half for the loaf.


See how the air bubbles have formed in the rising dough. This is when I pulled apart half of the dough for the stuffed rolls.


The dough was rolled out into a rectangle, using the back of a baking tray (oiled well) was convenient in doing so. Note that I use a textured rolling pin so that minimal pressure is applied on the dough while rolling as it spreads. If you have a rolling pin that rolls, the best.


Now half of the spinach and paneer mixture was spread over the rolled out dough...


The sheet was rolled up starting from the longer side, keeping the roll as tight as you can.Oiling your hands is helpful in doing this. The edges properly sealed and secured and then a marking is done to approximate the size of rolls.


Cut and arranged in a baking dish. Keeping some distance between them as the rolls would expand before and during baking. Keep them covered with a lid, not touching the rolls.


 Being whole wheat and because I preferred rolling the sheet quite thin, they expanded little. Still satisfactory.


Bake these rolls in a preheated oven for 20 minutes to half an hour at 200 C. Depending upon how large your rolls are. I applied fresh cream over the rolls and then baked them again for 5 minutes. The cream melts very fast on hot bread.


Wanted a creamy flavor with these herbs. The cream disappears after the final 5 minute bake but lends a nice creamy taste to the baked rolls.You would notice that the rolls are browned just too much. That was because of my carelessness. I was talking to a friend over phone when I switched on the oven and only the upper filament was on. I didn't notice till I saw the rolls getting browned too fast. Correction was done halfway the process. Rolls salvaged in time.


The aroma of this bread is irresistible. I didn't wait to cool the rolls before I pulled them apart. Don't do this if you are planning to serve this bread for a formal meal.The edges of the rolls wont be as neat as you would want them to be. See these hurriedly pulled apart rolls to believe my word..


These are lovely, aromatic, flavorful rolls. We loved them with Chai and for breakfasts. Were a nice snack too, more like a replacement to samosa I would say. That yummy.

The other half of the dough was kneaded with the half of the greens and paneer mixture. Then the dough was set out for a second rise.


 A rough free form loaf shaped and baked at 200 C for half hour.


A light weight bread comes out of the oven and is brushed with some fresh cream again. You might like to use EVOO or butter for this purpose. I just went with my love for cream going with these herbs and paneer mix.

Cooled down on a wire rack. This one escaped my knife attack as the rolls were doing the rounds till it was baked. The slices come out neat when you cool down the bread completely. All the steam escapes and make the bread suitable for clean slicing.


If sliced while hot, the steam escapes sooner, making the slices and the un-sliced loaf of bread dry, tough and chewy. After a long step wise demonstration of this bread, do you still feel bread baking is a difficult chore?

Doesn't this bread tempt you?

Now know a bit about how to make a whole wheat dough gluten strong, even without adding additional gluten to it. To make the dough for a whole wheat bread, you start with yeast of your choice. Take the requisite amount and make it froth in warm water, flour and sugar solution. My yeast starts normally with a tbsp of fresh yeast, 2 tbsp of flour, 1 tsp of sugar in a cup of lukewarm water. A pinch of salt thrown in is a good idea to feed the yeast.

As soon as the yeast becomes lively, pour it into the bowl that you would use for kneading. Add 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour to the bowl and another half cup of warm water.You would see the yeast becoming almost happy bubbling as you add the flour. It froths some more as soon as you mix it up. Now is the time to build up strength in the dough. This mixture looks like a slurry and you have to whip it using your bare hands in a clockwise manner . You would notice the slurry is loose and allows smooth whipping in the beginning and starts becoming stringy and strong as you go on. Later it resists your clockwise action. A count of 100 whips is enough, this tip I got from a Lebanese bread blog whose link I forgot to save. Once the slurry like dough is stronger, move on to add more flour and required amount of warm water to knead the dough. For this quantity, 2 cups of flour will be good enough.

Once the dough is formed, after a sticky phase to smooth and even dough, in about 30 minutes of good Biceps workout, you are good to go on with the dough. Rest it for the first rise in a warm place.

The dough is photographed in this post after the first rise, the second rise in this bread is after mixing the herbs for the loaf and rolling with the herbs for the rolls.


The quantity of greens used was about 600 gm total. Paneer 200 gm and salt and pepper to taste. The recipe and the quantities of ingredients for this bread is not set in stone, the bread will be great even if a little more or less greens or Paneer is added.

The procedure to make the dough is very important though. It has given me great loaves through the years. Plain or flavored, with seeds or with herbs. Flax seeds and sesame are my favorite seeds for breads.

hope this post helps you bake a good bread at home. Most importantly I would be glad if it inspires you to bake your bread at home.

Cheers..