Friday, May 12, 2017

Recipe : Purple Sprouting Broccoli Salad

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a book launch for Thomasina Miers latest cookbook - "Home Cook", where she served us a lovely sprouting broccoli on sourdough toast.

When we visited Osterley Park, I found some fresh purple sprouting broccoli at the farmers stand and I had to buy them and cook them immediately.

This salad is inspired by Thomasina Miers recipe from her cookbook, with my own twist on it.

1 bunch purple sprouting broccoli (will work with regular broccoli too)
1 handful shelled & halved walnuts
1-6 cloves of garlic finely sliced (depending on how much you like garlic, I used 6)
1/2 tsp olive oil (to fry, not extra virgin)
lemon juice to taste
pomegranate molasses to taste (balsamic vinegar will work as a substitute)
chilli oil to taste (or any other flavoured oil)
cheese to garnish (optional) - goats cheese or anything creamy combines beautifully

Lightly roast the walnuts in a pan and keep aside.
Warm the olive oil in the pan, and add the sliced garlic.
As the garlic begins to brown, add the broccoli.
When cooked to your satisfaction (I like it crunchy without the raw smell), take it off the heat.
Toss with the toasted walnuts.

Put it in a serving bowl.
Drizzle lightly with lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and chilli oil.
Garnish with cheese if you like.

Eat as is or on toasted bread.

If the broccoli isn't tender, halve the mature stems away from the heads and cook those first before adding the broccoli heads, so that everything is evenly cooked.

Thomasina Miers at the Book Discussion:

The Broccoli on Sourdough Bread that she served (pardon the terrible picture, but it was difficult to get a good shot in the crowd)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Recipe : Indian Style Spicy Scotch Eggs - Nargisi Kofta

Scotch Eggs are a great way of using up leftover mince and they are very yummy too. I don't have any post-frying pictures, as they disappeared so quickly!

These ones were made with leftover low fat pork mince

I made this minced meat recipe of mine without the tomatoes or the peas. But you can use any recipe you like.

Take the leftover mince and potatoes and grind it in the food processor (add water if it isn't grinding & then later slow cook on a low flame to dry it out to the right consistency)

Add fresh coriander leaves and fresh chilli chopped.

You can fry these as it is for cutlets.
Deep fry them as meat balls and use in your favourite pasta sauce or Indian curry.

But to make Nargisi Koftas:

Boil eggs, cool, peel and dry completely before encasing it in the mince.

I sliced the eggs in half before covering with mince, but you can make them whole and slice before serving if you prefer

Dip in beaten egg & coat with rawa/semolina (optional - makes it crispy) and fry on a low flame with a little oil (they can also be deep fried)

I make this with beef, chicken or lean pork mince.

They get gobbled up so quickly.

You can even stuff them in burger buns or pita breads for a more filling meal.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Recipe : Potato & Comte Savoury Tart / Pie

Tesco has a range called #TescoFinest in which they package some of the best food under their own brand name. I had a chance to #TryForLess, some of their cheese from the Tesco Finest Range and I decided to go for a Comte Cheese.

Comte is a French full fat hard cooked cheese made with unpasteurised cow's milk, traditionally made and matured in the Jura region. Since I had never tasted it before, I though this would be a wonderful opportunity.

But once it arrived home, I was stumped - "What should I cook with it?" Fortunately Tesco on Twitter came to the rescue and directed me towards a Potato and comté savoury tart recipe.

The recipe looked interesting enough, but I wanted to add more flavour and a bit of meat to it, so I made a few changes. The original recipe is vegetarian. I added some pancetta for flavour and meatiness, but this recipe can be made without it.

There's a bit of an eggwash used to seal the pastry, but there isn't much liquid in this recipe, so you can skip the egg if you want to turn it completely vegetarian or vegan.

Ingredients :
200g Tesco Lighter ready rolled shortcrust pastry (or make at home)
a little plain flour (maida), for dusting
1 egg yolk, beaten (I added the white while cooking the onions)
500g salad potatoes
100g pancetta
5 ml olive oil
5g butter
6 cloves garlic chopped
2 medium onions, finely sliced
75g Comte, grated
50g Chives or other fresh herb chopped

Line a 7 inch springform fluted tart tin with nonstick baking paper.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thickness and use it to line tart tin pressing in well all over.
Prick the base all over and chill.

Cook the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water until tender, usually 15-20 minutes.
Drain and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Heat a pan and fry the Pancetta in it until it begins to crisp up.
Remove the pancetta and keep aside, but leave the oil in the pan.
Melt the butter and olive oil in the same pan over a moderate heat and add the garlic.
When they begin to crisp/brown a bit, add the onions, sweating with a little salt until soft; 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat and let the onions slowly caramelise, stirring occasionally.
Quickly stir in the egg white from the separated egg.
Take the pan off the flame.
Mix in half the chopped chives/herbs

Remove the pastry from the fridge as the onions caramelise and line it with nonstick baking paper and baking beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes until the edges just start to colour.
Remove from the oven and discard the paper and baking beans.
Then return to the oven for 5 minutes to brown the base a little.
Remove from the oven and brush all over with the beaten egg yolk to create a seal.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Reduce the oven to 170°C.

Slice the potatoes into even sized discs.

Arrange the onion mixture across the base of the pastry, then arrange the potato discs in concentric, overlapping circles so that they cover the entire surface.

Sprinkle the comté cheese and remaining chives/herbs on top and season well with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes have browned a little and the cheese has melted.
Remove and allow to cool in the tin before serving.

Serve slices as is, for a snack or with a side salad for a complete balanced meal.

What I would do differently - When I added the grated cheese pre-baking (I used only about 50 gms) it looked like a lot, but once it melted down, the cheese flavour was very subtle.  I would use a lot more cheese when I try this recipe again. The cheese combines well with the potato.

Disclosure : I received the Comte Cheese through the Tesco Orchard program in exchange for a review

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Eid Mubarak : Recipe : Murg Mussallam

Eid Mubarak to all my friends, especially my companions from mt Egypt & Dubai sojourns.

I've been terribly remiss about blogging, but there's been so much to see and do in London, that the only thing I seem to have the time for, when I turn on my laptop is to book tickets and pay bills. :)

I check facebook on my phone, when I'm one the move and one of the groups that I belong to - "Chef at Large" had many members posting wonderful photos and recipes of Ramadan specialties.

I was really missing my annual trips to the Ramadan Food Markets in India, whether Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai or Chandni Chowk in Delhi or Charminar in Hyderabad or Juhapura in Ahmedabad and the mouth watering delicacies on offer.

Then I came across a gorgeous picture by Imbesat of KhanPaan of a succulent Murg Mussallam. I have never eaten this dish before, but I think it was one of the first printed recipes I had seen as part of a food advertisement as a child. I forget which product it was for, but they would advertise in the Femina or Eve's Weekly or Readers Digest alternating 2 recipes. Murg Mussallam and another. This dish always intrigued me, but with all the processes involved and the slightly more expensive ingredients (dry fruits etc), I was subtly discouraged from trying this out by the adults at home.

The picture posted by Imbesat, made me sit up and decide to put in more effort at cooking than a stir fry, or quick grill and I decided to make it on Wednesday, when we had a few friends over for dinner. There's no fun cooking an entire chicken if there aren't enough people to share it with. Imbesat was hugely encouraging and on Wednesday morning, I got myself a whole chicken.

She was very clear about skinning the chicken before cooking and since I am in the UK and whole chickens come with the skin on, I had my first experience of skinning one. It wasn't too tough, I just used the kitchen scissors occasionally to negotiate the tricky bits near the joints.

I made a few adjustments to the original authentic recipe. I don't have access to Khuskhus in this country (poppy seeds and all of that) and I decided to roast it in the oven instead of pan frying and then pressure cooking it.

For the original recipe and Imbesat's gorgeous pictures take a look at the original on her blog - Khan Paan My friend Rhea of Euphorhea was so excited, she cooked it the next day itself.

I had to wait until the 15th, before I got around to cooking it. Make no mistake, this dish does involve a lot of time and effort and shouldn't be rushed. But believe me, the kitchen smells so good and the soft succulent meat is so good, that it is worth the effort.

My Edited Recipe:


For Marination
1 Chicken(whole, skinless, about 1kg)
1tbsp Curd
1tbsp Garlic paste
salt to taste

For the Stuffing
4 Eggs(boiled, fried)
A handful or 2 Mixed Nuts
1 Onion (sliced, fried crisp, crushed)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

For the Spice Paste
3 Onions (finely sliced, fried crisp)
2 Onions
1" Ginger
3 pods Garlic- 3 pods
4 cardamom
4 Clove
1" Cinnamon

For Cooking
2 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Pepper Powder
2 Bay leaves- 2
3-4 tsp ghee / Clarified Butter
100gms curd / greek yoghurt
2-3 tbsp oil- 2-3tblspns
salt to taste

Method :
For Marination
Wash & clean the skinned chicken. (I reserved the skin & used it while cooking for extra flavour and a bit of fat, just added it in the end, before the whole dish went into the oven)
Prick with a fork at regular intervals.
Mix the curd, salt and garlic paste and apply all over the chicken - inside & outside
Let it rest for at least 2 hours. (this is critical)

For the Stuffing
Take a large pan and fry the onions required for the stuffing and the spice paste (if you don't have fried onions kept aside - I always fry up large batches and put them in the fridge, so they are always on hand for topping biryanis or using in masalas)

Boil the eggs, cool and peel them.
The boiled eggs then need to be fried (no batter).
Deep frying is recommended, but I just fried them in the same pan.
Try and make sure the eggs are dry, before you start frying them, otherwise the oil will splatter all around your kitchen.
(I used 8 eggs, so there would be one for everyone at the table, those that didn't fit inside were arranged around the chicken)

In the same pan, fry the dry fruits.
Mix the dry fruits, fried onion, sugar, lemon juice & salt and crush lightly.

Stuff this mixture inside the chicken, with the fried eggs (as many as you can fit and seal the opening with an egg)

While Imbesat recommends frying and browning the chicken on all sides, after stuffing it, I fried my chicken in the same pan, before I stuffed it - made it easier for me to maneuver the chicken, without worrying about bits and pieces falling out.

For the Spice Paste
Roughly chop the onions and ginger, before blending them all into a smooth paste - you can use a mixi / food processor.

For Cooking
Heat the oil in the same pan.
Add the spice paste, Red chilli powder, black pepper powder, salt and bay leaves and saute the mixture until the oil begins to separate.

Lightly mix the curd until smooth and add to this spice mixture, stirring it for another 5 minutes.

For Roasting
Preheat the oven to 180C
Place the Fried/Browned chicken in a Roasting Dish.
Pour the Cooked Spice Mix over the chicken, making sure some of it gets underneath too.
Arrange all the extra eggs and skin (if using) around the chicken and make sure that they are also generously coated with the spice paste.

Imbesat added water before cooking the chicken in the pressure Cooker, I did not add any and came up with a slightly thicker gravy - more suitable for bread and rotis than rice.

Roast in the oven for whatever time is appropriate for the size of your bird. I had to roast mine for about an hour and a half.

Serve hot and slice at the table.

PS: I was in a hurry to serve and couldn't take very good pictures of the finished dish, but trust me, it was absolutely delicious.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Recipe : Bacon & Cheese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (Veg Option also)

I know I have not posted anything on my blogs for awhile. Please excuse me, we have been in the middle of another International Relocation and this time the paperwork to move our cat with us was quite maddening! It led the dh to exclaim "It would be easier to take a 100 illegal labourers from India to the UK, than to legally move a cat!"

Christmas was extremely quiet after a very long time. We have hosted the family Christmas in our house for the last few years, so it was a bit depressing to be just the 2 of us and the cat for Christmas Day. Especially since Christmas for me has always meant spending it with family. This is the 3rd Christmas of my life, when I haven't been able to spend it surrounded by my parents and siblings.

To make me feel better and snap out of missing everyone at home, we visited the Southbank Christmas Market, went for the Carol Service at St Pauls, Christmas Mass at the 12th Century St James Church next door to our house and finally Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. Christmas here is very different from Christmas in the US (and also India, Egypt and Dubai) All the locals seem to leave town and the city is filled with tourists from the rest of UK and the rest of Europe.

In all our jaunts across town, I rarely hear English being spoken between people, unless it is a business transaction. The guys from whom we bought our phone connections were from India and Sri Lanka. Our Coffee Shop guys all speak fluent Italian (I still follow bits of conversation) and I had a broken Arabic conversation with an Algerian managing a French Pattiserrie.. We had a brilliant meal last week at Daquise - a Polish restaurant. Our neighbours in the building are from Japan and Australia. Yes, we seem to have landed in the middle of a much larger melting pot.

I've been using the oven a lot here (until our shipment of personal furniture and crockery arrives in February, I am making do with rental stuff and they are more conducive to roasts and baking, than dal chawal type meals)

So today I just quickly whipped up a batch of these Bacon & Cheese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms in about 20 minutes from start to finish and they were very yum.

4 Large Portobello mushrooms
salt & pepper to season
Mexican chipotle flakes (my new favourite ingredient, they lend a lovely sweet, spicy, smoky taste to everything - you can substitute with regular chilli flakes)
a handful of bacon lardons - chopped (Marks & Spencer had a special festive bacon lardons on sale which added more flavour to the dish)
a handful of meltable cheese - grated (I usd a mature cheddar)
2-3 drops of oil

Dab the bottom of the mushroom with a bit of oil to prevent sticking.
Preheat the oven to 200C
Season the mushrooms with salt, pepper and chilli flakes (or any herbs of your choice)

Add a few chopped lardons on top of each mushroom.

Top with grated cheese

Pop in the oven for about 10 minutes (depending on the size of your mushrooms)

Serve hot with bread (to mop up the mushroom juices)

Optional : Garnish with chopped herbs of your choice

Option : 
You can make it Vegetarian, by omitting the bacon and mixing 2 types of grated cheese and some chopped herbs like chives.

If you want more substance, substitute the bacon with seasoned mashed potatoes

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Down Memory Lane : Cooking With Mum

My friend Michelle from The Tiffin Box has written a beautiful post on Cooking along with her Mom and so much of it holds true for me too.

I started to comment on her post, but I had so much to say, that I decided, that I should blog about it too and since mum's birthday is coming up, I've scheduled this post to go up for the 9th.

My mum's attitude to cooking is pretty much like Michelle's mums - it was more practical and necessary to start with, than a pleasure (like it is for me). I got my initial love of cooking more from my grandma than my mum, because mum was too busy managing 4 of us kids on her own (dad sails with the Merchant Navy) to be able to "enjoy" cooking - in those days it was more about serving up a healthy balanced nutritious meal on the table. So she mostly needed us out of the kitchen, so she could focus on the multiple things that she had going on simultaneously in the kitchen.

The rare exception was when she baked cakes for special occasions, then we were all allowed to lick the spoons clean and we used to fight over who got the pots/pans/spatulas that had the maximum amount of raw cake mix on it (I know a lot of people would scream "salmonella poisoning", but those were simpler days and if I can eat mayonnaise, I can eat cake batter) She would ask us to help with sieving the flour or managing the hand beater and constantly remind whoever was wielding the beater, not to change direction.

Mum makes excellent cakes (not just tastewise, but also decorative ones) and in those days of 100% home made birthday parties, mum's were some of the best cakes around town. Even today, when my sister travels back to Mangalore, her whole office, requests her to beg mum to bake her chocolate cake with fudge icing. She makes a mean date and walnut cake too. I got my brother who is currently at home in Mangalore on vacation, to dig out some of the pictures of the cakes she baked for our birthdays.

I on the other hand, hate baking and shy away from it, because I hate following instructions accurately, the rebel in me can be quite stubborn, but I'm trying to get over the mental block.

I did however learn to cook some things from my mom, because as the eldest, I would sometimes help her in the kitchen if she had to leave to attend one of my wailing siblings, this often just meant stirring the pot or keeping an eye on something to check if it was done and turn it off at the right time, it later graduated to turning fish over when it was fried on one side, so yes, I did learn a few tricks from her.

Strangely, now when I think back, it was always me whom mum would turn to, to check the "hult" (perfect balance of flavours?) of whatever was being cooked and she still does that to this day.

Mum had done her home science at Nazareth Convent (after an MA in Economics) and she had learned how to cook "Chinese" and other "exotic" stuff for those days, which were only cooked when there was a "dinner party" at home and we got rationed quantities as the food was for the guests! Oh how we resented those guests - we would get 1 large prawn each or half a nargisi kofta (Scotch Egg) and the guests would be plied with unlimited quantities "Have more, have more, otherwise how will I know that you have liked it?" So many of my friends share similar stories with me about our mums in those days.

Normal fare however included basic meat/lentil curries, a vegetable fugath (stir fried with coconut) or tel piyao (simply cooked with onions), fish curry if dad was around or fish fry for us. Dad doesn't like spicy food and the rest of us LOVE it, so it would also mean taking a portion aside for him and adding more chillies to the rest of the food.

A real treat for us would be when she made bacon fried rice or prawn pulao. Mum's repertoire was hugely wider than my grandma's and mum managed her kitchen alone (grandma had maids to help her with prep in the kitchen), so she also looked for quicker recipes when she could find them. The simplest and fastest meal she would cooked at home would be red rice, bimbli saar (dhal with a sour fruit) or chilli saar (a thin heavily spiced soup), fish fry and a vegetable fugath. Even to this day, when I go home to Mangalore, this is what I request her to cook for me for dinner (after a meal of pork and sannas for lunch)

What she cooked, also depended on the tight monthly budget that my dad restricted her to. As the eldest of 13 siblings and his own father almost retired, a lot of his salary was spent on the education, clothing and maintenance of his siblings and the ancestral house. Of course, this realisation came much later, mum never let us feel that we couldn't eat something because it was too expensive, she would buy cheaper cuts of meat or cheaper fish to balance her household budget. Today when she sees the way I buy ingredients from across the globe (when I travel, my shopping is restricted to souvenir magnets, books and food), she shakes her head smiles and says "kai taun aila yeh, tuka?" (where have you got this habit from?)

Nowadays she loves watching the food programs on TV and trying out some of the recipes. She prefers TV recipes to looking at recipe books (she normally uses recipe books only for trying out a new cake)

She recently baked a variety of breads whose recipes she got from different shows. She loves cooking in my house because I have loads of ingredients that are sometimes difficult to find in Mangalore (however, I rarely give up control of my kitchen to her).

All said and done, mum and I have extremely different styles of cooking. I can assist her in the kitchen, or I will sometimes ask for her help if I'm in a rush to pack B's lunch, but its difficult for me to cook simultaneously with her. If I'm cooking something (esp if its in my house) I let her finish whatever she wants to make or I have requested her to cook, and then I scrub down the kitchen and only then do I begin my own cooking.

In my first job in Bangalore, I remember mum coming to visit and then reorganising my kitchen (while I was at office) in an order she thought made more sense and then I would have to re-re-organise my whole kitchen after she left, to be able to find anything and achieve any speed at cooking.

As we kids have grown up and left the nest, Mum has slowly discovered the joy of cooking and enjoys cooking for us or anyone who is visiting. However she hates washing up, whereas for me washing up is extremely therapeutic and calming.

We have extremely different attitudes to cooking, but have the same attitude when it comes to feeding others - the more the merrier. While I may not copy my mom in her attitude and style of cooking, it is she who has shaped me into the cook I am today. Love you mommy and Very Happy Birthday to You :)

Monday, September 01, 2014

#10foodbookchallenge - My Top 10

 There's a tagging round going on, on facebook asking friends to list their top 10 favourite books that are at the top of their mind and I too participated in that, my list is here.

My friend Rushina, also issued a #10foodbookchallenge, so in random order, here are the top 10 books that come to my mind :

1. Home Encyclopaedia - J B Lobo - I know I will never have to deworm a cow or convert royal blue ink to blue black or hide hemline marks while altering an outfit or prepare a pond for stocking baby fish - but this was the first cookbook I ever read, since this was the only cookbook my nana owned and occasionally referred to.

2. Mangalore Ladies Club cookbook - for its Manglorean recipe section

3. Korma, Kheer, Kismet - Pamela Timms - if I ever get around to writing a book - this is what I would aspire to - a blend of food memories, recipes, history and culture with loads of passion.

4. Savour Mumbai: A Culinary Journey Through India's Melting Pot - Vikas Khanna - the recipes are spot on and resemble the ones I have eaten at these famous restaurants in Mumbai.

5. Cooking with Pedatha - Jigyasa Giri & Pratibha Jain - Feels like I'm eating at Pedatha's table myself when I cook from this book.

6. Biryani - Pratibha Karan - the subject matter is reason enough for me to love this one and what an assortment of Biryanis it covers from all across the country!

7. Following Fish - Samanth Subramaniam - love the quirky yet brilliant travel tale

8. Rude Food - Vir Sanghvi - love his columns for the width and depth of information - the book is a great collection of his columns

9. Will Write For Food - Dianne Jacob - so much to learn from this book about Food Writing

10. Fat Duck Cookbook - Heston Blumenthal - I keep going back to it, just to look at the pictures


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