Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Creamy Corn and Scallions Tart for Freedom Tree Baking Contest at IFBM 2014


Corn is supposed to be first cultivated in Mexico and then spread across to the other continents through Europe. However the dish I have made today is inspired by a very Indian rather Indoori Bhutte ka kees which I absolutely adore. I have given it my own twist and done a fusion that you will surely enjoy.

This recipe is an entry for Freedom Tree Baking Contest at IFBM 2014.


Before we go to the recipe, I must share a wonderful story that we used in Knowledge Management. Many of you have wondered what I did for a living. Well that is what I did I was a Knowledge Manager, mutter the names of few IT companies that you can think of 1-2-3 stop, I used to work for one of it. Going back to the story...

There was a farmer in Mexico who grew the best quality corn. His fame was such that one day a North American journalist decided to dig out the secret to the quality of the corn. He came prepared with a team of scientist to analyse the quality of the grain and soil. The soil did not show any outstanding characteristics but the grain did. They found the farmer cared for his crop a lot and yet when other farmers came to him for help or request for seed he happily shared it with them. That surprised the N. American journalist. 
He thought let me educate the farmer. He went on to advice, you must protect your grain, do not distribute. You must have monopoly of the best corn in Mexico. Which means you will earn the highest. Soon the journalist returned to his country.
The next year again the N. American journalist decided to do an interview of the farmer thinking that this time the farmer would be a richer man. To his surprise the farmer was still the same.
On further insisting why he had not monopolised the corn this is the answer the farmer gave to the N. American journalist. "My corn is best because the neighbors grow good corn too with the seeds I share. I work harder to protect my corn from diseases but the pollination happens by wind. If the pollens from my neighboring fields was bad quality the quality of my corn will also drop. That is the reason I share not just my seeds but also my knowledge.
The N. American journalist's face fell at how petty his thoughts had been and took back with him not just the secret to the great corn grown by the Mexican farmer but also a lesson in nobility. 
(I am not able to trace the origins of this story but it has been retold so many times with everyone adding their own touch)

At the Indian Food Bloggers Meet 2014 this story is what you will see unfold, learn from the community members who are generous enough to share and from professionals outside the community who have given the time to share their knowledge with us. I am all set. What about you?

Now tune in here as I share this recipe. I wish I win the exclusive bakeware hamper from Freedom Tree!

Ingredients

For the Corn Tart shell

1/2 cup makkai ka atta/ milled corn flour
3/4 cup maida / all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
100 gms salted butter (Amul)

Melt the butter. In a large bowl measure out the makkai ka atta and maida. Add the sugar to it. Pour the melted butter over it and knead. It should form a soft dough. 

Tip : If required add about 2 tablespoon of chilled water to bind the flours. I did not use water at all as I was using bake and serve tart plates and there was no need to demoulded it.

In two 6 inch bake and serve tart plates press the Corn Tart dough to evenly line the bottom. Cover with cling wrap and keep in the fridge for 30 mins. While it is chilling prep for the Creamy corn.

Preheat oven to 180 deg celcius and blind bake Corn Tart shell for 25 mins till golden.



For the Creamy Corn

2 sweet corns
2 scallion with bulbs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon cumin
15-20 curry leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
2 tablespoon butter

With a scissor snip the scallions into small bits. Keep bulbs aside for garnishing.

Remove kernels of corn and keep aside, about 1/2 cup. Grate the remaining one full corn plus the remaining half. It should yield a cup of grated corn, keep the liquid too which releases while grating.

Now heat the butter till it melts in a wok. Add asafoetida, then cumin, brown it till fragrant. Add the curry leaves. Now add the whole corn kernels first. Pour milk into the wok. Cook for 5 mins. Then add the grated corn. Keep stirring as it thickens a bit but is still creamy about 3 mins. Finally add the scallion greens. Salt the dish. 

For garnish
scallion bulbs ( I had 5)
cashews
raisins


Assembling the tart

In the blind baked Corn Tart shell fill the Creamy corn. Level it out evenly with a spoon. Garnish with scallion bulbs, cashew and raisins.

Bake again for 15 to 18 mins to let the creamy corn set in the tart shell.

Remove from oven and serve warm. Though I served it with ketchup and mustard sauce none of us touched it. The tart was so good on its own!


To explain the taste, the shell is crunchy with the sugar and makkai atta, quite buttery. The creamy corn is sweetish savory with slight pungency from the scallions when you bite into a snipping. The cumin and butter perfumes the creamy corn along with the asafoetida and curry leaves.

Note: I haven't use green or red chilli in this dish though it is savory. If you wish to add heat feel free to do so.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kokan Nexus for Urban Dazzle's Contest at IFBM 2014


was announced and I was excited about creating a drink that can make me a winner!

They say the best creation is under duress so here I am waiting until last minute to creat and post. With motivation and inspiration from Urban Dazzle's product range I have chosen flavors from the land I come, Kokan or coastal Maharashtra. Hapoos, Coconut and Pomegranate spiced with black pepper and mustard seeds.Yes mustard seeds taste the mocktail and I'd love to hear what you think of it. 

Besides this I have brought the lush green of the Kokan into this drink by using sprigs of mint both to flavor and to dress it up. The pomegrante bejewels the mocktail and elevates it further. 

Won't you want to make it with me now?

Servings 2

Ingredients



The Pomegranate Jewels

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
water

Make pomegranate jewels in advance and keep them available when you plan to make this mocktail.

Fill an ice tray with pomegranate arils and top it with water. Freeze overnight to get lovely ruby ice cubes. I used an ice tray with small cells for this as they look dainty than the standard large ones.


The paste and extract
2-3 tablespoons fresh grated coconut
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
100 ml water

Make a paste with coconut, mustard seeds and 100ml water. Strain it thru a fine sieve to extract the thick liquid. Discard the cake left behind after extraction. Keep aside the extract.

The rest of the mocktail
150 ml Hapoos mango pulp (from my Eshop)
100 ml water
30 ml honey
1/2 teaspoon pink salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

In a drink shaker measure out exactly mango pulp, water and honey. Add salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to ensure honey is dissolved completely and the salt and pepper is homogenized.

At this point add the 100 ml coconut and mustard extract. Just shake once to mix.

Pour out the mocktail in a measuring cup. You will have a total of aproximately 380ml liquid.


The Final Touch
2 sprigs of fresh mint (from my Window Grill Box)


Prepare 2 elegant tumblers (350 ml) by adding to them the Pomegranate Jewels, 20 of the small cubes in each.

Take the sprigs of fresh mint in hand. Except the top 3-4 leaves remove rest of the leaves and drop them into the tumbler. Place the sprig of mint standing in the tumbler which now looks like a tree.

Divide the mocktail into the 2 tumblers, 190 ml each.

Serve immediately to your family or guests and see them enjoy every sip.


To enjoy the drink, sip slowly move it around in the mouth feel the smoothness of Hapoos and coconut. Crunch on the Pomegranate jewels and the mint leaves. Take another sip notice the faint pungency of mustard seeds. Wait and feel your throat warm up to the black pepper. Enjoy the slow sips over wonderful conversations or go to your favorite nook at home and sit with a book.


I would love to serve it in the Urban Dazzle's Longchamp Highball Tumbler 360ml. It is the right volume for this mocktail and the design is regal so it goes with my theme of jeweled ice cubes and the smoothness and warmth of my Konkan Nexus!

Friday, July 25, 2014

My Plum and Cheese Crescents go to KitchenAid Contest at IFBM 2014


These Plum and cheese crescents are going to the KitchenAid India Plum Challenge at IFBM 2014.

Look at this recipe in two parts and pace it over two days. Infact it's two recipes I am sharing here. We are talking slow life here, it also means ease.

We make the Plum jam first and then roll up the crescents.

Day 1 : Making Plum and Honey Jam with Star Anise

Ingredients
6 Plums, ripe yet firm
1/2 cup water
6  nos. star anise
1/2 cup honey


In a saucepan measure out the water and set it to boil. Meanwhile slice and dice the plums discard the seeds. Once it starts rolling add the diced plums into the water. Drop in the Star anise. Let it cook till the diced fruit is soft about 10 -15 mins. At this point scoop out the Star anise and discard. Pass the cooked plums thru a medium mesh to get a puree. I put back the fruit skin but if you don't like remove it now.

Add the honey and boil on slow to reduce the liquid. We need a thick jam to be used as filling for the crescents. So boil until a spoon dipped in it gets a thick coat of jam clinging to it. Or do this test. Chill a plate in the fridge and drop the boiling jam on it. If it forms a skin immediately the jam is done. Remove from heat.

I poured it into a plate. After cooling completely, set the plate to chill in the fridge overnight.

So there you have the first recipe for Plum and Honey Jam with Star Anise.

Incase you are making a large batch just multiply the proportions of the ingredients. After making the jam cool it to room temperature and store in a clean dry jar. It should stay good for atleast a month. For longer preservation you may want to do canning.

____________________________________

The second part is the basic recipe for Crescent rolls that are so versatile. However since this recipe is going to KitchenAid India's Plum Challenge we are going to use the Plum jam along with cheese for the filling. The Crescent rolls are eggless and like us if you are vegetarians you will love this recipe.

So sleep well at night and the next day when you have time for a 2-3 hour stretch or when you are working on other things in the kitchen start with the dough for the crescents. Its a simple no nonsense dough.

Day 2 : Making my Plum and Cheese Crescents


Ingredients

The dough
2 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter (I use Amul which is salted butter)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoon curd
3/4th tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup butter for rolling and brushing

Warm the water add the yeast to it to dissolve. In the Food Processor bowl measure out the all purpose flour and follow in with sugar and butter. Run the FP on slow to let the butter form crumbs with the flour and sugar. Now add the curd and yeast liquid. Run the FP on medium to form a ball. The dough will feel slightly sticky as it has sugar but that is ok. Cover and keep till the dough doubles. This is the first proofing of the dough.  It may take 30 mins to 40 mins (In Mumbai its warm and humid) elsewhere look at the doubled volume and not time.


After the first rise. Punch down the dough to remove air. On a clean counter spread some butter. Roll out the dough into a 15 inch circle. Cut out 16 wedges from the circle.

The steps for Filling
16 nos. 1 inch squares of processed cheese (Amul)
Plum and Honey Jam with Star Anise

Take each wedge and roll it out a bit thin. Put a spoonful of Plum jam at the broad end of the triangle leaving about an inch of space for rolling. Top it with a cube of cheese. Now start rolling from the broad end so you have the pointed end closing in. Bend a little bit to give it a crescent shape. 

These days I use my low and high oven racks to bake by covering them with aluminium foil. That way I maximize the space utilization as well as power consumption. You can also follow the standard practice of using a baking sheet or tray. Line up the crescents on the foil covered racks or tray. Let the crescents proof to double up, this is the second rise for the dough.

Preheat oven to 200 deg Celsius.

Bake the rolls for 15 mins or till they are slightly golden. Remove from the oven and brush the rolls with butter. Allow to cool for 10 mins. 

Best enjoyed when still warm. But watch out don't pop them in your mouth hot, the oozing plum jam can scald the tongue! When you bite into the Plum and Cheese Crescents, the first bite is buttery roll filled with Plum jam and mild notes of Star anise when you hit the cheese its different, slightly savoury bite. Together its deliciousness. That's why I use the cheese cubes instead of grating it. There is a surprise factor to it which makes every bite enjoyable.


The home smelt awesome with the warm baking aromas of buttery dough, plum jam and the mild notes of star anise. I took a tray full to my music class to share. Everyone enjoyed it and Snehal even asked for a piece to take home for her daughter. The smiles said it all.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Growing Kothimbir


Last week Dad brought home a small bunch of Kothimbir or Cilantro for Rs.25!

Thank God I had already sowed the seeds for Cilantro in my pots and wherever I found place.

Cilantro or Kothimbir is the most favorite herb used in Indian cuisine. We give all our dishes a very generous sprinkle as garnish. We relish green chutneys with coconut or mint or just plain cilantro chutney with many a fried snack or just to change taste while enjoying a Thali meal.

But have you tried growing Cilantro? It is one of the tricky things I have grown till now. Many times I have tried and failed. I have followed the good advice of the Gardengeek but with no success.


Here is how I grew it, finally thrilled to see the fresh green Kothimbir. I am going be stingy in using it.

Take a handful of coriander seeds with a Hawaii slipper rub the seeds gently on the floor. this will split it into two. Now let me correct the notion here. The spice we call coriander seeds is in fact the fruit and when you rub and split it what you see are the two seeds encased in it. By splitting the coriander fruit we are helping the seed to germinate quicker. This is a great tip by Geekgardner. But wait.

Now in a 2-3 inch deep tray like container fill up the soil.

Sow the split coriander fruit and water lightly. Keep it moist and not soggy. This is very important. The seeds will germinate in 2-3 weeks.
You will see the oval false leaves coming up and only around 4 weeks you will see properly formed leaves. 

My Kothimbir is in the 6th week now.

For continous harvest of the Kothimbir sow new seeds every 2 weeks. Pull out the roots after the 3rd harvest of Kothimbir which will complete 1 lifecycle. Meanwhile the new greens will be ready to use.

Tip: 
This herb requires less water and a growing media with low water retention.

Harvest : 
Use scissors to harvest the cilantro. Cut atleast 2 inches about the root after 2 more weeks when it is ready to use. You can get 2-3 harvest from it.

Cleaning for Use:
Rise in water to remove any earth. Handle delicately to maintain the freshness of the green leaves.

Some uses:
You know cilantro is grown to use as garnish and chutney but have you tried the Marathi Kothimbir vadi yet? You must I have 2 versions on this blog.

1. Kothimbir Vadi
2. Rolled and sliced KothimbirVadi

Monday, July 14, 2014

Aai's Bharli Vangi and Bombay Times

That placemat is from my Aai's collection. 
It is one of the mementos given by MJ Kaka to her.

It's been long since I last made Aai's Bharli Vangi. I have been home alone for 2 weeks now and how I hated to cook for myself. I lived on scraps of bread and veggies just stir fried or ate Usal just on its own. I didn't bother to even rustle up a crunchy salad. Then one day I decided to go all the way out and make the DaL- bhaat, Bharli vangi and Rice roti meal.

I laid out everything on the floor as its easy to take a top shot of the floor than of the table. I was so hungry after I was done with the shoot and after all the cooking that I just squatted on the floor and started eating. One morsel of the vanga/ aubergine and my eyes welled up. It was the taste of my Mom's hand. 

It had been raining that day and though this is the 3rd monsoon after I have returned to my city of birth, every monsoon brings back memories of my Aai walking me to school. Me clad in a raincoat ofcourse and Aai in the umbrella with her saree hooked up a bit to avoid messing in the dirty water on the road. Of returning home wet and she handing me out the towel. I'd dump the clothes in the bathroom meanwhile she would have made ginger tea and pulled out the tin of khari or fried hot kanda bhajji which she would have prepped up before I came back home.

Monsoons in Mumbai are so different from Bangalore. We have just 4 months of it and those four months are the most cherished. On twitter, a question was thrown up, if it was OK to eat Bombay duck in the monsoons. To which I replied, if it is available there was no harm in enjoying a good fry. Ofcourse the fishing in closed in the Monsoons. If it is available in the market it's a prized catch as someone has risked their life to go out into the ferocious sea. This conversation lead Ismat Tahseen to call me up and ask a few questions. Here is the article which was published in Bombay Times with me talking on regional variation of  the fries and my Bombil coconut curry. 

 Bombay Times
click on the image to read the full article
Aai would have been proud. Her daughter who did not like helping in the kitchen as a kid but grew up to a teenager who started taking interest in cooking, learning from her father, to having this passion for all things food! 

This post is in her memory on her day and time when she flew off to merge into the universe. Aai I miss you, it has been 20 years and as the years pass I miss you even more. 


L-R : Masoor DaL on steamed rice, Bharla Vanga and Rice roti


Ingredients

10- 12 nos. small brinjals/ aubergines/ vangi
2 large onions 
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon red chili powder or less 
1 teaspoon Goda masala/ curry powder
1 tablespoon jaggery/ raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoon oil
1 cup water


Make the stuffing

Grind onions to coarse consistency. Mix into it chili powder, cilantro, curry powder or Goda masala, salt and jaggery. Save.

Now remove the caps of the small aubergines wash and slit them once turn and slit them again to 3/4th way down to get a nice deep cross. Make sure they are all good inside. 

Next stuff them with the onion coriander masala stuffing.

Once you are ready with all the stuffed aubergines. Take a wok. Heat oil in it. Place the stuffed aubergines in it. Cover and cook for 5 mins. Remove the lid and turn them around just once all off them with a gentle hand. Now add the water. Cook for 10 mins with the lid on.




Shake the wok around that will give a turn around to the aubergines. DO NOT USE A SPATULA. Cooked aubergines are delicate and should never be turned around with a spatula, else you end up with a mess.

Once all water is dried up, put off the heat. Cover and keep until you are ready to serve.


These stuffed aubergines or Bharli Vangi are deliciously sweet and savory at the same time. Serve them with your favorite bread or eat just like that.

I am also posting this recipe for my friend Penny who requested it. She is soon to be blessed with an harvest of her homegrown aubergines so hope she gets to try this recipe.

Notes for Penny: You can skip the Goda masala and use lesser red chili powder as you can handle. The main flavor of this dish is from the cooked and partly caramelized onion paste used as stuffing. 


I hope all of you try this recipe and let me know how you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Summer Rolls Wrapped Snug



So you read the post on the Colaba fish market by Manisha on her blog Indian Food Rocks.

I have taken for ever to post the story of our meeting but you have read about it on Manisha's so let me tease you with the wonderful gifts that she brought for me instead. I was able to have a new experience in the culinary world.

I made summer rolls, Yay! I haven't found rice paper easily in Mumbai or may be I did not look for it in the right places. I would think Crawford Market has it all after all Mumbai gets everything from all over the world. If you can't get it in Mumbai there is lesser chance you will get it in anyother Indian city. Anyways when I saw the rice paper I was thrilled and immediately I wanted to make those 'baby in the womb' summer rolls. Don't wince that's what I think of, in a cute way when I see pics of summer rolls wrapped in the thin rice paper. Technically it is not rice paper but rather Tapioca paper so says the packet label too. 


So when Manisha gifted this wrapper to me along with these other lovely gifts. I was already picturizing myself being double happy doing the things she did. I was tempted to take that shot of rice paper against the light just to show you again how beauty lies in transparency.

I had papaya on hand so sprouted some moong beans a day ahead for Som Tam. Just as Dad was wondering if we were going to eat only Som Tam as we prefer a soup or a crunchy something to go with it. I set the table up. He was surprised what a bowl of hot water was doing at the table. I did a demo for him once but he did not pick up the rolling bit, He was rolling them loose. So I decided to make the rolls for him and rolled them nice and snug.

The only thing I want to change here is use of lettuce leaves instead of cabbage leaves. I was lazy not to go get lettuce from the market. The cabbage is stiffer than lettuce so it tends to tear the wrapper if you are not careful. Taste wise it will be a different experience too.

So here are my completely vegetarian Summer rolls no they are not Asian veg, they are Indian veg!

Ingredients 

For Som Tam

300gms green raw papaya
1/2 cup cucumber
1/2 cup moong sprouts
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 green onions (I did not have them)
2 nos. fresh red chili
2 nos. limes
4 tablespoons Palm jaggery (I used Date palm jaggery) 
3 tablespoons soya sauce
4 cloves garlic 
2-3 tablespoons coarsely crushed peanuts
15 lettuce leaves (I used cabbage, not a good idea)
Salt if required

First peel n wash the green raw papaya. Cut open, deseed if there are seeds in it; mine did not have any as I had bought a tender small one. Shred the papaya, I used a mandolin for it. 

Shred the cucumbers too. I kept the skins on as I used green cucumbers and I like a little texture and color.

There were 2 red Jalapenos on my plant in the window which turned out right for this recipe. Slit them, deseeded and julienned them.

Now in a big salad plate mix together the shredded papaya, cucumber, red chili juliennes, moong sprouts and cilantro. I did not have spring onions on hand so skipped them.

Next in a measuring jug squeeze out the juice of 2 limes. Add the jaggery to it followed by the soya sauce. Mince the garlic and add to it. Mix well with a spoon to disolved the jaggery. This is the dressing for the salad.

Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well to coat. Finally sprinkle the coarsely crushed peanuts over it.

I did not use any extra salt as the soya sauce is already salty enough but if you need more pl. go ahead and use it.

The Peanut sauce for dipping

1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup oil
2 cloves garlic
1 no. lime 
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1 cup water

Grind the roasted peanuts with the oil  and garlic to a creamy consistency in a chutney grinder. I ground it to creamy yet chunky consistency. Squeeze into it the juice of 1 lime. Add soya sauce to it. Add the water to make the sauce. Give it a whir again. Remove the sauce to a bowl. 

To serve


Lay out on the table the Som Tam salad plate, a hot water bowl, wrapper paper and the dipping sauce.

Step 1. Dip the wrapper paper in the hot water.
Step 2. Lay it on your plate. Wait 30 sec for it to soften.
Step 3. Place the lettuce leaf. Make sure you are removing the rib. Spoon on it Som Tam.
Step 4. Wrap the Salad with the softened wrapper paper into a snug roll, Keep dipping your finger into the water if they become sticky.
Step 5. Enjoy the freshest roll with the peanut dipping sauce!

Thank you Manisha again for the lovely gifts. The zataar was used in my first catering order as you know. I am still using the shower gel and body lotion too. Making them last longer as they are gifts from a smart and lovely friend like you.

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