Monday, September 30, 2013

Homemade chenna / paneer

I have come across recipes, some calling for chenna and others for paneer. I always thought that both are same but a slight doubt still lingered in my mind and hence I turned to google for more light on this. Wikipedia says that the slight difference lies in the fact that  chenna  is softer because unlike paneer, it is not pressed ( or, in some cases, pressed for a shorter period than paneer ). Nevertheless, most people use these names interchangeably.

Well, whats in a name ? Both paneer and chenna are my favorite ingredients to work with. The freshness of homemade paneer / chenna is truly something to talk about. So here I am , sharing this wonderful recipe for you to raise that wow factor of your paneer dishes a few notches higher :)

Ingredients : 

Full fat milk - 1 litre ( gave me 164 gms paneer )
Lemon juice - 2 tbsp ( or more if required )
You can use vinegar instead of lemon juice.

Method :
1. Line a strainer/ colander with a muslin cloth and place the strainer over a vessel to collect the whey.
2.  Heat milk in a pan and bring it to a boil.
3. Remove from flame and wait for about a minute.
4. Add the lemon juice slowly, stirring all the while till the milk curdles ( you will see the milk solids separate from the greenish whey ). Don’t add any more lemon.
5.  Quickly strain this curdled milk through the strainer / colander. The cheese will get collected in the cloth and the whey will drain out into the vessel underneath. You can use this whey in dals, soups or for making chapati dough.
6.  Run cold water through the cheese. This is to make it soft and also to remove the lemon flavor.
7.  Bring the edges of the cloth together and tie into a knot.  Squeeze out all water by pressing over the cheese.
8.  Tie this cloth with the cheese above your kitchen sink and keep hanging for about 2 - 3 hrs. This will drain out all the water.
9.  After draining the water by hanging, remove the cheese on a clean  towel / napkin and place some heavy weight on the cheese so that any moisture , if still present is removed. The pressing time will be half and hour for chenna and about 2 hours for paneer.
10.  Then gently press the chenna with your palm back and forth to remove lumps and knead into a smooth dough. If you want neatly cut squares of paneer, shape the dough into a rectangular slab ( see picture above ) and refrigerate for a while till it becomes a little harder , just enough to cut into sqares with neat edges.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How to make Khoya / Mawa

Mawa / khoya is a key ingredient in most Indian sweets and some savories and curries as well. It lends a wonderful rich taste which is hard to find in its substitutes. I live outside of India where mawa is impossible to find but that didn’t deter me…remember “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. So when the urge to make some gulab jamuns with khoya got the better of me, I sent an “emergency” message to my friend Shireen who said it could be made at home but is a bit time consuming. 

The procedure might sound daunting what with the amount of time taken ( It took me about 1.5 hrs ) but for some like me who loves to make things from scratch, the task is quite therapeutic and satisfying.  Sweets with fresh homemade mawa will taste far better than the store bought ones. Also, when compliments flow in , you know you deserve it totally :) Because, you did it from scratch  !!!

Go ahead…make some today !!

Recipe idea : Shireen 

Ingredients :
Full fat milk - 1 litre

Gave me 170 gms mawa

Method :
Boil milk in a heavy bottom wide pan. Once it starts boiling, lower the flame and let simmer on low flame. The milk will start reducing. Keep stirring with a spatula every 1- 2 minutes. The milk solids might get stuck to the sides and the bottom of the pan. For this, keep scraping the sides and the bottom with the spatula. Once the milk gets significantly reduced ( about 1/4th of original volume ), keep scraping and stirring continuously till you get a yellowish mass of solid ( might take about 1 - 1.5 hrs ) which is the mawa/ khoya. Remove from flame wherein it will further solidify. Use immediately or refrigerate for future use.

Points to remember :
 Do use a heavy bottom pan and remember to keep scraping the sides and the bottom of the pan every 1- 2  minutes at first and continuously towards the end when the milk is turning into solids. This is to prevent milk from scorching.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Katherine hepburn brownies

Hello readers…I haven’t been blogging much in the past few days…a lot happening around which is keeping me occupied but that doesn’t deter me from being on the lookout for some interesting recipes which I can cook/ bake and more importantly, blog about :)

One such browsing session brought me to this brownie recipe which by its name, sounded quite interesting !! I just had to bake these beauties and was waiting for the right time ( though there isn’t any right time to bite into chocolate…chocolate is for ANYTIME and EVERYTIME..I can imagine chocolate lovers smiling out there :) ) . Ok, so the right time came soon. Some friends planned a get - together and I decided to bake these for them. 

They are so dense and chocolate-y. I just couldn’t stop at one ( err…four actually ). You will not either..Don’t trust me ? Bake them and then see… You can thank me later…just kidding : )..Do check out my other brownie recipes as well…Mocha brownie and Cocoa brownie

Credits : Joy of baking
Makes - 16 brownies

Ingredients :
Unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped - 60 gms ( 2 ounces )
Unsalted butter, cut into pieces - 113 gms ( 1/2 cup )
Granulated white sugar - 200 gms ( 1 cup )
Eggs - 2 large
Vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
All purpose flour (maida) - 30 gms ( 1/4 cup )
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Chopped walnuts or pecans ( optional ) - 100 gms ( 1 cup )

Method :
1.  Get some things ready  - Preheat oven to 325º F or 165º C and place rack in the center of the oven.
Grease an 8 inch ( 20 cms ) square baking pan with butter and dust some flour or line with parchment paper ( I used a slightly bigger pan and hence the flat brownies ).
2.  Melt the chocolate and butter by placing it in a heat-proof bowl kept on a pot of simmering  water (double broiler method).
3. Remove from the flame and mix in the sugar.
4. Then stir in the vanilla extract and add the eggs one by one. Whisk well to incorporate after each addition.
5.  Finally, stir in the flour, salt and nuts , if using.
6.  Pour this batter into the pan and bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before cutting into pieces.

Linking this recipe to “Bake fest “ hosted by Palachinka flagged off by Vardhini of Cook’s joy

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bulgur (dalia) upma

Breakfast has been the most important meal in the house and an integral part of my growing up years. Come rain or sun…mum would never fail to start the day with a hearty and nutritious breakfast. I miss waking up to the aroma of hot and piping idlis, dosas, upma and poha. More than the dishes, I miss my mum’s touch to it because I still prepare these at home but they simply don’t taste like the way my mum makes them. Guess, her unwavering love for the family has something to do with it..Hope my son feels the same when he grows up :)

Upma was the most frequenty made breakfast item at home. I know many who despise it but in my family, it was a winner hands-down…so obviously, it was a regular at home. I had never tasted dalia upma  since mum always used to make rava upma and I continued the same post marriage. But relocation to a place where it was hard to find the thick variety of rava ( semolina/sooji ) , I had to make do with a substitute (the South-Indian girl in me just couldn't  think of staying away from upma for long ).

So, while browsing the grocery shelves one day, I laid my hands on bulgur or dalia, as they call in India. I brought home a packet and decided to make upma with it. Well, I was happy with the results so much so that my family likes this one better than the regular rava upma. I can’t keep this from sharing with you, can I ? So here goes…go ahead and please your family too :)

Ingredients :
Bulgur ( dalia ) - 1 cup
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida ( hing ) - a pinch
Turmeric powder ( optional ) - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - one sprig
Onion, finely chopped - 1 medium
Tomato, finely chopped (optional ) - 1 small
Green chillies, chopped - 2-3 (depending upon the desired spice levels )
Ginger, grated - 1/2 inch piece
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar ( optional ) - 1 tsp
Hot water - 2 1/2 cups

Method :
1.  In a pan, dry roast the dalia on slow flame till a nice aroma starts to come out of it. Remove from flame and keep aside.
2.  Heat 2 tbsp oil in the same pan. Once hot, add in the and mustard seeds and let them crackle.
3.  Then add the urad dal and let it brown slightly. Then goes in the hing and curry leaves. Take in the heady aroma at this stage :) Now go ahead
4.  Add the chopped onions and sauté until golden brown ( I always add some salt to brown them patience you see :)….but remember this when you add salt again later )
5.  Add the green chillies and ginger and sauté for a while.
6.  Now, comes the tomato. Saute for a while till they are a little soft ( but not pulpy ). Do not worry because they will cook further on adding hot water. Throw in the turmeric powder and mix again.
7.  Next, add the roasted dalia and stir for a few seconds just to incorporate the flavors well.
8.  Add the hot water, sugar and salt. Mix well. Lower the flame, cover the pan with a lid and let cook on a slow flame till the daliya is cooked well. It will take up all the water. If the daliya is still stiff and uncooked, add some more water and let simmer on low flame for a few more seconds.
9.  Serve hot with a cup of filter kaapi :)

Notes :
I have presented here a basic recipe of upma. To this, you can add  vegetables of your choice. Go ahead and add in the peas, carrots and green beans ( or any of your favorites ).

Linking this recipe to “Healthy breakfast “ event hosted by Nandoo’s kitchen

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cocoa brownies

Im back with another recipe of a sinfully delicious brownie. It has been a while since I baked anything with chocolate in it but was warding off this (EVIL ) thought ever since I dumped off yet another set of clothes since I couldn’t fit into them. Well, thats  another sad story….Sigh !!

Yesterday, we had a friend and her husband drop over to invite us home for dinner. How I beamed ear to ear at the thought…No, not of the feast that lay ahead but that I now have an opportunity to bake something as a gift when I visit them. Also, this would be such a guilt-free trip. I get to have that heady feeling on baking something and also I don’t necessarily have to eat it : )…Yes, I surprise myself quite often nowadays by being just happy baking and not wanting to lunge at my bakes…hope this continues till the discarded set of clothes reappear in my wardrobe…OK , I promise I am not going to talk about my sob story anymore.

So finally I decided to make some brownies since the friend and her husband are both lovers of brownies. I searched and searched for a good brownie recipe and found it here. What struck me about this recipe is that it is purely made out of cocoa powder…yes, no chocolate bar here !! I definitely wanted to try this since I had baked one using melted chocolate before ( Check out the Mocha brownies recipe )…So try I did and it baked wonderfully. I gave in to my temptation and bit into just a teeny weeny piece and I had to resist the urge to take another…So addictive they were !!

One note of caution…If you want neat pieces of brownies, please please please refrigerate for a while and then cut the chilled block . I didn’t and the pictures say it all !! So don’t be like me unless of course you don’t care how they look :)

The recipe ??  Here goes….I have given both the volume and weight measurements …but I personally prefer the weight measurement since they are more accurate.

Credits : Alice Merdich's recipe from FOOD52
Makes 16 large or 25 small brownies

Ingredients :

10 tbsp OR 1 1/4 sticks (140 gms ) of unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups ( 250 gms ) granulated sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp ( 87 gms ) of unsweetened cocoa powder ( natural or Dutch process )
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup ( 65 gms ) all purpose flour
2/3 cup ( 75 gms ) walnut or pecan pieces ( optional )

Method :

1.  Preheat the oven to 325º F or 165º C . Line the bottom and sides of 8 x 8 inch square pan ( I used a 9 x 4 inch loaf pan ) with parchment paper leaving a little to overhang on two opposite  sides ( makes it easier to lift the brownie when done ).
2.  Take the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a heat proof bowl. Place this bowl over a pot of simmering hot water and keep stirring while the butter melts. Once the butter has melted completely and you get a shiny dark mixture, turn off the flame and keep the mixture to cool until it is only warm.
3.  Now, add in the vanilla extract and the eggs , one at a time. Stir vigorously until well blended.
4.  Then stir in the flour and mix well so that no traces of the flour remain. Beat the batter vigorously for 40 strokes. The author mentions this so as to straighten the batter.
5.  Lastly stir in the nuts and spread the mixture evenly into the pan.
6.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean with a few moist crumbs still sticking to the toothpick. It takes about 20 - 25 minutes ( depending upon your oven ).
7.  Remove and cool completely by placing on a wire rack. Refrigerate and then cut if you desire neatly cut pieces.
8.  Serve with a glass of milk or a dollop of vanilla ice-cream. Enjoyyy !!!

Linking this recipe to Shruti’s ‘Sweet Celebration’ Event :)
Sweet Celebration

Also sending this recipe to “ What’s with my cuppa “ event hosted by Avika flagged off by Nupur

and to “ Bake fest “ hosted by Marija of Palachinka and flagged off by Vardhini of Cook’s joy

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Manglorean Fish fry

Fish is a staple in our household. Though I wasn't very fond of non - vegetarian food ( thanks to all the animal dissections that I witnessed and performed during my college days ), things changed tremendously post marriage. Enter the husband who is a "PURE" non vegetarian and in a bid to please his taste buds with non vegetarian fare, meat became a regular in my kitchen. Though hesitatingly at first, I slowly started to enjoy the various meat delicacies. Given a choice , I  prefer fish to meat any time.

Talking about fish, salmon is an absolute favorite…so meaty and tasty. And as luck would have it, I had a chance to live in beautiful Norway for a brief period , which boasts of the one of the world/s best salmon produce. We had this salmon fry with the humble dal rice and such a treat it was…. the perfect hearty meal.

The recipe ?? Here goes….

Ingredients :

Fish , of your choice ( I took salmon )  - 500 gms, cut into pieces
Red chilli powder - 3 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 2 tsp
Ginger - garlic paste  -  1 tbsp
Lemon juice  - from half a lemon
Salt - a bit more than "to taste"
*( I added 1 tbsp salt…the masala should be a bit more salty than suits your palate..the fish will absorb it well so do not worry).
Semolina ( or rice flour ) - to coat the fish pieces
Oil - to shallow fry

Method :

1. Wash and clean the fish. Pat dry and keep aside.
2.  Mix the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, ginger-garlic paste , lemon juice and salt to form a paste.
3.  Coat the fish well from all sides with the masala and keep aside for at least half an hour ( you can keep it in the fridge for a longer period or even overnight ).
4.  Heat oil in a griddle. Dip the fish pieces in semolina and dust off the excess semolina.
5.  Shallow fry the fish till golden brown on both sides and serve hot as an accompaniment . We usually have it with plain dal rice or rasam rice.

For this recipe, you can also use whole small or medium sized fish. But remember to put slits so that the insides get cooked well too. You could also skip the ginger - garlic paste. The fish fry will taste just as good…What are you waiting for ? March to the kitchen and get started :)

Sending this recipe to " Side dish mela "