Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Balti Masala

The late 80's or the early 90's popularised Indian food in UK.And thus developed the Indo -Brit cuisine with its curry powders and sweet -spicy chutneys and most prominently the CTM or Chicken Tikka Masala.  I remember even seeing a documentary on Chutney Mary. The balti restaurant or the curry houses became the norm of the day and balti cuisine or the Indo brit cuisine came into existence and several spice mixes called balti masala gained popularty. Normally balti means the bucket in Hindi, but here it can mean the pan in which the curry is cooked.The origins of balti cuisine is not known. There are stories that it originated in the Indian hub of Birmingham while others talk about Baltistan in Kashmir as its origin. The I have seen several recipes for the the particular spice mix and recently I tried out this recipe  from Harini 's blog which she had adapted from Raghavan Iyer's 660Curries.


Fennel seeds: 2 tsp
Coriander seeds: 2 tsp

Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Black Mustard seeds: 1 tsp

Cloves: 1/2 tsp
Black Cardamom (moti /kali elaichi): 1/2 tsp
Nigella seeds (kalonji): 1/2 tsp

Dried Bayleaves : 3 whole  or 3/4 tsp
Cinnamon stick: 1 big 6 inch piece or almost 3 tbsp

Red Chilli Powder: 2 tsp
Nutmeg Powder : 1/2 tsp

Dry roast all the ingredients except the chilli and nutmeg powders until they are highly fragrant. Remove from heat,cool and stir in the powders. Grind to a fine powder and store in an airtight container.

You can use this powder as a substitute to garam masala in you favourite curries. You can also use this as a garnish for buttery mashed potatoes and even fruits for a spicy sharp taste.

This is a keeper recipe ,thanks to Harini with whom I am paired with this week in Blog Hop Wednesdays, by Radhika 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kabuli Channa Chutney /White ChickPea Dip Indian Style

Normally Black chana or Bengal gram or Desi chana is usually seen in Indian especially South Indian recipes. But recently I tried a simple Kabuli Chana chutney from Monisha Bharadhwaj's Indian Kitchen. Kabuli Chana or lighter colour chickpeas is called so as it is a native of Afghan, North Africa and even South Europe and was introduced in India few centuries back.

White Chickpeas : 1/2 cup +

Oil:1-2 tbsp
Aniseeds: 1/4 tsp+

Onion: 1/2 cup finely chopped

Garlic: 1-2 clove minced

Chili Powder: 1/2 tsp+
Amchoor Powder (Dried Mango Powder) : 1/4 tsp+
Salt: as per taste
Sugar: a pinch

Soak chickpeas in water overnight and cook till soft.Drain and keep aside. Do not throw away the water in which it was cooked.

Heat oil in a deep pan. Add aniseeds and let it splutter. Add finely chopped onion and garlic and saute till transparent. Add in the rest of ingredients and cook for a minute.  Add cooked chickpeas and mix well. Remove from heat and cool.

Blend to a fine puree adding water (the cooked water previously set aside) if needed and serve garnished with toasted aniseeds or chopped caramelized onions.

Enjoy it as a chutney/dip with bhajias or tortilla chips.We usually associate chickpea dip with hummus but this one is Indian style chutney and goes well with chips and fritters and is definitely holds good against hummus.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Salata Adas- Lebanese Lentil Salad with Cumin & Mint

I am not a great fan of lentils in salads but occasionally I use them to make chaats and other type of salads.Normally its the soup or sides  that comes to my mind whenever I think of lentils.But this is a simple Lebanese style salad which I adapted from Kalyn. The original is supposed to be from Saveur and it turned out wonderful or much tastier than expected. I have prepared this with brown lentils or whole black masoor or Egyptian lentils as they are also known. Green Lentils or French lentils also work fine with this recipe.

Whole Black Masoor/Brown/black/Egyptian lentils: atleast 1/2 cup

Lemon Juice: 2 tbsp +
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 2 tbsp +
Garlic Clove: 2-3 cloves finely minced

Cumin Powder: 1/2 tsp +
Allspice Powder: 1/4 tsp +

Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley: 1 -2 tbsp chopped
Fresh Mint : 1-2 tbsp chopped

Salt & Pepper: as per taste

Cook the lentils in water till tender. Make sure they are not mushy. Stove top cooking for 15+ minutes is better here than pressure cooker which may make it mushy. I soaked the lentils for around 15-30 minutes in hotwater before cooking and it was cooked under 20 minutes. Drain and keep aside.

In a small pan,heat around 1 tbsp of EVOO and add minced garlic to it. Saute the garlic till it starts perfuming the oil and is just about to change the colour.Turn off the heat.

Whisk together the rest of the EVOO,lemon juice, cumin powder and crushed allspice berry till it emulsifies to a smooth silky dressing. Add this to the warm garlic-oil and turn on the heat for another minute. Pour this garlicky spicy hot dressing on the lentils and mix well. Toss in chopped herbs and salt and pepper. Adjust the seasonings and serve warm as a side salad.

You can also have this as a mini meal or snack or  light lunch and can even use this as a stuffing for tortillas /ricepaper rolls /pita breads.You can serve it with couscous of pasta mixed in for a hearty comforting meal.I had as a side salad and found it filling and comforting. The freshness of herbs with the comfort of the lentils is heartily appreciated.

Right now, the salad is on way to visit NCR:Lentils at Tinned Tomatoes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Khatti Dal - Tangy Lentils Indian Style

There was a time I was not a great fan of dals. But surely those days are over. I relish a simple meal of white rice, dali thoy (Konkani style dal) ladled with a spoon of ghee much better these days and am also becoming a fan of other dals -like Srilankan Dal, Sindhi one etc. Recently I got Monisha Bharadhwaj's The Indian Kitchen from the library and have tried out this tangy khatti dal from it. The name  'khatti' implies  'tanginess' achieved due to the addition of lemon juice. I have seen other recipes for khatti dal where tangy agents like tomato or tamarind are used and sometimes other lentils as well. Here the author uses Chana Dal or Chickpea Lentils or split chickpea lentil or gram lentils and simple lemon juice to achieve a comforting dal which is simple and quick to make.

Chana Dal :1/2 cup +

Oil: 2-3tsp
Black Mustard Seeds:1/2 tsp +
Fenugreek Seeds (methi dana):1/2 tsp +
Aniseeds : 1/2 tsp
Carom Seeds (ajwain/omam): 1/2 tsp
Bayleaves: 1
Onion: 1 medium sized chopped finely
Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp+
Lemon Juice: 1 tbsp +
Salt: as per taste

Cook chana dal in water till soft.Optionally mash the dal and keep aside.

Heat oil and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter,add the fenugreek,aniseseeds ,carom seeds and bay leaf and fry for a minute till the spices flavour the oil.

Add in the onions and fry until golden brown. Pour in the cooked dal and add salt,turmeric powder and lemon juice. Simmer for 3-5 minutes to blend well and serve hot/warm as a side dish with rice/breads or even as a tangy dip.

A delectable dal which is quick and easy. The key thing is to cook the dal till soft and I do this in a pressure cooker for atleast 2-3 whistles.This is one lentil that I never add salt while cooking as I am not sure how it will turn out. This time the dal was soft and very mushy thankfully and the whole dish was excellent,much more tasty than you can make out from the pics. These days my photographic abilities are hibernating.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nankhatai -Indian Shortbread Cookies

As a  kid, I used to go out every evening with my father. We would either walk to the nearby bookstall to get books,make a  stop at the bangle store and then head home. Other evenings we would go in his scooter in the opposite direction to a shop -provision cum bakery cum textile shop (atleast thats how I have stored it in my mind).

I still remember the CB Stores or the Metro Textiles at Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) somewhere near the Trivandrum Central Railway Station and also near the Central /State Bus station. It was in this shop that I first saw nankhatais. They were sort of popular sweetmeat there and a hit at my home especially with my extended family. We used to buy a substantial quantity of these almost twice a week but still they were short of demand!!!. But for me they were the least appealing. I was fascinated by the small glucose biscuits/cookies shaped like animals or to simply put animal crackers as they are called now. I hated nankhatais as we always bought them instead of the animal cookies,most of the times atleast. Recently going through Bhagyashri's Tastebuds,my memories came back with full force and I made her delectable version.

All Purpose Flour: 2 cups
Sugar: 1 cup
Ghee/Clarified Butter/Butter: 3/4 cup
Milk: 2 tbsp +

Optional Ingredients:
Saffron : few strands toasted
Cardamom extract: 1-2 drops 

Cream together ghee/butter and sugar together till fluffy. If using,toast few saffron strands and add to the creamy mix along with 1-2 drops of cardamom essence/extract.This is completely optional,but I thought would add more flavour to the sweet.

 Add flour in batches and using little milk bring together to get a crumbly mix. Pinch palmfuls of mix and shape into round balls. Flatten the balls and place them in a optionally lined baking sheet. Bake them in a preheated oven at 180C/360F for about 10-15 minutes until the edges start to brown.

Take out and cool completely in the baking sheet and then in the wirerack. Store them in airtight containers and consume as needed. 

Simple shortbready cookies. Perfect tea time snack. Did it taste like the childhood ones? To be honest I do not know!. I feel that this is the taste one moment and the next I am wondering !. I remember the taste and shape  of animal cookies and snowy whiteness of nankhatais but taste,I feel eludes me. I will definitely be making these again and again though and this also visits Radhika's BlogHop Wednesdays in which I have been paired with Bhagyashri this time.Thanks for the keeper recipe, Bhagyashri.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Blueberry,Orange & Chocolate Chip Muffins

I have always loved the chocolate orange combination and this time since I had blueberries with me, I also used this with the combo. I have been planning to make the simple chocolate orange muffins for my birthday and the blue eyed berries added to the joy. I have used the simple chocochip muffins recipe with variations Dianas Desserts and please find below my version.

AllPurpose Flou: 1 cup
Sugar: 1/4 cup
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Baking Powder: 1.5 tsp

Orange zest: 2 tsp
Chocochips: 6 tbsp (I used a mix of milk and white chips)
BlueBerries: 6-8 tbsp

Egg White: 1 OR Egg: 1/2 :D OR Egg Replacer egg for 1/2 an egg 
(1/2 egg = 1 tbsp cornflour + 1.5 tsp water whipped together )
Milk: 6 tbsp 
Orange Juice: 2-4 tbsp (can use more to replace milk)
Vegetable Oil: 8 tsp

Mix together in a big bowl, the dry ingredients of flour,sugar,salt and baking powder. Stir in the chocochips and blueberries and mix well.

Mix the liquid ingredients of egg white/ half of an egg, oil, milk and orange juice together. You can completely replace milk with juice or use a combo. You can make this completely vegan using soy or other vegan milk. I used a combo of both milk and juice and hence started with 2 tbsp of juice. 

Make a well in the centre of dry mix and stir in the liquid mix. Stir until just combined. If the batter turns out to be too thick, you can add in more juice or liquid.

Scoop into muffin cups lined or greased and bake in a preheated oven at 200 C /400 F for 15-20 minutes or until the tops starts browning and a tester inserted comes clean. 

Cool in the pan for few minutes before turning them to the wire rack to cool completely.

The above  estimate gave me more than 6 muffins. I actually went for smaller muffins and then turned half of the batter into a mini loaf pan . The loaf too another 5-8 minutes more to bake than the muffins. You can even freeze the batter for future use. 

Simple and tasty muffins .They were light and almost crumbly. Mine does not look like professional muffins with a smooth perfect top,but taste wise its spot on.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gingered Mango Soup

I have heard of fruit shakes,but never fruit soups.But it seems there are fruit soups which are enjoyed throughout Europe especially the Nordic countries and I thought I too would try out this one from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann found here. I actually thought they would be like shake only and still feel that there is just a thin line between the shake and the soup. 

Mango: peeled and chopped :1 cup
Ginger: 1 big piece peeled and chopped
Coconut Milk: 1/4 cup+/- (I used thick milk)
Water: 1/2cup +/-
Lemon Juice: a big squeeze 

Mint Leaves
Cucumebr chopped etc

Blend together mango and ginger to a smooth paste and stir in coconut milk and lemon juice. Chill in atleast an hour for flavours to blend. Serve at room temperature or chilled. 

Garnish with thickened yogurt/whipped cream and mint leaves. You can also go for gazpacho type garnish with cucumbers and tomatoes and serve it chilled for a hearty summertime entree.

I used thick coconut milk and had to add more water to get to a pourable consistency. But still it was more like smooth soup consistency rather than liquidy shake. But what the heck,enjoy it as anything as long as the taste is good.

Perfect goodbye to the summer king Mango,. I know most of you will be missing the King of Fruits,but a break does a world of good as well. We can move on to other fruits now. I can already see the blue eyed seducer berry making an expensive appearance at the supermarkets. Lets see how we can use it. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jam Tarts for Malory Towers

I grew up reading Enid Blyton. Actually she was the only author known to me for a long time. I started with the St Clare's series and slowly graduated to other. Malory towers is another feather in Blyton's cap of school series. The book talks about the adventures of Darrell Rivers and is said that the book is fashioned on the Scottish boarding school of St Leonards School. At that time, I used to day dream and imagined myself as a character and when my father (almost) got a posting in UK, I wanted to be there. Such was my fantasy which obviously came to nought !

I went back to my childhood after reading the book - I chose the first part- again for bookclub last month and I did want to miss the party. I had made jam tarts for Darrell. I had adapted my recipe from Deeba's ruby petit fours though with a little change.


All Purpose Flour: 1.5 cups
Butter: 1/3 cup

Castor Sugar: 1 tbsp
Chilled Water: 3-4 tbsp

Jam: few tbsp : your choice

Sift flour in a bowl.Add in cubed chilled butter and pinch and fluff and mix with your fingers to get a coarse mix.Mix in sugar.Add enough water to make a soft dough. Do not overwork. Chill the dough in the fridge for atleast 20 minutes.

Take out the dough.Roll it out to a thin pastry and line the mini tart shells or whatever size tart pans you have.
Gently bring together the remaining dough and roll it out again. Cut different patterns or shapes from it using small cookie cutters or appropriate devices.Keep aside.

Spoon around 1 tbsp of jam on the pastry in the tart pans.Top the jams with the pattern pastry.

Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for about 10-15 minutes, till the edges of the tart start browning and the jam bubbles and spreads and a heady aroma permeats the house. :P

Take out,cool for around 1-2 minutes in the shell,after which let them cool and set completely in the wirerack. Serve as a snack or a part of breakfast or even as a dessert for picnic just as Darrell had hers.

Make sure you add only lesser amount of jam as the jam will melt,bubble and spread a lot.You can see from the pics that the mini cookie tart was topped with two stars which were completely immersed after baking.
You can also bake the tart shells prior to filling and then fill them with melted jam as I had seen in the original recipe.

Lets see what others are cooking for Darrell and her friends at the BookClub.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Apple Dates Smoothie

These days I have started the gym again and am also trying my hand at badminton. Praying that either or the other  works out for me and I reduce atleast few kilos. But after a hectic and sweaty workout, I rarely feel like cooking but would be very happy if someone else is there to take care of me. Is my mother listening? or atleast something that could be put together quickly and is healthy and filling. This is a simple yet healthy delight which I have adapted from KurryLeaves ( my namesake with a different spelling) with whom I have been paired with this wednesday for the BlogHop Wednesdays by Radhika. 

Apple: 1 cubed
Dates: 4-5 deseeded and chopped
Milk: 1-1and 1/4 cup
Sweetner: optional but as per taste

Cinnamon: garnish
Chopped Apples or Dates: Garnish

If your dates are hard and dry,soak them in 3-4 tbsp of milk for about 15 minutes or so. Then blend together all the ingredients to a fine puree /juice adding milk as needed. Adjust the sweetness by going for a healthy sweetner like honey or even more dates puree or maple syrup.

Serve as an intermediate filler for dinner garnish with more chopped apples/dates and sprinkle of cinnamon.

Healthy filling drink. A sweet start at breakfast for a hearty day ahead.You can even make it spicier with the addition of choice of spices and even other dry fruits.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tutti Frutti Bread

Recently my daughter had a taste of sweet tutti frutti bread and she insisted I recreate it at home. I adapted the recipe from here and it was successful. You can also try it out with a combo of nuts and dryfruits,but tutti frutti adds colour to it and makes it more appealing. I had just 2-3 slices remaining, with which I had taken the pics after which they were completely gobbled up. I have tried out a mini loaf with the recipe and buns or rolls or crescents can also be tried out.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup + as needed for dusting
Whole Wheat Flour: 2 tbsp
Sugar: 3/4 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Yeast: 3/4 tsp

Water: 7 tbsp + as needed
Vegetable Oil: 3/4 tsp
Egg White :1 or 1/2 of an egg or 1 tbsp Cornflour + 2 tsp of water mixed together or your choice of replacer.

TuttiFrutti : atleast 1/2 cup

Mix together the dry ingredients of flours,yeast,sugar and salt. Prepare your egg replacer/even 1/2 of egg.

Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and add in the water,oil and egg. Knead together to form a dough. Fold in the tutti frutti and knead again on a  lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes till you get a smooth elastic dough. 

You may have to add more flour once yo add the dry fruit as it may become sticky. You can also rest the dough in between for about 5-10 minutes so that it absorbs lesser flour than needed/stickiness is reduced.This process is known as autolyse.

Once the dough is ready,put it in a loaf pan or other suitable baking dish as you like. You can lightly grease the dish/pan before putting the dough. Shape the dough if needed and then loosely cover it with a plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until doubled.

Bake in a preheated oven at 175C /350F for about 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Mine was done in 18 minutes. Keep an eye from the 15th minute onward.Take out cool in the pan for a few minutes and then cool completely in the wire rack,before slicing and serving.

Simple fruity bread best with evening tea. I suppose this also goes as a deletable picnic snack. You can also serve it with accompaniments like jam,honey etc, but they are best as such. The delectable bread also goes to BBD# 42 - Picnic breads at Palmira, an event by Zorra

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