Daily Archives: October 23, 2008

Look who’s cookin’ !!!

Noor was home, bored and moping a couple of days ago, while Indira was at her music lesson.

So I suggested to her that she could help me make the paranthas for dinner.  She of course promptly brought out her little apron and settled down on the kitchen floor with her own little rolling pin and board.

She did a pretty good job of rolling them out,I thought; what say you?!

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Filed under LE FUTTED BALLON-life with the girls

A simple,mild Rasam

This home made answer to what restaurants call mulligatawny soup went down very well with our guests on Saturday.

Rasam

6 medium sized tomatoes( or 1 or 2 more, if you would like a more sour soup)

5 tbsp of arhar daal

½ tsp of grated ginger

½ tsp of mustard seeds

2 tbsp of ghee

½ tsp of turmeric

a pinch of asafetida

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tbsp of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Soak the daal for 1-2 hours, then pressure cook it till it is very soft.

In a large casserole, warm the ghee, and add the mustard seeds. When these begin to crackle, add the curry leaves and the asafoetida. Fry these for just a few seconds, add the ginger, and fry till for a few seconds till it starts to turn a golden color. Now add the tomatoes and the turmeric, and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the salt and 2 cups of water next, and let the mixture come to a boil. Continue cooking for 7-8 minutes, mix in the daal, and simmer everything together for a further 10-12 minutes or until the soup has acquired the thickness/consistency you’d like. Stir in ½ the coriander and turn the heat off, keeping the rest to add a little to each bowl before you eat.

For a spicier flavour, grind pepper on to each portion. It definitely lifts the taste; gives it a great kick that goes well with the tanginess of the tomatoes.

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Filed under Soups, Starters and Snacks

Matar Paneer

I was delighted to see how much the girls enjoyed this too, last weekend.

Matar Paneer

For the paneer:

1 liter of whole milk

125 gms of whisked yoghurt

2-3 tablespoons of lime juice

For the gravy:

2 small onions, chopped very fine

2 large tomatoes

½ a tsp, or a little more, of grated ginger

2 large cloves of garlic, grated

½ a tsp of cumin seeds

½ a tsp or a little more, of coriander powder

½ a tsp of turmeric

½ a tsp of kashmiri red chilli powder

½ a tsp of garam masala powder

1 or 2 tbsp of cashew nuts, roughly crushed (this is an optional ingredient)

salt to taste

3-4 tbsp of sunflower oil

1 cup of frozen, shelled peas

To make the paneer, boil the milk in a thick-bottomed pan. When it has come to a full boil, turn the heat down very low, add the yoghurt and the lime juice, and stir these in thoroughly till the paneer begins to form. Now drain the paneer through a sieve that has been lined with a large, fine piece of cloth. Keep some of the whey by collecting it in a vessel placed under the sieve. You can use this later to add to the curry; some say it adds to the taste, and it is full of good things anyway.

Place the cloth with the paneer in it carefully on a large chopping board, and form it carefully in to a large square shape. Fold the cloth over this, and press the paneer down with a heavy weight (typically a large vessel full of water) that places uniform pressure on all parts of the paneer’s surface, for 20-30 minutes, so that all the excess water drains out and the paneer becomes firm. When the panner seems set, cut it in to 1/2 ” or 1″ squares.

Make a fine paste of the cashew nuts. To do this, first boil them in 1/3 cup of water for 7-8 minutes, then grind them fine either with a hand-held blender or manually with a rolling pin (this is messier though).

Boil the tomatoes in a little bit of water till the skin starts to break. When the tomatoes have cooled, peel off the skin and puree the tomatoes.

To make the curry, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the cumin seeds, and when these start to release their aroma put the onions in. Fry these till they start to turn golden brown, then add the ginger and the garlic and fry for another minute. Then add the cashew nut paste and fry the mixture till the onions turn a darkish brown. Now add the tomato puree and cook till everything is well-blended and the puree starts to dry. Add the spices and fry for a further minute. Finally, add the peas, salt to taste, and fry everything together for a few minutes. Now add a cup or a little more of the whey or boiled water, and pressure cook the curry for 5-7 minutes.

When the cooker has cooled enough for you to be able to open it easily, add the paneer pieces and simmer the curry for a little while so that the gravy is not runny.

For an everyday version of this curry, I skip the cashew nuts, and I use them only for a more formal meal like Saturday’s; they add a slightly sweet, and quite rich taste.

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Date Cake

Loaded with soft dates, this cake has a special, really delectable taste.

I almost did not buy the creme anglaise to go with it, when I decided to make it for dessert last Saturday, but then I was glad I did because everyone seemed to enjoy the combination !

Date Cake

1 egg

1 and ¼ cups of chopped dates

½ cup of chopped walnuts (optional but a nice touch)

¾ cup of brown sugar

¼ cup of melted butter

1 and a ½ cups of any flour (refined is probably ideal, though I often bake with even whole wheat flour)

1 and a 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence

½ tsp of salt

1 tsp of baking soda

1 tsp of baking powder

Soak the dates in 1 cup of boiling hot water, after adding the baking soda and leave them aside to cool. In the meanwhile, beat together the egg and the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla to this mixture.

In another bowl, combine the flour, the salt, and the nuts.

Add the dates once they have cooled to the first mixture, then add in the flour mixture.

Now stir in the melted butter and combine well.

Put this cake batter in to a cake mould, and leave it to stand for 15-20 minutes.

Then bake in a preheated oven at 180degreesC for 1 hour, or till a table knife inserted in to the middle comes out clean and dry.

Like the chocolate and date loaf, this cake makes for quite a fancy dessert, eaten with crème anglaise or vanilla ice cream 🙂

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Filed under Cakes and Muffins, Desserts, Picnic Food, Starters and Snacks

Methi Chicken


This dish, which I cooked last Saturday when we had friends for dinner, always takes me back almost two decades, to the many wonderful meals I ate at the Pandara road “dhabas” in New Delhi with three very very dear school friends. The pudina paranthas; the different kinds of chicken curries (including methi chicken, although a richer sort) and kebabs that we feasted on… maybe it was the company, maybe it was the conversation (life! boys! books! everything), maybe it was the food. But those meals really stand out in my mind….

Methi Chicken

800 gms of chicken without the skin

200 gms of whisked yoghurt

3 tbsps of kasoori methi(dried fenugreek leaves)

4 large onions, sliced very fine

4-5 tsps of grated garlic

4-5 tsps of grated ginger

4 cloves

3 pods of black cardamom, pressed to split it open

3-4 small sticks of cinnamon

6 black peppercorns

1 tsp of turmeric

1 tsp of kashmiri chilli powder (more if you like ; we eat very mild “hot” food)

6 tbsp sunflower oil

salt to taste

Wash the chicken, pierce each piece with a fork in several places, and marinate it overnight in a mixture of the yoghurt, turmeric, chilli powder, ginger, and garlic.

To cook the chicken the next day, heat the oil in a wide and thick-bottomed pan, add the whole spices, and fry till they begin to crackle and release their aromas. Now add the onions and fry for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water next, and cook the onions on a fairly high heat till the water dries up. Then add the kasoori methi, add ½ a cup of water, and cook again on high heat till the water dries and continue frying till the mixture is a golden brown. Now add the chicken with its marinade, season it with salt and fry it well (turning the pieces frequently to avoid burning) till the yoghurt dries up. Now add a cup or a little more of boiled water (this will depend on how thick or thin you’d like the curry to be), cover the pan, lower the heat a little, and leave to cook till the chicken is very tender. Do turn the pieces over a couple of times during this time or the masala/the chicken can tend to stick to the bottom of the pan.

This is a delicious, aromatic curry that is best enjoyed with phulkas or paranthas.

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