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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Baked Veggie florets





There has been an age long war between mums and kids over Veggies . Parents struggle to get their kids to eat more veggies and I was no exception to this, until I found this recipe where I could make my Son finish all his veggies and that too with a spark in his eyes and a wide smile on face. These baked Veggie florets are not only best way to trick your kids into eating their veggies, but also serve as good appetizers at kids parties ! 

I tried using vegetable juices to colour the bread to make it more healthy and appealing and the colored baskets resembled florets on baking and thus clicked the name of this recipe ! Topping the veggies with cheese and herbs make them flavorful. 

Ingredients:
  • Mixed veggies of your choice(I have used Carrots, Green peas,Sweet corn)
  • Beet root juice - 2 tsp
  • Carrot Juice -2 tsp
  • Tomato sauce/ any Chutney - 2 tsp
  • Bread slices-6
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Mixed Italian herbs-1/2 tsp (optional )
  • Crushed black pepper-1/2 tsp
  • Butter to grease the muffin tray
  • Salt
 


   Method:
  1. Chop the veggies of your choice. You may also blanch the veggies before baking them, I haven't.
  2. Keep the bread slice on board and flatten it evenly using a rolling pin. Cut it in round shape using a lid or bowl. Repeat the same for rest slices. ( Use the left over edges of bread to make bread crumbs).
       
      3. Now we have 6 round bread slices. Coat 2 slices with carrot juice, 2 with Beetroot juice  using a pastry brush and keep the remaining 2 slices as it is . Do not make the bread slices too soggy with juice, Just apply enough juice to give colour to the bread slices.



     4.   Grease the muffin tray with butter and preheat the oven at 375 F for 15 minutes.


     5.  Place the bread slices in the muffin tray and fold the edges properly to give it a cup size. Now bake this for 10 minutes at 375 F. This will make the bread slices dry before we assemble them with veggies.


     6. Now coat little sauce or any chutney of your choice in these baked bread cups. Sprinkle salt on all the veggies and mix well. You may also add chat masala to the veggies. Now add 1-2 tsp of the mixed veggies in the bread cups.
    

       7.  Top the veggies with grated cheese and lastly sprinkle crushed pepper and herbs on them.


     8. Place the muffin tray in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 F or until they turn crisp and golden. I have baked these florets using Convection Microwave. No preheating needed in convection mode. Place the tray on rotating plate of oven and select convection mode and set 180 degree Celsius temperature for 25 minutes. You can even grill these florets.

      9.    Colourful Veggie florets are ready ! 


     Notes:
  • You can make similar baked bread baskets , add any salad or fruits or sprouts and enjoy as chaat.
  • Use of vegetable juice to colour the bread is optional.
  • Adjust the time of baking, to make the bread crisp and golden .








Monday, 27 April 2015

Soft Mango Bites

Soft Mango Bites

For us Summers are incomplete without Mango delicacies . Mango tastes great as a fruit by itself and apart from it there is an endless array of dishes made with this tropical fruit ranging from Juices and Smoothies to desserts and Cakes. Mangoes add a tropical twist and explode of flavor to any meal.

 This time I tried making some soft  Mango bites . These are very handy, flavorful and ready to pop candies , great for kids and serve best to satisfy sweet craving for all age groups. I have used Alphonso Mango pulp in this recipe which imparts rich golden colour as well as an irresistible aroma and the Saffron and Cardamom add to the richness of this candy !

Ingredients:

  • Mango pulp - 1 cup
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk - 1 cup
  • Milk Powder - 1 cup
  • Few Saffron strands
  • Cardamom powder- 1/2 tsp

Method :
  • Peel and pit ripe mangoes of your choice , cut  into pieces and make a smooth puree  in a grinder .I have used Alphonso Mango Pulp.
  • To make Condensed milk at home - Take 1 liter full cream milk add 10-12 tsp sugar to it and reduce it to 1/4 . Skip this step if using ready made Condensed milk. 
  • In a Wok or non stick pan add the Mango Pulp and start reducing it on medium heat. Keep stirring continuously for 3-4 minutes or till the pulp thickens a bit. This step not only reduces the pulp but also enhances the flavors of Mango.

  • Now add the condensed milk to the mango pulp. Blend properly and keep on stirring the mixture continuously on medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Now dissolve saffron strands in little warm milk and add this to the mixture and mix well. As the condensed milk is sweetened, and the Alphonso mango pulp was also sweet , I have not added sugar to this recipe. You may add powdered sugar if the mango pulp is not sweet.


  •  Now add the milk powder slowly to the mixture and keep on blending it well without any lumps. Keep on scrapping the sides as well as the bottom of the wok , so as to avoid the   mixture from sticking.




  • Our aim is to get a dough like consistency of this mixture. this will take some 5-7  minutes more of continuous stirring . Yes, it needs patience but believe me, these flavorful candies are worth the efforts . You can use a microwave to reduce the efforts. 



  •   Now that the mixture is reduced and thick enough and is no more sticking the sides of  the pan, put off the flame. Now add the cardamom powder. Mix well and let it cool down. 
  •  Apply some ghee on your hands and pinch small portion from the dough and make a small ball shaped candy , this should not be sticky . Repeat the same for rest of the dough and your soft Mango bites are ready to melt in your mouth ! 


    Notes:

  • These soft Mango bites stay well for 15 days upon refrigeration. 
  • The above measurements yield 35-40 small soft Mango bites.
  • The same recipe can be made using a Microwave to reduce the efforts.
  • You can make bigger balls and have them as mango Ladoo or just press the mango balls little between the palms and place one pistachio on them and enjoy them as mango Peda or put into moulds to get various shapes.






Friday, 24 April 2015

Paneer Tikka


Paneer Tikka

Paneer Tikka is a popular Indian snack in which Paneer chunks are marinated in spices and yogurt and grilled in a oven or on stove top . This dish serves as a starter and  a vegetarian option for chicken tikka and other non vegetarian starters. I had made hung curd / chakka at home for Shrikhand and some of it was left, so thought of making this dish for my Sunday evening snacks.

For those who do not have an oven need not worry, as here you will find this recipe using both oven and stove top(Tawa) and the Tikkas made on Tawa turned out to be more crispy .

Main ingredients for Paneer Tikka :
  • 200 gms Paneer (I have used home made)
  • 1 small Red Bell Pepper / Capsicum
  • 1 small Yellow Bell Pepper/ capsicum
  • 1 small Green Bell Pepper/ Capsicum
  • 1 large Onion
  • 2-3 tsp oil or butter 
For Marinade:
  • 150 gms Hung Curd/ thick yogurt
  • Kasmiri Red Chili powder
  • Garam Masala.
  • Roasted Cumin + Corriander powder
  • Black pepper powder
  • Chat Masala
  • Turmeric
  • Kasuri methi( dried fenu greek leaves)
  • lemon juice
  • Garlic Ginger paste
  • Salt 
Method:
  1. To make hung curd tie fresh curd in muslin cloth and hang it or place curd on sieve and put inside refrigerator for an hour to remove excess water.You can also use thick home made yogurt if you are running short of time.

2.   Slice the Paneer into small cubes or rectangles , rinse and dice the Bell peppers/ Capsicum in square or rectangular slices, halve the onions and remove each layer one by one. Keep Paneer and veggies aside.



3 . Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and  add the veggies and Paneer to it. Mix well. Cover the bowl and marinate it in fridge for at least 1-2 hrs or if not in hurry preferably overnight. The more the time for marination, the spices and yogurt infuse well in the Paneer making it more delicious.







4  . For grilling Paneer Tikka in Oven- Use a convection microwave or the one which has option for grill. Take a small nonstick tray grease it with little oil and place the marinated Paneer and veggies on it and place this tray on a high grill rack  and grill it for 5 minutes using grill option on the oven. Now remove the tray and gently lift the Paneer and veggies and turn over , brush them with little oil  to avoid them from drying and  again grill for 2 more minutes.


5.  For making Paneer Tikka on stove top or Tawa- Take a non stick tawa and grease it with oil or butter, add the marinated Paneer and Veggie cubes on it and roast on medium heat. when one side gets browned, gently lift and turn over, the Paneer cubes will get cooked faster than the veggies. so remember to remove the Paneer cubes as soon as they are golden. You can char or brown the veggies more. 


6.  While still hot, skewer the grilled Paneer cubes and veggies on to a wooden skewer or toothpick, try alternate cubes of veggies and Paneer. You can also have them straight away without skewering. Sprinkle 1 tsp chaat masala & ¾ tsp lemon juice on the Paneer tikka while serving.




Notes: 
  • If using curd or yogurt for marinade instead of hung curd, see to it that the marinade is not runny , you can add gram flour ( besan) to thicken it.
  • I have not added any color in the marinade as I do not want to use artificial colours, you may add red food colour for vibrant restaurant look Tikkas.  
  • Do not cook the Paneer for more time on tawa, or else will turn rubbery and hard.
  • You can also bake the Paneer Tikka in an oven for 15 minutes at 180 degree Celsius.
  • Whilst grilling or baking the Paneer become dry so brush the veggies and Paneer with oil or butter to keep them moist.
  • Left over marinade can be added to any gravy or preferably to the Paneer Tikka Masala gravy.
  • Dish goes well with Mint chutney and Salad.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Mishti doi / Sweetened Yogurt

Mishti Doi

Sweetened yogurt or Mishti doi or Mithi Dahi is a fermented sweet yogurt and is famous sweet dish  in the Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha . In this recipe the milk is condensed and then sweetened with either caramelized sugar or Jaggery and then allowed to ferment overnight . Mishti doi has a very rich and exotic taste. Traditionally it is prepared in earthen pots as the gradual evaporation of  water through the earthen pot leads  to further thickening of the yogurt.  We usually get Mishti Doi only in shops specializing in Bengali sweets, but it is an extremely simple dish and can be easily made at home.
Source: Wikipedia 

This cooled sweetened yogurt dish is perfect thirst quencher in a hot climate like Penang.

Ingredients:
  • Full Cream Milk- 1 litre
  • Sugar / Grated Jaggery - 1 cup
  • Yogurt 2 tsp
Method 
  1. Heat the milk in a wok or heavy based pan with 3/4  cup sugar or Jaggery and reduce to half.


2.  Take another heavy bottom sauce pan and heat the remaining 1/4 cup sugar/ Jaggery until caramelised.



   3.  Add the boiling milk to the caramelised sugar / Jaggery and stir well. Cook for another 5 minutes. We can see the colour change , due to caramelised sugar. Now let the milk cool down to 40 degree Celsius or just the right temperature to add the yogurt.




4.  Add the yogurt to the mixture , stir well and pour this mixture into  earthen clay pot and keep overnight in a warm place to set.




   5.    Once set, refrigerate it for a couple of hours and serve chilled.

Notes:
  •  Do not add yogurt when the milk is too hot or else the milk will curdle. 
  • The amount of sugar or jaggery can be increased or reduced to suit your taste also we get different shades in the Mishti doi, if we vary the amount of caramelised sugar or jaggery .
  • Very often the yogurt is delicately seasoned with a hint of cardamom (elaichi) for fragrance. You can also garnish it with few saffron strands and pistachio .


Friday, 17 April 2015

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Garlic Bread

Cream Of Mushroom Soup with Garlic Bread
Today we woke up to witness a cool breezy Saturday morning . The sudden downpour last night had made the weather quiet pleasant .We were out for our daily morning walk on Gurney Drive , enjoying the cool but soothing breeze. We were lost in admiring the beauty of the nature - the priceless sea breeze  and the sound of the waves , that we failed to notice, the blue sky had turned grey, and then it started drizzling . So we dropped our idea of going further and headed back towards our home.  It grew darker and the drizzle was a full fledged  rain now.by the time we reached home we were completely drenched .

         Such a weather certainly calls for a warming breakfast! Could be hot spicy Pakoras with a cup of Masala Chai , or the Corn cobs heated over a stove top  sprinkled with lemon juice and salt or a bowl of hot soup ,  provided I had the ingredients in my pantry!  I generally stock up my veggies and fruits on Saturday mornings, so was only left with some Button Mushrooms, bread and a jar of vegetable stock in my fridge  (Thankfully I had made a large batch of vegetable stock 2 days back)  , perfect ingredients for a Creamy Mushroom Soup with Garlic Bread !

 This wholesome and tasty soup recipe is made from cream of Mushroom and broth of other vegetables.The addition of herbs enhances  the deep and earthy flavours of Button Mushrooms . I have used dried thyme in this recipe..you can add fresh thyme or Oregano. The whole wheat flour used for thickening make it all the more healthier. Have followed this recipe from Vah re Vah Chef.

Coming to the health benefits : Button Mushrooms are a very good source of dietary fibres , proteins, Vitamin C , Vitamin D , are rich in minerals , help in boosting the immunity , have very low saturated fats and sodium and very low cholesterol. (Source: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2482/2)

Ingredients for soup:
  • Button Mushrooms, halved 10-12
  • Bay leaves- 2
  • Dried Thyme - 1 tsp
  • Onions , finely chopped -1 medium
  • Garlic , finely chopped  5-6 cloves
  • Black pepper corns 10-12
  • Whole wheat flour -2 tsp
  • Butter -2 tsp
  • Fresh cream -2 tsp( for garnishing)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Vegetable stock / Chicken stock - 4 cups

  Method :
  1. Heat butter in a non stick pan . Add bay leaves, black pepper corns and garlic and saute for half a minute.


    2. Add the onions and saute till light brown.


  3. Add flour and mix well. Cook on medium heat till the flour is lightly browned.




  4. Add the Mushrooms and salt and a pinch of sugar . Mix well and cook till Mushrooms ooze out water and turn golden brown. ( Adding pinch of sugar at this stage, gives a nice golden colour and caramelised flavor to Mushroom)


   5. Add vegetable / Chicken stock , dash of dried thyme. and mix well.  Cover and cook till Mushrooms are soft and the soup becomes creamier and thicker. ( Traditionally vegetable stock is made by simmering vegetables of your choice to water and flavouring it with spices and herbs.and then straining it , but in this recipe try to use a mildly flavoured vegetable stock , so that it does not dominate the flavors of Mushroom)






   6.  Put off the flame and remove the bay leaves. Blend this soup with hand blender or food processor and serve hot garnished with fresh cream. 


 7.  I have served this Creamy Mushroom soup with Garlic bread . To make garlic bread I just took bread slice, trimmed the edges and toasted the bread on a skillet with salted butter , finely chopped Parsley , Chili flakes, grated garlic and  thinly sliced Mushroom . It just tasted awesome !

  Notes:
  • You can use any herb to flavor your Soup. Addition of Thyme or Oregano enhance the earthy favours of Mushroom.
  • Never soak the mushrooms, just rinse them and use a cloth or paper towel to remove any clingy dirt.
  • Try to use a mildly flavoured Vegetable or chicken stock for this recipe, so that it does not dominate the Mushroom flavors.












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