Thursday, February 28, 2013

Prawn Shahi korma...

Prawn Shahi Korma is a new dish to me. Whenever I get hold of  large prawns, I generally prepare Malaikari or a Kalia or the usual but my favourite Sorse bhapa( Prawns steamed in mustard sauce). I first saw this  "Prawn Shahi Korma" in my friend Sayantan Sarkar's food album "365 days of food". As usual the picture was so tempting, it was hard to resist. After I got the recipe from Rani, I was waiting to get some fresh large prawns. Though I did not manage to get 'the big' prawns I was looking for, but  they were good enough to try my hand at making the Shahi Korma. Believe me, the results was finger licking good. A big thanks to Rani for a different but easy recipe..

This is a simple yet very exquisite dish of prawn.  The original recipe called for marinating the prawns with all the ingredients and cook. But it's me, who can never follow a recipe to the tee. I did a few minor changes, but the over all flavor and ingredients are same. The flavor of coconut in the gravy reminds me the typical Malaikari preparation. But the presence of raisins and yogurt makes a big difference. I used canned coconut milk, you can always make it fresh from grated coconut. Try this once, I'm sure it will be one of your favorite party dish from then on. Use fresh and large prawns for best result. 

Things needed to make Prawn Shahi Korma:

  • Large Prawns: 2 lbs(1 kg)
  • Coconut milk(thick): 150 ml
  • Yogurt: 1/2 cup
  • Onion: 1 large
  • Ginger: 2 inch
  • Raisins: 1 tbsp
  • Green cardamom: 3
  • Cinnamon(1 inch sticks): 3-4
  • Clove: 4-5
  • Bay leaves: 2-3
  • Cumin powder:
  • Red chili powder:
  • Turmeric powder:
  • Kashmiri red chili powder:
  • Sugar to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee/ oil to cook

Steps of making Prawn Shahi korma:

1. Clean and wash the prawn, devein but keep the head and tail. In a bowl mix salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder and marinate the prawns in this mixture.

2. Grind together green cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to fine powder. Cover and keep aside. Beat yogurt with little water and sugar, keep aside.

3. If you are using canned coconut milk, then it's just a can-opener what you need. To make fresh coconut milk, pour hot water to the freshly grated coconut(only the white part), cover and wait for 10-15 min. Grind the coconut in a grinder or food processor till smooth, strain and coconut milk is ready to use.

4. Soak the raisins overnight, make a smooth paste of the raisins.

5. Make paste of onion, strain the paste. Take the onion juice, discard the rest. Make a paste of ginger, strain the paste. Take the juice and discard the rest.

6. In a deep pan or kadai heat ghee or oil(whichever you are using, I will recommend to use ghee), as the ghee is hot fry the marinated prawns over high heat for 1 min, turning sides. Take out the prawns and keep aside.

7. In the same pan(if needed add more oil or ghee) add bay leaves. As the leaves change color add onion and ginger juice and raisin paste. Cook over medium heat. Add beaten yogurt and cook till the raw smell of yogurt is gone.

8. Add kashmiri red chili powder and little turmeric powder, mix well. Cook for 1-2 min. Add coconut milk. Cover the pan and let it boil over a medium heat. As it boils add prawns, salt and sugar. Cover and cook for 4-5 min over a low-medium heat.

9. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Sprinkle garam masala powder and more ghee. Serve hot with rice or pulao.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Homemade Focaccia..

Baking is extremely addictive. Once you start baking at home and  start getting some success, you feel you want to bake some more and more and more. I can never explain how awesome it feels every time you bite a homemade bread you baked yourself. There was a time I couldn't even dare to think about making a pizza at home. But things turned around once I gathered courage and tried my hand at it. Now, I try to make the regular snacks at home, be it the pull apart bread, a cupcake or a focaccia. Yep, a focaccia is a new addition to my baking list. I baked one today. 

Focaccia is very easy and simple to make at home. So, if you are still waiting to try your hand on baking, specially a bread at home, try this. If you look at the total time it needs, it may sound quite a lot but that's mostly for rising the dough. You can watch a movie or can finish your other chores in between.

If you ask me what is Focaccia, then my answer will be  "A flat Italian bread traditionally flavored with olive oil and salt and often topped with herbs, onion or other ingredients".

The style and texture of a focaccia dough is very similar to the pizza dough. The dough has the basic ingredients, flour, yeast, oil, salt and water. the dough is rolled by pressing with hand and baked in oven.

As I made two focaccias, I used different toppings on each of them. One with black olives, red peppers, garlic and cheddar cheese, and the other one with jalapeno and monterey jack cheese. Both the breads were flavored with dried parsley. You can use any topping and any herb of your choice.

Things needed to make Focaccia:

  • Bread flour: 3 cups(divided)
  • Active dry Yeast: 2 and 1/4 tsp (or a sachet)
  • Warm water: 1 cup
  • Sugar: 1 tbsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Olive oil: 4-5 tbsp(divided)
  • Dried parsley*: 2 tbsp
  • Cheese of your choice
  • Olive, red bell pepper, garlic as per your choice of topping
(*You can always use fresh herbs)

Steps of making Focaccia:

1. Take the warm water(55-60C), yeast, sugar in a large bowl, mix well. Cover and wait for 10 min.

2. Add 1 cup of flour, salt, dried parsley(or whatever herb you are using) and 2 tbsp olive oil to the yeast mixture, mix well with a spatula. It will look like a batter. Gradually add another cup of flour, keep mixing(if you have a stand mixer use the dough hook).

3. Dust the working surface with flour, transfer the dough to the floured surface. Dust your palm with flour too. And knead the dough. Keep dusting the surface and the palm with flour as needed(I used the last cup of flour for kneading). For kneading, hold the dough with your left hand(non working hand) and with the heel of your right hand(working hand) stretch it away from you. Fold the dough back. Rotate the dough 90 degree. Again stretch it away from you, fold...repeat. Knead the dough for 10-12 min. By then it will be smooth and won't stick your hand.

4. grease a large bowl with oil, put the dough in the greased bowl, cover and keep in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 1-2 hrs.

5. By this time the dough should be double in size. Punch down the dough. With a scrapper or knife divide the dough into two equal halves. You can wrap one half with cling film and store in the refrigerator for latter use.

6. Take a 9 inch round baking tray, grease the tray. Press down the dough to spread evenly on the tray. Cover the pan and let the dough rise for 30-40 mins.

7. While the dough is rising prepare the toppings. I used red bell pepper, cheddar cheese, black olives and garlic for one and jalapeno and monterey jack cheese for the other one.

8. Pre-heat the oven to 400F/ 200C.

9. After 30-40 min the dough should be double in size. Poke the dough with your finger.

10. Brush the dough with olive oil. 

11. Put the topping, cheese and bake on the middle rack for 15-20 min.

12. Carefully take out the bread from pan and let it cool down on a cooling rack.

Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the bread, serve warm.

I made two focaccia breads, one with jalapeno topping and the other one with black olives, red bell pepper, cheese topping.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chicken Dak bungalow...

Dak bungalow curry is a dish that is famous since  the colonial times. Dak bungalows were rest houses where the British officers used to take rest while on a journey, or used as a night stop during a hunting trip. These rest houses were very well equipped with bedrooms, kitchen etc. A khansama(orderly) used to handle the kitchen. Generally, the dak bungalows used have their own chicken, goat and cows, both for  the meat and  the milk. Other than these, the animals killed as a part of the hunting were also cooked and served to the officers. 

I  can still recollect my childhood days when I spent a night in such a forest bungalow  as a part of our summer vacation trip and after a tiresome day the chowkidaar of the bungalow served us a bowl full of chicken curry along with rice, rotis and salad. I don't know what was in that curry, whether we were too hungry or the organic chicken or the candle lit atmosphere(not for romantic purpose but there was no electric supply) but it tasted the best ever and I still remember that heavenly taste.

The curry recipe may vary depending on the availability of ingredients from one dak bungalow to other. Unfortunately this dak bungalow cuisine is a near forgotten culinary treasure that survives among a few remaining khansama families and Anglo-Indian households. Thanks to some Kolkata based restaurants, these dak bungalow style curries are gaining it's popularity back. 

Dak bungalow meat curries can be made with chicken, goat meat, beef or lamb, I used chicken. This type of curry comes with a whole boiled egg and potatoes in it. And all the spices are freshly ground, no store bought spice powder can bring that taste. And if possible use a mortar pestle to grind all the spices.

Things needed to make Dak bungalow chicken curry:

  • A whole Chicken with bone(cut into 10-12 pcs)
  • Onion(thinly sliced): 2 cups
  • Ginger paste: 2 tbsp
  • Garlic paste: 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds: 1 tsp
  • Dry red chilies: 4-5
  • Bay leaves: 2-3
  • Cinnamon(1 inch stick): 2-3
  • Green cardamom: 3-4
  • Cloves: 6-7
  • Yogurt: 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder
  • Black cardamom: 1
  • Potato (cut into halves): 2 
  • Hard boiled Eggs: 4
  • Mustard oil to cook
  • Salt to taste

Steps of making Dak bungalow chicken curry:

1. Wash and clean the chicken pieces and pat dry. Keep aside.

2. Make a paste of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dry red chili and turmeric powder. Cover and keep aside.

3. Make a paste of cinnamon, cardamom(green and black), cloves. Cover and keep aside.

4. In a large heavy bottom pan heat mustard oil. Fry the potatoes(peeled and washed) till evenly golden brown. Take out and keep aside. Fry the hard boiled eggs and keep aside.

5. In the same pan, (add more oil if needed) heat oil, add the bay leaves and fry the sliced onions till evenly golden brown.

6. Add the garlic and ginger paste, cook over medium heat for 2-3 min.

7. Add cumin-coriander-red chili-turmeric paste. Cook over low heat for 3-4 min. Add beaten yogurt(I beat the yogurt with little sugar and water) cook for another 2-3 min. Add the chicken pieces and sprinkle salt. Cook over high heat for 5-6 min, keep stirring. Reduce the heat to medium and cook till chicken is almost done( about 12-15 min).

8. Add 1 cup warm water and the fried potatoes. Cover and cook over low heat till the chicken and potatoes are well done. Add the hard boiled eggs. Add garam masala paste and mix well. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.  Serve hot with rice or roti.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Strawberry cupcake...

It was a week before Valentine's day, my little one announced 'Ma, this year I want you to be my Valentine'. But everything comes with a price tag, even being the valentine of a 5 year old too. The announcement ended with a little request 'Can you please make some strawberry cupcakes for me?' Now, the overjoyed mom was quite worried about where to get strawberries in this winter. Then again living in Texas has it's own advantages, we get strawberries in winter, and that too the sweetest and juiciest lot.

As I was making strawberry cupcakes I wanted to give the flavor and extra bit of strawberries in those cupcakes. For that, I used pieces of strawberries and the juice of strawberry to flavor the cake. I did a little icing on the cupcakes. I used store bought vanilla flavored butter-cream icing. You can either make the icing at home or just eat them like that, it tasted equally good.

Things needed to make Strawberry Cupcake:

(This will make 12 cupcakes)

  • Unsalted Butter: 1 stick(110-115 gm)
  • Granulated Sugar: 1 cup
  • Eggs: 3
  • Flour: 1 and 1/2 cup
  • Salt: 1/4 tsp
  • Baking powder: 1 tsp
  • Vanilla extract: 1/2 tsp
  • Strawberry: 4-5

Steps of making Strawberry Cupcake:

1. Cut the strawberries into small cubes and drizzle with sugar(1-2 tbsp, depending on the sweetness of the strawberries), mix well. Cover and keep aside.

2. Beat the butter till creamy. Add the sugar and mix well. Add an egg at a time and mix well. Add vanilla extract.

3. Separate the chunks of strawberries and the juice. Add the juice to the butter mixture.

4. Sieve flour, salt and baking powder and gently fold to the butter mixture.

5. Pre-heat oven to 375F.

6. Line the tray with cupcake liner and pour the batter 3/4th of the liner. Add the strawberry pieces in to the individual cupcakes. Bake the cake on the pre-heated oven for 20 min on the middle rack.

7. Take out the cupcakes from the tray and let them cool on a cooling rack. Decorate as per your choice.

Though a little late, wishing you all a very happy Valentine's day...:)

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mac n Cheese my way...

It's an everyday story for me. "Ma, what's special for today?", this is the question I face most of the time as soon as she comes back from school and walks in through that door. It is a different story though, if she has a tiniest of cut or bruise  to show off or something very unusual or exciting happened in school. She puckers  her face and frowns if the my answer is dal-rice and veggies. No wonder , after all the little meat-o-saurus has her genes from me. No meal is complete without something non-veg in it. Her recent craze is  "mac-n-cheese" or anything that has some kind of pasta in it.

This time I made a simple mac-n-cheese for her. I used small shell shaped pasta, you can use use any small pasta available to you.  I added bacon and red peppers to enhance the flavor. If you do not like or do not eat bacon then you may not add it. And for the cheese, I used mozzarella and Parmesan, as those were only two I had in my refrigerator. You can always add sharp or mild Cheddar like traditional mac n cheese, or any other of your choice.

Things needed to make Mac-n-Cheese:

  • Pasta (cooked): 2 cups
  • Milk: 2 and 1/2 cup
  • Butter: 1 tbsp
  • Flour: 2 tbsp
  • Bacon: 3-4
  • Red bell pepper(chopped): 1/4 cup
  • Onion(chopped): 1/4 cup
  • Garlic(minced): 1 tsp
  • Mozzarella Cheese: 1 cup
  • Parmesan cheese: 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper powder to taste
  • Olive oil

Steps of making Mac-n-Cheese:

1. In a non stick flat pan cook the bacon till almost done. Take out the bacon and cut into small pieces. Drain the bacon drippings and keep aside. In that same pan add the minced garlic cook for 1 min. Add the chopped onion and red bell pepper cook over high heat till the pepper and onion looks charred.

2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain but DO NOT WASH. Drizzle some(1 tbsp) olive oil on the cooked pasta and toss it and keep aside. 

3. While the pasta is cooking, melt butter(If you are not using bacon, then double the amount of butter) over medium heat on a non stick pan. As the butter melts add the bacon drippings and the flour, and cook over low heat till there is no raw smell of flour.  It will form a roux. Add milk to the roux gradually and stirring constantly. Add Parmesan cheese and half of the other cheese you are using. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Before going into the oven

4. Add cooked pasta( has to be hot) to the white sauce, bacon pieces and mix well. Add half of the garlic, onion, red bell pepper mixture.

5. Pre-heat oven to 400F/ 200C. Transfer the pasta to a baking dish. Sprinkle rest of the garlic, onion, red bell pepper mixture. Sprinkle rest of the cheese. Bake till the cheese takes a nice brown color. Serve hot with bread and salad.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Garlic Sun Dried Tomato Pull apart bread..

Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods. The very first evidence of making flat breads from seed or root extract and baking on direct fire can be traced back to 30,000 years. With time, leavening agents have been added to make soft breads. Evidence shows other than airborne yeast, beer was a commonly used leavening to make bread in the old times. 

In many cultures, bread is the metaphor for basic necessity of livelihood. We often use the words 'bread and butter' to describe someone's main source of income. Roti, Kapda, Makan (bread, clothes and a shelter) as said in our country, India.

Bread is the staple food around the world and is called with different names in different parts of the world ; white bread, brown bread, sourdough bread etc in the Western part of the world or roti, chapati, nan etc in the subcontinent.

Today I made some pull apart bread. Pull apart bread is a type of bread where some distinct indentations allow the bread to be pulled apart into individual servings. It can be done plain or with some stuffing. I added stuffing to my pull apart bread. The stuffed pull apart bread can be served as a snack itself and goes very well as sides with pasta or salad. And the stuffing can be anything of your choice, from sweet to savory.

Today I used some roasted garlic, sun dried tomato and monterery jack cheese as the filling. You can try your hand on fresh coriander or dried onion or different types of cheese, or something sweet like cinnamon and brown sugar.

Things needed to make Garlic Sun-dried Tomato Pull apart bread:

For the bread dough:

  • Bread flour: 3 cups
  • Instant yeast: 1 packet (2 and 1/4 tsp)
  • Warm water: 1 cup
  • Sugar: 3 tbsp
  • Salt: 1 tbsp
  • Olive oil: 4 tbsp
  • Extra flour(all purpose) for kneading
  • Extra oil to grease

For the filling:

  • Garlic: 1 whole head
  • Sun dried tomato: 1/2 cup
  • Monterery jack cheese(grated): 1 cup
  • Dried parsley: 1 tbsp
  • Olive oil: 2 tbsp
  • Butter: 2 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mozzarella cheese(grated): 2 tbsp

Steps of making Garlic Sun-dried tomato pull apart bread:

1. Take warm water, yeast and sugar in a deep bowl. Mix well, cover and keep aside for 10 min. Keep the bowl in the warm corner of your kitchen. Use a deep bowl or the yeast will bubble up and may spill.

2. In a large bowl take the flour, oil, salt and mix well. Add the bubbled yeast and mix with a ladle or spatula.  Keep mixing(about 6-8 min) till all the flour comes together and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. If you have a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to do this. I did with my hand.

3. Dust the working area with flour and drop the dough. Knead the dough to form a ball. It took me round about 10-12 mins to knead the dough. Use your palm to stretch the dough away from you, fold it back and turn it 90 degree. And repeat the process. While kneading keep dusting the work area and your palm with flour.

4. Grease a large deep bowl with oil and keep the kneaded dough on that bowl. Cover and keep in a warm part of the kitchen. Let the dough rise, about 1-2 hrs.

5. As the dough is rising, make the filling for the bread. You can use any filling for your choice. I used garlic and sun dried tomato. Mix all the ingredients for the filling except butter and mozzarella cheese. Mix well and keep aside. I roasted the garlic head to make the filling. To know how to make roasted garlic Click Here.

6. After 1 or 2 hrs the dough will be double in size. Punch down the dough. Transfer the dough on a lightly floured surface. I used a large baking sheet. Roll the dough to 10 by 20 inch rectangle. Brush the dough with butter.

7. Spread the filling on the dough. Press the filling into the dough so it does not fall.

8. Take a pizza cutter or knife and cut the dough into 8-10 strips.

9. Take each strip, stretch and roll.

10. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf tin, and arrange the rolled dough in that.

11. Cover the dough with a moisten kitchen towel and let the dough rise again for 40-45 min. Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C.

12. After 40 min brush the dough with butter and sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese on top. Bake for 30-35 min on the middle rack. The best way to know whether the bread is done or not, tap the back of the bread, it will make a hollow sound when it's fully done. Take out the bread from the pan, let it cool down on a wire rack.

Enjoy your pull apart bread.
This post is going for the bake fest

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Roasted garlic...

Garlic, either you love it or you hate it. I belong to the first group. I simply love garlic. Today it is on the name of garlic I'm posting the roasted garlic recipe. You can use this roasted garlic to make garlic bread, or in the soup or dip. Try this on your chicken or mutton curry, it will give a new dimension to the dish. Even you can add this to make alu paratha or garlic nan, the options are endless.

Things needed to make roasted garlic:

  • Garlic head
  • Olive oil

Steps of making roasted garlic:

1. Preheat oven to 400F/200C.

2. Take a garlic head and remove all the outer covering.

3. Cut 1/4 inch from the head and expose the garlic.

4. Place the garlic on a piece of aluminium foil, drizzle olive oil. Cover the garlic with the foil. Cook for 30-40 min.

5. Let cool down completely, use as desired. Push the cloves lightly to take the soft buttery garlic. I used them for making the filling of the pull apart bread.

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