Thursday, 27 November 2014

457. mango and passion fruit paletas

beat the heat

     Extreme weather is some what becoming a norm in the present time.  6 feet of snow in autumn, torrential rains accompanied by landslides and floods, high temperatures, cold gusty winds, cold spells. All this is happening due to pollution, less trees, concrete jungles, thinning ozone layer and so many other factors put together. Usually around Diwali time our apartment gets a lovely cool sea breeze and many a times we have to close the windows so that doors do not bang, vases do not topple over and curtains do not fly out of the window like flags.Sometimes in the evening the breeze makes us feel a bit cold. The cool breeze, day and night lasts till the month of February and then it changes direction and the apartments facing the west, receive the breeze. However, this year its a different story altogether.There is no breeze at all and the temperatures are high. My wind chime has not jingled at all! We feel like having cold drinks, ice creams, ice, fruits and salads. My hubby keeps on reminding me not to make the dal and sabji piping hot. 
     I had invited my friend's family over for dinner and wanted to make a really nice cold dessert. Mangoes are in season so I decided to make mango and passion fruit paletas. Paletas is a Latin American name for popsicles or ice lollies. They usually are made from fresh fruit. Palo is stick and eta refers to the stick frozen in the item. 
    Mango and passion fruit is a good combination, sweet and tangy all in one. We are lucky that both the fruits are available in abundance in Kenya. As some of you may have noticed, I tend to use mangoes and passion fruit a lot in most of my fruity desserts. Hope you enjoy this recipe.





MANGO AND PASSION FRUIT PALETAS
makes about 20*

500 g (2¼ cups) chopped ripe mango (can use frozen)
1 cup fresh cream
1 cup passion fruit pulp + ¼ cup more
1 (15oz) can sweetened condensed milk
pinch of salt

  1. First you need to prepare the passion fruit concentrated juice.
  2. Scoop out the pulp from the passion fruit to make up a cup.
  3. Put the pulp in a jug of a blender.
  4. Pulse it  for a few seconds. You will notice that the pulp will come off the seeds. 
  5. Strain the mixture using a sieve and a big spoon, take out all the juice till just the seeds are left.
  6. You should get about ½ cup of passion juice concentrate.
  7. Using the passion juice, puree the chopped mangoes. 
  8. Strain the mixture using a sieve to remove any mango fibres.
  9. Put the mango puree in the blender again.
  10. Add the fresh cream and sweetened condensed milk.
  11. Blend the mixture till its all mixed.
  12. Add the ¼ cup of passion fruit pulp. Mix well.
  13. Pour the mixture into the ice lolly moulds.
  14. Freeze for 3-4 hours or till its frozen.
Tips:
  • * The moulds I have are pretty small so 1 got 20 paletas. 
  • You can use the fresh passion fruit concentrate available in most indian stores. Since it already contains sugar, use less of the sweetened condensed milk. Can use half of the sweetened condensed milk and half evaporated milk.
  • If you do not have lolly moulds use your kulfi moulds or use small glasses or yogurt pots. When the mixture is half frozen, cover the containers with aluminium foil. Make a small cut in the middle and insert the sticks. 
  • I used about 10 -12 passion fruits to get 1¼ cups of the pulp. However, it all depends on the size of the passion.
  • Wrinkled skin of the passion fruit means that the fruit will be juicy and have a nice deep orange or yellow colour. You want to buy the wrinkled ones. Leave them at room temperature for a few days and the smooth skin will begin to wrinkle.
You may want to check out the following:
pineapple paleta
Share your thoughts :
Does your area experience extreme weather conditions?

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Monday, 24 November 2014

456. Sheermal

An exotic flat bread

      Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen chose Sheermal for our group We Knead to Bake for the month of November. Had I heard of sheermal before? Yes, but and I had written it down to try it out. I had come across the recipe for sheermal by Tarla Dalal and Sanjeev Kapoor. So when I went through the recipe that Aparna gave us, I was pretty excited Finally I was going to bake Sheermal. In the meantime other members had already baked it and shared a few of their experiences. Most of sheermal photos sent to our facebook page looked so perfect, delicious, well baked and rich.
     I made mine today. I must admit that I had totally forgotten that we had to post the recipe today on our blog. I had presumed that I still had till the end of the month. A gentle reminder from Aparna, made me sit upright. So early in the morning the dough was kneaded and by lunch time hubby dear had lovely sheermal with corn curry.
     What is sheermal? Well, sheermal, seermal or shirmal is a flat bread much like the naan made of plain flour and milk and saffron. Its presumed that it originates from Persia and is now baked in the tandoor, tawa or oven in most areas of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and India. In India it probably was introduced during the Mughal period or brought down by the Persians. It was mostly prepared in Lucknow during festivals and for royalty banquets.Nowadays its a part of the Hyderabad, Lucknow and Awadhi cuisines.
     Sheermal is eaten on its own with tea or with curry. The topping besides the saffron infused milk can be anything from poppy seeds to almonds. While I was baking this bread, my whole house was filled with the scent of cardamom and saffron. Most recipes add rose water or kewra. I didn't have either so I added cardamom.
    Here is the recipe for the soft, rich textured and delicious flat bread.







SHEERMAL
Makes 4
Recipe source : My Diverse Kitchen 

2¼ cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
1 tsp instant dry active yeast
2 tsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup ghee (clarified butter)
¾ cup warm milk
1 tsp rose water or kewra or cardamom powder
few strands of saffron
2 tbsp hot milk

For topping:
melted butter for brushing
sesame seeds, poppy seeds, almond pistachio slivers, raisins

  1. Add saffron strands to the hot milk. Cover and leave on the side till required.
  2. Mix flour, salt, cardamom powder and sugar in a bowl.
  3. Add half the quantity of ghee and rub it into the flour. 
  4. Add yeast to the flour and mix it well.
  5. Add the beaten egg and milk. Form a dough.
  6. The dough should be slightly sticky.
  7. Using the rest of the ghee, knead the dough till it smooth and silky.
  8. Cover the dough with a cling film and let it rise till its double the size. Mine took about 1½ hours.
  9. Knead the dough gently.
  10. Divide it into 4 parts. Roll each part into a ball.
  11. Let the dough balls rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
  12. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  13. Pat with your fingers or roll each ball into a circle of 6" in diameter and ⅛ " in thickness.
  14. Place the rolled dough onto a greased baking tray.
  15. Repeat steps 13 to 14 with the remaining dough.
  16. Prick the discs all over with a fork.
  17. Brush the tops with the saffron milk.
  18. Sprinkle the topping over it.
  19. Bake for 10 -15 minutes till the tops are golden brown.
  20. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool slightly on a wire rack.
  21. Brush the tops with ghee or melted butter and serve.
  22. If not serving immediately, cover with a cloth and leave in a bread basket or tin.
Tips:
  • If you are using kewra or rose water, add it to the flour along with the milk and egg.
  • Can be prepared without eggs.
  • You may need more milk, depending on whether you are adding the egg and also on the quality of flour.
  • I used all the toppings but you can choose to use any or none.
  • I would probably add a bit more sugar next time if I am going to serve sheermal with tea.
  • Kewra or kewda is the extract from the panadanas or screw pine tree flower. It is a transparent liquid mostly used as a flavouring in the north India. Its added to curries, desserts, sweets and drinks.
  • If you are not using instant dry active yeast, you need to activate the yeast by adding it to the warm milk with a bit of sugar. Leave the mixture for 10 minutes till it is frothy.
  • You can make smaller size sheermals.
You may want to check out the following:
gibassier
savoury rose rolls
komaj
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Friday, 21 November 2014

455. Mushroom egg fried rice

Save our Planet

    My hubby dear has his breakfast pretty early but I prefer to have it after I have bathed and done my pooja. While having breakfast I usually watch the news channels, catch up with the whatsapp messages and also make phone calls that I have to for the day... call for the gas cylinder, social calls, whatever needs attention for that day. Anyway what really caught my attention was the news that in some Scottish stores the use of plastic bags has dropped by 90% since they introduced the 5p charge for bags. 500 billion to a trillion bags are used every year by the world. Without thinking we gather several bags when we go shopping and usually just throw them away in the dustbin. Stop and think what happens to those bags you have just thrown. It fills up the landfill sites. This land could be put to better use. Plastic finds its way to the ocean and eventually finds its way into the stomachs of the marine life, killing them. Plastic bags are found at the country side, on farms , forests, everywhere. These plastic bags are eaten by animals and thus endangering their lives. A single plastic bag takes 1000 years to degrade. Even after degradation, its still harmful to living things as they are still toxic.
    During my last visit to India, I was glad that many stores have chosen to charge extra for bags. This made us consciously remember to carry bags from home for our shopping. In UK where ever I have gone shopping, the cashier will ask if I need a bag. Some stores charge extra for the bags. 
   Change can only come about if we all make a conscious effort to reduce the usage of plastic. I always remember to carry my shopping basket and bags whenever I go for grocery or vegetable shopping. I leave a small basket and bags in my car for unexpected shopping. My green grocer has a smirk on his face whenever I insist on re using the plastic bags and refuse a new one. On the other hand, the cashiers at Nakumatt are happy whenever I tell them that I have brought my own bags. My house help cannot comprehend why I would not want to take a bag/bags with the shopping I do. He tells me that I am wasting my hubby's money as according to him, whatever I pay for the shopping includes the price of bags. I cannot still make him understand the effect plastic has on our earth. They all call the plastic bags, paper bags and I am actually tired of explaining to them that they are not paper bags! Are you doing your bit by reducing the usage of plastic?
   Lets get to the recipe. Today I made mushroom egg fried rice. I love the mushroom fried rice served at Shri Krishna in Bangalore. Its really tasty. I decided to add eggs as hubby dear loves egg fried rice. Here's the recipe. 


MUSHROOM EGG FRIED RICE
 4 Servings

1 cup uncooked brown rice
2½ cups water
1 medium onion, sliced 
½ cup cooked sweet corn
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
3 eggs
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1½ cups (approx 125g) sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp coarse black pepper powder
1 tbsp soy sauce
3-4 tbsp chopped spring onions

  1. Wash the rice and soak it in 2½ cups of water for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain out the rice and put the water in a pan to boil.
  3. Add ½ tsp salt, 1 tbsp oil and the rice. Cover and cook the rice till it is done.
  4. Let the rice cool down completely.
  5. Heat oil in a wide pan.
  6. Stir fry the onions till they become slightly soft.
  7. Add the garlic, ginger and sliced chilli.
  8. Stir fry for a few seconds and add the mushrooms.
  9. Stir fry the mushrooms for 1 minute.
  10. Add the remaining salt, soy sauce and pepper powder. Mix well.
  11. Whisk the eggs lightly.
  12. Pour it over the rice and keep on mixing till the rice becomes a bit dry again.
  13. Add sweet corn and mix.
  14. Garnish with spring onion and serve with stir fry vegetables or any manchurian or even on its own.
Tips :
  • You can make this rice without the eggs.
  • If you use white rice then you will need less water. Brown rice usually requires more water to cook.
  • Add any other vegetables of your choice.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.
You may want to check out the following :
veggie pizza rolls




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Thursday, 20 November 2014

454. Baguette

Une baguette s'il vous plait!

       The Home Bakers Challenge for the month of November was to choose any of the recipes given in the previous challenges. For a new member of the group, this was like opening a treasure trove. Which one to choose, which one to choose was constantly on my mind as I went through the lists. My mind was getting all muddled up as I wanted to try most of them. So the other best option was to go through my bookmarked list and see if any were a match to the long list of recipes. I finally chose to make french baguette. Though I didn't follow the recipe given by Priya Ranjit for the Jan 2014 challenge, I made them using the poolish method. I had this recipe bookmarked for over a year! Sometimes the exotic names in itself seem daunting. Though the method was pretty simple, I didn't think I could bake a baguette. However, I did and am so glad I chose this recipe. Already the poolish is fermenting for the second batch of baguettes. Poolish , biga, sponge is a preferment which is used in bread making. A part of the flour, liquid and little yeast is allowed to ferment for a longer period to allow the yeast, enzymes to work on the starch and protein. This in turn improves the flavour, texture and keeping time of the bread.
           When we had spent some time with my daughter in law and her family in Chevreuse, her father was teaching my daughter how to ask for bread in french whenever we went to the boulangerie. The bakeries in Chevreuse were very cute and traditional. The variety of breads and pastries was mind boggling. We found it very difficult to choose which pastry we wanted! I wanted all!Ahh at that time who really cares about calories.... not me!










BAGUETTE
Makes 3 small ones
Recipe source: The Fresh Loaf

For the poolish:
1¼ cups plain flour (all purpose flour, bread flour)
⅔ cup warm water
a generous pinch of dry active instant yeast

For the final dough:
2½ cups plain flour (all purpose flour, bread flour)
⅔ cup warm water
1¼ tsp salt
½ and ⅛ tsp (1-2 g) dry instant active yeast

oil olive for greasing
water for brushing on top or egg wash

Preparation of the poolish:

  1. Mix the flour, yeast and water in a bowl. Cover and keep in a warm place to ferment overnight or for 12 -16 hours.
Preparation of the final dough:
  1. In a big bowl mix the flour, salt and yeast.
  2. Add the water to the poolish to loosen it up.
  3. Add the poolish to the flour and initially mix with a spoon.
  4. When the flour is incorporated well into the poolish mixture, turn the dough onto a floured board.
  5. Knead the dough for 15 minutes till is smooth and silky.
  6. Lightly grease the bowl with oil.
  7. Form the dough into a big round ball and put it in the greased bowl.
  8. Cover the bowl with a cling film and place it in  a warm place.
  9. Let the dough rise for 2 hours or till it is double the size.
  10. Gently knead the dough and divide it into 3 parts.
  11. Form balls and cover them with a cling film or tea towel. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  12. Take one part of the dough. Dust the board or work top lightly with flour.
  13. Roll out the dough into a  8" X 12" rectangle.
  14. With the longer part towards you, fold the top and bottom ends towards the middle. Pinch the ends to seal.
  15. Repeat step 14 again. By now you will have a long tube like shaped dough. Taper the ends and seal.
  16. Place the shaped dough on a greased baking tray or stone.
  17. Repeat steps 14 to 16 with the remaining dough parts.
  18. Let the shaped dough rise for 60 -90 minutes. 
  19. Preheat the oven to 200°C.Place an empty baking tray at the bottom of the oven.
  20. Take a sharp knife and score or make diagonal slashes.
  21. Brush the top with water or egg wash.
  22. When the oven is hot, take some water and a few ice cubes. Put this in the heated tray.
  23. Immediately put in the risen dough. Be careful as there will be hot steam created by the water and ice.
  24. Bake for 25 -30 minutes till the tops are golden brown.
  25. Remove the baguettes from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
  26. Serve with soup, salad, curry or use it to make sandwiches.
Tips:
  • Brushing the tops with water makes the crust a bit chewy.
  • Steam helps to keep the crust soft and allows the bread to expand during the first few minutes of baking. During this time the gases expand rapidly and the yeast has a final burst of activity called oven spring.  The steam on top of the bread dissolves the sugars on top.It begins to caramelize to create a golden crust once the expansion of the dough stops.
  • Egg wash is egg mixed with 2 tbsp of water. 
You may want to check out the following:


braided pesto bread
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Priya's Versatile recipes

Monday, 17 November 2014

453. vegetable handvo

full of vegetables

   The recipe for vegetable handvo has been in my recipe book (followers may recall that all my recipes since I started cooking, are jotted in a big diary given to me by my dad) even before I got married. My friend's mum use to make this very often as a snack or as a meal. When Padmajha Sureshbabu of Seduce your tastebuds gave me corn and sesame seeds for the shhh cooking secretly challenge, I immediately thought of the vegetable handvo. Obviously there were so many other corn recipes popping up in my mind as I love corn, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to blog one of my written recipes. Before I proceed to the recipe, I must mention that Padmajha's blog is very interesting recipes she does book reviews. The write up is done so well that you get tempted to read the book. Do visit her blog.
   This handvo recipe is not like the normal handvo that Gujaratis make. This handvo is just vegetables, no rice or dal flour. Its a good dish to have as a snack, or as a light meal with salad. The base is mashed potatoes but you can add any type of vegetables you prefer. 






VEGETABLE HANDVO
Serves 6-8

For the potato layers:
1 kg potatoes
1- 1¼ tsp salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp milk
¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the vegetable layer:
1 cup peas
1 cup sweet or white corn kernels
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
1 cup fresh red beans
 ½ cup chopped onion
½ cup fresh grated coconut
½ cup fresh chopped coriander
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
a pinch of hing (asafoetida)
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp green chilli paste
1 tsp ginger paste
½ -1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
½-¾ tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

For the topping:
¼ -⅓ cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
3 tbsp sesame seeds (tal)

To serve:
½ cup khajur chutney (date tamarind chutney)
½ cup green chutney

oil for greasing

Preparation of the potato layer

  1. Boil the potatoes in enough water till done.
  2. Peel and mash the potatoes.
  3. Add salt, pepper, milk, butter, turmeric powder and lemon juice and mix well.
  4. Keep on the side till required.
Preparation of the vegetables
  1. Boil peas, beans, carrot and corn in salted water. Drain out the water.
  2. Heat oil in a a wide pan over medium heat.
  3. When it becomes hot, add cumin and mustard seeds.
  4. Add asafoetida and onion. Stir fry till the onion becomes soft.
  5. Add the coconut and stir fry for a minute or so.
  6. Add chilli and ginger and stir fry for a few seconds.
  7. Add the vegetables, salt, sugar, red chilli powder, garam masala and lemon juice. 
  8. Mix well.
Preparation of the handvo
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease a baking dish with oil. I used a 8X12 " baking tray.
  3. Divide the potato mixture into 2 parts.
  4. Pat one part of the mixture into the tray, covering the bottom.
  5. Spread ¼ cup of khajur chutney over it.
  6. Now make the layer with the vegetables.
  7. Spread ¼ cup of the green chutney over it.
  8. Now the tricky part, the layer of potato. Pat a bit of the potato mixture between your palms to make it thin. Layer it on top of the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining mixture till the vegetables are fully covered by the potato layer.
  9. Sprinkle the potato layer with the breadcrumbs.
  10. Heat the oil for topping in a small pan.
  11. Add the cumin, mustard and sesame seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, take the pan off the heat.
  12. Spoon the mixture over the breadcrumb layer.
  13. Bake the handvo in the oven for 20 -25 minutes till the top is golden brown.
  14. Serve the handvo with the remaining chutneys.
Tips:
  • Use any vegetable of your choice.
  • Serve with tomato ketchup or any other chutney of your choice.
  • Use a tray of your choice.
  • For a more thicker potato layer boil more potatoes.
You may want to check out the following:
farari uttapam
cucumber coconut pattis

handvo

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Priya's versatile recipes




Full Scoops


Thursday, 13 November 2014

452. mushrooms on toast

HYPER KIDS

       Most of us are complaining about the heat and how its affecting us. Feeling listless, tired, hot, craving for very cold sugary drinks and so many other woos. However, I was just observing how the heat does not affect the kids that much. The kids in the school near our apartment were jumping, running and playing in spite of the heat. In the afternoon, kids from our apartments were playing football, running, skating and their energy levels were at the optimum. Looking at them made me feel even more exhausted. How can they be so hyper? Its nearly bed time but the kid staying above us is jumping away. Is it the food these kids eat? Boundless energy and constantly on the go. 
       I guess we were the same when we were kids. Playing, jumping, climbing trees, walking to friends and relatives places. The main street near our home would become a playground for all the kids from the surrounding neighbourhood. At that time, there was hardly any traffic near our homes. Later when we moved to another area, we were lucky to have a huge garden and the Nairobi River flowed near our home. We loved going to the river to dip our feet, we walked to and fro from school and spent a lot of time outdoors.
      Coming to today's recipe, mushrooms are low in calories, fat free, cholestrol free, gluten free. Low in sodium but rich in many nutrients. Its a good source of Vitamins B and D, selenium, potassium, copper and iron. Its a good source of protein. Mushrooms on toast can be served as a snack, as brunch with eggs or even as a light meal with salad or soup.




MUSHROOMS ON TOAST

250 g mushrooms
2-3 cloves of garlic
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper powder
½ -1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp fresh cream or white sauc
8-10  slices of bread, white or brown
100 g grated or thinly sliced cheddar cheese 

  1. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth or wash them and pat them dry on a kitchen towel.
  2. Slice the mushrooms.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves and slice it thinly.
  4. Heat the butter gently over low heat in a pan.
  5. Add the garlic and stir fry till it becomes soft.
  6. Add the mushrooms. Turn the heat up to medium.
  7. Stir fry the mushrooms till they become soft.
  8. Take the pan off the heat and let the mushrooms cool a bit.
  9. Add salt, pepper, chilli flakes and cream and mix.
  10. Toast the slices of bread.
  11. Divide the mushroom mixture equally and put it on the toasted slices.
  12. Top it with the cheese.
  13. Put the bread slices under the hot grill or broiler till the cheese melts.
  14. Serve with tomato ketchup or your favourite  sauce and salad.
Tips:
  • Can use fresh chopped green chillis instead of chilli flakes.
  • Use any cheese of your choice.
  • You may add any other veg to the mushrooms that you like.
You may want to check out the following :

spinach mushroom pies
sweet corn and mushroom soup

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

457. mango and passion fruit paletas

beat the heat

     Extreme weather is some what becoming a norm in the present time.  6 feet of snow in autumn, torrential rains accompanied by landslides and floods, high temperatures, cold gusty winds, cold spells. All this is happening due to pollution, less trees, concrete jungles, thinning ozone layer and so many other factors put together. Usually around Diwali time our apartment gets a lovely cool sea breeze and many a times we have to close the windows so that doors do not bang, vases do not topple over and curtains do not fly out of the window like flags.Sometimes in the evening the breeze makes us feel a bit cold. The cool breeze, day and night lasts till the month of February and then it changes direction and the apartments facing the west, receive the breeze. However, this year its a different story altogether.There is no breeze at all and the temperatures are high. My wind chime has not jingled at all! We feel like having cold drinks, ice creams, ice, fruits and salads. My hubby keeps on reminding me not to make the dal and sabji piping hot. 
     I had invited my friend's family over for dinner and wanted to make a really nice cold dessert. Mangoes are in season so I decided to make mango and passion fruit paletas. Paletas is a Latin American name for popsicles or ice lollies. They usually are made from fresh fruit. Palo is stick and eta refers to the stick frozen in the item. 
    Mango and passion fruit is a good combination, sweet and tangy all in one. We are lucky that both the fruits are available in abundance in Kenya. As some of you may have noticed, I tend to use mangoes and passion fruit a lot in most of my fruity desserts. Hope you enjoy this recipe.





MANGO AND PASSION FRUIT PALETAS
makes about 20*

500 g (2¼ cups) chopped ripe mango (can use frozen)
1 cup fresh cream
1 cup passion fruit pulp + ¼ cup more
1 (15oz) can sweetened condensed milk
pinch of salt

  1. First you need to prepare the passion fruit concentrated juice.
  2. Scoop out the pulp from the passion fruit to make up a cup.
  3. Put the pulp in a jug of a blender.
  4. Pulse it  for a few seconds. You will notice that the pulp will come off the seeds. 
  5. Strain the mixture using a sieve and a big spoon, take out all the juice till just the seeds are left.
  6. You should get about ½ cup of passion juice concentrate.
  7. Using the passion juice, puree the chopped mangoes. 
  8. Strain the mixture using a sieve to remove any mango fibres.
  9. Put the mango puree in the blender again.
  10. Add the fresh cream and sweetened condensed milk.
  11. Blend the mixture till its all mixed.
  12. Add the ¼ cup of passion fruit pulp. Mix well.
  13. Pour the mixture into the ice lolly moulds.
  14. Freeze for 3-4 hours or till its frozen.
Tips:
  • * The moulds I have are pretty small so 1 got 20 paletas. 
  • You can use the fresh passion fruit concentrate available in most indian stores. Since it already contains sugar, use less of the sweetened condensed milk. Can use half of the sweetened condensed milk and half evaporated milk.
  • If you do not have lolly moulds use your kulfi moulds or use small glasses or yogurt pots. When the mixture is half frozen, cover the containers with aluminium foil. Make a small cut in the middle and insert the sticks. 
  • I used about 10 -12 passion fruits to get 1¼ cups of the pulp. However, it all depends on the size of the passion.
  • Wrinkled skin of the passion fruit means that the fruit will be juicy and have a nice deep orange or yellow colour. You want to buy the wrinkled ones. Leave them at room temperature for a few days and the smooth skin will begin to wrinkle.
You may want to check out the following:
pineapple paleta
Share your thoughts :
Does your area experience extreme weather conditions?

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Monday, 24 November 2014

456. Sheermal

An exotic flat bread

      Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen chose Sheermal for our group We Knead to Bake for the month of November. Had I heard of sheermal before? Yes, but and I had written it down to try it out. I had come across the recipe for sheermal by Tarla Dalal and Sanjeev Kapoor. So when I went through the recipe that Aparna gave us, I was pretty excited Finally I was going to bake Sheermal. In the meantime other members had already baked it and shared a few of their experiences. Most of sheermal photos sent to our facebook page looked so perfect, delicious, well baked and rich.
     I made mine today. I must admit that I had totally forgotten that we had to post the recipe today on our blog. I had presumed that I still had till the end of the month. A gentle reminder from Aparna, made me sit upright. So early in the morning the dough was kneaded and by lunch time hubby dear had lovely sheermal with corn curry.
     What is sheermal? Well, sheermal, seermal or shirmal is a flat bread much like the naan made of plain flour and milk and saffron. Its presumed that it originates from Persia and is now baked in the tandoor, tawa or oven in most areas of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and India. In India it probably was introduced during the Mughal period or brought down by the Persians. It was mostly prepared in Lucknow during festivals and for royalty banquets.Nowadays its a part of the Hyderabad, Lucknow and Awadhi cuisines.
     Sheermal is eaten on its own with tea or with curry. The topping besides the saffron infused milk can be anything from poppy seeds to almonds. While I was baking this bread, my whole house was filled with the scent of cardamom and saffron. Most recipes add rose water or kewra. I didn't have either so I added cardamom.
    Here is the recipe for the soft, rich textured and delicious flat bread.







SHEERMAL
Makes 4
Recipe source : My Diverse Kitchen 

2¼ cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
1 tsp instant dry active yeast
2 tsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup ghee (clarified butter)
¾ cup warm milk
1 tsp rose water or kewra or cardamom powder
few strands of saffron
2 tbsp hot milk

For topping:
melted butter for brushing
sesame seeds, poppy seeds, almond pistachio slivers, raisins

  1. Add saffron strands to the hot milk. Cover and leave on the side till required.
  2. Mix flour, salt, cardamom powder and sugar in a bowl.
  3. Add half the quantity of ghee and rub it into the flour. 
  4. Add yeast to the flour and mix it well.
  5. Add the beaten egg and milk. Form a dough.
  6. The dough should be slightly sticky.
  7. Using the rest of the ghee, knead the dough till it smooth and silky.
  8. Cover the dough with a cling film and let it rise till its double the size. Mine took about 1½ hours.
  9. Knead the dough gently.
  10. Divide it into 4 parts. Roll each part into a ball.
  11. Let the dough balls rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
  12. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  13. Pat with your fingers or roll each ball into a circle of 6" in diameter and ⅛ " in thickness.
  14. Place the rolled dough onto a greased baking tray.
  15. Repeat steps 13 to 14 with the remaining dough.
  16. Prick the discs all over with a fork.
  17. Brush the tops with the saffron milk.
  18. Sprinkle the topping over it.
  19. Bake for 10 -15 minutes till the tops are golden brown.
  20. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool slightly on a wire rack.
  21. Brush the tops with ghee or melted butter and serve.
  22. If not serving immediately, cover with a cloth and leave in a bread basket or tin.
Tips:
  • If you are using kewra or rose water, add it to the flour along with the milk and egg.
  • Can be prepared without eggs.
  • You may need more milk, depending on whether you are adding the egg and also on the quality of flour.
  • I used all the toppings but you can choose to use any or none.
  • I would probably add a bit more sugar next time if I am going to serve sheermal with tea.
  • Kewra or kewda is the extract from the panadanas or screw pine tree flower. It is a transparent liquid mostly used as a flavouring in the north India. Its added to curries, desserts, sweets and drinks.
  • If you are not using instant dry active yeast, you need to activate the yeast by adding it to the warm milk with a bit of sugar. Leave the mixture for 10 minutes till it is frothy.
  • You can make smaller size sheermals.
You may want to check out the following:
gibassier
savoury rose rolls
komaj
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Friday, 21 November 2014

455. Mushroom egg fried rice

Save our Planet

    My hubby dear has his breakfast pretty early but I prefer to have it after I have bathed and done my pooja. While having breakfast I usually watch the news channels, catch up with the whatsapp messages and also make phone calls that I have to for the day... call for the gas cylinder, social calls, whatever needs attention for that day. Anyway what really caught my attention was the news that in some Scottish stores the use of plastic bags has dropped by 90% since they introduced the 5p charge for bags. 500 billion to a trillion bags are used every year by the world. Without thinking we gather several bags when we go shopping and usually just throw them away in the dustbin. Stop and think what happens to those bags you have just thrown. It fills up the landfill sites. This land could be put to better use. Plastic finds its way to the ocean and eventually finds its way into the stomachs of the marine life, killing them. Plastic bags are found at the country side, on farms , forests, everywhere. These plastic bags are eaten by animals and thus endangering their lives. A single plastic bag takes 1000 years to degrade. Even after degradation, its still harmful to living things as they are still toxic.
    During my last visit to India, I was glad that many stores have chosen to charge extra for bags. This made us consciously remember to carry bags from home for our shopping. In UK where ever I have gone shopping, the cashier will ask if I need a bag. Some stores charge extra for the bags. 
   Change can only come about if we all make a conscious effort to reduce the usage of plastic. I always remember to carry my shopping basket and bags whenever I go for grocery or vegetable shopping. I leave a small basket and bags in my car for unexpected shopping. My green grocer has a smirk on his face whenever I insist on re using the plastic bags and refuse a new one. On the other hand, the cashiers at Nakumatt are happy whenever I tell them that I have brought my own bags. My house help cannot comprehend why I would not want to take a bag/bags with the shopping I do. He tells me that I am wasting my hubby's money as according to him, whatever I pay for the shopping includes the price of bags. I cannot still make him understand the effect plastic has on our earth. They all call the plastic bags, paper bags and I am actually tired of explaining to them that they are not paper bags! Are you doing your bit by reducing the usage of plastic?
   Lets get to the recipe. Today I made mushroom egg fried rice. I love the mushroom fried rice served at Shri Krishna in Bangalore. Its really tasty. I decided to add eggs as hubby dear loves egg fried rice. Here's the recipe. 


MUSHROOM EGG FRIED RICE
 4 Servings

1 cup uncooked brown rice
2½ cups water
1 medium onion, sliced 
½ cup cooked sweet corn
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
3 eggs
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1½ cups (approx 125g) sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp coarse black pepper powder
1 tbsp soy sauce
3-4 tbsp chopped spring onions

  1. Wash the rice and soak it in 2½ cups of water for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain out the rice and put the water in a pan to boil.
  3. Add ½ tsp salt, 1 tbsp oil and the rice. Cover and cook the rice till it is done.
  4. Let the rice cool down completely.
  5. Heat oil in a wide pan.
  6. Stir fry the onions till they become slightly soft.
  7. Add the garlic, ginger and sliced chilli.
  8. Stir fry for a few seconds and add the mushrooms.
  9. Stir fry the mushrooms for 1 minute.
  10. Add the remaining salt, soy sauce and pepper powder. Mix well.
  11. Whisk the eggs lightly.
  12. Pour it over the rice and keep on mixing till the rice becomes a bit dry again.
  13. Add sweet corn and mix.
  14. Garnish with spring onion and serve with stir fry vegetables or any manchurian or even on its own.
Tips :
  • You can make this rice without the eggs.
  • If you use white rice then you will need less water. Brown rice usually requires more water to cook.
  • Add any other vegetables of your choice.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.
You may want to check out the following :
veggie pizza rolls




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Thursday, 20 November 2014

454. Baguette

Une baguette s'il vous plait!

       The Home Bakers Challenge for the month of November was to choose any of the recipes given in the previous challenges. For a new member of the group, this was like opening a treasure trove. Which one to choose, which one to choose was constantly on my mind as I went through the lists. My mind was getting all muddled up as I wanted to try most of them. So the other best option was to go through my bookmarked list and see if any were a match to the long list of recipes. I finally chose to make french baguette. Though I didn't follow the recipe given by Priya Ranjit for the Jan 2014 challenge, I made them using the poolish method. I had this recipe bookmarked for over a year! Sometimes the exotic names in itself seem daunting. Though the method was pretty simple, I didn't think I could bake a baguette. However, I did and am so glad I chose this recipe. Already the poolish is fermenting for the second batch of baguettes. Poolish , biga, sponge is a preferment which is used in bread making. A part of the flour, liquid and little yeast is allowed to ferment for a longer period to allow the yeast, enzymes to work on the starch and protein. This in turn improves the flavour, texture and keeping time of the bread.
           When we had spent some time with my daughter in law and her family in Chevreuse, her father was teaching my daughter how to ask for bread in french whenever we went to the boulangerie. The bakeries in Chevreuse were very cute and traditional. The variety of breads and pastries was mind boggling. We found it very difficult to choose which pastry we wanted! I wanted all!Ahh at that time who really cares about calories.... not me!










BAGUETTE
Makes 3 small ones
Recipe source: The Fresh Loaf

For the poolish:
1¼ cups plain flour (all purpose flour, bread flour)
⅔ cup warm water
a generous pinch of dry active instant yeast

For the final dough:
2½ cups plain flour (all purpose flour, bread flour)
⅔ cup warm water
1¼ tsp salt
½ and ⅛ tsp (1-2 g) dry instant active yeast

oil olive for greasing
water for brushing on top or egg wash

Preparation of the poolish:

  1. Mix the flour, yeast and water in a bowl. Cover and keep in a warm place to ferment overnight or for 12 -16 hours.
Preparation of the final dough:
  1. In a big bowl mix the flour, salt and yeast.
  2. Add the water to the poolish to loosen it up.
  3. Add the poolish to the flour and initially mix with a spoon.
  4. When the flour is incorporated well into the poolish mixture, turn the dough onto a floured board.
  5. Knead the dough for 15 minutes till is smooth and silky.
  6. Lightly grease the bowl with oil.
  7. Form the dough into a big round ball and put it in the greased bowl.
  8. Cover the bowl with a cling film and place it in  a warm place.
  9. Let the dough rise for 2 hours or till it is double the size.
  10. Gently knead the dough and divide it into 3 parts.
  11. Form balls and cover them with a cling film or tea towel. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  12. Take one part of the dough. Dust the board or work top lightly with flour.
  13. Roll out the dough into a  8" X 12" rectangle.
  14. With the longer part towards you, fold the top and bottom ends towards the middle. Pinch the ends to seal.
  15. Repeat step 14 again. By now you will have a long tube like shaped dough. Taper the ends and seal.
  16. Place the shaped dough on a greased baking tray or stone.
  17. Repeat steps 14 to 16 with the remaining dough parts.
  18. Let the shaped dough rise for 60 -90 minutes. 
  19. Preheat the oven to 200°C.Place an empty baking tray at the bottom of the oven.
  20. Take a sharp knife and score or make diagonal slashes.
  21. Brush the top with water or egg wash.
  22. When the oven is hot, take some water and a few ice cubes. Put this in the heated tray.
  23. Immediately put in the risen dough. Be careful as there will be hot steam created by the water and ice.
  24. Bake for 25 -30 minutes till the tops are golden brown.
  25. Remove the baguettes from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
  26. Serve with soup, salad, curry or use it to make sandwiches.
Tips:
  • Brushing the tops with water makes the crust a bit chewy.
  • Steam helps to keep the crust soft and allows the bread to expand during the first few minutes of baking. During this time the gases expand rapidly and the yeast has a final burst of activity called oven spring.  The steam on top of the bread dissolves the sugars on top.It begins to caramelize to create a golden crust once the expansion of the dough stops.
  • Egg wash is egg mixed with 2 tbsp of water. 
You may want to check out the following:


braided pesto bread
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Monday, 17 November 2014

453. vegetable handvo

full of vegetables

   The recipe for vegetable handvo has been in my recipe book (followers may recall that all my recipes since I started cooking, are jotted in a big diary given to me by my dad) even before I got married. My friend's mum use to make this very often as a snack or as a meal. When Padmajha Sureshbabu of Seduce your tastebuds gave me corn and sesame seeds for the shhh cooking secretly challenge, I immediately thought of the vegetable handvo. Obviously there were so many other corn recipes popping up in my mind as I love corn, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to blog one of my written recipes. Before I proceed to the recipe, I must mention that Padmajha's blog is very interesting recipes she does book reviews. The write up is done so well that you get tempted to read the book. Do visit her blog.
   This handvo recipe is not like the normal handvo that Gujaratis make. This handvo is just vegetables, no rice or dal flour. Its a good dish to have as a snack, or as a light meal with salad. The base is mashed potatoes but you can add any type of vegetables you prefer. 






VEGETABLE HANDVO
Serves 6-8

For the potato layers:
1 kg potatoes
1- 1¼ tsp salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp milk
¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the vegetable layer:
1 cup peas
1 cup sweet or white corn kernels
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
1 cup fresh red beans
 ½ cup chopped onion
½ cup fresh grated coconut
½ cup fresh chopped coriander
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
a pinch of hing (asafoetida)
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp green chilli paste
1 tsp ginger paste
½ -1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
½-¾ tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

For the topping:
¼ -⅓ cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
3 tbsp sesame seeds (tal)

To serve:
½ cup khajur chutney (date tamarind chutney)
½ cup green chutney

oil for greasing

Preparation of the potato layer

  1. Boil the potatoes in enough water till done.
  2. Peel and mash the potatoes.
  3. Add salt, pepper, milk, butter, turmeric powder and lemon juice and mix well.
  4. Keep on the side till required.
Preparation of the vegetables
  1. Boil peas, beans, carrot and corn in salted water. Drain out the water.
  2. Heat oil in a a wide pan over medium heat.
  3. When it becomes hot, add cumin and mustard seeds.
  4. Add asafoetida and onion. Stir fry till the onion becomes soft.
  5. Add the coconut and stir fry for a minute or so.
  6. Add chilli and ginger and stir fry for a few seconds.
  7. Add the vegetables, salt, sugar, red chilli powder, garam masala and lemon juice. 
  8. Mix well.
Preparation of the handvo
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease a baking dish with oil. I used a 8X12 " baking tray.
  3. Divide the potato mixture into 2 parts.
  4. Pat one part of the mixture into the tray, covering the bottom.
  5. Spread ¼ cup of khajur chutney over it.
  6. Now make the layer with the vegetables.
  7. Spread ¼ cup of the green chutney over it.
  8. Now the tricky part, the layer of potato. Pat a bit of the potato mixture between your palms to make it thin. Layer it on top of the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining mixture till the vegetables are fully covered by the potato layer.
  9. Sprinkle the potato layer with the breadcrumbs.
  10. Heat the oil for topping in a small pan.
  11. Add the cumin, mustard and sesame seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, take the pan off the heat.
  12. Spoon the mixture over the breadcrumb layer.
  13. Bake the handvo in the oven for 20 -25 minutes till the top is golden brown.
  14. Serve the handvo with the remaining chutneys.
Tips:
  • Use any vegetable of your choice.
  • Serve with tomato ketchup or any other chutney of your choice.
  • Use a tray of your choice.
  • For a more thicker potato layer boil more potatoes.
You may want to check out the following:
farari uttapam
cucumber coconut pattis

handvo

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Thursday, 13 November 2014

452. mushrooms on toast

HYPER KIDS

       Most of us are complaining about the heat and how its affecting us. Feeling listless, tired, hot, craving for very cold sugary drinks and so many other woos. However, I was just observing how the heat does not affect the kids that much. The kids in the school near our apartment were jumping, running and playing in spite of the heat. In the afternoon, kids from our apartments were playing football, running, skating and their energy levels were at the optimum. Looking at them made me feel even more exhausted. How can they be so hyper? Its nearly bed time but the kid staying above us is jumping away. Is it the food these kids eat? Boundless energy and constantly on the go. 
       I guess we were the same when we were kids. Playing, jumping, climbing trees, walking to friends and relatives places. The main street near our home would become a playground for all the kids from the surrounding neighbourhood. At that time, there was hardly any traffic near our homes. Later when we moved to another area, we were lucky to have a huge garden and the Nairobi River flowed near our home. We loved going to the river to dip our feet, we walked to and fro from school and spent a lot of time outdoors.
      Coming to today's recipe, mushrooms are low in calories, fat free, cholestrol free, gluten free. Low in sodium but rich in many nutrients. Its a good source of Vitamins B and D, selenium, potassium, copper and iron. Its a good source of protein. Mushrooms on toast can be served as a snack, as brunch with eggs or even as a light meal with salad or soup.




MUSHROOMS ON TOAST

250 g mushrooms
2-3 cloves of garlic
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper powder
½ -1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp fresh cream or white sauc
8-10  slices of bread, white or brown
100 g grated or thinly sliced cheddar cheese 

  1. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth or wash them and pat them dry on a kitchen towel.
  2. Slice the mushrooms.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves and slice it thinly.
  4. Heat the butter gently over low heat in a pan.
  5. Add the garlic and stir fry till it becomes soft.
  6. Add the mushrooms. Turn the heat up to medium.
  7. Stir fry the mushrooms till they become soft.
  8. Take the pan off the heat and let the mushrooms cool a bit.
  9. Add salt, pepper, chilli flakes and cream and mix.
  10. Toast the slices of bread.
  11. Divide the mushroom mixture equally and put it on the toasted slices.
  12. Top it with the cheese.
  13. Put the bread slices under the hot grill or broiler till the cheese melts.
  14. Serve with tomato ketchup or your favourite  sauce and salad.
Tips:
  • Can use fresh chopped green chillis instead of chilli flakes.
  • Use any cheese of your choice.
  • You may add any other veg to the mushrooms that you like.
You may want to check out the following :

spinach mushroom pies
sweet corn and mushroom soup

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