Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken Pudina Roast

One thing I've learnt about marinating with curd is that thick curd is different from hung curd and that really makes a difference!! Very often we pull out some curd from a store-bought container without bothering to hang it (come on, it's thick enough) but don't realise that it still has a lot of water content (whey) which can rob some of the marinade from your chicken or paneer. So here's what I do, I dump some "thick" yogurt into a large strainer with really tiny holes, place it on top of a deep bottomed vessel and keep it aside for 20 to 30 minutes. You will be surprised at how much whey actually gets drained from what appears to be thick curds!

If you are using homemade curds, you may have to keep it for a much longer time- probably overnight, so keep the strainer in the fridge to avoid the curd getting sour.

Coming to the recipe, last year I had posted a Paneer Pudina Tikka recipe. This time I tried using pudina with chicken and made several changes, with some inputs from my friend Beena. I have added khus khus (poppy seeds) to this, but if it is not available, just replace with 1 tsp jeera or a couple of cloves. Adjust the chilli powder accordingly.

2 to 3 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp khus khus (poppy seeds) or 1 tsp jeera
7 to 8 mild red chilles ( I used byadgi, kumte mirsang)
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 cup pudina leaves
3/4 cup corainder leaves
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1 tsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
2 tsp garam masala powder
3 tbsp hung curd / very thick curd / greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp oil
1/2 kg chicken pieces, washed and drained completely
1 tsp ghee / butter (optional)

In a small pan, heat 2 tsp oil and lightly  roast corainder seeds and khus khus on low flame. Add red chilles and roast a bit. Transfer to a blender. Grind with ginger garlic paste, pudina leaves, coriander leaves, haldi powder, chilli powder, garam masala, hung curd, lemon juice, oil and some salt into a smooth paste. [Do not add water]. The paste should be spicy and slightly salty.
Marinate the chicken in it and place covered in the refrigerator for 4 to 14 hours (the more the better).

Transfer to a deep bottomed pan. [No need to put oil]. Cook covered  for 5 minutes on medium low flame. Drizzle 1 or 2 tsp ghee or butter (optional) and mix gently. Cover. Turn the heat to medium. You will see the chicken releasing water. Cook covered for another 15 to 20 minutes till the chicken is completely cooked, the gravy is absorbed and the chicken appears semi-dry. Stir every two minutes to avoid sticking to the pan. Drizzle 1 tsp  lemon juice and mix. If the dish is too spicy, drizzle more lemon juice.

Tastes best with a dash of lemon. A delicious starter no doubt! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Brownies

This morning my son had a Valentine's Day party in school and he wanted me to make a cake for his friends. Using a heart-shaped pan, I baked these brownies and sprinkled powdered sugar on top.

The heart shapes are cut-outs of parchment paper on which I sprinkled powdered sugar. My son was very excited about the cake and helped me place the hearts on the cake. Here's to another kitchen adventure with my son!!

Links : Cake-ish Chocolate Brownies
            Hearts on top

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Egg Curry / Poached Eggs in Spicy Coconut Gravy

If you haven't tried cooking eggs directly in the curry, then you should. It's easy, saves time and also turns out quite tasty since the eggs absorb the spices in the gravy. Here's another poached egg curry recipe which is much easier. This one, (similar to this recipe) takes a bit of time because of the roasting and grinding of spices, but tastes fantastic! I have used a couple of spices here which may not be available in your pantry. One is star anise and the other is khus khus. If you don't have these, don't worry, just add an extra clove or a bigger piece of cinnamon. But I would urge you to buy these. Star anise lends a great flavour to your pulao or biryanis, so you can always use them there. Khus khus (poppy seeds) give a unique flavour to this dish. I will soon post another recipe using this spice.

2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp khus khus
3 to 4 cloves
2 cardamom
1" cinammon stick
1 star anise
6 to 7 red chillies (I used byadgi / kumte mirsang)
3 to 4 curry leaves
2 medium onions
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder (adjust according to taste)
About 1 cup thick coconut milk
6 to 8 eggs

In a small pan, heat 2 tsp oil. Roast corainder seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise, khus khus, red chilies and curry leaves on a low flame. Transfer to a blender.

In a deep bottomed pan, heat oil. Sauté onions till brownish. Transfer half the roasted onions into the blender. Blend with roasted spices, 1/4 cup coconut milk and some water. Grind into a smooth paste, adding more water if required.

In the deep bottomed pan with the rest of the roasted onions, add ginger garlic paste and roast. Add turmeric powder and chilli powder and roast for a couple of minutes. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup coconut milk and bring to a light boil. Add the ground paste, 1 cup water and salt and bring to a boil. The gravy should be slightly salty.

Now it's time to add the eggs. Break eggs one by one and pour into the gravy. The eggs should be placed beside each other like you see in the picture. Don't mix. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Check once in between to make sure there is enough gravy, but don't mix. Flip the eggs and cook for a couple more minutes. Adjust salt and mix gently.

Make sure the eggs are completely cooked. You can cut the cooked eggs into half if you wish. Also, for a richer colour you can mix 1/2 tsp kasmiri chilly powder with some water and drizzle on the dish.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Homemade Marshmallow Fondant

A couple of years ago, I had no idea what fondant tasted like. But I was very interested to work with it after watching several Food Network Challenge episodes. The first and only fondant I used was Wilton's store-bought fondant which we were asked to use at a class. Fondant is like play dough - pliable but edible. Fondant makes a cake look neat and lovely. Here's a picture of a cake I decorated with store-bought fondant (the bow is gum-paste) -

Now months later, I decided to try my hand at making fondant at home. I browsed the internet and found that marshmallow fondant was easy to make. All you need are the following ingredients-

8oz (4 cups) mini marshmallows
1 lb (a little more than 4 cups) powdered sugar
2 tbsp water

Yes that's all!! You need some crisco to grease your hands, but I didn't have any. So I thought of dusting my hands with powdered sugar, which I forgot to do. This is a very important step otherwise you will end up with a super duper mess. If that happens, just rub your hands with powdered sugar and you are good to go.

Method : (I referred this)
In a large microwave safe bowl, pour in the mini marshmallows and water. Microwave 1 minute on high. Remove and mix thoroughly, pressing the marshmallows, till you get a smooth paste. [If required, microwave for a few more seconds]. Pour powdered sugar. Mix, mix, mix.

Dust your palms with powdered sugar. Transfer the mixture to a clean cutting board and knead for a few minutes. Add a little more powdered sugar if required. Knead, knead, knead till you get smooth and pliable fondant.

If you'd like to colour your fondant, then dip a tooth pick in the colour, pull it across the required amount of fondant and knead again. You will see the colour in streaks. Knead well. Roll using a fondant roller or chapati roller.  Using cookie cutters or fondant cutters, cut into desired shapes.

Cover fondant with a plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. Whenever you want to use it, just microwave for a few seconds, knead well and roll. Cut into desired shapes and adorn these on your cakes or cupcakes!!


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