Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mayonnaise: Home made

When I first had a scrumptious creamy layered sandwich somewhere I could not understand how butter could be so creamy and taste so good.
A more educated in the outside food department person told me it was mayonnaise that gave the sandwich that taste.
I began my quest to get, find, buy, learn, make or steal the creamy wonderful spread to feel that taste again.
After many moons and many adventures and disasters I found the perfect recipe that I will now share with you selflessly.
After all good things are meant to be shared.

Rule of thumb and fingers.
Remember that you need SEVEN things.
Even after you forget or lose this recipe you will remember the number SEVEN and it will bring the recipe back to your mind.

Eggs, oil , sugar, salt, pepper, yellow mustard, vinegar or lime juice. (Seven in all. Count, if you don't believe me.)

Eggs: 2
Oil: about 1 cup (olive, salad oil or any other nice clean smelling refined oil)
Sugar: two table spoons to start with and you can vary as per your preference
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh ground yellow mustard seeds 1 table spoon
Vinegar/lime juice about two table spoons. vary as per taste.

Break two eggs and put them in the blender jar (large one that you use to make cold coffee, milk shake etc.)

Add salt, sugar, salt, pepper and ground mustard powder.
Run the blender for 45 seconds or so. Check. It should look nice and all mixed up.
Add a little bit of oil through the vent in the blending jar, keep the blender on and keep adding more oil as it keeps getting absorbed by the mixture inside the jar.
you will be able to add about 3/4 of a cup when the mixture emulsifies and you see a smooth, light creamy product in the blender.
Add the vinegar/lime juice and give it another whirrr (blend for another 5-10 seconds).
Adjust sugar, salt, vinegar as per your preference.
Remove into a clean glass bottle, keep in the fridge and use as required.

Keeps well for about three four days.

Note: Remember SEVEN things and count them on your fingers to ensure you have not missed out on anything.

Recipes using mayonnaise will follow. Watch this space.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Take your chance, baby!

Garhi bahar nikalo.

Take your chance baby.

 ( Dialogue from 'Life in a Metro')

Never will there be a time when everything is just perfect.
So, do it now.
With all its imperfections and likelihood of nasty surprises on the way, still you will be on your way.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Vegetarian Fish Fingers

Here is a recipe from my random Army cookery classes conducted by senior ladies for newbies like me who were stuck at pakoras and potato wafers and could not make another snack to save their lives.
We were first fed these at the lady's house and then taught how to make them so that we were motivated to learn them and actually try them out.
This became a favourite over time and was made again and again for the frequent parties that we hosted for friends and family.

1 glass diluted milk (3/4 milk and 1/4 water is ok)
1/2 glass of dry roasted suji (semolina made from wheat)
4 cloves garlic minced fine
1 cup of grated processed cheese
Salt and pepper to taste.
Oil to grease the tray and to deep fry

Heat milk in a pan, preferably in a karhai.
When it becomes quite hot but is not boiling yet, add the dry roasted suji slowly, mixing well to ensure there are no lumps.
Add the garlic, salt ,pepper and cheese too.
Keep stirring till you get a mass in the pan.
Put it into a greased plate or thali. smooth the surface with a small bowl or spatula so that there is an even layer about 3/4 inch thick all around.
Let it cool.
Cut into fingers. Remove from the plate.
Deep fry in hot oil till a beautiful pink.
Drain on absorbent paper.
Serve with tomato sauce and green chutney.

This quantity is enough to fill one large plate and serve 4-6.

Variation: If you want to make a healthier version, brush them with some oil and bake in an OTG till light pink/brown.

I promise everyone will ask you what went into these.

Sorry, no photo available. It was easier to remember the recipe and write it all down rather than actually make it. Send me the pictures of the end product and I will post their links here. :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Home-made pizza

Home-made pizza

Hot Pizza from one's own kitchen can be just as tempting, tasty and satisfying as the ordered one.
It is quite simple to make and gives one the choice to add or not add things as per one's taste.

Pizza base (bought from the market)

For pizza sauce:
Tomatoes- two large or three medium sized
Onion- one cut in small pieces
Capsicum- one cut in small pieces
Garlic- four large cloves or eight smaller ones peeled and crushed
Any oil or butter as per your choice a few tea spoons

For toppings:
One onion cut round and separated into rings
One capsicum (green, yellow, red as per availability and your choice) cut into rings after de-seeding
some fresh corn kernels, baby corn cut length wise or in roundels
Two mushrooms cut as per preference
Non vegetarians can use shredded cooked chicken, salami or whatever else is available or desired.

A large piece of processed cheese Amul/Verka/Mother dairy or whatever you can find easily.
Grate the cheese. About half a cup but you can vary this quantity as per your wish.

For Sauce:
Heat a pan and add two spoons of oil/butter in it. Add the onions and saute till transparent, add the garlic, small cut capsicum and stir for a minute or so.
Add the three tomatoes cut small. Add salt to taste. Stir  well and cover. Cook on low gas for a few minutes till tomatoes are cooked.
If you want a smooth sauce blend it in the mixer. I prefer the sauce to be chunky plus it is less work so I let it be as it is.
You may want to add a spoonful of tomato sauce to it to improve color and spread-ability. (No such word I know but you get the idea. No?)

Heat the oven at 160 degrees.
 (It depends on your oven and what works best it in. Generally, the oven should be medium hot. I made this in a round oven but an OTG works out better for pizza. Microwaves generally produce anemic looking pizzas.)

Grease a baking tray.
Put one pizza base on it. Brush it very lightly with olive oil/butter/refined oil.)
Spread the home made pizza sauce on it. The quantities mentioned above are enough for two medium sized pizza bases.
Arrange the rings of onions, capsicum, mushrooms, baby corn, and other ingredients as per your wish.
Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
Put the tray in the oven.
Bake for about fifteen minutes. Keep checking (from outside) to see that it does not get burnt.
Ideally the cheese should melt and ooze around and the base should look nicely toasted/brown where it is visible near the edges.

Remove from the oven.
Sprinkle oregano, chilli flakes or black pepper  if that is what you like.

Cut into wedges with a round pizza knife or whatever knife works best for you.
Eat while it is still hot.

Be proud of yourself for having done it all at home.
Experiment with the toppings and sauce as you gain confidence.

There are no rules here. Just do your own thing.

P.S: 1.If you can manage to get bread dough from a local bakery, use that as the pizza base. Cooking time will be more then.
2. If pizza base is not available, use bread slices as the base. It tastes great plus has the advantage that you can use Atta bread or brown bread.

Another home style version 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Punjab Village style: Sawan festival

How is it that things that we experienced in childhood stay with us forever?
Tucked away in some corner of the brain and popping up suddenly out of the blue to surprise and delight us.
The other day I saw a picture of a beautiful spread of rice dishes that are made in Tamil Nadu on the occasion of the first day of Sawan.

It reminded me of the signature dishes of Punjab that are cooked in the month of Sawan.

In Punjabi language Sawan is pronounced as /saun/ with a hard /n/ at the end.
Kheer and Poorha are the signature dishes.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

15-minutes to plate: Instant Dhokla made in Microwave

All of us love food.
Many of us want to cook but feel intimidated by the elaborate preparation, sourcing of ingredients, techniques, kitchen gadgets and hours and hours of labour involved.

Here is an endeavour begun as a tribute to all those who are willing to experiment and reap the fruit of their labour and eat it. (Please excuse the pompous dialogue and mixed metaphor).

We need 15 minutes or so, simple, inexpensive ingredients and basic kitchen equipment.

Recipe 1:

Instant Dhokla made in Microwave

Instant Dhokla_1

Instant Dhokla_2

Besan (Gram flour): 3 ladles heaped
Suji (Semolina): 1 ladle heaped
Curd: 1 cup
Ginger, garlic, green chillies paste: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Turmeric: a pinch (optional)
Sugar: 1-1/2 tsp
Fruit Salt (Eno): 2 tsp
Lemon: 2
Oil: 1tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig (10-15 leaves)
Green coriander leaves: a few chopped small

The quantities given here are enough for four people but I am sure two can polish it off too. Keeps well in fridge for a couple of days.

Take the besan, suji, salt, ginger-garlic-green chillies paste, 1/2 tsp sugar, turmeric in a biggish bowl.
Add the curd to it and mix well to make a batter like that made for pakodas.
 Make sure there are no lumps. You may add a little water to get the right consistency.
Add two level tea spoons of the fruit salt. Squeeze the juice of one lemon on top of the fruit salt. You will see instant bubbling/foaming. Mix it in gently. Ensure that it is distributed well in the entire batter.
Do this quickly because otherwise the bubbles will be lost and the batter will become flat.

Grease a microwave proof flat dish and pour the batter into it.
Put it in the microwave and cook for 4 minutes. Let the microwave stay as it is for another couple of minutes.
Check if the Dhokla is cooked by inserting a dry knife. If it comes out clean then the Dhokla is done.

On a hot tawa /girdle/frypan, put a tea spoon of oil.
 Add mustard seeds when the oil is hot.
Add curry leaves and a few green chillies slit length wise.
 Stir for a few seconds. Add half a cup of water. Add a spoon of sugar and the juice of a lemon.
Let it come to a boil. Pour the tempering over the cooked dhokla. Sprinkle the chopped green dhania.
Cut the dhokla into pieces as per your wish.

Find green chutney, coconut chutney, or tomato ketchup or all of them.

Eat. Serve if you like.

Alternatively steam the same batter in lightly oiled Idli moulds in a pressure cooker (without putting the weight on the steam vent)/ steamer. It will take about ten minutes. Remove from moulds, cut into pieces and add tempering.

I have been told that one can cook the same dhokla in an electric rice cooker too.