Sweet Sour & Spicy Coke-Cola Chicken with black bean coriander garlic rice

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Being a bunch of hyperactive people that we are, the small but lively group from Assam in Bahrain, do get together quite often to, observe festivals of our motherland with fervour, attend and participate in events, go shopping, watch movies or simply talk and eat or eat and talk endlessly. We talk on all kinds of possible or impossible subjects under the sun and if you attempt to make sense of all of them, you are venturing into uncertain territories. Good luck!

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In one such recent eat and gossip meet at one of our friend’s place, as usual we were at our animated best and the discussion veered towards eating healthy. Assuming the position of master of good food and moral high ground, I was talking about someone who I know of having this unhealthy habit of drinking coke with lunch and dinner, all the while happily sipping on to my soft drink based cocktail; so much for an irony. As if that was not enough, a silly question was hurled at me by someone asking how can, one have coke with rice, I mean how can someone sane can possibly mix coke with rice and eat. Indeed, how, how?? Everyone burst out into a loud laughter and had good fun at her expense for saying that in the heat of that moment or what I said in Assamese being lost in translation, but I have to try hard to forgive myself for not only thinking about a dish on that crazy idea but executing it too.

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The very next day bought some chicken thighs and tried making out this crazy dish. My housekeeping lady said I’ve gone mad trying to execute a crazy idea. Later once the chicken was ready everyone just couldn’t stop asking for second and third serving.

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While I was busy preparing for this crazy dish my girls were too busy making their Father’s day cards and goodies. This was a perfect platter for the Father’s Day!!

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Stay tuned for the vegtarian version for this recipe.

 

INGREDIENTS (For sweet sour and spicy coca-cola chicken)

  • 1 kilo chicken thighs or wings
  • 1 big coca-cola can
  •  1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp tabasco sauce
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 2-3 pods chopped garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp oil

DIRECTION for coca-cola chicken

  1. Pre heat the oven high at 240 degrees.
  2. Take the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Pour some oil, and season with some salt, pepper, and chili powder. Now arrange the pieces in the baking tray lined with silver foil, and put into the oven for about 45 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

To make the sauce

  1. In a large bowl take the cola, brown sugar, pepper powder, chili powder, tomato paste, soy sauce, corn starch, chopped garlic, tabasco sauce. Combine all the ingredients well .
  2. Pour the prepared sauce mix in to a sauce pan over medium heat. Once the sauce starts boiling lower the heat. At this point add salt and lemon juice. let it simmer for a couple of minutes stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
  3. By now the chicken should be ready. Once done remove from oven. Carefully with a thong remove the each pieces and dip it into the sauce and place it in another baking tray lined with a foil. Once all the pieces are done put the tray of sauce coated chicken back into the oven for another 10 minutes for that perfect glaze.
  4. You can server as an appetizer or accompanied with some delicious black bean cilantro rice.

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INGREDIENTS for black beans coriander garlic rice

  • 4 cups cooked rice( I used basmati rice)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 pods garlic
  • Half a large bunch of coriander leaves
  • 2 cups cooked black beans but not over cooked and mushy( one can also use kidney beans or rajma)
  •  Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil

DIRECTION for black beans coriander garlic rice

  1. In an electric chopper chop the onion, garlic and coriander leaves.
  2. Heat a large size pan or a wok over a medium heat with some oil. Once the oil is hot enough add the chopped onion, garlic and coriander mix. Saute it for 2-3 minutes or until the raw smell of the onion and garlic is gone. Now add the cooked black beans, season it with salt and stir for a minute. Finally add the cooked rice gradually and combine well until the flavor of coriander beans has been evenly mixed with the rice. Serve hot

Apple, chocolate & nutty galettes. Just the apples, chocolate, puff pastry and your magic does it all!!!

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While I was waiting in queue of a cash counter in a hyper market, which I hate to do in the peak hours of evening during Ramadan, my eyes caught the cook books on display nearby. I randomly picked up one and browsed through the same. While going through the pages, this recipe caught my attention. By this time it was my turn at the cash counter. I kept the book aside and continued with my payment. But, in my mind that particular recipe was hovering all over. I remembered it because it was just a three basic ingredient recipe.

_DSC0133Once I reached home, I immediately took out puff pastry squares from the freezer to let it thaw. It was so simple that I made for dessert after dinner. To my surprise it came out so so damn good and that made me regret why didn’t I make few more! The crisp puff pastry with melting chocolate over apple slices and the nutty bites, oh! it was heavenly.

This recipe is so perfect for occassions or situations when you have limited time and would also give a fancy touch to your tea – coffee party or any get together. I involved my kids too and they were really excited to arrange the pastry sheets on the baking tray, while another one decorated with crushed chocolates and nuts and topped with apple slices. My little Annie was too generous to sprinkle sugar over the galettes saying it to be her piksy dust, throwing some magic over it. Believe me the result was truly amazing and magical  🙂

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* A galette is a flattish kind of french cake, usually made from flaky pastry. So easy, we have arranged some chocolate, nuts and fruit over the pasrty, that’s all we have done.

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g milk?dark chocolate( shaved or crushed)
  • 1/4 cup ground nuts( I have used almonds and pistachios)
  • 4 puff pastry squares thawed or 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed and cut into quaters.
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 medium apple ( or any fruit of your choice, but apple and pear goes best)
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar

DIRECTION

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degree. Line a backing tray with a backing parchment.
  2. In a bowl combine the chocolate and nuts
  3. Place the pastry sheet on oven tray, prick with a fork and brush them with milk. Now divide and spread the choco-nut mixture over the pastry squares, leaving 2cm border.
  4. Peel, core the apple and cut it into thin slices. Spread the apple slices over the pastry sheet and sprinkle it with sugar and some more nuts. Bake them for 15 minutes or until they are puffed and light golden brown.

Treat  and impress your family and friends with this smart-looking french cake and your desired beverage

CHAPLI KABAB

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“Afghan jalebi, mashooq farebi, ghayal hai tera dewana bhai wah…bahi wah wah wah!!…….”  You must be wondering, what the hell i am saying! Well, I was singing and dancing to the tune of this Bollywood dance number that summer afternoon along with my little daughter Annie, with her crazy moves and steps. I laughed my lungs out when she tried singing and repeating the song in her accent, oh god! it sounded damn funny.

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While I was trying to teach her how to pronounce the word “Afghan”, my elder darling asked, “Do the people of Afghanistan eat jalebis?” Another silly question, to which, I laughed again and explained that meat in many forms are widely used in their cuisine, like kababs and grills. To give them a taste of one of Afghani kababs, I once again made these “Chappli Kabab” on Friday last weekend.

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And then, when I finally presented this new dish to Renee and Annie, proudly announcing, TADA… here is your Friday special, Afghani Chappli Kabab. Visibly and pleasantly surprised, and utterly amused at the same time, they laughed out loud saying what kind of a name is this, Chappli kabab!! and why such a weird name, they demanded to know. To that, my spontaneous answer was, “because it looks flat like chappals (in hindi) or sandals”; and somehow managed to convince them.

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I had it for the very first time, in a Pakistani restaurant here, but the one I ate at one of my friends place few years back was super delicious. I couldn’t wait to try it by myself following her recipe but with few alterations. My dish too turned out real good. The kababs were tender, juicy, and quite unlike anything I’d had before. I was mighty pleased with the final outcome of my effort, and thereafter repeated it quite a number of times in my home parties, and get togethers, as like i did last weekend. I earned lots of hugs and kisses from my two darlings and so you too can give it a try.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 500gm minced lamb or mutton
  • 2 Medium Onions
  • 1 Medium Potatoes
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste 
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Fresh Green Chili
  • 1 tsp anardana( pomegranate seeds)
  • 1 Medium bowl of fresh chopped coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  •  CHAPLI KABAB spice mix by SHAAN.
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp oil or a little more for frying.

DIRECTION

  1. Add onion, green chilies, coriander, potato into a chopper and pluse the entire ingredients into finely chopped texture.
  2. Take the minced meat in a large bowl. Add the above chopped ingredients, ginger garlic paste, anardana, whisked egg, Shan chapli kabab spice mix, flour and salt. Now mix all the ingredients properly until very well combined then keep it aside for 30 mins.
  3. Now the mixture is all ready to be made into chapli kababs. Heat the oil in a pan, meanwhile start making small or medium flat patty or kababs out of the mixture. Now wet your palms a little with water to avoid the kabab mixture sticking on to your palms and for the neat patties to come out neat.
  4. Once the oil is hot enough carefully slide in the kababas into the hot oil not more than 3-4 in a batch. Shallow fry both sides on low to medium heat until nice golden brown and crisp.
  5. Take it out on plate lined with paper towel. Serve it with some green chutney, onion slices and lime wedges.

FALAFEL- My Turkish Falafel, yumminess that cannot be resisted!

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Its that time of the year again, when shops, supermarket, and hypermarkets in particular, wear a festive look with colourful posters, banners, and irresistable offers and dispalys of various items and you know ramadan is round the corner and once Ramadan sets it can Eid be far behind.

Here I bring you quick lip smacking Ramadan special recipes and making your Suhoor and Iftars super special.

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FALAFEL, where did it come from? Well, the Wiki theory suggests falafel was invented by the Egyptians, some says Israeli’s, where it is the national food of the country. Wherever it may have originated but it has widely conqured almost all the Middle Eastern countries.

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INGREDIENTS

  •  2 cups dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans ( when I say dry it must dry chickpeas and not canned one, else you will end up making humus)
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3-5 cloves garlic (I prefer roasted)
  • 1 large bunch chopped parsley
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 11/2 tbsp flour
  • Salt according to taste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup white sesame white seeds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (optional)
  • Vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTION

  1. Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them by about 3 inches of cold water. Let them soak overnight. They will double in size as they soak – you will have between 4 and 5 cups of beans after soaking.
  2. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans well. Pour them into your food processor along with the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice.
  3. Pulse all ingredients together until a rough, coarse meal forms. Scrape the sides of the processor periodically and push the mixture down the sides. Process till the mixture is somewhere the texture of a course paste. The mixture should be such that it holds together to form a small ping-pong shaped ball or a small patty , and a more paste-like consistency will help with that, but donot over process, else the mixture will turn to humus!
  4. Once the mixture reaches the desired consistency, pour it out into a bowl and use a fork to stir; this will make the texture more even throughout. Remove any large chickpea chunks that the processor missed.
  5. Now add in the baking soda ( which is absolutely optional) and the sesame seeds. I like the sesame seeds to be mixed together, because this gives a nice nutty taste with every bite you have, instead of coating it at the last.
  6. Fill a skillet with vegetable oil to a depth of 1 ½ inches. I prefer to use cooking oil with a high smoke point, like canola. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat. Meanwhile, form falafel mixture into round balls or slider-shaped patties using wet hands or a falafel scoop. I usually use about 2 tbsp of mixture per falafel. You can make them smaller or larger depending on your personal preference. The balls will stick together loosely at first, but will bind nicely once they begin to fry.
  7.  To test, fry just one in the center of the pan, before frying the first batch of falafel. If the oil is at the right temperature, it will take 2-3 minutes per side to brown. If it browns faster than that, your oil is too hot and your falafels will not be fully cooked in the center. Wait till the oil cools down slightly and  then try again. Once the oil is in right temperature, fry the falafels in batches of 5-6 at a time till golden brown on both sides.
  8. Once the falafels are fried, remove them from the oil and keep it on plate with paper towel to drain out the excess oil. Serve the falafels fresh and hot; they are perfect with some pickled salad or a  plate of hummus and topped with creamy tahini sauce.

To make a Pita sandwich, you can stuff them into a pita with fresh salad and humus.

THANDAI Panacotta

 

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This year I was not very excited about Holi, perhaps because of kids exams and being a mum I was quite occupied with helping them with their studies and nursing them as bothwere down with flue, until a few days ago when i saw the hoardings of Holi celebration to be held at quite a few places in Bahrain. A fair not to be missed where there will be various food stalls serving traditional delicacies, crafts, splash of colors and DJ lifting up your spirits. Mere seeing these advertisements were more than enough to lift my spirits in celebrating the festival of colors.

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Holi celebrations without “Thandai” and sweets is incomplete. This flavorful drink is quite common in India during Holi. Its is a fragrant and refreshing  drink with richness of milk, almonds and cashews, spiced with peppercorns, fennel, cardamom, poppy etc and the rose petals gives a truly royal touch to the drink.

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Thandai masala is very easy to make and taste way better than the store bought ones. You make the masala in a batch and store it in an air tight cointainer so that it is readily availabe for you to use whenever necessary.

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This fusion recipe is surely going to win every ones heart

INGREDIENTS

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For Thandai Masala

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashew
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 2 tbsp watermelon seeds( magaz)
  •  1 tbsp fenel seeds ( saunf)
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds( khus khus)
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorn( kali mirch)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg ( jaiphal powder)
  • 10-15 green cardamom( elaich)
  • 1/2 tsp saffron
  • 1 tbsp gulkand or rose petals

DIRECTION

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a grinder except the gulkand and grind into a fine powder. Once done store it into a glass air tight container so that you can use it whenever needed for 2-3 weeks.

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For Thandai Panacotta

  • 400 ml thick cream
  • 1 tbsp gelatin
  • 1 tbsp gulkand
  • 4-5 tbsp powdered sugar
  • few saffron strands
  • 2-3 tbsp thandai paste ( mix 2 tbsp thandai masala with 3 tbsp milk and blend it into a fine paste)

DIRECTION

  1. In a deep bottom sauce pan heat the cream on a low flame but Do not boil. Meanwhile in a separate bowl mix the gelatin with little lukewarm water and keep it aside to bloom.
  2. Now add the gulkand, sugar, saffron and the thandai paste and mix well until well combined.
  3. Once the cream starts boiling remove from  heat do not let it boil. Once the thandai cream mixture cools down a little take few table spoon full and mix with the gelatin. Now por the gelatin cream mix into the thandai cream mixture. Stir well until all the ingredients are very incorporated.
  4. Now transfer the thandai cream mixture into your desired mounds or bowls.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 . Garnish your panacotta  with some gulkand or rose syrup or simply finely chopped  pistachio and almonds before serving.

GRILLED FISH with Mustard, Ginger-Garlic,Cilantro, Chili and Lime………,, Zero oil deliciousness!!

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Happy Celebration guys!!! Yes, why not celebrate any ordinary day or a weekend. Celebrate when you have friends casually coming home or even on relaxed afternoon with family.  This is an apt recipe for such occasion of celebrating life. Such an easy  recipe and superbly loaded with flavor.

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Now cooking whole fish this way, with skin and bones keeps the fish moist and seals all the flavors in. The best thing about grilling fish is that it so quick and hardly takes any time. It is like by the time you arrange your table and plates, your fish is ready to serve.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 500g fresh Naiser fish (You can use mackerel, sardines, any small or fresh water fish)

For the marinade

  • 4-5 cloves of medium size garlic
  • 5-6 fresh green chilies ( adjust according to your taste)
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp white mustard seeds
  • fresh coriander 1 bunch
  • salt to taste
  • 2 medium lime juice

* Note: No oil has been used in this recipe, but this is absolutely optional you can drizzle mustard oil or olive oil if you wish

DIRECTION

  1. For the marinade combine all the ingredients for marinade in a blender and blend it into a fine paste.
  2. Arrange the fish in a baking tray lined with an aluminium foil. Now pour the marinade over the fish. Turn the fish to make sure every fish are evenly coated in and out. Leave aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile pre heat the oven both grill and bake at 225c.
  4. Cover the fish with an aluminium foil and leave in the middle rack of your oven for 10-15 minutes. Later remove the foil cover and keep on the top rack of your oven and let it grill for another 10 minutes or until you get a charred look.
  5. Your fish is ready to serve. Serve it with a squeeze of lime ( and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or mustard oil, optional) and your desired salad or salsa.

Healthy Quinoa Dosa with fresh fenugreek leaves and onions

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Take regular Dosa to a whole new level. Breakfast to me is the most important meal of the day and I don’t mind taking  efforts to prepare one. I even don’t mind waking up half an hour early to have a good satisfied breakfast.

Here’s a healthier take on a classic dosa. I don’t say traditional dosa is unhealthy, but for those who are gluten intolerant this recipe serves well.  Frankly speaking, experiment like this has been truly a gift for my family. I always look for ways to increase the nutritional value of my food and wanted my girls to somehow eat and like quinoa. I tried many other ways but this ended up to be the most loved quinoa recipe.

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Quinoa is considered to be a super food because of its high protein content, high in iron and magnesium, added to this they are rich omega-3. This super grain dosa works fantastic for a post workout meal. since it is gluten free this seed has become increasingly popular among the vegans for its rich source of protein.

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Yellow or green lentil mixed with quinoa results in increased nutritional value compared to the regular Dosa.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup skinless whole or split Urad or Yellow split lentil( urad dal or yellow/green moong dal)
  • 1 tbsp Fenugreek seeds( methi seeds)
  • Virgin coconut oil or any other cooking oil
  • Salt as per taste
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh fenugreek leaves.

DIRECTION

  1. Soak the quinoa, lentil and fenugreek seeds together for 6 hours or minimum of 4 hours.
  2. Grind into a smooth batter of flowing consistency. Transfer into a large bowl, mix salt and let it ferment for overnight or 6 hours at least. You will notice the batter has risen due to fermentation.
  3. Heat a Dosa pan or a flat griddle and spread a big ladle full batter evenly in a circular motion. Now spread some chopped onions and chopped methi. Drizzle a tea-spoon of oil to make the crepe crisper. This is optional.
  4. Once the Dosa/crepe becomes golden brown on both sides and becomes crispy, for this shouldn’t take more than two minutes on each side. Now your super crispy quinoa dosa is ready to serve.

You can serve with any desired chutney or sambar or can have just like that.

 

NO BAKE VANILLA CHEESECAKE With blueberry coulis and strawberry compote

 

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Traditionally its been observed that , everyone goes all out to let their special someone knows how much they are appreciated on this day and everyday. A valentine can be a spouse, lover, parent, sibling, child, or a friend who is happy for you and cares about you. one who is always there with you and walks with you, lifting your spirits and for whom your presence means a lot.

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It is fine and good to have a no bake cheesecake for a busy weekday dinner to make that usual evening an extra special one, because it’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air, in stores, at florist, every damn place at least for this day. This takes no time to impress your loved ones. Happy Valentine’s day to all!!

Occasions are endless these days, at least one to two a week and hence i wanted something light, i meant light in calories and not in texture. This has come out to be perfect with right amount of sweetness, luxuriously smooth and creamy.

*Here I had set the cheese cake into individual 3.5 cm moulds for individual serving.

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (200g  graham crackers)
  • 2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp melted butter

For the filling

  • 3/4 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 450g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup icing sugar

For the Blueberry Coulis

  • 4 cups of fresh blueberry
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

For the Strawberry compote

  • 2 cups fresh chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp butter

DIRECTION

  1. For the crust–  In a  bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and sugar. Add in the melted butter and mix until well-combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform cake tin about 2 inches thick . Now refrigerate for half an hour , in the meanwhile you can prepare the filling .
  2. For the filling– In a large bowl, in goes the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar. With the help of  an electric handheld mixer, mix it until the texture becomes smooth and light. Now add the sour cream and whipping cream and mix until thick and creamy,for about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Spread the filling mixture evenly into the prepared tin with the crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Serve plain, with fresh fruit or a fruit sauce (see note above).
  4. For the Coulis– In a saucepan combine the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved, for nearly about 10 minutes. Now transfer the mixture into a blender and blend it until you get a smooth puree. your blueberry coulis is ready.
  5. For the strawberry compote–  In a medium combine all the ingredients  for compote in a saucepan and  simmer with continous stirring , until thick and syrupy (adjust the  sugar if needed depending on the fruit as well as adding a little water slowly if the sauce is overly thick).

Pasteis de Nata – Traditional Portuguese custard tarts

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If you happen to go to Lisbon, you will hear everyone talking about one thing and that is     “Pasteis de Nata”. A typical portuguese pastry, a kind of mini tartlet with flan or creamy custard, served warm with cinnamon and icing sugar.The cream pastries are one of the most popular specialities of Portuguese sweets. It can even be said that they are one of the symbols of Portuguese culture. This sweet is often accompanied by Galão (a typical beverage of Lisbon with a perfect balance of 3/4 hot foamed milk and 1/4 espresso, that makes it similar to cafe latte).

Its been dull cold weather from past few weeks and raining too. Not at all Bahrain type of weather. I needed sunshine in my kitchen and so I made these mini tartlets of pure delight! Pasteis de Nata! for a change, from the usual color red, to this warm sunshine, this valentine season I opted to make these golden mini melt in the mouth jewels.

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They did not last long at home as all my three darlings, my husband and my two adorable daughters, who are not so sweet lover could not resist it and complimented that I brought the beauty of Lisbon at home.

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Ingredients

  • puff pastry 600 g frozen and thawed
  • 500 ml milk
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 60g flour
  • 500g sugar
  • 250 ml water
  • 7 egg yolk

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Method

  1. With a rolling pin roll the dough into a rectangular shape
  2. Now wrap the dough into a roll and pressing well.cut dough into slices into thickness of 1.5cm
  3. flatten the slices into the shapes of biscuits. You can use a round cutter to even a neat even round shape for each of the slices and smear them with butter.
  4. Place the shapes on a greased muffin tray. With the help of  your thumbs, start pushing the center of the dough and spread it until the edges so that they become thicker, making the dough more thin on the bottom.
  5.  Then in a medium pan put the milk and the lemon peal and, little by little, join the flour, whisking it until there’s no lump. On a stove top over medium heat Stir until it begins to boil and becomes a creamy texture, then turn off the heat.
  6. In another pan, boil sugar and water and stir until very well dissolved.
    After starting to boil, let boil for exactly 3 minutes.
    Add the sugar syrup in the above cream milk mixture and stir well for few more minutes.                                                                                                                                                   Take it out of the heat and let it cool down completely.
  7. Add the egg yolks with the cream and stir well.
    Fill the shapes with the cream.
    Bake in preheated oven at 250 degrees for 17 minutes, until the pastry looks golden and the custard looks yellow and with tiny brown spots. And that is done! You can eat them warm or cold, and a bit of cinnamon on top makes the perfect tart!

** If the spots do not appear that is okay too, they will taste the same! And don’t worry if the custard make a big bubble out of the cup, that is normal. As soon as you take them out of the oven that bubble will sink.

 

PANEER BAINGAN LAZZEEZ ( No onion garlic cottage cheese and eggplant)

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I call it “Spiritual paneer baingan lazzeez”.  This story started  15 years ago in Pai Layout, Bangalore now Bengaluru. Biman and I started meeting each other on a regular basis. He invited me home for a Sunday lunch. I knew he used to cook his meal daily in those days but I had no clue how good a cook he was. He used to be a pure vegetarian then. All his dishes were absolutely a no onion garlic dish. In fact there was no existence of onion and garlic in his kitchen.

There was mixed thoughts in my mind, wondering how tasty will the curries and veggies be when made without using onion and garlic. Will it be :/ ?  Contrary to my thoughts, Biman used to tell me that all the recipes without use of onion and garlic are equally yummy or some even tastier than those dishes with use of onion and garlic. Only on certain religious occasions I used to have a no onion garlic meal.

Moreover in college days cooking used to be mostly quick meals, chicken and rice, dal chicken and rice or a gravy and rice. Something which is quick, easy to prepare, tasty and light on my pocket. Experimenting with these few things was always exciting for me but rarely tried anything without using onion and garlic except for when my kitchen ran out of stock of onion and garlic.

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Coming back to the Sunday lunch, it was simple vegetarian menu with a rice and dal, two sides, a paneer dish, salad, yogurt & sweets. To my surprise, Everything was so tasty that I couldn’t believe they were made with just the regular spices and ginger only. Amongst all, paneer baingan was the highlight of the lunch. An unusual combination of eggplant and cottage cheese sunken in a tomato based gravy with the richness of whole spices and ghee. This is why I used the term Lazzeez. According to Biman the authentic taste or flavor comes when the entire dish is made with Desi ghee(clarified butter).

Ghee is basically a pure combination of fats, without any milk residue and that’s why it does not require refrigeration. If eaten in moderation, ghee can provide your body with higher concentration of essential nutrients that are not available in butter. Omega-3      (mono saturated fats) is an important form of healthy fat found in ghee. apart from it good source of Vitamin A,E and D. It is energy booster, reduces bad cholesterol, powerful antioxidant, giving a glowing skin. Ghee is staple in traditional Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine.

Though I grew up having ghee almost daily made at home by my mother, but eventually with the exposure of media, use of ghee remained bare minimum, until we stepped into the fitness world. The fitness trainers and many renowned nutritionist here in Bahrain and globally encourage taking moderate amount of ghee in our regular meals. Now pure home-made ghee is an essential ingredient in my kitchen and my lifestyle.

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In this recipe the eggplant and paneer sautéed separately with ghee and then combined together and cooked gently in a puree of tomatoes, whole spices and masala, resulting in a unique rich succulent flavor of eggplant and  buttery cottage cheese. This year as we celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary I decided to treat him at lunch with exactly similar yellow rice and paneer baingan that he made for me 15 years back. For the first time I tried making this dish and was glad that I could nail it perfectly.

INGREDIENTS

  • 300 gm paneer or cottage cheese cut into cubes
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp finely chopped green chilies
  • whole spices( 2 small stick cinnamon, 3 cardamom, 4 cloves, 1-2 bay leaf)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp oil for frying
  • 2 tbsp ghee( clarified butter) for cooking
  • 1 cup water

DIRECTION

  1. Heat oil in a shallow pan and fry the paneer cubes marinated with salt and a pinch of turmeric evenly for a about 2 minutes or until slightly golden on all sides, over a medium heat. Now take out the paneer cubes on a plate with a kitchen towel to drain out the excess oil.
  2. Cut the eggplant into an inch thick half-moon shape, toss some salt and a pinch of turmeric in it. Now in the same pan shallow fry the eggplant over medium heat by covering until the eggplant pieces becomes tender and golden on both sides. Once done drain out the excess oil on a plate lined with a kitchen towel.
  3. Heat the ghee/clarified butter in another pan over medium heat. First add the whole spices and chopped ginger, then add the tomato puree and cook for a few minutes. Now add all the spice powder, the turmeric, cumin, coriander, kashmiri red chili, salt and sugar.
  4. Add half cup water, then fried paneer cubes and eggplant . Cover with a lid and let it cook on low heat for about 4-5 minutes until the spices, paneer and eggplant are well combined. Add the remaining water if needed.
  5. Remove the lid and bring it a final boil and adding the garam masala powder and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Enjoy your Paneer Baingan Lazeez with some hot rotis or saffron rice.