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.

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.

 

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.

 

GRILLED HALOUMI SPINACH OPEN SANDWICH

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With a heart full of enthusiasm and happiness I welcome the winters in Bahrain.  This is the season perfect for outdoors, catching up with friends over a cup of coffee. I love the pleasant winter of Bahrain. The warm sunshine brings a bright smile on my face.

Why not jump-start your day with a healthy breakfast while grabbing every little moment of happiness with your loved ones out in the sunny winter morning.

My grilled haloumi spinach sandwich is easy to prepare, quick , with a mouth full of flavors and health.The delicious flavor of haloumi cheese with spinach is simply wonderful, and the roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds gives it a perfect nutty bite. To top it with an egg, a sunny side up is my all time favorite. What more could you ask for to start a lovely weekday morning.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 multi grain or whole meal baguette
  • 150-200 gm holoumi cheese cut into an inch thick strips or slices
  • A bunch of fresh roughly chopped spinach
  • 1 sliced medium red bell pepper
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
  • 2 eggs poached or omlette sunny side up
  • 1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • Butter for the baguette

DIRECTION

  1. Butter the baguette generously and keep it aside
  2. Take a pan and very lightly drizzle with some olive oil . Toss the haloumi cheese strips for just a few seconds on both sides. Transfer them into a bowl and keep it aside.
  3. In the same pan toss the sliced bell peppers and the cherry tomatoes.
  4.  To assemble the sandwich, take the buttered baguette and top it with the chopped spinach, then the grilled haloumi, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes
  5. Top it with a sunny side up egg and some fresh cracked pepper. Drizzle some more extra virgin olive oil.

An amazing breakfast packed with protiens, calcium, minerals and  carbs to kick start your day .

Mumbai style…MISAL PAV

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Totally in love with this lip smacking popular street food of Mumbai and also a traditional  Maharashtrian breakfast food. Misal is a spicy curry with mixed sprouts or moth/ matki beans, chopped onions, tomatoes,tamarind and spices, served  with a local bread called Pav. What makes this spicy curry apart from other curries with sprouts is the misal masala/ goda masala, a traditional Maharshtrian masala used for usal. 

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Everyday without fail Sudha used to come to Raheja Vihar with her cart of fresh vegetables of the day by 5pm. A lady in her late 50’s ,who looked older than her age, but her spirits is worth mentioning. Most of time accompanied by her grand daughter. People say it right the spirits of any Mumbaikar is always high. She would keep humming some marathi songs throughout the time. Extremely friendly with all her regular customers and everyone liked her for this  friendly and helping nature.  Despite of her age and almost continuous standing for 3 hrs or more more some days, she would many a times i have seen, happily carrying the bag of vegetables to respective apartments of her customers if happened to be old or pregnant.  

Often she used to tell me, which vegetable goes well with what to make a that particular curry. There i first heard about Misal Pav, which she used to have quite often, perhaps. But I never bothered to ask her what was it. Moreover, her mixed up lingo of hindi and marathi often went off my head and i simply used to nod my head. For 9 months almost regularly i talked to her and listened to her and her so often misal pav tales. Later when i got introduced to this particular dish, i realized what a power packed and wholesome dish is this Misal Pav. Not doubt Sudha at her late 50’s was so energetic and vibrant, i assume that was the Misal pav magic mixed with the high spirits of Mumbai people.

To get the taste closest to the authentic Usal- misal one can use garam masala if misal masala is not available, but here in my recipe i mixed a Kolhapuri spicy masala given by one of my friend with garam masala which tasted awesome. I love spicy food, but unfortunately my kids cannot tolerate too much of spices and I end up adding minimum spices in my curries, therefore adding extra spices of any form in my portion._dsc0899

INGREDIENTS for Usal curry

  • 2 cups mixed sprouts( i have used chana or chick peas, moth beans, dry green peas, rajma or kidney beans, black eye beans, whole green moong dal or whole green moong lentil)
  • 1 potato cut into small cubes
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped ginger and garlic or 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • few curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 -1/2 tsp garam masala mixed with Kolhapuri masala (since goda or kala masala is not available here I used this. You can use goda masala if available or simply garam masala)
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder or can use Kashmiri red chili powder
  • Pinch of asafetida
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or jaggery
  • salt as per taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder/dhania powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder/jeera powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds,
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup water or as as per requirement
  • 2 tbsp oil

FOR GARNISH

  • 1 finely chopped tomato
  • 1 large finely chopped onion
  • 2 finely chopped green chilies
  • 1 bunch of chopped coriander
  • 3-4 lime wedges
  • 1 cup of farsan or fried savory snack mix
  • 1/2 cup creamy beaten yogurt(optional)

DIRECTION

  1. Pressure cook the sprouts and potato cubes with required amount of 3-3 1/2 cups of water( the water level ideally has to be an inch above the mixed sprouts in the   cooker ) and salt. Allow 2-3 whistles then turn off the heat.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan or kadai, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafetida
  3. Now add the onions and saute until translucent, then add the green chilies, curry leaves, ginger garlic paste and saute for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and saute until its cooked, then add the tamarind paste,all the masalas or spices powder except for the garam masala. Saute for a 2-3 minutes till all combined and cooked well by adding slight water to avoid the masala burn.
  5. Now add the cooked sprouts, mix well and let it simmer for a few minutes. Add in the garam masala at this point and further let it simmer for a couple of minutes until the gravy thickens.
  6. Finally add in some fresh chopped coriander leaves. Your spicy usal is ready to serve.

Hey! but you are not suppose to eat right from the pan, lets have it in a typically Maharashtrian style.

FOR AUTHENTIC PLATING STYLE

  1. Apply butter to both sides of the pav or bun and gently toast it in a pan.
  2. Garnish the usal gravy in a sectioned plate or a bowl with some chopped tomatoes, onions, green chilies, squeeze of lime, chopped coriander leaves, mix farsan and a dash of yogurt or even chutney.
  3. Serve them hot with the buttered pavs or buns.

 

TUNISIAN CHICKEN TAGINE

 

 

_DSC0229Manisha:  La classe est pas intéressant sans toi. Je manque  votre classe.

Amal: C’est trés gentil de ta part

Amal: Let me know if you all need any help with your lesson

Manisha: Yes we do have doubts and need your help

Amal: If you wish we can have sessions in my home.

Manisha: Ce sera parfait

And that’s how this interesting new way of learning French language and Tunisian food began. We used to sit together for hours discussing my lessons and talking about food, Tunisian and other cultures and about fashion a lot. Amal too is an enthusiastic cook, she loves trying out different cuisines. She being a Tunisian, not only cooked delicious Tunisian food but also many other different cusines. Thus, i got this opportunity to learn new cuisine along with french language.

My session at her place would always start with a cup of tunisian tea or a coffee of her style or turkish coffee, with something yummy to munch that she had cooked and had saved some for me too try out. More than being my French teacher, she is a lady with a golden heart, a great motivator and a fun-loving person. This had indeed made learning more fun.

To my knowledge TAGINE, which is a slow cooked dish mostly with lamb is a Moroccan delicacy, until i met Amal and got to know that there are different kinds of tagine preparation.  Tagine is a popular and local dish of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, North Africa.

Tunisian tagine is very different from Moroccan tagine. This is an egg based dish into which , chunks of liver, chicken , lamb, veggies or even only veggies are added. Seasoned with some fresh herbs and spices; cheese, beans and bread crumbs are used to give a nice texture to the dish. Unlike the usual Moroccan tagine which stew based, this is meal on its own or more like ” Italian frittata”.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 300 gm chicken breast cut into small chunks
  • 1 medium potato cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp of chopped carrots
  • 1 medium onion roughly diced
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped parsley( chopped coriander can also be used substituting parsley)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano and thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika or harissa( optional)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  •  4-5 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheese
  • Salt as per taste
  • parmesan cheese for garnish 

DIRECTION

  1. Pre heat the oven in 180c -200c.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the onion and garlic for a minute or two, then add the chicken, potatoes and carrots and cook over medium heat for another few mins until lightly golden and cooked through, season it with some salt, pepper and oregano. Turn off the heat and keep it aside.
  3. In a large bowl take four whole eggs, add baking powder, the seasoning and whisk until eggs are well combined. 
  4. Add the fried chicken, veggies, bread crumbs, cheese( keep little aside for garnish), parsley, paprika. Mix all properly, then transfer into a greased baking dish and bake it for 30 minutes approx in a preheated oven at 180c.
  5. Once the top layer of the tagine turns golden, check it with a fork, if it comes out clean that means your tagine is done. Take it out and allow it to cool slightly. Now cut it into squares and serve with some nice green salads.  

CHEESY SPINACH AND CORN SANDWICH

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What do wanna have for breakfast ??? The question has kind of become a ritual over the years in my home.  Desi taste buds, fit foodies, continental taste buds, no tastebuds…. Yes I do mean it. My girls fall under this category. When I ask them what would they like to have, a straight and simple answer would be ” I don’t know”….., thus drives me crazy. 

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I love sandwiches and love making them too. Spinach, corn, herbs and topped with cheddar and mozzarella makes a  perfect start  for the day. A balance of fiber, iron, carbs and protein will give hell loads of energy to kick off a day. This sandwich is also a great option for a kids snack box.

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INGREDIENTS 

• 1 cup frozen sweet corn

• 1 bunch spinach chopped

• pinch of garlic powder

some cracked black pepper and salt for seasoning

• 1/2 tsp dried oregano

• 1 tsp butter or olive oil

• Cheese spread or butter to spread on the bread

• 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping.

1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

• 6 slices of  white or whole meal bread

DIRECTION 

1) Add a butter to the pan on medium heat. Now add the corn and spinach a give a quick stir. 

2) Add the cheese and season with salt pepper,garlic powder and oregano. Once the cheese starts melting transfer into a bowl and keep it aside.

3) Prepare your bread by spreading your desired spread like butter, cheese, humus etc. Now top one slice of bread with the corn-cheese-spinach filling, top it with some more mozzarella cheese and cover with the other slice.

4) Toast your sandwiches on a grill pan with a brush of butter on both sides to give a nice grill texture. Once the cheese starts melting transfer into a plate and cut in between to give two even triangles. 

Enjoy your sandwich with a nice cup of coffee or a glass of your favorite fresh juice or shake.