Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ajji's Chicken Soup(for the soul) - Guest Post for Friendship Chain

Remember the guest post I did for "Friendship Chain - Spread the Specialty" about a fortnight ago for Priya of Priya's Easy and Tasty?? Now its time for me to pass that friendship torch to someone else. Blogging has expanded not just my culinary horizon but also brought me closer to many like-minded folks- Radhika of Food for 7 stages of life being the first and foremost. She is one person with whom I have taken the friendship beyond blogging. Of-course there are a few others now with whom I have established such  a wonderful connection but I have known Radhika right from the time I began blogging. She has offered me plenty of tips about blogging, made me realize the full potential of social networking and such. Besides being helpful, she is an extremely amicable person with a serene attitude and I consider myself fortunate that I bumped into her and her blog.Plus she has been gracious enough to share a chicken soup recipe that I encourage you all to try.
Make sure to check out her lovely space and a borrowed recipe from her space that I posted sometime in 2009: Madurai Chicken Curry/Kudi Amti.

Radhika Takes Over:
CL is one of the few people I first got acquainted in blogosphere and took our relationship beyond commenting in each others blog and saying a Hi. When I was too shy in making friends, she came forward and spoke to me. Since then we have spoken hours over phone. Two weeks ago I received a call from her asking me to do a guest post in her blog. I agreed to it without a second thought. It is a pleasure and privilege to write a guest post for such a wonderful friend.
CL wanted me to share a Sourashtrian recipe through this guest post. Immediately I remembered my Ajji's (Grandmother's) chicken soup , a post that has been pending ever since I started this blog. Though it sounds simple, this particular soup has been dear to me. I always make it on special occasions or whenever I miss my Mom/Grandma terribly. This soup requires minimal ingredients and it is less spicy. Hence it is a tradition in our  family to feed it to the infants/toddlers. My grandmother makes this soup, mixes it with a bowl of rice, adds lots of love and feeds us.  She fed this to her 5 children and then to an army of her grand children. My Mom followed her footsteps and I will do the same. I wonder how a simple food like this can have in-numerous memories in each one of us. 
  • Chicken - 200 gm
  • Shallots/Pearl Onion - 4
  • Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 tsp
  • Pepper Powder - 1 tsp / to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Curry leaves - few
  • Oil - 3 tsp
  • Water - 2 cups
  • In a pressure cooker, add oil. When it is hot add finely chopped shallots and saute until it turns translucent. Add curry leaves.
  • Add Chicken pieces and fry for 2-3 minutes on a medium flame.
  • Add ginger garlic paste and fry until the raw smell disappears around 3 minutes.
  • Add salt, 1 tsp pepper powder. Bring it to boil.Close the lid and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. (In India Amma usually waits for atleast 5 whistles)
  • Remove from flame. Allow the steam to release. Open the lid, adjust salt and pepper, transfer to serving bowls and serve it hot.
      You can mix this soup with rice and feed it to infants/kids.

South Beach Diet Adaptable:

       Use Chicken breast and you can have it in all 3 phases of SBD.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Ridge Gourd/Chinese Okra/Silk Melon Curry

Day 7 of BM7: Give this curry, a few flat-breads,a dollop of yogurt and my hubby wouldn't ask for anything else.There is something about this curry/chutney that gives that content look on his face. Its certainly a mystery to me. I will let you conclude whats so special about this once you make and taste it for yourself. Okay?

I got this recipe from one of the special edition of a local Indian Women's Magazine, Snehithi(=GirlFriend) ages ago. Sorry I misplaced the book and I don't have a link. You have to just take my word for it. :) With this lovely post I successfully wrap another edition of this Blogging Marathon.

For first-timer readers, here is a what I posted for this edition of BM with theme "Cooking from the books":
Ridge Gourd/Chinese Okra:
  • 3 "Foot-long" Tender Ridge Gourd/Chinese Okra, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 Hot Green Chili, finely chopped, seeds and all
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 Medium Tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 Stalk Curry leaf, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Tsp Chili Powder or more/less
  • 1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 Tsp Split Black Gram/Urad Dhal
  • 3-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
For Garnishing:
  • 3-4 Curry Leaves
  • 1/4 Tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 2-3 Red and Green Hot Chili
  • 1 Tsp Olive Oil
  • In a pan, heat the oil and add the Black Gram, Cumin Seeds and Mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the chopped onion, chopped garlic and green chili.
  • Fry the onion until its translucent.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, chopped ridge gourd, curry leaves, chili powder and turmeric powder and a little salt.
  • Lid the pan and cook on a low flame with as little water as possible for about 15-20 minutes.Check for salt and spice.
  • For Garnishing: Heat the oil and fry the mustard seeds, curry leaves and chili and add it on the top of the curry.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spinach And Chickpea Curry

Day 6 of BM7: A nice and filling everyday curry that goes perfectly well with Indian Flatbread "Roti".While Channa Masala and Chickpea Sundal With Shredded Mango and Carrot are my favorite ways to eat chickpea, this will do too.Recipe inspiration comes from The Wholesome Kitchen.
  • 1 Can (1 lb and 13 oz/822 g) Cooked Chickpea, drained and thoroughly cleaned
  • 4 Cups Packed Fresh Spinach Leaves, cleaned and drained
  • 1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Medium Ripe Tomatoes, pureed
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves, roughly minced 
  • 1/2" Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 Tsp Chili Powder (or more/less)
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Ghee/Clarified Butter, optional
  • Salt as needed
  • In a pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds, minced garlic, minced ginger and chopped onions. Fry till the onion is translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes along with coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric powder and lid the pan. Cool until a gravy like consistency if formed. Add salt.
  • Add the drained and cleaned chickpea.
  • Pour a cup of water and check for taste.Add more salt and chili powder if needed.
  • Throw the spinach into the pan and reduce the flame.
  • Cook for 5-10 minutes or until the spinach wilts.
  • Add a tbsp of ghee at the very end and switch off the stove.
  • Serve warm as an excellent side-dish for soft and fluffy roti.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lattice-Crust Topped Berry Tart (With Detailed Pictures)

Day 5 of BM7: When me and my close buddies get together we make sure we bake something new..that is, bake something that requires a little bit of effort and something that none of us have attempted to do before. The last time we all got together under the same roof, we decided to bake this wonderful "Lattice-crust topped Berry Tart". Weaving the "interlaced top" was a bit intimidating but soon my friends took over and they finished it for me. Much later our kids and hubbies helped to polish it off. The crust practically melted into the mouth due to the amount of butter and the texture of the dough which I had taken extreme care to not overwork with.The recipe for the crust is from the book Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts.

The filling could have been sweeter..I felt that I should have added more sugar because berries weren't in season at the time this tart was made. I could taste the tartness of the strawberry in every bite. But if I were to make this again, like today, I wouldn't have had any problem at all cause the berries are in peak and oh-so juicy and sweet! Thinking of juicy summer berries are making me feel weak in the knee. The endless possibilities of baking with them is making me drool.. :)
For the 10" or 11" double-crust Tart shell:
  • 2-1/2 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup(2 Sticks) Cold Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 - 1/2 Cup Ice-Cold Water
For the Filling:
  • 3-4 Cups Fresh of Frozen Ripe Sweet Straw-berries, chopped (Although I used frozen, fresh is better)
  • 1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup + 1 tbsp Granulated Sugar ( can be slightly reduced depending on the sweetness of berries)
  • 1 Tbsp Unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.
  • Food Processor
  • 10 or 11" Tart Pan
  • Cut the "cold" butter into small chunks and add to a small bowl. Put it back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the flour, salt, sugar and the cold butter chunks to the food processor.Process for about 10 seconds or so until it resembles a coarse meal.
  • Add the ice cold water little by little and pulse for 20-30 seconds just until the dough holds together. Over working will yield a tough crust.
  • Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and press it into flat circle with fist.Cling wrap the dough and chill for at-least an hour.
  • Make the filling: In a large mixing bowl, add the berries and sprinkle with flour,sugar and the cut butter. Gently toss to incorporate.The filling is ready.
  • Roll one pastry dough into a circle large enough to fit 10" Tart pan. Line the pan with the dough and prick it in many places with a fork. Refrigerate till it is ready to be filled with the filling.
  • Roll the other half of the dough to a thickness of less than 1/8 of an inch and cut it into thin strips using a pastry wheel.
  • Separate the strips and lay it on a cool surface, like a marble/granite top.
  • Weave the strips together as closely as possible on a parchment paper.
  • When weaving make sure the perpendicular strips are properly "interlaced".To easily interlace the crust, place a horizontal strip and lift the alternate vertical strips so that the horizontal strip goes under and over "alternatively". For a 10-11" pie, the lattice crust should measure atleast 12 X 12 inches, without holes or space.
  • Once the lattice top is ready, place another parchment paper on top and let it chill until its ready to use.Chilling firms up the lattice top and facilitates easy transfer to the top of the tart.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pour the filling into the chilled crust.
  • Remove the lattice top from the fridge. Keeping it between the sheets of parchment, fold it in half. Holding it in your hand, remove the outside sheet of parchment.Place it over half the tart and carefully unfold the lattice to cover the filling. Gently remove the top sheet of the parchment. Cut off the excess pastry crust and tuck the edges.
  • Bake the tart for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F and bake until the crust is evenly browned and the filling set for about 25 minutes or longer.
  • Cool it for 10-15 minutes prior to cutting and serving.
Serves 8-10 people.
  • The water and butter has to be "super"cold to yield a crust that just crumbles into the mouth. 
  • Overworking the dough will yield a tough crust..
  • An egg-wash is an optional but highly desired step for a perfect brown crust.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Aromatic Rice With Dill and Lima Beans

Day4 of BM7: There are times when all you crave is a simple and easy-to-put together dish and this is a perfect example of one of those. This rice can be made in all of 30 minutes if you don't count the soaking time, that is! The pepper and dill leaves add a subtle but exceptional flavor to the rice that it will be perfect for an extravagant side-dish.This recipe is from the book "Cardamom and Lime"Recipes from the Arabian Gulf". FYI, I liked many recipes from this book.They all look yummylicious!
  • 1-1/2 Cups Basmati Rice, soaked 30 minutes prior to cooking
  • 1/2 Cup Baby Lima Beans
  • 3 Tbsp Dill Leaves
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 Cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Cracked Pepper and Salt for taste
  • Warm water for cooking 
  • Wash and soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes.Drain the rice completely of water.
  • In a pan, heat the Olive Oil and saute the garlic, onions till the onions are slightly brown.Add a good grind of pepper, salt and Lima beans. Stir until the beans are coated with the seasonings.
  • Add the rice to the pan and gently stir to coat them with the seasonings.Pour the warm water and add the Dill Leaves.Lid the pan.Cook the rice on medium flame until rice is well cooked.
  • Fluff the rice with fork and transfer to plate.Serve warm with any side-dish of choice.
Makes 3-4 Servings.
Note: I ate this with Tangy Stuffed Eggplants. Should be equally good with Maharashtrian "Sugar N Spice" Eggplants with Potatoes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Basic Sunday Morning Hash

Day3 of BM7: Believe it or not, this "Meaty" recipe was/is an inspired adaptation from a "Vegan" recipe from the book "Appetite for Reduction:125 Fast and Filling Low Fat Vegan Recipes". What does that tell you? Inspiration can strike anywhere, anytime and from any recipe! True, no?? The original hash recipe had a unique blend of Yukon Gold potatoes and Brussels Sprouts. That had me thinking that I should step-up my usual Sunday Hash recipe with addition of Spanish Olives.I also threw in some leftover roast chicken that I had bought the previous day from "Boston Market" fast-food place.BTW, I love their roast chicken and chicken pot pie.Yummy!

I have to say that I loved the addition of those Pimiento stuffed Spanish olives but the "Citrus tang" it adds to the hash may not be for everyone. After nearly 2 weeks of anti-biotics and other drugs my taste-buds have become jaded and I need some kind of citrus kick in my dishes to revive them. My son certainly didn't want to do anything with the exotic hash.LoL.Its simply too much for his "still refining" taste-buds.He is going to be four soon but he continues to make funny faces when he tries new things.What's up with that? Anyways, I had to make his portion with just eggs and potatoes(see the second plate in the last picture).What I am trying to say is that a hash can be as versatile as you would like it to be.Plenty of mix and match options. 
Some books I have been referring for BM7- "Cooking from books" theme~
Leftover Boston Market Chicken:
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Cubed Roast Chicken (Optional)
  • 1/4 Cup Pimiento Stuffed Spanish Olives (Optional)
  • 4 Small Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cubed with Skin-on
  • 1 Tbsp Whole Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • A few grinds of Cracked Pepper
  • Salt as needed
  • Dice and set aside about 1/2 Cup of roast chicken if using.
  • Add 2 Tbsp of Oil to a non-stick pan.Fry the potatoes with addition of little cracked pepper and salt for 7-10 minutes until its soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
  • Transfer the cooked potatoes to a plate.
  • In the same pan, add a tbsp of butter and remaining Olive Oil. Whisk 3 eggs with a tbsp of milk. Pour it into the pan and continuously keep stirring on a medium flame.This is what makes the scrambled eggs soft and fluffy.
  • Once the eggs start clumping together reduce the flame.
  • Add the cooked potatoes, chicken and Olives. Check for taste and add more salt or pepper, if needed.
  • Quickly transfer to serving plates and consume warm with some orange juice to wash it down.
Makes 2 Serving.