Monday, 27 July 2015

Pea, mint and feta dip & a Bloody Martini

I have been busy, very busy, but good busy. Those of you on my Facebook page would already know that Chaiparty has pretty much taken over our lives. Read all about it here. Its a lot of work, but absolutely rewarding at the same time. We are also doing themed lunches in the next coming months and cant wait to get started on the next big chaiparty in September. We also just got back from a holiday in Spain, which was eventful to say the least and I have also been busy attending a lot of fun food events around London, not to mention thoroughly enjoying summer, or what's left of it.
PicMonkey Collmmage
A couple of weeks back I was invited to the Putting on the Ritz event where we were treated to some gorgeous cocktails and dips, all paired with the new Ritz thins. Ritz teamed up with supper club expert Alice Levine and the very popular mixologist Richard Woods (of Duck & Waffle) to come up with a series of tips, recipes and ideas to Ritz-Up socialising this summer. It was held at a stunning penthouse apartment in East London with amazing views over the city. 
PicMkonkey Collage
The 4 new flavours of oven-baked potato crisps from Ritz- Cream Cheese & Onion, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Sweet Red Chilli and Sea Salt & Black Pepper- are delicious. They were paired with equally delicious dips, with the pea, mint and feta and the smoked paprika topping my list. Of course, the glamour side was intact with 4 very unique cocktails that were paired with the crisps. The weather was great, the company was good and we all had a nice time 'Putting on the Ritz.'

I had to make the pea, mint and feta dip at home, especially after bragging about it to the husband. It turned out great and was wiped clean in a matter of hours while watching a movie. Of the cocktails that were served on the day, the Mates Martini, a (very) complicated version of the Bloody Mary was my favourite. Trust the cocktail expert Richard Woods to make things easy ;). Since i like complicated i decided to make it at home. It took me 2 days and a lot of patience to make the drink, but it was totally worth it. Yes, I do go out of my way for that perfect cocktail. I am however trying to figure out an easy way to do this mix, because you know, the urge to have a bloody Mary doesn't quite last for 2 days.

Pea, mint and feta dip (Recipe adapted from Alice Levine who prepared this dip at Ritz event)
Frozen peas- 250 gms, thawed
Feta- 50 gms, crumbled
Fresh mint- 3 tbsp, roughly chopped
Garlic- 1 clove, chopped
Green chilli- 1/2 of a small one, chopped (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil- 2tbsp
Lemon juice- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Pepper- to taste
Blend together all the ingredients in a food processor and season to taste.
Add a splash of water if you would prefer it a bit loose.
Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle some olive oil on top, garnish with some mint leaves and serve as a dip with the Ritz Sea Salt and Vinegar.

Bloody Martini (Makes a little more than 2 drinks. Recipe adapted from Richard Woods who prepared the drink at the Ritz event)
Vodka- 100ml
Basil- 15gms
Bloody Marry Consommé- 100ml (recipe below)
Ice cubes- 4

Bloody Marry Consommé
Ground black pepper- 2 gms
Sea salt- 1.5 gms
celery salt- 1 gm
Tabasco original- 5 dashes
Tabasco green- 8 dashes
Lemon juice- 1/2 tbsp
Worcestershire sauce- 8 dashes
Tomato juice- 300ml

Infuse the vodka with the basil leaves for about 24hrs. Make sure you don't infuse it longer or else it would turn bitter.
Strain and use as required.

The consommé also needs to be made a day before.
Into a freezer safe container with lid, pour in the tomato juice and all the other ingredients and stir well.
Leave to infuse for about an hour and then put on the lid and place in the freezer.
The following morning, remove the frozen tomato mix from freezer and do a drip thaw, which essentially means you create a filter through which the block thaws naturally.
I used a muslin cloth and my sieve to do this.
This takes an entire day so patience is much advised.
You can make this in bulk, and it will keep for 7 days in the fridge.
To make the Martini, chill the martini glasses prior to serving.
Stir together the vodka and consommé along with the ice cubes until well chilled.
Strain into chilled glass, garnish with a floating basil leaf and serve.

With thanks to Ritz UK for inviting me to the event and for all the delicious crisps.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Curried prawn puffs

When mallu's talk about puffs, there's always a nostalgic story attached to it- would have had it for tea after school, would be from a favourite bakery in the neighbourhood, was lovingly made by mom etc. I, have none of those memories!

I was not really fond of those bakery snacks except for a few and given a choice I used to prefer cupcakes, cookies and the like, which i think my mum also preferred making, not to mention she was great at it. So our tea time snacks were really innovative cakes, sandwiches, bakes, milkshakes etc etc. On those rare occasions my mum used to get vada or ethakka appam, I used to create such a fuss. Fast forward to about 20 years later and here I am in a foreign country craving the dry egg puffs we used to get at this bakery called Jayaram bakery in Trivandrum.

Karma is a bitch.
So anyways, I couldn't just hop over to a bakery here and ask for egg puffs which meant i had to make it and make i did, plenty of times. I've since experimented with chicken, beef and prawn puffs and of the 4 the prawn being my favourite is making its way through to the blog after ages. It tastes good, is perfect with tea and freezes well. Sold!

Recipe has been adapted from Shabs, whose prawn filling is one I've tried lots of times and its so versatile and can be used as a filling for anything and everything and also tastes great with rice and rotis. I prefer making them with the tiny prawns as i feel they taste glorious.

Makes 8
Prawn (the small variety)- 200 gms
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste

Coconut oil- 2 tbsp
Onions- 2, finely chopped
Garlic- 5 cloves
Ginger- 1 tbsp, roughly chopped
Green chilli- 2
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Fennel powder- 1/2 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves- 1/4 cup
Grated coconut- 1/4 cup
Salt- to taste

Ready rolled puff pastry- 1 sheet
Egg- 1 small, for egg wash
Marinate the prawn with the chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt and keep aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients

Heat oil in a pan and sauté the onions till they become soft and translucent.
Grind together the garlic, ginger and green chilli and add to the onion. Saute for a further 5 minutes on medium heat, or till the raw smell disappears.
Add the salt, turmeric, fennel and pepper powders and saute for a couple more minutes before adding the marinated prawns along with the garam masala, coriander leaves and grated coconut, and mix it all together.
Remember, prawn cooks really fast, so make sure you don't keep it on for too long.
Once the prawns are cooked and the flavours have all been infused, take it off the heat and leave aside to cool.

Pre heat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with baking paper
Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle sheet.
Cut into half and divide the pastry into 8.
Take a tbsp of the prawn filling and place into the centre of each cut pastry sheet.
Wet the edges with water lightly and seal the pastry properly.
Place on the baking tray and do an egg wash and bake for about 15 minutes or till the pastry has become golden brown.
Remove from oven and leave aside to cool for a couple of minutes before digging in.
Notes: I have made the same using 1/4 cup thick coconut milk instead of the grated coconut and must say the coconut milk won with regard to taste. The grated coconut however lends a bite.
My oven gets really hot so it was done in about 13 minutes and as you can see i ended up browning them a bit too much.
Use shredded chicken for a chicken version.
They freeze really well, do it before the egg wash (clearly!). and then dont even thaw, just do the egg wash and bake. Of course it will need to be in the oven longer.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Mutton rogan josh

I have one mutton recipe on the blog. One!!!
That clearly depicts my aversion to lamb, mutton and goat. And i still don't know the difference between the three.

There is a huge Asda near work and on one of those days I was so tired to go back home and cook (it happens a lot btw!), i walked in there to see if i can pick up some marinated meat to grill or something, and i chanced upon their butcher section that housed a whole lot of marinated meat and fish and also a pack of mutton mix, among other interesting stuff. I was in two minds about the mutton, but I was so bored with the usual chicken, beef and pork, that I thought I should do this for the husband, if not for anything else.
So I went home armed with a pack of mutton and a head full of ideas on what to do with it. Of course it never made to the table that day but it did the next day as a spicy mutton pepper fry. It was delicious and it surprised me- that i actually enjoyed it. So that was the beginning of my affair with mutton and i learnt that i can handle mutton but not lamb. I've made plenty of dishes with the mutton mix hence and its a pity i don't get it anywhere other than in big Asda's.

This rogan josh (translation- red/hot oil and as you can see from the pictures, there is an oil layer on top) turned out so darn good, i had to take some pictures, even if hastily, because i do plan on making it again. I thought it was a dish hard to make, after seeing the list of ingredients, but its not and it needs very little preparation. No onions, no tomatoes, so sauteeing till golden brown etc, just charring the meat and then slow cooking it together till done. Of course, the slow cooking takes time, and that makes a difference, but we have the pressure cooker for those days you don't have the luxury of slow cooking.

This recipe, after reading the comments, came across as quite authentic and I'm so glad i tried it, its fab. Do give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Recipe adapted from here (Serves 3)
Mutton- 500 gms, cut onto medium size pieces

Ground cinnamon- 1/4 tsp
Ground cardamom- 1/2 tsp
Ground cloves- 1/4 tsp
Ground peppercorns- 1/4 tsp
Ground fennel seeds- 1/4 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1/4 tsp

Oil- 1/4 cup
Cinnamon- 1/2 inch stick
Cardamom- 5 pods
Cloves- 4
Peppercorns- 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds- 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida- 1/2 tsp
Dried ginger powder- 3/4th tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 3/4th tbsp
Yoghurt- 1 cup
Salt- to taste
Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and rub on to the meat. Keep aside for half an hour or so.

Heat oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pan and throw in the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and fennel seeds.
To that add the marinated meat and cook on medium heat, stirring continuously, till brown.
Stir in the asafoetida, dried ginger powder, Kashmiri chilli powder and salt and mix it all in with the meat.
Reduce the heat to low and add the yoghurt, mixing it well to coat the meat.
Cover the pan and cook till the meat is tender and the oil separates on the surface. 
I cooked it for 1 hour and it was perfect. You will need to keep stirring and adding some water on and off, to prevent the sauce from sticking to the base of the pan. 
Serve hot with rice or rotis.
Notes: Of course, if you are not a fan of slow cooking then add everything as mentioned, in a pressure cooker, and cook the meat for about 4 whistles on medium heat. I bet it wouldn't taste as gorgeous as the slow cooked one though :)
You can use goat meat as well, but I'm not sure how lamb would turn out for this recipe. Worth giving it a shot.
Replace the mutton with beef for a beef rogan josh.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Sponsored video: Unrush Your World with Yeni Raki

It was last week that a bunch of us were discussing about doing something fun on a friends birthday and Dabbous in Fitzrovia came up. This friend mentioned she was doing her birthday dinner at Dabbous, a restaurant she had been itching to check out and finally got a table sorted after months of waiting. That was indeed a good birthday gift, we chimed.

Truth be told, that's the first time i heard about Dabbous. It made me read up on Ollie Dabbous, and the Michelin star restaurant that serves some mean Modern European grub. After all this info, we couldnt not check it out, and so we decided to do a few cocktails at the bar before the dinner reservation. The bar was gorgeous, the cocktails innovative and an experience that was cherished.
And as if on cue, I get the opportunity to write about Ollie Dabbous and Yeni Raki here :)

Yeni Raki is an aniseed flavoured spirit native to Turkey, and the campaign 'Unrush Your World' is all about the spirit of slow, highlighting the importance of taking the time to enjoy food. In partnership with Ollie Dabbous, the drink aims to encourage consumers to enjoy the drink with good food and get to know the spirits traditional slow dining culture outside of Turkey. 

Take a look at this very artistic video where the chef explains his approach to food, while he prepares a fabulous dish for the Raki table- clearly depicting the fact that food isn't meant to be rushed and eating isn't meant to be hurried. I warn you though, watching the video when you are hungry is not a good idea!

But you have your chance to enjoy this experience as well. Yeni Raki is hosting a series of slow-dining sessions where top restaurants across the UK capital create bespoke menus of food paired with this anise flavoured drink, to encourage Londoners to unrush their world. So keep a look out, and in the mean time, be satisfied with this delicious video.

For upcoming events and updates follow Yeni Raki on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

This is a sponsored post for Yeni Raki.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Harissa spiced eggs on cheesy English muffins

My boss Dora is one of the best cooks I've come across. Till we moved to our professional kitchen a year back, I had the privilege of enjoying some of her cooking during lunch breaks and it was my first foray into the world of French food. Not only are her creations delicious, the fact that she used to whip them up in no time was something that amazed me. Be it a simple puff pastry pizza, or her signature vegetable lasagna- the taste was consistent all throughout, not to mention the copious amounts of mint tea we used to drink during brainstorming sessions.

I mentally wrote down her quick recipes and of course threw so many doubts her way as well. She is the one who made me experiment with aubergines for the first time, and enjoy fish in various forms (Ro secretly thanks her for my tolerance to mackerel now). Dora's Tunisian routes (which is her strong point, even when it comes to macaron flavours) made the dishes even more interesting. She introduced me to harissa, ras-el-hanout, brik pastry and so many other ingredients and dishes that were then new to me.
This recipe or rather creation is truly Dora's. When we were short of time she would whip this up in a matter of minutes and i would devour it without batting an eyelid. I have watched her do it so many times, but even now it just doesn't taste as unique as hers. I remember making it at home the first time and it was an instant hit with Ro. I have then made it at several brunch sessions and everyone s absolutely enjoyed it.

Over time i changed the procedure and ingredients a bit, but it still is hands down one of the best recipes I've learnt from Dora. I have also used the authentic home made harissa paste she gave me, which is as authentic as it can get.. Once you taste the real thing, you will not want to try any of the store bought versions.
On a different note, i think i have cracked my lighting issue. It's still a bit harsh, but i have narrowed down my light source and that is half of the issue sorted there. Now i just have to play around with diffusing and stuff to get it right. Talking about photography, this recipe goes straight to the #happyeggtastemakers challenge this month, which is to cook something using the happy eggs co and photograph it using food stylist and instagrammer Marte Marie Forsberg's top 5 tips for creating the best looking food. I hope i have done justice to the image, seriously, it tasted fab.

This harissa spiced baked eggs are so easy to make, you have to try it out. You can do so many different versions of it, and it would just not go wrong. Thank you Dora, for all those cooking lessons which you unknowingly instilled in me. I really do miss it :)

Serves 2
English muffins- 2, sliced in half to get 4
Cheddar cheese slices- 4

Spring onion greens- 2 tsp (to garnish)

Olive oil- 1 tbsp
Shallot- 1 large, finely chopped
Bell pepper- 1, finely chopped
Garlic- 1/2 tbsp, finely chopped
Harissa paste- 2 generous tsp
Tomato- 2 small, finely chopped
Double cream- 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper- to taste
Eggs- 4
Preheat oven to 175C and line a baking tray with foil paper.
Place the muffins, cut side up and top with the cheddar cheese slices
Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet and saute the shallot, bell pepper and garlic till soft, around 3 minutes on medium high heat.
Make a paste with the harissa and some water and add to the pan.
Stir till it loosens and coats the vegetables.
Add the tomato slices and cook till they turn mushy, after which you pour in the double cream and mix it all together
Season with salt.
Separate the mix in a few places and break the eggs into them.
Break the yolk and stir it gently into the mix. This is purely optional, you can of course leave the yolk intact
Bake for 10 minutes, or till the eggs are cooked. 
Around 5 minutes into the baking time, put in the tray with the muffins.
Once done- the eggs cooked and the cheese on the muffins melted, take them out of the oven, wait for a few minutes for the bubbling to settle.
Slice the baked eggs into four and place on the cheesy muffins.
Garnish with spring onions and serve warm.

Notes: You can use bread slices, ciabatta, crumpets (these are the best) and any break of choice as the base
Add prawns, shredded chicken, minced meat etc to the mix before topping with the egg

With thanks to the happy egg co for the voucher

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Palak paneer (spinach and paneer)

IMG_5900 (1)
Its been a bit quiet around here hasnt it? Well, I finally decided to unpack my props after about a month of moving into the new place and when that got sorted, I had trouble with the whole lighting situation. I had to find ways and means of utilising what little light came from the one window in my living room. From a house with floor to ceiling windows, this came as a complete downer. I cribbed about it to Ro and he said a good photographer would figure out how to manipulate light whatsoever. Challenge accepted was my reply!

The fact that we have terrible weather now hasnt helped either. I mean seriously.. enough with the whole rain, wind and single digit temperatures. We had 1 week of brill weather where everyone rejoiced and thought summer arrived early, only to be fooled by this ridiculous cold spell soon after. So its back to boots and shawls for a lil more longer i suppose.

Anyways, after a few hasty trials with the camer, I finally called it quits. This was the outcome of the final few trials and although I'm not happy with it at all, i thought i should feed the blog with this rather satisfactory preparation of palak paneer. Its been ages since ive cooked with panner and its the first time ive tried palak paneer at home. I cant remember the last time i tasted palak paneer and so even though it didnt taste exceptionally good, i cherished it to no end. It was delicious with hot chapatis.

Recipe adapted from here (serves 2 to 3)
Paneer- 225 gms, cut into cubes

Baby spinach- 200 gms
Garlic- 3 small pods, roughly chopped
Ginger- 1/2 inch, peeled and roughly chopped
Green chillies- 2 small, chopped

Ghee oil- 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Bay leaf- 1 small
Onion- 1/3rd cup
Garlic- 4 small pods, peeled and finely chopped
Tomato- 1 small, finely chopped
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Chilli powder- 1 tsp
Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida- a pinch
Water- 1/2 cup
Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
Kasoori methi- 1 tsp
Double cream- 2 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Soak the paneer cubes in some warm water if its hard..especially if its store bought. This would soften it pretty much. Drain before using.
Cook the spinach in a microwave, for about 3 minutes, covered. Blanching is ideal, but i was too lazy to do that.
Purée the wilted spinach with garlic, ginger and green chillies and keep aside.

In a kadai, heat the ghee and add the cumin seeds and bay leaf.
Once they splutter, add the onions and cook on medium heat till golden brown.
Throw in the garlic and saute for a minute or two. Dont brown it.
Add the tomato and cook till the oil slightly separates at which point you put in the spices- turmeric, chilli, coriander and asafoetida- and cook till the raw smell disappears.
Pour in the spinach purée, mix it all together and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes along with 1/2 cup water.
One the sauce starts simmering, add the paneer cubes and salt and continue to cook for a few more minutes. The paneer should be coated well with the palak masala.
Sprinkle the garam masala and kasoori methi and mix it all in
Finally stir in the double cream, close with a lid.
You can pour a tsp of cream on top of the palak paneer when ready to serve.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Vanilla and matcha green tea latte

Well I guess i jinxed my wow of silence too soon. I decided to be proactive and plan and schedule a post for when I'm MIA. I thought I was going to be super busy with packing and such but I kind of am done with 90 percent of it. Ro has been fab and did a lot of it and now I'm just left with my humongous prop shelf which I have to start on. One good thing that has come out of this move is the fact that I've done one big massive spring cleaning. Gave a lot of clothes, bags and shoes to charity, cleaned out the fridge--waaay too many chutnies and sauces that i don't like/ use- threw out all those expired packs of gulab kamun and jelebi mixes and it feels great. 

So i decided to put my time to good use and taste test the teapigs kit that was sent to me a couple of days back. Teapigs is a brand I'm quite familiar with. They have a fab variety of tea's which catch my attention every time i go to a nice cafe. I am quite a big fan of their fruit teas and if i do find any at a cafe then that's what i go for. Teapigs have been around for the past 8 years and they indeed produce a range of very best quality teas. Their everyday brew which i taste tested is rather string and is a good option if you want to add some milk in, but still maintain the strength. Teapigs also gives you more bang for your buck by incorporating more tea into their tea temples than most other teas (precisely 14% more than PG tips) so you get more out of you cuppa. Now who'd not want that??

Coming to matcha..I'm a matcha virgin and so was kind of looking forward to what the matcha hype was all about. I had a vague idea how it would taste and must say I wasn't wrong. I'm still making up my mind about whether I like it or not. It took me about a year to like green tea, so I'm pretty sure I'll be a convert soon. This latte on the other hand was bearable, in the sense, its got vanilla in it and that makes anything taste fab. I am more excited about the Aerolatte frother that came with the kit and i love love love it, Yup, all that froth you see is with that beautiful thing. Matcha is something I'd like to experiment with a bit more, especially in baking and see the results. I shouldn't judge it already.

Makes 2 small cups (recipe from here)
Matcha green tea powder- 1 tsp (I used teapigs matcha powder)
Hot water- 1/3 cup
Granulated sugar- 2 tsp (adjust to taste)
Vanilla extract- 1/4 tsp
Milk- 1/2 cup

Into two cups add 1/2 a tsp each green tea powder.
Top with 1 tbsp each hot water and mix well to dissolve the tea powder. Make sure there are no lumps, and mix it in well. You can use a frother to make this job easier.
Pour in the remaining hot water and stir to combine.
Add the sugar and vanilla extract, mix well till the sugar dissolves.
Warm up the milk to a simmering point or warm it up in the microwave for about 30 seconds, making sure you don't bring it to boiling point.
Using the frother, froth the milk. Don't over do it to the point where the milk gets too thick, or else you'll have trouble mixing it with the tea.
Slowly pour the froth over the tea and dust with some matcha powder.
Mix well before you drink.
Notes: Next time id reduce the green tea powder to 1/2 and use that between two cups. The tea is very strong and a lesser dosage would have tasted much nicer.
You can replace the vanilla with almond extract to give it a twist.
If you don't have a frother, use a French press, like i have explained in this post

With thanks to the PR agency for the teapigs kit.