Do check out my new blog "Claire's Party Supplies". From now on all party supplies and current offers and discounts will be featured here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My 100th Blog Post & The Best Chicken Biryani Ever !!!

I can't believe it but here it is, my 100th blog post. I'm so excited. I know for most folks its just a number, but it means a lot to me. There have been a few times where things were so chaotic, I thought I would not be able to continue blogging. But this blog has been such a wonderful journey so far, I couldn't stay away for long. I've met so many wonderful and talented people in the last few months, I've made quite a few things on my "to try" list (which by the way is growing at a crazy rate with each passing day :-o)  ) and received so much love through the comments left here, its touching and has very often made my day. I wouldn't give this up easily. I'd like to take a moment to say Thank You to each and every one of you who is following my blog, everyone who takes the time to comment on my posts and every single one who visits the blog. I love hearing from everyone, so I'd love if you could keep the love coming!!!

To mark this occasion, I'm going to share with you a treat I whipped up for my husband over the weekend. He loves Moghlai food, specially Biryani and kebabs. Me, I'll eat it but am not to crazy about it. I have made a mutton biryani in the past, but it was nothing you'd write home about. Anyway, I wanted to make something special for my special man, so over the weekend I decided to try out a different recipe and this time make a Chicken Biryani. When I googled it, I came across a doozy of a recipe over at "Flavors of Mumbai" and decided to try it out. Be warned, this takes some amount of time, so please don't make it in a hurry. The flavors are much much better if you use slow cooking. After a couple of hours, what I had was the most amazing Chicken Biryani I have ever eaten. I actually enjoyed it and I know I will make this again. This recipe is definitely a keeper. It not only tasted great, it looked fabulous, just how it looks if you order it in a restaurant, with a few colored grains of rice, garnished with some caramelized onions and all.


Chicken Biryani
(Serves 6)
Adapted from: Flavors of Mumbai

500g Basmati rice
500g chicken pieces
500g onions, sliced
250g tomatoes, chopped
200g potatoes, peeled and cubed
250g plain, unflavored yogurt
4 bay leaves
8 cloves
5 pods green cardamom
4" cinnamon sticks
1 piece of Mace
14 black peppercorns
1 tbsp Shahi jeera
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp Shahi Biryani Masala
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tbsp coriander powder
Leaves from 4-6 sprigs of fresh mint
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
3 green chillies
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
4 tbsp ghee or oil
A few strands of saffron added to a little warm milk and kept aside
Orange food color (optional)
Salt to taste

For the marinade - 
4 tbsp plain, unflavored yogurt
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
Salt, to taste

For garnishing - 
1 onion, sliced
A few fresh coriander leaves, chopped


Marinade the prepped chicken pieces with the marinade mix and keep aside for about an hour, during which other elements of this dish can be put together.

For the rice - 

In a large vessel, bring some water to a boil with 1 bay leaf, 2" cinnamon, 3 green cardamom pods, 1 mace, 4 cloves, 5-6 black pepper corns. (Please taken sufficient water to boil the rice - to give you an idea its about the same ratio in which you boil water to cook pasta).

When the water comes to a boil, add the rice, let it come to a boil, add salt to taste and cook till it is half done. Remember you only need to par boil the rice, because there is a fair amount of cooking it will still need to go through.

Drain the water completely and keep the rice aside.

For the Garnishing - 

Chop a few coriander leaves and keep aside.

Heat some ghee (clarified butter) / oil in a pan and fry the sliced onion on a low flame till the onions have browned and become crispy. (A low flame will caramelize the onion while using a higher flame will simply burn it and make it bitter). Keep this aside.

For the Chicken Masala - 

Grind the mint leaves, fresh coriander and green chillies in a blender, using a little water to aid the process. Keep this mix aside.

Heat the ghee in a large vessel. 

Add 3 bay leaves, shahi jeera, the rest of cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon and green cardamom pods. After a couple of minutes, add the sliced onion and fry it off on a low flame till the onions have reached a softened, brown stage which means they are caramelized.

Add the ginger garlic paste and stir well. Cook it for a few minutes. 

Add the green mix, made above and stir well. Let this cook for another minute or so. 

Now add the coriander powder, biryani masala, turmeric powder and red chilly powder. Stir well.  Let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and stir well. Sauté the mix for 2 minutes. 

Add the yogurt and stir well, till everything is well combined. Cook for a couple of minutes. 

Add the cubed potatoes. Stir well and let this cook off for a minute or two. 

Add the chicken pieces with all the marinade mix. Stir gently and let this cook for about 5-7 minutes. (You don't need to cook the chicken completely at this stage, because like the rice there is still a fair amount of cooking to be done. Overcooking it will result in a dry chicken.) 

Check for seasoning and if needed add some salt, to taste. Stir well and let it cook for about a minute. Take it off the gas.


To assemble and for the final cook off - 

To arrange the layers for the biryani, take another large vessel. 

Place half the chicken gravy at the bottom of the vessel, forming the fist layer. 

Gently spread half the par boiled rice over it. Place a few dots of ghee and sprinkle half of the saffron infused milk. If you are using food color, add a few random drops here and there. You just want a few specks of colors rice.

Layer the rest of the chicken gravy over this.

Top with the rest of the rice, dotting with a little ghee, the rest of the saffron infused milk and food coloring.

Place a large heavy bottomed pan / tava / griddle on a low flame. Place the vessel with the layered biryani on it. Cover with a lid.

To cook it dum style, you could seal the edges with some dough, or place the pestle of the grinding stone or any other heavy, fire proof object on the lid. 

Let this cook on a low flame for about 30-40 minutes. 

Serve hot with some raita

Garnish with the caramelized onion and some chopped coriander leaves. 


This recipe is linked to - 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mango Lassi (Mango Yogurt Smoothie)

I honestly think that the mango is my favorite fruit. There was a time where our ancestral property in Goa yielded huge amounts of fruits like mango, jackfruit, bananas, papayas, chickoos and cashew to name a few. So back in the day we had access to a seemingly endless supply of some of the most delicious mangoes I've ever had. I haven't been there ever since my grand-aunt and grandmother passed away. I miss them and the good old days terribly.

Just the other day, when my mum came over for lunch, she brought us some mangoes. They were not my favorite variety but I knew that this particular variety was excellent for milk shakes and such. I didn't have too much milk lying around, but I did have a couple of tubs of plain, natural yogurt. So I figured, why not make some mango lassi?

This is a wonderful way to use up fruit. You may  remember the strawberry lassi from some time ago. The mango lassi as well is cool and refreshing, perfect for the crazy summer months, not to mention it also has the deliciousness of mango. Its easy to whip up and in a few sheer minutes you'll have a lovely cool treat in hand.


Mango Lassi
(Serves 2)

1 tub natural unflavored yogurt (We get it in 400g tubs)
Flesh of 1-2 mangoes
2 spoons superfine sugar (optional)

A few ice cubes (You wont need this if you can chill the mango before blending)

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz till is well incorporated.

Serve.





This recipe is linked to - 
Just Another Meatless Monday
Monday, Mmm ... Dessert

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sheera with a twist ... of Saffron, that is

In India, Sheera, a sweet dish made from semolina is a much loved snack. It is usually served in Udupi hotels for breakfast. In my house, however, we usually had this as an evening tea time snack. My grandmother used to whip up a little plate each, for my brother and me. She would add a some crushed cardamom seeds, a few raisins and slivered almonds right at the end, to add to the deliciousness and the healthiness of the dish. She would lovingly, flatten it out to look like a thin round cake, engrave scallops around the edges using a spoon and carve out our initials in the center, so that we'd know which one to pick. She would also add a couple of drops of food color to tint it. I still remember the excitement at seeing two delightful plates on the table, waiting for us as we came back in the evening.

My version is a little less fancy looking, but tastes the same. I know my Nana would be proud. I use roasted semolina to make this and roasting it brings out a wonderful nuttiness that the unroasted version lacks. I added a few strands of saffron as well. In mere minutes, you will be sitting down to a lovely warm, hearty treat. It is equally yummy if had once its cooled down to room temperature.



Sheera
(Serves 2)

1/2 cup semolina, dry roasted till it emits a light nutty aroma
1/2 cup milk
1/2 - 3/4 cup water
2-3 tbsp sugar, or to taste
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
A few strands of saffron, added to the milk
Seeds of 2 pods of cardamom, crushed
Slivered almonds and a few raisins (optional)

Heat the ghee in a vessel.

Add the roasted semolina and let it fry off till the ghee is incorporated with the semolina and the semolina has fried off. Make sure you don't burn the semolina in the process.

Add the sugar and the crushed cardamom seeds.

Add the water and milk and stir continuously while the semolina absorbs the liquids.

When the liquids have almost dried out, add the slivered almonds and raisins and stir well.

Once all the liquids have been absorbed, the sheera is done.

You can garnish it with some more almond slivers, if desired.


This recipe is linked to -
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday
Savory Sunday
Meatless Mondays
Mangia Mondays
My Meatless Mondays

Friday, May 27, 2011

Some more bridal flowers

Here's what I've been upto during the last couple of weeks. I had to whip up a few bridal flowers. There are two varieties of flowers, one is the starched satin variety and the other is made of a nylon stocking material. Take a peek at some of them here -















I made a ton of these little buggers and as a result have some really sore fingers, but nevertheless some really happy brides. I love when they appreciate the creations, it makes all the effort worth it.

On another note, I have a few very interesting, yummy posts lined up for the next few days. Stay tuned.


This post has been linked to -
Thrilling Thursdays

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Eggplant Patties

It seems like ages since I lasted posted, and it has been. We had a bout of the cold and the flu doing the rounds at our place last week. We are just about back to normal and I simply had to publish one post before I got on with the millions of other stuff that needs my attention right now.

Before I went on my vacation, I stumbled onto a very interesting way to cook eggplant over at Manuela's blog. I was a little intrigued by it and wasn't sure what the outcome would be. The picture I saw was very convincing, enough to make me give this a try. I'm so glad I did. This recipe is simple to put together. It gets a little messy while shaping the batter into patties, but the end result is so worth the effort and the mess. The patties had a lovely crunch to it and they tasted wonderful. They are not overly spiced, which means you get to relish the delicate flavors of the eggplant and the mild spices and they are surprisingly hearty. Serve these with some salad and bread and you've got yourself a lovely meal.


Eggplant Patties
(Makes 12)
Adapted from: Manu's Menu

350g eggplant (Use the larger variety)
1/2 egg
1 cup bread crumbs, approximately
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2" ginger, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
Crushed black pepper corns, to taste
1 tbsp. fresh coriander leaves, chopped

A couple of spoons flour, use as needed
Vegetable oil, for frying

Cut the stalk of the eggplant, wash and cut into 4-6 large chunks and cook in salted boiling water until just about soft.

Mash it and add the breadcrumbs, egg, ginger, garlic, salt, cumin powder, chilly powder, crushed black pepper and chopped coriander leaves and mix well. You will need to adjust the quantity of bread crumbs used, based on how wet the batter is. The batter needs to be stiff enough to shape into round patties.

Dampen you hands with a little water so that the batter doesn't stick to it. Shape into round patties. 

Dip the patties in flour to coat them.

Heat some oil in a pan and shallow fry the patties till they are a lovely golden brown.

Serve hot.


Secret Recipe Club

Monday, May 16, 2011

Aubergine in a Savory Yogurt Sauce

Everyone likes to have more than a few recipes in their arsenal that they can rely on when they need something to whip up really quick on a weeknight or whenever they are short on time, but still want a good wholesome home cooked meal. This is something I'm working on. I'm trying to increase my options here. This dish is one such quick meal option. It needs very few ingredients, but is so flavorful, you'll want to make it even if you happen to have some time on your hands. The yogurt sauce gives it a fresh taste and the herbs make it even better.



Aubergine in Savory Yogurt Sauce
Recipe from: Indian Food Made Easy

400g small aubergines, sliced
A pinch of turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
Salt, to taste
A couple of tbsps of vegetable oil
250 ml plain, unflavored yogurt
1 - 1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 heaping tsp roasted cumin seed powder
1-2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Sprinkle the aubergine slices with salt, turmeric powder and half the quantity of red chilly powder.

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the aubergine slices until they are soft. You may need to do this in batches.

In a bowl beat about 200 ml of the yogurt with sugar, salt and the rest of the red chilly powder.

Heat this in a small pan, over low heat. Stir frequently to avoid it from splitting. It should take about 5 minutes to warm this up.

Gently stir in the cumin powder and the fried aubergine slices. Stir gently and let it all warm up on a low flame.

Beat the remaining yogurt till it gets to a smooth consistency. Gently stir it in. Check for seasoning and adjust, if needed.

Garnish with the chopped coriander leaves.

Serve warm with hot naan.

Remember to warm the curd over a low flame. The curd splits if it is heated over a high flame.


This recipe is linked to -
My Meatless Mondays
Just Another Meatless Monday
Meatless Monday
Mouthwatering Mondays

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Lightest and Creamiest Japanese Cheesecake

I'm so glad Blogger is back. I was worried, especially when the latest post and comments went missing. But thankfully all is well now. I couldn't wait to share this delightful treat with all of you. For me, this Japanese cheesecake is humbly plain, yet amazingly glorious. If made correctly, it is light as air, while still somehow maintaining the creaminess of the cream cheese. My husband had picked up one of these a few years ago and it was really hard to not finish the whole thing in one sitting, between the two of us. I was thrilled to bits when I made it myself. And you know something, it was just as good. The lemon juice adds a lovely flavor to it. Sadly, I don't have a picture of a wedge of the cake after it was cut up. It's really hard to stop eating this.  :)  :)  :)

I'd read in a few places that this cheesecake is finicky and a lot can go wrong, but after making it, what I can say is that if you follow the instructions carefully, you will be treated to the most amazing cheesecake you've had in a while and that too, made right in your kitchen. I do hope you try this out. It would be such a shame to miss out on making this. And when you do, I;d love to know how it goes.


Please excuse the picture quality, my camera was dead and I knew if I waited to charge it, there'd be nothing left to capture. So I just used my phone instead!

Japanese Cheesecake
Recipe from: Diana's Desserts

140g superfine sugar
6 eggs, separated
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
50g butter
250g cream cheese
100 ml milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
60g all purpose flour
20g cornflour
1/4 tsp salt

Line an 8" round cake pan (bottom and sides) with some lightly greased parchment paper. (I just lined the bottom of the pan and it worked fine too.)

Melt the cream cheese, butter and milk in a double boiler.

Cool this mix down.

Fold in the flour, cornflour, egg yolks, lemon juice and mix well.

Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar till it is foamy. Add the sugar and continue to whisk till soft peaks form.

Add the cream cheese mix to the egg white mix and mix well.

Pour the mix into the prepared cake pan and bake it in a water bath at 160ºC for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until set and golden brown.

Note: I halved the recipe and used a 6" round cake pan.

This recipe is linked to -
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday
A Themed Bakers Sunday
Not Baaad
Mangia Mondays
Homespun Bakeshop

Bombay Street Food Special #3 - Rava Idli

I know, it seems like I've abandoned this series on Bombay street food. I haven't, but sometimes theres just so much going on that its not possible to fit everything into a twenty four hour day. In the past few days since I've returned, the day seems to have somehow shrunk and become even shorter. Anyway, the news is that I'm going to try and squeeze in some time for this serious. 


South Indian fare is very popular street food in Bombay. Today, I've got a little twist on the the traditional fare, but I promise you it is good, so very good. Typically, South Indian snacks like dosas and idlis take a while to make. The batter is made with a base combination of rice and urad dal (black gram). The ingredients have to be soaked, ground and fermented etc. (not necessarily in that order). In time, I'm itching to try out the traditional method. This take, however, is a quicker, simpler version. Its almost an instant recipe. The idlis turn out really delicious and I made a quick coconut chutney that my mum always made to go along with dosas and idlis. My mum has this amazing lady for a neighbor. She is from South India and every so often whenever she has time away from school, where she's a full time teacher, assistant head mistress and I don't know what else, she'd treat us to a huge portion of breakfast snacks like this that she'd make for her family. I miss those days. And honestly, she was the first person I thought about while I was eating these. I should try and coax her to give me her recipe for the traditional rava idli.


But back to the instant rava idlis, they make a quick healthy snack with rava (semolina) and it is steamed. What could be healthier? For me, this is like soul food.




Rava Idli
Adapted from: Cooking Up Something Nice
(Makes 8)
1 cup rava or semoline
1 cup curd or plain unflavored yogurt
Salt to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup water (I used a almost half)
1/2 tsp oil (I forgot to add this but it still turned out great)
A pinch of soda bi-carbonate

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and make sure there are no lumps.

Let it stand for 20-30 minutes. During this time you can make the chutney (Recipe below).

Pour the batter into idli moulds and steam for about 10 minutes.

Open the steamer and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Then take the idlis out of the moulds. A small spatula or the blunt end of a knife should be just right incase you need to help the out of the moulds.

Enjoy them hot with some Coconut Chutney.


Coconut Chutney

1/2-3/4 cup of freshly grated coconut
1-2 green chillies
Salt, to taste
1/2" ginger
A ball of tamarind, the size of a large marble, soaked in a little water

Blitz all the ingredients together in a blender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

And thats it. In half an hour you can treat yourself to something yummy and wholesome.


This recipe is linked to -
Tuesdays at the Table
Delectable Tuesdays





Monday, May 9, 2011

Spicy Tuna Pasta

It feels so good to be back. I had a lovely week off, despite the sweltering heat and I'm ready to get back to the grind. I can't believe how much I missed blogging and interacting with my blogger friends - I missed you guys loads.

Today, I'm going to share with you a meal thats so quick to put together, it never ceases to amaze me. The added bonus, is that you need nothing special for this pasta dish. All the ingredients are usually found in any pantry most of the times. I don't know about you, but so often I find myself so hard pressed for time that I haven't been able to put together something for dinner. I'm trying to increase my repertoire of quick and easy meals that I can use on days like this rather than ordering for take out. I somehow just can't do takeout anymore, unless of course there is no other option. This is one of those meals that I stumbled upon in those times of desperation and I'm so glad I did. This ones a keeper. How do I know that? I'm going to share with you a piece of information I don't think I've mentioned before. My husband does not like pasta. And thats that. This is difficult for me to understand, because me, I love pasta. Imagine my joy when he told me he really enjoyed it. I tell you, this ones good enough to convert even a non pasta lover (if there is such a thing). Go ahead and give this a try.



Spicy Tuna Pasta


1-1 1/2 cup uncooked pasta (depending on how much you need)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 green pepper, diced (You can use red or yellow peppers too, I just used what I had at hand)
3-4 tbsp canned tuna flakes or chunks
Red chilli flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
Grated cheese
1 tbsp olive oil

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat some olive in a pan. Add the onion and stir fry for a couple of minutes, till it starts softening.

Add the chopped garlic and let it release its flavors.

Add the diced peppers and stir well. Let it cook off for a couple of minutes.

Add the tuna flakes.

Season this mix with salt, crushed black pepper and red chilly flakes. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Add the cooked pasta to this mix and gently fold everything till all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Add some grated cheese. I don't use a measure for the cheese, I just grate as much as needed. I taste to check if theres enough to match our liking.

Again, mix gently, you don't want to break up the pasta. The heat from the cooked pasta as well as the fish mix will melt the cheese, making it even better.

Serve hot.


This recipe is linked to -
Not Baaad
My Meatless Mondays
Meatless Mondays
Just Another Meatless Monday
Mangia Mondays
Mouthwatering Mondays