Archive for December, 2010

An American Thai fusion

I had seen this cooking show by a French chef on a PBS channel a while back and I never managed to find out the name of the cook. He was making a chocolate souffle, the day I was watching the show. I have so wanted to make it but never managed to find the recipe or remember the name of the cook. A couple of days back I remembered the souffle again and was determined to locate the recipe somehow. So I embarked on an internet search like no other. Ultimately success was mine and it did not actually take too long. The name of the cook is Hubert Keller and he is a noted French Chef who is known for this signature restaurants Fleur de Lys in Las Vegas and San Francisco.

He hosted two seasons of a cooking show on the PBS channel and his recipes are available at the website. I managed to find the souffle recipe which I shall try someday soon, once all the sweet eating frenzy of christmas and new year’s has settled down. Another recipe that caught my eye while I was browsing his website, was a Thai chicken burger recipe. It looked easy to make and I love Thai flavors. So here’s the recipe for Thai chicken burgers. I make smaller sized burgers therefore with half the quantities listed in the recipe, I was able to make about 4-5 burgers. So if you like huge burgers you would get about 3 burgers from the ingredient quantities listed below.

Ingredients:

For the Burgers

  1. 7-ounce coconut milk (1/2 can)
  2. 1/2 lime, zest grated
  3. 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  4. 1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste (You could increase the amount if you want more spice in your burger)
  5. 1 pound raw chicken thigh meat
  6. 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (chopped)
  7. 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 4-5  hamburger buns, split
  10. lettuce or any greens
  11. tomato slices

For the Pesto

  1. 1/4 cup peanuts roasted & salted
  2. 1/4 cup fresh basil
  3. 1/8  cup cilantro leaves
  4. 1/2 tablespoon coconut, unsweetened and shredded
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. 1/8 teaspoon salt (to taste)

Directions:

  • In a saucepan bring the coconut milk to a boil and then add the lime juice and the lime zest. Simmer the mixture till it has thickened and reduced to about 1/3 it’s original quantity.
  • In the meanwhile put the basil with the bread crumbs in a food processor and process it until the basil leaves are finely chopped.
  • Cool the coconut milk and add the coconut milk, the raw chicken (chopped into smaller pieces) and salt to the bread crumbs and basil and process the mixture till all the ingredients are mixed together completely.
  • Form 4-5 patties from the meat mixture and cool it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  • While the patties are firming, make the pesto in a food processor by grinding together all the ingredients, listed under pesto and a couple of teaspoons of water, to a coarse paste.
  • Cook the patties on a medium flame (about 3-4 minutes on each side) till the chicken has cooked.
  • Serve the burger by spreading the pesto on one side of the hamburger bun and placing the tomatoes, burger and greens and then the other half of the bun. (I like to slightly toast the bun in the oven to a light brown.)

The entire recipe took about 45 minutes from start to finish. You can easily make the patties and freeze them to use at a later time. The burgers are absolutely delicious. They have a very distinct Thai flavor to it (which I love). And it is also my first try at making burgers are home. Freshly made burgers are really delicious. I think I am going to experiment with grilling these burgers the next time around. The link to the original recipe is here: http://www.fleurdelyssf.com/recipes/207_3.html. Hope you enjoy the Thai Chicken burger.

And to all my friends, family and to all the readers of my blog, A Very Happy New Year to each one of you. May the new year usher in many more days of joy and happiness.

Advertisements
Time for some Shrimp

With Christmas all done a couple of days back and the new year just around the corner, I was overwhelmed with all the sweets I have been eating. I really needed something spicy and non-holiday like to just give my taste buds a break from all the sweets. So what do I do? I end up making shrimp, my all time favorite. I wanted something which had a hint of tanginess, a little sweet and a lot of spices. It’s difficult to find a recipe which looks delicious, tastes awesome and meets all your taste bud requirements, all at the same time. The only way I was going to be able to make something like that was if I were to come up with a recipe myself. And that’s what I did, and I called it “Sweet and Spicy coriander Shrimp”. I warn you, this is a really spicy recipe. I would recommend using only half the quantity of red chili powder and green chillies if you are not very fond of spicy food. The best accompaniment for this recipe would be rice and I hate plain rice so thought of making some sort of a simple fried rice. That’s how I came up with the Garlic Chive Rice. It’s quick and easy to make and compliments well with the sweet and spicy flavors of the shrimp curry. That recipe is listed in the next blog post (Will post a link right here once I finish writing it up). The shrimp curry takes about 45 minutes to prepare recipe from start to finish and serves 2-3 persons. Amit and I finished almost all of it though.

Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 lb shrimp
  2. 1/2 onion (finely chopped)
  3. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  4. 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  5. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  6. 1 tsp coriander powder
  7. 1/2 tsp lime juice
  8. 5 cloves garlic
  9. 8-9 almonds
  10. 2 tsp chopped cashew
  11. 1/2″ ginger
  12. 3 green chili (you can increase or decrease this depending on how spicy you want the dish to be. I used some thai peppers and they were really spicy)
  13. 1 cup chopped coriander
  14. 2 tsp tamarind paste
  15. 2-4 tsp olive oil
  16. 2 tbsp brown sugar
  17. 1/2 cup water
  18. salt to taste

Directions:

  • Soak the almonds and cashew in warm water for about 5 minutes.
  • Marinate the shrimp with the coriander powder, 1/4 tsp salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder and the lime juice for about 30 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile prepare the masala paste.
  • Grind the garlic, almonds, cashew, ginger, green chili, and coriander to a smooth paste. Add water to get a smooth consistency.
  • Heat 2 tsps of oil in a flat bottomed saucepan and add the mustard seeds.
  • Once the mustard seeds sputter add the onion.
  • Fry the onions on a medium flame till the edges are light brown. Now add the marinated shrimp and mix the onions and the shrimp together.
  • Fry the shrimp for about 5-10 minutes till it turns a pink.
  • Now add the masala paste along with 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil.
  • Now add the brown sugar and let the curry simmer for a few more minutes till the shrimp have been cooked. (Do not overcook the shrimp, as they will turn rubbery).

This curry goes well with rice. I served this with some Garlic Chive Rice. Again, I would like to warn you that please be careful with the number of green chilies you add. Since you are making a paste of the green chilies, it does turn spicy with a small number of chilies.

The spices and the brown sugar give this dish a very interesting flavor. The first thing you taste is the sweetness of the dish and then towards the end, the spices take over. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Garlic Chive Rice

Posted: December 28, 2010 in Rice
Tags: , , ,
A perfect Accompaniment to a Spicy dish

This is the garlic chive rice recipe that goes well with the sweet and spicy shrimp. It’s quick and easy to make and will go with any dish curry that has strong and spicy flavors. This recipe serves two and takes about 15 minutes to prepare depending on the kind of rice you use.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup Long grained rice
  2. 2 cups warm water
  3. 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  4. 2 tsp chives (chopped fine)
  5. 2 tsp oil
  6. pinch of pepper
  7. salt to taste

Directions:

  • Wash the rice and set it aside.
  • Heat the oil in a thick bottomed saucepan.
  • Add the garlic and fry till it turns light brown.
  • Now add the chives and stir for a minute.
  • Add the rice and cover the rice with the garlic and chive.
  • Once all the water from the rice has evaporated add the water and cover and cook. (You may need to increase or decrease the amount of water depending on the type of rice.)
  • Serve hot with a curry of your liking

I love garlic, it is my all-time favorite flavor. But this rice does not overwhelm you with any strong flavors. It just has a slight flavor which entices your senses. Hope you enjoy this recipe and do not forget to enjoy it with some Sweet and Spicy Coriander Shrimp.

Overcoming the Fear of Baking Bread

I have tried a lot of different varieties of dishes including baked and cooked dishes, but one thing that has eluded me is bread. I have tried making it twice before and both times I was rather disappointed with the end result. I had almost given up on making bread at home and decided that I will just have to settle with store bought bread for the rest of my life. So when the daring bakers challenge for December was announced, I had mixed feelings. I was worried that my first Daring Bakers challenge was going to end up in another disastrous effort at making bread. So I procrastinated for a month and then I guess it was a Christmas miracle or something, I decided that I was going to give it a shot after all. Atleast I could rely on the recipe here and I think I do believe in Christmas miracles. So I decided to bake it in the midst of preparing a side dish and dessert to take to a friend’s place for dinner. And yes miracles do happen and I do believe in them now.

The Stollen turned out to be awesome. And my fear of baking bread at home has been completely eliminated. Thank you Penny from Sweet Sadie’s Baking, you hosted the perfect challenge for me to get over my fear of baking bread. The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking.  She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

I wanted to take pictures of the wreath shaped stollen before I cut it. But it looked too tempting and I actually cut it before I clicked pictures. This bread makes the whole house smell so good and it tastes awesome. I am waiting to toast it and eat it with some coffee tomorrow morning. This recipe serves 10-12 persons and make one stollen wreath or two traditional shaped stollen loaves. I made my stollen wreath using half the quantities mentioned in the recipe and it is still quite a big wreath.

Preparation time:

The following times are approximate.  I suggest you gather and scale/weigh/measure all your ingredients before you begin mixing.

  • Approximately 1 hour first stage – then rest overnight or up to 3 days
  • 2 hours to warm up after refrigeration
  • 15 minutes shaping
  • 2 hours proofing
  • 30-45 minutes baking

Equipment required:

  • Mixer with dough hook or strong arms and hands
  • Mixing bowl
  • Bowl to soak raisins
  • Small saucepan
  • Sheet of plastic or plastic wrap to cover when proofing
  • Bench or pastry scraper (very handy for cutting dough and also cleaning work surface)
  • Rolling pin
  • Dough whisk can be handy but not necessary
  • Pastry Brush
  • A scale is really important to have when making bread so I strongly advise you to get one.  You do not have to have one though.  (would make a good Christmas gift!)
  • Sheet Pan or round Pizza pan
  • Parchment Paper

Ingredients:

  1. ¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
  2. 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
  3. 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  4. 10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
  5. 5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
  6. ½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
  7. ¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
  8. 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
  9. 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  10. Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  11. 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
  12. 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
  13. ¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
  14. 1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
  15. 3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
  16. 12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
  17. 1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
  18. Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
  19. Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or  you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Directions:

Soak the raisins:

  • In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.

To make the dough:

  • Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes.  Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
  • In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted.  Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
  • Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
  • In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
  • Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture.  This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate.  Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
  • Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed.  The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky.  Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Put it in the fridge overnight.  The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm)  but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath:

  • Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
  • Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

  • Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

  • Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan.  Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle.  You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

  • Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

  • Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape.  Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

  • Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
  • Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
  • Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
  • Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
  • The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
  • Let cool at least an hour before serving.  Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh.
  • When completely cool, store in a plastic bag.  Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
  • The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly…. so delicious with butter and a cup of tea….mmmmm

Storage:

The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar.

  • Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
  • The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
  • One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

Additional Information

Here is a link to recipes to make your own candied citrus peel http://www.harvestwizard.com/2006/12/candied_citron_recipe.html

http://video.about.com/candy/Make-Candied-Citrus-Peel.htm

http://userealbutter.com/2007/10/09/candied-orange-peels-recipe/

Kneading Bread

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWj8oHMPFm0

Martha Stewart’s wreath

http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/stollen-wreath-bread-with-mrs-kostyra

My love affair with Greek food

Amit will tell you how much he hates it when I decide where to go for lunch, when at school. I decide on My Big Fat Greek restaurant 2 out of 3 times. I so love the food there. Ever since they added the healthier version of their pitas, I love it even more. So obviously I had to try to make one of the dishes I love, Chicken Souvlaki. So I went about the usual internet search for that perfect recipe. I happened to read this recipe by Joelen in her blog called ‘What’s Cookin, Chicago?’. I adapted the recipe a little bit to suit my culinary requirements. This recipe makes about 5-6 servings of the chicken souvlaki pita. It takes about 20 minutes of preparation time and 30 minutes of cooking time. I usually marinate the chicken the previous night so dinner is ready in about 30 mins the next day.

Ingredients:

For Chicken Marinade

  1. 4 chicken breasts (cleaned and cut into bite size pieces)
  2. 3 cloves garlic
  3. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  4. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  5. 3 tbsp lemon juice
  6. 1 tbsp dried oregano
  7. 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  8. 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
  9. 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  10. 1/2 tsp salt

For the tzatziki sauce

  1. 1 cup plain yogurt
  2. 1/2 cucumber (peeled)
  3. 2 cloves garlic
  4. pinch of freshly ground pepper
  5. salt to taste
  6. 1 tsp lemon juice

For the Pita and Filling

  1. 1/2 onion sliced
  2. 1 tomato sliced
  3. Greens (lettuce different kinds)
  4. Hummus (store bought)
  5. 5-6 pita pocket halves

Directions:

  • Marinate the chicken overnight in the “For Chicken Marinade” ingredients.
  • About half hour before the chicken souvlaki is to be served, place the chicken pieces in an broiling dish without the excess marinade. Broil the chicken on both sides for about 5-7 minutes each.
  • Meanwhile put all the tzatziki sauce ingredients in a food processor and blend to a smooth sauce.
  • Chop the onions and tomatoes and mix a couple of teaspoons of the tzatziki sauce with this and set aside.
  • Once the chicken is broiled, heat the pita pockets in the oven for a couple of minutes.

  • Spread a couple of teaspoons of hummus inside the pita pocket.
  • Fill the pita pocket half way up with the onions, tomatoes and the greens.
  • Add about 4-5 pieces of the chicken making sure to press it into the pita pocket.
  • Top it off with some more onions, tomatoes and greens.
  • Serve with the tzatziki sauce on the side. (You could also drizzle the sauce into the pita pocket if you like).

Two of these pita pockets are a complete meal. These are quick and easy to make and was also one of the dishes we used to make during our very busy exam schedule. If you want to make a more original tzatziki sauce, you must hang the curd in the refrigerator for a couple of hours so that the sauce is a thicker consistency. You would also need to drain the water out of the cucumber before tossing it into the food processor. But both Amit and I like the thinner consistency of the sauce so I did not have to do the extra couple of steps.

Hope you enjoy the recipe and here’s the link for Joelen’s recipe http://joelens.blogspot.com/2010/07/chicken-souvlaki.html.

A Verry Berry Merry Christmas!

What’s Christmas without an awesome dessert. This year instead of making the usual cake, I decided I wanted to make something a little different. So since a cake is a must, the berries make christmas merrier and the white fluffy cream to make my christmas a white christmas (no other way to make it a white christmas in Phoenix), I decided on making a layered dessert. So the three main ingredients of this dessert are vanilla cream, pound cake and a raspberry / blueberry compote.

Ingredients:

Raspberry / Blueberry Compote layer

  1. 1 cup Raspberry (6 oz)
  2. 1 cup Blueberry (6 oz)
  3. 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  4. 1/2 cup triple sec liqueur
  5. 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
  6. 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  7. 2 tbsp cornstarch
  8. 1/4 cup water

Vanilla cream layer

  1. 1 cup whipping cream
  2. 4 tsp sugar
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cake layer

  1. 1 cup crushed Pound cake
  2. 1/2 cup orange juice (with pulp)

Directions

  • Wash the berries and add it to a saucepan.
  • Add the powdered sugar to the berries and stir gently till the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Now add the liqueur, orange zest and lemon extract to the berries and bring to a boil.
  • In the meanwhile dissolve the cornstarch in the water and set aside.
  • Once the berries have come to a boil, add the cornstarch and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool it in the refrigerator.
  • Add the sugar and vanilla extract to the cream and whip the cream till it forms peaks.
  • For the layers first put a cake layer with a couple of teaspoons of orange juice.
  • Then add a layer of cream.
  • Then add a layer of the berry compote.
  • Then repeat with a layer of cake, cream, cake and compote.

    You get about 6-8 servings depending on the size of the glass. You can play around with the layers depending on which of the three layers you like more or less. I loved the texture of the three layers coming together and I hope you do too. And here’s to a verry berry merry christmas!!!

    A secret passed on from Mother to Daughter

    All of us have that one dish that come what may, whoever else makes it, it’s never perfect. It has to be made by your mom and no one else. One such dish for me is the sambhaar she makes. I grew up having sambhaar every week either with rice, dosa, vada or idli. Being a south indian that hardly surprising. Given that I was so used to having sambhaar in my daily diet, I asked my mom to write down the recipe for me before I came to the US 4 years ago. And guess what she wrote down the recipe but since she never actually made the sambhaar based on measurements or a recipe, she never gave me the measurements either. But I guess it’s in my genes, and I managed to make a pretty decent sambhaar based on the measurement less recipe. But I decided that I am going to put down the recipe on paper someday. And then Cook, Eat and Relax happened and then a good friend of mine, Amol, asked me if I would ever be blogging about sambhaar. I promised him that I would, so here goes my version of my Mom’s Sambhaar from scratch. I do not use the readymade sambhaar masala that you get at the store. I make the masala from scratch just like mom used to.

    Also my blog crossed the 1000 hits mark on the 21st Dec 2010. Thank you everyone who’s visited my blog, I hope I can keep it interesting so that you continue to read about my adventures in the kitchen. So to mark the special occasion I am going to blog about a this special recipe that’s very close to my heart. One which takes me back to my mom’s kitchen in an instant. This recipe takes about an hour from start to finish, a little more or less depending on how ready you can keep the ingredients before you start.

    Ingredients:

    1. 3/4 cup toor dal (split pigeon pea)
    2. 1/2 cup chopped eggplants (1″ pieces)
    3. 1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded coconut (frozen or fresh)
    4. 4 teaspoon coriander seeds
    5. 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
    6. 5 dried red chillies
    7. 1/2 onion
    8. 3 garlic cloves
    9. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
    10. 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
    11. 1/2 teaspoon urad dal (black lentils skinned and split)
    12. 1 dried red chilli
    13. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
    14. 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
    15. salt to taste
    16. 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

    Directions:

    • Wash the split pigeon pea and cook in ample amount of water.
    • In the meanwhile fry the 5 dried red chillies, 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida, coriander seeds and the fenugreek seeds in a saucepan.
    • Chop the onion into big chunks and add it along with the garlic cloves to the slightly browned whole spices.
    • Let the onions turn slightly pink, then add the grated coconut. Fry this entire mixture taking care that the coconut does not get too brown.
    • Set this aside till cool enough to make a paste in a food processor. Add enough water to make a smooth paste with no chunks in it.
    • Fry the eggplant cubes in a little oil till they are almost cooked. Add these cooked/slightly fried eggplant pieces into the cooked dal.
    • Place the dal back on the gas on low heat.
    • Add the turmeric powder, tamarind paste and salt and bring to boil.
    • Add the masala paste to this (add a little at a time so that you can adjust the taste based on what you like) and let the mixture come to a boil.
    • You may need to add some more tamarind paste, salt or red chili powder depending on how you like your sambhaar.
    • Simmer the sambhaar for about 5-10 minutes so that the dal and masala paste and completely cooked together.
    • Set the sambhaar aside and add a teaspoon of oil to a small pan. Once the oil is hot, add the black mustard seeds. Once the seeds sputter add the urad dal, 1 red chili and the asafoetida.
    • Once the urad dal is slightly brown, add this (tadka) to the sambhaar. Garnish the sambhaar with coriander leaves.
    • Serve hot with rice, dosa, vada or idli.

    This recipe lasts me for a couple of meals. A couple of nights back we had the sambhaar with vada for dinnner and then with dosa for the lunch on the next day. I just drink the sambhaar like soup also anyways so this recipe may actually last you for more than just 2 meals for two persons. You can substitute the eggplant with okra, small onions or almost any other vegetables. I do not put too much anyways as I do not like the sambhaar to be too thick. I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you like it, all credit to my mom.

    Eggs Benedict

    Posted: December 21, 2010 in Breakfast, Brunch, Eggs
    Tags: , , ,
    My first Daring Cooks challenge

    For those who are not aware, I shall first give a little background on what the title means. I shall quote from the website thedaringkitchen.com about it’s history:

    In November 2006, Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice decided to challenge themselves to bake pretzels for the very first time using the same recipe. They each went ahead and posted about it on November 18, 2006.

    Having enjoyed that experience tremendously, they decided to try it again the next month, this time choosing to bake biscotti. And to make matters even better, they were joined by a few more food bloggers.

    As the months went by, their baking group continued to grow, until it was finally decided that this “little baking group” had to have a name and The Daring Bakers were born!

    The Daring Cooks were formed in 2009 as a way to learn how to become better home cooks. The idea spread like wildfire with 1000’s of people who also wished to learn more joined in on the monthly challenges.

    Today, The Daring Bakers and The Daring Cooks span the world as bakers/cooks of all nationalities come together once a month to try something new in the kitchen!

    The website hosts monthly challenges for both those who are interested in baking and cooking. I decided to be adventurous and join both. I registered at the website a few days before my PhD qualifiers were to start. That was a big mistake!!! I ended up not being able to complete the first challenge because I was too busy. I really do have bad timing. And then today I realized that I was already past the date when you are supposed to post the challenge (14th Dec). But luckily I was still in the grace period but the very last day.

    Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn the perfect technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anna Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato and Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

    I decided on the Eggs Benedict as it was a quick recipe and I was really really hungry this evening. So it ended up being our dinner. Well being a graduate student, you don’t really demarcate between what you can have for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It basically depends on the amount of time you have and how hungry you are. So I rushed to the grocery store to get some eggs and chives cause I had all the other ingredients at home for completing the challenge for Dec 2010 – Eggs Benedict.

    Amit and I were not in a mood to have bacon so I decided to substitute the bacon in the original recipe with some hot italian sausages (chopped and broiled). I also had some biscuit mix which I have been wanting to try from some days now. So I substituted the English Muffins (called for in the original recipe) with some buttermilk biscuits. Other than that I pretty much followed the entire recipe for both the poached eggs and the hollandaise. It took about 15-20 minutes to mix and bake the biscuits. And about 20-25 minutes to make the hollandaise and the poached eggs. This recipe serves two.

    Ingredients:

    1. 2 eggs
    2. 3 biscuits (halved and toasted)
    3. 1 sausage (sliced)
    4. chives (for garnish)
    5. splash of vinegar and some salt (for poaching)

    For the hollandaise

    1. 3 large egg yolks
    2. 1 tsp water
    3. 1/4 tsp sugar
    4. 12 tbl unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
    5. 1/4 tsp salt
    6. 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    7. pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

    Directions:

    • Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.
    • Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.
    • Whisk egg yolks and 1 tsp. (5 ml) water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.
    • Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.
    • Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.
    • Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).
    • Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs in a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you’ve preheated with warm water .
    • If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.
    • Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). I added about a tablespoon of vinegar to my small saucepan (about 3 cups of water/720 ml of water), but you may need more if you’re using a larger pan with more water.
    • Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.
    • While waiting for the eggs, broil the sausage in the oven and toast your biscuits.
    • Place 3 halves of the biscuits on each plate and top with about 6-7 slices of sausage. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the sausage pieces. Top with hollandaise and chopped chives, and enjoy!

    This recipe serves two persons. I was really worried about the poaching of eggs as I have never done it before. But the recipe was so easy to follow and gave such detailed instructions on how to do it that there was no way I was going to go wrong. The end result was fabulous. This recipe is a keeper – it’s quick to make and almost all the ingredients are usually available at home. Those who have never poached an egg and want to, should try this recipe. You will definitely be successful and very happy with the end result. Thank you daring cooks, my first challenge was so much fun that I am already looking forward to the next one.

    Amit works his magic in the kitchen!

    I am back and hopefully will not disappear for such a long period of time ever again. Well as most of you may already know I am currently working towards my PhD. The Industrial Engineering PhD program at ASU requires you to take a ton of classes (19 courses to be precise) and then they need you to pass a qualifying exam (based on coursework), a comprehensive exam (based on your research) and then a final dissertation defense. I gave my PhD qualifiers a few days back and therefore was busy, really busy studying for the exams. Finally I am done with it and “YES” I cleared the qualifiers. So, till it’s time for the Comprehensive exams,  I am going to be as regular as possible.

    You can imagine with the preparations for the exams in full swing, I hardly found any time to cook, forget blogging about it. Well that’s not exactly true, Amit and I did manage to cook some very quick and tasty recipes. But I never managed to get any pictures neither did I get a chance to write the recipe down. So the next few posts are going to be those recipes made again but this time I’ll actually blog about it.

    The first recipe is Tilapia in coconut gravy. A few days before the exam preparations started, I caught a bad cold and that resulted in Amit cooking dinner at home. And he made this awesome fish curry that was beyond awesome. He was supposed to just bake or fry the fish but he decided to make something a little more than that. And I am so glad he did. This is an easy to make and quick recipe and it tastes heavenly.

    Ingredients:

    1. 6 tilapia fillets
    2. 2 tablespoons garlic paste
    3. 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
    4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
    5. 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
    6. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
    7. 3 garlic cloves (chopped fine)
    8. 2 green chilies (slit)
    9. 1/2 tsp asafoetida
    10. salt to taste
    11. 2 teaspoons oil
    12. 3/4 cup coconut milk

    Directions:

    • Marinate the tilapia fillets in the tamarind paste, garlic paste, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and salt.
    • Marinate the fish for about 30 minutes.
    • Heat the oil in a wide saucepan and heat the chopped garlic, green chillies and asafoetida. (Add these three ingredients based on how many fillets you can fry at a time. I fried the fish in 3 batches so I split the chopped garlic, asafoetida and green chilies into 3 batches as well.)
    • Once the garlic is browned add the marinated fish and fry for a couple of minutes on either side.
    • Add a little water to the saucepan and let the fish cook thoroughly (Cook covered and keep an eye on the fish and the amount of water in the saucepan ensuring that the gravy never dries up completely).
    • If you are cooking the fish in batches, put the fish fillets together into the same dish and set aside till all the fillets are done cooking.
    • Once all the fish fillets are cooked, put it together in the same saucepan and add the coconut milk and 1/4 cup water.
    • Cook the fish in the coconut gravy for about 5-10 minutes.
    • Garnish the fish gravy with a few coriander leaves and it is ready to be served with any bread of your choice.

    This recipe serves 2-3 persons. It takes about 30-45 minutes to prepare this dish. You can substitute the tilapia with any other fish of your choice but preferably white fish. I give full credit of this recipe to Amit. I just followed his steps to make this dish. If you love fish, you will love this recipe and take my word for it, it’s delicious! Oh and as a thank you to Amit, I baked some chocolate chip cookies for dessert…