Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sweet Potato Almond Burfi



Diwali, the Indian festival of lights is coming up soon and all sweet lovers prepare a galore of sweets to welcome this festival.  No matter in which corner of the world you are, all Indians love to enjoy the vibe of this festival by either making sweets or at least buying them from Indian stores and of course lighting up fire crackers. 



I was pondering on sharing a Diwali treat that would go with the fall color.  Then this idea of burfi came up.  I have this ardent love for burfi from my childhood, so no matter what or where my mind flies, but it always land on burfi.  So it was final that a burfi recipe was going out on the blog.  I had all the ingredients with me and thought to experiment.  Since sweet potato is one of my favorite and its orange color was so vibrant, I simply couldn't deny my urge to try this.  I like to keep a bag of sweet potatoes in my pantry most of the time because I like the roasted sweet potatoes in my salads a lot.  Here are few other recipes you can check out that uses sweet potatoes:

While I was grating sweet potatoes, my kids were mused to try their hand on grating, but soon they gave up and wanted to see the end product.  Once I was done making the burfi, my hubby peeked and checked if he can have a piece.  I simply denied and said it needs overnight refrigeration.  They had to satisfy their sweet tooth with some scraping those were left out in the pan and the spatula.  The burfi came out really firm and the nutty and chewy texture from the almonds made it so delectable that you cannot stop with one piece.  My hubby gave me thumbs up for the burfi.  Hope you will try this recipe for Diwali!!  

Other Diwali recipes on the blog are:

2 cups - grated sweet potatoes (orange colored)
454 g - ricotta cheese
1/2 cup - granulated sugar
2 cups - milk powder
1/2 cup - crushed almonds/pistachios
1/4 tsp - green cardamom powder
4 tbsp - ghee
Almond slices/pistachio slices to decorate

Directions:

  • Wash and peel 2 medium sized sweet potatoes and grate them.  Grating should be done just before you are ready to prepare the burfi to avoid any discoloration.
  • Take  a heavy bottom wide non-stick pan and melt 1 tbsp of ghee.  Add the grated sweet potatoes and saute for 5 minutes on low to medium heat.  Now add the sugar, it will start to melt and coat on the cooked sweet potatoes.  Now add the ricotta cheese and mix well so that there are no lumps, followed by 2 cups of milk powder.  Keep the flame on low as it will start to splutter if the ricotta has too much moisture.  Once all the ingredients are mixed well, add the crushed almonds.  Continue stirring till the whole mix starts to leave the sides.  In between add the rest of the ghee one spoon at a time.  It took me 20 minutes to get the right consistency.  Pinch a small piece from the burfi mix and try to form a ball and if stays tight, you can tun off the flame.
  • Grease a glass container (pyrex) with ghee or line the container with wax paper with overhang on all four sides.  Transfer the burfi mix to the prepared container and level the top using a wax paper or the bottom of a greased spoon.  Leave it outside to cool down for 10 minutes.  Close the lid of the container and refrigerate for overnight.
  • Once the burfi is set, cut them into desired shapes and top them with Almonds/Pistachios slices and enjoy!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Garlic-Herb Breadsticks Without Leavening Agent



I had mentioned in one of my previous post about the love for bread sticks by the Thomas family.  We love them to the core especially when its garlic-herb bread sticks.  I had posted a recipe earlier to make the easy version of break sticks.  I don't have enough bread recipes in my repertoire and on my blog, so my intent is to do more trials on breads.  So I tried out another bread sticks from a recipe book last week and they came out super puffy and flaky and they were like the melt in mouth kind of bread sticks those resemble the ones we get in the restaurants.  The eggs and butter gives the puffy and hollow texture to these bread sticks.  Garlic and fresh rosemary plays the vital role in enhancing the flavor of this bread sticks.  Everyone in my family loved it and the only complaint they had was why I didn't double the recipe :(.  I didn’t get to take pictures of the dough since it was a last minute decision to blog about this since the results were approved by my family.  I am glad that this quick and easy recipe became a keeper.

Pull up your sleeves and make this quick and easy bread sticks that doesn't use any leavening agents and can be prepared under 40 minutes.  Serve them with a bowl of piping hot creamy tomato carrot soup and trust me your family will love it.  It’s apt for the cold evenings.  So are you ready to do some easy baking for dinner tonight?  I recommend trying these bread sticks with the creamy tomato carrot soup because I think that is the perfect combination and you cannot go wrong with both of the recipes. 

Yields - 8 - 10 bread sticks

Ingredients:
1/2 cup - all purpose flour
1/4 tsp - salt
1 tsp - minced garlic
1/2 tsp - fresh/dry rosemary chopped
1/2 cup - water
4 tbsp. - butter
2 - eggs

Directions:
  • In a heavy bottom sauce pan bring the water and butter to a rolling boiling stage.  Adjust the flame to the lowest temperature.  
  • Add flour, salt, garlic and rosemary to the water butter mixture.  Using a wooden spoon stir continuously till the mix forms a ball.  Turn off the flame and leave it to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Add one egg at a time to the dough ball and stir continuously to incorporate it completely into the dough.  The texture of the dough will become loose and crumbled, but keep stirring till it forms the ball again.  Cool it for another 5 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
  • Fill the dough into a heavy duty ziplock bag and seal.  Cut the tip to form a finger sized hole.  Squeeze the dough to form equally sized log shaped bread sticks on a greased baking sheet.  Bake it for 20-25 minutes till they puff up and attains golden yellow brown on the top.
  • Enjoy them with a bowl of warm soup.

Notes:
  •  You can also use a piping bag with big round tip instead of a ziplock bag to pipe the dough into log shaped bread sticks.
  • These bread sticks will puff up and the hollow shaped bread sticks are very delicate and they tastes awesome when served fresh.
  • You can brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with some sea salt and fresh rosemary before you serve them.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Almond Blueberry Coffee Cake







Many people will walk in and out of your life,
But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.
I made my best friends during my college days while I was doing my post graduation when I was away from home and staying in the hostel/dome.  We were the Trio.  We used to go home together for the study leave and vacations.  There was an excellent chemistry between us.  We were together in trouble and fun during the hostel days.  I remember our first cooking experience.  It was with one of the Trio who was from Trivandrum.  Her parents were not home at that time, so we decided to explore our culinary skills by trying out some lemon rice.  It was a flop; it turned out to be sticky bitter tasting rice.  As novice cooks we didn’t care for the measurement and used lot of rice for our experiment, so the task to clean up the kitchen without any evidence and cover up the mishap was not as easy as we thought.  We had to clean the scene before her parents were back.  After pondering a bit she came up with an idea and I concurred with her.  We waited for night.  Then the actions took place very quickly on the terrace of her house.  The lump of sticky rice was transformed in to small balls and we threw the balls into the next plot where nobody was living at that time.  We pretended as nothing happened and I believe she knew how to make rice and she made another batch of rice for dinner as nothing happened.   That was just one incident among many that makes me chuckle even today.   We used to stay in a hostel run by nuns.  The horrible food and the strict study hours were the tortures we used to tackle together.  I was the sleepiest of all and my friends will signal me before the nun comes for the rounds during the study time.  We made friends with the cook in the kitchen and used to get some extra goodies from her...lol.  We were the partners in crime.  We moved together to a better hostel later.  After our final exams we left the hostel and promised to be in touch with each other.  We used to call each other for some time.  I then pursued my professional studies and went farther away from them.  Years later everyone got married and started their lives.  Then we all got busier with our lives and slowly lost contact of each other.  I literally lost all contact info of the other two, but I used to search them in social media all the time with no luck.  Couple of weeks ago I tried the Trivandrum phone directory and found out my friend's home address, but the phone number was not under her father's name, but I decided to make that call.  It was early morning there, but the female voice on the other side told me that she had heard my name many times.  It was my friend's brother's house.  I was thrilled to find out that she still talks about me even after so many years of no contact.  I finally got her number from her sister-in-law and made my first call after years.  The voice at the other end sounded the same as I had heard years ago.  I said 'Its Shibi' and I wanted to be witty, so asked if she knows any one named ‘Shibi’.  The answer was 'I know only one Shibi'.  That was the best overwhelming answer I could get from a long lost friend.  I wasn’t sure where to start.  I think I did most of the talking; she was listening.  It was late night for me, but I wanted to wake up my hubby and kids who were in sound sleep and shout out my joy.  I was eagerly waiting for the next morning to break the news to my family.  It was really exciting and thrilling.


Last weekend I was talking to her and she inquired me about many recipes pictures she saw on my fb wall and thought I was simply sharing someone’s recipes.  I couldn't stop laughing because she knew me well; she never expected it from me as my cooking passion was never unveiled to anyone at that time, not even to myself!!  We shared our nostalgia of the first cooking experiment and some college day’s memories.  Now we are trying to find the third lost link in our TRIO!!  Hope we can find her soon. 




Today I am sharing a recipe for a simple coffee cake that you cannot have enough of it.  There is no tricky ingredients and the method is quite simple, but the resultant cake is totally addictive.  The combo of cinnamon and blueberry and the crunchy almond slices is the highlight of this coffee cake.    So don't skip cinnamon if you are planning to make this cake.  The soft texture of the cake base remains soft even when left outside.  My whole house was smelling incredibly good when I baked this.  So waiting long for the cake to cool down completely was not an option for us,  I won't blame anyone, it was all my fault that I baked it ...lol.  Please give this recipe a try and I am sure you will like it.




Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup - all purpose flour
2 tsp. - baking powder
1/2 tsp. - salt
3/4 cup - granulated sugar
4 tbsp. - softened butter
1 - egg
1/2 cup - milk
2 tbsp - plain yogurt/sour cream
1 tsp. - Vanilla extract

Topping
2 tsp. - granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. - ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cup - fresh/frozen blue berries
1/3 cup - sliced almonds

Glaze
2 tbsp. - powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. - cold milk

Directions:
  • Pre-heat oven to 375° F/190° C.  Grease a 9 inch round cake/spring form pan and line the base with parchment paper.
  • Sift all purpose flour, salt and baking powder together and keep it aside.
  • Cream together the softened butter, egg and sugar in a mixing bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment or use a hand mixer for this.  Add plain yogurt, vanilla and milk and mix well. Slowly add the sifted flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix till there are no lumps and everything is incorporated well.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level the top using a spoon.
  • Mix the blueberries, cinnamon and sugar together and gently push the mixture on the top of the batter using the base of a spoon.  Sprinkle sliced almonds on top of the berry mix evenly.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes till a tooth pick comes out clean when tested on the center of the cake.  The sides of the cake will get a golden brown hue and the blueberries will be popped on the top.  Let the cake cool for 20 minutes.
  • Meantime prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar with milk and mix well.  Spoon the glaze over the cake.  It is really irresistible and it will be really hard for you to wait for the cake to cool down completely, so slice them and enjoy them while they are warm. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kaju Murgh/Spicy Cashew Chicken Curry



Success - To me, the word 'success' can be interpreted in many ways and it owns many dimensions.  How do you judge success?   Do you have to reach the peak to be successful? Success and mediocrity may not go along, but success is not final, it opens the wide door to continue the path.  Success can be addictive, it has the power to change the personality in you.   Achieving greater heights and staying humble is very hard.  We rarely see people like that around us these days.  One such great personality was the late President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam.  His inspirational quotes are very popular and the one I like the most is:

"All of us do not have equal talent. But, all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.”

We should strive hard to seek the goal. We may have to work hard to achieve the goal and its vital to realize that none of the 'success' people enjoy comes through shortcuts.  The sweat, the pain, the hard work and persistent trials and failures leads to success.  The success you attain through shortcuts may not last longer.  Man needs difficulties in life because they are necessary to enjoy the success.  If there is no pain, there is no gain.  This post is for all my blogger friends who strive hard to keep their blogs up and running by hurdling all the challenges that come across their way!! Keep blogging and nothing should hinder the intensity of your passion!!

Today's post is about a spicy Cashew Chicken curry.  Chicken pieces are slowly cooked along with whole spices in a cashew based gravy to attain a juicy and aromatic dish that can be served with plain steamed rice or Rotis (Indian flat bread).  One of our family friend was very sweet and generous to give me bags of expensive cashews and I had been using them in all possible ways to make use of the high quality cashews she gave me without wasting a bit.  Hope you will give this recipe and try.


Ingredients:

To soak
15 - cashew nuts
1/2 cup - milk

2 lbs - Cleaned chicken pieces with bones
1 tbsp. - freshly ground ginger garlic paste
1 cup - caramelized onion paste/finely chopped onions
1 tsp. - coriander powder
1 tsp. - red chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. - Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp. - turmeric powder
1/2 tsp - garam masala
1 - medium tomato pureed
1 - 2 cup - water
salt to taste

whole spices
1/2 tsp - cumin seeds/jeera
1/2 tsp - fennel seeds
1/2 tsp - black peppercorns
1 inch - cinnamon stick
1 - star anise
2 - green cardamom
4 - cloves
3 - dry red chili
4 tbsp. - oil


To garnish
1/4 cup - fresh Cilantro chopped
1/2 tsp. - dry fenugreek leaves/Kasuri Methi

Directions:
  • Soak the cashews in 1/2 cup of milk for half hour.  Alternatively you can microwave the cashews in 1/2 cup of milk for a minute and keep it aside to cool.  Grind the cashews with milk and make a thick paste and keep it aside.
  • Heat a deep nonstick pan or cast iron wok with 4 tbsp of oil.  Add the whole spices and fry for 30 seconds.  Add garlic paste and cook for 1 minute.  Now add the caramelized onion paste/finely chopped onions and salt.  Cook till the mixture turns light golden brown.  Now add Coriander powder, chili powder, Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric powder and garam masala. Cook till the raw smell is gone.  Add the tomato puree and cashew paste and cook for another minute till the gravy looks thick.  Adjust the salt.  Mix the cleaned chicken piece and cover the lid.  Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.  Water will start to drain out from chicken pieces.  Now add 1 - 1.5 cups of water to the chicken.  Close the lid and cook for 25 - 30 minutes on low to medium heat till the gravy becomes thick and oil starts to collect on the top of the curry.   Check the chicken pieces for readiness and turn off the flame once it is cooked and the gravy reaches the desired consistency.
  • Rub the fenugreek leaves between your palm and add it along with chopped Cilantro leaves to the curry.  Serve them hot with Roti, Pulao or Naan.
Notes:
  • Adjust the amount of spices per your taste.  Cashews paste made with milk naturally has got a sweet flavor, so the amount of spices I used in this recipe was good enough for our palate.
  • You can adjust the consistency of the gravy by adjusting the amount of water.
  • Caramelized onions takes this dish to another level.  So try to use caramelized onions in this recipe.

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