Friday, January 25, 2008

My new Clock!!

I'm sooo kicked!!! I found this cool looking clock on someone's blog and managed to get this really cute Orange one for my page. Figured out how to, and managed to 'generate the HTML code and copy it to the correct window...and voila! I have a clock on my page :) :)

The only problem however is that is half an hour slow...this is the closest I found to Indian Standard time...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Baked Bread & Cheese Comfy

This is something my Mom used to make when we were kids. It’s one of my yummiest memories :)


Cheddar or any tasty cheese cut into strips. Use Britannia Cheese Slices if you like.
Eggs
salt
Slices of bread
½ cup milk
Pepper

Take a small rectangular oven dish or a small loaf tin. Spread sides with a little butter. Soak the bread slices in milk and press out excess milk. Try not to break the slices.
Line the base of your dish or loaf tin with the slices.
Put a layer of cheddar strips or cheese slices.
Beat the eggs in a bowl with a little salt and pour some onto the cheese. Grind some pepper over this. Repeat the procedure starting again with milk soaked bread. Repeat till you have at least 3 or 4 layers. Finish with cheese on the top. Pour in any excess egg.
If it looks dry, beat an extra egg with a little milk and pour it in.
Cover with foil and bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. Carefully open foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it checking to see it does not burn.

Take out from oven carefully and serve directly from the tin. The melted cheese and the cooked eggs make a delicious combo with the moist bread. Mmmmmmmmmmmm!!!

To make it even more awesome put a few slices of salami or some grilled bacon (rind removed) in the layers for added taste..

bread and cheese comfy

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pancakes

1 cup plain flour
1 cup milk
1 egg

Combine the three in a bowl to make a runny batter. Refrigerate for half an hour.
Heat flat non stick pan and add a little oil. Stir the batter and pour a ladle of batter on the pan and let it form a flat pancake by tilting the pan from side to side. Let bubbles form on the surface. Using a flat spatula flip the pancake and cook the other side. Make the pancakes thick or thin, as you like.
Serve hot with jam, honey, peanut butter, Nutella spread…whatever you like.

Egg Bhurji

Chop an onion and a green chilli. Chop a tomato too. Fry the onion and green chilli in some oil in a pan till the onions turn brown. Add the tomato and mix well. Let it cook. Add some turmeric, chilli powder and salt and let it cook.
Take a couple of eggs, beat the hell out of them. Add to the pan and stir really well. Cook eggs till they thicken. Leave them runny if you like or cook further.

Eat with bread or rotis :)

Simply Subzis

Palak, Bengali style

1 bunch Spinach (palak) leaves
1 small potato, peeled and cubed into small pieces.
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 green chilli
salt

Wash spinach leaves thouroughly. Drain and chop. You don't have to chop it fine, just cut the bunch into about 5 sections across. Discard any roots.
Heat oil in a kadai/wok and put in the mustard seeds. Once they begin to splutter (they will) put in the peeled garlic and the green chilli with its stem removed. Stir for half a minute, and then add the cubed potatoes. Stir for a minute and cook covered for 5 minutes till potatoes are nearly cooked. Add the spinach leaves and salt. Don't add any water as the spinach will release lots of water. Cook till most of the water has evaporated.
Palak bhaji with potatoes is ready.

Simple Aloo Mutter

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed. Not too small.
1 cup green peas. Frozen will do very well.
1 tsp ginger garlic paste.
1 tomato, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 green chilli, stem removed
turmeric
chilli powder
Jeera powder
garam masala powder
3 cloves (lavang)
1 small piece cinnamon (dalchini)
2 elaichi (cardamom)
oil
salt


Thaw the frozen peas by soaking in water.
Heat oil in kadai. Add the whole garam masala- cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Fry for a minute. Add the onions and fry till lightly browned. Keep the flame low so you don’t burn them. You can add half a teaspoon of sugar to brown them better. Add the tomato, GG paste and green chilli. Cook for a couple of minutes and add the turmeric, chilli & jeera powders and put in a couple of tablespoons of water so the dry spices don’t burn. Add the potatoes and stir well. Let it cook for 5 minutes giving it an occasional stir. Cook it covered. Drain the peas and add them to the pot. Stir everything well to mix, add a cup of water and let it cook. Add salt and the powdered garam masala and let it bubble till the potatoes are completely cooked.
You can garnish the dish with some chopped fresh coriander leaves.
You can add some paneer to this too.

Serve hot with rice, rotis or bread.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Easy Sponge Cake

I've been baking this basic sponge since I was about 11 or 12 years old....my Mom taught me this recipe and I've been making it ever since. It reminds of the long summer afternoons with Ma reading a 'Millsie' as she called them (Mills& Boon books) and me making stuff with her instructions. Sponge cake was learned one such afternoon :)

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3 eggs
125 gms Butter
1 heaped cup flour (maida)
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence

Sift flour and baking powder together. Set aside.

In a clean bowl beat the butter and sugar using a hand mixer. They should be well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla essence and beat again. Pour in the sifted flour and baking powder and combine using the electric hand beater.

Line a baking tin with butter paper and pour in the batter. You can also use brown paper.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for about 40 minutes. Insert a knitting needle into centre of cake to test if done. The needle should come out absolutely clean.

Cool in tin and remove to a plate. Remember to remove paper from the base of the cake.

If you like you can cut the cake in half horizontally and spread some warm jam in between. Just microwave a couple of tablespoons of jam in a saucer and spread on the cake.

You might also roll some raisins in dry flour and add them to the batter. That is my Hubby's favourite.

Sometimes Mom added a generous tablespoon of cocoa powder to the batter with the flour to give the cake a nice chocolatey twist.
Enjoy :)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Some shortcuts and Basic recipes

Here are some basic recipes and other lifesavers that make life in the kitchen easy..

Fried onions-
As the name suggests...slice a pile of onions. Fry in peanut/ sunflower or any neutral oil. Store in a closed jar. No need to refrigerate. The trick here is to fry the onions slowly till they are dark brown and nearly caramelised. Add a bit of sugar to speed things up.

Fried Garlic
Chop a mountain of garlic. Deep fry in hot oil without burning. Store in a bottle or jar. No need to refrigerate!!

Ginger garlic paste-

Scrape skin off ginger. Chop into small pieces. Peel garlic. Usually I take more garlic and less ginger but you can vary the roportions, or you can grind them separately and use as required. Grind in the mixie. Refrigerate.

Or you can take the easy way out and buy a jar from your local store :)

Infact nowadays you not only get the basic garlic/ginger paste but you also get combinations with jeera, red chilli, green chilli etc., added to the basic mix. So go for it!! Pick up a variety and experiment :)

Very Easy Rice.

1 cup basmati (long grain rice)

Wash the rice well. Pour enough water to submerge the rice about an inch or so. Put to cook. As soon as it begins to boil reduce heat and let it simmer. Cover the vessel leaving a little room open. The rice should be perfectly cooked in about 10 mins or so. Keep a check. You can add a bay leaf (tej patta) or a star anise (badiyan phool) to the rice along with a bit of salt. It gives the rice a beautiful aroma.

A couple of attempts and you will be an expert…My hubby taught me how to cook rice. He used to call me his very own cereal killer!!

Basic daal.

1 cup daal.
Masoor daal (the pink one) cooks the quickest. You can cook it without a pressure cooker. Just soak for a while after washing well. Put on stove with plenty of water and a teaspoon of haldi. Add salt after the daal is cooked. Adding salt during cooking process retards the cooking process and leaves the grains hard. So add it later.
Tuvar daal (large yellow grains) takes longer to cook. It’s better to use a pressure cooker for this.
Wash well. Put into cooker with approximately thrice the quantity of water. Add a teaspoon of turmeric and shut the cooker. Place on heat. After the first whistle lower the flame. Let it cook for another 5 minutes and switch off. Let the cooker cool on its own. DO NOT force open the cooker.

Once cooked, you can just add salt and ghee and mash up the daal a bit. It will taste lovely.

Or you can fry some onions, add some garlic, a green chilli or two and add this to the boiled daal with a spoon of ghee. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander (kothmir leaves) and you’re in business!!

You can make some of the easy accompaniments I've written about earlier...like fried potatoes or even fry a slice of fish to eat along with your Daal Chawal. A good spicy pickle is another great side.

Kitchen Start-Up

In my days living in the hostel and then in our own place I learned a lot of shortcuts to good cooking. Though I love cooking, I love it even more if I can find an easier way to do it.. The satisfaction of having a good meal without having a state of the art kitchen and a chef's certificate, is indeed immense!! Here are a few things that I do. Of course it does help that we are in the food business so I have access to some things quite easily...like fried onions, fried garlic, ginger garlic paste, etc. But most of this stuff is easily available or is easy to make..


Equipment

You can start with a hot plate or a gas burner...either works well, though a gas burner is far cheaper as far as fuel costs go. If you are using a hot plate make sure your cooking vessels have a flat base. No round bottomed kadais or woks.
I like to have a couple of good quality non-stick pans, apart from a pressure cooker, a few dekchis/ bowls etc and a selection of wooden or metal cooking spoons/spatulas, etc

You must invest in a small onion chopper. There are really nice ones by Black & Decker….mine is now more than 10 years old and its going strong. You can also buy a ‘stick mixie’ …the ones that look like a longish stick with a blade at one end. These come with a few jars and can do a little more than basic chopping.

And you must have a good knife. I don’t let anyone use mine. It’s a big one, serrated, and it’s a dream to use. Find one that you like and hang on to it!! And you must have a chopping board. Buy an acrylic one…they’re available everywhere. They’re easy to clean and maintain.


Stuff to stock in your pantry...

A basic selection of spices and powders..turmeric, chilli, jeera, dhania, garam masala, pepper, salt (of course!!) and whatever ready mixes you might like...rasam powder, sambar powder, chicken masala, biryani masala, chhole masala, etc.
I'm a great fan of the readymade gravy mixes that are availabe...Parampara, etc. And of course...you must have ginger and garlic paste, you can stock them separately pasted or in combination.

Basic staples like rice, dal, oil and onins, potatoes, garlic pods.

If you have a fridge (which is difficult if you're in a hostel) then the world is your onion :) Stock it well! Stock up on whatever non veg foods you like…fish, chicken, mutton, mince, etc., and have paneer, green peas, frozen corn too.

Most big cities have supermarket chains that sell pre-cut vegetables, sometimes even in combination…Chinese stir fry, sambar vegetables or individual veggies sliced or diced. I have even seen trays of salad!! And of course you do get cut mixed fruits too. These might cost a bit more but they do save a hell of a lot of bother.

As you go along your confidence in the kitchen will improve and soon you’ll be eating well and entertaining too!!


More later....

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Daal Chawal and....

Hubby demanded Daal Chawal again...this time with fried prawns on the side. It got me thinking.. what all do we eat as accompaniments to good old Daal chawal? Daal Chawal seems to be quite a universal staple in many homes across India, eaten along with a variety of fried or mashed side-dishes, pickles, poppadums or salads...

Here are a few of the fried stuff that are common in my house...

Fried Prawns.

Prawns, shelled and deveined.
Turmeric, chilli powder, salt, Ginger garlic paste, garam masala powder (optional), oil

Wash prawns well and drain. Mix in generous quantities of all ingredients except the oil. Let it marinate for a while. Fry in hot oil. Serve with a twist of lemon juice and a couple of fresh green chillies for added bite.

This is a typical Parsi way of doing fried prawns.


Aloo Bhaja

Fried potatoes, Bengali style.

Cube potatoes. Rub turmeric and salt into potatoes. Heat mustard oil and throw in some mustard seeds. Let them crackle. Add the potatoes. Stir well and fry on high heat for a minute. Lower flame and let it fry covered stirring once in a while. Don't let it burn. Serve hot once potatoes are cooked through.

Peyaanj Bhaja

Fried onions.

This is something my Mom's aunt used to make, especially for us kids.

Onions sliced. Sugar. Ghee.

Rub the onion slices with your fingers to open them up into individual strands. Heat a generous amount of ghee in a kadai. Fry the onions with some sugar. Fry over a slow flame so as to not burn the onions.
This tastes lovely with plain daal and rice. You can serve Aloo Bhate with it.


Aloo Bhate

Aloo Bhate is one of the most loved preparations that I would eat at my grandmom's house every summer when we visited during school summer holidays...

Boil a couple of potatoes with the peels. Peel after they are boiled. Mash the potatoes while they are still hot. The basic mash will have only mustard oil and salt. You can elevate it to a slightly fancier version by adding finely chopped onion and minced green chillies to it.


Tareli Machchhi

Fish fry, Parsi Style

Surmai or Pomfret slices.
Turmeric, chilli powder and salt
oil to fry

Marinate the fish in the spices for half an hour.
Fry in hot peanut or any neutral oil.
Serve hot with lemon slices.

Jewels to eat....

This is an incredibly simple but exceptionally yummy preparation of vegetables.

1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
1 yellow capsicum
3-4 spring onions
4 cloves garlic
1 large potato, cubed
salt
fresh cracked pepper
oil

Cut the capsicums into cubes and chop the spring onions using the greens and the bulb. Chop the garlic, not too fine.
Heat oil in a wok and first fry the cubed potatoes till nearly done. Add the spring onions and garlic and fry another couple of minutes. Toss in the capsicums and stir it all well. Add salt and plenty of fresh cracked pepper. Cover for a couple of minutes and let it cook. Leave the capsicums slightly crisp. That's it!! Serve hot with bread or rotis :)

The coloured capsicums look very pretty like glistening jewels :)

Boozy Chocolate Mousse

I've got to make chocolate mousse for 300 people. That's going to be a hell of a lot of mousse!! It's so simple to make and yet it is so delicious...

Here's how...

Dark cooking chocolate 250 gms
3 tsp sugar, preferably small grains
6 eggs
Your tipple of choice- 2 tsps




Microwave or double boiler.
Egg beater
2 very clean mixing bowls
egg separator
Rubber Spatula
Clean large spoon

Melt the chocolate in a microwave or use a double boiler (put a bowl with the chocolate in a saucepan with simmering water. Ensure that no water gets into the chocolate).
In one of the mixing bowls measure out the rumor other liquor and 2 tsp sugar. In the other put 1 tsp sugar.
Separate the eggs putting the yolks with the rum and sugar and the whites in the other bowl. Make sure that the whites have no trace absolutely of any yolk. I usually separate the eggs individually in a small bowl and the add into the large bowls. This ensures that in case a yolk breaks the entire batch of whites is not ruined.
Once the eggs are separated, add the melted chocolate to the egg yolks and beat till smooth.
Clean the beaters thoroughly and wipe clean. Beat the egg whites till firm peaks form.
Fold in the egg whites into the chocolate mixture using vertical circular movements with the large spoon. Don't stir as if you're cooking curry!! Fold in gradually incorporating as much air as you can. Scrape clean using a the spatula.
Pour mousse into a clean glass bowl, cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate to set.
The mousse will be set in a couple of hours.
Garnish with chocolate shavings or chips or whipped cream...whatever you like.

This recipe gives you about a litre of mousse...enough for about 8 people.

You can use liqueurs like Schnapps, Kirsch, Pear liqueur, Coffee liqueur, Cointreau...whatever you like :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gorgeous Garlicky Chicken wings...

This is one of the easiest but most scrumptious recipes for making a quick snack or starter...

Chicken wings, tips removed.
salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Garlic, chopped and fried
Olive oil.

Marinate the wings in salt and pepper. Heat a little oil in a flat non-stick pan. Place the wings in hoy oil and lower the heat. Cover and let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes, undisturbed. Turn wings over to cook on the other side. Sprinkle a liberal amount of the fried garlic and cover again. Once the wings are cooked through (test with a fork. When juices run absolutely clear, they're done) increase heat and let the wings crisp a bit.
Serve hot!! They're simply yummy..

I usually keep a jar of fried garlic in my pantry.

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All you do is chop a mountain of garlic and deep fry it quickly without burning it. Let it cool completely and store in an air-tight jar.

Fish in Coconut..

1 Pomfret, cleaned and sliced
I can coconut milk or 1 pkt coconut powder (approx 200ml)
1 inch piece of cinnamon
1 star snise
3 cloves
1 generous tsp ginger garlic paste
1 onion, minced
2 green chillies
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powdr
salt
oil
Coriander leaves, chopped

Wash the fish well and drain. Sprinkle salt and a little turmeric powder, let it sit.
In a wok/kadai heat oil. Drop in the curry leaves and the chillies. Add the whole spices and fry for a minute and then add the chopped onions. Fry till the onions are pink. Add the GG paste, the turmeric and chilli powders. Stir well and add a couple of tablespoons of water. Let it cook for a minute or two.
Pour in the coconut milk and let it come to a boil. Add the fish pieces and salt as required. Once the fish is cooked remove from heat and garnish with fresh coriandder leaves.
Serve hot with simple steamed rice.

You can make this with prawns too...it tastes divine!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lotsa cooking...and some recipes

I did a huge load of cooking today..my sis in law and her parents came over to spend the day. So I had an audience.. :) Or should I say guinea pigs :)

anyway, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I cooked a mix of typical Bengali food and my own Indian-style preparations.

The menu was-

Rice
Daal
Fried Brinjal cubes
Chicken in a light gravy
Fish in coconut cream

Daal-
1 cup masoor daal, washed thoroughly
2 tbsp tuvar daal, also washed thoroughly
water
turmeric
salt
garlic, chopped and fried
Coriander leaves, washed, chopped fine
Ghee

Cook the two daals in plenty of water in a pressure cooker with a half teaspoon of turmeric. Mash it lightly to break up the grains. Add salt, garlic, coriander, and ghee and bring to a nice boil.
Serve hot with fried brinjals and hot rice.

Fried Brinjals

Large black brinjal (eggplant)
Salt
turmeric
Mustard oil

Cut the brinjal into largeish cubes. Sprinkle salt and turmeric on the brinjal cubes and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Heat oil till smoking an fry the brinjal cubes till they are slightly crisp on the outside, and done. Be careful not to burn them :)

and the other two recipes will follow soon :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Some Pictures...

This is a set of bowls that I did...

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These are part of a set done with a Harappan Script motif. This is one of my favourites and we use it at home :)

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This is a large serving bowl that I did. Pretty, innit??

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And here is really pretty floral dinner plate...

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A mug I did for a friend..

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

More of me..

So as I was saying earlier...I paint, I cook, I stitch, I read...and I help my hubby run his catering firm.
We are based in Mumbai. We are called Dalal Enterprises. We specialise in authentic delicious Parsi Cuisine which is predominantly non vegetarian but does have its vegetarian moments of glory. The business was started about 30 odd years back by my mom in law, Dr Katy Dalal, from her home. The business grew over the years and today she (and through her, we) has a stellar reputation for delicious authentically cooked Parsi fare using original recipes, fresh ingredients and produce.
At present Dalal Enterprises is run by Dr Kurush Dalal, Katy's son (and my hubby).

....that's about the business, now more about moi :)

I'm a creative nutcase. I'm moody but brilliant...even if I say so myself. he he he :)
I love cooking. I find it to be the greatest stress buster ever. And I love to paint. On any surface. Glass, the walls, furniture, fabric, Tshirts, saris, and now- ceramics.
For the last few years I've been painting on ceramics on a fairly wide scale. I've had some ehxibitions and sales of my stuff. And I haven't done too badly :)
I will post pics of my work soon..

more later :)
Rhea

Hello!!

Hello there!!
Nice to see you here :)
Welcome to my space on the web. I'll be posting recipes that I've tried out, pictures of stuff that I've cooked or stitched or painted.. or of bits of my life... :)
Drop by and check it out!!
Ciao!!