Saturday, July 26, 2014

More on Internet Friends and Gratitude...An evening with Finely Chopped

Just yesterday I wrote about a Facebook friend and his generosity to us. K and I have been fortunate to have quite a few Internet friends, some of whom are in Mumbai and we meet them quite frequently. Among these are Kalyan Karmakar of Finely Chopped fame and his wife Kainaz.

Not only do we share an interest in blogging but we also are passionate about food, and that's what makes us meet over and over again, exploring new tastes or simply going back to old favourites like Bohri Mohalla, and Ling's, to name just a couple. And sometimes we meet at home.

Yesterday we met at Kalyan's home for dinner. There wasn't any occasion but there was a very good reason. They'd just returned form a holiday in Prague and there was something they wanted to share with a bunch of freinds. Smoked pork sausages stuffed with bacon! Of course we went!

What a lovely evening it was... there were chicken kebabs made by their cook (we all agreed she should start a kebab and paratha stall somewhere - the kebabs were that good!), potato wafers that are irresistible as usual, and a simple dinner of those sausages chopped and fried with potatoes, and Kalyan's Spaghetti with Pesto and Bacon which he has now refined to a sublime, delicious dish.

I was, for once, too taken up with the food to take photographs so I am sharing Kalyan's photos here.

Photo credit: Kalyan Karmakar

Photo credit: Kalyan Karmakar

Photo credit: Kalyan Karmakar

You will find Kalyan's recipe for pesto here.

As we drove home late in the night the hubby and I mused over how lucky we were to have met warm hearted and generous folk like them who were so eager to share goodies bought from lands afar - only because they knew we would really enjoy them.

Food can be magical and for us, it is food that has found us some incredible friends.

Marathon Bloggers Project 52

Friday, July 25, 2014

Some Gratitude and a Tray of Chorizo and Onion Pull Apart Rolls

Sometimes when we meet people we have no idea where this first encounter might lead. I've had the good fortune of meeting many generous people, some of whom I haven't met in person but on the Internet - mainly on Facebook. Among these people is Manish, a big hearted fan of food who has made it his mission to ply K and me with goodies whenever he finds someone willing to carry his gifts from London all the way to Mumbai.

Among the many goodies Manish has sent us are some incredibly flavourful Spanish Chorizo sausages. K and I love pork in all its forms and quite high on my list are chorizo sausages, be they the mildly spiced European ones or the rambunctious, tongue tingling, Goan ones. Somehow I manage to always have one version or the other in my fridge.

K loves bread and I try to bake some at home whenever I can. I'd just made a batch of pull apart rolls with a Pesto Rosso filling yesterday and looking at the rich red paste I suddenly thought these rolls would be quite fabulous if I stuffed them with some chorizo and grilled onions. I couldn't wait for today to begin.

We chopped up an entire Spanish chorizo into smallish pieces.

Then K rendered the fat off the chorizo in a non stick pan. The Spanish ones do not release great amounts of fat like the Goan ones so we didn't need to drain off any fat. We added sliced onions to the pan and let them grill nicely along with the chorizo till the onions began to brown. We spread the cooked chorizo and onion mixture on a plate to cool.

And then I used this mixture to stuff my Chorizo and Onion Pull Apart Rolls.

Here's the recipe for the basic pull apart roll. You can fool around with the fillings as you like. This bread is ridiculously easy to bake and so far I have done them with green pesto and cheese, pesto rosso, marmalade, Nutella and now, with chorizo :)

As we bit into the soft rolls with fat morsels of chorizo and the incredibly flavourful onions I gave thanks to the forces that be for giving me friends like Manish.

Marathon Bloggers Project 52

Friday, July 4, 2014

Pandi Curry for a Piggy Potluck

Some of us on The Porkaholics group got together for a piggy potluck and I decided to cook the classic Coorgi Pandi Curry. The main motivation for me was the fact that I had kachampuli, the specific sour vinegar that the Kodavas use. I had eaten pandi curry made by Megha and had always hoped to make it myself, and the potluck was the perfect opportunity. 

I asked Megha for her recipe and I followed it to the T. Pandi curry was surprisingly easy to make and it turned out to be quite a hit at the potluck. 

Here is the recipe once again, adjusted for the 3 kilos of pork I cooked for 10 adults. Many people got to take some home :) 

Megha Deokule's Pandi Curry 

3 kilos fatty pork meat, cubed into small pieces

50 cloves of garlic roughly pounded 

4 sprigs curry leaves

2 medium onions, sliced

6 green chillies, slit

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp red chilly powder

5 tbsp coriander or dhania powder dry roasted on a tava till brown

2 tbsp kachampuli vinegar

Salt as required

Dry Masala 

3 tbsp jeera or cumin seeds

3 tbsp whole black pepper

8 cloves

8 inch cassia bark or dalchini

In a large thick bottomed vessel mix the pork cubes with the pounded garlic, curry leaves, slit green chillies, onions, turmeric and chilli powders. Mix well, add some water and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and cook this on slow heat till the meat is about three/fourths cooked. This should take an hour or so. Make sure to stir it about once in a way as it cooks. 

Now add the dry ground garam masala, the kachampuli, the roasted coriander powder and salt and cook it further till the meat is fully done. Give it an occasional stir. I reduced the gravy as much as I could and ended up with a fatty spicy thick gravy that was really, really delicious.  

Traditionally Pandi curry is served with Akki Roti (rice rotis) or Kadambuttu (round idli like dumplings made with rava or semolina). We had it with regular sliced bread and rice. 

Cook the pandi curry a day in advance if you can. The flavours develop really nicely. Megha also advises that you heat it only on a flame and never in the microwave. 

I was very surprised to see how simple this preparation actually is. The magic, according to me, is in cooking it slowly. I love pork and this was one of the best I have ever cooked! 

Marathon Bloggers Project 52

Chocolate and Cinnamon laced Banana Bread

I am quite addicted to baking and the fact that I have a devoted audience in my hubby makes it even more fun. On his nearly endless "when are you making this" list was Banana Bread. Now I dislike fruit and bananas are particularly revolting for me. But I like to make stuff the man likes so I finally made some.

This one, in fact, is the second attempt, and apart from a couple of mini disasters, it was quite successful. I surfed the Net for a recipe that didn't seem too daunting and I chose this one from the BBC GoodFood website.I tweaked the recipe as I am invariably inclined to do.

My pantry cupboard is full of a variety of ingredients sent by my friends from all over and I am now on a mission using up these ingredients instead of leaving them forgotten in the cupboard or refrigerator. For the banana bread I decided to use up the cinnamon flavoured chocolate chips my brother had got me from Dubai. I also doubled the recipe to make more than one loaf.

Here's my recipe -

Chocolate and Cinnamon Banana Bread

250 gms butter (I used Amul)

150 gms castor sugar

120 gms brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, beaten

7 mashed bananas

Approximately 200 gms Hershey's Cinnamon Chocolate Chips (that's what was left in the bag)

400 gms white flour

2 tsp baking powder (I forgot to add this)

120 ml milk

In a largeish saucepan melt the butter. Keep the flame lowered so the butter doesn't boil quickly and turn into ghee. Add the sugars and the vanilla and stir gently to mix. The butter can splash out of the pan so be careful. Let the sugars and the butter meld together Do this on a low heat - you don't want the sugars to caramelise, you just want it all to mix.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the mashed bananas. Stir to combine. I was nervous about adding eggs to this mixture while it was hot so I let it cool for a couple of minutes and then added the eggs.

Once the eggs are blended in it's time to add the flour and baking powder. You can just sift them in together. Pour in the milk and mix it all well to get a smoothish batter. If the pan is not big enough pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and then add the flour. That's what I did.

Add the chocolate chips and give it another stir. You can easily add walnuts if you like. Use regular chocolate chips and some powdered cinnamon if you can't get your hands on cinnamon chips.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf tins and bake at 150C for 45 minutes in the fan mode with both elements on in your oven. If you don't have a fan in your oven bake at 170C. You can sprinkle demerara sugar on top of the loaf if you want a crunchy sweet topping on the loaf, if you like, as the original recipe suggests. I didn't because there's already plenty of sugar in the recipe and in the chocolate chips too.

Cool the loaf and remove from the tin. Slice and serve.

You can also bake individual cup cakes using this batter. Banana Cinnamon cup cakes will be great to add to your kid's tiffin box and even the hubby's lunch box :)

I had a couple of mishaps as I made this batch - I didn't read the original recipe properly so I didn't notice the 'self raising' bit about the flour! Then, once the loaves were in the oven the electricity went off! Thankfully that was for only 10 minutes and since I had left the loaves undisturbed in the oven, the final result was not so bad.

I made three loaves in disposable cases and had enough batter left over to make three little cup cakes.  One loaf was sent with the hubby to be shared at his office, one I took to share with my girlfriends and one was made for a friend who misses good home baked stuff.

This recipe is ridiculously easy. Just gather your ingredients together and then it's a matter of mixing them in one by one. No need to crank up the stand mixer, all you need is a saucepan, a mixing bowl and a spatula. Even though I seriously dislike bananas this is one recipe I'm going to be making often.

Marathon Bloggers Project 52