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Nov 242014
 

Cornish Hen with Zereshk

Vacations recharge your energy and guide your path to what you seek. They take your mind off mundane things and help you see them with new eyes. Vacations make you do things outside your comfort zone and make you wonder why you never did anything like this before. They make you alive again.

The best thing I like about vacations is how much they make me yearn for home. A week in a hotel is usually enough to make me appreciate how comfortable my bed back home is. Though the daily housekeeping service is something I would like to take back with me. If only!

Discovering new and different cuisines is one of the major draws for me on a vacation. Exploring a culture through its food is why I travel. But after a while I do yearn for a simple home cooked meal if I have indulged in many a decadent meals.

Zereshk Cornish Hen

This time was no different. We had a wonderful vacation on the sunny beaches of the Islands of Hawaii, had our fill of sunsets and sunrises and waterfall hikes through the rainforest. And when it was time to head back home, we promised ourselves we will be back again.

Once we got back home, everyone just wanted a home cooked meal. No more restaurant food was the consensus.

A little trip to the freezer in the garage led me to the cornish hens, a few forgotten onions in the fridge and a pantry full of spices. I saw the mildly tart Zereshk berries sitting and I was ready to cook a delicious meal.

The Cornish hens with Zereshk berries is mildly tart, a little hot and goes very well with rice. By the time the rice cooks in a rice cooker or the oven, these are also ready for one piping hot meal.

Cornish Hens with Zereshk Berries

Cornish Hens with Zereshk Berries

Ingredients

  • 2 cornish hens, defrosted, cut into halves
  • 3 medium onions finely minced (not paste but really fine mince)
  • 4 tbs chopped garlic
  • 1 tbs hungarian paprika ( best quality you can get or Kashmiri mirch)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper ( Or use teekhe laal mirch)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala (Kashmiri or zafrani preferred)
  • 2 tbs cumin coriander powder or use 1.5 tbs coriander powder, half tbs cumin pwdr
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Salt.
  • 1/2 C zereshk berries.
  • 2 Tbs oil

Instructions

  1. Put the minced onion and garlic in a pan along with some oil.
  2. When the pan starts to heat up, add in the cornish hens on top of the onion mix and cover and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
  3. After 10 minutes, turn the cornish hens over and cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. By now the liquids released would start to dry out . Ensure you dry them out by cooking the hens further and then add all the spices.
  5. Allow the spices to mix in, add 2 cups of water and the berries and cover and cook again for about 10 - 15 minutes, until the oil floats on top and the gravy is of the consistency you like.
  6. Eat with rice.
http://www.spiceroots.com/cornish-hens-zereshk-berries

 

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Sep 072014
 
Chilka fishermen's Prawn curry

Chilka Fishermen's Prawn curry

It’s officially the Football Season. Yes, there is Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Footfall season. Fall in colorado is much hyped and short lived. Winter I don’t really look forward to. You didn’t think I was the “weekends in the snow capped mountains skiing types”, now did you? No, I am far from it. I don’t hate it, but let’s just say waking up to the possibility of shoveling snow away from the driveway is not on my bucket list. Never was.

I do like Spring and Summer. But I like the Football season more. It is the season when I see more of my friends in my home. LOUD, Boisterous, Happy! Eating, Watching, Drinking. And almost telepathically telling the boys in orange n blue what to do, how to play and how not to lose sight of that ball. Touchdowns are probably more thunderous in my home than in the Football Field, considering we add more noise to the noise from the TV.

I look forward to having friends over to watch the games or go to a friends home. It is more fun than watching them in a sports bar because our food and booze is always top shelf ;)

Chilka fishermen's Prawn curry

This season, I will blog about all the Football Food I make. I always cook a lot of food during the Football season, I just never blog about it. So are you ready for the Football Season? It’s game time!

For #Footballfood Week1, I made the Chilka Fishermen’s Prawn curry based on a recipe shared by my friend Purna. This prawn curry is simple as you would expect the fishermen’s food to be. Simple only in terms of cooking process. The dish is not simple in flavors. It packs a punch and is so good with beer. Since this doesn’t have much gravy, it is a perfect toothpick food for spice lovers and a great dish to open the season with. Good Luck to all your teams! May the best teams win.

Chilka Fishermen’s Prawn Curry

Chilka Fishermen’s Prawn Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 pound medium Shrimp/ Prawns ( head on)
  • 1/2 fenugreek seeds, slightly pounded
  • 1 1/2 C white or yellow onions chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1tbs chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp hungarian paprika or kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2tbs mustard oil

Instructions

  1. apply the turmeric on to the shrimp and leave to marinade for a few minutes.
  2. Heat the oil and allow it to come to a smoky point. Turn down heat and the slightly crushed fenugreek seeds. Stir and add the onions.
  3. Do not let the fenugreek turn brown or black. It will taste bitter, so add onions soon after the fenugreek.
  4. Let the onions cook until transparent. Then add shrimps.
  5. Add in the chilli powder,chilli flakes and salt.
  6. Cook until the shrimp is done, taking care to not let the spices burn. Medium heat really is your friend here.
  7. Try not to add any water, but if your spices are sticking to the pan, sprinkle a tsp of water.
  8. As soon as oil separates , the dish is done.
  9. You could make a meal out of it by serving some rice along side. But I plan to serve this with pita points and lot of beer.
http://www.spiceroots.com/chilka-fishermens-prawn-curry

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Aug 142014
 
Dim Posto

Dim Posto Egg Curry

 

Busy weeknights can make our best laid plans go haywire. It is often very tempting to get takeout and not worry about fixing dinner. For those days I rely on Eggs. The Egg Curry or an Egg Burji is usually received with no complaints on the dinner table. Both of those can be scooped with freshly made rotis or slices of whole wheat bread. If a dish gets done in under 30 minutes, I am usually game to make dinner at home instead of ordering takeout.

Dim Posto –  Bengali Style Egg Curry in Poppy Seeds Paste  is one such dish. If you have eggs that are already boiled, this dish is a breeze. Even if you do have to start with boiling the eggs first, this gets done in less than 30 minutes.

Dim Posto

When I tried it for the first time after getting the recipe from my friend Purna, who is my resource for all things Bengali cuisine, I was not sure if the dinner would go down cheerfully or would there be suspicious looks about what mom had made. Not only did Shloka enjoy the dish, she requested the leftovers be saved for her.

Dim Posto – Egg Curry in Poppy Seeds Paste

Dim Posto – Egg Curry in Poppy Seeds Paste

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs boiled and peeled
  • 5 tbs posto (poppy seeds ) soaked in 5 tbs milk for 15 minutes
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1/2 inch of Indian cinnamon
  • 2 green chillies
  • 2 tbs grated garlic
  • 2 tbs grated ginger
  • Mustard oil
  • salt
  • Fried onions 2- 3 Tbs (to garnish - optional )
  • Ghee ( to top off the dish )

Instructions

    Make the paste
  1. grind the green chilles and posto with the milk until really smooth
  2. grind the spices in a dry grinder, sieve and discard the coarse portion, add in the fine powder to the posto paste.
  3. Make the dish
  4. Heat the oil (you know the drill)
  5. sautee the eggs in it for a bit
  6. once they get a golden hue, remove from the oil and keep aside.
  7. Now add in the ginger garlic paste, saute then add posto paste and cook until oil floats to top. Now add in the eggs, cook covered, for another 5 minutes on medium .
  8. Serve and add fried onions on top

Notes

The fried onions add great flavor tot he dish, but if you are in a hurry you can simply skip using them

http://www.spiceroots.com/dim-posto-bengali-style-egg-curry-in-poppy-seeds-paste

 

 

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Aug 032014
 
chicken xacuti

chicken xacuti

 

Goa – the land of the Vindaloo and cashew Fenny and fish curries, abundant sea food and just the place for a perfect beach vacation. It was on one such idyllic vacation, more than a decade and a half ago that I discovered Goan Cuisine. As a young and inexperienced tourist (not traveller) my plan was to see all the places everyone thought I should see and check them off the list.

I did see the places and take in the sights in a rather touristy manner, I however stumbled upon Goan cuisine on the Baga Beach and was instantly hooked. Though the beach boasts of multi cuisine restaurants and fine dining options, it was the food from the shacks that hit home.

chicken xacuti-3

Goan food draws on different cultural influences – Portugese being the main one . There are notable influences from Brazil, France, African, Arabic, konkan to name a few. I think that makes it a truly unique cuisine.

chicken xacuti

 

The chicken Xacuti, pronounced as Shakuti, is one of the dishes I was introduced to a long time ago on my first vacation to Goa. On my subsequent trips for work or vacation I ensured that I try as many dishes as I could.

The spicy, coconut flavored chicken xacuti takes some muscle and time. You need to freshly grind the spices and slowly roast them too. But it is worth every second you spend sweating it out in the kitchen.

 

Chicken Xacuti

Chicken Xacuti

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds – 2.5 pounds chicken, skin removed, cut into medium size pcs
  • 2 tbs ginger garlic paste ( ginger and garlic in equal proportions)
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tbs oil
  • For Xacuti Spice Paste ( Xacuti Masala)
  • 10 – 12 dry red chillies whole, stems removed ( Kashmiri preferred)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 C onions, sliced thin
  • 2- 3 green cardamoms
  • !For Dry roasting :-
  • 1 tbs coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp peppercorn
  • 4 tsp poppy seeds
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 2 brown cardamoms (only the seeds.. discard the shell)
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  • ½ star anise
  • ¾ C grated fresh coconut
  • 1bay leaf

Instructions

    Make the Xacuti paste
  1. Heat a cup of water and add in the red chillies to it. Let them soak.
  2. Take a small pan and slowly dry roast the spices on low heat. Be patient, increasing the heat will result in burnt spices. When the spices will start emitting a slightly smoky aroma and the coconut will start to look lightly browned, you will know your spices are ready.
  3. Allow to cool slightly and blend into a fine powder.
  4. Saute the onions in 2 tbs oil, until slightly browned. Blend the onions and the red chillies along with the water and the powdered roasted spices, turmeric, green cardamoms and salt in to a smooth paste.
  5. Cook the Chicken
  6. Heat the remaining oil in a large pot, add in the ginger garlic paste and cook until fragrant. Add in the Xacuti paste fry it up until oil starts to show up on top.
  7. Add in the chicken and mix it all. If you need to add water at this stage because the spices are sticking to the base, add in about ½ c water.
  8. Cover and let it cook for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the gravy is thick.
  9. Mix the tamarind paste with 2 tsp of water and add it in. Mix and cook for another five minutes. Sprinkle the nutmeg and cover and let it rest before serving with pao or rice.
http://www.spiceroots.com/chicken-xacuti

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Feb 172014
 
bhindi gosht

Bhindi gosht

I made this dish of Bhindi Gosht or Mutton with Okra a while ago and shared the photo on my Facebook page. It received quite a number of squeals of delight as it is quite a traditional recipe. But some of the readers had doubts about the recipe. I don’t blame them.

There are people who are mutton lovers and  then there are people who love okra. Some love their mutton dishes and some love crispy okra. The one thing they don’t like is anyone trying to do something funny to their mutton or okra dishes. Like putting them in big pot and cooking them together. I had done the unpardonable. I had put some good chunk of goat meat and spoiled it by mixing it with okra. Even my biggest fan, my teenager, was a little skeptical when I first put this on the dining table.

“Am I going to like it?” she asked. “You won’t know until you try it, Bunbun”, said the mom. “Ohkaaaayyy!” ( insert teenager attitude + Grump)

bhindi gosht

I did understand the skepticism. There are not many people who like an okra when it is slimy and adding any kind of liquids to okra does make it rather slippery and slimy which is not a very nice thing to do to okra. And she usually likes her okra fried or sautéed. So this was a big step for her.

 

Then the teen ate it and then ate seconds. “Oh !it’s not funny to touch at all”, she squealed. I smiled (outwardly). (I told you so (very quiet inside the head))

So how do we cook okra and not make it slimy?

  • Ensure you either pat them dry after washing or let them dry on their own. But before you cut them, they should be dry.
  • Never overcrowd the pan when cooking
  • Buy small tender pods.
  • Let okra come to room temperature before cooking.
  • Don’t add salt until the very end.
  • If you need to add them in a soup, gumbo or a curry, precook on high heat before you finally add them in.
  • Cook on high heat. That‘s all there is to cooking okra. 

 

 

Bhindi Gosht – Meat with Okra

Bhindi Gosht – Meat with Okra

Ingredients

  • 750 gms goat meat (bone in - mixed pcs)
  • 500 gms okra – washed, patted dry and cut into 2 inch pcs.
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • I medium sized whole garlic bulb
  • 1 ½ cup sliced onions ( keep 1 cup and half cup separate)
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 8- 10 green chillies chopped roughly
  • oil for frying
  • 4 tbs oil
  • 1 ¼ C water

Instructions

  1. Heat oil and fry the okra in it.
  2. When you put in the okra, the oil has to be very hot, so be careful.
  3. Also do not over crowd the pot.
  4. Fry the okra to a point where the slime vanishes and all you get is a deep fried okra.
  5. The easiest method to test this is by dipping a slotted spoon in the pan and lifting a few okras and letting them drop back in.
  6. While you are dropping the okra back in, notice the oil falling back from the spoon as well. If it appears to have a slimy/ watery texture, your okra is not yet fried to the desired texture.
  7. The okra is done when you can no longer see the slime lines along with the oil on the spoon.
  8. Do not overcook the okra at this stage and ensure you don't brown them too much.
  9. On another heat source, put a pressure cooker and add in 4 tbs oil and heat it.
  10. Then add the meat and sauté for about 2 minutes.
  11. Now add in the water, 1 Cup of sliced onions, tomatoes, garlic and all the spices except green chillies and pressure cook it for about 10- 12 minutes.
  12. Start the timer after the pressure builds up and starts to release.
  13. And as always, pressure cook on medium heat.
  14. Allow the pressure cooker to release the pressure on its own – this allows for further cooking of the meat.
  15. Once the pressure releases, open the cooker and check for liquid quantities. If there is too much water, bring the contents of the cooker to a boil and let it boil till the liquid evaporates and the oil separates.
  16. When you see the oil separating, add in the onion and the green chillies and the fried okra. Stir to mix carefully. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 10 more minutes.
http://www.spiceroots.com/bhindi-gosht-meat-okra

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 Posted by on February 17, 2014 at 2:04 AM
Nov 142013
 
2013-11-12_17-14-28

Creamy Polenta

 A few weeks ago, my friend Barb from Creative Culinary invited me to join her for a culinary adventure at Stir. “Would you like to join me for a Bacon and Booze class at Stir?” she asked.  As if she needed to ask anything after the words Bacon and Booze and Stir! I love all three.

Bacon and booze for obvious reasons and Stir because it is one of the most professionally run recreational cooking schools in Denver. The vibrant décor, hands on cooking experience, professional kitchen assistants, well designed kitchen menus and a whole lot of fun!

On the day of the class – it was everything it promised to be. Fun and Full of new information & techniques and very well organized. The session started with all of the participants learning to make an Aperol Sour and a Bacon Infused Manhattan. It was quite an experience! We had access to the complete bar accessories and learned the difference between a cobbler shaker and weighted tins, the correct technique to stir ice cubes in the drink, the actual mixing and I also learned that the little measuring thingies that the husband uses to measure out alcohol are NOT called measuring cups – they are in fact called jiggers!

Bacon Infused Manhattan

 

This was followed by a technique class on how to wrap a pork tenderloin in bacon and keep it in place with a kitchen twine. For someone like me who had never cooked pork before, it was a great learning experience. This pork wrapped in bacon was to be served with a Peach & Dried cherry Balsamic sauce, which we made from scratch.

The final two dishes on the Menu that day were the Creamy Polenta with bacon and the Roasted Green beans with Pancetta. Can you smell the Bacon yet! Oh the aromas from the kitchen were heavenly and a little heady – blame it on the booze!

Cooking the polenta was again a first for me. It is one of those things that you know is easy, but because it is so deceptively easy you think you may not end up with the desired result and hence you never get around to gather enough courage to just do it. Thanks to Stir, that is one more thing I overcame that day. I couldn’t believe just how creamy and delicious the polenta was and how very easy! We had two more people in our team cooking along with us and the four of us agreed that the polenta was just way too delicious. We really had to stop ourselves from eating it straight out of the pot.

We did stop – Eventually AND Reluctantly!  I am sharing the recipe for the creamy Polenta with bacon Lemon and Rosemary and for the most delicious Roasted Green Beans, visit Barb’s Blog Post :Roasted Green beans with Pancetta.  

Stir has some great Holiday themed classes lined up for November and December. Be sure to check the Calender  and sign up for one of the classes. It’s Delicious FUN!

 

 

Creamy Polenta & Stir

Creamy Polenta & Stir

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 4 C whole milk
  • 1 1/4 C Polenta (coarse cornmeal)
  • 1 Tbs rosemary minced
  • 1.5 C smoked Gouda (grated)
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. .In a medium pot, render the bacon crispy. Once crisp, remove the bacon fromthe pot.
  2. Leave the bacon fat in and add in the milk.
  3. Bring the bacon fat and milk to a rolling boil over medium heat.
  4. Once the milk starts to boil, add in the polenta and whisk to mix it in.
  5. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until smooth and thick. Keep stirring it occasionally until cooked - about 10 minutes.
  6. Now add in the cheese, the crisped up bacon and rosemary, the lemon zest and juice.
  7. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.

Notes

Recipe Courtesy - Stirtolearn.com

http://www.spiceroots.com/creamy-polenta-stir

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 Posted by on November 14, 2013 at 4:00 AM