Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Beghrir (Semolina Pancakes with Honey)

I have always been fascinated by Arabic food. I like its simplicity, diversity and varied  flavours. I assume most of them do. They are mild, full of flavour and require less manual labour compared to Indian cooking. Dint I tell you about the book that I borrowed from the Library, the Moroccan one? I am so in love with that book and I hope to cook some dishes from that book apart from flipping the pages every now and then. Some of the recipes I wanted to prepare require spices and pastes which need to be pre-made at home or rather bought from super market, which is slowing me down in trying most of the recipes. Once they are sorted, I am hoping to share you some nice tagines on buttery couscous, kemia, salads, pickles and sweets. But for the time being I will offer you this easy peacy airy pancakes called Beghrir. Long back when I was little we used to live in the Arab neighbourhood and my mother had learned this pancake recipe from one of the neighbours. But she used wheat flour and plain flour instead of semolina. Those pancakes had similar taste too, apart from the difference in the texture.

As per the book, these are great favourite for breakfast or a sweet snack. Bubbly and airy on one side and smooth on the other, they melt deliciously in the mouth with a drizzle of honey, lashings of butter or a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon. I just slather it with butter or desi ghee (clarified butter) and sprinkle some sugar on top, just fold in half and enjoy. I guess these are best eaten with honey whilst warm.

Beghrir (Semolina Pancakes with Honey)
Serves 3
113 g/ ½ cup plus 1 ½ tbsp  fine semolina/farina/sooji
125g /3/4 cup plus 2tbsp plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 large egg

¼ cup warm milk
1 ½ tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 ¼ - 1 ½ cups of water
Butter to baste on the beghrir
Honey to serve

1.Mix yeast in warm milk and sugar and leave it aside until it dissolves and becomes frothy.

2. sift semolina, flour, salt and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.

3.Make a well in the centre.Whist the eggs slightly and add it in, along with yeast mixture and water and using wooden sponn start drawing flour from sides of the bowl. Beat in the mixture for about 5 minutes, until light and smooth.  You need to have a thick pouring consistency batter. Add more water if need be. Cover and leave to prove in a warm place for4-6 hours or until its frothy.

4.To make Beghrir, heat a non stick frying pan, wipe it with  little oil.  Pour a small ladleful of batter and swirl the pan to make a thin pancake of about 8-10 cm in diameter. Let it cook on one side until the surface looks dry and is perforated with bubbles. Gently rub with melted butter; lift it out of pan and transfer to a heated plate. Cover to keep it warm until you cook the rest of pancakes.

5. Heat the honey gently and serve the pan cakes immediately with the honey drizzled on. You can use caster sugar instead, flavoured with cinnamon powder.

NB: This is halved measurement of the original recipe. You can double the amount and make as required.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Balti Chicken Pasanda

Last week I had gone to the local library to pick some books.  I then borrowed some cookery books and others. I was quite bored of all what I prepare on regular basis and wanted to try something completely new, nothing of that I cook or even that taste like my regular food. Even the best of foods eaten on regular basis can feel tasteless and boring. Doesn’t it?! Do you all get bored with your own cooking, at least once in a while? I do, and that’s when we resort to some takeaways or eat out. Or I skim through blogs over blogs for recipes and sink myself in them without really cooking anything.

So, last week I dragged myself and my son to library, and brought so many cookery books and photography books for me and some story books for him as well. Unlike usual, our local library had some good collections this time. So I picked quite a few of which I thought were good which includes Moroccan and Lebanese cuisines along with an Indian cookery book which is real good. I tried three recipes from this Indian book and so far all were really appetizing. I would recommend this book if you are looking for some good meat and curry dishes,;North Indian. The book is called Indian Food & Cooking by Shehzad Hussain and Rafi Fernandez. The book contains 170 classic dishes ranging from the basic Tadka dhal to elaborate Biryani dishes. The book also has step by step illustrations, which makes it easier for the beginners. The curry below is very easy to prepare and it tasted great with the fruity pulao I prepared. Recipe is modified slightly with the amount of chicken I had. Original recipe used 675g of chicken.

Balti Chicken Pasanda
Minimally adapted from Indian Food & Cooking
Serves 5
800g chicken, cut into 2 ” pieces
2 large onions, 330g chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 tbsp chopped coriander
¾ cup- 1 cup milk (Or single cream)
1/3 cup/ 5Tbsp Greek yogurt
1 tsp chilli powder
2tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1 ½ tbsp ground almonds
5 cardamoms
2 small pieces of cinnamon sticks
¼ tsp pepper corns
½ tsp black cumin seeds
Salt to taste
1.Mix yogurt, cumin seeds, cardamoms, pepper corns, cinnamon stick, ground almonds, garlic, ginger, chilli powder and salt in  a medium mixing bowl. Add chicken pieces and leave to marinate for a minimum of 2 hours, covered in a refrigerator.
2. Heat oil in a large Karahi or sauce pan. Throw in the onions and sauté until it is golden.
3. Pour in the chicken mixture and stir well until it is well blended with the onions. Add little water (around ¼-1/2 cup if it looks dry)
4. Cook over a medium heat for about 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
5. Add green chillies and chopped coriander leaves. Pour in the cream or milk and bring to boil. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve along with any pulao of your choice.S
Notes: If chicken is washed and drained prior to cooking, there will be less water in the curry. If it is not drained, there will be more liquid in the gravy. You can adjust the water level and milk/cream level according to the water content in the curry.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Chocolate Glaced Doughnuts

Someone at home has gone crazy on doughnuts, and it’s none other than my little picky eater! What surprises me is that he prefers the homemade ones and doesn’t like the shop bought ones. How much he trusts his mom, LOL. I have made doughnuts several times before, but I wasn’t really happy with the texture. Either it was chewy, or crispy and never do-nutty. Always had trouble getting it right and that’s when I thought, these are real tricky ones to get soft and right.

I have been trying few recipes one after the other and it was Ria’s recipe that was best of the lot. I followed the recipe to dot apart from using milk instead of water and the outcome was brilliant. I just had to leave my dough for few hours extra to rise. Inspite of  using new yeast, my yeast had trouble proofing. I also used a chocolate glace rather than a ganache. I am looking forward to make a baked version of doughnuts next time my son ‘demands’ me for some doughnuts. I am not sure how well the baked doughnuts are going to turn out, but it will be healthier than the fried ones for sure.
Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts
Recipes source: Institute Of Baking and Cake Art via
Ria Mathew
Makes 10-12

Ingredients: 250 g plain flour +2-3 tablespoons of flour
1 1/2 tsp  yeast
100 ml warm milk
3/4 tsp salt
60 g granulated sugar
1 tsp milk powder
40 g chilled butter
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 large egg,beaten
Oil for deep frying

1.Mix yeast, warm milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar and leave aside for until it develops bubbly froth on top. Add in remaining sugar and stir till it dissolves. (It normally takes around 15-20 minutes for the yeast to proof anfd to get a frothy solution. But mine took around 40 minutes. If your yeast dint proof , don’t continue baking, discard the solution and proof again. You can read more on proofing here.

2. Sieve flour, salt, baking powder and milk powder together.
3. Cut and mix fat with flour. Mix well till fingertips till it resembles breadcrumbs. 

4. Make a well in the centre & add yeast mix and beaten egg. Mix till well incorporated and you get a soft dough that is not sticky. If you feel the dough is sticky at this point, just sprinkle more flour & mix till it is not sticky anymore and knead well. Let it rest for and hour or till doubled in size(in a warm place). Again mine took around 3 hours to rise!
5. Once it is doubled, punch down the dough with your knuckles. Roll out into 1/2 inch thick and cut out shapes using a doughnut cutter or using 2 cookie cutters/bottle caps. Let it rest for another 40minutes- and hour so that it rises again. This resting time is very important for yielding soft donuts. The resting time will let the dough rise creating bubbles inside which makes the doughnuts softer.

6. Add oil in a pan about oil around 3-4 inch high and place it on a low- medium heat. When the oil is hot enough, add doughnuts and fry on both sides until golden. Before frying, test the heat of oil by adding a small piece of dough in to the oil. If it rises immediately, the oil is too hot. The doughnut will get browned too quickly, without the centre being cooked.
7. Drain on kitchen towel and serve as is or with a chocolate coating or a simple glace.

For Chocolate Glaze:
½ cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
1 ½ Tbsp Cocoa powder
2 tbsp Milk/Water
Few drops of Vanilla Essence

 1. Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder to avoid any lumps.

 2. Add in the milk/water and vanilla extract and mix to form a glaze.

 3.This glaze will thicken quite soon. In that case, add in few drops of milk to loosen it.

 4. Place the glaze in a deep bowl and dip the doughnuts halfway through in the glaze and  allow it to set for 10 mins. Incase you don’t like chocolate frosting, you can just roll them in caster sugar or icing sugar or make a thin glaze with icing sugar and milk and dip the doughnuts in them. Th edounut tastes best on the day it is made, I warmed it up in microwave for few seconds when I had it the next day.
1. It is best to store yeast in the freezer for its best effectiveness. Do not use yeast that has past its expiry date. It might have dead and will not yield good result. Please check the expiry date before using it in the recipe.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Vendakka pachadi (Fried Okra in Coocnut and Yogurt Based Sauce)

Pachadi is a usually a coconut and yogurt based dish which is served along side plain boiled rice and other curries. It’s so easy to prepare, and can just whip it up in a jiffy. I normally prepare this to compliment any spicy curries that I serve along with rice just as my Malabar fish curry.  If you aren’t coconut fan, you can omit the coconut here and follow the recipe without using it.

Vendakka pachadi
serves 3-4
150g  okra sliced into ½  cms, around 1 3/5 cups
1 ¼ cups thick creamy yogurt
½ cup water (appx.)
½ cup grated coconut
Ginger – a very small piece (optional)
Garlic – 1clove (optional)  
1- 3 green chillies
Vegetable/coconut oil – to fry okras
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 dried red chillies
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 twigs curry leaves

1.Grind coconut, green chillies, ginger and garlic (if using) adding 3-4 tablespoon of water if required.
2. Mix this coconut mixture with curd and set aside.
3. Slice okra into ½ cm thickness and deep fry until light golden. Drain excess oil in a kitchen towel.
4. Mix fried okra in the yogurt coconut mixture and set aside.
5. Heat oil in a small pan or karahi and splutter mustard seeds followed by curry leaves and red chillies. Add this tempered oil to pachadi and let it sit for few minutes before serving. You may need to add few tablespoons of water if mixture is thick. Adjust salt and serve alongside rice.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Boondi Laddu

Hi friends, Hope you all had a great Diwali and Eid. I prepared these laddus just in time for diwali and planned to post on Diwali, but just got delayed. As wiLaddus need no special Introduction. It is one of India’s most popular festive sweets. These are seen all around Indian shops and bakeries and are served on festive and religious occasions . Apart from that laddus are also served along with evening tea and to offer guests. Boondi laddus are very popular with kids as well as adults alike. These are made of Chickpea flour and sugar.

Chickpea flour really does wonders, you know. Many delicious Indian sweets like Mysore Pak, besan Laddoo, Mohan tal, boondi laddu etc are all made of chickpea flour and sugar with flavourings and such.For making Boondi laddus, chick pea flour is mixed with water to make a batter and then fried in oil by passing through a perforated ladle or Boondi Karandi. These fried globules of batter are boondis, which then is soaked in a syrup of half-string consistency and then shaped into laddus. The trick lies in the batter consistency and the syrup consistency. For reference, please check out Hetal and Anuja’s video of preparing Laddu here:

Boondi Laddu
Makes 8-10
For Boondis:
1 cup Besan /chick pea flour
½ cup water
Few drops of yellow colour
For sugar syrup:
1 cup sugar
½- 3/4  cup water
Vegetable oil for frying boondis- as required
½ tsp cardamom powder
1 tablespoon chopped nuts (optional)
1 tablespoon raisins (optional)

1.Sieve Besan/chickpea flour to breakdown the lumps. Mix it with half a cup of water to a smooth batter. Add in few drops of yellow food colour and mix.
2. Mix the water and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and heat on a medium flame.The syrup should be of half thread consistency.
3. While the sugar syrup is cooking, heat oil in a deep pan/Karahi on medium high flame. Test the temperature of oil by dropping few drops of batter. If it pops up immediately the oil is ready for making boondis .
4. Hold a Boondi Karandi or a perforated ladle 2 inches above the oil. Pour few tablespoons of batter and tap the ladle by moving the ladle all around the pan. If you don’t move the ladle and hold it just in place, boondis will clutter on top of each other.
5. Fry till the spluttering sound stops. Drain and put them on kitchen towel to drain extra bits of oil and then add to hot syrup. Stir boondis in syrup.  Increase the heat to medium before you make next batch of  boondis. Make boondis until all batter is used up and keep mixing when you add them in syrup.
6. Fry cashew nuts, raisins and add to the boondis. Add cardamom powder and mix well.  Crush them slightly in processor, just for couple of seconds. (You need some crushed boondis and some whole, that will make easier to shape laddus. Dont pulse them until you get a paste.This step is just optional. But I found making laddus easier by crushind a bit.) Let the mixture be warm enough to handle with hand, and then shape them into laddus. Let them rest for 3-4 hours to set and store in a airtight container.
Notes and Tips:
1. For making laddus, consistency of batter and sugar syrup is very important. For boondis don’t make the batter too thin as the boondis will form trails and not rounds. And don’t make it too thick too. Don’t fry the boondis till crisp; when you press them, it shud feel soft. If boondis are crispy, it will not absorb syrup well. Fry them just until it stop spluttering. Don’t fry till golden.
2. For sugar syrup, just boil the syrup until it is half thread. If sugar syrup goes beyond this stage, it will start crystallizing when you make laddus. If it goes beyond half thread consistency, pour few tablespoons of water and simmer until you get the right consistency. For testing the half thread consistency, dip the spoon in the syrup, and let it get cool enough to touch with hands. Touch it with your pointing finger and press it against the thumb and lift the finger slowly. If the syrup forms a string between the fingers and break in between, it is half string consistency. If you get a longer string of syrup, it is one string consistency.
3. Towards the end, if you find it difficult to shape laddus, heat the mixture gently until it is warm enough to touch and continue making laddus.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Aloo Paratta (Indian Potato Stuffed Bread)

Aloo parattas are one of the most popular Indian flat breads served for breakfast or dinner along with condiments like curd or pickle to go with. It is easy to make, with less flaws however you make it. I should accept the fact that it is a bit time consuming with all the kneading, rolling and making the filling to go along. If you find the process lengthy, you can prepare the filling a day ahead and then continue rest of the cooking th enext day. The taste is worth all the effort.
For the dough:
3 cups wheat flour (Aatta) (You can use plain flour or a mixture of both)
1 ½ cup warm water
2-3 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt – as required, around ½ Tbsp
600 g potatoes, 3 large ones, skinned and boiled
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 large cloves of garlic grated
1-2 green chilli finely chopped
¼ cup Coriander leaves, washed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ - ½ tsp cumin powder
½ teaspoon Red chilli powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Extra ghee or vegetable oil if required, while cooking

For the Dough:
 1.Add salt to the flour and mix well. Add water and knead it for around 8-10 minutes until you get a soft and pliable dough. Apply oil on top and leave it to rest for ½ hour to 2 hours. This resting time will make the dough softer yielding softer chapattis. Set it aside while you make the filling.

For filling: 
1.Grate the potatoes using a grater. Grating potatoes is important to avoid lumps which are otherwise formed while mashing potatoes and result in bruised chappatis.
2. Place a pan on medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Thrown in chopped onions and saute until onion go soft. 

3. Add grated ginger,garlic, chillies and sauté till onion starts to take golden colour. Add chopped coriander leaves and sauté for a minute. 

4. Add spice powders, sauté for a minute. Add few splashes of water if it sticks to the pan. Add lime juice, followed by grated potatoes. Mix well and add salt of required. Once everything is well combined, turn off the heat. Let it cool down and then divide the stuffing into 10-12 balls.

For preparing the parattas:

1. Roll each dough little with a rolling pin, just enough to wrap a ball of the filling inside. Place a portion of potato mixture in the centre, bring all the edges together and twist it so that the filling doesn’t squirt while cooking the parattas. Repeat with all the dough and filling until both are all used up.
2. Flour the work surface with plain flour or wheat flour and flatten each stuffed dough to about 7-8 inch diameter. Heat a hot tawa and add a splash of ghee/vegetable oil. Place the parattas on hot tawa and cook  for couple of minutes on both sides until you see brown spots all over. Serve it along with plain curd, pickle and salad or any non veg dry curries or fries.

Note: I sometimes use half plain flour and half wheat flour for making dough.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...