Thursday, 30 June 2011

Green Plantain Curry/ Aratikaya Kura

When i started this blog earlier this month, i started clicking pictures of everything i cooked, hopeful that i can put them up here soon. Still it took me almost 3 weeks to give you this recipe. That's partly because i have been busy re-baking the things i had already posted, chocolate cakes and chocolate chip cookies. My mom was in Hyderabad last week and who better people than parents to try your cooking experiments on, so i made a heap of chocolate chip cookies and one slab of chocolate cake to send them home with her. And now aunts, cousins, grandma, mom and dad - even if they are all the people obliged to like what i cook - have been telling me how wonderful my baked goods taste. And i am in heaven. This has given me renewed enthusiasm to take my blog forward, to keep a journal of what i have been cooking at the very least. 

Monday, 27 June 2011

Spicy Baby Brinjal/Eggplant Fry

Brinjal (also known as Eggplant or Aubergine in different parts of the world) comes in many sizes, shapes and colours. The variety that suits this recipe best is the small, round and purple one. The most common use of brinjal in India is to make curries with tomato based gravy, or cashew based gravy or stuffed brinjals. I wasn't a big fan of brinjal and growing up, my mom always had to prepare a separate curry for me if she was cooking brinjal. Those were the days when i still got to demand special treatment. Now, when i have to do the cooking myself, i am willing to adapt. OK, you already figured that out.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Chicken fajita with grilled bell peppers

I had lived outside India in the developed countries of the world for more than two years during those single and carefree days and probably cooked chicken 5 times or even less. And once married i found out that my husband cooked chicken 500 times or something - more often than any other food cooked during his bachelor years in America. This meant that he considered himself a better cook than me - definitely for cooking his favourite chicken curry - and insisted on teaching me. 
The shy bride and ever humble student that i was, i meekly complied. What this means today is that i have totally unlearnt my way of cooking chicken curry (i faintly remember there used to be a yogurt based marinade) and have learned his way (with no diary based products in any cooking. But, of course we eat cheese. Who doesn't eat cheese!?). By the time i had mastered 'his chicken curry', - and was going to get all smug about it - he had come up with suggestions for experimenting with more chicken recipes - different kinds of marinades, and different cuts of chicken and the types of veggies that go well with chicken. This turned out to be one of those successful dinner ideas.
As promised in my previous post, here's another chicken dish that is now a regular in my home. We have it once a week or definitely once within a fortnight. Give it a try with your own variations and find out what works for you.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Mortar and Pestle and Measuring Cups

The last two days i have been busy cooking, shopping, eating out and talking, just couldn't make time for writing. And it almost made me crazy. Last night going to sleep i could only dream of what recipes to write about next. And i even woke up in the middle of the night wondering what 'layered' cake i should bake next and how i should go about the process. I am getting a little hyperactive, i think. Can i pretend to be sane and blame it on the century's largest lunar eclipse of last night? (changes in the moon can make people loony they say!) Now I have a trip to the farmers market planned in the next few hours and have lunch to serve and i really am freaking out here, am i not? You are right, i just need to calm down and prioritise. You make it sound easy but i really am the 'freaking out at the slightest opportunity' type who needs everything planned to perfection.
OK now that i got all that ranting out of the way, i wanted to tell you about my new mortar and pestle that i got since my last post. One made of white marble stone and looks so cute sitting on my black kitchen countertop. We went to Shilparamam (take a look at the arts, crafts and cultural village of Hyderabad here) on this cool monsoon evening to have some piping hot traditional oil-fried snacks. Yum! Oh yes and got this mortar and pestle set at a small price of Rs 130.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Papaya and Beetroot Jam

My father-in-law loves gardening. And his hard work with the papaya tree was bearing fruit - literally! Three weeks ago found us with so many papayas that we couldn't possibly eat them all straight as fruits. It was also mango season and papayas automatically got relegated to second place, despite being homegrown. So i needed an idea to consume the papayas. Only a few days earlier had mom sent me some home-made mixed fruit jam when i began my bread experiments. Ever since i had wanted to make my own jam. These papayas presented the perfect opportunity.
I called up mom and asked for the recipe and found that it was really really easy. And it was her idea to add a beetroot to give my home-made jam a natural yet appetising colour of store bought jams. The recipe is almost no recipe at all because you have so few ingredients and the process is so easy. The only downside is that since we are not adding any preservatives, it may not last as long as store-bought jams. But it has less sugar, so we can eat more of it :-)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Orange Bread for Breakfast

This bread has a special place in my heart. It was the first yeast bread, after i started my bread baking experiments, that came out with a satisfactory result. It looked as good as a store bought loaf and tasted delicious! You can taste the orange when you bite into a slice. You can make a healthier version by substituting upto 100% of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. It will make a denser bread (i have tried that version too) but i like this bread with the less healthy white flour!
You don't even need two rises for the dough, as called for by most yeast bread recipes and still tastes this good. My taste tester who is not a fan of breads said - "Mmm, its  good, flavourful" and finished a whole big slice. Have i sold this bread enough, already? Then lets get to the recipe, shall we.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Wholewheat chocolate chip cookies

My first chocolate chip cookie was at a Subway. The dark chocolate variety, with little white chocolate chips peeking through a rich, chocolaty, chewy flat cookie. Almost irresistible for chocolate lovers. Its like a dare to  the good minded people who go there to have their low fat sandwiches. Also, anybody ever notice there is always an ice-cream shop next to a Subway? As if the chocolate chip cookie wasn't temptation enough!
Break - had to munch on a chocolate chip cookie. All this writing making me hungry :-)
So every time we went to the Subway, i would opt for the cookies as part of the meal and deny my husband's favorite potato chips. Every time! Now such a proposition is not fair and cannot should not last long. But i had also become addicted to chocolate chip cookies. They are quite a comfort food. And so began my online search for chocolate chip cookies and, believe you me, there's no dearth of them online. I  then took the minimum ingredients listed in most recipes and tweaked it into a healthier version - so the wholewheat flour in the ingredients. You see, i had every intention of eating the whole batch of cookies and hence a small attempt at not feeling guilty at the end of it!
I had just about started my experiments in baking with cakes and breads at this time and what a huge surprise it was for me to find out that cookies were the simplest of all baked goods! Warm cookies are delicious. The only thing you probably have to get to make this recipe NOW is chocolate chips or chunks of chocolate. You can add some nuts into the dough if you want a chewier (is that a word?) cookie. I no more ask for the Subway cookie - i eagerly wait to get back home and have a couple of my home-made ones.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Spicy Baked Chicken Wings

As a kid all the home-made chicken i ate was in curry form, mixed with rice - once a week on Sunday. Never chicken as a snack. Growing up, we weren't allowed to eat outside food. Anything i craved for, mom wood come up with a home-made version! Anything that couldn't be made at home in our small Indian city at that time wasn't really good for you anyway - that was how our requests were turned down for pizza, burgers, fried chicken and the likes. 
 Would you believe that the first restaurant meal we had as a family, parents and kid sister, was after i got my first job and my family came to visit me in the new city i had relocated to. We went to this restaurant and had an expensive meal and i was so happy i brought them there. You 'd probably guess what mom's reaction was at the end of it. "I could have made that at home - better". Of course i wouldn't argue with that, she really was an excellent cook. She raised two kids on home food for 20 years and that's no easy task.

And then i married a man who loves chicken in all forms and cannot live without it for more than a day (being a traditional Hindu family, we become vegetarians on festival days). You can only eat the same chicken curry regularly for so long and you can only eat out so many times a week without hurting the pocket. So began our experiments in the kitchen for spicy chicken wings (and other kinds of chicken i will talk about in later posts).
You can fry the chicken wings in oil or bake them with equally good results. The taste comes from the sauce, which we have now perfected after many trials and errors. We like it on the spicy side and we bake the wings to reduce the amount of oil required. So here's our recipe for spicy baked chicken wings.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Easy Chocolate cake with cocoa

I never even dreamed that baking a chocolate cake could be so easy until the time i actually did it. And then i had to kick myself that it took me so long. Really? why did nobody tell me before? You tried, huh? I just didn't hear it. I will surely try  harder to keep  my ears open next time.
Bored one day of watching repeats of "Food Paradise" on TLC, I started reading through blogs and suddenly noticed all these people who were not cooks until they got married and how so many seemed to be baking cakes with ease. So i decided it was time for me to try it too. A decision i will never regret. And once this decision was made all the required ingredients magically made their appearance in the supermarket aisle. OK, you guessed it right, i just never noticed them before when they were right in front of my eyes. A case of you only see what you want to see. They say that once you buy a car or intend to buy a car, you start seeing the same model and colour everywhere! Right, right, I am going off the topic. In my defense, i am new to this - writing about a single topic.
Let me start again, if you even remotely like chocolate you simple have to give this a try. You don't need frosting to make it taste good, you can serve it warm or cold and it will keep for a week in the refrigerator. 

Easy Pizza dough

Let me begin my first recipe post with a recipe of easy homemade pizza, including the simple dough that can be made at home. No, Pizza Hut is not the only place where you can get great pizza (as was the thinking in our house before i tried this) and i want you also to find that out first hand. You might surprise yourself with the results, as the process is not at all difficult. You want my confession - I made my first pizza at home about 2 months ago and have made it 8 times since. You 've been warned ,it can be addictive when you find out how easy it is.

Pizza dough recipe adapted slightly from smittenkitchen website

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil - or use any vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sugar

My first step in pizza-dough making is to proof the yeast. Proofing the yeast means to make sure the yeast is alive and will make the dough rise and this requires adding yeast to lukewarm water for 5-10 minutes until the water becomes frothy/foamy. I usually heat the water in microwave for a few seconds until lukewarm. The water should be comfortable enough when you dip your finger in and not feel too hot. If the water is too hot, the yeast will die and your dough won't rise. It is better to err on the colder side. Also, add half a teaspoon of sugar to the yeast - it will speed up the yeast proofing.

Mix all the remaining ingredients in a bowl along with the yeast mixture into a ball. Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes on a floured surface, sprinkling in a little additional flour if the dough is too sticky. Lightly oil a bowl (use the previous mixing bowl if it is relatively clean - i always do) and put the dough ball in. Turn it all sides until it is completely coated in oil. You will only need about a teaspoon of oil for this. The oil keeps the dough from drying up while it is left to rise, which is the next step. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until the dough approximately doubles in volume. This might take between 1-2 hours.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Welcome to Food Slice

Finally i have entered the world of blogging today. And i have an overwhelming realization that it is not as easy as it looks - to just start posting. Of course it may just be my natural Gemini reluctance to put anything down in words, anything that can be held against me later. And i probably won't admit to have written anything you don't approve of. Who wrote it then, you ask? You can start believing in aliens or government conspiracies or hackers or whatever your thing is to make sense of the world.

Well, i did make a decision to take the plunge and now there is no going back before going forward. So lets see where this journey takes us. And hopefully it will be fun - for you and for me. I intend to write about food and other things that catch my interest, adding in recipes of what i have cooked, the success and  disaster stories, and some food pics in the process which will either make you want to make it right away or keep you away from it for life. Hopefully more of the former!