Smoked Spanish Peppers and Zingy Mushrooms in a creamy sauce

My love for using smoked sweet red peppers is taking over my recipes for now , I made these zingy mushrooms for a friend who popped in for brunch about 2 months ago but I have been very lazy and this recipe is finally seeing daylight. I guess the electric atmosphere of the yellow jersey clad stadium full of Brazil fans and the super tight match going on with Camroon is giving me a much needed rush of happy hormones ,add to that the frenzy of the Wimbledon matches , the air in Wimbledon is heavy with anticipation, huge posters , fluorescent tennis ball props in all windows , the traditional colours of the Wimbledon ribbons and balloons galore, the bus service from the station to the venue with hyperexcited people , everything is screaming tennis here!

Lamuyo Peppers are great for roasting as they are bigger and sweeter than their cousins the hot variety. They are juicy and crunchy and go well with garlic,basil,oregano,taste fab with cheese , think stuffed peppers grilled , just perfect for summer !

The recipe was given to me by P aunty , shes a fab cook as I have mentioned in my past posts too and her recipes are innovative, delicious and easy to make, I love pestering her to keep sending me more recipes everytime we talk 😉 .So I decided to amp up this recipe with some madness my style and use up the handsome red pepper staring at me from my fridge 😉

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pack Chestnut Mushrooms sliced
  • 1 large red Lamuyo sweet pepper
  • 8 cloves Garlic- bash and chop fine
  • 1/2 red onionchopped very fine
  • 2 chillies- (more or less acc to your taste) – chop fine
  • 3 heaped tbs flavoured soft cheese, I love using the herby Philadelphia
  • 2 tbsp  Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Parsley- a handful -chopped finely

Method:

  • Roast the pepper on gas flame till the skin chars and begins to peel off, I use tongs to hold it by the stem so it can char even at the top.
  • While the pepper cools just enough to allow you to peel and reveal the smoked juicy flesh, you can use the time to wash and slice the chestnut mushrooms
  • While taking off the charred skin off the smoked pepper remember to place a dish below as it will release lots of juice which we don’t want to loose as it is one powerhouse of smoky peppery sweet flavour!
  • Heat oil in a sauce pan and saute the garlic till it turns brown and the familiar aroma of fabulous garlic begins to waft and assault your nostrils.
  • Then add the very finely chopped red onion and cook on a low flame stirring regularly till the onion is thoroughly crispy and reduces in quantity, do not let it burn.
  • Then toss in the mushrooms and the chopped smoked pepper and cook for about 2 minutes on a low flame ,stirring and making sure it does not stick to the pan or overcook
  • Then add the soft cheese ,sea salt and finely chopped parsley,mix well and cook with lid for about 1 to 1 1/2 minute.
  • Serve with garlic bread smothered in butter – eat guilt free;)

What I love about this dish , its creamy , its a bit sweet a bit more zingy and has an underlying deep smoked flavour that is robust without being overpowering ,I’d say its a new comfort food for me , what with all the moorish soft cheese in there!1-IMG_6699 (Copy)

Chicken and Red Lentil Stew – a complete ONE POT meal (Suran & Red Lentil Stew)

There are times when I really want a hearty meal but don’t have the energy to stand and cook an elaborate meal. Its a times like that I turn to One pot meals, served with a warm baguette it is a filling , healthy and easy and quick to meal option which NO compromise on taste whatsoever! Moreover its home made , has flavour and is a satisfying experience to make .

I had been meaning to try and cook a stew using red lentils (masoor – Marathi for red lentil )for some time , they are my most favourite lentils and I am ALWAYS stocked up on a large 2 kilo pack of dried red lentils split and without skin , from my local Indian grocery shop at Tooting called Dadu’s. Also since all the other fresh ingredients were procured from my local LIDL this dish is GREAT value for money too! Am totally in love with the FRESH fruits and vegetable selection at LIDL right now.I bought some bright red long crunchy sweet peppers, a pack of medium hot chillies, fresh chicken breast fillets, a very cute packet of garlic, mixed pack of cauliflower and broccoli florets and a packet of gorgeous looking Shallots.( I have always wondered why the lentils are called RED when clearly they are a  lovely light orange colour !)

I love inventing a recipe as I go along and when I got my vegetable tray out on Sunday morning I had all these lovely vegetables staring at me and I just threw in what I thought would taste good together and VOILA ! A Steaming hot , thick, wholesome and tasty chicken and red lentil broth was born.

I love having some baby potatoes in stock and they are always handy in a stew , besides being quite the self proclaimed ”queen of curries” I always am well stocked on Indian spices so bay leaves and cinnamon sticks aplenty in my kitchen larder – oh yes

Please don’t feel put off by the ingredient list , trust me they marry well together in the taste department and the end result is well worth your time and effort!

The biggest bonus of this stew recipe is that you can create your OWN vegetarian version by replacing the chicken with Quorn or if you don’t for some reason like or have never tried or have no access to Quorn then try replacing the chicken fillets with  Suran/Elephant Foot Yam, it can be chopped into big chunks and it takes up flavours very easily. But with the yam the cooking time drastically will reduce as it can go from just right and chewy to soft, goeey or totally disappear into the stew ! My aai (mum) always used suran as a meat replacement and marinated it well in the spices we would use for chicken or lamb and made a thick gravy dish with it, when I was younger she has managed to fool me many times over thinking it was mutton 🙂 – Aai I miss you and all the food you cook – sigh…. no India trip in sight anytime soon 😦

(Dangerous though it looks the elephant foot yam is very very tasty! )

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Cross Section:

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Above 2 Images Credit here

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Serves:4  Preparation Time: 10 minutes  Cooking time:35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Red Lentils / Massor Dal -3/4th cup
  • Chicken breast mini fillets – 750gm / Comparable Quorn fillets
  • 5-6 baby potatoes
  • 6 shallots approx 200gm
  • 2 large sweet and crunchy pointed Red Peppers – approx 200gm
  • 2 short medium hot chillies
  • 2-3 bay leaves dry
  • red chilli flakes as per taste
  • sea slat as per taste
  • 1 veg stock pot
  • 3 dried red kashmir chillies
  • 1 large roll of cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • handful of Broccoli and Cauliflower florets
  • 2 large tbsp of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped
  • Red chilli powder
  • Sugar 2 tsp

Method:

  • Wash and soak the red lentil in water to soften them so they cook more quickly then get on with all the other chopping and cutting prep’s.
  • Chop the shallots lengthwise.
  • In a large stew pot or huge saucepan heat the oil and add the bay leaves,cinnamon stick and dry red kashmiri chillies which I have a very big packet of and am trying to finish , they only add colour and no heat so if you don’t have these you can totally leave them out – no harm done here.
  • Now add red chilli powder and sugar and just when the sugar starts to caramelise add the shallots and shallow fry them till they reduce and begin to turn a lovely brown colour.
  • Now add the 2 large tbsp’s  of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped and stir till it mixes well with the shallots.
  • Add the roughly chopped long red peppers and baby potatoes and saute’ for 2 minutes.
  • Add the washed chicken fillets/suran (elephant yam), soaked red lentils with the water it was soaked in.
  • Add the washed and roughly chopped Broccoli and Cauliflower florets and now add enough water.
  • I did not measure the water I added but add enough to get a nice thick stew , while the ingredients are cooking together on a low flame ,feel free to top up with more water as the lentils easily soak up as much water as you feed it with. Having said that you don’t want to end up with a watery stew so don’t add more than 3/4th cup at one go.
  • Season with sea salt , I love MALDON SEA SALT which I use and I have a few packets ALWAYS stashed away, great n salads it is!
  • Then sprinkle red chilli flakes and gently place a veg stock cube on top on this lovely pot of goodness bubbling away. I prefer the KNORR veg stock cubes , they have a great bouquet of flavour and are very handy at times when am exhausted and need to quickly cook up something tasty!
  • Stir well, cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame.
  • The red lentil will froth as they cook not to worry simply stir now and then and mix well, don’t allow the stew to get too thick we want enough lovely gravy to slurp this stew and dip the baguette into!

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I was so hungry that I didn’t click any photos of my lovely fresh ingredients but it was a brilliantly sunny day yesterday and after this wholesome stew for lunch we had to really force ourselves to go and get some much needed fresh air at Morden Hall Park – I happily left my smartphone behind so photos to share but suffice to say that it was a gorgeous walk through the huge grounds and we saw many happy families ,happy couples and cute old folks and even happier kids and dogs romping around in the muddy park  fun! And because we were so good we treated ourselves to hot tea and a sandwich at a local Turkish Cafe 😉 hehehe

Am very happy and proud of this new original recipe creation from my experimental kitchen. Next time I make this stew I will smoke the sweet and crunchy long red peppers and peel off the skin , to add a deep smoky flavour to the stew and not have the skin floating around – double whammy I say 🙂

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Am linking this recipe to Made with Love Mondays hosted by Mark at his wonderful  blog called  CookinwLuv

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Sweetcorn and Paneer Bhaji/Sabzi

In March I had rushed to be by my mothers side when her recovery post a double knee replacement surgery which was supposed to give her a new lease on life went badly wrong.

She was put on a very strict diet and asked to avoid more food stuff than she could eat, besides the heat in Pune was killing and the numerous medicines made her terribly hungry and moody. Not to mention the times when she was in so much pain I regularly went in the room next door and sobbed my guts out into a pillow…

On one of the better days when she really wanted to eat something tasty and refused all the options I gave her my maushi (that’s we call mum’s sister in Marathi language – my mother tongue) saved the day by making her this simple yet delicious vegetable which was packed with flavour in-spite of having on onion,no garlic and no tomatoes which mum was not allowed at all…If you have someone at home who is being given blood thinner medicines to avoid blood clots you may be asked to avoid foods that contain Vitamin K which is a natural blood coagulant.

Since this was only for one person we took a handful of each ingredient and used spices as we thought appropriate to suit her taste buds dead with all those medicines. Please feel free to amp up the spice if you wish.

Serves 2 as a side or 1 as a main

Preparation of veggies and Cooking Time:45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower florets 150 gm
  • sweet corn 50 gm
  • carrots chopped into tiny cubes 50 gm
  • green peas 50 gm
  • Paneer cubes/Cottage Cheese 50 gm
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt as per taste
  • a pinch of red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin and coriander powder mix
  • a small pinch of ground clove powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Finely chopped fresh green coriander leaves -just enough to garnish.

Method:

  • In a pan take 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and sautee the bay leaves, clove powder and cumin and coriander powder for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the sweet corn and cook for about 3 minutes with spritz of water on a very low flame with lid to allow the corn to cook well.
  • Add the chopped carrot cubes and add water and cover an allow to steam for 2 -3 minutes on a low flame.
  • Reason for cooking the sweetcorn first and then the carrots is that they will take longer to cook than the cauliflower and peas which will become mush in the vegetable if all these are added at once. To save time you could used boiled sweetcorn and carrot. Avoid canned and ready to eat variety.
  • When carrots are almost cooked add the cauliflower florets ,green peas and season with the turmeric and red chilli powder and salt.Mix Well.
  • Add very little water just enough to allow the veggies to cook well.

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  • When they are almost cooked after not more than 5- 8 minutes , add the soft paneer cubes and mix well and serve hot with a chapati fresh off the pan.
  • Garnish with a tiny bit of fresh coriander leaves finely chopped.Ensure they are washed thoroughly to ensure no muddy bits are hiding between the delicate leaves.

Needless to say aai loved the bhaji and after almost 15 days of bland food she was really upbeat. Soon after she really began to recover at a desirable pace and was coming up with many of her own ideas to make delicious food with less oil, minimal spices and without any tomato. Cheers to you aai , you are a very brave person to have come out of such a bad health situation only a few months ago, to a point where you are 100% independent and cheerful as ever.God bless all those that stood by us and the few special people who came to help me in the hour of need, no questions asked, you know I love you people tons right ?:)

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Disclaimer: Please note this is a true account of what my mum had to eat with her many food restrictions and is not meant to be treated as a medical advice for anyone following a diet where they have been asked to stay off Vit K .Please always consult your doctor before eating anything that is out of the ordinary for your condition.

Achari Mutton Curry – Mutton in a rich pickle flavoured curry.

I had tasted Achari Chicken a few years ago when we were all at my bosses house in Pune and one of my buddies who is a trained chef made Achari chicken and roti’s for us in a flash ! It tasted so divine!

When I was to fly to India for an unexpected development when my ma-in-law’s health suddenly went downhill and she was due for an open heart surgery on the 7th of Nov, I had to do something to lift hubby’s spirits and comfort food had to be manufactured. A good afternoon nap after a reasonably heavy meal of mutton curry and rice sounded like just the thing.

Fresh Mutton was procured but I didn’t have any puree’s to marinate them in and then a brainwave happened ! I got out my most treasured bottle of mango pickle made by my sister’s mum in law who is an expert with pickles and makes a minimum of 10 varieties every summer, these are then packed and sent all over the world !!

I really didn’t want to use up all the pickle but for a kilo of mutton I just had to , ah well small scarifies for the larger good I say 🙂

Serves :4

Marination Time :overnight + 30 minutes , more if freezing overnight

Cooking Time: 1.5 hours on hob and 30 minutes in pressure cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo mutton curry pieces
  • 1/2 bottle of mango pickle – about 250 gm of pickle
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of freshly ground ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tub of yogurt – 200gm
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 3 small red onions
  • 4 heaped teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 3 heaped teaspoons turmeric powder
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a small stick of cinnamon
  • 4 heaped teaspoons coriander and cumin mix powder
  • 3 and 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 4 boiled eggs peeled and sliced into halves.

For the Chilli Marinade:

  • 3 green chillies
  • Juices of 1 lime
  • 1 large tablespoon oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon red chilli powder

Method:

  • Wash the mutton pieces thoroughly and then pour the pickle over them and add the ginger garlic paste and mix well such that each piece coats well in the pickle.
  • Ideally I would marinate this mutton overnight to really let these flavours seep deep into the fibers of the meat,also as as mutton curry takes longer to cook than lamb it is necessary to ensure that for full maturity of flavours to develop marination must be for over 5 hours.
  • Cover the meat with a plastic cling film and leave in the refrigerator overnight, do not freeze unless the temperature outside is over 35 deg Celsius as at that temperature if the cooling in the fridge is not good the meat may go bad. If freezing the mutton allow at least 4 hours to totally defrost by first moving from freezer to fridge and then keeping it outside.
  • Pour the yogurt over the marinated meat and mix well,leave aside for 20 minutes
  • Just when you are ready to cook the mutton peel and roughly chop red onions into chunks and also made big pieces of the tomatoes and puree them in the food processor.
  • In a large vessel heat the oil and add a pinch of asafoetida, sautee the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick for about 30 seconds on a medium flame.
  • Then add the  red onion and tomato puree , sautee in the oil ,stirring well and let it simmer on a low flame with 1 cup of water.
  • Add red chilli powder,turmeric powder, coriander and cumin mix powder.
  • Let this cook for about 10 -12 minutes.
  • Now add the marinated mutton and add enough water to make a good amount of gravy , if you are going to use the pressure cooker then add a little extra.
  • Cook on a medium flame for about 1 and a half hour , in a pressure cook give it 8 whistles.
  • Mutton pieces have a lot of fat attached on the sides which also adds to the oil used for cooking hence I have used less oil.I am unable to eat the overtly oily curry which leave a huge layer of oil on the top if allowed to stand.
  • Now for the spicy dip, slit the green or red chillies lengthwise and dip into the oil and red chilli powder mix and add the juice of one lime.
  • When the curry is cooked serve hot on a bed of steaming hot rice with half a boiled egg.For extra flavour bite into the fiery red chilli with the lime-chilli mix.It’s not for the faint hearted though, but if you really do manage to relish the aftertaste of hot chilli you can safely say that you can now eat any fiery dish without breaking a sweat or getting the runs, a sort of baptism by fire food ritual!! One only for only for the brave souls!This powerful blast of heat on the tongue will see your forehead  dotted with beads of sweat.Truly a labour of love.

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The resulting mutton curry is rich in flavour and served hot with fluffy Jeera rice it is such a satisfying and comforting meal. But the best bit is when you leave the balance of this curry overnight , the next day the taste is so much better I’d almost choose left over curry over the fresh 😉

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Highly recommend serving this curry with a cooling curd side dish – half a cup of yogurt mixed with  with sliced red  onions and cucumbers ,seasoned with a pinch of salt , half a spoon of sugar and 1 heaped teaspoon of toasted cumin powder ,garnished with some freshly chopped coriander leaves.I’d wash down the meal  with butter milk or a good glass or two of a full bodied red wine .

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Hot and Spicy Lamb chops in Apple sauce

We all crave comfort food and at times the need is so great nothing else will do. Since I have been making variations of  rice dishes in the past few days I didn’t want to do anymore rice but wanted a light yet rich in taste and spicy one pot meal for dinner.

I also wanted to cook a savoury dish with red meat and use apples as an ingredient to enter the recipe competition for the best apple recipe hosted by Gourmandize Uk and Ireland and making a sweet preparation was not what I wanted at all.

Still taking a leaf from the sweet preparations from apple , I think cinnamon and apple go very well with each other. It’s these well paired fellas that can spice up even the most drab foods.

So I decided to get some lean lamb shanks and marinate them overnight in a hot Indian marinade.

I have tried to tone down the amount of spice here so as to cater to taste buds that don’t take kindly to overpowering spices and yes ”heat” in food shouldn’t mask the other subtle flavours should it? But if your palate is used to heat feel free to AMP you the volume 🙂 I have mentioned by how much the heat can go in the ingredient list to stay with acceptable levels of taste.

Serves:2

For the marinade:

  • 1 green chilli hot (2 green chillies if you handle spice well)
  • 1/2 a bunch of coriander
  • salt to taste
  • red chilli  powder 1 heaped tsp (2 -3 heaped tsp if you can handle the heat!)
  • freshly ground black pepper to dust onto the lamp chops

Wash and clean the lamb chops and marinate for atleast 2 hours, preferably overnight with salt,red chilli powder,black pepper freshly ground and a puree of half a bunch of coriander and one green chilli. Smear the chops well and cover the dish with plastic and leave in the fridge overnight for the flavours to really sink into the meat.

For the sauce

  • 2 cinnamon rolls, the light brown tightly curled ones, not the thick bark variety – more on the difference between the two in a different blog post!
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 apple sweet
  • half a juicy tomato
  • half a bunch of coriander
  • 1/2 red onion sliced lengthwise
  • 2 bunches of spring onions finely chopped

Method:

  • In a saucepan add 2 large tbsp of sunflower oil or vegetable oil, saute’ the finely chopped spring onions,red onion chopped lengthwise with the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and cloves till the red onion turns pink and reduces.
  • Now add the half an apple chopped into bite sized chunks.
  • Saute’ on a low flame for about 1 min and then add a puree of half a bunch or coriander,half a tomato and half an apple.
  • Ensure you do not waste any of the purée and scoop out every last precious drop from the mixer by adding water and pour all of this into the saucepan,stir continuously and as it begins to bubble add the marinated lamb chops.
  • The tomato in the puree and the apple in the puree and the bits in the saucepan should all work to now offset the otherwise hot spices – red chilli powder,black pepper and cloves.

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  • Cook on a low flame for 25-30 minutes or until the lamb chops are cooked well,add just enough water to ensure the sauce is not going dry as we want a thick rich gravy and open the lid in between and give the whole thing a stir to ensure it does not go dry or stick to the saucepan.
  • You now have the most tender and well cooked lamb chops with a thick, well flavoured tasty green sauce.I loved biting into the bits of apple now then which had gone soft and yum during the process of cooking , what an absolute delight!

Serve with warm bread, better still smear some butter and top it off with some finely diced bits of garlic ,pop it in a pre-heated for about 5 minutes and it’s just so good to polish off that thick sauce after you have savoured the lamb ummm !

What I love about this dish is that the recipe is 100% original, it was deeply satisfying experimenting with flavours and reaching a successful outcome and because I cooked it for my birthday lunch for hubs n me it was rather special too. The powerful spice was beautifully balanced by the sweet apple and as they cooked with the meat they lent a unique richness of flavour. It is wonderful to see how we can marry polar opposites in flavours and create something unexpectedly delightful – an absolute pleasure for the taste buds.

Now all I need is a whole lot of luck to win the very coveted prize of a Kenwood Stand Mixer!

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Well the contest is now done, though I didn’t win * sad face* am happy I made something yummy and original 🙂

Angel Hair Pasta and Prawns in Thai Red Curry and white wine sauce

I loved the name of this recipe by Chef Delia and hubby was also so excited about eating that we went to supermarket that she endorses and got us some really nice White Cooking wine and vermicelli pasta which I used as ”Angel Hair”. The other thing about this recipe that I found appealing was that it was easy to make, serves 2 as a main meal if prepared with suggested quantities and is a really satisfying dish to both cook and eat!

Why is it called Angel Hair ? Capellini Pasta literally means Angel Hair – because this pasta is the finest, thinnest… and when boiled it opens up and is so delicate , almost like how an Angel’s hair would be! Since it is a very light pasta it pairs well with sea food and is sold in nest like shapes that open up into silky strands on boiling …ummm perfect !

Ok my cheat sheet for this recipe , I used Thai red curry paste from a bottle but you can make your own too.As with other types of pasta, it is generally cooked until it is al dente, or firm to the teeth.

I love this angel hair pasta as it cooks really fast and the sauces are taken up so well by the strands.

Serves:2

Marination Time: 4 hours Preparation Time: 15 Minutes Cooking Time:25 Minutes

Ingredients:

  1. 175gm Angel Hair Pasta.
  2. 2 packets of prawns.
  3. 2 tablespoons light olive oil.
  4. 4 large tablespoons Thai Red Curry Past.
  5. 4- 5 large garlic cloves skinned and very finely sliced.I love the skins so I kept them, they add a diferent twist and crackle that I cannot resist!,
  6. 2 large tomatoes skinned,de-seeded and chopped.This was the first time in my life I skinned tomatoes and must say it was fun 🙂
  7. Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  8. 200ml dry white wine
  9. For the garnish – 3 tablespoons fresh coriander finely chopped,fresh lime thinly sliced.

Method:

  1. Marinate the deveined prawns in the Thai Red Curry Paste and set aside for as long as you can before cooking the meal, as suggested by Delia for 4 hours in a fridge is ideal.
  2. To start with the sauce ,add oil in a pan and the chopped garlic, fry till i is a beautiful golden brown and the kitchen starts to give away a delicious aroma that tantalises your senses…ummm , then go in the pan the lime zest and juice , the tomatoes and wine  and on a high heat cook and eventually reduce  for about  8 minutes.
  3. Now add the prawns and mix well on a high heat, then reduce to a low flame and let this bubble again for 3- 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat once prawns are well cooked and cover and keep warm till the pasta is done as we have to be ready to serve this immediately when the pasta is ready , being thin it does not stay very easy to scoop out and handle once boiled.
  5. In a large vessel boil water with salt and cook the pasta , it is done in 3 minutes precisely.
  6. In bowls ready for serving spoon out the pasta ,whatever water comes with it , wil be soaked up by the pasta and the sauce.
  7. Serve the prawns in the Thai red curry paste and white wine sauce on top of the Angel Hair Pasta.
  8. In one word – Perfect !

Finito;)

Now for some pics- hover over each pic for a description, pics are followed by credits to the sites which inspired this blog post,Cheers Folks and do drop me a line if you liked this recipe and made it for your family 🙂

And last but not the least my sweetheart, my patient hubby for buying me the ingredients and for being my time keeper for this dish,I am eternally in love with you …..

Ressurecting LEFTOVERS !

 

Heya all ye blog readers, followers or mere net trawler’s !

I have a simple yet effective way of resurrecting plain white boiled/steamed rice and conjuring up a tasty spicy dish to allow for a guilt free ,time saving recipe which will not only help you NOT die of guilt for throwing away rice that’s perfectly OK but just stale and also having teh pleasure of cooking an easy peasy meal all on your own. Of course it’s NOT my own recipe but a hand me down from my mother ! GAAH and YOU actually thought I was that creative …giggles to herself and continues typing …

Well you need , yes ! Of course my dear genius some leftover white plain cooked rice.

Depending on bow much rice you have say roughly a medium sized soup bowl for example , you will need :

1.2 tablespoons oil

2.2 cloves of garlic with skin

3.1 medium sized red onion finely chopped and I mean FINELY !hehehe I like trying to sound very professional , am just joking here , chop it how you will !

4.few fresh green lovely curry leaves.

5.Turmeric Powder

6. Salt to taste

7.Chilli Powder

8.Pinch of Asafoetida

9.  A pinch of each Jeera (Cumin seeds) & Mohri (Mustard Seeds)

10. A tiny squeeze of lime

11. Some finely chopped freshly coriander for garnish

12. One or two green chillies chopped

Ok now heat the oil in a pan , add the Hing (Asafoetida powder) , add the Mustard seeds and Cumin seeds and wait for the mustard seeds to crackle in the hot oil, then add the garlic finely chopped with the skin and let it turn brown and crisp , believe me,it adds a power packed punch to the flavour of the rice,then add some green chillies chopped to a size that you can pick them out if you don’t want to set your tongue on fire ! Then,in go the curry leaves and the chopped red onion,after the onions are nicely tossed and turned in the oil to give them just the soft and crunchy texture you need,toss in the rice and slightly turn it with your hand before you do to prevent it from sticking , it should open up so that the flavours of the tadka (seasoning ) touch EACH grain and coat it with their heavenly goodness !

Then add the turmeic powder,red chilli powder and mix well,cover the vessel and cook on a very low flame so as to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan at the bottom. Steam for some time and open the lid,squeeze a generous bit of lime(everytime I think LIME or LEMON , I think of the way Jamie Oliver talks about it and uses it generously in MOST of his preparations, I am LOVE with LIME !) on this dish and garnish with fresh coriander, you can even add a few bits of chopped fresh tomato of you like.

Serve HOT with any curry or ”leftover” dal reheated.

I LOVE eating this plain with a big dollop of curd or plain yogurt too !

See told you it was eay peasy !

Goda Sheera (Sooji Halwa in Hindi, Prasadacha Sheera for Satyanarayan Pooja)

I have been planning for ages to make some goda sheera (goda =sweet in Marathi , my mother tongue and sheera stands for a sweet preparation made using Semolina as the primary ingredient ). I wanted to prepare this for Holi but was too lazy to do it but on Gudi Padwa , which is the Maharashtrian New year , I decided to be a good girl and preapre this sweet dish and offer it to my favourite god Ganpati Bappa:)

I love using milk and mashed bananas as it reminds me of the way my elder Sister prepares it and also of the many Satyanarayan Pooja Prasad (Prasad = offering made to god in the form of food etc) that I have greedily gobbled up all my life back home in India. My mother though prefers to prepare this dish using a mixture of sugar dissolved in water to add the sweet taste. Any way you choose to prepare it, I assure you it is a hugely satisfying experience preparing it  and gobbling it afterwards 🙂

It would be unfair to throw Indian terms at my non Indian readers so , Gudi Padwa is a festival wherein we Maharashtrians celebrate the end of the harvest season and welcome a brand new year with the Hindu Calender. Satanarayan Pooja is a Hindu ritual of worship performed to celebrate new beginnings like a wedding, a house-warming or during the annual Ganesh Festival . It requires the Man and the Lady of the house to perform an elaborate offering to god and the beautiful part of the pooja or the ritual is the Katha (Katha simply means story in Marathi) as it takes the listener on a journey through tales that define our religion. The ultimate offering of love for god at the end of this ritual is called a Prasad and is almost always Sheera .Please click on the hyperlinks to enjoy reading in detail about the terms used. I thank all contributors  of Wikipedia for providing such useful and beautifully written information. Oh yes and the most fun part of Gudi Padwa is the Gudi , it is basically a long stick covered in shiny wrapping paper and a decorative piece of cloth is placed on the top and an inverted ”gadoo” or a stainless glass of a particular shape is placed over it or a brass container which is used for poojas and is again a very auspicious piece of the ritual. The swastika symbol is made on it using bright red  kumkum, then this is wrapped with a garland of fresh marigold and bright green leaves of the mango tree and also a garland made from ” Batashe” which is a white leaf like thing made from concentrated sugar syrup and strung onto a string and made into a garland .This is then perched in the balcony and worshipped and kept on display for all to see , it is quite a sight to see colourful ”gudi’s” swaying outside everyone’s windows and balconies .

I had to make mine this year using an un-used shower curtain rod, golden wrapping paper recycled from Christmas, a steel bowl instead of the traditional glass and a bright red stole instead of the usual auspicious colours of green or gold !Anyway , this is what it looked like 🙂 , am quite proud of it really !

Below I have chosen 2 images from google which I feel are really good and stunningly clear images and really capture the spirit of the festival , the first of a couple dressed all traditionally and with the beautiful goodi being worshipped using a well decorated thali (plate containing several items for performing the ritual) and the second image is of the sexy Ms.Isha Koppikar looking like a million bucks and the gudi looks lovely as well !

(Image courtesy pic 1 :

http://idiva.com/news-relationships/creative-ways-to-celebrate-gudi-padwa/4090)

Pic 1:

Pic 2:

Image Courtesy Click here

Ok !so now, let me try to put down here the recipe in a simple and easy peasy manner.

Preparation time : Approx 45 minutes Serves :4

Ingredients :

  1. Semolina /Rava/Suji – I use fine rava as it is what I find is best for this recipe. approximately 2 small watis or ramekins.
  2. Ghee – plenty !
  3. Raisins – a handful
  4. Badam/Almonds – again a handful
  5. Saffron/Kesar/Zafran – a small pinch just to add colour and pomp !
  6. Cashewneuts/Kaju/Kajoo – if you like them ,not necessary) – a generous handful without the peel and unsalted .
  7. Milk about 200 ml
  8. One ripe Banana
  9. Elaichi/ Green Cardamom – about 6-8 – open them and crush the brown seeds to make a powder using a mortar pestle and we will also use the green outer cover to add a distinctive aroma to the recipe :),sounds so romantic doesn’t it ( err well …)
  10. Sugar – I use granulated white sugar ,take 2 – 2.5 measures of a small bowl ,actually the proportion is always 2:1 for the Semolina : Sugar for this dish so choose the quantity accordingly.

Method :

  • Boil some water and add into a small bowl, add the almonds , this will make it easy to peel off the skin. Soak some raisins in luke warm water so that they absorb water and can be dunked into the semolina at a later stage.

  • Add the Saffron strands ever so carefully to a small bowl of water so as to  allow the beautiful golden orange colour to disperse into the water .

  • Take 2 bowl fulls of Semolina and add to a pan and constantly stir it until it turns a light brown colour , if you do not keep stirring or put the pan on a very high flame it might burn and we don’t want that do we? Also, I use a rather heavy bottom pan  to ensure that the heat spreads evenly and that the Semolina browns well .

  • This is how it looks before we brown it :

  • This is how it will look after stirring for a while :

  • This is how it will look when it is done and ready for the next stage ,i.e to be added to the ghee :

  • Remove the pan from the flame and keep the Semolina aside .Now take 2-4 large tablespoons of ghee (Clarified Butter) in a vessel and warm it on a low flame, be very carefull when frying with ghee as GHEE heats up very fast and anything unattended inside the hot ghee can char easily. When the ghee is warming up add the cashew nuts first and wait for them to start browning, then add the remaining raisins – not the ones which are kept soaking in water ! The strong aroma of the warm Semolina , the beautiful smell of desi ghee and the in-your-face tasty aroma of the fried cashews will assault your senses in the most pleasant way and fill up your kitchen with an almost auspicious atmosphere, it’s when this happens that one truly feels festive from within and it is also at such moments I have massive nostalgia attacks and realise how deeply coded our childhood memories are and  how much a part of our memories are made up of familiar sights and sounds. I oftentimes find life in the western world paler, less colourful and too quite compared to the pomp , blast of colours and festivity that make up India …sighhhh !

  • The cashew nuts and raisins turn a golden hue as seen in the picture above and the raisins puff up quite a bit due to the heat of the ghee,be careful not to overdo the raisins as they are akin to tiny missiles filled with boiling hot oil and if they burst , you can get serious burns …booooo! The kitchen is quite a dangerous place for the uninitiated isn’t it ?!
  • Ok, while the cashew nuts are being processed , take a small vessel and add the 200 to 250 ml milk on a low flame, add the sugar and dissolve, stirring till it completely dissolves, do not allow the milk to boil but reduce it on a low flame, add the crushed green cardamom powder and the outer green cover. Add some of the saffron and the water in which it was soaked as well, keep some for adding into the mixture later. When this mixture is on the flame , it gives out an unmistakable aroma of sweet sugary milk and I can almost feel my teeth sink into the soft sheera and mentally I am biting into the fried cashews and the yummee soft Banana bits that play hide and seek with my tongue as I devour the sheera – AAHHH , anyway , don’t allow that to happen as it is considered wrong to savor the ”Prasad” before the Almighty is offered some for ”bhog” or in simple words god has been offered the sweet dish and it is assumed that he has symbolically consumed our offering and blessed us with all that we wish and desire for 🙂

  • When the cashew nuts and the raisins have been fried, add the semolina slowly in the hot ghee mixture , stirring continuously to prevent any lumps from forming and also to ensure that the semolina soaks up the ghee properly .

  • Once all  the Semolina is mixed well into the ghee and fried dry fruit mix it will look like the picture above , then add the remaining  saffron and water in which it was soaked to the mixture.

  • Then add the roughly mashed banana pieces into the semolina mixture.

  • When the sugar has completely dissolved and the milk has reduced a little , it is ready to be added to the semolina mixture. Add it stirring slowly , it will look like the picture below immediately after adding the milk and sugar into it.

  • Stir a bit more and here is what it will look like now :

  • For the smallest possible time , cover the mixture above on the lowest possible flame , it is then ready to be served, now add the almonds to season over the top , peel off the skin , thanks to the warm water they will come off very easily and then just halve the almonds or if you want to be very artistic and have some time cut the almonds into longish thin strips ,anyway which they add a definite crunch to the sweet dish and I love that ,you dish will now look like this :

  • Take some of this beautiful dish and serve into a small bowl to offer to the Ganpati Bappa – who has been made to shine and sparkle for the day and place it in front of him , hands folded ask for his blessings and wait for sometime till you are convinced he’s had some of the offering or ”Prasad”.

Aaah , now just look at the cute Bappa 🙂

HAPPY EATING ALL YE READERS who attempt to make it , do let me know any feedback 🙂 all good of course 😉