Apr 17, 2014

Easy Pistachio Kulfi / Indian Pistachio Ice cream

          
 
  Temperature is climbing up steadily and it's almost summer here. It's not that easy to sit on  a park bench watching kids play while the sun is up, though the kids never seem to notice. After sitting there for half an hour in the afternoons, I  somehow crave for the shade of a tree or the coolness of our flat. Maybe, I am growing old ;)

                 Watching the kids, I slowly get carried away into the unlimited exuberance of my own childhood. I was a 'play crazy girl'. That's what my mom used to say. So crazy about it, that I hardly had time for food or sleep.. or to sit in the shade for a while as the elders used to command. So obsessed with it, that the thought of the school reopening after the summer vacation, used to reduce me into tears. In the tired sleeps, I used to dream that my school had collapsed in an earth quake and my teachers were all under the earth. Yes! It was one of the happiest dreams of those days!


               So, when I watch my kids playing in the sun as if there is no tomorrow, I don't feel like stopping them. I enjoy watching them enjoying..And after the games, they return literally exhausted. No wonder, the ice cream man in the park has so much business. These days, no visit to the park ends without an ice lolly for each of the boys. They simply love them and think it their right to have one after play time. Even at home, they ask for ice lollies and ice creams now n then, ever since the temperature began climbing up. So I have made it  a habit  of making those cold treats at home every now n then.


             This time I thought, I must make 'kulfi' the Indian ice cream which sweetly cools the inside with memories of childhood. Yes, kulfi was an integral part of those memories; though we were seldom allowed to buy them as other children in our village used to do. The elders used to terrorize us with stories of how it's made with contaminated water and how it causes diarrhoea and sickness. Nevertheless, we kids always longed for the day when we would get those simply alluring kulfis and looked at the kulfi carts with longing.To compensate the hurt of not buying us kulfis, mom used to make ice lollies for us by freezing orange squash in the ice tray with small 'irkilis'(needle like parts of coconut leaves) immersed in it. We enjoyed it then more than the 'Baskin n Robbins'  of this time.

          Ahem!! So where did we stop? I just got carried away..
        Oh! Yes! Kulfi....the home made Indian ice cream to welcome the summer.
                 Pistachio kulfi is my favourite..
            Let's delve into the recipe right away...

Things you need:

500ml full cream milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup milk powder
3/4 cup sugar/to taste
2 tbsp corn flour/corn starch
1 tsp powdered cardamom
2 tbsp pistachio extract
1/4 cup pistachios, coarsely ground

Method:

Heat milk and sugar in a large sauce pan, stirring continuously until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and add condensed milk and milk powder stirring constantly,until the mixture is well blended. Dissolve corn flour in 1/4 cup of cold milk and add it slowly into the mixture, stirring well until the mixture slightly thickens. Remove from heat and add cardamom powder, pistachio extract and half of the ground pistachios. Stir well and let cool to room temperature. Transfer into individual glasses or kulfi moulds. Keep in the freezer to set for 3 hours. When it starts to solidify, take out and stir well . Again keep into the freezer and let set for 6 to 8 hours. Unmould into a plate or pudding bowl and garnish with the  remaining pistachios before serving. Enjoy!
 

Apr 14, 2014

P.F. Chang's Dynamite Shrimp (Copy cat Recipe)

 

 
                   Whenever we have a dish from the restaurant which we all loved, and long to have again, I try to find its recipe from the web and try to perfect it with my own trials and errors. That way, you could have it anytime, whenever you crave for it, without having to spend a fortune on it. So copycat recipes are always in demand and they tend to be on the much explored list.



                  P.F. Chang's China Bistro is a popular American Chinese restaurant chain which has its branches in other countries too. Though I like Indo Chinese dishes more than American Chinese,one of the dishes we really liked from P.F.Chang's in Kuwait, is the delicious appetiser, 'Dynamite Shrimp'. But it actually costs around 150 dollars to have half a dozen of shrimp coated in that delicious, creamy, tangy and zesty sauce from the restaurant. It is better to make it at home, if you can help it.


                    That set me in search for a perfect recipe, but most of the recipes I tried from the web, turned out to be too sour or too bland.So I set forth to do experiments of my own with various ingredients and I found out a recipe which was quite similar to the original one.
   Let me share it here...
Am still working on perfecting the recipe. If I come up with a more exact one I shall upload it InshaAllah.. :) Till then, Enjoy cooking!


P.F Chang's Dynamite Shrimp Copy cat Recipe:

15 to 20 large shrimps,peeled and deveined
Veg.oil for frying

For batter:
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg
4 tbsp corn flour

For the sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
5 tbsp hot sauce
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1/4 tsp paprika/chilli pdr
1 tsp light honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar

Spring onion, sliced (for garnishing),optional

Method:

          Drain the shrimps and mix it well with the batter ingredients. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the shrimps on medium heat for 30 seconds (shrimps must be completely immersed in the oil). Remove from oil immediately and drain on a kitchen tissue.
           Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together until well blended. Transfer it into a pudding bowl or cocktail glass. Toss the fried shrimps into it and mix with a spoon. Serve garnished with spring onions.Enjoy!

Apr 9, 2014

Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze


   
              Kids can be really fussy when they are hungry. And they decline to eat whatever we offer during such tantrums. They prefer something sweet and junk. Most of the time we cannot give in to their persistence and the situation need to be tackled with diplomacy. But there are times when you have to do some misgivings, if you really like to have a calm atmosphere in the home.

             Nowadays whenever my elder one gets such hunger pangs in the evenings, all he prefer is cakes,cup cakes and nothing else. He is so much fond of cakes; big or small, iced or not, that I find myself baking cakes every now n then. As it is much easier to bake and serve cup cakes that most of the time cup cakes is that which blooms in my oven. But they get finished off too quickly that you hardly get anything left to store for future use.

            In fact, the Zucchini cup cakes I baked last week got polished off pretty fast that I thought it would be wise to bake a large cake so that  the boys would have enough for three to four days. This time I tried a cake of very different flavour.. Lemon Cake! Tangy, sweet and impressive.. it was devoured by the whole family. I iced it with lemon glaze, which complimented well with the cakes flavour; though the son didn't much like it due to its tanginess. But he loved the cake nevertheless and ate it scraping off the glaze. The cake was a little tart on the first day, but the next day it tasted  perfect. The tanginess had thankfully subsided and the cake was soft and flavourful.


Lemon Cake Recipe:
(Recipe Adapted from Joy of Baking)
For the Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup powdered white sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking pdr
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of one large lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
(Note: If you like the cake less tangy, replace lemon  juice with equal amount of milk)

For Frosting:

1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
2-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Method:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree F (180 degree C) and place rack in the centre of the oven. Butter a 9*2 inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • Beat butter and sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed until pale coloured. Beat in vanilla extract.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a separate bowl.
  • Add the flour mixture into the wet mixture (in three additions) alternating with lemon juice (2 additions) and fold in until well combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or with an offset spatula.
  • Bake at 180 degree C for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with little crumbs.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge of the cake and transfer to a  wire wrack to cool completely.
Lemon Glaze:
     Add two tablespoon of lemon juice into confectioner's sugar in a bowl. Add more lemon juice or sugar as needed. Stir well with a spoon until you have a smooth glaze.

          Pour the glaze over the cooled cake allowing to drip down the sides. Let it dry before covering or storing the cake.

Apr 7, 2014

Indo Chinese American Chopsey

                  
               American Chopsey is a dish of crispy fried noodles mixed with a tangy sauce of  vegetables and meat, served topped with a fried egg.This is one of the Indo-Chinese dishes I have always been in love with right from my childhood. The fondness towards it remains the same even after all these years. I was so obsessed with it that whenever we visited Chinese restaurants, it was almost always ordered, inevitably. But Chinese dishes never taste that good here in the middle east, as it used to in India. Till date we have tried more than a dozen Chinese restaurants here, but none has rose to our expectations. And it is queit frustrating to think that we need to go back to India to have those delicious Indo Chinese dishes to our fill.


                  So nowadays, whenever I get a craving for some American chopsey, I run to my kitchen to toss up everything quickly and make a super fast Indo Chinese lunch in  no time. When I began to try recipes at home, it was one of the dishes I first began experimenting with; and it turned out to be quite easy to make like most of the Indo Chinese dishes. The kids too love it.

                   One thing to keep in mind while making Chopsey is to use egg noodles instead of plain spaghetti  unlike in Chowmein. Egg noodles give a nice crunchy texture when fried and imparts a rich taste. You can use instant noodles of any brands like Maggi, Indomie etc too. If you are planning to make American Chopsey for your guests; it's better to fry the noodles in advance and store in an air tight container. That way you can conveniently save a bit of time.


                    Actually, the gravy of American Chopsey is red in colour with the addition of tomato ketchup to it. But I prefer to have it without ketchup and hence the pale colour of my sauce. If you like you can go ahead and make the gravy red.

Here is the recipe...

Indo Chinese American Chopsey Recipe:

Ingredients:
2 cups/2 packets egg noodles of any brand
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, sliced thinly
1/2 cup thinly sliced capsicum
2 tbsp, sliced spring onions
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped baby corns
2 chicken breasts, sliced to small pieces
1 egg
2 tsp black pepper powder
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil for frying.

For the gravy:
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp white vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp corn flour
2 cups water
Salt to taste
1/2 cup tomato ketchup(optional)

Method:
  •    Boil the noodles in adequate water for 1 minute or until the knots are untangled. Drain and pour two tablespoons of oil on top to prevent it from sticking. Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a wok and deep fry the noodles in it to form a crispy nest,until slightly golden in color. Remove from oil and drain on a kitchen tissue.
  • Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok and add sliced chicken breasts to it. Sprinkle with adequate salt and a little black pepper powder.Stir fry in medium heat until nicely cooked.Transfer to a bowl and keep aside.
  • In the same wok heat 2 tbsp of oil and saute garlic. Then  add onion and saute until translucent. Then add all the vegetables one by one in the order, carrots, baby corns, mushrooms, cabbages, spring onions  and capsicum and stir fry adding adequate salt and pepper powder, until well cooked.
  • Now add soy sauce, vinegar and sugar into the vegetables and saute on medium heat.Add the cooked chicken breasts to it. Mix corn flour in half a cup of water and pour into the vegetable mixture reducing the heat to low.Add remaining water and stir well until the gravy thickens, taking care not to form any lumps. Adjust salt and remove from heat.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a frying pan and fry the egg in it(bull's eye)
To serve:
       In a plate or a wide mouthed bowl, arrange fried noodles  like a bird's nest. Pour the vegetable-chicken gravy generously on top of it. Top with the fried egg and serve immediately.
(Vegetarians can make it excluding the chicken)
Enjoy!

Apr 1, 2014

Andipputtu- A traditional malabar cashewnut palaharam


                     Another episode of Sinusitis,and I was off from the blogosphere and everything I loved, to fight it with all my might. Alhamdulillah! Allah has cured me like always.. But during the course, I have learned a few tips to tackle it.
  One of the most effective things I found was drinking water; and plenty of it.It is more effective than any mucolyte available on earth! When the mucolytes and antibiotics didn't give any apparent comfort from the gnawing headache, I googled for what else to do. The answer was,'Drink plenty of water'.And I began filling myself with water like a water tank from dawn to dusk :)
  But it worked like wonder!
The headache began to subside slowly and I felt more at ease and energetic.
If you guys have any other tips to fight recurrent sinusitis, please let me know.. I'm all ears!!


              So what did I do when I had these attacks! I got involved in making some traditional goodies to take my mind away from the hurting head. Andipputtu is a 'palaharam' which I grew up with right from my early childhood. Those days, when it was vacation time in the summer, we kids used to go picking the cashew nuts from the trees in our ancestral orchard. We would have our fill of munching the sweet and tart cashew fruits and after that collect the cashew nuts from under the ripe fruits. We used to bring them to our granny, who after drying them in shade for a few days would eventually roast them in the firewood oven. I still remember that sweet aroma which wafts up into the air while the cashew nuts are being roasted. And we kids used to look in awe keeping a distance from the mud oven as the cashew nuts make cracking sounds from inside and a few would come flying out as it burst.


      After they get fully roasted, granny would call us to help her crack open the shells of the cashews. We would take some rounded stones and start smashing the shells with them and pick the nuts carefully from inside the cracked shells. Many of the nuts collected thus would go into our tummys there and then because they were so irresistible. The leftover nuts would be used for making 'andipputtu' which was a masterpiece in itself.
               Granny  and her helpers used to grind them with roasted rice grains, 'sharkkara' and grated coconut in an 'ural' which was the food processor of that time. I'm sure, our kids would never know what it is, if they saw one in any of the old 'tharavadus'.


             Nowadays everything is made easy with our gadgets. Not to mention the food processor. I wonder how those old ladies had so much time to do all these from scratch while we have scarcely any free time even with all our sophisticated gadgets! It was my mom who showed me how to make 'andipputtu' in a mixer grinder / food processor. It is quite easy.

            To get that authentic taste of home roasted cashews, dry roast the nuts in a cast iron wok, till they turn slightly brown and aromatic, stirring constantly on medium heat.
      Here is how you make it....

Andipputtu Recipe:

1/2 kg  cashew nuts/peanuts
1 cup parboiled rice/matta rice
2 to 3 cups freshly grated coconut
350 g light brown jaggery/according to taste

Method:
  • Dry roast the nuts in a cast iron wok on medium heat, stirring constantly to ensure even roasting. Remove from heat when slightly brown and aroma comes  out. Spread on to a wide tray to cool completely.
  • Melt jaggery with 1/2 a cup of water and strain it into a bowl to cool. You can increase or decrease the amount of jaggery according to how sweet you want the 'puttus'.
  • Wash the rice properly and drain. Roast it in a wok stirring from time to time on medium heat until all the rice is slightly brown and puffed up (about 20 min). Remove from heat and spread on a wide tray to cool completely.
  • Pulse the cashew nuts and roasted rice grains together in a food processor or mixer-grinder, until fine powder.(It is better to pulse the roasted rice first until very fine powder and then add nuts and pulse again) Transfer to a big bowl and add grated coconut.Mix well. Pulse the mixture again in the food processor for  a few seconds until everything is blended well..Transfer to the bowl again.
  • Add cooled melted jaggery little by little into the mixture and mix with a fork until you can roll it to balls.
  • Roll the dough into small balls of the size of lemon using both palms.Store in air tight containers. Keep well up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

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