Thursday, November 29, 2018

Chicken Manchurian - quintessential dish that features in every Indian restaurant that serves "Indo-Chinese" cuisine. I do not remember any visit to a  (Indian) Chinese restaurant that did not have A "manchurian" in the order. It could be Gobi (Cauliflower) or Paneer or most often as the case is - Chicken. It usually comes in 2 variations either as "Dry" which is served as an appetizer (entree/starter) or "Gravy" which is usually served as an accompaniment to fried rice or noodles. So here is the gravy version. If you would like the dry version just follow the notes below (step #7).

Ingredients

  1. Chicken breast fillet - 500 gms
  2. Minced garlic - 2 table spoons
  3. Minced red onions - 1 large onion
  4. Corn flour - 3 table spoons for batter and 1.5 table spoons for sauce
  5. Plain flour (Maida) - 1/2 cup
  6. Red chilli powder - 1 tea spoon
  7. Eggs - 2
  8. Soya Sauce - 2 table spoons
  9. Vinegar - 1 table spoon
  10. Sugar - 1 tea spoon
  11. Spring onions - 1/2 cup for garnish
Method
  1. Thinly slice the chicken breast fillets. Make sure you don't cut them into cubes.
  2. In a deep bowl mix the chicken with eggs, corn flour, plain flour, chilli powder and salt (about a tea spoon). Do not add any water. You should just have a thin coating of the batter on top of the chicken.
  3. In a large wok heat about 2 cups of vegetable oil (or enough to deep fry).
  4. Deep fry the chicken pieces in a few batches. It should take about 30 seconds to a minute for each batch. This is where the thinly sliced chicken pieces come in handy.
  5. Transfer the excess oil into a separate bowl and use the same wok with a few table spoons of oil left.
  6. Saute the garlic and onion until the onion turns slightly brown.
  7.  Add vinegar and soya sauce mix it up well. (If you want the dry version avoid step #8 and add about 1 table spoon of corn flour slurry for the smooth texture).
  8. Pour about 2 cups of water (or more if you need more sauce) and bring it to boil.
  9. Mix the 1.5 table spoons of corn flour in half a cup of water and bring it to boil until the sauce thickens. (Adjust the water or corn flour slurry to desired thickness of sauce)
  10. Mix the deep fried chicken pieces and mix it up for about a minute.
  11. Serve hot with diced up spring onions as garnish. As mentioned above a good combination with noodles or fried rice.


Happy Cooking !!

C

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Can't believe it's been more than a month since my previous post. Time does zoom by (an easy excuse eh!!).  Bread pudding - something I've had very rarely as a child but the taste just stuck to me somewhere deep in the middle of irrelevant memories. I've had some opportunities to eat it again during my trips to Manila. As they say everything has it's own time - and it took a while for me to create one at home. It's such a fairly simple recipe that doesn't involve too many ingredients or complex steps. Caramel sauce - something that I've had as topping for ice creams - but a good topping for a pudding. This again is very simple and quick to do.

Ingredients

Pudding
  1. Any type of thick bread diced up - preferably not the sliced ones - 250 gms
  2. Eggs - 12  (you will need 6 whole eggs and 6 egg yolks)
  3. Warm Milk - 1 cup
  4. Vanilla essence - 2 tea spoons
  5. Sugar - 1 cup
  6. Sultanas/Raisins - 1/2 cup
  7. Dried Cranberries - 1/2 cup (optional)
  8. Slivered almonds - 1 cup
  9. Butter for lining the tray


Caramel Sauce
  1. Brown sugar - 1 cup
  2. Butter - 150 gms
  3. Cream - 250 ml
  4. Vanilla essence - 1 tea spoon
The Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 150 deg Celsius.
  2. Dice up the bread in large cubes (about 2 inches).
  3. Take a large baking tray either metal or glass (I used glass) and line the inner surface with a stick of butter.
  4. Beat the eggs and sugar to a smooth paste (custard).
  5. Add the warm milk slowly while continue whisking the custard to ensure the eggs dont cook and curdle.
  6. Place the bread pieces in the tray nicely packed until the whole area is covered.
  7. Sprinkle half of the sultanas / raisins, cranberries and the almonds roughly across the bread and pour half of the custard until the bread pieces are soaked.
  8. Place the remaining bread, sprinkle the sultanas, cranberries and almonds a
    nd pour the remaining custard on top.
  9. Squish the bread down and ensure all of the bread is well soaked in the custard. (If you felt the custard was not enough - you could cheat a bit with adding a bit more milk).
  10. Place it in the oven in a water bath and let it bake for about 40 minutes (Have an eye on it after 20-30 minutes to ensure they don't burn out.)
  11. While the pudding is being baked you can now start with the caramel sauce. Take a deep sauce pan and mix the sugar, butter and cream  on medium heat and continue whisking to create a smooth consistency.
  12. Continue cooking the sauce and stirring occasionally for about 7-8 minutes until it thickens to your desired consistency. 
  13. The pudding is ready when you can test it by inserting a knife or a tooth pick and it comes out dry.
  14. Scoop it up and serve with a warm drizzle of the caramel sauce.
Note: The caramel sauce can be stored in the fridge for a week or 2. You will need to warm it up every time since it thickens up easily.


Enjoy!!

Happy Cooking !!

C

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Pad Kee Mao - Thai Chilli Basil Noodles aka Drunken Noodles

Pad Kee Mao also known as Chilli Basil Noodles and also known as Drunken Noodles is a huge family favourite for us. I don't remember the first restaurant where I started relishing it - but has been on our orders during pretty much every visit to a Thai restaurant. No - there is no alcohol involved in the "drunken" noodle. The legend goes that some drunkard stumbled across this dish by accident and became very popular later on. Of course definitely a great dish that could go very well with a nice cold beer. The best part of this dish is the aroma. This was the first recipe when I came to know that basil - thulasi (or tulsi) can be used in cooking. In fact you need what they call as Thai Basil or Holy Basil. Do not try this with the Italian basil - it's not going to be the same. Properly done (as in good restaurants) they add a lot of aromatic ingredients like the thai green pepper corn, thinly shredded galanga etc. It's a pity we don't get these ingredients (good quality) except from Thai Town in the city. Vegetarians - you can try making this with just the veggie ingredients but it's never going to be the same.

Ingredients
  1. Flat noodles - the fresh variety from an asian store - 500 gms
  2. Thai Holy Basil - you will need about a cup since you will need this during different stages of cooking.
  3. Minced garlic - 1 table spoon
  4. Thai Bird's Eye Red Chilli - 8 - 10
  5. Red onions
  6. Veggies - Sliced carrots, capsicum, cabbage
  7. Aromatics (optional) - green pepper corn, thinly sliced/shredded galanga
  8. Meat - you can add sliced chicken, prawn or any thinly sliced choice of meat 
  9. Fish sauce - 1 table spoon (got to be careful with this one)
  10. Sugar - 1 tea spoon
  11. Eggs - 4 (beaten)
  12. Kecap Manis (Sweet Soya sauce) - 1 table spoon
  13. Dark Soya sauce - 3-4 table spoons
  14. Oyster sauce (optional) - 1 table spoon
  15. Any vegetable oil - 3-4 table spoons
Method
  1. In a large wok heat a few table spoons of oil and add 1/3 or the basil leaves.
  2. Add the beaten egg and scramble well for about a minute
  3. Add the garlic, chillies, aromatics if any and onions and saute for a minute.
  4. Add meat if any and saute for a few minutes until cooked.
  5. Add the veggies and saute for a minute along with fish sauce, sugar, kecap manis and oyster sauce.
  6. Add the noodles and saute along with the dark soya sauce.
  7. Add some more basil leaves and toss it around for about a minute.
  8. In a separate vessel heat some oil and fry some basil leaves for garnish.

Happy Cooking!!

C

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Indo Chinese Spring Roll

Spring Rolls - this dish takes me back about 3 decades ago when I had tasted it for the first time at "China Town" restaurant in Salem. Since then it was always one of my favourite starters to order whenever we went to a Chinese restaurant in India. Some of my family may still remember the short "stint" I did at the kitchens in Savera Hotel, Chennai in 1993 - right after high school. That is where I learnt how to make a spring roll which I replicated a few times in few of my relatives houses. I couldn't cook this dish at home since eggs were still not allowed in the kitchen then. Fast forward a few years I had the opportunity to try spring rolls in USA. It was never the same - it was bit more crispier, but the fillings were bland. For whatever reason I stayed away from this dish for decades - until recently it popped up in my memory urging me to try this again. I couldn't quite remember the ratios of certain ingredients and fumbled a bit initially but got it right the 2nd time around. So let's get going with this yummy appetizer / entree (depending on which side of the globe you are).

What goes in

Wrapper
  1. Maida / Plain flour - 2 cups
  2. Corn flour - 3 cups (note the ratio between Maida to Corn flour should be 2:3)
  3. Eggs - 2
  4. Baking soda - 1 tea spoon
  5. Salt - 1 tea spoon
  6. Water - 4-5 cups (enough to create a runny batter)
Filling
  1. Carrot  - 2 or 3
  2. Cabbage - 250 gms
  3. Capsicum / Bell Peppers - 1 or 2
  4. Red Onion - 1
  5. Garlic - 3 or 4 cloves
  6. Salt
  7. Black Pepper powder
  8. Vinegar - 1 table spoon
Feel free to add any eggs or thinly sliced chicken should you chose to add any protein to the filling.

The Method


Wrapper
  1. Mix all the ingredients of the wrapper in a large bowl and create a runny batter.
  2. Heat a large wok - preferably non-stick wok.
  3. Pour about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter on to the wok and keep swirling it around until the batter creates an even thin skin around the wok.
  4. In about 20 seconds you should slowly blow around the edges and the wrapper / skin should separate out of the wok. Use your fingers to slowly remove the wrapper out of the wok. You should not be using any spatula / utensil for this.
  5. Store the wrappers on a plate dusting it with corn flour between the wrappers.

Filling


  1. Thinly slice / shred the vegetables 
  2. In the same wok heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and saute the minced garlic with the vinegar.
  3. If you are adding chicken or egg, now would be a good time to add and saute until cooked well.
  4. Add the vegetables and saute for a few minutes with salt and pepper to taste.
Spring Roll

  1. Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in one end of the wrapper and slowly roll it into a cylindrical roll. After 2 or 3 rolls fold the sides and roll it up so that none of the filling is exposed.
  2. Use egg wash or corn flour slurry to glue the last bits of the wrapper so that it sticks to the roll firmly.
  3. In a large wok fill enough vegetable oil to be able to deep fry the spring rolls.
  4. Once the oil is hot enough deep fry the rolls until golden brown.
  5. Chop them up diagonally or just as cylinders and serve hot with tomato or sweet chilli sauce.
  6. You should have a crisp outer layer with some soft and crunchy layers of filling inside.

Happy Cooking!!

C

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Sutta Kathirikaai Kootu aka Smoked Eggplant Stew

Sutta Kathirikaai Kootu which can also be called as Smoked Eggplant Stew (translating verbatim) was inspired by Chef Vijayan's Kaatu Kootu - roughly translated to rustic stew. This is apparently meant to be a minimalistic stew cooked by people working in forests. This can also be called a very close cousin to Baingan Bartha except for a few ingredients used and a slight twist to the taste compared to a traditional bartha. While it was not a huge hit with the kids (which kids like egg plants) my home minister did appreciate it. This goes well with either rice or chappati. Here it comes...


What goes in...


  1. Eggplant / Brinjal the big ones - 2
  2. Tomatoes - 2
  3. Red onions (diced) - 1
  4. Tamarind - 1 small lemon size
  5. Red chillies - 4 or 5
  6. Cumin seeds - 1 table spoon
  7. Khus Khus (Poppy seeds) - 1 tea spoon
  8. Curry leaves - 2 sticks
  9. Mustard seeds - 1 tea spoon
  10. Jaggery  (powdered) - 1 tablespoon
  11. Vegetable oil
The way it's made..

  1. Dry roast the dry ingredients (#5 - 7) and set it aside to cool.
  2. Soak the tamarind in warm water.
  3. Dab the egg plants with vegetable oil and pierce them around with a knife.
  4. Smoke the egg plants one by one until the skin burns and shrinks and the flesh becomes squishy. It takes about 10 minutes for each egg plant.
  5. Smoke the tomatoes until the skin burns.
  6. Set aside the egg plant and tomatoes to cool for a few minutes.
  7. Peel the skins of the egg plant and tomatoes and chop them up roughly.
  8. Grind the dry roasted ingredients to a rough powder.
  9. Take a large kadai and heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  10. Temper the oil with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  11. Add the diced onions and saute until they turn translucent.
  12. Add the chopped up eggplants and tomato.
  13. Add the dry masala with salt to taste. (Watch out for the masala since it could turn out very spicy).
  14. Saute the mixture for a few minutes and add the tamarind water from the soaked tamarind.
  15. Add the jaggery powder and stir well.
  16. Bring the mixture to a boil with a bit of water added to desired consistency.
  17. Let this stew boil for about 5 - 10 minutes and Kootu is ready.
Serve hot with steamed rice or chappati.


Enjoy Cooking !!

C

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Curry Fried Rice


Curry Fried Rice - when I shared the image on FB it triggered a lot of memories from my friends in Portland (Oregon). That's exactly what food can do and will do. My first introduction to this dish was at Eagle Thai in Portland. We had this ritual of having Thai for lunch for almost every Friday that Fridays became Thaiday. This Curry Fried rice was usually part of my 2nd serving shared with a good mate Satheesh. South Indian curry flavours have definitely influenced Thai food. Now I wonder if I should call it a Thai inspired pulao or Indian inspired Thai Fried Rice. Oh well...really doesn't matter. Now this dish is a great example for best of both worlds. Over the years I've eaten this in various names and different mixers such as crab meat, pineapple etc. Go for it - create your own version. So without much further ado...


Ingredients

  1. Steamed Rice - I used Basmati rice but preferably Jasmine rice - 1 cup per serving
  2. Beaten Eggs - 1 per serving
  3. Diced mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn) - 1/2 cup per serving
  4. Minced garlic about 1 tea spoon per serving
  5. Diced red onions - a handful per serving
  6. Curry Powder - Now you can buy ready made curry powder like Ayam's Curry powder or you can make your own by mixing turmeric powder with garam masala (which is what I did). You can use a ratio of 1:2. Turmeric is really important to bring out the colour and the flavour.
  7. Seasme oil - 1 tablespoon to season the wok
  8. Soya sauce - preferably light - 1 table spoon per serving
  9. Vegetable oil - 2 tablespoons per serving
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Chilli powder  - to taste

The Method

  1. Heat a large wok until it starts smoking.
  2. Pour the seasme oil and swirl around to give the wok a nice coating.
  3. Pour the vegetable oil and let it heat up.
  4. Pour the beaten eggs and scramble it up.
  5. Add the garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes (if you want to add any type of meat - now would be a good time to do so and saute until cooked well)
  6. Add the vegetables and the curry powder, chilli powder and salt and saute for a few minutes
  7. Add the soya sauce and saute until mixed well.
  8. Add the rice and sprinkle a few table spoons of water over the rice
  9. Toss it up well until the rice and the veggies get mixed up well.
Serve hot with a few slices of cucumber to balance your palate. 


Happy Cooking !!

C

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Paneer Makhani aka Paneer Butter Masala

Paneer Makhani or Paneer Butter Masala is one of those dishes that would feature in every Indian restaurant that serves North Indian food. A paneer masala that could usually be used to trial an Indian restaurant's food quality. It is again one of those dishes that got twisted quite drastically to suit local palates. I must warn you - this version of the recipe is definitely not the westernized version. While researching for a recipe I found so many different variations each one trying to create a subtle difference to establish their style. Here is my version which is a blend of a few of them but a simpler version to prepare.

Ingredients

Wet Masala
  1. Red onions - 2 
  2. Tomatoes - 2 
  3. Ginger - 2 inch
  4. Garlic - 6 cloves
  5. Raw Cashews - 6-8
  6. Green chilies - 3
Dry Masala
  1. Bay leaf - 1
  2. Black pepper corn - 1 tablespoon
  3. Kashmiri red chillies - 5-6
  4. Kalonji seeds - 1 teaspoon
  5. Kasuri methi (Dried fenugreek leaves) - 1 tablespoon
  6. Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
  7. Cloves - 1 teaspoon
  8. Cinnamon sticks - 2-3
  9. Khus khus (poppy seeds) - 2 teaspoons

Other Ingredients
  1. Paneer - 250 gms
  2. Butter - 150 gms
  3. Vegetable oil - 3-4 table spoons
  4. Whole milk - half a cup
  5. Honey - 2 table spoons
  6. Amchur powder (dried mango powder) - 1 tea spoon
  7. Cream - 2-3 table spoons (optional - I did not use it actually)
Method

  1. Melt about 50 gms of butter in a wok and saute the wet masala ingredients until the onions and tomatoes become soft. Add the cashews towards the end - just about a minute or so before the tomatoes turn mushy. Set this aside and let it cool down to room temperature.
  2. Dry roast all the ingredients under the dry masala (except the kasuri methi). Set it aside to cool down to room temperature.
  3. Blend the ingredients of the wet masala with a few tablespoons of water to a smooth paste. 
  4. Filter this paste using a metal sieve to remove any chunky pieces.
  5. Blend the ingredients of the dry masala along with the kasuri methi leaves.
  6. Cut the paneer into small pieces (about 1 inch cubes). This time I tried a triangular shape - thanks to Sanjeev Kapoor's idea.
  7. In a large kadai (wok) heat the vegetable oil and 75 gms of butter.
  8. Saute the wet masala for about 10 minutes until the oil separates.
  9. Mix about 2-3 table spoons of the dry masala along with amchur powder for about 5 minutes until the masala is blended well.
  10. Add salt to taste.
  11. Add the milk and bring it to a boil.
  12. Add about half a cup of water to this mixture and bring it to a boil.
  13. Add the honey and mix it well.
  14. Add the paneer pieces and cook it for about 5 minutes. (Add more water if needed if the curry is too thick).
  15. Garnish with a dollop of the remaining butter and coriander leaves.
  16. Serve hot with your preferred choice of bread - roti/naan/chapati.


Enjoy Cooking!!
C