Monday, March 22, 2021

Salem Thattuvadai Set

 

There are so many triggers for nostalgia and to me food definitely comes up in the top few. There was this street snack I used to enjoy as a high school kid usually after a tuition class or a weekend trip to the "shopping complex".  The Salem famous Thattuvadai Set. This such a simple yet tasty and healthy thattai sandwich. A thattuvadai or thattai is a thin crispy  deep fried snack made with rice flour and urad flour. This is also known as nippattu or chekkalu in neighbouring states. This healthy sandwich involves 2 chutneys (red and green) and a some crispy vegetables. I was never a big fan of beetroot and that too raw....no way. However just in this one instance even raw beetroot tastes great. This was one snack which I haven't tried (does 30 years count as long?) a long time. Fast forward to last week I found these yummy crispy thattais made by one of my friends here. So without further ado here comes the recipe.


Ingredients

Red Chutney

  1. Dried Kashmiri chillies - 3 to 4 (for the colour)
  2. Dried red chillies - 2 to 3 (for the heat)
  3. Sliced Red onions - 1
  4. Garlic cloves - 4 to 5
  5. Tamarind (softened) - 1 teaspoon
  6. Tomato - 2
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Vegetable oil
Green Chutney
  1. Coriander leaves - 1 cup
  2. Mint leaves - 1/2 cup
  3. Green chillies - 8-10
  4. Grated coconut - 2 table spoons
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Ginger - 1 inch
Salad
  1. Carrot
  2. Beetroot
  3. Onion
  4. Green Apple (this was my twist - raw mango is used typically)
  5. Lemon
  6. Chopped Coriander leaves 
And of course a lot of thattais. Preferably the bite sized mini ones.

Method

Red Chutney
  1. Blend all the ingredients of the red chutney together to a smooth paste.
  2. In a wide sauce pan heat 2 to 3 table spoons of vegetable oil and saute the paste for a few minutes until oil separates.
Green Chutney
  1. Blend all the ingredients of the green chutney. (Yup nothing more just blend).
Salad
  1. Slice the onion into thin slices.
  2. Slice the remaining vegetables in equal amounts.
  3. Mix them up in a bowl.
The Set
  1. Take a thattai and smear it with the green chutney. Repeat as many as needed.
  2. Place the salad on the thattais and sprinkle lemon juice over along with chopped coriander leaves.
  3. Take thattais and smear it with the red chutney and place on top of the salad.
Best served on a piece of newspaper to get the authentic feel and consumed as quickly as possible.

Enjoy!!
C

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Hot and Sour Chicken Soup


Here's one of my favourite spicy and tangy Indo-Chinese soups that can warm up your body and mind. As in any soup the broth is what that makes or breaks it. While I've tried a different home made and store bought broths - here's a version which worked out well for me.








Ingredients


Broth

  1. Chicken with skin and bones. I used about 6 large chicken drumsticks.
  2. Garlic - 1 bulb smashed
  3. Ginger - 100 gms - cut and smashed
  4. Spring onion twigs - a few bumches
  5. Black pepper - 1 table spoon
  6. Salt - 2 table spoons
Soup
  1. Chicken broth - 4 cups
  2. Carrot - diced - 2 table spoons
  3. Cabbage - diced 2 table spoons
  4. Green chilles - diced - 2 table spoons
  5. Vinegar - 1/2 cup
  6. Dark soy sauce - 2 table spoons
  7. Corn flour slurry - 1/3 cup
  8. Eggs - 2  egg yolks and 3 egg whites beaten
  9. Seasme oil - 1 table spoon
  10. Cooked Shredded chicken - 1/2 cup 
  11. Spring onions - diced - 2 table spoons
Method

Broth
  1. In a large sauce pan or vessel boil the chicken for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Drain the chicken and the water.
  3. Fill the same sauce pan with water, transfer the chicken, add the garlic, ginger, pepper and salt.
  4. Bring it to boil and then simmer it for about 30 minutes.'
  5. Take the chicken pieces out, let it cool and then remove the flesh out with hands or fork.
  6. Put the bones and skin back in the broth and let it simmer for another hour or so.
  7. Drain the broth out into a container.
Hot & Sour Soup

  1. In a sauce pan, saute the chillies, carrot and cabbage for about a minute in seasme oil and vinegar.
  2. Add the chicken broth and bring it to a boil.
  3. Once boiling add the corn flour slurry and bring it to boil.
  4. Add the soya sauce and mix well.
  5. Add the shredded chicken and mix well.
  6. Stir the soup mix well that the broth is rotating around.
  7. Add the beaten egg mix and twirl it around with a folk.
  8. Serve hot with a dash of spring onions as a garnish.

Enjoy!!

C







Thursday, February 11, 2021

Paneer Do Pyaza

Paneer do pyaza yet another dish that I picked up in Bangalore. Really dont remember how I landed up with this dish. Must have been bored with the typical paneer butter masala or paneer mutter masala in the restaurants and picked this weird Italian sounding dish. If you knew me well in those days I didn't understand what "pyaaz" meant. So here it is from our Persian cousins where Do Pyaza literally mean a curry with 2 types of onions. It's one of those versatile curry bases that you can prepare a multitude of do pyazas - chicken, okra (bhindi)... pretty much with any chunky piece of food. 


Ingredients

  1. Paneer - 250 - 300 gms
  2. Red Onions - 3 large ones
  3. Green chillies - 4-5
  4. Tomatoes - 2-3
  5. Ginger garlic paste - 2 table spoons
  6. Lemon juice - 1 table spoon
  7. Cumin seeds - 2 table spoons
  8. Green cardamom - 4-5
  9. Cinnamon sticks - 3-4 small ones
  10. Cloves - 5-6
  11. Bay leaves - 2
  12. Cumin powder - 1 tablespoon
  13. Coriander powder - 1 table spoon
  14. Garam masala - 1 table spoon
  15. Kasoori Methi - 1 table spoon (crushed)
  16. Turmeric powder - Half teaspoon
  17. Kashmiri chilli powder - 1 table spoon
  18. Vegetable oil - 4-5 table spoons
  19. Ghee - 2 table spoons
  20. Salt to taste
  21. Coriander leaves for garnish

Method

  1. Chop 2 onions into fine mince and 1 onion in cubes and set aside in different containers.
  2. Heat a large kadai and pour 1 tablespoon of ghee and 2 table spoons of vegetable oil.
  3. Sautee the cumin seeds (1 table spoon), green cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves and bay leaves until the fragrance comes out.
  4. Add the finely minced onions and saute with a pinch of salt until they turn brownish.
  5. While the onions are sauteed finely dice the tomatoes and set aside.
  6. When the onions are brown add the ginger garlic paste and saute for 2-3 minutes until the raw paste smell clears off.
  7. Add the diced tomatoes and saute for about 10 to 15 minutes along with turmeric powder, cumin powder, garam masala, kasoori methi and the kashmiri chilli powder. 
  8. While the masala gets sauteed dice up the paneer into bite sized cubes - but not too thin or small.
  9. Add about half a cup of water and simmer the masala adding salt to taste. By now it should result in a mushy masala gravy.
  10. Once the masala has reduced to your preferred consistency remove the cinnamon sticks, cloves and bay leaves and transfer the content to another bowl.
  11. In the same kadai pour the remaining ghee and vegetable oil and wait until it heats up.
  12. Once the oil is hot add the green chillies, 1 table spoon of cumin seeds and the diced onions and sautee for about a minute or so.
  13. Add the diced paneer and sautee for about 2 minutes until the ingredients mix well with the paneer.
  14. Pour the masala (done in step #10) over the paneer and sautee for a minute or so with but more water as per the consistency preferred.
  15. Switch off the heat and add the 2 table spoons of lemon juice and stir well. Be careful not to stir it too much else the paneer will break.
  16. Garnish with chopped coriander and voila restaurant style Paneer Dopyaza is done. Serve with warm roti/chappati.


Enjoy!!

C

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Banana Nut Bread


Banana Nut Bread introduced to me by the United States of America most probably in the form of a muffin and then as a slice of bread (or cake?). Many a times this has worked as breakfast accompanied with coffee. Not sure if there would be anybody who would not like it unless they have some sort of aversion to banana. So today was the day for me to experiment on banana bread - from scratch. After the one sided World Cup final - there was not enough reason to watch it - so why not bake.

Went through a few recipes on the internet - each having it's own slight variation. Eventually arrived upon a mix and match of options from here and there. Nothing like the power of convenience. :-) So here it comes...

Ingredients

1) Banana (Ripe) - (enough to make about a 1.5 cups of mashed banana)
2) Nuts (I used a mix a walnuts and pecans) - 1.5 cups
3) All purpose flour (Maida) - 1 & 3/4 cups
4) Butter - 150 gms (Melted and cooled)
5) Sugar - 1 cup
6) Vanilla Essence - 1 tea spoon
7) Baking soda - 1 tea spoon
8) Baking powder - 1 tea spoon
9) Eggs - 2
10) Cinnamon powder - 1 tea spoon


Method

1) Pre-heat oven to 150 Deg C
2) Chop the nuts roughly.
3) Mix sugar, butter and vanilla essence using an electric mixer for about 10 minutes.
4) Add the egg and beat the mix for a few minutes.
5) Add all the remaining dry ingredients and give it a good stir with the electric mixer and finally with a wooden spoon.
6) Transfer the contents to a baking pan covered with baking paper. Garnish with some nuts.
7) Bake it in the pre-heated oven for about 80 minutes

Note: Check about every 5 to 10 minute after the 50th minute with a toothpick. If it's not cooked well you could see the mix sticking to the toothpick.
8) Remove the dish from the oven and cool it for about 10 minutes.

Banana nut cake done.


Happy Baking!!

C





Banana Nut Bread







Sunday, July 5, 2020

Sweet Corn Chicken Soup


Sweet corn chicken soup - one of those soups that gives a meaning to "Chicken Soup for the Soul". It has all the goodness in it to bring your spirits up - especially on a gloomy cold night. After tomato soup this would have been one of my earliest memories of soup consumption - especially in a restaurant. There's something about the smell, the texture, the consistency and of course the flavour. So without much further ado - here's how to prepare sweet corn chicken soup - restaurant style - at home.




Ingredients

  1. Sweet corn - fresher the better. If not a frozen packet would do just fine. (2 cups)
  2. Chicken - Boneless - either thigh or breast pieces - thinly sliced or cubed
  3. Chicken stock - either store bought or stock made out of boiling chicken with bones for about an hour.
  4. Vinegar - 1 tablespoon
  5. Garlic - minced (1 tablespoon)
  6. Corn Flour - 50 gms
  7. Eggs - 2 (beaten)
  8. Milk - 1/2 cup
  9. Sesame oil - few tablespoons
  10. Spring onions (for garnish)
Method

  1. Take about 3/4th - 1 cup of the sweet corn and pulse it to create a rough / chunky mixture.
  2. In a large sauce pan or wok heat the sesame oil and saute the chicken and garlic for a few minutes. Saute until the pinkness is vanished in the chicken.
  3. Add the vinegar and give it quick toss.
  4. Add the sweet corn (whole and the chunky mixture) and saute for a few minutes.
  5. Add the chicken stock and milk and bring it to a boil.
  6. While the chicken stock is boiling, create a corn flour slurry by mixing water to the corn flour - about 1/4 cup.
  7. Once the stock has come to a boil add the corn flour slurry and let the soup thicken up for a few minutes. I like my soups thick - so if the consistency is not thick enough for you, prepare more corn flour slurry and add it to the soup.
  8. Once the soup is thick enough pour the beaten eggs in a circular fashion around the soup and stir it around in ONE direction with a fork. This should create the "egg flower" - which BTW is also another name for this soup in Chinese restaurants.
  9. Simmer the soup for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Serve hot with a garnish of spring onions.
Note: Some people like to have this with a bit of chilli vinegar mixed for a bit of a tangy and spicy flavour. If you would like it - just chop of a few green chillies in a few tablespoons of vinegar before you start this process.

Restaurant style - Indo Chinese - Sweet Corn Chicken soup ready!!



Happy Cooking!!

C

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Chewy Crunchy and Fudgy Chocolate Brownies


Can anyone not like chocolate? Especially when heaps of the cocoa goodness is mixed with egg, butter and sugar - that's simply an irresistible combination. Thanks to the likes of Max Brenners and Oliver Browns we've been exposed to some good variety of chocolate fudges and brownies. Thanks to the school holidays kids and I - this time it was just the boys who wanted to experiment some brownies at home. While researching I realized there were 2 schools of brownies - the fudgy and the cakey. I thought why not introduce a 3rd school which lies somewhere in between and also crunchy as well. So without further ado, here comes the recipe.

Ingredients



  1. Chocolate chips - 225 gms
  2. Butter - 170 gms (3/4 cups)
  3. Brown Sugar - 250 gms (1 1/4 cups) (I used brown sugar for the extra moistness / fudginess - you can use normal sugar too)
  4. Eggs - 2
  5. All purpose flour (Maida) - 95 gms (1/2 cup)
  6. Cocoa powder / Hot Chocolate - 30 gms (1/2 cup)
  7. Vanilla essence - 2 teaspoons
  8. Salt - 1 teaspoon
  9. Walnuts and pecans - 1/2 cup
Method


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C (or 350 deg F) - slightly less if it is fan forced
  2. Boil water in a medium sized sauce pan.
  3. Place a ceramic bowl on top of the boiling plan and melt the butter and half of the chocolate chips.
  4. Once well mixed and melted keep aside and mix the sugar and vanilla essence in. Keep stirring until the sugar is all mixed up.
  5. Leave the mixture to cool down for about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Mix the eggs one at a time - not beating / mixing it too hard. The key here is not to overmix.
  7. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt and fold it in slowly into the chocolate mixture.
  8. Mix the remaining chocolate chips, walnuts and pecans and fold it in. Do not mix it too hard.
  9. Line a baking tray (preferably square) with baking/parchment paper and transfer the batter into the parchment paper.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes - as always using your nose as an indicator. Stop baking when you can insert a tooth pick and it comes out fairly clean.
  11. Let it cool for at least 1-2 hours.
  12. Use a sharp knife to slice it nice and thick squares (or rectangles).
  13. Chewy crunchy and fudgy chocoloate brownies are now ready to be devoured.
Enjoy Baking!!

C

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

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. Another story goes like Thai people made this after a night of hard partying. 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. Vegetarians - you can try making this with just the veggie ingredients but it's never going to be the same.

Ingredients
  1. Flat rice 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. Garlic - 1 bulb
  4. Thai Bird's Eye Red Chilli - 8 - 10
  5. Shallots - thinly sliced - 1/3 cup
  6. Veggies - Sliced carrots, beans, some leafy vegetable
  7. Green pepper corn - 3-4 twigs
  8. Thinly sliced galanga - 2 table spoons
  9. Protein - I used prawns this time. One can use any thinly sliced meat or tofu.
  10. Fish sauce - 1 table spoon (got to be careful with this one) - Vegetarians feel free to skip. 
  11. Sugar - 2 tea spoons
  12. Dark Soya sauce - 2 table spoons
  13. Oyster sauce - 2 table spoon
  14. Any vegetable oil - 3-4 table spoons
Method
  1. Create a sauce mix with fish sauce, oyster sauce, soya sauce and sugar.
  2. Marinade the meat with a few tablespoons of sauce.
  3. Prepare the noodles as per the packet instructions. Some may need a blanch in boiling water.
  4. Pound the garlic and red chillies roughly.
  5. If not done already keep your vegetables sliced and ready. Once the process starts then there's no stopping. :)
  6. In a large wok heat a few table spoons of oil and saute the garlic-chilli mix.
  7. Add the shallots, galanga slices and the pepper corn twigs and saute for a minute.
  8. Add the prawns (or any meat) and saute until about 75% cooked.
  9. Add the stems of leafy vegetable, beans and carrots and saute for a minute.
  10. Add the remaining sauce and mix well.
  11. Add the noodles and mix well.
  12. Add the basil leaves and toss it around for about a minute.


Happy Cooking!!

C