Monday, March 31, 2014

Fereni - A Persian Dessert - IFC

                                                                Persian cuisine is rich in flavours. Turmeric and saffron are widely used in their cuisine. This month I am hosting for the "International Food Challenge", started by Saraswathi and Shobana. When  I was searching for recipes, I was astonished by the variety of recipes and food prepared by the Persians. Persian cuisine has a close relationship with "Indian Cuisine". Biriyani is a word, derived from Persia. Persian biriyanis are bit similar to the "Mughalai" cuisine. This particular "fereni" is called as "Phirni" in Indian Cuisine. Fereni can also be flavoured with carrot ,almonds or pistas. It was a pleasure hosting this event this month.                      

Recipe Source :  Cooking and Cooking

1. Whole milk                 -               1 1/2 cup
2.Sugar                            -               2 tbsp
3.Rice flour                     -                1 1/2
4.Rose water                   -                 1 1/4 tbsp
5.Pistachios                     -                For garnish

* Take a mixing bowl, add whole milk and sugar. Mix it well.

* Now add rice flour and mix it using a whisk. At last add the rose water. The mixture should be lump free. Using a whisk is adviceable.

* Keep the bowl on the stove top cook it in medium flame. Mix the fereni using whisk. Slowly the mixture will thicken.

* Approximately. after 20 minutes, fereni will be ready. It should not be too thick or too thin. When we take it in a spoon it should be like semi jelly.

Turn off the flame and garnish with sliced pistachios.
* Keep on stirring ,till we get the pudding like consistency.
* Don't add too much rice flour, then the dessert will be like paste.
* We can also garnish with sliced almonds or cinnamon powder.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Home made Paneer - A detailed post

    Paneer is a versatile dish, and it adopts the flavor , from the dish, in which it is used. Paneer can be easily made at home.Paneer costs us around $5 .But when we make at home, its just $2 or less.Because a gallon milk itself comes around $3. Its healthy too on the other hand, because ,we make it in a safe environment.So to make it cost effective, I used to make it at home. I have been preparing paneer for few  years. But never posted, in my blog . Some thing was holding me back. I have tried to make paneer using lemon juice and vinegar. But my satisfaction was met, when I used yogurt to make paneer, The paneer, which was made using yogurt is so soft and silky. Yogurt acts like a binding agent . I have heard, people use some corn flour or maida to make the paneer pilable. I have not tried it though. Here comes my home made paneer recipe. 

Preparation time     :     5 minutes
Cooking time          :     5 minutes
Setting time             :     2 hrs and 30 minutes
Yield                       :     500 gm approx.

1.Whole milk            -            2 litres / 8 cups
2.Yogurt                   -            1 cup or as needed
You can replace yogurt with lemon juice or vinegar.

* Take a heavy bottomed, wide pan . Pour  milk to the pan and bring it to boil. Here I have used whole milk, but you can try with 2% milk too. But the yield is less compared to the whole milk.Once the milk comes to boil, turn the heat to low.

* These are all needed for the process. A colander, a mixing bowl and a clean cheese cloth or cotton dhothi. Also we need a iron tawa or skillet and a big bowl of water.

* When the milk comes to boil, add yogurt to the milk. Keep on adding the curd, untill paneer separates from whey. The whey should be clear. If not add some more yogurt to the milk. Once paneer is separated, turn off the stove and add some ice cubes. This will stop the procees of curdling. This also helps us to yield soft paneer. If you are going to use lemon juice or vinegar, you can do so. But try to dilute it with little water and add it to the milk. What I learnt is , if we are using yogurt, the yield is high and also the paneer is soft . Yogurt binds the paneer together.

* Line the colander, with the cheese cloth and keep it on the mixing bowl. Pour the paneer mixture to the colander. Paneer is collected in the colander and the whey is collected in the bowl.

 * Keep the bowl, under running water and rinse the paneer well. When you are using lemon juice, this way the sourness of the paneer will be removed. 

* The paneer is collected and washed .

* Tie the cloth and hang it in your kitchen for atleast 20 - 25 minutes. 
 * Use the whey to cook any vegetables or add it to make roti. It has nutrients in it.

 * Take a tawa place it on the paneer cloth . Place a heavy wieght on top of the tawa. I kept a big bowl of water , on top of the tawa. Let the setting stay for atleast 2 hours. This will press the paneer well. Cube the paneer and store it in refrigerator. When we are going to use the paneer in any curry, just soak the paneer in hot water for a while and then add it to the curry. This will make the paneer soft.

* Always, boil milk well and then add the yogurt.
* Paneer can be stored in refrigerator for upto 3 days. It can be freezed for almost a month in a zip loc. Just thaw the paneer and use it in your gravies.
* We can also use lemon juice or vinegar. But dilute them with little water and use it.
* The outer edges of the paneer, may some time crumble.We can use that in any dish which calls for crumbled paneer.
* Rinsing the paneer , is a must to get rid of the sourness from the lemon or vinegar.
* We can also spice up the paneer, by adding some cumin seeds or little salt or little chilli powder, before pressing the paneer. This will make the paneer bit tasty.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cabbage Vadai - முட்டை கோஸ் வடை - Step by step

Today ,it is freezing in Plymouth. When I went to drop Rohith at the bus stop, I was totally numb by the cold. It was terrible. The chill wind is penetrating our body and killing us all.I was wondering, whether, Plymouth is skipping spring, summer and going back to winter again? We are expecting some snow this week. Sun god, please show us your face .Rohith's official, spring break is going to start this week. This week will be vey hectic, with the kids around. There will be always a quarrel, "Mom he took that from me" or a tiny little squeaking from Ashwath. Totally, it is going to be a tough time ahead.  I will always think of my mom, how she managed three of us . She is  a superwoman, who revolves around the house, shops ,cooks , washes and teaches us , without my dad's help. She is really great.

Cabbage vadai is very crispy and tasty vadai. When we add it to the batter, it just tastes like onion. We can make pakora  using cabbage too. The vadai were so crispy and really yumm.I have used urad dal, but you can use ,chana dal for the vadai. This is a perfect winter evening snack.

1.Cabbage           -          1 cup (finely chopped)
2.Urad dal           -          1 cup
3.Onion               -          1
4.Green chillies  -           2
5.Ginger             -            1/2 inch
6.Curry leaves    -            few
7.Cilantro           -            few
8.Salt                  -            as needed
9.Oil                   -            as needed

* Wash and soak the urad dal for atleast 1 hour.

* Strain the urad dal for atleast 20 minutes. This is very essential for getting rid of moisture in the vadai.

* Grind  the dal coarsely ,without adding water.

* Chop the onion,ginger,green chilly ,curry leaves ,cabbage and cilantro finely. We can also grate the cabbage,but make sure we squeeze out the excess water.

* Add it to the grinded dal. and mix it well. Adjust salt to the batter.

* Form a batter as shown in the picture. The batter should not be too thin. Meanwhile, add oil to a pan. Heat it really well. Then trun the flame to low. Because ., vadai should be cooked in low flame first , then turn the heat to high.

* Take a Ziploc bag, place a dallop of the batter on top.

*  Make a hole in the centre of the vadai.

*  Deep  fry  the vadai in medium flame first. Then turn the heat to high, for the vadai to become golden brown.

* Strain the vadais on a tissue paper. Serve it hot.
* Grind the urad dal coarsely, if not the vadai will become soggy.
* Finely chop the cabbage. We can also grate them. But , if you are going to grate, then squeeze out the excess moisture.
* The batter should be bit thick.
* If you think the batter is runny, then add a tbsp. of rice flour, to bind the batter.
* We can also try to make vadai using chana dal.
*If you feel, the batter is too thick, then sprinkle little water.


Linking this to Nalini Suresh's " Tamizhar Samayal Tuesday"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pasta Kheer / Pasta Payasam

 A new start and beginning in my blogging . I started cooking and clicking here in Plymouth. To start with a sweet, I prepared this simple pasta kheer. Here in our master bedroom,we have 2 windows and a glass door. These gives abondant light to my photoshoot. We have screens/ blinds, which can be closed or opened ,depending upon the light.That particular day, there was no sunlight, but still it gavea dark mood to the food. I just closed my blinds . I wanted to the room to be bit dim. So placed some black bouncers . I bought this wooden plank from "Menards", it just costed me $5 . It elevated the kheer to certain extent. I used my pasta on a canister. I was pretty much satisfied with the pictures. But coming to the stepwise pictures, I miss Irving. Because ,I had a window in my kitchen there, which gave my stepwise pictures a good focus. But here ,I don't have a window, so I have to rely on the kitchen light. It was pretty good ,but not too good. 
  Coming to the recipe, it is a fusion of Indian and western. Kheer tasted too good. Kids loved it a lot. I took it for a dinner party, and it was over within minutes.
Serves                 : 4
Preparation time :  10 minutes
Cooking time       :  20 minutes

    1.Pasta                          -              1/2 cup
    2 Whole.Milk                -               2 1/2 cup
    3.Coconut milk              -               1/2 cup
    4.Almonds                     -                4 to 5
    5.Cashews                     -               4 to 5
    6.Sugar                          -               1/2 cup + 1 tbsp
    7.Salt                             -                a pinch
    8.Cardamom pwdr         -                a pinch  
* Cook the pasta in hot water ,with little oil. This will make the pastas non sticky. Pastas should be cooked well.

* Pour milk in a pan and bring it to boil. Then reduce the flame .Milk is going to cook like this ,for the next 10 minutes.

* Soak the almonds and cashews in hot water for about 10 minutes and remove the skin of almonds. Take a blender, add cashews ,almonds and little milk. Grind it to a paste. The paste should be fine.

* Now , mix the coconut milk with the grinded paste .

* When the milk is cooked well, add the pastas to it. Mix it well. After a minute, add the grinded mixture and give it a stir.Start mixing the milk, if not it will sit at the bottom.

* Now add sugar . Taste it and adjust the sugar level according to your taste. Add a pinch of salt. This will bring out a punch in the dessert. At last add cardamom powder and turn off the flame.Serve it either hot or chilled. I loved the kheer ,chilled.
* We can replace low fat milk with whole milk.
* Add sugar according to your taste.
* Adding coconut milk will bring out nice flavour, but if you don't want ,you can skip it.
* The kheer should not be too thick or too thin.
* We can also use some saffron strands , to give it a nice colour.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mutton Dhum Biriyani - Step by step

 We got our shipment, last weekend. So I was busy unpacking them, and arranging. I used to wonder, which is easy, packing or unpacking. According to me packing is easy. Because, we just dump everything in the boxes. But unpacking and arranging involves lot more planning and work.Finally managed with the shipment. But not yet started clicking. This is another recipe from my draft.
  Among biriyanis, mutton has a significant place. The taste can never be beaten by other biriyanis. H loves mutton a lot. Since it has lot of fat, I used to avoid it as much as possible. We used to prepare it once in a month. Dhum biriyanis are lot more tastier than pressure cooked ones. It involves , some more time, but its worth the effort.
For the Gravy :
1.Mutton                      -            1 lb
2.Onion                        -            2 big + 1 
3.Tomatoes                   -             2
4.Green chillies               -             2 
5.Ginger & Garlic paste  -             1/2 tsp
6.Curd                            -             2 tbsp
7.Mint leaves                   -             1/4 cup
8.Cilantro                        -              1/4 cup
9.Salt                               -              to  taste
10.Orange color               -              a pinch
11.Turmeric pwdr             -             a pinch
12.Chilli pwdr                   -             1 tsp

For tempering:
1.Ghee                            -         1/4 cup
2.Oil                                -         1/2 cup
3.Cinnamon                     -          1 inch
4.Cloves                          -          5
5.Cardamom pods           -          3
6.Bay leaves                    -           3
7.Fennel seeds                 -           1/2 tsp

For the rice:
1.Basmati rice         -            2 cups
2.Water                  -            6 cups
3.Cinnamon             -            1/2 inch
4.Cloves                  -            3
5.Bay leaves            -             1
6.Oil                        -              2 tsp
7.Salt                       -               1/2 tsp

 * Wash the mutton well . Pressure cook it with little ginger and garlic paste, tuemeric pwdr for 3 whistles or untill they are cooked well. Wash the basmati rice gently. Soak the rice for atleast 20 minutes and strain it for a while, aprox 10 minutes.

* Slice the onions thinly. Slit the green chillies. Take a pan, add ghee and oil. Let it be hot. Then add the tempering ingredients . When the whole garam masalas, crackle, now add sliced onions , green chillies and saute it till golden brown. Add the chilli powder and saute , till it looses its raw smell.
* Add ginger garlic paste and when the raw smell escapes, add the cubed tomatoes. Sprinkle some salt to the tomato, let it cook for a while .Add chopped mint leaves and cook.Now add the curd and mix it.In another pan, fry the remaining onion till crisp. Now 

* When the gravy is almost done, start the process of the rice. This way, the cooked rice will be hot enough , to be added to the gravy.Take a pan of water, add salt, oil, cinnamon ,cloves and bay leaves. Once the water comes to rolling boil, add the soaked and strained rice to the pan. Cook the rice , till it is 80% done. Strain the cooked rice ,using a colander. Keep the rice ready.
* By the now, the gravy is ready, add the cooked mutton to the pan. Thoroughly mix the mutton with the gravy. Cover the pan with a lid . Adjust salt to taste. By now , oil will come out . Add chopped cilantro at the end. The gravy should be thick.Take a oven proof pan or a dutch oven . First layer it with the mutton gravy. 
* Now ,layer the cooked rice on top of the mutton. Sprinkle some fried onion, chopped cilantro. Add orage colour to water and add it on top.Close the lid and keep it in a oven pre heated @350 degree F. Keep the rice in dhum for about 2o minutes. If you don't have a oven just heat a tawa and place the pan on top.
After 20 minutes, fluff the rice using a fork. Serve it with onion raita.

* Cook the mutton properly ,till it is done.
* Don't over cook the rice, then biriyani will not taste good.
* While frying the onion, make sure you don't make it burnt.
* The gravy should not be too runny. It should be thick.
* Adjust the spice level according to your taste.

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