Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Seasame Poppy Cauliflower

Hubby and I love cauliflower but was tired of the usual ways of making. A curry or steaming just didn't seem appetizing tonight. I wanted to experiment a little bit using ingredients that I usually don't. I have become a little timid with experimenting since sometimes I tend to over do it or under do it -leaving the food with too much to the point of bitterness or not enough that it is so plain with no difference from natural taste. Last few days I really didn't want to make much using the usual Indian spices of turmeric, cumin, coriander, tonight I went with Sesame & Poppy. Here is the recipe:

Sesame Poppy Cauliflower

Cauliflower: steamed but still firm: 2 cups of small florets
Sesame: 1 tsp.
Poppy seed: 1 tsp.
Onion: 1/2 a small red, sliced thin
Garlic: 2 cloves, crushed
Salt to taste
Oil: 1-2 tbsp.

Steam the cauliflower till just cooked. Heat a pan with oil, add the sesame and poppy. It will splutter so be careful! Roast few seconds. It will toast light brown very quickly. Add the onion and garlic and sautee. Add the cauliflower and toss till it gets caramelized. I added a pinch of sugar to it. Toss around. taste test and serve! Best eaten warm.

Enjoy with some Kichuri - a rice and lentil dish eaten especially on a rainy day!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sweet Milky Bread

Hubby and I both have a major sweet tooth! After dinner we must must, nay, he must! have something sweet. Usually he just takes a piece of bread and lathers on some Nocilla (like Nutella, a hazelnut-chocolate spread) and devours it. Last night he was about to the same. He sat down with the bread box and the bottle of Nocilla and I couldn't bare to watch. But what to make in 10 mins? Well, if you have sugar, milk, bread, eggs and flour - anything is possible! I had made some doughnuts a few days back (they were more deep fried cakes!) and I knew that would take a while.

So, he requested Shahi Tukra.

Shahi is usually term used in the South Asian cuisine for anything cooked with milk or yogurt - it connotates richness. Tukra means - pieces. In the old days, milk was reduced to a rich creamy state, hence the name. Today's milk loses so much in the processing that it can hardly be boiled down to a thick cream.

I remember as a child we used to get fresh milk straight from the cow and when it was boiled to purify, it formed a thick layer of cream (we called it shor). We would eat the shor just with some sugar - but it was usually preserved for the special baby of the home - so when little brother was old enough - I no longer got the shor, same with hubby, when his little sister was old enough and then his cousin brothers - he never got that thick layer of delicious cream. *sigh*

So, back to last night. What he wanted was bread in sweetened milk. I have made it several times and by no means is it healthy but - dang - it taste good!!!

Sweet Milky Bread

Bread: about 3-4 slices
Milk: 1 cup
Sweetened Condensed Milk: 2-3 tbsp.
Cardamom Whole: 2
Cinnamon: 1 inch
Nutmeg: garnish
Pistachios or almonds or raisins

1. Heat the milk. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and stir in the condensed milk. Let it simmer for about 10 mins or so. You can do it till its thickened, especially if it full cream milk but, not necessary.

2. Have a deep dish ready or a bowl, tear the bread into big chunks and layer it. If you want to make it look pretty, cut into triangles and lay it out neatly overlapping.

3. Check for desired sweetness - add honey or sugar if needs to be sweeter. Pour slowly over the bread. Garnish with nutmeg shavings or swirl some honey on top or spread out raisins or nuts.

Let it cool and enjoy!

*Tip: this is a very versatile dish, you can do anything you want with it! Powder milk can be used. If you don't want condensed milk - palm sugar, jaggery, brown sugar, honey - any natural sweetener can be substituted. Saffron can be used in the milk for a sophisticated taste or Vanilla. If eggs mixed in the milk then perhaps can be baked even? (don't know abt that one - have to test t out).

Easy Simple Tilapia

Hubby has been requesting food that is 'different'. Haven't cooked in a while and the maid cooks with so much spices, so I understand. But what to make? I have been in such a slump that even if I cook anything, it tastes like I feel! He had bought a whole bunch of fish - Tilapia and Hilsa. Decided to cook the Tilapia. After a quick surf on the net for a simple recipe, came up with an easy pan fry dish with veggies and side sauces. He enjoyed it and it certainly was different from our regular menu especially because there was almost no spices at all! So, without writing anymore, here is the recipe along with the side dishes. There are quite a few, but hope you try them out :)

Pan Fried Tilapia

Tilapia: 1 med. size
Whole coriander seeds: 1 tsp.
Lime juice: 4 tsp.
Onion: 1 small thinly sliced
Garlic: 2 cloves, chopped
Green serrano chili: split in half
Little flour
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Clean the fish and gut it. Score the skin with diagonal cuts to help the marination.

2. Marinate the fish in salt, pepper, coriander seeds (I pushed it through the slits) and lime juice. About 20-25 mins.

3. Pat dry. Cover fish lightly wth flour - will make it crispy and give a nice color.

4. Heat oil till smoky add the onion, garlic and chili to flavor the oil then place the fish. Should take about 5-6 mins to cook. About 2-3 mins on each side.

*Tip: The coriander seeds can be lightly dry roasted before adding to the fish, that way the natural oils and flavors come out or grind it after lightly dry roasting and then marinating the fish with it.

The fish has a very mild fresh flavor so it was tastier with these sides...

Garlicky Lime Butter

Lime zest: 1 med lime
Onion: thinly sliced, 1 tbsp.
Garlic: 4 cloves, pan roasted
Green chili: chopped
Butter (unsalted): 4-5 tbsp.

Bring butter to room temperature and mix all together. Spread on fish right off the stove. Its delicious!

Parmesan Sauce

Mayonnaise: 2-4 tbsp.
Parmesan cheese: 2-3 tsp.
Black pepper: to taste
Lime juice: 2-3 tsp.

Mix all together, taste along the way to suit your taste buds. I had to add lime juice little by little because the Parmesan was overpowering. Hubby loved this sauce and ate the fish and veggies with it! Its great for just a salad or plain dip for chips or carrots snacks.

Tomato Relish

Tomatoes: 2 med, chopped
Onion: 1/2 med, sliced/shopped
Fresh coriander leaves: 1 tsp. chopped
Green chili: 1 chopped
Lime juice: 3-4 tbsp.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Just mix then all together and its a great side salad or relish!

Cauliflower & Peas

Cauliflower: 1 med. head
Peas: 1 cup
Onion: 1 med, chopped
Garlic: 2-3 cloves, chopped
Fenugreek: 1/2 tsp.
Salt to taste

Steam the cauliflower and peas till cooked but still crunchy and firm. I add salt to the water while it steams. Heat a little oil, about 1-2tbsp., add the onion, garlic and fenugreek and sautée till onions transparent. Add the veggies and lightly toss, add salt if needed. Take of stove and serve!

All this with an accompaniment of Rice and Daal! It was light dinner but healthy and satisfying. Oh, there was a dessert too, thats coming soon....

Monday, October 27, 2008


Last couple of weeks have been very dull and uneventful. I have not done much cooking (downside of having a "bua" that comes in once a day to cook and clean) nor much of anything else except being a complete bum. Anything that I did cook came out terrible and would rather forget about it then write it down. Could be attributed to my looming bad mood. If everything is connected - spiritually - then if I am in bad mood, my food will taste bad.

Anyways, I am hoping to do some research on spices and its medicinal uses. My hubby and I both dislike taking pills for everyday illness - like common colds, flu, indigestions, etc. and I know all these Indian spices have their individual uses in different ailments. So would like to study it and will share here.

Besides that, we are having Tilapia for dinner tonight, so if all turns out well, maybe a new recipe and pics for tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Garam Masala Mix

This is a wonderful and fragrant spice to have handy. It can be used in meat, snacks, potatoes, soups and lots of other dishes. It is a great marinade as well.

Garam Masala in a Recipe

Now that I think about it - these spices could be used in spicy desserts like spice muffins, pies or cake! It is very versatile in use and is a definite staple in a South Asian kitchen.

Not to mention the beautiful aroma that will fill your kitchen when you are dry roasting them!

This isn't the end all be all of a recipe! It's a recipe that I use most often in my kitchen. Other spices can be added or substituted. Different types of cumin, bay leaf, dry ginger, nigella...the choices are endless!

Garam Masala

Begin with whole spices. Careful when dry roasting, you just want the natural oils to exude, over roasting can scorch and make it bitter...let your senses, *ahem* you :)

Coriander Seeds - 4 tbsp.
Cumin - 2 tbsp.
Black pepper - 1 tbsp.
Nutmeg - 1
Cinnamon - 3 pcs of 2 cm each
Cardamom - 3 tbsp.
Clove 1 tsp.

1. Except for nutmeg, gently dry roast all of the spices. Make sure it's on a gentle heat and be patient, go slow so it roasts inside.

2. Take off heat and let it cool.

3. After cooling, take the seeds out of the cardamom and grind the seeds with the other spices.
A coffee grinder can be used, make sure it is clean and dry.

3. Grate the nutmeg and mix with the spices. Store in a dry air tight jar.

Its best used right away. It will keep for few months but will become less fragrant and may change in texture and form.

Garam Masala on Wiki

Garam masala, whose literal meaning is 'hot spice' (in the meaning of high temperature as opposed to spiciness), is a basic blend of ground spices to be used alone or with other seasonings. It is common in the Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani cuisines.

There are many variants and each one is formulated for a specific purpose. There are numerous ways in which Garam Masala is prepared in different regions of India. There is no way of determining which of them are more authentic than others.

Some recipes blend spices with herbs. Yet others grind the spices with water, vinegar or other liquids, such as coconut milk, to make a paste. In some recipes nuts, onion or garlic may be added. The flavours may be carefully blended to achieve a balanced effect, or in some cases a single flavour may be emphasized for special dishes where this is desired. Usually a masala is cooked before use to release its flavours and aromas.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coconut Goat Curry

Here you go...yet another coconut recipe! Ok, I have a few whole coconuts and have to use them up. This evening, a fresh one was broken and the water was immediately finished off by the hubby. The flesh - half in the curry the other half as dessert! I am not a big fan of goat meat but last week, my mother sent over almost 4 kgs of goat meat from my nephews naming ceremony event. I used a little bit of it to make haleem - a lentil based thick soup- and about 1 kg of it today to make this delicious curry. I think this is the first time I found goat meat appetizing so I had to share this recipe. It is so simple! Its from by Bengali cooking bible - Ranna, Khado, Pusti (loosely translated - Cook, Food and Nutrition) by the guru of Bengali cooking Siddiqua Kabir. My cook is really well versed in lots of different types of cooking and even she was surprised how tasty this came out, and glad to add a new recipe to her collection. Best of all the meat was so moist that I was couldn't stop popping little morsels!

Sadly, pictures of curry doesn't come out so good -or rather I am not a good enough food stylist yet to make it look delicious as it tastes!

Coconut Goat Curry

Goat Meat - 1 1/2 kg
(it can be on the bone and washed well and cut into desired size)
Coconut shavings - 1 1/2 cup
Onion paste - 1/2 cup
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp.
Garlic paste - 2 tsp.
Garam masala, ground- 1/2 tsp.
Green chili paste - 1 tbsp. (or desired hotness)
Fresh coriander paste - 1 tbsp.
Oil - 1 1/4 cup

1) Except for the oil - mix all other ingredients together well, cover and marinate for about an hour.

2) After marination - heat oil in a shallow pot, add all of the mix with the marinade. Stir well and cover. Cook on medium heat.

3) When oil skims the surface, the curry is ready. Taste test to see if the meat is tender, if not, leave on low heat and keep lid tightly closed. Turn off before it starts burning in bottom but keep closed lid (called 'dum') till ready to serve.

The longer its inside "dum" the more moist the meat will be.

I served this with rice - the usual staple carb in our home but I had whole wheat rotis. The roti is a little different. Yesterday I had attempted to make whole wheat donuts but it was a bust - but the dough was pretty good and decided to make it into rotis today and it was such a great compliment to the goat curry! If I had a restaurant, this could be perfect meal - doughut roti, goat curry and daal with a side of chutney and chili :)

Roti Recipe
I just eyeballed the recipe for this, so this really for advanced cooks. The amounts here are approximations.


Whole wheat flour - 1 cup
Egg, whipped - 1 egg
Butter, melted - 1 tbsp.
Baking powder- 1 tsp.
Salt - a pinch
Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp.
Mace - 1/4 tsp.

1) Mix all wet ingredients together, mix all dry ingredients separately.

2) Slowly mix the wet into dry little bit at a time. Form a soft dough. Use more flour if the dough is too sticky.

3) Cover and refrigerate for about 1/2 an hour. Dough keeps well in fridge for couple days, probably could freeze it too.

4) When ready, roll out on flat surface with rolling pin into circles.

5) Heat a flat pan. Place the roti down, turn after 30 sec. Let other side cook and flip till its cooked through, Shouldn't take more than a 1-1.5 mins each.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Oranges, oranges, oranges...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pumpkin in Coconut Curry

Ok, once again a demo of how much I love coconut and coconut curries! 'Tis the season of pumpkins and this dish is just so hearty and delicious in a cool night. I had been thinking of something different to do with pumpkin and after watching an episode on Sri Lankan cooking on Food Safari, I was inspired to concoct this curry. I really don't have a taste for curry leaf which is an essential ingredient for south Indian and Sri Lankan cooking so, it has been conveniently omitted. It is also a versatile dish and can be left up to your imagination to try things out. Its an extensive list and may look complicated --but I promise you that it took me only 5 mins to put together...well, I have a lot of spices on my shelf and within easy reach and kind of just threw things in that I felt went well together! So here it is...

I apologize for not having a lot of measurements, I tend to just eyeball and guesstimate when cooking, so this recipe can be for advanced cooks or adventurous new cooks!

Step 1

oil - to sautee
dry red chilis-2 whole
nigella-a pinch
coriander seeds-a pinch
cinnamon-1 inch
bay leaf-1 large leaf
cardamom-3-4 crushed pods
mustard seeds-1 tsp.

Step 2

coconut milk-1/2 a can (depends on how much pimpkin and how much curry u want)
cumin powder-1/2 tsp
coriander powder-1/2 tsp
chili powder-depends on how hot u like it
turmeric powder-1/2 tsp.
pumpkin-2 cups peeled & diced bite size
salt-to taste

Step 3

short grain rice-1 tbsp.
fresh grated coconut-2 tbsp.
whole cumin-1 tsp.

1. Heat oil in a wok or pot and start with red chili, bay leaf, cinnamon and slowly add the onions and the rest from Step 1. Sautee till onions a transparent. The mustard seeds will splutter so be careful and also careful not to burn them, add as one of the last ingredients.

2. Mix all from Step 2 together in a bowl and add into the pan with the onions-with the pumpkin. Add water to boil the pumpkin. I added about 1 can full but depends how much curry you want. Add salt to taste.

3. While pumpkin is boiling, in a dry pan roast the rice & coconut till a nutty brown color, add in cumin seeds and roast for 1 min till fragrant. Grind to a powder, its a delicious nutty fragrance!

4. Add the rice powder mix to the curry to thicken it up. Check the salt and you could add sprinkle of sugar to sweeten a little bit. It really brightens the flavor. Taste test. You can squeeze a little bit of lime when serving for an extra bit of tang.

I served it up with a side of friend mashed prawns and fluffy coconut rice with some green chili for extra spice. The left overs were great the next day for breakfast with some fresh rotis!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Purple Chili!?!

Eid was a few days ago...EID MUBARAK to all...Cal and I spent it with my mother. We woke up early and drove to my grandfather's village, Gokarna. I haven't been there in a couple of years so I wa slooking forward. Sadly, since no one lives there any more, the place is looking pretty run down. But by the main house there were two beautiful chili plants! One was a small light green variety and the other was a surprising purple chilis! I had never seen them but when they ripen up, they turn a bright reddish orange color. Here are a few pics of them...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gokarna: a trip to my grandfather's village

Eid is a great time in the city...its the only time of the year that it is completely traffic free! Well, thats not the only reason its great :) The city lights up like Xmas, everyone is in a festive spirit with new clothes and lots and lots of food! Visiting friends and neighbors and eating yummy meals...its wonderful. This year my mother was in Dhaka so we decided to a take drive to my grandfather's village, Gokarna. Its about 2 hours drive out of Dhaka and so beautiful and green! I couldn't take a lot of pictures on the drive...motion sickness...but here are a few pics of the compound.

Here the boys all prep to go to the morning prayers...

Coconut Nut Barfi - Sweet Coconut Balls

I have a thing for coconuts. I saw this on Food Safari the other day and thought it was THE most simplest, easiest, quickest and yummiest dessert! Hubby just pops one in his mouth every time he passes the fridge. Make 'em and you will see!

The ingredients are simple and adjustable too. If you don't want to use condensed milk - just use milk and sugar (jaggery, palm sugar, brown sugar). just a reminder - different sugars will give it different tastes, which in itself is a fun idea to roll around with! Make sure to fry it up in the pan so it all congeals and cooks together.

The use of fresh coconuts is advisable, but if not possible - most specialty stores sell them in packages so experiment a little. I broke the coconut myself and scraped it by hand -- owwww! its hard and tiring so i don't recommend it to anyone! But if you have gadgets to help ya out - go for it! Nothing in the world like fresh coconut!!

If you try this out - let me know how they turn out...

Coconut Barfi

2 cups fresh ground coconut
1 cup condensed milk
ground pistachios
ground cashews
ground elachi (try fresh next time)

(maybe cinnamon too?)
enough for strong flavor

Mix well all together, cook on pan with little bit of ghee (butter) and 2 tbsp of suji (semolina), till dry. Let it cool. Roll small portions into round balls and roll through fresh coconut.

Keep cool - it will firm up after few hours.