Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sweet Tooth

Delectable Dessert

You can be the queen in your kitchen when you master this simple, yet elegant dessert. The humble, versatile yogurt, a must in every Indian household conquers even the skeptical food critic. My family loves sweet curd as we call it and I make it whenever I have large dinner parties and a menu to match. This recipe was given to me by my sis in law many years ago and has been passed on to many a fan. Goes well with any kind of menu.
The Recipe
500 ml home made yogurt
250 ml can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
Line a large strainer with a layer of cheesecloth. Pour the yogurt into the lined strainer, and set it over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight (becomes like cream cheese). Grease a 9-inch dish which has a lid.
Discard the liquid that has drained from the yogurt. Place the yogurt into the bowl, and whisk in the condensed milk. Pour into the prepared dish. Cover with lid and steam in cooker or steamer for 20 minutes. Remove and sprinkle almonds over top. Refrigerate before serving. Watch it vanish and you will be the envy of all!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Treat

Marzipan Eggs

Easter was the season for Easter eggs and marzipan. In Bangalore we got them from Nilgiris where we could choose from a wide variety of chickens, bunnies and delicious chocolate eggs. Once we moved to Kuala Lumpur, I had to rack my brains on where to obtain Easter Eggs for my little chicks. I managed to get a good recipe for marzipan and from 1997 have been making marzipan for friends and ourselves. My parents used to make them for us and we would stand around them grabbing eggs in turn until everything was inside us, rather than on the table. It was the same in my house with Serita & Ranita sampling more than they should. This Easter, Ranita made the eggs and is guarding them like gold. But I dare say, we will get our own Easter Basket on Sunday.
The Recipe
500gms almond meal; 250 gms icing sugar; 250 gms caster sugar (blend in mixer); ¼ tsp. almond essence; white of two medium sized eggs; squish of lemon juice; food colouring to colour eggs. 100 chocolate nutties. Baskets for decoration.
Place almond meal in bowl. Add the icing sugar and powdered caster sugar. Mix together. Make a well in centre and fold in the almond essence and lemon juice. Add the egg white a little at a time until the mixture in the bowl becomes a soft dough. Discard remaining egg white. Divide into portions and wrap with cling film. Add a few drops of desired food colouring to one portion and knead until marzipan is evenly coloured. Wrap with cling film and keep aside. Repeat process with other portions. Take one of the coloured portions, break off a piece and flatten on palm of hand. Place a nuttie in the centre and cover with the marzipan. Repeat process until the nutties and marzipan are used up. Place in baskets and distribute to all friends and well wishers.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bangalore Special

Dr. Vijayashri's Bisi Bele Bath

Good Friday was always vegetarian fare and as children we simply hated it. My mum would faithfully serve up kanji (rice porridge) and roasted brinjal- coconut chutney which in our opinion was simply awful. Adults always raved about it, and I could not understand why. So when I set up my own house I decided to serve up something different and opted for Bisi Bele Bath (my children hated it, while my spouse loved it) which is a rice-based dish with its origins in the state of Karnataka, India. Bisi-bele-bhaath translates to hot-lentil-rice in the Kannada language. The traditional preparation of this dish is quite elaborate and involves the use of spicy masala, toor dal (a form of lentil) and vegetables. Spices like nutmeg and asafoetida, curry leaves and tamarind pulp used in its preparation contribute to the unique flavour and taste of this dish. It is served hot and sometimes eaten along with salad, papadams or potato chips. Every family has its own recipe and I got mine from a friend who made the best I have ever eaten. You either hate it or love it and the best compliment I got was when a vegetarian friend asked me for the recipe. Ranita protested when I made it this morning and Serita refused to look at it. However, Ranita ate a plateful and said, actually it’s quite tasty! Check it out yourself.

The Recipe

1 cup brown/white rice; 1 cup toor dhal (split yellow lentils); 1 tbsp tamarind puree; 1 cup mixed vegetables. I used corn, carrots and peas. The more variety the better.
4 large tomatoes, chopped; 1 handful baby onions, peeled; salt to taste; 1/4 tsp mustard and 2 sprigs curry leaves for seasoning. Fried cashewnuts for garnish; Potato chips and ghee for serving.

Masala: Fry the following in 1 tsp oil in a nonstick pan, cool and grind in mixer- 1 tsp bengal gram dhal (split chick peas); 1 tsp corriander seeds; 1/2 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds; 1/2 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds; 1/2 tsp urad (black gram) dhal; 1 tbsp. grated coconut; 1' stick cinnamon; 3 cloves; 1/2 tsp black peppercorns; 2 green chillies (my addition to the recipe). Keep aside until required.

Pressure cook the rice, dhal and mixed vegetables in double the quantity of water (6 cups) for 5 minutes.
Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. When smoking add mustard and curry leaves. Add baby onions and tomatoes and stir fry till tomatoes turn soft and onions transparent. Add the tamarind puree and salt to taste. Bring to the boil. Add rice, dhal and vegie mix and the ground masala. Bring to the boil again, maintaining a watery consistency (can add more water if required. Add salt to taste. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with fried cashewnuts. Serve hot with potato chips and a dollop of ghee.
PS: Can also use peanuts for a variation.