Monday, January 30, 2012

Indian Chinese Crowd Pleaser

Cauliflower Manchurian

After all the celebrating and eating during Chinese New Year, I felt the need for something very simple and keeping in line with the Chinese theme decided to go in for Cauliflower Manchurian the famous Indian appetizer and all time favourite of children and adults. You can have it with noodles, fried rice or plain curd rice. These delicious morsels are bound to please.

The Recipe

1 medium sized cauliflower, cut into flowerettes,soak in salt water for 15 minutes and then drain; 1 small bunch of corriander leaves, chopped; 1 tbsp minced ginger-garlic; 1 medium onion, chopped; 2 green chillies, minced; salt & pepper to taste; 2 tbsp thick soy sauce; 1 tbsp oil.

Marinade: 1 egg; 1/2 cup water; salt & pepper to taste; 2 tbsp cornflour. Mix well.

To Thicken: 1 tbsp cornflour dissolved in 1/4 cup water.

Marinade the cauliflower for 10 minutes and deep fry till golden. Drain on kitchen paper and keep hot.

Heat 1 tsp oil and stir fry the ginger- garlic till fragrant. Add the onions and fry till golden brown. Next add the cauliflower, soy sauce, green chillies and mix well. Add salt & pepper to taste. Lower heat, add the dissolved cornflour and quickly mix together, stirring in the chopped corriander leaves. Remove when thick. Serve hot and you are permitted to lick your fingers too!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Enter The Dragon

Gong Xi Fa Chai Feast

One of my favourite Malaysian Festivals is the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival. I love seeing the colour red, cherry blossoms, dragon dancers, mandarin oranges, am pows and firecrackers around me. Best of all, this is the time to taste Chinese New Year Delicacies and an opportunity to observe customs and traditions first hand.

This year Chinese New Year falls on January 23 and Chinese all over the world are celebrating the lunar new year of the Dragon.

The Dragon is a creature of myth and legend. A symbol of good fortune and sign of intense power, the Oriental Dragon is regarded as a divine beast. In Eastern philosophy, the Dragon is said to be a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority. So, those people born in Dragon years are to be honored and respected.

Dragon Years: 1904 * 1916 * 1928 * 1940 * 1952 * 1964 * 1976 * 1988 * 2000

Chinese New Year is a time for reunion and families gather together on the eve to welcome the New Year. A Chinese Banquet is a feast for the eyes and for the stomach. - a gastronomical journey that begins when you see & smell the vast array of tantalizing food. You can create a banquet in your kitchen too. It’s pretty easy once you know how. Here are some of my favourite Chinese New Year Recipes.

Crab Soup

The Recipe :
1/2 cup fresh crabmeat; 2/3 cup corn ; 2 egg whites; salt to taste; 2 tbsp milk;
For Soup :3 cups chicken stock; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 tbsp cornflour mixed in 2 tbsp water

Clean the crab meat removing pieces of shell and retaining juices. Keep in a covered dish.
Stir egg whites and salt briskly with a fork. Stir in milk and keep aside.

Combine soup ingredients in a large saucepan. Keep mixed cornflour ready. Bring the soup to a boil. Add corn, boil soup and then add the crabmeat and juices; bring to a boil again over high heat. Lower heat and slowly add mixed cornflour, stirring until the soup is thickened. Remove from heat and gently stir in the egg white mixture, to combine.
Taste and add salt if necessary. I also add a little white pepper to suit my taste.

Serve hot in individual bowls with soy sauce and / chillies in vinegar.

Spare Ribs

The Recipe:

2 tbsp soy sauce; 1 tablespoon white rice vinegar; 1 teaspoon sesame oil; 1 tbsp honey; 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder; 1/2 tsp minced garlic;
1/2 tsp ground ginger; ¾ kg spare ribs.

Combine soy sauce, white rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, five-spice powder, garlic, and ginger in a dish. Mix well. Add ribs to marinade; refrigerate 4 to 8 hours, turning occasionally.
Pressure cook 15 minutes, drain and then gently grill ribs on high heat for 5 minutes each on both sides till ribs are brown. Pour the sauce over. Serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.

Butter Prawns

The Recipe :

15 tiger prawns, -deveined, with shell, remove eyes ; 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves; 6 tbsps butter;5 egg yolks;
3 cloves garlic, minced finely; 2 -3 green chillies ,finely chopped; 1 tsp salt;1 tsp soy sauce;1 tsp sugar; 1tsp Shaoxing Wine (Chinese Rice Wine); white pepper to taste.

Clean, wash and dry prawns. Heat enough oil to deep fry the prawns. I grill them on high heat 5 minutes each side until shells turn red. Remove and drain, set aside.

Next, use about 2 tbsps of the oil used earlier in your wok. Stir fry the garlic, chilli, curry leaves and salt until fragrant. Lower heat, add the butter, soy sauce and the sugar. Next, add the egg yolks, through a strainer or sieve and finally the prawns that were fried earlier. Add more salt if desired. . Stir to coat and fry until the little bits of egg start to brown. Serve hot. The fragrance of the curry leaves and butter and prawns combined together will make your mouth water.

Orange And Honey Chicken Wings

The Recipe :

12 wings, trim tips, wash and dry, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp. finely shredded orange rind, 2 tbsp. orange juice, 1 tbsp. honey.

Marinade wings overnight. Grill on very high heat (GM 9, 450F , 260 C) for 5 minutes each side till done. Serve hot or cold.
NB Instead of orange juice and rind lemon juice and rind can be used.

Sweet & Sour Chilli Crabs

The Recipe :

Sauce: 3 tbsp. tomato sauce; 3 tbsp. chilli sauce; 2 tbsp. white rice vinegar ( can use less); 1 tbsp. light soya sauce or ½ tsp. soy sauce; 2 tbsp. sugar; 1 tsp. salt; 100 ml water; cornflour for thickening. Mix together and keep ready.
1 tbsp. chopped garlic; 1 tsp. green chillies, minced; 1 tsp. chopped ginger; 1 tbsp. chopped spring onions; 1 egg beaten.

1 kg crabs (about 5 ), cleaned and cut. Coat in cornflour and deep fry till colour changes. Keep aside.
Fry garlic, chillies, ginger and spring onions till fragrant in a little oil. Add the sauce ingredients. Bring to boil. Add crabs, beaten egg and thicken with cornflour if required. Serve hot.


The Recipe :

400gms Kai-Lan, trimmed and rinsed, soak in salt water for 15 minutes, drain and keep ready; 5 cloves of garlic, chopped in half; pinch of sugar; pinch of salt and pepper; 1 tablespoon of cooking oil.
Heat wok with oil over high heat. Add garlic and stir-fry for about 10 seconds till golden and fragrant, but not browned. Add kailan and sugar, stir fry with wooden spatula for 1 minute only. When it starts to soften, sprinkle salt and pepper Stir-fry to combine well. Serve hot.

Steamed Fish

The Recipe :

Eating fish on New Year’s Eve is equivalent to having surplus at the end of the year since the character for surplus is pronounced “yu” which happens to be a homophone for fish.

1 large fish (Garoupa) about 350 gms; 4 Slices of tender Ginger, cut in thin strips; 2 Spring onions, chopped; 1 Red Chilli, cut in long strips; coriander leaves, chopped; 1 ½ tbsp thin Soy Sauce; 1 tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine (Shaoxing); 1 tsp Sesame Oil; 3 bsp Groundnut Oil.

Combine the fish with ginger, spring onions, chilli, soy sauce, wine, and sesame oil and steam on a high heat until they are cooked (about 5 minutes). Use the idli steamer or pressure cooker without the weight. Then heat the groundnut nut oil on a moderate to high heat. Carefully, pour the hot oil over the cooked fish. Top the fish with coriander leaves and serve immediately.

Fried Rice

The Recipe:

250 gms. white rice, cooked previous day, 1 cup cooked long beans, diced, peas, corn & cubed carrots; 1 soup cube, 5 cloves minced garlic. ½ cup cooked chicken; ½ cup scrambled egg; ½ cup cooked prawns; salt & pepper to taste.

Heat 3 tbsp. oil in wok. When hot add garlic and fry for a minute or two. Add veggies and soup cube. Stir fry for a minute. Add chicken, scrambled egg and prawns. Lower flame and add the rice. Mix well and heat till warm. Adjust seasoning. Remove and keep in covered dish.

Stuffed Lychees

The Recipe:

1 tin king lychees; 1 small tin pineapple cubes; 1 medium sized tin longans.

Open tins. Stuff lychees with pineapple cubes and place in serving dish. Pour ½ the lychee syrup over. Scatter remaining pineapple cubes around and pour ¼ of the pineapple syrup into the dish. Place the longans on top of the lychees and pour ¼ of the juice over them. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Serve cold as a dessert.

Serve immediately...with love!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Love At First Bite

Russian Salad

The first time I came across this salad was at a friend's house more than three decades ago in Mangalore. I was rather apprehensive on seeing it as I had never eaten anything like it before. It was full of vegetables, tinned sardines, cut fruit and held together with mayonnaise, something quite unknown to me. Fell in love with the first bite and ever since have served it on many occasions in different ways. Russian Salad or Salad Olivier, of Russian origin consists of boiled pieces of meat, vegetables and cubed potatoes held together with mayonnaise. It was first served in 1860 by a Russian Chef named Lucien Olivier, the chef of the Hermitage, one of Moscow's most celebrated restaurants. Olivier's salad quickly became immensely popular with Hermitage regulars, and became the restaurant's signature dish and a jealously guarded secret. Somehow the contents of the recipe leaked and today there are many versions of it. You can make it with anything or everything you have in your refrigerator. It could be as simple or as extravagant as you like. Fall in love, like I did and reveal your personality through the delectable Russian Salad.

The Recipe

2 Boiled potatoes, peeled and cubed; 2 green apples, cored and cubed; 1 cup boiled chicken, shredded; 1 cup mixed vegetables like peas, cauliflower, french beans, carrots and broccoli; 1 cup grapes, deseeded; 1 orange, segmented; 1 pomegranate, seeds only for garnish; a bag of mixed lettuce leave, torn roughly; 1/4 cup cream; 1/4 cup mayonnaise; 1/2 cup curds; salt, sugar & pepper to taste.

Place vegetables, fruit(except the pomegranate), lettuce leaves and chicken in a large serving dish. Beat the mayonnaise, cream, curds, sugar, salt & pepper to taste. Pour over the contents in serving dish. Gently toss, to coat all the contents. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds, refrigerate and serve cold. The best part about this dish is that it can be made in large quantities (to serve hordes) and is a meal in itself. Eat plain or with bread or as a side dish. It's your choice.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Just Desserts

Strawberry Peach Exotica

This is a tantalising, colourful, beautiful dessert. Got the recipe from my sister Asha who is the Queen of Desserts. It is so simple a child could make it. Put it in a lovely glass bowl and enjoy its beauty. Makes your table look extra special.

The Recipe

1 cup tinned, sliced, peaches with 1/2 cup of the syrup; 1 cup sliced, fresh strawberries; 1/2 cup sweet liquer (ginger, pineapple, apricot or whatever you like); fresh cream or beaten yoghurt for serving. Mint leaves for garnish if desired.

Layer fruits in a beautiful, glass bowl. Pour the syrup and liqueur over. Refrigerate. Serve cold after dinner. The daring have it with cream, the rest make do with yoghurt.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Special

Peruvian Chicken

There's nothing quite like celebrating New Year with your family at home and that's what we did this year. Went for the morning service at St. Mary's and came back and made a fancy lunch, ably assisted by Nehru & Ranita with the cats hovering around hopefully, waiting for tit bits to come their way. This is a recipe I found some years ago while browsing the internet. Back then I did not know how to use the rotisserie function on my oven and kept putting it off every year. This year I roped in Nehru & Ranita and with their help served a delicious 3 course meal. The tantalising aromas that fill your house are worth the preparation time and the way the food disappears will certainly warm the cockles of your heart.

The Recipe

1 whole chicken, about 2 kgs; 4tbsp white vinegar; 3tbsp red wine; 3tbsp olive oil; 2 1/2tbsp garlic; 1 tsp chilli powder; 1 1/2tbsp jeera; 1tsp white pepper; 1 tsp salt;juice of 1 lime added to 3 litres cold water; 2 wooden skewers to secure the wings.

Trim the chicken of any excess fat. Wash thoroughly with the lemon water. Drain and get the spice mixture ready. Grind the vinegar, wine, oil, garlic,chilli powder, jeerapeper and salt to a thick, smooth paste. Rub all over the chicken - inside as well. Put as much as you can under the skin. Place in a container or zip lock bag and marinade for a minimum of 2 hours in the refrigerator. The longer you marinade it, the better the flavour. Not more than 24 hours though.
Preheat grill and prepare rotisserie. This is where the husband comes in. Get him to do the needful. Skewer the wings firmly and place chicken on the rotisserie and on the grill for approximately 1 1/2 hours at a temperature around 300 degrees F. (150 degrees C.) You'll know it's ready when enticing aromas spread into the house and your mouth starts watering. Remove when it's a lovely golden brown.

This chicken is also served with dipping sauce. Mix 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with 2 tbsp mustard and 2 tbsp lime juice.

I served it with Aromatic Ginger Fried Rice, Mixed Vegetables and Curd Salad.