Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the tag “homemade”

Slowcooked Coriander Chicken

I will be called incorrect for the usage of the term slow cooking but I’m purely talking from a personal perspective. No I don’t use a slow cooker not do I cook for hours end which old Royal recipes call for. I’ve always favoured easy and jiffy cooking but when I get the luxury to relax, I make myself a cup of fragrant Darjeeling, bring out a book I’ve been trying to finish. I sip and read while I slow cook whatever I’ve put on the gas.
There’s nothing to beat the smell of fresh coriander and I love using the herb as a flavour base in cooking rather than just relegating it to garnishing. The combination of chicken and coriander is simply a way to greet winter. It sums up beautifully what a winter afternoon should be like.
This slow cooked chicken dish has the perfect combination of spice and fragrance. It’s not too hot neither too bland and is best served on the centre of the table with rice and raita as accompaniments!

Ingredients
For Marination
500g chicken
3 tbs yoghurt
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
Pinch of salt

For Curry
Handful curry leaves
1 tbs black mustard seeds
Handful (or more) coriander (Chop the stalks and keep the leaves aside)
1 red chilly (deseeded, finely chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 tomato (chopped)
2 tbs tomato puree
Salt to taste
1 tbs vegetable oil

– Wash and clean the chicken pieces and add the ginger-garlic paste. Mix the spice powders with the yoghurt. Add to the chicken with a pinch of salt and let it marinade overnight.
– In a hot wok add the oil.
– Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once the seeds start to sputter add the chopped onion, garlic and red chilly. If you like it very hot, keep the chilly seeds in.
– Once this is well sauteed, add the coriander stalks.
– You’ll start to smell the frangrance of coriander in a bit. Add the tomato now and slowly let it become slightly mushy.
– Add the overnight marinaded chicken to this. Add the tomato puree and salt.
– Put the gas on low. Clamp on a lid and let it cook for about an hour.
– Halfway through, add some coriander leaves to the chicken and continue cooking.
– Garnish with more coriander leaves and eat hot with rotis/rice/bread.

A bowl of deliciousness!

A bowl of deliciousness! Top view!

Greens and chicken!

Greens and chicken!

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Nostalgic Egg and Vegetable Noodles

Bengalis have their quaint idiosyncrasies. We often get ridiculed for the ‘monkey caps’ in October or our love for Boroline (it IS a magic ointment, I swear) and of course the abundant respect for fish. Among all things, there has to have been that one moment when a Bengali child brought homemade Chinese to school which would be shared during a lunch break.
I don’t know much about other places but in Calcutta, one could buy these ‘Classic’ noodles from any shop. The maida (flour) noodles came in red coloured pouches which were about Rs 10 for a packet. When the tiffin boxes would be opened, a smell of homemade Chinese would engulf the air. With lots of vegetables of course, the noodles would be tossed with a dash of soy and vinegar and we would be very happy with that. The boxes would be passed around so all could take a bite. The days we felt rich, we would buy heavenly greasy noodles from the school canteen and share among us.
Recently, I had this craving for homemade noodles. As I searched the stocked shelves, I came across this red packet which instantly reminded me of school days and tiffin boxes. There was no question of not making them. But just to compensate for all the empty carbs, my fridge foraging led me to find lots of greens!

Ingredients
1 packet noodles (Use any sort – glass/rice/wheat/flour/egg)
1 egg (whisked)
1 carrot (julienne)
1 onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (smashed)
1 inch ginger (sliced)
1 capsicum (chopped fine)
1 bok choy (shredded)
3 button mushrooms (chopped)
1 small broccoli (chopped)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs dark soy
1 tbs chilly vinegar
1 tbs oyster sauce
Salt to taste

Favourite from the school days in Calcutta. Pix credit: Barnik Bardhan

Favourite from the school days in Calcutta.
Pix credit: Barnik Bardhan

– Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Drain and keep aside. Toss with a bit of oil to keep from sticking
– Heat 1 tsp sesame oil. Cook the egg tossing it about in the wok. When done, take out of wok and shred into small pieces
– Heat the remaining oil. Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute till fragrant
– Add the carrot, capsicum, mushrooms and bok choy.
– When the vegetables are slightly soft , coated well with the oil, add the vinegar, soy and oyster sauce.
– At last, add the shredded egg.
– Mix well and serve hot

A long view!

A long view!

Delicious dinner

Delicious dinner

PS: Best accompanied with a book, eating in bed!

Hot And Sour Chicken Soup with Brown Rice

I love soups. They are comforting and healthy (usually). I love those days when you want to stay in bed with a book and making soup to feed yourself hardly takes time. I love those snug winter evenings when only hot soups can warm you. This one time in Kathmandu, while winter was receeding and it wasn’t yet summer, only a homemade bowl of hot soup could uplift me! And those soups taste the best!
In the winters I prefer the thick continental ones which need to be pureed. In the summers I prefer more broth-based ones which are simple to make and easy on the stomach.
Most South East Asian broths call for handmade egg noodles in them. I prefer to add brown rice in mine because it’s healthier and makes a wholesome balanced meal. Devour a bowl and you’re left satisfied.
PS: Since I’ve been on this South-East Asian flavours swing for a couple of weeks now, making this over and over again is my excuse!
Ingredients
250g boiled chicken (shredded)
1 small carrot (chopped finely)
1 onion (chopped finely)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
2 tsp Tom Yum paste
1 cup button mushrooms (roughly chopped)
1 cup oyster mushrooms (shredded with hands)
1 litre chicken stock
1 lime (juiced)
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup brown rice
Salt to season
Handful bean sprouts
chives to decorate
1 tsp vegetable oil
– Heat the oil in a deep container which can hold a lot of liquid
– Sweat the carrots, onion and garlic till fragnant (about two minutes)
– Add the Tom Yum paste and saute till everything is a nice reddish colour
– Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil
– Then bring the stock to a gentle simmer. Add the mushrooms, salt, boiled chicken and brown rice.
– Clamp on a lid and let the soup be till the rice is cooked through. (about 10 minutes)
– Pour the lemon juice, fish sauce and give everything a good stir. Check for seasoning.
– Ladle a serving in a bowl, garnish with chives and bean sprouts!
A bowl of warmth in winter!

A bowl of warmth in winter!

Weekend Cupcakes – Orange with Chocolate and Coffee

Baking and I have never been THAT fond of each other . The reason – specific measurements. Unlike cooking, one can’t really wing it. (Who likes a cake that falls flat or lacks taste, right)
My grandmother loved to bake. She would bring out her many aluminum cake tins and make basic vanilla sponges or variations adding cocoa powder and/or essences. The kitchen would smell all buttery and vanilla-y, heaven really.
My younger sister has got that gene. She loves to bake. Though not often, when she gets into that zone, there’s no stopping her. It’s scary I tell you, especially when you’re dreaming of dancing with Patrick Swayze (when he picks you up as ‘Time of my Life’ plays all around) and instead get woken up rudely with the words “Cupcake time! You need to sift the flour.”
R tried two variations. Orange with chocolate and coffee with cocoa. Both with a gooey chocolate centre (dark and white) and dark chocolate icing. I can’t describe you how delicious they were as we gobbled them up with coffee. What are cheat days for after all!

Ingredients
For Cupcakes (Makes 12)
150g self-raising flour (half for each batch)
150g caster sugar (half for each batch)
150g butter (half for each batch)
2 eggs (1 for each batch)
2 tbs milk (1 for each batch)
3 tbs cocoa powder
Handful of milk and dark chocolate shards
1 tsp natural orange essence
2 tsp strong coffee

Icing
100g icing sugar
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tbs hot water

-Preheat oven to 190 C
-For each batch whisk together the butter, egg, milk and sugar. Sift in the flour.
-Add 1 tbs cocoa and orange essence in one. Add the 2 tbs cocoa and coffee in another. Whisk till you get a nice tasting mixture.
-Line the muffin tins with 12 cupcake wrappers. Carefully spoon in the mixture.
-Add shards of chocolate and then add another spoonful of mixture on top.
-Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Take out and cool.
-Make the icing in a bowl. Whisk all ingredients together and decorate the cupcakes.
-Enjoy with coffee, hot chocolate or just as it is!

Freshly baked and cooling

Freshly baked and cooling

All iced and ready to devour. My Jackson Pollock moment!

All iced and ready to devour. My Jackson Pollock moment!

Coffee and cupcakes!

Coffee and cupcakes!

Melt-in-your-mouth Asian Stir Fried Pork

My introduction to pork began at an early age via homemade spiced sausages, salamis, those gorgeous frankfurters that crackled over heat. I remember going to Goa when I was about 12 and polishing off a plate of spicy pork vindaloo with steaming white rice in a small shack on the beach. The sound of waves crashing, the feeling of cold sand touching my feet, the just-right weather – I can still visualise that day.
I was recently shopping at INA for fresh fruits and salad leaves when I crossed the meat section. On a whim I picked up this delicious lean cut of pork. With plenty of flavour combinations playing in my head, this basic South-East Asian style stir fry had to be the first.

Ingredients
250g lean pork (cut into bite sized pieces)
2 tsp oil
1 small onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 lime (juiced)
Handful of rocket leaves
Chives
For marinade:
3-4 Sichuan peppercorns (crushed)
1 star anise (crushed)
1 tsp demerara
2-3 tsp sesame oil
2-3 tsp oyster sauce
1-2 tsp dark soy
salt and black pepper to season
(I would suggest when making the marinade, start with the dry ingredients first and then add the wet ones)

Marinate the pork pieces overnight (half an hour minimum if you’re in a hurry)
Heat 1-2 tsp oil in a wok and add chopped onions and garlic. Once its sauteed, add the pork pieces. Cook till the pork has caramelised well on the outside and is tender on the inside. Add a bit of oyster sauce if need be.
Once cooked, take out the pieces to rest. Use lime juice to deglaze the pan and pour over the meat.
Serve with a side salad, steamed rice, stir fried veggies or a baguette!

Served on a bed of rocket leaves

Served on a bed of rocket leaves

When Roasted Veggies Are The Way To Go

I love simple food. It’s a life saver when you’re back from a 30-hour jet-lagged journey and exhausted. Recipes which call for a zillion ingredients and a lot of time, I don’t really have the patience for. So, when I opened the fridge to find two aubergines and tomatoes staring at me, shouting ‘eat me, eat me’, I just couldn’t help myself.
It’s November when the weather is neither hot or cold — just the perfect balance. A time you need comforting food for the troubled soul.
Out came the roasting pan and on the stove went a pot of salted water. In 30 minutes I was hungrily digging into a plate of roasted vegetables with Penne, topped with grated cheese all gorgeous and oozing with flavour.

Roasted Vegetables with Penne

Penne (handful)
2 tomatoes (chopped roughly)
2 aubergines (chopped roughly)
4-5 cloves of garlic (peeled)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs dried chilly flakes
Pinch of salt and sugar
Grated cheese (for garnishing)

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degree C.

Cook the Penne as per packet instructions in salted water.

In a roasting dish, put all the ingredients and toss so everything is coated with the oil. Cover with foil and pop into the over for 25 minutes.

By the time the vegetables are roasted, the pasta would have cooked. Keep aside a bit of the starchy water.

Mix the Penne with the vegetables. Add the water if there’s not enough sauce to coat everything.

Sprinkle with cheese and serve hot!

Hot and delicious! Hits the right spot

Hot and delicious! Hits the right spot

Homemade chicken and mushroom puffs

Do you know exactly how easy it is to make puff pastry at home? It is, I assure you. I never like making a dough (rotis are an Indian staple and I’d rather buy them than make them from scratch because something always ends up going wrong with the dough. But with my new-found confidence, that’s about to change, I say).
I was craving, and I really mean craving, for meat puffs that you find in little bakeries. Something you come across after a long walk or jog and as you bite into them, everything seems all right with the world. Since it was a sudden craving, and as they go, it’s difficult to find something you crave on such short notice, I asked myself ‘why not make them at home?’
I’m so glad I made them because as the buttery smell engulfed the kitchen and I saw the puffs turning golden brown in the oven, I couldn’t help but feel proud.

Homemade chicken and mushroom puffs
(Makes 4)
Ingredients
For filling
200g boneless chicken (cut into bite sized pieces)
150g button mushrooms (chopped)
1 small onion (sliced finely)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs dried thyme
Half glass Merlot
salt and pepper to taste
Handful chopped coriander

For pastry
250g rice flour
75g cold butter (if unsalted, add salt to the dough)
1cup water
1 egg (beaten)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C.

Start by mixing the flour with cold butter with your fingers in a bowl. Once the butter is mixed properly, bring the dough together with the water. Don’t overwork it. Make 4 disks of equal proportions.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the chopped onion and garlic cloves. When soft, add the chopped chicken, mushrooms, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Add the Merlot after cooking the mixture for 10 minutes. Put on a lid and let it come together. It would take about another 10-15 minutes for the filling to cook well. Add the coriander and mix together at the end.

Roll out each of the disks with an extra dusting of flour to a nice round shape about the size of your palm.

Divide the filling in four parts and place each in the centre of a disk. Brush the sides of the disk with egg and fold them in half like a calzone. Brush the top of the puff with the beaten egg. Do the remaining three puffs like the first and place on a baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes till nice and crisp. Serve with a salad!

Hot from the oven!

Hot from the oven!

PS: The filling tastes just as good with hot rice. Secondly, feel free to experiment with any sort of filling!

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