Assorted Vegetable Fritters (Pakodas)

When the monsoon hits the city, the pall of gloom is lifted away with these hot fritters coupled with sweet milky tea. I love the crisp outside with crunchy vegetables inside. It is so versatile that you could use almost any vegetable for this. Bring on the rains!

Ingredients
1 cup chickpea flour (Besan)
1 tablespoon rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 teaspoon red chili or paprika powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
3/4 cup water
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Assorted vegetables cubed or sliced fine such as cauliflower, onion, potatoes, capsicum & brinjal.

Method
Mix all the ingredients other than the oil and vegetables to make a paste of dropping consistency.
The batter should not be too think or it will soak up oil and mess your wok while frying.

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(C) LadlenSpoon

Heat oil in a deep wok. Drop a little batter in to check if it is hot enough. If it is, the dropped batter will float to the top sizzling.
Now coat all the vegetables one by one, and drop them into the hot oil.

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(C) LadlenSpoon
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(C) LadlenSpoon

Lightly brown on each side and use a slotted spoon to take them out onto a paper towel. Serve hot with a chutney or dipping sauce of your choice

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(C) LadlenSpoon

This is a great snack and can even be sandwiched between soft buttered bread.

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(C) LadlenSpoon
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Strawberry Mousse

This time of the year we get lovely juicy strawberries and they make the most wonderfully light and fluffy mousse. Try this simple and quick recipe and I am sure you will love it too.

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Ingredients

20 strawberries

1 sheet gelatin

2 egg whites

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 teaspoons water

1 and 1/2 cups whipping cream

10 drops lemon juice

1 sprig mint to decorate

Method 

Take 15 strawberries hull them and mash or puree them in a food blender. Warm the water and the gelatin to it making sure it dissolves. Whip the egg white to form peaks. Then slowly add sugar, making sure it is well amalgamated.

Whip the cream till soft peaks form. Fold the egg white mixture. Next add strawberry puree, lemon juice and gelatin  Mix well. Pour into a wet mould and refrigerate till it has set. Just before serving decorate with the remaining strawberries hulled and slice and a sprig of mint.

Cocktail Quiche

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When you have guests over for drinks and a small bite, nothing can be more stressing than the thought of what nibbles to make. This recipe for mini mushroom and spinach Quiche is ideal for a party or even dinner at home with family. The portabella mushrooms add a lovely meaty flavor to these Quiche.

Ingredients

Portabella mushrooms 8-10 large nos finely chopped

Button  mushrooms 15-20 small nos finely chopped

Green garlic finely chopped (fresh garlic with the leaves included), 1/3rd of a teacup

Green Onion finely chopped (spring onion, bulb and leaves), 3/4th of a teacup

1 bunch fresh spinach 2 teacups chopped roughly

1 medium spice green chili finely chopped

Pepper powder 1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Cornstarch or some thickening agent like wondra flour 1 & 1/2 tablespoons

20 tartlets cases or ready quiche pastry cases pre-baked

2 large eggs beaten well

125 gms grated Parmesan cheese

Olive oil 2 tablespoons

1 knob of butter

Method

Add oil to a skillet. Let it heat but not burn. Add a knob of butter to it. Now add the garlic and let it saute till golden. Add the green onions and chilli. Saute till the onions turn translucent. Now add your mushrooms and saute for another minute or so. Add the spinach and pepper. Saute well. The mixture will now leave water.

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Let most of the liquid dry. When only 1/4 of the liquid is left take some of the liquid aside and mix wondra or cornstarch well with it, making sure there are no lumps. Add this to the mixture and stir till it all comes together and thickens. Turn off the gas and let the mixture cool. Season with salt to taste.

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Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees. Take a baking tray and line it with tin foil. Now place the empty tart shells on the tray and spoon in some mushroom and spinach mixture till the tartlet is 2/3rds full.

In a bowl add the parmesan cheese to the beaten egg. Mix well. Fill the top of the tarlets to the top with this mixture. Now bake in the oven till the egg and cheese mix cooks and forms a crust. This should take 10-15 minutes. The tarlets will brown too a little.

Remove from oven and serve hot.

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You may add 2 tablespoons of chopped smoked bacon to the mushroom mix, but be sure to add less salt , as bacon tends to be a little salty.

Cheers!

 

 

Holiday Special Fruit & Nut Cake

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Christmas and The New Year are the most delightful holidays. It is the only time when I don’t mind spending all afternoon over the stove cooking and stirring away. In fact the mere thought of it warms the cockles of my heart.  Like every year, this year too I made my special holiday cake, which is apt not just for Christmas day but for every day leading up to and post festivity. I prefer to use orange juice to soak my fruit in as I have a little child but there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy this with alcohol in it. I’m going to tell you how you can do that after you have baked the cake following the original recipe. Happy New Year everyone. I hope that you make and enjoy this cake as much as my family did.

Ingredients

Mixed dry fruit 350 gm ( I use a mix of sultanas, mixed fruit peel, figs, cranberries and apricots)

350 gm mixed nuts chopped (use pecans, walnuts, almonds)

200 ml of natural unsweetened orange juice

120 gm Butter plus extra for greasing the cake tin

120 gm soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

Orange zest 1/3 teaspoon

Lemon zest 1/2 teaspoon

3 Eggs medium-large sized

1 tablespoon of marmalade or any tart jam such as plum or apricot.

80 gm almond powder (Just powder whole almond in a blender till coarse)

170 gm plain flour

1 teaspoon of mixed spice (cloves 8-10, cinnamon 1 inch stick, 1/4 ginger powder, half a nutmeg nut)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond essence

Pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter

30 ml warm water

60 ml of your choice of alcohol (Brandy, Rum etc)

A square or round tin 8 inches (for the regular cake) and one loaf tin (for the alcohol version)

Method

Place all the mixed dry fruit (sultanas, mixed fruit peel, figs, cranberries and apricots) in a glass bowl and add the orange juice. Refrigerate for at least a day so that the fruit swells up soaking all the orange juice.

Pre-heat your oven to 140-150 degrees centigrade/ gas mark 2. Line your cake tins with butter and double thickness baking parchment and then some more butter on the inside. The parchment should be 2 inches above the cake tin.

Next in a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar. Then add the lemon and orange zest. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each egg is added. Then add the marmalade or jam.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and spice mix together. Add the almond powder, sifted flour, fruit and nuts alternately and using a big wooden spoon, fold all the ingredients together.  Slowly add a little warm water if the mixture feels dry. Last of all add the almond essence and mix thoroughly.

Put the cake mix half in the round tin and half in the loaf tin. Bake for one hour. Since ovens vary in temperature keep a look out to see that the cake isn’t browning to fast. If you feel its cooking too fast on the top cover the cake top with some tin foil. Check the cake in the center with a skewer or spaghetti stick to see if it’s cooked closer to time.

Let the cake cool in the tin before you cut it to prevent it from going dry. Refrigerate and store for up to a week.

The cake in the loaf tin when cool is ready to soak up the alcohol. Make small holes on the top with a spaghetti stick and slowly pour the alcohol into the holes. Let it rest. If you like it more intense you could keep the cake in the refrigerator for a day and again soak it the next day in some more alcohol.

Lazy Sunday Spaghetti

The day I don’t feel up to cooking I make this all in one dish for my family. It’s a hearty meal and my son loves it. It is ready in a jiffy and much of it is out of a can. Its my lazy Sunday quick fix.

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 can of baked beans, you could use any other canned beans too

1 tablespoon fresh or dried oregano

1 bunch spring onion

Half a packet of spaghetti boiled al-dente as per packet instructions (i.e just a little undone but not mushy)

1/2 teaspoon mixed Italian seasoning herbs

6 cloves garlic grated

1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes soaked in half a cup of warm water

1 green chili (mild heat)

Method

Heat oil in a wok. Add the whites of the spring onions chopped fine and saute for a minute. Reserve the green stalks for later. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Now add the oregano and Italian seasoning. Saute till you get a nice aroma of the herbs. Now add the baked beans and the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the water in which the tomatoes have soaked as well. Now add one finely chopped green chili. Mix well till you get a thick sauce. Lastly add the spaghetti and garnish with the green stalks of spring onion chopped fine. Serve hot with garlic bread.

 

 

 

Kashmiri Mutton Rogan Josh

This traditional kashmiri dish is loaded with flavors like I have never tasted before. The original recipe calls for a root called ratanjot which gives this dish a unique red colour but in the absence of that I have used kashmiri chili powder which is sweeter in taste than regular chili powder and also gives that beautiful red colour.  The kashmiri pandits do not use garlic or onion to make this dish but I’ve added it to give the sauce a bit more body. I recently made this for a party and hence cooked almost 3kg of meat but the recipe has been adapted to make smaller quantities.

Ingredients

Mutton (lamb) 1 kg

Whole spices (4 cloves, a few threads of mace, black cardamom, 1/2 inch cinnamon, 3 bay leaves, 3 green cardamom, 6 black peppercorns)

1 small onion chopped fine

2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste

Mustard oil – 2 tablespoon

Curd beaten – half a cup

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon of sugar

2 tablespoon of dry Kashmir chili powder mixed in a little water

2 teaspoons dry ginger powder

3 teaspoons aniseed (saunf) powder

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoon garam masala powder

Half a cup ghee (clarified butter)

Half a teaspoon of asafoetida powder

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder

Method

Marinate the meat with ginger garlic paste, mustard oil and salt and leave it aside. Preferably marinate the meat a day before if you can, but if you can’t then at least for a couple of hours, it makes the meat tender.

In a large wok, heat clarified butter. Add the whole spices and cumin. When it turns fragrant add the onion and brown lightly. Next add the marinated meat and cook on a slow flame sealing the meat and browning it. Add salt to taste and the sugar. It will leave water, dry up all the liquid.

Next add the asafoetida, kashmir chili paste and yogurt. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes on a slow flame till the meat is cooked. If the liquid had dried up you can add a little water.

Lastly add the ginger powder, nutmeg powder, aniseed powder and the garam masala. Cook for another 5 minutes and server hot with rice or Indian bread like naan.

 


You may even make the gravy thinner by adding more water to it. I like to add potatoes too but that is optional.

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Banana, Date & Walnut Muffins

I have a fussy toddler who won’t touch fruit or dry fruit but loves muffins and cupcakes and so I’ve had to come up with this quick and disguised recipe to get him to eat something that is healthy but fun. I have used the classic combination of dates and walnuts with banana, but you may use orange, almond and raisin or apple, cinnamon and raisin etc. If you are using orange add some orange juice, grated rind and orange segments. You may even try making these with candied fruit.

Ingredients

2 eggs yolks separated from whites, whisk the whites till they form peaks and keep aside

Half a cup of chopped black dates

Half a cup of chopped walnuts

100 gm sifted all-purpose flour

100 gm soft unsalted butter

100 gm castor sugar

2 tablespoons warm water

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 soft over-ripe banana mashed

Pinch of salt

Method


Take butter, sugar and egg yolks and beat them together till they form a golden-yellow soft mixture.

Slowly add the flour, salt and baking powder sifted together one tablespoon at a time. Beat the mixture well. Then add the mashed banana, dates and walnuts. Add warm water to the mix to get it to blend well.

Lastly fold in the beaten egg white and makes sure all lumps are removed. Try not to overwork the mixture.

Grease a muffin mold or place cupcake paper on a tray and spoon in 2 tablespoons of mixture.  Leave space for it to rise.

Bake in a pre-heated over for 25 minutes at 160-180 degree till a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean and the top of the muffin has browned evenly.

Cool and enjoy. They keep refrigerated for up to a week.