Black pepper chicken curry


The first time I ever had this chicken curry was at my brother’s house and he’d tweaked several version over the years to find a perfect format to cook this delicacy because one bite and I was hooked, so lush and delectable was this particular chicken curry that I had to ask him for the recipe which he most graciously provided and so here I am, trying to do justice by cooking it exactly as he’d asked me, because the point of this whole recipe is the different stages and the precise ways of cooking.

The gravy is a rich velvety emulsion of tomatoes, onions and spices and the consistency can vary according to what one likes to eat it with. Thicker gravy for when you eat it with bread and a bit thinner if eaten with rice, though I must say that it’s rice which brings out, almost helps to bloom each flavour of this curry. Rice provides, in my opinion, a better base than bread for this chicken curry and so I’ve cooked this accordingly.


Spices for chicken marinade. Turmeric, Black pepper and some lemon.

add spices to the chicken

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squeeze in the lemon and throw in the rind while marinating and add some oil.

Rub the spices into the chicken and cover to let marinate for an hour.

Ingredients for onion gravy

To make onion gravy, which is really the base of this curry we need a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick, some cardamom seeds sans green shell, a few cloves, some garlic and onions which will go into a blender to get a smooth spice enriched onion paste.

So we have an onion paste made with all the spices and some crushed tomatoes which I made by blending one large tomato.

To make the curry, add some oil to a wok or pan of choice and let it come to near smoking, after which add the now marinated chicken and let sear boldly on one side until deliciously bronzed before turning.

make sure both sides are nicely golden.

Let it sear on the second size and bear with me while I do this because it might come as something odd, but we will make the curry in the wok with the chicken still in it instead of fishing it out.


Add the onion paste and cook continuously taking care that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

the onion paste should begin thickening after a few minutes

Once thickened add garam masala, salt and plenty of black pepper and stir well to combine

Once all the spices are mixed in add the crushed tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until you reach a thickened gravy consistency

Once the tomatoes have cooked in with the onions add some chicken stock or water.

Little by little while continuously stirring

Add some more black pepper and stock/water until you reach the desired consistency and let cook.

Add a half teaspoon of sugar to balance out the tastes. This won’t sweeten the curry. Cook and check for seasonings. Add salt if needed and let bubble away covered for at least 5 minutes.

Serve Hot!


Ingredients

For the marinate

Chicken: 300g
Black pepper: 1 tsp
Turmeric: 1tsp
Oil: 1/2tsp
Lemon: 2 tsp

Marinate the chicken with the spices, lemon and oil and let rest for an hour or overnight in the fridge.

Ingredients for curry

Chicken: 300g bone in
Cicken stock or water: 250-400mls
Onion: 1 large or 2 small
Garlic cloves: 3-4
Bay leaf: 1
Cloves:2-3
Cinnamon stick: 1
Caradmom seeds: from 2-3 pods
Black pepper: 2-3 tsps
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Tomatoes: 1 large or 2 small

Blend together the onions, cinnamon stick, garlic cloves, bay leaf and cardamom pods to a paste and crush tomatoes separately.

Note:  use only the seeds and not the green shells of the cardamom pods.


Recipe instructions

In a large wok heat oil and add the marinated chicken to sear on both sides. Once each side is evenly brown add the onion paste and cook until golden and fragrant.

Sprinkle in garam masala, salt and a teaspoon of black pepper and cook for a minute before adding in the crushed tomatoes and cook until gravy is thickened and the tomatoes aren’t raw anymore.

Add in the stock or water in small batches stirring it in continuously to homogenize with the mixture until the desired consistency has reached and add in the remaining black pepper and sugar and let the curry bubble away another 5 minutes covered.

Finally check for seasonings and add salt if needed.

Serve over a bed of hot rice or with flatbreads.

Taiwanese pineapple cakes


It was a new dimension of desserts for me the first time I ever ate these little cakelets which somehow blur the thin line between shortbread cookies and cakes and in fact these are stuffed in the middle with a sweet pineapple filling, one bite is all it takes get transported into a sweet dreamy land of flaky crust and delicious jam.

These are irresistible if anything and my dear Taiwanese friends who were kind enough to share these treats informed me of their importance in their culture as a staple during coffee, tea or snack time and even shared the recipe which I used to make a version of my own which though not nearly as beautiful as the ones they shared comes decently close in taste. 

The pineapple cakes have a particular mould which one can easily buy but I tried improvising and came to the conclusion that making them in their particular moulds would be a far better option, however, if you want to try them just as then, by all means, use a muffin tin as I did as I’m about to show you.

Ingredients for the pineapple jam filling

 Cook the crushed pineapples on medium hot flame 

until they begin releasing water and add lemon juice

once most of the water is cooked off add cinnamon

and sugar

the pineapple mixture will become wet once again after the addition of sugar so keep cooking and stirring until it’s thickened to a paste. Chill the jam for an hour before forming cakes so that it slightly firms up.

ingredients for shortcrust pastry case

I made this using a processor but you can use these just as easily with a wooden spoon. Mix together the butter and sugar

until evenly combined

add egg yolk and mix

and tip in flour, baking powder, cheese and milk powder mixture and evenly combine

until it comes together and begins to clump

form into a dough without kneading it much and shape into a log

and slice into equal portions. You don’t have to be precise because you can always add or remove some dough during the cake forming process.

Roll each part into a rough circle about 1.5-2 inches in diameter.

and now for the fun part that’s filling each casing with the now cooled pineapple jam. Add about 2 tsp worth in the middle of the pastry.

and fold so that opposite ends meet in the middle. Squeeze them together with thumb and index finger smoothing the seam and form into a ball.

Place into muffin tins if you do not have a mould and press gently before baking at 170º for 10 minutes

and then flipping them over to brown on both sides. Bake again for another 10-15 minutes

until they’re lightly golden. Some of them broke in the process but that didn’t keep them from tasting remarkable. Let them cool for at least 10-15 minutes before eating because they’re hot and extremely soft. Their shortcrust casing gets firmer with time and somehow I like them better when they’re firm so I let mine be for a couple hours.

I also tried making some free-form ones and concluded that these are better off aesthetically in their respective moulds but they taste just as divine even in their unorthodox shapes.

They aren’t as difficult as one would think, just a little time consuming if you are new to their realm which I was and to eat one of these is to know how different these cookie cakes can be and the pure pleasure that something so tiny is capable of imparting in each bite.


Ingredients for the jam filling 

  • Pineapple- 500g (use fresh or tinned)
  • White sugar- 50g (1/4 cup)
  • Brown sugar- 50g (1/4 cup)
  • Lemon juice: 1 Tsp
  • Cinnamon powder- 1/4 tsp (optional)

Ingredients for shortbread dough

  • Butter- 100g
  • Sugar – 45g
  • Parmesan cheese- 10g
  • Milk powder- 10g
  • Egg yolk – 1
  • Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Flour- 130g

Recipe instructions

Make the jam filling by crushing the pineapples in a food processor and cooking over medium heat until the water begins evaporating. Add lemon juice, cinnamon powder if using and brown and white sugar and cook until the jam is thickened.

Chill until further use.

Mix together the flour, parmesan cheese, baking powder and milk powder in a bowl and set aside.

Make the pastry by mixing butter and sugar using a processor or wooden spoon. The butter shouldn’t be cold. Add the egg yolk to the mix and evenly combine before adding the flour mixture. Mix them but do not knead and form a shortcrust pastry until the mixture begins to clump.

Lightly form into a log shape and cut into even pieces.

Roll each piece into a 1.5-2 inch circle and fill the middle of each with 1-2 tsp of the now chilled pineapple jam.

Form into a smooth ball by squeezing together the opposite ends and smoothening the seams.

Press into moulds or muffin tray putting gentle pressure to flatten each cake.

bake at 170ºc for 10 minutes and flip over the cakes to bake on the other side for another 10-15 minutes until evenly browned.

Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

Can be eaten fridge cold or warm.

Enjoy!

Cardamom coffee cake


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It’s been sometime since I posted a cake recipe on this blog and what better to break the monotony than a coffee cake. The thing about coffee cakes is that apart from pairing ‘oh so beautifully’ with a strong cup of caffeine they are scrumptious just on their own for moments when you want to eat something sweet but not overwhelmingly so.

Cardamom is such a rich exotic spice with an almost romantic ring to it with curious undertones of mystery and an enticing allure of the East so rare in cakes and with a crispy crumb on top this cake is two layers of delicious, resonating with cardamom in each bite, hefty with flavours and yet symbiotically submitting when paired with a cup of coffee or even tea, because cardamom does go well with tea.

 

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these ingredients might seem like a lot but that’s only because there are two parts to this cake. A crispy nutty crumb and a base cake.

 

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first with the crumb topping. Into a bowl add flour (please excuse the lighting)

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walnuts

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brown sugar

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cardamom

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and mix with a fork until ingredients are equally dispersed.

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finally add room temperature butter to form the crumbs

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mix thoroughly

 

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until nice fat crumbs or rather buttery nutty lumps are formed. Set aside.

 

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for the dry ingredients in a separate bowl mix sugar, flour

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baking powder, baking soda

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and cardamom

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mix well and keep aside

 

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Now we get mixing to wet ingredients and also learn how exactly galaxies came to be formed. In a clean bowl add coconut oil

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vanilla extract and coffee

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milk and eggs

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check out your handywork at creating the universe

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now for some orange liquor

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and a quick whisk to disperse everything

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into a murky reality

 

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now it’s just a question of adding the wet to the dry, much like life.

 

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and stirring it all together to form a lovely terracotta mixture of cardamom flavoured dreams.

 

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pour into a well greased baking tin

 

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top with buttery crumbs

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take a moment to gaze at the beauty that is this cardamom crumb cake before plunging it into the depths of a furnace that is your oven to bake at 200º for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean

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after 45 minutes this is what you’ll be rewarded with.  beautifully bronzed looking slab of spiced haven.

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let it rest for at least ten minutes before taking it out of the tin. It’ll be a moist flavourful cake with a rather delicious, even crispy topping. It’s the crumb topping that offsets flavours of this cake, giving it texture that comes in with a surprising cardamom punch.

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serve warm with a strong cup of love.



Ingredients 

For the crumb topping:

Flour: 60g (1/2cup)

Walnuts: 60g (1/3cup)

Butter: 80g  (1/3cup)

Brown sugar: 80g (1/3cup)

Cardamom: 3/4 tsp

Note: I used regular cardamom pods and crushed the seeds to make a rough powdered texture

For the cake:

Flour: 150g (2cups)

Sugar: 145g (3/4cup)

Baking soda: 1/2 tsp

Baking powder: 1 heaped tsp

Eggs: 2

Cardamom: 1 tsp

Vanilla extract: 1tsp

Coconut oil: 120mls (1/2cup)

Coffee: 60mls (double shot)

Milk: 65mls (1/3cup)

Orange liqueur (optional): 30 mls (single shot)


Recipe instructions:

making crumbs: mix together walnuts, flour, brown sugar and cardamom. Add the butter and using either fingers or a fork mix everything together until it forms crumbs.

making cake: Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and cardamom and keep aside.

In a separate bowl whisk together coconut oil, vanilla, eggs, coffee and orange liqueur if using and once blended well pour into the dry ingredients and mix to form batter. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with crumb toppings. Bake at 200º for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let it rest for an additional 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Chicken katsu


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Chicken katsu, one of those exquisitely done Japanese morsels of fried cutlet done just right. Golden, crunchy and juicily subtle. These breaded pieces of fried chicken encompass the elegance that somehow a chicken bucket does not. Either cut into dainty strips or fried in small portions, chicken Katsu is a sure fire easy as breath and quick to jeuje up fantastical dish that everyone can easily have in their repertoire.

 

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it’s done pretty much the same way you would these fish fingers    . The principles are the same and so is the technique, though you can play around with how you’d like these cutlets to taste.  The usual fare of eggs, garlic powder, salt, pepper, flour, bread crumbs and chicken breasts that I have sliced into fillets.

The one thing to note here is that instead of regular breadcrumbs Panko breadcrumbs would be more appropriate while preparing katsu, but all I could find in the grocery store were ‘Japanese style breadcrumbs’. 

 

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begin by seasoning the chicken with garlic powder

 

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pepper

 

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and salt

 

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smoosh them together until chicken is well coated and let it rest while we get on with the breading station.

 

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I used two plastic food bags to coat and bread the chicken because I didn’t think I wanted to wash too many dishes, and this just works.

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Season the breadcrumbs with some paprika because it helps brings out a better colour when fried.

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flour in another plastic food bag.

 

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so here you have it. the stage is set for frying

 

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Into the flour

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coat it well

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followed by an egg bath

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after which a casual lay about in grainy crumbs

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you can also scrunch about the plastic bag to make sure it’s all coated.

 

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It hardly takes time and before you know it, there are three richly swaddled pieces of chicken sitting pretty on your station.

 

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You can deep fry these if you want, but I’m totally into shallow frying things, because deep frying makes me nervous.

 

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Lay these gently in a pan once the oil is hot and cook each side for 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness of chicken pieces until the outside is bronzed and crisp while the insides retain their juiciness without being overdone or undercooked.

 

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fish them out on a paper towel to let them drain

 

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check for doneness if you want. This one was well done, moist and delightfully flavourful

 

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serve with fresh vegetables or salad or even fries if you want. I like mine with a bit of steamed broccoli.


Chicken katsu Ingredients

Bread crumbs: 75 g (1 cup)

Flour: 60g (1/2 cup)

Garlic powder: 1 tsp

Pepper: 1/2 tsp

Salt: 1/2 tsp (the image shows 1 tsp, but 1/2 tsp should be enough, or to taste)

Paprika: 1/2 tsp

Eggs: 2

Chicken breast: 150 g either sliced to fillets or flattened out to quicken and ensure even cooking.

Oil for frying


Recipe instructions – Coat the chicken evenly with garlic powder, pepper and salt and let it marinade for a few minutes.

In separate dishes assemble the eggs, flour and breadcrumbs. Add paprika to the breadcrumbs.

Coat the chicken first with flour, followed by eggs and then breadcrumbs.

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, slowly place the breaded chicken pieces. Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side until the exterior is crisped up well and the insides are cooked. It’s for this reason you don’t want to use a thick piece of meat.

Drain on a paper towel for a minute and cut through to check for doneness.

Serve hot and crunchy with a cooling salad or steamed vegetables.

Enjoy!

 

 

Fish finger sandwich


 

DSC_0338A little backstory on fish fingers from my nostalgic archives. The first time I ever had these was when I was little, nay, wee, hardly a sapling of sorts and my dad had ordered a plate of fish fingers and it was the first time ever I’d set my eyes on something that literally looked like fingers, smelled like fried food and came crumbed in crunchy bits of golden deliciousness.

I had only to bite into them to begin a life long, albeit clandestine love affair with all things crunchy, fried and finger like.

I’d no idea something coming from the aquarium could ever taste so wonderful, and of course as I grew up I since learnt that fish from aquariums aren’t meant to be eaten (usually) and that ones that grow up in rivers and seas are far better, and I’ve since then had a good share of fish fingers tucked in my belly (they sometimes show on weekends) and also gained more insight that as wonderful as they are on their own, they taste even better sandwiched between slices of delicious bread. It could be a carb thing, but fish finger sandwich is a more complete meal, whereas fish fingers are, umm, finger food.

So, for days that need to be substantially filled with something comforting, something extravagant and something out of the ordinary, fish finger sandwich is the answer.

 

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You need a boneless fillet of any sturdy fish. This is a commonly found basa fillet

 

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that I’ve cut into finger wide pieces and lightly salted on both sides. This not only flavours the fish from inside, since there will be many coatings on it, but also helps tighten the raw fish a bit, so it can stand the shallow frying without breaking apart.

 

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Now it’s just a question of assembly. Something of a conveyor belt procedure. I have here a plate of flour, eggs and breadcrumbs

 

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and this is also the part where you can season this dish. I like to season bread crumbs, because that’s the first element to come in contact with your mouth once you bite into these fish fingers. So a cracking rain of fresh pepper.

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imbued with the redness of smoked paprika. It’s these colour from paprika that’ll come through in tones of red orange once the fish fingers are fried.

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so the eggs are beaten, the crumbs are seasoned.

 

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and thus begins the first layering, wherein salted fingers of sliced fish are first placed in flour

 

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to be coated generously on both sides, Be sure to shake off the excess flour

 

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and dip in beaten eggs for the second coating

 

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followed by a burial in gravel like seasoned breadcrumbs for the third and final coat.

 

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This is what all my fish fingers looked like, I let them sit before frying so the final stage could be executed with all the efficiency of a kitchen virtuoso, who could hardly wait to get her hands on these sumptuous  lovelies.

 

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One could deep fry them, but shallow frying is just so much easier, not to mention safer. Fry in a couple tablespoons of oil on a medium high flame.

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I used a fork to turn them on all sides to get an even tan, and added more oil when needed. Never said it was a low calorie recipe.

 

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This was the first fried batch, and I let excess oil drain out on a paper towel. Somewhere around this time I also realized that one single fish fillet ended up making a good many fish fingers and that meant leftovers! Praise be lord.

 

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whip out your favourite bread. I used a whole wheat mini baguette for no reason other than I had this on hand. Spread copious amounts of butter. yes, butter is important.

Now if only someone had at this moment told me that my plate of choice is totally the colour of fish fingers and that it’s going to camouflage the entire sandwich in pictures, I’d have kissed that person on the mouth I tell ya..alas, no help was forthcoming since I was alone and my cat wouldn’t warn of incoming death let alone suitable plates.

 

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spread generously some mayonnaise, a layer of greens (spinach in my case) and tomatoes. In short get all the fixings you’d like in a sandwich. You could be as elaborate or minimal as you like. This is YOUR sandwich.

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layer on them fried fish fingers and voila! You have the most fabulous fish sandwich ever. It’s absolutely out of the world. Crunchy, filling with the distinct flavours of a well cooked fish encased in crispy crumbs entombed in buttery bread with all the fixings. This makes for such a lovely meal that you’d be left reminiscing this moment during your darkest hours. I speak from experience.

But wait! this isn’t the end. What do you do with the remaining fish fingers.

WEll, you can have them as is, or make another breakfast sandwich the next day.

 

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which is precisely what I did. A no frill white bread sandwich, with a layer of butter, a slice of cheese and remaining fish fingers.

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breakfast of ever fattening gods.

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Ingredients

Standard boneless fish fillet  : 1

Salt: 1/2 tsp (or more to taste)

Pepper: 1/2 tsp

Paprika: 1 tsp

Flour: 1 cup (120gms)

Eggs : 2

Breadcrumbs: 100gms (1 cup)

Oil for frying: 3-4 tbsps

For sandwich

Slices of bread or a baguette

Spinach or lettuce leaves: 3-4

Tomato: one small

Butter: 1/2 tbsp

Mayonnaise: 2 tsp

(you can customize this sandwich to your liking. Add mustard or cheese slices or pickles)


Recipe instructions

Cut finger wide pieces of fish and lightly salt on both sides. Keep aside.

Arrange three separate dishes for flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. Season the bread crumbs with paprika and pepper and beat the eggs well.

Coat each fish slice with flour. Shake off excess flour and dip into eggs until well coated and finally coat with seasoned bread crumbs till all fish fingers are well crumbed

Shallow fry on medium high heat in enough oil to make it golden and crunchy. Don’t add too many fish fingers in one pan. Add more oil as needed.

Once evenly fried and golden on all sides take them out and let drain on a paper towel.

Smother bread slices with butter and apply a layer of mayonnaise for sandwich. Add a layer of crunchy spinach and juicy tomatoes and top with as many fish fingers as your sandwich can accommodate.

Fish finger sandwich is now ready.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Spicy baked chicken and potatoes


DSC_0275When you can feel the carnivore inside of you bubbling with primal instincts to tear into something meaty, something delicious and spicy, this chicken recipe with potatoes is just the thing. Savagely inoculated with flavours on a loudspeaker, there is nothing remotely subtle about this dish. It’s deliciously loud with mouthwatering piquancy, tender, juicy of flesh and drool inducing. The balance of tastes rendered stupefyingly lush with succulent aromas is so heady that it’ll send your entire house warming with tempting incense of tantalizing proportions.

Cooking it with potatoes just makes it a more complete meal, and there’s nothing more you’d wish for a better lunch.

 

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It doesn’t involve much in the way of fanfare, and most ingredients are easily available. Chicken drumsticks, olive oil, honey, crushed garlic, oregano, cumin powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, lemon juice and potatoes. I’ve used two different kinds of potatoes, but feel free to use whatever potatoes you like or have on hand.

 

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for tender, juicier results we want to marinade the chicken for which you begin by slashing said chicken down to the bone. This helps with even cooking, and lets the spices penetrate in deep.

 

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The marination is easy. Mix all the spices in a bowl

 

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along with lemon juice

 

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honey

 

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and olive oil

 

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mix it all together to form a sort of paste.

 

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Coat the drumsticks in the the marinade, making sure it’s seriously coated.

 

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cover with a cling wrap and let it marinade in the fridge for a couple hours. You can do this bit of activity sometime during breakfast if you want to make it for lunch.

 

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Prep your potatoes by cutting into bite sized cubes

 

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drizzle a bit of olive oil

 

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and a bit of salt. Nothing else needs be done to the potatoes.

 

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Be sure to take the chicken out of the fridge at least 15 minutes before baking, so as to allow them to come to room temperature.

 

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give it a final quick mix in the marinade before baking

 

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place drumsticks on a bed of potatoes and bake at 200° for 30-35 minutes

 

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about half way between baking time pull out the chicken and slather all the remaining marinade on top and under using tongs to rotate these pieces to get an even marination.

You won’t believe how good it smells.

 

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This is it! they’re done. Let them rest for a few minutes before chomping in. Tender, moist, juicy, succulent. They’re so delicious you’d have to find another word for delicious, and don’t even get me started on the potatoes that have soaked in the flavours from the marinade and turned into crispy pieces of delectable spuds. YUM!

 

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Ingredients

Chicken drumsticks: 3-4 in nos.

Potatoes: 2 in nos (1 sweet and 1 regular baking potato)

olive oil: 1 tsp

salt: 1/4 tsp

For the marinade

Crushed garlic: 1 Tbsp (2-3 garlic cloves)

Dried oregano: 1 Tbsp

Cumin powder: 1 Tbsp

Paprika: 1 Tbsp

Crushed black pepper: 1/2 Tbsp

Salt: 1 tsp

Lemon juice: 2 Tbsps

Honey: 1 tsp

Olive oil: 4 Tbsps (60 mls)


Recipe instructions

Make slashes on the chicken drumsticks to the bone, especially on its thickest parts, and make sure the meat has no water sticking to it or dry it with a paper towel. This helps the marinade cling better.

For the marinade, mix all the spices, salt and crushed garlic in a bowl along with lemon juice, honey and olive oil. (the addition of honey doesn’t sweeten anything except balance the tartness and spiciness of the marinade). Give it a good mix until everything is well incorporated and toss in the chicken. Use tongs for even coverage of the mixture on the meat.

Cover and let rest in the fridge for a few hours before baking.

Pull it out of the refrigerator at least 10-15 minutes before baking time to let it come to room temperature, thus ensuring even baking.

Chop potatoes into bite sized cubes and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt. Cover baking tray with aluminium foil and place the potatoes and chicken drumsticks. Bake in a preheated oven at 200° for 30-35 minutes.

Halfway between baking time pull the chicken out of the oven and drizzle all the remaining marinade to coat or rather smother it, using tongs to flip the chicken on all sides to soak up the marinade.

Bake it for remaining time and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

NOTE: To know whether the chicken is done, insert a knife in the thickest part of the drumstick, and if the juices run clear then it’s cooked. If the juices are still red then you need to put it back into the oven.

Serve on a warm plate.

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Enjoy!!

 

 

 

Coconut peanut noodles


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Coconut peanut noodles in a soup or rather soupy peanut noodles to be more precise. But what’s in a name, any noodle in this broth would taste as fabulous, which is the gorgeous alchemy of cooking. It’s really about how different ingredients marry each other to form something so deliciously splendid that you’re left licking the contents of the bowl to the last ceramic whiff.

There are Thai tones to this dish, what with the astringent uplifting bouquet of lemongrass that harmonizes ever so perfectly with the moody mellowness of coconut milk and peanut butter, it is strictly speaking not exactly Thai as globally Asian. It tends to borrow and makes something of its own and that’s really the beauty of home cooking.

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What’s really great about this noodle bowl is that it came into existence simply out of necessity to get rid of forgotten bits of vegetables and shrimps languishing about in the vegetable drawer and freezer. There are mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, spring onions, lemongrass, garlic, coconut milk, peanut butter, shrimps, dried red chillies (also the name of this blog), soy sauce and water. Phew. And really, you could omit or add anything to your liking. If I happened to have some other vegetables this lineup would look a bit different.

 

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also some noodles. Use whatever noodles you fancy. I’m using some sweet potato starch noodles.

 

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We begin rather ceremoniously with a bit of vegetable chopping.

 

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followed by lemongrass smashing, and this step is important because it starts releasing all the flavours that stay compacted in this stem of wonders.

 

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saute sliced green onions (mostly the white part) and garlic in oil.

 

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throw in the chillies

 

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once a wall of fragrance hits your face, throw in chopped mushrooms and keep sauteing

 

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and a bit of salt

 

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in the meanwhile start cooking your noodles in boiling water.

 

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throw in the smashed lemongrass and cook for about a minute

 

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after which we pour in some water. Let it come to a gentle simmer

 

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and add coconut milk.

 

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let the flavours mingle and come to a simmer

 

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add in peanut butter

 

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and soy sauce

 

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stir everything together and we are greeted with this gorgeous fawn coloured broth that smells of heaven. Cover and let it come to a bubble

 

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Like so

 

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Finally, add shrimps

 

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and vegetables. Cover and cook until it comes to a boil.

 

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Finally, turn off the heat and fish out whatever remains of lemongrass. It has done its job. By now your kitchen is exploding into aromatic pops.

 

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Place cooked noodles in a bowl and pour over the peanut coconut soup

 

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garnish with spring onion greens or coriander.

 

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and serve hot!


Ingredients

Noodles of your choice: 1 packet or 1 nest

Chopped vegetables: 60g (1 cup)

Assorted mushrooms: 150g (2 cups)

Shrimps (optional): 70g (1/2 cup)

Coconut milk: 200mls (3/4 cup)

Water: 200mls (3/4 cup)

Peanut butter : 2 heaped tbsps (1/4 cup)

Garlic: 2 cloves

Spring onions: 2-3

Dried red chillies (optional): 2-3

lemon grass: 1 stalk

soy sauce: 4 tbsps

Oil: 1 tbsp



Recipe instructions:

cook noodles and reserve cooked noodles into a bowl.

Chop vegetables, green onions and garlic into bite sized pieces.

Smash the lemongrass stalk to release its oils.

Heat oil in a wok and add white part of green onions and garlic and saute until fragrant. Add dried red chillies and saute for a few more seconds and add in the mushrooms, lemongrass and cook for a minute. Add in salt and water and let it come to a light simmer.

Add coconut milk and let it come to a slight simmer again, after which add in peanut butter and soya sauce. Stir to combine and make sure peanut butter doesn’t settle in a lump. Cover and let it bubble, finally adding in the shrimps and chopped vegetables. Cover  and let bubble again.

Once it’s come to a boil, turn off the gas and fish out lemongrass stalk.

Pour peanut coconut broth over cooked noodles. Garnish with greens of spring onion or coriander and  serve hot.

Venetian carrot cake


 

DSC_1379In case anyone was wondering about my exile and the painfully invisible void I’d left in the world of food blogs, then let me tell you, it was only temporary..and though I might not be back with a bang, I am back with a gluten free (gasp) venetian carrot cake, the credit for which as much as I’d like to take isn’t mine to take at all but Nigella Lawson’s, and it’s her recipe I’ve adapted to make this unbelievable sphere (albeit sort of flat) of damp richness.

This is a carrot cake and it’s unapologetically..umm carroty? and absolutely gluten free, which is to say it does not require any flour, and as hipster as it sounds, we can take some solace in that it’s not vegan..though I promise nothing. On days of rage, I’ve been known to torture myself with vegan food stuff. But that’s another story for another torture chamber, because right now let’s marvel in the blistering warmth of this buff coloured cake, which sings to your soul and pleases your senses with such luxurious notes, that you’re left wondering whether you should eat this cake or marry it.

DSC_1328 copy

So without further ado, we’ve the ingredients. Sugar, olive oil, vanilla extract, beaten eggs, almond meal, shredded carrots, pine nuts, lemon, lemon zest, raisins and rum (not pictured)

Just because a cake’s got almond meal which sometimes you don’t readily get at your grocery store, does not mean you put off baking this amber coloured love disc. You’ve only to blitz almonds to get almond meal you know. It’s rocket science, but you can get around to it.

DSC_1331before we get started, put the raisins in with the rum and bring to a boil and let simmer gently for 3 minutes, after which turn off your heat and let the raisins plump up and cool.

 

DSC_1333 into a bowl of choice, add olive oil and sugar

 

DSC_1335and beat it for at least a couple of minutes. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable activity, I assure you.

 

DSC_1336beat until you’ve incorporated the sugar with the oil

 

DSC_1341mix in the eggs

 

DSC_1339followed closely by vanilla extract

 

DSC_1347and the zest

 

DSC_1348and lemon juice

 

DSC_1343mix well, until you’ve a summery ripple of golden ooze that speaks radiance in shiny ribbons.

 

DSC_1344tip in the now cooled swollen raisins along with any rum that’s it’s been standing in.

 

DSC_1349finally the almond meal

 

DSC_1350and the grated carrots

 

DSC_1354mix well, until everything’s incorporated and there’re no dry pockets.

 

DSC_1356scrape the mixture into a prepared cake tin. This is a springform pan

DSC_1330prepared simply means you’ve oiled the sides and the bottom and stuck a wax/butter/parchment paper on the base and oiled it as well.

DSC_1357now, with the careless abandon of abundance, strew the top with pine nuts

 

DSC_1358liberally or not..entirely up to you and bake at 180°C for 40 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean. As long as it’s sticky and not runny, you’re good.

 

DSC_1360once done, let it cool before you devour..always a good practice.

 

DSC_1383and behold! the answer to dreary winter months, the saviour of one too many dinnerless nights..or just a sponge to wipe your tears, while you wallow in the dull ache of loneliness in your bed. A cake of such splendour and sumptuous depths that you’d kick yourself for sharing it. It’ll light you up on the inside, and how can it not?

_________________

Ingredients

 

  • carrots-2 medium  (about 200g)

  • pine nuts -3 tbsp
  • raisins-75g (1/2 cup)

  • rum- 60ml

  • sugar- 150g (3/4cup)

  • olive oil (regular)- 125ml (1/2 cup)

  • eggs-3
  • vanilla extract- 1 tsp

  • almond meal- 250g (2.5 cup)

  • lemon- 1/2 (zest and juice)

______________________________________________

Preparation

In a saucepan bring to a boil the rum and raisins and let simmer gently. Turn off the heat and let them stand and cool.  Grate the carrots and absorb any excess liquid with a kitchen towel.

Into a bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar until well mixed. add in the eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and juice and the now cooled rum and raisins, and mix well. Finally fold in the almond meal and grated carrots.

Scrape into a prepared cake tin, and cover the top with pine nuts. Bake 180°C for 40 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean. As long as it’s sticky and not runny, you’re good. Let it rest for at lest ten minutes before removing it from its cake pan. Let it cool completely and enjoy

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Chinese pancake sandwich (hangover cure & stoner’s grub)


DSC_1059These are by no means an innovation that ever appeared in gastronomic heaven, but in fact a hearty street food staple very commonly found in China. There are many a variations to it, but I’m sharing the one I find in my locality.

Before I begin let me just tell you how incredibly fantastic these street food pancakes are; sold mostly out of a small shop or mobile stall, and usually eaten after a drink too many or breakfast and even as a not so light snack.. they’re crispy, fried on a hot pan without skimping on the oil and meat. The pancakes are flaky, almost like a puff pastry sheet, slathered with a thin coating of viciously hot sweetness, a layer of egg, meat of choices, bundled up and wrapped in a packet. Every bite is a steamy, meaty, spicy morsel wrapped in flaky pancake heaven. Every bite a revelation! I usually buy these sometime around tea time from a very kind lady near my house. She has a stall decked with small jars of condiments and spices, and an array of meat. The most popular combinations are eggs+bacon+spam with a generous brush of her homemade spicy sauce.

I’ve tried to recreate something similar here which is gratifyingly delicious and stunningly delectable but absolutely no match to what she whips out of her 5 feet x 3 feet stall.

So here it is.

DSC_1015the ingredients are straight and simple. Just frozen Chinese pancakes which are easily available in any supermarket, lettuce leaves, eggs, fried bacon and ham (instead of spam) and sriracha.

I’ve cut ham into thick coins and very slightly charred them on a hot pan to recreate those smoky flavours that emanate from the street stall’s seasoned skillets.

DSC_1017these are what the pancakes look like. They come frozen and neatly wrapped in wax paper on both sides. These pancakes are smaller than the street food stall ones, but work just as well.

DSC_1020I slightly charred the lettuce as well on a very hot pan for that burnt crisp texture. This step is entirely optional.

DSC_1022ok, so in a pan on medium heat add some oil. This is about a teaspoon and let it coat the pan.

DSC_1024once the oil is evenly heated, slap on your pancake and let it be. The trick is knowing that you can not and will not flip it until the underside is done, or else you will break, tear and ruin your pancake.

DSC_1025this is how you figure out if it’s done. It’ll start turning translucent as it cooks. So the sides are cooked but the middle isn’t. Give it another few minutes

DSC_1026there you go. It’s ready for a flip

DSC_1027see.. so nice and golden and cooked.. now while the other side is cooking

DSC_1042crack en egg

DSC_1043mutilate it with a fork to let it evenly spread

DSC_1044and flip! for maybe half a minute until the egg is cooked

DSC_1045flip it back to let the egg face you

DSC_1029add sriracha or your favourite hot sauce, and paint it all over the egg

DSC_1030now we have to start layering. start with lettuce

DSC_1031followed by bacon

DSC_1050followed by ham

DSC_1033followed by folding over, to form a sort of pancake sandwich, which is also weirdly the name of this blog post.

DSC_1034and just like that you have a hearty meal to satisfy your inner glutton. Perfect for curing hangovers and stoner hunger pangs.

Ingredients

Frozen Chinese pancakes: 2

eggs: 2

bacon: 4-5 strips

ham: 4-5 slices

sriracha: 2 tablespoons

oil: 2-3 teaspoons

(of course there’s no particular recipe, you can make as many for a lot of people or just a couple for solitary indulgence. Change the ingredients to make a Chinese pancake BLT or even a vegetarian version)

Cooking directions: On medium high heat, coat the surface of a pan with some oil. Once hot, lay the pancake gently so as not to tear and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Once its surface is translucent flip over and crack and egg on the cooked side. Break the yolk with a fork to coat the pancake and flip over to the let the egg cook for at least half a minute.

Flip again to spread some hot sauce over the now cooked egg and start layering with lettuce, bacon and ham on one side of the pancake. Fold over the other end to form a sort of half moon.

The sandwich is now ready to be devoured. These are easy to make and quick to eat. You can make plenty for a crowd or just a couple for lunch.

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Enjoy!

 

 

Tuna melts


DSC_0979For days when you are absolutely miserable and voraciously hungry, tuna melts is the answer! This happened to be a particularly divine answer this Sunday, as I was completely out of meal ideas and was dying to eat something decadent and indulgent. It’s quick, not fiddley and the portions are considerably large, which means you can eat the leftovers for dinner and not even complain.

This version is slightly different from most since I didn’t want to include mayonnaise. What can I say? I wasn’t in a very mayonnaise frame of mind. Also because I had bought a different can of tuna that happened to be chili tuna, and I was dying to try it out, but more of that later.

for now..

DSC_093m0not very basic tuna melts fare, but I wanted to mix up things a bit. so cream cheese, garlic powder, cheddar cheese, boiled egg, onion, coriander, tuna and french bread.

DSC_0933begin by chopping the onions and coriander as fine as you can. I know coriander isn’t a very common ingredient in tuna melts, but these are not common tuna melts/ Just believe me ok?

DSC_0934fling into a large bowl. I have a thing for using small-sized bowls and regretting later, but not this time!

DSC_0935this is the tuna in question. This is new for me, if you’re used to this stuff then good. I figured it has chilli, but what I didn’t know was…

DSC_0936that it really had chili. They were not joking about their chili. Can you see these two red chillies. My soul jumped out for a second, but I regained my composure. I will eat tun melts, even if it kills me.

DSC_0938in with the devil red tuna.

DSC_0940chop the boiled eggs as well as you can. I was still reeling from the chillies I saw in the tuna can.

DSC_0941ah! these gorgeous colours. I knew it instantly this would be something of an ecstatic albeit searingly hot sandwich.

DSC_0942a pinch of pepper, because I had decided this to have pepper, so here it is.

DSC_0943garlic powder. yes you need it. Don’t sneer

DSC_0944in with the cream cheese. Trust me!

DSC_0945and some grated cheddar. I know by now you’re doubting my pure intentions, but please don’t. You’ll see in a minute. Mix well.

DSC_0948Time to build up. Lay you bread lovingly in front of you.

DSC_0950anoint it rather generously with the tuna mixture, or rather slather it barbarously.

DSC_0952as if it wasn’t enough already. sprinkle on some more cheddar

DSC_0954put on a tray to bake. as you can see I have two and there was no leftover tuna mixture. I used up by generously heaping them on the bread. and why not? bake at 190℃ for 15 minutes, or until the top melts and starts almost bubbling and the bottoms turns slightly crusty.

DSC_0955feast yer eyes. Look at these babies. I had no words nor expressions. I was spellbound. This is what gluttonous heaven for chili lovers is made of. This is what starving dreams of degenerate souls look like.  This right here is the answer to every question you might have.

DSC_0966this is a slab of everything evil and look how it melts and oozes from the side. It tasted luscious and dreamily melty. It might have been all the cream cheese, but ooh, was it  immoral. It was spicy, yes it was! but addictively so.You want to eat this. Everyday!

Ingredients ( this isn’t something you can measure, it’s more of a go with the flow and really up to your liking, but I’ll give somewhat accurate amounts as I figured)

tuna can: 1

Bread: half loaf of french bread split into two (you can even use sandwich bread)

onion: medium-sized or half of a large one (chopped fine)

coriander: 2 tablespoon (chopped fine)

egg: 1 large hard-boiled (roughly chopped)

cream cheese: 180g ( a bit less than 1/2 cup)

cheddar cheese: 4-5 tablespoons + more for sprinkling on top (optional)

garlic powder: 1 teaspoon

pepper: 1/4 teaspoon

Preparation instructions:  Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread generously on bread. Top with some more cheese, and bake at 190℃ for 15 minutes until the cheese had melted and the bottom is slightly crusty.

Alternately you can also sandwich this filling to make a grilled cheese sandwich. It works beautifully both ways.

There really isn’t much to it, but the addition of coriander just ups the flavour ever so well and the cream cheese makes it wickedly melty.

 

DSC_0970Enjoy!!