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Vegetables in Spinach Sauce

15 Oct

 

Sometimes I miss those days while I was in England to study. I went with all the preconcieved notions about the britishers being snoot and England not being so friendly country to be in. But still I made the decision to go there rather than any other country.  To be really honest, while I lived there I actually fell in love with country. I found it a bit similar to India.

The weather, the food and their accent were the most delightful things. India’s quite diverse in its food culture, Britain is nowhere close but I was still impressed with the diversity they had. Mostly there are more of migrated foreign residents so the restaurant variety was pleasing to see from Thai, Chinese, Portuguese, Lebanese to Korean, American, Japanese etc. Food and the people around always bring warmth. I wonder why Britain is considered to be one of the rude countries or not very friendly. My experience there has always been overwhelming. I love their accent, it’s somewhat like India that the dialect and accent varies as you go from north to south.  The people are certainly very helpful and also speak a very polite language.

Weather being the most unpredictable was fun to see. The summers were warm and lots of sunshine, an ideal time to hit the beach. On the contrast the winters were dark and gloomy with very little sunshine. However, the fall was usually unpredictable sometimes rainy, sometimes sunny and moments of chilliness. So often we would get drenched in the rain or catch the chilly winds while walking back home. After all that walk in the most unpredictable weather, nothing could beat a home cooked meal.

So I often made a bake which wasn’t too difficult and also quick. I visited my aunt while I was studying there and she used to make the most amazing bakes. My fondness for bakes grew even more. The best she made was a cauliflower and cheese bake. There is alot of creative bakes you can make with alot of combinations of the vegetables. Either  you can put all the vegetables or can make specific bake such as broccoli and potato bake, or corns in spinach sauce, or mushroom, corn and zucchini bake. What I mean to tell you is that you can do experiments with all sort of things.

There has been a desire to make a nice creamy spinach sauce. I looked around a few recipes but honestly I followed my instincts. When I actually made this recipe I realized my mum used to make chicken balls in spinach sauce which tasted really yum. Maybe it wasn’t a replicate but the bake turned out to be good too.

So, at first I washed the spinach thoroughly and shredded it nicely and kept it aside for a while so the water drains out completely.

spinach bake

Then, putting a teaspoon of oil in the pan, I put the spinach and cooked on a low flame. I let it wilt. Then, let it cool down and churned it in the grinder. Dont worry about the quantity it will now seem the half of you had initially taken but it is enough to give it a great taste and colour to the dish.

spinach bake

Meanwhile, I put some butter with refined flour and some milk to make white sauce.

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Seasoning is essential in the white sauce, and then put the pureed spinach in the sauce. Let it boil.

spinach bake

Stir stir stir!!

spinach bake

Throw the peas!!

spinach bake

 

Add corns  to the sauce. Then simmer for 2  minutes carefully keeping in mind the thick consistency. Mix well and keep aside.

spinach bake

 

Sauté the carrots and beans.

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spinach bake

Boil the potatoes and keep aside.

spinach bake

Now grease an oven proof baking dish.

spinach bake

Put the potatoes as the bed for the vegetables,

spinach bake

now add the sautéed vegetables, carrots and beans.

spinach bake

Pour the spinach sauce

spinach bake

and garnish with cheese.

spinach bake

Throw in the preheated oven 180 degree Celsius for 20 minutes.

spinach bake

Eat Hot tastes delicious with garlic bread!!

Ingredients:

1 cup shredded spinach, nicely washed

2 cups milk

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp refined flour

2 boiled potatoes

½ cup corns

½ cup peas

1 cup beans chopped

1 carrot chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

2 cubes grated cheese

 

Method:

  1. Wash the spinach and drain it well. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Heat a tsp of vegetable/ canola oil and put in the spinach and let it wilt. Add the garlic.
  2. Cool the spinach and grind it in the mixer. Keep aside.
  3. Heat butter in a pan, add the flour and the milk. Season it with salt and pepper. Let it boil.
  4. Add the spinach. Mix it nicely.
  5. Add the corns and the peas. Stir and remove from heat.
  6. Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius. Boil potatoes and keep aside.
  7. Sautee carrots and beans. Keep aside.
  8. Grease an oven proof baking dish.
  9. Lay the potatoes in the dish, then put a layer of beans and carrots.
  10. Pour the spinach sauce.
  11. Put some grated cheese and put in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for 20 minutes.

 

spinach bake

 

 

 

Mascarpone & Pesto Chicken with Grilled Bell Peppers

17 Sep

I love all the seasons but this time of the year is my favorite; when the summers are going and winters are setting in. The weather in between these seasons is wonderful when there is sprinkle of rain. When the weather is good, a tempting meal is always essential. While I sipped into my tea last evening with this pleasant weather, I wondered what exciting I could make. Nothing could beat a creamy soft chicken, freshly baked in my oven.

So I  had actually bought mascarpone long time back and had been wondering what savory dish I could make with it. Making tiramisu or a cheesecake is a standard thing to do. But I really wanted to try to be innovative. So trying these flavors with the chicken was a wonderful idea. Also, I added some grilled bell peppers which always go along well with a baked dish. Another wonderful thing about trying this chicken was I didn’t wanted to pan fry or cook it. I wanted to bake it! Let me tell those you haven’t tried baking a chicken, it’s actually the most easy thing to do.

So firstly I washed 3-4 pieces of chicken breast…..

Pesto Chicken

Then I mixed the mascarpone cheese, homemade pesto and season it with salt and pepper. Let it rest aside….

Pesto chicken

Slit the chicken breast and put the pesto mixture…

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Drizzle some olive oil on the chicken and season with salt, pepper and oregano…

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Put the bell peppers and season them and oil them… Cover the chicken fillets with breadcrumbs and put in a well greased shallow dish…

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Bake it for 20-25 mins at 180 degree celcius…

pesto chicken

 

Serve oozing hot with some crispy bread….

 

Here is the recipe:

Preparation Time: 15 mins

Baking Time: 25- 30 mins

Serves: 4 person

Ingredients:

4 chicken breast fillet

3 tbsp mascarpone cheese

1 cup Pesto sauce

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cubed yellow bell pepper

1/2 cubed red bell pepper

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree celcius/ gas 6.
  2. Mix together the pesto and mascarpone. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep aside.
  3. Use a small sharp knife to make a slit along the side of each chicken breast to form a pocket. Fill carefully a quarter of the pesto mixture into each chicken breast pockets.
  4. Brush a little oil about 1 tsp all over the chicken breast and season it well with salt, pepper and oregano.
  5. Tip the breadcrumbs onto a large plate and season it with salt and pepper. Place each breast on the plate and press all over with the breadcrumbs.
  6. Place the chicken and bell peppers in a lighly oiled shallow dish. Drizzle over some remaining oil.
  7. Cook in the oven for 20-25 mins until the chicken starts to turn golden ans is cooked through and serve with a crusty bread.

 

Orange Chicken

11 Sep

Some how I love how we cook Chinese in India. I always feel that the chef in India give a more powerful taste in our country. As India is always known for its more stronger tastes but in most other countries I have experienced their cuisines to be a bit bland. China is no different, atleast to Indians their tastes may be a little bland.

This one is a Chinese appetizers. We often indulge in making main course but this is a simple scrumptious appetizer and full of flavors. If you love sweet and tangy taste of  chicken then this is a must try. For this I did the following:

At first I collected all the ingredients for my recipe and started to prepare the orange sauce. I mixed all the ingredients for the orange sauce and set aside.

 

orange chicken

Now for the frying batter, I mixed all the ingredients of the frying batter and whisked it till the batter was smooth. Then I threw in the diced chunks of chicken in it. I stirred so that chicken got coated neatly.

orange chicken

Now heat up the oil in a wok. Put the chicken chunks in the fryer. Take them out when it is tinge of golden. Set aside this chicken.

 

orange chicken

Heat oil and put some garlic in other pan.

 

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Throw the chunks of fried chicken….

orange chicken

Now put the orange sauce and stir it well.

 

orange chicken

Chopp chopp chopp some spring onions… its a must have in most of the chinese dishes. I just love the taste…

 

orange chicken

Mix, Mix, Mix it well….

 

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Garnish with sesame …Serve hot as an appetizer..!!

 

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Scrumptious Orange Chicken!!!

 

 

Ingredients:

500 gms boneless chicken breast, cut into bite sized cubes

2 tsp cooking oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Orange sauce

Oil for deep frying

Salt and sugar, to taste

Chopped spring onions

White sesame, for garnishing

Orange Sauce:

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 tsp orange zest

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp red chilli sauce

3 tbsp water

1 tbsp soy sauce

5 tsp sugar

1 tsp Apple cider vinegar

2 tsp dry sherry, optional

1 tsp cornstarch

Frying Batter:

1 egg

1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup water, ice cold

1/2 tbsp cooking oil

dash of salt

Method:

  • In a bowl, mix all the Orange Sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and mix the Frying batter ingredients until the batter is smooth. Put the diced chicken, mix it well and set aside.
  • Heat up a wok with deep-frying oil. Gently drop in the battered chicken cubes, one by one. Deep fry until color changes to golden brown and completely cooked. Dish out and drain on paper towel.
  • Heat up a pan over a medium high heat with 2 teaspoons of cooking oil. Stir-fry the garlic until fragrant.  Add the chicken.
  • Gently pour in the Orange Sauce mixture, and stir. (Note: you may adjust seasoning according to your taste but for me this was just fine.)
  • Dish out and garnish with sesame and ready to serve.

 

Steamed Chicken Momos

8 Sep

I have been wanting to try these momos for a long time but I have had my inhibitions. Maybe because I always felt it requires some sort of professional touch and great dexterity. For those who try to avoid making this because of the same reasons, I think one must forget and give this a try. These are extremely easy to make and not very time consuming. Children enjoy home-made momos alot.

There is a suggestion, if you are trying for the first time to be Patient and have faith that the outcome will be great. After you try it for the first time then there is no big deal to make it again. There are a few pointers:

  • Roll the dough very thin.
  • Chicken stuffing is very simple yet delicious.
  • Vegetable stuffing can be added too.
  • You can prepare the sauce in advance and keep it. This sauce recipe is very good and a must make with these momos.

 

Makes: 30-40

Time for preparing: 30 minutes

Time for cooking: 15 mins

Ingredients:

To prepare dough:

3 cups flour

Water to knead the flour as required

For sauce:

5-6 tomatoes

3-4 red dry chillies

1 onion

1 cup chopped cilantro (dhania)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp oil

For Vegetable Seasoning

1/2 cup carrot chopped

1/2 cup chopped cabbage

1/2 cup chopped beans

1 onion chopped

1 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

 

For Chicken Filling:

500 gm minced chicken

1 large onion chopped

1 tsp minced ginger

2 tsp minced garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

 

Method:

  • Knead the dough with sufficient water. After kneading add a little bit oil. Keep aside.

For the sauce:

  • Puree the tomatoes in a mixer. Keep aside.
  • Take 1 tsp oil in a pan. Saute red chillies till they change the colour to brownish black.
  • Add the chopped onion and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add the tomato puree to the pan, add seasoning and let it simmer.
  • Let the sauce cool for 20 minutes and then churn in a mixer with cilantro.
  • Your sauce is ready. Keep aside.

For the filling:

  • Mix all the ingredients of the chicken filling and keep aside. (chicken here is raw, this will cook while steaming it)
  • If you are making vegetable filling then saute all the vegetables and season it and keep aside.

For the momos:

  1. Roll the dough in small balls and roll it as thin as possible in a shape of chapati.
  2. Place the 1 tsp filling inside. Coat the edges with oil and close the momo into a half moon shape.
  3. Close the edges or the outing. Keep aside and follow the same procedure to make rest of the momos.
  4. In a steamer, steam these momos for 15 mins.

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Chili Chicken Soft Buns

4 Sep

Since my school times, I often visit a small confectionery shop called the ‘Maxims’.   Its got the most fresh breads, pizzas, rolls, buns, pastries, muffins, cakes etc..  If I happen to stop by, I always buy more than what I can eat.  I know since childhood the taste of any of its fresh bakes hasn’t changed till date.  This shop hasn’t even opened more outlets but happens to be very popular.  My most favourite are the fresh chicken rolls or buns which they make.  I always wanted to learn how to make them.  When I actually tried it, trust me, the homemade ones were as good as what I eat there.

Often I am asked “why Exquisite Niche?”  It’s because I want everything in my house and life to be just exquisite (like all the women in this world!)  But I truly believe homemade goods create some sort of warmth in the house which brings your loved ones together.  When I cook and bake, I not only get appreciation, but I enjoy when my husband, JS, comes over and helps me out and is my official tester.  This brings us to spend more quality time together, enjoying our most favourite activity EATING!! 😉

“Moments like these not only make my food exquisite, but the ambience and the energy in the house, too.”

My fling in the kitchen making these soft buns has been the most fun-filled experience.  I hope you enjoy it too!!:)

 

Bread dough:

1 cup warm water

1 tbsp fresh yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

500 gms all-purpose flour

1 egg

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Stuffing:

250 gm boneless chicken cut into very small pieces

1 small capsicum, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 onion, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

1 tsp chili paste

1 tsp soya sauce

2 tsp cornflour

3 tbsp tomato ketchup

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Garnish:

Some black caraway seeds

Preparation:

Put the salt, sugar and yeast in the warm water.  Keep aside for 5 minutes.

Mix the flour and the egg. Pour in the yeast mixture.  Knead the dough well.  The dough would be soft and very sticky.  Knead for about 10 minutes.

Add oil gradually.  Knead well with the knuckles until the dough is soft and can be rolled into a ball in the hands.  Knead a little more.

Dust a bowl with flour and place the dough in it.  Cover and keep aside till the dough is doubled in volume.

While the dough is kept aside, prepare the stuffing.  Heat oil in a pan.  Add the chicken pieces and saute till they are cooked.  Keep aside.

In the same pan, heat some more oil.  Add garlic, chilli paste and onions.  Add capsicum and saute for 2 minutes.  Add soya sauce, cornflour, ketchup, salt and pepper.  Add cooked chicken; mix well and keep aside.

Bring the bread dough back.  Punch it down.  Divide the dough into small balls.

Take one ball and roll it flat into a circle.  Put 1 tsp stuffing in it.  Bring the edges together and make a ball using your hands.  Place on a greased baking tray with the joint side down.  Cover and let it rise to double.  Sprinkle with black caraway seeds and bake at 180 degree celsius for 30 minutes until golden.

Serve and eat HOT!!!

soft buns

Note: I am re-posting this recipe for the breakfast week. This recipe has been done earlier for the guest post.

Chinese Idli

2 Sep

Cooking is just about creativity, how you can transform a simple dish into something exotic. This recipe is from my old books. It is noted as my mum used to make for me as a kid. We usually eat idli with sambar, this is a little twist to the south Indian meal with some Chinese tadka. Amalgamation of the two flavours gives a wonderful taste.

So I started by taking a skillet and adding oil and rye seeds to it. Let it sputter.idli

 

Now some onions..IMG_3418

 

Add some garlic…

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Carrots..

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Some Yellow Bell Peppers..

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Some Red Bell Pepper..

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Some Green Bell Peppers..

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Mix Mix…

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Place the idlies and Mix Carefully…

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Yummilicious Idlies…

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Ingredients
12 idli (1 packet of idli mix)
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp rye (tiny mustard seeds)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 sliced onion
½ cup sliced carrot
½ cup julienne green bell peppers
½ cup julienne yellow bell peppers
½ cup julienne red bell peppers
1 ½ tsp soya sauce
1 tsp vinegar
2 tbsp ketchup
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt

Method:
• Make idlis according to the packet and keep aside.
• Take oil in a skillet. Put the mustard seeds and let it sputter.
• Add the garlic. Sauté for a minute.
• Add the onions. Let them cook till translucent.
• Gradually add the carrot, and the bell peppers. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
• Mix soya sauce, vinegar, ketchup, salt and pepper in a bowl and add it to the pan. Stir well.
• Place the idlies and mix carefully with the vegetables.
• Serve hot.

 

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Vegetable Upma

25 Aug

I totally understand your haste the morning as there are alot of chores such as preparing tiffins, leaving for work, taking care of your babies/children etc etc. This is one of the favourite routine breakfast. Quick and yet Simple! Atleast for me, if I make a healthy breakfast in the morning which is quick yet delicious, my day is much happier and sorted. It is the most important thing to eat right in the mornings and the rest of the day shall follow.

An Upma is a South Indian or a Sri Lankan dish. One of the pros of Upma is you can add any vegetable to this to make it healthy and delicious. This dish goes well with coconut or mint chutney.

So here is what I followed:

Before everything I boiled 3 cups of water and kept aside. Then I took a skillet, heated some oil, and put some mustard seeds and let it sputter.

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Then I added a sprig of curry leaves and split chana dal.

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Some green beans…

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Some Carrots..

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Some blanched broccoli…

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Threw batches of some semolina and seasoned it with salt, and black pepper.

and roasted it for about 3-4 minutes.

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Poured some hot water..

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Stirred till it came together. Then I put it in a bowl and tilted it upside down on the plate for a presentable look.

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Hope you enjoy too!!

Ingredient:

1 cup semolina
1 tsp split chana dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig of curry leaves
3 cups water
1/2 cup chopped beans
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped broccoli (blanched)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Method:
· In a skillet, heat oil and put some mustard seeds. Let it sputter. Add the curry leaves and chana dal. Along with this (on the side) boil 3 cups water.
· Now add some beans. Saute for a minute.
· Now add carrots and broccoli. Saute again for one minute.
· Add the semolina. Saute it for 3-4 minutes.
· Add the boiled water to the mixture and keep stirring.
· Serve it in a bowl or plate along some chutney

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