Alternative to cous-cous…….

In my last post I included cous-cous as one of the ingredients. I thought I should share much healthier option as well which is bulgur wheat as called in the West and ‘dalia’ as called in most parts of India. Basically it is broken wheat which is rich in dietary fiber and protein and of course has more nutritional value than cous-cous. And it tastes great as well. Another reason for using bulgur wheat or ‘dalia’ could be that you ran out of cous-cous!

This is how you prepare bulgur wheat for salad:

  • Dry roast half cup of bulgur on medium heat in heavy-base pan until golden-brown and gives out sweet aroma.
  • Add 2 and a half cup of water along with salt to taste, bring it to boil.
  • Simmer it for 5 minutes.
  • Cover with a lid, turn off the heat and leave it to stand for 7-10 minutes.
  • Uncover and fluff with a fork, add a knob of butter or a teaspoon of olive oil. Allow it to cool.

It is now ready to be used to mix with the remaining ingredients of the salad. And we call it now ‘Hearty bulgur salad’!!!

Hearty Cous-cous salad

Summer in most parts of India means extreme heat, heat-waves throughout the day and night. It is difficult for one to step out of an air-conditioned room. And when you think of food all you can think of those boring gourds – bottle, snake, bitter et al. All water rich vegetables that taste almost the same.

Well, for me it’s also the time to avoid fried food so I tried to create something that is refreshing, perhaps a salad.

As I think of ingredients that I can use for salad, almost none of the vegetables seem to be interesting enough that can be incorporated in my recipe. Think of it again, it is not so bad either, so here comes a refreshing salad.

Ingredients:

Grated cabbage, 1cup

Julienned apple, 1 cup

Chopped walnuts, 2 tbsp

Sultanas, a handful

Thinly sliced 1 red onion

Cous-cous prepared, 1 cup

For dressing:

Olive oil, 2 tbsp

Mustard paste (yellow), 1 tsp

White wine vinegar, 1 tbsp

Orange juice, 2 tbsp

Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.

Instructions:

  • Mix all the ingredients for dressing in a bottle, close tightly and give it a shake until an emulsion is formed.
  • In a large bowl mix all the ingredients for salad except onions. Pour the dressing over and mix thoroughly. Cover with the cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Sprinkle with the sliced onion just before serving.

And enjoy it at anytime of the day!

 

Home-style Tandoori Chicken

Recently a friend was visiting from Mumbai with her four-year old son. Her son is extremely fond of tandoori chicken. I had prepared home-made spaghetti with lots of veggies and tomato sauce, which did not appeal the little boy as he wanted only chicken. I had four whole skinned leg pieces of chicken in my refrigerator that I could use. I was short of time to marinate chicken but still tried and guess what …it turned out to be one of most amazing chicken dish I have plated out!
So here we go with the recipe for it:

Ingredients:

4 pieces of skinned chicken leg
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or malt vinegar
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp grated or crushed ginger
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 and ½ tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt, or to taste
Cooking oil
Fresh coriander sprigs for garnish
Slices of cucumber, red (Spanish) onion, tomato and lemon, for garnish

Instructions:

• Wash the chicken thoroughly removing any fat using salt and a pinch of turmeric in water.
• Make 3-5 slits on the surface of the chicken legs, deep enough to see bone inside, on both the sides. Set aside on a kitchen towel.
• Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in a big bowl. Add chicken legs one by one in the bowl while rubbing the marinade well into the meat through the slits.
• Cover it and leave in the refrigerator for 15 minutes (Well I did so as I was short of time, you can keep it longer, may be for an hour or so ……. No hard rules on that)
• Now you have two options,

  1. you can either bake it in the oven at 450F for 30 – 35 minutes covered with aluminium foil, just remember to drizzle with about 1 tbsp oil after transferring it into a baking dish (and then brown it under the grill) or
  2.  if you don’t have an oven you can fry it in the pan, and this is how you do it.

• Heat a non-stick heavy base pan with some oil. Wipe off the marinade from the leg pieces.
• Shallow fry one by one, each side of the leg to get a brown color by keeping it on one side for at least 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
• Once all the leg pieces are done, keep them on one side on a plate.
• Add the marinade to the pan. Bring it to boil while stirring continuously and then add all the chicken leg pieces, coat with the sauce (marinade), cover the pan and slow cook for 20 – 25 minutes or until the meat starts leaving the bone.
• Garnish as you like and serve hot with Naan bread, or chapattis.

This chicken does not look like that traditional red colored one, in fact it has some gravy as well, but believe me it tastes great and is very light with all the flavors and aromas of tandoori chicken.

Spicy Sausages

Sausages are loved by almost everyone in various different forms, crisp with baked beans for breakfast are most popular. As a cocktail snack with drinks,  served in most Indian parties, is another choice. But my all time favorite is the way Sri Lankans cook their sausages, spicy and crispy!

This version is even enjoyed by children, as a snack, or hot as a side dish for dinner, of course one has to use less chili flakes and black pepper if making for kids.Image

Spicy Sausages:

Ingredients:

A packet of frozen chicken sausages (250 -300g)

2 large onion, thinly sliced

1 green capsicum, sliced (colored capsicum cam also be used)

Tomato ketchup, 1 ½ tbsp

Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp (optional, if not using take 1tsp of Soya sauce)

Soya sauce, ½ tsp

Chili flakes, 1 tsp

Freshly ground black pepper, 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Any cooking oil, 1tbsp

Instructions:

  • Boil the sausages until cooked. Drain and allow it to cool.
  • Cut them into round pieces about an inch in thickness.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok.
  • Sauté the onions until golden, add capsicum and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add sausage pieces, mix it well and let them cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • At last add all the sauces one by one, chili flakes and ground black pepper, give it a good stir, make sure sausages are coated well with spices. Season to taste.
  • Allow to cook for another couple of minutes as sausages absorb all the nice flavors.
  • Transfer onto a serving plate, and enjoy hot with chilled drinks!

Cake baked in pressure cooker

Recently when I was visiting my parents, my brother with his wife and their three little girls had also come down from Vancouver. Kids, including my two daughters love to eat cakes and muffins and of course I love to cook! My mum doesn’t have an oven or a weighing balance.

I had to figure out a way to satisfy their cravings for cakes and mine for cooking! And this is how I came up with the idea of baking in pressure cooker. It works fantastically, from whipping a quick batter to baking, all it takes under 60 minutes.

Recipe follows: Cake in the pressure cooker

Ingredients:

Eggs 4 (1 cup), beaten

Plain flour, 1 cup (same measure as eggs)

Chocolate powder 2 tbsp, or 75g melted cooking chocolate

Butter, 1 cup, homemade butter does equally well

Sugar, 1 cup

Baking powder, 1 tsp

Instructions:

  • Beat butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy.
  • Add in egg little by little while beating the mixture of sugar and butter.
  • Place a stand or a ring in pressure cooker; put the pressure cooker on gas on high heat, covered with lid and weight on.
  • Grease and line (optional) a baking tin.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and chocolate powder together, if using melted chocolate add it last after mixing rest of the ingredients together.
  • Add this dry mixture to the wet mixture. Use a spatula to fold it in gently.
  • Pour the mixture in the greased baking tin.
  • Place the tin in the pressure cooker on stand / ring.
  • Reduce the heat to minimum, (do not change the burner), and cover the pressure cooker again with weight on the lid.
  • Bake it on same temperature (reduced heat) for 30-35 minutes.
  • Open the pressure cooker, check with a skewer, or a sharp knife, if done remove immediately. Let it cool for a while.
  • Using a knife run through the edges to separate thoroughly from the tin and turn it out on a plate.

First Post

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For some cooking is fun, while for others it is one difficult task where nothing seems to be going right, even when following a recipe. There can be various reasons for that as,
• Don’t really like cooking,
• Instructions are not easy to follow,
• Ingredients seem to be too many,
• All ingredients are not available…. And the list goes on.

Whatever the reason, it kind of puts some people off cooking. For me, key to ‘Happy Cooking’ is not to worry about all the ingredients and use some common ‘cooking’ sense to get it right.

It is truly said “Food tastes great if you put your heart in cooking it”. I, not only put my heart in it, but before I plate out a dish I visualize it how should it look like, I imagine/feel the taste in my mind and 9 out of 10 times I get it exactly the same what I planned it to be!

I not only eat food, I think food, I live food…..I have so much passion for food that I thought I must share this with all of you out there who like to cook, but need encouraging recipes, innovative recipes and easy recipes when the thought comes ‘I Feel Like Cooking!’