Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Black and White Wednesday

~As my 3 year old puts it... giant lollipop, Mom?~





This goes to Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook for her Black and White Wednesday Event 
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Achari Paneer

A couple of months ago I posted about Paneer butter masala and making Paneer at home. Ever since, I have been making paneer at home and I usually make PBM, it's quick and really easy, to say nothing of super tasty!
But one cannot live on PBM and must find other options, just as tasty!

I pounced on this book at the library and thumbed thru it. Took me a good while I can tell you! It has avast collection of recipes from all the corners of India and reads very well indeed.

I made this Achari (pickling spices) Paneer from the vast collection and it was delectable!  Soft paneer the slight crunch of the bell peppers and  the pickling spices in a yogurty(?)  base are in perfect harmony and is a keeper.


A couple of days ago I spoke to my friend Vandu,who is just back from a long holiday in India. After  the unpacking and the grocery and everything, she and I sat down to talk! It was great talking to her after what felt like ages and we got down to talking about food (and how we both looooove it!) By and by she mentioned  about the Indian store and the talk came on to the topic of Paneer and how she always bought the cheese from the store and  I mentioned that I make it at home and love it and will not go back to store brought paneer. And so it came about that Vandu made her first batch of home made paneer and loves it! 
I am hoping that she will try this recipe and like it just as much as we did! 


This recipe serves 6

You need: 

1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Chili powder
1 lb 2 oz /  500 gms Paneer
4 Tbs Oil
2 1/2 tsp Aniseed ( Saunf/ fennel seeds)
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Kalonji (Nigella) seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
3 Onions chopped  ( I used 1 really large Onion)
6-8 Green chillies Chopped ( and de-seeded)
1/2 tsp Garlic paste
1 tsp Ginger paste
1 cup (8 oz) Plain Yogurt
1 1/2 tsp Amchur powder
3/4 tsp Garam masala
3 Bell peppers chopped into bite size pieces ( I used 2 large peppers- green and red)

Put 1/2 the Turmeric and red chili powder in a small bowl, add 2 tbsp water and mix.

Cut paneer in 2 inch cubes. using a sharp knife, score all over them.


Put them in the turmeric mixture. Season and set aside for 10 mins.


Heat 1 Tbsp Oil in a heavy pan over medium heat and add all the spice seeds at once and stir fry for 1 minute 
or until they sputter. Be careful not to burn.


Add onion and chillies and cook for about 5 minutes, till the onion turns light brown.


Add ginger and garlic pastes, remaining turmeric and stir fry for for about 1 minute. 


Stir in the yogurt, while stirring sprinkle in the amchur and Garam masala and season with salt.


Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2  mins. or until moisture has reduced a little (make sure  the liquid does not dry up)


Add marinated Paneer and peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes.


Remove from heat and allow to cool.


Just before serving, garnish with slit green chillies.


* NOTES: The above  spice measures make a mild Achari Paneer. If you like, adjust the spice levels to your liking and tolerance ( this is not for the green chillies, those are adequate, IMHO) 
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Friday, September 02, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Scones

I blame Enid Blyton for many (mis)adventures in my childhood. It was like I was under a spell! I devoured all her works I could lay my hands on. If I did not get a new one, I'd pick up an old one which I had read and re-read it and enjoy it as if I had never read it. I'd dream of having a secret club or become a famous detective (find-outer) and unearth several criminal activities or find fabulous treasures buried by smugglers or pirates in some underground passage. To my everlasting disappointment, every corner, where I imagined a secret passage would begin (and dug with fervor for many long afternoons) turned out to be nothing but solid earth and messy as heck too!  


I longed for sunny meadows where I and my cousins could picnic under the shade of a tree. I knew 'exactly' what I wanted in my picnic hamper, sandwiches, cake, lemonade or gingerpop and some fruit. That is what Mothers in Enid Blyton's books always packed, of course there was ham and eggs which was useless in my case, even then I stuck to a vegetarian picnic hamper in my imagination.

I had a desperate longing for a dog, one I'd take on adventures and who would guard me like Timmy, I made vain attempts to bring home strays ( Timmy was a mongrel, you see) and my Mother had regular attacks of hysteria.
It was pure routine, I'd come home with a dirty pup, she'd scream, throw me out of the house, I'd scream, the pup would howl, my Father would come home to find the entire building in uproar, he'd lodge the pup somewhere safe from my mother and I, take me home straight in the bathroom for a hot water and dettol bath, calm my mom and then heave a sigh. Few minutes of peace before a new scene unfolded!


I wanted to go off on holidays with just cousins to a seaside cottage where we would have an exciting time. The only island I ever went to however was Madh island and that was not exactly like and 'Enid Blyton island' and we (cousins) were never allowed to go alone, we were not trusted further than  the elders could see us.

Later, I started hoping to find a small fairy who would, one night, be lost and sitting on my window sill and I'd help her and she'd take me to fairyland and I'd get to meet the beautiful Fairy Queen and  gnomes and pixies and other magical creatures and  the queen would give me a wand / magical gift. sigh!


I finally settled down to  my own detective agency idea and got busy with that, I was the head detective and my Father my assistant. I found an old Math note book which in my opinion, was  useless and was perfect for making 'visiting cards' ( using the front and back paperback cover). We never solved any case but had many interesting discussions  about it nevertheless.


Enid Blyton made food sound yummy, the children in her adventures were always having interesting teas, I wanted interesting teas, like  warm bread, butter with fresh jam - yes! she made even that sound yummy, macaroons, cake ( ginger cake sounded yummy) or perhaps warm scones with butter.


When I borrowed The Big Book of Bread I wanted to make scones, to fulfill a wish that took root many, many years ago.
My only problem was, I was not sure how it would turn out. You see I had never seen or tasted a scone. I did a quick image search and then got down to baking.
Once done I also posted this picture on Facebook and a few of my friends confirmed that this was indeed a scone. 




To make 12 scones, you need:


1 1/2 Cup self rising Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
Pinch Salt
1/2 stick butter , diced
2 Tbsp. Refined Sugar
3/4 cup Fresh Strawberries, chopped
approx 1/2 cup Milk, plus extra for glazing


Pre-heat oven to 425 F/ 220 C


Grease or flour a cookie sheet and set it aside.


Put the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir to mix. Then lightly rub in the butter, until the mixture resembles  bread crumbs. Then add enough milk  to form a dough ( be careful when adding milk, go slow. DO NOT dump it all in at once)


Turn the dough onto a lightly floured worktop, knead gently, then lightly roll out or pat out until about 3/4 inch thick.
Cut out 12 rounds using a cookie cutter ( I cut it in triangles- I do not have a cookie cutter) Place on the cookie sheet with a little space between each scone. Brush tops with milk to glaze.


Bake for 8-10  minutes or until well risen and golden brown. transfer  to a wire rack to cool.


To serve, split in half, spread with butter and top with strawberry jelly ( or jam, as the British call it) or whipped cream or creme fraiche. serve warm or cold.


* Notes: I will add some more sugar the next time I make scones, these were bland, maybe that is how it should be, but I'd like mine with a bit more sugar, please! 
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