There was a reason I put up that Blender Mayo post, I wanted to use that in this Egg & Potato Salad. It started out as just a Potato Salad, but then I thought just potato and mayo, that would be boring. I added the salad leaves for crunch, Then the egg came for some protein. And the dried cranberries? Well, they were added on just a whim. A whim that worked out so well. It rounded off the other flavours and just added a pop to the salad. You could add raisins instead. I had a tiny bag of unopened cranberries from my last Indigo flight which I thought I'd use up.



Have this salad cold. It deserves an hour at the least in the fridge. You don't want to be eating warm egg & potato salad with mayonnaise. Trust me on that. Especially in this weather. It would be just the right thing to for a working lunch. Fortifying enough for the rest of the day while being refreshing. Try not to overdo the mayo, it could become really heavy. You could use Greek yogurt instead. I hadn't planned it out before and set my yogurt to drain. So no Greek yogurt for me this time.

Serves 2

Ingredients

4 medium sized potatoes
2 eggs
6 salad leaves/lettuce
2 tbsp mayo
salt to season
2 tbsp raisins/dried cranberries to garnish

Method

1. Boil the potatoes unpeeled till just tender and a knife goes through easily. Let it cool and come to room temperature
2. Hardboil the eggs for about 8 mins. Immediately run under cold water a couple of times till the eggs cool down. Let it rest in cold water till it comes to room temperature.
3. In a salad bowl, roughly tear the salad leaves.
4. Peel and dice both potatoes and eggs to roughly the same size. 1/2" cubes
5. Toss all ingredients with the mayonnaise till its evenly spread.
6. Check seasoning and add salt/pepper if required.
7. Chill in refrigerator till its time to be served.



I've been trying out different colour settings in my camera. Excuse the different tones. One day I'll read up that manual. Till then...

Egg & Potato Salad



Have you ever tried pounding your mayo together? I have. Not easy. Have you tried whisking your mayo together? I'm sure you have, but again a terrible bore dripping it bit by bit and whisking till it all emulsifies.
I've always read that you have to do it by hand and not a mixer cos the heat of the motor impacts the flavour. I've never been brave enough to try it though. If I'm going to be using all that oil, it better turn out right. I hate things not working out and having to throw food away. That just seems wrong in my eyes.
These days though, my aunt and everyone else (including David Lebovitz) seems to be talking about blender mayonnaise. All you have to do is use the whole egg instead of the yolk. Fair enough. With enough victories and testimonials going around, I thought I'd try it out. You could also use a hand blender, I don't own one, so I went ahead with my trusty Molinex.


Ingredients

1 whole egg
1 tbsp mustard (I squeezed it out of a bottle, you could use powdered too)
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2/3 cup refined oil (you could use half olive oil, but I feel it overpowers the whole thing)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Method

1. Break the egg into the blender bowl
2. Add the mustard and start blending till it has mixed in.
3. Keep the mixer running and slowly drizzle in the oil a tablespoon at a time slowly while the blender works its magic
4. You'll slowly see it all thickening and building up volume.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mayo made this way will be bulkier because of all the air whisked in, not as dense as the other techniques. The addition of the egg white also impacts the texture considerably.


DIY: Blender Mayonnaise


Oru naadan meen curry straight from my Mum's kitchen to me and then to you. Hopefully, there are no Chinese whispers going on here and I get it right enough, for you to get it right.

Every summer, back home, we'd have a deluge of mangoes coming in from our backyard, our ancestral home, our generous neighbours, friends and family. Everybody is gifting each other mangoes; ripe, unripe, the soft squishy local ones, the ones somebody's managed to wangle from a cousin who has an estate far away and decided to gift you just cos you're their favourite cousin. You'd think it happens across the country in summer, but I doubt anyone incorporates as much of mango into their daily dishes as Malayalees do. I might be wrong, but there are so many mango dishes it could just start coming out of our collective noses and ears.

Raw mango is a favourite. It makes its way into a lot of savoury gravy dishes - Meenum (Fish) Mangayum, Chemmeenum (Prawn) Mangayum, Chakkakkuru (Jackfruit seed) Manga are some of those common ones. Then there is Pazhamanga Pulissery, Manga Pacchadi, the list goes on. By now you would have figured out, if you're not from Kerala, that manga stands for mango in Malayalam.

Fish marinated for frying

I rarely buy fish at home. One, it's difficult to get just enough for one person. Two, I've almost never ever had the time to go to the fish market. When we were kids, being served king fish, or seer fish or any one of those big fish without tiny bones were a luxury we looked forward to. Now as adults, when you eat out, all you get are those big fillets and it does get boring after a while. So when I went to the market, I was pretty sure I wanted a smaller variety of fish, something I'd love eating with my hands, picking away the tiny bones. I looked out for a variety called Kilimeen in Malayalam and Rani here in Bombay. Distinctive because of its pinkish red colour, it is extremely tasty when fried and a nightmare when made into a curry with all its tiny bones.

I definitely wanted a fish fry out of this one, but I also wanted some kind of curry. So I called my mom and asked for the recipe of a dish I loved - Meen pollichathu. A very traditional dish of fish steamed in a banana leaf. Mum suggested why not go in for this curry with mangoes using just the fish heads. That way, I'd get the crispy tender fried fish I wanted, and also the gravy. You needn't particularly use this fish for this gravy, anything in your comfort zone would do, Here the raw mango is used as the souring agent, instead of kodampuli (tamarind) which is traditionally used  in fish curries, or tomatoes or vinegar.

Mum gives me recipes in ratios. So all she told me for this one, after listing the ingredients is, for 2 spoons of chilli powder, use 1/2 spoon of coriander powder. So the ratio of coriander to chilli powder is 1:4. Moving away from that would alter your life irrevocably and bring the wrath of all the mangoes in the world upon you. :P



Ingredients

2 tbsp coconut oil
6 shallots sliced
3 green chillis cut into half lengthwise
1" ginger pound into a paste
3 cloves garlic smashed
1 sprig curry leaves (divided to two)
1 small raw mango diced
2 tsp chilli pwder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
6 fish heads/slices of medium sized fish, cleaned
1 cup water or coconut milk(second press)
1/2 cup coconut milk (first press)
1 tsp coconut oil to drizzle on top.

Method.

1. Heat the coconut oil in an earthern ware pot/kadai.
2. Gently saute shallots, chillis, garlic & ginger till the shallots turn translucent.
3. Add half the curry leaves, mango and all the powders and stir quickly to avoid the powders burning.
4. Immediately add the fish and water to the pot and stir gently so that everything mixes in with the fish.
5. Cover and cook for 10 mins or till the fish is cooked.
6. Once the fish is cooked, add the first press coconut milk and gently simmer the gravy never letting it boil.
7. Finish it off with a drizzle of coconut oil on top and the remaining curry leaves.


Obviously I was too impatient to wait for a proper picture before attacking the fish fry.

Meenum Mangayum Chaar (Fish & Raw Mango Curry)


This is a late entry, pretty much usual in my case I guess. While the whole world, or whoever I'd subscribed to was churning out Easter recipes, before Easter, I'm one of those unique ones, who post a recipe after the occasion!!! yay!!! let's celebrate laziness. Or well, let's be better prepared for next Easter.

We usually have Hot Cross Buns on Maundy Thursday as part of our breaking the bread ritual. As Malayalees, we're supposed to make 'Indariyappam' and have it with 'Paal'. I'll explain those terms at some later point. But let's just get on with the fact that Mum always made the Paal (cardamom spiced coconut milk sweetened with jaggery, there I explained it right there) and we got the Hot Cross Buns from the bakery near our church. Most years, us laggards would reach too late to get the real big Hot Cross Buns, and we'd have to settle for a smaller one just so to continue with the ritual.

We'd have a brief Bible reading by the head of the family, which obviously is my Dad, then we'd have the symbolic representation of the Bread as the Body of Christ and the Paal (mentioned above) as the Blood of Christ. Daddy would cut the Bread, dip it into the Paal and give it out to each of us. And thus, Maundy Thursday was celebrated at home.

These days, everyone is very fussed about being authentic and most Malayalee Christians make Indariyappam at home, which is the traditional bread for Passover. But hey, it's always nice to have an alternate option which is slightly sweeter, spiced with cinnamon & raisins in a nice yeasted bun. So I make Hot Cross Buns. Just so I can dip it into my cup of sticky sweet Paal and enjoy.



I've shamelessly taken a riff off Pioneer Woman's Hot Cross Buns. I used to follow her quite a bit, a while ago, then I found that I'd gotten over her, like I'd gotten over most blogs, like you've probably gotten over Plattered. I'm always hunting for new & interesting, but when almost everything is new, you just want to take a step back and say, let's go back to the old stuff. Like the old stuff you know, when things were plain and simple and you didn't want to add that extra zest or rum soaked dried fruits in Hot Cross Buns. There is comfort in the familiar, the unexotic, the everyday food, the repetition, Sorry, I'm ranting. But the truth is, I don't follow too many blogs anymore, unless they're East Asian and written in a language I can comprehend. David Lebovitz is always exempt from any such heresy on my part. His blog, I'll always love.

Anyway, here's the recipe for Hot Cross Buns, straight from Pioneer Woman's blog. I've made very few changes to this recipe - halving the recipe, a cinnamon butter wash after baking, just very very slight alterations. Like she says, it's her Cinnamon rolls recipe, the same I use as well.

Ingredients

for the buns

1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
11/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup additional flour
1/4 tsp (heaping) baking powder
1/4 tsp (scant) baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
1/4 cup raisins
1 tbsp egg white
1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp melted butter

for the glaze
3 tbsp egg white
3 tbsp icing sugar + extra to thicken if required.

Method

Buns

1. Gently heat oil, milk & sugar in a saucepan till warm, but not boiling and the sugar has melted.
2. Let it rest for half an hour or bring it to lukewarm temperature.
3. Add yeast to the milk mixture and 2 cups of flour. Stir. Cover and rest the sticky mixture for 1 hour.
4. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt & 1/4 cup flour and mix. Stir till combined
5. Pulse 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon powder and other spices and keep ready.
6. Tip dough onto a lightly floured surface. If the dough is still sticky, add the rest of the 1/4 cup flour bit by bit and incorporate till its not so sticky.
7. Roll out the dough/stretch it by hand, add 1/3 the cinnamon sugar & 1/2 the raisins and fold the dough onto itself.
8. Repeat step 7 and fold till the sugar & raisins are spread evenly. (You'll have leftover sugar)
9. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts and with floured hands roll it into a ball.
10. Stretch the tops and slightly fold in the dough at the bottom to get a smooth top.
11. Place on a slightly greased baking tray. Cover with a towel and allow it to rise in a warm place for 30 mins.
12. Make an egg wash with the egg white & milk. Gently brush the risen rolls with the egg wash
13. Preheat the oven to 200C. Bake for 20 mins or till the tops are nice and golden.
14. Mix melted butter and remaining sugar and brush on top of the rolls evenly till it get nice cinnamony glaze. Allow the rolls to cool

15. Mix egg white and icing sugar together till its a thick pipe-able consistency.
16. Pour into a piping bag/ziploc bag and snip the corner and pipe a cross on top of each bun.



Hot Cross Buns


What do you do when you wake up at 5:45 in the morning really hungry? Like so hungry you can't go back to sleep but you don't want to be standing by the stove making breakfast kind of hungry.
PS: this excludes folks who keep cereal at home and enjoy having it in the morning.
Me, on the other hand, I don't enjoy sweet stuff so much in the morning. I'd rather have idli or dosa or puttu or idiyappam or any of those nice savoury things. Toast & eggs are always welcome too! But all of the above requires being near the stove and really who wants to do that early in the morning. 

Which is when you say hello to casseroles. The easiest breakfast in the world where all you need to do is shred some bread, add in some veggies of your choice, whisk a couple of eggs in milk, throw it all in a dish and bake for half an hour. If your stomach can wait for half an hour that is.
Mine does wait, cos the end product is so good and feels so indulgent while not being really indulgent at all. How could it be? All you've done is changed around toast and eggs to a casserole. Perv that I am about toast, my toast probably takes more effort on the stove than this.


To add a little more sparkle to this plain dish, I drizzle some extra virgin olive oil before baking and well, while serving. I'm extra indulgent about olive oil these days. You can use any kind of spice mixture - pepper, chilli flakes, za'atar and probably even add a chilli sauce to the custard mix if you're so inclined. I'd add sausages and other cooked meats if I feel like having a meaty casserole. There actually is no recipe for a casserole. Or atleast the kinds I make. All you need to remember is a ratio of 2 eggs to 1 cup milk. I also occasionally go for 1 egg for 3/4 cup milk, but then that takes longer to cook. Today 2 eggs to 1 cup milk works. You could also use cream instead of milk or half milk and half cream. Whatever floats your boat. 



For this recipe I used a 7" x 3" baking dish. And it serves one really hungry person. It can also be stretched to two not so hungry people.

Ingredients

4 slices day old bread shredded by hand
2 handfuls baby spinach torn
1 large tomato sliced

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Extra EVOO & chilli flakes to serve (optional)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200 C
2. Shred the bread and evenly distribute in a baking dish
3. Top with spinach and tomatoes. Toss around if you want it evenly distributed. I just layered them.
4. Whisk eggs, milk, salt & pepper in a bowl
5. Gently pour over the bread mix and let it spread it evenly.
6. Press down on the mix from top with a spatula and let the bread soak up the egg mix.
7. Let it rest for 5 mins (if you have patience)
8. Drizzle olive oil on top
9. Bake in oven for 30-35 mins till the egg mix has set but is slightly jiggly.
10. Slice up to a plate, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil & chilli flakes
11. Serve!

Voila! Breakfast ready.
The best part? You could also make this in advance and warm it up when it's time to eat. Wooohoooo!!!

Baby Spinach & Tomato Breakfast Casserole




What is Polenta? It's basically a porridgy dish made of cornmeal which Italian grandma's slaved over the stoves for, stirring constantly. The couple of times I had it abroad, I never had it as a porridge, but in its grilled form with a lovely, rich beef or lamb stew. The one time I had it in India, I was put off by it. Perhaps, I didn't go to the right place.

When you go to a store abroad and ask for polenta, they actually have special cornmeal just to make it. You can have instant polenta which does not need so much cooking time and also regular polenta which needs the slaving over the stove mentioned above. Polenta is different from the typical cornmeal in 1) colour, it's apparently yellower 2) texture. It's a coarser grind of corn.

While it may sound easy for folks from North India to differentiate the different types of corn, someone like me, who's from the South, in most cases will have no clue about this grain. We do not have corn in the south. Also, no 'buttas' or ears of corn slathered in lime, salt & pepper and grilled over hot coal. Corn, cornmeal and it's other various forms are completely unfamiliar to me. The one time I tried making corn muffins at home, it tasted so off. My brother spat it out and said that's the worst thing you've ever made. So the bag of 'makkai ki atta' that I'd got lay forgotten in my pantry for a while.

Today, April 1st, besides being April Fool's Day, also happens to be my first day of unpaid holiday, which essentially means I'm unemployed currently. I woke up uncharacteristically early for a holiday and was twiddling my thumbs when I thought why don't I try making this polenta thingy. I actually craved the taste of the polenta I'd had long ago and I really wanted to know whether it would be possible with Indian fine grained corn.

I know myself well enough to realise, while the grandmamas may have wanted to slave over the stove, I'm more easy going when it comes to food. So I read around and figured, perhaps I could cut down on the stirring considerably and let it cook in its own steam. I was trying this for one person, me, as an experiment and so didn't want to waste too much of cornmeal if it didn't turn out right. This quantity serves one just right as a light meal with a salad. Like most starches, namely rice, noodles etc, polenta also tastes plain (but savoury plain), until you add butter, seasoning, cheese and have a good accompaniment. In my case, I topped it off with parmesan & chilli flakes and accompanied it with a salad of baby spinach & tomatoes in a light dressing.

Now, there is no need to ask me if I liked this thing, cos yes, I loved it. Or else, it wouldn't make its appearance here. Next time though, I'd up the quantity, have a bit of it warm & porridgy, cool the rest in a loaf tin to slice up and grill later. Also, it doesn't make sense to have something on the stove for 40 mins for just one meal. So I'd rather make 4 portions and have leftovers. The ratio of cornmeal to water would be 1:4 if you want a bigger portion size.

This recipe

Serves 1
Time: 40 mins

Ingredients for Polenta

1/3 cup  makkai ki atta / cornmeal
2 cups water
10g butter
Grated Cheese
Salt, Pepper/ Chilli Flakes

Method

1. Boil the water in a saucepan which has a lid
2. Lower the heat to medium high. Add the cornmeal and stir with a wooden spoon
3. Keep stirring till the cornmeal does not sink to the bottom, but blends in with the water.
4. At this point you could see lumps, try and break them up, but its ok to just continue stirring.
5. Cover and let cook for 10 mins. Stir to release the parts sticking to the sides and mix everything together once again.
6. Repeat Step 5, 3 times.
7. Uncover the lid, it should look like a gloopy mix now.
8. Let it cook uncovered another 5 mins stirring occasionally.
9. Season with salt, add the butter and let it melt directly in the polenta.
10. At this point its cooked, you can take it off heat at your preference of consistency.
11. Spoon it out to a dish, sprinkle grated cheese and chilli flakes.
12. Serve immediately. It sets as it cools.


Points to Note:

- Since it's served warm, its best to have prep your salad while the polenta's cooking.
- The seasoning is very important, atleast to me, so taste and adjust your salt requirement.
- My salad had an olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing, which when mixed with the polenta was heaven on a plate!


How to make Polenta




I've been going to the stores at odd hours recently, which means day time around noonish. It's these times, when normal households shop, that are actually quite fascinating. One, it's a lot less crowded than shopping in the evenings. Two, you get access to far more ingredients than you would if you were running into a store just before closing time. Three, everything is a whole lot fresher. I've just suddenly realised I've been getting wilted veggies most of my life!

And I also realised, my local grocery store would carry a lot of the exotic stuff I read about online, if only I were to go at the right times. I'd been reading about Kale for a while online and I'd never had a clue as to what this leaf was. For a while, every recipe I looked up seemed to have kale, though I still fail to understand the kale chips part. But yes, even that seems possible. Perhaps, one day, even I'll try it out in my kitchen.

So I got this box of American Curled Kale, which surprisingly was not too expensive. I kept wondering what to do with it for a day or so and then decided to throw caution to the winds and do my own thing. Thankfully, it worked out fine. One thing I remembered from all the articles I'd read up was that kale takes a while to cook. I chewed on a leaf raw, and surprisingly it tasted sweet to me. Anyone else experienced that? It was also quite chewy, but that was something I'd been expecting.

So there is nothing much to this recipe. One day, someone's going to ask me why all these entries and instructions for the most basic things. But then, as I know it, it's for these basics that instructions are most needed. Building it up from there is an easy enough route after that. Maybe you'd want a pasta bake after that, or perhaps an egg custard using kale. But hey, everyone needs a starting point.




Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 cups Kale (stalks removed, leaves torn)
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1/2 red onion finely diced
  • salt, pepper & red chilli flakes
  • A drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 100g Dried Spaghetti


Method
  1. Cook the Pasta in salted water al dente. Drain and keep aside.
  2. In a frying pan, heat olive oil on medium low heat
  3. Gently saute garlic, onions till onions are translucent.
  4. Add kale. Cover and cook for 10 mins and let it cook in its own steam
  5. Remove from heat once kale is tender but still has a bite to it.
  6. Toss with cooked pasta.
  7. Add seasoning, chilli flakes & extra virgin olive oil.
  8. Toss once again to evenly season.
  9. Serve with warm crusty bread.
PS: Kale tends to turn a darker green when cooked. 


Kale & Garlic Pasta



If you've been following this blog for a while now, you would have noticed some changes, not just in the layout, but also in the content. What started as a dessert blog has more or less changed into a savoury blog with lots of healthy eating options and mostly vegetarian.

Who'd have thunk?!!! Me? Vegetarian? Even I sometimes baulk when I think about being vegetarian. But honestly, I don't know if it's growing up, listening to my body, being ecological or being just time constrained, I prefer eating vegetarian atleast when I'm at home. It's difficult to be vegetarian when I'm eating out in India. Here, in Bombay, I hesitate to walk into a posh restaurant and be happy with the vegetarian fare over the non vegetarian. At home is a different matter, I get to play around with ingredients, flavours, textures and create dishes where meat would actually be superfluous if added.

Though I tend to use seasonal veggies available in my local grocery store, when I do have access to special ingredients, leaves, shoots & such, I'm eager to try them out and see how they taste. I've always loved arugula, but have never been able to manage a regular supply of it. On my recent trip to Hypercity in Malad, I was so happy to see so many salad greens on the shelves. I came back with bags of arugula, micro greens, bocconcini and other varieties of cheeses which I don't always get locally.

I wanted something which focused on the creaminess of the bocconcini, had the bitter bite of the rocket leaves and natural sweetness of winter carrots. Throw in some red onions for a punch and some orange carpels and juice to mellow it down.


It's a recipe made entirely on a whim and that's when I realised I'm really getting the hang of salads. I tried it out for a couple of days, the first two times I had orange carpels which I impatiently pulled out and use, the third time, I just used orange juice in the dressing. And that worked magically. If you do segment the oranges properly, I'm sure it would be lovely. Just that I don't have the patience to do it with the mandarin variety.

Ingredients

2 cups rocket/ arugula leaves
1 winter carrot grated
1/2 red onion sliced
1/2 orange segmented
4 rounds of bocconcini halved.

Dressing.

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp orange juice
salt & pepper to taste.


Whisk all the dressing ingredients till completely mixed.
Toss all the salad ingredients together.
Drizzle dressing over. Serve with a nice crusty bread.



Arugula, Bocconcini & Carrot Salad


So I'm back to my blog after like forever. I've almost forgotten all the fun things I've done this last month while my laptop was ailing. Well, I'd been avoiding this place for sometime. I didn't know what to update. Do I really need to update? If you are wondering, or were ever worrying, chill.

Not that I'd stopped cooking or baking. The baking slowed down a bit, but when I did step in, it was pure indulgence. As for cooking, in tandem with my sporadic approach to running this year, it swayed between healthy and easy to cook meals, and then completely losing my senses and ordering massive amounts of takeaway.


One of those things I made when I was in my senses was this Chicken Teriyaki Bowl. Adapted from norecipes which is linked to PBS. Well, basically Marc writes for PBS and hence the recipe appears in PBS. This recipe is simple enough to be a quick meal for even the laziest bum aka me on weekends. Well, thats actually me on most days. Daily cooking is not my forte and just thinking about meal planning for a week and then actually cooking it is enough to boggle my mind.


I followed Marc's recipe as close as I could. I did not have sake, so I just used water. I did have mirin, which if you do not have, try a white dessert wine, or who am I kidding? Add some extra sugar to white wine. Bah! Just don't make it too sweet. This might seem a little wrong to Indians used to eating spicy food redolent with all the masalas the peninsula can offer. If you are those kinds which I mentioned right now, this recipe is not for you. It is mild, bordering on bland with light flavours. But to me, light soy, a little sweet with a little astringent are good flavours. I actually shied away from adding ginger or garlic to this dish. I went uncomplicated and marinated the chicken in salt & pepper. That's about my patience level.


I used a chicken breast I had in the fridge, and I filleted it down the center to make two thinner halves. One which I cubed up for this dish and the other which I grilled for use in a sandwich later. I used the same measurement for sauce, cos I'm Indian, I like lots of gravy, Subtlety in flavour and all is ok, but hey I need my gravy to mop up my rice.

Ingredients

200g Chicken breast/thighs cubed into bite size pieces(thighs are better. thighs rock.)
Seasoning of salt & pepper
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sake/water
Bowl of boiled rice
1/3 cup blanched peas.

Marinate the chicken in salt & pepper.
Whisk sugar, soy sauce, mirin, water & salt together and keep aside in a bowl
In a non-stick frying pan, over medium heat, gently fry the chicken undisturbed till it's browned on one side. Flip and wait for the other side to be equally browned.
Whisk the teriyaki sauce and add it to the chicken, tossing to coat the chicken.
Let the sauce boil and reduce till it becomes a thick shiny glaze.
Serve chicken atop hot boiled rice, pour extra sauce in top, sprinkle with peas.

Dig in!


Chicken Teriyaki Bowl


I literally trawled the internet today and asked myself, why am I maintaining this blog. It's a question which pops up every other time I check this account. Is it helpful to anyone? Does anyone actually read this blog with any intent to make anything? Has anyone actually made any of these things I ramble on about? Do you have feedback to share with me? Has any of these things actually tasted good? Or are all these just figments of my imagination?

Perhaps it's my writing, it doesn't prompt reading. Perhaps it's the theme, it is too dreary. Perhaps it's my food, it looks too unappealing. Perhaps it's the ingredients, I use out of the way things too much. Perhaps it's the recipes, really, are they really that complicated?

I've had these doubts since the time I started the blog. Perhaps, its those doubts which translate into reality. Perhaps perhaps and perhaps, oh these doubts... why do they taunt me so much?


I read recently, you can never really remember the beginning of a dream. So I rolled back the years in my head and tried remembering really, what made me start this blog. Of course, there were folks asking for recipes. There always are. But I'd never really felt compelled to document anything. What really made me start? I can only think that I looked upon it as a way to start writing again, a place to jot down stuff, all those random stream of thoughts that run through my head. Well food thoughts actually. And I remembered these onion scapes. 

I will always remember onion scapes with fondness. It was in 2012, I took a year off. Think of it as a gap year for someone who'd always been either studying or working. I did go for a course in 2012 too, but more of a fun course at Le Cordon Bleu. When you're single and really are always wondering what next in life, sometimes it feels good to take some time off and sort yourself out. Not that I've finished sorting myself in anyway. But it did help that year. I went back to my folks in Kerala, spent more time there in the house I grew up in than I had in years. I enjoyed spending time with my mum, hanging around the kitchen, watching movies together, trips to SM Street, a pit stop at Kalandans for Sharjah, umpteen trips to the tailor who never ever had my mum's stuff ready. She enjoyed having me around, driving her around, taking her places where my dad would definitely have said no to. She'd try and wake me up in the mornings to go to church. Occasionally she'd succeed and we'd walk to our local parish church. The tiny stores down the street would just be opening up on our way back. We'd almost always stop for bananas, eggs, milk, a few veggies. Daily shopping for a running household. Something I'd never experienced after leaving home.


On one of those days, I spotted these pretty stalks with tiny white flowers. Armed with my food experiences in a country not my own, I was ready to pounce on any new ingredient I saw. I insisted, oh how I insisted, I wanted Mum to make something with this. She resisted for a while, said I wouldn't like it, but gave in to my continued cries of 'let's try, let's atleast try it'. It came out as a thoran, sprinkled with copious amounts of freshly grated coconut. The sting of the onion tamed by the mellow flavours of the coconut, gently melding into something so tantalising, it was something I looked forward to having for lunch almost every other day. So much so my parents now look at an onion scape and say 'Vava likes it'. They can't think of either of their other children who haven't even tried or have so fallen in love with these babies.

Onion scapes are not always available. They are quite seasonal and appear around November, December. Luckily for me when I went home for Christmas, I spotted them again at the store and pounced on them. Mum introduced her other children also to this new greens, though I don't think either of them took to it as much as I have. I brought another whole bunch and brought it back with me to Bombay despite Mum's warning of them being a bit too much to be carried back.


I had plans, major plans for my tiny bunch of scapes. The dream of a quiche with the zing of the scapes mingling with an eggy custard and earthy mushrooms took root. But, as always I revert to my roots when it comes to something that so quintessentially reminds me of home. I made thoran. Again. and Again. Till all I was left with were two scapes and nothing else.

Quiches are easy to make. They are also quite heavy what with all the butter, cream, eggs and cheese. I don't make it often cos it seems like too much of an indulgence for one person. But the simplicity and ease with which the dish comes together makes it worthwhile. They keep well in the fridge, but my 'generous' self almost always finds consumers to finish them off.

To my mind, the only thing that would make anyone think twice about a quiche is the pie crust. Fairly easy, for people in countries where you get pastry crust off the shelf, in India, we are still quite far away from such things. A good thing too. We have enough processed and unhealthy stuff around. To me, a pie crust should be flaky, buttery, with just the right bite that doesn't immediately crumble apart and make a mess around. And it's easy enough to achieve as long as you use chilled butter, chilled flour, chilled water, chill the base, basically chill chill chill everything. Dice the cold butter into small cubes and rub/cut it in gently to flour. Add a bit of water to bring it all together and chill in fridge for 15 minutes before using. The chilled butter in the oven, melts, creating air pockets which makes the crust so tender. So yes, chill chill chill.



Ingredients

Pie Crust

150g all purpose flour
100g cold butter diced
2 tbsp chilled water

Filling

200g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 onion scapes, cut in rings
1/2 yellow pepper diced (optional)
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
salt & pepper

Method

Pie Crust

Rub butter and flour together gently till it resembles coarse flour (looks like puttu podi for malayalees)
Bring it together to a ball. Add water a teaspoon at a time till it just holds together.
Flatten into a disc, cover in cling wrap and chill in fridge for atleast 15 mins. 

Pre heat oven to 200C and keep an 8" pie tin ready

After 15 mins, roll out the dough and lay it over the pie tin. Press it gently into the edges of the tin. Scrimp/Cut the overhang.
Cover the base with parchment paper and weigh it down with pie weights/beans/rice and bake in oven for 20 mins.
Remove beans & parchment paper and continue baking for another 10 mins.

Filling

Meanwhile, in a skillet, sweat the mushrooms with garlic and a pinch of salt, till the liquid has completely dried up.
Sprinkle the cooked mushrooms, chopped onion scapes & yellow peppers on the baked pie crust base.
Whisk egg, cream & milk together in a bowl. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Pour this over the base.
Bake at 200C for half hour or till the custard is just set


Onion Scapes & Mushroom Quiche


I picked up a red cabbage last week from the veggie rack at the food store. I didn't know what to do with it, but I thought I'd get it first and think later on. This is part of my initiative to eat more veggies (Uh oh I ordered chicken lollipop again tonight) and try new things.

I googled and found this on BBC Goodfood. It's really good. And the peanuts, they taste so good in this salad. So crunchy and so filling. The original recipe asked for groundnut oil, I used the toasted sesame oil I had at hand. It added a nice nutty flavour to the salad.


Tangy Carrot, Red Cabbage & Onion Salad.


Spread a little goat cheese
Spread fig slices
Poach an Egg and place on top
Add some fried bacon
Drizzle balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Voila!
Breakfast is yum!

Figs, Poached Egg & Bacon on Toast



Roasted Strawberries! Have you tried them when I told you to last time? Click the previous sentence for the recipe.

This is part of my bad girl breakfast series when I go ahead and up my toasts to another level altogether. This one has Roasted Strawberries, Feta & Mint leaves on buttered Toast.


Roasted Strawberries on Toast


Didn't I have you at nachos. Didn't I? And aren't you feeling a bit bad that I don't really have nachos in this pic? Fear not. It's because nachos didn't really strike me at all! Not till dinner time and I just felt an extra crunch missing.

This salad is almost the same as a Pico de Gallo except I added peppers cos I was in the mood for them and I had a both red and yellow peppers at home. It's always been a little exotic, these peppers. We never had them when we were kids. And to me for the longest time, I really didn't think there was any difference. But slowly I can differentiate them in taste, though even now I'm really not that confident of a blind taste test.


Red & Yellow Peppers Nacho Salad


For someone beyond a certain age, I sure order in a lot. That is despite having a cook who comes in daily and would make anything I'd ask her to. One problem I have is, I don't like warming up food. I'd rather have it fresh than from the fridge. Of course, there are exceptions. But most days it's either the local Chinese or Punjabi food which makes it to my dinner plate.

Then I realised. The one thing I order the most is something called Teppanyaki Noodles from Wok Hei. I have an unreasonable amount of these noodles. So I thought maybe I should try making it at home just to make myself feel healthier. Off I went in search of Teppanyaki Noodles.
 

Sesame + Spinach Noodles (Wagamama)

It doesn't need any further explaining, does it?



Tomato, Basil & Feta on Toast




The photo does not do justice to the dip. It's a dip I can go back to any day as a sure fire winner for a party. But, the last time I called people over, I forgot the recipe!!! The dip looked green and no amount of tweaking from my end, would make it this colour. My maid and I could remember only the colour and not the ingredients and we played around with it quite a bit. It was tasty enough, but somehow we couldn't get this particular dip out of my our heads. So we tried it again today, despite not having anyone over. Her kids like this dip a lot and wipe it out really quick every time I send it over with her.

Veggie Cream Cheese Dip


It's the season to keep yourself warm. And warmth is best done with hot chocolate, warm broths and Christmas cards from friends far away. It was quite a surprise getting a card from Jenny. She'd asked me for my address a couple of weeks ago. I shared it, but didn't really check why she needed the address. My neighbour knocked on my door when I got back from my vacation and handed me the card. It isn't everyday I get a handwritten card from anyone. And the thought made me really happy. Thanks Jenny & Roy. My times with you guys in London were some of the best ever. Not to mention all the time we spent together in Bangalore.

Hot Chocolate


When my sister asked me for a Chocolate Fondant recipe, I told her, "it should be simple right? After all, you and I have been baking since forever. And it doesn't seem to difficult."
Wrong. I've been sadly proven wrong. Somehow I've got this bee in my bonnet I'd make anything but a fruit cake this year and hence a lot of other things make their way out of my oven. Chocolate fondant has been going on the past couple of days. My colleagues at work have been quite pleased that I'm so keen on fondant cos I take all my disappointments boxed up to work.

Chocolate Fondant


For my first experience cooking with pork, I decided to try making Pork Buns. David Chang has popularised these traditional Chinese buns through his restaurant Momofuku and there are enough and more recipes online to follow through. Now more important than these recipes, to me at this point, are my learnings with pork. I've never cooked pork and I've never seen my mom cooking pork. My aunt makes the best pork dishes ever. But since I haven't seen the actually cooking process or seen the raw meat, I had no idea what to expect. So below are a list of pointers from my end for cooking and dealing with raw pork. A few of them for me to remember and not panic the next time, a few of them hopefully will help other folks cooking with pork for the first time.
Unfortunately, I don't have pictures for each of the different stages. I have to say, I was getting a little worried and taking shots were the last thing on my mind. So here goes.

Pork Belly Buns a la David Chang & Pork Belly 101