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Friday, August 29, 2014

Banana, Pomegranate, Yogurt n Bourbon Biscuit Four-fle

Bourbon biscuit, banana, pomegranate, yogurt in 4 layers, topped off with the feather-light crispy hollow-puri, kissed by the chaat masala

Con esta receta participo en el Reto de Agosto de Cocineros de Mundo en Google+ en el apartado de Dulce Salado (según la receta que presentes al reto)

It’s raining flavors in the monsoon n in this glass it’s a burst of flavors n textures! From the look of it, it looks quiet elegant n serene, but don’t let the look fool you. It is the combination of tangy, sweet n salty put together in one; imagine this and you will begin to feel how it makes the word mouth-watering come true.

                              This is not a desert. The main taste isn't only sweet but also the tangy and the salty-the power of three! But then I think why deserts have to be always sweet? Anyways this is a rocking glass of ‘chatpata’ snacks, it’s a Hindi word which literally means the combination of tangy n sweet and only here this is one more.

                                                                                                                 When I begin to make this recipe I was thinking should I construct it as a sweet dish n I thought I will use whipped cream. Then I had a look inside my freeze and I saw 2 guys-yogurt n whipped cream and off course I picked yogurt, it’s so healthy. So instead of eating glass full of whipped cream (which only reminds me of more exercise later on) I chose good old yogurt, my all time favorite thing to eat. That’s when I decided I will go for the tangy-sweet-salty spectrum. Everything is balanced, huge bold flavors and not huge pile of sugar is used. Win-win.

                                                                       The sweet bananas add their amazing flavor and they lend their sweetness and slight tangy taste, the pomegranate adds so much moisture and their amazing flavor n color, the yogurt lends its creaminess and tanginess, and the bourbon biscuits add their crunch, the depth of chocolate flavor in every bite, the crispy hollow-puri adds their amazing crunchiness and finally the chaat masala binds everything together with its salty spicy flavor.

                                     Let me tell you more about the crispy hollow-puri, it a deep-fried Indian bread, tiny in its size, about 2 inches in diameter. In India this hollow-puri is used in the dish ‘Pani-Puri’- pani means water and puri is the crispy puffed up fried thin bread. They have a subtle flavor and a huge texture of crunchiness. The Chaat masala is the salty element; in fact I will describe chaat masala as a flavor-full spicy salt.

                                                                            You can use any banana you get your hands on, right here in the market currently I’m getting three different kinds of bananas, all sweet but with different shades of flavor. Bananas are one my favorite fruits which is accessible all year around, gives you instant energy. Just remember how many times you have watched tennis players gulping bananas in the breaks! Instant energy I tell you. And these bananas add so much flavor and fullness to this 4 layer foodie goodness in the glass.4 or 5?

And now I will give the recipe for you to try.

For the Recipe: you will need
3 medium bananas, if using big bananas use 1 1/2, cut in oval slices
½ of a medium pomegranate
3 bourbon biscuits
5-7 tbsp of full-fat/low-fat yogurt, whipped
3 crispy hollow-puris
½ tsp of chaat masala
1-2 tbsp of sugar

1. With a knife cut the bourbon biscuit into about 1 cm pieces, lay them on the base of the glass, press them slightly in the middle so most of the biscuit pieces goes toward all the sides of the glass.

2. Lay the oval banana slices in a circular pattern on top of the biscuit pieces and then arrange the pomegranate seeds on top of the banana slices distribute evenly so that the banana n pomegranate layers are visible and then sprinkle half of the chaat masala on top of the pomegranate.

3. Mix about 1 tbsp of sugar to the yogurt and whip to make it creamy, if the yogurt is quite sour you may need to add more sugar  or if you like it that ways leave it like that. With a spoon pour the whipped yogurt on top of the pomegranate seeds.

4. Crush 2 of the hollow-puris in your hand and make a layer of them on top of the yogurt. Next arrange some more banana slices on them and finally scatter some pomegranate seeds on the bananas and crush the last hollow-puri in half and scatter on them, sprinkle the rest of the chaat masala over them.

And you are done! Doesn't it look just beautiful? Give yourself a moment to look at it, appreciate it. Then slowly take a spoon and dig in. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Crispy Carrot Patty to make you crunchier!

Crunchy outside, moist inside-carrot patty with coriander, red onion n chickpea flour

When you got 20 minutes in your hand n your memory tells you that you've carrots in the freeze, make this patty! And you will see what was missing in your life!

And really all you need are carrots, bunch of coriander leaves, eggs, chickpea flour/Besan/gram-flour, garlic, whole cumin seeds or Shahi cumin n that’s it! Off course salt n basic flavor spices like chili powder or cumin powder, but if you don’t have it, they will still be amazing! Trust me.

                                          I first made them 6 months ago when one day I had many carrots looking at me for no apparent reason and I was either in a cooking spree or severely hungry, I can’t remember, so I grated them, add chopped coriander leaves n stalk, chopped garlic finely, some chopped onion, added an egg to add richness, flavor, moisture and some gram flour, when I formed the patties and fried them in the pan they smelled so different n good. When I took them off after making them crisp on both sides and finally bite into one I knew that something good n new has come up in the world. So yummy and satisfying they were. And that’s how they were born! In a hurry, in need, in hunger n for the love or carrots.

                                                              When I cook like this I usually think of this line ‘Life in Simplicity’-the simplest of flavors coming together in harmony with each other and its more than cooking, it’s about life the simplest of things or simple persons coming together with their own qualities, adding bit by bit in balance to create something amazing, it does sound like the qualities of a good team. One of the most important things is the sense of balance in cooking, in life, in everything.

                                                                                                                                                               Oh! These carrot patties are so good with yogurt deep, in here I have added ‘Chaat Masala’ to heighten the flavor of the yogurt, chaat masala is an Indian masala mixture, it tastes tangy, salty plus the flavors from all the spices in it, there are about almost 10 spices in it altogether, you can find them in Indian food item stores or Pakistani. If you are completely new to chaat masala think of it as flavored salt. So when I dipped the crunchy patties in the yogurt and had my bite, it was a burst of beautiful flavors in harmony.

                                                                                                                                        You can pair them with any sauce or dip you like: tomato ketchup, honey mustard sauce, coriander chutney and mayo or without any of them, they taste superb on their own. You can eat them as a snack, appetizer, eat them with rice or with a salad.

Since the time when I made them first, I have never stopped making them; this has become something to look forward to whenever I have bunch of carrots in the house. I love the combination of coriander leaves and the garlic with the grated carrot; you can use parsley, a bit of mint, basil and see how it comes out. Now I have used ‘Shahi Jeera’ in the recipe which literally means ‘Royal Cumin’. This version of cumin is similar in flavor with cumin, slightly less strong than normal cumin seeds and by appearance the seeds look thinner n long. If you only have cumin seeds in your home, then use half of the amount of shahi cumin mentioned in the recipe.

                    If you don’t have gram flour/besan, you can substitute it with rice flour, plain flour, corn-flour or whole-wheat flour. Each will produce a slight difference in taste and texture.

                                      Time has come to tell you the amazing recipe. Do make them and you will realize what I am talking about in here.

The Recipe:  You will need
For the Patties
250 gm carrot
50 gm coriander leaves/6 tbsp chopped leaves n stalk
1 medium egg
2 green chilies-finely chopped
1 medium red onion-finely chopped
1 tbsp of shahi jeers/shahi cumin seeds/ ½ tbsp whole cumin seeds
2-3 medium clove garlic-grated
½ cup gram flour/6-7 tbsp of gram flour
Salt to taste
Red chili powder- ¼ tsp
Cumin powder- ¼ tsp
½ cup of vegetable oil for frying

For the yogurt dip
100 gm yogurt (full-fat preferably)
½ tsp chaat masala
½ tsp chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp grated carrot (saved from the grated carrot)

1. Peel the carrots, then grate them on the medium side on a grater, don’t grate them on the smallest grater, they will become mushy. Be careful while grating, when you reach the last quarter on the grater, pay attention, don’t grate your finger, do it slowly.

2. Finely chop the red onion, finely chop the coriander stalks n the leaves, grate the garlic cloves, chop the green chilies finely, then mix all of them with the grated carrot and esp. rub the grated garlic all over the grated carrot nicely. Scatter the shahi cumin seeds over this mixture and mix again.

3. Break the egg and add it to the mixture, mix well, next add the chili n cumin powder n the gram flour and mix well. We are looking for a consistency where the mixture just begins to hold shape when you shape them in your hands, not too stiff  and not too loose that it falls apart very easily, so adjust by adding  little more gram flour if you feel it is too loose. Add the salt and mix well, taste it and adjust.

4. Heat a shallow frying pan on high heat, then add about 5-6 tbsp of oil in the pan, let it get hot on a medium flame, once hot reduce the flame to low. Now take 1 heaped tbsp of the mixture in your palm, first make a ball of it, then press the ball to make a patty. Now place it carefully in the pan, it should begin to sizzle, keeping the flame low make the patties one by one and place them in the pan. Once done rotate the pan so that oil touches all the sides of the patties. Give them about 7-9 minutes, with 2 spoons turn some of them in between  to see how much they have browned, if you see they have browned a bit you can turn them or you can give that side 2 more minutes so that they develop a richer brown color, this will make them crunchier. When they have reached that level of brown, turn them over to the other side, add 1-2 tbsp of oil in the pan and put the heat up to high for 20 seconds and shake the pan to distribute the oil all over. Now reduce the heat to low and give them about 4-5 minutes. Check them by turning over if they have browned, this side doesn't have to brown that much like the other side, keep it less browned  and so take them off in plate.

5.  For the yogurt dip, put all the ingredients together and whip up with a spoon. That’s it!

Oh! Now the time has come to bite into them, I know you couldn't have waited this far, you already had your bite as soon as they came out of the pan. Yummm…Aren't they? Bon Appetit.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cherishing the Cherry Clafoutis ...

Red Cherry Clafoutis with a hint of spice to lift it to new heights and let’s not forget the old secret tradition; using cherries with pits

                                                                  Clafoutis! Clafoutis!
                                                           The cherries roll on my finger,
                                                          U loose urself, let it be, let it be
                                                         Inside my mind now u just linger.

Well that’s a new start for my blog post, with a tiny poem! A month ago when I had a box of cherries in my hand, I rubbed my chin for what all I’ll be making with them, as it turned out I made only clafoutis, the rest I ate simply. Now I always tend to believe that fruits are always best eaten alone not just for their nutritional values also because I feel their flavor is reduced at the end of it. So before making the clafoutis I had my doubts which got cleared away to some extent after I made it. You can guess why? Because the clafoutis was delicious.

                       Clafoutis come from France, the region of Limousin, almost the central region of the country. Traditionally clafoutis is always made with black cherries, but other seasonal fruits are often used in making clafoutis such as pears, prunes, apples, cranberries, blackberries. In fact there is another name often used when any fruit other than cherries are used, known as ‘Flaugnarde’. The French pronunciation of clafoutis is ‘Klafuti’ or ‘Cla-foo-tee’. Now when we do say it like that note how it makes us smile at the end of it.

                                                      It is a baked desert of fruit, traditionally of cherries, arranged in a buttered n sugared dish and a batter is poured over the cherries without completely drowning them and then baked in the oven until it is set and starts to brown on the surface. The batter is made with eggs, milk, cream, sugar, flour, butter n basically that’s it. Now the alternations happen on this basic recipe as everyone alters it with their own taste.

In my version most importantly I've kept the whole cherries with their pits as it was done traditionally unlike the versions we most see on internet where the pits have been removed for the ease of eating! But then you remove one thing and you have to deal with the loss of flavor. And talking about the ease on eating! Come on, once you know you have made a clafoutis with whole cherries your brain automatically knows not to bite into that like a blind brain!

                                                                                 I have made two versions of clafoutis-one with the pitted cherries one without. And the result is the one made with cherries with pits, was much more flavorful n more delicious. So pits make a difference. In fact reading about it in Wikipedia taught me that the pits contain an active chemical called ‘Amygdalin’, during baking some amount of this chemical is released into the clafoutis, thus creating a delicious difference. Think about saving time also, you don’t have to pit the cherries, now isn't that nice? Now if you are serving it for your guests and if you don’t want them spitting cherry pits, then you remove it before baking knowing that it will be less delicious automatically.

                                             I have used black pepper and cloves in my versions, and guess what! Cloves go so well with the cherries, esp. the one I had, it is indeed a good combination, clove is a strong spice and we have to be careful because a little goes a long way. I used red rum to macerate the cherries along with the sugar n powdered clove n black pepper. I did not have ‘kirsch’ with me which is a cherry brandy which would've been nice but I love the flavor of red rum and so does cherries.

                                                                          While making the batter which gets poured over the cherries instead of plain butter I used ‘Beurre Noisette’ which is butter that is browned in a pan until the milk solids get separated and browned and it attains a nutty flavor. I love the flavor of that in many recipes.

So now I will take you to the recipe of clafoutis right away

For The Recipe:  you will need
For macerating the cherries
250 gm whole cherries
2-3 tsp of powdered sugar
1-1 ½ tbsp of red rum               
1 clove, slightly warmed in pan n powdered
Freshly crushed black pepper
For the batter
2 eggs
2-3 tbsp of flour
2 tbsp of powdered sugar
2 tbsp of milk
60 ml single cream
Pinch of salt
1/2 clove, warmed in a pan n powdered
Freshly crushed black pepper
1/4 -1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
20 gm of brown butter-beurre noisette
For buttering the ramekins
1 tbsp of lemon/lime zest
3 tbsp of powdered sugar
Pinch of clove powder
Some soft butter

Texture of the batter has to be a pouring liquid consistency, preferably thin n not very thick; keeping the texture in mind we can adjust the amount of milk and cream n flour or eggs.
Pre-heat the oven at 180 Celsius.

1.  First with a paring knife cut the cherries along its length around the pit but don’t separate the cherry in half, with your fingers open the two half a bit just to expose the flesh. Now when all the cherries are done sprinkle  about 2 tsp of powdered sugar mixed with the clove powder, sprinkle some crushed black pepper on them and then add 2-3 tsp of red rum over them, toss them in that and let them macerate for half to an hour.

2. Grate the lemon/lime zest and mix that with the powdered sugar n pinch of clove powder kept for buttering the ramekins. Now butter the ramekins well, pour the sugar mixture into them and move around the sugar over the butter coat so the sugar creates a coating over the butter layer. Set aside.

3.  Take 20 gm of butter in a pan and on a medium flame let it melt, you will notice hiss sound as it keeps getting warmed, when the sound ceases down it is beginning to go to become beurre noisette, lower the heat now and within a minute you will see the separated milk particles below the butter had started to go brown and the whole butter has become brown in color. This is it, take it off the heat.

4. Time to make the batter, so in a bowl whisk the two eggs lightly, then add a pinch of salt, the milk and whisk lightly again. Then add the flour and whisk so there isn't any lump n nicely combined. Now add the brown butter, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, half clove powdered, freshly crushed black pepper, the cream and whisk to combine. Bring out the cherries now, you will notice some amount of liquid has gathered at the bottom of the cherries, add this liquid to the batter and combine.

5. In the baking dish/ramekins first lay the cherries, the base should be covered with cherries and some over them press the cherries lightly to pack them tightly. Then slowly pour the batter over them so that the batter drowns the cherries almost ¾ but not completely. Some of the cherry surface should be exposed. Now place them in the oven at 180 Celsius for around 30 minutes until the batter starts to go lightly brown on the surface. The batter will rise during baking. The batter should be crusty outside and soft n gooey inside. Let it cool so you can handle them. Serve them on their own or with crème fresh.

Cherry Clafoutis is ready for you now. Dig in with a spoon when it is warm or I like it more when cold. Bon appétit.