Sunday, June 27, 2010

Let's cool off the summer with some Aam Pana

Its hot out here! Summer is here around this part of the world. To experience a weather with a temperature in late 90s and 100s  is not a common thing here in the US. People are flocking all around the swimming pool in front of my apartment, sun bathing with cold beverages in hands. Kids have no time for anything else other-than splashing water and here I am sitting in my patio getting back all the memories from our days back in India.


Summers back home are even harsher than here but they still used to be most fun. Not just because we used to have long vacation away from school and school work or because we were allowed to just go out on the streets and play.. Play n play and just play till the sun goes down and till its dark outside, but also because the season would bring a lot of fun and cool food with itself. Mangoes, lassi, kulfi, a zillion varities of chatni my mom used to make, the list goes on... But something that was kind of a summer staple was Aam Pana.


This drink basically comes from the streets of Northern India and is popular because of its heat resistant properties. A nice and refreshing drink made of raw mangoes which gives it a tangy flavor and right amount of sugar and gud (jaggery) with a hint of mint makes it a perfect thirst quencher.
I am not going to talk more about it because I know I can go on and on. So lets just get down to business!


Ingredients: Its so so easy and quick to make and needs some very basic ingredients that you can find at home everyday or atleast in every Indian household on a summer day!

2 raw mangoes
1/2 tsp salt (salt doesn't really give any flavor to the pana but helps bringing out the tastes of rest of the ingredients)
2 tbsp fresh chopped mint leaves
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp crushed jaggery (if you don't have it handy don't worry just double the quantity of sugar.)
1 jalapeno pepper
1 tsp Toasted and ground cumin (you might not want to overpowder the drink with the cumin because mint should be the hero here!)


Boil the mangoes with skin on. Let it cool and then peel the skin off. Mash the pulp discarding the seed.
Crush mint and seeded jalapenos together to get a nice paste.
Mix everything together and add water to the consistency of pana you would like and put it in the refrigerator to chill.
Garnish with mint leaves.

Monday, June 21, 2010

His first Father's Day and a Chocolate Delight!


We are having so many 'firsts' lately. Yesterday we had another one. "Papa's first Father's Day". This was his first opportunity to be pampered as a daddy and he was loving every second of it. Little monster wished him in her own way by jumping on his face with her open claws while he was fast asleep and he woke up terrified like every morning we do since she's born and then smeared his face with saliva ,just an innocent attempt to kiss him.


Kids give you so many reasons to celebrate and so many reasons to indulge into, "uh! not so waist friendly food" and yesterday was one of those days. Papa's all time favorite dessert is this chocolate cake that I make which is a recipe I stole adopted from Ina Garten.


Now if you are as crazy about Food Network as I am then you have to know Ina Garten and if you know her then chances are you might if not tasted then have seen this Beatty's Chocolate Cake's recipe which I happen to love. This was probably my first attempt at Chocolate Cake and everytime I make it, it tastes even better.


Two secret ingredients... Buttermilk and Coffee! And the cake turns out gooey, moist and delectable!
Then I used a simple butter cream frosting and topped it with some shaved white chocolate. Although the shaving I thought sucked but the cake was a hit like always!


Here's what I did...

Ingredients: (Adopted by Beatty's Chocolate Cake)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar 
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (2part milk + 1 part yogurt) or if u don't have buttermilk add 1tablespoon white vinegar to 1 cup/200ml milk and add to the batter right away don't let it stay.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans , then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl combine sugar, oil and eggs. When mixed all well add buttermilk and vanilla and beat for another 2-3 minutes.
Mixing on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mixing still on low, add a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
To test if the cake is well done poke a clean toothpick or knife right in the center,if it comes out clean the the cake is ready to come out, if not bake until its done.
Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then take the cake out and cool on a cooling rack.

Chocolate Frosting:

6 ounces dark chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Almost 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (stressing on 'almost' because I keep adding my sugar until I get the consistency I want. If you want want your frosting thicker add more if not add less!)
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and melt it. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Beat the butter until fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar in small batches, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip!

Now here's a wonderful tip one of my friends who also is a pastry chef gave me. If you want your cake to be super moist, take a cup of warm water and dissolve two spoon sugar. Take your cake and place it upside down (u should also level the cake from the top by cutting the shiny and slippery area with a big sharp knife) and brush this sugar syrup over it so that the cake absorbs the liquid ( do the same with both the cakes). Place 1 layer, flat on a cake pedestal spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. If u still want to decorate the cake even more u can go ahead and be creative! I was not that creative and patient so I shaved some white chocolate on top of my cake and ate it!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Tandoori Chicken with Cucumber Raita.

The past couple days have been really good. I being a new blogger giggle with joy like a baby when I discover something new out here and if something positive comes out of it, that's just awesome.  I recently got to know about and submitted some of my photographs on Tastespotting and Foodgawker and to my biggest surprise all of them got selected! How cool is that? So you can guess that I'm really excited.


Today there is another reason for us ( me and my dear husband) to be excited . We today add one more year to our togetherness.  One more year and we did not chop each other's heads off. We deserve an award for that. But its so amazing that you love someone and decide to spend your life with them and when you are doing that you fall in love with them all over again. 


Anyways! so like every year or like any special occasion in our home I had to make Rajma Chawal for dinner. He loves it so much that its almost meaningless to plan a special dinner for him and forget about that so that was there and then I also made some Tandoori Chicken along-with Cucumber Raita. It turned out to be a great dinner. Best part was the gift BTW, which always is but this time I got this awesome chef's knife which I had been eyeing for a while. I couldn't resist showing it off on one of the pictures!


Now if you know Indian food then you know Tandoori Chicken. Its easy, its delicious and kind of no brainer and as its summer there had to be some cold raita in the menu.
Here's how I made them:

Ingredients for Tandoori Chicken:

6 chicken drumsticks
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp tandoor masala (optional)
1 tsp garlic powder or you can also use 1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger powder or you can also use 1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp cumin powder
juice of one lime
2 tbsp yogurt ( I used whole milk creamy yogurt firstly because I had some in the fridge and it also gives the chicken some richness. If you don't have whole milk yogurt just add a tsp of extra virgin olive oil)
Salt to taste.


Just mix all the ingredients together. Make a few slits on your drumsticks and rub the marinade on the chicken nicely. Let the chicken marinate for atleast one hour but not more than 24 hours.


Now there are people who add red coloring to the marinade to give it that restaurant style look but I personally don't like it so I didn't do that.

Preheat the oven to 450 deg. F
Place the drumsticks on a baking sheet and place it into the oeven turning the temperature down to 350 deg. F. Let it cook for 20-25 mins and then flip the drumsticks upside down. Cook it for another 10 mins. You'll see a clear juice running out of the chicken when poked, that means your chicken is cooked and its time to turn the oven to broiler. Place the drumsticks on a cooling rack and then cook it on broiler setting for 5 mins and then flip again upside down and another 5 mins.
Your Tandoori Chicken is ready to be served.


I served them with Cucumber Raita. recipe follows...

Ingredients for Cucumber Raita:


1 cup finely chopped cucumber (peeled preferably)
1/2 cup non fat yogurt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chat masala
1/2 tsp red pepper powder

Thoroughly mix all the ingredients and you are done! 


“Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans.”

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Back home and making some Khaman Dhokla

First of all sorry for being MIA for so long. Was taking it a little easy for a while. First we were out for a tiny vacation with one of our family friends who now have left for India for good and so we wanted to spend some time with them and then after a couple days I and my little one flew to California to meet few close friends who had not seen her and were dying to meet. Both the trips were awesome.


Took my little monster to the aquarium for the first time. It was such a delight to see her looking at those colorful fishes with her big brown eyes wide open. Gosh! she's beautiful.


Aimlessly walking on the streets taking some pictures.


Shopping & eating a lot of street food.. I mean a LOT of it!



It was pure fun!

But now after traveling across the country and having loads of fun we're back to our nest again and boy does it feel good to be back home?? This is the first weekend when the whole family was together again after the break so I thought of making a nice traditional breakfast. Made some Khaman Dhokla which is basically a Gujrati dish and  a common Indian street food too. 


This was the first time I tried making it after marriage and without my mom's supervision so you can say it has been yearsss so I was anxious about how its going to taste but it turned out good. Good enough that I gathered the courage to share it with you.



For Batter:
Besan/Chickpea flour – 1 1/2 cups
Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Water – 1/2 cup
Baking Soda – 3/4 tsp

For seasoning to be mixed to the batter
Oil – 1 tbsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Citric acid – 1/4 tsp
salt to taste

For tempering
Mustard Seeds - 1 tbsp
Green thai chilli - 1-2 (or add more if u like it hot!)
Cilantro leaves - just for garnish
Heeng- just a pinch
Little water + Oil(around 1/4 cup together with a ratio 4:1)


Beat yogurt first and thin it out adding water. Now take besan and start adding the liquid into it beating thoroughly making sure we don't leave any lumps. The paste should be thick enough almost like pancake batter. Stir in the baking soda and set it aside to rise for about 1 hr.
After an hour or so when the batter has risen add the rest of the ingredients into the batter. Mix everything together.
Now we need to prepare a vessel for steaming. Best would be a pressure cooker but if you don't have that you can use a thick bottom pot which has a tight lid with an opening for the steam to escape. Fill the pot upto 2 inches with water and place a small metal/steal bowl upside down. Bring water to boil.
Transfer the batter into a greased baking dish. Your baking dish will sit on top of the bowl inside the pot of boiling water so make sure the dish is small enough to be placed inside the pot.
Cover the pressure cooker or pot with the lid and let it cook on medium high for about 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn off the heat. Cover it for one more minute, uncover and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Then pour/brush the water oil mixture on top of it. Just like brushing cake with water and sugar mixture before this process makes the Khaman even more moist.
For tadka just heat oil, add heeng and mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds pop add cut green chili. Cook it for 30 seconds and then pour it over the Khaman Dhokla. Garnish with cilantro.
Cut the cake into smaller bite size pieces and serve with green and/or tamarind chutney.


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