Monday, November 29, 2010

Chicken Roganjosh with Cumin & Cinnamon scented rice

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Without even realizing we get so busy rushing to some place that we sometimes overlook simple things in life. But thanks to some special occasions and festivals like thanksgiving which give us a chance to just take a pause and look around and realize how lucky we are. This thanksgiving I too got a chance to sit back and look around myself. Now if asked to describe how my life is right now in one single word then it will be CRAZY!! That is what it is! Every day is new and different. But now I know what people meant when they used to say that "simple things in life bring the real joy!". I'm feeling that joy every day with some of the most gorgeous people I've ever met and hope this thanksgiving you felt the same!

Chicken&rice

My thanksgiving was, let's just say full of interesting events and it all began with me not finding a turkey! Yes, we had a non turkey thanksgiving this year and trust me it was not at all bad. We still ate a LOT and we still had a lot of fun! That's what holidays are all about, aren't they? How was your thanksgiving? And how was FOOD? Are you already at a point when you dread opening the fridge to find that leftover turkey? Then I'm guessing you had a great thanksgiving! Hopefully today's recipe will help you come out of the turkey coma. I'm sharing a recipe for Chicken Roganjosh with some Cumin and Cinnamon scented rice cooked with sundried tomatoes .

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Many of you must have heard of a Roganjosh. It's one of the most popular Indian curries and comes from the north most state of India, Kashmir. It was primarily brought to India by Mughals but later adopted by Kasmiri pandits. The authentic Roganjosh is made with no onions and garlic because back then pandits won't eat the two and the gravy is cooked in  creamy yogurt with a mixture of several spices. The main spice used in the recipe is Kashmiri Mirch or red pepper from Kashmir. They are not very hot but give this vibrant red color to the dish. You can make it with any kind of meat but most commonly used is lamb or mutton. I used chicken. And again I made my roganjosh with both onion and garlic since I don't have a religious restriction and at the same time that helped make the gravy thicker.

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Then I served my Chicken Roganjosh with some Cinnamon and Cumin scented rice that I cooked in clarified butter and later added some sundried tomatoes to it. That gave my rice a touch of tanginess with some mild fragrance of spices and that paired really well with the creamy yogurt curry of roganjosh. Let's come to the recipe now.

Ingredients: Chicken roganjosh

1 pound boneless chicken cut into 1-2 inch thickness (I used both thighs and breasts)
1 cup whole fat yogurt (You can use low fat yogurt too if you want but I just wanted a creamy rich sauce)
3 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 cup onion paste
1 tbsp Kashmiri red pepper powder (You can find it in any Indian/International store. But If you still can't find it, just use 1/2 tbsp red pepper powder)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fennel seeds
2-3 cloves
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of asefetida
1 tsp Madras curry (Or you can even use garam masala)
2 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp clarified butter
salt

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Method:

In a bowl mix yogurt, salt, Kashmiri red pepper powder and ginger garlic paste. Add chicken. Mix everything well and set it aside for half an hour.
Heat oil in a thick bottom pan. Add onion paste and cook it until it turns color to golden brown.
Turn heat to medium low.
Now add all the spices except the curry powder. Mix it all together.
Add the chicken.
Stirring it every couple minutes, let the chicken cook slowly without covering it. Slow cooking is the key when it comes to making a nice and rich curry.
When you feel that the chicken is almost done (which should take anywhere around 20 minutes), add the madras curry powder (or garam masala).
Cook until done.
Note:- This dish has a thick gravy but if you want the curry to be thinner, feel free to add a little water before adding the curry powder and give it a nice boil.

Scentedrice

Ingredients: Tomato rice

1 1/2 cups of basmati rice
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp butter
Salt

Method:

Wash rice in water thoroughly. Soak them in water and set aside.
Place pan on the burner, turn on the heat and add oil and butter together. Let the slowly heating pan melt the butter.
Now add cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Once the cumin seeds start popping, add the tomatoes.
Mix it all together and add drained rice. Keep it stirring.
You will hear a popping sound when all the excess water from the rice is gone. Now add salt.
Add about 3 cups of water.
Bring it to a nice boil, then turn the heat to medium, cover the lid and let the rice simmer and cook.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Apple, Cranberry and Pecan Torta with spiced whipped cream!

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Have you decided what is going be on your Thanksgiving menu this year? I'm sure many of you must be working on it for weeks and everything must be planned to the last dish. I mean of course, Thanksgiving is one of those rare occasions in the whole year when the entire family can come together and food is the main part so it needs to be planned, right? But there must definitely be a few like me who still have no idea what they are going to make. My biggest problem is that I get bored very quickly and the same menu every year just doesn't roll with me! So I try to shake things up in whatever way I can by not compromising tradition and that's what eats up my time. Does that happen to you too? This year has been no different for me - with just one exception - this time at least I have decided what's going to be for dessert. Apple, cranberry and pecan torta served with a big dollop of some spiced whipped cream.

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Oh yeah, That's what I'm talking about! If the title made you drool then let me tell you the recipe is simply to die for! I can say that this is one recipe that I truly "heart" and it has nearly displaced the traditional pie in our house.

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This is one of Giada's recipes that I've been making over and over. I keep tweaking it here and there from time to time and it still comes out great. But what I'm sharing today is the closest I have gone to the original recipe without compromising my family's taste and preference. The best part is that its SO easy that my little one helped me make it this time! You just need fruit and all kinds of them!  Fresh, dried and even nuts. I used fresh apples, dried cranberries and pecans but you can just use anything that you like - pears, any kind of berries, peaches, plums...anything! Then you add tons of butter in it because hey, if you want it to taste good then you gotta have butter in it! Spice it up with whatever spice you love cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice (I've tried it all!).

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I have to admit that in this case more than the actual torta I spent more time thinking what I should serve it with when I'm sharing it with you. I've tried ice cream, whipped cream and even some berry sauces but what I loved it most with is whipped cream. Now since its thanksgiving it can't be some plain whipped cream right? So I added spices to the whipped cream too. In the past I had tried adding cinnamon and nutmeg and also all spice and it tasted pretty good but since I again wanted to try something new I just asked some of my foodie friends for ideas. I loved Stephani's idea of cloves and all spice and Jamie's idea of cardamom and I was confused again so I decided to try both and let the taste tester in our family decide. And so he did and we finally ended up serving it with cardamom spiced whipped cream.

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I'm happy that I was able to share the recipe just in time to also send it to the event Monthly Mingle. Brainchild of Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey, this event is hosted by Deeba of Passionate about baking this month.The theme this month was Fruit in Baking and so I thought that the time for this recipe would be just perfect since it can be made with all kinds of fruits. Here's how I made this Apple, Cranberry and Pecan Torta with spiced whipped cream.

Ingredients: (Apple, cranberry and pecan torta)
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' recipe

1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp salted butter (since I used salted butter, I didn't add any extra salt to it. You can add a pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp fresh orange zest
4 eggs
1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 1/4 cups of peeled diced apples
1/2 cups chopped walnuts

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Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
Toast pecans in the over for around 4-5 minutes.
In a small microwavable bowl take the orange juice, add dried cranberries to it and microwave for 15 seconds. This would help the cranberries puff and absorb some orange juice.
Sift and mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
In the other bowl cream butter and sugar together.
When they get light and pale yellow in color, add eggs one at a time with mixer on medium high speed. Then add vanilla extract.
Now turn the mixer to low and add dry ingredients slowly.
Add fruits and the rest of the ingredients and mix everything well together.
Take a 10 inch wide baking dish (I used a quiche pan) and spray some oil on the inside so that the torta doesn't stick. Pour the batter into it.
Bake it for around 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center.
This dish can be served warm with some ice cream or whipped cream.

Ingredients: (Cardamom spiced whipped cream)

1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Method:
With your mixer on medium high, whip the cream. Add sugar 1 tbsp at a time and then add crushed cardamom. Whip until soft peak forms. Anywhere after that, the cream starts to separate so stop after that.
Add a dollop of this spiced whipped cream over a BIG piece of fruit torta and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - A walk!

A simple walk around the neighborhood has also become a treat for our eyes these days! Trying to send a virtual treat your way so you can enjoy it too (I hope you do!)

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houses

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color

P.S- No I don't live close to heaven!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tandoori Quesadillas - Cooking with "The Comfort of Apples"

This is not a sponsered review.
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You must be wondering that what the heck happened to me? I was wondering the same! I mean first our family was traveling to California for this tiny get together with friends and with us we brought some painful bug. All three of us were down with cold and A got flu too. Well, somehow when our health came back on track and I thought of connecting again with my blog and with you wonderful readers I realized that I'm having such a terrible writers block! I mean I try to just talk to you here just as I would talk to my friends sitting on a couch sipping a cup of tea but I still need some words right? And for a blog post one also needs some good food which I was not really cooking for the past one week. So to cure both my writers block and my cooking block I went to a (infact two) lovely people who are both great chefs and writers too and have just released a book. The Comforts Of Apples!

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Well, I'm talking about Philip and Lauren. A GORGEOUS chef and writer duo who happen to be real life parteners too. How cool is that? The lovely world of social media brought me in touch with Phil and Lauren who are just really great people to say the least. One day on twitter I was chatting with Lauren and she told me about this new book which they were going to launch soon and I showed my excitement and told her how much I was looking forward to seeing it. And the next thing I know her publisher calls me to ask for my address as she wanted to send me a copy of her new book! I was so amazed and touched by her graciousness.

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So very soon I receive this gorgeous book in my mail and I loved the book the very moment I saw it! The book is named "The Comfort Of Apples - Modern Recipes For An Old-Fashioned Favorite". I found it so creative of them to create such great recipes all involving apples. I mean who doesn't like apples and I am sure I am not the only one with an occasional challenge of what to do with a ton of apples sitting in my kitchen.

AppleChutney

When you think of apples the first thing that comes to mind is something sweet. I was amazed to see diverse range of recipes created simply around apples. The book reinforces the best part about food - you can do so much and come up with delicious surprises! I want to congratulate Lauren and Phil on this great book which I know is doing really well and if you like anything apple then this book is an answer to all your cravings!

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Don't worry this is not the end! There's food involved in this post too! I liked and have tried several recipes from this book but something that I really loved and I thought was interesting was the recipe for Tandoori Quesadillas. Indian and Mexian flavors brought in together in a great way with the help of apple juice with the biggest surprise being Apple Chutney. It was amazing how it helped marry all the flavors together.

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So I thought that this all-time favorite Mexican recipe loaded with Indian flavors all combined together with a punch of The Comfort Of Apples would be perfect to be presented on Indian Simmer! I hope know you'll like it.

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Ingredients:

4 pounds chicken legs (6-7 legs), seperated into thighs and drumsticks, skinned 
4 cups apple juice
Juice of 2 lemons
5 cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1 cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoon tandoori food coloring (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper
8 ounces goat cheese, softened
1/2 cup minced cilantro
8 large flour tortillas
apple chutney
1 cup toasted coconut

Method:

In a large bowl , combine the chicken, apple juice, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hr.
Toast the spices in a small saucepan over low heat until fragrant. Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to coarsely grind the spices.
In a food processor or blender, puree the spices, garlic, onion, ginger, yogurt, food coloring, 1/2 tsp of the salt, and the pepper until smooth.
Drain the juices from the chicken, and toss the chicken with the yogurt - spice mix to coat. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. Lift the chicken pieces out of the yogurt marinade, shaking off any excess. Place the chicken on a foil-lined tray, season with remaining salt, and bake for 25 to 30 mins. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat into a bowl along with any juices from the tray. Fold in the goat cheese and cilantro.
Lower the oven temperature to 200deg. F. Place one tortilla in a large pan over medium heat. Scatter 1 cup chicken evenly over the tortilla leaving a 1/2 inch border on all sides. Top with a layer of chutney, sprinkle generously with the coconut, and cover with another tortilla. Pressing lightly with spatula, cook until browned on the other side. Turn onto a tray and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Cut each quesadilla into quarters and serve.

 “Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Simple things in life!

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Simple things in life that make me smile!

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Gajar Halwa (Carrot Pudding) for Diwali

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After missing a flight, then running almost a half marathon across the airport and juggling with a hungry and sleep deprived toddler, we finally managed to land at the opposite end of the country! Sending a warm hello from a windy and chilly California! We are visiting San Francisco, the place we used to call home and now our close friends do. Living thousands and thousands of miles away from family, these are a few friends we can call family now. It's always a delight to spend some quality time and giggle n laugh with them, especially on festivals! Its Diwali today ...

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One of the biggest and most celebrated Hindu festivals. You might have read my post on Dussehra a while back, 20 days to be exact! In that post I told about Lord Rama and his victory over the evil. The story and celebrations don't end there. Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana comes back home after 14 years of banishment and since then that day is celebrated by Hindus all over the world as Diwali. It is also known as the festival of lights and is celebrated with an evening full of fireworks and diyas.

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Apart from celebrating the festival we are also here to celebrate a big day for one of our friends. Another reason for a party! So I and my friend were discussing the menu for the party over the phone and she wanted everything to be Indian and suggested we make Gajar Halwa for dessert. She said it doesn't get any homey and traditional Indian than Gajar Halwa! I have not met a single Indian or an Indian food lover who doesn't like Gajar Halwa and my mom-in-law prabably makes the best halwa in the world!

Like a few of my mom's and my mom-in-law's recipes Gajar Halwa is something which I had to try and fail for a zillion times until I got to the exact taste. So I thought of sharing another family recipe with all you loved ones and let you enjoy it while I'm enjoying a warm bowl full here in this cold weather.

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Ingredients:

Grated carrot - 1 pound
2 tbsp - Ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup whole milk
7 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup of any nuts (I used almond flakes and cashews)

Method:

Heat a large pan, add ghee and fry the nuts in it. As soon as they are little brown take them out and set aside.
Now add the grated carrots into the pan with remaining ghee. Cook it for a minute and then add milk.
Mix it well, turn down the heat to low and let it simmer until carrots are half cooked. Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Now add condensed milk and stir it all well together. (I personally don't like anything very sweet so if I find my carrots sweet enough after adding sweetened condensed milk then I don't add any more sugar, but if you like it sweet then go ahead and add sugar now.)
By this time milk must have completely evaporated. Now stir the mix every couple minutes scratching the sides and bottom if anything's sticking and let it cook until carrots are cooked.
You will notice that carrots would change color and get darker and when there's no extra liqiud seeping out except some oil/ghee that's when your halwa is cooked.
Add nuts.
Turn the heat off and try not to cover it for a while.
Serve warm.

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Wish you all a happy Diwali!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Busy making memories!

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Beautiful Asheville!

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I have to be honest, moving from California I had my own reservations about how North Carolina would be. How will the people be like? How fun the place is going to be? And will I be able to call it my home? But every city, every town and even the countryside I have been to in the Carolinas has surprised me! And our recent trip to Asheville was no different. I had been hearing about this small town in North Carolina for ever! Every time I spoke with someone coming back from a trip to Asheville, they were gaga about the place and I and A would decide that we should go. We've been living in NC for more than two years now and Asheville is barely a couple of hours away from here and we still couldn't plan a trip. This fall was no different - visiting Asheville had been on the top of my list and we finally did!

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This Saturday we made this small trip and saw beautiful Asheville. Beautiful and colorful is what it is. As soon as we entered the town, it somehow reminded us of San Francisco. Lot of color, people with vibrant clothes, narrow downtown streets with small restaurants, musicians playing on the roadside and at this time of the year some gorgeous fall color! It was amazing to see all of that at one place.

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This past weekend the town, just like a lot other towns all around the world, was celebrating Halloween so people were in a fun mood. The peak of fall and trees resplendent with color made the whole experience even more beautiful.

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Now wherever a foodie goes, the first thing they look for is food! So being a loyal food lover I had to do my fair share of restaurant hopping. I was surprised to see that Asheville had some of the best restaurants I have been to. With best I definitely don't mean fancy restaurants with shiny silverware and tough to pronounce menu, but I mean some really fun places to hang out with friends and taste some really good food. Recommended by my friend Julie, we tried this Indian restaurant called Chai Pani in downtown Asheville. If you like Indian food and if you are in Asheville or anywhere close, go to this place!

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I promise you'll love it. I did! Everything from the decor to management to food is fun. Special props to some awesome photographers whose work is showcased at the restaurant. Some of them made me want to go back to my country and capture some real beauty of India through my camera too!

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This little bakery on the corner of the Pack Square street by the name of Sister's McMullen was another treat! A couple was serving homemade cupcakes and brownies with some freshly brewed coffee and this was where we had one of the best Chocolate ganache and raspberry jam filled cupcakes.

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Some interesting photo ops too!

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Long story short.. With Asheville we got way more than what we had bargained for! I'd love to go again and bring back even more beauty back.
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