Friday, March 9, 2012

Indian Simmer Loves- Journey Kitchen

Last one week was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me and my friends and family. Some fabulous highs and then some sudden lows. I was confused how to take it all in and then I met Kulsum online and we started talking. As usual she knew how to say the right things and bring me back to smile. Has it ever happened to you that someone makes you feel so comfortable and slowly sneaks into your life and you do not even know how he or she looks like? Like a pen friend you have never had as a child. That's what Kulsum and I have become during the course of this one year that we've known each other. We started our food blogs almost around the same time. She writes a lovely food blog Journey Kitchen where she shares her recipes, beautifully blending the modern and traditional Indian cooking. She is funny, spontaneous and LOVELY to talk to and it shows clearly in her writing. With her sweet stories she can easily become a part of you and with her approachable recipes she will make you cook India food. Don't even make me start on her photography skills, her photographs are nothing less than an eye candy. So let's meet Kulsum Kunwa of Journey Kitchen!


Tell us about yourself and what you would say is your food philosophy?
To start with, my name is Kulsum and I’m the blogger behind the blog Journey Kitchen. I’m an Indian expat born and brought up in a small Middle Eastern country of Kuwait. Then, life took a turn and my family shifted back to India for good. But as luck had it, I got married and moved back to Kuwait to live with my husband! Growing up, I was clearly the most enthusiastic foodie in the house. I criticized, demanded and talked about food with my mom all the time, but it was not until I got married, I truly understood the value of those conversations. My mom has always been a modern cook whereas my mother in law is a traditional one, my understanding of traditional food and its modern interpretation stems from these two fabulous ladies in my life.

My food philosophy is quite simple- wholesome and flavorful food and spice plays an important role in creating that food.

Let's Eat

What led you to starting a food blog?
When I started I didn’t know what ‘blogging’ was. For me, it was an online journal so that I could share recipe links with my friends. I love talking about food, where it comes from, how it  should be cooked, how it affects our lives, how it is related to our past and my friends as I soon realized where not very keen on all that talking. The blog helped me talk to myself and save the pain for my friends I guess. Eventually, I found people online who were passionate about food as much as I’m. Today, Journey Kitchen is my creative outlet, from recipes to photography, it is my happy place.

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What would you say "Journey Kitchen" is all about and please share a recipe that best describes your blog?
Journey Kitchen is a modern Indian cooking blog. But unlike what many think, modern cooking is not about moving away from the traditional roots instead it’s about going back to the traditional ingredients and cooking method and recreating them using latest techniques. Journey Kitchen is about food that has reassurance and comfort of the past but is also exciting enough to enjoy it today. It’s my humble attempt to change the way Indian food is perceived.  My husband’s love for traditional food and my love for modern make sure we always have great food and humorous arguments on the table which I often share on the blog.

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Today’s recipe is inspired from a traditional sweet yogurt recipe from the city of Kolkatta called Mishti Doi (Mishti meaning sweet and doi meaning yogurt) , which my husband has childhood memories of. Mishti Doi is also called Lal doi meaning red yogurt due to it characteristic reddish color. It is made by caramelizing milk and then setting fresh yogurt in earthen pots. Considering I always have dulce de leche on hand, sweetening my hot chocolate and drizzle it over everything I bake, I figured it will work great for adding that caramelized flavor for Mishti doi.

Hot Cocoa

Dulce de leche is a Latin American spread, made by slowly converting the sugar in sweetened condensed milk until it caramelizes. After hours of cooking what you get is creamy, caramel flavored sweet milk, almost like a jam. I always make my own but you could easily use store bought.

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Baked Dulce de leche Yogurt – Mishti Doi
Serves: 6-7

Ingredients

2 cups yogurt
1 can (395g)  dulce de leche
100 ml heavy cream
1/2 tsp rose water (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven at 170 C. Whisk all the ingredients together for 2-3 minutes.

You can use individual ramekins or a large oven safe bowl to bake it. The baking time with differ according to what you use, but it generally ready when it’s thick and set in the middle. For the small ramekins I used, I baked them for only 15 minutes. Baking in larger bowl can take up to 30 -40 minutes. When I recently made it again, I thought of covering the ramekins with aluminum foil which helped in reducing the little drying you see at the edges when you bake in small ramekins.

Once baked, let it come to room temperature and chill for at least 5 hours before serving. Garnish with pecans.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Jalebi Recipe & Announcing #IndianFoodPalooza

I was putting her to bed and as usual she says Maa, kahani (Mom, story). My already tiny, box of stories was almost empty this time. I couldn't think of any new friendly dragon or a lion king's story. But then somehow I ended up telling her about this bus ride I would take with my Papa as a kid. We would go visit my grand mother who lived in another city, a few hour drive away. The bus would go through a jungle, over the mountain, across two rivers and would pass a hanuman temple. I would always looks for real monkeys outside of the temple, but could never see one. It looked like she was starting to like the story, her eyes can tell everything very easily. And then those eyes widened a little more when I told her about this bus stop and the mithai shops (sweet shops) around it. Jalebi? She asked, when I told her about the several sweets in those mithai shops. Maa, I like Jalebi. You never make jalebi, she complained. I think you should make it one day, she suggested. I will, I promised. Pakka (sure), she asked. Yes, I smiled and carried on with the bus ride and jungle.

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But after that conversation only a heartless or a fool would wake up next morning and not make jalebis! I had different plans for my first recipe, kick starting this Indian food event Indian Food Palooza but plans are meant to change, right? I had never made jalebi before in my life and although these crunchy little sweet treats were greatly missed after moving to the US, they always intimidated me. But then I thought if I really wanted to have you get out of your comfort zone and try cooking Indian food, then I should get over my intimidation too. So I made some jalebis for my little monster and also for this fun event that today I am starting with two very dear friends of mine and Indian food enthusiasts Kathy and Barbara. Well, the jalebis did not turn out to be the prettiest ones but they sure were crispy, light, sweet and absolutely nostalgic!

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The day I announced my book, I, Kathy and Barbara were chatting on twitter. Somehow the conversation turned to Indian food and how some people find it a little intimidating. And then somehow we got this crazy idea for an event where we could motivate people to cook some Indian food and learn a few things about it and maybe along the way can teach us a thing or two as well. And the next thing we know, we were planning Indian Food Palooza (credit for the name goes to Barbara by the way!). Some friends were gracious enough to giveaway some prizes too.

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We are very happy to announce a month long event Indian Food Palooza,  celebrating Indian food and cooks like you. We would love for you to join us and cook some Indian food this month. Whether you are experienced with cooking Indian cuisine or a little new to it, we encourage you to try something this month and let us know about it. Towards the end of this post I have listed out how you can join us with this event and also the details for some fabulous giveaways we have for you. But before that how about you take a look at the recipe for jalebi?

Recipe

Recipe in detail:

INGREDIENTS: Makes about 8-10 jalebis
1 cup all purpose flour
2 ½ tablespoon rice flour
1 teaspoon yeast or 3 tablespoon sour yogurt
¼ teaspoon saffron
¼ teaspoon turmeric
For Sugar Syrup-
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon rose water (optional)
Oil (for deep frying)
 

METHOD:In 2-3 tablespoon hot water dissolve yeast. Cover and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Now combine flour and spices in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and adding water, little at a time make a thick batter. Cover and let it ferment for an 1-2 hours.
If using yogurt instead of yeast then repeat the same process just the batter would be thinner in this case. Exactly like a pancake batter. Cover and ferment for 6-8 hours or overnight.
In the meantime make a one strand sugar syrup cooking sugar and water for 15-20 minutes on medium heat.
After fermentation the batter should be light and flowy. Add extra water if needed.
Heat oil for deep frying. Using a funnel, piping bag (with tip number 12), a Ziploc bag (cut a small opening), a jalebi maker of a plastic ketchup bottle with a nizzle like opening, pipe the batter into the oil in circular motion.
Fry until the jalebi is golden on both sides. Take it out of the fryer and drop into the hot syrup for 5-7 seconds. Strain the extra syrup out and take the jalebis out. Serve with yogurt, rabdi or just as it is.

To be eligible to win a prize you must:
  • Post an Indian dish on your blog between March 1, 2012 and March 31, 2012.
  • Link your dish up using the linking tool at the bottom of the post; only one entry per person please. Entering your dish on any of our sites will have it display on all three.
  • Put a link in your post to this post so that your readers can join us too!
  • Prize winners will be chosen and winners notified March 31, 2012 using the email included on the link created. Winners will have until April 4, 2012 to respond with shipping information or another winner will be chosen.
Please note:  We want to encourage everyone to join us and share their experience but our
sponsors are shipping prizes directly and have requested that we limit the shipping area to the
Continental USA.
Prizes to be awarded include:
My other two partners in crime:
Kathy of The Colors of Indian Cooking is making Aviyal
Barbara of Creative Culinary is making Mumbai Sandwich

Some other useful links which might help you with Indian cooking.
KO Rasoi by Sanjana
Chef In You
eCurry by Soma Rathore
Journey Kitchen by Kulsum
Cook In a Curry by Maunika Gowardhan
Tongue Ticklers by Harini Prakash
Lite Bite by Sanjeeta
Veggie Belly by Sala Kanan
Kothiyavunu which is a great source for Kerala recipes
Sandhyas Kitchen
Cookbooks by Suvir Saran and Madhur Jaffery

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