Friday, May 27, 2016

Mango Panna

During summer in India when the temps soar and lethargy sets in, all you want to do is drink something cold and not move a muscle.  Watermelon, coconut water, cucumber, and lemons… all these great summer coolers come in handy. Another very popular and fave summer drink is Mango panna. It is a tangy refreshing raw mango drink to beat the heat. An ideal sweet and sour summer cooler for when mangoes are in abundance.
The tangy sourness of the raw mango is balanced by sugar and black salt. So the recipe here is just a guideline. All the quantities will depend on how sour the mangoes are. Addition of mint and roasted crushed cumin seeds gives it a flavor boost. Serve it on the rocks and enjoy.

4 medium sized raw mangoes
6 cups of water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp Black salt
1 tsp salt
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
Freshly ground black pepper, optional
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  1. Place the raw mangoes in a pressure cooker and add 2 cups of water.
  2. Pressure cook for 2 minutes on simmer after the whistle. Let cool.
  3. Scoop out all the pulp from the mango seed and peel. Discard the peel and seed.
  4. Add remaining water, salt, black salt, roasted cumin powder and blend using a hand blender. 
  5. Finely chop mint leaves and add to the mix. If desired, add some freshly ground black pepper. 
  6. Taste the concoction. Based on the ripeness of the mangoes, the drink might require more sugar and/or salt. It should be a balance of sweet-sour-salty. So add more of sugar and/or black salt if needed.
  7. Chill before serving. Make sure to give it a stir (as the pulp might have settled down) before pouring in a tall glass filled with ice. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sole Meunière

Tonight's Menu
Sole Meunière
Roast veggies
Steamed rice

Sole is a succulent meaty fish with a delicate flavor. A simple preparation works best to enhance its
taste and texture. Sole Meunière is a classic French preparation where the seasoned sole filet is lightly dusted with flour and pan fried in butter to get crisp exterior with a moist tender center, then served with lime butter sauce.
This quick uncomplicated recipe takes fifteen minutes to make and is perfect for a weeknight dinner. Serve it with rice/creamy mashed potatoes and mixed greens/roasted veggies. I used a blend of peppers, mushroom, zucchini and onions.     

Sole Meunière
Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 boneless, skinless sole fillets
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup flour
5-6 tbsp unsalted butter
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1⁄2 lime, thinly sliced for serving
  1. Season the sole fillets on both sides with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour. Shake off any excess flour and keep aside. 
  2. Heat 4 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat till the pan is heated and butter melts. 
  3. Add the sole fillets to the pan and cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides and just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer these to individual plates and sprinkle with parsley. 
  4. To make the sauce add the remaining butter to the skillet and cook, swirling the pan, until butter begins to brown. Add lemon juice and zest, cook until heated through, and then pour evenly over fillets. Serve with lemon slices.
Roast vegetables 
Use any combination you desire. I used peppers, mushroom and zucchini.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 zucchini
1 each red and yellow pepper
1 lb button mushrooms
1/2 red onion
Salt and cracked black to taste
Olive oil
Dry Parsley
Cut all the vegetables into large chunks. Add salt, pepper, olive oil and parsley and mix well. Spread evenly on a greased baking dish and roast on high till lightly charred and tender crisp. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mutton Biryani

Developed in the royal kitchens of Nawabs and Rajas, biryani is a royal culinary masterpiece. Biryani is always a crowd pleaser and this version is sure to please your palate with its rich texture and bold flavors.  Engulfed in flavorful mutton and a plethora of nuts the rice acquires a heavenly taste. A must try for all.

Ingredients and preparation:
For the mutton
1 lb mutton cubed into 2 inch pieces
1 cup plain yogurt beaten well
Kashmiri red chili powder (for color and desired heat level)
salt to taste
1 large red onion chopped fine
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
More Kashmiri red chili powder if desired
Marinade spices:
1/4 teaspoon each of whole dry cumin and coriander,
3 whole cloves
1 long stick cinnamon
4 green cardamoms
1 black cardamoms
Few black peppercorns
¾ teaspoon anardana powder (dry pomegranate powder)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
Cooking the mutton:
  1. Take all the marinade spices and lightly toast them in a dry skillet. Let cool and coarsely grind them together in a dry grinder or mortar and pestle. Do not powder them fine, keep them grainy.
  2. Combine these spices with the yogurt and salt and Kashmiri chili powder to form a marinade. Marinate mutton pieces in this for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. To cook the mutton, heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add chopped onion and fry at medium high, stirring constantly till they turn pink.
  4. At this point add the ginger garlic paste and continue stirring for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the marinated mutton mixture along with tomato paste, and coat them well with the onion mixture. Fry for 2-4 more minutes.
  6. Add all the other spices and 3/4 cup of water and stir well. Reduce the heat and simmer covered. At this point the aim is to infuse the mutton with all the wonderful spices while slowly cooking it. Check occasionally and add more water if need
  7. After about 25-30 minutes the mutton will be almost done. The best way to tell is when you see the entire concoction leaving oil from all sides. At this point remove from heat. There should not be too much liquid in the pan and mutton should be surrounded by a little bit of gravy. If there is too much liquid boil it off.
For the rice
2 cups long grain basmati rice
6 cups water
1 teaspoon ghee
1 teaspoon salt
Cooking the rice:
  1. Wash the rice well with cold water.
  2. Soak rice for 30 minutes. Drain.
  3. Bring the 6 cups of water with salt and ghee to boil. As it comes to a rolling boil add the soaked rice. Stir. Wait till it comes back to boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Check the rice grain at this point. It should be only three quarters cooked.
  5. Remove from heat and drain out all the water. Rice is now ready to layer.
Other ingredients
Few strands of saffron soaked in 1 teaspoon of hot water (for 2-3 mins)
2 tbsp dry mint (or 1 cup fresh mint chopped fine)
1 cup fresh coriander chopped fine
2 large red onions sliced, fried till golden brown
Handful mixed nuts (cashew nuts and almonds) lightly toasted in 1/2 tsp oil
Assembling the Biryani:
  1. Preheat the oven at 375 F.
  2. In a large greased casserole, start layering. Layer half the rice at the bottom. Top with half the toasted nuts, followed by half the fried onions, mint and coriander.
  3. Sprinkle saffron water randomly over the rice. Top with half the mutton. Now repeat the layers again. Do not try to mix the rice and mutton together.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes till rice cooks completely.
  5. Give a random light stir to the entire concoction and see the beautiful colors and aromas blending together.
  6. Serve steaming hot with Raita.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Chana dal Dhokla

A perfect teatime savory snack. This recipe was shared with me by one of my mom's Gujarati friend. Dhokla or steamed lentil cakes can be made using many different ingredients such as besan, semolina, etc. This version is made from soaked and ground chana dal. The addition of other ingredients adds texture and the aromatic tempering gives the perfect flavor. Pair it with green chutney for a sumptuous and finger licking dish.
This traditional farsaan (Gujarati snack items) can be served for breakfast, high tea or as a starter with the main meal.

1 cup chana dal
1/2 cup moong dal
3-4 green chilies
1 tsp ginger grated
1 t baking soda
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
For garnish
Fresh grated coconut
Fresh green or red chilies
Fresh coriander
For tempering
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
3-4 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp water
  1. Soak the two lentils separately overnight.
  2. Coarsely grind them with green chilies and ginger using as little water as possible.
  3. Add baking soda, turmeric, salt and oil. Mix the batter well.
  4. Pour the batter in dhokla mold and steam them for 15 minutes.
  5. Cool before removing from the mold.
  6. Cut into small triangles.
  7. To temper, heat the oil and add mustard seeds. Let these roast for a few seconds. Add sugar, water and lime juice to it.
  8. Spoon the tempering evenly over the lentil cakes. 
  9. Garnish with coconut, coriander and chilies.
  10. Serve cold or at room temperature.