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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kitchen Ninja Challenge Part 1- Sweet and Sour Kheema Cakes

Friends make a day trip to Pune and come back with stories of rain. They talk about pregnant clouds that burst apart releasing the cool droplets of water on their face. They have a happy dance, drenched to the core. Such joy shows through their crinkled eyes as they relate the romance of the rain-drenched tales.

Me, in Mumbai, look sadly up at sky, showing my clenched fist. There is not a speck of cloud. The strong sunrays reflect on the bright white wall opposite me, reflecting its glare on me, almost blinding me.

Please pour, please pour, send some clouds into my town” I plead, I curse, “just for a day if you please, because today is the theme of my recipe on rain, I need some inspirations to churn out a dish.”

But there is no respite.

But still, I walk into my kitchen, to cook up a special meal, with dry rain on my mind, I will pretend it rained tonight. Sweet and sour kheema cake is on my mind. I am going to be creative, global, marry the Thai with Indian cuisine.

Thanks to my ‘Kitchen Ninjas’ a group of food bloggers on online Watsapp, we decide to cook and share unique recipes –to do something extraordinary, we will be in our kitchen each month, playing around with ingredients to mix and match, to create a dish, to challenge ourselves. The challenge for this month is ‘A date with Mumbai Rains’, so even if there is no rain, (no proper influence with mother nature perhaps) we will still go as planned.

My fellow food bloggers in this crime:

 Rum Glazed Sticky Chicken by Elson Sequeira from The Tummy Tale 
Poppadom Crusted Asian Style Baked Tofu by Samina Patel from The Cupcake Confession 
The crispy Masala Carp by Antara Ray from Zouqh
 Spicy Mango Salad by Mohit Chotrani from The Hungry Bawarchi
Chicken Roulade with a Pomegranate Sauce by Shanti Padukone from Riot of flavors

Amrutha Langs from Amrutha's Cookbook
Jahan Bloch from The Toxic Baker

Do visit their blog to steal their recipes and stir a similar pot in your own kitchen to enjoy with your own group of family and friends.
So, here is mine.

Sweet and Sour Kheema Cakes
1 bunch of basil leaves
1 medium size potatoes
1tsp black pepper
3-florets of broccoli
1 egg
1tbsp mustard oil
1 finely chopped onions
1tsp garlic crushed
1tsp ginger crushed
2 green chilies
1 chicken cube
1tbsp Thai curry paste
250gms chicken kheema
1 finely sliced tomatoes
Salt to taste.
Stir fry basil leaves and keep it aside
Boil and mash potatoes, add salt and black pepper and keep it aside
Steam the broccoli
Separate the egg yolks from white. Whisk the egg whites till fluffy and stiff and keep it aside.

In a pan, add 1tbsp of mustard oil. Add finely chopped onions. Add garlic, chilies and ginger. Add chicken cube, add Thai curry paste. Add chicken kheema. Stir fry till cooked. Add tomato sauce and fried basil leaves.

In an oven proof plate, place the greased aluminum 2-inch ring. Inside the ring, put a layer of mashed potatoes, next layer it with cooked kheema, cover it with fluffy egg whites. Keep it for baking for 10 minutes till set.

Serve with tomatoes-and-broccoli salad and a drink of your choice.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

An Evening At Hokey Pokey

I went back to Hokey Pokey to try out the winning ice cream combination that one of the team of food bloggers had won. “Secret Affair’ was the creation I was looking for.  It was not yet listed on the hall of fame, so I opted for mango delight with crushed nuts.

15days ago, I was there with my food blogger friends. It was a fun event, when all my food bloggers had gathered outside Hokey Pokey one evening to taste different ice cream flavors. It was not just that, we were divided into four teams, and each team had to make 3 different kinds of ice creams using our imagination.

In a competition, each team had used their imagination creating amazing combinations that included ice creams, nuts, Indian sweets, chocolates, etc. Team B had won with their creation of ‘Secret Affair. They had used coffee ice cream. They had added few pieces of crushed honeycomb and few chocolate chip brownies to come up with new creation to be included into hall of fame.

At Hokey Pokey, the main idea is to be creative in three steps. Pick the flavor, pick the mix in and watch them churn out an ice cream on cold stone. But I am afraid, not many people are noticing that. The friends that I took along with me; did not bother to see ‘hall of Fame’, nor did they notice the cold stone that is used for churning ice creams, they headed straight to the area of ice creams, tasted a spoonful of each flavor and then decided on the flavor they wanted.
That is really sad. Nobody pointed out that Hokey Pokey is more than just spoonful of a scoop. Nowhere was the fact stressed that Hokey Pokey outlet also have a live kitchen, where customers can order an ice cream creation and get it made in front of their eyes.

I learnt the first hand knowledge of mixing Ice Creams when I met Founder, Rohan Mirchandani. He explained that they custom make every scoop taking into account the taste and the preference of the customer. The brand has to overcome the unfamiliarity of the customers with made-to-order assembly. The pounding of ice creams with chocolates, nuts and sweets and do it with flourish on the cold stone is what sets it apart from other parlors.
That is the brand’s sole focus.
Hokey pokey is a flavour of ice cream in New Zealand, consisting of plain vanilla ice cream with small, solid lumps of honeycomb toffee. Hokey pokey is a New Zealand term for honeycomb toffee. Wikipedia
It is this idea that Rohan has brought to India.

Rohan says he wants to position Hokey Pokey in the same league as Haagen Dazs and Ben&Jerry ice creams. He explains how the product has more fat content (16%milk fat), less air and is all vegetarian to cater to larger segment of Indians. To take its interactive ice cream counters beyond its own stores, the brand has tied up with different outlets that include coffee chain across the country.

I turned to my friend and asked her to watch while I select my favorite. She saw him remove a scoop of mango ice cream (that I had selected) and keep it on the cold stone, crush few pieces of cashew nuts and almonds (on my request) and mix it with flourish. She was impressed.

I too, want one like this for me” she said

The good news is that Food Food Channel was there to record the event and in case you missed it, you can see it on U-tube .here

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sista! Look I Cook Keralas For You!!!

My sista from Lagos calls me to ask for a recipe of Karelas (melon bitter). I promised to send her one by posting it on my blog. How else should I share? It is difficult to explain it on the phone. Posting and sharing a recipe through my blog is the easiest way. Moreover, I am always hunting for content to post on my blog; when any member of my family asks me for a recipe, I am always happy to share. So, here we are, with one more recipe, this time on bitter melons or Karela as we know it.

In the recent times, I have learnt to develop a taste for this vegetable and am actually enjoying its’ bitterness. Moreover, this bitterness is not too strong because most of it is replaced by saltiness. But it has great medicinal value, besides cleaning the system; it also plays an important role in reducing the diabetes. Not sure if this works but I have seen people drinking the cups of karela juice early in the mornings during their walks at Carter road.

I like the cooked vegetable or simply deep-fried too.
This is the method I use.

I chop the ends off, slit it length wise and put 2tbsps of salt and keep it overnight. Next day, I wash it in two changes of water, squeeze it dry and deep fry.

The deep fried bitter melons can be cooked in different ways. I have cooked in onion masala.

Step one
In a pan add oil, 2chopped onions, 1tsp crushed garlic, 1inch grated ginger and 2chopped chilies.
 Step two
Place the fried bitter melons on it
Step three
Add 2chopped tomatoes
Step four
Add the dry masala like 1tsp of turmeric powder, 1tsp red chili powder, 2tsps of coriander powder, 1tsp of cumin powder and salt. Add 1/2cup water. Cook it on medium heat till onions are light brown.

Step five
When onion begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, mix it well. Add coriander leaves and slit green chilies
Step six
Cover the pan and let it cook for 5 minutes or till the oil separates.

Serve it with hot roasted chapattis.

The deep fried bitter melons do not get spoilt if you leave it in the fridge for several days. In fact, the flavor improves with age.

I like to eat the fried bitter melons with khichree or plain roti.
Also fusion roti turns out great.
I stir fried bakchoi and chives and added little salt.
I had made pesto some days back by mixing in the blender: 50gms of cheese, 50gms of mixed dry-fruit (almonds, walnuts and cashew nuts) 6green chilies, 1small bunch of basil leaves, 2tbsp of lime juice, and 2tbsp of olive oil.
I used this pesto for my fusion roti.

Take a hot roasted roti.
Layer it with pesto
Arrange the stir-fried bakchoi and chives
Arrange fried bitter melons
Roll it

The combination of saltiness of bitter melons, the sweetness of greens and spicy pesto was quite good . It tasted yummicious.
Try it
image source: Dr. Health Press

Also the Dr. Health Press suggests this lovely drink…

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