Sunday Funday # 9

Heat and spices go hand in hand. My tongue was tuned to spices from a very early time. As a new-born there are many traditional practices followed in many Indian homes. In our family, parents smear Vayambu, a spicy root made into a paste with honey, on the infants tongue. It is done as a special ceremony. The dried root of vayambu has therapeutic qualities. Nutmeg and other medicinal spices are also given in traces to infants to ward off ailments.

I cannot imagine a life without spices! Every Indian home smells of different blend of spices in each dish. All mouths are addicted to its strong flavours and distinct taste.

These are clicks of a few spices that I use frequently.

Dried red chilly is an essential ingredient in almost all spice mixes. Heat is imparted by the amount of the chemical capsaicin in different chillies. Chilly is always the center of most curries to provide the required amount of heat.

Dried red chillyBay leaf is dried and used as a flavouring spice. It is most fragrant when dry unlike all other herbs. These bay leaves here, were hand-picked from a hedges of evergreen bay laurel that grows in Italy. A friend brought it as a gift for me and I treasure it. I had to dry it and store it. It has a very strong flavour and I thank them every time we make soups.

Bay leavesI come from the pepper growing region, and my mother has pepper climbers all over her yard. So this is the most common spice for me. I did not realize its important in the economy of the state until I grew up.

PepperGreen cardamom has a wonderful aroma and a warm, spicy-sweet flavour. The enticing aroma of this spice enriches dishes like puddings,drinks and garam masala.

CardamomThere is a hint of clove in many spice mixtures. Clove is a medicinal spice I tasted when I had my very first tooth ache. A drop of clove oil is very strong and numbs the pain. When using this spice, the mantra is ‘less is more’.

Cloves

Posted in Baked | 4 Comments

Crepes

Crepes are the delicate cousins of pancake. My son likes pancakes and waffles over dosa, which is a traditional rice and lentil crepe. After we discovered how to make these crepes, he has announced that it is his favorite. Overladen with cream and syrup, this sweet breakfast is his weekend treat. He has to pacify his sweet tooth right from breakfast, I guess!

Crepes with delicious fillingI switched to an electrical skillet to make dosa some time back. I had one earlier, that was used extensively and lost its Teflon (non-stick) coating. Hunting for a new one to replace it was not an easy task. I tried many skillets without the exact result I fancied. The problem was, they did not heat up the surface uniformly. The center was not browning as the heating element was placed on the periphery in those skillets. Finally, I found this futuristic looking French skillet that is a crepe maker and it dispersed heat evenly.

crepe makerWe had numerous dosa sessions with it and I vouch for this crepe machine. It is excellent!

Obviously, I did not use it for its intended purpose. I thought making crepes was some rocket science and never attempted it. A recipe book that accompanied my crepe maker had a variety of preparations from around the world. When I was flipping through it, I realized it was time to try crepes. This maker comes with a wooden spreader and we decided to put that to use as well.

You don’t have to use a special maker to make these crepes, well, I am being a bit showy. Pardon me! A non-stick pan or skillet will do the job.

Crepe batter is made in minutes with basic ingredients available in any kitchen. After consulting many recipes and adjusting a little, I shaped this recipe and got perfect crepes.

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  1. In a medium bowl whisk eggs, add milk and melted butter.
  2. Take flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and add the liquid ingredients to it.
  3. Whisk well until combined and without any lumps.
  4. Heat a griddle or flat pan and lightly oil it.
  5. Pour a scoop of batter onto the skillet. Using the spreader or a flat bottom spoon spread batter evenly on the surface.
  6. Cook on medium heat until bottom turns golden brown.
  7. Release it with a spatula and turn to the other side and cook.
  8. Fold them in three and collect on a plate.
  9. After it cools, unfold and spread whipped cream, sliced cherry and sprinkle with brown sugar syrup.
  10. Fold or roll it and serve.

You can also add 1 cup milk and 1/4 cup water. The batter should be of a pouring consistency and very smooth.

If using a non-stick pan, spread quickly by tilting the pan to distribute the batter thinly. I used the special spreader with a handle in the center to spread the batter evenly on the skillet. Cook for 3o-40 seconds until that side turns brown.

When the edge raises and peels off easily, it’s time to flip the crepe. Continue to cook the other side for about 30 seconds and then remove from skillet. I got 8 crepes from this batter. Cook crepes on medium to low heat. Wipe the surface of the skillet with a clean cloth having a trace of butter after making each crepe.

My son helped me to shape these crepes into big circles with great dexterity. Yeah, he had to work for his breakfast but he was quite amused using the spreader. So I have an official crepe spreader now.

crepesWhen the crepes are made, decorate them with different fillings and syrups to garnish. I filled some crepes with whipped cream, cherry and a drizzle of dark molasses.

crepe with whipped cherry and molassesMy son rolled one with whipped cream inside. These crepes are spongy soft and very flexible.  Currants, raisins or small berries can be included here.crI have some more suggestions for filling crepes in addition to whipped cream:

  • apple slices, nutmeg and cinnamon sugar
  • blueberry, lemon and light molasses
  • banana, honey, cashew nuts and chocolate syrup
  • pineapple, coconut sugar and coconut cream
  • orange segments, chocolate chips and caramel sauce

Do share with me the other fillings you use.

This is another variation with whipped cream, strawberry and maple syrup.

crepe with strawberry fillingLooks like fun…isn’t it? Invite some friends over and try making some with different fillings.

Happy Fiesta Friday # 75! See you there!

 

Posted in Baked, Breakfast, Brunch, comfort food, Easy recipe, International dishes, Not just for kids | Tagged , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Asian glazed basa with rice and vegetables

Lunch is a lighter meal but it still has to include a balance of nutrients and a mix of flavours to be enjoyable. Basa fillets, rice and vegetables is a three piece lunch put together to make it a satisfying meal.

IMG_0585Fish with its omega 3 and minerals is a desirable white meat. Basa is a Vietnamese catfish that is also popular in Thailand. It is available in the frozen food section of our supermarket. They are packed as large, white fillets with no bones. This fish is moist with a light, firm texture and a mild fish flavour. Researches show that they are low in calories, as a 100-gram fillet contains 90 calories…so it is good for dieters. It is inexpensive because it grows fast and is easily harvested. Rich in nutrients, basa fillets are good for adding fish to your diet.

Instead of basa, you can also make this dish with different fish fillet, such as snapper or sole.

I have incorporated some Asian ingredients to glaze basa in this dish. It makes a healthy main course with a side of coconut rice and some sauteed vegetables.

IMG_0584Ingredients for fish glaze

  • 1 tbsp ginger, garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 green chilli chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. Crush ginger and garlic with brown sugar in a mortar.
  2. In a bowl, mix all other ingredients with it to make the glaze.

Ingredients for frying Basa

  • 2 fillet of basa
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 3/4 cup glaze
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  1. Cut fish into large pieces.
  2. Take corn flour in a bowl and add 1/4 cup glaze and mix well.
  3. Coat fish pieces with corn flower mixture and marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. In a heavy bottom pan, shallow fry the fish using a little sesame oil.
  5. Cook it on both sides until browned, remove fish and keep aside.
  6. Now, pour the remaining glaze in the same pan and cook it down to reduce.
  7. When the glaze looks syrupy and shiny add the fish and coat it in the syrup
  8. Heat through and turn off the stove.
  9. Serve it hot.

Ingredients for vegetable side

  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped red pepper
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon juice
  1. In a cast iron pan, heat sesame oil.
  2. Saute zucchini and peppers in oil until soft but still crunchy.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Ingredients for coconut rice

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • vegetables – peas & carrot
  • 1 green chilli
  • salt and pepper
  • few cilantro leaves for garnish
  1. Wash and soak rice for ten minutes.
  2. Cook long grain rice in 2 cups of liquid (coconut milk and water).
  3. In a large pan stir fry vegetables and slit green chilli in coconut oil.
  4. Add to cooked rice and stir adding salt and pepper.
  5. Garnish with cilantro.

Bell peppers and chillies add flavor and a small kick to coconut rice. This is a very simple but tasty rice recipe that goes well with other meat dishes as well. 

IMG_0568IMG_0595Fillets of Basa, shallow fried and glazed with Asian sauces becomes light and delicious. It is not always, we associate fried food with a light meal, but this fried fish is an exception.

IMG_0596This meal is very filling and flavorful! It has a nice blend of flavours when all the three dishes come together. Make this delightful simple meal and enjoy!

Posted in Brunch, comfort food, Easy recipe, Fried, International dishes, Main dish, Rice, Side dish, Stir fry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sunday Funday #8

Insects are special with their segmented body and detailed life cycle. It is an intricate world with fancy wings, crazy colours and stingy bites.

I know this is a food blog and insects are the wrong pictures here. Isn’t eating crickets the new fad? Hehe…I am trying to justify insects’ presence here. Watching them patiently and wondering at their brisk life is a nice summer fun!

Let us start with some beauties!

Dragon fly

butter fly

And from the scary side…grasshopper Moth Spiders are no doubt a bit creepy, lurking in the corners. I find some spinning their trap in my store room and clean off the cobweb constantly, but they are persistent. I, accidentally, met this guy in a corner of our garden. I was surprised to see this smart spider sitting on the other side of its web. When I looked at it, he quickly moved and hid under a branch. I had to come again for a shot and it was still feeling shy to face the camera! spider

Posted in Photos | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Summer watermelon starter

Okay, summer is pretty much here and throwing us its heat and cheer. What is summer without its own melon? I mean, the delicious watermelon! I used to have a book with beautiful pictures of watermelon and a little boy who eats it all through the story. I bought that book at a book exhibition in our city when I was about 10 years old. It was a book published in Russia and translated. It had the most beautiful watercolor illustrations that motivated me to start painting. I don’t remember the story or what happened to that book later but those pictures are still fresh in my mind. The little boy in that story munches a half-moon piece of water melon and to this day, I love to eat it like him.

Watermelon summer starter Our markets are flooded with watermelons. This week we had to deal with two watermelons. My husband cut them and cubed them precisely, to help me.  We finished the first one with great enthusiasm. But the second one was received with a meh! I had a big plastic container with chilled pink cubes almost forgotten in the fridge for a while and I force fed everyone. There was the remaining half of it covered with cling wrap and waiting. The only way to finish it is to make it exciting. I decided to give this melon another chance and take it on a ramp walk.

It is gone now, as I used it to make this easy starter and pushed it during every meal.  I was inspired by canapés… but they are normally, savory or spicy to be served with cocktails. I imagined a preparation based on it, using watermelon. These decorative small bites cannot be savoury because watermelon is sweet, so I added a hint of honey. I mixed lime and ginger flavours to enhance it. It turned out to be a fancy, finger food!

watermelon circles

Ingredients

  • half a watermelon
  • few slices of bread (multi-grain, whole wheat or rye bread)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp lime zest
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 cubes crystallized/candied ginger
  • few mint leaves to garnish
  1. Take 6 bread slices and using a round cookie cutter cut circles out of bread. (I used brown, rye bread.)
  2. Cut watermelon into a thin triangles.
  3. Using the same cookie cutter cut out a disk from each piece.
  4. Take a smaller round cutter and cut a hole in the middle of each watermelon disk.
  5. Mix cream cheese, yogurt and salt to get a smooth mixture.
  6. Add honey and blend well.
  7. Sprinkle chopped crystallized ginger and lime zest and mix with it.
  8. Take bread circles and spread butter and then yogurt mix on it.
  9. Place a watermelon disk on it and spoon some yogurt mixture in the center.
  10. Stick mint leaves in the center to garnish.
  11. Serve it cold.

You can use cream cheese or Greek yogurt alone if you like it. Greek yogurt is thick yogurt without any whey water. Hung curd that is made thick, by using a cheese cloth to drain excess water, is an alternative.

It is better to use a delicate touch while cutting the circles to prevent squishing them.

Cutting melon into ringsThis is a good starter for any meal or a juicy snack in between meals. It is refreshing with a burst of flavors in your mouth. Keep it chilled until ready to serve.

summer watermelon

watermelon startersAssembling it is a good activity to do with kids. They get to nibble on the bits and pieces left behind as the cutting is in progress. I was amazed how fast our watermelon half disappeared!

watermelon canapes This starter got a standing ovation at home! So try it for some pure fun!

I am bringing this starter over for all our Fiesta Friday friends to enjoy!

Fiesta Friday#74

fiesta-friday-badge-button-click-to-join1

Posted in Appetizer, Brunch, Cheese, comfort food, Easy recipe, Finger food, Fruit recipe, Not just for kids, Salad, Snack, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Buttermilk herb biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits are made in different ways with some very minor variations on the ingredients and amounts. This is a very simple biscuit and I am sure you will get a perfect result every time. Remember to use quality ingredients and cold butter and it is a surefire recipe!

Buttermilk herb biscuit Before getting to the ingredients, I have a daunting episode to share.

Have you ever tried teaching your child to drive? Then you will totally understand what scare I am going through!

My daughter is learning to drive! I anticipated and dreaded that day. Eventually, it happened!  AGHHH!! it is inevitable!!! *sigh*! I tried to escape the trauma by explaining how a driving school is her best option. She stubbornly dismissed it saying that she wanted to learn the basics and not look like a dumbo in a driving class. Then, she pestered me to let her drive as she had passed the written test.

I was nervous and tried to evade but she was persistent. I, shivering with fear and gripping the seat for dear life, made her drive around a very silent, residential block. Both of us were stressed, heated and furious by the end of that very short drive. After some coaxing, she decided to join a school and it was music to my ears. So after theory lessons, her instructor started her in-car sessions. Every time the instructor came to pick her, I waved happily and watched the car roll off. I heaved the biggest sigh of relief! Ah, not so soon…! After a few lessons, she wanted to practice at home and asked me to sit with her. I immediately had a panic attack and persuade her father to go with her. One Sunday morning, they went driving and returned as total nerve wrecks and mad at each other. She swore that he had no patience and would never drive with him. He pointed out all her mistakes and said she cannot pass the test if she wouldn’t listen to him! Okay, that was worse than I imagined! I had to wave the peace flag to restore some calm.

Finally, I had to yield. So very reluctantly, I took her driving. Now, I have to mention this, our family car is a huge, heavy monster with extremely stiff parts. It obeys only the master and there are some buttons I am not yet very familiar with.

She got in the car and tried to reverse cheerfully, but the dragon would not move. I told her to disengage the hand brake. She yanked it with all her might and the car jerked heavily before moving. Her heart popped out of its cavity and she sat there shaking. When she saw I was nervous too, she mustered some courage and moved to the road. When she drove close to the edge, I leaned towards her as if it could change the wheels. Every time, there was a need to brake, my leg involuntarily pushed the unavailable pedal on my side and screamed, SLOW DOWN! She gave me strict orders not to create panic or shout orders at her as it made her very nervous. I sat heart pounding, at the edge of the seat like watching a horror movie.  Each left turn, I held my breath and tried not to jump out, but it was nerve wracking. By the time we were back, both were drenched in sweat and our blood pumping at a record high.

In a months time, she learned proper maneuvering and tricks to reduced my anxiety. Her driving has improved, now. I am a bit confident to sit in the passenger seat and watch her steer with grace but I do not want to do this co-driver business again!

Anyway back to the recipe…

We bought lunch at Popeyes to enjoy the Louisiana style preparation. It came with biscuits and my daughter enjoyed its flaky texture. Immediately, I decided to make some at home to stretch the taste experience.

I adapted this recipe from Martha Steward’s recipe here. If you take a closer look you may find I have reduced the ingredients and changed quite a bit but the result was very tasty buttermilk biscuits. I have added some herbs as I have to use them before this season ends. This recipe creates 16 fluffy, light biscuits.

Buttermilk herb biscuitsButtermilk herb biscuits

 Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp herbs – dill, oregano, thyme
  1. Preheat oven to 375 ° F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  4. Using a knife, cut in cold butter and with fingers rub into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
  5. Pour buttermilk in the center and stir just until a raggy dough comes together; the dough will be sticky.
  6. Add herbs and mix with the dough.
  7. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and gently roll dough to flatten.
  8. Use a cookie cutter and cut biscuits out of the dough.
  9. Gather the remaining scrap and flatten it and cut biscuits out of it.
  10. Place biscuits on prepared baking trays and bake until top browns, 12 t0 15 minutes.
  11. Brush with butter after they are taken out of the oven.
  12. Cool on wire racks and serve warm.

biscuit dough

biscuits to bake

 

Flaky buttermilk herb biscuit Cold butter is the secret ingredient to get perfect biscuits. Be sure to work fast and a gentle touch to ensure flaky biscuits.

Buttery herb biscuit These are fluffy, buttery, golden biscuits with a crunchy top. They are lovely with a smear of butter or jam. You can make breakfast sandwiches if you make bigger biscuits using a larger cookie cutter.

Biscuits can be made a few days ahead and stored for a week. Reheat to make them crispy before eating. I hope you try these beautiful buttermilk biscuits and enjoy them!

Posted in Appetizer, Baked, Breakfast, comfort food, Easy recipe, Finger food, Snack, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Sunday Funday # 7

Indian temples are unique in their building structure and decoration. Temples are usually built in very picturesque places, especially on top of hills, on river banks and on the sea shore. There are water tanks built if they are far away from a water body. South Indian temples are distinct with its wonderful architecture. It has huge towers called gopuras,  pillared halls and carved gates.

IMG_5943Chamundaswari temple, Mysore

IMG_4899Ganesha, the god of new beginnings, knowledge and wisdom.

IMG_5799Ranganatha temple in Mysore.

shore templeThis shore temple complex is located in Mahabalipuram on the sea shore; a tourist destination near Chennai. It was made of blocks of granite built in the 7th century.

Most ancient temples have halls and towers with thousands of stone figures of animals, gods and demons.

IMG_5811Elephants and lions are common sculptures carved out of rocks.

IMG_4919A woman holding oil lamp is commonly found in temples carved out on pillars or sometimes made as metal statues.

Posted in Photos | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Lentil cakes

I just love home made snacks! Hand held larger snacks are my favorite as it is easy to eat walking around.  Lentil cakes are nothing but patties of goodness made to satisfy everyone.

Lentil cakesThese lentil cakes when shallow fried in a little oil browns well to form a crispy crust. It is a fried food without much guilt and a good complement for rice dishes.

Lentil cakes

  • ½ cup red lentil
  • ½ cup horse gram or other lentil
  • ½ an onion
  • two green chillies
  • 1 tbsp chopped bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoon couscous
  • few parsley leaves
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • vegetable oil for frying
  1. Cook lentils in a heavy bottom pan adding enough water.
  2. After it cooks, drain excess water and collect the cooked lentils.
  3. Take lentils and add onion, chillies, bell pepper, coriander powder, cumin powder and tapioca flour. (Add couscous if needed.)
  4. Mix together, season and shape into cakes.
  5. Coat with panko crumbs and pan fry in a little oil until crispy on both sides.

Yogurt sauce

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • Parsley leaves to garnish

Mix all the ingredients and use it as a dip for the lentil cakes.

lentilsI got 14 cakes with this mixture. Make this lentil cake mix ahead and store as ready-to-cook patties in the fridge for up to a week. When needed, pop them in an oven and bake to get a batch of lentil cakes for a quick side. It can be fried or baked according to individual taste.lentil mix These lentil cakes have a good crunch because horse gram does not cook to a pulp but retains its texture. You can also use black lentil (Urad) because it holds well and is a bit sticky. Some of the other types of lentils like the red lentils are very mushy when cooked.

Drain as much water as possible from the lentils. Add salt at the end and immediately start making the patties. I added salt in the beginning and let it sit a while and that made it extra moist. Add couscous only if it is still watery as it sucks up extra moisture in the mix. Add a little at a time and leave it to do its work. Tapioca flour is the sticky glue to hold everything together. It can be substituted with a whisked egg.

vegetarian lentil cakesPanko bread crumbs are Japanese bread crumbs that are extra crispy on frying. Ordinary bread crumbs work well too. lentil cakes, yogurt sauce & herb riceMake them into mini patties and serve with garlic, yogurt dip. It makes a delicious party snack. These lentil cakes are spicy and tastes good with herb rice. Herb rice recipe here : herb-rice.

Oh, you can turn them into burgers too. Add some chopped mushrooms to make it meaty and softer for a hearty burger. I am sure it will taste wonderful!

I will bring these lentil cakes to Fiesta Friday #73. Have a lovely weekend!

Posted in Appetizer, Breakfast, Brunch, comfort food, Finger food, Fried, Not just for kids, Pack-and-go snack, Side dish, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Herb rice and lentil cakes

Rice being a staple in most South Indian homes, it needs a makeover at times. I cook it plain or as a watery gruel called kanji (Kongee). It is alternatively cooked as pulav, biriyani or Chinese fried rice. Instead of loading it with spices and sauces or going plain, this time, I gave it a gentle touch by adding some lovely herbs.

Herb riceI know many friends and family members, who have to eat rice everyday or else they feel unsatisfied, including my mother. I think, it is a matter of habit. Our family has moved away from rice-everyday schedule and now, it is almost once in a week.

Paddy fields This is a normal sight when I travel in Kerala. Lush green large paddy fields…tender saplings in watery fields with fish…croaking frogs…singing birds and some occasional snakes. Young rice plants dance in waves as the breeze brushes past. I love to look out and take in as much of it as possible. Our extended family back home, was into agriculture, growing rice and coconut palms, but things have changed now.

I remember walking on small mounts of earth made into bunds in between fields to lock water in, as rice grows. It used to be a balancing act for me to walk on the narrow bunds, extending hands to the sides, because, on slipping I would have a clumsy fall into soggy dirt.

The picture changes as rice plant grows and milky sap inside turns into grains. Water is drained out of the fields and it looks all brown and dry. Mature plants bend down with the heavy cluster of grains swollen inside their hard husk. When sunlight kisses, golden grains glisten…that is the precious gift! I miss those paddy fields and a lot of fun time looking for tiny fish swimming in muddy water.

Rice, has always been one of the oldest foods that graced our dinner tables. It is a delicious and versatile grain grown in many countries. When rice has its bran intact it is called ‘brown’ rice. Eating brown rice, sometimes containing the germ part, is the healthiest way to eat this grain. So, I chose brown rice for this recipe. It is not a particular recipe but a free flow of ingredients that tasted good, all put together.

IMG_0404I have many herbs growing in my little garden and harvesting them fresh, adds better flavour. Including them in some dishes is the whole idea behind growing them.

Last year, I grew lime thyme and now it is spreading and has taken up a larger area. I think, I may have to check it to keep it under control. It is a low growing herb acting as a  ground cover so I don’t mind if it spreads a bit. I have parsley, growing well in 3 pots so they were on hand too. This was an exercise to take these herbs to the table.herbs Lime thyme and parsley added a very interesting flavour to this rice making it a gourmet dish.

Ingredients

Herb rice

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 3 cups vegetable broth + 1 cup water
  • one large crushed garlic clove
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 a lime
  1. Cook rice by adding 3 cups broth and add 1 cup hot water little at a time.
  2. After water reduces a bit add garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Let rice cook and absorb all the liquid. (Add more water if needed.)
  4. After cooking rice, add butter to coat grains.
  5. Finely chop parsley, lime thyme and mix into hot rice.
  6. Serve it hot with a good squeeze of fresh lime.

You can use a heavy steel or aluminum pot with a strong lid to cook rice on medium heat till the liquid boils and then reduce to low heat. But, a rice cooker makes life considerably easier. I cooked rice with more water as brown rice is different from white rice, add more hot water if you feel it is necessary. Obviously, it takes extra time to cook but retains a certain crunch after cooked.

Herb rice and lentil pattiesThis is a very easy way to prepare rice and add some delicate flavors to enhance it. Brown rice has a nutty taste and is quite chewy. I had some lentil cakes as a side and garlic, yogurt sauce to make it a complete meal. Wait for tasty lentil cake recipe coming up next!

Posted in Brunch, comfort food, Easy recipe, Gluten free, Main dish, Pack-and-go lunch, Rice, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Mango strawberry ricotta brûlée

Mango is a versatile fruit with incredible taste and pleasant aroma. It is a very popular fruit in India holding the ‘National fruit’, title. Its presence for a short while in summer makes it all the more celebrated. When it is the season, there is an abundance of it. There are many types of mangoes with different shapes and a mix of fibrous, sour, fleshy and sweet varieties. It is loved by many and I am no exception!

mango ricotta brulee

There are lots of mango memories, but I would like to share one which surfaces at the sight of mangoes. There is an old mango tree in my aunt’s backyard in Kerala, in addition to other smaller trees. This huge tree produces small mangoes, the country variety that has no special name. It is very sour while raw, and sugary sweet when ripe. When young, I spent a lot of hours under that tree.

We go there during summer vacation when school closes to find the tree loaded with mangoes. All children, including cousins and some neighborhood kids eagerly wait for them to fall. Following a sudden gust of wind, we could hear the ripe mangoes falling. They scatter in all directions and hide under grass, dry leaves and bushes. Among the kids, there would be a secret competition to collect the most mangoes and race towards the tree to pick them. My cousins and I kept a count of our picks while dropping them into a large basket. The best ones were eaten immediately.  No knife was involved in that operation. We pinch off the acidic stalk area and rip open the skin with our teeth and taste the flesh, juice dripping from our hands. Totally barbaric but a lovely experience!

I know all those mangoes back home would have ripened and fallen and wonder who picked them now! Mango season offers more than mangoes; a cloud of sweet thoughts.

My husband brought a crate of mangoes and we did not completely miss the fun of tasting mangoes. A friend recommended a store that sold Alphonso mangoes, the sweetest variety from India. It is named after a Portuguese nobleman, who introduced grafting to produce this superior quality mango. Its flavor is so intense, a punch in the face, of sugar, acidic bitter and creaminess in the right proportion.

All of them in our crate started ripening at the same time. Well, we ate them as fast as possible and tried to put some in other preparations to mix and match with different flavors.

Mango strawberry ricotta bruleeRipe mango has flavour compounds and aromas that gets easily destroyed by heat. So cooking is not a good option unless the sour and sweet varieties are used. That is the reason why we eat them as such or use in preparations like drinks or sorbet to relish its high sugar concentration. So this mango recipe here is very simple with less cooking.

IngredientsI got this idea from  drizzleanddip mango-passionfruit-and-yoghurt-brulee but changed the ingredients slightly based on availability at home. I used strawberries, ricotta cheese, palm sugar and cream with mango. Making mango into a fancy dessert after you are tired of eating is an interesting way to enjoy it.

Ingredients

  • 1- 2 mangoes cut into long pieces after removing pit and skin
  • 2-3 strawberries cut lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup shaved palm sugar
  • butter to grease
  1. Grease a heat proof dish with little butter.
  2. Arrange mango pieces in a single layer on the bottom of the dish.
  3. Put slices of strawberries in between.
  4. Mix heavy cream with sugar and add to ricotta and blend well.
  5. Drop this mix on top of the fruits.
  6. Crumble or shave palm sugar on top.
  7. Broil it on high until sugar on top melts.
  8. Serve it immediately or chilled.

mangoLast year, when I visited India, I bought some palm sugar (Karipetti) from Kerala. Palm sugar is made from the sap of the Palmyra trees which is a commonly found palm tree in South India. It has a special sweetness and I wanted to try it. Granulated sugar or brown sugar can be used in its place.

mango bruleeMango is not cooked in this dessert as broiling caramelizes only the sugar on top. I used the broil option in my oven and allowed the sugar to bubble. It would be good to use a brûlée torch to get this effect. Some liquid separates when you cut into it. Don’t worry, that liquid is equally delicious.

mango strawberry bruleeIt could be served after chilling. It is better to eat it on the same day to relish its rich flavors. Try this mango magic for a change!

Posted in Baked, Brunch, Celebration, Cheese, Dessert, Easy recipe, Fruit recipe, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments