Friday, April 22, 2016

Flour Tortillas

Tortillas are important if you are making tacos. So, when we started the tradition of #TacoTuesdy at home, it was only natural that I wanted to try and make the tortillas at home too. I have made the roti with corn called 'Makke ki Roti' which is very close to the corn tortilla. Now it was the turn of the flour tortilla.


Ingredients

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Method

In a mixing bowl add the flour, baking soda, salt and just mix it together with a spoon. Add the oil and the water and knead into a dough. Knead it for 5 minutes and then cover and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
Heat a non-stick or a cast iron griddle. Pinch off the dough and make golf ball sized balls of the dough. Dab it with some flour and then using a rolling pin make a circular disc about 1/8th inch thick. Place it on the griddle which is on medium high heat. Cook on one side till you see some brown specs on the surface. Turn and cook the same way on the other side. Remove onto a plate lines with a cheesecloth. Cover and keep till all tortillas are made in the same fashion. I got about 11 tortillas from this amount of flour.
They stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Amritsari Fish Fry

This crispy battered fried fish is a North Indian delicacy. Its fish and its fried and its crispy - whats not to love???
It is made with simple ingredients - but, the combination of all the things makes it a treat. Ofcorse the fiery red color adds to the 'eating with the eyes' bit. Its the addition of carom seeds (ajwain) which gives the fish  unique taste.
you can use any firm fish to make these - I have used tilapia here. But, cod and salmon can be used to. Boneless fillets of king fish (surmai) can also be used.


Ingredients

6 boneless skinless fillets of tilapia (this roughly about a pound and half)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (dhania)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
1 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
1 teaspoon black or white peppercorns
2 teaspoons chilli powder - you can add more if you want heat
1 teaspoon kasuri methi
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
3 drops of red food coloring - optional
3 tablespoons yogurt
4 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan)
2 tablespoons rice flour
salt to taste
oil for frying
chopped cilantro for garnish
2 teaspoons chaat masala


Method

Cut the fish fillets into 1 inch pieces. I used a mortar and pestle to grind the spices as I wanted a small bite in the fish - but, you can use a spice grinder for that purpose. Make a coarse powder of the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, carom seeds and the pepper. In a mixing bowl add the coarse powders along with ginger and garlic paste. To this add the chilli powder, salt, chickpea flour and rice flour. Mix them well. Add the yogurt and the red food color (if using) and make a thick well mixed paste. To this add the fish pieces and coat each piece with the paste. Let it sit and marinade for atleast an hour.
In a karahi or wok or fryer add oil and let it heat up. You know the oil id hot when you add a drop of the paste and it comes up sizzling. Turn the temperature to a medium. Add not more then 5 fish pieces at a time. Fry for about 7 to 8 minutes (Tilapia fillets are thin - but, if you are using salmon or a thick fillet like cod - the cooking time may vary and will be in the range of 10 to 12 minutes). Remove on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. When it looks a bit dry - remove onto serving plate and sprinkle with some chaat masala. Repeat the process till all the pieces are fried. Sprinkle some chopped cilantro/coriander and serve.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Simple Chicken Taco - #TacoTuesday #1

Lil Miss A came home one day from school and asked me why we did not do #TacoTuesday like her friends in class did. I never thought this day would come so soon - but it did. She said she wanted to start having Taco Tuesday Dinners every tuesday. Well, here at 'merakitchen' - it cannot be the same taco every tuesday. So, I started to make different tacos with new combinations and we have been loving this new tradition at home ever since. It has been about 10 weeks of Tacos on Tuesdays and Lil Miss A and Mr. A both look forward to Tuesday dinners - so do I as it gives me a chance to come up with new combinations and new ideas. i thought of sharing this over here. So, you will be having a taco influx on this blog for some time. Afterall, I need to catch up on writing 10 weeks worth of tacos.
The first Taco we made was a simple chicken one with the additon of shredded lettuce and guacamole and sour cream on a flour and corn tortilla. I got these amazing tortillas from Trader Joes and loved the combination of the two flours. Well, here is the recipe for Taco #1


Ingredients

8 small tortillas (6 inch ones) - I used the flour and corn torillas here, you could use flour only or corn only too.
4 chicken thighs or breasts - cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (you can add some more if you want it to have some heat)
1 teaspoon coriander & cumin powder
salt to taste
1 head of romaine lettuce - shredded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
sour cream
guacamole (I used this quick version that I make)
2 tablespoons oil to cook chicken

Method

Mix together the garlic paste, red chilli powder, coriander and cumin powder and mix well. To this add the chicken pieces and coat each piece well with the marinade. Let it sit for atleast an hour. In a wok, add the oil and then cook the chicken pieces untill they are well done. It would take about 10 to 15 minutes.
I just warm the tortillas a bit. You can do this on a griddle or in a microwave too.
To assemble the tacos - take a tortilla, smear a teaspoon guacamole, then a teaspoon sour cream, put about 4 to 5 pieces of chicken (you can add more too - its just easier to eat with 4 to 5), top with shredded lettuce and sprinkle some chopped cilantro.
Simple chicken tacos are ready
My family prefers soft tacos - but, you can make these with hard taco shells too.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Chocolate Marble Cake (Hot Milk Cake Method)

Mr. A turned a year older and wiser this Tuesday. As always - his birthday cake is always a new trial. Thankfully it has always been a hit and never a miss. Imagine your birthday cake going bad with no backup. This year Lil Miss A insisted on a chocolate cake - she only wants everything in chocolate flavor. Well, our birthdays are just another day for her to get excited and so we obliged. I had told her that it will not be a full chocolate cake, but will have some vanilla (white) cake too She was excited as long as I promised the frosting was going to be chocolate. Well, this girl sure knows what she wants.
So the search for something new started. I always wanted to bake this old method of baking cake. It was a cake during the depression era - it uses the most basic ingredients - and as described, it is so sweet and soft on its own, that it feels like a rich dessert. I stumbled upon this recipe on pinterest with only a picture of the written recipe (no source) - but, this is such an old recipe that the origin is not known and its simple and common. You will find so many blogs and sites with the same recipe. 
There is something about old recipes that has an old world charm and they are simple and you feel like a part of history. Also, a great tasting dish makes them all the more special.
The cake is a vanilla cake - but, since Lil Miss A wanted it to be a chocolate cake - that is what she got with the addition of the chocolate syrup in half the batter.


Ingredients

For the cake

4 eggs at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup chocolate syrup (I used Hershey's syrup)

For the frosting (ganache)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil/butter


Method

For the cake

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and keep aside. In a saucepan, warm the milk and the butter till the butter melts and there are bubbles formed on the side of the milk.
In a big mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and the eggs until they become nice and fluffy. This should take about 10 minutes. It should look like its doubled in size. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. Add the milk and butter mixture and mix well till all is incorporated. Add the flour mixture 1/3 at a time and fold it in. Do not over mix but fold in to get a smooth batter. This batter will be a little more thin than other cake batters.
Grease a bundt pan and add half of the vanilla batter into it. In the other half, add the chocolate syrup and mix well till all is incorporated. Pour this mixture over the vanilla mixture.
Bake it in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to an hour. After 50 minutes check to see if a toothpick inserted comes out clean - if yes, the cake is done - else let it bake for another 5 minutes before checking.
Once done, remove it from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the mold onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting (ganache)

In a bowl add the semi sweet chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons milk and microwave for 30 seconds - stir it well and microwave for another 30 seconds. Add 2/3rd part of the coconut oil and mix well till smooth. Let it cool a bit. In the same manner get the white chocolate ganache made.
Added them both to two ziploc bags and sealed it shut by removing all air. Make a small opening in the tip. Spread the ganache - one at a time on the completely cooled cake. Cut the cake and serve with coffee or tea or just like that.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Thai Red Curry - with Shrimps and Veggies (curry paste made from scratch)



We love cuisines from around the world at our home. Indian food is always a favorite and then come the other Asian flavors. Thai food is very much loved and when you think of Thai food its always the yummy curry with the sticky jasmine rice and chicken satay. We made the Thai Red Curry at home ........ yes, the paste and all too. It was a wonderful experience and I loved the fragrance on my fingers - especially from the lemon grass and the thai basil and the kaffir lime.
The shrimps and the veggies and the kale gave it a wonderful color and when it was served with sticky jasmine rice - it was a party in the mouth. Its super easy to make and you feel proud and accomplished. Yes, the ingredients list can look intimidating - but, trust me......... this is super easy and super yummy.


Ingredients

For the Red Curry paste

2 dried kashmiri chilis
2 dried byadgi chilis
1 birds eye thai chili (I removed the seeds)
1 lemon grass stalk (used only the bottom fleshy part)
1/2 teaspoon kaffir lime leaves (I used a bottled one) - if you get fresh, use 2 of them
1/2 teaspoon thai basil (I used bottled one)  if you get fresh, use them 2 to 4 of them
1/2 inch galangal (this can be substituted with ginger - but, it wont taste the same)
1 shallots
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil (I used olive oil)

For the Red Curry

1 teaspoon oil (I used olive oil)
1 can coconut milk
5 baby corn - cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 green bell pepper - sliced
1/2 red bell pepper - sliced
1/2 cup water chestnuts (used frozen)
1 onion - sliced
2 cups chopped fresh kale
15 to 18 medium shrimp (uncooked frozen used)
red curry paste
salt to taste


Method

For the Red Curry Paste

Pour about 1/4 cup of hot water over the dried kashmiri and byadgi chillis and let them sit for 15 to 20 minutes to rehydrate them. Once done, remove the chillis and discard the water.
Take all the ingredients in the section and blend it in a mixer till you get a nice dough like paste. It will not be very smooth - but will still look like a paste. Here is the red curry paste - all ready.

For the Red Curry

In a saucepan add the oil. When it gets hot, add the onions and saute till it becomes transparent. Lower the heat and add the coconut milk and stir continuously. Add 1 cup water to the mixture. Increase the heat to a medium and cover the saucepan. Let this mixture come to a boil. When it starts to boil - lower the heat to a simmer. Now add the prepared paste and mix well and then add the vegetables. Add some salt to taste. Check the consistency of the curry - if it is too thick add another half cup water. Cover and let it cook on medium low heat for 15 minutes. Then add the shrimps. It takes about 5 to 7 minutes for the shrimps to fully cook (When they turn pink and they curl - its cooked).
Turn the heat off and serve with steamed jasmine rice.
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