Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mexican Sweet Corn Soup - #SoupSwappers

We have never been much of soup lovers. The occasional soup we have is Chicken Noodle Soup or Tomato Soup or the Manchow Soup and ofcorse the yummy Indian Chinese Sweet Corn Soup.
I joined this group called Soup Saturday Swappers in an attempt to learn more about the various other soups out there. The challenge this month was to cook a Mexican Soup. I further challenged myself and attempted a full vegetarian soup.
My research gave me so many options - all yummy pork and chicken soups out there. The one that caught my eye was the simple Sweet Corn Soup with Mexican flavors of roasted cumin and paprika. Its a very simple recipe and a very tasty soup too.


Its the peak of winter here and we have had icy storms around. So, there was no fresh corn on the cob available anywhere. I made use of the frozen sweet corn here. I am sure fresh corn taste would have been amazing - but, the frozen corn soup was yummy too.

Ingredients

4 cups corn kernels
1 yellow onion
4 garlic cloves
2 celery stalks
2 teaspoons roasted cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup cotija cheese (I used romano as cotija was not available)
1/2 cup corn (steamed) - for garnish)
2 tbs cotija or romano cheese - for garnish
1/2 cup chopped cilantro - for garnish
sour cream - for garnish (optional)
salt to taste


Method

Heat a huge saucepan or dutch oven and add the oil to it. Then add the garlic, onions, celery and 4 cups corn and let it saute for about 10 minutes - stir it occasionally. When you see the onions are transparent and the corn looks a bit cooked, add the cumin powder and paprika powder and mix well. Add the vegetable stock to this mixture. Cover the pan and let it come to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat and let this mixture simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remove it off the heat and let it cool down a bit. Use either a immersion blender or a blender like vitamix or blendtec to puree the mixture. To this add the cotija or romano cheese and salt to taste. Bring it back on heat and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Add the black pepper powder and mix well.
Soup is now ready to be served.
When serving - add soup to a bowl, top it with some steamed corn kernels, some shredded cheese and chopped cilantro. You can add a dollop of sour cream for extra creamy soup. Enjoy!!!




Sending this to #SoupSwappers

This month the theme is  - Mexican Soup, Caldo & Sopa
Hosted by Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Do check the posts of the different Mexican Soups made by fellow bloggers.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Fish & Chips - #FishFridayFoodie

Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone who is celebrating. I do not know much about this day - just know that it is the traditional day when St. Patrick passed away and its a Public holiday in Ireland as they celebrate the feast of his life.
St. Patrick used the 3 leaf shamrock (clover) to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish and I guess hence its all about clover leaves this day. I learnt from Lil Miss A that the reason everyone wears green on this day is because green is the color associated with Catholics in Ireland and Orange is associated with Protestants. I was not sure about this as she is just 6........... so, I did read about it online. She is right........ ofcorse she learnt it at school.
Ofcorse then there are legends or myths about rainbows and leprechauns and pots of gold. 
And ofcorse #LuckOfTheIrish


I wanted to make something special for this day that was from the region of Ireland.Wanted to try something simple that the family would love. So settled with fish and chips. I know, people associated Fish & Chips with UK........ but, it is very much found in Ireland and in Irish Pubs too. I just joined the group  #FishFridayFoodie  and they had a theme for Irish Inspired dishes. So, that was another reason for this dish.  


Ingredients

For Fish

5 big tilapia Loins cut into 3 inch pieces - we got about 15 of them.
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
7 oz beer (I used corona)
2 cups oil

For Chips (in Air Fryer)

4 Russett Potatoes
2 tablespoons Al Purpose Flour
Salt


Method

For Fish

Wash and pat dry the fish pieces and let them sit on a paper towel.
In a pan add the oil and let it heat till it becomes very hot (about 380F).
In a bowl whisk together the  flour, salt, chili powder, paprika, black pepper, and garlic powder and baking powder. Take half of this dry mixture on a plate. With the remaining half in the bowl, add the beer to this mixture and mix well till you get a flowy batter.
Take the fish. Put it on the dry flour mixture and then dunk it in the beer batter and then again in the dry mixture and dust extra flour off and let it sit on a baking sheet. Use tongs to do this. Get all the other fish pieces ready in the same fashion.
Keep cut potatoes in ice water after cut, and let sit 5-10 minutes
Meanwhile, dry the fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in the flour mixture on the baking sheet.
Add 3 fish at a time to the hot oil and fry for about 8 minutes till it turns a beautiful golden brown. Once done, remove and transfer to on a paper towel lined plate to drain.


For Chips

Peel the potatoes and cut them into big sticks like french fries. Keep them soaked in cold water for about 1 hour. Drain the water and pat dry the potatoes with a paper towel. Take half of them in a bowl, add 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp flour and dust each stick with it. Add 1 tbspoon oil and shake the bowl again. Add this to the airfryer at 375F for 20 minutes. Halfway through the cycle, just open the airfryer and give it a shake. Repeat with the other half potato sticks. Remove them on a plate and sprinkle some more salt on top.
You can fry these chips in oil too. You will need 2 cups oil. Heat it to 375F. Add potatoes in batches (do not overcrowd). They should turn a nice golden brown in about 5 minutes. Remove onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. When all the chips are done, add salt and mix well.

Serve the fish and chips together on a plate - if you line it with a magazine page or newspaper, you can get the authentic street side way of having the same food.



Sending this to #FishFridayFoodie
The theme this month was “Irish Fish & Seafood Recipes” - hosted by Heather at All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Would you like to join Fish Friday Foodies?  
We post and share new seafood/fish recipes on the third Friday of the month. 

To join our group please email Wendy at wendyklik1517@gmail.com. Visit our Facebook page and Pinterest page for more wonderful fish and seafood recipe ideas.




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Kerala Style Mutton Stew (InstantPot)

The man of the house (Mr. A) had a real tough job yesterday. He had to go out and clean our huge driveway after the beautiful snowfall that dumped almost 10 inches of snow. He is okay doing this work as long as he gets some nice yummm food. So, he asked for Kerala Style Mutton Stew and Appams as a reward for his hard work. So, the preparations for the feast started at home and the results were pretty much appreciated by the man and the kid too.
This is a very easy and tasty stew to make and its so warm and comforting on such cold and windy days. 
Here is wishing for the winter to go bye-bye untill December 2017.


Ingredients

To Grind

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 green cardamoms
3 cloves
1/2 piece of mace
1 black cardamom
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 star anise
1 tsp poppy seeds (optional)

To Marinate

1 pound mutton/goat meat (cut into 2 inch pieces)
2 tablespoons yogurt
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric

To Make Stew

2 tsp coconut oil (you can use any other oil too)
1 onion - thinly sliced
2 tsps ginger garlic paste
1 can coconut milk
1 potato (cubed)
2 carrots (cubed)
20 green beans (halved)
salt to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish


Method

Take the ingredients in the 'To Marinate' tab and mix well. Let it sit aside for atleast an hour. Now take the ingredients in the 'To Grind' tab and using a spice grinder/coffee grinder, grind it to a fine powder. Keep it aside.
Take the instantpot and put the inset. On saute mode add the oil. Now add the onions and fry them till they get transparent (we do not want to brown them). Now add the ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes away, Add the marinated mutton and half the potatoes. Add 1/2 cup water. Close the intantpot and put the seal on. Manual pressure for 12 minutes. Then Natural release for 10 minutes and do a quick pressure release. Mutton would be partially cooked. Now add the other vegetables and the ground spice mixture. Stir and mix well. Cover the instantpot again with the vent sealed. Manual cook for 5 minutes and Natural release for 5 minutes. Do a quick release after that. Generally all the vegetables and the mutton are cooked perfect by this time. If not - just do a manual cook for another 4 minutes.
Put the instantpot on saute mode and add the coconut milk and salt to taste to the mutton and vegetable. Mix well and let this mixture come to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with Appams.

Notes

  • This stew can be made using a pressure cooker to cook the mutton too.
  • Just fry onions in a pressure cooker, add the mutton and half the potatoes. Give it 2 whistles. After pressure is released. Add the other vegetables and cook for another 2 whistles. Wait for pressure to release. If cooked, just add coconut milk and the masala and salt and give it a boil. If not...... cover and cook for another whistle. 


Monday, March 13, 2017

Thandai Powder

Today is the festival of colors also called 'Holi' in India. It is a festival to welcome spring and all its colors. People color each other with different colors and use water to play around. Significance of water is actually to cool down. 
As always food plays a vital role in any festival and Holi is not far behind either. My mother used to make Puran Polis (I need to update the picture here). But there are so many other sweets and snacks that form part of the festival.
Thandai is a drink that is served during this festival. Its a milk beverage infused with mild aromatic spices and dried fruits and rose petals.
People do add bhang (marijuana) to make it an intoxicating adult beverage too. 

We visited friends who had arranged a Holi party at their beautiful home. I volunteered to make thandai along with something else. It was an amazing feeling to see how much everyone loved the drink. 


Ingredients

1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup almonds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds/khuskhus
2 tablespoons melon seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper
10 green cardamoms
2 tablespoons dried rose petals (optional)
a few strands of saffron
1 cup sugar


Method

Take all the ingredients and using a very dry grinder, grind it to a powder. Sieve and grind the coarse leftover powder again. Repeat this process till its fully done.
The above ingredients should yield roughly about 2 cups of thandai powder.

I use whole milk to make thandai. For one cup whole milk (boiled and completely cooled), use about 5 to 6 ice cubes and 2 tablespoons of 'Khus Sherbat' and 1 tablespoon of thandai powder. Blend it all together in a blender/mixer. You can serve it in tall glasses. Straining it is optional.

Notes

  • Using the Khus Sherbat  is optional - I like it as this adds a nice green hue and some extra sweetness.
  • When you are blending the thandai, you can adjust the amount of sugar as per your like - more or less does not matter.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Red Chowli / Cowpeas Sukka in Instantpot

Today when I opened the fridge to see what I could cook for lunch, I was pleasantly surprised. There was nothing out there except a bunch of tomatoes. How did I forget about getting groceries? Not to worry when you have pulses in the pantry, right?
Now to think of what pulses to cook. Man, cooking is fun, but thinking of what to cook is stressful. I would love for a genie to decide a menu (simple for everyday cooking and elaborate when we have guests) and I wouldn't mind cooking all the stuff.
I saw these cute cowpeas staring at me through their container. It had been a while since I cooked these beauties. So, today finally it was their turn. I am sure they were ecstatic to be out of the container to fulfill their duty of feeding the humans - okay, I am just imagining things now. Well, I do possess a great imagination power and it is known to my family and close friends. 
Generally these pulses need to be soaked for atleast 8 hours before cooking. But, since I decided at 10 Am to cook lunch with these, I had a little over 2 hours to soak and get them ready. So, in came my handy electric kettle. I just boiled water in it and soaked the cowpeas in that boiling water for 2 hours. I got nicely soaked cowpeas in that time. I have done this for a lot of other pulses too. It sure helps.


Ingredients

2 cups cowpeas
1 cup chopped onion (I used 1 big onion)
1 cup chopped tomato (I used 1 big tomato)
10 garlic cloves (crushed using mortar and pester)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
10 to 12 curry leaves
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used fresh shredded coconut - you can use frozen ones too)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons red chilli powder (you can add more if you like it hot)
2 teaspoons coriander cumin powder (Dhania Jeera Powder)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek powder
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon sugar/jaggery
salt to taste
chopped cilantro and shredded coconut for garnish


Method

Wash the cowpeas and put about 5 cups of water and soak them for 7 to 8 hours. Once soaked, they will plump up. Drain the water and keep aside.
With the Isntantpot (IP ) in saute mode, add the coconut oil. When it gets hot add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Then add the cumin seeds and sesame seeds along with the curry leaves. After about 15 to 20 seconds add the crushed garlic and stir the mixture lightly. Add the chopped onions and half teaspoon salt. Let the onions turn a nice golden. You will need to keep stirring during this process. Then add the chopped tomatoes along with turmeric, chilli powder, coriander cumin powder, pepper powder, fenugreek powder, asafoetida and mix well. Add the cowpeas to the mixture along with the shredded coconut and mix well. Add 1 to 1and 1/2 cup water (I added enough water to cover the cowpeas). Cancel saute mode. Cover the lid with the vent sealed and manual for 30 minutes. After its done quick release. This will be a dry curry with very little to no liquid/gravy. Open and see if the beans are cooked. If they are then add salt to taste and about 1/2 teaspoon sugar or jaggery. Mix well with a light hand. Garnish with cilantro and shredded coconut and serve wit chappatis, appam or dal and rice.

Note - this can be cooked on the stovetop too. You would want to cook the cowpeas in the pressure cooker for about 4 whistles. Drain any water it may have after cooking. In a karahi, add the oil and follow everything to get the onion and tomato and spice mixture. To this add the cooked cowpeas, salt and sugar and about 1/4 cup water and mix well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes before garnishing with cilantro and shredded coconut.
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