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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Ipoh – The Untold Story


This post was long overdue. We had been to Ipoh, Perak in Malaysia way back, but I couldn’t write about it. We were intrigued with a fact that Lonely Planet rated this Malaysian old quaint city to be one of their favourite travel destinations in Asia and we really found out that indeed, it needs a proper stop-over.


Ipoh- streets 

We didn’t put Ipoh over a pedestal, when we were visiting this city. We went there with open mind. We took one of the easiest transport medium, those coach buses from Kuala Lumpur central bus stations. The journey was relaxing. The bus took its detour passing through Cameron Highland Valley and the view was very refreshing with clouds hanging over lush green mountains.

We checked into our apart-hotel, we call these apart-hotel as ‘home-stays’ over here in Malaysia. And it had all the facilities of being in a home away from home. So one can cook, watch TV and sleep aimlessly.
Ipoh- view from our home-stay 

Ipoh has so many untold stories, stories from far away unknown lands. Stories about Chinese Hakka immigrants in search of better prospects in a foreign land. Immigration is not a new age thing, it has been going on for many centuries. People have flocked to new places in search of better livelihood.
Chinese Hakka immigrants brought varied food habits with them as well. 

The food that we eat today, we just generalize them as Chinese food specially Indo-Chinese food, but we have so many variations from Chinese cuisines. Hakka cuisine is different from Cantonese style recipes. And then we have Malaysian-Chinese cuisine, which again is modified version of food from Hakka immigrants here in Ipoh. 
These people settled here, married in to local people and laid path-ways for many new innovations in food habits. The tin industry in this region slowly started showing much progress and with that came wealth for these immigrants here in Ipoh region.

Inside Han Chin Pet Soo museum

For this in-depth and many untold stories, one should visit Ipoh’s Han Chin Pet Soo museum which 
harbours Chinese Hakka tin mining history located near Kinta river. 


Ho Yan Hor and Han Chin Pet Soo museum - history of Ipoh 


And also Ho Yan Hor museum lying just beside Han Chin Pet Soo museum. Both had some history lessons for all, if one has interest in knowing history of Ipoh.

Take a walk in the old downtown of Ipoh, it will take you to the colonial era with explicit buildings and great architecture to look upon, but don’t forget to take an umbrella with you, weather here in this part is tropical, so one can find themselves all wet, if you don’t keep an umbrella.


Ipoh - street art 



There are some maps available from Ipoh tourist centre and also maps of walking trails. We took the Ipoh Art trail covering many wall paintings. The downtown Ipoh has its fair share of history and heritage. 

Ipoh- Art Murals 

Old town white coffee company in collaboration with Lithuanian artist Ernst Zacharevic has come up with 8 mural artwork on the building walls located in old town of Ipoh. We came across couple of them while strolling in downtown Ipoh.


Ipoh- Street art 

We started this walk in the late afternoon, when the weather was little pleasant. We passed through the Birch memorial clock tower which represents British colonial era in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Birch memorial Clock tower 

This memorial clock tower was constructed to commemorate James W W Birch, first British resident of Perak.

Birch Memorial clock tower 


There is a beautiful mosque at opposite side of Birch memorial clock tower. Sultan Idris Shah Mosque is the state mosque of Perak. This mosque was completed in 1968 and was officially opened in September 1978 by Sultan Idris Shah II of Perak. There is a food court also in the adjoining area.

Sultan Idris Shah Mosque- Perak state mosque

When we went there the food court was closed. I asked one of the lady who was cleaning the area and probably was running a food-joint there, informed us to come early in the morning at 7 a.m. to have delicious breakfast and also the food joints are famous for dinner. My entire conversation with her was with sign language, as she doesn’t understand English and I can’t speak proper Malaya language. Two words she knew were ‘dinner’ and’ breakfast’. So, I have to put up my fingers to point the time. This may sound rude but believe me, we both were laughing when we were doing this by sign language. A warm smile can shatter those barriers, where words can’t penetrate. These food-joints remain closed in the afternoon, just like a sleepy old town should be, where every afternoon people have an afternoon siesta. 

We were still exploring those art- work, when we were caught up in a heavy downpour. 
We took refuge in a fabulous eating joint in downtown Ipoh, where food was reasonably priced and delicious.
Ipoh- downtown 

We had a scrumptious lunch of Udon noodles and Soba noodles with cold Milo shake and watermelon juice. 

We finished our late lunch and headed towards other parts of this old city. 

Train station- Ipoh 

We came across Ipoh train station. The building reminded us of a bygone colonial era depicting Victorian style architecture. 
This railway station is fondly called as ‘’Tajmahal of Ipoh’’ by locals.

Concubine lane - Ipoh 

We passed through Concubine lane - one of the oldest lane in Ipoh where all sorts of souvenirs are on display.Some great street art displays can also be seen there.This is a very colourful and cheerful street. 

A walk through- displays in Concubine lane 

One entire day was reserved for Gua Tumpurung, as it took us time to reach there and explore. By the time we came out from Gua Tumporong, we were exhausted and sweaty. One can imagine these caves to be very dark and humid. 

Inside Gua Tempurung 

Please carry water bottles and a torch with you. Gua Tempurung is the longest limestone cave in Perak, Malaysia. These looks so beautiful inside with giant stalagmites and stalactites. There are two tours available – wet and dry tour. Wet tour requires bit more time and one needs a pair of clothes and shoes for a change. 
We took the dry tour and when we came out of the dark cave, we were thirsty and exhausted. Not that we didn’t like those gorgeous limestone rock formations, but the humidity inside the cave was unbearable. One can identify with the adventure it gives inside a dark cave and also those rock formations. I was intrigued to see the stalagmites and stalactites formations that I only read in text books while growing up.


An old city is incomplete if there is no mention of a castle. And yes Ipoh has its share as well. Kellie’s castle stands in its full glory in Ipoh. Like each castle, it has a very interesting story as well. The castle was built by a Scottish planter William Kellie Smith for his beloved wife just like our very own Taj Mahal. 
The only difference was, he was making it so that his family can live there elegantly. Tragedy struck hard, many of the skilled labourers contracted flu and were taken ill. The castle was planned to host many parties, one indoor tennis court and first elevator of its kind in Malaysia. Many at that time have never heard of these things, so leave alone the imagination it required to formulate.

Inside Kellie's castle - some displays as well


Kellie’s castle despite all of this innovative ideas was never completed. In 1926 William Kellie Smith died of pneumonia, leaving behind his incomplete legacy. This castle is now a tourist destination. The castle has nice views far across with lots of banana plantation in the adjoining areas.

After the cuisine, culture and history, it was time for some spirituality. We visited three beautiful and peaceful Buddhist temples in Ipoh, Perak.

Ling Sen Tong Taoist cave temple is located in the foothills of limestone rocks. The temple compound is very attractive with many statues and designs from Chinese folklore like Guan Yin, Monkey King and other deities. 


Guan Yin - Ling Sen Tong temple


The other adjoining temples are more peaceful and calm in case you want to pray and meditate.

Inside Ling Sen Tong temple

Kek Lok Tong cave temple is located in southern Ipoh. The cave temple leaves you with a serene effect, the moment you step inside. 

Enterance of Kek LOng Tong Cave temple

There is a Zen garden inside the temple premise which unfortunately was closed the day we visited it, due to some refurbishing work going on there. One can spend time relaxing and walking in that garden. 


Inside - Kek Lok Tong cave temple


The cave temple has many limestone rock formations and amidst that back drop there are Buddha statues and idols, where one can pray and meditate.


Inside Perak cave temple

Perak cave temple is another beautiful cave temple in Ipoh. The cave temple has a huge Buddha statue and the inside is very calm and cool. 

Perak cave temple - Buddha 

Some paintings from Chinese folklores also caught our attention. The time spent there felt like an era gone by. Perak Cave temple has some of the great limestone rock formations- stalagmites and stalactites. 

Limestone rock formations

The art work keeps you engaged for a while also. And then the magnificent view when you make your way through the stairs to the top of the temple also adds to the glory.

Prayer candles 

Our visit to this quaint city made us crave us for more. We couldn’t visit ‘Lost world of Tambun’ and also geological museum due to time crunch, may be its due for our next visit.

Ipoh sky-view



Our verdict- Ipoh is a laidback and quaint city as compared to Penang and has that old world charm.  One can spend time exploring cuisine and culture both. It deserves worth a visit for two-three days.

Ipoh streets in evening


See you all next week ..take care friends ..

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sponge cake with Chocolate Ganache recipe


I have made this sponge cake way back and it was lying in my draft for a while. So, here it is sponge cake with chocolate ganache. We all like chocolate ganache icing. Do I need to add more about this? Dear daughter made the ganache. Here it is how we made it.






Sponge Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Recipe requirements

Sponge Cake 
  • 2 cups of cake flour/self-rising flour
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 4 heaped tbs of butter spread
  • ½ cup of sunflower oil
  • ¾ cup of castor sugar
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • ¼ tsp of baking soda
  • 4-5 tbs of thick yogurt
  •  1tsp of vanilla essence

Chocolate ganache recipe
  • 200 Gms of premium dark chocolate
  • 150 ml of double cream
  • 2-3 tbs of butter
  • 1 tbs of corn syrup

Method
Sponge Cake
  • In a big mixing bowl. Sift flour, add in baking soda and baking powder. Mix well.
  • Now in a separate bowl, mix together butter, cooking oil and sugar well. 
  • Add in eggs, one at a time and whisk in gently or they all are light and fluffy.
  • Now add in vanilla essence. Add in plain yogurt and gently fold in.
  • Now add the flour mixture from time to time to make the cake batter. 
  • Use up all flour mixture to mix in with the above mixture.
  • Preheat oven at 175 deg C. 
  • Prepare the cake tin. Brush butter evenly and then sprinkle flour to coat it well. 
  • Tap the cake tin so that the flour gets distributed evenly.
  • Pour the cake batter in to the prepared cake tin with a spoon and spread it evenly.Tap the cake tin gently on the working area so that they spread out evenly.
  • Bake the cake in the middle rack for about 30 mints or till the centre of the cake is cooked through well. Check by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean cake is baked well.
  • Take out the baked cake and let it cool.


Chocolate Ganache icing

  • Put cream and butter in a saucepan over low flame and keep stirring in between. Once they are mixed well and warm, add in dark chocolate.
  • Keep on stirring until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Take it from the flame once the chocolate is melted and mixed well.Add in corn syrup now.
  • Allow it to cool before you put it up on the cake as icing.
  •  Enjoy this luscious chocolatey sponge cake. 
  • You can use milk chocolate in place of dark chocolate if you need to sweeten your ganache a bit more. You can even whip it up after its get cooled to make a light n fluffy frosting.



And here’s wishing my fellow Indians a very happy Independence day.Happy Cooking.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Kibbeh - a Lebanese delight


We tasted kibbeh for the first time way back, many years ago, while we were staying in UK. Kibbeh as we know is a Lebanese delight. But these days you get all sorts of food in any part of the world.UK has fair share of Lebanese restaurants along with Indian restaurants as well. In Malaysia, food lover’s heaven, I haven’t explored middle-eastern restaurant here much, but I can’t rule out that possibility as well.


We really liked kibbeh, as it reminded us of our very own ‘Keema- meat mince cutlets’’. The only variation I can distinguish between both is the covering of kibbeh made with wheat bulgur and usage of pine nuts in the stuffing.
There are various versions of recipes available in net. This recipe has worked well for us. Here is how we made it.

Kibbeh Recipe
(Measurements are approx.)

  • 1 and half cups of cooked bulgur wheat (tightly pressed cups)
  • 400-500 Gms of lamb mince
  • 2 tsp of freshly grounded cumin
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  •  1 tsp of garam masala
  • 1 and half tsp of freshly grounded black pepper
  •  1 tsp of salt or as per taste
  • 1 large onion
  • ¼ cup of pine nuts (optional)
  • Cooking oil for frying kibbeh


Method
Soak bulgur wheat in water for about 30-40 mints, or till they are light and fluffy. It will fluff up and swell a lot.

Prepare the covering of kibbeh

  • Divide lamb mince into two portions- one for the covering part and one for the filing. I have used more for the covering roughly about 300 Gms. Finely chop onion.
  • Add in 1tsp of cumin powder, salt, ½ tsp of garam masala and black pepper powder and half of the onion in a big mixing bowl. Now blend all the spices and half of the onion well with bulgur wheat in a blender.Add in water if it sticks. Take out the mixture.
  • Mix in minced lamb with above prepared wheat bulgur with clean hands. This will turn out like soft dough. Keep it aside for about 1 hr. It’s better to refrigerate it. We need cold dough as it helps in shaping the kibbeh.


Prepare the stuffing of kibbeh

  • Now in a separate fry pan, add in 2 tsp of oil, add in half of the finely chopped onion. Add in 1 tsp of cumin powder, salt, and ½ tsp of garam masala and 1 tsp of freshly grounded black pepper. 
  • Add in pine nuts if using it, if you don’t get pine nuts then you can use chopped cashews/almonds/walnuts. But pine nuts are the original nuts used in kibbeh recipe.
  •  Add in rest of the minced meat at this time. Gently stir/fry the mixture for about 10-12 mints or till they turn pale.
  • Take out the kibbeh dough from fridge. Divide evenly in to small balls. This much makes about 6-7 kibbeh roughly. Put the small ball in your palm.
  •  Make a hole from one side, put the stuffing inside and then seal it with wet hands. Keep a bowl of water nearby it helps. Shape the kibbeh with gentle hands. This video will be helpful in knowing the technique of shaping the kibbeh.
  • Now put a deep bottom pan/fry pan on flame, add in cooking oil and let it heat up properly. Test by dropping some cumin seeds, if it sizzles and comes on the top, oil is ready for deep frying.
  • Now put kibbeh slowly into the hot oil, fry the kibbeh for about 7-8 mints at medium flame, turning them once in a while for an even fry. Take out when all the sides are evenly browned. Drain them on kitchen towels so that it soaks up extra oil.
  • Serve it with minty yogurt dip or have it with hummus.


Note

I happen to bake them even. Instead of frying kibbeh croquettes in oil. I brushed cooking oil over them well and baked at a preheated oven for about 15-20 mints.

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Blueberry Cake

I have been getting fresh supply of blueberry easily in many super-markets over here, although blueberry is not a local fruit in Malaysia to my best of knowledge. And we do like blueberries a lot, made this cake long ago, but couldn’t post the recipe. So, here it is a simple recipe for blueberry cake.



Blueberry Cake
Recipe requirements
  • 2 cups of cake flour
  • ¾ tsp of baking soda
  • ¼ tsp of baking powder
  •  2 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup of fine granulated sugar
  •  ½ cup of plain yogurt
  •  ½ cup of melted butter
  • 2 cups of blueberry



Method
  • In a big mixing bowl. Sift flour, add in baking soda and baking powder. Mix well.
  • Now in a separate bowl, mix together butter and sugar well. Add in eggs, one at a time and whisk in gently.
  • Now add in vanilla essence. Add in plain yogurt and gently fold in.
  • Now add the flour mixture from time to time to make the cake batter. Use up all flour mixture to mix in with the above mixture. Add fresh blueberries and mix gently.
  • Preheat oven at 175 deg C. 
  • Prepare the cake tin. Brush butter evenly and then sprinkle flour to coat it well. Tap the cake tin so that the flour gets distributed evenly.
  • Pour the cake batter in to the prepared cake tin with a spoon.Tap it gently.
  •  Bake the cake in the middle rack for about 25-30 mints or till the center of the cake is cooked through well. Check by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean cake is baked well.
  • Take out the baked cake and let it cool. Enjoy blueberry cake or pack some slices in lunch box.

Other Blueberry recipes 

Pancake with blueberry sauce

Banana Blueberry walnut loaf

Eggless Apple blueberry nutmeg cake

Blueberry Muffin

Blueberry Cheesecake- no bake


Happy Cooking Friends 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Baked Cannelloni Pasta with chicken and cheese



What would I have to say about my vanishing act? You eager souls are wondering what can be the reasons. Oh this and that, then and when etc. …if I ever write my story …I mean ever... although doubtful, some chapters will definitely be on my vanishing act. Anyhow the exact reason is I was not keeping well. So, I didn’t feel like updating the blog. Although I did cook from time-to time, but updating the blog was not a priority at those terrible times. Anyhow slowly I am trying to figure out how to handle things. Hopefully will try to update this space more often. I can keep trying but I can’t promise.


I made this pasta recipe way back, but couldn’t post the recipe on time. This cannelloni pasta recipe was well received by my folks and also by my dear daughter’s school friends. I happen to pick this pasta while doing my grocery shopping and was intrigued. I found working with them little challenging as they tear out on a brink if extra pressure is applied. You have to work with gentle hands and be gentle with them like a true artist holds their paint-brush. Cooking this pasta is of course a piece of art. Anyhow I have used chicken and cheese stuffing for this recipe .Vegetarians don’t get disappointed, you can substitute it with spinach and ricotta cheese- absolutely delish material.

Here is how cannelloni pasta recipe we made

Baked Cannelloni pasta with chicken stuffing
Recipe requirements (serves 3-4 people)
  • 12 – Cannelloni pasta

For the Chicken stuffing
  • Roasted chicken 2 cups- thin and small bite size pieces
  •  1 large onion
  •  1 medium potato
  • 1 tomato
  •  2-3 tsp of dried Italian herb seasoning (can use dried sage and dried rosemary)
  •  3-5 heaped tbs of Pasta sauce

For Béchamel sauce
  • 3-4 tsp of butter
  • 2-3 cups of milk
  • 3-4 tbs of flour
  • White pepper powder
  • Quarter tsp of nutmeg powder
  • ½ cup of mozzarella cheese
  • some more to mozzarella to form the nice brown crust
  • 2 free range eggs
  • Salt as per taste



Method

For béchamel sauce
  •  Heat butter add in flour and stir mix. Add in milk and keep stirring .Add in eggs one by one and mozzarella cheese and keep mixing till it thickens. You can use Parmesan cheese in equal quantity as well like half mozzarella and half Parmesan cheese. This way it adds a nice texture and flavour to the sauce. Adjust salt as per taste. Add in white pepper powder and nutmeg powder.
  • Reserve some portions of this sauce to be used later on while baking cannelloni.
  • Now add in roasted chicken, finely chopped onion, potato and tomato to the above simmering béchamel sauce to make the stuffing . Add in dried Italian herb seasoning.Mix well and cook for 15 mints. This form a thick stuffing for cannelloni pasta….

Bake and Cooking of Pasta
  • Cook pasta al dente for 7-8 mints. Now quickly take out the pasta and let it dry a bit over a plate. Carefully lift the pasta and fill in the stuffing inside of the cannelloni pasta with the help of spoon.
  • Prepare a baking tray. Layer rest of the béchamel sauce first evenly at the bottom.
  • Now place stuffed cannelloni pasta to fill the space in baking tray. Put some pasta sauce over them.
  • Now again put stuffed cannelloni pasta one by one neatly over this layer. Spread some more béchamel sauce if you have any leftover or otherwise you may spread some pasta sauce as well.
  • Bake at 175 deg C for 10 mints...Take out sprinkle mozzarella cheese and bake further 10 mints or till the cheese evenly melted and a nice brown texture is formed.
  • Take out and serve.


Tips

You can use lasagna sheets in place of cannelloni pasta as well. As working with cannelloni pasta can be tricky.

Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, June 9, 2017

Pomfret Fish Curry- Ikan Bawal curry and Lemon Rice

We have been wanting to make Pomfret fish curry with South Indian influence for long time. So, made this pomfret fish curry and lemon rice.This was really a nice variation for our Bengali palette. Simple ‘mach-bhaat’ turned out something lip-smacking and delicious supper for us. Here is how we made both….



Pomfret Fish curry / Ikan Bawal curry
Recipe requirements (serves 2-3)
2-3 pomfret fish  
1 large tomato
3 cloves of garlic
8-10 shallots 
Spices and seasonings
1 tsp of turmeric powder (½ tsp of stir/fry and ½ tsp for rubbing fish)
 2 tsp of red pepper powder
 ½ tsp of coriander powder
 1 tsp of salt or as per taste
3-4 Thai red chillies
5-6 tbs of mustard oil
 1 cup of coconut milk
 Curry patta 12-15 leaves
Method
Clean, and cut pomfret fish. Clean the fish stomach as well. Cut into half.
Rub in fish with turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside.
Heat up a fry pan, add 2 tbs of mustard oil, add in pomfret fish and stir/fry them for about 3-4 mints flipping sides as well. Take out in a separate plate/bowl.
In that fry pan itself, add more mustard oil, add in chopped garlic and Thai red chillies. Add in curry patta/leaves.
Now add in chopped tomato and shallots as well. Keep on stir/fry for about 7-8 mints at medium high flame.
Now add in turmeric powder, red pepper powder, coriander powder and salt. Sprinkle little bit of water and keep on stir/fry.
Add in fried fishes.
Add in 1 cup of coconut milk and water depending upon the consistency of curry. Don’t add much water if you want a thick gravy. As we were going to have with lemon rice, I thought little bit of gravy is required. So I added coconut milk and water in equal proportions.
Cover and cook for 8-10 mints or till fishes are cooked through well.
Take out in a serving bowl. This goes well with warm cooked rice or with lemon rice.



Lemon rice
Recipe requirements (serves 2-3 people)
4 cups of cooked rice or 2 cups of uncooked rice
¾ tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of salt
3-4 tbs of cooking oil
For tempering
2 tsp of chana dal
 2 tsp of white urid dal
2 twigs of curry leaves or 10-12 leaves
1 tsp of mustard seeds
2-3 dry red pepper
½ cup of raw peanuts
 2-3 tsp of lemon juice
Method
Soak rice grains in water for about 10-12 mints.
Cook rice in a big pot with water. Sprinkle turmeric powder into it and mix well. Leave it to cook and drain the starch once rice is cooked. Keep the pot open, do not cover .Let the vapour/steam escape. Add in lemon juice and mix gently.
Now in a big enough fry pan/kadai, which can hold entire rice content, add in cooking oil.
Add in peanuts and fry them for couple of mints.
Now temper the oil with mustard seeds, dry red pepper, Urid dal and Chana dal.
Add in curry leaves.
Now add in cooked rice grains and slowly mix in the rice with the above tempering mixture.
Cover and leave aside for half an hour.

Serve with fish curry. This is absolutely aromatic and delicious.

Happy Cooking friends........

Friday, June 2, 2017

Shrimp and Pea Sprouts stir-fry recipe


A simple stir fry recipe with shrimps and pea sprouts on a busy weekday night comes handy. All you need is to cut some colourful vegetables of your choice. Pea sprouts are the star ingredients of this stir-fry recipe. If you don’t get pea sprouts, then you can use baby bok-choy wholes or some chopped Ung Choi as well. Anaheim chili gives a milder flavour.




Shrimp and Pea sprouts stir/fry
Recipe requirements ( serves 2-3 ) 
  • 10-12 large shrimps
  •  1 and half cups of pea sprouts
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2-3 Anaheim red chilly
  • 1 tsp of freshly crushed black pepper
  •  2 tsp of fish sauce
  • Salt as per taste
  • 4 tbs of cooking oil/soybean oil
  • Soya sauce (optional)

Method
  • Clean, de-shell and devein Shrimps. Sprinkle crushed black pepper and salt over shrimps. Keep aside for about half an hour.
  • Cut chop all the vegetables- red bell pepper, tomato, carrots and Anaheim red chilly into long and bit of thick juliennes.
  • Heat up a fry pan, add cooking oil, add in shrimps and stir/fry them for about 5-7 mints or till they are lightly browned. Take out in a bowl. Keep aside.
  • Now add in left-over oil.
  • Add in cut vegetables. Next add fish sauce and salt.Be careful with salt as fish sauce itself is salty. Sprinkle red pepper powder if you need more hotness. Keep on stir/fry for about 4-5 mints, retain the crunchiness of the vegetables. At this stage you may add soya sauce for some sweetness otherwise you can skip it as well.
  • Now add in fried shrimps, mix well. Take out on a serving plate. Enjoy with some cooked noodles or warm cooked rice. This is absolutely delicious.



Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, May 26, 2017

Spicy Shrimp with Avocado and Alfalfa Sprouts Salad


I haven’t updated this space for a while, so thought of posting this spicy shrimp avocado salad. There are many ways shrimps can be prepared and relished. This salad is one healthy way of introducing nourishing foods to our menu. This comes as refreshing change to a mundane summer salad. Avocado and alfalfa sprouts add up to the flavour and health benefits. Now without further ado here is simple recipe for this salad.




Spicy Shrimp with Avocado and Alfalfa sprouts salad

Recipe requirements
 10 large shrimps
¼ tsp of turmeric powder
 1 tsp of Red pepper powder
½ tsp of coriander powder
Salt as per taste
 2-3 tbs of cooking oil
1 ripened avocado
½ cup of alfalfa sprouts
¼ cup of chives and garlic sprouts
10-15 cherry tomatoes
2 cups of lettuce
2 tsp of olive oil
Salt as per taste
Method
Clean, de-shell and devein Shrimps. Rub in shrimps with red pepper powder,coriander powder , turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside for about half an hour.
Heat up a fry pan, add 2 tbs of cooking oil, add in shrimps and stir/fry them for about 5-7 mints or till they are lightly browned. Take out in a bowl. Keep aside.
Now assemble the salad
Cut and destone avocado in to bite size pieces.
In a big mixing bowl, add in lettuce leaves, alfalfa sprouts, avocado and cherry tomatoes.
Sprinkle salt and add in olive oil. Toss well.You may sprinkle black pepper powder as well.
Now serve with stir/fried shrimps.
You can squeeze in fresh lemon juice to get a tangy flavour over shrimps as well.
There are other variations as well – you may add chopped cucumber or include any nuts as well.


Let me also wish you all a very happy and healthy Ramadan Kareem.
Ramadan Mubarak To all .....

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tofu Palak Ki Sabzi- Tofu with Spinach



We have been cooking with tofu a lot these days and Tofu Palak ki Sabzi is another way of preparing tofu. You all can say Indian influence on tofu. Tofu is high in protein and is extracted from soybean milk just like our paneer which is extracted from cow milk. This recipe resembles with our very own Paneer Palak except for paneer we have used tofu. We have used super firm tofu for this preparation which is a denser variety of tofu.



Here to the recipe
Tofu Palak ki sabzi – Tofu with Spinach puree
Recipe requirements
  •  2 whole bunch of spinach leaves approx. 400 Gms
  • Tofu approx. 400gm
  •  5-6 fat cloves of garlic
  •  2 medium size onion
  • ½ inch ginger root
  • 1 large size tomato

For Tempering and seasoning 

  • 1 tsp of turmeric powder
  •  2 tsp of red pepper powder
  •  2 tsp of coriander powder
  • ½ tsp of cumin powder
  • ½ tsp of cardamom powder
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon powder
  •  1 tsp of salt or as per taste
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 3-4 dry red chillies
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 5-6 tbs of mustard oil
  • 1 tsp of ghee

Method
  • Clean spinach leaves properly in water. Discard the root tip and chop spinach leaves roughly.
  • Blanch spinach leaves in little water. Reserve the water that came out after blanching spinach leaves.
  • Heat up a fry pan, add 4 tbs of mustard oil, and add in cumin seeds, dry red chillies.
  • Now add in finely chopped onion, ginger, tomato and chopped garlic into it.
  • Keep on stir/fry for about 8-10 mints at medium high flame.
  • Now add in turmeric powder, red pepper powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt. Add in cinnamon, cardamom powder and sugar as well. Sprinkle little bit of water and keep on stir/fry.
  • Add in blanched spinach leaves as well. Coat well with spices. Let it cook covered for about 8-10 mints.
  • Take this fried masala and spinach out and pulse through a grinder to get a smooth ‘spinach masala paste’.
  • Add in about 2 tbs of mustard oil in a fry pan.
  • Now add in the above prepared ‘spinach masala paste’
  • Add in cubed tofu pieces and mix well with spices.
  • Add in 1 cup of water and the water that you reserved to use, after spinach blanching.Cover and cook for 10-15 mints at med-low flame.
  • Add in ghee or butter at the end.
  • Take out and serve. Enjoy with rotis or rice whatever way you prefer eating.



Happy Cooking Friends and have a great week ahead...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Instant Rava Onion Uttapam



‘’ What day is it?’’ asked Pooh.
‘’It’s today! ’’ Squealed Piglet.
‘’My favourite day’’ said Pooh…………..

Sometimes life’s greatest truth is revealed in children’s animation films. I have watched ‘Winnie- the Pooh’ several times with my dear daughter, while she still was a toddler. Although she has out grown those cartoon stories now, but some of the contextual scenes are still stuck in my mind. So simple and so profoundly told by Pooh and Piglet. Life’s greatest lesson comes from these innocent cartoons. That’s why I always believe in to nurture the innocent child in all of us. Live for the present day and create your own beautiful moments because you only are responsible for your own happiness.



Breakfast are important part of daily meal plans. And we generally on weekends tend to have more varieties for breakfast than the mundane bread and butter. So some days its rice poha, some days Upma or pancakes, some days various fruit filled crepes etc. And then occasionally these tomato onion Uttapams.I tend to cut out the long process of soaking and fermenting ingredients for uttapams. And these instant Uttapams turn out nice and delicious – no need to soak rice etc and then wait for fermenting process.
This is how we make our instant Uttapams
Instant Rava Uttapam
Recipe requirements (makes 4-5,  5’’ inch Uttapam rounds )
  •  2 heaped cups of Rava/sooji/semolina
  • ½ cup of plain flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  •  1 and half cup of yogurt
  •  1 tsp of salt or to taste
  •  About a cup of water

For the toppings
  •  1 large onion
  •  1 medium size tomato
  •  5-6 green chillies
  •  About a cup of chopped coriander leaves
  •  Salt as per taste and bit of red pepper powder/black pepper powder
  •  Cooking oil to make Uttapams.

Method
  •  In a mixing bowl, mix in plain flour and sooji/semolina. Add in baking soda and salt.
  • Now add in yogurt and mix with the above, it will form a dough like consistency.
  • Now add in a cup of water to make a smooth and lump free batter just like dosa /pancake batter and may be even more water if it is required.
  • Now let it rest for about half an hour.
  • Meanwhile chop onion, tomato, green chillies and coriander leaves very finely. Add in salt and pepper powder – if using to enhance the hotness level.
  • Heat up an iron tava/skillet/griddle. Now drop about 2-3 tsp of cooking oil. Rub this oil very well over the griddle.
  • Now give a final mix for the uttapam batter .Drop a ladle full of this batter to the hot griddle.
  • Flatten out a bit, but not much, just like a small round similar to pancake- approx. 5’’ inch rounds. The trick is to have a little thick rounds rather than big and thin rounds, so that they puff out well and turn soft also.
  • Now immediately put finely chopped onion, tomato, green chillies and coriander leaves over the top of the uttapam. Press it gently with the spatula.Let it cook for about 4-5 mints.
  • Flip the side very carefully and now again drop some cooking oil by the sides of uttapams.Cover the uttapamas and cook further for about 6-7 mints at med-low flame. Do not hurry otherwise the middle portions will turn out uncooked.
  • Uncover the uttapam and flip the side and cook for 2-3 mints. Shift into the serving plate.
  • You can have it with tomato ketchup or more traditionally with coconut chutney. These are absolutely divine straight from the hot tava/griddle. Enjoy your breakfast.



Happy Cooking Friends

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lotus Root Curry - Kamalkakdi Ki Sabzi


I have never made lotus root curry or ‘Kamalkakdi ki sabzi’ until that day. I was going through the vegetable aisle of our grocery stores here and came across these fresh lotus roots. I got intrigued and purchased it, thinking that I will make a semi-dry curry out of it. Now here in Malaysia, lotus root is extensively eaten in soups and noodles stir /fry preparations. In UP, India, it is known most commonly as ‘Kamalkakdi’ and Kamalkakdi ki sabzi is a staple food in cold winter months. You can even make a simple stir/fry preparation with cumin seeds and dried red chilly. Lotus roots are great source of dietary fibres, they are bit crunchy and has a delicate flavour. It is also known as ‘Renkon’ in Japan and ‘Lian Ou’ in Chinese. ‘Renkon’ Chips are very popular snack in Japan. Young Rhizomes are added to salad but more mature rhizomes needs proper cooking. Lotus root should be cleaned thoroughly of mud in water.


Here is how we made Kamalkakdi ki sabzi/or Lotus root curry.

Lotus Root curry (Kamalkakdi ki sabzi)

Recipe requirements
  • 1-2 whole lotus roots – approx. 400gm
  •  2 medium size potatoes
  • 5 fat cloves of garlic
  •  2 medium size onion
  • ½ inch ginger root
  • 1 large size tomato

For tempering and seasonings
  • 1 tsp of turmeric powder
  •  2 tsp of red pepper powder
  •  1 and half tsp of coriander powder
  • ½ tsp of cumin powder
  •  1 tsp of salt or as per taste
  • ¼ tsp of sugar
  • 3-4 dry red chillies
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 5-6 tbs of mustard oil
  • 1 tsp of ghee
  • 1 tsp of garam masala

Method
  • Clean lotus roots properly in water. Peel the outer skin and slice them in rounds of about ¼ inch thick pieces. Leave them for a while in water and then clean it thoroughly with water again.
  • Put a big pot with ample water to boil. Add salt and the lotus root slices and cook them for about 15-20 mints. Or alternately you can pressure cook them for two whistles.
  • Heat up a fry pan, add 4 tbs of mustard oil, and add in cumin seeds, dry red chillies.
  • Now add in finely chopped onion, ginger, tomato and chopped garlic into it.
  • Keep on stir/fry for about 7-8 mints at medium high flame.
  • Now add in turmeric powder, red pepper powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt. Add in sugar as well. Sprinkle little bit of water and keep on stir/fry.
  • Take this fried masala out and pulse through a grinder to get a smooth ‘masala paste’.
  • Add in about 2 tbs of mustard oil in a fry pan.
  • Add in potatoes pieces preferably c ubed. Fry the potato pieces evenly. Take them out.
  • Now add in the above prepared ‘masala paste’
  • Add in chopped/sliced lotus root  and fried potato pieces now. Mix lotus root pieces very well with spices.
  • Add in 2 cups of water. Cover and cook for 15-20 mints at med-low flame or till the lotus root pieces are cooked well.
  • Add in ghee and garam masala at the end. Give a final mix.
  • Take out and serve in a bowl with rotis or rice whatever way you prefer eating.



Happy Cooking Friends and you all have great week ahead.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mint Alfalfa sprouts Cherry tomato and Roasted Chicken Salad



A healthy snack can be a salad as well. This mint, alfalfa sprouts and roasted chicken salad fits in to this category perfectly. If you have some-left over chicken you can use up in this salad as well. Alfalfa sprouts are considered rich in minerals and have multiple health benefits. Mint leaves gives a nice aromatic flavour to this salad. This salad can be paired up with Mexican Burritos as sides or you can make them as main dish as well, just increase roasted chicken pieces to add lean proteins in to this salad.




Here is how you can assemble the salad

Mint Alfalfa sprouts Cherry tomato and Roasted Chicken salad
Serves- 2-3
Recipe requirements
  • 5-6 mint twigs
  • About half cup of alfalfa sprouts
  • About quarter cup of garlic sprouts
  • 1 cup of cherry tomato or 12-15 cherry tomatoes cut into half
  • 1 cup of roasted chicken small bite-size pieces

Method
  • Take out fresh leaves from mint twigs. Clean mint leaves, alfalfa and garlic sprouts well in water.
  • Chop mint leaves finely. Chop roasted chicken in to bite size pieces (I have used chicken breast portions from  this  roasted chicken recipe).
  • In a big mixing bowl, add in mint leaves, alfalfa and garlic sprouts.
  • Add in cherry tomatoes cut in to half to the above.
  • Add in roasted chicken and mix well all.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt.
  • Add in 1 tsp of olive oil and toss well.
  • Serve and enjoy with some burritos or quesadillas as sides.






Happy Cooking Friends 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Easy Blueberry Cheesecake Recipe


We have been craving for some cheesecake for a long while now, so thought of assembling this blueberry cheesecake. Last time when I went for grocery shopping, saw these fresh blueberry and I couldn’t stop myself from buying these little cute blue gems. This recipe is no-bake cheesecake recipe. Although I happened to bake the crust/base only just to firm up a bit, so technically it’s a no-bake cheesecake recipe. I had chocolate biscuits, which I end up using for the base. Another great substitute can be Oreo biscuits as base and who doesn’t like Oreos. Traditional cheesecake is made with any salty biscuit or crackers. There are many variations, you can even use strawberry in place of blueberry with this same recipe to make Strawberry Cheesecake.

Now to the recipe



Easy Blueberry Cheesecake
Recipe requirements
For the crust
2 and half cups of chocolate biscuits crumbs/ Graham Crackers crumbs
4-5 tbs of butter
For the filling
400 Gms of cream cheese
200 ml of whipping cream
3 tsp of agar-agar powder
100 Gms of blueberry
5-6 tbs of caster sugar
For the top glaze
2 tsp of agar – agar powder
5-6  heaped tbs of sugar
1 cup of blueberry



Method
For the crust/base

  • Make crumbs of chocolate biscuits either running through in grinder or pressing with rolling pin. In a big mixing bowl, add these crumbs and butter and mix well.
  • Now take 9 inch round baking pan or any other vessel you will be using to make/set cheesecake.
  • Rub about a tsp of butter evenly on baking pan and add all the biscuit crumbs, pressing gently to even out the surface. TIP- you can use Oreo biscuit crumbs as well for a delicious base.
  • Put in to bake for 5 mints at 175 Deg C. Take out and let it cool a bit.


For the cheesecake frosting

  • Now in a separate and clean mixing bowl, add in cream cheese, whipping cream reserving about 50 ml of cream. In a separate cup take this 50 ml cream and add in agar-agar powder. Microwave it for about 30 sec. We require lukewarm cream, just enough to dissolve the agar –agar powder. Let it come to room temperature and cool a bit.
  • Keep on folding cream cheese and whipping cream. You can use mixer as well. Now add in blueberry if you like chunks in the top frosting of cheesecake, otherwise you may skip. Add in the agar-agar and cream mixture and slowly mix in all. TIP- you can use Greek style thick yogurt in place of cream cheese to make it lighter, the taste will be little different, but will be less in calories.


For the top blueberry glaze

  • Meanwhile make the blueberry top glaze. Put a melting pot on cooking and add in blueberries and sugar and let it cook for about 7-10 mints. Crush blueberries with spatula and add in agar-agar powder. Cook further 2-3 mints and take out. Let it come to room temperature.
  • After the base is cooled, add the cream cheese +whipped cream mixture over the baked crust. Even out the surface with a clean knife.
  • Now add the blueberry top glaze, even out the surface and let it set and cool a bit.
  • Leave the blueberry cheese cake to cool and set in fridge for about 7-8 hrs or overnight.
  • Take out and cut slices and enjoy delicious blueberry cheesecake.








Wish you all a very Happy Holi. हैप्पी  होली !
May festival of colours bring you loads of happiness and enjoyment in your life.