Saturday, March 31, 2018

Fish Koftas

Another Friday and yet another pescatarian dinner. Fridays in Lent constitute fish at our dinner table. Meals have been duly chronicled and posted, consumed enthusiastically or sometimes with little enthusiasm. This is the last compulsory meal as Easter comes barrelling along. I try a Bengali kofta curry. Simple spices sauteed with the usual suspects.... onions, ginger and garlic. The curry laced with tomato paste becomes more a sauce than a runny gravy. Boiled fish and mashed potato koftas are enhanced with fried onions, chiles and few choice spices. Lightly fried, they are napped with the tomato sauce and topped with a yogurt garlic sauce. Most appetizing. 

Serves 4

1 pound boneless skinless Cod
1 large Yukon Gold Potato
1 Bread Slice
2 Green Chiles, minced fine
1 teaspoon Garlic Paste
2 tablespoons Cilantro, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
3/4 teaspoon Garam masala
1/2 teaspoon Cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 Onions
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1 Bay Leaf
2 Cloves
1 Cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon Garlic Paste
1 teaspoon Ginger Paste
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Yogurt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Paste

Cut cod into large pieces. Place cod in a saucepan, cover with water, add a large pinch of salt tp cod and bring to a boil over a medium flame. Lower flame and simmer cod for 10 minutes till flaky and done. Drain well. 

Peel potato and chop into chunks. Place in a bowl, cover with water and add a large pinch of salt. Boil potatoes till soft. Drain and mash well with a fork.

Put fish in a bowl and mash gently. Add potatoes to fish, along with green chiles, garlic paste, cilantro, chile powder, garam masala, cumin powder and salt.

Chop onion finely.

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add onion to hot oil and saute till light brown. 

Take 1 tablespoon of browned onion and add to fish.

Soak bread slice in a little water for 1 minutes. Squeeze water out and add to fish. 

Use your hands to mix the fish and spices well.

Form small balls.

Deep fry balls till golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm or reheat in a microwave just before adding to the sauce below. 

If preferred you could make small flat discs and shallow fry them.

Continue to saute onions.

Add bayleaf, cloves and cinnamon stick to onions.

Add garlic and ginger paste to browned onions. Saute till you see oil on the edges of the onions.

Add tomato paste and saute for 3-5 minutes.

Add turmeric, chile and garam masala to onions. Stir well for 30 seconds so spices can bloom.

Season with salt.

Pour water into onions and simmer for 5 minutes. You need a thickish sauce just enough to coat the fish.

Whisk yogurt and garlic paste together. Add 3 -4 tablespoon of water to make a pouring consistency.

Float the fish koftas in the sauce.

Drizzle with yogurt sauce and serve with rice or roti.

The family equates koftas with meat. Pleasantly surprised with the deception, they attack the alternative with much gusto. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Short Cut Fish Patia & Dhun Dal

Dilnaz posts a Busybee commentary on Parsi food and whets my appetite for all the listed bhonu, a comprehensive list of beloved foods. Busybee, a Bombay literary icon, published chronicles of life he saw, through comedic written vignettes. The Gourmet Navroze article is a paean to all foods Parsi. If you should be so fortunate to sample their panoply of culinary fare you count yourself among the lucky ones. I yearn for dhansak, patra ni macchi, sali boti, saas ni macchi and a myriad other specials, but I settle on an easy to make fish patia.

Short cuts abound here as time and talents speak volumes. Oh yes...the Time and Talents Club Cookbook as well. This is a compendium of recipes compiled by a group of Parsi women.  I take my cue from these stalwarts. They would hold cooking demonstrations at their meetings, incorporating relevant recipes into future publications. Mum has a couple of recipes of hers printed in there as well.  I use a recipe that has been faithfully copied by my Dad to assist me in my kitchen adventures as a new bride. There are a host of Parsi cookbooks but this one is by far my favorite.

As I aforementioned, I take a few shortcuts. It starts with boneless codfish, as traditional recipes use pomfret slices. Fish tastes best when cooked with bones, but the convenience of boneless cod is a no brainer for me. I do not spend time soaking red chiles in hot water to soften them into a blended puree. A quick paste comes together with red chile powder, paprika and ground garlic. Using powdered masalas allows me to start on patia prep in a jiffy. Skinned tomatoes, vinegar and the fish blend into an onion masala gravy. The right accompaniment to patia is dhun dal. Pigeon peas or toor dal is cooked, whisked smooth and tempered with garlic and cumin. A mound of fluffy white rice is topped with a ladleful of dal, which is in turn topped with liberally with fish patia. I fry papad and we are off to the races!

Adapted from Time & Talents Club Cookbook
Serves 4

Fish  Patia
1 pound boneless Fish like Cod or Tilapia
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3 tablespoons Canola Oil
2 large Onions
1 teaspoon Chile powder
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Cumin powder
3 teaspoons Garlic paste
4 large Tomatoes
2 tablespoons Vinegar
2 teaspoons Sugar
Fried Onions

Dhun Dal
3/4 cup Toor Dal or Pigeon Peas
Pinch of Asafoetida or Hing
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
6 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds

Start the dal by soaking toor dal in water for 1/2 hour. 

Place dal in a deep saucepan, add hing and turmeric  to dal. Top dal with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. When it boils, lower flame, cover and cook for 1/2 hour till done. Stir dal often, adding more water if necessary. 

Alternately, cook the dal in a pressure cooker. No need for soaking the dal. Rinse dal well till water is clear. Put the dal to the pressure cooker. Add hing and turmeric to dal. Pour 3 cups water into dal. The water should cover the dal up to 1/2 inch. Follow pressure cooker instruction and cook for 8 minutes. 

Whisk dal till smooth. Season with salt and keep warm. The dal should be thick and not runny.

Make the fish patia by cutting the fish into 2 inch pieces. Wash fish well and pat dry. 

Season fish with turmeric and salt. Mix with your hands so fish is well coated. Keep aside till needed.

Chop onions finely.

Mix chile powder, cumin powder and garlic paste.

Blanch tomatoes to remove skin. Cut into small dice. (You don't have to remove tomatoes skins but the gravy tastes much better without them)

Heat canola oil in a deep saucepan.

Add chopped onions and fry till light brown. 

Add masala to onions and saute on a low flame for 3-5 minutes.

Raise the flame to medium high and add chopped tomatoes. Saute till tomatoes have dissolved into gravy. This takes about 5-7 minutes. 

Add vinegar and sugar to gravy. Stir well.

Slip fish pieces into gravy. Cover and cook fish for 5 minutes.

Finish the dal by adding a tarka. Heat oil in a small pan. When it is hot add cumin seeds and sliced garlic. Cook till seeds are dark brown and garlic is golden. Pour the oil into the cooked dal. 

Uncover saucepan, top with fresh cilantro and serve with dhun dal and rice.

How to eat Fish Patia

Top rice with a helping of dal. Top dal with a piece of fish and some gravy. Cilantro and fried onions add taste and texture. Fry some papad and you have a complete meal.

When I travel to Bombay Dilnaz brings me patra ni macchi and brain cutlets. Benaaz treats me to khatta meetha cutlets, dhansak with kofta pullao, and sali boti at Kings.  My taste buds and belly are eternally grateful to their generosity and friendship. And to Mum and Dad for the jubilee edition of the Parsi cookbook. Busybee wrote lovingly of his favorites, but my friends bring that foodlove to my table.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Irish Soda Bread with Dried Fruit

St Paddys has come and gone with no soda bread in the oven. I visit this recipe yearly when spring looms on the horizon. A perennial family favorite, the thought of not making it saddens me. Since I have a carton of buttermilk, I shouldn't hesitate any longer. This particular soda bread has a cakier texture than most. It is also lighter and moist.   

All purpose flour, baking soda, sugar and salt are whisked in a mixer bowl. Egg, buttermilk and orange zest are whisked in another bowl. Dried fruit like cranberries, golden raisins and dried cherries are whisked in a third bowl, along with a little flour. Yes there is butter....nothing good comes out of the oven without butter. Be resigned to this fact!

Makes 1 large loaf

4 cups AP Flour

4 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
4 tablespoons cold Butter
1 3/4 cup Buttermilk, well shaken
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Orange Zest
1 1/2 cups mixed Dried Fruit - Dried Cranberries, Golden Raisins, Dried Cherries 
1 tablespoon Flour

Heat oven to 375F.

Line a baking sheet with a silicone sheet or parchment paper.

Put flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Use the paddle blade and whisk a few seconds.

Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes.

Run the mixer on low speed and add butter to flour.

Mix buttermilk, egg and orange zest in a bowl. Whisk well till combined.

Add 1 tablespoon of flour to dried fruit and whisk till fruit is covered.

Add buttermilk to flour, pouring it in slowly.

Add dried fruit to dough.

Let the mixer keep going on low speed till the dough clumps together. It will be wet.

Scrape the dough on to a well floured surface.

Knead it lightly till dough comes together without sticking. 

Gather dough onto a ball and place on prepared baking sheet.

Using a sharp knife make a cross on the top of the ball.

Bake in oven for 50-55 minutes.

Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Slice with a serrated knife and enjoy.

St. Patrick's Day is a memory but Irish soda bread is an impression, one deeply entrenched in our minds and taste buds! Your palate has been whisked away to the Emerald Isles. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

BLTG Sandwich

My bacon lettuce tomato sandwich has a delicious addition. G is for Guacamole that adds the right touch of spice and all things nice. Turn bacon slices crisp brown. A vine ripened tomato sliced thickly and romaine lettuce spears make composite layers. Use bread with character. Mine is an onion flecked burger bun. Layer the bun with lettuce. Top with bacon slices, followed by tomato. The second bun gets a thick swish of guacamole. Bring the two buns together and take a big bite. Pair it with a cold beer and some chips and watch the day get a tad better.

Serves 4

1 pound package thick cut Bacon
Romaine Lettuce leaves
1 large Tomato
Guacamole-  homemade or store-bought 
4-8 Onion-Topped Burger Buns or any sliced Bread of your choice

Cook bacon in a saucepan till dark brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. You might have to fry the bacon in two batches.

Slice tomato.

Assemble sandwiches by placing lettuce leaves on the bottom half of the bun.

Top with bacon slices, broken in half. Use 3-4 slices of bacon.

Top bacon with tomato slice.

Spread guacamole on the top half of the bun and place over tomato.

Take a big bite and enjoy the sandwich.

An inordinate amount of sunshine lets me enjoy an al fresco lunch...just the right thing to do in the South!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Crepe Fettuccini

Pasta for dessert? Yes Yes Yes... Though there is a twist....a mock up of fettuccine, by way of slivered crepes. The recipe is a deconstructed Crepes Suzette. I watch this dessert performance via Lidia Bastianich. Her Italian cookery shows are in a class by itself. This episode features crespelle for dessert. Crepe Suzettes are one of my top ten desserts, so I am thrilled with this alternate version.

I make crepes with this specific recipe in mind. Rolled crepes are cut into slivers and sauteed in butter, fresh orange juice and apricot jam. Orange zest and sugar give the sauce flavor and sweetness. I fork a swirl of crepes on to my plate and anticipate my pleasure!

Adapted from Lidia Bastianich
Serves 6-8

Crepe batter
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Milk
3 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm Water
2 Eggs
2 tablespoons melted Butter
A pinch of Kosher salt
Melted Butter for making crepes

Orange Sauce
4 tablespoons Butter
1 1/2 cup fresh Orange Juice 
1 teaspoon Orange Zest
6 tablespoons Apricot Jam
4 tablespoons Sugar

Make the crepes by whisking flour, milk, sugar, water, eggs, melted butter and salt in a blender till smooth.

Pour crepe batter in to bowl, cover and let batter rest for 1 hour. This allows the crepes to develop that signature lacy effect when cooked.

Begin making crepes by placing a nonstick pan over medium heat. 

Brush the pan with melted butter.

Ladle about two tablespoons batter into the pan, swirling the pan as you pour, allowing the batter to coat the entire pan. Cook crepe for 2 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for 30 seconds. Place cooked crepe on a plate. 

Finish the remaining batter in the same fashion, making sure to brush the pan with melted butter before swirling each crepe. You will get 8-10 crepes.

Once crepes are done, roll each crepe tightly and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Pile them loosely on a platter.

Heat butter in a large saucepan.

Add orange juice and zest to butter and bring to a slow simmer.

Spoon apricot jam and sugar to sauce and stir till jam and sugar melt.

Add cut crepes to sauce and stir gently to coat. 

Simmer on a low flame for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Heap crepes onto a large plate or serve as individual portions.

This is my new satisfies that sweet tooth with every forkful! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Affaf Ali's Reshmi Kababs

I belong to Sikandalous Cuisine, a food group with a platoon of professional chefs and amateur cooks. That is a distinction to some people! Spearheaded by Atul Sikand, these intrepid culinarians raise the bar with easy recipes for home cooking. Perusing through a multitude of cuisines I am often tempted to hit that Save button and experiment in my way. This is one of them. Affaf Ali posted these deliciously easy chicken kababs and has graciously allowed me to repost her stellar recipe. Instead of the traditional tandoor or grill, she allows you to cook the kababs in an oven. For some of us, winter weather is a big deterrent in outdoor grilling. 

Boneless skinless chicken thighs are cubed and marinated in cream, thick yogurt, lemon juice and spices. A fresh ground paste of cilantro, mint and green chiles is added. I have preserved the integrity of the ingredients, but increased quantity of some. Chicken is marinated overnight, threaded onto skewers and grilled in a hot oven.  The idea is to let the skewers rest over the lip of a baking sheet or ovenproof dish, not on the the sheet itself. I have a skewer set that allows me to place the contraption on a grill or baking sheet. The elevation allows the heat to envelop the entire surface of the meat, making a tastier and well browned kabab. The kababs are melt in your mouth delicacies. A spritz of lime, some sliced onion and a hearty appetite is all that is needed.

Serves 4

1 pound boneless skinless Chicken Thighs
1 tablespoon Garlic paste
1 tablespoon Ginger paste
1/3 cup Cream
1/2 cup Yogurt
3 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg powder
3/4 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Cilantro
1 cup Mint leaves
5 Green Chiles
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
Canola Oil Spray

Place a couple of paper towels or cheesecloth over a strainer. 

Spoon yogurt onto paper or cloth and let it drain for 1/2 hour.

Prepare the chicken by cutting it into 2 inch pieces. Wash and pat dry. Put chicken into a stainless steel or glass bowl.

Add cream, yogurt, garlic and ginger paste, lemon juice, black pepper, nutmeg, garam masala and salt to chicken.

Grind cilantro, mint and green chiles with oil till you have a thick paste. 

Add paste to chicken. Stir chicken  till well mixed.

Cover and refrigerate overnight for best results. If you are pressed for time, marinate chicken for 4-6 hours in the fridge. The longer it sits in the marinade the softer the chicken roasts.

Heat oven to 350F.

Thread chicken onto metal skewers. If you are using bamboo skewers, make sure to soak them for 30 minutes prior to roasting.

Arrange skewers over the sides of a  baking tray or over the lip of a baking dish. The idea is to elevate the skewers so they do not touch the bottom of the baking sheet or dish. Line the tray or dish with foil for an easier clean up. The foil catches the drips.

Coat chicken with a couple of spritzes of oil spray.

Place chicken in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes till cooked. 

Serve chicken kababs with sliced onion and lime wedges.

It is finger food at our Oscar viewing dinner. Thanks you Affaf Ali for these mouthwatering nuggets of delight!