Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Samosa @Home

Samosa

If you are an Indian, you must be in love with Samosa! If you are not an Indian but familiar with this ubiquitous Indian snack then you are definitely a lucky one! Who won’t love this absolutely delicious quick snack which is so cheap in price but so rich in taste! Samosa is one such Indian food which you will find in every nook and corner of India, though the taste might vary slightly due to varied preference of taste in this country of diverse cultures.


The basic ingredient of this triangular shaped 'quick-bite' is nothing but potato. Now there are multiple variations available in the market and your version can also be a special one which is only limited by your imagination! You can use assorted vegetables, minced meat, grated cottage cheese with the seasoning of your choice and there you have your very own customized samosa! Yeah, you are a rock-star! :)

Today I will share my recipe of a traditional samosa which I have learnt from my Mom-in-Law who is an established expert in making samosa! Samosa is so easily available here that people hardly make it at home. But any street food comes with some added benefit when made at home – a much higher hygiene quotient and greater control over the quality of ingredients. It is not at all difficult to make samosa at home but may need some time to prepare. If you keep the stuffing ready in advance, you can quickly fry up a batch of hot samosas to pep up your evening tea!

Samosa

SAMOSA

 MAKES APPROXIMATELY 10

Ingredients

FOR OUTER COATING -
  • All-purpose flour – 200 gms
  • Oil – 4 tbsp or more
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as required
FOR STUFFING
  • Potato – 4, large
  • Cumin seeds – 3 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Green peas – ½ cup
  • Green chili – 1 (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – enough for deep frying

Instructions

  • To make the stuffing, boil the potatoes till soft. Peel them and dice into small pieces. Set aside.
  • Boil the green peas and set aside. If you are using frozen peas, you don’t have to boil them. Just thaw them for 10 minutes before using and keep aside.
  • Dry roast the cumin seed on a hot pan/griddle. Crush them coarsely in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. When hot, add the diced potatoes and green peas along with turmeric powder. Stir well to mix.
  • If using green chili, then chop it and tip into the pan. Add salt to taste.
  • Add a splash of water if the potatoes tend to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Now add the roasted cumin seeds powder and mix well. The potatoes and peas must be quite soft and mushy by now.
  • When the stuffing turns completely dry, remove it from fire and set aside.
  • To make the dough for the outer coating, add the oil and salt to the all-purpose flour and mix well. Knead it to soft dough by adding little water at a time. You can use your food processor as well for the kneading. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes before next step.
  • To make the samosas, first divide the dough into 5 to 6 balls. Now take a ball and using your rolling pin, roll it out thinly in round shape.
  • Use a knife or pizza/pastry cutter and cut through the middle of the pastry to make two semi-circles. Take one semi-circle and proceed to next step.
  • Apply water on the straight edge of the semi-circle using a brush or your fingers.
  • Hold the semi-circle in your hand, fold the straight edge, bringing together the watered edges, and seal the watered edges into a triangular pocket or cone. It is now ready to be stuffed.
  • Stuff each cone with couple of spoons of potato-peas mixture and seal the opening by pinching the two ends and applying some water. Make sure there are no cracks; else the stuffing may come out while frying.
  • Once all the samosas are stuffed, deep fry them in hot oil in a deep skillet using vegetable oil.
  • Serve hot with tomato ketchup or green chutney!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chicken Burger... and a New Beginning


This recipe is real special! Yes, I mean it! You might be thinking what’s so special about a regular chicken burger! Yeah I can totally understand that, but the reason of this regular burger being special is that it marks the beginning of my new blog ‘Flavor Quotient’!

Yeah, if you have visited me before, you might already know that earlier my blog was called ‘Foods… Photos… Etc…’! Finally I took the plunge after fighting with my dilemma for a long time on whether or not I should register my own domain! So here is my blog with a fresh new look and a brand new name! Hope you will like it!

Chicken burger is definitely not something that we generally make at home thanks to the increasing number of burger joints in each and every city. But it’s definitely worth a try as you won’t believe how easy it is! Moreover, the up-side is that you can make your chicken patty as fat as you like! So go ahead and give your favorite local burger joint a miss and I bet you won’t regret!

Chicken Burger

CHICKEN BURGER

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Chicken breast – 150 gms [2 medium sized pieces will do]
  • Onion – 1, small
  • Garlic powder – ½ tsp [Replace with 2 tsp of garlic paste if you don’t have garlic powder]
  • Paprika powder – 1 tsp
  • Egg – 3
  • Breadcrumbs – 1 cup or more as required
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil for shallow frying
  • Burger bun – 4
  • Cream cheese spread – as required
  • Lettuce leaves – 8 to 10 leaves
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Mince the chicken breasts in a food processor. If you don’t have one, you can choose to buy the minced chicken itself. I always prefer to grind the chicken on my own.
  • Grate the onion and add it to the mince. Add garlic powder, paprika, 1 beaten egg and salt to taste and give it a good mix so that everything combines well.
  • Now add breadcrumbs, 1 spoon at a time and give it a good mix. Add more breadcrumbs until the mince gets to a sticky dough-like texture so that you can easily form a patty.
  • Now beat the remaining 2 eggs, keep it in a medium sized bowl and add a pinch of salt. Spread the breadcrumbs in a plate.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan [You can use a grill pan too if you have one!]. Make 4 to 5 patties from the chicken mince mixture depending on the thickness you like.
  • Dip a patty in the beaten eggs and then lay it on the breadcrumbs. Coat both the sides with breadcrumbs and then place it on the hot frying pan.
  • Fry the patties for 5 to 6 minutes each side on low heat till they turn golden brown.
  • Once done remove the patties from the pan and put on kitchen towel to absorb excel oil.
  • To assemble the burger, first cut the buns into two and toast them lightly on the grill pan or skillet.
  • Now place the bottom portion of the bun on a plate, spread a thick layer of cream cheese spread over it and arrange few torn lettuce leaves.
  • Next place one chicken patty on it, spread another layer of cream cheese and few more pieces of torn lettuce leaves.
  • Now cover the burger with the top half of the bun and insert a satay stick through the middle to fix everything.
  • Serve the delicious chicken burgers with tomato ketchup! Enjoy!
Chicken Burger

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chili Paneer... {Recipe #5 of Paneer Series}

Chili Paneer

#Worldcup fever is on its top which indispensably has affected our daily routine. We are sleeping way too late since the beginning of this mega event and this will continue till the final game for sure. So I have to adjust my daily schedule according the match schedules however tough it may seem given that our time difference with the host country Brazil is 8 and half hours! But with the building excitement with every match, I can forgive and forget this temporary pain to witness some fantastic plays of our era!

As we enjoy the thrilling moments of the knock-out rounds, I am sharing my final recipe of the cottage cheese series which you can savor while glued to your couch. This is a spicy quick bite perfect for evening snack. This will also be great to serve to a large gathering as you may love to cheer your favorite team with all friends and families. Simply keep the cheese cubes fried before-hand and toss them up in the sauce just before serving. Serve hot and cheers!


CHILI PANEER

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Paneer (Cottage Cheese) – 200 gms, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Corn flour – 2 tbsp
  • All-purpose flour (Maida) – 2 tbsp
  • Onion – 1, medium, cut in big chunks
  • Green bell pepper – 1, medium, cut lengthwise
  • Garlic cloves – 6 to 8, grated (I use little more garlic since I like its flavor, you can reduce to 2 to 3 cloves)
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece, grated
  • Green chili – 3 to 4, cut lengthwise and deseeded
  • Dark soy sauce – 2 tbsp
  • Tomato ketchup – 2 tbsp
  • Green chili sauce – 2 tbsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Mix the cornflour and plain flour in a bowl with half a teaspoon of salt. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water (not all at a time) to make a smooth paste not too thin. It should be thick enough to coat the paneer cubes lightly.
  • Heat enough vegetable oil in a deep frying pan. Dip each cheese cubes into the flour batter and lift up to let the excess batter drain out.
  • Tip them in the hot oil and fry till they are lightly golden brown. Fry the paneer cubes in batches without crowding too many in the pan at a time.
  • Put them on a kitchen towel to absorb excess oil. Set aside.
  • Now heat some oil in a pan. Add grated garlic & ginger, green chilies and onions and stir them for a minute.
  • Tip in the capsicum and stir fry on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato ketchup, green chili sauce and soy sauce to the vegetables and mix them well.
  • Add half a cup of water and let it boil for about 2 minute. Add salt keeping in mind that all the sauces are already salty; so go easy on salt. You can taste and adjust anytime later.
  • Now add the fried paneer cubes to it and cook it for another 2 minutes till the cheese cubes are coated all over with the sauce.
  • If you have some spring onion handy, sprinkle the chopped green portions of them to garnish and serve hot. Best enjoyed as a starter or with vegetable fired rice.
Chili Paneer

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Palak Paneer... {Recipe #4 of Paneer Series}

Palak Paneer

My Paneer series wouldn’t be complete without the quintessential ‘Palak Paneer’! This is nothing but cottage cheese cubes cooked in a lovely green sauce made of fresh spinach leaves. This is one dish which you will find in the menu of every restaurant across India. I love it because of the freshness which comes from the spinach – so make sure you get the freshest possible leaves.


Spinach

These are the fresh produce of spinach leaves in our own tiny kitchen garden! Yeah, this was not enough for this dish but definitely made their contribution too!

I don’t overpower my palak paneer with too many spices. I just lightly flavor the oil with some whole garam masalas like cinnamon and cardamom (we Indians refer the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves as ‘Garam Masala’ since ages but I am not sure how this name came into existence!) which lends a lovely hint of aroma to the freshness of spinach making it absolutely delicious. This would be a great combination with plain Basmati rice or some buttery hot naan.

Palak Paneer


PALAK PANEER

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Paneer (Cottage Cheese) – 200 gms
  • Palak (Spinach) – 4 standard bunches (approximately 250 to 300 gms)
  • Onion – 1, large
  • Tomato – 1, large
  • Cinnamon stick – 2 inch
  • Green cardamom – 4 to 5
  • Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
  • Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  • Cumin powder – ½ tsp
  • Garam masala – ½ tsp
  • Oil – 3 to 4 tbsp (For best taste, use Ghee (Clarified butter) instead of oil)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cream – 1 tbsp (optional)

Instructions

  • Trim off the fat stems of the palak and retain only the leaves. Try to get the freshest spinach leaves as it will give you the ultimate best taste.
  • Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly as they generally have too much dirt. Set aside.
  • Chop the onion and tomato to small pieces. In a skillet heat the oil. When hot, temper with cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks and green cardamoms and let them flavor the oil for a minute.
  • Add the chopped onion and sauté till golden brown. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and sprinkle some salt for the tomatoes to cook faster.
  • When the tomatoes look cooked and the oil starts separating, add the turmeric powder, cumin powder and salt. [Add salt cautiously since the palak reduces in volume tremendously, so it’s an easy mistake to overdo the salt. You can always add it later after doing a taste test.]
  • After frying the powdered spices for a minute or two, add the washed spinach leaves. You can chop the leaves to smaller pieces but that’s not mandatory as we are going to blend it anyway.
  • Spinach leaves will leave a lot of water and wilt down within couple of minutes. Stir them in the spices for five minutes to get rid of the raw smell of spinach.
  • Now it’s time to blend, but before that you can try to fish out the cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods or if you like their strong taste, you can leave them too.
  • If you have a hand blender, you can blend directly in the skillet or else you can transfer it to your blender and blend it till it becomes a smooth green puree. Add some water if needed and transfer it back to the cooking pot.
  • Let the spinach puree boil and in the meantime cut the cottage cheese into 1 inch cubes. I generally simmer the paneer cubes in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes as this makes them quite soft.
  • Now add the paneer cubes to the spinach gravy and let them simmer for 5 minutes. Stir carefully as the paneer cubes may tend to break.
  • Adjust the consistency of the gravy according to your liking and you can also add fresh cream to make it more rich and creamy.
  • Now put off the flame and sprinkle some garam masala all over. Keep it covered for few minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy the hot palak paneer with plain Basmati rice, butter naan or roti.
Palak Paneer

Check out more paneer delicacies -

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Shahi Paneer... {Recipe #3 of Paneer Series}

Shahi Paneer

My first trip outside India was quite memorable. Though I could not wander and explore Athens as much as I wanted to due to lack of company, but still the brief experience was so much enriching that I can ignore what I missed for the time being. And of course I will come back to this amazing country and soak up in its beauty once again. Next time the added benefit would be that I will have my best friend’s company who is incidentally my better half too! ;)

This time thankfully I got a long weekend during my stay and had spent a wonderful time with my brother who happens to stay in Zurich. We explored couple of islands of Greece, Hydra being one of them which is an amazingly beautiful place where even a week’s time of vacation won’t be enough. You will simply want to be lost by the deep blue Aegean Sea and walk leisurely by the coast lined with beautiful boats and yachts. Such experiences are hard to describe in words. May be a picture can help to take a peek!

Hydra

An interesting fact about Hydra is that it’s an eco-island where the only mode of transport is donkey as cars or motorcycles are not allowed by law.

With my Greek experience, let’s come to today’s recipe – 3rd in the row of Paneer series – the Shahi Paneer! ‘Shahi’ literally means ‘royal’ and according to me this is an absolutely apt name. This dish is so rich and aromatic with the Indian spices and especially due to the addition of almond/cashew paste, it is nothing less than a royal treatment to your taste buds.

SHAHI PANEER

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Paneer – 200 gms, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Onion – 1, large, chopped
  • Homemade tomato puree – ¾ cup
  • Garlic – 5 to 6 cloves, grated
  • Ginger – 2 inch piece, grated
  • Green chili – 1 or 2, slit
  • Cloves – 4 to 5
  • Green cardamom – 4 to 5
  • Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder – ½ tsp
  • Coriander powder – ½ tsp
  • Cardamom powder – ¼ tsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Almond paste (or Cashew paste) – ¼ cup
  • Cream – ¼ cup (optional)
  • Oil – 4 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Mint or cilantro to garnish

Instructions

  • To make almond paste, soak 12 to 15 almonds in boiling water for few minutes. One the almond become little soft, their skin will come off easily. Remove all skin and make a smooth paste of the almonds using as little water as possible. [You can replace almond paste with cashew paste made in a similar way.]
  • If using store bought paneer, simmer them for couple of minutes in boiling water. I do this step as it makes the cottage cheese quite soft. After two mintes, drain the water out and set them aside.
  • In a skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil. Once the oil is hot, temper it with cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Stir them till they are fragrant.
  • Add the grated ginger and garlic stirring continuously since garlic tends to burn very easily. Tip in the chopped onion and green chilies. Sauté till the onion turns soft and golden brown.
  • Now transfer this mixture to a blender and blend it to a smooth paste.
  • Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in the same skillet and add the onion paste. Cook till oil separates.
  • Now add the almond paste and stir to mix well.
  • Add the tomato puree and sprinkle some salt along with all the powdered spices – turmeric, cumin, coriander and cardamom powder. Cook until the raw smell of tomato puree disappears for around 10 minutes.
  • Drop in the paneer cubes and stir gently so that the cheese cubes are coated well with the spice mixture. In case the gravy turns too dry add half a cup of water and give a gentle stir.
  • Let it simmer for 5 minutes so that the paneer absorbs all the flavors from the aromatic spices.
  • If you want to use cream, then add it now under low heat and mix well. [Never add cream under high heat as it may curdle the cream.]
  • Once the gravy has the desired consistency, remove from heat. Garnish with mint leaves and serve hot with roti or naan.

Shahi Paneer

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Garlicy Paneer Tikka... {Recipe #2 of Paneer Series}

Garlicy Paneer Tikka

Time for my second recipe in the Paneer/Cottage Cheese series and with this recipe my blog has touched its first milestone – the 100th post of my blog! I am way too happy and would like to share this moment of joy with all my readers. Thanks to all of you I have kept my blog running and hope to do so for a long, long time.

Garlicy Paneer Tikka


Today I am sharing an old recipe which I had made during the early days of my oven-cooking. I had no idea how these garlicy tikkas would come out before taking the first bite. Oh man! These literally just knocked me out! I had actually skipped my dinner to have these mind-blowing tikkas to my heart’s content even though I am not a paneer lover. The cheese cubes marry the strong garlic taste too well to describe. Even if you do not like garlic much, I would still encourage you to give it a try – you won’t regret!

GARLICY PANEER TIKKA

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Paneer (cottage cheese) – 850 grams, cut into 1½ inch cubes
  • Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
  • Tandoori masala powder – 2 tbsp
  • Hung yogurt – 300 gms
  • Cream – 3 & ½ tbsp
  • Garlic – 5-6 cloves, chopped
  • Green chili – 1, chopped
  • Fresh coriander leaves – 2 tablespoons, chopped
  • Red chili powder – 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder - ½ tbsp
  • Garam masala powder – 1 & ½ tbsp
  • Carom seeds (ajwain) powder – 1 tbsp
  • Chaat masala – 1 tbsp
  • Roasted chana dal powder – 4 tbsp
  • Vinegar – 1 tbsp
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Slit the cottage cheese cubes through the middle without cutting till the end.
  • Mix one tablespoon of the garlic paste and tandoori masala in a small bowl. Stuff this mixture into the slits of the cottage cheese cubes with your fingers. Set aside.
  • Mix together the yogurt, cream, remaining garlic paste, the chopped garlic, green chili, fresh coriander, salt, chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, carom seed powder, chaat masala, roasted gram flour, vinegar and oil in a bowl.
  • Soak the stuffed cottage cheese in this marinade and set aside for around two hours in a refrigerator.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C. Thread the cottage cheese cubes one inch apart onto the skewers.
  • Cook them in the preheated oven for eight to ten minutes. Serve hot with salad and green chutney.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kadhai Paneer... {Recipe #1 of Paneer Series}

Kadhai Paneer

I have had Mediterranean food in India but when I had the authentic version in Greece I realized that ours are highly Indianized to suit our taste bud! I loved the authentic Greek food which compliments their beautiful country and I have remained always confused to decide which one is better – their food or their beautiful islands. What do you think?


During my stay in Greece, I also realized that it may be little difficult for pure vegetarian Indians to have a satisfied meal while eating out and more so because most of us are not yet too comfortable having salad lunch or dinner. In typical Indian cuisine, salads are considered as an accompaniment and not as a meal in a whole.

Kadhai Paneer

When I realized this, it also struck me that my blog is also majorly dominated by non-vegetarian recipes as me and my entire family is way too fond of all non-veg delicacies. But it’s of course not fair. Indian cuisine is full of amazing arrays of vegetarian delights and I have made it a point to make and share those recipes here. This will not only diversify my collection, but also I won’t feel shy anymore to recommend my blog to a vegetarian friend of mine!

To start with, I decided to do a series of recipes with cottage cheese (or paneer as we like to call it) since it is one of the main ingredients of our vegetarian palate. I am starting with Kadhai Panner today which is a rich aromatic dish flavored with many Indian spices and pair best with butter naan or vegetable pulao.

Kadhai Paneer

KADHAI PANEER

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Cloves – 2
  • Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Black pepper corns – 4 to 5
  • Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Green cardamoms – 4 to 5
  • Paneer (Cottage Cheese) – 250 gms
  • Onions – 2, large, sliced
  • Tomato – 1, large, chopped
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Capsicum – 1, diced
  • Baby onions – a handful, cubed
  • Butter – 1 tbsp
  • Green chilies – 2, cut lengthwise (optional)
  • Dry mango Powder – ½ tsp
  • Ginger paste – 1 tsp
  • Garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Cut the paneer into 1 inch cubes. I generally simmer them in boiling water for a minute or two as this makes the paneer quite soft. You may or may not do this step. Set them aside.
  • Heat a frying pan without any oil and dry roast the whole spices - coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, cardamoms and pepper corns for about a minute.
  • Open the cardamom pods and let only the seeds remain in the mixture. Let the mixture cool and then grind them to a fine powder.
  • Heat some oil in a skillet and add the onions to it. Once the onions turn brown, add the tomatoes and cook till they turn soft.
  • Add salt to taste and mix everything well. Add the ground spice mix and stir to mix well.
  • Transfer the onion-spice mixture to a deep bowl and using a hand blender blend it to a smooth paste or alternatively you can put the content in a blender and puree it. Add little water if needed.
  • Add raw mango powder and give it another whizz.
  • In the same skillet, put butter and add ginger and garlic paste to it. Mix ginger and garlic well before the butter melts. If you are using green chilies, add them now and sauté it with the paste.
  • Add the shelled baby onions and cook them for about 2 mins. Tip in the diced capsicum and add the masala paste once the onions have turned translucent.
  • Cook everything for a min and add water to it. Stir and let it boil.
  • Add the paneer cubes, toss them up and mix well with everything. Add salt and coriander leaves to it and mix well.
  • The kadhai paneer is ready to be served hot with roti/parantha.