Welcome to Morocco…Sea Bass curry, cherry tomatoes and olives

“You know what, basil is available in Spar! What say shall we experiment with some Thai?”
“Sounds good, lets get some coconut milk, lemon leaves and some sea bass…this should let us come close to something Thai-ish”

At Spar…all excited we pick up the fish and rush to the veggies section. Another reason for chasing basil is cause we have been hoarding
pine nuts and olive oil ever since one of us had some brilliant pesto pasta. As luck would have it, they had to be out of basil only today! Bloody! Well this isnt gonna stop us from making the Saturday night dinner…scanned the shelves and spotted the best looking cherry tomatoes, leafiest corriander and some fresh organic mint. Morrocan it is!! (you know what, we would like to take a moment and gloat about the fact that we thought on our feet 😛 )

Just to rewind a bit, earliar today we were going through the Moroccan recipies by Ghille Basan. Awwman, the ingredients like cumin, bell pepper, corriander and mint are so familiar to us but the cooking techniques and process are so foreign, it kind of stayed on.

So, Moroccan it is.

10 cherry tomatoes
1 tomato (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 spoon ginger garlic paste
15 large cloves of garlic
8-10 green olives
5 sambhar onions (those bonsai onions)
Handful of mint and coriander
1 tbl spoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 teaspoons of paprika and one of ground cumin

Marinate the the fish in lemon juice, 5 cloves of garlic, paprika, 1 tbl spoon of oilve oil and chopped coriander, cumin powder and salt to taste. Keep aside for about 15 mins. In the mean time, in some hot oil saute the onion, tomato, 5 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of paprika anmeric, for about 5 mins. Bring it to room temp and grind it to a coarse paste.

Now, shallow fry both the sides of the fish till it is cooked. Keep aside.

In about 2 tbls spoons of olive oil, add about 5 chopped garlic cloves, when it changes color, add the cherry tomatoes, shallots and saute till thy e tomatoes are soft. To this add the groud paste add about 2 cups of water, olives, rest of the coriander and bring to a boil. Slide the fish in with some mint and close it wit a lid for at least 5 mins.

Garnish with corriander and serve on a hot bed of rice!!!

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Stuffed peppers and tomatoes.

As usual, we were at the supermarket at the vegetable section, just browsing for the moment. We tumbled on some gorgeous looking peppers, red, green, yellow! They looked so pretty, we had to get them. We also didnt want to just cut’em up, did I mention how pretty they looked? Then followed the idea of stuffing them and the rest just fell into place. Here we go…
1 large green pepper (capsicum)
1 large yellow pepper (capsicum)
2 large ripe firm tomatoes
3 big potatoes, cooked and mashed
1/2 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato
2 cups finely chopped button mushrooms
5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup of pitted olives
1 tb sp mixed herbs
2 cubes of cheese
mozzarella/pizza cheese to go on top of the peppers
salt and pepper for seasoning
Mix the potatoes and sweet potato together with the olives, herbs and cheese. Cook the mushrooms with garlic for 10 minutes.
Tip this into the potato mix. Season it with salt and pepper.
Now cut the tomatoes and peppers (capsicum) horizontally into halves and core them making sure there is no pulp or seeds left. Stuff these with the mix made earlier and grate some mozzarella or pizza cheese. Pop them into your pre-heated oven and let it bake for about 10 minutes at 180 C, or till the pepper and tomato shells are soft and cooked. Take them out and serve hot with bread or eat’em up just the way they are.

We had some cooked sweet potato left, so we stuck it into a skewer and put it on the stove and seasoned it. Great alternative to mashed potato as well. What we also had was leftovers from the stuffing. We broke and egg into it, gave it a nice mix and made a patty, let it cook on the nopn-stick pan and what have we got? Voila! Stuffed hash browns! haha.

Figs with cream and honey:
We found fresh figs just about the time we found those beautiful peppers. We didnt want to cook these either. So we just picked some fresh cream instead. After we cooked dinner that night, I whipped the fresh cream till it turned fluffy and light. Cut the figs in half. Drizzled some honey, dipped it in the whipped cream and savoured every last bit of that juicy li’l fig.

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Prawns with flat mushrooms

So this was a totally impromptu decision after watching Masterchef Australia! This is usually the after affect, but this time I chose to put it to practice…Headed out in the evening towards Spar with the intention of picking up the simplest of ingrediets to cook the simplest and quickest prawn dish. As I was walking through the ‘sauces’ section, there was this whole array to experiment with and their prices allow you to do so…the one that I picked up was a Sweet & Chilli sauce, little did I notice that it read ‘Thai’ underneath in bold. Here is what followed the sauce in my pushcart:
One packet of dehydrated mushrooms
250 gms of frozen and cleaned prawns
One bunch of spring onions
200 gms onions and 100 gms garlic
By the time I was home, I had already planned in my head that this dish would be best served with just plain rice and may be some red wine. I was all set to get started on my quick experiment.
Process: Ground the onions and garlic to a fine paste and throw them into the pan of a generous dollop of butter. Let them turn slightly brownish-goldenish (you know what I mean). To this add finely chopped spring onions, stir them to perfect blend and cover it for a about 2 mins and keep aside. In the mean time empty the packet of dehydrated mushrooms in a vessel of hot water and cover for about 10 mins.
Now in a thaw the frozen prawns and then light fry them in two teaspoons of butter. Add a pinch of salt per your taste. This should take about 5 mins. Now pour in your gravy into the pan, if you feel its a lil to dry, add half a cup of water, the Hydrated mushrooms (I used half a packet in this preparation) and half a cup of the ready made sauce into it and lid it for about 5 mins…well this is now when the magic happens and the flavors totally blend with each other.
In the mean time I already served myself some wine in my favorite big goblet.
So there you go…this was the quickest prawn dish I ever prepared besides just frying them with salt & pepper and soya sauce (telling you thats my all time favorite quick starter).
Suggestions: When the prawns are de-shelled, it just very magically contributes to a very ‘sea food’ kinda flavor. You could also try this dish by not removing the tail of the prawns you pick up. Feel free to experiment with the kinds of ‘ready made sauces’ available in the market…the plain sweet and chilli and chilli garlic should be great too…Mine was just a template for you guys to play around with. Bon apitite!

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Try at home Chicken Pan Fried Noodles

I am probably one of the biggest Chinese cuisine fan alive. The distinct taste remained from the first time I tasted a ‘chicken thick soup’ in a small restaurant called ‘waldorf’ in Calcutta. I was 9 years old. It was a perfect thick chicken stock with some bits of spring onions…i think..(some green crunchy bits were there in the soup). Anyways, since then Chinese it is.
So this time, it was an experimentation with Pan Fried Noodles. Apologies for in the inacurate measurements of the ingredients.
1 large pack of plain noodles, 2 large capsicums, 1 large onion, 250 gms of boneless chicken, 5 garlic pods, 3 large carrots, 2 large green chillies, one small cabbage…chopped, one packet of button mushrooms and a handful of brocolli, 2 large tomatoes, soya sauce, ketchup, corn flour and ajinomoto.
To a heated pan add the chopped garlic pods and chilli. Let them fry till the garlic turns a little soft. In the mean time, slice some large squarish chunks of the carrots, capsicums and tomatoes. Now add the tomatoes, when they are tender enough throw in the capsicum, brocolli, mushrooms and carrots…add some water and lid up for about 10 mins for them to cook.
Simultaneous to this, bring enough water to boil with a dollop of butter. Add the plain noodles to it. Make sure you dont over cook them for them to turn really tender cause after you add the hot sauce, they will continue cooking anyway. After the strands are boiled, strain well and keep aside.
Now add the diced chicken to the already boiled veggies, if you see a scum on top, its just means that they arent well done yet. Now add a generous portion of tomato ketchup, 3 tbl spoons of soya sauce, a good pinch of ajinomoto, salt to taste and lid up for about 15 mins max. When done, fork the chicken pieces to check if they are cooked well. You will have a dark brown sauce boiling happily. Now, since we like our sauce a little thick, we shall add a little cold water to 3 table spoons of corn flour and add it to the sauce. Stir well to get a smooth and heavy sauce. Now throw in the cabbage and some large jullian on onions…they will be the right amount of crunch and cooked combination when you just lid it and take if off of the flame.
To a heated non stick pan, add some butter and place one portion of noodles on it gently. Let the base of the noodles fry without stirring the entire bunch for 2 whole minutes. Scoop the bunch of noodles out of the pan into your serving dish. Now pour the Chicken Sauce over this Pan Fried Noodles. If you have your chop sticks ready…what are you waiting for…enjoy!
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A Chick Brunch..

August 1st. Friendship Day, 2010.
An impromptu brunch brought all the ladies together after quite some time…and yes…over some good cocktails and home made spread of a good English breakfast.
Our fabulous menu included made to order omlettes with a variety of toppings to choose from like salami, sun dried tomatoes, veggies and the likes with herbs to choose from along with some mozerella…toasted bread, vegetarian and meaty pizzas, apple cinnamon muffins, sauted vegetables, sausages, roasted salami, chips and cream cheese dip, green apple lettuce wraps, cut up fruits, beer and other cocktails, tea….yes the list does seem endless…

Green Apple Lettuce Wraps:
Our good pals, Everon and Shwetha who are members of the Food Lovers Club, introduced us to this refreshing easy to make starter. All you need is fresh lettuce, some goat cheese, strips of green apple, drizzle of fruit vinegar, drops of lime juice and a sprinkle of sugar.
Spread the lettuce leaf and neatly place the apple strips. Add the vinegar, lime juice and sugar to it. Now, gentle place a generous pinch of goat cheese on it and wrap it up…and its ready to take a bite off…CRUNCH!

Apple Cinnamon Muffin
Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 milk, 1/4 cup butter, 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 chopped green apple, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder.
Process: Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and salt. Now, add keep adding the flour in batches alternately adding the milk. This gives you a batter, to this add the chopped grenn apple and cinnamon powder. Mix ’em up.
Now pour in the batter, filling 3/4th of your greased muffin tins.
In your pre-heated oven, bake these muffins for 30 mins in 210 C. Tada!!

Chicken Salami Pizza:
Smear a hearty portion of tomato ketchup on your ready made pizza base. Now throw in some thick julliane onions, capsicum, sundried tomatoes, baby corn and pitted olives. Now, place the salami on the veggies, sprinkle herbs of your choice (we used oregano and thyme). Go berserk with mozerella topping. Pop it in your pre heated oven at 220 C for 20 mins or till your crust turns pleasant golden. Enjoy your pizza as you chug some chilled beer!
It was a perfect setting with bustling live counters, too many helping hands, singing along to ‘our’ feel-good bollywood numbers, sipping some citrus cocktails with olives and laughing away to nostalgic stories…all this at Zaanz!…this is how we turned an overcast gloomy Sunday into our Happy sunshine Sunday. Happy Friendship Day chickas…Shwetha, Riya, Ananya, Bhakti, Asha, Dimpz, Everon and Akshu!

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Jerk roast chicken stuffed with cheesy mushrooms..with penne arrabiata

Sunday morning, I rushed to the supermarket (spar) where I make my decisions with regard to cooking, and sometimes other aspects of my life. I love supermarkets! I was in the herbs and spices isle when I came across some new merchandise. Caribbean seasoning and Jerk chicken seasoning. Constant battle in my mind as to which one to choose. I picked up both. I don’t like fights, not even in my head.
Boneless pieces of chicken, Some celery, onions and I was good to go. On my way back, I made a stop at a local vegetable mart. I hadn’t seen such fresh plump tomatoes in a while and the timing was just right for me to pick some up. By then I knew what I wanted to cook. I had the rest of the ingredients at home.

Ingredients for (my) arrabiata sauce:

3 medium tomatoes chopped
1 medium onion chopped
2 tsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp jerk seasoning
salt and pepper for seasoning

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped garlic. Saute till it releases its flavours and aroma. Don’t let it burn. Tip in the onions and saute till it turns transparent. Now the tomatoes go in. Add the tomato puree. Put the lid on and let this cook for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it not to let it burn. Need be add a little extra oil. Add the sugar. Now let this cool and get to room temperature. Churn it into a puree consistency using your hand blender. Your sauce is ready. That’s how easy it is.
Ingredients for Jerk roasted chicken stuffed with cheesy mushrooms:
1 chicken breast boneless and skinless
2 big cloves of garlic chopped
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1 tbsp Jamaican seasoning
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 cup chopped and cooked mushrooms
1 tbsp shredded cheese

Marinate the chicken with the oil, lemon juice and grated zest(skin of the lemon), garlic, salt, pepper and the Jamaican seasoning. Now slice the chicken breast horizontally all through just leaving about an inch in the end. Pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Now flip the chicken open and place mushrooms and the cheese. Close it. Heat a heavy bottomed saucepan preferably non-stick. Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil. Place the chicken and cover the pan. Sprinkle some of the Jamaican seasoning again if you like. Let it cook for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Check for a nice roasted look on the chicken and then flip it to let the other side roast. Again for 2-3 minutes. Surprisingly quick, I know! Me thinks it’s the heavy bottom pan. Otherwise the chicken would burn or not cook through out. Give it a try anyways.
So now get it out and serve it as you like it. What I did was, lay it on a bed of pasta and the arrabiatta sauce and garnished it with some celery leaves. Tadaaa!
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We Love Food…food makes us happy!

Today has been an absolute monochromatic day at work…one of those days when nothing on your screen seems relevant and your clients take a day off and you feel you are better off else where…in such days, the quench for a scrumptious meal is even more…you know there is an urge to make the day productive! I am not sure if its a gift or a disorder, but I just know exactlly what taste my pallet is craving for; I happen to be surfing Donna Hay’s official website too, looking for some budget recipe for my bro’s birthday brunch. I stumbled upon RIBS…and I knew that it is a craving for jack daniel’s pork ribs from tgif.
They serve you with a good portion and a some divine tasting onion rings with an amrit patram (kinda like an abyss) of the JD sauce. Hmmm…so next time you get a chance, please do not forget to try out the right ribs 😉
I had a super chilled out lunch and rushed back for my brief business meeting. For some reason, enjoyed the ribs today even more, guess there is always a way food finds to make your day.

Coming up next is some tried and tasted good chinese dishes…but with a hint of our touch. Have fun!

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Blueberry cheesecake

I had this tin of blueberry fruit filling. I wanted to use it for muffins. But when I saw the picture of a cheesecake topped with the fruit filling, I was tempted to try my hand on a cheesecake. The cheesecakes that I have eaten at various restaurants cafes, have a thick crust with a bite to it and the cheesecake was a spongy sometimes grainy textured so called ‘cream cheese’ filling. Was never a big fan of this kind. And so I thought it’s about time I tried making what I wanted to taste (in my head, the cheesecake had to be smooth and creamy). So here is what I ended up with, and I must say I liked it. I can still improvise, but I did get pretty close.
5 nos. digestive biscuts
4 nos. marie biscuts
4 nos. glucose biscuts
2 tb sp butter (melted)
2 cups hung curd (cream cheese)
1 cup thick fresh cream
3/4 cup sugar (powdered)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tb sp blueberry fruit filling
1 tsp gelatin
Run all the biscuts in the blender till it looks like sand. Tip in the butter and blitz some more. Now put this mix on your pie tin and press the bread crumbs to form a crust. Pop it into the freezer till you get your cream cheese filling. Whip the fresh cream till it forms soft peaks. Mix this into the cream cheese along with the rest of the ingredients.
Soak gelatin in 2 tsp cold water for 30 mins. Use a double boiler and melt the gelatin. Add this into the cream cheese mixture. Pour this mix into the pie tin lined with the biscut crust and let it chill for 5-6 hours or preferably overnight. Remove and top it with a generous amount of blueberry fruit filling. You could subsitute the blueberry filling with fresh mangoes or strawberries. This is a very refreshing dessert on a warm night.
Try to fight the urge of licking the bowl clean of the cream cheese filling 😉
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Cheese at Noir

Cafe Noir, UB city rooftop, Bangalore. Must visit. We had a few American friends in town and they asked for us to take them to a nice French/Italian place for lunch. I didnt think twice before I recommended Cafe Noir. Us girls had been there once for some quiche and coffee kind of thing, Loved it. It’s not the snooty fine dining French restaurant you’d expect it to be. Extremely friendly staff, quick and efficient service even on a weekend, great view and to top it all great food!
I’m actually just back from lunch, a pretty long one mind you, considering our friends who were blown away and declared it the best food they’ve had in Bangalore (well, second best, Citrus buffet brunch being the first).We ordered the cheese platter to begin with and this was the highlight of the lunch, no, make that the entire weekend. Now I may not be able to tell my cheeses apart, but I knew what I ate today was an experience in my mouth.
It was a beautiful platter of all kinds of cheese, some I dont remember, some I can’t pronounce. The ones I can articulate were the ones that turned out to be my favourites. Brie, goat cheese, mozzarella, blue cheese. Ah! dairy-heaven. All we needed was a bottle of Chardonay. Spread some of that blue cheeseon a piece of baguette and enjoy. Even try the brie with a piece of strawberry, feels like sin. We couldn’t stop moaning afer every bite. We tried not to over do it and get ourselves thrown out. But there’s no other way to describe the feeling. I think we stopped speaking for a bit.
I think wine and cheese is not over-rated. It’s fun with your friends and a great expreience on it’s own. Do try it. You’ll make a day of it. Any restaurant, any city, good friends 🙂
Watch this space for desserts at Noir. Coming soon! 😉
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Chicken Quiche

Chicken quiche:I can finally make quiche! My favourite person’s favourite thing in the world, isnt it? Can’t wait to make one for her soon :)This one’s for you Upsie!
150 gm flour
75 gm unsalted frozen butter cut into small peices
1 tb sp salt
3 tb sp ice cold water
3 tsp herbs (I used thyme)
Seive the flour. Add salt. Add the cold butter. Now using a couple of forks mash the butter into the flour till it breaks into smaller peices. Add the thyme. Now use your hands and quickly bring it together without using much pressure. Add the water to help form a dough which should not be too hard or too soft. Let it sit in the fridge for about half an hour. Bring it out and roll it to get 1/4 inch thickness. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut out a big round shape, basically bigger that the rim of you pie tin. Now place it in the greased and dusted pie tin and scrape off the extra dough from the rim. Place a sheet of butter paper in it and fill it with kidney beans or rice or any grains to weigh the butterpaper down. Now bake this in a pre-heated oven for 30 min at 180-190C. This is basically to bake the crust.
250 gm boneless chicken cut into small peices
1 med onion chopped
3 tb sp oil
Salt to taste
3 tb sp mixed herbs
1 tsp pepper
1 cup grated mozzerella cheese
2 eggs
1 cup milk
Heat oil. Add onions. Saute till it turns transparent. Add herbs. Add chicken, pepper and salt. Let this cook till chicken is done, that should be about 10 min. Let it cool. Bring out the baked crust in its tin. Remove the butterpaper with the grains. Arrange a layer of half the cheese at the bottom of the crust. Now add the chicken filling and again top it with the remaining cheese. Beat the 2 eggs into the milk and just before popping it into the oven pour it into the quiche filling. Bake for about 30 min in a pre-heated oven, at 200C, or till it forms a golden brown color on top. Let it cool before you tear it apart.
This makes for a great lunch with a side of steamed veggies and some iced tea maybe. So comforting 🙂
PS: Thank you so much Bhakti for these lovely pictures 🙂
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