Tandoori chicken

For once we thought we’d go the Indian way with the classic Tandoori chicken. But I wasn’t sure about how close we could get to the real deal. Obvious reason being we’d use the OTG and not the ‘tandoor’. Anyhow, the results were fantastic. Juicy, succulent and tender chicken grilled in the oven to sheer perfection. Minimum use of oil (like ½ tsp per piece) and no food coloring at all, this was a guilt-free pleasure.
Ingredients:
½ kg chicken
½ cup curd
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala powder
2 tsp red chilli powder (alter to achieve desired ‘hotness’)
2 tsp cumin powder
1 large lemon
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
Oil – ½ – 1 tsp per piece
Method:
The trick to get all the spices into the chicken and to make it as tender as possible is to marinate the chicken in the above mentioned ingredients for 6 hours or more. We were supposed to serve the chicken for lunch, therefore drenched it the marinade for like an hour or so and went shopping (for groceries). We did get a little carried away and lost track of time. That’s how the chicken sat in the fridge marinating for another 7-8 hours. It was meant to be!
So after the poor bird has had its share of spices forced into it, pre-heat the oven to 200C and let the chicken sit out at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. Using the grill accessory of the oven, place the chicken pieces of equal sizes gently on the greased grill and pop it into the oven and bake for 30 minutes on each side at 180C, greasing it with 1/2 – 1 tsp oil. After which turn up the heat a notch (225C) and place the grill on the top most level of the oven for about 7-8 minutes. This is just to get a nice char grilled color (if that’s a thing) on the chicken. Take it off and serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side. Tip: Place a tray below the grill in the oven when the chicken is in there, to collect the juices dripping. Else you’d be scrubbing your oven forever!

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Strawberry Shortcake

This was a demand from a very good friend. I hadn’t even eaten shortcake before myself. But ever since she’d asked for it, I was curious to bake this. Turns out it’s really easy to bake and what’s even better is that it tastes so good! Light and airy, yet so decadent (well that depends on what you serve it with). You can simply bake the shortcake and serve it with anything. I chose strawberries and cream (had to stick to the demand you see). You could try other berries or even mango or caramelized bananas even. This one’s for you Ree!

Ingredients for shortcake:
2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
1 large egg slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup fresh cream
Pinch of salt
Egg wash:
1 egg beaten
2 tbsp cream
Filling:
1 cup chopped strawberries
¼ cup sugar (this will depend on the tartness of the berries)
½ cup cream (whipped)
Method:
In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Cut the butter into small pieces and mix with the flour till it looks like coarse bread crumbs. Now add the egg, cream and vanilla. Mix till it all comes together and then knead it for a few minutes till it forms a smooth dough. Now roll out the dough on a clean, floured surface to 1 inch thickness. Cut out round shapes of dough and place on butter paper lined baking tray. Brush with egg wash and bake for 15 minutes in your pre-heated oven in 200C, or until the top is golden brown and the centre is cooked.
In the meantime, mix the strawberries with the sugar and let it sit in room temperature for about an hour. Cut the shortcake horizontally. Top the bottom half with the strawberries and its syrup (which is amazing by itself) and top that with some whipped cream. Cover with the top half of the shortcake and serve. Consume immediately otherwise it might disappear from your plate. That is if you aren’t alone. Otherwise it’s simply spooky!

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Chocolate Mug Cake

This was totally accidental and we loved it. I had some cooking chocolate I wanted to finish it (surprised I even had some). The thing is you really can’t go wrong with chocolate, butter, eggs and sugar. But yes, the proportions have to be right. Else you’d end up with scrambled chocolate eggs (no its not a good idea!). Do try this at home. Very easy, very tasty. Know the ‘Dairy milk Silk’ commercial? Yeah that was us towards the end of the pot of molten gooey-chocolaty goodness. Ok I’ll stop.
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Bread

Whenever I walk past a bakery, particularly the smaller ones in the neighborhood, my pace slows down a tad just so I could take a whiff of freshly baked bread. Such a comfort. Call me weird but it just feels like a big warm hug. So now I wanted that in my house. I’ve been baking for a while now. Lots of cakes, pies, brownies, and the likes, but never bread. This is no fancy recipe. It’s from the recipe book that came with the oven.
Ingredients:
250 gm flour
1 tbsp yeast
150 ml warm water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
Method:
Take 2 tbsp of the warm water and mix the yeast and sugar in it. Keep aside for 10 minutes. In another big mixing bowl sieve in the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and mix till it forms a dough. Now put this on your (clean) kitchen counter and knead well for about 10 minutes. You will find this very therapeutic. Now cover it with a damp muslin cloth and leave it to prove (rise) for about an hour. After an hour take off the cloth and knock back the dough and knead again for a couple of minutes. You can shape it however you like or just make a long loaf and place it on your baking tray or loaf tin and set aside to prove again for another hour (I know!). In your pre-heated oven, bake for 30 minutes in 200 C. You can sprinkle sesame seeds like I did.
There you go. Your very own loaf of bread 🙂
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Chocolate chunk blueberry cookies

I love chocolate chip cookies. But the chocolate chips are so tiny, my brain doesn’t comprehend that it is in fact chocolate. So I decided whenever I get down to baking these I’d add chunks of chocolate and not itsy bitsy chocolate chips. And well, the blueberries you ask? I just have to use them somewhere!

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar (you can use either completely brown or white sugar)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cup chocolate chunks
1 cup dried blueberries (optional)
Method:
Mix the flour, salt and baking soda together. In another bowl whisk the butter/margarine with the sugars together till light and fluffy. Add the egg and the egg yolk and mix well. Add vanilla and mix. Slowly add the flour mix to it and fold gently. Don’t over mix. Stir in the chocolate and blueberries. Make balls from the dough as the size of golf balls maybe (I can’t measure these things) and place them on the baking tray lined with butter paper (to make things easier of course). Bake in your pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes in 180 C. Serve with a warm glass of milk or coffee. I usually don’t bother with either 😉

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Chocolate Pudding

This must be every chocoholic’s comfort food. Late night, long after dinner, when all you need is a good movie on the television and a quilt to snuggle in, chocolate pudding is what you need in your hands. It’s so easy to whip up and all you need is what you already must have in your kitchen pantry. You can also serve this with some strawberries. Goes perfectly.
Ingredients:
¾ cup sugar
3 tbsp corn flour
1/3 cup coco powder
A pinch of salt
2 ½ cups milk
½ cup cream
4 egg yolks
½ cup cooking chocolate (chopped)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter at room temperature
Method:
Using double boiler method (steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water) brings together coco powder, corn flour, sugar and salt. Whisk in ½ cup of the milk and cook till you have a thick paste. Add the yolks one at a time so it doesn’t scramble. Set aside. Now boil the remaining milk and cream. Let the temperature come down a little and then you can mix this into the egg and coco mixture slowly, whisking all the while to make it smooth. Now cook this entire mixture in a saucepan for about 5 minutes till the consistency is really thick. Remove from heat and strain in case you find lumps. Finally add the vanilla and the chocolate. Pour into serving bowls. It can be served warm as well as chilled. Any which way make sure you cover with cling film so it doesn’t form skin (you would want it, would you?).
I’d not eat this in front of anyone. Trust me it is NOT elegant when you’re licking the bowl in the end.
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Blackberry Cobbler

Now it was the blackberries’ turn to surrender. Blackberry, such an ugly fruit yet so delicious. Blackberry cobbler. So easy, I could bake this in my sleep. This is definitely one of my favorite baked dessert. By the end of it, we were scraping the bottom of the pan to savor the last bits. It does look similar to the blueberry buckle I made earlier, but the taste is anything but similar. Blackberries are more tart and sweeter than blueberries.
Ingredients:
1 cup flour (sifted)
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
½ cup melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 tbsp sugar (to sprinkle over blackberries)
Method:
Mix sugar, flour, baking powder and milk together. Add milk and whisk. Now add the melted butter and mix well. Butter your baking dish. Pour batter, tip the blackberries evenly over the batter. Sprinkle the 2 tbsp sugar over this. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 50-60 minutes in 180C.
Serve it warm/hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The tanginess of the berries and the creaminess of the ice cream…it’s something else!
PS: if you have friends coming over from the US or any place else, ask them to get these kind of berries instead of the usual chocolates and perfumes fair. I’m waiting for raspberries!
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Blueberry buckle

This time around I got my hands on fresh blueberries and blackberries (courtesy, USA return Mr.Rao). My first time tasting fresh blueberries, wasn’t as much as I’d built it up in my head. Nevertheless, I had to bake something. Instinctively I thought of a simple sponge with blueberries. Didn’t seem enough though, so I looked up some blueberry desserts online (girl’s gotta bake, people). I found something very similar to what I had in mind, but with a streusel topping. Streusel is a buttery crumbly topping you’d find on pies and certain cakes. You can try this even with strawberries I suppose. In a nutshell, I was going to bake a Blueberry Buckle!
Ingredients
Streusel topping:
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup chilled butter
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
Cake batter:
1 cup sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup butter (room temp)
1 cup sugar (powdered to make life easier)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup warm milk
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
Method:
For the streusel, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and using a fork mash the chilled butter till it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Keep aside.
For the cake batter, combine the dry ingredients and keep aside. With your hand blender or even a fork, cream the butter till fluffy. Add the sugar and cream it till well combined and fluffy. Now add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Now add the flour mixture and milk alternatively and fold it into the butter mixture, without whisking or ever beating it.
Pour the cake batter into a greased baking tin (8 inch) and smoothen the top with a spatula. Tip the blueberries evenly across the batter. Top it with the streusel and bake for 50 minutes or till the top is nice and brown in color. Make sure you do the tooth pick test. If it comes out clean you know what to do. Take it out and let it cool.
Serving …must: Warm/hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, please!
I have some in the fridge I need to polish it off clean 😉
PS: I am going to bombard the blog with more dessert recipes. Kindly put up with my sweet tooth. I have to cater to its needs from time to time.
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Xian

First of all thanks a lot Karthik for inviting us for lunch over to Xian. We discovered one of the best spare ribs in the city.
Xian is located near the Ulsoor Lake. You might just drive pass it as because it has no flashy sign with the restaurant’s name. We assume that the interiors are on the cusp of completion, however that fantastic ginormous yin-yang on the ceiling, didn’t go unnoticed. The abundance of natural light just made it pleasant.
We started off with an array of starters: Spare ribs, chilli prawn balls, bacon wrapped prawns and crispy spinach with vegetables. The spare ribs like…stole the show! We aren’t big fans of the fat part of pork, but talk about being cooked to perfection. The meat just separated from the bone with one effortless stroke of the fork. It was tender, juicy and succulent. The sauce of the ribs could be served as a dip to turn any boring finger food yum! Well we held a mini conference over the last piece of ribs at the table. Moving on to the main course, we went for the Malaysian flat noodles with mixed meat, pickled prawn in black bean sauce, shredded lamb, Thai red curry with steam rice and sliced pork in char siu sauce. Yet again the pig stole the show. We guess Xian knows how to cook their pork and come up with lip smacking sauce to go with it. The Thai curry was another favorite at the table. There was a perfect balance of coconut milk and the spices. It was impressive to see ingredients like galangal and kaffir lime leaves to bring out the best flavors.
The crispy spinach with vegetables and pickled prawn in black bean sauce weren’t memorable. Basically, the flour over powered the taste of the spinach and the corn starch was just too evident in the black bean sauce. But the most disappointing of the lot were the chilli prawn balls and bacon wrapped prawns. The coating of the corn starch was used excessively for both these dishes that it made them chewy and heavy. The chillies in the prawn balls were over powering and were hard to go down. The flavor of bacon was totally lost in the bacon wrapped prawns. We definitely recommend any of the pork dishes, especially the spare ribs and the Thai red curry. And as someone said, good company always enhances the taste of food 😉 thanks Karthik, Snigdha and Sreeja.

Thai red curry(chicken)

Pickled prawns in black bean sauce

Sliced pork in Char Siu sauce

Malaysian flat noodles with mixed meat

Shredded Lamb


Spare Ribs


Chilli prawn balls


Crispy spinach with vegetables


Bacon wrapped prawns

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Roast Chicken

We had this picture in our minds, one large roast chicken, well stuffed, a bottle of wine…basically we were in a mood for something fancy yet not much investment of stress. Even while preparing, there wasn’t much thought put into it…lot of learning from accidents this time. So when we were getting our pedicures done, we put down a small list of basic stuff (since our hands were free) of the roast chicken and headed off to the supermarket.
Ingredients:
1 whole chicken (skin on and cleaned)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 teaspoons of dried mixed herbs (oregano, parsley, rosemary and the likes)
2 large onions
1 large pod of garlic
10 cooked baby potatoes
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp of tomato ketchup
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
approx 1 handful of cashew nuts and raisins each
salt to taste
Method:
Marinate the whole bird with balsamic vinegar, mixed herbs and half the pod of garlic chopped. Leave it covered for about 30 minutes.
In the mean time, get on with the stuffing. Sauté the finely chopped onions in hot olive oil till it turns golden brown. Now add the garlic, cashew nuts, raisin, tomato ketchup and soya sauce and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Keep aside.
Now, stuff the chicken with this mix and seal the opening with toothpicks or use a sterilized needle and thread to stitch it up.
Heat butter in a heavy bottom saucepan, preferably non-stick…now place the chicken breast down and cover it for about 10 minutes or till you fork it and realized that it’s done, pour any remaining marinade on the bird. Post 10 minutes, turn over the chicken and let it cook till the skin turns golden brown.
Serving Suggestions:
Cream of mushroom soup with garlic bread sticks goes perfectly well with this deadly dish. Also, good old mashed potatoes on the side of the chicken and steamed / grilled veggies (carrot, peas, baby potatoes). So what we did was, we enjoyed the steamed veggies with caramelized onions with red wine. We poured ourselves a nice glass of Jacob’s Creek Vintage Merlot.
This was just how we wanted a tiresome day to end, and it was healthy! 🙂
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