Monday, May 31, 2010


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The heat wave doesn't seem like ending this year. One thing that does take a huge beating during extremely hot summer months is the appetite. One thing that I do turn to, during summers is some nice homemade kulfi (milk based ice cream). This year however, I decided to try making some Sorbets.
Sorbets are frozen ice desserts. The name is derived from the Persian word "Sharbat" meaning fruit drink. Sorbets are not be mistaken for ice creams and ice lollies. Ice creams use dairy products which are not there in Sorbets. Ice lollies are just a combination of water and fruit flavoring. Sorbets generally have alcohol or liqueurs added to them. granitas are somewhat identical to Sorbets but differ in the fact that they have ice crystals which make them much crunchier. These ice crystals are not present in Sorbets.
In classical french cuisine (which has 16 courses), Sorbets were a separate course and were served generally to cleanse the palate. Of late they seem to have made a comeback of sorts, with many a restaurants serving Sorbets.
I have listed down three different sorbets, that I have experimented with of late. The aam panna sorbet seems to be a preferred one of mine.

Sapota Sorbet (Chikoo Sorbet)


Chikoo's (Sapota) - 100 gm
Sugar - 150 gm
Lemon Juice - 50 ml
Cold Water - 30 ml
White Wine - 30 ml
Glucose - 20 gm

1. Deseed & Puree the Sapotas in a processor. Pass the puree through a soup strainer.
2. Combine all the ingredients alongwith this Sapota puree in a large bowl.
3. Whisk till all sugar dissolves.
4. If you have an ice-cream machine, churn this mixture and freeze for 10 minutes.
5. If you do not have an ice-cream machine, set in a shallow pan and place in a freezer.
6. Remove from freezer and churn again in a food processor.
7. Freeze till set.
8. To serve, scoop the sorbet and garnish with either a mint leaf or a slice of sapota on the side.

Aam Panna Sorbet


Green Mangoes - 3
Sugar - 4 Tblsp
Black Salt - 1/2 Tsp
Cumin, roasted and powdered - 1/2 Tsp
Red Chili powder - A pinch
Mint leaves, chopped - 1 Tblsp
Water - 1 Cup
Glucose - 2 Tblsp
White Wine - 1 Cup

1. Place the mangoes in a pan with enough water to cover them. Bring them to a boil and simmer for 10 more minutes. Drain the water.
2. Stone and pulp the mangoes. Add this pulp to a food processor and churn till puree is fine.
3. Add all other ingredients to this pulp and whisk well to mix.
4. Set in a shallow pan till firm.
5. Take the set aam panna and churn again in a food processor.
6. Set in a bowl till firm.
7. To serve, scoop out the sorbet and garnish with a mint leaf.

Mango Sorbet

Mangoes - 250 gm
Sugar - 50 gm
Lemon Juice - 30 ml
Glucose - 20 gm
Cold Water - 30 ml
White Wine - 30 ml

1. Stone & Pulp the mangoes. Puree in a food processor. Strain the puree through a strainer.
2. Add all other ingredients to this puree and whisk well to dissolve sugar.
3. Set in a shallow pan and place in a freezer.
6. Remove from freezer and churn again in a food processor.
7. Freeze till set.
8. Scoop the sorbet to serve.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bharwaan Lauki aur Mattar Ki Tarri (Stuffed bottle gourd in peas gravy)

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I ran away from Delhi to escape the heat and went over to Palampur for the week. The heat wave did not spare me there either. It was much much cooler than Delhi and Punjab, but I think they will require some air conditioning too. It was a fulfilling time away from work and good time spent with the family. Over the last few days, we visited a lot of good scenic places and also found time to visit some important religous sites, not to forget the Baijnath temple, which is a Jyotirlinga. Dharamshala and McLeodganj were a disappointment as they were too commercialized.

Coming to this post, I must admit, when I started out with this, I wasn't too sure how it will turn out. Now that it passed the taste test of my better half, and a repeat involving my extended family of aunts and cousins, it is not only a safe bet but also a must try for all those wondering what to cook for the next social evening, unless you don't mind serving the makhani and kadhai stuff.
Stuffed Lauki (bottle gourd) is not a rarity, but a gravy of green peas is surely one. Be a little innovative and play with the stuffing.

Bharwaan Lauki aur Mattar Ki Tarri


Bottle Gourd (Lauki) : 1 (450 gm)

For the Stuffing:

Onions, finely chopped : 1/4 Cup
Garlic, finely chopped: 3 cloves
Ginger, finely chopped : 2 Tsp
Cottage Cheese (Paneer), grated: 75 gm
Potatoes, mashed: 150 gm
Sweet corn: 50 gm
Cheese, grated: 4 Tblsp
Garam Masala: 1 Tsp
Red Chili Powder: 1 Tsp
Raisins: 1 Tblsp
Almonds, finely chopped: 1 Tblsp
Oil: 1 Tblsp
Salt: To Taste

For the Gravy:

Green Peas: 2 Cups
Onions, finely chopped: 1 Cup
Ginger-Garlic Paste - 4 Tsp
Coriander Powder - 2 Tsp
Poppy Seed Paste (Khus Khus paste): 2 Tsp
Green Chili Paste - 1 Tsp
White Pepper Powder: 2 Tsp
Cinnamon: 1"
Kasoori Methi: 2 Tsp
Salt: To Taste
Oil: 4 Tsp
Cream: 2 Tblsp

For Garnish:

Amchur Powder (Dried Mango Powder) : 1 Tsp


To Prepare the Bottle Gourd:

1. Wash, Peel & cut the ends of the Bottle gourd(lauki).
2. Boil hot water with a tsp of salt, and add the bottle gourd as the water starts to boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain the water.
3. Scoop out the inside pulp of the bottle gourd. Do not discard.
4. Mash the scooped pulp and mix well with mashed potatoes.
5. Heat oil in a pan. Add in the chopped onions.
6. As the onions turn translucent, add in the ginger and garlic. Cook for two minutes.
7. Add in the lauki and potato mixture. Cook for 7 minutes.
8. Add in the paneer and all the spices. Cook till all moisture is gone.
9. Add in the raisins and almonds. Cook for a minute and take off flame.
10. Mix in the grated cheese.
11. Stuff this mixture in the hollowed out lauki (Bottle gourd).
12. Bake the stuffed bottle gourd for 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or till cooked.

To Prepare the Gravy:

13. Heat oil in a pan. Add Cinnamon and as it starts to crackle, add in the onions.
14. Cook till onions turn light golden. Add in the ginger-garlic pastes.
15. Stir fry till mixture turns golden.
16. Add corainder powder (dissolved in 1 Tblsp of water to prevent it from burning). Cook for a minute.
17. Add in the poppy seed paste, green chili paste and salt. Cook till fat starts to leave the sides.
18. Add the green peas, white pepper powder and a cup of water. Cook till peas are done. Add in the kasuri methi 2 minutes before switching off the flame. Stir well.
19. Remove from flame and cool. Puree in a blender.
20. Pass this puree through a soup strainer in a pan.
21. Put the pan back on flame. Reduce, add in the salt and cream. Cook till it almost comes to a boil.

To Arrange:

22. Cut the cooked bottle gourd into 1" thick slices.
23. Pour the gravy over the sliced bottle gourd pieces.
24. Sprinkle some amchur powder on top and Serve hot.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hungarian Shortbread

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I happened to come across this amazing recipe browsing through my collection of cookery magazines. The magazine had been with me for quite some time and I had read it so many times trying to look for something to cook or bake and surprisingly I always overlooked this simple recipe. What caught my eye wasn't its simplicity but the fact that the dough has to be frozen and then grated. This ends up making the shortbread extremely crumbly.

Hungarian Shortbread


Refined Flour - 2 Cups
Baking Powder - 1 Tsp
Salt - A Pinch
Unsalted Butter - 1 Cup
Sugar - 1 Cup
Egg yolks - 2
Mixed fruit jam - 3/4 Cup

1. Sift together all the dry ingredients (except sugar) in one bowl and leave aside.
2. Cream butter using a hand blender. Add in the sugar gradually while continuing to beat.
3. Add in the egg yolks, one at a time and beat till mixture is light and fluffy.
4. Add in the dry ingredients mixture and fold till blended.
5. Transfer the dough to the kitchen counter and work with your hands to form a dough.
6. Divide the dough into 2 balls and cover with plastic wrap.
7. Freeze for 45 minutes to an hour.
8. Take the frozen dough out of the freezer.
9. Grate the first ball of frozen dough (using a cheese grater) directly into a lightly greased springform pan.
10. Even out the grated dough by gently patting it.
11. Spread the jam evenly on this grated dough, leaving a 1/2" border around the edges.
12. Now grate the second ball of frozen dough over the jam layer. Even it out by patting gently.
13. Bake in an oven, heated to 190 degrees celsius, for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
14. Leave to cool in pan, before cutting it out into wedges and serving.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Jewels from Avadh (Part 2) - Lucknowi Dum Pukht Biryani

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When it comes to Biryani lovers, there are two distinct groups that one comes across, the Hyderabadi biryani and the Lucknowi biryani fans. Somewhere in between there are atleast 20-24 different types of biryani's, with their own fan following, but these 2 types rule the palate with the majority in the sub-continent.
The Lucknowi Biryani can be simply defined as a homogeneous blend of different textures, spices and aromas. The Lucknowi biryani is cooked in stock and not water. The Dum Pukht Biryani is the most popular version of the Lucknowi biryani and this is also the biryani that I prefer. For the best Lucknowi Biryani in the capital, you need to eat at the Dum Pukht restaurant at ITC Maurya Sheraton at Dhaula Kuan.
I had this request from JH (quite a long time back) to post the recipe for Lucknowi Biryani and since I was used to having the authentic one at restaurants, I didn't even realize that I had never ever made this one myself. As I got about asking for the recipe from some of the chefs I was still in touch with from my past life as a hotelier, somewhere deep within I felt if I will ever be able to do justice to the delicate balancing of the aromas. After weeks of procrastination, I finally got down to making this one, with my wife and 2 sons as the judges of whether I had passed the test. The result I must say wasn't that bad. It certainly was no match to what the Quereshi family makes, but my creation was a hit atleast in my family. Moreover, I couldn't resist going for seconds and third helpings till it got over.

Other Biryani's on this site :

Hyderabadi Biryani
Khoja Kachi Biryani
Bohri Biryani

Lucknowi Dum Pukht Biryani

Chicken, cut into small pieces - 500 gm
Rice (Basmati) - 2 Cups
Ghee - 5 Tblsp
Chicken Stock - 4 Cups
Onions, finely chopped - 1 Cup
Black Cardamom - 4
Green Cardamom - 3
Black peppercorn - 10
Cinnamon - 2"
Cloves - 8
Fennel seeds - 1 Tsp
Bay Leaf - 2
Kewra Essence - 1/2 Tsp
Gulab ittar - 1/4 Tsp
Milk - 1/4 Cup
Saffron - 4-5 strands
Salt - 1 Tsp

For Marination:
Onion, finely chopped - 1/2 Cup
Ginger, finely chopped - 2 Tblsp
Garlic, finely chopped - 2 Tblsp
Coriander Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Red Chili Powder - 1 Tsp
Cinnamon Powder - 1/4 Tsp
Cloves, ground - 1/4 Tsp
Nutmeg powder - 1/4 Tsp
Lime juice - 1/4 Tsp
Yogurt - 1/2 Cup
Salt - 1/4 Tsp

For Garnish:
Onion, thinly sliced and fried in ghee till they are browned - 1 Cup
Almonds, sliced and fried - 1/4 Cup
Cashews, sliced and fried - 1/4 Cup

1. Boil the stock with the whole spices - Black cardamom, black peppercorn, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds and bay leaf. Let it rest for 20 minutes and then strain.
2. Wash 7 rinse the basmati rice twice in cold water. Soak the basmati rice in water for 30 minutes - 1 hr. Drain.
3. Meanwhile, mix all ingredients for marinade in a processor and make a smooth paste. Add in the chicken pieces and mix well to coat each chicken piece. Let it marinate for upto 5 hours.
4. Heat ghee in a large pan. Add in the rice. Cook for 5-7 minutes or till rice turns opaque white.
5. Crush & add in 2 saffron strands. Add in 4 cups of chicken stock.
6. Bring the rice to a boil, cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Switch off the flame and let the rice rest for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the rice to absorb the moisture.
7. Take another heavy bottomed pan and add ghee. Heat. Add in the chopped onions. Saute till onions turn translucent. Add in the marinated chicken and saute till chicken is done and the gravy has almost dried up.
8. Take an earthernware pot (preferably) which has a lid, to start assembling the biryani. Add in ghee and grease the earthenware pot.
9. Lay a layer of rice. Sprinkle some chicken stock. Add in some of the chicken pieces. Repeat this alternate layering of rice and chicken pieces. Finish with a layer of rice on top. Sprinkle the rest of the chicken stock.
10. Warm the milk with cardamom pods. Crush and add the saffron. Add the Kewra and Gulab ittar.
11. Sprinkle on top of the finished biryani layers.
12. Add in the garnishes.
13. Now cover with a lid and seal the vessel by applying a dough made with wheat flour or flour around the lid, all the way around.
14. Preheat an oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place the biryani in the oven. Let the biryani cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
15. Remove, break seal and serve straight from the pot.

Note: Traditionally Lucknowi biryani is served with boondi raita or Burrani raita (raita made by whisking thick yogurt with garlic juice, powdered onion seeds, shahi zeera and black salt) and papads alongwith traditional pickles.
Firni or Kheer goes very well as a dessert course after the lucknowi biryani.

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