Friday, September 2, 2016

Bolognese sauce

Bolognese Sauce 

There are some ordinary days which become really special with just about some ordinary activities. Sometimes its a long walk among the oak trees, sometimes its meeting a girlfriend over coffee which turns into a 4 hour chat session and then there are days when you make a classic roasted chicken or make bolognese sauce from scratch like today.

I followed 's recipe and boy oh boy do I  recommend it. You do need a good 3 hours to make the sauce but its totally worth it.

Ingredients required

500gm beef mince (I used extra lean beef because I am kind of trying to eat healthy but I recommend the normal mince since a bit of fat adds a lot more flavour)
1 kg ripe tomatoes blanced and made into a paste
1 small carrot
1 stick of celery
1 small onion
1 leaf of fresh rosemary
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt as per taste
Freshly ground black pepper as per taste
100ml red wine

Start by making sure your meat is absolutely defrosted if you have frozen the mincemeat from before. Its best to buy fresh mince the day you make the sauce.
Finely mince the carrot , onion and celery
Heat the oil and saute the finely minced carrot, celery and onion on low heat till its golden brown. Add the beef mince and saute till it browns and then add salt, freshly crushed pepper and the wine. Cook till the wine evaporates and then add the tomatoes and cook on low heat for 2.5 hours to 3 hours.

This sauce can be used for a number of dishes. Enjoy over some freshly cooked spaghetti or make a lasagna.

With a vegetarian husband I used a portion for myself to enjoy with wholewheat spaghetti and froze the rest to make a lasagna in the future.

P.S. When searching for recipes I found that most Italian ones use bacon fat along with olive oil but I skipped it to make it healthy but I would highly recommend using it since we all know a little fat adds a lot of flavour. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Chili Mustard Chicken

Chili Mustard Chicken 

Meeting the right kind of people makes you confident, it makes you strive for betterment and you learn so much more than you had expected to. Meeting the wrong kind of people can have the exact opposite effect. The right kind of people have indirectly inspired me to start my own sourdough starter , open up my mind, experiment and be happy.

I blog because thats the way I express myself. I try to hold on to the fleeting moments of joy and pen them down, most of the times I fail but the strange thing is every time I haphazardly look up a post written long ago I remember every moment of the day, my feelings what led me to write the post.

During my initial days of blogging I was stunned with what I had experienced. A world where photographs rule over the very essence of food. Dont get me wrong I love good photographs but this insane obsession with photographing over learning about food made me feel alone till I met the right group of people whose interest in food transcends beyond fabulous photographs. Some of them take beautiful photographs but the main subject is all about food.

I had , well I still have a basic point and shoot camera which my husband forced me to buy and recently I cannot even find its chord to download the photographs to my computer.

Anyway the joys of seeing that my 2 month old neglected starter is alive completely makes up for the loss of the cord.

So I made a caramelized onion and black pepper sourdough bread. I am  a novice when it comes to sourdough bread so if you want to make your own sourdough bread I suggest you look up the internet. There are plenty of posts which would guide you in the right direction.

Then I thought I needed something to go with my bread. Ideally I would have preferred a dry spicy mutton dish but since we had mutton just last Saturday I went with what I call a mild fiery mustard chili chicken.

Its one of the most basic recipes, minimum ingredients and a quick fix. Where did I learn it, ah well nowhere it draws heavily from the Bengali style of cooking

Anyway it serves 2

You need :-
450gm chicken chopped in medium sized pieces  (preferably thing and leg pieces )
2 to 3 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
10 to 12 green chili (the hot variant is what I used)
A pinch of black cumin seeds aka nigella seeds
Salt as per taste
2 tbsp mustard oil

Make a smooth paste of mustard and green chili with water  .Heat the mustard oil, when the foam appears add the nigella seeds and when they splutter add the chicken and seal the juices and lower heat. Strain the mustard and chili mixture and add it tot he chicken. The best way is to add a bit of water and extract all of it . Straining is a must else the gravy turns bitter. Simmer on lowest heat possible for 10 minutes and serve with hot steaming rice or in my case some rustic homemade sourdough caramelized sourdough bread.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Chocolate Ganache Cake 

In the past few months every time I sit down to write a post I inevitably end up questioning myself if its worth it to blog than do something else. The last time I sat down I was in one of the most beautiful towns that I have ever been in my life. A quaint little University town in the Western Cape of South Africa but then I looked out the glass window and I wanted to take a long walk and I did exactly that.

Frankly speaking in a world where photograph trumps everything else in the world of blogging at times I feel a bit discouraged to blog. Truth is I cook and bake. I cannot feign interest in photography plus honestly I enjoy the part where I plan, shop , cook and serve. 

Freshly brewed coffee, long walks , a well made pastry and by that I mean a filling of fresh cream (not the non dairy nonsene) have always been sources of constant joy for me and recently a pack of Dunhill or Marlboro makes my day with some strong coffee. 

Ideally when I am happy and cook a dish I mostly forget to click pictures but in Kolkata there is hardly anything else to do than work, read and click pictures of the dishes which I make. Long walks are out of the question what with the terrible heat, overpopulated streets and the high level of pollution. There are no mountains to drive off to and the orange red autumn leaves make me miss Stellenbosch pretty bad. 

Then I remembered this chocolate cake and a promise made to myself and I cheered up a bit. Frankly its one of my favourite chocolate cakes. A pure chocolaty cake for which I follow Larousse's recipe along with some ganache makes it the chocolate cake of my dreams 

To begin with you need a 7 to 8  inch round pan no more no less 

For the cake :-
3 eggs 
125gm caster sugar 
125gm all purpose flour 
150gm dark chocolate (I use 70% dark) 
4 tbsp milk 
125gm butter at room temperature 

For the ganache :-
100gm dark chocolate 
200ml double cream or single cream (In India you dont get double dairy cream so I usually use the one we get with 25% fat) 

Preheat the oven to 180C for 10 minutes. 

Grease and dust your pan with flour. 

Separate the eggs. Heat the milk and chopped chocolate together to form a smooth mixture. Take the yolks and the sugar in a steel bowl and use the bain marie method to gentle heat the yolks and sugar but make sure you dont scramble the eggs all the while whipping them vigorously. It will become pale , light and fluffy. 

Whip the softened butter and chocolate and quickly add the yolk sugar mixture and fold in the flour. Pour it in your prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes to 40 minutes.
Depending on the oven it can even take you upto 60 minutes. So take the cake out at 40 minutes and do the toothpick test. If the toothpick comes out clean you are done else it needs to bake a bit more but keep a sharp eye on the oven so that you dont over-bake the cake. 

Let the cake cool down overnight. 

Using the bain marie method heat the cream, add chopped chocolate and whip till fluffy . Cut the cake horizontally and fill it some of the ganache and then top the cake with the rest of the ganache and serve with coffee. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Coconut Poppy seed Mutton

Coconut Poppy seed Mutton 

The first time I slow cooked mutton was after reading an article where the author spoke to a member of one of India's erstwhile Royal families who harped on the beauty of a meat dish when it is slow cooked. That was it I slow cooked mutton , loved it and stuck to it and then there was this one time where the Cooking gas was delivered a month late than it was supposed to be delivered and the household was in a chaos. So for sometime I tried reducing the time taken for slow cooking by slow cooking in a pressure cooker for half the time and then slow cooking the meat which suited me not too badly but then again I must have not even known that in the corner of my heart I did miss slow cooking meat.

One of the wonderful things about interacting with people who are passionate about food is that sometimes matters related to cooking becomes even more clear to you. I am lucky to be part of a group where we have professional chefs and passionate home cooks interacting with each other and so I once again realized I had to slow cook meat and so I did and now its either slow cooking meat or no cooking meat. The flavour is amazing as is the texture of meat which is neither tough nor over cooked but sticks to its bones and melts in your mouth when you take a bite.

I love the flavour of coconut and spices so I was set on this spice mix from Lucknow which uses Charmagaz ( a blend of 4 seeds) etc but then alas I was out of charmagaz.

Thankfully I met with a friend who was talking about how people in our neighbourng state makes meat curry with Poppy seeds. And I knew exactly how I wanted my meat curry to be.

Marinating the mutton in raw papaya juice lessened the time of cooking by half an hour and in the end we licked our bowls clean with some piping hot rice.

From my personal experience the meat tastes even better if you leave it overnight post cooking where the flavours get absorbed even better and you have a wonderful breakfast or brunch for the next day.

800gm goat meat / lamb meat

For marination :-

1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp raw papaya juice

130gm sliced onions
100gm yogurt

For the spice mix :-

2 tbsp heaped grated coconut
1 tbsp poppy seeds
2 blades of mace
3 green cardamom
1.5 inch cinnamon
4 cloves
4 whole dried Kashmiri Red Chilies
2 fiery hot dried red chili (choose a variant which is hot)

100gm clarified butter

Marinate the meat in raw papaya juice and ginger garlic paste for about 3 hours to 4 hours.

Heat the ghee and fry the sliced onions on low to medium heat till its golden brown. take care not to overbrown it. Add the meat and immediately lower heat to absolute low , cover and cook for 30 minutes. Keep it on low heat throughout.

Now whisk the curd well and add it to the meat and stir continuously till it forms a homogeneous mixture.

Now take the ingredients of the spice mixture and leaving aside the fresh grated coconut dry roast the rest and let it slightly cool down and make a dry mixture, add the coconut and grind further and then keep it aside.

When you have cooked the meat for 1 hour from the time you started cooking it add the spice mixture and salt  and lower heat sprinkle water and cover and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour till the meat is cooked through.

Keep sprinkling water and stirring every 15 minutes.

Once cooked cover and let the meat rest for 15 minutes and serve with hot piping rice

The resting period is crucial for better flavour and texture of meat.