Friday, 7 April 2017

Harissa and garlic smashed potatoes

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Serves 3 as part of side
Charlotte potatoes- 10
Olive oil- 4 tbsp
Harissa paste- 2 tsp
Garlic- 6 pods, peeled and finely chopped
Salt- to taste
Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese- 1/4 cup, finely grated
Chopped parsley- to garnish

Wash and scrub the potatoes and cook them in a pan of boiling water for about 20 minutes or till they are just about fork tender.  
Drain and keep aside.

While the potatoes are boiling, take a small bowl and pour in the olive oil.
Into it add the harissa paste, garlic pods and salt to taste.
Give a thorough mix and keep aside till ready to use.
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Preheat oven grill/broiler to 200C and line a baking tray with kitchen foil.
Generously brush the foil with some of the olive oil (without any garlic bits). You can also use an oil spray if that's more convenient.

Place the potatoes on the tray, a few inches apart and using a potato masher, slightly smash them, without going all the way through, and by retaining the shape. If you mash it too much, the potatoes would break.
Douse or brush the smashed potatoes with the harissa paste and garlic olive oil, making sure there are a few garlic pieces on top of each of the potatoes. Be generous here and use up all the oil, as it adds to the flavour and also helps crisp up the potatoes a bit.

Place under the grill for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Take it out, top the grilled potatoes with the cheese and place it back under the grill for another 3 minutes or so, just until the cheese is melted.
Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped parsley, and serve warm.

Notes: We served this as a side to Roast pork and it was great.
You can use melted butter instead of olive oil for an enhanced taste.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Light brioche burger buns

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Makes 6 medium size burger buns or about 5 large buns (Recipe adapted from here)
Bread flour- 1 1/4 cups + 3 1/2 tbsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Oil- 1 1/2 tbsp
Warm water- 1/2 cup
Whole milk- 1 1/2 tbsp
Active dry yeast- 1 tsp
Sugar- 1 1/4 tbsp
Egg- 1 large
Bread flour- 1 1/4 cups + 3 1/2 tbsp
Oil- 1 1/2 tbsp
Egg white- of one small egg for egg wash, lightly beated
Sesame seeds- around 1 tsp or so
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Into the bowl of a free standing mixer add the flour and salt and rub in the oil with your finger tips so the flour resembles coarse bread crumbs. 
In a separate bowl whisk together the warm water, milk, yeast and sugar.
Beat at egg into it and pour this mix into the flour mix.
Using the dough hook of the mixer, start kneading the dough on medium speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or till the dough comes together. If you are kneading by hand, lightly flour a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes till the dough is no longer sticky.
The dough should not be really sticky, but pliable without the use of more flour.
Oil the same mixing bowl and place the dough into it, spreading some oil on it to prevent drying.
Cover with a kitchen cloth and leave to rise for a minimum of 1.30hrs or till doubled in size.
I preheated my oven to about 40C, turned it off but with the light on and left the dough in there to proof. If proofing in the oven make sure its not more than 50C as forcing the rising will result in a dense, dry bread.

After the dough has risen to double its size, punch it down and scoop out of the bowl (on to a lightly floured surface if needed. I didnt need to use any) on to your kitchen counter.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. (I am a bit mental when it comes to sizes in baking so i actually measured out the portions each weighting approx 78 to 80gms)
Roughly roll each portion, flatten to a thick pancake size and bring the sides together to join in the middle and make a parcel of sorts. Then turn it over and using your palm, cup the ball and roll lightly to form a perfectly round bun.
Place all the buns on a tray lined with baking paper and keep aside to proof for another hour or till the buns have risen.
I placed them back into a warm oven with just the light on.
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When ready to bake, preheat oven to 200C
Brush the tops of the buns with egg white and sprinkle the sesame seeds.
Pour boiling water into a baking dish or any oven proof dish and place on the oven floor. The steam created will ensure soft buns.
Place the tray with the buns on the middle shelf and bake for about 13 to 15 minutes (if they are medium size and for about 20 minutes if large).
Remove from oven once they are done, and transfer on to cooling racks.
Store in a bread bin or wrap in cling film and use as required.

Notes: The recipe can easily be doubled.
The same recipe makes about 8 mini brioche buns
I overdid the egg white a bit too much and i suspect that why the tops browned waay too much. Use sparingly. Even milk would do instead of egg white

Monday, 3 April 2017

Ground coconut chutney (for idli and dosa)

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All my ground coconut woes have been sorted, thanks to the Philips mixer i got back from India this time, much to Ro's protests. I regret not having bought one earlier and suffering the last 9 years with all sorts of blenders from here where it would not grind the coconut to a smooth paste, and i used to hate having small bits floating around my curries. So those contemplating, just don't think twice, do yourself a favour and buy it.

Serves 3 (as a side to idli or dosa)
Desiccated coconut- 1 cup
Onion- 1 tbsp, roughly chopped
Dried red chilli- 1
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tsp
Ginger- 1 tsp, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt- to taste

To temper
Coconut oil- 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Urad dal- 1/2 tsp
Dried red chilli- 1, broken in half
Curry leaves- 5 to 6 leaves
Onion- 1 heaped tbsp, finely chopped

Into a mixer bowl add the coconut, onion, dried red chilli, chilli powder and ginger.
(Add enough water to just cover the coconut. Please don't add a lot of water, as this would make the chutney too watery. That said, if the water is too less then that wont grind the coconut well enough. However, if in doubt, start with smaller quantities of water and then add more if required)
Grind everything together to a smooth paste.
Pour into a serving bowl and keep aside.

In a deep pan or kadai, heat the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds.
Once they start to splutter add the urad dal and stir till it begins to brown a wee bit. Take care not to burn it.
Throw in the dried red chilli and curry leaves followed by chopped onions.
Fry till the onions have turned a golden brown.
Immediately pour over the ground coconut mix and  it would sizzle a bit.
Stir the tadka into the coconut chutney and serve with idli or dosa.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Kerala Kozhi peralan

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There are loads of ways to do the quintessential Kerala chicken peralan (a semi gravy of sorts), but i find this method the easiest. Sure its not a one pot prep, but a really quick one with the aid of pressure cooker. 

Serves 2 as part of main meal (Recipe loosely adapted from The Suriani Kitchen by Lathika George)
Chicken- 500 gms (Bone in pieces. Here I've used chicken thighs)

To marinate
Chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1/2 tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/4 tsp
Ginger garlic paste- 1/2 tsp
Lime juice- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Curry leaves- a sprig

Oil- 2 tbsp
Curry leaves- a sprig
Onion- 1 medium, finely chopped
Garlic- 4 pods, finely chopped
Tomato- 1 small, finely chopped
Thick coconut milk- 1/4 cup
Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/4 tsp
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Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients under the marinate section for about half an hour.
When ready to cook, transfer to a pressure cooker , add a sprig of curry leaves and 1/2 cup water and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. 
You basically pre-cook the chicken till done (its also OK if its not completely cooked, as you can finish off the cooking in the next few steps, but it would help cut down on time significantly if the chicken is fully cooked).
Open the cooker lid once the pressure has released and keep aside. There should be about 1/2+ cup of gravy in the cooker. 

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the curry leaves for a couple of seconds.
Into it add the onion and garlic and continue cooking till the onion has wilted and turns golden brown.
Toss in the tomato and cook till the oils start to surface.
Pour in the gravy from the chicken along with the coconut milk and bring to a good boil. If you do think the gravy is too much, then cook to almost 1/2 a cup and then only add the chicken.
Once it becomes thick, like it coats the back of a spoon consistency, add the cooked chicken and mix it all well. 
Cook for a further 5 to 7 minutes, or till the gravy completely coats the chicken pieces. Keep doing this on medium heat without the gravy getting burnt or stuck to the base of the pan. If you feel the chicken hasn't been completely cooked in the pressure cooker, then of course keep cooking till its done at this point.
Sprinkle the garam masala and freshly ground black pepper, give one final stir, and take it off the heat.
Cover and keep till ready to serve.
This chicken preparation is best with steamed rice, thoran and parippu curry.
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Notes: You can of course do the entire prep in the frying pan without precooking the chicken. Add the chicken after the tomato along cook till done. Then add the coconut milk and cook till the you get the semi gravy consistency. 
This dish doesn't have a lot of gravy and so best had with a gravy accompaniment.
That said, if you did want a little more gravy, then don't dry off almost all of the liquid, but keep enough to use as gravy. You can add more coconut milk also to get a thick gravy.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Super soft dinner rolls

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These rolls are really soft and so easy to make. You'd have most of these in your pantry and even with prooving time, you still can sort this out within 2.30 hrs or so. I decided at around 4pm that i needed to make dinner rolls and these were out of the oven before 7, and just in time for dinner.

Makes 12 rolls (Recipe adapted from here)
Whole milk- 1 cup, warm
Active dry yeast- 1 tbsp
Caster sugar- 2 tbsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Oil- 3 tbsp
Egg- 1, medium
Bread flour- 3 cups (plus 2 or 3 tbsp more)

Egg- 1 ,small beaten (or milk is also fine)
Butter- 1 tbsp, melted
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Into the bowl of a free standing mixer add the warm milk, yeast, sugar, salt, oil and egg. 
Whisk lightly to incorporate it all together.
Add about 2 1/2 cups of flour and using the dough hook attachment for the mixer start kneading on low speed.
Once the initial mixing is done, turn the speed on to medium and add the remaining half of the flour and continue kneading on medium speed for about 5 minutes.
The humidity of the place will determine if you need more flour. In all likeliness you'd need the extra 2 or 3 tbsp of flour to get a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, but take a call and add accordingly.
The dough is on the wetter side, but definitely not sticky, so aim to get a consistency like that. Dust your palms with some flour if needed to tackle the dough.
Oil the same mixing bowl and place the dough into it, spreading some oil on it to prevent drying.
Cover with a kitchen cloth and leave to rise for about an hour and half.
I preheated my oven to 25C, turned it off but with the light on and left the dough in there.

After about an hour or when the dough has risen to double its size, punch it down and scoop out of the bowl (on to a lightly floured surface if needed. I didnt need to use any) on to your kitchen counter.
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. (I am a bit mental when it comes to sizes in baking so i actually measured out the portions each weighting approx 65gms)
Make a smooth ball out each portion and transfer them into a lightly greased baking tray and leave covered for another hour or till doubled in size. I placed them back into a warm oven with just the light on.
They will touch each other when they rise, and that's absolutely fine.
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When ready to bake, preheat oven to 175C.
Brush the tops of each roll with an egg wash or milk wash and bake for 16 minutes. 
Make sure you dont over bake them.
Remove from oven and immediately brush with some melted butter.
Serve warm with some butter on the side

Notes: Cool completely on a cooling rack and store in plastic bags or cling wrap the rolls if using it the next day.
Store at room temperature, but microwave for about 20 seconds on high before using.
You can do the entire kneading process by hand, just make sure you knead till you get the desired non-sticky consistency.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Kerala fish fry

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Serves 2 as part of side dish 
Fish fillets- 350 gms, sliced (around 4 big pieces). I used Basa fillets. King fish or any firm fish would be ideal.
Chilli powder- 3/4th tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Fennel powder- a generous pinch
Ginger garlic paste- 1/2 tbsp
Lime juice- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- enough to shallow fry
Curry leaves- a sprig (optional)
Lemon wedges and sliced onions to serve

Make a paste with all the ingredients except oil.
Add a wee bit of water if required, but make sure its not too loose.
Apply the marinade generously on all the fish slices and keep aside for about 15-20 minutes.

Heat oil in a frying pan and slide in the fish slices, in batches if needed.
Keep the heat on medium and shallow fry, flipping it over after a while.
Once the fish has browned on both sides and cooked well, remove and drain on paper towels.
Don't over cook the fish or it will become hard. 
Throw in some curry leaves while frying for some extra flavour.
Serve with lemon wedges and sliced onions.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Brioche French Toast

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Serves 3 as part of breakfast
Whole milk- 1 cup
Double cream- 1/4 cup
Eggs- 3
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Dark brown sugar- 1/4 cup
Salt- a pinch
Brioche bread- 6, one inch thick slices
Butter- 1 1/2 tbsp

Whisk together the milk, double cream, eggs, vanilla brown sugar and salt in a bowl until well combined.
Arrange the brioche slices in a high rimmed baking tray, without overlapping each other
Pour the milk-egg mix over the bread slices, making sure all the pieces are soaked.
Cover with a cling film and leave in the fridge for about an hour.
Remove after 2 hours and flip the bread slices over, carefully.
Cover with cling film and place back on the fridge for another hour.
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When ready to cook, place a frying pan over medium heat and melt about 1/2 tbsp butter.
Fry the bread slices till they turn golden brown on both sides. 
Do them in batches of 2, as its easier to manage. Make sure you dont burn them. 
After each batch, add more butter, 1/2 tbsp at a time and continue frying.
If you feel the butter is getting burnt, use a kitchen towel to wipe off the burnt butter before proceeding with the next batch.
Dust some icing sugar on top and serve with honey, maple syrup or golden syrup and fruit on the side.
If you would like to try a butterscotch brioche bread pudding, you can find the recipe here

Notes: Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg to the batter for another version.
Soaking the bread till all of the liquid is used up is ideal, but if you are short of time, you can leave it for just half an hour or so just till the bread slices are pretty well soaked.
I fried the bread in my Le Creuset cast iron pan and it worked wonders because of the heat retention.