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Forget demanding clients and scary colleagues, there is really nothing more intimidating than a room full of mothers.
Mine, for a start, is a formidable force to reckon with. If you have a problem, she definitely has the solution. But when I embraced motherhood, I discovered the mighty powerhouse of mothering womankind that was Mumsnet.
Who cares if my mother has reared three fine specimens of humankind (yours truly included)? I turned to this fiesty forum on whether belching infrequently would damage baby’s gut lining irrevocably, if formula feeding would destroy baby’s immune system permanently and whether the right angled arch stretch meant I needed to rush to hospital.
So, imagine my terror and awe at being invited to speak at the Mumsnet Blogfest. The topic – Food Blogging: Where’s the Beef? It’s been eight long and wonderful years of blogging after all. During which I’ve gone from tormenting my mother to regretting it gravely. Revenge is best served with sweeties, fed covertly to your kids.
It didn’t take long for the conference panel debate to go from how it all started with that back of a fag packet idea, and the 11 rejections before the book deal to how I navigate the murky waters of brand partnerships (read: paid content).
This for me is particularly sensitive. I guard this site jealously. I don’t advertise here. Or offer guest posts. But on rare occasions, I do consider the odd brand partnership where the outcome could be relevant and interesting to you lovely people.
Patak’s is a case in point. While their jars of sauces reminds me of my early days in the kitchen, their pastes I was sent to trial were more of a revelation for the Chicken Shashlik & Malabar Prawn Curry. The trick to using these is to look closely at the ingredient labels for recipe inspiration, and to add a host of fresh vegetables and herbs to increase the goodness quotient in the end result.
The jar of Rogan Josh paste I used as a marinade for Chicken Shashlik, a juicy, grilled chicken and vegetable kebab, with roots in Mughal days basted generously with a melted lemon butter. The mild curry paste was ideal for a Malabar Prawn Curry, steeped in tomato, curry leaves and whole mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Both made excellent, quick and very lavish weekday meals for the lot of us.
I’m not about to say: “when I was a little girl”. But sometimes life really does come full circle. I’ll take two jars and a night off, thanks.
Dice the thighs into large bite sized chunks and marinade in the Rojan Josh spice paste, ginger and garlic for at least an hour, more if you have the time. If you are using bamboo skewers, now is the time to soak them in water.
Next, chop the onion and deseeded pepper into large pieces, and slice the courgette into 1cm thick slices. Toss them up in a bowl with the juice of half a lemon and salt added to your taste.
Now turn the grill onto 200 degrees centigrade (400 Fahrenheit) and get on with the assembly job. Thread the vegetables and chicken cubes onto the skewers, packing them together so the chicken enjoys the moist goodness of the vegetables as they cook. I did onion, pepper, two chunks of chicken and onwards. If you keep a systen to the threading, the shashliks will look all the prettier when they are done.
Then layer the skewers on a lined baking sheet and grill for 25 minutes, turning carefully a couple of times. Mix the remaining lemon juice with melted butter and use this to baste the chicken when you turn the skewers.
This is lovely served with a squirt of fresh lemon juice and buttered rice. But it could easily be a very healthy weekday dinner, served with a leafy salad.
Malabar Prawn Curry
Toss the prawns in half a teaspoon of salt, the chilli and turmeric powders and leave to sit. Chop the tomato into small pieces. In a wok or kadai, bring the oil to heat on high. When it’s hot, toss in the cumin and mustard seeds, as well as the curry leaves.
As they sizzle up, toss in the ginger and garlic for a few seconds and when they turn golden, the tomato pieces and the mild curry paste. Saute this masala on medium for two minutes and as the tomatoes disintegrate, stir in the coconut milk. If the masala starts getting stuck on the bottom of the wok, then add a tablespoon of warm water to loosen it.
Let the coconut milk gently bubble for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Finally, drop in the prawns, simmering gently for another two minutes until they are cooked through. Add salt to taste and serve with a roti (or two).
“Multitasking” being the mantra for today’s woman, nobody wants to waste their time, resources and effort by experimenting, especially when they are pressed for time, right?
Tell me something… how do you decide whether to try a new recipe? Is it based on the ingredients list or style of cooking or visual impact of the dish, good memories associated with the dish or because it was recommended by somebody whose taste you trust, or by tasting it, or do you go by your instincts?
I’m sure it varies for each person, for example my sister-in-law will try a new recipe, only after tasting it from somewhere else. If she sees a recipe in a magazine or cookbook or even a blog ;) – she wouldn’t try it, but if she happens to taste something and likes it, then she tries it at home.
So what’s your criteria for trying out a new recipe? I’ve seen that people often prefer to try recipes from a trusted source, say like their family, friends or a trusted cookbook author or cookery show host.
For me, it’s a combination of all those things. Though a combination of all those things works, most of the time I decide on a recipe based on ingredients list and style of cooking. But at the end of the day, nothing convinces you to try a recipe, like tasting the dish for real.
Take this Paniyaram. I’ve seen the recipe for Paniyaram in many books, shows, blogs etc; but I used to think, what’s the big deal, it’s just some fried idlis, it can’t be anything more than a “glorified idli”. Well, sneaking a bite from a friend’s plate at a restaurant changed my opinion of it being “just some fried idlis”.
This dish is a great example of what great difference a simple tadka could do to a normal food. It heightens the flavour and takes it to the next level. The wonderful texture of crunchy exterior and spongy inside is worth experimenting. Also, it’s a great way to use up your left over Idli batter. Hope I’ve convinced you enough to try this ;)
Here is the recipe..
Heat oil/ghee in a pan and crackle mustard and urad dal. Add sliced small onion, chopped ginger, green chilli and coconut. Fry it till the onion turns golden brown…
|Chow Chow Poriyal|
|Pepsicola - Image source: https://mehtaworld.wordpress.com|
|Neem Flower Rice - வேப்பம்பூ சாதம்|
|My mum plucking chillies|
|Just harvested carrots|
Spicy pepper chicken curry ~ peas pulao
I love everything about autumn. Dazzling colors, cold nights, the smell of apple spice, pumpkin lattes and drizzly days like the one we have since morning. Its just the right weather to crave for a spicy yet comforting food. So, sipping a cup of hot coffee in my comfy couch I started digging my recipe files trying to decide what to make for lunch and look what I found? A simple spicy and aromatic dish that is sure to comfort your soul on days like this. Serve it with peas pulao or roti, it equally tastes delicious. Here’s how to make it….
Ingredients for the curry: (Serves 2-4 persons)
1 lb boneless chicken – cut into chunks
6-7 tbsps cooking oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 fresh curry leaves
2 bay leaves
3 cloves (lavangalu)
1 ” cinnamon stick (dalchini)
6 green chillies (slit into halves)
1 large onion – finely chopped (about 1 cup of finely chopped onions)
pinch of turmeric
salt to taste
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ fennel seed powder (saunf powder)
3 medium tomatoes (finely chopped)
1 tsp kashmir chilli powder
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper powder
How to :
Ingredients for peas pulao: (Serves 2-4 persons)
1 cup basmati rice
½ cup fresh green peas
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp shahi jeera
2 bay leafs
1 tsp ginger – garlic paste
salt to taste
Paneer kati roll ~ For lunch today
My love for kati roll’s started after tasting the first one in new york city. Chunks of paneer or chicken cooked in spices arranged on a bed of lettuce, and wrapped in warm tortilas/rotis is a delectable feast to the eyes and palate too. Today’s recipe is a quick version of kati roll that is spicy, tangy and sure to tickle your taste buds at the first bite. Here’s how to make it….
Ingredients for the filling : (Makes 2 kati rolls)
1 cup paneer chunks
½ red bell pepper – thinly sliced
½ red onion – thinly slicced
½ cup boiled green peas
1 tbsp cooking oil
salt to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp tomato ketch up
½ tsp red chilli powder (adjust to suit your spice levels)
½ tsp coriander powder
1 tsp shahi paneer masala
pinch of kasoori methi
½ tsp lemon juice
2 tbsps freshly chopped cilantro
Ingredients for the wrap :
2 whole wheat tortillas ( I used fresh store bought ones)
1 cup of shredded lettuce
few thinly sliced red onions
freshly chopped cilantro
How to cook the filling:
Assembling the wrap :
A classic Indian street style spicy sandwich that needs no introduction. But for those who are not familiar, its a sandwich with a spicy filling made with mixed vegetables and spread on a whole wheat toast. Next time if you want to quick fix a picnic lunch or feed a picky kid try this and you’ll be not be surprised if they ask for another serving. Here’s how I make it….
Note: I used fresh vegetables that I picked from our garden but you are free to add in your own veggies of choice.
4 slices whole wheat bread
2 tbsps melter butter (for brushing the bread)
2 tbsps cooking oil
1 small onion – finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper (capsicum) – diced
1 small tomato – diced
1 carrot – diced
5 green chillies – finely chopped (adjust to suit your spice levels)
a few sprigs of cilantro – finely chopped
½ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp chaat masala powder
2 tbsps maggi masala chilli sauce/chatpata sauce
salt to taste
How To make the sandwich:
Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Sandwich
In the midst of making visits to the doctors, juggling with work and taking care of a our little one who is sick at home, I was able to find a few minutes to fix a simple comforting lunch for us with leftovers from the pantry. A grilled cheese sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, red onions and cheese, I must say it was heavenly! After making the sandwiches you will still have left over pesto that can be refrigerated. Now to the recipe…
Ingredients for sun-dried tomato pesto
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
5-6 basil leaves (chopped)
1 clove of garlic – sliced thinly
2 tbsps chopped walnuts
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp black pepper powder
2 tbsps grated parmesan cheese
salt to taste
Ingredients for the sandwich
2 slices Whole Wheat Bread
1 tbsp melted butter (for brushing the bread)
2 slices mozarella cheese
2 tbsps sun-dried tomato pesto
few sliced red onions
How to make the Pesto:
How To make the sandwich:
Pasta with spinach-nut pesto
” Spinach? Yuck! who wants to eat it? ” was my expression at the table everytime it was served. Even popeye failed to convince me that spinach was indeed tasty! Now I try hard to recollect when exactly did I start liking this vegetable that I include in almost anything I can. Today’s lunch was pasta with spinach nut pesto. A flavorful puree of spinach, garlic, nuts and lemon juice tossed with fresh cherry tomatoes, pasta and Voila! you have a healthy delightful dish for anytime whether its lunch, dinner or a picnic. Here’s how I cook it…..
1 cup Whole Wheat Rotini
4 cups water
½ cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
2 tbsps roasted walnuts/pecans or use a mix of both – chopped
1 clove garlic
zest of ½ lemon and squeeze the juice out of it
1 ½ cups spinach – remove the tough stems
5-6 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp black pepper powder
salt to taste
As much as I used to dread settling down to school routine after a long summer break, going back to school has always remained fun. There was something special about new school bags, the fresh smell from the notebook covers and the funky labels on them, new pens, geometry boxes and what not. I guess I’ll never outgrow them! September is lunch box recipes @ mommyscuisine and I would be blogging in a handful of quick and easy to pack lunch recipes that are healthy too. Today’s recipe is wheat rava pongal and here’s how we cook it …………….
1 cup wheat rava
½ cup moong dal (pesarapappu)
2 tbsps cashew nuts (broken to pieces)
1 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp hing (asofetida)
5-6 green chillies (slit into halves ) – adjust according to your spice levels
1″ piece of ginger (grated finely)
5-6 curry leaves
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper powder
4 tbsps ghee (clarified butter)
3.5 cups water
Salt to taste
Note: For recipes like upma, and pongal I always add salt then taste the water. If the water is salty then my dish would have the perfect amount of salt by the time it is cooked.
If you are not using a pressure cooker for this recipe then follow the below steps :
Yoghurt Blueberry Muffins ~ A summer time treat
Our summers are never complete without a trip to the nearest pick your own farms. I picked some fresh blueberries over last weekend and set to make these low fat blueberry muffins using yoghurt. I was a little skeptical while adding yoghurt but was delighted to see them turn out delicious. Lightly sweet and soft these muffins would make a nice accompaniment with your morning coffee or as a dessert. If you are looking for a homemade treat that your kids would love then you gotta try this. Don’t believe me? Try these and you’ll agree with me for sure. Here goes the recipe……..
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 egg (at room temparature)
1 cup plain low fat yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries
Are you one of those who is never tired of collecting recipes? I don’t know about you, but I am one of those who gets excited at recipes in magazine and newspapers even while sitting at the docs office :). With hundreds of recipes piled up everywhere in my bookcase, in the midst of my cookbooks that I have been collecting in years, every once in a while I’d love to sit with a cup of coffee and dig in my treasures, pick one then set to try it out. Such is the case with this banana bread. Moist, not too sweet, and baked to golden with a nutty crunch inside, what else could I ask for on a warm spring day. Wanna try? Then hop on to the recipe…..It’s quick and easy too.
1 ¼ cup All Purpose Flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp nutmeg powder
¾ cup chopped walnuts ( you can use almonds, pecans or any nut of your choice)
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup rolled oats
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 eggs (at room temperature)
½ cup vegetable oil (use melted butter if you prefer the buttery taste. Who wouldn’t love that!)
½ cup plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mashed banana (I used 2 large ripened bananas)
|Urad Dal Bonda (Mysore Bonda) - மைசூர் போண்டா|
Last December when I was pregnant with Ayaan, I had invited few of my friends and their parents (who were visiting them) to dinner. I told aunty that I love chicken and she told me she will make something for me. She had only 1-2 weeks until she returned to India. She was very sweet […]
One of my fav “Nalumani Palaharam” (tea time snacks) while growing up. Though it’s considered as a tea time snack, I used to have it for breakfast and lunch also. During my childhood days, whenever there was a big family get together, Aval Vilayichathu was one of the regular items. Since it can be made in advance and stored, it was always a go to recipe for huge gatherings. It’s always a good snack to have when you’ve a battalion of hungry kids to feed :)
Sometimes I get mails, asking for recipes which can be used for road trips. This dish stays fresh for 2-3 days at room temp, so if you are looking for a snack for your road trips, this is a good one.
Here you go with the recipe…
Dry roast the sesame seeds and keep it aside, In the same pan, heat ghee and fry, roasted gram dal (till you get the roasted smell) and coconut bits (till it turns golden brown) separately…
Add aval and roasted ingredients to the coconut jaggery mixture. Cook on low flame for 3-4 mins, stir continuously. Remove from fire and keep stirring for 2-3 mins. Add crushed cardamom and mix well…
|Badam Kheer - பாதாம் கீர்|