Shrimp Stir Fry With Scallions and Fenugreek Leaves

Cooking with fenugreek leaves-dried or fresh is very popular in India.Infact the typical taste of butter chicken or tandoori chicken is incomplete without dried fenugreek leaves[kasuri methi].Fenugreek seeds are used for tempering lot of dry and wet curries for a typical flavor.Fresh fenugreek leaves are clover shaped and taste slightly bitter [if fully mature].They add a great typical piquant, bitter flavor to curries. You will easily find frozen or fresh fenugreek [methi] leaves in any of the indian store.If looking for a substitute, chopped fresh watercress or celery leaves come close because they also have a biting taste.

Recipe adapted from cookbook, “50 great curries of India”

Ingredients: [Serves 3-4]

  • 14 oz uncooked large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder [adjust to taste]
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 ” fresh ginger shoot, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp oil [sesame/olive or any flavored oil]
  • 2 green chillies [finely chopped]
  • 1 cup chopped scallions,white and green scallion parts,separated
  • 1/4 cup fresh fenugreek leaves,finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped [or parsely]
  • salt to taste

Method:

  • Marinate the cleaned, uncooked shrimp in 1/2 tsp turmeric,1 tbsp fresh lime juice,1 tsp red chilli powder and 1/4 tsp salt for about 15 minutes, refrigerated.
  • Meanwhile,take a wide-mouthed cooking pan/wok/kadhai and put it on low heat.Add the oil along with garlic to the wok and let the oil heat up slowly.The idea is to flavor the oil with garlic.About 3 minutes.
  • Once garlic is crisp,turn up the heat to high and add the white chopped scallions.Saute for about 1 minute and add the chopped ginger and green chillies.
  • Next, add the chopped fenugreek leaves , green scallions along with rest of the turmeric and chilli powder.Saute on high heat for about 2 minutes till leaves start to wilt.
  • Just when about to serve: Add the marinated shrimps [along with the marinade],and cilantro leaves, toss on high heat for about 4 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked.Take care not to over cook the shrimp.Check the salt in the dish at this point and adjust.
  • Squirt some fresh lime juice and serve warm with steamed white rice.

Notes/Tips:

  • Adjust the quantity of fenugreek leaves depending on how bitter they are.
  • To reduce the bitterness of fenugreek leaves, rub whole leaves with little salt and let salt for half n hour, wash the salt away, bitterness will reduce.
  • Another tip which my mom told me was that fenugreek leaves if cooked and left uncovered for 1-2 hours.
  • The cooking time will vary depending upon the size of shrimps that you use.I used large shrimps.

Enjoy!

Kewra Kheer-Aromatic Rice Pudding With Screw Pine Water & Foxnuts

Kewra Jal or Screwpine water is used to flavor a lot indian curries,biryanis,drinks and desserts particularly those which are milk based.It is also used in lot of indian sweets made out of squashes and dried milk.Drinks prepared with Kewra are said to be have a cooling effect on the body during the scorching summer months.Similar to rose-water or orange blossom water, the essence is more concentrated than Kewra water.The essence may be yellowish or transparent in color.

Other than food, if you happen to visit the beach destinations of India, you can indulge in Kewra water bath and spa sessions at many of the resorts and hotels.Perfumes and body lotions containing essential oils made with Kewra are also popular as stimulants to cure headaches and provide general relaxation to body. Ayurveda,the ancient form of medicinal cure with natural products is known to use Kewra for healing joint pains and bone related problems.All in all Kewra is supposed to have cater to those senses of your body which provide calmness to mind and soul.

Talking about “Makhana” or Foxnuts, these are used a lot to make curries and desserts.These are nothing but puffed seeds of the foxnut plant.Some people like to add foxnut seeds to the daily cereal to increase fibre in their diet.In indian cooking, it is widely used as a natural thickener in crushed or powdered forms.When toasted with butter/oil and sprinkled with salt and dried herbs, puffed foxnuts make a great snack with evening tea.Eating a handful of foxnuts daily is considered to strengthen the heart and is very useful in anemia.

Dont get the impression that the rice pudding that I have prepared using all the stuff above is healthy, but it is certainly rich and flavorful.Anyhow, after all that overdose of knowledge, let me come to the recipe which is nothing but “Kheer” or indian rice pudding made by cooking crushed foxnuts and basmati rice with whole milk and flavored with green cardamom powder and kewra water.It is the most luscious and exotic form of dessert for us.Indian kheer is different from the pudding recipes around the world in the sense that it is not egg based.Some people like to add condensed milk to rice pudding for fast thickening, I normally don’t do that and stick to the traditional way of thickening the milk via slow cooking.It is considered auspicious to offer Kheer to God during festivals.I prepared this recipe last week.Below goes the recipe:

Ingredients [Serves 4]

  • 1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 5 cups whole milk [or half n half]
  • 1/4 cup crushed foxnuts [makhana, available at indian stores]
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar [or adjust to taste]
  • 1 tbsp Kerwa water [If using essence put, 1-2 drops only] [Available at indian stores]
  • 1 tsp green cardamom powder
  • handful of golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • For Garnish- chopped almonds, raisins,toasted foxnuts,pinch of cardamom powder, shredded coconut [optional]

Method:

  • Wash the rice under 2-3 streams of water and let soak in 1.5 cups of water for one hour.
  • In a pot with heavy bottom, pour the milk and let come to a boil.Once boiling,reduce the heat to low, drain the rice and tip into the pot.Tip in the crushed foxnuts also along with rice.
  • Cook the milk and rice mixture on low heat for about 30-40 minutes on low heat stirring at intervals, so that the rice does not stick to the bottom.
  • Cook until rice is soft and broken and milk has reduced to about half the quantity and is thick.
  • Add chopped almonds,raisins and cardamom powder and cook for 10 minutes more.
  • Remove from heat and let sit for about 5-8 minutes to cool down a bit.
  • Stir in the granulated sugar and kewra water. Make sure that when you add the sugar the pudding is not very hot.
  • Serve garnished with almonds or any nuts of choice.

Variations:

  • You can use rose water in place of kewra water.
  • This pudding can be prepared with foxnuts only also.

Enjoy!

Indian Tomato Soup With Chilli Cheddar Puff Sticks

Indian Tomato Soup

What I need [Serves 2-3 ]

  • 4 cups roughly chopped tomatoes [any variety which is not very sour]
  • 3 tbsp yellow moong lentils [the secret ingredient]
  • 3 tbsp ghee [clarified butter] or unsalted butter (or olive oil for vegan)
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 fat garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 ” stick cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin seeds [bhuna jeera]
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cups of water/vegetable stock/chicken stock
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder [adjust to taste]
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Fresh lime juice [to taste]
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro,butter/cream for garnish

How I did it : Boil the chopped tomatoes,moong dal and salt with of water/stock till cooked.Once boiled, transfer to a blender or food processor and blend to a smooth consistency.Strain the soup through a soup strainer to remove the tomato skins and seeds.In a medium  pot, melt the ghee and add chopped onions to it.Saute for 5 minutes, till onions are soft.Next, add the grated ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds more.Next add the strained soup mixture, cinnamon, bay leaves, turmeric,roasted cumin seeds,red chilli powder to the pot.Check the salt and add more water/stock depending on the consistency you want your soup.Let the soup come to a boil, lower the heat and simmer on low for 15 minutes.Once cooked, remove from heat and add the sugar & garam masala. Squirt a lemon wedge over the soup,garnish with cilantro and a dollop of butter and serve warm with chilli cheese puffs

or croutons or bread sticks.

Chilli Cheddar Puff Sticks

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder [or paprika]
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 beaten egg, for brushing
  • 1 tsp salt to sprinkle
  • Flour for dusting

How I did it: Preheat the oven to 400F /200 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.On a floured surface, unfold your puff pastry.Brush the puff pastry sheet with egg wash thoroughly.Spinkle red chilli powder and salt over the whole sheet.Now, spread the grated cheese on half of the puff pastry sheet leaving 1″ from the ends and press the cheese down so that it sticks to the surface.Re-brush the left out 1″ with egg wash thoroughly.Fold over the other half of the pastry sheet over the cheese and seal the edges.You can use a fork to pinch the edges.Take a rolling-pin and roll out the pastry slightly.Once rolled out, brush the top with egg wash again.Cut out 18-20 strips of the puff pastry of about 1/2″ width.Twist the strips holding them between your hands. Bake the sticks for 8-10 minutes or until light brown.

Enjoy!

Sending this to Hearth n Soul #35

Fragrant Coconut-Saffron Rice Pilaf With Minty Chicken Balls

 

 

 

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Dont forget to see the notes in the end.

What I need:

For the chicken balls: [Makes 15-18 medium size balls]

  • 1 lb minced chicken [or lamb or beef]
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves,finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
  • Black pepper powder to taste
  • 1 egg [optional]
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt

You can add any spices you like to the meat balls, I kept them simple.

For the pilaf:

  • 1 cup basmati rice, thoroughly washed 2-3 times in a stream of water.
  • 2 cups coconut milk + 1 cup water/chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 8-10 fresh curry leaves
  • Whole spices: 2-3 cloves,1 cinnamon stick,4-5 green cardamom,2 bay leaves+4 dry red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • generous pinch of saffron strands mixed with 1 tbsp warm milk
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil + 2 tbsp canola oil
  • Salt to taste

How I did it:

  • For the chicken balls:In a medium bowl,mix all the ingredients with the minced chicken except salt, cover the bowl with cling film and let it sit for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.You may or may not need egg depending about the if how moist your minced chicken is.
  • After refrigeration, mix in the salt and make small balls with the chicken mince.Set aside.Dont make very big balls because the balls with increase in size once cooked.
  • In a wide-mouthed pot/kadai with a lid, heat the on medium heat.Once heated, add the finely chopped onions to the oil and cook until just turning brown.
  • Next add all the whole spices to the onions and saute for about 2 minutes.Add the curry leaves to next.Be slightly careful when you add curry leaves because they will crackle as soon as they hit oil.
  • Once the curry leaves have crackled, add the coconut milk+water/chicken stock, red chilli & turmeric powder and salt to the utensil and let it come to a boil.

  • Once boiling, add a single chicken ball to and see if it retains its shape.If yes, add the rest of the balls.If the chicken ball start falling apart, you will need to add more binder like cornstarch/eggs to the mince and make balls again.
  • Cook the chicken balls in the coconut milk till they are almost done.An easy way to test this is that when you take out a ball and cut it half way , you will see a little reddish centre.
  • Drain the chicken balls from the coconut milk and set aside.Let the liquid cool to room temperature in the pot.
  • For the Pilaf : Next measure out the liquid in the utensil to ensure the quantity of liquid which your rice type needs to cook.For example, 1 cup of my rice quality cooks in 2.5 cups of water.Add the washed rice to the pot and let the rice soak for at least 2 hours.
  • Once rice has soaked,let the rice cook on medium-high heat, lid on,till 90% cooked.Add the chicken balls and saffron to the rice, give it a gentle stir and let steam until rice is 100% cooked.About 5 minutes.
  • Mint -Cucumber Raita[Yogurt]: Add chopped fresh cucumber and 1 tbsp finely ground fresh mint leaves to 2 cups of plain beaten thick yogurt and season with roasted cumin powder, salt/black salt, red chilli powder as per liking.
  • Serve warm with cucumber & mint yogurt!

Notes:

  • Curry leaves are available in dry or fresh forms at all the indian grocery stores.They add great flavor and aroma to any dish/lentils just like herb.
  • Though coconut oil adds a lot of authentic flavor to rice,but you can completely replace it with any oil u want.I used part of it for flavor.
  • Be very careful of the cooking time once chicken balls have been added to the rice pot.They turn hard in no time.
  • You can use cubed chicken also in place of chicken balls,adjust the cooking time of chicken accordingly.
  • The only flaw I saw in the dish was that the leftover chicken balls became little hard the next day when I reheated them.But rice tasted much better the next day.

Enjoy!

Sending this to Hearth n Soul #34

Strawberry-Ricotta Mousse

 

 

What I need:

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, roughly chopped + more for topping
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice [optional if you have tart strawberries]
  • 2-3 leaves fresh mint leaves + more for garnish
  • 3 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp unflavored granulated gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

How I did it:

  • Pulse the chopped strawberries along with lemon and mint leaves in the processor.Transfer to a bowl, tip in the gelatin and whisk well.Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the cream to thick peakes.This is important coz once you add the crushed strawberry mix,the mixture will loosen out a bit.
  • In another large bowl, beat the ricotta cheese and sugar together until smooth.
  • Gently fold in the whipped cream with the ricotta cheese along with crushed strawberry mix.
  • Transfer the mousse to serving bowls and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to set.
  • Before serving top with chopped strawberries and more whipped cream and few mint leaves.Serve cold.

Enjoy!

Sending this to It’s a keeper.