Coffee Tart

Intensely energizing and extremely refreshing, coffee is by far one of the best thing that has happened to humanity over the centuries. Just a smell of coffee can revive your senses and make you completely stress free and even happy. This recipe of coffee tart just does that. It has the goodness of coffee with its rich and intense flavor and even has the little bitterness that comes with an actual cup of freshly brewed coffee. The filling is smooth and creamy coupled with the sweetness and bitterness of rich coffee with a semi crisp biscuit-butter base. It is a no bake tart and its not adulterated with chocolate or any other flavoring, guaranteed to give you your best dose of caffeine on a stressful day!!

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Ingredients:

  • Coffee powder – 3-4 teaspoons
  • Egg yolks – 2
  • Sugar – 1/2 cups
  • corn starch – 1 1/2 tablespoon
  • milk – Lukewarm, slightly less than 3/4 cup
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
  • gelatin – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Thick Fresh cream – 3-4 teaspoons
  • Digestive biscuits – 1 packet
  • Butter at room temperature – 150g
  • Choco chips/choco flakes/ chocolate shavings

Method:

  1. To make the base, powder the digestive biscuits and blend it well adding the butter until you get a soft mouldable mass.
  2. Grease the bottom of your tart pan with butter and cover it with the powdered biscuit-butter mix. take care to smooth it out evenly using the back of a spoon. Make sure you cover the sides as well leaving enough room in the middle for the filling. Refrigerate this until the filling is ready.
  3. For the filling, first mix sugar with the egg yolks and whisk until it becomes soft and a pale yellow color
  4. Add lukewarm milk to the egg sugar mixture and combine well.
  5. Add cornstarch to the above and mix well.
  6. On a low flame keep stirring the above mixture till it begins to thicken.
  7. After cooling it, add the vanilla extract and coffee powder and mix well.
  8. Fold in the heavy cream and pour it over the biscuit base.
  9. Top it with choco flakes/ choco shaving/choco chip and refrigerate for at least 4 hours

Notes:

  1. Make sure to keep the flame low while heating the mixture and keep stirring otherwise, the mix will get burnt fast and become a lumpy mess. 
  2. I used digestive biscuits for the base, you could try with oreo or even normal baked pie base

 

Chicken Bhuna

A street food which is said to be originated from Bengal, Chicken Bhuna is a side dish where the chicken is cut into small boneless pieces and cooked in a thick tomato based gravy. The dish gets its name from the Urdu word ‘bhunna’ meaning ‘to fry’ and that’s the key  specialty to this recipe; the spices are fried until the aroma mixes into the gravy and the meat is added to these spices and cooked completely in its own juices resulting in a very thick and flavorful gravy. Best paired with rumali rotis or paavs, the Chicken bhuna is definitely a royal treat!

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Ingredients:

  • Boneless chicken  cut into small bite sized pieces.
  • Onions – 3 finely chopped
  • Tomatoes – 2 finely chopped
  • ginger garlic paste – 2 teaspoons
  • Red chilly powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Coriander powder – 2 teaspoons
  • turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Thick yogurt – 2 teaspoons
  • powdered cashews – about 10-12
  • garam masala – 2-3 teaspoons
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 3-4 teaspoons

Method:

  1. In a pan, heat the oil and add finely chopped Onions. Fry well on high flame until the onion turns slightly brown and begins to get fried.
  2. Add the ginger garlic paste and saute well for a few mins.
  3. Add finely chopped tomatoes and saute until tomatoes break down and the gravy gets pulpy.
  4. Add red chilly powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and salt. Keep stirring until the oil begins to come out.
  5.  Turn off the flame, let it cool for about 3-4 mins and add yogurt. continue to stir and turn on the flame back to high.
  6. Add the powdered cashew, stir for few mins and add the chicken pieces.
  7. Add 1/2 cup of water and continue to cook the chicken on high flame.
  8. Cook until all the water evaporates and oil begins to come out.
  9. Turn off the flame and serve hot with rumali rotis or paavs.

Notes:

  1. This dish is entirely prepared on a high flame ensuring that the spices are fried properly. However, keep stirring frequently to avoid burning of the masalas. 
  2. If the chicken is harder and needs more time to cook, keep the flame on medium and once cooked, turn it back to high until gravy thickens. 
  3. Make sure you turn the flame off before adding yogurt because adding yogurt to hot gravy causes it to curdle badly giving it an unappetizing look.
  4. You can add more tomatoes if you like the flavor if it. I prefer to have stronger onion flavor than tomatoes. 

 

Roasted chicken and mixed vegetable salad in Yogurt and mayo dressing

A perfect meal for a lazy Sunday, when you’re not in a mood to do much cooking, nor do you want those extra calories from outside food. Salads could be a complete and satisfying meal on its own or a perfect accompaniment to your main course. The fact that you can pick the veggies that go into your salad and choose the right kind of seasoning to suit your moods is what makes it all the more appetizing to fit anyone’s taste.  There is no end to the variety of salads that you can make, a great way to couple health and taste in a way that suits your imagination and creativity. So what are you waiting for, cut short on those calories and go healthy 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • Boneless chicken pieces
  • Vegetables of your choice
  • Ginger garlic paste – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Olive oil – 2-3 teaspoons
  • Mayonnaise – 3-4 teaspoons
  • Yogurt – 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Herbs of your choice
  • Oregano seasoning
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Salt to taste

Method:

For the dressing:

  1. Add freshly ground pepper, oregano seasoning and herbs of your choice to 2-3 teaspoons of mayo.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of thick yogurt to this and mix well.

Salad:

  1. Marinate the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and leave for 5-10 mins
  2. Heat about a teaspoon of olive oil on a flat pan.
  3. Add half a teaspoon of ginger garlic paste to the heated oil and slightly roast the chicken pieces until soft and brown.
  4. Shred the chicken pieces and add to bowlful of chopped mixed veggies of your choice. I used cucumber, tomato, capsicum, spring onions and red onion. Mix well.
  5.  Add a teaspoon of olive oil, fresh pepper, salt and mix well.
  6. Add the bowl of dressing prepared, mix well and serve.

Notes:

If you’re not too much of a health freak, you could add generous amounts of mayo and skip adding yogurt altogether. 

 

 

Pepper Chicken

Spicy, hot and flavorful, pepper chicken is perfect for a winter day. Every square inch of the dish tastes of pepper and if your taste buds have a special craving for spicy foods, then this is your thing. The fact that this recipe does not use water at all and that the whole chicken is cooked in the moisture of onions and the chicken makes it all the more appetizing. This is also the reason why the flavor of the pepper is so prominent in the preparation.

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken – washed and cleaned
  • Onions – 2 thinly sliced
  • Green chillies – 2 slit
  • Coarsely ground fresh pepper – 4-5 teaspoons
  •  Ginger garlic paste – 2 teaspoons
  • Yogurt – 2 teaspoons
  • turmeric powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Coriander powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • curry leaves
  • Squeeze of a lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil

Method:

  1. Marinate the chicken with a spoon of turmeric powder, 2 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper, yogurt and salt. Leave for half an hour.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add the two slit green chillies and roast.
  3. Splutter some mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves.
  4. Add ginger garlic paste and stir
  5. Add onions, salt and saute until soft and translucent
  6. Add a spoon of turmeric powder, 1/2 a spoon of coriander and 3 teaspoons of fresh ground pepper and stir until the raw smell goes.
  7. Add the chicken and stir well.
  8. Cover and cook for about 20-25 mins stirring occasionally.
  9. Turn off and add a squeeze of a lemon.

Notes:

  1. You can tweak the spiciness of the dish by reducing the amount of pepper powder used and by omitting green chillies altogether. 
  2. You can also use pepper powder, but it isn’t as flavorful as fresh pepper is.

Rawa(Semolina) balls

A quick and easy snack recipe that can be prepared any day with simple ingredients that are always available in your kitchen. The suji/rawa balls are soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. It has a grainy coarse texture because of the semolina and can be considered analogous to a chewy kind of muffin. It has a slight tint of cardamom so it goes perfectly with your evening tea.

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Ingredients:

  • Rawa/suji/semolina – 1 cup
  • Egg – 1
  • Sugar – 3-4 teaspoons
  • Cardamom powder – a pinch
  • Oil

Method:

  1. Beat the egg and add it to 1 cup of rawa. Mix well.
  2. Add sugar and cardamom powder and continue to mix untill soft.
  3. Scoop a small spoonful of the above mixture and pour into hot oil and deep fry.

Notes:

  1. The mix shouldn’t be too runny nor it be too dry. You should be able to scoop it up using a spoon. 
  2. Keep the heat on low-medium or else the balls would burn on the outside and not cook on the inside. 
  3. You could fry these in an unniappam pan to get nicely shaped balls (as in pic) using very little oil(just a drop for one ball). make sure you cover it with a lid and cook it on low flame. 

Tang jelly

Quickest, easiest recipe that I’ve tried. The tang jelly is a homemade yummier version of those jello jellies minus all those preservatives and it tastes exactly like the store bought ones and even yummier. It takes less than 5 mins to prepare and less than 5 secs to gobble down!!

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Ingredients:

  • Tang -3-4 teaspoons
  • Sugar- 3-4 teaspoons
  • Water- 2 glasses
  • Gelatin-2 teaspoons

Method:

  1. Mix sugar, water and tang and stir well to dissolve.
  2. Mix gelatin in cold water and stir well.
  3. Add gelatin mix to the tang prepared in step 1 and heat it until the gelatin dissolves.
  4. Pour into moulds and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Notes:

  1. Add generous amounts of sugar and tang otherwise the jelly will taste bland.

Ambur Chicken Biriyani

Ambur is a small town in Vellore district in Tamil Nadu. It is famous for its super yummy biriyanis and if you happen to take a ride through the town, you’d probably notice there are more biriyani shops there than there are tea stalls!! The Ambur biriyani makes its place into the top 10 must try biriyanis. It is spicy, dum cooked and nevertheless delicious. Unlike most traditional biriyanis, the Ambur biriyani uses oil instead of ghee. The rice is jeera samba unlike most of its counterparts that use basmati. Another factor that makes it distinct from the others is its subte flavour. And the reason for this is the fact that the spices are used in modest quantities and the pungeance is moderated by adding curd. Usually paired with a brinjal curry, Ambur biriyani is a must try for all biriyani lovers.

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken cleaned and washed
  • Oil – 4-5 teaspoons
  • Whole spices
  • Onions – 5
  • Tomatoes – 2
  • Red chilly paste -2 teaspoons
  • Red chilly powder – 3 teaspoons
  • Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder – 1 1/2 teaspoon
  • garam masala – 3 teaspoons
  • Ginger garlic paste – 3 teaspoons
  • Fresh coriander – a handful
  • Fresh mint leaves – a handful
  • Jeera samba rice – 2 1/2 cups washed and soaked
  • Curd – 2 teaspoons
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a big vessel  and add the whole spices
  2. Toss in a handful of onions and ginger garlic paste and saute well for a few mins.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and cook slightly
  4. Add the onions, tomatoes, coriander and mint leaves and saute well for 10-12 mins.
  5. Add the salt, red chilly paste, red chilly powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala and stir until the raw smell goes.
  6. Add 2 teaspoons of curd and mix well.
  7. Add the washed rice and mix well ensure the masala coats the rice really well.
  8. Add double the amount of boiled water (here 5 cups), check for seasoning and cover and cook for about 15-20 mins on low flame. You should ideally seal and dum cook this, but I cooked it on normal stove top with a tight lid.
  9. Serve with brinjal curry or pickle.

Notes:

  1. Some people half cook the rice and chicken separately and then cook both on dum. While this is necessary for mutton, you can avoid that step for chicken. 
  2. Ambur biriyani is usually very spicy, I tweaked the spiciness by adding 2 teaspoons of chilly paste and 2 teaspoons of chilly powder, but if you prefer it spicy, you can use  3-4 teaspoons of chilly paste and avoid the powder. 

Chocolate coated coconut balls

These balls are ‘bounty’ like, and this recipe is especially for all those coconut lovers out there. Each ball is a mouthful of crunchy coconut with a shiny coating of bitter sweet chocolate. If you can never get enough of coconut and go crazy over chocolate, these chococut balls are just for you.

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Ingredients:

  • Grated coconuts – 1 1/2 cups
  • Bitter sweet chocolate – 100g
  • Sugar -3-4 teaspoons
  • Butter – 50g
  • Fresh cream – 1/2 cup

Method:

  1. Melt butter and fresh cream in a saucepan
  2. Add sugar and continue to stir on low heat
  3. Add the grated coconuts and once the mixture starts to thicken turn off the flame
  4. Allow it to cool, and make balls out of it and refrigerate overnight
  5. Melt the bitter sweet chocolate and dip each coconut ball in it and refrigerate for another 3-4 hours

Notes:

  1. Do not add excess butter or your balls wouldn’t get too crunchy. 
  2. Do not directly melt the chocolate over the flame, either use a microwave for 10secs, add to hot cream, or use a double boiler(chocolates placed over a vessel on top of boiling water

Soya chunks dry fry

Soya chunks also known as soy meat, is often considered to be ‘the vegetarians’ beef’ . It is high in protein and used as a meat substitute by veggies. Soya chunks by itself are bland tasting, but the key to making it delicious and mouth watering is simple, cook it really well! The chunks absorb water, so when added in gravy, it picks up all the water content making it taste very plain, so I always prefer to fry the soya chunks in good amount of masala, to the extent that all the moisture content is evaporated leaving behind nice, masala coated chunks that tastes just great.

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Ingredients:

  • Soya chunks – soaked in water for 10-15 mins
  • Ginger garlic paste – 1 teaspoon
  • corn flour – 3 teaspoons
  • red chilly sauce – 1 teaspoon
  • Chilly powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Garam masala – 1/2 teaspoon
  • pepper powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • cumin seeds
  • mustard seeds
  • curry leaves
  • oil
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Squeeze out all the water from the soya chunks
  2. Marinate the chunks with ginger garlic paste, red chilly sauce, corn flour, coriander powder, chilly powder, pepper powder, garam masala and salt and leave it for 10-15 mins
  3. Heat oil in a pan and splutter cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves when the oil gets hot.
  4.  Add the marinated soya chunks and shallow fry until it turns golden brown.
  5. serve hot.

Notes:

  1. Always soak the soya chunks in water before cooking, otherwise it wont get cooked properly.

 

Veethi pathil /steamed rice pancakes with shrimp stuffing

Yet another malabar delicacy, veethy pathil is a perfect treat to your tastebuds. The batter for the pancakes is made in a pouring consistency and the shrimp stuffing is dropped into the batter so it sinks in between and when steamed, we get a perfect blend of tasty shrimp alongside flavored soft rice. The shrimp is cooked completely in the gravy, so the gravy is rich and contains a heavy flavor of the shrimp. The rice batter for the pancakes is made of good quality basmati, generous amount of coconut, shallots and aromatic fennel seeds. Shallots are my recently found love and is the magic ingredient that multiplies the taste of any food by a factor of a thousand.

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Ingredients:

For the stuffing:

  • Shrimps – washed and cleaned thoroughly
  • Onions – 2 sliced
  • Ginger garlic paste – 2 teaspoons
  • shallots – 5-6 roughly chopped
  • Green chillies – 2 chopped
  • Fresh coriander – a handful
  • Chilly powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
  • pepper powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • fennel seeds – 2-3 teaspoons
  • Salt to taste

For the batter:

  • Basmati rice – 1 cup washed and soaked at least for 5 hours
  • Grated coconut – 1/2 cup
  • Fennel seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Shallots – 5-6
  • Salt to taste

Method:

Stuffing:

  1. Heat oil in a pan and add the onions and shallots and saute well
  2. Add ginger garlic paste, green chillies and continue to saute until onions are translucent.
  3. Slightly crush the fennel seeds and add to the onions.
  4. Add Chilly powder, turmeric poiwder, coriander powder, pepper powder and continue to cook.
  5. Add the washed shrimps to the masala, add some water and cover and cook until the gravy thickens and oil comes out.
  6. Add fresh coriander (optional)

Pancakes:

  1. In a blender, add all the ingredients for the batter along with sufficient water and blend until you get a pouring consistency.
  2. Pour all the batter into the vessel intended for steaming.
  3. Using a small teaspoon drop the stuffing into the batter so that it sinks well into the batter. leave spaces in between, do not overdo this step.
  4. Steam this for around 5-10 mins, insert a toothpick to see if the pancakes are completely cooked. Do not overcook. (You can use a rice cooker, idly cooker or any kind of steamer for this)

 

Notes:

  1. You can also cook the shrimps separately and add to the gravy, but cooking the shrimp in the gravy gives it a better flavor and adds to the taste.
  2. you can use any kind of meat for the filling, but, trust me,  nothing like shrimps!!