Making Sour Cream at Home | How To Series| Kitchen Hacks

When you love to cook, especially everything from scratch, learning about these small but important things is not only imperative but also gives me a high.

Making Sour Cream at home is just so simple. Just so amazing !! And again costs you one fourth of what you buy from the market.
Homemade Sour Cream stays happy in the refrigerator for a month and it gets thicker and thicker and better and better with time.
Please make sure that both the cream and the buttermilk are at room temperature when you are making sour cream. This is important for best results. If the ingredients are cold, the sour cream will take much longer to thicken or may not thicken properly.
A lot of friends and my readers have been asking how to make sour cream at home. Finally, here it is:

Sour Cream
Ingredients
2 cups or 400 ml Light Cream, at room temperature
2 tbsps cultured Buttermilk, at room temperature
Procedure
1. Place the cream in a medium sized glass bowl.
2. Add the buttermilk and mix well.
3. Cover tightly with cling wrap and keep in a warm place for 24 hours, until thickened to a custard like consistency.I keep it inside my microwave.
4. After 24 hours keep the bowl in the refrigerator for atleast 24 hours before using the sour cream. The sour cream may continue to thicken in the refrigerator.

How To Make Buttermilk 


Take one cup milk at room temperature.
Add 2 tbsp of Vinegar and let it stand for 10 minutes.
Buttermilk is ready. 
Use it for beads, scones, cakes, sour cream etc.

Happy Exploring !!

Condiment Series | Capsicum-n- Celery Dip | Dip


I recently did a series of 30 days 30 dips and it was a huge success. I loved it and people, my readers loved it too. This is a dip which was supposed to be a part of that series but it left me in two minds so I skipped it at that time, however after all these dips, this particular dips still remains close to my heart.


Capsicum-n-Celery Dip, this is where it all started. After this there was no stopping me. When I started making my own dips at home for parties a few years back, this was one of the first dips I made. To my surprise then, it was an absolute winner. 
Capsicum in my mind is the only vegetable equivalent to a herb…. as fresh and as fragrant !! It has the ability to add that extra zing to a dish.


This is a simple dip where, I not just use the celery stem, but also the leaves. The celery leaves have a much stronger spicy fragrance. You would need to chop the leaves really fine though. 

Serve this with whatever. It’s a crowd pleaser, the bowls are wiped clean 🙂

Capsicum-n-Celery Dip




Ingredients

1/2 cup Quark or Hung Curd

1/4 cup cold milk

1 small Capsicum, finely chopped

1 clove of Garlic, minced

1 stem and leaves of Celery finely chopped

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Salt to taste

Direction

1. Whisk the quark till absolutely smooth and creamy. Add the milk and whisk some more.

2. Now add the capsicum, garlic and celery. Mix well. Add the salt and pepper. Give it another stir till everything is well blended. If you find the dip a little thick, add a little more cold milk.

3. Transfer in a serving dish and serve with your choice of appetizer.

Happy Dipping !!




Pomegranate Molasses | How To Series | Kitchen Hacks


A lot of times baking and even cooking various dishes, from around the world can be challenging especially in India, because of the lack of convenience of finding certain ingredients off the shelves. Either it is difficult to find them or if you find them then they are way too expensive or difficult to source consistently.  

The flip side to this is that we learn how to create these at home !! Isn’t that what love for cooking does to so many of us !! Honestly if I know my results are exact to what I can buy in the market, I anyday want to make a dish from scratch; so making such ingredients at home is only icing on cake :-). A few examples of such ingredients are Sour Cream, Half-n-Half, Tahini, a Carton of Buttermilk, Pomegranate Molasses, Sun Dried Tomatoes etc which are either not available or way too expensive.



I ran into one such issue when I was making Muhammara, a Turkish Dip. Pomegranate Molasses is a key ingredient to muhammara and I could not find it anywhere in my city, but I could not get my heart off this simple turkish accompaniment….I just had to make it at home…so with a little research I learnt how to make Pomegranate Molasses at home and voila…..it worked. Worked beautifully !! 🙂

So here goes the recipe for Pomegranate Molasses:



Ingredients

1 litre Pomegranate Juice (I used packaged juice. If you are using fresh juice increase the sugar content to 1 cup)
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tbsp Lemon Juice

Directions

1. Pour the pomegranate juice in a pan and set it on high heat. 

2. Add the sugar and keep stirring till the sugar melts.

3. Now add the lemon juice and continue to stir till the juice thickens into an almost jelly like consistency . The moment the juice coats the back of the spoon, turn off the gas. The molasses is ready.Basically that 1 l of juice should reduce to about 350 ml.

4. Let it cool down completely then transfer in a bottle and refrigerate. Use as required. This stays happy in the fridge for many months.


We learn something new everyday !! Cheers !!

Condiment Series | Chef Saby creates 2 amazing Dips for us | Smoked Mango Dip and Roasted Watermelon Dip

Day 31



Yes one more to go….surprise !!! I’ve had an awesome series and to mark the end of these wonderful 30 days, my friend Chef Sabyasachi Gorai agreed to create two dips especially for this series. 


Sabyasachi Gorai better known as Chef Saby amongst friends and patrons is one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met. Not only is he a Chef Extraordinaire` he’s also an amazing human being !! 🙂 

 Had it not been the knife, it would have been the paint brush, for what difference does it make when you are a born artist !! He has many accolades to his credit, including winning a national award for the ‘Best Chef of India’. He was the Director of the Kitchens of restaurants like Olive Qutub, Olive Beach, Ai- The Japanese Restaurant !! He also started the Olive Culinary Academy.


Today Chef Saby is associated with various restaurants like Amreli at the Hotel Diplomat, Soda Bottle Openerwala and Drool Waffles to name a few. He’s a man who believes in giving back to the earth. He believes in indigenous products and makes food as natural as possible. His trip in life is farm to restaurant for cooking with the freshest possible produce. 

I met Chef Saby the other day at Amreli over lunch and he created magic for me in his kitchen !! 
With the season of fresh, refreshing fruits in the air, he created two dips Smoked Mango Dip and Roasted Watermelon dip. I’m sharing both the recipes here:

Smoked Mango Dip


Ingredients

2 ripe Mangoes
2 raw Mangoes
200 ml or 1 cup Coconut Milk
2-3 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 pieces of Star Anise
3 Dried, slightly fried Whole Red Chillies
1/2 tsp Black Salt


Chef at work, creating magic !!


Directions


1. Roast the raw mangoes in a tandoor. (If you do not have a tandoor,  roast them in your oven at the highest temperature).
2. Slice the ripe mangoes, sprinkle some brown sugar, and using a kitchen torch caramelise the sugar and the mangoes. Now scoop out the mangoes both ripe and raw into a bowl.
3. Take a frying pan (if you have a small tadka / tempering pan that would be ideal), pour 1 tbsp oil and heat. Add the cumin seeds and the star anise. Once the spices splutter, pour over the coconut milk.
4. Take a blender, put the both types of mangoes, tempered coconut milk, red chillies and the black salt. Bitz  to a smooth creamy consistency.
5. Transfer in a serving dish and serve. 

This dip beautifully complements Prawns or any other sea foods. Though ofcourse you can have it the way you like !!


__________________________________



Roasted Watermelon Dip



Ingredients

400g of cut Watermelon or say about a quarter of the watermelon, cut into large cubes and seeds removed.

4-5 Green chillies

2 inch piece of Ginger cut into juliennes

200 g Feta Cheese

100 g Hung Curd 

Directions

1. Thread the watermelon cubes and the chillies onto skewers.

2. On a flame grill roast the watermelon along with chillies, keep turning it around and basting it with some olive oil. 

3. Once the watermelon is roasted, remove from fire and let it cool down.

4. Take a blended, put the watermelon pieces, green chiliies, ginger and salt. Blitz to a liquid consistency. 

5. Take a pan, and pour the liquidized watermelon, add 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder and let it cook. We need to reduce it a bit and thicken the consistency.

6. Whisk together the feta and hung curd to a smooth consistency, add the watermelon reduction and mix well. Adjust seasoning if required.

7. Transfer in a serving dish.

This is a very delicately flavoured dip and goes best with crudites or fresh salad. 




Thank you Chef Saby !! It was a wonderful afternoon some amazing food at Amreli and than you so much for taking time out and creating two absolutely wonderful dips especially for my 30days30dips Series !! Cheers !!



Happy Dipping !!





Condiment Series |Szechuan Sauce | Dip

Day 30 !!



Yay !! I did it. Making dips and shooting them and writing about them for 30 days continuously !! And I loved every bit of it !! I had a wonderful time creating these dips, some were originals, some inspired and some learnt from others with minor modifications !! 
Do leave your comments to tell me how you liked this series and which was your favourite dip. I love to hear from all of you as it gives me a chance to connect with my readers.
But hey…don’t go away..there is another surprise tomorrow……under this series only !! Look out for this space…..


Coming back to the dip of the day -the Schezwan Sauce, a very popular one in Asian countries, especially India !! It gets its bold flavours from the red chillies, garlic and the unique sichuan peppers. 
The sauce gets its name from it’s origin in the Sichuan region of Southwest China.


It is one of the most popular sauces of the Chinese Cuisine here in India where some like it really hot, some like to just have a hint of it…some like to get a little greedy about it (like me….I can have an entire meal with only noodles and szechuan sauce)

So here I am with an authentic szechuan sauce recipe for the 30th day of the 30days30dips Series. Though this is not the grand finale`….look out for this space tomorrow for the grand finale` of the 30days30dips Series. Till then…..

Szechuan Sauce


Ingredients

20 dry red chilies

1 small onion, finely chopped

15 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 inch ginger, finely chopped

2 to 2 ½ tbsp water for grinding 
the red chilies

½ cup water to be added later

1 tbsp rice vinegar or white vinegar

3 to 4 sichuan peppers (skip if you don’t have)

½ tbsp finely chopped celery

1 to 2 tsp brown sugar (If you like your sauce to be sweeter, add 3 tbsps)

½ tsp black pepper powder

½ tsp soy sauce

3 to 4 tbsp sesame oil or any vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Directions

1. Soak the chilies in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain.

2. Blend them to a fine paste. Add a little water to make a smooth paste.

3. Crush the Sichuan peppers coarsely in a mortar-pestle.

4. Heat sesame oil or any other vegetable oil in a pan.

5. Add the garlic and ginger first and sauté till their raw aroma goes away. Don’t brown them.

6. Add the chopped onions and sauté` them till translucent.

7. Add the ground red chili paste and stir.

8. Then add the crushed Sichuan pepper. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes more till you see oil on the sides of 
the sauce.

9. Add ½ cup of water and give a stir again. Simmer for 2 minutes.

10. Add salt, pepper, soy sauce and vinegar. Also add celery now.

11. Stir and continue to cook for 5 to 6 minutes more.

12. Adjust the season if required.

13. Transfer in a serving dish and serve or store in the refrigerator. It stays happy in a refrigerator for upto 3 weeks.

Use as a sauce to add to chicken or vegetable or even rice dishes or simply use as a dip.




Happy dipping !!

Condiment Series | Cheesy Beer Dip | Dip

Day 29


When I read about this dip, I thought it was unusual, though very simple. I often cook with wine but have never used beer for cooking. Yes I’ve heard and had the beer batter fried fish and I love it but have never cooked myself. So I wanted to give this a shot.

I love all the ingredients including my beer so this has to be a yummm dip !! The name says it all; but but but, it’s not something I want in my fridge all the time. It is perfect for those days when you want a sinful gooey cheese rush ! On days when it’s raining and you are home, tucked in bed with your favourite book or a movie or when you want to impress your guests at a party !! (it makes quickly and easily and you can make lots and lots of it.)  


I told a friend about it and her instant reaction was “oh the boys will be very happy” !! 🙂 Why only the boys I’d be happy too. 🙂

The beer and cheese blend in beautifully and the beer adds a mild malty sweetness to the dip . It has a hint of the fermented fragrance. Enjoy it with a french baguette or bread sticks or even crudites. 

The original recipe had asked for a lot more cheese but I did not have the guts to add so much of it so I have reduced the quantity. You can of course add as much more as you like. 

Cheesy Beer Dip


Ingredients

2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Flour
¾ cup milk, divided
½ cup beer (beer of your choice)
1 tsp English Mustard
¼ tsp Salt
A pinch of sweet paprika (plus more for garnish)
150g Processed Cheese (the original recipe asked for 300g of cheese)

Directions:
1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter. Whisk in the flour.

2. Take the pan off of the heat, once the aroma rises, whisk in 2 tablespoons of the milk until smooth.

3. Then whisk in 2 more tablespoons. Add ¼ cup of the milk and whisk that until smooth followed by the final ¼ cup of milk. All this needs to be done quickly and make sure there are no lumps formed.

4. Stir in the beer, mustard, paprika and salt. Return the pan to medium heat and stir until thick and bubbling, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Add the cheese and continue to whisk. Once blended in, adjust the seasoning.


6. Transfer in serving dish and garnish with sweet paprika.



Happy Dipping !!


Condiment Series | Harissa | Dip

Day 28

Harissa for the brave heart or err…. for the brave tongue !!!


This is a Tunisian Hot Chili Peppers Sauce, but now making inroads into the Moroccan Cuisine. It is a combination of various types of chillies. Both fresh and dried. Traditionally Harissa uses roasted red peppers, serrano peppers and other hot chilli peppers. however the recipe goes on evolving according to the region you are in, and the availability of the the types of peppers. Actually not just the region, it varies from household to household too. Some like it smooth as a paste, some like is coarse, and some like a specific variety of chilli flavour more than the others.

Harissa works as a hot sauce, a dip or a marinade. If you are someone who can handle a tad bit of spiciness then go ahead try it in all its pureness as a dip or else, mix it with cream cheese, or honey or mayo as you like it. We at home can handle that kind spice though I like to use another dip or spread as a base and use the harissa as a garnish.

 

Harissa

Ingredients

1 Red Bell Peppers

2 Fresh whole red chillies (the fat varieties – the ones used for pickles)

2 Dried Kashmiri Deghi Mirchi ( the thin crinckled chile, deep red in colour)

2 Dried  Tarvati (the thin smooth dried red chilli with a bright red colour)

1 Dried Reshampatti chillies ( the dried fat chilli with a thick fleshy skin)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup Boiling Water

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tbsp Olive Oil



Directions

1. Put all the dried chillies in hot water and let it soak for 20 minutes, till they soften. Reserve the cilli water.

2. Once the chiles are softened, put them in a blender along with the fresh chillies, red bell peppers, salt, garlic and lemon juice. Blitz till you get a smooth puree`. If it looks a little too thick for your liking, add the reserved chilli water to thin it down a bit.

3. Now slowly dribble the olive oil and blitz a little more.

4. Transfer in a jar and refrigerate or use immediately.


Serving suggestions

– Mix with mayonnaise
– Mix with hung curd
– Serve as it is

Spice it up !!

Condiment Series | Soya Granules Dip | Dip

Day 27


This actually, originally was made by my mum as a sandwich spread ! That too of the leftover soya granules. She transformed the cooked ‘nutri sabji’ into an amazing sandwich dip and surprised all of us one fine morning for breakfast. This dip is an inspiration from that spread !!

Though of course this recipe is tweaked as per my taste and sensibility and is not made from leftovers.

The granules lend a very interesting texture to the dip. It is again healthy and not so bad for your waistline.
It of course can be used as a spread in sandwiches but otherwise goes well with crackers, pita, salted toasties etc.



Soya Granules Dip





Ingredients

1/2 cup Soya Granules (washed and soaked in water for 20 minutes)

1 small Capiscum finely chopped

1 small Onion finely chopped

2 cloves of Garlic, minced

For the White Sauce

1 tbsp Butter

1 tbsp Flour

1 cup Milk

1/2 tsp Pepper 

Salt to taste



Directions

1. Take a pan pour, 1 tbsp oil and saute` the garlic and onions till they sweat. Add the capsicum, saute` for another minute.

2. Now add the soya granules and season with salt. Mix well and saute for another 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the flame and let it cool down.

3. Take another pan, melt the butter, add the flour and saute` till an aroma rises. Keep stirring and make sure that the roux doesn’t change colour. 

4. Turn the flame down and add the milk in two batches, whisking well continuously. Make sure there are no lumps. 

5. Once you get a smooth sauce consistency and the sauce coats the back of the spoon, add the salt and pepper and mix well.  

6. Now add the cooked soya granules and mix well so that it blends well with the sauce. 

7. Transfer in a serving dish and serve warm with toasties or crackers.

Happy Dipping !!


Condiment Series | Sour Cream-n- Mushroom Dip | Dip

Day 26


Silky, smooth and creamy, that is the Sour Cream and Mushroom Dip.
At first you taste the silkiness of the sour cream and then the mushroom flavour hits as an after taste. Very interesting ! Apparently the flavour combination is classical of Russian cuisine, though not necessarily as a dip.

The tangy flavour of the sour cream combined with the woody mushroom flavour gives this dip a twist of flavours !! It almost feels butter in your mouth ofcourse without guilt. It pairs well with raw vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, radish.


Sour Cream-n- Mushroom Dip

Ingredients

200 g white button mushroom, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
a pinch of black pepper
Salt to taste

1 cup sour cream

Directions


1. Saute the mushrooms with butter in a pan, add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix well and cook till mushrooms are well done.

2. Let the mushrooms cool down and blitz in the blender. Add the sour cream and blitz some more till you get a smooth silky paste.

3. Transfer in a serving dish and serve with your choice of appetizer.

Happy dipping !!


Condiment Series | Homemade Herbed Mustard | Dip

Day 25


Mustard !! We all have our own tastes and preferences. I buy three different types of mustard at home. While KJ likes mustard to be creamy more like a Dijon Mustard, I like the Classic English Mustard with my sandwiches or burgers, and then I use Kasundi for my salads, marinades, dressings etc. 


And now I have the fourth type that I made at home.
So apparently making mustard at home is simple and you can play around with it, as you like. I learnt it recently only !! I never knew making mustard was that simple. It’s fun actually !! 



So here, the mustard I’ve made is a milder version of the various types readily available with the addition of herbs. I’d suggest let it sit for 2-3 days and the flavours intensify. I’ve used yellow mustard seeds, you can follow the same procedure with a different variety of the seeds.

Homemade Herbed Mustard

Ingredients

2/3  cup (120gr) yellow mustard seeds
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup water
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme
1.5 Tbsp Rosemary
½ tsp chili flakes
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp honey 
¼ cup water at room temperature




Directions

1. Mix apple cider vinegar with water and add mustard seeds. Leave to soak for 2 to 3 days. The mustard seeds will absorb a lot of the liquid.

2. Put mustard mix in a blender, together with the rest of the ingredients, and blitz until you get a smooth consistency. If you think it’s too thick, add 2 tbsp of water at a time and continue to blend until you get it smooth.
3. Transfer into jars, leaving no air bubbles if you can, and keep covered in the fridge.

Notes

Mustard should keep well in the fridge, for up to few months.
This too makes as a good food gift ! Make bottles and gift to family and friends.

Happy Dipping !!