Nankhatai | Baking | Childhood Memories



Nankhatai – the Indian Cookie which most of us, living in this part of the world have grown up on !!
I have some amazing memories of enjoying nankhatais with my grandfather. In our house he was the one who was so so fond of these lovely cookies, and had introduced me to them. White crumbly texture, the richness of the cardamom flavour and the aroma of desi ghee (clarified butter)…oh they make for the perfect cookie!! 



Have tried my hands, a couple of times at making nankhatais, but I was never satisfied. Either it was too sweet or the texture was not crumbly enough !! Finally I’ve found the perfect recipe for the Nankhatai. They look as good as they taste, exactly they way they used to when I was a little kid !
The recipe is courtesy Aromatic Essence.



Nankhatais are shortbread biscuits popular both in India as well as Pakistan. 
On searching the net, Wiki tell me, Nankhatai is believed to have originated in Surat in the 16th century, the time when Dutch and Indians were the important spice traders. A Dutch couple set up a bakery in Surat to meet the needs of local Dutch residents. When the Dutch left India, they handed over the bakery to an Iranian. The locals disliked the bakery biscuits and to save his business he started selling dried bread at low prices. It became so popular that he started drying the bread before selling it. With time, his experimentation with bread ultimately gave birth to Nankhatai.



Nankhatai


Ingredients

2 cups All purpose flour

1 cup Semolina (Sooji)

½ cup Chickpea flour (Besan)

1 cup Clarified butter (Ghee)

1 ½ cup powdered Sugar

Elaichi (cardamom) powder to garnish

Direction
1. In a mixing bowl, mix all purpose flour, semolina, chickpea flour and sugar together.
2. Add ghee, little at a time, to the dry mixture and try to knead the dough. Do not overwork with it otherwise the nankhatais will not be flaky. You need to bring the flour together like we do for the pastry dough. Knead just enough to bring it together.
3. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
4. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with butter paper.
5. Make small flat balls and place on baking sheet. Using a knife, cut a cross in the middle of each, press some cardamom powder. Rest the cookies in the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes. In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 degree C for 10 minutes.
5. Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes (depending on the oven)

6. Completely cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.



Happy baking !!

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 !!


The Condiment Series | Thai Peanut Sauce | Dip

Day 23


Not just on Satays I love this thai peanut sauce in many many ways, So much so i even use it with my oriental rice or even a sandwich !! I grilled chicken sandwich and thai peanut sauce is pure bliss !!

I’m reasonably picky about my thai sauce. I generally do not like the bottled sauces readily available in supermarkets. I have my favourite oriental restaurants where, I must confess, I have a chicken satay only for the peanut sauce and always end up greedily asking for more sauce :p !!


I wonder what took me so long to figure out how to make this one at home. This is a quick method a bit of a short cut. I’ll soon be trying my hands on the more elaborate traditional method too. Though this works very well for me. I did make some adjustments according to my own taste and I think i’ve got what I’ve been looking for…..


Here I’ll be sharing the recipe of the chicken satay as well, after the Thai Peanut Sauce Recipe (since my star is the peanut sauce).


Thai Peanut Sauce with Chicken Satay




Ingredients

1 cup Coconut Milk

1/3 cup Peanut Butter

2 tbsps Thai Red Curry Paste

2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tbsp Sugar or to taste

2 tbsp coarsely ground Peanuts

1 4 inches piece of Lemon Grass
Salt to taste



Directions

1. Take a pan, pour in coconut milk, add the peanut butter, thai curry paste, sugar, vinegar, and salt. Whisk it well. (Do not put the pan on the flame as yet).  Make sure all ingredients are blended.

2. Now put it on the flame and let it cook while stirring it continuously to make sure the sauce doesn’t catch the bottom of the pan. Add the lemon grass. Cook for about 7-8 minutes till the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

3. Turn the flame off let it rest and cool off to room temperature,

4. Once cool, transfer in serving dish or bottle it and refrigerate.

Note:

You can adjust the sweetness of the sauce to your taste.


The sauce ill get thicker in the refrigerator, to thin it down, remove from the fridge and let it come to room temperature and add some warm water and mix well (do this only to the quantity you want to serve).  



Chicken Satay


Ingredients

400 g of boneless chicken thigh pieces, cut into small bite size pieces (if you cannot find thigh pieces, you can use boneless chicken breasts)
1/2 cup of Thai Red Curry Paste
3 tbsp Coconut Milk
2 tbsp Fresh Coriander finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp Olive Oil or any oil of your choice
6-8 Bamboo Skewers

Directions

1. In a medium size bowl, mix the coconut milk and thai curry paste. Add the lemon zest and olive oil and mix well. Add the chicken pieces and let it rest for 15 minutes.

2. Preheat your oven to 200 degree C for 10 minutes

3. Soak the bamboo sticks in water for about 10 minutes (This is important to avoid the bamboo sticks from catching fire)

4. Now thread the chicken pieces onto the bamboo skewers, make sure the chicken pieces remain well coated with the marinade.

5. Line a baking sheet with foil and place it on the lowest shelf of the oven. Place the grill in the middle shelf and place the chicken skewers.

6. Let them grill for about 15 minutes or till well done. You may need to rotate the skewers once in between for even cooking.

7. Once done, remove from the grill and serve with the Thai Peanut Sauce !!

Happy Dipping !!



Condiment Series | Salsa | Dip

Day 20


During the F1 season, every other sunday is Race Day at Home !! Beer in the chillers, a bowl of some dip and lots of chips and we vroooooooom…..

Yesterday was no different, only that Nachos replaced the chips and the dip was Salsa !!!! Homemade Salsa.



Salsa is Spanish for Sauce, and in english speaking countries is referred to sauces typical of Mexican Cuisine, known as Salsa Picante, particularly those used as dips. They are often tomato based, though many are not. They are typically piquant ranging from mild to hot. This recipe is a tomato salsa, not the mildest but surely you don’t have to be a brave heart for this !! I’d say it is pleasantly spicey !! 🙂

There are various methods of doing the salsa. Some people make it with raw tomatoes and some boil it. I like mine to be roasted. I feel it intensifies the flavours.




Roasted Tomato Salsa

Ingredients

750g fire-roasted tomatoes, drained if you like a thicker salsa

3 cloves Garlic, peeled
4-5 diced Green Chiles
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 Onion diced
1 jalapeno, stem removed (and seeded, if you want less heat)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper



Directions:

1. Preheat oven to the maximum heat for 10 minutes.

2. Cut the tomatoes and place them on a baking try cut side facing down. Roast for about 10-15 minutes till the tomato skin starts getting black spots. Remove from the oven and let it cool down to room temperature.

3. Once the tomatoes cool, remove the skin and discard. It comes off very easily.

4. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes and all other ingredients until a coarsely ground. You can decide the consistency. I personally don’t like it completely smooth. 

5. Serve  with Nachos immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for upto 7 days.

Note:
You can of course adjust the chillies according to your preference.


Ole` Ole` !!

Condiment Series | Tartare | Dip

Day 18



Another popular dip ! Though it’s claim to fame is thanks to only one dish – Fish’n’Chips.
Of course nothing stops you from eating it with just anything else in the world, after all the base is Mayo.


So tartare is essentially Mayo with pickles or gherkins and herbs and has a sharp taste to it with a hint of tanginess, and complements the salty taste of the fish.

If you thought Thousand Islands was simple to make this is even simpler. Here it goes:


Tartare Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup Mayonnaise (get the recipe here)
2 tbsps Pickled Gherkins or Sweet Relish finely chopped (I used sweet relish)* (get the recipe here)
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
a dash of black pepper
1 tsp dill leaves finely chopped
a pinch of salt

Directions

Mix all the above ingredients properly.
Transfer in a serving dish and serve.
Best served with fish fingers.


Condiment Series | The Italian Pesto | Dip\Sauce

Day 11


Pesto  – The Fragrant Italian Sauce !! 

Pesto is one of the earliest sauces / dips I started making. It is my absolute personal favourite and my ‘go to’ sauce everytime I’m in a fix, so when in doubt, use pesto !!
The woody fragrance of pine nuts blending with the sweetness of basil is a marriage made in heaven.


It is a light fresh sauce perfect for summer that can not only be used in pastas, but also salads. It also makes for an interesting dip / topping.
Bless the Italian Nonnas to have invented this !!



‘Pesto’ is a generic term used for anything that is made by pounding and originally was made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan, though today there are various versions of pesto, made with many different ingredients.

While traditionally Pesto does contain Parmesan, I do not add it in my version of the recipe. Since I use so much of Pesto, I always try to do away with cheese wherever I can, though I’d suggest you should add to the recipe, especially if you are making this for the first time.


Pesto



Ingredients

100g Basil leaves 

1/2 cup Pine nuts

5 cloves of garlic.

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (optional. add it if you are making it for the first time.)


4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste





Directions

1. In a food processor, add all ingredients besides the olive oil. Process on low till all ingredients blend in well. 

2. Increase the processor speed to high and dribble oil in a thin stream. 

3. Scrape down the sides of the food processor jar and transfer the pesto in a jar. Use immediately or refrigerate.

felice martellante !


Condiment Series | Baba Ghanoush | Dip

Day 8

From the chimichurri of South America I’m back to the middle east. Today it is Baba Ghanoush made from the humble eggplant.



This smoky dip is a favourite of the Arabs and is often eaten with khubz or pita bread. Traditionally baba ghanoush would have other added vegetables like onions and tomatoes, though over a period of time and influences from other regions, it has come to be known in the avatar as we know it today – A smooth silky creamy dip full of flavour.

The Arabs called the today’s version of Baba Ghanoush as Mutabbal. Though in regions like Egypt and Turkey it is known as Baba Ghanoush only.


Traditionally, the eggplant is roasted on open fire, though you can roast it in your oven as well.
In the recipe that I’m sharing here, the eggplant is roasted on open fire on the stove top. Make it a day or two in advance and you’ll see that it tastes better. The flavours need to mature, hence some resting time is a good idea.


Baba Ghanoush – The peculiar smoky tangy dip !!

Ingredients

2 medium sized eggplants
1 tbsp of Tahini
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 cloves Garlic minced.
1 tsp Chilli flakes
Salt to taste
4-5 tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

1. Fire roast the eggplants. I like the smoky flavour so let it roast a tad bit longer. (each should take about 15 minutes). Let it cool to room temperature and peel of the skin.

2. Mash the roasted eggplant with the spoon and transfer into the blender. Add the tahini, minced garlic, lemon juice, chilli flakes, olive oil and salt. Blitz.

3. Once well blended, transfer to the serving dish. Garnish with your choice of fresh herb like cilantro or parsley or mint . Pour a spoon or two of olive oil.

4. Serve with bread.

Breads | Parmesan Pesto Rolls

If you like your bread warm…..look no further !!! This is heaven !!!
Pesto Rolls are delicately fragrant with the basil and garlic and the tartness of parmesan !! Best served warm…. actually just of out-the-oven warm 🙂
I get very touchy about my breads….hence all the fuss !!

I’m all for this bread especially because it tastes awesome without the added calorie burden of butter and cheese of the world. It doesn’t feel dry in the mouth, has a lovely flavour, a great accompaniment or can be had by itself for breakfast.

I’ve been baking bread every weekend…. and it usually is the whole wheat loaf which has become a standard default loaf of the Jayaram household. Making these rolls was such a welcome change, not to say that I get bored with my usual whole wheat recipe, but who doesn’t like a soft silky aromatic bun !
I must admit, while whole wheat breads taste great and are always always a much healthier option, nothing beats the good old white flour bread.

I always have a bottle of my homemade Pesto in the fridge…you can always choose a different relish, flavour, condiment etc of your choice. A caramelised onion and ham filling is also great :-).

Pesto Rolls

Ingredients

2 cups All purpose flour or bread flour
2 tsp dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp Sugar
3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
Pesto
Parmesan
Warm water to knead the dough

Directions

1. Mix sugar and yeast in lukewarm water and let it prove for not more than 10 minutes.

2. Once the yeast starts frothing, take a flour in a large mixing bowl and ad the yeast. Mix well with your fingers. It’s more like rubbing the yeast into the flour. Once rubbed it well, take some warm water and add gradually, simultaneously add salt and olive oil.

3, Mix well and now transfer the dough onto the work platform and knead well using both your hands. Knead it till the dough feels silky and stretchy.

4. Transfer the dough in a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. Keep in a warm place for 1 hour till the dough doubles in size.

5. Once doubled, punch it down lightly and give it a quick kneed.

6. Now roll the dough into about half centimetre thickness, this should be about 12″ x 15″ in dimension.

7. Spread pesto generously and grate some parmesan.

8. Now keeping the longer side (15″) towards yourself start rolling the dough. See the images below. Make sure the roll is tight.

9. Cut into equal parts and lay in a round cake mould.

10. Now let ir prove again for 30 minutes.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 220 C preheated oven.

12 Serve warm.

Happy Baking !!

Homemade Cookies | Whole Wheat Cookies | Lemon Cookies

“A Balanced Diet is a Cookie in Each Hand…”




Cookies were always a mind-block for me. Even though I’ve been baking for so many years now, but I never got around baking a cookie, for no particular reason. On thinking aloud, maybe I felt that it was not as satisfying as baking a cake… but how wrong was I !!
Off and on my father would encourage me to bake biscuits but with no results whatsoever, until one day he gave me an ultimatum to bake cookies :-)).


That weekend I tried my hands on my first cookies and I fell in love with baking all over again !! 
Baking cookies is such a joy, especially when you see so many cookies turning out from that little dough, and in no time. 
A whole new world of recipes opened up and there was no stopping me. Now I feel they are far simpler than cakes and the joy that a cookie brings no cake can 🙂
Ever since my new ‘cookie love’, Tea Parties are my favourite kind of parties to host these days :-).

Here I share my first set of cookies I baked.  2 recipes back to back.
There will be more coming up and sooon……


Whole Wheat Cookies ( Eggless)


Ingredients


Wheat Flour 1 cup

Unsalted butter 1 tbsp

Salt ¼ tsp

Sugar 3-4 tbsp

Cardamom Powder  ½ -1 tsp

Baking Powder ½ tsp

Directions
1. Take a mixing bowl, add wheat flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, cardamom powder and mix well.

2. Then add unsalted melted butter and mix well.

3. Now using water or milk knead it into a dough. Neither too soft nor too tight.

4. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and keep aside for 10 minutes.

5. Pre heat oven to 425 f or 220 C.

6. Dust the counter top with a little powdered sugar and roll the dough into a thin layer. Using a cookie cutter of your desired shape, cut into a biscuits and arrange them on a greased baking tray.

7. Prick the biscuits with fork or knife  to prevent puff up.

8. Bake it for 12-15 minutes or it turn to crisp and light brown.

9. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.





Lemon Cookies





Ingredients


275g. flour

125g butter (at room temperature)

1 egg

80g brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder 

Zest and Juice of 1 lemon


Directions

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. Sift the flour along with the baking powder.

3. Beat egg and sugar. Once well incorporated, add the lemon juice and the zest.

4. Now add the butter and keep whipping until the mixture looks pale and creamy.

5. Add the sifted flour to the butter-egg mixture and knead into a smooth dough.

6. Wrap this dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes.

7. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 cm thickness and cutout cookies with the desired shape of cookie cutter.

8. Bake in a 180 C preheated oven.

9. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.



Note: Do not bake cookies for more than 15 minutes, unless specified. Even they look a little under done or feel soft on touch, its okay, they will firm up and become crisp as they cool down.


Happy Baking !!