Condiment Series | Egyptian Beetroot Dip | Dip

Day 14


Egyptian Beetroot Dip  – why is this called so, even I don’t know !! 

The recipe shows influences from the middle east and we know for a fact, that the flavours in the cuisines from Egypt and the Middle East are overlapping. This is probably egyptian and not lebanese, because of the use of spices. Egyptians are known to use spices heavily in their food. Usually one finds variants of the similar lebanese dishes in Egypt but with additions of more fragrances and aromas in the form of spices.



This dip is my ‘show-off’ dip’ :D. It is a perfect party enhancer. Make this, serve with crackers or soup -sticks along with the drinks and your party begins….What I like about such dips is that they are delicious, light, guilt free and look absolutely exotic !! Look at that colour…. 



Egyptian Beetroot Dip

Ingredients

2 large Beetroots
4 cloves of Garlic
1/3 cup of plain yoghurt
1 heaped tsp of Cumin seeds
1 tsp of Coriander seeds
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Toasted Pistachios, roughly chopped for garnish



Direction

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree C. Wrap the beetroots in foil and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes.
2. When the last 10 minutes are left throw in the garlic and let it roast as well. Let the beetroot cool down, then peel the skin off.

3. While the beetroot is roasting, take a small frying pan and dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds, till aroma rises. Remove from the flame and grind to a fine powder.

4. Roughly chop the beetroots, put in the food processor and add all the other ingredients besides the olive oil and pistachios. 

5. Blitz in the processor till well blended and a smooth paste is formed. Transfer in the serving dish, dribble some olive oil and pistachios for garnish.

6. Serve with crackers or any other finger food of your choice.



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 | Moong Hummus with Burnt Chillies | Dip

Day 10



While I love my daals (lentils), Green Gram was never a favourite. Rather I always seem to shy away from it and my mother would always be after my case for running away from the green moong, listing down all its health benefits in one breath…every single time !!




So finally here I am, with a win win situation…. she can’t complaint, and now neither can I. Green Gram Hummus doesn’t taste anything like the way green gram daal does. It is creamy and full of flavour and super healthy !!



Now that I’ve been making various types of hummus, I realise that a hummus-n-pita with some relish type of breakfast is one of the most satiating breakfasts and I seem to be gorging on these atleast 3 times a week. I love it !!

Oh by the way May 13 was International Hummus Day !! 🙂
Though for my most days can be hummus days.



Moong Hummus with Burnt Chillies



Ingredients


2 cups cooked Green Gram

1 tsp Tahini

3 Cloves Garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste 

2 tbsp Olive Oil


For Tempering

1 Tsp Chilli flakes

1 tbsp Olive Oil

1/2 tsp Oregano



Directions

1. Blitz in a food processor, all the ingredients besides the ones for tempering.

2. Once a smooth creamy texture is achieved, transfer in a serving dish.

3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add chilli flakes and just when they are about to burn, add the oregano and remove from flame. Pour over the hummus. 

4. Give it a light stir and serve.


Happy Hummus Days !!

Condiment Series | Mushroom Dip | Dips

Day 9


Mushroom Dip. Serve it hot. Serve it cold. Yeah… serve it the way you like it. It’s an all year dip. I serve this warm-n-fuzzy with nachos or pita on cold wintry evenings and serve it chilled in summers. This also makes for excellent sandwich spreads too (that was my breakfast today !!).


The base in this dip is the white sauce, though one could do the same with sour cream as well. I’ll try to share a sour cream-mushroom dip recipe as well, a little later. For now here goes the recipe:

Mushroom Dip !!




Ingredients

200g Mushrooms (regular white button mushrooms), finely chopped

1 large Onion, finely chopped

4-5 cloves of Garlic, minced

1 tsp Dried Oregano

1/2 tsp of chilli flakes

Salt to taste

Oil for sauteing

For the white sauce

1 tbsp Butter

1 tbsp All purpose white flour

1 cup Milk

Black Pepper

Salt to taste.




Directions

1. Take a pan. Pour oil, saute the garlic till slightly golden. Now add the onions and saute` till translucent.

2. Once the onions are done add the finely chopped mushrooms and saute`.

3. Keep stirring every once in a while till the mushrooms are almost cooked through. This should take about 12-15 minutes on medium to high heat. Now add the salt,  dried oregano and chilli flakes. mix well. Cook for another 2 minutes. By this time the moisture from the mushrooms should have evaporated. If not, saute` a little more till the liquid evaporates.



4. While the mushrooms are cooking, we should prepare the white sauce. Take another pan, add 1 tbsp of butter and half a tsp for oil (so that the butter doesn’t burn).

5. Once the butter melts, add the flour and mix well till butter and flour are well combined. Make sure the flour doesn’t change colour, however once the aroma rises, add half the milk and quickly quickly whisk with a spatula or a balloon whisk , into a smooth paste. Make sure there are no lumps formed.

6. Add the remaining milk and mix well. Check for consistency. It should not be very flowy. It should have saucy consistency. If the sauce coats the back of the spoon, it is ready. Add salt and pepper. Mix well.

7. Remove from fire and add the cooked mushrooms.

8. Serve warm. Or if you want to serve cold, let it cool down completely, cover with the cling wrap and refrigerate.

Condiment Series | Piri Piri Hummus | Dip

It almost sounds strange to call Hummus a dip, though technically speaking it is one.
I’ve earlier done a post on hummus which was a basic recipe. Here I’m writing about another variant of the basic, The Piri Piri Hummus. You can let your imagination run wild and experiment with various ingredients and flavours that can be added to hummus.




Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip, now with more and enough added flavours. The perfect accompaniment to Pita. The mild flavour of rosemary and the punch of piri piri is a treat to your taste buds.
This too makes an excellent base for a sandwich or a crostini. It is my favourite dressing for a wrap or an open sandwich. It’s guilt free and superbly delicious ! I have actually completely done away with using butter or mayonnaise in my wraps and sandwiches. Though I will share my home made mayonnaise recipe for those occasional indulgences in my coming posts. 🙂


Piri Piri Hummus

Ingredients

2 cups Boiled Chickpeas
1 tbsp Tahini
Juice of 1 Lemon
3-4 cloves Garlic
6-7 Peri-Peri Red Chillies
1 tsp Dried Rosemary
1/2 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to Taste

For Tempering
Olive Oil
Chilli Flakes


Directions

1. In a food processor, add the boiled channas or chickpeas, tahini paste, garlic cloves, lemon juice, piri-piri chillies, rosemary and salt. Blitz.

2. While the processor is running add the olive oil in a thin stream. Blitz till all ingredients are well blended. 

3. Remove from the processor, transfer in a serving bowl.

4. Prepare the tempering by heating the olive oil in a pan. Add the chilli flakes and let then just burn. As soon as they become dark and the aroma rises, temper the hummus. 

5. Garnish with parsley leaves and serve.

Condiment Series | Muhammara | Dip

Hi !!
I’m on a binge again. Only this time it’s not an eating binge. It’s a dip-making ( read relish / dips / sauces) binge.
I’m gonna be dividing this into a series here, where I’ll be sharing recipes for various types of dips. Each post will carry one type of recipe. Let’s see how many I can create 🙂




Each post will carry one recipe. 

At home I’m constantly trying my best to not use butter for everyday use, especially for my breakfast and keep exploring alternatives for it. The constant battle to feed healthy yet delicious food to my family and to keep a check on my ever growing waistline.

So today I share the recipe of Muhammara, a pepper dip originally from Syria, now commonly found in Levantine and Turkish Cuisines. It has a nutty texture with a slight sweetness to it. Works well on a crostini or a wrap or as dip to be served with pita or even with a platter of salad.


Muhammara

Ingredients

2 Red Bell Peppers
1 Fresh Red Chilli
1 tbsp Chilli Flakes
3 cloves of Garlic
1/3 cup of Olive Oil
1/3 cup of Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup of Toasted Walnuts.
2 tsps Pomegranate Molasses 
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Salt to taste


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Toast the bread crumbs for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.

2. Now roast the bell peppers and the red chillies for about 20-25 minutes. Let it cool.

3. In the food processor add the roasted bell peppers, roasted chillies, bread crumbs, toasted walnuts, garlic, chilli flakes, lemon juice pomegranate molasses and salt. Whisk to a paste. While the processor is running, in a thin stream add the olive oil. Once all ingredients are nicely blended, remove from the processor, transfer in a serving dish, add a little olive oil and garnish with Parsley or Coriander leaves. 
Serve.


Khao Suey | Burmese Noodle Dish with Chicken Gravy



I was introduced to Khao Suey by a friend sometime ago.
What a simple dish with a symphony of flavours and undertones of textures – all in one bite.
One of the best One-pot Meals I’ve ever had. It is a Burmese staple dish, also prepared with pork or mutton (I cook it with chicken). Though traditionally Burmese in origin, the dish is also very popular in parts of South East Asia like Thailand and Malaysia.



So I was at a friend’s place when we decided to order out and she wanted me to try out this amazingly delish dish ! I remember, not being able to finish it and she insisted I take a doggy pack back home for KJ.
KJ loved it instantly (for the native love of coconut) and for a couple of times we went all the way to the other end of the town (which is some 2 hours away) only to pick up this dish from the Burmese joint but soon the recipe was sourced at home and now there is no stopping…. Khao Suey is now a regular dish for Sunday afternoons followed by a siesta !! Simply Heaven !!


Khao Suey


Ingredients
1 packet Noodles

½ kg boneless chicken thigh pieces cut into bite sized pieces

3-4 onions chopped fine

6-7 cloves garlic grated together with

1 ½ ” of ginger

2-3 tbsp besan (gram flour)

400 ml Coconut Milk 

1/2 tsp Haldi

1/2 tsp Chilli Powder 

Salt to taste

Garnish

Chopped spring onions

Deep fried sliced onions

Chopped coriander

Chopped green chillies

Fried garlic flakes

Boiled egg chopped small

Noodles (raw) fried

Peanuts – fried / roasted broken into pieces

Lime cut into quarters

Directions

1. Fry onions till soft. Do not brown. 

2. Add ginger, garlic paste. Fry till it smells like it is done, approx. 3-4 minutes. 

3. Add the chicken, turmeric and chilli powder. Fry till the chicken turns white and is coated well with the spices. Basically the chicken should be 70% cooked.

4. Remove the chicken from the pan and in the same pan add besan and dry roast till aroma rises. Add a 400 ml of water or chicken stalk. Keep whisking continuously so that no lumps are formed.  

5. Now add coconut milk. Also add the salt now. Bring to boil and let it simmer till the gravy thickens. Add the chicken pieces and give it a boil or two. 

6. For the noodles, boil water. Enough to cover the noodles. Put in noodles only after water starts boiling for 7 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, a tsp of oil and a garlic pod to the water along with the noodles. Strain and let it sit for about 7 minutes. 

To Serve:

Serve in a bowl – first the noodles, top it with the gravy generously till the noodles are well covered and top with the all the garnish.

Happy Cooking !!

Lemon Pound (Bundt) Cake

One cake which never leaves my cake dish, this is my anytime ‘go-to’ cake. When nothing else seems right just bake this. Everyone loves it. They love the way it looks and love the way it tastes.
Serve it with ice cream and you have a perfect dessert or serve it as it is with tea.
I love it first thing in the morning with my cuppa coffee. The perfect balance of caffeine and zesty sweetness. 



To tell you honestly I love the way it looks and love it so much that I don’t ever feel like cutting it.Cutting the first piece is always heart breaking.
I think the Bundt moulds make the most beautiful moulds for non icing cakes. Usually a little more expensive than other cake moulds but sure the investment.



So coming back to the cake, this is super moist cake with a fresh punch of zesty lemon.
A pound cake which is classically made in the shape of a  loaf has been transformed into a bundt shape. ( The loaf shape is always last on my priority for the cake)

A Bundt cake is essentially the type of mould, inspired by a traditional European fruit cake known as Gugelhupf, but Bundt cakes are not generally associated with any single recipe. So I chose the lemon pound cake recipe here.
I’ve dusted my cake with some castor sugar, you could also dribble some lemon glaze on it.

Lemon Pound (Bundt) Cake:

Ingredients:

3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 tbsp Baking Powder
¾ tsp Salt
3 cups Sugar
1 cup Unsalted Butter at room temperature
½ cup Shortening, room temperature ( I did not use any shortening, instead I used another 1/2 cup of butter)
5 large Eggs
1 cup Whole Milk
6 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Lemon, zested

Direction:
1. Preheat oven to 350F or 180 C
2. Butter and dust one large Bundt pan.
3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl.  Set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended after each one.
5. Add dry ingredients in three additions to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Mix in lemon juice and zest.

6. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.  Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes.  Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

7. Dust with some castor sugar.

Happy Baking !!


Caramelised Onions and Cheese Pull Apart Bread


The sight of a pull apart bread loaf on various blogs is so so so appetising. I couldn’t resist making one myself,  for too long. So I found this absolutely yummy recipe. Mine came out a little different from my recipe source but scrumptious all the same.

It’s perfect for a day when all you crave is carbs. A dip on the side or a soup and nothing else is needed. I could have a full meal with just that.


We had this loaf with our pasta dinner, with a cuppa chai in my office and just warmed with some beetroot pesto and loved it in all its avatars !!


Caramelised Onion and Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Adapted from Cooksjoy.com

Prep Time: 02h 50min
Cook time: 01h 15min
Ingredients:
Garlic – 3 cloves

Red chillies – 1

All purpose  flour – 3 cups

Dry Active Yeast – 2 tsp

Sugar – ½ tsp

Salt – 1 tsp

Olive oil – 2 tbsp (butter can be used instead)

Milk – 1 ¼ cup (luke warm)



For Filling

Oil – 1 tbsp

Onion – 2 cups – chopped

Salt – to taste

Pepper – to taste

Cheese – 1/2 cup (Any cheese – I used cheddar) 


Direction:

1. Pound (in a pestle and mortar) red chilly and garlic, and keep aside. 

2. Take the luke warm milk, add yeast and sugar and let it culture for not more than 10 minutes.

3. Take flour and salt in a bowl and mix. Add the chilly-garlic paste and olive oil. Crumble together.

4. Add the now foamy yeast mixture and form a dough. Knead for around 10 minutes to get a smooth dough. Keep aside, covered with a wet kitchen towel or cling wrap,  in a warm place to rise and double in volume.

5. Meanwhile, for the filling, heat oil and add onions, salt and pepper. Saute` until the onions are caramelised  It took around 30 minutes for me. If the onions start catching a bit at the bottom, just add a table spoon or two of water and continue browning them.

6. When the dough doubles in volume, punch it down and place on a lightly floured surface. Shape into a loaf and roll into a 12 x 12 inch square. Brush butter over it and spread the caramelised onions and cheese. Use as much as needed.

7. Cut into 6 strips. Stack the strips  (one on top of the other) with the topping facing upward. Next cut through gently using a sharp knife into 6 equal square stacks.

8. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan (i didn’t do that since i was using a non stick load pan). Keep it vertical if possible and place the stacks. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cover and allow it to rise for another hour.


9. After an hour, brush the top with milk and bake in a preheated 180C oven for 30 – 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.

10. Serve with a dip or soup or just like that !



Happy Baking !!

Ciabatta – The Italian Bread

It’s best to cook when you are cooking for someone….cooking something on someone’s request !!!

A few days back, I met a old friend after a long long time and got talking on food (what else would you expect from me….) and during the course of the conversation discovered a mutual love for all things good (read Italian food). He loves to eat and I love to cook.
I’m always up for a new challenge….always ready to try something I’ve never done before and breads are my favourite. He asked if I knew how to bake a Ciabatta. I said I didn’t but I could always try…..
Ciabatta is an Italian white bread…..it’s crusty on the outside and soft inside. The pores of this bread are larger, they almost look like small craters or pockets. It is an excellent accompaniment to soups and is best had toasted. 
A sandwich made from the ciabatta is called a Panino.
So here’s my first attempt to baking the Italian Ciabatta !!!
Discovered a new way of using yeast….did some improvisation on the original procedure.
Ciabattas take longer than the usual breads to prepare, but it’s worth every bit of that effort. A perfect bread to bake on a weekend.
Like sourdough breads require a starter…. though it is a natural starter without yeast, Ciabattas also require a starter called the Biga (in Italian). It is a pre ferment made with yeast, flour and water.
Biga is used in breads which require light open texture with holes…yes holes along with the regular pores and also adds a complexity to the bread’s flavour.

I was quite pleased with the results and so were KJ and mum-n-dad. I already have an ultimatum from mum that this time she surely wants a bigger loaf …. 🙂 Can’t wait to get them baking again….

Ciabatta Recipe
Makes 4 loaves

Ingredients
1 tspn active Dry Yeast
5 tbspns Warm Milk
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons Water, at room temperature (if using a food processor, use cold water)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 very full cups (17.5 ounces / 500 grams) biga, rested for 12 hours (see the recipe at the end)
3 3/4 cups (17.5 ounces / 500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1 tablespoon (0.5 ounces / 15 grams) salt
Cornmeal
Direction
If making the ciabatta in a stand mixer: 
Stir the yeast into the milk in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the water, oil, and biga and mix with the paddle until blended. Mix the flour and salt, add to the bowl, and mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Change to the dough hook and knead for 2 minutes at low speed, then 2 minutes at medium speed. Knead briefly on a well-floured surface, adding as little flour as possible, until the dough is still sticky but beginning to show evidence of being velvety, supple, springy, and moist.
If making the ciabatta in a food processor:
Stir the yeast into the milk in a large bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons of cold water, the oil, and the biga and mix, squeezing the biga between your fingers to break it up. Place the flour and salt in the food processor fitted with the dough blade and pulse several times to sift the ingredients. With the machine running, pour the biga mixture through the feed tube and process until the dough comes together. Process about 45 seconds longer to knead. Finish kneading on a well-floured surface until the dough is still sticky but beginning to show signs of being velvety, supple, moist, and springy.
2. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours. The dough should be full of air bubbles, very supple, elastic, and sticky.
3. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces on a well-floured surface. Roll each piece into a cylinder, then stretch each cylinder into a rectangle, pulling with your fingers to get each piece long and wide enough. It should be approximately 10 by 4 inches.
4. Generously flour 4 pieces of parchment paper placed on peels or upside-down baking sheets. Place each loaf, seam side up, on a piece of parchment. Dimple the loaves vigorously with your fingertips or knuckles so that they won’t rise too much. The dough will look heavily pockmarked, but it is very resilient, so don’t be concerned. Cover the loaves loosely with damp towels and let rise until puffy but not doubled, 1 1/2  to 2 hours. The loaves will look flat and definitely unpromising, but don’t give up; they will rise more in the oven.
5. Approximately 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC) and slide your baking stones on the center rack to heat.
6. Just before baking the ciabatta, sprinkle the stones with cornmeal. Carefully invert each loaf onto a stone. If the dough sticks a bit to the parchment, just gently work it free from the paper. If you need to, you can leave the paper and remove it 10 minutes later. Bake for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water in the first 10 minutes. Transfer the ciabatta loaves to wire racks to cool.

Notes:

1. If you do not have a baking stone you could invert a cast iron skillet or a griddle and place it in the centre of your oven. It works equally well.

                          
Recipe for Biga

Ingredients

¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
¼ cup (2 ounces/ 60 grams) warm water
¾ cup plus 4 teaspoons (7 ounces/ 200 grams) water, preferably bottled spring water, at room temperature
2 1/3 cups (11.6 ounces / 330 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
Directions
1. Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the remaining water and then the flour, 1 cup at a time. 
If mixing by hand, stir with a wooden spoon for 3 to 4 minutes. If mixing with a stand mixer, beat with the paddle at the lowest speed for 2 minutes. If mixing with a food processor, mix just until a sticky dough forms.
3. Transfer the biga to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at a cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours. When ready, the starter will be triple its original volume and still be wet and sticky. (The bakers I admire most advise 10 to 11 hours for the first rise, but others are very happy with the 24 hours it takes for dough to truly become yesterday’s dough. If you like sour bread, allow your biga to rest for 24 to 48 hours, or you might even stretch it to 72 hours.) Cover and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. (If refrigerating the biga, use within 5 days. If freezing the biga, let it rest at room temperature for about 3 hours until it is bubbly and active again.) When needed, scoop out the desired amount of biga for your recipe and proceed.
Happy Baking !!