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 !!

Homemade Yoghurt | How to series | Kitchen Hacks

Well yes, most of you who would see this post first would wonder what happened to me ?? Especially friends in India. Yoghurt is an intrinsic part of every Indian Household. It is something we take for granted here in India. We have all grown up seeing our mothers setting yoghurt every night for probably as long as I can remember !! Then why am I talking about it here ??

Life is so truly a learning…each and every day. Just recently I learned a new and sure shot way of setting curd. Something I had never known. This especially works well when the weather is cold and the curd refuses to set properly.
The chilli does the trick here.

You will need:

Warm milk to set the yoghurt.
Add the starter – 1 tsp of yoghurt. Mix well.
Drop in a whole green chilli.
Cover and set in a warm place like your oven / microwave.

I also cover my yoghurt dish with a thick cotton blanket.

The curd should be set in about 4 hours time, depending on the weather conditions.

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 |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 | 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 | 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 !!




Condiment Series | Green Peas Hummus | Dip

Day 21


I’m back with yet another Hummus dish, this time Green Peas Hummus !! This is purely a vegetable hummus unlike my earlier ones.
I’ll be honest, I’m not someone who’s particularly fond of green peas, rather as a child I would run away from them. Now I have this delish way of eating these lovely beads. The Green Peas Hummus has a lovely texture and a vibrant fresh colour and very quick to make.


Like other hummus, this too is brilliant and healthy in wraps, on crostinis or to just have with crackers.

Green Peas Hummus



Ingredients

1 cup fresh or frozen Green Peas

A handful of green cilantro

2 cloves of Garlic

1 tbsp Tahini

1 tbsp Lemon Juice

1/4 tsp Cumin Powder

Salt to taste

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions

1. Boil the peas in some salted water. (This should take about 8-10 minutes). Do not cover the pan or the peas will become dull in colour.  Drain and cool the peas under cold water. Strain and keep aside.

2. In a food processor, blitz the boiled peas, tahini, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, cumin powder and salt. Blitz till you get a coarse paste.

3. Add a little olive oil and blitz some more. You should now get a creamy texture.

4. Transfer in the serving dish, dribble some olive oil if you like and serve.

This stays happy in a refrigerator for up to a week.


Happy Cooking !!

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 | Mast-O-Khiar | Dip

Day 19



You already know my love for hung curd !! These days my hot favourite cuisine is Middle Eastern so here is another hung curd dip…..completely aromatic and exotic !! Look at that name… Mast-O-Khiar, a Persian dip perfect to beat the summer heat !

What Tzatziki is to the Greeks, Mast-O-Khiar is to the Persians, only more aromatic and a tad sweet.
Traditionally this dish was always a side in Iranian meals, however it now has evolved into a crowd pleaser at parties in the form of a dip served with finger foods or leavened breads.



Mast-O-Khiar



Ingredients

1 cup Thick fresh yogurt chilled (I used hung curd, though hung only for 40 minutes)

1 small Cucumber peeled, deseeded and cubed

2 tbsp Walnuts toasted and crushed

1 tbsp Dried Cranberries chopped

1 tbsp Dried Rose Petals

5-6 Fresh Mint Leaves chopped finely

1 tbsp Fresh Dill Leaves chopped finely

1 clove Garlic minced

Salt to taste


Extra Virgin Olive oil to drizzle




Directions


In a mixing bowl, whisk the curd to a smooth consistency. 

Add the crushed garlic, salt, dill and mint. Mix well again.

Just before serving, add the cucumber along with the walnuts.

Mix well.

Garnish with rose petals, dried cranberries and a few pieces of walnut.

Drizzle that olive oil.

Serve with leavened breads or crackers.




Happy Cooking !!