Categories
Cooking Food General Indian Cooking Recipes

How to Make Paneer Bhurji!

Yesterday, we received a grocery delivery, including fresh whole milk from free-range cows. So, last evening, I made some fresh paneer! I could barely stop myself from eating it all, as is. It was citrusy, fresh, and utterly, deliciously, creamy! Somehow, I managed to control myself and stored it in the refrigerator and today, I set out to make some paneer bhurji.

Bhurji recipe

If you want to try making some too, here’s what you will need:

1/2 pound paneer (for instructions on how to make it, go here; you could also buy some at Indian stores, but freshly made homemade paneer really is several orders of magnitude better than the store bought kind)

2-5 tablespoons of vegetable or sunflower oil or ghee (go here for my recipe) (if you use 4-5 tbsp of oil or ghee, the bhurji will taste better and have a better mouth-feel)

1 medium onion (ideally red; diced)

2 cloves of garlic (crushed)(optional)

2 green chillies (ideally, the slender, thai ones) or 1 habanero (chopped);

3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (you can use more tomatoes if you like your bhurji a little more tangy and sweet) (diced)

Salt to taste

1-3 teaspoon red chilli powder (depending on how hot you want your bhurji to taste)

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 lime or lemon (optional)

A few sprigs of coriander/cilantro (optional)

Rotis (for more on how to make rotis, go here; you could also use tortillas or buy pre-made rotis at an Indian store, but I wouldn’t recommend it).

Method:

  1. Take the Paneer and chop it up into little pieces. You can also process it in a food processor until it is broken up into fairly small bits.
  2. Place a frying pan on your stove and turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the oil/ghee to the pan.
  3. Once the oil seems hot (test it with one small onion piece) toss in the diced onions and sauté them until they are slightly browned.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, throw the crushed garlic and chopped chillies into the pan, and sauté them, as well.
  5. Sprinkle the salt and all the masalas (red chilli, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric powders) into the pan. Stir the contents of the pan until the spices are well-distributed.
  6. Once the aromas of the spices begin to release (in about a minute), add the tomatoes, and mix everything in the pan.
  7. Place a lid on the pan and let the tomato-onion-spice mixture cook for a few minutes, until the oil separates from the mixture (stirring intermittently).
  8. Toss in the paneer chunks and stir well, breaking up the paneer in the pan even more as you stir.
  9. Cook until the paneer looks well cooked but still moist. You can taste it after a few minutes and decide whether or not you want it cooked some more. You should definitely cook it long enough for the oil to separate from the paneer-masala mixture.
  10. Take the pan off the heat. Squeeze some lime/lemon juice on the paneer bhurji, to taste; it will add a bit of tartness to the bhurji! You could also garnish the bhurji with some coriander/cilantro leaves. And enjoy!

How to make paneer bhurji

Eat it with some rotis!

Healthy vegetarian meal

You could also roll it up in a chapati to make yourself a Kathi roll. Go here for instructions on how to do this.

Categories
Cooking Food General Indian Cooking Recipes

Paneer Bhurji Roll: A Great Portable Snack!

The one thing I hate about busy days is that one doesn’t get to sit down and properly enjoy one’s lunch. I hate rushed meals, you see. So on days when I am swamped, I just eat cookies or brownies for lunch and make up for it with two delicious dinners when I get home.

I know, however, that this isn’t the healthiest way to go about things. And sometimes, I miss being able to eat something spicy and not-sweet for lunch (followed by a brownie, of course). That’s where this roll comes in.

It’s inspired by the concept of a Kathi roll and quite easy to assemble. So if you make the bhurji the night before, it becomes an easy snack to put together for lunch on a busy day. And you can eat easily while you work on something without getting your hands all messy 🙂

If you want to try making it, here’s what you will need:

1/2 pound paneer (for instructions on how to make it, go here; you could also buy some at Indian stores, but freshly made homemade paneer really is several orders of magnitude better than the store bought kind)

2-5 tablespoons of vegetable or sunflower oil or ghee (go here for my recipe)

1 medium sized onion (ideally red; diced)

2 cloves of garlic (crushed)(optional)

2 green chillies (ideally, the slender, thai ones) or 1 habanero (chopped);

3 medium-sized vine ripened tomatoes (you can use more tomatoes if you like your bhurji a little more tangy and sweet) (diced)

Salt to taste

1-3 teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 lime or lemon

Rotis (for more on how to make rotis, go here; you could also use tortillas or buy pre-made rotis at an Indian store, but I wouldn’t recommend it).

Method:

  1. Take the Paneer and chop it up into little small pieces. You can also process it in a food processor until it is broken up into fairly small chunks (not larger than 1/2 inch cubes).
  2. Add the oil/ghee to a frying pan. Heat the pan at medium-high heat.
  3. Once the oil seems hot (test it with one small onion piece) throw in the diced onions and sauté them until they are slightly browned.
  4. Throw in the green chilli and sauté it as well. Reduce the heat to medium.
  5. Add the tomatoes and toss them about in the pan.
  6. Add the salt and all the masalas (red chilli, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric powders). Toss the contents of the pan until the spices are well-distributed.
  7. Place a lid on the frying pan and let the tomato-onion-spice mixture cook for a few minutes, until the oil separates from the mixture (stirring intermittently).
  8. Toss in the paneer chunks and stir well, breaking up the paneer in the pan even more as you stir.
  9. Cook until the paneer looks well cooked but still moist. You can taste it after a few minutes and decide whether or not you want it cooked some more.
  10. Take the pan off the heat. Squeeze lime juice on the paneer bhurji, to taste. It’ll add a bit of tartness to it that I love!
  11. Place a roti or tortilla on a plate. Spoon the bhurji into the centre of the roti.

Roll the roti up, so that it looks like a burrito.

Your snack/portable lunch is ready 🙂 I like eating it with yoghurt (I am a yoghurt fiend!)

Categories
Cooking Food General Indian Cooking Recipes

Easy Fish Tikka Recipe Served with Mint Chutney

Tikka is one of my favourite appetizers, but unfortunately, good tikka is surprisingly difficult to come by outside India. Craving decent tikka (especially fish tikka), I have tried multiple recipes over the years, and finally, I think I’ve found the perfect combination and balance of ingredients. This recipe, arrived at after some fine-tuning and re-mixing, and much experimentation 😉 is also relatively easy to follow.

Mmmm just look at how delicious this looks:

Tandoori tikka recipe

If you’d like to try it out, here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

1 pound fish cut into 1.5 inch cubes (I’ve found that haddock works really well for tikka)

For the Marinade:

6-8 large cloves of garlic

1/2 tablespoon grated ginger

1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves

3 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp grated lime zest

1 tbsp kashmiri red chili powder

1 tsp freshly ground cumin powder

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

1 tsp rock salt

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp mustard oil

1 tbsp gram flour

1/2 cup yoghurt

Method:

Set aside the gram flour, yoghurt and half the oil. Put the rest of the marinade ingredients in a blender, or food processor, and process into a smooth paste.

In the meantime, fry the gram flour in the oil that was set aside, until the flour darkens a bit and becomes fragrant (this should take about one, or one and half minutes).

Combine the fried flour, spice paste, and yoghurt in a bowl, then add the fish pieces to this. Marinate the fish in the mixture for at least 4 hours, or even overnight (place the fish and marinade in the refrigerator during this time).

image

When you’re ready to serve the tikka, broil the fish in the oven (at the highest setting for about 15 minutes, basting half way through with butter), or, if you can, grill it over a barbecue. I think it tastes best when it’s grilled on the barbecue, but broiling works well enough, at a pinch.

Serve the tikka with mint chutney (to make chutney at home, blitz a cup of coriander leaves with half a cup of mint leaves, 2-3 green chillies, 2 tbsp of lime juice, 3-4 tbsp of greek yoghurt, and rock salt to taste. Add more yoghurt if you want a thicker consistency, or if the chutney tastes too hot for your liking). You can also garnish the plate or tray you serve the tikka on with onions sliced into rings, or green chilies.

And there you have it, a delicious appetizer, that I sometimes eat with roti or rice as a main course. It also makes for a great snack at cocktail parties.

Fish tikka

Categories
Chocolate Food General Recipes

Dark Chocolate Strawberries Sprinkled with Toasted Brazil Nuts (a Quick and Healthy Dessert!)

Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate and coated in toasted nuts

I decided to stay in town for the long weekend because I wanted (had) to work on my thesis (it’s taking over my life!). So while it seemed like the whole world was outside enjoying the lovely spring weather, I was indoors all day, sitting at my desk, staring at this computer screen.

Earlier this afternoon, I felt particularly overwhelmed, and needed a little something to cheer myself up and keep me going on the chapter I was working on. So I went over to my pantry and picked out some snacks. I set out some dark chocolate covered biscuits and chocolate cream filled wafers on a plate and was about to walk away, when it occurred to me that I needed to add something more healthy to the mix. So I decided to make some chocolate covered strawberries!

Strawberries dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with toasted brazil nuts

The process is so simple that I don’t think it even makes sense to post a recipe. But, if you’ve never made chocolate covered strawberries, here are some simple tips.

Start off by melting some dark chocolate; you can use a microwave, just make sure to use a low heat setting, so as not to burn the chocolate.

If you’d like to sprinkle some nuts on the strawberries, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and toast some brazil nuts or hazelnuts on a baking tray for about 5-7 minutes, until they are fragrant. Once cooled, place the nuts in a tea towel and rub them against each other through the towel, in order to remove their skins. Then, crush the nuts with a mortar and pestle and set the crushed nuts aside.

In the meantime, wash the berries and dry them with a paper towel. Then, dip the berries in chocolate. I decided to leave the leaves on the strawberries as it’s easier to work with them that way, and I also think it’s easier to pick them up by the leaves when you want to eat them 🙂

You can use your hands to coat the strawberries in chocolate, like this:Dipping strawberries in chocolate

wpid-2013-03-31-19.58.58.png

If you don’t want to use your hands, or you’d like to take the leaves off, you can also use a fondue fork.

image

After you’ve dipped each berry in the chocolate, place it on a plate covered in wax paper or parchment paper.

image

If you’ve decided to add nuts to the mix, coat the chocolate covered strawberries in the crushed nuts. Let the berries be for a while, until the chocolate hardens, and then serve them. And there you have it, a simple and quick snack or dessert that’s very healthy!

image

Categories
Cooking Food General Recipes

Tuna and Olive Crostini

I had a lot of crostini left over from a big party I threw, as well as plenty of olives. So here’s a little snack I came up with using these left-overs. Tuna and Olive Crostini Recipe

This tuna and olive crostini makes for a delicious snack or even a light dinner; and it’s pretty easy to make. What’s more, the recipe doesn’t involve too many ingredients and it isn’t labour intensive at all.

Here’s what you will need:

2 baguette slices

A teaspoon of olive oil

A can of tuna or half a cup of fresh tuna

A handful of good quality pitted olives, ideally, use a combination of green and black olives.

A wedge of lime

Extra sharp cheddar to taste

Chili flakes to taste

Method:

To begin with, cut two slender slices off a baguette. Brush both sides of the baguette with some olive oil and grill the slices in a panini-maker or the oven. If you’re using an oven, pre-heat it to 350 degree Fahrenheit and then bake the slices for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Next, top off the bread with some tuna, squeeze some lime juice on top. Slice the olives in half and then arrange them on top of the tuna, as shown in the photograph below. Place the slices in the oven and let them bake for 5 minutes.

How to Make Tuna and Olive Crostini Recipe as an appetizer

In the meantime, cut 3-4 slices of cheddar. Once the slices have baked for 5 minutes, place the cheese on top of the olives and top off with chili flakes.

Tuna and Olive Crostini Recipe

Place the slices back in the oven and let them bake for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is all melted.

Tune and Olive Crostini

And there, you’re snack’s ready!

Categories
Chocolate Food General Recipes

A Cure for Dark Winter Afternoon Blues

I’ve been remiss again, and for this I apologize. The life of a grad student is often erratic, and various deadlines have kept me from writing about my food-related adventures. Happily, they haven’t entirely prevented me from having said adventures. So, now that I have some time again, I shall return to chronicling my chocolate and spice related capers.

Despite my happiness at having a bit more free time though, there is a cloud in my otherwise blue sky. A literal cloud, in fact, because winter has arrived, bringing with it cold, dark afternoons :(. Finally, I understand why people who live in Canada, the northern U.S and northern Europe are so obsessed with the weather. It’s actually depressing to not see or feel fuzzy, yellow sunshine for months on end. (I mentioned these places in particular, because these are the cold parts of the world that I’ve lived in. I realize of course that there are other cold places, I’ve just never lived there and so, have no idea if people there are obsessed with ‘The Weather’.)

And then suddenly, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a cure, a magical, instantaneous cure for winter blues, namely: hot chocolate. All you need is a few minutes in the kitchen to stir up a nice cup of hot, chocaltey richness, and you’re all set. You can curl up on your couch with a blanket and a good book, and a soft pair of socks on your feet (ideally a cat is also included in this scenario) and winter will actually seem bearable.

Don’t believe me? Just look at this:

photo-22

I’ve taken to making myself a cup every once in a while 🙂 I use homemade chocolate fudge ice-cream topping to make the hot chocolate, rather than cocoa or chocolate flakes. If you’d like to recreate this deliciousness, it’s fairly simply. Just warm up 2/3rds of a cup of milk. Then dissolve 2-3 tablespoons of homemade dark chocolate fudge into it. Here is a recipe for a velvety, homemade dark chocolate fudge that I strongly recommend; it’s super yummy and super-easy to make. (It is also delicious on ice-cream, which is what I originally made it for.)

Once you’ve dissolved the fudge, top off the hot chocolate with some whipped cream and stick a cinnamon stick into the cup:

photo-23

Finally, sprinkle some cocoa powder on the cream, and sip away! If you’ve got a cookie to go with it, more power to you. I think my next post will be about the dark-chocolate-chunk cookies that I am now about to go and bake 😛 Mmmm.

photo-24

Categories
Baking Cooking Food General Recipes

Refried Beans Remixed Part II

Sometime ago, I wrote about how relatively easy it is to make refried beans. Now that I’ve figured out a recipe for beans that works for me (and by that I mean that it is a wholly vegetarian recipe and it’s super-spicy) I’ve been making refried beans a lot lately. My favourite ways to eat beans include: beans on top of rice, beans inside burritos and quesadillas, and even just beans on more beans with lots of cheese on top 🙂 And then of course, there is the refried bean pizza 🙂

My latest bean-related experiment involves mixing two iconic foods from Mexican and French cuisine respectively: refried beans and crepes. Here’s how it turned out:

Baked crepes with refried beans and cheese

If you want to try it out, here’s what you will need:

For the Filling:

One serving of re-fried beans, go here for my recipe.

Freshly grated aged cheddar, to taste

Chunks of mozzarella, to taste

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds

For the crepes:

1 cup all-purpose flour (leveled)

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 1/2 cups whole milk

4 large eggs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Method:

I started by making the crepes. I just threw all the ingredients for the crepes (in no particular order) into a food processor (you call also use a blender/mixie) and whizzed them all together until I got a smooth mixture. The batter will be pretty thin, quite unlike pancake batter.

Now for making the crepes. I heated a skillet, melted a little butter on it and poured a ladle of batter on it. Then, I swirled the batter about to make a thin layer completely covering the entire skillet. I cooked the underside of the crêpe for about 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula I loosened the edges of the crepes and then flipped the crêpe over and cooked the other side for about 2 minutes. Then I placed the crêpe on a plate, covered it with plastic wrap and repeated the crepe-making process until I’d used up all the batter. (You can also store the batter in the fridge for a day or two if you prefer.)

Now I was ready to stuff the crepes with their filling! (You can stuff and bake a couple at first and store the rest of the crepes in the fridge. Since they’re all wrapped up in plastic, they will stay fresh.)

But first, I had to pre-heat the oven, which I did to 350 F. While the oven heats up, start filling the crepes with refried beans and cheese and lining them up on a baking tray. To keep the crêpe nicely wrapped and beans snug inside, I used a toothpick.

Baked crepes with refried beans and cheese

Once the oven is warmed up, place the crepes in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or so. Monitor them and reduce the temperature, or take them out sooner if they look like they are browning too much. You just want them to be a nice golden colour with the edges starting to crisp up.

Once they are ready, take them out of the oven, sprinkle with cumin and cayenne pepper and enjoy!

Baked crepes with refried beans and cheese

If you don’t want to spend the time decorating the crêpe with cayenne pepper and cumin polka-dots like I did, you can just lightly dust the crêpe with the spices:

Baked crepes with refried beans and cheese

They made for a perfect snack while working on my dissertation.

Baked crepes with refried beans and cheese