Monthly Archives: July 2013

Chicken Momos (Dumplings)

Momos

Original to North eastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and other bordering countries like Bhutan and Nepal, momo’s are now available in all malls  and Indo- Chinese restaurants in metro cities. Mildly spiced minced chicken fill in thin wrappers and steamed, they are Varun’s favorites.

Chicken momos

I have been meaning to make them for a while but never got a chance till this weekend we bought some minced chicken and decided to make momo’s. Varun helped me mix the dough and then proceeded to create a mess. I couldn’t form them as well as I hoped to but they tasted like the ones you would get in Mainland China.

IMG_1936
This is a hit recipe that is going to stick around in our household for good!!

Chicken Momos Recipe

For the filling

  • 3/4 lb minced or ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root ( about 2 inch root)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Salt to taste

For the Cover

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Salt to taste

1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling and set aside.

2. Mix the ingredients for cover starting with a cup of water and adding more as needed to make a stiff but pliable dough.

3. Make small balls ( cherry or lemon sized) and roll out thin circles ( like rotis or tortillas).

4. Place a tablespoon or two filling ( based on how large is the circle) in the center and scoop the edges up to form a dumpling. Repeat till all the dough and filling is used up.

5. In the meantime, set a saucepan with water to boil. Keep an well -greased steaming basket inside it.

6. Keep the dumplings in the steamer and steam for 10 – 12 minutes till they are done.

Serve hot with Siracha sauce.

Savory Tomato Pesto Tart

Ready to eat tomato tart

There are some dishes that come together effortlessly and are like a party of flavors in your mouth. Tomato and pesto is  one such combination. Quality ingredients shine and provide easy snack, lunch or appetizer.

Tomato Tart

I found some cherry tomatoes at our local supermarket. They were sweet and fresh and paired with pesto made for a savory side to soft scrambled eggs. They made the breakfast that much more special.

If you are planning a summer brunch with friends, this gotta feature on your menu. Paired with a salad and rose there is nothing more simple and more fitting ode to summer than this.

Tomato tart 2

Savory Tomato Pesto Recipe

  • 1 cup homemade pastry or store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon pesto
  • Salt to taste
  • Few cranks of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon mint leaves roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F

2. Roll out the dough into a 8 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Prick all over with a fork to prevent puffing leaving about an inch edge around the perimeter untouched.

3. Blind bake this pastry dough for about 6 – 8 minutes till golden brown. I weighed this down with an oven safe bowl with some beans to keep the center unpuffed.

4. Remove from oven and then layer the mustard and pesto over the base. Leave the edges as is.

5. Arrange the tomatoes in rows or circles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6. Put it back in the oven and bake on middle shelf for about 12 minutes or so till the tomatoes are cooked at the edges and pastry is brown at the edges.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.

Cut and serve warm.

Mini Plum Tart

Plum tart2

Plums are in season here in India. Smaller than their US counterparts, these are part sweet and part tart. I had pastry dough on hand and after eating many plums as is I wanted to make something else.

A simple fruit tart is what I made. A good pastry dough or puff pastry sheets, fresh fruits and sugar is all that is needed. Its one thing that can be pulled together effortlessly and will impress your guests. For there is nothing like baking a cake or dessert for your family to say that you care!

fresh plums

We had this for breakfast – just because it was ready by then. But it pairs well with ice-cream for a light dessert post a heavy dinner.

The recipe works well with any fruit – pear, apples, nectarine, peaches and even berries. For juicy fruits make sure you macerate them with a little sugar and salt to release the juices. Lift the fruit from the juice and then use those slices on your tart. This will prevent the tart from becoming soggy.

The juice can be reduced and served as syrup or drizzled lightly over the tart before and after cooking so that it still will be juicy but not soupy.

The crusty base with sweet and tart plums as topping pair beautifully in this summer classic dish. I prefer this to be on tart side and hence have used very little sugar. Feel free to play around to suit your taste. I think the plums would play well with balsamic reduction and I am going to give that a try next!

Plum tart

Mini Plum Tart Recipe

  • 1 cup homemade pastry or store-bought puff pastry
  • 8 – 10 fresh plums, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar ( divided) ( more if your fruit is tart and how sweet you like your dessert)
  • Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C or 350 F

Place the plum slices with a tablespoon of sugar and salt in a bowl to macerate. This will help it release excess juice which otherwise turn the pie into a soggy mess.

2. Roll out the dough into a 8 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Prick all over with a fork to prevent puffing leaving about an inch edge around the perimeter untouched.

3. Blind bake this pastry dough for about 6 – 8 minutes till golden brown. I weighed this down with an oven safe bowl with some beans to keep the center un-puffed.

4. Layer the plum slices over the pastry. Drizzle some of the juice over the tart.

Sprinkle remaining sugar over the plum slices/

5. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes till the tart is deep golden brown at the edges and the fruit looks cooked.

Remove from the oven, and let cool.

Slice and serve warm or cold with fresh cream, ice-cream or simply as is.

The Daring Cooks July Challenge: Misti Doi ( Bengali Style Sweet Yogurt)

Misti Doi

I am hopelessly late for this months Daring Cook’s challenge. But I have very good reason(s). Work was in the way. I didn’t have starter yogurt to make a fresh batch. And I wanted to make Bengali style sweet yogurt which we had for almost every meal in Calcutta. It starts with thickened milk made by stirring milk over low flame till it is halved in volume. And since I have never seen misti doi in anything but earthen pots (matkas), I also wanted to make it only when I bought the little pots and set the yogurt in that.

I tried it once and failed. So tried it again. It was better, similar in taste but in quiet in color.

See, I told you I had perfectly valid reasons why I am late.

Nevertheless, this is a recipe for a caramelized smoky sweetened yogurt. I am sure it is never made at home, almost always store bought. Just like the French buy their baugettes rather than make them from scratch, Bengalis eat misti-doi on their post-dinner stroll rather than making from scratch.

Either ways, give this light dessert a try. Am sure once you succeed at making this you will make this a regular. It can be eaten as is, stuffed in canoli for a unique filling or served in phyllo cups for an indo-western fusion dessert.

Note: For yogurt making tips, read this article. It has tips from using yogurt maker, to slow cooker to heating pad to have an optimum temperature to make yogurt at home.

Misti doi Recipe

Makes 2 servings

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 tablespoon water to caramelize
  • 1/4 cup starter yogurt

1. Boil milk with sugar on low flame, stirring continuously till reduced in half. Make sure you scrape the fat that gets lined on the edges of saucepan and incorporate that back in the milk.

Keep an eye on this to prevent the milk from burning.

2. Once the milk is halved in volume, take it off the heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a smaller saucepan, caramelize the sugar. Once it is browned and sticky, remove from the flame. Add this to the reduced milk mixture. Stir well.

4. When the milk is lukewarm, add the yogurt and whisk well.

5. Pour into bowls and set aside to form yogurt in a warm place. This will take about 6- 8 hours in a warm place. Once set, put the yogurt in the refrigerator to set.

Serve chilled.

Making Vanilla Extract

Home made vanilla

Its surprising that I haven’t made this earlier.

A little bit of alcohol (bourbon or vodka or rum) and vanilla beans set aside for couple of months yield vanilla extract. I mean I have made kumquat flavored vodka before. Why didn’t I see the connection?

I used to ask any one travelling to lug back a bottle Nielsen Masey vanilla extract from US which is a bit on the expensive side. To think about it, top quality vanilla is grown in India and exported. It’s maddening that I should import an extract made from those beans back at an exorbitant price.

So, today I set out some beans that we acquired in a co-op in Kochi in rum ( as that is what I had on hand) and hope that in 8 – 10 weeks I will have vanilla extract.

Vanilla extract

Cant wait for that! It will be just in time as my current vanilla extract is getting used up.

What are you planning to make this weekend? I am toying with the idea of making Haleem from scratch or chicken momos. If not, at least I will go Haleem tasting this weekend!

Vanilla Extract 

  • 2 vanilla beans – get the highest quality possible
  • 1/4 cup bourbon or vodka
  • 1 clean sterile bottle

1. Split the vanilla bean and add it to the bottle. Cover with alcohol of choice. Close lid. Shake.

Set aside in a cool dark place for the vanilla to infuse.

Takes bout 8 – 10 weeks.

Enjoy in baked goods!

Potato Bread

Potato bread

Do you follow a lot of blogs?

I sure do. More than enough. I don’t subscribe to them but have them bookmarked and visit them time to time. And if something catches my eye, I add that recipe to my try list. And this does not even count my recipe inspiration board on pinterest.

I am addicted. And I am loving it.

Potato bread is one such recipe by a fellow blogger who actually pursued her hobby and went to a culinary school. Oh, what a life! As part of school, she learnt bread making and posted a potato bread recipe.

I have hated store-bought potato bread but her photos of potato bread made me want to try it.

So, this Sunday, I made potato bread. And I must say, it was a revelation. It is good bread for sandwiches and  for sopping up gravies. It is mildly potato flavored, not too dense or not too light. Although Vipul became a fan, I think that this was a successful experiment – something I may not try again. Nothing against the bread, but just that there are more bread recipes pinned and vying for my attention!

Potato Bread Recipe

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1/2 cup mashed boiled potato
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water (  to proof the yeast)
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root

1. Take the potato , milk, water, honey and butter in a saucepan and warm them till the butter melts. Take off heat and whisk well. Set aside to cool.

2. Beat the egg.

3. Proof the yeast in water with the sugar. Wait for 5 minutes or till the yeast doubles over. If it doesn’t proof, discard and start with fresh yeast.

4. In the meantime, mix 3 cups flour with salt and ginger root and mix well with a spoon for a minute or so.

5. Add the yeast and the potato mix and then mix well for few minutes. Dump the sticky mix onto counter top and knead well with heal of your palm.

Repeat till you have a nice smooth dough.

Avoid adding more flour unless it is very sticky and does not come together after kneading.

6. Place this in a well oiled bowl, covered with oiled cling wrap,  in a warm, draft free place to rise. The dough is risen well when it looks about doubled in volume and if you stick 2 fingers in it stays indented. This is called first rise.

It can take a couple of hours at least. Go nap or watch a movie.

7. After first rise, take the dough out of the bowl. Gently press it down and then roll into shape. Set aside for second rise.

The loaf should rise above the sides of the pan.

8. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Bake the loaf for 20- 25 minutes till golden brown or the interior reads 195 F at least.

Let cool and then slice.

Enjoy!

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