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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.

Everyday Chicken Meatballs

Chiken meatballs 2

I mentioned that I made two types of meatballs for my June Daring Kitchen Challenge – Mutton Apricot meatballs and Chicken meatballs. This post is about the chicken meatballs. Simple and easy to make, they can be cooked ahead on weekend and added to your salad , pasta or in a sandwich. They are perfect as appetizer with some mint chutney at an open house or a potluck.

The flavors in this recipe are inspired from Northwest Frontier Province of Indian subcontinent  – whole coriander seed pods, cumin seeds and red chili powder. The flavors though can be easily altered to taste.

I sometimes flatten them into nuggets and pan fry with a crumb coat. Either ways it’s a wonderful back up to be stocked in your freezer for those busy weeknight when you want something yum for dinner but don’t have energy to tinker around in the kitchen.

Chicken meatballs

Chicken Meatballs Recipe

  • 1 lb chicken breast ground
  • 3- 4 garlic pods finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced green chili
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 inch root ginger freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion chopped
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4- 1/2  teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon – garam masala 
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoon – Oil (for frying)

1. Mix all the ingredients well (except oil for frying). Form meatballs and set aside.

2.Heat oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the meatballs  for a couple of minutes on each side till golden brown.

3. Drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil

Serve warm. Or store in an air tight container in fridge once cool.

Toasted Green Almonds

Green Almonds

Green almonds are also in season. And just like ice apples they are around for a brief two to three weeks. With fuzzy pale green pods they look like almond-shaped green tiny peaches but have a distinct freshly mowed grass scent which I associate with spring!

The external pods are not edible ( unless they are very soft which is very rare to find in market). You have  to peel off the external pod with a knife with patience and care. Once open, the pale yellow almost avocado like interior nestle a cream tender almond. Hold the ends of the pod down to pop the almond out or piece it with the knife tip to remove the tender kernel.

Green almonds 2

It tastes of young almond and can be eaten as is, but have patience. Toasted in a little bit olive oil with a sprinkling of salt elevates the ‘almondness’- if it is a word and adds crunch to the young almond. It can be eaten as is, sprinkled on top of salad, added to a pesto instead of pine nuts or added to jams and jellies.

Start with a bigger pile of raw pods as the actual almond is small. We only had 1/4 cup almonds from almost 2 cups of pods. Vipul finished the entire bowl while I went to put Varun down for his nap.

Green Almonds shelled

If the pods were tender, I am sure we could have sautéed them in olive oil and snacked on them whole. That would be more “filling”. But the once we had were a bit too “aged” for that.

Give this unusual snack a try if you do find green almonds in your farmers market. Per internet, they are in season now across France, middle-east and California. Cheers for seasonal food! Happy snacking!!

Toasted Green Almonds Recipe

  • Shelled green almonds – 1/4 cup
  • Olive oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste

1. Heat oil in a skillet and saute the almonds in the oil for 1- 2 minutes. Stir continuously to prevent burning. Sprinkle salt. Adjust to taste. Serve warm.

Crispy Left Over Rice and Vegetable Cakes

Ricecakes

A working parent can’t have too many quick and easy dinner recipes in their repertoire. The same applies to snacks. Something that can be easily made, served warm, are filling and delicious. Savory rice cakes made with left over rice, fresh or frozen vegetables come to the rescue when you have made too much rice and the family will not have any more.

Add dices vegetables of choice for color (bell peppers, kale, golden beets, red kidney beans),crunch ( celery, broccoli) and protein (shelled edmame beans, drained canned chickpeas ). Technically beans are not veggies but they add protein to the cakes and make them filling. And as they are staple of vegetarian diet, they fall under vegetable category for me. The possibilities to customize these savory cakes are endless based on what you have on hand and what flavors you crave. Italian seasonings, mexican spices and even Chinese spices can totally render this into a completely different snack.

Rice being a binder, you don’t need anything else to hold them together. Add spices, mix and mash. Shape and either bake in oven or pan fry with a little oil. With a side of salad this can even be a filling meal. Colorful, flavorful and crunchy to boot. Not to mention the protein and the fibre. Make some extra rice ( or moong dal khichadi or risotto) just so that you can make these the following evening.

Am sure this will soon be a staple in your house just like it is in ours!

Crispy Left Over Rice and Vegetable Cakes Recipe

  • 2 cups left over rice ( or khichadi)
  • 1/4 cup Onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper finely diced ( red and yellow mix)
  • 1/4 cup asparagus or French beans , diced
  • 2 tablespoons green onions finely diced (only the green part)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves
  • Handful spinach leaves chopped up
  • 3- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 ” ginger root
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • A generous pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of hing or asafoetida
  • Pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (reduce if you are not a lemon lover)
  • 2 tablespoon oil (to fry)

1. Take rice in a large mixing bowl and break into smaller lumps with a spoon.

2. Add all the ingredients. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Shape the mixture into patties or cakes and set aside.

3. Heat oil in a non stick skillet. Fry them till golden brown and crispy on each side ( about 3- 4 minutes per side). Alternatively you can bake them at 325 F for 12 – 15 minutes till cooked through.

Serve warm with ketchup or mint chutney and onions and extra lemon. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Cinnamon raisin bread 2

Vipul’s parents are in town for the summer holidays along with his uncle and aunt. The day begins and ends with food and food plans. What should we have for breakfast/lunch/evening snack/dinner? They are determined to fatten us up while they are all here!

I volunteered to make cinnamon raisin bread one weekend mainly to give them a break. But it’s so hot in Hyderabad that I could not bear the thought of being in the kitchen and near the stove. Breads are perfect in such weather. You mix and knead the necessary ingredients and step aside for a couple of hours letting yeast do its job. Come back in knead, roll and shape and again step out to do your thing while yeast continues its work. Once doubled, the bread is then baked in the oven and ready to be served.

So, bread it was. But what kind? Basic sandwich bread would be too boring, something like a focaccia too time consuming… I wanted something basic with just a little bit of oomph to impress my visiting in-laws. Cinnamon raisin bread was what I settled on. It’s a little bit beyond basic, goes perfectly with tea and is not too sweet. Perfect.

Cinnamon raisin bread

I looked up a few recipes online and most of them were for 2 – 3 loaves of cinnamon raisin bread which seemed a bit excessive. If my experiment was not successful then who would finish the remaining loaves? I stumbled across a recipe from food.com with a built-in calculator for 1 loaf. Oh good, now I don’t need to do the math. Luckily I had all the ingredients on hand and off I went to make us some bread.

A typical bread requires some sort of leavening agent like yeast to make it rise. And the leavening agents need time to do their magic. They cannot be rushed else it results in a hard bread. Patience is the key here. Slow rises in fridge and an extra third rise is considered to lend deeper flavor to the bread than the standard two rises. A few hours and a movie later, as the bread baked,our house was filled with enticing aromas of cinnamon. Everyone peeked into the kitchen one by one to get a whiff of when the bread would cool enough for them to taste. Even Vipul’s dad loved it with a hot cuppa tea after his nap.

Cinnamon raisin bread 3

Chocolate Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread Recipe

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder

1.Heat the milk until it just begins to form bubbles on the edges and then set aside to cool.

2. Mix yeast in warm water and set aside for 10 minutes to froth.

3.  Cream the butter and sugar together for a couple of minutes and then add the beaten egg to it.

4. Add salt to the flour and mix. Add the egg- butter mix, milk,raisins and the yeast to the flour and knead into a stiff dough. Start with 2 cups of flour, adding as necessary to knead the dough into form.

Grease a bowl with butter or oil. Place the dough in the bowl.Cover with a cling wrap and set aside for 2-3 hours till doubled in size in a warm draft free place.

5.  Mix the cocoa and cinnamon powder and set aside.

6.Punch down the dough to its original size and rollout into a rectangle 1/2 an inch thick. Moisten the dough with the milk and then spread a layer of the cinnamon-chocolate powder on it.

7. Roll into a tight log (along the long edge). Place this loaf  in a well-greased baking pan. Tuck in the ends. Cover loosely with a cling wrap and let this rise for another 30 -45 minutes.

8. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 F till golden brown. Brush the top of loaf with butter once the loaf is out of the oven.

Let cool before slicing.

Serve with tea, coffee, with some butter or jam or as is. Enjoy!

Crumbly Whole Wheat Pineapple Bread

Slice of Pineapple Bread

We moved offices last week at work and a couple of folks asked me when I would bring in sweets to inaugurate my new office. I didn’t really plan on any such thing but do  I really need an excuse to bake?

I had a fresh pineapple at home, Vipul was working over the weekend, Varun was asleep – so it was meant to be. A quick search led to many recipes on Pineapple cake but I wanted a bread or a loaf recipe. Some tweaks led me to recipes that needed coconut milk, bananas or sour cream – none of which I had on my hand. I only had pineapple, eggs, whole wheat flour and bit of desiccated coconut.

I was about to give up when I found one recipe which had these ingredients and then I followed it. The bread came out to be lightly pineapple-y and crumbly but tasty nonetheless.

I let it cool overnight before bringing it to work. It was a perfect start to a Monday morning meeting. Totally unexpected, low in sugar and with a crumbly texture. Low efforts and high returns! Make sure you have enough napkins on hand to avoid crumbs all over your office floor!

Pineapple bread

Excuse the poor mobile camera photos – I didn’t realize that the loaf would be gone before I could take any decent pictures.

Crumbly Whole Wheat Pineapple Bread Recipe

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks ( drained if canned)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.

2. Sift and mix all the dry ingredients from whole wheat flour through cinnamon and set aside.

3. Beat the eggs with butter till pale yellow. Then add sugar and beat till smooth. Mix in the vanilla.

4. Fold in the egg mixture with the flour mix. Add pineapples and mix well.

5. Pour the mix into loaf pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top.

6. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool completely before slicing. Serve with coffee or tea as the perfect afternoon snack!

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