Tuesday, October 14, 2014

One Pot Sausage Pasta






There are women (and men) out there who feel that every meal for their family should include, but not be limited to rice, roti, a vegetarian side, a non vegetarian side, a salad, curd rice and a sweet. There are also super people out there who cook a fresh meal every time instead of re heating left overs. In all honesty, I don't aspire to be one of them. Seriously, this is not a case of sour grapes. It is just too taxing and I would rather spend my free time watching people cook five course meals on TV.


This one pot pasta is the kind of meal I would be happy cooking and eating during busy week nights. There is very less cutting and chopping involved, takes only about 25 minutes to be ready from start to finish, and leaves only one pot and a cutting board to be washed up. It has sausages, bacon, melted cheese and tomato. So delicious that everyone is happy.  


You will need

200 grams rotini pasta
200 grams mozzarella cheese, cubed
200 grams sausage, chopped into small rounds
100 grams bacon, diced
4 tablespoons ready made pasta sauce
2 1/4 cup water and two cubes chicken stock (or 2 1/4 cups chicken stock)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
To taste, salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

Heat oil in a large pot. Toss in bacon and fry till crispy. Add garlic and sausage and fry over low heat till sausage browns lightly. Pour in water and powder in the chicken stock cubes, followed by the cheese, pasta sauce and pasta. Mix well, adjust seasoning and bring to boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 to 18 minutes.

Serve hot. Thank me later !



Enjoy!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Fish Balls in Soy Sauce


It was a glorious day. The morning mist had cleared and the sun shone brightly through the thick trees making the placid lake shimmer. Birds twittered melodiously, fawn skipped around and rabbits sniffed the scent laden air. The world was perfect just as god had intended it to be.

Inspite of being the ultimate masterpiece of god's magnificent creation, Eve wasn't happy. She studied her reflection closely in the lake and worried that some of her beauty was gone. Her face had lost its radiance and she spied some fine lines and wrinkles near her eyes, brown spots on her cheeks and even some sticky chip chip. Her hair had five problems and no solution.  Her skin tone was uneven with her exposed parts a nutty brown and the rest of it a creamy golden. Eve liked uneven colors only on a zebra.
Her underarms were dark and her cheeks burnt with embarrassment at the thought that Adam might have noticed them when she raised her hands to get an apple on a high branch the other day. She would have lived with all of this if only her wardrobe was a bit more interesting. But she used the same leaves everyday and she was as bored of them as the trees in autumn.

Eve was scared that Adam would loose interest in her. True, there were no other women around, but what if god put Adam to sleep once again and fashioned one more woman out of his remaining ribs? Especially since god wasn't very happy with Eve at the moment. He was still sulking about the raucous party that hell had thrown after the forbidden fruit fiasco.

The thought of loosing Adam to an as yet unborn woman gnawed at her soul so much that she decided to take hard and fast action. She sent Adam away to the far side of the forest to fetch some exotic berries. He was reluctant to go because he preferred fishing to foraging. Lazy mutt, sometimes she wondered why she bothered at all. Anyway, Eve shed a few tears and he hurried away just as she knew he would. As soon as he was out of sight, she set to work.

The first step was to revive the romance in her marriage along with her lost glow. She made a mud pack out of the mud from the Ponds near her and applied it on her face and neck. The mud was rich in intelligent pro cell complex and immediately regenerated the dead cells on her skin making her look 10 years younger. Her spots visibly reduced, lines smoothened out and her skin turned 7 shades fairer. Flushed pink with her success (and with all the scrubbing involved in removing the Ponds pack), she proceeded to her hair.

Eve's hair played a very important role in her fond memories with Adam. In the aftermath of eating the forbidden fruit, while Adam and Eve were seeing each other in a completely different light, Eve's beautiful locks mesmerized Adam more than anything else. She remembered how she used her curls to fashion a moustache for Adam. After every argument, they used to tie their hair together to signal a truce and strengthen their bond. Eve wanted to put an end to the hair breakage, dullness and split ends so she could continue her hair games with Adam.  She garniered some fruitis and crushed them into a paste. She hoped that this paste rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, pro keratin, pro v and the rest of it would be the all in one solution she was seeking to all her hair problems. And her wish was granted! Her hair turned long and strong; she had volume, shine and bounce. Yes, she used up some of the berries that Adam had saved for snacking on later but she didn't feel bad about it because she was worth it!   

Eve splashed some licorice extracts, pure aloe vera and witch hazel onto her armpits and cocoa butter on the rest of her body. 

It was time to create her new line of clothes. She decided to start with a piece that was understated yet vibrant, chic yet traditional. As her inspiration was nature, she decided the main fabric would be tree leaves with a few flowers and fruits to adorn them. She toyed with the structure of the garment and experimented with proportions till she had it exactly the way she had envisioned. It had the back cut out, side slits and a flattering silhouette and the color made the brown of her eyes pop.

Pleased with everything so far, she took a bath in the warm springs. She braided flowers into her hair, dabbed honey onto her lips, rubbed juice from crushed rose petals onto her cheeks and slipped into her new dress. She murmured a word of thanks to god for providing her with all the Forest Essentials required to make things beautiful.

Feeling like the most beautiful woman in the world, she waited for Adam to return.

And there he was, huffing and puffing, bag of berries in hand and looking, well, tired. Excited, Eve chirped her welcome, paraded back and forth and asked Adam if he noticed anything different. It took a moment for the question to register, and when it did, Adam took a couple of steps back as if he had been threatened. He looked exactly like a bunny caught in a trap.

Did you redo the cave - again, he gulped. He looked as lost as he did that day when he failed to notice the new grass mat and stone bench cushions.

NO, you wouldn't notice anything about the cave even if there was a herd of elephants in it. I was asking about me. What do you think?

Adam looked closely. Your tummy looks kind of round. One look at Eve's face and he knew that wasn't the right answer. No wait. Yours cheeks are red. Did you eat the poisonous berries again? Um, no? Um...I don't quite get it. What is it?

Eve couldn't believe it. How could Adam not notice her radiant face, her luscious hair, the smell on her skin and the little bursts of colour she had thoughtfully added to her look.  Angry and hurt, she retreated into their cave yelling that he was not the intelligent human he claimed to be but just some kind of an improvement on the uncouth apes.

Taking this as the cue for a headache and no night time action, Adam went to the lake to fish.

Eve cried herself to sleep wishing she had a woman in her life who would paint her nails and plait her hair.

Fishing rod in hand and loneliness in heart, Adam wished he had another man in his life with whom he could fish and drink root beer in silence.




There was a recipe for fish balls I posted a long time back. I wondered if this recipe for fish balls in soy sauce would be mistaken for a repetition. But that's not possible, not unless you are the kind of person who doesn't know the difference between Midnight Blue and Prussian Blue, kind of like Adam. :)


Recipe:

Source: Vanitha, most probably
For the Fish Balls:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil + oil to deep fry
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1/2 tablespoon chopped green chili (or as per tolerance)
1 cup cooked, flaked and deboned fish such as tuna
1/2 cup cooked mashed potato
1 egg (yolk and white separated.
3/4 cup bread crumbs
To taste, salt and pepper

For the Soy Sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup fish stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons cornflour
To taste, salt and pepper

Method:

To make the fish balls, heat oil in a pan. Saute onion, ginger and green chili till fragrant.  Mix in cooked fish and mashed potato. Take off heat and let the mixture cool down. Add egg yolk and mix well with fingers. Shape into small balls the size of a lime. Coat with lightly beaten egg white, followed by a dip in bread crumbs. Let the balls firm up in the fridge for half an hour.

Heat oil in a pan to deep fry on a medium flame. Drop in the fish balls and fry till golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.

For the soy sauce, heat oil in a pan. Add onion, ginger and garlic and saute till onion turns translucent. Add chili powder and saute on a low flame for one more minute. Add fish stock and bring to boil. Add soy sauce. Meanwhile, make a paste of cornflour and water and mix in with the sauce. Boil and add fish balls. Let it cook for five minutes. 

Serve hot.

Note:

~You can make fish stock with the bones and head of the fish.
~You can toast bread to make bread crumbs. Or else use slightly stale bread. I used panko.





Enjoy!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cheese Samosas

If we can have Italian origins in the leadership of our democracy, we can also have pizza flavored samosas. There is no rule against it. And you will be surprised at how successful atleast some of these combinations can be.




To make these samosas, you will need:

7 samosa leaves ( 21cm X 7 cm)
100 grams cheddar cheese, grated
100 grams mozzarella cheese, grated
1.5 tablespoon ready made pizza sauce
2 tablespoon finely chopped capsicum 
Plain flour + water, to make a smooth paste
Olive oil, to deep fry

Method:

Mix together cheese, sauce and capsicum.

Cut each samosa leaf into 3 squares of 7cm x 7cm dimension.

Keep all samosa leaves covered except the piece you are working with so that they don't dry out.

Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture onto the centre of the square. Apply plain flour paste along all four edges of the square. Bring all four corners of the square together to enclose the filling. Press edges together to stick them. Don't overwork the leaf or it may tear.

Continue till all the leaves and cheese filling is used up.

Heat oil in a wok on high flame. Once hot, lower the flame to medium. Drop in the samosas one by one without over crowding the pan. (Since they fry quickly, it would be better to use a small wok, and fry 2-3 samosas at a time). Press over lightly with a spatula so that they remain submerged in oil. Remove with slotted spoon when golden brown and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper.

Serve your crisp samosas immediately.



Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Everyday Chicken Curry


Awkward moment: When your mom catches you reading the juicy bits of a Harold Robbins novel tucked in your physics text.  Or when your dad finds the wad of love letters to your favourite boy band hidden in the same physics text. Or when they finally understand how to check the browsing history on your computer and realize you weren't using it to study the Higgs particle. And they shout at you, "I was once your age and I know exactly what you are thinking!"

What’s that?! Your world turns upside down. "What do you mean you know what I am thinking? My thoughts are not all that clean. But you are aware of that from the browsing history. Surely, that can't mean...you don't mean...that you once had similar thoughts as I do now?"



Ofcourse, you don't say all this aloud because you don't question your parents especially when they are not in the best of moods. But it opens up a whole new world to you. You suddenly consider the possibility that the elders in your family weren't born as adults but went through the same cycle of innocent childhood, rebellious teenage and boring adulthood as you did. They probably ran around in shimi and valli nikar and pulled each other’s pigtails when they were kids. During their teenage, did they worry that their oily face and scary acne would put off their secret crush? Did their hearts skip a beat when they saw Vinodh Khanna fighting the bad guys and Hema Malini doing the Basanti number? And maybe they even failed exams and got mind numbing sermons from their parents! HA! It isn't easy to imagine that the parents who told you that you should be more concerned about a potential life partner's character than his appearance once dismissed a marriage proposal because the guy was a couple of inches shorter than Amitabh Bachchan or the girl was a couple of inches wider around the waist than Rekha

The lesson you learn is that you should never yell at your kids that you know every thought going through their heads. Because they are going to assume that you did every forbidden thing they are experimenting with now and unlike you, they will use this knowledge against you. Instead say that the kids in your day, including you, were just so angelic!


Recently, when my mom made this chicken curry and told me this was the first ever curry she learnt to make after marriage, I was taken by surprise. One, her statement meant that there was a period in her life - the pre marriage era - when she didn't know how to cook. Two, it was funny imagining a younger version of my mom learning to cook to impress my dad. I am sure he was impressed because the curry is a very good one. And frankly, I was once that age and I know he would have been happy with the effort even if the curry was the worst he had ever had.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mathanga Erissery (Pumpkin Curry from Kerala)





There are very few things I enjoy more than the elaborate Onam Sadhya that is eaten on banana leaves. Nothing beats sitting cross legged on the ground and enjoying five to six servings of rice, each accompanied by different curries, stir fries, steamed vegetables, chutneys, relishes, crisps;  followed by a large selection of payasams or sweets. I guess we are supposed to eat in moderation, but well, Onam comes just once a year and I always take full advantage of the sumptuous spread without a single thought about my poor waist.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Plantain Sweet with Caramelized Coconut


I feel horrified when I see someone shake a bottle of soft drink before opening it. If it is someone I know, I scream and reach the culprit in great leaps and bounds to rescue the bottle, the way a mother would react when she sees her only child balancing himself on the wall of a 20 feet deep well. I mean, everyone knows that once the gas escapes, all that is left of a soft drink is a sugary syrup that is undrinkable. But in its effervescent state, a sip of it moistens the eyes and a glass of it zaps the fatigue away.  And inspite of every evil thing that the world says about aerated drinks, I can't stand to see it wasted.


I feel an almost similar (but not so strong) emotion when people waste the best part of a birthday cake on the each other’s face. I would have my fingers crossed for the corner piece since that has the maximum cream (or mousse or fudge icing or caramel or whatever goodness people put on their cakes) when someone decides to take it off and smear it on everyone around. What a criminal waste!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bhindi Masala (Okra Curry)



In India, most women go to bed wondering what to cook for the next day's meals. And it is also their first thought as they wake up, long before the sun looks in through their window. Meals have to be healthy and need to satisfy everyone in the family; be it the husband who needs the food to be tasty but not get in the way of his efforts to attain that six pack goal, or the kids who demand a different thing every nano second, or the mother in law who has made it her life's ambition to find fault with everything you do. I would go as far as saying that women think about meals atleast once every six seconds unlike men who are said to think about eh, um, other stuff during this time frame.

As a woman, I can understand your pain even if I don't experience it myself (my mom experiences it for me) and I feel duty bound to give you options when it comes to cooking. And this bhindi masala is a curry that you are going to be super happy about.





For this curry, you need to fry plenty of onions till they are a crispy brown. The okra need be to fried as well till tender. Grind spices together and saute with tomatoes to make a beautiful, red curry paste that is bursting with flavour. Bring the curry to boil, and there you are! You would never have imagined it was possible to make something so good with okra.

Before you go to the recipe, check out the giveaway on my blog over here.






Saturday, July 12, 2014

Shahi Paneer


 

It's been a long time since I blogged, and I would like to thank my millions of considerate readers for not bothering me with emails and comments inquiring about my well being, though I am sure you were worried to tiny bits. 

Inspite of the long break, I have to start my post on a bitter note. All because of the receptionist at my office who refused to lend me a pen that she was idly twiddling about in her fingers. There I was, with a cheque and a deposit envelope from the nearby ATM and all I wanted was a tiny drop of her ink to write down my account number. But madam wasn't in a mood to share. She looked at me as if I had asked to borrow her husband, declared she had only one precious pen and continued twiddling it about with a smug expression that made me want to throw her across the room.

(Deep Breath)


As I walked back to my cubicle to borrow the elusive pen from my neighbor, shock and shame all over my (rather pretty) face, I couldn't help thinking about Karma, the "whatever you give the world comes back to you" thing. In my case, it's what I didn't give that is the root of all my problems. There I was, on a BMTC, laptop bag and fruits of a mindless shopping routine comfortably placed on my lap and the adjacent seat (didn't I say mindless shopping), when a woman asked if she could borrow my pen to sign her bus pass. But I was too lazy to dig it out of my purse. I looked at her with an expression of deep sorrow, declared I didn't have a pen and turned away quickly before she caught my lie. From that day onwards, I have faced a lot of difficulty in getting a pen or any other writing instrument when I needed one. 






 
I've heard people say Karma gets you for all your good and bad deeds in the next birth. This means that your fortune this birth is based on what you did the last time you were around. But she is giving me instant punishments for my bad deeds in this birth itself. (Yes, Karma is a she! If she had been a he, he would have been too busy watching the Fifa World Cup 2014 to be chasing around people). That, plus the punishments for whatever cruel deeds I may have committed in my last birth, and my shoulders are sagging slightly with whatever burden she dishes out.

But what if we have absolutely no control over what happens to us - in this birth or the next? What if everything is predetermined by a long bearded someone sitting somewhere on the clouds above us? It would mean that I was destined to be refused a pen by the receptionist and it had nothing to do with my act of refusal on the bus which was destiny as well. (It would also be the reason why I don't loose weight. What am I supposed to do if many burgers, fries and pizzas are destined to meet their ends in my mouth?)


 
Either ways, I feel a strong need to please whoever is in charge (Karma/the bearded gentleman) so that I may have better days (if Karma is charge) or the strength to bear whatever is in store (if it all comes down to fate). So I am giving away my copy of  "I Love Curry" by Anjum Anand . Yes, it is a used copy, but I didn't want to overdo things with a brand new book in case anyone got suspicious of my hidden agenda. The book is a delicious collection of 50 curries and 25 accompanying dishes from India. I have tried a few recipes from this book, such as the mutton roganjosh here, and they are a great mix of tastes to suit all kinds of palette.


That's the book one lucky person will get here. To win, 

1) You must have an Indian shipping address
2) Like my FB page here.
3) & leave a commenton this post!

The results will be announced next month!



Meanwhile, I have a delicious Shahi Paneer recipe for you. As the name suggests, this is a royal dish. But for those of you watching your waistline, I have included a few low fat options.
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