Everyday Food

Tilda Brown and Wild Rice flavoured with Curry leaves / Karvepaku Annam

Last year’s new year’s eve was slightly different for me. We were in India and the celebration was more a family gathering rather than a wild party involving alcohol. Well , this meal at a reputed five-star hotel did involve cocktails and spirits but we made sure we consumed alcohol is a more civilised manner to avoid things going out of control. I was really thankful for being sober that night as I could eat to my heart’s content and enjoy the massive buffet the hotel has laid out for the guests. The food was delicious and went on from the restaurant dining area to the garden and across the pool area. Street food, regional food, Indo Chinese, Italian , numerous desert stalls and everything was so delicious. Few dishes have stood out for me, Awadhi Chicken curry and a gongura rice which were very unique and extremely tasty. Out at the kebab counter , I got chatty with the chef who was making yam kebabs and upon enquiry the head chef was from Awadh. No wonder , the Awadhi chicken curry was spot on and the addition of gulouti kebabs made sense. Few minutes later, he introduced me to a telugu chef and we got talking about the Green rice. I was amazed of the different kinds of rice he mentioned and how popular these dishes are getting. The Craze is understandable because buffets have been typically serving pilau rice for so many years, it’s time for change and innovation .

He quickly shared the gongura rice and Karvepaku (curry leaves) rice with me and insisted I should try it at home. Both the recipes are quite easy and quick to whip up. Almost a year has passed and I remembered about these when I was brainstorming about what to do with the several Tilda rice I got given at an event/supperclub hosted by Tilda and Mallika Basu about which you can read more here . I cooked this literally hours before  we were catching a flight to India to attend my brother’s wedding. The intention was to write up the recipe  on the flight and post it immediately 🙂 . But as you can see, that didn’t happen. My laptop proved useless as the volts on the flight to charge was not enough for my laptop charger. There is my excuse to watch three movies in a row, a documentary about foodies while munching on the bread roll and butter Emirates served. As I landed in India I was bombarded with tasks to do for the wedding. Wedding preparations , especially for an Indian wedding in an unknown city managing so many relatives is definitely not a cake walk. However, in the end , it has been a successful event resulting in a very happy couple and our family picture is now complete with the new member joining in. We had the reception in the very popular Golconda resorts in Hyderabad and of course , my main focus was food ! We had two tasting sessions with the chef in order to come up with a perfect reception buffet menu. The chef was extremely cooperative and enjoyed creating specific dishes for us on request. We are really pleased how it all turned out in the end with deliciousness all over the party !

Coming back to the Karvepaku Rice , the main ingredient is of course ‘karvepaku’ ie, the curry leaves. The south Indian in me was already smiling with joy while I was picking and prepping the leaves for the dish because of the amount of leaves I was going to use. In most dishes curry leaves are used to garnish or you saute a few leaves into the curry. But here, the curry leaves are the main ingredient and you can imagine the flavour and aroma that will fill your kitchen shortly after you start cooking this dish. Curry leaves are known for their valuable medicinal values and are widely used in the Ayurvedic medicines. They are believed to aid in hair growth , reduce side effects caused by chemotheraphy, reduce diaherea, help with skin infections and many more. So, it becomes even more important to include the mighty curry leaves into your diet.

I used Tilda Brown Basmati and Wild rice because , we are a family who need their pure Bamsati for every meal. Now to make the transition from pure basmati to wholemeal, I need something delicious and full of flavour to coat the rice with and this curry leaf powder works wonders in that sense. Together with the quality Tilda wholemeal rice you will, even for one second, think that you are having anything less luxurious. So, pick up those curry leaves and get cooking !

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To make the Curry leaf powder you will need :  

1 Bunch fresh curry leaves

11/2 Tsp. Bengal Gram (yellow split gram)

1 Tsp. Seseme Seeds

3-4 Dried Red Chillies

1/2 Tsp Cumin Seeds

1/2 Tsp. Coriander seeds

1/4 Tsp. fenugreek seeds

To finish off the dish : 

Salt to taste

2 Cups Cooked rice (I used Tilda Brown and Wild rice )

4 Tsp. Ghee (clarified butter)

2 – 3 Spoons Roasted Butternut squash cubes

Few roasted peanuts for garnish

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Method :

Heat the pan and dry roast all the lentils and spices except the curry leaves  and keep aside .

The same pan , heat a teaspoon oil and roast the curry leaves

In a grinder , mix all the ingredients and make a fine powder or a little gritty if  you like a bit of texture. Add some salt to taste and there you go , a nice blend of flavourful powder is ready for you to enjoy with rice.

To serve : 

Cook the Tilda Rice as per the directions on the pack and fluff it . While the rice is cooking , dice some butternut squash and roast them in the oven. You can use any seasonal veges in this place to add extra nutritional value to the dish. But the sweet  butternut squash worked well against the strong and spicy curry leaf flavour.

Stir in some of the curry leaf powder prepared into the rice and add generous amount of ghee and the butternut squash cubes and mix well.

Garnish some peanuts and serve Hot. We ate it with spicy lamb fry and was a treat.

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Few pointers : 

The Curry leaf rice can be enjoyed with a variety of curries and vegetable stir fries . So, it becomes a really versatile dish to serve up at dinners .

The powder can keep well and fresh for up to one – two weeks , so stock up for those lazy night and you could just heat up a ready made rice to cuddle up on the sofa with a hearty meal

I have used both ghee and coconut oil with rice and they are both my favourite . coconut oil works really well with the rice especially of you make the curry to with using coconut oil as well. You can use any oil you wish …like olive oil .

you can use any garnish with cashew nuts as well and some sautéed curry leaves

You can also temper the rice with mustard seeds and more curry leaves if you wish

I hope you like the super simple Rice and I am sure this will come in handy when you need something to lift you up taking only a few minutes of your time.

Take care

Gayathri

Plum Jam

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Hey hey my lovely readers. I hope you all had a great summer. Mine has been amazing because I took a break from work, from blogging, from even house keeping 🙂 to spend the summer holidays with my son. I have had so many instances l couldn’t be around for him. Although, my gorgeous little boy (ok lets call him GLB) never complained, it does hurt when you have to miss a christmas production at school, or a concert because of work. So, to compensate all that, this summer was filled with multiple visits to various museums, lots of tennis, park visits, visits to ice cream parlours and numerous sleepovers with his cousins and friends. Ofcourse, I kept out of sleepover’s …err most of the time :). This super indulgence has gone so far, that now my GLB suggested that I should go back to work and also thought it would be good if the work hours are longer so he can spend some time with his friends. Oh well, kids are kids, they don’t understand the sacrifice we parents make. Staying at home and trying to be with them 24 hrs is not easy Hehe 😛 …(actually it is fun !!) . Ok so one of our summer outing was pick your farm. Now, kids love picking fruit an veg. Even the one, they don’t enjoy eating. It is a fun excercise for them and then the real test is when we are back home, you have plan all your meals for the next 20 days around the fruit and veg you brought home. Something like that happened to us. We picked huge quantities of plums. 3 Kilos to be precise. Now for first 1 kilo, I have managed to stuff it up my husband in the form of fruit and smoothies. He is our food disposal system most of the time. The rest of the plums, are going too ripe, so I had decided to go Jamming …which of course was a lot of Jam but everyone loved it.

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Now for the part of making the jam. I have used the most easy method I know. My mum’s mantra for Jam is equal amounts of sugar and fruit. But, if she was making this Jam she would have pealed the plums, but I didn’t bother. They were too many of them. But trust me, it is just fine…if you don’t have the time or patience, just leave the skin on.

And for the sugar, normal sugar is ok to use but it is easy to find Sugar with pectin in the super markets these days. It speeds up the process and thickens the Jam quickly. Pectin is a jelling agent that is found is citrus fruits. So, if you can’t find sugar with pectin, just add a little extra lemon juice to compensate. Now for the procedure :

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Ingredients : 

1 kg Plums (Yield will be  close to 1.5 kG)

1 Kg Sugar with pectin  (if you don’t have pectin – then add about 1 TBsp. lemon juice)

25 grams unsalted butter

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Method: 

Halve  the plums and remove the seed. Put them in a deep pan on medium heat to cook slowly. Once they release all the liquids in them and start to cook completely, add the sugar and lemon juice. Let the mixture cook again on medium heat untill all the sugar is dissolved.

Keep stirring occasionally making sure the jam at the bottom is not getting burnt. After about 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and leave it to cook again for 10 min. The jam should start to thicken at this point. Leave it to cool and repeat the process two more times of bringing the jam to boil on medium heat and cooling it down.

I do not use the thermometer to check the setting point etc. I don’t have the tools and everyone has their own preferences when it comes to how think or runny Jam should be. I check the consistency of the jam when it gets to room temperature. It should be obviously start to look like …’Jam’, and when you run your finger through it should form a definite line. If you are in a hurry to do this test, then just pop a spoon of the mixture in a bowl, put it in the freezer for a min and check the consistency. If you are not happy with the consistency, just place the Jam back on heat and bring to boil again untill you get the desired thickness.

I hope you like my a little tedious but easy peesy summer fruit Jam recipe and I really would like if you try it and share your thoughts on this post.

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A Quick Recipe to Make Kalakand!!

We all like simple and easy recipes. Every now and then, we want to be able to whip something up in minutes, treat the unexpected guests, celebrate the sudden success, and reward the husband on a rare occasion when he delivers (haha) . Everyone would like an impromptu treat. I don’t have massive sweet tooth but I would definitely go for a small serving just to remind myself of that fact.

Some of the Indian sweets I do like to dig in though is Kalakand. I have found that texture and the look bear a great deal of significance and factor into my tastes. Kalakand is usually not very sweet and has that brown ombre effect. Kalakand is usually a very long winded recipe, from reducing the milk, condensing and sweetening it and then setting it in trays. It takes hours of hard work and labour to get to the final delicacy.

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What I have today for you is a short and quick recipe to make this sweet. A recipe that is passed on to me by my mum. I have always counted on it during crisis when you NEED a desert. The recipe leads you to a quick easy and delicious sweet meat which you will love!!

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You will need:

370 grams  can of condensed milk (not sure why the weight is so odd and not rounded off on my can)

2 Tbsp. Full Fat Yoghurt

1 ½ Tbsp. Ghee

Appliances/tools :

Microwave

Tray

Greaseproof paper

Makes : 10-12 small Squares of kalakand

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Method:

Empty the condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl, add the yoghurt and ghee.

Give it a good stir and microwave at high speed for 10 minutes. Stirring at least twice in between.

You will see the milk has curdled and all the liquids have reduced. You should end up with a gooey, kalakand with its gorgeous aroma. Remove from the microwave, spread it in a tray lined with greaseproof sheet and let it cool and set

Now, I like it a bit gooey so I usually remove it from microwave in about 12 minutes maximum. You can always microwave for couple more minutes if you rather prefer a drier version. Once the kalakand is set, cut it up and enjoy.

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Story of Parental Guilt & Butternut Squash Recipe!!

Our Diet – Let me start this post with an honest statement. Both my husband and I struggle to eat healthy. We can eat light but just can’t eat healthy. We are, however trying very hard to change this lifestyle and be kind to our bodies. While we are at it, I am trying my hands on some delicious soup that I always thought looked good but never made them because there were simply no takers at home. One of them I was so impressed with was the butternut squash soup. Lovely colour and tempting flavours, and above all it was to my five year Old’s taste as well.  I have to admit that it is challenging at times to please all the taste buds in the family. As much as the fact that our diet is not an ideal one, we as parents have always passed on the good eating habits to our son. Well, maybe not pass on but at least preached all the healthy mantras. As they say practicing is a lot harder than preaching…….or rather preaching is waaa…y easier than practicing J  . Having said that, I am really proud to say that my five year old does not drink any fizzy drinks or even the sugary stuff that they sell for kids which they call juice except on rare occasions at a friend’s birthday party where all the kids are having it. But the fact is that he knows chocolate and sweets doesn’t have to be an everyday affair and the important part of meal is the greens. I have loads of instances where he doesn’t eat his greens, but I have never had an occasion where he wanted Mc Donald’s, extra servings of deserts or fizzy drinks. Fast food especially is a big no for him and I really hope he sticks to these habits when he grows. He even knows the difference between how healthy homemade food can be in comparison to frozen and fast foods. Of course, I thought him all that, but as I said I literally preached what little facts I know as casually as I taught him numbers and alphabets. And I honestly didn’t foresee the consequences

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The consequences – I was a regular cola drinker .And I know it can be difficult to stay away from it, if you are used to it. Trust me, it was easy to stick everything ill about fizzy drinks in the little brain of my son, but when he started talking or rather started questioning, that’s when I realised I am in a great trouble. My son started asking me questions like ‘cola is not good for me now …can I drink it when I grow up? ‘Or ‘if it’s not healthy, why are you drinking?’  And then one day I confessed to him …saying ‘Mamma also wants to avoid and is trying to’…  The amount of embarrassment we (the hubby or I) went through after that was both hilarious and enlightening. Every time we shamelessly ordered cola in a restaurant or picked up a crate at the grocery store we found ourselves in an embarrassing situation where a little boy is shouting at the top of the voice asking us to keep it back because cola is not good. It was hilarious at first and then you look up and find that we have now caught the attention of the fellow shoppers. I know they are now all looking at us waiting to see if I’d put the cola back or continue to buy it. After the embarrassment, it was the immense shame being told by a five year old followed by guilt and parental responsibility. I had many choices to deal with the situation- Ignore him, shush him, say that this is a grown up’s deal and that he can’t question a clever grown up, or even worse, let him drink fizzy drinks OR get my act right and step out of denial mode. I chose the latter!

And Finally – Kids are innocent!  They go by the rules until YOU mess it up. We have decided we won’t mess it up and are now slowly progressing towards a cola free life. I am amazed how my thirst actually gets quenched after drinking a glass of water.  The late night sips of cola just because my son was sleeping, making sure you get enough cola into your system at work so you won’t feel the need for it at home, the occasional excuses and pretence of giving it up have disappeared.  I have to admit that honest attempts of saying ‘no’ to cola are my proud moments. I know this is just a start and I have to make a lot of changes like this if I want to see my son have a healthy and active life.

Ok …..I have baffled a lot now! Coming back to our soup, I have looked at several recipes and explored the various flavours/techniques used and finally went with a mixture of ingredients that I liked and something that works for me and my kitchen. That is how I usually cook anything.  So, here goes the recipe!!

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You will need:

2 Medium sized Red onions

2 Red Chillies

3 Garlic pod

½ of a Fresh Rosemary Bunch

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

3 Celery Sticks

3- 4 Carrots

2 Medium sized Butternut Squash

2 litres Chicken Stock

Salt to taste

Fresh Ground Pepper

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Method:

Chop the butternut squash, celery, onions, carrots, red chillies roughly.

Heat about 3 spoons of olive oil in a big pan and sweat the Onions, Garlic and Red Chillies. Add the chopped Celery and Carrots and let them cook for 5 minutes. Add the butternut squash along with the Rosemary and cook for another 2 min. Add the chicken stock , season it and let it cook for at least 30 -40 minutes. Here, I took a fast approach and pressure cooked the vegetables.
Remove the pot from heat and using a hand blender puree the mixture into a soup. Check for seasoning.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, freshly ground pepper and crunchy croutons.

Enjoy the soup steaming hot!

Here’s to a healthy lifestyle!!

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