Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest Chef: Mr Shankar Nagendra - the GoTo guy for Ribs!

Shankaranna is my dads youngest sisters husband. As a Sri Lankan, he shares our love for food in general and spicy food in particular. When they visited India earlier this year, we were fortunate enough to celebrate Holi with them and we got to meet them again in August, when we visited Canada.

Shankar makes the most amazing pork ribs I have ever eaten in my life. Honestly if I lived closer to these uncles of mine, I would never ever visit a restaurant again. The food they cook is so mindblowing, that restaurant food can never match up.

Their son Avinash assured me that it was his mum Yasmin who did all the hard work of going to the market, buying the ingredients, prepping and marinating them, while dad just hovered over the grill, sipping beer and  turning stuff over. Even if I were to believe him, his dad still possesses the formidable skill of being able to cook ribs that just melt away from the bone. 3 months down the line, I'm still salivating at the memories of these ribs.

The Ribs

The chicken was just smoking on the top rack while everything else was cooking below.

With some of the salads

A Fattoush kinda of salad with sprouted gram added too

I promise you, there were some veggies under all that cheese :)

The smoked chicken

Blueberry trifle for dessert

Masterchef Shankaranna

It was wonderful to be able to spend time with Yasmin, Shankar and their kids - my youngest cousins on my dads side. This was my husbands first visit to Canada and he was meeting a lot of my family for the first time. They all made him feel so welcome, that he says he will consider the option of retiring there on the condition that my family keeps cooking and I let him buy a vineyard in the Niagra region. LOL

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Guest Chef: Mr Ossie Rosario - BBQ Specialist

Most of my aunts (moms & dads sisters) have chosen husbands very wisely. These uncles of mine are excellent cooks and in many cases, churn out better food than their wives. :) Although the wives help out a lot in the prep and mis en place.

On our trip to Canada in August, it was a fantastic opportunity to eat meals that they had lovingly prepared for us and I hope to be able to dedicate a blog post to each.

Uncle Ossie is the husband of one of my dads sisters and all my cousins in Canada wait for an invitation for a meal at their house. Uncle Ossie's Xmas cake is a marvel, in how it stays together with hardly any flour in the mix. It lasts for years in the refrigerator, as we zealously hoard our portions until assured that another batch is on its way to wherever we are currently located.

August is lovely weather in Canada every meetup was an occassion for a Barbeque. So here are the pictures from Uncle Ossies Barbeque. No recipes, because the secret to this food is not in the recipes, its in the love put into its preparation. The massaging and curing of the meat, the slicing of steaks of equal size and the cooking to perfection. The husband and I resoundingly agree that these steaks were the best we have ever had, firmly pushing our previous favourite "Ruths Chris Steakhouse" to Second Place.

Unfortunately steaks don't keep as well as Xmas cake does, so we couldn't carry any back with us :(

The marinating meat

Is gently placed on the grill

Well done for most of the family

Medium rare for us - it still melted in our mouth

Uncle Aussie gets some veggies on the grill

The vegetables getting grilled in their pans

The meal, once laid out

Some freshly tossed Ceasar salad

My first plate - I lost count of how many steaks I ate
The orange sticks are butternut squash made by another Aunt -  Belinda - which reminds me that I have to get that recipe from her and try it out with the local pumpkins

Sticking to the theme the dessert was also grilled

First Uncle Ossie grilled some cake and then some pineapple rings

1 layer of BBQ'ed sponge cake, followed with a layer of BBQed pineapple and a scoop of lovely ice cream

The next day, Uncle Ossie took us sightseeing and still brought us home and feed us home made burgers before dropping us to the station for our onward journey to Montreal.

A huge thanks to Uncle Ossie and Aunty Aureen for being such wonderfully warm and welcoming hosts and amazing cooks. We wish we stayed closer to you guys, even though it would be terrible for our waist lines.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recipe : Home Made Stuffed Naan on a Gas Stove Tandoor

In the run up to Diwali, my husbands mom and maami are beseiged with menu requests from their husbands and visiting children. On Chhoti Diwali, the final consensus was for stuffed naan and paneer ki sabji.

I have to mention here, that my husbands mom and maami cook almost identically to each other without the aid of any written recipes. On a blind taste test it would be almost impossible to identify who cooked what. So its equally difficult to identify whom to attribute a recipe to and hence I will alwasy attribute it to them both.

There are 2 ways to make naan at home. The instant way is to mix maida (plain flour) with a bit of sugar and salt and then make the dough using only soda water. The dough is ready for rolling after resting for 5-10 minutes. You can also rest this dough for a couple of hours if you prefer.

But if you have enough time to rest the dough, you will get tastier naans by mixing maida (plain flour) with a bit of sugar and salt, a teaspoon of ghee or butter, a little cream, a little yoghurt and a bit of yeast. If you do not want to use yeast, you can again just make a dough with soda water. Rest this dough in a warmish place, so it can rise. If using yeast, let it rise for at least 8 hours.

The main equipment you need, to make authentic naan at home is a tandoor. A coal burning tandoor isn't practical for most homes and the electric tandoors take up too much place if you live in an apartment and only use it occassionally. My mom-in-law has an ingenious contraption that fits over a regular gas burner but works like a tandoor. This needs to be preheated before you can start using it, much like how an oven would operate.

This time they decided to stuff the naans with paneer or grated cheese, so there were 2 varieties of stuffed naans that were being rolled out simultaneously.

Mami was working so quickly with her hands, I had to get her to stop and work in extreme slow motion so I could capture the basic steps.

Flatten out a ball of dough.

Drop some stuffing on it.

Draw the edges to the top and crimp shut.

Carefully flatten again, so the stuffing does not pop out.

Roll out the naans.

There are 2 ways of doing the next step. The traditional method would be to lightly moisten the inside of the dome of the tandoor contraption and stick the naan onto that. Giventhat it is burning hot, the easier option is to lightly pre fry the naans on a tawa kept on a low flame.

Then place the pre fried naans on the grill of the tandoor.

Keep turning over every minute or so until done.

Dot lightly with melted butter and serve hot with a bowl of steaming curry/korma like the paneer gravy below.

Edited on 29 Oct 2011 to add:

My friend Michelle from Food, Football and a Baby asked for better quantities, so upon checking, its roughly
1 cup maida (plain flour), salt to taste, sugar about a teaspoon or more if you want it sweeter, cream 1 teaspoon, yoghurt 1 tablespoon, ghee/butter - 1 tsp and enough soda water to make the dough (no other liquid at all). They prefer not to use yeast in general.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recipe: Food made from Prashad of Gaay-Bachde ki Puja

The day before Dhanteras (i.e. 3 days before Diwali) is celebrated as Gaay-Bachde ki Puja - veneration of cows and calves by some families in UP. My husbands Naani (maternal grandmother) and Maami (mothers brother's wife) observe this, while his mother doesn't. (From what I have come to understand, married women here, observe the rites and rituals followed by the matriarchs of their husbands family and add on any rites and rituals from their own families if they feel very strongly about them - There are so many festivals and rituals in the UPite Hindu Calendar that there is ample choice to pick and choose.)

On this day, the women offer various kinds of grams/dhals/lentils to a cow and her calf and for the whole day, they only eat foods made from grams/dhals/lentils or their flours (primarily besan). While lentil soup/dhal seems the most straight forward option, it feels weird to eat just that without rice or rotis. So pakodas (deep fried balls) are what tends to be made of these dhals.

We reached after the puja was over, so I unfortunately don't have any pictures of that, but I do have plenty of pictures of the food.

Any kind of dhal needs to be soaked before it can be ground for pakodas. Urad dhal needs the longest time 6-8 hours. Channa dhal needs 4-6 hours and moong dhal can be soaked for an hour or so.

To make the pakodas, the soaked dhal is ground to a paste with enough water. You can then add flavourings like onions, green chilli, coriander leaves, ginger. But technically you only mix enough for them to be flavourings, but not so much that they turn into onion pakodas.

Urad dhal pakodas aren't very tasty on their own or even with cuttings, so these get turned into dahi vadas. Just grind soaked urad dhal, you can add a little ginger and green chilli if you like. Personally I also like to split a few raisins in half and add it to the batter. Drop little balls of batter into hot oil and deep fry.

As soon as you take them out of the pan, they are dropped into a bowl of water. If you want to cool them first, then they need to be soaked in hot water later. Soak for about 5-10 minutes (depending on size of your pakodas/vadas). Then squeeze out all the liquid from the soaked vadas.

Layer them in a deep bowl. Pour lightly whipped curd/yoghurt over these vadas.

Sprinkle with chilli and jeera powder.

Serve topped with sweet and sour chutneys.

Mamiji made some pakodas with channa dhal and some with moong dhal, some with onions and some without.

While most of us kept merrily popping these golden balls of deep fried goodness into our mouths, those who wanted a slightly more substantial snack, smashed them between slices of bread for a more filling option.

Guest Chef - Mrs Anju Mishra

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Recipe: Manglorean Tendli (Gherkin) Fry (Vegan)

Tendlis are one of my favourite vegetables. Its one of the few veggies that really retains its crispness and also absorbs the flavour of whatever you cook it with.

The tendlis available here in Guwahati are very different than the ones we get in Mangalore. Manglorean tendlis are thin and long, the ones I got here are shorter and fatter and hence take longer to cook, but the taste is the same.

Looking at the seeds, tendlis are more likely to belong to the cucumber family, rather than the parval family, but I'm not too sure about this.

 200 gms tendlis quartered vertically
1 onion chopped
2 dry red chillis
4-5 methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
7-8 peppercorns (optional for heat)
1 tsp jeera (cumin)
2 tsp channa dal
2 tsp urad dhal
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp vegetable powder
1-2 tsp tamarind paste
salt to taste
1-2 tsp of dessicated or fresh coconut to taste (optional)
1 sprig curry leaves (I've run out and they aren't available here, so I haven't used them)
1-2 tsps oil (preferably coconut, but any other refined oil is ok)

Take a look at the Manglorean tendlis to see what I'm talking about regarding size.

Keep all the seasoning ingredients ready, so you aren't fumbling when its time to put them in. (since there are so many of them, the risk of them burning while you search for ingredients is quite high)
 Heat a pan (the wider the surface the better), add the oil to it. Now add seasoning ingredients in the following order: methi, peppercorns, channa dhal, urad dhal, jeera, curry leaves, red chilli, mustard seeds. The spacing between each is dependant on how long each one takes to cook and to avoid burning.
Add the onion and coconut, fry lightly for a minute or so.
Then add the quartered tendlis and fry on low heat.
When half cooked, add the tamarind paste (if its commercial check the salt content and dilute in a bit of water, so that it will spread out rather than stick in a ball) and vegetable powder.
Conitnue to cook on low heat until done.
Serve hot with rice and dhal or rotis.

This is a dish prepared by the Konkana community in Mangalore. I have also seen a version of this cooked in Andhra Pradesh.


Related Posts with Thumbnails