Saturday, June 30, 2007

Baingan aur Paneer ki sabzi (Aubergine with Paneer)

I am chugging along in recipe and cooking-land in my skoro-skoro (local african word for an old about-to-break-down-any-minute car!) when a flash hits me in the eye, and I adjust my rear-view mirror to see a sparkling, fast moving object approaching from behind. "It's a beamer", I say to myself, as it approaches and wooshes by, overtaking me and dissapearing upfront.

Heee heee, that was the best way I could think of telling how Adt (a dear dear friend of mine) has evolved as a foodie. She's become an amazing cook, and has an amazing collection of recipe books and I am becoming a big big fan of her recipes!! This time, she's especially cooked for my blog a baingan dish for the JFI event. Baingan and paneer, a very unusual combination and totally yummy too. She adapted the recipe from the book, The Higher Taste.

what you need

- 1 large eggplant (cut in 2cm cubes)
- 200gms paneer (also cut into 2 cm cubes)
- ghee for deep frying (can use oil too)
- 1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger
- 1/2 tsp fresh minced green chilli
- 3/4 cup tomato puree
- 1 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp turmeric- pinch of hing (asafoetida)
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- salt to taste

1. In a wok/kadai, heat the ghee/oil to medium hot temperature. Deep fry first all the paneer, then the aubergine. Drain paneer and aubergine cubes on kitchen paper. Save the rest of the ghee for future use.

2. In a large frying pan, heat about 3-4 tbsp of ghee over high heat for 30 seconds (the ghee kept after frying can be used here). Stir in mustard seeds, chilli, ginger and hing. When mustard seeds start popping and people in the next room are coughing from the chillies :) add the tomato puree. Cook for another couple of minutes and add the rest of the spices. Stir to saute everything togethor.

3. Now add the aubergine and fold everything togethor. Simmer uncovered for 8 minutes. Lastly add paneer cubes and fold gently, cover and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve hot with roti or rice. Serves 4

Thanks Adt for this great recipe! I am sending it over to Sangeeta of Ghar ka khaana, as she is hosting this month's JFI and she has chosen aubergine as the ingredient of the month. JFI - is where we celebrate ingredients one by one and is conceived by Indira of mahanandi.

I feel the combination of aubergine and paneer is unique and punjabi enough to send to the RCI-regional cuisines (Punjab) event where different regional cuisines of india are celebrated every month. It was conceived by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine and hosted this month by lovely Richa of As Dear As Salt.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dev's lovely 1st birthday cake

NO, this cake is not my creation. I cannot be a computer engineer, study for my post-graduate degree, organize a birthday party for 150 people, be a mom AND bake the cake! And whenever I can't bake, the request goes to our cake baking lady and a good friend, Aisha. She's been baking cakes for us for 7 years now. She has an amazing ability to transfer my different north and south ideas into a beautiful edible creation. Everytime I ask her to bake a cake, its usually for an occasion. When we go through the design books she's got, I usually end up combining this design with that design, with a bit of this and that... and go away wondering how she's going to combine them all togethor. And then when I see the cake, I'm just left dumbfound and amazed at how beautiful it looks.

My son turning 1 was like the most special event for me ever, its like feeling that its my best birthday till date. I had to have a big bash and called everyone I knew. Offcourse there were skeptics who were saying, "Why such a big thing? Would Dev even remember this event?". But to me it is a big event and totally worthy of celebration. The best part is he laughed and played the whole time and didnt cry one bit!!! That just made my day!
When I went to see Aisha to ask her to bake the cake, this is what I remember telling her...
"I want a biiiiig ONE for the cake "
"...but for 150 people, its going to be a huge board size..." she said
" uhh, ya, okay then put it on a base, that should cover a piece for everyone" I said.
As I flipped through some pages I saw a square cake with a beautiful rainbow made with coloured sugar and just fell in love with it.
"...hmm cant we put this rainbow on the '1', it would be nice wishing him a rainbow... a promise for a bright colourful future" I said poeticly.
"hmmm..." she said.
"Oh please use warm yellow, red, orangy colours, he loves warm colours, no dark cold blaring blues, no dark purple and bottle green please"I said
"hmmm..." she said...
As I left her house, I thought to myself why do I make it complicated for her every time and tell her to add bits of this and that. Having a big 1 cake with a rainbow and only warm colours, is going to look like khichdi!!!
On the big day, as I was decorating the hall, the cake came in and I ran to see it...., and it was just amazing...... I was speechless!!! Thank you Aisha!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Trifle Green with avacado and kiwifruit

I love to make trifle for dessert when a small group of people are coming over or for a special treat. Its so easy to assemble and proves to be a hit with everybody. Usually I stick to a colour theme, and throw in fruits of the same colour. Sometimes seasonal fruits determine the colour of the trifle! Like when mangoes are in season, its Trifle yellow, and for peaches it Trifle orange and Trifle Pink with strawberries, and when there's no fruit around, then its chocolate all the way!! This time I decided to try green with avacado and kiwi specially for Meeta. It turned out yum, hope she likes it too!!!

what you need:

- 500gms of any sponge or madiera cake
- custard (vanilla) made out of 750ml of milk
- roughly chopped fresh fruit (here I used kiwi, pear and peach)
- 1 packet (50g) prepared fruit jelly (I've used green here)
- 250ml fresh cream
- 50gms icing sugar
- 1 ripe avacado peeled
- (preferrably) a nice glass trifle bowl or any glass bowl.

The amount of the ingredients above can be varied as some people would prefer more fruit as opposed to more custard or cake.

But the amount of ingredients above makes for around 20 people (when this is served for dessert!).

what you need to do:

Place, slices of cake at the bottom of the bowl. Pour in some milk to soften the sponge. Here you could easily use fruit juice, cream or liquor to soak the the cake slices.

Cover with a layer of custard. Custard can be prepared in advance (overnight) and used here. When preparing the custard, it can be coloured (with a few drops of green in our case) to go with the fruits too. I dont tend to use unnecessary artificial colouring so Ive just left it a creamy colour.

Throw in a layer of chopped fresh fruit. Really, we can put in any fruits here. Cover the fruits with a layer of fruit jelly. (Jelly usually has gelatin and vegetarians and can use the non-gelatin based fruit jelly that are made of agar-agar).

Repeat the layers of cake, custard, fruit and jelly. The thickness of the layers should be in relation to the height of the trifle bowl so that they all fit in. For example if the bowl has a short height, then put in thinner layers of everything.

For the top layer blend togethor the fresh cream, icing sugar and the avacado to get a lovely green fresh cream icing. The blending of cream with the sugar and avacado will thicken the cream in the process. Come to think of it, it would be great to ice a cake with this too.

Top the bowl with the yummy blend. Add in buttons of cherries, and serve chilled.

I'm taking this over to Meeta's big birthday bang, hope she likes this surprise and I get the bowl back licked clean!!!