Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Some changes and equations

I just want to announce some changes...

Fusion Food is now Soul Food

Dumela = Rachna

Rachna = Rachna
Therefore, Rachna is Rachna, and Dumela is going to fall off soon as it was causing confusion and people were thinking I am two people... and since for the first time ever, someone told me they like the name Rachna, Dumela is out.... (some letters have even fallen off already, and by the end of the week, the rest wud surely have disappeared...), I decided to change the title too, hope there's no confusion there.........catch ya all later... *

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Using Gud (Jaggery) instead of regular sugar for the syrup in this recipe takes these lovely paras to another level. This recipe is from one of my fav bhabhi, whose an ace gudpara maker. These can be stored in an airtight container for a month or two and is yummy in the winter months. The saunf also gives them a lovely flavour. I usually pop a couple in my mouth after lunch, which satisfies my sweet tooth and the saunf leaves a great taste in the mouth till the evening... this goes amazing with a hot cup of tea too... pure winter indulgence at its best!!

what you need:
- 500gms maida (all purpose flour)
- 1/3 cup (150ml) ghee/oil
- water to knead the dough
- oil for deep frying

for the syrup
- 250gms gud (jaggery)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp saunf (fennel seeds)
- 1 tsp elaichi powder

1. Combine the ghee into the flour to resemble dry breadcrumbs. Add little water to get a fairly hard dough (not too hard). Knead thoroughly to make the dough smooth.

2. Divide the dough into two. With the first half, roll it out to about 1/2 cm thickness. Using a knife cut out strips of size (1cm X 3-4cm). Deep fry the strips and and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the second half of the dough.

3. Combine the gud, water, saunf and elaichi to make a thick syrup. Boil the syrup until it reaches 2 string consistency (Cool a drop of syrup on a plate and stretch between two fingers to see approximately two strings). Basically it should be thick and should be solifying at the edges.

4. Quickly add the paras (the strips) into the syrup to coat them evenly and spread them onto a tray to solidify. When cool, store in an airtight container. Eat whenever you like :), makes about a kilo of gudpara.

Another entry for the RCI-punjab to Richa of As dear as Salt, conceived by Lakshmik of Veggie Cuisine.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How to make good chunky paneer at home

I love paneer (fresh cottage cheese) with a passion, and if it was possible I would use it in every dish. Bechara (Poor) hubby hardly tolerates it in the usual dishes. Once when we were on transit at the Dubai International airport, I ordered a paneer masala dosa, hubby was so disgusted at me for ruining a dosai by asking the waiter to put paneer masala in it.

Apart from my fusion uses my fav paneer dishes are:
- shahi paneer and all the millions of its variations
- paneer tikka
- paneer pakoda (my all time favourite - sigh)
- paneer parantha
- paneer pulao
- palak paneer
- khoya muttar paneer

I hope to blog all these classic recipes above some time in the future and not forgetting some of my typical fusion paneer bites too:

- paneer masala dosa - (offcourse as mentioned above) make masala for dosa filling and replace potato with paneer.
- kanchipuram idli - sandwich kashewnuts and small paneer cubes in the idli as you fill the idli moulds before steaming.
- have appam with paneer 'stew' - heee, i love this one
- slice a khaman dhokla piece and sandwich a paneer cube in between.
- paneer samosa....yum
- put a toothpick into a sweet (see tweak additions below) paneer piece, drape melted chocolate, and cool in the fridge... when set, its ready to eat....aah its sinfuly heavenly.

Then there is rasgulla and rasmalai made from chenna (unlike paneer which is pressed-milk cheese, chenna is drip hung for a couple of hours). Also I love to have chennamurgi (this is sweet and has nothing to do with any murgi and I have no idea why its called this) whenever I travel to Delhi. I dont know how its made, why that nomenclature and haven't seen a recipe for it yet. Maybe another delhite would know, Anita, have u had it in Delhi, maybe post the recipe :)?

I thought instead of making a paneer dish for RCI, i should rather post a how-to-make paneer at home recipe, since one paneer preparation from the list above for RCI-punjab doesnt give paneer full justification ;). There's nothing like homemade paneer and its so easy to make.

My dad is a pro paneer maker, the paneer expert at home and he says the amount of paneer yielded depends on the quality and freshness of the milk. For homemade paneer he usually travels to a village dairy about 20kms away to purchase fresh milk that they had been extracted that very day. The milk is bought in bulk to make yoghurt, lotsa different types of paneer. The paneer can be easily frozen, kacha or fried.

Here I am displaying how to make simple paneer that can be used in usual savoury curries. I use vinegar to tear out the protein as opposed to lemon juice, because I feel it gives softer paneer than with lemon juice. The salt and sugar gives the paneer a tenderness and is somehow more 'juicy' in the curries.

(To yield approx. 225-250 gms paneer)
1L fresh full-fat milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
100ml-150ml white vinegar

Some additions that can be added to the milk in place of salt and sugar and the corresponding paneer types that are yielded are (for 1L milk):

- 2 tbsp (or more if u want) sugar for sweeter paneer (eg for my choc-coated bite memtioned above)
- handful of finely chopped coriander leaves (for hara (green) paneer)
- 4-5 tbsp jeera (cumin) seeds (for jeera paneer)
- 4-5 tbsp finely chopped garlic or garlic paste (for garlic paneer)
- fried/roasted paneer for various recipes
- the crumbs can be used in bhurji recipes

Enough yapyap and onto the procedure.

Here I am boiling 15 L of milk, which gave us 3.65kilos of paneer

1. Pour the milk in a heavy bottom pot and bring to the boil on high flame. Avoid stirring too much.

When the milk starts rising immediately reduce the gas to low to bring the milk to a simmer. Pour the vinegar and switch off the gas. This will coagulate - start tearing the milk.

2. Now stir to help the vinegar act more evenly. The water left from the milk (the whey) should go from cream yellow to yellow green.

If the whey is still not greeny enough (like in picture above) it means there is still some more protein left in the milk, add 50ml more vinegar and stir. Let the cheese and whey cool a little.

3. When the cheese whey mixture has cooled a bit (the pot is not burning hot but more than warm) drain it through a sieve lined with a double cheesecloth or thin cotton. Collect the whey, and keep it to add to stews or make dough for roti or parantha with it. Collect the cloth that holds the cheese togethor, wrap it securely and place on a flat surface like a large chopping board. Place it where the cottage cheese can be pressed and the whey left in the cheese can keep dripping - like the area near the sink (where we keep dishes to drip after washing them). Flatten the cheese within the cloth into a squarish shape to the thickness desired (preferrably 1.5cm). Some people make it thinner though. Place another wooden plank or chopping board on top. Add a heavy weight on top of this, like a big pot full of water. Leave it overnight.

Dad chopping the paneer into perfect cubes4. The next morning, remove the 'weight', unwrap the paneer, cut into desired shapes, pack them in separate ziplock bags, freeze some, use some, and pop a couple in your mouth :)

They can be fried and frozen too. Chakde phatte and Enjoy!!!

I am sending this as a third entry to Richa of As Dear As Salt for the RCI Punjab for this lovely event, which has been conceived by LakshmiK of VeggieCuisine.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Dahiwala Baingan Bhartha (Smoked aubergines with yoghurt)

I know my hubby was a punjabi in his previous life and I must've been a malayalee. The passion with which he looooves makki ki roti with dal, aalo ka parantha with white butter, any kind of dhaba food, pakoras of any kind is beyond comprehension.

The same way, my folks wonder what happened to their punjabi daughter (me) and my changed taste buds when I go on on about the intoxicating onam sadya I had had, and the appam with stew (gosh I should make this soon), parip payasam, nool puttu, parip vada, thorans of any kind, aviyal and moorkootan.

One such punjabi dish that hubby loves to have with tandoori roti is dahiwalla baingan bhartha. Its a tweak of the usual baingan bhartha that is made with tomato and peas.

What you need:

3-4 large aubergines
1 cup of plain yoghurt
salt and chilli powder to taste

for the tempering:
3-4 tsp of oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
a pinch of hing
2-3 sprigs curry leaves


1. Roast the aubergines directly on the fire until they are completely charred from all sides. Keep the stem away from the flame and use it to turn them as the aubergine roasts. Cool in a plate. (Dont worry, its not going to burn the aubergines, it'll only give them a smoky flavour and cook them through.)

2. Peel the burnt skin and wash each aubergine gently under running water. Chop of the stem and mash the flesh of the aubergines. They can also be run in the processor.

3. In a bowl whisk the yoghurt. Add the mashed smoked aubergine flesh. Add salt and chilli powder to taste.

4. For the tempering. Heat the oil on medium high flame. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, hing nd curry leaves. When mustard seeds start to splutter, add to the yogurt bowl and fold everything togethor. Serve with tandoori roti or rice. Serves 4.

I am sending it over to Sangeeta of Ghar ka khaana, as a second dish for JFI. JFI is conceived by Indira of mahanandi.

I am also sending it 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.