Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Mixed Vegetables Fritters (Pakoras)

Nothing can be more blissful on a rainy day than to be curled up in your bed, reading a book while sipping a steaming hot cup of tea and a crunchy snack to munch on.
Ideally a bowl of peanuts or chips would suffice for me but today I decided to be a bit naughty!!
Normally I resist anything deep fried but today all my resolutions went out of the window and I decided to make mixed vegetable fritters/pakoras to have with my tea. I know even if I breathe air, it all goes and settles down on my hips but what the hell, once in a while it is okay to throw caution to the winds, put down your guard and indulge in the things you enjoy!! 
These pakoras are an all time favorite snack in India - extremely simple to make and truly delicious.They are also popularly known as bhajiyas. There are endless variations of making these pakoras. This recipe calls for potatoes, onions and spinach but you can also make them with eggplant slices, cauliflower florets or jalapenos. My favorite is green chillies stuffed with potatoes - really makes the smoke come out of your ears but oh!! it is so worth it.
You can easily find the chick pea flour, also called 'besan' or 'gram flour' in any Indian or South Asian grocery store.  .
Serves 4-6
  • 1 cup potato, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup packed spinach, roughly chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 cup chickpea flour/ besan
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • water as required to make a slightly thick batter (i used about about 1/4 cup)
  • oil for frying

Heat oil in a medium sized saucepan till hot. (You can also insert a deep fry thermometer till it reads 300.
In a bowl combine chickpea flour, cumin seeds, salt and 1/4 cup water and stir for 3-4 minutes till you form a smooth batter.
Stir in the potatoes, onions and spinach leaves.
Working in small batches, drop about 2 tsp- size amount mixture into the hot oil, turning as needed until golden and crisp, about 5-6 minutes.
Repeat this process till all the batter is used up.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pakoras to paper towels to drain.
Serve hot with tomato sauce or coriander chutney and don't forget your cup of tea!! 

Monday, 11 April 2016

Sichuan Boneless Chicken: Philips Airfryer Recipe

Chinese cuisine is hands-down the favorite in my family whenever we decide to eat out. I have tried to recreate some of our favorite recipes at home and I can say that no one was really disappointed.
The cuisine of Sichuan province in Southwestern China has become quite popular  in recent years. Here is a typical Sichuanese dish with a hard hitting sauce combining hot, sweet sour and salty flavors. The sauce also goes well with Turkey, pork or small meatballs. The best part - it is quick and easy to make.Don't we all just love that!!
Instead of deep frying the chicken in oil, I have used the Philips Airfyer to cook it (trying my best to save on calories in any possible way), but you like, you can go ahead and either stir fry or deep fry the chicken to cook it.
On one of my excursions to Costco, I was thrilled to find this great Nordic Ware 14" Asian wok. For $14.99 I think it was a deal. Even though it is non-stick it gives a nice sear to the noodles. I have also tried some fried rice and vegetables and they both got cooked with great consistency. 
You can serve the Sichuan Chicken with fried rice or Hakka noodles.

This recipe has also been published inThe Urban
Recipe adapted from "A Wok for all seasons" by Celebrity Chef Martin Yan
Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 

2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp cornstarch
4 Tbsp beaten egg
1/2 tsp all purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste  
4 chicken breast halves, skinned, boned and cut into 1/4" strip

Sichuan spicy sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp shao Hsing wine or dry sherry
4 tsp rice vinegar 
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/4 tsp sugar

To make the chicken:
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 green onion (including the top leaves) thinly sliced 
6 whole dried red chilli peppers
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water

Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat.
Set aside for 30 minutes. 
Preheat Philips Airfryer to 360 F. Place the chicken in the airfryer basket and cook for 6 minutes. 
Raise the temperature to 390 F and cook for 4 more minutes till the chicken is brown and crispy. Remove chicken and keep aside
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk to mix and keep aside.
Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, garlic, ginger, green onion and chilli peppers and cook stirring until fragrant for about 5 seconds.
Stir in the sauce and bring to a boil.

Add in the cornstarch and boil till the sauce starts to thicken slightly. 

Add in the Stir-fried chicken and stir to coat completely in the sauce.

Serve warm with noodles or fried rice. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Classic Carrot cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie. ~Jim Davis
There was a time when you would always find cake in my refrigerator!! Seriously, it was a joke amongst friends that anytime they would visit, they would without a doubt get to eat cake.
Everyone in my house loves cake so much that before a batch of cake finished the next one was popped into the oven to bake.  Don't judge us- it was meant more for the kids as they loved taking a piece of cake in their lunchbox everyday (not only for themselves but their friends too!!). This gave me plenty of opportunity to experiment new recipes. There was no reason to complain because I absolutely looooove baking cakes....for friends, family, neighbors, birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, or just without a reason when the mood for baking strikes me.
Sometime back my daughter told me that she is cutting down on sugar (Yes!! You guessed it, she is a teenager!! Just joking!! She will kill me if she reads this!!). Actually she had a severe bout of acne and felt that cutting down on sugar might help make things better. So, we decided not to have cake lying around the house to avoid any temptations. Well!! That lasted for some time and then she had a craving for eating a carrot cake with Cream Cheese icing. 
So here we are!! That is how I came around making this carrot cake which is a bit unusual in our house as usually everyone is cheering for a dark chocolate cake, but who am I to complain? As I told you before I love to bake and need the slightest of reasons to start whipping up a cake batter. 
What I loved about this cake was that it was a breeze to make and turned out so light and moist. Usually the recipes I have tried before were not so successful with the cake turning out heavy and really dense but this recipe turned out perfect. I actually just dumped the batter in a food processor and whipped up the batter within minutes- no extensive whipping or beating for a long time-it was so simple and the end result was outstanding. 
I must say this is one great way to eat up your veggies!! 

Ingredients (recipe minimally adapted from Chowhound)
Serves 8-10

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp all-spice powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup  butter, melted
5 cups carrots, grated
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Chopped pecans or sliced almonds for decorating (optional)
  • Heat the oven to 350F.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, all-spice powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, whisk together the eggs, sugars, oil, melted butter, sour cream and whisk for 2-3 minutes till thoroughly combined. Add in the flour mixture and whisk again till thoroughly mixed.
  • Stir in the carrots and yes...whisk again for a minute till everything is well incorporated.
  • Pour the batter in a greased bundt cake pan or any 9" pan of your choice.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes rotating the pan midway after 20 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, confectioners sugar and vanilla essence till smooth and fluffy. Spread on the cooled cake. Decorate with chopped pecans or sliced almonds.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Easy Green Bean Casserole

Easy-peasy and oh-so delicious!! 
Creamy veggies and crunchy onion toppings - this dish is perfect to make for a weekday dinner when you don't want to spend too much time slogging it off in the kitchen. 
The Green Bean casserole was concocted in 1955 by Campbell's Kitchen head Dorcas Reily. This recipe landed Reilly a spot in the Inventors Hall of fame in 2002 and after tasting the dish I know exactly why!!
Try it out and you too will fall in love with  this version and I can assure you that like for me, it will become your new go-to recipe for making the perfect green bean casserole.

4 cups sliced green beans
3 cups chicken broth
1 can(10 3/4 ounce) cream of mushroom soup
1 cup french fried onion rings 
1/2 tsp garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheddar

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Boil the green beans in the chicken broth for 10 minutes till slightly softened, and then drain.
  • Mix the green beans, mushroom soup, onion rings, garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
  • Pour into a greased 11/2 quart baking dish.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then top the casserole with the cheddar and bake for further 10 minutes till the casserole is hot and cheese is melted and bubbling.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Citrus Fruit Salad

As the weather turns warmer and you bid goodbye to winters, welcome this beautiful salad with a burst of flavors from the citrus fruits tossed with salad greens and fresh herbs. Its so light, refreshing and so easy to make that you will want to have it everyday. It pairs well with most side dishes. 

Grapefruits, Oranges, Tangerines 
3 cups mixture of spring greens (lettuce, arugula, baby spinach, red leaf), washed and dried
1/4 cup fresh mint, torn into pieces
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Orange Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Chop all the citrus fruits into bite sized pieces.
  •  Chop the spring greens.
  • Add mint and pecans.
  • In a small bowl add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette together and whisk till they get mixed.
  • Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat thoroughly.
  • Enjoy!!