Plump Yellow Peppers stuffed with Ricotta & Potato

Plumpy peppers…a really old but all time favourite with all categories of people…I, for instance love to cut it into half and see all the juices and stuffing ooze out..it is a big favourite among Europeans and Latin Americans who use a variety of ingredients to make the stuffing. Different countries have different names for it…like Bharva Mirch (India), Pimiento Rellenos (Spain), Dolmah (Balkan Countries), Punjena (Croatia), Yemista (Greek), and so on and so forth…The common fillings used are ground meat, fish, cheese, potatoes, corn, rice and herbs. At times I stuff them¬†with boiled eggs too.
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Oh and don’t you just love the colors??!!
Today am not posting a recipe…but just the pics of a very simple yet amazingly delicious dish..its my kinda comfort food ūüôā

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Shikampuri Kebab (stuffed meat tikki/patties)

As usual…..I did the vanishing act, again ūüôā but have a good reason for that this time…Ma and Baba were here to stay with us in Melbourne…Oh! What a wonderful time we had together…visiting Tasmania where we went to Hobart, the 2nd oldest settlement of Australia and New Norfolk (a rusty old town rich in Antique shops dating back to World War II). We traveled a lot in the last few months, but in between I did cook..Baba and Ma, as you guys know, love variety and I wanted them to taste everything that isn’t easily available in India…from quails to new fish varieties like salmon, snapper, etc.., from veggies and fruits like fennel, butternut pumpkin, celery, persimmon, ¬† to ‘strange’ foods like raw oysters and mussels. In the next few posts I will share some of the recipes I that I made for them.

To start with lemme write about Shikampuri Kebab. Now the Mughals are praised for bringing in the concept of kebab to India. ¬†But it seems making kebab in different forms was a well-established tradition in India.¬†The Rajputs made ‘Suley’ or smoked kebabs with the game meat they brought in from their hunting expeditions. To preserve the meat they would spice &¬†pickle it and then cook it the next day over an open fire in the forest.¬†¬†When the Mughals came, they brought in their version of the kebabs and introduced the use of dried fruit, fragrances such as rose and¬†kewda¬†and nuts with the meat.

Interesting eh?! Anyways, going back to the post, here is the recipe.

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Easy Red Pepper Relish with Sun-Dried Tomatoes (a variation of Ajvar/ZacuscńÉ)

Relishes or spreads are an amazing creation I think…they make simple bread taste wonderful or can help you polish off a plate of fresh carrot/cucumber sticks (a wonderful idea for a canap√©¬†menu too)!! So here is a simple recipe for a red pepper relish, but I must confess that it was¬†inspired¬†by the Romanian relish called ZacuscńÉ. ¬†The first time I had it was when my Romanian friend, Gabi’s mother sent her numerous bottles of freshly made and bottled batch of ZacuscńÉ. Traditionally it is made by roasting tomatoes, red pepper, garlic, onions and sometimes aubergine (the Turkish version Ajvar usually has it) and then everything is cooked on slow fire for 2-3 hours till the veggies are reduced to a pulpy mash. In cold countries like Romania such preserves are made in summer for the winter time when it is difficult to get fresh vegetables. ¬†My relish isn’t this complicated, but I can assure you it does taste satisfyingly divine!!

Red Pepper and Sun-dried Tomatoes Relish

Red Pepper and Sun-dried Tomatoes Relish

Red Pepper Relish

3 Red/Yellow Peppers (you can also use an aubergine)

3 large cloves of Garlic

2 Tbsp of Chopped Parsley

2 Tbsp of Sundried Tomatoes

Lemon Juice, Salt and Red Chilli Flakes to taste

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On a medium gas flame, roast the whole peppers one by one. If you don’t have a gas flame, grill them in the oven. When they are roasted and soft, put them in a plastic bag for about 5-7 mins to make them sweat…in this way you get the charred skin off easily! Add the peeled garlic, parsley, red chilli flakes, salt and sun-dried tomatoes. Blend well. Check for seasoning and add lemon juice to make it more tangy. Serve with some freshly baked bread or use it to spice up your sandwiches and burgers!!!

Basa Fish Rolls stuffed with Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce

Dear Cousins!

How are you guys doing? I want to share a news with you! Hehehhee…no no..don’t guess, coz I am sure you guys don’t know (and trust me it not anything usual!). ¬†Well actually I bought a Guitar!! yipppppeeeee!! Since I was in school where we had those music classes, I wanted to learn Guitar. But I was too shy to go up to the teacher and ask her to help learn this instrument…Sandra Banerjee, our western music teacher at Mater Dei Convent was truly one of the best music teacher I have ever had. ¬†She was good with everything..the piano, the guitar, the drums!! Oh and her voice..I loved her powerful voice which would would remind many of Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act…..be it a hymn or a popular song, she was the best!! Every event, small or big ended with her singing the popular rock number of 90s What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes.

I still remember her running heartily from one end of the hall to the stage, coolly picking up the Guitar, and striking those familiar chords which would make the whole crowd roar and clap in appreciation….with her guitar and her voice she would wake up the likes of me who would be sleeping during an inter-school debating competition!! ūüėÄ All I did at that time was clap loudly and imagine myself singing like her one day….that never happened though coz you know how life is….I got caught up in the race to achieve goals….studies, exams, career…but now I have some time and thought, why not use it to fulfill my childhood dreams. Hence the GUITAR came into my life. Possibly I would never play like our teacher, but nevertheless her love for music would always inspire me!! My friends who have learned guitar themselves tell me that I need a lot of patience….so I just hope I don’t loose patience!!¬†Wish me luck and¬†then one fine day while you guys eat a lovely meal (like the one below), I will play the guitar for you!

Till then, I will continue with my recipes and today’s is one of them which would go very well with the music of the guitar in the background (I think). Its a recipe I saw in an old English style ¬†book from 1980. With a few additional ingredients, I present to you a plateful of soft fish fillets stuffed with mushroom in a white wine sauce!

Fish Rolls stuffed with Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce

Basa Fish Rolls stuffed with Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce

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A Winter Morning Tea with Egg n Cheese Pillows

Dear Rinki,

The barometer has been reading 14 degree C…its such a pain getting up in the morning, I just feel like burrowing deep into the quilt and hibernating till spring knocks on my window. Its not that I don’t love winters, I do. Especially now that the flowers are in bloom and there ¬†is early morning fog…that’s a favorite. A foggy morning, with next to zero visibility, and streams of smoke enveloping each spoken word, never fails to transforms me back to childhood. Suddenly I am five again, walking to school with ma, holding her hand, and feeling transported to a strange land where around the next invisible corner, something magical waited to be discovered. I have never been able to shake that feeling for a more prosaic one, maybe I never wished to.

Yes winter mornings are definitely special, sans the early morning tiffin making of course! But Thursday was special, it was Ma’s birthday. Wanted to surprise her with a special something to accompany her morning cup of tea which she relishes. So I made these soft pillowy buns stuffed with cheese and eggs. The perfect savory snack to go with her Morning Cuppa.

Morning Cuppa with Egg n Cheese Pillows

Morning Cuppa with Egg n Cheese Pillows

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Juicy Honey-Sesame Chicken Drummettes, Fried Eggs with Tamarind Relish & Fish Tikkis

Woooooooow Daibi!!! What a walk!!! I sure miss Delhi on such days….when I visit next time, please, oh please take me there again..coz I see new things that I never tasted…me and Niloy together drooled over your¬†Iftaar¬†foods post and the other pictures on your¬†DelhiByFoot¬†Facebook¬†page and took a pledge..WE HAVE TO GO TO DELHI 6 ON OUR NEXT VISIT!!

Didi, I too wish I was at one of Rizi’s B’day parties…managing kids or helping you clean afterwards would have been a cake-walk if I would have¬†had the chance to fill myself with all the goodies you make for these parties…I still remember the pictures of the self-made burgers that you made last year…yuummmm!! But lemme not stray with old memories of food again (is there something about food & memories, good or bad, they tend to linger on, don’t they?)… So¬†getting back to your last post, like you, some of my friends too have been asking me about a few starters that I keep making regularly..so here are some of my favorite recipes..please note that in this post the ingredients of the recipes are in italics.

Juicy Honey-Sesame Drummets with Grilled Butternut, Grilled Tomato and Avocado Salad

There are four amazing starters on this plate.  Grilled Butternut, which is basically half-inch slices of this buttery-textured pumpkin arranged on a grill pan and then sprinkled with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Just when the butternut slices are cooked (you can poke a knife in it to check) and slightly browned, sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Second is that beautiful Grilled Tomato where I cut the tomato in to half, cleaned the innards (Beauty Tip: don’t throw them..the juice and seeds mixed with one tsp of olive or almond oil and 1 tbsp whole wheat flour or black chickpea flour makes an awesome face pack or body scrub to reduce dark spots), stuffed it with lots of cheddar cheese and chives and then grilled it for 10 mins.

The third is an Avocado Salad or dip which as you know is called a guacamole.

The fourth is the very Juicy Honey-Sesame Chicken Drummettes! It is a bit different from the normal recipes coz I add a few extra flavors in it. ¬†For the two of us, I take 8-10 drummettes with skin (A whole chicken wing has three joints – one is the wingette which sort of rectangular in shape with the two skinny bones & meat in between. The drumette is the section that is attached to the body of the chicken and¬†resembles¬†a drumstick. The wing tip isn’t eaten normally). If someone doesn’t like the skin, they can peel it off by soaking the pieces in hot water. ¬†Then I marinate these drummettes in 1tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp tomato ketchup, 1 tbsp honey, 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp ginger and 1 tsp garlic. ¬†I also add grated lime rind and finely chopped coriander root in this (according to my Thai friend Paruedee to get the maximum flavor of coriander leaves, one must use the part close to the roots. ¬†She washes them thoroughly and adds the green parts to her curry pastes or simply throws them in a boiling soup). ¬†After marinating for 5-6 hours, I pan fry them with very little oil on mostly high heat till they are partially charred and yummily cooked ūüôā In this way, all the juices remain intact and you have these flavorsome soft and amaazing drummettes….gosh I am drooling!!!!

Fried Eggs with a Tamarind Relish

Fried Eggs with a Tamarind Relish

This is again a recipe from Paruedee and she used to produce this simple but totally delicious¬†starter/main dish from thin air in what the Germans say, an augenblick (a moment). ¬†So you pan fry boiled eggs and set aside. ¬†Make a table tennis sized ball of tamarind and soak it in hot water. ¬†In a pan fry some chopped red chillis (depending on how hot you want it) and then add the tamarind water, sugar and salt according to taste and boil. I like it hot, sweet and very sour..but you can tweak accordingly. ¬†Then slice the eggs into halves and plate them. ¬†Pour the tamarind sauce liberally all over them, sprinkle chopped coriander, mint and basil, and throw in a generous dash of fried shallots on top (here you get them prepackaged in the market, but you can fry some onions till they are crispy brown). ¬†I drizzle some more sauce to add an extra kick ūüôā And you can serve these with drinks or as a party snack for kiddies or if you have made a lot of sauce, you can serve it with rice too!!

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Fish Tikkis

I made these fish tikkis or kebabs for Niloy’s b’day party. ¬†It was again very simple…I made some 35 tikkis by mashing 1kg boiled Basa fish fillets (any boneless fish would do), 4 medium sized boiled potatoes, 2 medium sized onions and 4 cloves of garlic chopped finely, 2 handfuls of mint leaves &¬†coriander¬†leaves, 5-6 chopped green chillis, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 2 tsp homemade garam masala, 4 tbsp lemon juice and salt to taste. ¬†¬†You can do the maths if you want small amounts ūüôā With a clean hand roll out table tennis sized balls and flatten them into a shape of a tikki. ¬†Pan fry these with few drops of oil. ¬†The sheer¬†exhilaration¬†of producing 35 tikkis made me forget my blog and¬†I didn’t take any pictures!! ūüėõ

Let me know if you guys try these..sending lots of love,

Dakhina

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Hey Rinks,

I still remember those half-spheres of eggs and were they addictive or what…the sauce was to-die-for. Actually I always thought that the eggs were simply boiled, now I know that u did saute them a bit…

This is really simple, i am making this very very sooooon ūüôā

cheers & take care

Ramit.

Spicy Veggie Cocktail Nibbles with Tangy Sesame Dip

Dear Rinki

How are you today? How was the movie? I wish we too could have seen it especially Riz wanted to see Batman so much but to travel to Kolkata just now isn’t possible. We shall have to wait for it to come on DVD. On Thursday we were invited for a dinner party. It was an enjoyable evening out after a long time. The rains have played havoc with our social lives! The food was great. With drinks there was a delicious chicken pakoda (fritters) and fish fries, but for the vegetarian option sadly there was just some potato crisps out of a bag. It’s surprising how many Bengali’s are stumped with the idea of putting up vegetarian options when they have company. So I was inspired to share out my recipe for an easy vegetarian starter which goes great with drinks or tea and also wonderfully well with a steamy hot novel on a rainy afternoon.

Spicy Veggie Cocktail Nibbles with Tangy Sesame Dip

Spicy Potato Cheese and Carrot nibbles

Ingredients (enough to make thirty bite size nibbles)

Boiled and peeled potatoes                                        5 large

Bread crumbs/ fresh bread crumbled                   1/2 cup

Cheddar Cheese grated                                                                   1/2 cup

Carrot Grated                                                                     2

Onion finely diced                                                            2

Ginger and garlic finely minced                                1 tsp each

Fresh Coriander leaves/mint chopped                  lots!

Sesame seeds                                                                    1 tablespoon

Tomato ketchup                                                              to taste

Green Chilies deseeded and finely chopped         2-3

Chili powder (optional)

Mint Powder (optional)

Salt to Taste

Oil to fry

Method

Take all ingredients in a bowl, mix them well, squashing together with your fingers to form smooth dough like mix….if the mix is watery add more bread crumbs, adjust salt and seasoning accordingly.Form into tiny bite sized balls and deep fry in oil till golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel and serve hot with tangy sesame chutney (recipe follows).

There is no hard and fast rule to this recipe, please feel free to add or remove ingredients according to taste or dietary constrictions.The nibbles can be prepared before hand and kept in the fridge covered with a cloth till it’s time to fry.Crushed roasted peanuts can also be added to the potato mix to add taste and texture. 2 tablespoons of granulated soya meal which has been soaked in water and squeezed, can also be added to get a different taste. Mince chicken/meat may be prepared in exactly same method for non-vegetarian option, an egg maybe added to bind the meat.

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Tangy Sesame Chutney

Ingredients

Sesame seeds                   1 -2 tablespoons

Garlic chopped                  4-5 cloves

Red chili flakes                 according to taste

Chives (dry /fresh)          1 tsp

Tomato Ketchup

Salt to taste

Oil                                      2 tsp

Method

In oil fry the garlic with chili flakes, add the sesame, when a nutty yummy aroma permeates your senses and the sesame and garlic have turned golden brown turn off the heat and add the chives. Remove into serving bowl immediately to stop further browning, add tomato ketchup and mix. There you have it, tangy sesame garlic chutney in a minute.

Did you go through my post on Rizi’s birthday cake…We really missed you; you manage kids so well, having you around would have subtracted my stress levels enormously. I wish you would post your cocktail eggs with tamarind dip recipe, I remember making it years ago after I had it for the first time at your place in Delhi. I remember it was such a hit with everyone. I have forgotten the details of the chutney. Do share soon so I can make it next time we have company.

P.S. Am reading William Dalrymple‚Äôs The White Mughals. What an amazingly researched book and how it bursts so many misconceptions we have about our own history. I didn‚Äôt know that the Portuguese came to Goa before the Mughals, did you? ¬†I‚Äôm enthralled‚Ķ The book although a narration of real events reads better than any pot boiler‚Ķ If you¬†haven’t¬†read it try and get hold of it.

Say hello to Niloy, and looking forward to hearing all about his birthday celebration.

Catch you soon

Didi