Super Easy Mixed Berries and Chilli Jam

Part 4 – Easy Peasy Stuff

Now reading the title someone will think, ‘Is she crazy?? How can Jam making be hassle-free or easy??” Just the idea of making Jam at home evokes fear among most of us (till a few months back it was same for me too!! Didi, do you remember we made a Guava jelly once and my goodness, we spent almost a whole day for it!!!??!).  But I had an eye-opening experience about this seemingly difficult thing and decided to give it a try…

I spent a long weekend at an Australian farm here. What an experience it was!! Rolling hills with walnut and chestnut orchards; jumping Kangaroos and screeching Cockatoos here and there; a bunch of gregarious Aussies (and a lovely lady from New Zealand); and farm-style meals involving a wonderful spread of freshly cooked dishes as well as cold cuts 4-5 times a day……it was just AWESOME!! My friend from New Zealand, Mary served us some lovely preserves and very casually mentioned me the process of making them. She made it sound as easy as cooking rice!! She even cooked some berries to make jelly ring for us and explained that making jam/preserve was similar. Just boil all together!!

I have made 3 types of Jams since then and trust me they were lovely yet simple!! I make small amounts so I don’t have to spend hours on cooking and canning the jams.

Mixed Berries-chilli Jam and Spiced Mango-Chilli Jam

Mixed Berries-Chilli Jam and Spiced Mango-Ginger-Chilli Jam

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Feta & Spinach Cannelloni in White beans and Veggie Sauce

Dear Cousins!!

How have you been?? I know you both are busy doing things like preparing for a “school final exams” or celebrating Home Alone with Old Monk Rum, Whiskey and Friends!! Didi, you must be working very hard with Rizimon coz according to you, he doesn’t know anything or rather he is totally unprepared for his exams, right? At times like these, I keep wondering why many parents (even ours were no better) think that only their own child is the biggest ‘phankibaaj’ (someone who willingly avoids regular work) in the world and all the other children are all-rounders!! To this you would say, ‘Ruk, tere bachche honey dey (wait till you get your kids)!!” And I would reply, “Abhi toh nahi hai, toh gyan baantne do 😛 (I don’t have any now, so lemme impart some wise lines)!!” hehehheehee! Anyways Didi, jokes apart, how are Rizimon’s exams going on?

Daibi, you were here with me for a month….we talked and ate so much and even had our fights! Together we watched in awe Serena Williams decimating Maria Kirilenko and Milos Raonic giving a tough time to God of Tennis, Roger Federer but loosing at the end! We visited an Australian farm where we spent hours scouring a 100 acres property to find Kangaroos and ate some awesome Australian style farm food!! We learnt about walnut and chestnut trees and watched a 72+ man doing hard labour for 15 hrs in the heat (gosh that heat…I will complain about it in my next letter)!! What an inspiration Phillip was for us! In India, most people mentally retire when they retire from work at 60.  They spend their time after that worrying about their children, dreaming of grandchildren and slowly become rusty.  Whereas here people seem to be young even at 85! I tell you, its all in the head and heart! Anyways, so what I wanted to say was that I had a great time with you and now that you are gone, I miss you…..I don’t feel like cooking so much either..hence today am writing about a recipe that I cooked for you – the Feta and Spinach Cannelloni in my version of the sauce!

Spinach and Feta Cannelloni in Lima beans and Veggie Sauce

Spinach and Feta Cannelloni in White beans and Veggie Sauce

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Masala pomfret

Dear Dear Cousins,

Hello! Before the pair of you jump down my throat for abandoning “the food cause” …let me reassure you both that it couldn’t be further away from the truth. I just needed some time off to concentrate on other things… and the fact that we met up in the interim just added to the lull.

I can see that Dakhina you have been pretty active. I loved your post honoring your mum, whatever she might say, in my eyes as in yours, she is a wonderful cook…her simple mutton curry is a legend… and her tomato posto (tomato and poppy seeds)..I could write reams about that alone. Mothers are unsung heroes, how many hours they slog over the stove making something delicious to eat without expecting any applause in return. Our childhood was all about good honest home cooked dishes, sweets, savories…they did it all and so effortlessly.I can absolutely understand your idea of a dish thrown together with easily available ingredients which in the end belies its simplicity.

The dish that I am going to share with you today, falls in this category. I first had it on the open beaches of Puri at a sea side shack serving up the days fresh catch. It was simply yum and has become quite a favourite with us.

Masala pomfret

Masala pomfret

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Tomato and Basil Garden Bake

Dear cousins!

Its been quite long that we all have written letters to each other through this blog…but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been in touch with each other. My recent visit to India and the numerous messages exchanged via chat portals filled the time between my last post and this.  So someone will ask us now, why continue the silsila of letters again?? To that I would happily answer, I MISS MY FOOD TALK!!! Its not that we have stopped cooking, eating or travelling in the last 1.5 month; we just couldn’t catch up with our food blog.  Now I feel that I must apologise to our food and travel Blog for abandoning it like an orphan…Niloy has been making me feel guilty for quite some time now about this, but when last night I received a mail from Facebook saying, ‘You haven’t visited your Curry Cousins Page for some time’ the guilt reached another level…(I actually freaked out considering how much these sites and search engines know about us!! It reminded me of a discussion that I used to have with my friends like Chandni, Smaran, Ali and Mubbashira that in today’s world, someone is always watching….).

Anyways, coming back to my topic, let me start the writing again with a delicious yet very simple garden bake. One cold evening, when Niloy was away for an office party,  I suddenly had a craving for cheese…I ended up making this with whatever was left in the fridge!!!

Tomato and Basil Garden Bake

Tomato and Basil Garden Bake

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The Backpacker’s Food & Booze Haven in Delhi

Hi Didi/ Rinks…

It has been sometime I wrote to you both about my foodie adventures in Delhi…although the active exchange of recipes, stories, and getting nostalgic about the ‘good old days’ between you two surely makes up for the lack of communication from me..
I was surprised to see your creations from Tal…how can Tal be so cool is what I was wondering as I read through your experience of extracting & making goodies like Tal Coulis, Tal Crispy fritters or how even a spoilt cake has its new avatar as Cake Cookies…only one word for you both, Creativity!!!

But for somebody as lazy as me when it comes to cooking food, the thought of preparing such toughies is a scary one and currently the best I do is to haul my lazy ass to simply pick my wallet, hop onto the metro & reach any of the food-havens of Delhi.

And recently a few of my old friends joined me at a place which was a haven for its multiple options of foods & cheap booze joints, and which used to be our hangout spot especially during our college/1st year of our jobs…Paharganj, more popularly known for its almost infinite range of shoestring budget hotels & proximity to New Delhi Railway Station thus enjoying the patronage of travellers & backpackers from around the world is a curious mixture of the old and the new, the best and the worst of what Delhi has to offer.

Bazaars selling their wares & Gandhiji calling out for Peace!

Bazaars selling their wares & Gandhiji calling out for Peace!

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A Twist in The Tal (A new take on Traditional Bengali Palmyra Palm sweets)

Hey Cousins,

Monsoon has finally bid goodbye…for the moment at least. The rains have just shifted base…Instead of the skies it’s raining from every pore of our body! The season is well on the road to being that horribly sticky and sweaty post-monsoon kind of weather which we dread. The other day my parents came over as there was no electricity at their house for two whole days, can you imagine their plight… They came bearing a fruity gift from their garden. The Tal (Sugar Palm or Palmyra Palm). This is one pungent smelling fruit, sweet with sometimes a bitter after-taste. I love to eat the unripe fruit when the seeds are  jelly like and filled with a syrupy liquid, I also love to drink the freshly harvested, unfermented sugary sap called tal rosh. For many years I couldn’t stand the strong aroma of the ripe Tal, just as I couldn’t palate the ripe jack fruit. I think it has to do with the fact that as children growing up in Delhi we were not exposed to these fruits which are probably an acquired taste. Living in Bengal one can’t help being made familiar with such fruits, especially during the season when you come across it everywhere. Here in Santiniketan, these palm trees are a familiar landmark. You are most likely to be scared out of your wits with the sudden thud of a falling fruit right behind you, especially in the dark! Over the years I have grown quite fond of certain sweets made from this. Some like the Tal Kheer ( The pulp of the ripe fruit mixed with fresh grated coconut and thickened milk) and the Tal Boda ( Tal pulp and Rice fritters) is quite a favourite. Baba (father) wanted me to make something different with the Tal. I thought of making a quartet of Tal dessert, with a fusion of traditional and non conventional sweet platter. He was so enthusiastic about the idea that he helped me to extract the golden pulp from the fruit, which truth be told is quite a messy job, and one that I would have delegated to you , my dear Rinki had you been here : )

Quartet of Tal dessert

Tal Coulis, Tal Cake, Tal Fritters and Tal Kheer

My platter consists of four dishes – Tal Coulis, Tal Bora (Tal and Rice Crispy fritters), Tal Kheer  and a Tal cake.

To Extract the Tal Pulp  Peel the fruit and separate the three Nuts( there are usually three segments) cut off the fibres with a scissor. As I do not possess the traditional bamboo extractors, I used an inverted colander as a pulp extractor. Takes a bit of elbow grease and an unconventional method which works just fine for me. The important bit being getting the pulp out!  Just rub the fibre over the colander holes till the pulp goes through to the other side. Collect the pulp once all the fibre has been given this scrubbing. Pass it through a sieve. Collect the golden pulp which is ready to eat.

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For The Tal Coulis:  Extract the golden yellow pulp from the fibers of the fruit. Sieve well to remove fibers.

For The Tal Cake: (see Sinful Dark Chocolate Cake for basic cake recipe. Instead of Cocoa add 3-4 tbsp Tal Pulp)

For The Tal Kheer 

1/2 litre milk thickened till it coats the back of the spoon.

3-4 tbsp freshly grated coconut

3 tbsp Tal Pulp

2-3 tsp sugar

Mix everything and blitz in the blender. Cool in the fridge till needed.

Can use Condensed milk, but then don’t add sugar.

For The Tal Boda (  Tal and Rice crispy Fritters)

1/2 cup rice soaked for a few hours and ground to fine thick paste.

1/2 cup freshly ground coconut

3-4 tbsp Tal Pulp.

Sugar to taste

Oil for deep frying

Mix everything together to from a thick batter. Using piping bag pipe small rings directly into the hot oil. Fry till Golden brown. serve hot.

To assemble I smeared  the Tal Kheer on a serving dish, over that a piece of the Tal cake, a few rings of the Tal Bora, and a Quenelle of Tal Coulis over the cake. A few dots of the Coulis on the plate finished the look.I think the end result looks quite exciting…and the whole experience of the soft flavourful cake along with the rich creamy Kheer, the crisp Fritters along with the burst of pungent Coulis provides a complete Tal experience.

I know this recipe may be a bit difficult to make in Australia, but I wanted you both to have an experience and taste of the season. One may not always be able to eat in person but we can always devour with our eyes : )

Take care,

love,

Didi

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 🙂 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 🙂 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 🙂 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!! 😛

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 🙂

cheers & take care

Ramit.