Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gobhi Manchurian

My friend, L., celebrated her birthday this past week, and in honor of her special day, she hosted a potluck dinner for all of us to share in. So of course, I wanted to make something special and delicious for all of our friends to relish. My first thought was, as usual, a cake or other sweet treat. However, given my lack of adequate baking supplies and the fact that there were already going to be multiple desserts, I instead decided to go for a savory delight and try my hand at something very different. Gobhi manchurian proved just the answer. A staple of Indo-Chinese cuisine, many of us Indians have been lucky enough to have sampled this true delicacy. However, Indo-Chinese remains very much unknown to the practically everyone else. So, as I love gobhi manchurian, I decided I would whip up a batch for everyone to sample, slightly adapting this recipe from ...From my Palate. An excellent decision, if I do say so myself :) This dish turned out so flavorful and spicy, a nice change for everyone. The soy sauce, along with the ginger and garlic, really accentuated the Indian flavor from spices such as cumin and coriander, culminating in a time-proven Indo-Chinese classic. Furthermore, the baked version tasted just as delicious as the traditional deep-fried version but was much healthier. What more can one ask for, right?

Baked Gobhi Manchurian( adapted from ...From my Palate):
For battered cauliflower:
1 medium head cauliflower, washed and cut into big florets
1" piece ginger, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
3 tbsp. cornflour
1 tbsp. cumin powder
1 tbsp. coriander power
2 tsp. red chili powder
2 tbsp. tomato sauce

For the sauce:
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp. oil
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1" piece ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
2 red chili peppers, chopped into large pieces
3 tbsp. tomato sauce
spring onions, chopped
salt to taste, if needed

Boil a large pot of water, and cook cauliflower florets in the boiling water(salted) for about 5 minutes. Drain and dry the florets. Preheat oven to 400F. Mix the garlic, ginger, cornflour, cumin and coriander powders along with the red chili powder, and add enough water to make a thick batter. Mix the florets with the batter, and transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until dry.
For the sauce, heat oil in a pan, and add the chopped onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat until the pieces become translucent and tender, but not brown. Add ginger, garlic and red chili peppers. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is no longer raw, but not yet brown. Add the bell pepper and tomato sauce, along with cumin and coriander powder. Cook, covered, for about 3 minutes. Removed the pieces of red chili peppers. Then, mix soy sauce and cornflour with a cup of water, and add to the mixture. Simmer until thick. Add the baked cauliflower, and toss until it is well-coated. Check for salt and seasoning, and add if needed. Garnish with chopped spring onions.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mung Dal-Fry for One!

After several days of eating out, I just wanted a simple, light but tasty homemade meal. Mung dal was absolutely perfect. Light and easy to digest, it can be a simple one-dish meal with some vegetables tossed in. I normally add onion, but I didn't have any on hand today; even then, the dal-fry was still so delightful. I had leftover cooked carrots and leeks already in my fridge, so no chopping and no grinding involved! And for once, I managed to make just the right amount of food for only myself without any leftovers. I finished cooking in under ten minutes, and enjoyed the dal-fry with a slice of multigrain bread spread with Jean-Yves Bordier butter, claimed by many to be the best butter in Paris. And I have to say, thus far, I quite agree :)

1/4 cup mung dal, washed and pressure-cooked
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2/3 tsp coriander powder
pinch of asafoetida(hing)
1/4 tsp. red chilli powder, or to taste
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/2 cup chopped cooked vegetables, or a mix of(I used carrots and leeks)
1/2 cup water, or as needed

Heat oil in a small pan on high heat. Add the mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, lower the heat and add cumin seeds. When they begin to brown, add hing. Then, add chopped garlic. When it is no longer raw, but before it is brown, add the chopped cooked vegetables and mung dal. Cook for one minute, then add coriander powder, red chilli powder and salt, along with water. Let cook until the dal-fry reaches the desired consistency. Serve warm.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Du Pain et Des Idées

One of my predominant goals for this semester remains to stake out and sample as much as I can from the myriad of boulangeries, pâtisseries, and salons de thé dispersed throughout Paris; however, my other predominant goal now is to actually write about them, after la dégustation! You see, I tasted plenty last semester, really. But, after all the tasting I was left with hardly any time for blogging. But, here I am today to share with you one of the absolute best, and my all-time favorite, boulangerie in Paris, called Du Pain et Des Idées. I owe my discovery of this gem to none other then Clotilde Dusoulier's (of Chocolate and Zucchini) Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris, my bible here in the City of Lights. As Clotilde points out, their selection is indeed quite limited so as to assure a high quality of output. Well, Monsiuer Christophe Vasseur, the boulanger, succeeds like no other. Whenever you're looking for something other than an ordinary baguette, this is the place to visit. Of course, their baguette is of very high quality. But beyond that, M. Vasseur's Pain Pagnol, a naturally-leavened loaf which tastes very much like sourdough but is actually several notches above, still remains my preferred non-baguette bread, perfect with a hunk of cheese, as an accompaniment to soup or salad, or with just a nice slather of butter :) His house-specialty Pain des Amis is also extremely popular and makes a nice change to the baguette every so often. If you happen to be in Paris right now while the galettes des rois line the shelves of Parisian boulangeries and pâtisseries, make sure to grab the one at Du Pain et Des Idées while it lasts-simply sublime, a flaky puff pastry filled with sweet, creamy almond paste with a hint of citrus flavor. However, my absolute favorite of M. Vasseur's products remains, and will always remain, his escargot rhum-raisins, his personal take on the classic pain aux raisins. Traditionally made with brioche dough, filled with pastry cream and raisins, and shaped into a swirl, I am typically not fond of this viennoiserie. Not only do I tend to find it too sweet for my taste, but I just do not care for the texture of brioche. However, M. Vasseur solves both problems with his escargot rhum-raisins here. First of all, it is made with puff pastry dough as opposed to brioche dough, which for me already improves it about a hundred-fold. Furthermore, it is just barely sweetened, perfect for my taste in the mornings. The vanilla pastry cream is delectable, and, although I am generally not a fan of rum flavor, the just hint of rum pairs perfectly with the raisins and vanilla, thereby elevating this creation to a level equivalent to pure bliss. Just to put things in perspective, despite the fact that Du Pain et Des Idées is located by Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondisement of Paris(in the east), I do not hesitate for one second to drag myself out of bed early on an almost-daily basis to trek practically across the city from the 17th arrondisement(in Paris Northwest) just to savor this delight first thing in the morning-about a 20-25 minute trip total by métro including a five-minute walk to the boulangerie itself. I know, you must think I'm crazy, as do many of my friends. But, just give it one try, and you'll immediately see why. Even if it does not become your daily boulangerie, if you are in Paris, Du Pain et Des Idées is a paradise simply not to be missed by any gourmand. Just hop by early in the morning for an escargot rhum-raisins, and pick up a loaf of bread (which you can buy in halves or quarters) to relish with dinner that night. Regardless of whatever else happens during the day, you will go to bed in a very happy state :)

L'Escargot Rhum-Raisins
Les Galettes des Rois
Pastry Selection
Du Pain et Des Idées
34 rue Yves Toudic
75010 Paris
01 42 40 44 52
Monday-Friday, 6h45-20h
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent or République

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Baingan-Mirchi ka Salan

Eggplant ranks as one of my all-time favorite vegetables. Actually, eggplant is technically a fruit, even though most of us still think of it and utilize it as a vegetable. I can relish it in just about any form-broiled, baked, fried, sauteed, and so on. I also love just about every variety of eggplant that exists, from the huge American eggplant, to the Indian baby eggplants, to the long, purple Chinese eggplants to the small green variety. In the ten days that I have been at home, I must have eaten at least 5 different dishes made with eggplant in some form, including the simply sublime creamed eggplant that I've already blogged about. But, I have heard so many people rant and rave about Baingan-Mirchi ka Salan and how flavorful it is that I just had to try making it myself. So, I sent my mom to the Indian grocery store for baby eggplants, and last night for dinner, I prepared a heartwarming main dish of Baingan-Mirchi ka Salan. That's a fair compromise, no? :) I followed Tarla Dalal's recipe for Mirchi ka Salan, except I added baby eggplants to the curry. The result? C'était un vrai régale. It was indeed a royal treat. Extremely rich and flavorful, but not too spicy, the salan, a Hyderabadi specialty, turned out simply perfect in every way. The green chillis provided just the right amount of heat without overpowering the rest of the dish, and the addition of coconut and peanuts, along with sesame seeds provided the perfect complement to the spices and elevated this curry to a level way above your standard vegetable curry. Though a bit time consuming, this delicacy is worth every second of preparation required. Your family, and your taste buds, will most certainly thank you :) Relish this mouthwatering delight with hot parathas or rotis, or steaming hot rice.

Baingan-Mirchi ka Salan(adapted from Tarla Dalal's Mirchi ka Salan):
8 baby eggplants
4 hot green chilli peppers
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp. nigella seeds
6 curry leaves
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tbsp. cumin-coriander powder
1 tsp. chilli powder, or to taste
1 tsp. tamarind concentrate
1/2 cup coconut milk
5 tbsp. oil, plus 3 tbsp.
salt to taste, or about 1.5 tsp.
1.5 cups water

For paste:
5 garlic cloves
1/2" piece ginger
1 onion
2 tomatoes
1/4 cup shredded coconut

For dry powder:
2 tbsp. roasted peanuts
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. cumin seeds

Cut off them stems of the eggplants, and cut slits in the eggplants lengthwise in both directions without cutting all the way through. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a skillet, and then add the slit eggplants. Shallow fry, covered, on medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes until almost cooked through. They should still be slightly firm. Remove and drain excess oil.

Add a fresh 5 tbsp. oil to the skillet on medium heat. Slit green chillis, and remove the seeds. Fry in the hot oil until they give off a very strong aroma, about 5 minutes total. Remove the chillis. Add the cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves to the same oil, and fry until they begin to crackle. Add the paste, and fry until cooked through. Add the coriander-cumin powder, turmeric, chilli powder, and dry powder masala, along with the cooked eggplants and salt. Cook for a 5 minutes. Add water and tamarind, cover and cook until eggplants are completely cooked. Add coconut milk, and let simmer until thick. Serve warm.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Raisin Scones

First of all, a very happy new year to all of you!! Best wishes to all of you for a coming year filled with happiness, health and lots more delicious food :)
A couple of weeks ago, while I was in Munich, I had the great pleasure of meeting Rachana of Veggi Fare. She so kindly introduced me to a wonderful tearoom in the city that served the most heavenly scones, fresh out of the oven, with real clotted cream and jam. In fact, I loved them so much that I dragged my friends back there the very next day, insisting that they try the scones and that I get to eat more :) Now, I have meant to try my hand at scones for quite a while, but after relishing those, I just could not wait any longer. Thus, for my goûter party on New Year's, I decided to whip up a batch of fresh raisin scones, along with French-style thick, unctuous chocolat chaud. Needless to say, they turned out simply fabulous! Not at all too sweet, but flaky and buttery, savored with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, fresh, hot scones make for the perfect afternoon snack, particularly in the winter, but I could eat them any time of the year :) Just make sure all of your ingredients are cold and ready to go before you start mixing in order to ensure flaky scones. I used Ina Garten's recipe, halved, but with more raisins and sugar, and I got a yield of 7 very large scones. I have included the halved recipe below. Enjoy!

Raisin Scones: (Adapted from Ina Garten's Raisin Scones)
2 cups plus 1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1.5 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cubed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
3/4 cup raisins
1 egg, beaten with 2 tbsp. water or milk, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix in the cold butter at the lowest possible speed until the butter is in pea-size pieces. Combine the eggs and heavy cream (or have them combined beforehand), and quickly add them to the flour/butter mixture. Combine until just blended. Combine the raisins and 1 tbsp. flour and add to the dough and mix quickly. The dough may be a bit sticky.
Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and make sure it is well combined. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough out to 3/4 to 1 inch thick. You should have lumps of butter in the dough. Cut into squares, then triangles. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the scones with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the outsides are crisp and the insides are done. I actually froze mine for an hour before baking them, and I just added five minutes to the baking time. Serve warm with clotted cream and jam, and relish this delight with hot chocolate or a hot cup of tea :)


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