Vegetarian Mexican delight..!

Guacamole

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Very Easy
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If there is one thing that Mr. A loves and can dish out personally, then it has to be that One-mean-Guacamole..!! He makes it sound like rocket science but going through our recipe here, you would realize that it is child’s play. Excellent as an evening dish. Completely vegetarian and easy to prepare. Traditionally used as a dip (along-with Nachos), you may just go ahead and eat it all out if you don’t have chips.

Ingredients

  1. Avocados – 2
  2. Green Chillies – 1
  3. Chopped Onion- 1 medium sized – required half
  4. Tomato – 1 medium size – required 3/4ths
  5. Coriander (Cilantro) – One fistful
  6. Lemon – Half
  7. Salt

Directions

Step One

Wash the avocados and scoop out the fruit into a steel or glass bowl. Discard the seed. Steel or glass bowl – because we need to mash the fruit with a masher or spoon and you don’t want to spoil or leave scratches on your non-stick or ceramic vessels.

Tip:

(a) Picking out Avocados can be tricky. In order to prepare a Guacamole, we need the fruit to be slightly ripe. Extra-ripe means the fruit has already darkened and softened beyond our taste and Under-ripe means that the fruit is very hard inside and we wouldn’t be able to scoop it out  completely. It wouldn’t even mash well. Picking the right fruit comes with experience of picking it several times. So don’t fret if you get it wrong the first time. The Avocado needs to press slightly when you buy it from the market.

(b) After scooping out the fruit do not leave it open for too long as Avocados have a tendency to darken when kept in the open just like Apples. The oxidation turns it brown. Hence we need to be quick here.

(c) Choice of Avocados is really important. I have personally experienced that Mexican or American Avocados taste better than the Kenyan or Ugandan ones. However, the former are thrice as expensive than the latter. 

Step Two

Mash the Avocados until they are slightly chunky. Do not over-mash them into a smooth pulp.

Step Three

(a) Take the Onion – half as suggested in the ingredient list and chop it finely. Do not leave big chunks.

(b) Similarly Chop 3/4th of  a Tomato into a similar size. Make sure of discarding/ draining the liquid and the seedy part of the tomato away.

(c) Take a fistful of Coriander and chop them into tiny pieces as well.

(d) Cut the single green chilli into tiny pieces.

Step Four

Empty the chopped Ingredients into the bowl where we have kept the Mashed avocados ready. Mix well to ensure consistency of the chopped ingredients spread all over the mashed avocados.

Step Five

Squeeze the juice out of half of the lemon into the mixture. This splash of acidity balances the richness of the Avocado.

Step Six

This is important. Avocados are bland. It doesn’t have a heavy flavor unlike all other fruits and in addition it is pretty heavy/rich. Hence, we need to supplement it with a good dose of salt. This could be more than what we use for preparing other foodstuffs and at the same time different people would have different tastes.

My suggestion would be to sprinkle a full tea-spoon of salt > Mix the mixture well > Taste it > Add more salt if you cannot taste the salt yet > Stop when you are satisfied.

Step Seven

Serve with some Nacho chips. If not, take that spoon and dig in..!

Tip:

(a) The most important aspect in preparing a Guacamole is “Ratio”. If any of the ingredients increases then it may result in a lop-sided flavor. So make sure that you don’t add extra tomatoes/onions/lemon juice or chillies. It HAS TO be just right. 

(b) One Avocado serves one person.

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A south Indian shrimp recipe..!

Mangalorean Prawns Gassi

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Medium
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The south of India is well-known for its natural beauty and for the abundant availability of coconut plantations, especially having long coastlines. Needless to say coconut in its various forms like oil, milk, fresh and dried form is put to excellent use in its cuisine. The Manglorean Prawns Gassi is a recipe from the south of India which encompasses two important aspects of the region – Coconut and Sea-food! Since the months of August and September are the ones when the best shrimps are found here in the Middle East, I decided to make this curry with the best quality Raw materials available for the season.

Ingredients

  1. Prawns (de-veined and shelled)- 500 gms
  2. Cubed Potato- 1 cup
  3. Chopped Onion- 1 medium sized
  4. Coconut milk- ½ cup [1 tbsp of maggi coconut milk powder dissolved in water]
  5. Mustard Seeds- 1 tsp
  6. Oil- 1 tbsp
  7. Water
  8. Salt

For the masala paste:

  1. Coconut- 1 cup
  2. Ginger-garlic paste- 2 tbsp
  3. Onion- ½ cup
  4. Green chilli- 2
  5. Tamarind- small sized ball
  6. Red Chilli powder- 1tsp
  7. Coriander powder- 1 tsp
  8. Turmeric powder- ½ tsp

Directions

Step One

The first step would be to clean the prawns; remove the shell and de-vein them. Wash well for about 7 to 8 times.

Tip: Squeeze some lemon juice on the prawns and keep it aside to reduce the smell. Cleaning prawns calls for caution. For those who are doing this for the first time need to know that de-veining the prawns, removing the shells releases a smell that lingers in your kitchen and hands which you want to avoid. So make sure that you clean well and dispose the waste as soon as possible. 

Step Two

Grind the masala paste using coconut, onion, ginger-garlic paste, green chillies, tamarind, red chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder, with a little water to form a smooth paste. Keep aside.

Step Three

In a medium sized non-stick pot, take a spoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and allow it to splutter on medium heat. Then add the chopped onions and season with salt. Once the onion is golden brown, add the cubed potatoes and saute till it changes color. Add in the ground masala paste and allow it to cook. Simmer till the gravy starts to bubble and thicken.

Step Four

Add the clean prawns and some salt, as per taste. Add ½ cup of water and allow the prawns to cook for about 15 to 20 mins.

Step Five

Reduce the flame and now add ½ cup of coconut milk.

Tip: Coconut milk is likely to curdle/ split on high heat, so keep the flame low.

Step Six

Serve with some Jeera rice or plain rice or appams.

Keep Calm and Eat Meatballs..!!

Chilli Lime Meatballs

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

  1. Minced chicken- 500 gms
  2. Spring onion- finely chopped- 1 cup
  3. Green Capsicum- finely chopped- 1 cup
  4. Cilantro- finely chopped-1 cup
  5. Green Chilli- finely chopped- 3 tsp
  6. Garlic powder- ½ tsp
  7. Lemon juice- 3 tsp
  8. Cheddar cheese- 3 tbsp
  9. Salt- as per taste
  10. Extra virgin Olive oil- 1 tbsp

For the Simple Guacamole/ Avocado base:

  1. Avocado- 1
  2. Lemon juice- 2 tsp
  3. Pepper
  4. Salt

Directions

Step One

Finely chop the capsicum, spring onion, cilantro and green chillies. In a mixing bowl, mix minced chicken, spring onion, capsicum, cilantro, garlic powder, cheddar cheese and green chillies. Add the lemon juice and salt, and mix it well

Step Two

Roll small sized balls of the chicken mix and keep it aside. Freeze it for about 15 mins so that the balls are well set.

Step Three

In a medium skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, place the balls carefully into the pan, cover the lid and cook for 15 mins on each side. Keep aside, once the meatballs are cooked.

Step Four

Wash and peel an avocado. Mash it into a pulp. Squeeze 2 tsp of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. The Avocado preparation can be used as an accompaniment. See Tip below.

Tips:

  1. Avocados are generally very bland and need external flavoring like salt. In fact, it needs a generous amount of salt. Add salt to the Avocados after measuring the amount of salt that you have already used in the meatballs and as per taste. This is so that you don’t over or under-utilize salt. 
  2. This is a simple Guacamole, more like mashed avocados. The usual and main ingredients of a Guac are missing in action here as we don’t want to take the attention away from the meatballs and maintain the balance of flavors here. We’ll do a separate post on how to make an Guacamole soon!  🙂

Step Five

Serve it as a starter or convert it into a low carb meal.

Vegetarian appetizer 

Weekends are a prefect time to host friends for dinner. However, this dinner plan was rather interesting as it was going to be a complete vegetarian menu. I spent days thinking what the menu should look like. After a couple of hours of serious contemplation, I remembered the Subz Kadak Seekh Kabab that I had at Sahib Sindh Sultan Restaurant in India. Voila, I got my first starter..!

Vegetable Seekh Kebab

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • Finely chopped French Beans- 1/2 cup
  • Finely chopped Cabbage- 1/2 cup
  • Finely chopped Carrots- 1/2 cup
  • Corn kernels- 1/4 cup
  • Green peas- 1/4 cup
  • Ginger- garlic paste- 1 tbsp
  • Green Chilli paste- 1 tbsp
  • Boiled and mashed Potatoes- 2 medium sized
  • Finely chopped Coriander Leaves- 1/4 cup
  • Caraway seeds (shahi jeera)- 1 tsp
  • Gram Flour- 2 tbsp or as per requirement
  • Oil- 1 tbsp
  • Salt- to taste

Directions

Step One

Boil the medium sized potatoes in a pressure cooker. Keep aside till it cools a bit and then peel the potatoes. Roughly mash the peeled potatoes and keep it aside.

Tip: The potatoes should be mashed before it cools down completely; the potatoes need not be smoothly mashed.

Step Two

Take a medium sized pan and heat a teaspoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, crackle a teaspoon of Caraway seeds. Add Ginger- garlic and green chilli paste.

Tip: Excess oil can alter the dryness of the kabab. This Kabab is shallow fried with very less oil.

Step Three

Once the rawness of the ginger-garlic paste reduces, add all the finely chopped vegetables and saute till it is cooked. Season with Salt. Keep aside for a while till this mix cools down.

Step Four

Coarsely grind the cooked vegetables and check for seasoning.

Step Five

In a small sized skillet, roast 2 tablespoons of gram flour on medium heat, so that you get a nutty flavor.

Tip: Use medium heat while roasting the flour as it may burn quickly. Increase or decrease gram flour as per the requirement to roll the kababs into a tight shape.

Step Six

In a bowl, mix the coarsely ground vegetables, mashed potatoes and gram flour. Add more salt, if required. Roll the kababs into any shape, either into small flattened balls or cylindrical rolls. Lighly brush some oil on a skillet and fry the kababs.

Step Seven

Serve the kababs with either ketchup or green chutney.

Green delight!.. with some chicken!

Summer has kicked in.. What better to have than a refreshing Caesar’s salad. This is again Mr. A’s favorite salad. Since I had no mayonnaise in my kitchen, I managed to find my own variation of the recipe, with Cream Cheese. I was skeptical about this variation but the end result was perfect..!

Chicken Ceasar's Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium romaine lettuce
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Parmesan (to sprinkle)
  • 5 tbsp cream cheese
  • Croutons
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Drizzle some olive oil. Place pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Lay the chicken on the pan and cook for 4 mins on either sides.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, minced garlic, olive oil. Add one or two tbsp water, if the mix is too thick.
  3. Cut lettuce into medium pieces and put in a large bowl. Once the chicken cools, cut it into thin, long slices.
  4. Add most of the dressing and toss the salad. Scatter the croutons, then drizzle with the remaining dressing. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top and serve immediately.

Beefy affair!

A fortnight ago, we decided to go to Chili’s to have one of Mr. A’s favorite dishes- Classic rib-eyed steak, made even more exciting by their choice of creamy pepper sauce. Rib eye has a wonderful, rich flavour and is very tender with pockets of fat all over the steak.

Seeing him devour his meal, I decided to try this recipe at home.

Preparing steak is one of the simplest tasks. All you need is some beef steak with salt and pepper seasoning. Traditionally, pepper sauce is made using beef stock and wine, but  I substituted this with chicken stock.

Easy Pan-Seared Steak and Pepper Sauce

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Picture Credit: Clicked at Chili’s, Bahrain 
 

Ingredients

For Steak
  • Beef 250gms
  • salt and pepper, to taste
For Sauce
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tsp pepper powder
  • 3 tbsp fresh cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • Sea salt, to taste

 

Directions

  1. Season the beef and marinate it for about 15 mins.
  2. In a skillet, add butter and sear the steak for about 4 mins on either side.
  3. In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add crushed peppercorns and cook for 20 seconds in bubbling butter.
  4. Add chopped onions.
  5. Add stock, wine and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce and cook.
  6. Add cream and cook for a further 5 minutes for the sauce to thicken slightly.
  7. Serve over steak, with mashed potatoes. 

Shrimps and Rice!

I got back from work wondering what to do with the left over rice in my refrigerator. It was one of those days where I didn’t feel like some simple rice and cooked lentil gravy, but was rather enthusiastic about trying something new. As a lawyer, I spend most of my day reading huge bundles of papers, and day/night doesn’t matter- clients want everything YESTERDAY. All I want is to end my day in a completely different world. After glancing across the kitchen, I could see that I have the left-over rice, some vegetables, soya sauce and marinated shrimps. How about a fusion of Indian and Chinese ingredients to make some shrimp fried rice, especially to suit the taste of Mr. A who loves spices? I quickly chopped some onions and vegetables, made some ginger-garlic paste; tossed it all in the pan, seasoned it with pepper, salt and soya sauce. Mixed it together with shrimp and rice for a small Indo-Chinese treat. In this simple recipe, I have used ingredients that are easily available in most kitchens, in case one suddenly decides to cook Fried Rice!

Shrimp Friend Rice

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

  1. Shrimp- 1 cup
  2. Rice- 500gms
  3. Chopped Beans- 1/2 cup
  4. Chopped Carrots- 1/2 cup
  5. Chopped Capsicum- 1/2 cup
  6. Chopped onions- 2 or 3 tablespoons
  7. Spring onion- 1/2 cup
  8. Ginger garlic paste- 2 tablespoons
  9. Pepper- 2 teaspoons
  10. Soya Sauce- 2 tablespoons
  11. Vinegar- 1 tablespoon
  12. Salt

For Shrimp Marination

  1. Chilli Powder- 2 tablespoons
  2. Turmeric Powder- a pinch
  3. Lemon juice- 2 tablespoons
  4. Salt

Directions

  1. Fry rice grains. Boil water and put the rice along with some salt. Keep aside.
  2. Marinate shrimp in Chilli powder, turmeric powder, lemon juice and salt for around 1 hour and cook in medium flame. Once cooked, fry the shrimp for about 2-3 mins.
  3. In a pan, add oil and saute onions and ginger garlic paste. Once the onions turn light brown, add the vegetables and season with pepper powder and salt. In about 10 mins, add soya sauce and vinegar.
  4. Mix this mixture thoroughly with the rice and shrimp, so that the flavors blend in well.
  5. Shrimp Fried rice is ready to be served.