Sunday, January 29, 2012

To Eat or To Eat. Always the Question.

I'm in a dilemma over which recipe I should post.

For a change, I've got more than enough photos to plaster over the page. I've got solid recipes that would rock your world. They did mine.

Maybe I should talk about my experiments with the humble Chicken Shawarma. Instead of walking down the roading and popping by Citi Square to buy a shawarma (and Diet Coke, duh), I decided to make them for dinner. So instead of spending 70 bucks and ten minutes in toto, I spent 6 hours and significantly more money on crafting out Donner kebabs.

Imagine a chicken shawarma on steroids (which, post-medical education, doesn't make sense because there are steroids other than your garden-variety performance-enhancing [ew] anabolic steroids).

Either way, you get Donner kebabs.

Fluffy homemade pita. Creamy homemade tahini-yogurt sauce. Homemade shawarma pickles. Pomegranate seeds, coriander leaves, crunchy lettuce strewn over. And some homemade garlic french fries thrown into the mix. It's worth every second of those six hours. Did I mention almost all of it was made at home?

Seems like a winner, right?

Until this cake entered my life. Moist orange cake (almost pound-cake like, but still light and fluffy), studded with orange zest and saffron.

It's freakishly healthy, if you skip the glaze and the custard. The glaze is, sadly, to die for. Orange juice, honey and more saffron are heated to a yummy syrup and used to drench the cake.

Topping this cake is a Creme-Anglaise type custard. With some more saffron. Mum is going to kill me when she sees the saffron-box.

Some ruby-red sparkly Jelly/Jell-O bits (from a box, don't judge) and flecks of orange stud it.  Made this cake for family, both old and new. I'm good at Buttering people up (bad at puns, though). You should, too, what with Valentine's Day around the corner and everything. When I put the recipes up. Soon. Pinky swear.

Right now, I'm going to go play work with Instagram. And solve The Mysterious Case of The Missing Nutella Jar. So little time, so much to do.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Garlicky Crispy Baked Potato Wedges!

Forbidden food.

I hate those words.

See, it's one thing for food to be forbidden by law or medicine. For example, pork isn't halal or kosher. Gluten and lactose are off-limits to the intolerant. Puffer fish can be lethal and caffeine isn't recommended for the pregnant and those prone to migraines. All of that makes sense.

What doesn't make sense? Things like Mayonnaise being explicitly forbidden for being sky-high in calories (57 calories in one tablespoon, for the sake of General Knowledge). Having to feel guilty for having had a pizza dinner. Sneaking in cookie dough in when no one is looking. Feeling like a social pariah for being the only one who asks for chocolate-chips on Frozen Yogurt (nothing beats Kiwi Kiss's strawberry Fro-Yo with heaps of dark chocolate-chips. On a half-waffle. With Nutella. And teeny bit of Maple Syrup).
Forbidden food (or men, for that matter) have an unnecessary allure to them.

OK. Enough of my chatter. Let's just do you all a favour and get to the recipe of the day week.

Guilt-free French Fries! That was what I was building up to. French fries have been implicated in everything. America's Obesity Epidemic (Pandemic now, thanks to Globalisation) have McD's skinny fries written all over them. "Intha Peeja-Pargar-Finger chips avoid pannunga" (Picked it up from the hospital).

Should you write them off forever? Probably not. An occasional chunky potato wedge, crispy with salt, should be eaten along with fish fingers/tartar sauce/ketchup. You use those golden fries to pick up the last bits of the breaded chicken, hot sauce and the lettuce that escapes out of the Zinger. But these should be far, far and very few, in between.

However. Old habits die hard (the number of times I've blitzed cocoa powder, bananas and Splenda to make "Nutella". Right). So when I came across this kickass recipe for Baked Garlic French Fries, I did an impromptu fatchild jig and proceeded to modify it for the Madras kitchen. Make it. You will be shocked and satiated and happy. I was.

Garlicky Baked Wedges:

(adapted from Purple Foodie, who adapted it from Lottie+Doof)


12 garlic cloves, minced
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
240 grams potato, cut into chunky wedges, skin on
3 tbsp cornstarch/cornflour
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (or 1 tsp regular salt)
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I used red chilli powder)


Preheat oven to 225 degrees Celsius.

Cut the potato into medium-sized wedges, leaving the skin on.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, heat the olive oil and minced garlic for around one minute on Med-High. The garlic should be fragrant.

Transfer most of the oil (save one tbsp) to a baking dish and grease it well. Leave the garlic in the microwave safe bowl.

Add the potatoes to the garlic-oil mix. Toss around well.

Cover with a microwave-safe tight lid or saran/plastic wrap. Cook on Med to Medium High for at least 3 to 6 minutes. Don't forget to toss the bowl once or twice, midway, so the cooking is even.

It should be translucent around the edges.

In another bowl, combine cornflour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne and mix well.

Sprinkle it over the hot potatoes. Toss well, so the powder coats most of the potato.

Arrange the potato on the prepared baking dish. Make sure it's all out in one line, not one on top of the other. Bake for around 35-40 minutes, until golden and crisp. Turn over the fries midway during the baking process. Taste one, after it's been slightly cooled; see if it's crisp enough for you. Toss with some salt if you like grainy salt on your fries.

The little garlic bits? Mindblowing deliciousness.

If you do not wish to microwave, just parboil the potatoes, before you coat them with the cornflour mix. The garlic can be sauteed in the olive oil for 30 seconds, tossed about the cut potato and thrown into the cornflour mix.

Serve HOT with ketchup, mayo, red chilli sauce, burgers, steak, donner kebabs or even a paneer roll. The world, my lovelies, is your plate.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kiwi-Yogurt-Gingersnaps "Tart"

You know of my love for complex dishes. Hours spent in the kitchen: kneading bread, sauces bubbling away to glory for hours on the stove, shaping out cinnamon rolls. On bad days, baking a crusty loaf of bread or a hearty stew makes me feel like I'm capable of accomplishing things.

On some days, I don't have that luxury of time and ingredients. Or the winter (yes, winter) sun warms the kitchen up to oven standards. Or I'm packing on the kilos and have to quit making over elaborate desserts (pshaw) and the like. Enter the wonderment that is yogurt and fruit.

Parfaits. Smoothies. Overnight oats. All delicious and simple. Along the same lines, I give you a slightly more sophisticated dessert with more... adult flavours. Not to sound dodgy.

Flavourful honey, Greek yogurt, gingerbread biscuits and kiwis. I'm not singing the line above. Also, feel totally free to use any other fruit or biscuits/cookie/cracker of your choice.

For example, True Nice biscuits for the "Graham cracker crust" and banana/mangoes as the fruit topping with a teeny bit of toasted coconut would be delicious. Bourbon biscuits for the base, strawberries on top, a little yogurt sweetened with honey. Delicious. Sometimes, yogurt tastes way better than heavy whipping cream. Who knows. Maybe it's the South Indian in me.

I have this gorgeous tart tin that I'm dying to use! No motivation to sit out and roll a buttery pie/pastry crust, so it's total food procrastination. I'll eat a slice of pear tart if you give me one. But do not tell me about the cubes and cubes of cold butter that's been amalgamated in. Sigh.

The one advantage about January/February is the attack of berries and exotic fruit at the greengrocers. Fresh figs, plums, strawberries, avacados and golden pears jostle for space at the spotlight-y area of the various Pazhamudir Nilayams and Chozais. I bought a couple of overpriced kiwi fruit, and decided to make dessert with it. And most of you (except the brother) will agree it's dessert.

Kiwi Yogurt Tart:

(the following measurements were for the tart tin, I had You can use these ratios for a smaller/bigger tin)

Ginger biscuits or Gingersnaps- 12
Unsalted butter- 1.5 tbsp
Demerara sugar- 2 tbsp

Yogurt (greek/thick/strained)- 1 cup
Honey- 1.5 tbsp (or as per taste)
Vanilla essence- 1 tsp
Kiwi fruit- 1 or 2, cut into slices


Pulverize the biscuits with a rolling pin until they form coarse crumbs.

With very clean fingers, rub the cubes of cold butter into the crumbs until you get a wet-sandy mixture.

Knead in the brown sugar.

Line a tart tin or any other baking dish with the crumb-mixture. Press it in firmly. If you're short of the base, just add a couple more crushed biscuits and a pat of butter.

Bake the base at 200 degrees celcius in a preheated oven for 6-8 minutes. Take it out and set to cool.

For the filling:

Whip the yogurt with a fork until smooth and creamy. Add in the honey and vanilla. Taste to see if more honey is necessary.

 There goes the last of my Kashmiri saffron honey. Sob/sigh.

If you're serving immediately, you can add the chopped kiwi fruit. If not, add the kiwi at the last minute possible, as they tend to dilute the yogurt with a bittery/soury fluid.

You can hold off on adding the kiwi bits to the yogurt, and instead just place the slices on top.

Top with sliced kiwi, sprinkle on some more demerara if necessary (I like the crunch-y sugar bits) and some toasted nuts.

Nothing more to do than to dig in!

And yes, it isn't a Tarte Tatin oozing with apple/cinnamon-scented caramel. It doesn't have tomato and feta frolicking around with balsamic, basil and coarse salt. It is most definitely not a New York style cheesecake.

But it is still a pretty picture, no?

Besides, the aforementioned sibling, despite refusing his portion and mumbling "fish food", "dieters delight" (very sarcastically), warily scooped out the last bits of the soppy gingery crust and a stray kiwi piece. Ate it and asked me to make it "properly" for him, again. I'm totally not going to.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chocolate Mousse with Orange Mascarpone/#Happy-ness.

I'm a girl of my word. I said the next post on the blog would have chocolate in it.

What I forgot to sort of-kind of mention is that it'd have almost ONLY chocolate in it. The simplicity of the recipe is directly proportional to the taste. If I could do the blasphemy thing, I'd say it was Heaven in a Cup. It's even better than ganache. As if such a thing could be humanly possible.

Chocolate mousse is the recipe du jour. Don't just dismiss it as a fancy-80s-aunty dessert. Most of the time, I decide it's not worth all the expense and effort to make mousse or souffle of any sort. Separating egg yolks from the whites? Won't (and more importantly can't) do it. Gelatin clumping and smelling like melted plastic? Exasperating. Whipping cream being over beaten and turning into butter? Depressing, even if the buttery mix ends up in my tummy (inside and out), any way.

So when the Father of Molecular Gastronomy puts an exquisite mousse recipe up, I'd run away screaming bloody murder, right? Wrong.

Heston Blumenthal is the guest on Masterchef who reduces everybody to tears ("Oh my God, I can't believe I met Heston Blumenthal; I'm going to remember this all my life; Best day of my life" et cetera.) The contestants look at him, and their knees turn to jelly (passion fruit or persimmon or similar fancy flavours, I'm guessing). I'd imagine it'd be like a microbiologist meeting Louis Pasteur. His recipes take hours and hours to craft.

Not this one. This is easy, but "deelishus", nevertheless. It panders to the little geek in me, the one who had the Junior Chemistry Kit at the age of seven.

Accompanying the chocolate mousse, I made an Orange Mascarpone. Chocolate and orange are one of those grown-up flavours I'm really starting to enjoy. Mascarpone isn't available in Madras, so I made my own. Feel free to serve the mousse with some fresh cream whipped with orange zest and powdered sugar. If you're hell-bent on the mascarpone, I'll tell how to make your own!

The only thing I'm going to insist you do, is that you use good-quality dark chocolate.

Bring out the Ghiardelli, Callebaut, Valrohna, Lindt and Godiva!
It's absolutely crucial that you love the chocolate you're using, because it's going to smack-bang! taste of it, times ten. Any decent dessert-bar Chocolate Mousse is going to cost you way more, anyway.

Heston Blumenthal's Chocolate Mousse with Orange Mascarpone cream:


For the chocolate mousse:

Dark chocolate- 140 grams
Water- 1/2 cup (115 ml)
Espresso (or instant coffee) - 2 tsps
Granulated sugar - 2 tablespoons (optional)

For the orange mascarpone:

Mascarpone cheese-125 grams
Powdered sugar-2 tablespoons.
Zest of one orange.


For the chocolate mousse:

Fill a big, heat-proof bowl halfway with ice and cold water. Keep aside.

In a thick-bottomed pan, over medium heat, add the espresso powder to the water. Bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down to low/Sim. Add the chocolate into the coffee.

Stir occasionally until you get a homogeneous, smooth chocolate mixture.

Transfer the bowl into the prepared ice water-bath. Make sure none of the water gets into the mousse.

Beat the chocolate with a hand mixer or a whisk until stiff peaks form.

If the chocolate turns grainy or gloopy, re-heat it until it melts and shock over the ice-water again.

Spoon the mousse into cups.

Refrigerate, covered, for 3 hours or so.

That's the texture you're looking for.

For the orange mascarpone:

Beat all the ingredients until soft peaks form. Do not over-beat.

 Spoon some mascarpone over the mousse or by the side of the mousse and serve immediately.

Easy as that. No wandwork or N.E.W.T-level spells required. This recipe is a bit of a reputation-killer, honestly. I'm sure nobody thinks I'm a cook of any repute after seeing the simplicity behind what I've made. But you'll thank me once you make it..

Hello, my darling.

And eat it. Mmm!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Strawberry Soup with Caramel-Cinnamon croutons/Dessert for soup and vice versa.

It feels good to be able to look into an empty New Post page; Pensieve out those food thoughts that have been locked in for far too long.

Trust me when I say I'm not slacking off on posting. Craving the smell of cinnamon-and-apple baking in the oven is what I'm doing. Unfortunately, my boring-tiresome-annoying-masochistic-but pretty freaking awesome-sporadically dayjob gets in the way.

While  any form of food-catharsis should obviously take the shape of a chocolate-orange ganache tart, what with the New Year hullaballo (I said hullaballo, and we're all still alive), I'm going down the Greek yogurt route. OK, "New Year! New Fitness Plan!" isn't the only factor... I only had minimal time and ingredients to prep and photograph. And as a result of a happy accident, what started as a Strawberry-and-yogurt breakfast bowl ended up as a Strawberry-soup dessert.

You can obviously make this richer with fresh cream, mascarpone, half-and-half or sour cream. You can also just macerate the strawberries with a squeeze of lemon juice and a few teaspoons of sugar. I prefer the fruit to be the overall star, so I use a combination of fresh strawberries and roasted strawberries.

Ooh. The croutons. I used to be a massive fan of the butter-fried croutons Mum used to strew on our Sunday breakfast-tomato soup, growing up. I used to inhale the left over buttery crumbs, lick the fresh cream off the bowl clean... it was a happier time.

These croutons smell like caramel popcorn. Nah, I'm happier now. Saying something smells like caramel corn is the equivalent of a food-OBE around these parts. Make it! And use real butter, for the love of God.

Strawberry Soup with Cinnamon-buttery croutons:


Strawberries- 2 cups, hulled and halved.
Sugar, white granulated-2 tablespoons
Balsamic vinegar-1 tablespoon*
Yogurt-1 cup **
Milk-1 cup.
Vanilla extract -1 teaspoon.

For the croutons:

Baguette-1/2 a loaf.
Butter-2 tablespoons.
Cinnamon-1 teaspoon.
Demerara/brown/raw sugar-3 tablespoons.

*can substitute lemon/lime juice
**greek/strained yogurt works best.


For the croutons.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with greased foil.

Chop the baguette into 1-inch cubes. Day-old baguette will work in this recipe.
Keep aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter, cinnamon and sugar. Microwave for 30 seconds or more, until the sugar blends in.

Toss the cubed bread into the butter. Spread the cubes evenly over the foil. Bake until nice and golden brown.

Let the croutons cool completely (they'll be crispy at the end of it). Store in an airtight container and keep aside. After trying one. Or ten.

For the soup:

Keep one cup of strawberries aside.

In a bowl, combine the remaining cup of strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Keep aside for 10 minutes.

Spread the marinated strawberries on the previously used foil sheet. Bake at 150 degrees Celsius for about 35-40 minutes, until you get a jammy syrup. Let it cool down until lukewarm.

In a mixie/food processor, combine the roasted strawberries, fresh strawberries and blend. Next, add in milk, yogurt and the vanilla extract. Blend until smooth. Taste, add more sugar or honey if your palate needs it.

P-wonder chef wanted her "sparkling" kitchen displayed on the blog!
Pour it out into the bowls you're going to be serving the soup in. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Just before serving, top the soup with the croutons, some raw sugar and a swirl of yogurt/fresh cream. Serve immediately.

Another variation:

Scoop the roasted strawberries onto some yogurt. Swirl in some honey, top with croutons.

Soup for dessert/Dessert for soup seems like the best (albeit craziest) idea I've had all day week. Next post will have obviously have chocolate in it. Let's not get too crazy.