100 ml thick yoghurt mixed with 2 tbsp. cashew powder
Heat the oil in a pan and fry caraway seeds, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Add the onion puree and ginger garlic paste and let it turn brown a bit. Next, add the salt, chilli powder and chopped chillies, continue frying whilst stirring continuously.
Add a little water if browning too quickly, adds the chicken and cook for 5 minutes until it turns pale. Add the coconut milk, yogurt, cashew powder and 1 cup water and let it come to a boil. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked.
Coconut and cherry muffins
150 gms self-rising flour,
60 gms butter chopped,
½ cup (35 gms) grated coconut,
½ cup (100 gms) Glace red cherries halved,
75 gms powdered sugar,
140 ml coconut milk,
1 egg lightly beaten,
2 tsp. cherry syrup or flavoring.
Sift the flour in a large bowl; rub in the butter with your fingertips till it resembles breadcrumbs. Sift in the sugar and stir with a spatula. Mix in the remaining ingredients and combine. Spoon the batter into six muffin molds and bake at 200c gas mark 6 for 25 -30 minutes.
Coconut and berry cake bars
Biscuit base and jam layer
100 gms butter chilled, plus extra for greasing,
175 gms plain flour, plus extra for dusting,
2 tbsp, desiccated coconut,
½ tsp salt;
2 tbsp powdered brown sugar,
1 egg yolk (reserve the white for the cake),
½ tsp vanilla essence,
3 tbsp. raspberry jam
175 gms butter,
150 gms yogurt,
3 eggs +the reserved egg white,
150 gms plain flour,
¼ tsp salt,
2 tsp baking powder,
175 gms powdered brown sugar,
100 gms desiccated coconut,
175 gms mixed raspberries and blueberries.
Lightly grease and dust a 23-cm square cake tin and line with baking powder (grease and dust the baking paper also). For the biscuit base put the flour, butter, and salt into a food processor and pulse to fine crumbs, then pulse in the desiccated coconuts and sugar. Then in a separate bowl beat the egg yolk along with the vanilla essence and about a tablespoon of chilled water, add it to the crumb mixture with the beaters running, to make a soft dough. Remove and roughly press into the prepared cake tin with your hands.
Press down with the back of a spoon to push the batter into the corners and flatten evenly. Prick with a fork, and then chill for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200c, gas mark 6. Bake the biscuit base for 15 minutes or until pale golden. Cool for few minutes and then spread the jam over the biscuit base. Lower the oven temperature to 180c, gas mark 4.
For the cake, melt the butter in a pan, then take off the heat and using a fork beat the yogurt, then the eggs and the reserved egg white. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir in the desiccated coconut and the sugar.
Pour the egg and yogurt batter into the flour mixture and mix well with a spatula. Pour over the jam base, level the top and scatter with the berries. Bake for 45-55 minutes until golden and risen all over and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the tin and then cut into bars and serve.
Continuing from my earlier post on Bread, following are a few bread recipes worth trying out
Simple White Loaf
250 gms strong white flour, plus extra for dusting,
1 tsp yeast,
1 tsp fine salt,
1 tsp castor sugar,
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for greasing.
Mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the oil and 130 ml of hot water. Mix together with a wooden spoon until combined, then bring together with your hands. Knead by hand on the work surface for 8-10 minutes, only dusting with a little flour if it’s sticky.
Once the dough is smooth and shiny, rotate it in your hands, whilst tucking under to make a smooth dome shape on the top.
Place the seam side down on a floured baking tray; gently pat down the top to flatten slightly. Gently cover with a lightly greased cling film and leave to rise for about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200c, gas mark 6. Uncover the dough and using a sharp serrated knife make three 0.5cm deep slits across the top. Cover again and leave for 15 minutes.
Uncover and dust the top with a little flour and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before slicing and serving with butter.
Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia
300 gms flour,
1 tbsp. sea salt,
finely ground plus extra (flaky) to sprinkle 2 tsp. yeast,
1 garlic bulb,
15 ml extra virgin olive oil,
Plus, extra for kneading and greasing.
BIGA is a type of pre-fermentation used in Italian baking. Many popular Italian types of bread, including Ciabatta, are made using Biga. Using Biga adds complexity to the bread’s flavor and is often used in bread that needs a light, open texture with holes. To make
Biga you need:
200 gms flour,
Pinch of yeast,
20 gms rosemary leaves picked,
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the Biga the previous night. In a deep bowl, mix the flour and yeast with 150 ml of warm water. Scrape down the sides, cover and leave at room temperature for at least 8 hours, or ideally for 12- 16 hours. Mix the rosemary and olive oil, cover and set aside. The next day, using your fingers, gradually incorporate the flour, salt, and yeast into the Biga with 225 ml warm water and all the oil, (reserving about 2 tablespoons of the rosemary oil and leaves) until you have a smooth and sticky dough. Transfer to a well-oiled working surface and knead vigorously for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 minutes; repeat this twice, using more oil as needed. Put the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200 c, gas mark 6. Put the garlic bulb on a sheet of foil and drizzle with oil; wrap and seal tightly. Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out the flesh and set aside, discard the skin.
Lightly grease a deep 20cm x 30cm baking tin or dish with oil. Scoop in the dough and stretch it out so it mostly fills the tin. Press the roasted garlic into the dough, then indent all over with oiled fingers. Cover with oiled cling film and prove for 45-55 minutes, until doubled in size.
Put a deep, metal baking dish on the bottom of the oven. When ready to bake, sprinkle the dough with flaky salt and set the tin on the middle shelf, fill the bottom dish with just boiled water. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden (if it is browning quickly, reduce the oven to 180c/ gas mark 4). Remove the bread from the tin and cool on wire rack; cover with a clean, damp tea towel and cool completely. Rub with the reserved 2 tablespoons of rosemary oil and leaves.
You can prepare as Gordon Ramsay does – Olive, Rosemary, and Tomato Focaccia – Gordon Ramsay
Nowruz is the traditional Iranian festival of spring, which starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox and is usually celebrated on March 20 or 21.
Till today, the celebration of Nowruz begins with the tradition of cleaning the house or spring cleaning as is the popular English term, which was probably where the term spring cleaning came from.
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Today, the festival of Nowruz is celebrated in many countries all over the world. Besides Iran and India, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan also celebrate Nowruz. But just as Navroze celebrations here is all about family, friends, food and good times, Nowruz celebrations in Iran also begin with the families visiting each other and friends dropping in to give their good wishes, gifts being exchanged and new clothes for children and family meals.
Like any good holiday, food plays a major role at Nowruz. Having at the feast is half the reason for everyone to get together. There are specific foods associated with Nowruz: noodles for untying life’s complications, fresh herbs for rebirth, eggs for fertility and fish for life.
Sabzi polo mahi- rice tinted vivid green with green herbs and served with fried fish is an extremely popular Nowruz dish.
Sabzi polo is a bright green version of the famous Persian ‘polo’ or ‘pilaf rice dishes. The vivid green color comes from a variety of herbs that give an otherwise plain dish a sublime flavor. Pair sabzi polo with fried fish; and you have sabzi polo mahi, the traditional Persian New Year meal.
Reshteh polo is another Persian aromatic rice and noodle pilaf layered with meat that is traditionally served the night before the spring festival of Nowruz.
Par-cooked rice and noodles are layered with a bewitchingly fruity and aromatic meat mixture which is gently steamed in the traditional Persian manner.
Reshteh Polow (pulao) with meat
1 ½ cups, basmati rice,
Salt as needed,
½ cup rose water,
2 large bay leaves,
113 grams Reshteh (flat noodles like fettuccine broken into 1-inch pieces),
Oil as needed,
1 large onion thinly sliced,
1 kg. mutton, cut into small pieces,
2 tsp. cinnamon powder,
½ tsp. turmeric,
¼ tsp. nutmeg powder,
1 tsp smoked paprika or chili powder,
Peel of 1 orange bitter white pith removed and skin cut into thin long strips,
½ cup golden raisins,
12 large Iranian dates, cut in half, de-pitted and chopped,
1 tsp salt,
1 tsp pepper,
3-4 tbsp. butter/ghee,
1 tsp. saffron, crumbled with ¼ cup of hot water.
Advieh- Handful of slivered almonds and pistachios, toasted just before use.
Place the rice in a large bowl and add water to cover, rinse and repeat the process two or three times to remove the excess starch. Soak the rice for 1-2 hours.
In the meantime, heat about 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over a medium flame. Add the Reshteh (flat noodles) which have been broken into 1-inch pieces, into the oil and sauté, stirring continuously, until lightly roasted. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Add a little more oil to the same pan if needed and add the mutton pieces, stir until browned on all sides and remove to a plate and set aside. Add the sliced onion, sauté until lightly caramelized.
Add the cinnamon powder, turmeric, nutmeg and paprika and stir well. Add the browned meat back, stir a bit to coat with the spices and add a cup of water along with the orange peel, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and tender. (Add a little more water during the process if needed.) Stir in the raisins and chopped dates, simmer for a minute or two and remove to a large bowl and set aside.
Clean the pot you cooked the meat in and add about 2 liters of water along with a big generous pinch of salt, the rose-water and bay leaves and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the rice and let it cook for 2 minutes, next stir in the toasted noodles and cook for further 3-4 minutes. Drain the rice in a colander with a fine mesh and immediately rinse with cool water and drain well.
After draining the rice, in the same pan heat 1-2 tablespoons of butter and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Mix the melted butter and water well. Add about 1/3rd of the rice and sprinkle with 1/3rd of the advieh, next layer with half the mutton mixture. Repeat with 1/3rd of the advieh, next layer with half the mutton mixture. Repeat with 1/3rd more rice, 1/3rd of the advieh and the remaining mutton and top with the remaining rice. Save the remaining advieh for the garnish. With the back of a wooden spoon make 5 holes into the rice all the way to the bottom. This is for the steam to escape. Cover with a lid and cook on high for 10 minutes. Next, add the crushed saffron with the hot water and tablespoon of melted butter all over the rice. Cover the lid with a tea towel and place over the rice. Cook on a low flame and steam the rice. The tea towel helps to absorb the condensation from the lid and prevents it from falling back in the rice.
Once the polow is done serve it in a large dish and sprinkle the remainder adiveh as garnishing. The bottom crust that is formed, a crunchy rice delicacy and loved by Persians, called the tadig and is the most sought after at any dinner, is served separately broken into pieces. Serve this polow (pulao) with pomegranate raita on the side.