Friday, July 29, 2011

Au Gratin

Au Gratin is a French dish that is baked to form a golden crust on top and traditionally served in a shallow baking dish.     Au gratin is usually made with white sauce and two or more ingredients mixed with it and then baked.

 The au gratin I have made here is with vegetables and chicken. I learned how to make this dish from my mom who taught me a little trick to spice it up a bit and cater it to the Indian taste.  I have used grated cheddar cheese here to form the golden crust on top.
 Au gratin is easy to make and takes very little time to prepare. It can be eaten plain and also goes great with garlic bread and soup.

To make this dish you will need
Preparation time - 15 minutes
Cooking time - 20 minutes
Serves - 3 people


1 cup warm milk
2tbsps all purpose flour(maida)
1 tsp white pepper powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder(freshly ground)
3 1/2 tbsps oil
salt to taste
1/2 cup vegetables of your choice
1/2 cup shredded chicken
1/2 tsp green chilli paste

For making white sauce

  • Heat 2 1/2 tbsps oil in a pan. Once it's heated well add the all purpose flour to it and stir. Do not let the flour change colour. It will start to bubble a bit. At this stage add the warm milk and stir continuously so that no lumps are formed.

  • Stir until the sides bubble and remove from flame immediately. Add the nutmeg powder,white pepper powder and salt to taste and mix well. At this stage you can add cheese in the white sauce as well. This makes it very rich and creamy.
  • In a non stick pan heat 1tbsp oil and add the green chilli paste to this. Then add the vegetable and stir fry until half done. this takes around 10 minutes. Add the shredded chicken to this and mix well.
  • Add this to the white sauce and stir in gently. If you find it too thick, you can add 2 tbsps of milk to loosen it a bit.

  • Pour this into a shallow baking dish and top with any grated cheese of your choice.
  • Pop this into a pre heated oven at 180 degrees C and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is a lovely golden brown.
Serve hot with garlic bread and soup.

  1. Add/leave out the chilli paste according to your level of spice. You can also boil the chicken in 1tsp ginger garlic paste for more of an Indian taste.
  2. Instead of chicken and vegetables, you can use anything you like. Some good combinations are,
  • corn, cottage cheese and spinach
  • macroni, chicken and corn
  • cauliflower, carrots and beans


Marinex 3.7-Quart Prediletta Rectangular Baking Dish     Pyrex Grip-Rite 3-Quart Oblong Baking Dish Clear

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Caramel Custard


Caramel Custard....the most favourite dessert of the two most favourite men in my life. My dad and husband :)
 My mom always made it for dad and us. Now, I make it for my husband and daughter. Its like a tradition being passed down the generations. I hope to teach my daughter this lovely dessert so she can make it for her family some day. Well, that's a long time away. For now I would love to share this recipe with all of you.
The recipe my mom uses is a bit different from the one I have used here. I got this great recipe from my sister-in-law and found it a bit easier than the one my mom uses.

Caramel Custard makes a great dessert for dinner parties and will get your guests complimenting you on your cooking skills. This dessert is best served chilled so you can make it a day earlier and store it in the fridge.

To make this lovely dessert you will need
Preparation time - 15 minutes
Cooking time - 45 minutes
Serves - 8 people
Special equipment needed to make caramel custard
Flat based round stainless steel box with lid and a  stainless steel steamer or a stand to place the box on.

For Caramel
3 tbsps sugar
For Custard
500 ml fresh milk
4 eggs
1 tin condensed milk(sweet)
For making caramel
  • Spread the sugar evenly on the base of the round box and place on the hob on high flame. As soon as you see the appearance of bubbles, reduce flame to low.
  • Let it cook on low flame until  the entire sugar caramelises.

  • Make sure its spread evenly and put it aside to set. This takes around 5 minutes. It will begin to crack a bit when its hard. That's when you know its ready.
For making Custard
  • Put the milk, eggs and condensed milk in a blender or use a hand blender and blend it until its nice and frothy on top. 
  • Finally, place some water in a big pot and immerse the steamer in it. The level of the water should not be higher than the level of the steamer. Place the box with the caramel on top of this.
  • Pour the custard mix on top of this and close the lid of the box. Cover the pot and cook on high flame for 15 minutes, then lower the flame and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the box from the pot and open its lid to let it cool. Once it reaches room temperature, cover with the lid once again and put in the fridge to chill.
  • Before serving, overturn it onto a plate and cut into triangular pieces.Serve chilled. Enjoy


  1. When you overturn the custard onto a plate, some of the caramel will pour out as syrup. You can use this syrup to pour on top of each slice and serve.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chilli Paneer(cottage cheese)

Chilli Paneer.....the very term reminds me of Banglore. When I was in school, my aunt and her family lived in Banglore and we went to visit them quite often in our holidays. Every time we visited, they would take us to their favourite restaurant 'PARK AND EAT' for dinner. The one thing they would order there every time was CHILLI PANEER and for me it was 'love at first bite' and I was literally in tears after eating it cos it is as HOT as the name suggests!!!! I've always loved paneer but the chilli paneer there was something else!!! AMAZING!!!! 

Ever since then I've been trying to replicate the chilli paneer dish. After many, many experiments this is the closest I've gotten to making it. I've used Shan tandoori chicken masala here but you can use any tandoori masala available to you locally. Even tikka masala and 65 masala does the trick for this dish. 

To make this amazing dish you will need 

Preparation time - 15 minutes
Cooking time - 5-7 minutes
Serves - 4 people

1 slab paneer cut into medium sized cubes
1 onion
1 green pepper
5 tbsps tandoori masala
1/2 tsp chaat masala
a pinch of orange food colouring(optional)
2 tbsps oil
2tbsps water


  • Soak the paneer in hot water and set aside for 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime, cut the onion and pepper into cubes

  • After 15 minutes, drain the water from the paneer and mix the tandoori masala, chaat masala and orange food colouring in it. Soaking the paneer in hot water makes it soft and also enables the masala to coat the cubes evenly.
  • Heat the oil in a wok and add the onion and pepper cubes in it. Stir fry for 3-5 minutes or until the onions are a little translucent.
  • Add the masala coated paneer to this and mix well.

  • At this stage add 2 tbsps of water and mix well so the masala spreads evenly and coats the onion and pepper too. Stir for 2-3 minutes more and remove from flame. 
Serve hot and enjoy!!!

  1. Most tandoori masalas have salt added in them already.  Taste and check for the presence of salt if not add salt to taste
  2. If you want it less spicy add 3tbsps of tandoori masala instead of 5
  3. Chaat masala can be increased or decreased according to your taste. Chaat masala is also usually present in tandoori masala so make sure you don't add too much of it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mattar Pulao

Any Rice dish in my house is always welcomed and relished by my daughter and husband. Zia, my 21 month old daughter loves rice and rice with mattar (peas) in them is a double treat for her. The minute she sees green peas in her food, she starts digging in. Its a little game for her :) she thinks the peas are little balls that mommy puts in for her to play with and then eat. This works great for me!!! She has her greens with no fuss and we are all happy.
Zia was delighted to see her dinner today. RICE and PEAS!!!
digging in to find her little green balls
This is a simple dish that takes very little time, is filling and can be served plain or with any curry.

To make mattar pulao you will need

Preparation time - 10 minutes
Cooking time - 25 minutes
Serves 4

500 g rice - soaked for half an hour and drained of all its water
1 onion - sliced
3 tbsps oil
1 tsp black cumin seeds
2-3 bay leaves
2 black cardamoms
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp garlic paste
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
salt to taste
2 glasses of water to cook the rice


  • Heat the oil in a flat based pan. Add the onions to this and sauté until translucent
  • Then add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, garlic paste, peas and salt to taste. Continue to sauté for another 5-7 minutes
  • Add the water to this, cover and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil add the pre soaked rice to this and stir, replace lid and let it cook. When the rice comes to a boil, remove lid and simmer. After 5 minutes, stir to check the amount of water.
you can see the amount of water remaining on the left. let it cook some more at this stage

after another3-5 minutes the amount of water remaining will reduce and you will see tiny bubbles forming in the water.let it reach this stage
  • Once it reaches the stage of tiny bubbles cover the pan with tin foil and replace lid. Let it cook on very low flame for 20 minutes. The tin foil ensures none of the steam escapes and that the rice is well cooked in the little water remaining.
this is how the pulao will look
after 20 minutes

Serve hot with any curry of your choice or plain. Enjoy

  1. Before adding the rice to the water, taste it to check if the amount of salt is right. The amount of salt added is diluted due to the addition of water.
  2. There are people who use newspaper to cover the pan instead of tin foil.PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS as the lead in the print can poison your food.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mint Chutney

Mint Chutney reminds me of the numerous times I've sat at a restaurant waiting for the food while feasting on the complimentary poppadam and mint chutney :) I could finish the whole bowl of chutney plain. 
This is one thing I always have in my fridge cos it goes great with absolutely anything. From tandoori chicken to kebabs and pakoras. It also makes a great spread for sandwiches. 
Many people I know do not use corriander while making mint chutney. I however, think it makes a lovely base for chutney.

So here's what you will need to make it

Preparation time - 5 minutes

2 handfuls of corriander - chopped
1 handful of mint leaves
1 tsp green chilli paste or 3 green chillies chopped
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 1/2 tbsps thick creamy yogurt
salt to taste

  • Throw in all the ingredients into a grinder and grind into a smooth paste
Enjoy with all your snacks.

  1. If you like a more minty taste you can increase the quantity of Mint leaves.
  2. Increase or decrease the amount of chilli according to your level of spice
  3. If you love mayo then try this - add 1 tbsp mint chutney to 2 tbsps mayo and make a lovely dip out of it

Shami Kebabs

Shami kebab literally means Syrian kebab (Sham) in ArabicThese succulent Juicy kebabs have been around since the Moghul era.I however, learned how to make them from my mom who is the best cook i know :)
Shami kebabs are very popular in India and are usually made with beef, Channa dal(lentil) and a bit of rice.I have gone for the healthier option and chosen chicken here instead.It tastes equally good with chicken as it does with beef.
These kebabs make a grand starter and do not take much time to prepare.They have always been a hit at my dinner parties.They can also be served as a whole meal dish with freshly cut salad, naan bread and any sauce of your choice.

Shami kebabs need a bit of pre planning though.The chicken needs to be marinated in ginger garlic paste and left over night or for a minimum of 4-6 hours.The daal and rice also needs to be washed and pre soaked in hot water for an hour to ensure they are soft and get cooked well. Use just enough water to soak the daal and rice. 

To make these delicious kebabs you will need

Cooking time - 20 minutes
Preparation time - 15 minutes
Makes roughly 40 medium sized kebabs

1kg bonless chicken washed and cut into cubes and marinated in 2tsp ginger paste and 1tsp garlic paste
175g channa daal
75g rice
7-10 whole red chillies
1tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala(mixed spices)
1 handful chopped corriander
1tbsp whole cumin seeds
1tbsp whole corriander seeds
2eggs lightly beaten
salt to taste

  • Place the marinated chicken and pre soaked dal and rice in a pressure cooker along with the whole red chillies and salt to taste. Cover with the water in which the daal was soaked. You can add more if required. Make sure there is just enough water to cover the chicken.Adding too much water will make the kebabs soggy and hard to make.

  • Pressure cook until chicken is tender. This usually takes 20 minutes
  • Make sure there is no left over water in the chicken, daal, rice and chilli mixture.If there is any water remaining, dry it on high flame making sure you dont burn the mixture.
  • Wait for it to cool. Then using a hand blender or mixer grinder, blend this mixture into a paste.It will be thick and slightly sticky due to the presence of daal. Transfer into a big mixing bowl.
  • To this add the chilli powder(the red chilli powder can be adjusted to your level of spice. The kebab mix already has whole chillies in it so adjust accordingly.), garam masala and chopped corriander.
  • Put the whole cumin and corriander seeds on a pan and roast it until it crackles.Add this to the Chicken mixture. Mix well until evenly spread

  • Add eggs to this and mix gently. The eggs should be added just before you make the kebabs. Egg ensures proper binding of all the ingredients

  • Then make small balls and flatten them with your hand.Shallow fry this in a pan and serve hot with onions and lime.Mint chutney goes great with this.

1kg chicken makes around 40 medium sized kebabs but if you don't want to make so many kebabs, you can halve the quantity of all the ingredients and make half as many. I usually freeze them and store them in food packets to fry and have later. Its great to have these in the freezer for those lazy days when you don't want to cook. Just fry these delicious kebabs and enjoy with naan bread and salad. 
If you shami kebab mixture does become soft/sticky then add a slice or 2 of plain bread into the mixture. Knead it into the mixture so it absorbs the excess water. You can also add bread crumbs or toast the bread slice and powder it before adding it to the mix. Alternatively you can add 1-2 tbsps of gram flour. Addition of gram flour does change the taste a bit.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...