Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Classic Pound Cake

A classic dense, yet soft, pound cake is one I've always loved. I remember my mother would bake it for us, and it would be fresh and warm when we got home from school. And then the bakery across the street baked an excellent pound cake, which she would buy for us instead. Dédé Wilson, the author of this recipe, says that this freezes well too. Double wrap it in plastic wrap, put it in a zip lock, squeeze the air out, and freeze it. I have some in my freezer, and will pull a slice out tomorrow and spread some chocolate-hazelnut spread on it for breakfast. Decadent and delicious!

When it comes to baking I'm a stickler about measurements, temperatures, and also equipment. Read the entire recipe first, then read it again to make sure that you didn't miss anything out, and then follow the recipe when you bake it. There is nothing worse than starting the mixing process when you realize that you missed a step or an ingredient is too cold and it's ruining your batter. 

One of the most important steps in this recipe is creaming the butter. The recipe asks for the butter to be creamed for about 2 minutes, and that is about right, but if you look at it, and it isn't creamed or fluffy enough, then give it another minute or so. Similarly for when you add the sugar, beat it more if it isn't fluffy enough. 
After the creaming stage, don't over beat anything. In fact, stop when you think that maybe it needs one last beat. The last phase will ask you to fold in the flour, at which you can make sure that it is all incorporated. Gently and lovingly, fold in the flour, to ensure that all the lightness to the batter that has been created with the creaming isn't lost. 

Recipe courtesy: Dédé Wilson
Yield: Serves 10

1 2/3 cups (173g) sifted bleached cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (266g) superfine sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs, at room temperature


  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325F (165C). Coat an 8-by-4-inch (20-by-10cm) metal loaf pan with nonstick baking spray (the kind with the fat and flour, such as Baker’s Joy). Line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper that extends up and out of the narrow sides of the pan; coat the paper as well.
  2. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. 
  3. Whisk the eggs together in a large measuring cup, or whisk in a bowl and transfer to a pitcher with a spout, set aside. 
  4. Beat the butter in bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. 
  5. Gradually add the sugar, 1/4 cup (50g) at a time (you can do this by eye) and beat on high speed until the mixture has lightened and is very fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Do not rush this step. The mixture should be room temperature at this point. Turn off the mixer and touch the mixture to check. Keep beating if it is cool to the touch. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Add the eggs about 1 tablespoon at a time (you can do this by eye), beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl occasionally. Once all the eggs are added, beat the mixture for about 30 seconds to make sure it is thoroughly combined. It should be smooth and satiny. If it looks curdled or separated in any way, the mixture is still too cold. Let it sit to warm up a bit and beat again, looking for the visual cues described above.
  7. Sift about one-third of the flour mixture over the batter (removing the bowl from the stand mixer, if using), and fold in gently with a large silicone spatula. Stop when a few streaks of flour remain, then add the next batch of flour mixture and continue until all has been added. Make sure all the flour mixture has been incorporated into the batter to create a thick and smooth homogenous batter. Scrape the batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with a small offset spatula.
  8. Bake until a wooden toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted into the cake just tests clean when removed, 70 minutes to 80 minutes. The toothpick should look a bit moist and not bone-dry. Halfway through the baking, rotate the pan once front to back. The timing will depend on the temperature of your ingredients when the cake went into the oven. Cool the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then unfold the cake, peel away the parchment, place the cake upright, and cool completely. Store the cake, well wrapped with plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 4 days. Cake texture is best, and it slices most neatly after an overnights rest.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Orange Cardamom Crumb Coffee Cake

 Imagine slicing into a warm and moist cake, with a crusty and spicy crumb topping, sipping your cup of hot coffee (or tea in my case). Life will definitely be good at that moment. Dédé Wilson's recipe is true perfection. Just follow it exactly and you are guaranteed perfection. 
With baking you have to measure precisely, timings and temperatures are important. And use the pan recommended. An 8-inch square pan, with straight upright edges, will work great for this cake. 

Yield: Serves 9 to 12
Recipe Courtesy Dédé Wilson

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup (169g) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground cardamom)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (156g) all-purpose flour

2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup  (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup (198g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
1 tablespoon orange zest (if making Orange Cardamon Cake variation)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (227g) sour cream, at room temperature

  1. For the crumb topping: Whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon (or cinnamon and cardamom, if making the Orange Cardamom Cake variation), and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour. Create crumbs by squeezing the mixture together with fingers. Set aside.
  2. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325F (165C). Coat an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan with nonstick baking spray. 
  3. For the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue to beat on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla (and the orange zest if making the Orange Cardamom Cake variation). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. The mixture might look curdled, that’s okay.
  5. Add the flour mixture in three batches alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat briefly until smooth. The batter will be thick. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a small offset spatula. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter, covering it completely and gently pressing the topping onto the batter.
  6. Bake until a wooden toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted into the cake shows a few moist crumbs when removed, 55 to 65 minutes. The crumb topping will be golden brown and perhaps a bit crusty. Cool the pan on a rack for at least 20 minutes. The cake is ready to serve warm or at room temperature, simply cut into squares. Store the cake well wrapped (still in pan) with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Orange Cardamom Crumb Coffee Cake Variation
Use 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon cardamom for the topping. Add 1 tablespoon orange zest to the batter when you add the vanilla. Make sure it is extra fine in texture and made with a Microplane rasp style zester.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Banana Nutella Cake

I keep reading this recipe in my Alice's TeaCup cookbook and wanting to make it, but then save the ripe bananas to make The Best Ever Banana Bread. This time around, the ripe bananas made their way into this recipe. And am I happy about it! It is a two-layer cake, but I frosted one layer for us at home, and the other layer got frosted and sent to school, to my sons joy and excitement (without the Nutella layer to keep it nut-free)! The recipe below will describe it as a two-layer cake. 

Makes one 8-inch two layer cake
From Alice’s TeaCup

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 very ripe bananas

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup / 8oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 cups Nutella


  1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. Have ready two 8-inch round pans
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients
  3. In a large bowl, use a mixer to cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs and mix until well blended. With the mixer set to low, add a little bit of the flour mixture at a time, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla, mixing just until smooth. 
  4. Use a spatula to gently fold in the bananas. 
  5. Pour the batter evenly between the two cake pans, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Set the layers aside to cool completely in the pans before frosting the cake.
  6. To make the frosting: Use a mixer to cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  7. Frost each layer with Nutella and stack them. Spread the cream cheese over the top and sides. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Murgh Hariyali (Indian Herbed Chicken)

I woke up this morning craving a delicious spicy Indian chicken, that I would make for myself as opposed to the kids! So my sweet kids got leftovers, and I indulged and cooked for myself. A look through Aditya Bal's cookbook The Chakh Le India Cookbook, and I settled on Murgh Hariyali. Give it your time, labour of love, and it'll reward you. 

A fantastic fresh hara or herby green masala takes this Himachal recipe to another level. A classic example of the rustic pahadi or mountain recipe with succulent chicken in a thick and intensely flavored green gravy, with warm spices, such as the pepper and cloves, come through beautifully with the buttery curd and milk-based gravy. This one is a must! 

1kg chicken, skin-off, bone-on.
1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon medium-hot red chilli powder 
1-2 teaspoons refined oil

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2-inch cinnamon stick
4–5 cloves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 hot green chilies
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro, with some of the tender stems
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon ghee
2 brown cardamoms
1/2-inch cinnamon stick
1 onion, chopped fine
Salt, to taste
1 cup whisked curd
1/2 cup milk
1 spring onion (white part only) sliced into rings

  1. Cut the chicken in curry-sized pieces and trim. Wash and drain thoroughly. Combine with salt and marinade ingredients. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. 
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan and all the masala ingredients, until it exudes their aroma and changes color. Turn off the heat and transfer to a grinder. Add a little water and grind to make a fine vivid green paste. The masala paste should be hot and spicy and smell wonderfully fresh with all the herbs and spring onions. Set aside.
  3. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. 
  4. Heat the ghee in a deep pan. When it’s bubbling hot, add the whole spices and fry for a minute, till colored and aromatic.
  5. Stir in the chopped onion and sauté on medium heat, till soft and lightly colored. Do not brown.
  6. Turn up the heat a little and add the green masala paste to the pan. Fry the paste with the onion and whole spices, till it begins to turn dark green.
  7. Add a little water to cook the masala on high heat, till it’s a rich, deep green and the ghee rises to the surface.
  8. Once the masala is well cooked and amalgamated, add the marinated chicken to the pan. Season well with salt, turn up the heat and fry the chicken in the masala for 10–12 minutes, to give it its lovely, greenish golden color.
  9. Turn the heat down to medium and stir the chicken a few times to mix everything together. Add the whisked curd and fry with the chicken for a few minutes, till the gravy is thick and almost full absorbed.
  10. Next, add the milk and stir everything a couple of times to mix. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover the pan and gently simmer the chicken, till it’s deliciously tender, almost coming off the bone and the oil has risen to the surface. By now, the gravy will be a rich, deep green in color.
  11. When the chicken is thoroughly cooked and meltingly tender, uncover the pan, turn |Mix in the spring onions and serve hot! 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fennel & Coriander Crusted Tuna Steak with Lemon Aioli

Today I am feeling very accomplished. Not because my lunch was as delicious (& healthy) as it was, but because it took me no more than 15 minutes, from start to finish, to get it on my plate. Fennel and Coriander Crusted Tuna Steak, with Lemon Aioli, with a side of Mixed Green Salad and Pomegrante, served over Quinoa. Granted that the Quinoa was ready (I boil a large batch in chicken broth and eat it through the week), but it was still quite a quick meal to whip up! 

Serves 2 
15 minutes

2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 6-oz tuna steaks, washed and patted dry
Freshly cracked sae salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest


  1. In a 10-inch skillet, dry roast the fennel and coriander seeds, over medium-high heat, for a minute or two, or until the spice releases its aroma. Remove, let it cool, and grind it in a spice grinder to a coarse texture. Remove on a flat plate. Add the freshly cracked salt and pepper to the spice mixture. Mix.
  2. In the same skillet, heat the oil. While the oil heats, prepare the tuna steak.
  3. Season generously both sides of the steak with the spice rub. Pat it into the tuna for it to stick well. 
  4. Grill tuna until seared outside and rare in the center, about 4 minutes per side.
  5. While the tuna grills, in a small bowl mix the 3 ingredients for the lemon aioli.
  6. Plate the tuna and spoon the lemon aioli over the fish. 
Serve with a tossed salad of your choice and over quinoa or couscous. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cauliflower Soup

It's the Fall, and although it isn't that cold as yet, but it doesn't hurt to start eating comforting soups. The kids love it, and they eat it while I finish up the rest of the dinner. The most satisfying moment tonight was when my 20-month old daughter Shalina finished her bowl, looked up at me, smiled and said "yummy yummy". 
Most soups I make usually start with heating little butter and olive oil, sweating some onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in the fat. Add the vegetable of the choice, broth for flavor, and potato for the starch. This is pretty much what I did for the cauliflower, with a few minor changes. And instead of the croutons, I added some almond slivers— the kids loved it too! 

The combination of cauliflower and potatoes add a nice creamy feel to the soup, without adding the calories of heavy cream! 

My new best friend is the pressure cooker. Years were spent afraid of the cooker, afraid that it would blast open into my face, but all I had to do was use it once, and I was hooked. It shaves off so much time from your cooking, and since it steam cooks the food, you can use less of the fat while cooking. 

Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 white onion, minced
2–3 celery stalks, finely sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 sticks thyme (or more if you like it)
1/2 large cauliflower head, about 3/4lb, chopped into 1-inch chunks
4 baby potatoes, skin on, quartered
4 cups chicken broth
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Almond slivers, to garnish
Truffle or extra virgin olive oil, to garnish

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery. Sauté for a minute or two, add the garlic and thyme. 
2. Follow by adding the cauliflower, potatoes. Give it a mix to coat the vegetables with the onions.
3. Pour in the broth (if using a pressure cooker, then only use 2 cups broth), bring it to a boil and cover and let it simmer on medium-low heat (if using a pressure cooker, let it cook for 3 whistles). 
4. Puree the soup in batches. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with almond slivers and a finishing oil of your choice. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Saffron Chicken, Indian Style

I went into the kitchen today, ready to cook my favorite Simple Chicken Curry, but changed it around instead. We are spending the summer in Spain, and I paid homage to one of its much acclaimed ingredients— Saffron. Most importantly, the kids ate and enjoyed the Saffron chicken, served over rice. 

This dish would work great to serve to a large crowd (double or triple the recipe), or for a family meal too. 

If you want to add a vegetable to the meal, add some finely chopped spinach right at the end, into the curry. 

Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons hot water
1 onion, minced
2–3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger, minced
2 large green chilis, minced
5 organic chicken drumsticks, bone-in, skin-off
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon cardamon powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add saffron threads and fry for a minute or two, remove with a slotted spoon and mix in a small bowl with the hot water.
  2. Add the onions to the pot with the saffron-infused oil, ginger, garlic, and chilis and fry until very soft, about 8–10 minutes.
  3. While the onions fry, wash and pat dry the chicken. Season the chicken with salt. Set aside.
  4. Add the dry spices to the onion mixture and cook for another 2 minutes at least. 
  5. Follow by adding the chicken and coat it well in the onion mixture. Let it cook for 5 minutes, keep mixing it. 
  6. Add the saffron–water mixture along with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover and let it simmer for at least half an hour. 
  7. Using tongs, remove the chicken onto the serving plate. In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and water. Add the cornstarch slurry to the gravy in the pot and let it come to a boil. Pour the gravy over the chicken in the serving dish and serve hot. 
Serve over rice or with warm naan. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Brussels Sprouts and Dill Chicken Burgers

Lately, these chicken burgers are what I have been eating a LOT of. My husband and kids love it. I make a large batch, and then I'm set for a meal or two! Plus, it gets some green veggies in too.  Improvise this recipe to suit your pantry. 

Change the greens around, add herbs of your choice, use different spice mixtures, switch the chicken to turkey or beef. Enjoy and get creative, barbecue away this summer! 

1 tablespoon coconut oil 
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch ginger, minced
1 cup finely sliced brussel sprouts (or 1/2 bunch spinach, finely sliced, or 1 cup finely sliced Kale)
2 tablespoons fresh dill (optional)
1 teaspoon garam masala
Salt, to taste

1 lb ground chicken
1 teaspoon coriander powder
Red chili powder, to taste (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Fry the cumin seeds for a minute, or until the color changes slightly, do not burn the seeds. Immediately add the onions and sauté until it turns pink. 
  2. Once the onions turn pink, add the green vegetable (brussels sprouts or spinach or kale), dill, garam masala, and salt. Cook until the vegetable is cooked, remove from heat.
  3. While the onion-vegetable mixture cools, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the ground chicken, coriander powder, red chili powder, and fresh cilantro.
  4. Mix the cooled onion-vegetable mixture with the ground chicken and form burgers. Use an ice cream scoop to make it easier. 
  5. Cook the burgers over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side.
If you want to freeze the burgers, form them and lay the uncooked burgers out on a baking tray. Put it in the freezer for 15–20 minutes. Remove and put them in a resealable bag. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Double Chocolate Cookies

It's a rainy day, and schools are closed for the summer holidays— keeping my four year old busy with decorating a chefs hat, an apron, and baking cookies was a super fun way to be cooped up at home. 

I tried a recipe from The Everything Kids Cookbook and we surely weren't disappointed. The cookies are soft and chewy, rich and decadent. 

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the first five ingredients, until smooth.
  3. Add the next four ingredients.
  4. When the batter is smooth and creamy, stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, or use a melon scoop to make them even and easier for your kid to do.
  6. Bake for 8 minutes for chewy cookies and longer (up to 10 minutes) for crispier ones.
  7. Remove cookies from oven and let it cool for 1 minute before removing cookies.

Monday, June 1, 2015

South Indian Egg Roast

I have no idea how I lived my entire life without eating these eggs. A few boiled eggs in the fridge go a long way for me— a quick breakfast, an egg salad sandwich for my kids, or an egg and tomato curry. Now that I discovered this recipe on Spices and Aroma, I am hooked! It has changed the way I view a boiled egg forever— and it'll probably change yours too. Someone suggested that we put it directly on the grill, I haven't tried it, but it sounds like a pretty amazing idea.

5 boiled eggs, peeled, sliced in half length wise

2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
2 tablespoons curry leaves, finely chopped
Salt, Pepper, to taste

Water to mix spices into a paste

2 tablespoons vegetable, coconut, or olive oil

  1. Make a smooth thick paste with all the ingredients, except boiled eggs and oil.
  2. Heat oil in a wide saucepan.
  3. Using hands, smear a layer of the spice mix and gently layer the eggs and let it brown on each side, about 10–12 minutes. Remove and serve hot with rice or any carb of your choice.

Tandoori Shrimp

I could barely believe it when my dear friend Gunjan called me, to ask me to help her teach high school students, at the Dalton School, Indian cooking. The main reason I began writing this blog, was to share quick and easy recipes, and help promote more home cooking. Teaching kids felt like it was the ultimate! 

This recipe, inspired by a recipe by Suvir Saran, in his book American Masala, was simple and delicious. It also helped introduce the students to some of the many Indian spices. Make a batch of the marinate, smear it on paneer, shrimp, fish, chicken, lamb, cauliflower or anything you fancy, and enjoy! Adjust the spice levels and make it kid-friendly. My four year old son loved it on shrimp (omitted the chili for him). In fact, we had some extra mushrooms at the class, so I grilled the mushrooms on a cast iron pan, with the sour cream tandoori marinade and it turned out delicious!  

The students responded very well to this recipe and hopefully some of them will be cooking it at home! And read the notes below for other ways you can apply this recipe, and get more creative. 

For the marinade:
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 small red onion, quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon toasted cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon red chili (or cayenne pepper)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of garam masala

1 1/2 lbs shrimp, medium (shelled and deveined), about 20–25 pieces

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 lemon, juiced + 1 lemon, cut into wedges for serving
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, for garnish

  1. Place all of the marinade ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  2. Pour over shrimp, cover and marinade for half an hour or overnight.
  3. Preheat the grill or grill pan to medium-high (you should be able to hold your hand 5-inches above the grate).
  4. Add the oil, and grill the shrimp in batches, to not overcrowd the pan or grill, cooking until each side is browned, 2 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove from the pan, squeeze lemon juice and garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro.

  1. The shrimp can be substituted for chicken or lamb. Revise cooking time accordingly. 
  2. Tandoor Shrimp Pizza: You can serve it on a flat bread of your choice (such as Indian naan / focaccia / pizza dough), spread hummus on the flat bread, add 4 pieces of shrimp on each flat bread, top with cilantro chutney, sprinkle with some goat cheese, garnish with chopped cilantro and finely diced red pepper.
  3. Tandoor Shrimp Sliders: Spread mayonnaise on a slider bun, green chutney (or pesto), tomato slices, onion slices, Tandoor shrimp, and fresh cilantro. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Easy Chicken Coconut Curry

With three kids to feed, I need, in my recipe bank, as many healthy one pot dishes as possible. And two of those mouths only have four teeth each! My one-year old twin girls still need their food pureed down slightly. When my husbands aunt, Didi Meenu, shared this recipe with me, I thought it would make cooking for all easy! My husband and I added some red chili to spice it up! Serve over basmati rice.

And let's not forget the most important part— this coconut curry was complete, from start to finish, in 22 minutes! Using a pressure cooker did help. If you don't have a pressure cooker, then cook it on a regular pot, but it will take longer. 

1 large onion, chopped (finely mince and reserve 1/4 onion)
3 large tomatoes, chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1-inch ginger, peeled
1 14-oz can coconut milk (you can use the light version too)
Green chillies, to taste (optional)
2 small pieces of cinnamon 
1 teaspoon cardamon powder
Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

5–6 curry leaves

1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut into bite-sized cubes, marinated in salt

1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 cup water

Cilantro, for garnish


  1. In a blender, blend 3/4 of the onion, along with the next nine ingredients
  2. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil, fry the curry leaves and then sauté 1/4 of the onion (minced). Add the chicken and sauté until it is slightly dried up. 
  3. Follow by adding the coconut milk mixture, coriander and turmeric powders. Add water, if needed. Cover and let it cook for two whistles.
  4. Garnish with cilantro leaves, and serve over fresh basmati rice.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Celery Soup

This last weekend we went for dinner at one of our favorite French restaurants— Deux Amis. Our sons standard order is the soup of the day, grilled calamari, and pink-fish, a.k.a salmon. So on a lovely spring evening, we sat there with our four year old son, and twin one year old girls, eating Celery Soup. Two evenings later, my son requested the same soup. I did my best to re-create it. 

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

1 bunch celery hearts, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 small waxy potato
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups vegetable / chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh dill 
Salt, to taste

  1. In a 5qt pot, cook the first four ingredients for 8–10 minutes. Keep stirring.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and it let it cook for another 10–15 minutes.
  3. Puree to a smooth consistency. Garnish with celery leaves and sea salt.

Chicken Satay

One of our favorite meals at home, growing up, was chicken satay, with steamed vegetables (like potato, bean sprouts, spinach, cabbage, tofu) with peanut sauce. Given my sons peanut allergy, I cannot share this special meal with him— but I can make chicken satay for him. I served the chicken satay with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce, but below you will find recipes for a Faux No-Peanut Peanut Sauce, and then the real Peanut sauce (both of which I have made, and work great). 

Don't forget that you can make a large batch of the satays, put them in a zip lock bag, and freeze it for when you want them next. I freeze them in a serving portion for my family, so that gives me 6-8 skewers per bag. Works great for that weeknight meal.

Chicken Satay
6 servings, about 24 skewers

2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, thinly sliced (optional)
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, pounced flat and cut into long strips

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients except for the chicken, in a shallow baking dish. 
  2. Add the chicken to the marinade in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. While the chicken marinates, soak about 24 skewers in water for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from the marinade and thread the chicken pieces onto skewers.
  5. Lightly oil a grill pan to medium-high; sear the chicken in batches until cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

No-Peanut Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (I used fat-free) 
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
3 tablespoons honey or 2 teaspoons palm sugar or 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 clove garlic, crushed
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 cup smooth sunflower butter
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (optional)
Black pepper, to taste
2 pinches of cumin

Chili oil, to taste (optional)

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the coconut milk, salt, lemon or lime juice, and honey.
  2. Add the balance ingredients and stir until smooth. If it is too thick, add a bit more of the coconut milk.
Real Peanut Sauce
1 kilo / 1/2 pound roasted peanuts (ground)
1 red onion (chopped finely)
4 pods of garlic (crushed)
1 inch ginger (grated)
1 cup tamarind juice
5 tablespoons dark brown sugar or 3 tablespoons honey
Salt and red pepper, to taste
3 cups of water

  • Heat oil on a high flame; add onions, ginger and garlic. Sauté until nearly burnt.
  • Add ground peanuts and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. Peanuts should have a ‘smoked’ feeling to it.
  • Add tamarind juice, brown sugar, salt and red pepper. Mix properly and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add water slowly and keep stirring so that the sauce does not stick to the pan. Let it boil until the oil separates and comes to the top.
  • Cover the saucepan and let it simmer for 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat, keep it covered for another half hour or so.
To serve
  • Serve with boiled vegetables: spinach, cabbage, potatoes, tofu, bean sprouts, cucumber, fried prawn crackers (kheecha) etc.
  • To top the sauce, have deep fried and burnt finely chopped onions / red chilli powder.
Can also eat with white rice and fried shrimp crackers.