Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kaju Katli On Shubh Deepawali

Hello ji, knock knock, anybody there?
Well now that I have started writing this post, and assuming you all have started reading this post .May I say, or rather ask you all, have you missed me? Now don't say "No” for that matter, actually deep down I just wanted to hear “Yes”. Well if it’s yes I am really happy – and that happy means a big “happy” with this smiling face J .Now, I should write more. Rolling my sleeves, bring it on.

Oh this is the time; I mean autumn time, lovely fall season around us. And also our festival season going around. Couple of weeks ago it was Durga Puja and Vijayadashmi.Sorry; I was not blogging then so couldn't wish you all. But hey, now that I have updated the blog and what better way than to update it on the very auspicious day of Diwali.
Let me wish all of you a very happy Diwali, cook loads of sweets, namkins etc and enjoy. I won’t be saying much as when we light a diya in every corner of our home, it eradicates darkness that surrounds us. May this light guide you ahead in your life and bring you peace, prosperity, health and harmony.

Yesterday made some sweets and one of them is kaju katli – cashew sweets. When I checked the blog recipe page, I realized that I haven’t written the recipe yet. Although I have made this sweet many times. There were some cooking mishaps as well, and sometimes the mixture won’t collect well on a bad cooking day. Yes, it happens and nothing to hide about it. But then there were also some days, I thought I will post the recipe with pictures. But when I realized, sweets were all gone and finished. Now, it’s a good feeling when the things you cook, is liked by your family, a rewarding satisfaction, isn’t?
But yesterday it came out well.So; I took the pictures and thought, its show and tell time.

Here is how we made it
Kaju Katli (Diamond shaped cashews sweet)
Recipe requirements
2 cups of cashews
3-4 heaped tbs of plain flour
1 and ½ cups of sugar( or as per taste)
¼ cup of water
5-6 saffron threads
1 tsp of cardamom powder
 4-5 tbs of ghee or clarified butter
We will first start with making sugar syrup for this sweet. The sugar syrup needs to be very thick and sticky. As when you will add cashew flour and plain flour within 5-7 mints it should stick together and can collect well. This may take some time, but make sure you do go to the stage when sugar syrup is two thread consistency.Now, add in ghee or clarified butter and also saffron threads. Put the flame at low level. Please take big vessel for syrup making so that you can stir and mix well.
Dry grind cashews in a grinder. Take them out and keep aside. Mix in plain flour and cardamom powder with it. I generally do add plain flour, as it helps in binding so does the sugar syrup.
Now at this stage you have to be quick, stirring the mixture frequently so that it doesn’t get burnt or get stuck at the pan base. Once they start to collect well. Take out little sample and try to roll in your palm, if it does shape well, it’s time to take the mixture off from further cooking.
Now grease a flat surface with oil very well. And take the mixture out and roll into a flat circle quickly. I have divided the mixture into two equal portions and then rolled it with the help of a rolling pin.
Please do not let it cool as when cooled it will be hardened and not easy, then to work out quickly.
After a while, make knife marks criss-cross and in diamond shape. Your kaju katli/cashew sweet is ready to be tasted. 
If you wish you can even decorate it with silver foil.Once it gets cooled off completely, store in an air tight container. This home-made cashew sweet remains fresh for 4-5 days. Refrigerate them and it stays fresh few more days.

Enjoy and have loads of sweets and please don’t count calories for that matter.

Wish you all readers a very happy happy Diwali J….

Friday, September 5, 2014

Boneless Chicken Dry Stir/Fry preparation - Chicken "Sukha" cooked with coconut and spices

Kids are back to school again and a month long summer holidays are over here. This means now, I have some spare time to devote on this blog. When ever we talk about non-veggie preparations, always red color, oil drenching gravy springs to our mind. But that being told, not all the chicken or even meat  preparations are doused with red coloring and flavor incorporating Kashmiri red pepper powder or even “Ratan Jot” for instance, both known to give that distinct red colors to the meat gravies. Sometimes even carmalization of sugar also adds up to the final result. But then there are some recipes which are very earthy, getting that distinct color from grounded turmeric and other Indian spices. 

This dry stir/fry preparation – or known as “Sukha’ in Hindi is a classic example. This chicken preparation, as it looks might not be a visual delight or what ever way you want to put it, but it has a very satisfying flavor of hotness and sweetness  with just a hint of sourness. And I would like to repeat, not all gravies or preparations are red in color, doused with heavy use of cooking oil.
But to be honest I had this chicken   fish preparation for the first time, in one of our south Indian friend‘s home. And seeing that I felt it might be just another passing thing as it was not at all, let’s say appealing to eyes, but when I had my food portions in my mouth, I knew it “K’, a sweet and down to earth person who made this preparation, is a great cook. I somehow fell in love with the sweetness of coconut and hotness of the freshly churned spices. I immediately asked her recipe and she obliged me with that. She had made this preparation with firm boneless cat-fish nuggets; all the spices and procedure remain same except the use of chicken in this recipe. We have moved in our life and so is K and M, our friends, but these precious little things about them, are always with us and I hope some of ours have remained with them also. That other day we were remembering them and DH reminded me about that dry stir/fry fish preparation that K, M’s wife had made that day. Actually, I wanted to make a dry preparation of chicken for a long time, so when DH asked me about that recipe, I thought why not give a try with chicken instead of fish.

There is no guessing game in this, coconut, curry leaves, brown mustard seeds and Anar dana is part of this preparation, and I know she had added tamarind paste to the original recipe, but since I don’t keep tamarind in my pantry, I happen to substitute it with Anar dana/dried pomegranate seeds. Any other souring agent like aamchur powder can also be used. The basic guideline is just to add a hint of sourness, not overwhelming contents. And I do keep a good stock of jalapenos peppers these days, so I happen to add them quite frequently in these types of dry stir/fry preparations. Actually they do add nice hotness to this stir/fry preparation.
Now that you know the basic ingredients, will write the recipe. And remember not all the gravy or meat preparations are red in colour. Some even are subtle and perhaps have loads of texture and taste way better than those oil drenched, red color gravies.

Boneless Chicken Dry Stir/fry – Sukha preparation with coconut and spices- South Indian Style
Recipe requirements
500 Gms of boneless chicken breast pieces cut into small bite size pieces
2 large purple onions
3-4 fat cloves garlic
½ inch fresh ginger root
½ cup of freshly scraped coconut or desiccated coconut
2-3 tbs of dried anardana/ dried pomegranate seeds
½ tsp of ajwain/carom seeds
2-3 cloves
2 black cardamoms
½ tsp of brown mustard seeds
Few cinnamon strands or cassia barks
2-3 jalapenos
3-4 rocket green chillies
Cumin powder- ¼ tsp
Coriander powder- 1 ½ tsp
Black pepper powder- 1 tsp
½ cup of Greek style yogurt
3-4 strands of curry leaves
½ tsp of salt or as per taste
3-4 tbs of cooking oil or use as per required

Wash and clean chicken breast pieces. Pat them dry and prick with a fork all over and cut them into bite size pieces. Sprinkle salt also.
Make a paste of onion, ginger, garlic, jalapenos, rocket green chilies, coconut, dried pomegranate seeds and carom seeds. Add in yogurt and mix very well. Now marinate this paste with the chicken breast pieces and keep aside for 2-3 hrs in fridge. You can even do overnight marinating.
Heat up a saucepan/wok/kadai.Add in cooking oil. Add in mustard seeds, let it splutter.
Add in curry leaves. Add in cloves, cinnamon and black cardamom.
Add in marinated chicken pieces with whole of the spice paste. Keep on stir/fry for 15-20 mints, sprinkle very little water if it starts to stick up in the base.
Cover the content and let it cook at medium –low flame for about 30-35 mints or till the chicken pieces are soft and pale in color.
These same preparations can also be made with other seafood like- prawn and crab.
Vegetarian can use paneer and tofu in place of meat or chicken.
You can even make a quick wrap with this chicken preparation.

Happy Cooking Friends