Saturday, October 30, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Cake...

Due to popular demand (no, don't laugh... folks are really asking for it) I'm putting up this wonderful cake recipe too right on the heels of my last recipe. This cake is seriously good, it gets wolfed down in seconds, and the divine smell of cinnamon wafting through the house is in a way invigorating. 

Ingredients:
1 cup maida (or all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 1/2 Tablespoon butter (roughly 40 gms)
1 Egg
1/2 cup milk
2 medium sized apples (peeled, cored and sliced)

First combine half the powdered sugar with the cinnamon powder in a bowl. Also combine the maida with the baking powder in another container.

The rest of the sugar and the 40 gms of butter go into another bowl.

Drop in one egg and beat up the mixture.

Now alternatively add the flour...
and the milk stirring after each addition to form a nice creamy batter of pouring consistency. 

Grease and flour the cake tray, pour in half the batter...

Arrange sliced apples in layers over the batter...

Sprinkle half the sugar cinnamon powder over the apples...

Now pour the remaining batter over the apples... and sprinkle the rest of the sugar cinnamon powder over it. (I did not use the entire thing, I thought it might be too sweet...so I sprinkled only a little and it was good enough. It depends on you really... use your intuition.) Now stick it in the oven and let it bake for 20 to 25 minutes till it turns slightly brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out looking clean.
Here is the Apple Cinnamon cake straight out of the oven, looking wonderful & smelling heavenly. 

The juicy succulent apples inside...
I really love this cake, will definitely make it again using double the quantity of ingredients. Do give this a try and have a wonderful time reveling in the pure pleasure that wafts out of the oven and fills your home when you bake this delightfully easy cake.

Spicy Chicken Briyani...

Here's an easy briyani recipe that I learnt from my mom in law, I like this kind of briyani where the rice gets cooked along with the chicken. There are the other varieties where the chicken is cooked separately and boiled rice is then mixed with it in alternating layers. Since I don't really like plain white rice, I find that briyani bland... this one here is exciting, spicy and dangerously good. Briyani is preferably made with Basmati rice (long grained rice), you can use ordinary rice too... it will taste just as good. The only difference lies in the amount of water you add for both the rice varieties. The pictures posted here were taken when I made briyani with both basmati and ordinary rice, so don't get surprised if the pressure cooker changes colour from picture to picture. I picked out the best pictures... let's get started right away...

First wash and soak the rice in water for an hour or so and please measure the quantity of rice you take. (Make sure you do not heap rice onto the cup, just fill it till the brim).

Gettin to work on the masala section now...
Heat oil in a pressure cooker, if you like whole spices in your rice then drop in some cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves (I do not like bitting into a clove so I usually add only bay leaves and cinnamon sticks), add the chopped or sliced onions (5 to 6 medium sized onions should do for 2 cups of rice) and a whole lot of ginger and garlic paste. And fry it around till the onion turns translucent.

Now add some slit green chillies (bout 5 to 6 chillies for 2 cups of rice) and give it a nice mix.
Then drop in some chopped tomatoes (3 or 4) and mix it up well...
Here you see how the tomatoes have been mashed into all the onion and ginger garlic paste really well.

Now you add the chicken pieces and mix it well...

Then drop in some chillie powder, corinader powder and garam masala powder... give it  a nice mix. (I usually add  1 to 2 heaped teaspoons of all these powders)
Add freshly chopped mint and coriander leaves... I like this step cause of the coriander and mint smell. Use a whole bunch of both.
Give it a another good mix... this is how the masala looks. Make sure its not watery, when you start adding the chicken make sure its on high flame and then add the masala powders and the green leaves and give it a good mix. 
Now if you are using basmati rice add double the quantity of water for each cup of rice, meaning in the ratio 2:1 . What I usually do is reduce half a cup cause when the chicken cooks it will anyway give off some of its water content, so in case I use 2 cups of basmati rice I usually add 3 1/2 cups of water. When using ordinary rice I always add half a cup more since the ordinary rice is fat & takes time to cook. So if I use the ordinary 2 cups of rice I use 4 1/2 cups of water. (On a side note, if for some reason you find that the masala is in fact a little watery, use your intuition and reduce the cups of water accordingly. This has happened many a times to me when I suddenly get a phonecall or I get distracted and the chicken starts cooking in the masala and gives off water. Then approximately deduce how much water you can deduct while cooking the rice... I hope I haven't confused you too much here)
Drain the rice that you have soaked earlier and drop it into the pressure cooker when the water starts boiling...
Add a few drops of lime, appropriate quantity of salt and a dollop of ghee... now put the lid on and attach the weight. The flame has to be on high... and after a few minutes, you will hear the first whistle. As soon as you hear it reduce the flame to its lowest level and wait for approximately 3 to 4 minutes if its basmati rice. Then switch of the stove and leave the cooker alone till all the steam escapes on its own accord.

When its safe to open the cooker, you'll see that your briyani is ready and it will smell great. Now store it in ordinary dishes, try not to use those insulated vessels that keep the food warm... your rice may tend to clump together. 
Garnish with chopped cashew nuts and currants... I especially love adding currants here, cause I tend to make spicy briyani's and when you bite a sweet currant in the middle of all that spiciness it tastes real good. 
This is the finished product, using ordinary rice. Now when you pressure cook ordinary rice, leave it on high flame till you hear the first whistle. Then immediately reduce the flame and wait for 7 to 10 minutes before switching off the stove. Remember when its basmati, we wait bout 4 minutes before switching off.

Garnish the same way. Ta da...spicy briyani is now ready, be ready to handle all the appreciation that will come your way when the folks at home taste this briyani.

Okay one more thing, I never got this right the first time or the second time... its all bout the timing. Sometimes you miscalculate and the rice gets overcooked and sometimes it gets a little browned at the bottom. What I have written here bout the timings (these 4 or 7 minutes) is all based on a trial and error method. I've made this briyani many times till I've perfected the timing... and now it comes out really well, you start getting the feel of when it's done. So go ahead, make this and enjoy some fine food... 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Chilean Miners...

First off, how exciting and thoroughly wondrous was the whole Chilean miners rescue mission... it is indeed an event that will go down in history as one of the most meticulous and miraculous rescue operations ever carried out. To finally see each of them emerging victoriously from the unimaginable ordeal they must have endured over the last two months was awe inspiring. All the hugging, laughing, crying and kissing the ground are some of profound images we'll remember forever. I especially loved the second man (Mario Sepulveda) who emerged from the mines, he was like a rockstar pumping up the crowd and chanting a slogan (apparently some football based slogan). I think he is the one who said that he held the hand of both God and the Devil and finally God won... God held on till the end. 

This precisely sums up their predicament right from day one when the world finally came to know bout these trapped 33 miners. They kept their wits bout them and rationed out the food they had for the first 17 days until the folks on the surface finally located them. The scrap of paper that one of the miners attached to the drill bit indicating that all 33 of them were fine in the shelter is now invaluable... it sure spoke volumes bout their grit and spirit. It was not a plea or a cry for help, they were stating a fact and this is what kept them alive, their collective ability to maintain cool and collected and not give into hysteria or despair. Once they were located, help and other body/soul nourishing supplements kept pouring in. They were fed a special diet to regain their strength, they wanted to watch football and somehow arrangements were made for that, one of the miners is an Elvis Presley fan and he requested for Elvis's music and Graceland got right on the job-they immediately sent a boxed set of CD's and a picture of Elvis, Steve Job sent all of them iPods... the whole world was rooting and praying for them. 

The whole rescue team did a great job, right from the drilling, to the doctors, the psychiatrist, the folks from NASA and everybody else who pitched in... great team work. Chile got everything right in this rescue mission, in their quiet fastidious nature they pulled off a daunting task with flair and immense acumen thereby garnering the respect and admiration of the world at large. The 33 miners are now receiving invitations and gifts from all corners of the earth. The richest football team in the world Manchester United has invited all 33 of them as special guests to watch one of their matches. The folks at Graceland have invited the Elvis fan for a tour of the King's former abode. One of the miners used to run in the tunnels underground to keep up his health and to clear his mind, the New York City Marathon has invited him to be their special guest. Some Greek island has invited all of them for a vacation... 

Isn't this truly a heart wrenching and a heartwarming tale of survival against all odds... survival of the brotherhood (there I already came up with a pretty neat name for a movie).

Here is Edison Pena the Elvis fan I was talking bout earlier in an interview with David Letterman.... how cool is he :o)


Friday, October 15, 2010

Lemon baked chicken with baked vegetables...

Hey everybody, how you doin? Ever since I put up a picture of this whole roasted chicken on Facebook, folks have been asking for the recipe... so here it is. Sorry for the delay people...


Take bout 3 tablespoons of butter in a bowl, add the juice of one lime. Then drop in some Italian seasoning (optional), salt, pepper, and a few crushed cloves of garlic. Mix it up well and apply it over the chicken as seen below.

First make sure to poke the chicken all over with a fork, this allows the juices to reach the fleshy interior parts. Using your hands rub the butter mixture all over the chicken and into its cavity too. Stuff the lemon skins into the chicken... along with some freshly chopped coriander and mint leaves. 


So here is the little fellow stuffed with lemon skins, coriander and mint leaves....


Place the tray in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

Wash and cut vegetables into bite sized pieces, here I used potatoes and carrots and onions. Sprinkle a little oil, salt and pepper on them and mix them up well. 

After 45 minutes the chicken would have browned a bit, turn it over and then place the vegetables in the same baking tray around the chicken. Bake for another 45 minutes...

The chicken will have gained a nice brown colour by now, and the vegetables would have cooked too. Insert a fork into both and make sure that they are indeed tender and well cooked. 

The leftover chicken/vegetable juices in the pan can be used to make a little sauce to pour over the chicken.

Mix very little cornflour (bout half a teaspoon) in water and pour it into the baking tray and scrape off all the juices and browned bits of chicken and vegetables into a saucepan. 

Heat this mixture over a low flame... add salt, pepper and a little ketchup (optional) according to taste. 

Pour the brown sauce over the lemon baked chicken and dig in. This is a simple enough dish, no marinating required. It tastes great and I loved the vegetables along with the sauce. Guys in particular will love this dish, its juicy and succulent on the inside and the baked browned exterior is simply irresistible. The green leafy stuffing inside was just perfect... it was all minty and lemony and just too good. 

So have fun with this Lemon Baked Chicken and the rustically baked vegetables.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Heavenly Sunshine...




So my parents were here for a week and it was great.... we spent everyday roaming the city, attending various fairs and exhibitions, visiting relatives and hanging out at all the opulent malls. One of the fairs (a rajasthani one) had a mehendi stall and that's where we got those beautiful patterns on our hands. 

My birthday was fun too, I did not want a boring cake with Happy Birthday and my name on it, so told Tonio  to write something exciting & here's what he did... cracked me up. That's an Irish Coffee Cream cake by the way... 


One night while returning home with the parents we saw this car in front of us... (the picture is blurry, there is never a signal in sight when you need one)

do you see the words on it, Govt of Heaven... and they have a symbol too, that was so cool. Must be some minister... Minister of Mankind or something. 
PS: The title is a beautiful song by Kenny Rogers...