SPICY PRAWNS WITH CASHEW CREAM

This recipe came about as part of a food group challenge.  I belong to a wonderful Food Group on Facebook called “Traditional Goan Foodies”.  This is such a lovely group – wonderful people, lovely recipes – a perfect platform to exchange recipes, bounce food ideas and learn and share knowledge about traditional Goan food.

To commemorate the Group’s 2nd birthday David D’souza put out a challenge to come up with a goan/goan fusion dish incorporating 5 ingredients viz. red chillies, spinach, cashew nuts, goa jaggery and mango.  You could use any protein of your choice and any other ingredients.  It was quite an interesting and challenging feat – needed to put on my thinking cap.

I was quite pleased with the end result of the below dish.

spicy prawns

Ingredients:

6-8 medium sized spinach leaves cut fine

1 lb prawns cleaned, deveined and butterflied (I used about 40 medium size prawns with tails on)

Oil for deep frying spinach

Crumbing mixture of rice flour and desiccated coconut

Marinade for Prawns:

3 Kashmiri chillies

8 cashew nuts soaked

1 tsp ginger/garlic paste

¼ tsp jeera (cumin seeds)

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp. of finely chopped green mango

1 to 1-1/2 tsp. goa jaggery, grated

Salt to taste

1 tsp oil

A squeeze of lemon

¾ tsp of cashew feni (optional)

Cashew Cream:

1 cup un-roasted shelled cashew nuts (keep 8 aside for prawn marinade)

¼ milk

½ veg stock cube

A big pinch of nutmeg

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

1 small garlic clove

Method:

  1. Soak the cashew nuts in warm water overnight.
  2. To make the cashew cream: Warm ¼ cup of milk and dissolve the stock cube.  Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and allow to cool. In a mixer, add the soaked cashew nuts, garlic and the infused milk.  Blend till it is smooth and creamy.  Add more milk or water to bring it to the desired consistency.    Empty into a bowl, cover and keep aside.
  3. Marinate the prepared prawns and keep aside for ½ an hour.
  4. Crumb the prawns and keep aside.
  5. When ready to serve, heat up the oil in a small pan. Add the shredded spinach leaves and deep fry.  Do not let it burn.  I do it in batches.  Strain and empty onto some kitchen paper to drain.  Sprinkle a wee bit of salt when warm.
  6. Take a frying pan/skillet. Add a bit of the oil.  Fry the prawns until just done, do not overcook.
  7. Serve the prawns on a bed of fried spinach and accompanied by cashew cream.
  8. Enjoy.

Notes:

  • Keep the spinach strips long, do not chop fine. I place all the leaves one on top of the other, roll them together and then cut into strips.
  • You can use your choice of ingredients for the crumbing of the prawns viz. semolina, breadcrumbs or even just rice flour.

 

RAVA (SEMOLINA) AND VERMICELLI IDLI

Idli by far is one of the most popular and healthy breakfast dishes from South India.  However, making the traditional idlis require a bit of effort in the soaking and grinding of the rice and the urad dhal and also the time for fermenting the batter.

In contrast, the rava idli is a very simple dish to prepare – this is made very flavourful with the addition of the tempered ingredients and the yoghurt.  You do get quite a few brands of the instant rava idli packets in the market but none can beat the taste of the soft and fluffy home-made idlis.

Rava Idlis are quite a constant at our place especially for breakfast on a Saturday – I generally alternate between Upma and Rava Idli.  This time I tried it as a mix of rava and vermicelli and was mighty pleased with the end result. Next time round planning to make a healthy version using oats.

Do give it a try.

vermicelli-idli

Ingredients:

1 cup Rava (semolina)

1 cup vermicelli (I use the MTR brand)

1 cup thick yoghurt

1-1/4 cup water

10-12 cashew nuts, chopped (optional)

1 tsp mustard

1-1/2 tsp urad dhal

1 tsp channa dhal soaked and drained

A pinch of hing

2 green chillies, finely chopped

1-1/2 tsps. finely chopped ginger

2 sprigs curry leaves, finely chopped

2 tbsp. finely chopped coriander leaves

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder

2 tbsp. grated carrot (optional)

¼ to ½ tsp baking soda

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. Oil

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan, add the cashew nuts and sauté till brown, remove aside. Next add the mustard seeds and allow it to splutter.
  2. Once the mustard seeds splutter add the urad dhal, channa dhal and a pinch of hing.
  3. Sauté until the dhals are a light brown in colour, then add the green chillies, ginger and curry leaves. Sauté for about 30-45 seconds and add the rava. Roast the rava in the tempered mixture until fragrant and a pale colour, stirring continuously.  Do not brown or burn. Empty into a mixing bowl and leave to cool for about 10-15 minutes
  4. Next, in a little oil, sauté the vermicelli. Do not brown or burn. Empty into the bowl with the rava mixture.
  5. When the mixture is cool, add the yoghurt, water, salt, turmeric powder, baking soda and the coriander leaves. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, grease your idli moulds. Add water to your steamer and allow it to come to a boil.
  7. Check for the consistency of the batter. Rava tends to absorb moisture.  Add a little more water if required.  Taste for salt.
  8. Take your idli plates, place one half of the cashew nut in the centre of each of the mould followed by the batter.
  9. Steam for 10 to 15 minutes on a medium to high flame (12 minutes works fine for me).
  10. Remove steamer plates from steamer and allow to cool before removing the idlis from the moulds.
  11. Enjoy with coconut chutney and sambar.

Notes:

  • The batter should be quite thick.
  • You can steam these in the pressure cooker if you have the idli stand which fits in your cooker. Do not put the whistle else you will end up with hard idlis
  • I have made this in my microwave idli stand too but they don’t turn out as fluffy and tasty like the steamed ones.
  • Instead of cashewnuts, you can also add some grated carrot in the bottom of the mould before adding the batter.

KOTHIMBIR VADI

Kothimbir Vadi is a popular Maharashtrian snack.  It literally translates to Coriander Fritters.  My earliest memory of trying out this dish was during my junior college days at MMK College – a group of us would always hang out at Pamposh during free / bunked lectures.  I wouldn’t really call myself a fan of the dish at that time but when I had this recently as part of a Maharashtrian thali at a restaurant in Auckland, I was hooked.  Going thru my repertoire of saved recipes (remember checking this one out with one of my colleagues at SBI after eating it at her wedding), I came upon a scribbled recipe, tweaked it a bit and was pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

This dish uses an abundance of coriander leaves together with besan (chick pea flour) and spices which is then steamed, cooled, cut and deep fried.  There is something comforting and homely about this dish.  There are a couple of versions – one where you steam the batter and then fry the cut pieces and the other would be to make a dough, steam it and then cut and fry.   For a healthier option, these can be eaten as a steamed snack or tossed in a tadka of mustard, curry leaves and garnished with coconut.

I decided to surprise the family a couple of weekends ago with a yummy brunch platter of rava idlis, medu wada and kothimbir vadis served with an assortment of chutneys and tomato ketchup.  It was a real labour of love (given my dislike of deep frying foods). These fritters taste good with tomato ketchup or green chutney.

Do give it a try.

vada1

vada-2

vada-3

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cup besan flour

2-3 tbsp. rice flour

2 cups of washed and chopped coriander leaves

Paste of 2 green chillies, 3/4″ ginger and 2 garlic cloves

1-1/2 to 2 cups water to make a thick batter

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp. sesame seeds

2-3 tbsp. roasted and crushed peanuts (optional but recommended)

¼ to ½ tsp turmeric powder

A pinch of hing

A pinch of sugar

Salt to taste

A pinch of chilli powder

1/2 tsp of cooking soda

1 tbsp. hot oil

1 tbsp. lemon juice

Oil for pan frying or deep frying

Method:

  1. Wash and cut the coriander leaves very fine.
  2. Take the besan in a mixing bowl, check that there are no lumps.  Next add the coriander leaves and mix with the flour.
  3. Then add all the other ingredients except oil for frying.   Mix well to ensure that the flavours are all infused.  Add water accordingly.  The batter should not be runny.
  4. Keep the steamer with water to boil.
  5. Grease your tray / plate (size should be around 1-1/2 inches deep and 8” diameter)
  6. Pour the mixture into the greased tray/plate and steam for about 15-20 minutes.  Mine took around 18 minutes.  To check for doneness, insert a skewer in the centre. It should come out dry.
  7. Remove from the steamer and allow to cool, then cut into desires shapes – squares, wedges etc.
  8. Heat oil in a pan (quantity depending on method of frying).  If pan frying, add a couple of spoons of oil and pan fry on medium to high heat.   If deep frying use oil accordingly. Do not let the fritters burn. We just need to crisp up the outside and get a golden brown colour.
  9. Drain on kitchen towel.
  10. Eat hot with tomato ketchup or a green chutney.

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS MILK CREAM RECIPE (MICROWAVE)

Milk cream is one of those delectable dainty bites synonymous with Christmas.  These absolute melt in the mouth goodies take me back to my teenage years when I would wait for everyone to go to bed and then with the help of my sister make the milk cream, chocolate fudge, marzipan etc.    All of these sweets were such a delicacy.  The ingredients are few and simple but the process (stirring time involved and getting the right consistency) used to be quite daunting.  The end result however made it worth the while.  I haven’t made these in years given that the kids (or rather my young adults) are not too fond of sweets so it all ends up in hubby’s tummy!!!

This Christmas somehow seems very low key, however I got a bit motivated looking at so many pictures being posted on the various food sites on Facebook.  Traditionally, I would make this by reducing the milk through constant stirring on a low heat, then add the sugar, nuts and butter.  After over an hour of stirring coupled with a sore arm, the mix would be ready for cooling and moulding.  This year I thought I would try a microwave version.    Armed with my basic peda recipe and a whispered prayer, I set up about making this and I must say that I was very pleased with the end result.  I can see myself making these more often now.  Do give it a try.

milk-cream

Ingredients:

 1-1/2 cups whole milk powder

½ cup sugar

½ cup full cream milk

1 tbsp. butter

75 gms cashew nut pieces

2 tbsps. sugar

Method:

  • Add the first 4 ingredients to a microwave safe bowl.  Set power to High.
  • Stir well and microwave for 2 minutes.
  • Remove, give it a stir and put back for another 2 minutes.
  • In the meantime, blitz the cashew nuts and the 2 tbsp. of sugar into a fine powder.
  • Once the 4 minutes are up add the cashew nut and sugar mix to the bowl and stir well.
  • Keep putting back into the micro for 1 minute and stir between intervals.
  • The entire process took me 13 minutes in a 1200 watts microwave.
  • Empty the contents into a dish and allow to cool.
  • In the meantime, lightly grease the mould with some melted butter.  I like using a silicone brush.
  • Once cool knead and put into moulds.
  • Leave to dry out overnight and then store in airtight containers in the fridge.

THAI STYLE MEATBALLS

This dish makes for a wonderful starter.  It can also be used as a filling for wraps.  This recipe has been sitting in my archives for a very long time with numerous penciled changes.  It was only when a friend at work was discussing her party menu that I remembered this recipe sitting in my archives waiting to be tried.   I was quite excited to try these out myself so ended up buying mince on my way home from work.  We had it over the weekend in a wrap for Sunday lunch; I was pleased with the family’s stamp of approval!!!

I have to admit that it did turn out delicious.  Do give these a try.

meatballs

Ingredients:

½ kg beef mince

3 spring onion whites chopped fine

4 flakes of garlic chopped fine

A small piece of ginger chopped fine

1 tbsp. sweet thai chilli sauce

1 tbsp. light soya sauce

1 tsp. fish sauce (optional but recommended)

1 to 1-1/2 tbsp. thai red curry paste

4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped (optional)

2-3 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves

1 egg lightly beaten

Salt to taste

2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs, as required

Method:

  1. In a big bowl, add all the ingredients and mix gently. Do not overwork the mixing else the meat will get tough.
  2. Do not add too much breadcrumbs.  Breadcrumbs to be used if mixture is sticky.
  3. Shape into small balls and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170 deg Fan or 190 degree normal.
  5. Place the meatballs on a baking paper lined tray and cook for about 10 mins, turning once during the baking.
  6. Turn the oven to grill mode and grill for about 2 minutes until nice and golden.
  7. Arrange meatballs in a platter and serve warm with a sweet and sour glaze or a sauce of your choice.

Note:

  • Do not overwork the meat or it will be tough.
  • Caution to be exercised when adding salt since most of the ingredients do have a bit of sodium. Taste for seasoning
  • Cooking time would depend on the quality of meat as well. Do not overcook.
  • I ran out of sweet thai chilli sauce so I substituted with capsicum chilli jam instead.
  • Best eaten warm.

SAMOSA PINWHEELS

Pinwheels make for a great starter for parties.  They are very versatile in terms of fillings and also look pretty.  I love working with puff pastry.   I have to admit though, that I wouldn’t venture to make the puff pastry.  Store bought pastry works very well.   I usually make the pizza pinwheels or the zaatar and feta.  This time round, I was looking for an Indian twist to the pinwheels.  I had suggested the samosa pinwheels to a few friends over the years and all those who tried it mentioned that it turned out very good.  Thought I’d give it a try this time.  I was real pleased with the result.

The samosa pinwheels could be made using flour/semolina chapattis stuffed with potato filling, cut into pinwheels, dipped in a light batter of maida & water and then deep fried.  I absolutely abhor deep frying stuff (though I love eating them!!!!) so I didn’t foresee myself making it this way and hence came upon the idea of using puff pastry.  I would recommend using the puff pastry with higher butter content as these cook faster and the filling doesn’t dry out.

samosa-pinwheels

Ingredients:

4 to 5 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed

1/2 cup green peas boiled and lightly mashed (optional)

1 to 1-1/2 tsp. of coriander seeds, coarsely crushed in a mortar/pestle

1 tsp. cumin seeds

2 green chilies, chopped fine

½ tsp. Kashmiri chili powder

½ tsp. garam masala powder

1 tsp. mango powder (amchur)

½ tsp. pomegranate seed (anardhana) powder

1-1/4 tsp. salt, adjust to taste

2 tbsp. coriander leaves, chopped fine

3 sheets of puff pastry (10” x 10”)

2-3 tbsp. of coriander/mint chutney

1 egg beaten well with a tsp. of water

Sesame seeds to garnish

Method:

  1. Boil the potatoes, peel and mash. Add the boiled and mashed green peas.  The peas need to be slightly mashed (do not make a paste of it).
  2. Add all the other ingredients to the potato/pea mash and mix well. Taste for seasoning.  Do not be daunted if the filling tastes a bit spicy.  It gets balanced with the puff pastry.
  3. Divide the potato filling into 3 parts.
  4. Take each sheet of puff pastry (lightly thawed till pliable). Place on workbench and spread a thin layer of chutney – I used the store bought pani puri chutney; I just added a wee bit of water to thin it out ( I use a silicon brush to apply the chutney).
  5. Next add a portion of the potato filling and apply gently leaving 1 cm off one end of the pastry uncovered. I use my rolling pin (lightly oiled) to gently spread the filling over the pastry surface.
  6. Roll tightly into a log. Brush the uncovered portion of the pastry with water and seal.
  7. Continue with the rest of the pastry/filling.
  8. Wrap the rolls in cling wrap and keep in the freezer for about 20 minutes to ½ an hour to firm up – makes it easy to cut.
  9. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 200 deg C fan (Refer to package instructions for temperature and cooking time).
  10. Remove the rolls from the freezer and cut into ½ or ¾ inch rings. Press down gently and place on baking tray.
  11. Lightly brush pinwheels with beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds.
  12. Bake till done. Mine take about 15-20 minutes to bake.
  13. Remove from oven, cool on a cake rack.
  14. Serve warm or at room temperature with a chutney of choice (I didn’t serve any chutney on the side since I had spread the chutney on the pastry.

 

ISRAELI COUSCOUS WITH ROAST VEGETABLES

This is an easy, tasty, colorful salad using Israeli couscous. Israeli couscous is a type of pearl shaped pasta; it is also known as Pearl Couscous.  It has a chewy bite and is generally toasted to enhance its nutty flavor.  Israeli couscous is used as the base for salads and is very versatile in terms of ingredients that can be added to it.

These little pearls combined with a myriad of colorful ingredients like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, herbs, feta etc. is a sight for sore eyes.  It is so rightly said that we eat with our eyes.

There is no specific recipe for this dish.  You can use any ingredients, quantities and dressing of choice.  The inspiration for this recipe came to me whilst browsing through the fridge over what to cook for dinner.  A big bowl of roasted vegetables prepared by my husband a couple of nights ago (squash, pumpkin, kumara, red onions, garlic, pearl onions tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar ) and fresh herbs from the garden set the dish rolling.   We had the salad with some store bought char-grilled chicken steaks.  Salmon would pair very well with this salad.  This was one easy-peasy dinner. No slaving in the kitchen!!!!

israeli-couscous

Ingredients:

1-1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 shallot, chopped fine

2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

1-1/2 cup Israeli couscous

½ heaped tsp. of smoked paprika

2-1/4 cup vegetable stock (hot)

2 cups of roast vegetables of your choice, chopped

2 cups of salad leaves roughly chopped – mesclun/baby spinach

1/3 cup parsley, chopped

A few sprigs of mint leaves, chopped

2 spring onions, chopped

Dressing:

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

A pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot  and the garlic and sauté.  Do not brown.
  2. Next add the Israeli couscous and paprika and sauté for 3-4 minutes till lightly toasted and well coated with the oil.
  3. Gently add the vegetable stock and mix (the liquid will sizzle hence take care not to scald yourself).
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and allow to simmer till done about 8 to 10 minutes.  The couscous should be tender and the liquid all absorbed .  Fluff up the couscous so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  5. Set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Whisk dressing ingredients till smooth.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, add the spring onions, salad leaves, parsley, mint and roast vegetables and mix gently.  Next add the couscous and the dressing and toss until all the ingredients are well coated.
  8. Transfer to your salad bowl and serve.
  9. Any remnants can be stored in the fridge for your next day lunch.

Note:

  • The above ratio of couscous : water works fine for me. Please however check your package for instructions.
  • I have added a couple of vegetable stock cubes to boiling water to make the stock.
  • For a non-vegetarian version, you could replace vegetable stock by chicken stock and add some grilled chicken or even chorizos which can be tossed along with the couscous in the early stages of cooking. If using chorizos,  you could omit the paprika.