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Cover: Some like it hot

April, 2012

26Apr 12

Cream of Tomato Soup

Cream of Tomato Soup

There is nothing better on a chilly, rainy day than a warm bowl of soup. And the best soups for drizzly afternoons are definitely the creamy ones! My mum used to make this Cream of Tomato Soup for me when skies were grey. It’s comforting and gives you lots of energy.

Another feel-good creamy soup option is this Creamy potato and leek soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg Tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2tbsp Chopped Ginger
  • 1/2tbsp Whole Garam Masala
  • 1 Green Chilli Pepper
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 3 Curry Leaves
  • 100g Ghee
  • 120ml Water
  • 150ml Cream
  • 1/2l Whole Milk
  • 2tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1/2tsp Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of ground Black Pepper to taste
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 2tbsp chopped Coriander Leaves, for garnishing

Preparation Method:

  1. Clean the tomatoes and chop them very finely.
  2. Meanwhile, heat up the ghee in a pot on a medium flame.
  3. Add the chopped garlic cloves and ginger to the pot.
  4. Cut the green chilli pepper into 2 pieces.
  5. Add the chilli pepper, garam masala and tomatoes to the pot and stir.
  6. Lower the flame and slowly stir these ingredients for about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the water, bay leaves and curry leaves to the pot. Raise the heat and bring this to the boil.
  8. As soon as it comes to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 25 minutes. The tomatoes should become very soft.
  9. Remove the soup and blend it in a liquidiser.
  10. Place a strainer over the pot. Strain the chunky tomato bits by running the soup through this strainer.
  11. Raise the stove to a medium heat and heat up the tomato again.
  12. Mix in the cream, whole milk, coriander powder and cumin powder. Stir it all together.
  13. Add the black pepper and salt to taste, along with the lemon juice.
  14. Let the soup simmer on a low flame for 15 minutes.
  15. Garnish it with freshly chopped coriander leaves. It is now ready to serve!

Makes: Enough for 4 servings
Takes: 30 minutes

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24Apr 12

Aloo Bonda Snacks

Aloo Bonda 

Aloo Bonda is a snack made of mashed potatoes dipped in batter and deep-fried. It is fantastic finger food, so I often serve it at parties as an appetizer.

These snacks can be served hot, straight from the deep fryer. Or you can also enjoy them after they have cooled down. Many people eat them with ketchup, but I prefer them with my Green Chutney recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 8 large potatoes
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1 slice of finely chopped ginger
  • 4 large green chilli peppers, finely chopped
  • 500g carrots, chopped
  • 500g peas
  • 2tsp lemon juice
  • 250g gram flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 240ml of water
  • 6 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the potatoes and boil them.
  2. Mash them and add a little bit of salt. Set the pot with the potatoes aside.
  3. In a pan, heat up 1 tbsp of vegetable oil.
  4. Add the mustard seeds. Careful! They will crackle and pop.
  5. Add the cumin seeds.
  6. Chop the onions, ginger and green chilli peppers very finely.
  7. Add these chopped ingredients to the pan and stir briskly. Fry them until the onions are light brown. Add a little salt to make the onions sweat a bit.
  8. Chop the carrots and add to the pan along with the peas.
  9. Lower the heat and cook for about 15 minutes.
  10. Add the mashed potatoes to the pan and mix them in slowly. Let them fry for 5 minutes.
  11. Now remove the potato mix from the pan and set it aside in a large bowl. Sprinkle in a bit of lemon juice. Set this aside to cool.
  12. In a separate large bowl, mix the gram flour, 5tbsp of vegetable oil, water, a pinch of salt and the baking powder. Mix these ingredients together to form a thick batter.
  13. Heat a pot full of oil for deep frying.
  14. Once the potato filling has fully cooled down, form small round balls with them. Take a handful of the filling and form a round ball with the palm of your hand. You should be able to make about 8 round potato balls.
  15. Now take one of these potato balls and dip it in the batter.
  16. Gently lower it into the oil.
  17. Repeat this with all 8 balls. You can fry them all together in the pot.
  18. Deep fry them until they are crispy.

Makes: 8 Aloo Bondas
Takes: 2 hours

 

Note: For another potato recipe, try these Minty Jersey Royals with Chives and Lemon Butter.

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20Apr 12

Pear and Mango Chutney

Pear and Mango Chutney is a very sweet, mild chutney that goes well with my Bhaturas or vegetable samosas. Spread it on the Bhaturas, which are puffy fried breads, for a delicious afternoon snack, or a sugary breakfast.

You could also try this sweet chutney spread over a meat or fish dish. Try it over these chicken and pear burgers, since they already have a hint of pear flavour inside the burger. My chutney would be the perfect complement.

Like most chutneys, you can store this one in Tupperware or a glass container, and it will be fine for at least a month.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large raw Mango
  • 3 medium Pears
  • 450g Sugar
  • 10 almonds, finely chopped
  • 10 cashews, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp. raisins, mashed
  • 5 cloves, ground
  • 2tsp. Cinnamon Powder
  • 4tsp vegetable oil
  • 400ml water
  • 1tsp. salt

 

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the large mango and the pears. It will be no problem if you use a normal peeler to do this.
  2. Chop both the mango and pears very finely and put them both into one bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil on a medium flame in a pot or a deep pan.
  4. Lower the flame and add just 2 tablespoons of sugar to the oil. Slowly stir the sugar, until it turns light brown.
  5. Now add the water.
  6. Raise the heat to high and bring the water to the boil.
  7. After 3 minutes of boiling, add in the rest of the sugar and allow it to come to the boil again.
  8. Chop the cashews and almonds very finely. Add them to the pot and stir.
  9. With a fork, mash the raisins in a separate bowl.
  10. Place the raisins to the pot and stir.
  11. Grind the 5 cloves in a mortar with a pestle. Now add them to the pot and mix slowly.
  12. Add the cinnamon to the pot and stir.
  13. Add a pinch of salt. I know this is a sweet chutney, but salt actually brings out the favour of sweet foods. Add just a pinch, and you will see that the flavours will become more intense.
  14. Now add the mango and pear.
  15. Cover the pot and lower the heat. Let simmer for about an hour.
  16. Remove from the pot and let cool.

Makes: 2kg of Pear and Mango Chutney
Takes: 2 hours

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16Apr 12

Indian Lassi with cardamom and pistachios

Indian LassiAn Indian lassi with cardamom and pistachios is a lovely yoghurt drink to have during a hot meal or afterwards as a dessert. It is a variant of a fruit smoothie such as this strawberry and blueberry smoothie.

A lassi is made using yoghurt, water, spices and mango or other fruits. It is especially good with hot food like the Indian cuisine because the proteins in the yoghurt protect the inside of the mouth from hot chili and other spices.

Lassis are full of good stuff and are believed to promote digestion and prevent bloating. I remember the first time I tried a mango lassi as a healthy dessert. I was a student, and my Mum made it for my friends and I as an after-school snack. It was so delicious, that it took my breath away. Needless to say, from then on I was even more excited to arrive home after a long day of hitting the books.

Had I not been taught to eat (and drink) in moderation, I could easily have drunk 3 glasses of the stuff! My Mum, knowing my appetite for this drink, wisely chose to make it every now and then, but not too often. It was always a special treat when she made this snack.

When I moved out on my own, I learned that this Indian smoothie is easy-peasy to make yourself at home. It couldn’t be simpler! If you have a blender, put away the fizzy drinks and try this healthy one instead. I´m positive it will become your new summer favourite.

Ingredients:

• 2 tall glasses (preferably ice-cream glasses)
• 200ml of plain yoghurt
• 100ml of full-fat milk
• 200g of chopped mango
• 6 teaspoons of sugar
• 2 pinches of cardamom
• 100g of ice (optional)
• 1 pinch of salt to enhance the flavor of the mango.
• 2 tablespoons of ground pistachios

Preparation method:

1. Peel and remove pit from mangos. Chop into chunks and place in blender.
2. Add the yoghurt, milk, sugar, spices and ice.
3. Blend for 2 minutes until smooth.
4. Pour into tall glasses.
5. Sprinkle the ground pistachios over the drinks.
6. Serve immediately with a straw.

Makes: 3-4 portions
Takes: 10 minutes
Level: very easy

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12Apr 12

Pumpkin soup with curry and Garam Masala

Pumpkin SoupPumpkins are great winter food. Healthy, meaty and cheap, they are very versatile and can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted when ripe. They also make fantastic desserts such as pumpkin tea bread.

In the U.S.A., they are big fans of pumpkin. In addition to Thanksgiving and Halloween, several pumpkin festivals are held with competitions for the heaviest pumpkin. Did you know that they can also be used to flavour both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks?

 

During the Winter season, pumpkins are perfect for soups and stews on cold nights. Here is a pumpkin recipe with an Indian twist: pumpkin soup with curry and Garam Masala. This dish will keep you warm, as Garam masala means literally “hot blend.” It certainly is hot as it uses a blend of ground spices common in North Indian cuisine. It contains many micronutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. With these ingredients, you will make yourself a healthy, cheap and above all, tasty soup! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
• 1.5kg pumpkin, around 800g of pumpkin meat
• 1 yellow onion
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 1 garlic
• 1 teaspoon of salt
• 1 pinch of white pepper
• 1 teaspoon of curry powder
• 1 teaspoon of garam masala
• 5dl of water
• 1dl of crème fraîche

Preparation method:
1. Cut the pumpkin into slices and cut away the peel and pips.
2. Chop it into small chunks.
3. Peel and chop the garlic and onion into pieces.
4. Fry the onion in the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, salt, curry, garam masala, white pepper and pumpkin.
5. Let it all fry together for a few minutes.
6. Add the water and let it all boil for around 40 minutes. The pumpkin should be soft and easy to mash when ready.
7. Mix the soup with a blender or by hand with a whisk.
8. Add the crème fraîche.
9. Reheat and add the white pepper and salt to taste.
10. Serve with some coriander on top and with some nice bread.

Takes: 60 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
Level: Easy

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09Apr 12

Carrot Halwa

Carrot Halwa is a delicious dessert. My grandmother used to make it for me, and I remember how she was able to get the rich mixture of carrots, nuts and milk just right. It is rich and heavy. But just a warning, this tasty Indian sweet is quite fattening.

It can be made with regular butter, but I prefer to make it with my Fragrant Ghee. Ghee just makes the taste that much more intense.

Many people garnish it with nuts and raisins as well. I suggest that if you do that, you do so sparingly as you do not want the taste to overpower this dessert. Just sprinkle a few nuts and raisins over it before you serve.

Ingredients:

  • 2kg carrots
  • 160g cashews, ground
  • 1tsp cardamom
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 litres milk
  • 800g sugar
  • 4tbsp ghee

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the carrots.
  2. Grate the carrots and leave them in a small bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat just 3 tablespoons of ghee in a deep pan on high heat.
  4. Crush the cashews. You can do this with a mortar and pestle, or you can just put the cashews in a ziplock bag and pound on them with the bottom of a pot.
  5. Lower the heat and put the crushed cashews into the pan and lightly roast them. They should turn light golden brown.
  6. Remove the cashews and set them aside.
  7. Add another tablespoon of ghee.
  8. Add the grated carrots and stir slowly.
  9. Sprinkle in the cardamom and saffron and stir for 3 minutes.
  10. Now pour in the milk. You can use skim milk to make the Carrot Halwa less fattening.
  11. Raise the heat and bring the milk to the boil.
  12. Once it has boiled, lower the flame and stir slowly.
  13. Cover the pot and lower the flame a bit more. Leave this to simmer for about 1 hour. Do not forget to check on it every so often and stir. After some time simmering, the ghee will start to ooze out, and it will become nice and thick.
  14. Finally add the sugar and stir well.
  15. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  16. It is now ready to serve.

 

Makes: 1 large Carrot Halwa
Takes: 2 hours

Note: Although it isn’t an Indian dish, I also recommend this carrot cake recipe. What better way to eat your veggies than adding them to a dessert?

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06Apr 12

Channa Masala

Channa MasalaThis is a delicious recipe that goes great with the deep-fried puffy breads known as Bhatura. Channa Masala is a chickpea stew that my mum taught me to make when I was a teenager. It is a very filling vegetarian dish, and because of the chickpeas, it has plenty of protein. But the best part is that it is not very fattening at all! (For more chickpea goodness, try this Moroccan hummus.)

Ingredients:

  • 400g Chickpeas
  • 5 Tea Leaves
  • 2 tsp. Cumin Seeds
  • 2 tsp. Garam Masala
  • ½ tsp. Cardamom
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Ginger Powder
  • 3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large Onion
  • 2 medium Tomatoes
  • 250ml Water
  • 2 tbsp. Amchur Powder (dried mango powder)
  • Juice of 2 Lemons
  • 1 tbsp. chopped Coriander
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Pinch of Salt

Preparation Method:

  1. Rinse the chickpeas. Put them in a bowl, cover them with water, add the tea leaves, and soak them overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. Soaking the chickpeas with tea leaves will give it a distinctive flavour.
  2. The next morning, remove the tea leaves, drain the chickpeas and cook them in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the chickpeas and set them aside.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan.
  5. Add cumin seeds and fry. Careful! They will crackle a bit.
  6. Add garam masala, cardamom and cinnamon. Fry on medium heat.
  7. Add the ginger and garlic and fry.
  8. Chop the onion very finely.
  9. Put the chopped onion in the pan and fry while quickly mixing. It helps to add a bit of salt at this point, as the salt will make the onion “sweat,” and it will cook faster.
  10. Chop the tomatoes very finely.
  11. Add the tomatoes to the pan. Stir slowly. Give the tomatoes time to get soft and mushy.
  12. Add the cooked chickpeas.
  13. Add the water.
  14. Stir slowly on a low heat. You will see it start to form a thick gravy. This will take about 8-9 minutes.
  15. Stir in the amchur and coriander slowly.
  16. Add a bit more salt to taste. The gravy should be getting quite thick.
  17. Drizzle a bit of lemon juice and stir for 30 seconds more.
  18. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Makes: Enough for 4 servings.
Takes: 40 minutes (plus 8 hours to soak the chickpeas)

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03Apr 12

Light Chicken Tandoori Fillets

Light Tandoori ChickenMany people hear rumours that Indian food is fattening, but it doesn’t have to be. Many Indian recipes are quite light, and, the ones that are not can be re-worked to be made so. Often I take traditional recipes and find ways to cut down on the fat and calories.

For example, there’s a very low-fat and low-calorie way to enjoy a traditional Chicken Tandoori dish. First of all, if you only use chicken breast, it is much lighter. Secondly, using low-fat yoghurt cuts down on plenty of calories. And finally, by cooking it in the oven rather than frying it, you avoid all the extra fat from oils.

In some ways this is similar to my Chicken Tikka Masala recipe which uses more sauce and is served with rice.

Ingredients:

  • 800g chicken breast, cut into thin fillets

For the marinade:

  • 250g plain, low-fat yoghurt
  • Lemon juice from 3 freshly-squeezed lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves, ground
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 5 ground cloves
  • 1 clove of cardamom
  • ½ tablespoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Preparation Method:

  1. Mix the yoghurt and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Mince the garlic. Put it in the mortar and add salt to make the garlic easier to grind. Mash thoroughly. Do not remove it from the mortar.
  3. Add the cumin and coriander to the mortar and grind. It should almost form a paste at this point.
  4. Add the clove of cardamom and the 5 cloves. Crush well.
  5. Put these ground ingredients into the bowl with the yoghurt and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Add the ginger, cayenne pepper and turmeric and stir well.
  7. Add a pinch of black pepper.
  8. Put the chicken fillets in a Tupperware or a small container and cover them completely with the marinade.
  9. Leave in the fridge for at least 8 hours (but no more than 14).
  10. Take out the chicken and discard the marinade.
  11. Place the chicken on an oven tray or gridiron. Cook it for 20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.
  12. I personally like using the grill option in my oven, as it creates the delightful texture of the slightly crispy black lines, caused by the gridiron. I highly recommend it!

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 25 minutes for the marinade, 8 hours to marinate, and 20 minutes for cooking

Note: Check out my recipe for spicy tomato chutney as a possible dressing for the chicken. If you are looking for something sweeter, this goosegog chutney is also a fine choice.

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