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Cover: Some like it hot

Less than 1 hour

09May 12

Malai Kofta

Malai KoftaMalai Kofta is a traditional dish and is the vegetarian alternative to meatballs. It is most often eaten on special occassions. The koftas are little fried potato dumplings in a rich, heavy gravy. (Sort of like my aloo bonda snacks, except those don’t have the delicious gravy.) Needless to say this is not a low-fat recipe!

An essential ingredient for Mailai Kofta is paneer, a fresh Indian cheese. It tastes a bit like cottage cheese, so you can substitute cottage cheese if you are not able to find paneer in your local Indian grocery store. But if you can find it, I strongly suggest you buy it. It is quite delicious and will give this recipe a more authentic taste.

Malai kofta is a delicious savoury dish of Moghlai origin; it is a north Indian speciality, and they go very well served with tasty Naan bread and/or basmati rice. There are lots of varieties; in fact, in Pakistan and Iran, koftas are usually made of beef and chicken, and in Bengal, a region of eastern India, koftas are made with prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage, as well as minced goat meat.

Honestly, it’s not a short or easy recipe, but it’s all worth it in the end – trust me.

 

Malai Kofta
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Malai Kofta is a traditional vegetarian dish.
Ingredients
  • 8 medium Potatoes
  • 140g Paneer
  • 50g green peas
  • 6 Green Chilli Peppers, finely chopped
  • 1tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1tsp Coriander Powder
  • ½tsp Cumin Powder
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 2tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 8 Cardamom Seeds
  • 4cm of stick of Cinnamon
  • 8 Cloves
  • 150ml Cream
  • 200ml Whole Milk
  • 2tsp White Pepper Powder
  • 1tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 500 ml Water
Instructions
  1. Peel, boil and mash the potatoes. You can do this last step with a hand blender or with a potato masher.
  2. Mix half the paneer, green chilli peppers, ginger powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Add the mashed potatoes and mix.
  4. Oil your hands slightly. Now take a small ball of the mixture in your hands. Roll the ball so it is nice and round.
  5. Repeat this with the remaining mixture until you have about 12 round balls. Set the balls aside.
  6. Heat up the vegetable oil. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to the pan and roast them gently on a low flame.
  7. Remove the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves from the pan. Let them cool down a bit and then grind them with a mortar and pestle.
  8. Mix the cream, green peas, remaining paneer and milk together in a bowl to make a paste.
  9. Heat up the ghee in the same pan.
  10. Add the white pepper powder and turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds.
  11. Now add the paste and fry for 8 minutes.
  12. Add in the water and lower the flame.
  13. Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  14. Fill a pan with vegetable oil and heat it on a high flame until there are bubbles.
  15. Gently add in the koftas and deep fry them until they are golden brown.
  16. Remove them and serve with the gravy.

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07May 12

Simple Sev Snacks

Simple Sev SnacksSev are crispy, deep-fried Indian snacks. I remember coming home from school as a little girl, looking for an afternoon snack, and munching on sev; it is what I would call comfort food. I do have to give a quick warning, though— it is not exactly low on calories! As it is deep fried, be sure to munch on just enough to enjoy, but do not overdo it.

To prepare this recipe, you will need a sev maker, also known as a sev press. This cooking device can be bought at any Indian food store. Sev makers are a bit like pasta makers. However, they are much smaller and can be lifted up and held over a pot or a pan. (For a chocolaty snack, try this chocolate tiffin. It’s not Indian food, but it’s yummy!)

Ingredients:

  • 360g whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. red chilli powder
  • 4 pinches of asafoetida
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt to taste
  • 240ml water
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying the sev

Preparation Method:

  1. Place the whole-wheat flour in a bowl. This is a very distinctive type of flour that will give the sev the flavour you are going for.
  2. Add the red chilli powder to the flour. Blend these ingredients.
  3. Add the asafoetida  and turmeric powder to the mix.
  4. Throw in a pinch of salt.
  5. Remove from the bowl and place it on a board.
  6. Add the vegetable oil and water and slowly knead the dough. I have said this before, but I really do consider kneading dough to be good exercise. It will perhaps offset some of the calories from eating deep-fried snacks!
  7. Now grease the inside of the sev maker with oil.
  8. Put the ball of dough into the sev maker.
  9. Heat up the vegetable oil on medium heat in a deep-bottomed pan. When it is quite hot and you can see little bubbles forming in it, you are ready to deep-fry the sev.
  10. Hold the sev maker over the pan with the hot oil in it. Slowly turn the sev maker’s handle so that thin strings of pasta-like dough come out. They should fall gently into the pan.
  11. Let the sev fry lightly.
  12. Remove the sev from the hot oil and drain it. You do not want to eat all that oil, so let a lot of it drain off.
  13. Allow the sev to cool and become crunchy before snacking on it.

 

Makes: 360g of sev

Takes: 45 minutes

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01May 12

Malai Kulfi (Pistachio and Almond Ice Cream)

Malai KulfiKulfi is a dessert that most of us are familiar with if we’ve eaten out at a few Indian restaurants. I’m sure that you’ll agree, however, once you’ve tried and tested this Malai Kulfi recipe, that nothing beats making it fresh at home – it’s much more aromatic and definitely creamier when home-made!

Lots of Indian desserts combine milk and cardamon, and this recipe is no exception. The play of the sweetness of condensed milk with the fragrance of the cardamon seeds is surprising to some, a taste to acquire for others, and simply delightful to most. Mango and rose Kulfi are also very tasty.

Kulfi is often described as ice cream because this is the closest way to express what the dish looks and tastes like, but in fact Kulfi is denser in texture and takes longer to melt than traditional British ice-creams, which are usually whipped. (Try this homemade strawberry ice-cream.) Kulfi tends to have a richer flavour too.

Ingredients
• 205g evaporated milk
• 150g condensed milk
• 150ml whipping cream
• 2 drops of vanilla essence
• Pinch of ground cardamon
• 12g ground almonds
• 12g ground pistachio nuts and a few left whole for decoration

Preparation Method
1. In a large pan, pour in the 2 types of milk and the cream. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes by which time the consistency of the contents should have thickened and the quantity reduced.
2. Add the vanilla extract and the cardamon powder. Stir, remove from the heat, and allow to cool.
3. Once the mixture is cool, stir in the ground nuts.
4. Pour into 4 x 100ml freezer-proof moulds and freeze for 8 hours. If you don’t have any moulds handy, you can use cleaned-out yoghurt pots which work just as well.

When you are ready to serve the Malai Kulfi, take the moulds out of the freezer and run a little warm water over them to loosen the contents. Serve in a pretty bowl with a few whole pistachio nuts sprinkled on the top.

Takes: 5 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook
Makes: 4 servings

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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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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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29Mar 12

Mild Vegetable Curry

Mild Vegetable CurryThis is a very simple vegetable curry dish that makes a good substitute for the usual casserole. It’s very mild so those of you who are not used to strong Indian spices can start here with a nice, gentle dish and perhaps build your way up to a hotter recipe in the future.

 

Many people like to serve this on top of white rice. That makes it even more filling. However, vegetable curry is quite substantial and can be eaten on its own as well. I suggest a cauliflower and mushroom curry as it is also quite a mild and creative way to eat your veggies.

The good thing about this mild vegetable curry recipe is that it can be prepared very quickly, and it’s not very expensive. Since it’s so hearty and nutritious, it makes a great meal for young children, especially in the winter. That means you can feed your whole family on a budget. And, it’s a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables!

Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm pieces
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm pieces
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 1 cm pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 tablespoons mild curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 100ml water

Preparation Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Put the potato, aubergine and carrots into an oven-proof bowl with a lid (or a pot with a lid). Then, add 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste and 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Stir the ingredients gently so that all the vegetables are lightly coated with oil and curry paste. Put the oven-proof bowl with these vegetables into the oven and leave to roast for 25 minutes.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until it is very hot. Next add the garlic. Fry the diced garlic for 2 minutes at medium heat. Then add the diced onion and fry for another minute. Add 2 tablespoons of curry paste. Stir it gently so that it is evenly distributed in the frying pan. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Next, slowly stir in the coconut milk and the water. Lower stove to low heat and let simmer for ten minutes.
  5. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add them to the sauce. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Makes: 6 servings

Takes: 35 minutes

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26Mar 12

Spicy Chickpeas with Masala

Spicy chickpeas with masalaPulses are a regular part of my diet. I am especially fond of chickpeas; they are used for many different types of foods such as stews, curries or salads (try this Carrot and Chickpea Salad). They can also be mashed up to make hummus or falafel. In this Spicy Chickpeas with Masala recipe, I take this otherwise bland pulse, mix it with red pepper and spinach, and create a feisty plate for all Indian-food lovers to enjoy! Although it might be a tad spicy, serving it with rice provides a nice balance.

Chickpeas are very high in protein and fibre. However, they are much easier to digest than other pulses. I appreciate that fact, and I keep it in mind to avoid any embarrassing situations regarding my digestive system.

These tiny seeds are an important part of Indian industry as India is the top producer of chickpeas in the world. Did you know there are actually two types of chickpeas? The common English variety is actually called kabuli. It is lighter and larger than the Indian chickpea, desi. The native desi is smaller, darker, and a bit healthier than the Kabuli. Regardless, either one will work perfectly in my spicy chickpea recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of cooked chickpeas, about 800 grams.
  • 200g fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small tomato, diced into cubes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 5g fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preparation Method:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat up a few teaspoons of olive oil.
  2. When hot, sauté the onion, pepper, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent and soft.
  3. Clean the chickpeas by rinsing them in a colander and draining. Pick out any empty shells.
  4. Add the chickpeas to the frying pan, then the vegetables, and mix well.
  5. Add all the spices and the tomato to the mix, stirring well.
  6. Next place just enough hot water in the pan so as to cover the vegetables. This is to create a sauce-like texture when finished.
  7. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat and add spinach. Cover again and allow the spinach to simmer for 2 more minutes with the rest of the vegetables.
  9. Take off the stove and serve on top of rice.

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 45 minutes

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14Feb 12

Sweetheart Chicken Curry with Fragrant Rice

Sweetheart chicken curry with fragrant riceThis is one of my all-time favourite chicken curry recipes that grew out of experimenting with the combination of spices and fruit. You can make sweetheart chicken curry mild or give it a real kick by varying the type and quantity of curry paste that you use. However, I would always recommend a paste rather than a sauce, which in my opinion gives a nicer texture and a better flavour.

The turmeric powder in the fragrant rice turns it a beautiful warm yellow, and the spices give a wonderful fragrance which complements the sweetness and zest of the curry. If there’s any left over, it’s really tasty eaten cold the next day as a coronation chicken alternative, or try it cold in a sandwich.

Ingredients for the sweet chicken curry
• 2 large chicken breasts, skinned and cut into chunks
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 4 shallots or 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
• ¼ tsp cumin seeds
• 2-3 tsp Pataks Madras curry paste
• ½ small tin of breakfast apricots in juice, roughly chopped or torn, plus the juice
• 3 tbsp light crème fraiche
• Bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
• Mango chutney to serve

Ingredients for the fragrant rice
• 1 mug of dried Basmati rice
• 5 cloves
• Pinch of turmeric powder
• 3 cardamon pods, shells removed and discarded
• ½ tsp cumin seeds
• Salt, pinch

Preparation Method
1. Dry fry the fragrant rice spices in a deep-based pan for a minute until you smell the scent released.
2. Add the rice and cover well with water, freshly boiled from the kettle. Bring the water to the boil, add the salt, stir the contents very lightly just once, cover the pan with a lid, turn down the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
3. Whilst the rice is simmering, heat the oil in a shallow-based frying pan, add the cumin and shallots, and fry on a medium heat until soft.
4. Stir in the curry paste – you can play with how much you add depending on the kick you’re looking for – and fry for a minute.
5. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.
6. Add the apricot pieces and about half to three quarters of the juice from the tin, depending on how much sauce you want to make.
7. Add the crème fraiche and the coriander and stir in lightly so that the curry takes on a slightly marbled look with the white of the crème fraiche against the colour of the curry sauce.
8. Serve the rice and the curry onto plates along with a generous portion of mango chutney, and enjoy with a nicely chilled oaked chardonnay.

Takes: 15 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to cook
Makes: A generous portion for 2

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