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Cover: Some like it hot

Recipes with bay leaves

27Jul 12

Ras Malai

RasmalaiI am an absolutely incurable sweet tooth. I think I may have gotten that from my aunt, who is a total whiz at whipping up sugary treats.

One of my favourite desserts that she taught me how to make is Ras Malai. Ras Malai is a traditional Indian sweet made of tasty little pieces of cheese in a sugary syrup. I like to flavour it with cardamom or pistachios. As I have said before, Indian desserts often play with the wonderful combination of dairy foods and cardamom. To me, there is really just nothing like milk or cheese and cardamom together. It brings me back to my childhood in my aunt’s kitchen.

This rich dessert is always served cold, which makes it especially refreshing on a hot summer afternoon, which is when my aunt always used to serve it.

I strongly recommend you make this recipe with paneer cheese. This traditional Indian cheese will give your Ras Malai the authentic taste you are going for. You can probably find paneer cheese at an Indian speciality foods shop. If they do not stock it, you can always ask them to. However, some people prepare this dish with cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. If you are unable to get paneer cheese, you can substitute with these two alternatives.

If you are looking to try out more Indian desserts, and you enjoyed this combination of dairy and cardamom, why not whip up this delicious Malai Kulfi dessert?

Ras Malai
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Ras Malai is a traditional Indian sweet made of tasty little pieces of cheese in a sugary syrup.
Ingredients
  • 1kg Paneer Cheese
  • 200g Sugar
  • 2L Half and Half
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Pinch of Saffron
  • 4 Cardamom Seeds
  • 1tsp.Vanilla Syrup
Instructions
  1. Mix the sugar and Paneer Cheese in a bowl.
  2. Put them in a flat baking pan and cover the pan with aluminium foil.
  3. Bake them in the oven for 1 hour at 200 degrees Celsius. The cheese should be a light golden brown colour.
  4. Simmer the half and half on a low heat in a pot. Simmer until it reduces to half the amount.
  5. When the half and half has reduced, slowly stir in the bay leaves, saffron, cardamom seeds, and vanilla syrup. Let simmer for a few more minutes.
  6. Remove the baked cheese and lay it on a flat plate. Cut it into 2cm by 2 cm pieces.
  7. Slowly stir these cheese squares into the pot with the half and half.
  8. Remove and let cool.

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24Jul 12

Punjab Chicken

Punjab ChickenPunjab Chicken is a dish that will go over well with your kids. I’m giving you a mild version of this dish, so if you’re trying to introduce your kids to Indian cooking, they will take to it better. If you start out with anything too hot, your children may be turned off to Indian cuisine altogether, so it is best to start them out with milder dishes. However, if you want to prepare a spicier Punjab Chicken, feel free to increase the quantity of spices. But I do not recommend you increase the turmeric too much, as it is quite bitter, so it will overpower the dish.

This dish calls for drumsticks, which is a much moister part of the chicken than the breast. Some people use the whole chicken leg—that is, the drumstick and the thigh. That is fine, but I prefer meat just from the drumstick for this recipe.

In this recipe, you may substitute ghee with cooking oils such as vegetable oil or sunflower oil. Some might say that punjab chicken is similar to chicken fricassee because it uses chicken drumsticks in a thickened sauce. Of course, I prefer my dish because of the wonderful mix of Indian spices!

You may add in more than 700ml of water if you want. This will give you more sauce at the end, but the thickness is really up to you.

Punjab Chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This is a main dish with chicken
Ingredients
  • 2kg Chicken Drumsticks, skinned and chopped
  • 3 Onions
  • 1cm fresh Ginger
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 1tbs Ground Cumin Powder
  • 1 pinch of Turmeric
  • 2tsp Ground Coriander Powder
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 100g of Ghee
  • 700ml Water
  • Pinch of Salt to Taste
  • Bunch of fresh Coriander
Instructions
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pot on a low heat. Be careful not to burn it.
  2. Peel and chop the onions and ginger finely and add to the pot.
  3. Cook them for 10 minutes over low heat until they turn a light golden brown colour.
  4. Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan with a little water.
  5. Add the cumin, turmeric, ground coriander and bay leaves, and let cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Chop the chicken drumsticks into thin slices.
  7. Add the chicken to the pot.
  8. Add in the rest of the water. Make sure there is enough sauce to cover all the chicken pieces well. If not, add a bit more water.
  9. Cook chicken until tender, stirring occasionally.
  10. Stir in the cayenne pepper.
  11. Add salt to taste.
  12. Serve hot, garnished with fresh coriander.

 

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28Jun 12

Dum Aloo

Dum AlooDum Aloo is a delicious vegetarian potato dish. It consists of fried potatoes in a thick yoghurt gravy. Since Dum Aloo is a lot like a potato stew,  (try this red lentil and potato bake recipe), it is rather substantial and filling, so it makes for a great veggie meal.

This potato dish goes well with naan bread or even with rice. When preparing this recipe, be careful not to add too much ginger, or it will overpower the entire dish.

The potatoes and yoghurt gravy can be garnished with chopped coriander leaves. This will give the dish a lovely refreshing touch.

Ingredients:

  • 10 small potatoes
  • 4 onions
  • 3tbsp ghee
  • 4 curry leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2tsp red chilli powder
  • 2tsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • 250ml yoghurt
  • Pinch of salt to taste
  • 1/2tsp garam masala powder
  • vegetable oil to deep fry the potatoes
  • 10g fresh coriander

Preparation Method:

  1. Boil the potatoes. (This will cut down on the amount of time you need to fry them later, so it will be less fattening.) Drain them and wait for them to cool before  peeling and cutting them in half.
  2. Fill a pot with vegetable oil and warm it up on high heat.
  3. Once the oil is hot enough, slowly add in the potatoes. Deep fry them until they turn light brown.
  4. Remove the potatoes and set them aside.
  5. Chop the onions very finely. They should be almost minced.
  6. In a pot, heat up the ghee.
  7. Now add the onions and fry them until they are light brown.
  8. Lower the flame. Add the curry leaves and bay leaves to the pan and continue frying.
  9. Now add the ginger powder to the pan and continue frying on a low flame while stirring slowly. Be careful not to let anything get burnt.
  10. Stir in the red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder.
  11. Slowly stir in the yoghurt.
  12. Add the salt.
  13. Now slowly add in the fried potatoes.
  14. Stir in the garam masala powder.
  15. Cover the pot and let this simmer for about 15 minutes on a low flame, stirring occasionally. You will see the gravy get thicker.
  16. Serve hot and garnish the Dum Aloo with chopped cilantro leaves.

Takes: 1 hour
Makes: Enough for 4 servings

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15Jun 12

Fragrant Ghee

Fragrant GheeGhee is Indian butter. My mother used to make it, especially in the winter to put on our toast or in Bengali spiced vegetable cakes. My grandmother used to make it from curd, but that takes a lot longer. It is much easier to make it from unsalted butter bought at the supermarket.

The leaves are added in to give it an herby aroma. It really has a lovely fragrance. Although it is usually a solid, it can easily be melted so you can drizzle it on top of your favourite Indian desserts such as Puran Poli. It can last up to 6 months in the fridge, but it’s so delicious, I doubt it will!

Ingredients:

  • 2kg unsalted white butter
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 10 drumstick leaves
  • 4 bay leaves

Preparation Method:

  1. Put the unsalted white butter in a deep-bottomed pan. On a medium flame, slowly stir the butter.
  2. Once the butter is melted, lower the flame. Leave it to simmer on the low flame for a few minutes longer.
  3. Slowly add in the fresh curry leaves. They should not be chopped as you are only adding them for the aroma. Stir slowly.
  4. Next, slowly add in the whole, fresh drumstick leaves. Stir gently.
  5. Finally, mix in the bay leaves.
  6. After some time, the milk will divide into two parts: one solid and one liquid. The clear, liquid butter should rise to the top and the solid portions will sink to the bottom. The solid portions will form little clumps. Leave this on the flame long enough for these solid clumps to turn a slightly brownish colour, but be careful not to burn them!
  7. With a wooden spoon, remove the curry, drumstick and bay leaves. When you do this, you need to be careful not to remove the solid clumps yet. You can just throw the leaves away.
  8. Continue simmering with the solid clumps for a few minutes longer.
  9. Remove the ghee from the flame. Put a sieve over a heat-resistant bowl and pour the ghee through it. This will separate the solid clumps out from the liquid ghee. Be very careful not to let it splatter, as it is very hot.

Takes: 50 minutes.
Makes: 1600ml of ghee.

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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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