Haleem

Haleem is a dish made of lentils, bulgar and meat known to have originated from Afghanistan. It takes a bit of effort but is well worth it and is an instant hit!

First of all I looked around for Shan’s Haleem masala in the house bu apparently mom had used it all up. This wasn’t going right. I googled and went through probably 20 haleem recipes before I came across Nabeela’s site. And because it was named Trial and Error… this recipe was tried… and thats what made me try it to instead of all those other recipes posted online that seemed to have been put together by robots. :|

Nabeela has as excellent Hydrabadi Haleem recipe posted which I tried out. Yum!

This was my first time trying to make Haleem. Previously I have only help my mom in mashing up the ingredients. I used boneless chicken and since I didn’t even have any chicken stock to prevent it fro being totally tasteless I added a cube of chicken stock.

It’s sad that my mom kept telling me not to make it, that I would screw it up, that no one would eat it… Well it would have been nice if for a change she’d have been happy I was trying to make something “difficult”. (Altho trust me this is a time consuming recipe but not at all difficult). Instead of making me feel miserable and a total failure before I had even started she could have shown some enthusiasm. But no, that never happens. Well I’m glad I didn’t listen to her and made it. IT turned out great. Next time round I will tweak it a bit to my own taste. Prolly increase the amount of lentils and also add moong daal (split green gram) But this recipe stands great as it is. I’d like to try Monas Haleem recipe too.

It’s almost iftar time. Gotta go! :)

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Banana Bread Pudding

Bread puddings are so yum. I made bread pudding for the first time around 2-3 years ago. Unfortunately back then I would follow recipes exactly as they were written without making any obvious adjustments to our tastes. That’s how I ended up with an extremely sweet bread pudding. After all these years I tried my hand at it again. This time i decided to add some fruit to it and the ripening banans just seemed fit for the task. I was so careful with the sugar this time I think I would have been better off with a tablespoon more. But the chocolate syrup comes in handy :P Heres the recipe I used:

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bread cut into cubes
  • 2 T butter, melted 
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 T granulated white sugar
  • 1 t vanilla essence
  • 1 ripe banana
  • A pinch of cinamon (optional)
  • 3 cardamoms (optional)
  • 2 T grated coconut (optional)
  1. Drizzle butter over the bread cubes and toss them around. Put them in a baking dish. (Use a dish that can handle 3 cups of liquid. I used an 8 x 3)
  2. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs. Slowly add the milk while whisking. Mix in the sugar.
  3. Peel the banana and mash it up with a fork. Add about 1/4th cup of the egg mixture to the mashed banana and continue mashing with a fork to a fine consistancy. Now add the banana mixture to the egg-milk mixture followed by the cardamom seeds, cinamon, vanilla essence and coconut. Whisk throughly and pour immeduately over the bread pieces to ensure that the dry ingredients dont settle down.
  4. Use the fork to press down the bread pieces so that they are soaked thoroughly in the mixture. While the bread is soaking up in the mixture preheat the oven to 175C (10 minutes).
  5. It took 35 minutes to bake through but might take up to 45 minutes too depending on your baking dish. IT is done when the bread pieces start to go brown on top and the pudding rises up. You can always use a toothpick to test.

Since I used only 3T of sugar it came out a bit bland for my taste. But I served it with chocolate syrup and that made up for it. I’ll make it with 4 T next time. Also, most recipes ask for 4 eggs but I find that it tastes too eggy with 4 so I prefer 3.

And the end result:

Banana Bread Pudding 

Enjoy!

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Pizza!!

I tried my hand at home-made pizza today… right from scratch. Ive tried making pizza dough once, it was some weird quikie recipe where the dough was actually batter that was spread into the pan, topped with your preferred toppings and  then baked. It used baking powder. It never rose and never cooked through.  Bad experience.

 TODAY… since I have been having a lucky streak lately with cooking and baking everything non desi, I decided to try my hand at pizza dough again. More obviously, I tried to overcome my fear of meeting with failure if I used yeast. The results were so good I am totally in love with using yeast and will try any recipe that requires yeast now without any hesitancy. Yeast, is not my friend. :) Mine had only 2 months left to expire. When I mixed it up with warm water (warmed up in an electric kettle) and sugar it didn’t froth much in the suggested 10 minutes. I worried if I had killed the yeast with hot water or that it was actually too old. After 10 mins there was little froth in a corner. I mixed it up again. And again after another 10 mins. This is when I could hear the beautiful sizzling sound of yeast respiring. I let it sit for another 10 minutes and it finally had a frothy top. I knew this time it was going to work out!

 I used the classic crust dough recipe from Pizzaware.com and also read through their entire pizza making tutorial.

I only had mozzarella cheese on me and some cheddar cheese slices. So i chopped up the chedder cheese slices. I also chopped up a chicken breast and marinated it for about an hour in salt, black pepper, lemon juice and some sugar. Then i sauted it on a high flame for about 5-6 minutes… don’t wanna overcook them or they will become dry. I also had some pitted olives which I sliced up, cut up some onion rings and sliced some canned button mushrooms. I used my pasta sauce recipe for the tomato base. I only had to bake it for around 10 minutes and then turned off the oven but let the pizza sit in there for another 15-20 minutes. (I just didnt want an uncooked crust like last time… the trauma! hehe)

 It turned out great!

The recipe for the dough makes for two pizzas. Kneading it was a paaaaain. I tried to recall how I’ve seenthem do it on TV and that made things a lot easier, altho still strenous. Quite an exercise I tell you. But fun and well worth it. I was soooo elated to see the risen up dough after an hour I coulda literally cried. Punch! Punch! And down it went. Rolling it out using a rolling pin was the easiest part. It shaped it self out so well. Very easy to handle.

I only made one pizza and packed up the other half of the dough. I’ll make it again with a different set of toppings. And will try some of the other dough recipes from the site. Since, now I know these recipes are real.

The corners did come out a bit dry though. More thickness and some olive oil should do the trick.

 If you’re looking for a pizza dough recipe… Pizzaware.com is the place!

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Ras Malai

Ras Malai is one of my faaaavorite desserts! It’s basically milk dumplings in sweetened milk. They are to die for. I’ve been husing the same recipe for years now and each time its a hit. THese can either be made with ricotta cheese or milk power. I make them with milk powder and prefer them that way.

 Ingredients:

For the dumplings you will need

  • 1 cup milk powder
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 T Ghee

For the milk

  • 1 L milk
  • 8 T granulated sugar
  • 4-5 green cardamoms – skin removed and seeds kept and ground
  • Pistachip and almonds chopped

Keep the milk on low fire and add the sugar to it. Stir to dissolve it. Add around 5 T first and taste it, from there you can add as much as you want. Add the cardamom seeds, increase the fire and bring to a boil, then reduce the flame and let simmer on low heat. We want to reduce the milk a little.

 While the milk is simmer, put the milk powder, baking powder and cardamom powder in a bowl and mix well. Now make a well in the middle and add te beaten agg. Knead with the hand to make a dough. It will be sticky initially but soon the ghee will come out and it will be easy to handle. You dont need to knead it a lot.  Leave it aside for 3-5 minutes.

 Make sure the liquid milk does not stick to the utensil (that is it does not burn)

 Now divide the dough into 15-18 equal parts and roll into smooth balls. Once all the dough is used up put them one by one into the milk and bring it to a rolling boil. Cover and let cook in boiling milk for around 10 minutes. The balls will grow twice in size. You might need to press them down once or twice to dunk them in milk. If you dont put it in boiling milk the balls will not be cooked thoroughly and will remain hard in the center.

Pour in to the disk you will serve it in and garnish with chopped pistachios and almonds. Keep in refrigerator and serve chilled.

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Pasta Sauce

This ones a standard in my house. It’s very flexible and I usually adjust it based on what I have in the kitchen. You can make this with both store bought pasta sauce or simple tomato paste.

Ingredients

  • 1 can tomato paste or 1 cup store bought pasta/pizza sauce
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 t sugar (if using store bought salt)
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 chicken breast piece, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 T cream cheese or feta cheese or a slice of chedder cheese (basically a small amount of cheese)
  1. Saute the onions in the olive oil until they are translucent. The oil may seem less but its ok. Keep stirring the onions. When they are translucent add the garlic and saute for another 5 minutes.
  2. Now add the tomato paste. If using the store bought pasta sauce you might want to add 3-4 tablespoons of tomato ketchup.
  3. Add the water, chicken stock cube, give it a good stir and let simmer on low heat. Keep stirring every few minutes to avoid sticking and to let the cube dissolve.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, put the chicken pieces in a pan, put a dash of salt and pepper onto them and saute them until they start to lightly brown. Remove from pan and add into the sauce. If you have mushrooms you can saute them too for a few minutes.
  5. When the sauce has thickened (about 20 minutes) taste it and then add salt and pepper accordingly. If you feel it tastes bitter (some ready made pasta sauces have too much oregano) then add a little more sugar. If you want, add more oregano. Just play around with it.
  6. In the end add the cheese, take the pot off the stove and stir until the cheese has dissolved.

I love how the chopped onions retain their shape and crunchiness and take on this wonderful tangy flavour. This is a very basic recipe and you can adjust it to your hearts content. And like I said it pretty much depends on what you have in your kitchen… tomato paste… off the shelf pasta sauce… mushrooms… ginger powder…. minced meat

Pour on to pasta and enjoy.

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Baked Feta Chicken

I got this recipe off allrecipes.com and it makes for such a succulent baked chicken. I’m posting my version of the recipe as this is how I made it. You can find the original which is almost the same here

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts – boned and skinned
  • Feta Cheese
  • Half a medium tomato, deseeded, chopped finely
  • 1 medium green chilly chopped finely
  • Italian style bread crumbs (I made my own; recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the over to 175degrees celsius and grease a baking tray 
  2. Pound the chicken breasts with a mallet until they are about 1/4th incc thick. Don’t pound to hard or you might end up with holes!
  3. Crumble the feta cheese and toss in the tomatos and green chilly
  4. Place the bread crumbs in a fat dish and place a chicken breast (skin side up) on the bread crumbs. Put the breast skin side down on a flat surface and fill in with feta cheese. Don’t go too generous with the cheese as you are not stuffing a pie here! Remember feta cheese has a very strong flavour! Now roll thie breast side ways and seal with tooth picks (this can be a litle messy). Put the breat back into the bread crumb dish and roll it around to cover it. Place the stuffed breast into the baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil or butter. Repeat the same for all the breasts.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the oven until pinkishness is gone and juices run clear. The bread crumbs on the top will have browned.

Seasoned bread crumbs:

  • 4 slices of stale bread
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t oregano

I toasted about 4 pieces of bread on a grill until they were lightly browned. Then I tore them up and put about 1 torn bread piece a time into the chopper for about a minute (the bread crumbs tend to get stuk so you will need to open up and dislodge them from time to time). You’ve seen bread crumbs, you want these to be of the same consistency. When all the bread has been chopped into crumbs put around a quarter cup of it back into the chopper and add the salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano and run the chopper for 30 seconds. Put the seasoned crumbs with the rest and mix with a fork.

This makes enough to coat 8 chicken breasts.

 Enjoy!

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