Today’s dessert recipe comes with a little story. It’s a story of how I lost to a flavor pop quiz. I take pride (slightly) in my sense of taste especially when it comes to spices. And more so, if it something that isn’t the norm. Like papaya to tenderize meat. Or a teeny cube of jaggery in Sambhar. It has been carefully honed over the years and it often surprises people when I confirm whether certain ingredients have been added to a recipe. And then a little while ago, I got it wrong. Horribly. Horribly because my guess was no where close to the answer. In fact, it was something I had never tasted before!
I finally have a skillet recipe on my blog! Having bought it close to two years ago, I always thought I’d be sharking a cookie or a cake recipe first. But since I am way beyond fashionably late to the skillet party, I have a chicken pie recipe for you. I’ve been holding off sharing this recipe waiting for the weather to be pie perfect. Last year, this time it was pouring heavily. I would know because it caused quite some damage to my (only proper) Curry Leaf Plant. This last week has been pretty warm for Dubai winter. But not too warm to bake a pie.
One fine Wednesday morning, I was preparing for yet another attempt at Macarons, having failed the previous four times. My husband had just left to work and I was negotiating with Ali about eating his pancakes on his own. I heard the door unlock. It is very rare my husband forgets something and he usually calls and asks to be at the door with whatever it is that he’s left behind. I see him standing at the door with our green suitcase. “Let’s start packing. We have to leave in half an hour.”
I love being surprised. Scratch that. I love the idea of being surprised. For should I know there is a surprise in store, then I will hound him every hour asking what it is. My mind was blank and I cluelessly began gathering clothes. To which he remained tight-lipped. All he said is it will be cold so pack accordingly. I silently thanked the stars that I had fresh laundry. I was scurrying around the house, ticking off elaborate mental lists, just so I don’t forget any toddler essentials.
It started with reading a recipe for Murg Makhani. A restaurant feature in TimeOut Abu Dhabi covered Ushna, a fine dining Indian restaurant in Abu Dhabi. To start of, the sauce requires 5 kilograms of fresh tomatoes to be boiled for two hours. I’m sure most of us home cooks don’t have stock pots large enough to hold even 3 kilograms of tomatoes. In any case, I kept reading. If there’s one thing I have learnt from Masterchef classes and recipes is that more than adapting it to the home kitchen, it’s the technique that we can learn from. This recipe, too, had an important line that will shatter one of the most common concepts of a great butter chicken. Chef Amrish Sood states the logic behind the curry is that the texture of the sauce should be similar to butter, smooth and fine. You would think the idea was that the sauce itself should taste buttery. It just happened that I was on the lookout for a sound lasagna recipe at the same time. That’s when I had the Eureka moment. Given the amount of tomatoes that go into the sauce, why don’t I make a Lasagna using butter chicken?!
When I first baked a cheesecake, I didn’t know I was stepping on what is considered to be a slippery slope. I first baked it for my husband on his birthday because its his favorite. Honestly, not knowing that its a recipe that might fail more than succeed helped because I just followed the instructions, put it in its water bath and let it bake. And it came out just fine. Later on when I was hoping to be a bake something other that the classic version did I encounter the horror stories. Cracked tops, collapsing middles and still wet insides. There seemed to be so many things that could go wrong. After having read that, the next time I attempted to bake a cheesecake I added some fear. And this despite having read troubleshooting tips from my trusted baking bloggers’ list. It came out of the oven with a crack on the top pretty much like the Mercedes logo. I laughed aloud at the coincidence and didn’t bother covering it up. It did make me want to find a daunting free cheesecake recipe.
Ramadan Kareem to all my lovely readers. Another Blessed Month has descended upon us and I’m geared with a quite a few goals I pray to accomplish. My blog is rather dormant given the time restraints of raising a toddler. However, every year I have the urge to share with you recipes my family enjoys suited for the month of Ramadan. This year is no different. I’ve planned way ahead and have a few recipes in my kitty that I can’t wait to share. Given that I know quite a few children who will be fasting this month, the first recipe I have is for the little believers amongst us who are fasting. For their will and determination, a little something for the little hearts patiently waiting to break their fast.
Isn’t this what you would call a showstopper? There’s nothing that can prematurely seize conversations giving way to a buzz of excitement when a whole bird is placed right in the centre of the table. The chatter resumes but it would all be in awe and appreciation for the bird that has arrived. Here she lies in crimson colored gravy that emanates the spices you are about to experience. And if it looks like a days’ worth of labour, the merit would have come your way even before she has been carved. Kozhi Nirachathu is one of the prized recipes of Moplah cuisine. A light onion masala and hardboiled eggs are stuffed into a whole chicken which is then fried and baked alongside a caramelised onion gravy.
How quickly has the final week of Ramadan arrived! In a few days, our routines will return to normalcy. There are a lot of goals I haven’t completed and yet the ones I have been able to, have struck a chord. Having eliminated the distraction of food, what I could finish reading resonated deeper than usual. Such is the beauty of this month. I’m hoping to leave it behind firmly clutching a few resolves. Speaking of Ramadan coming to an end, it also means that soon we are getting back to eating breakfast. Well, that is if you are that sort of a person.
The final recipe I want to share here will make the transition from Iftar evenings to breakfast post Ramadan smoothly. Considering you have the little ones at home for the summer, I can vouch this won’t be abandoned. Ever since Ali could eat more than mush, I have made these pancakes for him and he finishes them without a fuss. In fact, it is one of his favourite meal options and on occasions he has enjoyed them for dinner too.
It makes me anxious. Well before the set date, I would have made four lists. A shopping one, the intended menu, preps to be done the day before and what needs to be finished on the day itself. All this time, I’ve only helped prepare the main course or casually looked after dessert. After our move to Dubai, I’ve entertained for my extended family thrice. I feel we don’t do the social house visits, even to the homes of close family, as much as it was done when I was a child. Our lives are just much more busier than what it used to be. However, gathering together for a meal is still a family affair. While preparing for it, I don’t know why I have an adrenaline rush that feels exactly like I am about to sit for an exam. The Math paper, for which I’m unprepared for, to be specific. It’s the nerves of the responsibility of having to do prepare everything solo. Coupled with my little one, it takes a bit longer considering his meals and acitivites are priority. Yet, I love entertaining. I relax once everyone arrives and the conversations overpower the nervous chattering in my head. Needless to say, dessert is the least stressful (and my favourite) course. This was dessert no.2 the night I made that simple Shahi Tukra. Considering how easy it comes together, it would be a wonderful addition to a dinner your’e hosting or even to take over for potluck.
When you are 7 years old and have just begun fasting, you’re constantly thinking about what Umma is preparing for Iftar. At that age, you don’t comprehend to the significance of fasting long hours. She would ask what my brother and I would like to eat to break our fast. These rolls were one of them. Sweet morsels of bread, a filling cutting through the sweetness with a lingering heat and the buttery crispness that is the start to this delightful bite.