Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cutting Chai Popsicles

Who doesn't like Chai? That morning cup that is generally enjoyed by people all over India. The country has more tea lovers compared to coffee lovers, maybe the reason why you see tea sellers at all the corners in the cities, towns and villages. The type of tea these corner stores sell is very different from the tea from a restaurant or hotel. The big vessel that they use keeps boiling with all the sugar, tea leaves, water, milk and ginger. It is super concentrated yet yummy. And yes, it is served in a typical glass called cutting chai glasses, that are just about 4 inches tall and all the tea in it can be gulped down in two sips. Along with the glasses, another eye catching product they use is the aluminium kettle that stores the tea. 




Over the last few months and years, these cutting glasses, their metal stand and the kettle is becoming extremely popular in households. People are going out of the way to use the glasses as condiment holder, to set desserts or even to serve salads. I am also on the bandwagon, thanks to my brother who got the entire set for me. I have used the glasses to serve chocolate and mango mousse, condiments for khowsuey and dal pakwan and now to set these cutting chai popsicles! I totally love them to serve everything and also to enjoy cutting chai on days that I miss Mumbai! 

So coming to the recipe, these popsicles are nice and creamy owing to the whipped cream. Added to the whipped cream is chai extract made fresh at home and condensed milk. While it is pretty straightforward, the only mess can be the chai brewed water. If the water is too much, the popsicles will have tiny bits of ice in it. I used 1/4 cup water and on boiling it reduced to half. That helped in getting a crystal (ice) free popsicle. The same method can be followed to get a coffee flavored popsicle too. 




In trying to keep up with the authenticity of chai popsicles, I set them in my cutting chai glasses and pushed a wooden stick once it was partly set. If you do not have the glasses, use any standard popsicle mold or even a pan to set it as an ice cream and scoop it out to serve. Another interesting way would be to add some biscuit crumble on the ice cream and serve. The idea struck me after I had made my pops so I shall do that next time around! Btw, did you notice the green plant in the backdrop? It is my lemongrass shrub that I use to enjoy fresh tea each day!



Ingredients

Heavy Whipping Cream 2 cups
Condensed Milk 3/4 cup
Loose tea leaves  1/4 cup or tea bags 3-4
Ginger 1 inch
Cardamom 4-5
Mint Leaves 3-4
Cinnamon 1 inch
Lemon Grass 2-3 stalks



Method

To prepare the tea extract, using a mortar pestle crush ginger, cardamom pods, mint leaves, lemongrass and cinnamon. Make a fine paste out of it. Heat 1/4 cup water and add the crushed paste. Also, add the tea leaves or tea bags and brew for 5-6 minutes till strong. Sieve and cool the mixture completely.

Chill the bowl and hand mixer for ten minutes. In the bowl add whipping cream. Whip till you get soft peaks. Then, add the condensed milk and the cooled tea mixture. Whip one last time to mix it all well.  

Add the mixture to the cutting chai glasses. Alternatively, use popsicle molds or an aluminum pan. Freeze for 2 hours. If using chai glasses, insert wooden sticks in them and freeze for another 3-4 hours.

Once completely frozen, it is really easy to remove the popsicles. Just run it under hot water for ten seconds and the popsicle will slide out easily. Enjoy the chai flavored candy this summer!!



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Methi na Gota | Dakor na Gota


Have you ever heard of these yummy fried fritters made from fenugreek leaves and a special flour and spice mix? If you haven't, you are definitely missing something that the people from Gujarat relish! Known as methi na gota or sometimes Dakor na Gota based on the town that this originated in, this snack is best enjoyed with a sweet tangy chutney that is served with it. Got is the Gujarati word for rounds, and these fritters are generally round in shape. 



Okay, not confusing things further, let's dissect the dish to understand what it is. Simply put, you can buy a box of gota mix (Talod is my personal favorite brand), follow the instructions to add finely chopped fenugreek leaves, some cilantro if you like, oil and water. That is all the authentic gota needs. If you want to explore, add onions, carrots or any vegetable of your choice. It is also important to note that the mix is relatively spicy. If you cannot handle it, add some chickpea flour and adjust the salt and sugar in the mix. Water also needs to be adjusted to get a pancake batter.



The recipe needs finely chopped methi leaves. While I have always been using my knife to cut all the fenugreek leaves, I recently switched to using herb scissors. Then, Chefast sent me a new pair of herb scissors and they came really handy to chop the greens. Not only did they send the scissor, they sent two bags to store chopped greens too. Along with the scissors, bags and the sheath that comes on the blade, this set is complete for every kitchen. It not only helps chopping greens, it is also perfect for crafts where you need thin strips of paper. The sheath on the scissor blade comes with a brush at the bottom to remove everything from between the five blades. This set is a great buy, here is the Amazon link to get yours: Chefast Herb Scissors.



Back to the recipe, I have used a mix from this brand called Talod. I know a lot of brands have started selling the dakor gota mix, but talod remains my favorite. The packet comes with a small sachet with a mix to make a tangy and sweet chutney to enjoy with the gotas. While these fritters taste good with cilantro chutney and ketchup, nothing beats the tasty chutney made by adding water to the sachet contents. Enjoy this Gujarat special recipe and have a great week!

Ingredients

Methi Leaves 2 cups
Cilantro 1/4 cup
Dakor Gota Mix (any brand) 1 box
Oil 2 tsp for batter
Oil to fry



Method

Clean all the methi leaves and cilantro. Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, chop it to small bits. Wash and dry the leaves. 

In a mixing bowl add the gota mix and two tsp of oil. Mix well and then using 3/4 cup water, mix it all to a batter. Add the cilantro and fenugreek leaves. Mix well to get a batter that is lump free. 

Heat oil and test using a small bit of batter to check if it is hot enough. If the bit rises to the top of the oil, it is the right temperature. Using your fingers or a spoon, add the gotas in oil and fry till golden brown, turning them upside down atleast a couple of times. 

Remove using a slotted spoon onto a kitchen towel, let the extra oil be absorbed and serve warm with the chutney that comes with the gota mix or even cilantro chutney and tomato ketchup.




**This Post contains affiliate links. One or more products were sent to me for review purposes. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Chinese Bhel

Blogging Marathon #65 Week 4 Day 3
Theme: One Sauce, Two dishes
Dish: Chinese Bhel

Today is the last day of the Blogging Marathon for this theme, this week and this month! With this recipe, the month of June comes to an end and we shall start a new BM next month. The themes Valli has chosen for the next month are super exciting. Don't forget to come back to read them!



For today, the dish is a super addictive snack from the streets of Mumbai! If you have seen those bicycles selling Chinese Bhel or enjoyed the dish at various restaurants around the city, you will understand my excitement! I LOVE chinese bhel but the amount of preparation that goes in before making the bhel kept me away from making it. However, I went to Walmart the other day and a pile of fried chow mein caught my eye in the Asian rack. I was so tempted to make the bhel that I bought three HUGE packets of the noodles. We ate Chinese Bhel about 6 times and I still had noodles to finish!




However, if you do not get fried noodles, you can make them at home. Simply buy a packet of thin noodles, cook the noodles as per the package instructions and dry them on a towel. Then fry them in hot oil and keep them ready to make the bhel. Once that bit is done, the rest of the process takes just five minutes. Mix the sauces, slice the vegetables and mix it all together. Enjoy the bowl full of spicy, sweet and tangy bhel. 

Ingredients

Fried Chow Mein 2 cups
Onion 1/2 medium thinly sliced
Colored Peppers 1/2 medium thinly sliced
Cabbage 1 cup shredded
Carrot 1 medium julienned
Spring Onion a handful
Schezwan Sauce 1/4 cup
Vinegar 1 tsp
Tomato Ketchup 1/4 cup
Soy Sauce 1 tsp
Salt if required
Cilantro  




Method

In a small bowl, add all the sauces and mix. To make the Schezwan sauce, use the recipe here. This mixture can be prepared and stored till is time to serve. Chop the vegetables and set aside.

When ready to eat, take the fried chow mein in a mixing bowl. Add the shredded vegetables except spring onion and cilantro. Also add the sauce mixture. Season with salt if required. Mix everything well and serve garnished with cilantro and spring onions. 






Saturday, June 25, 2016

Schezwan Dumplings

Blogging Marathon #65 Week 4 Day 2
Theme: One Sauce, Two dishes
Dish: Schezwan Dumplings

Dumplings, a word not very popular in India a few years back has got immense popularity in the years. What was once a gourmet dish has become so famous that a cart steaming and serving dumplings is a common sight in all food courts at the malls and the movies. They sell the steamed dumplings with a spicy and sour sauce. The last time I went to India, I was amazed to see the cart even at the Domestic Airport in Mumbai! 




While every recipe of dumpling has a different stuffing ranging from vegetables and meats to tofu and paneer and even cheese in certain places. Another variation of the dumplings that I learnt from a local restaurant is the pan fried dumplings. Roll the dumplings, place them in oil and smear the bottoms. Then add water and cook the dumplings. 




So today, for the second day of the Marathon this week, I decided to take my pan fried dumplings to a different level, a rather spicy one! I have seen tons of recipes on foodgawker of dumplings dunked in chilli oil. So based on that, I decided to fuse the schezwan sauce I posted yesterday with my favorite dumplings recipe! The result was a spicy, tasty and super amazing plate full of schezwan dumplings. This version is on the higher side of spicy, adjust the quantities of schezwan sauce and chilli oil based on your preference. And yes, come back tomorrow for yet another favorite family recipe!




Ingredients

Dumplings 10-12
Green and Red Peppers 1 each
Spring Onions 1 bunch
Garlic 2-3 pods
Schezwan Sauce 4 tbsp
Soy Sauce 1 tbsp
Vinegar 1 tsp
Tomato ketchup 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Pepper powder 1 tsp
Oil 1 tsp
Chilli Oil 1 tbsp




Method

Make the dumplings as mentioned in this recipe. Follow the recipe till the end of folding. You can roll them and freeze them till ready to use. Mix together tomato ketchup, schezwan sauce, soy sauce and vinegar with 1/2 cup water. Mince garlic, dice peppers and finely chop spring onions.

In a small pan, heat chilli oil. Add garlic pods and saute. Then add pepper and spring onion whites. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add the prepared sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well and bring the sauce to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover.

In a broad pan, heat oil. Place the dumplings and let them  turn brown on one side. Once brown, add the sauce and mix it into the dumplings. Then add 1/4 cup water and cover. Once the water is completely absorbed in about 3-4 minutes, turn the heat down and serve topped with spring onion greens. 






Friday, June 24, 2016

Vanilla Popsicles


Summer is here and cold things are more than welcome for everyone in the family. Popsicles is probably the favorite dessert or even snack for the heat. Though I have been making a lot of desserts and posting them here, I realized I never posted an Ice-Cream! And recently Lebice sent me a popsicle kit, I knew I was making something delicious for the blog. 




As it is the first ice cream recipe coming on the blog, I thought I would start with a really basic recipe; Vanilla Ice-Cream. We both love the white ice-cream, both the one we used to enjoy in India and the creamy ones we get in the US. The ice cream there was made from real milk, sugar and seasoning. Here, I see it is more of cream and condensed milk. I made this the American way, super creamy and made from just those two ingredients and some vanilla extract. The result was awesome and to jazz things a little bit, I dipped a few in chocolate and added sprinkles to a few. 




Coming to the popsicle maker, the one in this post is by Lebice. I ordered mine from Amazon. There are six popsicle moulds, a tray to keep the moulds upright, a tiny funnel to pour in the mixture to the molds and a cute little brush to help clean all the cream when you are done making. I loved this set for all kinds of popsicles and the best part is the cup like bottom of the mold that can hold all the melting popsicle water/milk without staining the clothes. It is so nice that a small modification like that makes life easier! Not to forget that the mold is perfectly smooth, making popsicles that are just like the candies from India! Easy to use, easy to clean and nice bright colored sticks. 




So waste no more time and read on. The recipe is super easy, and needs just THREE simple ingredients to make. Surprise your family with vanilla popsicles and have a great summer. 

Ingredients

Heavy Whipping Cream 2 cups
Condensed Milk 3/4 cup
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp




Method

Chill the bowl and hand mixer for ten minutes. In the bowl add whipping cream. Whip till you get soft peaks. 

Then, add the condensed milk and vanilla extract. Beat again to a homogenous mixture. 

Add the mixture to the popsicle molds. Alternatively add to a pan. Freeze for 4-6 hours. 

To create a chocolate coating on top, melt chocolate candy in a bowl. Dip each popsicle into the chocolate and add nuts or sprinkles. Serve!




**** The post contains affiliate links. One or more products were sent to me complimentary in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Schezwan Sauce

Blogging Marathon #65 Week 4 Day 1
Theme: One Sauce, Two dishes
Dish: Schezwan Sauce

Schezwan sauce or Szechuan sauce, an essential condiment in all Indo-Chinese dishes needs no introduction. Every course of Indo-Chinese has this sauce in it. Whether it is appetizers like schezwan fingers, schezwan potatoes or main course items like vegetables in schezwan sauce or even schezwan rice or schezwan noodles; every dish has it! So for a family that loves their Indo-Chinese dishes at home, this sauce would have a permanent place in the refrigerator!




Our family is just like that. We love all these dishes and so home-made schezwan sauce is always found in the house. Not only Chinese, this sauce has now found a place in all cuisines from Schezwan Dosa to Schezwan Vada Pav. This spicy sauce tastes amazing with all kinds of pakodas and even with parathas.

So, today on the first day of week 4 of Blogging Marathon, where the theme is to make a sauce on day one and two dishes using the sauce on the following days I chose this spicy yet delicious sauce. The recipe is a simple one and can be made in advance. In fact, it should be made in advance as the taste deepens as the days pass. Making the sauce a couple of days before you want to use it is the best. The flavors get completely absorbed and the sauce tastes amazing. 




Here is the recipe for Schezwan Sauce today, and come back tomorrow and day after for two cool dishes made using this sauce. I promise they are as easy and yummy as this sauce!


Ingredients

Dried Kashmiri Chillies 1 cup
Garlic 2-3 pods
Ginger 1 inch piece
Chilli Oil 2 tbsp
Vegetable Oil 3-4 tbsp
Vinegar 1 tsp
Salt




Method

Remove stems, veins and seeds of the kashmiri chillies. Chop into pieces and set aside. Mince ginger and garlic pods. 

In a pan heat vegetable oil and chilli oil. Turn down the heat and add the chillies. Make sure all the chillies are submerged in the oil. Add the minced garlic and ginger and mix well. Let them cool for a couple of hours. 

Once cool, blend to a fine paste with salt and vinegar. Add more oil if required. Do not use any water in the sauce.

Once pureed, store in an airtight container. Refrigerate and use as required.