Almost Lazy Sunday

Saturday afternoon proudly declared that Sunday was going to be even more sleepy and droopy-woozy-gloopy. It was almost six in the evening and I just couldn’t wait to wrap-up all the drawings and samples and rush home to sleep through the weekend. Two feet away from me, Kunsh slept snoring softly and clutching his stick (constructed painfully out of straws) and I was surprised to find myself envying a little child.

Saturday evening went by softly, with a quick visit to one of our favorite coffee hangouts, Mocha. Fauri and I went back home excited about all the lazying around that we were sure was awaiting us.

Don’t know what went wrong, but we woke up to the doorbell. The maid.

The gardener followed in an hour. The neighbor came up for help another hour later. The watchman. The newspaper guy’s assistant. The cable guy.

So much for sleeping through Sunday.

Finally, I decided that chopping mushrooms would let out some of the irritation. And I was right.

Just the color, texture and simplicity of them got me excited and ambitious enough to cook up a complicated gourmet something…ah, well…

In the end though, I made a simple, super-easy lunch of pan-seared chicken (for me) and aloo ke parathe (for Fauri), before we headed out to catch Monsters vs. Aliens at Fun Cinemas. Very grown-up, I know.

Earlier last week, we got a mound of button mushrooms and had used up most of them in two very high-calorie batches of pasta and a mushroom risotto. And we’re still left with a small box. Well, not anymore.

Ultra-simple Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

What You Need:

– 400gms boneless chicken pieces

– three tablespoons of vegetable oil to fry

– 150gms button mushrooms , sliced or chopped (I prefer, sliced)

– 3 medium-sized scallions, chopped finely or pureed (pureed scallions obviously make the sauce smoother)

– 8-9 cloves of garlic, smashed with a side of your knife

– 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns

– Half a teaspoon of dry basil

– Half a teaspoon of chili flakes (depends on how hot you like it)

– 1 bay leaf

– Quarter cup of white wine

– Half a cup of fresh cream

– Salt, pepper and sugar, to taste

– Half a cup of chicken stock or water, this is optional, depending on the kind of consistency you want your sauce to have.

– Chopped cilantro leaves to garnish

How-To:

Heat oil and sear the chicken till brown. Do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan/skillet.

– Remove from the pan. In the remaining oil, add the chopped scallions, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns and saute till soft and translucent. Alternatively, if you’ve pureed the scallions, saute the garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns for about a minute on high heat and then add the puree and cook till the mixture turns slightly golden brown.

– Add the mushroom. Lower the heat, cover and cook till the mushrooms become spongy.

– Add the white wine and basil.

– Wait till the alcohol evaporates. Then add the cream and ultimately season with salt, sugar and pepper to taste.

– Cover and cook till the mixture comes to a boil.

– Add this point, is the sauce seems too thick, add half a cup of chicken stock or just plain water,or more till you get the consistency you like. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

– Add in the seared chicken pieces and toss lightly.

– Take it off the heat. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with steamed rice.

Foram’s parathas were a little more spicy than I would have liked them to be….but yummy all the same!

The Potato filling:

Peel and boil a couple of big potatoes. Mash them when cool. Heat a little oil in a skillet. Fry chopped red onions with ginger-garlic paste. Add in the potatoes and season.

Meanwhile mix water and flour together to form a soft and springy dough. Divide in equal-sized balls. Roll out in circles. Place a handful of potato filling in the middle. Wrap the edges of the rolled out dough on top of the filling. And carefully roll out the stuffed ball again.

Heat a little oil in a flat pan (tava) and place one of the stuffed parathas on it. Turn about a minute later till both sides are golden brown and the flour is cooked thtough. Serve hot with mint chutney or chilled cucumber raita.

Blogoversary

I finally got to celebrate my Blog’s birthday!!

A whole year of not much fat-freeness!! Yahoo.

Like I mentioned earlier, the first anniversary went by in February, and I had been too swamped to even whip up a simple something.

Fat-Free Brainwaves had humble beginnings.

My first post was dated February 1st, 2008. It was about fried hotdogs. That’s right. Of all the things I’ve ever made or learnt, one of the first things I tried to cook for my very own party was chopped chicken hot dogs in a flour-egg-oregano batter.

My friends had actually looked at me in disbelief when I had announce the blog’s web address to them.

“A blog?” asked Udit.

“What? You’re gonna write your secrets in it or something…?”

A big burst of laughter followed….

Honestly, I didn’t know. All I knew was that I wanted one. What would I put in it? I hadn’t asked myself this question.

Back in February 2008, we were in the middle of Final Year Thesis, just recovering from the battering that we undergone from our Thesis Guides and Professors on the presentations of our poorly thought-out design concepts. We had little time to think of anything else, let alone blog, websites and magazines. The only typing we were doing at the time was meant exclusively for our Thesis Books and briefs.

And in the middle of all that, setting up a blog seemed like a waste of time and maintaining would have been quite impossible. But I just had to have a place to put up all the photography and design work that I’d done.

And then food happened.

I had learnt too cook basic meals from Mom…on the phone. So, I decided to add all the my mishaps and haps in the kitchen to the blog, along with design and photography. Its been a whole year (a couple of months more) and I can’t wait to hit the 30,000 visitors mark!

Yesterday, me and Fauri, like true Indians, cooked up a whole deep-bottomed-pot full of phirni.
Chocolate phirni, at that!!

Phirni (firni) is technically a custard made out of reduced milk with sugar and rice flour, stuffed and garnished with dry fruits.

Its heavy, sweet oh-so-sweet and you can try out a ton of flavors, if you’re willing to experiment.
Phirni, is usually flavored with mava (dry milk), which is something most Indian sweets are made out of.
Our version is flavored generously with bittersweet chocolate…..wat else?

Ingredients:

– 1 litre of full cream milk
– 4 tablespoons of rice flour
– 2 tablespoons of ground almond
– Good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2′ pieces
– 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
– 4 tablespoons of brown sugar
– half a cup of almonds, slivered
– half a cup of walnuts, chopped
– a pinch of saffron
– whole cashews, almonds and raisins to garnish
– 1 tablespoon of rose water

How To:

– Add the rice flour to 1 cup of cold milk and stir well to dissolve, remove all lumps. Keep aside for about 15-30 minutes.
– Heat the rest of the milk on low heat. Add the sugar, ground almond, saffron and the rice flour-milk mixture. Stir well. Make sure no lumps exist.
– Heat the milk till the mixture thickens into a custard. Coat the back of a spoon with the custard. Run a finger across the back. The custard is done when your finger leaves a clean line across the back.
– Stir in the almonds and walnuts.
– While the milk is reducing, melt the chocolate pieces with butter in a bain marie.
– Stir the chocolate into the custard. Mix well.
– Spoon out the custard into ramekins or bowls.
– Garnish with slivered almonds, raisins, cashews, etc.
– Sprinkle the rose water on the surface of the mixture in each ramekin/bowl. this is best done by dipping your fingers into the rose water and flicking the droplets on the surface. Rose water here is not for flavor, just for aromatic purposes.
– Chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, before serving.

Kareem’s

A sweaty Mumbai evening, greasy duct-taped tables, worn-out wooden benches, a couple of black soot-lined tandoors and the intoxicating smoky smell of kebabs.

Kareem’s, just off Carter Road at Bandra, Mumbai, was where we splurged on our Saturday night dinner. Being hardcore non-vegetarians, it was an obvious choice for me and Azaz. Fauri on the other hand, was apprehensive as always, since these eat-outs rarely have sufficient choices for vegetarians.

The menu is a humble single-page book. But don’t let the simplicity of it fool you.

The service is prompt. The crowd is a mixed one that includes college students, professionals, couples, families and friends just looking to spend the evening gorging on food at another eat-out.

But Kareem’s is not just another eat-out. There is only one workd to describe the food : awesome!!!

We ended up ordering Murg ke Reshmi Tikke, Sabz Dum Biriyani, Murg Nizami Roll and a Nawabi Gosht Nalli curry.

The reshmi tikka is technically skewered boneless pieces of chicken (or sausages made out of minced chicken, kheema) marinated in sour curd and a delicate mixture of spices. The kebabs melt in your mouth! The amount of sour curd used was near perfect in making the pieces tender and succulent without being too overpowering.

The usual accompaniment with kebabs, is a green mint chutney, which was, honestly, disappointing. It was minty alright but too bitter and lacked salt.

The roll was a delicious (and super-hot) combination of spicy meaty filling with a crispy flour wrap…not for the faint-hearted though, cosidering the amount of green chilies use.

The Nawabi Gosht Nalli curry was, well a nalli curry. A gorgeous meat-on-bone-with-marrow mutton curry — spicy with a sweet edge to it, which in turn brings out the taste of the marrow. The fun part, as always, was sucking the marrow out! The only down-part, if I can call that, was the fact that the curry was mealy. Heavy enough to make me push the other dishes away.

The Sabz Dum Biriyani was a regular dum biriyani, cooked in a flour-sealed pot in steam. The refreshing touch which set it slightly apart from most dum biriyanis was that a sprinkling of rose water in addition to zaffran (saffron) had been added before sealing the pot. The aroma was pure heaven!

The meal ended with a decadent chocolate firni (a traditional Indian, milk and rice flour pudding). Tasted good though not upto expectations and the quantity, unfortunately, was miserly.

Kareem’s does not burn a hole in your pocket at all but isn’t that cheap either. The kebabs are worth INR 125-180, depending on the “exoticness” of the ordered dish. The rolls at INR 85-100 are not so okay, considering the fact that they’re snack-sized but are not something you want to snack on. the vegetarian menu is limited, but delicious and appropriately priced, with the biriyanis priced at INR 125-150. A meal for two would cost you anything between Rs.400 – Rs.700.

My rating: 8/10….totally worth a weekend visit!

A Missing Birthday and Boozy Mutton

I’ve been the worst blogger. Seriously.

My blog’s birthday has gone by (in February) and I’ve simply done nothing about it!

Last year, I had resolved to make a chocolate cheesecake to celebrate Fat-free Brainwaves’ birthday…but its been up and down so much the last few weeks that I missed it altogether. Bad, bad girl.

For the last three days I’ve been gathering all the snaps e-mailed to me from Port Blair (above) and snaps from my own collection (below) for a little project….The Boyfriend Project, I call it!

Anyway, the positive thing is I have been photographing a few of the nicer stuff that I’ve cooked till now over the last couple of weeks, and a White rum-Rosemary mutton’s on top of the list.

Mutton Stew with White Rum and Rosemary

This is essentially a stew, slightly watery but not much boozy, though it calls for a considerable amount of white rum, the rum evaporates as the stew cooks.

The granulated sugar makes this stew more sweet than salty, but I prefer it that way.

Another special touch to this stew would be if you roast the garlic before sauteing them.

Feel free to experiment!

What You Need:

– 800gms of mutton

– 80mls White Rum (My Captain Morgan was almost empty so I used Bacardi…any good brand will do)

– 2 sprigs of rosemary

– 6 big cloves of garlic, chopped

– 2 tablespoons of olive oil (not necessarily extra-virgin)

– 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns

– Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes (this depends on how hot you like your food)

– 2 spring onions, chopped

– 1 heaped teaspoon of granulated sugar

– Salt to taste

– Freshly chopped curled parsley leaves, to garnish

Instructions:

Heat the oil in a pan and saute the chopped onions, sprigs of rosemary and garlic for about a minute on high heat, till the onions acquire a typical translucent color.

– Reduce the heat. Add the peppercorns and the pieces of mutton and chilli flakes and saute for another minute, coating all the pieces with the rosemary-garlic scented oil.

– Pour in the rum. Add sugar and two cups of water.

– Stir well, cover and cook on minimum heat for about 45 minutes.

– Uncover. Do a quick taste check and add salt accordingly. Cover and cook for another ten-fifteen minutes. At this point you need to be happy with the amount of water remaning in the pan. Some like their stews to be more watery than others. So add some more water if you want the stew to be more fluid. Or not.

– Conduct another quick taste check. Adjust amounts of salt and sugar accordingly. Take the meat off the heat. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with steamed white rice!

Enjoy…and yeah, I’m not forgetting the cheesecake this time!

My Get-Well Food

Its been a long week. The flu did not worsen like I had thought it would, thankfully. The cold is still giving me a hard time though. The good thing that has come out of all this is, I have had about 16 cups of yellow lentil soup soup with two dozen pieces of mini-naan over the span of the last seven days. No, seriously.

I remember, Amanda’s (from Konosur) comment on the stuffed peppers, about an Indian flat bread or naan recipe. I guess I was waiting for a bout of influenza to finally get off my bum to blog about it.

The naan has Central Asian origins, resembles a pita but softer, in India its a North Indian staple.

Naan (makes one large or 4 bite-sized ones):

Half cup plain white flour

– Half a teaspoon baking powder

– 1 teaspoon of sugar (naan is more sweet than savory)

– A pinch of salt

– 1 tablespoon white oil

– 2 tablespoons of milk

– 1 egg, beaten

– Chopped parsley, or chopped coriander, or sesame seeds or nigella seeds

Pre-heat the oven to maximum heat. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Mix the oil, milk and half the beaten egg well and add this to the flour mixture. Pour this into the center of the flour and knead adding water if necessary to form soft dough. Grease a bowl with a few drops of oil and roll the dough around in it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let rest in a cool corner for about half an hour. Roll out the dough in an elliptical shape. Stud the surface with the coriander/parsley/nigella seeds/sesame seeds. Brush the top lightly with the remaining egg. Prepare the baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes or till the naan’s puffed up and golden brown. Serve with a hot lentil soup.