Clove is not just for toothaches…

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My mind always gravitates to dessert and one of the desserts I have long wanted to play around with has been the Lobongo Latika, a dessert I was introduced to by Aniruddha’s parents.

Back in 2000, they had a Bengali vendor who used to prepare sweets at his house and sell them door-to-door to his Bengali patrons. He would arrive with a large aluminium tiffin carrier and would usually bring 3-4 varieties. One of these was the Lobongo Latika, a deep fried sweet made from khoya or mawa (milk solids) placed in the middle of a rolled-out circle of dough, which is then wrapped around the mawa like an envelope, held in place with a clove and deep fried. And wait….it’s then dipped in sugar syrup!

In Indian desserts we use a lot of spices like nutmeg, mace, cardamom and sometimes cinnamon. But cloves were either to be used in savoury preparations or tucked into your mouth at the first sign of a toothache. Till I tasted the Lobongo Latika, I had never had a dessert with a predominant taste of cloves. And what a taste combination that deep fried dough, soft and heavy mawa and cloves produced – absolutely delicious!

Re-creating the Lobongo Latika is not difficult, but it is a calorie overload. So I decided to borrow its flavours and adapt another calorie heavy, but not as lethal, a dessert – the almond frangipane tart. The combination of the tart and the soft almond frangipane filling was reminiscent of the Lobongo Latika, but of course would need a good dose of cloves and some mawa to bring it closer to the taste. To cut the heaviness I decided to pair it with some fresh orange ice-cream. For some reason cloves and oranges work well in my head.

The resulting tart was really delicious – to be fair it is not a Lobongo Latika, as Aniruddha was quick to point out 😀 But the flavours are definitely present. Even managed to serve it to some friends as a trial and it got very good feedback. A couple of more tweaks and it’s on to the BHDC menu soon….

Priya

Lobongo Frangipane Tart

Clove and Almond Filling

  • 85g caster sugar
  • 90g ground almonds
  • 30 g mawa/khoya (In Singapore, frozen mawa is available at Mustafa)
  • 80g butter
  • 2-3 tsps freshly roasted and ground clove powder (roasting and grinding it fresh makes a ton of difference to the flavour)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

Pastry

  • 100g flour
  • 60g butter
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp clove powder
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1-2 tsp ice cold water

Method

  • Put the flour for the pastry, with the butter, sugar, clove powder and orange zest in a bowl and combine gently with your fingers till the mixture looks crumbly. Add the egg yolk and cold water and bring together to form a dough. Form the dough into the shape that best fits the size and shape of your tart tin, as this will make it easier to roll out. (I used a 9 x 3.5 inch tin). Cover with cling wrap and chill for 20-30 mins
  • Remove the pastry dough and on a well floured surface roll it out to the size and shape of your tart tin. I typically put the dough between two floured, baking sheets as this makes it easier to roll and avoid sticking, given the heat in Singapore. Line your tart tin and put it back into the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 mins
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 3. Place the sugar and almonds in a food processor and process for 2 mins until finely ground. Add butter and process till combined. Add egg and process again. Finally add the flour and clove powder and process for under a minute to combine.
  • Remove the tart tin with the lined pastry and pour the almond frangipane filling into it. Place this into the oven – I usually place it in the lower 1/3rd rather than the middle of the oven as mine tends to heat rather quickly on the top. Bake for 25-30 mins and insert a toothpick to check if the frangipane filling is done.
  • Remove from oven and let it cool down before removing the tart from the tin. Cut into slices and serve with orange ice-cream or even just plain vanilla ice-cream, garnished with orange zest

 

 

An old favourite – reimagined….

I had earlier posted about a Kosha Mangsho pie – a dish we had served at one of our supper club evenings that had gone down very well. There were Aussies at that meal of course, and apparently if an Aussie doesn’t like a meat pie, he or she may have their passport revoked! Jokes aside though, some of our other guests were looking for a lower-carb option, and hence we decided to take the chops route, like we do with our Kolhapuri mutton, for a modern, Western style of the plating.

The Kosha Mangsho (roughly translated, mutton with a thick gravy), done well is a thing of beauty, and while we didn’t grow up having this much at home – my grandmother and mother preferring to cook the healthier, paatla jhol (or the more ‘soupy’ mutton curry). This was clearly a treat when we would eat out. It is dark, almost black, and the proof of its richness for me is that when I overdo it – especially in my recent advancing years – is that I need a Gelusil soon after.

I find the key to a good Kosha Mangsho is to rely on the main stars of the dish – the mutton, the browned onions that form the base (called beresta), the basic masalas, and patient, step-by-step cooking. That’s it. No messing around with too many other spices, tomatoes or any other additions. And when it comes out right, it is a lovely, thick brown-black gravy with all the flavours of the mutton, the heat from the spices and the sweetness from the caramelised onions locked in. It normally gets served with a nice dose of luchis (deep fried bread)/ rice / chapattis to deal with the richness, but we decided to combine it with a fresh beetroot raita (mixed with yoghurt) panna cotta to cut the richness, along with a coriander and mint sauce and a beetroot puree. The flavors and the colors seemed to come together nicely for me and from the reactions from our guests.

Aniruddha

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The recipe :

Kosha mangsho chops

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg mutton (kid) chops – typically 2 racks of ribs with 16 ribs in total for 8 double rib portions in all, cleaned and frenched.

For the marinade:

  • 1 large onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 inch ginger
  • 2 green chillies
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp mustard oil

Whole spices for garam masala:

  • 4-5 green cardamoms
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon (1 inch each)
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8-10 peppercorns

Beresta:

  • 6-7 medium sized onions – sliced and caramelised with a little sugar to a deep brown colour (onions should deep brown – almost black, but soft and not burnt)

Other Spices

  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 green chilies – sliced lengthwise
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp of cumin powder
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Mustard oil as per requirement

Procedure:

Marinade:

Make a smooth paste of the onions, turmeric, garlic, ginger and green chillies, salt and a little sugar. Marinate the mutton chops with yoghurt, the spice paste, salt and the 2 teaspoons of mustard oil for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator

The cook:

Heat mustard oil in a pressure cooker or thick cast iron vessel, add the bay leaves and the whole garam masala spies till they sputter and release their aroma. Add the 2 additional sliced green chillies. Add the marinated mutton (just the chops, not the marinade) and seal the chops quickly on a high heat (in batches if it crowds the vessel). Add the fried onions, turmeric, cumin and coriander powder, and mix well. Season some more with salt and sugar and taste.

Add about a cup of water to the bowl with the remaining marinade in the bowl, mix it and pour it over the mutton and onions. In a pressure cooker, make sure they cover the mutton (if required, place them flesh side down in the liquid – or they’ll dry up). Pressure cook for 20 minutes / slow cook in a covered heavy vessel for 3-4 hours, adding little liquid from time to time to make sure it doesn’t dry up.

Get ready for plating:

Leave the chops refrigerated in the curry overnight (like a post-cook brine!) and the flavours develop nicely. On the day of the dinner, heat it gently in the microwave to loosen the gravy, take out the chops and then remove the bay leaves and the larger pieces of garam masala. Whizz the gravy in the blender to create a smooth sauce. I have tried to strain it, but I find I loose too much of that wonderful onion and prefer the thicker sauce.

Heat the chops (gently, else they will fall off the rib bones) and plate it with a spoonful of the sauce.

Beetroot raita panna cotta:

Ingredients:

  • 2 large beetroots / 3 medium beetroots
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 3 gelatin sheets
  • Salt and sugar to taste

Method:

Peel and cook through the beetroots (in the microwave or I prefer to pressure-cook them), whizz in the blender to create a thick pulp. Season with salt and sugar and save some of this in a squeeze tube for plating as a puree (about 2-3 tablespoons)

In a saucepan, add the remaining seasoned beetroot pulp, the yogurt and cumin powder – taste and adjust the seasoning (go easy on the sugar as the beetroot will bring a fair bit of sweetness). Measure out the mix – should be about 500 ml (add a little more yoghurt to bring it up to the measure if required). Start heating up the beetroot-yogurt mix at a low heat. The ratio is 250 ml of liquid to 1.5 gelatin sheets if you want to divide or multiply.

Cut up the 3 gelatin sheets into strips and add to the cold water to soften them. Once they are soft, squeeze them out and add it to the heated beetroot-yogurt mix. Stir till the gelatin dissolves.

Brush the cups of a silicon mould sheet / aluminum cups (use relatively small moulds – about 2-3 tablespoons of liquid) very lightly with vegetable oil. Pour the mix in the moulds, and refrigerate for about 8 hours for the panna cotta to set.

Mint sauce:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup mint leaves (just the leaves – no stalks)
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves (just the leaves – no stalks)
  • 1-2 green chilies
  • ½ inch piece of ginger
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and Sugar to taste

Method:

Combine all the ingredients in the small blender vessel and blend into a smooth sauce. Decant into a squeeze tube for plating later.

Combine all the three ingredients – the chops, the beetroot raita panna cotta and plate  – with the beetroot and mint sauces – dots / splashes, go crazy!

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Mango Shrikhand Tarts

IMG_5336Mango Shrikhand tarts are not new on this blog…in fact this little dessert was one of the first things I wrote about when we started the blog! But what makes this post special is a little upgrade on the moulds that I used to make the tarts.

When we were in Mumbai earlier this year, I chanced upon a little hole in the wall bakery shop at Santacruz market, where a couple of guys were sitting and moulding aluminum sheets and strips into cake and tart rings of all shapes and sizes. Intrigued, I started looking around at the different moulds on display and asked if they had any baking tins shaped like a mango. I had been on the lookout for a mango or paisley shaped tin for a while and where better to look for one than in Mumbai! One of the guys rummaged in a drawer and held up a tiny cookie cutter in a mango shape!! Delighted I asked if they would be able to create a larger size for me and after some drawings to finalize the size and much haggling over the price, I managed to acquire these beautiful mango-shaped tart moulds 🙂

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I knew it would be tricky to fold the pastry into this shape, but after a couple of attempts I managed to successfully produce the tarts. For the filling, the base of the tart has white chocolate ganache flavoured lightly with saffron, cardamom and a pinch of sea salt (yes, you read that right….helps balance the sweetness!). I used to earlier put dark chocolate ganache at the bottom but felt it competed too much with the yoghurt, so this time I replaced it with white chocolate ganache. The shrikhand is made with hung yoghurt mixed with Alphonso mango pulp and flavoured with saffron, cardamom, a pinch of nutmeg and some sugar. And finally decorated with pistachio powder and some pomelo (inspired by the mango pomelo sago dessert from Hong Kong)

The Marathi and Bengali yoghurt-based desserts, like shrikhand and bhapa doi go down well with our guests, especially our non-Indian guests, because no one expects yoghurt-based desserts to taste so good and they’re much lighter to eat as compared to many other Indian desserts! Especially after the full-on meal we serve 😉

At the request of a reader, I am adding the recipe to the post. I’ve tried to be precise with my measurements, but invariably I do play around with the flavours when cooking. So feel free to adapt the sweetness or amount of mango or spices depending on your personal taste. Hope you have fun making these! 🙂

MANGO SHRIKHAND TARTS  

  • Mango Shrikhand
    • 250ml greek yoghurt, chilled
    • 3 Alphonso mangoes, cut and pureed
    • 1 ½ tsp nutmeg powder
    • 1 ½ tsp cardamom powder
    • 8-10 strands of saffron
    • 2 tbsp milk (to soak saffron)
    • 1/3rd cup chopped pistachios (for garnish)
  • Pastry
    • 100g plain flour
    • 60g butter
    • 20g icing sugar
    • 1 egg yolk
    • Pinch salt
    • 2 tsp cold water
    • ½ tsp cardamom powder
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • White chocolate ganache
    • 50 g white chocolate
    • 25g cream
    • pinch of salt, pinch of nutmeg/mace, pinch of cardamom

For the shrikhand:

Place the yoghurt in a muslin cloth. Tie the cloth to create a knot over the yoghurt and place in a colander over a bowl to allow the whey to strain. Warm the milk and put the saffron strands into it to release the colour and flavour. Peel the mangoes. Cut the flesh in large chunks and put it in a blender to make a smooth puree. Untie the muslin and scrape the yoghurt cream into a bowl. Gradually add the mango puree into the yoghurt. Add the cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and milk with saffron. Whisk the mixture till creamy. Adjust mango and spices for taste & add a little sugar if needed. Pour the shrikhand into a piping bag and keep in the fridge (or freezer to chill faster)

For the pastry:

In a bowl, add the flour. Make a well and add the butter, icing sugar, salt and spices. Mix to incorporate the butter till the mixture becomes crumbly. Add the egg and water to form a dough. Turn the dough onto the counter and using a little extra flour, knead 3-4 times to bring the pastry dough together. Place the dough in cling wrap, flatten it and chill it for an hour. After it has chilled, take the dough out and let it stand for 5 mins. Depending on the tart tins you are using, divide the dough into appropriately sized balls and roll out the pasty to a size larger than the pastry tin. Place the pastry into the tin and using your fingers press it gently into the tin all around and on the base. Using the rolling pin, roll over the top of the tin to cut out the extra pastry. Once done, press the pastry on the sides to raise the dough slightly over the surface. This is to account for some shrinkage as the pastry cooks. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and place the lined pastry tins back in the fridge for 20 -30 mins. Pre-heat the oven at 180°C (Gas 3). Remove the pastry tins from the fridge, line them with baking paper/aluminium foil and place baking beans/rice/beans. Blind bake for 10 mins. Then remove the baking paper/foil and bake them for 5 minutes to let the pastry get some colour. Remove from the oven and let the pastry cool down. Once cool, remove it from the tin.

For the ganache

Chop the white chocolate into small pieces. Gently heat the cream in a pan. When it starts to simmer, remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir well to allow the chocolate to melt. Add salt and spices and mix. Once the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth, keep it aside to cool down.

To serve

Once the tarts have cooled down, pour a little ganache to line the base of the tart and keep it in the fridge for 30 mins to chill. Then remove and pipe the shrikhand into each pastry tart. Decorate the top with chopped pistachios.

Priya

 

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Bhaja Moshla and Stout Pulled pork

pulled pork

Apart from pork belly this and pork belly that, the other porcine food item you can’t seem to go five minutes without hearing about, is pulled pork, especially when the said pulling has happened into a sandwich. Add the words ‘cuban’, and ‘food truck’ somewhere in the vicinity and you may have a mob if not a cult on your hands!

So, here is another offering at that altar with an Indian twist. And with the tried and tested kitchen implement Indians have loved forever, but seems to be making a wider comeback – the Pressure Cooker. With a rub of the spice rub ever present in Bengali kitchens (though I’m sure no two recipes are the same) – Bhaja Moshla. I’ve tried variants – with and without fennel for instance – but this stock one I use is toasted and ground cumin and dried red chili. That, and a can of guiness with some stock vegetables for flavour created that beautifully braised pork with that sauce (reduced to a glaze) in the image up top….

pulled pork bun

…..and then, as the name suggests, it was time to pull the pork into the sandwich. In another great meeting of Bombay and Calcutta, Priya had baked a fresh batch of pao, and the two worked beautifully together, with the fluffy pao with all its air pockets soaking up that beery, sweet and spicy sauce. A sprig of fresh coriander and some pickled red onion to cut the richness of the pork, and think we have something for a food truck – if that’s ever on the cards! 🙂

Aniruddha

Chhanar Dalna to Pillowy Gnocchi

Chhana gnocchi perspective

My grandma would have been mortified at any efforts to play around with her tried and tested Chhanar dalna recipe (a paneer dish with a tomato gravy), but then it would have come on the heels of her shock at my fiddling around in the kitchen for the amount of time I do, so it would have been a wash I guess.

But fiddle I did. After reading up on a recipe for a ricotta gnocchi recipe from J Kenji Lopez Alt, I figured, that would be an interesting way to modernise the chhanar dalna. Note – modernise, not upgrade – there is absolutely nothing to be fixed in a great chhanar dalna. But we’ve found adding an element of novelty and an anchor to a familiar dish, while staying true the flavours of the dish, tends to create a positive surprise, especially for the non-Indian diners.

The best adjective I’ve heard to describe a good gnocchi is pillowy, and while I love the more common potato gnocchi, this recipe with ricotta worked pretty well, and got to within shouting distance of what I’d like to think is pillowy. A strained dalna sauce on top (think of an arabiatta with Indian spices for an approximation) and we have another dish for our supper club!

Aniruddha

Chhana gnocchi

 

Salmon and Saffron

salmon with saffron sauce

Salmon is by far my favourite fish and my favourite way to eat Salmon is to cook it Japanese-style with a teriyaki sauce. Pink salmon is not a fish used in Indian cooking, and therefore I have never had it with Indian flavours.

So I decided to try and cook it with an Indian sauce and thought that saffron and coconut milk would compliment the fish well. Turns out they both did, but needed help from a little cumin and green chilli. I served the fish with some stir-fried winged bean salad, a vegetable I’ve eaten in Thai cuisine, and some fried garlic.

Full of flavour and delicious!

Priya

A leap of recipe….

Continuing the effort to take Indian flavours and try and twist them, my latest experiment saw me take a very classic Marathi vegetable dish – vatanyachi usal (spiced green peas) and pair it with the flavours of the classic after dinner mouth freshener cum digestive…paan (Betel leaf rolls filled with rose petal jam, fennel seeds, betel nut and lots of other goodies)

Strange plate fellows these two dishes, you say? I agree. But I felt like eating vatanyachi usal on this particular evening, since my mom was in Singapore. And she had arrived with a bottle of gulkand (rose petal jam) which also I wanted to try as soon as possible.

So, let’s start with the pea pancakes – a simple batter made with pureed green peas, cream, eggs and spiced with cumin, curry leaves, green chillies, turmeric and a little salt – the same spices used to make the original dish, but excluding fresh grated coconut. The batter was a bit thick and mushy and resulted in extremely soft and delicate pancakes! Simply yum.

What did I do with the rose petal jam….I discovered I had a nice piece of bacon in the fridge. Inspiration struck and I decided to take some of the spices used in making paan and created a marinade of rose petal jam, toasted and ground fennel seeds and cloves (used in making paan in South India). The marinade was sweet and fragrant and actually tasted damn good. So in went the bacon, 1-2 hours in the fridge and then into a hot pan, followed by a spell roasting in the oven. Et voila! After cooking and roasting, the rose-flavour was a bit diluted which is probably better since it might have been a bit too sweet.

Learning for next time – continue to make both, but perhaps serve them with other accompaniments 😉

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Cauliflower, besan and paneer – modern style

IMG_2710In an attempt to push myself and see how I could make Indian food look more modern, I took inspiration from a dish presented in the recipe book of 11 Madison Park. A friend of mine, who is a fabulous cook, had attempted something similar and so I too decided to give it a shot.

The recipe inspiration came from a simple cauliflower curry made with curry powder, pithla which is a thick gravy made from gram flour and yoghurt and a dry paneer preparation.

I first heated some oil and fried the cashews and raisins. In the same oil I added curry powder, salt and brown sugar and garlic slices. I cut the cauliflower into thick slices and first seared them on both sides to get a nice brown colour and then put the pan into the oven at a medium temperature and roasted them for about 10-12 minutes.

After removing the cauliflower I used the same oil to pan fry the paneer cubes with a dash of curry powder and curry leaves. Therefore ensuring the flavours carried through every element on the final dish.

Deciding to serve both with a white sauce, I decided to modify a classic roux and replaced the flour with gram flour, added a dash of curry powder again and a nice big green chilli to get some heat. Then added milk and a little yoghurt to make the sauce.

To the remaining cauliflower florets, I added some chopped carrots and boiled them. After straining I added black salt instead of regular salt, to get added flavour.

It then took me a good 10 minutes to plate everything! But I must say it tasted really nice. And with some improvements in the next attempt, this is a delicious way to eat vegetables. And my respect for the cauliflower has gone up after this!

Priya

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