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Category: Recipes (page 1 of 2)

Hong Kong food adventures- Dan Tai Fung, Causeway Bay

Who can resist good food, well I certainly can’t. And Hong Kong is a foodie paradise, be it street food, Michelin star restaurants or five star hotels. Food is everywhere and it tempts and entices and you don’t mind spending your last dollar for the enticing array of food available.  I have been eating my way through Hong Kong and  have not been disappointed in any single place, be it a hole in the wall or a fancy Michelin starred restaurant. As I navigate this city I will be sharing with you all a few of my favourite places, in no order and if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, do let me know how the experience was for you. So here goes the first of my Hong Kong food adventures.

My first day in Hong Kong and I happened to be near Dan Tai Fung a Taiwanese restaurant (the Yee Wo Branch) specialising in xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings). The restaurant chain is legendary and in 1993 was voted one of the top ten restaurants in the world by the New York times. In 2009, its first Hong Kong Branch at Tsim Sha Tsui was awarded one Michelin star and in 2010 the Yee Wo branch was also accorded the same honour.

So even though we were not very hungry, it was too good an opportunity to pass up, and we decided to check out the place. Although the Easter holidays were going on and the place was packed with weekend crowd; their electronic queuing system and viewing the menu and filling the order form before you are shown to your table helps in making the process smoother.  As a result of which the service was  fast and efficient; the waiting period was hardly a pinch.

Since we were not hungry we ordered three dishes, the prawn xiaolongbao, the sautéed water spinach with garlic and the vermicelli soup with fried bean curd and pork rolls.

Vermicelli soup with fried beancurd and pork rolls

Vermicelli soup with fried beancurd and pork rolls

Sauteed water spinach with garlic

Sauteed water spinach with garlic

Pork Xiaolongbao

Pork Xiaolongbao

I found the food to be very good with generous portion size and without pinching the pocket too much. A meal for two will cost you HKD 100$-200$ without drinks.A definite visit if you are in the neighbourhood.

 

Moist Banana Muffins-for Diwali

Diwali is almost here, literally knocking on the doors and I cannot contain my excitement. Since childhood this has been my favorite festival, and I look forward to it every year. The lights, sweets, everyone in their brightest attire, I love it all. So what am I serving my guests this Diwali, apart from the candied walnuts we made last time? Some warm muffins, yes moist banana muffins. Time for some new ideas, and muffins it is.

The good part, they have fruit in it, I make it with brown rice flour, (you can use whole wheat or all purpose too) and raw sugar, so it’s definitely healthier than the store bought options, and the kids just love it. It’s a great breakfast and snacking option. And believe me your guests will bless you for serving something different this festive season.

Let’s dive into the recipe.

 Moist Banana Muffins

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups brown rice flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

4 ripe bananas, mashed

¾ cup raw sugar

⅓ Cup olive oil

1 egg

½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven at 170 degrees C, and line your muffin tray with muffin cups or grease with butter.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then mix together the wet ingredients, banana, oil, egg and the sugar. Fold the banana mixture with the dry flour mixture gently, till all is incorporated well. Add the chocolate chips.  Put the mixture in the muffin tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. You can check by inserting a toothpick in the middle, it should come clean, that means your muffins are done.

Moist Banana Muffins

Moist Banana Muffins

Fresh Basil Pesto

You all will remember from my earlier posts my fledgling attempts at organic kitchen gardening, and finally I have something ready that I can use for all my cooking experiments and I am over the moon. I always dreamt of having garden fresh herbs at my disposable, and I am proud to say that I now can use fresh basil and parsley from my garden. And fresh basil calls for home made basil pesto, better than any store bought jar of pesto. And once you have made it fresh, believe me; you will never buy a bottle of pesto from the supermarket.

Fresh Basil from the garden

Fresh Basil from the garden

For the past few weeks, I have also been kind of obsessed with my garden, if you can call all the balcony and window sill planters that ; well for future reference that’s what I would like to call them. And I am sure all my plants would be gravely insulted on hearing anything otherwise. Well on last count apart from the herbs, I am trying to grow, spinach, lettuce, tomato, eggplant, radish and carrots. I love to see the green shoots coming out when I wake up in the morning, and see them growing taller day by day.

Now over to the pesto, as basil is a very strong aromatic herb, what I have done is substituted half with baby spinach leaves, it will make the flavour less strong and also helps you retain the vibrant green colour, which is lost after a day when stored in the fridge if using only basil.

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can substitute half the basil leaves with baby spinach)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts (can substitute chopped walnuts)

3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Pulse the basil leaves and pine nuts in a food processor several times, add the garlic and the cheese and pulse several times.

Fresh Basil Pesto

Add the olive oil slowly and not all in one go, so that it emulsifies properly; season with salt and pepper. Thats it, fresh pesto is ready. Time for some pasta dinner maybe, also goes well with potatoes, or just like that with some crackers.

 

 

Bhetki Paturi-Fish in mustard sauce wrapped in banana leaf

For Bengali’s the world over fish and rice is the staple, and no feast is complete without a fish delicacy. So imagine to my parents horror, as a kid I used to hate fish, and lunch time was a challenge whenever fish was made. The variety of fish available to choose and eat in Kolkata would gladden the heart of any fish loving Bengali, but I would curse the abundance of produce.

It’s only now grown up and faraway from Kolkata, that I have learnt to appreciate the cuisine and especially fish and the myriad ways my mother would make fish curry. Just a change in addition of vegetables or spices and voila a new fish curry recipe with the same fish. I doubt any other culture has so many ways of making the same fish as we Bengalis do; and I miss all of it in Mumbai. Although Mumbai has a huge Diaspora of Bengalis, the lack of good fish is a problem I have faced. I miss the big 7-8 kg rohu or bhetki (Indian Basa) that is usually available in Kolkata and I find that they are far tastier than the small 1-2 kg fish that we get in Mumbai. So recently found this online vendor of fish who delivers fresh bhetki fillet right at home, so no more trips to the fish market.

I usually make fish fry or fish cutlets with the Bhetki fillets, this time wanted to try something else, so thought of making Bhetki Paturi, which is basically fish wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. One of the most well known and loved Bengali dishes, it’s an evergreen and everyone’s favourite dish. I tried making it for the first time, and was wondering why I haven’t tried it before, so simple to make and so mouth watering that it will convert any non fish loving person.

Traditionally, it is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed; I have used banana leaves and instead made them in the oven. If you don’t have access to banana leaves, aluminium foil will do just fine; I ran out of banana leaf and used foil. But it does look far more delectable wrapped in a banana leaf, as good food is as much visual as much it titillates your palate.

Bhetki Paturi

Ingredients

3 tbsps mustard seeds

1 tsp poppy seeds

7-8 green chillies

2-3 garlic cloves

Mustard oil

Turmeric

Grated fresh coconut

500 Gms bhetki fillet

salt to taste

Method

Start by cutting the fish into pieces, roughly 2.5”× 2.5”; coat the pieces with salt and turmeric and set aside. Then we need to make the mustard paste. Soak the poppy and mustard seeds in little water for about 30 minutes. Drain and make a paste in the blender along with about 4 green chillies and 2-3 garlic cloves, add about two teaspoons of water to the paste.

Once the paste is ready we add a pinch of turmeric, salt to taste and a tablespoon of mustard to it, your mustard mixture for fish is now ready.

Next we cut the banana leaves as per our fish to wrap them, it will be a good idea to warm them on low flame on the gas or put them in the oven for some time and wilt them so that they are easier to wrap, as they become softer.

Now to marinade the fish we take the leaf, smear the mustard paste on both sides generously, add grated coconut and sliced green chillies and wrap them, it will be a good idea to tie them up with a piece of string. Let the fish rest wrapped in banana leaves for about 30 to 45 minutes; you can pop them in the fridge.

Bhetki Paturi

Bhetki Paturi

Pre heat oven at 175C and then bake the fish for about 15 to 20 minutes. Unwrap the banana leaves for steaming delicious fish, always serve hot; best eaten with steamed rice.

 

Beer braised chicken- drink it and eat it

I am just not into beer, could never understand the fascination for it, give me any kind draught, ale or dark, it all tastes meh to me. Give me a glass of wine any day, that’s my poison. We all are also familiar with cooking with wine, but what about beer, how does one make the best of this beverage in recipes. While you might enjoy your beer with chicken drumsticks, what if those drumsticks are cooked in beer? Sounds interesting, well then you have landed on the right page, as today we are cooking beer braised chicken. This is when, I love my beer.

Firstly and fore mostly before you pop out any bottle of beer, please remember you cannot just cook with any bottle of beer, for this particular recipe you will have to use dark beer, as they are relatively  sweeter and malty, any lighter beer would probably be too bitter. I have cooked this dish twice and each time I have used a different beer, the first time I used an Irish stout (can’t recall the brand now) and the second time I made it with a dark Belgian beer of Chimay brand.

This is one of the simplest chicken recipes you will come across; the only thing it takes is a lot of time. So I recommend making it on the weekend, pop a bottle of beer open, half goes in the dish and rest you can enjoy while the chicken gets braised on the burner, a complete win-win in my book. So let’s cook.

Ingredients

1 tbsp butter

1 kg chicken drumsticks

6 medium sized onions sliced

1 tbsp raw sugar

Bay leaf

2 tsps dried thyme

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1& ½ cup dark beer

1 cup chicken stock

Salt & pepper as per taste

Method

In a big pan melt the butter, add salt to the chicken and brown both sides in the pan. Once the chicken is done, remove and add the onions to the pan. Add the sugar to the onions and brown them well; this can take you a good 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the bay leaves, thyme, mustard and the beer to the pan; add the chicken and the chicken stock back to the pan. Cook till you bring the pot to a simmer, cover and cook covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook it for another 45 minutes to 1 hour till most of the liquid has almost evaporated and the meat is falling off the bones. Season with salt and pepper as per taste; the dish can be served with rice or potatoes.

Beer braised chicken

Beer braised chicken

P.S. don’t get dissuaded by the length of the time to prepare this dish, it’s actually a very simple dish, and you can just put it on the gas and do your chores at home. The end result is totally worth it. When you can’t drink it, eat it. Cheers!

 

 

My Creme Fraiche obsession and a new pasta recipe

I hit a plateau, and I was depressed. This plateau and the depressing Mumbai heat were making it difficult to be passionate about cooking. The heat has become unbearable and the kitchen a sauna, so eating and cooking things which are easy and fast to cook. If I can just pop it into the oven, no standing near the gas burner, I am the happiest. Over that the sudden plateau of no new ingredients to excite me. And then I read about crème fraiche………….and the excitement was back; something new to try out and experiment with.

It’s basically a soured cream made using buttermilk and is a favourite in France; and no kitchen can do without this essential ingredient. It’s naturally soured, thick and the best part of it is that it doesn’t split when heated. So it’s easier to cook with then fresh cream. Once you discover crème fraiche believe me you will not go back to regular cream. In India it’s quite expensive to buy so I suggest you make it at home, and it’s very easy to make. I have used crème fraiche to make pasta, but I am going to try and use it in an Indian recipe also soon. Before we go to how I made the pasta here’s how to start with the crème fraiche.

All you need is fresh cream and buttermilk, yes that’s all you need, didn’t I tell you it’s easy. The proportion that I followed was 1 tablespoon buttermilk to one cup of cream. Mix and pour it in a mason jar, in place of the lid cover with a thin piece of cloth and let it rest on the kitchen counter for 24 hours, your home made crème fraiche is ready for consumption. Refrigerate and it will last up to two weeks in the fridge.

And now onto to the delicious pasta I made with the delicious crème fraiche.

Sausage & Mushroom pasta with crème fraiche

Ingredients

250 Gms of pork sausages

4 bacon rashers diced

250 Gms mushrooms chopped

250 Gms penne pasta

50 Gms parmesan cheese grated and some shavings for serving

2 egg yolks

2-3 tbsp crème fraiche

Parsley chopped finely

Method

Remove the skin of the sausages and get the meat out. Dry fry the sausage in a pan until brown, take it off and break it into chunks.

In the same pan fry the bacon and add the mushrooms, you don’t need to add oil as the bacon releases enough fat, let them cook for about 7-8 minutes, then return the sausage meat to the pan.

Sauteing the sausage, bacon and mushrooms

Meanwhile cook the pasta as per package instructions. Start working on the sauce by adding the two egg yolks, the cheese, parsley and the crème fraiche. When the pasta is cooked retain a bit of the cooking water. In low heat add the pasta, and the sauce to the meat mixture. Stir well, season with salt and pepper. You can add water if the sauce is too thick. Garnish with more parsley and parmesan. Serve immediately.

P.S Since discovering crème fraiche I can vouch for the fact that pasta tastes mush better than any other béchamel or milk based sauces that  I may have used in the past.

 

Sausage Rolls|British in my kitchen

I love London, and can travel to the city every year and never get tired of the place. I love the food, the weather, the people just about everything about the city, and of course the London tube, omnipresent and so convenient. Having just been to the city recently in February, the memories are still fresh. This time while I was exploring London on my own, (the husband was working) I discovered the sausage roll. When I say discovered I mean, of course they were always there, but, it kind of became my go to food in London, whenever I wanted a small bite. I fell in love with them and ate them everywhere, bought them from supermarkets, ate them in cafes, bakeries and even in the airport the last day while leaving London.

Sausage roll is essentially a British savoury pastry snack; basic composition is bits of meat in sheets of puff pastry. While eaten in other European countries, it’s as much a part of the British food scene as much as Jamie Oliver!! Now considered a part of Boxing Day celebrations they are my favourite British snack. And I plan to recreate this in my kitchen, my ode to all things British.

I had a lot of fun making them in the kitchen, and eating them was even more fun. Since I was making them for the first time, I did not attempt making puff pastry from scratch and got store bought puff pastry. I hope you have as much fun in the kitchen making these, as I had.

Here what you need to do.

Ingredients

One egg yolk

500 gm chicken mince (you can use any kind of meat you want)

One onion chopped

One egg

Mustard powder-1 tsp

Fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp garlic mince

Salt and pepper

Onion seeds

Puff pastry

Method

Beat the egg well and add the chicken mince, the onion, garlic, parsley and mustard. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add the salt and pepper; you can fry a little bit of the mixture and taste it to check the seasoning.

Unwrap the pastry dough and roll them into balls and then using a rolling pin flatten them out in the desired shape. Cut them into small squares, put a little bit of the mixture in the centre, fold pastry and then press seam to seal the edges.

Cover your baking tray with parchment paper and place them on the tray. Beat the egg yolk and use it a as an egg wash, brush all the rolls with the same. Mine looked something like this, pardon the shapes, geometry was never my forte.

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls-before popping in the oven

Now traditionally the rolls are then topped with fennel seeds or sesame seeds, I have instead used onion seeds. I prefer them as they add another dimension to the dish and you will just love the smell of onion seeds toasting in your kitchen, and they taste much better too.

Bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes at about 200 degree Celsius.  I will just go and dig into my sausage rolls.

 

 

 

 

Goan Sausage Fry

Goa … evokes beaches, sun, sand and food……..gorgeous, tasty food. First time I went to Goa, I tasted the local food and I was hooked. It was unlike anything I had eaten before, and the inspite of the countless times I have travelled to Goa, I  never tire of sampling the local cuisine. I had earlier shared with all of you in the blog the recipe for Goan Sausage pulao. Today I will share another quickie recipe that you can make with Goan sausages; Goan Sausage Fry served with pav.

People in Mumbai are familiar with the ever ubiquitous “Pav” bread. Mostly found in the western part of India like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, very few people know that the origin of the Pav is Portuguese. And it is from Goa that Pav travelled to Mumbai and became a staple of the city’s food scene. When the Portuguese landed in India, they needed bread for their Holy Communion and since yeast wasn’t easily available a few drops of toddy was used to ferment the dough. We might as well thank the portuguese for this dish!!

The dish is easy to make, and a few ingredients is all you need. Goa sausages are very spicy, and the potatoes in the dish are the perfect counterfoil to it to absorb the oil and spice and balance the dish.

Ingredients

Goan Sausages 250 gms (I use the Zorabian Goan Chicken sausages)

Two medium sized potatoes

Two onions sliced

One red capsicum sliced lengthwise finely

2 green chillies split lengthwise

One tablespoon vinegar

Salt and black pepper for taste

Garlic two to three cloves finely chopped

Olive oil

Method

First remove the sausage casings and take out the meat from inside and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the garlic and green chillies fry till fragrant.

Add the onions and fry till they start losing their colour, then add the set aside sausage. Fry for some time, the oil which is released from the sausage is where the flavour is and it will ensure that the dish with minimum ingredients will still taste divine; hence it is advisable to start with maybe one tsp of oil in the beginning. Meanwhile dice the potatoes in cubes and add to the mixture. Fry the potatoes for some time, then add some water so the potatoes get cooked well. Add the salt and pepper and the vinegar.

Cover the pan and when the potatoes are half done add the capsicum. Let the water evaporate mostly, so that you are left with a semi dry mixture. Serve with pav bread.

Goan Suasage Fry

Goan Suasage Fry

 

 

 

Baked John Dory

Imagine you had dinner plans and all of a sudden they get cancelled, you had dreamed of having some good food and all of a sudden you have to fend for yourself. What to do then? What if I tell you that you can get a restaurant quality meal in 30 minutes and that includes time for prep, the actual cooking will take even lesser time. So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

So now you know my predicament that I faced the other day, I was really craving good food and did not want to slave in the kitchen for too long. So a quick scan of the fridge revealed that I had fish in the fridge. Unlike other meats fish is the quickest to thaw and also the fastest to cook, so I knew exactly what I was having for dinner.

First course of action quickly get the fish out of the fridge, and put it in some water to let it thaw quickly; I had a filet of John Dory in my freezer( you can use basa or bhetki fillet for the same). While the fish is thawing; I quickly scanned the fridge to see what vegetables I had in the fridge, I found some carrots, broccoli and zucchini. Now my secret to quick cooking, is that whenever I have time I keep some vegetables chopped in the fridge, this saves me a lot of time, so I was grateful that I didn’t have to start chopping now. All I did was just take out some garlic cloves and finely chopped them; and I was good to go for the fibre part of the meal.

Once the fish is thawed, smear both sides with salt and let the fillet be like that for some time, so that the salt is infused properly. Meanwhile get a pot of salted water on the gas burner ready, once the water is boiling put the carrot in it, after a while the broccoli and the zucchini last, all this not for more than three minutes. You will see the vegetables colour enhance, take it out before the zucchini loses its crispness. Once the vegetables are out take a frying pan put the chopped garlic with some butter and stir till the garlic is fragrant, add the veggies and stir till the vegetables are coated well in the butter. Your side for the fish is ready.

DSC01272

Now to bake the fish, you need lemon, I had a Gondhoraj in the fridge so I chopped it into small wedges. If you don’t have a Gondhoraj, you can use regular lemons, for a full size fillet probably use two lemons, and cut them into wedges. Take a baking tray and coat both sides of the fish with black pepper, pour olive oil over the fish generously, and tuck the lime wedges under the fish. The lemon will get baked and slowly release the juices infusing the fish. Add some bay leaf. Bake the fish for ten minutes in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius, or till the fish is flaky. Your restaurant quality dinner is ready!  The greatest food is all about a few ingredients done well. Easy wasn’t it, Bon appetite!

Recipe-Baked John Dory (serves two)

Ingredients

One full size John Dory Fillet

One Lime or two lemons

Bay Leaf

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

Method

  1. Salt fish on both sides generously and leave for some time.
  2. Taking a baking tray and put the fish on it after seasoning with black pepper, pour lots of olive oil
  3. Tuck lime wedges all around the fish and out some bay leaves on top.
  4. Bake for ten minutes at 220 Celsius or till the fish is flaky. Serve hot

 

Comforting Mac & Cheese

My food stories cannot be complete without talking about comfort food. One of my all time favourite is Mac & cheese. This is one dish I have been making since I was a child. I remember whenever my parents had to go out for parties and on asking what I would like to eat I would volunteer to make my own dinner, and this is what I would make. As I would sit on the dining table grating cheese, my two helpers, Danny & Ceaser(our pet dogs) would dance around me begging for cheese; I could make them do anything just for a piece of cheese. It was just not cooking dinner; it was a great adventure for all three of us. As today as I share this recipe it’s just not to relive those childhood memories but also to remember my partner in crimes Danny & Ceaser; whom I miss so much till date.

The beauty of this dish is that at the risk of repeating myself; a child can make. I don’t know from where I learned to make it, must have read it somewhere, but I make it without starting a roux. And over the years I have added and tried so many variants of it that I can’t remember. It’s truly a versatile dish, and can be the building block for your favourite dinner.

This is a version that I do when I want to add some veggies and some spice.

Ingredients (serves 3 people)

Macaroni (200 gms)

One onion

Jalapeno

One red bell pepper

Green chillies

Mustard powder(1 teaspoon)

Frozen sweet corn

Garlic (2-3 big cloves)

Cheese (any hard cheese will do)-100 gms

Salt & pepper

Cream-2-3 tbsps

250 ml milk

One egg

Olive oil

Butter

Method:

Start by boiling the pasta in water as per package instructions. Ideally cook to al dente as it will be baked further, so you don’t want it overcooked at all. Meanwhile chop the vegetables, the onion, garlic, jalapeno, green chillies and the red pepper all need to chopped finely. I have used pickled jalapenos in the recipe.

Next grate the cheese and leave a little aside for later. (You can add or modify cheese as per your taste) Mix together the milk, butter, egg, mustard powder and the cheese. You would wonder mustard and pasta, why? But this mustard makes all the difference, a heaped teaspoon is highly recommended. Grab a frying pan and heat some olive oil, add the garlic and the chopped vegetables, cook them slightly but you don’t want them mushy, the crunch should remain. Add the frozen corn, and last mix in the cream and take off the burner.

Now mix in everything; the pasta, the milk and egg mixture and the cooked vegetables; season with salt and pepper. Pour everything in an oven proof dish, sprinkle the set aside cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the oven at 175 degree Celsius.

This dish on its own is enough for many a memorable dinners.

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese

 

 

 

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