Friday, 30 November 2007

WBB# 15 - Corn Flakes

One of the most popular breakfast cereals is corn flakes. They are made by a combination of coarse meal of hulled corn, sugar, salt and barley malt extract that are cooked slowly until they reach the correct temperature and humidity level. Then, they are rolled and toasted to golden-brown flakes which give the crispy characteristic and appearance to the corn flakes.

Corn Flakes Bread Pudding

How do we do it:

1 cup corn flakes
4 slices bread
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter (or more if required)
1 tbsp custard powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sweet corn extract
1/2 tsp salt

How do we do it:

Trim the edges of the bread. Generously butter each slice and tear up the bread slices. In a buttered baking dish, randomly place the teared bread and sprinkle corn flakes in between. Set aside.

Combine milk, egg, sugar, custard powder, the extracts and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour the mixture onto the bread and corn flakes. Sprinkle the remaining corn flakes on top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180° C for about 20-30 minutes.

Serve warm with a drizzle of honey.

Also check out a healthy breakfast of cornflakes soaked in Banana Chocolate Milk

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Jihvā for Ingredients - Toor Dal

Toor dal or Thuvaram paruppu is the most popular and widely used lentil in India. This highly digestible South Indian staple has a thick gelatinous, meaty consistency. Toor dal looks very much like Chana dal but it is smaller. It has a mild and nutty flavour. With its skin on, it is greenish-brown in colour and without its skin, it is yellow.

Toor dal is usually sold and cooked skinned and split. Sometimes it is sold with an oily coating, which should be rinsed off before cooking. It takes a little longer to cook than masoor dal. Toor dal is often used in sambar, cooked as a side dish or ground into flour.

Lately, I have been craving for mutton briyani. Finally, found my way to cook it, after such a long time. I thought of cooking sambar to accompany the briyani. While preparing the ingredients, suddenly something struck me. Hey, why don't I cook both the briyani and sambar together as one meal???

Mutton and Toor Dal Briyani

What do we need:

2 cups basmati rice
1/2 kg mutton, cubed
1/4 cup toor dal
1 carrot
1 onion
1" ginger
1 bulb garlic
2 green chillies
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch mint leaves
1 bunch coriander leaves
1 cup yoghurt
1 cup milk
2 cups water
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp oil
1 bay leave
1 star anise
4 cloves
a pinch of saffron
2 tbsp cashew nuts, halved
2 tbsp sultanas
2 tbsp fried onion crisps
salt to taste

To grind:
2 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp fennel
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp poppy seed
1 tsp black pepper corns
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
3 cardamoms
3 dried chillies

How do we do it:

Marinade the mutton with half of the yoghurt, turmeric powder and salt. Set aside, preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

Soak the toor dal. Wash and soak the rice. Then, drain the water and set aside.

Soak the saffron strands in the milk. Set aside.

Dry fry the spices to be ground and grind them into powder form.

Thinly slice the onion. Half the chilli lengthwise. Grind the ginger and garlic into paste.

Heat the ghee. Fry the cashew nuts and sultanas. Set aside.

Add oil to the remaining ghee. Fry star anise, bay leaf and cloves. Add ginger and garlic paste. Then, onion and chilli. Sautè until aromatic. Add the chopped tomatoes. When the tomatoes turn pulpy, put in the marinated mutton. Add the ground spices, the remaining yoghurt and lime juice. Cook until the mutton is half cooked. Then, add the soaked toor dal. Cook until the mutton is well cooked. Then, put the rice and milk in. Sprinkle the chopped mint and coriander leaves. Season with salt. Cook until rice is fluffy and does not stick together.

Finally, sprinkle the fried cashew nuts, sultanas and the onion crisps. Serve hot.

This is the end product. It was wonderful. As usual, I cooked the biryani directly in rice cooker. I made sure that the toor dal does not over cook and becomes soggy. It was crunchy and just perfect. I am submitting it to JFI-Toor Dal event.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Think Spice...Think Ginger

Ginger is one of the most widespread culinary spices. It is also among the most important and valued spices. No one is sure how old ginger is but it is believed to be cultivated for more than 3000 years. Ginger seems to originate from Southern China. Today, it is cultivated all over tropic and subtropical Asia.

This noble condiment comes from a perennial creeping herbaceous plant that produces an erect stem of 30 to 100 cm in height. The stem is surrounded by the sheathing bases of the bright green lance-shaped two-ranked leaves of 15 to 20 cm long, with a prominent longitudinal rib, enclosing conical clusters of a small club-like spike of yellow-green purple-lipped flowers. The gnarled, bumpy root of the ginger plant is the source of this wonderful spice. Although often called “ginger root”, it is actually a rhizome. Rhizomes are knobby thick tuberous underground stems that have pungent and flavourful flesh. The large thick scaly ginger rhizome has a characteristic stag horn-like appearance. It branches with thick thumb-like protrusions, thus individual divisions of the rhizome are known as "hands".

Fresh ginger is available in two forms; young and mature. Young ginger, also known as spring ginger, has a pale, thin skin that does not require peeling. It is very tender and has a milder flavour than its mature form. Mature ginger has a tough tan to brown skin that has to be carefully peeled away to preserve the delicate flesh just beneath it. The flesh ranges from pale greenish yellow to ivory in colour. Ginger has a slightly biting and hot note along with peppery and slightly sweet flavour. Its aroma is rich, sweet, warm, pungent, spicy and woody. Whole raw ginger is generally referred to as fresh ginger. It provides the freshest taste. Ginger also comes in dried form. It is sold either ‘black’ with the skin left on, or ‘white’ with the skin peeled off. The dried ginger is available whole or sliced. Powdered ginger is the buff-coloured ground dried ginger. It has fiery and pungent flavour and has warm, sweet and pungent aroma.

When buying fresh ginger, look for mature plump rhizomes with smooth skin that are not wrinkled. Wrinkled skin indicates that the root is dry and past its prime. It should have a fresh and spicy fragrance. Tightly wrapped fresh unpeeled ginger could be refrigerated in the crisper for up to 3 weeks and frozen for up to 6 months. Dried and powdered ginger must be stored in airtight containers.

Ginger is truly a world domestic remedy. It is most commonly known for its effectiveness as a digestive aid. Ginger has been used in Asia for thousands of years for relief from arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, muscle spasms, catarrh, congestion, coughs, sinusitis, sore throats, diarrhea, colic, cramps, indigestion, loss of appetite, motion sickness, fever, flu, chills, and infectious disease. Its therapeutic properties effectively stimulate circulation of the blood, removing toxins from the body, cleansing the bowels and kidneys, and nourishing the skin. Ginger is also used to treat nausea related to both motion sickness and morning sickness. Other uses for ginger include the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems by loosening and expelling phlegm from the lungs.

Ginger is extremely versatile. It could be used in any type of food. Ginger is used as a spice throughout the world. In Asian cooking, ginger is almost always used fresh. In savoury dishes, it pairs beautifully with garlic. Dried ginger should be ‘bruised’ by beating it to open the fibres, and then infused in the cooking.

Ginger is my staple spice without which I can never even imagine of cooking. As my entry for the Think Spice Event, I have made one of my favourite Malaysian desserts. This dessert is apt for the climate as it is now continuously snowing in Bern. Originaly this dessert does not call for ginger but I have incorporated it to enhance the taste. I have used both fresh and dried ginger. Actually, both have noticeably different flavours. Therefore, I have used them together in the same dish for a layered flavour.

Gingery Mung Bean Dessert

What do we need:

1/2 cup mung beans
2 cups water
1 cup milk or coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar (or more if desired)
1/4 cup sago
1/2 inch knob ginger, sliced
1/2 tsp ginger powder
2 screw pine leaves, knotted

How do we do it:

Soak the mung beans for about 2 hours and drain.

Combine mung beans, knotted screw pine leaves, ginger and water. Bring to a boil for 20 minutes. Gradually stir in the sago and cook until it is transparent.

Add sugar, salt, ginger powder and milk. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or until the beans are soft and the liquid has reduced to half. Remove from heat.

Serve Gingery Mung Bean Dessert warm. The ginger gives a delicate warm flavour to it.

Also check out an amazingly aromatic Ginger Rice.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Happy Deepavali

Wishing Hindus Throughout The World A Very Happy & Prosperous Deepavali
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