As someone who loves a good meal, cooking one, came to me as a natural passion. I belong to a family where meal times consisted of not just food, but also noisy conversation centered around the events of the day and discussing the menu for the next. (ah yes, we are a greedy lot! )

For the most part of my life so far, my contribution in the kitchen was assisting mom and my duties were limited, to chopping veggies and laying the table. Then along came the great Indian wedding, and I was suddenly the queen of my very own kingdom. My curiosity about this magical world, coupled with an enthusiastic sous-chef (my husband, Vineet), led me to take on the challenge of preparing meals on a daily basis, and not succumbing to the convenience of hiring a cook.

This blog is a product of my experiments with food (not all are life threatening :D) for my fellow culinary enthusiasts - especially the newly weds and hungry bachelors and is dedicated to the women who've inspired me in the kitchen;
Aji (s),Ma and Nigella Lawson.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chinese Chicken-Noodle Soup (with its Vegetarian variant)

We spent last weekend in picture-perfect Thailand... eating, drinking, diving, eating, swimming, getting massages, eating, lazing on white sandy beaches, eating... you get the general picture ;)
But we are back to our city lives now... and after a couple of days of being depressed about our vacation coming to an end, we're shamelessly scouting locations for our next holiday :)
While we're at that, we really wanted to go easy on our stomachs and eat light after all the delicious food we stuffed our faces with, so I like a good little girl, I turned to Soup!

Not only are soups filling and delicious, they're easy to make and extremely good for you... And all one needs to do, is patiently allow a bunch of ingredients to bubble away in a basic broth, while you can take a shower, change and generally feel more human at the end of a busy work day.
Inspired from recipes I've been reading on South-east Asian cooking, all you need for this dinner-in-a-bowl is, a bunch of ingredients, a hungry tummy and....  a BIG bowl! :)

- 250g boneless Chicken
(or 1 chopped carrot + 1 cup chopped french beans)
- 3 tbsp Soya Sauce
- 3 tsp rice wine Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Sesame oil
- 2 Garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 tsp Sesame seeds,
- 2 tsp Ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 2 cups Cabbage, chopped
- 6-7 Spring Onions, finely sliced
- 2 cups Chicken or Vegetable broth
- 1/2 packet Chinese pan-fry noodles (or whole wheat spaghetti if you cant find noodles)
- 1/4 cup Coriander, chopped

1.)  Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Add the Soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil, and allow the chicken to marinate in this for about 15-20 mins.

2.) Toast the sesame seeds on a hot pan and grind a little to form a coarse powder. Whisk together the garlic, crushed sesame seeds, ginger, sugar and some vinegar in a bowl. Set aside.

3.) Bring a pot of water to boil on high heat. Add a tablespoon of salt and Cook noodles till tender. Drain.

4.)  Heat the remaining Sesame oil in a large pan. Add the chopped spring onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped Cabbage, and saute till the cabbage is tender. (If making this vegetarian, add the chopped carrots and beans at this point, and saute till tender)

5.)  Add the chicken (or vegetable) broth and bring to a full boil. Add the marinated chicken along with the marinade, and the garlic-sesame mixture. Reduce heat and simmer till the chicken is cooked.

6.) Add the noodles and stir in half of the chopped Coriander. Switch off heat.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with remaining coriander. Add some sweet-chili sauce if you like ( I love it!) and Eat up! :)

*A quick note about the chicken/ vegetable broth... It's basically 2 stock cubes dissolved in 2 cups of hot water, or a can of ready to use broth.*

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bread pudding with salted- sugared Pecans

I'm pretty certain that most most of you who are reading this, have often had, a few slices of bread ( or sometimes even half a loaf) going stale in your refrigerator. Na na... nothing to feel embarrassed about, i do too... I usually air-dry stale bread over a few days and make bread-crumbs, my go-to ingredient for instantly adding 'body' to soups and gravies.

But... I was in the mood for something sweet yesterday, and I figured that eggs, milk and bread (pretty standard breakfast ingredients) would make a quick unassuming, comforting, no-fuss bread pudding...
For this recipe I used honey as a sweetener since I'm consciously trying to avoid refined sugar in my recent baking endeavours...Also, I created a salty-sweet nutty crust, with pecans, salt and a pinch of brown sugar... tasted absolutely yum!

- 7-8 slices stale Bread 
- 1/2 cup Raisins
- 1/4 cup Brandy / dark Rum
- 1 cup Milk
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup Honey
- 1-1/4 cups Pecans
- 1 tsp cold Butter
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp brown Sugar

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Soak the raisins in the brandy or the rum. Cut the bread slices into 1/2" cubes.Tumble them into a non-stick baking dish.

2.) Whisk the eggs till they're light and frothy. Add the milk, vanilla, honey and a few tablespoons of the brandy from the raisins. Whisk all the liquid ingredients together.

3.) Add the raisins to the bread cubes. Toss with your fingers to mix gently. Pour the egg-milk mix over the bread cubes. Let the bread soak in the mix for about 10 minutes.

4.) Meanwhile, roughly chop the Pecans and transfer to a bowl. Add the cold butter and with your fingers rub the butter onto the pecans. Add the salt and brown sugar to the pecans and using your fingers coat the pecans nicely.

5.) Spread the salted-sugared Pecans over the soaking bread mixture. Bake @ 180 deg C for about 35-40 minutes.

Serve hot/ cold with fresh berries / cream or topping of your choice. I like this better made with brown bread instead of white. Also, if you have trouble finding Pecans, Walnuts will work just as well... Go on... make this NOW! :)