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.

Monday, October 24, 2011

KP's Asian style Baked Salmon with Mushroom fried Rice

This post marks the official inauguration of the new VIP recipe section that I'm introducing to my blog!
Krithika, or KP as she is known to friends, is like me, a major food and cooking enthusiast.
It was about 7 years ago... in a dingy hostel corridor that we got to know each other, and bonded over our mutual love for watermelon, mango and fish... As days, weeks, months went by we explored and discovered some gems of street food in Pune... I'm sure "our" anda-bhurji man still misses his most loyal fans.... (sigh!) Good times!

So, recently KP made a baked Salmon preparation, that involved marinating the salmon in some Ginger, Soya sauce & Vinegar and baking it. Served alongside a flavorful fried rice made with Mushrooms and Red Capsicum, this light and preparation is easy to put together and perfect for those of you who appreciate delicate Asian flavours.

Ingredients for Marinade:

- 2 tsp finely grated Ginger
- 5-6 tbsp Soya sauce
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 3-4 tbsp Rice wine Vinegar
- 3-4 tsp Sesame oil
- 2 boneless Salmon fillets, 150 g each
- 2 tsp Sesame seeds, lightly toasted on a pan

Whisk all the ingredients of the marinade together. Pour onto the Salmon fillets. Rub the marinade all over the fish using your fingers. Set aside to marinate for the atleast 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 180 deg C. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Pat the marinade onto the fish and gently lay onto the baking tray. Reserve the marinade to use in the rice.
Bake the Salmon for about 12-15 minutes till cooked and slightly browned. Sprinkle the fish with the toasted Sesame seeds. Serve immediately!

Ingredients for Fried rice:
- 2 cups pre-cooked long- grain Rice, refrigerated ( I used good ol' Basmati)
- 1 cup finely chopped Mushrooms
- 1 cup finely chopped Red Capsicum
- 1 medium bunch Spring onions, finely chopped
- 2 tsp Vegetable oil
- 1 egg

Method to make the Fried rice:
Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan.
Saute the chopped spring onions and capsicum. Add the mushrooms and saute.
Add the reserved marinade from the Salmon. Crack the egg into the pan and swirl it around quickly. Using a wooden spoon, scramble the egg before it sets. Add the cooked refrigerated rice and toss.
Taste to check for salt and splash a few drops of Soya sauce if necessary.

Garnish with a sprig of Coriander. Serve immediately with the baked Salmon.
Eat up!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Home-made Whole-Wheat, Thin crust Veggie Pizza with Roast-Garlic & Onion Sauce

Vineet and I were in a mood to celebrate my blogs first birthday. Pimm's & Lemonade was on the menu, but we were wondering what one-dish meal it could be paired with, that would allow us to enjoy some much needed downtime at the end of a long week.

It's been a while since I had done any Bread-related baking, and I have been itching to make thin-crust Pizza at home, since there are few places (all very expensive) that make this just like I like it.... crisp crust, smokey flavours and not drowning in a pool of melted cheese... So the decision was made...

Home made Pizza sure might sound like a lot of work... But if I told you, that my active time in the Kitchen was about 40 mins TOTAL - which included making the pizza base and sauce - you will probably find that hard to believe.

Before I get on with the actual recipe... the total time for this pizza is about 2-1/2 hours... of which 1 hour 20 mins is spent watching TV or playing Poker... I promise :) Here's how;

Ingredients | Pizza Base:
- 1/2 cup Whole Wheat flour (atta)
- 1/3 cup All-purpose flour (maida)
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp Warm water (not hot!)
- 1/4 tsp white Sugar
- 1 tsp Active Dried Yeast
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
Ingredients | Pizza Sauce:
- 5-6 large large cloves, Garlic (with peel)
- 2 medium Onions, cut in half and thickly sliced
- 2 tsp extra-virgin Olive oil
- 1/2 cup Sundried Tomatoes in oil
- Salt, if needed, as per taste

Ingredients | Pizza Toppings:
- 1 medium Red Capsicum, sliced
- 1 medium Yellow Capsicum, sliced
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata Olives, sliced into rounds
- 10-12 Basil leaves, chopped
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup Feta Cheese, crumbled


1.) Measure out the Flours in a clean dry Glass bowl/ non-metallic bowl. Stir in the Salt and set aside...(Yeast reacts badly with metal, no metal spoons for measuring either!)

2.) Dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Add the yeast into the water and set aside for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 mins, the yeast will have expanded and look frothy... at this point. Add the olive oil into the yeasted water. *PREHEAT OVEN TO 180 deg C at this point*. ( BTW.. If the water is too hot it will 'kill' the yeast.. so make sure its temperature is something you can easily dip a finger into)

3.) Make a well in the flour, and slowly pour the yeast-water-oil mixture into it. Start mixing gently using your hands. The dough begins to pull-away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a lightly floured, non-metallic surface and knead for about 8-10 mins till a soft pliable dough forms.

4.) Place the kneaded dough back in the bowl and cover with a clean cotton cloth. Set aside in a warm place for the next 45 mins. Get on with the prep for the Sauce.

5.) Chop off the ends of the garlic, leave on the peels. Arrange the garlic cloves and sliced onions on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil. Put baking sheet in the pre-heated Oven, and bake for 45 minutes, till nicely charred --- as shown in the photo :)

Now go watch TV for the next 45 mins :)

6.) Uncover the rested dough. By this time, it will appear to have doubled in size as it is filled with air. Do not deflate it, but gently divide the dough into 2 parts. Cover and rest again for about 30 mins.

7.) While "dough-rising" Stage-2 is on - Peel the roasted garlic and place in a mixer/food processor along with the roasted onions. Add the sun-dried tomatoes along with their oil and pulse in short bursts till a thick paste is formed. Set aside.
Take a break for the next 25 minutes, till the dough finishes its 30 mins.
(See! I told you this needs very little active kitchen time!)

8.) Once again, Pre-heat the Oven to 180 deg C. While the oven heats, gently pick up one of the 2 dough balls, and roll lightly in your hands.  Place on a floured surface and Roll out into a 1/4" thick circle. (This dough is sticky, so keep dusting it with flour as you roll it out)
Place on a baking tray and bake in pre-heated oven for about 7 mins.

While the base is baking, slice up the veggies for your toppings. Baking the base prior to toppings ensures that it cooks evenly and prevents it from becoming soggy with the toppings. 

9.) Cool the pre-baked pizza base slightly. Spread half of the pizza sauce (this is a thick paste-like sauce) on the base. Arrange half the quantity of the sliced red and Yellow capsicums, radially, to cover the entire pizza. Dot the pizza with half of the chopped olives and sprinkle chopped Basil leaves.
Cover the entire pizza with the grated mozzarella and crumble half of the Feta cheese over the pizza.

Bake @ 180 deg C for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven on baking and repeat steps 8 & 9 for second pizza.

Rest the fully baked pizza on a wire rack for a few minutes after removing it from the oven to cool slightly... One shall exercise patience and keep oneself from pouncing on the hot pizza, else one shall experience a stinging mouth burn from melted mozzarella if one is being greedy :(

Cut up into slices and Eat up! :)


"Pimms" and Lemonade

Pimms No.1, is a British Gin based liqueur that is served over ice or in cocktails. Pimms and Lemonade used to be the drink of choice on an English summer's day while watching Wimbledon, Cricket or simply lazing in the back garden... (so much fun to say this in my fake Brit accent!) :)

I tried this for the first time at a restaurant called "The Queen & Mangosteen", here in Singapore...served alongside a Ploughman's platter consisting of: Stilton Cheese, Grapes, sliced Ham, Salad leaves and fruit Chutney. Yum!

So anyway, since I didn't have much luck finding a bottle of Pimms No.1 at the Singapore Duty free, I asked Richard, a friend from work, to bring back a bottle for me from Ireland...and his timing couldn't have been more perfect... It was the perfect drink to celebrate my blogs 1st birthday :) God bless you Mr.Richard :)

Ingredients: (Serves 2)
- 90 ml Pimms No.1
- 330 ml (1 small can) Sparkling water/ Soda
- 1 large Lemon
- 5 tbsp finely chopped Apple
- 5 tbsp finely chopped Cucumber
- 3-4 Orange segments, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tsp finely chopped Orange peel
- 3 tbsp finely chopped Strawberries ( I skipped this since I could'nt find any)
- 8-10 Mint leaves, roughly torn
- 3-4 tsp White Sugar, powdered

1.) In a pitcher, make lemonade using the juice from the lemon, sparkling water and sugar.

2.) Stir in the chopped fruit and mint and add the Pimms No.1 to the mix. Stir using a long spoon.

3.) Chill for atleast 30 mins before serving. Serve over ice in a tall glass, garnished with a sliced orange :)

Vineet and I seriously recommend investing in a bottle of Pimms... pick one up yourself, or ask someone traveling abroad to get one for you, incase it is not available in your city... Trust me... it is a decision you will never regret! :)

Blueberry & Yoghurt Breakfast Smoothie

Another super yummy, super healthy, super quick breakfast in a glass.. using all of 3 ingredients - fresh Blueberries, Yoghurt and Honey. Can't possibly write a longer introduction for something that is made in just a few minutes :) But yes, I have to tell you that Blueberries are excellent fat  busters, are high in anti-oxidants and maintain healthy urinary tract and visual health. See this link for more information:

Ingredients: (Makes 2 glasses)
- 1 cup fresh Blueberries, washed & drained
- 1-1/2 cups plain Yoghurt
- 2 or 3 tbsp Honey

Stick everything in a blender and whirrrrrrrrr away. Add a couple of teaspoons of water to thin out the smoothie if its too thick. Garnish with a couple of blueberries, and Drink up!