Thursday, June 4, 2020

Vanilla cake with rasgulla filling

With the innumerable cake stories told here, and throngs, in cue, waiting to be published, whipping up a cake on impulse, is quite genuinely, a piece of cake for me (yes, I'm having fun, please)).

Furthermore, if you're like me and give in to the fact that every day of life warrants a cause for such treats, you can never really hold back from delivering. In addition, when your eyes and ears are open to diverse methods, modes, and means on how you can achieve this goal, with evenly matched fortitude and fervor, nirvana takes on a whole new meaning.

Cake and rasgulla should definitely be an essential part of fusion food conversation. It's an intriguing combination of two potent forces in dessert culture, one of world renown, the other making its way to it from the Indian subcontinent. The one does not exalt itself over the other. As a young taster explained, "there could not be a more necessary pairing."

Three ingredients is all it takes to create fancy mithai from soured milk, and save you one less grocery commitment.

Insert Tisa's master tip here: make the rasgullas at least a day in advance of cake baking. It solves major stress issues stemming from way too many tasks and no time to do them, despite the fact that these days you have all the time in the world. 

For assembly purposes, any complementing flavor of cake would do. The idea of a fluffy, yellow cake saturated with the juice of the gulla is highly appealing to me. Moreover, subtle, vanilla scented layers responsibly housing gobs of moist confection to enliven its crumb is unbeatably epic. 

Mind you, this is not a rasgulla flavored cake See it as the grandest calling for cake, in gateau- ish frame, with a bevy of paneer meat gutting it's soul.

Subsequently, it takes well to a spritz of syrup and rum and serves substantially tasty as a leftover staple.

Let it speak to you...as one that guts your soul could only and invariably do. 

 Ingredients:
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ tbsp baking powder
  • ½ cup salted butter
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt 
  • ¼ cup water
  • about 15-20 rasgullas, separated from syrup
  • ½ cup rasgulla syrup
  • 2 tsp rum
  • 1 batch vanilla frosting

  • Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour two 8" round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter and flour parchment.
  • Whisk flour and baking powder in a large bowl. 
  • In a stand mixer, on medium- high speed,  beat, butter, oil and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Reduce mixer speed, add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla.
  • In a large measuring cup, whisk together yoghurt and water until combined.
  • Beat the flour mixture into the batter, alternating with the yoghurt mixture, in three batches, beginning and ending with flour.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until lightly golden on top and toothpick inserted in centers come out clean.
  • Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn cakes out onto racks to cool completely.
  • In the meantime, cut about 7 rasgullas into halves or thirds.
  • Stir together syrup and rum. Lightly drizzle the syrup mixture over the tops of both cakes.
  • Allow the syrup to fully seep through before spooning on more.
  • Frost the top of one cake with buttercream. Place 6-8 halved rasgullas on top of the frosted cake. Top with the second cake.
  • Fully frost sides of stacked cake. Decorate as desired. Garnish with remaining rasgullas.
Vanilla buttercream: 
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 3-5 cups confectioner's powdered sugar, sifted (depending on stiffness and consistency)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tbsp heavy cream
Vanilla buttercream:
Directions:
  • Place butter in a bowl. Beat on high until softened and pale in color.
  • On lowest speed, gradually add your powdered sugar, until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.
  • Increase to medium speed again and add vanilla extract.
  • Pour in cream, one tablespoon at a time until frosting reaches desired consistency.
 Notes~
I do not add the cardamom when I make the rasgullas for this purpose, because I don't like its flavor in cake.

There are a variety of cakes that would work in this dessert on dessert scheme. Look here, here, here, here, and here. Or just click on the recipe index tab on my home page and scroll through the "Cakes, Cupcakes, Cake Pops" section.
Roses, using Wilton 2d. The recipe for the the cashew praline( crushed and glass) right here.

******


"Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? 

At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand" Proverbs 8:1-2

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

(Air) Fried chicken biriyani and cucumber-tomato raita


If anyone were to ask me which dish would be the perfect introduction to Indian cuisine, the reply would, undoubtedly, be biriyani.

Interject here, that it could/should/ would be my absolute last meal on earth, if circumstance allows me the privilege.

From distant Persian beginnings, biriyani/biryani/biriani- till the day I really don't know how it's written,- bears a variety of flavor allegiances to the regions, communities, people, even chefs that have touched and tweaked upon its blueprint. Essentially, there are as many interpretations of biriyani in India as there are cities on the country's map.

It's a celebration of all that is desi food. To the deep colors, layers of curried masala and perfumed specifics of rice, this could be the poster child for the all-in-one meal, transcending borders, perhaps the answer to world peace.

However,  in most cases construction of the slow cooked rice and protein platter has many constants, factors which remain consistent, despite the innumerable styles in which it is made.
These would be-
Whole spices, such as cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, mace
Immense amounts of ginger and garlic
Fragrant long grain rice
Onions

Typically,  biriyani includes a protein slow cooked in a substantial gravy, which in turn is layered with par-cooked rice. This is further simmered in a cooking form/art called "dum"- where ingredients are sealed in vessel, with a dough around the lid to create foolproof flavor penetration.

A dish usually slow cooked in a flour covered pot is hard to make shortcuts with, but because I aim to make life easy, mine/yours, and my air fryer needed to be put to a much better use than heating tortillas, it came to this.

The Le Creuset is paramount in doing high capacity meals such as this one. It does justice to pounds of meat that require tenderizing and juice oozing in one go. If I really need the dum effect, aluminum foil-lined under the lid does the trick.

The chicken, being fried, adds a whole new dimension to texture. It lends bite as well as flavor to biriyani's base foundation. The composition of browned onions and numerous aromatics working in unison, brilliantly execute a perfect chicken and rice combo. If you don't know already, frying makes things addictively delicious, another reason you can't deny eating right out of the pot.

The learning curve for biriyani isn't all that steep. Once you get it, you literally have the magic wand of A-class, fit-for-royalty casserole making at your disposal.

In finale, opening the lid, and inhaling what lies within will be the best" wait for it" scenario you've ever experienced. A glorious production that makes you look like you've slaved over it all day.

Eat it warm. It's excellent with hard boiled eggs as a finisher on top and improves in leftover quality. 
Serve it with yoghurt raita( below).

But by all means, try it... and eat it in the way that makes you happiest.

Biriyani~
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 mint sprigs
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3-5 serrano peppers, depending on level of heat desired (seeds out if preferred)
  • 4 tbsp roughly chopped garlic
  • 1 inch ginger, roughly chopped 
  • 1-2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ginger power
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup cashews
  • water
  • 1 pound skinless split chicken thighs, cut into 3 inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 whole yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece mace
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup plain nonfat yoghurt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • ¼ cup raisins
Directions:
  • Blend together lemon juice,  mint,  3/4 cup cilantro, serranos, garlic and ginger into a smooth paste. A fews splashes water may be needed to create the desired level of smooth. Set aside.
  • In a bowl coat chicken with the powdered spices, from chili to turmeric. Add salt and two tablespoons of oil. Cover pieces evenly with marinade.
  • Set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Soak 1/4 cup cashews in 1/2 cup water. Heat in microwave for 1- 1 1/2 minutes until softened. Blend to a paste and keep aside.
  • Set temperature in air fryer at 390°F.
  • Place chicken in wired tray or basket of air fryer. Spray with nonstick cooking oil. Set timer for 10 minutes.
  • When browned on the sides, take out and flip pieces to the other side. Place tray back in and cook for 12-15 minutes until cooked and crisped brown. Keep pieces aside.
  • Soak basmati in water sufficient to immerse grains.
  • Separately, over high heat, add bay leaves, salt  to 4 quarts of water and bring water to a boil.
  • Rinse out rice and add it to the simmering water.  Bring back to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Drain immediately. It should be parboiled and about 75% done.
  • In a heavy(preferably cast iron) 5 qt or larger dutch oven, heat remaining oil. 
  • Add onions until translucent.
  • Take out a quarter of the onions(1/4) and keep aside. 
  • Lightly crush the cinnamon, mace, cloves, cardamom, star anise in a mortar and pestle, or even using the flat side of a knife against a cutting board.
  • Add the spice mixture to the onions in the pan. Stir until the onions are translucent.
  • Stir in the blended garlic- ginger paste. Saute until cooked all ingredients are cooked.
  • Add tomatoes and chili powder. Saute.
  • With heat at medium, pour in 1 cup of water and bring ingredients to boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add in ground cashews and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Put about half of the chicken pieces in the gravy. Stir in garam masala. 
  • Lightly whip yoghurt with a spoon and mix into the curry. Bring the heat down to medium low for this step.
  • Add salt. Simmer for 6-8 minutes.
  • Layer the parboiled rice on top of the simmering chicken curry.  Pour 3 three tablespoons ghee on top of the rice. Place lid on( it should be a heavy, tight fitted lid, if not cover the mouth of the pot with foil, then place lid over it. Allow curry to cook for 2-3 minutes at medium heat. 
  • Reduce heat to low, keep pot covered and cook for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove from burner.
  • In a saucepan, heat the remaining tablespoon of ghee.
  • Fry the reserved partly cooked onions until brown and crisp. Take out and set aside. 
  • Add remaining 1/4 cup cashews Fry until brown. Set aside. 
  • Fry raisins until swollen. Set aside.
  • Open the lid and either flip the dish carefully over a large platter. I fork it through so that you get nice pieces of curry stained rice and chicken throughout.
  • Top biriyani with the remaining fried chicken pieces, fried onions, cashews and raisins.
  • Garnish with the remaining cilantro.
  • Serve with cucumber-tomato yoghurt raita.

Cucumber-tomato yoghurt raita~

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup nonfat plain yoghurt
  • salt
  • ½ cup chopped English cucumber
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

  • Whisk yoghurt with salt, until smooth and creamy
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  • Serve as a side.
Notes:



I like bone-in chicken for deeper flavor. However, boneless will work perfectly well.



Rice recipes~
******
“I came to Him because I did not know which way to turn. I remained with Him because there is no other way I wish to turn. I came to Him longing for something I did not have. I remain with Him because I have something I will not trade. I came to Him as a stranger. I remain with Him in the most intimate of friendships. I came to Him unsure about the future. I remain with Him certain about my destiny. I came amid the thunderous cries of a culture that has 330 million deities. I remain with Him knowing that truth cannot be all-inclusive.”

Ravi Zacharias (1946-2020), quoted from his book, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message 



"Teach us to number our days,  that we may have a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

Monday, May 4, 2020

Rasgulla


When it comes to Indian sweets and confections, I am not as proficiently expertised as I'd like. Of course, we've had a few hits here and there, but the story of my misses is, in overview, a few many and profoundly undertold.

It was a year ago that I decided to give up, on what I consider all time tops of Indian confections

The last recipe I tried, from a source that will go unnamed, went on in a dedicated, numerous web page layout, and used up half my day, to postulate on the process of simple syrup. Long story short...some few attempts and a couple of gallons of wasted milk later, I abandoned the idea of making a homemade version of today's topic.

It's ardent I get my game on, for such a time as this. It'd been nearly two months since I've seen the doors of the local Indian store, that sold me tinned versions of what I'm about to talk about, and would never be as appealing as what I made hereafter. The idea of devoting a day, when the days are in plenty, recreate something that's not been far off my mind, and offer you a blueprint was what gave me quite the leap. 

Do I hear you yayyy?!

It wasn't easy. After a rather exhaustive search, and the motley of feeds and urls delivered by Pinterest and Google, combined, I reached some definitive conclusions regarding the subject at hand and my capabilities surrounding it.
In sum:
1.  Milk. Lemon juice. Pow! I can curdle milk, like a pro. You don't need a countless number of instructions to take you through the rancidizing process.
2. I understand sugar consistencies, how long it takes for syrup threads to form. Here, we need not go beyond thin and it doesn't require a candy thermometer, making the immersion and absorption prep effortless.
3. I can take a class on paneer. And it's kindred chena. The basics of splitting milk with acid, in a resulting moister, cheese curd, aka, Indian chena, is all you need to master.

Ready...to roll (yes, literally:))?

Ras, means juice and golla or gulla translates to ball. Rasgulla is a dessert made from kneading/forming separated whey-curds into marble shaped balls, and finally slow simmering them in sugar syrup. 

This classic Indian recipe claims origins from at least a few different parts of the subcontinent. Made with five ingredients, counting lemon juice, which gets washed out, and water, which really shouldn't be counted at all, the beauty in these mild cheese spheres, is their sponge-y texture. Deposited into bubbling hot, sweet liquid, each round guarantees that gush of nectar so common to Indian dessert culture. 

This is rightful mithai making in all its stupendous glory. An amrita-ish play of permeation- well meaning solids in flavorful liquid- leaving you longing for several successive servings.

The three leading ingredients would most likely count as kitchen essentials, add to that drinking water, and you're set. 

Likewise, as we try to do less with more, today's dessert has no rival. 

Till next time, I leave the ball in your court:-)

Ingredients:
  • 5 cups of 2% or higher fat milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3-4 ice cubes
Syrup:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cardamom pods, crushed(optional)
Directions to make the balls:
  • Bring milk to a boil, stirring continuously, on a medium high flame.
  • Once milk comes to a rolling boil, bring heat down, add lemon juice by tablespoons, until milk separates and large curds are floating in liquid.
  • Take off heat and throw in the ice cubes, so curds no longer cook.
  • Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Rinse the curds under running water.
  • When it's cool enough to handle, gather the corners of the cheesecloth into a bundle and squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as you can.
  • Press it into a bundle, with the cheesecloth intact, and set in the middle of a plate with a good lip to catch the liquid that will be squeezed out. Put another plate on top and press until the bundle has flattened into a 1 inch disk. Leave the plate on and weight it down with something heavy ( few vegetable cans will do), for about 30 minutes. It should be soft in texture, not as firm as paneer.
  • Knead mixture into a smooth dough, about 4 minutes.
  • Divide into marble sized portions. They will increase in size when immersed in syrup.
Directions for the syrup:
  • In a deep set pan, boil water and sugar on  medium heat. If using cardamom, add pods into syrup.
  • Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves and bubbles start to form. If desired, take out the cardamom leaves at this point.
Directions for making the rasgulla:
  • With the flame on low-medium, transfer cheese/chenna balls to the syrup and tightly cover the pan with a lid.
  • Switch flame to medium, allow the rasgullas to cook, covered, for 25- 30 minutes on medium heat. Do not open the lid while cooking.
  • Switch off the flame. Leave rasgullas in the pan, covered for another 15 minutes. Allow them to reach room temperature, before transferring to the refrigerator. 
  • Pour the contents into a large glass container. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Rasgullas taste best a day after.
Cardamom pods in sweet glory. It's all about balance. 

Notes :
The more lemon juice you add, the larger the curds. (I add near to the 1/4 cup)
Do not boil the milk after it has separated and curds start forming. This gives rasgulla balls  a rubbery, processed texture.
Rinse curd solids thoroughly to get rid of the acids/taste from lemon juice.
Use the heel of your palms to knead the your cheese dough, even the insides of you palm when you are rolling the pieces, to get balls as smooth as possible.
Prior to adding the balls, do not heat syrup to a thread consistency. It should be thin, with the sugar content not as concentrated.
Rasgullas need room to expand in syrup. Be sure to use a large and sufficiently deep pan. 


Pretty with a pinch of saffron

May:
******
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all you ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Giant carrot and bunny Easter cake

                           
The well-massed friend up there totally encapsulates my mealtime disposition these days, uncomfortably too comfortable, where lazing around the dinner table is the top appropriate to-do thing for such a season. I think she resembles me too. I like her. Do you?

Because isn't the eat-eat-eat-eat-sleep style regimen a thing now, with memes and messages popping  all over screens from people who see humor in a sedentary apocalypse. Besides, really, how much Picasso do you have in you to paint your way through quarantine? 

Although, I must admit, I enjoy "testing" cake on a daily basis, which probably will last till I am introduced to jeans once again.*Sigh*



This could be my new favorite cake, I mean, the contents inside the cyclopean carrot. 

Like I said earlier, I've been dedicating my time, and there's certainly a plenitude of it, to baking cakes I've never ever tasted. Most of these I'd never ever repeat, either, in my lifetime, my kids', their kids and banking on further. 

Pink velvet cake is big league, people.The "velvet" breed of confections is an opener to the well justified extra minutes spent in egg separation/ sole egg white use and totally worth the effort. Once appropriate liquids are added, the air-in-crumb and velvety-dense texture are inevitable, quite magnificent outcomes.

Were it not for the brilliance on my part in adding that quarter cup of buttermilk, this perfect cake destiny may not have arrived.

Baked, shaped, iced and fondant accented in all but a few hours, it's the one undertaking which set my productivity level to way beyond "meh".

Furthermore, my well established love of bunny butts was firm incentive.

So, as you gaze, in utmost gravitas, the fetching scene of a giant carrot, cramful-bowclad bunny, and the companion bum that may hit a little too close to home, I shall sign off.

Happy Easter, friends.

May God bless you, shine on you. heal you and touch you.

Stay safe, secure and anchored in hope.

Ingredients:
(adapted from Liv for Cake, Pink Velvet cake)
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup milk 
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • pink color gel

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, grease pans and the parchment paper.
  • Whisk flour and baking powder and keep aside.
  • Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until combined, pale and fluffy
  • Reduce speed, beat in whites one at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula when needed.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Mix together milk and buttermilk in a large mixing cup.
  • Alternate adding flour mixture and milk mixture to the batter, beginning and ending with flour.
  • Blend in 2-3 drops of pink color gel and and mix into batter until blended.
  • Divide batter between cake pans. Bake for 20-24 minutes or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cakes should spring back when touched.
  • Ice and decorate as needed.
 Notes: I used vanilla buttercream and chocolate buttercream, covered with marshmallow fondant. Idea and tutorial for the Fat bunny cake here.
*After the cut* updated 4/12/2020
I had to use up some chocolate cake to stack the "carrot",  together with the pink velvet. No one's complaining:-)

Easter ideas:
Ravenous bunny cupcakes
Bird in nest cupcakes
Vanilla hydrangea cupcakes
Battenburg cake
Palappam
Appam beef mappas


******
"Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security." Jeremiah 33:6

Monday, March 16, 2020

Soft sugar cookies with marshmallow cream frosting


The compulsion to bake on a grander, more multifarious scale is purely the result of our newfound quarantine propagate. When the home is full of its members, adult, semi adult alike and nowhere for anyone  to go, all those "ones' cluster around the kitchen and consume copious amounts of food. Included in the isolation bred consumption is the certainty of ceaseless on- demand baking. For example, when your adult kiddo begs for a familiar sprinkle- frosted cookie she's stealth eating like a champion at the dorm, you cede to the request. Purely for the reason that yes, you can better up the whole shortening and forty ingredient store package with your cupboard's supply of a handful of basics.  Plus, mandated social distancing has led to your social circle being the three, and only the three people you do life with. Which isn't bad, but when one is the child that towers over you and believes you are the solution to her weeklong college diet woes... wherein is the freedom of choice, please?

And seriously, those of you claiming millions of hits on Oreo biscuits and gravy - ugh, in the wake of mega viruses and toilet paper rationing, demanded my good self to interrupt, for the sake of sanity. In all, it helps me forget lapses in judgement and especially grace, example in point: morning gym time, now replaced with Bollywood dance workouts that bring me to a daily realization that not all of us Indians can gyrate like an Indian. 

The probability of a homemade cookie with an inferior outcome in my house is near nil. Especially when those cookies par in a fine ratio of butter, which we all know are of higher caliber to those without. Taking it one step further and adding sour cream can unquestionably bring batch after batch to unrivaled heights, with soft bellies and deep, supple bites.

It's quite insane how sour cream makes a definitive difference in the number of cookies you eat. 

The marshmallow frosting completes it, a delightful fluff, draped green, in time for St. Patrick's Day. The one day I pretend I'm Irish. 

Quick and easy, cookie dough makes two dozen. With enough sprinkles, baubles and sugared gems, I believe it can festive up the dullest of days.

Ingredients:
For the cookie~
  • ½ cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cream of tratar
  • 1 tsp orange rind
For the marshmallow frosting:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 7 ounces marshamllow creme
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tbsp heavy cream

Directions:
For the cookie~
  • Place butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale in color.
  • Add egg and sour cream, vanilla. Beat until well combined.
  • In a separate bowl sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and orange rind.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour, or pop in freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Preheat over to 375°F.
  • Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Take dough out of fridge/freezer.
  • Roll one tablespoon of dough into a ball. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Flatten each ball with slightly damp hand.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, until center is lightly puffed, and begin to get  light golden around the edges.
  • Cool cookies on sheet for five minutes, then transfer to to wire racks.
  • Frost or serve as is.
For the marshmallow frosting:
  • Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat in powdered sugar one cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula until combined.
  • Pour in vanilla extract and cream. Continue to beat until fluffy. Add more cream if you desire a thinner consistency.
  • Add food color of choice and pipe or spread onto cooled cookies. Top with sprinkles if desired.
March:

******

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Paneer roast: three ways

The first two months of 2020 nearly dashed by without a prompt. I mean, could the days/hours/moments/blinks have been a little less eventful? A mere ten words from the 10,000+ recipes that plague my mind would've sufficed, to keep motivation going, both yours and mine. Though, I'm not going to use unset resolutions and slack on my part as an end-all marker to our food dialogue here. Despite the long gaping silences, I  promise to spill out the contents of my head for as long as I can wax poetic on cakes and curry.

Over some eight years, dreaming, creating and reinventing recipes for BFMK put me on constant rethink mode, as to what delicious food truly is. It's an evolution, magically satisfying, where that thing you fiercely loathed in third grade has now become your palate's greatest desire. A few decades ago, if you'd told me I'd love solids from curdled milk, I would've desperately questioned our friendship.

And yet, here I am, bringing you Show Number Three with gloriously rancid milk starring as our hero.

It's remarkable, this blueprint, of how enhancing a main course with a handful of seasonings not only makes it abound in the flavor of these extrinsic elements, but the taste imprint is distinct in ways that you're kind of hoping to have the same meal, in the same fashion throughout the entirety of your life. Much like good friendships. It's how basic transforms to sublime. Crumbled dairy transcends to silkenly regal. And certain plates, like certain individuals, are a questionless part of your life.

That being said, the effort in making a variety of basting sauces and broadening marinade horizons is totally worth it. Paneer is neutral tasting, so it seamlessly assumes much of what it's dunked in to or what's dunked on to it. In this case, I craved contrastive degrees of spice, salt, and acid. Not only does it break the common tikka rut, but it shuts up arguments from the few unnamed picky members of our dinner table, perhaps specifically the hypercritical adolescent type that has a history of saying paneer is not real food. I believe a tray of these changed that mindset forever.

High temperature baking yields firm pieces with juicy insides. The broiling ensures paneer get toasty, with an enviable bit of char.

If you're a visual eater, the three colors of paneer make for a stunning display. This, with stacks of kheema naan (story to continue in a separate episode) was, incidentally, 
my dinner on January 26, India's Republic Day, and a nod to my first heritage. It's a pretty grand deal when I can channel my inner food stylist, and  color my meal to match national sentiments. 

Cue now the story of how a total 18 pieces of paneer roast skimmed straight into my mouth when no one was around. Yes. All 18 pieces. 

Of course, I now make double batches. Just in case, history repeats itself.

Ingredients:
  • 14 ounce paneer slab ( homemade recipe, right here), cut into 18 small-ish cubes
  • 1 batch cilantro mint marinade
  • 1 batch red chilli marinade
  • 1 batch sesame marinade
Cilantro mint marinade:
  • 3 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 sprig mint
  • ¼ cup fresh spinach leaves
  • ½ tsp ginger paste
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
Red chilli marinade:
  • 1 tsp cayenne or Indian red chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 pinch kasoori methi powder
  • ¼ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • salt
Sesame marinade:
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • ¼ tsp chaat masala
  • ¼ tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp sour cream
  • salt
Directions:
Cilantro mint~
  • Blend the cilantro, mint, spinach, ginger and lemon juice until combined. Whisk in salt and pepper until smooth. 
  • Blend the cayenne, paprika, garlic , ginger, k.methi,  and lemon juice in a blender jar and blend until smooth. Whisk in yoghurt and salt until combined.
  • Blend tahini, garlic, pepper and chaat masala until smooth. Stop the blender, add sesame seeds. Give mixture a quick whir so as to barely crush the seeds( there should be some crunch). Whisk in sour cream and salt until well combined.
  • Pour each marinade into a designated bowl. You should have three separate bowls, one for cilantro mint, one for red chili, and one for sesame. 
  • Place six cubes each of paneer into each of the bowls bowls, i.e., six pieces in the cilantro mint, six pieces in the red chili, and six in the sesame.
  • Allow the paneer pieces to soak in the individual marinades for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F . 
  • Place paneer pieces onto a foil lined, greased baking tray.
  • Spray with nonstick cooking spary or drizzle canola oil over pieces lightly.
  • Stick a toothpick in paneer cubes( optional).
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes. Switch to the broil option and time broil for about 2-3 extra minutes, checking in to see that pieces do not burn , but are just browned.
  • Serve with chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, chopped onions and yoghurt.
"Yahweh, you are my soul’s celebration. How could I ever forget the miracles of kindness you’ve done for me? You kissed my heart with forgiveness, in spite of all I’ve done. You’ve healed me inside and out from every disease. You’ve rescued me from hell and saved my life. You’ve crowned me with love and mercy. You satisfy my every desire with good things. You’ve supercharged my life so that I soar again like a flying eagle in the sky!" Psalm 103:2-5 (TPT)