January 27, 2013

Royally simple yet simply royal ~Mughlai Paratha~

Of all the numerous culinary impressions I have formed while growing up, one particular dish that has always stood out has been this fluffy yet crunchy, simple yet with-an-impressionable-bite - "Indian-egg stuffed-flour tortillas". These evoke such strong and beautiful memories of all the Wednesday evenings (I will elaborate in a second the relevance) growing up that when I made this I literally got transported to my very happy place. Its really that simple to be in your happy place..Easy isn’t it?

Well here’s a confession - as much blessed as I am to have grown up with my wonderful siblings – I am equally if not more delighted to have grown up with this unique culinary combination formed out of a desire to ease the process of eating an omelet and a “roti” separately, which leads to the birth of this piece of  magic called the Mughlai paratha or more phonetically correct “Moghlai Paratta” in Odia. The story goes back to our usual “non-vegetarian” days (the selected days of a week all of us were allowed to have non –veg due to religious restrictions), Wednesday was just the perfect break in the middle of a humdrum week with classes and homework. That was the day all of us kids were allowed to make demands of our Ma as to what we yearned to eat and gladly for all us, most of the times we would all vote for “Moghlai Paratta”. As I look back, I get really amazed by my Ma’s ability to innovate, learn and execute such recipes which I am sure she never grew up eating. And to our absolute pleasure, there were a lot of those.

It’s quite fascinating how a simple combination of paratha and eggs with a few aromatic herbs and spices to bridge their gap, can provide a semblance of "royal" times. Honestly speaking I won’t be able to date out the origins of this “royal” dish but as far my memory goes- I remember savoring it ever since my taste buds had the slightest ability to discern complexly pleasant delicacies. So if I had to describe this in a few words – it had to be fluffy, incredible flavorful, cheese-free distant cousin of Mexican delicacy “quesadilla”- elevated to a different plane by simple additions of onions, chillies, and of course the real star of this dish – some fragrant mint leaves.

~Mughlai Paratha~

Simple Indian flatbread a.k.a paratha stuffed with an egg mixture made aromatic with fragrant mint, red bell peppers, spring onions and spicy chillies. Savored just by itself or along side a flavorful chilli garlic yogurt dip, it is fit to serve a king - albeit a modern & health conscious one ;).

Ingredients: (For one paratha)

1 Uncooked Flour Tortilla/ Paratha
(Use the cooked flour tortillas if you don’t the ones I did)

For the filling:
-      1 no. Egg
-      1 T chopped spring onions (Use regular onions, it works fine too)
-      ½ tsp finely chopped chillies
-      1 T finely chopped red bell pepper
-      ½ T Finely chopped mint
-      Salt to taste
-      Pinch of black pepper

-      Oil to shallow fry the parathas (quantity can be adjusted as per requirement)

-      In a small bowl, break the egg and whisk it with all the ingredients for the filling (Finely chopped - onions, bell pepper, mint, salt and pepper)
-      Place a flat griddle (tava) over medium heat. Once its hot, place the tortilla (or a maida roti- see below) on the dry tava (no oil added yet) and semi-cook it till just lightly done on both sides (~ 1 min)
-      Once the tortilla is semi-cooked on both sides, pour the egg mixture on the tortilla and fold it lightly to form a semi-circle.
-      At this point, add 1 T oil on the sides and over medium low heat, cover the griddle and let it cook (~ 1 min). Turn the paratha to the other side and let it cook for another minute covered.
-      Uncover the paratha and lightly press to make sure the egg is cooked through. If it oozes out, the paratha still needs to be cooked a little bit more.
-      Tip: I sliced the paratha in half on the tava itself to make it cook more evenly.
-      Once done, serve the paratha with any chutney and make sure to savor it without any disturbance ;)

Some handy notes:
-      These tortillas (Mexican culinary term for a flat bread like our roti) can be made easily at home.Just that I was not industrious enough to go through the kneading-rolling part, so I chose the easy route. Those of you who would prefer to make it from scratch, go straight ahead and make maida (all-purpose flour rotis. To my surprise, this easy route tasted as good as the fresh one and a great time saver.
-      Cooking time for these parathas will vary depending on the size of the rotis, heat used etc etc. but just make sure to cook it thoroughly so that the eggs are cooked straight through.

Well really that’s all to it but the flavor is so utterly divine that I wonder how simple things can quite literally provide the greatest pleasures. I served these with a simple Chilli garlic curd dip with fresh cilantro and well, it was perfect.

~ Chili garlic yogurt dip~
In 1/2 C smoothly mixed yogurt, mix in 1T chili garlic paste (easily available in any Asian market-the red variety) alongwith 1/4 tsp very finely minced garlic and 1T chopped cilantro. Adjust it for salt and a pinch of sugar. There you go- an easy dip ready to go.

Hope these have convinced you to make these for your kids and gift them with some very precious memories to cherish for ever.

Here's to the eternal bond between food & memories.

I am submitting this to:
- "Breakfast Club" hosted by Farmersgirll Kitchen & Fuss free flavours
- "Let's cook/bake for Valentine" hosted by Simply sensational food.
- "Monsoon temptations" hosted by Manasi
- "Walk through memory lane" hosted by Manju and Gayatri
- Breakfast Recipes hosted by Nandoo's Kitchen and Priya's.
- "Kid's Delight event" hosted by Jayanthi and Srivalli.
Monsoon Temptations - Food Blog Event

January 2, 2013

"Outrageous"-ly decadent - Chocolate & walnut brownies

Quite often said and blindly followed (by yours truly i.e.) is the crude saying - "Whatever you do on the first day of a year..most likely you would be doing it for the rest of it ". Sounds chancy ehh? Yeah most likely it doesn’t have any ground in reality..but well when things are in your control there’s hardly any harm in trying to set the right tone to begin a brand new year. So writing this post in this “new” part of the year, assures me that this is going to be an auspicious hint that I will continue to write my posts even though I foresee a very busy future..Amen!! 

So my first post of 2013 is dedicated to this 2 x 2 chocolate-y square filled with nuts and yes, of course some more chocolate. It’s rich, decadent and mind my words- absolutely irresistible! And with the amounts I have eaten it seems I might have to do some serious damage control (read: some real exercise). Although it might already be implied by my numerous posts, this recipe further confirms the fact that yes I love-love-love desserts with any combination of chocolate and nuts ;)

Its evolution from my mind to the plate goes back a year and follows the usual trend of being inspired by a recipe on TV by one of my favorite chefs – Ina Garten. I got intensely drawn to this recipe owing to its simplicity and decadency, with the only glitch being the ingredients being in large proportions. So I thought, what better dessert for the holiday season to give as gifts when everyone is in a mood to celebrate and enjoy. Ever since I first baked these a year back, I cannot deny that these are the BEST brownies I had ever tasted.It literally blew my mind.Well that might sound vain but all thanks to Ina Garten for this amazing recipe. Now I wonder hard as to, why don’t all brownies have this moistness, flavorful chocolaty goodness..instead of being crumbly, dry and flour-y and I am NOT exaggerating when I say that its very very hard to resist a second bite or even the tenth if you go for even one.

While I really don’t claim to be a guru in baking, I still find that following some simple basic rules seem to go a long way for any novice like me. I can swear by how simple and effective these are always when everything else seems difficult. So here are these tiny nuggets of useful information.

-   Always preheat the oven (5-10 mins). This is quite possibly the most important thing since the first 5 mins are very critical to any recipe. I usually turn it on as I start prepping up the ingredients.
-   Use room temperature ingredients unless stated otherwise. This gives an even temperature for all ingredients to mix in.
-   Use parchment paper. This is the best way to make sure that your baked good does not stick to the pan/sheet pan etc. Butter and flour the parchment paper like you would generally any pan.
-   Measure the ingredients accurately. For measuring flour, fluff up the flour and then measure it else it will be densely packed.
-   When melting chocolate, make sure the bowl is completely dry otherwise the chocolate freezes (becomes a unglazed mass) when it should be smooth and glazed.

Outrageously chocolate-y brownies
(Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe)

Over-the-top decadent and chocolate-y brownies interspersed with walnuts and more chocolate chips, is sure to leave you speechless with just a bite. Adapted from Ina Garten's All star dessert recipe, very aptly named "Outrageous brownies".

Ingredients (Makes around 40 nos. 2” squares)
·    1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter
·    1 lb + 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
·    6 ounces Semi sweet Baker’s chocolate
·    6 extra-large eggs
·    3 T Nescafe (instant coffee granules)
·    2 T Pure bourbon vanilla extract
·    2 C Sugar
·    1 + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
·    1 T baking powder
·    1 tsp salt
·    3 C chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350oF. Then spread out the walnuts on a sheet pan and roast for ~ 5 mins till fragrant. Take out and let it cool.

2. Prepare a double boiler (see notes) for melting the butter, 1 lb of chocolate chips and baker’s chocolate. Stir in between. Once it has melted, take it off the stove and let it cool (~ 10 mins)

3. In a separate bowl, stir in the eggs, sugar, vanilla and the coffee powder.

4. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled slightly, mix it in with the egg mixture and let it cool to room temperature.

5. Now, in another bowl, sift together 1 C flour, baking powder and salt. Then fold it into the chocolate mixture.

6. Toss the cooled walnuts and remaining chocolate chips with 1/4th C of flour and fold it into the batter.

7. Line the baking sheet (12 x 18 x 1-inch) with parchment paper and butter and flour the sheet.

8. Pour the chocolate batter into the sheet and place it in the oven.

9. Bake for ~35 minutes and take it out from the oven. Let it cool before cutting it out into squares. Imp: Do not overbake!

Some useful notes: 

- Preparing the double boiler: Place a sauce pan half filled with water over the stove, bring it to a boil and then let it simmer over low flame. Place another bowl over it with the chocolate and butter and let it melt from the steam. Do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl on top.

- The walnuts and chocolate chips are tossed with flour so that they don’t sink to the bottom of the batter. A little trick does wonders you see.

- Ina Garten specifies that it’s essential to rap the sheet on the baking rack to make sure that you take out the air from that forms between the sheet and the brownie.

The picture below recorded my first try at these brownies :)

With all the notes in hand and my experience to fall back on, I hope these impress you as much as it has everyone who has had a bite. Frankly, I can no longer enjoy any brownie without wondering about these – such is its power. So as I prepped to bake these for a second year, I could not help but wonder, that how a chance trial had actually set out to become a holiday tradition I hope to maintain. With the amount of love and care I have added in this time, I hope it tastes all the more wonderful for my family back home :)

May all of you have an adventurous, wonderful and a wonderful new year!
Happy New year friends!

I am submitting this post to:
- "Kid's delight: Dessert" hosted by Veena and Srivalli.
- "Bake fest" hosted by Sumee and Vardhini.
- "Let's cook/bake for Valentine" hosted by Simply sensational food.
- "Bake Fest" hosted by Vardhini from Cook's Joy.
- " Kid friendly dishes" hosted by Vardhini of Cook's joy.