Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Nuroz - Recipe for zard pulao- gulkhand - rose sherbet/rose petal cordial

Happy Nuroz- Yes I love all things Persian and yes we have a great influence of Persian in India and also I love the Farsi language and from whose folds and with a mingle of Hindi a new language arose called urdu and I can speak read and write in it as fluently as I can Hindi, English, Telugu and Arabic and I am greatly interested in other cultures and I try learning about them through books and travel.

Well, we don't celebrate Nuroz but I get to see it celebrated all round me with pomp and fervour and what interests me further is the fact that it has a close connection to sankranti, holi and ugadi and definitely its influence found its way through the route of history to India.However the fact that all these great cultures that celebrate their uniqueness are all  bound together way back from ancient times and speak of one cuture and that is the culture of humanity.

Nuroz is celebrated with the arrival of spring which marks new beginnings and it happens to be the first day of the persian new year, you will find great material on this on You tube.The Persian people serve a mixture of dry fruits, nuts and berries which reflect the different tastes of sweet tart etc to symbolise the flavours of life and it surely reminds me of ugadi pachchadi, they serve sherbet and a sweet pudding and display the hafta sheen seven elements like coins,goldfish,green sprouts, vinegar, oleaster fruit and hyacinth flowers symbolising prosperity abundance fertility,patience and new beginnings.They also jump over tiny bonfires they light and it resembles the bhogi bonfires.

There is a great influence of Persian cuisine in India and one that translates to my personal experience is the zard pulao(rose sherbet, gulkhand,nan khatai).During my childhood, it was one thing I detested becoz I could not imagine eating a rice pulao that is sweet.But now I make it sometimes out of nostalgia and yes ironically my kids don't like it either.This is the first part of the post - rose petal cordial and gulkhand come in my next post, you can see them in the picture and I have also put up a mixture of dry fruits, nuts sweet candy and dried cranberries and cherries in the persian style of serving.

This recipe belongs to my great grand aunt and I still remember the beautiful urdu handwriting in which she wrote it down in an old green diary.I still don't know her real name except that she was called pyari jaan at home.She was a fighter married and divorced by the tender age of 12 my grandmother, her sister welcomed her in her home and educated her and she went on to work in the public works department of A.P.She died  on the new year of 2000 in a tragic bus accident while on duty.She had magic in her hands whether fabric painting on sarees, gardening and filling up the garden with blooming roses out of  plant cuttings in every color,to cooking great dishes and making fabulous pickles she did it all in her spare time as if to forget the memories of her past.Stern on the outside she could be very kind (I remember how she saved a cat which slipped and fell into our backyard well in a severe rainstorm in the night with the help of a pail and a torch light,mum and I had joined her much to our horror at the sound of the shrieking cat ...well thats another story). I miss her so much right now.

Zard Pulao Recipe also known as meetha pulao/meethay chawal/zarda
1 cup rice
1/2 -3/4 cup sugar(depending on the level of your sweet tooth)
1 cup milk
A pinch of saffron
1 tbs each of cashenuts almonds and pistachios
2 tbs of raisins
a few drops of kewra(screw pine) water
5 green cardamoms
3 cloves
5 tbs ghee

Heat half the ghee ina pan and toast the nuts and raisins and keep aside.Boil milk and add safrron strands to it until the milk thickens and turns a mellow yellow and  now take it off the stove.Cook rice until 3/4 done and drain.Now heat the remaining ghee in a pan add the clove and cardamoms, when fragrant add the nuts and raisins reserving a few for garnish.Add the thickened saffron milk,sugar kewra water and the rice and let it cook until dry and the grains are apart and well cooked.Garnish with slivers of toasted nuts and serve.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Grilled Chicken Peri Peri

Peri Peri Grilled Chicken
Well, I love Nandos Restuarant and I am a great fan of the grills they do.Especially, chicken Peri Peri happens to be my favourite dish and I will always stock up on a wide variety of their sauces and they are very handy while making sandwiches for kids to pack their lunch boxes to school.I just keep sandwich size portions of cut up chicken in freezer bags and in the morning I have to just toss them in a little oil, dried herbs and the chosen nandos sauce like peri peri, wild herbs, garlic etc and  top up with some shredded cheese lettuce tomatoes and they are ready to be packed off and trust me there are no leftovers.Nandos sauces go really well as dips and you can check out their website for lovely recipe ideas.I love the barcelos cockerel - the logo on their bottles it looks kind of cute and do you know it stands for honesty and integrity.Well, there is a legend behind the cockerel and you can read it on their website.

So I made the grilled chicken Peri Peri at home.So, here goes the recipe I created to emulate the one served at their restaurant.Peri Peri is the African bird's eye chilli that left the Portuguese traders who reached the shores of Africa fascinated by the fire it added to their food.

 60ml Nandos Peri Peri sauce Hot(you could use their medium/mild versions too)
1 chicken cut up into four pieces/ 4 breast fillets
30 ml Apple juice
salt for seasoning
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp dry ginger powder
1 tbs lemon juice
30 ml oil
dried herbs oregano/thyme

Clean and dry the chicken pieces rub salt, lemon juice and apple juice,all over them and leave overnight in the fridge. On the day you plan to grill  mix 15ml oil, peri peri sauce,dried herbs,spices in a small bowl and apply the mixture all over the chicken and let it marinate for 2-3 hrs.Grill the marinated chicken until crisp on top with a red brown crust and yet succulent inside.Alternatively, you could cook it on a grid pan with a little oil and let the bar marks appear on the chicken.Use the left over marinade to baste the chicken frequently.Serve the chicken with baked potato stuffed with  a combination of mozarella, cheddar cheese and chives and sauteed seasonal veggies like brocolli, asparagus and zucchini.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dubai Food Festival and Gilafi seekh Kebab Recipe

Huh! Pretty long time and the same rant in the past two years I have moved a lot KSA, Bahrain Dubai Oman and  back to Dubai and with all this excitement came some not so good events like the long drawn illness of my son  that kept me away from everything... brooding and struggling I had given up on pretty much everything but right now things have begun to look a bit better and here I am again ready to pick up the strings of life and move on. During this time I am sure all of you my readers whom I each call a foodgoddess ( my male readers please forgive me for leaving you out) must have had a lot of fun and please hold on to the good things in life like good health for instance and never feel  depressed  not even for a moment, for want of  other things as long as you have this blessing in your life.

Okay, so here I am in this exciting city of Dubai and this is a happening place, and its energy amazes me, not a bleak moment, there is something for everyone here.Right now it is the Dubai Food Festival that is happening as a stretch of  various events scheduled between 21st February and 15th of March.The Dubai food carnival was over a week ago and I had great fun attending it. Sanjeev Kapoor, Silvena Rowe, Master Chef John Torode were all part of this. The Beach Canteen event is happening right now and what's unique about it is that it is built from refurbished cargo containers on three prime beach locations of Dubai and  will serve up a tasty fare of Emirati, Mexican, Egyptian,Italian French,Japanese and International cuisines. The Taste of Dubai festival is bang on between 13-15 of March with world class chefs,cooking classes coupled with world class entertainment and it is being touted as a foodlover's fantasy.

Well, coming back to the food carnival that took place on 21-22 of Feb it was one fantastic event.The celebrity chefs, live entertainment, live cooking and interactive sessions with chefs where particpants could ask questions, bloggers forum, competitions like My dad can cook, Little greenfingers and Yalla BBQ, pop up food court, and Carnival Rowe a pop up restaurant with a three course menu  sourced from local organic produce of UAE by celebrity chef from U.K Silvena Rowe who is also a consultant chef at Hotel H Dubai and associated with greenheart organic farms in Dubai were all interesting features.

It was a great opportunity for food lovers to meet up Chef  Sanjeev Kapoor and get his autograph and also meet Chef Akshay Nayyar who is being mentored by the great stalwart himself  and  is currently heading a signature restaurant of Sanjeev Kapoor( Melia Dubai) and is also the judge on Foodshala the U.A.E cookery competition show that has begun to be telecast on Colors TV.Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor went on to demonstrate a simple starter Crab Cakes.He got the audience involved in the cooking process and with his witty lines and a great sense of humor narrated anecdotes from his experiences as a chef.The crab cake recipe was simple he added chopped up prawns crab meat ginger garlic paste coriander,green chillies dried pomegranate seeds, spices,lemon juice seasoning and chilly powder rolled them up into smooth cakes and shallow fried them in batches in a pan.He asked questions like what color is the saffron producing crocus flower and who is the world's largest producer of pistachios and he stated that the best pistachios come from Iran.He also took questions from participants about everything and here are a few of them

What are the basic ingredients for Indian cooking?
Coriander,turmeric cumin and chilly powder.

Which one is the best biryani you ever had?
The one prepared by my wife with goat meat and it is made without oil purely in goat meat stock.

Any significant dish or incident you cannot forget?
While working in New Zealand had prepared a spicy dish of chicken overly spiced with chillies for a western customer who wanted to taste the spiciest dish of India,despite informing him that on regular basis Indians cook simple food and do not add to much spice or chilly

Carnival Rowe organic menu
Celebrity Chef Silvena Rowe

Now here is a recipe inspired by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor's cooking and it has become our family favorite.It is very simple to make but has a great impact when included as a starter in any dinner party menu.

 Mutton Gilafi Seekh Kebabs

500 gms minced lamb(80/20 meat fat ratio)
2 tbs cashew nuts powdered
2 large onions sliced and fried crisp to a golden  brown color
1 tbs ginger and  garlic each combined  into paste
1 egg
2 green chillies finely chopped
fresh corinader and mint leaves
lemon juice 2 tsps
1 tsp cumin powder
2tsp coriander powder
salt as required
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp chat masala
oil to fry onions
butter to baste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp kewra water (screw-pine natural edible essence) optional (but it enhances aroma greatly if you could find it)

Clean and wash minced lamb and press between palms to remove excess water.In a bowl combine mince,salt,mint and coriander leaves,ginger garlic paste,spice powders,lemon juice,chopped green chillies kewra water,cashew nut powder and mix well now pass once through a mixer to get a smooth dough.Refrigerate for half hour and divide mixture into equal portions,dip in beaten egg,now they are ready to go on skewers but work with wet hands to make it easy to shape them on skewers.Cook in an oven preheated to 225 degrees for 20 minutes turning and  basting it with butter and remaining egg from time to time.Ensure they are cooked but don't let them dry out in the oven due to overcooking.Serve with onion rings,lemon wedges and yoghurt mint coriander dip.Alternatively you can put them on bamboo skewers and cook them on a tawa/griddle turning them often and using a little oil.The kebab dough can be prepared in advance and kept in refrigerator a day or two ahead from when you plan to serve them.

photo credit: Silvena Rowe  DFC official image