Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tamatar Dhaniya ka Shorba/ Tomato Soup

Winters are almost gone. 

Here in India, where I stay, winters come only for about 98 hours. Which is so not cool! cool.. winters... get it? get it?!

I know... sorry. 

And when winters do come, we all rejoice and take pleasure in relishing foods that can warm up our insides. 

Tamatar ka shorba or Tomato soup is one of those quintessential winter-y foods that we all truly love at our home. Its almost akin to a warm hug... a perfect cuddle. I usually take a huge bowl of this and usually a grilled cheese sandwich and a good book to read or a good movie... my idea of a perfect life. 

A shorba is a little different from traditional soups. The consistency is broth like. Its light and water-y. It came about from Persia and made its way to our kitchens since the times of mughals. Dhaniya or coriander is added to the shorba which adds a mellow fresh earthy flavour. 

Lets make it then, shall we...

Serves: 4

Complexity: **

Time taken: 30 mins

You'll need

3-4 tomatoes, quartered
3-4 cloves garlic
1" pc of ginger
1 green chili with seeds, split length-wise
1 bay leaf
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp coriander powder
5 cups of water
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
salt as required
1 tsp of sugar to balance the acidity
few stems of coriander leaves
slow roasted tomatoes for garnish (optional)
pinch of love


In a sauce pan or a pot, take your quartered tomatoes.

Add the split green chili. I didn't de-seed it, I like a little heat.

In goes the ginger. If you want to make your shorba milder, go easy on the ginger. A half inch piece of ginger will suffice.

Next, the garlic cloves. 

The bay leaves

Garam masala for that beautiful blend of aromatic Indian flavours 

Pour in the water, about 900 ml for 4 tomatoes.

Cover the pot with a lid.  Place it on medium flame for about 20 mins to boil and simmer. 

Meanwhile, if you are going to garnish with slow roasted tomatoes, now is the time to place them in the oven. Season with salt, pepper and a little cumin

Drizzle some oil and place in a preheated oven for 20 mins at 200C.

As for the shorba, this is after 10 mins of boiling

And this is 20 mins later. The tomatoes have softened completely. 

Take the coriander powder and dry roast it over medium heat to release flavour. 

Keep roasting till the powder is golden brown in colour. 

Add this to the simmering pot. 

Take an immersion blender or pour this into a food processor and make a puree. 

Here's the puree

Sieve the puree so that you can get rid of the pulp and are left with a clear broth. 

Almost there now. A shorba is always tempered at the end. So for the tempering, take some oil on a medium low heat

When the oil starts to shimmer, add the cumin seeds to the oil and let them turn golden brown. 

Temper the shorba with the cumin. 

Add in the salt and sugar along with your pinch of love. Taste for seasoning. The Shorba will be dominantly tangy. 

Add in some coriander leaves and a few stems. The stems are bursting with flavour so please use them! 

To serve, ladle the shorba in a soup bowl. Add in the slow roasted tomato which will have charred a little bit around the edges and intensified in flavour. Add in a few more leaves of coriander. Mmmmmm.... my cup of perfect bliss. 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Too-pretty-to-eat Crepes

The perks of being living alone at home. You have so much extra time on your hand that you don't really know what to do. 

But I do! I always know what to do when I have extra time on hand!My parents are out of town for a couple days and what do I do, I head to the kitchen. I have a one track mind. What can I say! 

Jeez.... I need a life! But we'll have plenty of time to go through that later. For now let me share this beauty with you. 

Did you know btw, that in India, strawberries come in winters?! Which is why I always have them stocked in my fridge for the 13 days its cold here. 

I love me that gorgeously seedy, sweetly tart-y, fresh, succulent red fruit! Somehow eating strawberries always reminds me of that scene in Pretty Woman when Richard Gere and Julia come to his pent house suite for the first time and he offers her offers strawberries. She, quite offhandedly, asks him why and he replies, " it brings out the flavour of the Champagne" 

Its been a whole lot of talk for a very simple recipe. Lets cook please before I keep rambling on.

Serves: 2

Complexity: **

Time taken: 15 mins

You'll need

1 1/2 cup wheat flour/all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional but suggested)
Pinch of love
some butter or oil for the pan
2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2-3 tbsp cream
mini reese's buttercups (optional)


Combine your ingredients for the crepe in a bowl. In goes the flour, sugar, vanilla, egg. Gradually add the milk while whisking. You want a runny batter, like melted icecream. 

Heat a griddle/ skillet on medium heat. Spray some oil or melt half a tsp of butter to grease the griddle.

Pour the crepe batter and swirl the pan so it is evenly distributed all over in almost a round. Keep the crepe layer quite thin. If you are spooning in the batter, about 2 ladle fulls of the batter should suffice. Depends mostly on the size of your pan. 

Now I'll ask you to be a little imaginative because I got a phone call in the middle and forgot taking pics of the rest of the steps. Flip over the crepe after about a minute on one side. Its should be golden brown. The second side takes lesser time, around 45 seconds. Repeat the process and make crepes out of the rest of the batter

Meanwhile, melt your chocolate along with the cream in the microwave. Mix it all together and you have your ganache ready. If you want to make it a little runny, add a tbsp of milk and you can drizzle that over the crepes. 

Place your peanut buttercups on the hot crepes so they start to soften a little. Halve the gorgeous strawberries and scatter them on the crepes. 

Beauty overload! Dust in your pinch of love and Indulge! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Chicken Cacciatore

Me: "I fancy some Italian" (referring to food in this case peeps)

Me: "Peeeezzzaaahhh!!! yayyyyyy"

Me: "Not the healthiest food in the world!!"

Me: "Thats debatable, but Pizza- you know you love it!!"

Me: "Its not even a week into the new year and you're supposed to make better food choices." 

Welcome to the inner workings of a obsessed foodie mind!

And this is how ladies and gentlemen, I arrived at making this stupendous version of Pollo alla cacciatore or Chicken in hunter's style. 

The rustic stew is absolutely magical and its perfect for a date night. Serve it on a plate of pasta and I'm telling you, thou shalt be hailed the next Italian food Queen/ King. 

Or just make it for your own-self because you are worthy of having the best. For me its the perfect winter-y evening companion.... spicy, sexy, saucy, stew-y..... mmmmmm. And those colours!! What a beautiful sight to behold

Traditionally, Cacciatore is a one pot stew made with wine but I skipped that out. And I think it tasted even better this way! Ofcourse I had to add my special touch to it, so keep reading!  

Here's how you make it

Serves: 4

Time taken: 1.45 hrs

Complexity: **

You'll need

4 boneless chicken thighs (bones do add more flavour, so use that if you want)
4-5 Red peppers (no idea what the name of these is, but the pic will help you)
1 yellow bell pepper
1 large red onion
2 cups mushrooms 
2 tbsp capers
4 large garlic cloves
1 can of crushed tomatoes (I puree mine at home)
1 cup of mixed black and green olives
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
Olive oil for cooking
Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp dried oregano
a few basil leaves for garnish
Pinch of your love (Never omit that!!) 


First things first, have your vegetables all prepped and ready. Wash them and wipe them off with a clean towel. 

Chop them like so. Thick slices of the peppers, and quarter your mushrooms. 

To prep the chicken, wash and pat it dry. Line it up in a plate. Season it with salt and pepper

Don't forget to season it on the other side as well

In another plate, have the all purpose flour ready. Dredge the chicken in that flour. 

Coating it evenly on both sides. Make sure you dust off the excess. Also make sure you are not touching your hands anywhere after you touch the chicken. we don't want to cross contaminate. 

In a pan, drizzle some olive oil on medium heat for a couple of minutes. The pan should be hot enough so that when you add the chicken, it sizzles. Add your chicken to it. We want some colour on the chicken and not to cook it. So a minute on each side should suffice. Raise the heat if you need to.

Turn when the chicken is golden on one side.

Remove from pan and transfer to a plate once both sides are nicely golden brown and slightly crispy. Ahhh how gorgeous is that! 

In the same pan which has all those beautiful chicken juices and those gorgeous brown bits sticking to it, and some leftover oil, add in your chopped onion. 

Sprinkle some salt over them to draw out the moisture. 

Saute for a couple of minutes. 

Meanwhile mince your garlic like this.

Add the minced garlic onto the bed of sauteing onions. 

After about a minute, add in the mushrooms. Saute this for a couple of minutes so the mushrooms release their moisture. 

Next go in the peppers. 

Just after about a minute of sauteing because we don't want the peppers to wilt completely, add in the Capers.

Give it a toss and add the crushed tomatoes. I just coarsely blended 4 tomatoes at home and added them to the pan. I prefer that over the canned ones anytime. Add in the cup of water as well. 

Season with salt and pepper

Add some spice with those beautiful chili flakes

Some dried oregano

A splash of balsamic vinegar.... this is what gives the whole dish a mellow earthy tang. I did not add any wine to my cacciatore, but the BV adds an extra dimension of flavour. 

Throw in the olives 

Now place those chicken pieces right on the top of the sauce. Don't waste those accumulated chicken juices. Pour them right in the pan. 

Tear a few basil leaves and cover the pan to let it simmer for 30 minutes or so

After 30 minutes,the oil should start to float on top around the edges. 

The chicken will look a little steamed by now. 

I gave it a quick 'dunk-your-pinky-in-taste-test' and realised it required a little more kick, so I added Italian seasoning on the top of the chicken. You can totally omit this if you want to.

Now carefully transfer this stew in a roasting pan (or use the same pan if its oven friendly) and place in a pre heated oven at 200C for 35-40 mins. Dust in your pinch of love

Magical things happened in the oven. The stew reduced. The sauce became darker and richer. The top layer turned slightly crusty..... mmmm mmm mmm.... all that goodness. Make sure you rotated the roasting pan in the oven to cook the chicken evenly all around. 

Garnish with basil leaves right before serving.

Here's a close up view of how gorgeously amazingly delicious this cacciatore was! 

I spooned it over a plate of pasta and It. Was. Heaven.

Look at how the meat was just falling apart. So juicy, tender and those gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous flavours. How blessed is this!!