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Homemade Pita breads!

So, one among million other things that I have wanted to cook is fresh Pita breads at home. And guess what…I made it yesterday. The entire process felt so magical especially for a beginner-level baker like me. Starting off with a simple yeast dough that puffs up like a balloon towards the end of the process was such a joy to watch with my side-kick(my son) who was equally excited and stood beside me as I cooked these on the stove. Its a very easy recipe which I found on youtube but I like to be adventurous at times so changed it a bit.

I have managed to post this recipe sooner than I thought(Thanks to Instagram). A few lovely women on Instagram appreciated me and wanted to know how I made it. Luckily, I also have pictures and short videos from yesterday… To tell you the truth, I always like to click pictures and videos for such recipes only because I can go back to refer when I am making it again. And as an added bonus, I get to use it for the blog when I want to!

SO here goes…

This recipe will make about 14-16 medium sized breads!

3 cups of all purpose flour or you can use whole wheat flour! ( I used 2 cups of AF and 1 cup wheat flour)

1/2 half cup fine semolina

1 tablespoon milk powder

1 tblspn instant yeast

1 Tspn sugar/ honey

1/2 tblspn salt

Some warm water

1/4th cup extra virgin olive oil and more for rubbing on the dough later

  1.  In a wide bowl, mix flour, semolina, salt and olive oil. In another small bowl, add little warm water(shouldn’t hurt your finger when you dip in) add yeast and sugar and dissolve well. Wait for a few minutes and you will see some foaming. Now add this to the dough. Now, I know you can add instant yeast directly to dry ingredients but I prefer doing it this way so I can be sure the yeast has activated. Feel free to add it directly to flour if you have worked with yeast previously.
  2.  Mix very well and make a nice dough by adding warm water. And at first its okay to add little extra water so you get nice sticky dough. Then take it off the bowl and knead knead knead for a good 15 minutes or so while adding drops of warm water every now and then. You will be pleasantly surprised to see a beautifully smooth dough as you keep kneading. When you get a nice bouncy feeling to the dough and a sore feeling to your arms, oil the bowl well and transfer the dough back to the bowl.​​ Also coat the surface of dough with oil.

    ​3. Cover and allow to rise for an hour or more.

    Once it’s risen well, punch the dough and take out all the air. So therapeutic I tell you!​

  3. Now divide dough into preferred sizes and dust some flour on the work surface or your regular roti board. Start rolling the balls into preferred shape round or oval. Roll it thicker than chapatis. Like a paratha maybe!
  4. Arrange each rolled out bread onto kitchen towels side by side. Cover and leave this to rise for another 30 mins. Might not rise too much but I read that this step helps with puffing up later while cooking. ​

  5. After 30 minutes or so, heat up a skillet, medium to low flame and cook each bread for about 40 secs in total.As you keep turning and cooking, you will see how beautifully it puffs up. Then take it out and place on clean kitchen towels. 
  6. Don’t stack immediately, wait for it to cool and then stack.
    Cover the stacked breads well and store in kitchen towels in room temperature or freeze them in freeze safe bags.

We love yoghurt and anything yoghurt based. And we are also partial to greek yoghurt. SO you can be sure we love Labneh..the strained yoghurt cheese that is just so so so good… When I finished making the breads, I started to crave for a good dip. I quickly took a cup of greek yoghurt onto a muslin cloth and allowed it strain for a couple of hours or so. But the longer you strain, the thicker and creamier it is.

Just before serving, I transferred it to a bowl and drizzled some extra virgin olive oil on top. You can add olives, fresh parsley, fresh oregano, za’tar spice on top of this. I didn’t have any of these in stock. But trust me this stuff is rich and delicious on its own. It is good on toast, good on top of herbed vegetables, or simply get sweeping with some warm homemade pitas like we did.

As we are always greedy and want lots of food, I also made pan fried falafels with whatever ingredients I had. Because, it is not the original recipe without parsley,  I will not be posting the recipe for falafels in this post. But there are a lot of websites and youtube videos to learn from.

And this is the final platter I put together for dinner

Hoummus- store bought, homemade labneh, homemade falafels and homemade pitas. For the salad, I Had a bag of mixed leaves. To a cup of that I added grated carrots, fresh cut cucumbers and cherry tomatoes drizzled with some olive oil and add a bit of French mustard. 

 

I hope you enjoyed this post!

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My inability to deal with helplessness and a quiche recipe

If you have been reading my blog, then you may have read a couple of posts on how much I miss my homeland.It looks like I am never going to get over this feeling. Well, there is so much to love about the place where you grew up and where you have such wonderful memories. So, when you have been taken away from where your heart belongs, how do you cope up with home-sickness? I make endless calls back home, I make food that smells so much like my home and I sometimes simply sit down and sob like a loopy little girl.

And when I do hear that any of the family member has been poorly, I find it so hard to be away. It may have only been a fever or some sort of a regular ache/ infection which has been checked with doctors and given assurance that he/she will be fine in a couple of days,but being thousands of miles away, I never know to stay calm. I may not shout out loud or panic but it would show all over my face.This feeling of being away and not being there to check on your lovely people often makes me want to hate my life at times. I want to admit that I still haven’t found a good way to deal with helplessness other than annoy my husband and make a few dozen calls to disturb everyone back home in such situations.

Sorry to have taken you down the gloomy train, I am leaving you with a very colourful recipe to cheer you up and I am sure you will forgive me for everything else.

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This is one of the most easiest quiche/savoury pie you will ever make. If you call yourself a vegetarian but don’t mind eggs, then you may love this recipe a tad more because it is loaded with vegetables. You may want to add/omit any veggies of your choice.

Here is what you need :

If you don’t feel like making the base by yourself, then skip this bit and buy a ready-made tart case or savoury base.

For the pastry base

1.5 cups of plain flour

Half cup of cold butter

a pinch of salt

Ice cold water enough to make a firm dough

Dry beans for baking pastry initially

For the filling :

2 eggs

One cup of milk

Vegetables of your choice- finely chopped

I have used Sweet potato and mixed peppers for this recipe.

Butter to season the veggies with any herbs of your choice

Pastry Base :

Add salt to flour. Mix flour and butter till crumbly. Then gradually add cold water until you gather all the flour mixture to form a dough. Now, fold the dough and wrap in a foil or cling film and chill it in the fridge until you make your vegetable filling.Give it about 20 minutes atleast to chill.

It may now be a good idea to turn the oven on for pre-heating at 180 degree.

If using microwave, then follow instructions on the manual on how to turn the convection mode on your microwave and you can make delicious varieties of quiches.

Filling :

Heat a pan with some butter. Once melted, add the herbs. I used Italian seasoning dried herbs. Now add the vegetables and cook till soft. Add enough salt and pepper for the veggies. Switch off flame.

Take the eggs and beat well. Add it to the milk. Once the veggies have slightly cooled, pour the egg+milk into the veggies and give a good mix.

You can also add grated cheese at this point this to make it very rich and also use double cream instead of milk. 

Take the pastry out and roll it thinly and slightly bigger than the size of your pan on a floured surface. Now slowly tip the rolled out pastry onto the pan you are baking with. Trim the excess and do any sort of pattern with fork around the edges or simply press it down with your hand. Now bake this pastry with some beans for ten minutes in the preheated oven. After ten minutes, remove the beans and pour the vegetable+milk/egg  filling you prepared and spread evenly and gently. Put it back in the oven and bake till you see a beautiful brown crust around the edges of the pastry and a well set egg vegetable mix. It took me about 20 minutes in my age old oven.

quiche 3

Serve it warm with salad or just on its own for a nice sunny day lunch.

 

A few ways I embarrass my better-half and a tikka recipe.

I do feel that the husband-wife relationship is probably the most funniest of all relationships. At least, in my case it is. Well, purely because, I never fail to amuse him and so does he. Oh but I am the agreed winner when it comes to being an total embarrassment. I hope at least by writing it all down, I will learn to grow up and act rather lady-like.

  1. Love for noisy eating- I cannot help but be plainly honest on this one. I eat a lot and making all kinds of noise like aaahh, mmmm( sometimes you may even hear me chewing) gives me a deep sense of satisfaction. But my ever so polite husband is hugely embarrassed while dining out with me. Even while we go to an okayish place, I am still making noise out of disappointment because my food wasn’t to my expectations.
  2. Many good things come in small packages – My love for little things – I am a sucker for small things. Sometimes, I don’t mind paying more than its worth as long it is small and pretty. For e.g, on our way back home from our holiday recently, I had bought a lovely pot of yoghurt (made of plain glass-nothing too fancy) but looked very good to me for the price. This pot kept me dreaming of what I would use for after I have finished the yoghurt. And reality hit me when the airpot security told me off as I couldn’t carry that size in my hand baggage. They were kind enough to let me finish the yoghurt and take the bottle empty if I wanted. And like a silly young woman, I ate all of it in front of them in two minutes and was then allowed to carry it. So, while all this happened, my husband still kept his cool. But I knew, he was wondering how on earth could I come up with such new ways of embarrassing him. But all that mattered to me was bringing that darn pot home and I did.
  3. Talking loud – Well, coming from a place like India, how many of us talk slow and low toned? I don’t always talk loud but sometimes it just happens when I really have to convey my point. I know being loud makes no guarantee that I will win any argument but at least I have got him listening. But, honestly, I am way better now than I used to be. Thanks to my new role as a mother that has helped me tone down drastically.
  4. My OCD rules- Ever so embarrassing. I would ask him to check the refrigerator door a hundred times before we hit the bed. I would ask him about thrice if the doors were locked. I would ask him to check on the lights a few times. I would ask him to make sure his wardrobe door wasn’t kept open while we are off to bed. He really is one cool-headed man for he deals with these awkward things every single day.
  5. My rather amazing sense of spacial awareness- While we go out together, It feels as if I don’t have to worry about being dangerously close to someone or something. Somehow, I take it for granted that I won’t be hurt. But fate has it that I always end up hurting myself more in some small way when I go with my husband than when I am alone. These kind of things happen at supermarkets mostly. Incase, you didn’t know, a majority of them are huge and have dodgy trolleys here. While we are there shopping,  I am half the time dreaming of what new vegetable to buy or what new ingredient I could add to my existing recipes. So, I am kind of not really paying attention to who is around. For the record, I have got my feet badly stamped by a rather giant footed man who obviously saw me standing and doing the packing at the till.  And now my ever so practically-thinking husband points to me by saying I should have worn proper shoes and also looked around before I started packing. Well, little did I know or expect that I would get hurt if I walked into a store with a flip-flop. Well, many people do don’t they? But why is it that I am the one who gets caught up?  The reason is simple, my sense of spacial awareness is very poor and had I been mindful enough to see that giant man earlier than that, I would’ve been more careful and stood an inch away. But I didn’t and I went ahead blocking the way and ended up getting hurt.

These are just a few things I am a regular at. Besides these, I have had my fair share of moments where I have dropped things off the floor and looked very clumsy too. If truth be told, I am only getting better by the minute. I am also looking forward to hearing what my son thinks of all this in a few years. I am only hoping to not embarrass him as much although I do have a few ideas already 😉

In order to save myself from all the embarrassment, I do make things that make my boys go oooooo and aaaahhhh. For e.g, I make a decent variety of food to begin with. So today, being Easter sunday, I cooked Salmon tikka and a vegetarian version with paneer, some potato wedges and simple cumin spiced rice. And a very easy vanilla yoghurt with berries to finish it all on a sweet note. My husband gave me a big thumbs up for the salmon. I want to admit it that this probably was my best attempt in making a good tikka. It was delicious and full of flavour.

lucnh 2

So, in case any of you are interested in the tikka recipe, here is what you will need 🙂

Choose any vegetable or meat of your choice. ( Some suggestions for a vegetarian version include broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes and cottage cheese too)

To make the basic tikka marinade: 

  1. Hung curd/yoghurt – This is the result of hanging up some yoghurt in a muslin cloth for a couple of hours atleast to drain the water. The longer it is kept for draining, the thicker and creamier your yoghurt will be. I left mine for four hours. 
  2. Ginger garlic paste- 
  3. Green chilli paste – roughly pounded in a mortar and pestle or you can even grind it coarsely
  4. Cumin powder
  5. Garam masala
  6. Kashmiri chilli powder
  7. Turmeric
  8. A few saffron strands
  9. Kasuri Methi or dried fenugreek leaves
  10. Salt 

These are the ingredients for the marinade. Depending on the quantity of fish/vegetable, make a marinade by carefully mixing all the above. If you are making it with fish, then DO a salt check before you add to the raw fish. Then gently coat the fish and vegetables and leave it to marinate for atleast 30 minutes. And now bake/grill in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or till you see some dark roasting spots here and there. If you don’t have an oven or you are too lazy to use the one you have, then You can also pan fry these with some butter or oil on a medium flame till its all cooked through well.

Today, along with the salmon, I added cubes of red and green peppers/capsicum and onions. I marinated all of these together and it took me about 20 minutes in my oven to get that roasted look. Finally, squeeze very little lemon before serving.

This can be had with any flatbread for a hearty lunch or just had on its own for a light meal.

easy dessert

 

This was our dessert. Since, I did not have much time today, I just added some vanilla paste and few sprinkles of sugar to plain greek yoghurt and layered it with strawberries and blueberries. It was solely for the darling son who loves berries and yoghurt. However, It was rather scrumptious and we enjoyed it too. On that note, A very Happy Easter to you and yours!

Pistachio-almond cake!

best cake 1

So, I have been going to these cooking sessions with my little man for the past few weeks. To be honest, I enjoy it more than him because he is under strict control as it is not our own kitchen to mess about.So basically, he is not allowed to have much fun. He is at an age where he wants to help so much which is outrageously cute but can’t do much other than washing and throwing around vegetables. The other day, I thought I should give him a little more responsibility and asked him to sprinkle some Hing powder in the cooked pot of dal, and he ended up throwing the entire container in it. And much to my surprise, I took it so lightly and laughed it all out just to make him feel good for willing to help. Oh, these kind of moments are the best.

Let’s move onto a very easy recipe for a delicious cake. This cake needs no occasion. You can make it as you please and feel the warmth it brings to the soul. It is truly scrumptious. This is going to be one of those recipes that I am going to keep forever.

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Pardon my rather silly idea of posting a handwritten recipe note than typing it all out…. So, If you find difficulties reading any or all of it, then please give a shout.

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