Malai Kofta (Cottage Cheese dumplings in a rich tomato gravy)

“What’s in a name?” quoted Shakespeare. “Lot’s”, I’d say, if the name is “Malai Kofta”. And so, as promised on my facebook page, here is the recipe for this culinary equivalent of the hydrogen bomb.

I must not hesitate to admit that this was one of the more difficult dishes I’ve made. What sets this dish apart this that it is that although it is extremely popular (almost a “cannot-do-without) at wedding functions and large festivals, it is rarely made at the home kitchen. This mildly spiced, almost sweetish gravy is a combination of finely blended spices and enriched with cream, onion and tomatoes. Can I see you salivating already?

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Let me tell you, making this dish is a long drawn and elaborate process; however, it will be worth the effort when you have a soft, perfectly fried koftas covered with creamy gravy, that you will want to share with your family and friends.

The taste queens loved it, and I’m sure you will as well.

Go ahead, indulge!!

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Malai Kofta

For the Koftas:- (will yield about 18 medium sized koftas)

  • 220 grams Paneer (Cottage Cheese)
  • 80 grams dried fruits; roughly chopped (I used almonds and raisins)
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour (and some more for dusting)
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt to taste

For the Gravy:-

  • 1 cup boiled onion paste
  • 1½ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 3 tablespoons cashew paste
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 green chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 3 tablespoons ghee (Clarified butter)
  • 1 cup fresh cream (I skipped this)
  • Whole Spices (2 green cardamoms, 1 black cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon stick, 1 small bay leaf)
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves for garnishing.

Procedure:

To make the kofta’s:-

  • Heat a pan on a low flame, dry roast the almonds and raisins till they change colour. Once done allow them to cool and then chop them roughly.
  • In a bowl, roughly grate the cottage cheese, add 1 tablespoon corn flour, salt and mash it together such that it forms a single lump.
  • Now take a lemon sized piece and roll it well between your palms. Then make a small well in the center and fill in some of the chopped dry fruits. Cover the well and roll it once again between the palms of your hand. Repeat the process with the other Koftas.  Dust each kofta with corn flour and keep aside.
  • Fry the koftas in oil on a low flame till they are bright orange in colour. Frying on a slow flame will ensure that the Koftas are cooked right to the center and pass the ultimate test of being crisp on the outside and soft inside.
  • Once done remove and drain on an absorbent paper.

For the gravy:-

  • In a heavy bottomed pan heat ghee, and add in the whole spices. Sauté spices till you have a fragrant aroma from them.
  • Once the spices are done, add the onion paste and allow it to cook till the oil leaves the sides. Now, add the ginger garlic paste and stir well, allowing to cook.
  • Add the cashew paste and mix well till the onion and cashew paste have integrated well. This will take time. You will know it’s done when the mixture moves around the pan in a single lump.
  • Now, add the spice powders, green chillies.
  • Once the spice powders have integrated well, add in the tomato paste and puree & salt. Allow this to cook well. If required, add in a cup of water at this point.
  • If you are using cream, add it in at this point.
  • Add the koftas in the gravy and give it a stir.
  • Serve hot garnished with coriander leaves and  accompanied with parathas

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Sichuan Fried Rice!

If you have been following my blog, you would have realized by now that after Indian, my favorite cuisine is Chinese. I can go on and on raving about the simplicity and versatility of Chinese food, but one blog would not be enough..  lol.

Here is another gem from the vast treasury of Chinese one –pot wonders, Sichuan Fried Rice. Once again the ‘go-to’ meal for those times when you want to have complete meal, but do not have the energy or bandwidth to go the mile. The best thing is that it gets done in a jiffy. I have tried the vegetarian version, you could use chicken, bacon or egg if you wish.
I served it with the Singapore Black Pepper Prawns and a very special ingredient called love. Try it, I’m sure the taste will multiply manifold.
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Sichuan Fried Rice
Ingredients:
  •   1 cup pre-cooked rice
  •    ½ cup grated cabbage
  •    ½ cup grated carrot
  •    1 bulb spring onion
  •    50 ml white vinegar
  •    2-3 dried red chillies
  •    5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  •    1 inch piece ginger, minced
  •     2 tablespoon soya sauce
  •     2 tablespoon Oil.
  •     Salt- to taste
Method:
  • Soak the red chillies in the white vinegar and keep aside for half an hour
  • In a wok or a deep bottomed pan, heat oil till just before smoking point.  Add the ginger, garlic and let it cook for a while.
  • Add the vegetables (cabbage, carrot) and the spring onion greens and give it a stir. The vegetables do not take a long time to cook
  • Now, add the red chillies and give it a mix.
  • Add some of the rice, and 1 tablespoon soya sauce and stir well. Repeat the same with the other batch of rice and the remaining soya sauce, salt and keep stirring.
  • Add the vinegar and mix well.
  • Ensure the vegetables and sauce have mixed well with the rice.
  • Serve hot garnished with spring onion greens.

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Singapore Black Pepper Prawns

One of the best things about living in Mumbai is the access to a variety of seafood. Now, for someone like me who loves seafood, prawns are the ultimate comfort food. The other day, my mum happened to get some absolutely lovely king prawns and I almost jumped with joy and excitement.

Considering how versatile prawns are, the question was what to make of them. Many options were considered, “Prawns Ghassi”, “Jhinga Tandoori”, “Prawns Biryani” were very close contenders, but we also realized that it was a while since we had some Oriental food and so, we decided to cook something that is synonymous with Singapore, the “Singapore Black Pepper Prawns”.IMG_1460

For those of you who have visited Singapore, there is no way you have missed the two culinary landmarks there, “Singapore Chilli Crab” &“Singapore Black Pepper Prawns”. Strangely, I tasted this not on a trip to Singapore, but in Dubai. The hotel where I stayed had an awesome Oriental restaurant. One of the nice things of the place was the chef would recommend the dish to suit your preference and to a certain extent customize your order. Considering it was so heavily spiced with pepper, I was a bit apprehensive at first, but two bites later, I was already in love with the combination. Let me tell you, it almost set my tongue on fire but it was worth every bit.

The only seasoning is the pepper and that actually carries the dish along and the oyster sauce lends the oomph. My suggestion is to use King prawns, they go well with the ruggedness of the pepper and that sudden blast of spice just at the back of your head will make it an experience you will want to come back again and again.

Please do give it a try, I’m Sure you”ll enjoy it!

Singapore Black Pepper Prawns

Ingredients:

  • 600 grams King Prawns (please retain the tail)
  • ½  cup whole black peppercorns (If you like it more spicier, increase the quantity)
  • 10 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh Ginger, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Peanut oil
  • 2 Tablespoon Oyster Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • Spring Onions Greens – for garnishing

Procedure:

  • Dry roast the pepper corns till they begin to crackle. Remove from the flame and grind them coarsely.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok. When the oil is hot, add in the prawns and toss lightly till they turn pink. This will take about a minute on high flame.
  • Now, add the remaining oil in the wok and add in the garlic and ginger and fry till they change colour.
  • Add both the sauces (Oyster & Soya) and stir well. Add the water and mix well.
  • Now add the prawns and stir so that the prawns are covered well with the sauce.
  • It’s now time to add the pepper and mix well.
  • Serve hot, garnished with the spring onion greens.

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Chocolate Fudge (With Walnuts and Raisins)

At the office, lunchtime discussions usually revolve around sports, movies and at times, current affairs. One such discussion revolved around what is the best invention in the history of mankind. We had a good time debating how inventions like electricity, telephone or even the atom bomb scored over one another when a colleague known for her wisecracks said “ it doesn’t matter who invented electricity, telephone etc, I guess the world’s best inventions are Kit-kat, Ferrero Rocher’s & Mars”. Her answer more or less closed the discussion with most of us agreeing that life is incomplete without chocolate.

There is there nothing that is not written about chocolate already, so I think I’ll leave my gyaan baazi (unnecessary knowledge sharing) for later.  What is interesting to note is that despite its versatility, chocolate is one of the most difficult ingredients to work with. In fact, you cannot work with chocolate, you need to gently seduce it to working with you. It can be done though, all it needs is a little bit of patience and confidence.

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Today’s, dish then is the outcome of our  families slight cravings for something sweet after a wholesome meal. It is especially for those times when you want just little sweet to round off on your palate and not  load yourself with calories  by having an ice cream or pastry. What better than the goodness of dates and raisins and of course, add in some chocolate and you have a desert ready. Not too filling, yet nice enough to satisfy those cravings and importantly gets done in a jiffy.

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Go ahead and try these babies, chocolate indulgence at its best!

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Chocolate Fudge (With Walnuts and Raisins)

  • 200 grams dark chocolate (chopped into fine pieces)
  • 100 ml of condensed milk
  • 50 grams walnuts (roughly chopped)
  • 50 grams raisins
  • A small blob of unsalted butter

Method:

  • Line a cake tin or a flat based box with butter paper and keep aside.
  • In a double boiler, place the chocolate, condensed milk, butter and salt. Allow the chocolate to melt and combine well with the other ingredients.
  • Once the chocolate and the other ingredients have combined well, add the walnuts and raisins give it a nice mix.
  • Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smoothen with the back of a flat spoon.
  • Refrigerate for a few hours and cut into squares and serve.