O Is For.. Orange Kheer| Komola Lebur Kheer

When I learnt, recently, about Orange Kheer, I knew I had the dish that I wanted to make for the Alphabet Cooking Challenge, for the letter O. Oranges and kheer – does that sound like a weird combination? It did to me, initially, but when I had read up a whole lot about it, it didn’t sound so weird after all.

Apparently, Orange Kheer is a Bengali specialty, made during the winters, when orange season has set in, and they are available in plenty in the markets, sweet and juicy. Now, sweet fruit and milk – that isn’t a weird combination at all, right?🙂

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Oranges are called Komola Lebu in Bengali, and hence, this sweet dish is popularly known as Komola Lebur Kheer. It is traditionally made the same way we make rice kheer or poha kheer, by cooking milk constantly over a low flame, reducing it to more than half ot its original quantity. Newer versions, though, are quicker and easier – they include the addition of cream or condensed milk to thicken the milk faster and add greater taste.

I made the kheer last week, the traditional, long-winded way, and all of us at home loved it to bits. It turned out just beautiful, a lovely way to use those glorious, juicy oranges when they are in season.

Here is how I made the kheer. I followed this recipe, mostly.

Ingredients (makes 2-3 servings):

  1. 500 ml full-fat milk (I used Nandini)
  2. 3 medium-sized ripe, sweet, juicy oranges (I used Kamala oranges, aka ‘Loose Jacket’ oranges, available in plenty this time of the year in Bangalore)
  3. 2 generous pinches of cardamom (elaichi) powder
  4. 4 heaped tablespoons of sugar, or to taste
  5. Roasted almonds (unsalted), to garnish – slivered

Method:

1. Take the milk in a large heavy-bottomed pan, and place it on a high flame. Let it come to a rolling boil, and then reduce the flame to low.

2. Cook the milk on a low flame till it reduces to less than half of its original quantity and acquires a nice, creamish colour. Stir intermittently, to ensure that the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. While the milk is cooking, get the oranges ready. Peel all 3 oranges and separate the segments. Remove all the white fragments and seeds from the segments, and separate the flesh into small portions, using your hands. Keep aside.

4. When the milk has reduced, add the sugar and cardamom powder. Mix well, and cook for 3-4 minutes more. Switch off the gas.

5. Let the kheer cool down completely and come to room temperature, and only then add the orange flesh to it. Mix well.

6. Leave the kheer, covered, to rest for at least 3-4 hours before serving. This allows the orange flesh  to infuse the milk with its beautiful flavour and fragrance. You can either keep the kheer in a cool place in your kitchen or let it chill in the refrigerator till you are ready to serve it. This kheer tastes best when made in the night, allowed to rest overnight and then served the next morning. Garnish the kheer with the slivers of roasted almonds.

You like? I hope you will try this out, too!

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This is an entry for the Alphabet Cooking Challenge, for the letter O.

 

Pressure-Cooker Brown Rice Risotto

As promised, I am here with one of the recipes that I learnt at the Diabetic Masterclass that I went to some time back. This recipe is tried and tested in my kitchen, and has been tweaked to suit my family’s tastes and preferences.

This risotto tastes delish, with or without the grated cheese I used to garnish it. I made it in a pressure cooker, so cooking was super fast and easy, too. What’s more, this is super healthy as well! All of us know how good brown rice is for us, and the home-made vegetable stock I used to cook the rice is loaded with the goodness of a whole lot of veggies. What more would you want from a dish?!

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Here is how I made the risotto.

Ingredients (Serves 4-5):

  1. 2 glasses brown rice (I used Daawat)
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. Black pepper powder, to taste
  4. 5-1/2 glasses of vegetable stock (I used this recipe to make the stock – yielded exactly 5-1/2 glasses)
  5. A handful of fresh green peas
  6. 1 medium-sized onion, chopped length-wise
  7. A small piece of cabbage, finely chopped
  8. A large piece of red pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  9. A few florets of cauliflower, each chopped into halves or quarters
  10. 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
  11. 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  12. Grated processed cheese to serve, as much as required (I used Amul)

Method:

  1. Take the oil in a pressure cooker bottom. Let it heat up.
  2. Add in the crushed garlic cloves, chopped onion, red pumpkin, cabbage and green peas. Saute on a high flame for a couple of minutes.
  3. While the vegetables are being sauteed, wash the brown rice in running water, thoroughly. Drain out all the excess water, and add the washed brown rice to the pressure cooker bottom.
  4. Mix well, and cook for a minute or two.
  5. Add in the vegetable stock, as well as the salt and pepper powder to taste. Mix well.
  6. Once the stock comes to a boil, close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on.
  7. Allow 3 whistles on high flame and switch off the gas. Let the pressure come down naturally.
  8. Serve the risotto warm, with processed cheese grated generously on top.

Notes:

  1. Brown rice typically takes a long, long, long time to cook, and even then is quite chewy. I used Daawat brown rice, because it cooks faster and is relatively less chewy. It makes for just the perfect texture for a risotto, neither overcooked nor overly chewy – just right.
  2. You can use whatever vegetables you like to make the risotto, but try to use red pumpkin. The red pumpkin adds a lovely sweet taste to the risotto.
  3. The rice for risotto is traditionally cooked in an open pan, but I have used a pressure cooker here to make things faster and easier.
  4. If you want your risotto to be more liquid in texture, add in more stock. Mine came out not firm, but not liquid either – it was just right for us. Feel free to tweak the vegetable stock quantity you use to suit your taste preferences.
  5. You could use cream or milk to make the risotto richer, but I avoided that in order to make a healthier version. If you are diet conscious, you could skip the grated cheese as well – the risotto tastes just fine without it, too.
  6. You could make the vegetable stock in advance and refrigerate it. So, when you are making the risotto, all you have to do is pull the stock out of the fridge.
  7. I made the vegetable stock in my pressure cooker too, using some zucchini, cauliflower, beans, carrot, garlic, onion, cabbage and bottle gourd. You could use any vegetables (and even cheese!) to make your stock
  8. My mother felt there was a lot of ‘vegetable smell’ in the risotto, considering that I cooked it entirely using vegetable stock. My husband and I loved it the way it was, though. If you are like my mother, you might want to cook the risotto using half water and half vegetable stock.
  9. This risotto is inspired by the original recipe shared with us at the Diabetic Masterclass I attended a while back. I have made several changes to the original recipe, though, to suit my family’s palate and for faster cooking. Do let me know in case you need the original recipe, and I could e-mail it to you.

Thai Vegetarian Green Curry (With Lemon Balm)| No Oil Recipe

I love, love, love the fragrance of lemon. So, it was no surprise that I fell in love with the fresh lemon balm growing at First Agro, when we came across it on our visit to the farm. With our last order of veggies from First Agro, I placed an order for some lemon balm, too, though I had no clue then what I would do with it.

No, lemon balm is not the same as lemongrass, that be all of Thai cuisine. Neither is it a balm that comes in a bottle.🙂 It is a herb that grows wild in certain parts of the world, and has a gorgeous smell of lemon. The regular consumption of lemon grass has several health benefits, as I later read up on the Internet – including alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression, bringing down increased heart beat due to nervousness, reducing blood pressure, treating sleeplessness, treating Alzheimer’s Disease, relieving menstrual cramps and digestive ailments, headaches and toothaches.

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Lemon balm from First Agro

I decided to make a Thai vegetable green curry using lemon balm (instead of the lemon grass that is typically used to make it). The green curry is something I never ventured to make before, because I just assumed it would be a tough, tough job. It so wasn’t tough to make the curry – in fact, I made it in minutes. Beginner’s luck or whatever, it turned out lovely. What amazed me was the fact that I was able to make this super flavourful curry using absolutely zero oil!

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Thai vegetable green curry, using whatever ingredients I had on hand

I had to make certain substitutions to the ingredients originally used to make the curry, too. For instance, I couldn’t find any galangal, so I used Indian ginger instead. And then, of course, I used lemon balm instead of lemon grass. I used the vegetables that I had on hand. Purists might baulk at this curry, but I would say the taste was beautiful, very, very close to the original Thai vegetable green curry I have had in Thailand. So, yay to that!

I must say I was hugely inspired by this recipe and this one.

Here’s how I made the curry.

Ingredients (about 4 servings):

For the green paste:

  1. 1 cup fresh lemon balm leaves, stalks removed (loosely pressed)
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  4. 2 green chillies (or to taste), stems removed and chopped
  5. 8-10 stalks of fresh coriander, with leaves, chopped
  6. 5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  7. 1 tablespoon coriander seeds (dhania)
  8. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  9. 1 tablespoon sugar

Other ingredients:

  1. 3 cups of chopped vegetables (I used green peas, baby corn, cauliflower florets, zucchini, capsicum, beans, carrot, and onion)
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. A handful of fresh lemon balm leaves, stalks removed
  4. 1 cup of thick coconut milk (I used an entire Dabur Homemade 200 ml pack)
  5. A dash of fresh lemon juice
  6. A few stalks of fresh coriander and leaves, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Grind all the ingredients for the green paste together, in a mixer, using a little water. Make a paste. Keep aside.
  2. Take the chopped vegetables in a heavy-bottomed pan, along with about a cup of water. Add salt to taste, and mix well. Cook the vegetables, covered, on medium flame till they get tender, about 10 minutes. Stir intermittently. Make sure you do not overcook the vegetables, they should get just cooked but retain their crunch (otherwise, the curry will turn out tasteless).
  3. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the green paste that you ground earlier, the lemon balm leaves, as well as the coconut milk. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring intermittently, till everything is well combined together. At this stage, if you feel the curry is too thick, add a bit more water and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  4. Switch off the gas, and add the dash of lemon juice and finely chopped coriander. Mix well.
  5. Serve warm with basmati rice.

Notes:

  1. If you are able to get your hands on galangal, use it to make the curry. If you don’t have any, though, Indian ginger works just fine. Likewise, I used ordinary Indian green chillies to make the curry, but you could use bird’s eye chillies instead, too.
  2. If you are unable to find any fresh lemon balm, use lemon grass to make this curry instead.
  3. Broccoli, mushrooms, paneer, tofu, pre-cooked soya chunks, and cucumber would go extremely well in this curry, I think. I didn’t have any of these, so I didn’t use them. Whatever veggies you use, just make sure you chop them all almost the same size (for uniform cooking) and use 3 cups in total.
  4. If you don’t like the idea of using store-bought coconut milk, you could make your own at home. There are a whole lot of recipes online that teach you how to go about it.
  5. Basmati rice makes for a wonderful combination with this green curry. You could use ordinary rice instead, but I would advise against that.
  6. Do not cook the curry too much after you add the coconut milk, otherwise it will curdle. Just simmer it for a few minutes, on low-medium flame.
  7. If you have kaffir lime leaves, you could add them to the curry too, while you add the veggies. I didn’t have any, so I skipped that, but I think the fresh lemon balm more than made up for it.
  8. Increase or decrease the quantity of coconut milk you use in the curry, to suit your taste preferences.

You like? I hope you will try this out at home, too!

 

Calcutta Diaries: The Weirdness That Was Doodh Cola

A while ago, one of the foodie Facebook groups that I follow had a post about something that I had never heard of before – Doodh Cola, a mix of milk and cola that many claimed to love to bits. The said drink is served at Balwant Singh’s Eating House in Calcutta, a dhaba which once churned it out on a whim (apparently), only to have it become hugely popular.

I happened to read the post just before we left for our Calcutta trip, and was desperate to try out the drink right from the very minute we landed in the city. I got an opportunity to do so a couple of days into the trip, when we visited Victoria Memorial and learnt that Balwant Singh’s Eating House was just a few minutes away from there. So, we hired a cab to take us there (at hugely inflated rates, because no one else we asked seemed to know the place), and he dropped us right at the spot.

We opted to sit in the non-airconditioned seating area of the restaurant, which was nothing more than a few tables and chairs put together in a decent-sized room. The menu was handed over to us – a pamphlet similar to the advertisement flyers that come with the daily newspaper. The ambience was much like that of a roadside dhaba, and we had no qualms with that.

After this, though, our visit turned downhill, I am sorry to say.

We ordered a Green Salad, about six phulka rotis, a Mushroom Masala, and a Chana Masala, and waited for our meal to arrive expectantly. Sadly though, nothing – absolutely nothing – tasted good. The salad vegetables weren’t even chopped well, the curries were spicy and oily and tasted absolutely meh, the rotis were thick and tough.

We persevered, and asked for the Doodh Cola, the supposed star of our dhaba visit, only to be told that we would have to buy a 1-litre jug, as they prepare it only in that particular quantity. We agreed, and were brought the drink in a plastic jug. Our spirits sank on seeing it – it looked sad, like split milk, with pieces of ice floating on top. It tasted sadder – very, very weird. To be honest, we found it unpalatable and the OH refused to drink it beyond a couple of sips. I gulped down one large kulhad full of it, just because I didn’t want to waste all of it, much against the feeling of queasiness that started welling up in my stomach with every sip. The rest of it, we left as is.

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Doodh Cola at Balwant Singh Eating House

Sometimes, unheard-of combinations of foods/drinks can actually taste good, but this Doodh Cola was definitely not one such.

The meal was expensive, considering the ambience and the taste. It cost us close to INR 650, with the Doodh Cola itself costing us about INR 150.

Service was all right, nothing fantabulous, but not too bad either.

I’m not sure whether I’ll be going back to this place, the next time we are in Calcutta. Sad, considering that it is one of the few places in the city that serves pure vegetarian food, catering to people like the OH and me.

Have you ever eaten at this place? What was your experience like?

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You might also be interested in reading about the other seemingly crazy things we have tried out so far: Sea salt chocolate, chandan sherbet, momo burger and chocolate momo, ice cream rolls, ice cream chaat, bhoo chakra gadde, rasgulla chaat, chilli chocolate, fried ice cream, and paper sweet.🙂

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Have you read the other posts about our recent trip to Calcutta? Please do, if you haven’t already!

Calcutta Vignettes

Calcutta Diaries: Pastry Sampling At Flury’s, Park Street

Calcutta Vignettes – 2

Visiting Nahoum’s, One Of Calcutta’s Oldest Surviving (Jewish) Bakeries

Calcutta Vignettes – 3

Calcutta Diaries: Of Hogging Street-Side Jhal Muri

N Is For… Nutella Delight, 4 Ways| Easy Dessert Idea

Every time I visit Ajfan Dates & Nuts, that paradise for foodies and bakers, I am awed by the sheer variety of goodies that they have on offer, as well as their uniqueness. More often than not, whenever I go to Ajfan, I end up buying stuff that my expanding waistline begs me not to buy. If you have visited the place yourself, you will know why I get so tempted, why I buy unique ingredients and then think up recipes to use them in. If you have never been to the place, I heartily urge you to do so. (Ajfan has a few outlets in Bangalore, including HSR Layout, Frazer Town and Jayanagar).

The last time I went to the wonderland that is Ajfan, recently, I ended up picking up some dried small oranges in sugar syrup that tasted just fantabulous – with a hint of bitter from the rind, the natural sour of the oranges, and the sweet from the sugar syrup. The OH and I began snacking on them, rather unhealthily, a couple at a time. So, I decided that I had better do something with them before we exhausted all of them.

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Dried small oranges from Ajfan – gorgeousness!

Inspired by the recipes for ‘dessert pizzas’ and ‘warm desserts’ that I read about recently, I decided to use these oranges to make some warm Nutella pizzas. That way, I would also be using up the bottle of Nutella that I bought some time ago. Two mangoes at the throw of a single stone, you see?

The Nutella pizzas came out fabulous, I must say. All of us loved them to bits – we gorged on them like anything, and I am sure I’ll be making more of them in the times to come.

I made four different variations of the Nutella pizza: Orange & Nut, Cranberry & Nut, Banana, and Orange. We liked all of them, honestly, but my personal favourite was the Cranberry & Nut. The OH loved the Banana one the most.

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Orange & nut (left) and cranberry & nut (right) Nutella pizzas
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Banana (left) and Orange (right) Nutella pizza

Here’s how I made the pizzas.

Ingredients (makes 4 slices):

  1. 4 slices of bread (I used whole wheat bread)
  2. 4 heaped tablespoons of Nutella
  3. 1/2 medium-sized ripe banana (not overly ripe, peel and cut into slices)
  4. A few dried cranberries (picked them up from Ajfan, too)
  5. A few dried small oranges (from Ajfan, chopped up into small pieces)
  6. 1 cube of processed cheese (I used Amul – grated)
  7. A few roasted and salted almonds (I used Rostaa – chopped)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.
  2. When the oven is ready, toast the bread slices at about 160 degrees for 10 minutes.
  3. Spread one tablespoon of Nutella on one side of each slice of bread. Lay them out on a plate, Nutella side up.
  4. Spread out the grated cheese on three of the bread slices, above the Nutella.
  5. Spread out the banana slices on the bread slice without the cheese. (This is the Banana version)
  6. Bake all the slices at about 160 degrees, for about 10 minutes, or till the cheese melts. (One slice with banana and the rest with cheese)
  7. Get the bread slices out of the oven, and assemble the pizzas instantly.
  8. For the Banana version, garnish with some slivers of roasted, salted almonds. Serve immediately. I served this as is, without the almonds.
  9. For the Orange & Nut version, layer some chopped dried oranges and roasted, salted almonds over a bread slice with Nutella and melted cheese. Serve immediately.
  10. For the Cranberry & Nut version, layer some dried cranberries and roasted, salted almonds over a bread slice with Nutella and melted cheese. Serve immediately.
  11. For the Orange version, spread some chopped dried oranges over a bread slice with Nutella and melted cheese. Serve immediately.

You like? I hope you will try these out, too!

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Notes:

  1. This is an entry for the Alphabet Cooking Challenge, for the letter N.
  2. I happen to love Ajfan and the goodies they have on offer. I write about the place here, simply because I would love for you to visit it, too. I don’t stand to receive any kind of gain by recommending Ajfan to you. The views expressed herein about the place are entirely my own.
  3. If you have pizza dough handy, you can use it to make these pizzas. I didn’t, so I used bread instead.
  4. The Nutella and the cheese are integral components of this pizza, I would say. Apart from that, you can use any sort of toppings that you like. Just get those creative juices flowing!

Potato Roast With Fresh Thyme

We have been ordering veggies from First Agro, after our recent visit to the farm. Apart from the usual stuff like okra, cucumbers and carrots, I have been tempted to sneak in one or two exotic (well, at least to me!) stuff into each order. Fresh thyme, for instance, or black radishes. How can I not be tempted, when they have so many gorgeous, new things to try out?🙂

The latest ‘exotic’ thing I got – with my last order – was some fresh thyme. It smells heavenly, and the scent lingers long on my hands and clothes long after I have finished stripping the leaves off the sprigs and storing them in an air-tight box in the refrigerator.

I am also loving the thinking up of recipes where I can accommodate these new things. For instance, I used some of the fresh thyme in a lemon-thyme rasam, and some more in a simple potato roast. Both were huge hits at home!

Today, I am going to tell you how I made the potato roast with thyme, the idea for which came from this long-ago recipe that had been stored in some part of my brain.

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Here’s how I made the curry.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 6 medium-sized potatoes, cut into quarters
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. Red chilli powder, to taste
  5. 2 heaped tablespoons of fresh thyme (just the leaves, stripped from the stem – use dried thyme if you aren’t able to get hold of it fresh)
  6. 4 teaspoons oil
  7. A pinch of asafoetida
  8. 2 teaspoons mustard

Method:

  1. Pressure cook the chopped potatoes, adding just enough water to immerse them. Give them 4 whistles. Let the pressure come down completely, and then open the cooker. Dispose off the water in which the potatoes were boiled, and run cold water over them. When the potatoes are comfortable enough to handle, peel them and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to splutter. Now, add the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds.
  3. Now, turn down the flame to medium, and add the turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder to taste. Immediately add the quartered, peeled and boiled potatoes and the thyme. Mix well, with a gentle hand, ensuring that the potatoes do not break.
  4. Let the potatoes cook on low-medium flame for 4-5 minutes, stirring gently, intermittently. The stirring will also make sure the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Check for seasoning, and add more salt and/or chilli powder if needed. Mix well.
  6. Switch off the gas. Serve hot, with rasam rice or rotis.

Notes:

  1. I have deliberately kept the recipe very simple and the ingredients few, so that the flavour of the thyme comes through the dish beautifully. If you want to, you could add in onions, tomatoes, chaat masala, curry leaves and/or amchoor powder.
  2. I used lesser oil to make this dish, as compared to the amount that is usually used in making potato roast. If you are okay with more oil, do add in as much as you want to.
  3. You could even let the potatoes stick to the bottom of the pan, and form a sort of crust. That is yummy, indeed!

You like?