Round round stop!

Murukku: best for all times

Today’s post is by another very special person. G and I met almost 8 years back but have known each other for even longer! It just so happens that our fathers are great friends too. In fact uncle introduced dad to a number of yummy dishes from the state of Kerela. And today G shared a brilliant recipe which happens to be of one of my all time favourite snack: Murukku, a jalebi shaped savoury snack which tastes best at all times! So I present to you G, her bitter-sweet relationship with a certain snack called murukku and of course the recipe.

Well eons ago when I was younger, I wasn’t too fond of Murukks/Chakli since almost always they were either too spicy or too flavourless for me to indulge in. Also, munching on these brown beauties would make whoever sitting next to you feel two things – a) Either an enemy state has launched a surprise attack in your eardrum or b) It is the rumbling of an earthquake which even the Richter scale can’t measure! Well, neither of these two possibilities did any good for me or my poor victim unless I was in the mood for some neighbourly sadism. Growing up I began liking all varieties of these savoury snacks and now being a self-professed food connoisseur I was eager to try my hand at these beauties only to realise how simple they are; the only rider is that you be a little patient.

The one thing essential to making a Murukku, is a press (see picture), specifically designed to make savoury items like Sev,Idi appam etc. Choose the sieve that has the star shape to make Murukku also known as Mullu (thorn) Murukku where mullu refers to the jagged edge. Now that you have the press and the required shape, this is what you need for the dough.

Press for Murukku

Ingredients:

a)       Rice flour – 1 cup

b)       Urad flour – 1 cup

c)       Salt – 1 tsp or according to taste

d)       Butter –  1 to 2 tbsp

e)       Water

f)         Oil – to deep fry

 

Optional Ingredients:

 

 

g)       Red chilly pwdr – 1 or 2 tsp

h)       Cumin      – 2 or 3 tsp

i)         Black sesame seed –  2 or 3 tsp

j)         Asafoetida – 1/2 tsp

k)       Methi seeds – 1/2 tsp (only for soaking)

l)         Water to soak methi seeds – 1/2 cup

Well, there are a lot of ratios out there, but this particular rice:urad flour ratio has worked best for me. Rice flour is what makes it crunchy and urad adds a nice flavour to the snack. If you are using whole urad or urad four I strongly recommend dry roasting it.
I like my murukk to be very flavourful and if you do too then add all the optional ingredients.

Method:

a)       Combine all the ingredients above (except oil) in a bowl. If you are using the water that has methi seeds soaked, then retain the water and discard the seeds.

b)       Add water slowly and make it into a stiff dough. If the dough is soft then your murukku will also be soft.

c)       Once the dough is ready, make the round pattern on a paper towel first and then folding the edge of the towel to get the shaped dough into your hand and finally sliding it into the hot oil. This way you can ensure unity of pattern and fewer broken murukkus. Once it stops bubbling, take it out of the oil and drain on a paper towel. I recommend taking it out just one stage before the desired colour you want, since these deep-fried goodies tend to get darker out of the oil.

d)      Finally, when you are done with the dough, there still will be some remaining, replace the star sieve with a multiple holed sieve with which you can make sev. This sev will be crunchier and tastier; a great accompaniment to tea!

Sev

Sev

Thanks to G, we now have two recipes instead of just one! Yay!

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Vino vedi vici*

Guess who’s back on GG? Latin Sardar! And today he is sharing some happy (hic) news with us. Why don’t we launch straight into the post!

I’ve always considered myself some sort of a pioneer, always getting into things way ahead of my time. I was the first one in my circle of closest friends to get my hands on a personal computer, get a laptop, learn to cook and appreciate a good drink among other things. I know, I still have to get hold of some modesty. But I’m working on it.

Of all the things I’ve done (and I’m mighty proud of), I love the ones I got to share with some people who constitute a very important part of my life. One such moment was in summer of 2009 when Prerna was about to leave for Kerala to be married all over again to the same guy (I know, but he is an awesome guy and it’s a rather long story). It was the middle of May, the hottest time of the season and my birthday, so we decided to head out to a place where we could get a drink with some good food. We went to this Italian joint in South Delhi and ordered an assorted platter of grilled meats and a bottle of Sula Sauvignon Blanc, 2007. It was her first time with a white wine and Ithinkshe liked it because she was shoutingat me,  “boy, why are you still single?”. Those were the exact words used and that was the day I successfully converted a quintessentially rum & coke girl to a wine drinker.

Today, almost a year and a half to that day, I just wish she was in Delhi to accompany me to a wonderful wine tasting experience the other night. It was an event organized and hosted by ProChile India, the Chilean Embassy’s trade mission in New Delhi. I was there on invitation from Spot & Tell. My initial skepticism about going to the event was fueled by the fact that it was a real wine tasting and professional sommeliers would be present in the same room and I, for one, did not want to look stupid.

Luckily, I watch Travel Channel, some say a little too much, but that’s not the point. The point for the evening was Pisco, something I thought I’d never see unless I travel to Chile or Peru. It is a drink native to the region and essentially a liquor distilled from wine and is available in different varieties defined by the aging process. A good enough Pisco has a light yellow tinge, almost reminiscent of a commercial citrusy vodka. The more aged varieties have a deeper, far more richer color. The taste, despite of distillation of the young wine, retains a hint of citrusy, rather fruity extracts and a rather woody and smoky character to it.

Next in line that night was another first time for me, a wine made from a grape varietal I’d not heard of yet, Carménère. Originally from France, the Carménère was thought to be extinct in Europe after a wine crop plague that affected the region in 1867. However, it had been sitting pretty in the wine producing valleys of Chile, producing some excellent, deep red, medium bodied wine with a rather amazing bouquet. No two wines of the same varietal I tasted had the same character to it, a pleasant surprise for the palette.

Carménère was definitely the star of the night. However, other varietals were in no mood to be left behind. There were the usual Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons with nothing usual about them. Each bottle had its own bouquet of aromas and characters.

The wines I sampled last night were from the entry to the mid level on offer by Chilean vintners which should be available in the Rs.800-1500 bracket, with only a handful of offerings from experienced and much larger vintners like Miguel Torres crossing that mark. Two of the ‘must look out for’ bottles are the Manso de Velasco and the Cordillera from the Miguel Torres cellars. Most of these wines promise a great pairing with Indian food. The well-balanced, spicy and fruity flavors in each bottle promise a great time every time you open a new one.

Can’t wait to get my hands on one of these and begin with a festival of flavorful experiments in my own kitchen. Cheers!

P.S. Btw, if you want to read more about the festival and Chilean wine, you can do it here.

* So that’s Italian and not quite accurate, I know!

Yummy yummy in my tummy

I remember saying that this blog will be all about food and foodies. So this time I decided to let another foodie share his gastronomic secrets with us. Today’s entry comes from the kitchen of the Sardar who likes all things Latin.

Stroganoff
By LS:

I remember a trip to Seattle in the summer of 2006. It was a memorable one for me, my first trip to the US and that too with a special someone by my side. What followed was a week-long tryst with the road and some excellent food on the way. It was during that jaunt that I actually discovered a new flavor, rosemary.

After a long day’s drive, we had stopped along the way at a nameless, inconspicuous place where the hosts made the most fabulous stroganoff with some plain rice, which was my first time with beef and that amazing flavor. It was such an amazing experience that I had to implore our hosts to part with the recipe which saved the day for me not long ago. There was some bit of experimentation involved on my side, which, as most who’ve seen me cook know, is inevitable and usually produces quite good results. I did two versions of the same recipe, one with veggies – due to the presence of strict vegetarians among the crowd that day and another with lamb.

Ingredients

Lamb – ½ kg

Prefer it with bone, it tastes better that way and leave some of that fat on it. We’ll be using some wine with it, goes well with it.

White wine – 2 cups

Whatever tickles your fancy, be it chardonnay or riesling, sauvignon blanc or chenin or any other. We had a 2006 Chardonnay from Sonoma during the crisis few weeks back.

Oil – 2 tea spoon

I used refined olive oil (don’t use virgin or extra virgin, they don’t like the heat in the pan). But really, anything will do, you just need to sautè the veggies a bit.

Butter – 50-60 gms

Refined flour/corn flour – 2 tea spoons

Just to thicken the sauce.

Black pepper – just a few corns and just a pinch of crushed (if possible, not essential)

Rosemary – fresh or dried, any which way. Just a large pinch.

Thyme – same as the rosemary

Sour cream – 1 cup/200 gms

We did not have this at all and there was no way you could find sour cream in Noida at 10 in the morning. So, improvisation was the order of the day. We replaced this with a rather generous helping of mayonnaise (1 cup/200 gms). Almost the same ingredients anyway. To add the sourness, use 2 tea spoons of plain white vinegar.

Salt – to taste

Veggies

Mushrooms – just a few buttons, cleaned and halved or quartered

Carrots – 2 will be enough, chopped rather gingerly into cubes. I prefer the ones that have an orange hue, just coz that color looks much better with all the red meat.

Broccoli – just a handful of flowers, diced in half or quarters.

Baby corn – 5-6 or whatever makes you happy

Spring onions – 5-6 or whatever makes you happy

Bell peppers (capsicums) – 1 small bell each of red, green and yellow

Parsley – chopped up

Even coriander will do the trick, just some garnish. Coriander adds that citrusy zing to things which sadly, I find not so much in parsley.

Method

  1. In a cooking pot, add ½ a cup of the wine and a few gingerly crushed corns of black pepper, half a pinch of rosemary and thyme. Add the pieces of lamb to it, roll them around to cover them in the wine and spice mix. Leave it for about 30-45 mins and in the meantime make the remainder of the preparation with the veggies, clean’em, cut ‘em, dice ‘em.
  2. Heat up the rest of the wine and bring it to a sort of a boil. Put in the veggies to poach ‘em a bit, 3-4 mins is just fine. Take them out and put in the lamb-wine-spice mix through the same process. Add some more wine to the 2 cups mentioned above if you feel you’ll be running low on the stock. Keep that stock to cook the rice in.
  3. Melt the butter in a pan or a skillet and put in the lamb. Move it around a bit. You won’t need more than 50-60 gms of butter for ½ kg of lamb as it has some of its own fat which can be used up good. Let there be an evenly laid out light brown color on the lamb.
  4. In another cooking pot, heat the oil and start to sautè the vegetables as the lamb gets done. Add the lamb to the veggies and add the remainder of pepper corns, rosemary, thyme and some salt. Add half of the stock to this.
  5. You could make the sauce separately and add it to the veggies/mutton later. But I prefer to cook it with the sauce, to infuse every part of the dish with that lovely flavor of the herbs. Now, if you have sour cream, good. If you don’t, you can make use of the mayonnaise and vinegar like I did. Tip in the sour cream/mayo before the stock starts to disappear. If you are using mayonnaise, add a couple of tea spoons of plain white vinegar. You should have a rather thin consistency of the sauce at this point which can be taken care of easily by adding a tea spoon of corn flour. If you feel you need more, you can add the second tea spoon too, but one should do the trick.
  6. Let it simmer away till you get a thick consistency in the sauce and the veggies (especially carrots) and the lamb are thoroughly cooked.
  7. Oh! You’re done. Just garnish with chopped up greens of spring onions and parsley/coriander.

P.S. – Just leave out the mutton/chicken/beef for a vegetarian version of it.

For the rice

Like she said about the pulow, sizzle the cumin seeds, some bit of spring onions, add the washed and soaked rice, fry it around a bit. And when it’s time to add water (twice as much as the rice), add in the stock from earlier. Just make sure, the amount of water/stock (or a combination of both) is twice the amount of rice. When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to minimum and cover the pan. Cook away!

Trivia:

  • Stroganoff has its roots in 19th C Russia
  • There is a chance that the dish owes its name to some member of the large and important Stroganov family