Just over six months ago we embarked on a journey to the subcontinent. My husband, son and I left in late December to make a few stops along the way. Phuket and Kuala Lumpur were on the cards before getting to India, a country neither of us had been to, despite our Indian heritage. This was not a holiday by any means, our sole purpose was to attend the wedding of Abdullah’s sister (my wonderful sister in law), Aasiya. What we never expected was to leave feeling humbled, grateful and renewed.
India is an amazing place with amazing people and beautiful sights. One of the most enjoyable parts of our trip was definitely the wedding and the functions that preceded it. And coming a close second was the food, there is honestly nothing like Indian food, so intricate in flavour and colour. My favourite dish in India was anything that had paneer (an Indian cheese, looks like a block of fetta, texture and taste of cottage cheese).
It’s something I always order in an Indian restaurant here and usually cook with the frozen bags at home. As in India has a high population of vegetarians, paneer is extremely popular, and depsite having over 20 paneer dishes while in India, not one of them was the same, there was paneer in different types of curries, paneer with marinates that were grilled, paneer balls, crumbed paneer, paneer stuffed in chillies and vegies, and too many more to mention. Even after all that, I wasn’t sick of the paneer, and forunately for me, on my last day in India I watched an Indian chef on TV make paneer from scratch, I couldn’t believe how easy it was.
Since our trip, I have made paneer countless times, and there’s nothing like the fresh stuff, I’ll never go back to frozen again. I will be doing a recipe on how to make paneer from scratch sometime in the near future. For now, here’s a recipe using paneer.
Paneer Malai** Tikka
1/2 bunch corriander
3/4 tsp salt1 tsp ground cumin
1 whole green chilli
1 tblsp lemon juice
1/2 cup cream (**malai is an Indian term for cream)
Cut the paneer into cubes and set aside in a bowl. Grind all ingredients except for cream in a blender, once blended into a paste mix in cream. Pour over paneer and leave to marinate. Cook off on a medium to high heat in a about 1 tblsp oil. Serve with naan bread.
Variation: This recipe works well with chicken, just substitute the 500g paneer with 500g chicken pieces.
India is a definite must see and it’s a place I’m sure we’ll be visiting again. For now, enjoy some photos from our trip.
Try out this paneer malai tikka recipe, great with chicken as well. Oh and Happy 6 month Anniversary Aasiya and Salim!
With Ramadhaan right around the corner, I thought I might put together a few tips on making Ramadhaan a little more healthier. I’m not sure what Ramadhaan is like at your place, but at our place, Ifthaar is an array of deep fried goodies. I guess I can blame that on my Indian heritage. We usually try to compensate for the foods we missed during the day which is very unhealthy. This year I’m attempting a healthier Ramadhaan and here are a few tips:
1. Incorporate nutritious items onto the menu: including foods that are low GI to for a more sustained energy release, porridges such as oats as well as fruit like bananas are filling and keep you fuller for longer. Add fresh fruit and vegetables into your Ifthaar/Dinner which will leave your tummy feeling lighter and give you the energy for Taraweeh (night prayers). Don’t forget the dates, they’re nutritious and full of fibre, and most importantly breaking your fast with dates is a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W).
2. Prepare your meals in advance: It is more likely that you will be able to keep healthier if you have a clear idea of your meals in advance. Being unprepared is more likely to leave you flustered and running to grab the closest thing that can be quickly prepared in the fryer.
3. Space out your meals: Spreading out your meals will help to get your metabolism going as well as giving your stomache enough time to digest between meals.
4. Bake everything: During Ramadhaan we tend to prepare many ‘fry-ables’ in advance, like samoosas and spring rolls, etc. Try baking these instead, it still has all the flavour and crispiness, but feels so much lighter on the tummy.
5. Fluid Intake: Drink lots of water during Ramadhaan. This is 1 thing we tend to neglect, but it is very important. It seems hard to fit it in, but keep up with the 8 glasses. Remember to sip your water instead of sculling it, drinking in 3 sips is another Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W).
Hope this helps all of you have a healthier Ramadhaan.
Ramadhaan Mubarak to you all!
It seems lately that macarons have shot into popularity with them being featured frequently on TV cooking shows like Masterchef & Zumbo. My first taste of a macaron was in Singapore with my husband. I had no idea what to expect, I bought a chocolate macaron. I bit into it’s crisp shell and soft, luscious inside just melted into my mouth with the creamy ganache filling. YUM!
I have been determined ever since to recreate these little treasures. After a lot of research, I realised it wasn’t going to be an easy task. Macarons are notorious for being temperamental and hard to master. That shattered my spirits a little but hey, why not give it a go. Well, I did, my first 3 attempts were complete failures. But I kept going. Plucked up the courage to try once more and finally achieved my first decent macaron. Pistachio!
Here’s my recipe (taken from various sources, cookbooks & websites)
Ingredients (this has to be precise and measured as accurately as possible)
35 g Egg whites (approx 1 egg white)
55g Pure icing sugar (pure icing sugar without any corn flour/starch)
45g Almond meal (blanched-skins removed)
30g castor sugar
This recipe makes about 10 macarons once sandwiched (20 halves)
Combine almond meal and icing sugar, grind until it becomes a fine powder. Sieve the almond meal and sugar mixture and discard any big bits, set aside. In a clean stainless steel or glass bowl, with an electric whisk, whick the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly drop in castor sugar until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. If using food colouring add it into the egg whites now and give it a quick whisk once more (a gel colouring is recommended). I used a little blue and yellow colouring to make a green shell, next time I think I’ll go darker. Sieve the almond and sugar mixture onto the egg whites and fold it in. Keep folding until the mixture is just incorporated into the egg whites. The mixture needs to be firm but loose enough that it settles back into itself if you make a line through the centre.
Line a tray with baking paper, then fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe into 3cm rounds. Leave aside for 30 minutes to form a skin and pre-heat the oven to 150°C. The cooler weather in Australia at the moment is ideal for macarons, the humidity during summer can really affect the formation of a skin (Tip – You know the macaron is ready for the oven when you touch it with your finger and it does not stick)
Put it into the oven for 15 minutes. By definition a macaron must have that cracked, airy crease at the bottom (known as feet), you should see this after 5-10 minutes of baking. Let the macarons cool and remove them from the baking paper. If they’re having trouble lifting off, sprinkle some water under the paper. Set aside to cool, ideally leave the macarons for a day in the fridge in an airtight container. Fill macarons with buttercream or ganache filling. I filled my macarons with buttercream that I had added crushed roasted pistachios to.
3 cups instant/rolled oats
1 cup shredded/desiccated coconut
1/2 cup mixed seeds
1 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup syrup (honey, agave, maple)
1/2 cup liquid (milk, or fruit juice)
1/4 cup butter or oil
Other optional extras
Sultanas, currents or craisins (I say optional because I don’t like chewy bits in my muesli, but it’s probably the way most people have it)
Diced dried fruit
Mix all the dry ingredients, chia and sesame seeds were my choice for the seed mix as you can see in the picture below. This was taken before I added the nuts, I used almonds, macadamias and cashews.
Add in syrup , liquid and oil/butter, I prefer butter, I rub it in and it creates chunky crunchy bits. Give the muesli a good mix. Spread the muesli evenly in a tray and put it in the oven. Bake until golden, usually around 20 minutes on 180°C, or until golden. If adding dried fruits, add them in after you’ve toasted the muesli. Stores in airtight container for a 2-3 weeks.
Try it with blue berries and yogurt!
Tandoori it is… This had to be my first recipe, it’s the easiest, yummiest thing I like to make. Normally I use chicken, but in this case I decided to use chicken and paneer for a vegetarian option. I was surprised, it actually turned out quite well with the paneer. What is paneer? It’s an Indian cheese, that is basically a hardened cottage cheese.
1 kg boneless chicken (I used 750 g chicken and 200 g paneer)
115 ml tomato paste (about 4 tablespoons)
2 tblsp yogurt
1 tblsp lemon juice
2 tblsp oil
1 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground red chillies (chilli flakes are a good alternative)
Mix all the ingredients together and marinate chicken and paneer. You can use it straight away, but if you have the time, leave to marinate for a few hours. You can use this recipe for a roast marinade, you can fry the pieces or with cut up vegetables on skewers. I used red onion, red and green capsicum. A tandoori meal needs a cooling accompaniment such as a raita (cucumber yogurt) but my beetroot version is an absolute hit… It goes well with almost anything, and works wonderfully as a dip with bread and crackers.
2 medium beetroot (or half a can of beetroot)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
If using fresh beetroot, boil them until cooked (about 30-60 minutes). If using whole beetroot, grate them. If using sliced beetroot, chop finely and mix in with yogurt. I know it seems too simple, but trust me, it doesn’t need anything else.
Tandoori skewers and beetroot yogurt… flavoursome, healthy… Yum!