L Cook With Jovi: February 2017

Monday, 27 February 2017

Indian Style Pancake with Veggie Toppings

GRAMFLOUR PANCAKES
If a sweet filled pancake isn't your cup of tea then try this gorgeous vegan gramflour pancake topped with veggies of your choice! It’s great for a midweek meal and weekend breakfast too. This pancake (besan ka cheela) is a savoury Indian classic. Go make your taste buds happy.



Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Serves: 1

Basic Ingredients
  • ½ cup gram flour (besan)
  • Olive oil (as required)
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Water
Toppings
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped bell pepper
  • Chopped green chilli (if you like it hot)
Method
  1. Mix the gram flour, chilli powder, turmeric powder, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Slowly add about ½ cup water and whisk well till you get a smooth batter. There should be no lumps. Keep aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a flat pan and spray or drizzle oil olive on it.
  4. Now spread the batter on the pan. The trick is to pour the batter and tilt the pan around till you get an even layer.
  5. Sprinkle your toppings on top and let it cook on medium heat.
  6. You can cover the pan in between to ensure the gram flour gets cooked well. This takes a bit of patience as it does take about 7-8 minutes to cook properly on each side.
  7. Drizzle a little bit of oil around the edges of the pancake and use a thin flat spatula to lift the pancake from the side and check if it is golden brown.
  8. If it is, you can flip it around and let it get browned on the other side. This should take another 6-7 minutes. Flip the pancake over, only when one side is cooked, looks golden brown.
  9. When done, fold in half and serve hot with coriander and mint chutney.











Jovi’s Notes

This recipe makes just one pancake, so double your ingredients based on how many people you are serving.
You could try different toppings and create your own version of this recipe. Do share pictures of your creations with me. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Nutrition Packed Indian Style Brown Lentils Curry

BROWN LENTILS CURRY
A simple and wholesome legumes dish that is a sure shot hit with both the vegans and the meat lovers. Goes well with both rice and naan. I even enjoy it with quinoa.

Preparation Time: 7 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 2-3

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup brown lentils (sabut masoor dal), soaked overnight or atleast for 3-4 hours
  • 2 tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed into a rough paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida 
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder or more if you like it hotter
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander for garnishing
Method
  1. Wash the soaked lentils and put them into a pressure cooker.
  2. Add the pureed tomatoes to the lentils, 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Close the pressure cooker and bring to full pressure on high heat.
  4. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove cooker from heat and allow to cool naturally.
  6. To save time, while your lentils are getting cooked, place another pan on the hob for the tempering. Pour in the olive oil.
  7. Add the asafoetida and cumin seeds and let them splutter for a minute.
  8. Now add the garlic, ginger and green chilli and saute for about 2 minutes.
  9. Next put in the onions and cook till they turn golden brown.
  10. While cooking the onions, add the turmeric and chilli powder.
  11. Once the onions are done, pour the boiled lentil soup into them. Mix well.
  12. Allow to simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Check for salt and spice levels. Add a wee bit extra chilli powder if you like it hot.
  13. Serve hot garnished with coriander for a healthy happy lunch or dinner.






Jovi’s Notes

If you like the consistency of your lentil curry thinner, you can add more water to it while simmering. I added about ¼ cup extra water. Boil for a few extra minutes at the end to ensure that the raw taste of water goes away. 
If you are not vegan, you can use ghee instead of olive oil for added flavour. 
If you do not have asafoetida at home and do not wish to buy it just for one dish, you could do without it. It won't really alter the taste of the dish. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS
Moist and gooey chocolate decadence

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Baking Time: 25 mins
Makes: 6 muffins

Ingredients
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Chocolate chips
  • A pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ tsp lemon juice

Method
  1. Preheat your oven and line a muffin tin with 6 muffin cases.
  2. Take ¼ cup milk at room temperature and add the lemon juice to it. Let it sit there for about 10 minutes. You will notice the milk starts curdling. This is perfect and exactly what you need. A slightly acidic batter helps keep baked goods moist and tender by breaking down long, tough strands of gluten.
  3. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt to a mixing bowl. Mix with a spoon.
  4. Create a well in between and break an egg into it. Use a whisk now and start mixing.
  5. Slowly add the melted butter. Everything will start sticking together. Don’t worry.
  6. Gently pour in the curdled milk and continue whisking till the batter becomes smooth.
  7. At the end add about ¼ cup chocolate chips to the batter and stir them in.  
  8. Use a spoon to scoop the batter into the muffin cases. Do not fill the muffin cases to the brim as the batter needs space to rise. I fill each case a little more than half.
  9. Sprinkle each muffin with a few more chocolate chips on the top. 
  10. Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for 25 minutes at 180 degrees.
  11. Insert a toothpick at the end of 25 minutes to check if they are done. They should be.
  12. Cool for 10 minutes and admire the chocolate heaven you just created.
  13. Staring at these delightful muffins and taking that first chocolatey bite is pure bliss! Go get your bliss now.




Jovi’s Notes
I use standard cup and spoon measures
I bought my chocolate chips from Sainsbury's (see pic below)

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

JOVI’S TOP 6 


Like most cooking enthusiasts, I’ve accumulated quite a collection of kitchen tools. I do not have space to stock more and the funny part is that I end up not using most of the stuff. So, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what someone who is new to cooking should buy as a ‘must have.’ Or if you are just an avid shopper like me, and you don’t have one of these, you know what to shop for next.

Here are my top 6 essential kitchen tools. These are things I use on a regular basis while cooking at home.

1. Knife Sharpener
You probably have several knives at home, just like me.  I am sure you have often been frustrated while chopping onions or tomatoes at how blunt the knife you are using has become. A knife sharpener is such a useful tool. Just a few strokes on it and your knives will become sharp as new and allow you to chop and slice much faster.

2. Mortar and Pestle
Yes, I know this sounds a bit ancient but it is ever so easy to use. Especially when its just 2-3 people at home and you have to pound ginger, garlic or dry spices in small quantities, a mortar and pestle comes in so handy. You get so many types in the market. Stone or marble ones are the best. Bamboo or wooden ones are fine too. Just don’t make the mistake of buying a cheap ceramic one as they break easily.

3. Microplane Grater/Zester
Most of us do typically have graters at home but did you know that there are several different types of graters. A microplane grater is quite an asset when you want to finely grate ginger, lemon rind or cheese. I use this almost every single day.

4. Measuring Cups and Spoons
Most cooking requires measurement and I think everyone should own a basic set of measuring cups and spoons. You will be surprised at the difference it can make to the taste of a recipe if you get the measures right! Don’t go looking for fancy pieces, these are purely functional.

5. Pressure Cooker
Gone are the days when a pressure cooker was found sitting only in Indian kitchens. As it turns out, in these days when most people are in a constant battle with time, this is a must have. A dish that would take hours of simmering on the hob can be ready in just 30 minutes with the help of a pressure cooker. From tenderizing meat and vegetables to cooking lentils, soups, and broths, this tool will change your life forever.

6. Disposable Aluminium Baking Trays
Totally utilitarian. Use them and throw them. They are cheap and you don’t have to worry about cleaning. Some of them come with lids and I use them to store my cakes. I bake in them and then just put the lid on once the cake has cooled. You get them in all shapes and sizes. I always keep a few handy in my kitchen.


If you’re reading this in London, all these tools are easily available at Robert Dyas or John Lewis. You could also shop for them online at Amazon UK. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Make your Own Hummus at Home

HUMMUS-MADE AT HOME
A chickpea puree that works as a perfect dip

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Pressure Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½-1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 lemon
  • Virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Water

Method
  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight. Next day, cook in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes with 1 teaspoon salt. Drain and keep aside once cooked.
  2. In your food processor, add the tahini, garlic and chilli powder and blend for about 30 seconds.
  3. Now add the chickpeas to this and continue blending. The chickpeas tend to get stuck to the side. You will need to keep opening the lid and scraping down the sides.
  4. I added some water (about ½ a cup) to get the chickpeas into a pureed consistency. Add cumin powder, salt to taste and squeeze in the juice of a lemon.
  5. Keep blending till you get a smooth paste. While your blender is running, pour in some virgin olive oil too. I drizzled in some oil straight from the bottle. It was roughly about 2 tablespoons.
  6. Voila! Your hummus is ready. Taste and check for salt, lemon, or spiciness. Adjust as per your taste.
  7. Store this in an airtight jar. Once you fill your jar with the hummus, pour a little bit of olive oil on top to keep the paste moist.
  8. Keep in the fridge and dig in whenever your tummy rumbles.
  9. Now stop marvelling at the creamy hummus you just created!





Jovi’s Notes:
Tahini is easily available in most supermarkets in London. I bought mine from Waitrose.
Try and use good quality virgin olive oil in your hummus as it really does enhance the taste. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Get your protein dose: Sauteed Green Gram

GREEN GRAM SAUTE
A sauteed lentil dish bursting with protein, perfect for breakfast, an evening snack or a dinner side 

Preparation Time: 3 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 2-3

Ingredients
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil/butter
  • 1 cup green gram (also known as green mung beans)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • Salt
  • ½ a lemon
Method
  1. Soak the lentils overnight.
  2. The next day, drain the lentils and put them in a pot with 3-4 cups of water. Add a teaspoon of salt to this. Allow the water to boil.
  3. Once the water boils, keep the heat on medium and continue cooking the lentils. The lentils will take about 20 minutes to cook.
  4. Do not cover the pot for than 5 minutes as you do not want the lentils to become mushy.
  5. Keep checking to ensure that they do not become too soft. 
  6. Once done, take off the heat and immediately drain the water. If you leave them in the hot water the lentils will get overcooked.
  7. Now take another pan and heat the oil or butter. I used olive oil.
  8. Add the cumin seeds and letter them splutter for a minute. Put in the ginger and saute for 2 minutes.
  9. Next add the chilli flakes and allow to sizzle for 30 seconds.
  10. Quickly add the lentils now and saute for 4-5 minutes on medium to high heat.
  11. You will most probably need to add some salt which you can do at this stage.
  12. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Mix well.
  13. Serve hot garnished with parsley or coriander.



Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Valentine's Day Special: Salted Hearts for your Sweetheart

SALTED HEARTS
A baked savoury snack, perfect for tea time. These are called namak paras in India and are traditionally fried.

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Baking Time: 16 mins
Makes: 10 hearts
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil/ghee
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp carom seeds
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Heart shaped cookie cutter
  • Water
Method
  1. Mix the olive oil/ghee (I used ghee for these) with the flour. Use your hands for this.
  2. Add the carom seeds, salt and baking powder too.
  3. Now slowly add water and start kneading with your hands to form a dough. I added about ¼ cup of water.
  4. Knead the dough well. This should take you about 3-4 minutes and make a ball out of it.
  5. Keep the kneaded dough aside for about 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven and lightly spray a baking tray with olive oil or ghee, whatever you have handy.
  7. After 10 minutes, pull out small portions of the dough, flatten them with your palms and start rolling them out. I just rolled them into random irregular shapes. Do not worry about trying to make them into perfect circles. Just make sure that the rolled out shape is bigger than the size of your cookie cutter.
  8. Use your heart shaped cookie cutter to cut hearts out of this. Now scrape out what’s left, make a ball and roll them again into a flat shape.
  9. I was able to cut out 10 hearts with my dough. Now gently prick the hearts with a fork. This will prevent them from rising while baking.
  10. Place the hearts onto your baking tray and bake for 16 minutes at 180 degrees. After 8 minutes, I turned over the hearts to ensure both sides were baked well.
  11. Cool and munch!


Jovi’s Notes

As I was making these for Valentine’s day I made heart shaped ones, but you could make them into any shape you fancy. 
You could also use half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour. 

Monday, 13 February 2017

MUSHROOM AND PEAS CURRY

MUSHROOM AND PEAS CURRY
A quick delicious Indian style mushroom and peas curry that makes for a great weeknight meat free option

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200-250 gms button mushroom
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ chilli powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander for garnishing

Method
  1. Wash the mushrooms and chop them into bite sized chunks. I normally make 2-3 pieces out of each button mushroom.
  2. Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter for a minute.
  3. Now add the ginger and saute for a minute. Add the chopped onions and allow to cook. Sprinkle a little salt on the onions. It helps them soften faster.
  4. Saute the onions till they start turning brown. This should take about 5-6 minutes.
  5. Once the onions are done, throw in the tomatoes, and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes on moderately high heat.
  6. Dunk the mushrooms in this onion tomato mash and give them a good stir.
  7. Start adding all the spice powders-turmeric, coriander powder, chilli powder and garam masala. Make sure everything is combined well. Let the mushrooms soak in the spice bath for about 3 minutes.
  8. Next pour 2 cups of water into the pressure cooker. Add the frozen peas to this water.
  9. Add a teaspoon of salt to the liquid sauce and stir everything well.
  10. Close the pressure cooker and bring to full pressure on high heat.
  11. Reduce heat and cook for 8 minutes.
  12. Remove cooker from heat and allow to cool naturally, till there is no pressure inside.
  13. Serve hot garnished with coriander.
  14. A bowl of rice with this mushroom and peas curry often vanishes in minutes!


  

Jovi’s Notes
If you do not have a pressure cooker, do not despair! You can make this curry in any pot. It will just take a little longer as you will have to cover the pot to cook the mushrooms and keep it covered till the mushrooms soften. This might take upto 25 minutes. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

MUSHROOM, KALE, BELL PEPPER PASTA FEAST

MUSHROOM, KALE, BELL PEPPER PASTA
A nutrition packed pasta in a meltingly tender sauce for veggie lovers

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients
  • Pasta (fettuccine)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250 gms button mushrooms, chopped
  • 200 gms curly kale, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into long strips
  • 4-5 pods of garlic, chopped
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • A handful of parsley
  • Any Italian pasta seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnishing



Method
  1. Boil 250 gm (half a packet) pasta as per instructions. Before straining, ladle out 1 cup of pasta water into a bowl. 
  2. In a large pan, heat the olive oil. Once the oil is warm, add the garlic and chilli flakes and saute for a minute till you start smelling the aroma of garlic.
  3. Now add the chopped mushrooms and continue to saute on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  4. After 5 minutes, add the bell pepper and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Next add the chopped kale and cook for 2 minutes. You will notice that that the kale starts to wilt and quantity shrinks considerably. Add a teaspoon of salt and some freshly cracked pepper. Stir well.
  6. Add a tablespoon of water and cover the vegetables for 2 minutes. This will allow the kale to cook.
  7. In a separate bowl, mix 1 tablespoon cornflour with half a cup of cold milk. Mix thoroughly to ensure there are no lumps.
  8. Add this cornflour milk to the vegetables and stir in everything together. Allow the liquid in the vegetables to boil. As the milk boils, it will thicken and absorb all the juices of the vegetables and you will get the most meltingly tender sauce ever.
  9. Stick a spoon in and adjust any seasoning if required.
  10. Once the sauce has thickened a bit add the boiled fettuccine and mix everything well. If the pasta feels a little dry at this stage, you can add some of the leftover pasta liquid that you had saved. You can even throw in a little extra virgin olive oil for flavour at this stage.
  11. Add 2 teaspoons of any Italian pasta seasoning and toss and turn.
  12. Sprinkle the parsley and take the pan off the heat.
  13. Transfer onto pasta plates and garnish with Parmesan.
  14. Appreciate the vibrant colours of food on your plate. 
  15. You will not be able to stop till you polish off everything from your plate. 
Jovi's Notes
If you can't find kale, just omit it from the recipe. The dish still tastes great with just mushrooms and bell pepper. 


Fresh Cherry Muffins

FRESH CHERRY MUFFINS
Shockingly easy to make fresh cherry muffins


Preparation Time: 10 mins
Baking Time: 20 mins
Makes: 6 muffins

Ingredients
  • ½ cup self-raising flour + 2 tsp self-raising flour
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1-2 tsp brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 7-10 fresh red cherries
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tbsp milk


Method
  1. Preheat your oven and line a muffin tin with 6 muffin cases.
  2. Add the flour and sugar to a mixing bowl. Mix with a spoon.
  3. Create a well in between and break an egg into it. Mix gently.
  4. Now add the oil, pinch of salt and vanilla essence, and whisk well till everything is combined. If the batter seems too dry, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of milk.
  5. Add the baking powder at the end and gently whisk the batter 1-2 times again. You do not have to whisk vigorously. Just whisk gently so that everything is combined well and the batter is smooth.
  6. Chop the cherries roughly and deseed them. Throw the chopped cherries into a bowl and add 2 teaspoons of self-raising flour to them. Mix gently to coat the cherries with the flour.
  7. Now gently tip the cherries into the batter and mix so that the cherries are evenly distributed.
  8. Use a spoon to scoop the batter into the muffin cases. Do not fill the muffin cases to the brim as the batter needs space to rise. I fill each case a little more than half.
  9. Sprinkle each muffin with a little bit of brown sugar. This step is optional.
  10. Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees.
  11. Insert a toothpick at the end of 20 minutes to check if they are done. They should be!
  12. Cool for 10 minutes and bite into these fresh, juicy, yummy muffins.




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