Saturday 15 May 2010

Ras Malai for ICC

This month’s chosen ICC dish was the classic favourite Ras Malai. It is always my preferred dessert when eating out, for the simple reason that it is generally not too sweet but satisfies that craving for something sweet after a meal.

It might look very complicated to make but this is one of the simplest dishes to make with very few ingredients. Although I have made it earlier, it helped to have the exact measurements on hand while making it for the ICC.


I halved the recipe but still got 10 well sized paneer balls. The rest of the steps were followed exactly.

Ras Malai

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Makes about 10


1.5 L whole Milk
1.5 tblsp Vinegar
1 tsp Plain Flour (Maida)
8 + 8 tblsp Sugar (Adjust acc to taste)

6-8 strands of Saffron
2-3 Cardamom pods, shelled & crushed
Coarsely chopped/crushed nuts (I used almonds)


To make the Paneer, boil 1 litre of the milk and allow to cool down completely. Remove the layer of cream collected on the top. Bring the milk to boil again, switch off the flame and then add the vinegar. This will make the milk split into the Paneer and whey. Wait for 2-3 minutes and then strain the paneer collecting the whey.

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To drain all the remaining liquid from the paneer, tie it in a muslin cloth & leave hanging, squeezing from time to time, for about 1-2 hours. I didnt actually do this, but placed a small kadai with some things to add weight, on top of the above arrangement & it worked out fine.

Meanwhile begin to prepare the milk syrup by bringing to boil the remaining 500 ml milk in a thick bottomed sauce pan. Reduce the flame and let it simmer till reduced to half the quantity. Add 8 tblsp sugar, saffron and the cardamom powder. Continue to heat for 3-4 minutes & switch off the heat. Add the nuts and keep aside.

Once the paneer is almost dry, take it in a wide vessel and knead well for about 5-7 minutes till it is a smooth mixture. At this point at the plain flour and mix well. 

At the same time, add 3 cups of water to a pressure cooker & bring to boil. Add the remaining 8 tblsp Sugar and mix.

Now, pinch off small balls and shape them into slightly flat discs. Put these discs in the boiling water, cover and cook on low flame for about 10 min. Alternatively put on the pressure cooker lid and cook for 2 whistles.

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Please keep in mind, that the paneer discs will expand in size as they cook, when choosing the pressure cooker or vessel to cook them.

Once they are cooked transfer them to the milk syrup and allow to cool completely.  Chill in the fridge before serving. Garnish with more nuts if required.

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My Notes: I am always wary when I adjust the recipe for things like this but the Ras Malai turned out to be perfect. This will be another regular dessert for us now. A great one to impress your guests, I say!

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Simple Cabbage stir fry Bhaji

How long do you spend planning the menu each day? Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – do they dominate your thoughts throughout the day? Are you constantly thinking about how to use up the stuff lying in the fridge & how best to make use of them?

Please say yes to all the questions above & tell me that you too spend a lot of time thinking & planning the menu. It will rid me of the concern that I am overly obsessed with thinking about what to make for each meal. I sometimes think that I spend way more time making up my mind than actually cooking because once I have decided, its usually a breeze.

I might have exaggerated a bit there, its not the only thought going on but I do tend to be like that on some days. On one such day when I couldnt readily make anything ‘new’, I picked up the cabbage and made this simple stir fry which I have been making all the time, realising at the same time that I haven't blogged about it as well. You do tend to take such simple things for granted, dont you?

This is as simple as it can get and there is no exact science involved except that you have to get the quantity of salt right! This might be a good one to start with if you have never cooked a proper Bhaji before.

Cabbage Stir Fry Bhaji

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Serves 2


2 cups shredded cabbage (coarsely chopped will do!)
1 Small Potato, cut into small cubes (optional)
1/2 cup Peas (optional)

2 Green Chillies, Chopped (adjust acc to taste)
1/2 tblsp Oil

4-6 Curry Leaves
1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
a Pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1-2 tblsp Grated coconut (Optional)

1 tblsp Chopped fresh Coriander
1/2 tsp Sugar (Optional)


Heat the oil in a pan, when hot add the mustard seeds.

As they begin to splutter add the curry leaves, Hing, chillies & Turmeric Powder.

Next add the potatoes & fry for a minute. Add the cabbage and sauté.

Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the Peas, salt and grated coconut. Cook covered till the cabbage & potato are completely cooked.

Add the chopped coriander, mix well, cover & cook for just another minute before turning off the flame.

Serve hot with Chapati or as a side dish with rice.

My Notes: This is my favourite way of having cabbage, a vegetable that is hated sometimes because of the strong smell. But the combination with potatoes & peas works very well although you can make the same bhaji using only cabbage.

If you do have a problem with the smell, the fresh coriander added at the last minute will solve it for you, making it aromatic.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Julie & Julia and Delia (With Gratin Dauphinoise)

This must be first time ever that I was struggling to finish reading a book. As I have mentioned earlier in numerous posts, I can read anything & everything, then why did I have to keep counting the pages remaining, and wondering when I will be able to reach the end?

The answer might lie in the way Julie Powell writes -  totally haphazard, without any organisation or sequence and too many unnecessary and minute details.

I am talking about Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell which was the Book Club’s pick this month, well actually last month. As you can see I am quite late with the post here, but my hectic schedule for the past couple of weeks combined with my lack of interest in the book after a few pages, are to be blamed.

The prior knowledge that this book didn't really have a story but it only chronicled the experiences of someone who work in a government organisation by the day & tries to emulate the legendary Julia Child when she is cooking, did not help either.

I would not have even minded that, if her experiences were something out of the ordinary or even if they were written with a little more flair or if the food references were appealing. I did not find any of these in the book and so was totally uninspired in both the culinary & the literary sense.

I am only hoping the movie is much better than the book itself because I really want to see it, the sole reason being Meryl Streep, who I find absolutely amazing.

Although the book didn't inspire me to cook anything, the mention of Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ led me to try something french.

I have spoken about this book earlier. This has become for me what MtAoFC was to Julie Powell I guess. I have been trying out recipes one by one although I dont have a set target like her. I am hoping to make all the recipes given in the book.

I found this Gratin Dauphinoise recipe in this vegetarian collection by Delia Smith. See, now do you see the reason behind the title of this post, I just couldnt resist it!

The first thing that struck me about the recipe was its simplicity but still I knew that with this combination of the ingredients, the end result was sure to be delicious. The original recipe was to serve 4-6 people, I scaled it down to make it for 2.

Gratin Dauphinoise

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Serves 2 as a side dish


1 Large Potato or 2 medium ones
1 small clove of garlic, crushed & chopped finely
30 ml Cream

30 ml Milk
1 tblsp Butter + extra for greasing
Salt & Pepper
Some nutmeg

Pre heat the oven to 150 deg C. Generously butter a baking dish, approx 4” in size, and keep ready.

Wash & peel the potato. Slice it very thinly preferably using a mandolin or the slicing blade of a grater. I dont have a mandolin and my grater badly needs to be replaced as its gone very blunt, so I achieved the impossible of sorts by slicing it by hand with a knife. Although the slices were not comparable to mandolin ones, they did nicely.

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Keep these slices immersed in cold water to get rid of some of the starch. Drain and then wipe them dry on a kitchen towel.

Arrange some potato slices in the baking dish, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle some crushed garlic, salt & Pepper.

Arrange the next set of slices and repeat the process until all the slices are used up.

End with a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Now, mix the cream & milk together and pour into the baking dish.

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Lightly sprinkle some freshly grated nutmeg over this. Dot the surface with the butter and bake in the pre heated oven on the top most rack for about 1.5 hours.

Yes, you read that right. It is 1 1/2 hours, it takes that long for the potatoes to cook to perfection, with the flavour of garlic permeating and the cream & butter working their magic.

This being such a rich dish, I served this alongside a soup, the recipe for which is coming soon. Together they made a very hearty dinner for us.

My Notes:

Although I scaled down the recipe, I also used a bit of judgement on my part when using the ingredients, so follow accordingly. This can easily be turned into a main dish by just increasing the quantity. I wouldn't really mind it on its own if I can ignore the amount of calories in it.

It was really delicious and made me understand why Julia stressed so much on the butter & the cream in most of her recipes. They really do wonders!