I Feel Terrible

I feel terrible to helplessly watch those dying Palestinians. They are being brutally massacred every minute.

I feel sad and disgusted as the world has become just an onlooker to the slow genocide happening there. Is it so burdonesome for us all to show mere humanity?

I weep in my Salah, beg my Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) for mercy, everytime I think about those people, the everyday havoc they are going through.

No Medical aid, no protection, no proper food or water supply, no income, no job, no permits, no proper fuel supplies, no electricity, no roof to keep safe yourselves and your family…

I am not able to sleep or eat properly, enjoy any of the luxuries that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has bestowed me with alhamdulillah after apprehending the situation there in Palestine.

Let us all stand united against Israeli siege to Palestine. Let us all be Pro-Justice and play our part in bringing a little hope to the innumerable homeless families in Palestine. Let us all PraySupportVolunteer, Donate, Do whatever possible for Palastine as much as possible everyday and spread the word.

Let us raise our hands to pray to our God for mercy, justice and peace.

(Note: I have been receiving some racist comments from a few people repeatedly on this post. Comments have been closed for that reason)

Mona.

Basic How To’s: Series IV ~ Home made Yogurt, Dahi

Basic How To: Yogurt/Curd/Dahi

Preparing yogurt, also referred to as ‘curd’ by Indians, or dahi in Urdu language, the wonder food, a natural antibiotic, at home is quite a simple task. Just like milk, yogurt is packed with good nutrients including protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and B vitamins. Probiotic yogurts with active cultures helps reduce constipation and bloating, and boosts immune system function. Yogurt is one of the essential ingredients in Indian cuisine. Its sweet-sour flavor is used in marinating the meats, and to prepare gravies for curries, as a dessert, in face-packs or hair-packs etc.

I often prepare yogurt at home and use store brought yogurt only if I need to get a new starter, or at times when I am out of yogurt and need it immediately for my cooking. Store bought yogurt often has gelatin/pectin mixed in it to enhance the thickness consistency of it, which is very bad news for both non-vegetarians as well as Muslims, because gelatin is not Halal.

Homemade Yogurt

To prepare yogurt you can either use full fat whole milk or skimmed milk, or milk prepared from milk powder, it is your wish. Yogurt from whole milk or full fat milk is definitely thicker and much creamier. The proportion I use to make yogurt is 2 tablespoons of starter yogurt to every 1 litre of milk.

Homemade Yogurt/Dahi:
Makes-2 cups
Note: Make sure you sterilize all the containers and utensils you are using while preparing yogurt

Heat milk until it reaches 180°F/80°C either in the microwave or on stove. Set aside for a few minutes. Let it cool down until the milk is just lukewarm, you should be able to tolerate the heat of the milk on your finger for about 20 seconds or a thermometer inserted should read between 115°F/46°C  (if the milk is too hot or cold, yogurt/dahi will not properly set). Stir in yogurt, either commercial or some of your previous batch, 2 tbsp for each quart or liter of milk. Cover and wrap the container in kitchen towel . Keep it undisturbed to ferment in a constant warm and dark place for around 2-4 hours or overnight. Once set, refrigerate the yogurt to store. Its consistency will firm as it chills in the refrigerator and then slowly continues to acidify. The longer the yogurt is stored, the sourer it becomes
Always save some yogurt as it can be used as a starter for the next batch.

In places where it is warm and humid, making yogurt is quite easy and does not require much attention. You can cover the bowl with the yogurt starter and leave it on your countertop, undisturbed for it to set in around 8 hours.

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Tip: As I currently live in Toronto where the temperatures are usually very chilly during winters, what I do is put the bowl of lukewarm milk on a heating vent and add the yogurt starter, mix it well and cover the bowl with a lid. Wrap the bowl in a towel and leave it to set, undisturbed, for about 6-8 hours or overnight. You will get thick and creamy yogurt by morning.
Some of my friends even use a heating pad at medium heat, below the container in which you are setting the yogurt for a constant supply of heat to aid in its formation.

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Tip:  Many a times it happens that you end up with failed yogurt. You discover that the yogurt has not set at all, and it is just like milk, and you discard the whole thing.
Instead of discarding it, you can prepare two Indian milk products from it:
1. Daan-e-daar Khoa (Granular Khoa): Pour the failed yogurt in a saucepan at medium heat and add about 1 tbsp of lemon juice (to 2 cups of failed yogurt) to curdle the milk and continue cooking. Keep stirring the milk and cook until most of the moisture has been evaporated and the milk is reduced to dry lumpy texture. Remove from heat and transfer to a cup and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate it for a hour so that it thickens/hardens. Remove the prepared Khoa from the refrigerator transfer to a zip-lock sandwich bag and freeze to store for future use, or use immediately.
2. Paneer: Pour the failed yogurt in a saucepan at medium heat and add about 1 tbsp of lemon juice (to 2 cups of failed yogurt) to curdle the milk and continue cooking milk for a few minutes until you see the milk has curdled completely. Carefully strain the curdled milk through the sieve lined with the muslin cloth. Let the whey collect in the bottom saucepan. The whey is highly nutritious. Store it to use later on in other curries instead of water (at this stage if you wish, you can experiment and add a few flavors that you like to the curds in the muslin cloth, like dried herbs, etc. Mix the dried herbs well with the curds and continue). Later, lift the edges of the cloth and tie the corners of the cloth into a bag completely enclosing the curds. Remove the sieve from saucepan and place it in the sink. Place the bag of curds back in the sieve. Set aside under a heavy weight for about 3-4 hours to press to a flat shape about 2 cm thick. Later, transfer the Paneer block to a zip-lock packet and store refrigerated. Use within a week.

This post is my contribution to the event Back to Basics originally stated by Jaya, and currently being hosted by Aqua at Served with Love.

Luv,
Mona

Qimah bhare Aloo Cutlets

Potato ‘Cutlets’ or ‘Tikki’ are one of the best Indian snacks for a gathering of hungry foodies at a party or as a comfort food during winters. They also fulfil as a good side dish along with a patla salan/thin gravy curry and chawal/rice for a delicious meal.

Qimah Bhare Aloo ke Cutlets

You can prepare plain seasoned mashed potato cutlets or stuff the potato cutlets with little leftover dry Qimah/Minced meat for some delicious eats. I enjoy them along with chutneys, Tomato chutney and Kothmir-Pudina wali Chutney or Coriander-Mint Chutney. My personal favorite chutney along with these cutlets is Kothmir-Pudina wali Chutney. They can also be served at Iftaar during Ramadhan

Potato Cutlets/Tikki/Cakes

Ingredients:

White potatoes – 4, large
Black pepper – to taste
Cilantro – 2, tbsp, finely chopped
Wheat flour – 3 tbsp
Salt – to taste

Method:

Wash the potatoes and boil them with their skin on until they are fork tender. Drain, peel and mash them with coarsely using a fork while they are still hot. Once they are cool enough to handle but still warm, add black pepper powder and salt to taste and mix well.
Shape them into patties, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch in thickness. Dip them in the flour on both sides. Remove excess flour and shallow fry them in oil, just before serving, at medium high in a large non-stick frying pan in batches. Let cook until the first side until it is golden brown, about 3-5 minutes, then gently flip them using a rubber spatula and cook the other side for more 3 minutes. Remove them on a tray. Wipe the pan with paper towels, and add a little more oil. Repeat until all the potato mixture is finished. Cover the tray with aluminium foil and keep them warm in an oven at 200°F until all are done.

Qimah Bhare Aloo Cutlets – Potato Cutlets/Cakes stuffed with Minced meat

Ingredients:

(You can use any left over dry minced meat curry, or prepare some minced meat from scratch. To prepare minced meat, follow this or this recipe, or the recipe that follows below-)

For Stuffing:

Minced meat – 200 gms
Onion – 1 small, finely sliced
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – t taste
Salt – to taste
Tomato puree – 2 tbsp
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Mint leaves – 2 tsp, finely chopped

For Potato Cutlets/Cakes/Tikkis:

White potatoes – 4, large
Black pepper – to taste
Cilantro – 2, tbsp, finely chopped
Wheat flour (Durum Atta) – 3 tbsp
Salt – to taste

Method:

For the stuffing, gently sauté the onion in the oil until golden brown in color. Add ginger garlic paste and the remaining spices. Add meat, stirring to break up all lumps as the meat cooks and mix it all thoroughly. When all traces of pink have disappeared, add tomato puree and let cook for 4 minutes or until dry and there are no traces of water. Stir in the finely chopped mint leaves, check the seasonings and let cool completely.
Wash the potatoes and boil them with their skin on until they are fork tender. Drain, peel and mash them with coarsely using a fork while they are still hot. Once they are cool enough to handle, add black pepper powder and salt to taste and mix well.
Next shape the potato mixture into small golf balls and make a well in the center. Put about a teaspoon of the filling into the well and gently enclose it inside the potato mixture. Neaten the shape of the cake and patch up any cracks and gaps taking care that the filling nicely enclosed inside. Flatten it slightly between your palms.
Dip them in the flour on both sides. Remove excess flour and shallow fry them in oil at medium high in a large non-stick frying pan in batches. Let cook until the first side until it is golden brown, about 3-5 minutes, then gently flip them using a rubber spatula and cook the other side for more 3 minutes. Remove them on a tray. Wipe the pan with paper towels, and add a little more oil. Repeat until all the potato mixture is finished. Cover the tray with aluminium foil and keep them warm in an oven at 200°F until all are done.

Suggested Accompaniments: Enjoy them as a snack along with Tomato chutney and Kothmir-Pudina wali Chutney or Coriander and Mint Chutney, or serve them as a side dish along with a curry and Pulao or your choice.

Luv,
Mona

Sabut Zafraani Murgh

Baking during the winter season gives a lot of pleasure to me. It provides the warmth needed and enlivens the arid spirit inside us during these dull and cloudy days. I thank my god that I have a conventional oven that I love to use during these icy days.

Carved Roasted Chicken
served along with Roasted Veggies and Lemon slices

Roasting a whole chicken is not as laborious and redoubtable is it is considered to be. I love to roast whole chickens. Roasted chicken is perfect for a party dinner and comforting in the cold weather. Roasted red potatoes and carrots also bring seasonal color and nutrition to the dish.

Tip: To remove the skin of the chicken, use paper towels. Hold the chicken skin with a paper towel and pull it. This way your hand wont get slippery and the task is a piece of cake.

Sabut Zafrani Murgh – Saffron infused Whole chicken

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

For Brine:

2.5 litre fresh water
Salt – 3 tbsp
Sugar – 2 tbsp
Garlic pods – 2, crushed
Bay leaves -2

For Chicken

1 medium whole roasting chicken, skinned/Sabut Murgh (Preferably Fresh)
Black Pepper powder/Kali mirch, used liberally
Sea Salt/Namak, used liberally
Ghee/Butter – 3 tbsp (you can subsbitute it with Canola oil)
1/4 tsp Saffron/Zafraan, pounded
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic/Adrak-Lahsun paste
1/2 tsp Dried thyme
1/2 tsp Dried rosemary
1 large Egg/Anda, hard boiled and peeled
1 large Lemon/Nimbu, cut into two halves (one half used as stuffing and the other half juiced to season the chicken)

For Vegetables

5 Red Potatoes, quartered/Aloo
1 cup baby Carrots/Gajar (you can even use large carrots, peel  and cut them into pieces)
Black Pepper powder/Kali mirch, used liberally
Salt/Namak, used liberally
Ghee/Butter – 3 tbsp (you can subsbitute it with Canola oil)
Dried thyme
Dried rosemary

Stuffed and Seasoned Whole Chicken
on the bed of spiced veggies ready to be roasted

Method:

-Remove the giblets and neck from the chicken and discard or freeze for future use.
In a large pot pour 2.5 litres of cold water. Add the remaining ingredients for brine and let the water boil once. Remove from heat and let it cool down completely. Once cooled, place the chicken in the brine, breast side down. Cover and refrigerate overnight if possible or atleast for 2 hours.
-With the rack in the middle position, preheat an oven to 450°F.
-Remove the chicken from the brine. Wash with cool water and pat dry throughly both inside and out with paper towels.
-Pound the saffron with ginger-garlic paste, ghee/butter, lemon juice, salt, black pepper powder, rosemary and thyme in a mortar and pestle until well combined and keep aside.
-Rub the chicken inside and out with the prepared saffron+spices paste and place the boiled egg, a halve of the lemon in the cavity of the chicken.
-Truss the bird. This means binding the legs and wings close to the body of the bird so that the meat is protected during cooking and the finished shape of the roasted bird is pleasing.
-Combine carrots and potatoes in a large oval ceramic baking dish with a rack. Spread into one layer in bottom above the rack. Douse them with ghee/butter and liberally sprinkle with black pepper powder and salt. Carefully place the stuffed chicken, breast side up, on the bed of seasoned vegetables.
-Roast the chicken at 450°F for the first 20 minutes and then lower the oven to 350°F for another 45 minutes or until juices run clear when pricked with knife, and thermometer insterted at thickest part of thigh next to body registers 180°F. Keep basting the chicken with ghee/butter and with the juices collecting below the rack in the baking dish and turn the chicken for even cooking every 20 minutes.
-Once done, remove the chicken from the oven and place in a warm place, loosely covered with aluminium foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the trussing thread and carve to serve.

I have recently updated a new theme for my blog. Hope you all like it like I do.

Luv,
Mona

For a Cause

I love the aroma of spices. Spices are so essential in my cooking, I could never imagine my pantry to be devoid of any spices.

Qimah Dum

One such dish that fills my house with a delectable aroma of infused spices is Qimah Dum. The main ingredient in this dish is Kababchini (also called as Jungli Laung) or Dried Cubeb berries. Minced meat is cooked by the method of Dum Pukth.

Dum pukht is the Hyderabadi method of cooking by locking up steam. Earlier, the aluminium or brass cooking pots or vessels called as deg/degchi/lagan with the foodstuff inside were sealed with atta dough around the lid so that no steam could escape and the moisture stays in. The pot was then allowed to sit on blazing coals to slow cook. A few of the burning coals were also placed on the lid to evenly distribute the heat from both top and bottom. The food inside cooked on dum subsumes all the flavors and aroma in the tightly sealed pot/deg. A modern conventional oven fulfils this need for us.

I prepare two varieties of Qimah Dum, altering a few flavors here and there to create new tastes. This particular version is one of my favorites.

Val at More Than Burnt Toast, Giz at Equal Opportunity Kitchen and  Ivy at Kopiaste…to Greek Hospitalilty together have created the Blogger Aid, a network of bloggers working together for a cause, to help alleviate world hunger. Their latest project is a cookbook, contributed by foodies. The cookbook is targeted for sale on Amazon by December 2009 with 100% of the profit from the sales going to the World Food Programme. Tomorrow is the last date to submit your recipe as a contribution to this cookbook. So please do send in your original recipes if you wish to contribute.

My recipe for Qimah Dum is a contribution to this cookbook – ‘Blogger Aid Cookbook’. To go through the recipe for Qimah Dum, you have to purchase the cookbook once it is out for sales.

Update: The cookbook has been published and it can be bought here. So do purchase the book, and spread the word.

Luv,
Mona