Dried Cranberry-Walnut Muffins

Looks like Fall/Autumn has finally arrived in Toronto. Strong cold winds, falling leaves, and the beautiful red, orange and yellow hues on the tree leaves indicating that a new weather has commenced.

Frozen Moment #5 – Vivid blue sky against Autumn leaves

This summer seemed very short to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed and made use of the beautiful sunshine with whatever little gardening I was able to do in my backyard. Now, my lovely tomato plant is slowly dying, and raspberry plants will soon be asleep. Herb pots have all be brought indoors to adapt to the scanty indirect sunshine.

Bed of Fallen Leaves

This kind of weather leaves me craving for warm baked goods. Mornings are commenced with warm coffee or tea, and something baked fresh from my oven. Today I baked these delicious muffins using dried cranberries which I bought from Bulk barn and some walnuts that I had lying in the refrigerator from a long time.

Toasted and chopped Walnuts & dried Cranberries

I really enjoyed the raisin like dried cranberries with a hint of tartness bursting in my mouth with every bite.

Dried Cranberry-Walnut Muffins
Recipe adapted from: Cakes – 1,001 recipes from around the world

Ingredients:

All-Purpose flour – 2 cups
Baking powder – 2 tsp
Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp
Nutmeg powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Dried Cranberries – 1 cup
Walnuts – 1/2 cup, toasted & chopped (you can also use any other nuts you like)
Buttermilk – 1 cup
Brown Sugar – 1/2 cup, firmly packed
Eggs – 2, large, at room temperature
Butter – 1/4 cup, melted

Warm, freshly baked Cranberry-Walnut muffins cooling on rack

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Butter and flour a 12-cup muffin pan, or line with aluminium foil or paper baking cups.
3. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg and salt into a large bowl. Stir in cranberries and walnuts.
4. Beat buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs, butter in medium bowl with an electric hand mixer at high speed.
5. Stir the egg mixture into dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into muffin cups filling each 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffin pan on rack.

My friends of Northern hemisphere, enjoy the fall weather and keep warm!

Luv,
Mona

Nimbu ka Achaar

Pickles are Indian specialities, enjoyed at breakfasts, at meals, or as an accompaniment to a snack . Each household has their own twist on the pickles that they prepare yearly using freshly available seasonal fruits and vegetables. Among those pickles, mango pickle and lemon or green lime pickle are the two classic indian pickles prepared most commonly in every household, and also easily available at the stores in various varieties.

Fresh Lemons

In todays express lifestyle, the art of making pickles at home is slowly sinking into the mists of time. It only takes a little time, effort and love to prepare these indulgences at home, with your own control on the amount of spices as well as the quality of the product. The following is my mothers recipe for Lemon or Lime pickle.

Note: Pickling is a bacteriostatic method of food preservation, in which the micro-organisms are unable to grow in food. Salt is the main ingredient used as the preservative. Throughout the preperation, take precautions and use only dry spoons for mixing and transfering purpose. Make sure the utensils you are using for making the pickle are absolutely moisture free. Otherwise the pickle will spoil and there are chances of fungus/mould formation. Pickles should never be sored in glazed jars.

Enjoy about a teaspoon of this pickle along with your meals, as an accompaniment to your breakfast or a snack.

Nimbu ka Achaar – Lemon/Lime Pickle
Makes: about 2.5 lb

The procedure includes the following steps which are later described in detail below:

1. Wash and wipe lemons or limes. Chop the 10 lemons or limes, add juice of 2 lemons or limes, mix salt and turmeric and keep aside for 3 days covered in a glass jar with tight lid at room temperature. Shake the bottle gently twice everday so that all the pieces are soaked in the juices.
2. After 3 days, add the powdered pickle spices and the tempering/baghaar to the pickle. Mix well.  Transfer to air tight pickle jars and store in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 weeks for the lemon or lime pieces to ferment. The pickle is ready to be used once the skin of the lemons or limes is soft.

Detailed Procedure:

Lemon or Lime – 10, blemish free, ripe and juicy
Juice of fresh lemons or limes
Iodine free Salt – 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/3 tsp

Cut lemons mixed with turmeric powder, lemon juice and salt in a large glass dish

Choose blemish free, good quality, preferably organic lemons or limes. I am never able to find thin-skinned lemons where I live, so I prepare pickle using thick skinned lemons or green limes, and have kind of got used to them. Infact the thick pickled lemon skin tastes delicious! Wash them and pat them completely dry using a dry cloth. You can also spread them out on a tray and place it under the sun to complately air dry for 1 or 2 hours. If the skin of the lemons you are using is thick (like mine, see the pictures), discard the thick top stalk part and bottom of the lemons and chop up 10 lemons into small quarters and put into a sterilized glass jar with a tight non-metallic lid. This need not be done for limes as they have a thinner skin. Cutting off the top and bottom is also not required if the skin of the lemons you are using is thin. The skin of Indian lemons is usually thin, whereas the lemons that are available elsewhere are quite thick. Discard the seeds. Add salt, turmeric powder and lemon/lime juice to the jar so that all the pieces are covered in the juice and mix well. Keep the jar in a dark place at room temperature for 3 days. Gently shake the jar twice every day.

Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp
Dry Roasted Cumin seed powder – 2 tbsp
Dry Roasted Coriander seed powder -1 tbsp
Dry Roasted Black Mustard seed powder – 1 tsp
Dried Chickpeas/Kabuli Chana – washed and pat dried completely (optional)
Garlic pods – 3
Small green chillies – 4, washed, and completely pat dried, roughly chopped

After 3 days, the lemon/lime pieces will have released a lot of juices. Add and mix all the above ingredients into the chopped lemon/lime quarters with its juices in the glass jar using a dry spoon and keep aside. Now prepare the baghaar or the tempering. (the dried chickpeas and garlic pods turn soft, suitable for eating, upon fermentation and acquire a tangy taste in the pickle).

Freshly prepared Lemon pickle ready to be set aside in the refrigerator to mature

Baghaar or the Tempering:

Canola oil – 1/2 cup
Nigella seeds/Kalonji – 1 tsp
Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Dried red chilli – 2

In a pan, heat oil at medium high heat and as soon as it warms up add the remaining ingredients and mix well. In a few seconds they start to splutter. Remove from heat and keep aside. Take care not to burn the spices. Let it cool down and come to room temperature. This is the baghaar or tempering. Once the baghaar is cooled, carefully pour it into the lemon/lime pickle jar.

Lemon pickle ready to be eaten with its skin all nicely softened after 2 months

Store this freshly prepared lemon/lime pickle in the refrigerator to slowly ferment for about a week or two. Fermentation process renders fruits soft and and the fruits take on an additional aroma and flavor of spices. Mould growth is prevented by the use of a tight lid, by which air is prevented from coming in contact. Make sure that you use a completely dry spoon to use the pickle when you feel like eating it, and cover it and store in the refrigerator as soon as possible for a long life. Keep rotating and turning the jar frequently in the refrigerator. Check if the skin of the lemon/lime is soft enough. If you have used thick lemons, you might have to wait a little longer. I kept the pickle jar unopened for 3 months in the refrigerator, before I used it.

Luv,
Mona

Dum ki Raan

الحمد لله my Eid-ul-Fitr was fantastic. It was the weekend that day and and hence all my loved ones were at home to be able to celebrate the joyous day with each other.

Dum ki Raan

I had prepared Dum Ki Raan for dinner on Eid-ul-Fitr. I had a few guests coming and الحمد لله we all enjoyed the meal. I was not able to take a picture of the garnished meat platter, as I had guests. My recipe is simple and ‘simply lip-smacking’, as complimented by those who tasted it. Marinating the leg of lamb overnight is very essential. Yogurt, ginger-garlic paste and lemon juice help tenderize the meat.

Dum Ki Raan – Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb

Ingredients:

Leg of Lamb – around 1.4 kg/3 lb (you can also use leg of Spring lamb, or Baby Lamb)
Yogurt/Dahi – 1 cup
Ginger-Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice – 4 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp

Method:

1. Wash and pat dry the leg of lamb thoroughly. Remove most of the visible fat and skin from lamb. You can also ask your butcher to do so. Using a knife, make pockets and diagonal gashes on both sides. In a non-metallic flat dish or a zip-lock bag large enough to fit the leg of lamb, mix all the ingredients except the leg of lamb. Place the leg of lamb into the bowl and rub the marinade into the pockets and the gashes. Turn the leg of lamb, and rub the marinade on the other side also. Cover the dish with a plastic wrap or a tight lid and let it marinate in the refrigerator overnight. If possible, turn the leg of lamb in the marinade once after a while.
2. The next day, pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the leg of lamb with all the marinade to a large roasting pan with high walls. Cover the pan tightly with aluminium foil and place it in the center rack of the pre-heated oven for 1 hour. After an hour, gently turn the leg of lamb and baste it with its own juices. Cover and place the roasting pan in the oven once again to cook for an another 1 hour. Later, give the leg of lamb an another turn and cover and let cook for a furthur half an hour until the meat is so tender that it falls off the bone and has absorbed all the delicious flavors.
3. Remove the pan from the oven but do not remove the aluminium foil. Let it sit on a rack on the countertop for more half an hour. Later, remove the foil, and using a fork and knife, remove the meat into a bowl and discard the bones. Using a flat wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan and add it to the meat. Mix thoroughly and cut the larger pieces of meat into smaller pieces.
4. To serve, garnish, with lemon wedges, onion rings, lettuce leaves, tomato slices, baby carrots, chopped fresh cilantro and mint leaves and serve the meat warm in a platter. Enjoy.

Suggested Accompaniments: Serve the Dum ki raan along with Kaddu ka Dalcha, Khushka and Sautéed brocolli.

Luv,
Mona

Chuqandar Gosht

Sweet red beets when cooked in a hot and spicy tomato meat stew result in a delicious curry that you will definitely enjoy. We Hyderabadis like to cook our vegetables with meat.

Peeled and chopped red beets

I enjoy beets this way a lot, along with warm parathas. My brother dislikes the way it tends to color your rice though. Whenever I go to the market, I buy beets along with its greens which are very nourishing, that way I can enjoy the goodness of both the greens as a subzi, as well as beets as a seperate curry.

While preparing salad with beets, do not peel and then boil the beets in water. That way all the nutrients are lost when you drain the water. If you have to boil the beets, wash them thoroughly and boil them unpeeled. In this manner, the nutrient loss is less. I recommend steaming the beets when you wish to have them as salads. This is the best way with minimum nutrient loss and maximum flavor.

Chuqandar Gosht – Beets in Spicy Meat stew

Ingredients:

Canola oil – 1 tbsp
Yellow Onion – 1, small, finely chopped
Lamb/Veal/Sheep meat (with or without bone) – 250 gms, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder – 2 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Tomato – 2, medium sized, finely chopped
Water – 1 cup
Beetroot/Chuqandar – 5, medium sized(as shown in the picture), peeled, sliced and cut into bite-size wedges

Chuqandar Gosht – Beets in Spicy Meat stew

Method:

1. In a pressure cooker at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up, add the chopped onion and stir fry until the onion is just soft. Add meat, ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder and salt, and fry them along for a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and water and pressure cook until the meat is tender.
2. Later, add chopped beetroot and pressure cook again for 2-3 minutes until tender. Cook on high until the water has all almost dried up. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: Tastes delicious along with warm Parathas, or you can even savor it along with Basmati Chawal.

Luv,
Mona