Monday, 28 November 2011

Spicy Mulled Wine- For your Christmas Party!

If you arent in the mood of making wine this Christmas, and the thought of all that squashing and stirring is getting you down... don't fret...for there is something simple, warm, spicy and special that I have found for you, that will surely wow your guests!! Will make a statement at any party!! 
...... pick up a bottle of red wine and watch it tranform in your kitchen to a spice filled aromatic warm minutes.....this will guarantee to keep your guest's spirits soaring !!
Recipe Source: Waitrose
Mulled Wine 
  • Preparation Time: 5 mins
  • Cooking Time: 45 mins
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 Tangerines/ Oranges
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 mace blades
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 750 ml robust red wine (try Beaujolais)
  • 30 ml brandy (optional)
  • Tangerine/orange slices to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Stud each tangerine/ orange with 5 cloves and place on a baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes, then set aside to cool slightly before slicing with a serrated knife. Transfer these tangerine slices to a large saucepan with the cinnamon sticks, mace, bay leaves, sugar and 300ml water.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then turn the heat right down and add the wine. Heat through very slowly for 20 minutes without boiling – or else the alcohol will evaporate. Add the brandy, if you're using it, and strain.
  3. Add the slices of fresh tangerine or orange, then warm through before serving.

Picture coming ......after my Christmas party!!

Bournemouth CHRISTMAS market 2011

This Sunday was the start of the German Christmas markets. The weather was sunny and bright with a slight chill in the air at 13C.

We saw Santa Claus climbing a pole :)..............................

 ..people enjoying the market.....

.....there were 2 huge hogs roasting for grabs.........

hmmmm....smelt delicious.........

and the succulent spiced famous grilled german sausages/ bratwursts...........slurpp!!!!!

......we visited the busy German mulled wine and beer bar....

had a mug of hot cherry and original gluhwein/ mulled wine............spirited and flavourful!!

some crepes as well......

was very delightful!! 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Are you Getting Ready for Christmas!!

It is exactly a month to Christmas.......and its the beginning of Advent....... time to dust off the advent wreath and pop in on your door :)....yes friends it is the four weeks before Christmas..........and I'm loving it!!.......

..... for me the build up to Christmas is one of the most exciting times of the year....when you feel the Christmas cheer....see people with beaming smiles and huge shopping long winter coats bustling hear Christmas Carol's being children chewing on marzipan sweets running around the Christmas tree in the square.....while adults sipping on warm German spiced mulled wine/ Gluwein, grab themselves hot bratwursts, grilled pork steaks  and the ever popular Stollen (fruit cake)  at the Christmas Markets...hmmm is officially the start of the Christmas season this Sunday.....and that means its time to get the apron strings tied in preparation for the BIG day!! If you havent started already then this is probably a good time to make sure the season is "stress free" and you are  "well prepared".

1. This weekend buy your favourite seasonal fruit and get them fermenting for your very own Christmas wine (as it will take at least 3 weeks for fermenting to complete). You will find tons of different winemaking recipes here and here.
2. Buy your favourite assortment of dried fruits and nuts for soaking in alcohol. I usually soak mine a month before I bake the Christmas cake.
3. Three weeks before christmas, start making your favourite christmas treats/ Kuswar for Christmas, and stash them away in airtight boxes ( hopefully where no one can find them ;) ....
4. If you planning on having family and friends over during the Christmas season then  its a good time to start inviting friends and blocking dates in the calendar as the season does get very busy.........
5. And of course Christmas and when you please :) the best sales happening now....also on Christmas eve and boxing day :) but dont think im gonna risk it!!

So that's it for now friends..........if you still have the juice to read a little more then i'm gonna leave you with a little about what Christmas is all about......Here is to the start of a Blessed and  wonderful season!! Cheers!!

*Recipes to follow soon....

A picture taken from our house during 2010 December.........a white one ....fingers crossed for a White Christmas 2011.......

Christmas is the festival that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. 

It is unclear exactly when Jesus Christ - whose life and teachings are the foundation of mainstream Christianity - was born, but most Christian calendars observe December 25th as the date of his birth. The first commemoration of December 25th as the birth of Christ was held in the fourth century AD. This date was chosen by Pope Julius I (337-352), and coincided with a pagan feast celebrated by the Romans.

December 25th was selected as the birth date of Jesus Christ because March 25th, which was the pagan festival of spring, was perceived to be the date of his conception. By adding nine months to that date, it was assumed therefore, that Jesus Christ was born on December 25th.

In many churches, the Christmas season begins on the first Sunday of Advent, which is the Sunday nearest to November 30th, and continues until Christmas Eve. Traditionally, Advent was the time of preparation for Christ's Nativity. This is followed by the twelve days of Christmas, December 25th to January 6th. The last day of Christmas, January 6th (Epiphany), represents the day that the Three Wise Men arrived to pay homage to the baby Jesus.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Hot and Spicy Sardine Curry without Coconut

This is a very simple and tasty sardine curry. I learned to make it from my mom.  Here the spices for the masala/ spice paste requires no roasting or frying.

Sardines: 30
For Grinding:
Kashmiri Dried red chillies: 12-15 nos
Pepper corns: 8 nos
Coriander seeds: 2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds: 1tsp
Whole cumin: 1 tsp
Methi/ Fenugreek seeds: 1tsp
Onion: 1 small
Tamarind : 2tsps extract or marble size ball
Salt to taste
For tempering:
Oil: 2 tbsps
Few curry leaves
For Garnish: few coriander leaves chopped.

1. Clean and wash sardines well. To reduce fishy smell of sardines wash in a final rinse of vinegar.
2. Grind the masala to a fine paste. Keep aside. Rinse the grinding stone or blender with 3 cups of drinking water. Reserve.
3. Heat oil in a vessel, once hot add curry leaves and fry for few seconds
4. Add the ground masala and the reserved masala water. Bring to a boil. Add salt to taste.
5. Add the sardines to the hot gravy gently one at a time. Close the lid and allow to cook on a medium heat for 7-10 minutes or till done.Taste for seasonings. Sprinkle over chopped coriander leaves.
6. Serve hot with white or boiled rice.


Monday, 21 November 2011

Mangalorean Chicken Sukka, Chicken in a Dry Spice Paste with Coconut

Tender morsels of meat enrobed in a delicate spice paste that is enriched with a grand sprinkling of freshly grated coconut......hmmmmm...

This is mom's sublime recipe for a traditional and much loved Mangalorean dish. Prepared using meats like chicken/ country chicken, game meats like pheasant and rabbit. Served at Mangalorean weddings or the day before the wedding (ie. the roce ceremony) or special occasions/parties...... this dish rocks!! and one doesnt need a celebration to devour it.....

There was a point in time when I so health conscious that I used to avoid coconut in any form. Those were the days when doctors said that consuming coconut  related to heart disease and obesity. But now, things have the sense... the advancements in research of the humble coconut has so progressed that it is now proven that the coconut infact is beneficial for one's health.....intrigued?? I was too :)

Have a read about it at it is very enlightening.

For those of you who are still not convinced ......unfortunately there is no sukka dish without the star ingredient "coconut". But having said that...the gravy in this recipe is so tasty it can be served before the addition of coconut:)......just finish the dish with a sprinkling of finely chopped coriander leaves and Enjoy!!...So this is a win win recipe for all. .. even-though its better with the cocount ;). 

To make mom Chicken Sukka recipe you will need:
Chicken/ other game meat: 1kg
Onions: 1 large/ 2 medium for browning
Oil/ ghee: 2 tbsps
Salt to taste.
Spice paste 1-For Roasting and Grinding:
Onion: 1 medium size
Dried long red ( Kashmir)i chillies : 8
Dried short red chillies: 3
Coriander seeds: 2.5 tbsps
Peppercorns: 7
Methi: 1/4 tsp
Ajwain seeds/ Oma: 1/4 tsp
Saunf/ Fennel seeds: 1/4 tsp
to be added to roasted ingredients before grinding:
Garam masala: 1tsp
Tamarind concentrate: 2 tsps
Spice Mixture-2 To be added once chicken is cooked:
Grated coconut: 1 handful
Garlic: 5 large/ 10 small cloves
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

1. Roast all the ingredients for Spice paste-1, using a little oil on a low flame. 

 First roast the onions 3-4 mins

then add Dried red chillies roast for a minute

then roast the rest of the ingredients for a minute. Let it cool.

Add the garam masala powder to roasted ingredients,

Add tamarind concentrate 

Grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside.

2. De-skin and chop the chicken/ rabbit into bite size pieces (along with the bone as it is tastier)
3. Heat oil/ ghee and fry the onion till golden brown. ( I have used ready browned onions from a packet)

4. Add the chopped meat and salt and fry for 2 minutes on a high flame. Add the ground spice paste-1, and mix well.  Turn the flame down and allow the meat to cook covered till done, stirring every few minutes. Add water only if required to cook meat. If using game meats like country chicken or pheasant which can be tougher, use a pressure cooker to cook the meat using a little water.

5. While the meat is cooking, prepare Spice Mixture-2,  place the ingredients in a blender and coarsely grind without adding any water. 

6. Once the meat is cooked, if the gravy is very thick, add 2-3tbsps water to loosen the gravy slightly, taste for salt and sourness and correct. If there is too much gravy allow it to dry up a little it by increasing the flame and keeping the vessel open.

7. Add the Spice mixture-2. Mix well. Cook for a further 5 minutes on a slow flame. 

Serve hot with boiled/ white rice, Daaliso Saar and a vegetable on the side. 

Or else enjoy it with your feet up, watching your favourite movie, with a hand bowl and tissues on one side, and your fav tipple on the other  :) 

If you did enjoy this recipe why not drop me a line in the comments bar.....or better still join my blog by clicking on the google join me tab  on the left hand side of this blog....would make me really happy actually very very :).....go on make my day!!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Spicy Green Masala Griddled Lamb Chops

This hot and spicy Lamb chops preparation is refreshingly sensual and tastebud tantalising good. Cook it over a coal barbeque or in a hot griddle pan and enjoy its juicy and wholesome flavour.

To make it,  marinade the chops with the Mangalore Green Masala Paste, some vinegar and salt. Leave it sitting for an hour and then pan fry it in a griddle pan for 2-3 minutes each side on a high heat till done. Then prepare a quick and easy sauce to go with it. Suitable for a winters day with a fresh salad and buttered rice.

To make the Spicy Green Masala Griddled Lamb Chops you will need: 

Lamb chops-4 nos.
Vinegar: 1 tsp
Olive oil: 2tsps
Salt to taste

For the sauce-
White wine- 2 tsps
pinch of sugar
Water- 3tbsps

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together,  pat down over the chops. Cover and marinate for an hour or longer if you can. 

2. Place the chops on a hot griddle pan fat side down first to render the fat down and turn it crispy then fry for 2-3 minutes on each side or until done to your liking.

 2. Remove from the pan and allow to rest on a plate for a couple of minutes while you prepare the sauce. 

3. For the sauce deglaze the pan in which the chops was cooked in by pour in three tbsps of water into the pan to loosen all the spicy  marinade at the bottom of griddle pan, then add the other sauce ingredients. Bring to one boil, pour over the chops.

4.  Serve along with a fresh salad and warm buttered rice.

Enjoy! !

Mangalore Green Masala Paste

This flavourful and aromatic spicy green paste is another Mangalorean Classic. It is used very often in Mangalorean cooking. It is so versatile, it can be used to make Chicken Green Curry, Mutton and Beef Curry, Minced meat dishes, Baked Fish, Chicken Biriyani, Crumb Fried Fish, Vegetable Curry, Fried Meat Steaks....the options are endless. (recipes coming soon)

Every holiday I always return armed with Mom's special Green masala paste and her Meet mirsang paste ( spicy chilli paste) as they are so useful for cooking up dishes in minutes.. 

Over the many years that we have been away from home Mom has continuosly tried to adapt her recipes to make her dishes and spice pastes go a long way. In this recipe mom fries this paste very well in oil so that it preserves for months together in an airtight bottle in the fridge. It always comes in handy on those rainy days :)

The wonderful blend of fresh coriander leaves, green chillies and whole spices adds so much flavour to any preparation.

To make mom's green masala paste you will need: (this quantity will suffice for preparing 1 kg chicken curry)

Fresh Coriander leaves: 1 small bunch
Mint leaves: a few
Ginger:.1 inch piece
Garlic: 5 large cloves
Green chillies: 7
Pepper corns: 1tsp
Cumin seeds: 2 tsps
Coriander seeds: 2 tsps
Cinnamon: 2 inch piece
Cloves: 5 nos.
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp

1. Wash coriander leaves and take off leaves. Dry well on a clean cloth.
2. Clean and mince finely ginger and garlic.
3. Remove stems of green chillies.
4. Grind all the ingredients to a fine paste using a little water. Green masala is ready for use .
5. For a larger quantity (if bottling) multiply all the recipe ingredients ( X5/X10 times) . Prepare as above Steps 1-3. Grind in a diluted solution of vinegar (2 tbsps concentrated vinegar in a cup of water). Use  diluted vinegar as required to make a thick paste)

6. There are two ways to preserve this ground paste:
a. the ground paste can be either fried really well in sufficient oil till it turns a dark green colour and oil starts leaving the sides of the masala, cool and bottle. 
b. the freshly ground paste can be preserved by using a preservative like sodium benzoate.
Mom usually follows method (a).
7. Bottle the prepared green masala paste in a sterilised dry airtight bottle and store in the fridge for a few months (5-6 months). Use a dry spoon as and when required. Remember to close the lid tight after use.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Portugal Calling!

Our most recent holiday was to the city of Oporto in Portugal. Classified as a UNESCO world heritage site, the city is built along the hillsides overlooking the mouth of the Douro river, an outstanding urban landscape with a 2,000-year history. This old city is so picturesque and is an artist's/ a photographer's delight. 

Old stone pathways and roads, snake through the city, carrying tourists and locals up and down its steep slopes.

The Duoro river that flows through the heart of the city shimmers with the daytime sun and the night time lights. An assortment of coloured houses built on the mountain slopes gives this town its unique landscape. We were lucky to have a  magnificent view of Oporto in all its glory, during our short stay at Hotel Bolsa in the centre of the town.

The best way to see the city is by foot. A guided bus tour takes tourists to the historic spots the city is proud and well known for.

A river cruise was a novel way to see the town, with bright clear skies and a refreshing cool wind, a lovely experience, heightened with onboard port wine :)

Ive always been curious about the Portugese culture and cuisine, our ancestors being Portugese, this trip was an eye- opener a fascinating discovery of our roots.

Some of Porto's classic must have dishes:
Tripe (Tripas à moda do Porto) or tripe with white beans.

Francesinha (meaning Little Frenchie or simply Frenchie in Portugese is a Portugese sandwich originally from Porto, made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguica, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with molten cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with french fries.

Grilled Octopus: Succulent and tender Octopus, best eaten grilled. The Portugese are excellent with their seafood preparations. The best grilled Octopus we had was at Cometa and A Grade.

 Bacalhau: Dried salted cod preparation: It is said that there are more than 365 ways to cook cod, one for every day of the year. In Portugal the cod is almost always used dried and salted because the Portuguese fishing tradition in the North Atlantic developed before the invention of refrigeration.
These were moist and delicately spiced cod croquettes, very tasty at Antonio and Ida's family restaurant.  

Grilled squid- yummm

Pork brisket grilled: Meaty and flavourful at Antonio's and Ida's restaurant.

 Sweet Almond Pie

 Sardines Escebeche: Fried sardines marinated in olive oil and vinegar. Tried and loved the preparation at A Grade.

We were lucky to have tried all these specialities and they were lip smacking good.Most of the places we ate in were run by families who were very courteous and kind. It is a good idea  to learn a few basic Portugese words as English is not widely spoken.

Port Wine: Porto's port wine lodges opened their doors to visitors in the 1960s, and have since become the city's most sought-after attraction. They offer free guided tours and tastings, explaining the winemaking and storage process, as well as the origin and characteristics of the wine. 

Huge Barrels of wine maturing in Caves. Largest barrels storing upto 120,000 litres of wine.
 Vintage Ruby wines

 Tawny wines

 Baby on a self- guided tour of the winery...:)

Someone's feeling left out :(  during the wine tastings.....

To end our trip we visited Porto's old market where we were fascinated to see the most delightful  collection of spices, fruits and flowers, meats and cured sausages.

A visit to the local bakery also known as Confeiteria made our trip complete. I have never seen such a delightful collection of savoury and sweet treats under one roof. It was foodie's wonderland.

All in all a trip worth making, a place we would definetely love to return to.