Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Lavender Biscuits

My earliest memory of this sweet smelling fragnance goes way back to when we were little,  mom or dad used to powder our faces every morning with Yardley's English Lavender. I can still close my eyes and clearly recollect its distinct soothing and calming fragnance.
Fast forward to the present, and every June, Britian is filled with bunches of this sweet smelling, tiny purple beauties. An absolute visual and sensual treat. Popular in the skin care, beauty and relaxing therapies industry, I was on a mission to find a use for it in my kitchen. 

After hunting high and low for an edible treat with lavender, found a recipe for "Lavender Biscuits" by the well known Chef Gordon Ramsay. Without a second thought these biscuits were made, couple were eaten minutes after they left the oven,  remainder put into packets and shared with friends. 

These biscuits are very easy to make, mildly sweet, extremely short, buttery and melt in the mouth, truly irrestible. The freshly chopped lavender leaves and flowers added to the biscuit dough give these biscuits a subtle aromatic and magical touch. Would make a very good gift to cheer a friend up, or an excellent tea time treat when you have family/ friends over.

To make Lavender Biscuits 
Recipe Source: Chef Gordon Ramsay
Makes 16 biscuits
Golden caster sugar : 50g
Unsalted butter:130g
Self-raising flour: 200g
Chopped lavender leaves:1 tbsp
Lavender flowers: 2 tsp

1. Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the flour and lavender leaves and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to come together.
Turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly to form a dough. Flatten to a disc, then wrap and chill for 20 mins.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
Roll out the biscuit dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of half a centimetre. Sprinkle over the flowers and gently press them into the dough with a rolling pin or your fingertips. Using an 8cm pastry cutter, stamp out rounds then transfer to a greased baking sheet.Bake for 7-8 mins until lightly golden.
3. Remove from the oven and leave on the baking tray for 2 mins before releasing with a palette knife. Slide on to a wire rack to cool. 

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Caysera'a notes:
1. To harvest the flowers for drying, cut them just before all the buds fully open. Hang in small bunches upside down in a warm, dark spot with good air circulation. 
Make a sachet of dried leaves and flowers and place between your pillow and pillow case to enhance a good night’s sleep. 
2. Dried and fresh Lavender flowers are edible. When cooking with lavender, use 1/3 the quantity of dried flowers to fresh. Use the flowers in salads, added to soups and stews, used as a seasoning, baked into cookies and brewed into teas. 
3. Lavender is a member of the mint family and is close to rosemary, sage, and thyme. It is best used with fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme and sage.


Carol Sequeira Pereira.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Oven baked tomato chicken- for little tots.

This is Baby A's favourite baked chicken dish. Its is tomatoey and tangy with a hint of flavour from the curry leaves and herbs. I usually double the recipe as Baby A happily ignores all the sides on his plate and just goes for the chicken.

Ingredients: Serves 1
Chicken thigh or leg with skin on: 1 portion
Tomato concentrate  (double): 1 tsp or 3 tbsps of tomato puree
Ginger garlic paste: 3/4 tsp
Herbes de provence: 2 generous pinches (optional) or use any other herb
Salt to taste
Curry leaves: 5 nos
Oil: 1 tsp

1. Take the tomato concentrate, ginger-garlic paste, herb de provence into a bowl mix well to form a paste, add salt to taste.
2. Make deep slits/cuts into the thigh to allow marinade to penetrate meat, coat the chicken thigh well with marinade, making sure it enters the slits. Keep aside for an hour to marinade. 
3. Place the marinaded chicken in a small baking dish along with all its marinading juices.
4. Preheat oven to 180C for 7 minutes.
5. Heat a small vessel, add oil, when hot add curry leaves, allow to crisp up, pour flavoured oil with curry leaves over the chicken. Place chicken in centre of oven and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes till completely cooked, turning once in between.

I usually serve this with mushy peas and baby potatoes ( its a different story that Baby A doesnt bother looking at the sides, and either hubby or me land up eating it ;)

Caysera's notes:
*I prefer to cook the chicken with skin on for Baby A, as it keeps the meat really moist and juicy. However I do deskin it before serving it to him.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Chilli Wings/ Wings on Fire

Any diehard fan of chicken wings is sure to devour these super simple chilli wings. Made using the "heavenly combo of chilli powder, lime or lemon juice and salt" it is simplicity and pleasure at its peak. Much like the Indian highway dhaaba food. Named them the "Wings of Fire" because of their lovely bright orangey red colour.

This chilli-lime-salt combo brings back memories of being on the streets of Bangalore relishing raw mangoes, guavas, corn on the cob or goose berries sprinkled with it,.....its amazing how this simple spice combination can transform anything it touches.. delivers a sharp pain in the salivary glands at sight, not failing to bring on the drool effect every single time. It transform these wings to pleasurable spicy delights, hot, tangy and delicious, crispy on the outside and juicy inside..... Do give them a try, I'd love to know how you enjoyed them.

To make this super simple Chilli Wings
Chicken wings with drummetes: 5 nos.( Seperate the drummetes from the wings, will give you 10 pieces)
Kashmiri chilli powder: 2 heaped tsps
Lemon/ lime juice: enough to make a smooth shiny paste
Salt to taste
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Oil for frying

1. Take the red chilli powder in a bowl, add the lime/ lemon juice to the chilli powder till it forms a smooth shiny paste, neither too thick nor too runny. Add salt to taste and a little bit more. Make horizontal cuts in the wings using a knife in 2-3 places to allow marinade to penetrate meat bettter. Smear/ rub the marinade all over and into the cuts in the chicken wings, keep aside for atleast an hour.
2. In a non stick pan heat 2- 3 tbsps oil. When hot add curry leaves and fry for a few seconds, then add the chicken wings into the pan in a single layer, cover and fry on a medium- high flame till the chicken is cooked and outer skin appears crispy, turn once in between. No need to add water. Add more oil if needed to fry well.
Squeeze over lemon juice before serving and enjoy!! Makes a good accompaniment to drinks

Caysera's Notes:
I use Kashmiri/ Bydagi Chilli powder to make the chilli paste, it gives the wings this lovely orangey red colour without being too hot in taste. If using any other red chilli powder adjust the quantity to suit your heat levels.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Orange Chicken

If your little one loves oranges and chicken, and is not quite used to spicy food yet, then he or she is sure to love this super easy, mildly flavoured, combination of oranges and chicken. I have used sage for flavour and a pinch of black pepper for spice. An added squeeze of fresh orange juice just before serving enhances the oranginess of the dish.

I know Baby A loves Orange chicken ( for now atleast :)) as with every bite he takes he smiles and says "num yum num"..and a little later says "more.... more...more...." which I think says it all :))

Chicken drummets with wings or any other medium size pieces: 2 portions
Small orange/ clementine: 1 medium size.
Pepper: pinch (optional)
Dried sage: 2 generous pinches (or any other herb)
Salt to taste
Oil for frying: 1 tbsp

1. Prepare marinade: freshly squeeze orange juice into a bowl, add salt, pepper and sage.  Taste to make sure the seasoning is right.
2. Slit the chicken in 2 -3 places using a knife, to allow marinade to penetrate meat. Marinade the chicken pieces, keep bowl covered, leave overnight in the fridge. If short on time leave the chicken in marinade for a minimum of an hour.
3. In a non-stick pan heat oil. When hot add the chicken pieces to the pan (without any marinading juices from the bowl), fry on high heat for a few minutes on one side till the skin turns brown, turn and brown the other side. Then add 1/4- 1/2 cup of water to the marinading bowl and add to the pan, turn the heat down to medium and allow the chicken to cook covered, turn half way through to allow other side to cook. Once done allow  all the gravy to dry up.
Squeeze over a bit more fresh orange juice just before serving. Serve along with buttered mash potatoes and a portion of steamed carrots and beans.

I prefer to use chicken with skin on while frying, keeps the meat moist. You could remove the skin after chicken is cooked if you prefer or serve as is.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Chilli Pork Ribs

This heartwarming and simple, spicy pork preparation is sure to hit all your senses and get your tastebuds dancing.


Pork ribs: 500gms
Oil : 1 tbsp
Garlic flakes: 3 chopped.
Chicken Stock: 1 cup made with 1 oxo chicken cube.

For Marinade:
Kashmiri chilli powder: 1 tsp (adjust according to your spice levels. For all other chilli powders adjust accordingly)
Pepper powder :1/2 tsp
Tumeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala powder: 1 tsp
Ginger powder/ paste : 3/4 tsp.
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp 
White wine vinegar: 3 tsps
Tomato ketchup :2 tbsps
Sugar:1.5 tsps

Water to make thick paste.

1. Prepare the marinade by mixing all the marinade ingredients into a thick paste. Adjust its consistency using water. Taste for salt and sourness and adjust accordingly.
2. Apply marinade to pork ribs. Keep aside for an hour or more.
3.Place a large non stick pan on the fire, add oil. Once oil is hot add the pork chops in a single layer and fry for a couple of minutes on each side to seal the meat. Then add the chopped garlic flakes and chicken stock cover the pan and cook on low to medium heat till done and almost falls of the bone. Add more water if needed to cook the meat.
4. Once the meat is cooked, open the lid and allow most of the gravy to dry up on a high flame. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and a squeeze of lemon if required. 

Serve hot with an accompaniment of creamy mashed potatoes and a fresh salad.

Caysera's Notes:
1. Substitute the red chilli powder with Mangalore Baffat powder for  Baffat style pork ribs.


Carol Sequeira Pereira.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Methi and Oats Porridge. A postnatal recipe for new mothers..

This post has been long time due, almost 18months in the waiting......It takes me back to the time following the birth of Baby A.

The early days following the birth of Baby A was definitely a trying period for both hubby and myself. It was tiresome and manic at times, but one that was worth every moment. Being so far away from home with no one to help us in our newfound responsibility, we were enveloped in a bubble of apprehension and joy, at the same time sleepless nights and caring for a newborn child took its toll on our mind and bodies.  
It was during this period  that we both relied on  simple, nutritious and wholesome meals that did our bodies a world of good. Of the many postnatal traditional recipes that hubby and me managed to collect from family this one is my favorite. 

Its is my definition of comfort or soul food. So simple, wholesome, flavourful and nutritious. I could have it any day, every day

Why Oatmeal Postnatally?

Lactation specialists recommend new mothers eating a breakfast of whole oatmeal. 
It is found to having a soothing or calming effect on many mothers, promoting relaxation and relief from depression, which in turn helps the mother's body produce more milk.  Oatmeal also contains minerals that help stimulate the hormone oxytocin, contributing to successful letdown during lactation. It is a good source of fibre which is good for one's heart and gut, as it helps food transit smoothly and avoids constipation and piles which is very common after normal delivery.

The Methi/ Fenugreek leaves in this porridge is enriched with minerals like potassium, calcium, and iron, also increases the milk production in breastfeeding mothers (a well known galactalogue). 
Lentils in the porridge is a good source of protein and fibre. I have used green lentils in this recipe, but any lentil like naked mung beans, butter beans, soya beans or chickpeas can also be used. If using raw mung beans see notes below*.
When Im in a hurry I tend to use instant oats as it takes just 3-4 minutes to cook. You could use rolled oats (more nutritious) to make this porridge .

Ingredients: Serves 2 
Sunflower or Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Ginger: 1 inch piece peeled and minced finely
Red chillies dry: 2 deseeded and slit
Curry leaves: 1 sprig

Dried kasoori methi leaves/ fenugreek leaves: 2 tbsps
Hing/Asoefitida: a pinch
Small can of cooked green lentils or any cooked lentil of your choice: 3/4 cup
Whole Rolled oats: 1 cup or
Instant Oats: 54 gms or 2 satchets (each satchet weighing 27 gms) .
Black pepper: 1/4 tsp powder

Salt and lemon juice to taste

1. In a vessel heat olive oil/ any oil. Add the chopped ginger, curry leaves and dry chillies and fry for a minute on medium heat, then add hing and the kasturi methi leaves and fry for another minute. To this add the rinsed ready cooked green lentils and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then add the hot water (2 and half cups of water for instant oats and 3 cups for rolled oats), add salt to taste. Cover and cook the lentils on low flame for 2-3 mins.
2. Then add the oats, stir to avoid lumps, then close and allow to cook for 3-5 mins on a low heat till done. Adjust the consistency of the porridge by adding hot water if you like it thinner, adjust salt accordingly, sprinkle pepper powder and squeeze over lemon juice. 
You could add a few drops of ghee over the oats before serving, if desired.

Turn off the heat and serve warm for breakfast or as a snack during the day.

*Caysera's notes:
1.  If using raw mung beans soak a small handful in water overnight then drain and add to pot after frying kasoori methi, add the hot water and salt. Close lid and allow to cook till done ( will take a few mins). You can then add the oats and follow the rest of the recipe as above.
2. Those with gluten sensitivity may want to buy oats that are gluten-free.


Carol Sequeira Pereira.