Friday, 31 August 2012

Grilled Sandwich for tiny fingers: Cheesy Chicken and Vegetable Medley

This is 19 month old Baby A's favourite wholesome grilled chicken sandwich. It has his all time favourites ingredients which is chicken and creamy philadelphia cheese, and his newfound love- heinz ketchup! (seriously he likes ketchup so much, he could paint himself and the town red with it).  

I've added a medley of vegetables to the sandwich like carrots, broccoli, spinach and peas, and then enclosed it within 2 slices of wholegrain bread. Grilling the sandwich gives the sandwich a lovely crunchy outer and juicy, creamy inner. A good lunch time meal. You could use any vegetables your lil one likes, to make it appetising for them.

To make this Cheesy Chicken and Vegetable Medley Grilled Sandwich
Ingredients: ( makes 1 sandwich)
Chicken: 1 medium size piece.
Mixed vegetables ( chopped carrots, small broccoli florets, whole peas): 2 tbsps (you could use corn kernels, peppers, beans anything that your child enjoys)
Baby leaf spinach: few
Philadelphia Original Cheese spread: 2 tsps
White Pepper powder: a pinch (optional)
Ketchup:1 tsp
Butter: 1/4 tsp (for grilling sandwich)
Cardomom: 1 pod
Wholegrain bread: 2 slices

1. In a small vessel take chicken, chopped vegetables and a cardomom pod. Add enough water to just cover the chicken. Add a pinch of salt. Close the vessel and bring to a gentle simmer on medium heat. Allow the chicken to cook well and the vegetables to turn soft ( around 15-20 minutes). Just before turning off the heat add the baby spinach and cook for another minute. 
2. Then drain the chicken and vegetables into a bowl and let it cool down. Reserve any remaining stock to make soup another time. Shred the chicken and chop the cooked vegetables and spinach into smaller bits. Add a tsp of cheese spread to the chicken vegetable mixture, mix well. Taste for seasoning. Add a pinch of pepper if desired.
3. Place the bread slices on a board. Thinly spread ketchup on both slices, then spread a tsp of cream cheese on the bottom slice only. Place the chicken and vegetable mixture over the bottom slice. Cover the mixture with the top bread slice. 
Apply a thin smear of butter to the outer surface of both slices of bread and grill till the bread turns a lovely golden brown.

I serve it with reduced salt herby corn puffs or vegetable crisps and a small dollop of ketchup :)

I hope your little one enjoys it too.

Carol Sequeira Pereira.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Instant Mangalorean Jackfruit/ Ponsachey Patholi

Baby A has grown to a reasonable height that now permits him to fiddle with all the buttons on my washing machine, dish washer and oven in the kitchen. There are several times when my washing machine has stopped mid-cycle because someone's little fingers has been playing with the settings, and in that last minute dash before leaving the house, as Im scrambling to pull out my favourite jumper off the washer, I realise that its still covered in soap bubbles :((( or  when I open the oven to remove a baked dish I see its still uncooked an hour later because the heat dial has been turned off ...grrrrr!!!  in such situations other than pinning him down to a push chair and listen to him moan, I prefer to spend minimal time cooking and maximum time following his cheeky moves :)

Hubby has had this super craving for Jackfruit patholis for a long time now. Since jackfruit is a rarity here, we have not been able to make it so far. This week, lady luck was on his side, and he found a can of ripe jackfruit in the aisles of our local Asian store. Coincidentally our turmeric plant of 2 years had a few medium sized leaves ready for use, so we decided to make a few Ponsachey or Jackfriut patholis in these leaves. Today was a perfect day to make it, being a bank holiday Monday, weather being crappy and wet, Baby A on a mini snooze, we had the oppurtune time on our hands to conjure up these patholis. Believe you me, with this recipe they were ready to eat in record time, that is 35-40 mins from start to finish :))) don't believe on.

This is my cheat recipe for an amazingly quick and delicious Jackfruit/ Ponsachey patholi. It uses ground rice powder, canned ripe jackfruit, jaggery, grated or dessicated coconut and ready spices. For all Mangalorean food lovers living in areas where jackfruit is rarity (and can be found in cans....bonus as you don't have to spend hours doing the cleaning), turmeric, teak or banana leaves are hard to come by (use foil or baking paper), or if you like me just couldn't be bothered with  the cumbersome soaking the rice for hours and grinding business, or the greasing of palms and cleaning jackfruit malarchy....this express recipe is MADE just for YOU!!!!!  

Ok I admit, patholis made traditionally from rice that is soaked and ground tastes better, for now I could care less, "Im sorry but 'Traditional' is temporarily on a break and 'Express' is here instead, Ive got 'little TROUBLE' brewing around the corner :)"

These patholis are wonderfully sweet, the jackfruit flavour shines through beautifully, with the hint of cardomom and pepper. Its texture is slightly  different owing to the ground rice flour. The caramelised cashewnuts adds that special touch which tempts you to dive in for another bite. The patholis steamed with turmeric leaves had an earthy distinct flavour that is very pleasing (29/08/2012Updated: I spoke with mom today and she says jackfruit patholis are best made in teak leaves, or kitchen foil/ baking paper. As Jackfruit has a wonderful fruity flavour on its own, the earthy flavour of turmeric might overpower it).The patholis made in foil were equally tasty. Definitely an enjoyable treat, thousands of miles away from home, for no effort at all.

For my version of the Instant/ Express Jackfruit or Ponsachey Patholi with Caramelised Cashewnuts
Rice flour ground: 1 cup
Jackfruit : 4-5 whole pods
Jaggery: 3-4 tbsps or to taste
Salt : pinch
Pepper: 1/2 tsp
Cardomom: 1/4 tsp
Coconut grated :small handful.
Ready Caramelised Cashewnuts:10-12 nos (optional)

1. In a blender take the ground rice flour powder, add the chopped jackfruit pieces, jaggery  powdered, salt, pepper, cardomom powder, 2-3 tbsp of liquer from jackfruit can and blend the mixture to a thick smooth paste. Taste a tiny bit of the batter for sweetness and flavouring and adjust accordingly. The consistency of the batter should be thick and should drop off the spoon. Adjust the consistency by adding more liquid if too thick.

2. Place a spoonful of batter onto the prepared leaf. I used turmeric leaves. You could use teak, banana or even foil or butter paper if nothing is available. Place a couple of caramelised cashewnuts at the centre of the patholi (optional)

3. Close the leaf and place on a perforated plate and cook in steamer for around 20 mins or till done. This quantity will make around 5-6  medium sized patholis. I made 3 patholis in leaves and remaining batter I steamed in foil. 

Enjoy on a rainy day with a cup of filtered coffee.


Carol Sequeira Pereira.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Mangalorean Lamb Chops Green Curry with Fenugreek Leaves

This super delicious easy to prepare mutton or lamb curry is yet another addition to the numerous dishes that can be conjured up using the flavoursome and versatile Mangalore Green masala paste

The fresh fenugreek/ methi leaves adds a new dimension  to the curry and also perks up its nutrient profile. 

As in most of my meat preparations, I tend to lightly dust the meat/chops with flour and then lightly brown them in some oil before making the gravy. This step creates a wonderful caramelised surface that seals the meat and retains all of its tasty, flavoursome juices. I learned this trick from the Brits, the secret to juicy and succulent meat in stews. The flour also helps to thicken the gravy.

For more ideas and tasty recipes using  Mangalore Green masala pastecheckout the much loved Mangalore Style- Green Masala Baked Fish and  Spicy Green Masala Griddled Lamb Chops.

To make Lambs Chops Green Curry with Fenugreek leaves.

Lamb chops: 12 nos or 600gms
Green chillies: 3 slit
Curry leaves: 2 sprigs
Methi leaves: small bunch leaves removed.
Seasoned Flour for dusting: 1 cup
Oil for frying
Brown onions: 1 handful
Ginger garlic paste : 2tsps
Small tomato: 1 chopped
Mangalore Green masala paste :2 tbsps
Water for gravy
Vinegar to taste
Salt to taste

1. Lightly dust chops with seasoned flour. 
2. In a large vessel take 2 tbsps oil, fry slit green chillies and curry leaves for 2 minutes. Add the floured chops in a single layer, and fry for 3 mins on each side or till lightly browned. Then remove sealed chops and fried curry leaves and green chillies to a large plate and keep aside. 
3. In same pan, add more oil add the methi leaves, fry for 2-3 minutes on high flame till almost crispy, then add *ready browned onions warm through ( see notes below),  add ginger garlic paste and fry for 2-3 mins till the rawness of the ginger garlic paste is gone. Add the Mangalore green masala paste, fry for 2 mins, add the chopped tomato fry for few more minutes till the tomato softens. Add 2 cups of water, taste the gravy for salt, then add the sealed lamb chops. Close and cook on a gentle flame till done. Add vinegar/ lemon juice to taste. Check for seasonings.

Serve hot and relish this green masala lamb chops curry with some plain white rice/ parathas/ dosas (rice pancakes) or fresh milk buns from your local bakery :)


Caysera's notes:
1. Lamb chops sold in the UK tends to be very tender hence does not require to be pressure cooked. If using mutton or meat that is not tender, follow the above steps in a pressure cooker instead.
2. I use "crispy ready browned onions" in most of my cooking as it saves me a lot of time having to slice and then brown them on a stove top. Available in large packets in most superstores like Tesco's in the UK or in Asian stores.
If you do not have ready browned onions, simply fry one large thinly sliced onion in a vessel with sufficient oil (Step 3), once browned, keep to one side of the vessel while you add sufficient oil to fry the methi leaves and allow it to crisp up, then add the ginger garlic paste to the fried onions and methi leaves and follow the rest of the recipe as given above.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Cherry and Port Jam

I have never been a jam lover, but this changed within hours after the birth of Baby A. In the Post Delivery Ward where I was kept for observation, the mini kitchen was stocked with a variety of cereals, toast with a selection of jams and marmalade for breakfast. Not in the mood for the boring cereal and in the need of a sugar rush, I naturally reached out for a couple of tubs of mini jams and I was hooked!! For the next three months I just had the urge to treat myself to toast and jam for breakfast every single day (I cant believe now that I was soooo addicted to jam). Fortunately with time, my love for jam has begun to wane, until very recently I visited the Dorset Chilli Festival.

 Just reading the name of the jam on the jar, and seeing such deep vibrant cherries in a bottle with added Port was enough to tempt me into tasting it. This was enough to awaken the dormant jam demon within me :) and left me ever so determined to make my own.

Not much into jam making ( though my mom is a pro at it) I hunted for a good recipe, managed to find a simple step by step pictorial for "a no recipe cherry jam" online and instantly liked it. I slightly adapted the recipe to include port, and voila what you end up with is lovely textured jam, truly intense, full-bodied and bursting with deep ripe cherry flavors. 

This David Lebovitz's recipe is simple, fuss free and delicious with just one rule "for every cup of cooked cherry and its liquid add 3/4 cup of sugar". For a detailed pictorial guide visit his page.

Ingredients: Makes 1 large jar
Whole uncooked Cherries: 1 pound
Sugar: varies, depending on volume of cooked cherries, for every cup of cooked cherry add 3/4 cup of sugar
Any good port wine: approx 1/4 cup
Apple juice: approx 1/4 cup
Zest and juice of lime or lemon: 1 no.
Star anise: 1 (optional)

  • Method:
    1. Rinse the cherries and remove the stems. Using a Cherry pitter or a knife pit the cherries.   Chop about 3/4ths of them into smaller pieces, the rest leave whole for a varied texture.
    2. Cook the cherries in a large stainless steel vessel with just enough port wine and apple juice to soften or wilt cherries. Apple juice contains pectin that will cause the jam to set/ gel. Add the zest and juice of one fresh lemon. Lemon juice adds pectin as well as acidity, and also help the jam gel later on.
    3. Cook the cherries, stirring once in a while with a heat proof spatula, until they’re wilted and completely soft, which should take around 15-20 minutes on a medium to low flame.
    4. Once cooked, measure out the cherry mixture into a cup and use 3/4 cup of sugar for every cup of mixture.The sugar is necessary to keep the jam from spoilage.
    5. Stir the sugar and the cherries in the pot and cook over moderate-to-high heat. The best jam is cooked quickly. While it’s cooking, put a small white plate in the freezer. Scrape the bottom of the pot as you stir as well. Do not allow the jam to burn.
    6. Once the bubbles subside and the jam appears a bit thick and looks like it is beginning to gel, (it will coat the spatula in a clear jelly-like layer, but not too thick) turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the frozen plate and return to the freezer. After a few minutes, when you nudge it if it wrinkles, it’s done.
    If not, cook it some more, turn off the heat, and test it again. If you overcook your jam, the sugar will caramelize and it won’t taste good and there’s nothing you can do. Better to undercook it, test it, then cook it some more.
    8. Once it’s done and gelled, add another splash of port wine to the jam if desired. Port wine adds depth and sophistication to this jam. Ladle the warm jam into clean jars and cover. Cool at room temperature, then put in the refrigerator where it will keep for several months.
    A truly sophisticated jam for any occasion. Enjoy a thick slathering over a piece of toast, pancake, scone or on its own.

    Caysera's Notes:
    1. A jam is typically a conserve made with whole fruit and sugar that is then placed in jars and stored. The sugar that is added to jams both sweetens the fruit and acts as a preserving agent.
    2. Because cherries are fruits, their pectin content will vary by variety and ripeness. So it is likely if your jam is not jelling up you could add a splash of apple juice when cooking the cherries, which has a lot of pectin in it.

    3. You will find lots of information on sterilising bottles for filling jam into here


    Carol Sequeira Pereira.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Chicken with Olives and Pickled Lemons: Middle Eastern Special for Ramadan.

One of the things I love most about Middle Eastern cooking is the use of healthy, fresh, wholesome ingredients and an exotic combinations of spices. Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives is a very popular dish in the Middle East and more so in Morocco. 

This recipe uses an exotic, complex, aromatic Moroccan spice blend spice known as Ras El Hanout. Typically prepared by grinding together whole spices like cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, various peppers, and turmeric, dried roots and leaves. Certain  spice blends use 30 or more ingredients. Most mediterrenean and middle eastern stores stock Ras El Hanout. While some Moroccans use it in daily cooking, others reserve it for specialty dishes. 

The combination of olives, pickled lemons, and the Ras El Hanout spice gives birth to a unique chicken stew that is bursting with an unusual blend of flavors.

Why not enjoy the tangy and aromatic flavours of this Chicken dish with a serving of couscous or saffron rice.

To make Chicken with Olives and Pickled Lemons

Ingredients: Serves 4
Chicken: 1 small, chopped into medium curry size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil: 2tbsps
Onions: 2 thinly sliced
Garlic: 2 
cloves, thinly sliced
Sweet paprika: 1 tsp
Ground cumin: 1 tsp
Ground ginger: 1 tsp
Ground Coriander: 1 tsp
Bay leaf: 1
Saffron threads: Pinch
Ras el hanout: 
1/2 tsp
 cinnamon stick, broken in half: 1
Chicken stock: 2 cups
Pitted green olives: 1/2 cup
Preserved lemon/ pickled lemon: 2 quarters

Coriander leaves: 2 tbsp finely chopped
Parsley leaves: 2 tbsps finely chopped 

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy bottomed pot and add chicken fry till lighlty browned. Remove the chicken keep aside.

2. To the same pan add the onions. Cook the onions over low heat until they start to soften.
Add the garlic, bay leaf and spices, stir well to coat the onions with the spices.
3. Add the chicken stock to the pot and stir well. Add the chicken back to the pot.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a slow, steady simmer and cover. Cook for about 45 minutes and then add the olives and the pickled lemons. Continue cooking another 20-30 minutes, uncovered, or until the chicken is falling off the bone.
4. Remove the chicken from the pot and continue cooking the liquid until it reduces to a saucy consistency. Add the lemon juice, cilantro, and parsley to the sauce.

Serve the chicken with saffron rice or cous cous. Spoon the sauce on top.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Goan Chicken Xacuti without Coconut.

Goan Chicken Xacuti (Chacouti or Shakutiis a hot, spicy and flavourful curry that is traditionally made in Goa, using a blend of various spices and ground coconut. Goans love their Xacuti and you would find mutton, crabs, prawns or even vegetables lovingly cooked in this special blend.

As for me, I was in a mood to be creative, so decided to use a good amount of  "sunshine in a bottle" aka  *sunflower seeds*  instead of the usual grated coconut for the spice paste. These seeds are nutrient dense and packed with wonderful life enriching ingredients (see notes below for benefits). 

Certainly a good decision as the resulting curry is not only tasty, but low in fat, hot, flavourful and fragnant. It might actually transport you to one of the foodie shacks on the sunny beaches of Goa. 

So why not make it, then sit back and dip into it with the Goan pav/ bread, not forgetting your favourite tipple alongside, maybe a chilled pint or better still the Goan Feni  :) Enjoy! Cheers!!

For My Version of the Goan Chicken Xacuti (without Coconut)
Chicken: 1, skin removed, cleaned and cut into medium sized pieces

For Spice paste:
Sunflower seeds: half a cup (naked/ without outer skin)
Cashew nuts: 4-5
Poppy seeds: 2 tbsps
Garlic flakes: 3 large or 6 small flakes
Kashmiri red chilli powder: 2-3 heaped tsps (for medium to hot heat level)
Turmeric powder: little less than 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder: 2.5 tbsps
Cumin powder: 1 heaped tsp
Saunf/ fennel seeds: 1tsp
Oma/ ajwain seed: 2 pinches
Cinnamon: 2 inch stick
Cloves: 5 nos.
Star anise: 1
Nutmeg: 1/4 tsp

For frying:
Oil: 1-2 tbsp
Onion: 1 large chopped
Salt to taste
Lemon juice or tamarind extract to taste

1. In a pan dry roast the sunflower seeds and cashew nuts together till slightly fragnant. Just before taking off add the poppy seeds and fry another thirty seconds. Put into a mixie. Add all the other masala ingredients and grind with enough water to form a fine paste.
2. In a large vessel take oil when hot add chopped onions and a little salt and fry till edges of onions brown. Then add the masala /spice paste and fry for 2-3 minutes, add the cut chicken and fry for another 2-3 minutes on a high flame till the surfaces appear white or sealed.
3. Add enough water to just cover the chicken, add salt, close vessel and cook till chicken is done. Make sure to turn/ stir in between to make sure masala/ spice paste is not sticking to base. Once chicken is cooked adjust the consisitency of gravy to your liking by adding in hot water. I left the gravy slightly thick.
4. Just before taking off the heat check for salt, squeeze over lemon juice/ tamarind extract to desired taste.

5. Seasoning (Optional step):  This step will gives the curry the lovely flavour of coconut.
In 2-3 tsps of coconut oil fry a few curry leaves when crispy pour over curry. Mix well.

Caysera's notes:
 1. Sunflower seeds are rich in the B complex vitamins, which are essential for a healthy nervous system, and are a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin E. 
They also contain trace minerals, zinc, manganese, copper, chromium and carotene as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids - types of 'good' fat that may help to protect the arteries. 
A good natural source of zinc, sunflower seeds are popular immune boosters. They may also help protect against heart disease while their vitamin B can help in the fight against stress. For more information read  here
2. I have used Kashmiri red chillies in the spice paste to add heat to the curry. If using any other chilli powders please adjust quantities to suit your palate.


Carol Sequeira Pereira

Monday, 6 August 2012

Tomato and Herb Scrambled Eggs.

Baby A is now 18 months old. Ive tried feeding him eggs in different forms since he was 9m. This is by far one of Baby A's favourite form of scrambled eggs. I guess he loves the flavour and colour the tomatoes lend to the eggs. I have used a pinch of sweet smoky paprika for spice and dried thyme for flavour.

To make Tomato and Herb scrambled eggs:
Egg: 1
Tomato: 1/2 medium deseeded and chopped finely
Dried thyme: 2 pinches
Smoked sweet paprika: pinch
Salt to taste
Olive oil: 1 tsp
Grated cheddar cheese: 2 tsps.

1. Take egg in a bowl, add 2 pinches of salt, beat well.
2. In a nonstick pan take oil, when hot add finely chopped tomato and a pinch of salt.
Fry till tomato turns soft.
3. Add dried thyme and paprika to the fried and softened tomato. Fry for couple of seconds, then add the well beaten eggs. Cook on a low flame till well done.
4. Serve on a plate and sprinkle over grated cheese. Serve with buttered toast or with mini naans.


Carol Sequeira Pereira.