October 30, 2006

Final call for entries at VCC Q3 2006 - deadline October 31, 2006

Folks - here is our final call for entries at VCC Q3 2006.

Details in brief:
Theme: Festival foods - any cuisine.
First place winner's prize money: This time it is One Hundred US dollars (100 USD) (sponsored by My Dhaba).
Deadline for entries: October 31, 2006, 12 midnight, EST (i.e. tomorrow)
Other details - find it here.

We welcome you to participate in VCC Q3 2006. Pick one of your interesting festival food recipe and nominate it at this virtual cooking competition event. We want to see you being applauded for the great passion you have towards cooking food at home. Don’t Miss It!

Previous winners of VCC: VCC Q1 2003 and VCC Q2 2003.

To our friends and blogmates: We need your assistance in spreading and getting the word out to your colleagues and friends about VCC especially regading the deadline tomorrow. Thanks for your continued support.


October 29, 2006

Can you guess what this is? (CYGWTI #3) - Kunafa

Kunafa-making at the time of Napoleon. (Source - Description de I'Egypte)

Kunafa is traditionally eaten during Ramadhan in Oman as a special dish during Iftar – the non-fasting hours. It is eaten just plain or with nuts and some of the modern forms are stuffed with banana and other fruits.

Here is my colleague Zahra’s personal Kunafa recipe made at home in a most traditional way.

Kunafa recipe

Fine vermicelli – 3 cups, broken into 1-inch pieces in length
Sweetened condensed milk – 1 cup; alternative to this is powdered sugar and clotted cream
Saffron – a pinch (optional)
Ghee – 3 tablespoon for frying
Nuts – of your choice.

Method: Heat the ghee just hot and fry the vermicelli for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Keep stirring making it colors evenly. Remove from heat and put it in a tray. Immediately pour the cold sweetened milk over the hot vermicelli and stir well. Sprinkle the fried nuts and/or raisins and mold to whatever shapes you like while lukewarm. Super-delicious! Do try it out!

Thank you everyone for participating at CYGWTI #3. We hope you had lots of fun guessing. See you next time


October 27, 2006

Roasted onion chutney

It is breakfast time here. We prepared plain raw rice dosais with roasted onion chutney today. This one is a slight variant of the previosly posted onion chutney. It would be nice if you would let me know which chutney would you choose.
Roasted onions

Roasted onion chutney recipe

Onions – 1, medium-size
Coconut – scrapings of a quarter of a large coconut
Dried red chillies – 5
Salt – ¾ teaspoon
Tamarind extract – 1 tablespoon or adjusted to taste
Ghee – 2 teaspoons

Method: Roast the onions in very hot ashes or grilled. Remove the outer burnt skins. Make the ghee very hot and fry the dried red chillies in it till crisp. Combine the roasted onions, fried red chillies, salt, coconut scrapings, and tamarind and grind it to a rough paste. This chutney is excellent with dosais, idlis, vegetable pilav, etc. Enjoy!

Mutton fried with potatoes and french beans

Mutton fried with potatoes and french beans recipe

Mutton - 1/2 kg, wash well and cut into one-inch cubes
French beans - 2 cupfuls, cut into one-inch lengths
Potatoes - 3, medium size, scrape off the skins and cut into quarters and immerse immediately into water; this prevents discoloring.
Ginger - 1/2-inch size, fresh
Garlic - a small bulb with small pods or 3 big pods; grind the ginger-garlic to a smooth paste
Onions - 2, medium size, finely chopped
Coriander leaves - a bunch, fresh, finely chopped
Chilli powder - 1teaspoon
Black pepper powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - 2 teaspoons
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Cloves - 2
Cinnamon - 2 one-inch long sticks
Ghee - 1 teaspoon
Oil - 1 teaspoon

Method: Mix together the mutton pieces, salt, chilli-black pepper-coriander-turmeric powders, ginger-garlic paste, and onions. Reserve a teaspoon of chopped onions. Pour enough water over the mutton to just cover it completely. Close with a fitting lid; boil over a moderate steady heat until tender. You may also pressure-cook it. When the mutton is tender, add the potato pieces and french beans into it. If the mixture is rather dry, add a cupful of hot water, along with the vegetables and boil over moderate heat till the vegetables are tender and no water shows over the mutton curry. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle the coriander leaves over the boiled mutton and vegetables. Heat a frying pan and pour in the ghee and oil. When very hot, add the cloves, cinnamon sticks, and the remaining onions. Saute until the edges of the onions turn brown here and there and add the boiled mutton-vegetables mixture. Fry well over low heat turning over frequently till it gives out an appetising flavor; then remove it from the heat. It is very tasty used as a side dish with plain boiled rice and sambhar or with chappaties or bread. Do try it out and enjoy!

Notes: Instead of french beans, use any other vegetables in season along with a couple of potatoes. Other suitable vegetables are cauliflower, cabbage, snake-gourd, peas, carrots, double beans, yellow carrots, and brinjals. Instead of mutton pieces, you may use minced meat and make in the same way, along with some kind of vegetables.


October 25, 2006

Can you guess what this is? (CYGWTI #3)

Zahra, one of my Omani colleagues, sent these pretty attractive homemade sweets as Eid-Ul-Fitr gift to us today. So utterly delicious!

We do not know its name, recipe details, etc. I can get you the details hopefully by Sunday.

Meanwhile, can you guess what this is?


October 24, 2006

Sago payasam

Sago aka sabudana kheer is a very welcome, soothing drink after a hot mutton pilav or hot kormas in which green chillies are used. I am sending this entry to Vee's special edition post-Diwali Jihva round-up.

Sago payasam recipe
To make 4 cups

Sago – ½ cup
Sugar – ½ cup
Cardamom – 6 pods
Ghee – 2 tablespoons
Cashew nuts – 10, whole
Raisins – 1 tablespoon
Saffron – a pinch, soaked in 2 tablespoons of hot milk; this gives the deep yellow color.
Milk – 1 cup

Method: Heat the vessel and pour in the ghee; when just hot, fry the cashew nuts and raisins separately in it and remove to a plate. Fry the sago next in the hot ghee and remove to another plate. Bring 5 cupfuls of water to the boil. Put in the fried sago, stirring the water while doing so to prevent lumps forming. When the sago has boiled till it looks sticky and has a spongy transparent appearance, add the sugar. Stir constantly till the sugar gets blended into the sago; then pour the two cupfuls of boiled milk and the saffron-soaked milk. Simmer till it becomes semi-thick and remove from the heat. Mix in the fried cashew nuts, raisins, and cardamom powder. Serve hot.

Note: For a more nutritious preparation, boil the sago in 3 cupfuls of water and add 2 cupfuls of milk instead of 1 cup of milk.

Also folks - let me remind you of the deadline to participate at VCC Q3 2006 which is coming very near - it is October 31, 2006. Nominate your favorite festival food recipe. Do not miss this virtual culinary competition.

Hi Anon - here is a picture of the pre-cooked sago.


Hyderabadi mutton pilav

Mutton pilav recipe

Rice – 1 kg; wash and soak it in water 30-60 minutes and put in a colander for the clinging water to drip off entirely
Mutton – 1 kg, wash and cut it into 1-1/2 inch cubes
Ghee – 1 cup
Oil – ½ cup
Coconuts – 2, fresh; Scrape the coconuts. grind one-eighth of the coconut scrapings to a smooth paste. Extract coconut milk from the rest of the coconut scrapings.
Ginger – 2 inches in size, remove skin; grind the ginger, garlic, and green chillies all together to a smooth paste)
Garlic – 4 large bulbs (with small pods), remove skin
Green chillies – 20, medium-size (approx. 4-inch long), medium hot
Cloves – 9
Cinnamon – 12 two b long sticks
Cardamom – 6 pods, whole
Coriander leaves – 2 bunches, fresh; wash and cut into tiny shreds
Pudina leaves – 1 bunch, fresh; wash and c ut into tiny shreds
Shah-jira – 1 teaspoon
Saffron – 1 teaspoon, soaked in a tablespoon of hot milk
Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
Curds – 2 cups, fresh and thick
Onions – 8, big ones, finely sliced length-wise
Limes – 2, extract the juice
Coriander seeds powder – 1 tablespoon
Salt – 3 tablespoons

Method: Add to the mutton the turmeric powder, 2 tablespoons salt, one-third of the onions, oil, two-thirds of the ginger-garlic-green chilly paste, one cup curds, coriander powder, one-third of the coriander-pudina leaves, one-third of the cloves, cinnamon sticks, ½ teaspoon shah-jira, and cardamom pods, all the coconut paste. Mix well with the hand. Cover with a lid and cook over a moderate heat for 45 minutes or until tender. You may also pressure-cook this bringing the pressure up over high heat and then sub-simmer for 20 minutes. If needed, reduce the heat to simmer further till the mutton is tender and the gravy thick. Stir the mutton occasionally while it is cooked to prevent burning. If the muton curry becomes dryish and the meat is still tough, add a cup or more of hot water, according to the state of the mutton, and cook further till soft enough. If the mutton is cooked and the gravy is still watery, separate the gravy from the mutton.

To the extracted coconut milk, add the remaining curds, mutton gravy (if any), one tablespoon salt, and enough water to make it up to 2 measures liquid to a measure of rice. Heat a big pilav making vessel over high heat. Pour in the ghee. When the ghee becomes smoking hot, add the remaining two-thirds cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods all together, followed by the remaining onions, green chilly paste, and shah-jira. Saute till the onions turn limp and brown here and there. Then pour the coconut milk liquid over the fried onions. Let it boil well, then drop the drained rice from the colander into it. After the rice is three-fouths boiled and the water is more or less absorbed, add the cooked mutton pieces, the juice of limes, the saffron-soaked milk, and the remaining coriander and pudina leaves. Mix the mutton evenly into all parts of the rice. Close with a tight fitting lid and put on “dhum” for one hour before serving. Enjoy!

Note: If the mutton is of the tough and stringy kind, add one cup of hot water also to the initial mutton mixture.


Mutton and potato korma

Shark puttu

Shark puttu came out much more tastier than any other fish puttu prepared before. The recipe is here. Try it out!


Eid Mubarak!

To all muslim friends out there - Wish you all a happy Eid with blessings and joy! It is a time for giving out charity to those in need and also for celebration with family and friends. So, enjoy!

We have an entire 3 days of official holidays in Oman starting yesterday. We have made plans to cook up something interesting during these holiday season. To start with, we are cooking our favorites - Hyderabadi Mutton Pilav, Mutton and Potato Korma, and Sago Kheer today. We will get you the pictures and recipes by today evening. Cheers!

October 21, 2006

Diwali greetings!

On the joyous occasion of Diwali, we convey our warm greetings and good wishes to all of you. May the festival of lights usher in resplendent mood and hope that the radiance of the bright lights would bring all around prosperity, development, and happiness to all.

Happy Deepawali!

PS: We are not celebrating Diwali this year as we are passing through the period of subdued mourning for our mother. Look forward to your festival food entries at VCC Q3 2006 - the extended deadline is October 31, 2006.

October 20, 2006

Announcement: VCC Q3 2006 - extension of deadline

Hi folks - The deadline for entering into the VCC Q3 2006 is now extended to October 31, 2006, 12 midnight EST. This is to accommodate two of the major Indian festivals - the great Deepawali (diwali) which is observed by hindus, sikhs, jains, and buddists and also upcoming Eid Ul-Fitr which is celebrated by Muslims all over the world as feast of the breaking of the fast.

Here are the details of VCC.

We welcome you to participate in VCC Q3 2006. Nominate your favorite festival food recipe! Don’t Miss It!


October 2, 2006

Coconut barfi

Today is the last day of Navaratri. We have made one of our favorite sweets during the festive season for the kids today. Here is how we make our traditional coconut barfis.

Bringing the ingredients together...

Coconut barfi recipe

Coconut – 1, matured one or 2 cups of scraped coconut shreds
Water – 2 cups
Milk – 2 tablespoon
Sugar – 1-1/2 cups
Cardamoms – 6, finely powdered
Ghee – 3 tablespoons, melted

Method: Fry the coconut shreds gently in a dry pan over moderate heat till the coconut milk moisture is somewhat lessened. Boil the water in a wide-mouthed vessel over moderate heat. When the water boils, add the sugar and keep on stirring till the sugar water boils. Add the milk to the boiling sugar syrup to remove the scum and dirt if any and remove them when they come to the surface. When the sugar syrup reaches a thick syrupy stage, add the fried coconut shreds to it. Stir constantly till the coconut and sugar syrup are blended thickly and stickily together. Now add the ghee and cardamom seeds powder. When the mixture looks thick and frothy, remove from the heat and pour into a ghee-smeared table or plate. Flatten the surface evenly with the help of an oiled flat slice. When cold, cut into squares or diamond shapes. Enjoy!