Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Mexican Desserts

Nothing finishes off an authentic Mexican meal better than a delicious Mexican dessert. The desserts of Mexico are a wonderful blend of appetizing delights from fried ice cream to scrumptious baked goods like cookies and cakes. A mixture of sugar, fruits, milk and cinnamon is the common base of most Mexican desserts.

Mexican desserts have been influenced by both Native People including both the Aztec and Mayan and European settlers with the main influence being that of the Spanish but also people from France played a part in the development of food recipes in Mexico.

Kishi Arora of Foodaholics demonstrated how to make simple yet decandent Mexican desserts at our Natures Basket Store in Delhi.



Mexican wedding cookies: Several Mexican desserts are related to a special occasion, and the wedding cookies are one of those desserts.



Ingredients:

• 510 gms pecans toasted

• 75 gms sugar

• 680 gms of butter (soft)

• 150 gms sugar

• 2 tsp. vanilla

• 870 gms of ap flour

• 1 ½ tsp. salt

Method:

1. Toast the pecans in oven once cool; grind them with the sugar until fine.

2. Cream the butter and 150 Gms sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the vanilla to the butter mix

4. Add the ground pecan mixture and then the flour slowly to the butter mix.

5. Mix the dough and let it cool for a bit. Make small round or scoop out the mix on a baking tray.

6. Bake at 160 for 15-20 mins.

7. When fairly cool toss in icing sugar and store in a container. Enjoy with tea or coffee.

Kishi's Mexican Flourless Cake:



Ingredients:

• 115 gms butter

• 115 gms chocolate

• ¾ c sugar

• 3 large eggs

• ½ c unsweetened cocoa

• ½ tsp. cinnamon

• ½ cayenne

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree, and butter an 8 inch round cake pan. Line it with parchment paper and butter that too.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler. Remove from heat.

3. Add sugar and whisk in eggs slowly. Sift in ½ the cocoa powder, cinnamon and cayenne.

4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 mins.

5. Decorate with cocoa powder and different decorations.

A Mexican Chocolate Affair

The world can trace the roots of chocolate back to the ancient Aztec empire in Mexico. Hernándo Cortés and the Spanish conquistadors were granted an audience with Moctezuma, the emperor at his breakfast table. They found the Aztec ruler sipping an exotic drink called xocóatl (meaning bitter water). Made from ground cacao beans boiled in water, flavored with vanilla and other tropical spices, and chilled with bits of snow from nearby mountain tops, the pungent beverage was, the Spanish reported, "of a very exciting nature."Cacao, for the Aztecs, symbolized the power and glory they attained in making the Valley of Mexico the seat of their vast empire.

The Spanish took a great liking to the Aztec drink, especially once they discovered that the addition of sugar make it far more palatable. The dubbed the drink chocolate (choh-co-la-teh) and for three quarters of a century jealously guarded the secret of its preparation from other Europeans but the beauty of chocolate could not be hidden for long.

The world has Mexico to thank for this enticing treat and the one empasssioned love affair that is likely to last forever. Whether or not you decide to serve mole - a spicy mexican chocolate sauce, a dessert made with Mexican chocolate is a fine finish for any meal. Our in-house celebrity gastronome Rushina, shares her recipe for Churros with chocolate Sauce. Find all the ingredients you need at your nearest Nature's Basket Store and treat yourself to some Mexican Chocolate decadence

Rushina’s decadent Churros Con Chocolate




Ingredients

For chocolate sauce

  • 100g dark chocolate

  • 25g milk chocolate

  • 1 tbsp golden syrup

  • 150ml double cream


For Churros

  • 50g caster sugar

  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder

  • 125g flour (maida)

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 250ml hot boiled water

  • About 500ml canola oil, to deep-fry


Method:

  1. To Make chocolate sauce – break up chocolate and combine all the other ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan, place on a low flame to melt. Once the chocolate begins to melt, give the sauce a gentle stir to mix everything thoroughly. Remove from heat and reserve in a warm place.

  2. To make Churros – In a shallow plate combine sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Reserve, you will use this to coat Churros later.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and baking powder and mix well. Beat in olive oil and freshly boiled water from a kettle. Keep mixing until you have a warm, sticky dough. Leave to rest for about 10 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile heat oil for frying in a small kadhai so it fills it by about 1/3. When it’s hot enough, put in a piece of bread. If it sizzles and browns in about 30 seconds, the oil’s is hot enough.

  5. When you are ready, fit a piping bag or cookie gun with with a large star-shaped nozzle and fill with churro batter.

  6. Squeeze short lengths  of dough into the hot oil, cutting them off with scissors as you go.

  7. Cook about 3 or 4 churros at a time, frying them to a rich golden-brown. When they are done, strain them out of the oil with a perforated spoon, onto a plate lined with kitchen paper.

  8. Keep cooked churros warm while you fry the remaining dough by transferring them to a butter paper line baking tray and leaving in the oven at 100 degrees centigrade.

  9. Allow them to rest for 5–10 minutes before eating. Just before serving, toss churros in the sugar mixture until well covered. Serve with Chocolate.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Cinnamon Club Cookbook

Housed in the baroque splendour of the Old Westminster Library, The Cinnamon Club stands out as a true original. The beautifully restored, Grade II-listed building retains many Victorian features & references its bookish past with leather-bound tomes lining a gallery in the decorous, ‘beautifully ordered’ dining room.

The cinnamon club book is a compilation of some of the best recipes from the restaurant, brought together by the chef himself - Vivek Signh. This book finally brings the unique spirit and style of the Cinnamon Club to your home.  While the dishes are exotic, they are also straightforward to create, providing everyone with oustanding results.

Find the book on our cookbook shelf at your nearest Nature's Basket Store. Fornow, here is a teaser trailer from the book.

Seared Aubergine Steaks with Sesame Tamarind Sauce

This is one of those recipes where the texture plays an important role as much as the flavour. The spice mix filling inside the aubergines, and it is great to sprinkle on other vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

For the stuffing

  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, roasted and coarsely pounded

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp ground coriander

  • 3 tsp amchoor or dry mango powder

  • 1 tsp red chilli powder

  • ½ tsp ground turmeric

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp sugar

  • ½ tsp black onion seeds

  • ½ tsp carom seeds or ajwain

For the aubergine

  • 2 large aubergines

  • 1 tsp salt

  • ½ tsp ground turmeric

  • ½ tsp red chilli powder

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

  • ½ tsp black onion seeds

  • 3 tbsp corn or vegetable oil



For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 50 gm desiccated coconut

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 50 gm peanuts or cashewnuts

  • 4 dried red chillies

  • ½ tsp mustard seeds

  • ½ tsp black onion seeds

  • 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves

  • 3 tbsp of boiled onion paste

  • 1 tsp red chilli powder

  • ½ tsp ground turmeric

  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste

  • 1 tsp salt

  • ½ tsp sugar

  • 25 gm fresh coriander leaves, chopped



For the coating

  • 2 tbsp chickpea flour

  • 2 tbsp rice flour

Method:

1    Combine all the spices for the stuffing, mix them well and keep it aside.

2    Slice the aubergines into 2 cm thick rounds. Make an incision on the side of the steak (towards the middle), insert a small knife and make a pocket by turning the knife around. Fill the pockets with the dry spice stuffing and rub the salt and the spices on the outside. Set it aside for 30 minutes to remove the excess moisture.

3    Mix together the coriander, sesame, and cumin seeds and roast in a dry frying pan over moderate heat until it begins to colour. Tip them out onto a plate and set aside.

4    Roast the coconut in the same pan until golden and add to the seeds.

5    Heat a tablespoon of the oil in the pan, add the nuts and fry until golden. Remove and combine with the seeds and coconut and blend to a smooth paste in a food processor using little water.

6    Heat the remaining oil in a pan, and add the red chillies and the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the onion seeds, and curry leaves followed by the onion paste, and cook for 8–10 minutes until the oil separates.

7    Now add the ground paste and stir on a low heat for a couple of minutes.

8    Add the chilli and the turmeric powder, tamarind paste, and cook on low heat for 15–18 minutes until the sauce thickens.

9    Stir in the salt, sugar, and coriander.

10  In another frying pan, heat three tablespoons of oil. Shallow fry the steaks till golden brown and cook through on medium to low heat.

11  Place the steaks on the sauce and coconut rice, and serve garnished with deep fried tapioca crisps.

Tip: Add more water if needed to make the paste of the roasted spices, just take care while cooking them in the pan as it splutters and can cause severe burns. It works really well on a low flame.





Yoghurt Kabab with Fruit Chaat



Guaranteed to surprise your guests, this is a unique kabab made of yoghurt. Hanging the yoghurt in a muslin cloth overnight separates the whey, leaving behind the semi-solid textured yoghurt. Roasted chickpea flour absorbs the remaining moisture giving it a definite shape which holds it up while searing. The addition of the onion and spices gives it a bite, making it even more interesting especially for those who like to indulge in vegetarian food.

Preparation time: 6 hours

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4–6

  • 1 kg Greek yoghurt or full fat yoghurt,

  • hung in a muslin cloth overnight

  • 250 gm roasted chana dal, powdered

  • 3 red onions, finely chopped

  • 20 gm ginger, finely chopped

  • 20 gm green chilli, finely chopped

  • 5 gm royal cumin

  • 10 gm mixture of crushed cinnamon powder

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • ½ bunch fresh coriander stem, finely chopped

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil



For the fruit chaat

  • 1 red apple

  • 1 pear

  • 1 guava

  • 1 tsp chaat masala

  • ½ tsp sugar

  • Juice of half a lemon

Method:

1    Hang the yoghurt in a muslin cloth for a good 6 hours to obtain a well-hung yoghurt. In a mixing bowl, fold the yoghurt with the roasted chana dal powder and refrigerate.

2    Meanwhile, sprinkle some salt on the red onions and leave it in a warm place for 15–20 minutes. Transfer to a muslin cloth and squeeze to get rid of the excess moisture.

3    Cut all the fruits into even sized dices. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate.

4    Mix the red onion with the yoghurt and with the rest of the ingredients. Form patties of equal size and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and sear the yoghurt cakes on both sides to a golden brown colour.

5    Serve with the fruit chaat.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Mexican Melee

Ola! This month, Godrej Nature’s Basket brings to you the gastronomic delights of TexMex cuisine inspired by Mexican and American food cultures. Revel in the joys of this colourful and rich cuisine and make delicious Mexican food in your kitchen. We now carry international Mexican food brands renowned for their intensely flavoured sauces, ready to use mixes, tortilla and chips, taco shells, sour cream and cheese sauces.

Mexican cuisine is known for its varied flavours, colourful decoration, and variety of spices and ingredients. The staples of Mexican cuisine are typically corn and beans. The most frequently used herbs and spices in Mexican cuisine are chilli powder, garlic, onions jalapenos, oregano, cilantro, cinnamon, and cocoa.



Nature’s Basket brings to you international Mexican brands like TexMex, Old El Paso, Poco Loco, Discovery, El Sabor and La Costena for an easy experience of cooking Mexican food.

Get to know Mexican cuisine better! Here is a list of your quintessential Mexican Pantry elements:

Tortillas: These are Mexican rotis or chapattis made of corn which is ground to make flour and then used to make dough (masa). It is then shaped into tortillas. These are stuffed with meats, stews, beans, rice and salsas and rolled and eaten on their own or baked as enchiladas or deep-fried as chimichangas. Nature’s Basket carries flour, wheat and corn tortillas from TexMex, Old El Paso, Poco Loco and Discovery.

Nacho Chips/Tortilla Chips: These are corn chips also known as tortilla chips which are dipped into salsa, sour cream or cheese sauce and had as an appetizer. They can also be topped with jalapenos, soured cream, kidney beans and salsa as an accompaniment or a starter.

Salsa: The word simply means "sauce" and can refer to both cooked sauces and those made from raw ingredients. The most common version is salsa fresco or Pico de gallo which is made with fresh tomatoes, chillies, onions and fresh cilantro and is very similar to a mushy cachumber. When Roasted the same ingredients make salsa ranchero. There are many other types of salsas which along with sour cream are used as topping on Tortillas, tacos and served on the side with almost everything.We carry a range of Salsas from mild to hot by TexMex, La Costena and Old El Paso.

Chile peppers: Chillies originated in Mexico so there are some 60 varieties of chilli peppers, from mild Anaheims to fiery hot habañeros, and they all have their uses in Mexican cuisine.We carry Jalapeños—which are the most recognizable. Dried and smoked jalapeños are known as chipotle chillies, which provide the primary flavour in adobo sauce. This is great stirred into veg mayonnaise for a spicy dip.

Dried Beans: Another Mexican staple, beans are common on Mexican plates. They're often prepared simply by simmering them in water, perhaps with herbs. They are also made into "refried beans" in which the cooked beans are fried well with flavours. We carry canned vegetables cooked beans and refried beans. These are used as a topping on nachos or stuffed into enchiladas, tacos burritos or quesadillas.

Mole Sauce: A wonderful rich sauce made with the unlikely combination of chocolate, chillies and many spices. It can be red or green depending on the ingredient. The sauce is often served over chicken, though turkey is more traditional. We have it ready in La Costena range.

Sour Cream: Sour cream is used as a dip or added as a topping on nachos, tacos, fajitas. It is mainly used to cut through the heat and the spice of the dish and make it mellow. It also gives the dish a slight tang and pairs well with jalapenos and kidney beans

Taco Shells: Tacos are composed of a corn or wheat tortilla fried and folded for hard tacos and rolled for a soft taco around a filling. A variety of fillings, including beef, chicken, seafood, vegetables and cheese can be used. We carry taco shells as well as a Taco Dinner Kit by TexMex and Discovery which contains Crispy Mexican Corn tortillas, Taco Seasoning Mix and Taco Sauce Hot. We also carry a Vegetarian Taco Mix which is a ready-to  use filling for the Taco shells.

Jicama: This root vegetable looks like a giant turnip and has the same crisp texture of a raw potato with a mild, slightly sweet flavor.  Jicama is eaten raw (often in salads) or fried, steamed, baked, or boiled. We carry this from Trikaya so be sure to look out for this in our Vegetable Section!

Avocado: Another native of Mexico is a favourite. Mashed, avocadoes are the main ingredient in guacamole which is Avocado mashed with onions, chillies and cilantro (coriander). It is served as a dip or as a garnish. Sliced avocados are often added to soups. Un-ripened avocados will not ripen in the refrigerator; they're best left in a paper bag at room temperature until soft with a banana. Nature’s Basket carries Discovery Guacamole Dip and Poco Loco Avocado Salsa.