Recipe – Instant Indian Gooseberry | Amla and Green Chili Pickle


Amla/Amlaki or Indian Gooseberry marks the advent of winter season. It is a super food and a great immunity booster due to it’s high vitamin C content. Amla is good for skin, heart, hair so I eat it raw (grated) with lunch on a daily basis apart from making variety of chutneys, pickles, jam, preserve etc. Even dry it to use later as a souring agent or as amla supari (a digestive aid and mouth freshener. All the recipes are on my blog. This is a favorite instant pickle with green chilies. Minimal oil and just the right amount of salt and spices. No preservatives or chemicals. You can eat it more than the store bought pickle. It stays well for a month in the refrigerator. I make small fresh batches till the season lasts and then a larger batch to mark the end of the season.

The fruit laden branch you see is from Safdarjung Tomb Gardens. When you visit the garden tombs please look around in the gardens too. There is a wealth of beauty waiting to be discovered. Please don’t vandalize. Be gentle.

The scientific name of Amla is Phyllanthus emblica and it belongs to Phyllanthaceae family. We all know the tremendous medicinal and culinary usage of Amla. The tree has spiritual significance too. It is said that Amalaka fruit was the final gift to the Buddhist Sangha from the great Emperor Ashoka. The Amalaka stupa is in Patna. It’s one of the Bodhi trees and also sacred in Hindu religion. It’s believed to have grown from the heavenly nectar (Amrit) hence the name Amalaki. The greenish yellow Amla berries are harvested by hand and are smooth&hard in texture. They have a sour, astringent taste. Most medicinal trees are considered sacred in Hindu religion and it’s true with Amla too.

Here’s the recipe for the instant pickle :

Ingredients :

Amla -8-10

Green Chilies -6-7

Mustard (sarson) seeds- 1 teaspoon

Fenugreek (methi) seeds – 1 teaspoon

Asafoetida (Hing) – 2 pinches

Turmeric – 1/4 tespoon

Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Mustard Oil – 2 Tablespoon

Method :

Steam the washed and pat dried Amlas and cut them into small pieces once they cool.

Heat mustard oil in a cast iron or non stick pan (I use cast iron) till it smokes.

Remove from heat.Cool it just a little and add both the seeds and hing ( asafoetida).

When the seeds begin to splutter add red chili powder and turmeric powder.

Stir in the pieces of steamed amla and raw chopped green chilies. Also add salt.

Once all the ingredients are mixed properly let it cool completely in a bowl or in the pan itself.

Take a clean glass bottle to store the pickle and keep it airtight.

The spicy tangy amla pickle is ready to eat in a an hour or kept in the refrigerator for a fortnight.

You can adjust the salt and chilies according to taste but try to keep the natural flavors. Over spiced pickle can lose its flavor and nutrients.

Always choose unblemished fruit that is firm and nice. Make sure there is no moisture while making or serving pickle for a long shelf life.

Recipe – Indian Gooseberry | Amla Jam


 

Indain Gooseberry | Amla Jam

Indian Gooseberry | Amla Jam

I found good quality Alma in the local market and bought a large amount to pickle, preserve and use it in other dishes including chutney. Indian gooseberry jam has just the right sweet and sour taste that I enjoy. I added three very sweet Indian red delicious kinnaur apples to the jam to reduce the amount of  added sugar. All of my jams and jellies have natural fruit pectin. I avoid the commercial one. I do not use preservative either.

This is a simple recipe that stays well for a long time. I don’t add apples to this jam usually but instead of making apple jam this time I thought of combining the two with a hint of cinnamon, some fresh ginger & zest of lemon. Oh boy ! the result was simply superb. It tastes awesome with toasts, muffins etc.

 

Here is an easy step by step recipe for the Indian Gooseberry Jam

Ingredients :

Indian Gooseberry (Amla) – 1/2 kg

Apples – 3 medium (optional)

Sugar – 400 gm ( depends on how sour the amla is so adjust accordingly)

Grated ginger – 1/2 teaspoon

Juice & Zest  of one small lemon

Cinnamon powder – 2-3 pinches

Clove – 3-4

Water – to cook

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Method:

Wash and steam the Indian gooseberry or amla till they become soft. You can boil them or pressure cook. I kept a vegetable steamer in the cooker and give 2 whistles.

Remove the fruit in a plate and allow to cool.

Separate the fruit into wedges and throw away the pits.

Wash, peel, core and chop the apples (if using).

In a heavy bottom pan add the fruits, lemon zest, grated ginger and the spices along with water. The fruit needs to be totally immersed in water. (Approx half a liter)

Cook it on medium low heat and stir frequently till the fruits break down and resembles nice chunky amla/apple sauce.

You can pass it through a sieve at this point or leave it a little chunky as i did. Just mash it properly with a vegetable masher. You can remove the cloves while mashing. I often use clove powder so that the spice is not wasted.

Stir in the sugar. The mixture will become a little watery at this point. Don’t worry and keep stirring  till it comes to boiling point. Keep the heat medium.

(Be careful  as the mixture boils and bubbles. Depending on the size of your pot/pan it may splash.)

Squeeze the lime juice now and stir. Keep the heat low.

Remove all the froth that floats to the top.

Cook for some more time.

Do a plate test at this stage. ( Chill a plate beforehand. Drop some jam in the center of  the plate and prod gently, if the jam wrinkles on prodding it’s done. If it flows or is saucy then cook a little more. Test again till you get the right texture.

Turn off the heat and let it come to room temperature.

Keep the sterilized jars ready for canning. I simply wash the jars with hot water and dry them completely before using.

Spoon the jam in the jars and close the lids tightly. Stirlization of jars is essential if you are storing jams/jellies for a longer period.

I make small batches so avoid the process.

Always use clean dry spoon for serving.

Enjoy the Indian Gooseberry jam with hot crisp toasts, rotis (flat breads), crackers, any of the swiss or french breads.

 

*Adding apple is optional. The jam will need a bit more sweetness. You can add honey or more sugar. I want to make it with unrefined sugar too. I think it should work fine. Give it a try and let me know the result.

Sweetness remnds me of jam filled cup cakes I had somewhere. Have you tried making them at home?

Recipe – Indian Gooseberry |Amla Chutney With Peanuts


Indian gooseberries | Amla | Nellikai, dried or fresh, pickled or raw, I like them in any form. Apart from the usual culinary uses Amla also plays a major role in traditional Indian medicines. Unique in flavour, this lovely neon green fruit is in abundance. The ripe ones have a lovely golden yellowish hue. I have also seen some with a pink tinge or rusty-red, even white.

Though it is exceptionally tart and astringent, the water tastes sweet after a bite or two of this fruit. I love eating it raw with little sprinkle of cayenne pepper and salt. One has to develop a taste for it to eat raw but one can use it splendidly in chutneys, jams, murrabas (preserves), candies or grate it and add to vegetables, rice, daal, soups. salads too. Amla juice is considered very beneficial for many diseases and for cleansing the toxins from the body. Add amla to any of the fresh fruit juices to enhance its taste and nutritional value. The fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin C (100gm of amla has approx 600mg of Vitamin C, over 240% RDI). One berry may contain Vit C of two oranges. That’s a lot.

The fruit pairs well with many of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. The classic green chutney with mint/coriander and amla is part of dialy meals across India.

When choosing the fruit, always pick the ones which are not bruised, taut and full to get maximum flavour.

I love to make chutneys of various kinds and you can use amla in a variety of chutneys. This one is with roasted peanuts. You can use soaked raw peanuts too. I prefer the roasted flavour. I didn’t know that peanuts weren’t actually nuts but were part of legumes like beans and that boiling peanuts increases its disease fighting compounds.

Peanuts are heart friendly and I love them in all forms. From simply roasted/boiled/ salted/unsalted ones for munching to adding them in various recipes or even those coated in jaggery. Remind me to make peanut brittle or moongphali ki patti. yummiest thing ever. A few days back I made the first batch of peanut butter and it is vanishing rapidly.

To make Amla Peanut chutney you will need :

Handful of shelled, roasted or soaked peanuts

Raw Amla – 1-2 medium size

Chopped coriander greens –  about 1/2 cup

Garlic pods – 3-4

Ginger – 1/2 inch

Green chilli – 2-3 ( as per taste and hotness)

Salt – as required

Ingredients in a grinder

Ingredients in a grinder

Method : 

You can soak the peanuts in drinking water and use them with the papery skin they have. I roasted the shelled peanuts on low heat till they gave out the toasty aroma. Once roasted, remove the skin by rubbing the peanuts between the palms of your hands. Use peanuts that are clean, not bruised or blemished or broken. Remember to use a handful to roast any nut. Nuts don’t like to be crowded. If you put a large amount they won’t get roasted equally and burn too.

Wash and cut the Amla in wedges. Remove the grape like pit. Chop green chillies, ginger and garlic roughly.

Add all the ingredients in a grinder with a bit of water to make a smooth paste. I do not like the chutneys to be very smooth so I leave them a bit grainy ensuring that the ingredients have grinded properly.

Spoon the chutney in bowl and squeeze some lime over it (half a lime).

Amla Peanut Chutney

Serve it with almost anything. Use it as spreads for sandwiches like I did or pair it with sooji / besan ka cheela.

The chutney goes well with everything.

Launch of ‘Melange’ and Other Exciting Things


There are phases in a writer’s life when one side of the paper is white and the other silent. Since sometime I was struggling with my writing not because of lack of ideas but due to a kind of disillusionment with myself, with what I wrote. Words seemed fake so did the effort to put across something that did not agree with my heart.

I have mentors and friends who have seen my mood swings and low phases, the struggle and drawbacks and they have always manage to spark that dying amber in me.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~albert schweitzer

In the midst of all the upheaval imagined or otherwise three news lit up my life like nothing else.

1.

Launch of ‘Melange – a potpourri of thoughts‘  an anthology of poems by Poets Corner group. I have a poem in this wonderful collection along with illustrious poets/ writers like Vikram Seth and Shekhar Kapoor. The book also has some exceptional poems by some very talented poets, mostly members of poet corner.

It was the first time I came out of the closet to step out and attend such a fine gathering of poets and what a delightful evening it was.

It was a blessing to listen to some of the emminent poets like Padma Shri Smt. Padma Sachdev – Sahitya Akademi Awardee (1971), Padma Shri Dr. Sunita Jain – Poet and Academician, IIT-Delhi, Dr. (Mrs.) Kusum Ansal – eminent poet and entrepreneur, Ms. Loveleen Thadani – AAFT Academy Award recipient, documentary film maker, theatre producer and poet, Pratap Somvanshi -poet and senior resident editor, Dainik Hindustan, Neelima Wig – an eminent poet, courseware contributor at Oxford University. Loved poet Tina Gulzar’s heart wrenching poem ‘Jigar’. It was exciting to see Hindi and Urdu poetry being recognised. Dr. Sachdev’s poems in Dogri and Hindi were music to the ears. I wish someone had recorded the readings.

An evening of meeting old friends and new, of a nice dinner afterwards with my besties ( I missed my younger one) and achieving one more milestone of once more seeing my name in print.

(Check out all the photographs of the launch and other announcements on Poets Corner FB page.)

2

I had submitted my poems to Open Road Review some weeks back and was eagerly and impatiently waiting for the announcement from them. Yesterday I got the news that one of my poems is part of the current issue of ORR. Everytime my work is appreciated it fills me with a new confidence to work hard and share my writings. It is a never-ending journey of my student heart. You can read the poem here. Do explore the works of other writers too.

3.

While filling the void created by the lack of inspiration I indulged in the next best thing – cooking. I am a complete food lover and though not a food blogger I love to share my recipes. So, that’s what I did and was pleasantly surprised when Baggout picked up one of the recipes to feature in their Top 15 Food and Drink posts from July. 

Life gives to you in more than one ways if you are receptive. Sometimes we think we aren’t open to its abundance but we are, always.

All these little things are a constant reminder that nothing dies, it just takes another form.

Heartfelt gratitude to Dolly Singh and Poets Corner, Kulpreet Yadav & the editorial team of Open Road Review and baggout team for recognising my work.

 

Recipes: Gourmet Coffee


Get Creative with Coffee


There is something magical about the aroma of fresh roasted beans, which wafts out of a gourmet coffee. The irresistible smell just beckons you to take that first sip of the delicious brew that starts the day with its wake up aroma and completes the perfect meal with a gourmet flourish.

I love to experiment with my cup of coffee at times and the results are amazing. India is still waking up to the gourmet coffee culture. Most of us enjoy the regular plain coffee but some, like me, prefer to indulge.
Add your favorite spirit and the cup will seem lighter on the tongue.

When you add flavorings such as chocolate syrups, or caramel to name a few, these additives give your coffee a unique taste that is qualified as Gourmet Flavored Coffee.

From its humble origins in Ethiopia, coffee has grown to become a craze in our world.

How can one make a great Gourmet Coffee?

The process of roasting is crucial to coffee. If you under roast your coffee your coffee turns out weak, and if you over do it your coffee tastes burnt. Make sure the coffee is freshly roasted. The freshness of coffee beans will start to decrease once the coffee beans have been ground.
When brewing gourmet coffee, it is essential to combine several factors that will make your cup of coffee a dreamy blend of flavor. Gourmet coffee is in itself delicious, but it is even better when made a certain way.
Select only the finest gourmet coffee beans.

Opt for bottled waters for brewing but avoid distilled water.
Be sure to measure your coffee/water ratio appropriately. Use two tablespoons of ground coffee per six ounces of water (or 3/4 cup water). This ratio produces strong, rich gourmet coffee.

Some have compared specialty gourmet coffee to wine as far as aromas and flavors go. The characteristics of gourmet coffee however, are more even complex than wine.

Gourmet coffee flavors include : almond, amaretto, Irish creme, French vanilla, Swiss mocha, vanilla, chocolate, mint, peppermint, pumpkin spice and just about anything else you can dream of.

Creativity is the key to a good gourmet coffee. One does not have to go to Gourmet coffee parlors or buy expensive mix, just let your imagination go wild and make your own cup of delight.

Coffee does not have to be mealtime related. Try these for refreshing cool drinks any time of the day…

Hot gourmet coffee should be just warm enough so that the flavors melt and spread evenly on your taste buds. So take your first sip, enjoy the aroma that the perfect marriage of warmth and liquors provide, take another sip and savor the experience.

1. Mint Cocoa Coffee

1 0unce of chocolate mint liqueur

Dash of shaved chocolate

Whipping cream (if desired)

Regular coffee

Method:

Brew your regular coffee, add the shot of liqueur. Add some whipping cream if desired and sprinkle with shaved chocolate.

Enjoy the delicate aroma and taste.

2. Cafe Amor

1 oz. Cognac

1 oz. Amaretto

5oz. hot fresh coffee

One dollop unsweetened whipped cream

Method:

Pour liquids into a heated mug. Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Let the flavors melt in your mouth.

3. Spirited Coconut Coffee

1oz. Irish whiskey

1/4 oz. cream of coconut

6 oz. hot coffee

Whipped cream

Method:

Combine everything except the cream in a heated mug or tempered coffee
glass. Top up with dollop of whipped cream.

Pull the blinds and relax in your favorite chair. Sip the magic slowly.

4. Orange Cinnamon Delight

Ingredients:

One medium orange

Seven whole cloves

2 cups milk

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp rum extract

2 inches of cinnamon stick

2 cups coffee

Method:

Peal the orange and set aside and squeeze the juice; add water, if necessary, to make 1/3 cup.

For making the spice bag, place orange peel, cinnamon, and cloves in a double layer square piece of 100% cotton cheesecloth. Bring up corners; tie with a string.

In a large saucepan, combine orange juice, spice bag, water, milk, brown sugar, cocoa powder. Bring them to boil and remove from heat. Cover and let it stand for 10 minutes.

Remove spice bag. Stir in rum extract. Divide equally between 4 8-ounce cups of coffee.

This is an awesome blend of fruity flavor, heady rum and intoxicating coffee. A must try for all the coffee lovers.

Now that you have some of the tried and tested recipes from my creative kitchen, go on and indulge your self. Call friends over, have a great time.

this is an old post. will try to put some pix soon

Recipes: Get Creative with Leftover Food


Anyone with a bit of imagination and love for experimenting with food can make wonders out of the overnight leftover food. I learned the art from my mother. Simple daily food leftovers can be  turned into delicious dishes in no time.

Rice, veggies, Rotis (Indian breads or Pita breads), regular bread or pita bread, lentils, chicken and fruits, one can dish out amazing stuff from these things.

Here are some recipes that I use at home. The boys have mastered the art too. They love experimenting, much to my disgust but then I too went through the same stage 🙂

As long as nothing goes waste I am happy.

1. RICE:

Phodnicha bhat ( seasoned rice )

Ingredients:

Leftover rice

Chopped tomatoes

Chopped onions

Green chilies (cut small)

Ginger and garlic (cut small)

Green fresh coriander leaves

Curry leaves

Shelled peas

For seasoning:

Asafetida

Fennel seeds

Mustard seeds

Turmeric

Salt

Garam Masala

Red chilly powder

Method:

Break the leftover rice and add turmeric, salt, garam masala to it. Mix well and keep aside.

In an open pan heat a little oil and add asafetida, mustard seeds and fennel seeds. Let them crackle and then add chopped onions.

When the onions become golden brown add peas, green chilly and tomato. Mix it well and cover till the peas are tender.

Add curry leaves along with the rice and mix it so that the seasoning and rice blend well. Cover on slow heat for five minutes and remove.

Serve hot with coriander leaves and lemon.

One can also make tomato rice with the leftover rice.

MASALA BREAD can be made in similar way using leftover bread instead of rice.

Crumbled leftover IDLIS can be used as another ingredient instead of rice and bread.

Rice muffins

Ingredients:

1 Cup leftover rice

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2tblspoon sugar

2tspoon baking powder

2eggs

1/2 cup skim milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 tsp almond extract

Method:

Mix flour with sugar and baking powder.

Beat the eggs and add all the other ingredients, rice goes last.

Add the rice mixture to the flour mixture and blend well.

Spoon the mixture into 12 pre-greased muffin cups

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 min.

Serve with tea, coffee.

2. LENTILS:

The leftover lentils can be dried to make a firm base for filling.

Dal parathas (stuffed lentil flat bread)

Ingredients:

Any leftover Lentil

Garam Masala

Salt

Red chilly powder

Chopped green chilies

Coriander

Finely chopped onions

Method:

Dry the lentil over slow heat till all the liquid evaporates.Remove and cool.

Add all the masalas and chopped onion, green chillies, coriander.

Make dough of whole wheat flour and shape it into a ball. Roll it a little and stuff the lentil into it. Cover it with a similar roll. Make a round even shape with the roller and make a paratha (flat bread) on the girdle.

One can mix the dry cooked lentil mixture directly in the flour and then make the dough.

Serve with butter, pickle or curds.

3. Chicken

Leftover chicken can be used in many ways, in rolls, sandwiches and with rice etc.

Rolls

Any kind of leftover chicken, kebabs and tikkas can be used to make spicy rolls. Use bone less chicken for the rolls. One can shred it or use in small pieces.

Take a pita bread or Roomali Roti. Spread tomato chilly sauce (optional) on it.

Heat the chicken and if there is any liquid, let it evaporate. Add some spices and a little salt according to taste.

Spoon hot dried chicken in the center of the pita then add some onion rings, fresh coriander, finely sliced tomato, tender cabbage leaves, fine sliced capsicum.

Make neat rolls.

Serve with mint chutney.

Sandwiches

Shredded chicken can be mixed with mayonnaise and a dash of Tabasco and tomato ketchup to be used in sandwiches .The sandwiches can be grilled or eaten plain.

Chicken rice

Leftover chicken and rice can make a great meal.

Heat oil and add bay leaf, clove, black pepper, cinnamon stick, big and small cardamom, cumin seeds, chopped tomatoes, onions, green chilies.

Let them blend into fine paste then add the chicken and roast for some time.

Add rice and cover for some time.

Serve fresh n hot with curds or lemon.

4. Leftover meat

To extend a little leftover meat into another meal, combine with cooked rice, macaroni or pasta, a can of creamed soup, half a can of milk or water, a sprinkling of garlic and/or onion powder and place in a greased casserole, sprinkle with shredded cheese and heat uncovered in a 350*F (175*C) oven until hot and cheese is melted and lightly browned.

5. Fruits


Over ripe bananas

Over ripe bananas can be used to make delicious dumplings.

Take some over ripe bananas .mash them into fine paste. Add a little whole wheat flour to make a soft dripping batter. Add sugar to taste and ground big cardamom. Blend to make the batter.

Heat oil and make small dumplings and fry them on slow heat till golden brown. Eat hot.

Apples

Wash and peel the apples. Chop them into cubes or long slices.

In a pan place the apple slices /cubes and put enough water to just cover it.

Add a little sugar preferably brown and a pinch of cinnamon n nutmeg.

Add a few cloves and let it simmer on slow heat .keep it covered. Once the apple is tender dry the remaining water.

Take out the stewed apples in a dish and eat it plain or with fresh cream.

6. Pickles

Leftover pickle masalas can be used to make tangy potato vegetable.

Boil the potatoes.

Heat oil. Add cumin seeds.

Once they start to crackle, add chopped potato cubes and roast for some time.
Add the pickle masala and its oil to give it a spicy tangy taste.

7. Cake leftover

Chocolate thick shake

Ingredients

Leftover chocolate cake

3/4 glass chilled milk

Chocolate flakes & cherry for decoration.

Method :

Blend a large piece of leftover chocolate cake with chilled milk with an electric hand blender.

Pour it in a glass.

Decorate with cherry and chocolate flakes.

Serve immediately.

Hope these recipes will be useful to you. Enjoy!!!