Mar 14, 2016

Thandai Yogurt Panna Cotta with Rose syrup....Holi Special

With the most major and vibrant festival of India round  the corner the Indian blogosphere is buzzing with delicacies.Yes ,I am talking about the festival of colours Holi, the festival of sharing love, the festival of fun and frolic.The use of colours symbolises the prosperous and colourful spring after the winter. Its a joyous celebration of the rejuvenation of nature, of happiness and peaceful coexistence.

This festival overcomes the barrier of language, caste and creed and portrays love and brotherhood. Smearing of colours on each other's faces, throwing water filled balloons, dousing buckets of coloured water on each other, music, dance, loads of sweets and of course the Holi special Bhaang and Thandai is what this festival is all about.

Thandai is a very popular drink of North India served during Mahashivratri and Holi. Its a cold drink prepared from a mixture of almonds, watermelon seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom, pepper, vetiver seeds, rose petals, saffron, milk and sugar. Its taken in chilled form and is terrific when the temperatures soar and cools you down, as the name suggests. Thandai is available off the shelves in the form of powder or paste or else can be prepared at home and stored.

The 31st Foodie Monday Bloghop Theme is Thandai special and Fusion. I love the racking of my brains when the word fusion crops up in the food world. And after quite a bit of nerve wrecking thinking about what our guests would love to gorge on after playing Holi in the piercing, scorching
 heat of Goa, I finally zeroed down on a chilled Yogurt Panna Cotta flavoured with Thandai with a rose syrup drizzle on top.Yogurt, Thandai and Rose, all have cooling properties  and I am sure this platter of chilled dessert is going to soothe their system as well as give a stylish fusion touch to my Holi buffet table.

Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert prepared by cooking cream, sugar and gelatine. I have used Greek yogurt in the recipe with a little cream which gives a nice creamy texture to it and the addition of Thandai gives a spicy edge to it because of the pepper present in the Thandai and the cooling rose syrup imparts the desired amount of sweetness.The garnish of pistachios, almonds and saffron with fresh rose petals gives the Italian Panna Cotta a gorgeous Indian look. I have used store brought Thandai paste but for making at home, the best Thandai powder recipe is available in my talented friend Alka's Blog Culinary Xpress.

 ( serves 4,in small ramekins)
For the Panna Cotta
7 fl oz Cream
10 oz Greek Yogurt/ Hung Yogurt
3 Tbsp  Fine Sugar
1 Tbsp  Gelatine
1/4 C hot water
1/4 C Thandai Paste,store brought
For the Garnish
4 tbsp Rose Syrup ,store brought
A handful almonds and pistachios,chopped
A few strands of saffron
A few Fresh rose petals or dehydrated rose petals


  • For the Panna Cotta mix the gelatin with the hot water properly till no lumps remain and keep aside.
  • In a heavy bottomed saucepan gently heat the cream with sugar over low flame just enough for the sugar to dissolve, stirring all the time.
  • Remove from heat and add the gelatin mixture and mix till incorporated, set aside for cooling for 10 mins.
  • Meanwhile loosen the thick yogurt with a whisk in a bowl.
  • Once cool add the cream mixture and the Thandai paste to the yogurt and whisk gently together.
  • Now pour the cool creamy yogurt mix in ramekins evenly filling them up,cover them with cling film and refrigerate for 5-6 hours to set properly.
  • For plating the Panna  Cotta, dip each ramekin in warm water for a minute and invert it onto a serving plate .
  • Add a few drops of water to the rose syrup if you feel it's very thick and drizzle on the Panna cotta.
  • Serve garnished  with slivered almonds,pistachios,saffron strands and rose petals.

This version of Panna Cotta can also be made in individual glasses, garnished and served.
Other than this fusion Panna Cotta I have Pomegranate Jelly and vanilla Yogurt Panna Cotta and Poached Peach and vanilla Panna Cotta recipes in my blog.

Enjoy the heavenly fusion dessert and a happy vibrant Holi to you all!

Mar 11, 2016

Murgh Shahjahani/ Chicken Shahjahani

Murgh Shahjahani...the name itself sounds so royal and transports you to the Shahi Mughal Era, it's history, art, culture, architecture and the rich culinary legacy they bequeathed to us. According to food historian  Salma Husain, there's more to Mughlai cuisine than the greasy mashup of masala and oil. She says in her recent book which is on Mughal emperors and their food habits that there was a subtelty to the cuisine which is missing in this age' s Mughal fare. Mughal cooking was a riot of colours and fragrances and her book gives an insight to how Mughal cooking evolved from Central Asian blandness to Indian richness. 

This delightful creamy Chicken dish is cooked with aromatic spices,cashew nut  paste ,yogurt and cream which give a nice smoothness to the rich gravy.Shahjahani is a method of cooking where the ingredients are simmered for a long time.This is a famous dish in Agra and every gourmet hotel and  every roadside stall in the gullies near the Taj Mahal offer this speciality and it's a hit.

The internet is full of Shahjahani Murgh recipes and every recipe is different from the other but cashewnuts and yogurt are a common ingredient in every recipe. Thankfully I have stuck to one of my favourite recipe book "Chicken Delight " compiled by the MasterChefs of India and this book has been a saviour since the year I got married. I have churned out succulent chicken tikkas to creamy curries for my guests from this book and the masterchefs have never let me down.

Though the recipe doesn't ask for marination,I personally prefer to marinate the raw chicken with masalas as marinating infuses the flavours and keeps the chicken moist while cooking.

1 kg Chicken,curry cut
5 tbsp Refine oil
2 Bayleaves/ Tej patta
3 (1cm) pcs Cinnamon/ Dalchini
8 Green Cardamoms / Choti Elaichi
2/3 Tsp Caraway Seeds/ ShahJeera
8 Cloves/ laung
1 C onion ,chopped
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Chilli powder
5 tsp Ginger paste
5 tsp Garlic paste
1/2 C Cashewnut Paste/ Kaju paste
 3/4 C Yoghurt ,whisked
1 C Hot Water
Salt to taste
2 1/2 tbsp Cream
3 Eggs ,boiled and quartered
1 1/2 tsp Black Cardamom/ Badi Elaichi Pwdr
A small bunch fresh coriander,chopped

  • Marinate the chicken with little turmeric,salt and chilli powder for half an hour.
  • Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan over medium heat.
  • Add the Bayleaves,cinnamon sticks,green cardamoms,caraway seeds and cloves,sauté until the spices begin to crackle.
  • Add the chopped onions,turmeric and chilli powder,sauté for a minute.
  • Add the ginger garlic pastes,fry for 3-4 minutes till the raw smell goes away.
  • Now mix in the Cashewnut paste and sauté for  a minute.
  • Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook for 10-15 minutes on medium heat.
  • Pour in the whisked yoghurt with the hot water and salt( make sure you put only to cater for the masala as the chicken has already been marinated with the salt),cover and simmer for 10 -15 minutes
  •  more over low flame.
  • Finally when the chicken is cooked add the cream and black cardamom powder and mix.
  • Serve garnished with the eggs and chopped coriander.

Mar 7, 2016

Chocolate swirled Banana Loaf as my first entry for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop

Chocolate and banana make one amazing combination and to die for. And when I got to know the theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop as Microwave cooking I knew I had to bake this cake which was on my to do list since long.Starting from this Monday I am a part of this talented group of food bloggers who have included me in their group and I am one of the privileged few.This is the 30th Foodie Monday Blog Hop and the theme is Microwave cooking which includes not only cooking in Microwave mode but in Grill, Convection and Combination mode too.

There is something genuinely very therapeutic about baking.Whenever I am feeling low I turn to baking and have always felt the erratic negative energy fade away. Basically it is constructive and helps to focus and it's impossible to describe the immense amount of satisfaction that I get seeing my own creations.

This Chocolate swirled Banana Loaf had been in my mind for ages since the time I saw it in At the corner of Happy and Harried .Just one look at the chocolate and banana treat is enough to say that it won't stay in the cake tin for long. Its a nice way to use the ripe bananas sitting on the kitchen counter. Its a lovely teatime cake and perfect for picnics too.

 This marbled chocolate banana loaf has zero butter and the addition of oil and buttermilk keeps it moist and soft and makes it comparatively healthy.I doubled the measurements to make some swirled cupcakes in addition to the loaf for my little one's lunch box.I am planning to pipe the cupcakes with ganache next time I bake these for my children's tea parties once the holidays set in.

1 3/4 C. All purpose flour
2  large Eggs
1/2 C Safflower ,Canola or any refined Oil
1/3 C Buttermilk
1 C Brown Sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
1C  2-3 Mashed Bananas
1 tsp Vanilla extract
3 Tbsp Dark Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

  • Turn on the microwave to Convection mode.Adjust the temperature to 170 deg C.Pre heat the oven to this temperature and grease a loaf pan and line with a parchment paper.
  • Sift the flour, soda and salt together in a bowl and keep aside.
  • In a mixing bowl beat the eggs,oil and buttermilk together till well mixed and creamy.
  • Add the mashed bananas, brown sugar and vanilla and mix till combined.
  • Add the sifted dry ingredients to the batter and mix till just combined.
  • Remove 1/3 rd of the batter in a different bowl and mix the cocoa powder with it and mix well.
  • Pour spoonfuls of both the batters alternately in a loaf pan and with the help of a skewer or knife make a few swirls along the batter making sure to go down till the base of the pan.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or till a skewer or toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Am sending this delightful chocolate swirled banana loaf to the 30th Foodie Monday Blog Hop for the Microwave Cooking Theme.

And to Sarah of Maison Cup Cake and Helen of Casa Costello for their weekly event Bake Of the Week.

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