Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Omani Halwa

BM # 44
International ABC Cooking
Cooking with Alphabets :  
Category : Sweet / Dessert

Oman, officially called the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

With the alphabet O we have only one country Oman. with rest of the alphabets there has been a curiosity to check which country has been picked by the Blogging Marathon team, but for Oman I am sure we all are curious about Omani dishes.I would not be surprised if my co bloggers too would have chosen this Omani Halwa which I have chosen. But before we talk about this famous dish let us talk a little about the Omani Cuisine.

The cuisine of Oman is generally very simple, with the aid of many spices and marinades to complete a dish, which usually consists of chicken, fish, and mutton. Omani cuisine is not spicy, and varies regionally. Everyday meals generally have components such as rice, a wide variety of soup, salad, curry, and fresh vegetables.

For festive occasions, special dishes are prepared, particularly for Islamic tradition. The range of dishes is very diverse, and there are certain meals only prepared during Ramadan.

For dessert, Omani people have a kind of sweet, known as Omani halwa. This is usually served before the consumption of kahwa, a preparation of coffee and cardamom which is very popular and remains a symbol of hospitality.

This is a halwa which is similar to a Sindhi halwa , called Karachi Halwa. The Karachi Halwa recipe comes from the Sindhi community from Karachi, Sindh. This halwa is loaded with ghee and is full of nuts. It also has a good shelf life. Made from corn flour, it looks translucent and any food color could be used to give it a hue. The normal colors that are used are Orange and green. While looking for a dessert from this country, I landed on Jaleelaa blog and I knew my recipe for the alphabet O. The recipe is simple but one has to make sure that the halwa has cooked perfectly. One can choose any kind of nuts though I personally prefer almond and pistachios.

Coming to the recipe..

Omani Halwa

100 gms corn flour
200 ml water
Few drops red food color

300 ml water
175 gms sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Pinch saffron ( optional )

3 tbsp rose water
1 tsp cardamom powder
Nuts as per choice.
I used almonds and pistachios

Heat ghee and fry the nuts lightly, keep aside.
In the same pan boil water along with sugar and cardamom powder.
Boil for 5-7 minutes.

Make sugar syrup first
In a wide non stick pan heat the ghee and fry the nuts and keep aside.
In the same pan, Boil the water along with sugar and cardamom powder
Boil for 5 minutes.

In a bowl of 200 ml water, add red color and flour mix well and add it to sugar syrup stir continuously with out any lumps.
Add ghee ,saffron , cardamom powder and stir continuously.

Finally add roasted nuts , stir well.
Garnish with pista flakes.
Grease the tray with ghee and transfer the halwa into it and let it cool. Cut into desired shapes.

Recipe Source : Jaleela

We all are fond of Karachi halwa , so when I made this sweet, I somehow was getting jittery, but when I tasted the halwa I was actually quite happy. We got Karachi Halwa to eat which was as good as the market halwa sold in Mumbai , also the home made halwa did not have as much ghee as the market one. so it sure was a treat.

Thanks Jaleela !

Pin It

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nepali Tomato Pickle (Golbheda ko Achar)

Pickles add a little zing to the food and I have always been very fond of them, though recently I have literally given them up due to the high salt and oil in them. I prefer the oil free pickles which we Sindhis make in winters. They are easy and are ready in two to three days. While cooking Curry Meals for this BM , I tried making pickles for these meals.The Nepali pickle is more like a chutney where you roast the tomatoes and then make a paste with all the ingredients. You then temper it . The pickle or chutney if you prefer to call it must be left to infuse flavors. When I finished making I took a lick, well that was to check my spices, plus I wanted to know the before and after taste. The two hour infusion made the pickle delicious, a little tangy and the mustard flavor more prominent. If you guys do not have the patience then perhaps you could add a few drops of vinegar.
So here is how you make this pickle.You could serve it with the Nepali Meal , along with Tarkari and Saag..

Tomato Pickle (golbheda ko achar)
2 cups roasted tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
3 fresh red chilis, minced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp mustard oil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Salt, to taste


1 tbsp mustard oil
1 tsp fenugreek
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Blend the first set of ingredients to a smooth paste.
Transfer to large bowl.
in a frying pan heat the mustard oil. Add fenugreek. When it turns dark, add garlic slices until they turn golden brown. Pour the garlic-oil mixture and chopped green onion mixture over the blended paste, mix, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Pin It

Nepali Aloo Gobhi ki Tarkari

Daal Bhat Tarkari is Nepal's national dish. When we say daal Bhat it could be any lentil with rice. Tarkari is a vegetable curry, it could be with little gravy or a dry side dish. Nepalese eat any vegetable with daal, it could be cauliflower,cabbage, beans, carrots potatoes. Generally they semi boil the vegetable and then temper it with spices, This is no frill curry, absolutely simple and basic , something that even a poor man can eat.

I chose to cook cauliflower with potatoes for today's Tarkari. The main chef at the hotel always boils the cauliflower and then prepares it's sauce or adds the spices .
I made it in the same manner, normally I would never boil cauliflower, but boiling it with a pinch of turmeric and salt gave it a different taste. This was quick to prepare as one works on one dish on two burners .

This Tarkari takes up very little oil and has a delicious, yet comforting taste and I served it with naturally Daal Bhat and Saag , not missing the achaar.

Vegetable Curry (tarkari)
1 medium cauliflower
2 small potatoes
2-3 onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
4-5 tomatoes, small, finely chopped
Green chilies, chopped (to taste)
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp curry powder
1/2-1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
Cut the cauliflower into florets.
Soak them in water for a while.
Peel and cut the potatoes into big cubes.
Place a pot of water to boil.
Add the prepared cauliflower and potatoes to the boiling water.
Drain the water once done.
Meantime heat oil / ghee in another pan.
Add cumin seeds.
Add garlic, ginger and onion.
Let the onion turn pink.
Add green chillies and tomatoes.
Add all the spices.
Add the boiled cauliflower and potatoes.
Mix gently and simmer so the spices can seep in.
Sprinkle coriander leaves.

Pin It

Nepali Daal Bhat Tarkari

BM # 44
International ABC Cooking
Cooking with Alphabets : N
Meal Type : National Dish (Meal)

Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign nation located in South Asia.

On Day 14 th day of this marathon we have to cook with the alphabet N . My first choice for this alphabet was Nigeria, my dish was finalized but I changed due to my change in theme. I wanted to cook a National Dish and so landed up cooking Daal Bhat Tarkari.

Dal Bhat is the quintessential Nepali dish and a staple in the rice-cultivating regions.

Dal Bhat  is traditionally served with vegetable tarkari (a mix of seasonal vegetables) and also known as Dal bhat tarkari. Along with this they also have yoghurt or a curry made of chicken, goat meat or fish and a small portion of chutney or pickle (achar). The Dal is cooked with tomatoes, onion, chili, garlic and ginger in addition to lentils or beans. It also contains herbs and spices such as coriander, garam masala, cumin seeds and turmeric. The recipe of Dal bhat can vary from locality,and family.

Our main chef at the hotel is a Nepali and whenever I ask him ..what do you eat in Nepal..he has just one answer Daal Bhat Tarkari. I have seen him cooking and after reading recipes on many Nepali blogs I realized that my chefs cooking has traits of Nepali Cuisine.

Dal bhat (lentils and rice), is an inexpensive and tasty meal to eat. If you order dal bhat at a lodge or tea house, any extra dal or bhat you need to satisfy your appetite is usually free. Dal bhat is the safest thing to eat, because that’s what the locals eat.It is the most common and classic Nepali dish and is also the staple daily diet of the majority of the population living in Nepal.

The complete meal was as good as an Indian meal, but I have to admit that my house boy , who is a Nepali was all smiles and was very happy to get this meal. He was my critic and I am so glad because he is actually very fussy with his food. He kept telling me make more achaar and declared the food authentic. My day was made.

1 cup whole moong or any lentil that you like
1 tb sp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
8-10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2  tomatoes, chopped
2 green chillies , finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ginger, chopped
Salt to taste 
Coriander leaves
Wash and soak the lentils for 3-4 hours.
Boil them with salt.
In another pan heat ghee.
Add cumin seeds, garlic and onion.
Cook till onions turn pink.
Add green chillies and tomatoes, cook till soft and mushy.
Add turmeric and salt and the boiled lentils.
Cook till the lentils blend well with the gravy.
Sprinkle coriander and serve with Bhat.

Pin It

Nepali Saag / Curried Spinach

Greens are a good source of iron and somehow I feel no meal is complete without a green. Nepali cuisine is very similar to Indian cuisine , except for a few differences. I have friends who live in Nepal, more than that 70% of my hotel staff is Nepali and while interacting with them many a times I get curious to know about their food habits.They tell me Saag is is an additional dish,to Daal Bhat, Tarkari. Curd and achaar are kind of a  must.

This is a simple comfort dish where the greens are sauteed and mildly spiced . The combo of the meal is not rich , but a combo which would satisfy and leave you happy.

Curried Spinach (saag)
300 gms spinach leaves , roughly chopped
1/2-1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp curry powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp cumin seed

Salt to taste
Heat ghee.
Add cumin seeds, let splutter.
Add garlic, let it turn pink.
Add chopped spinach , pinch of salt.
Cook on full flame.
Water will be released , keep cooking.
Just when the water is nearly finished add white pepper and curry powder.
Simmer for a few minutes and remove from fire.


Pin It

Monday, September 15, 2014

Balushahi - North India Special for ICC

Balushahi is a traditional North Indian sweet. It has similar ingredients as a doughnut but Balushahi is very flaky sweet. I spent a good 18 years of my life in the walled city of Delhi. While living in old Delhi, I used to pass at least three sweet shops everyday while going to the school bus stop. I remember these sweet shops selling hot samosas, bedmi poori , and a array of Indian sweets. I remember Balushahi very distinctly...I have always been fond of flour based sweets.

When Valli announced this challenge I was very happy because this sweet not only brought back loads of childhood memories, but also my urge to eat this sweet. It had been really long time since I had relished this. I knew maida and fried are not accepted in my family, so I scaled down the recipe to half.I knew I would still be getting six pieces, one each for everyone, if all ate.

So one fine day I made the dough and let it rest while I got ready for work. Trust me it took me just another 15 minutes and a wonderful Balushahi was made. Since I was in a rush I quickly packed the Balushahis and left for work, eagerly waiting to get back home when I could get back home to click and relish those Indian donuts.

This is a perfect recipe and the Balushahis turned out excellent. Nice , crusty, flaky from outside and soft, melting in the mouth from inside.Okay I have a confession to make. Out of the six Balushahis, all family members ate half each, I was left with three and I ate all of them, though at a interval of a day, I did feel guilty too, but well it is all about your love, right? Thanks Valli for all those calories, but I loved the sweet. LOL.

Manjula's Version of Balushahi

This recipe will make 12.

1 cup all purpose flour (maida or plain flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter cold cut into small pieces or cold clarified butter ghee
1/4 cup yogurt cold(curd, dahi)

1 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
4 cardamom pods crushed

1 tablespoons sliced pistachios

To make the Syrup
In a sauce pan add water, sugar, and cardamom over medium heat, bring it to a boil.
Let it simmer until syrup is almost to one thread on candy thermometer it should be 215 degree.
Set aside.

To make the Balushahi
In a bowl mix the flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Add butter mix with your fingers, mixture should be crumby.
Add the yogurt slowly as needed making into soft dough. Do not knead the dough.
Cover the dough and let it sit for about half an hour.
Take the dough and knead just enough to hold it together.
Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
Make the dough balls, Balls will not be very smooth and will have cracks all around; make a deep dent in the center of the balls.
Heat the oil in a flat frying pan over low heat.
The frying pan should have about 1 ½ inch of oil. To check if oil is ready put a little piece of dough in the oil. It should make oil lightly sizzle, if dough float oil is too hot.
Place the Balushahi in the frying pan don’t overcrowd as Balushahi will expend to about 1-1/2 time and they should not overlap.
It should take about 2 minutes before Balushahi will come up.
Wait another 3-4 minutes before turning over Balushahi should be light brown from bottom.
Fry the Balushahi until they are golden brown from both sides; do not turn more then three times.
This should take about 10 minutes.
Balushahi will look very flakey If the Balushahi are fried on high heat, they will not be cooked inside.
Take them out over layered of paper towel so it can absorb the extra oil.
Dip Balushahi in the syrup all around and remove them. Don’t leave them in syrup.

Garnish with sliced pistachios.
I drizzled a wee bit of syrup over the pistachios to give them a glaze.

Pin It

Harcha - Moroccon Bread

Harcha is a Moroccan bread and it means "rough or coarse" in Moroccan Darija. People living in the East of Morocco, especially Oujda  excel at making Harcha .

Harcha is such a great treat anytime and is traditionally served during Ramadan or occasionally for breakfast or for afternoon snacks. It can be served with a sauce of butter-honey, or with jam, or peanut butter, chocolate spread, or cheese, eggs, etc... Harcha can also be stuffed with anything, and it is made both ways, sweet and savory version and it comes in several shapes and sizes .It can be stored as well.

I made this bread along with the Moroccan meal where I serve Curry with Quinoa. A Chick Pea Salad, Harcha and Coriander Yogurt. 

This is a no bake bread, but mind you very very buttery. One needs real patience to cook it, you need to cook it on absolutely slow fire to let it cook through and through, but of course it tastes amazing and the effort is worth the patience..

1/2 cups (250 grams) semolina
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
7 tablespoons (100 grams) butter
1/2 cup (100 ml) milk (or as needed)

Step 1 - Preparing the Dough:
Place the semolina in a bowl, add the sugar, the baking powder, and the salt. Mix well. You need semolina for this recipe – so do not try to substitute it .
Melt the butter in the microwave or a saucepan.
Add the butter to the semolina and mix with a spoon. 
When it gets hard with the spoon, mix with your hands, Moroccan style!
Add the milk and mix until you get a smooth dough.
Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Step 2 - Shaping the Harcha:
Turn on the heat to medium and heat the griddle.
Back to the dough… you will notice that it is drier as the semolina has absorbed the milk. If it’s too dry, add a litte more milk. 
To get perfect shapes, I am using a cookie cutter to make medium sized Harcha. You can make a large one, or mini-ones. 
The discs should be ¼” thick or a bit thicker… if they are thin, the harcha would be crispy, if they are thicker, it will be soft.
When shaping the disks use parchment paper, so it’s easy to transfer them to the pan.

Step 3 - Cooking the Harcha:
Reduce the heat to low – very important otherwise the harcha will burn from outside and not cook from inside – transfer the harcha to the pan, and cook for more than 5 minutes on each side. You will see that the surface gets this beautiful golden brown color and that the discs start to dry. If you try to push on them, they will feel dry. Flip and cook the other side.
Let the harcha cool a bit and cut it in half with a sharp knife. If the harcha is still too hot and the knife not sharp, it will crumble. 
Fill with cheese, jam, honey, or anything you like!

Pin It