Monday, 20 August 2012

Banana Chocolate Biscuits


I've had some dark chocolate lying in the fridge for a deeeeliciously long time. Call it laziness, call it the comfort of nibbling a magically unending bar of chocolate, but I kept that bar in the fridge for almost a month. Till guests with ickle children came along, and my mother promptly said, right in front of them, "Isn't there some chocolate in the fridge? Maybe you can finally do something with it!"


Anyway, I'm not a big fan of bananas myself, and I definitely don't want them in my lovely chocolate. But the moment the children saw the bananas in the fruit bowl, they had to have banana-chocolate mousse.

Well. All right then. Good chocolate gone to waste. Or so I thought, while I set about making the mousse. However, in the middle I changed my mind, and started making fruity chocolate biscuits, because I've had the recipe in my mind for a while, and wanted to see if the pracs matched up to the theory. And when I was done, I must say, they turned out radically different from the sickly-sweet mess I expect all banana desserts to be.

So, here goes the picture book :-)

 Peel a frozen banana.

 Chop it up. Then mash it with a fork.

Now, in a wok, melt two teaspoon of butter on the lowest stovetop heat. Swirl the melted butter all around the wok, then gently slide in three teaspoons of flour (I used whole wheat) and stir with a spatula till it begins to turn golden brown. Then, whisk in half a cup of milk. If you like a smoother texture, you can use half heavy cream instead of all milk.

If at any point you think the wok is getting too hot and the mixture might char, take it straight off the flames and do the next few mixings by putting the wok on a cool table-top or stone slab.

 Then, add the mashed banana. Mix well. 

 Pour in a tablespoon of the chocolate sauce. Whisk.

 When it is evenly mixed in, add another two tablespoons (or three!), and mix it in.

The chocolate sauce:
Is tres simple. You take small pieces of dark, semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, top with milk, and heat for about thirty seconds. Given it twenty seconds to stand, then make an even sauce by whisking it.



The biscuits:
No dough required. That's the best part about these biscuits. You just coarsely grind some Marie biscuits, mix in a teaspoon of water to hold it together, then pour tiny, equally spaced heaps on a well greased baking tray. Then, you flatten each heap, so you get a tray full of this:

Bake this at 170/180C for five to ten minutes, till they take on a lovely chocolately shade. Or, you could leave them as-is. I like the slightly toasty flavour of baking ready-to-eat biscuits :-)

Then, you add a generous dollop of the banana-chocolate mousse on each flattened heap. Even it with the back of a spoon, if you have to. Then, pour another tiny heap on each biscuit, and flatten it again. Bake for another ten minutes. Voila! Heavenly banana chocolate biscuits are ready!

You can eat them as-is, or doused in chocolate sauce, or doused in chocolate and then frozen. I love the last option the best :-)


Go on, then. Such an amazingly easy chocolate recipe, aren't you going to give it a try? :-)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Whole Wheat Mushroom/Chicken Pie

Much too late in the season to help farmers, we've been having a spell of cold breezes and rain. Almost overnight, the weather has changed from the daal-bhat-lemon juice kind to the hearty soup type. Which is why I made a version of my savoury chicken pie, much a quicker, much less elaborate one, in a whole wheat crust (recipe for crust here).

It was very very yum.

Now, very quickly, this is what went into the pie, sharp enough to counter the chilly, wet weather. Skinned, cleaned chicken cut into small chunks. You can use meat-on-bone -- it gives the filling a better flavour, I think -- but before putting it into the pie, you'll have to pick out and chuck the bones. The chicken's substitutable with chopped mushrooms, by the way. Now, in a wok, heat a teaspoon of butter or white oil (sunflower, canola/rape seed) over a low heat. When it melts/warms, stir in half an onion, diced; one green chilli, chopped fine; and half an ich of ginger, peeled and minced (two cloves of garlic minced, optional). Keep stirring till fragrant.

Add the chicken, with a little salt, and stir like mad. When the meat changes colour from pink to white to golden-brown, add water (or chicken stock), cover the wok, and simmer till the meat is tender. Add enough water or stock so that when you're done, there's still quite a bit of gravy.

 A small greased earthenware bowl, lined with the crust. Make incisions in it.

 Pour in the filling. See the chilies? And how much gravy there is?

 Now, cover it with another piece of the crust, seal, and make incisions.

 Just baked! The perfect chicken pot-pie in twenty-five minutes!

 With thickened, delicious, savoruy gravy inside. Just the way pies should be, and not the way pies usually are these days, all dried meat pieces within.

Make this quick, people! The weather will not last :-) :-) 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Cambodian-style Chicken in Coconut-milk Curry

I can never ever be a food-blogger, unlike our resident Rimilet, because I have not the patience to take and upload pictures et al, especially where cooking is concerned. I'm more of an impulse cook, relying on improvisations above all else -- sometimes these kitchen experiments turn out well, and at other times, heh. :)

Tonight, at about 10 pm, I decided to cook a chicken curry with a coconut-milk broth base, vaguely inspired by Cambodian style fresh ground-spice-mixture cooking. The recipe here is totally improvised, based on my cooking common sense, and I used what I have in my kitchen for the most part. This one was decidedly a success, yess. For a change, I had my camera around, and so, voila!

The recipe here is approximate in terms of amounts of ingredients, etc. Go by your general cooking instincts, people. It works well.

Disclaimer: this was done in an American kitchen, plus I sourced a lot of the ingredients from my friendly neighbourhood pan-Asian grocery store (thank you Chun Ching!), so I have a bunch of ingredients not readily available in the usual Calcutta rannaghor. Just substitute them as you see fit :)


1) Marinating the chicken:

I used skinless, boneless chicken thigh pieces, roughly cubed. I have about 830gms (1.8 lbs) of chicken in here.

Then added salt, ground black pepper, 3 tablespoons (approx) of rice wine vinegar, and some Korean red chilly paste.

Note: You can substitute plain vinegar/lime juice for the rice wine vinegar, or even use an unripe papaya for this -- the idea is to tenderise and flavour the meat. And you can substitute red chilly powder for the Korean chilly paste.

All mixed together, now :)

2) Making the spice paste/chopping veggies:

Garlic, ginger (chopped into long, thin, julienned strips), onions -- the base to any good curry, mamah. I chanced upon a giant mutant conjoined-twin onion, and it made pretty patterns when cut, yess.

Next, making the spice-paste! It should be uber-simple for anyone with a mixie/grinder/food processor. But I had only a grater available, so grated everything by hand -- ah well.

Zesting a lemon -- the tangy smell is bloody heavenly.

PS Lime (i.e., paati lebu) is better, folks, but I had only lemons handy. If you have lime leaves/lebu pata too, nothing like it --- just add it to the mixie!

Adding citrusy leaves to ground-spice-mixtures is a hallmark of Cambodian cooking, I learnt last summer. (As is adding galangal and chopped bamboo shoot, but alas, I didn't have these on me.)

To the lemon zest, add a paste of basil leaves (tulshi pata).

Shilnora works for this. Rimi assures me, however, that tulshi in a mixie/grinder becomes bitter, so maybe paste the tulshi by hand, even if you have a grinder?

(The smell brought back memories of my granddad, who used to have tulshi pata paste with Chawan Prash every single evening. )

Next, add lemongrass paste. I added approx 2 tablespoons. Fresh trumps out-of-a-tube any day, but the problem with impulse-cooking at 10pm is that stores are closed by then :(

Above, you see the lemongrass paste added to the basil-lemon zest mixture.

Grated ginger and 3 green chillies join the fray! Aaand the spice-paste is done :)


I used sesame seed oil (about 2 tablespoons), because I love the smell and the flavour it brings, but any vegetable oil should do, really.

PS that is Honu in the background, playing my swing music Pandora station while I cook <3

Fry the onions, adding a bit of turmeric and a shake of dried ground basil leaves.

After the onions have become somewhat translucent, add the chopped ginger and garlic, saute a bit, and then add the spice-paste.

Saute, like so :)

Depending on how hot you like your curry, now is the time to ponder adding some split dried red chillies to the saute-mix in the pan. I put them in, because the wee smidgen of Korean red chilly paste (called gochujung, as Panu informs me) and 3 chilles pasted into the spice mixture isn't hot enough for me. 

The chicken goes into the pan next.

Fold it in prettily, so that the onions-spicemixture-garlicky-gingery heavenliness coats the chicken pieces thoroughly. Fry this for a few minutes until the chicken pieces get browned.

Add the coconut milk once the chicken is somewhat koshaofied.

PS Lookit me sneakily promoting brand of coconut milk in this shot, heh :P I am clever like that.

Check the salt/sugar balance (I added a pinch of sugar to the broth at this point), stir the whole mixture, and bring to a boil.

Once the gravy starts bubbling, turn flame to the lowest setting, cover pan with a lid and let simmer until chicken is done.

Just before taking off the heat, garnish with fresh basil leaves to prettify and also to add a burst of full-bodied flavour to the already delicious broth.

Serve over steamed rice (I have jeera rice in here), and enjoy :)