Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Asparagus, sundried tomato and olive loaf

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My husband surprised me a few years ago and as I continue to enjoy it.  I often use the recipes in the "in season" section of the magazine.  This month, asparagus is in season and I happen to be a big fan.  

I love it as thoran/side dish, and in salads or just grilled and garnished with olive oil. Asparagus in bread seemed like a fantastic idea.  So I had to try this recipe as soon as I read it.  

The sundried tomatoes give a lovely tangy, chewy texture to the bread.  Although the recipe called to use Gruyere or Beaufort cheese, I didn't use it, just to cut down the calorie in take. The bread came out really well, and before I knew it, only the crumbs were left.  I did feel that the bread would have been even better with the cheese.  But then my waistline would have to pay the price. :-)

This is lovely with a hot cup of tea/coffee.  Enjoy!  

This recipe is also going to Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes for AFAM - Olives

  • 100ml Olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g Asparagus(woody ends removed), each cut into 3 pieces
  • 200g Self raising flour
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 100 ml milk
  • handful of black pitted olives
  • 100g sundried tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 100g Gruyere or Beaufort, grated

Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5/350F. Oil a loaf tin. Cook the asparagus in salted water for 2 minutes, drain then cool quickly under cold running water. Pat dry. 

In a large bowl, mix the flour and thyme with the seasoning. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, milk and oil stirring all the time to draw the flour into the center. Beat for a minute or so to make a smooth batter. 

Reserve few asparagus tips and few olives.  Add the remaining asparagus, tomatoes, olives and two thirds of the cheese to the batter. Pour into the tin, and put the reserved asparagus and olives on top.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake feels firm to touch and is golden and crusty on top.  Cool for 5 minutes and turn out on a wire rack.
Adapted from BBC GoodFood Magazine

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kheema Masoor dal Pulao with Cucumber Raita

A decade or so ago I was visiting my brother in Dubai. Those were the carefree days. I was newly married and was on my way to the US to join my husband and to start a new journey together with him.
My sister in law,who is also an excellent cook, was treating me to all types of delicious food including introducing me to the Arab/Middle eastern food that I had never eaten before. I was having a blast trying the shawarma, falafels, hummus, arrayes etc. One evening her neighbor sent us this amazing dish called Kheema Masoor Dal Pulao. I loved the dish and had to have the recipe.

The Kheema(Mince meat) was cooked in tomatoes with masoor dal and potatoes. The rice also had masoor dal in it. I had never eaten rice with mince meat before, and the lovely combination took me by surprise. Rice, masoor dal, potatoes and the mince meat cooked with tomatoes was perfect along with cool cucumber raita. It is like lasagne, the rice is like the pasta and the mince meat is the filling and it is assembled and cooked in layers. Make this dish and your family will ask for more!


For the Rice:
  • 3/4 cup Whole Masoor Dal/Puy lentils(the ones that have a green brown skin - not the split red ones)
  • 2 cups Rice
  • 2 tbsp Vinegar
  • 6 cups Water
  • Salt to taste

For the Mince Meat:
  • 2 tsp Oil
  • 3-4 Cardamom
  • 2 2" Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 4 Cloves
  • 3/4 cup Masoor Dal
  • 1 tsp Peppercorns
  • 2 Onions chopped
  • 3 Potatoes cut into quarters
  • 4-5 Green chilies (+/-)
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger garlic paste
  • 4 Tomatoes chopped
  • 450 gms Mince meat
  • 2-3 tsp Roasted coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp Chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup Yogurt
  • Salt to taste


For the Rice:

Wash and soak the masoor dal for half an hour to one hour before cooking. Wash and soak the rice for half an hour or so. In a vessel boil 6 cups of water for the rice. Season with salt. Put in the drained masoor dal and cook for 15 minutes or so. Add the vinegar and put the rice. Cook the rice till the rice plumps up and the grain has a b
ite to it. The rice should NOT be completely cooked. Drain the rice and keep aside.

For the Kheema (Mince Meat):

In a pot, pour the oil, when hot add the cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, peppercorns and cloves. When it pops add the chopped onions, saute the onions till translucent. Add the chilies, ginger garlic paste and potatoes and saute till the potatoes have cooked a bit and browned on all sides, around 10-15 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and saute till the oil separates from the tomatoes. Add the drained masoor dal and kheema (Mince Meat). Add the chili, turmeric and roasted coriander powder and salt to taste. Saute for a few seconds before adding the beaten yogurt and cook till the potatoes are cooked through and the kheema is cooked and the mixture is dry.

Note: Both the rice and kheema can be made a day ahead and assemble the day after. This is a good dish if you are having guest over.

Assembling the dish:
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • Few pinches of Garam Masala powder
  • Few Strands of Saffron
  • Birrista(2 Medium size fried onions)

In a non stick pot, add the oil. Put a layer of the cooked masoor dal rice. Sprinkle the rice with few pinches of garam masala powder, saffron and birrista.

Cover the rice with some of the kheema to form a second layer. Continue with the rice and the garam masala, saffron and birrista. Continue layering till all the kheema and rice is used.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and tightly close the lid. Cook the rice on a low flame for around 15 -20 minutes or till when you open the lid, the steam comes out of the rice and you can smell the fantastic aroma of the saffron, rice and mince meat. Serve hot with cucumber raita (recipe follows).

Cucumber Raita:

1 1/2 cup Yogurt beaten
1 Medium size cucumber grated or finely chopped
Few coriander leaves chopped
1/4 tsp Jeera(cumin) powder
Salt to taste.

To the beaten yogurt add rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Serve garnished with some fresh chopped coriander and a pinch of jeera powder.