Friday, October 28, 2016

Thandai Panna Cotta with Saffron Jelly

                      This is my favorite time of the year. The festivities start with the Indian festival of lights - Diwali. Thanksgiving follows next with festive food and crazy overnight shopping. And finally, the holiday season ends with Christmas and we welcome the new year with a bang. So its 2 months of awesome time with family and friends over food and fun.

                      With so much happening around this time, I am always looking for some quick to make dishes. As a big fan of fusion foods, I decided to marry two of my favorite cuisines to create a fun dessert. So here it is, the classic Italian dessert Panna Cotta with the Indian flavor of Thandai, served with Saffron flavored jelly.

                       Thandai is a classic Indian flavor. The paste is made with almonds, pistachio, fennel seeds, black pepper, saffron, cardamom etc. Being a vegetarian, I have used Agar Agar instead of Gelatin. Agar Agar flakes are widely available in grocery stores as well as online sites like Amazon.

So here is my fusion dessert, Thandai Panna Cotta with Saffron Jelly.


Panna Cotta:
  • 1 cup Heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Half and half
  • 1 tsp Agar Agar powder
  • Sugar - I used about 4 Tbsp. Can adjust as desired
  • 2 Tbsp Thandai powder
Saffron Jelly:
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 tsp Agar Agar powder
  • Sugar - I used about 2 Tbsp. Can adjust as desired
  • 3 tsp Rose water or 1 tsp rose essence
  • 7-8 Strands of Saffron

For the Panna Cotta:
  • Dissolve agar agar in 2 tbsp water and keep it aside
  • Mix cream, half & half, Thandai masala and sugar in a non stick pan.
  • Heat on medium-high heat and bring it to simmer. After that add the agar agar mixture and bring it to boil. Make sure to stir it continuously. 

  • Once it comes to boil, take it off the heat and strain it. 
  • Put in the serving glass and let it cool. Once it is room temperature, let it set in refrigerator for 2 hours or until set properly.
For the jelly:
  • Dissolve agar agar in 2 tbsp water and keep it aside 
  • Mix water, rose water, sugar and saffron in a pan.
  • Heat on medium-high heat and bring it to simmer. After that add the agar agar mixture and bring it to boil. Make sure to stir it continuously.
  • Once it comes to boil, take it off the heat.
  • Take the serving glass from the refrigerator and pour this jelly water carefully over the already-set Panna Cotta.
  • Let it cool until it reaches room temperature. Then keep it in the refrigerator to let it set for 3-4 hours or overnight.
Finally, Garnish with Pistachios and serve cold.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Schezwan Sauce

               Today I am back to blogging after a really long time and posting a really simple, but a versatile sauce recipe. Schezwan Sauce is widely used in Indo-Chinese cuisine, it has a very unique flavor and can enhance any dish. It is a blend of  mainly red chilies, garlic and ginger. It is a simple sauce with minimal ingredients and very easy to make.
               There are a variety of red chilies available in the market, you can choose to use any of them depending on your preference, and how spicy you want it to be. My personal preference is a combination of some fresh peppers and some dried chilies. This sauce can be used for making noodles, manchurian, fried rice or as a simple stir fry sauce too for Asian dishes.

Here is my version for this simple, yet delicious Schezwan sauce recipe.

  • 1 cup red chili paste
  • 12-15 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Onions
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp white Vinegar 
  • 1 tsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  •  For the red Chili paste, I used a combination of fresh red jalapenos, dry red Kashmiri chilies, and dry Thai chilies.
  • Soak the chilies in hot water for 30 minutes. Then drain the chilies, de-seed them and grind them to a smooth paste. Add little water, if needed, while grinding. Keep the paste aside.
  • Heat the oil in the pan.
  • Add the garlic and ginger. Saute them until the raw smell of the garlic goes away. 
  • Make sure the garlic is not brown.
  • Now add the onions. Saute the onions until they are translucent.
  • Then add the chili paste. Saute the paste for 3-4 minutes or until the oil separates from the side.
  • Now add the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, black pepper, sugar and 1/2 cup water and mix it well.
  • Let it cook for another 5-6 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
  • Once it is cooled, store it an air-tight container. The sauce will stay good for about 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • If you want to store it for a longer time, you can also freeze the sauce
  • I generally keep a small container in refrigerator for daily use and freeze the rest 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Artichoke Risotto

                Risotto is a rice dish from northern Italy, which is traditionally cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. This is the most common style of cooking rice in Italy. The rice variety generally used are the short grain white rice, which can absorb liquids and release starch, hence making nice creamy risottos. The primary variety used is Arborio rice which is high in starch and makes good risottos.
               Risotto can be made in various ways, with different vegetables, wines, broths, cheeses etc. Here is one variation, Artichoke Risotto.

  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 cups Vegetable broth
  • 1 cup Artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup Sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Onions
  • 2 tbsp Pine nuts
  • 2 Garlic cloves sliced
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 2 tsp Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Dried Parsley (optional)
  • Take a medium pan, roast the pine nuts for 3-4 minutes on medium heat and keep it aside.
  • Heat some olive oil in the same pan. Add the garlic and stir it till it golden brown.
  • Now add the onions and salt. Cook the onions till they are translucent.
  • Then add the Arborio rice and stir it properly. Make sure all the rice kernels are coated with oil.
  • Cook the rice for 2-3 minutes.
  • In the meantime, heat the vegetable broth in another pan on medium heat.
  • Once the rice is sizzling, start adding the vegetable broth, one cup at a time.
  • After the first cup of broth is absorbed, add the next cup.
  • Be sure to stir frequently between additions.
  • Continue adding the broth in this way, until the rice fully cooked. It should take around 18-20 minutes.
  • The risotto should be loose. If it is too dry, you can add a bit more broth.
  • Once the risotto is almost done, stir in the pine nuts, artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes.
  • Finally, add the lime zest and black pepper and give a stir lightly.
  • Garnish with little parsley and serve hot.