Ria's Collection: April 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011


Butter Chicken
After the lecture I gave you in my last post as to comparing homemade to restaurant made, this is such a contradiction. The first time I ever ate a Butter Chicken was in a restaurant and so whenever I make it at home, I compare it with the restaurant made. It usually doesn't even come close to that but I used to think that's the maximum I could do. But I was proved wrong. Very very wrong.
Tandoori Masala
When we went to Chicago last July, I read Monica's article in a magazine/newspaper,cannot remember which one it was now...getting old, I suppose! I jumped up with joy because she is a food blogger and I get excited everytime I see 'one of us' in the media. I told everyone there that I knew her and how good she is with with her stuff. That recipe was stuck in my mind.But month's flew by and then I won a copy of her lovely book, Modern Spice. I cooked my way through it,mostly for parties and whatever I cook for parties never rarely appear on this space as I want to serve them all hot to our guests :-)
Tandoori Chicken
So last week, we went to a popular Nepali/Tibetian restaurant in St.Paul and ordered Butter Chicken. It smelt so good and tasted even better but towards the end, we kind of felt sick and heavy because of the enormous amount of butter in it.As we walked towards the car, I rubbed on my belly and was thinking, 'I could have done without that'. That's something I hate...eat happily and then feeling guilty about it as soon as it goes down your throat! So I was determined to make this at home, in a healthier way...less butter and less cream. I have made a Murgh Makani before and thought it was 'the best' then, but I would say this one wins hands down over the other one :-)
Tandoori ChickenBUTTER CHICKEN
Recipe courtesy : Monica Bhide

1c thick yogurt
1 tbsp peeled ,grated ginger
1 tbsp peeled, grated garlic
1/4 canned tomato puree (I used tomato paste)
2 tbsp lemon/lime juice
2 tbsp melted butter/ghee

1 whole chicken, cut into 14 pcs. Slit the pieces to allow the marinade to penetrate.

For the sauce:
4 tbsp butter ( I used only 2)
1 tbsp peeled, grated ginger
1 tbsp peeled, minced garlic
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1 green chilli, snipped fine using a kitchen shear
1 tsp Kasuri Methi
1/2 c cream

Marinade: Mix together all the ingredients including the chicken .Cover and let it marinate in the fridge for 1.5 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and bake the chicken (along with the left over marinade)for 30 mins or until the juices run clear.

During the last 15 mins of baking, you can start with the sauce.
In a large pan,on medium heat, melt the butter.Add the ginger & garlic and saute for 30 secs.
Add in the chopped tomato and cook for 10 mins mashing it up with the back of your spoon as you go. By the end of 10 mins, it will be an orange sauce with hardly any pieces of tomatoes to be seen.
By now the chicken would have been baked to perfection.
Add the chicken, the remaining marinade, salt, chili & fenugreek leaves. Simmer covered for 10 mins
Add the cream and simmer for a minute.
Serve hot!

Verdict: I cannot describe in words as to how much we loved this curry. It's just PERFECT! When you make this and taste it, you will thanks heavens! This is actually Monica's father's recipe and I have to say a big Thank You to him for coming up with such an incredible recipe!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Tandoori Masala

Ilove anything 'Tandoori'. It has a unique flavour and is so Indian. Whichever Indian restaurant you go to(atleast to the ones I've been), you will always find a Tandoori Chicken/Butter Chicken/Chicken Tikka Masala on the menu. It is so Indian. I think we should have a 'National Masala' and there will be a tough competition between 'Tandoori & 'Garam' masala for that title:-) I really wouldn't know which one to choose because I love both!
Tandoori Masala

There are some thoughts which bother me when I try to find the 'perfect' recipe. For me, if I have tasted anything homemade first and then go to a restaurant, I always compare it  'homemade' to 'restaurant'. But if I have eaten anything in a restaurant for the first time and I try to make it at home, then it's restaurant to homemade comparison. Whatever it is, I think it should be the former first as I feel that is the real cooking with real ingredients! It's not that the restaurants are serving anything plastic, but a lot of unhealthy amounts of butter,cream & oil goes into it. Some people feel that if you add  lumps of butter, your dish can go from poor to rich and taste exceptional and I've been a victim of that, a sad victim. It was like I was drinking butter in the form of a curry :-D
Tandoori Chicken

It's all about the freshness of ingredients, how much you add and where you add it  makes all the difference. Again, this is my personal opinion .Now what does all this have to do with a simple Tandoori Masala, you may ask! I just shared what was in my mind, that's all :-) I made the BEST EVER Butter Chicken for dinner last night with this homemade masala and that is for another post. So till then , find some time to make this masala and keep it ready! When I post the butter chicken recipe, if you feel like it, you can make it for dinner that night or else you can use it for other recipes :-)

Recipe source : My very good friend Sadhana Ginde

2 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp coriander powder
4 tsp paprika (you can use Kashmiri Mirch)
2 tsp Kasuri Methi /Dried Fenugreek Leaves
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder

Combine all the ingredients above using a whisk/spoon/coffee grinder and store it in an airtight container. It stays fresh for 4-6 weeks.

Verdict: It tastes exceptionally good!! Jobin found me reaching for the bottle this morning to have a whiff of it :) It smells so nice!

Friday, April 22, 2011


This post is just a 'blast from the past' sorts and not a new recipe post. I know, most of you are gearing towards breaking the fast and gorging on non-veg curries and desserts so I thought I could put two and two together and create a small menu for you, just in case you are here looking for 'Easter Special'  recipes :)

Haven't found what you are looking for, yet? Check out my ever growing Recipe Index!

Wishing you all a Happy Easter!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Pavakka Mezhukkupuratti
If it wasn't for Appan telling me that my blog has become boring because I haven't updated for a few days now, I would have really enjoyed being in my cocoon. Once something comes up between me and blogging it takes a big effort for me to get back to it. I like to be lazy and not type so many words and arrange pictures in between each paragraph and then 'publish' the post only to realise that there's a mistake in the recipe that I need to correct and so I 'edit' the post and 'publish' again. Sometimes after that I realise that my favourite picture of the dish is not even there in the final post!  Anyway, that pretty much sums up my day when I get back to blogging after a few days :-)

Pavakka/ Bittergourd is one of my favourite nutritious veggie (very good source of Iron). I love it's bitterness balanced with other ingredients that we add to it. This is a very simple dish that you can make, but you will need some time as it takes a good 30 mins to crisp up from it former bitter and green state to the beautiful mouthwatering crunchy brown stage. You can stop the cooking process in between and be happy or sad (mostly sad actually ) as it will be bitter and don't blame me ;-)

I'm not in a great mood to talk (rather write) much today as I am kind of busy (in my head) planning all my chores for this week. We are having a party at home this weekend and I am so looking forward to all the cooking and entertaining that comes along with it. I really am. I know some of you must be thinking whether I am crazy, but what to do, I love to cook and entertain! I always wanted my home to be a home full of eatables, always! My home was like that. It was always stocked with food. The minute some one walks in , they will be fed with everything homemade. We hardly had any bakery snacks except for 'kadala muttai'/ Chikki, 'Paper-il pothinja cake/ Sponge cake in candy wrapper', 'Motta puffs/ Egg Puffs' etc.
Pavakka Mezhukkupuratti

So when I got married and moved to US, I used to plan of stocking my freezer with ready-to-fry 'cutlets', 'spring rolls', 'fish packets' 'chicken samosa' etc so that I just have to thaw and fry when guests come home. Sadly, it doesn't work like how it works in India. No, no, not that I am lazy to make them, but we don't have guests like how we have in India unless we call them for supper or a meal together. Yeah, life here is quite boring when you think that way. So whoever comes home, I make sure they are well fed...till their nose!

So now, how many of you want to come home?? :-)
My own recipe (Just love the way it sounds!)
Serves 2

4 medium sized bittergourd,sliced fine
1 large red onion, sliced fine
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder or to your spice level
Salt to taste
Oil as needed

As mentioned, slice the bittergourd as fine as you can. I used my mandoline to slice them both (the onions).
In a large pan, mix all of the ingredients together and cook on medium-high heat till you get them as crispy as you see in the picture. It will take about 30 mins maximum and some amount of oil which needs to be drizzled in as and when needed. You will know when to add the extra oil when you are cooking this.

Verdict: Trust me, it tastes really good! Especially with rice and yogurt.

I am sending this yummy side dish as an entry to The Kerala Kitchen hosted by yours truly!

Monday, April 11, 2011


Pizza pinwheels
Where does the time go when we have to do something for a particular date? It just flies for me and I'm sure it's the same with you. A Sweet Punch is a baking group that I'm a part of and for this month, we were supposed to bake a pizza.The toppings were left to our choice and if I'm given a choice, I can go really wild thinking about the possibilities which in the end will confused the already confused Gemini. So that happened once again, that morning as I set forth to make the pizza. The dough was made the previous day and was put to rise slowly in the refrigerator.
Pizza on a stick
Now, to the topping. Bacon?Sausage?Veggies?Plain cheese? Ahem! NO way! All the 'Suryanamaskar's ' that I have been doing will go for a toss. Okay, so no cheese. Then what? I didn't want to go with the usual pizza sauce/meat filling topped with cheese kinda pizza, instead wanted something totally totally different. That's when I remembered what I baked for my nephew and niece long time ago...pinwheels on stick!

I had some smoked Italian Sausage with me in the freezer, freezing for the last 6 months. I bought it at our Farmer's Market and they are homemade sausages.Back when we bought that, I had made some filling with it for our Saturday Brunch Sandwich and it was a hit! So I just put 2 and 2 together and made the pizza :)
This dough is a breeze to make, thanks Divya for choosing this recipe.The filling is just a matter of sauteeing some red onions & sausages with soya sauce, salt and pepper.

Recipe for pizza dough : Pioneer Woman
Recipe for the filling: My own

Pizza dough (I halved the recipe and got 15 pinwheels)
1 tsp yeast
4 c all purpose flour/maida
1 tsp salt
1/3 c EVOO (I used canola oil)

Sausage filling:
2 large smoked Italian sausage,chopped up into tiny bits (I used my mezzaluna for this)
Half of a large red onion, sliced fine
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
3 tbsp soy sauce or to taste ( I always use Dark Soy Sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pizza filling
Pizza dough:
Dissolve the yeast in 1 1/2 c warm water and set aside for 10 mins till it foams up.
Mix the flour and salt together.Drizzle in  the oil and mix well.
Add in the yeast + water and mix well to form a  ball of dough.
Oil a large bowl and dump the dough into it and rotate to coat the dough with the oil.
Cover it tight with a plastic wrap and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Heat oil and saute the onions. When it is soft, add in the ginger garlic paste and saute for another 1 min.
Add in the chopped sausage and mix well. 
Add the soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste. In most cases you will not need the salt. So check and then add.
Switch of the stove & let it cool completely.

Pre-heat the oven to the maximum temperature for 10 mins. Dust your baking sheet /stone with cornmeal/semolina.

On a floured surface, roll out the pizza dough into a rectangle.
Spread the filling over it leaving a 1 " gap from the edges and roll it away from you, starting from the longer side parallel to the edge of the counter top. Seal the edges with water, put the seam -side down and cut into 15 slices.
Place the pinwheels cut-side down and insert skewers into them (parallel to the sheet). 
Bake for 15 mins. You can serve it hot/warm.

Verdict: That evening Jobin came back home hungry and asked me if there was something to eat. I 'offered' him these pinwheels and he just couldn't stop with one,instead he ate around 7 and skipped the dinner! The fillling is really delicious and since there was no cheese involved, it tasted more of a bread roll and less pizza, which is exactly what I wanted.

Living in the US has given me a new insight to cheese, to stay away from it atleast when I cook at home. Where ever you go out to eat, you will be eating some sort of deep-fried food or cheese/butter filled food until you want to live on salad's alone without any dressing. And I'm not a salad person until it's some chicken salad with pasta...I mean that's just an example.

So this one is without cheese, but if you want to add in some cheese, you can sprinkle it on once the pinwheels are cut and placed on the baking sheet and bake till the cheese melts and bubbles (I doubt any cheese that we get in India bubbles, though).

I have made other pizza's before -Cheese &Chilli Chicken Pizza & Tandoori Sausage,Roasted Bell Pepper & Corn Pizza. You can have a look there if you need more ideas for toppings.

With a sprained neck,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

BADUSHA...for the two of us :)


When I was young,that is when I was in school, I was a huge fan of Indian Sweets. Not the 'payasam' types but Kaju Burfi, Mysore Pak, Jalebi types. Luckily whenever I tried it at home, they were a big success. Oh, actually no! The first time I tried making Rasgulla, it was terrible...but later when I tried it , it came out spongy and juicy. One thing I learnt from that was, you need a real good recipe. What I know and have heard of is, there are millions of recipes floating around, but not all are good. Some are just OK but some are terrible that you might never even try thinking about it!

Somehow when I read through a recipe, I visualise it in my mind and give a quick check on the combination and proportion of ingredients just to make sure it's worth the time and effort in trying them.The other day we were at the Indian grocery store. I usually stop by the 'Sweets' section, drool looking at it and then walk away.I have this habit...I want to eat what I see  but I don't want to eat store made, instead I want to make it at home. So I showed the Badusha there and told Jobin how much I like it .'Even I like it', came the reply. So that's how I ended up making it at home and I'm so glad I did!

A lot of my readers ask me my 'secret' in getting consistent results everytime (Ahem!). My answer has always been ' I just attack a recipe & I don't think about the difficulty level. I just go with the flow and I somehow reach wherever I am supposed to reach'. So next time, don't think twice, just go for it and I am sure you will get it right! If you are making it for the first time, try to follow the recipe to the dot and then the next time on, you can add or substitute whatever you like/dislike. Atleast that way, if you have a failure you will know where you could have gone wrong because you got it right the first time.In baking, especially, you need to be careful about what you add and how much you add. Too little or too much can give you disasters. So if you are new to baking or you are baking your first cake, follow the recipe blindly.I really hope this helps! :)
I had bookmarked this particular recipe for a long time now and I think the perfect time to try it out was 2 days ago. It's been a year since we moved into our first home and I wanted to make something sweet because it was celebration time!! :)
Also, nominations are open for the Best Food Blog on Saveur.com, so if you think Ria's Collection's deserves it, please do nominate my blog under the 'Best Cooking Blog' catergory here. Thanks in advance!

Recipe source: Raks Anand
Makes 8 nos.

1 1/2 c All purpose flour/Maida
1/4 c unsalted butter
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp yogurt
2 pinches of baking soda
1/4 c (approx) water
Oil fr deep frying

For the syrup:
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water
5 strands of saffron (optional)
1 tsp lemon juice

Melt the butter in microwave. Add oil, sugar,yogurt,baking soda and whisk well.
Add the flour and mix well to make it crumbly.Add water to mix and form a dough.
Knead it till it becomes smooth, appox 2-3 mins or till the dough releases oil
Divide them into small balls and shape them (I got 8). You can shape them the way I did or just poke a finger into the centre of the balls of dough so that it has a depression in the centre.Cover it with a towel.

Heat oil, add a pinch of dough to it and if it floats to the top immediately, you are good to go.Do not let the oil heat up any more but if you did so, just add some cold oil to it and it should be good.
Add in 3-4 badushas at a time and take the pan off the heat,let the badhusha's cook in the pre-heated oil for 5 mins.By this time, badusha's will float.
After 5 mins, keep the pan back on the flame on medium -low heat and cook till golden brown. It took me around 8-10 mins.

In the meantime, prepare the syrup by boiling together all the ingredients. As soon as you get it to a one-thread consistency (110 C), remove from flame and let it cool.
Once the badhusha's are fried, drain on kitchen towels and drop them into the sugar syrup immediately. Leave it for 1 mins. Remove and let it come to room temperature.
Store in airtight tin for upto 1 week. Do not store in refrigerator.

Verdict: These were excellent!! The recipe is almost fool proof and you can make it in no time! Everything comes together like a charm.A must try! It tastes the best on the 2nd day onwards (in my observation).

We loved it!

Plus, this month's Kerala Kicthen will be hosted by 'yours truly'. So please send in your entries with a picture to airmathew AT gmail DOT com by the 30th of April. Thank you!

Monday, April 4, 2011


On Saturday, we Indians, the cricket crazy people waited with baited breath to see who would win the Finals of the Cricket World Cup. And we WON! Yeayy! So as usual my Facebook news feed was filled with Cricket updates and I thought of asking my friends how do they want to celebrate? 'Something sweet' was the most common answer , so we decided to cook/bake something sweet to celebrate the 'massive' victory.
Vanilla Cake

The minute I saw this cake on her blog, I knew I would try it that day itself and I did. I couldn't help but lick the batter just to see how it tasted with custard powder as an ingredient. It tasted like a box cake to me...I mean in a good way as I really like the Betty Crocker boxed vanilla cake. The city where we live, Minneapolis, is the 'home' of Betty Crocker. I don't know how many of you know that 'she' is just a fiction. There is no  real 'Betty Crocker' , sadly! How I wish there she was real and she lived even today...maybe I could have gone and met her :-)
Vanilla Cake

Also, it's exactly a year since we moved to Minneapolis, our first home. It's been an incredible year! Coming back to the cake, it's a very easy one-bowl cake as the name suggests. It has nice vanilla flavour and  is a very light cake with a good crumb. A perfect cake for tea time or any other time you feel like snacking on a piece of cake ;-)

Original recipe: Betty Crocker Cookbook
I found this recipe on Aparna's blog.

1/2 c unsalted butter,room temperature
1 1/4 c sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c custard powder
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C .Line and dust an 8" round cake tin.

Using a whisk cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
Add in the egg and whisk till incorporated and fluffy.
Add in the remaining ingredients one by one and whisk together for 2 mins.
Pour into the tin and bake for 55-60 mins or till done.
Cool in the tin for 10 mins, remove and cool completely.

* The design on the cake is natural , that's why I left it plain :)

Verdict: As I said before, this is an easy cake which is so full of vanilla flavour. Anytime you are pressed for time or otherwise, just use this recipe to get fabulous soft cake.

If you read through the recipe, you should have noticed that this recipe doesn't even call for an electric hand beater...it just needs a 'whisk'! Looks like I am in a 'Vanilla' mood...did you see the Vanilla Cupcakes with Glossy Frosting that I made a few days ago?

You can serve this cake plain , dusted with confectioner's sugar or even fruit sauces. I'm sure you will like it!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


BBQ Chicken Meatballs
Last Wednesday was a fantastic day for all the Cricket lover's from India. I didn't wake up early to watch the match but followed it closely after I woke up. All thanks to Namitha for sending me the link to watch it online. It was fun watching the match and it was great fun to see the live updates on Facebook about it. That's when it all began...
Baked Meatballs

A simple innocent question of mine 'Who was Vivek Oberoi with?' just to find out who he really was with then, in the stadium lead to a 'wild' discussion ranging from Bollywood to Cricket to The Royal Wedding (William & Kate) to Bollywood (about John Abraham & Arjun Rampal this time) to Dr.Ria ( ahem! ME!!) prescribing medicines . That simple question of mine currently has 427 comments (and it's still counting)! I didn't even realise that until someone along the way pointed it out to us. I don't think I have the energy to go back and see who it was because I'm sure I'll get lost in between all that discussions once again!
BBQ Chicken Meatballs

Later, in the cricket spirit, I thought of asking my fellow Indian Food Bloggers if they wanted to join me in cooking something to add to the spirit of cricket as we watch the World Cup Cricket 2011 Finals today (India Vs Sri Lanka). So now, 'we' are cooking together to munch on and will be posting one by one in our respective food blogs. No rules, nothing...it's just for the fun of it! So here am I...with my Barbecue Chicken Meatballs...perfect for a game day!

My own recipe

1 lb/500g ground chicken
1/4 medium onion, grated or ground to a smooth paste (It makes the meatballs moist,so go for it!)
1 pod garlic, grated ( You can sub it with 1 tbsp garlic powder)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp lime/lemon juice
Salt to taste

1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c Barbecue Sauce ( I used Famous Dave's)

Pre-heat oven to 450F and oil a cookie sheet, lightly.

In a large bowl,mix together the ground chicken,onion,garlic, cumin,lemon juice and salt.
Divide it into 18 balls (you can wet your hands to make it easier) and bake for 12 mins (Do not over bake it, it will become hard).
Melt butter in a pan on high,add the barbecue sauce and mix.
Add the meatballs to it and mix well for 2-3 mins until they are well coated.
Serve hot*!

*You can serve it with a dip but I chose not to.

Verdict: Very succulent meat balls!The cumin flavours the meatballs really well, you don't need any other spice/herb in it.  I always imagined how restaurants got it so soft and nice...the trick is to bake it only for a short time . You might get tempted to bake for some more time to get a nice crusty meat ball but that will just ruin them. It will turn out dry.

We love anything with BBQ flavour so this was a hit with us!I can't wait for it to be Summer so that we can grill to our heart's content. If you get a chance, do try this. It's a perfect party appetizer as it tastes and looks like your fingers have some sort of a magical touch  :)

Go India, go! Wishing you all the luck!
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