23 November 2014

Some News!! ...and How To Make Real Vanilla Extract

The weather is cooling down in sun-shiny Hyderabad. One can now feel the chill in the air as the lazy season sway in. It's beautiful to look out from my balcony in the morning to see a tinge of fog hovering over the horizon. Winter is here! warm conversations, lovely food, and rich cakes, and of course, the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Savior! All these are what i'm looking forward to - what about you?

So, looking ahead to all the baking that is planned, today's post is on how to make pure vanilla extract. I know this post is long overdue, however, i hope it comes in handy as you get about your baking through this festive season. I've been making my own vanilla extract ever since i came across this post, two years back. It's very simple to make, and once you get the first batch going, you'll never run out of vanilla extract ever again. All you have to do is to keep topping it with your choice of liquor. You can then kiss the store bought synthetic ones, goodbye...

Anyway, in another news, PanCuisine's chutney recipe was featured in the recently published cook book titled "The Seven Sisters: Kitchen Tales from the North East." As the title suggest, this cook book is a compilation of all the favorite authentic recipes from the Seven Sister States of the North East. I'm grateful for the mention, and excited to try out all the other recipes mentioned in the book. 

If you love Northeastern cuisine and want to experiment with the favorite local dishes of the Seven States, this book is a good start. Now, here is today's recipe:

250 ml - Brandy/Vodka
3 nos - Vanilla Beans
Sterilized bottle

Slit the vanilla pods in half and put it inside a sterilized bottle, pour in the brandy and seal. Keep in the corner of a dry, dark place for two months minimum. Shake the bottle once in a while. Once the liquid turn deep in color, your vanilla extract is ready. Happy Baking!!!

30 August 2014

Cabbage Curry using rendered Pork Fat - Rongmei Naga Curryl!!

Today's recipe is a favorite curry of mine. Cabbage prepared the Rongmei way. Cabbage is such a versatile vegetable and super healthy too! I love it boiled, steamed, as a fresh salad, and the list goes on.  It is no surprise that even my son loves cabbage curry.

In the traditional Rongmei style of cooking this lovely vegetable, we would use 2-3 tablespoons of Ganampui, which is rendered pork fat, fermented near the family hearth. This would be usually added as the Magic ingredient that binds the whole dish together. The intense taste of this melted fat may not be everyone's cup of tea, but once your taste buds are baptized and converted to its unique flavor, there is no looking back.

City life, however, does not allow me the luxury of preserving Ganampui, so the next best option is to simply render fresh pork fat and add a tablespoon or two of flavored pork lard. For me, any excuse to add pork in my dish, is always, a very good excuse!

To those of you who have been experimenting with Naga cuisine, i encourage you to try this non-veggie vegetable dish. And the rest of you guys, staying far away from home, missing home and the hearth, cook this up and feel a little closer to home. Thank you all for stopping by -- Have a great food filled weekend!!

Pork Fat - 250 g
Flavored Lard - 1 Tbsp
Cabbage - 1/2 portion, diced
Onion - 1
Tomatoes - 3-4
Potatoes - 2-3 depending on size, diced
Salt -  As per taste
Red Chilli Powder - 2 Tsp
Garlic - 5-6 cloves
Water - 5-6 Cups

Cut the pork fat into small pieces and keep aside.
Heat a cooking pot, make it super hot, then sear and melt the fat, keep the fat pieces aside.
Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil into the cooking pot and fry the onions, light saute, make sure not to caramelize it, else your entire dish will taste very onion-ie (is this even a word ?;)).
Then, add the cabbage and tomatoes, saute for 2-3 minutes, return the fat pieces to the pot, add salt and chilli powder and mix.
Now, add the potatoes and water, cook covered till the water comes to a rolling boil. Then, smash the garlic pods with the back of your knife and dump it into the curry. Cover and cook till potatoes are cooked.
Once the potatoes are soft, mash some of the pieces to thicken the gravy.
Sprinkle some chopped coriander and this curry is ready to be served with warm rice and a nice chutney. Enjoy!!