I am a traveller , recipe developer and an avid cook . I run my facebook cooking group called sikandalous Cuisine and also organise India's biggest Oriental food festival called Asian Hawkers Market .#asianhawkersmarket
Bigtime into nature and animals - and yes there is a fun side too waiting to be discovered !
Do follow me on instagram https://www.instagram.com/atul_sikand/
I finally got to cook Bekti thanks to group member and friend Partha who home delivers to us lucky ones in Delhi / NCR the freshest of seafood , cleaned and cut to specification. Along with my order he sent this fantastic very detailed recipe - here reproduced in his words.
Bhetki fillet 500 gms - cut into pieces ( rectangle shape 3” x 2” )
Banana leaves cut into rectangular pieces – 6 x 9” or similar
String to tie the banana leaves for Paturi .
Step 1 Wash the fish pieces properly and keep them separately in a plate. Add some lemon juice drops and sprinkle salt in it. Marinade keep aside for 15-20 minutes.
Step 2 - In a bowl add mustard paste, grated coconut, chili paste, Mustard Oil, salt and turmeric.
Step 3 - Add this paste to the fish pieces. Pls. carefully coat each piece and put it inside the fridge .. for 20 – 25 mnts.
Step 4 - pls. wash the banana leaves properly and dry it properly. Rub little mustard oil on both the sides of the leaves then lightly roast the banana leaves to make them soft and foldable.
Step 5 - Important step – keep the Bekti piece at the centre of the banana leaf and add some marinade on it on both sides. Also don’t forget to place a slit green chilli on top of it & just a 2-3 drops of mustard oil . Fold the banana leaf to wrap the bekti piece from all sides and tie with a piece of thread or even toothpick. Pls. make it a square parcel , make sure parcels will not open while cooking.
Step 6 - Heat a frying pan coated add little mustard oil, place the banana leaf in one layer and close the pan with an air tight lid and cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes each side.
When all the fish pieces are cooked, take it on a big dish. The Bekti fish and the thick gravy is take it out from the banana leaves and served with hot steam rice.
This was such a big hit at home - and though we make a lot of mustard fish in banana leaf - nothing ever came close to this .
** I used 40 grams yellow Mustard Seeds and 10 grams Black Mustard Seeds.
Enough of fancy pastas , my tastebuds demanded some familiar flavors with a kick and what better than Chinjabi food for such moments . Have fun with your recipe , go with the flow types and let your imagination take over . Here is what I did.
2 Serving Portions Noodles - Boil as per packet instructions.
1.5 Cups Assorted Chopped Vegetables - I used Cherry tomatoes , shallots , carrots , beans ,baby baingans, mushrooms and bell peppers etc.
2 Teaspoons Mustard Seeds.
1/2 Cup Tomato Puree or more if you like.
1 Teaspoon Ginger Paste.
1 Teaspoon Garlic Paste.
1 Heaped Teaspoon Sambar Powder.
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder.
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice.
Whole Dried Red Chilies.
10-12 Thinly Sliced Garlic Flakes.
1. Heat mustard oil , brown garlic flakes , remove from oil . Now fry some curry leaves and remove from oil . Your oil is beautifully flavored.
2. Reheat oil , splutter mustard seeds, add whole chilies , red chili powder , hing, curry leaves.After 30 seconds add shallots , toss around , and add tomato puree , ginger and garlic paste, sambar powder and salt . Cook a minute.
3. Add in all the vegetables and lemon juice, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes till done but firm.
4. Toss in noodles , mix well ,cook covered for 2-3 minutes for flavors to be picked up by noodles.
5. Adjust flavors , add in fried garlic flakes and crushed curry leaves , pull out a thaali and sit down to some masaladar noodle fry !
This recipe is inspired by Tyler Florence . My home touches ** are the additional egg yolk served in its shell - something I experienced in Tuscany where I ate one of the best carbonaras ever .The idea of the additional egg yolk is to have the option of whisking it into you steaming hot pasta for additional richness if desired.I also added Pecorino Cheese which is sharper than parmesan and adds a beautiful flavor .
1 Pound Spaghetti. 2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive )il. 4 Ounces Pancetta or Bacon- cubed or sliced into small strips. 4 Garlic Cloves- Finely chopped. 2 Large Eggs +1 Egg** yolk served in a shell. 50g Pecorino Cheese** .2/3d Cup Freshly Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano- Plus more for serving. Freshly Ground Black Pepper. 1 Handful Flat-Leaf Parsley Chopped.
Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian "al dente.") Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.
Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and cheeses together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Add the egg in the shell on top and pass more cheese around the table.
Sunday, October 9, 2011 Ngala Safari Lodge , Mpumalanga .
This morning we drove from Mashishing to Ngala Safari Lodge , yet another superb private game reserve from & Beyond . A large water hole faces all the common areas ( dining / reception ) and elephants amongst other animals come here to drink water . We are escorted to and from our cottages after dark as animals have been known to stray into the lodge . At all times all cottages are well locked – baboons seem to enjoy the cottages and the contents therein !
Our first safari was this afternoon and was it an experience . We drove past the now mundane sights of giraffe, zebra, kudu, nyala and elephants etc. in search of a leopard and her 2 cubs who had been sighted earlier in the day .
Crashing our way through the bush , scratched and bumped around we had written off our ranger Derrick who comes across as he’d rather be doing a million other things than driving us around and showing us stuff .He is a big burly Shangan local very much the strong and silent guy – a cultural trait we think. This is in strong contrast to our previous ranger Giles at the Mountain Lodge was fantastic .
A couple of minutes of being buffeted around we come across a half eaten bush buck carcass hanging from a fork in a tree with a mass of flies swarming around it. A little ahead we spotted a leopard sleeping in the sun . We tested her by inching closer in our jeep , she was alert but not alarmed . By now we had spotted one of her two cubs .
Greed got the better of us and we edged almostby her side , and thank God we did . At first she appeared to sleep , no sign of the cubs . Then one peeped out between 2 branches , figured out that we were harmless and made a dive for milk ! It suckled away as it’s mom slept and after a bit slept by her tail .
Realizing that moms tail could be fun the cub started to pull it ! For the next 20 minutes we watched the leopard and her cub play . The cub tugging at moms tail , jumping all over her , she rolling on her back , cuddling him – it was such a happy heart warming sight . Reminded me of how are dogs are with their pups . It was amazing . This cub must have been 2 months old and was adorable !
Suddenly cub moved away from mom and got all inquisitive about the hanging half eaten buck and climbed that tree . The lioness too got onto the tree , a sight from an animated movie ! Simply fascinating . She then got cracking on the carcass , and scooped out an eyeball and then slurped out some brain and even as we watched chomped down on the skull, bones crackling loudly . This amazing sight we witnessed not more than 20 feet away .
We also learnt from our ranger that this must be a young mom as an experienced mother wouldn’t expose her cubs to danger by being so close to the kill – the smell of which would attract hyenas .
I also learnt that guinea fowl sleep on trees !
Monday, October 10, 2011
This mornings safari was quite dull – or maybe we have seen it all so as to speak . I’s disappointing that the spotting’s have been so few and the bush seems not populated at all ( other than impalas ) . This seems odd considering we border Kruger National Park and there are no fences between Kruger and Ngala .
Impalas apart we saw the odd kudu . A lone female giraffe which is odd to spot . Derrick pointed out that she was probably looking for an isolated spot to deliver her baby – which is the only time one sees female giraffes alone !
The highlight was another magnificient male leopard . We tracked him closely alongside a river bankfor 30 minutes or so . There was a tense few moments when a herd of impalas who were near by gave an alarm call . That turned out to be a non event as the leopard was well fed and was looking for a nap !
We also saw a few zebras . Derrick informed us that the stallion always hangs out behind the herd – to cover the females urine smells with earth or his own droppings to prevent other studs from getting to her .
Chin tells me that they also are forever trying to ‘ abduct ‘ females from other ‘harems’ – that being natures way of preventing inbreeding ,
After breakfast I went for an hour long ‘ nature ‘walk with a bunch of geriatrics . We crawled at5 km an hour . Waste of time .
The evening run was initially a very dull as we drove endlessly trying to find buffalo . After an hour Derrick gave up and led us to a hyena den . Turned out that there were two litters , but only one mom around . The cubs were very cute and their markings were similar to those of baby leopards . The mom was very pretty ..and played with her pups just like dogs do . This was a very exciting sighting and we were mesmerized watching the cubs inquisitively bounce all around us and roll over the mother .
Interestingly hyenas live in abandoned termite mounds .
Before that we had spotted mini mongoose – no bigger than common rats . Not to get fooled by their size , apparently these mongoose were capable and did kill large snakes by going in for a collective attack on the reptile . They looked like ugly critters!
Dulini Lodge( post noon )Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Tired , I decided to jam the morning safari . I did expect Murphy’s Law to to swing into action . Am told that the morning’s run had all the missing links – herds of buffalos on a stampede , elephants going on a rampage , rhinos , or was it hippos doing a never seen before number … regardless was happy for the sleep in as we had to drive again , this time to new park - Dulini , yet another masterpiece from And Beyond .
Before setting out to Dulini we atebreakfast and halfway through 8-10 of the serving / kitchen staff came out singing ‘ happy , happy to you ….’ Carrying a ‘ cake ‘ – 3 pancakes surrounded with large strawberries , all beautifully arranged and a sparkler doubling up as a candle ! They then stood around our table singing to Chin who by now resembled a deep red beetroot . They knew his birthday was 2 days away , however as we were leaving today they brought it in 2 daysin advance ! It was very heart warming an happy a moment .
The drive was supposed to be 2 hours . Navigator ( Chin ) got it wrong , but that we cant say aloud ! It took us almost 4 hours to get here . I was in a rush because if we checked in late we would have missed the afternoon safari – so I ran into a cop looking for a bribe . I was speeding and he asked me to head back with him to the cop station to pay my fine . I pleaded that I was a tourist from India , and showed him my wallet – I was carrying only Rand 200 ( Rs 1200 ) on me . He took the 200 , and gave us directions to the camp ! I wasn’t too happy about the bribe . I also had the only other option- to miss the afternoon safari , so I guess unfortunately I took that option .
Dulini is another beautiful property , a small one , perhaps 8-10 rooms or cottages in all . We have a beautiful cottage it’s a large flowing room demarked with curtains and furniture – simply beautiful . What’s great is our deck . It’s large and overlooks a green area and has a small pool with running water . Very pretty .The loo is all glass on 2 sides and looks onto the deck area .
The best part of the day has been Craig . We had met Craig and Giles in Kanah a year and a half ago . Never remained in touch . However when we were coming here Chin tracked them down and they both very sweetly got themselves allocated to us . Giles in Phinda and Craig here in Dulini .
Craig is very easy to be with and it felt like being with an old friend . He was very considerate and went that extra mile for us during the afternoon safari . I am so glad we caught up , and this time will keep up as we really like them .
We spotted lepord and were with her for almost 30 minutes . She was very comfortable with us 10 feet away . Along the drive we saw elephants from close . By now the sun was setting and we drove through some beautiful parts of the park , stopping near a water body where a bar was set up I the middle of no where – and for snacks there were samosas !
It’s a beautiful full moon night , the silhouetted bare trees looked dramatic against the full moon . We made our way back to camp FOR A BIT drove through a flowing river .
In our room they have setup a dinner table , candles and all ! The printed menu tells me we are going to eat lamb shank and chicken stuffed with celery and some other stuff .
Dinner was delicious ! The lamb tender and the chicken superb!
Freshening and delicious - this recipe works particularly well if you have the Thai Smoked Sesame Oil. I have attached a photograph of the oil bottle -easily and affordably available all over and online too.
4 Thin Skinned Cucumbers.
1 Teaspoon Salt + More.
2 Teaspoons Sugar + More.
1.5 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar.
2 Teaspoons Sesame Oil.
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce.
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Paste- adjust.
Red Pepper Flakes.
Cilantro For Garnish - I used parsley.
1 Teaspoon Roasted Sesame Seeds.
1. Slice Cucumbers - Slice lengthwise and cut into bite size pieces.Each piece must come with the skin as you see in the picture. The Chinese lightly smash the cucumbers to get rid of the seeds , I used ' English Cucumbers ' , they are small and have soft seeds which I didnt remove.
2. Place the cucumber pieces in a strainer and toss with a big pinch of salt and a big pinch of sugar. Let drain 15 to 30 minutes on the counter, or in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.
3.Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine chili flakes , garlic , salt, sugar and rice vinegar. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in sesame oil and soy sauce.
4.When ready to serve, shake cucumbers well to drain off any remaining liquid and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with grapeseed or olive oil and toss. Add half the dressing and toss. Keep adding dressing until cucumbers are well coated but not drowned. Taste and add more pepper flakes and garlic if needed. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds. I used parsley as I had plenty available.
Muhammara - Red pepper and walnut dip with a kiss of pomegranate !
This dip bursts with flavors , is eaten across the Middle East and finds itself a part of the Israeli Breakfast too. Here I have paired it with Batata Haara , spicy fried potatoes from Lebanon . I choose to roast the potatoes.
4 Large Red Peppers. 50 Grams Fresh Breadcrumbs. ½ Tablespoon Lemon Juice. 1 Tablespoon Pomegranate Molasses. 1½ Teaspoon Ground Cumin. 1 Tablespoon Chili Flakes. 1 Clove Garlic - Crushed , I used 4 50 Grams Walnuts,- Finely crushed. 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil + more to finish dish. Salt
This classic Levantine dip can be made in a food processor, but it will lose some of its lovely texture; I'd use a pestle and mortar, if you can. Muhammara keeps well and even improves after a day in the fridge; just don't serve it fridge-cold. Serves four as a dip.
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Put the peppers on a tray and roast for 30-35 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are cooked and the skin is blackened. Put the peppers in a bowl, cover with cling-film and, once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and seeds.
Pat the peppers dry, and place in a mortar. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice, molasses, cumin, chilli and garlic. Work this with a pestle until well combined, but not so much that the peppers no longer have a noticeable texture.
Stir through the walnuts, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and the olive oil. Add more pomegranate molasses and salt to taste – you want the flavours to be pretty intense. Spoon the dip into a shallow bowl, using the back of a spoon to give it a wavy texture, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve at room temperature.
1. With a dot of ghee dry roast rava in a wok , slowly and for long ,till aromatic and a light brown. Slow roast is the trick to pull out its delicious flavors.Remove from heat.
2. In a wok add ghee , splutter mustard seeds , add curry leaves and hing. 20 seconds later tip in red chili powder to develop a color base and then onions , ginger and green chilies , till onions turn limp with a hint of a color.
3. Now add tomato puree and sambar powder and cook 3-4 minutes , then the vegetables , saute 2 minutes and pour in salted boiling water and lemon juice .
4. Slowly stir in roasted rava and cook till rava absorbs all the liquid. Adjust flavors and garnish.
An easy recipe , no fuss and loads of deliciousness. You can avoid the vodka or substitute it with a shot of cognac or go the conventional way with a splash of white wine.
10 Medium Sized Prawns.
10-12 Flakes of Garlic from 2 Fat Cloves.
Crushed Black Pepper To Taste.
1 Fresh Red Chili - Remove seeds and slice into slivers- Optional
45 Ml Vodka.
1/3 Cup Chopped Parsley - Basil would work great as would a pinch of dried herbs.
1 teaspoons Olive Oil.
1 Teaspoon Butter.
50 Ml Cream.
100 - 120 Ml Paste Water.
Parmesan Shavings - Optional.
1. Boil Noodles/Pasta as per packet instructions , cook al dente ( cooked but firm ) .Reserve 100-120 ml or so of the water it was boiled in.
2. Heat olive oil and butter together over moderate heat. Add garlic flakes and allow them to gently brown, infusing their flavors into the oil.
2. Remove some garlic flakes to use later , add black pepper , chilies and 30 seconds later tip in the prawns.
3. Saute prawns for a minute after sprinkling on salt , add in some chopped parsley and cook another minute.
4. Increase heat , add the alcohol , stir in pasta water , bring to simmer then blend in the cream and balance parsley.
5. Gently reduce sauce to desired consistency taking care not to and adjust flavors .
6. You can add your pasta into the sauce , and allow it to coat well or top your pasta with the prawn sauce when plating . At this stage add parmesan if using and crush burnt garlic flakes and sprinkle onto the dish.
Pumpkin is known as ' Farsi ' in the Nepalese language . This recipe is a beautiful blend of slow cooked mutton with tender green pumpkin .Adapt the level of spice to suit you taste .Like all tasty stuff , this dish too tastes great when you turn a blind eye to the amount of
oil used .
0 Grams Mutton.
0 Grams Tender Green Pumpkin
in 1/2 " cubes
Tablespoon Ginger Paste.
Tablespoon Garlic Paste.
pinch of Methi Seeds.
1 Teaspoon Ajwain.
2 Black Cardamom Bruised.
1-2 Tej Putta.
2 Teaspoons Coriander Powder.
1 Teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chili Powder.
1/2 Teaspoon Haldi
3 -4 Green Chilies ( Left whole with a slit )
2-3 Sprigs Green Coriander ( Left whole not chopped ).
150 -200 Grams Mustard Oil
Mix the haldi , salt , red chilli ,garlic and ginger , rub 3/4ths of the mixture on the mutton , set aside
oil ( 200 Ml ) splutter the methi and ajwain seeds
, cardamon , cinnamon and tej puttta
then add onion , cook till
. At this stage
add the mutton . Se
over high heat till mutton changes color
over low heat in it's own juices . Cook till mutton is 3/4ths done .
3. in 1/2 cup water mix b
alance Ginger Garlic
make paste and set aside.
dd the pumpkin along with the balance masala paste. Cook
ill oil begins to separate then add 1/2 cup water
add the green chilies and sprigs of dhania
give one whistle in the pressure cooker .Allow pressure to drop on its own.
You can make this with a semi gravy , or luga lipta as I have made here - this is delicious .
A simple no fuss recipe which turned out just perfect .
400-500 Grams Katla/Rohu Pieces.
1-2 Sprig Curry Putta.
6-7 Thin Lemon Slices .
A few Whole Green Chilies With Slits.
2-3 Tablespoons White Oil or Coconut Oil.
For The Masala :
Make a coarse paste of the ingredients mentioned below :
1/2 Cup Dhania Greens.
6-8 Green Chilies.
6-8 Cloves Garlic.
1 Teaspoon Yellow Mustard Seeds.
1 Teaspoon Black Mustard Seeds.
1. Make paste - Set aside 30 minute for flavors to develop ,then taste it and figure out what you need to adjust. This paste will flavor your fish.
2. Apply paste thickly on fish , set aside for 20 minutes or so.
3. Heat oil , sprinkle curry leaves on the hot pan, let them flavor the oil , then add lemon slices and whole green chilies. After 30 seconds or so place the fish on the pan randomly , covering some leaves , lemon slices and chilies.
4. Fry fish 2-3 minutes undisturbed on medium heat.Then gently turn over the fish , fry another 2 minutes.
Baking Time: 40 minutes. Set 180C A big thank you to Manjula Natrajan for posting this delicious cake and inspiring me to make it too. This recipe is from Thebrownieboxblog and is different from what was shared - you can make this with water and avoid milk.
The texture tells you how perfect this was .
Ingredients: 1 cup boiling water. 1 Cup Milk. 2 Tablespoons aniseed. 2 cups fine semolina flour. 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted 2 tablespoons turmeric powder 1 tablespoon finely ground aniseed (you can use a spice grinder) 3 teaspoons baking powder 1 3/4 cups sugar - Powder it after measuring it. 1 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil) 2 tablespoons Tahineh (sesame paste)
Blanched Almonds, halved (for decoration – you can substitute with pine nuts or 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds)
Directions: 1. Boil water then add the aniseed and let steep for 10 minutes. 2. Strain tea and put aside to cool a little bit. 3. Preheat oven to 180ºC (355ºF) 4. In a large bowl, mix the fine semolina, flour, turmeric powder, ground aniseed, powdered sugar and baking powder until homogeneous. 5. Add oil , 1 tablespoon Tahini paste , milk and tea/sugar mixture to the dry ingredients, then mix well. The batter will be slightly thick. 6. Cover the bottom and sides of a 28 cm (11 inch) round pan (or a rectangular pan) with 1 tablespoon Tahineh. 7. Decorate with blanched almonds (or substitutes – above) 8. Bake for 40 min, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 9. Let cool in the pan for 30 min then invert on a wire rack. 10. Cut into square or diamond shapes, and store in an airtight container.
A big thank you Imran for introducing me to these delicious Ragi Flakes via your post - I went online and bought a few packets of Ragi , Jowar and Bajra flakes- a great alternative to eating rice poha which I love .
I can honestly say these ragi flakes made an even more delicious Poha and oil free chidwa . Here is what I did.
In a hot pan , without adding oil , dry roast some crushed peanuts and torn curry putta leaves till aromatic - say one minute. Now add ragi flakes , roast another minute without adding oil . Take off heat adding salt , sugar and chilies to taste. Cool and eat .
This was delicious and crunchy - you wont buy / make the fried chidwa again !
1. In a strainer wash ragi flakes for 20-30 seconds , set to drain - don't soak in water.
2. Heat oil , splutter rai , add onions , curry leaves , ginger and chilies . When onions get soft add steamed vegetables , salt. Saute 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice to taste at this stage.
3. Tip in ragi flakes , mix well - they will cook in 1-2 minutes , don't overcook them . They will be nice and light and fluffy . Taste , adjust seasoning , sprinkle dhania greens and mix once and dig in.