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Category Archives: savoury bakes

Garlic Rolls in a Convection Oven

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garlicbreadrolls.jpg

I posted this picture on instagram, and got so many comments about not being able to trust a convection oven to make bread/ cake and cookies.

 First things first, there are a lot of misconceptions about using a convection oven in India. Most low end models of convection ovens usually come in combination with a microwave and hence a lot of people feel they own a microwave oven and cannot bake in it. Higher end convection ovens are mostly stand alone ones. Check your oven user manual to find out how your’s works. These are observations I have made based on interactions with students and participants from my baking classes and I am hoping to debunk a few myths.

  • A convection oven is an oven which heats up using electric coil or a heating element, similar to an OTG. The difference is that in addition, convection ovens have a fan built in, which distributes the heat evenly. This means that heating is far more efficient in a convection oven when compared to an OTG. However in India, there is a feeling among users, that only OTGs (oven toaster griller) have the ability to bake cakes and cookies or bake them better than convection ovens. This is not true.
  • To use a convection oven, firstly read the manual thoroughly. Each oven functions differently and hearsay about what a friend / neighbour uses is mostly not helpful. If anything it only serves to confuse, unless validated with data.
  • To use your oven, you need to identify three functions and their controls in your oven. Thermostat – to set the temperature, Timer – to choose the time for baking, Preheat function – to preheat your oven, sometimes this is the power button or the start button if your oven does not have a separate preheat button.
  • Check if the thermostat is functioning efficiently. To do this, you can use an oven thermometer and place it inside the oven, after preheating, check if the thermometer is showing the same temperature as the thermostat indicates. If it shows a variation more than 5-10 degrees, get a technician to calibrate the oven and check again. Do not resort to guess work as it can lead to disastrous baking results. Get your oven fixed rather than trying to work around a heating problem.
  • Also, since most combination convection microwave ovens come with a turntable, it is important to place the wire tripod (usually provided with the oven) on the turntable and place the baking pan ON TOP of the wire rack. The heat needs to get to the baking pan from all sides. When the baking pan is placed on top of the turntable without any height, the bottom cooks poorly.
  • Once the oven is placed in the convection mode, oven proof utensils can be used. These include metal, aluminum, silicone, bake proof glass and paper.
  • One issue which most people complain about is that a convection oven does not result in a crust/ browning the way an OTG does. This is true, only because of the distribution of heat via the fan. To get a deeper coloured result, turn on the overhead grill in your convection oven for the last 1 minute of baking. Anything more and it will dry out your cake.
  • Unless the oven is overheating or underheating, do not change the baking temperature for any recipe. Follow the temperature and baking time as specified by the recipe instructions.
  • The key to getting the best results from your oven, no matter what kind it is, is PRACTICE. The more you bake, the more comfortable you get with your oven and its functions. All ovens are different and they do give varying results. But to solely blame the oven for a baking disaster is not correct. Many times, when probed, my students who complain about not getting proper results with a convection oven will confess that they messed up the recipe and then blamed the oven.
  • Baking is a science, mostly chemistry. It is the combination of the right proportion of Wet + Dry ingredients, combined with a rising agent and exposed to a certain amount of heat. An error in any of these elements will result in a bad product. I will do a baking 101 soon.

Garlic bread rolls recipe (Makes 12 rolls)

3 cups flour ( I used 1.5 cups wheat flour + 1.5 cups all purpose flour)

1 teaspoon active dried yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup warm milk (temperature of the milk should be about 95-97 degrees F – when you place your finger in the liquid, it should feel a few degrees warmer than your body temperature. Any hotter and you will kill the yeast)

1.5 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons soft butter

3-4 pods of fresh garlic, grated or use 1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon herbs of choice (optional, use dried or fresh)

room temperature water as needed (about 2/3 cup)

1/4-1/2 cup dry flour for kneading

Method: warm the milk and add the sugar and yeast to it. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes. The yeast should froth up and form a foam like cappuccino. If this does not happen, wait a few more minutes. If there is no frothing, it is safe to assume that the yeast is either inactive or that the water is too hot. Discard the mixture and start again. If it does not work the second time as well, get a fresh batch of yeast.

Measure the flour in a large bowl, add the salt and garlic to the bowl and mix with your fingers. Add the herbs also if using.

Once the yeast has frothed up, add the milk to the flour and combine to make a dough. Add extra water, at room temperature, to make a dough that feels a little soft and sticky. The dough should be much softer and wetter than roti dough. Do not be tempted to add dry flour to this mixture.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

On a clean and dry surface, sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of dry flour, dump the dough onto the surface and knead with your hands for 10 minutes. At first the dough will be very sticky and difficult to manage. But resist the temptation to add more dry flour. Add the butter and oil a little at a time to create a smooth and elastic dough. Use only half the dry flour and only IF needed. When you touch the dough, it should feel rubbery to the touch once kneaded. Roughly 10 minutes of kneading should be sufficient.

to check if the dough is ready, take a small marble sized piece and roll it into a ball. Gently spread it between your fingers to see if it spreads without tearing. If it tears too easily, the dough needs to be kneaded some more.

Spread a little oil on a clean bowl, shape the dough into a round and place it in the oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm or a damp cloth. Leave it to rise in a warm spot which doesnt get direct breeze for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the weather and how warm your kitchen is.

The dough should become double in size. If you are unsure, just place the dough in a plastic see through container. On the outside, take a ruler and mark the inches. When you place the dough, if it is at 4 inches, it should come up to 8 inches when it is ready. When you place the dough in the container if it was at 3 inches, it should come up to 6inches. Etc.

Once the dough has risen, gently turn it onto a kneading surface. Press out the air gently and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape them into balls, ensuring to press and seal the loose ends at the bottom. Repeat with all the dough balls.

Prepare a 9 inch round or square baking pan by brushing it with melted butter or oil. Place an aluminum foil at the bottom of the baking pan and brush this too with oil/ melted butter. This is optional, but makes for an easy clean up and prevents the rolls from sticking to the pan.

Place the shaped rolls 1 inch apart in the baking pan. Cover with a damp cloth or clingfilm and leave in a warm spot for 30 minutes to rise to double. The space between the rolls should be filled with the plumped up dough. The tops can be brushed with a beaten egg, I skipped this step. This egg wash gives a deep browning to the top.

Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees Celsius. Place the metal baking rack in the middle of the oven. Place the baking pan with the rolls on this. Close the oven door and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Check the doneness at 25 minutes, by gently opening the oven door & checking the rolls. They should have a uniform golden brown top. If they are still pale, continue to bake for 3-4 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Brush the hot rolls with melted butter. Remove the rolls gently from the pan by turning the pan upside down onto a rack or a plate, cover with a dry clean kitchen cloth and cool another 5 minutes.

Enjoy the rolls warm with butter or a gravy curry/ stew or soup.

Home made bread will dry out if left exposed. Cover with a clean dry cloth until needed. Do not put the hot rolls in a closed container, they will steam and get soggy.

To store leftovers, either wrap with clingfilm and store, or place it on paper towels and then put it in an airtight container. Always refrigerate bread if not using within 24 hours.

I would love to answer any questions you may have for this recipe. If you have read this far, then thank you for your patience. If you try this out, please send me a picture of your bread rolls.

Happy baking!

Gouda and Pizza Sauce Muffins Recipe

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Gouda Cheese and Pizza Sauce Muffin

Gouda Cheese and Pizza Sauce Muffin

Amma is currently with me and as is the usual practice, I try and make something interesting when she is around. Unlike K, she is game to try anything at least once, and is deeply appreciative of my culinary escapades 🙂

A conversation almost always gets triggered from a food memory. This time, while asking about the ingredients I used, and knowing that finely grated cheese was used, she told me about how there was food rationing in the 50’s and some of the schools and organisations affiliated to America received supplies of  cheese powder and egg powder which they had no idea how to use. So they would mix the two and make scrambled eggs 🙂

I told her how I love savoury muffins and that it is a pity most people associated baking with cake and cake is sweet and hence all baked goods are expected to be sweet. In my baking classes, I used to teach a savoury pizza muffin, but due to it having not too many enthusiasts, I changed that over to a sweet variant.

For this muffin, I eyeballed all the ingredients and it turned out wonderfully fluffy and full of flavour.

I ran out of whole wheat flour, and have used half of all purpose flour and half whole wheat, feel free to use whole wheat flour for the whole amount, but expect the crumb to be a little grainy.

The pizza sauce I used is the one I posted in the Fusilli with pine nuts recipe. This is an all purpose pizza / pasta sauce that is very handy to have in the fridge.

Gouda Cheese and Pizza Sauce Muffin

Gouda Cheese and Pizza Sauce Muffin

Gouda Cheese and Pizza Sauce Muffins (Makes 6 large muffins)

1/2 cup All purpose flour (Maida)

1/2 cup Whole wheat flour (Atta)

1/2 cup Grated gouda cheese + 2 teaspoons for garnish

(Use any cheese such as parmesan or even processed cheddar, mozarella makes the muffin stringy, hence not recommended)

1 Egg (to make this eggless, use 1/4 cup milk + 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, let it sit for 5 minutes and use when the recipe calls for egg)

1/2 cup Milk (I used full fat)

1/4 cup Pizza/ Pasta sauce (check for the recipe here or use store bought)

8-10 fresh basil leaves, shredded (substitute with any fresh herbs of choice – mint, coriander, garlic chives or even spring onions)

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Salt to taste (add half of what you think you need because the sauce and cheese are salty)

Preheat the oven to 185 C and brush the bottom of a muffin pan with oil. For an even brown crumb, do not use muffin liners.

In a bowl, add the all purpose flour, wheat flour, grated cheese, salt, baking powder, baking soda, chopped onion and basil leaves and toss well.

In another bowl, add the egg and milk and whisk with a fork. Add the pizza sauce and mix it well. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and with a light hand, mix till the batter is just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups equally, garnish with the reserved grated cheese. Bake for 16-17 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness.

Cool in the pan for 3-4 minutes before running a blunt knife around the edges of the muffin pan and removing them to a cooling rack / serving plate.

These muffins are best eaten warm. Can be stored refrigerated for upto 4 days.

PS: To make this an eggless muffin; use 1/4 cup milk + 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, let it sit for 5 minutes and use when the recipe calls for egg

 

 

Baked and Grilled Vegetables with Taco Seasoning Recipe (Step by Step Pictures)

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Baked and Grilled Vegetables with Taco Seasoning

Baked and Grilled Vegetables with Taco Seasoning

I made this for lunch yesterday. My friend A was to come over and she always enjoys what I make. Unfortunately there was a mishap and her darling pooch Happy was injured and had to be rushed to the hospital and she couldn’t come. Happy has had a fracture and will undergo surgery on the weekend, send him your love and good energies. A, this is for you.

This is a simple recipe to bake and grill vegetables. I use the En Papilote method which means ‘in parchment’ ~ the food is put into a pocket made of parchment, aluminium foil or any other oven proof material and baked. While a lot of recipes for baked vegetables will do it open spread out on a baking dish, I find that the flavor of the seasoning is deeper and the vegetables cook more evenly this way. After cooking the vegetables covered in foil for a while, I remove the foil and grill them for a bit to char the edges. The result is deep flavors of seasoning, sweetness of the vegetables and crispy ends! Totally yummy!

My friends J & B love vegetables made this way. I never posted the recipe here because there is no way one can make grilled and baked vegetables look good! It’s such a good way of eating vegetables that I decided even if there were no good pictures, I had to post the recipe here.

I used whatever vegetables I had on hand. This is a very forgiving way of baking and grilling and almost any kind of vegetable tastes good.

Baked and Grilled Vegetables with Taco Seasoning Recipe (Serves 3-4)

4 Cups of Vegetables cut into medium wedges ( use assorted colored peppers, potato – sweet and regular),  onion, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, green beans, zucchini etc)

salt to taste

3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Taco Seasoning (or a seasoning of your choice)

1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder (or Sweet Paprika)

1 teaspoon Dried Oregano

6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled

Method

Wash and pat dry the vegetables. Cut them into medium wedges.

Vegetables with Taco Seasoning

Vegetables with Taco Seasoning

Mix the vegetables with the rest of the ingredients except the salt in a large bowl, check the seasoning and add salt to taste.  Let it stand for 10 minutes while you pre heat your oven to 200 C

Place a large piece of aluminium foil in your baking tray, enough to be fastened into a pouch once the vegetables are arranged.

Seal the edges of the foil to make a pouch

Seal the edges of the foil to make a pouch

Layer the vegetables onto the foil covered baking tray and close the ends to form a pouch.

Bake at 200C for 20 minutes. Wear Oven gloves and take the baking tray out of the oven, carefully with a knife open out the closed pouch.

Baked and out of the oven

Baked and out of the oven

Wear oven gloves and be very careful as the steam is very hot and you can scald yourself. 

Turn on the grill of your oven, turn the foil downwards from the baking tray, place the vegetables back into the oven and grill for 5 minutes till the edges of the vegetables are beginning to char.

Grilled after baking

Grilled after baking

Remove, rest the vegetables for 5 minutes before serving.

Baking ~ Savoury ~ Corn Bread

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Corn Bread with Potato Basil Soup and Egg Salad

Corn Bread with Potato Basil Soup and Egg Salad

So after a few years and many bags of unopened (and subsequently trashed) cornmeal, I am finally posting the corn bread I made for our dinner last evening. I tried my hand at it a few times, experimenting with a few recipes. I even made cornmeal muffins which was very similar to the corn bread. I found a real simple recipe that worked well for me. I used mint and green chillies to add some flavour. This is a versatile recipe and any herbs of choice can be used. I will be making this again with a splash of vegetables like chopped onion, green onions, red & yellow peppers, corn kernels etc. I also think adding some red chilli flakes, chopped black or green olives or even different herbs like oregano, rosemary etc will give it a nice flavour.

Easy Corn Bread

Easy Corn Bread

(Makes 4 moderate servings)

Used this recipe from Mark Bitman, omitting the sugar and using buttermilk instead of plain milk. The crumb was very light and made for a fluffy loaf of cornbread. (I halved the recipe)

3/4 cup cornmeal (I used a medium grind, pulsed in the food processor for a minute to make it smoother)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used regular chapati atta)

11/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

3/4 cup buttermilk (add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to milk and let stand for 10 minutes)

2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves

1 green chilli, chopped fine

2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare a metal baking tin (I used a loaf pan) by greasing it with a bit of the oil. Place the tin in the oven to heat along with the oven.

In a mixing bowl, add the cornmeal, wheat flour, baking soda and powder, salt and mint and green chillies and mix well.

In a mixing jar, add the egg and the oil to the buttermilk and whisk it till everything is mixed through. Add this to the dry ingredients and gently mix until everything is wet with a few even strokes.

Pour the batter into the heated baking tin, bake for about 20-25 minutes or till a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before taking the loaf out of the tin and slicing.

Serve with a hearty soup or bean chilli. I served it with a hearty Potato Basil Soup and Egg Salad for dinner.

Baking ~ Multi Grain Bread Rolls Stuffed with Cottage Cheese and Herbs

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I made these yummy bread rolls and used it in an article on healthy eating I did recently for a publication. Healthy bread ~ did you just do an eye roll? Well they’re made from the same multi grain atta (flour) that is used for regular rotis (Indian flat bread) and the stuffing was a mix of low fat cottage cheese, low fat cheddar and a lot of vegetables and herbs, it was a good specimen to showcase how bread need not be treated as the enemy. Every time I see a blanket accusation that carbs are bad, or bread is to be avoided, I have this urge to dropkick the person who preaches this like the gospel truth. Eating every food group is essential; just don’t overdo the sugars and the white stuff and the refined stuff. Shunning any food group for reasons other than medical and upon medical advice especially for fad diets is ridiculous. While I am not qualified to comment on nutrition, I do follow what my common sense tells me to do.

Onto the rolls now… I’d been seeing the sweet version of bread rolls in the form of cinnamon rolls or pumpkin rolls all over the blogosphere (still not sure if that is a word) around autumn / Halloween and was tempted to try them out. Around Christmas, my namesake sends me a package with some baking supplies as a present. It also had a few sachets of instant yeast. Anyone who is baking with yeast inIndiawill tell you how difficult it is to find good yeast. The boxed stuff we get here needs to be proven and prayed over for it to rise well. But this was great yeast and I had to use it immediately. I made two versions, sweet and savoury that I will hopefully post quickly (hopefully). The average time I take to post a recipe here from the time I make it is …. Well I’d be ashamed to post the number here. Let’s just say it takes between a few days to a few years… yes I have posted posts that have been in drafts for say a year or more too and a lot of stuff still sits there…

Here is the recipe for the rolls. I used a commercially available Multi-grain chapatti atta which is 75% whole wheat and 25% assorted grain flour. Feel free to use all whole wheat flour or replace half with white/refined flour or Maida.

Cottage Cheese and Herb Stuffed Multi-grain Bread Rolls (makes 10 rolls)

Multigrain flour (regular atta) – 2 1/2 cups

Dry active yeast – 1 teaspoon

Olive oil – 2 tablespoons

Warm milk – ½ cup

Salt – ½ teaspoon

Sugar – 1 teaspoon

Chilli Flakes – 1 teaspoon (optional)

For the filling

Shredded Cottage Cheese – 1 cup ( I used home made paneer, crumbled)

Grated low fat cheese – ¼ cup (optional)

Shredded vegetables of choice – 1 cup (I used a mix of colored peppers, grated carrot, onion and finely chopped mushrooms)

Fresh herbs like mint, coriander, celery leaves or basil – ½ cup chopped fine

Salt to taste

Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon

Mix all the ingredients together and set aside for use.

For the topping

Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

Garlic clove – 1 peeled and crushed

Sesame seeds – 2 tablespoons toasted

mix this together and set aside for use.

Method

In a bowl, mix the warm milk, sugar and yeast till the yeast is dissolved. Set aside for 20 minutes till it is frothy.

Mix the flour with salt and chilli flakes, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the rest of the ingredients including the milk and mix well, adding water to make a soft almost sticky dough.

On a clean surface, dust some dry flour; knead the dough with your palms for about 5 minutes till it becomes elastic. Oil it with the remaining olive oil and put it in a bowl to rise for 1 hour, cover with a clean damp cloth/ cling wrap.

After an hour, take the puffed up dough, punch it down and knead again. Divide into two equal portions, on a floured surface with a rolling pin roll out into a ½ inch thick rectangle.

Mix all the ingredients for the filling together.

Spread half of the filling on the rolled out dough. Lift up two ends of the roll and roll it in gently to make a cylinder. Slice into 4-5 equal parts and place it in a greased baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

Cover the rolls and let them rise for 30 minutes. Brush with the olive oil glaze, sprinkle sesame seeds liberally on top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220 degrees F for 30 minutes till the tops are golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Note: Oven temperatures and hence baking times may vary. Do a skewer test to check for doneness.

These rolls are best eaten fresh and warm from the oven. But they do keep well for a couple of days in the fridge. Just gently reheat before you serve them.

Clean up Act ~ Pizza two ways ~ Deep Dish and Thin Crust Pizza Recipe

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Thank you all for the response to my previous post on the rolls. Its been a long hiatus and this recipe has been in my drafts for almost a month. I am still going to be posting recipes that i have made using stuff long forgotten in the pantry or the fridge.  Since my last post, i turned a year older. Since i have been really busy with work, the celebrations were really small and low key, nothing compared to the last year….on the whole, older and hopefully wiser.

Onto the recipe for one of  my favourite comfort foods – Pizza. Making it from scratch is as enjoyable for me as sinking my teethe into a warm slice. And while I have been known to make  good pizza, it was not until a few weeks ago that K acknowledged it. What is it about getting the approval of a skeptic? I for one was determined to win him around. I ‘d made some extra yeast-ed dough with which i made the pesto rolls I’d posted previously. This dough was sitting in the fridge for about 10 days and i needed to finish it up quite literally. Thin crust does it for me and deep pan for K. So we always have our own separate versions with and without olives. Leftovers are always welcome to sit in the fridge for when snack pangs hit me. One of the many vices of working mostly from home!

It the simplest thing to do if you have pizza dough at hand. Even if you dont, it is very simple to make it in a snatch.

For the Pizza Base:

3 cups flour, you can use All Purpose, I used 2 cups Whole Wheat and 1 Cup APF

1 teaspoon dried yeast

1 cup water (warm)

1/2 cup milk (warm)

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the toppings:

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 cup halved yellow cherry tomatoes

1 medium sized regular tomato

1/2 cup of roasted and sliced red and yellow bell peppers

1 cup grated or thinly sliced mozarella cheese

For the base

Mix together the sugar, water and milk. Add the yeast, mix well and leave it on the counter top to bloom (about 15-30 mins). in a large bowl, add the flours, salt and mix. Add the milk- water mix and knead to a smooth dough. You can also do this in a food processor. Oil a bowl with the olive oil and place this dough in the bowl, turn to coat with the oil and cover and set aside till it doubles in size, about 1 hr.

Punch the dough down and knead it for 2-3 minutes till it is nice and elastic. divide into 4 equal tennis ball sized parts. This makes four 8 inch bases. I used just one and a half of the dough balls, and the rest were used to make pesto rolls.

For a deep pan pizza base, flatten one of the dough balls with your palm and fingers on a clean and floured surface till it is about 1/3 of an inch thick. Transfer this to an oiled baking sheet (i used a regular rectangular baking sheet). Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest about 20 mins while you go around doing other stuff. In a preheated oven, Bake it at 375 F for 12 mins or till it is puffed up, almost cooked, but still not changed colour.

Spread with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce (recipe given below) top with vegetables of your choice. I used sliced onions, cherry tomatoes and roasted red and yellow bell peppers on the deep pan pizza. Bake at 375F for 12-14 minutes till the vegetables are cooked but not overcooked. Add the mozarella and bake another 4-5 minutes till it has just melted. Slice the pizza. Serve hot.

Easy Pizza Sauce

1 cup tomato puree (readymade, or homemade)

salt to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

1 pod of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon of italian seasoning or dried and crushed oregano and basil

1 tablespoon of olive oil

heat the olive oil in a deep pan, add the crushed garlic and wait 1/2 a minute till aromatic. add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes till it is thickening. cool and use. it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.


Thin Crust Pizza

pinch off half of the dough from one of the tennis ball sized portions of dough. Flatten to about 1/3 centimeter with your palm and fingers or roll out with a rolling pin, using very little dry flour to dust it. Transfer onto a baking sheet (i used a rectangular baking pan). spread this with 2 tablespoons of the pizza sauce and add toppings and mozarella cheese. I used sliced red onion,, cherry tomatoes, red and yellow roasted bell peppers and sliced black olives from a bottle. drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of Extra virgin olive oil onto the pizza. Pop it into a preheated at 375 F oven and bake in for 15 minutes till the sides of the base are browning. Cool slightly, slice and serve.

Vegetarian Moussaka Recipe ~ Step by Step Pictures

ms0

Two nights ago i was watching this travel cum cooking show on Travel and Living and saw this lovely lady making moussaka…. she had such a lilt in her voice and was so delighted to be showing how to make this famous greek / arab dish…. K and i looked at each other and he said to me…” I want to eat Moussaka” . This evening, when i was struck at 7 p.m with the question of “what to make for dinner?” i said to myself “Moussaka”. Well i threw in some elbow macaroni to make it a complete meal. So this is my version of vegetarian “Not Quite Moussaka”. This dish was cooked up with a minimum fuss. Its also the first time that i am cooking with fake mince otherwise called soya granules. I was very pleased with the result. This is the first time I’ve made something from a TV show…. try it, you will love it. The paneer in the bechemel sauce was lovely without being too heavy. Since i made many changes to the original recipe, i am not claiming any authenticity 😀

I also fell all over myself and almost broke my camera trying to take pictures of the making of the moussaka so that i could post a step by step….. humour me… while i do this… cos it doenst look likely that i will go through all of this again! Oh and since making the bechemel sauce in itself is difficult to do with the whisking etc, i dont have a step by step of that…. kind of the wrong recipe to choose to do a step by step… but what the hell…. i cant waste all the pictures i took!!

I’ve been off the blogging world radar for way longer than i expected… was just mentioning to my namesake that i am not keeping track of any blog events or participating in them… this moussaka then, goes to JFI- Paneer, the event conceptualised by Indira, being hosted this month at The Spice Who loved me!!

ms1peel and slice the potatoes. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, if like K you cant stand too much olive oil, use any neutral vegetable oil. place the potato slices in a single layer and half cook them on both sides.

ms2

Drain out any liquid from the brinjal slices and repeat the half cooking process in the remainder of the oil.Transfer to a plate.

ms3

Cook pasta as per the instructions on the package. Plunge in cold water, drain and reserve.

ms4

soya granules, soaked in 2 cups of hot boiling water

ms5

add the olive oil, add the cinnamon stick, add the chopped onions and garlic and fry till transluscent. add the soya granules and fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato puree, grated fresh tomato, cumin, salt and pepper and red chilli powder and cook till its almost dry.

ms6

place a layer of potatoes at the bottom of a buttered baking dish.

ms7

at this point, i realised i HAD to clean the counter of the clutter…. with one hand…

Cover the potatoes with a layer of the fried brinjals.

ms8

Spread a layer of the cooked pasta. (i added this step to make this a full meal, omit if you are serving this with garlic bread on the side.)

ms9cover this with a layer of the soya ragu. ms10

evenly spread the bechemel sauce on top. ms13

Bake for 30 minutes in the hot oven, or till the top is browning slightly. ms11Leave to settle in the oven about 5-10 minutes after baking. Cut into squares and serve with a light salad on the side.

Here’s the full Recipe

(Serves 4-5 main courses)

8 slices of brinjal (1/4 inch slices of the large bharta variety)

10-12 slices peeled potato (1/4 inch thick)

1 cup of cooked pasta (i used elbow, rigatoni also would do)

Slice the brinjal into 1/4 inch thick pieces and sprinkle with a little salt, leave in a colander to drain about 30 minutes. peel and slice the potatoes. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, if like K you cant stand too much olive oil, use any neutral vegeatble oil. place the potato slices in a single layer and half cook them on both sides. Transfer to a plate and reserve. Drain out any liquid from the brinjal slices and repeat the half cooking process in the remainder of the oil.Transfer to a plate.

Cook pasta as per the instructions on the package. Plunge in cold water, drain and reserve.

for the ragu:

1 cup red onion, chopped fine

10-12 pods of garlic, chopped finely

1/2 cup of soya granules, soaked in 2 cups of hot boiling water

1 cup of tomato puree

1 inch stick of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon red chilli powder/ cayenne

1 ripe red tomato, grated

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

In the same skillet in which the potatoes and brinjal slices were fried, add the olive oil, add the cinnamon stick, add the chopped onions and garlic and fry till transluscent. add the soya granules and fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato puree, grated fresh tomato, cumin, salt and pepper and red chilli powder and cook till its almost dry.

for the bechemel sauce:

2 tablespoons all purpose flour ( i used whole wheat)

11/2 cup milk (i used low fat)

1 cup of ricotta cheese (i used homemade grated paneer)

1/2 cup cheddar/ parmesan cheese (i omitted this)

2-3 tablespoons of plain yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon butter

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter and before it starts to brown, add the flour and saute till all the butter is absorbed. ensure neither the flour nor the butter gets burnt. this process needs your full attention. Add the milk, slowly using a whisk to ensure there are no lumps. add the salt and pepper to taste, while it is coming to a simmering point, add the cheese, grated paneer  and yogurt. Mix well. When the sauce has a custard like consistency (about 1-2 mins), turn off the heat. cool it a little before using for the layering.

To assemble the moussaka. butter a 8×8 inch baking dish. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. place a layer of potatoes at the bottom. over that, assemble a layer of the fried brinjals. cover this with a layer of the cooked pasta. i added this step to make this a full meal, omit if you are serving this with garlic bread on the side. cover this with a layer of the soya ragu. evenly spread the bechemel sauce on top. Bake for 30 minutes in the hot oven, or till the top is browning slightly. Leave to settle in the oven about 5-10 minutes after baking. Cut into squares and serve with a light salad on the side.

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