Restaurant-style Cream of Tomato Soup

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Winter and soups go hand in hand. My favourite is a bowl of thick tomato soup. And this recipe gives restaurant-style Cream of Tomato in three simple steps, with no butter or oil. It gets all its flavour from a little cream. I mostly scoop some fresh ‘malai’ off milk, whisk and use it.

This recipe makes four generous servings (I froze some of the leftover and it kept very well. I can now just heat and enjoy home-made soup any time!)

1 kilo/ 15 medium sized very red salad tomatoes (they should not be the sour variety)
250 grams/ 3 large onions
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper
1 tsp sugar
3-4 cups of water as needed to cook the soup
¼ cup cream or fresh malai and some more to garnish
Some finely chopped fresh coriander or parsley to garnish

Chop the tomatoes and onions into large cubes in a large pressure cooker or lidded pan, add salt, pepper, sugar and 2 cups of water. Bring the cooker to a whistle and turn off. Let cool and open the lid. If using a pan, let cook covered for 12-15 minutes.

Strain and save the liquid in a heavy bottomed pan. Puree the tomato and onion mix leftover and strain again. You get a thick, creamy tomato soup.

Add a cup of water to it (or more as per the consistency desired), check the seasonings and adjust them. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat. Add ¼ cup of cream and finely chopped fresh coriander and mix well.


Serve hot garnished with more cream and coriander and bread croutons. I toast mine very crisp instead of frying. This makes for a very healthy, delicious and fulfilling meal.
Happy Winters!

Love
Garima
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A hot bowl of soup,some pan fried croquettes and herbed butter tossed pasta- A perfect little dinner!

Last dinner for dinner my younger teen asked for a ‘soupy kinda meal’. It resonated with what I was feeling ,battling a sore throat as I was. So I rustled up a tomato-onion soup with brown bread baked croutons, some pan-fried potato croquettes and a herbed butter shell pasta. It made for a simple, homey and satisfying meal.

Tomato Soup Croquettes and pasta

For the soup ( this makes 4 generous servings)
6-7 large ripe tomatoes
3 large onions
Salt to taste
½ tsp black pepper powder
A pinch of sugar

Pressure cook all of the above ingredients with a glass of water. Cool, blitz in the mixer-grinder and strain.

Put the pot on the stove again and adjust seasoning if needed. Add some herbs, fresh or dry. I added some oregano and fresh parsley.
Serve steaming hot topped with some grated cheddar cheese or cream and some baked croutons.

For the croutons, toast 4 slices of brown bread in the oven till they were crisp and brown. Lightly butter them and cut into squares. Done!

For the croquettes

5-6 boiled and mashed potatoes
2 onions and a large green chilli, both chopped fine 
Salt 
Pepper 
Some Lal mirch, amchur powder and a pinch of garam masala
4-5 slices of brown bread ground to a coarse powder in the mixer
Combine all of the above.
Shape as you like and pan-fry on a non stick pan till well browned from both the sides.
Serve hot!

For the pasta
Boil 200 gms pasta
Heat a tsp of butter and let it brown slightly.
Throw in the pasta.
Add salt, pepper and any herb of your choice.

That’s it! You have a soul-satisfying meal ready to serve. It took me all of 30 minutes to get it together too 😀

Tomato Soup Potato Croquettes Pasta

How to make a Middle Eastern Mezze Platter!

What a fun month it has been!
Exploring realms little known, I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
Got to know quite a few histories and stories and the magic of how food connects.

So now to the Mezze platter! Referred to as the Mediterranean Mezze, the Middle Eastern Mezza or the Lebanese Mezze platter- this is a veritable smorgasbord of delights. It is made up of an assortment of chips and dips, fritters and fries, salads and relishes.
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The Food Republic explains it so completely and with a cute illustration to boot!  
Pic Courtesy- foodrepublic.com
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The mezze platter (sometimes spelled meze) is one of the more malleable snack trays, varying slightly depending on where it’s being served. It’s a popular way to start a meal in Turkey, Israel, Greece, Lebanon — spanning cultures across the Middle East and beyond. However you serve it or say it, the most important thing about mezze is what it means: it’s Arabic for sharing.

Although this platter is meant to serve as a Starter to a meal, it is quite a meal in itself. I have a feeling after having feasted on these goodies, I would only head towards the desserts.
I tried to get a Mezze platter together and made

I started with making Rob-e-Anar aka Pomegranate molaases.
Pomegranate molasses, as they are an essential part of the Middle Eastern cuisine.
IMG_4969Fattoush- The fresh salad with the crunch of Pita bread croutons
IMG_4817-A delicious Watermelon,Feta Cheese and Mint salad
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Some gorgeous Middle Eastern dips
-The walnut and red pepper Muahammara
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Green Pepper Hummus
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-The smoky Baba Ghanoush
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-The fresh cucumber yogurt Tzatziki
IMG_5858and the hot hot Harissa Yogurt dip!
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The dips I teamed with
No fry Falafels (I have the regular  fried Falafels on the blog too)
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Pita Wedges/fingers
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Crisp Lavash Crackers and
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Spinach and feta cheese filled Sambousek
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And though not a part of the Mezze, two gorgeous desserts
The Rob-e-Anar Kaashta Ice cream
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and the Basbousa cake dessert!
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Ah!! What a month is has been ❤
Until the next one….

Lassi or Sweet Buttermilk

 

Lassi High Resolution

I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like a glass of well made lassi! Sweet,creamy and refreshing,this glass of yum is sure to steal your heart. I am sure there are a number of ways in which it is made and relished. I share here the way it is made in my kichen, neither too thick, nor too watery and with a hint of cardamom.
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To make 4 glasses, you need

1 ½ cups of hung curd
½ cup of milk, at room temperature
4-6 tsp powdered sugar (or boora, if you have it)
1 tsp of powdered cardamom
1 cup of chilled water
Some ice cubes

To prepare hung curd , tie the curd in a muslin cloth and let it hang for an hour, so that all the water gets drained away. If the curd is fresh and sweet, you can proceed with the making of lassi even without hanging it to drain the water.

Whisk together curd, milk, cardamom powder and sugar till it is well combined.
Add the water and ice cubes and whisk well.
Serve chilled.

You may add mango pulp to make mango lassi or rose syrup to make rose lassi. Adjust the sugar accordingly.
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Masala Chaach/Buttermilk

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A beverage that has been around forever, one that quenches thirst no matter what the season and satisfies the soul- buttermilk!I can sip on a glass any time of the day. It is known by various names like chaach, chaas, and taak across different geographical regions.

The traditional way to prepare it is by setting clotted cream or malai with a little yogurt overnight. The next morning the set cream is whipped to extract butter. The leftover slightly tangy and absolutely delicious liquid is buttermilk.
If you need a quick fix, dilute some thick yogurt, give it a blitz in the mixer with the masalas and bingo- all done!

This is how I make it

250 gms or a large cup of thick yogurt
500 mils water
1 tsp rock salt
1 tsp powdered roasted cumin
½ tsp dried and powdered mint
A pinch of black pepper powder
¼ tsp powdered sugar
A few cubes of ice
Some boondi to top the chaach/buttermilk
Mix all the ingredients listed apart from the boondi and blitz in the mixer using the whipper blade.
Pour into tall glasses, top with some boondi and a fresh mint leaf and enjoy!
CHHACH COLLAGE

Garlicky Mushroom Soup with Fantail Rolls

A ‘soup and rolls’ dinner is the best thing about cold December evenings. This thick garlicky mushroom soup makes for a hearty and complete meal when paired with some hot buttered dinner rolls.
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This is my garlicky variation of the traditional Cream of Mushroom soup. I often serve it with bruscetta.
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This time I made these Herbed garlic Fantail rolls.
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For the soup we need (serves 4)
1 ½ cup mushrooms, sliced thin
1 onion, chopped very fine
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp corn flour/all purpose flour mixed with ¼ cup of milk till smooth
1 tsp salt
½ tsp white/black pepper powder
2 cups milk
1 Tbsp butter

Warm the butter and add the garlic.
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Once slightly browned, add the onions and cook stirring for about 5 minutes till the onion cooks.
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Add the mushrooms and cook for about ten minutes till the water evaporates and they are sautéed well.
Add the corn flour/flour and cook for a couple of minutes.
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Add the milk and stir. Bring it to a boil.
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Season with salt and pepper and boil till the soup thickens.
Serve with warm bread.

For the fantail rolls, follow any white bread recipe. I followed my recipe for garlic cilantro pull apart bread and used fresh parsley and basil instead of the cilantro. For shaping the fantail rolls, follow the exact procedure for pull-apart bread as shown here.
Once you have stacked the dough strips and cut them into squares, instead of putting the squares in a loaf pan, put each square into a greased muffin pan and bake for about 15 minutes at 180C. Brush with butter and serve immediately.

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Chilli Paneer

A Chinese meal is unacceptable in my house without Chilli Paneer. It is eaten as a starter and it is eaten yet again with the main meal. In fact, I need to hide the fried paneer cubes lest they get polished off before being served at the meal!!
Chilli paneer works beautifully as a starter at parties too. It can be prepped earlier on and put together just before serving.
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This recipe serves 4

Prepping the paneer cubes

500 gms of paneer cut into cubes
Oil for deep frying

Make into a thick paste like batter –
½ cup maida/all purpose flour
2 Tbsp corn flour
1 Tbsp Rice flour (skip if not available,but it adds crunch to the paneer)
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced very fine

Dip each cube into the batter and fry in hot oil. It needs to be taken out pretty quick else gets burnt easily.
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To make the sauce

2 medium onions, cubed
2 green capsicums, cubed
2 green chillies, slit (optional. I skip them to keep the heat low or use the large less hot variety)
1 ½ Tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp Ginger, grated fine
Mix together 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp red chilli sauce and ½ Tbsp tomato ketchup
½ tsp vinegar (adjust as per taste for tartness)
Salt and pepper (check and add at the end only if required)
A large pinch MSG or ajinomoto (skip if not comfortable using it)
3 Tbsp Oil
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Heat oil and add ginger and garlic. After a minute add onions and capsicum.

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Cook stirring on high heat for 5-7 minutes.
Take off the flame and add the sauce mix, vinegar and ajinomoto.

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Add the paneer cubes and mix well.
Add salt or pepper if required. Do NOT add salt at the beginning as the sauces are high in salt content.
Serve hot.
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Falafel- crisp deep-fried chick pea balls

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Falafels with Hummus and Pita are a super hit Sunday brunch at my place. I make this meal often as it is really healthy and devoured with much enthusiasm by my boys.

Falafel is a deep fried ball/fritter made from chick peas. This Middle Eastern snack is often served with Pita pockets and Hummus. Quite akin to the Indian Pakoda/bhajiya, falafels are easy to make and crunchy yum to eat!

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This recipe gives 15-20 falafels

1 ½ cup chick peas/kabuli chane, soaked for 6-7 hours
2 medium sized onions, chopped into cubes
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro/hara dhaniya, chopped coarsely
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped coarsely
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
¼ cup Olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 Tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp all purpose flour/maida
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Oil to fry

Drain the chickpeas and grind with the sesame seeds in the mixer. Pulse/grind twice.

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Add the onion, cilantro ,parsley, garlic, salt, chilli powder, cumin powder and lemon juice. Add a tbsp of olive oil and grind once.

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Do not grind very fine, keep the mixture little coarse. Try not to add water as far as possible. Add olive oil slowly in case the mixture needs to loosen a little to grind.

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Heat oil.
Add baking powder and a little flour to get a doughy consistency. Add only as much flour as required to make the falafel balls. Grease hands with a little oil and make 15-20 balls.

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Deep fry the falafels in medium hot oil. If the oil is too hot, the falafels will brown on the outside but remain uncooked inside. So keep the heat low to medium at all times.

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Drain and serve.

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To assemble a sandwich
Cut the pita into two, stuff two falafels in the pita pocket, top with Hummus and chopped cherry tomatoes/regular tomatoes slices and chopped lettuce.
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Recipe adapted from here at Epicurious.

 

 

Carrot Soup

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Winters are knocking at the door and soups are back in town. Give me a piping hot bowl of soup with some oven fresh bread and I need nothing else for dinner. Here is a simple and nutritious carrot soup. No oil and gets made in a jiffy.

You need

3-4 carrots, cut into chunks
2 medium sized tomatoes, quartered
1 small onion, quartered
4 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp moong dal/ husked split green lentils (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ tsp sugar
1 cup water
For the topping you may use some onion cut into rings and browed in some olive oil, freshly chopped coriander/cilantro, some fresh cream or bread croutons.

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Pressure cook all the ingredients with a cup of water. Cool, grind and strain. Give it a boil and serve hot topped with some caramelised onion and some fresh coriander chopped fine. Top with some cream or malai if desired. We had it with some freshly baked whole wheat bread.

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Paneer Tikka and a Mini Barbeque

So the husband got this tiny metal box home calling it a mini barbecue. I acted the sceptical wife.

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But man! We got the perfect Paneer Tikkas and all of us loved them!
Paneer Tikka
The recipe is simplicity itself-

Paneer, cubed- 500 grams
Capsicum, cubed the same size as the paneer- 3 to 4
Tomatoes, cubed the same side as the paneer- 3 to 4 (I removed the soft fleshy part from the tomatoes to avoid the liquid dripping on the coals)
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Marinate the paneer for 2- 3 hours.
Skewer it with oil rubbed capsicum and tomatoes.
Barbeque and enjoy!
My first time with the barbecue and had a blast!

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For the marinade
Thick yogurt/curd/dahi- 1 cup
Salt- 1 tsp (to taste)
Kashmiri red chili powder- ½ tsp
Turmeric/haldi powder- ¼ tsp
Coriander/dhaniya powder- ½ tsp
Garam Masala powder- ¼ tsp
Cumin/jeera powder- ¼ tsp
Goda masala- 2 pinches (Skip if not available)
Crushed ginger-garlic- 1tbsp

Mix all of the above to form the marinade.

Cover the cubed paneer well in the marinade and leave covered for 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

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