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Destination Portugal! & Pastel de Nata (Portugese Egg Custard Tarts)

16 Sep
Yuhu!!…very happy to visit Portugal once again this year… Sweet memories of our last trip inspired us to make it again. We decided to go by car, as we love the beautiful landscapes when we cross borders of Germany, France, Spain and Portugal. One way drive from our place(from south west of Germany) to Algarve region in Portugal is 2500kms. My hubby was very enthusiastic to drive the whole stretch and we especially like the contour variations that nature provides us with, especially in Spain and Portugal.

No traffic and less vehicles in Highways starting from Spain
As the journey is also part of our vacation, we wanted to enjoy every part of it. This was our Itenary- our home ->SanSebastian> Algarve(Our destination in Portugal)->Barcelona->home. we took sleep over break in intermediate destinations. SanSebastian is a cute destination, which we accidentally discovered in our last trip. It is a beautiful city along the sea coast (north of Spain). Barcelona is our ever favorite destination and we never miss an opportunity to visit Barcelona, where we stayed on our way back home.

Beautiful Mountain Landscapes and Olive trees everywhere…

Now coming to the landscapes and trees, the coniferous spiky trees  slowly disappearing and short varieties of shrub trees and olive trees everywhere until your eyes can reach . Mountains were green in France and slowly when you move down to Spain, the mountains where rocky and gets dry . Further down south, one can see Orange trees and lemon, olive trees and grape wines everywhere in Portugal. Figs,palm trees and eucalyptus are not to miss.
Fresh oranges from farm, sold on the road side, getting reminded of my home country, India. It was juicy and perfect to enjoy on a hot day. Mangoes were delicious and sweet.
Orange trees in Portugal

Oleander, Hibiscus, bougainvillea in different colors and varieties seems to be in most of the houses and in public gardens. During spring there are different kinds of flowers.
During September, the average temp has been ~28deg and it gets hot when you have to drive facing the sun. We badly needed an chilled lemonade or an watermelon juice. We got some lemon drink on the highway shop to chill down a bit.
One half of Algarve has beaches with rocky cliffs, other half of Algarve has dessert like beaches( olhau, Tavira). Every 1 km approximately you will find a new beach.
Chimney in every house is an essential exterior design

Pastel de Nata
This is a thin flaky pastry filled with egg custard flavored with cinnamon and Vanilla. One cannot miss this little cutie pie if you are in Portugal. Any bakery / pastry shop and even MCDonald’s has it in its Menu. Try this simple to make pastry and you will fall in love with it.
To have a perfect tart it has to have crispy and flaky outer layer, delicious and mild flavored egg custard. For the perfect looks, Pastel de Nata should be a little browned on top .
Ingredients:
  1. Pastry sheet – 1 (approx 40*20cm)
  2. Egg – 2(only the yellow)
  3. Milk -300 ml(Full fat milk)
  4. Sugar – 5 Tbs
  5. cinnamon powder – 1/2 tsp
  6. Corn starch – 2 Tbs
  7. Vanilla essence – few drops

Method:

1. Sprinkle 1/4 of Cinnamon powder on the pastry sheet and try to roll it to a long roll. ( I do this to get a thick layer of pastry rounds ,as my pastry sheet which was thin)

2. Cut this rolls in to 12 equal parts.

3. Take each one of these parts and keep them,  facing one of the cut part touching the board . Roll them to a small circle ,so that it fits in to the muffin molds.

4. Place the rolled circle pastry to the tins and adjust them to fit to the sides of the mold using your finger.

Egg Custard preparation Method:

1. Add 250 ml milk to the pan and heat it until it begins to boil.

2. In another bowl add egg yellow, sugar, corn starch and remaining 50ml milk and beat it well, so that there is no lumps.

3. Now slowly add this egg mixture to the milk and keep stirring.

4. When you notice the mixture gets thickening, switch of the stove and add 1/4 of cinnamon and Vanilla essence.

5. Allow the egg custard to cool and fill this mixture to the prepared pastry sheets in the tin.

6. Bake it for 15 min in at 180 deg in a preheated oven and another 10 min with the same temp in grill mode to achieve the dark color on top.

 

Holiday time Chicken Curry..

02 Apr

Vacation is always fun!. Apart from visiting places around, I like to experiment with fresh local produce. Indeed, you can find out how much the ingredients influence taste in food. Try cooking the usual thing you do and you notice that it’s a bit different.

When we travel around, I dont forget to pack my masalas and special kitchen equipments along with us. This holiday time chicken curry, as I name it, is easy to prepare and you can never go wrong. You can experiment by adding vegetables of your choice or some specialties from local produce.

Last week, I had an opportunity to meet a group of 15 ladies from different countries, who have common interest in learning to cook different cuisines. I was asked by my friend, P, to conduct a cooking class for this group. For the first time, I had  the experience of others cooking my recipes. Those amazing ladies was superfast and some of them had knowledge about Indian cooking already. It was interesting to spend the evening with them. Thanks to my friend to introduce me to this lovely group.

I wanted to keep the menu simple and easy to prepare. Definitely, Holiday Chicken curry was in the list. Additionally, Vegetable Bhajji(Veg fritters), Cucumber salad, Payasam & Rice were on the menu.

Outcome was super and tasted yummy.  The group enjoyed cooking very much and felt happy to have made all the dishes by themselves.

So do try this easy and simple holiday time chicken curry….

Ingredients:

  1. Chicken – Whole chicken 1kg or boneless 600gms (Cut it into bite size pieces)
  2. Cinnamon – 2 inch stick
  3. Cardamom – 4 nos
  4. Star anise -1
  5. Bay leaves – 2
  6. Cloves – 5
  7. Onions – 2 large (finely chopped)
  8. Tomatoes – 2 large (finely chopped)
  9. Chilli powder – 1 tbs (depending on the spice level increase or decrease)
  10. Corrainder powder – 1 tbs
  11. Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  12. Oil – 2 tbs
  13. Ginger & Garlic mixed paste – 2 tbs or (finely minced ginger and garlic)
  14. Coconut milk – 250ml
  15. Corriander leaves – 2 sprigs
  16. Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  17. Salt as required

Method:

1. Heat a heavy bottomed pan. Once it is hot add oil.

2. Add the whole spices all together(cinnamon,cardamom,cloves,bay leaves,star anise) and reduce the flame to medium and saute it for a minute.

3.  Add the onions and saute it until it becomes translucent. Add little salt to help the onions to cook faster.

4. Add Ginger garlic paste and saute it for 2-3 minutes.

5. Add Chicken and saute it for couple of minutes until the ginger garlic paste and onions are coated on chicken.

6. Now add all the masalas (chilli , corrainder, turmeric) powder and salt and stir it for approx minutes.

7. Add Chopped Tomatoes and mix it for 2 minutes.

8. Add 1/4 glass of water and cover it and cook for 10 minutes. Once it starts boiling, decrease to medium heat.

9. Add coconut milk stir the mixture and cover it and cook for another 10 minutes.

10.Add chopped corrainder leaves and curry leaves and switch of the stove.

11. Serve it with hot steamed rice. Yummy Holiday Chicken curry is ready.

Tip : 1.Vegetables like Mushroom or Bell Pepper or  Drumstick or Brinjal can be added which increases the flavor of the curry.

2. To Best enjoy this curry, the Rice served served should be very soft and not grainy nor not completely mushy.

3. Boneless chicken can  also be used but the Whole chicken is preferred as it gives a rich taste.

 
 

Chicken Piri Piri in my sytle…& Sagres(Western end of Europe)

05 Jan

Just recalling our trip to Portugal last year while writing this… Portuguese people are very warm and welcoming. We covered almost good part of south and traveled till Lisbon on the east. You can notice a good difference in culture &  food between south and upper Portuguese. The three common words we could hear very often in Portugal  is  ’Obrigado ‘ , ‘ Ola’ and ‘Piri Piri’.  we had no idea of  any Portuguese until we arrived there. The first two words are thank you and hello.  Piri Piri is hot chili sauce made from bird’s eye chillies and  some  added spices. You may not miss this sauce in any of the restaurants there and they also warn you that its very spicy. This is something like Tabassco sauce but i find piri piri a milder and bit tangy one. This is also popular in African countries.

Basic ingredients in piri piri sauce are  fresh red chiilies, paprika,salt,lemon,vinegar,pepper.

Piri Piri Chicken is a popular chicken dish in Portugal. I spiced it up a little bit in my own way…I am using ready made Piri Piri sauce with slight addition of spices.

Ingredients:

  1. Chicken – 250 gms
  2. Piri piri sauce – 5Tbs
  3. Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
  4. White pepper – 1/4 tsp
  5. Orange food color a pinch( optional)
  6. Olive oil – 1 Tbs
  7. Salt as required for taste

Method:

1. Marinate the chicken with piri piri sauce with pepper little salt. Add the food coloring to get the bright orange color. Food coloring is optional.

2. Add oil to tbe hot pan and add ginger garlic paste and saute it for 2 min in medium heat.

3. Now add the marinated chicken and increase the heat to high. Cook for 3-5 min and incorporating oil and ginger garlic paste mixture on all sides of chicken. until a nice brown color coat.

4. Cover the pan and cook for another 10- 15 minutes in medium heat, after 10 minutes turn the chicken pieces into other side for covered cooking.

5. Once it is done, serve it warm with Piri Piri sauce.

we enjoyed this chicken with sauteed beans and sesame and baby cucumber.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————Sagres and some pictures : Located in Algarve Portugal, this place is famous for its beautiful beaches and one can visit the south western tip of europe. The beaches are are surrounded by big strech of mountains. There is also a light house and remains of 14th century sailing school.

Light house in Sagres, Portugal and South western tip of Europe.

 

Pav Bhaji (Indian Bread and Curry)

01 Jan

Mmmm..The smell of fresh homebaked bread is just awesome. While baking cake gives a sort of happiness when the cake rises up good and moist, baking bread is another kind of joy to see perfectly fermented dough and puffs up to right, airy and with a nice brown crust on top. Here is an Indian famous bread called Pav, which is popular in  western region of India. This dish is one of the popular street foods in Mumbai,India. Bhaaji is the vegetable curry dish that is served along with this bread. First time I made this bread was few years back. It came out so nice and beautiful and it inspired me to make it many times…

homemade Pav bread from Indian Maida (all purpose flour).

Its not common to have baking oven as a common kitchen equipment in Indian homes couple of decades before.  As tandoori oven is used in northern parts of India to make Naan breads and chicken tikka. The Pav breads and cakes were only made and sold in bakeries. Nowadays, most of the modern household have an oven. It is so convenient to try out baking goodies at homes with ease.

Few months back, we invited one of our friend’s family for Sunday lunch. PavBhaji was one of the dish in the menu. Our friends B & R, enjoyed the Pav bread and asked for the recipe. I should apologize I was not fast enough in posting this recipe. In the mean time, I made this as dinner for us two other times. I used different types of all purpose flour to get the bread as close to the original one.  I would recommend using Maida from Indian grocery store as the first choice to get closer to the original. Second better results can be obtained from German flour type 550. You may also use German flour type 405.

Here goes  the recipe

Pav bread made from Indian Maida(All purpose flour).

Ingredients for Pav Bread:

  1. All purpose flour – 1kg
  2. Yeast – 3 1/2 tsp(Rapid rise yeast)
  3. Salt as required
  4. Sugar – 7 Tbs
  5. Butter or Margarine – 50gms
  6. Water to make dough
  7. Milk or egg white – a little to brush on the bread.

Method for Pav Bread:

1. Mix all purpose flour, yeast,salt and sugar in a bowl. Slowly add some water and mix it like a tight dough.

2. Add the fat and slowly incorporate and knead in to the dough.

3. Keep is dough in the warm place in the kitchen and let it sit for 1 hour or until the dough rises. Some yeast make take few hours to rise the dough.

4. After an hour, punch down the fermented dough and knead a little.

5. Place a baking sheet and apply some butter on the sheet.

6. Make small balls of dough, arrange it in the baking sheet with a little space between them, like it is  in the below picture.

7. Leave again in the warm place to rise for the second time. It may take one hour approx..or wait until you see nicely puffed up balls.

8. Brush the puffed up balls with milk or egg whites to get nice brown color on top when baked.

9. Preheat the oven to 170C and bake it for 12-15 min in the medium rack at  160C. You may see a nice brown crust on top once baked.

10. The brown shell is bit hard and when you knock on it, you can hear a sound and infact this means the bread is baked perfectly. Take out the tray and allow it to cool for couple of hours and the hard shell may eventually become soft.

Ingredients for Bhaji:

  1. Oil – 2 tbs
  2. Pav Bhaji store bought masala – 2 tbs
  3. Chiili powder – 1tsp
  4. Corriander powder – 2 tsp
  5. Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Onion – 1 large (finely chopped)
  8. Tomatoes – 4 (finely chopped)
  9. Bell pepper – 1 large finely chopped
  10. Green frozen peas – 1/2 cup
  11. Boiled and skinless mashes potatoes  from – 5 medium sized potatoes
  12. Butter – 5o gms
  13. Ketchup – 2 Tbs
  14. Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbs
  15. Coriander for garnishing and serving
  16. Lemon for garnishing and serving
  17. Finely chopped onions for garnishing and serving

Method for Bhaji:.

1. Heat the pan and add oil. Add the onions and saute until it becomes soft.

2. Add Ginger garlic paste to onions and fry for couple of minutes until the raw smell goes away.

3. Add bell pepper followed by tomatoes and green peas one by one and sauteing it.

4.  Add all the masala from 2 to 5 from the ingredients and mix it for couple of minutes. Add little water and cover and cook this mixture for 20 minutes in a medium flame.

5. Now add the ketchup and mashed potato, salt and let it cook for another 1o mins. time to time add butter and incorporate it to the Bhaji.

6. Serve it in a bowl with freshly chopped onion, coriander leaves and lemon.

For better taste apply butter on both sides of bread and slightly toss it in the griddle and serve it with Bhaji. Sprinkle few drops of lemon on the curry and some chopped onions and coriander.

This pictures shown above are made from German all purpose flour type 550  (Mehl-550)

 
 

Happy New Year 2014 / Special cakes of 2013

30 Dec

It’s been quite some time since I blogged. How have you all been? ..  New year is on its way and I wish all my friends and viewers a very happy new year 2014.

In this post, I would like to share pictures of celebration cakes, which we enjoyed and  experimented in 2013. I do say experiment, as I tried out some new cakes. Riya’s contribution is there in all of these cakes. Especially, her Birthday cake was planned and designed by her with a little help from me. The specification given to me was a, 2 stack chocolate cake with Marshmallow toppings with Dolphin and sea animals figurines. Actually, she opted to do this cake as her Birthday present and we did the baking and decoration from scratch the whole day. I can see the love and passion in her for cooking already. The previous day of her birthday is our wedding anniversary and I planned to make Carrot cinnamon cake, which came out too good. With  Lots of shredded carrot , mild sweetness and bit of cinnamon flavoring, it was just perfect for the occasion.

Carrot & Butter cream iced cake( Wedding Anniversary cake)

Riya’s Dolphin and Aquarium cake.

Chocolate cupcake and lemon buttercream icing  for Riya’s school friends.

We celebrated Kesav’s Birthday with a special cake. I tried Japanese cotton soft sponge cheese cake this time. It tastes and feels just like its name – super soft and melt in mouth. This time one thing  was sure that  I didn’t wanted to be in the kitchen on the special day baking without having time to spend in other activities.

So, I planned and prepared the cake couple of days before. Prepared jelly with readymade jello mix.  After baking and feeling the texture of the cake, I immediately felt like trying it out. It was super soft and super delicious. The first two cakes we enjoyed even before the birthday.

Again, I  had to bake the same cake but it was fun and I could experiment and make slight changes and adjust proportions.

Japanese  cotton soft sponge cake with jelly fruit topping for Kesav’s Birthday.

Japanese cotton soft sponge cake.

Riya made these mini square cakes, decorated wonderfully and presented this beautiful jelly fruit cake to her dad.

Mini square cake’s specially made for her Dada by Riya.

 
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