Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mixed Fried Rice

Stir-fried vegetable, egg, chicken, shrimps and rice.    
My Version


I am totally clueless if I am asked about the origin of Fried Rice. All I know is that I loveee it ;) and it is a very common Asian stir-fry usually made with left over steamed rice and anything and everything lurking in the back of your fridge, in a large hot wok. Of course, every region has its own variations in the preparation, but, basically it's an extremely simple dish which needs no exact ingredients or even measures and just about anything can go into a fried rice.
Usually cold, leftover cooked or steamed rice is used in making fried rice. That is, rice left in the fridge overnight. But, I often make fried rice with freshly cooked rice. If you get it right, then it won't turn mushy. Otherwise there are chances that you could end up with a really sticky and mushy rice. Let's hope that won't happen when you follow me.. ;)
You will need medium to long grained rice to make fried rice. Do not use short rice or sushi rice. I usually use medium grain Thai jasmine rice or basmati rice.

A large wok is ideal for making fried rice, but, you could also make it in a big pan or skillet if you do not have a wok. If you are cooking a large quantity, then it's ideal to cook each ingredient individually and finally bring them all together before the final mixing. I prefer a non-stick wok, to minimize the use of oil.

Ingredients :









Thai jasmine rice or Basmati rice
-

2 cups

Oil (Olive, sesame seed or peanut oil)
-

As required

Shallots (Spring onion)
-

2 small stems

Garlic
-

3-4 nos.

Celery
-

1 long stem

Green chili (Optional)
-

As required

Fresh eggs
-

3-4 nos.

Chicken (Optional) (finely diced)
-

1 cup

Shrimp (Optional) (Shelled and cleaned)
-

1/2 cup

Mixed vegetables (Fresh or Frozen)
I have used Carrot, Beans and Cabbage
-

As preferred or
1/2 cup each

Black pepper
-

As required

White pepper
-

As required

Soya sauce
-

As required

Salt
-

To taste


Preparation Method :

Rinse and Strain the rice.
Boil 5 cups of water and then add the rice to it and cook until rice is almost 80% cooked.


Strain the rice and quickly rinse with cold water and leave the rice to completely strain and dry. The rice should completely cool, so make the rice in advance. If you use rice that's still hot, you could end up with a sticky and mushy fried rice. Never take chances! Make sure you fluff the rice to break down clumps, if any.

Make sure all your vegetables, chicken and other ingredients are ready, 'coz fried rice is basically a game of stir fry and mixing.


Preheat the wok on high heat. Swirl in some oil. Make sure your oil is really hot. Into it add the eggs. Once the sides start bubbling, gently scramble the eggs. Season with some salt and pepper.


Make sure you do not overcook the eggs. It will become too dry. Remove it as soon as it's almost done and a little soggy.


Swirl in some more oil. Then add the chicken and season it with some salt and pepper and drizzle some soy sauce over it. We need regular soy sauce. Not the thick nor the thin one.


Once the chicken is half cooked, add the shrimps. If you do not want shrimps, you could skip it and continue cooking the chicken. Do not cook it too much. An almost 95% is apt. Allow it to retain a little moisture or it will turn rubbery and dry. Remove from the wok.


Again, Swirl the wok with some oil. Add the chopped chili and crushed garlic. Chili is optional, only if you prefer spicy fried rice.


Then quickly add the celery. Celery is usually not a common ingredient used in fried rice. But, I have noticed that it gives the fried rice a very special flavour. Try it.. :) That reminds me to mention about  Mono sodium glutamate (MSG), usually know by its brand name, Ajinomoto.  It is a sodium salt of  naturally occurring glutamic acid said to be a taste/ flavour enhancer and is used by many restaurants, especially the Indian-Chinese restaurants. There have been numerous debates and arguments about the health effects of this MSG. Well, I am in for no arguments! ;) Therefore I am avoiding any controversial ingredients from my cooking :) Let's try celery instead and see if it substitutes taste enhancers.. :D

Then, add the vegetables. You could also use frozen veggies. Make sure you quickly rinse it under tap water and strain off the water completely before adding.


Quickly season with salt. Salt helps retain the colour of the vegetables and helps give the fried rice a beautiful colour. :)


Season with crushed pepper and drizzle on some soya sauce. Make sure your flame is on high and you and stirring and tossing the veggies to evenly cook them. I like my veggies crunchy and fresh, so I prefer not cooking them for too long.


Once the veggies are almost as how u want them, add the already scrambled eggs, stir fried chicken and prawns. You could also choose to skip this process for a vegetable fried rice.


The Next important ingredient that adds that last touch of flavour to the fried rice is white pepper. White pepper is basically skinned black pepper. But, the flavour is very different from normal black pepper powder. Give a quick stir and bring down the heat now.


Then gently add the cooked rice. You can see how each grain is separate. There aren't any lumps and the rice is firm to work on. That's exactly how we want it. Pour in some soy sauce on the rice.


Then, stir everything swiftly but gently in the wok slowly raising the heat. Stir well enough so that the rice mixes well with the other ingredients and continue doing it for 3-4 minutes on high heat. Taste a bit at this stage to see if you require any more seasoning. Your rice would be a bit under-cooked now, you needn't worry.  That's exactly how you need it to be. Just turn off the flame and cover with a tight lid and leave the rice to cook for 5-10 minutes. The rice and the other ingredients will cook well through in that heat and the rice will absorb all the flavours into it.


Open the lid just before serving and fluff up the rice. Sprinkle on some chopped spring onion. You could use the green part and the white part as well. Give the rice one quick final toss and it's ready to serve.

Garnish with some more chopped spring onion.


Serves 5-6 people. Who are moderate eaters of course ;)
Enjoy :) 



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tea / Coffee and Breakfast Station


Freshly brewed coffee or tea, quick handy breakfast, snacks, treats, in the serenity of your own home, creating a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere for both you and near and dears is indeed the best space you will love in your house. Trust me on that.. 😊 I have been loving mine! 😊




How do you go about setting up one at home? Here are few Ideas and Tips you might want to consider as a guideline.


1.      Choose a suitable Space and Theme : 

Choose a space that's convenient and functional. Make sure you have easy access to water with a water dispenser or a sink nearby. Go by a colour theme of your choice. Do a little research for inspirations and ideas from magazines or Pinterest. Stroll through your favourite stores and do a little planning before you eventually make any major investments. Outline a design and make a list of things you may already have in hand and another list of things you might consider buying. Also make sure you find place for your waste that's well kept.



 2.      Start with a Sturdy Base : 

Choose a sturdy and strong Base. You could either have a mini kitchen cabinet with an overhead as well, set exclusively for your counter or any sturdy table would serve your purpose well.


 3.      Containers and Jars : 

Containers and Jars would serve as storage, as well as enhance the overall look of your bar. So make sure you go by a uniform colour / material theme.

4.      Organizers : 

Organizing is the key to having a functional and easy to access breakfast bar. Make sure it's simple and neat and everything contained is visible. Group like items together and store in an appealing manner. Use storage bins and baskets to store and neatly organize miscellaneous snack packets and items together. You could even label the baskets if required.    


5.      Mugs and Canisters : 
Mugs / cups / jars / travel mugs / cereal bowls / spoons etc are the must haves of your breakfast bar. Make sure you choose it aesthetically. 

6.      Tea and Coffee : 
Stock your favourite tea / coffee collections. Stock your regular brands and buy occasionally used brands only when a batch finishes. Be aware of what you stock up. You don't want to clutter your space with things you end up never using. You could also add Cocoa powder, Cinnamon / Cardamom powder, honey or sweeteners of your choice etc. to your collection. 


7.      Fruits / Cereals / Nuts / Seeds : 
What completes the Breakfast bar, is having a one stop access to everything you might require for a quick breakfast / snacking  or refreshment. That includes fruits, your family's favourite cereals, Nuts and Dried fruits, snack bars, oats, healthy seeds, spices, etc. It's all up to you to personalize the choices according to the eating habits of your family and you.

 8.      Appliances : 

You know best of what you require. Keep it minimal though. If you are a coffee lover, a basic drip maker or a pump espresso machine would be something you would fancy. Or, you could keep it simple with either a coffee machine or a simple kettle would do great too.


9.      Utility Decor : 
Adding a few mood awakening fresh or artificial flowers, mugs with cute / fulfilled quotes, a frame with inspiring quotes, Or even a chalk board painted wall etc. could enhance your space with an alluring and heart-warming feel. Make it the inspiring, and relaxing space in your home, which will instantly boost you with zest and energy. A recharging spot.. :)  


Take a chance to express your taste & style. Put a little thought into it, making it one of the most beautiful spots in your home, where both your health and mental tranquility is taken good care of..  



Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pineapple Pudding

Simple pineapple and cream pudding
Shared version


As I just sat down to write this recipe, I have a stream of nostalgia gushing down. There are some people who come by in your life as total strangers, but turn out to be an inevitable part of your life. So did I meet this little one year old charm and her young and cheerful mom more than 2 decades ago.. :) Today they are one of the closest to my heart! Shajeena and her daughter Shadin. Shadin has always had a place of a sibling in my house and seen her grow from the little one year old toddler to a doctor now.. :) Her name deserves a mention on this blog, 'coz she was the first to whom I revealed my idea of starting a blog to. No doubt, she was the right person! The step-by-step pictorials, was her suggestion. She had great faith in me and was and is always there to give me the right boost and push I need! :) Love you Sha! :)

Shajeena, her mom, is a dentist by profession, a homemaker, a mom of two! Oops! four! ;) her darling cats included! :) and a woman whom I have never seen sit idle! Utterly enthusiastic and always on her toes.. She's either at work, or cooking, or shopping, or cleaning and trust me, the list would never end! Yes, a superwoman in the literal sense! A humble human being I truly adore. We could go on and on talking to one another for hours without the scarcity of topics and we ought to catch up atleast over the phone once in a while to share all of each other's life's happenings :) That's something very contrary to the me most people know of, who is impatient and restless when it comes to talking over the phone! Well, that might explain the comfort I find in her company.

Not even she would have realized the influence she has been and a part she has played in molding me into the person I am today. Someone who has encouraged the creative side in me with lots of motivation and I have indeed picked a few things down the lane from her. This Pineapple pudding being one!! :) Yes, I learnt this from her. With a couple of innovations here and there, the basic recipe sticks to its origin. This dessert was known for being a show-stopper at her place for get-togethers! Fancy, but extremely simple dessert with no cooking required!! Yes! NO COOKING required! :)   

Ingredients :









Plain Vanilla cake
-

2 medium loafs sliced

Canned Pineapple with the syrup
-

Large can

Water
-

1 cup






For the whipped cream :




(Method of preparation and ingredients required could vary with brand, so please follow  instructions on sachet or pack)

Whipping cream mix
-

2 sachets

Milk (full cream)
-

As mentioned on pack

Vanilla essence
-

As mentioned on pack






Almond flakes (if available)
-

A large handful

Pistachio
-

1/3 cup







Preparation Method :

Give the pineapples a quick chop into chewable chunks.


Add the syrup from the can and pour in the water.


Whip up the cream.




You could make this pudding in a single layer like how the original recipe is, or make it in 2 layers like how I do sometimes. This two layer one is more rich! Try it! In a shallow bottom dish lay the cake slices. We need plain vanilla sponge cake. You could also use a homemade one. In that case, that would be the only cooking required.


Then  crumb some cake slices to fill in the gaps.     


Spoon out half of the pineapple mixture onto the cake.  Make sure the cake drinks the juice well and it moistens the cake throughout. Then garnish with some almond flakes. That's one of my innovations and it's good to add a crunch to the pudding.


Then scoop out half the whipped cream and spread evenly.


Layer the rest of the cakes again above the cream and repeat the steps again.
ü Crumb the cake and fill.
ü Spoon out the rest of the pineapple mixture.
ü garnish with almond flakes.
ü Scoop out the remaining cream and spread evenly.



Crush the pistachios.



Sprinkle over the cream.



Wrap with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum. The more you cool, the better! 


A fancy pudding in minutes. 


Happy weekend folks! :)