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Tag Archives: meatballs

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

While I was on holiday in India this year, I purchased a couple of cookbooks to add to my collection. And one of the books I bought was ‘Dastarkhwan – e – Awadh’ by Sangeeta Bhatnagar and R.K.Saxena.

A simple cookbook that celebrates the royal kitchens of Awadh with recipes dating back to that golden era!

Awadhi cuisine is not just famous, but one that’s held in reverence. The food that came out of the Awadh kitchens had a royal elegance, a restraint yet so rich and inviting that made it synonymous with royalty. Of course it was made for the Nawabs but today, this cuisine is still held in such high esteem for the techniques, attention to ingredients and complexity of flavours.

The authors, Dr Sangeeta Bhatnagar and R.K.Saxena are both culinary historians and their passion to document the food of Awadh resulted in this book. Drafted after much research and speaking to a wide range of people including Nawabs, Chefs and yesteryear royal cooks, this book is a true tribute to the cuisine of Awadh.

It’s a simple book in appearance; reminds me of the old textbooks we used to have in India. No highly styled photographs of the food, but plenty of visuals depicting the people from the region, ingredients, street food, and also dishes presented in a natural manner.

There’s a brief introduction to the royal era of Awadh (the present day Lucknow), a historical perspective to the cuisine followed by explanation of terms that’s commonly used in Awadh cuisine. For eg: there are unique techniques employed in cooking Awadh food and these are explained along with reference to ingredients and other procedures that are a must know to understand the cooking style and culinary culture.

Clearly this is a cookbook that I would be cooking a lot from, but for that first recipe, I zeroed in on this lipsmacking Kofta Pulao.

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao - thespiceadventuress.com

Pulao is often considered to be second grade in comparison to a biryani. There’s a general attitude that a pulao is made when one does not want to indulge in the extravagance of a biryani. But that is so wrong and an Awadhi style pulao is a prime example of that.

Making a good pulao requires as much skill as a biryani. And it all starts with cooking the rice perfectly. Always made using aged long grain rice which must be fragrant, aromatic and each grain separate from the other yet cooked perfectly. The flavours are much less complex in a pulao when compared to a biryani; there are far fewer spices and aromatics and it is a subtle play of those few spices that make a pulao so delicious.

Just as the name suggests, this is a kofta pulao, literally translated as meatballs and rice.

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao - thespiceadventuress.com

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

The meatballs are shaped small in this recipe, unlike the larger ones that we are accustomed to eating in pasta or as snacks. Though mutton would be used traditionally, I have used lamb mince to make koftas, which is flavoured with just cinnamon and cardamom.

Another important ingredient is ghee or clarified butter. In traditional Awadhi cooking, tempered ghee is used but here I have just used plain ghee to keep things simple. Oil can be used but would hardly provide any flavour, and ghee is way healthier anyway.

The rice and koftas are cooked separately and then layered; the cooking process is then finished using the dum technique. For those who aren’t aware, the dum technique is where all the ingredients are placed inside one pot and the edges sealed using dough. Slow charcoal heat is applied on top and also on bottom and the food is allowed to slow cook with minimal heat.

Now most of us would use a modern dum technique in our homes. You could either place all the ingredients in a casserole dish, seal using a foil and finish cooking at low heat in the oven. Or you could follow my technique – since I don’t like to use foil, I place a tea towel over the pot and then place the lid on top so that it’s really tight and no steam escapes. The pot is then placed on a flat tawa or directly on heat but at its lowest setting. Ensure that the edges of the towel hanging out is scrunched up; we don’t want to start a fire!!

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

So let’s get onto the recipe for this delicious Kofta Pulao;

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms aged basmati (long grained) rice; washed and soaked for atleast 1 hour
  2. 500gms lamb (or mutton) mince
  3. 1 inch ginger
  4. 5 medium garlic cloves
  5. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  6. 10gms roasted gram flour
  7. 1 inch cinnamon stick
  8. 3 whole green cardamom
  9. Salt, to season
  10. Ghee (clarified butter)
  11. 5 medium red onions
  12. 1 ½ tbsp rose water
  13. 1 pinch saffron
  14. 250 ml milk

Method:

  1. Grind the cinnamon and cardamom to a fine powder.
  2. Grind the garlic and ginger to a paste (add a few drops of water if necessary)
  3. Also grind 2 onions to a coarse paste and keep aside.
  4. Finely slice the remaining 3 onions; fry in ghee till golden brown, drain and keep aside.
  5. Into the mince, add half of the cinnamon-cardamom powder, roasted gram flour, 1 tbsp ghee and salt to season. Knead well to ensure that all the ingredients are mixed well and the mince has a fine consistency.
  6. Take small portions of the mince and roll into small balls (slightly larger than marbles). You will roughly get about 30 -35 balls. Heat ghee in a pan and fry the meatballs; keep aside. (Take care not to overcook or the meatballs taste dry)
  7. To cook the rice, heat 1 ½ litres water. Season with salt and add the remaining cardamom-cinnamon powder. Add the washed rice and parboil; drain and keep aside.
  8. In the same pan that the onions were fried (add more ghee only if necessary), add the onion and ginger garlic paste. Sauté on medium heat till the rawness disappears. Then add chilli powder and sauté till the ghee separates.
  9. Add the fried meatballs to this and add 1 cup (250 ml) water. Cook till most of the water has disappeared. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  10. Meanwhile soak saffron in warm milk.
  11. To finally assemble the dish, place a large deep bottom vessel on low heat and add half of the cooked rice. Then layer with the cooked koftas/meatballs, add half of the rose water and saffron milk. Then add the remaining rice followed by the remaining rose water and saffron milk.
  12. Seal the edges (read description above for dum techniques) of the vessel and cook covered on low heat for about 20 minutes.
  13. Open just before serving and garnish with fried onions.
  14. Serve with a raita

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

 

 

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Chicken Meatball Salad

Do you cook with your children?

Not the once in a while ‘school holiday’ cooking but do you involve your kids in your everyday cooking and food related activities?

From a very early age, I made sure that I got Adi interested in food and cooking. Initially it began with taking him to the market where I taught him to identify the different fruits and vegetables. I would encourage him to touch and feel the produce or ask him to pick out some for our shopping basket. In fact, Adi learnt the different colours and his initial 1, 2,3s…. at our local vegetable shop.

As he grew older and learnt to read and write, I made sure he was with me for most of our weekly grocery shopping trips. He learnt more about the different fruits and vegetables, also learning how to pick out fresh produce but at the same time, I encouraged him to pick out wobbly and misshapen ones that are still fresh indirectly teaching him about food wastage.

And now he is my favourite shopping partner. Not just with the veggies but he is also quite well versed at picking out most ingredients at the supermarket, choosing the deli meat every week for his lunch box etc…

I have also consciously involved Adi in household chores from cleaning, arranging his room and toys, helping me out in the kitchen etc… Initially he wouldn’t be interested but now he sees it as a responsibility and he understands that he needs to do his share too.

Now there are so many advantages to this but above all, I wanted him to develop two important life skills – learning to cook so that he is not dependent on anyone for his needs and also helping him understand that the kitchen, cooking, cleaning etc… is not just a woman’s job.

I wouldn’t claim to be a perfect mom (that phrase doesn’t exist!), but consciously incorporating certain rules or principles has made him a largely responsible and flexible child. It has been hard and there were plenty of times when I lost patience especially because I started very early on, when he was about 2 years of age. But I had the belief that it was the right path which will show results after a few years. And it did…

Adi is 9 years old now, a happy boy who enjoys food and not a fussy eater at all. He enjoys doing his chores, has a flexible disposition, responsible and accountable; all those years of gently steering him from behind seems to have had a positive effect so far.

I am not writing this to brag; every child is unique and has both strengths and weaknesses. Adi has his share too. But I write this for the many young parents who struggle either due to lack of knowledge or think that they have time to rectify certain things when the child is older. And food always seems to be an issue, especially getting the child to make healthy food choices as he grows up.

You have to start really young with children that it almost becomes a way of life for them because it’s so hard to change ways later. And we most definitely can’t raise our kids like our parents did because the needs of this generation are way different. Agree there are some traditional values that remain same but largely our lifestyles have changed which means our parenting must too.

Today, we are making one of Adi’s favourite salads – a Chicken Meatball Salad.

Chicken Meatball Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

As I already mentioned, it’s easy to get him to eat veggies and salads are a regular feature at our dinner table. But once in a while, we make this chicken meatball salad which doubles up as his school snack the next day.

Whenever we make this salad, Adi’s job is to help me roll out the meatballs and also preparing the dressing (he loves the shake shake part) and finally tossing it all up.

The meatballs are simple and are great as a snack. So I always double up the quantities and freeze some to have as an after school snack later in the week. And with meatballs, you can do so much….add it to pastas, a curry base or sandwiches.

The salad is a beautiful medley of our favourite veggies and herbs. Use what’s in your refrigerator or the combinations that your children like to eat.

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  1. 500gms chicken mince
  2. 1 slice white bread (soaked in ¼ cup milk)
  3. 2 sprigs rosemary
  4. 1 tbsp fresh parsley; finely chopped
  5. 1 tsp sweet paprika
  6. 1 tsp lemon zest
  7. Salt, to season
  8. Black pepper, to season
  9. Vegetable oil; for shallow frying the meatballs

For the salad:

  1. Salad greens
  2. ½ punnet cherry tomatoes; halved
  3. 1 Lebanese cucumber; diced
  4. 1 yellow bell pepper; diced
  5. A handful of olives
  6. 3 bread slices; to make croutons
  7. 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil; for dressing
  8. Regular olive oil; for shallow frying the meatballs
  9. Lemon juice
  10. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Squeeze out the excess milk from the bread and tear into smaller pieces.
  2. Add this to a large bowl along with the chicken mince, rosemary, parsley, paprika, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine and shape the mixture into even sized meatballs. Keep aside and allow to rest while you assemble the ingredients for the salad.
  3. In a large salad bowl, assemble the salad leaves and veggies.
  4. To prepare the dressing, add the olive oil to a small jar with a tight lid. Add the juice of ½ lemon and a pinch of salt. Shake vigorously to get an emulsion; taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.
  5. Heat olive oil in a large pan and shallow fry the meatballs in batches.
  6. Add the meatballs to the salad; pour the dressing and toss together to combine.
  7. Serve immediately.

Chicken Meatball Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Fettuccine Carbonara (with Spicy Sausage Meatballs)

Usually I talk about the weather when I am tongue tied or when I can’t think of anything to speak, but today it’s simply because the temperatures are soaring in Melbourne and I just can’t take it anymore.

The new home we moved into does not have air conditioning and the poor fans, there’s only so much it can do. I am a summer person generally but not a fan of these intense heat wave days which leaves you feeling so sick and dehydrated.

Cooking becomes a chore because I like rich, bold, big on flavour dinners but I can’t imagine toiling away in the kitchen making it. Takeaway options in my suburb are rather limited which means I have to do the job anyway.

And thus the carbonara!

Fettuccine Carbonara (with Spicy Sausage Meatballs) - thespiceadventuress.com

There’s hardly any cooking involved for a traditional carbonara; apart from cooking the pasta ofcourse. But I wanted something more meaty and delicious to complete my carbonara experience (without much effort though)! And spicy sausage meatballs were the answer…

Fresh sausages especially the flavoured ones are really delicious; all that you need to do is remove the outer casing and then you get the minced meat to make the meatballs. Easy!

You may use any type of sausage available at the deli but I have chosen hot Sucuk, which is a traditional style famous in the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia. Both plain and hot Sucuk is available, but the hot one adds a lot of oooomph and flavour to an otherwise mild and creamy Carbonara.

Hot Sucuk - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Hot Sucuk - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

As I mentioned, you may use chorizo or any other sausage you wish to. Sucuk is a dry sausage, hence I used an egg to bring the minced meat together, or else the meatballs might disintegrate. If the sausage you are using is not dry, then the addition of the egg is not necessary.

And if you happen to try this recipe out, please do tag me #thespiceadventuress in your post; I love to see your pictures.

Ingredients:

  1. 250gms fettuccine
  2. 1 hot sucuk (approximately 400gms)
  3. 1 whole egg
  4. 150ml thin/cooking cream
  5. 2 egg yolks
  6. 20 gms grated parmesan (extra for garnish)
  7. Salt, to season
  8. 2 tbsp olive oil
  9. 2-3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Method:

  1. Remove the casing of the sucuk and add the minced meat along with 1 egg to a food processor. Blend just enough to combine the egg with the meat.
  2. Divide into small portions and shape into small meatballs.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan and shallow fry the meatballs in batches; keep aside.
  4. Beat the cream, egg yolks, parmesan till well combined in a bowl and season lightly with salt.
  5. Cook the fettuccine according to packet instructions; drain but reserving half a cup of the water in which the pasta was cooked.
  6. Return the pasta to the hot pan, add the cream egg mixture along with the meatballs and toss through. The residual heat in the pasta is enough; do not place on heat or the eggs will scramble. Add the pasta water if the sauce feels too thick.
  7. Garnish with chopped parsley and grated parmesan; serve warm.

Fettuccine Carbonara (with Spicy Sausage Meatballs) - thespiceadventuress.com

Fettuccine Carbonara (with Spicy Sausage Meatballs) - thespiceadventuress.com

Extra Tender Meatballs

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The joy of cooking for your child is priceless. There is so much love and care that goes into making every meal – you wouldn’t think of feeding your child anything less than the best, would you? And I believe this is why every single person remembers and praises his mum’s cooking. It is not the taste, recipe or ingredients but the love a mother adds to every meal she prepares for her child.

And like every other mum, it is the same purity and love that I too add to every meal I cook for my little boy. It is a joy to cook for Adi (as we will call him); he appreciates and loves to eat all kinds of food. I must admit that I am one of the luckiest mums as Adi is not at all fussy about food. Though he has some clear favourites (which include dosa, chutney, pasta etc…), he is quite happy to finish whatever is placed on his plate.

After I got into the blogosphere, he has become my favourite assistant helping me with photography, fetching props and sometimes even modeling – a role he takes on ‘rather seriously.’

2

And for this Mother’s day, I have decided to do things a little different. I want to dedicate this day to thank my son for making me feel the most loved and proudest mama in the world. Thank you Adi – Happy Mother’s day.

Meatballs are every child’s favourite – easy, fuss free snacks and a great way for mums to hide stuff. Well, today I am not hiding anything. Just like the name suggests, these are the most tender and juiciest meatballs I have ever had. A great snack, starter, lunch box addition; make it a meal by adding it to pasta, rice or smash it in pita breads to make a meatball sandwich.

3

You ought to try out this recipe – I am sure it will put a big smile on your child’s face.

Recipe Courtesy – Food 52

Ingredients:

1. Ground beef – 500 gm
2. Red onion – 1 large, finely chopped
3. Garlic – 2 cloves, finely chopped
4. Dry breadcrumbs – ¼ th cup
5. Worcestershire sauce – 2 tsp
6. Parmesan cheese – ¼ cup, finely grated
7. Mayonnaise – 2 tbsp
8. Egg – 1 large, beaten well
9. Salt – to season
10. Freshly milled black pepper – to season
11. Dijon mustard (optional) – 1 tsp
12. Olive oil

Method:

• In a pan, heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil and add the chopped onion and garlic. Season with salt and sauté on medium heat till the onions are soft and light brown. Set aside.
• In a large bowl, combine all the other ingredients except egg and browned onions. Mix well to combine but do not overwork the mixture. Finally add the egg and onions and mix through gently.
• Shape the mixture into 1-1 ½ inch meatballs. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
• Preheat oven to 180°C. In a pan, heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil and brown the meatballs for a couple of minutes.
• Place the meatballs in a baking tray, cover with foil and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes and bake longer if necessary.
• Serve with tomato sauce or dip of choice.

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