Savoury Crepes with a Crisp Baby Cos Lettuce Salad

Like Paris, Crepes are always a good idea…

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I have been living away from home now for the past eight years. Nothing can ever replace Bombay or India in my life, but Australia is surely feeling more like home with each passing year. It is such a wonderful country! Full of natural beauty, laid back lifestyle, wonderful people and a melting pot of different cultures. Honestly, it would be hard to define who is a real Aussie because everyone here has their roots from another country. This is what makes Australia a truly magical place.

Imagine the food scene in a country where people from different origins live together in harmony! I could take a culinary cruise around the world all in a days time just by choosing what and where to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Moreover living in Melbourne which is the art, food and culture Mecca of Australia, I have had the privilege of eating beautiful food and meeting wonderful people from different countries.

Speaking of meeting people from other countries, I met some wonderful French expatriates whilst working with a French company and we are now really good friends. The connection was in some ways quite instant because the French love their food as much as I love mine! From social gatherings to serious work meetings talking about food seemed to navigate through every conversation seamlessly. Although I am yet to find out why French women don’t get fat!

Today’s recipe is a shoutout to all the wonderful Frenchies in my life. I love that you take your food seriously and make it look just as beautiful as you make it tasty. While I may not eat Foie gras or Pâté, I love hearing you gush about it. I look forward to many more culinary adventures with you, but for now I just want to thank you for introducing me to Crepes. My world has never been the same again!

Ingredients: 25  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

For the Crepes
  • 250 gms of plain flour
  • 500 ml of milk 
  • Two free-range eggs
  • Two tablespoons of melted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Oil for cooking
For the Sauce
  • One leek (white part only), finely chopped
  • Four to five pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • 125 gms of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Three tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 300 ml of light cooking cream
  • 100 ml of white wine (I used a Riesling)
  • Two tablespoons of butter
  • Salt to season
For the Topping
  • Three strips of bacon (for the non vegetarian topping)
  • One medium-sized brown onion, finely sliced
  • One teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of cracked pepper
For the Salad
  • One bunch of baby cos lettuce
  • Quarter teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • One teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • One teaspoon lemon juice
  • Toasted black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

To make the crepes mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. The batter should be thin and smooth. 

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Spray a medium, non-stick frying pan with oil. Heat over medium heat. Pour approximately 2.5 tablespoons of batter into pan. Swirl to cover base. Cook for two to three minutes or until light golden. Turn over and cook for one minute. Transfer to a plate. Cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

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To make the sauce, melt butter in a pan. Add garlic and cook until aromatic. Now add the leeks and cook until soft.

Increase the heat to high and add the white wine. Cook until the sauce has reduced and the wine smell has evaporated.

Now add chopped parsley, cream and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt as required and let the sauce simmer on a low heat for another three to four minutes.

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To make the toppings, cook the bacon until crispy and cut it in cubes. For the vegetarian topping if using an oven pre heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.  Combine the onion slices, rosemary and olive oil and bake until the onion slices are golden brown. If cooking on a gas stove top, heat olive oil in a pan. Add the onions and rosemary, cook on a medium heat until onions are golden and caramelised.

To make the salad, wash the lettuce bunch thoroughly, break the leaves and assemble on a plate. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Taste the dressing and increase the quantity of either ingredient depending on your taste. Pour the dressing on the lettuce and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

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To assemble the Crepes, place crepes on a warming serving plate. Add one to two tablespoons of the leek sauce in the middle and roll the crepe by folding both sides towards the centre and turn it over. Repeat the same for the remaining crepes. Drizzle remaining sauce on top of the crepes, garnish with the desired topping and serve alongside the chilled and crisp baby cos salad.

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Aloo Puri (Potato Curry with Puffed Crispy Bread)

Fit for a king and queen…

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Thanks to the long weekend and some friends visiting from interstate I decided to get a little ambitious in the kitchen and whip up a rather elaborate meal. Aloo puri, a traditional North Indian breakfast which screams indulgence and decadence with every bite. This dish is definitely not for the faint hearted.

The potato curry is made in a rich tomato gravy spiced with whole spices and masalas. The puri or puffed bread is the perfect companion to go with the potato curry. This dish makes you appreciate just how diverse Indian food is, breakfast is beyond toast and eggs or cereal. It’s fair to say this breakfast dish is fit for a king or queen.

Ingredients: 18    Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

For the potato curry

  • Four to five potatoes, boiled
  • One can of tomatoes
  • One onion, finely chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • Two green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon panch poran mix
  • One teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder)
  • 1.5 teaspoon sugar
  • One black cardamom pod
  • Three to four cloves
  • One tablespoon ghee
  • Salt to taste

For the puri

  • Two cups of flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons of carom seeds
  • Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Two tablespoons of yogurt
  • Water to knead the dough

Lets start by making the dough – mix all the ingredients in a bowl and knead the dough and keep it aside for 15 to 20 minutes before rolling the puris out.

While the dough is resting let’s make the curry. Heat a tablespoon of ghee in a pan, once the ghee had melted add the onions and cook them until translucent. Now add the garlic and green chillies, followed by the whole spices including cumin seeds, cloves, panch poran mix (this includes fennel seeds, black mustard seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds) and the smashed black cardamom pod.

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Once the onions are slightly carmelised add a can of crushed tomatoes and let the gravy cook for about seven to ten minutes. Now add the powdered spices including turmeric and amchur, if you cant find amchur you can also use about two tablespoons of lemon juice. Season the tomato paste with salt and sugar as required.

Now add the potatoes to the tomato gravy followed by two cups of water. Give the curry a good stir and cover the saucepan with a lid and let the gravy simmer on a low flame for about ten to twelve minutes.

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While the potatoes are simmering you can roll out the puris, break the dough into small pieces and shape it into round balls. Spread a little oil on your bench or very little flour (don’t use a lot of flour as the puri will burn when you fry it) and roll out each small round to the size of a saucer.

Once you have rolled out all the puris, in a deep saucepan bring oil to a boil. Drop one puri into the oil at a time and cook for about a minute on each side. The puri should puff out and become golden. Remove and drain on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

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There it is your breakfast/brunch inspiration fit for royalty. This long weekend my friends in Australia and India I hope you have a fantastic holiday. Don’t forget to eat, drink and celebrate, perhaps in style with aloo puri.

Rava Dosa (Crispy Semolina Pancake)

 

Necessity is the mother of all invention…

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Sometimes I am amazed at how much I love food! I will be eating breakfast and thinking about lunch, while eating lunch think about what I am going to cook for dinner and while eating dinner I will be thinking about exciting recipe ideas for the following day. At times I have found myself thinking of food at work too, sometimes in between important meetings. Perhaps the saying ‘Live to Eat’ is for people like me.

Like most days one night while eating dinner all I could think of was being back home in Bombay and gorging on crispy rava dosa. The next day I had to have rava dosa and that is why necessity is the mother of all invention!

Rava dosa or semolina pancake is a great invention of South India. It is as good in flavour as normal dosa but takes less than half the effort and time because you don’t have to ferment the batter. You can stuff the dosa with a potato or meat filling or even have it plain, either way you will be going back for more.

Ingredients: 10    Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2 – 3 (depending on how hungry you are)

  • One cup raw semolina
  • One cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup plain all purpose flour
  • 1/2 inch grated ginger
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Two- three chopped green chillies
  • Six to eight chopped curry leaves
  • Four to five cups of water
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil or ghee to brush

In a bowl mix all the ingredients except the oil/ghee. The batter should be really thin for it to yield crispy dosas. Keep the batter aside for about 30 minutes prior to using it.

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One tip: in case you don’t have rice flour don’t fret, simply take a cup of rice blitz it in the blender until fine and then sieve it before using.

Heat a teaspoon of oil/ghee in a pan and with a ladle pour the batter into the pan. On a medium heat let the dosa cook.

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Once you see the edges getting some colour add another teaspoon of oil/ghee around the edges of the dosa. Give the dosa about seven to eight minutes on one side, then flip the dosa and let cook for another two to three minutes.

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There you have your very own lip smackingly delicious rava dosa. Serve it with coriander chuntey or coconut chutney or even just devour it by itself. I promise it will be love at first bite.

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Aloo Paratha (Indian Crispy Potato Flatbread)

You haven’t eaten it all till you have eaten an Aloo Paratha…

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Happy 2015 LSD readers!!!

While most of you are thinking of healthier options for breakfast after all the indulgence over Christmas and New Years, the party never seems to end in a Punjabi household. The definition of healthy is two aloo parathas instead of four.

It is safe to say aloo paratha is the king of all breakfasts and if you don’t agree it’s simply because you have not eaten it the right way. First you have to drench it in ghee while cooking it and then top it up with a dollop of butter and a side of pickle. Use your hands to devour this crispy, flavoursome and greasy flatbread.

Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

For the dough
  • 500 gms of plain flour (I used wholewheat flour)
  • 250 ml of water
For the stuffing
  • Four medium sized potatoes peeled and boiled
  • 1/2 an onion finely chopped
  • One tablespoon of finely chopped coriander
  • Three to four finely chopped green chillies (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • One teaspoon of toasted cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon of chaat masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Three tablespoons of ghee

In a bowl sieve the flour, as recommended in my previous flatbread post get the flour from your Indian grocer as the plain flour in the supermarkets does not yield soft parathas. Add water and knead the dough, let the dough rest for 15 – 20 minutes prior to making the parathas.

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While the dough it resting lets make the stuffing. Add the boiled potatoes and all the other ingredients in a bowl, season with salt as required and mash the potatoes. Your stuffing is now ready!

Break the dough in six equal parts and roll it into a round ball by moulding it between the palm of your hands. Do the same with the stuffing make it into a round ball.

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Now dust the dough ball with plain flour and roll it into a medium sized circle. Place the potato stuffing in the centre, take the edge of the dough and start pleating as well as bringing the pleats in the centre.

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Dust the stuffed dough ball with a bit of flour and roll it out to the size of a roti. Place the paratha on a hot tava or frying pan and cook the paratha on both sides until lightly browned. Brush the parath with a generous helping of ghee or olive oil and cook either side for one or two minutes until crispy.

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Your lip smackingly delicious aloo paratha is ready to be served. I would highly recommend serving them with a dollop of ghee and a side of pickle. I was a bit cheeky and added a side of mango lassi too to wash it all down. One word….DELICIOUS!

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Namkeen Parathas (Savoury Indian Flatbread)

East or west Parathas are the best…

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I miss a lot about India, but most of all I miss the food. Especially my mothers cooking. I don’t know what it is about mothers and their cooking, its like a slice of heaven in every bite. One of the things my mum makes are these perfectly square, really simply but utterly delicious namkeen parathas. These bad boys were a perfect accompaniment to delicious curries, dals and subzis (spiced vegetables) from Mumma’s kitchen.

Since moving to Australia I never really made Indian flatbreads at home, after all ordering a butter drenched naan from my favourite takeaway restaurant was easier. Then one day the craving for namkeen parathas struck and it was motivation enough to get my hands dirty.

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Now its time for you to get your hands dirty and enjoy the lip smackingly delicious namkeen parathas.

 

Ingredients: 5    Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves : 6
  • 500 gms of plain wholemeal flour 
  • 250 ml of water
  • Plain flour (extra to dust the parathas)
  • Ghee or olive oil (to brush the parathas)
  • Salt to taste

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In a bowl sieve the flour, I recommend getting the flour from your Indian grocer as the plain flour in the supermarkets does not yield soft parathas. Add water and knead the dough (this is such a therapeutic process, particularly if you have had a rough day), let the dough rest for 15 – 20 minutes prior to making the parathas.

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Once the dough is rested break it up into six equal parts and roll the dough into a round ball. Then flatten the dough ball by placing it between your palms and dust it with plain flour.

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Roll out the dough into a medium sized circle, season with a pinch of salt.

Now its time to layer the parathas to get that perfect square paratha. Take one side of the circle, fold it to the centre and do the same for the other side. Now take the two ends of each side and fold them to the centre. Dust the square with some plain flour and roll it out.

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Time to cook our namkeen parathas. Heat a frying pan or tava. Dust the excess flour off the paratha by flipping it between your palms and place it in the pan. 

Cook one side for about one to two minutes and flip it to the other side. Once the paratha is light browned on both sides brush it with ghee or olive oil. Cook the paratha on each side for one minute. Your namkeen paratha is now ready!

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Place the paratha on a plate and cover with aluminium foil, repeat the same procedure with the remaining five dough balls. 

Namkeen parathas can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I served mine  for breakfast with Indian style scrambled eggs that were cooked with onion, chilli and coriander and a side of pickle. You can find a similar scrambled eggs recipe with onion, parsley and cheese here, simply replace the parsley with coriander, add fresh green chillies and drop out the cheese for Indian style scrambled eggs…

Enjoy your namkeen parathas, you have earned them!

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Cinnamon Pancakes

Everybody doesn’t love Raymond, they love Pancakes…

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The whole point of a weekend is to take time to smell the roses, enjoy your coffee and indulge in a leisurely breakfast. Nothing says leisure and comfort like pancakes! This dish is so popular it even has a day commemorated in its honour as ‘Pancake Day’.

Enjoyed by everyone big and small, pancakes are a family friendly breakfast. Not to forget they are so easy to make. If you have young kids get them to sieve the flour, mix the batter or just simply watch you flip the pancakes. 

You can jazz up the humble pancake with exotic spices from your pantry. One such spice is cinnamon, which is found in almost every pantry.

Ingredients: 11         Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4
  • One cup self raising flour
  • One cup plain flour
  • Three cups of milk (I used skim milk)
  • One egg
  • One tablespoon melted butter
  • One teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • One teaspoon vanilla essence
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • For topping chopped fresh fruits
  • Honey or Maple syrup for drizzle 

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In a bowl sieve both types of flour. Then add the milk, egg, melted butter, cinnamon powder, vanilla essence, sugar and a pinch of salt and whisk the batter.

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Spray the frying pan with some olive oil spray. Once the pan is hot, pour the pancake batter in the pan with a ladle. Once a few air bubbles pop and the pancake puffs up, flip it to the other side for a minute. The pancake should be golden brown in colour.

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Make enough pancakes so you can stack them. Drizzle the pancakes with maple syrup or honey, top them up with fresh fruit and serve with a smile!

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