Sauces

Vegetable Momo: Steamed Dumplings!

Momo_CoverOkay, we agree.. that was one long break that we took! But you have to believe us when we say… our recipe was ready but the weather was not setting the mood for us to pen the blog post down! The scorching heat of Singapore and then the Sumatra haze deterred us from sharing this delectable Momo dumplings recipe that taste doubly sumptuous during monsoon and winter seasons! But now that the Rain Gods have been kind ( in fact it been raining with hail in few parts of Singapore! ), we are ready to finally bring for you the not-to-miss recipe for this season, shared with us all the way from London, by fellow foodie and very dear Ms. Priya Jain. 

PriyaMomo is a type of dumpling native to Nepal but has a Tibetan influence. It is very similar to dim-sums for its simple and subtle taste but the spicy chutney that traditionally accompanies this Nepalese delight , is what sets it apart! Personally speaking, even the thought of Momo dumplings is enough to bring out the flavors on our palette and best reminisces of Delhi Winters. Be it the favorite momo wale bhaiya at the SDA market, or the van at the Tansen Road, momo  dumpling will easily be our favorite Delhi street food after the famous North-Indian chaat!

But, if you are stuck in a place where you do not get traditional momo dumplings or do not get the vegetarian version or both ( like in my case!).. don’t fret no more! Ms. Priya Jain has shared with us this quick and simple recipe that she learnt from her mother-in -law. She tried it to make delicate and beautifully crafted steamed vegetable momo dumplings. She even gave us simple tips and tricks to make them at home without using the traditional momo basket/steamer.

So here’s what she shared:

Momo wrappers:

The dough for the wrappers is made using simple ingredients:

1 cup Plain Flour

1 tsp Oil

Water to knead into “firm” dough. ( Please note it the dough should not be too soft)

Cover the dough and put aside  until you prepare the filling.

Vegetable Momo

The Filling:

Since we are making vegetarian dumplings here, we are using nutritious vegetables and meat substitutes.  Those who wish to try non-veg version can replace the  ingredients of the filling as per their liking. There is no hard and fast rule for the filling-  you can be inventive and surprise your guests!

Here’s what we used, Ingredients:
Grated vegetables like carrot , cabbage, onions
Nutrela small granules (soya nuggets – substitute for chicken) – soaked in warm water, drained and tightly squeezed
Grated cottage cheese (optional)
Oil – 1 tsp
Salt and Garam Masala- To taste
Directions:
Take oil  and sauté all the vegetables for 5-7 mins . Add some garam masala and salt to taste.
Next, add paneer and soya nuggets then sauté it  further for 5 min
Transfer the mixture in a plate an let it cool.
Tasty Tip!
For spicy , schezuan version of momo dumplings:  You may sauté the vegetable mixture ( as above)  in soya sauce , chili sauce and vinegar. Make sure you adjust your salt and spice accordingly.

Momo

Assembling the Momo dumplings:

Now comes the most creative part of the whole make-at-home-momo experience i.e. assembling them!

Here’s a step by step process for the same:

1. Give the resting dough a final knead  and make small spherical dough balls.

2. Dust the work surface with dry flour and roll out the balls into small circles ( around 3 inches ) using  a rolling pin. ( Press the circular edge gently using fingers,this ensures that the middle of the wrapper is slightly thicker than the edges, so when shaped , the  momo dumplings come out evenly in thickness and texture)

3. Take the circular wrapper, put one spoon of filling in the center and hold all edges together towards the center covering the filling, making the pleats and twist the pleats to ensure that the filling is sealed in.

4.  Till you steam the dumplings, please ensure that the resting dough, rolled momo wrappers or shaped momo dumpling are resting on floured surface covered with a bowl. ( This is to make sure they do not stick to the surface or each other, and don’t become too dry)

Momo

Dips and Sauces:

Since basic Momo dumplings have a bland taste ( and we still love them a lot!), the dip accompanying it adds the required zing!   The quintessential momo dip is the red sauce with loads of chili and garlic like a schezuan paste. But, recently we have seen momo stalls even serving creamy mayonnaise along with momos for those who don’t want to go on the spicy route.

Ms. Priya has been very kind to share with us two interesting dips that go along with her steamed momo recipe! – Red & Green. She shared the basic ingredients and recommends us to adjust the quantity and  flavors as per our taste.

1. The Red Chutney  Momo Dip

Ingredients: Dry Red Chilis, Tomatoes, Garlic, some oil and salt to taste.
Directions: Take oil in a pan over medium heat. Put Red Chili and Garlic and saute them till they start releasing the flavors and fragrance. Now, add roughly chopped  tomatoes and salt. Let it simmer till the tomatoes start leaving oil on the sides.
Cool the mixture and grind it into thick paste and the chutney is done.
 2. The Green Chutney
Ingredients:  Green chilis, Ginger , Garlic, Mint Leaves, Coriander Leaves , Lemon, Raw Mango,  Cumin (jeera) powder and salt to taste.
Directions: Add everything except the lemon in a mixer and grind into a paste. Squeeze lemon on the top and serve fresh.
Both of these chutneys have fresh aroma but unique tastes that make them a great accompaniment to the otherwise bland  momo dumplings!

 

Steaming the dumplings:

The last step before you get to enjoy these delicious vegetable delight is- Steaming them!

Traditionally momo dumplings are steamed in the momo baskets but due to their small size , they have been replaced by large stacked aluminium steamers for commercial purposes!

The idea is to steam the dumplings  in a  double boiler arrangement. Take  large and deep pan and fill it with water up-till about 2 inches from the base and let the water boil.  The other container/plate on which dumplings need to be arranged should have holes/slits for the steam to reach the momo.  This pan is then made to rest over the boiling water in a way that it doesn’t come in contact with the water (using a stand/ring). The entire double boiler arrangement should  ideally be covered  to ensure  that the steam gets trapped  inside to cook the momo dumplings well.

Ms. Priya used her interesting traditional bamboo basket and put it inside the big container for steaming. She also gave us few easily available steamer substitutes:

For main container –  Idli Steamer  ( generally available in Indian Kitchens), Pressure cooker without the whistle, Rice cooker or any deep pan with heavy lid that loosely traps the steam can be used.

To replace momo stand – Any flat plate with small holes ( generally used in the kitchen to cover food), flat based Sieve or Channi ( it has holes and basic round ones can fit into most of the containers) should work well.

Directions: Irrespective of what you use, the basic steps ( as depicted in the pic below) shall remain the same.  Prepare momo plate well by greasing it with oil so the dumplings do not stick to the surface. Arrange the dumplings at a little distance from each other. Cover and let it Steam for about 10-15 mins. Enjoy  the momo dumplings hot and steaming with delicious chutneys!

Momo

 

Hope this gives you a good idea about how to make this delectable delights in your kitchen.  The process might sound a li’l long drawn but when you do these steps parallely it can really be made in a jiffy( prepare chutney in advance,  let the filling cook alongside while you knead the dough, put water to boil in the steamer when you are shaping the dumplings). Believe us,  in the end, they are really worth it!

So, it is time you  give those deep fried pakodas, a break; on the next drizzly day enjoy these delicate steamed momo dumplings that would tantalize your taste buds and comfort your soul!

Momo

We again thank Ms. Priya and her MIL  for sharing such an interesting recipe and wonderful pictures with us. We look forward to such entries where not only the guests and their recipes but also the pictures help us in weaving the stories! 

Enjoy the monsoon season and keep sharing!

Cheers,

Team 156Hungerlane

Categories: Entree, Sauces | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Restaurant Review: New York Fries

We are back and we are munching… this time its HOT n CRISP FRIES! Yes, we are talking about the thick Julienne-d deep fried potatoes or pomme frites ( as called in France). I think I can take liberty in saying that Fries are enjoyed by all age groups. In fact, Fries today have become one of the first things that toddlers start nibbling on!

You must be wondering why are we talking about something as basic as Fries here! Well, we recently visited a restaurant that serves only Fries with interesting toppings..  New York Fries (NYF)!  

Though the origin of fries is still debatable, most attribute it in France and are therefore often called as French Fries. Then why is this restaurant called New York Fries ? No, it doesn’t even have a franchise in New York yet, in fact not even in America!  Actually, the owners got inspired by the fries they tasted in New York and wanted to let the whole world taste them. They now have outlets in Canada, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Bahrain and few other parts of middle east.

On our recent travel trip, we had a chance to visit the New York Fries outlets in both Hong Kong and Macau. Believe me,  nothing is as satisfying on cold sunny December afternoon as Hot crisp munchies accompanied by a beverage. It was our day to visit the pier at the Stanley ( a peninsular town in southern district of Hong Kong) Apparently, NYF had recently opened its outlet at the Stanley Plaza and we were happy with our serendipitous find!

NYF_Stanley_hungerlane

NYF at Stanley Plaza (Amphitheatre Area)

What’s different?

 At NYF,  fries are made from fresh russet Burbank potatoes, hand cut leaving the potato skin on. The potatoes are then cooked in non hydrogenated, trans fat-free sunflower oil, which is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol free. The Fries are accompanied by brilliant topping options, the poutine being my favorite.  Poutine is NYF’s signature trans fat-free gravy and it’s super delicious.

NYF_Hongkong

Our request for a photo was promptly granted!

The Menu

Though the menu comprises of many interesting variations, the non-vegetarians enjoy more options to choose from Pork , Braised Beef to Butter Chicken. Irrespective of what you order, you have a Toppings Bar open for you to make additions as per your choice. The Topping Bar gives you an array of fresh ingredients to add to your already delicious fries. Apart from fresh chopped tomatoes, jalapeno, olives relish etc., the condiments like vinegar , tabasco and pepper sauces are also available to enhance the flavors  and adjust them according to your taste buds, and yes all the things on this counter are Free of Cost! (Does that ring a bell??)

NYF_Counter_Hungerlane

Counter with Toppings

We ordered the interesting Veggie Works that consists of New York Fries topped with our cheese sauce, real sour cream, and fresh green onions and tomatoes. We topped them further with jalapeno & relish and we were good to go! Every bite was hot and crisp.. with sauces melting in our mouth! The Veggies added to the desired crunch and the flavor..really a hearty snack!

NYF_NewYorkFries

Veggie Works

For all those who have been wondering how heavy or unhealthy these fries could be…Just Relax!  At New York fries, you would know exactly what you are having as the restaurant has consolidated a Nutritional Chart to cover all the items in their menu.  To check the nutritional value of  NYF menu, you may click here – Nutritional Chart !

NYF_MacauThese giant fries were exhibited outside New York Fries Outlet at The Galaxy Macau. They had the same texture and feel of the actual New York Fries.. too bad, they were not edible.  But, if you are looking for delicious, quick and handy meal ( including beverage) options within HK$100 ( INR  700/- ), you should definitely stop by here!

There are many outlets of NYF spread across the world (http://www.newyorkfries.com/locations) but we can vouch for the one that we visited at Stanley, since it provides excellent view and seating options. It is located at:

Shop G08B, Stanley Plaza
23, Carmel Road
Stanley, HK
26633548 
 
Hope you’d  follow our review and share your feedback , till then keep Munching!   
Rashi

PS :  Since NYF has not yet opened in Singapore , we found alternatives like BFF – Best Fries Forever and Everything with Fries.  We shall review these places sometime soon.

Categories: Restaurant Reviews, Sauces | 2 Comments

Eggless Pancakes

Though Pancakes is quintessential American Breakfast, we think there is no particular time or day to have them!  Why?
a. They are easy to make, if you don’t believe us.. just follow try this recipe and you would also agree with us.
b. They offer room for so many variations, you can choose to use choco-chips, fresh fruits, berries or just butter with your pancakes.
c. They are Pancakes! They are simply Delicious, the fresh hot pancakes are so soft that they just melt in your mouth! mmmm..
 
Variations
Pancakes also have many close variations, make them thin and increase their diameter, they will be called Crepes in Europe. Make them thick and  they would be called as Flapjacks in US and Canada. Replace  flour with  Cornmeal and they would become Mexican Hotcakes!  Even the savory Pooda/Cheela or Uttapams from Southern India are kind of  pancakes!
 
Anyway, without losing our focus let’s come back to the conventional Pancakes, cooked completely without eggs! The ingredients are as follows:
The Yogurt acts as a replacement for eggs and is a great leveling agent. The Baking powder is the raising agent. When mixed  with salt, they all work together to raise the cake when subjected to heat. The quantity of sugar can be increased as per taste. Since we would serve it with maple syrup or strawberry sauce, we have tried to make the pancake a little less sweeter. The oil would ensure that the cake binds together and does not become too hard.
At the mixing step you can add little surprises in your pancakes.. Use cinnamon or nutmeg powder, chocochips,  blueberries or even small mango pieces to flavor your pancakes.  It’s really the right time for you to experiment.
 
Just remember to keep beating the mixture when you add milk, it should not get too thin or it would make the cakes thin and sticky.. We don’t want any FUGLYCAKES, do we??  It should be thicker than the cake batter. It’s a good idea to use hand blender to ensure the batter has no lumps and it gets smooth. When my batter gets few bubbles I know I am on the right track!
  
Heat the non stick griddle or frying pan on medium heat and lightly grease it with butter. Put just a ladle full of batter and spread lightly till you get the desired size and thickness. Conventionally pancakes are round in shape but you can be creative and make them in any shape! 
 

Let the cake cook till you see its sides getting golden brown, ideally on a nonstick pan it leaves the sides itself. Cook on both the sides until they are golden brown.  The heat that reaches the pancake varies according to the pan being used, with your fair judgement and few trial & errors,  you would be able to have an idea about how long would it take to cook your pancake perfectly!

Servings:

Serve stacks of your pancakes,  dust them with icing sugar, put a small dollop of butter and loads of fresh fruits of your choice.

Maple Syrups are the most common accompaniment to the Pancakes. You can also make your own syrups like strawberry or chocolate sauce. We are sharing a quick recipe for strawberry sauce. It just requires: 3/4 cup Fresh diced Strawberries, 1/2 cup water and 3 tbsp sugar. Just put them on medium heat and boil it till strawberries get squished and sauce thickens! You can blend the cooled mixture to get smooth sauce but I use it just as it is with soft strawberry pieces.

Make a delicious serving loaded with sauces, fruits & whatever you can think of. While serving kids use ice cream or whipped cream!

Pancakes can be both sweet and savory !  They can be served with even vegetables and cheese!  Infact, there is a restaurant here in Singapore called Strictly Pancakes with a great spread and as the name suggests, each and every item on their menu has pancakes! 

Hope you try this recipe soon and share with us about what variation did you experiment with! ( Try Chocolate or Nutella with fresh bananas and nuts!)

I would like to end  this post with a quote about Love and…. Pancakes! 🙂

“Love is a bicycle with two pancakes for wheels. You may see love as more of an exercise in hard work, but I see it as more of a breakfast on the go.” – Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale

Ciao!

Rashi

Categories: Breakfast, Desserts, Restaurant Reviews, Sauces | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Thai Curry

With Nupur’s last post, we ticked off the beginning of festivities! At 156 hunger lane ,we hope to be a part of your celebrations in the journey towards welcoming 2013! We are always thinking, discussing and experimenting with recipes that could be an interesting addition to your festive menu.  Be it Diwali or Christmas, card parties or cozy dinners, we want to be involved, be right there for you!

The picture of Pea and Pesto soup reminded me of Thai Green Curry and I wondered why I didn’t share the recipe here till now.  I have tried and tested to work around the original recipe, using authentic ingredients (one positive of being so close to Thailand) as well as their easily available substitutes. I can finally vouch for this vegetarian recipe. It uses no fish sauce and no chicken broth but still comes very close to the vegetarian Thai Curry that I have eaten at my favorite restaurants –  Malaka Spice at  Pune  , Thai High @ Qutub  and  mamagoto at New Delhi.  Authentically, being a non-vegetarian curry, not many vegetarian standards are available to compare. Therefore, there is no right or wrong to this recipe. Use your own judgement and taste, to adjust the amount of spice and sweetness; I am sure you would enjoy it!

 In our kitchen, Thai Curry is cooked at least twice a month, with hubby dearest drooling over its freshness.

The Paste

First Step is to make the paste. Red or Green- the choice is all yours since most of the ingredients are same (and hence, the taste to some extent). Here’s what all we need:

Lemon Grass

Lemon Grass stalks are easily available even in Indian hypermarkets now. You can even look for frozen lemon grass ( its called hari chai ki patti – refer picture). Look for stalks that are fragrant, tightly formed, and have lemony-green color near the bulb. It has lots of layers with a coarse paper-like outer texture, keep peeling it till you reach a softer layer. Cut and remove the thick  bulb near the roots and pound the long green stalk with a heavy object , this helps in releasing the flavor. Chop the stalk into small pieces as by doing this it would be easily able to grind it.

Galangal

Galangal is also called as Siamese Ginger. It is harder than the normal young ginger and therefore, more difficult to cut. It has a unique flavor of its own and is essential in the authentic recipe.  I have tried and used both the options  in my cooking. Considering the ease of availability, I feel ginger will also do the trick. Chop thumb size of whatever you get into thin shreds to help in the grinding process.

Chili

One of the key ingredients and that should be used as per your taste. For red curry paste, the dried kashmiri chilies help in giving the bright red color while for green curry paste, the coriander leaves do the needful. If you want to use more chilies for the color and still wish to reduce the spice , you can de-seed the chilies. Degi Mirch or Kashmiri chili powder is a mild spice that gives more color than spice and is hence recommended. Soak the chilis in warm water so they give a pasty texture on grinding.

 The chilies specially the thai red padi’s I have used here can be very hot! Please wear gloves before you try to split them open for the de-seeding process. I have had experiences when the chili leaves a burning sensation on the skin. But this time,  I almost had my hands on fire! The sensation does not go for hours, at times. Take thorough precautions but if you still end up getting the burning sensation, scrub the affected areawith salt and water. Rub in milk or coconut oil for the balming effect. 

Kaffir Lime and Thai Basil

Lime leaves  and Thai Basil are both dark green aromatic leaves. They both help in providing a distinguishing aroma to the paste. In Singapore, both Kaffir Lime and Thai Basil are easily available at supermarkets and vegetable markets. These might be a little difficult to find in countries other than those in South East Asia.  While Thai Basil can be skipped, Kaffir Lime could be substituted by the lemon peel/rind. Please ensure that you do not peel the rind too deep –  try avoiding peeling the white skin inside or it could be bitter. Peel of half a lime should be enough to substitute the leaves.

Chop and grind all the ingredients  in the smallest jar of your food processor till you get a fine paste ( add water if required).  It is as simple as that.

Storage:    

Make in advance and store it. Once my Paste is ground, you can store it in an air tight container and freeze it up to 6 weeks.  The uncooked paste does not spoil if kept in the freezer. Whenever you wish to make thai curry again, it takes just 15 mins to thaw the paste and your Thai curry could be ready in a jiffy.

The Curry

Once the Thai curry paste is ready, making the curry is as simple as it can get. Here’s what you need to do:

The amount of curry used in proportion to the Coconut Milk is completely up to your taste and liking. We generally follow the mentioned ratio. You may add vegetables of your choice. Just parboil the vegetables, it would taste better if its crunchier. If you are adding bell peppers , add them raw. They would be perfectly tender when you leave them to simmer in the curry for 10 mins , as indicated in the recipe.

 

Once you have added the vegetables, just let it cook for 10 mins &  your piping hot (literally) curry is ready to serve!

Thai Curry

Serve it hot with Sticky rice or any fragrant rice. ( I have specially bought  aromatic Thai Rice for this cuisine :)).

Be it Red or Green, enjoy the curry HOT and savor the spicy sweet taste!

For those who wanted yellow curry or massaman curry, we still need to try its vegetarian recipes! Stay tuned on this page for more surprises that come your way!

Keep cooking, eating and sharing!

Laew Phop Kan Mai Na Ka!! ( See you again in Thai :P)

Rashi

Categories: Mains, Sauces | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Falafel with Hummus

Every new post on 156, Hungerlane has a story behind it that helps us create and conceptualize of what we talk about here. New cuisines or dishes that we tried somewhere. Some we liked a lot, some a little (Foodies really can’t dislike food :)), some enough to inspire us and try it for ourselves. Tried, over and over again until we felt ready for it to be  posted here! So with this recipe, we wish to give our Italian menu a break…  Introducing a middle eastern platter, often quoted as Lebanese platter served in multi-cuisine restaurants- Falafel with Hummus served with warm Pita bread. We are also including the recipe for Green Tahini sauce that we really loved and couldn’t help sharing!

Seriously, I don’t remember where did I first have Hummus with Pita or Falafel! If  I really rack my brains, earliest I can recall having it in the weekend brunch menu at “Not Just Jazz by the Bay, Pune “,  six years back!  They used to serve Hummus Dip with Lavash ( kinda crisp pita bread). Since then, I have been having it at many places – generally as a part of Lebanese or Mezze Platter.  My friend, (now a better friend & husband) Ashim, used to gorge on hummus and often bought a fresh hummus jar from Defence Bakery along with Lavash!

Post wedding, hubby dearest’s love for the dip and the sudden discovery of fresh pita pockets at a local bakery here in Singapore gave me the motivation to try my very own version of Lebanese platter!

I have tried this recipe many times and now feel ready to share on Hungerlane! So here is a step by step recipe!

FALAFEL

The beans need to be soaked for over 6-8 hours and drained. They are added in the food processor just like this to get a coarse mixture for crackling falafel balls.

Falafels should be fried only when they are about to be served. The hot, crispy falafels with cold salad in pita pockets is a combination worth dying for! But what about the dips and sauces?

As promised, here are two dips that would accompany falafels in our lebanese platter- Hummus and Green Tahini!

DIPS and SAUCES

Note, Hummus uses boiled chickpeas instead of just soaked. Make sure you give the soaked chickpeas 8-9 whistles so they are soft to give us a puree consistency for Hummus. Sesame seeds are an important ingredient that makes both the dips creamy and adds a little oil of its own. Cumin seeds are best used little roasted; fresh and juicy lemon works the best! Here’s how we should proceed:

ASSEMBLING into a PLATTER

Get Pita pockets from your local bakery, its a round bread like a pizza base but once its cut in between it opens up into a pocket. If you cannot find Pita pockets,  go for wraps. Falafel in wraps also taste just as delicious. You can even opt to serve just Falafels as an entree with hummus and salad. Its a good variation to the Hara Bhara kababs we have in Indian Starter menu.

You may choose to go with the salad of your choice:  Fresh Cubed Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, Thin long sliced- Lettuce, Broccoli pockets (steamed) , Cabbage.. be creative! Some people even love to  add boiled red beans and boiled chickpeas.

Once you have decided on your salad and have it along with you, here’s all that you need to do:

1. Warm Pita pockets in microwave for 30 secs or you can bake it a little in your oven (care, they should not get crisp!) 

2. Cut them into half, open a pocket and spread generous amount of hummus spread.

3. Fill it with salad and 2-3 fresh fried falafel ( or as much it can take or you want it to take :))

4. Top it with green Tahini sauce, and serve it in a platter. You may wrap the pita pockets in soft tissues to make it easy to pick up. 

5. Make sure you serve extra Hummus and Tahini.  You never have enough of them. I create a depression in my hummus blob, fill it with olive oil and sprinkle chilli powder, I even serve a slice of fresh lime for the ones who like it more tangy.

Make sure the pita bread is fresh and so is the salad. If kept for too long, this dish can be a little dry on the palette. You can opt to be a little generous with the olive oil ( drizzle it on Pita too, if need be).  Serve it Hot and Fresh.

We hope you would try and love this recipe. It’s something that does not expect you to be standing in front of the gas stove for long! Boiling chickpeas for Hummus and frying falafel are only two activities that would make you turn on the flame! We hope you try this recipe and put your food processor into good use.It even helps us take a break from the monotonous menu!

Restaurant we like:

There are many restaurants that serve Falafel as a part of their menu. But here in Singapore , we found a place in the plush bay level of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. The restaurant touts of good health and rightly so, does complete justice to its name.

PITA PAN- Pocket full of Health

It not only enjoys exclusivity of being only place serving  just middle eastern menu in Singapore but also a vegetarian place to top that! ( something  that’s not too common on this part of the world). Needless to say, we are a regular there.  I can’t stop myself from bragging about this place  but I guess this post is becoming too long !  So would save the review for later, till then we might try the whole menu! Still, giving you  a sneak peak of the place , clicked on one of our visits from mobile. You don’t want to miss it on your next visit to Singapore.

We will come with more on this place and may be recipes of other dishes they serve like Shakshuka sometime soon! 🙂

Till then, we hope you  keep cooking and sharing!

Burp!!

Rashi 

Categories: Breads, Entree, Mains, Restaurant Reviews, Sauces | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fresh Basil Pesto

 Hello Guys, It’s finally me, Rashi, writing to you all.  Nupur had been keeping the blog alive with her inventive recipes while I was caught up packing and unpacking for the last 2 months. But now I am back and at the cost of repetition, I am also sticking to existing theme, Italian.

We all have tried many versions of red and white pasta sauces at our favourite Italian restaurant, in fact any multi-cuisine restaurant, at home and even weddings (Sorry, I am still not out of the trauma!)..but what I am sharing here is my favourite green Italian sauce that has still not completely found its way in most restaurant menus in India, “Pesto”!

All of us, who like Pesto, have already spent lot of money in buying preserved pesto jars or ordering from limited pesto delicacies at selected Italian places! My first memories of eating pesto pasta goes almost a decade back at a cosy, little and still very popular restaurant – Oven Fresh at Shivaji Park in Mumbai. I still can’t forget the Fettuccine con Pesto I had there! Pesto wasn’t easily available. So, my love for its flavor even made me buy a small (but expensive) packet of dry pesto powder from Rome that just ate up my student budget but failed to give the taste I was yearning for.  Somehow, I never thought of trying pesto at home until last year and the rest , as they say, is history. This super simple recipe has never disappointed me, in fact lately, helped me get loads of appreciation from hubby dearest.. Hope it works for you too! 🙂

So, here we go!

 

What next?

Once you have these not so hard to find ingredients in place.. All that is required is to blend them together. Traditionally, pesto is prepared by pounding all the ingredients in a marble mortar by wooden pestle. Thanks  to the technology and our time crunched lives, small mixer or even hand blender does the trick!  Olive oil should be intermittently added while the rest of the ingredients are being blended and the salt  should be added at the end. Pine Nuts can be replaced by walnuts but care should be taken that they are not bitter. Almonds are not preferred since the strong smell of its oil can dominate over that of other ingredients.
 

How to know that its done?  

The texture of  the sauce is an individual choice and would make very little difference to the taste. Almost all ingredients are used in raw form and contribute individually towards the texture, flavor and aroma of the sauce. While pine nuts give the crunch, olive oil and parmesan cheese give this sauce a velvety texture. The aroma of basil and garlic adds rich color and fragrance.  Make a smooth sauce for pasta, salads and sandwiches but a little coarse Pesto makes a brilliant Pizza sauce as it adds to the crunch on baking! 
 
 

Where can we use it?

Now that we know how simple making Pesto is.. You may choose to use it in many ways.. Toss it with boiled pasta , you can also mix it li’l home made white sauce or cream cheese ( I prefer Philadelphia Cream Cheese)  to make Pesto con Cream . I wanted to be more creative. So,  instead of serving bread as cliche’d entremets , I took herb-ed bread cubes, sprinkled some olive oil and baked it in the oven till it turned golden brown and topped my pasta with it! Small bread crumbles add crunch to every bite.  
   Pesto goes well with ribbon pastas like  Fettuccine and Linguine when served hot. Supermarket near my place was out of stock for both.. so , I had to settle in for Fussili. But if now you are in a similar situation, you can always refer to our last post where Nupur cooked wheat fettuccine at home, from the scratch!  🙂
 
Alternatively, if  you are health freak (unlike me).. you may go for pesto salad with loads of cucumber, cherry tomatoes, broccoli , tofu cubes and cooked wheat pasta tossed generously in fresh pesto!  Serve it chilled, enjoy every bite and save yourself the guilt trip!
 
  
Days passed and in my kitchen, Pesto was being used as usual in Pasta, Salads and Sandwich… until one day, I went for a friends party and tasted the Pesto Pizza ordered  from Sarpino’s Pizzeria. I had a sudden urge to try one at home, and I did.. but with Home Made Pan Crust Pizza Base and in-house substitute to sun- dried tomatoes! The result was remarkable….
I had managed to create something that had made me proud, for the first time! 
 
             Before going into the Oven                                                                      Baked Pesto Pizza
 
We hope you have fun trying your very own fresh basil pesto at home… We shall post the home-made pizza base and sun-dried tomatoes recipe on this page, soon! Till then, Happy Cooking!

 

Categories: Italian, Sauces | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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