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yeah, i just turned the plate and it’s another photo for a new post. hahaaahaha!

Do you know i actually attempted making my own paneer at home?

I used 1 whole litre of full cream to make it but after all that straining, i was left with just 100+g? Ouch. It didn’t take long for me to decide to get the frozen ones at Mustafa. With that much amount of milk and the work involved, 100+ g of paneer is not worth it. I rather buy. But having said, the homemade ones were much tastier than the frozen ones. They were certainly creamier and softer apart from cheesier tasting. If you’ve got a lot of milk to spare, i don’t see why you shouldn’t try it. It was fun for me! ;)

My initial plan was to cook palak paneer, another curry dish which we ate at the airport. So scrumptious i tell you.

Alas, with just 1 hour left after cooking that Nihari Ghost, exhaustion and laziness got the better of me. Heh. I quickly riffled the cookbooks’ pages for the easiest paneer dish and in no less than 5 minutes, i singled this dish out. Not only because it was really easy to whip up but also, i’ve all the ingredients needed. :)

Matar Paneer

225g paneer
2 tbsp ghee
50g onion, chopped
150g fresh or frozen peas
1/2 tsp sugar
5cm piece ginger, grated
3 green chilies, finely chopped
1 spring onion (scallion), finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves

Method

1. Heat the ghee in a heavy based frying pan over medium heat and carefully fry the paneer until golden on all sides. Remove.
2. Fry the onion lightly in the same ghee, until softened and lightly golden. Remove the onion from pan. Add 5 tbsp of hot water and a pinch of salt to the ghee. Simmer for a minute. Add the peas and sugar, cover and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the peas are almost cooked.
3. Add onion, paneer, ginger, chili and spring onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garam masala and cilantro leaves. Season with salt, to taste.

(adapted from a little taste of …. india)

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So what happens to Palak Paneer?

Hmm, not sure yet, perhaps next makan session? But what i know is, i *will* attempt it. ;)

Note : because i’m no fan of that much of a green pea, i reduced the amount used for the above recipe. The original recipe calls for 200g.

I know this is not my usual style/food post but this recipe is too awesome not to be posted up for my future reference! (yup, it’s for myself again :P)

Having just returned from India then, i was all in the mood for anything Indian.. Indian food, Indian-inspired outfits, Indian-looking earrings — okaay, this one is authentic since i bought them from New Delhi itself. Then, some of the *ahem* thick skin friends (but you know i like you like this right? right?! Heeee!) requested for a guinea pig session after i posted some food pictures from India on Instagram (my ID : maameemoomoo) which i said i was gonna try cooking them. And i thought, why not?

I love hosting, i enjoy cooking/baking and i cherish these friends’ companies, so within a day or two, a Christmas lunch was arranged.

If you have hosted before, you’ll know how crazy it is in the kitchen. What more, an Indian theme Christmas lunch. It was OH EM GEE. SooOOOOOOoooo much work i tell ya!

For the first time, i actually spent the whole day preparing in the kitchen. Yeah, my first time. I’m usually a very fast worker. For me, most food preparation take only a couple of hours max but NOT Indian food, especially this insanely delicious Nihari Ghost.

Nihari Ghost (Lamb or mutton shanks infused with garlic)

1kg boneless lamb/mutton leg
16 tsp garlic paste, ground very fine*

For the masala

10-12 tbsp ghee
4 tsp red chili powder
16 tsp coriander seed powder
12 tsp ginger paste*
salt to taste
2 1/2 cup water
6 tsp flour (maida)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup chili paste, blended from dried chili (optional)

For the baghar (flavouring)

12 tbsp ghee
1 cup onion, finely diced
12 cloves, powdered
12 green cardamoms, powdered
20 peppercorns, powdered
4 cinnamon sticks, 2″
1 tsp lemon juice

Method

1. Boil the lamb in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes. Drain the meat pieces and keep aside, reserving the stock. Add the finely ground garlic paste to stock and stir well. Use later to bhunao.
2. For the masala : Heat ghee, add the red chili powder, coriander seed powder and ginger paste. Add salt and bhunao, adding the garlic stock a little at a time. Continue until the stock is consumed. Add the meat pieces and 2 1/2 cups of water. Dilute the flour in milk and add to meat. Cook on very low heat, stirring regularly until the meat becomes tender. Remove from heat and keep aside.
3. For the baghar : In a separate pan, heat ghee, add onions and saute until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon to make paste (yes, you have to make paste with this). Add the onion paste to the meat and stir well. Reduce heat to low and in the same ghee, add the clove powder, cardamom powder, peppercorn powder and cinnamon sticks. Immediately add to the meat. Stir. Add the lemon juice, stirring regularly until meat is tender. (i took 2.5 hours to cook till the meat is tender)

(adapted from Art of Indian Cuisine, Rocky Mohan)

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What we had -

Starter

Keropok Special from Malaysia
Stollen

Mains

Nihari Ghost
Matar Paneer
Cucumber Raita
Basmati Rice

Dessert

Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
Yogurt with honey (but everyone was too stuffed to try this. Teeheee!)

And of course, wines from the friends!

After slaving in the kitchen one whole day preparing all the above, i was totally knocked out to do any decent photo taking. The next morning before the friends arrived, it was flower buying time. I went to 3 different locations just for the roses. I’m mad, am i not? Hahaaaa! But you know, it was worth the 1.5 hours trip. To me, hosting = good food + flowers. ;) So again, no photo taking. All i did then was to chill with the friends over food and wine, but not before i snapped this one precious picture (above), just to remember how Nihari Ghost looked like. :)

So why this very specific Nihari Ghost despite its laborious work?

On our last day in India at the airport, after roaming around almost the whole floor of eateries, this was what we had – Nihari Ghost. It was so good that i actually walked back to the stall and asked for the dish’s name.

Never mind i got laughed at by the girl behind the counter for my pronunciation, i mean, how else will you pronounce ghost (?!?!)  other than ghost?

Never mind i got stared at in a very strange way by other customers, for asking the dishes’ names and writing them down at the same time.

Importantly, i got the names of the dishes that i wanted to know. ;)

It’s Cook a Pot of Curry day today.
(If you have no idea what i’m talking about, click here)

When i first got to know about the incident, like you, you and you, i was rather furious. You all know how much i love my spices and curry. So if i’m asked to cook my curries with my windows closed and only during a certain time frames, you can be very sure that the next thing i’d do is, set up a portable stove right in front of my main door on one very windy day and cook my curry there and then.

Then i thought about it.

There’s really nothing much to be furious about actually. Probably just a teeny weeny bit but that’s about it. Each and every one of us is special. We have our own level of tolerance towards certain things. Sure, complaining to the authority takes the cake, but can you imagine if your neighbour cooks the famous smelly tofu everyday? *faints* To us who have been staying in this part of the world, we are used to the smell of curries and spices. They however, are not. And of course, bad apples are everywhere but so are good apples.  More importantly, the 2 families can live with the outcome for more than 7 years so yay to them!

Today, instead of cooking a pot of curry, i’m gonna dedicate this simple and easy but very delicious pilaf post to my good Indian neighbour whom i’ve already missed. They have just relocated to UAE 2 days ago after living here for close to 2 years. Seema, my ever so helpful neighbour had no qualms spending her precious time teaching me all about biryani when i needed her help for this Guest Post of mine.

No eggs? Swing by the neighbour to borrow a couple.

No paprika? No problem. Hop over with an empty spoon in hand.

Not too long after that, she got me this gorgeous Masala Dabba which she lugged back from India during one of her many trips. And not to mention, surprise goodies from time to time… and always when i was famished. Grin. I swear she can sense when i have growling stomach! Oh, and that little daughter in law of mine, Dia.. I’ll so miss her manja voice. She misses boy2 pretty often so it’s always, *ding*dong* Liammmmm, Liammmmmm… do you want to come out and play? *ding*dong*

*smile*

Her one true love, we often teased her and she would actually smile bashfully in response!

SIGH.

Good neighbours are hard to come by, aren’t they? Though it was just a short 2 years, i’m grateful. Better 2 years than none, aye? Thank you Seema, and your wonderful family, for everything. You will be missed dearly.

Salmon & Prawn Pilaf

Serves 4

250g basmati rice, washed well
small piece fresh root ginger, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
3 cardamon pods
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
10-12 large prawns, peeled
10-12 pieces of sliced salmon
10 hard boiled quail eggs, optional

Method

1. Cook the rice according to pack instructions, then set aside. Put the ginger, garlic and tomatoes into a food processor, blend to make a paste, then set aside until you’re ready to cook.
2. Sautee the sliced salmon using high heat, just for a couple of seconds to ensure that the fish isn’t entirely cooked.
3. Heat the oil in a large non stick pan and add the whole spices. Once they sizzle, add the onion, frying over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the ground spices and paste, then cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce has released the oil back into the pan. Add the prawns, then cooked for a few minutes before adding in the salmon and quail eggs – the mixture should be quite dry and paste like.
4. Stir the cooked rice into the pan to coat it well in the spices. Make sure the rice is heated through. Serve immediately.

(recipe adapted from GoodFood’s Prawn and Sweetened Coconut Pilaf)

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Happy cooking your pot of curry everyone!

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