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If there is ever one food that i’m not good at making, it’s salad.

I suck BIG time at making salad lip smacking good. No really, i do. I’ve browsed through tens of books and magazines on salad but i can never get it right. As strange as it may sound, it’s true. So why salad post today?

Well, i’ve kinda honed my skill a teeeennnieeee bit so, here i am, with this post of mine..  (but mostly because i wanna use these gorgeous plate and bowl (?) given by the lovely girlfriend from Australia when she came visiting. Mind you, she didn’t just lugged these two items for me, she filled almost half my props pantry up with many others! Heartfelt thank you, E! :*)

Pumpkin Salad with Balsamic Vinegar & Honey

serves 2

300-400g butternut pumpkin, deseeded, cut into 2 cm thick pieces
olive oil to drizzle
50g organic mixed salad leaves
a handful of cherry tomatoes
2 pinches of toasted sunflower seeds

Dressing

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
5 tbsp honey
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200c. Drizzle the pumpkin with olive oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes till tender. Check for the doneness with skewer.
2. To make dressing : Combine vinegar, honey and olive oil in a screwtop jar and shake all your might till well combined. If you must, microwave the jar for 10 minutes with the screw top removed to melt the honey.
3. Place salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing. Serve.

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I know i over edited the photos quite a bit but that’s because i missed my Photoshop so very much! Grin.

For the past few weeks, all the photos were touched up using the most basic software of all.. which comes with Windows. God knows what izzit called.. OH, wait.. It’s Windows Live Photo Gallery (i just checked). Teeeheheheheeee! Yup, so i’ve been using that for editing and i totally dreaded it but horrr, somebody just cannot fathom what’s the fuss about since i use only the basic-est functions of all functions on Photoshop which can be found on almost all (FREE) photo editing software.

Well, my only explanation is that i work best and fastest using familiar software and not anything else. I dislike spending time (can’t afford it) familiarizing with another software (lawwdd, the amount of googling one must do… *faints*) and in the end, i still cannot achieve the result i want *pulls hair*. Uh huh, even though i use only the very basic tools, the results differ. Funny eh?

Anyway, i’m so glad that i found my Photoshop CD again and i’m never gonna lose it ever (it’s now kept together in my VIS — very important stuff — box), evaaaaa. Period.

Christmas Makan II

Grin.

Yup, still on Christmas posts!

After 2 rounds of feasting at the friends’ place, it was my turn to host. After my first Christmas Indian theme hosting, i wanted more. I felt i hadn’t whip up enough Indian dishes and wanted to do more. For this hosting, it was a little easier since it was a potluck thingie. I picked what i wanted to cook and the rest, it was up to the friends though i did sorta suggest tp Pei Lin what to bring though. :P

This was what we had -

MENU

Starter

. Keropok
. Stollen

Mains

. Saag Roti
. Dal by Pei Lin
. Aloo Gobi by Pei Lin
. Paneer Balti with Prawns

Dessert

. Pistachio Kulfi by Pick Yin

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Initially, i thought of making just plain chapati but after seeing this Saag Roti in the cookbook, i was all curious. Saag roti.. whoaaa! How interesting! Will it be like spinach pasta?, i pondered silently. Except that this isn’t pasta but bread but a world different. Heh. Though it requires a little bit more effort, it’d be fun. Something different definitely. :)

Saag Roti

makes 20

200g English spinach leaves, stalks removed
500g atta flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ghee

Method

1. Cook the spinach briefly in a little simmering water until it’s just wilted, then refresh in cold water. Drain thoroughly, then finely chop. Squeeze out any extra water by putting the spinach between 2 plates and pushing them together.
2. Sift the atta and salt into a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the spinach, ghee and about 1 cup of tepid water and mix to form a soft, pliable dough. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into 20 balls. Working with one portion at a time and keeping the rest covered, roll out each portion evenly to a 12 cm circle about 1mm thick.


4. Heat a heavy-based pan until hot, and cook one roti at a time. Cook each on one side, covered with a lid (this helps to keep them soft) for about 1 minute. Turn it over, cover again and cook the other side for 2 minutes. Check the roti a few times to make sure it doesn’t overcook. The roti will blister a little and brown in some places. Remove the roti and keep it warm under a tea towel. Cook the remaining roti.

(adapted from a little taste of …….. India)

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Verdict-

The friend‘s parents who came along gave me thumbs up. For them who eat this regularly if not daily, what a compliment! So if they’d said good, who am i to say otherwise eh? HEHEEEE!

(ermm, the truth is, i can’t judge, for i’ve never eaten a chapati before. :P)

For my Christmas Makan I, click here.

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.

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