Pacific Pilchard fried rice

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pilachard-rice-jpg3Delicious with every mouthful, this one – pot rice dish is a feast to the palate!!  Great choice for someone looking for a healthy version of  rice as the main ingredient of this dish is Pilchard fish, packed with Omega 3 oils.  Also, a filling dish for hungry kids that could be made in less than 30 mins.

Get  ready with these items:  (Enough for 4 servings)

Pacific Pilchard 1 small tin 155 g
Rice 1 and 1/2 cups
Ginger and garlic grated 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves and stems 1 cup
Tomato 1 juicy
Soy sauce 2 tbsp
Ketchup 2 tbsp
New / Baby Potatoes 6 cut into chunkes
Cumin seeds and mustard seeds 1 tsp each
 Salt  1/2 tsp or to taste

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thCBYCX65Upilchard

Let’s Make it:

  • First wash the rice until water runs clear.   Drain water in a colander and keep aside.

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  • Chop onions, tomatoes, grate ginger and garlic and cut potatoes.  Open the tin of pilchards and drain into a cup.  Chop coriander leaves and stems.  Keep everything aside.

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  • Heat up olive oil in a wide pan.  Sprinkle cumin seeds and mustard seeds let them splatter.
  • Add the sliced onion and lightly brown it.
  • Add salt.
  • Add grated ginger &  garlic and the stems of coriander.  The stems will give a distinct aroma and flavour to the dish.
  • Add the tomato,   fry until soft and add tomato ketchup, continue frying.
  • Drain the tomato sauce in the pilchard tin and keep the fish pieces aside.
  • Fry everything until  a thick , juicy sauce is formed.
  • Add potatoes.  Keep frying.

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  • Drain water from the rice and add to pot.  Fry the rice for a min or two.
  • Next, pour warm water just above rice.
  • Give a good stir to bring everything together , cover and cook on very light flame.  Cooking time usually takes  10 – 15 mins.
  • Halfway, open the lid, drop the fish pieces, another handful of coriander leaves and 2 – 3 tbsp of soy sauce and lightly stir being careful not to break the fish pieces.
  • Check the taste at this point.  If you feel the rice is not cooked enough and there is no more water left, sprinkle hot water to the sides, cover tightly and lower the flame for allowing it to cook a bit further.
  • Finally, garnish with chopped coriander . Cover and keep the flavours to settle for about 10 mins.
  • You can serve this dish on its own or with Chinese chili paste on side.
  • Yummy !!!
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Date Cake Delight – A super soft, delicious cake with dates

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A super-moist date cake, sealed  with LOVE that guaranteed to send your taste buds dancing !!!

The original recipe of these divine cake is being passed on to me by my beloved sister, Lakmali.  I was inspired by her glorious date cake and wished to reproduce the same with less time and effort. In the process, I invented an easy method of softening the dates within 10 mins rather than the traditional way of soaking them overnight.

With all the tips and techniques given, nothing can go wrong.  So, make it and enjoy!!

Techniques for making cakes for beginers :

Cake tips, Equipment and Techniques

You need the following ingredients :

Good quality wet dates 250 g
Margerine or butter 250 g
Caster sugar 250 g
Eggs 4
Plain tea bags 2
Salt 2 pinches
Baking powder 1 tsp
Bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
Juice of lemon 2 tsp
Water  1/2 cup

 Let’s get started:

First step is to prepare the date pulp.

(Traditionally this is done by soaking the dates overnight with a combination of hot water, two tea bags and bicarb.  However, I invented a quicker and much easier method to get a better quality date pulp, which could be ready in just 10-15min rather than waiting overnight. (Interestingly, the idea of dropping tea bags into this, is purely to get a nice dark brown colour.)

  • Remove the stem parts of dates, give a quick wash, place in a deep- bottom pan filled with water just above the level of dates.

  • Let it boil  until the water level dips to the bottom of the pan and the dates are nice and soft.
  • Drop the two tea bags in a cup and fill it half with boiling water.  Cover and keep for 10 mins to brew
  • Mix 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda into the tea and mix well.
  • Now pour into dates, cover and let the dates cool off completely.

  • Squeeze the tea bags and remove them
  • Run your hand through the dates and carefully take the seeds out being careful not to leave any behind

  •   Your date pulp is ready to use now

Cream it

  • Pre heat the oven to 160C .                                                                                                                  Oven temp conversion chart http://happyrecipes.co.uk/oven-temperature-conversion/
  • Beat sugar and butter together for about 3 mins or until creamy, using an electric mixer.
  • Add eggs one at a time ,  beat for 15 seconds after each addition.
  • Now add the date pulp and beat for 1 min until everything mixes into a smooth batter.

  • Add lemon/vanilla and salt.
  • Next,  mix baking powder with flour and sieve it out to the cake holding well above from the batter allowing the air to escape.
  • Slowly fold the flour with a wooden spoon until everything comes to a creamy batter.

Tray it

  • Line up a baking tray 12’ x 10’ (rectangular) with parchment paper and pour the batter in. Lift up the tray and gently drop to the surface to let the air bubbles escape and the batter to spread and settle evenly.

Oven it

  • Place the tray in the middle of the oven
  • Bake for  20  – 30 mins.   Do not open the door of the oven in the first 10 mins.

Check it

  • After 20 mins insert a wooden skewer in the middle of the cake to check if it comes clean. If not, shut the door and let it bake for further 5 mins or until it is fully done.
  • An unmistakable lovely aroma  will drift through the kitchen is the best signal that your cake is ready!!
  • Now take out from the oven and let the cake  rest for 10 mins and then slowly take out from the tray and let it cool on a wire rack.
  • Dip a knife in hot water before slicing the cake to avoid it’s from crumbling.
  • Enjoy  !!  Goes delightfully well  with a nice cup of tea or coffee !!!

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Chinese Dumplings – Flavourful dumplings better than what you get from restaurents

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dav

Our numerous visits  to various Chinese restaurants in the China Town, in central London, just to taste their authentic dumplings, have always been tantamount to a massive disappointment. They  never lived up to our expectations, especially, when it came to flavours. I found the outermost layer,  very soft and moist but the inner filling was almost flavourless.  So, I started experimenting with dumpling-making for a while in order to produce the best  and, much to my delight,  came out with exciting results.

Surely, it became an instant hit with my family members and then with my friends.  I even went as far as making sea-weed, the most favoured Chinese side dish.  In fact, in place of real sea-weed, which is hard to find,  I used Savoury cabbage (Curly cabbage).   Aha !!! Now that’s interesting isn’t it?  Well, the taste is same and I even happened to wonder whether in Chinatown, they too serve us cabbage !!

How to make my sea-weed, in actual sense, cabbage, is given below.

First, make the dough with the following ingredients : Enough for 30 – 35 dumplings.

  • Place 300g of plain flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle.  Now, pour 1/2 cup of boiling water into the well, cover the bowl and let it rest for 5 min.

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  • Open the lid and run through a wooden spoon.   Again cover and leave for 10 mins.
  • Now pour 1/2 cup of warm water gradually while kneading the flour with your hand .  Add more warm water if needed and knead until the dough becomes soft to touch and not sticking onto your fingers.  Cover and let it rest for 30 mins.  In the mean time, make the filling.

What you need for the filling;

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 Pork mince or Chicken mince 300 g
Spring Onion – Class A  – 120 g 1 bunch
Soy sauce (dark) 4 tbsp or more
Blended sesame oil 4 tbsp
Brown Sugar 3 pinches
Ginger – shreded 1 inch root
Salt 3 pinches
Corn flour 4 tbsp
Rice vinegar 1 tbsp
Cabbage – shredded 1 cup (optional)
      Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and keep aside for 10 mins for the flavours to bind before making.
  •  Pork mince is a better choice for this recipe as it gives a very flavourful results.
  •  A cup full of shredded Chinese cabbage could be added to increase the quantity of the filling in case you are making them for a larger family or a gathering.

Let’s make:

  • Divide the dough into equal size balls as the size of a red cherry and arrange on a side of the kitchen work- top.
  • Lightly flour the surface of the kitchen work- top or a wide chopping board.  Place a ball of dough and roll it to a flat round shape with a rolling pin.
  • Place a table spoon of minced meat mixture onto the middle of the round shape.

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  • Bring both sides together and pinch on the pleat making them tightly clasped.

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  • Make enough for one round of steaming.  While one batch is in the steamer, you can go ahead making the next batch to avoid any extra uncooked dumplings to get damaged by sticking onto the surface.
  • The final step is to steam the  dumplings. Brush oil on the bottom of the steamer and arrange   dumplings without sticking to each other.  Now, steam on high flame for about 5 mins.  You will see the colour of outer cover  changes and start glistering when cooked enough.

Chinese dumplings

  • Switch off the flame and take out dumplings one by one, very gently, with the help of a soft edged tongs and  place on a plate .

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Let’s make the dipping sauce

  • 2 tbsp  – Dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp  – warm water
  • chopped coriander leaves
  • a few pieces of chopped red chili for a fiery blend. (avoid chili when serving kids)

chil Whisk all together and serve in a separate bowl next to dumplings with chopsticks, a fork or a spoon. In place of this sauce dipper, you can opt for Chinese chili oil or chili paste which are ideal dippers for these dumplings.

 

Sea-weed 

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  • You simply have to shred the curly cabbage as thinly as possible.
  • Then deep-fry in hot oil.  Just a min or two is enough for them to get crispy. Do not over frying will lose it’s lovely green colour.
  • Now add sugar and salt as per your taste.
  • Yummy sea-weed is ready to devour with delight !!
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Mom’s special Biryani

b1 This is my mum’s signature dish in which she never forgot to  pour lots of love while making it.  Naturally, our mouths started watering at the thought of this and wished that mum would make it on special occasions or on Sundays as a special treat for the family or friends who stopped by.

Not so oily like many typical  biryani dishes, this has no complicated cooking methods. Nevertheless, this is a very satisfying dish , served with  Mint chutney as an accompaniment or with chicken gravy.

Ingredients : for 4 very hungry people :

Chicken 1 whole cut into medium size pieces
Basmati Rice 2 cups
Plain Yoghurt 4 heaps of tbsp
Knor Chicken soup cube 1
Roasted curry powder 2 tbsp
Onion and green chili 1 each
Ginger and garlic 2 tbsp grated
Cloves, pepper and cardamoms, cinnamon 4 each
Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
 Coriander leaves/Mint leaves (chopped)  A handful for garnishing

How to make:

  • Massage  the chicken pieces thoroughly with yogurt,  roasted curry powder (Pls see the post under Tips), turmeric,  grated ginger and  garlic,  salt, turmeric powder, cloves, pepper corns, green chili and the crushed soup cube.  Cover with a cling film and  refrigerate for about 4 hrs. If kept overnight in the fridge, the meat will absorb the taste and flavours of spices better.  Take out from the fridge 30 min prior to cooking.
  • Wash the rice until water runs clear, drain and keep aside for 20 mins. This will allow the rice to stretch and not stick together while cooking.
  • Heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil in a wide brim pan.  Add the whole spices and let them crackle.
  • Add grated ginger and garlic or just the paste of it.
  • Add the onion slices and slightly brown them.  Drop the green chili with a handful of curry leaves.
  • Now add the rice and quickly stir through , not letting it  to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Fry the rice for about 2 mins.
  • Now add the chicken with all it’s marinade.
  • Chop the stems of the coriander leaves and add.  Stems has great flavours and aroma too.
  • Mix rice and chicken thoroughly while turning them constantly for 2 – 3 mins.
  • Add warm water, just above the level of rice.
  • First cover the pan with a foil and then then tight close the lid.
  • Cook under very low fire for about 20 mins or the top rice grains come soft.
  • Finally garnish generously with coriander leaves and mint leaves.
  • Serve hot with sliced red onions and chicken curry gravy.
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Best Burger Bun

bur2-300x223 This is  real feast you can offer to bouncy young kids after their playtime!! Also, wrapped nicely in a foil, this could go into anyone’s office or school lunch pack too.  Such a juicy, home-made burger bun, to enjoy  without  a fraction of guilt as it is free from all kinds of preservatives or processed ingredients.  You can make patties, wrap them in a cling film and store them in the freezer which will come quite handy on a later date.     

What you need to make up to 8 burgers:

 Minced meat (Beef or Chicken) 300 g
Burger buns 8
Large onion 1
Tomato Ketchup 3 tbsp
Worcester sauce (optional) 1 tsp
Soy sauce 2 tbsp
Ginger grated 1 tbsp
Green chili (chopped) 1
Bread slice 1
 Salt and pepper to taste

Let’s make :

  • Chop the onion , green chili , coriander leaves and the ginger root.
  • Grate the bread slice into crumbs.
  • In a large bowl, mix minced meat, chopped onion, ginger, green chill, coriander leaves, bread crumbs, tomato sauce, soy sauce, Worcester sauce, salt and pepper to taste, using your fingers until everything comes together.
  • Now, take a handful from the mixture,  make a ball and flatten it thickly.  If your fingers are sticky, wet them with water.
  • Next, spray olive oil onto a non-stick frying pan or a griddle and place the patty.   Fry one side and then slowly turn to the other side being careful never to press it down with your spatula.  If pressed down, all the juices will run out, making it dry and crumbly.  When both sides are properly cooked, place it on a kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.
  • Now, place the flat sides of the buns on the same frying/griddle pan and let it slightly browned.
  • Squeeze tomato sauce and a dollop of mayonnaise sauce on to the bun.
  • Arrange lattice shreds,  place  cucumber slices, onion slices and tomato slices.
  • Next, place the burger patty and a cheese slice on top.
  • Cover with the top part of the bun and press down gently.
  • Wrap in a foil to pack in your lunch  or  if you can not resist, take a big mouthful !!
  • Enjoy!

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Raw Radish salad

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Radish, relieves toxins from kidneys and provides numerous health benefits. In addition, it is a natural remedy to facilitate bowel movements, which in turn keep the constipation at bay. This salad is made from tender raw Radish leaves, which enhances the taste of a simple combination of plain rice and curries – as a side dish or something delicious on it’s own. You can find radish leaves in bunches in Asian fruit and vegetable shops or straight it out of your veggie patch in the garden.

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Let’s make it:

  • Separate the radish leaves from their stems, wash and  shake off the water.
  • Cut very finely and drop into a bowl.
  • Chop an onion and a green chili very thinly and keep aside of the bowl.
  • Take a handful of scraped coconut and drop it on to the same side.
  • Now sprinkle two pinches of salt and squeeze half a lemon onto  coconut.
  • Mix all thoroughly with your fingers.
  • Now bring radish leaves together.
  • Check the taste and add a few more drops of lemon juice, if necessary.
  • If you are offering this delicious salad to kids or to anyone who is not accustomed to chilies,  omit green chilies, without affecting the taste.
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Mint Chutney

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This mint chutney is a delicious accompaniment for biryani , fried rice, dosa or any other similar type of dish. The combination of mint chutney with the above food dishes facilitates the digestion process, which otherwise could potentially rob us of the post-meal enjoyment. There are other benefits too. On health front, you can easily reap the numerous benefits of mint leaves, including the antioxidant quality, by making it raw this way.

How to make:

  • Take a handful of Mint leaves and drop them into the jar of the hand blender.
  • Chop one medium onion thinly and drop  into the jar.
  • Thinly chop one or two small green chilies and add  into the jar.
  • Thinly cut a root a ginger piece, 1 cm in length.
  • Next, drop two pinches of salt and a pinch of sugar.
  • Now, crush everything into a pulp using the hand blender.
  • Squeeze half a lemon into the pulp and mix it with the fingers until everything comes together.
  • Taste and add more salt or lemon, if needed.
  • Done !!!!

hand blender

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Breakfast Pancakes – Golden pancakes with golden syrup

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These spongy, sweet pancakes is a delightful start for the day. My little son wakes up on Saturday mornings and races into the kitchen to make these on his own; I am sure you can understands his enthusiasm and his irresistible temptation. He gobbles them up happily with Golden syrup, runny honey, strawberry sauce or simply dipping them into Nutella chocolate spread.

Encourage your kids to make these on their own under your supervision.  They will be delighted to watch how the white batter forms into a lovely , golden pancake on sizzling butter.

For a change, mix a few drops of red liquid cake colour to the batter to make a batch of  velvety red pancakes and see the delightful wonderment among your kiddies!!

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What you need to make these: ( Easy to use measurements in cups are given for making these  on daily basis)

 Plain flour 150 g (1cup)
Milk 150 g (4/3 cup)
Caster sugar 30 g ( 2 tbsp)
Baking powder 1 tsp
Salt 3 pinches
Egg 1
Butter for frying

 Let’s start:

  • Into a mixing bowl, sieve the flour, salt and baking powder.  Mix in the sugar and keep aside.
  • In a different jug, add the egg and milk and whisk them together.
  • Pour the milk and egg mixture into the flour and beat gently with a wooden spoon.

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  • Place a flat non-stick pan on medium flame and melt butter until bubbly.
  • Now ladle two or three spoonfuls of batter  into the frying pan in three different places, a bit far from each other.

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  • Fry the pancakes for 2 mins and flip to the other side and fry that side too. Once both sides are golden, take out from the pan and repeat with the rest of the batter, not forgetting to drop a dollop of butter to the pan first for the next batch.

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  • Serve with maple syrup, runny honey, bananas or chocolate spread on side.

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Roasted curry powder – Sri Lankan

cuyyr powder There is no better way to spice up your dishes than adding your home-made curry powder to your cooking; on one hand, you know for sure what goes in it; on the other hand, it will measurably  enhance the taste, appearance and aroma of the dishes that you love to make. Once, experienced the obvious difference, you will never go for the ready-made packets in stores. The good news is that it will only take about half-an-hour for the whole process and you only have to be careful not to let the spices burn up while roasting them in the pan.

You need the following whole spices : 

 Coriander whole 2 cups
Cumin whole 1 & 1/2 cups
Cloves 1 tbsp
Cardamoms 1 tbsp
Dried red chili whole 6
Black pepper whole 1 tsp
Cinnamon quills 4 broken into small pieces
Raw rice 1 tbsp
Curry leaves and Pandan leaves A handful each

g1 Once roasted, the colour of the spices looks like this.   Let’s make it:

  • Heat up a wide pan on medium flame and add coriander ; slowly, dry roast while constantly running  a wooden spoon through.  When the colour changes into darkest brown / blackish , immediately empty it to a foil sheet.
  • Now add the cumin seeds and roast until its colour also changed into darkest brown.  Empty it to the same sheet on top of coriander and let them cool down.
  • Now add the rest of the spices and roast them, while tossing and turning them continuously.  Add them to coriander and cumin.  Now that the spices are roasted, it is time to grind them up.

Set your spice grinder  to full speed.

  • Add a handful of roasted spices and grind until it smooth, empty on to a sheet of paper and then slowly fill in to an air tight spice container.
  • Continue this process, taking short intervals, as over-heating could damage your grinder.
  • Now fill in a smaller spice container for regular use and the rest must be stored in an  air-tight spice container and pushed to the farthest corner of your kitchen cabinet, away from light.

This will stay with its best quality and aroma intact for about 3-4 months; spice grinder  

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Best Bread – beautiful home-made bread

bread-300x293If you love bread, nothing can match this beautiful, crusty, spongy and delicious bread which will melt in your mouth!! Such a beauty is not available  even in an exclusive bakery or a supermarket in-store bakery.

The secret of this unique bread is that it’s  purely home-made – and with an ounce of love! It is all thanks to my humble bread machine that has been baking such lovely bread over the past ten years – and still baking. Thankfully, a complete recipe guide comes with the bread machine which is very useful for trying out various bakery products other than bread.

These are the ingredients needed for a large size white bread: 

Dry yeast 1 tsp
Strong white bread flour 500 g
Sugar 1 tsp
Butter 25 g
Dry milk powder 1 & 1/2 tsp
Water 300 g

Everything goes into the bucket and the bucket in turn goes into the bread machine. Set the time to your own requirements and leave it alone.  It will carry on the whole process automatically without any assistance or supervision on our part. After 4 hrs, the mouth-watering, baking-bread aroma will waft through  the whole house, then the street and beyond.

This is the PANASONIC SD-2500WXC Breadmaker .

 

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