Sunday, August 25, 2013

Recipe of the month: Rajma Cheese Paratha

I must have already professed my love for aloo parathas in an earlier recipe post but there is another paratha that catches my fancy in a similar way. This is the not-so-common and unusual sounding 'Rajma Cheese Paratha'. This paratha has a filling which is a combination of kidney beans, cheese and spring onions which makes for a surprisingly delightful combination. 

Several years ago, I bought a cookbook by Tarla Dalal which was dedicated to parathas. I still have that book with me and it is stashed along with my other cookbooks on a kitchen shelf. I will admit that I haven't tried too many of the recipes from this book but one of the first ones that I did try and absolutely loved was this rajma cheese paratha. I have been making this paratha for a really long time and it is one of my go-to recipes when I'm in the mood for parathas. This dish is not only delicious but nutritious as well. Incorporating kidney beans and cheese into a whole wheat paratha, fortifies the dish with protein, carbs and fat. If you are worried about the cheese being in there, just go for a low-fat option. The addition of cheese imparts a creamy texture to the paratha so I wouldn't recommend skipping it.

I make this paratha in two ways depending on my frame of mind and how much time I have on hand. Sometimes to make a paratha, I make two small chapatis, place the filling on top of one, smear the edges with a little water, place the second chapati over the top, seal the edges and roll until the desired size is reached. Other times, I make just 1 chapati, place the filling in the centre, gather the edges to enclose the filling, pat down slightly and roll it into the desired size. The former technique is much easier but more time consuming so if you don't have too much experience in paratha making, I would suggest that method. But if you are particularly adept at making parathas, then you can follow the method shown in the recipe. 

I already had a draft ready for this recipe but I delayed posting it because I was unhappy with how the photos turned out. It was just one of those days when the weather decided to screw me over! I have too many other recipes on my cooking radar so I didn't foresee a time when I'll be making these parathas again any time soon. That's my excuse for you being stuck with the original crappy photos! I may update the photos in this post at a later stage.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Restaurant review: Graze @ Rochester Park, Singapore

When you hear the word 'Graze', you would probably imagine a bunch of cows leisurely chowing down grass amidst lush green surroundings. Well, replace cows with humans and grass with grub and viola! you might as well be sitting at this restaurant  

Graze is located in a pre-war, colonial-style black and white house in Rochester Park, near Holland Village and offers a new concept in contemporary dining where people can hang out for an extended periods of time, experiencing modern Australian cuisine in a friendly and relaxed environment. The grassy lawns of Graze’s gardens and the fresh, airy ambiance of the colonial-style house adds to the allure of this restaurant. 

It was my first time in Rochester Park even though it is a stone's throw away from my workplace. I have been to the popular food enclaves in this part of the city like Holland Village and Dempsey Hill plenty of times but never to Rochester Park. My first thoughts as I entered the narrow, quiet, picturesque street leading up to the series of charming white colonial-style restaurants were - "why haven't I been here's so lovely!" I was supposed to be meeting three of my girlfriends for brunch on a Saturday morning (very Carrie Bradshaw-esque, minus the alcohol!) and we were scheduled to reach there by 11:30am. Since I was the first one to reach the venue, I had plenty of photo ops as you can see


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Baker's Corner: Cheese Soufflé

The oh-so-fancy soufflé makes its debut appearance on my blog!

A soufflé is a French inspired dish that is a lightly baked cake made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites combined with various other ingredients and served as a savory main dish or a sweet dessert. The word soufflé is derived from French and means "to blow up" or more loosely "puff up" which is an apt description of what happens to this combination of custard and egg whites in this dish.

It is no secret that the soufflé has a bad reputation. It is notorious for making even the most accomplished cooks break into a cold sweat. Whenever I see a soufflé being made on television, I always hear the ominous predictions of all that could go wrong. Temperamental people are my least favorite kind of people so it is no surprise that fussy dishes make me weary. That being said, I think it is good to accept cooking challenges and attempt dishes that are considered difficult. In the past, I have tried out the Chocolate Fondant which is another popular kitchen nightmare and although it didn't turn out perfect, I'm glad that I at least attempted it 😊

To be very honest, I'm not a huge fan of a savory soufflé. I consider it to be a fancy replacement to a simple plain omelette! I prefer the sweet variety any day. Making a soufflé has always been on my cooking radar. The reason I attempted the savory soufflé first is because I wanted to limit it to an audience of just me and hubby so I could comfortably learn all the basic tips and tricks for making a good soufflé before I attempted the sweet kind for future dinner parties. Now that I have overcome my initial fear of soufflés, you can expect to see a chocolate soufflé soon on my blog!

This recipe is from Alton Brown, one of the people I admire the most on Food Network. I thought who better to follow for a recipe that is challenging than a person who delves so deeply into food science. This recipe has a few ingredients and is relatively simple. I made sure I followed the instructions very precisely. If you plan to make this dish I would advise you to keep all the ingredients ready, familiarize yourself with the recipe beforehand and have a plan in your mind as to how you are going to proceed. Scrambling around the kitchen like a headless chicken is not something you want to be doing especially with a fiddly dish like this!

Anyway, coming to the outcome of my soufflé experiment, the resultant soufflé was light and airy with the subtle flavor of cheese coming through. It was a little bland though and next time I might consider adding in some cayenne pepper. I was anxious whether the soufflé would rise or not so I was glancing at it nervously every few minutes as it was baking in the oven. Much to my delight, the soufflé rose a very impressive 3-4 inches above the edge of the ramekin. Unfortunately, it didn't stay that way and slowly started to collapse after a few minutes. I just managed to take some pictures as it began to sink!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Book Review: Lord of the Flies

You know what I consider to be a really good weekend? One in which I have time to curl up with a good book undisturbed and be able to finish the book by the time the weekend bids adieu. It doesn't happen very often but when it does, it leaves me feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Well, that is exactly what I was able to do last weekend (yay!). My bookcase at home is crammed with so many books that I "was supposed" to read but never got around to doing. My pick this time round was Lord of the Flies, a book I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never even heard of until a few years ago. 

The Lord of the Flies is a 1954 allegorical novel written by Nobel prize winning English author William Golding. It is classic literature which has long since made its foray into reading material for schools, colleges and English literature courses for its thought-provoking take on human nature. It is also somewhat controversial for its dark and disturbing subject matter. My copy had the preface penned by Stephen King. I enjoyed reading his account of the circumstances leading up to his reading Lord of the Flies for the very first time, a book which profoundly resonated with him as a young boy and has evidently influenced him as a writer to this day.   

Before I proceed further, let me warn you that this review is ridden with spoilers so if you have been meaning to read this book then scoot!