Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcoming 2016 with my All-time Top-10 dishes!

Happy New Year!

The year 2015 was a memorable one for me for a host of reasons. On the personal front, it bestowed a melange of happy occasions, treasured memories, character-building challenges & moments of reflection. It provided a platform to dig deep and bring out the best I had in me. From a blogger's perspective, the number of blog entries crossed 200 & my blog's Facebook page now has more than 4K followers (yay!). Moreover, favourable opportunities arose for blogger collaborations & working with talented guest bloggers. For all that, gracias 2015 and vamos 2016!

I hope the brand new year brings fresh beginnings, reaffirmations of love, novel opportunities, a spirit of giving & promises for a brighter future for one and all. I enter this new year with a new outlook and changed priorities. No more superficial resolutions of losing weight, getting into shape, taking up new hobbies, shaping career paths and the likes of it. I have made a few heartfelt and purposeful promises to myself which I am intent on keeping. Wish me luck! 

Right now, I am at my in-laws home in Bangalore celebrating new year's day with my family. My brother-in-law and his wife (who live in the US) are here and they are meeting the kids for the very first time. It is heartwarming to watch them play doting aunt and uncle! Yesterday we had an intimate family dinner at home with food ordered-in from one of our favourite restaurants and dessert made by my sister-in-law and me. There was cheerful banter, laughter, goofy antics by the kids followed by an inviting spread of scrumptious food and our in-house apple crumble turned out decent too. I can't think of a better way to have welcomed 2016 😊

I thought long and hard about how I would hail the new year in my virtual home (aka my blog if you hadn't figured that out already!) and I felt I should do a round-up of my all-time favourite 10 recipes on the blog. I get frequently asked by people what my favourite recipe is or else what recipe I would suggest them to try from here. I get a little stumped because I cannot answer that question on the spur of the moment.

So, after giving it considerable thought, here are my top 10. Note that these recipes are indeed ranked in order of my preference.

Presenting the 10 dishes that not only fill my belly but also fill my heart! 💜

10. Musti Polo

Musti Polo, a Konkani speciality is a thick dosa which uses very little urad dal (just a fistful) and hence the name. These dosas are typically cooked only on one side and are characterized by their distinctive soft and fluffy texture. An Indian rice pancake of sorts.

The very first time I tried this recipe it turned out great. I have been making it ever since. I serve this dosa alongside the customary coconut chutney but I also make a spicy tomato-onion-garlic chutney to seal the deal! 

Check out the recipe here

9. Ragda Patties

Who doesn't like chaats? The explosion of flavours that you get from this variety of Indian street food tickles your tastebuds like none other! Although I am not a die-hard fan of chaats, I have a very clear preference to some over the others. The one chaat that is my numero uno is Ragda Patties. 

The main components of this dish are a shallow-fried potato cutlets and a warm and spicy yellow peas gravy. The potato cutlets are smothered in the gravy, garnished with finely chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves and topped off with a spicy chutney and a sweet and sour date-tamarind chutney. Sounds good? You bet!

This recipe features as a regular in our household and it has been the talking point of many a dinner parties that we have hosted.

Check out the recipe here

8. Pesto Walnut Pasta

This is my favourite non-Indian weekend brunch dish. There! I said it! 

I don't quite like pasta in tomato-based sauces. I prefer pasta coated in cream-based sauces but the one that really does it for me is a well-made pesto sauce. The freshness from the herbs, the warmth from the garlic along with the crunch from the nuts are just such a winning combination. 

I make this pasta using penne tossed in pesto made using fresh basil, garlic, walnuts, parmesan cheese & olive oil. The cherry tomatoes provide bursts of sweetness and bright pops of color. I throw in additional chopped walnuts and parmesan cheese for good measure. Trust me when I say that you cannot go wrong with this one. 

 Check out the recipe here

7. Vegetable Curry Puff

This one is for me is where nostalgia meets deliciousness. Vegetable puffs take me back to my childhood when I used to enjoy these flaky mixed vegetable filled pastries along with my siblings as an after-school treat. 

The Singapore version of it is called curry puff and usually has a filling comprising of chicken, eggs and a curried potato mixture. My version is much simpler and just consists of just the curried potato mixture. It is still to die for. Honest! 

Check out the recipe here

6. Stuffed Bell Peppers

This recipe was the result of a more recent culinary experiment but one that was such a resounding success that I've made it thrice already. 

The chewy texture of the brown rice works perfectly in this recipe. Along with the brown rice, the stuffing has sweet corn kernels, red beans, more bell peppers, tomatoes and cilantro which when perked up with the spice blend used and topped off grated cheese, resulted in some pretty awesome looking and yummilicious peppers.

Check out the recipe here

5. Egg Biryani

I have my husband to thank for this recipe. He toiled hard before arriving at, in my opinion, is a winning recipe. It has everything you would want from an egg biryani - subtly spiced long-grain rice, perfectly boiled eggs lightly coated in the gravy, caramelized onions, golden cashews, freshness from mint leaves & perfume from the delicate strands of saffron. 

This has become my go-to biryani recipe and even though it does take some time to make, everything is worth it when you take that first bite. 

Check out the recipe here

4. Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've lost count of how many times I've made these cookies. SERIOUSLY I'm not kidding. I've previously baked them for my colleagues on a few occasions. Apart from that, I bake them during the holiday season, I bake them when I'm expecting guests, I bake them to take home to India for my family, I bake them when I am invited to a friend's house (Ă  la Bree Van de Kamp from Desperate Housewives!) or else I just bake a huge batch out of boredom for the husband and me to munch on! 

What I love about these cookies is the texture. I am a huge fan of soft chewy cookies and these cookies turn out just the way I like 'em. This recipe is adapted from Jacques Torres and appeared in The New York Times so it is pretty legit. 

If I get bored of chocolate chips I just throw in shards of white chocolate and roughly chopped macadamia nuts. Or you could even do peanut butter or butterscotch chips for a different variation. Whatever catches your fancy....knock yourself out!

Check out the recipe here

3. Malai Kofta

Another dish that shows up on my dinner table more often than not is Malai Kofta. Although I do try to sincerely limit the number of times I make Malai Kofta, I love this recipe so much that it manages to wriggle past my not-so-steely resolve...tee...hee

I am no health freak. I do try to make smart food choices on a (sort of) daily basis and work out regularly but when the time comes to cook and enjoy certain classic recipes, I never compromise with my ingredients. If it is full-fat milk/cheese/yoghurt and the likes of it, I go ahead and use just that. I don't do substitutions. If deep-frying is involved, I fire up a pot of oil (no baked or air-fried alternatives for me). I don't apologize nor do I regret. You have one life to live and an occasional indulgence or two is not something to beat yourself up about. Life is too short for that kind of guilt, what say? 

So why not go ahead and live a little with this rich and indulgent Malai Kofta. You can hit the gym later! 

Check out the recipe here

2. Chocolate Brownies

Sure there is nothing extraordinary about brownies. Almost everyone would have enjoyed these squidgy cake squares some time or the other in their life. 

The reason my recipe for Chocolate Brownies is on this list is because of the feedback I have gotten for it so far. The recipe is so simple it is kind of ridiculous. And the final product is chocolatey goodness with a fudgy chewy interior and crusty crinkly top.

This is another dessert that I've made so many times that it has sort of become a part of my identity now. I bake a batch and take them with me to India almost every time. I know that this is one treat I'll be making for my girls when they grow older on a regular basis. And with this recipe, who knows, they might cause me to faint with delight by saying that their mommy makes the best brownies in the whole wide world!  Wishful thinking eh?!

Check out the recipe here

1. Vegetarian Nasi Goreng

For those of you who have read the history behind this recipe in an earlier post, you will probably not find it surprising that it takes the number one spot!

Let me recap for the benefit of those who have no idea what I'm going on about. After repeated attempts at failing to make a decent fried rice, I declared myself severely fried rice-challenged. But all that changed after a holiday to Bali. We were staying at a eco-friendly resort which happened to conduct cooking classes for its guests. Not one to miss anything cooking-related, I made a beeline for the kitchen along with my sister-in-law. It was there that I learnt to make Indonesian Nasi Goreng. The version we were taught was a healthier one and having tasted it over the course of several meals at the resort, I couldn't be any happier! Healthy food that tastes good....that's like winning the culinary lottery, no? 

After coming back to Singapore, I got all the ingredients, meticulously carried out all the prep work and was astonished at what I ended up making. The Nasi Goreng tasted exactly like the one we enjoyed at the resort. I was super proud of myself! Since then, I've made it a hundred times or maybe even more. I made it for my parents when they were here, for my sister and her hubby, for my in-laws, for my cousin....basically I keep making it for whoever visits my home! 

Although I don't believe in substitutions, for this recipe, I have provided as many as I could since I understand that some of the ingredients may be hard to find in non-Southeast Asian countries. But the substitutions are within a reasonable limit and do not alter the flavour of the dish significantly. But substituting anything other than what I have specifically mentioned might result in an altered flavour profile of the dish so just be mindful of that. 

Check out the recipe here

So there you have it - my favourite 10. Now you have a fair idea of what recipe you can try from my collection of recipes. If you have tried any other and you like it very much, please feel free to disagree with my list. In this particular instance, it would actually make me very happy by fuelling my ego! 

Some noteworthy mentions that narrowly missed the cut include (links provided): 

That's all from me! Have a happy, healthy and most importantly, delicious 2016!


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