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Kay's House of Treats: September 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Thai Sweet Chilli Wings

Thai Sweet Chilli Wings with Sesame Seeds

A few days ago I received a gift pack of sauces from the brand Chatkhaar with directions on featuring a recipe on my blog using one of the sauces.

I had actually tried a few of the Chatkhaar sauces before I received the gift pack. Initially they were were delivery only, however, once they started stocking at supermarkets, we got them from Imtiaz. The part that impressed me was that they created a line of gourmet sauces keeping the product and branding strategy completely different from the parent company "Naurus". The sauces themselves are a welcome change from the typical ones available in terms of variety, flavor profile and versatility of usage. Also, while the price point is higher than ketchup and chilli garlic, it is good value for money considering the quality & flavor of the sauces. 
Chatkhaar Piri Piri, Sweet Chilli Sauce & Arabian Garlic
The gift pack that I received contained what they considered to be their most popular sauces, the Piri Piri sauce, the Arabian Garlic Sauce & the Sweet Chilli Sauce. The concept behind the sauces is that each one of them represents a specific country, with the name of the sauce is written in local language on the packaging as well. Thus in the case of Sweet Chilli Sauce, the product name is also given in Thai.

The Piri Piri sauce is the classic spicy table sauce, ideal as a dipping for snacks but also good for marination. The Arabian Garlic Sauce is one of their milder sauces, and is great as an accompaniment to grilled chicken, added in a shawarma wrap, or even added in salads as a mild dressing. However, it was the Sweet Chilli Sauce that I personally found the best and featured in the recipe below. The sauce is sweet, but not overly sweet and has a major spice kick from red chilli flakes. Anyone reading this blog on a constant basis would know of my love for chilli flakes, and completely understand why this particular sauce appealed to me. I was switching between recipes, but the one recipe that instantly kicked was a typical Thai appetizer - Thai Sweet Chilli Wings. 
Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

This is actually my first time making wings, and it all started with a mini-lesson in butchery on using the proper knife and how to get the skin off from my mother. But after I had managed to get that out of the way, I am glad that the recipe itself was a success. Instead of frying the wings which would make them more fattening, I decided to bake them in the oven ensuring that they were cooked perfectly with no raw chicken wing, and coated with that sweet & spicy sauce, the wings were a resounding success. The recipe can itself be easily adjusted to other cuts of chicken, like boneless chicken & even chicken drumsticks for a yummy appetizer. 

Disclaimer: PR samples sent by the company for review & trial. However, this has not affected my opinion regarding the product itself. 

Thai Sweet Chilli Wings

1 kg Chicken Wings (tips trimmed and cut at the joint)
Chatkhaar Sweet Chilli Sauce - 200 grams (approx. 3/4th of the bottle)
Soya Sauce - 1 tbsp
Brown Sugar - 2 tbsp
Red Chilli Flakes - 1 tsp (can be removed or adjusted based on spice preference)
Salt - 2 tsp
Sesame Oil - 1/2 tbsp (can be removed if not available but added for more Asian flavor)
Toasted Sesame Seeds - 3 tsp (Toast Sesame seeds in a toaster oven for about 3-4 minutes till light brown)
Spring Onions - For garnish (optional)

Cut the chicken wings into three pieces - wings, drumettes and wing tips. Discard the wing tips or reserve them for making stock. I prefer skinless wings which is why I removed the skin from the wings. The best method is to to ask the butcher to clean & cut up the wings, however, if the wings are in one size, then it would be best to google up an instruction video on cutting wings for help. Keep the wings in a big bowl.

Take a medium sized bowl and add the Chatkhaar Sweet Chilli sauce, brown sugar, salt, red chilli flakes, sesame oil and mix well together. Add about 3/4th of the sweet chilli mixture to the chicken wings and mix well together making sure that all wings are coated properly. Leave to marinate for at least 20 minutes. 

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C for at least ten minutes before about to put the chicken wings inside. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and then spread the chicken wings in a single layer on the baking sheet. I used one big baking sheet but two small baking sheets can be used as well. Do make sure that the baking sheet is properly lined since that will keep the mess to a minimum. Using a silicone pastry brush or a spoon, make sure that the chicken is properly covered with the remaining marinade. 

Bake for about 45 minutes, turning the chicken over with kitchen tongs after about 20 minutes to ensure that it is cooked on both sides. If using two baking sheets, it may take slightly more time to cook the chicken, and it is necessary to revove the baking sheet from top to bottom and vice versa to ensure heat is circulated properly. When turning the chicken over, the leftover marinade mixture can be used to coat the chicken. While the chicken is cooking, the juices of the chicken will release, and initially there will be a lot of water which will dry up into a sticky sauce by the time the chicken is cooked.
Topped with toasted sesame seeds 
Once the wings are baked, put them in a bowl and toss with the remaining 1/4th sweet chilli mixtture so that it is mixed properly. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds & spring onions.
Sweet & Spicy Thai Sweet Chilli Wings 
For Home Delivery, e-mail: info@chatkhaar.com; 
Phone: 021-32566314 for deliveries in KHI,LHR,ISB,RWP
For International Customers 
New York Tristate Area: 718-607-8604
Houston and Dallas : 713-777-4999
Toronto: 416-358-578-66
Product Range: 
Mango Chutney, Mint Chutney, Plum Chutney, Shahi Chutney, Imli Chutney, Green Chilli Chutney, , Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce, Arabian Garlic Sauce, French Honey Mustard, Portuguese Piri Piri Sauce, 
Mixed Pickle, Olive Pickle, Green Chilli Pickle, Sweet Lime Pickle & Lasoora Pickle. 

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

How to make Home-Made Paneer or Cottage Cheese

I tried my hand at making Paneer for the first time when I made Palak Paneer just a few days ago. The inspiration being a local company that delivers organic vegetables & organic fresh milk. I ordered some spinach & the buffalo milk for a trial, and instantly the thing that came to my mind was to make Palak Paneer and also try my hand at making Paneer.

Paneer is a soft fresh Indian cottage cheese which can be easily made using milk & acid together. It's quite popular in Indian cuisine, specifically in North India due to the fact that its a healthy & delicious vegetarian menu. Some of the popular dishes range from Paneer Tikka, Paneer Pakora's (Fritters), Paneer Butter Masala, Palak Paneer & Aalo Matar Paneer (Peas and Potatoes with Paneer). In fact, I think its a much vegetarian alternative to tofu since not only is it easy to make but is delicious eaten on its own as well, or grilled or fried. 

Furthermore, for a bit of extra flavor, flavored paneer can also be made by adding spices or herbs. For example, the first time I made Paneer was basic plain flavored paneer and the next time I added fresh coriander (dhaniya) & some crushed red chilli flakes to give it just a little bit of kick. I was always a big fan of Paneer, but ever since I tried making it at home, there's definitely going to be no store-bought Paneer for me. 
Flavored Chilli & Coriander Paneer
How to Make Home Made Paneer 
Yields approx. 200-225 grams of Paneer from 1 litre milk

Update: Have found a supplier that delivers fresh hormone-free cow's milk to my place; Good quality milk which is convenient & affordable. Details are available at the end of this post.
1 litre full-cream milk; its necessary to make sure that the milk is fresh - tetra-pak milk  cannot be used
Acid Ingredient - One of the following
2 tsp lemon juice or 2 tsp fresh yoghurt or 2 tsp vinegar
Flavorings (Optional) - Finely chopped fresh coriander, red chilli flakes, black pepper, salt etc
Flavorings - finely chopped garlic with red chilli pepper; finely chopped garlic with chopped green chilli;

Equipment Required: 
Muslin Cloth/Cheesecloth - Muslin cloth is basically 'malmal' in Urdu - so any clean & washed old Dupatta or fabric lying around can be used
Heavy Weight - A Mortar is good for pressing down the Paneer or desi Sil-Batta.

Note: It is not necessary to add flavorings in the Paneer, but since I had taken pictures of this version, this is what I posted. I think it makes the procedure much more simpler when explaining with pictures.

1 - Pour the 1 litre milk in a medium sized pan and put to boil. If using finely chopped garlic as a flavoring agent, then add now so that the raw garlic can cook for a bit & infuse the milk. 
2 - Line a sieve with muslin cloth/cheese cloth & put it over a big bowl. 
3 - Make sure that you keep standing next to the stove, since the milk can boil over anytime.
4 - Once small bubbles start appearing at the edge of the pot and the milk is about to start boiling, add flavorings if using. For example, in this recipe, I used 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp crushed red chilli flakes, & 1 tsp of fresh corriander leaves.
Light Boil - Added the spices & herbs
Time to add the the acid when the milk starts boiling 
5 - Once the milk starts boiling, turn the heat to low to make sure it doesn't boil over. Add the acid ingredient (lemon juice) and keep stirring. The milk should curdle/separate as soon as the lemon juice has been added. Stir continously until the milk is completely curdled and the water (whey) turns yellow-green in color. In case the milk does not curdle then add a few more drops of lemon juice till the milk has curdled and the water turns yellow-green. 
Curdled Milk with White Curds Separated & Greenish Yellow Liquid Remaining
6 - Remove from heat. 
7 - Pour the mixture into the sieve lined with a muslin cloth.
8 - Drain the whey/yellow liquid. 
9 - Tie up the cheesecloth/muslin in a tight bundle and hang it for about 15-20 minutes so that the moisture is drained. Alternatively, you can just lift it up, close the muslin cloth & squeeze the moisture as much as possible.
Paneer with the whey drained
10 - Then place the cheesecloth on a flat surface and place a weight on it so that the cheese gets flatter and any additional moisture is drained. Keep it for about 30 minutes.
11 - Once the paneer is set, it can be cut into cubes of any shape to be used.
Set Paneer ready to cut into cubes
12 - Keep the Paneer in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 
13 - It will stay fresh for 3-4 days.
14 - Use the Paneer to make Palak Paneer, grill it for sandwiches or use to make gravies.

Sources for Fresh Hormone-Free Cow's Milk
While you can purchase cow's milk from the nearby milk shop, there is a new supplier that I discovered that delivers it to my place and it is also hormone-free. Have been using the milk since end May 2014, and so far its pretty good. Details for getting delivery done given below:

Pure Cow Milk
For information and free home delivery:
UAN: 11-11-DAIRY (11-11-32479)
Email: customer.care@fd.com.pk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/purodairy

Some Tips:
1 - Use good quality fresh milk. I used Buffalo milk for the first time which yielded a slightly creamier & white colored Paneer.
2 - Either yoghurt, lemon juice or vinegar can be used to curdle the milk. If yoghurt is used, then it should be fresh. Its best to add 1 tsp at a time to see when the milk curdles. If the milk has not curdled, then another tsp needs to be used. The milk will completely curdle when the water turns a light green/yellow color. 
3 - Remove immediately & drain once the milk has curdled otherwise if the milk is overcooked, it will lead to a hard Paneer.
4 - Once you get the hang of making Paneer, keep experimenting with flavors and try them out in different recipes. 
5 - The leftover liquid/whey can be used for making roti's (making the dough) or added to veggies/gravies or used to water plants. 

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Palak Paneer / Spinach with Cottage Cheese

Yes, I know. I keep pulling a disappearing every few weeks or so, but then I try to compensate by posting a number of recipes in one go :). This time I am posting a really delicious vegetarian recipe - palak/spinach with paneer/cottage cheese. I personally don't like spinach, but this is one dish which I love spinach in - the spinach is grinded into a paste & the creaminess of the paneer/cottage cheese contrast beautifully making this a delicious vegetarian main course.
Also, this time instead of buying store-bought paneer/cottage cheese I experimented in making my own and I could not believe how good it was - it was so fresh & creamy & delicious and the best part is that it can easily be adapted in different flavors - a little bit of herbs to make Masala Paneer & some crushed red pepper to make Chilli Paneer. Will be posting the recipe soon & keep on experimenting with new flavors & recipes. 

Recipe for Home-Made Paneer Updatedhttp://kayshouseoftreats.blogspot.com/2013/09/how-to-make-home-made-paneer-or-cottage.html

Palak Paneer - Spinach with Cottage Cheese

Spinach - 2 large bunches
Paneer (cottage cheese) - 200 grams (Store-bought or Home-Made)
Recipe for Home-Made Paneer: 
Corn flour - for coating paneer/cottage cheese
Green chillies - 2-3 (roughly chopped)
Garlic - 6 cloves (finely chopped)
Onion - about 1/2 a medium onion (finely chopped)
Oil - 3 tablespoons
Cumin seeds/Zeera - 1/2 teaspoon
Crushed Red Chilli Pepper - 1 tsp (optional to make it more spicy)
Salt - to taste (about 2 tsp)
Lemon juice - 1 tablespoon
Fresh cream - 4 tablespoons (optional)
For Prep: Pot of boiling water a pot of ice-cold water for blanching
                     Oil for shallow frying paneer/cottage cheese

Put a pan of salted water on boil. Remove stems of spinach & thoroughly in running water. Blanch in salted boiling water for two minutes. Take spinach out of the boiling water and immediately add it in the ice-cold water. Drain & squeeze out excess water. The reason that it is added in cold water after boiling is so that the beautiful green color of the spinach is retained.

Blend/Grind spinach into a fine paste along with green chillies. This step can be done ahead and the spinach/green chili paste can be kept in the refrigerator for about 2 days. 

Chop paneer into one inch by one inch by half inch pieces. Toss in cornflour to coat & shallow-fry in hot oil till brown on all sides. Drain paneer on a kitchen towel and keep aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet/wok/pot. Add cumin seeds. When they begin to change colour, add chopped garlic and sauté for half a minute. Add chopped onion and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes till light golden. Add the spinach puree and mix well. Keep the heat on low the spinach puree has a habit of sputtering and that gets messy. 

Add salt & red chilli flakes & adjust seasoning if required. Add water if required. When the gravy comes to a boil, stir in lemon juice. Add half of the paneer and mix. Garnish with remaining paneer & cream & serve.

Note: The paneer and cream should be added at the last minute, so that it can remain the crisp texture. My usual habit is to make the spinach mixture, and then re-heat it just before serving and pouring it in a dish. After that I add the paneer and/or cream and serve. 

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