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31 July 2010

Apple Fig and Poppyseed Muffins

Weekend is here. My weekend mornings are no different from weekday mornings. My toddler hasn't yet figured out the weekend business so it's business as usual for us. Last night we forgot to leave the basket out for the milk, so the milkman rang the doorbell at 6 am so that the cats don't get to the milk before me. His intentions were good, but that meant my son woke up with the sound of the bell and dragged me out of bed too. S had left really early for his long run - that left the two of us to fend for each other for the next couple of hours. 

Sometimes, I just throw whatever is on hand when I get a craving to bake something. Sometimes, I prepare the ingredients over a few days and finally get compelled to use them in something. This morning, it was the second situation. I'd finely chopped up some figs a couple of days ago. Yesterday I brewed some strong fruit infusion (Twinings Strawberry and Raspberry), chopped up an apple and soaked the chopped apple and figs overnight in the tea.

This morning, it was time to put them to use. I recently bought this lovely little book called the Muffin Bible. No fancy author here, just a compilation of several very doable recipes. I'd bought to gift Arundati on her birthday. As luck would have it, we could not meet up that day and then when I called her last week, she said she already had that book. Trust a food blogger to have the best and most useful cookbooks on her shelf already! I'd already flipped through the book the very night I'd bought it. Needless to say right? The recipe I've adapted from is the Almond-poppyseed muffins.




Apple, fig and poppyseed muffins
Makes 1 dozen 



Ingredients
8 dried figs, chopped finely
1/2 apple, chopped finely
1 cup strong tea (made from 2 tea bags, fruit infusions or any other)

2 tbsp yogurt or 1 egg
1/2 cup sugar, coarsely ground
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp poppy seeds (the dark variety)

1 cup Maida (all purpose flour)
3/4 cup Atta (whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup Makkai ka atta (corn meal)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Preparation
Soak the finely chopped figs and apple in the tea. Cover and keep for a couple of hours or overnight.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven at 200 C. Line a 12 muffin pan with paper liners or oil them well.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the yogurt (or egg) along with sugar and salt well. 
  3. Whisk the oil into this. Add the milk and mix in the poppy seeds.
  4. Sieve the flours with the baking powder and soda a couple of times.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just incorporated. Do not over-mix or beat this. 
  6. Add the soaked fruits and the half cup of tea that will remain behind.
  7. Spoon the batter into the liners until 3/4th filled.
  8. Bake at 200 C for 20-25 minutes. Test with a knitting needle / spaghetti if the centers are done. If not bake for 3-4 minutes and check again.
  9. Remove the muffins and eat warm.

Notes
  • Some ovens can accommodate not more than 9 muffin tin. In that case bake 9 muffins and once done, bake remaining 3 in a second batch or bake a small cake in a small tart tin or so.
  • I have soaked the fruit in flavoured tea for added flavour. You may choose to omit the soaking stage, add the chopped fig and apple as it is, but use 1 cup milk instead.
  • You can also soak the fruit in 1/4 cup rum + 3/4 cup warm water if you prefer a fruit-cake like taste.

29 July 2010

Moroccan Chickpea stew

Update: Starting this post, I will try and list the places where you can procure ingredients that feature in the recipe, if it is not a regular pantry item. Since I am currently located in Hyderabad, I will be featuring places from this city, and the areas I am familiar with. Readers are welcome to leave their comments about availability of such ingredients in other parts of Hyd / other cities.

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A few weeks ago, a fellow foodie friend dropped by home and told us how he loves to dish out Moroccan food in his kitchen and how he managed to get a local potter to make him the tagine dish too! The foodie in me did not need more kindling than that to start craving a hot pot of Moroccan stew with robust flavours, not very unlike our Indian flavours.

My first brush with Moroccan cuisine was in the Momo Moroccan restaurant in London a few years ago. The vegetable stew and couscous was just perfectly spiced and delicious to suit my vegetarian palate. Chickpeas are another common ingredient in Moroccan cuisine and a chickpea stew sounded like the perfect way to satisfy the cravings.

You can easily pair this stew with some hearty bread like ciabatta or a rye loaf. Couscous is fairly easily available in most Metros. [See end of post on where to buy couscous in Hyderabad.] I usually give a laundry list of foodie items to the husband when he travels abroad and he is only too happy to comply.I don't call him my (eating) partner for nothing!

I adapted from a Food Network recipe - Recipe courtesy Dave Liebermann


Recipe for Moroccan Chickpea Stew
Serves 2

Ingredients
1/2 cup dried chickpeas
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, crushed roughly
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 cup chopped tomatoes
3 cups water plus 2 cubes Maggie Super seasoning or 3 cups of Vegetable stock
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 cups of fresh greens (I used spinach)

Preparation
Soak the chickpeas in lot of water with a pinch of baking soda (optional) for 6-12 hours

Directions
Drain the chickpeas - cover with 2 cups water and pressure cook for 10 minutes, till soft but not mushy. Keep aside.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil. Saute the onion and garlic on a low flame till soft and cooked, around 7-8 minutes.
Add the spice powders, chopped tomatoes, boiled chickpeas with water and seasoning cubes.
Taste before adding salt as the seasoning cubes contain salt.
Simmer for 7-8 minutes on low flame for the chickpeas to absorb the flavours and the tomatoes to cook.
Add the roughly chopped greens. These will wilt in a couple of minutes.
Grind some black pepper on the top and serve hot / warm with bread or couscous.

For directions on How to Prepare Couscous, check my post on Couscous with roasted Vegetables

Places to buy couscous in Hyderabad
SPAR - Begumpet
QMart - Road 2, Banjara Hills
Hypercity - Inorbit Mall, Cyberabad

Places to buy gourmet breads in Hyderabad
Deli 9, various outlets
Sweet Nirvana Patisserie, Madhapur
Beyond Coffee, Road 36 Jubilee Hills

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