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Orange Chiffon Cake

It is my utmost desire to post on this meticulously-unmaintained site recipes with ingredients I have not posted before. So I give to you today a recipe for a chiffon cake flavored with freshly squeezed orange juice accompanied with freshly scraped off zest.

Around this time last year I was thinking of how utterly lovely it would be to have a piece of citrusy goodness that is the epitome of airy perfection in the form of a chiffon cake.

So, around this time last year I made the chiffon cake of citrusy goodness.

And I took pictures of said cake of citrusy goodness.

But, unfortunately, the pictures never saw the light of day. Never made the treacherous jump from my sad, barely used SD card on to my computer. And then, as it frequently happens I completely forgot about the pictures. Till today. When I finally have a weekend off. And I finally have the time to go through the pictures and I thought it would just be wrong to not share this with you all.

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So here it is. My recipe for an orange chiffon cake. Correction. The only recipe you’ll ever need for an orange chiffon cake. A year late but as solid a recipe as any.  A cake with deliciously moist crumbs that keeps wonderfully at room temperature for a few days and can also be frozen wrapped tightly in clear wrap for a month.

p.s. The recipe is also kid approved. My very talented yet very picky niece loved it and yours will too.

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Phuchka

I am making phuchka. Tagging along with me (the pride and joy of my kitchen) are Pico and Bella —  my two kittens. Why are two cats the pride and joy of my kitchen you ask. Because I can not seem to keep them away. If they are not trying to trip me over, they watch my every move with ardent interest till they fall asleep. I think my cats might be foodies too. Or so I’d like to think.

Anyways, back to phuchka. I have been craving it for years and the last time I had  it I was in Boston. So basically eons ago. And really, it’s not that hard to make. It is technique sensitive and requires you to adjust the temperature a bit. But I feel it’s well worth it. And it keeps for a while in an airtight container. So just go through it once and you have enough phucchka to last you a while. Unless you are me and you are addicted to these thin crispy shells that absolutely beg to be filled and devoured. Read on for the step by step directions.

First, make a stiff dough and let it rest for 20 minutes covered with a wet paper towel or a clean dish rag.

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Roll it out to thinly and cut out the circles. A cookie cutter is your best friend here. If you don’t have an appropriate sized one handy use a small lid — the kind you get from a jar of jelly.

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Place the circles in a baking tray in a single layer and cover with another wet towel.

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Place a cooling rack on a sheet pan and place phuchka in a single layer as you fry these. Paper towel or even newspaper can be used to drain the oil in the absence of a cooling rack.

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Let it cool before placing in an air tight container. If they lose their crispiness heat them in an 200 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20-25 minutes.

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Here’s a close up shot of one.

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And another, just in case you missed exactly how wonderfully puffed up and hollow they are.

It is sinfully good.

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mango ice cream

Mango Ice Cream

Two kittens and another year of dental school later I dare say that I am back to posting again. I want  to say that I’ll be more regular this time, but I can’t — lest this blog makes me out to be a bigger liar. So let us not make promises. Let us simply talk about ice cream. Although, it’s not like I need an excuse to talk about ice cream but in case you do, it is 80 something degrees outside and July is the National Ice Cream month and..and.. last but not least I have a dinner party to throw this weekend. Here’s a sneak peak into the two ice creams I’ll be serving. The first one is a mango ice cream — because I absolutely adore the fruit and the second one is a namesake of this blog — a delicate saffron-rose water ice cream.

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Spiced Apple Cider

I do hate whining but I fear I must. Two more days left till we bid February adieu and (at least, here in Philadelphia) winter has no sign of leaving. Every week though, there comes a time when I think we have seen the worst of the chilly weather. Happily I start to dig through my shamefully messy closet in search of a spring dress but it is freezing again the next day. I guess being from a subtropical country has its ups and downs. No matter how long I live in the east coast, I fear I may never get used to the cold…which brings me to my latest recipe — Spiced apple cider. I firmly believe, anything tea can do, cider can do better. Especially, cider that has been gently simmered with orange peel and cloves and cinnamon. Dear god, if you could only smell my kitchen right now you would forgive me for all the things I have burnt since I started Saffron Tales.

Cider and cinnamon are what signify fall. But smack-dab in the middle end of winter you can’t blame a girl for craving some.  Fair warning though, this is quite addictive and lovely to sip on with a snuggie wrapped tight around you.

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Black Sesame Lace Cookies

Those who know me know that I absolutely, madly, deeply love cookies. I love them so much I would marry them if I wasn’t already hitched to my Mr  R. We are all friends here so I don’t mind telling you. I am infatuated and I am always stealing a bite here and there. For some reason though I never got around to posting about these little morsels here. It is high time I break that streak of not posting about cookies. These cookies live up to their name by being utterly delicate, brittle and divine. Lovely to munch on they go equally well with a bowl of ice cream. The recipe is from my favorite cook book “Flour” by Joanne Chang who owns the bakery by the same name. I discovered these in Boston and although I no longer live there, these cookies remind me of those days.

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This is where I forgot to have parchment paper on my baking sheet and regretted it bitterly. The cookies got stuck to the pan and a couple of them tore. Oh well, life goes on.

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A Flat Bread Recipe — Porota

Weekend breakfast? Or unhealthiness extreme.

A very simple flat bread is what I bring for you folks today. Every Bengali household makes this. But, alas, every time I tried my hand at these instead of billowy soft, flaky flat bread, I ended up with dry ones that were hard to chew and even harder to swallow. Blame it on my incompetence, I fail to churn out tens of these by the minute like my mother. My only consolation was that maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that I wasn’t a pro at this. If I was, I would be making it more often and my waistline would not thank me. Somehow this inability to make soft porota has always eaten away at me. No pun intended.

So far away from home, what would people do if they craved porota, the way it was made at home? I’m talking about the people who, like me don’t/can’t always roll out the dough in a perfect circle. Fear not, for there is a way. This method ensures that porotas are as soft hot as they are when they get cold.  The trick is to add a finer flour to the mix. Along with all purpose flour add in a bit of cake flour. The finer cake flour somehow keeps it from getting hard. I kid you not people. This really does work. So, go on and take a look at the step by step pictures below.

First you knead the dough. On your stand mixer or with your own two hands. And cut them into four pieces.

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And the four become eight.

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Each piece gets shaped into a ball.

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Now roll it out. Doesn’t have to be a perfect circle.

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Spread a thin layer of oil. Or if you want to be extra unhealthy, go with ghee.

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Now follow the steps to make a square.

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Roll it out and then place on a well heated skillet. Cast iron works well. Wait for 30 seconds then flip over and start placing gentle pressure it will puff up a little. Then flip again and it will puff up completely. BTW, it’s fine if yours doesn’t puff up. Don’t fret the small stuff.

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When all eight are done. Now it is time to fry. Or you could choose to keep these in the fridge and fry ‘em up when you want to eat them. Or when your friend/partner/spouse wants to eat ‘em. Like you see my friend/partner/spouse doing in the background.

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Another close up and I’m done.

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Pranhara

Hello all. I’m back with a delicious goodness that comes in the form of chunky white spheres the color of pearls. Translated literally “pranhara” means losing your heart. It’s like falling in love. Only better. because you can pop each one in your mouth to fall in love with it over and over and over again. Tell me that’s a bad thing.

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There are two steps to making pranhara. The first is to make mawa or khoya. The second is to make chana and then a quick stir over medium heat and you are ready to give them their traditional round shape.

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The recipe has been slightly modified from tokjhalmisti.blogspot.com. Enjoy!!

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Shrimp Curry with Sriracha and Lime Leaves

I’ve started to notice a trend with me. Please let me know if you feel the same way.

The names of my posts have been getting longer and longer. And, no. I haven’t bet myself on how long I can make these names. It’s just that ever since I’ve moved to this new site, I want you all to appreciate how much goes into the recipes. Yes. I do know that sounds needy. I am embarrassed.

Moving on, I am one of those people that like it hot. There’s a special place in my heart for hot brings-tears-to-your-eyes spicy dishes. This recipe is kind of up there. I’m warning you from before, it needs to consumed with rice and copious amounts of water.

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Adding Sriracha hot sauce adds another layer of subtle heat to the dish. For the Sriracha-virgins out there, it’s the bright red sauce with a green top that you find in Asian stores and in most well stocked regular grocery stores now a days. And lime leaves. Let me tell you about the lime leaves. I am ashamed to admit that I have only recently started using it in my cooking. And oh my! Does it make a world of difference or what. You can easily find it in your Asian/Thai/Vietnamese grocery store freezer section labeled as Kaffir lime leaves or simply lime leaves. It adds a light, refreshing scent, and no substitution can get you there. Grating lime zest is good but isn’t quite the same thing. Lime leaves have an inherently transforming quality about them, it does not add a flavor you can savor with your tongue but your olfactory senses, well that’s a whole different story.

Feel free to tone down the spice level. But please do not leave out the lime leaves.

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Back to basics for the first post of 2013

Happy new year folks. I know I am a little late here. But I think you should be able to guess why. Classes have started again. On the 2nd to be exact and then after numerous practice sessions (read failed attempts), and 7 hours of practical exam over two days later, I am back to saffron tales. This being the first post of 2013, I have been raking my brain trying to come up with something worldly and appropriately fitting to say. And… Nope…nothing.. . So for the first post of 2013, I have decided to go back to my roots and to post a rice recipe. Why rice, you ask.  Well, it’s because I’m Bengali. And Bengali’s and rice go together like bread and butter, like macaroni and cheese, and salt and pepper. Milk and cookies.  Ketchup and fries. You get my point.

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Anyways. Us, Bengalis, we eat rice everyday.  We eat it for lunch, for dinner, sometimes for dessert and heck, some people even eat it for breakfast. Rice is forever the entrée relegating all the others to sides. Sadly though, it is surprisingly easy to, um, screw up. Look away for a minute and lovely grains are forever transformed into an unsalvageable mush. But, never again people. We must say, never again.

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Here I give you the way to cook the perfect polau. If one rice dish goes especially well with a curry banquet it’s polau. I simply adore it with its mellow fragrance and spice-strewn appearance. Those that cook pulao should notice how this is done a little differently. The rice is not roasted in oil before water is added (I promise to post how to do that soon), but have faith, it does turn out brilliantly.

As always, Enjoy!!

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Chicken Reshmi Kabob

The star of my kabob repertoire– chicken reshmi kabob. As much as I love beef sheekh kabob, this positively rocks my world.

The word “reshmi” means silk in Bengali. And true to its name, this kabob is soft as silk, and succulent to boot. Two separate stages of marination somehow transforms a pile of thinly sliced chicken breasts into utter deliciousness.  If chicken breasts have a reason for existing on this planet, this is it. And, as a chicken lover I do not say this lightly.

I have been asked the recipe, numerous times, by many of you. And it’s not like I was holding out on purpose. I found the original recipe on ecurry  and I just wanted to do the recipe justice. As perfect as it was, I still wanted to tweak just a little here and there. But that wasn’t the only reason. You never heard of this till now, mostly because it was gone before I had the chance to take a half-decent picture.

If you like meat threaded through a skewer, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t… try this right now.

Immediately.

You will not regret it. You might however regret never being able to be satisfied with an Indian restaurant kabob again.

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The first step is to cut breast meat into thin slices. It helps to have the meat slightly frozen and to use a sharp knife. Then dump the powdered spices into a gallon size zip lock bag. close the bag and toss and turn to cover the meat really well.

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While the dry marinade is doing its thing prepare the wet marinade and pour it in. Mix again. And wait for an hour or so.

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Thread into skewers and you are ready to grill.

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Umm, just one problem though, you say. It’s winter. And it’s snowing. So heat up your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit  say a little prayer so that your fire alarm doesn’t go off and stick the kabobs in. And voila, food is ready. With a little bit of raita it becomes almost transcendent.

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P.S. Leftovers make amazing lunch the next day.

As always, enjoy!!