Friday, 13 June 2014

Purple rice pudding

In my home town (Imphal, Manipur), not many people are fond of sweets. One of my colleagues in Delhi asked me once "What are the signature sweets of Manipur?" And I didn't have the answer. I didn't know. Well, there is kabok (something like sweet crunchy balls made of rice) and chini heiganl (jaggery). I rarely had sweets at home. When I miss home, I don't think of kabok or heingal. The things that come to my mind are ngari (fermented fish) and soibum (bamboo shoots).
At home, almost every dish is about chilli, fish (fresh or fermented), bamboo shoots, stews, garnished with so many variety of herbs, pork and beef for the younger generations.

But there is one gem that comes to my mind when I think of something sweet from home that I loved and still love...dark, rare, and expensive...the PURPLE RICE!
Some say it's black...but to my eyes they are purple, dark purple...and back home, it's lovingly called chakhao. The best way to have purple rice is to make pudding out of it.
The recipe is very very simple. Wash only once before cooking. Too many wash and the purple rice will lose its aroma and nutrients. I never use exact measurements to cook it. It is cooked the same as rice is cooked. But instead of water, milk is used. You can vary the amount of milk depending on how you want the pudding to be...runny or thick. Add sugar to your taste and nuts for garnishing. Although it tastes divine as it is without any garnish.

Another way of having it is my mom's way. She cooks the purple rice in plain water. And devours it with chuhi (thickened sugarcane juice).

Oh yes, plainly cooked purple rice is also divine as it is...maybe it's because of the distinctively delicious aroma it has...out of this world!
#purplericepudding #chakhao #cuisinesofmanipur

#chakhao #cuisinesof manipur

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Eccles cake/Puff pastry...My way!

Being an amateur baker, that also in India, where it a little difficult to get some special ingredients, I love easy and simple recipes. In that sense, "The Cake-Maker's Bible" has really been a priceless discovery. It has 165 easy, simple cake recipes with step-by-step procedures and 800 photographs to make amazing delectable cakes for every occasion...tea party, celebrations, special occasions, you name it and it's there. Not only that, it has information on different cake-making methods, recipes for frostings and fillings, will be spoilt for choices. If you are health concious, every recipe has nutritional notes (calorie count and fat content). I am health concious but not that concious so never gave these notes a glance :p

I am trying the recipes one by one. I found a favourite among them which I never fail to make again and again...the Eccles Cake or puff pastry. Not many cooking sites and blogs, even celebrity chefs on TV tell us how to make a puff pastry. They always use ready-made puff pastry... Making this puff pastry is so simple and so easy...flaky and so will make them again and again. And whoever gets the chance to try my home-made eccles cake or puff pastry never fail to wonder how I did it! Good for my ego ehh!

So the recipe goes like this (modified according to how I did it):

Ingredients for making the pastry:

2 cups all purpose flour or maida
200 g butter (should be cold and cubed into thumb size, the recipe calls for unsalted butter but Amul butter works just fine)
1 tsp of lime juice
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup ice-cold water

Sift the flour and salt together. Add diced butter and lime juice to it. Using a flat steel knife (butter knife works), cut the butter in the flour till the butter is mixed almost evenly with the flour. Then pour the ice-cold water to form a not too pliable dough. The butter should look like marble chunks in between the floor. Shape the dough in a rectangular shape using your hands. Then fold the dough like you fold a towel before storing in the cupboard. Wrap the dough tightly in cling film and chill in the freezer for 5 minutes or refrigerate for 20 minutes. Repeat the folding and chilling process 4 to 6 times. It can be used directly or chilled till further use. When you cut into the dough before rolling out, you can see layers after layers of amazing is that! I was totally amazed and ecstatic when I first saw those layers!


You can use any kind of filling, sweet or savoury. I have tried with chicken fillings or mushroom and chives fillings for the savoury kind. Toss them in a pan with your preferred spices till they are cooked and let them cool down before using as a filling.  For the sweet kind, mix powdered coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon powder, and sesame seeds. You can vary the amount of the ingredients to your choice, even add chopped dry fruits if you like.

Preheat the oven to 220 degree Celcius for 15 to 20 minutes. The oven should be ready in time while you finish up rolling out the dough, putting in the fillings, and giving it the egg wash. 

Before rolling out the dough, make sure it's cold but not too hard. It will crumble if too hard.

After the dough is ready, roll it out as you roll a roti. It can be just as thick as a typical roti. Cut off circular or rectangular or square shapes (any shape for that matter...Indian map, you can use your creativity here, lol). Just keep in mind that the cut-out dough need to be sealed after putting the fillings inside.

Now, after placing the fillings on the cut-out dough, fold it from one side and use a little drop of water or egg to seal it. Place your creations on a butter paper on a baking tray. Give the pastry a good egg wash (brush the top of the pastry with whisked egg). 
Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. To make the top brown up, change the setting to heating only the top element 5 minutes before the end time. And ting, your eccles cake is ready!
(I will add more pictures next time I make this. It is such a big task taking pictures of every step while baking...i did take pictures for the Cinnamon rolls...if only my siblings knew how to take good pictures :p)
(Updated with new pictures...)

Eccles cake/Puff Pastry