Thursday, September 27, 2012

2-way couscous

I must agree that Geneva has given me a lot of freedom in terms of experimenting. Even though I have to struggle a lot to find ingredients the final output is priceless. There are few things which I did not even know existed until I started watching TLC back home, praise the lord......O Mama. If it was not for the set up box connection my culinary skills would have been nothing more than Indian and some indo chinese. I know mama will want to hit him hard when he finds that he has indirectly rooted the love for "experimental" cooking in me.

The first time I heard about couscous was like a year back. All I know was that it is not the spice khus-khus but a staple food, like our lovable 'rice' in the middle east. But then I knew for sure I was not going to look for a pack of couscous with a heavily pregnant belly. So I let it pass. The next time I heard about it was when mama told me about it. Surprised?? even I was but it was a shock for me. The man won't compromise rice for anything in this world but he has had couscous for lunch in Geneva with friends. Then comes the end part of the story he came home and had rice too. Pathetic :(

No, it is not RAVA

Ofcourse I wanted to have couscous for lunch even though he dismissed the whole issue telling it tasted and looked nothing more than Rava (semolina). That's the not the way you talk to someone like me. Hence I punish him once in a while by making couscous for lunch and yes, no rice the whole day.

When I first came here mama promised to take me to the nearby restaurant which is famous for its couscous served every Thursday. But till date we never had a chance of making it there. I really have no tasting done in this area other than my own but I think all them will taste the same. The reason for me to like couscous will be the cooking time. 5 minutes. Yes just 5 minutes, isn't that the most wonderful thing for any working women. You can pull it out in a jiffy and the fluffiness has no substitute I say. But its still durum wheat semolina like mama accuses it to be. Hush hush!!

Fluffy and yummy

Couscous is one of those things you can easily find in any of the supermarkets and I usually buy the precooked one which is perfect for me. I buy the al badia brand just because that was the only option I had the first time when I brought one, not that I am complaining it really works fine. 

The attracting 'ITEM'

The best day to try any thing new will be on the Sundays mainly due to the presence of my very own guinea pig. The additional advantage will be the complete attention the food will get, no mails no replies nothing. After tasting he will give the final verdict which is the usual (nothing can taste like rice blah blah) but who cares. As long as he looks good with no side effects the food passes the test.

It was a non-vegetarian affair for the first time, I had to lure him into tasting it right? It was a wonderful set up, Moroccan style chicken kebabs with vegetables on skewers with couscous salad (enriched with cilantro, parsley and spring onions). I even cooked some potatoes, mashed with some salt and paprika. He loved the chicken of-course and the couscous was also well received which means he ate the whole thing. How can he not eat potatoes? I loved the combination. The chicken was hot and spicy, couscous was subtle and bland and the potatoes were actually not of any need. LOL

Agreed, not a good picture :(

Today after a long time I cooked couscous mainly because I was done having rice continually for 3 big days. I had no chicken in stock so it was going to be vegetarian. Since its a weekday mama won't mind he has to run back to his love - "the LAPTOP". The quicker the better.

I must say I was really proud of the smell the kuruma made, yes I made a simple vegetable kuruma to go with the couscous and believe me it was awesome. The kuruma was enriched with carrots, beans, soya chunks, cauliflower and the humble potato. It is quiet a sensation back home, I love my mother's version in making kuruma. We will eat like 10 puris with this fresh coconut gravy. Since she was talking to me on skype I asked her for the recipe and she was more than happy to tell me two of her versions.  


The kuruma came out real good and I loved the smell, not like mom's though but still somewhat closer. I served the couscous with some parsley and paprika. I loved the combination they worked well for me even though I had doubts about the coconut and mama HAD to tell 'super nice' after some insisting. Finally he did not forget to say he still thought it was rava upma. 

Maybe I should make rava upma in the night to show him the difference in taste, feel and texture. And keep cooking couscous until he agrees it is not rava upma . what say? EVIL GRIN :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Red, hot and gloomy :(

There are days in my life when I get pushed and pressured way too much. There are days when I get up in the morning just for the sake of going back to sleep in the night. Those days are called mama-less days. A typical day starts with his bye to the office and ends with me waking up in the middle of the night hearing the door being opened. There are even days when mama goes to London for work and he wont even have time to see us on skype. Ah!! A very pitiable thing for the both of us. When you got to live in a friendless place all alone it makes it quiet miserable and climate goes for the final kill. Its already winter here, fall as in is just for name sake. Winter means minus degrees topped with a little snow. The temperature wont go anything above 15 degrees and its way too cold for a happy stroll in the park around 3 in the afternoon. Plus it rains STUPID, not drizzle not pouring it just rains. I wish Edward lived here, he would love this place. But he wont Bella is not here. 

Where the hell is the sun???

 When mama is here he comes home for lunch and that will be the only reason for me to cook something. I make separate meals for Babbi, so her stuff happens just the way like every other day. For the past two weeks its been hectic for us and I literally don't cook anything nice anymore. Today started just the same way and I was even planning to sleep some more and make curd rice, he wont notice anyway. But the moment I opened the fridge I had to change my mind. 

I brought some boneless chicken which was on sale the weekend and I used one pack of it to make some kebabs. The other pack was begging me to make some chilli chicken since Monday. The gloomy out side was also asking for something red hot and yummy. Chilli chicken calls for fried rice and I was not ready to cut veggies. So the next option sitting right there were two sweet corn cobs. Sweet corn is very expensive here and I again have to be very careful not to throw it away. Since I am not a 'canning' friendly person I try to buy them fresh when they are available and use them in what ever possible way. 

3 cobs for 3.75 francs, quel domage its on sale!!

Once the core ingredients are chosen  it becomes easy to cook. I never usually plan my cooking until and unless I feel the need. I am someone who will do all sorts of mistakes and get into trouble when I don't plan. So if it is an elaborate meal or complicated cooking planning is mandatory. Weekdays never need planning, mama wont even notice what I have cooked so its always easy cooking. 

The chilli chicken and sweet corn fried rice that I made were really a weekday meal and I wont do them on weekends. They posses no challenge and they work very fine with the pantry ingredients. Safe and tasty. 


The chilli chicken is an adapted recipe from three blogs, I don't even remember which three. It is a bit old and written down recipe to my style rather than those bookmarked ones which I try to follow completely.  The fried rice is my own recipe, I add subji masala to my rice if I feel so, hence its my own product which tastes real good.

Love the YELLOW!!!

Babbi was very appreciative as she tasted the rice with lots of enthusiasm and gave a thumps up with her smile. She hardly ate a spoon full and was done, nothing more can I expect from a one year old. I started eating completely satisfied after insulting mama on skype with all possible (ninja, puking, angry, crying, sad, thumbs down) similes. He turned up after sometime and was really not apologetic. 

The funny part is that he ate the whole thing the way he would eat curd rice and pickle. No, he did not notice. AIYO RAMA!!!


Monday, September 24, 2012

The Celebration :)

Its really been ages since I put on my writer's cap and mama has finally stopped asking me why. I have no reasons for the block that affects my writing and coming out of the trance seems so difficult all the time. I have cooked a lot these past months. much to my amusement I have experimented a lot and learnt much more. I have recently discovered that surprises don't really surprise me, a stupid thing for a girl to say.

This post is about one of those special days I wait for the whole year. This September 15th mama turned 30, yes a big number and I was so excited even before the start of September. Of course mama was a little upset about leaving the twenties behind and embracing the thirties. Guess no one loves to grow old but it just keeps happening. I wanted to do something really big this year not just because of the number but the mama guy himself needed some pampering.

Taken with the maximum lighting possible at 12am

Baking a cake for any birthday in the family has become tradition and hence I was not going to stop at it. I cooked a 3 course meal for my birthday this year and it was all in the hurry that I somehow managed to bring out the highly ambitious meal on the table. But this time I had more time to plan, shop and execute. I must say I was completely satisfied with the execution as in for mama he is this always-the-same-smug-smile person, so no use asking him. LOL

I planned for an elaborate five course meal this time and it was perfect for me, the menu was kept secret all along which is again a feat for me. I tell him every damn thing. This is exclusive of the cake and the payasam I made for his star birthday. It is a general procedure for a 5 course meal to contain

A salad course
A soup course
An appetiser
A main course and
A dessert course

Salad : Arabian delight

Perfect start??

I warn any one who is going to read this particular passage, beware. If you are a pure vegetarian then you might even hate me for putting this up.

But the show must go on.

On the first week of September when we went shopping I asked mama what meat he wanted me to cook for his birthday (knowing that chicken will be his most preffered choice, i was of course bragging about the 5 course meal i was going to make ). At first he said anything was fine with him, like every other man in this world. I pressed him and he pointed right on to the meat hanging above the beef section. GULP, it was horse, he asked me to cook HORSE for his birthday and voila I DID. Ok, first of all I was not comfortable with the meat and secondly I did not have any idea how I was going to cook or have it as a main course. But it looked as if the swiss people enjoy eating horse or cheval in french, its quiet a delicasy here. I found pre cooked take away in the  supermarket, seasonal specialty. It is a very soft meat that needs taking care of.  

 I made up my mind to make a simple salad. In a bed of ice berg lettuce and french dressing tweaked with extra mayo, I dropped pieces of horse meat, slightly salted and cooked throughout.

It was a cold salad and it tasted really NOT BAD, mostly because I already knew it was going to taste like beef. Mama was.... the usual but with a little hint of fascination on his eyes. Gotcha!!

Soup : Sweet corn vegetable soup

Full and filling

I have to say it was super easy to pull this thing out but the recipe asked for some creme style sweet corn, which probably is so easy to get in the US or India, but in Geneva it is a no-no so I made it two days before and froze it. The blogger (Sailu) had also given the recipe to make it too, very helpful I must say. The color looks so dull and that's the soy sauce, black as night. Mama loved it, he said its the second best out of the five and he wanted more servings too. The link to the soup recipe is here and the blog is a good collection of traditional and fusion recipes.  

Appetizer : Chicken momos

Love the pleats

Ok, this one is quiet a bone bending job, atleast for me with a toddler who herself is trouble but anything. The recipie is from Ria's blog (in case you click on this link I am assured you are never gonna come back, I dont blame you , it happened to me a lot of time.). I tweaked her recipe by adding some veggies and I used chicken mince (traditionally pork is used). The pleating part was quiet difficult for me and the filling tasted real good. I made them a week before and froze it, which is really not a good idea (defrosting was a mess).  I served them with some green chilli sauce and a sweet red chilli sauce. (mama was like "you made even this" I had to give him a stone glance and said "store brought" and then there was a satisfying grin, kalaichutaram enna)

Main : Portuguese chicken

All set for the attack, too bad you can't smell ;)

No extravagant meal is complete without chicken in our household, now that Babbi also shares our liking its more glee to us. It is such an obvious choice and a very filling option too. The highlight was the marinate which was simple and mostly lemony all the way. The spice level was high in this case, the Indian spice level in Portuguese style. I did not add the potatoes or the onions as suggested. I served them with some raitha and a vegetable salad. I might have made some mashed potatoes or pasta but it would have been way too heavy and we were already feeling full. The chicken was cooked to perfection in the oven and the aroma was awesome. I wish to make it again and mama will never complain if I do so. As in for the recipe I got it from here

Dessert: Ras-Malai

Such a cutie PIE :P

It is a kings dessert if you ask me. I really felt royal making it and eating it. No shortcuts used, I promise. Everything was made from the scratch the night before and chilled to make it a perfect dessert and it did wow mama. I dumped in extra servings of fine cut nuts to make super royal. He was blown with the taste and gave it the first rank. Mama has 'golden' sweet tooth and I wanted to make something that would really impress his taste buds. He is not much of a cake lover I gather much to my disappointment. But this one was unbeatable he ate like ten of them, Babbi loved it too. I made myself proud and thanks to pooja ( another blogger like Ria and she is a fab too. Her pics make me go crazy hungry all the time) for the recipe, it is a keeper. As in for the coloring saffron costs like gold here and may be I should have added some yellow coloring but that's cheating!! I have already added saffron to my list of things I got to buy the next time i go to India which is not any where near :(.  My mom will love this so will my grandmom.

Ah!! what a long post. I hope its not so boring or lame. But I really enjoyed writing and giving away the world my love for food and food bloggers who really exploit me with their drool worthy pictures.