Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Nature's Power


It is so dark and gray
No sight of even a ray,
It’s thundering
Is it going to rain? We are wondering

At last, down the rain pours,
And the clouds roar,
Harsh winds are blowing
And the leaves are rustling.

The sun then shines later in the day
Children come out to play
While the trees sway.
It is such a beautiful day!!!

There are raindrops on flowers
It is amazing to see Nature’s Powers
Sometimes lightening…
Sometimes shinning….

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Paneer Parathas




I love stuffed parathas of all kinds. By far the one most loved by all in the family is aloo parathas. I remember going to Southall for Indian food. We used to eat the chats, pakodas, makki ki roti and saag but the eye was on getting a take away of a whole variety of stuffed parathas - aloo ones, methi ones, gobi ones and paneer ones. Now I cannot eat the gobi ones so paneer ones are the other choice after aloo. Eventually I learnt to make my own paneer parathas and after a couple of trials I think I have got the version that I am happy with.

Ingredients for Stuffing

  • 300 gm of fresh paneer finely grated / crumbled
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized green chilli also finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of whole jeera /cumin
  • 1 table spoon of olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon of chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for Paratha

  • 400 gm of plain wheat flour / chapatti flour and keep 100 gm of flour for dusting when rolling out the parathas
  • Water about 225 ml
  • 5 table spoons of olive oil


Preparing the Dough

Place the flour and 1 table spoon of olive oil in a bowl mix them together.
Then start adding water a little at a time while bringing the dough together.
Once all the dough is brought together knead it for a few minutes.
Finally take a teaspoon of olive oil in your hand and knead the dough to make it smooth.
Normally I set aside the dough of parathas and chapattis to rest for a while. Often I make the dough a couple of hours ahead and leave it covered with a damp tea cloth or an upturned bowl to keep it from drying out.

Preparing the Paneer Stuffing

In a medium sized saucepan heat the table spoon of olive oil and cumin.
As the cumin starts darkening add the onion and chillies and sauté them.
Once the onion turns translucent add the finely crumbled / grated paneer into it.
Add the spices and stir the paneer.
It will take a few minutes to warm through and get the spices incorporated into it.
Then put aside the cooked paneer stuffing to cool before you can begin preparing the parathas.

Preparing the Parathas

Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and give them a round shape like ball. Take one dough ball, press it between your palms to make a flat patty and dust with dry flour. This use of flour as you are rolling out keeps the dough from sticking on to the rolling pin or the surface you are rolling it on.

Place dough patty on rolling board and roll it out with a rolling pin into a thick circle of about 4-5 inch diameter. Put 1½ - 2 tablespoons stuffing in the centre, wrap it with sides of rolled circle, seal the edges and again give it a round shape like ball. I tend to have the centre thicker than the edges as when you pull the edges together you want it to be similar in thickness all round. If the side with sealed edges is thicker the paratha can split on its other side while rolling it out.

Press the stuffed ball flat and dust with flour and roll it out in to a 6 – 7 inches circle.

Put a flat griddle or tawa on the hob to get it heating. Have a small bowl with the rest of the oil and teaspoon to brush the paratha with oil as it is cooking. It is useful to get a foil ready to cover your parathas once they are done to keep them warm. 

Put on the hot griddle and wait for it to warm up and start to get cooked. Turn it over once and brush with oil. Then turn over again and brush the other side with oil. The cooked paratha will have some blistering and darkening patches.

These parathas can be eaten with raita or just some hot and sour pickle made from mango or chilli or lime.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Paneer and Peas Sabji






 

Usually recipes start with some sort of a story or an anecdote about the dish but I have none save that I like paneer but my husband is not a fan of it. This is the reason why I do not cook it often plus I guess I have been lazy to experiment with it. I am not sure why as he is happy with cooked cheese but I guess paneer is the bland variety that needs good spice mix to flavour it. Also in the past it was not as readily available as it is now, both as fresh and as frozen. I generally see paneer recipes like palak paneer or shahi paneer or mater paneer and also paneer tikka.

Tomato gravy is not always appreciated. I wanted to try something different to go with my palak parathas even though the rich tomato sauce of shahi paneer would go down well with them. I have not yet found the patience of making tikka. However, I am happy with the peas with my paneer but again decided that I did not want gravy maybe as I find it hard to thicken the gravy. Some recipes suggest frying the paneer before putting it into the gravy and I do not wish to make the dish heavy. This gave rise to my bhurji style sabji which we enjoyed and I will be making it again.

Ingredients
250 – 300 gm of paneer
250 – 300 gm of peas
1 medium onion
2 green chillies
1 medium ripe tomato

For tempering:
1 teaspoon whole cumin
3 whole cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil

Spices:
 ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Some fresh chopped coriander to add fresh flavour and as a garnish

Method
Crumble the paneer with your fingers so that you get small uneven pieces. Grating paneer as you would for a paratha stuffing makes it too fine and liable to clumping. If you are using frozen diced paneer, defrost it by putting it in a bowl, adding hot water till all the paneer is covered and leave for a few minutes before crumbling it.

If you are using frozen peas defrost in a manner similar to the paneer. Fresh peas should just be washed and put aside ready to add into the saucepan.

You can change the proportions of peas and paneer to suit your taste.

Finely chop the onion and chillies. Chop the tomato small and leave to the side.

Put the oil, cumin and cloves to heat in a saucepan.

Once the oil gets hot and the cumin starts turning dark add the onions and chillies to it. Turn the heat down to medium so that the onion sautés but does not burn.

Once the onion has turned translucent add the paneer and stir to ensure all of it gets coated with the hot oil and starts to heat through. After a few minutes the paneer will soften, at this time add the peas.

Add the salt, turmeric and chilli powder and stir it in. Leave the paneer and peas to cook. Do not cover with lid as this creates moisture that gets added back into the paneer. Add the tomato when the peas are nearly cooked. This will allow the tomato to cook without making it mushy.

Finally add the coriander leaving a few sprigs as garnish.






Monday, 24 October 2016

Thank You




Woke up on the 24th of October to a nice sunny day
Just as it was 29 years ago – our wedding day
It is just another day in life that marks the passage to time
We wished each other and remarked how it has flown – this time
Facebook did us proud with message of good wishes and photos with our spouse
Heart felt warmth and beat wishes decorate our FB house
People who mostly skim through our pages daily
Stop and express their love freely
Some leave ticks for love and like are they shy?
I wonder why?
But it is enough to know that they care
And are happy to celebrate, love and share
Thank you friends and family
Even the ones who talk rarely
We are happy that you reached out
Don’t be a stranger and give us a shout
Before next year!



Sunday, 2 October 2016

Spring in My New Home



This winter I had to move houses and leave behind the slightly wild garden that I had.

Garden in the Old House

The joys of that winter garden can be viewed with pictures at ‘Winter in My Garden’. In that home the spring continued to have the nasturtiums, morning glory, roses, daffs and snowdrops but brought in new flowers too like the wisteria and jasmine. The perfume of those two is heady and pervades everywhere. One evening I had forgotten to shut the back door and left just the grill shut and the jasmine scent was in every room in the house. Here are some of the photos of my old garden in spring.

 

Wisteria in the back garden

Wisteria over the fence and neighbour's garage


Wisteria over the shed in the back garden

 

Jasmine in full bloom

 

Dog Rose Bush

 

Creeper Roses

 

 Old Roses with very sweet perfume

 
 

 

Hardy Thistle that grew strong every year

 

Peruvian Lilies

 

Lavender starts to bloom

 

Gardenias

 

Paperbark tree flowering

 

Flowering Palm

Garden in the New House

My new home has a better established garden and from what I gather was with one family for a few decades. Only recently has it been put out to rent and had one previous tenant besides us. It appears that they were not gardeners for most of the trees and bushes were not pruned. There is affront and back garden. The front garden has palm trees, a gum tree of sorts and an orange tree.

 



 

Front Garden

There is ornamental grass, bougainvillea with orange flowers, a small rose plant that appeared when some of the overgrown grass and weeds were pulled up and one or two other plants which have yet to be identified. I am sure as flowers come out I shall be able to search the net for its identity. These are all in front of veranda. 


Ornamental Grass

 

Orange Tree

 

Last 2 oranges of last year's harvest

 


 
 Orange Blossoms


The back garden is also large with well-established trees – variety of palms, banksia and ferns. Some of them I believe are old species – there seem to be a New Zealand Fern and a couple of Staghorn ferns.
 

Back Garden

 

 Fruiting Palms

 


 

From the neighbour's garden

 
 Banskia and Palms

 

Cones new (above) and old (below)

 


 

Banksia Flowers

 

Sweet perfum in this yet unidentified flower


 

Stand alone fern (need to find its identity)

 

Staghorn Fern on an old tree in the back garden


 


 
 Winter flowers stilll going strong

There is a well planted border running along the drive that proved even more interesting. It started with some flowers coming over from the neighbour’s side. Then there is a big bush of parrot flowers and a long thick stem of a rose that had not been cut back. On cutting down the old stems of parrot flowers we discovered that someone had tried to kill of the rose. We chopped the stem right back and hoped it would revive itself. I am glad to say that after a few weeks I have seen new leaves sprouting from this near dead plant. Next there is a plant with tiny white flowers and spiny leaves that has spread along the fence a little. A number of spider flower trees planted along the border. In between there are a couple of vines which also had not been pruned in a while. 

 

Parrot Flowers and the Rose that got sever pruning after the photo was taken


Last year's final bunch of grapes

 
 Emerging vine leaves

 
 A hard prune works wonders

 

Spider Flowers

 


There is a bush that had few leaves but many tight buds. We were not sure what to make of this one but the buds uncurled into new leaves literally within a couple of days of spring. Then new buds appeared and lovely purple flowers of all shades emerged. Now we could look up the flowers on the net to identify the plant which is from the family of nightshades. 

 

Brunfelsia Australis - nightshade

 


Further along there is a lovely cover of wild strawberries among the weeds and grasses. The strawberries are deep red and lovely to look at but watery and tasteless. There are some weeds with pretty little flowers as well.
 
 First wild Strawberry


Nosiy Miners are full of beans