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Chai Macarons

30 Nov

Yes, I know, I haven’t blogged in a while, its been a busy time for me. I’ve been in the process of completing my teaching diploma and was on my first practical, a six week placement in a year one class. It’s hard to run a household, a marriage and look after a child while having to be out of the house for 7 hours a day, alhumdulillah, the experience was great and extremely fulfilling, although I am relieved that it’s over (for now anyway).

For those of you that read my blog and remember, I took part in a Dilmah competition a few months ago where I entered these Chai Macarons (if not, you can read about it here and here). These macaron shells were flavoured with tea, cardamon, cinnamon and sandwiched with a chai white chocolate ganache. I’ve finally gotten the chance to post the recipe. Yippee!!

Chai Macarons

I’ve attached the recipe in .pdf format because that’s how it’s saved on my computer as I needed to give a copy to the Dilmah officials and figured it would be the easiest way to share it with all of you. This recipe is made using the Italian meringue method (pouring a hot sugar syrup into egg whites) instead of my usual French meringue, if you have a handle on the French meringue method, feel free to use that, just remember to add the spices to the almond/icing sugar mixture.

Give these a go, and if you’re not too afraid (and have a thermometer lying around) try the Italian method. Chai macarons with a pot of tea, perfect late night snack, enjoy!

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The Dilmah Result

16 Sep

Silver Medal!

I know most of my family and friends already know this, but I thought I’d post an update for those who don’t. I’ve also included a little bit about my experience, so read on. Oh and before you get too excited, I wasn’t second, there were a few gold medals a few silver and a few bronze, a bit more on the judging system later.

I was up since 4:30 AM that morning, the nerves had gotten the better of me and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I eventually got out of bad, got all my stuff together in a mad dash and headed to Southbank. I was given a tag and sent to the kitchen, where I met some of the other participants who were all lovely. I was third up so I eagerly awaited my chance to set up my table.

My presentation table

The judge’s feedback was extremely good, Peter and Dilhan exclaiming that my macorons combined with my cinnamon tea took them back to their childhood. Bernd, who said he has become so sick of macarons, was also very complimentary, stating he was glad I didn’t colour them, and kept them natural and did something completely different and unique with them. Peter and Dilhan were also excited at my efforts at speaking Sinhalese. “Ayubowan”, a Sri Lankan greeting, for which I have the parents of Maryam’s Kitchen to thank.

Totally getting my hands into it whilst presenting to the judges

But those good compliments were met with some negatives. I honestly didn’t realise the judges would have such high expectations, their attention to detail was second to none and they wanted to have a complete high tea experience, which I don’t believe I delivered. In my nerves there were a few things I neglected, I didn’t fill the sugar bowl, I didn’t give them milk (I had planned on serving black tea though) and they also wanted honey as an option, Dilhan also commented that I didn’t brew the tea long enough (even though when they were ready to move on to the next table, he stayed to finish that last sip).

Here’s a little information about the judging standards from Dilmah, “The Real High Tea Challenge is endorsed by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WACS), whose judging criteria was the basis of assessment of entries. Each contestant was evaluated on the quality of presentation of their entries, the respect accorded to the central ingredient – tea – in food and food pairing, the preparation of tea, their menu, the use of local ingredients and the contestants’ knowledge and rationale. Consumer entries were evaluated on similar but less rigorous standards than Professional Entries.

Contestants received points for their submissions with the possibility of several Gold, Silver or bronze medals being awarded in each state.”… “Points required to secure a Gold medal are 90-99, Silver 80-89, Bronze 70-79 and Certificate 60-69.”  Taken from Dilmah, Real High Tea. Clearly I fell into the 80-89 point category 🙂

with Judges Bernd Uber, Dilhan Fernando and Peter Kuruvita

After my judging was complete, I went to the balcony where a photographer was waiting to take pictures of my macarons. Now let me tell you, this isn’t any photographer, this is the photographer that took the pictures for Adriano Zumbo’s next macaron book (Zumborons)!! I guess that totally qualifies my macarons into celebrity status 😛

with Peter Kuruvita, Dilhan Fernando,
Merrill J Fernando (Dilmah Founder) and Bernd Uber

It was a wonderful experience and I think the thing that will stay with me was Dilhan saying, “Come back next year and knock our socks off!”

Thanks again to everyone for their support and encouragement! Thanks to the judges who were so wonderful. And a special big Thank you to Abdullah Osman (my husband), although neither of us planned for him to be at the awards ceremony, the way things worked out that day, he was and he couldn’t have been more happy or excited for me (kinda wrote about it here), even planning on me entering next year. Dilmah challenge 2013, here I come!

Burfee Frosting Recipe… Finally!!

16 Aug

I’m sure all of you have seen the burfee frosting in my recent Eid Dessert Table post. I’ve been bombarded with requests for the recipe as well as being asked to make these for friends, and I have to say, it is extremely flattering. When Siddiqa approached me with the idea of doing an Eid table together my imagination went wild. I wanted to create something totally unique, something different but something that still called out ‘Eid’. Eventually I was set on the idea of a ‘Burfee Frosting’, I’m glad I decided on the ‘Burfee’ flavour because they tasted amazing. I have since learnt that the concept has been done before, so kudos to all those women who make burfee frosting/icing as well. What is burfee? Check out an explanation on Wikipedia here. The Indian burfee explained in the post is slightly different to South African burfee, but it gives you the general idea.

Burfee Frosting/Icing

2 cups milk powder

75g tin Nestle tinned cream (approx. half a tin, also called dessert cream or reduced fat cream)

250g butter (separate this into 2 lots of 125g each)

1 1/3 cup icing sugar + 1/2 cup

1/4 cup milk

cardamon pods and 2 tsp cardamon powder

Place milk powder and cream in a mixer and mix on low speed till cream is absorbed. Add in 125g butter and mix on high speed till fluffy. Place 1 & 1/3 cup icing sugar, cardamon pods and milk on stove, bring to a boil. Remove from stove and let cool. When milk and sugar mixture has cooled, remove pods, turn mixer on high speed again and slowly add milk mixture in, 1 tablespoon at a time. Ensure the mixture has completely cooled to room temperature before continuing. The mixture will still be runny, so throw in the reserved butter and icing sugar as well as the cardamon powder and let the mixer beat till fluffy and firm.

These Burfee Frosting Cupcakes were the feature piece for the Eid Dessert Table, Siddiqa and I created.

Give this Burfee Frosting recipe a try, this tasty and traditional frosting will be the perfect addition to your Eid this year.

India: An Experience, A Wedding, Paneer

13 Jul

Just over six months ago we embarked on a journey to the subcontinent. My husband, son and I left in late December to make a few stops along the way. Phuket and Kuala Lumpur were on the cards before getting to India, a country neither of us had been to, despite our Indian heritage. This was not a holiday by any means, our sole purpose was to attend the wedding of Abdullah’s sister (my wonderful sister in law), Aasiya. What we never expected was to leave feeling humbled, grateful and renewed.

India is an amazing place with amazing people and beautiful sights. One of the most enjoyable parts of our trip was definitely the wedding and the functions that preceded it. And coming a close second was the food, there is honestly nothing like Indian food, so intricate in flavour and colour. My favourite dish in India was anything that had paneer (an Indian cheese, looks like a block of fetta, texture and taste of cottage cheese).

It’s something I always order in an Indian restaurant here and usually cook with the frozen bags at home. As in India has a high population of vegetarians, paneer is extremely popular, and depsite having over 20 paneer dishes while in India, not one of them was the same, there was paneer in different types of curries, paneer with marinates that were grilled, paneer balls, crumbed paneer, paneer stuffed in chillies and vegies, and too many more to mention. Even after all that, I wasn’t sick of the paneer, and forunately for me, on my last day in India I watched an Indian chef on TV make paneer from scratch, I couldn’t believe how easy it was.

Since our trip, I have made paneer countless times, and there’s nothing like the fresh stuff, I’ll never go back to frozen again. I will be doing a recipe on how to make paneer from scratch sometime in the near future. For now, here’s a recipe using paneer.

Paneer Malai** Tikka

500g paneer
1/2 bunch corriander
3/4 tsp salt1 tsp ground cumin
1 whole green chilli
1 tblsp lemon juice
1/2 cup cream (**malai is an Indian term for cream)
Cut the paneer into cubes and set aside in a bowl. Grind all ingredients except for cream in a blender, once blended into a paste mix in cream. Pour over paneer and leave to marinate. Cook off on a medium to high heat in a about 1 tblsp oil. Serve with naan bread.

Variation: This recipe works well with chicken, just substitute the 500g paneer with 500g chicken pieces.

India is a definite must see and it’s a place I’m sure we’ll be visiting again. For now, enjoy some photos from our trip.

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Try out this paneer malai tikka recipe, great with chicken as well. Oh and Happy 6 month Anniversary Aasiya and Salim!

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