Sunday, 29 April 2012

3 Fruit Jammy Jelly :)





Carrot, Apple, Orange Jammy Jelly with a touch of Cardamon :)

Ok so inspite of wanting to make carrot jam/jelly, I was left with only 1 glass of carrot juice.. the rest was residing peacefully in happy children :)

So, I set that 1 glass of carrot juice, 4 small oranges and 2 medium sized apples, 2 green cardamons, juice of 1 and half smal lemons and 1/2 cup of sugar to cook in a pan...

Once the oranges and apples were soft, I pureed them and sieved them through a fine sieve. The resulting juice I set to cook again.. and let it cook...

After around half an hour, I had a nice soft muss.. puree.. which tasted great but wasnt very sweet and not firm..

Me was not happy with that.. so, back to the pot and another half cup sugar.. flame on medium high.. stir stir.. and wow.. it was all jellyish..

Put that in a bottle, closed the lid lightly and set it in a saucepan of water to boil. The water boiled up and I reduced heat to simmer.

Thats done to preserve the jam... helps keep it for longer.

It simmered 20 mins. Then I removed it and let it cool down. Once cooled, closed lid and stored.. If ure in a warm climate, keep it in the fridge once cooled.

Always remember - never put in a used spoon in jams.. always take a fresh and DRY spoon.. that will avoid build up of fungus .. inshaAllah.

The reason why I had to cook this jam so much was that I didnt want to out any gelatine in it. Had I done that, it would have gelled a lot quicker. But this jam is pure and 100 % free from all chemicals - except of course the ones in the fruits themselves :D

Good luck and DO try... u'll love it...

Additional info: See, you'd find various techniques for canning and preserving and I found them all very confusing wheni started this.. I've experiented and come up with this formula and Alhamdoillah the jams/ preserves have never been spoilt. Just fill a large saucepan or pot with enough water to cover the bottle as high as the jam is in the bottle. Stand the bottle upright in the bath and let the water boil. Once it starts boiling, lower heat and let it simmer.. for 20 minutes. Remove and let it cool. Dont close the lid tightly before hand. Only do that after the jam has cooled..

Friday, 27 April 2012

Pantry Organisation

I'm going to list some things that it in my experience are vital to have at home.. having a large family and extended family, I feel if I can get along good with these things.. and smaller families will do very good with them inshaAllah :) Feel free to add your own experiences to the list... So, here goes:

- 5 kg flour = plain maida, all purpose flour
- 5 kg wheat flour = ata
- 2 kg semolina = soojhi
- 2 kg chickpea flour = besan
- 5 kg white rice = basmati chawal
- 5 kg sugar

Adjust the quantities accordning to your own family's requirements.. Store these items in a cool place

- 3 kg dried chickpeas = kabuli/safaid channay
- 1 kg red kidney beans = rajma

Boil them and freeze them in portions.

- At least 2 litres oil, 1 kg ghee and 1 block of butter spare in the fridge. At least 2 litres Packet milk = milk pack, tetra pack. 1 small packet dry milk powder.

- Almonds, coconut slivers, raisins. Cut, cleaned in separate boxes in the fridge

- At least 1 kilo minced meat = qeema at all times in the freezer
- At least 1 whole chicken, cleaned and washed, in the freezer

These quantities are important for those unexpected guests who arrive at any time. If you use these, make sure to stock up as soon as possible. I keep these thing in a different part of the freezer and our normal use meat in a different part. So I use the normal one and as soon as it is done, I buy the 'storing' amount, use the stored and store the fresh packet. That way the stored meat/chicken is fresh and always present.

Keep a few bags/portions of tomato paste, ginger garlic paste, green chutney in the freezer. Check recipes in my Basics folder.

Apart from that, keep your stock of potatoes and onions complete. These items do spoil quicker than all the others given above but since they are normal household items, they can be used at home at all times.

Needless to say that your spices should all be stored in a cool place. Do not keep little packets of spices rolled up in tins and shoppers. For one, you'll never know what you have. For another, it will spoil quicker.

I keep half in glass bottles and half in the freezer well packed. They dont spoil and dont get insects in them, Alhamdolillah. And I always have stock. So once I take out the freezer ones, I know that new spices are to be bought.

Baking soda and baking powder. After opening, baking powder keeps for six to 12 months, baking soda for two years.


Also, keep some simple small biscuit packs at home. Even if you have nothing else ready on the quick, you can always open a pack of biscuits for tea. Keep them well hidden from little hands :)

Keep a jar of jam in the fridge. If you are careful and never put a wet or used spoon in it, I have personally experienced the opened jar to stay good for as long as 1 year.

So - Thats what comes to mind right now. Will update as and when I get around to it :)

Make it habit to do this at the beginning of every month. Or, when you do your months major shopping. If you dont, then make it a habbit to buy essentials once a month in the beginning. That makes it easier to distribute over the month and you have an eye on what is being used.
Lastly, write things down. Make shopping lists. Make expenses lists. So you know how much money you spent on what. More details on that in the next note inshaAllah.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Sabzi Biryani



Though the traditional biryanis are unbeatable, sometimes a change in palate is not a bad idea.. and this sabzi biryani is realllly yumm :)

I have made it exactly like I make my chicken biryani...

1 large bowl of mixed vegs. I had friend potatoes, peas, carrots, french beans and cauliflower
3 mugs of rice, pre-boiled, kept warm
2 medium onions, fried dark golden, crushed to rough paste
1 tbls GG paste
1 level tsp, or to taste, salt
1 level tsp, or to taste, red chili powder
1 heaped tsp ground coriander = dhania
1 level tsp dry-roasted, ground cumin = bhuna, pissa safaid zeera
1 level tsp black pepper powder = pissi kali mirch
1/2 tsp mango powder = aamchoor
(substitute with khatai powder if needed)
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp black salt = kala namak
1 level tsp of mace, nutmeg, green cardamon mix = jaifal, jawetri, sabz elaichi. Grind, mix and store airtight.
1 cup yoghurt
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
1 large fresh tomato
2 small lemons
2 bay leaves = tez paath
5 to 7 peppercorns = kali mirch ke danay
1 large piece of cinnamon = daarchini ka bara tukra
3 to 4 green cardamons = sabz elaichi
1 black kardamon = bari elaichi
1/2 tsp black cumin = kala/shahi zeera
food colour
oil

- heat oil. add the dry whole spices - the pepper, cardamons, bay leaves, cinnamons and cumin.

- let them splutter

- mix all ground spices with yoghurt and the can of tomatoes

- add GG paste, fry some more

- add the yoghurt mix and mix in well

- cover and set to cook on LOW heat

- once the gravy gives up oil, add the crushed onions and let it cook further

- add the vegs, cover and let it cook. It shouldnt take u long since potatoes are already fried and the rest is easily cook-able. Besides, a little crunch is good. If you want ur veggies to be totally soft, then add some water and let them cook, though I would not advise it.

- now its a matter of personal preference. if you like the gravy in your biryani to be thick and dry, then let it dry out. If you like a 'wet' masaledar biryani, add some water to make a gravy

- then layer as usual with rice, giving the sliced tomato and lemon slices in between. right on top, over last layer, pour over around 2 tsp of liquid food colour. if you only have the powder one, mix 1/2 tsp with 2 tbls milk. Vary amount according to ur preference.

- close lid well and let it gather damm.

Its a matter of your own choice - we dont eat that much spices, so I did not add green chilies. You can do so, if you feel like it.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Hazards of Microwave Cooking

I've had a few mails from members, asking me to start microwave baking.. I've answered them.. and would like to bring the topic up here as well - I am against microwaves - completely and totally.

Its not just a fad - it is scientific fact - type it on google and check the results. I'll make a note for you so you can read it..

For now - just consider - the rays that heat the food and leave the vessel cold.. meat that needs an hour in the pot but is ready in a quarter of the time in a microwave.. a cake that needs 25 to 30 minutes in an oven.. but 5 in a microwave.. What do you think is the force that is making it so fast? And what do you think its doing to your bodies?

Everytime I see mothers heating their children's milk in a microwave.. I shudder.. I am aghast at the courage of these mothers.. who have gone though vigourous hours of childbirth for their child.. and yet are so ease-loving in the case of their nutrition..
My dear sisters - dont feed poison to your families.. who trust you and your expertise in the kitchen. Do justice to your role as the woman, as the mother.. and make an effort..
Ditch the microwave.. Please!



What you need to understand is that there will always be people who will tell you, its not true.. they are either those who themselves are SO misinformed that they simply cannot see the obvious, or, they are sadly not interested. If nothing in these arguments and texts and information convinces you - then follow this Hadith:

On the authority of Abu Muhammad al-Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Taib, the grandson of the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ëalayhi wasallam, and who is dearest to him, radiyallahu ëanhuma, who said: I committed to memory from the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ëalayhi wasallam, (the following words):

Leave that about which you are in doubt for that about which you are in no doubt.
[Al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaíi related it, and al-Tirmidhi said: It is a good and genuine Hadith]

I'm going to copy paste excerpts from the things I have read with their link reference. I think it has been said wonderfully so I dont need to change it.. please do yourself and your family - your innocent children! the favour and read this..


Microwaves unsafe for baby's milk
Dr. Lita Lee of Hawaii reported in the December 9, 1989 Lancet:
"Microwaving baby formulas converted certain trans-amino acids into their synthetic cis-isomers. Synthetic isomers, whether cis-amino acids or trans-fatty acids, are not biologically active. Further, one of the amino acids, L-proline, was converted to its d-isomer, which is known to be neurotoxic (poisonous to the nervous system) and nephrotoxic (poisonous to the kidneys). It's bad enough that many babies are not nursed, but now they are given fake milk (baby formula) made even more toxic via microwaving."


Microwaved blood kills patient
In 1991, there was a lawsuit in Oklahoma concerning the hospital use of a microwave oven to warm blood needed in a transfusion. The case involved a hip surgery patient, Norma Levitt, who died from a simple blood transfusion. It seems the nurse had warmed the blood in a microwave oven.

It's very obvious that this form of microwave radiation "heating" does something to the substances it heats. It's also becoming quite apparent that people who process food in a microwave oven are also ingesting these "unknowns".
Because the body is electrochemical in nature, any force that disrupts or changes human electrochemical events will affect the physiology of the body.
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/health-hazards-to-know-about/microwave-ovens-the-proven-dangers


While microwaves reheat food, they also generate a host of known carcinogens. The ovens produce micro wavelength radiation at a rate of up to 2.45 GHz. This microwave radiation interacts with the molecules in food. The waves agitate the molecules to produce friction, which in turn heats the food. With this friction and heat comes the production of free radicals, or cells that can grow and spread into carcinogens.
http://www.mediafreedominternational.org/2012/01/25/growing-research-points-to-health-risks-of-microwave-ovens/


Microwaving alters food chemistry which can lead to malfunctions in the lymphatic system and degeneration of the body’s ability to protect itself against cancerous growths.
Microwaved foods caused stomach and intestinal cancerous growths, a general degeneration of peripheral cellular tissues, and a gradual breakdown of the digestive and excretive systems in a statistically high percentage of people.
http://wemustknow.net/2011/08/why-did-russia-ban-the-use-of-microwave-ovens/

My dear sisters - you will always find people who will discourage you - but the fact remains that YOUR life is YOUR responsibility. Just think - if this IS true and one day you find out for 100% sure.. how will you ever face yourself or forgive yourself?

With all my love and prayers!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Food Storage Advice

I was thinking, not many people know really how to store what - which sometimes leads to food getting soiled. So thought I'd share what I do..  Sunday's are my Veg and Fruit days.. I prefer to buy fruits and vegs direct from the fresh market on Sunday. I find they're freshest there and rates are quite alright.

So, here is what I always try to buy - depending on what is available and how fresh it is.

Potatoes
Peas
Tomatoes
Onions
Lemons
Ginger
Garlic
Coriander
Mint
Cucumbers
Apples

This is how I store them:

Potatoes
In a large box/jali, covered, with a dark cloth or sheet. Or a large cloth bag. Keep them dry and keep them out of sunlight. As dark as possible. Put in an apple, to per one kilo. That will help keep them fresh for longer.

Peas
Shell them, and put them in a freezer bag. UNWASHED. Rinse before use.

Tomatoes
Wash and cut in half. Put in large pot and let cook. Once they're all soft and mushy, blend them with a hand blender or in a normal blender. Save this puree in small plastic boxes or freezer bags. I save half of it like this and cook the other half down to a paste like consistency. Then either save that, or make chili sauce or ketchup out of it. That too, if its a lot, freeze, otherwise put in glass jars and keep in fridge.

If you want to keep some fresh and whole, keep them in a bowl lined with a paper or kitchen towel. Stem side up. Move them around every day. Keep them dry and out of sunlight and whatever you do, do NOT put them in the fridge. If its very hot, keep them in a room which is cooler.. room temperature is fine for tomatoes. Fridge spoils them quickest.

Onions
Keep them out of sunlight, in a box, mesh bag or in a nylon stocking! Just drop in an onion, tie a knot and drop another.. Keep them hanging and away from direct sunlight. Keep them away from other vegs, that will spoil them sooner.

Lemons
If you need a slice or two of lemon, don't slice the entire piece of fruit. Using a sharp knife, cut off the end, but don't throw it away. Instead, after cutting off a slice or two from the end of the lemon, put the cap back in place before placing in back in the refrigerator. The sliced off end will help keep the rest of the lemon fresh until you need more.

Other than that, store them in the fridge. If you have more than easily storable, scrape off the peel for lemon zest and store in a plastic box in a freezer. Juice the lemon and either make a syrup by boiling juice of 7 to 8 lemons with half a litre water and 1 cup sugar. Make a thick syrup and store in fridge. Use in lemonades. If you want plain lemon juice on hand for cooking, store in ice-cube tray in freezer and use as needed.

Ginger
Keep refrigerated in a well sealed bag with all the air pressed out. To store a large chunk, buy ginger that isn't wet, moldy, or withered; leave the peel on and dry it. It should keep for a couple of months. To use, simply cut off a "finger" of ginger, re-bag the rest, press out the air, and reseal.


Or, fry it and grind it with the oil. Store in glass bottle as ginger paste.

Garlic
The first thought for many people is to store garlic bulbs in the refrigerator or in the freezer. The cold temperature spoils the taste as well as the texture of the garlic cloves.

Garlic is best stored in a cool, dry place. Immediately after buying, take the garlic bulbs and place them in an airtight container or cloth bag. Store them in a cabinet, in a cool dark environment.

Or, fry, and grind with the oil. Store in glass bottle in the fridge as garlic paste.

Coriander
Either ground to a chutney and in the freezer, or, cleaned and wrapped in a moist cloth. Place the moist cloth in a plastic bag and keep in the fridge. Keeps fresh over a week.

Mint
Similar to the coriander. As cutney or in moist cloth in fridge. Additionally, make a syrup of it and store. Use for teas and juices.

Cucumbers
Wrap each cucumber in a tissue and keep them all in a plastic bag in the fridge. Will keep inshaAllah longer than a week.

Apples
The best place to store apples is the fruit and vegetable crisper drawer in the refrigerator.  When apples are stored in the refrigerator, they can stay perfectly fresh for the whole month or even more!  You can store the apples in the refrigerator with or without a plastic bag.  I’ve done it both ways, and haven’t found much of a difference in how long the apples stay fresh.  If you choose to store apples in the refrigerator inside the plastic bag, puncture some holes in the bag to let the air in.

If you are planning to use your apples within a week and don’t have that much space in your refrigerator, you can store them on the counter.  The apples will stay perfectly fresh and crisp on the counter for at least a week.

Also, when you buy apples, examine them to make sure they are not bruised.  Apples that are bruised will spoil pretty quickly, especially on the counter.  Buy good apples that don’t have bruises.  You can count on good apples staying fresh when stored for 1 week on the counter or 1 month in a refrigerator.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Yayayy...

So - I have finally purchased a domain.. elzaa.com.. For now, I don't really know what difference it will make :D

However, it is now a .com site.. whatever positives that might bring :)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Syrups for Summer ....

.. and not just summer :)

I'm giving you the basic syrups.. mixing and matching is only limited to your imagination....

This is Lemon Syrup

Juice of 6 small lemons
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water

Cook together. Add more sugar if u need to. It should be lemony sugary... Cool, chill, store.. make sikanjbeen.. enjoy :)



Then we have here... Simple Sugar Syrup

Boil together equal parts of sugar and water. Let it boil up once. Stir to see that sugar is dissolved. Cool down and store in fridge.

Dont worry if it looks thin - it will thicken in the fridge.

Use this syrup wherever you need to add sugar to a sharbat/juice. Instead of adding sugar and then whisking forever to dissolve it, just add this.


Nothing beats the cool taste of .. Gurr Syrup

Similar to the sugar syrup, keep this for sweetening as well. Or to add in halwa, if u feel like it :)

Around 4 to 5 large 'rocks' of gurr. Soak them in a little less than 1/2 litre clean water for at least 6 hours. Stir once in between to check that it dissolves.

Once its all liquid, carefully sieve into a pan. Take care not to take the residue, that will contain dirt.

Just set the whole lot on the stove - be careful, it will bubble up very strongly once it starts to get warm

Once ur syrup is thicker, remove from heat and cool before storing in fridge. Keep in mind that it will get a lot thicker than it it is NOW.. so remove from heat in time..


Its great, mixed with cold water, lemon and a pinch of salt.. and wonderful, when mixed with cold milk.. besides being really good for children..  

These woderful fruits are in season .. and ideal for Strawberry Syrup

Blend strawberries with a little water and sugar.. Store in fridge soonest...



And finally, a most delicious syrup.. Peppermint Syrup

Now this is an unusual one.. Zara loves peppermint teas.. Just boil a cup of tea and add two tblsp of this. Tea without milk, haan :)

Wash and boil a bunch of peppermint leaves...(podina) with 2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup water. Once the syrup is thick and the sugar is to ur liking, sieve it.

Store this syrup in the fridge and use as wished..

 

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Thirst Quenchers

Its so hot now.. honestly.. everything is too hot.. have come up with some syrups.. will update recipes in a day or so.. but for now.. just have a look at this pic and enjoy the scene :)


Friday, 13 April 2012

Change of Style

I was looking through my quota of space on the blog and realised that since its just a blog, I dont have as much space as I thought I did.. and if I keep on uploading step-by-step single pics, I'll be out of space soon :) So, to counteract that, I've decided to upload images as one whole image...

How do you like that idea? is it alright?

Should I ever possess a credit card (or if the gmail staff deigns to asnwer and offer a solution) to upgrade to a websit, I think that problem will be resolved :) 

The Ultimate Sweet.. Balushahi :)


This is Chef Afzal Nizami's recipe - saw it on TV.. I've tried many different recipes of Balushahis before since I love them.. but they never even came close.. This one is a keeper, Alhamdolillah. Just read through all instructions carefully and follow them.. inshaAllah u'll have a perfect result..

Ingredients:
1 kilo flour
1/2 pao - 125 gms each of: ghee - (melt and then measure!) & yogurt & water
1 level tsp baking soda - just LEVEL! not too much!!
Sheera: 1 kilo sugar 1/2 litre water cardamon..

 Method:

First cook the sheera - mix sugar and water and elaichis and let it boil. You want a thick sheera but not too thick.. The Chef said to boil it for 10 to 12 minutes.. but I boiled it only for 5 - it had the required thickness..

Next, in a large bowl, add the liquid ings.. water, ghee and yoghurt. Whisk together and add baking soda.

Mix well. Add the flour, and mix a dough - do NOT knead it like ata.. or dough. You dont want a dough - that will make it hard and elastic. Just mix together, with gentle hands... until it all comes together.

Tip it out on a board or whatever you have.. and flatten it.. cut through the middle with your hands and divide in two. Place one on top of the other, pat down so as to join them and then repeat this process 4 or 5 times.

Break off small balls - I divided it in 4 parts and then rolled each and cut off small pieces with a knife.. Place the small piece between your palms.. flat side down.. and press with both palms in a circular motion.. do NOT press down hardly.. remember, you dont want to knead it in any manner..

This gentle circular motion will give it the layers.. Then place this balushahi on the back of your thumb.. and press a hole through it with the thumb of your other hand.. not too big..

While you are making them.. place ghee in a deep pan..and heat on lowest. The ghee should only be so hot that you can tip your finger in it and not burn.



Place the balushahis in the ghee. They should sink to the bottom and not do anything.. just sit there..

In a few minutes, as the hot ghee works, the balushahis will bubble up.. once they are all up, increase heat to full and fry them from one side to a golden colour.

Look carefully, when the bottom side is done, turn them over and TURN OFF HEAT!! That is a must - the heat is enough to fry them from below too.. But the turning off stove will cool the ghee down enoough for the next batch.

So when u put in the next batch, they'll sink down like before.. then turn heat back on.. As soon as the colour is as you like, take them out and put them in the sheera.

Pour over some with the help of a spoon. Turn over once so that they get soaked from both sides. Remove after 2 minutes and let them drip off on a jali.. The sugar will dry out and give those white touches.. Eat them once they're cool.. otherwise they wont have the crunch u want and u'll be disappointed...

I hope I've explained well and its understandable.. if not, please ask!! Good Luck.. :)