Monday 30 July 2018

Cookbook of the Month July 2018: The Cardamom Trail.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Another month, another cookbook!
This month, I've been cooking and baking my way through Chetna Makan's The Cardamom Trail. I only bought this book as it was at a reduced price on Amazon last year. But honestly, it's turned out to be a real gem. Don't you love it when that happens? The recipes are a mix of sweet and savoury with many different spices and their uses highlighted throughout the book. Even though I cooked one dish from each chapter, there are still so many recipes that I didn't get to try out. Things like gulab jamun doughnuts (!!), chicken naan, masala chai baklava, and dal kachori. So excited to give all of them a go as soon as I'm able!

Here's what I did make:

Cakes - Lychee Cake: This is a cake that when flicking through the book really intrigued me. I remember eating fresh lychees as a child but haven't really eaten them in a long time. Time to buy some!
The recipe used tinned lychees and it used both the fruit and the syrup.
I made two 20cm round cakes. The sponges had chopped lychees running through them along with ground almonds to help soak up any extra moisture. I used gluten-free self-raising flour for these cakes.
Whilst the cakes cooled, I whisked up double cream and also made a quick caramel sauce. Some of the sauce was whisked into the cream too.
Here we are ready to assemble. There are the cooled lychee cakes, lychees, caramel sauce, reduced lychee syrup, and whipped caramel cream.
Both cakes were brushed with the lychee syrup before being sandwiched with the whipped cream.
On top, I drizzled over the remaining caramel sauce and stuck on the leftover lychees.
Sliced and approved by all especially the youngest! The cake was really delicate and paired well with the whipped cream. The lychee flavour comes through a bit but not that much. It's to be expected really considering what a delicate flavour they have.

Pies and Tarts - Degi Mirch Chicken Pie: We love a good pie and we love a good chicken curry so this recipe was a must-make.
It's filled with a chicken curry filling spiced with whole spices, ground spices, and the degi mirch. Degi mirch is a blend of chillies. I didn't have any in the house so used a Kashmiri chilli powder instead.
The pie was topped with a shortcrust pastry spiced with turmeric and dried fenugreek. It was nice enough and made a change from the usual weeknight meals.

Pies and Tarts - Curry Onion Tart: This is the last recipe I cooked from the book. I had all the ingredients in the house and this spiced twist on a quiche seemed like the perfect meal for a Summer evening.
I started the recipe by blind-baking the smoked paprika shortcrust pastry case.
In went a filling of golden onions, fresh coriander, black mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dried red chillies.
Finally, a mixture of cream, eggs, and egg yolks.
Ready to bake!
Baked! The tart was really delicious except for one thing that was my own fault. I put in too much salt! 😒

Sweet Things - Mango and Praline Eclairs: I actually baked these eclairs on the day of the World Cup Final. My choice of French eclairs went down quite well as France won!
I started by making a lime choux pastry and piping it out onto baking trays.
Baked and ready to cool! I usually have the worst time with choux pastry but I was so pleased that these eclair shells turned out well. For me, the key is to add the eggs to the pastry in stages - not all at once!
Next, I made a hazelnut praline. Guys, this was so addictive. We could not stop snacking on it!
To fill the eclairs, I whisked up a filling of double cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar, and mango puree. I also stirred in a few tablespoons of the praline.
The pastry shells were sliced in half and filled with the mango praline cream.
And, then things went wrong! My chocolate glaze had brown sugar in it and it wasn't fully dissolved.  Other than that, these eclairs were pretty good. They were my first ones ever that had a different flavour in them.

Savoury Small Bites - Spinach Pakoras: I had a bag of spinach in the fridge and decided to make these pakoras for lunch one day. So glad I did because these were amazing!
Here's the batter ready to fry. It's spinach, onion, fresh coriander, green chillies, ginger, salt, gram flour, and cornflour (the recipe used rice flour but I ran out). I added in water and mixed until I had a thick batter.
The pakoras were crispy, very addictive, and I love that the spinach was the star of the show!

Breads - Garlic Naan with Aloo Sabji: I'm currently looking for a good garlic naan recipe so thought I would give this one a go.
The recipe was really good and had me grill the naan under a hot grill. Our grill is pretty powerful but I suppose if yours isn't, you could make these naans in a hot pan too.
On top, nigella seeds, fresh coriander, garlic, and green chillies. The dough was brushed with water and so the toppings stuck to it. Later, after the naans were cooked I brushed them with butter.
To serve with the naan, a simple aloo sabji. I've never really cooked a curry with just potato before but this was pretty good. We ate it with the naan and the cucumber raita below.

Accompaniments - Cucumber Raita: This cooling raita was what we ate with the naan and potato curry above. It went really with them!
All you do is stir together yoghurt, salt, chilli powder, ground cumin, chopped mint, and grated cucumber. Perfect for Summer!

See more cookbook of the month ---> here!

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

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