Kaffir Lime Panna Cotta with Mango,Blackberries and Candied Lime Leaves. And a confession!

I wanted to let you in on a little secret.
I have this ridiculous urge to look at everything with pastry eyes! What I mean by that is quite often when I come across a food item or ingredient..herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits..anything. I start to imagine how it would turn out mixed with sugar, whisked with eggs, added to cream, baked, frozen, torched, candied and so on. Until lately I thought this was weird. And people around me thought I was ‘stressed out’ and ‘needed a break’.

A Thai lunch and I was all about Kaffir Lime. Not that this was the first time Kaffir Lime had caught my attention. Before this I was probably paying more attention to something else..Lemongrass I think. I enjoyed the dish I was eating but I enjoyed thinking about the little experiments that I was going to carry out more.

‘This is so good’ one of my friends remarked between mouthfuls of Thai curry.

Oh yes, it is..imagine pairing it with mango…I smiled at myself.

‘I had something similar in ABC restaurant but this one is better’ another one spoke out.

It will be great in a Panna Cotta. And blackberries..lovely…white, yellow, black…i was already planning.

I looked at the watch. 1.10 pm…just enough time to go back home, get the kids to nap and run to the Asian Market to get hold of Kaffir Lime leaves and create something.

  That is exactly what I did. Kaffir lime…I had to get some…I NEED Kaffir lime, I told myself. This word ‘NEED’ is more than familiar to me at the moment. Apparently, it has assumed a place of great significance in my little boy’s life and vocabulary (the older twin..to be precise 38 seconds older). He does not ‘like’ or ‘want’ things. He NEEDS them. How well I can trace it back to his genes.

I spent the afternoon at the market and later in my kitchen. The Panna Cotta was exactly the way I had imagined it to be. Light, refreshing, fragrant with a distinct taste of Kaffir Lime. While they were setting up, i made the candied lime leaves.

All this while I have questioned my sanity, my thrill at spending hours at a fruit market, the ability to bake a cake at 2 am after a tiring day with two preschoolers, my obsession with food. But not anymore. I am not alone. Ever since I started this little blog, I am coming across people every day who eat, sleep and breathe ingredients..who live flavours..rejoice and celebrate food. This is my place…this is my world. This is where I belong…where I  have always belonged. I no longer do things that I have to do..but things that bring me joy. It is all making perfect sense to me now..I feel liberated. Every day is exciting…every moment is beautiful.

This is my world…bright, brilliant, beautiful…of Sugar…et al..

 

Kaffir Lime Panna Cotta with Mango and Blackberries
Yields 4-5

11/2 cups Single cream
11/2 Cups Milk
1/2 cup castor sugar
6 kaffir lime leaves finely shredded
2 tsp powdered gelatine
2 tablespoon warm water.
1 mango, sliced
1/2 cup blackberries

Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatine. Set aside till it blooms i.e absorbed all the water. Heat the cream over medium heat in a saucepan and add the lime leaves. Bring it to a boil and then remove from heat. Let infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture to remove the leaves. Put the infused cream, milk and sugar back in the saucepan and heat gently. Add the gelatine and stir to dissolve.

Remove from heat once the mixture begins to boil and let cool to room temperature. Pour into serving glasses and refrigerate till set. About 4-5 hours. Before serving top with sliced mangoes and blackberries. I mascerated the sliced mangoes in 1 tsp sugar to release its juices.

Candied Kaffir Lime leaves
1 egg white
1/2 cup castor sugar
5-6 Kaffir lime leaves

Whisk the egg white till frothy. Place the sugar on a plate. Line a baking tray or plate with baking paper. Dip each leaf into the egg white and hold it by the tip till the excess falls out. Dip it again into the sugar till it is evenly coated. Dust off excess sugar. Place the leaves on the parchment paper to dry. About 2 hours later turn the leaves around for the other side (the one which was not exposed)to dry. They become hard when dried.

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Embracing Green. Indian Herbed Chicken Skewers and Spiced Onion Jam

Ever since my last act of chocolate indulgence few days ago, I am finding solace in green. I have jumped on the weighing scale every day waiting for the ugly truth to unfold but for once i have to say it has let me down…in a positive way. The last of the little spikey monster has survived the weekend and i am trying my best to avoid eye contact each time i open the refrigerator. The weather has been looking up too, in contrast to the dark wet week that was. And that is also showing on the bright faces at home who love nothing more than the outdoors. All in all, a good week.

Speaking of greens, this is one of my favourite healthy recipes usually following a guilt trip when I am a little tired of eating salad. But actually guilt or no guilt, this is a must try if you wanted to make an easy, no fuss Indian dish. The chicken is moist and packed with herby goodness, not to mention the wonderful aromas that emanate when you are baking it. Tikkas or Kababs, as they are popularly called in India, form a part of every restaurant menu, big or small. My version is a bit more simpler and oil free.

Onions are an integral part of Indian cooking, so leaving it out completely almost makes you want to compensate its absence in a dish. In fact, in many Indian households they take precedence over herbs as garnishes.

 

The spiced onion jam compliments the flavours of the chicken beautifully. I have married the ingredients and techniques of an onion jam with that of a traditional Indian chutney to create this recipie. And ah..was I pleased with the end result…very pleased indeed!
Most onion jam recipes call for red onions but I have used both red and brown as I personally like the flavour that the brown ones add to the dish.

 

Serve them as skewers with a salad and a few lemon wedges. Leave out the onion jam if you want to stick to what the post intended to convey…healthy!

Did you say you like pretty plates…like me?


 
 Herbed Chicken Skewers
Yields 5-6 skewers

400 g chicken skinless thigh fillet cubed
11/2 tbsp garlic paste
11/2 tbsp ginger paste
1 cup coriander leaves
1 cup mint leaves
2 green chillies (optional)
1/2 cup thick yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp chaat masala (optional, available in Indian grocery stores)
Salt to taste
5-6 bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 mins

Prepare the marinade. Grind the ginger, garlic, coriander, mint and green chillies to a smooth paste in a food processor. Pour the mix into a large bowl and add the yogurt. Add the cubed chicken and spices, salt and mix well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours for the flavours to blend together.
Preheat oven to 200 C
Thread the chicken onto skewers. Place the skewers horizontally on the edges of rimmed baking dish with a foil underneath to catch the drippings. (See pic) I had run out of foil so had some extra cleaning to do. Cook the chicken on the grill mode turning once after 10 mins till evenly browned and tender about 20-25 mins. Sprinkle chaat masala when out of the oven.
Serve with spiced onion jam, lemon wedges and salad.

Spiced Onion Jam
Yields about a cup


2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 medium yellow/brown onion thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dry red chillies(optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp salt or to taste

Melt butter in a pan. Add the mustard, cumin and red chillies and cook till they splutter (about 1 min).Add the onions and cook till they soften(about 5 mins). Add the brown sugar and vinegars and reduce the mixture till it darkens and becomes a thick consistency. Add in the cumin powder. Add salt as per taste.