Take a break from the norm this New Year. Avoid the traffic and the hustle-bustle to stay in and cook a gorgeous meal for family and friends. Here are some ideas from top chef Vivek Singh and his fabulous head-chefs. Enjoy an exclusive, planned treat for your tables from RH’s upcoming book, Cinnamon Club…
For Starters: Cottage Cheese Melted on Naan
I like to call this a ‘naanza’. On the lines of a pizza or a bruschetta, this works just as well with paneer or cottage cheese as opposed to melting cheese although paneer does not melt too well.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
For the naan
1 kg refined flour, sieved
10 gm baking powder
50 gm sugar
15 gm salt
500 ml milk
60 ml vegetable oil
For the cottage cheese melt
200 gm paneer, grated
2 tbsp vegetable or corn oil
1 red onion medium size, finely chopped
½ inch ginger, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ red pepper, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
2 tbsp single cream
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
Tamarind chutney and yoghurt for garnishing
1 Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set it aside.
2 In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together with sugar, salt, milk, and oil. Pour the mixture over the flour and gently start to knead until the mixture forms dough.
3 Leave the dough aside for 15–20 minutes, divide it into 8 balls and roll them out using your palm or a rolling pin. For best results, the rolled breads should be cooked in a tandoor. However, you can also cook them by placing them on a baking tray in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 3–4 minutes.
4 Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add the cumin seeds, and allow it to crackle. Add the chopped onion, ginger, and the green chilli, and sauté till the onion is soft.
5 Now add the turmeric powder and peppers and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring continuously.
6 Add the cottage cheese and stir for another 2 minutes.
7 Mix in the cream, salt, and cook for another 2 minutes till the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves and remove from heat.
8 Spread the mixture of cottage cheese melt over the naan and cut into bite size triangles. Top it with a drop of tamarind chutney and yoghurt.
9 Serve warm.
For Main Course: Whole Roasted Leg of Lamb with Dried Fruits and Nuts
We like to call it the ‘modern raan’. Traditionally the raan is braised, but if the meat is of good quality it can be roasted instead and works just as well, if not better. Also, roasting this way keeps the meat moist compared to braising, where the meat is cooked through and therefore can get dry. You could ask your butcher to tunnel-bone the leg to create a pocket, which can be filled with paneer or cottage cheese, cheese, and dried fruits. This makes it truly special, as a raan should be!
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
1 leg of young lamb, weighing about 1½ kg
For the marinade
250 gm Greek or full fat yoghurt
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
2 tbsp fried onions, made into a fine paste with a little water or yoghurt
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1½ tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable or corn oil
For the filling
60 gm reduced milk or khoya, grated
75 gm paneer, grated
60 gm cheddar cheese, grated
2 onions, sliced and fried until crisp
4 dried figs, cut into 5 mm dices
4 dried apricots, cut into 5 mm dices
1 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp cashewnuts, fried in a little oil until golden
2 inch fresh ginger, chopped
4 green chillies, chopped
½ tsp royal cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
Juice of a lime
For the onion salad
2 red onions, thinly sliced
½ cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 carrot, cut into thin strips
1 tomato, deseeded and thinly sliced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin seeds, roasted and crushed
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
Juice of half a lime
1 Trim the excess fat, off the lamb and, if your butcher has not tunnel-boned it for you, remove the thighbone by cutting around it carefully with a carving knife to leave a cavity. Prick the leg on the outside.
2 Combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Rub the marinade over the leg of lamb, both outside and inside the cavity, and leave it aside for 15 minutes.
3 Combine all the ingredients for the filling and then use it to stuff the lamb leg. Truss the leg using a butcher’s needle and twine to close the open part completely.
4 Transfer to a roasting tray and place in an oven pre-heated to 220°C. Roast for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C and cook for a further 50 minutes.
5 Remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
6 For the onion salad, put all the cut vegetables except the tomato in a bowl of ice-cold water for 10 minutes to make it crisp. Strain, mix with the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, cumin, and fresh coriander. Squeeze the lime juice over.
7 Now cut the meat into half an inch thick slices and serve with the
Tip: For something like this to be enjoyed at its best, it is very important to rest the meat before serving. This makes it tender as the juices are not lost when sliced.
For Dessert: Steamed Mango Rice Cakes with Wild Berry Sorbet
A sweet version of the traditional South Indian snack, ‘idlis’, this is such a delicious dessert that it is a good idea to make a little extra as you won’t be able to keep away from them. Don’t let the preparation time put you off as they are really easy to make once you plan in advance.
Preparation time: 2 days
Cooking time: 20 minutes
For the mango rice cake
50 gm white urad dal
100 gm basmati rice
250 ml mango purée
1mango, peeled and diced
For the sorbet
175 ml water
150 gm sugar
450 gm blackberry purée
20 gm fresh lime juice
For the caramelized mango
1 ripe mango
2 tbsp demerara or granulated sugar
For the coconut tuile (makes 15 tuiles)
100 gm granulated sugar
110 gm desiccated coconut
2 whole eggs
1 For the mango rice cake, soak urad dal and the rice for 6–8 hours separately.
2 Make a fine paste of urad dal in a blender and grind the rice into
a coarse paste.
3 Mix together and keep it in a warm place to ferment overnight.
4 Mix the mango purée and the mango dices into the mixture.
5 Steam the mango rice cake in idli moulds for approximately 20 minutes and keep it warm for serving.
6 Mix all the ingredients for the coconut tuile using a whisk or a hand blender till you get a soft dough. Roll this mixture to a thin layer on to a greased tray and bake it in an oven at 175ºC until it turns light brown, about 10 minutes.
7 Cut into finger sized batons using a pizza cutter or knife while it is still hot. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
8 Blend all the ingredients for the sorbet together using a whisk or electric food processor, strain through a fine sieve and churn according to the manufacturers’ instructions. There will be some leftover which will keep in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.
9 Cut the flesh of the mango into strips and dust with the sugar. Place under a hot grill for 2–3 minutes until golden.
10 To serve, warm the mango rice cake in the microwave.
11 Serve it warm with wild berry sorbet, using the caramelized mango and coconut tuile as garnish.
About the author – Vivek Singh is the Executive Chef and CEO of The Cinnamon Club and the recently opened, Cinnamon Kitchen. His award-winning recipes have earned him the reputation of being one of the leading Indian chefs globally. This is his fifth cookbook, which he has co-authored with his head chefs, Abdul Yaseen and Hari Nagaraj.
The book – Cinnamon Club: Indian Cuisine Reinvented – will be in bookstores in February, 2011.