Tasty Treats

MasterChef India winner Chef Pankaj Bhadouria gives us some delicious Diwali recipes straight from her celebrated kitchen
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Tasty Treats
Laska ka chaska

Apart from crackers and lights, what really makes Diwali fun is the food. However, if you have had your fill with the gulab jamuns, rasmalais and jalebis this season, we suggest you try something different to impress your guests with. And the person to guide you is the winner of the first season of Master Chef India, Pankaj Bhadouria, a great believer of fusion cuisine. She brings a unique mix of the east and the west to create some special recipes that will rock your party menu.

(Veg Penang Laksa with assorted condiments)

100g peeled onions
8 garlic cloves
25g peeled ginger, sliced
15g lemongrass (soft white stem
only), sliced
2 tsp ground coriander
3 large dried red chillies
2 tbsp chilli paste
4 tbsp vegetable oil
50g fresh coriander
1¼ litres vegetable stock
3 branches curry leaves
2 tsp curry powder
1½ tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
400ml coconut milk
100g rice vermicelli noodles
300g bean sprouts
150g French beans, trimmed and halved
250g fried tofu puffs (optional)
4 limes, halved
Put the first seven ingredients in the food processor bowl. Add half the oil and the roots and stems of the fresh coriander and process to a semi-smooth paste. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the spice paste for 20 mins, stirring all the time – ensure it doesn’t burn. Add the stock, curry powder, salt, sugar and coconut milk, simmer gently for 30 minutes, then taste and add more salt if necessary.

Once the broth is done, steep the rice noodles in boiling water for three minutes and drain. Throw the bean sprouts into a pan of boiling water, drain at once and refresh.

Cook the beans in boiling water for three minutes, drain and refresh. Add the beans, noodles and half the sprouts, ladle into large bowls and top with the remaining sprouts, tofu puffs and shredded coriander leaves. Squeeze lime juice on top and add one half of the squeezed lime into each bowl.

GONGURA PANEER LAAJAWAB (Gongura Paneer and Coconut Rice)

½ cup chopped gongura leaves
½ cup chopped palak (spinach) leaves
1 onion chopped
1 tomato
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsps red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 green chilly
2 cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
Wash the leaves well and boil them in a kadai adding ½ onion, 1/4 tsp turmeric,1 chilly and ½ tomato till water is absorbed well. Cool this and grind to a puree and keep aside.

Heat a kadai and add cloves and remaining onions and fry well with ginger garlic paste. Add the tomatoes also and the masala powders and cook well. Pour some water and allow to boil. Pour in the pureed gongura and cook for another five minutes or till the gravy is thick and saucy.

1 Large block paneer, cut in Roundles
Finely chopped coriander leaves
The Marinade:
1/2 cup curd (plain yogurt)
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp tandoori powder
1 tsp cumin (jeera) powder
2 tsp chaat powder
To taste salt
To taste red chili powder
Cut paneer into long 1/2” thick cubes. Mix all ingredients for marinade and keep aside. Add some marinade to the vegetables. Brush the remaining marinade to the paneer and refrigerate it for three hours. Heat oil in a pan and fry marinated paneer till fully done. Reserve for plating.

2 cups long-grain rice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 (13- to 14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon salt
Rinse rice in a sieve under cold running water for two to three minutes, then drain well. Melt butter in a 2-3 quart saucepan over moderately high heat. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes opaque for about three minutes. Stir in coconut milk, water, cinnamon, and salt and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 20 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick and fluff rice with a fork.

1 ½ cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 tablespoon coffee powder
200 g dark chocolate, chopped
2 cups caster sugar
250g butter
1 ½ cups hot water
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla essence
125 g dark cooking chocolate
125 g unsalted butter
Egg white - 1
Sugar – 150 gms
Preheat an oven to 180C/350F/ Gas 4. Grease and flour 12 cup cake moulds. Place the chocolate in a small pan along with the sugar, butter and water and heat gently over a pan of simmering water, until the chocolate and butter melt. Cool and pour into a blender.

Gradually add the sifted flour into the blender and blend till well mixed. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla essence and blend well. Spoon the batter into the prepared moulds and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

Leave to stand for about five minutes. For the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a small pan over a pan of simmering water, and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Spread the icing over the cupcakes and mark grooves with a fork for a decorative finish.