Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Tomorrow December 18 is Qatar National Day... a day filled with joy the whole country both expats n citizens gear up to celebrate QND every year and this year too you can see the corniche is decked up with lights of the National flag.. All the Malls... shops.. cars.. buildings... all decked up for celebrating QND.. Its festive mood everywhere.. Last year I posted this recipe on QND and it was a traditional recipe..




        This year wanted to do something colorful and I think with going for Cake Decorating Classes my mind got fixed in baking and cake decorating.... Found cupcake liners in LuLu Hypermarket that matched the festive mood.. then with lots of browsing   settled down for Red Velvet Cupcake...
thought the color would match the QND... I ve followed  Nigella's recipe which turned out great..
I made only  half the recipe as for the past two weeks Ive been baking ..baking.. and baking only..
and also limit the consumption..hehehe....
    I got 6 overfilled delicious cupcakes.... (my mistake... didnt know the batter would rise so high)..
The cupcakes were soo moist n was not too sweet  and the sweet cream cheese Icing complemented it perfectly... if you are not fond of icing then sprinkle them with icing sugar...
I colored half the icing in Burgundy to match the qatar flag color.. the final product turned out how I wanted alhamdulillah.. and I am happy I could make something special to join the festive mood here in this beautiful country..



I am sharing the recipe for making 24 cupcakes you can always half the quantity to make them 12..
now off to the recipe..

You Need:

RED VELVET CUPCAKE
Makes 24 cupcakes

All purpose Flour                               250 gms
Cocoa Powder                                    2 tbsp
Baking Powder                                   2 tsp
Bi carbonate of Soda                          1/2tsp
Unsalted Butter                                   100gms
Castor Sugar                                       200 gms
Red Gel color                                     1/2 heaped tsp
Vanilla essence                                   2 tsp
Large Eggs                                          2 nos
Buttermilk                                         175 ml
Cider Vinegar                                    1 tsp

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Icing Sugar                                       500gms
Butter                                                125 gms
Cream Cheese (room temp)              125 gms
Cider Vinegar                                    1 tsp
red sprinkles for decorating




PREPARATION:

FOR RED VELVET CUPCAKES:

Preheat oven @170* C .
Place cup cake liners in two regular Muffin tins ( 1 muffin tin can make 12 cupcakes/muffins)
Shift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda together
Cream the butter and sugar  well.. when the mixture becomes soft and looks pale in color add the food coloring and vanilla essence and mix well.
Now while mixing add half the dry ingredients and 1 egg.. mix well.. then add the remaining dry ingredients and one more egg..
At last add the buttermilk and cider vinegar and mix well..
Divide the mixture into the cup cake liners... fill only half the liner.. do not over fill
Bake them for about 20 minutes. insert a toothpick to test.. if it comes out clean then it is done.
After 10 minutes remove them from the tin and allow them to cool completely

FOR CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

Shift the icing sugar ..
Beat the icing sugar, cream cheese, butter and cider vinegar  for about 5 minutes.. it would have formed a smooth and luscious icing ..

TO ASSEMBLE:
Ice each cupcake with a spoon or spatula and decorate with sprinkles.


NOTES:
1.coloring the icing is completely optional.
2. If you plan to frost the cupcakes with rosettes or swirl you will need more icing
3. you can make the cup cakes a day before .. cool and put in an air tight box and place it in the refrigerator
4. It tastes best when iced and eaten on the same day.. but store if any leftover in an air tight box and place it in the refrigerator.


Mei Hoon Chicken Biryani / Rice Vermicelli Chicken Biryani

After a very long time... wanted to participate in the Muslim Food Bloggers from the time the challenge started.. but couldn't for various reasons.. drafted this post to participate in the third challenge.. somehow didn't blog it either I forget the date (mostly with a busy life) or there would be some issues with the laptop ... better late than never right...  Am really happy to be a part of this beautiful group and I hope I would be able to participate in the future challenges too In Sha Allah



Mei hoon  + Chicken Biryani 👀👀 does it sounds unusual .....Lets call it a fusion of Malay and Indian Cusine.  Before moving to the recipe lets just have a small intro of whats Mei Hoon?
        Mei hoon / BiHun / Rice Vermicelli  is used for making Goreng / Stir Fry, Soups and many other versatile dishes in many cuisines.. They are usually hydrated in hot water for 5 minutes and its ready to use.  Many people confuse with Cellophane Noodles..as both look almost similar visually.  For more info you can look in here.  I am a huge fan of Mi Siam especially made by my grandma. My mom makes Chinese Fried Rice with  Mei hoon... I have had in soups but not in Biryani... 
   When my dear friend from Malaysia made this Chicken Biryani for a Pot Luck Dinner... I was just amazed... never I ve imagined that a delicious Biryani could be made with Mee hoon... Loved the soft texture of Mei hoon which I ve never had before... The ones we usually have has a kind of  resistence.. kinda similar texture like Cellophane noodles..... When asked her about it she told me always soaks them in cold water for 6 hours which makes them incredibly soft.  The Biryani she made was a huge hit in the party and also has been a regular in our menu.
    This Biryani recipe is perfect for any dinner party... perfect recipe for those who fear making the usual biryani for a huge crowd....  perfect if you want a lighter biryani.... This recipe is very easy to prepare and stress free if you are making for parties... you can make the gravy well in advance and soak the vermicelli and just before dinner time just mix it n dum cook for a couple of minutes...
 Try this and you will surely like it.... Now lets move onto the recipe now:





You Need:

Rice Vermicelli/ Mei Hoon     200gms
Chicken                                    275-300 gms
Onion (large)                            1 nos
Tomato (medium)                    1 nos
Ginger Garlic paste                  1 tbsp (slightly heaped)
Chilli Powder                           1 tsp
Haldi                                        1/4 tsp
Pepper                                       1 tsp
Coriander leaves                       1/4 cup
Pudina / Mint leaves                 5-6 leaves
Curd / Yoghurt                          2 tbsp (heaped)
Lemon Juice                             1 tsp
Cardamom                                  2  nos
Clove                                       2 nos
Cinnamon                                1" piece
Bay leaves                                2 nos
Oil                                              2 tbsp
Ghee                                         1/2 tsp
Green Chilli                              2-3 nos
Water                                        around 1 cup
Salt as required

Preparation:

Soak the rice vermicelli  for at least 6 hours preferably overnight. After that break them into tiny pieces with your hands.... drain the water n keep aside. ( this process can be done when the gravy is cooking)
Thinly slice onion, chop the tomato... Slit the green chilli ... Finely chop coriander leaves n mint leaves... Cut the chicken into 4-6 pieces
In a heavy bottomed pan add oil... when it heats up add the Cinnamon, cardamom, clove n bay leaves...saute for 30 seconds. Add the onion and fry them till they turn translucent... add the chilli powder n fry for 20 seconds and immediately add the ginger garlic paste... fry for a couple of minutes..
Add the green chilli, coriander leaves, mint leaves and cook for a minute.... Add the chicken and fry them for 10 minutes... add turmeric powder , pepper powder and salt.. then add the tomato ,,, cover n cook them for 10 minutes.. the tomatoes should be soft and oil would start to leave the sides...
Now add curd, lemon juice, Water and salt and cook for about 15-20 minutes.. check the chicken if its cooked..
Now add the rice vermicelli.. close the pan with  a tight fitting lid and dum cook for 10 -15 minutes... all the liquid would have been absorbed and the biryani is ready...
Sprinkle finely chopped coriander leaves ..and serve hot



    

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Majboos Al Lahm / Mutton Majboos & many celebrations

Alhamdulillah ! Alhamdulillah ! Reached 250 recipes !!!( at last) After so many obstacles and breaks reached this milestone... This is my dream post... there is couple of celebrations attached to it....
yes!!... first belated 7th blog anniversary .... my blog baby is now 7 years old... with the grace of Almighty.. Wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to all my friends and family out there who have been so supportive to me in all these years.. and to my husband who is Maasha Allah very supportive and the driving force behind my blogging... Miss my dear father... he would have been very happy to see me achieving this small milestone..

   And as I am typing this post I remember today (15th Dec) five years back, came to Qatar... five amazing years in this beautiful country.. Shifting from the super fast life in UAE ... loved Qatar for its quietness and calm lifestyle... waking up to the sound of birds chirping in your window ... calm surroundings.. still remember when we first came here there was literally no night life here.. by 9 pm the whole town was quiet with almost all the shops closed.. even in afternoons most shops would be closed... slowly got accustomed to this lifestyle and the Qatar we live now is much different.. so many developments in these five years..


The Souq Waqif

    Describing about Qatar.... there are quite a few landmarks to see... FANAR - Qatar's Islamic Cultural Center.. , Doha Corniche .- the  waterfront which  extends to  several kilometers along Doha bay ..... the Museum of Islamic Arts ... and not to forget the most famous Souq Waqif.. where you get the most amazing spices, traditional garments, handicrafts &souvenirs .....
  Talking about Qatar.. National Day falls on December 18.. and every year I've been wanting to do a special post on that day... but it was never done...  This year In Sha Allah my wish is coming true... and today I am going to share with you the famous Majboos Al Lahm or the Mutton Majboos...



   .. have eaten Mandi quite many times and love it... have heard about Kabsa rice  but had no idea about Majboos until I came to Qatar.... I first had chicken   majboos  at a friends house here.... looking at it resembled like biryani and thought would be hot and spicy... but no it was just full of flavor, yummy and not at all hot and spicy..  both my kids loved it... I liked it a lot coz it was full on flavor... and I liked it for another reason too... my daughter never liked spicy food... everytime I make biryani I cut back on chilli just for her...  But when making Majboos is a different story the rice is not at all spicy and for my liking I add the hot salsa or Salata hara hence problem solved..



   Coming back to  Majboos ... it can be made with Chicken  / Mutton / Fish... and is served with Salata Hara... The Majboos we get from Arabic Kitchens is topped with raisins and chick peas  but at home I don't add it. Chicken Majboos is liked by kids ( In Sha Allah will share the recipe later) unlike Mutton Majboos..which is preferred by adults...

  There is an important ingredient without  which there is no majboos -  Loomi Aswad / Dried Black Lemon( will share its pic soon)... its a common staple in any arabic recipes... it imparts a smoky lemon flavor which lifts the whole dish.  And for making majboos you need a special majboos masala... here in Qatar its is easily available in shops but I like to buy them from exhibitions ... find them more fresh and aromatic...
   Majboos is served with a Middle Eastern Chutney / Salata hara ( recipe here)  and a simple salad with lettuce, cucumbers & tomato.. A simple rice dish to make but always a crowd pleaser.
Off to the recipe now:



You need:

Mutton                                        400gms
Basmati Rice                              2 cups/ 300gms
Olive oil                                      3 tbsp
Clove                                          4 nos
Cinnamon                                   2 " piece
Cardamom                                  3 nos
Bay leaf                                      1 nos
Dried black lemon                      2 nos
Onion (medium)                         1 nos
Ginger Garlic paste                    1 heaped tbsp
Tomato paste                              1/2 tbsp
Curry leaves                               5-6 nos
Majboos Masala                         1 tbsp
Turmeric powder                        1/2 tsp
Salt to taste



Preparation:

Wash the rice and soak for 30 minutes.
Cut the mutton into 4  pieces.
Slice the onions. Lightly smash the dried lemons on your kitchen counter to open up the lemon.. this helps to impart the flavor.
Heat the olive oil in  a wide thick bottomed pan. Add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and dried black lemon.. fry them for about 30 seconds.
Now add the curry leaves and onions... fry  till the onions become soft and translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for about a minute.
Next add tomato paste , turmeric powder, majboos masala, salt and cook  for a minute again.
Add the mutton pieces and cook for about 5 minutes .
Add about 2 cups of water . bring it to a boil, Cover the pan and cook in simmer for about an hour approx.. till the meat is tender and falls of the bone.
check in between whether there is water in the stock... add a cup of water if there is not.
Remove the meat and the dried lemon from the stock and strain the liquid.
You need 4 cups / 600 ml of liquid to cook the rice. measure the strained liquid and add water for remaining amount.
Pour the liquid back in the pan, check for salt  and bring it to boil.. now add rice , cover and cook in simmer for about 20 minutes, the rice would have absorbed all the liquid and fluff up . Place the mutton pieces and lemon on top.
Cover again and cook for just 10 minutes.
Serve them with Salata Hara and Salad..



NOTE:

1) Always use mutton with bones, I prefer Shanks or the leg . this imparts deep flavors in the stock.
2) If dried lemon is not available substitute it  with little lemon juice
3) If majboos masala is not available you can use curry powder.




  

The Versatile Green Chutney

At last found time for blogging... When the laptop is free in my home I am busy with work.. When I am free the laptop is occupied... I know its nearly more than three months since I posted.  but meanwhile have been working  on many recipes..  hope to post them soon in sha allah. Today's recipe is the versatile Green Chutney....  It used in sandwiches, chaats , as spreads etc.,etc.,
    I love green chutney... for its spiciness ...for its vibrant color... have attempted to make them at home innumerable times.. but have not achieved the perfect chutney.. sometimes the balance of flavor misses or sometimes the vibrant green color misses.. I can never use them the next day coz I have always felt a bitter taste in my chutney...At one point I have stopped trying it out...
    Recently there was a no-fire cooking class in my son's school... they made sandwich. My son wanted green chutney.. I was quite confused. Then asked help from my dear friend. She told me the recipe which was very easy to prepare and was super yumm too. such a vibrant color n it stays fresh for 2-3 days... storing them in a airtight container... with the arrival of winter  n fresh greens available all around Qatar.. I am preparing it every week..  so lets proceed with the recipe..



You Need:

 Coriander leaves                        a big bunch
Garlic cloves                               4 nos
Green chili                                  3-4 nos
Tomato ( medium)                      1/2 nos
Lemon juice                                1/4- 1/2 cup
Salt

Preparation:

Clean and wash the coriander leaves .. chop them coarsely
In the blender add the coriander leaves, garlic pods, green chilli , tomato, salt  and around 1/4 cup lemon juice first  , and little water and grind
Check for lemon n salt n add if needed...
Transfer to a clean container n store in the fridge .
Now you can use them in chaats, sandwich , rolls. etc

NOTES:
1) I have used the stem of the coriander leaves too.
2) This chutney is quite spicy .. you can always adjust the amount of green chili used according to your taste.
3) lemon juice plays important role in keeping it fresh n retain colour...  Add enough so as not to have the bitterness.
4) this recipe yields around 2 cups of chutney



Salata Hara - Middle Eastern Chutney

Salata Hara ia s a famous Middle Eastern Chutney... Spicy with a hint of sourness... They are served with all Rice n Meat dishes such as Mandi, majboos, Buhkari rice..... Arabic Rice dishes are full of flavour but quite bland unlike our spicy biryani.... This Salata Hara adds the spicy twist to it...
Very simple to make and it goes well as an accompaniment to our Indian dishes as well....
       Learnt this recipe from a friend of mine who is more like a sister to me... Her version is much flavourful... compared to what i used to make before...  The ones the restaurants serve is more of a puree but i like it little chunky.. to add texture.... I make them in my small chopper.... making them in food processor will also turn good.. If you are making them in your chutney jar... Operate them in pulse mode to maintain the texture.  This recipe calls for 2 chilli... if you  like it more spicy you can add another.



You need:

Tomato( medium)                       2 nos*
Onion (small)                             1/2 nos
Green Chilli                                2-3 nos
Coriander leaves                         a small handfull
Lemon Juice                               1/2- 3/4 tsp
Ginger                                        1/2" piece
Garlic                                          1 clove**
Salt

Preparation:

Roughly chop the onion, tomato, green chilli , coriander leaves, ginger , garlic
In your chopper add the ginger garlic onion n green  chilli and grind them for about 30 seconds..
Now add the tomato n coriander leaves  n grind them for 30 seconds - 1 min... depending on how you want them chunky or coarse chutney.
Add 1/2 - 3/4 tsp of lemon juice ( always add little n check for taste then if needed only add more) and salt. give a quick mix n Serve.
You can also store them in airtight container n keeps fresh for 2-3 days

Note:
*The tomato used should be ripe
** I ve used a big clove of garlic... if the garlic pod is small use 2 nos