Don’t you think that some days food should not just be a reason for nourishment, it should also be sheer poetry? Don’t you think that some days food should not just fill your belly, it also has to make you crave for more. Wouldn’t you want food to also entice your senses and tempt you and lure you to reach out and explore flavors that you would have never tasted before? Now I am the first to admit that the food I make every single day is very basic and plain, it is hardly tempting, exciting or adventurous. Don’t get me wrong, it makes me euphoric, it makes me happy, but it is not food that will win me any awards. Most days I don’t bother with any fancy garnishing and decorating, it goes from the cooking utensils to the plate and in my tummy as soon as it is cooked.
However, I think that when you are surrounded by incredibly talented people you have to step up and ensure that you do your best too. You push your boundaries without knowing that you had them and end up with something that even surprises yourself. So when I recently attended a fabulous “Food Styling & Photography Workshop” at the propcoop_syd I knew that the food that I made to photograph there has to be more than basic, it had to also be good looking and then to top it up, it also had to taste bloody good.
And as a result, I made this exquisite “Chicken Mughlai Kofta,” which looked so gorgeous that I was actually surprised that it came out of my kitchen. Perfectly formed melt in your mouth meatballs cooked in a dairy free yet creamy gravy, this dish just made me stand still for a minute and pat my own back. Not only did it look stunning in the beautifully chosen props by the very creative Georgie, the food stylist who ran the Z Workshop in Sydney. But under the supervision of her equally talented husband Joe, it even photographed well. As my first sense of feeling overwhelmed in a space that had so much to offer me turned to curiosity and then amazement, I left feeling delirious with happiness that not only was my food loved by all, but I had also learned some wonderful new ways to make it look attractive.
Workshop details: The Z Workshop
Food Styling & Prop: Georgie Dolling Stylist
Photography suggestions & guidance: Joe Filshie
Recipe: (Cooking time 60 minutes, serves 4 – 6)
For the Koftas:
250 gms Chicken mince
2 green chilies finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly chopped Coriander
1 ½ tsp Ginger Garlic paste
1 tsp Cardamom powder
1 tbsp Almond powder
1 tsp Red chili powder
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil to shallow fry the koftas
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, cover with the cling film and place in the fridge for 15 – 20 minutes.
When ready to fry, add the Oil to a thick bottomed pan and make small round balls and fry them lightly. You will find that the mince will stick to your palm, to avoid this, apply water on your palms and then shape the Koftas.
Drain the excess oil on a kitchen towel.
You can freeze the Koftas once they are cool and use them later. Alternatively, you can also serve them with a mint chutney or use them in a sandwich.
For the Sauce:
4 large onions thinly sliced
½ cup Cashewnuts
1 tbsp Charmagaz (melon seeds)
3 large Tomatoes
2 Green chillies
1 tsp Red chilli powder
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Ginger garlic paste
Salt to taste
2 tbsp Vegetable oil
1 tsp Garam masala powder
Cream (You can skip this if you want to do a diary free version)
Almond flakes (toasted, Georgie suggested that toasted flakes would better when photographed and they did)
Soak the Cashewnuts and Melon seeds in warm water for atleast 15 minutes. Drain all the water and grind to a fine paste
Heat 1 tbsp Oil in a pan and add the Onion and cook till the Onion has become brown but not burned. Cool and grind to a paste
Blanche the Tomatoes in hot water and add the green chilies and make a puree.
Heat the remaining Oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the Ginger Garlic paste and then the Onion paste and cook on a low flame, be careful as the paste will splutter.
Once the raw smell of the Onion has disappeared, add the Cashewnut paste.
Cook on a low flame and keep stirring as the paste can stick to the pan and burn very easily. Once the oil starts to separate add the Tomato Puree, Salt, Red chilli powder & Turmeric powder. Cook for a few minutes. Add a cup of hot water and bring to a boil.
Add the Chicken Koftas and cook on a low flame for 10 minutes
Serve hot with Naans garnished with Almond Flakes and Cream