Friday, 19 December 2014

Lobster Thermidor

Lobster  Thermidor

Another revelation of the past, it has been a tradition for us since our arrival to Canada  to indulge every father’s day in this amazing masterpiece.
Use small lobsters, the tail will give you the most meat. Most stores steam the fresh lobsters and sell it to you.
You can add scallop and meaty white fish and fresh crab to make this into a seafood bake.
Find crab shells to serve it in. Grill it to make it au gratin it looks great and you can have portions shared to each one.
You can buy au gratin dishes, or even try and save the lobster shells, tough if you are removing the meat yourself. Count on one small lobster per person as a main course.

Interesting trivia. "Thermidor" is the name of the 11th month of the French Republican calendar. Stemming from the words thermal meaning heat (it hardly relates to lobsters or the weather!) But like with other fame there is always a good story attached.
In the 1890's A play was named Thermidor, relating to the history of that moment in time performing at the Comedy Theater in Paris. To honour the opening night Marie's, a restaurant of great repute and located next door to the theater,  created this culinary masterpiece. It continues to be prepared for just special occasions since - thanks to the work involved!

Lobster Thermidor served in a tail au gratin.

4 Lobsters

Remove lobster, cut it into chunky pieces and season with salt and peppercorns, and squeeze fresh lemon or lime over it.

In a large pot make the bechamel sauce.

Melt 4 tbsp salted butter 
add 4 tbsp plain flour
Make a roux, and add
2 cups whole milk
Keep stirring with a whisk to keep it smooth and bring it to a boil till thickens.
Add to this
Seasoning; salt and mixed peppercorns freshly cracked.
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 large sauteed onion; very finely chopped
2 soft boiled eggs; diced and seasoned a dash of cream
A dash of chili sauce like Tabasco
1 tsp made mustard
Add the chunks of lobster meat
When ready to serve pour into 4 gratin dishes, sprinkle a mix of  grated cheese, bread crumbs  and butter on top  and grill under a broiler till bubbly and golden. Serve warm.
Add a few tablespoons of cream to make it richer.
If using mustard powder instead of made mustard use just 1/2 tsp and not the whole.
Use a favourite strong cheddar if you cannot find Gruyere. 
Add 2 tbsps of dry sherry to your bechamel if you enjoy liquor in your food; originally cognac was added to this French dish!

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Niloufer's Kitchen : French Bistro

Monday, 15 December 2014



Literal translation? Pine nut.
Yet the most amazing macaroon is also called Pignoli. Its origins from the heart of Sicily. 
They are chewy and dense but can me made crispy if preferred. Simple to make; Sicilians definitely win the best cookie prize hands down!

Teaching an Italian cuisine cooking class to the students at a local High School was one of the most rewarding moments in my career. The beaming faces chewing these freshly baked Pignolis was like a thousand words of praise!  I was their "Culinary Tour of Italy" having just made an Italian flag lasagne, Chicken Cacciatore  and the Pignolis in their local backyard.
Some comments from this class can be read at

Freshly baked Pignolis

3/4 + 1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup almond paste; crumbled
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh lemon zest
3/4 tsp vanilla
3 large egg whites
1 1/3 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Using the pulse button of your food processor simply turn on and off until a crumbly mixture forms,
3/4th cup pine nuts, the sugar, almond paste, zest and vanilla.

Add this to the egg whites and mix until just smooth. Now add the flour salt and baking powder and using the pulse button once again turn it off and on until just mixed.

Drop a tbsp at a time on the prepared two baking sheets lined with parchment. Press the tops of each pignoli with the remaining pine nuts. Should make about 28 cookies. If you want to make them with your hands wet your palms before rolling the balls, this dough is rather sticky.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes 350F/180C.

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Friday, 12 December 2014

Whisky Cake

Whisky Fruit Cake

Growing up this cake was traditionally baked every year the New Years Day Annual Family Pot-Luck at home this cake particularly brings back a flood of good memories. Being such a favourite it was also prepared for my wedding by my own mother; one of the many requests we made off her!!
I also remember helping my mum prepare this a couple of times before that for her best friends children's wedding! 
It really is a variation of a  traditional fruit cake, a rather light one. It will come out golden coloured, has less fruit than most and has the texture of a tea cake.
Using a good Scotch Whisky is key to the end result.
Soaking prior to baking and brushing after are both very necessary steps. 

Last week one of my talented readers requested to teach her a good fruit cake. She posted these pictures on face book which started a stream of requests to share the recipe and so here it goes!!

Two round 9 inch /27cms freshly baked cakes

An avid readers gift to me, perfectly baked! Thank you Kainaaz P.

Weigh all the dry ingredients

Soak overnight  in 1 cup whisky
6 ozs/170gms walnuts
8 ozs/225gms raisins
8 ozs/225gms red glace cherries

In a pan cream together until light and fluffy
10 ozs/285gms butter, salted
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Add one egg a time while the machine is running.
7 eggs
Now sift together and beat into the above mixture. Keep the speed of the machine at its very lowest. Do not over beat. Just allow it all to fold together.
14 ozs/395gms flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Add in all the soaked fruits also with the machine running on slow.
Fold in once or twice with a spatula before pouring into the prepared pan.
This quantity will make one large cake in a 12 cup bundt pan or two loaf pans or two 9 inch/27cm round deep pans.
Bake at 350F/180C degrees for 75 minutes for the large bundt pan and 45 for the others. Checking the cake with a tester a bit earlier prevents it from drying out or over baking. 
Cool completely and then soak your muslin with 3/4th cup of whisky and wrap it all up. Then tightly cover with a foil and place in fridge. One week maturity gives it an amazing flavour.

Alternately ice with marzipan while chilled so it is easy to handle and will cover well.
Eat at room temperature.

To prepare the pan you will need 3 layers of brown paper at the bottom and butter the top one and the sides and flour the sides too. If your baking pans are nice and thick you do not need paper on the side. 

Readers Comments

Thank you, Niloufer Mavalvala for your lovely XMAS cake recipe! Everyone enjoyed it. The cake turned out soft and irresistible, and the colours were marvellous. Can't wait to bake it again!

Meher Mirza Thx Nilufer Niloufer Mavalvala for ur recipe. my family is enjoying it they did not allow me to mature it also.
Meher Mirza It tastes yummy better then  a rum cake

Thursday, 11 December 2014


Paneer or Cottage Cheese

Generally considered as typically Indian, the  Paneer  pronounced  as Puh -nir, is a simple home made cheese. Its texture is dependent on the amount of liquid squeezed out of it. Easy to make, it 
is literally the curds separating from the whey.
It can be used in many forms in recipes. Most commonly it is diced and fried for adding to vegetarian dishes like curries and vegetables. I often use it in my samosas, quiche and even cheesecake. Served as a tea time treat when its freshly done it is delicious; warm and soft.
With no additives or preservatives it is a versatile recipe worth knowing.

Freshly made pressed Paneer

8 cups whole milk
3 cups yogurt
3 tsp salt
Optional squeeze of fresh lemon juice or 1 tbsp of vinegar
For the Paneer 
Boil the milk. Gently beat the  yogurt with the salt. Add the yogurt to the boiling milk and lower the heat to a simmer. Wait for the milk to separate. On the first sign of that turn the stove off. Allow to keep on separating. Keep a sieve ready with a muslin cloth in it. Overturn the paneer mixture over it and allow to drain hanging the muslin very lightly. The softness will depend on how hard you press down and how much water you force out.

The addition of acidic liquid is optional to enhance the speed of the separation of the curds and whey; It is not a must.
Try flavouring your paneer. Add fine red chillie flakes or finely chop a small part of the fresh red chillie, a few  finely chopped fresh corriander or mint leaves and add this for a festive look and a sharper taste.It will make an excellent gift for your hostess!
Alternately add freshly cracked  mixed peppercorns.

Special utensils to drain out the paneer and shape it round are available in the markets.
The three parts of the utensil to make a perfect paneer 

An assembled Paneer pan !
For more recipes from the Parsi Cuisine
Check out my e-cookbook Niloufer's Kitchen Quick: and Easy

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Parsi Se`v

Parsi Se`v

Vermicelli, thin fine noodles made of roasted whole wheat; also referred to as seviyan. Dry vermicelli in a packet is available at all Sub-continental grocery stores.

Parsi Sev is generally served as a combination with sweet yogurt on most festive occasions. The textures, flavours and the temperatures (warm sev and the cool yogurt) compliment each other. it seems to be synonymous; many of us refer actually refer to the duo as one word "sev-dahi" in conversation! 

Aromas and fragrances familiar to most sweet delights of the Parsi Cuisine; rose water, cardamom and nutmeg powder topped with roasted or fried plump golden raisins and slivered almonds or other nuts completes this delicious dish.

Sev topped with raisins and almonds

sev -dahi


200 gms/ 7 1/2 oz vermicelli
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup water + 1/2 cup
1 1/2 tbsp oil or ghee or mixed
pinch of salt
1/4 cup rose water
optionally 1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds

In a pan take a tsp of ghee or oil and fry the raisins and almonds for a minute. Remove and keep aside on a paper towel to  drain and absorb the oil.

In a pan melt the sugar in cold water. Do not allow to boil. The flame should be low.
Keep aside.

In a flat large pan melt the ghee or heat the oil. Add all of the vermicelli tossing it around until a caramel golden brown. Do not over cook or it will burn.
Add the sugar water all over. Press it down with the back of the spatula. Cover the pan tightly with the lid and let it simmer on a very low flame until the water has evaporated.This should take 15-20 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and test if it has cooked through. If it has a  bite to it and is still not soft, add another few teaspoons of water and cover and cook for an extra 5 minutes. Now add the rosewater, vanilla and the spices. toss it with the fork, and cover and steam another 3 minutes. Serve with the raisins and almonds.

Another optional methodYou can also fluff it up in the oven and not the stove top. This method is simpler when making a larger quantity as it is very difficult to have such a large flat pan. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C degrees. Put the sev with the pan, tightly covered for 10 minutes into the oven allowing it to steam.
Remove from the oven,  reduce the heat to 250F/ 120C. Toss the sev with a fork to separate. Now add all the rosewater, cardamom and nutmeg and the salt. Toss around with a fork again. Fluff it up. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
Remove again from the oven and tossing it once again with the fork check for its softness. Sprinkle some water with your hands all over, cover and let it cook for another 10 minutes until finally done.

Remove to your serving dish and sprinkle with the raisins and nuts. Serve it warm with chilled sweet yogurt~ Parsi Dahi

You can use all oil or all ghee. You may also substitute the ghee for salted butter. 
I prefer using at least half oil to prevent it from burning easily and congealing once cool. 
Adding Vanilla to it is a good option.
Reheat in the oven on a low preheated oven covered if preparing ahead of time.

The colour of your final dish will depend on the initial roasting. 

Break the long strands of the vermicelli before opening the packaging. This avoids a mess as it flies all over while trying to break it down in the pan. 

Pick a large pan that is oven proof and that seals fairly well if using alternate method.

For more delicious Parsi cuisine recipes click on
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Friday, 5 December 2014

Smoked Salmon Pizzetta

Smoked Salmon Pizzetta

Some days one needs to prepare something special in a pinch. This recipe is simply divine and needs few ingredients, tastes great and looks pretty. A great combination as we eat with our eye first!
With a variety of ingredients you can add to this plate it is a versatile quick and easy fix for friends and family served with a side of salad and a glass of chilled white wine; cin cin! 
Pizzetta;  garlic naan, caramalised onion goat cheese, smoked salmon brushed with vodka chopped tomatoes and dill.

4 soft flat breads of your choice, flavoured with herbs or garlic
1 cup of soft goats cheese
1 cup of finely chopped caramelised onions
1 tomato finely diced
a few sprigs of chopped fresh dill
fresh cracked peppercorns

250 gms/8oz  smoked salmon
Vodka to brush
fresh lemon juice to squeeze all over

Keep all the ingredients prepared at room temperature.
Heat the flat bread; in an oven or on a griddle.
Sprinkle the goat cheese immediately, this allows it to melt down just enough to create a butter like base. top with caramelised onions, 
Top with slices of smoked salmon, brush with the vodka or squeeze the lemon juice
Now place the diced tomatoes and the fresh dill
Finally crack the mixed peppercorns all over.

Eat immediately.

Ready to eat caramelised onion goat cheese is available in some stores
Substitute sun dried tomatoes for fresh ones if you prefer.
Artichokes and Olives are also a good combination to add. A drizzle of your favourite Chipotle or alioli sauce is delicious.
Feta is an option to Goats cheese. Pick the less salty feta if you have a choice.
Smoked salmon with Vodka or Dill is also often available
Use a softer flat bread like a Greek pita or Indian naan.

For more fabulous recipes click
Niloufer's Kitchen: Winter

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

Comfort food at its best: mac and cheese. Adding something a little indulgent like lobster meat can make it that much more special. Simple yet elegant, this dish will leave you feeling happily satisfied.

On a family trip to Boston Massachusetts, it was one of the best dishes I have ever eaten. Glad to have tried it out and here is my version to share. I hope you will enjoy making it for your family.

Called Alpermagronen in the Swiss Alps, Cheese Macaroni in the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand and the Colonies,  Macaroni Pie in the Caribbean, it is a comfort food everywhere. It is said that a " version" of this particular dish originated in Napoli, Italy, inscribed in one of the first cookbooks "Liber de Coquina" as early as the 14th century. This wonderful cookbook is still preserved in the Paris Library. A quick trip to Paris anyone?

Legend has it that President Jefferson returned with a pasta machine from his trip to Italy. His daughter who was the lady of the house prepared this dish which is now the famous mac and cheese as we know it, available everywhere world wide, freshly done in gourmet restaurants, in delis, and family-style diners. Also available in a box! There is only one ingredient that makes it a cut above the rest, simply depending on the preparation and love put into it!

Gourmet Lobster Mac and Cheese!


1/2 cup salted butter 
1/2 cup flour
3 to 4 cups milk
nutmeg to taste
salt to taste
mixed peppercorns to taste
a squeeze of lime or lemon; fresh
1 cup of  freshly grated assorted strong cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives
Optionally  2 tbsp of either of your favourite liquor; Rum, Vodka or Gin
1 tsp of prepared mustard

250 gms/ 8 oz dry pasta of choice, pick from elbow macaroni, cavatelli or conchiglie
2 lobster tails, boiled, picked and cut into square chunks

Step 1
Clean and prepare the lobster tail. Season it with salt and squeeze the lemon juice over it.
If you are planning to include the optional liquor, pour it over the lobster meat.
Keep aside.

Step 2

In a pan melt 1/2 cup salted butter, add the flour and make a roux. Stir with a whisk until the butter starts to leave the pieces of roux. This will take 3 minutes.
Add 3 cups of milk. keep stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil once it is completely smooth. Keep the flame of the stove on medium or low. Add all the cheese. Stir to melt.  Stir and see how thick the sauce is. You may need additional milk to bring it to the right consistency. Taste for seasoning.

Step 3 
Prepare the pot to cook the pasta in;  6-8 cups water, a tsp of olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Add all the pasta to a pot of boiling hot water until just done. It may take 3 to 10 minutes depending on the type of pasta. Read the package instruction. Drain the water immediately. 

To assemble
Add the pasta to your prepared sauce, check the consistency, add the herbs and finally very gently fold in the lobster meat.
Remove into a baking dish, sprinkle it with bread crumbs and cheese.
Broil the dish for 3 minutes under your grill to see the top golden brown and the cheese will be melting and bubbling! 


Pick a pasta that is small and with some form of a tube, shell. This will "catch" the delicious cheesy sauce into it giving you a more uniform taste of everything in each bite.
If you have a choice using a fresh pasta makes it that much more special.
Also an egg noodle is a delicious alternate.
Fresh pasta and egg noodles generally have a shorter cooking time. Do not over cook the pasta as it will get mushy.

Herbs can be interchanged. Tarragon and Basil are great alternates for seafood.

Pick a cheddar that has bold flavour and melts well, Gruyere is my personal favourite. Similarly hard cheddars like Cornish or Welsh from the UK, or Comte and Beaufort from France and Jarlsberg from Norway are all perfect choices. Eventually it will be your taste bud that guides you toward the perfect cheese for your family!

Lobster tails are available ready to eat from most supermarkets and Delis. They can be small or large so aim to get about 1 measure cupful to the brim of the meat itself. 
Some markets have facilities to freshly steam them for you.
Fresh crab meat is the best substitute to lobster.

For more delicious comfort foods click on 
Niloufer's Kitchen:French Bistro

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Fish Biryani

Fish Biryani~Machi no Palau

Unique to our family, the Fish Biryani (Machi no Palau) is an all-time favourite.
My mother-in-law is highly renown amongst the Parsis of the world for her amazing recipe, which has been published in the great Manna of the Angels.  When I was getting married, as their affection toward me joining the family, all my cousin-in-laws had put me to the test of initiation into their family: if I were able to recreate this wonderful, aromatic, soul-satisfying dish. It is now a personal favourite in our home. 

And since most friends and acquaintances haven neither heard of this, nor tried it, we love to share this lovely dish at lunches, dinner parties, and special occasions.

Yummy Fish Palau

 Fish Biryani/ Machi no Palau

Serves 8      


In a pan heat a little safflo oil and fry till golden brown
3 chopped onions

Add to this and stir a minute

2 tsps garlic
salt to taste.. about 1 –1 /2 tsp
1 tsp cumin powder
6 green chillies finely chopped
8-10 curry leaves

Now add to this and fry for 5-7 minutes
2 medium chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp curry powder
½ tsp turmeric powder

Beat together
1 cup yogurt at room temperature
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt

Add this to the masala mix and let it cook simmering over a medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes till the whole mixture is well cooked, and almost dry. Initially cover the pan and after the time is done open the lid and dry off the masala stirring constantly over a higher heat.
Now add making sure the gravy comes to a boil eventually,
½ tsp saffron
lime juice of 1 lime
½ cup chopped coriander leaves
1/4 cup water

Once it is ready to assemble
Add to this and cook for just 7-10 minutes
½ kg/1 lb fish fillets


In a pan of boiling water boil together
700 gms of rice
1 bayleaf
2 thin sticks of cinnamon
6 whole white cardamoms broken down
Optionally 1 tbsp black or white cumin seeds whole

Remove and strain all the water when the rice is just cooked not overly done.

Now assemble the fish gravy and top with rice.
Make holes and drizzle over a little saffron water to help bring a little colour to the white rice. Cover very tightly so no air escapes.
Either simmer on gentle heat for 15-25 minutes
 or optionally
In a preheated oven of 350F/180C degrees for 15-20 minutes.
This ensures the flavours steam through and the rice cooks evenly.

It is best to use a firm fish like Salmon or Surmai. Making squares keeps the fish from breaking apart.
When adding the yogurt temper the masala by adding a few tbsps of the mix into the yogurt before adding it all in. It is best to allow the mixture to cool down slightly to avoid any of the yogurt from curdling. 
Use full fat yogurt and not skimmed.

Serve this with a Raita or Masala Dal if you wish.Personally it is perfect on its own.

For more yummy recipes from the Parsi Cuisine click
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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Chicken Liver- Masala

Chicken Liver- Masala

Growing up I remember enjoying chicken liver freshly saute`d  or bar b-q'd on a warm evening ever so often. Generally served with toothpicks as an individual appetiser! 
Chicken Liver is a healthy nutritious protein that is full of Iron, Vitamin A and B's. Its is also a good source of minerals like Manganese, Copper and Zinc among others. However it is very high in cholesterol which is important to take note off.
Here is my version of those fond memories. 

Always use only fresh chicken livers and not frozen.  Wash well, remove all stringy fibers attached to liver.
Serve warm. Do not reheat.

In a  wok or large deep fry pan heat

1 tbsp canola oil
500 gms / 1 lb of fresh chicken liver
Three sprigs of curry leaves
2 whole green slit chillies
1 tsp of garlic minced
Season with salt
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chillie powder
1 fresh lemon

Saute on a high flame for about 5 minutes until it all browns and then lower the heat cover and cook for another 10-15 minutes till it is cooked through. Do not overcook. 
Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and serve.

It is best to cut one piece of liver to see if it is done rather than overcooking the lot. It should be pinkish yet no trace of blood to have cooked properly. The darker the colour the drier the liver will be.
Do not reheat.

Keep it marinated and ready for up to 24 hours covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature to cook evenly and keep the livers soft. If its chilled or cold the shock of adding this to the hot pan will leave them hard and chewy.

Reduce the red chillie powder if it is too spicy.

For more delicious recipes click
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Saturday, 15 November 2014

Walnut Crumble Cake

Walnut Crumble Cake

It is magical, its easy and its quite small!
This said, it is such a tasty moist cake and always enjoyed. There is no icing on it and really rather simple. But almost a comfort food. With a cappuccino or a cuppa it is rather hard not to finish off in an hour or two!

Soft, moist and delicious, Walnut Crumble Cake

Magical Walnut Crumble
Step 1
Line and grease a  8 inch round pan.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C degrees

Step 2
Grind  in a food processor and keep aside
1 cup walnuts
3 tbsp  bread crumbs
¼ tsp salt

Step 3
Beat till light and airy , do not dry them out
3 egg whites
slowly adding
1/4 cup sugar

Step 4
Over a pot of boiling water, 
Beat with an electric beater until it doubles in volume and is a beautiful pale yellow in colour
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Add to this 1 tbsp  Baileys Irish cream

Now with a metal spoon assemble the cake,
Add all the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mixture in 3 batches
Then add the egg whites, folding it carefully in two batches.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-22 minutes.

When it is done the cake will start to leave the sides of the pan.
Eat it warm, French Vanilla ice cream goes well with it if you like.
If you do not have Baileys, any creamy liquor like Kalhua, Tia Maria will be perfect.
Make sure the eggs are at room temperature otherwise they will not triple in volume nor whip like a meringue.
Always whip the egg whites first. The same beater whisk can then be used on the yolks. However used/dirty whisks do not beat egg whites!!
Only use a metal spoon to fold otherwise the volume will sink immediately.

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Niloufer's Kitchen : Winter