Spotted Dick!

Anand is a dear friend, super talented designer, voracious reader and a hedonist cook. Sometimes we have late night Facebook chats on mascarpone cheese, lady fingers and his crush on Ree Drummond. On one such late night chat Anand mentioned wanting to make Spotted Dick. My initial reaction was to giggle and call him a pervert. But he was serious and I was obviously unaware of the existence of this steamed pudding with dry fruits. It even has a Wikipedia page of its own. Very intriguing.
So after a fluster of facebook chats, messages, and Gchats between Anand, Lahar (my other designer friend who runs these fabulous tree walks) and me- we decided upon a fantastic Sunday lunch menu that Anand graciously decided to host and cook. Of course, Lahar and I were just very curious about spotted dick.

So armed with my camera and its lenses, a bottle of wine and bottle of whiskey, I headed over to Anand's bachelor pad. I'm sure you are curious about the lunch menu. Well it was fantastic sounding:
Pepper Chicken curry, Malabar Prawns curry, Chocolate Mousse with Sesame snaps and of course the star of the show Spotted Dick! Ooooooh! And yes Anand was cooking it all. Of course we volunteered to help but he seemed like he had it all down.

While blogging about this lunch I consciously thought of keeping all four recipes in one post - after all Anand did cook it all in one meal. However I will give links to the individual recipes.

Well due to the lack of burners there was an order in which the food had to be prepared so that we used the right no. of dishes (see I told you he was smart).
Note: All recipes are courtesy Anand.

So without wasting much time let me present to you the first recipe of the day.
In Anand's own words-
We started with the sesame snaps 

200gms sugar
100gms sesame seeds

1. In a skillet, caramelize the sugar till its a light golden brown (or if you like your caramel a little bitter, like I do, a dark golden brown) and stir in the sesame seeds.

2. Let this cook for a little over a minute and pour onto an oiled tray or large sheet of foil. 
 3. Use a knife to spread this thin (2/3mm ideally) over the surface. Once cooled, snap off pieces big enough to scoop with and stick into the mousse.

The sugar starts to harden very fast, so spread the sesame on the foil as quickly and thinly as possible. 
Anand and Lahar working fast with a spoon and a knife-

Silky soft and full of love Chocolate Mousse
Till I actually saw it being made I had no idea that the rich fluffiness of the chocolate mousse comes from beaten to death raw eggs. Harini of Tongue Ticklers told me that it is very possible to make a vegan version replacing the egg with silken tofu. I will ask her what the replacement for the double cream should be. Note: Double cream- not single or whipped. Apparently Lahar procured some double cream from a shop in Dadar- one of those little shops that sells everything. Chocolate, butter, double cream, honey, whiskey - you just can't go wrong. I closed my eyes and sighed- there goes my month's worth of workout out of the window. Oh but what can you do about foodlove!

The Ingredients

350ml fresh double cream (preferably unsweetened)
200gms dark cooking chocolate
70gms butter
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons whiskey/brandy/rum (as per preference of poison) 

1.Batter the chocolate into tiny pieces, by smashing it violently against the kitchen counter or on/against/with a very hard object. Put this into a double boiler with the butter (or any vessel in a bath of very hot water....not on the flame) to melt till smooth and liquid.
 2. Beat the fresh cream till to soft peaks consistency. When you pull your beater or whisk out of it, it should leave pointed peaks that retain their shape. Ideally the cream should double in size.
3. Pour the honey into another bowl with the eggs and beat till light. I prefer to whisk the whites separately and then add in the yolks, so I can get more air into the mix that way.

4. Fold the egg, alcohol and melted chocolate into the cream. Its important to fold and not stir, because you don't want to lose the air in the mix, or you won't have a very fluffy, light mousse.

5. Pour into pre-chilled glasses and refrigerate for at least an hour.  
P.S. Pre chilling the glasses helps to cool the mousse down faster.

Lets talk about the main course. Once the desert was made and set aside for refrigeration we started with the pepper chicken and Malabar prawns.
Pepper Chicken
For the marinade:
1½ teaspoons of ginger garlic paste
1½ teaspoons of freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons of coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Pinch of salt
2 chicken breasts cut a little smaller than bite size (or four thighs, as per preference)

For the curry:

2 tablespoons cooking oil (olive or sunflower)
1 large onion, finely diced
1-2 green chilies (as per spice threshold) cut into three pieces and slit along its length
100ml coconut milk
½ large lime/lemon

1. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade and put it aside for at least half an hour. (Anand the fantastic host had everything prepped before we came in - onions chopped, chicken marinaded, house cleaned, music playing etc. etc.)

2. Once the chicken has marinaded, heat the oil in a skillet or wok and sauté the onions till they are translucent, on the verge of turning golden brown.

3. Add the chicken with the marinade and cook till the chicken turns a light golden shade. Drizzle a little coconut milk on it (just enough to moisten the meat) and add water, enough to submerge all the chicken. Cover and let simmer for 25 minutes.

4. Once simmered, add the remaining coconut milk and stir for another 5-8 minutes. Squeeze in the lemon/lime juice, taking care to avoid dropping the pips into the curry. Stir and add salt to taste.

5. Garnish with chopped coriander, if you're into that sort of thing.

6. Peppercorns can also be added at the onion sautéing stage, but I prefer not to because I don't like hard peppery interruptions in the texture of my curry. 

 Followed by a quick and easy Malabar Prawn Curry (my absolute favourite)
100-200 gms fresh, deveined prawns
1 large onion
1 large tomato
1-2 green chillies (again, as per spice threshold) cut into three pieces and slit along its length
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1½ teaspoons of ginger garlic paste
100 ml coconut milk
2 tablespoons cooking oil (olive or sunflower)

2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon red chilli powder

1. Sauté the onions and chillies in oil, till tender and translucent. Add the masala powders and cook till the aroma of the spices fill the kitchen (taking care not to burn it).

2. Add the tomatoes and stir till cooked. Dissolve the tamarind paste in half a cup of boiling hot water and stir it into the onions and tomatoes. 
 Let it simmer till it thickens a bit. Add the coconut milk and stir. Let this simmer for ten minutes and add the prawns.

If you like the prawns tender, cook for 2½ minutes. If you want them well done, and not hard, cook for 3½ minutes.

Add salt to taste and serve.

(Curry leaves can also be added with the onions and chillies in the beginning, if inclined towards curry leaves)

Now for the star of the show. Tataratara Tada:
Presenting Spotted Dick

100gm flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100gm breadcrumbs
100gm butter (one Amul butter pack)
100gm white sugar
100gm apricot, dry
420gm raisins/sultanas
1 egg
½ nutmeg, powdered
2 tablespoons grated ginger
Orange zest from one orange
140ml milk
Pinch of salt

1. Chop the apricot very very fine.
2. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and breadcrumbs.
3. Add the ginger, orange zest, apricots, butter and nutmeg and stir to a smooth consistency. 
 (The house is smelling amazing by now. The orange zest and ginger).

4. Add the egg and milk and stir in. Add the raisins and mix till the sugar is completely dissolved.

5. Butter a mould and pour the mixture in, smoothing it down flat. Cover the top of the container with foil, and place in a pressure cooker or crock pot with enough water.

6. If using a pressure cooker, let it cook for 15 mintues without the whistle/weight on, and then for 30 minutes with.

7. If steaming, it'd take between 2-3 hours.

8. Make sure there's enough water to last this duration of cooking.

9. Upturn the mould on a plate and cut into pieces. Serve with fresh custard. (Though we did not eat it with custard).
The drinks- A spontaneous Sangria 
White wine, plums and oranges

The Star Performers- Pepper Chicken Curry, Malabar Prawn Curry, Chocolate Mousse with Sesame Snaps and Spotted Dick.
The Guests: Lahar, Sid, Sangeeta, Hemant, and me.
The Chef: Anand
Anand finally taking a break and sitting down to eat
Hemant and Anand cleaning the last bit of the prawn curry

Oh yes! The food was as tantalising as it looked. The curries were tangy and coconutty and spicy. The chicken and prawns was cooked to perfection (thanks to all the timing that Anand had us keep). With rice and the onions it was a perfect meal. However we had to keep room for dessert. After all we all wanted a piece of Spotted Dick.
 The chocolate mousse got darker after refrigeration. I did not want to think of all that butter and double cream. it was silken and smooth and dark chocolatey. (note: I am completely incapable of remembering to take a photo- after a couple of bites I remembered to take a picture).
 Lahar and Sid in the pictures above. Eating the mousse with the sesame snaps as spoons.
Every bite of the spotted dick was infused with orange zest and ginger. Two of my favourite flavours. The raisins were warm and oozed with sweetness. I personally enjoyed the spotted dick with the mousse but I can see how a vanilla custard can make a wonderful pairing. The photo does not do justice to the preparation but it was lovely and the house smelt amazing.
 Oh! And it is definitely spotted! For steaming in a pressure cooker- that thing sure turned out well.
 After this meal I was in a food coma but Sid was eagerly showing off his yoga skills. 
Sitting on his haunches on the window sill as Sangeeta slips into food bliss.
The lovely Lahar doing the dishes. (Note the spotted tights).
And finally a thank you to Anand for cooking up this intense meal. It was delicious - cant wait to try another experiment of yours- squid curry or tiramisu maybe!