Make Your Own Orange Liqueur At Home – Recipe

To make those perfect Margaritas you need very good quality Orange Liqueurs such as Cointreau. Unfortunately, a bottle of Cointreau costs around Rs.3000/- in India which is really atrocious. During our last outing with friends, we had some amazing stock of Tequila but no Cointreau ( and the outcome was cocktails with fruit juices alone that spoiled good grade Tequila)

That’s when I decided to make my own Orange liqueur at home. I found a lot of recipes for homemade orange liqueur or triple sec and after a couple of trials with them, this Indianised version was derived.

Orange Liqueur Recipe

Here’s how you make orange liqueur at home for less than Rs. 300/- for a bottle.

What you need?

  1. A glass jar with a tight lid (I got the one in picture for just Rs.70/- from SPAR)
  2. Two or three Navel Oranges
  3. Cloves – 2
  4. A quarter bottle of Vodka (Smirnoff) – 180ml
  5. A quarter bottle of Brandy (Mansion House works well) – 180ml
  6. Sugar – 1½ cups
  7. Water – 1¼ cup (300ml)

Preparation

Warning: The whole process takes very less effort but the wait is about 24 days. But I got to tell you that the stuff is worth the wait.

Day 1

navel oranges
Wash the oranges very well in lukewarm water (rub well while doing so) to de-wax them. If you are abroad you can use veggie wash. It is very important to wash oranges thoroughly since you are going to use the zest of oranges in this recipe. Wipe them thoroughly with a clean towel and let the remaining moisture dry off naturally for the next 20 or 30 minutes.

Orange zesting

Next, you have to remove the zest from the orange by using a vegetable peeler, zester or grater. I used a vegetable peeler though I had a zester. Basically, you need to take care of NOT including the white part of the peel which may make the liqueur very bitter at the end.

orange zest

Next throw the zest into the clean (and dry) glass jar and pour the vodka into it followed by the brandy. Close the jar tight and shake lightly so that the zest is all immersed well in the spirit.

(By the way, I used Romanov brand of cheap Vodka this time though Smirnoff is better. You don’t need to go for other expensive brands as the orange zest will anyhow change the spirit’s taste)

Orange zest in glass jar

orange zest in vodka

For the next three weeks you have to store it in a dark place taking it every other day and gently shaking to help the orange zest flavor mix in the spirit well.

Brandy, Vodka, Orange Zest

After 3 weeks (22nd day)

Add a couple of cloves into the jar and keep it back in the dark place for another day.

cloves

23rd day

Filter the jar content well and pour it into an empty spirit bottle (e.g. An empty brandy or whiskey full bottle but NOT washed). The best way to filter is to first filter it via a clean and dry strainer and further via a coffee filter paper. If you don’t get (i.e. Indian context), you may even use a couple of tea bags (with tea emptied) and placed in the strainer to filter the content very well without any remains of zest whatsoever.

sugar

Next, we have to make sugar syrup. In a clean pan pour water and add the sugar. Bring it to a boil while stirring occasionally. Let it boil for about 3-4 minutes and then allow it to cool naturally.

make sugar syrup

Using a funnel add this syrup into the spirit bottle, close the bottle and shake well.

Sugar syrup and orange zest extract in spirit mixed

Your Orange Liqueur is almost ready. You have to let it rest for a day before you can use it. This liqueur has a shelf life of at least three to four months and you don’t need to refrigerate it (As per many recipe sites. By the way, I am yet to verify the shelf life)

Our orange liqueur

The color of the liqueur will be golden orange provided you use clear sugar (brands such as Parry’s).

Day 24

Let’s party! This liqueur prepared at home is extremely good to mix the classic 3-2-1 Margarita. The alcohol strength will be around 25% and 600 ml liqueur prepared using this recipe should be good enough for mixing around 20 Margaritas. Not bad huh? I in fact, mixed a good one tonight with a cheap brand Tequila, still it was heavenly.

Cheers! And let me know how your experiment went. In fact, it is very very easy to make this orange liqueur at home though my explanation probably made it sound like rocket science. By the way, there are other easier recipes as well.

KFC Krushers based Cocktails

KFC India recently launched some refreshing and sparkling variants of KC Krushers (known as KFC Sparklers abroad) for the summer. I have been experimenting with KFC Krushers to make some cocktails and found two of their variants extremely good for making instant cocktails.

KFC Krushers Cocktails
KFC Krushers (Image Courtesy: Kfc.co.in)

The Kentucky Fried Chicken Krushers variants that are good for making cocktails are:

  • Vanilla Blue
  • Virgin Mojito

Both of them are available at Rs.49/- in India which means that you have the possibility to make some refreshing cocktails under Rs. 100/-

So what are the cocktails that you can mix with these summer drinks?

Blue Lagoon

Well, the original Blue Lagoon contains Curacao but our instant KFC Blue Lagoon can live without that.

Method of Preparation: Mix 60 to 75 ml of Smirnoff or fine Vodka with KFC Vanilla Blue sparklers and there you go!

Mojito

This is no brainer! Add 60 ml of Bacardi or any good white Rum to KFC Virgin Mojito Krushers. Stir well and top with some crushed ice. Your KFC Mojito Cocktail is ready.

Since the Virgin Mojito from KFC already contains enough fresh mint leaves and lime wedges, you don’t need to add anything else.

How’s that?

Try them and let me know your feedback. And don’t hesitate to come up with your KFC Krushers cocktail variants and share as comments here.

Enjoy the summer!

Ultimate Summer Drink – Watermelon Chilli Punch!

Well, I have been experimenting with watermelon based drinks – both alcoholic and mocktails – since the summer began. Here is an absolutely refreshing watermelon drink for you!

I am not sure if anything like this exists, but I just called it Watermelon Chilli Punch!

watermelon chilli punch

Ingredients (To serve Two)

Watermelon – 1/2

Lime – 2

Salt – 1/8th Teaspoon

Sugar – 3 Tablespoons (or as necessary)

Green chilli – 1/8th of a long chilli (Max 1/2 inch long)

Ice cubes – Two cups

Drinking water – 1/2 cup

Method of Preparation

In a blender add salt, sugar, lime juice from the two limes and green chilli. Cut half of a watermelon into cubes and add the same to the blender. Add water and Ice cubes and blend well for 10 to 15 seconds.

Pour into your favorite cocktail glass (typically highball) and enjoy!

As we all know, watermelons are excellent for hydrating your body in summer. What you probably don’t know about watermelon is the secret in its seeds. Watermelon seeds contain zinc and selenium which is said to be good to fight even cancer. And the seeds have powerful anti-oxidants to maintain a healthy heart. With a lot of lime juice added, our drink is enriched with Vitamin C and other essentials. Then the sugar provides much needed glucose and salt essential minerals in summer! Finally, to make it real Indian stuff, we have the chilli punch added!

Experiment with it or its variations and let me know how did you find it.

And never throw away the seeds. Blend them with your juice and to make things better, pick those watermelons with not so blackish and hard seeds.

Enjoy the Indian summer!

Chicken Grill in OTG – Indian Style Chicken Grilled

Grilling lip smacking chicken in the Oven (OTG) is not all that difficult. Here’s how I do the Indian style Chicken Grill in OTG using the rotisserie setting in the electric oven. For your records, I use a Bajaj Majesty 3400TMC OTG that I purchased for Rs. 5500/- some five years back and it still works like a charm.

Oven grilled chicken

Ingredients

Whole chicken (without skin, guts): 1 Kg
(Live chicken weighing 1.5Kg will get you 1Kg meat after cleaning)

Salt: 1.5 teaspoon

Crushed pepper: 1.5 teaspoon

Chili Powder: 1 tablespoon

Garam Masala: 1 teaspoon

Ginger-Garlic Paste: 1 teaspoon

Lime Juice: 2 tablespoon

Yoghurt (Curd): 2 tablespoon

Sunflower Oil: 1 tablespoon

Melt Butter: 3-4 tablespoon

Method of Preparation

Clean the chicken well and drain off any water. Using a sharp knife make a few parallel shallow cuts or grooves on the fleshy parts of the chicken (i.e. on thighs, leg, front rib etc).

Mix all ingredients except butter together and apply well on the chicken inside and outside. Keep it marinated in the fridge overnight. Yes, a minimum of 12 hours is needed for all that flavors to get in and the chicken become really tender.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Skew the chicken on to the rotisserie, tighten the clamps and grill it at 200 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Keep applying butter on the chicken every five minutes. You can see the butter as well as any remaining fat on the chicken getting melt and dripping down there by making this preparation a highly healthy chicken grill variation. Unlike Tandoori chicken or other barbeque recipes, there’s no harmful carbon content in this preparation.

Once done well, enjoy your Indian style grilled chicken with your favorite drink, salads and carbs.

(Note: At the end of 25 minutes, if it is still not done, you may want to keep for another five minutes at 200-225 degrees. To check if it’s done well, create a deep cut in the fleshiest part and verify that it’s not pink near the bones)

In Pictures

whole chicken without skin

spices for chicken grill marinade

marinated chicken

chicken grill in OTG oven

Oven grilled chicken

Try out this super delicious and tender grilled chicken yourself and let me know how your variant turned out to be.

Yogurt and Fruits Recipe

Okay, this one is so simple that anyone can make it under two minutes. This doesn’t even qualify to be a recipe 🙂 but it is an amazingly healthy and tasty food.

Ingredients
Nestle or Amul Yogurt (set dahi), refrigerated: one cup
Fresh fruits cut into small pieces: half cup
Sugar: 1 to 2 tablespoons or as per your taste

Preparation
Mix yogurt and sugar very well so that there are no lumps. Add fruits to it and mix well and it’s ready to go.

Suggested fruits are strawberries, ripe bananas, kiwi, seedless green grapes etc, though not all need to be used at a time.

This dish can be used as a dessert or anytime salad or filler.

The changing food culture in India and how MNCs are cashing in

I started taking Oats for breakfast recently. I mean, it is not a regular thing but say, a couple of times a week to begin with. My doctor keeps giving his sermons about the Oats benefits as a great fibre food that cleanses the system and as a great cholesterol lowering food. And I do agree with him to some extent.

The topic of interest though is not exactly the benefits of oats or healthy diet but how, of late, the food culture in India is changing to benefit the big multi-national brands. Having oats or cereals for breakfast may be a great healthy option but is it something light on your wallet as well? Why are these MNCs – Multi National Food Companies in India – charging us big time for those products that actually cost one tenth of their MRP (Maximum Retail Price) to produce?

Examples of MNC abuse

The following are some of the great examples of brand abuse by multi-national brands.

McDonald’s French Fries

mcdonalds-french-fries-indiaPotato is something that is available in abundance in India and McDonald’s didn’t invent it for sure nor is its usage patented by them. We have been cooking potato based curries for 100s of years now and never used it as a main dish. One small portion of French fries cost around 45 rupees ($1) in McDonald’s. The retail price of potato is around 12-15 rupees per kilo and in wholesale sourcing may be at 5-6 rupees. One big potato is all that goes into one small order of fries and hence 1 rupee worth raw material (plus say 1 or 2 rupees worth of oil) is translated to Rs. 45/-. How’s that?

The same is the story with Pepsi’s Lays chips.

Coke and Pepsi

The cost of producing one litre of Coca cola in India is around 1 rupee I hear. This comes at the expense of tapping the ground water while denying the same for lakhs of people who do not get water for daily usage (Remember the big citizen protest against coke in Kerala – Read wiki story on Coke) and spoiling the environment by not having proper waste water management. The coke is sold at around 40 rupees per liter. Pepsi and Coke managed to kill its Indian competition by acquiring them and discontinuing their products, some of which were actually superior to these MNC brands. The result, you pay more for something that is not at all good for health. And the worst thing is that they are not using the same formulation in India as compared to what they do abroad nor are they sticking to any health, cleanliness and safety standards. Have you seen any coke bottle in India without rusted and dirty caps?

Pizza Hut Pizzas

I have been a big fan of certain pizza brands such as Papa Jones during my stay abroad. Pizza Hut being a big brand, I became an instant fan of the same when they started their operations in India. Initially, I didn’t spend sufficient time to understand their pricing strategy but soon realized that a good quality family size Pizza Hut pizza costs around 450 to 500 rupees. We are talking about the Supreme pizzas as most other things comes without any good toppings. Maida (fine flour) is the main ingredient in a pizza and it is available at a very cheap price in India. Then they top the pizza with a lot of tomatoes and onions (with very little olives, chicken or jalapenos here and there). Ideally this produce should be made available for something like 100-200 rupees for a top class pizza and not 500 for sure. i.e. even with the most expensive items there in, for example 5-10 rupee worth cheese and other stuff. Does anybody question?

Olive oil, Oats, Kellogs flakes etc

The case is much the same with Oats, flakes and what not? The traditional Indian flakes (e.g rice flakes) are something that used to be eaten only by those who lived under the poverty line and in general grains are very cheap in India. 1Kg of Quaker oats cost 120 to 140 rupees in India. Is it fair? Similar is what Kellogs is doing with its umpteen number of flavored flakes.

Olive oil is probably the only exception here because it’s not something that can be easily produced in India and hence need to be imported. I somehow tend to believe that the pricing logic there in cannot be really questioned.

Final thoughts

What I wanted to highlight here are two points. One is the need to avoid those multi-national branded food items that are not healthy. Coke, Pepsi, French fries etc fall into this category. And the second point is that, those healthy but heavily priced items need to be abolished (or their priced brought down) if they have to sell in India. Though we are said to be freed from the British, now we are becoming the slaves of these multi-national brands – even for day to day food requirements.

Can’t we really think of a life without (high-priced) junk food in India? Do you want the next generation to spend all their money on groceries, loans and gas like the way Americans do?

Think about it…

PS:- By the way, yours truly eat and like some of the western food items but only if the pricing and quality are right for me. I also, admit the fact, that there are some brands which are available at extremely good prices (e.g. 1L Tropicana 100% orange juice is available at Rs.85/- which is a great deal). But the McDonalds, Pizza Huts, Coke and Pepsi are the ones against whom we should fight.

Peanut Masala Recipe

peanut-masala-recipePeanut Masala is more of a South Indian snack. Well, it is not exactly my favorite food but my vegetarian friends say that it is one of those few veg things that goes well with alcoholic drinks. And as a matter of fact, it does. It can also serve the purpose of an appetizer or starter at times.

I have prepared this dish only a couple of times but to be frank it is something that can be made in two minutes as there’s no cooking involved.

How to make Peanut Masala?

Here you go…

Ingredients

Roasted whole peanuts – 100 gms
Onion medium size – 1
Tomato medium size – 1 (Pulp and seed removed)
Coriander leaves – a few
Green chillies – 2
Lime juice – 1 teaspoon
Salt – as per taste

Preparation

Fine chop onion, tomato, green chillies and coriander leaves and add it to a deep bowl (or even tumbler) along with peanuts and lime juice. Add salt as per your needs and mix vigorously with a spoon or fork. Transfer into a plate and enjoy with something like the Chilli Vodka!

You can also try variations by adding or garnishing with fine chopped spring onions, sprinkling crushed black pepper etc.

Bonus tip: It tastes even better when prepared with those Masala peanuts (roasted with chilli powder and salted) that you get in the southern parts of India. If you use that, you may want to cut down on green chillies.

Bon Appetit!

Chilli Vodka Cocktail recipe

I am not a daily drinker. However, I like drinking as and when I feel like enjoying it – usually 4-5 times a month.

At times, I also like experimenting with new and new cocktail recipes. Well, I do not have a bar setup at my home and hence most of the time it’s done without proper bar equipments. This time around the experiment was with Vodka – though I am not quite a Vodka fan.

Chilli Vodka

Add a length-wise split green chilli – stem and most of the seeds removed – into 60ml vodka. Pour 75ml sprite or 7-up into it and stir well. Pour this into a salt-rimmed cocktail glass that’s half filled with crushed ice. Put a quarter of a sweet and sour lime into this. Fill the rest of the glass with some club soda or sparkling water. Enjoy!

Cheers!