Saturday, December 10, 2011

Milky Vanilla cupcakes- easy eggless recipe

A friend of mine was faced with a dilemma. Her son was asked to get "cupcakes" for the cristmas party which they were having at their school. Not really into baking; she wondered what to do as they had to get home made stuff.

That's when I came into picture. She knew my relations with the oven were good :-) and asked me to make cupcakes for her son. Always looking for an excuse to bake something new, I jumped at the suggestions and soon was busy digging into all the recipes I've got and searching the internet for more.

As per her suggestion, I decided not to frost them as they might get spoiled on the way, but could not help myself from sprinkling some chocolate on it.


Here's the recipe. (Adapted/modified from divinetaste)
Makes 12 big muffins

You'll need:
1. 210 gm (1 1/2 cups) plain flour/maida/All purpose flour
2. 1 tsp baking powder
3. 1 tsp baking soda
4. 100 gm (3/4 cup) milk powder (full fat)
5. 100 gm (3/4 cup) fine sugar
6. 100 gm (1/2 cup) butter, melted
7. 250 ml milk (I've used low fat)
8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
9. Chocolate drops- to decorate (You can use chocolate chips also)
 
Method:
1) Line your muffin tray with cupcake or muffin liners. Or grease and dust them with flour if you don’t want to use the liners.
2) Preheat the oven to 180 C/350F.
3) In another large bowl, put in the flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix well with a fork.
4) Put in the milk powder and the sugar into the flour and mix well.
5) Stir in the melted butter, vanilla extract and the milk and mix gently with the whisk. Do not over mix.
6) With the help of a spoon fill the prepared moulds with the batter (till 3/4 of the cup) and sprinkle some chocolate drops on them.
7) Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean.


I tasted it as soon as it was done. It was warm, fluffy, moist and a delight to look at. Just the right amount of suger for me, but some people may want to reduce it to 1/2 cup if they are using suger procured in India (I find that sugar much sweeter than what we get here).

Now there is only one question - Will the kids like it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sandesh : Indian Cheese Fudge

Every now and then you feel like appeasing your sweet tooth and end up shuffling through your recipe books or searching the internet to make something new. I did the same and came accross this appealing recipe. This is a traditional Bengali sweet and a little less famous than its well known cousin, 'Rasgulla' (pronounced rass-gul-la or raso- gul- la).


Bengal is an eastern state of India with its own unique cuisine. The sweets made there have created their niche among the plethora of sweet dishes made all over India.

This is a recipe which I took from a very inspiring blog called Ecurry authored by Soma .

Ingredients
1. Full cream milk- 750 ml (3 cups)
2. Sugar- 1/4 cup
3. Juice from 1 lemon (you can also use vinegar to curdle the milk)
4. Saffron/ kesar- 1 pinch
5. Crushed cardamom/elaichi- a few pinches

Method
1. Bring the milk to a gentle boil by keeping it on medium heat.

2. Add lime juice in small amounts till the milk is coagulated or curdled.


3. The moment you see clear greenish colored water, turn off the heat.

4. Line a colander/sieve with a cheesecloth and transfer the contents to it. Spray it with cold water and to wash off the lemon flavour. This step has to be done thoroughly otherwise, the Sandesh will take up the lemon flavor which is unbecoming of the dish.

5. Now gather the cheesecloth and twist it into a knot. Let this drain for 45 -60 min.

6. After draining , take out the "chenna" and knead it with hand.

"Knead evenly for about 7-10 minutes. During the last 3 minutes, add the sugar & the crushed saffron. Knead the chenna/cheese along with the sugar. By this time the chenna/cheese should be very smooth & not grainy at all. To test if it is done & ready for the next step, take a portion of the chenna/cheese & roll it in a sphere between your palms. The sphere should be very smooth on the outside with no cracks."..Ecurry

7. Take a non-stick pan and spread the chenna on it. Cook it on low heat while continuously stirring it,so that it does not stick to the bottom. This step should remove the raw smell , but should not be prolonged in order to avoid crumbly texture, due to which it won't remain good to mould.

8. The cooking which change the shade of cheese a little. It should take about 12-15 minutes to cook it. When its done it'll no longer stick to the pan and will come together.

9. Quickly, remove it from heat and transfer it to a bowl.

10. Mould it into balls/other shapes in decorative moulds while it is still warm to touch. Once cooled, you wont be able to mould them, though it will still be edible.

11. Take a mould and press down some portion on it. Smoothen the edges with fingertips. Keep a bowl of water handy for this task. Wet your fingers for smoothening.

12. Once set, they hold their shape and can be garnished with nuts (pistachios and almonds) or saffron or coarsely grounded green cardamom.


This recipe sounds like a lot of work. Yeah, maybe a little..but its totally worth it. I'm sending this recipe to Tina's "CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE" which is a monthly event, encouraging the blog newbie's to spread their stories over yummy recipes borrowed from each other.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A birthday and Pineapple Cake


     We celebrated the birthday of my mother in law this month. She is a perky and fun-loving person with a genuine smiling face. It is very easy to talk to her and she befriends you with her laughter charm. Given the special person she is, I wanted to make a cake really suited for her birthday.
    Pineapples are in abundance here and they are as sweet as it can get. We've been feasting on ripe pineapples almost every day during the duration of their (my mother and father in law) stay. So this cake came out to be the perfect choice for this joyous occasion.
    Pineapple layer cake
    Make a 9" round cake (ref: here and here)
    Note:
    If you are using fresh pineapples then soak the slices in thin sugar syrup. This will prevent pineapple from turning bitter. Otherwise used tinned ones.
    For the Sponge:
    Ingredients:
    250 gm (1 & 3/4 cups) plain flour
    2 tbsp vanilla custard powder
    4 tbsp icing sugar
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda/ sodium bicarbonate
    1 tin/400gm sweetened condensed milk
    100 gm (1/2 cup) butter
    175 ml (3/4 cup)  milk (can use water instead)
    2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
    Method:
  1. Grease and line the bottom of an  9 round cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, assemble the flour, custard powder or cornstarch, icing sugar,  baking powder and baking soda, mix with a spoon or a fork.
  3. Preheat the oven at about 150 degrees centigrade.
  4. Put in the condensed milk,  butter, vanilla extract and milk into the mixing bowl containing the dry ingredients. Beat with an electric hand mixer, whisk or spoon  until the mixture comes together and there are no lumps. It should not be overbeaten otherwise it'll cause the cake to be hard.
  5. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for an hour at 150 degree centigrade.
  6. The cake is done when a knife comes out clean when inserted in the centre of the cake.
  7. Cool the cake.
  8. Cream icing
    Ingredients
    Whipping cream- 500ml chilled
    Icing sugar- 4 tbsp
    To Prepare the Cream:
  9. Chill 2 Bowls in the Fridge. Chill the Beater/Whisk.
  10. Divide the Whipping Cream in 2 Bowls. Add 2 Tablespoons of Sugar to each bowl along with the Cream.
  11. Put one bowl back in the Fridge to Chill.
  12. Beat the Whipping Cream, & the Sugar in one bowl till the cream is thick,  fluffy & forms peaks.
  13. Repeat with the other bowl of cream.
  14. To assemble the cake
  15. Slice the sponge cake into 2 halves carefully
  16. Keep the bottom half in the serving plate and sprinkle with pineapple juice till its well soaked.
  17. Spread a layer of cream and top it with thin pineapple slices.
  18. Very carefully keep the top portion on the prepared one and soak it again with pineapple juice.
  19. Spread the cream over the cake to cover the sides and decorate with more pineapple slices.
  20. Chill for a few hours or overnight for the flavors to set in.
  21.  


Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Inspired Greek salad

There is nothing quite and filling as well as light than a salad. An amazing range of salads can be created with simple ingredients. So when I wanted something filling, yet not really a meal, I rounded up on Greek salad.

Since I did not have all the ingredients for the salad. I experimented around the original which I read here.
    Serves 2
    Ingredients
  1. Cucumbers (we call them chinese cucumbers here)-2 , cut into round thick slices
  2. Black olives- 9-10
  3. Tomatoes-2 , quartered ( halved cherry tomatoes are preferred)
  4. Green bell pepper/capsicum- chopped into squarish pieces. Take 1 (small sized)
  5. Olive oil for drizzling- about  1 tbsp
  6. Paneer - about 50 -70 gm, cut into really small cubes, or if its crumbly use your hands
  7. Oregano - 1/2 tsp
  8. Black pepper- 2-3 pinches
  9. Method
    Take a deep bowl and put all the ingredients in it and toss well for proper mixing.
    Serve cold or at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pasta with skillet roasted vegetables (and ketchup!)


When you are out of cheese and do not want to work up the oven, but still want to have roasted veggies with pasta, you have to innovate or modify your cooking method. That's exactly what I did. When I read this recipe; I knew I had to make it. And the perfect opportunity presented itself when both of us (me and my hubby) felt like having something light, yet filling.

Serves 2
Ingredients:
1 /2 medium sized broccoli, cut into florets
3/4 cups sweet corn
1 capsicum/ bell pepper (you can add red/yellow ones too. )
2 small tomatoes (quartered)
1 tsp salt or to taste
pepper, freshly ground, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

For vegetables:
Take a skillet. Heat olive oil in it.
Put all the vegetables and cook on medium to to low flame till they get charred. Stir in between to cook evenly.

For the pasta
Cook the pasta as per the direction on the packet

To assemble
Ingredients:
1&1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion(medium sized), sliced into half moons
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup ( this is what I added, but if you want more flavour then go ahead and pour according to your taste)- it gave a saucy zing to the recipe.

Method
In a wok, heat the oil over a medium flame. Put in the onions and fry till translucent . Toss in the pasta and roasted vegetables and mix well. Add the oregano and ketchup and toss well enough to coat the penne pasta properly.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Amiya chutney/ Raw mango chutney with Mint


Right now all the mango trees around us are loaded and we were tempted into getting 4-5 raw mangoes  straight from the tree during our morning walk. Loads of summer foods made with raw mango swirled into my mind like Launji, aam panna, kairi ka sharbat etc. but a chutney was inevitable. If you have kairi/raw mango, you need to make one. No option. 

Both my mother & father in law are food lovers. Its amazing how they can detect the slightest of taste difference in various foods. This chutney was a result of the enthusiastic initiative by my father in law and the prompt action of mother in law.

Ingredients
  1. Kaccha Aam/kairi (raw mango)- 1 medium sized, remove the seed/pit
  2. Garlic- 3-4 cloves
  3. Onion - 2 medium (approximately equal to raw mango after chopping)
  4. Pudina/mint leaves - washed, 1 cup
  5. Green chilies- 2, chopped
  6. Kala Namak (black salt)- 2 pinch
  7. Red chili powder- 1/3 tsp
  8. Salt- 1/4 tsp
  9. Dry mint powder- 1 tsp

Method
Take all the ingredients together  and blend it in the mixer/ food processor till they form a paste.
Enjoy on the side with main course of chapati (Indian flat bread).


Note: the addition of mint powder was prompted only because we ran out of fresh mint leaves. If you have enough mint leaves, then use them as it'll give a fresh tinge to it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Panchmel dal (mom's recipe)/ Five lentil mix


My mom is expert in vegetarian cooking and used to make a lot of varieties, which I appreciate more and more now. Sometimes a seemingly simple recipe is so delicious and requires so little effort that you are surprised by it. So when I asked my mom what to cook ( yeah, I keep poking for ideas), she told me this recipe.

Panchmel dal /five lentil mix

Ingredients
  1. Split green gram dal-1/4 cup
  2. Chana dal- 1/4 cup
  3. Washed yellow moong dal- 1/4 cup
  4. Washed urad dal- 1 tbsp
  5. Toor/arhar  dal -1/4 cup
  6. Ginger- 1" piece,grated
  7. Onion-1, medium, chopped
  8. Green chillies-1 chopped
  9. Salt to taste and turmeric powder-1/4 tsp

For tadka/tempering
    1. Garlic-2 cloves sliced thinly
    2. Heeng/asafoetida- 1 pinch
    3. Jeera/cumin seeds- 1 tsp 
    4. Ghee/ clarified butter- 1/2 Tbsp
Method
  1. Take all the dals in a container and wash them thoroughly.
  2. Put these together in a pressure cooker and add water.
  3. Add ginger, chopped onions, green chillies, salt & turmeric powder.
  4. Cook on high flame till 2 whistles and then on medium low flame for few minutes till its done.
  5. For tadka, heat ghee in a tadka pan.
  6. Add jeera and heeng. When the jeera sizzles , add sliced garlic.
  7. Sauté for a few minutes.
  8. Pour the tadka contents in the cooked dal and stir.
  9. Heat for a few seconds and serve hot with roti/ indian flatbread.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Karela fry/ fried bitter gourd

Karela or bitter gourd is not a vegetable which I relish much. The reason is obvious; it's bitter. 
When I learnt this recipe from my mother-in-law and was expected to make it, I was a little apprehensive....but I'm so glad I tried. This preparation is marvelous (even though it's common in north India) as it removes the bitterness and brings out the flavor of Karela beautifully. Though it requires some pre-prepration, its a must try especially for those who don’t like bitter gourd.  

    Ingredients
  1. Karela/ bitter gourd - 6, small
  2. Sarson oil/ Mustard oil (for frying)
  3. Onion- 1 medium
  4. Garlic-3
  5. Ginger-1" piece
  6. Green chillies- 2
  7. Salt for marinating + for cooking
  8. Red chilly powder- 1/2 tsp
  9. Coriander powder-3-4 tsp
  10. Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp
  11. A simple string 
  12. Method
  13. Wash the gourds thoroughly.
  14. Make a slit in the middle and remove the seeds.
  15. Fill in some salt and also rub salt on the outside thoroughly .
  16. Keep overnight.
  17. Make a coarse paste of onion, garlic, ginger & green-chillies.
  18. Add the spices- salt, Red chilly powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder as per your taste to the paste. (Quite a lot of people fry this paste but I chose not to)
  19. Wash the karelas thoroughly in order to remove all salt.
  20. Fill them with thespice  paste and tie  with a string in order to close the opening firmly
  21. Heat oil for frying.
  22. Fry all the filled and tied karelas till they lose their green color and become brownish.
  23. Serve as dry veg with roti (indian flatbread).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Exotic ice-cream (2 ingredients)


Its so delightfully easy, unbelievably quick and amazingly tasty that I was congratulating myself when it was done. It seemed quicker than my quickie ice cream !! And what could be more exotic than a ripe Avocado ? It certainly is not a very common fruit in India ; though abundant in Lagos. It’s a fruit which has loads of fat (the good type)and a buttery texture. I guess that's good when you want to make ice-creams.


My hubby dug into this one before i could take a decent pic..just one more reason for trying it out...;)

You need
Ripe Avocado- 1; peeled and pitted
Sweetened condensed milk- 160 gm 

Method
  1. Slice the avocado in few pieces.
  2. Keep it in the refrigerator for a few hours.
  3. Blend the avocado pieces and the condensed milk in a food processor.
  4. Serve immediately or keep in the freezer for later use.

Enjoy!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shakkarkand ki kheer -Vrat special (Sweet Potato 'n' Milk pudding)

Indians have a lot of festivals and prayer ceremonies throughout the year. Fasting or vrat or upwaas are an intricate part of it. Special sweet and savory items are made on that day. This pudding is a common dish prepared on the day of fasting. Though mostly made on religious days, it easily serves as a normal dessert at lunch or dinner.


Ingredients 

1. Sweet Potato/ Shakkarkand- 3 medium sized
2. Milk (low fat)- 350 ml + more (to thin it to liking)
3. Sugar- 3 spoons or as per taste
4. Cardamom (elaichi)- powdered, 1/2 tsp
5. Saffron (Kesar)-1-2 strands
6. Almonds-3-4 & Pistachios-4-5
(All dry fruits are optional, you can also add raisins and/or cashews in the pudding)


Method

1. Pre-heat the oven at 210°C.

2. Keep the sweet potatoes in the oven for 20-25 min. keep turning every 10 min. Alternately, you can just boil them in the pressure cooker, but it'll differ a little in flavor. 

3. When its done, remove from oven and keep outside to cool a bit.

4. Remove skin and cut into small pieces.

5. Heat milk in a pan and add the roasted sweet potato in it.

6. Stir and let it cook at medium heat.

7. Mash the potato pieces with the back of the spoon.

8. Add  the saffron strands.

9. Cook for about 10-12 min.

10. Pound the almonds and pistachios coarsely.

11. Add elaichi/cardamom and mix.

12. Add milk if the pudding becomes too thick for your liking.

13. Garnish with coarse mix of almonds and pistachios and serve hot.




Note: You can chill it in the refrigerator and serve cold also. It'll be equally delightful; especially in summers.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dal baati choorma (Rajasthani special)

Today I bring to you the special preparation of Rajasthan (dharti dhoraan ree or Land of the sand dunes). This large state in the west of the Indian subcontinent has a unique cuisine of its own. Its capital happens to be my hometown and thus this dish of dal- bati brings back the memories of the scant rainy season or the cool season of September to mid October (just preceding the teeth chattering winters) when it was best enjoyed. It also brings warmth and joyous laughter back with the whole family seated together enjoying the hearty meal.



Rajasthani's do not skimp on their favorite ghee/clarified butter especially while serving to guests. I've tried using less, but there is really no limit to how much you can add on the top of a bati or dal.

DAL BAATI & CHOORMA (CHURMA)

For Dal
Ingredients:
Urad dal-100 gm
Moong dhuli dal-50 gm
Chana dal- 50 gm
Ghee (clarified butter) - 2 tbsp
Heeng (asafoetida)- 1-2 pinch
Jeera (cumin seeds)- 1 tsp
Haldi (turmeric powder) - 1/2 tsp
Lal mirch (Red chilli powder)- 1/2 tsp
Garam masaala- 1/2 tsp
Dhaniya powder (coriander seeds powder)- 1 & 1/2 tsp
Tomatoes- 3
Green chili-2, chopped
Ginger- 1" piece

Method
1. Wash thoroughly and soak all the dals together for 1-2 hours. You can soak it for longer also.
2. Grind tomatoes, green chillies and ginger togehter
3. Take dal in a pressure cooker, add salt, haldi and twice the water. Put on high flame to cook.
4.After 1-2 whistles, lower the heat and continue to cook till done.
5.The cooked dal should not be total mush, it should hold some shape and should be easily pressed by fingertips.
6.Heat ghee in a khadhai/wok, add cumin seeds and heeng. When they sizzle then add dhaniya powder and pour the tomato mixture in it. Add lal mirch and cook until the ghee is left on the sides. Now add garam masaala and stir.
7. Pour the boiled dal on this mixture. Stir and check the salt. Add more if required.
8. Serve hot with batis

For Bati

Ingredients
Wheat flour- 400 gm
Semolina/rava/suji- 100 gm
Melted Ghee (clarified butter) - 100 gm
Jeera (cumin seeds)- 1 tsp
Ajwain (carom seeds)-1 tsp
Baking powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method
1. Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2. Add a little lukewarm water and make hard dough (like that of poori). Don't make it very hard.
3. Cover and keep for 1/2 hour.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degree centigrade.
5. Make round medium sized dough balls.Keep them on a baking tray.
6. Place tray on the medium rack for 25-30 min. Turn baati every 5-7 min.
7. Take out from the oven and pour some more melted ghee (optional) before serving.

The traditional choorma recipe calls for more ingredients like almonds, raisins, pistachios etc. and more ghee too. It involves both roasting and frying the dough. I however have restrained from making it too 'fatty'. Fortunately, I got a result similar to the original (I thank my mom for the improvisation tip). Also, since I did not have Gur/ jaggary or Bhura/ a variety of ground sugar, I used brown sugar I had.

For Choorma

Ingredients:
Wheat flour- 400 gm
Semolina/rava/suji- 100 gm
Melted Ghee (clarified butter) - 200 gm
Elaichi (cardamom)- ground, 1 tsp
Brown Sugar - 400 gm (one can adjust for taste)

Method

1. Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2. Add a little lukewarm water and make soft dough.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degree centigrade.
4. Make medium sized flattened dough balls.Keep them on a baking tray.
5. Place tray on the medium rack for 25 min. Turn flat pieces every 5-7 min.
6. When they are roasted well. They should not be too dry.
7. Let then cool a bit, till you are able to handle them with your hands.
8. Break them into small pieces, alternatively grind in a food processor till powdered.
9. Add Sugar & ground elaichi and mix well.
10. Sieve though a mesh for same granule size and better texture.
11. Serve on side with dal bati.

Note: I make the dough for both bati and choorma and keep them in seperate baking trays in the oven, since I bake them at the same temperature.

Sometimes we like to mash batis in the dal, top it up with ghee and relish it by eating with hands (yeah, no spoons!) and it is fingerlicking tasty..:)

Enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fruit chutney- sweet & spicy

I was looking for something fun to cook (meaning- little effort and great taste) when I stumbled upon this one in my archive. This one is for the keeps, trust me. The lovely blend of berry's tartness, date's sweetness and chili's spiciness with the hint of ginger makes you go yumm…..


Since I did not have all the ingredients of the original recipe,so I modified it a little, but essentials are the same.

Ingredients:
1. 1 large Tomato, Chopped
2. 2 Cups of Chopped Strawberry (Fresh or Frozen)
3. 1 katori(200 ml) Pitted Dates- chopped
4. 1 Red Apple chopped into small pieces
5. 1 teaspoon of Mustard Seeds
6. 1 Red Dry Chilli
7. 1″  Cinnamon Sticks
8. 1 Hot Green Chilli Pepper, chopped
9. 1″ Ginger Peeled & grated
10. 1 Cup Sugar
11. 1 Tablespoon Vinegar
12. 1 Cup Orange Juice

Preparation:

1. Heat a pot.
2. Add the mustard seeds, Red Dry Chilli & the Cinnamon sticks.
3. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add all the other ingredients and simmer at low heat, till the Fruits are soft & mushy & the consistency gets thick enough to coat a spoon. I just kept it on fire and got busy in preparing dinner with occasional checking in between. It took about 40 minutes to be done.
4. Pour the Chutney mixture into sterilized jar whilst still hot. Cover with an airtight, plastic lid. A metal lid will be corroded due to action of spices and vinegar, so it is not advisable to use it.
5. Keep it in the refrigerator after the jar cools down to room temperature

Serving suggestions

You can make a sandwich, or serve it with rolls, croissant, buns etc.
I enjoyed it with the Indian chapatti too! as an accompaniment , since I'm not much of a pickle eater.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Veg stew with coconut milk/ Nariyal doodh ki curry

This stew is just right for the time you don’t really want to eat much, but you still want to have a tasteful meal. It balances the heavy and light both, in taste and fulfillment of the appetite. One of the best thing is that you can improvise easily, choose your favorite veggies and cook them in the stew.


VEG STEW WITH COCONUT MILK
(modified from this recipe)
Ingredients
1. 3 small carrots- peeled and diced
2. 1/2 bell pepper /capsicum/shimla mirch(large one)
3. 1 medium potato-peeled and diced
4. Cottage cheese (Paneer)50gm - diced or cubed (original recipe uses tofu)
5. Squash/pumpkin- 1/4 cup
6. Olive oil (to drizzle)
7. Butter -2 tsp (about 10 gm)
8. Ginger - minced 1" piece
9. Onion- diced , 1 medium sized
10. Dry red chili- 1
11. Bay leaf-1
12. Turmeric (haldi)-1/2 tsp
13. Red chili powder (lal mirch)- 1/2 tsp
14. Salt to taste
15. Coconut milk-1/4 cup
16. Low fat milk-2 tbsp
17. Fresh Curry leaves - 5-6
18. 1 tablespoons Chana Dal (Split brown Chickpeas without the seedcoat)
19. 1/2 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds (rai)
20. Salt
21. Fresh Black Pepper (optional)
22. water if required


Method

a) In a baking tray place the carrots, potatoes, pumpkin & the capsicum. Drizzle with some oil (Preferably Olive Oil) & roast them at 375⁰F /190⁰C for about 15 -20 minutes. They needn't be wholly cooked as they will be cooked further on the stovetop. Roasting imparts a different flavor.

b) Heat a soup pot/wok/kadhai. Add the cinnamon, cardamom & clove & dry roast at medium heat till aromatic.

c) Add 1 teaspoon of butter, and add the Hot Green Chillies, Bayleaf, Ginger & Onion & stir fry till the onions are translucent.

d) Add all the roasted veggies and stir at medium heat for about 5- 7 minutes.

e) Add salt, black Pepper, turmeric powder, tomatoes, milk, water and paneer.

f) Cover & cook for sometime till the potatoes & carrots are tender and done. Uncover and add the Coconut Milk. Simmer for 5-6 minutes more & switch off the heat.

g) For a thicker stew, mash a few potatoes in the stew with the back of the spoon.

To Temper

Heat 1 Tablespoon of Butter/Oil. Add the Chana dal/Split chickpeas & stir till they are light brown. Add the mustard seeds.
Switch off the heat when they splutter & Immediately add the curry leaves.
Pour this over right away on the cooked stew. Gently stir it in. Cover and keep it for a 15-30 seconds.


Enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Home-made Chocolate granola

I've never been the one to eat much packaged cereals. For me breakfast has been mostly a typical Indian fare of paranthas, pohas, suji upma, vegetable daliya etc. That was until I discovered how easy was it to have variations with the daily cereal. I also came accross this recipe on 'delicious days'(blog by Nicole Stich), which made my cereal bowl even tastier!


Ingredients
Modified slightly from the original recipe
1. Chocolate - 50 gm (I've used 70% cocoa)
2. Brown sugar- 1/2 cup
3. Water - 1/2 cup
4. Oats (Quaker)- 1 & 1/2 cup
5. Extra virgin Olive oil- 30 ml
6. Honey- 60 ml
7. Desiccated coconut- 1 tbsp
8. Almonds- 1 Oz, about 10 in number
9. Coco powder- 1 tbsp
10. Cinnamon- 1/4 tsp
11. Pinch of salt


Method
1) Preheat the oven at 180 degrees centigrade for 10 min.
2) Put water and brown sugar in a pan and bring it to boil , till sugar dissolves.
3) Remove from heat, let it cool for a few minutes.
4) Add oil, honey and lastly chopped chocolate and stir until blended well.
5) In a medium sized bowl put oats, almonds, coconut, coco powder, cinnamon and salt.
6) Pour the chocolate syrup on the oats and mix well.


7) Spread this mixture as chunks evenly on the baking sheet.
8) Adjust the temperature to 165 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes.
9) Check frequently and stir in between.
10) After baking, let it cool completely before storing as it'll develop its crunchiness during cooling.


Serving suggestions
Add a little to your breakfast cereal or yogurt to make it sweet and chocolatey
Can be used as a topping for ice-creams, smoothies etc.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Strawberry fro-yo (frozen yoghurt)

Recently saw frozen strawberries at the supermarket and was happy to buy my fill. Fresh strawberries are a rarity here. Even if they are available, you'll not buy them because of their quality.

Back to the recipe. This is another quick one when you have little time at your hands, but need to have a sweet something ready till dinner time.

STRAWBERRY FRO-YO

Ingredients
Strawberries- 1/2 cup, chopped
Full fat Yogurt- 4 tbsp
Vanilla extract-1 tsp
Sugar- 1/3 cup (adjust according to the tartness of the berries)

Method
Throw everything into a blender and mix well
Keep for freezing in a metal or a plastic container


Suggestions
Add whipped cream to make it more ice- creamy.
Serve with fresh strawberries and a mint sprig.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Quickie ice-cream

This heavenly ice cream is a real dream. Easy to make and absolutely delicious. The only reason I could not put up a pic is because it disappeared too soon!!

Makes 2 small portions or one big one.

Ingredients:
Sweetened Condensed milk - 75 gm
Whipping cream- 80 ml approx
Muffin/cake- I had put half of 'Banana nut muffin', but you can put in any amount desired

Method
Add the cake to the condensed milk and mix thoroughly.
Whip the cream and fold in with the cake mix.
Keep in a metal container and freeze.

Serving suggestions
Take a bowl and place a pineapple slice on it.
Scoop the ice cream and place on it.
Decorate with cherries /strawberries/small pieces of pineapple or any other fruit of choice.

Enjoy the treat!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Golden Yellow custard cake

A few months back I met a lovely person. Even though she is a little elder to me, I absolutely did not feel out of place with her. The casual and welcoming attitude, the helping nature, a positive outlook to everything and an understanding of mindset…What could I ask more in a friend?


So when her cute little daughter told me that her mom's birthday is coming soon, I started thinking of ideas to show my appreciation towards her. There is nothing better than making a cake for a birthday. Chocolate cake has become too common (no brainer!) and so I surfed my favorite sites for that perfect cake.


Anushruti of divinetaste,has some amazing eggless cake recipes. This is one of her b'day cakes.

I'm happy that my friend liked the cake so much, that she asked for the recipe.

This is for you Dee, Happy Birthday!!

GOLDEN YELLOW CAKE (adapted from the recipe here)

Ingredients

1. All purpose Flour (maida) - 2 cups
2. Granulated Sugar- 1 & 1/4 cups
3. Vanilla custard powder-1/2 cup
4. Milk-1 cup+ 1 Tbsp (if required)
5. Baking powder-2tsp
6. Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
7. Vanilla extract- 1tsp
8. Butter- 100gm (1/2 cup)


Method

1. Prepare a round cake pan by greasing and then dusting it lightly with flour.

2. Tap to remove excess flour from the pan.

3. Heat milk in a pan. Stir in the sugar and after it melts completely, set it aside to cool at room temperature.

4. After the milk reaches room temperature, pour it into a large mixing bowl, add custard powder and vanilla extract and mix well with a whisk. Put in the butter and mix again.

5. Heat the oven to 160⁰C or 325⁰F.

6. In a bowl, sieve the flour , baking powder, baking soda together for proper mixing. Alternatively you can put them together and mix well with a fork.

7. Add this flour mixture to the custard mixture and mix well so that no lumps remain. You can use a hand blender also. Add the flour mixture periodically. It'll make it easy to mix in the batter.

8. Put the prepared batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 55-60 min. or till a skewer comes out clean. I usually use toothpicks to check.


Perfect to bring smile on the face of your loved ones.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Banana & Honey Ice cream

Anybody who knows me well, knows that I'm an ice-cream fan. The only problem being that, I need to count calories and I try to avoid food with added colors. That’s one of the reasons why I'm on the lookout for healthy recipes for my sweet cravings.
This is one of the experients which took a tasty turn. Ideal for a yummy treat!

Ingredients
1. 2-3 ripe bananas-mashed
2. Evaporated milk- 157 gm (for 1 tin)
3. Honey -1-2 tbsp
4. Vanilla extract-1/2 tsp

Method
1) Take the bananas and mix them with evaporated milk.
2) Add vanilla extract.
3) Add the honey to this mix. You can taste the mixture before freezing and adjust for sweetness by adding more honey.
4) Pour into a metal or a air-tight container and keep for freezing.

Serving suggestions
You can top it with fresh fruits. I used strawberries and pineapple which gave a very fresh feel to it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Household North Indian curry

Ok, I should probably not claim this to be "the" north Indian curry. But it is more or less what I've been learning in the kitchens of north Indian households. A lot of variations are available to this basic curry mixture. Mostly new spices are added to enhance the flavors.

Ingredients
1. Onions- 1 medium
2. Tomatoes- 2 medium sized
3. Garlic- 2-3 cloves
4. Green chilies-1-2 (depending on desired hotness)
5. Ginger (Adrak)-half inch piece
6. Oil or Ghee(clarified butter)-1 tbsp
7. Salt to taste
8. Turmeric powder (haldi)-1/4 tsp
9. Red chilly powder (lal mirch)-1/2 tsp
10. Coriander seeds powder (Dhaniya powder)-1 & 1/2 tsp
11. Garam masala (a spice mix, popular in North India)-1 tsp

Method
1. Blend the onions and garlic together.
2. Blend tomatoes, green chilies and ginger. Keep aside.
3. Heat oil. Add the onion-garlic paste. Cook at high flame till the paste leaves the oil on the sides.
4. Add tomato paste and cook on medium flame. Add all the spices.
5. You may add a little water here if the paste is too thick to stir. Cook till small bubbles come to the surface and the mixture leaves oil on the sides.
6. The curry is ready.

Uses
Add your choice of precooked or semi-cooked vegetables here. I use it for boiled potatoes and peas to make aloo matar or mushroom with peas to make mushroon matar.
In a similar manner I make matar paneer (Peas with cottage cheese),though in the later stage of cooking, I add a little cream to sweeten it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lauki with chana dal (gravy preparation of split bengal gram and bottle gourd)

Lately the days have been dragging by, so I needed some good ol' recipe to cheer me up. Thankfully, my husband reminded me of this one and I made it the very day. I was happy that it came out well in spite of the fact that I mostly made it from memory.

Serves 3-4 people
Ingredients
1. Chana dal (split bengal gram)- 1 katori (200ml approx volume)
2. Bottle gourd (Lauki/dudhi) - 2 cups, chopped in medium sized pieces.
3. Oil-1 tbsp
4. Onion- 1 medium sized, blended or chopped finely
5. Tomato- 1 big, chopped finely
6. Garlic- 2 cloves + ginger (1" piece)- made into a paste
7. Green chilly-1 chopped finely or ground with ginger & garlic paste
8. Dalchini (cinnamon)- 1 cm stick
9. Lavang (clove)- 1

Spices
10. Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
11. Salt- 1 tsp/ as per taste
12. Coriander powder (dhaniya)- 2tsp
13. Garam masala- 1tsp
14. Red chilli powder- 1/4 tsp

Method
a. Keep chana dal soaked overnight or in warm water for 3 hrs. In tropics even room temperature water is ok for soaking.
b. Take a pressure cooker and heat oil in it.
c. Add cinnamon and clove in it. Add onions, ginger-garlic paste & green chilly and fry on medium high flame till it leaves oil on the sides.
d. Now add tomatoes, all the masalas (spices) and mix well. Lower the flame a little and cook till tomatoes are mushy. Add some water, if required here (I added some 2 tbsp of water).
e. Now add the soaked and drained chana dal and mix well with the gravy made. Add about 1 cup of water and close the cooker. Adjust the flame to high.
f. After 3 whistles, lower the flame to medium. After one more whistle, switch off the gas and let it cool.
g. If you are the impatient kind like me, you can just release the pressure of the cooker and open it.
(Note: the number of whistles may vary according to the amount of water and the time for which the dal was soaked. Basically the dal has to be cooked but still hold its shape)
h. Add Lauki to the dal and close the cooker again. Keep it on fire till 1-2 whistles come. No need to add more water as the vegetable will release its own.
i. Switch off the flame and let it cool before opening.

Serve it with chapati (Indian flatbread) and rice.
Note: Please check the Lauki(bottlegourd) before using it for the recipe. Bitter ones will spoil the preparation completely.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Exploring foods

Lagos has a rainy weather for about 4 months. More or less like the Mumbai rains (apart from the thunder, of course). This season is usually marked with copious consumption of steaming hot pakodas & bhajias(fried savoury snacks) accompanied with a hot and sweet cup of chai (Indian tea).

Recently, I asked my maid what special food do they have in the rainy seasons here. It surprisingly matched with what we eat in the monsoons- "Bhutta" (corn cob, usually roasted). It was accompanied by a unique food 'pee-ar-se', which sounds like pierce (I don’t know if its right but this is how my maid pronounced it).


Its color is fascinating and the skin is shiny and beautiful. It is simply cooked by keeping it for some time in boiled water (not on flame). It is eaten with the skin on and had a buttery feel to it (yes, I tasted it). Its amount is small with the stone inside making about 90% of the fruit.


Its apparently a common Nigerian food in the rainy weather. Unfortunately, I've not had the chance to explore the local farmer's market, but its on my to-do list. . :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kaddu ki sukhi sabzi (dry Pumpkin vegetable)

Life is full of learning opportunities. This is especially true where the culinary skills are concerned. Most of us have learned a lot from our mothers, but our mother in-laws have also been good teachers.
They introduce us to a very varied style of cooking. Foods which you barely ate are made in a such a way that they become a staple in your diet. One of the dishes which I have learnt from my mother in-law is a simple but fulfilling kaddu (pumpkin)vegetable.


Ingredients
1. Oil- 1Tbsp
2. Pumpkin diced- small
3. Methi dana (fenugreek seeds)- 1/4 tsp
4. Heeng (asafoetida)- a pinch
5. Haldi (turmeric powder)- 1/4 tsp
6. Salt to taste
7. Tomatoes- 1 medium sized
8. Onions- chopped, 3/4 cup
9. Green chillies- 1, chopped
10. Ginger - grated, 1 tsp
11. Sugar- 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp depending upon the hotness of chilli used
12. Red chilly powder- 1/4 tsp


Method
1. Heat oil.
2. Add methi dana, heeng and haldi in that order.
3. After 1 min or when methi dana starts to brown add onions, diced pumpkin, tomatoes, green chillies and ginger.
4. Cover and cook on a medium flame.
5. Add a little red chilly powder when it starts cooking.
6. When its almost done. Add half- one tsp of sugar and stir it.
7. It is done when pumpkin is fork tender and not totally mushed up.
8. Serve hot with chapati (Indian flatbread).

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No fat stuffed capsicum (Bharwan Shimla mirch)

I learnt this recipe from my mom long back. The only difference being that she used to fry it in the end while i decided to steam it. Its easy to make, tasty and can be made in a relatively short time.



Ingredients
1. Capsicum -2
2. Potatoes- 3 medium sized
3. Onions- chopped finely, 1/2 cup
4. Green chilies- 1, finely chopped
5. Salt to taste
6. Pepper-1/4 tsp
7. Red chilly powder-1/4 tsp
8. Amchoor (mango powder)- 1/4 tsp (optional)

Method
1. Boil the potatoes.
2. Peel the potatoes and mash them. Mix all the spices, onion and green chilly.
3. Hollow out the capsicum by removing its stem portion and all the seeds inside.
4. Fill the potato mix inside the capsicum. Push till its full to it's capacity.
5. Place a grid in the pressure cooker, fill upto 2 cm water.
6. Place the stuffed capsicum on the grid and close the cooker. Keep on high flame.
7. Remove from flame after one whistle. Let it cool.
8. Open the pressure cooker and serve hot.


Variation tips
1. Pour tomato ketchup over it for a tangy flavour.
2. For a curried version, prepare the curry separately and pour it on the stuffed capsicum while serving.
3. Filling can be made by using cooked long grained rice instead of boiled potatoes.
4. If you have less potatoes, then use paneer along with it. Small chopped tomatoes can also be included.
5. You can top it up with grated cheese and reheat till the cheese melts, or just sprinkle cottage cheese (crumbled or grated) on it before serving hot.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Banana Pancakes with Saffron cream


With the rainy season on full bloom, I often feel like whipping up something warm and cozy to eat. These pancakes come along as a perfect Sunday brunch recipe for such a weather.


(Makes 6 medium sized pancakes)
Modified from this recipe by Soma of ecurry
Ingredients
1. 1 & 1/4 cup of all purpose flour/maida/ white flour
2. 1.5 tsp baking powder
3. 5 tsp sugar
4. Pinch of salt
5. 1 egg
6. 1.5 cups of milk
7. 30gm melted butter
8. 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
9. 3 large bananas mashed or cut into very small pieces
10. Butter to cook pancakes

Equipments
Thick bottomed Skillet
A whisk
Deep bowl




Method
1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Alternately you can mix it thoroughly with a fork or even a spoon. The idea is to mix it so that, all ingredients are evenly distributed in the mixture.
2. In a separate deep bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract.
3. Now add the dry ingredients, stirring till smooth. You can also add 1/4 of the flour mixture alternating with stirring till all the flour mix is incorporated in the batter.
4. Add mashed bananas and blend with hand blender or plainly mixing it well.
5. Heat the skillet and put butter on it. Pour the batter with the help of a large spoon/ladle.
6. Keep it on medium flame, cover it for few minutes. Uncover and flip to cook the other side.
7. Serve with a delightful saffron cream.


Saffron cream (modified from ecurry)
This cream served as a perfect accompaniment for the pancakes.


Ingredients
1. Chilled cream( I used Nestlé)- 4 tsp
2. Pinch of saffron
3. 1 spoon warm milk for saffron infusion
4. 1 spoon of milk
5. Sugar to taste

Method
1. In the warm milk, put the pinch of saffron. Keep aside for 30 min.
2. Combine the sugar infused milk with cream.
3. Add sugar and 1 spoon milk. Mix well
4. Keep it in the fridge till all your pancakes are ready. Better if you can keep it overnight (tasted good to me both ways).




Happy weekend!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Vegetable pulao/pilaf

This recipe is not only easy to make but is also a treat for the taste buds. It can be served on the sides or as main dish with yogurt and/or pickle. A number of variants are present in every household in India.


Serves 2

Ingredients
1. Rice (Basmati)- 1 cup
2. Carrots- 1/2 cup chopped
3. Beans - chopped about 1 tbsp
4. Peas- 1/2 cup
5. Potatoes- 1 medium, chopped into small cubes
6. Clove-1 crushed
7. Black cardamom- 1 ,crushed
8. Green cardamom- 2-3. crushed
9. Cinnamon- 1/4 tsp
10. Jeera (cumin seeds)- 1/2 tsp
11. Coriander powder- 2 tsp
12. Red chilli powder- 1/2 tsp or to taste
13. Salt- 1/3 tsp or as per taste
14. Ghee- 1 & 1/2 tbsp
15. A dash of lime

( You can use any number of vegetables. I usually use what ever I have left with in the fridge in small amounts. Avoid pungent vegetables like onions, broccoli or cauliflower here, as they have a strong taste of their own. Savor the flavor of fragrant spices.)

Cooking equipments you will need:
• Pressure cooker
• Chopping board
• Knife
• Ladle/ long steel spoon

Method
1. Wash and drain the rice thoroughly. Then steep the rice in water for 10-15 min.
2. Wash and prepare the vegetables on the chopping board.
3. Take the pressure cooker. Heat ghee in it.
4. Add clove, green & black cardamom and cinnamon.
5. When they start to sizzle add cumin seeds. These will probably splatter immediately too.
6. Now add red chilli powder and add vegetables right after it.
7. Add coriander powder and toss the vegetables in the spice mixture.
8. Cook at high flame for 2-3 min.
9. Now add the rice and water(about 2 cups).
10. Close the lid and keep it on high flame till one whistle.
11. Switch off the gas and let the cooker cool down.
12. Serve hot.

The rice should not be mushy, avoid keep on the flame for a longer period as it will lead to overcooking of the rice.

Happy eating!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Choco strawberry cake- B'day special

Yesterday was my birthday. It was the first birthday after my marriage. So to make it special I decided to bake a homemade cake (hey! that rhymes). Thanks to Anushruti of divinetaste, my eggless cakes come out very nicely. This recipe is adapted from her recipe.

Ingredients
1. 160 gm strawberries
2. 2 cups maida/ white flour/all purpose flour
3. 1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar
4. 1 Tbsp coco powder (i used Cadbury's)
5. 1tsp cinnamon powder
6. 2 tsp baking powder
7. 1 tsp baking soda
8. 1/2 cup olive oil
9. 1/2 cup yogurt
10. 1 tsp vanilla essence/extract
11. 1 cup milk

Method
1. Sift the white flour, baking powder, baking soda and coco powder together
2. In another deep bowl mix brown sugar, yogurt, oil and milk.
3. Pour half of dry ingredients in the wet ingredients and blend with a hand blender, Combine the rest of the half and again blend it. Alternatively keep sprinkling dry ingredients and mixing it with a long spoon.
4. Now stir in the vanilla extract, the chopped strawberries & the cinnamon powder.
5. Pre heat the oven at 150 degrees centigrade.
6. Pour the cake mix in previously prepared(greased and floured) pan.
7. Keep the pan in the oven and keep for about 50 min. or till a skewer comes out clean.

I also used her chocolate butter frosting recipe to decorate the cake.

Ingredients
1. 1/3 cup cocoa powder
2. 1/3 cup butter, softened
3. 2 cups icing sugar
4. 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
5. 1 to 2 tbsp hot water


Method
With the help of a hand mixer or a wire whisk, mix the cocoa and butter. Stir in the powdered sugar, vanilla and hot water. Beat until you get a smooth frosting which can be spread easily.

My frosting was a bit runny, I might have accidently put more water. I used up only half of the running chocolatey liquid. So, if you dont want to store anything, I suggest halving all the measures for the frosting.

Just to give a more berry-like touch, I decided to put in raspberry jam.
When the cake was cooled then I cut it into half and smeared the jam inside. After placing the top portion and pouring the frosting, the rough edges got covered. Not to mention that it tasted totally delicious!!

Tasty tip- Chill the cake after frosting and enjoy after a few hours.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Leek & broccoli soup

I was on the soup making spree. Most of my soups were already known recipes..you see that I do a lot of blog reading. This was one of the my own experimental soups which turned out to be decently edible..:P

Ingredients
1. Leek- chopped 2 katori
2. Spring onions- chopped, 3/4 cup
3. Garlic cloves- 2 big, chopped
4. Olive oil - 1 tbsp
5. Parmesan cheese- grated, 1 tbsp
6. Potatoes- 1 katori
7. Broccoli - 6 big florets, separated and cut into small pieces
8. Salt to taste
9. Black pepper- 1 tsp
10. Cream - 50 gm
11. Water or vegetable stock


Method
1. Heat oil in a tick bottomed pan/wok.
2. Sauté garlic and leek in it. Add potatoes and cook for a few minutes. The flame should be medium high.
3. Add broccoli and water or vegetable stock. Add salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper
4. Cover and cook till broccoli is tender and potatoes are cooked.
5. Remove from flame. Blend it.
6. Pour the blended ingredients into a pot and keep it on the gas stove at a medium- low flame.
7. Add cream and half of the spring onions.
8. Add cheese and stir till its mixed well.
9. Cover and cook for a few minutes. Add 1/2tsp black pepper.
10. Garnish with the rest of the spring onions and serve hot or warm.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dal daliya with vegetables

As I've mentioned before , daliya (wheat bulgur) can be made in many varieties. This one is comforting, not to mention that it is an ideal vegetarian protein combination of both cereal & lentils . Here is one of the variety which is based on my father in law's recipe.


Ingredients
(Serves 2 in a meal)
1. Split green gram dal- 1/2 katori , washed thoroughly
2. Daliya- 1 & 1/4 katori
3. Tomatoes - 1 katori chopped
4. Carrots - 1 cup
5. Marrow- 1 small, peeled and chopped
6. Ghee- 2 tsp + 1tsp used while garnishing
7. Water for cooking (about 3 katoris/cups)
8. Salt- 1 tsp or as per taste
9. Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp

Method
1. Heat ghee in a pressure cooker. Roast daliya in it, till it cooks well.
2. Add water, all the vegetables and dal in it.
3. Add all the spices and close the cooker.
4.Cook for 10 min at high flame, at least 2 whistles should come.
5. Reduce the flame to low and cook for another 5-6 min. At least one whistle should come.
6. Cook for longer if required. Switch off the gas, let the cooker cool.
7. Serve hot with curd and onions.