Monday, December 22, 2008

Yule Log





Disaster, was what happened the first few time I baked a Swiss Roll cake. ...the cake started to crack while rolling. The roll remained "elusive" for quite a while. Till one day I read a tip in some magazine that fixed the rolling problem once and for all.

The trick is to peel off the baking paper then, roll it with the aid of a kitchen towel dusted with caster sugar. Let cool completely, unroll, spread the filling and roll again.

This method has never failed me. Now, the rolls crack no more!!

Yule logs make a very impressive and nice looking, light treat and the cake above is what I had sent with my daughter for her Christmas Party at school last year.

Here's what you'll need for a Christmas Log cake:

Ingredients:

for swiss roll

5 eggs
100 gms sugar
100 gms cake flour
25 gms cocoa
4 tbsps oil

for the filling:

200 gms strawberry (or any other) jam
for the ganache:

75 gms milk chocolate
4 tbsp cream


Method:


Beat sugar and eggs till the mixture becomes pale and creamy and triples in volume. Stop beating when the mixture falls in ribbons when the beaters are lifted off the vessel.

Sift together the flour and the cocoa and fold in lightly. I do this in 3 additions. Then, add the oil, one tbsp at a time and fold in. Pour in a swiss roll pan (greased and lined) and bake at 200 deg C in a pre-heated oven for about 8 - 10 mins.

Roll as described above.



While the cake cools, prepare the ganache by heating the cream till it almost reaches boiling point (Don't let it boil though) and pour over the chocolate. Mix well and let it cool. As it cools, the ganache will thicken.

For this cake, the filling was a simple strawberry jam slathered generously. Really generously. After all, the cake was for 3 years olds!!

Ice with buttercream. I would reckon you would need about half the recipe. I used plain buttercream and then topped the cake with a milk chocolate ganache. Use a fork to give it a bark look.


The ganache, for whatever reason, went horribly wrong (the recipe is OK, my guess is that I made a mistake in measuring out the cream)...it was more runny than I would have liked it to be. But by this time, I was way too lazy to add some more chocolate to fix the runny ganache and plodded on with the one I had. Fortunately, I ended up with a nice looking log!!



I am rushing this off to the 50th edition of Sugar High Friday at Baking History, an event started by Jennifer. This also goes to JZ for Santa's Holiday Challenge.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Masala Arbi



I wonder if this happens to you guys as well...sometimes, I find myself sticking to a particular recipe (for no reason at all) .... it is almost like being on a default mode in the kitchen!! For example, I am normally very partial to this recipe of making arbi and though I know few others, it's been ages since I used them.

So when Raaga made Masala Arbi Fries, I knew what I was going to make the next time I bought arbi.

Thanks Raaga, for reminding me about this recipe.

Ingredients:

Arbi 250 gms
Potato 2 nos
1 tbsp ajwain
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
4 tbsp tomato chilli sauce (I use Maggi Chilli Sauce)
1.5 tbsp oil

Method:

1. Pressure cook the arbi and the potato until they are just cooked (don't overcook, usually I cook mine for 2 whistles). Also use a little dried tamarind or 1/2 a lemon when cooking arbi, this takes away the itchiness it can sometimes cause.
2. Peel and cut arbi and potatoes into cubes.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and shallow fry till they are properly browned. Drain on a kitchen towel.
4. In the same pan, heat the remaining oil. Add the ajwain and let it splutter. Add the dry masalas and stir. Use a couple of tsps of water if the masalas seem to burn. Next, add the sauce and stir so that the sauce and the masalas are properly mixed.
5. Add the fried arbi and the potato and toss till they are evenly coated.

Warning: Make these just before serving. Do not taste, just serve them.....I serve this as a side dish with roti and dal, though by the time they make it to the table - well, didn't I say do not taste!!!

This goes to Think Spice...think carom as well.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Lights Cookie Tree









For all my love for baking, I hadn't tried my hand at making cookies ever. And I guess I never would have, but for my daughter's lovely paediatrician who gifted me Wilton's Christmas Tree cookie cutters. That was just the nudge I needed to start making cookies!!

The holiday lights cookie tree is made from gingerbread cookies. I used the Wilton recipe that came with the cookie cutters. You can find the recipe here. The only change I made was to use butter instead of shortening. However, I did need a bit more of flour than what the recipe indicated, I wonder whether this was because of the change I made. Also, I didn't need quite as long to bake the cookies, I baked them till they browned along the edges and firm in the centres. These cookies expand on baking so make sure you keep enough space between cookies on the baking sheet, else the cookies will stick to eack other (been there, done that!!).

I am not really a big fan of gingerbread cookies, but I really loved these. Soft and chewy, the cookies have very subtle flavours and the spices are not overpowering - in fact, the aroma of the cookies as they bake is heady! But the best part of baking these cookies was watching my daughter have a blast using the cookie cutters!!


For making the cookie tree, I used 20 cookies (2 of each size). However, instead of icing the cookies individually, I stacked them up together and then piped leaves in green buttercream. I melted white chocolate and drizzled it over the cookies for the snow.

And well yes, I am sending this off to:

Cookie Baking Event hosted by Sharmi
Cookies/Biscuits Fest hosted by Saroja
Santa's Holiday Challenge hosted by JZ


Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Stocking Cake






Baking is an absolute passion for me. The husband, Terradaze, is convinced I suffer from withdrawl symptoms if I let a week go by without baking.

So when there was a Christmas party for kids in our condo last week, there was no question about what I was going to take.


Here's how I made this cake....


Chocolate butter cake (The recipe below is for a 8" round pan, for this particular stocking cake, I used a 10" pan and therefore, adjusted the quantities accordingly)

Ingredients:

150 gms unsalted butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 and 3/4 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence, or 1 tsp coffee powder dissolved in the milk

Method:

1. Sift the flour and the cocoa together. Sprinkle the salt and mix.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs, one by one, beating after each addition.
4. Add the sifted flour and cocoa powder alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Also add the vanilla essence.
5. Bake 45 mins in a preheated oven at 180 deg C , or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
(The baking time is as indicated in the recipe, my oven takes just 30 mins to bake this cake).

Buttercream:

Ingredients:

227 gm unsalted butter
454 gm icing sugar
25 ml water/milk
1.5 tsp vanilla essence

Method:

Beat the butter in a bowl until light and fluffly. Add sifted icing sugar and beat for a further 4 -5 mins. Add the water/milk and the essence and beat for another 2 mins.

for chocolate icing, add 1/3 cup sifted cocoa powder.
for coffee icing, mix a tbsp of coffee powder in the water/milk.



Making the Christmas Stocking cake:

I made two batches of the buttercream. Dividing the cake into two, I used one batch of the (chocolate) buttercream to sandwich the 2 layers.
I then cut the cake into the shape of a stocking and iced it red. I also cut out a few squares from the remaining cake and covered those in fondant, to ressemble gift boxes.
Using white fondant, I cut out the top trim of the stocking and proceeded to arrange the gift boxes into and around the stocking.

Needless to say, it was a huge hit with the kids!!

This is my entry to Home Made Christmas Gifts
at My Kitchen Treasures , the Christmas Feast Event hosted by Purva and to Santa's Holiday Challenge hosted by JZ

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dal Tadka




Dal chawal, being (almost) a staple in Indian households, there obviously would be so many ways of making dal tadka/ dal fry and therefore utterly presumptuous for me to proclaim that the following recipe is the "best" way of making dal tadka.


For years, I struggled with getting this rather simple dish "just right". It was never quite "restaurant - like." However, after a lot of adding a lit bit of this, and a little less of that, I have finally come up with a recipe for dal tadka that is just right for us.

Try it and tell me what you think about it!!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup toor dal and 1/4 cup masoor dal

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chillies
1 large clove garlic, chopped finely
1" piece ginger, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1.5 tsp coriander, chopped

1.5 tsp Kitchen King masala
1/2 tsp chat masala
1/2 tsp amchur
1 tsp red chilli powder
salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp hing

1.5 tbsp oil/ghee for tempering

Method:


1. Pressure cook the dals with turmeric and hing until soft. Once cooked, mash and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a kadhai. Add the garlic and let it fry till the garlic starts to brown at the edges.
3. Now add the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds and let them splutter. Next, put in the dried red chillies.
4. Now add the onion and the ginger and saute till the onion turns pink.
5. Add the mashed dals with some water and give it a good stir.
6. Next, add the tomato and all the remaining dry masalas and let the dal boil till the tomato is thoroughly cooked.
7. Lower the heat, add 1 tbsp of the coriander and let the dal simmer for about 30 mins (yes that long...the key to a delicious dal is the length of time you let the dal simmer). Stir occasionally and keep adding water to get a consistency that you like.
8. Garnish with the remaining coriander and serve!!

* I do this if I am entertaining - Just before serving, heat 1 tsp ghee, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and let them splutter, then add 1 dried red chilli. Pour on top of the dal (don't stir - let your guests do that) and garnish with coriander. The aroma of ghee tadka...well, you know that aroma too, I am sure!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ajwaini grilled chicken



My most lingering memory of ajwain is the ajwain kadha that we were made to drink in childhood whenever we had any stomach problem. It is excellent in alleviating indigestion and flatulence, my mom would aver, over my loud words of protest at having to drink the revolting concoction.

Today, I agree whole-heartedly with her. And while I haven't subjected my 3 year old daughter to the kadha yet, whenever she has a cough and/or a cold, I roast ajwain over a pan and make her inhale the fumes. It helps.
Because of its flatulence - reducing effects, I use it regularly in cooking legumes, especially chhole. But, I did have my reservations tasting it when I first came across ajwaini chicken...ajwain with chicken!! But I loved it and have gone on to make this quite often.

Ingredients:

5 chicken drumsticks, skinless

for the marinade:

3 tbsp yoghurt
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp turmeric
1.5 tsp ginger - garlic paste
1.5 tsp vinegar/ lime juice
2 shallots finely chopped
1 tsp ajwain
salt to taste
for basting:

1/2 tsp ajwain
2 tbsp oil

Method:
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade. Make a few slits over the chicken and apply the marinade; let the chicken marinate in the fridge for about 5-6 hrs. Half an hour before cooking, remove from the fridge, allowing it to come to room temperature.

In the meantime, prepare the oil for basting: Roast the ajwain on a pan for a half a minute or till it starts to change colour. Add the oil and let the seeds fry for a minute (should you think that the ajwain is burning, switch off the gas). Let it sit for half an hour.

Pre-heat the oven on the grill setting to 180 deg C and cook the chicken for about 20 mins (turn it over atleast twice), or till the juices run clear, basting occasionally with the ajwain oil and the remaining marinade.
This is my entry to the Think Spice...think carom event hosted by Raaga.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Substituting kasoori methi for fresh methi

Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) is widely used in Indian cooking. Just add a pinch of lightly roasted and crumbled kasoori methi to vegetable and chicken/meat curries and taste the transformation!!

I use kasoori methi liberally in my cooking and as a result, always have plenty of it in my pantry.
Nowadays, I use kasoori methi in dishes that actually use fresh methi, like malai methi mutter or methi chicken (will post these as soon as I make them again).

Kasoori methi tends to be more bitter in taste than fresh methi and therefore taking off the bitterness is essential. All you need to do is soak the kasoori methi in water for about an hour. Keep changing the water every 15 minutes.

Then rinse the leaves, and boil them with a tsp (or two) of sugar. Drain, rinse again in water and voila...you have fresh methi equivalent.

Sai Bhaji



After making the berry pulao, there was a whole lot of dill lying in the fridge. There was no question about what to do with it - I decided to make Sai Bhaji, a quintessential Sindhi mixed vegetable. The dill imparts a lovely flavour this (almost) one pot meal.

Sai Bhaji was one of the first things I learnt to make.... I remember vividly sitting in front of the T.V. noting the recipe from an episode on Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana Khazana. Ironically, I hadn't made this one in almost 5 years!! Somehow, I think I simply forgot about this amazing mixed vegetable. Now that I have re-discovered the recipe, I sure am going to make this often.

Ingredients:

1 bunch spinach
1/2 bunch methi (fenugreek) leaves
1/2 bunch dill
(wash and chop all the three)

1/4 cup chana dal, soaked for 3-4 hrs
1 large onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1" piece ginger, minced
1 potato, cut into cubes (I didn't peel it)
dry masalas - red chilli powder, 1 tsp each cumin and coriander powder, 1 tsp amchur, 1/2 tsp chat masala, 1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil

for the tempering:

2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chillies
1.5 tbsp oil

Method:

1. Heat oil and saute onion and ginger in it till the onion turns pink.
2. Discard the water from the soaked chana dal and the potato and saute with the onion.
3. Add all the dry masalas and fry for a minute.
4. Add all the chopped greens, tomato and 1/2 a cup of water.
5. Pressure cook for 3 whistles.
6. Do the tempering once the pressure drops - Heat oil, add the garlic and let it turn golden. Then pop in the cumin seeds, let them crackle and the add the dried red chillies. Pour this over the cooked vegetable.
7. Simmer for about 10 -15 minutes.

(Notes : I didnt saute the onions, instead I simply pressure cooked everything together for a healthier version.
2. I didnt have fresh methi leaves and used 3 tbsps kasoori methi).



Saturday, November 29, 2008

Berry Pulao



Sometimes, I get this wild urge to eat something (no, no, this is not pregnancy - just the cravings of a total foodie). This time round, it was berry pulao. The thought of the soft fluffy rice, the succulent meat and the tart berries had been making my mouth water incessantly over the last few days and there was precious little I could do but continue drooling.

Because the only place I know of that serves berry pulao is Britannia restaurant in Ballard Estate in Mumbai.

Some restaurants go on to become landmarks in a city. Britannia restaurant , to me, is one such. While I was working in Mumbai, we used to go there regularly for long lunches on Friday afternoons, stuff ourselves thoroughly....and well, burp our way through the rest of the day. They serve many delicious Parsi dishes but their berry pulao (an Indianised version of the Iranian Zereshk Polow) is legendary.

I couldn't just sit and drool...I had to do something about it. And since no Mumbai trip is on the cards anytime soon, I decided to try making berry pulao at home.

The only hitch - the recipe is a closely guarded family secret and no amount of googling threw up any kind of result. I decided to improvise my own recipe.

The other hurdle - the key ingredient - the berries (dried barberries or - zereshk in persian) is not something I could find in Singapore, though believe me, I walked up and down the lanes and by-lanes of Arab Street and Little India in search of the berries. I substituted it with cranberries which look similar and have a lovely tart taste as well.

I used a mix and match of 3-4 different recipes and here's what I came up with...

Recipe for berry pulao:

1. Making the kebab:

Ingredients:

300 gms chicken mince

for the marinade:

1 onion finely chopped, juice drained off
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp rose water
1.5 tsp anardana powder
1 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 egg
1 tsp garam masala powder
salt to taste
saffron infused ghee (toast about 20 strands of saffron, crumble them, add a tbsp of water and a tsp of sugar and let it stand for about 15 mins. Then add 2 tbsp of melted ghee).

Method:

Mix all of the above together and let it marinate for atleast 6-8 hrs.
Shape into flat discs, or if you have skewers, shape as you would seekh kebabs. Drizzle some saffron infused ghee and grill till the chicken is cooked tender. ( I grilled mine in the microwave for 18 mins on the grill setting). Keep basting with the saffron ghee frequently - atleast 3 times.
Cut into bite sized pieces.

2. Making the chicken curry:

Ingredients:

3 chicken thighs

for the marinade:

1 onion sliced and shallow fried till golden brown
1 tsp each ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1.5 tsp saffron water (10-15 strands of saffron toasted, crumbled and seeped in 1.5 tbsp water and 1/2 tsp sugar)
1 tbsp ground almonds
1 tsp rose water
4 tbsps yoghurt

Method:

Marinate the chicken in the above marinade for 6-8 hrs.
In a vessel, heat 1 tbsp oil . Brown the chicken for about 5 mins on high flame, then add the remaining marinade and about 1/2 a cup of water and cover and cook on low flame till the chicken is tender. It is important to cook the chicken with as little water as possible, and as the oil used is very less, you will have to keep an eye out to prevent any burning.
De-bone into large chunks and set aside.

Making the pulao:

Ingredients:

1 cup rice, soaked in lukewarm salted water for about 4-5 hrs
3 tbsp dill, finely chopped (berry pulao doesn't use any dill, but I used it as I like the flavour it imparts)
3 tbsp cranberries
chicken kebab and chicken curry (cooked before)
2 tbsp onion, fried golden brown
1 tsp saffron water (same method as above)
2 tbsp oil
1.5 tbsp melted butter or ghee
2 tsp almond slivers, lightly roasted (optional, I skipped these)

Method:

Boil 2.5 cups of water with a tsp of salt. Drain and wash the soaked rice, add it to the boiling water and cook till it is just about done. Strain, rinse and drain the rice. Let it sit for about 5 mins.

Take about 5 tablespoons of the drained rice and mix some saffron water so that the rice turns a lovely yellow.

Bring 1/4 cup water and 2 to 3 tbs oil to boil in a large vessel. Spread 1/3 of the white rice and layer the chicken kebabs, the curry chicken chunks, half the dill, and some cranberries. Repeat the layers finishing with the reamaining white rice and all of the saffron rice. Top this with the fried onion, cranberries and almond slivers (if using).

Cover and steam for about 5 mins. Open the lid, poke some holes through the pulao and pour the melted butter. Cover and steam once again for about 15 mins on very low flame.

Open. Serve. Eat. Mmmmm......


This is my entry to the Rice Mela hosted by Cooking 4 all seasons.

(PS: I have actually written this post with a very heavy heart - here I am writing about a landmark restaurant in Mumbai when so many others have been subject to militant attack).

Update: I am also sending this to Original Recipes Round Up #6 hosted by Lore.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tikki Chhole



Chhole or chana masala, whatever you may call it (I call it chhole).... I have yet to come across any Indian who dislikes chhole, no matter which part of India they may come from.

I have used many different recipes to make chhole but they always failed to hit that "right spot", so to speak. Then, I came across this recipe - believe me, this by far is the easiest and the tastiest way to make chhole.

Of course, there are a few minor changes I have made to the recipe to suit our taste......



Ingredients:

(A)

1/2 cup chickpeas, or garbanzo beans soaked atleast 6-8 hrs (I soak mine for a good 10-12 hrs)
1 onion, grated
1 large tomato, grated
1 tsp each ginger and garlic paste
1 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
1 tsp chhole masala (I use Everest)
whole garam masala - 4 cloves, 1" stick cinnamon, 6 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf
salt to taste
1 tea bag

(B)

2 tsp jeera (cumin seeds), roasted and powdered
1 tsp anardana powder
1/2 tsp amchur powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp dhania (coriander seed) powder
1-2 tsp chhole masala
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp cream, optional
1 tsp chopped coriander leaves
1.5 tbsp oil

Method:

Pressure cook all the ingredients listed under (A) for 5-6 whistles or until the chickpeas are soft and tender. Discard the tea bag and the whole garam masala at this stage.

Heat oil in a wok. Add the jeera powder and the anardana powder and fry for a bit (the oil is used is very less, hence keep stirring constantly to prevent the masala powders from burning), then add dhania powder and red chilli powder.

Now add the cooked chickpeas, followed by the chhole masala, amchur powder, sugar and half the coriander leaves. Adjust the salt and spice as per your taste. (I do this only if I am entertaining - add in the cream at this stage).

Add a cup of water, cover the pan and let the chickpeas simmer (on very low fire) for about 20 mins...the longer you let them simmer, the better it tastes. Stir occasionally. Garnish with the remaining coriander and serve with puris or rice, or as I did, with alu tikkis.

(Psst...this recipe tastes best when served the following day).


For the tikkis:

3 Potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 small onion chopped
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp chaat masala ( I use Mother's Recipe)
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp jeera powder
1/2 tsp sugar
rock salt, to taste
1 tsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp oil for shallow frying

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together and shape into flat discs.

Heat a frying pan and add the oil just so it coats the pan and fry the tikkis till they are browned.

And now putting it all together:

chopped onion*
tamarind chutney
yoghurt
chopped coriander

Set the tikkis on a plate, spoon the chhole over them, followed by tamarind chutney, chopped onions and yoghurt. Garnish with coriander leaves. ENJOY!!

* when using raw onions, chop them about an hour in advance and sprinkle some salt over it. After about 15-20 mins, squeeze out and discard the juice that flows out and then rinse the onions. This effectively takes away the raw and pungent taste while keeping the crunch intact.


By the way, the photo sucks, doesn't it?!! Gotta improve my skills there.....


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Glazed Baby Carrots



This makes for a great looking and great tasting side-dish with meats, especially chicken roasts.

Ingredients:

100 gms baby carrots (or carrots sliced to 1.5 inch long pieces)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey or brown sugar
1.5 tbsp mustard, preferably, english mustard
Salt, to taste
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp mixed dried herbs, or chopped parsley*

Method:

Peel and steam the carrots till they are cooked but yet firm. Rinse under cold water.
Mix together brown sugar, mustard, chilli flakes, mixed herbs and salt into a paste, adding a tsp of water.
Heat a skillet - make sure it is really hot. Now, add the butter (and hear it sizzle), followed by the paste. Toss the steamed carrots into the skillet and cook for about 5 mins or until the sauce is bubbling and the carrots are well-coated.

This is my entry for JFI December - Carrots hosted by the cooker.

* I prefer parsley, but I didn't have any on hand this time so I used dried Italian seasoning.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tangy Arbi



Now..that picture looks like it has baby potatoes in it, doesn't it?
Well no. it's arbi, or colocassia.

That veggie which is hairy, itchy and funnily shaped (the way I described it as a child). I have gone from hating arbi to simply loving it now. And this particular recipe can convert alomost anyone into an arbi fan. Just try it....

Ingredients:

Arbi 250 gms
Tamarind* size of a small lemon, soaked in warm water
Jaggery* 2 tbsps
Green Chillies 3, slit
Ginger 1" , thinly sliced
Dried red chillies 2
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Urad dal 1/2 tsp
Hing a pinch
Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 7-8
Oil

Method:

That is a long list of ingredients!! But it gets really simple from here.

Pressure cook the arbi (for 2 whistles) with a little bit of tamarind. The tamarind takes away the itchiness from the arbi. Ensure that the arbi is not over-cooked, it should just yield to a knife. Peel the arbi and cut it to the size of baby potatoes.

Extract the juice from the tamarind and set aside. The juice need not be very thick.

Heat oil. Pop in the urad dal, mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chillies, red chillies and ginger, in that order. Now add the arbiand stir for a bit.

Then add the red chilli powder, hing and salt. Stir.

Now add the tamarind juice and the jaggery and simmer for about 15 mins.

Quite easy, huh? And very tasty, I assure you that!! Tastes best with rotis.


* You are looking for that perfect sweet, sour and spicy taste, and this combination, I have realised, varies from person to person. Moreover, the tanginess and the sweetness of tamarind and jaggery greatly vary across brands. So while the quantities I have indicated work well for me, you might need to vary the proportions of these 2 to suit your taste.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dhoklas




Living out of India means you don't always have a neighboorhood halwai shop that will sell steaming hot kachoris, samosas and dhoklas.
Which means that if you ever have the urge to eat some such things, you either reach out for instant mixes or take the effort and learn to make it from scratch.
The first time I made dhoklas, it all ended in a spectacular disaster. Besan, turmeric and baking soda don't sit well together, it seems and the resulting dhokla was a ugly orangy-red colour. Then, a chance conversation with a friend led me to this perfect, melt-in-your-mouth dhokla recipe.


Ingredients:
for the dhoklas

Besan 3/4 cup
Water 3/4 cup
Lemon juice 1.5 tsp
Eno 1 tsp
Oil 1 tbsp, warm
Hing a pinch
Ginger 1/2 tsp, grated
Sugar 1/2 tsp
salt to taste

for the tadka

Oil 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Green chillies 4
Water 2 tbsp
Sugar 2 tsp
Lemon juice 1.5 tsp

Grated coconut and coriander, for garnish

Method:
Whisk together the besan, water, ginger, oil, hing, sugar and salt, ensuring no lumps remain.
Put a cup and half of water in the pressure cooker and let it simmer.
Now, add eno to the besan mixture and watch it fizz!! Oil a 6 inch square cake tin and pour the mixture into it.
Steam in the pressure cooker for 10 min on high flame, followed by 2 mins on very low fire, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Don't let the cake pan come in direct contact with the water, set it atop an inverted wire mesh.
Take the dhokla out of the cooker and let cool for about 5 mins. Then cut into squares.
While the dhoklas are cooling, prepare the tadka.
Heat the oil and pop in the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add in the green chillies and fry them for a minute. Then add the water, sugar and lemon juice and let the tadka boil.
Pour it over the dhoklas while still in the pan and let the dhoklas soak up the flavours for about 15 mins.
Carefully, take them out of the pan and set on a plate. Garnish with coriander leaves and grated coconut.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Simple Bread Pudding




This bread pudding (not to be confused with bread and butter pudding) is a no sweat, simple dessert that you can whip up in a jiffy, with things that are sitting in your fridge! And the aroma that wafts through the house when the pudding is in the oven is to die for.

As kids, we would have bread without the crust, and I remember my mom making this with the leftover crusts. This is actually the first dish I ever learnt to cook, so it seems apt that my first ever recipe on the blog is this.

Ingredients:

5 slices of bread (if using crusts, then crusts from 20 slices)
500 ml milk (low fat will do, but full cream milk gives the best results)
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp raisins
pinch of salt


Method:
1. Warm the milk, add the sugar and stir to melt the sugar.
2. Line the bread in an oven - proof baking dish and pour the milk over it. Let soak for about 10 - 15 mins.
3. Using your hands, mash the bread till it dissolves completely in the milk. Add a bit of salt.
4. Lightly beat the eggs and add them in. Stir.
5. Add the vanilla essence and the raisins and stir to spread them out evenly.
6. Bake at 200 deg C for 35 mins in the oven or 30 mins on high in the microwave or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
(as it bakes, the pudding will rise quite a bit, but once out of the oven, it will shrink).


Eat immediately, but personally, I like to let it cool in the fridge for about 4-5 hrs before I dig in.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Not another cooking blog!!

With so many wonderful, droolicious cookery blogs out there, do we really need another one?!!


I have been sitting on the fence over this question and it is with a lot of trepidation that I am setting out blogging about my culinary experiences.

So, ready, steady....and, here we go!!

It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!

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