Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Short Break

I am off on a short holiday, so see you all next week!

In the meantime, do keep sending in your entries for My Favourite Things: Frozen Desserts. Since I can only do the round - up on May 5th, you may send in your entries till May 4th. My apologies though that I will not be able to acknowledge your entries right away.

I will see you all next Tuesday with the round - up. Ciao!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Butter Cake

He had been around for many years but I first met him when I had just turned a teenager. At that time, he seemed to be the epitome of 'ideal' man, if there ever existed such a thing. He was, of course, the dream of many a girls and during our recess hour in school, there'd be groups of giggly girls oohing and aahing over what he'd done and said.

Over the course of the next 3 years, I kept meeting him over and over again, remaining ever so impressed by him each time I met him. Of course, like all crushes, this one too ran its course and somewhere down the road, he was finally forgotten.

Then, one day, as I was blog-hopping this post on Siri's blog caught my attention - the book club was planning to read Jane Austen this month. The chance to meet him - Fitzwilliam Darcy- again was too tempting and I soon found myself immersed in Pride and Prejudice.

This is one of my all time favourites - anyone who likes to read romantic novels should read it at least once. A simple love story made extraordinary by the way it is written, the very Victorian style of writing peppered by quick repartee and wit .

When a wealthy bachelor, Mr Bingley, moves to their neighbourhood, Mrs Bennet, mother to 5 daughters dreams of arranging a match between her beautiful eldest daughter Jane and him. The story however revolves around Elizabeth Bennet, the second of the 5 Bennet sisters, an intelligent and witty girl and Mr. Bingley's friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, a rich, handsome but reserved and rather snobbish.

The acquaintance of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth gets off to a bad start when he refuses to dance with her, citing her rather plain looks. However, as he gets to know her wit and intelligence, inspite of himself, he falls in love with her. Elizabeth, on the other hand, dislikes him more and more; her prejudice fuelled by untruths and misunderstandings rather than fact.

So how does love happen? Read the book to find out how they journey from dislike to love.

The one thing that I really love about this book is: here's a heroine of a novel set in the 18th century who has a mind of her own and is more importantly, is not afraid to speak her mind. Here is a heroine who is bashful, yet not sickeningly coy. Years ago, Mr. Darcy would make me smile, yet when I read this book after so many years, Elizabeth, inspite of your obvious flaws, I wanted to hug you!

Of course, this time around when I was reading the novel, I was also reading it from the food perspective....there were several teas and lunches and dinners that happened- however very few specific references to food - and those that were there didn't quite make me head off to the kitchen!
In the end, I decided to go with the tea theme - so here's some butter cake and masala chai for you guys :)



Butter Cake:

I collect butter cake recipes - I know 10 ways of making a butter cake: one is grossly unhealthy - talk about 8 yolks in a cake; one requires a lot of effort - make sugar syrup, beat egg whites; one uses only egg whites - leaving me wondering what to do with all the egg yolks.

This particular recipe, however, is the one I make most often. It is the easiest butter cake to make; soft, buttery and moist, it tastes and looks like you've really toiled to get such a perfect crumb! For anyone who has always wanted to bake and cake and yet never has, this butter cake is something that will not fail you.


Ingredients:

Unsalted Butter - 175 gms
Caster Sugar - 175 gms (if you plan to frost the cake, reduce sugar to 160 g)
Eggs - 3
All purpose flour - 150 gms
Cornflour - 30 gms
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Milk/Buttermilk - 90 ml
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp (omit if using salted butter)

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 175 deg C. Grease and line a loaf pan or an 8" round/square pan.

Sift together (3 times) flour, cornflour, caster sugar, baking powder and salt.

Cream the butter for 2 minutes, then add all the ingredients - all at once - to the mixing bowl. Beat until pale and creamy - about 10 -12 mins, scrapping the sides of the mixing bowl a couple of times.

Bake for 40 mins or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Ice it with simple buttercream, though personally, I much prefer to have butter cake without any frosting - perfect with a cup of masala chai!

Masala Chai:

Boil 1 1/2 teacups of water and add to it 1" ginger (crushed), 4 cardamom pods, 4 cloves, 1" cinnamon and 4 peppercorns. Bring to a boil, add tea leaves and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Simultaneously, boil 1/2 teacup of milk with some sugar. Add the milk to the tea, strain and serve.

Here's what the other members made:

Simran made Tropical Fruit Tart and Aparna came up with the very English Crumpets.

Next month, we are reading Five Quarters of Orange by Joanne Harris. Drop in a line to Simran if you would like to be part of the Book Club.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dried Roselle Iced Tea

While shopping for some prunes at Carrefour, my eyes fell on something that was called 'Dried Roselle'. They looked vaguely familiar and when I smelt them, the aroma took me straight back to my childhood and to my neighbour's verandah where these would be left to dry out in the summer sun - sweet and delightfully tangy, we would eat them by the fistful, regardless of the fact that we had no clue what they were!



A quick google search (oh what would I do without the search engines) revealed that these are actually a variety of hibiscus that is native to India and Malaysia - Hibiscus Sabdariffa or ambadi or gongura or red sorrel!

(Madhumati and Mangocheeks, you were absolutely spot on!)

What you see in the picture is actually the calyx that has been dried. The calyces, either fresh or dried, are used extensively in jams, marmalades, relishes, salads,juices and herbal tea. In fact, across many cultures and countries, roselle tea is believed to have anti-oxidant, diuretic and hypotensive properties.

Given the cooling effect it has on the body, in the sweltering Singapore heat, a tall glass of chilled roselle iced tea seemed just THE thing to have.




Dried Roselle Iced Tea:
Not much of a recipe here, but this is what I did:

Boil water and pour it over the dried roselle - for 3 glasses, I used about 16 nos of dried roselle.

Steep for a few minutes or until the water turns bright red. Strain and let it cool.

Then, add some fresh ginger juice, some lime juice, jal jeera (I used chaat masala), a pinch of rock salt and some sugar. Stir, strain once again and pour it over ice into (tall) glasses.

Garnish with some mint leaves and lemon slices.

Mmmmm.... at once tangy and sweet, this refreshing summer cooler was unlike any other drink we'd ever had. Seriously, should you find this anywhere, don't even bat an eyelid, just grab it! I am certain you will simply relish it.


This dried roselle iced tea goes to AnuSriram's Refreshing Drinks for Summer.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thai Olive Rice

Put a group of mothers together and chances are one of their favourite talking point would be their kids' eating habits. Or the lack of them. My little one is an extremely fussy eater and has nearly driven me to tears of frustration over her refusal to try different food groups.

I would fuss and fret till I learnt what most mothers are very adept at...the art of camoulflage. I no longer sweat over stuff she does not eat, I simply disguise it like I do in this thai olive fried rice.



Thai Olive Fried Rice:

Traditionally, this rice uses pork mince (find the original recipe here), however, I have substituted the mince with grated cauliflower and cabbage. Being grated, they leave no visible trace of their presence in the rice and my otherwise fussy eater eats this without any protest!!

Ingredients:

Grated Cauliflower - 3/4 cup
Grated Cabbage - 3/4 cup
Pitted black olives - 1/4 cup, cut into small bits
Garlic, finely minced - 2 tsp
Ginger, grated - 1/2 tsp
Dark soya sauce - 2 tsp
Vegetarian oyster sauce - 1 1/2 tsp
Vinegar - 1 tsp
Sambal olek or chilli flakes, optional - 1 tsp (or to taste)
Sugar - 1 tsp
Spring onion - for garnish, optional
Oil - 1 1/2 tbsp

Rice - 3/4 cup

Method:

Cook rice with a little bit of salt. Spread it on a plate to cool; mix in a bit of oil so that the grains don't stick to each other.

Heat oil in a pan - the oil has to be really hot! Fry the ginger and garlic till fragrant. Next add the grated cabbage and cauliflower and stir fry for a minute. Add the olives (reserve some for garnishing), followed by the sauces and stir fry for a further two minutes.

Next, toss in the rice and stir till the rice is evenly coated with the stir fried mince. Check for salt, the sauces have plenty of it, chances are you won't need to add any.

Garnish with the reserved olives and spring onion and serve hot with some cucumber slices.

Notes:
Cold rice does not work for this, room temperature is what is needed when making fried rice.
Heat is the key to this rice - work quickly on a very high flame for best results.



This goes out to:
AFAM: Olives guest hosted by Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes , event started by Maheshwari,
Vaishali's It's a Vegan World: Thai guest hosted by Priya of Akshayapaatram and
Cooking for Kids: Rice, event started by Sharmi guest hosted by Trupti.


As an aside, anyone wants to guess what the following picture is all about? All about it in my next post :)







Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rajma Masala

Palampur is a small hilly town located in Himachal Pradesh, India. The lush tea gardens, tall pine trees and the majestic Dhauladhar mountains make a picture perfect setting. We stayed in a lovely hotel; the tourist season had yet to begin and we were one of just two couples in the hotel. As a result, we were told that instead of the regular a la carte menu, meals would need to be ordered a few hours in advance.


It is not a place where we wanted to just put our feet up, look at the scenery and relax - the lure of the mountains was such. One day, we went off for a small trek in the mountains very early in the morning and it was only as we were coming down that it dawned upon us that we hadn't informed the hotel what we would have for lunch. Tired as we were, we resigned ourselves to walking to town to have some lunch.


Imagine our delight, therefore, when we returned to the hotel and realised that a delicious lunch of piping hot rajma chawal was waiting for us!



Though rajma has rarely been made in our respective homes, both Terradaze and I absolutely love rajma chawal. When it comes to comfort food, this is what we really crave. Here's how we love our rajma..hope you like it too!

Rajma Masala


Ingredients:


Rajma - 4 fistfuls, soaked 6-8 hours
Onion - 1, grated
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp each
Whole garam masala: Cinnamon - 1"stick; Star anise, Black cardamom - 1 each; Cloves - 6;
Bay leaf - 1

Tomatoes - 2, ground to a puree
Yogurt - 2 tbsps
Dry masalas: Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp, Rajma Masala - 1 1/2 tsp, Amchur powder - 1/2 tsp,
Coriander seed powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves, chopped - 1 tbsp



Method:


Pressure cook the rajma alongwith the grated onions, ginger garlic paste, some salt and the whole garam masala till soft and properly cooked. It normally takes me about 6 whistles on low fire. Once cooked, discard the whole garam masala. Also, mash a tbsp of the cooked rajma, this will make the gravy thick.


Heat oil in a wok and add the tomato puree. Cook till the puree turns completely dry and oil separates. Next, mix all the dry masalas with the yogurt and add it to the tomato puree; stir till the masala turns bright red and oil separates.


Strain and add the cooked rajma (reserve the water) and stir for about 5 minutes. Add the reserved water and another 1/2 cup of plain water and bring to a fierce boil on high flame. Then turn the flame down and simmer till it reaches your desired consistency. Add the coriander leaves, sugar (adjust the seasoning and the masalas as per your taste, if needed) and simmer for about 10 mins on very low flame.


Turn off the heat and let the curry stand for about 15 - 20 mins before serving with steaming hot rice.


This is off to WYF: Side Dish hosted by Easy Crafts.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Strawberry Swirl Frozen Yogurt

Don't children say the most adorable things sometimes?

Most days, when I click pictures for the blog, my daughter will (touchwood) leave me alone. Like everyone else, I think she is bemused at the entire process of taking food pictures - bending at varying angles, moving the food from one room to the other, transferring it to numerous bowls - you all know the drill better than me, I am sure. But very often, a food photo session turns into a photo session with her!

I took these pictures on Sunday afternoon and for once, she would scarcely let me take the pictures. She wanted to take the pictures herself, or strike some pose for the camera, and though she does not care too much for "pink" ice cream, she still wanted to dig in!

Inspite of the air conditioner running at full blast, the frozen yogurt was fast melting. And so, I pleaded with her to bear with me. "Mama is not getting a good picture", I explained.

"Say cheese, pink ice cream. Say cheeeeese!" she quipped in response.



Strawberry Swirl Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients:

Low Fat Yogurt - 2 lts
Low Fat Sour Cream - 250 ml
Low Fat Fresh Cream - 100 ml
Strawberry puree - 2 1/2 cups
Sugar - 3/4 cup (more or less, depending on the tartness of the berries)
Juice of half a lime
Salt - a pinch
Gelatin - 1 1/2 tsp
Water - 3 tbsp

Method:

Strain the whey from the yogurt by hanging it in a muslin cloth. At the end of 6 hours (when I ran out of patience), I had 720 gms of strained yogurt.

Puree the strawberries (unfortunately, I didnt measure the berries in gms). Strain the puree, if desired - I didn't. Add the lime juice and sugar to the puree, cook to a simmer and then cool for about an hour.

Beat the hung yogurt, sour cream and fresh cream together till you get soft peaks.

Mix the water and gelatin together and let it stand for about 5 minutes; then, melt the gelatin by stirring it over a bowl of hot water. Cool it to room temperature.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the strawberry sauce and add the rest to the yogurt. Slowly, stir in the gelatin, add a pinch of salt and blend everything together thoroughly.

Freeze.....

Lucky you if you have an ice cream maker - just follow the manufacturer's instructions.

If you don't, there's some work involved - every time the yogurt is nearly set, whiz it in the mixie. And mash it with the back of a spoon every two hours.

I know how difficult it is to not just sit and eat it up - I had Terradaze ask me so many times if we could (at last) eat it! However, I wanted the consistency to be just right - soft and creamy- and so, I processed it 6 times before I was happy with the consistency.


To get the swirl pattern, when the yogurt is half frozen, add the reserved strawberry sauce to it in three additions and gently stir in with a skewer after each addition to create a marbled effect - doesn't it look absolutely wonderful?




Let it set and without any further ado, serve as soon as it sets.

Notes:
This frozen yogurt is best eaten as soon as it sets. If not, then take it out of the freezer and let it soften for about 5 mins before serving.
And much as I hate to say this, full fat yogurt and cream with give better results and faster!

This is my entry for My Favourite Things - Frozen Desserts that I am guest hosting, a lovely event conceived by Bindiya.


Have you made you favourite FROZEN DESSERT yet? Yes? Send it over soon :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Creamy Egg Curry

Remember that ad "khana meri jaan ande hi ande", umm...well, egging people to have eggs?

Well, I for one, have never needed any encouragement to have eggs. I can have them in any form hard boiled, half boiled, scrambled, omlettes, poached, in curries, as finger food - well, pretty much in any form other than raw! Terradaze too shares my love for eggs and so I have in my repertoire plenty of ways to cook up eggs.

Tch tch...I can hear some of you say. Don't you know Aqua, eggs aren't entirely good for you?
Well, it seems that the jury is still out on this issue. And while too much of anything isn't good for you, the fact still remains that eggs are a great source of nutrition. I do limit our weekly egg intake to no more than 3 eggs and buy the fancy low cholesterol, omega 3+6 eggs.

It seems, however, that we didn't pass on the 'love eggs' gene to our lil' one. She dislikes eggs and no amount of enticing, cajoling, pleading, bribing or threatening will make her eat them EXCEPT for this egg curry!



Egg curry (in milk)

Ingredients:

Eggs - 4 , hard boiled and shelled
Onion - 1 small, grated
Ginger and garlic paste - 1 tsp each
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves - 1 1/2 tsp, finely chopped
Low Fat Milk - 250 ml
Cornflour - 1 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon - 1"inch stick
Cloves - 5 nos
Green chilli* - 1
Red chilli flakes* - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste

Method:

Slice the eggs into two.
Blend the cornflour in some water and set aside.

Heat oil, add the cinnamon and cloves followed by the ginger garlic pastes. Fry until fragrant. Next, add the green chilli and the onion and saute till pink. Add the turmeric powder, red chilli flakes, salt and sugar and stir for half a minute.

Pour the milk and bring to a boil, simmer for a further 5 mins. Add the cornflour paste and let the gravy thicken. Finally, add the eggs and the coriander and simmer for another 2 minutes. Add some water if you want your curry to be thinner.

Serve hot with steamed rice.


Notes:
1. If making for kids, don't add the chilli and the red chilli flakes. Normally, I set some curry aside for my daughter and then add the chilli to the rest and bring it to a boil.
2. You can vary this curry a lot - add coconut milk or even butter milk in place of normal milk.
3. Instead of eggs, try making this with baby potatoes or baby corn or even cauliflower - tastes great!


Off this goes to Monthly Mingle, an event started by Meeta, being hosted this month by Srivalli who is focussing this month on Kids Lunches.


Also sending this to Meetsudeshna's Event for Eggs.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thank you :))

It is high time I acknowledged these....



Navita gave me my first award. Thanks Navita :)



Yasmeen and Vidhya passed me this lovely award. Thank you very much ladies!



AnuSriram gave me this one. Thanks Anu





Very honoured, Vidhya, to receive this award from you!

I would like to pass these awards to all my fellow bloggers who make me want to keep blogging.
This incidentally marks my 50th post. Blogging, I have discovered, is not as easy as it sounds. It takes passion, effort and above all else, a lot of emotional involvement.
But most importantly, it takes the readers - no blog can thrive without readers.
Therefore, believe me when I say this, all my fellow bloggers, it is your support in the form of visits and feedback that makes the blogging effort totally worth the time and emotional involvement that I put into my blog. Without you, I would never have reached even 50 posts!

So, a big THANK YOU to everyone of you who come here and leave their footsteps. I really do value it! I hope to keep seeing you often and I hope to make your trip here worthwhile.
Aqua

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mutter Paneer - Peas and Cottage Cheese Curry

Come winter and the markets would be flooded with what the vegetable vendors called "delli walle mutter" (green peas from Delhi). The Delhi green peas were indeed very sweet and tender, we used to love eating them straight out of the pod!

My mum would make lovely peas patties - one December when we had the family New Years party at our place, we pestered mum to include that in the menu. Now, shelling enough peas to make patties for a huge family of 23 was no easy task and we - a gang of 6 cousins - assured her that we would help.

Of course (and needless to say), in a short time, none of us were shelling the peas - someone found a worm in a pod and put it on another's neck, fights erupted and the group broke away. But the peas did get shelled (courtesy mum and aunts) and the patties duly devoured by the ones who demanded them.

It's been years since I have even laid my eyes on green peas in pods, the frozen ones suit me just fine! And my kitchen is incomplete with them frozen green peas and frozen paneer, they come in very handy especially when I am caught with no veggies!



Mutter Paneer is something I make very often. This version results in a very creamy gravy without any cream, very restaurant - like without the calories.
Ingredients:

Peas - 1 cup
Paneer - 1/3 cup
Onion - 2 medium sized, chopped
Ginger and Garlic paste - 1 tsp each
Tomato - 1 large, chopped
Cashewnut powder - 2 - 3 tbsp
Low Fat Milk - about 100 ml
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (or to taste)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seed powder - 1 tsp
Coriander seed powder - 1 tsp
Kitchen king masala - 1 1/2 tsp (I use Everest Kitchen King masala)
Kasoori methi - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

Method:

In a pan, dry roast the kasoori methi and crush it to a fine powder. Set aside.

Heat oil and fry the ginger garlic paste till fragrant. Next, saute the onion till it turns pink. Then add the chopped tomato and fry till the tomatoes become mushy.

Grind the above to a fine paste, using some milk to assist in the blending.

Return the paste to the pan and add the cashew nut powder. Stirring constantly, fry the paste till the oil separates.

Add all the dry masalas, salt and sugar and fry for a further 2 mins.

Then, add the peas, the milk and some water and cook for about 5 mins. Finally, add the paneer and the kasoori methi and cook for a further 5 min - add water depending on how thick you want the gravy to be.

Serve hot with rotis/naans or jeera rice.
Let's Go Nuts: Cashewnuts is being hosted by Poornima this month, so cook with cashews and send it to her by April 30! Needless to say, this is my entry to the event.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Announcing : MY FAVOURITE THINGS EVENT - Frozen Desserts

Thank You Bindiya, for entrusting me with hosting My Favourite Things this month!

(if any one of you would like to host this lovely event and showcase your favourite food, drop a mail to Bindiya at bindiyasingh7(at)gmail(dot)com)

Deciding the theme for this one wasn't easy - when it comes to food, there are just too many things I really like. But this event - and a fabulous one at that - is about that one favourite thing. So how was I to decide that one favourite thing?

Well it is like this - I have a huge sweet tooth. And if I were really, really hungry and had to choose either a full platter of food or a small portion of some dessert, I would still choose the dessert, preferably, ice cream! Yeah, no doubt about it, it is my favourite thing!

Share my love for ice creams? Oh yes, I see you nodding vigorously!

© Mike Cassell Dreamstime.com


So join me in this month's My Favourite Things and make your favourite FROZEN DESSERT.....bring in those ice creams, gelatos, sorbets, frozen yoghurts, kulfis , ice kachangs, ice cream cakes......drool.....that is some variety there!

Some guidelines for participation:

1. Make your favourite FROZEN DESSERT and post it in your blog between April 1 - April 30, 2009.


2. Please do not re-post archived posts for this event - after all summer is here, there's no better time to make and enjoy FROZEN DESSERTS!!

Still cold weather, some said. Oh but the pleasure of eating Frozen Desserts in cold weather is something else. I'm thinking ice cream with hot apple pie or a warm brownie or in a cup of hot espresso!

3. Link your post to this announcement and Bindiya's My Favourite Things announcement on her blog.

4. Mail your entry to servedwithlove.aquadaze(at)gmail(dot)com with the following details:

Name of the frozen dessert
Name of your blog
URL of the post
A picture of your entry

5. Do use the logo wherever possible, though this is optional.

6. Non bloggers, please do share your frozen desserts with us, just mail me the recipe and a picture at the above address.


7. Multiple entries are more than welcome!!

So, do rush in your frozen desserts really soon - I am greedily waiting to slurp all your lovely FROZEN DESSERTS!!





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

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