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:


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


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) 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.


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


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)


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


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).



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


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!!


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


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.


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

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 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.


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


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).

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

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